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Title: Beyond the Fearful Forest

Author: Robert W. Krepps

Illustrator: Walter Haskell Hinton

Release date: April 29, 2021 [eBook #65186]

Language: English

Credits: Greg Weeks, Mary Meehan and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at



By Geoff St. Reynard

No hunter had ever dared to follow the great Knifetooth
Bear into his Fearful Forest. For beyond it lay
a greater peril—the land of The Nameless....

[Transcriber's Note: This etext was produced from
Imagination Stories of Science and Fantasy
April 1951
Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that
the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.]

The bones lie light in the fertile soil of Sunset Fields. You can prod them out with a few thrusts of your bare toes. The roots of the big luxurious tree ferns carry skulls and skins and back-bones up to the frond-filtered shining of day, and even the delicately questing purple tendrils of the burrowflower may drag an occasional finger or toe bone from its uneasy rest, so light they lie.

The bones do not decay. Nobody knows why. Animal bones decay. The skeletons of our own revered dead fall away to powder in a generation or two. But the bones of Sunset Fields are like the unchanging granite of the jagged cliffs, and of them we make our arrow points and lance heads, our hammers and our needles. It is more difficult to work the bones, to chip and flake them into form, than it is to shape our tools of metal; for we have ways of heating and molding these, subtle methods handed down from the far olden times of our fathers' fathers. There is no way to heat and mold a bone.

Our singers tell a legend that—oh, many years ago!—a man went by stealth and slew another man with his lance. Not many of us believed the legend even when we were children. To kill a man! Our singers say that he possessed a beautiful woman whom the slayer desired. Who would desire the woman of another man? Such a thing seems incredible and childish, even to a child. There are women for all men, men for all women, and do we not each love all others equally, reserving a special love only for our own mate? But the legend is sung that after this bloody deed was done, many men fought because of it, and their curst bones lie in the earth of Sunset Fields forever, a memorial to their fantastic stupidity.

It is a legend of the singers. Nobody really knows why the bones do not decay.

Beyond Sunset Fields run the three brooks: the Gray, the Blue, and the Crimson. Far to the south they meet, and there become the Wide River that flows turbulently on until it reaches the silver dusk that encircles the world. There was a man of our people who once set out to find the end of the Wide River, but he never came back.

Beyond the trio of brooks there rise the first grim ranks of the Fearful Forest, line after line of tall broad-leafed trees so evenly spaced you would think they had been planted by design. Pass the palisades of this forest and brave its terrors, its darkness and great angry beasts, and you will come after a time to the other side; and there, beyond a black plain where nothing grows save crawling vines and nauseous weed patches, you may see the towering cliffs of the country of The Nameless....

I am a hunter. My father was a singer, and his mate also; but I have a poor voice, good for little except to shout across the valleys to my friends, so my father, affectionately calling me Bear-throat, counseled me to become a hunter; and this I did.

I am strong, of course. My arms are brown as a deer's hide and they swell with muscle. My legs are sturdy and, though not thickset, can carry me at a run for the space of a day without tiring. I do not boast when I say this, for after all I am a hunter and my arms and legs are my tools as much as my lances and arrows and metal knife. My name is Ahmusk, though I am more generally hailed as Bear-throat, the nickname my father gave to me. I have eyes the color of Blue Brook where it runs into a deep pool. My hair, the pale golden hue of the earliest corn of autumn, is cut short in the fashion of hunters, falling scarcely to my shoulders in back, in front sliced off evenly just above my eyes. And I think this is all that need be said concerning the person of Ahmusk the hunter.

The day of which I would speak first was a day of cheerful sun and small breezes, with that crispness in the air that makes a man stand tall and blink once or twice, and perhaps shout for joy. I did just that, after I had wakened, and then I sat on the edge of my platform and looking down the tree's trunk at the grass below I was astonished at its bright new-seeming greenness. I sucked in a great chestful of air and shouted again. In the tree nearest mine there were two platforms, and now someone sat up on the higher and rubbed her eyes and grumbled. "What is it, Bear-throat?"

"The morning, girl, the morning," I said heartily.

"Need you be a herald of the dawn every day?" she asked, mock-petulantly. And I laughed.

"Throw off your furs and smell the wind, Lora," I told her. "In the changing of the moon to nothing and back to fulness, the snow will fly. Today is the best day of the year."

"To you, every day is the best of the year, or at least you say so each morning." She put back her sleeping furs and stood up, naked and young and beautiful. "When we are mated," she said, "I will see that you wake silently, and slide down the tree to find my breakfast while I sleep as long as I wish!"

"What a shrew," I said happily. "What a ruler of men."

"You will see." She slipped her light garment over her head. "I will quiet you down, young Bear-throat!"

"I hope the day is soon, then, for your mating," growled her father from the lower platform of their family's tree. "Perhaps good folk will then be allowed to rest."

Grinning, I hung by my hands from the edge of my platform and dropped to the ground. Fifteen feet from toe to turf is no drop at all to a skilled hunter. The watchers were coming down the glen from their posts of the night, yawning and rubbing their eyes. I hailed them and they answered with waves of their arms.

"Any disturbances?"

"You would have heard, Ahmusk of the keen ears," said their leader. "No, we glimpsed a knifetooth bear traveling his solitary way to the Gray Brook, but if he killed thereafter we were too distant to hear it. No noises save the small animals going and coming, going and coming all night long."

"It is nearly a moon's change since old Halfspoor ranged near the valley," I said. "He will be coming back soon, if I know his ways; and then there will be disturbances in the night."

The leader of the watchers shivered. As far apart as we stood, I saw him shudder. "But do not lose your day's sleep over him," I shouted reassuringly. "This very moment I go to look for his track. If he ranges within our lands I shall know, and a pair of hunters will watch with you."

"Watching is our duty, not yours," he answered a little sullenly. "Beware of Halfspoor, or he will be using your pelt for a sleeping fur, Ahmusk."

I was angered, I suppose. A hunter's pride is a powerful thing. "Halfspoor is only a knifetooth bear," I told him. "He is not, after all, one of The Nameless."

They looked at me in horror; and then they turned and went to their trees without a word. I felt ashamed of myself. It was an evil thing to use that terrible name so lightly. Then Lora had clambered down her tree and was standing near me, looking up into my face, so that I forgot all that I had been saying and knew only that every day this girl became more lovely.

"Good morning, Lora," I said.

"Are you really going to look for Halfspoor?" she asked me, her eyes, that were like the purple bells of the burrowflower, all wide and wondering.

"I am."

"Perhaps he has left our lands."

"I have known Halfspoor for five years, Lora, or it may be six. I know his rangings and his times for killing; I recognize his track though it be on the hardest ground, and I could tell you which snuffling grunt was his if a full score of knifetooth bears were all talking at once. He is due to come back today, or tomorrow or the next day. He is old and wily, but set in his ways."

"I hope he has died on the banks of the Wide River," she said, brushing a strand of her onyx-black hair away from her face. "I hope his bones are gnawed by jackal-rats."

"And I hope your wish does not come true," I said lightly. "Because I have chosen his hide for our mating rug, young Lora."

"Oh!" she exclaimed suddenly, her great eyes going wide again. "I had forgotten to tell you. I was asleep when you returned last night."

"I trailed a wounded deer far down the Blue Brook, and caught him late. What had you forgotten, sleek Lora?"

"The guardian Laq asked me to be his mate. It was in the afternoon, and he asked me in the presence of my father. When I reminded him that you were to be my mate, he asked my father for me."

I was shocked, then angered above any anger I had ever known. "He asked you, and then your father!" I roared. "What had your father to do with it?"

"Laq says that in the far olden times it was the custom to ask a woman's parents. My father was enraged and told him that we were not living in the far olden times. Laq said it was a pity we were not, as then the people had respect for their guardians. And my father, fuming and rumbling until I thought he would begin to give off sparks like Ruddy Mountain, told Laq that even a guardian had no right to ask for the promised mate of another man. Laq then departed, saying he would ask me again after Halfspoor had killed you, dear Bear-throat. Halfspoor again! His cruel words had slipped my mind until I spoke them now. Must you go looking for Halfspoor?"

"I must." Taking my bow from my shoulder, I tested it from habit, and counted the arrows in my quiver to ascertain that there were fourteen of them, for fourteen arrows are accounted lucky for a day's hunt. "I do not understand Laq," I told her. "He has broken two of the strongest customs. To ask you when you are promised ... and then to ask your father for you, as though you were a bone hammer or a sleeping fur! Laq must be losing his wits."

"Perhaps he was drunk on tree fern juice." She dismissed Laq and all his works with a shrug. "The sun has lifted over the hills, Bear-throat. If Halfspoor is so much more attractive than I am, why then go to him, young hunter with blind eyes."

I patted her smooth cheek. "Young, but not blind. Did I not choose the prettiest girl of all our folk, when we two were scarcely older than sucklings?" And with this compliment, which made her preen, I left her and walked swiftly down the glen toward Sunset Fields.

By the time I had crossed Sunset Fields and come to the Gray Brook, I had forgotten Laq and pushed Lora to the back of my mind. The day was perfect. Every bird in the world was making merry on his twig, every small animal had left his burrow to romp drunkenly through the underbrush, intoxicated with the bright keen air of morning. I passed a doe with her fawn, trotting happily toward the water; and I did not bring her down, though she would have been easy prey and good eating, for we shared a joy that made us sib to one another.

Still, for me the pleasure of autumn was now only a background against which my thoughts of Halfspoor the bear marched in orderly fashion while I reviewed them one by one. I recalled his slayings of men, his occasional and very skillful stalking of the night watchers in their trees at either end of our valley. I remembered how on this morning he would be found asleep in his old lair under the two fallen petrified tree ferns downstream near the Blue Brook, while on that morning he would be gnawing the bones of bison or cave cat or perhaps even of jackal-rat (for he was a dirty feeder, was Halfspoor), far up the Crimson. I visualized his footprint, unique among knifetooth bears, measuring as long as my arm from wrist to shoulder, and with three outer toes gone from the right hind pug. As I waded through the Gray Brook's chilled waters I could almost imagine that I saw the maimed sign of his pad on the silver strand before me. "How well I know that track!" I exclaimed to myself, with an egotistic pride in my craft; and then I came out of the waters to find that, far from so clearly imagining it in all its enormous crippled particulars, I had actually been looking at the veritable track of Halfspoor himself. I was exultant and humiliated at the same time.

Halting above it, I tested my bow once more, and counted the fourteen bone-pointed arrows in their quiver that I had made from the paw and forearm pelt of another knifetooth bear, my lucky quiver with the claws still hanging from its tip. The metal knife was in its sheath at my hip, the bone hatchet dangled from a sling handy to my left hand. I took a deep breath and began to follow the great mutilated prints overland toward the second of the three streams.

Soon I had crossed the Blue and was approaching the Crimson Brook. Halfspoor was perhaps two hours ahead of me. Where he had trodden in sand, the water had filled his track, and where he had ambled heavily across grassy spaces, the blades had sprung nearly to uprightness again. He was traveling slowly, inspecting logs and coverts, probably talking to himself in the gruff complaining whine of his breed. Here and there he had lingered a moment or two, and in these places I could often catch a whiff of his rank ursine odor.

At first I had no desire to catch up with Halfspoor. Almost would I rather have come face to face with one of The Nameless! No hunter is a match for a full-grown knifetooth bear, standing as he does more than twice as tall as a man, with an unbelievable bulk that must outweigh twenty-five humans, every ounce of which is full of fight and choler and wickedness. His twin saber-tusks jut down in great deadly arcs, yellow and sharp and long as a hunting arrow. His head is larger than that of any animal, even than that of the cave cat who lives to the north and can be heard yowling a full day's journey away. When a knifetooth bear opens his maw it is like staring into a huge fang-rimmed scarlet well. His paws are swift gargantuan weapons that can enfold and crush the largest stag. Oh, a terrible beast is old knifetooth! And Halfspoor was the biggest, the angriest, the wisest and most hateful of his tribe.

I tracked him but did not hurry overmuch; when I had decided where he would spend the night, I would return to the glen, and persuade a dozen of our hunters to accompany me to find him. If he lay over a kill, stupid and drowsy with eating, we would attack him. Some of us might die, but Halfspoor also would die ... if we were lucky. By right of my trailing I would then lay claim to his pelt, and from it make a mating fur for Lora. And the watchers would feel happier as they sat the nights through in their trees at the ends of the valley, because Halfspoor would never trouble them again.

On this I thought as I crossed the Crimson Brook, and saw the first line of trees rising from gray tangled thickets that marked the beginning of the Fearful Forest. Halfspoor's pugmarks went straight toward them. And it was then that I began to form my daring plan. The bear was obviously going to go to ground somewhere in the woodland, and no hunter would follow me into that dreadful place after sundown.

