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´╗┐Title: Before Adam
Author: London, Jack, 1876-1916
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Before Adam" ***

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BEFORE ADAM

by Jack London

1906



"These are our ancestors, and their history is our history. Remember
that as surely as we one day swung down out of the trees and walked
upright, just as surely, on a far earlier day, did we crawl up out of
the sea and achieve our first adventure on land."



CHAPTER I


Pictures! Pictures! Pictures! Often, before I learned, did I wonder
whence came the multitudes of pictures that thronged my dreams; for
they were pictures the like of which I had never seen in real wake-a-day
life. They tormented my childhood, making of my dreams a procession of
nightmares and a little later convincing me that I was different from my
kind, a creature unnatural and accursed.

In my days only did I attain any measure of happiness. My nights marked
the reign of fear--and such fear! I make bold to state that no man of
all the men who walk the earth with me ever suffer fear of like kind and
degree. For my fear is the fear of long ago, the fear that was rampant
in the Younger World, and in the youth of the Younger World. In
short, the fear that reigned supreme in that period known as the
Mid-Pleistocene.

What do I mean? I see explanation is necessary before I can tell you
of the substance of my dreams. Otherwise, little could you know of the
meaning of the things I know so well. As I write this, all the
beings and happenings of that other world rise up before me in vast
phantasmagoria, and I know that to you they would be rhymeless and
reasonless.

What to you the friendship of Lop-Ear, the warm lure of the Swift One,
the lust and the atavism of Red-Eye? A screaming incoherence and no
more. And a screaming incoherence, likewise, the doings of the Fire
People and the Tree People, and the gibbering councils of the horde. For
you know not the peace of the cool caves in the cliffs, the circus of
the drinking-places at the end of the day. You have never felt the bite
of the morning wind in the tree-tops, nor is the taste of young bark
sweet in your mouth.

It would be better, I dare say, for you to make your approach, as I made
mine, through my childhood. As a boy I was very like other boys--in my
waking hours. It was in my sleep that I was different. From my earliest
recollection my sleep was a period of terror. Rarely were my dreams
tinctured with happiness. As a rule, they were stuffed with fear--and
with a fear so strange and alien that it had no ponderable quality.
No fear that I experienced in my waking life resembled the fear that
possessed me in my sleep. It was of a quality and kind that transcended
all my experiences.

For instance, I was a city boy, a city child, rather, to whom the
country was an unexplored domain. Yet I never dreamed of cities; nor did
a house ever occur in any of my dreams. Nor, for that matter, did any of
my human kind ever break through the wall of my sleep. I, who had seen
trees only in parks and illustrated books, wandered in my sleep through
interminable forests. And further, these dream trees were not a mere
blur on my vision. They were sharp and distinct. I was on terms of
practised intimacy with them. I saw every branch and twig; I saw and
knew every different leaf.

Well do I remember the first time in my waking life that I saw an oak
tree. As I looked at the leaves and branches and gnarls, it came to me
with distressing vividness that I had seen that same kind of tree many
and countless times in my sleep. So I was not surprised, still later on
in my life, to recognize instantly, the first time I saw them, trees
such as the spruce, the yew, the birch, and the laurel. I had seen them
all before, and was seeing them even then, every night, in my sleep.

This, as you have already discerned, violates the first law of dreaming,
namely, that in one's dreams one sees only what he has seen in his
waking life, or combinations of the things he has seen in his waking
life. But all my dreams violated this law. In my dreams I never saw
ANYTHING of which I had knowledge in my waking life. My dream life
and my waking life were lives apart, with not one thing in common save
myself. I was the connecting link that somehow lived both lives.

Early in my childhood I learned that nuts came from the grocer, berries
from the fruit man; but before ever that knowledge was mine, in my
dreams I picked nuts from trees, or gathered them and ate them from the
ground underneath trees, and in the same way I ate berries from vines
and bushes. This was beyond any experience of mine.

I shall never forget the first time I saw blueberries served on the
table. I had never seen blueberries before, and yet, at the sight
of them, there leaped up in my mind memories of dreams wherein I had
wandered through swampy land eating my fill of them. My mother set
before me a dish of the berries. I filled my spoon, but before I raised
it to my mouth I knew just how they would taste. Nor was I disappointed.
It was the same tang that I had tasted a thousand times in my sleep.

Snakes? Long before I had heard of the existence of snakes, I was
tormented by them in my sleep. They lurked for me in the forest glades;
leaped up, striking, under my feet; squirmed off through the dry grass
or across naked patches of rock; or pursued me into the tree-tops,
encircling the trunks with their great shining bodies, driving me higher
and higher or farther and farther out on swaying and crackling branches,
the ground a dizzy distance beneath me. Snakes!--with their forked
tongues, their beady eyes and glittering scales, their hissing and their
rattling--did I not already know them far too well on that day of my
first circus when I saw the snake-charmer lift them up?

They were old friends of mine, enemies rather, that peopled my nights
with fear.

Ah, those endless forests, and their horror-haunted gloom! For what
eternities have I wandered through them, a timid, hunted creature,
starting at the least sound, frightened of my own shadow, keyed-up, ever
alert and vigilant, ready on the instant to dash away in mad flight for
my life. For I was the prey of all manner of fierce life that dwelt
in the forest, and it was in ecstasies of fear that I fled before the
hunting monsters.

When I was five years old I went to my first circus. I came home from
it sick--but not from peanuts and pink lemonade. Let me tell you. As we
entered the animal tent, a hoarse roaring shook the air. I tore my hand
loose from my father's and dashed wildly back through the entrance. I
collided with people, fell down; and all the time I was screaming with
terror. My father caught me and soothed me. He pointed to the crowd of
people, all careless of the roaring, and cheered me with assurances of
safety.

Nevertheless, it was in fear and trembling, and with much encouragement
on his part, that I at last approached the lion's cage. Ah, I knew him
on the instant. The beast! The terrible one! And on my inner vision
flashed the memories of my dreams,--the midday sun shining on tall
grass, the wild bull grazing quietly, the sudden parting of the grass
before the swift rush of the tawny one, his leap to the bull's back, the
crashing and the bellowing, and the crunch crunch of bones; or again,
the cool quiet of the water-hole, the wild horse up to his knees and
drinking softly, and then the tawny one--always the tawny one!--the
leap, the screaming and the splashing of the horse, and the crunch
crunch of bones; and yet again, the sombre twilight and the sad silence
of the end of day, and then the great full-throated roar, sudden, like
a trump of doom, and swift upon it the insane shrieking and chattering
among the trees, and I, too, am trembling with fear and am one of the
many shrieking and chattering among the trees.

At the sight of him, helpless, within the bars of his cage, I became
enraged. I gritted my teeth at him, danced up and down, screaming an
incoherent mockery and making antic faces. He responded, rushing against
the bars and roaring back at me his impotent wrath. Ah, he knew me, too,
and the sounds I made were the sounds of old time and intelligible to
him.

My parents were frightened. "The child is ill," said my mother. "He is
hysterical," said my father. I never told them, and they never knew.
Already had I developed reticence concerning this quality of mine, this
semi-disassociation of personality as I think I am justified in calling
it.

I saw the snake-charmer, and no more of the circus did I see that night.
I was taken home, nervous and overwrought, sick with the invasion of my
real life by that other life of my dreams.

I have mentioned my reticence. Only once did I confide the strangeness
of it all to another. He was a boy--my chum; and we were eight years
old. From my dreams I reconstructed for him pictures of that vanished
world in which I do believe I once lived. I told him of the terrors of
that early time, of Lop-Ear and the pranks we played, of the gibbering
councils, and of the Fire People and their squatting places.

He laughed at me, and jeered, and told me tales of ghosts and of the
dead that walk at night. But mostly did he laugh at my feeble fancy.
I told him more, and he laughed the harder. I swore in all earnestness
that these things were so, and he began to look upon me queerly. Also,
he gave amazing garblings of my tales to our playmates, until all began
to look upon me queerly.

It was a bitter experience, but I learned my lesson. I was different
from my kind. I was abnormal with something they could not understand,
and the telling of which would cause only misunderstanding. When the
stories of ghosts and goblins went around, I kept quiet. I smiled grimly
to myself. I thought of my nights of fear, and knew that mine were the
real things--real as life itself, not attenuated vapors and surmised
shadows.

For me no terrors resided in the thought of bugaboos and wicked ogres.
The fall through leafy branches and the dizzy heights; the snakes that
struck at me as I dodged and leaped away in chattering flight; the wild
dogs that hunted me across the open spaces to the timber--these were
terrors concrete and actual, happenings and not imaginings, things of
the living flesh and of sweat and blood. Ogres and bugaboos and I had
been happy bed-fellows, compared with these terrors that made their bed
with me throughout my childhood, and that still bed with me, now, as I
write this, full of years.



CHAPTER II


I have said that in my dreams I never saw a human being. Of this fact I
became aware very early, and felt poignantly the lack of my own kind. As
a very little child, even, I had a feeling, in the midst of the horror
of my dreaming, that if I could find but one man, only one human, I
should be saved from my dreaming, that I should be surrounded no more
by haunting terrors. This thought obsessed me every night of my life for
years--if only I could find that one human and be saved!

I must iterate that I had this thought in the midst of my dreaming,
and I take it as an evidence of the merging of my two personalities, as
evidence of a point of contact between the two disassociated parts of
me. My dream personality lived in the long ago, before ever man, as we
know him, came to be; and my other and wake-a-day personality projected
itself, to the extent of the knowledge of man's existence, into the
substance of my dreams.

Perhaps the psychologists of the book will find fault with my way of
using the phrase, "disassociation of personality." I know their use
of it, yet am compelled to use it in my own way in default of a better
phrase. I take shelter behind the inadequacy of the English language.
And now to the explanation of my use, or misuse, of the phrase.

It was not till I was a young man, at college, that I got any clew to
the significance of my dreams, and to the cause of them. Up to that time
they had been meaningless and without apparent causation. But at college
I discovered evolution and psychology, and learned the explanation of
various strange mental states and experiences. For instance, there was
the falling-through-space dream--the commonest dream experience, one
practically known, by first-hand experience, to all men.

This, my professor told me, was a racial memory. It dated back to our
remote ancestors who lived in trees. With them, being tree-dwellers, the
liability of falling was an ever-present menace. Many lost their lives
that way; all of them experienced terrible falls, saving themselves by
clutching branches as they fell toward the ground.

Now a terrible fall, averted in such fashion, was productive of shock.
Such shock was productive of molecular changes in the cerebral cells.
These molecular changes were transmitted to the cerebral cells of
progeny, became, in short, racial memories. Thus, when you and I,
asleep or dozing off to sleep, fall through space and awake to sickening
consciousness just before we strike, we are merely remembering what
happened to our arboreal ancestors, and which has been stamped by
cerebral changes into the heredity of the race.

There is nothing strange in this, any more than there is anything
strange in an instinct. An instinct is merely a habit that is stamped
into the stuff of our heredity, that is all. It will be noted, in
passing, that in this falling dream which is so familiar to you and
me and all of us, we never strike bottom. To strike bottom would be
destruction. Those of our arboreal ancestors who struck bottom died
forthwith. True, the shock of their fall was communicated to the
cerebral cells, but they died immediately, before they could have
progeny. You and I are descended from those that did not strike bottom;
that is why you and I, in our dreams, never strike bottom.

And now we come to disassociation of personality. We never have this
sense of falling when we are wide awake. Our wake-a-day personality has
no experience of it. Then--and here the argument is irresistible--it
must be another and distinct personality that falls when we are asleep,
and that has had experience of such falling--that has, in short, a
memory of past-day race experiences, just as our wake-a-day personality
has a memory of our wake-a-day experiences.

It was at this stage in my reasoning that I began to see the light. And
quickly the light burst upon me with dazzling brightness, illuminating
and explaining all that had been weird and uncanny and unnaturally
impossible in my dream experiences. In my sleep it was not my wake-a-day
personality that took charge of me; it was another and distinct
personality, possessing a new and totally different fund of experiences,
and, to the point of my dreaming, possessing memories of those totally
different experiences.

What was this personality? When had it itself lived a wake-a-day life on
this planet in order to collect this fund of strange experiences? These
were questions that my dreams themselves answered. He lived in the
long ago, when the world was young, in that period that we call the
Mid-Pleistocene. He fell from the trees but did not strike bottom. He
gibbered with fear at the roaring of the lions. He was pursued by beasts
of prey, struck at by deadly snakes. He chattered with his kind in
council, and he received rough usage at the hands of the Fire People in
the day that he fled before them.

But, I hear you objecting, why is it that these racial memories are not
ours as well, seeing that we have a vague other-personality that falls
through space while we sleep?

And I may answer with another question. Why is a two-headed calf? And my
own answer to this is that it is a freak. And so I answer your question.
I have this other-personality and these complete racial memories because
I am a freak.

But let me be more explicit.

The commonest race memory we have is the falling-through-space dream.
This other-personality is very vague. About the only memory it has
is that of falling. But many of us have sharper, more distinct
other-personalities. Many of us have the flying dream, the
pursuing-monster dream, color dreams, suffocation dreams, and the
reptile and vermin dreams. In short, while this other-personality is
vestigial in all of us, in some of us it is almost obliterated, while
in others of us it is more pronounced. Some of us have stronger and
completer race memories than others.

It is all a question of varying degree of possession of the
other-personality. In myself, the degree of possession is enormous. My
other-personality is almost equal in power with my own personality. And
in this matter I am, as I said, a freak--a freak of heredity.

I do believe that it is the possession of this other-personality--but
not so strong a one as mine--that has in some few others given rise to
belief in personal reincarnation experiences. It is very plausible to
such people, a most convincing hypothesis. When they have visions of
scenes they have never seen in the flesh, memories of acts and events
dating back in time, the simplest explanation is that they have lived
before.

But they make the mistake of ignoring their own duality. They do
not recognize their other-personality. They think it is their own
personality, that they have only one personality; and from such a
premise they can conclude only that they have lived previous lives.

But they are wrong. It is not reincarnation. I have visions of myself
roaming through the forests of the Younger World; and yet it is not
myself that I see but one that is only remotely a part of me, as my
father and my grandfather are parts of me less remote. This other-self
of mine is an ancestor, a progenitor of my progenitors in the early
line of my race, himself the progeny of a line that long before his time
developed fingers and toes and climbed up into the trees.

I must again, at the risk of boring, repeat that I am, in this one
thing, to be considered a freak. Not alone do I possess racial memory
to an enormous extent, but I possess the memories of one particular and
far-removed progenitor. And yet, while this is most unusual, there is
nothing over-remarkable about it.

Follow my reasoning. An instinct is a racial memory. Very good. Then you
and I and all of us receive these memories from our fathers and mothers,
as they received them from their fathers and mothers. Therefore there
must be a medium whereby these memories are transmitted from generation
to generation. This medium is what Weismann terms the "germplasm." It
carries the memories of the whole evolution of the race. These memories
are dim and confused, and many of them are lost. But some strains
of germplasm carry an excessive freightage of memories--are, to be
scientific, more atavistic than other strains; and such a strain is
mine. I am a freak of heredity, an atavistic nightmare--call me what you
will; but here I am, real and alive, eating three hearty meals a day,
and what are you going to do about it?

And now, before I take up my tale, I want to anticipate the doubting
Thomases of psychology, who are prone to scoff, and who would otherwise
surely say that the coherence of my dreams is due to overstudy and the
subconscious projection of my knowledge of evolution into my dreams. In
the first place, I have never been a zealous student. I graduated last
of my class. I cared more for athletics, and--there is no reason I
should not confess it--more for billiards.

Further, I had no knowledge of evolution until I was at college, whereas
in my childhood and youth I had already lived in my dreams all the
details of that other, long-ago life. I will say, however, that these
details were mixed and incoherent until I came to know the science of
evolution. Evolution was the key. It gave the explanation, gave sanity
to the pranks of this atavistic brain of mine that, modern and normal,
harked back to a past so remote as to be contemporaneous with the raw
beginnings of mankind.

For in this past I know of, man, as we to-day know him, did not exist.
It was in the period of his becoming that I must have lived and had my
being.



CHAPTER III


The commonest dream of my early childhood was something like this: It
seemed that I was very small and that I lay curled up in a sort of nest
of twigs and boughs. Sometimes I was lying on my back. In this position
it seemed that I spent many hours, watching the play of sunlight on
the foliage and the stirring of the leaves by the wind. Often the nest
itself moved back and forth when the wind was strong.

But always, while so lying in the nest, I was mastered as of tremendous
space beneath me. I never saw it, I never peered over the edge of the
nest to see; but I KNEW and feared that space that lurked just beneath
me and that ever threatened me like a maw of some all-devouring monster.

This dream, in which I was quiescent and which was more like a
condition than an experience of action, I dreamed very often in my early
childhood. But suddenly, there would rush into the very midst of it
strange forms and ferocious happenings, the thunder and crashing of
storm, or unfamiliar landscapes such as in my wake-a-day life I had
never seen. The result was confusion and nightmare. I could comprehend
nothing of it. There was no logic of sequence.

You see, I did not dream consecutively. One moment I was a wee babe of
the Younger World lying in my tree nest; the next moment I was a grown
man of the Younger World locked in combat with the hideous Red-Eye; and
the next moment I was creeping carefully down to the water-hole in the
heat of the day. Events, years apart in their occurrence in the Younger
World, occurred with me within the space of several minutes, or seconds.

It was all a jumble, but this jumble I shall not inflict upon you. It
was not until I was a young man and had dreamed many thousand times,
that everything straightened out and became clear and plain. Then it was
that I got the clew of time, and was able to piece together events
and actions in their proper order. Thus was I able to reconstruct the
vanished Younger World as it was at the time I lived in it--or at the
time my other-self lived in it. The distinction does not matter; for
I, too, the modern man, have gone back and lived that early life in the
company of my other-self.

For your convenience, since this is to be no sociological screed, I
shall frame together the different events into a comprehensive story.
For there is a certain thread of continuity and happening that runs
through all the dreams. There is my friendship with Lop-Ear, for
instance. Also, there is the enmity of Red-Eye, and the love of the
Swift One. Taking it all in all, a fairly coherent and interesting story
I am sure you will agree.

I do not remember much of my mother. Possibly the earliest recollection
I have of her--and certainly the sharpest--is the following: It seemed I
was lying on the ground. I was somewhat older than during the nest days,
but still helpless. I rolled about in the dry leaves, playing with them
and making crooning, rasping noises in my throat. The sun shone warmly
and I was happy, and comfortable. I was in a little open space. Around
me, on all sides, were bushes and fern-like growths, and overhead and
all about were the trunks and branches of forest trees.

Suddenly I heard a sound. I sat upright and listened. I made no
movement. The little noises died down in my throat, and I sat as one
petrified. The sound drew closer. It was like the grunt of a pig. Then
I began to hear the sounds caused by the moving of a body through the
brush. Next I saw the ferns agitated by the passage of the body. Then
the ferns parted, and I saw gleaming eyes, a long snout, and white
tusks.

It was a wild boar. He peered at me curiously. He grunted once or twice
and shifted his weight from one foreleg to the other, at the same time
moving his head from side to side and swaying the ferns. Still I sat as
one petrified, my eyes unblinking as I stared at him, fear eating at my
heart.

It seemed that this movelessness and silence on my part was what was
expected of me. I was not to cry out in the face of fear. It was a
dictate of instinct. And so I sat there and waited for I knew not what.
The boar thrust the ferns aside and stepped into the open. The curiosity
went out of his eyes, and they gleamed cruelly. He tossed his head at me
threateningly and advanced a step. This he did again, and yet again.

Then I screamed...or shrieked--I cannot describe it, but it was a
shrill and terrible cry. And it seems that it, too, at this stage of
the proceedings, was the thing expected of me. From not far away came an
answering cry. My sounds seemed momentarily to disconcert the boar, and
while he halted and shifted his weight with indecision, an apparition
burst upon us.

She was like a large orangutan, my mother, or like a chimpanzee, and
yet, in sharp and definite ways, quite different. She was heavier of
build than they, and had less hair. Her arms were not so long, and her
legs were stouter. She wore no clothes--only her natural hair. And I can
tell you she was a fury when she was excited.

And like a fury she dashed upon the scene. She was gritting her teeth,
making frightful grimaces, snarling, uttering sharp and continuous
cries that sounded like "kh-ah! kh-ah!" So sudden and formidable was her
appearance that the boar involuntarily bunched himself together on
the defensive and bristled as she swerved toward him. Then she swerved
toward me. She had quite taken the breath out of him. I knew just what
to do in that moment of time she had gained. I leaped to meet her,
catching her about the waist and holding on hand and foot--yes, by my
feet; I could hold on by them as readily as by my hands. I could feel
in my tense grip the pull of the hair as her skin and her muscles moved
beneath with her efforts.

As I say, I leaped to meet her, and on the instant she leaped straight
up into the air, catching an overhanging branch with her hands. The next
instant, with clashing tusks, the boar drove past underneath. He had
recovered from his surprise and sprung forward, emitting a squeal that
was almost a trumpeting. At any rate it was a call, for it was
followed by the rushing of bodies through the ferns and brush from all
directions.

From every side wild hogs dashed into the open space--a score of them.
But my mother swung over the top of a thick limb, a dozen feet from the
ground, and, still holding on to her, we perched there in safety. She
was very excited. She chattered and screamed, and scolded down at the
bristling, tooth-gnashing circle that had gathered beneath. I, too,
trembling, peered down at the angry beasts and did my best to imitate my
mother's cries.

