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Title: A Son of the Ages: The Reincarnations and Adventures of Scar, the Link
Author: Waterloo, Stanley
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 "A Son of the Ages: The Reincarnations and Adventures of Scar, the Link" ***


  [Illustration: “His eyes were flaming and his teeth shone white.... We
  were alone to fight it out.”]



  _A story of Man from the Beginning_



  _Illustrated by Craig Johns_


  _Copyright, 1914, by_

  _All rights reserved, including that of
  translation into foreign languages,
  including the Scandinavian_

  _Copyright, 1914, by the_


  CHAPTER                               PAGE

  Introduction                            ix

  I. The Link                              3

  II. The Axemen                          25

  III. The Bowmen                         48

  IV. The Clansmen                        63

  V. The Boatmen                          81

  VI. The Sowers                         101

  VII. The Tamers                        121

  VIII. The Deluge                       145

  IX. The Kitchen-Middenites             165

  X. The Lake-Dwellers                   191

  XI. The Armourers                      212

  XII. The Sailors                       237

  XIII. The Hercynian Forest             271

  XIV. Alesia and the End                298


  “His eyes were flaming, and his teeth shone white....
  We were alone to fight it out”                          _Frontispiece_

                                                             FACING PAGE

  “With long poles thrust to the bottom, we guided
  the boats here and there about the shallow
  waters”                                                             90

  “I, too, would seek to learn what might be done to
  make the wind our servant”                                         246

  “I am weakening and dying. The Valkyrie are
  circling in the sky”                                               324


A waste of waters heaved sullenly beneath a dismal canopy. Thin, slimy
masses floated here and there about the shallows of a little cove or
clung to its sodden beach. The cove led into a bay, which opened, in
its turn, upon a vast and soundless sea. But a single reach of land,
gray, flat, and lifeless and encircling partially the cove, was all of
earth there was in sight.

Close above and all about the huge and silent mystery and extending
outward far into space, was a steaming world of vapour, condensed into
enormous clouds beyond, an enshrouding curtain over all beneath. And
ever this was smitten fiercely by the distant sun, whose rays could not
yet fairly pierce the tremendous depths, yet shone through wanly here
and there upon the sombre scheme, sombre in its awful lifelessness and
silence, but with a promise, indefinable and yet assured, of life and
light to come in the tremendous future.

And eons followed eons. Man had not yet measured time. The dateless
ages passed. The vibrating waves of light, of heat, of electricity, of
magnetism, the forces of attraction and repulsion, all the agencies and
mysteries of nature’s law, laboured ceaselessly within and without the
forming world, making for life. The dense exuding vapour became a warm
yet ever present mist, through which the sun’s rays drove or filtered
and reached the earth abundantly. The world had shrunken, yet the
outlines of the bay, and even of the little cove, were there, though
otherwise the scene had changed. The floating protoplasmic fragments
had developed into a higher and far-extended life. No longer lay the
waters flat and motionless; no longer was the land a dead and drear
expanse. There were waves upon the seas and movements showing life
there, and the land was green with an infant vegetation.

And the new planet rolled through its allotted orbit while upon it
were wrought the endless processes of growth and transformation. The
constellations of the heavens slowly changed and shifted into the forms
and places which were in coming ages to be marked and named by the sons
of earth. Suns flamed and faded while this globe strained toward its
prime. Life advanced with an overwhelming rush. There might be check
but never pause to the plunging growth from the primal cells which had
floated by the sea until they had developed a looming vegetation and
almost brainless monsters in that lush and growing time.

The warm waters teemed with the myriads of life. Strange creatures
swarmed the seas devouringly or nosed and hunted along the shores, and
others of other forms ranged and floundered and fought in the depths
and glades of the gigantic fernlike forests. It was a time of heat and
moisture and of fierce development, terrible, vast, imposing.

The time, uncounted, yet brought relentlessly its transmutations. The
mottled, changing ages still trod upon each other’s heels, and reaction
and condensation came into even the law of life. The warm seas became
in area, though not in place, much as they are to-day. On land, the
vast fernlike forests lay buried deep beneath the covering surface made
by another and different vegetation. The reptilian monsters of the sea
and land had almost gone, and in their place ranged the great creatures
of another sort and type, as well of more timid life, the grass-eaters,
upon whose bodies fed the savage beasts of the new epoch. At night the
leaves rustled beneath the tread of murderous things; the air resounded
with the roar of the great cave tiger, the growl of the cave bear or
the cries and snarls of hyenas and the yelpings of the wolf packs. The
green plains were dotted with herds of little wild horses, the aurochs,
the urus, the ancient elk, and a host of other grazing things; wild
hogs were in the thickets. All was life, as before, but life of another
kind, one of pursuers and pursued, fierce, strenuous, bloody, but with
more to the brute intelligence.

There were vast upheavals and fiery rendings, but life insisted,
persisted. Gnawed by tooth of glacier, seamed and ridged by abysses and
upheavals, the planet reeled through space. Life, animal and vegetable,
retreated or advanced as Nature played or laboured with the crust she
was fashioning and refashioning into its present shape, even as she
still makes and unmakes continents or islands or blots them out at her

But life went on. New creatures, tree-climbing, ape-creatures had
developed from one of the lower stems of the dim past and had become
distinct from all other living things. Without expression, save by
scream or roar or chuckle, helpless, as yet, as against the dangerous
beasts, they still developed, and one group among them, by some
mysterious happening, outstripped the rest. Of all the creatures,
those tree-climbers, far from the strongest, possessing not greatly
more than instinct, were yet the most perceptive. Mind was in growth,
slowly, uncertainly, but still in growth. Reason fluttered within dull
brains; the climbers could think a little. Nature had begun upon her




I had broken my thumb. It was a long fall and not only was my thumb
broken, but the fingers on the same hand were crushed backward and so
sprained that they were useless, and when I tried to climb the tree
again, to renew the fight, I could not. I do not know what made me slip
and fall, for there were few among the treetop people more certain upon
a limb than I. But that upon which I had stood was old and it may be
that the one to which I clung was rotten, and so I fell, though I was
gripping the other hardly with the fingers of both my feet.

The Brown One--I call him that now, to distinguish him, though we had
no names--was a strong creature, the biggest ape in all the forest,
but it could not have been possible for him to throw me from the limb,
even when its slighter upstanding branch which I was clutching with
one hand proved weak and faithless as I lurched and slid. I should
have clung easily with my other hands--those I now call my feet--and
uptwisted myself and grappled him about the legs. Yes, it must be that
the bark came away. That was why I fell far, head downward, with arms
outreaching to break my fall, and that, so, my thumb was broken and my
fingers on one hand bent backward and sprained into hurting uselessness.

It had been the start of a good fight. It was all because of It, as I
will call her, the she thing who was the child of an old pair who had a
nest in the fork of the tree with the noisy leaves. We both wanted her,
the Brown One and I, and so we fought for her on the big limb while
she screamed shrilly in the branches above, and her father and mother
crouched chattering together in the nest of sticks and leaves in the
great crotch of the tree. He was very old, the father of It, and could
no longer climb well for either fruit or nuts. He was forced to eat
such ripened things as fell to the ground, and the grasshoppers and the
little creatures which came out of holes. But he was most crafty and
still could climb the tree with an effort, and so continued to live.
He was not quick, though, and, some day, one of the hungry, growling
creatures of the forest must catch him on the ground and that, it
seemed, must be the end of him.

My own tree, with its nest, was in an open glade of the wood, by the
river, not very distant from the tree of the Old One of whom I have
told, and before this time I could have taken It, had I but known, for
she was full grown, as was I, and once when I had met her in a treetop
we had chattered together and she had not appeared to be afraid. I gave
her fruit, and she ate. I could have taken her with me then. I wonder
why I did not?

Then, days later, I went howling through the treetops toward the home
of the father of It, for the hunger for companionship had grown upon
me. My own kith and kin were dead and I was grown big and strong and I
wanted this one she thing to be mine and in the nest with me.

It was a very good nest. I had made it carefully and solidly with
sticks laid across and interwoven with tough withes where big limbs
joined the tree trunk until they were quite a platform with a deep
hollow in the middle, and I had brought twigs and leaves to cushion the
hollow, in which I could curl myself down and sleep most comfortably,
far out of the reach of prowling beasts which came beneath at night.
The tree stood alone in the glade, and this was good, for no creature
could reach its top save by coming up its trunk. All we feared in the
top of a tree which stood by itself, was the rare great serpent, which
could climb and could even pass from one tree to another, though not so
swiftly as we. But, sometimes, he would surprise one of us asleep, and
what happened then was something of which I do not care to tell.

So, my nest was a fine one and the tree was near a great river and in a
wood in which were fruit and nuts and many birds and where the roots of
weeds in the ground were sweet and tender, and where the wild ducks and
geese laid eggs in nests by the water, where all about were many things
to eat. But the she thing hunger came upon me and I wanted It. I went
through the forest to get her.

I scrambled on all fours from the trunk of my own tree and from the
glade and so up into the treetops and swung from limb to limb toward
the house of the Old One, where I could find my mate. As I neared the
place I checked myself, clinging to a limb and listening, for I had
heard from afar that which I did not like. There came from where stood
the tree of the Old One sounds which told their story well. There was
a combined roaring and whimpering and squalling, and I knew that the
squalling came from It. I could not tell where was the roaring. I was
in the tree itself before I learned. It was the big Brown One who was
roaring in anger because he was baffled in what he sought. My It stood
upon a limb of the tree, clinging to a branch beside her, while he
clutched another and strove to tear her away. In the nest the Old One
and his mate were crouching whimperingly. The Old One could not fight.
He was too weak.

I was strong, very strong. Once when the dun jackal--the half-wolf
thing which follows the big tiger and bear and leopard and gnaws the
red bones after they have killed and eaten, went mad, as he sometimes
does, fearing nothing, though a coward at other times--sprang at me
when I was on the ground, I caught him by the throat as he leaped and,
with the other hand gripped on him, tore away one of his forelegs,
shoulder and all, clear from his body. He raged no more, and it was
good for all of the creatures of the forest, since all feared him when
he went mad. Yes, I was strong, but I was not stronger than the Brown
One. I did not know that yet.

The rage which came upon me when I saw the Brown One trying to carry
away the she thing I wanted is something of which I do not know how
to tell. I would have her myself and I would kill him! I roared and
bellowed, and clambered downward until I dropped upon the limb whereon
he and It were struggling. He turned in a second and came snarlingly
toward me, while It, still squalling for a moment, then chattering
wildly, fled upward among the branches and then into another tree and
so out of sight deep into the forest. We were alone to fight it out.

We did not wait. His eyes were flaming and his teeth shone white and
whetting as he swung toward me, and we met each with one hand grasping
the nearest branch for support and the other free with which to fence
and clutch and tear. I caught him fairly by the skin on the back of his
neck, at last, and pulled his head toward me and with my teeth tore
away one ear and a strip of skin and flesh, though he bit me deeply and
tore me on the shoulder. I should have rent at his neck and killed him
before he could have hurt me had all gone as it should have done. But
the slight limb clutched by my supporting hand broke at its base and I
was swirled off and hanging by my unprotected feet. In an instant he
was down upon the limb, biting and tearing at them. They were slipping
and I could not lift myself and it was beyond endurance. My grip
relaxed in agony and I fell far to the ground--fell to tear a deep gash
in my face from eye to jaw, to leave a ghastly, lasting scar, to crush
my arms beneath me and lie there stunned and with the fingers of one
hand helpless, as I have told, and the thumb so broken that it lay flat
and distorted across the palm of my hand.

The Brown One did not come down to finish me. He scarcely looked at me.
He clambered higher up the tree and leaped into the next one and was
off into the forest crying out triumphantly. He was in the chase of It.

I lay helpless for a long time. The Old One and his mate paid no
attention to me, but crouched there, frightened and gibbering foolishly
in their nest. At last I tried to rise, and got to my feet with
many liftings and stood by a little tree, supporting myself with my
uninjured hand. Then it came to me that I must get back to my own tree
and nest at once, and I tried to climb, so that I might travel through
the treetops, but I could not do it. My injured hand was still so weak
and lame that I could not use the fingers. The blood flowed through the
great gash in my cheek. But I must get to my own tree, somehow, else
I might be killed. I started on my hind legs, bending and supporting
myself by my well arm and hand, but it was not easy, for I was sorely
bruised and, though all of my kind walked sometimes upright, or even
ran for a distance leapingly, it was not our common mode of travel.
Through the treetops we could pass most easily and swiftly. I do not
know why it was, but I think that I had somehow acquired the habit
of walking erect more frequently than any other ape I knew, though
forelegs and clasping feet--or arms and hands as I call them now--were
sure and the treetops were a splendid highway, while upon the ground it
was rarely safe.

I reached my tree at last, almost crawling, and weak and sore, and
tried again to climb, but it was useless. I could not grasp the trunk
and lift myself, though at other times it had been but play to clamber
up to where the great limbs and my nest were. I became afraid. Any of
the fierce beasts of the night might find me lying there and kill and
eat me. I crawled to the shore of the river and crouched beside it and
let my maimed hand dangle in the cold water. That seemed to make the
pain less. Then the darkness came, and with it I was more afraid. I
crawled to where there uprose a mighty heap of tumbled, broken rocks
and wedged myself in one of the deep, narrow hollows, where I could not
well be seen from the outside, and where none of the great devouring
things could reach me save the big serpent and, it might be, the
slender leopard. A bear came smelling about and growled in his hunger,
but the passage between the rocks was too narrow for his huge bulk.
Finally, tired and suffering, I went to sleep.

I must have been near to death from exhaustion, for when I awoke the
sun was shining and the birds were singing. There were many birds. The
prowling night things must have gone away, I knew, and I crept out into
the light and stretched myself. I was very sore, but my hand did not
pain me so much, and, after I had drunk deeply and held my hand in the
water again, I felt a little of my strength come back. I started slowly
toward my tree and on my way found berries, which I ate. I tried to
climb the tree again, but failed at first. I waited and then I growled
and crunched my teeth together and forced myself to use the fingers
of my injured hand, though it hurt sickeningly, and gained my nest at
last. I was safe, but I could not rest nor lie still in my refuge.
My broken thumb was throbbing and full of pain. It still lay crushed
across my palm and was swollen and distorted. I licked it carefully
and tried to press it back into its place, but it would not go. I sat
upright in my nest and was afraid and suffering and weak--I, who had
been so strong!

My ears were strained for any sound. There was little to fear, for
only the great snake or the Brown One, should he seek me, could harm
me where I was. But all the time I listened, and it seemed to me that
there were many things about. I think now that I may have heard sounds
that were not, for my head was queer. Still, I listened all the while,
and at last I heard that which I knew was real. There was a rustle
among the leaves and the breaking of a twig in a treetop across the
glade. I peered forth anxiously to see what could have made the noise.
I did not like it. I did not know what it might be. At last I saw
something. A face was looking at me from between the leaves. It had big

Then the face disappeared and I waited long and watched for it and, at
last, it came again, and in another place. The light reached it more
clearly now and I could see the face of It. Then something happened
that was very strange. I forgot my aching thumb, my head was clearer
and I was no longer afraid of anything. I was suddenly glad and brave
and almost like myself again. I do not know why that feeling came.

I called aloud to It, making the sound we all did when we wanted
another one to come. She did not answer at first, but stayed where she
was, peering upward and backward through the wood. Then she called
softly but still clung to her safe place, still looking and searching
back and above and all about her. At last she seemed assured, and
then the slim creature swung from her perch and slipped to the ground
and ran across to my tree and was in the top so swiftly that it was
wonderful. I could not climb like that. There was no other ape in
all the woods who could catch her in the treetops, where the slender
branches intermingled.

She was there in my own tree and near me, but she did not come to the
nest. She ran up and peered down at me from a great limb above. I tried
to climb to her and could not, and crawled back into my nest again and
licked my swollen thumb and mumbled sickly. She sat perched there and
looked down at me and said nothing, but her eyes--they seemed so much
larger than the eyes of others of us--opened more widely still. Then
she made sounds like those I had been making and went back slowly to
the body of the tree and came down to the limbs where my nest was, and
raised herself and stood there with one hand on the tree and looking at
me where I lay so nearly helpless.

It came but dimly to me, but I knew then, more than ever, that in all
the forest and in all the hills there was no other she thing ape like
her. I had never thought of that before. Her hair was short, but brown
and glossy, and she was oddly slender, with a less protruding stomach
than had we other apes. It was her head, though, which was most unlike
the others. Her ears were not much outstanding nor were they ever
twitching and turning, her under jaw did not protrude so much, and her
upper lip was not a bank of a thing extending downward from almost no
nose at all. My own big jaw did not protrude so much as did the jaws of
many of my kind, and my upper lip was not so huge and wide, but I was a
monster compared with It, and my upturned face, I think, more like the
glaring countenances which we saw when the big swimming beasts in the
river sometimes thrust their nozzles out of the water.

And her eyes, the big eyes, were as dark and deep, I thought, as the
water in the spring with ferns about it behind a rock where I often
drank, and, when she chuckled and chattered at anything, there came
lights and twinkles in them, just as there came to the deep spring
water when the breeze blew upon it and made it ripple and change in the
sunlight. Of course I did not dream this out very clearly--I did not
know enough--but, even before this, the eyes of It had made me think of
the spring by the rock. I do not know why this was so. Our eyes were
not like the water. I once saw an ape poke a sharp stick into the eye
of another and the eye went away. But I had poked sticks into the water
and it did not go away. Why should the eyes of It make me think of the
deep spring by the rock?

She was never gloomy nor sat and moped as did many of us when the
cold and mist sometimes came suddenly, and we others but crouched and
huddled in our nests for warmth. Ever alert and alive, when it was
cold, she still sought nuts and the dropping fruits and other things we
ate, and brought them to her home nest. It was well for her father and
mother, who were so very old. They were dead, even now, but I did not
know that, nor did It.

So I wanted It for my mate, and it was not because she was so swift
and wise and could gather so well the nuts and fruits and the shell
things which clung to the rocks beside the river and which, when we had
cracked the shells with stones, were good to eat. I did not consider
that. I wanted her, I think, as I have said, because her eyes were like
the spring by the rock, but that must have been a foolish reason. I had
wanted her much, and now, as she stood there, I wanted her more than
ever, sick and crippled as I was.

She looked at me but made no sound, though I mumbled and called and
beckoned to her and reached out for her to come. She was still for a
while, but at last there came that look into her eyes like the ripples
I have told about, and then I knew that she would be my mate. She came
out slowly along the limb and sat on the edge of the nest and reached
out and stroked my thumb very gently. She lifted the hand and looked
at it and then licked it and looked up at me and made a clucking,
sighing sound. We could not talk, we apes, then, but we could make many
different sounds that we understood, and I knew that she was trying to
tell me that she pitied me. I tried to tell her, too, that I was glad,
and she understood me surely. I put out my well arm and drew her into
the nest with me and held her close, and she cuddled there contentedly.
We were mates now, and I was very proud and nearly well again. So she
stayed beside me for quite a time, I stroking her smooth back, and then
she looked up and laughed, in our way, and chattered and then suddenly
broke from me and ran to the tree trunk, and the sounds she made meant
food. She was down in an instant and slipped into the forest, but
she was not gone long. When she came back she had a branch which she
carried between her teeth as she climbed, and on it was much fruit,
which I ate, for again I was weak and hungry. And again and again she
went and brought me many things to eat, more fruit and soft round
roots, and, at last, by great fortune, a large bird she had caught upon
its nest. It was what I needed. My strength came back. Then, we cuddled
down together. Those were great days while I was growing well, with It
beside me. She cared for me faithfully and soon I could clamber down
the tree, though not yet swiftly. I have the memory of those fair days
yet. But they were few.

There came, one afternoon, wild howling from the forest, not more than
four or five trees away, and I could see the Brown One coming toward
us. He had found the refuge of It and was coming for her! I must fight
him now, weak as I was. I rose in front of It and grasped the upright
limb and was ready, but it did not count. My mate slipped by me and
ran to the trunk and was on the ground and running for the forest on
the other side of the glade and in the treetops there almost before I
knew that she was gone. She knew that I was not yet fit to fight the
Brown One. She called from far aloft and I knew that she would come
back to me when she could. As for the Brown One, he did not stop to
climb my tree, and try to kill me, though I gibbered and roared at him
challengingly. He swung through the tops circling the glade and I could
hear his threatening cries as they died distantly away in the forest
beyond. He was in chase of my It again. Somehow, I did not fear for
her. As well pursue the silly shadows which fly across the treetops
when the white things up in the sky came floating across the fire ball
there. One so light and slender and sure-handed could pass along the
slender outreaching branches where none heavier could follow. But I
gnashed my teeth, for I wanted to follow the Brown One and try to kill

I slept at last, and when I awoke I was like another creature. I was
almost well. I scarcely ached, and my fingers were all strong. The
thumb lay stiffly and pressed crookedly down upon my palm, as it had
been broken, but the thing was hardening and knitting. Well was it for
me that we apes recovered quickly from our wounds. When hurt, we either
died or were soon ourselves again.

I had none to help me now, and it may be it was good for me. I
clambered down from the tree and wandered forth and found a little food
and came back and waited for the return of It, but she did not come. I
waited and it seemed to me that in my craze I was some other creature.
I climbed down and ran about in the forest senselessly. Then, at night
I came back again to the nest and slept. I seemed to know more in the
morning. I had my senses. I went down beside the river and ate many
of the shell things and I ate fruit I found. I would find It now. I
searched the forest; I even went to the nest of the Old One, but it
was vacant and the gnawed bones of the Old One and his mate lay on the
ground beside his tree. I could find It nowhere. I did not believe that
the Brown One could seize her in the treetops, but he might have chased
her far away. I did not know what to do. So the days passed. Meanwhile,
I became all my mighty self. My injured thumb was strong though crooked
forward against my hand. Then, one day, a strange thing happened:

I had wandered far along the river bank and was sitting foolishly upon
a rock and playing with a piece of wood which had floated down and
stranded. It was a stout thing, larger at one end than the other, and
very heavy. The crook of my broken thumb, as it lay pressed against the
palm, left a space beneath, and through this space I idly thrust the
small end of the wood. Thus my fingers were above on one side of the
club and my thumb upon the other, bearing hardly when I chose, for I
could press the thumb down strongly, though I could scarcely raise the
end. It was a new sensation which came to interest me suddenly. I could
clasp the stick with my fingers clutching the other side and I could do
things with it. I whirled the club about my head and smote the bushes
and broke them easily. It was wonderful! Never before had fingers and
thumb of ape accomplished a grip together! The club was hard and heavy,
yet in my strong grasp it was but a plaything. It delighted me. I would
take it with me. That was well.

I started toward my glade, for night was coming and I had eaten enough.
I took a path which ran through hollows and beside a long rocky
upheaval in which were many abruptly ending defiles where, sometimes, I
had caught small animals which could not climb the smooth, steep sides.
I heard a rustling in one of these and thought that I had some prize
assured. The entrance was but a few feet wide and the passage, as I
knew, ended in a sheer height. I followed the defile to the end, but
could find no living thing. The sound which had attracted me may have
been made by some large bird which had flown before I entered. I turned
toward the entrance again, but stopped with fear in my heart, from what
I saw. I knew that death was close to me. I yelled aloud at first in my
terror and then became suddenly quiet. That was the way with most of us
big males of the apes in great emergencies. We became, when fatally at
bay, sullen, desperate things. I would die fighting. The hair upon me

It was the great wolf. A gaunt and fearful creature was the wolf of the
time, one we tree people fled from when we met him in the forest; and
when he and others of his kind gathered sometimes and ran in packs,
even the urus or the mighty aurochs ran fast and far, for few animals,
even among the greatest, could face the onslaught of the pack. As for
one of us apes, when he met a wolf singly, grapple as he might and tear
with his shorter teeth, the wolf’s jaws ever, somehow, found the neck,
and that was the end. For me there was no escape. The great wolf rushed
upon me and leaped high at my throat.

I know not why nor how I did it. In the past I would have tried
but blindly to seize upon the grisly brute, and so die grappling
and seeking to bite, but some new and sudden impulse, some fierce,
unconscious repetition of what I had just been doing in mere
wantonness, impelled my tautened nerves and muscles and, even as he
sprang, I swung the club with all my recovered strength, and, there in
mid-air, it crashed down upon the fearsome head. It crashed as do the
trees when the winds break them, and the big body dropped as it came
hurtling against me and felling me--but the jaws seized not. I leaped
to my feet for flight, but the monster only lay there heaving. Then
I went mad, mad as the sick jackal. I swung the club again and again
and brought it down upon the evil head until the skull was crushed to
pulp. I was my old self no more. I ran out from the gorge and leaped
up and down and howled across the waste and the river and toward all
the forest in wild triumph. I was the king of the apes! I could kill
as never ape had killed before! There were fewer things to fear in all
the world. I had learned to use the club! It was wonderful. I howled
daringly all the way homeward to my nest, and smote many things with
my great weapon as I passed. I climbed the tree carrying it in my
teeth, and could scarcely sleep for exultation. I was a new creature. I
had found that which made me so.

I came down in the morning, bearing my club with me. Ever after that
I carried it, and I may tell now, that as time passed, since I could
not hold it constantly in my mouth, this club-carrying made me walk
more and more on my hind legs until it became, unconsciously, a habit
with me. Now I went more recklessly about my food-seeking. I met a herd
of the wild hogs, a big sow with pigs, and ran among them and slew a
pig with my club and then leaped into a tree, for the charging mother
was too fearsome for me, even with my weapon. Then she and her living
litter went away and I came down and ate my breakfast from the pig. It
was good. So, for days, I ranged through the wood and by the river, but
all was not yet well. Something sank within me. Now I know what it was.
I wanted It.

Still, I was jubilant over my club. I was vain and drunken with the
power I had. Another ape rose in the path ahead of me, an ape as big
as I was, and I roared and ran at him, I know not why. I was not angry
and did not want to hurt him, but I wanted to smite something alive.
It had been good to hit the wolf. The ape stood his ground until I was
almost upon him, then, amazed and alarmed by the whirling of the club,
he leaped for a tree trunk and I struck him furiously on the haunches
as he scrambled upward. He fled shrieking through the treetops.

But there came, stronger than ever, the hunger for It, and I ranged
through the forest for many days and into places strange to me. Food I
discovered in abundance. So I wandered restlessly until I passed, one
afternoon, across a wide, bare space, almost a plain, where there stood
a grove of trees, up one of which I climbed, and slept there in its
great crotch.

In the morning something made me turn again toward my own region. I
was nearing there when I heard a distant cry, and I knew in a moment
what it meant. My It had returned to seek me and was again in peril.
I bounded forward and saw it all. In a great treetop was my It, and
beneath her was the Brown One. I did not know it then, but he had
killed her old father and mother, even before he found her with me, and
when she fled from our nest he had chased her far away, but vainly.
After days of flight and hiding she had eluded him and had come back
seeking me, and he had come back as well, thinking, in his dim way,
thus to find her. He had found her, indeed, but he was about to find,
too, what was not well for him.

She was above him, where the branches were weak and where he could not
clamber to her easily, but she was shrieking loudly, as well she might.
I made no sound at first. I ran to the tree and climbed, with my club
between my teeth, until I reached a limb on which was fighting room,
and then I roared aloud. The screaming of It changed in an instant to
shrieks of joy. The Brown One glared downward and saw me and scrambled
downward with a snarling roar, to the limb upon which I stood. He
ran close, and we stood as we had in the other fight, scarce a yard
apart, each sustained by the grip of our long toes and with one hand
clutching an upright branch, leaving the other free. In his free hand
was nothing; in mine was the club. He thrust forward to clutch and pull
me to him.

It was his end! I swung my club aloft as he lurched toward me savagely,
and smote down fairly upon his head with all my maddened strength. Like
clay, his brute skull caved in, for the blow was devilish. He did not
even scream. His fingers and toes clung to the limbs for an instant,
and then he dropped silently far to the ground. He drew his arms and
legs together quiveringly once or twice and then lay still. He was dead!

I danced upon the limb and roared and yelped and mocked. The Brown One
was dead! In all the world there was none other so great and wise as I.
What other knew the club?

My mate came to me wonderingly and chattering, and we caressed each
other. We went down the tree and I beat the head of the Brown One as I
had that of the wolf, but there was no need. Already the little insects
were running over him. He was dead. In the night something would come
and eat him.

We sought our own tree and our nest and were unafraid. We brought more
leaves and soft grasses and mosses and coiled our arms about each other
when the darkness came each night and were warm and happy. We were
mates, and sometimes we would snuggle our heads together and make a
soft sound like “Wee-chew, wee-chew, wee-chew.” There is a bird which
makes a mating sound like that to-day, only, of course, more musically
than could we apes.

Sometimes we went far from the tree, for always I had my club, and It
imitated me by walking on her hind legs and, at last, carried a little
club herself, though she could not use it very well at first. We had
adventures and sometimes scant escapes, but my club was heavy and I was
strong, and, when too hard pressed, there were always the treetops for
our refuge. But we did not venture far out on the great plains where
were the grass-eaters and the fierce things which devoured them, nor
did we venture forth at night. Sometimes, for I feared none, we visited
the nests of other apes and they came to visit us. And, because of
this, a great change came.

There had been rare quarrels with other apes and I had smitten them
sorely with my club and they had wondered at it and feared it. They saw
my boldness, too, and how I killed for food things which I crept upon
and which I could not have killed with my bare hands, and soon they,
too, sought clubs and tried to imitate me, for imitation is ever the
way of apes. They could not do as well, for they had no such grip as
I with my maimed thumb, but, even with its use by their finger grip
alone, the thing became a weapon and soon our kind, of whom there were
not great numbers--there were other apes of other kinds whom we hated,
because they were so like and yet so unlike us--carried each a club
and so began to walk erect as I did. And we learned to band ourselves
together, even more wisely than the wolves, and we could surround one
of the wild horses in a gorge or beside a bluff and so get much meat
at one time for all of us. We acquired new sounds and cries, too, with
our increasing need for speech, and soon all began to recognize them.
There was one wild cry sent out in emergency which meant “Club! Club!
Bring your Club!” and so it was with other calls. We had no names yet,
but something like the beginning of a language was at hand, a tongue
of clucks and cries and yelps, but yet the seed of language. All our
world was becoming different. The other creatures began to fear us.
The smaller, once unafraid, now fled when we appeared, but the great
flesh-eaters sought us more fiercely than ever, since we were more
careless and conspicuous. But, if we were more daring, we had become
more cautious also, and they seldom caught us.

And there came, before all this, a time when It stayed in the nest and
I brought her food. And, one day, when I came back with eggs from the
nest of a river duck, she held in her arms a tiny ape which was our
child. It thrived amazingly, for well cared for were the child and It,
my mate. And as a child, my young one ran about erect and smote things
with his little stick. So it was, in a way, too, with the children of
other apes of our kind. They also learned, though more slowly, to run
about on their hind feet and to wield the little clubs they carried.

But sometimes all we apes were in mortal terror, not of the bears and
tigers and other dread things of the wood, but of that which came
suddenly and made even the fierce beasts themselves fly whining to
their dens and hiding-places. Nothing could help us in those awful
hours, for there would be rumblings and growlings in the earth beneath
us and it would lift itself up in vast, heaving waves, and would
sometimes burst open in long rents, and flames and deadly fumes would
issue, and great reaches of the forest would disappear and all within
them perish, and, when the thundering and roaring ceased, the look of
all the world about us would be changed. But these things would pass,
though there would be left great fissures through which came sheets
of fire which burned continuously; and when the cold came, as it did
at times, we could go as near the fire as we dared, and then the cold
would seem to go away.

And the days went well for It and me, and other children came and were
soon full grown, as was the way, and they took mates and there were
many homes in the treetops. We became a strong people, my family and
its kind, for we alone had the club. We yet lived much on fruits and
nuts and roots and eggs and the shell-fish, but we ate more flesh now,
for, as I have said, we had learned to hunt together and that brought
an abundance.

But there was ever the thing we should have dreaded more. Away to the
north high mountains upreared themselves toward the sky, and through a
mighty gorge in these the river came. Beyond the mountains was a vast
lake. Sometimes the mountain crests would redden and they would vomit
up fire when the upheavals we so feared came and the ground lifted
up and split and the forests fell. Then, afterward, would come great
storms and the river would be wider and deeper and darker and rush
down fiercely, bearing tree trunks and the floating carcasses of wild
things. But still we thought little of all this. We lived for each day,
as it came, unknowingly.

It was late one afternoon in the hot time when the leaves were heaviest
and I was in the nest with It, for there was still another child, and
we had done much climbing throughout the day and were curled down and
resting, half asleep. Something at last aroused me and I looked about.
The air was heavy, but soon there began a rustling of the leaves and
then a shaking, but it seemed to come from far away and only the tremor
of it to reach us.

Then, all at once, the sky darkened and the earth heaved. It sprang up
screaming, with the child held to her, and we both clung desperately
to the limbs beside us, as the trees threshed back and forth. Then
came the fearful, thundering, blasting sound we knew so well, and
flames burst from the distant mountains as they seemed themselves to
lift and sway in air. Then followed a roar as of all the sounds of
earth together, and I saw the great walls torn apart and rise and fall
again, by the light of the awful flames in the darkness far away. The
earthquake ceased, but not the dreadful roar, stunning and deafening
from afar, but coming nearer and nearer with each instant. Something
enormous, black, with a great white foaming crest, uprose and lifted
higher than all the forest. The mountain had parted and the great lake
was so hurled down upon us! It came, itself a mountain. I saw It, for
a moment, with the child held in one arm, then something struck her
and she fell. I could see the crest of the coming mountain towering
far above me, then I was swept from the limb and, stunned, gasping,
strangling, was carried away in the black waters.



I awoke lying on a stretch of turf in an angle of the rocks by the
river. It was almost midday and it seemed to me that I must have been
aroused by the sunshine on my face. I rose to my feet and stretched
myself dazedly, for my head hurt me. I reached for the club which
lay near me, and examined it curiously. It was not my club at all,
and, when I looked about, the rocks and earth and trees appeared as
unfamiliar as the weapon. I swung the club joyously, for it was a
better one than I had ever seen, strong, well balanced, and heavy at
the end. I tried to think, but only mists would come to me. Had I ever
another club? Then I perceived that there was something tied around
my waist, a broad belt of hyena skin, doubled up on one side into a
sort of pocket held together by knotted sinews. In this pocket was a
thin flake of flint nearly as broad as my hand and with sharp edges.
How came I to have such a thing? And then I noticed, suddenly, and
wondered how it was, that the hair all over me was thin and scant. I
was frightened, I could not understand it.

I strode out from my place in the rocks and looked across the river.
Its banks were new to me. I turned toward the north and there were
mountains, though unlike those of old, and when I passed around the
ledge, even the forest trees and the rocky passes appeared changed.
Had I ever seen other rocks or forests? Then I heard a shout. I turned
and saw two great apes--at least I thought them such--each beckoning to
me and calling. The cries were followed by loud clucks and gurglings, a
kind of talk. And I understood it. How could I do that?

I went toward them slowly, alert and with my club grasped in all
readiness, but I was not much alarmed. I felt, but dimly, that the
two great creatures were my friends. Each bore a club like mine, but
neither lifted it as I advanced. They but pointed up the river and
jabbered noisily.

What creatures they were! Almost straight they stood, with no more
hair upon their bodies than had I, and their thumbs closed readily and
easily upon the fingers, making the grip of their club secure. But it
was their faces and the expression upon them which most astonished me.
They were quite unlike the dream of apes, still, somehow, with me.
They had noses more distinct, their ears were rounded, there was less
repellent expanse of jaw and upper lip between the mouth and nostrils,
and the teeth, which showed as they chattered, were not so long and
sharp. Their eyes, though, were their striking feature, since in them
appeared a look of understanding which I recognized. They were of my

I made no answer to them and, as I came near, they looked upon me
pityingly, putting their hands to their heads and pointing toward
the place where I had awakened. Then, for the first time, I began to
realize things. They were saying that I had been hurt. Instinctively I
lifted my own hand and there came away a little blood. Who had struck
me? I swung my club furiously, but they only chattered the more and
made motions, one of them running to the ledge and pointing upward to
its top and making a sound which I knew. I had been with them on some
sort of an expedition and a stone had rolled down and hurt me as I
slept. That was why my head ached and why I could, at first, remember
nothing. I was no longer angry. I listened eagerly to what they were
trying to tell me.

One of the two, as they pointed up the river, made a repeated bleating,
as of an animal in distress, and when he said “Stag,” “Stag,” I knew
that there was good hunting close at hand. I shouted and waved my club,
and we dashed away together.

The pathway near the river led but a short way before it opened out
upon a little low-lying grassy plain extending to the bank, with marshy
places here and there, and upon this natural meadow half a score or
more great, splendid antlered things were feeding. They grouped near
together, with the exception of a single cow, walking round and round
one of the marshy pools and bleating piteously at intervals. We shouted
when we saw her. We knew that her fawn was mired and helpless and we
should kill it and have food.

We entered the tall reeds and grass of the lowland and stooped low,
slipping through noiselessly until we were near the distressed mother.
Then we uprose and rushed and yelled together. The startled elk leaped
and ran swiftly for a distance, then, as there came the sound of
struggle and plaintive bleating from the quagmire, she checked herself
and turned to charge. There came an awful interjection. There rose
from the forest edge, though far away up the river, a roar so fearful
and appalling, so dreadful and far-reaching, that all the world seemed
dazed from the moment the sound tore across the valley and, even before
these echoes died away, the herd of feeding elk leaped forward together
in frantic bounds and swept close beside us in their flight, carrying
with them the mother cow. The great cave tiger was abroad, though not
yet near, and before him all living things must flee. We were shaking
ourselves, with fright, but we knew the monster had doubtless just
now slain because of the cruel roar which told it, and so we were in
no danger for the moment. The elk calf, a great thing nearly a third
grown, was standing helpless near the quagmire edge. We ventured in a
little way and crushed the thin bones of its head with our hard clubs
and, together, dragged it to the firm earth and so, hurriedly, across
the valley and up among the rocks. With one on watch, we attacked the
body of the calf with our sharp flakes of flint, and with much toil
and many strokes made openings in the skin and hacked and hewed and
wrenched until we had the beast divided into three parts. Then, each
with his burden of skin and flesh upon his back and his club thrust in
his belt, we went straining hurriedly across the lowland and up the
path among the rocks whence we had come until we were another long
distance away, where, climbing upon a huge boulder, we ate ravenously.
It was a feast. Very good to eat is the flesh of young stag.

Rested and full of strength, we took up our march again until we turned
into the opening of a long gorge, almost a valley, which lay not far
from the river and nearly parallel with it. I knew that in this gorge
our homes were, but I could not yet remember much about them, though
each new scene, as we advanced, became familiar. I recognized the place
where I had once killed a hare with a well-hurled stone.

Suddenly one of my companions gave utterance to a long drawn cry,
“O-o-e-e, O-o-e-e,” far reaching and sustained, until there came an
answer from farther up the valley, “O-o-e-e, O-o-e-e!” Then, in the
distance, seeming to issue from the solid rock, came three figures, and
I knew they were our people.

In the lead were two women and behind them was a child, a little
girl. The woman first to reach us was of middle age, and, chattering
joyously, she took the load from the older of my companions and trudged
along beside him, as did the younger woman with the other man, and I
knew that the women were their mates. All together, we went on to the
place whence the woman and child had issued, and there was the entrance
to a cave, not very large, but which rose and widened out inside into
what was a vast chamber, fifty feet across, at least, and nearly as
many high. Away off in one corner of the floor there gleamed a tiny
light which indicated a smouldering fire, and about it, tending it, an
old man tottered. There were heaps of leaves and grass, too, and upon
the floor were a few skins of animals and many bones and roots and the
shells of nuts, all scattered heedlessly about. The women chattered
continuously, for they were delighted with the meat. Each was eating
torn strips, raw, but soon one ran out and brought in an armful of
meat, which was stuck firmly upon long sharpened sticks, and thrust
into the fed flame until it was burned and blackened and then eaten
with greater gusto. The child devoured her share like a young hyena,
while the elders sucked and mumbled. The women seemed to know me and be
glad that I had come. One of them pointed, laughing, to the burden I
had carried, and then up toward the valley, and I knew that my own cave
was there. Soon, refreshed, I took up my own burden of the meat and
left my friends and followed the path southward, knowing instinctively
each rise and run. I reached a place where the rock sloped sharply down
and where, halfway up, appeared the dark mouth of a narrow opening. I
had reached my home at last.

Up the steep ascent of thirty feet or more was a twisting way, worn
smooth. Long travelled must have been that path. I entered the cave and
found it very like the other, save that it was not more than a fourth
as large. The one I had just left was the largest in all the region.

There were embers still alive where was a spot of red at one end of
the cave, and I cast down my load and threw on fresh wood, which was
at hand, and then lay down to sleep, for I was tired. But I could not
sleep. There were flames and light in the cave and, now, everything
came back to me. I remembered the two days before I went away with
my companions. I remembered the pleasures and perils of my life, and
all the horrors of the discovery, not long ago, when I, returning
from a night spent with a hunter in another cave, found all of those
I had lived with dead and nearly all devoured, all slain in the cave
together, surprised while sleeping, by the wolf pack which had found
swift entrance through the opening, for once left carelessly unblocked
by slabs of stone.

Then, all at once, with my clearing mind came to me the thought that I
was not a solitary creature inhabiting that cave. I ran to its mouth
and my “O-o-e-e” went forth resoundingly.

Again and again I called, and at last there was an answer, nearer and
nearer with each reply, and a man came running easily. I was glad.
It was Woof, my hunting mate, who lived with me in the cave. A great
companion was Woof. He had left his own people to come and live with
me, for we had known each other a long time. He was almost as tall and
strong as I and could run almost as swiftly as the little deer. He
loped up the pathway to our home, saw the meat, and shouted aloud in
satisfaction and began to roast and eat. He had not been over-fortunate
in his hunting in my absence.

We talked long in our clucking way until the day was late. Then we
heaped up the stone slabs until the entrance to the cave was filled
nearly to the top and threw ourselves down to sleep. As my eyes grew
heavy I dreamed again perplexedly. Again I was in the treetops,
swinging easily along and hearing familiar cries. And there were flames
and roaring and tottering forests. I would waken at times and look
upon the smouldering fire and toward where Woof lay breathing deeply,
and realize the present, and then a fog would arise and Woof and the
cave side would disappear. Had there been something before? I could
see, at times, a face, but to whom it belonged I could not tell. I
knew it now; it was a face of another time, the merry, impish face of
an ape-like creature with whom I had had comradeship. I awakened and
groped hungrily in my mind, but could remember nothing. At last I slept

With the flood of the fair morning light came still greater clearness
to my thoughts. I forgot for a time even that I had dreamed and was,
like Woof, eager for the outside. It was a good thing that there was
yet meat enough to finish in a great breakfast. As things went we were
well-to-do young men. Club in hand, we tumbled down the pathway and
swung up the long ravine.

We finally clambered to the summit of towering rocks and looked up
and down seekingly; it was a way we had, and with reason, in those
death-laden times, never to travel far without ascending a tree or some
eminence and searching the entire country in sight. Now we saw nothing
moving save two black spots in the direction whence we came. We knew
what they meant, and the long-drawn call for them went forth, “O-o-e-e,
O-o-e-e!” The two men, running, were Gurr and Hair, my companions of
the day before, who were soon beside us there on the rock pile.

Strictly speaking, we had yet no proper names, though we had the result
of an effort toward them. We could indicate an absent one, but in most
cases only by a sort of mimicry. Thus Woof was so known because of a
trick of his in imitating well the “woof” of a startled beast. Gurr was
so designated because of his husky voice, and his wife was Goor because
her call was similar to his though not so harsh. There was another man
with a split lip and singular utterance, and we said “Chu-Chu” when we
referred to him. Hair was so called because he was the most hairy one
among us. We must have known more than a hundred different sounds for
different things. Names, or sounds, we had for fire, water, food, the
sun and moon and trees and rocks and clubs, and for most of the great

And certain other words we had, too, that had to do with actions, such
as fighting and the hunt. We had indeed the inception of a language
which lifted us above and beyond all other creatures. Of some personal
names, mostly imitative, there were Gluck-Gluck, Blink, and Limp, and
there was one big cave man Ugh, who grunted savagely at times, and who
was very strong. His jaws were heavy, his mouth was armed with great
teeth, and his thumbs and great toes were very long. He could climb
better than most of us, but was dull-witted and not any more successful
than others in the hunt. Once he built a great nest in a treetop, but
abandoned it and returned to his hollow in the rocks, because it was
warmer there.

Not long had there been fire in the caves, and in some tribes they had
no fire at all, and ate flesh raw. Once the old man, Hair’s father,
tried to tell me what his father had told him of how they first learned
that they could bring fire with lighted brands from the fire mountains.
It was a wonder that he could remember so much. Now, when the fire
failed us we went to the burning places miles away and lighted fagots
and journeyed back, building frequent fires on our way, so that each
of us could keep his torch alight until we reached the caves again. It
was rarely, though, that this was necessary, for we had learned to keep
our fires by covering giant brands with ashes when we went away, and
when, at times, a failure came, the fire could usually be renewed from
another cave. Always some of the old women or old men remained at home
to keep the fires alight. Our life was fierce and simple. We thought
little, and cared not, save for the moment. We were hungry and must
eat; we were cold and must seek warmth; we were in peril and must flee
or fight; we had the elementary passions and must mate; we had rages
sometimes and sought to slay. There were not many of us in the long
gorge or valley, though nature had made it a place abounding in caves
everywhere. We were but a dozen or two in all, doubtless all related
or descended from a single family, and the nearest creatures of our
kind were another group living in the hills far to the southward. These
people we seldom met, and when by chance there was a meeting, it was
with a somewhat sullen watchfulness on either side, though we had never
warred. Such were we, hungry and gorged, alternately, alert among the
other creatures, seeking some, fearing some, chasing or fleeing, and
having the vast advantage of being almost omnivorous in our feeding.
And there was a fierce joy to it as well. Hoo! It was a life!

We four trooped onward together, for we had made a plan, and when we
neared the cave of Ugh we howled together and he joined us, grim as the
great-jawed hyena. We wanted him along because we might have need of
one who could deal strong blows, and his club was heavy. I envied him
that tough club of blackened wood, the more so because it chanced that
I alone among us might not find the thing too mighty for the arm.

We needed force that day, for ours was to us a mighty prospect. There
were urus, which Woof had discovered a day or two before, now pasturing
in a not distant lowland, and the slaying of the urus was a great event
comparable only to the rare killing of the aurochs, the mighty bison
of the time. Woof had discovered a band of urus a day or two before
feeding in a narrow valley which ended in a precipice some thirty feet
in height as it neared the river. In this valley were various small
mounds, and we could, by utilizing these, get the urus between us and
the river, and by loud shouting and a sudden rush drive them in a panic
to their deaths. This had been done once in the past and might be done
again. We went eastward through the hills, until we could see the urus
feeding below, and then crept down into the valley, ever keeping the
little mounds between us and the grazing beasts, Ugh in the lead. Then
something happened. There was a threatening bellow as Ugh crept by one
of the mounds between us, and he sprang back, with abundant reason,
for, within twenty yards of him was a huge bull feeding apart from the
rest. For a moment the beast stood still, then, with lowered head and
glaring eyes, charged savagely upon the hunter, while the rest of us
fled, yelling.

Not a moment too soon did Ugh leap and crouch beside the mound, but
even his mortal peril did not destroy his hardihood. Even as he eluded
the rush, he swung his club and brought it down with all his might as
the brute swept by, seeking, by some chance, to stun him. It was not to
be, nor, because of an amazing happening, was Ugh in further peril. It
was the strange chance in a thousand, but the club, driven so hardly by
that enormous, muscular arm, came fairly down upon the sharp point of
one of the great horns and, dense and tough as was its fibre, split
and impaled itself and was wrenched from the grip of Ugh as the beast
crashed by. And then followed a grotesque spectacle.

Stunned, dazed, crazed with the pain of the benumbing blow, the urus
galloped blindly about in circles, bellowing and almost bleating and
shaking its great head. The impaled club was flung off at last, flying
a score of yards, and, a moment later, the beast, regaining his senses,
went dashing off in the direction already taken by the flying herd.
So ended the urus hunt. We had failed, but that hunt, in its indirect
results, was vast in its effects upon the future of the Cave men.

Ugh regained his weapon, split at its end, and, as we gathered again,
stood gazing upon it ruefully. We wandered away to where the creek
of the valley entered the river, and found crayfish and the eggs of
waterfowl, and feasted merrily, and lay there resting in a place where
the sun shone warm on the rocks.

But Ugh could not keep his eyes from his split club. It was rent fairly
across the middle of its heavier end for a length of more than a foot
from its head, and he, with his strong hands, could pull the sides an
inch or two apart. Woof stood beside him, and as Ugh thus strained the
wood until there was an opening, Woof, in sheer sport, dropped into the
inviting space a great flake of flint which had parted from the rock
and lay there ready to his hand. As Ugh, surprised, released the parts
they clashed together upon the flint and held it there, for the wood
was tough of fibre and had a vicious springiness. There, held strongly
and tenaciously in the jaws of the cleft club, was the broad, heavy
flint flake, its sharp edges outstanding inches on either side. In the
hand of Ugh was a rude axe, the first whose handle was ever clutched by

We all stood looking curiously at this strange mingling of wood and
stone, when Ugh, with a hoarse cry, swung it aloft and waved it above
our heads in mock threatening and shouted “Kill!” Well might he yell
out “Kill!” We knew it could do that were the stone but firmly fixed,
and we all alike yelled, but wondered at it. The stone was left in
the club just as it had been gripped and so was carried back with us.
More than it did the others, the stone and wood so seemingly grown
together in what might be a mighty weapon, fascinated me. For the split
club with a stone--already we sometimes, by signs, exchanged things
in the beginning of all barter--I gave Ugh my own fine club, and my
new possession I carried with me to my cave that night. A dim idea of
something great was forming in my mind. Could the stone be held there
always, what a weapon I would have! I smote with the rude axe, and
unshattered and unmoved it bit deep into thick tree bark. With repeated
strokes the axe stone loosened a little in its accidental socket and
I was troubled. I strained it into proper bearing in the cleft again
and studied how to make it permanently firm. The problem was still
with me when I reached our cave with Woof. It came to me to tie the
axe as we tied things, with sinews--for we had, somehow, learned how
to make a knot--and with sinew I toiled long beside the fire until
I had bound, with my utmost straining strength, and firmly fastened
together the intersection of the rugged flake of stone and the tough
wood. Then I ran out and down the path in the moonlight and tried
the axe recklessly upon a tree trunk and found the stone immovable.
It could not be wrenched nor sprung from the eye. I had an axe! The
axe, mightiest weapon and implement in the hand of man for thousands
of years to come, had been invented by chance, and rudely, in a single
day. The age of wood and the club alone had passed. The Age of Stone
had come!

So I alone had the axe, and soon, in our hunting as in the littler
things, like the getting away of a vine in our paths through the
forest, as compared with the axe the club was a feeble thing. The sharp
stone could shear the little things, and the sharp and heavy stone,
driven deeply, could bring death where the club might only stun or
bruise. With the axe I could readily open a way along the thick skin
of a slain thing, making easy the stripping for the flint flakes, and
with the axe I could divide the body. We must all have axes! With my
own I split the ends of other clubs, and flint flakes were sought to
bind in them, and soon all grown males of our kith and kin bore axes as
did I. But, oddly enough, there was no axe possessed in all the clan
quite so hard and rightly shaped and keen as mine. Nature had made,
accidentally, a better axe than we, in our crude and bungling way,
could fashion at the time. Yet we were better equipped now than ever
before for either hunt or fray, though there came soon a miserable time
when we almost lost our courage and were fearful in our coming and

There was a broad and pleasant wide-open space, almost a plain, in the
near forest which was our nearest and favoured hunting ground. It was
acres in extent and upon it were hosts of berry bushes and little nut
thickets, in which harboured many hares and small game of all sorts,
and also birds that ran upon the ground where were nuts, which were
good to eat. Food of some kind we always found there. In the midst
of this small plain uprose, as if all out of space, though near the
mountains, a long, huge rock, perhaps some twenty feet in height, and
with sides so sheer that none except a man or other climbing animal
could reach the top. But some great upheaval had split this monster
rock crosswise, and so there gapped through it a passageway, broad
at one end and narrowing at the other, the space between the walls
filled with soil up to the level of the land about. There stood this
strange split rock, almost in the midst of this little plain, of so
much importance to us, but which now we dared not enter. There had come
there one of the things we feared and had made it his chosen haunt.

What brought the cave bear to our hunting place no one could tell. It
may have been the berries or the roots or some whim of the beastly
savage brain. We had, shudderingly, to hunt around but not near the
little plain, and in my own heart a great anger was growing. “Why?
Why?” I said in my dull brain.

Whatever the cause, there he was, and one day, when two of the cave men
had ventured a little way in the bushes, one of them was smitten down
by a huge paw, and the other heard but one gasp in the bushes as he
fled. Daily, watching from the treetops which fringed the place, could
we see the hulking monster as he ranged the open spaces or went toward
his lair, to be lost there for a while. And near that thicket lair rose
the vast rock.

One night we were together, a company of us, in the great cave of Hair
and Gurr, and we were hungry, because we had come from bad hunting
toward the north. We could have found more had we not feared to invade
the bushy plain, and I could have howled aloud in anger, for I was half
famished. I thought of the purple berries and the sweet nuts and the
sucking roots and the little things to kill, and I sulked off alone
and dared and ventured in my mind, and there came the thought, a thing
so dreadful that I gasped in the thinking of it, yet which clung to me
as fiercely as cling the vines which bear the blood-red blossoms on
the rocks. And my dreams came to a red climax the next day, when one
man, venturing into the borders of the plain, just narrowly escaped
the monster. All through the night I tossed fitfully, and again the
desperate fancy gripped me. I leaped to my feet and swung my axe and
yelled out “Bear” and “Kill!” and Woof awakened and leaped in alarm,
and laughed when he saw that I seemed raving. Sometimes Cave men had

But the craze was on me, and, the next morning, I ran up and down the
valley and howled aloud and screamed and yelped that I, I alone, would
kill the monster in the plain. The others heard my ravings and came
out, but they only grinned and chuckled, though all followed me as I
turned and ran southward and toward the wood-path which led through
the forest to where was the little plain--and death. I did not linger,
and my following tribe ran close behind me until I reached the very
edge of the dangerous ground, when, as monkeys climb, they swarmed into
the treetops while I slipped forward among the bushes, a crazed and
yet contained thing, half demented, strong and unconsciously, blindly,
seeking what seemed suicide, but--with the Axe.