Why not follow him and kill him myself?

Of all the folk, I alone had killed a knifetooth bear. Truly he had been but partially grown, and I had not deliberately stalked him to kill; no, I had blundered on him and it had been slay or be slain. But in that fight I had learnt much of a knifetooth's tactics, blind spots and weaknesses. His arm was now my quiver, his hide my sleeping rug. Halfspoor was only twice his size, at most, and surely the best hunter of the glen was a match for him? I who could loose four arrows and notch a fifth before the first struck its mark a hundred paces off—why should old tribal fears and the experiences of lesser men keep me from trying my hand at conquering this maimed brute?

I went into the dank dimness of the Fearful Forest.

There is something I do not like about a deep tangled forest, and that is the lack of sunshine. The light is green and cool, and at intervals you will see a thin beautiful shaft of yellow spearing down from an opening far above; but unless you come to a glade there is no chance of catching a glimpse of the sun in its glory riding the blue fleece-clouded sky, and without the sun I feel lonely and somehow half-lost. It is why I would make an indifferent watcher, for they must wake by night and sleep by day. I am a sun-worshipper of the first order. I need its blazing all about me in order to be wholly myself.

Of all woodlands, the least lovely is the Fearful Forest. As I have said, its trees are spaced evenly as though they had been planted by someone in the far olden times. Their wide leaves are dark blue-green with emerald veins running beneath the surface. Their boles are thick and have rough hard bark, unlike the smooth-skinned tree ferns of Sunset Fields. Between their roots orange and black mushrooms and strange pale sick-looking fungi lurk, and crawling upward toward the invisible sun go lichens of every hue from mauve to sanguine. Where the branches begin there is a riot of parasitical growths, thick vines and murderous mistletoe, climbing plants that bear huge trumpets of orchids, every sort of disagreeable creeper that lives on the energy of its stronger brethren. All this vile vegetation makes an almost impenetrable roof over the whole Fearful Forest. On the ground between the trees lie heaps of long-decayed touchwood, squat thickets of brier, lightning-blasted limbs only beginning to crumble, and a deep soft carpet of dead things, from the half-dissolved flora of which peer white rib cases and gleaming, grinning skulls. The Fearful Forest reeks of death, of murdered animals and plants, of life that is not healthy nor productive of anything save more death.

There are trails through the depths of this dismal woodland, paths made by bears or stags or the giant dogwolves that range in packs of a hundred. Smaller aisles are made by jackal-rats and the other lesser animals. Halfspoor was following a deep trench of a trail that ran almost straight toward the opposite side of the forest.

For a long while I followed this pathway, glancing at the ground now and again to be sure the knifetooth bear had not turned off; and my mind was oppressed against my will by thoughts of horror, generated, doubtless, in the dreary sunless vistas about me. Indeed, I would have gone back had it not been for the bold and idiotic plan I had conceived, of slaying Halfspoor single-handed. Several times a jackal-rat crossed my road, snarling at me, its scurfy brown hackles lifted. The third such loathsome beast I skewered with an arrow out of sheer dislike, retrieving my shaft before I passed on.

Suddenly I halted. Before me on a patch of mold lay the print of the bear, and within its great outline was a second track, that of a man. Another human was following Halfspoor! I was astonished. I knew where every hunter of the glen-folk ranged today, and none should be near the Fearful Forest. Kneeling, I stared closely at the footmark. I knew it well, as I knew the spoor of every man in this region. Laq the guardian was before me in the woodland.

Laq! He who had so oddly broken two of the oldest customs—say rather immutable laws—of humanity. We are supposed to love one another equally, and for the most part we do; reserving, as I have said, a special love for our mates and a heightened reverence for our guardians. But I could not feel any very powerful affection for the guardian Laq that day. I was disgruntled and wrathful to find that he was somewhere ahead.

Certainly he had a perfect right to be in the Fearful Forest. The guardians passed this way with some frequency, and no hunter or singer or watcher of the night envied them their solitary journeys ... nor their mysterious and appalling duties at their destination!

For the guardians were the only barrier, as we all had been told from childhood, that stood between mankind and The Nameless. The calling was hereditary, limited to certain families. Dedicated at birth to their lifelong task, the guardians learned their secrets from their fathers, and imparted not a syllable of them to anyone outside the craft so long as they lived. It was thought that perhaps only those of select blood lines had minds capable of holding these secrets without going insane; it was thought—oh, many many things were thought of the guardians! Generally aloof, wrapped in the cloak of esoteric knowledge, they lived among us as superior beings, complex where we were simple, sober where we were light-hearted, supremely important where any one of us could be replaced by a score of others.

Over The Nameless the guardians had power, and kept them confined to their stark and blighted-seeming country beyond the Fearful Forest. I never knew a man so daring or so rash as to ask any sort of impertinent question of a guardian, whether about his work or his cabalistic secrets or his terrible charges. The less said or even thought of The Nameless, the better.

So the guardians moved between the glens and the jagged cliffs, revered by men and shunned by beasts of prey, accepting food and comforts and at times a mate from our ranks; the sole protection of humanity from their age-old enemies....

The Nameless!

Suddenly I realized I was approaching the limits of the Fearful Forest. I peered keenly at the great mutilated tracks in the mold. Yes, it was still Halfspoor I followed, and here was Laq's mark too.

I think it was then that I began to feel fear, when I knew that I should have to skirt the country of The Nameless. It never entered my head that Halfspoor would go straight on across the blackened plain; surely not even a bear would pass too near the forbidden lands. But he was evidently going to have a distant look at them, and so perforce I must have one likewise.

Soon the trees thinned a little, and daylight crept toward me from between their boles. Then in a few moments I stood on the edge of the woodland. I began to sing to myself in a tuneless mumble. There was very little joy in me, and I felt I would be happier with some man-made noise, even such noises as came from my unskilled throat.

One sweeping glance I gave the plain before me. There were the slimy pools with their odious tufts of weeds and strings of water vines emerging like sentient things of evil. There were the undulating bare stretches of black dead soil from which nothing sprouted. And beyond, strange cragged rocks and cairns upreared haphazardly in profusion for many thousands of paces, until at last the raw red cliffs leaped up to cry a halt to them and all this barren, frightful country ... beyond the cliffs, what man knew what might be?

One glance, and then I flung myself into a pile of touchwood, scattering the punk in blinding, billowing clouds and bruising my shoulder on a hidden stump. As I had heard the thin twang of a bowstring, I now heard the quick heavy crump of an arrow striking a tree, just before my face was buried in the crumbling tinder. I rolled over behind a log, eyes full of the dry powdery stuff and nostrils twitching against the longing to sneeze. My own bow was in my hand and an arrow nocked before I rubbed my vision clear; then I peered cautiously over the log in the direction whence the shaft had come.

Nothing moved, so presently I bounced to my feet and went over to the right to inspect the arrow, which had buried itself two finger-lengths in the bark. I broke it off and stared at the feathers and green-dyed butt. It was one I had made myself.

Standing without movement, I listened hard, and at last heard someone's careless foot crack a twig in the distance. Then I allowed myself the luxury of an ear-shattering sneeze.

One of our own glen-folk had shot at me. There was no escaping that fact. It might have been anyone save a hunter, for all of us made our own weapons, giving the surplus to be divided among the less adroit men of the other callings.

In the split second between the string's song and the thunk of the arrow, it had flashed into my mind that one of The Nameless was shooting at me. For of course no one knew exactly what they did, just how they injured men, or even what they looked like; they might be ogres with twelve arms and seven heads, carrying half-a-dozen bows....

But this was an arrow of my making. That meant that the shot had been a warning to return to a safer place, an admonition that I was wandering too far, sent dramatically by one of the patrolling guardians.

Yet why had he not merely stepped up and warned me? All the guardians knew me well. They knew I would be tractable to any suggestion. Why had he shot and fled?

So conditioned is our race to amity and all-embracing brotherly love, so incredible is the thought of violence between men, that it took quite five minutes of cogitation before the terrible idea occurred to me: that it might have been Laq, a jealous and hate-filled Laq, shooting not to warn, but to murder.

I remembered the legend of the bones of Sunset Fields, and a sickness took me in the pit of the stomach for a while. Then I put the grotesque thought from me, and went to look for Halfspoor's trail once more.

It ran clear and straight out across the black plain; I rubbed my chin and hesitated briefly. Then, nocking an arrow, I strode out and away from the edge of the Fearful Forest. My skin began to crawl, crawl with dread, but with scowling eyes I traced the prints before me, and there was no possibility in my mind of turning back now. Remembrance of the shaft in the tree was angering me more with every step. Warning or murder weapon, its insolent caveat was the final stimulation I had needed to force my frightened body onward.

If you are not a hunter, perhaps you will not understand the intense and passionate ascendancy that a stalk may gain over a man's will. He begins in a spirit of sport, it may be, thinking, "I shall pit my wits against this stag—or bison, or cave cat—and see if I can out-think him." Then after so long he begins to feel feverish about the temples, his hands sweat, his breath comes shorter; and suddenly it is not an idle hour's sport, but a whole life he is living in these moments, a veritable microcosm of existence, and the quarry is not simply a great dangerous animal, but all foemen, all desirable goals, everything he wants for himself and in the same moment everything he has fought and will fight forever. I cannot make it plainer. It is just this: the longer the hunting, the more acute grows the urgency to come up with and slay this fleeing creature, whether it be jackal-rat or eagle or two-ton knifetooth bear. If the hunter be a real man, he will not cease from pursuit while there is wind in his lungs and a modicum of strength in his hands.

Even though the game lead him into such a place as the country of The Nameless, from which, as we all have been told from infancy, there is no escape, your true hunter cannot stand and let it go. I had been making pictures in my head for half a day's spooring, of what I should do to this great ursine brute when I caught him; I was entirely incapable of returning empty-handed. I think that even without the impetus of that furtive skulker with the arrow, I would have gone on. As it was ... I quickened my pace.

The blackened plain was broader than it had seemed from the forest. I trotted briskly over it, avoiding the stinking pools, and on all its grim surface nothing moved except myself. The pugmarks of Halfspoor went straight as an owl's death-strike toward the broken cairns and ragged rocks. Biting my lips with determination, I followed them. I was in a strange state of single-mindedness, like a man drunken on fermented tree fern sap who knows only that he wants to do one thing and that, no matter how ridiculous it may be, nothing will stop him from doing it.

Already I had gone a thousand paces farther than any man of my race—save the guardians—had ever gone before. The earth beneath my bare toes was gritty, almost like powdered stone, and I did not wonder that nothing grew here except in the scummy pools of stagnant rainwater.

Now the first of the queer cairns was before me. Halfspoor had gone around it. So did I.

A shadow moved in the far corner of my left eye. I gazed swiftly toward it, but it was gone.

A shudder ran up the back of my legs and quivered across my shoulders till my hands shook. Yet my stalking-madness would not let me be long afraid.

Here was a plot of ground between two walls of unevenly-piled rocks. Trails of jackal-rats threaded its smooth surface, and across Halfspoor's prints ran those of a big lone dogwolf. I was bewildered. Could this be the country of The Nameless, over which even the eagles feared to soar? Or did it lie, perhaps, beyond those bleak cliffs yonder?

Here Halfspoor had caught himself a jackal-rat. Said I not that he was a foul feeder? He had torn the scavenger in two and spent five or ten minutes in wolfing down the tenderer portions.

Where was he heading, this temerarious bear? What curious siren call was luring him (and quite possibly me) to destruction?

I paused by a wall, to pick out with the point of my knife a thorn that had been working its way into my heel. This wall, now: it appeared to have been built a-purpose. The base was straight and made of thick square blocks, the upper rows knocked a little out of line but still fairly even. Between the stones was a crumbly, grainy material, and in places it still adhered to the rock in lumps and patches. I scratched my head over it, forgetting Halfspoor. Suppose, now, a man wanted to build a wall of such huge stones—provided he found a way to move them in the first place, for they were enormously heavy—would he not concoct some gummy or cohesive substance with which to hold them together? And in the course of time, of many moons and years, would this substance not possibly harden and then decay, leaving traces such as I now pried away with my thumbnail?

But what would a man want with a wall like this?

A light shone in my mind. Why, if he had such a wall erected across one end of a glen, it might keep the carnivores from his tribe's trees, and there would be no need for more than one or two night watchers!

If I lived to return to our valley, I would lay this idea before my people. It was amazingly simple, and yet new. Surely no one had ever thought of it before.

Well, I went on through the rocky ruins.

Halfspoor was heading for the cliffs. In this bad unfamiliar soil it was hard to judge the age of his traces, but I thought he could not be more than half an hour ahead of me now.

