This story is of a time beyond the memory of man, before the
beginning of history, a time when one might have walked dryshod
from France (as we call it now) to England, and when a
broad and sluggish Thames flowed through its marshes to meet
its father Rhine, flowing through a wide and level country that
is under water in these latter days, and which we know by the
name of the North Sea. In that remote age the valley which
runs along the foot of the Downs did not exist, and the south of
Surrey was a range of hills, fir-clad on the middle slopes, and
snow-capped for the better part of the year. The cores of its
summits still remain as Leith Hill, and Pitch Hill, and Hindhead.
On the lower slopes of the range, below the grassy
spaces where the wild horses grazed, were forests of yew and
sweet-chestnut and elm, and the thickets and dark places hid
the grizzly bear and the hyæna, and the grey apes clambered
through the branches. And still lower amidst the woodland and
marsh and open grass along the Wey did this little drama play
itself out to the end that I have to tell. Fifty thousand years ago
it was, fifty thousand years—if the reckoning of geologists is
And in those days the spring-time was as joyful as it is now,
and sent the blood coursing in just the same fashion. The afternoon
sky was blue with piled white clouds sailing through it,
and the southwest wind came like a soft caress. The new-come
swallows drove to and fro. The reaches of the river were
spangled with white ranunculus, the marshy places were
starred with lady's-smock and lit with marsh-mallow wherever
the regiments of the sedges lowered their swords, and the
northward-moving hippopotami, shiny black monsters, sporting
clumsily, came floundering and blundering through it all,
rejoicing dimly and possessed with one clear idea, to splash the
Up the river and well in sight of the hippopotami, a number
of little buff-coloured animals dabbled in the water. There was
no fear, no rivalry, and no enmity between them and the hippopotami.
As the great bulks came crashing through the reeds
and smashed themirror of the water into silvery splashes, these
little creatures shouted and gesticulated with glee. It was the
surest sign of high spring. "Boloo!" they cried. "Baayah. Boloo!"
They were the children of the men folk, the smoke of
whose encampment rose from the knoll at the river's bend.
Wild-eyed youngsters they were, with matted hair and little
broad-nosed impish faces, covered (as some children are
covered even nowadays) with a delicate down of hair. They
were narrow in the loins and long in the arms. And their ears
had no lobes, and had little pointed tips, a thing that still, in
rare instances, survives. Stark-naked vivid little gipsies, as active
as monkeys and as full of chatter, though a little wanting in
Their elders were hidden from the wallowing hippopotami by
the crest of the knoll. The human squatting-place was a
trampled area among the dead brown fronds of Royal Fern,
through which the crosiers of this year's growth were unrolling
to the light and warmth. The fire was a smouldering heap of
char, light grey and black, replenished by the old women from
time to time with brown leaves. Most of the men were
asleep—they slept sitting with their foreheads on their knees.
They had killed that morning a good quarry, enough for all, a
deer that had been wounded by hunting dogs; so that there
had been no quarrelling among them, and some of the women
were still gnawing the bones that lay scattered about. Others
were making a heap of leaves and sticks to feed Brother Fire
when the darkness came again, that he might grow strong and
tall therewith, and guard them against the beasts. And two
were piling flints that they brought, an armful at a time, from
the bend of the river where the children were at play.
None of these buff-skinned savages were clothed, but some
wore about their hips rude girdles of adder-skin or crackling
undressed hide, from which depended little bags, not made,
but torn from the paws of beasts, and carrying the rudely-
dressed flints that were men's chief weapons and tools. And
one woman, the mate of Uya the Cunning Man, wore a wonderful
necklace of perforated fossils—that others had worn before
her. Beside some of the sleeping men lay the big antlers of the
elk, with the tines chipped to sharp edges, and long sticks,
hacked at the ends with flints into sharp points. There was
little else save these things and the smouldering fire to mark
these human beings off from the wild animals that ranged the
country. But Uya the Cunning did not sleep, but sat with a
bone in his hand and scraped busily thereon with a flint, a
thing no animal would do. He was the oldest man in the tribe,
beetle-browed, prognathous, lank-armed; he had a beard and
his cheeks were hairy, and his chest and arms were black with
thick hair. And by virtue both of his strength and cunning he
was master of the tribe, and his share was always the most and
Eudena had hidden herself among the alders, because she
was afraid of Uya. She was still a girl, and her eyes were bright
and her smile pleasant to see. He had given her a piece of the
liver, a man's piece, and a wonderful treat for a girl to get; but
as she took it the other woman with the necklace had looked at
her, an evil glance, and Ugh-lomi had made a noise in his
throat. At that, Uya had looked at him long and steadfastly, and
Ugh-lomi's face had fallen. And then Uya had looked at her.