From the distance came similar cries, only pitched deeper, into a sort
of roaring bass. These grew momentarily louder, and soon I saw him
approaching, my father--at least, by all the evidence of the times, I am
driven to conclude that he was my father.

He was not an extremely prepossessing father, as fathers go. He seemed
half man, and half ape, and yet not ape, and not yet man. I fail to
describe him. There is nothing like him to-day on the earth, under the
earth, nor in the earth. He was a large man in his day, and he must have
weighed all of a hundred and thirty pounds. His face was broad and flat,
and the eyebrows over-hung the eyes. The eyes themselves were small,
deep-set, and close together. He had practically no nose at all. It was
squat and broad, apparently with-out any bridge, while the nostrils were
like two holes in the face, opening outward instead of down.

The forehead slanted back from the eyes, and the hair began right at the
eyes and ran up over the head. The head itself was preposterously small
and was supported on an equally preposterous, thick, short neck.

There was an elemental economy about his body--as was there about all
our bodies. The chest was deep, it is true, cavernously deep; but
there were no full-swelling muscles, no wide-spreading shoulders,
no clean-limbed straightness, no generous symmetry of outline. It
represented strength, that body of my father's, strength without beauty;
ferocious, primordial strength, made to clutch and gripe and rend and
destroy.

His hips were thin; and the legs, lean and hairy, were crooked and
stringy-muscled. In fact, my father's legs were more like arms. They
were twisted and gnarly, and with scarcely the semblance of the full
meaty calf such as graces your leg and mine. I remember he could not
walk on the flat of his foot. This was because it was a prehensile foot,
more like a hand than a foot. The great toe, instead of being in line
with the other toes, opposed them, like a thumb, and its opposition to
the other toes was what enabled him to get a grip with his foot. This
was why he could not walk on the flat of his foot.

But his appearance was no more unusual than the manner of his coming,
there to my mother and me as we perched above the angry wild pigs. He
came through the trees, leaping from limb to limb and from tree to tree;
and he came swiftly. I can see him now, in my wake-a-day life, as I
write this, swinging along through the trees, a four-handed, hairy
creature, howling with rage, pausing now and again to beat his chest
with his clenched fist, leaping ten-and-fifteen-foot gaps, catching a
branch with one hand and swinging on across another gap to catch with
his other hand and go on, never hesitating, never at a loss as to how to
proceed on his arboreal way.

And as I watched him I felt in my own being, in my very muscles
themselves, the surge and thrill of desire to go leaping from bough to
bough; and I felt also the guarantee of the latent power in that being
and in those muscles of mine. And why not? Little boys watch their
fathers swing axes and fell trees, and feel in themselves that some day
they, too, will swing axes and fell trees. And so with me. The life that
was in me was constituted to do what my father did, and it whispered to
me secretly and ambitiously of aerial paths and forest flights.

At last my father joined us. He was extremely angry. I remember the
out-thrust of his protruding underlip as he glared down at the wild
pigs. He snarled something like a dog, and I remember that his eye-teeth
were large, like fangs, and that they impressed me tremendously.

His conduct served only the more to infuriate the pigs. He broke off
twigs and small branches and flung them down upon our enemies. He even
hung by one hand, tantalizingly just beyond reach, and mocked them as
they gnashed their tusks with impotent rage. Not content with this, he
broke off a stout branch, and, holding on with one hand and foot, jabbed
the infuriated beasts in the sides and whacked them across their noses.
Needless to state, my mother and I enjoyed the sport.

But one tires of all good things, and in the end, my father, chuckling
maliciously the while, led the way across the trees. Now it was that my
ambitions ebbed away, and I became timid, holding tightly to my mother
as she climbed and swung through space. I remember when the branch broke
with her weight. She had made a wide leap, and with the snap of the wood
I was overwhelmed with the sickening consciousness of falling through
space, the pair of us. The forest and the sunshine on the rustling
leaves vanished from my eyes. I had a fading glimpse of my father
abruptly arresting his progress to look, and then all was blackness.

The next moment I was awake, in my sheeted bed, sweating, trembling,
nauseated. The window was up, and a cool air was blowing through the
room. The night-lamp was burning calmly. And because of this I take it
that the wild pigs did not get us, that we never fetched bottom; else
I should not be here now, a thousand centuries after, to remember the
event.

And now put yourself in my place for a moment. Walk with me a bit in my
tender childhood, bed with me a night and imagine yourself dreaming such
incomprehensible horrors. Remember I was an inexperienced child. I had
never seen a wild boar in my life. For that matter I had never seen
a domesticated pig. The nearest approach to one that I had seen was
breakfast bacon sizzling in its fat. And yet here, real as life, wild
boars dashed through my dreams, and I, with fantastic parents, swung
through the lofty tree-spaces.

Do you wonder that I was frightened and oppressed by my nightmare-ridden
nights? I was accursed. And, worst of all, I was afraid to tell. I do
not know why, except that I had a feeling of guilt, though I knew no
better of what I was guilty. So it was, through long years, that I
suffered in silence, until I came to man's estate and learned the why
and wherefore of my dreams.



CHAPTER IV


There is one puzzling thing about these prehistoric memories of mine. It
is the vagueness of the time element. I lo not always know the order of
events;--or can I tell, between some events, whether one, two, or four
or five years have elapsed. I can only roughly tell the passage of time
by judging the changes in the appearance and pursuits of my fellows.

Also, I can apply the logic of events to the various happenings. For
instance, there is no doubt whatever that my mother and I were treed
by the wild pigs and fled and fell in the days before I made the
acquaintance of Lop-Ear, who became what I may call my boyhood chum. And
it is just as conclusive that between these two periods I must have left
my mother.

I have no memory of my father than the one I have given. Never, in
the years that followed, did he reappear. And from my knowledge of the
times, the only explanation possible lies in that he perished shortly
after the adventure with the wild pigs. That it must have been an
untimely end, there is no discussion. He was in full vigor, and only
sudden and violent death could have taken him off. But I know not
the manner of his going--whether he was drowned in the river, or was
swallowed by a snake, or went into the stomach of old Saber-Tooth, the
tiger, is beyond my knowledge.

For know that I remember only the things I saw myself, with my own eyes,
in those prehistoric days. If my mother knew my father's end, she never
told me. For that matter I doubt if she had a vocabulary adequate to
convey such information. Perhaps, all told, the Folk in that day had a
vocabulary of thirty or forty sounds.

I call them SOUNDS, rather than WORDS, because sounds they were
primarily. They had no fixed values, to be altered by adjectives and
adverbs. These latter were tools of speech not yet invented. Instead
of qualifying nouns or verbs by the use of adjectives and adverbs, we
qualified sounds by intonation, by changes in quantity and pitch,
by retarding and by accelerating. The length of time employed in the
utterance of a particular sound shaded its meaning.

We had no conjugation. One judged the tense by the context. We talked
only concrete things because we thought only concrete things. Also, we
depended largely on pantomime. The simplest abstraction was practically
beyond our thinking; and when one did happen to think one, he was hard
put to communicate it to his fellows. There were no sounds for it. He
was pressing beyond the limits of his vocabulary. If he invented sounds
for it, his fellows did not understand the sounds. Then it was that he
fell back on pantomime, illustrating the thought wherever possible and
at the same time repeating the new sound over and over again.

Thus language grew. By the few sounds we possessed we were enabled to
think a short distance beyond those sounds; then came the need for new
sounds wherewith to express the new thought. Sometimes, however, we
thought too long a distance in advance of our sounds, managed to achieve
abstractions (dim ones I grant), which we failed utterly to make known
to other folk. After all, language did not grow fast in that day.

Oh, believe me, we were amazingly simple. But we did know a lot that is
not known to-day. We could twitch our ears, prick them up and flatten
them down at will. And we could scratch between our shoulders with ease.
We could throw stones with our feet. I have done it many a time. And for
that matter, I could keep my knees straight, bend forward from the hips,
and touch, not the tips of my fingers, but the points of my elbows,
to the ground. And as for bird-nesting--well, I only wish the
twentieth-century boy could see us. But we made no collections of eggs.
We ate them.

I remember--but I out-run my story. First let me tell of Lop-Ear and our
friendship. Very early in my life, I separated from my mother. Possibly
this was because, after the death of my father, she took to herself a
second husband. I have few recollections of him, and they are not of the
best. He was a light fellow. There was no solidity to him. He was too
voluble. His infernal chattering worries me even now as I think of
it. His mind was too inconsequential to permit him to possess purpose.
Monkeys in their cages always remind me of him. He was monkeyish. That
is the best description I can give of him.

He hated me from the first. And I quickly learned to be afraid of him
and his malicious pranks. Whenever he came in sight I crept close to my
mother and clung to her. But I was growing older all the time, and it
was inevitable that I should from time to time stray from her, and stray
farther and farther. And these were the opportunities that the Chatterer
waited for. (I may as well explain that we bore no names in those days;
were not known by any name. For the sake of convenience I have myself
given names to the various Folk I was more closely in contact with,
and the "Chatterer" is the most fitting description I can find for that
precious stepfather of mine. As for me, I have named myself "Big-Tooth."
My eye-teeth were pronouncedly large.)

But to return to the Chatterer. He persistently terrorized me. He was
always pinching me and cuffing me, and on occasion he was not above
biting me. Often my mother interfered, and the way she made his fur
fly was a joy to see. But the result of all this was a beautiful and
unending family quarrel, in which I was the bone of contention.

No, my home-life was not happy. I smile to myself as I write the phrase.
Home-life! Home! I had no home in the modern sense of the term. My home
was an association, not a habitation. I lived in my mother's care, not
in a house. And my mother lived anywhere, so long as when night came she
was above the ground.

My mother was old-fashioned. She still clung to her trees. It is true,
the more progressive members of our horde lived in the caves above the
river. But my mother was suspicious and unprogressive. The trees were
good enough for her. Of course, we had one particular tree in which we
usually roosted, though we often roosted in other trees when nightfall
caught us. In a convenient fork was a sort of rude platform of twigs
and branches and creeping things. It was more like a huge bird-nest than
anything else, though it was a thousand times cruder in the weaving than
any bird-nest. But it had one feature that I have never seen attached to
any bird-nest, namely, a roof.

Oh, not a roof such as modern man makes! Nor a roof such as is made by
the lowest aborigines of to-day. It was infinitely more clumsy than the
clumsiest handiwork of man--of man as we know him. It was put together
in a casual, helter-skelter sort of way. Above the fork of the tree
whereon we rested was a pile of dead branches and brush. Four or five
adjacent forks held what I may term the various ridge-poles. These were
merely stout sticks an inch or so in diameter. On them rested the brush
and branches. These seemed to have been tossed on almost aimlessly.
There was no attempt at thatching. And I must confess that the roof
leaked miserably in a heavy rain.

But the Chatterer. He made home-life a burden for both my mother and
me--and by home-life I mean, not the leaky nest in the tree, but the
group-life of the three of us. He was most malicious in his persecution
of me. That was the one purpose to which he held steadfastly for longer
than five minutes. Also, as time went by, my mother was less eager in
her defence of me. I think, what of the continuous rows raised by the
Chatterer, that I must have become a nuisance to her. At any rate, the
situation went from bad to worse so rapidly that I should soon, of my
own volition, have left home. But the satisfaction of performing so
independent an act was denied me. Before I was ready to go, I was thrown
out. And I mean this literally.

The opportunity came to the Chatterer one day when I was alone in the
nest. My mother and the Chatterer had gone away together toward the
blueberry swamp. He must have planned the whole thing, for I heard him
returning alone through the forest, roaring with self-induced rage as he
came. Like all the men of our horde, when they were angry or were trying
to make themselves angry, he stopped now and again to hammer on his
chest with his fist.

I realized the helplessness of my situation, and crouched trembling in
the nest. The Chatterer came directly to the tree--I remember it was an
oak tree--and began to climb up. And he never ceased for a moment from
his infernal row. As I have said, our language was extremely meagre, and
he must have strained it by the variety of ways in which he informed me
of his undying hatred of me and of his intention there and then to have
it out with me.

As he climbed to the fork, I fled out the great horizontal limb. He
followed me, and out I went, farther and farther. At last I was out
amongst the small twigs and leaves. The Chatterer was ever a coward, and
greater always than any anger he ever worked up was his caution. He was
afraid to follow me out amongst the leaves and twigs. For that matter,
his greater weight would have crashed him through the foliage before he
could have got to me.

But it was not necessary for him to reach me, and well he knew it, the
scoundrel! With a malevolent expression on his face, his beady eyes
gleaming with cruel intelligence, he began teetering. Teetering!--and
with me out on the very edge of the bough, clutching at the twigs that
broke continually with my weight. Twenty feet beneath me was the earth.

Wildly and more--wildly he teetered, grinning at me his gloating hatred.
Then came the end. All four holds broke at the same time, and I fell,
back-downward, looking up at him, my hands and feet still clutching the
broken twigs. Luckily, there were no wild pigs under me, and my fall was
broken by the tough and springy bushes.

Usually, my falls destroy my dreams, the nervous shock being sufficient
to bridge the thousand centuries in an instant and hurl me wide awake
into my little bed, where, perchance, I lie sweating and trembling and
hear the cuckoo clock calling the hour in the hall. But this dream of my
leaving home I have had many times, and never yet have I been awakened
by it. Always do I crash, shrieking, down through the brush and fetch up
with a bump on the ground.

Scratched and bruised and whimpering, I lay where I had fallen. Peering
up through the bushes, I could see the Chatterer. He had set up a
demoniacal chant of joy and was keeping time to it with his teetering.
I quickly hushed my whimpering. I was no longer in the safety of the
trees, and I knew the danger I ran of bringing upon myself the hunting
animals by too audible an expression of my grief.

I remember, as my sobs died down, that I became interested in watching
the strange light-effects produced by partially opening and closing my
tear-wet eyelids. Then I began to investigate, and found that I was not
so very badly damaged by my fall. I had lost some hair and hide, here
and there; the sharp and jagged end of a broken branch had thrust fully
an inch into my forearm; and my right hip, which had borne the brunt
of my contact with the ground, was aching intolerably. But these, after
all, were only petty hurts. No bones were broken, and in those days the
flesh of man had finer healing qualities than it has to-day. Yet it
was a severe fall, for I limped with my injured hip for fully a week
afterward.

Next, as I lay in the bushes, there came upon me a feeling of
desolation, a consciousness that I was homeless. I made up my mind never
to return to my mother and the Chatterer. I would go far away through
the terrible forest, and find some tree for myself in which to roost. As
for food, I knew where to find it. For the last year at least I had
not been beholden to my mother for food. All she had furnished me was
protection and guidance.

I crawled softly out through the bushes. Once I looked back and saw the
Chatterer still chanting and teetering. It was not a pleasant sight. I
knew pretty well how to be cautious, and I was exceedingly careful on
this my first journey in the world.

I gave no thought as to where I was going. I had but one purpose, and
that was to go away beyond the reach of the Chatterer. I climbed into
the trees and wandered on amongst them for hours, passing from tree to
tree and never touching the ground. But I did not go in any particular
direction, nor did I travel steadily. It was my nature, as it was the
nature of all my folk, to be inconsequential. Besides, I was a mere
child, and I stopped a great deal to play by the way.

The events that befell me on my leaving home are very vague in my mind.
My dreams do not cover them. Much has my other-self forgotten, and
particularly at this very period. Nor have I been able to frame up the
various dreams so as to bridge the gap between my leaving the home-tree
and my arrival at the caves.

I remember that several times I came to open spaces. These I crossed in
great trepidation, descending to the ground and running at the top of my
speed. I remember that there were days of rain and days of sunshine, so
that I must have wandered alone for quite a time. I especially dream
of my misery in the rain, and of my sufferings from hunger and how I
appeased it. One very strong impression is of hunting little lizards on
the rocky top of an open knoll. They ran under the rocks, and most of
them escaped; but occasionally I turned over a stone and caught one. I
was frightened away from this knoll by snakes. They did not pursue
me. They were merely basking on flat rocks in the sun. But such was my
inherited fear of them that I fled as fast as if they had been after me.

Then I gnawed bitter bark from young trees. I remember vaguely the
eating of many green nuts, with soft shells and milky kernels. And I
remember most distinctly suffering from a stomach-ache. It may have been
caused by the green nuts, and maybe by the lizards. I do not know. But
I do know that I was fortunate in not being devoured during the several
hours I was knotted up on the ground with the colic.



CHAPTER V


My vision of the scene came abruptly, as I emerged from the forest. I
found myself on the edge of a large clear space. On one side of this
space rose up high bluffs. On the other side was the river. The earth
bank ran steeply down to the water, but here and there, in several
places, where at some time slides of earth had occurred, there were
run-ways. These were the drinking-places of the Folk that lived in the
caves.

And this was the main abiding-place of the Folk that I had chanced upon.
This was, I may say, by stretching the word, the village. My mother and
the Chatterer and I, and a few other simple bodies, were what might be
termed suburban residents. We were part of the horde, though we lived a
distance away from it. It was only a short distance, though it had taken
me, what of my wandering, all of a week to arrive. Had I come directly,
I could have covered the trip in an hour.

But to return. From the edge of the forest I saw the caves in the bluff,
the open space, and the run-ways to the drinking-places. And in the open
space I saw many of the Folk. I had been straying, alone and a child,
for a week. During that time I had seen not one of my kind. I had
lived in terror and desolation. And now, at the sight of my kind, I was
overcome with gladness, and I ran wildly toward them.

Then it was that a strange thing happened. Some one of the Folk saw
me and uttered a warning cry. On the instant, crying out with fear and
panic, the Folk fled away. Leaping and scrambling over the rocks, they
plunged into the mouths of the caves and disappeared...all but one, a
little baby, that had been dropped in the excitement close to the base
of the bluff. He was wailing dolefully. His mother dashed out; he sprang
to meet her and held on tightly as she scrambled back into the cave.

I was all alone. The populous open space had of a sudden become
deserted. I sat down forlornly and whimpered. I could not understand.
Why had the Folk run away from me? In later time, when I came to know
their ways, I was to learn. When they saw me dashing out of the forest
at top speed they concluded that I was being pursued by some hunting
animal. By my unceremonious approach I had stampeded them.

As I sat and watched the cave-mouths I became aware that the Folk were
watching me. Soon they were thrusting their heads out. A little later
they were calling back and forth to one another. In the hurry and
confusion it had happened that all had not gained their own caves. Some
of the young ones had sought refuge in other caves. The mothers did
not call for them by name, because that was an invention we had not yet
made. All were nameless. The mothers uttered querulous, anxious cries,
which were recognized by the young ones. Thus, had my mother been there
calling to me, I should have recognized her voice amongst the voices of
a thousand mothers, and in the same way would she have recognized mine
amongst a thousand.

This calling back and forth continued for some time, but they were too
cautious to come out of their caves and descend to the ground. Finally
one did come. He was destined to play a large part in my life, and
for that matter he already played a large part in the lives of all the
members of the horde. He it was whom I shall call Red-Eye in the pages
of this history--so called because of his inflamed eyes, the lids
being always red, and, by the peculiar effect they produced, seeming to
advertise the terrible savagery of him. The color of his soul was red.

He was a monster in all ways. Physically he was a giant. He must have
weighed one hundred and seventy pounds. He was the largest one of our
kind I ever saw. Nor did I ever see one of the Fire People so large
as he, nor one of the Tree People. Sometimes, when in the newspapers
I happen upon descriptions of our modern bruisers and prizefighters, I
wonder what chance the best of them would have had against him.

I am afraid not much of a chance. With one grip of his iron fingers
and a pull, he could have plucked a muscle, say a biceps, by the roots,
clear out of their bodies. A back-handed, loose blow of his fist could
have smashed their skulls like egg-shells. With a sweep of his wicked
feet (or hind-hands) he could have disembowelled them. A twist could
have broken their necks, and I know that with a single crunch of his
jaws he could have pierced, at the same moment, the great vein of the
throat in front and the spinal marrow at the back.

He could spring twenty feet horizontally from a sitting position. He was
abominably hairy. It was a matter of pride with us to be not very hairy.
But he was covered with hair all over, on the inside of the arms as well
as the outside, and even the ears themselves. The only places on him
where the hair did not grow were the soles of his hands and feet and
beneath his eyes. He was frightfully ugly, his ferocious grinning mouth
and huge down-hanging under-lip being but in harmony with his terrible
eyes.

This was Red-Eye. And right gingerly he crept out or his cave and
descended to the ground. Ignoring me, he proceeded to reconnoitre. He
bent forward from the hips as he walked; and so far forward did he bend,
and so long were his arms, that with every step he touched the knuckles
of his hands to the ground on either side of him. He was awkward in the
semi-erect position of walking that he assumed, and he really touched
his knuckles to the ground in order to balance himself. But oh, I tell
you he could run on all-fours! Now this was something at which we were
particularly awkward. Furthermore, it was a rare individual among us who
balanced himself with his knuckles when walking. Such an individual was
an atavism, and Red-Eye was an even greater atavism.

That is what he was--an atavism. We were in the process of changing our
tree-life to life on the ground. For many generations we had been going
through this change, and our bodies and carriage had likewise changed.
But Red-Eye had reverted to the more primitive tree-dwelling type.
Perforce, because he was born in our horde he stayed with us; but in
actuality he was an atavism and his place was elsewhere.

Very circumspect and very alert, he moved here and there about the open
space, peering through the vistas among the trees and trying to catch
a glimpse of the hunting animal that all suspected had pursued me.
And while he did this, taking no notice of me, the Folk crowded at the
cave-mouths and watched.