Again a shadow moved just beyond the range of my vision, and again when I looked around it had gone.

I thought of Laq. I should have traced his footprints at the edge of the wood and discovered the truth concerning that arrow.


I was not exactly happy. But I traveled on over Halfspoor's trail, committed to the rash impulsive adventure beyond recall. At one point I passed a lair, dug out beneath one of the shapeless cairns and lined with torn fur, which stunk of dogwolf; the bones of many big hares littered the ground before its mouth, but there were none of the fierce occupants at home just then, and I passed on. There were more signs of beasts hereabouts than one could find in all the valleys back beyond Sunset Fields, and my amazement grew within me. This was not what the guardians had told us concerning the country of The Nameless, they who were doom and destruction to everything that drew breath.

Here was a place where Halfspoor had seated himself to rest, in a corner of the ancient walls. Tiny tufts of grizzled fur were left sticking to the rough surface, where the bear had rubbed his back contentedly over the stones. I inhaled deeply of his scent. He was not far ahead now!

Indeed he was not; less than two hundred cautious paces had I gone when his mighty frame rose before me, towering up beyond a rock so abruptly that I thought he must have heard me and lain in wait. Then I realized, even as my fingers flew in a panic to my quiver, that his back was toward me and he was staring forward and up, making a guttural pleading sort of noise in his chest. I could scarcely shoot him in the back (it would only have enraged him anyway), so I slipped off to the left and crept along behind a low broken wall until I judged I was opposite him. Carefully I raised my head. There he was, all fourteen feet of him, his monstrous head tipped back and his mouth open, so that his twin fangs in profile seemed but a single terrible yellow tusk. I might have lanced an arrow through his cranium then, but ... well, Ahmusk the hunter is no assassin. When the day comes on which I dare not fight fairly, even with a knifetooth bear, then I shall break my bow and take to garland-weaving.

I stared up to see what he was moaning at. Before him at a little distance rose a thing like a flat-faced precipice, which I had been watching and wondering about for some minutes. It appeared to have been constructed, like the low walls I had examined; but its stones were even larger than theirs, and its overall surface much smoother. At regular intervals, and in series of evenly spaced lines, across this uncanny cliff, there ran large square openings, like many blind eyes in an ogre. There were five of these horizontal lines of holes, rising up until the top of the cliff all shattered and craggy put an end to them. I would say this strange erection was more than seventy feet high.

Framed in one of the holes on the second level sat another knifetooth bear, deep brown where Halfspoor was grizzled, smaller than the old scoundrel by a third of his bulk, and—my word on it!—an expression of coyness about her shaggy face that nearly made me burst out laughing. This was the lodestone which had dragged him inexorably over the brooks and through the Fearful Forest, even into the land of The Nameless. A female! A bear-wench!

She glared at him sidelong, her black nose pointed down and her comparatively short two-foot fangs digging into her shoulder; while Halfspoor, giddy and fatuous with love, made his drooling noises of courtship.

I sat down with a bump—he was oblivious to me and to everything but his light-o'-love—and chuckled helplessly. Then I frowned. What should I do? Leap up and dance to attract his attention? Or leave him to his wooing and trust to run across his trail another day? You will understand that my stalking-fever, which even the country of The Nameless had not been able to dispel, was misted away by this development as though it had never been. Poor old Halfspoor! It would be a scurvy trick to interrupt him now with death.

And even as I thought these comradely thoughts, the whine of an arrow came from nowhere and on its heels the angry squall of the giant bear. I twisted round and looked over the wall. There was a shaft, fleshed in his furry thigh; and Halfspoor was gazing at me with no friendliness whatever.

It was no time for idle wondering as to the source of that arrow. Indeed, I think I knew instinctively who had sent it over my head into the courting bruin. But as I leaped the scattered rocks and dodged the higher walls of that ruinous place, I was seeking only an advantageous battleground, not the stealthy prowler with the bow. At my back I could hear the wrathful snorting of the knifetooth bear, the swift thud-thud of his enormous paws, and the rattle of stones dislodged by his whirlwind passage.

My bow was in my hand, a lean arrow nocked on the cord. Hastily as I ran I gripped two others between the fingers of my left hand. Skirting a heap of gray lichen-grown rubble, I whirled on my toes and sent the first missile back at him. When I could risk a glance again, he had fallen a little behind, being some forty long paces in the rear, and was swatting impatiently at the broken shaft protruding from his thigh. I think my own shot had missed him, and considering my haste, I was not surprised.

I halted and taking a decent aim I loosed one at his head. At the same moment he roared loudly, opening his immense mouth to its full extent. Luck not being with me, the arrow glanced off one of his overgrown fangs with a sharp click, which appeared to startle Halfspoor considerably, because he stopped dead and blinked down his muzzle in a quaint way. I shot the third of my arrows and tore a long red furrow up one gray-sprinkled cheek. Then, as he was nearly atop me in four sudden raging bounds, I fled like a hare amongst the ruins. His coughing and bellowing echoed like implacable thunder in my ears.

There was a deep and narrow gut of a trench that ran between two high stone walls. In jumping it I had an idea; doubled back, narrowly missed being decapitated by a swipe of one savage paw, and dived over the rocks into this curious thoroughfare. Scuttling like a jackal-rat, I went on toes and fingers off to the right, with Halfspoor's vociferance threatening to crack my eardrums. Two or three times he reached down for a blow at my back, and I actually felt the wind of his pad's thrust on my nape. Then he darted ahead, if such a titanic monster may be said to dart, and leaning over one wall he waited for me. Clever brute! He would scoop me out of my ditch like a fish from a runlet, would he? I vaulted the wall opposite to his side and after one hasty shot flew into a crazy labyrinth of ancient ramparts and disintegrating inclosures. An insane bawling told me I had probably hit him again. I had ten arrows left. My confidence was growing. Only let me find a tall cairn to scale, and I would make Halfspoor into a positive porcupine with those ten missiles.

A sun-blind owl sat in a filthy nest among fallen blocks of stone. As I dashed past, it blundered out and flew into my face, beating its heavy wings and jabbing furiously at my eyes with its little hooked bill. I fended it off with the bow, gripped my bone-headed hatchet and with a long-armed glancing swing hit it under one of the big dazzled eyes. It fell away, screeching, and I ran on. Halfspoor's grunt was close behind.

Then, some distance off, I caught the sound of howling, and knew that a pack of fierce dogwolves were running on a scent. I hoped they would not come here to complicate matters.

There was a place where broken walls flanked a row of stones which rose gradually upward, somewhat like a ladder placed halfway between horizontal and vertical; that is, a man could step on one stone, then up on the next, then the next, and so on, until he found himself quite high in the air. The row ended on a flat floor open to the winds of heaven, some twenty-odd feet from the ground; and here and there around this flat place irregular rocky projections rose. I had seen enough of this country by now to know that the projections must once have been another wall, rising to enclose this flat floor. Why someone, or something, had gone to so much trouble to make these ancient walls, I could not imagine. At first I had thought it must have been a truly gigantic being, to lift the huge stones. Now I had seen so many inclosures roofed over (as we roof over our platforms with thick fronds during the brief weeks of the winter) at a height of no more than nine or ten feet, that I could not believe a giant had made them. Why should he make a place in which he would have to lie down, never standing? But on the other hand, that may have been the case. It was hardly the time for philosophical speculations. I trotted up the stone ramp briskly and cast my eyes about for a good shooting-nook.

Halfspoor was hot after me. He dropped to all fours and came up the graduated stones as though he had been using such conveniences all his life—and it was not truly so different from climbing a rocky hill, except that this was smoother going. I dashed for a heap of rubble at one corner. Leaping this, I crouched down as Halfspoor hit the top at a run. I shot at him and my ill luck was still with me, for again my shaft glanced off one of his frightful tusks. Surely an evil fog lay over my eyes that day! He charged in my direction and I had time for but one more swift arrow, which I had the good sense not to aim at his head. It buried half its length rather low in his shoulder and he squalled resentfully. Then I slipped over the edge and dropped to the ground.

I had calculated the drop well. It was too much for his bulk. He loomed above me, raging. I put an arrow in his cheek, and he bit down hard and spat out the head and part of the shaft. I drew a good bead on his eye but he turned much more quickly than I had anticipated and the missile whined away in the sky. He headed back for the climbing stones. I looked about me. There was a broken inclosure nearby in one wall of which was an entrance like a cave mouth, perhaps seven feet high by two broad: it seemed as good a place as any to dodge into, and I did. There I awaited his coming, controlling my breathing as best I could in order that my next shots would not be so shamefully wasted.

Then I heard the dogwolf pack much closer. They yapped and yowled, and mingled with their excited noise was the petulant grunt of Halfspoor. Still I waited, but he did not come. Then I knew by the sounds that the dogwolves had surrounded him. Here was an odd happening! Certainly no dogwolf would attack a knifetooth bear, even though he ran with five score other canines. Only a very silly human hunter would pit himself against old Halfspoor.

But, by my love for Lora, they were shepherding him across the ruins! I caught a glimpse of the old devil backing reluctantly up a mound, and then as I gaped he turned and shambled off down a black ravine, complaining and waving his forepaws angrily. In a great circle they followed him, nipping at his heels, leaping out of range, and keeping up an incessant clamor that sounded like boys teasing a captured cave cat kitten.

I counted the arrows in my quiver. There were six now. Ill luck rode my shoulders that day. Halfspoor should be bleeding to death with eight shafts in his chest and head; instead he had four or five inconsiderable wounds, one of which I had not even given him.

I spat on the ground, wishing I had a drink of water. Ahmusk, mighty stalker of knifetooth bears! I laughed without mirth. Ahmusk, desperate invader of the land of The Nameless. There, now, was a title for a brave man; but I had come here in the grip of hunting-fever, and so little credit attached to me for the deed. I was in a mood to revile myself aloud. I smote my bare thigh and swore heartily. What should I do now about Halfspoor? There was no profit in advertising my presence to the dogwolf pack. They had been known to pull down men if they were hungry.

I put my hands to my ears and rubbed them roughly, for of a sudden they were tingling and prickling. It was as though I had heard a high unpleasant sound; but except for the distant uproar of Halfspoor and his annoyers, there was nothing. The country was bewitched, that was it. There was a pause, and then my eardrums thrilled briefly again to something I could not locate or analyze.

I glanced behind me at the inclosure. Roofless, I had the feeling that it must once have been roofed; there were low piles of rock trash all about, as there would have been had the roof—fallen now—been somehow impossibly made of stone. What prodigies of strength and skill had wrought these incredible walls? I shook my head, and turned back to the entrance.

There was something approaching slowly over the ruined structures to my right. I looked at it with widening eyes. It was about a hundred paces off. For one sickening moment I believed it to be some horrid kind of ogre, made of muck or rotted flesh or some such grisly matter; it seemed slimy and dead....

Then the sun struck it, and I decided that it was simply covered with long trailing dark hair, which glistened wetly in the rays of the dying sun.

It came on, and my knees smote together while my tongue stuck to the roof of my sudden-dried mouth.

In form it was like a man. Indeed, had a man been smeared with black mud, and then been given a coat of heavy hair, oily or permanently damp hair, he might well have resembled this creature. I judged it to be about six feet or a little over, my own height; and so later it proved to be. It moved oddly, with a sort of halting gait, weaving its arms to keep its balance on the jagged rocks. I could see two deep blackish pits in its head where its eyes would be, and matted straggly hair fell lifelessly from its crown. It was naked, like an animal.

I thought of my mother's old songs of the ogre-breed, which can take all manner of shapes, but often emulate mankind, building their frames magically from dead beasts or from the masses of decomposing vegetable matter in the forests. Maybe my first idea had been right, and this was an ogre of mire and pelts, all wickedness.

At any rate, it was coming at me, if rather slowly; and so I put an arrow to the string, being minded to die bravely as becomes a hunter of the glen-folk.

Seeing me raise the bow, it waved at me in protest, and with so human a gesture that I could not shoot it, but only held my weapon ready. It then raised one hand to its face, with something bright in its fingers (it had fingers, I could see, like a man's), and my ears tingled again to the unheard sound or vibration which had bothered me previously.

From the ruins behind it rose the noise of dogwolves barking. It nodded, like a man who would say to himself, That is good. Then it came on with its slow, almost apologetic pace. I lowered my bow. Somehow I felt that it meant me no injury.

When it was no more than half-a-dozen feet off, it halted; and we stared at each other curiously.