She was frightened and she had stolen away, while the feeding
was still going on, and Uya was busy with the marrow of a
bone. Afterwards he had wandered about as if looking for her.
And now she crouched among the alders, wondering mightily
what Uya might be doing with the flint and the bone. And Ughlomi
was not to be seen.
Presently a squirrel came leaping through the alders, and
she lay so quiet the little man was within six feet of her before
he saw her. Whereupon he dashed up a stem in a hurry and
began to chatter and scold her. "What are you doing here," he
asked, "away from the other men beasts?" "Peace," said
Eudena, but he only chattered more, and then she began to
break off the little black cones to throw at him. He dodged and
defied her, and she grew excited and rose up to throw better,
and then she saw Uya coming down the knoll. He had seen the
movement of her pale arm amidst the thicket—he was very
At that she forgot the squirrel and set off through the alders
and reeds as fast as she could go. She did not care where she
went so long as she escaped Uya. She splashed nearly kneedeep
through a swampy place, and saw in front of her a slope
of ferns—growing more slender and green as they passed up
out of the light into the shade of the young chestnuts. She was
soon amidst the trees—she was very fleet of foot, and she ran
on and on until the forest was old and the vales great, and the
vines about their stems where the light came were thick as
young trees, and the ropes of ivy stout and tight. On she went,
and she doubled and doubled again, and then at last lay down
amidst some ferns in a hollow place near a thicket, and
listened with her heart beating in her ears.
She heard footsteps presently rustling among the dead
leaves, far off, and they died away and everything was still
again, except the scandalising of the midges—for the evening
was drawing on—and the incessant whisper of the leaves. She
laughed silently to think the cunning Uya should go by her. She
was not frightened. Sometimes, playing with the other girls
and lads, she had fled into the wood, though never so far as
this. It was pleasant to be hidden and alone.
She lay a long time there, glad of her escape, and then she
sat up listening.
It was a rapid pattering growing louder and coming towards
her, and in a little while she could hear grunting noises and the
snapping of twigs. It was a drove of lean grisly wild swine. She
turned about her, for a boar is an ill fellow to pass too closely,
on account of the sideway slash of his tusks, and she made off
slantingly through the trees. But the patter came nearer, they
were not feeding as they wandered, but going fast—or else
they would not overtake her—and she caught the limb of a
tree, swung on to it, and ran up the stem with something of the
agility of a monkey.
Down below the sharp bristling backs of the swine were
already passing when she looked. And she knew the short,
sharp grunts they made meant fear. What were they afraid of?
A man? They were in a great hurry for just a man.
And then, so suddenly it made her grip on the branch tighten
involuntarily, a fawn started in the brake and rushed after the
swine. Something else went by, low and grey, with a long body;
she did not know what it was, indeed she saw it only momentarily
through the interstices of the young leaves; and then
there came a pause.
She remained stiff and expectant, as rigid almost as though
she was a part of the tree she clung to, peering down.
Then, far away among the trees, clear for a moment, then
hidden, then visible knee-deep in ferns, then gone again, ran a
man. She knew it was young Ugh-lomi by the fair colour of his
hair, and there was red upon his face. Somehow his frantic
flight and that scarlet mark made her feel sick. And then nearer,
running heavily and breathing hard, came another man. At
first she could not see, and then she saw, foreshortened and
clear to her, Uya, running with great strides and his eyes staring.
He was not going after Ugh-lomi. His face was white. It
was Uya—afraid! He passed, and was still loud hearing, when
something else, something large and with grizzled fur,
swinging along with soft swift strides, came rushing in pursuit
Eudena suddenly became rigid, ceased to breathe, her clutch
convulsive, and her eyes starting.
She had never seen the thing before, she did not even see
him clearly now, but she knew at once it was the Terror of the
Woodshade. His name was a legend, the children would frighten
one another, frighten even themselves with his name, and
run screaming to the squatting-place. No man had ever killed
any of his kind. Even the mighty mammoth feared his anger. It
was the grizzly bear, the lord of the world as the world went
As he ran he made a continuous growling grumble. "Men in
my very lair! Fighting and blood. At the very mouth of my lair.
Men, men, men. Fighting and blood." For he was the lord of
the wood and of the caves.