I crept into a little pathway and saw nothing, and so slipped along
unhindered until I reached the rock. I climbed it, tremblingly, for
another mood had come upon me now. I was afraid. I threw myself down
upon the stone and shook all over as the leaves shake in the aspen
tree which the wind owns. So in awful terror I tossed about for a time
until, in my very desperation, the rage came back again and I cared
for nothing in all the world, for the blue sky or the people in the
treetops or myself or death or mangling. I leaped to my feet and danced
up and down and whooped and swung my arms. Then, in a near thicket,
there was a rustle, and “woof,” and the huge cave bear rushed forth and
gazed about.

Slowly at first, looking up toward me, the monster came shuffling
and shambling into the open. He saw me plainly now, and there was
another great “woof,” a growl, and he lurched forward with astounding
swiftness. And then just when the dread was most appalling, the awful
sickness, which had come again, left me, and I became cold of blood and
insanely crafty and blood-hungry. Then I, the Axeman, dropped to the
ground, not a score of yards before the approaching beast!

The monster uprose, for a moment, apparently astonished, then plunged
forward with a growling roar as I dashed in flight between the gaping
jaws of the split rock.

Not twenty yards through the rock did the fissure run, but I was near
that fearful paw-stroke when I leaped through the further narrow
opening and fell panting to the ground. And even as I sprawled, the
great body hurled and wedged itself into the tapering space, and the
“swish” of the paw passed close beside my head. I lay just out of
reach. I could see the red jaws and grinding teeth and wicked, glaring
eyes and hear the rush of the foul breath above me.

Straining outward with his one free arm the brute struck savagely,
and his great strokes fairly whistled through the air as they swept
within a hand’s breadth of me. For a moment I was faint again with
the sickening fear, and then once more the change came. I leaped to
my feet and yelled. There, pushing, gnashing his teeth and striking,
clawing blows in vain, was the monster who had been our dread. I became
a sudden demon. I roared as roars the tiger. I danced about closely as
the beast strained out with lowered head, and then I leaped in as the
paw went by and whirled my axe aloft and struck. What a blow was that!
When had even the strong arm of the Cave man delivered stroke as mighty
as that which sent my axe clean to the haft into the bone and brain of
that huge head? Clean to the haft the blade was driven, and there it
stayed as I leaped backward wrenching in vain at the tough handle. I
shrank aside to avoid another stroke, but that was needless. There was
a roar, a wild, helpless clawing, and then the huge head in which the
axe was buried sagged downward and the monstrous thing was dead! I,
single-handed, had slain the great cave bear! Never before in all the
happenings of time had so great a thing been done!

The shuddering, breathless people in the treetops were the insane ones
now. Their frenzied shoutings filled the wood at first, and soon they
were around me, but wondering and awestricken and silent again. Their
demeanour toward me was such as they had never shown before. I was
greater than they. The huge body of the bear was hauled out and the
skin taken, toilsomely, and ever after I slept upon it in my cave.

The world had changed for me. I was another being and I could not help
it. I had been called “Scar” because of the great scar upon my face
straight up and down from eye to jaw, but they changed my name and
called me “Bear,” and like a bear I must have grown somewhat as time
passed. The news of the great slaying went about among the creatures
of our kind as far as our world extended and I became an awesome man
apart. Even Woof, my comrade, seemed half afraid of me and, at last,
following the mating instinct, took a mate and went away from me to
live in a cave far up the gorge. I had it in my mind to take a mate
myself, and resolved upon an almost burly woman of the Cave people I
had met afar, who feared nothing and who hunted, sometimes alone, as
did the men. I went to get her, but she had disappeared. She had hunted
once too often recklessly. I might have taken another, but, I know not
why, the mood to do so never came again. I still joined with the others
in the chase and my axe stroke was the heaviest, and none surpassed me
whenever there was danger to be met.

And the seasons and the years passed, and all men had the stone axes,
and we fed well, and children were born, and the people of the long
gorge grew in number. Then came a pall. The world was going wrong.

Creeping as creeps the snake in the grass and bushes, down where the
rocks shelve off into the lowlands, had come, with the swiftly passing
seasons, a dreadful something. The sun, the big blazing thing up in
the sky, seemed growing old and helpless and did not warm us as he had
before. And down the sides of the mountain came crawling those wide
blue-white cloaks of ice, never stopping, always crawling.

The seasons had been changing steadily. Each year was unlike the one
before it, with skies more lowering and chillier blasts and less of
sunshine. And in the cold time the snow fell and stayed longer than in
the past and did not leave the mountain tops at all in summer, and the
days of the seasons when the sun shone and there came the fruits and
nuts were not so many. Ever the grass upon the plains grew less and the
creatures feeding there became less in their numbers, and it was not
good hunting. There was a constant thinning of the creatures which felt
the change and ever they turned toward the south, the south above which
the sun seemed to shine less coldly. The chill came even to me, and I
thought dimly that it might be because I was no longer young, for I had
seen old men shudder when the cold came. But it was not that, it was
the world itself, the ice sheets pushing themselves down from the north.

Sometimes the hunters, venturing too far away, hampered in snow, would
become exhausted and go to sleep, and when they did this they never
woke. When we found them they would not answer, and we took their axes
and left them. It came to me at last, that we must do as had done the
beasts, and flee southward, where, perhaps, it would be warmer. Why
had I not sooner seen the need? Why had our clan alone been reckless
fools and failed to join the birds and beasts, and others of our own

The cold became more dreadful. The wind howled and swept away the snow,
leaving bare the ice masses on mountains down which swift streams had
once run. The great river was ice-locked and silent. An awful stillness
came upon the world about us, so that our own cries sounded hoarse and
loud. We were cold and starving and, at last, we were forced together
in the cave of Hair and Gurr, where there was room for all who remained
of us. We gathered much fuel and kept up a fire, about which we
huddled, famished and desperate. The end seemed very near.

One night, a storm fiercer than any we had ever known, raged down the
valley. From the mouth of the cave we could see but the swirling drifts
and hear only the roaring and shrieking of the wind. But at midnight
it seemed to me I could distinguish another sound amid the unearthly
clamour. It was different from the other noises, a bellowing in which
was a note of fear. I had heard the trumpetings of the great mammoths
once, and this somewhat recalled the sound, but it could not be. This
was no haunt of the monster things, yet from somewhere up the gorge
the sound continued, now higher or lower and sometimes moaning and
most pitiful. Near morning it ceased entirely, but I must know what it
meant. At daybreak I started up the gorge with four companions.

We did not have far to go. Fighting our way through, we came to a
mighty hollow in which the snow had drifted to a depth many times
the height of a man, and there, plunged deeply, almost buried, was
an enormous, brown, hairy mass. It was incredible; it could not be
that there had come to us such salvation, but it was true. Here was
a strayed mammoth, last of his gigantic kind in the accursed region,
caught helpless in the pass and dead, now to our hands!

With shouts of joy that were near to madness we hurled ourselves down
upon the mountain of flesh, hewed frantically with our axes and cut
out great chunks of meat and bore them to the cave, and there the
whole starved company of us roasted and ate until we could eat no
more. We could but eat and lie about and sleep and eat, and sleep
again throughout all that day and night. And the next day, with much
hewing and many burdened journeys, the whole of the vast body was
stored within the cave. We were prisoners, but we had food and warmth.
Soon all were strong again and there was almost merriment, for we were

We fed--for we were not many and the body of the mammoth was a monster
thing--we fed and lounged before the flames for many days, but we did
not think, though the wind still roared outside and the drifts were
becoming deeper. I, who should have been wiser than the others--fool
that I was--remained as dazed and warm and sluggish as the rest. Surely
the trials which had come upon us must have changed me. But at last I
woke to an affrighted half-understanding. The heap of mammoth flesh was
growing smaller, and warmth, it seemed to me, might never come again.
The storm ceased and a cold sun appeared and we could see the way, at
least, along the silent valley. We must go or die. I became a furious
thing. I leaped about and shouted. I whirled my axe and threatened
overmasteringly. I made all left of the following burden themselves
with what remained of the flesh and so _drove_ them out before me to
the southward.

All day long we plodded, and when night fell we harboured, shiveringly,
in a vacant cave, and with the next morning took up the journey again,
though some fell fainting as we struggled. We left them as they fell,
for we could do no more. And then, toward the evening of the third
day, I caught my foot in a rock crevice and wrenched my ankle as I
lurched, so that I heard the bones crack, and I, the strongest, became
in a moment the most helpless of the band. I plunged and floundered
ahead in agony. I bellowed as does the bull to his dun following, but
my companions did not heed me. We were past all helping and I was left
alone. I fell prone in the deep snow and the cold crept upon me. It was
bitter cold. And then to me it became less cold, and the snow began
falling heavily and softly again, covering me with a warm blanket. I
was tired and I could but sleep, restfully, too, as often I had done
after some long chase. And I had barely slept when there came to me
dreams like the pleasant memories of a thousand years. There were soft
skies above me, and waving boughs, and a fragrance in my nostrils. And
a laughing, apish face peered at me from between the branches bright
with blossoms. And then there came other visions, but dimmer and more
senseless, and so I slipped away into all dreamlessness.



The sunlight was filtering down upon me through the broad foliage of a
tree of an unfamiliar kind. Birds with hooked bills, brilliant plumage,
and squalling voices were flitting among the branches all about. The
rank perfume of strange flowers was in my nostrils, and to my ears
came a pleasant, distant sound, the softened roar and lapping of waves
upon a beach. I was lying in a little glade, wood-surrounded on three
sides, but open to the southward. Through the space thus unobscured I
could see a blue expanse of sky but nothing more, prone as I was upon
the turf, my head resting on what was soft and furry, the folded skin
of some wild animal. I was faint and weak; my eyes were opened for a
moment only, and then once more I slept. An hour later I awoke again,
refreshed and stronger, and, with much difficulty, succeeded in raising
myself upon an elbow. My appreciation of things was returning slowly
and it seemed to me--I cannot tell why--that I was not alone, that
there must be another presence in the glade. I turned my head as well
as my position would allow, and looked about me.

Seated upon a little hummock was a woman and, even as I turned, she
saw the movement and ran toward me with a glad cry. She was a splendid
creature. Tall she was, and her long hair, thrown back uncombed and
tangled, swung down below her slender waist. There was down upon her
brown arms and her bare legs, and she moved with the swift grace of
the tiger or leopard kind. Her mouth was large, and her teeth gleamed
sharply, but it was a fair mouth nevertheless, and her eyes were dark
and deep. Her only garment was a soft robe of coney skin passing over
one shoulder, and leaving half the full bosom exposed. The robe was
held close to her body by a belt of some sort and extended to her
knees. Brown she was indeed, a creature of the sun and air and storm,
yet her skin was smooth and soft. But it was her eyes I saw. They spoke
to me.

The appearance of the woman did not surprise me. It seemed a matter of
course that she should be there, and my heart leaped as I looked upon
her. I was still dazed, but I knew that she belonged to me. There was a
sense of protective ownership of her and of a need of her, this savage
beauty whom I might smite if she displeased me, but for whom I would
battle to the death. She was beside me in a moment, kneeling with a
pitying look in her eyes and beginning at once to unwind the strings
of inner bark which held in place a huge bandage around my leg not
far above the knee. Very gently and carefully she removed the mass of
green, wet leaves covering others nearest the flesh. These macerated
into a sort of pulp. Cautiously she lifted the mass and there, in my
thigh, I saw a gash which had ceased to bleed but which was raw and
open. Nor deep nor dangerous was this wound, but evidently I had lost
much blood and so had fallen weak and senseless. As gently as she had
taken it away the woman renewed the bandages with new pulp and leaves
and, the binding finished, she looked at me happily.

“The Boar,” she said.

The boar, the savage boar! Yes, I dimly remembered now. There had
been a chase somewhere, and the wild boar had charged me, but where
were the rest of my tribe, those I had led away from the devouring
of the mammoth, to take up the desperate southward quest? Where were
the drifting snows and the fierce winds and bitter cold and awful
loneliness, the drowsiness and dream of death?

The bandage in its place, the woman sat beside me and stroked my face
softly, but only for a little time. She arose quietly, went a little
distance away, curled herself down upon the green turf, and seemed to
fall asleep on the instant. Then I realized what it meant. She must
have been alert and watching throughout the night, and how much longer
I could not tell, and so was wearied, if not near to exhaustion. My
own strength I felt returning to me, though when I sought to rise to
my feet I failed miserably because of the pain the effort brought to
my wounded leg. I crawled to the foot of the tree, and leaning my back
against the trunk, sought to collect my scattered senses and realize,
if I could, the situation. Where could I be? Who, indeed, was I?

As my glance wandered about it was drawn to certain objects upon the
ground not two yards away from me. Only one of them was familiar; it
was a stone axe, but the haft was of a different wood and colour from
that of the axe with which I had slain the great cave bear, and the
heavy blade was polished so that it shone in the sunlight. It was a
beautiful axe and I resolved that I must have it, if it were not mine
already. Beside the weapon lay something which greatly puzzled me at
first. It was a long shaft of some tough wood, but its head was of
stone like that of the axe, though of a different shape, long and sharp
and pointed and held in the shaft’s split end by knotted sinews. At
last I comprehended; it must be a spear, but the only spears we had
ever known in the land of cold were long sticks sharpened at the end
and charred and hardened in the fire. They were but trifling things
compared with what this must be in the fight or hunt.

But it was what remained that most aroused my curiosity and perplexed
me. There was a stout, springy length of ash, as long nearly as my own
height, with the ends bent toward each other and so held by a strong
sinewy cord which stretched between them. Lying beside this curious
thing was a number of very slender shafts, each notched at one end and
bearing at the other a little stone head shaped like that of the spear.
I could not understand them and finally gave up the problem. I crawled
back to the skin bundle and lay down and slept again.

It had been mid-forenoon when my latest sleep began; when I awoke
it was almost night. I was aroused by the call of a pleasant voice
beside me, “Scar! Scar!” and the continuous patting of a hand upon my
shoulder. I was wide awake and with my mind all restored in an instant.

“What is it, Otter?” I answered.

She laughed joyously. “You know again; you will soon be well. He struck
hard, but the cut is not deep. Soon you will run. Your arrows killed
him. We will go and eat.”

All this she said in short, chattering words and with much
gesticulation. It was an odd sort of incomplete speech. She helped me
to my feet and I found that I could stand without much difficulty. I
managed to hobble along by her side, leaning on her heavily. My wound
ceased to pain me and my strength was fast returning. As for my dreams
of cold and of other things, such as the great beast buried in the
snow, they were but dreams, assuredly.

We came out upon a far extending shore, and there, magnificently
coloured in blue and crimson by the sky and the setting sun, extending
beyond all vision, heaved the mighty sea. How great was then the later
named Mediterranean! Far back where now the desert is, lay its unseen
southern shores, and the strand upon which we stood lay farther to
the north than when existed kingdoms of later ages. The spectacle was
wonderful, but all familiar to me.

We passed slowly along the shore until we reached a rocky place wherein
was a little hollow in front of which was burning a fire replenished by
my anxious mate while I had slept. Brands for the fire had been brought
from our distant cave before my hurt had been received. Otter led me
into the little opening and brought flesh of a boar from a hiding place
in the rocks and roasted it in the fire and fed me to repletion. Then,
having eaten herself as eats a healthy, omnivorous animal of the wild,
she coiled down beside me in the little recess, after leaning logs and
driftwood against the opening, as some defence against all prowling
things. My weapons she placed at my hand.

I awoke in the morning astonishingly refreshed, and could limp about
without the assistance of Otter, and with little pain. We must go
inland to where were the ledges and where was our cave among the
others. There I could rest easily until all my strength returned. So
we took up the slow journey and entered the forest, plodding doggedly
along the paths within its depths. We had with us some of the roasted
boar’s flesh and ate of it when we were hungry.

On the journey we came upon a little open space where were great birds,
the bustards, moving about, and I killed one with an arrow, rejoicing
the while that I was so good a bowman. Otter carried the huge bird
lightly, saying we should have the best of food when we reached our
home. My dazedness of the day before, when I failed to recognize my
weapons, was all gone now. Was not I, Scar, the greatest archer among
my people? Was not Otter, my mate, the greatest in the water of them
all? Yet, as to Otter, it had been but a little time since the Cave
people had learned to swim. Like the monkeys, which we sometimes shot
with arrows in the woods, the Cave men had ever dreaded the water. It
was in the days of our great, great grandfathers, so the very old men
told us, that the change came, and then by accident.

There had been a wide and deep creek close beside the caves in which
our forefathers dwelt, and it had been a great barrier between the
rocky country and good hunting grounds on the other side. One day my
own great grandfather, when a young man, slipped upon a wet stone and
fell into the water and was swept away and they did not even look for
him, for in those days he who fell into deep water was drowned, and
what good to seek for that which was gone? But my great grandfather
caught hold of a piece of light driftwood, and though it would not
lift him entirely, yet, with his chin upon it, his head was sustained
above the water until he reached a shallow place where he could wade
ashore. He came back to the caves and beat my great grandmother sorely,
because she was eating when he returned. He brought back with him the
bit of driftwood and thenceforth played in the water with it, tying it
beneath his chin and making great strokes with his arms and legs until
there came a day when he found, to his wonder, that he did not need the
driftwood to sustain him, but could go about in the water as did the
otter and the beaver, though never in a way to equal them. And others
tried to do as he did, and, though some were drowned, in the end it
came that all the Cave people, even the children, could swim. A great
advantage was this in the hunt or on a journey of any kind. And among
us all, at this time, my mate, my slender Otter, was swiftest in the
water. So her name had come to her.

We travelled far this day and crossed many streams and I was nearly
spent, when after nightfall we came upon ledges of tumbled rocks
uprising near the river and in the midst of a dense wood, and there
entered our own cave without arousing any of the people in the other
caves. It was not a large cave, but was most comfortable. There was a
great bed of moss covered with skins beside one of the brown walls, and
from an ash-filled hollow at one side Otter uncovered still glowing
embers. In front of this hollow were a lot of stones laid carefully,
whereon meat could be roasted. Just inside the cave’s entrance, but not
large enough to entirely fill it, was a round rock of sandstone, not
too heavy, which Otter alone rolled into the opening. We sought the
couch of moss and skins and slept at once, for each of us was weary.

I awoke, it seemed to me, almost well, for from flesh wounds we Cave
men recovered swiftly. I awoke with a fragrance in my nostrils. Otter
had already risen, and the bustard, cleanly plucked, was roasting on
the stones before the fire my mate had built. We ate most of the big
bird at that one meal, for we had slept long and were hungry. Then,
with Otter beside me, I took my bow and bark quiver of arrows and
limped outside the cave. We had hardly come into the sunlight when
there came to our ears a shout and the twanging of a bowstring and, a
moment later, around a turn in the ravine, appeared the Climber, often
my companion in the hunt. He was shooting arrows upward and catching
them as they fell, in mere sport, shouting meanwhile to arouse me, for
he did not yet know that I had been lamed by the boar. We called to
him and he clambered up to us and heard the story of my hunt, laughing
only when he heard its issue, for we did not sympathize deeply in that
age, though we would sometimes fight for each other valiantly enough.
The Climber was armed as I with bow and spear and clad in the same
way, with only a clout of skin about his middle. Despite his careless
demeanour he had news to bring. Some of the Hill men had been seen
lurking about at the foot of the wooded mountain slopes to the westward!

The Hill men were our natural enemies and had been so since a time
beyond which none of the old men could remember. They were unlike us
in their ways, existing chiefly on fruit and nuts and roots, which
they stored in the mountain caves, where they lived, and they had no
bows, carrying only stone axes and long spears. They hunted less than
we, but were extremely strong and savage and their numbers made them
dangerous. Many a wanderer of the Cave men had disappeared when these
hairy savages of the hills had sometimes invaded our side of the river,
and word of a threatened raid by them was but a signal for more than
ordinary caution.

In a few days I was well again and the fight with the big boar
something almost forgotten. There came, for a time, no incident in the
life of our scattered group. We hunted and fished and fed well and
were warm, for it was a good country and the climate mild. But for old
Fang, the arrow-maker, there would have been a pleasant enough monotony
to our existence. Fang was more vicious than any of the beasts in the
wood; he seemed more like the Things we had never seen, but dreaded,
the Things which whispered strangely when the wind blew through the
forests at night and which roared and bellowed when the great storms
came. He was not like the rest of us. He was the first monopolist, too,
the world had ever known.

Our arrows were excellent, not rude chipped things such as our
ancestors had known, but smoothed and polished and keen-edged and
deadly when launched by a strong arm from a strong bow. A task it was
to make an arrow such as one of ours, for there was first the rude
chipping and then the weary polishing of the flint by rubbing it upon
wetted sandstone. Few of us had patience for all this, and old Fang,
who lived alone in a cave in a thicket close beside a little waterfall
of the brook running down to the river, was arrow-maker for most of
us. We paid him for the arrows by bringing him meat and skins and all
the means for living, and his wicked eyes would gleam when we brought
them to him.

He was a misshapen creature, with one leg so distorted that it made him
half a cripple, teeth which protruded viciously, and eyes like those of
the snakes which sunned themselves upon the clogged driftwood beside
the river banks. A great archer he was, but he seldom hunted, for he
could but limp, with his twisted leg. At last came a time when he never
went abroad at all. It came curiously and in a wicked way.

The fall in the little brook which ran beside the cave of Fang was
but three or four yards in height, but the water dropped sheerly and
strongly and had worn a little hollow in the stone beneath, a broad
bowl a yard across, in which, in a miniature whirlpool, the waters
swirled round and round as if aboil. One day a hunter who had brought
to Fang some arrow-heads to be polished, accidentally dropped one of
them in the water as he leaped the brook above the falls and, counting
it lost, paid no attention to it. The keen eye of the arrow-maker
had seen the thing and, knowing that the arrow-head could be easily
recovered, he said nothing. He would get it for himself.

The old man, busied at his work, forgot the arrow-head for a month,
then one day he remembered and found it at last amid the swirling
pebbles and looked upon it in astonishment as he drew it forth. Not
with all his labour of rubbing the flint heads upon coarse sandstone
could he polish an arrow like to this, The sand and pebbles in the
foaming bowl had done the work far better than could he. An idea came
to him. The pool should be his and his alone, and the water and the
little pebbles should do his polishing. So he put chipped arrow-heads
into the bowl and, after that, the hunters for a time wondered more
than ever at the perfection of his work.

One day an old woman leading a child and seeking nuts came close to
the edge of the falls and peered over the bank curiously. Her body was
found there later and it was plain that an arrow had passed through
it, though the shaft could not be found. The child, which had fled
shrieking back to the cave, could but tell what the old woman was doing
when she fell down. Later, a hunter who lingered carelessly near the
pool was shot as ruthlessly, but lived long enough to reach companions
to whom he could give no account as to whence the arrow came. But all
understood. There was little justice then, and there were no attempts
at punishment. The old demon owned the waterfall. As for me, I paid
slight heed to the matter. For that I nearly lost my Otter.

One day I had shot an arrow into a wild pig in a wooded height just
beyond the cave of Fang and, as I pursued it straightforwardly through
the bushes, Otter ran around through an open space to intercept its
flight and pierce it with another arrow, if she might, for she shot
almost as well as I, though far less strongly. She was near the pool
when the pig dashed from the thicket, and she shot at it as I broke
through. Then, of a sudden, she shrieked wildly and dropped her bow
and I saw her bravely plucking at an arrow which had pierced her arm.
It had come from the cave of Fang. I called to Otter, who had already
darted into the bushes, and she came running to me. I drew the arrow
forth with little difficulty, for it was not a dangerous wound, though
through no fault of the murderous archer. Only Otter’s swift step as
she shot at the pig had kept the arrow from her body.

We went back into the wood and there I left Otter while I circled about
to regain the cave of Fang. I saw him close beside the pool and shot,
though it required a long arrow-flight. The shaft lowered with the
distance, but pierced him slightly in the thigh, and, with a snarl, he
glided into the bushes and behind the trunk of a great tree. A moment
later an arrow tossed my hair, and then I, too, went into hiding. We
sought glimpses of each other as we circled about, but there was no
fair chance afforded until my quiver was emptied and then--for Fang
could not run as could I--I rejoined my mate in safety. I knew that
either Fang or I must die.

There was little thought of Fang after we had reached the cave. There
was heard all about us the cry: “The Hill men! The Hill men!” and
there was reason for the alarm. A great band of the mountain savages
had just been seen by a hunter, going up the river on the further
bank. Well we knew what that portended. They outnumbered us five to
one, but the Hill men could not swim and they were going up the river
to the first shallow where they could cross in safety. The fording
place was where a gorge entered the river through a rock which rose
in a long precipice on either side. Into and up this gorge, if they
could, must the Hill men come. All the Cave people were now together
and we held anxious consultation. It seemed to me that there was but
one thing to do, and in the end all our fighters agreed with me. We
must assemble at the mouth of the gorge before the Hill men reached the
place and there dispute the crossing to the end; there, with our bows
and upon firm ground, we might have some chance against them despite
their overpowering numbers. Soon all those capable of fight were on
the hurried march, including over half the women. Only the old men and
women and the children were left in the caves, since all lives were at
stake. Even the vengeful old Fang, who had been summoned, was limping
with us, for he was in equal danger with the rest. All night we wound
our way along the forest paths and by dawn were in the gorge, where we
rested and ate of the dried food brought with us. No Hill men appeared
in sight until a little after noon and then they came in what seemed
to us a host. There were of us Cave men and women some seventy-five,
of the Hill men at least four hundred, fierce looking creatures, armed
with spears and stone axes, and terrifying to look upon. Yet our
fathers had once beaten them and why should not we? We had a vast store
of arrows and good bows, and better spears and axes than had the foe.

They came, bellowing like wild beasts, and we went down the sloping
bank to meet them at the crossing. The leader, a huge creature, shaking
his spear threateningly, plunged in first and I yelled with delight as
I saw, when he reached the middle of the river, that the water rose
to his armpits. As he gained a shallower part and upreared his hairy
breast, I drove an arrow into it, and his spear fell and he toppled
over and was swept down stream. My comrades were doing as well, since
there was room for nearly all of us to shoot; and the slaughter was
fairly on! The Hill men seemingly knew no fear. They plunged in from
behind by scores and one or two had almost reached our banks when they
were speared, one after another, by Bull, the most gigantic of the Cave
men, who had rushed in to meet them. Still they came in a desperate,
roaring mass. So I have seen a herd of the great aurochs cross a stream
mightily. There were not enough of us to do the killing. The waters of
the river were red. More than half the Hill men had been slain, but the
pack came howling on, now, still more like monstrous wolves. We shot
until there was no more time to notch our arrows, and then we waded
in a little way and met them with our spears and axes. I had no fear;
I was but a raging, blood-thirsty, killing thing! We held them at bay
for a time, and so many of them were slain that now they did not more
than twice outnumber us, but those of us in front were exhausted by the
struggle, and the remnant of the Hill men were still fresh. I staggered
back, as another Cave man took my place, and went a little up the slope
and refilled my quiver and stood there breathing heavily for a moment
with others as spent as I. That breathing space did us good, and well
that it was so, for it saved the Cave men. There was a wild cry, a
yielding, and our comrades lower down came pressing back upon us. The
Hill men had gained the shore! We rallied to the fight, but there could
be no more arrow-shooting. It was spear and axe work now. Ever raging
in front, the leader of the remaining Hill men was a giant whose spear
seemed irresistible, and more than one of the Cave men fell before him.
The sight drove me into a still more murderous craze. I was rested
now. I leaped forward to meet the grisly savage and in a moment we were
facing, with spears clattering together. It was death for the Hill man!
He was stronger, but not so swift as I at this deadly fencing, and, as
I turned his spear aside, I leaped in and drove my own cleanly through
him. He toppled with a roaring growl, like that of a bear dying, and,
with that, a panic came upon the Hill men and they turned and fled,
pursued and speared as they floundered in the waters of the river. The
fight was over!

And then, just then, as I lifted my hand to my streaming face,
something smote me fiercely in the back and I looked dazedly at an
arrow-head which protruded from my breast. I turned, tottering, to see
the stone axe of the Climber crash down into the head of the glaring
Fang, who crumpled weakly to the ground, and to see Otter running
toward me, screaming and with arms outstretched. Then I pitched forward
upon my face.



It was dark, absolutely dark, and I could hear no sound. I could not
remember who I was nor where I was, and there came upon me something
like a feeling of alarm, though I felt that to be afraid of anything
was most unlike me. Furthermore, I was in pain; there was a hurt in
my breast and, instinctively, I clutched at the place with my hand.
Ah! I knew what it must be--a protruding arrow-head--and I strove to
get such a hold upon it that I could pull it forth in the hope that so
relief would come, but I could not get my grasp upon the thing. What
had become of it? My mind wandered in a search for all about me and an
understanding of it. I had a dreamy vision in my mind of some rocky
gorge, of enemies coming up from a sloping river bank, of a desperate
struggle there, and of my own part therein, which seemed to end with
a murderous bowshot from behind, driving a shaft through my body; but
what had happened afterward? Where had they carried me and how could I
be living after such fearful hurt? I fumbled still at my breast seeking
the arrow-head, and found at last what I had mistaken for it. It was
but a jagged piece of flint which had slipped in between my flesh and
the rough skin coat I wore and which, as I had borne upon it, turning
in my sleep, had pricked me sharply and awakened me. There was no
arrow-head nor trace of wound. I could not understand it, but I no
longer feared; I only realized that I was cold. I felt about me in
the darkness and my hands fell upon what I recognized as the skins of
animals, and I drew them together and over me from head to foot and was
warm and slept again. When I awoke the darkness was not so dense; light
came in through an opening not far away and I could distinguish objects
about me.

I lay upon the floor in a sort of niche in a cave. Weapons, as I judged
them to be, leaned against the wall opposite, and away beyond them,
close to the wall, lay a gray heap over which I puzzled. I studied it
at first dreamily and then curiously, as the light grew stronger from
the narrow arched entrance, then started half upright, for the gray
thing seemed alive. It heaved uneasily and I forgot my own perplexity
as to who I was or where I was in watching the mysterious thing. All at
once the mystery was solved. The mass separated, part of it upheaved,
and then I understood. There had been a man sleeping there, like me,
beneath a heap of wolf skins. As he arose he turned his face toward me
and called out hoarsely but cheerily enough: “Oo-ee! Scar!”

“Oo-ee,” I answered back instinctively. I knew that his call was but
to learn if I were awake and I knew, too, that I was his friend and
comrade. I became instantly another being from the one lying dazed
and dreaming the moment before. The thought of all that dim vision of
some fight at a ford and my own awful hurt there, passed as the smoke
goes when the wind sweeps over a fire, and swift, keen memory of all
that related to my present relations and surroundings returned to me
at once. Why, there we were in our cave, Six Toes and I, and it was
morning. I called out to him:

“I am hungry, Six Toes; let us eat.”

He grinned, went over to the back of the cave, drew forth strips of
dried meat from a store heaped up there, and I, getting to my feet at
the same time, took from the weapons by the wall our two stone axes. We
sat down together, hacked away fragments of the cold, hard meat, and
ate as ravenously as two wild animals.

It was all simple enough. Why had I so awakened still dreaming of a
river and a fight in a region warm and pleasant? Certainly in such
a country I had never lived, though dreams of it had come to me
before and I was in no such country now. Here was I with Six Toes, at
murderous odds with others of our kind and with a prospect ahead of us
as dangerous as uncertain. Not that it worried us much. We were only
less reckless of what was to come than the prowling creatures of the
swift, ever-fearing grass-eaters of the plains.

Six Toes was tall and strong, and so, indeed, was I, though not so
great of bulk as he. He was a huge man, though springy as the reindeer,
and the crush of his hairy arms was something to be feared in any
grapple. We were garbed nearly alike, each in a single garment made of
skin reaching from neck to knee, with holes for the arms and belted
at the waist with a thong of rawhide. The garment of Six Toes was of
a single bearskin; mine of wolfskin well stitched together with long
sinews. In each of our belts whenever we left the cave was a stone
axe, and each bore as well his bow and arrows, and sometimes his
flint-headed spear. In a skin pouch hanging from the belt in front
we carried the smaller things--the stone, skinning and cutting knife,
and, it might be, dried meat. Our arrows we carried in skin quivers
slung across our backs. We had no other clothing or weapons or gear of
any kind, but our axes and our arrow-heads and knives were sharp and
polished and our bows were strong. The Cave men everywhere had learned
many things.

We two were not in a good way, even as ways went with the Cave men in
that rough land and time. We were outlaws--I, Scar, and Six Toes, a
greater personage than I, and all because of the deadly enmity between
my companion and the head man of our clan. We had been driven from
the great galleried cave in the cliff beside the river a mile above
us where all had sought refuge together for the harsh winter, and,
thus forced to fare alone, had, after some perilous wandering, found
shelter in this smaller and less pleasant and safe abode. We were
cold, but in this respect not so greatly worse off than the body of
the clan who, through rare misfortune, were, temporarily, nearly as
unfortunate as we. The winter was upon us. Long ago, so the legend of
the story-telling old men ran, our people had drifted to the south,
where was a warmer clime, but something had driven them northward again
and they had long lived a roving, sturdy, and fierce community in a
country of rock and plain, fruitful in season, it is true, and with
good hunting, peopled as it was by many grass-eating brutes and furred
beasts of prey, and warm as well, but hard to bear in winter because of
the breath of northern glaciers.

Now, the clan had been for a time in a strait such as was never known
before. Venturing, because of an unaccountable influx of the deer and
the little wild horses, into a ruder country than our ordinary haunts,
we had lost our fire. There were no fire mountains here, and, despite
the finding of the big cave, living had become uncomfortable. We had
not yet learned the art of making fire ourselves, and, when the clan
moved as a body, carried it always with us, moving slowly and making
fires ahead on our way as far as the runners could go with brands. Now,
it had, for once, been neglected by the keepers in the cave and become
lost, and we must half freeze and live on roots and nuts and dried meat
until we should visit some distant clan, or the fire from the sky, as
it sometimes did, should smite some towering dead tree and make it burn
for us. But no such good fortune had come, and those of our own kind of
whom we knew were far removed from us, and sometimes hostile. We must
endure until the warm time came again.

The little cave in which Six Toes and I--he was called Six Toes
because he had, when a youth, left four of his toes in the jaws of
a savage river fish, though the hurt did not impair his strength or
swiftness--were harbouring was close to the edge of a declivity which
overhung the river valley. We were savagely restless and discontented,
and not without great reason. Not only against the bear and wolf and
prowling tiger of the time must we be on guard, but against even the
creatures of our own kind and clan.

The deadly enmity between Six Toes and the chief among the Cave men was
all because of Laugh, the shrewd and swift and always merry daughter
of old Hairy, desired by the huge leader, Wolf, and desired also by
Six Toes, my friend, he who had found me a child abandoned by some
wandering tribe and who had reared me as his younger brother, teaching
me all his craft of field and fight, and making of me one not lightly
to be encountered. With him and beside him in all stress I would always
be. So it had come that we were one in our watchful exile.

There had been harsh action in the great cave. Wolf and Six Toes had
each asked old Hairy for his daughter, and the old man, fearing Wolf
the more, had rather favoured him, while the girl as far as she might
dare, inclined to the other man. The time had come in the history
of the Cave men when a woman could scarcely be taken by force and,
next to Wolf, Six Toes was the most important man among us. Then came
the craft which was our undoing. Wolf and his immediate and obedient
following accused us of a great crime--forever I was counted one with
Six Toes--of having stolen and hidden in the wood for our own use a
store of weapon heads, than which there was no more valued possession
in the community. Of the rarest flint, polished and keen, were these
arrow-heads and spear-heads, fashioned with infinite care and toil
by the men too old for hunting, and counted, rightly, among our best
possessions, for arrows were often lost in the hunt or carried away by
wounded beasts. To steal of these reserves, as they were to be dealt
out fairly from the common store at need, was death. Boldly had Wolf
made the accusation against us--though, as the end proved, he had
hidden the arrows himself--and had so inflamed all the men that we
escaped the stern penalty only by sudden flight. As crafty as he was
fierce and vicious was the big Wolf.

We had found the little cave in which we were now concealed, and in a
way intrenched, for none could force the narrow entrance; had found
good hunting, and so, gloomily but healthily enough, we abode together,
planning, it seemed vainly, some scheme of retribution. We chafed and
raged, thus helpless, like the great wild elk with antlers caught in
the thicket, or the huge bear sometimes imprisoned in a pitfall of the
rocks. The life we led was trying; in some unguarded moment we might
be stolen upon and slain by Wolf and his followers, and, besides, our
little cave was colder than the other. The life was hardly endurable.
Some change must come; upon that we were resolved alike and bitterly.
And, when the change came, it came swiftly--in a single hour--with the
holding of a new power in our hands, something never known before and
bringing great happenings with it. It was a simple thing, but wonderful
and most mysterious.

One somewhat cold but glittering afternoon, having eaten lightly of
our stored raw meat and nuts, we were lounging in front of the cave,
where it was warmer than inside. I was moving about listlessly, noting
the tracks made in the snow by lurking beasts and calling once in a
while to Six Toes, who sat upon a little rock enjoying the sunshine
and fumbling idly with bits of shining stone which he had found beside
him. One of these bits he held for some time in his hand, turning it
carelessly about. It was thin at the edges, roughly oval in shape
and singularly clear. In the centre on each side it rose outward,
smooth and even. It was somewhat like a transparent arrow-head and I
remember that, as I came to the side of Six Toes, I wondered if we
could not put it to some such use. A flake of stone just like it I had
never seen before. Then, as Six Toes turned the stone in his hands,
a darting yellow gleam fell on the snow, and he laughed as he found
that by moving the flake he could shift the shining spot at will. At
last he turned it upon one of his own bare feet and in sheer curious
foolishness held it there in one place steadily. But not for long.
Suddenly he leaped up with a howl and flung the thing away as alarmedly
as if it were one of the little adders we did not like but sometimes
found hidden amid the leaves where the nuts were on the ground.
Something had bitten or burned his foot!

I ran to where the stone had fallen and picked it up and examined it
closely, but could find nothing strange about it except its odd shape
and clearness. How could I know, how could Six Toes know, that he had
stumbled upon the first natural burning-glass that men had ever known,
a flake of tourmaline brought perhaps with a boulder from the far north
in some ancient glacial move--a tourmaline, the only stone which flakes
in such a way!

If we had little wisdom, we had at least unbounded curiosity. We played
with the curious thing and the yellow spot it made, and, finally, I
held the spot upon the stalk of a dry weed. I held it so for quite a
time and then the wonder happened! There came a darkening of the weed’s
fibre, next a faint smoking, and then, suddenly, a flame. We yelled
aloud our amazement and triumph as we danced about. We were beside
ourselves with joy. We had Fire!

We wasted no time then. We gathered armfuls of the stout dry weeds and
laid them carefully upon the one now burning and added such fagots
of dead wood as we could find. Soon we had a bonfire and we kept it
going. Fire, fire in abundance! We could not contain ourselves, for we
knew all that it meant--warmth, always warmth, and the fragrance and
rich taste of cooked flesh. I dashed within the cave and brought out
great slabs of the cold meat, and we sharpened long thick weeds and
thrust the meat into the glowing embers until it curled and browned
and the odour and savour of it were in our nostrils, and then we ate!
We ate as if famished, for never, it seemed to us, had been so great a
feast before. It brought new life and courage.

Gorged at last, we had yet energy to go out among the reeds and gather
more armfuls of them and stack them near at hand for use, and then
we clambered down the precipice at a place not far distant where we
could reach the river bank, and brought up driftwood, and so we worked
furiously until nightfall and until we had a great store of fuel. Then
we made another fire, inside the cave, and warmed it, and there we ate
more meat. In all that region there were no others so fortunate as
we. We were boastfully merry. Outside, we renewed our fire upon the
very edge of the precipice--for that we had a reason--and throughout
the night we fed it in turn, one while the other slept, and the light
leaped high in the darkness, a flaming defiance to our enemies. What
would they think of it, they in the great cave? It was not long before
we learned.

They had seen the flash of fire, as the night fell, and their amazement
could not be told. Then came a rage. Six Toes and Scar had fire, and
Wolf and all the band had none and were cold and ate raw meat. The
thing was unendurable! The outcasts should yield up their great
possession, and with early dawn half a score of the Cave men, led by
Wolf, would come storming down the valley to kill the outlaws and bring
fire to where it was most needed.

As morning broke we saw them coming, for they could not remain
concealed against the snowy background. We knew their errand well, and
Six Toes laughed loudly, but the laugh was as ugly as the cough of the
lank hyena which cried sometimes in the wastes. We heaped on more fuel
and made the fire blaze merrily, but we saw to it that it was at the
very edge of the shelf of the rock. Six Toes brought out his spear and
I stood beside him with my bow, an arrow clutched on the string.

They came rushing toward us, armed and fierce, and we waited until they
were not two hundred yards away. Then Six Toes, with shoves and sweeps
of his long spear, hurled every particle of fire from off the ledge, to
be utterly quenched in the deep snow of the far depths below. We leaped
for the cave’s shelter and stood inside with notched arrows and drawn
bows. Eager for a sight of them we were, but could not get it. Even
Wolf would not venture fairly in front of that dark, narrow entrance.
Death was waiting to leap out.

We called to them and jeered at them, but there came no answer. Finally
I ventured to peer forth cautiously, and saw our enemies gathered just
out of bowshot. They stood there, baffled and raging, and we came into
sight and howled out insults. We yelled taunting allusions to those who
hungered for the taste of roasted flesh but not for the taste of sharp
arrows from a cave. We gibed and mocked, until maddened, they started
toward us, and then we sought the cave again, only to come forth once
more as they moved, and yelp out things concerning those who had no
fire and must eat raw meat and shiver all the time. They could do
nothing but shake their weapons and threaten, and at last they stalked
away sullenly.

The sun was shining, and later in the day we built a fire outside again
and laid on wet leaves to make a towering smoke which they in the great
cave might see. How they must marvel, we thought, and so we later
learned. Where did we get our fire? Was it possible that Six Toes had
become a wizard--for of such beings there were stories even then--a
medicine man such as had been heard of, one who was familiar with the
strange things in the water and in the forest and, above all, with the
Black Things in the clouds which sometimes made streaks of fire when
the storms came? Yes, it must be so; and there were perplexity and
apprehension. What might not Six Toes do next?

But not for long could such a state of things exist. There were
venturesome men among the hunters, and Wolf did not believe in wizards.
Furthermore, it was in his mind that Laugh was more inclined toward his
rival than to him. He had been too negligent. The fire must be secured
and Six Toes and Scar slain speedily!

Meanwhile our own wrath grew. Was it not enough that we had been driven
from the tribe, wanderers on the waste, lonely as outlying wolves,
without now being hunted down as if we were wolves indeed? As our rage
increased, we devised a plan of vengeance.

As I have told, the slight ledge in which was our cave projected out
upon a narrow shelf which overhung the valley. This tongue of rock held
the cave almost at its very end, the opening extending back but a few
yards, while the walls were of slight thickness. Because of these thin
walls there came to us a great idea. We would cut holes in them and
thus have a view on either side, up or down the valley, and from them,
too, send murderous, unexpected arrows. The stone was soft and the
openings were soon chipped through with our hard flint axes. We hunted
stealthily and at night only, for we feared a possible surprise, and
slew one of the little wild horses and a deer and hacked them apart
and stored away the meat, and ever carefully within the cave we nursed
a slight fire, for the wonderful stone, we had now learned, would not
bring flame in the darkness nor when the sky was dull. So, with food
and warmth provided and weapons at our hands, we awaited with little
patience the time of certain fray. Each day we built our flaunting fire
outside and cooked our meat there. We knew the fight would come. It
came soon and in a way we had not thought of.

I must tell here of what I learned afterward. There was new trouble in
the great cave. Wolf had again demanded Laugh for his wife, and her
father, the aged and feeble Hairy, could not protect her if he would.
She was in a desperate strait, but a most resolute maiden and a daring
one was Laugh, and she at this time resolved swiftly and desperately.
She had watched longingly the distant smoke. She would flee to Six
Toes, who was, at heart, her choice. Besides, had he not fire and roast
meat, and, oh, how good roast meat was!

Little preparation had the girl to make. She wrapped her few belongings
tightly in a skin which she fastened to her back with thongs, and then,
one morning, just as the light was coming and the dangerous creatures
of the night had sought their hiding-places in the hills and forests,
she glided from the cave, at first unnoticed, and began her run. The
sun was shining all over the snow fields and down the valley now, but
she relied upon her swiftness. A fourth of the way she had gained when
Wolf, suspicious concerning her and ever watchful, seeking her early,
found that she was not with her father, and, rushing from the cave, at
once perceived her in the distance. He knew what her flight portended.
He seized his weapons with a bellow, shouted to his immediate
followers, and bounded forth in hot pursuit.

Fleeter of foot than most of the Cave women was Laugh, but the fall of
snow had not been light and she was not as strong and tireless for such
hampered run as were the angry ones pursuing her. They gained upon her
almost from the first, and her flight became more straining, though
she did not falter. Bravely, if even gaspingly, she ran, but when she
attained the slope which led upward to the awaiting shelter the rushing
Wolf was scarce a dozen yards behind, though here on the wind-swept
ascent the snow became lighter and Laugh almost held her own. Then she
did what alone saved her. She yelled as only a Cave woman can yell,
which meant much, and Six Toes, leaping to the porthole, saw it all. He
rushed to the cave entrance, I at his heels.

It was a close finish--there could be no doubt of that. Wolf’s final
swift rush told as they neared the cave, as with outstretched hand he
almost succeeded in clutching the fleeing girl as she dived into the
opening of the cave. Six Toes caught her in his arms as she came, and
I sent an arrow whistling outward, but Six Toes was in my way and Wolf
leaped aside unhurt. Then came a few moments’ pause. Laugh was safe
within the cave. Wolf and his followers, who had by this time joined
him, were gathered just aside from the entrance in noisy council. We
waited alert and hungrily, for we knew that our time of vengeance was
at hand, I guarding the cave opening, Six Toes at the porthole on the

As they conferred excitedly the party of Wolf moved farther to the side
and I crept nearer and nearer to the mouth of the cave. I knew there
would be happenings. Then I heard the voices moving more to the side
and ran back into the cave again and looked over Six Toes’ shoulder.
Suddenly the men outside moved again, and there, now they stood, not
six yards from the point of Six Toes’ arrow, Wolf, with his broad back
to it, waving his arms and commanding violently. Never was fairer mark
offered a Cave man and never a deadly opportunity seized upon more
eagerly. Slowly Six Toes drew the long shaft backward until the stone
head touched the great bow, which creaked and groaned beneath the
strain; then he released it!

There was a tearing thud; Wolf threw up his hands and stood wavering
there with a short length of the knotted wood jutting from his back.
For a moment he swayed and trembled, and then pitched forward as dead
as the deer and the little wild horse stored beside us in the cave.
With a yell of terror his followers started up the valley and I
bounded out from the cave and sent an arrow after them as they ran.
I could hear the “thut” and one of them began to run waveringly and
laggardly. It was a fine shot.

It was good to see Laugh eat. Little cared she what we were doing. The
smell of roasted meat had assailed her, and she was gnawing greedily
at a bone with cooked flesh still upon it as we turned to look upon
her, still flushed from the race. She looked up at Six Toes and laughed
happily. Then he, too, laughed and sat down beside her. They were mated
now, and were content.

So, for a few days, there were no happenings of note. Six Toes and
Laugh were cheerful in their end of the cave, and I only less so in a
little alcove at the side where I slept now dreamlessly. Laugh helped
in the skinning of the game. We brought and cooked the flesh and kept
ever a sharp lookout up and down the valley. Did Laugh become lax in
any of her duties, Six Toes, as a husband should, admonished her with a
strip of hide, but she rarely needed such correction, and his strokes
were light, for were they not newly wed? I alone became, finally,
somewhat restless. I felt that there was more to come, not that I
feared it, but I was curious. The half-freezing tribe would soon be
heard from.

We had not long to wait. Following the death of Wolf there had been
much debate in the great cave. Evidently Six Toes was a wizard, and
evidently a great wizard was a good thing for a clan to have. Besides,
Six Toes was a famous hunter and a man of might, and why not yield to

They came, one day, a straggling group, including even the older
men, and I, who guessed their mission as I saw them in the distance,
conferred swiftly with Six Toes and advised him earnestly. They halted
at a distance from the cave and yelled forth the nature of their visit
and then, assured of safety, laid down their weapons and came forward.
Six Toes, I standing beside him, received them somewhat gruffly. They
said that they were cold and that he could make fire for them; as they
were leaderless, too, would he not return to them?

Six Toes was stern but not unfriendly. He said that they were right.
He was a wizard and could make fire. They were leaderless, because he
had slain Wolf. He could slay others. He had been driven forth from the
band, he and his brother Scar, but he would not remain angry with them
if they would take him as a wizard and as the head of the clan and so
obey him. If they disobeyed, well, he could burn all enemies. The sun
was shining and he drew forth the fire-stone from his pouch and set
into flame the bundle of dry reeds I brought. The sight startled and
appalled them, and some of the old men even grovelled at his feet. All
yielded wildly and blindly and, the young men carrying our belongings,
Six Toes and Laugh and I in the lead, we took our way to the great
cave of many galleries where the remainder of the band received us
with mingled fear and joy. Then Six Toes made fire outside and lighted
from it, other fires soon blazed within the great cave’s chambers, and
meat was roasting everywhere, and there were warmth and feasting and

There were hosts of wild things for the hunting, the band had stores
of nuts and roots, there were fire and warmth, and the winter passed
in comfort for the Cave man. There came the spring and summer and the
brown autumn, and in all our wanderings with Six Toes as our head we
had fire at need, and the clan flourished beyond the ordinary lot of
the wild man of that time. Next to Six Toes, I was the strongest and
starkest man among them, and it came to me that, like him, I would
take a wife. There was a girl, Black Eye they called her, who was most
holding of desire to look upon. She I resolved to take, and I knew,
from the looks she sometimes gave me, that she would come willingly. I
was content in those days.

None other of all the band was so soft of foot as I when need came.
I could thread the wood without the crackling of a twig. I could
creep as silently as the forest cats which caught the birds upon the
ground; I could steal so close to any creature that, if it saw me not,
nor smelled me, I could come to stand beside it and impale it with a
close driven arrow or even with my spear. So I wanted no clumsy-footed
companion with me to mar the outcome when I hunted, and, save when we
sought the fiercer creatures, rarely went forth other than alone.

One day it chanced that I was creeping upon a flock of ptarmigan
feeding in a thicket where were many berries. Already, in another place
I had killed a number of them, and cared little whether I shot more of
them or not. Glancing about as I so crept along, I saw what interested
me. Upon one of the bushes with a foliage darkly green hung great
clusters of berries not scarlet, like those the birds ate and which
we ate ourselves, but of a purple such as I have never seen before.
They were wonderful. Surely, I thought, they must be better than the
smaller red things, richer and more luscious. I tasted them and found
them sweet and musky and fragrant, and, yielding, I gorged myself from
their abundance, and then lay down upon the dry grass in a little open
space, to rest and dream, and, it might be, sleep, for there came a
sort of languor over me and sleep seemed good. I lay there dozing when
I heard a fluttering of birds about me and reached for my bow and tried
to rise, but could not. My legs refused to aid me and my arms seemed
heavy. There came a doubt upon me. We had learned that there were
poison things, though never had I known them in this region, and surely
berries so luscious could not be harmful. But I cared not. I seemed
in another world. What to me that fruit I had eaten was of the deadly

I lay there helpless, but in no pain. The drowsiness which deepened
brought curious scenes and fancies. Then the visions dimmed and I
drifted deeper into the sleep from which I might not waken. Steadily
all faded. It was done. Not for me was it to hunt or fight with Six
Toes to the end. Not for me to take my mate and live the full Cave
man’s life; not for me to be with the brave clan as it waxed in numbers
and in strength until it became the greatest in all that changing
region of what men call the Dardogne Valley, where our spear and
arrow-heads are sometimes dug from deep in the earth, and where little
children prattle in the vineyards.



When it is warm there is no sound sweeter to me than the sound of
splashing water. It was such a sound that came to my ears as I awoke
from my sleep on a little leaf-covered mound, beneath the boughs of a
thicket-surrounded beech tree on a gently sloping and wooded hillside.
I knew that near me a brook came hurrying down the slope, and that
it was its rejoicing that I heard as it tumbled in little cataracts
along its stony bed. It had worn the stone for centuries, and had
accomplished much on its way to the deep waters of which it was in
search; but of such matter of course I did not think as I opened my
eyes and realized what were my surroundings. I knew that I was content
and sound and full of vigour, though only half awake as yet, but
somehow I was puzzled. Of what had I been dreaming, and which was the
real, and which the unreal? I seemed at home where I was, and yet it
seemed but an hour ago that there were birds,--birds which were good to
eat, about me, and that there were sweet berries, and that I had eaten
them, and then had gone to sleep. But there were no birds about me now,
and there were no berry bushes. The beech tree was familiar, and so
were the singing and laughing of the water. I was in my own place and
well. What foolish things are dreams!

There came a long call,--“Co-ee! coo-ee!”--from a distance below me,
and the sound was most familiar. It was the call of Droopeye, close
friend and companion of mine, though not, it may be, so near to me as
Thin Legs the wise one, upon whom I relied concerning many things of
which I was in doubt. But I cared much for the merry Droopeye, who made
one forget the heavy thoughts which would come at times, and we were
often together in our hunting or any other of the journeys made by us,
the men of the water caves.