It was a hairy brute, to be sure, but evidently no ogre. Its thatch glistened darkly, and seemed of the consistency of a cave cat's mane, but without curls; lank, long, and thick. In the places where this mantle did not grow, as on the cheeks and forehead and on the rounded portions of the limbs, there was a short dusky shag, a nap like that on a knifetooth bear's muzzle. The effect was startling, but on close inspection not really ugly, and wholly without the impression of terror which my first sight of it had brought. It appeared to be watching me steadily, though its eyes were entirely hidden in their sunken shadowed wells. Finally it put up its right hand to the level of its waist and held it there. I could not see the significance of the gesture. After a moment it thrust the open hand out to me in several short jabs. The motion was entirely without menace. I could make nothing of it.

It clasped its hands together and shook them. Then it stuck the right one toward me again. I realized that it wished to touch my own hand!

I shifted my bow to my left hand—so sure had I grown in these few brief seconds that it meant no harm—and touched its hairy fingertips. Instantly my hand was enfolded in a firm hearty grip, and moved rapidly up and down. I cannot explain how or why the emotion swept over me, but immediately I felt a warm friendship for this shaggy being, such a feeling as I had never held before for anything save my fellow men and women of the valleys.

And there was something else. The gesture felt ... felt natural, and proper, and almost familiar, as though I had done it many times before!

Mystified, I drew back my hand as he released it; and once more we stood staring at each other without sound.

A movement at last caught my eye, and staring over his shoulder I saw two great dogwolves breast a wall and come loping toward us. With a warning cry I threw up my bow. In the time it took me to change hands on it, he had peered back; then he gave a cry, remarkably manlike in tone, and waved urgently at my face. Scowling, I dodged back to get a shot at the foremost brute. At once the hairy thing knelt, as if pleading, and the pair of dogwolves, coming up, fawned on him with lolling scarlet tongues.

My jaw dropped and I gasped, dumbfounded.

The fierce beasts were his friends!

I slung my bow over my shoulder, but took the precaution of grasping my bone hatchet. The dogwolves stared at me, their hot eyes as puzzled as no doubt my own were; but they made no move toward me.

The hairy being stood up and came forward to touch me lightly on the chest. Then he shook my right hand up and down again. The dogwolves crept on their bellies to our shadows, and one of them, a giant of a fellow, touched my foot with his wet nose, whining a little.

If there has ever been a more astonished person than I was at that second, he must have fainted away with his wonder. I know I grew quite giddy. Now, I said to myself, if Halfspoor were to amble up to me and ask for the loan of my knife, I think he would get it without a question or a raised eyebrow!

The big carnivores lay panting beside us, and the dark rough-coated manlike creature rubbed his chin and stared at me from those deepset eyes; which I could make out now, as they were glittering in a stray beam of sunlight that fell across his strange face.

He said something to me. It was not an animal's noise, but a reasonable imitation of human speech, except that none of the words were familiar.

At once I remembered the young hunter who had come to our glen several years before, from a country far to the north. His language, while much the same as ours, had words in it which we had never heard; and the elders of the tribe said that probably other folk, living in other isolated places, must have developed words of their own too.

This being, of course, seemed to me at first no more a man than were the dogwolves at his feet. He had the same general form, yes, and perhaps even the exact conformation of features under that mat of hair; but what human by any stretch of the imagination could ever grow such a pelt?

Nonetheless, his voice was pleasing enough to the ear, and his speech seemed separated into distinct words, though as I have said, none of them were familiar to me.

I said, "Friend what-is-it, you undoubtedly know what you're talking about, but I do not. I would give a new set of hunting arrows to be able to understand you."

He uttered more words, pointing off to the west where the tall raw cliffs were even now shutting off the lower half of the sun.

"Yes," I said, "evening comes on, and you're afraid I'll wander over into the country of The Nameless. Is that it? Never you fear, my friend, I'll not go a step farther in that direction."

But he took my hand, hesitantly and as though afraid that I might be offended; and he tried to lead me westward.

I hung back, and the dogwolves growled a little, but desisted when he spoke to them. Then he signed to me, as plainly as one could imagine, that there was food where he was taking me; and so because of my grumbling belly I suffered him to lead me off among the ruins of this fabulous place.

As we walked I thought of Lora, and her distress in the morning when she would find me still away; but not for anything would I tread the paths of the Fearful Forest at night. I must find a sleeping place nearby.

We passed the flat-faced precipice with the five lines of square openings, where Halfspoor's brown lady had been sitting. I pointed up and said, "Knifetooth bear!" He cocked his head at me. I hunched my shoulders, put two fingers athwart my lips for fangs, roared like a bear and said, "Knifetooth!" again.

The hairy one stopped, opened his mouth—he had teeth as even and white as my own—and out of his throat came the exact duplicate of old Halfspoor's battle cry. The dogwolves leaped and barked excitedly. I nodded agreement and said, "Bear!"

He said something guttural that sounded like oorsa. I made him repeat it several times. It occurred to me that ursus is another of our names for old knifetooth; and my wonder grew apace.

Pointing to myself, I then exclaimed, "Ahmusk!"

He said my name with no difficulty, and then seemed rather confused; for he tapped his own black chest and said, "Ahmusk?"

I tried again. I touched the bigger of the two canines and said, "Dogwolf."

He mastered that more or less, and in return gave me his name for the brute, which was poort or spoort, I could not tell which. His sibilants were tongued so lightly that they were difficult to hear.

I indicated myself and said, "Man." I prodded him and repeated it. Then I realized consciously for the first time that I was now regarding him as a species of human. He had taken me for kin before, as his former use of my name as a generic term plainly proved.

"Ahmusk," said I once more, beating my bosom.

"Ahmusk," said he, pointing; and then, laying a shining-haired paw on his own breast, "Dy-lee!"

"Dy-lee," I said, charming him no end, for he capered grotesquely and nodded his head till the lank thatch flew.

Well, now we were acquainted. My pleasure at finding this strange brute-man was out of all proportion to its apparent importance. I suppose it was reaction to my hours-long suspicion that I had played the complete fool in coming into this country, in following the terrible Halfspoor, in ignoring the age-old forbiddance against crossing into the land of The Nameless.... Now all seemed to have come out well. Halfspoor, who had been proving more than a match for me, had been harried off, evidently on orders from this Dy-lee creature, by a pack of dogwolves. The Nameless were nowhere in evidence. Food and possibly a tree for the night were in the offing. And I had made a wonderful discovery, a brain-shaking find; for if I was right, I had chanced upon a new branch of the family of men.

Through the ruins we went, the dogwolves at our heels; and we were as delighted with one another as two boys who have been given their father's old bone hatchet to play with.

The silver dusk came up from the earth, spawned from the shadows of the many ruinous walls and ramparts; and far ahead I saw a scarlet eye wink out at us from the darkening cliff. I clutched Dy-lee's shaggy arm involuntarily, and hissed at him, as though he understood the words, "The Nameless!"

He understood, at any rate, that I was frightened; for he patted me awkwardly on the back two or three times, and said something in his language meant, by the tone, to be reassuring.

A hunter could not hang back where a brute-man like this went on. He obviously knew what the scarlet eye was, and seemed utterly without fear. And so after a time we had come near enough to it for me to see that it was no ghastly orb of a Nameless ogre, but the mouth of a cave, fairly high up the raw cliff, shining with the reflection of a fire deep within it.

Evidently Dy-lee meant to go into the cave, for soon we had struck a well-worn path and were traveling upward. I imagined that there were friends of his there, with whom he would eat before seeking his tree for the night. Overcoming my dislike of caves with a wrenching effort, I followed him up the path and stood on the threshold of the grotto, having a last look about me. From this vantage point I could see the glimmering of fires from several other great holes which had been hidden from the plain.

Then I went into the cave of Dy-lee the hairy man.

The fire, leaping merrily within a ring of stones, heated the long tunnel-like cavern for many paces on all sides; and about it, some cooking meat, some engaged in low-voiced conversation, and some making or repairing noose-traps, snares for rabbits and birds such as our children often play with, were a score or so of the long-maned people. My last doubt as to their humanity vanished at sight of the flames, for no animal can control fire. Except for their pelts, these folks might have been my own.

Some of them sprang to their feet as we entered, waving their arms and shouting. Dy-lee quieted them with a crisp word, and putting his hand on my shoulder he made a speech at which they all came crowding around, each one wanting to shake my hand up and down. It was all wonderfully friendly and heart-warming. Instinctively I loved these people, and pitied them a little, too, for that they must live so close to the terrible country of The Nameless.

At thought of those malignant beings, I remembered Laq the guardian, whose arrow (I felt sure) had goaded the bear Halfspoor into attacking me; but at once I put the bitter thought from me, and shaking the hand of one dark fellow while grinning amiably into the almost featureless face of another, I moved to the fire and was given a haunch of hare, all smoking and hot from the spits above the flames. After I had wolfed this, while the whole company stared at me and chattered among themselves. Dy-lee handed me some meat off the brisket of a doe. I wondered how they managed to catch deer, for the only traps in evidence were the small rabbit-snares, while none of them carried lances or bows or even metal knives, but had some crude flint daggers with which they made shift to cut up their meat. Then my eye fell on several of the tame poorts, or dogwolves, lounging insolently about among the hairy folk; and I recalled their pack chivvying Halfspoor over the ruins. There was the answer! Incredible though it was, these men must have trained their four-footed companions to pull down deer—even stag and bison for all I knew—for the masters' larder.

I sat down on the floor by the ring of firestones, weary with tracking and fighting and surprises. At once all of them came close to me and seated themselves too, clamoring good-humoredly for their dinner. They still peered curiously at me, but with such a friendly air that no offense could be taken. As we ate, Dy-lee pointed to various members of the group, or family, as it possibly was, and told me their names, which I did my best to master. The oldest of them, a seven-foot giant of a man with very long grizzled-silver hair falling in cascades all over his body, was called Dy-vee, or Dy-veece, I could not be sure which. He seemed to be the chief, or the grandfather, for when a bevy of young females began to giggle loudly together, he spoke to them with authority and they were hushed.

The woman whom I took to be Dy-lee's mate was a slim, high-breasted she, whose hair was sleeker and finer than his, and on whose face the shag was lighter and not of so matted a nature. It was on this shy creature that I first perceived the color of the cave folk's skin; when I was told her name (which was Zheena), she put back the long hair of her forehead with a very feminine gesture, and I saw that just around her eyes, less deepsunk than the males', there was no fur at all. The skin was white, like a winter's baby before it is tanned by the sun, and seemed smooth and firm. I resolved, when I should know Dy-lee better, to have a try at burrowing in the nap of his face to see if he too were white beneath it.

So we got through the meal somehow, between introductions and polite gestures and much high laughter at our mispronunciations and general inability to understand each other. When I had eaten all I could hold, I leaned back against a wall of this cheerful cavern, with my hands pillowing my head, and because my stomach was full and my heart light, I began to sing.

The effect was that of a lightning bolt striking among them. They stood petrified for long seconds, and then came swarming from everywhere to hear me; and I, whose voice is admittedly like that of a wounded bison bellowing to its herd, stopped my song with a grunt and stared openmouthed at the shaggy people. Dy-lee made quick eager motions to me, opening his mouth time after time, and presently it was borne in upon me that they wanted me to sing again. They wanted Bear-throat to sing!

So I sang. I caroled a love ditty, which made all the females roll their eyes and sigh; and I chanted a song of the hunt, which set all the bare hairy toes to beating on the rock floor. I sang all the songs I could recollect of my mother's repertory, the rollicking ones and the sad ones, the lullaby tunes and the haunting melodies that told our legends of the far olden times. For the space of at least two hours I sang to them, and when at last I stopped, for lack of breath and rawness of throat, and because I could not remember another song to save me, you would have thought the cave was falling in, such a noise they made. I saw then that many, many more had pressed into the place, until it was packed with scores of the hairy folk, and there was no vacant space anywhere in the grotto except for the little cleared place on which I sat. Even their great dogwolves were lying about watching me with quizzically cocked heads, and looking as though they enjoyed it.

They liked my singing! The all-but-tuneless caterwauling of Bear-throat the hunter enchanted them to immobility! I could scarcely believe it, even though they had listened to me for so long.

I pointed at Dy-lee and by gestures, asked him to sing. He shook his head and shrugged, an especially human movement; as plain as if he had said it in words, I knew that neither he nor any of the others had ever known what it was to lift the voice in song. They were a people wholly without music. No wonder my bawling had enthralled them!

Gradually, the cavern cleared; although they obviously wanted to stay and listen to me, and gaze wide-eyed on my bronze hairless skin, old grizzled Dy-veece shepherded them out into the night with gruff barks of command. When only the family, or whatever this group might be, was left, he came to me and after patting me a few times and shaking my hand up and down, handed me a sleeping fur. It was cave cat, and very like my own blankets at home. I looked to be led out to a tree then, but saw that the folk were one by one lying down near the fire, wrapped in their furs and evidently intent on sleeping in the cave. I think this astonished me as much as anything I had seen in all that strange day, for who ever heard of sleeping anywhere but on a tree platform? Nevertheless, I could scarcely wound the feelings of my hosts by going out alone and thus refusing their hospitality; so with a weak smile at Dy-lee and his mate, who were watching me anxiously, I spread the great yellow pelt on the bare rock, laid myself down on it, flipped the edges over me, and closed my eyes with the certainty that I would not get a blink of sleep all that night.

