Title: Stories of the Cave People
Author: Mary Marcy
Release date: July 15, 2019 [eBook #59922]
Credits: Produced by Richard Tonsing, Tim Lindell and the Online
Distributed Proofreading Team at http://www.pgdp.net (This
book was produced from images made available by the
HathiTrust Digital Library.)
The cover image was created by the transcriber and is placed in the public domain.
No man or woman can begin to intelligently interpret the causes of social phenomena and human progress to-day without a practical knowledge of sociology and a general understanding of the underlying causes of social evolution.
Man has risen from a stage of lowest savagery, little higher than the apes, buffetted by the hand of Nature, dependent upon the wild game he might kill or the food he found ready to hand, a fearing and a furtive creature of the forests and of the plains, preyed upon by a thousand stronger foes, to a being able to provide warmth and clothing and shelter against the rains and the cold and food against the seasons. He has become a master instead of a plaything of the elements. In a large measure he has become arbiter of his own food supply and, hence, his own destiny. He has subjugated, in a marvelous degree, the forces of Nature and harnessed them to his needs.
The ordinary man all over the world to-day does not know these things. He attributes all this wonderful progress to a supernatural agency or to supernatural agencies; he believes that the institutions 8of to-day have existed since the beginning of time; that the Gods created man exactly as we find him in the 20th century; that the present ideas of morality, religion, law and human justice have always prevailed. He is unable to tell whence we sprung and which way we are going. Amid a changing world he sees only fixed things.
He knows neither the origin nor the trend of anything; to him the world, the human race and all social institutions began as they are now and will be—world without end.
But Science has shown us that the only stable fact in the world to-day is the process of change, how man has evolved through the ageless past and the direction of the social current.
In this little book I have sought, in a series of stories or sketches, to present only the first steps in human progress as elaborated by Lewis J. Morgan in his brilliant work on Ancient Society. If they stimulate the young folks to a more comprehensive study of the struggles of primitive man and the causes of his slow but steady advance, they shall have fulfilled their purpose.
|The Fire Beast||15|
|The Ornament of Big Nose||27|
|When Run Fast Went Hunting for a Wife||41|
|Little Laughing Boy||53|
|Hunting an Echo||69|
|Big Foot’s New Weapon||95|
|The First Planting||109|
|The First Pot||123|
|The Arrow Throwers||137|
|The First Priest||151|
|Questions for Teachers||162|
No one among the Cave People knew how to kindle a fire. On several occasions when they found the trees in the forest aflame, Strong Arm had borne back to the Hollow a burning branch. Immediately all the other Cave People were seized with a desire to have torches and they swarmed around the skirts of the blaze and secured boughs also. And on they sped toward home and the Hollow amid roars of laughter and much pride, till the sparks from one of the branches blew into the frowsy hair of the Stumbler and set him aflame.
16Instantly all the Cave People dropped their boughs in terror and the Stumbler beat his head with his hand, uttering shrill cries of pain.
Only Strong Arm advanced steadily toward the river, grunting his disgust. “Bah! Bah!” he said many times, spitting the words from his mouth.
Strong Arm was the great man of the tribe. No one among the Cave People could jump so far, or lift so large a rock as he. His back was broader than the shoulders of the other men. His head was less flat, and his eyes were very keen and saw many things.
When they reached the Hollow, Strong Arm gathered dry leaves and sticks and built a huge bonfire upon the rocks. And the Old Woman and Gray Beard came out of their cave to marvel at his work.
The young men brought branches and leaves and fed the flames and when night came on the Cave People sat around the fire and laughed together. For the wolves came out of their holes and showed their white fangs. And their yellow eyes gleamed through the darkness, but they hovered on the edge of the woods, for they were afraid.
Far into the night the Cave People danced, while the flames from the fire brightened the whole Hollow. They beat their hands together and chanted in two tones from a minor strain, and not 17till they were worn out with dancing and fuel gathering did they crawl back into their caves.
But in the morning the fire was dead. Grey ashes marked the spot of their gaiety and the Cave People were filled with awe and wonder.
But they learned many things. The next time Strong Arm brought a blazing bough to the Hollow he discovered that the fire burned best when the branches met the face of the wind, and in time they learned to coax the coals to live through the night by covering them carefully with ashes and damp moss. And at last, by watchful care, the Cave People were able to keep the fire burning constantly.
The Cave Women with little children, who were unable to hunt with the men, came in time to be the natural care-takers of the fire.
It was the Foolish One who first, in a fit of wantonness, threw a hunk of bear meat upon the coals, and it was Strong Arm, the wise, who fished it out again. For in those days bear meat was not to be had all the time, and Famine followed close upon the heels of Feasting. Often a chunk of bear meat was the most precious thing in the world.
Strong Arm ate the steak which he had poked from the coals and he found it delicious. Then he threw more chunks into the fire and gave them to the Cave People. After that every one threw his meat into the flames. By and by they stuck great 18hunks of raw flesh upon long sticks and broiled them over the fire.
No longer as darkness crept over the world were the Cave People forced into their Caves for safety. Secure around the fire they danced and chanted rude measures wherein they mocked their enemies, the mountain lion and the grey wolves, who came forth in the night and watched them hungrily from afar.
Four times had the nut season come and gone since the birth of little Laughing Boy and he could remember one day only when the fire had not burned upon the rocks in the Hollow. Ever since he had been able to walk he had trotted at his mother’s heels down to the shore, when the air was chill and had squatted very close to the coals, for the warmth was very pleasant to his small body.
His mother, Quack Quack, which meant Wild Duck in the language of the Cave People, always screamed shrilly to him and gesticulated wildly, till he crept back out of danger, while she scoured the woods for logs and branches.
But there came a day when he crawled down to the river and found no fire on the shore. Then his father, Strong Arm, had gone upon a long journey. Many paths he had crossed on his journey along the bank of the river to a friendly neighboring tribe. And he returned after several suns with the good fire in his hands.
19Since then the Cave People had tended the fire more carefully than ever. Thus Laughing Boy came to know that the fire was a friend, a friend who protected the Cave People from the wild animals of the forest. He knew also that it was very good to feel the warm flames near his brown body when the days were cool, and that it hurt very much if touched with his fingers.
Laughing Boy always ran at the side of his mother, Quack Quack, tagging at her heels or hanging on her shoulders. Although a very big boy, as Cave Boys grew, he had never been weaned and always when he grew cold or hungry, he ran to her side and pulled at her breasts, uttering queer little grunts and cries.
In the bad season Quack Quack grew very thin as Laughing Boy nursed at her breasts. When he was four years old and the fruit was dead and the nuts and berries were nowhere to be found from the North fork of the river to the bend far below, Quack Quack felt that she could no longer endure but pushed him from her again and again, giving him bits of meat and fish to chew.
When once the Cave People had hunted twelve days without bringing home any large game, the eyes of the people grew deep with hunger and their faces were drawn and gaunt. A few fish they caught and again found bitter roots and some scrubby tubers, but these meant only a mouthful 20to the Cave People when they could, one and all, have devoured great hunks of meat.
Strong Arm sat on the bank of the river one whole day, but the storms had driven the fish up stream and he caught only two small ones that fluttered and beat themselves against the sticks which he had rammed into the mud, after the fashion of a fence.
Quack Quack, who was often alone in the Hollow, felt the gnawing pangs of hunger more keenly every day as she weakly thrust Laughing Boy from her breasts again and again, and staggered into the forest after fresh fuel.
And there came a time when the hunger and pain grew so strong that she remembered only that she must satisfy them. Then she pushed Laughing Boy into the cave, which was the place that served to her and Strong Arm for a home, and with a mighty effort rolled a stone before the entrance.
Laughing Boy, too, was very hungry, but she knew he was safe from the beasts of the forest. She heard his low wails as she turned her back on the Hollow and hurried away toward the branch of the river, pausing only when she saw the scrub ends of the wild plants, to examine them. But she found nothing to eat, only many holes where the Cave People had thrust their sticks in a search of roots.
Quack Quack continued on her way, almost forgetting 21the mountain lion, and the dangers that assailed without, for the hunger passion was strong within her.
The wild duck she sought and knew their haunts of old. It was because of her skill in catching them that she had earned her name among the Cave People.
Better than any other, she knew their habits and how to catch and kill one among them without alarming the flock.
This she had discovered when she was a very little girl. In those days it had been almost impossible for the Cave People to catch the wild duck. While they were sometimes successful in killing one, the others always scattered in terror. Soon they began to regard the Cave People as their enemies and immediately one of them appeared the alarm was given.
But when Quack Quack, the mother of Laughing Boy, was ten years old and the Cave People were disgusted because the wild ducks eluded them so quickly, she found a way to deceive the flocks.
She had waded out into the fork of the river, with the great green leaves of the cocoanut palm wet and flapping about her head, for the sun was very hot, and she stood quietly among the rushes, when a flock of wild ducks swam slowly down the stream. Suddenly she stretched out her arm, under the water, and seized one of the ducks by the legs and drew him down. And then the rest of 22the flock, unsuspicious of danger, swam on slowly around the bend.
1. Prof. Frederick Starr says in his Some First Steps in Human Progress that this old method of catching wild ducks is still practiced by the tribes in Patagonia.
Then the little brown girl ran out of the water holding aloft the duck, which was dead. Her mother was very proud as well as the young brown girl, and all the Cave People clapped their hands and said, “Good! Good!” And the young men said “Woman,” meaning she was grown very wise, and after that everybody called her Quack Quack, after the voice of the wild duck.
And Quack Quack grew very proud of her accomplishment and spent long hours hiding in the rushes for ducks. All the Cave People put leaves or bark over their heads in order to hide themselves and tried to catch them as the brown young girl had done, but they always frightened away the flock even when they were lucky enough to seize one of the ducks.
Many years had passed since the brown girl discovered the new way of hunting, but the brown woman, whom they still called Quack Quack, had not forgotten.
She could not forget with a great hunger in her breast, as she slipped through the wood along the river bank.
Gently she stepped, making no sound, and every little while she parted the brushes lining 23the river with her hands and peered through. But there were no ducks and she caught her breath each time eagerly and went further on, twitching her ears nervously.
When she was almost exhausted, after some time, she again parted the brush. Now her eyes flashed, her small nostrils quivered and her hands worked convulsively, for there, not very far away, evidently drowsing near the rushes, she saw a solitary wild duck.
The brown woman drew in her breath, and softly, very softly, withdrew from the brush and bent her steps further up the river. On her way she tore a long strip of dead bark from a tree and wound it carefully around her head and face.
Then she plunged into the river until it rose above her shoulders, when she waded very gently with the current, down stream. The water was very cold, but Quack Quack clutched her hands sharply and stepped onward, deeper into the sluggish current, till only the rough bark which covered her head, remained in view.
Slowly, very slowly, she felt her way over the soft bottom, making no sound, causing not even a ripple in the water. A small bough floated at her side and she kept pace with it, going no faster, no slower than it drifted, till she came close, very close, to the motionless duck. Then her hand shot forth and she dragged it sharply under the water. But it was alone. There was none to take flight 24at its cries and Quack Quack, the brown woman, scrambled up the bank, wringing the duck’s neck as she ran.
She shivered in the wind and shielded herself in the brush, and then, lying flat on the ground, buried her teeth in the duck’s breast. Swiftly she ate, making loud noises with her lips and grunting joyfully, and not until the last portion was gone did she rise and turn her face toward the Hollow. Her stomach sagged with its heavy load and she walked slowly, glutted with food.
When the Cave People saw her, they cried out, “Wild Duck, Wild Duck!” They looked at her stomach, big and distended and were very miserable, for they knew after what manner she had earned her name.
The fire on the rocks in the Hollow was cold and dead and Strong Arm was very angry, but Quack Quack said nothing. She heard the cry of Laughing Boy as she slipped into the Cave, and she threw herself onto the bed of dead leaves and drew him, whimpering, to her breast.
As far back as any of the Cave People could remember, their fathers had used the bones of wild beasts as weapons. I suppose they discovered long before that the marrow inside these bones was very good to eat. Then they hammered them with great stones till the bones split open and after they had eaten the marrow somebody discovered the sharp bones made very formidable weapons. No one had ever found sticks so strong and so sharp as these bone weapons.
By and by all the Cave People possessed great bones, split at one end, like a sharp sword. Almost every day the youths and maidens threw bones or sticks to display their skill. And the one whose aim was true and who showed most power 28in his arm, strutted about and stuck out his chest, in order that all the other Cave people might know how great he was.
One there was whom they called Big Nose. Now in the time of the Cave People it was a marvelous thing for a child to possess a nose that protruded. Generally cave noses were much like the noses of the Tree People, with merely two large nostrils in the center of the face, slightly extended, preceding the head in order that the owner might catch the smell of danger or of good food. But him the Cave People called Big Nose because his nose turned down instead of upward, and it extended nearly half an inch beyond his face.
When he was only a slim brown youth, Big Nose became able to out-throw all the other young folks. He could fling his rough bone javelin many feet further than any of the others and with greater force. At the edge of the woods, he would hurl it far among the trees and clip off, every time, the heads of the small purple flower that grew tall and slim in the forest.
Big Nose grew proud and held his head very high. And he began, after a little while, to wander farther and farther into the woods alone, for he desired greatly to meet the mountain lion or the green snake, in order that he might kill them with his weapon and become still greater in the eyes of the Cave People.
29Every one thought he was brave but very foolish, for the youths and maidens rarely wandered about in the forest alone. Too often had their brothers gone out and never returned, and there was fear in their hearts.
But in spite of their warnings, Big Nose continued to hunt and one day, when he had traveled beyond the great rocks, he discovered a large tree lying prone upon the ground. The spring storms had uprooted it and flung it down to die.
Big Nose sped on till he reached the oak tree, when he heard, from its branches, a deep growl and much scratching. Big Nose drew back quickly and sheltered himself behind a great tree, waiting. Aloft he held his bone spear, ready to hurl it upon the enemy.
He waited a long time, but nothing came forth from the boughs of the oak tree, and gradually he grew bolder and cautiously advanced again. His ears twitched constantly and he drew his lips back from his teeth just as dogs do when they attack the enemy.
Big Nose still heard the low growling, but he saw nothing. When he reached the fallen oak, he saw that its branches were flung over a deep hole in the ground. He peered into it carefully and saw a black bear, digging frantically with her paws. Evidently she had blundered through the branches of the tree and had fallen down into the hollow.
30When Big Nose found there was no danger, he grew very happy and laughed softly to himself, for the black bear stood upon her hind feet and clawed the air, trying to get out.