I was glad to hear the summons of Droopeye--he was called so because
he had had a hurt in his youth such that one eyelid drooped, and gave
him an odd look--since there had come to me strange dreams as I slept
there beside the brook which tumbled down the hillside into the lake.
I wonder why it is that I have always had strange dreams? Queer and
singular they have been, not like those dreamed by my tribesmen, as
they have told them to me. They dream of the hunt or the fishing or
of the men and women among us; but I do not dream of such things. My
dreams are such as I cannot understand; for they are of places and
people and ways ever different from what is all about me, of men and
women and lands and beasts I have never seen, of countries of hot sands
and mighty deserts, or deep, steaming jungles, or cold lands of ice and
snow, or of mighty forests where were no men at all, but only fierce,
wild creatures upon the ground, and in the treetops other creatures
looking somewhat like men indeed, but living in lofty nests, and ever
fearful of the beasts below. I do not understand these dreams, and they
make me wonder, with almost a little fear. Before the call of Droopeye
I had dreamed of a far land of caves and people somewhat like our own,
it is true, but with cruder spears and bows and arrows, and with some
trouble in the making of fire, which has become to us so easy. And it
seemed to me, too, that in my dreams I had myself been in some great
peril, but I remembered it only dimly.

So, when I awoke to the call of Droopeye, I answered lustily and leaped
to my feet, and met him as he came running up the slope from the
shining water. He held in his hand a wonderfully bright shell, which he
had found upon the shore, and which he showed to me laughingly.

It is hard to say why I, so different in all my ways, should care at
all for the companionship of such a man as Droopeye, who was not the
best aid in the hunt, and who could not run as fast or far as I, nor
send an arrow from his bow so surely and so strongly. But I liked to
have him with me, to hear his merry words, often, it seemed to me, not
at all unwise, and to laugh at his shots, when, as he often did, he
missed the little standing deer upon which he had crept unseen, or the
great bustard which offered so fair a mark. Surely a poor bowman was
Droopeye, though a good fisherman, and knowing as to all the roots and
fruits and berries which were fit for eating. So I liked to have him
with me in the forest or in the hills, despite his uselessness in the
hunt, and cared for him as I have seen some great wild beast endure and
seem to care for a lesser one about him. Ever ready was Droopeye to
build the fire with the hard pointed stick twisted with the bowstring
into the dried, punky wood, and he was ready in the skinning and in
carrying his burden of whatever might be our spoil to the distant camp.

It was Droopeye who first learned to make sounds upon stretched skins,
which drew to him the younger men and the girls, and made them utter
odd singing noises, and want to skip about. Very curious was this
thing. We had been at work upon the skin of a groundhog, one time,
scraping it clean of all flesh, and making it fit for use as some sort
of pouch, and when we had done this Droopeye stretched it across the
end of a short hollow length of log which chanced to be lying near his
hut, that it might dry there flat and firm until he should take it
off to knead and stretch into softness, as was the way. It was pinned
tightly with strong thorns driven through its edge into the wood, and
there it dried, flat and taut and firm. Then, one day, when I was with
him, Droopeye remembered the skin he had left out in the sun to dry
so, and brought it to the entrance of the hut, where he took a seat
beside me, preparing to pull out the thorns, and make the skin soft
again by kneading. We were talking, and he forgot for the time about
the skin, playing with a short, hard stick he had chanced to pick up as
we talked. At last he lifted the short length of log--it was light and
thin and very dry--and, in idleness, hit the skin a smart blow with the
stick he held. The sound made us both leap to our feet, it was so loud
and odd and booming in a queer way. Again and again did Droopeye hit
the skin, and each time came the booming sound, and others came running
to see what it was.

“I will not take off the skin,” said Droopeye then. “I will keep the
sounding thing to play with.”

And this he did; and it came, at last, that he fastened a skin across
the other end of the little dried hollow log, and the booming was
increased, and a great thing finally came of this, for, in time, a
bigger length of hollow log was taken, and chipped and scraped smooth
inside and outside, and when other skin was stretched and fastened
tightly across the ends, and the thing was beaten, the booming drumming
could be heard from afar, and we had a means of summons for all the
tribe should any time of peril come.

But the sounding upon the skin was not all that came of this queer
discovery of Droopeye. It so pleased him that he tried stretching more
skins across hollow things, making still different sounds, and other
sound-making things he tried. Finally he stretched a bowstring of
sinew above the half of a great dried wild gourd upon which a skin was
stretched, and it made a twanging which pleased him much, though the
sound was not at all like that of the beating upon the drum.

Then to Droopeye came another fancy, for he was ever different from
the rest of the tribe, in thinking of that which might be strange and
new. There was a boy so pinched of face that he was called the Rat,
and this Rat was so charmed by the noise that Droopeye made with his
new things that he was hovering about constantly when the sounds were
made. Him Droopeye taught to strum upon the sinew stretched across the
gourd, and soon they would make the new and strange noises together
and at night--that is, in the early night, when the hunters and others
had returned to camp, and had eaten--there would always be a swift
clustering around the players, though I cannot tell why this was so.
The strumming noise seemed to touch the feet of those who listened,
and they moved uneasily, and would often shout when the sounds came
swiftly and regularly together in some way I had never heard before.
Very odd it was to see them thus swaying together, sometimes clapping
their hands as the sounds came, and at last they would caper and circle
about, stepping as came the sounds, and all were delighted with it. So
came what Droopeye said was the first music, and, whatever it may be,
it assuredly was marvellous.

Such a merry man was Droopeye, whose call I answered, and with whom I
often went to the huts and caves of our little village by the lake in
the hills. He had done a wonderful thing, but nothing so wonderful as
that which Thin Legs and I did, and which proved so great a thing for
all the tribe.

Never before, so the old men said, had the Cave people been more quiet
and prosperous; for we had a good region in which to live, the winters
were not so white and hard as they were in the times of which the old
men say their fathers’ forefathers told, and there were fewer of the
great man-eating wild beasts. Very huge and dangerous were these beasts
once, and even at this time it was not good to meet the great bear or
the tree leopard, or the wolf pack, or even the huge lone wolf which
sometimes crouches by the woodpaths at night, and springs out upon
and tears the throat of the unwary. Once such a wolf sprang out upon
me; but I throttled him, though my arms were torn, and I was sick and
weak for many days. The teeth of the old wolf are very long; but I am
strong, and my grip is crushing.

We had not been at war with any other tribe since I was a youth, and
we had not been driven away from the camping place by the great floods
which sometimes came in the past times, and so we had thriven here, and
had done many things. There were the boat and the barb!

Very well do I remember how the first boat came. It was after a great
storm, before which I had been hunting with One Ear far up the river
which runs to the sea, and to which one now paddles through the lake
from which the creek runs to our smaller lake about which were our
huts and caves. The water had come in a vast flood, and had caught us
in the distant valley, and we had climbed into a tree, that we might
not drown, and there we crouched and clung throughout the night. When
morning came we could see nothing but the tops of other trees and the
great waters. We were weak and hungry. We must leave the tree or die;
and, when a log big enough to carry us both came closely by, we dropped
down upon it together. We were swept into the deep water, and tossed
about in eddies, and tangled and delayed, but not for a very long time.
We were going straight toward a little island I knew well, though only
its bare crest now showed above the waters.

We stranded against the island’s shore, and crawled up a little way,
and rested, lying very still, for there was little life left in us. At
last I rose and looked about, and then I shook One Ear by the shoulder,
and shouted loudly. There was game upon the little island, game
imprisoned by the flood. There were hares, a score of them; and we slew
them with our axes, for they could not escape, and fed upon them, for
we were famished. Then we slept, and it was night when we awoke. We
were hungry still, and ate and slept again until the morning came.

The storm was ended, but not the flood. We could see no land except the
little space on which we were, and even that was lessening. What should
we do? We ate more of the hare, and sat down upon the sand, and One Ear
became sad, and howled as the lone wolf sometimes does. The sound was
not good to me, for it made me sorrowful, and I threw my axe at him,
but did not hit him. Nevertheless, he ceased his howling.

It was mid-afternoon when I saw coming down the river what seemed to
float higher on the water than did the other things. As it neared us,
I recognized it as something I had seen before. It was only a log, but
it turned up at the ends, and rode high in the water, because it was
hollow throughout most of its length, and nearly to its bottom.

Often had I seen that curious log in my hunting far up the river, and
well I understood what had made it as it was. The old sycamore which
had stood so long beside the river had been blown down, and in falling
had struck an uprearing jagged rock, which broke it in two not far
from its torn stump. This part of the trunk rolled aside a little
way, a log of three men’s length and not straight, but curved upward
a little at each end, for the tree had grown crookedly. The log had
lain there long, as I had seen it, and become dry and light, and the
middle, on its upper side, had become a little rotten and wormy. Then
came the great crested woodpecker, the bird which calls so loudly, who
hammered and bored away in search of grubs until he had left there a
furrow of dry dust and chips. The big pine tree which stood near the
sycamore was smitten by the lightning, and sparks from its flaming top
had fallen on the dust on the log left by the woodpecker, and so the
fire upon the log burned, eating its way deeply downward and extending
either way. It had almost reached the ends, and was nearly through the
sides and bottom of the log, when a torrent of rain fell, and there
was no more fire, but still left of the log a big charred and hollow
thing, at the look of which I had often wondered. But I had thought it
worthless. Of what use was a charred and hollow log?

It floated so high that, as it grounded on the beach of the little
island, it came easily within reach of our hands, and we pulled it
ashore. We chattered foolishly over it, and then, all at once, to each
of us, came the thought that the thing might carry us more easily than
the heavier log which had brought us to where we were. We must leave
the island or starve. There were no more hares. We put the log in the
water again, and I held it by an end while One Ear waded out and got
astride it. Then a new thought came to him, and he lifted his legs and
dropped squattingly into the great hollow the fire had made, and looked
up at me, and cackled excitedly. The log floated, and yet he was away
from the water! I clambered in beside him with a shout, the current
caught us and carried us away, and then we yelled together in our
exultation. We were floating, warm and dry, and resting. We would have
suffered, clinging desperately to the log, with our bodies in the chill
water, and, it might be, fallen off and drowned. It was wonderful!
Never had men floated thus before, and we were great men indeed!
Swiftly we were carried toward the promontory afar down where were
the caves where we and our people dwelt. Close in, just at nightfall,
the current swayed us, and we leaped out as we reached the shallows,
and dragged our prize ashore, while the clan gathered about us, all
chattering and wondering. We had what we came to call a Boat!

We ate much and slept soundly, after this our great peril and great
discovery. In the morning followed another gathering of the Cave people
about the strange thing which could carry men safely upon the water;
and he who could draw pictures of wild creatures on the rocks, and who
could chip spear-heads most wisely of us all, was the one who looked
upon the fire-hollowed log longest and most earnestly, though he at
first was silent. Then finally he came to me. A boat seemed to be a
good thing. Why not have another boat? What fire had done, fire could

Not far from the caves, and close by the shore of the currentless
lagoon which reached in from the river, lay the trunk of a large fallen
tree. Our stone axes were good, so Thin Legs said, but might not
suffice to make a boat like that brought by One Ear and me; but surely
we could in time hack off a log, and then make the fire which warmed
us and cooked our food do the rest. So we fell to work eagerly, all
the strong men of the clan coming to aid in turn. It was long work and
wearing, and there were tired arms and blistered hands, but within two
days the log was hacked away from the trunk of the fallen big tree, and
then Thin Legs alone took leadership, and fire was brought.

[Illustration: “With long poles thrust to the bottom, we guided the
boats here and there about the shallow waters.”]

Very wise is Thin Legs. None of the rest of us can think as he does;
none of us can so tell what is going to happen after you have done
things. Now he rested a little. Upon the top of the great log we had
cut away he built a little fire, and supplied it with dry fuel as it
ate its way into the wood. When it threatened to reach too far toward
the end or sides, he dammed it with wet mud, and so made it eat this
way or that way, as he would have it, until of the huge log there
remained but a thing hollowed and charred, with thin, strong sides and
bottom. We pushed it into the water, and it floated high, carrying half
a score of us at once. So came the first man-made boat. Now we could
fish throughout the whole lagoon!

With long poles thrust to the bottom, we guided the boats here and
there about the shallow waters, and had better fortune than ever
before, spearing the fish at all their feeding places. Sometimes, too,
we would guide the boats into the depths of the wild rice which grew
in the water, and lie in wait there for the water-fowl which came at
night. So our fortunes were bettered.

It was a wonderful boat, one we could pole through the water far more
swiftly than we could the other, and it seemed as if there could be
nothing better. But we did not know. Not a great time passed when a
strange thing happened. It was that I saw foolish boys make the clumsy
boat we had before move in the water without a pole. We could make a
boat move in the water only when we thrust down a pole to the bottom,
and leaned against it and pushed; but the idle boys, playing in the
one lying by the bank in the still lagoon, began pulling a flat stick
through the water beside them, and the boat moved out, and then they
were afraid, and yelled loudly, for they could not get back to shore.
We got them back, poling with the only other boat we had. It was
all most foolish, but I wondered. I saw the boys pull the flat stick
through the water, and saw the boat move. I, myself, saw it. After
that, I sought the flat stick the boys had used, and looked upon it and
all over it carefully. It was just as any other flat stick.

When all were gone into the caves or the wood I took the stick and got
into the boat myself; but I carried the pole with me, and laid it in
the boat, lest without it I could not get back to shore. Then I took
the flat stick, and thrust it into the water, and pulled backward with
it, first on one side of the boat and then the other, as we used our
pole, and again the strange thing happened, for the boat moved on the
water as it had done with the boys! Farther and farther it went from
the land, and I took up the pole with which to push myself back, but it
would not reach bottom. The flat stick had carried me too far. I was
frightened. I knew not what to do. I yelled, but there was no one to
hear me. I was afraid of the water.

Then, in my desperation, I took the flat stick again, and pulled with
it in the water, and the boat went farther, and soon, as I looked
about, I saw that I was close to the wood on the other side of the
lagoon. I pulled with the flat stick again, and the boat touched land
again, and I climbed out and lay down upon the ground.

Long I thought. Could the flat stick make the boat go back? I would
try. I clambered into the boat, and turned it about with the pole, so
that it pointed toward the other shore, and then took the stick and
pulled with it in the water again, and was carried back to very nearly
the place from which I had started. I sprang upon the bank, and yelled
and leaped up and down. I wonder why it is that men always dance up and
down and yell when they are happy? The other creatures do not act in
that foolish way.

So I danced and whooped, and then, finally, I became tired. But I
was the greatest man in the tribe. I alone had the flat stick, and
none should take it from me. There was another flat stick lying on
the shore, and I took it up in sport, and got into the boat with it,
laughing, because I knew it would not make the boat move. I was wrong.
I pulled with it as I had with the other, and, behold! the boat moved
as it had done before! Other flat sticks I took then, and pulled with
them, and the boat obeyed them all. Any flat stick would move the boat,
if it were only to be pulled with the flat side against the water. I
was no richer than any other man of the tribe. Then I tried to move
the boat with round sticks--many of them--but it lay still. The sticks
simply glided through the water, and the boat would not heed them.

I shouted again, still more loudly, because I wanted to tell about the
flat stick, and Thin Legs came running from the wood where he had been
gathering nuts and roots. No game had he, for Thin Legs does not often
hunt, though he alone can chip the best arrow-heads and spear-heads. I
told him of the wonderful flat stick, and all it had done, and there
came the thinking look in his eyes which I do not understand, and
then he tried the flat stick himself in the boat, and then climbed
ashore and leaped and shouted almost as wildly as I had done. After
a time he sat down upon a little rock, and sat there long, saying no
word, holding the flat stick in his hand, and looking at it. He could
think long. It did not hurt his head as it did mine, and the heads of
others of the Cave men, if we thought too much. Then we went to the
caves together. Thin Legs carried with him the flat stick, but he said

When I left the cave the next morning the big yellow thing that makes
the light had not yet come up above the great forest to the east. I
could not wait. I was too eager to try to go upon the water again with
a flat stick to move the boat. I ate but a mouthful or two of the flesh
of the little deer I had killed in the ravine in the hills, and then
I ran to where were the boat and the flat sticks. I took my bow and
arrows with me. I would get across the lagoon, and go into the beech
wood where many birds fed on the nuts, and where it was good hunting.
There was no boat there! Then there came to my ears a yell from the
other shore.

I called aloud in answer, and from the shadow of the distant bushes
across the water came out the boat with Thin Legs kneeling in it, and
digging the water, as it seemed, with a flat stick again, and the boat
was coming toward me. But far more swiftly and straight it came than
it had done the day before, and I knew in a moment that Thin Legs, the
wise, had been at work in the night, at work by his fire in the cave,
and that, somehow, he had given more strength to the flat stick.

It was the same flat stick at one end, but not at the other. The day
before it had been hard to grasp and hold, because it was so broad,
and I could not get my fingers round it. I could hold it only with a
hard clutch, pressing on each side, and so could not pull it through
the water without a strain. Now it was another kind of stick. All
night long Thin Legs had worked with his stone hatchet and with his
knife. For what would be the length from a man’s foot to his knee he
had chopped and chipped on each side of the wood until there was left
something that could be clasped easily in the hand, and this part he
had cut and scraped until it was round, like a spear-handle. At the end
was still a flat stick with which a man could pull in the water with
all his strength, grasping the round handle above. No man had seen such
a stick before, and I spoke not, though Thin Legs grinned.

“We will call it a paddle--which means what pulls,” he said, and
grinned again. “Get into the boat.”

I got into the boat, and took the strange stick, and dug it into the
water, and pulled swiftly with all my might, and the boat shot away as
do some of the swimming birds upon the water; for now I had my grip and
I was strong. I went to the other shore, and, very swiftly, back again.
What a thing had we!

And another paddle made Thin Legs, so that we each had one, and day by
day we learned about the boat and the flat stick, until, when we pulled
together, we went over the water like the queer clacking water bird of
the rushes, which need not fly from danger, so swiftly can it swim.

And all this time, in the day, was Thin Legs toiling upon a new boat,
the little boat for us two alone, which should be greater than the boat
the tribe had already made. All day he toiled, chipping with his stone
axe, and burning with little fires covered by wet clay, that the fire
might not reach too far, and each night I brought him food--nuts and
berries and meat--for I was as eager about the boat as he. And, one
day, Thin Legs declared the boat was done.

It was a wonderful boat! Never before had such a boat been seen. Not
great in size was it--only the length of two men, and but broad enough
for one--and each of its ends was pointed like the other. But it was
not that which made the boat so marvellous. Long and patiently had
Thin Legs laboured. Much had he chipped and burned, and so watchful
had he been that the boat, smooth on the outside as the shell of the
river turtle, was itself but the thinnest shell, alike in thickness
throughout every part of the tough wood, yet as strong as the clumsy
boats we had already made, and so light that one man alone could carry
it. Even Thin Legs found it not too great a burden. To me, Scar, the
Strong One, it was as nothing. Yet this shell thing could easily carry
the two of us upon the water, and a considerable burden besides. Very
wise was Thin Legs.

Wondering were the other Cave men when we put our boat in the lagoon
and they saw how great indeed it was. Many days we practised, and
learned to paddle, alone or together, and to turn the boat this way
or that as we willed. We might, we thought, even venture upon the
deep river, but we were not sure of that yet. Some day, though, we
would make the venture; though far down the river, so the old men said
their fathers had told them, were a strange people, who lived upon the
shell-fish they dug from the sands of the shores and who were very
fierce, and slew all strangers, though they had no bows, but only
spears and axes and stone knives. Of all these things Thin Legs and I
talked much, but we had no thought of going upon the deep river at this

For a long time we used the boat, going where we would in the lagoon,
and spearing the fish, though many we lost, because our spears would
not hold them well; and great hunting had I in the beech and oak woods
on the farther side, which we could not reach so easily before, and
where the bush birds, and the cock that struts and calls, and all the
creatures that feed upon the nuts and berries, were not so fearful as
those on the side of the lagoon where were the caves, because they had
not been hunted so often. Close upon these creatures I would creep, and
drive my arrows through them; and we would come back to the caves with
much meat. And there was none among the hunters who matched with me,
Scar, the strong bowman. Then another great discovery.

I had shot and killed a porcupine, and went back to the caves with him
most carelessly; and because there was more than I could eat--he was
a very fat porcupine--I called to Thin Legs to come and cook and eat
him with me. I was careless, and one of the spines, the things upon
the back of the porcupine, slipped into my thumb, and I could not pull
it out again from the flesh below the first joint. Thin Legs tried to
help me get the piece of porcupine out of my hurt thumb; but it would
not come back, though we pulled, and it hurt me, and I yelled. Then
suddenly I pushed it--I don’t know why I pushed it--and it went easily
and smoothly. Thin Legs took hold of the other end of it, and pulled
the great quill through without hurting me at all.

The next day we took our little boat, and rowed up and down all around
the edges in the yellow, shallow water, and, with our flint spears,
speared many of the fishes; but many of them slid off--not all of them,
because sometimes we used to toss them swiftly into our boat or to the
bank. But the most of them slid off; and though we were very keen of
eye and deft of hand, Thin Legs and I, we never got the half of them.

But something came into my mind that afternoon, and I looked at Thin
Legs as we lost fish after fish, and rowed to the shore with him, and
sat down on a little rock, and then I asked him what it was that made
the quills of the porcupine hold things so.

He did not answer, but thought a little. There came the distant look
upon his face again, as if he had found something, and then, with a
shout, he leaped up, and began running toward the cave. I paddled back
with the boat and fish, but I did not see Thin Legs again that day.
He was working in his cave, and would allow none to enter it. In the
morning I knew. All night he had worked, and he had chipped the heads
of two flint spears so that they were barbed, as were the quills of the
porcupine, only in a far coarser way. Then I knew. Never had been such
spear-heads before, nor any worth so much in food-getting! How can I
tell the story of the Barb?

We went to the lake the next day with our spears--for Thin Legs had
made another like the first one--and we rowed in our boat among the
shallows, and there came beneath us the great fish; and we speared
them, and none of them slipped away, because of the great barbs at the
side of our flint spears.

Very heavily laden was our boat, for it was full of fish when we
paddled back that day, and very rich in fishes were we now, and great
men in the tribe were Thin Legs and I, because of the spears which held
the fishes. There would soon be other spears--very many of them--like
these spears that Thin Legs and I had made; but that does not matter.
After this, in all the time when the winter had not come, there would
be fish enough to eat in the caves. So Thin Legs and I were very proud
as we strutted along the narrow pathway below the caves and close to
the water where the frogs croak so oddly in the weeds of the sloping
bank. The boat and the barb were ours!

There is a curious white fish, very tender and flaky, and sweet in the
mouth, which gathers in schools in the big river just above where the
swift current begins, and it came to me that I might go among them
with tied lines and barbed hooks trailing from the boat, and so catch
at least one or two of them. I wanted Thin Legs to go with me, but he
declared it to be unsafe. If once the current got hold of the boat too
strongly, he said, it would be carried down the river and over the
falls and upon the jagged rocks where no man could live; but I only
laughed at him, and said, since he feared, I would fish alone. I took
my lines with me, with bait for the barbed hooks, and tied one end of
the lines about my waist, letting the hooks float in the water far
behind. When I heard the roar of the falls, I became afraid, and wished
to turn the boat to row back with the floating hooks; but I found
all at once that I had come too far. As I strove to turn, the fierce
current caught the paddle, and exerted its strength against me. How
could Thin Legs have chanced upon such treacherous wood? The paddle
snapped short in the middle, and I was helpless with the fragment of
the handle in my hand. The boat whirled round in the rushing waters.
The falls roared more loudly. There were the jagged rocks below, and
certain death there. I threw myself along the bottom of the tossing
boat, lest it overturn even before the leap. But of what avail? There
was only death below!

I closed my eyes, and, with a roaring of the waters in my ears, shot
downward toward the jagged rocks, and then came nothingness.



The hut, which was made of poles leaning against the perpendicular side
of the rocky height, was cool and pleasant to lie in during the heat
of the day. It was mid-afternoon, and why I should have been sleeping
at such a time of day I could not understand. Through the entrance to
the hut I could look across the valley, through which ran a shallow
little river, and could see huts like the one I occupied ranged against
the extending wall of the precipice, and people moving about. For a
moment or two I was lost in mind. Surely I never had seen the valley
and the huts before. I dreamed I had been somewhere else--in a boat
tossing madly on a wild river. But soon my senses returned. I, Scar,
the Strong, was in my own hut, and with my own people, and all was
well. Where was Thin Legs? Where was our boat? How came I to be wearing
a coat of deerskin, and how came I to be wearing leggings of the same
skin? Always had my legs been bare. Then I laughed; for, all at once,
my mind came back to me. I had only dreamed. I was in my own hut, in
the village of my clan, than which there was none more prosperous.
What clan had better homes or better bows and spears and axes in the
hands of better hunters and fisherman living near the broad lake which
lay between the rocky hills sloping downward to the plain and woods,
through which a river led to the not-far-distant sea? The water of the
lake was salt, for the tides came up the river to it; and there were
many fish there, and shell-fish, where the wild things fed. There were
no people who excelled us, and indeed we knew of no other tribes, save
one living far to the south and another which it was said lived still
farther to the westward. We were a satisfied people, remaining long in
one place, though sometimes, in the summer, we abandoned the village
to the women and children and old men, and made hunting trips to where
the great ox, the urus, was more abundant than nearer us, to bring home
the dried meat to make full the winter’s store. Fish from the lake we
had, and dried them, and from the forest the women brought the wild
plums and a sort of apple, and many berries, which also were dried, and
which we ate in winter. Also the women gathered seeds and grains, which
they pounded into a coarse meal, between smooth stones, and this they
mixed with water into cakes, and made that which was good to eat with
the meat and fish, either fresh or dried, as in the winter-time, when
the game might have drifted southward, and the ice was thick upon the
lakes, so that the hunting and fishing were not easy, and starvation
might come had we not the dried things. We were ordinarily provident,
though, for Old Bear, the head of the clan, had wisdom, and his axe was
heavy. He was a huge old man, heavy of aspect, and strong, and rarely
was he disobeyed.

I became more thoroughly awake, and rose from my bed of wolf-skins,
and stretched out my arms, and flexed my muscles, and went out into
the sunlight, and looked about me. I was hungry, and there had come
to my nostrils the odour of roasting meat, as there should have been
that of fish as well. I knew what I should find. There would be Limp,
who lived in a nearby hut, who always rose before me, and prepared
the food, as was right, for was it not I who brought in all save the
fish, for the broken and shortened leg of Limp made him of little use
in the hunt? He could fish well, and do many other things better than
the rest of us. I have heard that it has been always the way with
men, that those who were crippled have been deepest of thought and
discovered most of the new things that have been good for us. The old
men tell us so. And in almost every clan there are cripples; for there
are dangers all about, and it is only natural that some of us should
be killed or at least maimed. Why the maimed should often become the
wisest, I do not know. Perhaps it is because they have more time to
think, and so conceive of new things. It seems to me that must be the
reason. Limp, my closest friend, was full of dreams. He should have had
a wife, instead of living with me, who cared little for women; but the
woman he sought he could not get. I was sorry for Limp, because of his
disappointment over the woman beyond his reach, and told him so; and
sorry also that I could not aid him, and so he had to endure his sorrow
nearly alone, unless it may be that he had the sympathy of old Ox, and
Feather, his wife, whose hut was up the ravine a little way apart from
the village. It had at one side of it an open swarded space, where the
two old people worked together in the sunshine, he fashioning bows and
arrows, and she attending to the drying of the fruits and berries she
had gathered, or grinding the seeds and nuts. Very wise was Feather in
the gathering of seeds. She knew where grew the millet and the wild
barley, and, old as she was, gathered more of those seeds for the
winter than did any other woman of the tribe, though of nuts and fruit
she did not get so much, because she was too old and weak to climb.
So she sought the seeds, though the millet and barley did not grow in
abundance anywhere, and to get the seeds she must often wander far and
search most patiently. It was pretty to see the old man and the woman
working together in the sunshine in the rock-surrounded glade, and Limp
was often with them; for times would come when the whole village was
abandoned,--the men upon the hunt, and the women and children gathering
wood or fruits and nuts, and only these three would be left. I have
said that old Feather was wise--shrewd she was, too--and it may be that
it was she who, being a woman and old, must know the hearts of women,
first gave to Limp the idea from which came the thing he did to help
him toward Little Toes, the woman he so desired.

I have said there was no smell of fish when I awoke. Great fisherman
as Limp was, we had fared without fish, and I had threatened him with
my unstrung bow; but he only laughed and cared not, for he knew that I
would not strike him. For days he had been absent, and I knew not where
he had been; and I did not question him, for that was our way. The hut
people, save in light obedience to the head of the clan, were each a
law unto himself. It chanced, though, that on this day of which I tell,
after I had eaten and again threatened Limp because there was no fish,
I went down the river toward a forest near the lake, and, as I neared
it, saw Limp walking up and down the shore, and stooping often to pick
up something he had found. I ran down to where he was seeking, and
caught him by the shoulders, and shook him, and then laughingly he told
me what he had been doing.

Ever, Limp said, even when he tried to sleep at night, there was the
vision of Little Toes before him--Little Toes, with her necklace of red
berries. He had been sad day and night because neither the father nor
the mother of Little Toes wanted to give her to such as he, who was
lame, and could only fish, and furthermore because another man, whom
they favoured, wanted her. Big Bow, the great hunter, was wooing her;
and she often smiled upon him.

Big Bow had cast eyes on Little Toes, whose father and mother were old
and lazy, and thought he could buy her by gifts of meat and skins,
as well he might; but the goodwill of Little Toes herself must be
considered, for we did not seize upon the women we bought, as was once
the custom, and for Little Toes there were other suitors. Limp, it must
be admitted, was not very fine to look upon. He could talk better than
Big Bow, and women like one who can talk; but he could not bring many
skins or much meat, though of fish he brought abundance. But people
cannot live on fish alone. It seemed that Limp had little chance, and
I, his friend, was sorry for him; but I had not fully considered his
shrewdness and his ways.

Ever the young girls sought to bedeck themselves, that they might be
fair to look upon, and sometimes they would string red berries upon
grass, and hang the loop about the neck, and it was a pretty thing
to see. It could last but for a little time, but, while it lasted, it
was glittering; and ever Little Toes wore such a necklace and much she
grieved that the beautiful thing would wither so soon into hardness and
dullness, and of all this Limp knew well. So it came that he conceived
a thing that was wondrous. He told me of what he had done. He was
walking beside the lake one day, black of mood, thinking of Big Bow,
and of how hard his chances were of getting the woman who seemed so
fair to him. It was as he walked thus--as he told me--that his eyes
rested, at first unseeing, on the shore’s margin, where the creek
tumbled into the lake, and where there was a blaze of colouring as the
sun shone on the tossed-up shells of white and of a glittering pink of
which the lake had many. Somehow they made him think more than ever,
if that were possible, of the red berries around the throat of Little
Toes. Much he thought, he told me, until, suddenly, he knew what it
was that made him see Little Toes with her necklace. The white shells
were like her white skin, and the pink shells were like the berries.
Then came to him a great idea. He ran up and down the shore, gathering
the pink shells and the white ones, and filled his wolfskin pouch with
them, and then ran to his cave, and stayed within it long. So it was
that for many days I had seen so little of him, and had wondered what
he might be doing thus alone.

In a hidden place among the rocks near the lake he was at work with
bits of sandstone and his drill of the hardest flint, working more
eagerly than ever he had worked on spear or arrow-head, and wonderful
things began to show in his strong hands as he so laboured. He was
most patient, as surely he had need to be. He bored each white shell
and each one of the bright pink until there were many of them thus
pierced, and then he rounded and polished them until they glittered
wondrously when he brought them to the light. He marvelled at them
himself. They were wonderful beads. He took a long tendon from the
leg of a great elk which we had killed, such tendon as we used for a
bowstring, and which would last a lifetime, and upon this he strung the
beads, first a pink one and then a white one, and so on to the end. He
knotted the ends of the tendon together, in a knot that could not be
untied, and then held up before his eyes something which no one had
ever seen before--the most glorious shining thing that men had ever
known. It was the first necklace that would not shrink and wither. All
this Limp told me, and showed me what he had made. It was marvellous.
And, after this, the days passed, and he still laboured on the bauble.
But no longer did I reproach him about the fish. My heart was with him,
my lame companion.

And all this time, while Limp had been working in the hiding place in
the rocks, Big Bow had been seeking to gain Little Toes and take her to
his living place. To him, as to Limp, came a new idea. He would make a
gift to the girl. One night, just after the darkness came, Big Bow went
to the cave of Little Toes when he knew that the girl would be alone,
for that was the time that Old Log and Groundnut, his wife, went forth
to gossip in the neighbouring caves. Tossed over one of his shoulders
was the body of a little deer, very fat, that he had killed that day;
and over the other hung down to his very feet a great glossy mass,
which was the most wonderful skin in the world, for it was the skin of
the great cave bear, the only one in the tribe, and had come to Big Bow
because he was foremost in the famous chase and fight when the bear was
killed. The bear put an end to old Chuck that day.

Few words had Big Bow. He laid the deer at the feet of Little Toes, and
then spread out the skin on the ground before her.

“It is yours,” he said. “To-morrow I am coming to take you to my cave.”

Little Toes did not answer at first. She only threw herself down upon
the furry skin, and cuddled herself there.

“It is good,” she said.

Then Big Bow went away.

Soon there was a little sound in the almost darkness, and Limp stood
beside the girl, as Big Bow had done. The fire in the cave blazed up,
and he called her to it. Then from his wolfskin pouch he drew forth
something which flashed and glittered almost like the flying blazing
bugs of the night among the bushes or the shining things in the sky
above. It seemed almost alive. He hung it about her neck. The girl
looked down upon it in speechless amazement. She lifted the beads in
her shaking fingers, but her lips were still. She seemed almost to be
in one of the dreams which come to one sleeping.

“Come with me to my cave, and be my wife,” said Limp.

She did not answer, even then. She only put her hand in his, and they
went out into the night.

They took the bearskin with them.

There is nothing more to tell of the marrying of Limp and Little Toes.
He was with me less. I was sometimes most lonesome without him.

Raging like a bull aurochs was Big Bow when he learned that Little
Toes was lost to him, and that the wonderful skin was lost as well,
and deep were his threats of vengeance upon Limp; but I--I, Scar, the
Strong--told him that I would slay him if evil came to Limp through
him; and he did not dare to hurt him. Not always do the lake people
fight for their friends--we were but rude; but I had for Limp a liking
which was my own, and I am sometimes hard of mood. And soon there
were other necklaces of shell and pebbles, and amulets and anklets of
coloured shells worn by the young women. Very strenuous are lovers.

Never before, as I have said, had the wild people lived so peacefully
nor learned so many things to make the living easier. Fine was the
climate, for even in winter the snows were not too deep nor the cold
too biting, and there were game and fish, and the fruits and nuts
and soft roots of the forest were there in plenty. We were soon to
have them all the more because of the things, as I have said, that we

Many times had the sun risen since Limp and Little Toes began living in
the hut that Limp builded. And one thing, greatest of all, we found,
because now we feared the winters less.

I have told of old Ox, and of old Feather, his wife, who were friends
of Limp, and who lived alone in a hut above the village, and of how the
woman winnowed and pounded her seeds in an open wide earthy space near
the hut, surrounded on all sides by rocks, and never entered save by
her and Ox, or by the birds of the air. Much she laboured there, being
so patient in her gathering of seeds; and it often chanced that when
gusts of wind came in her winnowing by tossing up the grain in her
hands, some of the seeds would be carried away, and scattered over the
little field, and after that the birds would come to eat them. Many a
bird did old Ox get there with his arrows; for though his eyes were
growing dim, because of age, he still shot very well, for he had been a
master bowman in his day. But it is not of the birds he killed that I
am going to tell, but of another matter concerning the scattered seeds,
and what came at first through no man’s thought or doing, but all by
accident, and later because of the wisdom of old Feather.

All through the autumn Feather had winnowed the great store of seeds
she had gathered, and there was an abundance in the skin bags in the
hut for the winter--both to make into the water cakes, and to trade
for meat or fish. But likewise there remained many seeds missed by the
birds, scattered over the little bare field, which, though amid the
rocks, had a soil which was quite deep, the washings from the heights
above. Then came winter and the snow, and the field was hidden.

And then followed the spring, and the rains and the warm sun, and
Feather saw what was curious to her, yet what, as she thought upon
it, pleased her mightily. Thoughtful and far-sighted was old Feather.
What she saw was a green carpet on a little portion of the field near
the hut, and, looking at it closely, she saw that it was made up of
shoots and spears of the millet and the barley, for in her years she
had learned discernment, and knew them well, even as they grew in
greenness. Then came to her a great idea. She and old Ox would not
trample upon the green space, but would let the plants grow and ripen
their seeds there. “So I shall have more seeds for the winter,” thought
she, “and shall not have to go afar for a part of them, at least.” And
so they guarded the patch of barley and millet, and it grew lustily,
and the seeds ripened, and from the fruitful patch old Feather garnered
in the autumn quite a store of seeds, to add to that which she gleaned
in long journeyings across the plain, and between the rocks where a
little soil might be, or in the forest openings. Long and deeply did
Feather ponder over this thing when the winter came again, and she and
Ox, well fed, huddled and talked or slept in their skins beside the
fire in the clod-covered hut. Seeds she had in abundance, and from her
store she filled two bags--one of barley, and one of millet--picking
these seeds carefully one by one from the others with which they were
mixed. To old Ox she told of the strange thing she was going to do,
and he promised to aid her, for well had he learned, through the long
years, of the shrewdness and wisdom of the faithful woman he had taken
in his lusty youth.

To Limp and me, as well as to old Ox, her husband, Feather told her
plan, because she knew that we cared for her, and would not deride her;
and, as for me, I became almost as earnest and curious as she herself
over the outcome of what she was to do. Why should not something come
of that? Plants grew from the seed--we all knew that--and why should
we not put the seeds where we wanted the plants to grow? But only old
Feather had thought of that.

And the spring came again, and the warm rains, and carefully old
Feather scattered her seeds all over the little field, with its scant
covering of short grasses here and there. The barley she scattered
on half of the field, and the millet on the other. I was there when
she did it, and even scattered some of the seed myself, for the field
was not so very little, after all. Nearly a score of yards across, it
must have been. And, after the seed was sown, we sat down beside the
hut to talk. Then to the feast spread for them suddenly the keen-eyed
birds, the pigeons, and even some of the pheasants and many smaller
things. Old Feather ran yelling, and waved a skin at them, and they
flew away, only to return when she came from the field, for the seeds
showed everywhere but too plainly, and were too inviting. Then happened
something because of what was observed of Feather, but did for good far
more than she intended. The seeds must be hidden! She found a little
fallen tree, a great branch to which still clung the dried leaves,
and, I aiding her, we dragged it all over the field, by its trunk, the
ragged points and ends of the limbs tearing up the earth, not deeply,
but enough, and so hiding all the seeds beneath the ground. Then the
birds came no more, though old Ox was watchful and ever ready with his

And as soon as the sun smote down and warmed the earth, though the
snows still came at times, there came sprouts from the soil all over
the little field, and then it became all a vivid green, and later there
was sent up a broad waving mass of the green plants, which yellowed as
the autumn came, and the seeds formed, and Feather, the wonderful old
woman, had, all together, and close beside her hut, such store of seed
as would have taken many weary leagues of search to gather and long
carrying in all weather. The birds came again as the grain ripened; but
the field was guarded by old Ox and me, and great sport we had in the
shooting. A wonderfully good bait for the birds which were best to eat
was the grain field of old Feather. And all the grain there was she
gathered and put into the skin bags. It was good to see old Ox then.
Somehow very close together were these two old creatures, and he was

“There is none like Feather,” he said to me. “Her neck wrinkles are
fairer than the beads of the girls.”

And all the tribe wondered and admired, and much desired such store of
seed as was in the hut of old Ox and Feather. And others would do as
she had done; and that year they garnered many seeds, and stored them,
and when the spring came again they cleared a field on the plain close
to the hillside and near the village, and made a high fence of brush
about it to keep out the wild beasts at night, and there planted the
seed. The grain grew and ripened, and the children guarded the field
to keep away the flocks of hungry birds; and with the autumn came such
store of seeds as the tribe never had owned before. The winter might be
cold, and the snow lie deep, and the hunting be bad, but there would in
time be no starving in the huts, for with each year the field was made
larger, and the crop the greater. But old Feather joined not with the
others. She but worked in her own little field, and pondered much and
planted carefully.

And old Ox became very feeble and died, and we carried him into the
hills, and heaped many stones upon him, that the prowling beasts might
not reach him, and promised Feather that some day we would lay her
beside him, for so she asked us. Feather then lived alone beside her
little field; but an abundance she had brought to her of fish and game,
because of what she had done for all of us, and because she had such an
abundance of good grain to furnish for the seeding.

There was a great marsh perhaps two leagues away from where we lived,
beside the river which ran beside the cliffs, and this opened on a
great creek which ran into our river after it had reached the plain.
In the midst of the marsh was an island with not many trees but much
shrubbery upon it, and all sorts of plants and grasses. Once old
Feather had gone to the island in the later autumn, when the marsh was
frozen over, for it was dangerous and avoided by all at other times,
and there had found, not only much millet and barley, but another
seed which grew a little like the barley, but with shorter husks and
prickles to it, and another kind of seed. She had gathered but little
of this seed; but it had proved most toothsome and best of all seeds to
eat. The wheat, she called it. Much she longed for this seed, that she
might plant it in her field, and raise plants of this kind, but she was
too old and tired for such a journey now, and so I, who cared for the
old couple who had done so much for the clan, made promise that some
day I would get it for her. And this word I did not forget.

There came a day, when it was early autumn still, that I had great good
fortune in the hunt soon after the sun had risen. There was a fog upon
the plain where the deer and the urus and other wild things of the
grass eaters fed, and no wind to carry my scent; and before daylight
I crept far out on the wild meadow, for well I knew the way, even in
darkness, and hid myself in a little clump of bushes near the forest. I
carried my strongest bow and the sharpest and best of my flint arrows.
So I lay hidden and silent, and soon I could hear, very close beside
me, the sound of moving, feeding things. And slowly, very slowly, the
fog thinned, and more light came.

Not ten yards from me--so close that it seemed impossible he could not
have felt me near, nor caught my scent, broad side toward me--fed a
great stag leading his does. Already, before the fog lessened, I had
prepared myself--one knee on the ground, and arrow notched for whatever
hap might come with the light. Never was afforded fairer mark so close.
I held my aim upon where the heart of the stag should be, and drew
with all my strength until the great bow groaned, and the head of the
arrow was beside my hand, and then I released it--I, the strongest of
bowmen. With the loud twang there came a great snorting, and the does
were gone. Not so the huge stag. He leaped far aloft, and gave a mighty
bleat, and rolled to earth, thrashing about in his death agony. I had
driven the arrow through his heart, and so mightily that the arrow-head
stuck out on the farther side!

I ran to the village, and called aloud to the men, and we brought the
stag slung beneath a great pole borne on the shoulders of half a dozen
of us at either end. A great feast of venison had the whole clan that
morning. Much I ate, and then I slept a little; but the sun was not
yet at its highest when I awoke refreshed and strong, and full of
vauntingness. I said to myself, “I will do yet another thing this day.
I will go to the great marsh, and get for old Feather the strange new
seed she wants.” So I said to old Feather, and I spoke vauntingly:

“Already to-day have I killed a great stag, and we have much meat. More
yet will I do before the darkness comes. I will go to the island in the
marsh and gather for you as nearly a bagful as I can of the new kind of
seeds that you need, and will bring the bag to you, that you may keep
the seeds for the spring planting.”

And I threw out my breast.

But Feather cried out that I should not go. Very treacherous was the
marsh, she said, and its sand and its black slime had sucked down to
death many beasts which ventured into it. I must wait until the winter
came, and the marsh was frozen, so that a man might walk upon it
safely. True, there might not be any of the seeds left, for the birds
would have taken most of them, but with the few she had she could raise
a little crop, and the next year there would be an abundance for the
planting. But I only laughed at her. I, Scar, was vain, and thought it
an easy thing for me to do.

Still, after I had left Feather, there was almost a little fear in me.
I knew that many beasts had perished in the marsh, and that in past
times more than one person who had hunted along its edges, and maybe
ventured a little way into it after some wounded game, had never been
seen in the village again; but I was proud, and would not give up the
venture. I sought, however, one of the very old men, Three Tooth, who
had been a great hunter and very daring in his youth, and who, I
thought, might give me good advice as to the way I should take to get
to the island safely. He was very old, and mumbled as he talked, but
from him I learned that once he had reached the island in midsummer,
though after a most perilous journey, leaping from tussock to tussock,
where from the land to the east of the island they rose more closely
than elsewhere; but he raised his thin arms, and shook his wrinkled
hands, and warned me in his cracked voice against trying to make the
journey. Barely had he come back from the island with his life. Once
he slipped as he leaped, and the black ooze and sucking sand caught
him; and had there not been on the tussock from which he slipped a
deep-rooted overhanging willow, to a limb of which he clung, and by aid
of which he at last pulled himself out, he would surely have been lost.
He begged me not to go, but I told him that I had resolved, and so he
told me again the way he had taken, but as I left him he was shaking
his head and mumbling wildly.

One of Feather’s skin bags I took, and fastened it to my skin belt,
that I might not be bothered with the carrying of it, and, besides it,
only my flint spear, the long, strong staff of which I thought might
aid me in my leaping or in balancing upon the tussocks. Across the
plain I went until I reached the eastern side of the great marsh, in
the midst of which rose the island--not very high, but showing green
with its shrubs against the dreary gray stretch of little ponds and
black mud and brown rushes which lay between it and where I stood. It
was true, as the old man had told me, that there stretched irregularly
across this space a line of little uprising mounds and tussocks,
upon some of which were stunted willows growing, but they were not
as close together as I could have liked, and all seemed desolate and
threatening. However, the sun shown brightly, and some of the scummy
pools were glittering in a way, and I felt a little braver than I would
have had the day been gloomy, and so set my teeth together and started
to make the passage.

There was shallow water between me and the nearest uprearing hummock;
but I felt the bottom with my spear, and found it to be safe enough,
and waded out easily to the hummock, which was gray and grassy, and
firm beneath my feet. The next was farther away; but again I felt the
bottom with my spear, and again I waded, and once more landed easily.
And so from hummock to hummock I waded, sometimes leaping when the dry
places were near together, always feeling my way carefully with my
spear, but going forward rapidly. I laughed then at the foolish fears
of the people of the village.

“It is but an old tale,” I shouted aloud in my glee. “It is but a
fearsome story invented by the old men and women. A child might wade to
the island.”

I was within a hundred yards of it. I leaped to the next hummock and
across it, and again thrust down my spear. The water was shallow now
all the way to the shore. But, though I thrust it in to the butt, I
could reach no solid bottom through the black ooze. It clung to the
spear, and strength was required even in pulling out the slender shaft.

Now I thought deeply, and something like a fear came to me again.
Between me and the island’s shore there rose in almost a straight line
a series of sedgy tussocks within leaping distance of each other,
but some of them were small, and I feared unstable in their rooted
anchorage. However, I must try to cross upon them. They might all be
solid. And I must take them with a rush, leaping from one to another
before there could be time for any settling. I braced myself at the
hummock’s edge, holding my spear crosswise in front of me, to assist
me as a balance, and leaped forward in a mad race for the firm land.
From tussock to tussock I sprang, each affording stoutness enough for
the next leap, though some I could feel sway beneath my feet beneath
the thrusting force, and so desperately I gained my way until I leaped
triumphantly for the last, a little sedge-tufted uprising not six feet
from the shore. It turned beneath my feet!

I did not fall, but my feet and legs shot straight downward into the
black ooze, and I stood erect there in water less than a hand’s-breadth
deep, but engulfed nearly to my hips. For a moment I did not seem in
such a dreadful strait. There was the firm land so near me that I could
reach it with my spear; and surely I, strongest man in a tribe where
were many strong ones, could, some way, pull myself from the clutching,
and flounder out to safety. I laid the spear crosswise upon the bottom
in front of me, that I might press upon it as a sort of leverage, and
bore down hardly, and strove to lift my right leg to the surface. I
could not. The spear but sank into the ooze, affording no resistance,
and the leg seemed held in an awful grip such as I never before had
felt. I tried to lift the other, but it would not come from the clasp
of the monster beneath. My struggling but sank me more deeply. That
would not do. I stood motionless, thinking that perhaps I would sink
no deeper. If I could but remain thus, even though I should suffer,
they would--since all the village knew of my quest--come at least to
the border of the marsh, in the morning, to seek for me, and would hear
my shouting. It might be then that they would devise some means of
reaching and rescuing me. I made note of a thong in my skin leggings
below the waist, and so waited, shouting all the time, with a little
hope that some hunter might be passing along by the distant shore. But
there came no answer. Rarely did the hunters seek the water birds of
the marsh. I looked at the thong again. I could not see it! Though I
was making no move, the quicksand of the ooze was drawing me steadily
downward. I lost my wits. I sought to rush to the solid land by some
huge effort of main strength and force, but there was nothing beneath
my feet to aid me, and I sank deeper and deeper. When my struggling
ceased, I was engulfed to my shoulders. Even to free my arms I must
uplift them, and I knew that the end of me was very near. I held them
aloft for a little time, and then, wearied, let them drop into the
water and upon the ooze of the bottom, where they rested, sinking

But at the end, brave men are always brave. I shouted at the ooze and
quicksands. They should not take my life! They could not, for my life
would be gone before they had all my body. There was the water, only
half a foot of it, but enough, and of all deaths, drowning I knew was
the easiest. I had seen men nearly drowned whom we had saved just in
time, and they had told me that such a death must be pleasant. The very
head alone was above the water now. I whooped defiance.



I was aroused from a bad dream by the sharp, yipping cry of dogs. I
was glad to be awake, for in my dream there was suffocation. For a
little time after I awoke I was dazed in mind, and could not recognize
myself or my surroundings. I was lying in a little sunlit hollow upon a
grass-green spot on the surface of a slight rocky height in the plain,
and my bow and skin quiver of arrows and my flint-headed spear, smooth
as the teeth of the river horse and keen of edge as the blades of the
marsh grass, were beside me. Gradually I remembered that I had come
alone to the plain to hunt the hares which were abundant in and about
the scattered rocks, and the bustards which fed upon the seeds of the
many bushes. I had climbed the little height to look about the better,
but could see no game, and so had thrown myself down on the soft turf,
to await whatever might appear, and then had fallen asleep.

Two young wolf cubs had been captured by boys of the tribe, and brought
into camp, and allowed to live; and, when they became grown, were not
savage, like other wolves, but remained about, and were fed, and would
sometimes prove obedient to what was told them. Once or twice they had
even aided in the hunt, by pulling down some wounded animal, and so
had earned their feed. It seemed now that they had followed me to the
hunt, though I did not want them and had driven them back, and now I
rose to my feet to see what it was that had been the occasion of their
clamour. They were leaping frantically about a huge aurochs bull which
had wandered from the wide forest glades where the aurochs were in
greatest numbers, and now was feeding quietly upon the occasional sweet
grass tufts about the thickets. To the two wolf dogs he paid little
attention, save once in a while to shake his thick short horns, and
make a little rush at them. A great pack of wolves would be required to
pull down the mighty aurochs.

I could but look idly upon the useless onslaught. Were I very close to
the bull I might drive a shaft to his heart, and so get a great prize.
We had done this sometimes, hiding in little trees; but I knew, were I
to show myself, that the beast would take to flight, and there was no
cover by means of which I might creep upon him. I shouted and waved my
arms, and aurochs and wolf dogs went careering away together toward the
distant forest. Soon the hares came forth from their hiding places, and
I shot three of them as they came feeding close to the little height
upon which I crouched. Very good eating were the hares, and they were
of much value to us at times, being abundant when greater game was

As I took my way back to the huts in the gorge, the two dogs, tired of
the useless and hopeless chase, came back, and followed close behind
me. It was curious. Never before had any wild beast become a friend of
man, all either fleeing before him or seeking to devour him. Much I
wondered if any other than these would be tamed, and become, it might
be, of use to us. Often had I talked of this to Old Bear, who lived in
a cave near my hut in the ravine, and who was the father of Dark Eyes,
she who should have one of the hares I had killed. Often had I brought
game to Old Bear and his wife and Dark Eyes. She was good to look upon.
Her slender arms were round, and her lips were like the red berries.
Likewise she was changeful of mood, and showed her teeth sometimes, as,
when other beasts come near, does the she panther lying with her cubs
at the mouth of her den in the rocks. And beyond the cave of Bear was
that of the family of Black Bow, with whom I sometimes hunted and with
whom was little Humpback, the slave girl we captured in a battle with a
tribe far to the north, whose lands we had invaded in the hunting. We
lost good men in that fight, and got many hurts; but at last we drove
the others back for a time, and so escaped, bringing with us the girl
Humpback, whom we caught in a tree she had climbed. She was older than
the children of Black Bow and Loon, his wife, and cared for them, and
hunted for nuts and roots, and cooked the fish and meat, though she was
but small and bent, because of the hump upon her back. Likewise she was
deft with the bone needles and threads of sinews, and made the skin
coats and leggins worn by those with whom she lived. Once she made a
coat for me from the skins of wolves I had killed, and it was a good
coat. Often I brought meat to the cave of Black Bow; for I, who lived
alone, often killed more than I could eat, or sell to the old bow and
arrow-maker or to the fisherman. Many were the skins in my hut of poles
and thatched leaves which leaned against the rock, and soft was the bed
upon which I slept. Long, sometimes, did Dark Eyes look upon me, and I
did not like the other look when she saw Humpback eating of the meat I
had brought to the cave of Black Bow. Why should her eyes at such times
have had such a look? The eyes of Humpback never glittered in such a
way, and always she smiled when others ate and patted their stomachs
when they were full and sleepy. Wise and swift was Humpback, and her
look was always that of the urus cow as she broods above her young calf
in the bushes.