Long after he had passed she remained, a girl of stone, staring
down through the branches. All her power of action had
gone from her. She gripped by instinct with hands and knees
and feet. It was some time before she could think, and then
only one thing was clear in her mind, that the Terror was
between her and the tribe—that it would be impossible to
Presently when her fear was a little abated she clambered into
a more comfortable position, where a great branch forked.
The trees rose about her, so that she could see nothing of
Brother Fire, who is black by day. Birds began to stir, and
things that had gone into hiding for fear of her movements
crept out… .
After a time the taller branches flamed out at the touch of
the sunset. High overhead the rooks, who were wiser than
men, went cawing home to their squatting-places among the
elms. Looking down, things were clearer and darker. Eudena
thought of going back to the squatting-place; she let herself
down some way, and then the fear of the Terror of the Woodshade
came again. While she hesitated a rabbit squealed dismally,
and she dared not descend farther.
The shadows gathered, and the deeps of the forest began
stirring. Eudena went up the tree again to be nearer the light.
Down below the shadows came out of their hiding-places and
walked abroad. Overhead the blue deepened. A dreadful stillness
came, and then the leaves began whispering.
Eudena shivered and thought of Brother Fire.
The shadows now were gathering in the trees, they sat on
the branches and watched her. Branches and leaves were
turned to ominous, quiet black shapes that would spring on her
if she stirred. Then the white owl, flitting silently, came ghostly
through the shades. Darker grew the world and darker, until
the leaves and twigs against the sky were black, and the
ground was hidden.
She remained there all night, an age-long vigil, straining her
ears for the things that went on below in the darkness, and
keeping motionless lest some stealthy beast should discover
her. Man in those days was never alone in the dark, save for
such rare accidents as this. Age after age he had learnt the lesson
of its terror—a lesson we poor children of his have
nowadays painfully to unlearn. Eudena, though in age a woman,
was in heart like a little child. She kept as still, poor little
animal, as a hare before it is started.
The stars gathered and watched her—her one grain of comfort.
In one bright one she fancied there was something like
Ugh-lomi. Then she fancied it was Ugh-lomi. And near him, red
and duller, was Uya, and as the night passed Ugh-lomi fled before
him up the sky.
She tried to see Brother Fire, who guarded the squattingplace
from beasts, but he was not in sight. And far away she
heard the mammoths trumpeting as they went down to the
drinking-place, and once some huge bulk with heavy paces hurried
along, making a noise like a calf, but what it was she could
not see. But she thought from the voice it was Yaaa the rhinoceros,
who stabs with his nose, goes always alone, and rages
At last the little stars began to hide, and then the larger
ones. It was like all the animals vanishing before the Terror.
The Sun was coming, lord of the sky, as the grizzly was lord of
the forest. Eudena wondered what would happen if one star
stayed behind. And then the sky paled to the dawn.
When the daylight came the fear of lurking things passed,
and she could descend. She was stiff, but not so stiff as you
would have been, dear young lady (by virtue of your upbringing),
and as she had not been trained to eat at least once in
three hours, but instead had often fasted three days, she did
not feel uncomfortably hungry. She crept down the tree very
cautiously, and went her way stealthily through the wood, and
not a squirrel sprang or deer started but the terror of the
grizzly bear froze her marrow.
Her desire was now to find her people again. Her dread of
Uya the Cunning was consumed by a greater dread of loneliness.
But she had lost her direction. She had run heedlessly
overnight, and she could not tell whether the squatting-place
was sunward or where it lay. Ever and again she stopped and
listened, and at last, very far away, she heard a measured
chinking. It was so faint even in the morning stillness that she
could tell it must be far away. But she knew the sound was that
of a man sharpening a flint.
Presently the trees began to thin out, and then came a regiment
of nettles barring the way. She turned aside, and then
she came to a fallen tree that she knew, with a noise of bees
about it. And so presently she was in sight of the knoll, very far
off, and the river under it, and the children and the hippopotami
just as they had been yesterday, and the thin spire of
smoke swaying in the morning breeze. Far away by the river
was the cluster of alders where she had hidden. And at the
sight of that the fear of Uya returned, and she crept into a
thicket of bracken, out of which a rabbit scuttled, and lay
awhile to watch the squatting-place.