And he dropped stones upon her head till she grew wild with rage and staggered about trying to reach him with her paws. Big Nose laughed softly and continued to tease her till she stood again on her hind feet, exposing her throat in rage. Then he lifted his arms above his head and flung the bone javelin into her breast with all his strength.
The bear dropped to the ground pawing at the bone which protruded from her throat, dripping with blood. Furiously she tore about the pit, beating its sides with her paws. And Big Nose was terrified when he saw his bone weapon fall to the bottom of the hollow, and he ran about hunting for a long stick with which he hoped to poke it out again.
When he returned to the pit, bearing sticks and boughs, he found the bear pressing her paws to her breast and growling with rage.
Very carefully he bent over the hollow and poked his weapon, but the bear discovered his movements and turned quickly upon him. With a stroke of her great paw, she slashed savagely at his arm, and laid it open to the bone. Big Nose choked back a cry of pain.
31Then he arose to his feet and staggered homeward. Softly he went and his feet touched the earth gently. Dry leaves did not crack under them and he made no sound. But his wound bled badly and he grew weak with pain.
Then he stopped at the side of a dead tree and tore off a strip of bark, which he wrapped tightly around his arm. And he sped quickly, for wild beasts came forth eagerly at the smell of blood and he had no weapon with which to defend himself.
But he arrived at the hollow in safety. And the old men among the Cave People nodded their heads and threw out their hands, as much as to say:
“We told you so.”
But the youths and maidens gathered around Big Nose with much interest, saying, “What? What?” which, in the language of the Cave People, means, What is the matter?
And the brown maidens came near and gazed upon Big Nose with wonder and admiration. Even Light Foot, who had, alone, slain the man, who came down the river, from the enemies, the Arrow People, was pleased with Big Nose and brought herbs with which to wrap his wounds.
But Big Nose waved them all aside with a lofty gesture. Though the pain hurt him sorely, his face was calm, and he knew all the Cave People would think long of his bravery. And his blood 32was warm because Light Foot looked upon him with love and fire in her eyes.
When all the eyes of the Cave People were directed upon him, Big Nose knelt quickly on the ground and dug a small hole in the earth. With his arm that was uninjured, he pointed into it, growling in imitation of the black bear. And they knew he had discovered a bear that had stumbled into a hollow. Then Big Nose threw a stick into the hole and they understood he had hurled his bone javelin upon the bear. Snatching a second stick, he poked furiously to show how he had sought to extricate his weapon. With another deep growl, he pulled out his arm and held his wound where all could see.
It was in this way that the Cave People talked to each other. Their words were few and most of their ideas were expressed by gestures. “Quack, quack,” they said when they meant wild duck. A deep growl signified the black bear, while a long line, made by drawing a finger through the dust or sand, gave everybody to understand the person spoke of a snake.
If you have seen a pantomime show, you will understand something of the manner of the gesture language of the Cave People. Even we “civilized” folks, long accustomed to verbal language, say many things to each other every day, by facial expression and by gesture.
And so, even the children among the Cave 33People understood the adventures Big Nose had encountered. When his pantomime monologue was finished, the men and women of the tribe rose eagerly. They pointed first to the hole Big Nose had dug in the ground, and then toward the forest, as much as to say,
“Is the bear still in the pit?”
And one of them asked “Big Nose kill?” Big Nose shook his head and started toward the wood, indicating that the Cave Men were to follow.
So the strong men started through the forest. They hurried forward, keeping close together, with their bone javelins in their hands. For it was growing dusk. But all were hungry, and Cave People who have eaten little for twenty-four hours are willing to risk some danger for a meal of fresh meat.
They reached the pit safely. The bear still growled savagely in pain, and it was after much jabbing with their bone weapons that they dispatched her.
Speedily they dragged her from the hole and began at once to skin and disembowel her. They worked into the dark hacking up and distributing portions in order that each man might carry back to the Hollow his share of the burden.
Very sharply the Cave Men drew in their breath, for the fresh blood of the bear smelled good to them. But the terror of the night was strong upon them, and they listened intently, sniffing 34the air, twitching their ears and trembling with fear. For it is in the night that the wild beasts creep forth for food, and the smell of fresh blood reaches a long way off.
So the Cave Men huddled together very close, each carrying a portion of the dripping carcass of the bear. Big Nose, too, bore a huge chunk of the meat, which he chewed from time to time. His wounded arm ached sorely, but because of the pride in his heart, he spoke not. But the way to the Hollow seemed very far and his knees almost sank beneath him.
Each man bore his bone weapon pointing away from his fellows, in order that the hyena, if it sprang at them, might receive the sharp bone point.
Strong Arm was he who thought most of the fire and the safety it brought. But he was unable to express his thoughts. For the sign of the fire among the Cave People was spoken in a gesture, and gesture language is not understood in the darkness.
One terrifying incident marked the journey home. Soft foot-falls crumbled the leaves and two green eyes spotted the black, but the Cave Men huddled closer together, and shrieked so loudly that the animal, whatever it was, dashed away in fear.
When they came to the Hollow, the Cave Men called loudly to the others, and distributed big 35chunks of bear meat, which they all ate eagerly, with great satisfaction. Then the people crept into their caves, rolled great stones before the entrances, and slept.
Many suns came and went away again and Big Nose was so proud of his wound that he moved his arm with great care. The blood that covered it grew hard and black but he sought to preserve it there always, in order to recall to the minds of the Cave People thoughts of his courage. To him it was a precious ornament, so beautiful that it caused the young men to regard him with jealousy and the young women with admiration.
And Light Foot, who was very beautiful in the eyes of all the Cave People, refused to look any longer upon the other youths of the tribe. And when Big Nose asked her to share his cave, she was proud and happy and went to live with him and became his wife.
One there was among the youths of the Cave People whom they had never called “Man,” which is to say, “you are wise and brave; therefore you are a man.” Him they called Run Fast, because, in spite of the hair grown heavy upon his face, it was always his custom to run away when trouble came.
All the Cave People were often afraid, for death sometimes lurked in the shadows, and their ignorance was so great that they were unable to explain very common occurrences. But Run Fast 36was more fearful than the old women and the little children.
Run Fast hated Big Nose because Big Nose had done all the things he was afraid to do.
But one day he crept into the wood. He thought he knew of a way that would cause all the Cave People to look upon him with admiration. He did not see Laughing Boy slip through the brush behind him.
Run Fast did not travel far. He never went far from the Hollow when he was alone. And he did not see little Laughing Boy, who watched him curiously from the bushes.
Then Run Fast did a very strange thing. Seizing his split bone knife, he scraped his arm till the blood ran and dropped on the ground. Then he bound it tightly, with a piece of bark, just as Big Nose had done.
He returned to the Hollow, screaming wildly, until the Cave People gathered to learn the cause of his distress. And he repeated, in the language of gesture, the same story Big Nose had told a few suns before.
The strong men and the women surveyed him sharply, for it did not seem possible to them that Run Fast had killed anything. But little Laughing Boy, who saw that Run Fast was receiving much attention because of the blood upon his arm, pushed his way among the people.
With a stone in his hand, he rubbed fiercely up 37and down upon his forearm, till the blood flowed, pointing to Run Fast and shaking his head.
His meaning was plain. The Cave People understood him. It was, “See me. I can scratch myself harder than Run Fast did.”
Then all the Cave People knew what Run Fast had done and they cried “Baby! Baby!” to Run Fast and he was disgraced before them all.
After that, when the young men of the tribe came home with blood upon their bodies, the strong men shook their heads and refused to believe tales of their adventures, unless they brought back something to prove their words. So it came to be a custom among the Cave People that the men or women who had killed a savage beast carried home with him the tail, or the hide or teeth of that animal. These they wore always as tokens of their bravery. Thus the Cave People first adorned their bodies.
The Cave People were skillful fisher folk. From the bark of the cocoanut palm, which they bound to the forked branches of trees, they made nets and caught the fish.
The Cave babies were able to swim almost before they could walk. When for the first time their fathers and mothers threw them into the edge of the river they would beat the water with their little hands, and, with much splashing, make their way toward the bank again.
Boat making, however, came slowly to the Cave People. They knew, of course, how logs, or the trunks of trees float, but tree-felling was beyond their knowledge and their tools.
42Not until they had learned to fashion cane rafts rudely strung or bound together with strips of bark, were the Cave People able to ride against the current of the river. But these cane rafts were so light that they were able, with little effort, to paddle up stream, if they hugged the banks of the river where the current was weak.
When the men of the Hairy Folk, who dwelt far up the river, descended upon the Cave People and sought to take away their women and their daughters, the Cave People gave them blow for blow and, in the end, drove the intruders back into the wood.
And the secret of the matter was a strange sickness that had came upon the women of the Hairy Folk, and had stricken them with an unknown illness. The women of the Hairy Folk had died in great pain, one by one, till only the old and unattractive ones remained to the tribe. And the young men of the Hairy Folk went forth to seek new wives.
Now Run Fast was the greatest coward among the tribe of the Cave People, but after the Hairy Folk were driven away, he felt that a great strength had come into his heart.
Much hair covered his face, and his limbs were as lithe as the branches of the willow, shining in the sun like bars of burnished copper. But his courage was like the water of cool springs, running from him always.
43For this reason he had never been able to win for himself a wife. Stripling lads had routed him and taken the young women he loved, and so he remained alone in the tribe.
Deep in his heart Run Fast knew that it would be by brave deeds alone that he could gain a wife. And it was the laugh of the Cave People and the scorn of the young women, as well as the hunger in his heart, that drove Run Fast one day along the river bank.
He bore only his bone weapon, split at the end like a strong javelin. At his side, and beyond, down past him, flowed the great river and as he ran, he kept close to the bank for he knew that there only would he be able to elude the fierce hyenas and the black bear.
It was the first time Run Fast had ever traveled forth from the Cave People alone; there was a trembling in his strong limbs, and upon the breaking of a twig, or the falling of a branch, he started forth closer to the river.
And the waters rushed continually past him with a mad roar and he knew that he had only to throw himself into the current to be borne swiftly back in the direction whence he had come. Of this one thing Run Fast had no fear, for he had been accustomed to the water for many seasons.
For many hours he traveled, only pausing at the edge of the river and dipping his palms, cupwise, to drink.
44And when he grew hungry Run Fast skirted the edge of the forest for nuts. Then he resumed his journey, for he remembered the word of Strong Arm, and his gesture toward the sun, when Strong Arm spoke of the homes of the Hairy Folk. This meant that it would take one of the Cave Men a day of hard walking to reach their dwelling places.
When the Western sky was covered with the gold of the setting sun Run Fast found a raft tied to a tree with a piece of bark. The raft was rude and very heavy, being merely the trunk of a great tree across which were bound branches and pieces of cane, which served to prevent the log from rolling over in the river and dumping the people into the water.
Run Fast knew the raft belonged to the Hairy Folk, for according to the words of Strong Arm, there remained but a little way to travel before he would reach their homes.
But he marked the spot where the raft lay well. If the Hairy Folk discovered his approach, he had only to throw himself upon the raft and be borne toward the Hollow where dwelt the tribe of the Cave People.
So eager was Run Fast to reach the enemy that he slipped through the wood, like a shadow in the evening. The rustle of leaves was not heard as his feet sped over them. And he was in the land of the Hairy Folk before he was aware.
45When he saw the men walking about or squatting over a piece of bear meat, Run Fast slipped into the brush where, unseen, he could watch the manner of living of these folks. His limbs trembled sorely for the quick beating of his heart refused to subside, so heavy was it with fear.
But his heart said over and over again that did he but kill one of the men of the Hairy Folk, or return to his people with one of their women, all the Cave People would look upon him with wonder and admiration. He knew also that if the men of the Hairy Folk discovered him he would have need to run very swiftly to elude their vengeance. It was this thought that brought the sweat to his brow and caused his hair to bristle with fear.
The longing to feed his anger against the enemy burned within him, but Fear taught him reason. So he lay long among the bushes, awaiting an opportunity to harm them.
Men he saw lying with distended bellies, after a meal of fresh meat, but no women. Darker it grew, as the sun continued to ride low in the West, and he had need of all his new found courage to prevent his limbs from running away.
Came a time when he felt he could endure the waiting no longer that a woman walked forth from one of the caves. Tall she was and very thin, and so heavy grew the hair upon her chin and face that he first mistook her for a man. Heavily she walked, as though she were very old or weary with 46much pain. And at her heels trotted a small brown boy.
Long Run Fast watched her eagerly for his cave was lonely for want of a wife. His eyes gleamed and he heard in his mind the yells of the men of the Hairy Folk when he should carry off one of their women.
At length as the woman bent her steps toward the caves Run Fast rushed upon her, like the winds that come when the buds grow large. He made no sound, but the brown boy who first saw him set up a cry of alarm. With a sweep of his arm, Run Fast struck the boy to the earth and seized the woman, whom he bore, clawing and scratching, to the bank of the river.
The hairy woman showed her great teeth, making hideous sounds of rage. She tore at his hair and dug her teeth into his arms.
But nothing stopped Run Fast and on he dashed, dragging, pulling and finally carrying her as he went. Soon they reached the edge of the river where lay the raft. And close upon their heels, mad with rage, came the men of the Hairy Folk.
Very quickly Run Fast tore loose the bark that held the raft and drew the woman onto it with him. Then he gave a mighty shove that sent them whirling into the river, where the current caught the raft and bore it swiftly down stream.
The men of the Hairy Folk were now on the 47bank of the river and some of them leaped into the water. Others hurled their bone weapons toward Run Fast. But none of them stuck home, and beating down the woman he paddled with his hands, and they were soon beyond pursuit.
At this season of the year the current of the river made about five miles an hour, and the distance it had taken Run Fast a hard day’s journey to cover, would be made by the raft in a few hours.
Continually the old woman struck at Run Fast and he had great difficulty in keeping her from throwing herself into the river. But a blow from his fist soon quieted her and she ceased to struggle.
By and by the stars came out and the moon showed her face and covered the surface of the river with a flood of gold. The old woman snarled, but Run Fast held her very tightly in his arms.
His heart sung a song of pride and triumph for he knew that he would no longer be the scorn of the Cave People. No more would he be compelled to sit alone in his cave with the howl of the hyena to make him more lonely.
The day of his triumph was at hand and with tenderness he drew the old woman close to his breast. And the stars laughed and the moon smiled, while the raft floated steadily, noiselessly down the river. But the face of the woman was hard with pain, for she knew that men may come 48and men may go, but the small brown boy, in the home of the Hairy Folk, would be her boy forever.