I came to the cave of Black Bow, but there was no one within, and none
to be seen up or down the rocky glen in which we lived, and which led
downward to the river. Between the hills was a little valley down
which the creek runs, and in the rocky hill on either side were many
caves, while built against the walls were huts of poles like my own.
Better were the caves in winter, when the cold was bitter, but in the
summer the huts were best to live in. Even in winter they were made
warm with many skins hung tent-like about the fire, and none perished
from the cold. It was a good place for a camping, though sometimes
we might go from there, for we stayed not always in one place, as do
some tribes of which I have heard, who plant seeds in the ground, and
so fear less the famine; but when the game was hunted out we drifted
ever to the southward, to find anew some rocky place beside the water
where we might defend ourselves against all things, and have water
and the fishing at hand. But here was still game. There were yet the
urus and the aurochs and even the little wild horses and wild pigs and
many deer and the grouse and ducks and many other birds. I--Scar, the
hunter--found meat and skin and fur for my using, and sometimes sharp
encounter, for, where the game is, there are the beasts which feed upon
them, the great brown bear, and the smaller bear, and the wolf pack,
and the leopard and panther and hyena-like thing, and the lurking,
silent wolverine, were many in number and ranging far and wide. Once
there were huge tigers, and monsters in the river, so the old men told
from tales of their grandfathers, and from their further grandfathers
away back dimly, but all those more dreadful things were gone. Yet it
was by no means wise to hunt carelessly. Not a few of the tribe had
gone into the woods or far out upon the plain and never came back, and
once I found a gnawed, grinning head of bone which must have been the
head of a man. Always upon my hunting, beside my bow, I carried my
sharp spear in hand, and my stone axe in my belt, and I liked best to
hunt where there were trees which I could climb. Good things are trees.

I turned to walk toward my hut, carrying the hares in my hand, when I
heard a shout from the river, and there came to me Black Bow and his
wife, he with his weapons, and she carrying a great fish he had speared
in the shallows. We had done well. He chopped off a part of the fish,
which he gave to me, and took two of the hares, and then I went to my
hut, and made a fire, and cooked my meat and fish, and ate, and was
most content. And, later, I went out and sat upon a rock with Black
Bow, who also had eaten and was content, and we talked there long, the
wolf dogs playing about us.

The wolf dogs made me think; and I said, as I had said before to Black
Bow, that the dogs were useful, and that we should seek to capture
more cubs in the caves, and I asked him if he did not think there were
other wild things we could tame and use. But Black Bow only laughed
loudly. “What think you,” he said, “of Gnawbones and the leopard?” And
he laughed again.

That indeed made me at a loss to answer, for the adventure of the
leopard had been a brisk one. Because of the youth Gnawbones there had
been a lively half hour in the glen. He was a strange youth, living
with his father and mother, old Three Toes and dark old Night, as they
called her, in the cave apart from the rest of the tribe in the gorge
which leads from the river caves to the forest and plain above. Unlike
most of the Cave people were old Three Toes and Night, and some said
that they were the children of River people, captured long ago. I do
not know. I know only that they lived much on frogs and fish and clams.

But Gnawbones, the youth, was different from his father and mother. He
hungered for meat, and was a lonely creature of the woods and hills.
He sported little with the Cave youth below, but was ever in the beech
woods of the uplands, and the wonder was that the hunting beasts there
had not devoured him. But he was keen of sight and quick of ear, and
could run swiftly, and climb like the monkey people who live far, very
far to the south of us. And he brought alarm to the Cave people, and
how it first began he told me after I had beaten him with the handle of
my spear.

One day, moons before, when the sun had just begun going down the sky
to let the darkness come, he was sleeping soundly in a nest he had made
in a crotch of one of the great beech trees, when something, so softly
purring that it awakened him but slowly, was pressed against his face.
He opened his eyes, and there, snuggling close, was what, to the boy,
was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen. It was tawny, with dark
spots, and had shining eyes and soft paws with which it patted the
youth’s face, and then sank down to stillness beside him. Much as he
knew of the forest, the boy did not recognize the creature; but it was
a very young one of the tree leopard, as it is called, though it cannot
climb the small trees, and it was a thing which I avoided when hunting.

The foolish youth could not bear to leave the thing where he found it,
and slid down the tree with it at once, none too soon, it may be, for
its mother must have left it somewhere in the treetop earlier in the
day, and had she come back in time there would have been an end of
Gnawbones, and the she leopard would have fed well. But he got away
and took to his father and mother the little thing which was so pretty
and purring, and, seemingly, so gentle. They told him he might keep
it--well for them was it that I, who know wild beasts, heard nothing
of the matter!--and so it was kept in the cave, and fed, sometimes
on flesh which Gnawbones brought, but mostly upon fish and clams and
frogs, which, as I have said, were the chief food of Three Toes and his

And so, as Gnawbones told me, when I made him confess with my
spear-handle, the thing was kept in the cave, and grew until it became
a plaything no longer, but something ever hungry, and sometimes sullen.
Then they, the foolish ones, drove a great stake in the cracked rock,
in a corner of the cave floor, and tied the beast there, with a thong
about its neck fastened to a bar of hard wood, which, in its turn,
was tied to the great stake. The brute, nearly full grown, could only
circle about the stake, though ever straining at his thongs. So they
kept him and fed him. No man can tell why they did so.

There came a day when the fishing was bad, and frogs and clams were few
for Three Toes, and the hunting bad for the youth Gnawbones, and that
day the leopard got no food. The next morning he was raging, and Three
Toes and Gnawbones left the cave early to find what might come to them.
At the warm time, the middle of the day, when the sun hung almost over
the caves by the river, there came such a screaming and yelling from
the gorge as had never been heard before. It came to our ears together,
to Black Bow and me, for we were not in our huts, but sitting outside,
working upon our bows. I seized my spear, and ran toward the gorge.

Night, the old woman in the cave in the gorge, told me afterward what
happened to her. The hungry leopard had strained at its leash until the
thong about its neck had parted, and in an instant it had crouched for
a spring at her throat. She had seen it in time, and had caught up a
spear, and had screamed shrilly; and, whatever the cause, the leopard
had turned its head, and then leaped from the cave out into the open.

She saw it go down the gorge, and had rushed out and climbed a tree,
still screaming, to warn Three Toes and Gnawbones, who, she knew, were
in a little wood near at hand. They came running, and then also climbed
trees most hurriedly, and added to the noise with their wild howling to
warn the Cave people below. That was when I, leading the others, came
running to the mouth of the gorge. There, halfway up it, we saw the
leopard, advancing downward, cautious and crouching!

I did not fear the beast. I held my spear forward, and neared the
leopard, until we were close together. With a snarl, it leaped for me,
and I held my spear as I had done before with a leopard I slew; but
the ground was sloping and I slipped upon some pebble, and the spear
just entered the shoulder of the brute, tearing outward through the
spotted skin. The leopard screamed, almost as had the old woman; then,
as it struck the ground, whirled swiftly and dashed up the gorge again.
There it paused and sent up a long, mournful cry, such as I had heard
in the woods before. From the far beech wood came an answer--the call
of another of its kind! It did not stay longer. In long leaps it went
across the open space toward the wood, a spotted shadow against the
brown grass, and into the forest where its kindred were.

And this adventure of Gnawbones and his people was what had made Black
Bow laugh when I talked of taming and training other things than the
wolf dogs. We said no more at this time, but there came a day when he
would have such fancies as had I. We were led to thinking of taming
again by a curious happening, and truly our first effort was no mean
one, however rude its ending. And it was because of a discovery of the
little children. There came the Rope and Noose.

It was when the leaves were beginning to turn yellow, that the children
stumbled upon the thing. Little Round Nose and Crop Ear, the children
of Black Bow, were playing together near where the strong marsh grass
grew thickest beside the river, a little way above the glen of the
caves and the huts. They were amusing themselves, without anything in
mind, as children do, and were merry, running about here and there, as
do the young of the wild things, chattering and digging, and throwing
stones into the shallow water, and watching the little fishes as they
darted away affrighted. They tired at last, and seated themselves in
the long grass where it was dry, and began pulling it up by the roots,
and playing with it idly. Little Crop Ear laid some of the long blades
together; and not knowing what she did, only fumbling with her fingers
at a root bearing three blades, began laying them one over the other.
She did this for quite a space of time, and then shrieked out in
delight upon seeing that the strands remained together in a flat green
braid. She kept up the wonderful task until the whole length of the
grass was braided, and then did not know what to do. She pulled more
grass, and tried to braid it in with what she already had, but could
not do it for a time. But she was a stubborn and persistent child, and,
it may be, had some natural gift at such a thing, just as some of the
boys have in the stone-chipping, and at last she discovered a way of
interlacing and plaiting in the new grass, and making the green blade

Then all went well with her; and, when she returned to the cave, she
carried proudly with her the long, slender, three-stranded cord. After
they had eaten, Black Bow took the string from the child, and began
playing with it, and testing its strength. He wondered at it. He had
not thought that the marsh grass so plaited could be so strong. He
called to me, and I went to his cave, and we considered the thing
together. Why could we not use this queer device to bind things
together, as we used the twisted sinews of the wild creatures we had
killed? We learned from the child how to plait the tough grass, as did
the women of the clan; and henceforth, because of these cords, a new
convenience existed in the huts and caves.

The only fault with the marsh-grass cord was that, tough as it was, it
was not quite strong enough for many uses to which it might be put. “If
it were only bigger,” said Black Bow to me as we talked of the matter;
and then, all at once, there came to him a great thought. If three of
the strands of the marsh grass could be braided so, why could not three
of the cords already made be plaited in the same way, and so on to any
size? We worked together, and when the sun went down that night we held
in our hands a great braid--one he and I could not break, though, each
taking one end, we strained against it with all our force. We owned a
rope of might. And other ropes we made--some from the inner bark we
peeled from the linden tree; but, in the end, the marsh grass proved
the best.

It was queer, but always, it seems to me, when one good thing is found,
there comes another. It may be it is because the first one makes us

There was much use for our ropes. We could tie our boats to the bank
with them, needing no longer always to drag the craft ashore; huts
could be bound about with them to resist the wind storms better; and
there were many other uses for them. Then came the last and greatest
thing, for which I gave Black Bow much credit.

In Black Bow’s cave were always ropes, for Humpback had learned to
make them strong, ever getting the longest and best of the grass, and
plaiting carefully and deftly, and they sufficed to buy much fish,
flesh and skins, and so lessened the labours of Black Bow and Loon. A
rare creature was Humpback.

It was one night, after looking at a new rope Humpback had finished,
that Black Bow, handling it idly, stuck one end of the rope through
a loop he had made at the other and sat holding the end in his hand,
while the opening in the rope coil lay on the floor. He chanced to rise
just as little Crop Ear, running across the cave floor, stepped into
it. The rope came up suddenly, and closed about Crop Ear beneath her
arms. She was a prisoner! She had stepped into the first noose, and it
had risen and tightened about her! There were yells and laughter in
the cave, and others were caught as they walked across the floor, or
were lassoed with the loop thrown over their heads, and there was much
sport there. And the next day, as we sat upon our little rock together,
as was our custom after the hunting or the fishing, Black Bow told me
of the noose, and later we talked again of the taming, and then the
thought of the two things came together!

If the noose at the end of a rope could entrap and hold a child or
a man, why could it not as well tighten upon and hold, alive and
unharmed, any of the wild creatures, and why could we not thus capture
them, and tame them? We reasoned long, and finally came upon a great
resolve. We would lay the noose, and hide ourselves, and capture a wild
doe, and, it might be, tame her, as the wild dogs had been tamed; for
we did not reason at that time that it is only the young of the wild
things that can be tamed.

There was a path through the brushwood leading from the forest to the
plain, along which many of the deer, and often other creatures, were
accustomed to pass to their feeding grounds, and there, we said, we
would first place the gripping noose thing, and lie in wait together.
So, for days, Humpback worked upon the plaiting of a rope at least
seven times the length of a man, and very strong, with a loop for the
noose made at one end, and with it Black Bow and I went forth together,
to what happening we could not guess. It was late in the afternoon, and
already the dusk was coming when we laid the noose in the pathway, and
crouched hidden behind the little bushes near, with the other end of
the rope wound about both our bodies, that we might pull together, and
so be more certain of our capture. We did not have long to wait. There
came a thudding, there was a rough brushing aside of the bushes along
the pathway, and a great hoof was planted in the noose. Black Bow and I
threw ourselves backward with all our force, and drew the strong rope

Of what happened then, neither Black Bow nor I could afterward remember
with great clearness. There was a thundering bellow, a rush down the
pathway toward the open, and we who were seeking the capture of a
gentle doe were torn from our hiding place in the thicket, and carried
sliding, bounding, and hurtling away toward where were the rolling
pastures of the eaters of grass. Our noose was gripping the hind legs
of a great bull aurochs, mightiest creature of the plain, perhaps the
one the wolf dogs had annoyed.

Even such huge beast, fearing little, was panic-stricken with that
fearful thing grasping it.

Clumsily, because so hampered, and still bellowing, floundering rudely
across the billowy prairie, the great brute plunged along; and now
dragged through the swift face-cutting grass, now bounced from hummock
to hummock, we were hurled along furiously at the end of the rope. I
cannot forget it, though it is not good to remember. The rope was about
us both; and as we tore through weeds and brush, we bumped and bounded,
and, coming to earth again, sometimes Black Bow would be atop, and
sometimes I, though which of us was being bruised most fearfully could
not be told. Once we tore through the top of a fallen thorn tree, and
there was blood upon our faces then. The rope, it seemed to me, was
cutting us in twain, but I could not think at the time save in a dim
way, that Black Bow and I were going to our death. Then came what was
a little less terrible. The aurochs was rushing along now where the
plain was more even of surface, and we were dragged smoothly through
the grass, and at a lesser pace, for the strain was telling upon even
so powerful an animal. Something must come soon, though, or there would
be two dead men at the end of the rope. It came, and saved our lives.

There was in the way of the aurochs a little gully, and this he sought
to leap in his blundering and hindered flight. His hind leg, drawn
backward by the weight at the end of the rope, crippled him in the
effort, and he swerved, stumbled, and rolled down upon his back into
the depression. He was helpless for the moment in this struggle; and
that moment we made the most of, bruised and bleeding as we were,
though not insensible. There was a little slack in the rope now: and,
since one of our knives still remained in its pouch, we slashed the
rope between us and the aurochs, and then the coil about us. It was
hard getting to our feet; but soon a little strength came, and we ran
weakly together toward the village, for we did not know but the enraged
aurochs, which was floundering from the gully now, might do us harm.
It was a weary journey; and when we reached our homes and laid down on
our skin couches, there was dried blood upon us, and many blue spots
upon our skins. We cared no longer for the rope and the noose, and said
that we would no more seek to entrap the wild things with it; but that
was foolish. We spoke thus because we were sore, and our stomachs weak
within us. It was not in us to forget the noose!

Humpback came to me, and upon my hurts bound chewed wet roots and
leaves, of which she knew, and which cooled me, and very soon I was
myself again, for there were no broken bones, and we strong men minded
little such mauling as had come to Black Bow and me. But, as Humpback
was doing this, I saw a face at the door, and it was the face of Dark
Eyes, and I liked it not, for the red lips were drawn tightly, and
the teeth showed. I did not like it, nor the glint in her great eyes.
Then I looked up into the eyes of Humpback, and they were soft, and,
somehow, curing. I do not know how eyes could be curing; but so seemed
the eyes to me, and I liked them much. Long I thought then, and there
came to me a great resolve. Humpback should come to me in my cave, and
be my wife. Too long had I been alone.

The hump on her back lifted her little skin coat into a hummock, like
that on the back of the young aurochs, only that it stood out still
more clearly, and she was short, though she was not squat, as I had
once seen another humpbacked woman. She stooped hardly at all, and was
slender and quick of movement, and knew well how to do all the things
the mate of the hunter should do, and I knew that she would prove
obedient and faithful. It was true that the naked children of the glen,
and even some of the men and women, sometimes pointed at the hump, and
cried aloud, and laughed. But what could that matter? They would point
no longer when she came to my cave, for my cuff was heavy; and as for
the men--well, they knew my arm. So I called to Black Bow--for it is
not my way to wait when I have resolved--and we sat together upon our
favourite big flat stone, and debated long. Truly Black Bow was in a
stubborn mood that night.

I told him that I wanted Humpback for my mate, and that she must come
to my hut; and he rose up and roared that it should not be; that she it
was who did most of the labour, and that he would not part with her,
though we were friends, and fished and hunted together, and were ready
to fight each for the other, either against beast or man. His words did
not change me. Perhaps they made me but have a greater desire for the
woman who was so different from others, and my blood ran wild, and my
anger rose at being thwarted, and I not only cajoled, but threatened,
the man who had been my close companion. I told him that I would give
him the best of my furred skins, and that I would bring much meat to
his cave, and that, though we lived apart, we would be almost as one
family, and, finally, he consented, it may be because of the look
on my face, which he knew left him no choice; and why should there
be a fight between us, who had been friends so long? So that matter
was settled, and we thought of other things, and laughed and talked
once more of the noose and the taming. And of that talk came many
happenings, and great ones.

We had been made wiser because of our adventure with the aurochs bull,
and our memory of what followed the affair of Gnawbones and the wood
leopard. We saw that we must seek the capture only of the grass-eaters,
and among these the ones which were weak enough to be overcome in any
struggle. Only the smaller beasts could we wisely or safely take, or,
even better, the young of the greater ones. We agreed upon that. Then,
so interested in our fancy did we become, that we planned for another
trial. What came of that made life better for me.

There remained, even in this region, some of the little horses which
had formerly been abundant, as I had known from the scarred bones which
lay deep on the floors of caves in many hillsides. They were the bones
of horses eaten by the Cave men of the past, and bore the marks of
their strong teeth. Other bones there were, and in some of the caves
marks on the stone walls showed that they were rude pictures of these
same horses. And, as I have said, there were scattering herds of them
left; and, after long toil, we decided that we would capture a wild

Strong was the rope that Humpback plaited, and smooth and free was
the noose at the end; and then, with food in our skin pouches, we
went a day’s journey to where we knew the creatures we sought fed in
the valleys of the high hills. A night we slept there, and in the
afternoon of that day we saw a herd of the little horses feeding
slowly toward us down the narrow valley. Rich was the grass, but here
and there throughout the valley’s narrowest part great rocks had
fallen down from the heights, or had been rolled down in some ancient
flood; and behind one of these we crouched, having first laid the open
noose hidden in the grass some yards away. Should the herd feed near
the rock, surely some one horse would find its feet within the snare.
So we waited long, but nevertheless patiently, for this was a great

Slowly the herd came on, and finally approached so near us that we no
longer dared thrust forth our heads to note its progress. Finally its
leader, a brown stallion, passed at some distance, while the herd fed
scatteringly behind him. Then we saw, with delight, that, approaching
so that she would pass not far from the rock, was a mare with a
little colt beside her. Ah! could we but capture her! We remained as
motionless as the great rock beside us, our hands gripping the rope,
and our feet braced firmly. The slight wind blew toward us, and our
scent would not reach the horses, and so they fed on, unknowing. Nearer
and nearer came the mare, and at last she placed a fore foot fairly
within the noose. I jerked the rope fiercely, the noose came up and
closed upon the mare’s leg tightly and fairly just above the knee; and,
as she leaped, we clutched the rope with a shout, and leaned backward
with all our might.

The herd, led by the stallion, broke into flight, and was unseen in a
moment as it swept around a turn in the valley. Only the mare and her
frightened colt remained, but with the mare we had all we could do. She
was but a little horse, and we were two great men; but with her first
leap she pulled us from our feet, and it seemed that she might finally
get away.

The struggle was long, but at last the desperate creature wearied of
her leapings, and stood still, shuddering. We tried to approach her;
but she began leaping again in her wild terror, and so threw herself,
lying with her head down a little slope, and unable easily to regain
her feet. We rushed in upon her, and pressed her head to the ground,
and she was helpless. She lay very still, but all the time the young
colt stumbled about, calling and whinnying in a weak way. What should
we do?

The dogs we had often tied or led by a cord about the neck, so
fastening it that it would not slip and strangle them, and why could
we not do the same thing with the horse? So we unloosened the pinching
rope from her leg, and tied the other end of it about her neck, so
that it would not hurt her, but would not slip over her head, and then
helped her to her feet again. She struggled more and more, but she was
tired and heartbroken now, and at last we started, leading her to the
glen, the colt following us clumsily.

Great was the clamour, and wild the shouting, when, the next day,
Black Bow and I came into the glen, leading the little wild mare,
very wearied and tame now, and followed by the little colt, which
could hardly walk. There was much debate, and finally it was decided
to build a wall across a wide ravine which ran into the glen, not far
from the huts, and another wall across its foot, and there leave our
captives, where they would have abundant food and water, and, it might
be, thrive as well as over the broader plain. All this was done, and
the mare became fat and more tame, and the colt grew swiftly, and was
played with by the children. It was a great achievement, and one much
to the credit of Black Bow and me. But with the capture of these two
the enterprise did not end. There were others of the glen as wise and
daring as we, and these also finally caught wild horses with noosed
ropes, and at last we had in the pasture in the fenced valley a herd
which promised to become a larger one. We would have wild horses to
kill and eat in time of strait, we thought; but then a curious thing
happened, and because of it none of the wild horses was killed, and
they were held the greatest of our possessions.

The little colt grew amazingly, and was strong and a pet of the
children, who, as soon as it ceased to live upon its mother’s milk, fed
it daily upon the tender grasses, and made it as tame as one of the
dogs. Then one day I saw a sturdy youth sitting astride its back, while
another led the young animal about by its mane. It was an odd thing,
and it came to me that if the colt could thus carry the boy, its mother
could as easily carry a man, and I spoke of this to Black Bow, who was
delighted with the thought.

“We will ride upon the mare,” he declared.

And so we put a rope about the head of the mare, and Black Bow and I
leaped upon the mare’s back. Much she bounded about, and would have run
away, but she was only a small horse, albeit strong and sturdy, and
we clung to her easily. At last she tired, and then I took a shorter
rope, and tied it about her nose, bringing it around over her neck,
and fastening it again, so that I could pull either way, and again
got on her back, and found that I could guide and so drive her that
I could make her carry me whichever way I would. I took her outside
the pasture, and rode her far out upon the plain, and went farther and
faster than I could have gone alone.

Henceforth I took her on my hunting, and so reached better fields, and
brought my prey back upon her shoulders. It was a thing unthought of!
The horse had become a part of man! There could be no other tribe like
ours, until others, too, should have the horses, for soon Black Bow and
others of the men had horses, and tamed them, and we became a swiftly
moving and prosperous band, great in the hunting and surrounding and
killing of things which before had escaped us.

And more I see! Why may not men some time tame other creatures--even,
it may be, the great urus, the wild cattle, if we can catch them young,
or the wild hogs which feed upon the acorns and beechnuts, and the
flesh of which is so savoury in the nostrils, and so tender and sweet
between the teeth? We are the masters, and men shall become very great!

And ever still in my mind was Humpback, my wife, the tender-eyed; and
though I found game, and chased it, my thoughts were still upon her,
and when it chanced that I had shot a young bustard I turned the head
of the horse toward the village, for I wanted to look upon her again.
I had not thought that a man could so desire to be with some one else;
but I am glad that the feeling came to me, for sorely did Humpback need
me that day.

There is a little flat island in the great river some half a league
from the village, along the shores of which are many clams, but which
most of the women do not visit, because the current between the sand
strip and the shore is very swift and dangerous. To this island,
seeking clams, Humpback had told me she was going while I hunted, and I
did not forbid her, for to her the current is as nothing, as she swims
as strongly and silently as the beaver, and it came to me that the
taste of the clams would be good when I came back to the hut.

To the hut I went first, but Humpback was not there, and then, taking
only my bow, I went swiftly to where was the island in the river. Near
it upon the land was a little wood, through which I passed, and so came
out upon the long beach, with the island a short bow shot away. What I
saw then made me see red.

Upon the farther side of the narrow sand strip which made the island
lay Humpback flat upon her face, so that only the poor little hump upon
her back showed plainly, and from the hump stuck out an arrow. Upon the
shore stood Dark Eyes, with her bow and arrows--for she was sure with
her bow--fitting another arrow to the string. She had followed Humpback
to kill her, and had found her on the island with no weapon and at her
mercy. I could see it all. Humpback had thrown herself down at the
island’s farther and lower side, to avoid the arrows, only the hump
showing, and this the cruel markswoman had impaled at the first shot.
I strung my own bow in a moment, but roared aloud in my rage, which I
should not by any means have done. As the sound struck her ears, Dark
Eyes turned on the instant, then fled like the wind toward the forest
near her. I loosed an arrow vengefully, but she was already distant
when I shot, and I knew that, though the shaft seemed to pierce her
shoulder, it had done her no grievous harm.

I threw aside my bow, and plunged into the river. I was soon at the
side of Humpback, who rose to her feet as I came, and, despite her
hurt, smiled up in my face. Very brave was Humpback.

I turned her about, and looked at the arrow in the hump, and shouted
for joy. The head had passed through but a little beneath the skin,
and she who was my mate was almost unharmed. I drew the arrow sharply
forward by the head, and out, and there remained but a wound which
would soon be healed.

“I knew she would seek to kill me,” said Humpback.

But how she could know such a thing I could not understand. Woman can
tell many things of which men know nothing.

So I took Humpback with me to the hut, and helped her dress her wound,
and all was well again. I took my stone axe, and went into the cave
of Black Bow, but Dark Eyes was not there. I know not what would have
happened had I found her. I had promised Humpback that I would not kill
her, but I know not. Perhaps Dark Eyes had gone mad, and it was not our
custom to kill those who were mad and do not know. Yet was I afraid of
Dark Eyes.

And the season went, and all was good. The seeds were ripening in the
fenced places, we had captured more horses, and the hunting was good;
so the bellies of the little children were plump, and there was nothing
to fear from the winter, though the snow might come, and the game flee
to the southward, and the ice lie thick upon the fishing places. It was

Better than the acorns, better even than the dried berries, do I like
the nuts of the beech tree; and Humpback, my mate, knowing this, had
gone often to the great beech forest which lay far up the river, and
had brought a store of nuts for the winter. But still more I wanted;
and so one day, at the time when the seeds were ripe, and the nuts were
nearly fallen, I told her to gather yet more of the beechnuts, and went
with her, for sometimes there was good hunting there, the grouse and
bustard and the wild hogs coming to eat the nuts, which they liked as
well as I. The land was high and rolling, and there were pleasant open
spaces down into which the sun shone, making them warm, but sometimes
bringing out a little brown snake, the bite of which was deadly.

These spaces had always been avoided by Humpback, my wise mate; and as
I started to cross one of them she warned me, but I only laughed. I was
standing in the midst of the opening even as she called to me, and,
even as I laughed, I felt a sharp sting upon my ankle. I leaped aside,
and, looking downward, saw one of the terrible little snakes gliding
away through the thin grass. I struck blindly with my bow, and broke
its back, killing it; but what could that avail me? I yelled aloud in
fear, and ran to where Humpback, frightened, was standing beneath the
trees. I told her what had happened, and she shrieked and put her arms
about me. So we stood for a little time, and soon there came a numbness
in my ankle, where I had been bitten, and then in my leg, and soon the
deadness seemed to reach farther and farther all over me, and then came
a dimness as I drew closer still to Humpback, and then all knowing



Bees were humming in my head, and I did not like it. The humming hurt
me. I opened my eyes and passed my hand across my forehead and brought
it away with blood upon it. I began to understand now the humming of
the bees, for I remembered dimly having heard them hum in my head at
other times and of what hurt had been the cause. I must have struck
there heavily. Yet all seemed strange. I looked about me, and looked
upon what, assuredly, I had never seen before.

I was seated, I found, upon a thick cloak of bearskin, with my
back against a rock, apparently some distance up the slope of a
mountainside. This slope, which had a forest upon it here and there,
and areas of dense thickets, fell toward the south and west to a wide
lowland extending beyond the sight, and reaching, I thought, to the
great sea, for now, vaguely, there came a recollection of happenings
close at hand, all, as it seemed, of but an hour ago, or, it might be,
of yesterday. The sun was streaming upon me warmly and my strength was
coming to me slowly. I crawled to the side of the rock, where I could
have a view to the north and east, and saw what I had expected; the
ascent was steady though irregular and continued to a great height, the
forests gradually disappearing, while above, in the far distance, rose
bald ranges. All this I saw, and it had to me some slight familiarity,
as if I had looked upon it before for a little time. My effort in
moving had been a little too great for me, and I crept back to my
couch, where I rested with closed eyes. I would soon be myself again.
Already the bees were humming in my head less noisily.

I even slept for a time, and when I awoke I felt stronger. I raised
myself against the rock and looked more closely upon what was near me.
There were objects which for a little time I wondered at, but which, in
the end, aided my memory and, though for a time but partially, brought
back my understanding.

Almost within my reach lay a bow and a stone axe and spear. They were
faultless, and I laughed aloud when I saw them. They were wonderful
weapons. The bow especially was surprising. It was of some dark wood
such as I could not then remember to have seen before, and, though
shaped properly and with perfect symmetry, was so massive that it
seemed to me for the moment that only the arms of the great brown bear
might bend it. Unconsciously, I looked at my own arm and felt myself
comprehending a little more. Dressed in bearskin I was, but arms and
legs were bare, and it seemed to me that I was thewed like a bull of
the aurochs herd. Could that mighty weapon be my own bow? Oddly enough,
the powerful thing was strung, and that troubled me. A bow, weak or
strong, should not be left to strain itself, and surely such a good
bow as this should not be so neglected. It must have been dropped as
it was in the midst of a fight, but it was not good for it to lie thus
tautened, and all my instinct was to somehow release the weapon from
its strain. My strength, which had gone from me because of my hurt, was
fast returning now, and I reached out and grasped the thing which must
be so good in the hands of hunter or fighting man who had the power to
use it. I struggled to my feet and, with my knee upon the middle of
the bow and what was a great wrenching effort, managed to unstring it.
There was no doubt about it! The bow was surely mine! If, with only
a part of my strength, I could thus bend it, surely when all myself
I could draw an arrow to the head upon the mighty thing. What arrows
they were, too--one lying upon the ground beside me and others in a
great skin quiver, straight-shafted and with spearlike flint heads keen
of edge and polished so smoothly that they might, sent from that bow,
pass fairly through the body of wolf or man or reach the heart of bear
or urus. The axe and spear, too, were as fine in their way as was the
bow, and their heads were as keen of edge and smoothly finished as were
those of the arrows. There showed dried blood upon the edge of each, as
also, I found, upon the flint knife in my belt, hafted into the ribbed
part of a stag’s horn, and a weapon as perfect as the others. Surely I
was well equipped for facing beast or man!

As my strength came so also did a better perception and a sudden
compelling desire to learn who I was and where. I rose to my feet again
and walked about a little, albeit somewhat unsteadily at first. Then
what was lying beside a clump of bushes at a little distance attracted
my attention, and I moved toward it. Two dead men were sprawled out
there, one with his head crushed in, the other with an arrow driven
through his body so fiercely that its head stood forth. I drew out the
arrow, though it came hardly, and saw that it must be one of mine, a
mate to the one lying beside the rock and to those in the quiver. The
crushed head of the other body must also be my handiwork, for it was
cloven downward to between the eyes, and strong must have been the arm
and heavy the axe to shear through bone so deeply.

I considered the dead men more carefully. They were not men, one would
think, to greatly fear. Their arms and legs were not strong-muscled and
their faces were flat and ugly. Each was clad in a single garment of
goatskin, belted about the middle, and carrying a pouch, together with
a quiver at the hip. A broken spear lay beside one of the men, its head
unpolished and its size but puny compared with that which I now knew to
be mine. I wondered from what strange tribe these men had come?

But where was I? Who was I? The puzzle grew upon me. Surely I had seen
this land before, though it seemed to me I had never known it well.
I could have seen it only for a little time. Suddenly I turned. From
behind a huge group of rocks at a little distance, but farther up the
slope, rose the sound of voices, and it came to me that I had heard
those same voices before, though I could not remember where. The voice
of Black Bow was not among them. Then I thought of bushes and the
deadly little snakes, but here was no such country. I was lost again.

The blood was pulsing through my veins now; the buzzing of the bees in
my head had ceased entirely and I could walk more strongly and freely.
I put on my quiver with its few remaining arrows, thrust my axe into
my belt, restrung my bow, and with it in one hand and my spear in
the other, went toward the rocks from behind which came the hoarse
but, somehow, not unfamiliar voices. I need not have made ready for
fight. As I turned at the end of the rocks and came in sight of those
behind it there rose a shout which was not one of threatening, but
rather of rude welcome. The sight astonished me. There were at least
a hundred men there, some lying down, some wandering about or seated
upon the rocks, while a group of them, those whose voices I had heard,
were gathered together engaged in some debate. All were armed as I
was and clad in nearly the same manner. As I looked upon their faces
recollection came upon me swiftly. They were my comrades; they were
of the wanderers and raiders, my own restless, often marauding tribe,
who had come from afar, facing perils all unknown, of fighting men
or fighting beast, but led on ever by an instinct for plundering and
adventure. We knew, as yet, no other tribe like ours or one of which we
were afraid. They were brawny men, these brother tribesmen, but among
them all was none to boast a front so bull-like nor of such brawn and
strength as mine. They closed about me with hoarse shouts and much

“We left you by the rock that you might sleep a little and be strong
again,” said one to me. It was Old Horn, our leader, who spoke, a man
huge and gray-headed and gray-bearded and rough of way and to whom I
was as his right hand in the fighting or the hunting.

“We knew that you were but stunned. No Goatskin may split such a head
as yours!”

I understood now; we had fought again with the Goatskins, as we called
them, from lack of any other name, and because they were clad in the
skins of goats, which creatures they must have grown and bred. They
were a tribe of the wide valley lying between the mountains and the
great sea, and they had assailed us promptly when we first entered
their borders, only a few days before the latest fight. They could
not match us and we slew many of them and drove them back. We had not
thought they would attack us again, and so had been somewhat careless
and were unprepared when they came upon us in the early morning. We had
beaten them back again only after a fierce struggle in which scores
of them had been slain as before. It was in the midst of the fight
that I had gone down under the blow delivered by a Goatskin who had
come upon me from behind and who was speared a moment later by one of
my companions. My comrades had seen that I was but stunned and so had
brought my cloak after the fight was over and left me lying upon it by
the rock, that I might recover in the warmth of the sun. Little knew we
of further help than this to the wounded in battle. They had done for
me the best they knew, and it was enough.

I had no trouble in remembering all now, of who we were and of our
adventures and our plans. Far had we fared from the shores of what
was called the Black Sea to the northwest, though why such name
had been given it I could never understand, for its waters were a
glittering blue, a blue like that of the sky, only a little deeper. Our
entire tribe had come to the sea from a country still farther to the
northwest, just as our great-grandfathers, so the elder men told us,
had come from a region many hundreds of leagues to the westward, where
was the mighty ocean. Our own tribe had come to the southern shores of
the Black Sea, seeking what might be better hunting and seeding grounds
and, assuredly, a warmer and more pleasant climate. Not that it was
very cold where the stream, later called the Danube, had its source
far, far to the north and west, and following the banks of which we had
taken our way, but our tribe was ever restless and followed its own
fancies as to its abode. So we had wandered until we reached the sea
and had drifted southward along its shores until we found its southern
shore, crossing a deep but narrow strait which we thought must connect
it with another larger sea, which we learned from tribes we had met lay
still farther to the south. This strait we had crossed easily in boats
we made and then were fairly on the southern shore of this sea called
Black. Here was our place; here should our village be! The climate was
warm, there were broad seeding grounds and much game in the forests
and on the plains. Here we established ourselves, and the women sowed
and reaped and there was much fishing, and the men hunted or went on
expeditions of venture, for we were sometimes raiders.

There was excitement in the hunting. The huge and dangerous beasts of
the past of which the old men prattled in the legends they related
were now gone, but in this new land to which this vanguard of our race
had come were others which did not exist in the region from which we
had come, and which we soon learned to regard with caution. There was
a monster, maned yellow beast called the lion, as large almost as
the brown bear we feared in the country from which we had come, and
there were leopards and bears of a kind new to us, and other beasts
of prey not to be faced wisely single-handed. But there were deer in
abundance, and the wild ox, the urus, and the aurochs, and we did not
lack for meat. From such a village in such a region had come our party
which had battled with the Goatskins.

We were but warriors, dangerous raiders, perhaps the first among the
Cave and Hut men, and this long march of ours was the greatest we had
ever undertaken. Much we longed now for the women and the cakes made
from the crushed grain, for now we must subsist on flesh alone, and
such nuts and fruits as we might find upon our way, but we sought more
plunder before returning. Fine skins we had taken and many trinkets
such as women delight in, and such as were sometimes worn by the
fighting men, but nowhere had we taken prizes of fine axes or spears or
arrow-heads, for nowhere had we found weapons to compare with our own.
We had met no force to equal us in any village we had found, and the
word of our advance must have travelled fast and far, for many places
where men lived, some in caves and some in huts of bark, we found
abandoned, the people having fled into hiding in the forests. Only
these puny creatures of the valley before us had assailed us fairly,
relying upon their numbers, which were great. Weak as they were, they
had beset us somewhat sorely and in the two fights ten of us had been
killed and many others hurt. But we had killed scores of the Goatskins
and we did not think they would dare to face us again. After a little
rest we were to go down into the valley and ravage it, and then, with
what we might find worth taking, we would return to our own people by
the sea and have again the women and the grain cakes. We were joyous
and boisterous of mood that day, feasting upon venison and lying idly
about where the sun shone upon the mountainside. As for me, my strength
had all returned.

We slept well that night, wrapped in our coats of bearskin, while
sentinels watched lest the Goatskins, despite their losses, might come
upon us suddenly, and woke to a morning as bright as I had ever seen.
The sun blazed fiercely down and by noontime it became so hot that we
sought the shade of the rocks, where we lay panting. There had been a
little wind in the morning, but this had died away and the leaves upon
the bushes did not move. All the world was still as the dead, and, as
the sun dropped toward the west, it seemed to change from golden to
almost red. The air became strangely heavy and was hard to breathe. The
sky was clear, save where, far to the south and west, a cloud hung low
on the horizon. It was lighted from above; but low down, close to what
were the waters of the sea, there ran along it a strip of darkness.
All was strange and it affected our minds, though very great must be
the real danger to alarm such reckless men as we. We had never felt
such curious dread before, and became the more fearful because we could
not tell the reason of it to ourselves. Then followed what was more
alarming. There came a tremor to the ground beneath our feet, as if
it were alive, then suddenly it heaved and rocked. Three times this
happened swiftly, as we leaped for our weapons and other gear and ran
together out into a great open space, to await whatever might come to
us, and it was well that we did so! The whole earth suddenly lifted and
sank again and the huge rocks beside which we had rested and those
above them were heaved upward from their beds and went crashing down
the slope of the mountainside, though we escaped them all. At the same
time, from the westward, came the sound of such bursting explosion and
such thundering and appalling roar as surely man had never heard before!

The world above was changing. In a moment, as it seemed, the white
cloud in the sky low down to the westward had climbed halfway up the
heavens, shining gloriously at its crest, while from its base, climbing
even more swiftly and eating up the whiteness as some monster might
devour its prey, the black cloud followed. Upward it rushed until
it hid the sun, and deep gloom followed the brightness. There came
another awful roar to the westward and then another, and then the
rocking of the earth grew less. Still the black cloud kept towering and
climbing until it overhung us and still rushed on until all the sky was
blotted out and we were left in almost utter darkness. Then came what
threatened us with sudden death!

The heavy air had been given a new quality, a surcharge of sulphurous
fumes in which we gasped for life, hiding our heads in our skin cloaks.
For some time this lasted, but finally there came some abatement to the
suffocation and we breathed more freely.

The ominous darkness continued, but, though we could not see, we knew
that something was happening all around us. There were fearsome cries
and a thousand strange sounds which were frightening because we could
not understand them. Then came a sudden opening in the gray pall above
us--caused, it may be, by some whirlwind of the sky--and the sunlight
streamed down for a few moments. We saw now whence came the sounds!

The world seemed full of living things fleeing in wild terror before
approaching evil. The earth was crowded with the desperate fugitives;
the sky above was filled with thousands of them. Showing against the
briefly lightened clouds, screaming their different cries, were an
innumerable host of seafowl sweeping over us in whirling flight, and,
as they neared the mountain, streaming away by some common instinct in
a great mass toward the northwest, seeking, it might be, the shores
of the sea from which we had come. There were vultures and eagles
among them, but these seemed to be flying straight ahead toward the
mountain-tops. It was a marvellous and dreadful flight.

But strange, impressive and alarming as was the flight of the birds,
it was nothing to what was happening on the earth beneath. Here was
an exhibition of mortal terror close at hand. There was no limit to
it. All the beasts of the region, great and small, were coming toward
us in a wild and senseless tide. A great stag, with his does, swept
by us like the wind, and next a thundering urus; then, strangest of
all, came four lions together in long leaps--the country was full of
them--straight toward us and regarding us not at all! Over the heads
of some of us they leaped and were gone in a moment. It was this
happening, I think, which most affected us and gave us a greater sense
of fear for ourselves. And so the terrible flight continued. Leopards,
wild-cats, all the beasts of prey, and all the harmless animals, they
came in a rushing army, whole herds of deer and flocks of goats, and
all the grazing things, and the little creatures of the wood and
plain. But among all this horde of fugitives there were no men. Where
were the Goatskins? I could not understand it, until I remembered that,
perhaps a league to the south of us, there rose in the plain a solitary
high mountain. To this must have fled such of the tribe as perceived
their danger in time. It was a cone-shaped mountain with no great area
at its summit. What scenes, I thought, must be there now!

And then, even while the sun still shone through the cloud-rift, came
something which made this flight of bird and beast as nothing, for
swift death seemed certain for us. From the south came such a roar of
waters as never could have been heard before or since, a roar which did
not cease and but grew louder and more full of dreadful menace every
moment. Then we saw! Looming almost mountain high, raging white at its
top, a mountainous wave reaching across the whole valley and appearing
certain to engulf us! It came toweringly and roaringly. It broke upon
the mountainside with such stunning thunder as I may not describe, and
swept upward, carrying back with its terrific force even some of the
rocks the earthquake had cast downward.

Then, after a few moments, the waters receded somewhat, but not
greatly, for another vast wave loomed in the far distance. And then,
as suddenly as it had come, the opening in the sky was closed, and we
were again in darkness. But no longer about us was the sound of fleeing

We had sped upward when we saw the coming of the monster wave, but it
did not quite reach, even with its surging wash, the spot where we
had been, for we were well up the mountain, and now we returned and
gathered together all we had and carried it a long way higher. Then
came the thundering of wave after wave against the mountainside, but
none so terrifying as the first, and, finally, these ceased and we
concluded they were done; there was only the roaring and washing of
a turbulent sea upon the steep and rocky shore. Leaving a few men on
guard to rouse us if need be we lay down and tried to sleep. Rain fell
in torrents, but to us, hardened as we were, that was nothing. It was
what had come with the dreadful day that had shaken all of us. Fearless
or dull and stupid must have been the man among us who slept well that

Morning came, but with it little of the light of day, though, as
our eyes became accustomed to the gloom, we could make out objects
indistinctly. The rain continued to fall in a torrent, and this made
seeing things still more difficult. All was nearly still on land;
there was no sound save that of the lashing waters of the new sea and
the splashing of the rain. I stumbled down to the shore, as commanded
by Old Horn, and looked about me as well as I could. There was little
to see or learn except that the waters had risen steadily during the
night. There were bodies of drowned creatures left by the first great
wave, lying about here and there, and that was all. The day passed in
dread discomfort.

The next morning showed the water still rising, while there was no
abatement of the tremendous rain, and so with the day succeeding.
The fearful downpour continued and the waters still rose. Then came
something like a panic among men as fearless as any upon earth. The
dark waters beneath which lay such multitudes of drowned, of man and
beast, came ever lapping upward hungrily toward us, and none could tell
when the rising would cease. How we longed for boats, we who could
handle boats so well! Then, in our desperation, we would make rafts!
The work was begun at once. Driftwood tossed up by the great tidal wave
was dragged together, dead trunks lying further up the mountainside
were hacked into lengths and bound side by side with withes and
strips of skin, and the work went forward feverishly. We had made
rafts before. It was good for us, this work with its faint promise,
distracting our minds somewhat from the perils we were in.

As for myself I was but a poor workman that day, despite my strength.
All appeared so dismal and so hopeless. The whole world seemed like a
bad dream and I had many thoughts such as had never come to me before.
No longer did I care what might be our plunder from this raiding
journey of the band into unknown regions. I thought of the clean
sandy beaches and the pleasant huts by the distant great sea and of
the people we had left there, and a great desire came upon me to be
with them again. Would the waters never cease rising until even the
mountain was overwhelmed and we would have no further refuge and must
die strangling at its top? It seemed to me then as if it might be so,
though of course the thought was foolish. Then there came before my
eyes the face of a girl with a leaf of scarlet in her hair. The face
would not go away from me, the face of Red Leaf, as she had come to be
called, because in the autumn, when the colours of the leaves changed,
she always gathered many of the brightest and kept them in a skin
bag in the hut of her father and mother and always wore one braided
somewhere in her hair, which was as black as the wing of the raven or
the black panther of the woods, and against which the scarlet ever
shone out brightly.

She was not tall, this girl of my tribe, not like many of the others,
great-limbed and full-bosomed and strong of arm in pulling at the nets
we had learned to make from the tough inner bark of certain trees and
with which we caught abundance of the seashore fishes, nor was she
as deft at the trapping of small things, or in the gathering of nuts
and fruits, and, surely, she was not a fitting mate for such a strong
fighting man as I, but--I could not help it--she of the red leaf had
long been more to me than any other of the young women of my clan. Men
are but foolish with women and unreasoning as the queer brown bird
which lines its nest with glittering things. But she always smiled,
this Red Leaf, and she was so small and slender and had such eyes,
asking so much and telling so much, that the fancy ever grew upon me
that I wanted her in a hut of my own that I might but play with her and
bring her warm furs and feed her well. What need had I, Scar, of one
of the great woman creatures of my tribe save for the cooking and the
making of skin garments? And for these things Red Leaf would suffice,
for, within the hut, though laughing, she was most diligent. It was odd
that my heart should be bigger within me for her than for the others,
yet it may be that it was best. So have I seen the grisly leader of the
wolf pack have ever at his side in the running some light-hued, slender
she wolf, the slightest of the yelping lot. That I cannot understand; I
know but that the only face of woman I saw upon the mountainside was
the face of Red Leaf. But even this face I saw not all the time, for
there were the waters and we must needs look to ourselves.

Night found the rafts well advanced in the building and we all felt
more hopeful. When morning came it seemed more like a real daybreak.
I can hardly describe it, but there was an indefinable something, a
feeling in the air as if a change had come, a change for the better,
though the rain still fell in floods. Work was eagerly resumed, and as
I had been told to do, I went down the mountain to the shore of the
sea, to note whatever the rise might be and went to a great rock where
had been the water’s limit yesterday, the waves barely washing its
base. I could not believe my eyes! the waters were receding! Between
the rock and the waves was now a space of yards!

I bounded up the mountainside to where the band were at work upon the
rafts, and yelled out what I had seen. There was a joyous answering
roar, the stone axes, the thongs and withes, all things in use, were
cast aside, and the band streamed down together to the shore to assure
themselves that I was not mistaken. Scarcely had we regained the camp
when came another heartening thing. The rain, which had fallen in
such torrents unceasingly for days and nights, began to slacken and
in a little time had ceased entirely. The vast leaden pall which had
hung over the world began to lighten somewhat, as well, and again we
felt that there was a sun beyond it. It was a new world, and to us a
glorious one!

We could see things far away again, and we looked for the lone mountain
to the south where must be huddled what few might remain alive of the
Goatskins. It was nearly submerged. Its peak stood out merely a little
dot on the wide expanse of water. Those clustered upon it must be
assured that they were the only human beings left alive. How the legend
of destruction of all other mankind would go down among them! How their
children and their children’s children would transmit the story, and
how the old men of many scores of centuries later would repeat it to
the youth! How it would pass in the fullness of time, to generations
more civilized, how the Chaldean priests would make of it a story of
supernatural significance, to be enlarged by those teachings in the
cities of clustered splendour where the Tigris and Euphrates join,
and how, finally, it would be accepted and adapted by the prophets of
a great tribe of shepherd kings, whose petty battles would, perhaps,
become a credited part of the world’s history. How, too, might it
become part of a mighty faith--a faith encompassing the world!

There was a great blasted tree, not very high but with enormous
outspreading limbs extending dead and bare, which stood not far from
the utmost limit of the waters, and which had become strangely peopled
on the day of the earthquake and first tidal wave, as I had noticed
dimly on my visits to the shore. Tired in their flight or seeking
the tree but as a place of refuge, creatures of earth and air had
peopled it and even sought shelter at its base, unmoving and stupefied
throughout the days and nights of ceaseless rain and darkness. There
stood together a stag and a great brown bear each mindless of the
other. Upon the huge outspreading lower limbs crouched half a dozen
more of the leopard cats of the region and as many of the sort of
smaller bears which climb, and, above them scores of the lesser
climbing things, while above them still perched wearied birds of many
kinds, from those of the woods and fields to vultures and croaking
ravens. Bats from the flooded caves hung dangling by hundreds from the
smaller branches. It was a black dream of a tree, a tree of life in
death. And now, it suddenly awoke to life! The stag raised its head
snortingly and went leaping up the mountain, and the bear followed him
shufflingly, followed in turn by all the other animals. The birds took
flight; and I watched this departure gladly, for it seemed a proof that
our sufferings were really ended. The birds and beasts know many things
unknown to man.

But whence had come this awful catastrophe which had brought such
tremendous death and changed a part of the face of the earth? Much I
thought upon it. Had the fearful earthquake, such as never was before,
but rent apart the mountain chain between the lower inland sea and the
great ocean to the westward and so let in the mighty rush of water,
raising the level of the sea to that of the ocean itself, the ocean no
man had ever passed and the awful limit of which no man could tell?
This seemed to me the reason of all that had come, but who could tell
assuredly? The water kept at an even level now. It had become as it
would stay. The land of the Goatskins lay deep beneath its waters, and
life in this part of the world must subsist only upon the higher plains
to the south and east, the curtailed land of future Palestine.

The gray of the sky became lighter, the vast curtain parted into
floating clouds, and the radiance of the sun burst upon the world
again. But upon what a scene that radiance fell!

The sea was giving up its dead, and upon its surface everywhere their
bloated bodies rocked and swung. There was not a beast of all the
region whose carcass was not a part of the water’s ghastly burden, nor
were there the bodies of beasts alone! The Goatskins, hundreds of them,
were coming to us again! But the horror of it all was not in the sight
of the bodies alone. Thousands of ravens and vultures had come to the
tremendous feast and the air was vibrant with the beating of the wings
of myriads more still flocking from all directions save that of the sea
itself. They were riding on the bodies and tearing at them, gorging
themselves. The clamour and their croaking drowned out all other
sounds. Close to the shore where I stood watching, a huge vulture rode
on the body of a man, a Goatskin, devouring at its leisure, and so the
horrible scene extended everywhere. It was a carnival of unclean birds!

The sight before us was one not long to be endured, even by men of
such hardihood as made up our wandering band. The limbs of the lately
beast and bird burdened tree were now bare and white, and as its
inhabitants had fled, so would we from this dread region. We gathered
our belongings together as swiftly as we might and took up our long
march, eager to leave such land of death and desolation.

Easily did we live as to food, for the forests teemed with game because
of the multitude of creatures driven from the valley. There were
dangers, too. I have said that it was a region of lions. Now we came
upon them everywhere, restless and savage, so that none of us wandered
far from the band alone. Yet one day, near nightfall, just after we
had encamped at the foot of a great barren boulder-strewn slope, I
ventured up among the rocks alone. Surely there could be no lions
there. Then, just as I turned about a huge boulder, I came upon a great
maned monster face to face! I could not fly, for should I attempt it,
I knew he would be upon me in an instant. There was nothing left to me
but to face him as I might. I could crouch with the butt of my spear
planted in the ground and await the spring of the monster. He crept a
little nearer, his eyes blazing like coals, and his body held close to
the ground taut as the string of a bow. He was within three yards of
me now. I braced myself for the coming shock, hopeless, indeed, but
desperately resolved to make all of my one slight chance. Fear seemed
to have left me. I counted myself as already dead, and I was filled
with a great rage. Could I hold the spear so firmly and move it with
even eye so well that it would impale him at the climax of his leap,
his own weight doing all the work of a mighty thrust? Calm, as fiercely
strained as the lion himself, I was now. Closer to the ground he
crouched, and then, with a hideous roar, he sprang.

I did not fail myself! Like a rock I knelt; braced and with certain
eye I aimed the spear between the huge forelegs and on the broad tawny
breast, even in that fraction of a moment when the beast was in the air
almost above me. Fairly in the breast the spear-head struck and, with
a roar of beastly suffering, the lion, impaled, came down upon me. I
was borne to earth and, even as he turned in his agony, a stroke from
his mighty paw crushed my right arm at the elbow, the bones cracking
sickeningly. Then his great jaws sought my throat to tear it. Never
again should I gaze across our Northern Sea; never again should I look
upon the face of the slender Red Leaf.



Great rollers were coming in upon what must be a rugged beach, for
their clamour was appalling. Such roaring, thunderous sound of water
I did not remember to have heard before, and I wondered where I was.
It was dark where I lay upon what seemed a mass of weed in a hut-like
place, having at the side a low door reminding one of the entrance to a
burrow of some animal. It was nearing morning now, for it began slowly
to grow lighter and I could distinguish my surroundings better. There
was little to consider, though upon one side of the strange place lay
what I knew to be a stone axe such as I had carried once, and there
were other things which might be weapons, but the use of some of which
I could not then understand. I knew well that I could not be quite
myself, else I would remember more. I was dazed as I had seen wild
beasts sometimes become when great rocks had been rolled down from
heights above and some had been struck upon the head and wandered about
unknowingly and helplessly. Only I had no pain. I felt strong, and I
was hungry.