At last he evidently decided that there was no danger lurking about. He
was returning from the head of the run-way, from where he had taken a
peep down at the drinking-place. His course brought him near, but still
he did not notice me. He proceeded casually on his way until abreast of
me, and then, without warning and with incredible swiftness, he smote me
a buffet on the head. I was knocked backward fully a dozen feet before I
fetched up against the ground, and I remember, half-stunned, even as
the blow was struck, hearing the wild uproar of clucking and shrieking
laughter that arose from the caves. It was a great joke--at least in
that day; and right heartily the Folk appreciated it.

Thus was I received into the horde. Red-Eye paid no further attention
to me, and I was at liberty to whimper and sob to my heart's content.
Several of the women gathered curiously about me, and I recognized them.
I had encountered them the preceding year when my mother had taken me to
the hazelnut canyons.

But they quickly left me alone, being replaced by a dozen curious and
teasing youngsters. They formed a circle around me, pointing their
fingers, making faces, and poking and pinching me. I was frightened, and
for a time I endured them, then anger got the best of me and I sprang
tooth and nail upon the most audacious one of them--none other than
Lop-Ear himself. I have so named him because he could prick up only one
of his ears. The other ear always hung limp and without movement. Some
accident had injured the muscles and deprived him of the use of it.

He closed with me, and we went at it for all the world like a couple of
small boys fighting. We scratched and bit, pulled hair, clinched, and
threw each other down. I remember I succeeded in getting on him what in
my college days I learned was called a half-Nelson. This hold gave me
the decided advantage. But I did not enjoy it long. He twisted up one
leg, and with the foot (or hind-hand) made so savage an onslaught upon
my abdomen as to threaten to disembowel me. I had to release him in
order to save myself, and then we went at it again.

Lop-Ear was a year older than I, but I was several times angrier than
he, and in the end he took to his heels. I chased him across the open
and down a run-way to the river. But he was better acquainted with the
locality and ran along the edge of the water and up another run-way.
He cut diagonally across the open space and dashed into a wide-mouthed
cave.

Before I knew it, I had plunged after him into the darkness. The next
moment I was badly frightened. I had never been in a cave before. I
began to whimper and cry out. Lop-Ear chattered mockingly at me, and,
springing upon me unseen, tumbled me over. He did not risk a second
encounter, however, and took himself off. I was between him and the
entrance, and he did not pass me; yet he seemed to have gone away. I
listened, but could get no clew as to where he was. This puzzled me, and
when I regained the outside I sat down to watch.

He never came out of the entrance, of that I was certain; yet at the end
of several minutes he chuckled at my elbow. Again I ran after him, and
again he ran into the cave; but this time I stopped at the mouth. I
dropped back a short distance and watched. He did not come out, yet, as
before, he chuckled at my elbow and was chased by me a third time into
the cave.

This performance was repeated several times. Then I followed him into
the cave, where I searched vainly for him. I was curious. I could not
understand how he eluded me. Always he went into the cave, never did he
come out of it, yet always did he arrive there at my elbow and mock me.
Thus did our fight transform itself into a game of hide and seek.

All afternoon, with occasional intervals, we kept it up, and a playful,
friendly spirit arose between us. In the end, he did not run away from
me, and we sat together with our arms around each other. A little later
he disclosed the mystery of the wide-mouthed cave. Holding me by the
hand he led me inside. It connected by a narrow crevice with another
cave, and it was through this that we regained the open air.

We were now good friends. When the other young ones gathered around
to tease, he joined with me in attacking them; and so viciously did we
behave that before long I was let alone. Lop-Ear made me acquainted with
the village. There was little that he could tell me of conditions and
customs--he had not the necessary vocabulary; but by observing his
actions I learned much, and also he showed me places and things.

He took me up the open space, between the caves and the river, and into
the forest beyond, where, in a grassy place among the trees, we made a
meal of stringy-rooted carrots. After that we had a good drink at the
river and started up the run-way to the caves.

It was in the run-way that we came upon Red-Eye again. The first I knew,
Lop-Ear had shrunk away to one side and was crouching low against the
bank. Naturally and involuntarily, I imitated him. Then it was that I
looked to see the cause of his fear. It was Red-Eye, swaggering down the
centre of the run-way and scowling fiercely with his inflamed eyes. I
noticed that all the youngsters shrank away from him as we had done,
while the grown-ups regarded him with wary eyes when he drew near, and
stepped aside to give him the centre of the path.

As twilight came on, the open space was deserted. The Folk were seeking
the safety of the caves. Lop-Ear led the way to bed. High up the bluff
we climbed, higher than all the other caves, to a tiny crevice that
could not be seen from the ground. Into this Lop-Ear squeezed. I
followed with difficulty, so narrow was the entrance, and found myself
in a small rock-chamber. It was very low--not more than a couple of feet
in height, and possibly three feet by four in width and length. Here,
cuddled together in each other's arms, we slept out the night.



CHAPTER VI


While the more courageous of the youngsters played in and out of the
large-mouthed caves, I early learned that such caves were unoccupied.
No one slept in them at night. Only the crevice-mouthed caves were used,
the narrower the mouth the better. This was from fear of the preying
animals that made life a burden to us in those days and nights.

The first morning, after my night's sleep with Lop-Ear, I learned the
advantage of the narrow-mouthed caves. It was just daylight when old
Saber-Tooth, the tiger, walked into the open space. Two of the Folk were
already up. They made a rush for it. Whether they were panic-stricken,
or whether he was too close on their heels for them to attempt to
scramble up the bluff to the crevices, I do not know; but at any rate
they dashed into the wide-mouthed cave wherein Lop-Ear and I had played
the afternoon before.

What happened inside there was no way of telling, but it is fair to
conclude that the two Folk slipped through the connecting crevice into
the other cave. This crevice was too small to allow for the passage of
Saber-Tooth, and he came out the way he had gone in, unsatisfied and
angry. It was evident that his night's hunting had been unsuccessful and
that he had expected to make a meal off of us. He caught sight of the
two Folk at the other cave-mouth and sprang for them. Of course, they
darted through the passageway into the first cave. He emerged angrier
than ever and snarling.

Pandemonium broke loose amongst the rest of us. All up and down the
great bluff, we crowded the crevices and outside ledges, and we were
all chattering and shrieking in a thousand keys. And we were all making
faces--snarling faces; this was an instinct with us. We were as angry
as Saber-Tooth, though our anger was allied with fear. I remember that I
shrieked and made faces with the best of them. Not only did they set the
example, but I felt the urge from within me to do the same things they
were doing. My hair was bristling, and I was convulsed with a fierce,
unreasoning rage.

For some time old Saber-Tooth continued dashing in and out of first the
one cave and then the other. But the two Folk merely slipped back and
forth through the connecting crevice and eluded him. In the meantime the
rest of us up the bluff had proceeded to action. Every time he appeared
outside we pelted him with rocks. At first we merely dropped them on
him, but we soon began to whiz them down with the added force of our
muscles.

This bombardment drew Saber-Tooth's attention to us and made him angrier
than ever. He abandoned his pursuit of the two Folk and sprang up the
bluff toward the rest of us, clawing at the crumbling rock and snarling
as he clawed his upward way. At this awful sight, the last one of us
sought refuge inside our caves. I know this, because I peeped out and
saw the whole bluff-side deserted, save for Saber-Tooth, who had lost
his footing and was sliding and falling down.

I called out the cry of encouragement, and again the bluff was covered
by the screaming horde and the stones were falling faster than ever.
Saber-Tooth was frantic with rage. Time and again he assaulted the
bluff. Once he even gained the first crevice-entrances before he fell
back, but was unable to force his way inside. With each upward rush he
made, waves of fear surged over us. At first, at such times, most of us
dashed inside; but some remained outside to hammer him with stones, and
soon all of us remained outside and kept up the fusillade.

Never was so masterly a creature so completely baffled. It hurt his
pride terribly, thus to be outwitted by the small and tender Folk. He
stood on the ground and looked up at us, snarling, lashing his tail,
snapping at the stones that fell near to him. Once I whizzed down a
stone, and just at the right moment he looked up. It caught him full on
the end of his nose, and he went straight up in the air, all four feet
of him, roaring and caterwauling, what of the hurt and surprise.

He was beaten and he knew it. Recovering his dignity, he stalked out
solemnly from under the rain of stones. He stopped in the middle of the
open space and looked wistfully and hungrily back at us. He hated
to forego the meal, and we were just so much meat, cornered but
inaccessible. This sight of him started us to laughing. We laughed
derisively and uproariously, all of us. Now animals do not like mockery.
To be laughed at makes them angry. And in such fashion our laughter
affected Saber-Tooth. He turned with a roar and charged the bluff again.
This was what we wanted. The fight had become a game, and we took huge
delight in pelting him.

But this attack did not last long. He quickly recovered his common
sense, and besides, our missiles were shrewd to hurt. Vividly do I
recollect the vision of one bulging eye of his, swollen almost shut by
one of the stones we had thrown. And vividly do I retain the picture
of him as he stood on the edge of the forest whither he had finally
retreated. He was looking back at us, his writhing lips lifted clear
of the very roots of his huge fangs, his hair bristling and his tail
lashing. He gave one last snarl and slid from view among the trees.

And then such a chattering as went up. We swarmed out of our holes,
examining the marks his claws had made on the crumbling rock of the
bluff, all of us talking at once. One of the two Folk who had been
caught in the double cave was part-grown, half child and half youth.
They had come out proudly from their refuge, and we surrounded them in
an admiring crowd. Then the young fellow's mother broke through and fell
upon him in a tremendous rage, boxing his ears, pulling his hair, and
shrieking like a demon. She was a strapping big woman, very hairy, and
the thrashing she gave him was a delight to the horde. We roared with
laughter, holding on to one another or rolling on the ground in our
glee.

In spite of the reign of fear under which we lived, the Folk were always
great laughers. We had the sense of humor. Our merriment was Gargantuan.
It was never restrained. There was nothing half way about it. When
a thing was funny we were convulsed with appreciation of it, and the
simplest, crudest things were funny to us. Oh, we were great laughers, I
can tell you.

The way we had treated Saber-Tooth was the way we treated all animals
that invaded the village. We kept our run-ways and drinking-places to
ourselves by making life miserable for the animals that trespassed or
strayed upon our immediate territory. Even the fiercest hunting animals
we so bedevilled that they learned to leave our places alone. We were
not fighters like them; we were cunning and cowardly, and it was because
of our cunning and cowardice, and our inordinate capacity for fear,
that we survived in that frightfully hostile environment of the Younger
World.

Lop-Ear, I figure, was a year older than I. What his past history was
he had no way of telling me, but as I never saw anything of his mother
I believed him to be an orphan. After all, fathers did not count in our
horde. Marriage was as yet in a rude state, and couples had a way of
quarrelling and separating. Modern man, what of his divorce institution,
does the same thing legally. But we had no laws. Custom was all we went
by, and our custom in this particular matter was rather promiscuous.

Nevertheless, as this narrative will show later on, we betrayed
glimmering adumbrations of the monogamy that was later to give power to,
and make mighty, such tribes as embraced it. Furthermore, even at the
time I was born, there were several faithful couples that lived in the
trees in the neighborhood of my mother. Living in the thick of the horde
did not conduce to monogamy. It was for this reason, undoubtedly, that
the faithful couples went away and lived by themselves. Through many
years these couples stayed together, though when the man or woman died
or was eaten the survivor invariably found a new mate.

There was one thing that greatly puzzled me during the first days of
my residence in the horde. There was a nameless and incommunicable fear
that rested upon all. At first it appeared to be connected wholly
with direction. The horde feared the northeast. It lived in perpetual
apprehension of that quarter of the compass. And every individual gazed
more frequently and with greater alarm in that direction than in any
other.

When Lop-Ear and I went toward the north-east to eat the stringy-rooted
carrots that at that season were at their best, he became unusually
timid. He was content to eat the leavings, the big tough carrots and the
little ropy ones, rather than to venture a short distance farther on to
where the carrots were as yet untouched. When I so ventured, he scolded
me and quarrelled with me. He gave me to understand that in that
direction was some horrible danger, but just what the horrible danger
was his paucity of language would not permit him to say.

Many a good meal I got in this fashion, while he scolded and chattered
vainly at me. I could not understand. I kept very alert, but I could
see no danger. I calculated always the distance between myself and the
nearest tree, and knew that to that haven of refuge I could out-foot the
Tawny One, or old Saber-Tooth, did one or the other suddenly appear.

One late afternoon, in the village, a great uproar arose. The horde was
animated with a single emotion, that of fear. The bluff-side swarmed
with the Folk, all gazing and pointing into the northeast. I did not
know what it was, but I scrambled all the way up to the safety of my own
high little cave before ever I turned around to see.

And then, across the river, away into the northeast, I saw for the first
time the mystery of smoke. It was the biggest animal I had ever seen.
I thought it was a monster snake, up-ended, rearing its head high above
the trees and swaying back and forth. And yet, somehow, I seemed to
gather from the conduct of the Folk that the smoke itself was not the
danger. They appeared to fear it as the token of something else. What
this something else was I was unable to guess. Nor could they tell me.
Yet I was soon to know, and I was to know it as a thing more terrible
than the Tawny One, than old Saber-Tooth, than the snakes themselves,
than which it seemed there could be no things more terrible.



CHAPTER VII


Broken-Tooth was another youngster who lived by himself. His mother
lived in the caves, but two more children had come after him and he had
been thrust out to shift for himself. We had witnessed the performance
during the several preceding days, and it had given us no little glee.
Broken-Tooth did not want to go, and every time his mother left the cave
he sneaked back into it. When she returned and found him there her rages
were delightful. Half the horde made a practice of watching for these
moments. First, from within the cave, would come her scolding and
shrieking. Then we could hear sounds of the thrashing and the yelling
of Broken-Tooth. About this time the two younger children joined in. And
finally, like the eruption of a miniature volcano, Broken-Tooth would
come flying out.

At the end of several days his leaving home was accomplished. He wailed
his grief, unheeded, from the centre of the open space, for at least
half an hour, and then came to live with Lop-Ear and me. Our cave
was small, but with squeezing there was room for three. I have no
recollection of Broken-Tooth spending more than one night with us, so
the accident must have happened right away.

It came in the middle of the day. In the morning we had eaten our fill
of the carrots, and then, made heedless by play, we had ventured on to
the big trees just beyond. I cannot understand how Lop-Ear got over his
habitual caution, but it must have been the play. We were having a great
time playing tree tag. And such tag! We leaped ten or fifteen-foot gaps
as a matter of course. And a twenty or twenty-five foot deliberate drop
clear down to the ground was nothing to us. In fact, I am almost afraid
to say the great distances we dropped. As we grew older and heavier we
found we had to be more cautious in dropping, but at that age our bodies
were all strings and springs and we could do anything.

Broken-Tooth displayed remarkable agility in the game. He was "It" less
frequently than any of us, and in the course of the game he discovered
one difficult "slip" that neither Lop-Ear nor I was able to accomplish.
To be truthful, we were afraid to attempt it.

When we were "It," Broken-Tooth always ran out to the end of a lofty
branch in a certain tree. From the end of the branch to the ground it
must have been seventy feet, and nothing intervened to break a fall.
But about twenty feet lower down, and fully fifteen feet out from the
perpendicular, was the thick branch of another tree.

As we ran out the limb, Broken-Tooth, facing us, would begin teetering.
This naturally impeded our progress; but there was more in the teetering
than that. He teetered with his back to the jump he was to make. Just as
we nearly reached him he would let go. The teetering branch was like a
spring-board. It threw him far out, backward, as he fell. And as he fell
he turned around sidewise in the air so as to face the other branch into
which he was falling. This branch bent far down under the impact, and
sometimes there was an ominous crackling; but it never broke, and out
of the leaves was always to be seen the face of Broken-Tooth grinning
triumphantly up at us.

I was "It" the last time Broken-Tooth tried this. He had gained the end
of the branch and begun his teetering, and I was creeping out after him,
when suddenly there came a low warning cry from Lop-Ear. I looked down
and saw him in the main fork of the tree crouching close against the
trunk. Instinctively I crouched down upon the thick limb. Broken-Tooth
stopped teetering, but the branch would not stop, and his body continued
bobbing up and down with the rustling leaves.

I heard the crackle of a dry twig, and looking down saw my first
Fire-Man. He was creeping stealthily along on the ground and peering up
into the tree. At first I thought he was a wild animal, because he wore
around his waist and over his shoulders a ragged piece of bearskin. And
then I saw his hands and feet, and more clearly his features. He was
very much like my kind, except that he was less hairy and that his feet
were less like hands than ours. In fact, he and his people, as I was
later to know, were far less hairy than we, though we, in turn, were
equally less hairy than the Tree People.

It came to me instantly, as I looked at him. This was the terror of the
northeast, of which the mystery of smoke was a token. Yet I was puzzled.
Certainly he was nothing; of which to be afraid. Red-Eye or any of our
strong men would have been more than a match for him. He was old, too,
wizened with age, and the hair on his face was gray. Also, he limped
badly with one leg. There was no doubt at all that we could out-run him
and out-climb him. He could never catch us, that was certain.

But he carried something in his hand that I had never seen before. It
was a bow and arrow. But at that time a bow and arrow had no meaning for
me. How was I to know that death lurked in that bent piece of wood?
But Lop-Ear knew. He had evidently seen the Fire People before and
knew something of their ways. The Fire-Man peered up at him and circled
around the tree. And around the main trunk above the fork Lop-Ear
circled too, keeping always the trunk between himself and the Fire-Man.

The latter abruptly reversed his circling. Lop-Ear, caught unawares,
also hastily reversed, but did not win the protection of the trunk until
after the Fire-Man had twanged the bow.

I saw the arrow leap up, miss Lop-Ear, glance against a limb, and fall
back to the ground. I danced up and down on my lofty perch with delight.
It was a game! The Fire-Man was throwing things at Lop-Ear as we
sometimes threw things at one another.

The game continued a little longer, but Lop-Ear did not expose himself
a second time. Then the Fire-Man gave it up. I leaned far out over my
horizontal limb and chattered down at him. I wanted to play. I wanted
to have him try to hit me with the thing. He saw me, but ignored me,
turning his attention to Broken-Tooth, who was still teetering slightly
and involuntarily on the end of the branch.

The first arrow leaped upward. Broken-Tooth yelled with fright and pain.
It had reached its mark. This put a new complexion on the matter. I no
longer cared to play, but crouched trembling close to my limb. A second
arrow and a third soared up, missing Broken-Tooth, rustling the leaves
as they passed through, arching in their flight and returning to earth.

The Fire-Man stretched his bow again. He shifted his position, walking
away several steps, then shifted it a second time. The bow-string
twanged, the arrow leaped upward, and Broken-Tooth, uttering a terrible
scream, fell off the branch. I saw him as he went down, turning over
and over, all arms and legs it seemed, the shaft of the arrow projecting
from his chest and appearing and disappearing with each revolution of
his body.

Sheer down, screaming, seventy feet he fell, smashing to the earth with
an audible thud and crunch, his body rebounding slightly and settling
down again. Still he lived, for he moved and squirmed, clawing with his
hands and feet. I remember the Fire-Man running forward with a stone and
hammering him on the head...and then I remember no more.

Always, during my childhood, at this stage of the dream, did I wake up
screaming with fright--to find, often, my mother or nurse, anxious and
startled, by my bedside, passing soothing hands through my hair and
telling me that they were there and that there was nothing to fear.

My next dream, in the order of succession, begins always with the flight
of Lop-Ear and myself through the forest. The Fire-Man and Broken-Tooth
and the tree of the tragedy are gone. Lop-Ear and I, in a cautious
panic, are fleeing through the trees. In my right leg is a burning pain;
and from the flesh, protruding head and shaft from either side, is an
arrow of the Fire-Man. Not only did the pull and strain of it pain me
severely, but it bothered my movements and made it impossible for me to
keep up with Lop-Ear.

At last I gave up, crouching in the secure fork of a tree. Lop-Ear went
right on. I called to him--most plaintively, I remember; and he stopped
and looked back. Then he returned to me, climbing into the fork and
examining the arrow. He tried to pull it out, but one way the flesh
resisted the barbed lead, and the other way it resisted the feathered
shaft. Also, it hurt grievously, and I stopped him.

For some time we crouched there, Lop-Ear nervous and anxious to be gone,
perpetually and apprehensively peering this way and that, and myself
whimpering softly and sobbing. Lop-Ear was plainly in a funk, and
yet his conduct in remaining by me, in spite of his fear, I take as a
foreshadowing of the altruism and comradeship that have helped make man
the mightiest of the animals.

Once again Lop-Ear tried to drag the arrow through the flesh, and I
angrily stopped him. Then he bent down and began gnawing the shaft of
the arrow with his teeth. As he did so he held the arrow firmly in both
hands so that it would not play about in the wound, and at the same
time I held on to him. I often meditate upon this scene--the two of us,
half-grown cubs, in the childhood of the race, and the one mastering his
fear, beating down his selfish impulse of flight, in order to stand by
and succor the other. And there rises up before me all that was there
foreshadowed, and I see visions of Damon and Pythias, of life-saving
crews and Red Cross nurses, of martyrs and leaders of forlorn hopes, of
Father Damien, and of the Christ himself, and of all the men of earth,
mighty of stature, whose strength may trace back to the elemental loins
of Lop-Ear and Big-Tooth and other dim denizens of the Younger World.