Who can know the understanding of the dog, which lost in a strange land, finds his way home again! Or the animals of the forest, how they find the old haunts through the unknown ways! And who among us can say how Run Fast understood that when the moon rose high in the heavens the raft would be nearing the bend in the river which appeared before the Hollow, wherein lay the homes of the Cave People!
For the Cave People were unable to count. One, they made known by the pointing of a fore-finger upward; and two by pointing two fingers. But beyond this, they had no signs for the numbers but flung out their hands as though to say, “many.”
But Run Fast knew even as his brothers would have known under similar circumstances. And when the raft curved about the bend, he paddled with his hand to steer the boat close to the shore.
Very cautiously he pushed the woman on to the bank before him, for the beasts came often to the river edge to drink, but he saw no danger. Then, making fast the boat, he bore the woman of the Hairy Folk over the rocks to his cave and rolled a great stone before the entrance.
And his heart was glad and his blood was warm, for he knew that no longer would he be an outcast among his own people.
49Two suns had come and gone again when Run Fast bent his steps toward the forest, and the old woman disappeared. Doubtless she turned her face toward the home of the small brown boy among the Hairy Folk. Run Fast was thus again made lonely, but the voices of his brothers cheered him. Always they said, “man, man,” when he appeared, for he had proven his courage and his bravery among the tribe. The young women looked tenderly at the strength of his limbs and he was become honored among his people.
[Charles Darwin says in his Descent of Man: “In utterly barbarous times the women have more power in choosing, rejecting and tempting their lovers, or of afterwards changing their husbands, than might have been expected.” He gives several illustrations. Page 620, Crowell edition.]
When the luscious fruit ripened and fell and the nut season came around, the time of joy and plenty was at hand for the Cave Dwellers. Then millions of fish sought the shallows of the river; nourishing plants, with a strange bittersweet flavor, thrust up their heads, and the nests were full of eggs for the hand of him who cared to gather.
It was then only that the Cave People were never hungry. With plenty abounding always in the forest, they feasted continually and grew fat against those periods of famine that spread through the long after-suns and the dreary wet seasons.
True it was, that their enemies of the forest throve and grew strong also. The green snakes awoke and wound themselves around the branches of trees, with eyes that glistened and glowed toward 54every living creature. And the brush grew thick and abounded with creeping things.
The cubs of the black bear flourished and the fierce hyena yielded bounteously to her young. Great flocks of strange and familiar birds darkened the sky and swooped down upon the berry bushes and swept them bare. But for all these there was enough and to spare for the wants of the Cave Dwellers.
Even the limbs of Strong Arm, the wise and brave, grew soft during this season, for his stomach was always filled. The fierce rays of the tropical sun beat down upon the heads of the Cave Dwellers, filling them with a sweet drowsiness. There was nothing to drive them forth from the shades of the Hollow, where the waters of the river washed the green rocks, and teemed with thousands of golden and silver fish.
It was not in the season of plenty that the Cave People learned new ways to trap the black bear, or to snare the wild pig. Nor did they at that time seek to fashion new weapons or to travel strange paths. Rarely they plied the waters. These were not the days of progress or discovery, and the minds of the Cave People grew torpid and they forgot many things they had learned in the times of hunger and activity.
The hands of the youths and maidens lost a portion of their cunning and the older members of the tribe grew lazy and dull. For the bread fruit 55ripened and the tubers grew thick and all the land smiled with a bountiful supply of daily food.
The season of plenty was come. And the Cave People loved and laughed and feasted and were content. Few dangers menaced during those days and the members of the tribe forgot fears and drowsed in peace.
But the children of the Cave People grew strong, lifting their heads. The fierce rays of the sun were unable to subdue them. Laughing Boy, grown tall and straight, was weaned at last. Always he laughed, showing his large white teeth, like a dark dog snapping at a bone. And he danced and ran about, spilling the strong life that surged up within him and would not be stilled.
With his young friend, The Fish, whom the Cave People had given his name because of his early skill in swimming, Laughing Boy learned many things. Their joy and juvenility seemed exhaustless, and their romps and chatterings ended only with the days.
Not many years before, the fathers and mothers of the Cave People had come down out of the trees to dwell. The Tree Dwellers found shelter in the natural caves that lined the river bank. In time they learned to walk erect, on two legs. The Cave Dwellers resembled them very closely. The arms of the Cave People had grown shorter as they ceased to swing themselves constantly, from tree to tree. The thumb of the foot disappeared 56and they now possessed a great toe in its place. Still the feet of the Cave Dwellers retained the power of prehension. They were able to hold—to cling awkwardly with them.
In the children this power was very marked. On the skirts of the forest they loved to clamber up the slim trees, poise on the swaying boughs and swing themselves from branch to branch, like young monkeys. This gave them strength of limb and quickness of vision. Soon they learned to choose those branches strong enough to bear their weight, as they flung themselves through great gaps of space to seize the boughs of a neighboring tree.
But the fear of the green snakes, that wound about and hid themselves among the leaves, kept them near the Hollow. Only on rare occasions did they penetrate deep into the forest.
Among many of the savages living to-day great skill and agility prevails. We are told of tribes whose members are able, by a partial circling of the trunks, with their arms, and by the clinging and pressing of flexible toes, to mount trees in a sort of walk.
Jack London writes that this is a common practice of the natives of the South Sea Islands. And we are assured by several young friends that the art has not wholly disappeared among our own boys.
Many were the feats accomplished among the 57swaying branches of the trees by Laughing Boy, and his friend, The Fish, in their frolics many years ago. Their feet were never still. Their jabberings flowed without end. Tireless as the birds they were and gay as youth itself.
One day, as they played, Laughing Boy found a flat, curved piece of wood. It was as long as the arm of a man and had been split from a tree during a storm. Laughing Boy hurled the stick far into the air at his friend, The Fish. But The Fish threw himself from the bank, into the river, to avoid it. And he screamed with joy as he disappeared beneath the waters. Then a very strange thing happened. For the flat stick swished through the air, like a great bird, far over the river. Then it turned about and whirled slowly back again, where it fell at the feet of Laughing Boy. At once the hair of his head rose with fear, and he ran to his mother uttering shrill squeals of alarm. Quack Quack awoke from her sleep and snatched up a bone weapon, for she thought one of the forest enemies had attacked Laughing Boy.
But he pointed only to the strange, curved stick and clung to her, in terror. All the while he jabbered wildly. Quack Quack desired to quiet his fear, so she flung the stick far out over the river, as he had done. Then again the big stick swished through the air, turned about and whirled gently back, striking her arm. Then it fell at her feet.
Whereupon Laughing Boy screamed and ran 58into the Cave. Then a great fear assailed Quack Quack and she added her cries to his. And all the Cave People hurried to her side to learn the cause of so much trouble.
Again the strange stick was hurled toward the river, and once more it returned. And all the Cave People marveled and were afraid. For they could not understand a stick that returned when it was thrown.
Strong Arm only was brave enough to touch it with his fingers. His face bore a strange wonder that such things could be possible to a mere stick. And he carried it to his cave, where he hid it among the rocks, under the dead leaves.
But when the nuts were gone and the season of plenty had passed away, and there was need for the Cave People to hunt, he brought it forth again. After many seasons, a flat stick, curved in the manner of the one first found by Laughing Boy, came to be used as a weapon by the Cave People.
Perhaps you have seen the painted boomerangs sold in some of our stores to-day. They are the same shape as those first used by the ancient Cave Dwellers. A small pasteboard boomerang, cut the right size and shape will interest the children. When struck with a lead pencil, it will whirl through the air and return, just as the larger and more formidable boomerangs did when thrown at their enemies by the Cave Dwellers many thousands of years ago.
59After a time the alarm and excitement caused by Laughing Boy’s discovery of the first rude boomerang, died away. The strange stick no longer menaced them, and the Cave People returned to their feasting and their slumbers. And Laughing Boy and his young friend, The Fish, resumed their play.
They chased each other up and down the Hollow or concealed themselves in the long grass that lined the river bank. At each discovery they tossed and rolled over and over again, like puppies, wild with the exuberance of young blood.
It was one of their great pleasures to lie chattering in the grass on the top of the river bank and roll, tumbling, down into the clear waters. Then, amid a great splashing and much laughter, to clamber out and up the slope again. Thus the children of the Cave Dwellers romped and grew strong, during the season of plenty, in the days of old.
One day it chanced that Laughing Boy stumbled over a large cocoanut, during his frolics with his young friend. He seized it in his arms and danced about, jabbering with glee, that his friend might know the treasure he had found.
In an instant The Fish was upon him, but Laughing Boy rolled over in the grass and bounded away, with squeals of delight. Then, for no reason in the world, save that the blood pounded 60riotously in his veins, he darted into the wood, bearing his prize.
The Fish followed, close on his heels, as Laughing Boy threw shrill mocking cries over his shoulder. The Fish gave answer with a whirling stone, while more mocking cries from Laughing Boy announced that his aim was bad. And, O, the fun of the chase through the deep woods! The rollicking laugh and the deep shouts of The Fish as they startled the birds from their nests in the old forest!
The brush grew thicker with every step and the trees locked branches more closely with their neighbors for want of room to stretch them freely toward the sun.
When he reached the tall lautania palm which marked the point beyond which it was unsafe for the children of the Cave People to go alone, Laughing Boy concealed himself in the brush. He thought to be able to elude his brown playmate, and while The Fish sought him beyond the bunya-bunya, to dash backward, toward the Hollow.
In a moment came The Fish. But the deep breathing of Laughing Boy and a rustling of the bushes made known his hiding place. As his friend parted the thicket, Laughing Boy had time only to crawl out on the opposite side and dart onward ere he was caught. A shout and a shrill chattering told his victory, and he disappeared again. 61The Fish grunted his displeasure, but he was not far behind.
In the tall bambusa Laughing Boy again hid himself, and it was by the tripping of The Fish over a creeping vine that he escaped. But his foot blundered on a cone from the bunya tree and the cocoanut slipped from his hands. The two boys threw themselves downward and rolled over each other in their eagerness to recover it.
The Fish gave a shout of joy and made away, holding the cocoanut above his head for Laughing Boy to see. A warm sweat covered their bodies and their bronze skins shone like burnished copper.
On and on they ran. Further and still further they plunged into the depths of the forest. They forgot the dangers that lurked there and the wise warnings of the Cave People. They forgot their playmate, Crooked Leg, who had wandered into the wood and vanished from the face of the Hollow. Fears they had none, only laughter and the joy of abundant youth!
All this time the grown members of the tribe of the Cave People slept securely in the cool of the hollow. Their protruding bellies told of continued eating and no one among them marked the absence of The Fish and Laughing Boy.
Thicker and more dark grew the forest which the boys penetrated. The way grew rough, and the tough vines trailing through the undergrowth 62often tripped them. Still they lunged forward with no thought of turning their faces toward the Hollow.
It was a crackling in the brush that warned them. The cocoanut rolled from the hands of The Fish and the boys crouched low together. No sound they made, save the breath in their throats which struggled to be free. Couchant, they strained their bodies into an attitude of listening. Came again a soft rustling in the thicket. This time nearer. And then—through the long bambusa, they saw the head and throat of a grey hyena.
For a moment they paused while the sweat froze on their brown skins. Their lips drew back in a snarl of helpless rage. But the hyena covered the ground with great bounds, and they flung their arms about a tall sapling. Their breath burst from them in quick gasps, for they were near spent with running.
But they dug their toes into the rough bark and the strength of The Fish enabled him to speedily mount to the forked branches above. But many moments Laughing Boy clung half-way up the trunk of the tree, with the hyena snapping at his heels. At every leap so near she came, that he curled his feet up under his small body. The teeth of the hyena shone white and her eyes gleamed. A great fear paralyzed him. The Fish danced about on the limbs above, chattering wildly, 63till Laughing Boy gathered breath and courage to continue his way to safety.
There he sat, huddled among the leaves, close to The Fish and for a long time they gazed, quivering, at the enemy below. But a caution, wholly new, had come to them, and they scrambled into the branches of a neighboring banyan slowly and with care. Thence on through several trees that brought them nearer the homes of the Cave Dwellers. With much shivering they made their way pausing often to mark the progress of the enemy. She moved as they advanced, persistently, like a hungry dog watching a bone.
Slowly and fearfully the boys continued toward the Hollow, through the interlocked limbs of the great trees. But the hyena followed. From a bunya-bunya the boys pelted her with cones which she dodged easily. Unmoved, she continued to gaze longingly upon them, while the slather dripped from her lips.
At one time the boys almost threw themselves into the coils of a huge green snake, that wound itself around the trunk of a cocoanut palm. They were not expecting new dangers. A quick leap and they swung downward, clinging closely to the bough of a neighboring bunya, and then scrambled up to safety once more. Thus they made on, but the distance they had run so joyously a short time before, seemed now to stretch before them without end. Sometimes they paused to rest and 64gather breath. At these points they huddled together and whimpered very low, or snarled, jabbering at the enemy, as she sat on her haunches, waiting.
But the glad time came when they saw below the familiar berry bushes. Beyond that the arboreal way was not unknown. With a new freedom and ease they flung themselves forward. Their leaps grew daring and their feet more sure, till at last they reached the edge of the wood near the Hollow.
Here they lifted their voices in sharp cries that aroused the Cave People from their torpor. Soon the stalwart members of the tribe had seized their bone weapons and hurried to the rescue.
At first the hyena did not retreat before them, but darted in and out slashing the Cave People with her great fangs. But the fierce stabs of many bone weapons soon sent her fleeing back into the forest. Soon Quack Quack soothed the whimpering of Laughing Boy, holding him close to her breast.
The nut seasons came and the nut seasons passed away and Laughing Boy grew tall and strong. Though his deeds were brave and his arm was long, he hunted with the tribe, for he had learned the wisdom of the Cave Dwellers. He knew that it was not safe for a man or a woman to fight alone. The least of the forest enemies was able to destroy them. Strong men had wandered 65into the forest to return no more. But when the tribe went forth great deeds were possible, even the sabre-toothed tiger had been destroyed by the thrusts of many. It was the strength of all the Cave People that made safe the lives of every one.
To the Cave People, dreams were chief among the great mysteries. None of the strange occurrences of the world about them, so filled them with wonder and awe, as the deeds they performed and the adventures they encountered while their bodies lay wrapped in sleep. Often it was difficult for them to separate the dream world from the world of reality. This may account for the reports of those anthropologists who charge savage tribes with being the most amazing liars in the world. It may be that some of these primitive men and women have merely related the remarkable exploits of their dreams which they were not always able to distinguish clearly from their actual experiences.