I crawled out through the low doorway and looked about me. There
was much to see. In the east was the glow of the rising sun, its
first clear rays making glitter the crests of the rollers which were
tumbling and roaring in over reefs and boulders, and climbing far
up a long sandy beach. There had been a storm. The beach, which was
a wide one, extended from the shore backward to nearly the edge of
a dense forest, and along this edge rose a great line of huts from
some of which smoke was arising. The huts were rude affairs, built
of driftwood and brush and resembling generally the one I had just
emerged from, which stood at the southern end of the long line. There
was something more. Directly in front of the line of huts, and parallel
with them, rose a mound of regular height almost equalling that of the
huts themselves and cutting off the view of the sea save where wide
passages led through it here and there. It was the view of this mound
which brought me to my senses, for, as I now knew, I had been dazed
only by a dream, a dream of warm winds and hunting. All that was gone
now, and I knew that I was but looking upon the huts inhabited by my
own people, the shell-fish eaters, and that the vast mound extending
before them, and which exhaled a mighty odour, was but the refuse of
our eating. The “Kitchen-middens,” were such mounds as these to be
called by far distant future peoples. Not alone were shells in the
mound, but the bones of countless birds and beasts and fish, for we
were hunters and fishermen as well as plunderers of the enormous beds
of oysters and mussels and cockles and other shell-fish, and of the
toothsome sea-snails in the shallow waters. It was to our disadvantage,
though we did not know it, that such an abundance of sea food lay at
our very doors, for so we had become more slothful and indifferent and
were making no advancement. This I knew because when any accretions
to our numbers on our peninsula crossed the narrow strait we called
the Skaw, between us and the mainland, they bore better weapons than
we and knew more of many things. We remained as we had been when our
first ancestors crossed from the lands beyond the Kattegat--the sea
bay connected at its ends with those seas the North and Baltic--and
remained upon this jutland because of the abundant shell-beds they

Better for us had we all been hunters and far rangers. It was a land
for it, this Jutland. Wonderful flint, the finest for spear and
arrow-heads and knives, abounded everywhere, and game was plentiful.
What quarry for skilled hunters there was in those great forests of
pine, at this time yielding fast to other forests of beech and oak, and
on the grassy plains of the interior! There were wandering herds of
reindeer and white elk and the urus and red deer; there were bears and
wolves and lynx and wild boars and a host of the smaller things. In the
streams were many beaver; in the lakes were swan and geese and lesser
waterfowl, and in the marshes millions of woodcock and other birds as
succulent. But of all this spoil of bird and beast we took slight toll
because of our ease of living, though there were hunters among us and
men who were not lacking in courage. Some of the more hardy had crossed
the peninsula to the western shore against which rolled the sea. It
was told that one adventurer had even put forth to the northward in
his boat and had been sucked down into the great maelstrom there which
roars by Varo Island.

None remained upon this shore, because the winds were chill and there
were no beds of shell-fish to make the living easier. On our own side,
it is true, the winters were cold, but some of the game remained in the
forest, there was still the fishing, through the ice or from the boats
far out, and we had always much provided of dried meat and fish, and
were never in danger of absolute starvation. We were as listless as the
seals, which minded not the seasons.

At work in the shell beds we were indeed expert, either in the digging
at low tide or in the dredging from boats with rakes made of wood with
teeth of stag’s horn, and at the fishing, as well, we were all skilful.
The big fish were no safer from us than were the smaller ones. Those
which were accustomed to come to the surface of the water we hunted
with javelins barbed with bone. To the end of the javelin’s shaft would
be attached a strong cord at the end of which was fastened securely an
inflated bladder. The javelin we could throw to a long distance and
with the greatest surety, and the fishing with it was most successful.
The impaled fish might dive deeply, but the wind-filled bladder
would pull upward and, as the fish neared the surface, reveal his
whereabouts; another javelin cast into him would make his diving still
more difficult until, at last, he became exhausted and, so, easily
speared. Sometimes not the javelin, but the bow, would be used in this
sort of fishing. There were the leister or fish trap, too, which was of
service and of course, and, chiefly, the barbed bone hooks we used upon
our lines. We were an indolent people, we of the kitchen middens, yet
we might have been still more so had there been caves along the shore
such as we knew were inhabited by those who lived in other regions,
but there were no such natural homes to occupy, and we must build our
own shelters against wild beasts and winter’s cold. This was by no
means difficult, for driftwood and the wood of the forest were at our
hands, and our homes were but rude ones, varying in size according to
the number in the family, some built up squarely, but most of them not
unlike my own in shape. In summer they were not uncomfortable, and in
winter they were covered with sods or earth, and were kept warmer by
a skin across the entrance and the burning of beech sticks in shells
filled with oil from the seal or certain fish. Sometimes in winter,
too, blocks of ice would be built up into an enclosure of the huts,
keeping out the cold as well as could anything else. Fuel of all kinds
was about us, but we paid little attention to our fires in any weather.
We had become hardened to the climate.

To the south our land was endless, so far as we could tell, but we knew
its boundaries well to the north and east and west. To the west were
the blending seas; the Kattegat lay east of us, with no great island in
sight, but with many little islets along the shore. Upon these islets
a few of our people lived since the shell beds were beside and among
them, and there was gained an added degree of safety from any sudden
danger. It was easy to row to the nearby shore for hunting or for any
other purpose.

Toward the north our peninsula gradually lessened in width until it
ended in the Skagen Rock. Between us and the rock was a weary distance,
along which, not near together, but wherever the shell beds were, lived
other clans of our race, with whom we had slight dealing.

Of laws or government we had little, though we usually recognized a
sort of chief, a man not regularly elected but coming to the place
by a sort of general admission, because of his own good qualities,
or his shrewdness. To old Rolf, our leader, I was the main support
and aid in most of what he sought to accomplish, first because I was
the strongest of our clan and the greatest ranger of the forest and
most careless of risk, and more, it may be, since I was a silent man,
unmated and unlikely to be fooled or thwarted. We were friends, and,
after a fashion, as I have said, he relied upon me much. We did not
need laws greatly, even such as were observed by the more savage tribes
of which we had heard. In such ease did we live that there was no
battling for food or clothing and, if sometimes there was rivalry for
the possession of a woman, she was left to decide the matter herself,
and it was rarely that the loser complained when he thus had two
against him. We were not all of an aggressive ancestry, as was plain,
though, on occasion, we could show courage. We were bold either in or
upon the water--I have seen a man kill a shark with a flint knife, and
have seen another dive many times in treacherous eddies to bring upward
and to life again one which had gone down stunned from a blow--but
very rarely were there affrays, and few cared to face the dangerous
forest creatures; I alone rejoiced in that. It may be that I was of a
different breed from my companions, that there was a strain in me of
some far back marauder of the region from which our tribe had come. Of
that I cannot tell; I only know that I liked the forest better than the
water, and the hunting better than the fishing. Much was I relied upon
for meat and skins, for which I received oysters and fish and oil and
many other things I needed, such as weapons of flint and whatever else
I lacked in my living. Always I hunted alone.

Not much did most of the shell-fish people think. Each day sufficed for
itself, though a little they regarded the strange things that no man
may understand. Our dead, we knew, would not come back to us, yet we
had regard for the bodies, and buried them deeply beneath great heaps
of stones in a rocky place not far from the village. We did not want
wolves to get them, and there was, besides, another feeling which I
cannot explain. One of the old men said that the dead would come back
after many years, but none of us believed him. If it were so, why did
not those who died very long ago appear? And why should we die at all?
But upon these matters we did not think much. We ate and slept.

Dull, though, as were usually the people of the clan, the strange and
mysterious would sometimes arouse as it alarmed them. There was one
time when even the bravest of the hunters feared to venture deeply
into the forest at night, especially toward a little lake to the west
where the urus were accustomed to feed and beside which, on the north,
was a stretch of forest with dim winding paths beneath the shadow of
its dense foliage and many pools fringed with the rich grass the urus
liked. Concerning this forest strange tales began to go about in the
clan. There was a ghostlike monster there--perhaps the thing that made
the wind bring pestilence and death as it had once in the past--a great
white shape that moved about in the dark alleys of the forest, and
which was not a thing to be wisely faced by man. More than one of the
hunters declared he had seen the white thing, and the people dreaded
to enter the woods in search of fruit or nuts and roots. Over all this
I puzzled much. What could the white thing be? After much persuasion, I
induced Leuk, one of the hunters, to go with me at night to learn, if
we might, what was the mystery. It was with difficulty that I secured
his company, but, in truth, I did not greatly care to go alone. There
are many things of which we do not know. It was somewhat of a dark
night on which we went, but I knew that the moon would rise in time and
that we could see about us more distinctly. It did not take us long to
reach the lake, and there we waited, hidden in a thicket by its shore.

From the forest near us came many sounds. There were the “pad-padding”
along of the smaller hunting creatures, calls of the night birds and
sometimes the snarl of the prowling wood-cat, but above these and
continuous was another noise, one of crashing of branches in the
thickets as some large body passed through them, and the thud of
ponderous feet and frequent husky gruntings. I knew that the urus were
feeding in the glades.

Very near us was an opening, or rather a sort of indentation, in the
forest, and across this in the dimness we could see dark shadows
passing, though we could not distinguish what they were. After a time
these moving shadows disappeared. And then, all at once, loomed up a
great white shape, passing, without a sound it seemed, across the glade!

Leuk sank shudderingly to the ground, and I, with a feeling in my belly
and throat I did not like, stood gazing at where the ghostly thing had
disappeared. We did not speak; we but waited in wonder and, it may be,
with not a little apprehension; and as we thus waited the moon rose,
and through the open space to the eastward poured her light upon the
lake and its surroundings, making all nearly light as day. And then,
almost at the moment, emerged with stately tread from the forest into
the glade again, a majestic snow-white urus!

Our fear was gone, but it was succeeded by a great astonishment. Who
had ever before seen the marvel of a white urus? I had, it is true,
seen a white crow, and once a snow-white beaver, and knew that such
things happened, but such freak of what makes living things was a
wonder on such a scale. However, the mystery was solved and the fear
which was undefined departed from the clan, though it was long before
the more timid lingered much about the pleasant lake. Greatly did I
desire the skin of the white urus, but he had drifted away with his
companions and I never saw him again. The needless scare had taught the
people no lesson. They had still the dread of the mysterious.

So passed the inactive and indifferent days, but not for long with me.

There came the strangest, as it was the most important, adventures
of my life. Near the point of our northward extending Jutland had
grown up a fierce and vigorous clan, greater hunters and fighters
than we, who had decided to leave the place they inhabited, because
of the exhaustion of their oyster beds. Such movement by a clan was
no uncommon thing, because, though the hunting and fishing might be
usually good, there were times when they failed, and, besides, as
was considered by my own people, the oysters and mussels and other
shell-fish were easier to gather and had, furthermore, become the
food to which the people were most accustomed and which, some thought,
best nourished them. Far to the south and past our own and other clans
must this one go to where it was said there were more beds of great
richness. There were sometimes runners between the clans, and we knew
of the migrating band which was already on its way. It chanced that I,
at this time, was about to set out on a solitary hunt to the northward
to reach the shores of a bay where were many of a small animal, a sort
of sable, having a wonderful fur of which I wished to secure enough to
make a cloak, not because I wished to wear such a cloak myself, but
because I might trade it for many things.

I was two days on my journey and reached the bay as night was coming
on. I made a fire, turning a sharpened stick swiftly into a dry one,
as was our way--the fire being necessary to keep at a distance the
prowling beasts--and, after eating my supper of dried venison and
fish, lay down to sleep. It was not for long. I was awakened by noises
in the wood to the north, and, seizing my weapons, slipped into the
dense bushes at the edge of the forest. The noise I had heard was
that of the loud voices of men, and I did not know who these strange
wanderers might be. They emerged presently upon the beach, a great
company of men, women and children. Some of the men gathered about my
fire curiously and there was discussion, but they made no search in the
wood. They thought, doubtless, that it had been built by some wandering
hunter whom their advance had frightened. They were right in that. My
apprehension did not go when, as they began the building of many more
fires, intending to encamp, I had a good view of them in the light of
the growing flames.

The men were a stalwart lot and somewhat more fierce of aspect than
were the men of my own clan. The women, too, seemed fuller breasted
and more robust. One I noted particularly, a magnificent creature with
yellow hair, who was moving about the fire, where stood a big man who
seemed in authority and whom I recognized at once. It was old Horsen,
chief of the migrating clan, and this was to be one of their stations
on the march. I liked not the look of Horsen. I went farther into the
forest and made myself a bed of leaves in a thicket, kindling no fire
to attract the notice of the wanderers. As for the dangerous wild
beast, bear, wolf or lynx, they would not remain in the region of the
noisy camp. I slept soundly.

I awoke as day was breaking and, for a time, was undecided what to do,
though, certainly, my first object must be to learn from their actions
if the invaders thought to encamp by the little bay for any length of
time. I crept cautiously to a place near the wide stretch of beach
where the trees and bushes were thickest and, peering out from there,
saw what convinced me that the band would remain there for some days,
probably to renew their supplies by hunting and fishing. They had
brought with them a number of light canoes, such as could be easily
carried by two men, and, early as it was, I saw fishermen out upon
the waters. The rude skin tents erected were pegged down firmly, the
people near the morning fires were moving about slowly, while, here and
there, were men engaged in examining their bows and other weapons, and
consulting together and pointing in different directions. Apparently
they were going on a hunt. I felt assured they would not depart from
the region at once.

My plans regarding the hunting of the little sable were surely
thwarted, but it seemed to me that it would be a wise thing to lurk
about for a time, if I could do so with safety, and so learn more
fully what manner of people these were and how their advent on their
southward march might possibly affect my clan. We surpassed them in
numbers somewhat, but they were fierce of appearance and the men were
all well armed. Their bows seemed better than ours, they were longer
and heavier, and their spears were many of them made smooth, as I could
see when the sun shone on them. These wanderers might be peaceful, but
it was well that my clan should be prepared. Our oyster and mussel beds
and excellent fishing grounds were prizes worth the taking, and peace
between clans was a string of bark at best.

Soon after a great number of the men of the camp--more than half of
them--gathered in a body equipped for the hunt, and entered the forest
toward the southwest. Evidently they were going to hunt on a large
scale, as we sometimes did, extending a line in a great semicircle and
bringing in the ends, thus enclosing whatever game might be near us in
our front. That they would not hunt save at a long distance from the
camp I knew, because the commotion there had driven the game away, and
so I felt certain that they would not return until nearly nightfall.
Many others of the men were fishing and there remained in the camp only
a few of the less active, and the women and children. What a chance, I
thought, for a surprise by an enemy!

There was no longer such extreme need for caution in my movements, and
so I wandered about through the forest, thinking that I might surprise
a grouse or some other bird, to give variety to my supper. I was
unsuccessful, and, wearied of the search, at last threw myself upon the
ground in a little glade closely surrounded by trees and a thicket and
entered only by a narrow pathway made by the creatures of the forest. I
was soon asleep, for, necessarily, I had rested but little during the

How long I slept I do not know, but I awoke with the feeling that
something alive was near me, a faculty common to us people of the shore
and woods, who must always be, even unknowingly, exerting our senses
for safety’s sake. I rose slowly to my feet and stood facing the woman
with the yellow hair whom I had seen talking with Horsen the night
before! I think we were equally startled, but it was the maiden who
spoke first.

“Who are you?” she said.

Her language was like my own, for only one speech was known along the
coast, and I understood her readily, and understood, as well, that she
was not afraid. I scarcely knew how to answer her. “I am a hunter,” I
replied, “from a village two days to the south.”

“Sit down,” she said, “and tell me about it.”

So we sat down upon the grass, the pleasant sun shining upon us, and I
told her all I thought best of our people and of our way of living. She
made no comment for a little time and then said, thoughtfully: “I think
it is better than ours.”

As I sat there looking at her it came to me that there was none
like her in my own clan, none so stately and brave, as she had
shown herself, and, assuredly, none so good to look upon. There were
yellow-haired women there, but none with such deeply yellow masses of
it; there were women of excellent form, but none so finely straight and
slender, yet full-bosomed and rounded of leg and arm. I could not keep
my eyes from her. I wanted her.

We sat there talking long. She had come into the forest seeking the
berries which grew in the thickets and so had found me. I told her of
my name, Scar, and she in turn told me that her name was Freya, that
she was the daughter of the leader, Horsen, and that the encampment was
to continue for five days, when the march southward would be taken up
again. And more we said. It was wonderful, my great good fortune, but
we became friends as those the Something which I do not understand may
sometimes make us. She promised that she would not betray my nearness
and that she would come to the little glade again at the same time on
the morrow.

And the story of what followed in the next three days it seems to
me must have been a very old one, for I had seen what was somewhat
like it among the lovers of my own clan. We, Freya and I, came to
know our hearts and what was within us very well. We knew that if we
were apart it would not be as good as if we were together always. She
was faithfully daring. On the fourth evening she came to me in her
jacket and short skirt of wolf skin, with her necklace and armlets of
bright beads, and carrying her cloak of fur and her bow and quiver
of arrows. She could use the bow, she said. We fled together into
the forest, and it was when we were perhaps a league from the camp
that our first misfortune came. We saw at not a great distance from
us one of the clan returning from the hunt, and he discovered us as
well. He seemed to pay little attention, though, perhaps thinking me
one of his own band, but we knew that when Freya was missed it would
be known that her companion was a stranger, and that there would be
swift and fierce pursuit. It could not be known yet where we were
going, and the trackers must move slowly. All night we hurried at our
utmost speed without the risk of exhaustion and then hid in the depths
of a great swamp. We were safe enough for a time, and a full day, we
judged, ahead of the certain pursuit. Old Horsen was not one likely to
lose a daughter tamely. Yet there came no alarm and, travelling at our
best all night and in the day as well, we reached my village in the
afternoon. I had been more than doubtful of the manner of my reception
when I told of all which had happened, for I had done what might
possibly bring the clan into grave trouble did it venture to take up
my cause, a most unlikely thing, for a man of the Kitchen-middens did
not often fight for love when the love was not his own. We were yet too
near the ways of brutes for that.

I need not have been troubled, for the time, at least. The whole
village was in a turmoil as we issued from the forest; there was much
running and shouting, many boats were on the water, and all excitement
was centred upon a huge, dark object which lay among the reefs not
a great way from shore and directly in front of the line of huts. I
recognized what it was on the moment. It was a great whale stranded, a
rare event and a glorious one for the people of the clan. I caught one
of the men by the arm and made him tell me how it had come.

A little before noon the people on the beach and those fishing had
noted a great commotion of the water quite a distance out at sea, and
could not understand it until the foaming and splashing came nearer,
for it was approaching the shore rapidly. Then they who had seen the
happening often, though never so near the village, recognized what it
all meant. A big whale was being attacked by the only enemies he feared
in all the ocean, the giant swordfish and the sea fox, as we called it,
the thresher, which, with its enormously lengthened body thrown in air,
could deliver a blow to crush frightfully into the body of even such a
monster as a whale. The attack--for it was no conflict--was a dreadful
one, and the victim, in his agony and fear, was heading recklessly and
unknowingly directly for the shore. The tide was high, there was a big
sea on and, in his senseless and desperate rush, the leviathan came
in, on and through the body of a high wave, topped the outer reefs and
rocks and pitched floundering among the jagged uprearing mass of rock,
a vast prisoner who could not possibly escape. His savage assailants
swam up and down outside the reef for a time, as if unwilling to give
up their prey, and then took to the deep again, while the whale, deeply
wounded, lay gasping where he had been cast until the tide went down,
and died there in the shallow water, scarce a hundred yards from land.

The clan had gone half mad with triumph and excitement. Every boat
was seized upon, and those who did not possess one swam out, knife or
stone axe in teeth, and the body of the whale was attacked by scores
upon the side which lay nearest the village. It was a monstrous and
welcome prize and there would be much immediate feasting, for whale
meat was a fine thing, and there would be blubber for all. The candles
of dried beech splinters stuck into the shell filled with oil would
burn merrily in every hut. There would be bone for an hundred uses, and
it was no wonder that all were boisterously happy. As for me, I hurried
Freya to my own hut and left her there, for it was necessary that
we, too, should have our share of the great booty at hand. Time and
again I filled my boat with blubber and skin which I cut away from the
tremendous carcass, so working until nightfall, when I had a towering
mass of it heaped up beside the hut by my helpful Freya, to be better
disposed of when the whale had been entirely stripped. We ate, and then
the danger which threatened us came sharply to my mind again. I would
see old Rolf, chief of the clan, so far as we recognized a chief, and
to his hut I straightway went.

Not a man of great strength or courage above others was old Rolf, but
he was friendly to me as I have told, and wise in his way and very
crafty. I doubted, though, if he would be of much active aid to me in
my strait on this occasion. He received my story as I thought he would.

Very grave became the old man’s face when I had told him what I had
done and what I feared might follow. He thought a little, and, even as
he was thus considering there came hurrying to the door of the hut,
directed by some of the clan, two runners from the advancing force of
Horsen, who demanded that they might talk with him at once.

Very brief was the speech of the runners. Horsen had told them that his
daughter had been stolen by one of our clan, and that when his band
reached our village on its journey the daughter must be returned and
the man who had taken her given over for punishment. Otherwise, the
approaching clan would take the man and woman by force.

The action of old Rolf was better and shrewder now than I had hoped
for. He knew nothing of the matter, he said. If such a thing had
happened, surely the man and woman would be given up, for such stealing
of women was a thing prohibited between the clans. He must first
know, however, if the outrage had really been done. He would make all
inquiries, and would act as was right when the clan of Horsen appeared.
Meanwhile, when they came there must be a feast of the two peoples
together. The runners went away.

Turning to me then old Rolf made short comment:

“We will not give you up if we can help it; you are too great a hunter
and fisherman to lose. But you must hide away in some of the many deep
thickets of the marsh to the southwest, near where is the blasted pine
upon the little island there. I will send a runner to you to-morrow to
tell you of what has happened.”

I bowed my head. Evidently there was nothing else to do. It was,
anyhow, better than I had feared. That night Freya and I fled to the
distant little island in the marsh. I thought but slightly of it as a

We took food and warm cloaks with us to the marsh and were not
uncomfortable, but I was in fear of our discovery, and much I planned.
Then came the promised runner in the afternoon, a man named Stor,
who was my friend. Horsen, he said, had grumblingly accepted the
invitation to the feast old Rolf had offered, because his people
were eager for the whale meat, but a serious thing had happened.
I had been betrayed by some enemy and it was known to Horsen that
Freya had indeed been taken away by one of our clan, who, as old Rolf
explained propitiatingly, had fled in the night to some unknown place
and could not be produced. Why, he added, should this be the cause of
trouble between the clans? He, himself, with the men of his people,
would assist in the hunt for the fugitive and in the rescue of the
daughter. Yet this, Stor said, did not satisfy the vengeful Horsen. He
had demanded that his men search every hut in our village, which had
been consented to readily enough, but which search, of course, had no
result. The immediate region round about had been explored as well,
with equal barrenness of issue, and Horsen was in a rage. Even to the
feast the men of either clan were going armed. After that the country
would be scoured and, Stor thought, there could be no escape for us. I
knew that he was right. I thought much upon it, and a great plan came
to me!

That night Freya and I returned to a place near the village and, making
no sound, crept into our own hut at midnight. A storm was brewing, as
I had foreseen in the afternoon. I had two boats, one much larger than
the other. I crept out in the darkness and found them and brought them
together to my hut. Such was the difference in size that I could put
the smaller one within the other, and this I did.

Long before day came, when only the fishermen were out, seeking a reef
where they seemed to be always most successful at this strange hour, I
went boldly down to the beach with the courageous Freya and there we
embarked with difficulty in the teeth of the gale which was making the
waves roll high. We were seen by some of our people, but they gave no
alarm. Well it was for us now that I was a strong rower else we would
have never got to sea. We succeeded, though, and later passed the
daring group of fishermen who were out already nearly a league from
shore and were letting down their lines. As we passed they shouted
and, a little later, I saw one of them suddenly put about and begin
to row toward the village. I knew my enemy now. It was still dark. I
rowed on until the fishermen were lost to sight, and then Freya and I
accomplished a feat, for, perched on each end of the larger boat, we
managed to get the lesser one out beside us and to enter it despite the
turbulence of the waters. The larger boat we cast adrift to tell its
story of our seeming drowning. We had done well. I changed my course
now and rowed well to the north. I did not wish to be seen again by the
fishermen. I laboured in this direction for some time and then, after
a struggle to keep the narrow boat well balanced, to avoid swamping in
the rough waves, I turned my course directly toward the village. If I
could only gain it before the darkness passed! We reached it at last,
for I rowed furiously, and were soon beside the whale, on its seaward
side. That had been my goal! Lashed in the bottom of the boat were a
broad-bladed stone axe, keen of edge, and a long stone knife as sharp.
I broke the axe from its fastenings and, while Freya held the boat
against the dead monster’s side, I worked as I had never worked before.
I cut deeply, in a line up and down and half the height of a man, and
cut a parallel line at a distance of a yard from the first one. Next I
connected these two cuttings by a similar one at the bottom. From this
bottom cutting I worked inward until I could lift the skin a little
in a flap, which I could turn upward and then chopped into the flesh
with all my might, casting it into the sea as I freed it, where it was
gorged in a moment by the hungry awaiting fish. I was making a little
cave in the whale.

Furiously I laboured and soon had made a hollow in the flesh large
enough to hold two people, a cave having a close-fitting flap for a
doorway and invisible to all outside. Into this cave I lifted Freya
and the food we had provided. Before I followed her I drove my axe
through the bottom of the boat, making a great gap through which the
water crushed in and sank the craft as I clambered upward to join my
assisting mate. I could recover and mend the boat later if ever safety
came to us. We were together in warmth and darkness, relieved of
something of our fears. Had ever man and mate such harbourage before?

There came faintly to us, at last, the sound of shouting. I pressed
aside a little of the flap and saw a fleet of boats being launched
upon the now almost raging waters. They were filled by Horsen’s men,
confident seemingly of capturing us if we were still alive in our frail
cockleshell. There was no place where we might elude their sight,
unless, keeping always ahead of them, we could pass the sea to far
Lesso, half way across the Kattegat, a feat impossible in such a boat
as ours.

We settled down to endure as best we might. From outside faint sounds
came to us, and when I ventured cautiously to press the edge of the
flap aside into a crack I could hear the tumult of many voices and knew
that they were working feverishly upon the whale, but this did not
disturb me. I knew that they would work only on the landward side where
was shallow water, and knew, too, that they would not reach us for some
days. The whale was a huge one.

The first night passed quietly and we slept well. What courage showed
my mate! In the early morning I peered forth again and saw the boat I
had cast adrift lying stranded on the beach. This was as I had planned.
There came no unwonted sound from shore, and I decided that there could
have been no battle. And so passed three more days, when suddenly
sounds became distinct and very near. Our clansmen had almost reached
us. I could feel the flesh behind me quivering, and I had a great idea.
I chopped vigorously with my axe into the soft blubber and made a hole
finally, and bellowed loudly through it. There was a roar of fright
which was followed by flight and silence. Then I made the hole much
larger and passed through it with Freya and called aloud to my friends
who, it must be said, came back most hesitatingly. They thought us come
from the bottom of the sea! Soon, though, they were themselves again
and told me the story of all relating to Horsen and his band.

The men in the boats seeking us on the water had rowed hard all day
in a rough sea, and one boat had capsized and two of its crew were
lost. There had been much risk, and when, at night, the boats returned
all felt assured that Freya and I must have been lost before we had
gone a league. There had been a close search of the country, but they
had expected to find nothing and were not disappointed in that. They
had returned from the search in an ugly mood, and the vengeful Horsen
had seemed about ready for battle, but our clan had its own temper
aroused by this time and, upon showing their readiness for the fight,
outnumbering the men of Horsen as they did, he had thought better of
it, and departed sullenly with his following. We should probably never
see any of them again, for the shell-beds they sought were far to the
south and there were intervening fjords which must be rounded, making
their journey a long and arduous one. So we settled down to peace,
Freya becoming an accepted and much regarded woman of the clan. We two
sought our hut, and I carried to it more of the blubber of the whale
because of the light it would supply us. As for the flesh, we would
have none of it. Its odour was too persistent in our nostrils.

The long days passed and the winter came, bitter, even for the region,
but little did my Freya and I heed the cold in our hut, upon which I
had heaped many sods and before the door of which the indrawn shield
of skins fitted too closely to admit the chilly winds. We snuggled,
like rabbits, there together in our furs, and ate and slept and were
almost as sluggish, though most happily, as were the others about us.
Often Freya would stroke the long scar upon my face and press her lips
against it. We were different in many ways from our companions. Yet,
the winter seemed long, though sometimes I would go floundering through
the deep snow on the hunt seeking such game as had not moved southward
for the time, and especially the fur-bearers whose pelts now bore their
richest covering. Some success I had at this, but I was glad, as was my
mate, when the sun shone again more warmly and the snow and ice turned
into water. First of all were we to build our fire out in the open.

Warmer and warmer became the days, the snow had gone and there were
leaves upon the trees and many flowers upon the ground, of which Freya
would twine wreaths in her hair, making her fairer still, if that might
be. Then came upon us both a certain longing and a great restlessness,
which we could not understand.

It was I, thinking deeply one day while on the hunt, who first
recognized the nature of our weariness and discontent. We were not as
we should be. So different from the others were we that our lot should
not be cast always with them. What should we do? I hastened home to
Freya and told her of what was in my mind, and she assented joyously.
We would leave the shell-fish eaters!

But what region should we seek, and should we go alone? Not quite
all alike were the shell-fish eaters, and I knew of some, especially
among the younger men, though some of them were mated, who might be
desirous of such adventure. The blood of wandering ancestors was yet
in their veins and, in some cases, showed a little of itself despite
degeneration. I would talk with these. I did so soon and found some
twoscore of the clan who would accompany us gladly, among whom were
five women who were mated to five men among them.

We prepared most swiftly for this great adventure, for, now that it was
secretly resolved upon, all were most impatient. Carrying our weapons
and a store of dried meat and fish--though we thought to live easily on
the game we met--the band gathered one night at an appointed place in
the forest and thence silently took its departure.

In which direction we should go was a subject of grave debate for a
time, but it was at last decided that we should press northward to
Skagen Rock and thence cross the narrow strait to the mainland in the
two light boats we carried. Especially was this determined upon because
I had already travelled over much of the way, and Freya knew the course
for the remainder of the journey. We were doubtful about the southward
way, for we were ignorant of where the land ended there, not knowing
that it was but a part of the mainland and would be our shorter course
to the regions we were seeking, which were the lands from which our
people had once come. Our decision was most unfortunate. How could we

As it chanced, though, all came out as we had expected for the first
part of our long march. We avoided the shore of the Kattegat lest we
stumble upon other clans of shell-fish eaters, and reached the Skagen
Rock and made the passage to the land beyond in safety. Then we took up
the march toward the south.

For days we travelled, finding abundant game and suffering no hardships
worth the mentioning. As we progressed the climate became warmer, the
trees changed more to oak and beech, and we were more and more rejoiced
that we had left the now far distant village where was so little life.
Then came some apprehension, when we discovered signs of human beings
in the trails we came upon, and we moved more cautiously. We could but
guess what manner of men these might be. There were stories of tribes
upon this borderland who were most ferocious and merciless and who
spared none of those whom they might at any time overcome.

We were moving slowly along a broad space between dense forests on
either side, one afternoon, when there broke out suddenly from all
about us such a fierce and hideous yelling as I had never heard, and
from the depths of the wood leaped out a dozen times our number of
wild gaunt creatures, better armed than we, who did not hesitate or
parley, but sent their arrows upon us in a cloud. More than half of us
fell beneath that furious volley, and others went down a moment later
before the spears and axes. Crazed, I transfixed one of the savages
with my spear as they crowded murderously in upon us, and, even as I
did so, saw another sink his axe into the head of one of the women with
us. They would spare none. As I thought this, in that brief instant,
it brought me comfort. Freya was in my mind. I fought desperately,
but what of it? A spear entered my body. Of those who had left the
shell-bed country not one remained alive!



Little fingers were fumbling about my face and there came the sound of
a prattling voice close beside me. I opened my eyes and looked into
the face of a child who was trying to arouse me, tugging valiantly at
my hair and chattering away in great delight. Next I heard a laugh and
turned upon my couch to see, on the other side of the hut, a woman,
brown-haired and blue-eyed, who was looking cheerfully upon the babe
and me, pausing only a moment to turn a cake browning before a fire
flaming brightly on a broad slab of stone. She was pleasant to look
upon, and I lay content, as my drowsiness passed away and my head
became more clear.

“You slept deeply,” she said. “The babe was trying to rouse you.”

I looked upon the child again and caught him in my arms and drew him
down toward me. He was a sturdy little one and struggled joyously, and
my heart went out toward him. The woman laughed again. I now knew who I
was, and where it was that I had awakened. The woman was my mate, Elka,
and the little child my son. There were none fairer nor finer than
these in the village above the waters of the lake which lay between the
great forest and the mountains.

I could hear the plashing of the slight waves underneath us as they
washed against the piles. There was the smell which comes from fish
in the depths, and through the open window space in the wall of the
dwelling came the fragrant odour of the growing and blooming things of
the land. It was very pleasant. I arose and went out upon the platform
which jutted forth over the water.

It was a pleasant scene. From where I stood a narrow pathway, made of
a series of two hewed planks laid on piles extending well above the
water, reached to the sloping shore nearly half an hundred yards away.
From thence the slope rose into a green valley which broadened into
almost a plain, and there were fenced fields almost as far as I could
see, though there were no dwellings. In the fields, though it was yet
early morning, I could see men and women moving, and there were animals
in some of them as well. On either side of the valley save at the far
end rose mountains, not very lofty and covered high up with verdure;
but turning and looking over the broad blue lake toward the southeast,
I could see great peaks the summits of which were clad in snow, warm as
it was in the valley and in the lake village. Further rose peaks still
higher, and to the southwest were mountains also snow-clad which the
rising sun was turning to a glory of pink and flashing yellow. It was
all wonderful and good for the eyes. It seemed to me there could be
no fairer place, but I did not linger to gaze long. Little, indeed, I
thought upon it, for I was hungry and turned into my cabin that I might
eat. What is better than eating?

The meal was all prepared for me, and it was good. There was a fish
cooked on the coals and the brown loaf my mate had made, and there were
nuts and little apples. What more could fisherman or hunter ask? I
ate, as did my mate, and as she ate she often tucked little mouthfuls
into the mouth of the eager babe. We were untroubled, for was not our
village at peace, and was not the wild game abundant, and did not the
fishing yield, and were not the crops flourishing as were the tamed

Truly we had reason to be glad, for there was not another of the
villages of the Lake-Dwellers in all the mountain and valley region as
growing and prosperous as ours, nor were there any of the land tribes
whom we greatly feared. There had been great trouble and bloodshed long
ago, but that was past and known of only in the stories of our fathers.
Our ways were now those of the peaceful, though, sometimes, there were
tragedies, yet, as the years passed, it seemed as if there could surely
be no tribe so safe as we who dwelt in the huts of the lake village.
The time when, as I have said, there was no peace at all, was when we
dwelt upon the land which came sloping from the west to the water’s
side and when very near to us to the north and east were wild tribes
who made repeated forays and who slew and burned. We had remained but
a small and timorous force when some one among us--none now could tell
whom, but he must have been most wise and crafty--thought of the plan
of making our dwellings on piles above the water, that we might be
able to defend ourselves from all invaders, be they any of the wicked
foraying tribes, or the marauding beasts, which at that time were
many and fierce and dangerous. But this had been long ago, and the
story of it was already becoming dim. To make our houses we, first,
from our boats, drove sharpened piles of oak, beech, fir or ash, or
sometimes yew, deep into the soft bottom of the lake, not very far
from shore, yet far enough for safety’s sake; though sometimes nearer
shore, so near that, when need came, a platform could be laid from
it to the land, there was built a greater house than those we lived
in, into which we could drive our animals when any danger threatened
them. Our living places we reached mostly by boat, though in times of
certain peace we had usually laid from the great platform a narrow
path of split planks on a row of piles upon which we might pass more
readily; these planks, like those of the slope from the ground to the
stables, could easily be taken away. Upon the great platform farthest
out in the lake our homes were built, very much alike. There were
four upright standards connected by timbers wooden-pinned at the top,
making the frame of a house a little longer than it was wide. Between
these standards were the walls of interwoven willow plastered with
a mortar of firmly adhesive mud. The roof was raised in the middle
that the rain might run off more easily. In one end were a door and a
window. At one end of the living-room was a big sandstone slab which
was the fireplace, the smoke from which escaped through the door and
window or through a hole in the roof; it did not annoy us, for all were
accustomed to it from childhood, besides which we had learned to use
only those woods for fire which burned most cleanly. In the middle of
the floor of each house was a trap door, through which could be let
down a small net for the fish which were so abundant in the lake and
upon which we depended much for food when the hunting chanced to be bad
and we had nothing else to eat with our bread of wheat or barley or
millet seed, which we cultivated upon the land. For beds we had the
skins of wild animals or of our own tamed cattle, or sheep or goats.
What finer homes could be? Surely we were a fortunate people.

We had ways of orderly living. All disputes were decided by three
chosen old men of the tribe, though not always would those who
quarrelled abide by their decision, and to each man of the tribe was
allotted his part in what was to be done for the general good. It
must needs be so, for our occupations were so different that it was
necessary that each should know how best to do his work. The potter--we
had many dishes and huge jars for the grain, and other things of burned
clay--could only do his best if always at his own sort of work; those
who looked after the cattle and flocks must best know how to handle
them and where were the richest and safest feeding places; those who
did the hunting and fishing, of whom I was the chief, must be strong of
arm and fleet of foot and wise in the habits of all wild things; and
those who cultivated the ground--the women and some of the men--must
know how to best prepare it for the seeding, digging it up with
sharpened sticks, and hauling over it the branches of trees and the
drags of stag’s horn, and how to do the harvesting. What a community we
were! There was none other like us! Long already had our people lived
above the lake, our numbers had increased, the huge platform stretched
its length far along and became wider as it became longer. Thus safe
and thus mingling together in such numbers we devised many new things
and so were becoming more capable and potent. What we were some time to
be who could foretell?

The work of the hunters was, of needs, the most adventurous and
arduous, and only the strong men and those who were most capable were
chosen for it. They must be in the forefront in time of conflict with
other tribes, should such time come, and we of the band were all
provided with coats and leggings of dried aurochs’ hide, which arrow or
even spear could hardly pierce with force sufficient to enter deeply
the body of the wearer. Far and wide we ranged, but not deeply, the
dark and almost endless forest region to the north and east, where were
dangerous beasts and still more dangerous and savage men of the tribes
who had once made frequent war upon us, in the time before we became
Lake-Dwellers, and so protected and too well-weaponed and trained and
strong for them. In our own village were more than a thousand people,
and in other lakes not far to the south and east were almost as many

As for my own life in my hut, or outside on land or water, it was but
good. There were my mate and the child and the ardour of the chase. It
seemed to me at times that I, Scar, the hunter and fisherman, was the
most contented man among a contented people.

For food we never lacked, even when the hunting and fishing were not
good. There was the grain equally divided throughout the tribe and
stored in the great clay jars made by the potters, and the dried meat
and fish and also dried fruit of many kinds, for we had the wild apples
and wild pears and cherries and plums, and especially a little sour
crab-apple which we liked and which grew in great abundance. There were
also many berries and great quantities of beechnuts and acorns, in the
hills. Much game there was at times, but, most of all, I think, we
depended on the marsh cow, a wild and rather savage little brown beast
which came down in numbers to feed upon the marsh grass on the east
side of the lake, where we hunted it as craftily as we might. A great
adventure had I one day with my brave little mate, whom I had taught
to become, oftentimes, a great help to me in my hunting. I had rowed
across the lake with her far to the south, for I did not wish to land
near the marsh, and so came upon it from the forest beyond. Far out and
near the water I could see a single marsh cow feeding close to shore.
We slipped quietly from the wood and entered the grass and then crept
forward on our bellies as quietly and silently as any of the little
creatures living there, and, at last, came very near the cow, for the
wind was from it and it did not scent us. It had been a weary crawl.

The cow, very fortunately for us, had in feeding gone out upon a little
point extending into the lake. We thus had it at a disadvantage. I
rose slowly to my feet and drew my arrow to its head and shot, aiming
at the heart and feeling that I could at such short distance drive the
shaft almost through the comparatively small brown body. Unfortunately,
as I shot, the cow turned a little and the arrow buried itself in her
shoulder slantingly. With a great bellow the animal whirled about, and
I thought that it would charge, but suddenly it changed its mind and
plunged into the water, for the marsh cattle swam almost as easily
as did the beaver, of which there were thousands, the skins of which
furnished us warm clothing. I leaped forward and shot again as the cow
swam, but only put an arrow in its rump. Then there swished by me my
little mate, carrying in her mouth crosswise a short rod she had seized
from the ground; she curved forward into the water as gracefully and
swiftly as any of the fish-hunting creatures which harboured in the

Then followed some great swimming! The cow struck out toward the
southward, seeking to reach another point of land where it might
attain the forest again, but my mate was beside and ahead of it in
scarce a moment, belabouring it over the head with the stick she bore,
cudgelling it most valiantly and recklessly. The cow, still swimming,
and bellowing in rage, turned and charged, but could not catch that
elusive thing any more than could the beaver catch the otter. There
was a swirl and foam of waters and then came what made me roar aloud
as much in wonder as in glee. Elka had seized the marsh cow by the
tail and was still cudgelling away most valiantly and recklessly.
Furthermore, she was guiding the direction of the swimming beast! As it
sought to turn toward the shore, she would thwack it on the shore side
so furiously that, in desperation, it would turn the other way. Soon I
saw Elka’s aim--she was guiding the cow across the lake!

I ran my best until I reached the boat we had left far down the lake,
and rowed fiercely toward the two dark objects I could discern now a
long distance out. They were moving a little more slowly now, as well
they might, but were approaching the farther shore when I came up with
them. The cow was showing fatigue, though my mate was even frolicsome,
since she had not borne any labour, save in the steering. She had
brought her quarry home alive. She guided it to the shore, where I
speared it, ending its trouble, while from the outpouring throng on
the wide platform came a roar of astonishment at the exploit. Such a
mate had I! Well did she merit the soft furs I always brought her and
the necklaces of amber beads for which I traded with the sometimes
wandering bands of friendly people from the great sea to the north
they called the Baltic, wherein was the amber found. A necklace and an
armlet of amber were hers, and she had beads also of serpentine and of
the inside of brilliant shells, and many combs of yew-wood and of bone
and horn. There were none other like her!

And, most curiously, that same day came another happening of a far
different nature and one that made me almost believe that there might
be reason for the stone crescent in some of the huts, for surely Yak
and Mona without some power to bring good fortune to them would surely
have lost their one child, a babe which could scarcely walk.

Most of us could not understand it or believe it, but somehow there had
grown up a sort of what they called religion in the tribe, and a belief
that we could be helped in our undertakings and preserved from evil by
the aid of some great Being in the skies, and this Being was thought by
these worshippers to be the kindly moon which gave us light by night,
when otherwise we would have been more helpless. So, in the cabins of
those who held the faith, was kept as a charm a crescent made of stone
which was counted a sure aid and protection. Little faith had I in the
belief or the crescent, but, as I have said, what happened on this day
somewhat affected me the other way.

The babe was lying in the sunshine in the little fenced-off pen on the
platform, of the kind in which the very young children were placed
for safety’s sake, when it was seen by the great lammergeyer--the
lamb-killer--which was hovering in the sky far overhead, and the huge
bird dropped down upon it as it would fall upon a lamb in the hills. It
came with a roaring swoop, swept upward with the babe in its talons,
and sailed away with it above the lake, though flying somewhat lower
and more heavily than usual.

Then came the marvel! Fishing far out on the waters was Lars, the best
bowman of the tribe, save I, perhaps, but not so far that he did not
hear the shrieks of Mona. They could have been heard a long way, those
shrieks. And, by the merest chance, from hope of a shot at some water
fowl, Lars had his bow with him, lying ready strung by his side and an
arrow with it. He seized the bow and stood with arrow poised as the
great bird came winging its way directly toward him, the child dangling
below. He drew the arrow to the head and, as the bird came nearly over
him, he let go the shaft. There was certainly the chance that he might
kill the babe, but better such a death than to be torn to pieces by
the lammergeyer. Yet the arrow did not touch the child, though it slew
the devouring bird, passing fairly through its neck and bringing it
down shrieking and fluttering and tossing to the water. Lars lifted out
both babe and bird, the child with hardly a scratch upon it, the bird’s
talons having clutched it where was its thick and protecting little
breechclout. It was good to look upon the joy of Mona when she had her
babe in her arms again. It was good, also, that Lars had killed the
lammergeyer! Long had it circled in the sky above us, seeking a chance
to descend upon and rob us of our lambs. And this was what made it seem
to me that, mayhap, there might be something to the stone crescent and
the worship of the moon. Surely Yak and Mona had been strangely helped.

Not all the time were we people of the Lake-Dwellers devoted to our
labours, because there was no need, and because it was good to play
at times and there was the call of man to woman and of woman to man.
There was an open space left on the great platform near the centre
of all the huts, and there the youth and many of the older ones met
nightly for better acquaintance or frolic or merry chatting together.
There were certain sports and there was dancing to the sounds of little
skin-headed drums and of stretched strings which twanged agreeably.
Sometimes there were feasts and festivals as well, when old and young
assembled, and then men talked of the catch or the chase or of the
tribe’s affairs, and the women of what might be in their minds or
hearts. There was much proud showing of ornaments--though of none to
equal those of my Elka--and there was mating, and it was for the good
of all that we had this meeting place.

Yet it must not be said of us Lake-Dwellers that we never had anything
to disturb us. The wild regions about us held too much of menace for
that. The rude tribes to the east had not threatened us for years now,
and with those on the northern sea we were on good terms, but there
were others, outlanders and outlaws, whose lurking presence we must
guard against at all times. They were bold and cruel and ruthless. It
was not safe for the women to go far afield alone, and our flocks and
herds must not be without guardians. Even at the time of which I am
telling there had been a recent tragedy.

There had come up a great storm, one such as we rarely had upon the
lake, though lesser ones were frequent in our climate. It rose in the
afternoon, and continued into the night, the whole lake in a turmoil,
and the braced huts on the platform seeming hardly safe from the onrush
and pounding of the ravening waters. Toward morning, however, the storm
subsided, and the sun shone out brightly, and there rose smoke from all
the dwellings, save one, the home of Dill, a good fisherman and one of
my own group. There was a call to the inmates of the place, but there
came no answer, and the hut was entered to learn the reason for such
silence. There lay Dill and all his family, speared in the midst of
the storm, slain, as we well knew, by a band of the fierce wanderers.
The slain could not be brought to life, but there was something else
to do, for Dill had been my close friend and there was a trail which
must be followed. I gathered together as many as I could of my group of
hunters and fishermen, each wearing his armour of aurochs skin and each
carrying his bow and spear and axe and food for many days.

Though there were shrewd trackers among us, at first we could discover
no trace of the way in which the murderers had come or gone, because
the storm had destroyed all trail; but, circling far, we found it where
it became clear with the storm’s ending, and then, greatly aided by
the dogs we had taken with us, we followed and moved more swiftly and
earnestly than ever we had followed game less tremendous. We were like
the wolves which follow the stag, as relentless and as pitiless!

We knew that the outlaws did not much fear pursuit. The task had,
heretofore, seemed almost hopeless, because of the craftiness of the
bands, to say nothing of their desperate resistance in strongholds of
which they knew, or of their many secure hiding-places in the depths
of the forest. Now, it was different! One, at least, of these cruel,
marauding bands I was resolved should pay the penalty. This band must

For a day and a night we followed the freshening trail and, early in
the morning, one whom I had sent ahead to creep along more softly than
we could together, discovered where they were. They had just risen from
sleep and were eating together in a little hollow in the very midst of
the dense forest. There were eleven of them, unsuspecting our nearness,
if, indeed, they had thought of pursuit at all, talking loudly and
planning, it may be, other baneful expeditions. We were twenty to the
eleven, and they were ours!

Silently as creeping wild-cats, we encircled the little hollow in which
they were eating, and then, with my yell, we leaped upon them. They
were as unprepared as they were unsuspecting. They were surrounded and
none could escape. It was a time of fierce delight for us. We speared
them howlingly, or brained them with our keen-edged stone axes. They
were very dead when we left them, first stripping them of their plunder
and their own belongings, not, as was first thought, to the wolves, but
in another manner. There protruded from a huge tree which stood beside
the hollow a straight extending limb which overhung it and was far
above the reach of beasts of prey. With much labour, two men climbed
the tree and crept out upon this limb, taking a rope of hide and many
shorter ones with them. They let the long rope down to us and we
fastened the bodies to it, one after another, and so they were hoisted
and hung with the shorter ropes, eleven savage brutes in a row, to
dangle long as a warning to other prowlers of what hazard faced those
who ventured to invade the region of the Lake-Dwellers!

Yet such grim occurrences as this were rare. We were peaceful and
prosperous, as I have told, increasing steadily in numbers. Because
there were assembled together so many, all in helpful comradeship with
each other, there came a greater knowingness and there was devised much
of what was new. The potters made finer jars and all sorts of earthen
vessels; the women contrived a way of weaving a sort of cloth from the
fibre of plants, though as yet they could not do it very well; the
hunters invented new and better snares, the flint chippers made more
effective weapons for them; our fields were better tilled, and our
little herds were better tended. It was the close companionship in such
numbers which led toward our greatness.

And so the full days passed. It was a little after summer and the
leaves in the forest were already turning slowly from green to brown or
brilliant red or yellow. It was on one of the brightest of the autumn
afternoons that I thought to go fishing with hook and line, taking my
bow along in the hope that I might find ducks or geese about the marsh,
for I had it in mind to fish near the farther shore. It was well that
I did so, as far as that day went.

Of all the animals we sought to capture or kill because of the richness
or beauty of their fur there was none to equal the otter. An otter skin
was deemed a greater prize than that of bear or wolf or lynx or beaver,
and he was counted fortunate who owned one. Very few of such skins
were ours, however, for so silent and elusive, so wary and crafty, and
swift either on or under the water was the otter, that it was hard to
trap or kill one of them. Not a fisherman or hunter in the tribe but
had hunted them with all his art, and not many had been successful,
though there existed and thrived numbers of them, great prizes, in
and about the shore. On the afternoon of which I tell I rowed to near
where the deep water shallowed into the vast marsh, in which were broad
pools connected with the lake by narrow streams of little depth. I was
sitting idly and motionless in the boat with my line in the water when,
suddenly, two tawny pointed noses followed by dark bodies rose to the
surface. I did not move so much as an eyelid. So motionless was I that
the creatures did not recognize me as a living object. It seemed to me
that I must be trembling visibly in my eagerness and vague hope, but I
did not stir.

The otters sported about in the water, chasing each other, diving
and racing, and all the time nearing the shore of the marsh and the
mouth of one of the little creeks of which I have spoken. At last they
were fairly in its shallows and uplifted themselves and looked about
them. They waited a moment and then, to my surprise, swam steadily up
the winding, narrow stream. I was astonished because, though these
fish-filled pools were among their favourite hunting-grounds at night,
they were never seen in them in the dangerous daylight. What had
induced these two to take the risk I cannot tell; it may be that they
felt well assured of safety after their survey with uplifted necks,
their eyes seeking in all directions, or, that they were unusually
hungry, but, whatever the cause of their unwonted action, it threw me
into wild excitement and gave me stronger hope. I might kill them both!
The pond toward which they were swimming was small and shallow, and I
could easily guard its entrance. I waited until a turn of the slender
stream hid them from sight and then rowed swiftly toward it.

There was a commotion and splashing in the little pond, which I saw
was not more than ten or twelve yards across, as I neared it after
abandoning my boat and creeping forward through the high marsh grass.
The otters were rioting there among the many fish of the smaller kind,
perch and the like, which had reached it from the lake and were now
at the mercy of their enemies. They were fairly mad in their seizing
and gorging. The fish could not escape, and the otters were making
a carnival of it. I raised my head by slow degrees and then a knee,
moving so invisibly that no change could be seen, and gradually
raised my bow with arrow upon string and drew it slowly back. One of
the otters, the female it proved, caught a fish close to the shore
and, with her forefeet upon the sands, raised her head high as she
swallowed it. I held the shaft head fair upon her body just behind the
shoulder--I could not miss so near a mark--and let it go. It struck
her just where I had aimed and passed through her, leaving but little
of its length in sight above its feathering. She screamed and snarled
in her pain and threshed wildly about in the water. I had one of the

The other otter swam swiftly toward the narrow mouth of the creek, but
I leaped into it and barred his way, discharging an arrow at him as his
head appeared, but missing him in his lightning-like dart for safety.
Round and round he swam in his terror and perplexity, and then darted
to shore and made off through the marsh grass toward the lake. I shot
at him as he left the water and before he reached the high grass, but
struck him only in the ham, where the arrow stuck. Then I rushed wildly
after him. An otter can run with no little speed on land, but not so
swiftly as a man, and I was up with the fleeing animal in a moment,
striking fiercely at him with my bow. In his desperation he faced me
snarlingly, even leaping at me in his rage. The bow was useless against
him, but I saw a piece of driftwood at my feet and seized upon it and,
as he again sought to escape, I passed him once more and, as he faced
me, killed him with a single blow upon the head. I carried his body
to the shore of the pond and laid it beside that of his mate, which I
rescued from the water.

It seemed incredible! I had slain two magnificent otters in a single
day. When had such fortune ever before come to a Lake-Dweller? How
magnificent was the fur! How carefully and delicately should the skins
be tanned. What a glorious robe should my Elka wear! I carried the
astonishing spoil to my boat, shouting aloud unreasoningly the while,
and rowed with all my might for the great platform and my home.