The next thing I knew was that I was very warm and drowsy, and that something was pressing cozily against me from both right and left. I opened my eyes, yawned, and found that I was flanked by a pair of the tame dogwolves, who were snoring gently into my ears. The fire was crackling under half-a-dozen spits loaded with meat, a number of the dark-haired people were moving about quietly, and the sun was beating straight in the door of the cavern with a cheerful orange light.

Dy-lee, seeing that I was awake, brought me water in half the shell of some great nut which I did not recognize; and Zheena, his mate, presented me with a choice of fruits set on a wooden slab that had been rounded and cleverly decorated with bright dyes.

After rinsing my mouth and eating an apple, I rose and stepped over a dogwolf to go to the opening and look out on a beautiful autumn day, crisp and clear as the one before had been. Then, after a few deep satisfying breaths, I returned and made a hearty breakfast of meat in company with all the cave folk.

When we had finished, Dy-lee led me down the path to the place of ruins. By the vivid sunlight I could see that the walls at the base of the cliff were somewhat less shattered than the first ones I had come upon; and also that they were definitely no accidents of nature, but constructed. I asked by gesture if his race had built these walls, and he signed to me, No.

Shortly we came to an enclosure that still bore its roof. I went and peered into this strange square place, and Dy-lee kindly handed me a long torch of bound reeds soaked in black oily matter and lighted, the purpose of his carrying which on this bright morning I had not hitherto understood. Now I realized that he meant me to see everything there was to be seen, whether open or hidden from the light; and I smiled my thanks as I took the brand. Dy-lee and his two dogwolves followed me into the place.

The roof was of stone, or perhaps of a stone, for I could detect no crack or joined place in all its surface. It was shored up by lesser stones, long and thick and ornamented with carvings that resembled the tendrils of the burrowflower. These must have been scratched into the rock with a metal tool, I think; though it certainly would have taken the whole lifetime of a man to accomplish all the carving I saw there. I had never seen or heard of anyone carving deliberate designs in anything before. The effect was lovely, albeit startling. Our glen-folk decorated many things with dyes made of vegetables and roots and minerals; but none had ever thought to adorn wood or stone with carvings. And here again I was astonished, for after the first moment or two, it seemed a natural and beautiful thing to do. It was like the shaking of the hands, something that was surprising only at the first acquaintance.

While I stared about me, Dy-lee passed into a far corner and began to clear away a great heap of trash, broken wood, old discarded sleeping furs, and other useless articles, which had been piled in a haphazard fashion there. I followed him across the floor and saw that he had cleared a space in the center of which was a square slab of stone set into the floor, with a huge ring embedded in one side of it. This ring he now grasped, and began to tug and haul at it, grunting with the strain. The block of stone moved upward, fell, moved and fell again, and it seemed it would take him an age to lift it free. So I put my hand on the ring beside his. He relinquished it to me, I think out of curiosity to see how powerful I was; and it was then I discovered that I was much the stronger, for the slab came up out of its hole smoothly and easily to my tug. Dy-lee straightened and said something in an awe-struck voice.

"That is the result of a hunter's life, friend Dy-lee," I said, grinning. "If you stalked with a bow and a hatchet, rather than a pack of dogwolves, you would be as strong as I."

Pointing down into the black well exposed by the raising of the stone, he indicated the torch in my hand. I thrust it down into the mouth of the well. There was a kind of sputtering sound from the brand, which I could not attribute to anything in particular, except perhaps that the fire was afraid to go down into that jetty darkness. Peering past it, I saw a line of the graduated stones that abounded in these ruined places, going down like a curious tilted rock ladder into the depths of the earth. Dy-lee made urgent motions to me, that I should go down. I shook my head. "Not for an extra year of life, friend," I said.

He took the torch from me and before I could stop him he had dropped into the pit. The two dogwolves brushed by me and followed him down.

Well, it ill became a hunter of the glen-folk to sit here gnawing his knuckles when even the brute beasts showed no fear of this terrible hole; so with many misgivings I took my first hesitant steps down the underground passage.

It was almost pleasant in the tunnel. I had expected chill and dampness, but the walls were dry and quite warm to the touch, rather like the rocks on the sides of Ruddy Mountain, which is the cone-shaped hill that gives off sparks and smoke, far to the north of our land. As we progressed downward, the flambeau lighting our way, I seemed to notice even more heat; there may be a great fire somewhere beneath the earth of the ruined country—who can tell?

Shortly we came to a level stretch of tunnel, and some few score paces thereafter, to a widening portion which shortly became about as broad as the inclosure with the stone roof. Here it was like an ordinary cave, except that the floor and walls and ceiling were flat, with sharp angles at the jointures. The thought was inescapable: the giants or whoever had made all the walls and inclosures above had hollowed out the earth and made this place likewise. I examined the wall in one place (it was all alike, as much as I saw of it that day). Small smooth stones of agreeably differing colors were set in rows to form the surface, and their substance was such as I had never found before, being sleek and wonderfully glossy, as lustrous as the hair of my Lora in the morning sunlight.

Dy-lee now seemed excited, and urged me to follow him swiftly through the shining grotto. The dogwolves' claws clicked along the level floor, and they constantly sniffed the air, which was musty and made our breathing rather labored. The big torch crackled and blazed brightly.

At last we turned a corner—as sharply angled as those at the base of the walls—and after one look I gave a cry of fear, of brain-breaking wonder.

How can I explain what I first thought I saw? It was ... it was as if in this gallery there were many many square holes in the walls, and each of these holes gave on a vista of vivid color and much apparent movement; as though by some inconceivable magic there were different worlds beyond each hole!

I covered my eyes with an arm and moaned with terror. My knees smote together, my teeth chattered. And when Dy-lee laid a reassuring hand on my shoulder, I leaped as though Halfspoor himself had snorted in my ear.

With murmurs meant to restore my confidence, he led me to one wall and waited patiently until I found the courage to uncover my eyes. Then he pointed to the first of the large square openings. Seeing that nothing malignant had sprung out of it yet, and that the dogwolves had casually lain down in the light dust of the floor, I gripped my nerves with the teeth of my mind and peered closely.

Again I am at a loss for words to tell of this marvel. It was not a hole or opening, it was but an enclosed place on the wall, overlaid with a sheet of something so shiny and transparent that it must have been water frozen there forever by unthinkable sorcery. Beneath this motionless water, the figure of a woman looked out at us with calm unwinking gaze. She was dressed in fantastic furs, blue and emerald and gold, wrought in patterns that surely no one had ever seen before; her face, crowned by the gaudy feathers of a bird, was like those of my own people, being without hair and gentle-looking. After a long time of staring, I reached out to touch this wonder, and the still water over it felt cool and slick to my fingertips. The woman made no move as my hand passed before her. I was thunderstruck.

Dy-lee led me to the next enclosed place, and there was a man, clad as fabulously as the woman, with a stern look of resolution on his features. He seemed a curious hybrid, for while most of his face was as smooth as mine, on his chin was a fringe of dark hair such as covered Dy-lee's folk. Him I did not try to touch, for fear he should burst out of the frozen water at me.

With the third of these strange things I began to notice something else: namely, that the people—there were two behind this water—seemed very flat and completely without true substance. It is difficult to explain. It was as though a man could be pressed flat as a leaf, and still hold his form, his color, even his life (though this was in abeyance, suspended as it were, yet waiting to break into movement at any second).

So we went down the long gallery, and I saw more multitudes of wonders than ever I can tell. There were many sorts of folk in even more awesome furs and pelts than the first; men clad entirely in what appeared to be metal, and women in garments that surely never came from the cave cat or doe or anything that walks our world today. There were scenes I could not comprehend, enclosed flat places on the wall which I could not make myself believe were flat places at all, but rather must be the holes on vistas I had first thought them. These showed tiny trees and brooks, figures of people smaller than my thumb, even portions of the sky with infinitesimal clouds hanging motionless therein. And it was after I had looked on two or three of these that the truth began to come to me, like a fiery jewel of knowledge shining murkily up through the black waters of my ignorance. For these were not real people at all, nor real vistas, nor was there anything real or magical about them at all; they were flat places on the walls, whereon some clever man had laid multihued dyes, so that when all were applied this representation of reality sprang to its mysterious, incredible, unmoving life!

I longed to ask Dy-lee if this was the true nature of the things, but could not think how to do it by signs. I therefore simply pointed at one of them and raised my brows questioningly.

"Peesha!" said he. "Peesha!"

It was, I gathered, a peesha. Whatever that might be.

He put a finger on a certain part of this peesha, and said, "Tree!"

I reeled. Literally I reeled, staggering back and dropping my jaw like a fool. "Tree?" I gasped. "Yes, yes, a tree!"

He made polite motions, asking me my word for it.

"Tree!" I shouted. I pointed to the beasts at our feet. "Dogwolves," I said, with one hand on my breast; then, aiming a finger at him and still indicating the two animals, "poort," I said. He understood that, for he nodded. I pointed to the wall. "Peesha," I cried, nodding to him, and then, "flat place with many dyes," I said in my own tongue. Finally, I waved at him and then at myself, and said, "Tree, tree. Tree, tree!"

He grasped it then. He was as amazed as I had been. We had at least one word in common. It suggested astonishing possibilities to me. Eagerly I touched the sky in the representation before us, the clouds, the earth, a small hillock; naming them and getting his names in return. Not until we came to a brook did our languages coincide again. Then I said, "Stream," and he said, as clearly as any man could, "River." "Yes, yes!" I shouted. "River, river!"

Babbling with excitement, he grasped my wrist and dragged me past several of the dye-images to a large one that was without the protecting rigid water, and which showed many men and women walking about between stone inclosures such as littered the ground above us. These inclosures, however, were not broken, but seemed whole and strangely beautiful, being decorated lavishly with carving and dyes. Some of them went up for hundreds of feet, as I could see by comparing them with the size of the people. Before this peesha he halted and proceeded to point out many things, naming them eagerly; but here we could not find anything for which we had a mutual name. Indeed, it was not remarkable, for most of the objects I had never seen until the day before, and then only in a ruined state.

And so we passed down the cavern until we came to the end, and crossed its narrow width to go back along the other side, looking at Dy-lee's uncanny "peeshas;" and at last we had seen them all, and I was too shattered for speech. Nothing like it had ever been thought of, had ever been dreamt of, had ever been seen by anyone in all my world, before today. That one could do this with dyes! Some of them had had no water—he called it glaa—over them, and these I had touched cautiously, finding their surfaces raised slightly here and there; and had come to the conclusion that the dyes had been mixed cleverly with harder substances, so that when they were put on the wall, they stiffened there and would not blur nor run together.

And nearly as wonderful as these things was the fact that there were points of contact in our languages, words which were the same in both tongues. "Hand" was and to him, or it may have been hand also, as his aspirates were breathed as lightly as his sibilants were tongued. Tree, river, and owl were the same. I grew quite wrought-up with the fascination of the game, and could scarcely wait to tell Lora all about it.

We went up the slanted stones to the surface, and after he had carefully hidden the entrance slab with the rubble again (I could not guess from what or whom), he led me across the ruins to another whole roofed inclosure. This one we entered by a hole far up in one wall, raising two logs for a kind of bridge from the ground. Into this place the dogwolves did not follow, but lay down outside to await us.

Dy-lee's torch was burning low. When we had dropped into the inclosure, he chose two more from a pile of them stacked neatly in a corner, and lit one from the first. It flared up redly, and again we raised a ringed slab and descended into another warm dry place of peeshas. By then, I may say, I had identified this with our own word "picture," which we use to describe several things, such as the images our minds form occasionally which seem to us very real, and also a distant view of a beautiful countryside, as perhaps from a hill; I felt certain that peesha was picture, and dimly I was wondering if our own race had once known this strange art of arranging dyes on walls. Certainly the similarity of the two words would indicate something of the sort.

He led me to one of the pictures—I will use this other word from now on—and held up the torch so that I could see it well. There was none of the frozen water at all in this place. The things were done in large squares on the rock wall, just as in the first underground grotto, but there was no glaa, nor was any of the slippery curious stone set around them. These walls were rougher and less shining.