70Often a Cave Man might go forth alone in the night, and after traveling a journey of many suns, slay fearlessly all the members of a hostile tribe, while he slept securely in his cave. But when he reported his dream adventures to his wife, she refused often to believe them. Whenever she stirred during the night, she had found him at her side. Or perhaps she had groaned through the long darkness, with the colic that comes from too much eating of the early fruit. This she made known to the dreamer. Indeed he had slumbered peacefully through all her trouble!
Again, when a Cave Dweller fell asleep beside his brothers and dreamed of dispatching the sabre-toothed tiger with a single blow, the whole tribe was ready to assure him, in the language of the Cave People, that he had not moved from his resting place, but had slept continually. This was all very strange.
When the fire dashed through the sky, during a storm, or the waters of the river climbed up over the banks and flooded the woods, they were not so wonderful as these dream things.
Many men and women of the tribe had closed their eyes in the long sleep, but when the Cave People slumbered, the dead came back again, to journey and hunt the forests with their brothers and sisters. And so, in time, the Cave People came to believe that their friends, who had deserted the body, still lived. That they had, themselves, 71fought and hunted while their bodies slept, the Cave People well knew, and that the dead come back again, they knew also, for they had seen and spoken with them in their dream journeyings.
This was the origin of the idea of spirit, at first only dim and confused but gathering strength as the years rolled away. The seed of the idea of immortality sprang also from the dreams of primitive man. Though the sabre-toothed tiger devoured a brother he would surely return again. They had seen these things with their own eyes, in dreams.
The Cave People saw also their shadows that followed where they went, moving slowly when they walked, and swiftly when they ran, keeping ever at their sides.
When a Cave Man gazed into the river, always a face looked back at him, and the other members of the tribe told him he saw his own image. This also was very strange. If he journeyed as far as the great canyon, and sent his voice echoing among the big rocks, a call came bounding back to him, although there was no other man there. Gradually he came to believe the cry was the voice of a spirit and that the face he had seen in the waters of the river was the face of a spirit also.
To all things the Cave People attributed animation. To them everything was alive. Young trees were the children of big trees and great 72stones were the fathers of small stones. Little they spoke of these things, for their words were few and it is impossible to tell many things in a gesture language. Danger and confusion they saw everywhere, for the whole world was filled with happenings they could not understand.
Many seasons had passed since they had found the Fire beast eating up the trees in the woods. The small blaze they had kept alive in the Hollow had died long before, when Quack Quack forgot to feed it. In these days the Fire flashed only through the heavens during a storm. Strong Arm had been able to call it by striking a sharp stone against the rock before his cave. When the darkness came on and he struck the rock swiftly, a small spark fell. Again and again the Cave People saw these sparks. But so quickly were they gone that no man or woman was able to catch them, or to feed them the dead leaves they had brought.
At this time Big Nose made a great discovery. He had chased a fat lizard over the rocks and had seen it disappear into the hollow of a tree that lay prone on the river bank. Immediately he poked violently with a long rod of bamboo, in order to drive the lizard out. To him the fresh flesh of the lizard was sweeter than any other meat.
On removing the rod, Big Nose found the end of it warm. From one side to the other, Big Nose 73tipped his brown head, like a great monkey, in an effort to understand this new experience. Then he trotted off to make known these things to the tribe.
Soon all the Cave People gathered around the dead tree, chattering curiously. Big Nose thrust the bamboo rod into the hollow trunk and pulled it out again. But this time it was not warm. The friction of the bamboo rubbed violently against the dry wood of the tree had caused the heat before, but Big Nose did not know this.
For a long time the Cave People chattered and gesticulated about the tree while Big Nose continually made the fire sign, waving his fingers upward, like smoke arising. One by one all the Cave People threw themselves upon their bellies and gazed into the hollow trunk. But they saw nothing.
At last Big Nose again thrust the bamboo into the tree, this time angrily, jamming it in and out with all the strength of his great arms. And the end of the rod came forth warm again. Then every member of the tribe must have his turn in thrusting. Each one sought to outdo his fellows in the frenzy of his movements.
Meanwhile the end of the rod had worn away, leaving a soft inflammable saw-dust in the old tree. And when Light Foot sent the rod in and out sharply with her strong, brown arms, the end of the bamboo came forth smoking.
74A flood of excited chatterings greeted her success and the Cave People cried “Food! Food!” which was the word they used for “eat” also. For they thought the Fire (within the tree) had begun to eat the bamboo rod. Many of them ran about gathering dry leaves to feed the Fire.
When the rod came forth at last, with its end a dull glow, Light Foot laid it on the rocks in the dead leaves. A soft breeze came from the river and coaxed the embers into a blaze. And the Cave People jabbered frantically as they gathered brush and wood.
Often they threw themselves on the rocks to gaze in wonder into the hollow tree. But many of them believed Light Foot had driven the Fire from the tree trunk, just as they had often forced out the lizard.
Thus for the first time in the memory of the tribe, a fire was kindled. And the hand of the maiden, Light Foot, had worked the miracle. The Cave People laughed and danced and sat in the Hollow long into the darkness; for security came with the Fire and their forest enemies were afraid.
But a time came when great rains fell and the Fire died away with every drop. And Strong Arm gathered a brand and carried it into his cave. But the smoke from the burning choked him and forced him out. Then he carried the Fire to the hollow of a tree that towered very high, and he 75fed the Fire in this hollow. There it lived for many suns, eating slowly into the tree trunk on one side.
The Sun saw many strange mysteries on the day when the Cave People first came upon the great canyon. It was during the period of the year that comes before the season of plenty.
Keen hunger assailed every living thing and sent them forth, sharp-eyed into the forest. The wild hog grew strong and wary from the struggles of the hard and meagre days. The green snakes hidden away, waited continually for the small forest folk to run into their coils. The lank black bear grew bold and desperate with the hunger passion and the Cave People acquired a new skill in hunting.
Beside the strength of their forest enemies, they were weak indeed. But armed with their long, sharp bone weapons, and a wonderful cunning, they fought in all their numbers and were able to triumph over the animals of the forest.
With eyes keen and tense hands gripping their weapons, they followed the trail of the black bear which led them through strange ways. At the breaking of a twig, they paused. And no falling leaf escaped them. Sounds they made none, as they slipped through the deep woods, one before the other.
76At last they came to an open space, where the trees ceased to grow and where the tracks of the bear were lost in a rocky way. Beyond them lay the canyon, which had been once the bed of a river. Only the waters of the spring rains lay in the hollows of the rocks that lined its bottom.
Here the Cave People halted, for they knew not which way the black bear had taken, nor how to follow her. As they separated to seek further for her tracks, no word was spoken. Only Strong Arm gave a low grunt of approval, as his comrades departed.
Then, in the silence of the old world, it came, the strange voice echoing down the great canyon, grunting in the tones of Strong Arm! The whole tribe heard it and they paused, motionless, while their eyes swept the canyon for him who had spoken. But they saw no one.
Silently they gathered together, with weapons raised. But the stillness remained unbroken. Then Strong Arm raised his voice in a soft “Wough!” And in his own tone, the Echo answered him, “Wough!”
It was very strange. The Cave People could not understand. But they forgot the black bear and sent their voices ringing down the great canyon. Came again the echo, in many tones, back to them.
Then a great chattering arose among them, 77and even as they spoke, the chatterings of many voices arose from the canyon.
“Wough-ee!” said the Cave People. And they gave a sign in the gesture language, for they thought the sounds were the voices of their enemies, the Hairy Folk.
With great caution they departed to the point whence the sounds had come. Not boldly, but by varied paths they made their way, slowly, concealing themselves behind the rocks and the trees as they progressed. Long they hunted, one and all, but no man they found, nor any signs of man, and they returned at length to the mouth of the great canyon.
Again their voices rang down the bed of the old river, this time defiantly. And the Echoes replied once more, challenging them. The Cave People grew angry and the search was continued, but they found no one. And they were compelled to return to their caves in the Hollow with hearts heavy with wrath against the Hairy Folk.
Often they returned to the great canyon, bearing their bone weapons. There they remained long in hiding, awaiting the advent of the enemy, till at last they learned no one was there. Then the mystery grew more strange, for no man could tell whence came the voices that replied to them.
But there came a time when the Cave People believed that these cries were the voices of the spirits that came to hunt with them, in their dream 78journeyings. No longer were they afraid. Only a great awe filled them and much wonder concerning these things.
Early in the spring the snows began to melt on the mountain tops, many miles above the Hollow, and to run down into little streams that lost themselves in the great river. Day by day the waters of the river arose along its banks. The Cave People gave little heed, for they had much to do at this time, to satisfy their hunger. Only the Old Woman bent her eyes on the whirling waters with fear and dread in her heart.
Long before the memory of the other members of the tribe, she recalled a time when the waters had clambered over the river banks and spread many a day’s journey into the deep forests. Many of her 82brothers and her sisters had been swallowed up by the angry waters. The members of her tribe had been scattered and joined new tribes. Since those days, she had always feared the river, when it rose in the spring.
When she warned the Cave People, one and all, they listened to her words, but they knew not what to do. And always the river rose higher and higher and its current grew more swift, tearing away the young saplings that grew low down, and bearing them swiftly away.
But the Cave People had need of great skill these days to satisfy the hunger of the tribe. A new activity seemed born unto them. Eyes grew keen for the tracks of the wild boar and their ears were open for a sound of the foot of the forest enemies.
Sharp eyes everywhere pierced the woods and glanced from the branches of trees, for man and beast had need to be ever alert and watchful to survive the dreary period of the hard seasons. The black bear appeared, thin and dangerous. But the Cave People eluded and outwitted her. Across yawning cracks in the ground or over great hollows, they threw branches of trees. And upon these branches they threw dead fish and smeared the blood of the wild duck.
Through the woods the smell of fresh blood reached the keen nose of the bear and she made her way thither to satisfy the hunger that gnawed 83her continually. But the branches gave way under her great bulk and she fell crashing into the pit below, where the Cave People killed her with their long bone weapons.
It was after one of these great bear feasts, when the Cave People had fed the Fire into a roaring blaze to protect them from the animals that grew over-bold at this season of the year, that the Old Woman renewed her warnings. The waters of the great river continued to climb upward and there remained but a little way before they should overflow the banks.
Then the Old Woman gathered the members of the tribe together and told them the story of her childhood days. The new words of the tribe came stumblingly to her lips, therefore she made known her thoughts chiefly in the gesture language.
First she pointed to the land across the river, waving her wrinkled hands northward. That way lay the home of her birth. Many, many years before—she held up both hands to indicate the time was beyond the power of counting—she had lived with her fathers and mothers, on a river bank. Very small she was in those days. Her head came only to the thigh of a man.
Came a time when the waters of the river crept up over the lands, just as they had begun to steal over the wood north of the Hollow. The people of her tribe had climbed into the great trees, but 84with the coming of every new sun, the waters rose higher and higher. Long the waters continued to climb till they became a great surging flood, creeping through the forest and at last joining the waters of the river that flowed beside the homes of the Cave People. Over all the world there remained no dry land.
And the Old Woman, who was then a child, dwelt for many suns with her fathers and mothers, in the tall trees.
But there came one day a storm, when the waters foamed and whirled and tore up the trunks of the great trees and hurled them into the flood. And the limbs of the tree, on which the Old Woman clung, were beaten and bent in the mighty struggle till at last, she was whipped from the branches and thrown into the waters, as nuts are shaken from the trees.
And the Old Woman was borne away in the swift current. She heard many cries, as the waters threw her about, and some of her people leaped into the flood to save her. But she was beaten about like a leaf in the wind and unable to call to them.
Soon she found herself dashed against the trunk of a tree, and she climbed upon it and clung to it for a long time. Often she grew very weary and slipped back into the waters, but always she clung to the branches of the tree, till, at last, she had been washed ashore. And she made her way 85into the new land till she came, by and by, to the homes of the Cave Dwellers.
Tubers they fed her and the eggs of the wild fowl. And she remained with them and became a member of the tribe.
Never again had the Old Woman beheld the people of her own tribe, save at night when she dreamed on her bed of dry leaves in the deep cave. Sometimes they returned to her then and told her strange things.
Thus the Old Woman told her story and when she was finished a trembling seized her brown body and she gazed long at the swift waters of the river. Of the color of the leaves, touched by the frosts of winter, were her wrinkled hands, with which she pointed toward the river. And the Cave People were seized with fear also, for even as they watched, small rivulets crept over the banks and trickled down into the Hollow.
Heavy rains fell all through the day that followed and the small streams of water that overflowed the banks found their way into all the little hollows, filling them. At night when the Cave Dwellers sought their caves, their hearts were filled with dread.
Quack Quack crouched close to Strong Arm, with her arms about little Laughing Boy. The rumbling and roar of the waters sounded in their ears, as the swollen river tore downward in her course. But, after a time, they fell asleep and forgot 86their terrors, till the cries of their brothers and sisters aroused them toward the morning.
Now the cave in which Strong Arm slept was upon a point above the caves of the other members of the tribe, but when he arose and rolled the great stone from the entrance of the cave, the snarling waters curled about his feet and wet them. And, when he looked into the Hollow, a strange sight met his eyes. For the river had risen in the darkness, covering the face of the world. Every moment the waters surged savagely onward over the land, into the deep woods, as though they meant to devour the whole earth.
At those points where the ground rose higher than the surrounding land, clustered the Cave People, chattering in terror and clinging desperately upon whatsoever their hands found. Very quickly Strong Arm called Quack Quack and Laughing Boy. And he assisted them to mount to the top of the cave, where Laughing Boy whimpered with fear. They heard the voice of the Old Woman, calling shrilly to them, as she pointed towards the branches of the tall trees in the forest, where they might find safety.
And many members of the tribe cast themselves into the waters that rose steadily every moment, and swam toward the woods. But the waters tossed them and the current pushed them ever backward. Often they were struck by great 87floating logs, that rolled over and over when they sought to climb up on them.
Then, amid the great tumult, was heard the voice of Light Foot and the sounds of Big Nose, her man, also. And when the Cave People looked about, they discovered a flood of huge logs and dead trees that had been jammed before the entrance of the cave wherein dwelt these two, barring the way out.
And every man in the whole tribe forgot his desire for safety to answer the cry for help that Light Foot sent up. For, among the Cave Dwellers, there was a great tenderness among the men and women of the tribe. The word of a woman bore great weight, for it was the joy of every man to please and aid her.