What a reception I had! How amazed were all the people of the tribe
and how proud and happy was my mate. It was the greatest happening
in our lives since we had begun living in our hut together. Surely
such fortune deserved a celebration! We considered what it should be.
It must be a feast, and Nard and Lone, his mate, who were often our
companions and who lived in a hut near our own, should share it with us!

We had in the hut the hind quarter of a fallow deer I had lately killed
in a manner of which I was proud, for I had killed it in the open. I
had seen it from the nearby wood, but at first was hopeless of getting
within bowshot of it. Then an idea had come to me which I followed
quickly. The animal was standing knee deep in the lush, long grass of
the plain, and, seeking another open space not far behind me, I plucked
quantities of this grass and bound it all about me with the strings of
hide I always carried, the grass concealing even most of my head. Then,
crawling upon the ground, I crept into the open and advanced toward the
feeding deer. Looking however closely, one must have been sharp of eye
to detect me. There was none among the hunters of the tribe who could
move as softly and as silently, either afoot or crawling, as could I,
and this time I fairly outdid myself. Nearer I came to the deer until I
was but a few yards away, and then, as softly and slowly as I had later
with the first of the two otters, I rose to my knees and raised my bow
and drove the arrow to the very heart of the game. Somewhat did I boast
of that among my tribesmen.

The hind quarter of this fat beast should be the meat for our feast,
but, on an occasion so great, there must be other things. We must have
fish as well, to go with the wheaten cakes and the wild apples and
beechnuts, and I was resolved that it should be one of the great pike
which were abundant in the deeper water, but which we rarely caught in
the water about the village.

So in the afternoon of the day after the killing of the otters I
prepared for the fishing. I was in great spirits. As I neared the edge
of the platform where my boat was moored I passed old Fir, the oldest
man in the tribe, and a hale old man he was! His face was withered, but
his step was quick and firm and he still worked among the potters, one
of the best of them. He was always cheerful, delighting in his children
and grandchildren and a great-grandchild or two, as well. His presence
was an animating thing for us, and we respected him much and listened
to his advice, which was never unwise. As I spoke with him and looked
upon him, I said to myself that in my old age I would be another like
him! Surely I would live to be as old, for I, Scar, was the strongest
and most full of health of all our clan, the one most able to fend
off evil of any sort. Assuredly I would live as long as had this fine
veteran, who was near an hundred years of age.

I took my larger net into my boat and rowed out with it and anchored
it with a stone at the end of a rope of skin above a deep place in the
lake where I knew the pike were most abundant. I let down the net,
which was a pouch-like thing, baited in the centre and which would upon
the swift pulling of a cord of hide enclose whatever was close above
it. It was lined with many sharp barbed hooks, to assist the chance
of capture in the struggles of the fish to break away. I waited a
time for the bait fastened upon the hoop-net to attract the fish, and
then lifted the net sharply. It came only a little way; it had somehow
caught upon the bottom. I was enraged at the happening. Pull strongly
as I dared, I could not release the net. There was but one thing to
do: I must dive from the boat and free the thing, no feat for one who
could swim like a beaver. The day was very warm; I was impatient and
excited; I could dry happily, when I rose, in the sun, and so I dived
with my tough garb still upon me. Down to the net I went and learned
in a moment what had happened. There was some sort of narrow jagged
opening, reaching downward perhaps a yard in the rocky bottom, and
into this hole the net had fallen, catching and entangling itself
upon the spurlike protuberances which extended from the sides of the
little chasm. It appeared to be twisted, and impaled about and upon
two of these. I tugged and strained, but my efforts at its dislodgment
failed, while my breath was almost exhausted. I must go to the top for
air before I could do more. Then, as I made one last desperate attempt
before rising, my foot slipped with the effort and I slid downward
into the hole and into the anchored net itself! I was suffocating; I
strove to swim upward, but was held back; the strong sharp hooks had
caught in my clothing in a score of places, at which I plucked with the
fierceness of despair. Then I strived to tear away my skin garments,
but was already too weak for that. I could endure the strain upon my
lungs no longer. I opened my mouth gaspingly, and the water rushed in.
I was drowning!

I yet struggled for a moment or two, and then became quiescent, I know
not why. A thousand thoughts came to me. I had heard it said--and the
wise ones of the tribe said--that it had been so from the beginning,
that to the drowning always comes in an instant the memory of all
things of importance which may have happened in his lifetime. It was
so with me. How many things I had forgotten! I lived my life over
again in what must have been but a moment. Then came the present. I
thought of my immediate clan--ill could they afford the loss of Scar,
the hunter--I thought of the black sorrow of Elka. I thought of my
people and of the time when they would so increase that all men would
be lifted, because men had come together in a city--the first the world
had ever known! Of things such as these I thought. Then all became
dreamy and very pleasant.



I was aroused by the sound of a strange hammering, blows following
each other rapidly and with a quality of sound it seemed to me I had
never heard before. It was not like that of stone upon wood or of stone
upon stone, but had at times a faint ring, a something altogether
unfamiliar. I had been sleeping peacefully in the sun, lying in the
grass of a plot among bushes which grew in a valley-like gorge between
rocky walls and having many boulders scattered about upon its surface.
I sprang to my feet and emerged from the bushes to discover the cause
of the curious hammering, and recognized the scene, though somewhat
slowly. The Hammer was at work with two companions, and I knew that I
should have been helping him had I not become tired and gone to the
sunny spot in the bushes to rest and sleep a little.

The Hammer--he had gained the name because he was, nowadays, doing
little else than swing his big stone hammer in seeking to acquire
what had never been much sought before--saw me approaching and hailed
me boisterously: “Ho! Did you sleep, Scar, big laggard? Here is more
mauling for you.”

There was mauling to be done, assuredly. All three of the men were at
work, standing beside a flat boulder upon which they were seeking to
pound to little fragments uneven chunks of rock, which, from their
shape, must have been somehow broken from a larger body. As I drew
nearer I saw that among the fragments the men were thus seeking to
pulverize, there appeared lumps and shreds and strips of a substance
which did not break beneath the blows, though it might bend and
flatten. Then what remained of the daze of my sleeping went away in a
moment and I knew the why and wherefore of what was here before me. The
red substance was the thing Hammer had found in the pronged rock and
was copper, as we came to call it, something now most precious to us
and in the getting of which we were all assisting Hammer to the utmost.
What arrow-heads and spear-heads he had given us! There had been never
others to equal them.

It had been a curious discovery and one unlikely to have been made by
other than this Hammer, friend and hut-mate of mine, and the shrewdest
and most thinking man among us. He, who was ever alert to discover the
reason of what was unusual, was attracted one day by the appearance of
a particular boulder in the valley. It was different from the others in
that it had upon it many outstanding points and bulges, as if the stone
were harder in those spots and had yielded less to the chippings of the
cold, heat and storms or whatever might make it grow smaller with time.
He picked a small rock from the ground and struck a heavy blow upon one
slender projection, longer than his hand, thinking to break it off, but
it did not break; it only bent instead. Then, indeed, was the curiosity
of Hammer aroused mightily. He would have that strange projection!
Fiercely and strenuously he pounded upon it, and very wearily, at last,
for he had set himself a serious task, though he finally succeeded in
loosening the prong from the rock after long battering of it back and
forth. He held in his hand something well worthy of his study.

Hammer brought to our hut the red piece, which surely was not of the
rock itself, and much we considered of what it might be and of what use
it could be made to us. That last thought took but little time. Hammer
decided it:

“It will not break,” he said; “it will only bend, and that not easily,
yet it may be hammered into many shapes. Such hammering it shall have.
I will make a spear-head such as men have never seen!” He took the
fragment of metal and one of the heaviest of our stone hammers and went
with them to the hard flat boulder in the ravine and there began his

All that afternoon came to our ears in the village the sound of the
hammering at the rock. I did not go there, for I had other things to
do out in the lower hills where I had seen a group of little deer, and
where I thought I might get a chance at one as they came from the wood
at sundown. I got none, and darkness had come when I reached our hut
again and found Hammer by the fire, whereon he had roasted meat, which
tasted good to both of us. I asked concerning his labour, and he showed
me the piece of copper.

What a change had come to it! Very nearly in the shape of a spear-head
it was now, and fine to look upon in its bright redness. Hammer said he
had not sought to do more when the light began to fail, for the work
must be finer now and he must use a lighter hammer. He was at the rock
again in the early morning and wrought all day again, meanwhile having
lying on the rock beside him as he worked the best and most beautifully
shaped stone spear-head that we owned, one of the hardest flint, most
perfect in its form and so polished by rubbing upon sandstone and
afterward with the bark of trees that it was as smooth as the shell
of a beechnut. This Hammer used as a model, and the “tap-tapping” of
his light hammer of stone upon the metal was like the tapping of a
woodpecker who never wearied. He would not show me that night what he
had accomplished, but said that his task would be done in the day to
come. At night when we met again in the hut he showed me the copper

It was something wonderful, that spear-head. It was smoother than any
stone one ever made, for Hammer had tapped so gently, at the end, that
there was left no trace of indentation, and afterward he had polished
it until now it glittered in the firelight. Its edge was better than
could be given to any stone knife, and, Hammer told me, it could be
ground upon our sandstone whetstones, or if it became dulled, could be
easily hammered into sharpness again. It could not be broken! There was
no other such spear-head in the world--and we could make others like it!

There was such excitement in the village as had not often been known
before when Hammer, who had set the spear-head in its shaft, displayed
it to the tribe. There was wonder and great envy and desire and a
demand that henceforth Hammer should do naught else but make such
spear-heads, that each might possess one and so the tribe be made
superior to all about us. And Hammer promised this, if only they would
bring to him the copper with which to work, and he told of how he had
found that which he had. This was agreed upon, and soon as many men
as could work together were assailing the copper-holding boulder with
their heaviest hammers and mauls of stone. A weary task must it be to
break that rock to pieces, but the hammers were of a harder stone than
it, and all day the blows were falling and in time each scrap of copper
which it held must needs be in our possession.

And, as it had been agreed upon, so it came to pass, though long was
the labour. Strips and bits and fragments of copper of all sizes, from
those fitted for arrow-heads and spear-heads up to those large enough
for axes, were gained from the gradually crushed rock, and Hammer, whom
I now aided, laboured from dawn until night. The time came when each
man in the tribe bore proudly a shining copper spear-head and when
some had axes or copper arrow-heads as well. It was a great thing, but
the rock was gone! Where could we get more copper? There was none to
answer, and upon this problem Hammer and I thought much and discussed
it many times.

The matter, as well it might, had become one meaning much to all of
us. We were not a tribe at all mighty as to numbers, but here had come
to us what, were it to continue, would lift us above all others, for
we would have the best of weapons and, furthermore, that which would
enable us to get by barter whatever others had which we most desired.
What allies we could make! No little thing in those days was such
alliance, when warfare for spoil alone was not uncommon and none of the
weak was safe without a strong alliance. And what other good might
come to a tribe with such a possession held by itself alone! All saw
the need we had--a puny force, an offshoot from a greater one which
long since had moved to the western forests and of whom we had lost all
trace. Less than half a thousand of us were in the village, and, though
we were most prosperous and content, we knew not what might come. Far
up toward the north and west of the new land we were, and in a region
of scattered forests and bright rivers and wild vines and nuts and
fruits. There was a stream behind the village; there was an abundance
of game; the women tilled a little, giving us a store of wheat and
barley; we had sturgeon from the not far distant greater river to which
we made expeditions at times, and there were the little half-wild
horses to give us food in any strait. The winters were not severe,
though the snow fell deeply and sometimes the famished wolves were out,
but all the rest of the year was beautiful and bountiful to us. Nomads,
mere wanderers, our forefathers may have been, but upon us had come at
last something of the home-clinging way. What better place to guard
and, if need be, fight for? So it came that we were glad of whatever
might make us greater and stronger, and we were proud and glad of what
had come from the copper rock, and disquieted because we knew not where
to find another like it.

Long, one night, were Hammer and I debating in our hut concerning what
had become the common problem. To both of us it seemed that there must
be more than a single rock in all the world which held that which we

“And it is not distant,” said Hammer, “this other rock of the same
kind; there may be a host of rocks.” Then he spoke still more
earnestly. “We, even you and I, are the ones. We must seek more copper
and we shall find it. It lies somewhere in the gorges, surely! Will you
come with me until we have gone far enough and searched most closely?
What greater thing could we be doing? Will you come with me?”

As he well knew, he need not have asked the question. I had long since
become as earnest as was he in the great thing upon which so depended
our fortunes and the fortunes of all our tribe. Surely I consented,
for I had lost myself in the fancy for this wonderful new adventure of
search and labour which might assure us weapons and many other things
of a different and better sort, and give to us of the plains and hills
an advantage over all other tribes. I had become a joyous copper-seeker
and earnest artisan! My fortunes should be henceforth joined with those
of Hammer, as he would have it, and as it was now pledged. What if we
should somewhere find the red substance in abundance and perhaps not so
firmly imbedded in such rock! What things would happen then! Utterly
abandoned were we now in this quest to come. What cared we for the
women or the breaking of the horses or the wild chase of the stag or
urus? A greater thing was ours! Soon were we prepared for the journey,
the course of which we had not yet determined, except that it must
follow the base of the low mountain range and lead up its many valleys
and gorges and canyons until, if fortune were with us, we had come upon
what we sought.

Straight descendants of the first Tamers were we, so our legends
said, and there were horses with us, though many other tribes had not
yet learned to tame and use them, or sometimes count upon them for
meat. Should we take horses? It was finally decided between us that we
should, since with the region close about us we were of course well
acquainted, and searching would be wasted in it, and it would be a
day’s journey afoot along the base of the range, which trended to the
southwest, before we could reach the place where began the succession
of upward extending ravines in which we hoped to find more of the red
metal. We hoped this, not from any definite belief, but because so
many of these openings resembled the one in which Hammer had made the
first discovery. After we had reached the first of these we could turn
our horses loose, knowing that they would find their way back to the

We caught our rough little steeds, small, hairy and shaggy, but sinewy
and enduring, and, with ropes of hide about our shoulders, fastened to
us the heavy hammers we hoped to need, and, after the usual struggle
with the animals, got fairly on our way. A half day’s ride brought
us to the first ravine, and then we took off the rawhide halters,
which were our only bridles, and let the horses go. They started back
whinnying and galloping. The horse of the time took most unkindly to
the carrying of any burden. He was to learn much concerning that matter
very soon.

Two of the openings of the hills we explored most thoroughly that
day. They were not at a great distance from each other and were very
much alike--narrow gorges or ravines with narrow bottoms and almost
perpendicular sides. We found nothing to even remind us of the sort of
rock in which Hammer had discovered copper in the first place. We took
up our march again and, just at nightfall, came to an opening, not so
narrow and gloomy in appearance as the others. This we would explore in
the morning, and so we lay down for the night before a little fire we
had built. It was early autumn and was not cold.

The old men in the tribe do not all have the same thoughts as to
dreams, the things which come in the night when one is sleeping and
make him think he is alive at some other place, or, at least, seeing
and doing other things than those which are. Those whom I think are the
most sensible say that dreams are as nothing, but others say that they
mean much and may speak of the past or even foretell what is to come. I
know nothing of it, but I know that I dreamed much as I lay beside the
fire that night, and that I thought myself, first, in a land of lakes
and strange abodes supported above the water, and that, later, I was
again searching with Hammer for the rocks with the red metal in them.
I dreamed, too, that we came to a small round mountain that was made
up altogether of copper, and that all around it was more of the copper
made into spears and arrow-heads and knives and axes and all manner of
other things we needed in our huts. It was a very foolish dream, but it
made me pleased when I woke in the night, though, as I have said, I had
no faith in such things.

It was a wonderfully shining morning which came to us and, as we ate,
I still kept my high spirits from the dream and was so filled with
cheer and made such buoyant talk that Hammer said I must have arisen
early and gone into the forest and eaten of a root which, it was said,
would make men laugh. I cared not. I was most courageous and full of
lightness. I felt that the Things, the makers of happenings, in which
we believed a little, though heeding little as well, were going to
smile upon us some time that day. Of this I spoke afterward to Hammer
many times.

We started up the opening in the hills, and the prospect was fairer
than we had seen yet. It was not a gorge, but wide enough to be almost
like a narrow ascending valley, and its sides were not perpendicular,
but sloping and bearing many stunted oaks and pines, and shrubbery,
as did the bottom. Over the bottom were distributed boulders of all
sizes, and some of them appeared certainly not to have come from the
mountainsides adjoining, so different were they in appearance from the
rock of the sloping walls. Such a thing I had often seen, however,
and I thought little of it. Hardly had we entered the gap than we
began testing the rocks with our heavy hammers, battering away at them
until the moss and incrustations of any kind were knocked away and the
nature of the rocks made clear to us. Our hammers, which I have not yet
described, were most excellent for this. They were of much weight and
of the hardest kind of stones of proper size that we could find in our
region. These stones, half as large as a man’s head, we had grooved
around, after much labour in the chipping, and, fitting in the grooves
and holding firmly, had laid withes of the toughest willow, which were
twisted into handles of the length we wanted. So we made hammers which
would crush the common rock most easily. Never were better hammers
than these of the hard, unbreaking porphyry and greenstone, though
these were not the names we called them, if, indeed, we gave them
names at all. It was sufficient that they served our purpose well.
So we hammered our way up the slope, but found nothing to reward us.
At midday we rested for a time and ate, and then took up our testing
again, not far from each other, with Hammer, as it chanced, a little in
the lead. We had not gone half a furlong when there came from him the
longest, loudest and most ear-splitting yell I had ever heard. I was
with him in a moment.

Hammer was standing beside a rock of about the height of his shoulder.
It was, in a general way, not unlike the rocks through which we had
passed, but it had the difference that it was not altogether smooth of
surface and that here and there upon it obtruded lumps and points. One
of these points Hammer had smitten in his testing and now it glittered
in the sun, a spike of purest copper! There could be no mistake about
it. We had found what we were seeking. In that one rock, could we but
in any way break it apart, were hundreds of the new and amazing weapons
which were such prizes. We attacked the most obtruding and slender and
most promising of the outstanding parts with our great hammers, working
most feverishly until we sweated like the wild boar at the end of the
long hunt. I won in the race, and very proud I was. The spikelike mass
upon which I hammered, beating it back and forth and this way and that,
parted at last from the mass and fell to the ground only a moment
before that upon which Hammer had been spending his mighty blows. We
had what would make a spear-head apiece, enough in themselves to have
made our journey worth while!

All day we laboured, beating off some half-score of the red
protuberances, and then, to breathe ourselves, went farther up the
somewhat narrowing valley to learn whether or not there were other
rocks of the kind which meant so much to us. One other we found, to
our great delight, but one only, though we followed the defile until
it lost itself in what was little more than a crevice in the now close
looming mountainside.

We resolved that for two days we would labour on the rocks and that
then we would return to the village, where Hammer would work upon the
copper we had gained, and I would return with others to do what we
could with further hammering of the two rocks and make, perhaps, some
further search. That plan we did not carry out. It was about the middle
of the afternoon of the first of these two days when I heard from the
forest of beech and oak which lay at the foot of the slope the call
of the grouse--doubtless feeding on the many nuts. We had, in our
excitement and absorption, been eating only of the dried food we had
brought with us, and my stomach clamoured for roasted grouse as soon
as the cries of the birds reached me. It affected Hammer as it did me,
and I took my bow and arrows from where they were left at our sleeping
place and crept into the forest. There were grouse in abundance there
and soon I had a pair big enough and fat enough to satisfy even such
labourers as we with a supper worth the eating. I had gone well into
the wood in my hunting, and now strode swiftly toward the gap, paying
little attention to what was about me. So carelessly did I walk that I
stumbled sharply against a small rock which lay half hidden beneath the
brown leaves which were beginning to fall thickly. I glanced downward
at the obstacle, which was a flattish stone not a quarter of a yard
across, and, I know not why, save that I was at this time curious about
all rocks, stooped and turned it over. Its bottom, clean upon the sand,
was red! It was copper! Then went out from me a yell which could by no
means have been less mighty than was that of Hammer when he had found
the rich rock in the defile. He could have heard me from anywhere.
His answering shout came back, and soon he was with me looking upon
what I had discovered. We stood there silently for a moment and then
involuntarily looked about us. Among the beech leaves on every side
lay smaller or greater rocks of similar kind. We turned some of them
over. They were copper, seemingly almost pure and not so great of size
that they could not be beaten apart. Then, it seems to me, that for a
time we lost our senses. We shouted to each other without meaning and
capered about like wolves in the moonlight. We could not but know that
a new thing, one of the greatest ever known, had come to men, and that
we and our tribe would be the first to own it in abundance. No longer
at this time would we trifle with the two rocks in the valley!

Long we talked that night beside our fire, glorying in our good fortune
and wondering, too, not a little, how it could be that copper should
exist in such a form. Much we speculated and suggested of this strange
thing which had brought such fortune to us. Hammer thought it possible
that the red metal was something which grew of itself where there were
the things in the earth and water which gave such growth, whatever it
was it needed for its formation and sustenance, but in this I could
not agree with him. I could not believe that anything that was hard as
rock and did not change its shape as the trees and plants did, could
really grow of itself. I believed that all solid things must have been
so always and that, if they were found out of what seemed to have been
their place, they must have been moved by something else, it might be
by men--though that could hardly be so with huge rocks--or by great
floods, or, it might be, by the ice, which, in ages gone, had crept
down from the far north and pushed many things before it. No one could
tell. Perhaps the copper had not moved far at most. It might have come
down from the mountains. We ended the talk as vain; it was sufficient
that we had found what we sought. We had much to do on the morrow.

At daylight we took up our journey for the village, carrying with us
only what we had beaten from the rocks, and one of the smallest of the
fragments we had found among the beeches and oaks. Henceforth our work
with copper was to be in a different way. We had reasoned upon it and
had decided what we would do. At first it had seemed wise to move our
belongings to where the metal lay to our hand, but there were other
things to be considered.

The mouth of the wide ravine where Hammer had found the first
red-pronged rock, near a blasted and hollow tree trunk, faced the
village squarely, and, fortunately for him, there also stood near an
almost square boulder of the hardest stone, of about half its height,
which served him as an anvil. Such another rock it would be hard to
find in a convenient locality, and we had seen none like it in the
beech wood or in the ravine of the two rocks on which we had been
working. It would cost labour to transport the metal from the wood to
the village, but, once it was there, it would be where we could most
easily convert it into weapons. We would be near the village and all
its conveniences, and, besides, we would be where those would come
who wished to barter, as we knew they must in time. Little traffic
had there been between the tribes, however friendly they might be, at
any time, for the things possessed were very much alike and, besides,
the bartering was something new. Our ancestors did not barter. They
took what they wanted or, if not strong enough, must go without it.
Relations had changed, and now men were engaged in fighting each other
only part of the time. Now a new reason for trade had come, and we felt
its importance and its promise. So it was resolved between us that the
forging should be done in the ravine facing the village, and the copper
brought from where we had found it in the wood. We could use our little

It is hard to tell how great was the excitement in the village when we
showed what we had with us, and the news of our discovery went about.

Excellent and very curious was the story of our tribe from that same
day. There began a new life, for we had another interest now than
mere living upon what the earth and land and water might give us for
the eating or the wearing. Surely never before did a tribe of men so
change in character, because never before had arisen conditions so
splendidly compelling. I devised double pouches from the skins we had,
one to hang on each side of a horse, and the youth of the tribe were
set at work bringing the copper rocks from the distant forest, while
men there toiled to break the larger ones to fragments suited for such
carrying. There was a procession of boys and horses between the village
and the treasure ground, and soon there arose a small mountain of the
copper rocks beside the stone anvil near the great tree trunk, and the
sound of hammering never ceased. I worked with Hammer at the shaping,
as did two other men, and it was not long, since the anvil rock would
accommodate but four workers, before we had rolled down from farther up
the valley four or five more of the hard rocks to also serve as they
might for other anvils, though to accomplish this required many men as
did the later hard work in chipping the tops of the new rocks down to
the proper level. Then still more of the men were set to work to learn
the way of the hammering and shaping, and became expert according to
their gifts, though none could ever hope to equal the way of Hammer.
How he rejoiced in his own skill! There appeared nothing he could not
fashion from the glittering copper brought to him. With mighty blows at
first he would beat the metal more nearly into the shape desired than
could any other of us while wielding the heaviest hammers, and then,
such crude shape gained, it was marvellous to watch him. He played
with the thing as if he loved it. The sound of his beating, as he
changed from each hammer to a lighter one in his fashioning, was like
the slope from hand to finger tip, until the gentle “tap-tap” could be
scarcely heard and beneath his hand lay, finally, such perfect weapon
or utensil as had never been before. Once, in sheer bravado it may be,
he devised and made a brooch so delicate and fine and beautiful that
all stood wondering, and there came dark looks and jealousies among
both men and women, but he gave the splendid bauble to the most aged of
the women, saying that old women had once been young, and so the faces
brightened. Very wise was Hammer in his way, and both he and I were
above the woman hunger. As for the lucky beldame, she was the proudest
among us all and would surely die most unwillingly, since, now, the
world was so good!

We went together, Hammer and I, and more thoroughly explored the
forest and found that the “float” there, as we had called it, would
last perhaps a lifetime at the rate we were using it, and found also
that there were many of the copper boulders in the ravines and glens
farther along the mountainsides than we had explored at first. This
discovery it was which caused me to have a new belief as to whence the
copper had come. One of the heights of the range had once been a fire
mountain, as was easy to see from where its vomitings had run down the
valleys, and was it not possible that the copper had thus been tossed
up from the very bowels of the earth? This I thought must be true, and
Hammer agreed with me regarding the thing. So concerning that we gave
no further thought. It came at last that those working in and about
the forest built themselves huts there and that another village arose,
though not a large one, and it came, too, that others built huts along
what was now become a beaten highway such as never had been seen, and
so we were for a time a long and straggling community. Then came
another change and a most potent one.

Some leagues to the north of us was a village of a strong tribe with
whom we had always been on close and pleasant terms, for they were of
our own blood and so we understood each other well. Thus it chanced
that they were the first to barter with us for our excellent copper
weapons and that there was much commingling of the people and, as a
consequence, from that man-woman happening which always seems to come
when the youth of each kind are brought much together, the young men
and women of each tribe began taking each other for mates and so the
commingling became still closer and better. Then followed what was most
wise. There was held a council of the chief men of each tribe, in which
Hammer and I had much to say, and it was decided that the two should
join and that the formidable tribe thus made should build its village
upon the copper fields. There were shelter and water and streams, and
game and fish, and it was a fine village site in every way. And thus
it came. Barriers were built that we might defy all enemies. Not a
man or youth but had keen copper-headed spear and arrows and knife
and axe and was trained in the sharpening and care of them. We were
bravely weaponed. Not always, though, did we use the copper arrows,
for they were too precious to be shot lightly in the hunting, those
made of stone still serving for the killing of the smaller game. Then
followed a small thing which proved in the end a great one: a youth of
the tribe, that he might not easily lose his copper arrows, had tied
the scarlet feather of a bird to each arrow shaft close to its end in
a little groove, that it might not hit the bow and mar his shooting.
The brilliant feather would reveal the arrow wherever it might chance
to fall, which was a good thing. But more came of it. The youth soon
learned that an arrow flew more smoothly and evenly and that with it
thus feathered he was far surer of his game. This was counted a curious
thing, and some held that the red colour made a spell or charm and so
guided the arrow rightly, but with the trying of other feathers of any
colour, even those from the drab geese, it was found that they served
as well. The gray goose shaft sufficed. It was most curious, but it was
a potent thing, and soon all arrows were thus feathered and the tribe
became the greatest of all archers. Bad would it be for any foeman who
might attack us. Much I thought upon this thing and of how always it
seemed that one discovery was followed in its needs and new calls by

There happened about this time another thing most interesting to us
all and fine in its results, following what was conceived by Hammer.
He had long looked enviously upon the smaller boulder of the two we
had found in the canyon, because it seemed so full of copper of the
finest quality, though we paid no attention to it since we had such an
abundance of the “float” about us. He would not be denied, though I
made much sport of him.

Hammer caused a pit to be dug close beside the boulder and a little
deeper than its height, and the bottom of this he had filled with
the dryest of wood. Then he brought to the pit’s side a veritable
mountain of wood as dry, and was ready for the test. The strong men of
the tribe were summoned and there was a great upheaval of the rock
with levers, and it was tumbled down upon its bed of wood, which was
promptly fired. As the flames rose other wood was heaped upon the rock
until it was hidden from view, and so, night and day, was the great
hot fire continued, men bringing more fuel all the time and working
by watches to keep at reddest heat the bed of coals in the midst of
which the rock lay. None cared to approach very near that astounding
fire. It was on the fourth night that the climax came, and well it was
for the firemen at the time that they were resting behind a boulder at
a little distance from the flames, for there came an explosion which
fairly lifted the village from its sleep and sent that copper rock in
fragments in all directions. Great was the reward of the experiment,
and it was good that we should thus learn what fire could do.

And ever our bartering increased with the tribes on every side. Those
distant purchased the new weapons and those still farther away saw and
must have them, until our community became the most prosperous, as
it was becoming the most numerous, in all that far-extending country
of plain and hill and forest. There came even some from that huge
illimitable forest to the south, peopled by the tall strong men who had
come from the far East even as had come our own people, though at some
different time, albeit with these our trading was but a little, for
they were fierce and dangerous and we cared not much for their close
acquaintance, despite our growing strength. As for Hammer and me, we
were growing older and less inclined to risk or venture. Yet there was
no abatement in our constant thought of all that might be done with the
red copper. There followed a time when Hammer spoke less often and
seemed lost in some new thought. One day he told me of it.

“If,” he said, “we could only melt and mould the copper!” And he said
also, “You and I will go to the village and work there a while and try
to do certain things.” So I went with him.

The flat rock which had been our anvil was in its place, and sound as
ever, seemingly, stood the hollow tree trunk near it, and I saw that
it was at this trunk with the hollow opening at its bottom that Hammer
looked first and examined most carefully. In the times of our working
here I had noticed one thing about this opening at the base of the
trunk--that, especially when the wind blew up the valley, it roared and
whistled up the trunk through the opening and even drew curvingly the
flames of any fire which chanced to be made near it. Could it be this,
I thought, that was now in the mind of Hammer? I was not mistaken.

He called to the men in the village and bade them bring from the banks
of the stream behind the village a great quantity of the soft tenacious
clay such as we used in making our pottery, at which work both men and
women among us were most skilful, and this clay he spread upon the
earth in and before the opening, thus making a clay platform. He also
plastered the inside of the trunk upward as far as he could reach,
with this same clay; then upon the clay platform he made a fire, not
too high, and fed this fire until nightfall, and for some time later.
Then we slept, for we were older men now and cared not to work into the

The clay floor and the clay above it were well baked when we came to
the tree in the morning, though not yet enough, Hammer said, yet he did
not at once rebuild the fire, but sent for a slender and knowing lad of
the village to whom he gave a task of merit. The youth was to wriggle
his slim body through the opening and ascend and plaster the trunk
inside from bottom to top! It was a feat, but the youngster was equal
to it, with the aid provided him. The men cut down a tree and from it
took a long slender limb equal to the height of the dead trunk, and
sheared off its twigs and many side branches, leaving always enough of
each to make a foothold. They climbed the trunk and drew up the limb
and let it down inside and thus provided the boy with a sort of ladder
from which to do his work. The clay was passed up to him at first and
later slung down to him from the top in a skin pouch which one of the
men drew up. Two days it required for the resolute lad to complete the
work well, but at its end he had bestowed upon him such spear-head and
arrows and knife and hatchet of glittering copper as made him mightiest
of small warriors and loftiest of men among a thousand. Then in the
clay-bottomed and lined old tree trunk a mighty fire was built by
Hammer and kept going until the clay was turned to brick. He had made a
furnace! The fire roared up the opening as if drawn by all the demons
of the sky in time of storm.

Now Hammer took a lump of the clay and, working very carefully, pressed
down into it, to half its thickness, a copper axe; upon this he laid
a part, exceedingly thin, of the bladder of a stag, and afterward he
pressed down more of the clay, so that the axe was all embedded save
a portion of its handle; he then left the mess to dry for a time in
the sun, and later heated it for a long time in a fire outside. When
he drew it forth and it had cooled, the wooden handle outside the clay
was burned away, and, by a little careful prying, the two halves of
the mould which had been separated by the bladder came apart. These he
fitted together again and enclosed in another mass of clay, leaving
open only the opening into the hollow mould. The clay was set upon the
ground, with the hole upward.

Next Hammer brought from the village a covered earthen pot, not very
deep, into one side of which he made a hole to receive the end of a
long handle of wood, though before he put the handle in he covered it
also with clay which he baked about it in a long fire. He had now a
vessel which he could thrust unharmed into even such a dreadful furnace
as he had made within the base of the tree. Into it he placed half a
dozen ingots of the purest copper and thrust it, with its lid on, into
the white-red heart of the flaming coals. The long handle was propped
into place upon a crotch near the flames, and then we fed the fire, and

The day passed into the night, one of us awake at all times and feeding
the raging furnace as it needed. Morning came, and then Hammer, who had
been sleeping last, arose and looked at me and beckoned. Together we
neared the white-hot mass of coals and embers and, taking hold of the
long handle very carefully, withdrew the pot from where it rested in
the eye-blistering furnace. We took it away from the fire and rested
it a moment on the ground, while, with a long stick in hand, Hammer
lifted off the still red cover. Then rose such a yell of triumph as
had not been heard since we found the copper in the forest. The metal
had melted! We did not speak. Carefully as men had ever performed an
action, and holding the ungainly handle firmly, we poured the molten
stuff into the hole in the awaiting mold. It filled and overflowed and
ran upon the ground, but we cared not. What was left we poured into a
hollow in the soil and then threw ourselves upon the ground to wait
again. It was noon when we broke away the clay, and later, when the
mould had cooled enough to be handled, the two parts separated easily
and there came forth a copper axe! The great thing was accomplished!
It was not a perfect axe, but it would be so after a little grinding
and polishing. Henceforth the making of copper things would be done in
a new and easier way. Furthermore, one man, two men indeed, would die
something more content. The tribe--the whole world--had a part in what
had come that day!

And now for a time there were life and labour and clamour in the old
village again, because of the tree furnace and the convenient clay, but
later we learned to build a better furnace and to provide at the forest
village all things required for easier casting. With the training to
the labour from the getting of the copper to the time when it was made
into weapons or other things, there came, too, a new orderliness and
sense of what was best among us, and we established what was something
like a government; in a council of the older men, and less like the
ways of the barbarian, we sometimes met who had no law save that of
might. We feared them not, though once the ever-dreaded westward drift
from we know not where brought to our doors a small horde of barbarians
who thought to overrun us easily, but who fell in windrows at our
barricades before such archery as ours, or died beneath our copper
spears and axes and fled, a remnant, to seek somewhere an easier
conquest. There were not too many left for such adventure, and the
tribe next to us, a strong and warlike one, received them fiercely and
finished them completely.

But Hammer and I were growing old now and, to me especially, came a
weakness which I could not overcome. I was sick long and was well
tended, though it did not avail, I know not why, for I had but little
pain and still helped to advise, as was my duty as one of the elder
council, and still felt every interest in the welfare of my prosperous
tribe. Prosperous indeed it was, for now we and what we possessed
were known to all. From far and wide came the riches of the time to
us--many things--deep furs from the north, amber from the western sea,
and a host of other things of worth. And, as the barter grew, so did
a greater acquaintance between the tribes of all the land, and all
learned much and came to understand each other better and what was
beyond the region of each. All this because of our great discovery and
of what we had done with it!

And might there not yet, I dreamed, be hidden in the rocks other and
even more useful metals which men would sometimes find and smelt? These
thoughts pleased me much in the days when I lay helpless and weakening
from day to day, and much I spoke of them in the times when Hammer sat
beside me after bringing such food as I could eat. But it was not for



I had been sleeping, pleasantly enough, though dreaming of a noisy
clanging of hammers in a forest. I awoke to find myself stretched
lazily upon the sand, to hear the lapping of waves and look out upon
blue waters to the westward, it must be, for it seemed afternoon and
the sun was not far above the waters, a little to the left as I faced
it. I rose to my feet and looked toward the east and there saw a host
of palm trees, beyond them green hills, and beyond these, mountains.
From the beach the land lay level to the hills and, not far from the
shore and among the palm trees, were many huts with people moving about
among them. Near where I had been lying were a number of boats hauled
out upon the sand, which boats I studied curiously. They did not seem
unknown to me, but I was still half-sleeping, for the sea and the air
and the day were drowsy, and the leaves upon the palm trees were idle.

Not from the trunk of some great tree had any one of these boats
been hewn and hollowed. They were made in quite another manner, with
a framework, and keel and ribs of heavy wood, and a sheathing, with
the seams made water-tight by caulking, and carried oars instead of
paddles. Very good boats they seemed to me, and fit for riding rough
water, and, as my sleep-clogged senses cleared, I knew, for had I not
helped to build them? Most excellent boats they were, and I could see
still larger and finer ones drawn to the beach at a greater distance
from me, and others riding the waters of the fair harbour made by the
semicircling curve of land. From where the larger boats were hauled up
to the shore there came a shout:

“Haste thee, Scar; we go out for the fishing!”

I hurried toward the boat, for I knew what was my present duty since
there were but six of us to man the boat, which made but a scanty crew.
We were not to row far, however, only to a place nearby the islands
where the fishing was most promising, so that all the oarsmen usual
were not needed. My companions were already in their places when I
reached them, and lightly chided me for my delay. I took my seat upon
the rowing bench and grasped an oar and soon we were sweeping toward
a passage between the islands. There were in all the world no better
seamen than we of the Phœnicia which had begun to live fairly with the
founding of our village, Akko.

We were not great people as compared with these who were behind the
mountains of Lebanon, which protected us on the east--there were as
yet but some five thousand of us to occupy the narrow land between the
mountains and the sea--but we had prospered greatly since venturing
from the home of our forefathers, where the great Euphrates finds the
southern ocean. It was well for us that we had found this palm and wild
vine-clad country, rock-walled and safe as might be from invasion, and
had taken up our abode here, and sent to our kindred telling them of
the soil’s richness and of the many spoils of the sea, and so they
were following us, band after band, forming new villages to the north
along the coast. Of these were Sidon and Tyre, though as yet they
were but hamlets. As for us in Akko, we could ask no better fortune
than was already ours. We were possessors of only this close-bounded
and curtailed domain--but what a land! Never was one fairer or richer
or better suited to the needs of such as we. The palms which grew in
forests along the sea-lapped sand and wide beaches supplied abundant
timber for our houses, while for our ships!--already our great biremes
were becoming stately--there were the cedars of Lebanon thick upon
the range behind us, and oak and other woods of strength. Back of the
sandy coast belt was the fertile plain, yet to become a region of
gardens and orchards and cornfields, a land for the pomegranate and
the orange. Still further back rose the green, low-lying hills, great
slopes whereon would grow most healthily the vine, the olive and the
mulberry, all of which we cultivated zealously, and then, as the hills
rose into mountains, came the ruder spaces clothed here and there with
forests of oaks, chestnut, sycamore and terebinth, and, best of all,
the mighty cedars, of which I have already told. There were harbours
at points along the coast, made naturally by the many small islands
which formed a barrier against the incoming sea. We were settled in a
land of abundance and one also of safety and security, for from the
mountains at the south ran out a great promontory ending in a precipice
at the sea and rounded by only a narrow path, while to the north were
defences, raised by nature, not less formidable. To the west of us in
our front lay the great sea, the Mediterranean, as men learned to call
it, blue as the sky above it, teeming with the fish we needed, and
treasure-bottomed because of the rare things which, by lucky happening,
we found there. Far in the offing above the tideless waters could be
seen a dim blue speck where the sky and water blended, the island
Yatnan--the Cyprus of the future--an island of kindly people to be some
time followed by others called the Greeks, with whom we were already
beginning to do a little trading.

For we were traders! Traders, boat-builders and sea adventurers were
we, above all other peoples. The world had learned to barter, it may be
from those who had first discovered copper, which all men needed and
for which they would exchange that which they had, and we were those
who had already made bartering our chief and earnest occupation. This
had been the way with us even at the mouth of the Euphrates, whence we
had come and where between contemptuous Babylonian and rude Assyrian
we had been much oppressed, and so had fled to find this treasure
strip. Warriors we had never been, though sometimes, at bay, we had
fought well, nor had we been skilful hunters within the memory of our
generation. Dark-haired and swarthy, sprouted from an ancient race to
the south, some said, we had come to this new land to make, if we might
be favoured of our dark god, a better future. Most skilled were we in
the many arts, but better still, for us, in traffic in that which we
made. We dealt much with the stronger races which endured but did not
mingle with us. Now we were to trade from our own land as a vantage
ground. The outcome was what no man could dream.

We had built our houses at Akko and had sowed our fields and planted
our trees and vines and had builded our boats, and in them had already
begun to range the coasts for such trade as might be found, though not
so far at first, because as yet we had few goods for barter save the
fine linen which the women wove so well, and wool, and cedar timber,
and besides, we were not yet acquainted with the strange shores. Our
first trade, as I have said, was with the people of the large island
Yatnan, which was so near to us, and from this alone arose in time a
mighty business of ours, for in Yatnan was much copper, and the people
were such we did not fear. Soon, too, there came to us such aid from
what the sea gave us, that our traffic, we were assured, must surpass
all we had hoped for, our fabrics having given to them suddenly a value
never known before.

The bireme in which we went to the fishing was shared with me in its
ownership by my comrades Aradnus and Malchus, and it was to Malchus
that our people owed a part of their coming vast good fortune. Malchus
had many fancies, and among these was one for a collection of the
glittering different shells we found upon the shore or in the waters we
dredged for shell-fish, of which there were many edible and nourishing.
Once in an oyster he had found a pearl of quality, and so it came
that he was ever curious to learn what his shells might hold. Much we
derided him for his useless searching, but he made answer only that
there were many things yet to be learned, and the issue proved him
right. Among the shell-fish counted useless by us, because we found
them tasteless, were two kinds, each of spiral form and ending in a
rounded head, but one sort more rough and spinous than the other.
It was after breaking one of each sort of these twisted shells that
Malchus discovered a curious thing.

With a stone, Malchus cracked the shells apart upon a smooth rock where
he could observe them closely. That of one sort thus broken and the
creature within it shown, there appeared a shell-fish having a sort of
sac behind its head, this sac extending into a sort of vein traversing
the body, the whole filled with a liquid whitish in colour and having
the smell of garlic. This liquid chanced to gather in a tiny pool in
the surface of the rock and, even as Malchus studied it, wondering
what its use to the fish might be, it changed before his eyes, as the
air reached it, from yellow-white to green, then blue and red, then a
deep purple-red and, finally, to crimson, which last colour did not
pass away. In the shell of the rougher kind he found a creature with a
sac which showed also changing colours, though somewhat different of
shade. Much Malchus wondered and, at last, he sought a piece of linen
and dipped it in the liquid and found he had a cloth of brighter colour
than ever known before. He had discovered a wondrous dye! More of the
shell-fish were soon collected and there was much experiment with the
dyeing, for we all were full of interest now, and it was found, in the
end, that by first dyeing with the matter in the sac of the smoother
shell-fish, which was abundant on the rocks near shore, and later with
that from the rougher kind, which was found in deeper water, there was
gained a purple so royal and brilliant that no other in the world could
by any means compare with it. Dark and rich it was, like red blood
cooled, and, as it was shifted in the light, a blazing crimson. The
rocks and the sea-bottom were covered with myriads of these strange
shell-fish, which we caught with baited basket traps let down, and soon
our varied cloths gleamed with such hues as would command the desire of
all who might look upon them. A marvellous new thing had we for barter,
and in the end it brought great fortune, though not all of it remained
to Akko. There came a time when vast beds of the shell-fish, and of
even more productive quality, were found near swiftly expanding Tyre,
and great dyeing was done there, and trade came widely in the colouring
and its fabrics until priests, senators, emperors, and the great of all
the known world must garb themselves in Tyrian purple as most worthy
of their dignity. Surely never were a people’s fortunes so affected as
were ours by what might be deemed so small a thing as the juice in the
head of a sea creature!

But this discovery of the purple dye had but lately come and diverted
us only a little from a host of things of greater purport. Our boats
and our plans for our sea-roving as we might extend it, were what
absorbed us chiefly. Nowhere were better boats than those we had
already learned to build, but we were ever seeking their improvement,
since our fortunes were dependent upon them. Biremes, as our boats or
ships of the better sort were called, were better than those owned by
our fathers, not short and rounded and caulked with bitumen, as had
been the boats of only a little time before us, but longer and caulked
with tar, which we had learned to make, and, in our latest ventures,
double-decked so that the oarsmen could work below while their masters
were above them. Good ships were these, riding the rough seas well,
and much we prized them. Our only lack was in the oarsmen. We needed
galley-slaves, and had but few, and oftentimes the trader and his
people must needs take care to the oars themselves. As for me and my
companions in sea ventures, we had but two, dark creatures we had found
castaways upon a bare island some distance to the south, and certainly
of some poor tribe, for the broken canoe we found with them was
crude of form and by no means fitted for a sea trip. Blown away they
doubtless were from the great continent which bounded the sea on the
south, a land almost unknown to us, though we were somewhat acquainted
with the people, ancient almost as we, who dwelt on the shores of a
great river with many mouths which came into the sea not far from
its eastern end. Intelligent the captives proved, in a slow way, and
docile enough, though possessed of enormous appetites, which we must
gratify or else lose of their strength in the rowing, but which were
nevertheless somewhat of a burden on us. However, we hired them to the
husbandmen when not upon a voyage, and so regained a little of their
keeping cost. We were ever thrifty, we Phœnicians!

More slaves we must have certainly, and it had been resolved, not
only by us of the _Spearhead_--for so we had named our sharp-prowed
boat--but by others of the traders, that cruises must be made with
that end alone in mind, and it was considered that we might find what
we sought in some of the islands which lay beyond blue Yatnan, some
of them very small and having on them, very probably, so few people
that we might make our foray safely and bring away as many captives as
our ships would carry. For this we were to band together in a fleet
and join our forces in whatever conflict came, afterward dividing the
captives by lot or in any other way we might agree upon. It was while
preparations were making for this same expedition that happenings came
which greatly changed our plan and had a mighty bearing on our future

One of those who were to take part in the expedition was a most daring
and reckless captain having the name of Neco, who but a little before
this time had made a voyage to the southward and brought back with him
to Akko a cargo of hides, for among us were skilled tanners and cunning
workers in leather who supplied many things for our trading, and hides
were always desired by them. It so chanced that upon the return voyage
of Neco some of the hides which were green and like to spoil were
stretched between poles set upright on the deck of the vessel, and that
the wind from the south, bearing hardly upon them, pressed the boat
most swiftly homeward, the craft requiring only to be steered. And this
gave Neco a great thought, and he swore by Moloch that henceforth the
wind should serve him and that the labour of the rowing should be so
avoided. So vaunting was he in this that he declared that he would yet
reach Yatnan and thus return, and the marvel of it was that he did as
he had boasted, sailing one day when the wind blew strongly from the
east, and returning when it had shifted to the west. Now his pride
became overweening, and, having made a great sheet from broad strips of
linen sewed together, he spread it nailed between tall uprights and set
sail to the southward with a fierce rising wind behind him. His ship
disappeared amid the mist and spindrift and nevermore was seen of man.
The blast must have been too much for the fixed sail, and the vessel
must have buried itself beneath the waves which rolled high upon the
day which was the last of Neco.

It would seem as if the fate of this wild adventurer should have
brought pause to any who had thought to do even as he, and to call
upon the wind in aid in passage of the sea paths, but with me it was
not so. Eagerly had I noted the feats of Neco, and it had been borne
in upon me that there was a degree of wisdom in his madness. Even his
death, of which we became assured, brought me no fear. I, too, would
seek to learn what might be done to make the wind our servant, and
I set about this swiftly, being to my wonder well supported by both
Malchus and Aradnus, who sometimes showed less hardihood than I, but
who now, strangely enough, became as deeply lost in this dream of a new
conquest for the toilers of the sea. We devised a curious plan whereby
we thought we might try the issue with less risk of our lives than had
been faced by Neco.

We knew that the greater danger from the wind was that the boat might
capsize in a storm, and our first care was to avoid this risk as best
we might, though we were resolved to test these dreaded sea-blasts
to the utmost. Truly we were half mad, but the zest of the thing had
grown upon us. If the risk were great, the stake was great as well, and
we fell together under some sort of spell of joyous madness over the
prospect of we knew not what. And this was our crafty plan!

[Illustration: “I, too, would seek to learn what might be done to make
the wind our servant”]

Often when ships laden with timber had been cast upon the rocks and
crushed, those in dire peril had escaped by lashing together as
many of the floating beams as they could, making a raft which would
not easily overturn, and so drifting by good fortune to some place of
safe landing. Our ship, so we devised, should be a raft; yet more than
that; it should be a sort of boat as well, but one unsinkable, and thus
we built it, working long with our two slaves, and hewing and spiking
the seasoned cedar timbers, of which there was a great store at hand
for purchase and of which we owned a part. For many days we hewed and
shaped and fashioned until we had a great raft some thirty forearm
cubits long, more than seven times the length of a tall man, and more
than half its length in width. Of double depth were the dried timbers
and so mortised and interset and spiked together that the whole was as
one great piece of wood not to be torn apart by the mightiest seas.
Caulked it was, though needlessly, for we knew that the water would
often come aboard, and all about the sides was raised a stout timbered
wall of the height of a man and having many openings at its bottom
that the water might escape and we might walk dry shod when seas were
calm. So much we allowed the strange craft the nature of a boat that
it was tapered to a prow at either end and, furthermore, was hewn so
that each prow swept upward from beneath, that the boat might rise on
any sloping shore. At each end provision was made for a long steering
oar such as we used on the biremes. Upon either side, amidships, was
erected a stout mast between which the broad sail of strongest linen
was stretched flatly, and in the centre was a shorter mast to which
were bound many things which were to form our cargo. There were other
short posts as well, placed here and there to serve a like purpose.
We carried our arms and much food, and many lashed casks of water we
provided, and certain chests of trinkets and some of more worthy things
to barter; for we could not guess what might be our landing-place
should our plans fail. It was decided to attempt the voyage to Yatnan
and thence homeward as our first venture. So, one afternoon when the
sun shone most fairly and the wind was from the east, we cast off the
long mooring-rope and were blown gently away to sea, while half of Akko
stood looking upon us curiously or jeering at our uncouth vessel.

We were steering for Yatnan, as we thought, but many are the things in
the laps of the gods.

Like how many things is the sea! It is like a woman, soft and smiling
and caressing, at least upon the surface; it is like a stallion pawing
and tossing his white mane; it is like a green forest bending and
heaving before the wind; it is like an unbounded sheet of shimmering,
supple glass, supine beneath a calm; and, at last, it is like a herd
of wild beasts, roaring and hungry and devouring. Let none count our
Mediterranean as harmless as compared with the mighty western ocean.
The leopard is more treacherous than the lion! Much we knew already of
the changing sea, but much more were we to learn!

The eastern wind, still strong and even, bore us steadily, though far
from swiftly, away from our own coast until the shore line became dim,
and, since it was so squarely astern of us, we found no difficulty in
steering straight for Yatnan. Even with our laggard movement we should
reach the island by daybreak, and this sailing seemed, in sooth, an
easy matter. My companions laughed and jested, and the two slaves,
relieved of all rowing, were agrin and happy. Then the breeze abated
somewhat and the wind began veering here and there, and the raft-ship
lost something of its headway, while the oar with which I myself was
steering became more and more an ineffective thing. Most irresponsive
to guidance was yet our new ship upon which we had so laboured in the
building. There arose a little black cloud in the far northwest, and,
somehow, I liked it not. I wished for the bireme!

At last the breeze died away altogether and we lay there rocked as
gently as a first-born by its mother. The little cloud in the northwest
was becoming somewhat too lusty for my taste, but as yet there was
no sign of really dangerous weather. So we swung and swayed until
the sun was low down in the west, and then the lightness changed to
something more sombre very quickly, for the cloud had extended itself
ambitiously, and the sun’s last slanting rays we failed to get. The
breeze, too, had returned, coming this time from the north and having
a greater and increasing vigour to it. The raft began to act with
even less obedience to the steering oar, strain I ever so hardly, for
the sail now took the wind endwise alone, and this could not avail.
Not long did this continue. The waves had begun to rise, though by no
means roughly, and the end of the vessel where I laboured was caught
and twirled by one of them so smartly that it lay in a new way, and in
a moment the wind had caught a hold upon the sail again and we were
turned fairly about and headed for the south, stern foremost, if,
indeed, we might be said to have a stern, since the ends of the craft
were alike in every way. We had but one resource. The steering oar
was shifted from what had been the stern to the end now made so, and
we were sailing again, with oaths or prayers in our mouths according
to the impulse of each. My own mood was not greatly either for oath or
prayer now. As the uncouth sail filled or tautened and the boat leaped
forward as clumsily as it did strenuously, the wild, fierce sense of
abandon and utter daring came back upon me in a wave and I whooped
aloud in zest of it, my comrades catching the wild unction and yelling
as loudly in the same headstrong spirit. Often since have I thought
of that audacious moment and wondered if such lifted moods might not
be sometimes but the flaming out of a new man and a greater one, to
make the most of dangerous opportunity? Have not the best deeds been
often but the issue of an outbreak, foolhardy and desperate it may have
seemed, of some strong man inspired by that for which he could give no
reason? And, launched into some course of hazard, has not man often
been so sustained throughout it that he has won his way, laughing or
cursing at every jeopardy, until he has accomplished that which was
good for him and for his kind as well? Truly the gods have curious ways!

So drove we southward half through the night, when again the wind
changed, this time carrying us to the westward, though so gradually
that Malchus, who had replaced me at the oar while I lay sleeping, held
it so skilfully and firmly that the stern was still the stern, with
which feat he was much delighted. With the morning the sun was shining
again, though the wind had not abated.