The first one was very old, faded, flaked here and there so that the barren rock showed through. It portrayed a scene in just such a place as the plain above had once been, and as I had seen in a number of the other pictures. Tall inclosures rose into the air, with more lines of openings across them than I could count. Strange birds flew above them, looking stiff and featherless and glittery. If there were people on the ground, they were too small to be seen.

Gently he urged me to the next. Here was a scene among the walls, with people moving about. They looked very like my glen-folk, excepting always for the odd garments they wore, which covered all of their persons but the faces and hands. Even upon their feet they seemed to have garments.

The third picture was terrible. In its ancient much-faded colors it showed many men fighting. Not fighting bears, or cave cats, but other men. Yes, here were dead men, with blood upon their breasts, and others were locked in fierce combat. I turned from this view with a sickness pulling at my belly, and Dy-lee felt much the same, for he threw a hairy arm over my shoulders and bent his head sorrowfully even as I.

The next few pictures were all the same, men slaying one another, often with strange stick-like things, the nature of which I could not imagine. From the attitudes it was plain that when one was pointed at a man, the man died. It was some form of magic, such as an ogre might dream of.

Then we came to a picture which defied my comprehension for many minutes. It was a place of high walls and inclosures, over which flocks of the curious stiff-winged birds flew; and many of the tallest inclosures were toppling, while fire raged in among them (I knew it was fire by the marvelous crimson and scarlet of the colors, dimmed though they were), and great clouds of smoke rolled out.

There were others. I disliked them, I loathed them, but I could not keep myself from looking intently at each one. It was impressed on me that this was no legend, but a true thing that had happened in the far olden times. These were my people dying, at the hands of others of my people. I could not understand, but I could feel the truth of this thing.

Men slaying men! The legend of Sunset Fields had not lied!

On the second wall there was an enormous picture, full seven paces long and as high as the roof, and this one I could not grasp though I studied it for a long time. It was a place such as this plain—once there must have been many such, in the far olden times—from the center of which there sprouted up a great mushroom, like those in the Fearful Forest, but all creamy-white and so big as to shatter the imagination. I cannot say how huge it was. All our glens and valleys would be hidden in the shadow of such a mushroom. Though I looked at it until my eyes watered, and Dy-lee had to light his third flambeau, still I could not understand how such a thing could grow in the midst of the tall inclosures.

The next picture I could grasp, however. They were of ruins, like those below which we stood, and all among the ramparts and broken walls were the bodies of men. Some calamity had laid its dreadful hand on the place. I wondered if the giant mushroom had been to blame, wreaking this havoc as it grew.

And now the pictures were different. No more men slaying men, or tall majestic structures spearing the very sky with their tops, but only ruins and blackened plains, raw cliffs and far-flung wastes, the wreckage of great metal things I did not recognize, and among them a few, a very few human figures, prowling like jackal-rats furtively in the chaos. These pictures were all very ancient, with their dye-stuffs flaked and marred by time.

There was a view of a prairie, waving with orange grass, on which moved men who might have been my own tribe. Naked, with bows and hatchets, they stalked an animal something like a cave cat, which had a great mane of hair all down its back. I touched this picture and nodded to Dy-lee. He pointed to me. He knew that these were my kindred. And this picture too was older than the oldest man of the glen-folk, for it was much dimmed and discolored.

Down the walls I went, and now the pictures seemed to be less ancient, and in them I saw a weird change coming over the race of men, for they grew more hairy, and leaving the fields and pleasant glens (why, I wonder?) they appeared to take up their homes in the blighted places and in the caves of the raw red cliffs. Time passed, the pictures were brighter and less flaked, and mankind was furred as a beast, growing little by little to look like my friend, Dy-lee.

This series of pictures I pored over for a long time, going back and forth along the wall, judging the age of each in relation to the others; and I could not apprehend why, but it was true—these men were the same race, but growing shaggier in every succeeding picture. How long was the time gap between the pictures? A generation, a hundred years, a thousand? I could not tell. I went back across the floor to look at the earliest pictures, those in which men fought together. They exuded the aura of an incredible antiquity. And what of those in the other cavern? Their dyes were more brilliant, newer looking; yet the people were dressed in the queer garments that I saw in the oldest portrayals here. Did it mean that there were folk existing even now like them—folk impossible to believe in!—or simply that the dyes in their pictures were better and lasted longer than these? There were many things here that I could not understand, and I felt small and stupid and as young as the youngest pink rabbit with still-blind eyes.

Dy-lee made a speech then, indicating that I should look at the final pictures; so I left my speculation and came to him and gazed.

Here, immediately after the series in which mankind grew hairy, was a large square with dyes that were still vivid and clear, though it still seemed quite an ancient picture. It portrayed a number of Dy-lee's folk crouching amid the ruins, perhaps of this very plain above our heads. Their attitudes showed perfectly that they were afraid, for they drew back, with arms about their females and young ones. Then, in a cleared space, there stood a man of my own race, smooth-skinned and wearing the raiment of a guardian, the long fringed black fox pelts hanging from his waist and the short mantle of white hares' skins about his shoulders. He faced away from the cave folk, with his arms lifted in just such a mystical gesture as I had often seen the guardians making; and beyond him, from the edge of an especially well-limned forest, there arose a being whose every line suggested evil—evil beyond the power of words. There was no definite outline to the thing. It appeared to change slightly even while I stared at it, as though the dyes had been mixed with smoke or mist. It seemed to have horns, and then when I looked again, the horns had vanished. There were great columns of legs, and arms that hung loosely before its chest with an indescribable air of menace. Perhaps there were two sets of arms. I could not tell. It is strange to speak of a picture this way, for after all it was but dyes of many shades laid upon rock; but all I could recall definitely about the evil being, when I had turned away, was that its color was that of a dead fish's belly, and that from its amorphous head there blazed out two terrible eyes of purest lambent flame.

The import of this whole picture was inescapable. Here were the shaggy folk, here was a guardian of my own people, and here was a representation of one of ...

The Nameless!

For long minutes I stared at my new friend Dy-lee, while the thoughts churned in my brain. At last I shook myself, as a bear does on coming out of a cold stream, and I began to try him with questions, partly in gestures and partly in words which I hoped he might understand. First I pointed to the shaggy folk. Yes, they were his people, he signed. Then I indicated the guardian. He pointed at me. I shook my head. Indicating my rough loincloth of cave cat fur, I showed him the rich black and white apparel of the little figure, and then touched my bow and quiver, my hatchet, my knife. No guardian carries a weapon of any sort, as the beasts will never molest one of their craft. Dy-lee seemed to know this, for he nodded vigorously, but then showed me where we were similar—the brown furless face and body. I said, Yes, that this man was of my people, but differing from me in profession. He understood this. I asked him, after several tries, whether he had often seen such men as this; and he signed to me, Yes, that there was a place of meeting on the plain. I then asked if he had thought I was a guardian when he first found me the afternoon before, and he answered, No, pointing to my bow and hatchet.

These folk having no weapons, I was at a loss to know how he had recognized what mine were for; because the instant I had thrown up my bow he had seen I meant to shoot, first him and then his tame dogwolves. But after a moment's thought I remembered that in two or three of the old pictures there were depictions of the bow and arrow. I went back down the wall and found them. Evidently these people had once known the use of such things, for here they were, rather hairy but not yet covered with the thick shag, stalking a deer with bows. Somewhere in their evolving they had either lost the art or found a better. Here, in a later picture, they were hunting a great knifetooth bear. Ah, that was it; they had domesticated the dogwolves, and given up the bow. I imagined that it might have come in handy to protect themselves, for surely they could not always travel amongst a howling pack of their canine friends; but obviously they had discarded it entirely.

I returned to the startling picture of the guardian, and pointing to the horrid figure of The Nameless, I bent my head in pantomime and gave an exaggerated shudder.

Dy-lee repeated my motions exactly, and pointed away to where I imagined they dwelt. He said something, apparently his name for the beings. I said, "The Nameless." Again he shivered—it was a real reaction this time—and pointed east.

East? But that was the direction in which lay the Fearful Forest, the three brooks, Sunset Fields, and my own glen. I had not realized this at his first motion, being somewhat confused by the underground cavern. I shook my head, pointing west. There dwelt The Nameless.

He would have none of that. No, they lived to the east. I pointed west, he pointed stubbornly east.

But I came from the east! If there were such beings in that direction, would I not know it? I tried to tell him this, showing that I came from there; very well, said he in signs, so did the guardians, and I was obviously a relative, a son perhaps, or at least a member of the tribe of the guardians. Yes, I agreed, but....

I gave it up. Could I still be confused by this roof that shut out the sun? Hastily I looked at the last of the pictures, which were scenes of hunting and domesticity, with one more guardian at the end, though not with one of The Nameless; then I signed to him that we should leave the place. He scrambled up to the opening and I followed, the daylight from the high entrance hole of the inclosure above striking my eyes sharply after the torch's flickering gleam. The dogwolves roused themselves and nosed our hands as we came out among the broken stones.

"There!" I said, showing him the west; and, "There!" said he, in his own language, thrusting a dark furry finger eastward. Could we be talking of different things? No, there had been the guardian and the changing figure of horror.

The guardian?

What had a guardian been doing here? And the one picture had been old, but the other fairly recent, or I knew nothing of the manner in which dyes fade with age!

These hairy folk had seen guardians, not once in the dim past, but evidently often, and recently; had not my friend signed to me that there was a place of meeting, out on the blackened plain? No wonder that Dy-lee and his folk, while charmed with my singing and interested in me, had shown no overwhelming wonder. So the guardians knew, had perhaps always known, that here in the ruins and the raw red cliffs there lived another race of men!

I sat down on a flat rock and puzzled the matter over, beginning with what I conceived the early history of these people—of both our peoples—to have been. A terrible killing among men, with many strange weapons that spread slaughter wholesale, resulting in a leveling of their huge structures and a splitting of the race into two parts, one remaining in places like this, the other going into the distant glens and plains. The folk of the ruins gradually becoming hairy—could it be because nature saw they needed protection for their tender flesh, living as they did in caves? The thought made me open my eyes with my own cleverness! Then the discarding of weapons and the taming of the dogwolves. I wondered if they had thrown away all weapons, or whether they had some secret slaying tool for their defense? Or a magic ointment to rub on their bodies? Or what?

To this point it all seemed clear, and while it was a thing to churn the imagination, still it was a plain and possible happening, not destroying any concepts or deepsunk training of my youth; because no man of my folk knew whence we had come, or anything of our history save that it had always been, so far as our elders knew, the same as it is now: easy and pleasant, with no enemies save the beasts of prey, and a mate for every man and woman.

But then came the problem of the guardians. These folk knew them too. They passed between us, it was clear, living with us of the glens but visiting these of the caverns. I tried Dy-lee with a question: did he know there were many, many more like me, living beyond the Fearful Forest? I made a mark in the gritty dirt with my knife point, showed him that it stood for myself, then made a great number of similar marks beside it and pointed east. He understood. He could scarcely believe at first, but after a period of astonished grunts and reassurances, he believed. There were many like me, over yonder to the east.

Then something took him with eagerness, so that he nearly burst with what he could not tell me; and at last he ran furiously away to his cave, leaving me to sit with eyes popping till he returned with a bag made of hide. From this he took a number of little bones, hollowed and corked with plugs of wood, and some sticks tipped with carefully-trimmed stiff feathers. Sensing that I would be curious, he handed me one of the bones. I pried out the plug and saw that the hollow was full of a green-blue dye, mixed, as I had suspected, with something to make it stiff and thick. As I sniffed at it and touched my fingertip to it gingerly, he set to work on the flat stone beside me, dipping his feathered stick into first this bone and then that one, making marks upon the cold rock. I watched the dyes spread and grow into the shape of a man.

Dy-lee, my friend, was a maker of pictures!

I embraced him. I was overcome with his genius. That this animal-looking fellow could himself make the wondrous peeshas!

Impatiently he motioned to me to be seated while he worked. I sat down and, hoping to repay him for the pleasure I took in his craft, I began to sing. He nodded vigorously and chuckled. We were enchanted with each other's accomplishments.

Watching him, I saw the roughly outlined form of a man grow into a tiny likeness of myself, with hunter's loincloth and bow. He prodded me with the stick, quite unnecessarily. I could see that it was Ahmusk there on the flat stone.

Then hastily he made pictures of two others, one of which seemed to be his conception of a female of my race. Hesitantly then, he pointed east.

I told him, Yes, and flickered my fingers to show that there were many of us there. His thatch-shaded eyes blinked with amazement.

The next picture was that of a guardian, with black and white furs and stern mien. I said the name aloud, and he said something like "rees," which I took to be "guardian" in his tongue.

With this series of pictures to aid us, we could make our queries clear to one another. I asked how many of these guardians he had seen or knew; and he answered, Fifteen or twenty. There being twenty-four guardians living in our glen, I knew that all of them, or nearly all, must at one time or another come here to commune with the hairy folk.