When Lop-Ear had chewed off the head of the arrow, the shaft was
withdrawn easily enough. I started to go on, but this time it was he
that stopped me. My leg was bleeding profusely. Some of the smaller
veins had doubtless been ruptured. Running out to the end of a branch,
Lop-Ear gathered a handful of green leaves. These he stuffed into the
wound. They accomplished the purpose, for the bleeding soon stopped.
Then we went on together, back to the safety of the caves.



CHAPTER VIII


Well do I remember that first winter after I left home. I have long
dreams of sitting shivering in the cold. Lop-Ear and I sit close
together, with our arms and legs about each other, blue-faced and with
chattering teeth. It got particularly crisp along toward morning. In
those chill early hours we slept little, huddling together in numb
misery and waiting for the sunrise in order to get warm.

When we went outside there was a crackle of frost under foot. One
morning we discovered ice on the surface of the quiet water in the eddy
where was the drinking-place, and there was a great How-do-you-do about
it. Old Marrow-Bone was the oldest member of the horde, and he had never
seen anything like it before. I remember the worried, plaintive look
that came into his eyes as he examined the ice. (This plaintive look
always came into our eyes when we did not understand a thing, or when
we felt the prod of some vague and inexpressible desire.) Red-Eye, too,
when he investigated the ice, looked bleak and plaintive, and stared
across the river into the northeast, as though in some way he connected
the Fire People with this latest happening.

But we found ice only on that one morning, and that was the coldest
winter we experienced. I have no memory of other winters when it was so
cold. I have often thought that that cold winter was a fore-runner of
the countless cold winters to come, as the ice-sheet from farther north
crept down over the face of the land. But we never saw that ice-sheet.
Many generations must have passed away before the descendants of the
horde migrated south, or remained and adapted themselves to the changed
conditions.

Life was hit or miss and happy-go-lucky with us. Little was ever
planned, and less was executed. We ate when we were hungry, drank when
we were thirsty, avoided our carnivorous enemies, took shelter in the
caves at night, and for the rest just sort of played along through life.

We were very curious, easily amused, and full of tricks and pranks.
There was no seriousness about us, except when we were in danger or were
angry, in which cases the one was quickly forgotten and the other as
quickly got over.

We were inconsecutive, illogical, and inconsequential. We had no
steadfastness of purpose, and it was here that the Fire People were
ahead of us. They possessed all these things of which we possessed so
little. Occasionally, however, especially in the realm of the emotions,
we were capable of long-cherished purpose. The faithfulness of the
monogamic couples I have referred to may be explained as a matter of
habit; but my long desire for the Swift One cannot be so explained, any
more than can be explained the undying enmity between me and Red-Eye.

But it was our inconsequentiality and stupidity that especially
distresses me when I look back upon that life in the long ago. Once I
found a broken gourd which happened to lie right side up and which had
been filled with the rain. The water was sweet, and I drank it. I even
took the gourd down to the stream and filled it with more water, some of
which I drank and some of which I poured over Lop-Ear. And then I threw
the gourd away. It never entered my head to fill the gourd with water
and carry it into my cave. Yet often I was thirsty at night, especially
after eating wild onions and watercress, and no one ever dared leave the
caves at night for a drink.

Another time I found a dry; gourd, inside of which the seeds rattled. I
had fun with it for a while. But it was a play thing, nothing more. And
yet, it was not long after this that the using of gourds for storing
water became the general practice of the horde. But I was not the
inventor. The honor was due to old Marrow-Bone, and it is fair to
assume that it was the necessity of his great age that brought about the
innovation.

At any rate, the first member of the horde to use gourds was
Marrow-Bone. He kept a supply of drinking-water in his cave, which cave
belonged to his son, the Hairless One, who permitted him to occupy
a corner of it. We used to see Marrow-Bone filling his gourd at the
drinking-place and carrying it carefully up to his cave. Imitation
was strong in the Folk, and first one, and then another and another,
procured a gourd and used it in similar fashion, until it was a general
practice with all of us so to store water.

Sometimes old Marrow-Bone had sick spells and was unable to leave the
cave. Then it was that the Hairless One filled the gourd for him. A
little later, the Hairless One deputed the task to Long-Lip, his son.
And after that, even when Marrow-Bone was well again, Long-Lip continued
carrying water for him. By and by, except on unusual occasions, the men
never carried any water at all, leaving the task to the women and larger
children. Lop-Ear and I were independent. We carried water only for
ourselves, and we often mocked the young water-carriers when they were
called away from play to fill the gourds.

Progress was slow with us. We played through life, even the adults, much
in the same way that children play, and we played as none of the other
animals played. What little we learned, was usually in the course of
play, and was due to our curiosity and keenness of appreciation. For
that matter, the one big invention of the horde, during the time I lived
with it, was the use of gourds. At first we stored only water in the
gourds--in imitation of old Marrow-Bone.

But one day some one of the women--I do not know which one--filled a
gourd with black-berries and carried it to her cave. In no time all the
women were carrying berries and nuts and roots in the gourds. The idea,
once started, had to go on. Another evolution of the carrying-receptacle
was due to the women. Without doubt, some woman's gourd was too small,
or else she had forgotten her gourd; but be that as it may, she bent two
great leaves together, pinning the seams with twigs, and carried home a
bigger quantity of berries than could have been contained in the largest
gourd.

So far we got, and no farther, in the transportation of supplies during
the years I lived with the Folk. It never entered anybody's head to
weave a basket out of willow-withes. Sometimes the men and women tied
tough vines about the bundles of ferns and branches that they carried to
the caves to sleep upon. Possibly in ten or twenty generations we might
have worked up to the weaving of baskets. And of this, one thing is
sure: if once we wove withes into baskets, the next and inevitable step
would have been the weaving of cloth. Clothes would have followed, and
with covering our nakedness would have come modesty.

Thus was momentum gained in the Younger World. But we were without this
momentum. We were just getting started, and we could not go far in a
single generation. We were without weapons, without fire, and in the
raw beginnings of speech. The device of writing lay so far in the future
that I am appalled when I think of it.

Even I was once on the verge of a great discovery. To show you how
fortuitous was development in those days let me state that had it
not been for the gluttony of Lop-Ear I might have brought about the
domestication of the dog. And this was something that the Fire People
who lived to the northeast had not yet achieved. They were without dogs;
this I knew from observation. But let me tell you how Lop-Ear's gluttony
possibly set back our social development many generations.

Well to the west of our caves was a great swamp, but to the south lay
a stretch of low, rocky hills. These were little frequented for two
reasons. First of all, there was no food there of the kind we ate;
and next, those rocky hills were filled with the lairs of carnivorous
beasts.

But Lop-Ear and I strayed over to the hills one day. We would not have
strayed had we not been teasing a tiger. Please do not laugh. It was old
Saber-Tooth himself. We were perfectly safe. We chanced upon him in
the forest, early in the morning, and from the safety of the branches
overhead we chattered down at him our dislike and hatred. And from
branch to branch, and from tree to tree, we followed overhead, making
an infernal row and warning all the forest-dwellers that old Saber-Tooth
was coming.

We spoiled his hunting for him, anyway. And we made him good and angry.
He snarled at us and lashed his tail, and sometimes he paused and stared
up at us quietly for a long time, as if debating in his mind some way by
which he could get hold of us. But we only laughed and pelted him with
twigs and the ends of branches.

This tiger-baiting was common sport among the folk. Sometimes half the
horde would follow from overhead a tiger or lion that had ventured out
in the daytime. It was our revenge; for more than one member of the
horde, caught unexpectedly, had gone the way of the tiger's belly or the
lion's. Also, by such ordeals of helplessness and shame, we taught the
hunting animals to some extent to keep out of our territory. And then it
was funny. It was a great game.

And so Lop-Ear and I had chased Saber-Tooth across three miles of
forest. Toward the last he put his tail between his legs and fled from
our gibing like a beaten cur. We did our best to keep up with him; but
when we reached the edge of the forest he was no more than a streak in
the distance.

I don't know what prompted us, unless it was curiosity; but after
playing around awhile, Lop-Ear and I ventured across the open ground to
the edge of the rocky hills. We did not go far. Possibly at no time
were we more than a hundred yards from the trees. Coming around a sharp
corner of rock (we went very carefully, because we did not know what we
might encounter), we came upon three puppies playing in the sun.

They did not see us, and we watched them for some time. They were wild
dogs. In the rock-wall was a horizontal fissure--evidently the lair
where their mother had left them, and where they should have remained
had they been obedient. But the growing life, that in Lop-Ear and me had
impelled us to venture away from the forest, had driven the puppies out
of the cave to frolic. I know how their mother would have punished them
had she caught them.

But it was Lop-Ear and I who caught them. He looked at me, and then we
made a dash for it. The puppies knew no place to run except into the
lair, and we headed them off. One rushed between my legs. I squatted and
grabbed him. He sank his sharp little teeth into my arm, and I dropped
him in the suddenness of the hurt and surprise. The next moment he had
scurried inside.

Lop-Ear, struggling with the second puppy, scowled at me and intimated
by a variety of sounds the different kinds of a fool and a bungler
that I was. This made me ashamed and spurred me to valor. I grabbed the
remaining puppy by the tail. He got his teeth into me once, and then I
got him by the nape of the neck. Lop-Ear and I sat down, and held the
puppies up, and looked at them, and laughed.

They were snarling and yelping and crying. Lop-Ear started suddenly.
He thought he had heard something. We looked at each other in fear,
realizing the danger of our position. The one thing that made animals
raging demons was tampering with their young. And these puppies that
made such a racket belonged to the wild dogs. Well we knew them, running
in packs, the terror of the grass-eating animals. We had watched them
following the herds of cattle and bison and dragging down the calves,
the aged, and the sick. We had been chased by them ourselves, more than
once. I had seen one of the Folk, a woman, run down by them and caught
just as she reached the shelter of the woods. Had she not been tired out
by the run, she might have made it into a tree. She tried, and slipped,
and fell back. They made short work of her.

We did not stare at each other longer than a moment. Keeping tight hold
of our prizes, we ran for the woods. Once in the security of a tall
tree, we held up the puppies and laughed again. You see, we had to have
our laugh out, no matter what happened.

And then began one of the hardest tasks I ever attempted. We started to
carry the puppies to our cave. Instead of using our hands for climbing,
most of the time they were occupied with holding our squirming captives.
Once we tried to walk on the ground, but were treed by a miserable
hyena, who followed along underneath. He was a wise hyena.

Lop-Ear got an idea. He remembered how we tied up bundles of leaves to
carry home for beds. Breaking off some tough vines, he tied his puppy's
legs together, and then, with another piece of vine passed around his
neck, slung the puppy on his back. This left him with hands and feet
free to climb. He was jubilant, and did not wait for me to finish tying
my puppy's legs, but started on. There was one difficulty, however. The
puppy wouldn't stay slung on Lop-Ear's back. It swung around to the side
and then on in front. Its teeth were not tied, and the next thing it did
was to sink its teeth into Lop-Ear's soft and unprotected stomach. He
let out a scream, nearly fell, and clutched a branch violently with both
hands to save himself. The vine around his neck broke, and the puppy,
its four legs still tied, dropped to the ground. The hyena proceeded to
dine.

Lop-Ear was disgusted and angry. He abused the hyena, and then went
off alone through the trees. I had no reason that I knew for wanting to
carry the puppy to the cave, except that I WANTED to; and I stayed by
my task. I made the work a great deal easier by elaborating on Lop-Ear's
idea. Not only did I tie the puppy's legs, but I thrust a stick through
his jaws and tied them together securely.

At last I got the puppy home. I imagine I had more pertinacity than the
average Folk, or else I should not have succeeded. They laughed at me
when they saw me lugging the puppy up to my high little cave, but I did
not mind. Success crowned my efforts, and there was the puppy. He was a
plaything such as none of the Folk possessed. He learned rapidly. When I
played with him and he bit me, I boxed his ears, and then he did not try
again to bite for a long time.

I was quite taken up with him. He was something new, and it was a
characteristic of the Folk to like new things. When I saw that he
refused fruits and vegetables, I caught birds for him and squirrels and
young rabbits. (We Folk were meat-eaters, as well as vegetarians, and we
were adept at catching small game.) The puppy ate the meat and thrived.
As well as I can estimate, I must have had him over a week. And
then, coming back to the cave one day with a nestful of young-hatched
pheasants, I found Lop-Ear had killed the puppy and was just beginning
to eat him. I sprang for Lop-Ear,--the cave was small,--and we went at
it tooth and nail.

And thus, in a fight, ended one of the earliest attempts to domesticate
the dog. We pulled hair out in handfuls, and scratched and bit and
gouged. Then we sulked and made up. After that we ate the puppy. Raw?
Yes. We had not yet discovered fire. Our evolution into cooking animals
lay in the tight-rolled scroll of the future.



CHAPTER IX


Red-Eye was an atavism. He was the great discordant element in our
horde. He was more primitive than any of us. He did not belong with us,
yet we were still so primitive ourselves that we were incapable of a
cooperative effort strong enough to kill him or cast him out. Rude as
was our social organization, he was, nevertheless, too rude to live in
it. He tended always to destroy the horde by his unsocial acts. He was
really a reversion to an earlier type, and his place was with the Tree
People rather than with us who were in the process of becoming men.

He was a monster of cruelty, which is saying a great deal in that day.
He beat his wives--not that he ever had more than one wife at a time,
but that he was married many times. It was impossible for any woman to
live with him, and yet they did live with him, out of compulsion. There
was no gainsaying him.

No man was strong enough to stand against him.

Often do I have visions of the quiet hour before the twilight. From
drinking-place and carrot patch and berry swamp the Folk are trooping
into the open space before the caves. They dare linger no later than
this, for the dreadful darkness is approaching, in which the world is
given over to the carnage of the hunting animals, while the fore-runners
of man hide tremblingly in their holes.

There yet remain to us a few minutes before we climb to our caves. We
are tired from the play of the day, and the sounds we make are subdued.
Even the cubs, still greedy for fun and antics, play with restraint. The
wind from the sea has died down, and the shadows are lengthening with
the last of the sun's descent. And then, suddenly, from Red-Eye's cave,
breaks a wild screaming and the sound of blows. He is beating his wife.

At first an awed silence comes upon us. But as the blows and screams
continue we break out into an insane gibbering of helpless rage. It is
plain that the men resent Red-Eye's actions, but they are too afraid
of him. The blows cease, and a low groaning dies away, while we chatter
among ourselves and the sad twilight creeps upon us.

We, to whom most happenings were jokes, never laughed during Red-Eye's
wife-beatings. We knew too well the tragedy of them. On more than one
morning, at the base of the cliff, did we find the body of his latest
wife. He had tossed her there, after she had died, from his cave-mouth.
He never buried his dead. The task of carrying away the bodies, that
else would have polluted our abiding-place, he left to the horde. We
usually flung them into the river below the last drinking-place.

Not alone did Red-Eye murder his wives, but he also murdered for his
wives, in order to get them. When he wanted a new wife and selected the
wife of another man, he promptly killed that man. Two of these murders
I saw myself. The whole horde knew, but could do nothing. We had not yet
developed any government, to speak of, inside the horde. We had certain
customs and visited our wrath upon the unlucky ones who violated those
customs. Thus, for example, the individual who defiled a drinking-place
would be attacked by every onlooker, while one who deliberately gave
a false alarm was the recipient of much rough usage at our hands. But
Red-Eye walked rough-shod over all our customs, and we so feared him
that we were incapable of the collective action necessary to punish him.

It was during the sixth winter in our cave that Lop-Ear and I discovered
that we were really growing up. From the first it had been a squeeze
to get in through the entrance-crevice. This had had its advantages,
however. It had prevented the larger Folk from taking our cave away
from us. And it was a most desirable cave, the highest on the bluff, the
safest, and in winter the smallest and warmest.

To show the stage of the mental development of the Folk, I may state
that it would have been a simple thing for some of them to have driven
us out and enlarged the crevice-opening. But they never thought of
it. Lop-Ear and I did not think of it either until our increasing size
compelled us to make an enlargement. This occurred when summer was well
along and we were fat with better forage. We worked at the crevice in
spells, when the fancy struck us.

At first we dug the crumbling rocks away with our fingers, until our
nails got sore, when I accidentally stumbled upon the idea of using a
piece of wood on the rock. This worked well. Also it worked woe.
One morning early, we had scratched out of the wall quite a heap of
fragments. I gave the heap a shove over the lip of the entrance. The
next moment there came up from below a howl of rage. There was no need
to look. We knew the voice only too well. The rubbish had descended upon
Red-Eye.

We crouched down in the cave in consternation. A minute later he was at
the entrance, peering in at us with his inflamed eyes and raging like a
demon. But he was too large. He could not get in to us. Suddenly he went
away. This was suspicious. By all we knew of Folk nature he should have
remained and had out his rage. I crept to the entrance and peeped down.
I could see him just beginning to mount the bluff again. In one hand he
carried a long stick. Before I could divine his plan, he was back at the
entrance and savagely jabbing the stick in at us.

His thrusts were prodigious. They could have disembowelled us. We shrank
back against the side-walls, where we were almost out of range. But by
industrious poking he got us now and again--cruel, scraping jabs with
the end of the stick that raked off the hide and hair. When we screamed
with the hurt, he roared his satisfaction and jabbed the harder.

I began to grow angry. I had a temper of my own in those days, and
pretty considerable courage, too, albeit it was largely the courage of
the cornered rat. I caught hold of the stick with my hands, but such was
his strength that he jerked me into the crevice. He reached for me with
his long arm, and his nails tore my flesh as I leaped back from the
clutch and gained the comparative safety of the side-wall.

He began poking again, and caught me a painful blow on the shoulder.
Beyond shivering with fright and yelling when he was hit, Lop-Ear did
nothing. I looked for a stick with which to jab back, but found only
the end of a branch, an inch through and a foot long. I threw this at
Red-Eye. It did no damage, though he howled with a sudden increase of
rage at my daring to strike back. He began jabbing furiously. I found a
fragment of rock and threw it at him, striking him on the chest.

This emboldened me, and, besides, I was now as angry as he, and had lost
all fear. I ripped fragment of rock from the wall. The piece must have
weighed two or three pounds. With my strength I slammed it full into
Red-Eye's face. It nearly finished him. He staggered backward, dropping
his stick, and almost fell off the cliff.

He was a ferocious sight. His face was covered with blood, and he was
snarling and gnashing his fangs like a wild boar. He wiped the blood
from his eyes, caught sight of me, and roared with fury. His stick was
gone, so he began ripping out chunks of crumbling rock and throwing them
in at me. This supplied me with ammunition. I gave him as good as he
sent, and better; for he presented a good target, while he caught only
glimpses of me as I snuggled against the side-wall.

Suddenly he disappeared again. From the lip of the cave I saw him
descending. All the horde had gathered outside and in awed silence was
looking on. As he descended, the more timid ones scurried for their
caves. I could see old Marrow-Bone tottering along as fast as he could.
Red-Eye sprang out from the wall and finished the last twenty feet
through the air. He landed alongside a mother who was just beginning
the ascent. She screamed with fear, and the two-year-old child that was
clinging to her released its grip and rolled at Red-Eye's feet. Both he
and the mother reached for it, and he got it. The next moment the frail
little body had whirled through the air and shattered against the wall.
The mother ran to it, caught it up in her arms, and crouched over it
crying.

Red-Eye started over to pick up the stick. Old Marrow-Bone had tottered
into his way. Red-Eye's great hand shot out and clutched the old man
by the back of the neck. I looked to see his neck broken. His body went
limp as he surrendered himself to his fate. Red-Eye hesitated a moment,
and Marrow-Bone, shivering terribly, bowed his head and covered his face
with his crossed arms. Then Red-Eye slammed him face-downward to the
ground. Old Marrow-Bone did not struggle. He lay there crying with the
fear of death. I saw the Hairless One, out in the open space, beating
his chest and bristling, but afraid to come forward. And then, in
obedience to some whim of his erratic spirit, Red-Eye let the old man
alone and passed on and recovered the stick.

He returned to the wall and began to climb up. Lop-Ear, who was
shivering and peeping alongside of me, scrambled back into the cave. It
was plain that Red-Eye was bent upon murder. I was desperate and angry
and fairly cool. Running back and forth along the neighboring ledges, I
gathered a heap of rocks at the cave-entrance. Red-Eye was now several
yards beneath me, concealed for the moment by an out-jut of the cliff.
As he climbed, his head came into view, and I banged a rock down. It
missed, striking the wall and shattering; but the flying dust and grit
filled his eyes and he drew back out of view.

A chuckling and chattering arose from the horde, that played the part of
audience. At last there was one of the Folk who dared to face Red-Eye.
As their approval and acclamation arose on the air, Red-Eye snarled down
at them, and on the instant they were subdued to silence. Encouraged
by this evidence of his power, he thrust his head into view, and by
scowling and snarling and gnashing his fangs tried to intimidate me.
He scowled horribly, contracting the scalp strongly over the brows and
bringing the hair down from the top of the head until each hair stood
apart and pointed straight forward.

The sight chilled me, but I mastered my fear, and, with a stone poised
in my hand, threatened him back. He still tried to advance. I drove the
stone down at him and made a sheer miss. The next shot was a success.
The stone struck him on the neck. He slipped back out of sight, but as
he disappeared I could see him clutching for a grip on the wall with
one hand, and with the other clutching at his throat. The stick fell
clattering to the ground.

I could not see him any more, though I could hear him choking and
strangling and coughing. The audience kept a death-like silence. I
crouched on the lip of the entrance and waited. The strangling and
coughing died down, and I could hear him now and again clearing his
throat. A little later he began to climb down. He went very quietly,
pausing every moment or so to stretch his neck or to feel it with his
hand.