All day we ran westward upon that sea of low-rolling waves, a sea so
smooth that no water came over our boarded sides, and farther and
farther we were carried from land or means of succour in any greater
peril, but I lost none of my heedless ardour nor did either of my
companions fail me. Especially was I delighted with the usually silent
and thoughtful Aradnus, who, strangely enough, seemed to enter most
fully and delightedly into the spirit of the trying of the sail.

“It is well,” he shouted to me, as the thing bellied as far as it might
before the wind, and the foam arose a little beneath our low prow. “We
are getting much wisdom, and more is coming to us! Mark what it does!”

And well indeed marked I that sail. I did naught but study it and note
its tremendous promise, and its failings and its menace. As I studied,
there came to me slowly a new perception. Why were we so helplessly
at the mercy of this spread of linen when the wind blew? Why had we
stretched it thus immovably across our raft-ship? As I looked upon
it there came such comprehension as made me laugh at myself in sheer
derision. Man, not the sail, should be the master, and there must be a
way to make it so!

This I had noticed, that when the wind changed but a little, and so
smote the sail somewhat aslant, the raft still held by the steering
oar, kept straightly on its course, but when the shift was greater,
so that the pressure came more nearly abeam, there ensued a sudden
stoppage and we washed about unsteerable until there came another
change. This, then, I had learned, that it was not necessary that the
wind should bear squarely on the sail, but that a slanting pressure
would do almost as well and still allow us to direct our course. Then,
why not have the sail so that we could get such pressure at all times
if we willed and so have ever steerage-way? Much I pondered upon this
and at last I perceived what I thought might be the remedy.

I have not yet told, save generally, of what we had on board lashed
to the many posts, for there had been abundant room and I had made
provision for many things. There was one long chest in which I had
placed, besides our weapons, a goodly number of tools such as we
sailors used, with the thought that, should we be cast ashore, we could
build shelters for ourselves, and glad I was now that I had been so
provident. More time we would not waste before I had carried out my new
design, and so I explained its nature to the others, who comprehended
what I had in mind and who at once began the labour with me.

The two masts to which the sail was nailed were set deeply in holes
mortised squarely through the timber on either side, but, though
tightly, not so that they might not be lifted out by the heaving of
good men. Now we took chisels and hammers from the long chest and began
the making of similar square holes in a great circle amidships, the
diameter of which was the width of the broad sail. It was a task which
took us long, but the sea was calm, the chisels sharp and the hammers
heavy, and it was done at last. Just as we had the task completed it
chanced that the wind shifted so that it came squarely over one of our
sides and left us wallowing again. It was not for long. We strainingly
lifted the two masts from their sockets and so replaced them in the
new receptacles that the wind, though coming over our side, struck
them obliquely and thus again propelled us while the helm oar kept us
straightly upon our course. It was a revelation. The sail was being,
for the first time, tamed! But there was more to come, and that at once.

I sat upon one of the chests after our first moment of jubilation and
watched with pride the issue of the conquest we had made, when there
came to me a new idea beside which the first, so carried out, seemed
only a beginning! We were ploughing merrily westward now, but westward
it was not my wish to go. If, now, the wind, coming from one side of
us and pushing upon our sail obliquely could so carry us, as it were,
athwart its course, why could it not, in the same way, take us to the
eastward, were the sail turned so that the pressure of the wind would
press in the opposite direction? I leaped to my feet shoutingly and
told of what I had conceived, and forthwith we acted. The masts, or,
rather, one of them, was raised and so shifted that when it was planted
the sail took the wind upon the other side, and at once we lost headway
quiveringly, and soon were sailing eastward! Truly it was a great day
in the history of sailing, and one of vast moment to all traders and

Of where we were, save that we were far from land, I had slight
knowledge. Full half the way across the sea we must have come, for the
north wind had been a strong one while it prevailed and had hurried us
for many a league despite the heaviness of our sailing. The westward
course, as well, had been with a southward trend and it seemed to me
that it were much easier to find a port on the African shore than
otherwise. But what manner of port might await us in that strange
region? Most barbarous tribes, so the Egyptians had told, inhabited
the long reaches of sandy or rocky coast, and luckless were those who
landed there. I had no plan we were undetermined of mind as the gulls
which swept about us, but land of some sort all men who eat and drink
must some time find or perish, and we were not equipped for very long.
I counselled with Malchus and Aradnus and, in the end, we acted not
unwisely, as the event proved, though there was much to come between.
Somewhat we knew of the Egyptians, for between their land and that by
the Euphrates there had been a little trade, vast as was the distance
to be traversed, including the passage of the strait between the seas,
and we knew them as advanced in ways of learning and as generally
peaceful. They were unlikely to set upon such weak adventurers as we
and of a race which they knew. So it was decided that we should bear to
the southeastward straightly as we might and seek one of the mouths of
the great river which we call the Nile.

The wind held as it was, and slowly, though steadily, we moved toward
the east all through the afternoon of this day when I had devised the
shifting of the sail, and toward nightfall at a swifter rate, for the
sky was now becoming overcast and the wind was rising. Soon there were
mounting waves, and the raft-ship, as I have called it for want of a
better name, began to rise and fall in its now more hurried progress
and to occasionally dip its prow into the sea and take aboard much
water, which did not harm us, since it at once washed out again. We
would have been content with this mood of the wind and sea had it but
remained the same, but that was not to be. The storm-god was abroad
that night, and drunken!

There be certain men among us Phœnicians who have great gift of words
such as I have not, and who can write most eloquently--for we have
letters and learning which other peoples lack--some one of whom might,
it may be, have described fittingly the storm of that dread night had
he but been aboard our raft and had not died of fright, but much I
doubt it. There is not stylus to trace the tale of such storm as that
in letters! Whereas at the beginning I longed for our staunch bireme
beneath our feet, yet long before the morning I thanked the gods that
we were lashed firmly to the posts upon our strange new vessel. What a
sea-mew proved our riding craft that night!

The wind became a gale, and the gale a most tremendous one. Each man
of us was firmly lashed to a stout post, else we would have been
inevitably lost. Down one great wave we rode or up or through another,
and that we did not drown was only that between the billows we had a
chance to gasp for breath. For hours we were thus hurled forward, and
when, toward morning, the storm somewhat abated, the change came none
too soon, for we were spent to the verge of certain death. Now the
raft riding naturally so lightly and so easily, no longer buried its
low prow in the oncoming surge, and we could at least breathe steadily
again. The worst was over, yet by no means all the trial, though we had
no fear. Our wondrous raft had shown its worth in that it could not
sink nor capsize. What more could reckless adventurers ask? Still we
climbed the towering waves and still rode down them, rushing to the
southeast, but we feared now less the water than the land. It was not
a proper sea in which to find a threatening coast. Very narrow was the
slant of canvas we now allowed to catch the wind, though to shift the
sail with such foothold as that uptilting or descending deck afforded
was a feat of catlike merit.

Exhausted, we slept by turns, as best we might, still lashed for
safety’s sake; and when, at noon, I was aroused by Malchus I looked
with pleasure out upon a sea which was not threatening. More, too, I
saw. To the southeast appeared afar a blue haze which, as we sailed,
revealed itself as a low-lying coast, and, furthermore, a coast
revealing the mouth of a broad river, one which could be nothing else
than one of the outlets of the mighty Nile! I could not be mistaken,
and for that mouth we steered. Our fortune had brought us as fairly to
our aim as if our course had been directed by the nicest seamanship!

The river entered the sea through the lowlands made by the silt of
countless ages, and, for a league at least, we sailed up the deep
stream between flat marshland. Gradually the banks became higher and
palms showed in the distance, and at last we moved slowly up toward
a place where were trees on the river’s western side, and there we
contrived to land, one of the slaves swimming ashore with a rope by
which we hauled in our raft, mooring it stoutly by other ropes tied
to our posts. Far up the river we could perceive buildings of stone,
and I knew it for a port of some importance of which I had been often
told. The slaves we left to guard our vessel, knowing they would not
venture to desert us in this strange land, and then we three--Aradnus,
Malchus, and I--after having washed ourselves and donned fresh array
from our scantily filled chest, fared forth to learn what Egypt should
prove to us. We had no fears, because these were a people civilized,
even as we, though not such daring wanderers. Already, through many
centuries, had the sun shone on the great cities of the Nile, and the
climax of the power of Egypt’s rulers was nearly at its zenith now. We
reached the city, not a great one like Thebes, Memphis, or other cities
of the upper river, but a prosperous out-lying port with promise of
future trading for us.

There were many people in the streets, but we had not thought of
recognition. Ever comes the unexpected. Conceive then how surprised I
was to hear a call to us in the Phœnician language, as there advanced
to me a swarthy man of middle age, a man of good appearance, who spoke

“Welcome, Phœnician! Whence came you here?”

I could not understand, yet all was simple. The merchant, for such
he was, explained to me that he had for years gone with the caravan
to Babylonia, and had so in time acquired the Phœnician language.
He declared also that he could at once distinguish a Phœnician by
his appearance, which was, however, no marvellous thing, since the
Phœnician face was racially distinct, and since we had traits of garb,
trifling, it is true, but sufficient to make us somewhat apart in dress
as in complexion and demeanour. There was much talk between us and,
when we had done, it seemed to me as if that which could not be had
taken place.

Here were I and my companions, who but a few hours ago were tossing
about in a wild venture upon an unknown sort of craft, facing death
in raging waves and doubtful of our future and our fortunes, now in
peaceful harbourage, and, more than that, in a fair way to attain such
ends as would enrich us and our people in the future. The merchant had
promised much, and it was borne in upon me that he spoke honestly.
At this port of Egypt, he said, there were not he alone, but various
other merchants who would gladly trade with us Phœnicians; that they
had learned of our occupation of the new land and of our prosperity and
that they well knew of our ways of trading along strange coasts, so
bringing to its market many wares which could not otherwise be gained.
Readily would they deal with us and buy of us such things as would add
to the merchandise transported by their caravans either up the great
Nile to Memphis and to ancient Luxor and other places, or else would be
taken with the rarer caravans to the rich marts of the cities of the
Euphrates. What a prospect was this for us in Phœnicia, who were now
seeking such broader ways of traffic! Gladly I assured the merchant of
our constant future sailing with goods for Egypt, and so it soon came
that I and my companions, through this helpful first acquaintance, met
other merchants and made divers business pledges to them for the time
to come. And one business of much profit and great promise came on the

I have said that our sore need in Phœnicia was of more galley slaves,
that we might be equipped for the trade we should soon command. Of this
I spoke to the merchant, Thomes, he whom I had first met, and from him
learned that he and his friends could furnish me sturdy slaves at such
price as made foolish long voyages to gain them, such as we in Phœnicia
had in contemplation. Gold we had with us, for I had counselled with my
companions that we bring with us such of our wealth as we could carry,
and we had it bestowed in belts about our bodies. Upon this store we
now drew and therewith purchased twenty lusty slaves at a price which
seemed to us but half, and forthwith bestowed them upon our boat and
there provided them with subsistence while we awaited the time of our
departure some days hence, for I had certain thoughts in mind which
were of import. I had more to do with the sail!

Ever, when not engaged in the trading or informing ourselves in such
things as might serve us in the future of the ways of these Egyptians,
were we considering how the sail might be made a greater thing, and
how a portion of the huge labour of its shifting might be avoided, or
made more easy; and from these debates and from many earnest hours of
puzzling and deep thinking, came at last some birth from my poor head.
Our trading--for we bought certain Egyptian goods for sale in Akko--and
our communing with the merchants ended, we left the port and set up
tents on the shore beside our vessel and there began the labour which
must follow my new thought concerning the handling of the sail and
making it more subservient to swift occasion.

The labour had been great of moving the masts about upon our deck, and
this labour it now came to me was needless, for by means of a single
mast the sail could much more easily be shifted. And this, with much
shrewd counsel from Aradnus, was what I now devised.

First, we raised amidship, though a little toward the bow, a single
sturdy mast, and next we stretched the sail upon a strong frame, which
frame was hung upon the mast, securely held by encircling thongs
supported on outstanding pegs and so sustained that it might be swung
in all directions, hanging thus firmly and flatly. To the middle of
this frame at either side were attached long ropes to be pulled from
the deck by the slaves, thus giving us the power to slant or hold the
sail in any way the wind might call for. It was but a rude device--much
better way did we later find for the sail-shifting--but it served us
very well. I was resolved to return to Akko in our strange ship, though
the merchants made ready proffer of one of their great rowing vessels
to carry us by oars alone along the great stretch of coast. This would
not serve us. Our slaves must be trained to the rowing, and so I had
provided oars and the fastening oar thongs and seats along each side of
our vessel. We might thus make our tedious way by oars alone, but we
would not. The sail must have its further testing, and its control must
be learned by all of us. Henceforth we must be sailors!

What need to tell the story of that grand voyage! The sail served well,
though truly not as it came to serve us a little later, and the new
slaves had learned their oarsmanship before we came into the bay of
Akko. What need, either, to tell of the manner of our reception by our
citizens? There was no longer scoffing, and when our tale was known
to all there came excitement among all the captains concerning the
trade with Egypt and there were made preparations for many sailings.
As for us, we moved both mast and slaves to our bireme and prepared
for much adventure. Soon, too, the other biremes, as well as vessels
of lighter sort, were bearing sails, and, though crews were lost at
first through too great recklessness in time of storm or through great
ignorance, yet the age of long voyages by rowing had passed forever.
Both I and my companions throve and, after some profitable trade with
Egypt in glorious purple fabrics and in other things, and when we had
builded another and greater vessel, a trireme, requiring many galley
slaves, there came to each of us who had once faced the danger of the
sea together a desire for new adventure and, it might be, graver peril.
The lust of far roving had come upon us, and we would not be denied!
We loaded the trireme with many goods and an abundance of arms and
thus set sail to the west and north, for we would explore the shores
of the vast continent there lying and harbouring, as we knew, a host
of many different peoples, how barbarous we could not tell. We knew,
though, that they had no boats with sails, and that we could flee that
which we could not face. No man aboard but was gleaming of face when
the _Seeker_, with white sail outspread and not a single oar outthrust,
save those for steering, swept bravely from the harbour.

Never was voyage more curiously doubtful from day to day than this,
and never one to prove more the index of vast happenings in the
future, though that we could not know. We sailed at first discreetly,
for we had some knowledge from the people of Yatnan concerning those
of the islands beyond them, and with these we did not wish to have
acquaintance at this time, for they had no cities nor any goods of
value. It was the continent upon which we placed our hopes, for there
were legends of ancient kingdoms there, and of peoples living upon
the shores of the far western sea who were as old and as wise as any
in the world, and owned fair cities and much riches. I may, even now,
tell that we found none of these, yet there still exists the tale of
an ancient country beyond the westward strait between the sea and the
ocean, and which tells of how the ancient land, Atlantis, was swallowed
by the waves. Of all this I know nothing, and doubt if it is known of
any man.

So we skirted the many islands west of Yatnan and the mainland reaching
down among them, and laid our course more straightly northward, soon
to find ourselves in a long and narrow sea branching far upward from
our own beside a long peninsula shaped like a boot. A great distance up
this sea’s eastern shore we sailed, passing mostly rocky coasts, and
rounding its far extremity and returning upon the western shore, where
we found life indeed, but life of an almost savage sort. There came to
the beach to meet us when we made a landing a band of scores of people,
men and women, clad in skins and most abundantly tattooed in strange
designs. Yet were not these people altogether savage and they were
peacefully inclined. They had little for which we cared to barter even
trinkets, and so we left them. Then came another sort of sailing and it
was well for us that we were most skilful seamen now, for surely the
voyage had its perils.

Westward, rounding the tip of the great boot of the peninsula, we
turned, and entered a passage between it and a big island upon which a
huge volcano was vomiting its fire and smoke. Here all our skill and
courage found their test, for more desperate and dangerous passage
could not be than that between the island and the mainland: fierce,
treacherous currents threatening to cast us upon terrifying rocks on
one side or the other. Very content were we when we came into the
open sea again and laid our course upward along the western shore of
this great boot. It proved a pleasant land enough, though we passed
another huge volcano in eruption and rearing its sombre plume high in
the heavens; and on making landing we found a people made up chiefly
of villages of harmless fishermen whom we liked well, but who had as
little to barter as those upon the other shore. So we voyaged still
farther northward, and entered a river, up which we sailed but a league
or two, seeking the reason for a smoke which arose there and which,
we thought, might betoken some home of man. We were not mistaken.
There were men and women there, lusty and vigorous, of two tribes in
alliance and occupying a straggling double village scattered over seven
close-grouped hills, through which the river ran. Here we lingered for
several days, learning much of the people of this village--Roma, as
they called it,--and of the ways of those who lived in it. They were a
rugged people, most full of enterprise, and chiefly engaged, it seemed,
in raiding the tribes about them. With us they became upon good terms
and we made trade for such tremendous store of wolfskins as must make
our voyage profitable. Little we could divine that in centuries to come
Phœnicians should find here one of their greatest markets, and that
Sidonian broidery should bedeck the robes of Roma’s fair women and
Tyrian purple band the togas of senators and nobles and of emperors.
We sailed away well satisfied. Not much farther did we make this
voyage reach, though sailing a day or two westward toward the strait
leading to the unknown ocean, and finding naught to induce a landing.
Then straight toward Akko we laid our course, conveying with us to our
people new knowledge and many worthy wolfskins!

No more need I tell of our increasing trade of far-flung sails.
Phœnicia was growing in prosperity as never land had grown before.
Yatnan had become Phœnician and we worked its copper mines, and had a
temple in its city, Paphos; the fame of Tyre and Sidon was extending
throughout the lands of Egypt and the Euphrates, and our ships and
caravans carried such wares as might tempt all peoples. As for we
three, Aradnus, Malchus, and I, we were now among Phœnicia’s richest
men. Of the rest, it appertains chiefly to me alone, and is not as I
would have it!

Of Elissa, fairest of Paphian women, I have no complaint to make. The
gods will judge her, but not the gods whose nostrils fed upon the
sacrifice. There was none like unto her in all the Yatnan city, and we
inclined to each other, and, after much earnest wooing, she became my
wife. Proud I was and prouder still when she bore me a son, lusty and
comely, who soon had twined his little fingers round my heartstrings
and whom, after the way of doting fathers, I deemed the fairest child
in all the world. They were golden days which followed, until I sailed
away again upon a voyage--and then came Baal!

Of the religion of the Phœnicians I have not yet spoken, and only in
rage or shame may one tell of its quality. Of its origin I know nothing
save that the great Baal, or Moloch, as one with him, was as the
creating and yet burning and destroying sun, and that he must have his
worship and his sacrifices. Lightly was this religion held by such as I
and the other sea-rovers, in whose faces blew the pure winds of the sea
and who had seen and who knew of things beyond wild superstitions, but
with the people of the cities and the fierce, unknowing rabble this was
not so, and they were under the dominion of priests as bloody-minded
and full of frenzy as the savage cannibal creatures who dwelt in
distant places. At this time, too, the worship had grown up into an
idolatry of the most wanton and abandoned character, and celebrations
were made common, ending in wild lascivious orgies wherein men ceased
to be men and women no longer women, and wherein, as a beginning,
there was burnt great quantities of incense, and bulls and horses were
sacrificed in honour of the god, and finally--the horror of it--little
children were given to the flames!

The image of Moloch in the temple was a beastly human figure of metal,
with a huge bull’s head and outreaching, receiving arms. In the
grossly protruding belly of the monster was a door through which a
fire was built within him, that children laid in his arms might roll
thence into the red consuming furnace beneath! What strange madness
of faith may have misled and impelled them in their superstition who
may describe, but, incredible indeed, there were those who thus gave
up their children willingly, even the first-born and the only one! If
it cried, the mother would fondle and kiss the child--for the victim
must not weep--and the pitiful sound would be drowned in the clamour of
flutes and kettle-drums. Silent and unmoved must the mother stand, for
if she wept or sobbed she lost the honour of the act and its reward,
and the child was sacrificed, notwithstanding! Could there have been
no other and stronger and more merciful gods, and where were they when
such things came to pass? But of these horrors I must not take account.
I avoided them, and we lived our happy life remote, my wife and child
and I. I went to sea content, and eager only for swift trade and swift
return. Scarce knew I even of the existence of Phalos, the dark-visaged
high priest of Moloch.

How it came about it was fated I should never know, but I can dimly
reason. Ever, since religion began, have the priests of every faith
used woman, credulous, yielding, and fatuous, as the chief instrument
for promotion of their sinister dominion. Gentle and faithful was my
Elissa, but somewhat inclined to dreaminess and observing the prayers
to the gods, though partaking in none of the rites of the fanatics.
Most resolute she was, too, when a matter became fixed in her mind,
though to me she always yielded. Yet in the body of this fair and
gentle creature might lie, ready for distorted moulding, the soul of a
new zealot, deadly and sacrificing. Alas for me!

Most profitable had been my voyage, the winds were with me on the
return, and I was full of the joy of the thought of the welcome which
awaited me, when, one afternoon, a sail showed far in our front and
swiftly nearing us, which I soon recognized as that of Marinus, captain
and trader like myself and one of my closest and most sturdy friends.
Soon he made signals that we should check our course, and then was
rowed aboard us. His aspect was black and ominous.

“Strain every sail!” was all he said when first he spoke.

Then came the hideous story! How or when he knew not, but my wife had
passed under the grim spell of the priesthood, especially under that of
Phalos, the high priest, a man overbearing and ruthless and ambitious.
Counting on my absence, and of the force which might be raised to
face me and my allies on my return, my only one, the man-child of my
heart, was to be made a sacrifice to Moloch on the morrow, and so the
too truculent and irreligious captains be taught, through me, a needed
lesson! Swiftly as he might, Marinus, trusty friend, had put to sea to
warn me, and now he would sail back with me to aid me in what might

I answered not. I could but grasp his hand. At last my voice came and
then but broke forth in a bellow to spread every sail and man every oar
and drive forward the ship as never ship was driven before! How they
sprang to do my will! What look of deadly import came upon the faces of
Malchus and Aradnus! Marinus departed for his own ship, to follow in
our course.

What sudden freedom and happiness must not madness sometimes bring! How
good to change, relieved from agony of mind, into unknowing, babbling
forgetfulness! But no kindly madness came to me in those long hours
when the ship, though so forced upon her way that Marinus was left
behind, yet seemed to me to only creep along the hindering waves. So
passed the long night; sullenly through it all I could hold converse
with none, though my companions would comfort me in my affliction
and so sought, in vain. With morning the wind still held us, and with
mid-afternoon we entered the harbour of fair Paphos. Even as we swung
inward a boat darted forth from the land bringing a messenger from
another of the captains--for my vessel had been awaited by my friends
as Marinus had arranged. Then fell the blow! Now, even now, the rites
in the great temple were in progress and my child about to be offered
as the sacrifice!

Then, with need so ghastly, the better gods gave back my reasoning
strength. We would invade the temple and would make a rescue, if it
were within the power of man. I took swift and stern command anew.
I would lead with Malchus and Aradnus next and a portion of my crew
as well, the others remaining to hold the ship in instant readiness
for sailing. It was the counsel of the wise Aradnus that, should the
child be saved, we should sail at once for Egypt, where were a host of
friends, and where priests of Baal had sometimes been flayed alive.
I looked upon my brown-faced crew and knew that I could trust them,
even the sun-burnt galley slaves. How many times had all these ranged
dangerously beside me in times of struggle with the savages! I took
from my weapon chest a certain Assyrian axe I cherished, short-hafted
but broad and keen of edge and heavy. I kissed the axe and laid it
against my cheek and then thrust it in the bosom of my tunic. We landed
swiftly and rushed toward the temple. Vast was the throng about the
structure, and inside I knew must be as dense, save for the great open
space before the place of sacrifice. Wedge-shaped we struck the heaving
mass and drove through it as wild boars through reeds, straight past
the entrance, even to the inner circle of the mad worshippers, and,
as I leaped clear of them, my eyes were smitten with the whole dread
picture! There, before the altar and the beastly red-heated image of
the leering god, side by side stood Elissa and Phalos, the grim high
priest, he stern in his power so manifested, she proud and erect as
she passed my child into his waiting hands. How a blasting picture can
transform a man!

In all the world of living men there was not another then so strong
as I; in all the wastes and desert places of the vast forests there
was not a wild beast more ferocious; in all the earth or in the
heavens above there was no being with more swift and certain mission!
I bounded across the space between us, leaping to Phalos even as he
took the child and was about to face the grinning idol, and then, as
he turned at my hoarse shout and our eyes met glaringly, I drove that
Assyrian axe down through that head, down through that crafty brain,
down sheer between the hating eyes, and, as I caught the child, he
fell crumplingly as any poled bull of one of his own sacrifices! I saw
but as an instant’s vision Elissa sink to earth in a white swoon, and
bounded with my child toward the entrance where the fray was raging,
while about and behind me rose first the groan and then the yell of
vengeance of the frenzied worshippers. Naught for the moment checked
me with my circling axe seeking more blood. I reached nearly to my
followers, so near to Aradnus that I tossed the child to him over the
intervening heads and had the joy of seeing him, upon my shout, bound
away with it toward our vessel and so preserve its safety. Nearer
and nearer to my own men I struggled, but I could not reach them. The
fierce guards of the priest were all about me now and a thousand of
the mob were crowding savagely behind them. I felt a spear thrust in
my side, and then another, and so went down most happily. My man-child
would become a man in Egypt!



What it was which had changed the nature of my dream so suddenly I
could not understand at first. Most curious fancies had come to me,
visions of what I had certainly never seen in all my hunting and
battling, but which were familiar enough to me and comprehensible,
until I awoke. There were boats with broad sails, though little of
the sea had we of the great forest ever looked upon, and there were
cities beside which our villages were but as the swamp villages of the
ever-toiling beaver. There was conflict, as well, yet that, I thought,
did not surpass in quality the manner of our own fierce battling, for
we were fighters of some zest.

I had been aroused by sounds quite apart from those which had come
to my fancy with sleep on the heaped leaves beneath the beech tree.
Most unlike either the sounds of the sea or of rude conflict were
those which reached my ears as I came slowly to a sense of wakening
being; they were of a kind all their own and having a quality much too
significant and close and threatening. It was a snuffling, blowing
sound which first aroused me as I lay with my eyes still closed, and
at last a grunting and snort and rumble which was half a bellow, and a
harsh pawing of the leaves and earth. My eyes opened most suddenly,
and what they saw brought a feeling in the middle of me which was most
uncomfortable. Within a yard of me, his head lowered, his nostrils
quivering and his eyes gleaming, pawing the ground in what was fast
becoming a rage at the thing before him, stood braced a monster
aurochs! The aurochs was most enormous of all the beasts we knew and,
when enraged, by far most to be dreaded, unless, it might be, the huge
brown bear, though the bear himself never dared face the aurochs. Here
was a situation for a man to awaken to, but after the first moment I
was not alarmed. I knew the nature of the aurochs well. Had he been in
pursuit of me, wounded, perhaps, by spear or arrow, nothing could have
turned the monster from his wrath, but here the case was different.
The beast had come upon me but by merest chance and, advancing only
in curiosity upon this thing lying prone, had encountered the dreaded
man-smell and had been so roused. I knew my need. I sprang to my feet
with arms outflung, emitting a most unnatural and blood-curdling roar,
and, even as I leaped, the startled brute, leviathan though he was,
whirled as on a pivot with a hoarse bellow which was rather a bleat
of fear, and went crashing into the forest whence I could hear the
crackling of the bushes hundreds of yards away.

I was all myself now, as assuredly I should be, after such a rude
awakening. I stood there, comprehendingly, Scar, warrior and hunter,
a strong man of the Cherusci, than whom there was not a braver tribe
among the scores which occupied the vast Hercynian forest and took part
in its fierce struggles.

A world in itself, a world of its own great kind, was this Hercynian
forest, extending boundlessly eastward from the Rhine River and north
to the German Ocean, and south until it reached far toward the great
sea of which we had slight knowledge, a huge and densely wooded land
of varied nature of mountain, hill and plain and, near its shores, of
deep rivers and endless marshes, but mostly vast and sullen forests in
which ranged many wild beasts and which, because of its huge extent,
sustained strong tribes and clans, who, though scattered widely in
villages or roving bands, made, together, a great host.

Whence we had come we did not know more than that we of the north were
of the Ingævones, a numerous people who in ages past had come from a
far country to the eastward, one so distant that years were required in
the hard migration, and the ways of which we had long since forgotten.
We had divided into tribes and had taken names for these and were
often at war with each other, having, up to this time, no sort of
confederation for need against a common enemy, such as lay beyond the
Rhine to the westward, or other nations on other sides. Of these we
knew many things, though not so clearly as we might have done, for with
them we had naught in common, being well satisfied with our homes and
manners in our forest fastnesses. That to the south and eastward there
were those who had great cities and who sailed the great southern sea
we knew, that to the west, beyond the Rhine, were the people of the
Gauls we knew, and that we were usually enemies to them, and this was
all. Our own drift as we grew, at least of the Cherusci, was northward
from the headwaters of the rivers called the Elbe and Weser. South and
east of us and near us lay the tribes with whom we sometimes had good

And how could we in our deep green fastnesses know greatly of the
outside peoples? From the tales our fathers had told and from the
Gauls across the Rhine we had learned something, it is true. We knew
of the eastern peoples only that they were very old and very distant.
Of the Assyrians and Babylonians and the Egyptians that they still
existed, and that a race called the Phœnicians inhabited the land at
the eastern end of the great southern sea and made rare weapons such as
had sometimes come to us, and that they sailed and traded much. Grown
strong, too, were now an island people called the Greeks. We knew, too,
from our Gaulish neighbours whom we fought so often, that a new dread
had come upon even them and that far to the south, not distant from
the sea, a new nation appeared, arising swiftly, and that its people
were ever ready for war and very dangerous. Dwelling in a village they
called Roma--which was already becoming a mighty place--its people made
invasions upon the territories of their neighbours, though its clans
were ever fighting among themselves. All these things we learned, but
little heeded. What cared we for the stories of the peoples of past
ages? We wanted only our own great forest and our own gods, our own
wars, and no invasions from strangers from afar.

So all through the great forest lay our tribes and lived their various
wild lives, which nevertheless had much of order in their way and
cleanness of living and obedience to our laws. Of religion we had
something, though it did not bear upon us with unwholesome stress. For
what may have been the faith of our Asian ancestors we cared not.
Woden and Frigga and their retinue of lesser deities sufficed us and
appeared to serve us well.

Yet we, barbarians as we were called by the distant and older peoples,
lived lives such as in their uprightness of a kind might well have
compared with the lives of later and craftier ages. Clearly defined
were the lines or marks which showed the limit of each tribe’s wide
land, and so within them were the marks of each clan which had a
village. The villages, indeed, were almost little countries by
themselves, having scant relationship with each other, save at the
Folk-Moot--which, even now, was not an old thing, but which gave to
us a form and saved much bloodshed--though ties of blood were strong
and, among themselves, though so separated and each clinging to his
clan or village, the Cherusci dwelt in rude brotherly accord. It is
but fair to say as much of those of other tribes often our feudal
enemies. Of vices, we had but two, the lust for fighting and the
vast drinking of strong mead to glorious drunkenness. For the rest,
we obeyed the Folk-Moot, where such laws as we had were made when we
assembled, and regarded well the mark line and the lines which gave
the allotted portions or hides of land, and the rights to the nut
woods of oak and beech where fed the swine, and where were the rare
salt springs, and the name sign on the trees of him who had found wild
honey. In each family its head was lord. Furthermore--and who would
think it of so-called barbarians?--our women were well regarded, the
wife was the husband’s counsellor and friend, and purity and chastity
were held the rule for all. We were a strong and healthy race, great of
stature, fair or more often red of hair--which, man and woman, we wore
long,--and gray or blue of eye. The youth were trained to hardihood,
and the brood of either sex was ever a numerous and goodly one. What
wonder that there was among the multitude of forest dwellers no envy of
those of the outer world,--unless, it might be of their more finished
weapons,--and but a desire for our continued isolation? We were most
jealous of our lands. Even our villages were far apart and their wide
boundaries of surrounding wildness well defended. Of the many usages
and ways of ours I shall tell further.

There were certain clans who had no fixed abode, wandering long
distances and living in huts to be abandoned; but such as these had
become fewer and fewer and now most of the people lived in villages,
some little and some great, but all with broad lands about them, whose
boundaries were marked in many ways, some by scarred trees, sometimes
by stones and sometimes by other tokens. So, as well, were marked the
limits of the hides of lands allotted to each family, and these must by
no means be disregarded, either the village mark, or the limit of the
allotments. He who took an allotment, too, must, in token of possession
and defense, break a branch from some tree upon it, or seat himself
in the midst of the field, or build a fire upon it, for its ownership
was a grave matter and not to be considered lightly. Some tilling the
women did, though we were, as yet, but little farmers, and they also
wove and spun. As for the men, we lived first for the fighting and the
honour, and chiefly next, it seemed to me, for the feasting and deep
drinking, with hunting and fishing and the fashioning of weapons as our
only labour. Great were our feasts and it sometimes happened that they
had more to them than mere carousal, especially when the feast was to
one who had died valiantly in battle. There would be much eating and
drinking, it is true, but there would also be much praise of the dead,
which came generously from great hearts, and earnest prayers that Woden
would receive the hero kindly. It seems to me that it was to our honour
that we did not forget our dead, not even the little ones who passed,
and I recall me that I made and kept for a friend one for whom I had
heretofore cared slightly, because, when his child died, he had buried
in the grave of the little one its foolish playthings and had slain a
dog the child had loved and buried it also, that the dog might show the
helpless and timorous one the way to the country of the dead. Stark and
harsh and rough we were, but, in some things, we were most kindly and
but as children.

We had a kind of reverence for some of the things about us. The oak
tree we much regarded, and next to it the beech, not alone because they
gave acorns and nuts to our herds of swine and to ourselves in times
of strait, but because we held that they possessed a sort of sanctity.
Curious it was, too, that one insect should be so regarded. This was
the bee. Great was the value to us of the honey the bees furnished, our
only sweet, and of its use in the making of our strong mead. Hence came
the marking of the bee trees wherein was stored their honey. Heavily
was he punished who cut down and plundered a marked bee tree, but if
it were not marked by the first finder there was no punishment. So it
was that about the bee grew up a sort of faith. Bees, it was held, had
a language of their own and could understand what was said to them,
and it was not counted wise to kill one. To be a hunter of the trees
in which the bees concealed their stores was counted worthy of even a
warrior, and I was proud that at this I had been gifted with no mean
ability. Well must he know the wilds and be ready to fare patiently
and far who would discover where the creatures hid their treasure, and
shrewd must be his knowledge and close his nature to the wild things.
It may be that I was thus close, for I was somewhat a man apart and had
my dreaming ways. I had no wife. There had been one among the maidens,
deep-eyed and fair and strong and red of hair as I, whom I had loved
much and who would rest in the place in my arms, but our wood gods
had it otherwise. There came a time of fever, and she died, and after
she had been buried with my golden bracelet pledge on her round white
arm, I cared no more for women. My bed was in my brother’s house, and
his children cherished me, but I loved the woods and the chase and the
bee-hunting and was much away, with all my fancies, at some of which
the warriors laughed, saying that I was sometimes not unlike a dreaming
girl, though it had been I who brought home upon my spear the head of
the grim Suevi champion after one of our hardest battles.

All was not unbroken forest in our region; there were blue mountains
far to the south, and here and there were little plains, and in the
forest itself were sometimes clear spaces, flower-covered, where the
bees sought honey for their storing. I have clearly in mind a day when
I sought one of these smiling distant places.

Often have I questioned myself if it be meet or becoming in the strong
man to consider and often delight in the fair and curious things upon
which his eyes may rest, or feel the joyousness which comes to him
through other senses. Should not his thoughts and desires dwell only on
sterner and graver matters--the fight, the chase, the keen searching
for the honey stores and the protection of the herds? This puzzlement
I can by no means decide, but this I know that ever I follow my own
will carelessly, and so have had much pleasure without effort, save to
smell or look or listen. Why should I not? Does not the brawniest and
most soil or blood stained warrior smack his lips over the rich juices
of the cooked bird, and do not his eyes gleam as the mead runs down his
tickled gullet? Do I not myself enjoy these things, and why should not
I, if I have the mood, regale my other senses? Yet, as I have said, my
comrades would sometimes jeer at me and call me foolish names because,
forsooth, I rejoiced in the many glories of the world. Little cared
I! It was somewhat known of men that my thews were mighty, my spear a
sharp one and my axe of goodly weight, as had been proved in stubborn
battle, and so I fed my fancies when I willed. On a day of which I
speak they had food worth while, for surely there could be no fairer or
more bounteous place than this for their indulgence.

It was a clearing enclosed by forest on every side. A tornado may once
have stripped away the trees upon it, for it lay on rising ground, and
fire had doubtless swept it afterward. Upon it now was no growth save
many clumps of bushes, some of them in heavy bloom, and soft greensward
and flowers of a thousand kinds, of every hue which flowers may have.
Was it unworthy of me as a hunter and proved warrior that I stood
unmoving for a time and allowed my eyes to feed their fill upon such a
scene as this? Was it not, in its way, as good as the taste of deer’s
meat or as the gurgle of the heartening mead in the throat? And there
was more than the eyes alone could comprehend.

Myriads of eager bees were humming above that gay spread of flowers,
and the united sound of the commingled droning had such volume that it
made seem fainter the singing of the birds in the wood about, though
not many were to be heard at this hour of the day. A few generous ones
there were, though, their voices of such sweet quality as to commingle
softly with the mighty humming and seem almost to form a part of it.

Yet what idle talk is this? It seems but foolish to tell thus of the
flowers and bees and of our more peaceful doings, though, mayhap, it
will make more clear the colouring of the lives of us--the mighty
forest people. Was I like the weak Buoba, of the village, who was
not enduring in the chase and who had never been in battle, but who
sometimes made soft verses and who told strange tales and was, somehow,
not a little beloved? What of it? There was the sound in my ears, and
the ears were surely my own as was my fancy. And not alone were my
ears and eyes made glad, for there rose from that great field of bloom
such volume and drift of perfume as filled my nostrils to their utmost
depths and which, wafted through the forest by the wind, might well
call from a far distance the hosts of labouring bees. The fragrance,
I fancied for a moment, had its effect even on the great stag which
came from out the wood across from me and raised his head aloft and
sniffed the air, though it is more likely he was but assuring himself
against all danger ere he began his feeding. He did not dally at that,
and was setting me a good example, for certainly I had not come here
to regale my senses, so I strode into the sunny clearing as he, with a
great snort of alarm, bounded upward and then into the wood again. In
this field must begin my quest for the places of lofty beehives to be
plundered, and thus I set about it:

I had brought my weapons with me, for he is foolish who would go
unarmed into the forest, but other things I carried as well, since
there was much craft to be displayed in this hunting for the bee
stores. I had beeswax with me and a portion of honey in the comb, and
also a staff sharpened at one end, having at the other a fastened box
without a cover. The staff I thrust into the ground and the honeycomb
I placed in the box above. Then I found a flattish stone near by and
brought it to near the staff, and upon it, using my flint and the back
of my hunting-knife, kindled a tiny fire upon which I laid the wax.
Very soon the wax melted and there arose from it a little smoke and
an odour which was wafted to the myriads of incoming bees and at once
attracted them. Swerving from their course, they circled a little and
then settled down upon the awaiting honey, a prize of note for them,
since it would require no alchemy of theirs in fitting it for storage.
Then I had naught to do but to watch. One by one, each rioting bee
there gorged to the full and then, rising upon heavy wing, flew toward
the forest whence it had come, straight as the downward dropping of a
stone. Some flew in one direction and others on a different course,
but I followed with my eye the flight only of the company which seemed
most numerous. Straight toward the west they went, toward where I knew
was a swamp, beyond which was a forest of great oaks. Their home I
knew could not be in the swamp; hence somewhere in the oaks, most like
of all places. How deeply in the forest it might be I could not tell
as yet, but soon would know in a degree. Across the field I carried
the staff and stone and did just as I had already done, the bees, as
before, coming in numbers to the feast. Again I watched, noting most
carefully the direction of the flight of the group I had first chosen,
and saw that now they flew not straight toward the west, but a very
little to the north of it. Now I had become a menace to them! I knew
that their home and place of storage was at the point where the two
lines I had determined met, and it seemed, judging as best I might,
that it could not be a great way in the far-extending wood. Around
the swamp I went with all my gear. As I neared its western side I set
my staff again and watched the flight once more, then, faring still
farther until I had passed the western end some little distance, I did
the same and found, to my delight, that the two flights appeared to
come together at some point not more than some four or five hundred
yards within the depths of the towering oak wood. There I but circled
about, the bees coming to the honey now in hosts, and as soon as they
were laden flying almost directly upward. Very keenly I searched upward
now and found what I was seeking. Extending straight outward and upward
from the trunk of the mightiest of the oaks was a giant blasted limb,
and upon its side I could perceive a fissure in and out of which the
bees were coming and going in countless numbers. Mine was the bee tree!
I drew forth my short axe and cut the mark which all recognized as
mine, three crosses, one above another--we had no letters or written
language as yet, as had some eastern nations--deeply into the great
tree’s hole, and so made sure my prize. Venturesome would be he who
should cut down the tree thus marked by me. That toil should be my
own when I so decided, a great toil doubtless, but one worth bearing,
for the limb was huge and the bees a vast swarm, and within the lofty
hollow must be stored honey to sweeten the bread of many a feast and
supply the mead for many a score of brimming urus horns. Thus sought I
the honey!

Our houses were all of wood, and simply built. We had no glass for our
windows, and it was not uncommon that skins were hung before them, to
be held aside by thongs or left hanging down for protection against
storms or the cold, as the season and the weather might determine.
Inside, the furnishing was as rude and simple, but there were home life
and comfort there, except sometimes in winter, for with us the winters
were often bitter. That we did not suffer greatly at this season was
because of our practice in building our habitations. The better houses
rested upon logs reaching across above a great cellar which in winter
could be made the living-room, affording sure protection from the cold.
Somewhat lacking in pure air this underground hall might be, but here
was much companionship and merriment. Here mighty bows were fashioned
and here the women wove the spun linen which we wore beneath our robes
of skin and fur. There was rarely lack of food, and so the winters,
long and keen, were not greatly a terror to us. Our cattle and horses
and our herds of swine fared not so well, but, somehow, lived, for they
were hardened to the climate and to scant feeding upon mown marsh grass
and store of garnered mast.

It was not in the winter alone, however, that we were forced to guard
our various herds. The big brown bear had a fondness for the hog or
colt or calf, and was not inclined to make the attempt upon the family
of the huge wild boar when lesser prey was to be found, and the many
prowling wolves had tastes as trained. In winter especially were the
wolves menacing, for then they gathered in packs and were dangerous to
man and beast alike. The fierce lynx was another enemy.

Yet we could not grumble at the forest, which we loved. If it had its
perils it was none the less our provider and our protection. It gave
us nearly all we had, and, first of all, abundant food. There were the
aurochs and urus and wild hogs and the great stag and lesser deer,
and grouse and geese and ducks and various other game; and we were
shrewd hunters. Sometimes we made pits for the aurochs or the urus, and
sometimes hunted and slew them with bow and spear, though such latter
chase was always for those possessed of hardihood. The aurochs, the
monster bison, most ponderous creature of the forest, was not inclined
to attack man if unassailed, though his charge when it came could not
be stopped. But with the urus it was different. He would assail the
hunter whenever he perceived one, and few there were who dared to meet
his onset with the spear. The wild boar was scarcely less evil in his
temper. As for the hungry, lumbering brown bear, he often stole upon
or pursued man as the opportunity came, seeking only to devour.

We were well armed, though in a somewhat varied manner, for we had
little metal and there were few in our scattered villages who could
forge the weapons, and so it was that those possessed were cherished.
There were axes and spears and swords of copper, and more of bronze,
and a few of the new metal--iron, which men had but lately learned to
use, and all these were from our fathers or gained in battle, or, more
lately, through a trade drifting through many hands from the far people
who made fine weapons. So it came that a goodly sword or spear or axe
was a prize always to be sought and the gaining of which gave zest and
aim to many a raid and risk. My own sword had descended to me, but my
battle axe had not so long ago belonged to a chief of the rude Chauci,
the tribe to our west who had such a longing for possession of our salt
spring, greatest holding of our wide mark. Salt!

For the sake of salt we would submit to any labour, endure all hardship
or face any peril which might arise. Without it our life must be a
different thing and harder. Without it how could we preserve our meat
and fish and have the best provision for our grim winters? Our eating
had the greater flavor from it, and with it we were more assured of
having that which to eat. Honey was good and the mead from it arousing
and exalting, yet what gave they but pleasure?

The use of salt seemed as the line between the good and the bad,
between the foul and cleanly. The wolf and all the musky beasts of
prey abhorred it, while the wholesome ones, the aurochs and urus and
stag and deer, sought for it eagerly where the water seeped from the
spring into the long grass of the marshes. It had become to us a first
necessity, as it had to those of other tribes. It was like a symbol of
life to us, in that it preserved and saved from putrefaction. It had
become a part of our existence. What should we do without it? To our
direct and simple reasoning, it seemed a substance kindly and aiding,
apart from other things, and vaguely sanctified. It was thought that
from the salt springs prayers to the gods ascended more quickly than
from elsewhere, and, sometimes, when the land allowed, places of
shelter for worship were made beside them. So, the possession of a salt
spring--though there were many within the length and breadth of the
great forest--was something to be guarded and to be fought for to the
death. Many a spear had been thrown, many a sword thrust, many an arrow
sped, and many an axe had risen and fallen about the salt springs. What
wonder that we fought for them as we would fight for home and wives and
children--doing stern battle, to whatever end might come!

Our own spring, by what was our mischance, lay at a distance from our
village near to the border of the Chauci, of whom I have spoken, and
was a vast temptation to them. Our village would assuredly have been
built beside it but that the spring issued from a little rise of land
within the edge of a great marsh, with a damp lowland all about, such
location as might in no wise serve for a proper dwelling place. There
was no shelter near, and the winds came harshly from the distant sea.
Nevertheless, we builded a great shed beside the spring as a shelter
in time of the salt-making, and raised a barricade of logs upon the
forest side as some means of defense in case an enemy should make an
onslaught. As often as we needed it the most accustomed of the tribe
would make an encampment by the spring and there prepare the salt,
though in a way unlike that of our ancestors, who had been accustomed
to get the salt in a most curious manner, building a fire of logs and
quenching the flames with the salt water, and when it was out, raking
away the ashy crust found clinging to the embers. A better and far
easier way was ours, for we now had the kettles in which to do the
heating and condensing of the water into what we wanted. In autumn,
when the time came for putting aside the fish and meat for the winter,
a large company would go from the village to the salt-making, and the
gathering was made almost a festival. There had always been sufficient
force either with or of the workers, and no evil had ever come to them,
though, at other times, the Chauci had once or twice invaded the spring
and made salt there unknown to us. They also possessed a spring, but
it was not as generous of flow as ours nor so convenient for those who
lived the nearest to us. There had been murmurings and distrust over
this intrusion of the Chauci, but there had followed no encounter,
though the invasion was in violation of all tribal law, and though we
had often come in conflict with the Chauci.

It has been a prosperous and pleasant summer for us, yet somewhat of
a dull one, for there had been no conflicts and the older warriors
were disposed to grumble at what they termed either indifference to
honour or great slothfulness. Had not a band of the Harudes been
seen hovering about our southeastern mark, and had not there been a
disappearance of some scores of our half-wild cattle? Had not certain
most promising bee trees toward the line of the Juthungi been cut
down and despoiled, and was not either of these outrages sufficient
to demand some sort of raiding in reprisal? It was true that the
Juthungi had their home some distance from our borders and that we
were not assured that our cattle were taken by the Harudes, but should
such small lack of certainty prevent us from displaying our hardihood
and prevent us also from acquiring such booty as might come in our
way? Such chance, the seasoned veterans declared, would not have been
neglected in their own fine youth. I know not why, but all this passed
and there was no raiding, it may be because the dulness of the year was
somewhat broken by the festivals in honor of the youth who had arrived
at the dignity of fighting men, and by the consumption of much mead at
these same festivals. A serious occasion, albeit an auspicious and a
pleasant one, it was when the youth became of age to be counted among
young warriors. This year there was near a score to be thus exalted,
which gift of many was counted good as making the families stronger.
The youth were trained in warlike exercises, and happy the father who
could boast most sons. They were taught a contempt for death and that
the tie of kinship was ever to be observed. So strong, indeed, was the
need and the desire for kin, that when one lacked a family he sought
blood-brotherhood with some other, and, when this was agreed upon, each
would cut the palm of the hand and let the blood from the wound run
into a little hollow in the ground, so that from the blood commingled
might be pledged the brotherhood for life, to which they swore with
clasped hands. Kinship and brotherhood meant greater strength, and so
it was not strange that when new youth entered the elder ranks there
was rejoicing and much ceremony in the bestowal of arms, and afterward
much feasting. So it chanced that in this year of which I speak, with
many youth to be initiated, the ceremony over one almost overlapped
that of another, and that most of the warriors, drinking deeply and
boasting of fights which had been and would be, were somewhat careless
of the present. I know only that we had been at peace for all the
summer, and that, though I had found good hunting and had fortune in
the finding and marking of bee trees, I had myself a sense that time
was beginning to move with somewhat laggard feet. Moreover, there were
certain weapons which I desired renewed for my equipment and which I
could not get within the tribe. Yet I held my peace in the debates,
well knowing that after the initiation of the various youth the warrior
would be restless.

It is of these same youth that there is something curious to tell, a
thing beginning in mere love of the young for any wild performance
and the doing of that which the elders might look upon as childish or
unmanly, but which here had, in the end, a great result. I have said
that we had horses as well as horned cattle, but the horses, like the
cattle, were for food, and were rarely mounted, since the forest was
scarce the place in which they might be used with freedom. It was
counted almost effeminate in a man to ride when his strong legs should
be equal to any journey. The youth took small account of this; lightly
they held to elder views, and so a company of some score or more of
them had contrived to capture and tame to riding a number of horses,
performing some fine exploits with them in a broad clearing at a safe
distance from the village and from all surveillance. They rode well,
guiding the horses with their thonged bridles and flourishing their
long spears, as they had heard did the horsemen of the Gauls, and I,
who, because I had no family of my own, was somewhat of a friend and,
it may be, a too lenient mentor to them, felt a certain pride in their
performance and had no notion of betraying them. Indeed, I felt that I
somewhat aided and abetted them, and of this last I had no regret.

So drifted we up to the time of the first falling of the leaves.
The days passed and the autumn grew and the hunters were out and
the boatmen were on the rivers, fishing them even to the coast with
their nets of woven marsh grass, and soon we would have great store
of meat and fish for storing. It was time for the yearly salt making,
so a small company of the youth were sent ahead to the spring by
the marshes to prepare for the coming of such older ones as should
direct the boiling and other labour to be done. All were engaged in
the preparation, and the band departed shoutingly at dawn, for to the
spring it was a full half day’s journey.

That night the hunters came from the chase vaunting and heavy laden,
for they had met with great good fortune, having surrounded and slain
an aurochs of huge size, so adding at once no little meat for the
salting. Never was clan in better mood than was ours on that night of
much eating and drinking by the tired though noisy hunters. Well into
the night the revelry continued, when there came that which changed the
nature of the feasters. There were short, dull cries from the outside,
and then staggered into hall two of the youth who had gone with the
little company to the salt spring. One was bloody of head and face, and
each was, at first, too scant of breath to tell his tale. It soon came,
however, and was such as to make each warrior seize upon and brandish
aloft his weapons and swear an oath as to what would be the deadly
happenings of the morrow!

The Chauci had seized upon our salt spring, defying us at last, and had
done the deed most cruelly. Scarce had the youth reached the spring and
begun the cleaning of the boiling shed from its bed of drifted leaves,
and to make ready the places for the fires, when there appeared from
the nearby wood a band of Chauci who rushed upon them, casting their
spears and chasing swiftly with their other weapons. The youth, brave
enough but far outnumbered, fled into the marsh and across the neck of
it and so gained refuge in the forest at a point some distance from the
spring, but not before two had been slain. Hardly had they reached the
forest’s edge when they saw a larger force come from the wood and join
the first band of Chauci at the spring. Of these the two youth judged
there were at least three hundred. The fugitives had fled straightway
homeward, and deemed that the others who had escaped should soon be
with us, though of this they were not fully assured, since they had
scattered themselves for safety’s sake, and it was possible that the
Chauci might have pursued and captured or slain more of them. Happily
this was not so. The remaining fugitives came in before the morning
broke, all wearied from the long run and the hiding, and three of them
wounded by the thrown lances.

There was no more wassail, but, in its stead, swift and stern
preparation for what was soon to come. We of the elder warriors spent
little time in council or the devising of any plan, for we knew that
it could be only a stubborn grapple of almost equal forces, with no
advantage of ambush or surprise to either side. We could rally as many
of our clan as there were of the invading Chauci, and for more we
cared not. We would ask no aid from other villages of the Cherusci,
though, should we be beaten in the fight, there would doubtless follow
a war between the whole tribes, for blood is thick and the Chauci had
now been transgressors boldly; but, should we win, the matter would
doubtless end with that, since we would have had our vengeance and,
perchance, some booty with it. There were some who counselled marching
at once upon our foes, but it was decided by those among us who had
the leadership that the attack should be made in daylight, and so it
rested. All night, all through the village could be heard the sounds
of the sharpening of swords and spears and axes, and the pattering
of hammers studding and fastening more securely the leather on the
linden shields. The sun had scarcely risen before we had eaten and
were set out on our grim march. No able man in the village but was of
that avenging company, save some score of the riding youth of whom I
have already told and who, because I spoke for them, were allowed to
march apart, that they might, as their leader pleaded, come in upon the
Chauci from an unexpected side and by their sudden charge do more, if
might be, than if they marched and fought with all the rest. At first
this was denied them, but I had some dim reasoning that these reckless
ones had in mind what might avail exceedingly, and my earnest counsel
and demand that they be given the chance to show us what stuff for
warriors was within them at last prevailed.