So Strong Arm threw himself into the water, with a cry to his brothers, while Quack Quack remained upon the top of the cave holding Laughing Boy in her arms, lest he be harmed.
Long the members of the tribe struggled with the current, till at last they reached the cave of Light Foot where she struggled with the logs that shut her in. With all their strength these strong men tugged and plucked at the trees. But with every effort the waters bore back on them, jamming the logs into a wedge again, between the cave and the rocks, till the Old Woman thought they should all be drowned.
88At last, however, Strong Arm thrust a great stick between the cave and the jam of trees and Big Nose and Light Foot were able to add their strength in diverting the danger. Soon they were free and making their way, with those who had saved them, toward the woods. It is well to note here, too, that the cave men thought always of the women, lending them every aid and that there was not one forgotten amid grave peril.
Not till it was too late to effect his rescue, however, did the Cave People remember Old Grey Beard, who had also become imprisoned in his cave. At that time the waters tore about the tops of the rocks and they knew it was too late to help him.
Although many swam for the woods, few arrived there. Strong Arm, Quack Quack and Laughing Boy, who had followed their friends, soon found themselves regretting the rocks above their cave. For all the drift borne down the river by the swift waters, seemed hemmed and wedged about the woods. Over these logs it was impossible to pass. For they rolled and dipped under the feet, dumping the Cave People back into the boiling water, sometimes crushing them between the great logs.
Strong Arm progressed beneath the debris, but he was unable to find an opening to come up, and was compelled to return to Quack Quack and Laughing Boy, who swam about the edge of the 89great mass of logs, awaiting him. Very dizzy he was and his lungs collapsed with his breath as he appeared, for the struggle against the current was almost beyond his strength.
Again and again they sought to reach the woods where they might find shelter in the trees, but each time they failed. It was impossible to advance and the strong current rendered it still more difficult to go back.
And every moment the waters rose. Logs whirled swiftly past with many of the forest animals clinging to them. Now and then they saw one of the Hairy Folk tossed and straining to reach the trees. The Silent One, who clung to one of the cane rafts, was flung into the whirling jam, by the current, and crushed like a dry leaf in the hand. As far as the eye could reach the foaming waters tore their way through the woods. But between the Cave Dwellers who clung to the skirts of the jam, and the safety of the forest trees, it seemed there floated and rocked and churned all the trees of a great world of woods, plucked out and cast there by the great river, in order to mock them.
But the Cave People clung tenaciously, while the great mass of logs strained and tore each other, or were flung away in the current. At last the great hollow tree, in which Strong Arm had kept the Fire alive, was borne down, for its trunk was old with fire and with rot. As it was tossed 90onward in the mighty current, Strong Arm, with Laughing Boy and Quack Quack close at his side, made their way toward it with a great effort. As it whirled past them, they flung their arms over the rough bark and clung to it.
Soon they were able to climb into the burned out hollow of the tree, where they lay shivering with fear. The trunk of the tree made a kind of boat the Cave People had never seen, for only the burned out portion at the end lay open and dipped into the waters. In the hollow they lay for a long time, till their strength returned and their fears fell. Then they sat up and looked about.
The rains had ceased and the sun made his way high in the heavens, and they were borne swiftly along in the great log. Often they crashed into the branches of trees that rose just above the water. But always Strong Arm, Quack Quack and Laughing Boy clung tightly. They did not mean to be hurled into the waters again.
But they were checked in their fearful journey, at last, when the hollow log was driven amid the interwoven trunks and branches of a tall banyan. There it lay, tossing in the boughs, as safe as though it had been anchored securely. For the current of the river sucked and drove it always more strongly into the arms of the tree.
Soon a great chattering arose among the branches that dipped now and then into the angry 91waters, and in a moment they beheld the Foolish One and a man from the tribe of the Hairy Folk, who called to them.
And Laughing Boy forgot his terrors as he seized a bough and made his way into the tree, for safety, while Quack Quack and Strong Arm followed him.
Then arose such a jabbering as was never before heard in the old banyan, while Strong Arm and the Foolish One made known their adventures. Also they talked to the man from the tribe of the Hairy Folk in the gesture language.
Where the limbs of the tree ran far out over the whirling waters, Laughing Boy found the long deep nests of the oo-ee-a. Often the branches bent beneath his feet and threatened to give way under him, but his lightness enabled him to secure these treasures. And together, the Foolish One, Strong Arm, Quack Quack, Laughing Boy and the man from the tribe of the Hairy Folk made a supper upon the eggs of the oo-ee-a. Then they sought out forked branches, where they curled themselves up and fell asleep.
The waters roared and thundered beneath. Dead trees and old logs beat against their new refuge in the great banyan, but they wound their arms and legs about the limbs of the tree and found rest.
Thus, they dwelt in the old banyan, with a wild fowl now and then, a fish, or a few gulls’ eggs to 92satisfy their hanger, while the river sank lower and lower into its old channel. Every day the waters receded and slipped back into the river bed, till Strong Arm declared the time was come when they might venture forth toward the land of their fathers.
The great flood that came in the spring brought death and misery to the tribes of savages that lived upon the banks of the river. Many were drowned in the swift waters, while others were borne away and scattered in strange lands. A few members of the tribe of Cave Dwellers found safety in the trees near the old Hollow. Far below, many of their brothers and sisters, with the men and women of other tribes, clung to the great trees where they also found security.
Strong Arm, Quack Quack and little Laughing Boy were among these. With the Foolish One and the Hairy Man they lived in the great banyan until the river crept back into its old channel. Then they descended upon the earth once more and began their long journey toward the Hollow, 96where they had lived with a small group of Cave Dwellers, the people of their own tribe.
All the face of the world seemed covered with a layer of rich mud, deposited by the river. The sun grew warmer with every day and a hot steam arose continually from the earth. Strong Arm and his little band made their way slowly, for the moist air gave them a fever and weakened them. Always it was very difficult to find food, for the roots lay buried in the soft mud. It was necessary to search in the branches of the trees for the nests of birds, and occasionally they found a few gulls’ eggs.
For two nights they had slept in the limbs of trees, while Strong Arm watched wearily lest an enemy approach.
Already at this early stage in their journey the rank grasses of the tropics were springing up. A thousand creeping things thrust out their heads from the mud and slime. And the tracks of the black bear, the wooly-haired rhinoceros and the sabre-toothed tiger were seen once more along the river bank.
Very cautiously this small band of savages advanced, for they had only rough sticks to use in defending themselves. On the third day they had traveled but a little way and of eggs they found none, nor any other thing. Their stomachs cried for food and they ventured beyond the skirts 97of the wood, where dangers lurked, seeking something with which to satisfy their hunger.
Strong Arm advanced, with caution, ahead of the little party. When he had gone but a little way, before him, from the cane, there arose suddenly a huge man. He was taller than any man among the tribe of the Cave Dwellers, and with a stout stick he struck Strong Arm a blow on the head that dashed him to the ground. Though the arm of the big man was swift, it was not much quicker than Quack Quack, who threw herself upon him from behind. Laughing Boy added his blows to hers, scratching and biting the legs of the stranger with all his young power, till he also lay motionless.
A soft movement in the cane announced the presence of another and more wary enemy. But the blows of Quack Quack, the Hairy Man and the Foolish One soon drove him from cover, where they beat him freely, till he threw up his hands in a gesture of submission.
Then, borne on the winds that swept the old forest, came a faint smell of fresh meat to the nostrils of the hungry group. The anger of the travelers was soon forgotten and Strong Arm now commanded the two strangers to lead them to the feast. With a great show of friendliness, they limped forward and conducted their victors to a fire that blazed above a pile of rocks.
And they poked away the coals that covered 98a basin fashioned among the stones, like a great oven. Covered with large leaves, lay the roasted body of a man, which the two strangers dragged steaming from the flames. Then the Cave Dwellers and the strangers seized each his portion of the meat and fell to eating. And the flesh of the roasted man seemed very good to them.
Till the new moon grew round and full, the Cave People and the Hairy Man remained with the strangers, while the water slowly drained off the swampy river banks and the way toward their old home in the Hollow became more safe.
They now had always the wonderful Fire with which to protect themselves against the forest animals. No caves there were and the trees abounded with the green snakes and many other enemies, but for all these the small group of men and Quack Quack, the woman, were not harmed.
Upon the rocks they kept the fire burning continually and at night they slept securely while some among them fed the blaze.
Very soon the Cave People began to call the shorter of the two strangers Big Foot, because his feet were very long. The other they called Tall, on account of his extreme height.
Although Strong Arm, Quack Quack and the Foolish One were from tribes strange to Big Foot and Tall, they were all able to understand each other perfectly, by means of the simple gesture language common to all tribes in the lower stage 99of savagery. Thus, the Hairy Man, from still another tribe, had no difficulty in making himself understood, nor in learning the thoughts or wishes of his companions.
One day, when hunting, the little band came upon a flint pit. To the Cave People the old gravel bed meant nothing, but Tall and Big Foot became greatly excited, and they grabbed the flakes that had become chipped from the flint cores and dashed them violently against a great stone lying near. Faint sparks flew. Then Tall covered the rocks with the feathers of a dead fowl and struck among them with the flint flake. Soon the feathers were ignited by the sparks. And Strong Arm and Quack Quack marveled at the Fire Beast which the strange rock had been able to summon.
The tribe from whence Tall and Big Foot came, had long known the use of flint in kindling fires, and well they knew the treasures they had found. From them the Cave People learned, also, and Strong Arm and Quack Quack bore with them always thereafter, one of these strange and wonderful stones, with which they soon became able to call forth the Fire Beast to their protection.
More and more, as the days passed, Tall taught them wonderful things. The flesh they cooked remained sweet for many days and did not grow rank with time, as raw meat did. Thus a new hope sprang up in the hearts of the Cave People, for armed with these rude flints, they 100were able at any time to kindle a fire and protect themselves from the forest enemies. Also they cooked their food and, this made possible the long, dangerous journey to the land of their fathers.
In spite of the height of Tall and the long limbs and great muscles of Big Foot, they wished always to carry out the desires of Quack Quack. Not only was she a woman, and for all women they cherished a great tenderness, but also was she strong, and both these men were unable to forget the blows she had given them when first they had attacked the Cave Dwellers and their little band. To Quack Quack, therefore, they looked for commands and they obeyed her words and gestures, while they sought her good will. But in spite of all this, Strong Arm remained the leader over all, for he was able to stand up before any man in the group, and the words which he spoke and the desires he made known were always for the good of the band.
So it came about naturally that when Strong Arm and Quack Quack signified their desire to return to the Hollow, which was the old home of the Cave People, that the Hairy Man, Tall and Big Foot gave heed to them.
And they all made preparations for the journey. The large bones which they had found, were made formidable, when they were cracked and split open at the end. Also they gathered 101knotted limbs from the trees, which the Cave People were accustomed to wave savagely around their heads, crushing in the skulls of the enemy.
But they prized nothing so highly as the rough pieces of flint flakes which they dug from the old gravel bed. Wonder and awe they felt for these strange stones, and not a little fear. To them even inanimate things possessed life, and the small flakes of flint were only a new, queer sort of animal that had hitherto befriended them by calling forth the great Fire Beast. These might also be capable of doing them harm, and it was with deep feelings of uncertainty that they first began to use these wonderful flint rocks.
In the hunt which preceded their departure, the little band were fortunate in snaring a fat young boar. They speedily killed him and dragged his body to the top of a small rocky hill. And they pulled out the loose stones, building a deep, basin-like oven, into which they put the body. This they covered with green palm leaves. Then a fire was kindled over this great oven and everybody made ready for the feast.
But the fragrant odor of roast meat reached the nose of the sabre-toothed tiger and he followed the scent till he came to the small camp. And all the stray members of the little band crouched low on the opposite side of the big blaze in mortal terror. For here there were no caves in which they could take refuge and their numbers 102were too few for them to fight the enemy safely in the open.
But all the loose stones they had dislodged and pulled out when building the great oven, lay about them. And they gathered them up and piled them high like a great wall, for they feared an attack from the rear. And the rude wall of stones rose almost to their waists.
Very warily the tiger crept up the hill and approached the flames. The wind bore the smell of the roasting meat squarely into his teeth, and lured him on. But the wind carried, too, the thick smoke upon him, and he choked and paused to reconnoiter. As the wind died down he advanced hungrily, but the smoke and sparks from the flames sent him back to the foot of the hill.
The little band of savages watched him, while their limbs trembled and their hair stood on end. Between them and the tiger roared the tall sheet 103of flames, but soon he began to circle the hill seeking an easy way to attack. Below the rude wall, erected by them, the terrifying smoke and flying sparks no longer threatened. And he sniffed the air and advanced cautiously.
In the meantime, the small band of savages were rendered almost beside themselves with fear. Of weapons they had none. All their new sharp bone spears lay at the foot of the hill, with the great knotted clubs. The Foolish One started one of the big stones rolling down upon the tiger, but it passed instead of deterring him.
Then Strong Arm seized a large burning bough and hurled it straight into the great beast’s face. But the tiger crouched low on the ground and the blazing torch passed over his head without harming him. Low he lay, with his long striped tail swaying to and fro, like the tail of a great 104cat. His eyes glowed with rage and fear and his lips were curled back in a snarl of fury.
Of all things in the old forest the strange, red, flaming fire alone had caused him to hesitate. The fierce unknown spat out a breath of hot smoke that bit into his muscular throat and choked him and the hot blaze held a menace that thrilled his long, lank body with a new fear.
Still he did not give up. Never in all his strong, free life in the forest had he ever given up. But he retreated to the foot of the hill, circling round and round it once more.
Long he continued, with his body crouched low, and his head thrown up, scenting at once the rich odor of the roasting boar, and the thick smoke, so full of strange menace.
Again and again he advanced, driven by the hunger within him, only to retreat because of the fear that would not be subdued. But as the sun sank low in the west, the little band scattered the flames and dragged out the roasted body of the young boar. From this they tore, eagerly, great chunks of the warm and dripping flesh and devoured them and one and all they thought no meat had ever tasted so sweet before.
During the feast they watched the tiger always, and they laid new branches upon the fire to keep it alive. But ere any one was filled—as savages were used to fill their stomachs after a long period of fasting—Strong Arm made known 105his wishes. Soon everybody understood his desire to reserve a portion of the young boar, that, should they prove unequal to the task of driving off the tiger, they might fling to him and escape.