At the sight of him descending, the whole horde, with wild screams and
yells, stampeded for the woods. Old Marrow-Bone, hobbling and tottering,
followed behind. Red-Eye took no notice of the flight. When he reached
the ground he skirted the base of the bluff and climbed up and into his
own cave. He did not look around once.

I stared at Lop-Ear, and he stared back. We understood each other.
Immediately, and with great caution and quietness, we began climbing up
the cliff. When we reached the top we looked back. The abiding-place was
deserted, Red-Eye remained in his cave, and the horde had disappeared in
the depths of the forest.

We turned and ran. We dashed across the open spaces and down the slopes
unmindful of possible snakes in the grass, until we reached the woods.
Up into the trees we went, and on and on, swinging our arboreal flight
until we had put miles between us and the caves. And then, and not till
then, in the security of a great fork, we paused, looked at each other,
and began to laugh. We held on to each other, arms and legs, our eyes
streaming tears, our sides aching, and laughed and laughed and laughed.



CHAPTER X


After we had had out our laugh, Lop-Ear and I curved back in our flight
and got breakfast in the blueberry swamp. It was the same swamp to which
I had made my first journeys in the world, years before, accompanied by
my mother. I had seen little of her in the intervening time. Usually,
when she visited the horde at the caves, I was away in the forest. I had
once or twice caught glimpses of the Chatterer in the open space, and
had had the pleasure of making faces at him and angering him from the
mouth of my cave. Beyond such amenities I had left my family severely
alone. I was not much interested in it, and anyway I was doing very well
by myself.

After eating our fill of berries, with two nestfuls of partly hatched
quail-eggs for dessert, Lop-Ear and I wandered circumspectly into the
woods toward the river. Here was where stood my old home-tree, out of
which I had been thrown by the Chatterer. It was still occupied. There
had been increase in the family. Clinging tight to my mother was a
little baby. Also, there was a girl, partly grown, who cautiously
regarded us from one of the lower branches. She was evidently my sister,
or half-sister, rather.

My mother recognized me, but she warned me away when I started to climb
into the tree. Lop-Ear, who was more cautious by far than I, beat a
retreat, nor could I persuade him to return. Later in the day, however,
my sister came down to the ground, and there and in neighboring trees
we romped and played all afternoon. And then came trouble. She was my
sister, but that did not prevent her from treating me abominably, for
she had inherited all the viciousness of the Chatterer. She turned upon
me suddenly, in a petty rage, and scratched me, tore my hair, and sank
her sharp little teeth deep into my forearm. I lost my temper. I did
not injure her, but it was undoubtedly the soundest spanking she had
received up to that time.

How she yelled and squalled. The Chatterer, who had been away all day
and who was only then returning, heard the noise and rushed for the
spot. My mother also rushed, but he got there first. Lop-Ear and I did
not wait his coming. We were off and away, and the Chatterer gave us the
chase of our lives through the trees.

After the chase was over, and Lop-Ear and I had had out our laugh,
we discovered that twilight was falling. Here was night with all its
terrors upon us, and to return to the caves was out of the question.
Red-Eye made that impossible. We took refuge in a tree that stood apart
from other trees, and high up in a fork we passed the night. It was
a miserable night. For the first few hours it rained heavily, then
it turned cold and a chill wind blew upon us. Soaked through, with
shivering bodies and chattering teeth, we huddled in each other's arms.
We missed the snug, dry cave that so quickly warmed with the heat of our
bodies.

Morning found us wretched and resolved. We would not spend another such
night. Remembering the tree-shelters of our elders, we set to work to
make one for ourselves. We built the framework of a rough nest, and on
higher forks overhead even got in several ridge-poles for the roof. Then
the sun came out, and under its benign influence we forgot the hardships
of the night and went off in search of breakfast. After that, to show
the inconsequentiality of life in those days, we fell to playing. It
must have taken us all of a month, working intermittently, to make our
tree-house; and then, when it was completed, we never used it again.

But I run ahead of my story. When we fell to playing, after breakfast,
on the second day away from the caves, Lop-Ear led me a chase through
the trees and down to the river. We came out upon it where a large
slough entered from the blueberry swamp. The mouth of this slough was
wide, while the slough itself was practically without a current. In the
dead water, just inside its mouth, lay a tangled mass of tree trunks.
Some of these, what of the wear and tear of freshets and of being
stranded long summers on sand-bars, were seasoned and dry and without
branches. They floated high in the water, and bobbed up and down or
rolled over when we put our weight upon them.

Here and there between the trunks were water-cracks, and through them we
could see schools of small fish, like minnows, darting back and forth.
Lop-Ear and I became fishermen at once. Lying flat on the logs, keeping
perfectly quiet, waiting till the minnows came close, we would make
swift passes with our hands. Our prizes we ate on the spot, wriggling
and moist. We did not notice the lack of salt.

The mouth of the slough became our favorite playground. Here we spent
many hours each day, catching fish and playing on the logs, and here,
one day, we learned our first lessons in navigation. The log on which
Lop-Ear was lying got adrift. He was curled up on his side, asleep. A
light fan of air slowly drifted the log away from the shore, and when
I noticed his predicament the distance was already too great for him to
leap.

At first the episode seemed merely funny to me. But when one of the
vagrant impulses of fear, common in that age of perpetual insecurity,
moved within me, I was struck with my own loneliness. I was made
suddenly aware of Lop-Ear's remoteness out there on that alien element
a few feet away. I called loudly to him a warning cry. He awoke
frightened, and shifted his weight rashly on the log. It turned over,
sousing him under. Three times again it soused him under as he tried to
climb out upon it. Then he succeeded, crouching upon it and chattering
with fear.

I could do nothing. Nor could he. Swimming was something of which we
knew nothing. We were already too far removed from the lower
life-forms to have the instinct for swimming, and we had not yet become
sufficiently man-like to undertake it as the working out of a problem.
I roamed disconsolately up and down the bank, keeping as close to him
in his involuntary travels as I could, while he wailed and cried till
it was a wonder that he did not bring down upon us every hunting animal
within a mile.

The hours passed. The sun climbed overhead and began its descent to
the west. The light wind died down and left Lop-Ear on his log floating
around a hundred feet away. And then, somehow, I know not how, Lop-Ear
made the great discovery. He began paddling with his hands. At first
his progress was slow and erratic. Then he straightened out and began
laboriously to paddle nearer and nearer. I could not understand. I sat
down and watched and waited until he gained the shore.

But he had learned something, which was more than I had done. Later in
the afternoon, he deliberately launched out from shore on the log. Still
later he persuaded me to join him, and I, too, learned the trick of
paddling. For the next several days we could not tear ourselves away
from the slough. So absorbed were we in our new game that we almost
neglected to eat. We even roosted in a nearby tree at night. And we
forgot that Red-Eye existed.

We were always trying new logs, and we learned that the smaller the log
the faster we could make it go. Also, we learned that the smaller the
log the more liable it was to roll over and give us a ducking. Still
another thing about small logs we learned. One day we paddled our
individual logs alongside each other. And then, quite by accident, in
the course of play, we discovered that when each, with one hand and
foot, held on to the other's log, the logs were steadied and did not
turn over. Lying side by side in this position, our outside hands and
feet were left free for paddling. Our final discovery was that this
arrangement enabled us to use still smaller logs and thereby gain
greater speed. And there our discoveries ended. We had invented the most
primitive catamaran, and we did not have sense enough to know it. It
never entered our heads to lash the logs together with tough vines or
stringy roots. We were content to hold the logs together with our hands
and feet.

It was not until we got over our first enthusiasm for navigation and had
begun to return to our tree-shelter to sleep at night, that we found the
Swift One. I saw her first, gathering young acorns from the branches of
a large oak near our tree. She was very timid. At first, she kept very
still; but when she saw that she was discovered she dropped to the
ground and dashed wildly away. We caught occasional glimpses of her from
day to day, and came to look for her when we travelled back and forth
between our tree and the mouth of the slough.

And then, one day, she did not run away. She waited our coming, and made
soft peace-sounds. We could not get very near, however. When we seemed
to approach too close, she darted suddenly away and from a safe distance
uttered the soft sounds again. This continued for some days. It took a
long while to get acquainted with her, but finally it was accomplished
and she joined us sometimes in our play.

I liked her from the first. She was of most pleasing appearance. She was
very mild. Her eyes were the mildest I had ever seen. In this she was
quite unlike the rest of the girls and women of the Folk, who were born
viragos. She never made harsh, angry cries, and it seemed to be her
nature to flee away from trouble rather than to remain and fight.

The mildness I have mentioned seemed to emanate from her whole being.
Her bodily as well as facial appearance was the cause of this. Her eyes
were larger than most of her kind, and they were not so deep-set, while
the lashes were longer and more regular. Nor was her nose so thick and
squat. It had quite a bridge, and the nostrils opened downward. Her
incisors were not large, nor was her upper lip long and down-hanging,
nor her lower lip protruding. She was not very hairy, except on the
outsides of arms and legs and across the shoulders; and while she was
thin-hipped, her calves were not twisted and gnarly.

I have often wondered, looking back upon her from the twentieth century
through the medium of my dreams, and it has always occurred to me that
possibly she may have been related to the Fire People. Her father, or
mother, might well have come from that higher stock. While such things
were not common, still they did occur, and I have seen the proof of them
with my own eyes, even to the extent of members of the horde turning
renegade and going to live with the Tree People.

All of which is neither here nor there. The Swift One was radically
different from any of the females of the horde, and I had a liking for
her from the first. Her mildness and gentleness attracted me. She was
never rough, and she never fought. She always ran away, and right here
may be noted the significance of the naming of her. She was a better
climber than Lop-Ear or I. When we played tag we could never catch her
except by accident, while she could catch us at will. She was remarkably
swift in all her movements, and she had a genius for judging distances
that was equalled only by her daring. Excessively timid in all other
matters, she was without fear when it came to climbing or running
through the trees, and Lop-Ear and I were awkward and lumbering and
cowardly in comparison.

She was an orphan. We never saw her with any one, and there was no
telling how long she had lived alone in the world. She must have learned
early in her helpless childhood that safety lay only in flight. She was
very wise and very discreet. It became a sort of game with Lop-Ear
and me to try to find where she lived. It was certain that she had
a tree-shelter somewhere, and not very far away; but trail her as we
would, we could never find it. She was willing enough to join with us
at play in the day-time, but the secret of her abiding-place she guarded
jealously.



CHAPTER XI


It must be remembered that the description I have just given of
the Swift One is not the description that would have been given by
Big-Tooth, my other self of my dreams, my prehistoric ancestor. It is by
the medium of my dreams that I, the modern man, look through the eyes of
Big-Tooth and see.

And so it is with much that I narrate of the events of that far-off
time. There is a duality about my impressions that is too confusing to
inflict upon my readers. I shall merely pause here in my narrative to
indicate this duality, this perplexing mixing of personality. It is I,
the modern, who look back across the centuries and weigh and analyze the
emotions and motives of Big-Tooth, my other self. He did not bother
to weigh and analyze. He was simplicity itself. He just lived events,
without ever pondering why he lived them in his particular and often
erratic way.

As I, my real self, grew older, I entered more and more into the
substance of my dreams. One may dream, and even in the midst of the
dream be aware that he is dreaming, and if the dream be bad, comfort
himself with the thought that it is only a dream. This is a common
experience with all of us. And so it was that I, the modern, often
entered into my dreaming, and in the consequent strange dual personality
was both actor and spectator. And right often have I, the modern, been
perturbed and vexed by the foolishness, illogic, obtuseness, and general
all-round stupendous stupidity of myself, the primitive.

And one thing more, before I end this digression. Have you ever dreamed
that you dreamed? Dogs dream, horses dream, all animals dream. In
Big-Tooth's day the half-men dreamed, and when the dreams were bad they
howled in their sleep. Now I, the modern, have lain down with Big-Tooth
and dreamed his dreams.

This is getting almost beyond the grip of the intellect, I know; but I
do know that I have done this thing. And let me tell you that the
flying and crawling dreams of Big-Tooth were as vivid to him as the
falling-through-space dream is to you.

For Big-Tooth also had an other-self, and when he slept that other-self
dreamed back into the past, back to the winged reptiles and the clash
and the onset of dragons, and beyond that to the scurrying, rodent-like
life of the tiny mammals, and far remoter still, to the shore-slime of
the primeval sea. I cannot, I dare not, say more. It is all too vague
and complicated and awful. I can only hint of those vast and terrific
vistas through which I have peered hazily at the progression of life,
not upward from the ape to man, but upward from the worm.

And now to return to my tale. I, Big-Tooth, knew not the Swift One as a
creature of finer facial and bodily symmetry, with long-lashed eyes and
a bridge to her nose and down-opening nostrils that made toward beauty.
I knew her only as the mild-eyed young female who made soft sounds and
did not fight. I liked to play with her, I knew not why, to seek food
in her company, and to go bird-nesting with her. And I must confess she
taught me things about tree-climbing. She was very wise, very strong,
and no clinging skirts impeded her movements.

It was about this time that a slight defection arose on the part of
Lop-Ear. He got into the habit of wandering off in the direction of the
tree where my mother lived. He had taken a liking to my vicious sister,
and the Chatterer had come to tolerate him. Also, there were several
other young people, progeny of the monogamic couples that lived in the
neighborhood, and Lop-Ear played with these young people.

I could never get the Swift One to join with them. Whenever I visited
them she dropped behind and disappeared. I remember once making a strong
effort to persuade her. But she cast backward, anxious glances, then
retreated, calling to me from a tree. So it was that I did not make a
practice of accompanying Lop-Ear when he went to visit his new friends.
The Swift One and I were good comrades, but, try as I would, I could
never find her tree-shelter. Undoubtedly, had nothing happened, we
would have soon mated, for our liking was mutual; but the something did
happen.

One morning, the Swift One not having put in an appearance, Lop-Ear
and I were down at the mouth of the slough playing on the logs. We had
scarcely got out on the water, when we were startled by a roar of rage.
It was Red-Eye. He was crouching on the edge of the timber jam and
glowering his hatred at us. We were badly frightened, for here was
no narrow-mouthed cave for refuge. But the twenty feet of water that
intervened gave us temporary safety, and we plucked up courage.

Red-Eye stood up erect and began beating his hairy chest with his fist.
Our two logs were side by side, and we sat on them and laughed at him.
At first our laughter was half-hearted, tinged with fear, but as we
became convinced of his impotence we waxed uproarious. He raged and
raged at us, and ground his teeth in helpless fury. And in our fancied
security we mocked and mocked him. We were ever short-sighted, we Folk.

Red-Eye abruptly ceased his breast-beating and tooth-grinding, and ran
across the timber-jam to the shore. And just as abruptly our merriment
gave way to consternation. It was not Red-Eye's way to forego revenge so
easily. We waited in fear and trembling for whatever was to happen. It
never struck us to paddle away. He came back with great leaps across the
jam, one huge hand filled with round, water-washed pebbles. I am glad
that he was unable to find larger missiles, say stones weighing two
or three pounds, for we were no more than a score of feet away, and he
surely would have killed us.

As it was, we were in no small danger. Zip! A tiny pebble whirred
past with the force almost of a bullet. Lop-Ear and I began paddling
frantically. Whiz-zip-bang! Lop-Ear screamed with sudden anguish. The
pebble had struck him between the shoulders. Then I got one and yelled.
The only thing that saved us was the exhausting of Red-Eye's ammunition.
He dashed back to the gravel-bed for more, while Lop-Ear and I paddled
away.

Gradually we drew out of range, though Red-Eye continued making trips
for more ammunition and the pebbles continued to whiz about us. Out
in the centre of the slough there was a slight current, and in our
excitement we failed to notice that it was drifting us into the river.
We paddled, and Red-Eye kept as close as he could to us by following
along the shore. Then he discovered larger rocks. Such ammunition
increased his range. One fragment, fully five pounds in weight, crashed
on the log alongside of me, and such was its impact that it drove a
score of splinters, like fiery needles, into my leg. Had it struck me it
would have killed me.

And then the river current caught us. So wildly were we paddling that
Red-Eye was the first to notice it, and our first warning was his yell
of triumph. Where the edge of the current struck the slough-water was a
series of eddies or small whirlpools. These caught our clumsy logs and
whirled them end for end, back and forth and around. We quit paddling
and devoted our whole energy to holding the logs together alongside
each other. In the meanwhile Red-Eye continued to bombard us, the rock
fragments falling about us, splashing water on us, and menacing our
lives. At the same time he gloated over us, wildly and vociferously.

It happened that there was a sharp turn in the river at the point
where the slough entered, and the whole main current of the river was
deflected to the other bank. And toward that bank, which was the north
bank, we drifted rapidly, at the same time going down-stream. This
quickly took us out of range of Red-Eye, and the last we saw of him
was far out on a point of land, where he was jumping up and down and
chanting a paean of victory.

Beyond holding the two logs together, Lop-Ear and I did nothing. We were
resigned to our fate, and we remained resigned until we aroused to the
fact that we were drifting along the north shore not a hundred feet
away. We began to paddle for it. Here the main force of the current was
flung back toward the south shore, and the result of our paddling was
that we crossed the current where it was swiftest and narrowest. Before
we were aware, we were out of it and in a quiet eddy.

Our logs drifted slowly and at last grounded gently on the bank. Lop-Ear
and I crept ashore. The logs drifted on out of the eddy and swept away
down the stream. We looked at each other, but we did not laugh. We were
in a strange land, and it did not enter our minds that we could return
to our own land in the same manner that we had come.

We had learned how to cross a river, though we did not know it. And this
was something that no one else of the Folk had ever done. We were the
first of the Folk to set foot on the north bank of the river, and, for
that matter, I believe the last. That they would have done so in the
time to come is undoubted; but the migration of the Fire People, and
the consequent migration of the survivors of the Folk, set back our
evolution for centuries.

Indeed, there is no telling how disastrous was to be the outcome of
the Fire People's migration. Personally, I am prone to believe that it
brought about the destruction of the Folk; that we, a branch of lower
life budding toward the human, were nipped short off and perished down
by the roaring surf where the river entered the sea. Of course, in such
an eventuality, I remain to be accounted for; but I outrun my story, and
such accounting will be made before I am done.



CHAPTER XII


I have no idea how long Lop-Ear and I wandered in the land north of
the river. We were like mariners wrecked on a desert isle, so far as
concerned the likelihood of our getting home again. We turned our backs
upon the river, and for weeks and months adventured in that wilderness
where there were no Folk. It is very difficult for me to reconstruct our
journeying, and impossible to do it from day to day. Most of it is hazy
and indistinct, though here and there I have vivid recollections of
things that happened.

Especially do I remember the hunger we endured on the mountains between
Long Lake and Far Lake, and the calf we caught sleeping in the thicket.
Also, there are the Tree People who dwelt in the forest between Long
Lake and the mountains. It was they who chased us into the mountains and
compelled us to travel on to Far Lake.

First, after we left the river, we worked toward the west till we came
to a small stream that flowed through marshlands. Here we turned away
toward the north, skirting the marshes and after several days arriving
at what I have called Long Lake. We spent some time around its upper
end, where we found food in plenty; and then, one day, in the forest,
we ran foul of the Tree People. These creatures were ferocious apes,
nothing more. And yet they were not so different from us. They were more
hairy, it is true; their legs were a trifle more twisted and gnarly,
their eyes a bit smaller, their necks a bit thicker and shorter, and
their nostrils slightly more like orifices in a sunken surface; but they
had no hair on their faces and on the palms of their hands and the
soles of their feet, and they made sounds similar to ours with somewhat
similar meanings. After all, the Tree People and the Folk were not so
unlike.

I found him first, a little withered, dried-up old fellow,
wrinkled-faced and bleary-eyed and tottery. He was legitimate prey. In
our world there was no sympathy between the kinds, and he was not our
kind. He was a Tree-Man, and he was very old. He was sitting at the foot
of a tree--evidently his tree, for we could see the tattered nest in the
branches, in which he slept at night.

I pointed him out to Lop-Ear, and we made a rush for him. He started to
climb, but was too slow. I caught him by the leg and dragged him back.
Then we had fun. We pinched him, pulled his hair, tweaked his ears, and
poked twigs into him, and all the while we laughed with streaming eyes.
His futile anger was most absurd. He was a comical sight, striving to
fan into flame the cold ashes of his youth, to resurrect his strength
dead and gone through the oozing of the years--making woful faces
in place of the ferocious ones he intended, grinding his worn teeth
together, beating his meagre chest with feeble fists.

Also, he had a cough, and he gasped and hacked and spluttered
prodigiously. Every time he tried to climb the tree we pulled him back,
until at last he surrendered to his weakness and did no more than sit
and weep. And Lop-Ear and I sat with him, our arms around each other,
and laughed at his wretchedness.

From weeping he went to whining, and from whining to wailing, until at
last he achieved a scream. This alarmed us, but the more we tried to
make him cease, the louder he screamed. And then, from not far away
in the forest, came a "Goek! Goek!" to our ears. To this there were
answering cries, several of them, and from very far off we could hear a
big, bass "Goek! Goek! Goek!" Also, the "Whoo-whoo!" call was rising in
the forest all around us.

Then came the chase. It seemed it never would end. They raced us through
the trees, the whole tribe of them, and nearly caught us. We were forced
to take to the ground, and here we had the advantage, for they were
truly the Tree People, and while they out-climbed us we out-footed them
on the ground. We broke away toward the north, the tribe howling on our
track. Across the open spaces we gained, and in the brush they caught
up with us, and more than once it was nip and tuck. And as the chase
continued, we realized that we were not their kind, either, and that the
bonds between us were anything but sympathetic.