No sign of the Chauci saw we until we came close upon what we knew must
be the battlefield. They were not ranged about the spring, but were
massed, as I had reasoned well they would be, in the thick wood near
to it, where they would have some measure of protection and where we
must attack them at a disadvantage, for the wood there, though dense
and heavy, was apart from the main forest, and could be reached only
by passing across a wide open space where we would be exposed to their
spear throwing and their arrow flights. Nevertheless we drew together,
holding our shields before us and so launched ourselves across the open

It was a grim and furious charge and no man failed, but our foe had
the advantage. We gained the forest’s edge, but our spears and arrows
were turned aside by the close set trees and brush, while upon us in
the open rained such flight of weapons as could not be avoided or
long withstood, and not a few of the Cherusci fell. We had suffered
grievously when, with a blind and desperate rush, we entered the
wood fairly and there, though engaged now on more even terms, found
little better fortune. The Chauci, well knowing what must follow their
defeat, fought like savage beasts at bay, and most skilfully as well,
keeping together and meeting us with stroke and thrust as heavy and
in a rage as fearful as our own. Back and forth we swung together in
that dark killing-place, and, for a time, even the shouting and the
threatening ceased and there was only the harsh sound of weapons. We
fought unflinching, as Cherusci should, but were the more wearied of
the two forces, for we had marched far, and had now lost some of our
best warriors and, finally, there came a little yielding. Strive hardly
as we might, it did not cease, and soon, though with our mass unbroken,
we were forced into the field again, the Chauci pressing fiercely with
yells of triumph, until they, too, were in the open. Then followed such
fighting as had not been often seen or had been told of in the feast

Face to face, we stood in opposing ranks, Cherusci against Chauci, and
no man thought of aught save killing. We were now the lesser force,
but none gave that a thought. There were the Chauci, and they must be
slain! As for me, I had gone stark mad with the battle lust. Man after
man went down and another took his place, but we had the lesser weight,
they were as desperate as we, and we were driven back, though slowly.
Then came the sudden and amazing end!

From the main forest on one side rang out a shouting almost boyish, and
then from that green wood burst forth a score of beardless horsemen!
The ground was somewhat sloping, there was room for headway, and,
sweeping down in a mass together, the young spearmen burst in upon
and through the Chauci, as though they were but corn! Never before
in forest fray had been such hurling of ridden horses upon footmen.
What could withstand such charge of thundering beast, or the bent
spears, of which none failed to reach its man! Crumpled and split apart
and scattered were the Chauci by that fierce onslaught, and we, the
warriors, leaped after them and slew them as they fled, pursuing them
into the forest ways which led toward their home and overtaking many.
Well had the youth displayed their warrior blood, and, more than that,
had taught us much. Henceforth the horse would be exalted.

Foremost and swift was I in the grim pursuit, and overtook three of the
fleeing Chauci in a little glade, when they turned to face me. It was
a fight of but a moment. My axe descended on the one who seemed to be
the leader, and then came to me what was beyond all evil dreaming! Even
as my axe sank into the Chauci’s head one of the others, who had darted
aside as I made my rush, swung his long sword behind me foully and I
tottered and fell crumplingly to earth there, hamstrung and helpless
and a lost man forever! What mattered it that one who came panting
behind me cut down the knave who had crippled me? What more had life!

The pursuit by our warriors ended at last; they gathered together the
weapons of the slain Chauci and all the spoil of their camp, and,
afterward, made a litter in which they carried me, as they did the
others who could not walk. The march wound to the village, which was
reached at nightfall. Most carefully was I attended. Loud had been the
acclamation of me as foremost in the battle, and my leg was shrewdly
bound, as was also a little wound in my left arm, which, before, had
bled most steadily. Afterward I was placed upon a couch of furs in the
feast hall, where presently would be held the feast in celebration
of our victory. Sadly and sullenly I lay. Then came to me a wondrous
resolution! There came before my eyes a vision of one helpless and
crawling. Where were now the battle and the chase and the fair hunting
of the bee stores! What grayness lay before me! What held life for me
now, for me who in the morning had been at the crest of strength and
pride and who had hewn my way to greater honour through a warrior’s
day! What pitiful old age might come to Scar, the hamstrung! Yet, what
honour comes to the hero who dies laughing at death and fresh from
where much blood has flowed? I thought of her who was wearing my golden
armlet, sleeping quietly, and life seemed hollow at the best! I thought
of the long years of hobbling, and my mind became as iron, as my gorge
rose. They were making ready for the feast now and I called my friends
about me and told them I would feast with them, and directed where my
seat should be, as I drank deeply with them and that I should be lifted
to it, and they did as I commanded boisterously and acclaimingly, for
they knew well what I had in mind, though in the eyes even of those
warriors shone something of wonder with their pride. The feast began
and the vaunting and the shouting and the deep drinking, and then I
shouted loud, though I could not rise, and bade them hail and vaunted
of the brave day. Hoarsely and loudly I told them how I was about to
die cheerily, as a warrior should, before the eyes of fighting men,
laughing and showing to the youth the manner in which a hero passed to

Lifted I then my wounded arm and tore away the bandage from where a
goodly vein was sheared apart, and opened it anew with my dagger,
and the red blood came out and ran with a soft patter to the floor as
I let the arm hang low beside me. Four brimming urus horns of mead I
quaffed then, and shouted and waved the horn above me and sang the
praise of the Cherusci, and the warriors shouted with me and would have
lifted me aloft but for my wounds. More deeply yet I drank, and more
boasted of the glory of the Cherusci, and still heard the ceaseless
dripping to the floor. The mead was bringing languor, and it seemed
to me that, because of this fine sleepiness, I spoke less bravely,
repeating much, and stumblingly, the words I had said before. Surely,
I thought, a better mead was never brewed! The lights flashed and the
warriors shouted over to me. I was warm, and my head nodded. Great were
we of the Cherusci and great the life of a warrior! My head sank on my
breast. The whimsy came; we warriors might be strong, but assuredly
grizzled and bent old Harling, who brewed our mead, was mightiest among
us! I bent forward prone on the table, with my head upon my unwounded
arm, the other yet dangling. Still came to my ears the patter of the
blood upon the floor. Strong was the mead!



That there had been a sea fight was plain from the look of the deck,
upon which blood was splashed about and gathered in some places into
little pools, now turned to a dark purple in the sunlight which was
shining down upon it pleasantly enough. Pleasant also was the breeze
which was carrying the galley westward without any aid of man in
the guiding. Of the fight itself, it seemed as if I could remember
something, though but confusedly, for first it would appear that we
were battling among trees or in open ground, and then again that we
were thrusting and striking and grappling up and down a tossing and
slippery deck and that hoarse shouting was mingled with the roar of a
great wind. Now, there was neither much wind nor any shouting. I lay
with my head upon some sort of a not uneasy pillow and looked upward
into a sky without a cloud. I felt a stiffness in my limbs and there
was inertness to me. I made shift to rise to my knees and at last to my
feet, and looked about me weakly, and considered. Yes, assuredly, there
had been a sea fight. My pillow, the quality of which I had not noted,
showed that, for it had been old Regner, now lying motionless, who had
borne my head upon his bosom while I lay senseless. A huge spear, which
had entered at the shoulder, protruded from his side, and he had bled
much, lying there transfixed so savagely. I found that I had wounds
myself and that there was a great bruise on my temple which still
somewhat affected me.

Slowly, as the wind blew coolly on my forehead, came back to me a
knowledge of what had been our evil fortune and how it was that I,
a man of some presence among our daring company, I, a Viking of the
Angles, should be drifting thus wounded and alone in mine own ship,
helpless to guide it. The crafty Romans had outwitted us and we had not
been spared!

In our fast shield ship, not a very great one but swift upon its way,
we had been lying in wait, as was our custom, in a small bay of the
Gallic coast, awaiting the near passing of any vessel which seemed to
offer booty. What came, we cared not greatly, for we feared no enemy
we might encounter, though preferring much some laden Phœnician trader
still venturing to Britain. In default of such rare prize we must
content ourselves with a chance ship of the Veneti, who also had some
traffic beyond the narrow sea.

Proud were we Vikings, for was not ours the blood of the bold races
of the forest who had swept up the Elbe five hundred years ago and,
dividing into kindred tribes, Jutes, Angles, and Saxons, had seized
upon all Jutland and, from hunters and river fishers, had become most
bold and skilful sailors and the most adventurous of rovers of the sea?
Already there came dread to the dwellers at the riversides and all
along the Gallic coast and, sometimes, even to the shores of Britain,
when our shield ships showed their sails against the distant sky. No
ship of the Gaul we feared, but we sought not acquaintance with the
now frequent Roman galleys, since they were prone to come in squadrons.
Ever we kept a lookout for them and cared not when they appeared if
only there were space enough between us, for we could outsail them
easily. This was not so much because we feared, as because there would
be but little spoil to follow the taking of a ship containing only
legionaries, and there was the further reason that, were we ourselves
to be taken, we would die at once. To the Roman, and it must be said
to most others, we were but ravening pirates, ruthless and dangerous
as the sharks of the sea or the wolves of the land, and meriting only
death. Little cared we! We had but inherited the ways of our ancestors
from the time when they raided the lands, each of the other, in the
German wood or seized upon the holdings which seemed good to them
as they fought their way northward from the branched sources of the
Elbe and Weser. Yet we were never cruel, and lacked not loyalty and
faithfulness unto death to friend and blood kin.

We were not as yet a great force, we rovers of the sea, though each
year our strength increased. Our sharp-prowed ships were swifter than
those of others, our sails bore better, and our arms were stronger at
the oars in failing winds, but as either clan or tribe we, as yet, made
no great war. We were but bold adventurers, each captain fighting for
himself and his own following. Of religion we knew but Odin and the
strong gods with him. It was so among each tribe of us, the Jutes above
us on the great horn of land called Jutland, we Angles next and the
Saxons below and nearer the restless peoples of the vast forest. The
Romans knew us not apart and called all us Northmen, Saxons, though we
were not as one in our scant rulership, and sometimes had our battles
over marks. But we were of the same proud blood and did not fight with
each other when there could be found a common enemy, such as existed
now, since the conquering and oppressing Cæsar had, in a great sea
fight, overcome the fleet of the Veneti, who were traders and had more
ships than any other Gallic tribe. Afterward the victor had built more
ships of his own and landed in Britain and done much damage, besides
exacting submission and hostages from those nearest the coast. After
this there still remained a number of the Roman ships which sailed
about the coast of Gaul but did not come into the northern sea. These
we avoided though we still made forays along the Gallic shores, having
no other place for profitable venture. With this Cæsar, we of the
upper coast beyond the Rhine had made no war, nor had he made war on
us, deeming us but barbarians of a land not worth the conquering and
of a kind only to be done away with, if it might be, when his ships
encountered ours and which had happened but few times, since, as I have
said, we avoided all such meeting. Yet now, I knew as my memory came
back, that we had indeed been tricked and had mingled most bloodily
with these same Romans.

We had been rejoiced when, from a point of land beside a little bay we
had discovered, just as a black storm threatened, a ship nearing us
which, as the manner of its building showed, must be a trader of the
Veneti, having broad sails of skin, such as the Veneti used, and high
prows and lifted stern and showing a structure broad and deep and
strong. We were at first surprised, but considered then that Cæsar was
no longer harrying the coasts of the Veneti and that, since conquering
them and afterward causing the death of many, he had allowed those
remaining to engage in all their avocations as before. So we thought it
was possible that their traders were venturing forth again. Of this we
were more assured as the ship neared us and we saw upon its deck only
the sailors needed for its handling in the increasing tumult of wind
and sea. These wore the Veneti dress and we could scarce restrain our
shouting. There would be little of good fighting, but much plunder.

There were only some thirty of us in our shield ship, for, as I have
told, it was not a large one, but our arms were strong and ready at the
oars, and despite the thundering sky and now high rolling waves, we
swept out from the bay and fairly athwart the course of the oncoming
vessel before its people appeared to see us. Then there were loud cries
from them and a swift rushing about to change their course, though all
too late. Swiftly we circled in beside them and cast up our grappling
hooks and, shouting our hoarse war cry, poured over the unprotected
bulwarks and upon the deck, there to hew down or take captive the weak
Veneti crew. Death rose to greet us!

Leaping to their feet, shouting the Roman battle cry, a full hundred
armed legionaries who had lain concealed upon that treacherous
deck--even as our feet touched wood--were upon us with cast javelins
and spear and sword. We were lost in the mass of them, each one of us
surrounded and defending himself against too many. It was a bloody
fight for but a little time, and only that the storm waxed fiercer and
all footing was uncertain, we would have all been slain the sooner.
There was no quarter to be hoped for. I felt sharp wounds before I
reached the deck, and sprang backward against the bulwark that I might
face the onrush to better vantage. They came in upon me so swiftly and
so closely that I slew two with my axe and then I felt a spear point
lightly, and sprang apart from it and upward, clutching, as I leaped,
the ropes slanting from mast to side, and so stood with my feet upon
the bulwark, holding with one hand to the cordage and smiting downward
with my axe once more. I turned to our ship and, even as I turned, it
was lifted upward to me by the raging sea, then outward, and I heard
the grappling hooks tear harshly away through the oak rail. And in that
swift moment, even as I leaped, a stone cast by a slinger struck my
head and at once I knew no more.

And now, after how many hours I could not tell, I stood clinging to the
mast that I might keep my feet and making study of the body of stark
Regner. He alone had been left on guard aboard our ship when we cast
the grappling hooks, and it was easy to see that he had been slain by
a spear thrown vengefully from above, as was revealed in the manner of
his transfixion. Surely slight suffering had come to Regner, and little
had he felt the shock when I had come down upon him, and the storm tore
our ship away from our enemies and hid us in the bosom of its darkness.
Certainly bold and careless, though very silent, sailors had been we
two as the waves tossed us, and my wonder was that we were yet aboard
and the ship afloat unharmed. It was well built and strong, however,
and no sail had been up when we made our attack, and so, somehow,
and by sheerest fortune, it had floated until the storm subsided and
we were now riding on smooth waters. And now I looked all round and
away upon the sea more searchingly. To the westward I perceived a dim
uplifting, darker than the hue of the water, and, as the breeze carried
the ship forward, this dimness became more solid and it was made plain
that it was land. Well did I comprehend its meaning. I, alone and
wounded and in one of the hated Viking ships, was drifting helplessly
upon the shore of Britain. My death, it might be, had been delayed for
only a little time, but what of that? Death was the Viking’s brother. A
weakness was coming upon me and I slid downward to the deck and slept.

When I awakened something of my strength had come back to me, though
not that of a strong man, for my head had been hurt most evilly. Yet
now I could rise by the mast again and look more calmly and resolutely
upon the land I was approaching and which now rose clearly to my sight,
and not more than an hour’s passage, at the rate the vessel was now

Now it chanced that I knew more than a little of this strange isle of
Britain. For years I had been in almost daily speech with a British
slave named Locrin, now an old man and under my protection. He had been
captured long ago when fishing with companions in one of their curious
open coracles of skin, or currachs as they were sometimes called, and
had in time become almost an Angle, for he had been treated kindly
under the roof tree of my own family and clan. Him I had, as I grew in
years, been accustomed to take with me in my hunting, and sometimes
on expeditions, and from him had I learned not only the manner of life
of the Britons, how they fought their enemies, the raiding Caledonians
which sometimes came from the north, and other like things, and had
also gained from him some knowledge of his language. This I had used
with him in sport, with the idle thought that it might some day become
of use to me in my adventures. He had become a most faithful thrall and
I, in turn, had learned to hold him somewhat closely. It was ever said
of the Briton that as a clansman he was most loyal to his chieftain.
Glad was I now, in a somewhat sombre way, that I knew something of
this wild isle toward which I was being carried and of the people whom
I must meet. How I might be received I could but guess, yet I knew
well that it would most likely be as the wild beast caught prowling.
Slight reason had the Britons to welcome with extended arms the Viking
stranger. Who welcomes the plunderer, even though the plunderer be
shorn of strength, and helpless? Assuredly, my thoughts were gloomy as
I drifted.

Very slowly lapped the waves against the galley’s prow, and the wind
which carried it ahead seemed to adjust itself most nicely to its
doubtful mission. I stood with my back still against the mast, as
needs I must, and saw nearing me each moment a prospect which was not
unpleasing in itself. Fair were the Kentish shores of which old Locrin
had often told me, and fair her woods, whatever of danger for me might
lie concealed within them. The shore itself was a bright sandy beach
up which the gentle surge rolled far, and beyond that was a stretch
of sward and bush soon lost in a wood as dense and green and heavy
as I had ever looked upon. Of human beings there were none in sight
nor was there any other sign of life, though far away in the forest I
could discern the rise of smoke. What might that forest hold, I dimly
thought, to fix my fate or fortune?

The tide seemed with the wind, and my sailless ship was nearing the
shore so steadily that soon it must ground itself upon the pleasant
beach in water so shallow doubtless that I might make shift to wade
ashore, if strong enough. Still stood I leaning against the mast and
scanning the long wood narrowly. Then, suddenly, my gaze was fixed.

From around a point where the forest extended far down toward the
beach, swung into view a chariot such as I had never seen, its
galloping horses deftly driven by a swart skin-clad man wearing a sort
of helmet and what appeared to be a breastplate. Behind him, resting
one hand upon his shoulder and swaying easily with the chariot’s
movements, stood the stateliest and fairest woman my eyes had ever
rested on. Behind the chariot followed, running close and easily as
if accustomed to it, some score of guardsmen, a few with shields and
spears, the rest all armed with bows. So, for a moment’s space they
came, then saw the ship and made instant halt, the horses pulled
backward on their haunches and the whole company closing up at once
about the chariot. What marvel that these Britons swerved? A Viking
ship upon their very shore!

The company did not flee, but stood and looked, the woman still in her
place and gazing long, with one hand raised above her eyes to aid the
scrutiny. Some time she studied, then seemingly gave an order, and
the chariot was driven forward, though more slowly now and followed
by its company. My ship had come, by this, close to the land and must
find ground in a moment, which it did just as the Britons drew up
opposite and not more than a spear’s length or two away. They looked
upon me silently, the woman, upon whom the others seemed to wait, most
curiously and gravely. At last she spoke, and her words were brief
enough: “Viking, what do you here?”

Glad was I then that from old Locrin I had gained some knowledge of the
Briton tongue and could make some little shift at speaking it, albeit
most stutteringly, for now it might stand me in some saving stead. What
should I answer?

A little I paused and debated in my mind and then, looking into the
clear and questioning eyes of that proud woman in the chariot, I did
not hesitate nor falter. Stammeringly and haltingly, I told my tale as
best I could in the strange tongue, with bold and simple truthfulness,
concealing nothing. I told of my own name and standing and of the foray
and the sea fight and of all that might concern my captors. The men
stood listening with mouths agape, though with stern and threatening
faces, but the fair countenance of the woman did not alter. I knew
that she was passing judgment. At last she spoke again, slowly and

“Viking and wolves are much the same to Britons, but it may be that
your tale is true, and it is not without merit in you that you have
fought the Roman. Other than I must pass upon your fate.”

Then, turning to her people, she commanded that I and the body of dead
Regner be brought to shore, which the spearmen did, supporting me,
who found myself still weak, and laying the body of my comrade upon
the sand. Then, without further parley, and under direction of the
woman, the band returned the way whence it had come, I walking with a
supporting spearman on either side. We reached the point from which the
company had first appeared and there came upon a roadway leading into
the forest. Upon this roadway we travelled it may be half a league when
we reached a crossroad, and there we came to a halt.

“Take him to where the king is sitting,” said the woman then, to those
about me, “and say to King Cadwallon that I will follow swiftly, that I
may make all clear to him relating to the prisoner.”

Then she looked upon me fixedly, but saying nothing, as I also looked
upon her most steadfastly and as I had never before looked upon
the face or into the eyes of woman. There came to me a marvellous

There were, among the race of Vikings, poets who made the Sagas and had
gifts in the divination of what was most fair and noble and beyond all
common things or hopes or fears, and from one of these had come the
curious and lofty affirmation that it might happen, though most rarely
in the world, that a man and woman should for the first time look upon
each other and that there should come to each the vast knowledge that
they two were but as one in a loving which could not be in any way
withstood or denied, calling for any sacrifice. And so it was! Well I
know it to be unbelievable, but, as we stood there thus, she a haughty
princess of the haughty Iceni, as I came to know, and I, a Viking
haughty as she, but rude and rough of port and now blood-stained and
grimy, the truth of the thing so strange came out like light between
us. Each knew it well and each accepted it unfalteringly, for we were
made of such a mould. No loftier or more courageous was I in my degree
than my fair and stately Goneril. We spoke no word, but, as we parted
at the crossroad and her chariot swept away, I knew that beyond all
doubting I should find her with King Cadwallon and that she would have
already spoken.

Two days we travelled through the land of Kent, and each day brought
me greater wisdom. Let none say that the country of the Britons is
but a vast waste of forest, moor and fen, peopled only by wild beasts
and tribes of men almost as wild as they. So had I thought it and so
had those on the mainland, deeming only that along the island’s coast
there might exist among the natives a variance from the barbaric and
outlandish customs of the interior. On this same winding journey--for
we sought the easier ways and made no haste--I saw herds of feeding
cattle and droves of horses, and meadows and reaped fields, and many
a rude but goodly homestead. Never had my eyes met fairer prospect
than that on which they rested in this region lately ravished by the
Roman, and I wondered not that its people had defended it as fiercely
as they had vainly. My bent was all with them. My guard of ten sturdy
spearmen, somewhat glum in the beginning, became amenable upon the
way, and from their leader, himself a Kentish spearman and having some
little wisdom, I learned that which gave me cause for wonder and hard
reflection. We were marching through a bruised and smarting region,
one where the souls of men were seething in unavailing rage and bitter
protest. Cæsar had come and gone. He had not advanced far into the
country but he had slain many of the islanders and ravaged the fields
and, having driven the Britons into their forest fastnesses, had forced
from their chieftains a promise of submission, and had taken hostages
away with him. No harm had the Britons done the Romans before this
harsh invasion. Little they knew of Roman intrigues and ambitions, nor
of this Cæsar’s wars and conquests. They were content to live alone in
their own way upon their own green island. Yet to them, unheeding and
unsuspecting, had come this scourge, without a pretext. There seemed no
recourse and no vengeance for them. They had been smitten, and their
hostages were with the Roman army. What wonder that there smouldered
in the breasts of these hurt islanders such hatred and such fear as
may not be described! All this I gained from what the Kentish spearman
told, and it was not in me to feel unlike the islanders. Truly they had
sufficient cause for hatred of the Romans!

I asked the spearman concerning Cadwallon, the king, and learned still
more. He, it seemed, was not the king in straight descent, but because
King Lud, who had reigned before him, had left only children as heirs,
he had come into power as regent, seemingly, but really as king in
fact. Cadwallon, as the Britons called him, and as I also shall, though
he was called Cassivelaunus by the Romans, was not altogether a bad
king, but was held somewhat weak at times and he had, besides, certain
enemies among the more envious and ambitious of the chiefs beneath
him. Fortunately, the invasion of Cæsar had not reached his capital
on the river called the Thames, and he was still secure in power.
This capital was a place called London by its people and by all other
Britons, though the Romans had named it Trinovantum, and was the town
of chief importance in the land, having existed long and, being a port,
reached from the sea and drawing the trade of the Veneti as well as,
sometimes, of the far-trading Phœnicians who came to the southwest,
the Cassiterides, for tin, and who sometimes extended their bartering
voyages up the coast. Much pride had the Britons in their town of
London, of which the legend ran among their Druid priests--some of whom
were learned--that it was founded in the dim past by a Trojan chieftain
who, fleeing after the fall of ancient Troy, had sailed with his people
even to distant Britain and, after overcoming a race of giants living
there, had builded this town beside the Thames and named it Troy
Novant. This tale, however, I hold to be a fable. The Druids were ever

From this man, too, I learned much concerning the stately lady of whom
I was the captive, and who had given order as to my disposal. She was
the great Lady Goneril, he said, a princess of the Iceni and kinswoman
of King Cadwallon. There had been trouble among the Iceni as to the
succession, and at this time the family opposed to that of Goneril was
somewhat in the ascendancy and it were better in many ways that the
princess should seek refuge, for the time at least, at the court of
her kinsman. An aunt she had also, wife of a chieftain of Kent with
whom she was but now a guest. Only brave words had the man of Kent for
the fair princess, and, even now, my heart went out to him because of
it. Most imperious of mood she sometimes was, he said, and of great
influence with both the king and her uncle in Kent, but ever generous
and just, and much beloved of all, from chieftain down to churl, Iceni
though she might be. All of this much delighted me and gave pride. Most
curious, yet just and due it is, that a man should cherish, even as his
own, the honour and fame of the one woman to him.

On the morning of the third day we had news of King Cadwallon that he
was hunting with a company of his nobles and attendants in a forest not
very far southwestward of his capital, and to this place we took our
course, the Kentish man who led being well acquainted with the region
and all its devious wood-paths. It was not long before we neared the
forest where the hunt was, a region where the guide told me were many
stags and not a few of the brown bear, and soon we came upon parties of
the huntsmen, who gazed upon me curiously but who did not molest us but
gave instruction as to where to look for the king. It was mid-afternoon
when we came to where he had paused for rest and meat after the long
chase of the morning.

There were many tents pitched in a pleasant glade in the midst of the
forest, one of them a pavilion larger than the others, and this was the
king’s. We were halted by guards with spears scattered in a ring about
the brief camping place, who, after our leader had told his mission,
sent one with him to the king’s tent, and kept the remainder of us with
them. It was not long before the Kentish man returned and said that I
was to go with him at once. He took me to the guard at the door of the
great tent, and by this guard I was taken within and so before the king.

There were a goodly company assembled there of chiefs and nobles and
fair and stately ladies who had taken their dinner with the king and
now were moving around and talking together, but who, as I was brought
in, ceased in their conversation and looked upon me with much interest,
from which I judged that my story was already known to them--as indeed
it proved to be. I stood now before King Cadwallon, and there took note
of what manner of man he was. It seemed the Kentish man had told me of
him well. He was of manly height and framed like a good warrior, but
his face was somewhat drawn and the look in his eyes was not of one
who felt his power supreme. Richly garbed he was and grave and stately
of demeanour, yet lacked his eye the eagle flash. Naught have I to say
against this King Cadwallon, naught, though it came to pass that I knew
him well indeed and never did his friendship fail me, but I could have
wished him to be of a front more confident and even arrogant, since he
had about him such wild and untamed lords and chiefs of clans. I shall
not disapprove Cadwallon.

The king addressed me gravely, saying that already he somewhat
understood my story, and asked me that I tell it to him with more
fulness, as affecting, it might be, his own decision in the matter of
his course toward me. I must perforce obey, and so related to him more
completely than to the Lady Goneril all circumstances of the voyage
which brought me such evil fortune, ending with what I thought a not
unwise addition to the effect that we Vikings had no war with Britons
and had never sailed against them.

To all I said Cadwallon listened most patiently and, it seemed to me,
almost with approbation. He answered that it was very true that we had
not forayed in Britain and had done no harm at any time, save it might
be that some reckless ones had captured a few currachs of the fishermen
who ventured too far at sea, for which no grudge was held against us,
and he added, what was to me most heartening and promising, that we
were kindred in spirit, while not of blood, in hatred of the Roman and
that, at this time, we were counted, not as enemies, but as allies in
whatever of war was likely to come to either of us. Then he spoke still
further to me, who had of a sudden become most emboldened and at ease,
saying that, having known of me from Lady Goneril and of my degree
in my own land, he had it in mind to deal with me as one of rank and
one having knowledge of the sea and ships and also of the Romans, and
so to offer me service with him, with such command as might be later

Here was sudden change of fortune surely for a shipless man and
prisoner in a strange land! At first I knew not what reply to make;
then as it came upon me how many of my friends were slain and how
bereft I was of all things while here was opportunity for adventure
which might lead to important happenings, I was inclined to accept the
service, though still I hesitated, for a Norseman is ever a Norseman
utterly. Then rose before me the face of a woman standing in a chariot,
to whom I had given a great wordless pledge, and I paused no longer! I
swore to give good service to the king and, raising me from my bent
knee, he declared me one among his chieftains and bade me join the
nobles about and make new friends, with one to aid me who was waiting.
Then turned I and looked again into the eyes of Goneril!

Most prideful and stately seemed the lady, yet, in her dark beauty,
there was laughter in her eyes as she took me by the hand and led me
among the company, making me known to many of them and saying, as
she laughed, that the king had accorded me her thrall, since she had
taken me prisoner. I was, she said, to lead her little company to her
uncle’s hold, there to acquire a better knowledge of Britain speech
and Britain forests and ways of fighting, until I should be called to
closer service by Cadwallon. I was well received by most, though some
were silent, and I saw among the company of nobles not a few who seemed
to have in them the stuff of hardy fighting men, though not of such
breed as were in Jutland. Some slight acquaintance made I, but there
was little time--besides, my mind was much on Goneril.

Next morning, with a slender train, we set out on our way through Kent.
Only a rune-maker should tell of that too short journey through the
Kentish woods and winding pathways. It is not in me to give a sense of
its sweet flavour. Not many words we said at first, but we did not need
them. We only knew--we two, each proud and close of heart--but knew
as others might not know it, yet the trees knew it, and the birds and
squirrels in the trees knew, and the horses upon which we rode. Only
the men who followed us could fail to know!

We came upon the evening of the second day to the hold of Gerguint,
who had married Bera, the aunt of Goneril, where we were received
as became the princess’ rank, and where I was accorded as pleasing
welcome, for a messenger had arrived ahead of us to tell of my degree.

Of Gerguint, whom the Romans later called Carvilius, I must now speak
freely, as soon he proved himself to me, and of him I cannot speak too
well. A strong prince of a strong fourth among the Kentishmen, he was
one after my own heart, fearing nothing and having that understanding
which makes one of high blood know of and recognize that which may be
in another. It was in his mind to be to me as a close friend, and so
he was from the beginning, hunting with me and showing to me all the
differences there were between the Viking and the British ways, both in
the chase and in the modes of warfare. Much he delighted to go forth
with me in my Viking ship, which had been brought along the coast and
drawn into a twining small river entering his lands, from which place
we made short voyages along the coast. The Britains were not worthy as
sailors and this was soon perceived by Gerguint, who now desired that
they should build them better vessels, learning the things which would
serve greatly for their own defense, and this he sought to bring to the
attention of the king. So he and I became good friends.

And for Goneril and myself what shall I say? It is hard for a man to
tell properly, so that it may be at all conceived or understood, of
what is between him and the woman whose breath has become his own. No
difference made it with us that the blending and welding had been so
swift and unaccountable. It was a fate met willingly and, even when
the time for words of mine had come, few were demanded. I sought to
tell, in my unfashioned mode, of what was in my heart, and she but
smiled upon me and told me that I need not speak. What days were ours
as we rode the glowing Kentish woods in the late autumn and she told
me of her people’s ways and sought to make me comprehend them, and of
the boundaries and friendships and animosities of the many tribes and
clans, and all else that might tend to make me fitted for some rule
among them.

And what strange half history and legends had those islanders! Of these
dim tales my Goneril told me many, and in a few there must have been
some truth, as of the great king, Belinus, who had even invaded Gaul
and conquered there. His sword was hidden, it was said, in the heart of
a mighty oak tree, but none knew where the oak stood, unless it might
be held among the Druid mysteries. And many another story and tradition
of the Britons she related, not less curious. She knew the Gallic
tongue and something of this she gave to me.

Even their art of war she taught me, and therein made me marvel. In her
full veins pulsed only warrior blood and made itself so manifest that
it seemed wondrous that in the same warm current ran all of tenderest
womanhood and faithfulness. Indeed she was herself a warrior bold
enough. Well do I bear in mind the first time she took me with her
out upon the sands to teach me chariot driving, and how in the essay
I swayed and tottered, guiding the horses bunglingly as we rushed
along, her chariot in the lead, circling or overtopping and descending
the steep dunes, or darting upward from the beach, to swerve and
rock along a hillside. Never in any storm at sea had I such strain to
keep my feet beneath me, though in time I gained the needed reckless
skill, to Goneril’s vast approbation. Most solicitous had she been
that I should excel in this, for the chariot was much relied upon in
all the battles of the islanders. In fight, the warrior had with him
a charioteer who drove against the enemy while the warrior, standing
beside him, fought with javelin or spear or axe, or other weapon, as
the ranks were neared or broken. When the mêlée became most furious
the warrior, leaping from his place, would then engage on foot, the
charioteer withdrawing from the fray a little to be in readiness
in case of swift retreat or further charge on a massed body. Most
formidable were these chariots, though only when they were afforded
ground for evolution. In the close forest battles they were useless.

Winter came, sharp and keen and not unpleasant in this land of
Britain with its climate tempered by a great sea current from the
southwest, and, almost before it had begun, came my first service to
King Cadwallon. There had come an uprising of a certain tribe whose
overweening and ambitious chief sought, with the alliances he had made,
to cast off the king’s authority. Gerguint was summoned to attend with
a force, which I was to accompany, which body was joined to others,
and soon we met the rebels in the northwest forests. It was not a
long campaign, but there were sharp skirmishes and, finally, a battle
which was one of merit and wherein I had opportunity for the dealing
of Viking blows when much they counted. It chanced, too, that I had
occasion to save the life of Gerguint, who had risked it foolishly,
charging ahead among the savage clansmen and going down beneath a
mass of them. Hard it was to hew a way to him and lift him to his feet
again before they added other and more deadly spear-thrusts to the ones
he had received, but I was well repaid. There came occasion for such
gluttonous fighting, to shield ourselves until our own warriors reached
us, as might have gorged a Baresark. Thor! but it was good cleaving!
Back to back we stood, and I could ask no better shield than Gerguint.
Fairly beholden proved he when the encounter ended with the night and
the death of him who had been rebellious, and closer yet we became in
comradeship. We swore blood-brotherhood, a thing which was excellent
for me and later came to serve me in good stead. The return to London
came, and there the king, to whom something had been related of my way
in battle, had good words for me and made promise of some honour.

And why delay the story of what was the crowning of my desire and great
and overmastering resolve? I asked that Goneril be made my wife, she
proudly joining, and Gerguint did not fail me nor did the Lady Bera,
for I had become as of the family. Then was the King Cadwallon sought,
and, for a time, he hesitated. Counting all, I was but an adventurous
stranger and of altogether alien blood. Yet, since that blood was noble
and since I had sworn him fealty and had proved myself in battle, and,
it may be, also because he felt the need of each strong arm, and, above
all, because of the firm words of Gerguint, he at last gave his consent
and had grace to give it finely.

There was a great attendance of the Kentish chieftains in the hall of
Gerguint and of many from the court, and there was our marriage, and
ceremonies by the Druids--whose former power, as well as the length of
some few of them, had been curtailed by good King Lud--and abundant
feasting and drinking and music by the harpists; and so we two, thus
joined before all, found happily what life may hold. The winter passed,
and spring came, and in the bursting of stream and bud and song of bird
there was not more warmth and glory than in ours. So passed the days.
Then, as the summer neared, a pall fell on the land!

It was in the air, a vague unrest and dread. There was no frolicking
beneath the moon in any of the scattered hamlets; the labourer in the
field looked often toward the wood; the hunter moved with senses more
alert; the wild beasts themselves one thought were seeking deeper
harbourage; it was as if all nature were afraid; the very winds seemed
whispering repeatedly, in fear, the one word--“Cæsar!”

The alarm had come across the sea from the Veneti. A little vessel of
that friendly people had eluded the Roman ships patrolling the Gallic
shores, and so reached Britain with news of recent movements of the
devastator. He had, it seemed, been engaged in suppressing a revolt
of the Treviri, who lay somewhere near the Rhine, but, meanwhile, had
given orders that a great number of ships should be made in readiness
for his army at a port called Itius, lying nearest to the shores of
Britain. That he had it in mind to once more make a descent upon the
islanders was, so the Veneti messengers declared, a thing assured. It
was this fell news which had sped through Britain and had aroused the
sudden dread of which I have already spoken. What time the scathe
might come no man could tell.

But if there were trembling throughout Britain there came also the
courage which goes with desperation. Feuds were forgotten, as were
boundaries, and there ensued wide summoning and a gathering of the
many princes to consider swiftly what might be done in the impending
struggle with the invader. It was agreed that Cadwallon as the chief
among the southeastern rulers of the island, and in sort an overlord of
some, should have the supreme command, and then the warriors came from
every part, ranging themselves under their own leaders and forming, at
last, a great force of charioteers and archers and spearmen and hosts
of the wild skin-clad forest men, an army numerous as the leaves, but
all in bands and with little discipline or order. So in and about the
southern hills the great force hung. Then, one day, at noontime, there
showed across the sea a mighty spread of sail. Cæsar would strike!

Eight hundred sail! What scores of thousands of the trained legionaries
must they carry and what chance had an unordered host in an encounter
on open even ground? It was decided by the leaders not to give battle
at the shore, where the nature of the beach gave easy landing to the
Romans, but rather to meet them on the high places, which had been
fortified in a rude way by the felling of many trees in front of them.
Here we awaited the attack.

Of that first desperate struggle against the veteran foe I can tell but
vaguely, for I was in its midst, fighting as for my life and unseeing
as to the general battle. Fiercely we charged and drove among the
enemy with our chariots, but could not shatter them. These were the
trained slayers of the world, and when one rank wavered or was broken,
another rose behind it and ever the whole pressed forward, killing as
it came and irresistible against a force with no planned manner of
cohesion. We were driven backward, though fighting stubbornly, and,
finally, the enemy overwhelmed and seized the camp, and the Britons,
leaving a host of dead, were driven into the forests. There was a kind
of re-formation and then began the running fight of days, as Cæsar
neared the capital. There were bloody stands and skirmishes and we cut
off many of the Romans in the woods, but nothing could stay their firm

My Goneril was in London, where I had thought her most secure in this
time of great jeopardy, though stubbornly she had insisted on following
me into the field. Gerguint had joined his brother Kentish princes, and
together they had attacked the Roman camp left with the ships and had
been beaten, and there had Gerguint been sorely wounded and, barely
escaping, had been carried to the harbourage of his castle. The main
body of the Britons was now within and about London, and Cadwallon was
to make his last stand against the approaching army of Cæsar, which
threatened the passage of a ford above the city. At this ford all must
be decided.

There had been treachery. Mandubratius, crafty and wavering chief of
the Trohantes, to save himself, had cast his lot with Cæsar. Androgeus,
a chief in command in London itself, had turned against Cadwallon and
was tampering with the conqueror; and all these things gave fear.
Yet we would make such stand as should be remembered long, and so
all Cadwallon’s forces were drawn up beside the ford to dispute its
passage. The Romans came, their legions rolling to the shore and
entering the waters boldly while our own massed armament stood awaiting
them with eager weapons, a multitude looking upon us from the slope
behind, even our women among them, as was the Briton’s way. Then came
the clash and struggle.

As the Romans neared the land, avoiding as best they could the
sharpened stakes which had been set against them, their onrush was
almost hidden by the cloud of spears and arrows falling upon them, and
many were slain and carried downward by the glad current of the British
river, but there was no checking them. Some struggled through and
others followed as the first were slain, and soon the ranks had gained
a footing, their front being lopped off as it came, but ever heaved
forward by the tremendous mass behind. As in the surges of a growing
storm, each succeeding wave crept further up the shore and the fight
was soon on land. Though hate is in my heart for them, let none speak
lightly of the dauntless courage or the stern hardihood and discipline
of the Roman soldiers. Those ranks of iron pressed forward, though we
raged among them with our chariots and met them manfully on foot with
blows as fierce as their own and thrusts as deadly. But what could
avail such ragged and open charge as made the wild Britons against an
advancing wall which ever renewed itself as it was broken here and
there? I, myself, fought side by side with chieftains of the Iceni,
kinsmen of Goneril, with whom I had made friendship, and well they
bore themselves. High up the slope were the Romans now, and there was
at the front much intermingling of the opposing forces. My charioteer
had fallen, and the horses had been slain, and I, on foot, was making
red my heavy Viking battle-axe, but in dire peril, for we were driven
backward step by step and soon I was half surrounded and felt a wound
or two and began to breathe too heavily. Then came to my ears a woman’s
cry. Circling downward and at one side from the slope above where were
the onlooking multitude, had come Goneril, driven by grizzled Leir, her
charioteer, and swinging to the front and very centre where she knew I
would be found. There had been none who could restrain her. Mad with
her fear for me, wild as a she-bear for her bayed mate, she had come
storming on the battlefield, her dark hair streaming and the love flame
in her eyes, seeking only to be with me, even in death together. And
timely was her coming, for I had been beaten to my knee and was in sore
strait. Surely the gods guided, for the chariot came to me through the
mêlée as the wild bull through brush, and I was lifted to it by Leir’s
strong arm as, scarcely slacking in its course, it passed athwart the
raging lines and so away toward safety. And, even at that moment, as
Goneril bent down toward me tenderly, there came a Roman javelin which
drove deep into her side and, as it lurched out and away with the
chariot’s surge, left, following it, a rush of her dear heart’s blood,
drenching her robe with red. Into my arms she sank, and so I held her
until, flying, we reached the wood, then laid her gently down on the

[Illustration: “I am weakening and dying. The Valkyrie are circling in
the sky”]

What can I say of that awful, awaiting moment, or of what came? She was
still alive, my glorious Briton girl. She smiled upon me and sought
to reach up her arms about my neck, and could not; then sighed a little
and there died! Then all things passed away, and I fell as dead beside

There is little more to tell of Britain. Cæsar had triumphed; London
had fallen; the conqueror had wreaked his stern will upon the land;
Cadwallon had yielded and had agreed to pay tribute, and Cæsar, taking
hostages and many prisoners to be sold as slaves in Roman marts, had
sailed away. For a hard four hundred years the Roman heel would press
on Britain’s neck. What was all this now to me! They had carried me
and my dead Goneril away into the forest and, joined by certain of her
kinsmen who had escaped, we took up our journey with my dead to the
country of the Iceni, where they would bury her with the ceremonies
befitting such a princess. All this we did, but I could speak no word.
Men looked upon me with a sort of fear. My speech seemed lost, but
came at last with the new swelling of the heart and the humming of
the dark thoughts in my head. Nothing of Britain knew I longer. I was
a Viking again with only Viking gods and Viking thoughts, and these
transformed me. Cæsar had slain my Briton girl and, though it were
forced or proffered, all the weregild of all the Roman world could
bring no solace. Goneril was dead, and henceforth I lived but to bring
death such as I might to every Roman! No oath of vengeance needed I
to take on the white holy stone of Odin’s priests. I sought Gerguint,
still wounded in his castle, and was received as if the castle was my
own, but abode there only as a silent and unheeding guest. Time passed
and, finally, I sought the little band of those I had hardened and
taught to sail my shield-ship, and they joined me nothing loth, and in
the darkness of a stormy night we crossed to the coast of Gaul, where
I would fight against the Romans, for secret word came that there was
nearing a head a vast uprising to cast off the Roman yoke.

Far to the south and west we laid our course, for I would hold it so
well out at sea that we might avoid the Roman ships now haunting all
the Gallic coast. Some days we sailed and, at last, having escaped
them, made entrance at the mouth of a fair river called the Seine and
sailed inland upon it until we reached an island where was a town, the
capital of a partly maritime and trading people, the Parisii, who,
because of their lack of strength, had allied themselves with the
Senones, a more powerful tribe lying to the south of them. In this
capital of the Parisii, or Paris, though called Lutetia by the Romans,
were many who understood the Briton tongue; my small possession of
Gallic also aided us somewhat and we were received with willingness and
provided with food and a place for harbourage. The scene about us was
of utmost tumult.

It was winter now and all Gaul was aflame with the hope of casting
off the Roman power, in which great enterprise the various tribes
had, after a council, ranged themselves under the leadership of
Vercingetorix, a noble of the Arverni, and than of whom they could
not have made wiser choice or one more likely to be followed by great
outcome. Not only was he a man of courage and much skill in warfare,
but also one who thought, not for himself alone, but calmly for the
general good. Already had he a strong army in the field and was, after
some slight successes, seeking to check the advance of Cæsar upon
Avaricum, the chief city of the Biturges, and one which should have
been abandoned. Vercingetorix had pleaded with the Biturges that they
should sacrifice it for the sake of the whole country, that it might
not fall into the hands of the Romans and so give them stores and
shelter until they might carry on the invasion to better advantage
when spring should come. In this he was overruled or overpersuaded by
his assembled leaders, for the Gauls had some of the weaknesses of
the Britons, in that they were most difficult to control as a united
body. So Cæsar was advancing, though but slowly, upon the city, and
Vercingetorix was hanging near him with his forces, making sudden
attacks upon his flanks and withdrawing swiftly and with much display
of wise generalship as the need came. To Vercingetorix, then, came I
at once, followed by my little handful of adventurous Britons who were
most faithful and men of hardihood, for such I had selected for my

In this journey I attached myself to a small force led by one
Critognatus, an Arvernian of note, who had come to Lutetia to encourage
in the uprising and was now on his way to rejoin the Gallic army.
Him I found a man of firmness of mind and of a fierce and unbounded
patriotism, and he it was who promised to bring me personally to

Through many a devious forest path, across many a silent stream and
over wide frozen marshes, we took our way and reached the Gallic
camp on the evening of the third day. It made an amazing and curious
sight, with its far extending fires beneath the trees of the dense
wood lighting the ways between hosts of rude shelters of boughs or
sods or tents of skins until the lights but twinkled in the distance,
for it was a huge force which had now gathered. Through a long way
I was guided by Critognatus to see that I had audience. The tent of
Vercingetorix stood near the centre of the camp and was somewhat larger
than the others and had sentries at its door. I was taken within by
Critognatus and my name and mission told to Vercingetorix, but I need
have had no sponsor.

Most cordial was my greeting, though of a certain dignity, for
Vercingetorix was one of a commanding and grave air, albeit his eyes
gleamed brightly. There proved occasion for little speech. Of all that
had occurred in Britain this wise leader had made himself acquainted
and it so chanced that he knew my story well, and well could understand
what impulse drove me now and what manner of service I might give.
He placed me with the command of Critognatus, and, upon my asking,
directed him to allow me, under my own leadership, a company of some
hundred of a wild outlying clan of the Arverni, with whom I might
adventure in my own way. Glad was I then!

What days and nights of brooding came to me! Ever I saw the tomb of
Goneril or the fanes of my own gods! No puling gods of the weak races
they, but war gods and gods of vengeance! Wild and savage and unfearing
was my band of an outlandish mountain group to whom I had joined my few
of Britons, and whom I now trained to more knowing warfare, but even
they were scarcely equal to the fierceness and persistence of their
leader. No venturing foragers from the Roman camp were safe from our
ambushes or sudden onslaught, for I hovered like a wolf about a fold,
and many a legionary’s blood made the snow brighter in my eyes. There
came to me something of a name, and I was made welcome among the Gallic
chieftains, stately in their glittering helmets and tunics and rich
furs, and some of them most gallant men and good, but I could not be as
One with them. I held myself aloof in a stern loneliness. They were not
of me or mine. What says the Norsemen’s rune:

  “Gasps and gapes
  When to the sea he comes
  The eagle over old ocean;
  So is a man
  Who among many comes
  And has no advocates.”

But little recked I of it all. I only sought and slew with my hardened
following. Then, later, fell Avaricum, and Cæsar, his army fed and
rested, turned toward Vercingetorix, who, after some well fought but
unavailing battles, entrenched himself in the city of Alesia, where
he awaited the issues. Alesia was a town of the Mandubii and one well
fortified and of importance, founded anciently, it was related, as a
trading-place of the Phœnicians. It lay upon the flat crest of a great
hill, almost a mountain, and was protected on two sides by the rivers
Lutosa and Osera. In the front the mountain sloped down into a plain
a league in width, behind which, at some distance, rose other hills
which surrounded the plain completely. The army of Vercingetorix now
occupied the wide slope of the city’s hill down to the plain and had
made before it a long deep trench and a stone wall the height of a
man throughout. Upon the plain and nearer the hills were arrayed the
Romans, who began at once a gigantic work of encircling fortifications
such as I had never seen before and which gave me new comprehension of
the utter inflexibility and hungry and all-conquering resolve of this
great Cæsar. None other could have devised so vast a plan, and by no
other army than his could it be executed. The inner circuit of this
enclosing zone was a full ten miles in length and, gigantic as was the
work, there was built in front of it a trench twenty feet in depth and
of the same width, and, within this and nearer the fortifications, two
other trenches each fifteen feet deep and wide, and filled with water
let in from the river. All this was as a hindrance and protection
against any sudden sally by the Gauls, of whom there were with
Vercingetorix some hundred thousand. Not only this, but, at a distance
and in the rear of Cæsar’s army, was erected another and longer line
of defense against the Gauls elsewhere, who were rallying in great
numbers to come to Vercingetorix’s assistance. I had somewhere heard a
strange tale of a huge serpent which had coiled its vast length around
an Afric village and engulfed the starving groups as they came forth in
desperation, and the thought came to me again with this coiling of the
awaiting serpent, Cæsar.

There were sharp conflicts as the work progressed, for we made frequent
sallies from our wall, and there was one fight of the cavalry which
caused great loss on both sides and might have ended still more hardly
for the Romans had not Cæsar sent to their aid a great force of the
Germans who were with him, and who fought solidly and well together.
Much it enraged me to behold these Germans, for they were somewhat of
the same blood as my own.

Still grew the Roman fortifications and the whole thing was marvellous.
Each Roman soldier, it seemed, was trained to every sort of labour and
accustomed to it as to the march or battlefield. The army was made up
of legions, containing from three thousand to six thousand men; the
legion was divided into ten cohorts, the cohort into three maniples,
and the maniple into two centuries, and each moved as if a part of one
great being. Never before was army a machine so deadly, propelling
itself in whole or in its smallest part as guided by a single mind.
What Briton or Gallic force, however great, could cope with this!

And now came anxious days to Vercingetorix. The promised succour was
delayed, and famine threatened. It was resolved to send away the
helpless people of the Mandubii, but they could not pass the Romans.
Very early in the siege Vercingetorix had fairly divided, man by man,
all corn and cattle and other food, and this was near its end. A
council of the leaders was now held at which was to be considered the
best course to be taken, and at this council Critognatus spoke most
eloquently, counselling a sally and a swift determining of the great
issue, however fatal. Then came the news by messengers who had passed
the enemy that our allies had come and that, under the leadership of
Commius, they were about to attack the Romans in great force!

There was no faltering now! We must sally forth when our allies made
their attack. The assault soon came, and for two days there were
fierce charge and countercharge and much slaughter, the Gauls outside
assailing the farther Roman works as did we the inner ones. On the
fourth day came the bloody climax.

There was at the extremity of the Romans’ northern line a hill which
could not easily be included in their works, and the outer Gauls had
perceived this hill’s advantage. They took from their main army sixty
thousand of their best men, and these, under command of Vergasillaunus,
passed round and seized the hill at night. At noon, it was decided,
this great force should make its charge. Then all would join the battle
and all knew that, before the night fell, there would come an end
either of free Gaul or of the dreadful Cæsar!

My axe was red with Roman blood. My arm was wearied and my body sore
that night, and through the brief hours of rest I snatched I slept but
fitfully. That my sleep would fail me in the night to come I had no
fear, for I knew in my heart what must befall. It did not daunt me.
What warrior had done better? What says the Havamal of Odin:

  “Cattle die,
  Kindred die,
  We ourselves also die;
  But the fair fame
  Never dies
  Of one who deserves it!”

At noon the battle burst with utmost fury, as Vergasillaunus hurled
his force upon the Romans and, almost at the same time, we from within
assailed the ramparts. Nothing could stay us. The ditches were filled
with clay and hurdles, the walls were mounted, their defenders slain,
the turrets cleared, and we burst fairly through the breached wall
and struck our foes on even ground. What foaming struggle then, what
vengeance sought for wrongs, what strokes for freedom! Should victory
come to him, what mercy would he show, this harsh and treacherous
Cæsar! Even I, who fought for my own hand and for my vengeance, could
not but feel hate with the Gauls. For this man surely the gods must
have a punishment. The noble Vercingetorix may grace his triumph, to
be later murdered in a Roman dungeon; each Roman soldier may boast a
Gallic slave; a servile populace may greet the conqueror madly, but
certainly the evil day and evil end must come. May the daggers of false
friends some time await him!

We raged ahead and slew, but ever came swinging into support the Roman
legions in the way I knew so well from Britain. And no longer could we
force them. Oh, for a thousand of my wild Jutlanders, Angle, Saxon, or
Jute, I cared not, to hew a way with me into those solid ranks! There
came a sudden rush and so close a press about me that I had not room
for the swinging of my wet axe. The Roman short sword is most keen
and, driven into a man’s side and cleanly through him, he must reach
the earth. The feet of a host of charging legionaries passed over and
beyond me, and there came to my ears their distant shout of triumph.

The blood is flowing from my side and I am weakening and dying. The
Valkyrie are circling in the sky. It is the end. How will they appear
to me and how receive me, Odin, the all-father; Thor, the hammerer;
Balder, the beautiful, and Freyja and all the great queens and warriors
of the past? That must be as it may be. I have fought well. And now
even the gods are lost in mist. Strange visions are coming to me,
visions of shining seas and the vast ocean, of warm, palm-clad lands
and lands of ice and snow, of plains and forests and the dark mountain
passes, of a thousand fierce encounters and of other and more gentle
things. Above and beyond all, I see a creature, soft-furred of arm,
dark-eyed and wild and beautiful of her kind, near to me in the lofty
treetops and gazing at me gravely from between leaved branches!


  [Illustration: Publisher’s mark]


Transcriber’s Note

Page 111: “would not deride here” changed to “would not deride her”

Page 220: “made such bouyant” changed to “made such buoyant”

Page 256: “uptilting or decending” changed to “uptilting or descending”

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