To his wise suggestion all listened and obeyed except Big Foot, who declined to relinquish his portion. It was only after Strong Arm had thrust him down the side of the hill, threatening to hurl him to the hungry beast below, that Big Foot yielded. Once more Strong Arm had proven himself the leader of the band. Once more had his words resulted in the welfare of the group.
For, the flames having subsided a little, the smell of the meat drew old sabre-tooth irresistibly, and he made a bold and sudden dash upon the band.
But Strong Arm was quick also and a yell of warning he gave, as he threw a blazing bough upon him. But the tiger leaped over it and made his way nearer. Now the others seized burning branches and hurled them, until he must step straight upon the glowing coals to advance. And the fierce fires under his feet and the sparks and flames about him, sent the old fear through his blood and sent the tiger down the hill and through the forest snarling and howling with pain. Long they hear his roarings re-echoing through the old woods, but when darkness came on they descended and gathered more branches and leaves to continue the fire throughout the night.
When the great flood, which Little Laughing Boy imagined covered the face of all the land, had subsided, and the roaring river fell back into a portion of its old channel, the survivors of the clans turned their feet toward the homes of their fathers.
There were many changes. Strange things had occurred. Hundreds of members of the various hordes had been lost in the flood; the river bed itself had been twisted into a new and alarming shape so that, on the other side of its bank, trees had been torn up and the waters had eaten into the earth and lapped the foot of the low hills; the old Hollow was filled with many tons of new black earth and many of the caves were buried beneath the soil deposited by the river.
The Hollow had been the home of the Cave People, of Little Laughing Boy, his father, Strong Arm, and his mother, Quack Quack. They had escaped 110during the flood with the Foolish One, a member of their own tribe, and had been joined later on by the Hairy Man, a survivor of the Hairy Folk. And they had clung together during their dangers and journeyings for mutual strength and protection.
When they had encountered Tall and Big Foot, of one of the man-eating hordes, their numbers enabled them to overcome these powerful enemies, who joined the band and fed Laughing Boy his first taste of roasted human flesh. These men also taught the Cave People the wonderful power hidden away in the flint pit, which they had discovered; how two pieces of this strange rock could call forth the protecting fire when struck sharply together, and how thin pieces of this same rock made wonderful knives with which to hack and slay the enemy. Indeed, it was the insistence of Big Foot in carrying away several pieces of this new rock that caused the others to do likewise, although it was a long time before any of them returned to the flint pit and began to use flint regularly in making weapons.
In spite of the large number of men and women and children who lost their lives in the great flood, this was a time of progress, a time when all the tribes learned many new things. The surviving Hairy Folk were thrown with members of the tribe of Cave People—and learned the use of fire. The Tree Dwellers were forced to walk upon the 111ground and learned new methods of fishing and hunting from the Cave People, the fashioning of rafts made of bamboo poles bound together with tough grasses and wild vines, which one could propel in the water by paddling with the hands.
The Tall People, who contributed a meagre knowledge of flint, gained the use of the bow and arrow from their old enemies, the Dart Throwers. It was a time when men learned much. Of course, many of these things were forgotten in the days of ease and plenty, until the children of the members of the tribes discovered or invented or were shown them all over again in the years that followed.
Strong Arm and Quack Quack and Laughing Boy, in company with the Foolish One and Tall and Big Foot and the Hairy Man, followed the shore of the river in order to reach the home of the Cave People. Scarcely a sound they made, as they wound their way through the heavy grasses that sprung up, with the magic of the tropics, from the rich soil left by the flood.
Of food there was now every day a greater abundance. Fruits ripened and grew luscious over night. Hundreds of fish were left in shallows by the receding flood where they could be gathered by hand. And it was impossible to avoid stumbling over the egg-filled nests of the gulls and the oo-ee-a.
Also there were unknown dangers, and Tall 112grew ill with a fever that made the touch of his hands like the flames of the protecting fire. And although Big Foot and Quack Quack brought him every day fresh fruit and other food, which they sometimes roasted in the coals, he drove them away. Steadily he grew worse until madness came into his eyes and his voice rose above the quiet of the night and Laughing Boy grew fearful in spite of the friendly fire. For the roars of the sick man, Tall, echoed through the woods and the forest enemies would hear and approach.
But Tall could not be restrained. A new strength that comes with the fever fed his veins, and a night came when he thrust his companions from him and disappeared, screaming into the woods. They never saw him again. For as he ran, his wild cries filled the night and the very branches of the trees seemed to waken with the tumult.
Then came the grim howl of the hyena and the soft fall of padded feet upon the earth. Down the gulley a strange voice arose. Life stirred in the bushes and the hair on the head of Laughing Boy rose in terror.
Farther and farther receded the wailings of the sick man till at last a howl re-echoed in the darkness that brought the band of tribes people huddling together in fear. For it was the cry of the sabre-toothed tiger. Came then a stillness 113with only the voice of Tall driving the sweat out upon their bodies.
And while the little band fed the friendly fire and gathered near its protecting flames, they waited for the end of the sick man. It came at last, one long scream of agony, when the greatest enemy of all the hordes came upon him.
Big Foot knew and Strong Arm knew and the others of the tribes knew also that the danger to themselves was over for the night, but long they crouched in the light of the flames, ears twitching, nostrils quivering, like images of bronze frozen with fear.
Many other adventures befell the mixed group from the different clans, on their journeyings toward the Hollow which had been the home of the Cave People. There were dangers encountered and evaded or overcome in every hour of these eventful days. But at last they reached the ridge above the edge of the Hollow. Quack Quack and Strong Arm and the Foolish One and the others climbed the hill and gazed over into what had been once a lovely valley. But much of this lay filled with the soil left by the flood. Tall grasses waved in the breeze, and many new blossoms lifted their heads. And nearly all of the old familiar caves were filled with mud and covered up.
It was all very queer. And while they proceeded 114with caution, as men going into a strange land, the brush before them parted and they beheld the grinning features of Big Nose and Light Foot and behind them others of the Cave People, and a fuzzy woman from among the Hairy Folk and strange people and former enemies from the other clans, all of whom had escaped the flood and wandered back toward the dwelling places of their tribes.
And Strong Arm scooped out the soil that had been washed against the opening of a high cave upon the hill and entered it to rest after his long journey. And he dug with his hands into the soft earth, for he remembered the tubers he had buried there one day when he had been hunting with the men of the tribe, for he was hungry. And lo! many juicy tubers he found where he had buried only two or three. And Strong Arm and Quack Quack ate of the potatoes, while, for a Cave-man, Strong Arm pondered deeply on these things.
He thought much of one tuber and how it had made many tubers, and recalled the words of his father, who had spoken of the mother potato. Then he felt Quack Quack at his side and forgot the matter and fell asleep.
Necessity has been the great spur to the progress of mankind, and it is probable that over and over again, in the early stages of primitive culture, the use of fire was discovered and lost and 115forgotten and regained before men realized the need which fire supplied. It is almost certain that the art of pottery was discovered and lost and rediscovered times without number. It is equally certain that it took primitive man many, many long, dark years to learn to plan for the periods of want and famine.
In tropical countries, where food was to be had in abundance almost the whole year around, no necessity arose for the raising of crops. Man would never have felt the need of learning to cultivate food stuffs in this environment.
Savages had only the vaguest notions of the relation of cause and effect. It was necessary for buried tubers to sprout new potatoes year after year, for the plants to multiply before their very eyes and the necessity of planting food to have arisen before the relation of sowing and reaping could begin to mean anything to them. Only then did planting assume any tribal significance.
Doubtless it was in some semi-tropical country that the discovery of Strong Arm first began to make an impression upon the awakening minds of the early savages. Buried sweet yams and others of the potato family which had multiplied and become many yams or potatoes, must have been a wonderful windfall when discovered by the half starved tribes, in the midst of a long season of want. The cause of their growing would then be carefully observed by the clans.
116Be sure that it was necessity that forced the first early savage to sow and bury against the days of coming hunger. Man did not take naturally to work. For several hundreds of thousands of years he dwelt in tropical or semi-tropical lands, where food was usually plentiful, it was only an urgent need that forced him to sow and till the soil. Before that time he had dwelt in the continual problems of the day and had been compelled to give no real thought nor plan for the morrow.
Strong Arm slept in the cave with Quack Quack after their long journey back to the home of their fathers. And he dreamed a dream wherein he saw Tall, the great man from the strange tribe, alive and walking about, just as he had done before the sickness came upon him when he had wandered out into the night and met the sabre-toothed tiger.
And in his dream Strong Arm saw Tall stand before his cave and thrust many tubers in the ground where one tuber had been. And when Strong Arm awoke he told Quack Quack and his brothers and Laughing Boy of his dream in the few words he knew and in signs and pantomime.
And so much Strong Arm wondered that when he ate of the fish that had been roasting, he removed one fish from the ashes and carried it to his cave, where he buried it in the soft earth. 117Then he took the bones of a young boar and buried them also, for when these bones are cracked the marrow is very sweet to eat. He desired one fish to grow into a hundred fish and the bones of one wild pig to become a whole forest of bones.
And he tried to tell these things to the tribe—to say that perhaps it was the Spirit of Tall which would come in the night and make many fish out of one and a forest of bones from one young boar. The Cave People came and watched him at his labors and chattered and gesticulated and wondered.
And in the morning they gathered about to eat of the many fish which Strong Arm hoped to find in the earth in his cave, and to crack the bones and partake of the marrow. But there were only the fish and the bones which Strong Arm had planted and he sat down upon his haunches and wept bitterly. The Cave People were disappointed, and Big Foot mocked him.
Perhaps Strong Arm was one of the first experimenters. He did not give up altogether. Occasionally the thought of many little tubers grown from one big tuber, would seize hold of him, and one day he buried a yellow yam, which resembled our sweet potatoes, and turned up the ground the next day only to find that it had not become a whole dinner of sweet potatoes. He was not sure that Tall, the dead man, or the Spirit of Tall had anything to do with these things. Tall had not 118returned again to Strong Arm in his dreams. It was all very strange. Strong Arm did not understand. Everything was mysterious and confused.
Another time he buried several tubers. The day following he dug them up, but he forgot one or two of these and when, after some time, he jammed about in the soil again, he found a whole armful of tubers. The miracle had come back again. And Tall, or the Spirit of the dead man, had not returned to make possible the wonder. The miracle was stranger than ever.
Almost Strong Arm evolved an idea, an idea that tubers (or potatoes) planted in the earth in the sun, and left for a whole tribe of suns, might in some mysterious manner beyond his understanding become the mother of many potatoes.
Then the Hairy Folk descended from the ridge, upon the Cave People. They came with long spears in their hands and cries of death in their fuzzy throats, and Strong Arm and the Cave People gave them to battle. Many were killed and Big Foot roasted the body of one of the enemy upon the coals and the Cave People ate the Hairy Man with much zest and relish.
And the stomachs of the Cave People were distended with the feast and Strong Arm strutted and danced about the fire with those who had accomplished the victory. And he forgot all about 119the idea he had almost achieved, about the planting of potatoes and the making of more sweet yams.
So the discovery, that was only half a discovery, was lost to the tribe for many years. Doubtless if you had reminded him of it and he could have spoken to you in a language you would understand, Strong Arm would have replied that there were the Hairy Folk and the Dart Throwers to be annihilated, the children of the tribe to be protected and food to be provided and that he had ceased to think of such foolish things as the sticking of fat tubers in the ground in the hope of making them the mothers of many little potatoes, and anyway, these were strange things past all the ability of any man to understand.
Sometime before the Cave People discovered the use of the bow and arrow, they had learned to make clay pots or bowls. For many years the tribe lived in the tropical lands where the bread fruit ripened nearly the whole year round, and where nuts were plentiful and tubers and sweet yams were often to be found; where there were more nests than there were trees in the forests, filled with treasures of fresh eggs; and there were fowl and fish. As much as the horde loved to eat the wild duck or the cocoanut, or even the wild honey, one and all knew that when the hot sun beat down upon bare brown skins in the heat of the day during the summer there was nothing in all the valley so sweet as a drink of water.
One could go without food for many suns, but if one day passed without fresh water for the members of the group, fevers came upon them, the 124strange fevers that caused them to do many foolish things.
At first no member of the tribe willingly journeyed far from the source of fresh water, for they had nothing with which to carry water from one place to another. Then they used cocoanut shells, and sometimes the shells that lay upon the banks of the great river. But these held little and were easily upset.
Then some one discovered that the hollow joints of the giant bamboo were more easy to carry and held more water, and these became the first water jugs of the clan.
Later, when it became the fashion for men and women to decorate themselves with the skins of the animals they had slain, they found that there are many uses which hides may serve.
The Cave People wore no clothes, but bound over their shoulders they bore great weights of skins and hides, of heads and tails, of bones and teeth, as a mark of their skill and bravery in the hunt. Great teeth cunningly fastened together made necklaces that spoke every day more loudly than a man’s voice of what that man had done.
But as pride grew in these emblems of prowess, little by little the people of the tribe began to use these hides for other things. They found that, with holes punched along the edges, through which a thong might be drawn, as a gathering string about a handbag, these skins made water 125bags that one could carry on a far journey, taking with him drink for a whole day. But it was only when the sun beat down like the flames of the fire that they thought much on these things. Then thoughts of water and the milk of the cocoanut were never long absent.
It was at the time of the year when the scorching rays of the summer sun had licked dry all the little brooks and most of the springs that Laughing Boy and Web Toe, he who could outswim the fastest fishes, planned an excursion over the hills in search of wild honey.
They were 14 years old and stood straight and brown and almost as tall as the men of the tribe, but they had not yet learned to have care for all the dangers that lurked in the unknown ways, as older men.
They were proud of the wild skins that lay hot and heavy on their shoulders and the teeth that made chains about their throats. They were never done showing the trophies they had gathered in the hunt to their young companions. And they boasted much, for they were more strong than the other boys of the clan.
Laughing Boy was proud of his water bag which, when the thong was tightly drawn and the bag was filled with water, spilled scarcely a single drop, while Web Toe beat much of the time upon his drum or tom-tom which he believed made the most beautiful music in the world. This tom-tom 126he had made by stretching the soft skin of some small animal over a willow branch bent and fastened in a circle.
The older members of the tribe were stretched in the cooling shade near the river bank, or sleeping the sleep that comes from much eating in the cool of the caves. But the children and the youths romped about, vyeing with each other in games of sport and in feats of strength. Among these Web Toe and Laughing Boy were easily the victors, throwing their boomerangs and their stone weapons further and with greater accuracy than any of the others.