They ran us for hours. The forest seemed interminable. We kept to the
glades as much as possible, but they always ended in more thick forest.
Sometimes we thought we had escaped, and sat down to rest; but
always, before we could recover our breath, we would hear the hateful
"Whoo-whoo!" cries and the terrible "Goek! Goek! Goek!" This latter
sometimes terminated in a savage "Ha ha ha ha haaaaa!!!"

And in this fashion were we hunted through the forest by the exasperated
Tree People. At last, by mid-afternoon, the slopes began rising higher
and higher and the trees were becoming smaller. Then we came out on the
grassy flanks of the mountains. Here was where we could make time, and
here the Tree People gave up and returned to their forest.

The mountains were bleak and inhospitable, and three times that
afternoon we tried to regain the woods. But the Tree People were lying
in wait, and they drove us back. Lop-Ear and I slept that night in a
dwarf tree, no larger than a bush. Here was no security, and we would
have been easy prey for any hunting animal that chanced along.

In the morning, what of our new-gained respect for the Tree People, we
faced into the mountains. That we had no definite plan, or even idea, I
am confident. We were merely driven on by the danger we had escaped. Of
our wanderings through the mountains I have only misty memories. We were
in that bleak region many days, and we suffered much, especially from
fear, it was all so new and strange. Also, we suffered from the cold,
and later from hunger.

It--was a desolate land of rocks and foaming streams and clattering
cataracts. We climbed and descended mighty canyons and gorges; and ever,
from every view point, there spread out before us, in all directions,
range upon range, the unceasing mountains. We slept at night in holes
and crevices, and on one cold night we perched on top a slender pinnacle
of rock that was almost like a tree.

And then, at last, one hot midday, dizzy with hunger, we gained the
divide. From this high backbone of earth, to the north, across the
diminishing, down-falling ranges, we caught a glimpse of a far lake. The
sun shone upon it, and about it were open, level grass-lands, while to
the eastward we saw the dark line of a wide-stretching forest.

We were two days in gaining the lake, and we were weak with hunger; but
on its shore, sleeping snugly in a thicket, we found a part-grown calf.
It gave us much trouble, for we knew no other way to kill than with our
hands. When we had gorged our fill, we carried the remainder of the meat
to the eastward forest and hid it in a tree. We never returned to that
tree, for the shore of the stream that drained Far Lake was packed thick
with salmon that had come up from the sea to spawn.

Westward from the lake stretched the grass-lands, and here were
multitudes of bison and wild cattle. Also were there many packs of wild
dogs, and as there were no trees it was not a safe place for us. We
followed north along the stream for days. Then, and for what reason I do
not know, we abruptly left the stream and swung to the east, and then
to the southeast, through a great forest. I shall not bore you with our
journey. I but indicate it to show how we finally arrived at the Fire
People's country.

We came out upon the river, but we did not know it for our river. We had
been lost so long that we had come to accept the condition of being lost
as habitual. As I look back I see clearly how our lives and destinies
are shaped by the merest chance. We did not know it was our river--there
was no way of telling; and if we had never crossed it we would most
probably have never returned to the horde; and I, the modern, the
thousand centuries yet to be born, would never have been born.

And yet Lop-Ear and I wanted greatly to return. We had experienced
homesickness on our journey, the yearning for our own kind and land;
and often had I had recollections of the Swift One, the young female who
made soft sounds, whom it was good to be with, and who lived by
herself nobody knew where. My recollections of her were accompanied by
sensations of hunger, and these I felt when I was not hungry and when I
had just eaten.

But to come back to the river. Food was plentiful, principally berries
and succulent roots, and on the river bank we played and lingered for
days. And then the idea came to Lop-Ear. It was a visible process,
the coming of the idea. I saw it. The expression in his eyes became
plaintive and querulous, and he was greatly perturbed. Then his eyes
went muddy, as if he had lost his grip on the inchoate thought. This was
followed by the plaintive, querulous expression as the idea persisted
and he clutched it anew. He looked at me, and at the river and the far
shore. He tried to speak, but had no sounds with which to express the
idea. The result was a gibberish that made me laugh. This angered him,
and he grabbed me suddenly and threw me on my back. Of course we fought,
and in the end I chased him up a tree, where he secured a long branch
and poked me every time I tried to get at him.

And the idea had gone glimmering. I did not know, and he had forgotten.
But the next morning it awoke in him again. Perhaps it was the homing
instinct in him asserting itself that made the idea persist. At any
rate it was there, and clearer than before. He led me down to the water,
where a log had grounded in an eddy. I thought he was minded to play, as
we had played in the mouth of the slough. Nor did I change my mind as I
watched him tow up a second log from farther down the shore.

It was not until we were on the logs, side by side and holding them
together, and had paddled out into the current, that I learned his
intention. He paused to point at the far shore, and resumed his
paddling, at the same time uttering loud and encouraging cries. I
understood, and we paddled energetically. The swift current caught us,
flung us toward the south shore, but before we could make a landing
flung us back toward the north shore.

Here arose dissension. Seeing the north shore so near, I began to paddle
for it. Lop-Ear tried to paddle for the south shore. The logs swung
around in circles, and we got nowhere, and all the time the forest was
flashing past as we drifted down the stream. We could not fight. We knew
better than to let go the grips of hands and feet that held the logs
together. But we chattered and abused each other with our tongues until
the current flung us toward the south bank again. That was now the
nearest goal, and together and amicably we paddled for it. We landed in
an eddy, and climbed directly into the trees to reconnoitre.



CHAPTER XIII


It was not until the night of our first day on the south bank of the
river that we discovered the Fire People. What must have been a band of
wandering hunters went into camp not far from the tree in which Lop-Ear
and I had elected to roost for the night. The voices of the Fire
People at first alarmed us, but later, when darkness had come, we were
attracted by the fire. We crept cautiously and silently from tree to
tree till we got a good view of the scene.

In an open space among the trees, near to the river, the fire was
burning. About it were half a dozen Fire-Men. Lop-Ear clutched me
suddenly, and I could feel him tremble. I looked more closely, and saw
the wizened little old hunter who had shot Broken-Tooth out of the tree
years before. When he got up and walked about, throwing fresh wood upon
the fire, I saw that he limped with his crippled leg. Whatever it was,
it was a permanent injury. He seemed more dried up and wizened than
ever, and the hair on his face was quite gray.

The other hunters were young men. I noted, lying near them on the
ground, their bows and arrows, and I knew the weapons for what they
were. The Fire-Men wore animal skins around their waists and across
their shoulders. Their arms and legs, however, were bare, and they wore
no footgear. As I have said before, they were not quite so hairy as we
of the Folk. They did not have large heads, and between them and the
Folk there was very little difference in the degree of the slant of the
head back from the eyes.

They were less stooped than we, less springy in their movements. Their
backbones and hips and knee-joints seemed more rigid. Their arms were
not so long as ours either, and I did not notice that they ever balanced
themselves when they walked, by touching the ground on either side with
their hands. Also, their muscles were more rounded and symmetrical than
ours, and their faces were more pleasing. Their nose orifices opened
downward; likewise the bridges of their noses were more developed, did
not look so squat nor crushed as ours. Their lips were less flabby and
pendent, and their eye-teeth did not look so much like fangs. However,
they were quite as thin-hipped as we, and did not weigh much more. Take
it all in all, they were less different from us than were we from
the Tree People. Certainly, all three kinds were related, and not so
remotely related at that.

The fire around which they sat was especially attractive. Lop-Ear and
I sat for hours, watching the flames and smoke. It was most fascinating
when fresh fuel was thrown on and showers of sparks went flying upward.
I wanted to come closer and look at the fire, but there was no way. We
were crouching in the forks of a tree on the edge of the open space, and
we did not dare run the risk of being discovered.

The Fire-Men squatted around the fire and slept with their heads bowed
forward on their knees. They did not sleep soundly. Their ears twitched
in their sleep, and they were restless. Every little while one or
another got up and threw more wood upon the fire. About the circle of
light in the forest, in the darkness beyond, roamed hunting animals.
Lop-Ear and I could tell them by their sounds. There were wild dogs
and a hyena, and for a time there was a great yelping and snarling that
awakened on the instant the whole circle of sleeping Fire-Men.

Once a lion and a lioness stood beneath our tree and gazed out with
bristling hair and blinking eyes. The lion licked his chops and was
nervous with eagerness, as if he wanted to go forward and make a meal.
But the lioness was more cautious. It was she that discovered us, and
the pair stood and looked up at us, silently, with twitching, scenting
nostrils. Then they growled, looked once again at the fire, and turned
away into the forest.

For a much longer time Lop-Ear and I remained and watched. Now and
again we could hear the crashing of heavy bodies in the thickets and
underbrush, and from the darkness of the other side, across the circle,
we could see eyes gleaming in the firelight. In the distance we heard
a lion roar, and from far off came the scream of some stricken animal,
splashing and floundering in a drinking-place. Also, from the river,
came a great grunting of rhinoceroses.

In the morning, after having had our sleep, we crept back to the fire.
It was still smouldering, and the Fire-Men were gone. We made a circle
through the forest to make sure, and then we ran to the fire. I wanted
to see what it was like, and between thumb and finger I picked up
a glowing coal. My cry of pain and fear, as I dropped it, stampeded
Lop-Ear into the trees, and his flight frightened me after him.

The next time we came back more cautiously, and we avoided the glowing
coals. We fell to imitating the Fire-Men. We squatted down by the fire,
and with heads bent forward on our knees, made believe to sleep. Then we
mimicked their speech, talking to each other in their fashion and making
a great gibberish. I remembered seeing the wizened old hunter poke the
fire with a stick. I poked the fire with a stick, turning up masses of
live coals and clouds of white ashes. This was great sport, and soon we
were coated white with the ashes.

It was inevitable that we should imitate the Fire-Men in replenishing
the fire. We tried it first with small pieces of wood. It was a success.
The wood flamed up and crackled, and we danced and gibbered with
delight. Then we began to throw on larger pieces of wood. We put on
more and more, until we had a mighty fire. We dashed excitedly back and
forth, dragging dead limbs and branches from out the forest. The flames
soared higher and higher, and the smoke-column out-towered the trees.
There was a tremendous snapping and crackling and roaring. It was the
most monumental work we had ever effected with our hands, and we were
proud of it. We, too, were Fire-Men, we thought, as we danced there,
white gnomes in the conflagration.

The dried grass and underbrush caught fire, but we did not notice it.
Suddenly a great tree on the edge of the open space burst into flames.

We looked at it with startled eyes. The heat of it drove us back.
Another tree caught, and another, and then half a dozen. We were
frightened. The monster had broken loose. We crouched down in fear,
while the fire ate around the circle and hemmed us in. Into Lop-Ear's
eyes came the plaintive look that always accompanied incomprehension,
and I know that in my eyes must have been the same look. We huddled,
with our arms around each other, until the heat began to reach us and
the odor of burning hair was in our nostrils. Then we made a dash of it,
and fled away westward through the forest, looking back and laughing as
we ran.

By the middle of the day we came to a neck of land, made, as we
afterward discovered, by a great curve of the river that almost
completed a circle. Right across the neck lay bunched several low and
partly wooded hills. Over these we climbed, looking backward at the
forest which had become a sea of flame that swept eastward before a
rising wind. We continued to the west, following the river bank, and
before we knew it we were in the midst of the abiding-place of the Fire
People.

This abiding-place was a splendid strategic selection. It was a
peninsula, protected on three sides by the curving river. On only
one side was it accessible by land. This was the narrow neck of the
peninsula, and here the several low hills were a natural obstacle.
Practically isolated from the rest of the world, the Fire People must
have here lived and prospered for a long time. In fact, I think it was
their prosperity that was responsible for the subsequent migration that
worked such calamity upon the Folk. The Fire People must have increased
in numbers until they pressed uncomfortably against the bounds of their
habitat. They were expanding, and in the course of their expanding they
drove the Folk before them, and settled down themselves in the caves and
occupied the territory that we had occupied.

But Lop-Ear and I little dreamed of all this when we found ourselves in
the Fire People's stronghold. We had but one idea, and that was to get
away, though we could not forbear humoring our curiosity by peeping out
upon the village. For the first time we saw the women and children of
the Fire People. The latter ran for the most part naked, though the
former wore skins of wild animals.

The Fire People, like ourselves, lived in caves. The open space in front
of the caves sloped down to the river, and in the open space burned many
small fires. But whether or not the Fire People cooked their food, I do
not know. Lop-Ear and I did not see them cook. Yet it is my opinion that
they surely must have performed some sort of rude cookery. Like us, they
carried water in gourds from the river. There was much coming and going,
and loud cries made by the women and children. The latter played about
and cut up antics quite in the same way as did the children of the Folk,
and they more nearly resembled the children of the Folk than did the
grown Fire People resemble the grown Folk.

Lop-Ear and I did not linger long. We saw some of the part-grown boys
shooting with bow and arrow, and we sneaked back into the thicker forest
and made our way to the river. And there we found a catamaran, a real
catamaran, one evidently made by some Fire-Man. The two logs were small
and straight, and were lashed together by means of tough roots and
crosspieces of wood.

This time the idea occurred simultaneously to us. We were trying to
escape out of the Fire People's territory. What better way than by
crossing the river on these logs? We climbed on board and shoved off. A
sudden something gripped the catamaran and flung it downstream violently
against the bank. The abrupt stoppage almost whipped us off into the
water. The catamaran was tied to a tree by a rope of twisted roots. This
we untied before shoving off again.

By the time we had paddled well out into the current, we had drifted
so far downstream that we were in full view of the Fire People's
abiding-place. So occupied were we with our paddling, our eyes fixed
upon the other bank, that we knew nothing until aroused by a yell from
the shore. We looked around. There were the Fire People, many of them,
looking at us and pointing at us, and more were crawling out of the
caves. We sat up to watch, and forgot all about paddling. There was a
great hullabaloo on the shore. Some of the Fire-Men discharged their
bows at us, and a few of the arrows fell near us, but the range was too
great.

It was a great day for Lop-Ear and me. To the east the conflagration
we had started was filling half the sky with smoke. And here we were,
perfectly safe in the middle of the river, encircling the Fire People's
stronghold. We sat and laughed at them as we dashed by, swinging south,
and southeast to east, and even to northeast, and then east again,
southeast and south and on around to the west, a great double curve
where the river nearly tied a knot in itself.

As we swept on to the west, the Fire People far behind, a familiar scene
flashed upon our eyes.

It was the great drinking-place, where we had wandered once or twice to
watch the circus of the animals when they came down to drink. Beyond
it, we knew, was the carrot patch, and beyond that the caves and the
abiding-place of the horde. We began to paddle for the bank that
slid swiftly past, and before we knew it we were down upon the
drinking-places used by the horde. There were the women and children,
the water carriers, a number of them, filling their gourds. At sight of
us they stampeded madly up the run-ways, leaving behind them a trail of
gourds they had dropped.

We landed, and of course we neglected to tie up the catamaran, which
floated off down the river. Right cautiously we crept up a run-way.
The Folk had all disappeared into their holes, though here and there
we could see a face peering out at us. There was no sign of Red-Eye. We
were home again. And that night we slept in our own little cave high
up on the cliff, though first we had to evict a couple of pugnacious
youngsters who had taken possession.



CHAPTER XIV


The months came and went. The drama and tragedy of the future were yet
to come upon the stage, and in the meantime we pounded nuts and lived.
It--vas a good year, I remember, for nuts. We used to fill gourds
with nuts and carry them to the pounding-places. We placed them in
depressions in the rock, and, with a piece of rock in our hands, we
cracked them and ate them as we cracked.

It was the fall of the year when Lop-Ear and I returned from our
long adventure-journey, and the winter that followed was mild. I made
frequent trips to the neighborhood of my old home-tree, and frequently
I searched the whole territory that lay between the blueberry swamp and
the mouth of the slough where Lop-Ear and I had learned navigation, but
no clew could I get of the Swift One. She had disappeared. And I wanted
her. I was impelled by that hunger which I have mentioned, and which was
akin to physical hunger, albeit it came often upon me when my stomach
was full. But all my search was vain.

Life was not monotonous at the caves, however. There was Red-Eye to be
considered. Lop-Ear and I never knew a moment's peace except when we
were in our own little cave. In spite of the enlargement of the entrance
we had made, it was still a tight squeeze for us to get in. And though
from time to time we continued to enlarge, it was still too small for
Red-Eye's monstrous body. But he never stormed our cave again. He had
learned the lesson well, and he carried on his neck a bulging lump to
show where I had hit him with the rock. This lump never went away, and
it was prominent enough to be seen at a distance. I often took great
delight in watching that evidence of my handiwork; and sometimes, when I
was myself assuredly safe, the sight of it caused me to laugh.

While the other Folk would not have come to our rescue had Red-Eye
proceeded to tear Lop-Ear and me to pieces before their eyes,
nevertheless they sympathized with us. Possibly it was not sympathy but
the way they expressed their hatred for Red-Eye; at any rate they
always warned us of his approach. Whether in the forest, at the
drinking-places, or in the open space before the caves, they were always
quick to warn us. Thus we had the advantage of many eyes in our feud
with Red-Eye, the atavism.

Once he nearly got me. It was early in the morning, and the Folk were
not yet up. The surprise was complete. I was cut off from the way up
the cliff to my cave. Before I knew it I had dashed into the
double-cave,--the cave where Lop-Ear had first eluded me long years
before, and where old Saber-Tooth had come to discomfiture when he
pursued the two Folk. By the time I had got through the connecting
passage between the two caves, I discovered that Red-Eye was not
following me. The next moment he charged into the cave from the outside.
I slipped back through the passage, and he charged out and around and in
upon me again. I merely repeated my performance of slipping through the
passage.

He kept me there half a day before he gave up. After that, when Lop-Ear
and I were reasonably sure of gaining the double-cave, we did not
retreat up the cliff to our own cave when Red-Eye came upon the scene.
All we did was to keep an eye on him and see that he did not cut across
our line of retreat.

It was during this winter that Red-Eye killed his latest wife with abuse
and repeated beatings. I have called him an atavism, but in this he
was worse than an atavism, for the males of the lower animals do not
maltreat and murder their mates. In this I take it that Red-Eye, in
spite of his tremendous atavistic tendencies, foreshadowed the coming
of man, for it is the males of the human species only that murder their
mates.

As was to be expected, with the doing away of one wife Red-Eye
proceeded to get another. He decided upon the Singing One. She was the
granddaughter of old Marrow-Bone, and the daughter of the Hairless One.
She was a young thing, greatly given to singing at the mouth of her cave
in the twilight, and she had but recently mated with Crooked-Leg. He was
a quiet individual, molesting no one and not given to bickering with
his fellows. He was no fighter anyway. He was small and lean, and not so
active on his legs as the rest of us.

Red-Eye never committed a more outrageous deed. It was in the quiet at
the end of the day, when we began to congregate in the open space before
climbing into our caves. Suddenly the Singing One dashed up a run-way
from a drinking-place, pursued by Red-Eye. She ran to her husband. Poor
little Crooked-Leg was terribly scared. But he was a hero. He knew that
death was upon him, yet he did not run away. He stood up, and chattered,
bristled, and showed his teeth.

Red-Eye roared with rage. It was an offence to him that any of the Folk
should dare to withstand him. His hand shot out and clutched Crooked-Leg
by the neck. The latter sank his teeth into Red-Eye's arm; but the next
moment, with a broken neck, Crooked-Leg was floundering and squirming on
the ground. The Singing One screeched and gibbered. Red-Eye seized her
by the hair of her head and dragged her toward his cave. He handled her
roughly when the climb began, and he dragged and hauled her up into the
cave.

We were very angry, insanely, vociferously angry. Beating our chests,
bristling, and gnashing our teeth, we gathered together in our rage. We
felt the prod of gregarious instinct, the drawing together as though for
united action, the impulse toward cooperation. In dim ways this need for
united action was impressed upon us. But there was no way to achieve it
because there was no way to express it. We did not turn to, all of us,
and destroy Red-Eye, because we lacked a vocabulary. We were vaguely
thinking thoughts for which there were no thought-symbols. These
thought-symbols were yet to be slowly and painfully invented.

We tried to freight sound with the vague thoughts that flitted like
shadows through our consciousness. The Hairless One began to chatter
loudly. By his noises he expressed anger against Red-Eye and desire to
hurt Red-Eye. Thus far he got, and thus far we understood. But when he
tried to express the cooperative impulse that stirred within him,
his noises became gibberish. Then Big-Face, with brow-bristling and
chest-pounding, began to chatter. One after another of us joined in the
orgy of rage, until even old Marrow-Bone was mumbling and spluttering
with his cracked voice and withered lips. Some one seized a stick and
began pounding a log. In a moment he had struck a rhythm. Unconsciously,
our yells and exclamations yielded to this rhythm. It had a soothing
effect upon us; and before we knew it, our rage forgotten, we were in
the full swing of a hee-hee council.

These hee-hee councils splendidly illustrate the inconsecutiveness and
inconsequentiality of the Folk. Here were we, drawn together by mutual
rage and the impulse toward cooperation, led off into forgetfulness by
the establishment of a rude rhythm. We were sociable and gregarious, and
these singing and laughing councils satisfied us. In ways the hee-hee
council was an adumbration of the councils of primitive man, and of the
great national assemblies and international conventions of latter-day
man. But we Folk of the Younger World lacked speech, and whenever we
were so drawn together we precipitated babel, out of which arose a
unanimity of rhythm that contained within itself the essentials of art
yet to come. It was art nascent.