I asked whether they ever lived with his people, and he said, No, that they lived beyond the woods somewhere, he thought perhaps in the sky. I managed to make him understand that they lived among my people, and he seemed surprised that they had never told his folk of us.

Then he made a curious little vague shape beyond his row of pictures, which I could not fathom until he had dyed in two glowing fiery eyes; when I knew that this was meant for one of The Nameless. I asked if he had seen such an ogre, and he signed, No, that no man ever had except the guardians; and that to see them was death.

Then as well as I could I showed him that we knew of these things too, calling them The Nameless. His word for them I could not dominate, though he said it several times.

I wondered how he knew what they looked like, having never seen one; but remembered the picture in the second underground inclosure. Then I thought of the shadowy outlines of that thing, and it occurred to me that this was possibly but a common symbol for the beings, as no man knew their exact form. It was such a picture as a man might make, who knew only that The Nameless were terrible, evil, beyond all thought malignant.

I then asked him whether the guardians protected his people from The Nameless, and he said that they did. I told him by signs that this was their function among us. He did not seem surprised, but again signaled that they had never spoken of me and my tribe, and over this omission he shook his head till the lank hair nearly stood on end.

I told him that we, too, had not known of them. He sat with his chin in his palm, biting his lips over this.

I stared at the lightly-dyed portrayal of The Nameless. I pointed to it and to the west.

He laid a hand on my shoulder, as one might to a child when it is making up a wild tale, and pointed eastward.

We sat looking at each other and making these silly gestures back and forth, until in one fearful flash of knowledge it came to me what the truth was.

The taste of this knowledge was at once bitter and sweet to me: sweet, because it blotted out in an instant the only great fear of all my race; bitter, because it showed me that for many generations both this man's people and my own had been hoodwinked, shamed and overlorded by the members of a single useless profession. For it had come to me that now I knew who The Nameless truly were.

Dy-lee was one of The Nameless, and so was Zheena his mate, and great grizzled Dy-veece, and every member of that merry clan with whom I had eaten and slept the night before....

Dy-lee was one of The Nameless, and so was—Ahmusk the hunter.

It must have taken me an hour to tell my friend this terrible, wonderful truth which I had discovered. But finally he realized it, and at first his wrath was dreadful to behold, and then he saw the happiness in it and he danced for joy among his dogwolves.

The simple fact was that for no-one-knew-how-long, the guild of guardians had kept our two races apart and in horror of the things they called The Nameless, for reasons I could not then even begin to guess; had kept us apart by tales of monsters which existed only in their own minds. For the first time in my life I knew pure black hatred of fellow humans. Had I had the guardians there at that moment, I would have slain them all.

Yes, Dy-lee's people were The Nameless; and my glen-folk were The Nameless to him, under whatever exotic name he called us. Nothing could be plainer, for why else would he think The Nameless lived to the east, while I had been taught they lived in the west?

Now in my rage it came to me why Laq had shot at me in the Fearful Forest, and later had pinked Halfspoor with an arrow to make the bear attack me. He did not dare allow me to make friends here with the hairy folk. It would topple him and his entire crew of liars and rascals. He might have halted me yesterday afternoon with a word, but there was Lora, whom he coveted. He had had a bow, a thing no guardian ever owned—he must long ago have stolen it and some arrows, to practice until he thought himself skilled enough to slay me. It did not seem incredible now that he would plan to kill me for her. Nothing seemed strange in the light of my new discovery. The world was topsy-turvy, and surely all things must be possible to one of his loathsome breed.

After we had stamped about for a while, talking furiously and incomprehensibly to each other and shaking hands with fervor and startling the dogwolves into howling many times, we went up to Dy-lee's cave, where he called in all those of his folk who were nearby, and laying his hand on my chest, he solemnly told them that I was one of those creatures whom they had all feared for so many years. The turmoil was frightful. Then, before they could flee, he shouted to them what he had discovered. Of course it took much less time than it had when I explained it to him, for he shared his language with them and needed no elaborate signals. You never heard such a roar as went up when he had finished.

It was decided, to be brief, that Dy-lee should accompany me back through the Fearful Forest to the glens, and there we two would confront the guardians and fling their lifetime of lies into their teeth. I gathered also that he would protect me on the journey from wild beasts, though how without weapons he could do this, I did not see. At any rate, he bade farewell to Zheena and I shook hands all round and we started out across the ruins, with Dy-lee's two poorts, the tame dogwolves, running before us with their scarlet tongues lolling out and their noses in the air.

As we went toward the Fearful Forest, I struck up a song; and to its rhythm we marched bravely and in high genial comradeship.

The oppressive woodland closing in upon us, at about the first hour after the zenith of the sun, my song died away on my lips; and we began to converse together, partly in signs and partly in words. Besides those our languages shared, we had learned a number of one another's common words, and now questions and answers were more readily understood.

I asked him if the guardians had ever seen the pictures which he had shown me. He said that he was not sure, but that he believed not, at any rate not in his lifetime. They never seemed interested in anything except being fed and catered to, and did not spend their nights in the caves as I had done, nor had they ever sung to the hairy folk. I gathered that Dy-lee had shown me the pictures out of gratitude for the delight he had taken in my songs. It was the first time I had ever gotten anything for my voice except a kick in the rump. I was exceedingly pleased.

Then he put to me a number of questions about my people, and as well as I could I answered them. We discovered another mutual word, which was "thorn," when I pried one from his foot with my knife.

Then I thought of weapons, and showing him my metal blade, I asked if he had not seen such things before. He examined it—I think he had wanted to for hours, but was too polite to ask for it—and said that such a knife was unheard of. I had already noticed the flint daggers his people used, which were flaked to make a cutting edge of a sort, but were really sharp only at the tip. My bow and arrows and my hatchet he had seen in his ancient pictures, but mine were the first he had ever handled. His hands were clumsy on them, and I should have hated to let him loose a shaft anywhere in my vicinity.

By signs and a few phrases I told him how we heat and mold the metal for our few needs, and he was intrigued but a little skeptical. Did he never hear of heating metal to make anything? No, he said, never.

But surely he knew of metal? Yes, he said, there were metal instruments in use among his folk, but these had always been in existence, and no man living knew the trick of making them. Then he brought out from some hidden pouch or repository under the long hair on his side a thing like a bright bronze bone, a small tube of metal with a hole at each end, curiously shaped and carved with tiny marks that made no sense, for they did not seem to be pictures or designs of anything at all. With this, he told me, as I examined it, he would protect me if animals should attack us; but when I asked him, How, he only smiled and laughed to himself. I presumed he meant to surprise me, and did not press him for details; which must have made him feel rather disappointed, for he put away the tube with a snort.

And these, I asked then, were the only weapons his folk had? Yes, he said, they needed no others. But if he should lose his? There were others, many others, hidden in the caves. But in time, I said, surely all of the mysterious instruments would be gone, some lost, others destroyed by accident; and then what would his people do? For they could not make others, that was obvious.

Well, I could not make him understand this query. He did not seem to be able to visualize the distant future in the slightest degree. There had always been the tubes, and so far as he knew, there always would be the tubes.

I gave it up, and privately decided that I would make him and Dy-veece, and some of the other males, learn the rudiments of archery, whether they liked it or not.

We tramped on, and the Fearful Forest depressed us with its grim dark trees and lack of sunlight, until at last we spoke no more to each other, but traveled as silently as the two great dogwolves. And so it was that we came upon Halfspoor where he sat in a glade feeding on the body of a jackal-rat, and did not warn him of our coming until we stood face to face with him across some twenty paces of the rotting carpet of vegetation.

Halfspoor gazed at us, and we, paralyzed, gazed upon Halfspoor; and he gave a grunt and a bellow, and leaping to his hind feet he came charging down at us.

I sent one arrow into his chest before I turned to dash back down the trail. I had it in mind to get amongst the trees before I fought, for here there was nowhere to dodge, and dodging was my only defense against the giant brute. Dy-lee was fumbling at his side, and the dogwolves were leaping toward the knifetooth bear. I shouted to Dy-lee to seek cover, though I knew he would not understand the words. I saw a man in pelts of black and white moving furtively from the path some hundred feet behind us, and I knew that a guardian had been following us eastward. Then something took me across the shoulder blades with a slap like a tree falling, and I was hurled six times my own length into a patch of stabbing briers.

Even as I hit I was scrambling sideways, intent on reaching the other side of the nearest tree; a hundred thorns were ripping my flesh, and my back felt as though it were half broken. My ears were throbbing, I supposed from the jolt of Halfspoor's blow. I tore myself out of the briers, leaped with a pounce like a cave cat's across an open space and took up a position of belligerent waiting behind a lichen-wrapped trunk.

Halfspoor, had he followed me up at once, could have slashed me apart before ever I got out of the clutch of the thorn bushes. He had stopped, however, on the spot where he had slapped me, and was hovering over Dy-lee making angry swipes at him. I thought for a moment that Dy-lee was dead or unconscious, for he was huddled down in a dark mass at the bear's feet. The dogwolves were harrying Halfspoor, one snapping at his legs, the other leaping to get at his throat. I made a grab over my shoulder and discovered that the quiver was empty. My arrows had been scattered on the ground when I flew into the briers.

As the bear was not even looking my way, I ran into the open to get a shaft or two. I would have attacked him with my hatchet, but since the vital spots of his skull and neck were a good twelve feet off the ground, it would have been a futile and stupid gesture.

An arrow discovered, I drew back the cord and sank another shaft in the bear's massive chest. Even as I shot I realized that something was singular indeed. Although Halfspoor towered over Dy-lee, who crouched unprotected on the earth, and though the bruin was cuffing in his direction, yet the blows were missing Dy-lee by several feet at the least. All that the bear need do was take one step forward on those gigantic pads and bend his back a trifle ... and there would be no more Dy-lee. But that step and that bend he did not seem able to accomplish! Like a fox caught in a trap, he swayed and screamed his fury, but did not touch my friend Dy-lee.

It would take more than one arrow to slay the huge Knifetooth. Could he do the impossible?

When my arrow struck, he turned toward me and gave a bawl of horrible anger. Even as I snatched up the only other arrow I could see and darted for my tree, I caught a glimpse of Dy-lee jumping to his feet, evidently unhurt. The dogwolves hampered Halfspoor, and I made the tree a second before the old devil reached it.

He came round it after me, and I dodged about to keep it between us, taunting him loudly. This was a game at which I was past master. I could dive and scuttle all afternoon, if need be.

Then with horror I saw that Dy-lee was coming toward us. I bawled at him to go back—he would not know the words, but surely my frantic motions could not be misunderstood—and then in desperation stood my ground and shot my bolt at Halfspoor at a range of about five feet. It was the third one to flesh itself in the barrel of his chest, but I doubted that any of the three would prove mortal. Ribs and iron-hard muscles would stop them from penetrating too deeply.

Dropping like a stone, I then bounded straight between his charging legs; was struck glancingly by one hind paw and whirled over and over in the rotten humus. My hatchet found its way by old instinct into my hand as I rolled. Then I leaped to my toes and—collided with Dy-lee!

Memory of that instant is muddled. I know that I almost struck my friend down before I realized who he was. I saw Halfspoor in a kind of bloody haze, seeming to fill the world above us. Then Dy-lee put a hand to his mouth and the great bear fell back a pace, snarling and swatting the air. My head rang and I realized that there was blood in my eyes. I wiped them clear and lifted the hatchet as I backed away. The hairy man gripped my wrist and would not let me leave his side. I thought that he had gone mad, and tugged at him frantically. But he stood rock-firm, with one hand holding me steady and the other at his mouth.

All this took but a second or two, and then I ceased to struggle and only stared at our terrible ursine foe. Halfspoor stood just out of reach, and his actions were brainless, idiotic. He would slash at us viciously, missing us by a foot or so; slap at the side of his head with blows that would have split open a less solid skull; then back up a little, moan, bellow, gnash his tusks, make as if to charge at us—and beat his head again!

I glanced at Dy-lee, who seemed calm and detached. The glint of the bronze tube caught my eye. It was in his mouth and he was blowing into it. I thought of the wooden whistles we make for our children; but there came no noise out of this instrument. My head was, indeed, ringing and pounding from the fight; yet I knew I was not deaf, for Halfspoor was raising the dead with his uproar and I could hear that very well.

It was hardly the time for investigation of mysteries, however. Impatiently I pulled at Dy-lee's arm. The bear would charge. Dy-lee grinned (at least the hair on his cheeks moved as though he had grinned), and throwing back his shoulders and inflating his lungs, appeared to blow a tremendous gust of wind through the metal tube. The dogwolves, who had been snapping at Halfspoor's toes, writhed on their bellies and screeched piteously together, as if they had been disemboweled. Magic! The poor brutes seemed in their last agony.