Laughing Boy had now smeared his whole chest with the deep vermilion juice of “the Make Brave” plant and Web Toe had gouged holes in both ears, from which hung half a dozen shells and cougar teeth and they strutted about in the glory of their strength and budding manhood.
But at last they stole away from the others and softly made their way through the thicket and on up and over the hill to the high places, where the dry grass crackled and rustled beneath their scurrying feet. Laughing and chattering they ran, flinging care and caution to the winds, racing to see which would be the quicker to reach this point or that, and again speeding on to make the giant banyan trees.
Here they paused to rest and to laugh softly, and the cunning of all wood creatures came back 127to their straggling senses and they proceeded cautiously, chattering more softly and laughing more quietly.
Laughing Boy carried his stone weapon and his water bag, which bulged with ample fullness, while Web Foot brandished his tom-tom in one hand and his stone sling in the other. Only now he made not a sound with his beloved music box. It was a time to avoid the creatures of the forest, though all were sleepy and lazy from abundant food and the warmth of the sun.
They jabbered of the “sweet, sweet,” meaning wild honey, which they meant to take back to the tribe and with which they intended to show the other youths how much more clever and courageous they were than the other boys in the clan.
With every gay and confident step as they advanced up the small plateau the land grew more parched. Laughing Boy, who saw things that escaped the eyes of Web Toe pointed to little hollows now and then which had been dried by the sun, and when Web Toe, soon grown thirsty, sought to take his bag for a drink, Laughing Boy shook his head. “No,” he said, and pointed to the sun high overhead. He meant to save the water for the journey caveward.
Berries they ate and nuts gathered hastily on the way, and when they neared the tall cocoanut palms both boys, forgetting the dangers that might beset them, dashed their heavy weapons to 128the ground and rushed forward. In a few moments both were encircling the straight, tall trunks of the trees with their arms and, climbing up them in a sort of walk, their toes pressed close and almost clinging to the bark. Soon the great nuts were tumbling to the ground and the boys slid back to refresh themselves with the sweet of cocoanut milk.
But the thicket parted and an angry and suspicious black she-bear lumbered toward them with two curious, tumbling black cubs at her heels. It was no time to dispute for the possession of their weapons. It was not the time to pause for a drink of cocoanut milk, and so, with a pretense at nonchalance, as though they had seen nothing and had no concern in the two rollicking cubs, Laughing Boy and Web Toe glided toward the thicket. They knew that females of every species are eager to contest the right of all ways when accompanied by their young. And their courage lay with their stone weapons.
The black bear sniffed angrily and slowly followed the boys. Her little red eyes rolled wickedly. The two curious cubs dashed on ahead to learn what manner of beast these new animals were. And mother bruin quickened her pace.
Her heart was running over with fears for her young and she considered that particular part of the woods her own domain. A deep humming filled the ears of the boys as they broke into a run 129and Laughing Boy cried softly, “sweet, sweet,” for he smelled wild honey.
The cubs ran still faster for they remembered the feasts they had enjoyed when, guided by their mother, they had last visited the wood. With the old bear close behind, Laughing Boy flung himself out and upward, grasping the tough vines of the “oo-oee” in his hands and pulling himself up on a large stone slab, where he lay panting for breath.
Web Toe scrambled up a slim pine and wedged himself between two slender forked limbs. There he huddled, peering about in fear of new dangers. But he saw nothing and, presently, grown bolder he looked down at the bear which stood on hind legs gazing angrily up at him. Now and then she would run away and dash back, jolting the tree and setting the branches aquiver.
Web Toe forgot all caution and jeered down at the enemy. He pulled his tom-tom around and 130over his shoulder and beat it triumphantly with his fists while the black bear tried to climb the tree and failed, because it was slender of trunk.
Laughing Boy lay on the smooth boulder, flat upon his belly, making no sound. Not a muscle betrayed him. Only his eyes moved following the movements of the black bear. Apparently she had forgotten all about him.
He wanted to call out to Web Toe to be silent. Web Toe seemed to think the matter was a joke, but Laughing Boy knew better. It was true he and Web Toe were at the moment safely out of reach of the enemy’s claws, but if she remained on watch how would they get down to earth again?
All that afternoon Web Toe was compelled to cling to the fork of the pine tree. Soon he grew quiet, for he remembered that safety lies in silence. He folded his arms about a branch and made himself as flat and inconspicuous as he could.
The cubs curled themselves up at their mother’s feet and went to sleep and, at length, close to the pine tree, she also seemed to doze.
It might have been possible for Laughing Boy to slide down the opposite side of the boulder and steal away unnoticed. Who can say? It may have been a fear of the long journey back to the cave people alone that deterred him. Anyway, he clung to the rock and waited. A long drink from his water bag relieved his thirst and he, too, 131fell asleep. But there was no drinking for poor Web Toe. He had only his marvelous tom-tom in place of a water bag, and his lips grew parched and he longed to scream from fear and thirst.
After a long time darkness came and at last the moon arose, and still the two boys neither moved nor spoke. The cubs awoke and stretched themselves and moved about, and at last the black bear arose also and led them away to some hidden spring known only to herself.
Then, very cautiously, Web Toe slid to the ground and called to Laughing Boy, who joined him, and together, with great fear in their hearts, they turned their faces homeward.
And all that fearful, weary way Web Toe thought of new dangers and of cool springs and Laughing Boy’s emptied water bag. Never again would he go honey-hunting or any other sort of hunting in the dry season without water at his side. And when at last they reached the dwelling place of the tribe Web Toe ran to the spring and threw himself into the water and drank until he was near water-logged.
And so Web Toe became the great waterman of the tribe—another great waterman, who spoke always words of warning of the terrible things that may befall boys and girls and men and women, who journey far from the spring without a bag of water.
Stories he told the people of the tribe on his return 132with Laughing Boy of how, sick of thirst, he had faced the black bear and driven her before him. But he had nothing to prove his words, for Laughing Boy returned also empty-handed.
It was adventures like this that taught the Cave People and all the other tribes to travel close to the water’s edge. And so it was that when the Foolish One made the first clay pot, the people praised him and called him Wise.
The clay pot was the accident of a fool. Many great discoveries have been the accidents of other fools. For wise people do always everything as nearly as possible as their fathers have done and new things are only learned through departures into new ways.
The Foolish One had discovered the use of fire by playing with a burning branch ignited by the lightning in the forest. A fool bestrode the first wild horse and rode upon its back. Nearly always it was the fools who did things first. Wise Men were too wise—they had seen too many fools die of their folly.
The fingers of the Foolish One were never idle. He made many things and he pulled as many to pieces again. The people of the tribe had grown very skillful in weaving baskets from tough grasses. They even made hats to keep out the sun and later they wove willows into rude roofs, which they patched with clay from the river banks to keep out the rain.
133The baskets which they made were almost water-tight and the Foolish One made many baskets. Each time he worked harder and wove these baskets more tightly, but they all leaked when he filled them with water from the spring.
One day he made a basket shaped like a bowl and lined it with clay; then he wove the grasses upward like the neck of a large bottle, dipping his fingers inside to plaster it with more clay, for he wanted to surprise the folk with a basket that would carry water without leaking. But when all was done he forgot his plans and went swimming in a pool, and when next he saw the basket he tossed it into the fire, so sure was he that it would leak as all baskets leaked.
And there, in the red flames, beheld by all the members of the tribe, lay the marvelous basket with its clay lining. And soon the grasses of the basket burned away and when the fire died down the Foolish One saw the clay lining lying among the coals. It was round and firm and almost perfect in shape. He peered into it and running to the river, filled it with water. And, marvel of marvels! the clay had grown hard in the fire and the first jug the tribe had ever made or seen or dreamed of, held water, from which there leaked not one single drop.
For a long time the Cave People made their jugs by lining baskets with clay and burning off the grasses, leaving the jugs unmarred, till they learned newer and better ways of making pottery.
For many years the Bow and Arrow Folks had been the most ferocious as well as the most skillful of all the tribes that dwelt in the heart of the luxuriant lands along the banks of the Father of Rivers. Every other tribe had long since learned to hate and fear them beyond any other living creatures.
The Bow and Arrow Folks might wander whithersoever they wished, might drive the Hairy Folk and the Tree Dwellers and the Cave People from the places that had known them, might bring death and destruction in their train, provided only that they traveled and fought in numbers and bore wide quivers filled with very many of their magical stinging darts.
Up to the appearance of the Dart or Arrow Throwers, with their marvelous weapons, the 138Cave People had always been able to meet their human foes on terms nearly approaching equality. The Hairy People and the Tree Dwellers, and even the man-eaters, had all to come to close quarters in their life and death contests. Then there was much to the advantage of the Cave People, who were of heavier build and who possessed greater strength and speed of limb than any of their man enemies. None of these was able to shoot a dart across the river into the breast of an enemy.
But the Arrow People were more fearful than the great saber-tooth himself. One could dig pits, covered with branches of leaves in the hope that they might stumble into these and hence be dispatched to the long sleep; it was quite as likely as not that the Arrow People would not approach near enough to fall into them.
When the Arrow People came whooping over the hills sending down their rain of arrows into the flesh of the Cave People, Strong Arm had gathered his small band about the big fire where they had crouched low. But even the protecting blaze could not prevail against the invaders. Their darts flew through the smoke and the flame and pinned more than one of the Cave People to the earth.
And when Strong Arm was wounded so that blood dripped red from a hole in his breast the Cave People flung themselves into the brush and 139made their way on their bellies as silent as snakes, far out beyond the old hollow. With much caution they gathered together about some grey stone boulders that banked the wild berry thicket.
Then it was that some one silently gathered twigs and leaves and dead branches for the making of a fire. And a youth struck a spark from his flint stones and by the light of the flames the Cave People saw and were astonished that it was One Ear who had come back to his own people.
No one of the older members of the tribe had forgotten One Ear nor how he had lost one of his ears when he was only a small boy not many moons from his mother’s breast. It was this way:
One Ear had wandered from the caves and beyond the space where it was safe for the children of the tribe to go alone. No one marked his ramblings and he chattered and scampered about, plucking the red blossoms of the eegari and chasing birds from their nests in happy content. But he had not gone far when he heard the grunt of the wild and hairy hog which was thrusting her short tusk into the soil for tender roots. A litter of small black pigs followed close to their mother’s side and set up a mighty squealing when they beheld in One Ear a possible enemy.
Immediately the old sow turned upon One Ear and bit at his feet and snapped at his legs and tripped him. Then she flew upon him with the 140wild fury of the forest mother who believes her young to be endangered. One Ear raised his own voice in yells of terror and threw up his arms and rolled into the bushes and sent his small brown feet kicking with mighty show into the face of the foe.
And the uproar increased while the blood poured from the side of the boy’s head whence the wild sow had torn his small ear in her attack. Soon the mother of One Ear and other members of the tribe of Cave People appeared with their long bone weapons in their hands and killed the hog and carried back as many of the young pigs as had not scampered away in the conflict. And there was much feasting in the Hollow that day and a great noise from the wails of One Ear, whose wounds were many times licked and plastered and caressed by his distracted mother.
And so the boy came to be called One Ear. It was impossible to forget one so distinctly different from other members of the tribe of Cave People and so, when One Ear was later captured by the Arrow Folk during a raid made on the people of the Hollow, One Ear was long mourned and thought of by the tribe.
Now he was come back to his own people. And in the light made by the flames of the fire, the Cave People saw that he bore many of the strange darts that the enemy had used with so much skill and accuracy. The Cave People were almost 141afraid of him, but One Ear at once showed himself friendly and busied himself in helping to build coverings of sticks and brush and leaves to form huts for the tribe.
The night was very dark and the Cave People were worn and weary and very much afraid. They knew very little about the life and the woods and the things that surrounded them. When a man stumbled over a loose stone and slipped and fell, the Cave People believed that some of the tribe’s numerous enemies had wrought the evil.
Little they understood of the causes of the natural events that occurred around and to them. And so they peopled the woods, the Hollow, the night and all things with spirits or evil ghosts that sought to do them harm.
There were terrors everywhere, both the enemies which they could see and the enemies which they could not see. The enemies who dwelt in in the dead tree trunks that lay upon the ground over which they stumbled, the spirits who were hidden in the stones that scratched their feet, the evil magicworkers who entered their stomachs and made them sick and haunted the feet of the unwary to cause them to faint before the blows of the Arrow People and who sent men and women upon the Long Sleep from which their spirits arose to prowl about over the lands.
Primitive men knew nothing about natural laws. They had no ideas about what caused the 142rain; therefore, they thought someone made it rain. They knew nothing about the melting of snows upon the mountain tops that flowed downward, swelling the Father of Rivers far beyond “his” banks and thus causing the floods; therefore, some evil enemy wrought the disaster.
They knew truly that men and women did not altogether die. All men possessed two selves—the self with whom you might fight and dance, whom you might touch and see and smell in the light of broad day. Then there was also a spirit self, who came to you in dreams and who worked evil or good unto you.
When a child was lost in the wood and devoured by the wild enemies of the tribe, the people knew that it was an evil spirit that had lured his footsteps into the danger.
It is true, too, that they believed in good spirits; the spirits who sent rain when the earth was parched; the kindly magic-makers who delivered an attacking enemy into your hand to his own disaster, who stood beside you unseen during great dangers and thrust forth obstructions in the paths of those who would take you unawares.
But considered in a broad way, from the viewpoint of primitive man, the world was peopled chiefly with enemies who were down upon you at the slightest opening, who might anywhere and in the strangest form imaginable pounce upon you to your own destruction or disaster.
143It cheered the Cave People greatly when they saw that One Ear had returned to the tribe bringing some of the magical arrows, so effectively employed by the Dart Throwers. They believed that the bone javelin of Strong Arm possessed some of the strength and skill of this mighty cave man; they knew that the dried head of the green snake which had been killed by Big Foot and a great boulder were filled with his valor and his wisdom, for they had seen Run Fast elude the wild boar with this snake head in her hands. If any one thing was sure in all the muddle of strange things and stranger events in this world, it was that weapons or adornments or tools, acquired the characteristics of their owners, and that these characteristics might be transferred to him who was fortunate enough to secure them. The darts or the arrows of the Dart Throwers brought skill to the holders and so the Cave People were cheered when they beheld the darts in the hands of One Ear.
All through the night, as they huddled and shivered in the shadows, the Cave People kept the big fire burning and listened for the Arrow People. It was when the moon rode high in the heavens that the soft wind brought the scent of the enemy approaching with quiet and with caution. With quivering nostrils Strong Arm, who, in spite of the pain he suffered from his wounds, was the first to smell the coming Arrow Throwers, 144gathered the tribe behind the protection of the giant rocks.