There was nothing long-continued about these rhythms that we struck. A
rhythm was soon lost, and pandemonium reigned until we could find the
rhythm again or start a new one. Sometimes half a dozen rhythms would
be swinging simultaneously, each rhythm backed by a group that strove
ardently to drown out the other rhythms.

In the intervals of pandemonium, each chattered, cut up, hooted,
screeched, and danced, himself sufficient unto himself, filled with
his own ideas and volitions to the exclusion of all others, a veritable
centre of the universe, divorced for the time being from any unanimity
with the other universe-centres leaping and yelling around him. Then
would come the rhythm--a clapping of hands; the beating of a stick upon
a log; the example of one that leaped with repetitions; or the chanting
of one that uttered, explosively and regularly, with inflection that
rose and fell, "A-bang, a-bang! A-bang, a-bang!" One after another of
the self-centred Folk would yield to it, and soon all would be dancing
or chanting in chorus. "Ha-ah, ha-ah, ha-ah-ha!" was one of our favorite
choruses, and another was, "Eh-wah, eh-wah, eh-wah-hah!"

And so, with mad antics, leaping, reeling, and over-balancing, we
danced and sang in the sombre twilight of the primeval world, inducing
forgetfulness, achieving unanimity, and working ourselves up into
sensuous frenzy. And so it was that our rage against Red-Eye was soothed
away by art, and we screamed the wild choruses of the hee-hee council
until the night warned us of its terrors, and we crept away to our holes
in the rocks, calling softly to one another, while the stars came out
and darkness settled down.

We were afraid only of the dark. We had no germs of religion, no
conceptions of an unseen world. We knew only the real world, and
the things we feared were the real things, the concrete dangers, the
flesh-and-blood animals that preyed. It was they that made us afraid of
the dark, for darkness was the time of the hunting animals. It was then
that they came out of their lairs and pounced upon one from the dark
wherein they lurked invisible.

Possibly it was out of this fear of the real denizens of the dark that
the fear of the unreal denizens was later to develop and to culminate in
a whole and mighty unseen world. As imagination grew it is likely that
the fear of death increased until the Folk that were to come projected
this fear into the dark and peopled it with spirits. I think the Fire
People had already begun to be afraid of the dark in this fashion; but
the reasons we Folk had for breaking up our hee-hee councils and fleeing
to our holes were old Saber-Tooth, the lions and the jackals, the wild
dogs and the wolves, and all the hungry, meat-eating breeds.



CHAPTER XV


Lop-Ear got married. It was the second winter after our
adventure-journey, and it was most unexpected. He gave me no warning.
The first I knew was one twilight when I climbed the cliff to our cave.
I squeezed into the entrance and there I stopped. There was no room for
me. Lop-Ear and his mate were in possession, and she was none other than
my sister, the daughter of my step-father, the Chatterer.

I tried to force my way in. There was space only for two, and that space
was already occupied. Also, they had me at a disadvantage, and, what
of the scratching and hair-pulling I received, I was glad to retreat. I
slept that night, and for many nights, in the connecting passage of the
double-cave. From my experience it seemed reasonably safe. As the two
Folk had dodged old Saber-Tooth, and as I had dodged Red-Eye, so it
seemed to me that I could dodge the hunting animals by going back and
forth between the two caves.

I had forgotten the wild dogs. They were small enough to go through any
passage that I could squeeze through. One night they nosed me out. Had
they entered both caves at the same time they would have got me. As
it was, followed by some of them through the passage, I dashed out the
mouth of the other cave. Outside were the rest of the wild dogs. They
sprang for me as I sprang for the cliff-wall and began to climb. One
of them, a lean and hungry brute, caught me in mid-leap. His teeth sank
into my thigh-muscles, and he nearly dragged me back. He held on, but I
made no effort to dislodge him, devoting my whole effort to climbing out
of reach of the rest of the brutes.

Not until I was safe from them did I turn my attention to that live
agony on my thigh. And then, a dozen feet above the snapping pack that
leaped and scrambled against the wall and fell back, I got the dog by
the throat and slowly throttled him. I was a long time doing it. He
clawed and ripped my hair and hide with his hind-paws, and ever he
jerked and lunged with his weight to drag me from the wall.

At last his teeth opened and released my torn flesh. I carried his body
up the cliff with me, and perched out the night in the entrance of my
old cave, wherein were Lop-Ear and my sister. But first I had to endure
a storm of abuse from the aroused horde for being the cause of the
disturbance. I had my revenge. From time to time, as the noise of
the pack below eased down, I dropped a rock and started it up again.
Whereupon, from all around, the abuse of the exasperated Folk began
afresh. In the morning I shared the dog with Lop-Ear and his wife,
and for several days the three of us were neither vegetarians nor
fruitarians.

Lop-Ear's marriage was not a happy one, and the consolation about it is
that it did not last very long. Neither he nor I was happy during that
period. I was lonely. I suffered the inconvenience of being cast out of
my safe little cave, and somehow I did not make it up with any other of
the young males. I suppose my long-continued chumming with Lop-Ear had
become a habit.

I might have married, it is true; and most likely I should have married
had it not been for the dearth of females in the horde. This dearth,
it is fair to assume, was caused by the exorbitance of Red-Eye, and it
illustrates the menace he was to the existence of the horde. Then there
was the Swift One, whom I had not forgotten.

At any rate, during the period of Lop-Ear's marriage I knocked about
from pillar to post, in danger every night that I slept, and never
comfortable. One of the Folk died, and his widow was taken into the cave
of another one of the Folk. I took possession of the abandoned cave, but
it was wide-mouthed, and after Red-Eye nearly trapped me in it one day,
I returned to sleeping in the passage of the double-cave. During the
summer, however, I used to stay away from the caves for weeks, sleeping
in a tree-shelter I made near the mouth of the slough.

I have said that Lop-Ear was not happy. My sister was the daughter of
the Chatterer, and she made Lop-Ear's life miserable for him. In no
other cave was there so much squabbling and bickering. If Red-Eye was
a Bluebeard, Lop-Ear was hen-pecked; and I imagine that Red-Eye was too
shrewd ever to covet Lop-Ear's wife.

Fortunately for Lop-Ear, she died. An unusual thing happened
that summer. Late, almost at the end of it, a second crop of the
stringy-rooted carrots sprang up. These unexpected second-crop roots
were young and juicy and tender, and for some time the carrot-patch was
the favorite feeding-place of the horde. One morning, early, several
score of us were there making our breakfast. On one side of me was the
Hairless One. Beyond him were his father and son, old Marrow-Bone and
Long-Lip. On the other side of me were my sister and Lop-Ear, she being
next to me.

There was no warning. On the sudden, both the Hairless One and my sister
sprang and screamed. At the same instant I heard the thud of the arrows
that transfixed them. The next instant they were down on the ground,
floundering and gasping, and the rest of us were stampeding for the
trees. An arrow drove past me and entered the ground, its feathered
shaft vibrating and oscillating from the impact of its arrested flight.
I remember clearly how I swerved as I ran, to go past it, and that I
gave it a needlessly wide berth. I must have shied at it as a horse
shies at an object it fears.

Lop-Ear took a smashing fall as he ran beside me. An arrow had driven
through the calf of his leg and tripped him. He tried to run, but was
tripped and thrown by it a second time. He sat up, crouching, trembling
with fear, and called to me pleadingly. I dashed back. He showed me the
arrow. I caught hold of it to pull it out, but the consequent hurt made
him seize my hand and stop me. A flying arrow passed between us. Another
struck a rock, splintered, and fell to the ground. This was too much. I
pulled, suddenly, with all my might. Lop-Ear screamed as the arrow
came out, and struck at me angrily. But the next moment we were in full
flight again.

I looked back. Old Marrow-Bone, deserted and far behind, was tottering
silently along in his handicapped race with death. Sometimes he almost
fell, and once he did fall; but no more arrows were coming. He scrambled
weakly to his feet. Age burdened him heavily, but he did not want to
die. The three Fire-Men, who were now running forward from their forest
ambush, could easily have got him, but they did not try. Perhaps he was
too old and tough. But they did want the Hairless One and my sister,
for as I looked back from the trees I could see the Fire-Men beating in
their heads with rocks. One of the Fire-Men was the wizened old hunter
who limped.

We went on through the trees toward the caves--an excited and disorderly
mob that drove before it to their holes all the small life of the
forest, and that set the blue-jays screaming impudently. Now that
there was no immediate danger, Long-Lip waited for his grand-father,
Marrow-Bone; and with the gap of a generation between them, the old
fellow and the youth brought up our rear.

And so it was that Lop-Ear became a bachelor once more. That night
I slept with him in the old cave, and our old life of chumming began
again. The loss of his mate seemed to cause him no grief. At least he
showed no signs of it, nor of need for her. It was the wound in his leg
that seemed to bother him, and it was all of a week before he got back
again to his old spryness.

Marrow-Bone was the only old member in the horde. Sometimes, on looking
back upon him, when the vision of him is most clear, I note a striking
resemblance between him and the father of my father's gardener. The
gardener's father was very old, very wrinkled and withered; and for all
the world, when he peered through his tiny, bleary eyes and mumbled
with his toothless gums, he looked and acted like old Marrow-Bone. This
resemblance, as a child, used to frighten me. I always ran when I saw
the old man tottering along on his two canes. Old Marrow-Bone even had
a bit of sparse and straggly white beard that seemed identical with the
whiskers of the old man.

As I have said, Marrow-Bone was the only old member of the horde. He
was an exception. The Folk never lived to old age. Middle age was fairly
rare. Death by violence was the common way of death. They died as my
father had died, as Broken-Tooth had died, as my sister and the Hairless
One had just died--abruptly and brutally, in the full possession of
their faculties, in the full swing and rush of life. Natural death? To
die violently was the natural way of dying in those days.

No one died of old age among the Folk. I never knew of a case. Even
Marrow-Bone did not die that way, and he was the only one in my
generation who had the chance. A bad rippling, any serious accidental
or temporary impairment of the faculties, meant swift death. As a rule,
these deaths were not witnessed.

Members of the horde simply dropped out of sight. They left the caves
in the morning, and they never came back. They disappeared--into the
ravenous maws of the hunting creatures.

This inroad of the Fire People on the carrot-patch was the beginning of
the end, though we did not know it. The hunters of the Fire People began
to appear more frequently as the time went by. They came in twos and
threes, creeping silently through the forest, with their flying arrows
able to annihilate distance and bring down prey from the top of the
loftiest tree without themselves climbing into it. The bow and arrow
was like an enormous extension of their leaping and striking muscles,
so that, virtually, they could leap and kill at a hundred feet and more.
This made them far more terrible than Saber-Tooth himself. And then they
were very wise. They had speech that enabled them more effectively to
reason, and in addition they understood cooperation.

We Folk came to be very circumspect when we were in the forest. We were
more alert and vigilant and timid. No longer were the trees a protection
to be relied upon. No longer could we perch on a branch and laugh
down at our carnivorous enemies on the ground. The Fire People were
carnivorous, with claws and fangs a hundred feet long, the most terrible
of all the hunting animals that ranged the primeval world.

One morning, before the Folk had dispersed to the forest, there was a
panic among the water-carriers and those who had gone down to the river
to drink. The whole horde fled to the caves. It was our habit, at such
times, to flee first and investigate afterward. We waited in the mouths
of our caves and watched. After some time a Fire-Man stepped cautiously
into the open space. It was the little wizened old hunter. He stood for
a long time and watched us, looking our caves and the cliff-wall up and
down. He descended one of the run-ways to a drinking-place, returning
a few minutes later by another run-way. Again he stood and watched us
carefully, for a long time. Then he turned on his heel and limped
into the forest, leaving us calling querulously and plaintively to one
another from the cave-mouths.



CHAPTER XVI


I found her down in the old neighborhood near the blueberry swamp,
where my mother lived and where Lop-Ear and I had built our first
tree-shelter. It was unexpected. As I came under the tree I heard the
familiar soft sound and looked up. There she was, the Swift One, sitting
on a limb and swinging her legs back and forth as she looked at me.

I stood still for some time. The sight of her had made me very happy.
And then an unrest and a pain began to creep in on this happiness. I
started to climb the tree after her, and she retreated slowly out the
limb. Just as I reached for her, she sprang through the air and landed
in the branches of the next tree. From amid the rustling leaves she
peeped out at me and made soft sounds. I leaped straight for her, and
after an exciting chase the situation was duplicated, for there she was,
making soft sounds and peeping out from the leaves of a third tree.

It was borne in upon me that somehow it was different now from the old
days before Lop-Ear and I had gone on our adventure-journey. I wanted
her, and I knew that I wanted her. And she knew it, too. That was why
she would not let me come near her. I forgot that she was truly the
Swift One, and that in the art of climbing she had been my teacher. I
pursued her from tree to tree, and ever she eluded me, peeping back at
me with kindly eyes, making soft sounds, and dancing and leaping and
teetering before me just out of reach. The more she eluded me, the more
I wanted to catch her, and the lengthening shadows of the afternoon bore
witness to the futility of my effort.

As I pursued her, or sometimes rested in an adjoining tree and watched
her, I noticed the change in her. She was larger, heavier, more
grown-up. Her lines were rounder, her muscles fuller, and there was
about her that indefinite something of maturity that was new to her and
that incited me on. Three years she had been gone--three years at the
very least, and the change in her was marked. I say three years; it is
as near as I can measure the time. A fourth year may have elapsed, which
I have confused with the happenings of the other three years. The more I
think of it, the more confident I am that it must be four years that she
was away.

Where she went, why she went, and what happened to her during that time,
I do not know. There was no way for her to tell me, any more than there
was a way for Lop-Ear and me to tell the Folk what we had seen when
we were away. Like us, the chance is she had gone off on an
adventure-journey, and by herself. On the other hand, it is possible
that Red-Eye may have been the cause of her going. It is quite certain
that he must have come upon her from time to time, wandering in the
woods; and if he had pursued her there is no question but that it would
have been sufficient to drive her away. From subsequent events, I am led
to believe that she must have travelled far to the south, across a range
of mountains and down to the banks of a strange river, away from any of
her kind. Many Tree People lived down there, and I think it must have
been they who finally drove her back to the horde and to me. My reasons
for this I shall explain later.

The shadows grew longer, and I pursued more ardently than ever, and
still I could not catch her. She made believe that she was trying
desperately to escape me, and all the time she managed to keep just
beyond reach. I forgot everything--time, the oncoming of night, and my
meat-eating enemies. I was insane with love of her, and with--anger,
too, because she would not let me come up with her. It was strange how
this anger against her seemed to be part of my desire for her.

As I have said, I forgot everything. In racing across an open space I
ran full tilt upon a colony of snakes. They did not deter me. I was mad.
They struck at me, but I ducked and dodged and ran on. Then there was a
python that ordinarily would have sent me screeching to a tree-top. He
did run me into a tree; but the Swift One was going out of sight, and I
sprang back to the ground and went on. It was a close shave. Then there
was my old enemy, the hyena. From my conduct he was sure something was
going to happen, and he followed me for an hour. Once we exasperated a
band of wild pigs, and they took after us. The Swift One dared a wide
leap between trees that was too much for me. I had to take to the
ground. There were the pigs. I didn't care. I struck the earth within
a yard of the nearest one. They flanked me as I ran, and chased me into
two different trees out of the line of my pursuit of the Swift One. I
ventured the ground again, doubled back, and crossed a wide open space,
with the whole band grunting, bristling, and tusk-gnashing at my heels.

If I had tripped or stumbled in that open space, there would have been
no chance for me. But I didn't. And I didn't care whether I did or not.
I was in such mood that I would have faced old Saber-Tooth himself, or a
score of arrow-shooting Fire People. Such was the madness of love...with
me. With the Swift One it was different. She was very wise. She did
not take any real risks, and I remember, on looking back across the
centuries to that wild love-chase, that when the pigs delayed me she
did not run away very fast, but waited, rather, for me to take up the
pursuit again. Also, she directed her retreat before me, going always in
the direction she wanted to go.

At last came the dark. She led me around the mossy shoulder of a canyon
wall that out-jutted among the trees. After that we penetrated a dense
mass of underbrush that scraped and ripped me in passing. But she never
ruffled a hair. She knew the way. In the midst of the thicket was a
large oak. I was very close to her when she climbed it; and in the
forks, in the nest-shelter I had sought so long and vainly, I caught
her.

The hyena had taken our trail again, and he now sat down on the ground
and made hungry noises. But we did not mind, and we laughed at him when
he snarled and went away through the thicket. It was the spring-time,
and the night noises were many and varied. As was the custom at that
time of the year, there was much fighting among the animals. From
the nest we could hear the squealing and neighing of wild horses, the
trumpeting of elephants, and the roaring of lions. But the moon came
out, and the air was warm, and we laughed and were unafraid.

I remember, next morning, that we came upon two ruffled cock-birds that
fought so ardently that I went right up to them and caught them by their
necks. Thus did the Swift One and I get our wedding breakfast. They were
delicious. It was easy to catch birds in the spring of the year. There
was one night that year when two elk fought in the moonlight, while the
Swift One and I watched from the trees; and we saw a lion and lioness
crawl up to them unheeded, and kill them as they fought.

There is no telling how long we might have lived in the Swift One's
tree-shelter. But one day, while we were away, the tree was struck
by lightning. Great limbs were riven, and the nest was demolished. I
started to rebuild, but the Swift One would have nothing to do with it.
As I was to learn, she was greatly afraid of lightning, and I could not
persuade her back into the tree. So it came about, our honeymoon over,
that we went to the caves to live. As Lop-Ear had evicted me from the
cave when he got married, I now evicted him; and the Swift One and I
settled down in it, while he slept at night in the connecting passage of
the double cave.

And with our coming to live with the horde came trouble. Red-Eye had had
I don't know how many wives since the Singing One. She had gone the way
of the rest. At present he had a little, soft, spiritless thing that
whimpered and wept all the time, whether he beat her or not; and her
passing was a question of very little time. Before she passed, even,
Red-Eye set his eyes on the Swift One; and when she passed, the
persecution of the Swift One began.

Well for her that she was the Swift One, that she had that amazing
aptitude for swift flight through the trees. She needed all her wisdom
and daring in order to keep out of the clutches of Red-Eye. I could not
help her. He was so powerful a monster that he could have torn me limb
from limb. As it was, to my death I carried an injured shoulder
that ached and went lame in rainy weather and that was a mark of is
handiwork.

The Swift One was sick at the time I received this injury. It must
have been a touch of the malaria from which we sometimes suffered;
but whatever it was, it made her dull and heavy. She did not have the
accustomed spring to her muscles, and was indeed in poor shape for
flight when Red-Eye cornered her near the lair of the wild dogs, several
miles south from the caves. Usually, she would have circled around
him, beaten him in the straight-away, and gained the protection of our
small-mouthed cave. But she could not circle him. She was too dull and
slow. Each time he headed her off, until she gave over the attempt and
devoted her energies wholly to keeping out of his clutches.

Had she not been sick it would have been child's play for her to elude
him; but as it was, it required all her caution and cunning. It was to
her advantage that she could travel on thinner branches than he, and
make wider leaps. Also, she was an unerring judge of distance, and she
had an instinct for knowing the strength of twigs, branches, and rotten
limbs.

It was an interminable chase. Round and round and back and forth
for long stretches through the forest they dashed. There was great
excitement among the other Folk. They set up a wild chattering, that was
loudest when Red-Eye was at a distance, and that hushed when the chase
led him near. They were impotent onlookers. The females screeched and
gibbered, and the males beat their chests in helpless rage. Big Face
was especially angry, and though he hushed his racket when Red-Eye drew
near, he did not hush it to the extent the others did.

As for me, I played no brave part. I know I was anything but a hero.
Besides, of what use would it have been for me to encounter Red-Eye? He
was the mighty monster, the abysmal brute, and there was no hope for me
in a conflict of strength. He would have killed me, and the situation
would have remained unchanged. He would have caught the Swift One before
she could have gained the cave. As it was, I could only look on in
helpless fury, and dodge out of the way and cease my raging when he came
too near.

The hours passed. It was late afternoon. And still the chase went on.
Red-Eye was bent upon exhausting the Swift One. He deliberately ran her
down. After a long time she began to tire and could no longer maintain
her headlong flight. Then it was that she began going far out on the
thinnest branches, where he could not follow. Thus she might have got
a breathing spell, but Red-Eye was fiendish. Unable to follow her, he
dislodged her by shaking her off. With all his strength and weight, he
would shake the branch back and forth until he snapped her off as one
would snap a fly from a whip-lash. The first time, she saved herself by
falling into branches lower down. Another time, though they did not
save her from the ground, they broke her fall. Still another time, so
fiercely did he snap her from the branch, she was flung clear across a
gap into another tree. It was remarkable, the way she gripped and saved
herself. Only when driven to it did she seek the temporary safety of the
thin branches. But she was so tired that she could not otherwise avoid
him, and time after time she was compelled to take to the thin branches.

Still the chase went on, and still the Folk screeched, beat their
chests, and gnashed their teeth. Then came the end. It was almost
twilight. Trembling, panting, struggling for breath, the Swift One clung
pitiably to a high thin branch. It was thirty feet to the ground, and
nothing intervened. Red-Eye swung back and forth on the branch farther
down. It became a pendulum, swinging wider and wider with every lunge
of his weight. Then he reversed suddenly, just before the downward swing
was completed. Her grips were torn loose, and, screaming, she was hurled
toward the ground.