The knifetooth bear gave one frightful, indignant, stentorian yell, which echoed weirdly from every tree around the glade. He administered a final pummeling to the sides of his tormented head. And he turned and made off into the forest as if all the cave cats in the world were nipping at his tail!

At the same time my eardrums were assailed by the most piercing feel of noise that they had ever experienced. And yet there was no sound from the tube in Dy-lee's mouth.

Now he removed it, stowed it in his secret pouch, laughed quietly to himself, and walking across the mold, bent down and began to gentle the groveling dogwolves. Slowly they responded, sitting up, nuzzling his hands, and whining as if ashamed of their recent performance.

Listening with one ear while rubbing the other, I heard old Halfspoor smashing his way through the woodland, complaining bitterly to himself in a loud voice. I could not blame him. If the stalwart dogwolves were reduced to impotence by the sorcery of Dy-lee's tube, even bruin must be pardoned for running from it.

And then I heard a cry of pain and terror, a human sound that rose and wailed and died to a hideous moaning; and without hesitation I ran off on the bear's trail. He had found someone else in his mad career, and that one had not escaped by magic!

It was easy to see where he had passed. Thickets were crushed, even small trees shattered off, and the bark of the giants shredded by angry clawings. Perhaps I went two hundred yards. Then I found the man, where Halfspoor had found him and snatched him up and flung him aside, broken and dying, into a heap of touchwood.

It was the guardian Laq, and he was dying if ever I saw a man die, with a broken back and a leg that bent sideways in a way no leg was ever meant to bend. I knelt beside him and he opened his eyes and recognized me, and he spat feebly, for there was still hate in the man. I could do nothing for him, could not even straighten his limbs or ease his head, for motion would have slain him.

"Lie easy, Laq," I said. "You must rest a while, and then I will help you home."

"When I have rested, I will slay you, Ahmusk the hunter," said he with a curse. His hand moved feebly, and I saw he wished to pull the bow closer, the bow that he had stolen and practiced with until he thought he was skilled enough to murder me. I put it into his fingers, noticing without much surprise that it was one which I had made and believed I had lost somewhere. I gave him one of the arrows from his quiver, too, and that was a mistake, for he stared sharply at me with his filming dark eyes. "You think I am crippled," he said huskily, "but I will show you when I have rested, Ahmusk. Lora will never come to your platform and your mating furs."

I said nothing, for one cannot grow angry with a dying man, and there was no kind word that my tongue could lay hold on; and so presently he began to talk in a quiet, sane voice.

"Of course I cannot let you live. You braved the land of the shaggy people, and made friends with them; and you have a knowledge which must never be given to our tribes. Men must have something to fear. It keeps them decent."

I do not know, even yet, whether he believed what he said; and I have often pondered on it. Perhaps he had made himself believe it, for the peace of his soul.

"The legend of The Nameless goes on," he said, the bright froth dripping from his lips. "Ahmusk dies.... My father was a guardian. He preached to me that some dreadful calamity would occur if we allowed the two races to come together. All the guardians were taught that. It was dinned into them from their birth. Only the intelligent ones saw what that calamity would be. Our craft would lose its privilege, its honor, its reason for being."

It was the same thought I had held. The guardians fattened on adulation, and if that was taken from them, there would be nothing left, for they were so accustomed to it that they could not conceive becoming as other men.

"It does no harm to tell you these things, Ahmusk, for you will shortly die. Yes ... you understand, I saw very early that the basic ideas of my craft were wrong, all wrong. There was no harm in letting you know of the shaggy people, for they are as innocent and affectionate as you; the harm lay in the breaking-up of our guild, and the...." He was silent for so long that I thought he had lapsed into insensibility, but after a while he repeated what he had said about mankind needing something to fear. He used the same words, as though it were an excuse he had learnt by rote long ago.

"That is an untruth," I said. "Fear is evil, fear of anything is all wrong. It is wickedness, Laq."

He looked up at me, and I think the naked truth came to his lips then, and would not be denied; for he said, with a horrid gasp, "Ah, but the reverence given us, Bear-throat! This is not lightly to be lost. Think of it! In all the world we alone are above mankind. A hunter is the same as a singer, the night watcher gains no more thanks, no more prerogatives than the weaver of garlands. Only the guardian walks clothed in honor and mystic glory! Do you think I can let you smash us to the level of common clay, after so many generations of being exalted?"

He stopped again, and I thought of the first of his breed, those early guardians who must have arisen after the terrible slaughters, when all was hatred and terror and confusion. Did they then invent the legend of The Nameless, to capitalize on the mutual fear of the two peoples? Did they, perhaps, force the hairy folk into the wastes and caves, looking ahead to a reign of vicious knowledge over ignorance? And were all their descendants as cynical and utterly selfish as this Laq?

"What of your brothers?" I asked him. "Do they know that no true harm would come if the people knew the truth of The Nameless?"

He laughed, horribly. "My fellow guardians are in the main sublimely unaware of their futility," he said. "The dogmatic teachings of bigoted fathers have made unthinking sons.... You understand, Ahmusk, that I will slay you when I have rested."

"Yes, Laq," I said, as he lay dying.

"Ah, but how I would love to see their bubble of self-importance pricked!" he muttered. Evidently he felt no kinship with them, but sneered at them and us alike. "How they would flounder if the facts were forced upon them!"

I heard Dy-lee come up behind us, and the dogwolves snuffled at my shoulders. Laq raised himself with a superhuman effort and cried, "The bear! The knifetooth bear! Ahmusk, the bear comes! My whistle ... my whistle! I cannot find my whistle ..." and so died, his fingers clutching weakly at the broken bow that he had stolen so long ago, when he first plotted to kill me for the sake of Lora.

I took the arrows from his quiver, and covered Laq with branches and dead leaves, for I had no strength to bury him. Returning to the glade, we managed to find the three arrows I had lost in the fight; then we turned our faces eastward once more.

We crossed the Crimson Brook and the Blue, and then at last we began to talk with our signs and our halting phrases.

"What is the tube?" I asked Dy-lee. "How did it drive off Halfspoor?"

As well as he could, he showed me. It was a whistle, of a sort, and though we men could not hear its note, he explained that the animals could. A low sound, made by barely breathing into it, brought the dogwolves barking happily to our sides; but a stronger puff caused them to howl dolefully. I had seen what a really powerful blast on it could do to even a knifetooth bear.

"And the guardians have these whistles?" I asked him, and he answered, Yes, they did, though Laq must have lost his. That was why they needed no weapons when they strode the Fearful Forest. A man would not have to slay a carnivore when he could chase it away in fright, with its ears splitting.

And yet, all I sensed when Dy-lee blew the thing was a tingling of the eardrums. Strange and new! That an animal could hear a sound which a man could not!

But still I thought a bow and a few good arrows were not to be sneered at, and resolved again to teach my friends their use, in preparation for the time, even though it be hundreds of years hence, when all the whistles shall be lost.

I pictured Halfspoor in my mind, and how he had stood off from Dy-lee and swung blows at the air when the whistle blew. I saw him run again, cuffing his own ears to beat away the tearing, bone-rending sound of the to-me-silent tube. What a host of miracles I had to tell to Lora!

We crossed the Gray Brook and came to Sunset Fields, and the sun was less than an hour from its setting in the west. There was a figure running toward us, now in the waning sunlight, now in the dappling shade of the tree ferns. I cried out joyfully, for it was my Lora.

She neared us, and seeing Dy-lee and the dogwolves, cried out with horror. "Ahmusk! Fly, or they will slay you!"

"Come here, little fearful one," I said, "and I will open your mind to a thousand new things!"

She stood there, regarding me, and the fear went out of her eyes, to be replaced by a vast relief. "Then this creature will not harm you?"

"Nor you either. This is my friend Dy-lee," I told her, and taking her hand, put it into his. He shook it, and she smiled uncertainly. "Ahmusk—the dogwolves?"

I patted the biggest on the head. Oh, but that was my hour! "I have made them gentle as fawns," I said, stretching the facts somewhat.

Then she knew that all was well, and she leaped into my arms and kissed me until I thought she would never be done; and yet truly I was sorry when she stopped. "What has happened, Bear-throat? Where have you been for two days, and who is this, and how does it come that the dogwolves do not bite, and why are you all blood-smeared, and—"

"Lora, Lora," I said, "I have a thousand things to tell you, but we can never begin on them if you must chatter endlessly—"

"And Halfspoor, did you find his track, and where will he spend the night, and—"

"Lora!" I shouted, enfolding her in a fierce embrace. "Listen to me, and I shall tell you! Great Halfspoor ranges the Fearful Forest, where I will meet him again one day. This is Dy-lee—"

"And what is Dy-lee?" she asked, her voice rather muffled against my chest.

I gave up. "I will tell you one thing," I said, "and then I will let you babble until you run out of queries. I am like a man who has feared lightning all his life, and has now been struck; and I not only survive, but have found it a pleasant experience—"

"Where were you hit by lightning? Where did you get all the thorn scratches?" she asked.

Dy-lee put his hand on my shoulder and said, pointing to Lora, "Zheena! Zheena!"

By which I think he meant to say that females are all alike, and so, patting my girl on her shining head, I grinned across at him and replied, "How right you are, Dy-lee, how very right you are!"

"What did he say?" asked Lora.

"He said that there is nothing in all the fine green world like a woman."

"Well!" said she, "you've learnt a little wisdom in your traveling, I must say!"

"A little," said I, "a little."

And so we journeyed homeward to the glen and our people, we three good new companions, and the dogwolves went before us and gamboled with pleasure in the soft grass of the fields.

That night Dy-lee and I sat together on my platform, in the tawny-cream light of a full autumn moon. Much had been told that evening, at a council of all our glen-folk; much had been speculated, much had been argued over. Some men had been shocked, some elated, some hurt—those last were the guardians, most of whom could not believe my tale until I showed them Dy-lee and repeated what Laq had said as he lay dying. My shaggy comrade had dyed a picture for the folk on a big rock, and astonished them all beyond measure. Our finest singers had performed for him, and now he knew that Bear-throat was not such a marvelous being after all.

Lora and I had announced our mating time. I had three days in which to find a cave cat and make our rug. Yes, a cave cat; I had decided to give Halfspoor a rest for a while....

After the initial surprise of Dy-lee's appearance, our people had all become very much interested in him. He was laden with gifts to take home to the caves: bone tools and hatchets, metal knives, fine arrows and bows, skins of white deer and sleek owl feathers, everything they could think of which he might like.

So now we sat together on the platform of my tree, our legs covered with rugs against the chill of the night, and our eyelids drooping with fatigue. Yet must I chatter a while longer, being reluctant to see this glorious day end.

"Dy-lee," I said, "many wanings of the moon will pass before we see an end to the changes that are going to happen among our folk, yours and mine. We will all be one folk soon." He nodded and smiled, just as though he could understand me. "We have been kept a simple people, naive and guileless; and that may be good. I think it is, and I think we will not change our simplicity. We will only see things more plainly. And there will be less fear."

"Ahmusk," said Dy-lee. "Friend Ahmusk!"

I gripped his hand in the gesture I found so satisfying. "And with time, Dy-lee, we will find the answers to all sorts of questions, questions that intrigue me so that I can scarcely wait till morning to begin searching for the answers! Those whistles of yours, for instance—who made them, and how, and is the secret of them truly that their noise pierces the ears and maddens an animal with fear, or what?

"And your pictures, Dy-lee, and our music: we will trade these to each other and spend a thousand thousand contented hours with them!"

He yawned, and lying down, pulled the furs up to his chin. Still would I talk a few moments longer.

"And some day, Dy-lee, we will know what caused your folk to grow all shaggy, while we remained smooth-skinned. Maybe we will find out how the men of the far olden times moved their great stones, and why they made the tall inclosures.

"First of all, of course, we must learn to speak to one another. I shall learn your language, and you shall learn mine...."

"But," put in a grumbling voice from the next tree, "if you do not close your mouth and go to sleep, Bear-throat, I fear you will not live to see tomorrow's sun, and so will miss all the fun. Go to sleep!"

I chuckled. It was Lora's father. "Good-night, then," I said. "I shall wake you early in the morning."

"I'm sure you will. Good-night!"

I rolled over beside Dy-lee and composed myself in my furs for the night. At once a vast comfortable weariness came over me.

"Perhaps," I murmured, "perhaps we shall even discover some day why it is that the bones of Sunset Fields do not decay!"

Dy-lee answered me with a soft grunt and then a snore. I laughed to myself with happiness, and fell asleep in the light of the full tawny moon.