And when they advanced within the circle of light thrown out by the flames of the fire, One Ear drew his great bow to his shoulder and sent arrow after arrow into the gleaming breasts of those who made the attack, until the Arrow people were confounded and afraid and fled away in the night whence they had come.
And for days there was peace and the Cave People encamped themselves near a fresh water hole and built more mud caves and huts of the branches of trees. But evil spirits hovered over Strong Arm and entered into him and gave him fever and sickness and pain from the wound in his breast, until at last he died in the night and his Spirit passed out of his body. So thought the Cave Dwellers.
And they mourned for Strong Arm, both in their hearts and with loud voices, for they knew that his spirit would hover about to see what they said of his words and his deeds and they desired very strongly to please and propitiate the Spirit of Strong Arm, for he had always been a powerful and wise man, able to help those he loved and bring evil to those whom he had hated. And they wanted to win the support and friendship of the Spirit of Strong Arm in order that it might work good in their behalf.
So even Big Foot, who had always feared and 145envied Strong Arm, spoke loudly in his behalf, saying “Brave, Brave, Strong, Strong,” and he screamed as though he had lost his best friend. This was all done to show the Spirit of Strong Arm in what high esteem Big Foot held him.
The Cave People chopped up the body of Strong Arm and roasted his arms and his legs and his head on the coals so that every member of the tribe might acquire some of the noble virtues of the mighty chief by eating a portion of his body. To Laughing Boy was apportioned the hands of his father, and he ate them, stripping the flesh from the bones so that his own hands might become skillful and quick in killing the enemy. The remainder of the body of Strong Arm was laid in a cavity in the earth, along with his sharp bone javelin, and his stone knife and his flint; and food also, which they knew he would need in the Spirit Land where he had gone. These things they covered with earth and leaves and weighed them down with heavy stones so that neither wild boar, nor any other wild animal might devour the remains of Strong Arm.
And in the night the Spirit of Strong Arm came back to his people in their dreams, telling them many things. Once he appeared in a dream to Quack Quack, with his bone javelin in his hands, and the cry of danger upon his lips and a long arrow thrust in his hair. And Quack Quack and the Cave People knew that this was a warning to 146them that the Arrow Throwers were again stealing upon them to drive them from their new land, so they gathered up their bone weapons, and the bow and arrows which One Ear had brought, and their knives and their adornments, and wandered toward the North in the hope of escaping.
But the Hairy Folk fell upon them, and the Man-eaters and the Tree People nagged them and stole their food and wrecked disaster at every step, so that there was no peace, only constant fighting and death and terror in all the days.
So the Cave People traveled wearily and furtively, ever farther North, where the fruit grows only in one season and the cold descends over the earth for a long period of the year, and where men are only able to survive by learning new things and new methods of keeping food against the barren days.
Then, more than in all the previous history of their lives, the Cave People began to progress, began to plan, to build, to preserve and store food and finally to bury one tuber in order that it might become the father of many potatoes; to salt their meats so that they would not spoil and finally they discovered that skins used formerly only as a means of adornment, or decoration—skins which had formerly been merely visible proof of a man’s skill and valor in the hunt, were a warm and comfortable protection against the cold days which had come upon them in the strange new land.
147Many died and many fell in the long wars that the Cave People fought during their long journey to the North country, but One Ear grew strong and wise and tall in his young manhood. And, because of the things he had learned from the Arrow Throwers, he became a leader of the tribe, which he taught also to hurl the death-tipped darts, both to bring down the beasts of the forests and for the protection of the tribe in battle with its human enemies.
And so the cool climate and the changing seasons drove the Cave People to learn, to discover, to invent. And for the first time they began to consider the earth and to subdue a little of it for their own food and clothing and for their own shelter and security.
Although Strong Arm, who was the wisest and strongest and swiftest man among the Cave People had been dead, and in part eaten and in part buried beneath a great pile of earth and stones, the Cave People felt sure that he had not remained dead.
More than one of the members of the tribe had seen him fighting and hunting, eating and dancing, during the dreams that come in the night, and so they believed that a part of Strong Arm, the spirit or ghost part of Strong Arm, still lived. Again and again he had appeared to them in the spirit, or in dreams, to advise them about the things the tribe intended to do.
The Cave People were unable to understand these things and there was nobody to tell them that dreams were not of the world of reality. And so they believed that Strong Arm still lived, and that other dead men and women and children of the tribe still lived in the Spirit World. It was true that the spirits of these dead did not appear in the broad light of day, but the Cave People believed that they haunted their old grounds, invisible to the eyes of their tribesman.
152They believed that the spirits of the dead may return to befriend the members of the tribe, or to hinder their enemies, provided, always, that the members of the tribe enlisted their aid and their affections.
Now Big Foot, since there was no longer the wise voice of Strong Arm, nor the mighty strength of the old chief to enforce the good of his people, set himself to become the leader of the Cave People. He slashed his hairy thighs with his flint knife to prove how brave he was, allowing the gashes to become sores in order to prolong the evidence of his courage. He strutted about and waved his poison-tipped arrows when the young men refused to listen to his words. Also he rubbed the noses of all the women of the tribe and sought to caress them, attempting to drive the men of the tribe from the new nests, or caves or huts, which they had built in the far North country so many moon journeys from the old hollow where little Laughing Boy was born.
Big Foot boasted with a loud voice and bullied the children and spoke soft words to the women, while he glared at the young men and urged them into the forest to hunt for food. Always he kept his poisoned darts at his side and he managed to secure for himself the tenderest portion of the young goats which the people had discovered leaping and running wild amid the sharp slopes and crags of the mountains.
153So the tribe grew weary of his sorry ruling and there was much fighting and discord, which laid them open to the attacks of their many enemies.
Without doubt Big Foot was possessed of much cunning, for while other men of the tribe were as strong of limb and as fleet of foot, Big Foot was more powerful than they. Longer was his arm because he had learned first how to make and to wield his great bow and arrows almost as well as young One Ear, who had escaped from the Arrow Throwers and returned to his own people, the Cave Dwellers, bringing knowledge of the weapons of these strange enemies.
The Cave Dwellers had paused in their journeyings and battlings northward, on the banks of the lake that shone like white fire When the sun beat down upon its rolling surface. The way was new to them and unknown dangers threatened everywhere and they had utmost need to walk warily, lest a new tribe descend upon them with some new weapon of destruction and turn them back into the dangers they had outstripped.
Instead of holding the people together with wise words and instead of preparing to search out the lands to prepare for the strange evils that lie in wait for primitive man whenever he travels beyond the ways of his experience, Big Foot caused nothing but conflict. It was only his superior skill in the use of the flint-tipped arrows, which the 154Cave People were acquiring very rapidly, that prevented him from being slain by the members of the tribe.
Then it was that One Ear dreamed a dream. He thought that his spirit had journeyed far into the spirit world where it encountered the spirit of Strong Arm. And Strong Arm had spoken with One Ear, sending words of wisdom to the people of the tribe. He had called Big Foot the enemy of the Cave People. And when he wakened in the morning, One Ear remembered his dream. So he gathered all the people together and told them these things. And no man or woman among them knew that he spoke only of a dream. They believed that the spirit of Strong Arm still lived and that the things in One Ear’s dream had actually occurred.
So the Cave People chattered together and gesticulated and stole the fresh meat Big Foot had hidden in his cave and menaced him from cover by shaking their clubs and growling like angry dogs. Big Foot fled to his branch hut, where he glared at the members of the tribe and waved his long arrows.
The Cave People had long respected the words of Strong Arm and when they heard what he had spoken to One Ear in a dream, they hated Big Foot more fiercely than ever.
At last Big Foot returned to the people of the tribe, many of whom were sitting about a 155wood fire, and he spoke to them, trying to gain their good will and attempting to show them that none was so swift, so strong or so brave as he. But the people screamed “Strong Arm! Strong Arm!” to remind Big Foot that the old chief had spoken against him.
And Big Foot grew frantic with the rage that came upon him. He seized the club of Strong Arm which had been given to Laughing Boy in order that he might derive from it some of the virtue of bravery which his father, Strong Arm, had possessed. Big Foot spat upon it and crushed it beneath a great stone; then he hurled the shattered fragments far out into the green waters of the lake.
All the Cave People shivered with fear, for they thought this was a very foolish thing. They believed that the spirits of the dead grow angry when their weapons are broken or destroyed and they felt sure that the spirit of Strong Arm would punish Big Foot for the desecration he had worked on the club of the old chief.
But Big Foot was too angry to be afraid. White foam appeared upon his lips. When he thought of the spirit of Strong Arm he longed for a tangible foe, with flesh upon his bones that he might crush, with red juice in his skin that he might spill, with ears and a nose that he might bite and twist and tear. He desired an enemy into 156whose soft belly he might hurl one of his sharp arrows.
But there were only the Cave People beside him and the menace in their eyes and their lips, pulled back, snarling from their teeth, made him afraid. So he lifted up his voice in a frenzy of hate and scorn while he called the name of “Strong Arm! Strong Arm! Maker of lies;” he called him, and “Fool! Coward! Weak One! Baby!” and “Snake-that-crawls!” while he made violent gestures of hatred and disgust.
The Cave People watched him fearfully. To them it did not seem the part of wisdom to mock and defy the spirit of Strong Arm, which still lived, though his body had perished. Something was bound to happen. Strong Arm had never permitted any man to speak thus of him when he was living in the flesh and they did not believe his spirit would endure insult from Big Foot. Indeed, yes, something was sure to happen.
But it was not good for the whole tribe to be punished or blamed for the foolishness of Big Foot. This they knew and they made haste to put wide distances between themselves and him, pursuing their own work or their own ends with much ostentation as far as possible removed from his presence. If the spirit of Strong Arm was hiding in the valley and had chanced to overhear the evil words of Big Foot, no flat-headed savage among the tribe wanted Strong Arm to fancy 157he had anything to do with these things. They washed their hands of the whole affair and departed from the immediate presence of Big Foot.
The more Big Foot raved, the oftener One Ear called upon the spirit of Strong Arm, crying:
“Brave one! Wise one! Swift of foot” and “Give us of thy counsel!” And the Cave People began talking in loud voices of the good deeds of their old chief, of his courage and strength, of his wisdom and his “Eye-that-never-slept.”
While Big Foot defied the spirit of Strong Arm, One Ear and the Cave People sought to propitiate him with loud words of admiration and some flattery.
“Stronger than the hairy mastodon” they called him and “Father of all the lions.” He could outleap the mountain goat and outclimb the longest armed ou-rang-oo-tang. His voice was like the thunder and his breath like the winds that bend the trees on the river banks.
They felt more certain than ever that something was going to happen. They expected the spirit of Strong Arm to make it happen. But they did not desire to share in untoward events if a little information given to the spirit of Strong Arm could prevent this thing.
But the day passed, and the sun slid down the wings of the sky into the red fire of the lake, and still Big Foot strutted about with loud and boasting 158words. Still the Cave People waited and hoped, and were afraid.
And that night the spirit of Strong Arm again appeared to One Ear in a dream and his voice was fierce with anger against Big Foot and, in the dream, he counselled One Ear to tell the Cave People to push Big Foot from the tallest crag along the mountain gorge so that his body would be crushed upon the sharp stones below.
In the morning One Ear told these things to the people of the tribe and they drank the words of Strong Arm eagerly, begging Big Foot to join in a hunt for the wild goat amid the slopes of the mountain. But Big Foot was afraid and hid in his hut, making queer mouthings and snatching food from the children and waving his sharp arrows.
So the Cave People gathered about One Ear urging him to meet the spirit of Strong Arm once more and to ask for more wisdom on how to dispatch the evil man who brought dangers and conflict to the tribe.
Again in the morning One Ear called the people together, saying that the spirit of Strong Arm counselled the people to build fires about the hut of Big Foot in the night so that he might be destroyed.
And so, when darkness wrapped the valley in her soft folds, the Cave People stole from their shelters, each bearing branches and glowing coals 159from the camp fire, which they hurled in the door of Big Foot, with stones and spears so that he might not escape and injure the tribe.
The night was black and Big Foot was unable to hit the people with his sharp arrows. Coals were thrown upon the dry thatch of his hut and soon the flames encircled him with their burning tongues.
And when it was discovered that his body was burned to ashes and that the spirit of Big Foot had escaped, the Cave People rejoiced in their hearts. But their lips were dumb. For the first time they spoke well of Big Foot, whom they hated in their hearts. For was not the fate of Big Foot proof of the foolishness of speaking ill of the dead! Was not the victory of the Cave People who had spoken well of Strong Arm proof of their wisdom in these things?
The Cave People believed the spirit of Big Foot would be actively inimical to the tribe, just as they believed that the spirit of Strong Arm had proved itself to be the friendly father of the people.
And One Ear continued to dream dreams, which he related to the Cave People, giving them words of wisdom and courage from the spirit of Strong Arm and evil words from the spirit of Big Foot. Thus they grew to believe wondrous things of Strong Arm. His virtues grew with the passing of the suns, just as his strength increased 160and his wisdom was extolled until he became almost a god to the people of the tribe.
And when ill befell the Cave People, One Ear told them it had been caused by the evil spirit of Big Foot and when they escaped from these evils, he reported how the spirit of Strong Arm had befriended the tribe. Always was One Ear dreaming dreams. He told how the spirit of Strong Arm had counselled the people to make of Big Nose their leader and chief, which they did.
As he grew in years and in power, One Ear demanded that the best joints of meat, the warmest place by the fire, the safest cave or hut, be his portion. These things he declared were the commands of Strong Arm.
And so One Ear became a great man of the tribe. When the forest fire swept the plains and drove the wild fowl and the forest animals far inland, and brought famine to the Cave People, One Ear reported that the spirit of Strong Arm had done these things to punish the people because they had not brought young fowl, of which he was very fond, every day to One Ear.
Thus One Ear became the first priest of the tribe, protected before other men in order that the good spirits might not take vengeance upon the tribe should ill befall him. People brought him sharp knives and soft skins with which he made himself warm when the far northern winds blew cold in the winter time. And One Ear said 161good words to the great spirits for these bearers of gifts, so that they might be prospered and escape the sharp tooth of the crocodile.
By and by there came other dreamers of dreams who spoke with the great spirits and also brought messages to the people. Strong arms of the tribe clashed and there were great battles among the Cave People, till the Pretenders were slain, when once more peace and harmony reigned within the valley upon the shores of the great lake.
For Those Holding Classes in Sociology for Children.