But she righted herself in mid-air and descended feet first. Ordinarily,
from such a height, the spring in her legs would have eased the shock
of impact with the ground. But she was exhausted. She could not exercise
this spring. Her legs gave under her, having only partly met the shock,
and she crashed on over on her side. This, as it turned out, did not
injure her, but it did knock the breath from her lungs. She lay helpless
and struggling for air.

Red-Eye rushed upon her and seized her. With his gnarly fingers twisted
into the hair of her head, he stood up and roared in triumph and
defiance at the awed Folk that watched from the trees. Then it was that
I went mad. Caution was thrown to the winds; forgotten was the will to
live of my flesh. Even as Red-Eye roared, from behind I dashed upon him.
So unexpected was my charge that I knocked him off his feet. I twined
my arms and legs around him and strove to hold him down. This would have
been impossible to accomplish had he not held tightly with one hand to
the Swift One's hair.

Encouraged by my conduct, Big-Face became a sudden ally. He charged in,
sank his teeth in Red-Eye's arm, and ripped and tore at his face. This
was the time for the rest of the Folk to have joined in. It was the
chance to do for Red-Eye for all time. But they remained afraid in the
trees.

It was inevitable that Red-Eye should win in the struggle against the
two of us. The reason he did not finish us off immediately was that the
Swift One clogged his movements. She had regained her breath and was
beginning to resist. He would not release his clutch on her hair, and
this handicapped him. He got a grip on my arm. It was the beginning of
the end for me. He began to draw me toward him into a position where
he could sink his teeth into my throat. His mouth was open, and he was
grinning. And yet, though he had just begun to exert his strength, in
that moment he wrenched my shoulder so that I suffered from it for the
remainder of my life.

And in that moment something happened. There was no warning. A great
body smashed down upon the four of us locked together. We were driven
violently apart and rolled over and over, and in the suddenness of
surprise we released our holds on one another. At the moment of the
shock, Big-Face screamed terribly. I did not know what had happened,
though I smelled tiger and caught a glimpse of striped fur as I sprang
for a tree.

It was old Saber-Tooth. Aroused in his lair by the noise we had made, he
had crept upon us unnoticed. The Swift One gained the next tree to mine,
and I immediately joined her. I put my arms around her and held her
close to me while she whimpered and cried softly. From the ground came
a snarling, and crunching of bones. It was Saber-Tooth making his supper
off of what had been Big-Face. From beyond, with inflamed rims and eyes,
Red-Eye peered down. Here was a monster mightier than he. The Swift One
and I turned and went away quietly through the trees toward the cave,
while the Folk gathered overhead and showered down abuse and twigs and
branches upon their ancient enemy. He lashed his tail and snarled, but
went on eating.

And in such fashion were we saved. It was a mere accident--the sheerest
accident. Else would I have died, there in Red-Eye's clutch, and there
would have been no bridging of time to the tune of a thousand centuries
down to a progeny that reads newspapers and rides on electric cars--ay,
and that writes narratives of bygone happenings even as this is written.



CHAPTER XVII

It was in the early fall of the following year that it happened. After
his failure to get the Swift One, Red-Eye had taken another wife; and,
strange to relate, she was still alive. Stranger still, they had a baby
several months old--Red-Eye's first child. His previous wives had never
lived long enough to bear him children. The year had gone well for all
of us. The weather had been exceptionally mild and food plentiful. I
remember especially the turnips of that year. The nut crop was also very
heavy, and the wild plums were larger and sweeter than usual.

In short, it was a golden year. And then it happened. It was in the
early morning, and we were surprised in our caves. In the chill gray
light we awoke from sleep, most of us, to encounter death. The Swift
One and I were aroused by a pandemonium of screeching and gibbering. Our
cave was the highest of all on the cliff, and we crept to the mouth and
peered down. The open space was filled with the Fire People. Their cries
and yells were added to the clamor, but they had order and plan, while
we Folk had none. Each one of us fought and acted for himself, and no
one of us knew the extent of the calamity that was befalling us.

By the time we got to stone-throwing, the Fire People had massed thick
at the base of the cliff. Our first volley must have mashed some heads,
for when they swerved back from the cliff three of their number were
left upon the ground. These were struggling and floundering, and one
was trying to crawl away. But we fixed them. By this time we males were
roaring with rage, and we rained rocks upon the three men that were
down. Several of the Fire-Men returned to drag them into safety, but our
rocks drove the rescuers back.

The Fire People became enraged. Also, they became cautious. In spite of
their angry yells, they kept at a distance and sent flights of arrows
against us. This put an end to the rock-throwing. By the time half
a dozen of us had been killed and a score injured, the rest of us
retreated inside our caves. I was not out of range in my lofty cave, but
the distance was great enough to spoil effective shooting, and the Fire
People did not waste many arrows on me. Furthermore, I was curious.
I wanted to see. While the Swift One remained well inside the cave,
trembling with fear and making low wailing sounds because I would not
come in, I crouched at the entrance and watched.

The fighting had now become intermittent. It was a sort of deadlock. We
were in the caves, and the question with the Fire People was how to get
us out. They did not dare come in after us, and in general we would not
expose ourselves to their arrows. Occasionally, when one of them drew in
close to the base of the cliff, one or another of the Folk would smash
a rock down. In return, he would be transfixed by half a dozen arrows.
This ruse worked well for some time, but finally the Folk no longer were
inveigled into showing themselves. The deadlock was complete.

Behind the Fire People I could see the little wizened old hunter
directing it all. They obeyed him, and went here and there at his
commands. Some of them went into the forest and returned with loads of
dry wood, leaves, and grass. All the Fire People drew in closer. While
most of them stood by with bows and arrows, ready to shoot any of the
Folk that exposed themselves, several of the Fire-Men heaped the dry
grass and wood at the mouths of the lower tier of caves. Out of these
heaps they conjured the monster we feared--FIRE. At first, wisps of
smoke arose and curled up the cliff. Then I could see the red-tongued
flames darting in and out through the wood like tiny snakes. The smoke
grew thicker and thicker, at times shrouding the whole face of the
cliff. But I was high up and it did not bother me much, though it stung
my eyes and I rubbed them with my knuckles.

Old Marrow-Bone was the first to be smoked out. A light fan of air
drifted the smoke away at the time so that I saw clearly. He broke out
through the smoke, stepping on a burning coal and screaming with
the sudden hurt of it, and essayed to climb up the cliff. The arrows
showered about him. He came to a pause on a ledge, clutching a knob of
rock for support, gasping and sneezing and shaking his head. He swayed
back and forth. The feathered ends of a dozen arrows were sticking out
of him. He was an old man, and he did not want to die. He swayed wider
and wider, his knees giving under him, and as he swayed he wailed most
plaintively. His hand released its grip and he lurched outward to the
fall. His old bones must have been sadly broken. He groaned and strove
feebly to rise, but a Fire-Man rushed in upon him and brained him with a
club.

And as it happened with Marrow-Bone, so it happened with many of the
Folk. Unable to endure the smoke-suffocation, they rushed out to fall
beneath the arrows. Some of the women and children remained in the caves
to strangle to death, but the majority met death outside.

When the Fire-Men had in this fashion cleared the first tier of caves,
they began making arrangements to duplicate the operation on the second
tier of caves. It was while they were climbing up with their grass and
wood, that Red-Eye, followed by his wife, with the baby holding to her
tightly, made a successful flight up the cliff. The Fire-Men must have
concluded that in the interval between the smoking-out operations we
would remain in our caves; so that they were unprepared, and their
arrows did not begin to fly till Red-Eye and his wife were well up the
wall. When he reached the top, he turned about and glared down at them,
roaring and beating his chest. They arched their arrows at him, and
though he was untouched he fled on.

I watched a third tier smoked out, and a fourth. A few of the Folk
escaped up the cliff, but most of them were shot off the face of it as
they strove to climb. I remember Long-Lip. He got as far as my ledge,
crying piteously, an arrow clear through his chest, the feathered shaft
sticking out behind, the bone head sticking out before, shot through the
back as he climbed. He sank down on my ledge bleeding profusely at the
mouth.

It was about this time that the upper tiers seemed to empty themselves
spontaneously. Nearly all the Folk not yet smoked out stampeded up the
cliff at the same time. This was the saving of many. The Fire People
could not shoot arrows fast enough. They filled the air with arrows, and
scores of the stricken Folk came tumbling down; but still there were a
few who reached the top and got away.

The impulse of flight was now stronger in me than curiosity. The arrows
had ceased flying. The last of the Folk seemed gone, though there may
have been a few still hiding in the upper caves. The Swift One and I
started to make a scramble for the cliff-top. At sight of us a great
cry went up from the Fire People. This was not caused by me, but by the
Swift One. They were chattering excitedly and pointing her out to one
another. They did not try to shoot her. Not an arrow was discharged.
They began calling softly and coaxingly. I stopped and looked down. She
was afraid, and whimpered and urged me on. So we went up over the top
and plunged into the trees.

This event has often caused me to wonder and speculate. If she were
really of their kind, she must have been lost from them at a time when
she was too young to remember, else would she not have been afraid of
them. On the other hand, it may well have been that while she was their
kind she had never been lost from them; that she had been born in the
wild forest far from their haunts, her father maybe a renegade Fire-Man,
her mother maybe one of my own kind, one of the Folk. But who shall say?
These things are beyond me, and the Swift One knew no more about them
than did I.

We lived through a day of terror. Most of the survivors fled toward the
blueberry swamp and took refuge in the forest in that neighborhood. And
all day hunting parties of the Fire People ranged the forest, killing us
wherever they found us. It must have been a deliberately executed plan.
Increasing beyond the limits of their own territory, they had decided on
making a conquest of ours. Sorry the conquest! We had no chance against
them. It was slaughter, indiscriminate slaughter, for they spared none,
killing old and young, effectively ridding the land of our presence.

It was like the end of the world to us. We fled to the trees as a last
refuge, only to be surrounded and killed, family by family. We saw much
of this during that day, and besides, I wanted to see. The Swift One and
I never remained long in one tree, and so escaped being surrounded. But
there seemed no place to go. The Fire-Men were everywhere, bent on their
task of extermination. Every way we turned we encountered them, and
because of this we saw much of their handiwork.

I did not see what became of my mother, but I did see the Chatterer shot
down out of the old home-tree. And I am afraid that at the sight I did a
bit of joyous teetering. Before I leave this portion of my narrative, I
must tell of Red-Eye. He was caught with his wife in a tree down by the
blueberry swamp. The Swift One and I stopped long enough in our flight
to see. The Fire-Men were too intent upon their work to notice us, and,
furthermore, we were well screened by the thicket in which we crouched.

Fully a score of the hunters were under the tree, discharging arrows
into it. They always picked up their arrows when they fell back to
earth. I could not see Red-Eye, but I could hear him howling from
somewhere in the tree.

After a short interval his howling grew muffled. He must have crawled
into a hollow in the trunk. But his wife did not win this shelter. An
arrow brought her to the ground. She was severely hurt, for she made
no effort to get away. She crouched in a sheltering way over her baby
(which clung tightly to her), and made pleading signs and sounds to the
Fire-Men. They gathered about her and laughed at her--even as Lop-Ear
and I had laughed at the old Tree-Man. And even as we had poked him with
twigs and sticks, so did the Fire-Men with Red-Eye's wife. They poked
her with the ends of their bows, and prodded her in the ribs. But she
was poor fun. She would not fight. Nor, for that matter, would she get
angry. She continued to crouch over her baby and to plead. One of the
Fire-Men stepped close to her. In his hand was a club. She saw and
understood, but she made only the pleading sounds until the blow fell.

Red-Eye, in the hollow of the trunk, was safe from their arrows. They
stood together and debated for a while, then one of them climbed into
the tree. What happened up there I could not tell, but I heard him yell
and saw the excitement of those that remained beneath. After several
minutes his body crashed down to the ground. He did not move. They
looked at him and raised his head, but it fell back limply when they let
go. Red-Eye had accounted for himself.

They were very angry. There was an opening into the trunk close to the
ground. They gathered wood and grass and built a fire. The Swift One
and I, our arms around each other, waited and watched in the thicket.
Sometimes they threw upon the fire green branches with many leaves,
whereupon the smoke became very thick.

We saw them suddenly swerve back from the tree. They were not quick
enough. Red-Eye's flying body landed in the midst of them.

He was in a frightful rage, smashing about with his long arms right and
left. He pulled the face off one of them, literally pulled it off with
those gnarly fingers of his and those tremendous muscles. He bit another
through the neck. The Fire-Men fell back with wild fierce yells, then
rushed upon him. He managed to get hold of a club and began crushing
heads like eggshells. He was too much for them, and they were compelled
to fall back again. This was his chance, and he turned his back upon
them and ran for it, still howling wrathfully. A few arrows sped after
him, but he plunged into a thicket and was gone.

The Swift One and I crept quietly away, only to run foul of another
party of Fire-Men. They chased us into the blueberry swamp, but we knew
the tree-paths across the farther morasses where they could not follow
on the ground, and so we escaped. We came out on the other side into a
narrow strip of forest that separated the blueberry swamp from the great
swamp that extended westward. Here we met Lop-Ear. How he had escaped
I cannot imagine, unless he had not slept the preceding night at the
caves.

Here, in the strip of forest, we might have built tree-shelters
and settled down; but the Fire People were performing their work of
extermination thoroughly. In the afternoon, Hair-Face and his wife fled
out from among the trees to the east, passed us, and were gone. They
fled silently and swiftly, with alarm in their faces. In the direction
from which they had come we heard the cries and yells of the hunters,
and the screeching of some one of the Folk. The Fire People had found
their way across the swamp.

The Swift One, Lop-Ear, and I followed on the heels of Hair-Face and his
wife. When we came to the edge of the great swamp, we stopped. We did
not know its paths. It was outside our territory, and it had been always
avoided by the Folk. None had ever gone into it--at least, to return.
In our minds it represented mystery and fear, the terrible unknown. As
I say, we stopped at the edge of it. We were afraid. The cries of the
Fire-Men were drawing nearer. We looked at one another. Hair-Face
ran out on the quaking morass and gained the firmer footing of a
grass-hummock a dozen yards away. His wife did not follow. She tried to,
but shrank back from the treacherous surface and cowered down.

The Swift One did not wait for me, nor did she pause till she had passed
beyond Hair-Face a hundred yards and gained a much larger hummock. By
the time Lop-Ear and I had caught up with her, the Fire-Men appeared
among the trees. Hair-Face's wife, driven by them into panic terror,
dashed after us. But she ran blindly, without caution, and broke through
the crust. We turned and watched, and saw them shoot her with arrows as
she sank down in the mud. The arrows began falling about us. Hair-Face
had now joined us, and the four of us plunged on, we knew not whither,
deeper and deeper into the swamp.



CHAPTER XVIII


Of our wanderings in the great swamp I have no clear knowledge. When I
strive to remember, I have a riot of unrelated impressions and a loss of
time-value. I have no idea of how long we were in that vast everglade,
but it must have been for weeks. My memories of what occurred invariably
take the form of nightmare. For untold ages, oppressed by protean fear,
I am aware of wandering, endlessly wandering, through a dank and soggy
wilderness, where poisonous snakes struck at us, and animals roared
around us, and the mud quaked under us and sucked at our heels.

I know that we were turned from our course countless times by streams
and lakes and slimy seas. Then there were storms and risings of the
water over great areas of the low-lying lands; and there were periods of
hunger and misery when we were kept prisoners in the trees for days and
days by these transient floods.

Very strong upon me is one picture. Large trees are about us, and from
their branches hang gray filaments of moss, while great creepers, like
monstrous serpents, curl around the trunks and writhe in tangles through
the air. And all about is the mud, soft mud, that bubbles forth gases,
and that heaves and sighs with internal agitations. And in the midst of
all this are a dozen of us. We are lean and wretched, and our bones show
through our tight-stretched skins. We do not sing and chatter and laugh.
We play no pranks. For once our volatile and exuberant spirits are
hopelessly subdued. We make plaintive, querulous noises, look at one
another, and cluster close together. It is like the meeting of the
handful of survivors after the day of the end of the world.

This event is without connection with the other events in the swamp.
How we ever managed to cross it, I do not know, but at last we came out
where a low range of hills ran down to the bank of the river. It was our
river emerging like ourselves from the great swamp. On the south bank,
where the river had broken its way through the hills, we found many
sand-stone caves. Beyond, toward the west, the ocean boomed on the bar
that lay across the river's mouth. And here, in the caves, we settled
down in our abiding-place by the sea.

There were not many of us. From time to time, as the days went by, more
of the Folk appeared. They dragged themselves from the swamp singly, and
in twos and threes, more dead than alive, mere perambulating skeletons,
until at last there were thirty of us. Then no more came from the swamp,
and Red-Eye was not among us. It was noticeable that no children had
survived the frightful journey.

I shall not tell in detail of the years we lived by the sea. It was
not a happy abiding-place. The air was raw and chill, and we suffered
continually from coughing and colds. We could not survive in such an
environment. True, we had children; but they had little hold on life
and died early, while we died faster than new ones were born. Our number
steadily diminished.

Then the radical change in our diet was not good for us. We got few
vegetables and fruits, and became fish-eaters. There were mussels and
abalones and clams and rock-oysters, and great ocean-crabs that were
thrown upon the beaches in stormy weather. Also, we found several kinds
of seaweed that were good to eat. But the change in diet caused us
stomach troubles, and none of us ever waxed fat. We were all lean and
dyspeptic-looking. It was in getting the big abalones that Lop-Ear was
lost. One of them closed upon his fingers at low-tide, and then the
flood-tide came in and drowned him. We found his body the next day,
and it was a lesson to us. Not another one of us was ever caught in the
closing shell of an abalone.

The Swift One and I managed to bring up one child, a boy--at least we
managed to bring him along for several years. But I am quite confident
he could never have survived that terrible climate. And then, one day,
the Fire People appeared again. They had come down the river, not on a
catamaran, but in a rude dug-out. There were three of them that paddled
in it, and one of them was the little wizened old hunter. They landed on
our beach, and he limped across the sand and examined our caves.

They went away in a few minutes, but the Swift One was badly scared.
We were all frightened, but none of us to the extent that she was. She
whimpered and cried and was restless all that night. In the morning she
took the child in her arms, and by sharp cries, gestures, and example,
started me on our second long flight. There were eight of the Folk (all
that was left of the horde) that remained behind in the caves. There was
no hope for them. Without doubt, even if the Fire People did not return,
they must soon have perished. It was a bad climate down there by the
sea. The Folk were not constituted for the coast-dwelling life.

We travelled south, for days skirting the great swamp but never
venturing into it. Once we broke back to the westward, crossing a range
of mountains and coming down to the coast. But it was no place for us.
There were no trees--only bleak headlands, a thundering surf, and strong
winds that seemed never to cease from blowing. We turned back across the
mountains, travelling east and south, until we came in touch with the
great swamp again.

Soon we gained the southern extremity of the swamp, and we continued our
course south and east. It was a pleasant land. The air was warm, and we
were again in the forest. Later on we crossed a low-lying range of hills
and found ourselves in an even better forest country. The farther we
penetrated from the coast the warmer we found it, and we went on and on
until we came to a large river that seemed familiar to the Swift One.
It was where she must have come during the four years' absence from
the harde. This river we crossed on logs, landing on side at the large
bluff. High up on the bluff we found our new home most difficult of
access and quite hidden from any eye beneath.

There is little more of my tale to tell. Here the Swift One and I lived
and reared our family. And here my memories end. We never made another
migration. I never dream beyond our high, inaccessible cave. And here
must have been born the child that inherited the stuff of my dreams,
that had moulded into its being all the impressions of my life--or of
the life of Big-Tooth, rather, who is my other-self, and not my real
self, but who is so real to me that often I am unable to tell what age I
am living in.

I often wonder about this line of descent. I, the modern, am
incontestably a man; yet I, Big-Tooth, the primitive, am not a man.
Somewhere, and by straight line of descent, these two parties to my dual
personality were connected. Were the Folk, before their destruction,
in the process of becoming men? And did I and mine carry through this
process? On the other hand, may not some descendant of mine have gone
in to the Fire People and become one of them? I do not know. There is no
way of learning. One thing only is certain, and that is that Big-Tooth
did stamp into the cerebral constitution of one of his progeny all the
impressions of his life, and stamped them in so indelibly that the hosts
of intervening generations have failed to obliterate them.

There is one other thing of which I must speak before I close. It is a
dream that I dream often, and in point of time the real event must have
occurred during the period of my living in the high, inaccessible cave.
I remember that I wandered far in the forest toward the east. There I
came upon a tribe of Tree People. I crouched in a thicket and watched
them at play. They were holding a laughing council, jumping up and down
and screeching rude choruses.

Suddenly they hushed their noise and ceased their capering. They shrank
down in fear, and quested anxiously about with their eyes for a way of
retreat. Then Red-Eye walked in among them. They cowered away from him.
All were frightened. But he made no attempt to hurt them. He was one
of them. At his heels, on stringy bended legs, supporting herself with
knuckles to the ground on either side, walked an old female of the Tree
People, his latest wife. He sat down in the midst of the circle. I can
see him now, as I write this, scowling, his eyes inflamed, as he peers
about him at the circle of the Tree People. And as he peers he crooks
one monstrous leg and with his gnarly toes scratches himself on the
stomach. He is Red-Eye, the atavism.





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ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



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