The men were mostly out of sight, saving Wau, the flint-chopper;
and at that she felt safer. They were away hunting food,
no doubt. Some of the women, too, were down in the stream,
stooping intent, seeking mussels, crayfish, and water-snails,
and at the sight of their occupation Eudena felt hungry. She
rose, and ran through the fern, designing to join them. As she
went she heard a voice among the bracken calling softly. She
stopped. Then suddenly she heard a rustle behind her, and
turning, saw Ugh-lomi rising out of the fern. There were
streaks of brown blood and dirt on his face, and his eyes were
fierce, and the white stone of Uya, the white Fire Stone, that
none but Uya dared to touch, was in his hand. In a stride he
was beside her, and gripped her arm. He swung her about, and
thrust her before him towards the woods. "Uya," he said, and
waved his arms about. She heard a cry, looked back, and saw
all the women standing up, and two wading out of the stream.
Then came a nearer howling, and the old woman with the
beard, who watched the fire on the knoll, was waving her
arms, and Wau, the man who had been chipping the flint, was
getting to his feet. The little children too were hurrying and
"Come!" said Ugh-lomi, and dragged her by the arm.
She still did not understand.
"Uya has called the death word," said Ugh-lomi, and she
glanced back at the screaming curve of figures, and
Wau and all the women and children were coming towards
them, a scattered array of buff shock-headed figures, howling,
leaping, and crying. Over the knoll two youths hurried. Down
among the ferns to the right came a man, heading them off
from the wood. Ugh-lomi left her arm, and the two began running
side by side, leaping the bracken and stepping clear and
wide. Eudena, knowing her fleetness and the fleetness of Ughlomi,
laughed aloud at the unequal chase. They were an
exceptionally straight-limbed couple for those days.
They soon cleared the open, and drew near the wood of
chestnut-trees again—neither afraid now because neither was
alone. They slackened their pace, already not excessive. And
suddenly Eudena cried and swerved aside, pointing, and looking
up through the tree-stems. Ugh-lomi saw the feet and legs
of men running towards him. Eudena was already running off
at a tangent. And as he too turned to follow her they heard the
voice of Uya coming through the trees, and roaring out his
rage at them.
Then terror came in their hearts, not the terror that numbs,
but the terror that makes one silent and swift. They were cut
off now on two sides. They were in a sort of corner of pursuit.
On the right hand, and near by them, came the men swift and
heavy, with bearded Uya, antler in hand, leading them; and on
the left, scattered as one scatters corn, yellow dashes among
the fern and grass, ran Wau and the women; and even the little
children from the shallow had joined the chase. The two
parties converged upon them. Off they went, with Eudena
They knew there was no mercy for them. There was no hunting
so sweet to these ancient men as the hunting of men. Once
the fierce passion of the chase was lit, the feeble beginnings of
humanity in them were thrown to the winds. And Uya in the
night had marked Ugh-lomi with the death word. Ugh-lomi was
the day's quarry, the appointed feast.
They ran straight—it was their only chance—taking whatever
ground came in the way—a spread of stinging nettles, an open
glade, a clump of grass out of which a hyæna fled snarling.
Then woods again, long stretches of shady leaf-mould and moss
under the green trunks. Then a stiff slope, tree-clad, and long
vistas of trees, a glade, a succulent green area of black mud, a
wide open space again, and then a clump of lacerating
brambles, with beast tracks through it. Behind them the chase
trailed out and scattered, with Uya ever at their heels. Eudena
kept the first place, running light and with her breath easy, for
Ugh-lomi carried the Fire Stone in his hand.
It told on his pace—not at first, but after a time. His footsteps
behind her suddenly grew remote. Glancing over her shoulder
as they crossed another open space, Eudena saw that Ugh-lomi
was many yards behind her, and Uya close upon him, with
antler already raised in the air to strike him down. Wau and
the others were but just emerging from the shadow of the
Seeing Ugh-lomi in peril, Eudena ran sideways, looking back,
threw up her arms and cried aloud, just as the antler flew. And
young Ugh-lomi, expecting this and understanding her cry,
ducked his head, so that the missile merely struck his scalp
lightly, making but a trivial wound, and flew over him. He
turned forthwith, the quartzite Fire Stone in both hands, and
hurled it straight at Uya's body as he ran loose from the throw.
Uya shouted, but could not dodge it. It took him under the ribs,
heavy and flat, and he reeled and went down without a cry.
Ugh-lomi caught up the antler—one tine of it was tipped with
his own blood—and came running on again with a red trickle
just coming out of his hair.
Uya rolled over twice, and lay a moment before he got up,
and then he did not run fast. The colour of his face was
changed. Wau overtook him, and then others, and he coughed
and laboured in his breath. But he kept on.
At last the two fugitives gained the bank of the river, where
the stream ran deep and narrow, and they still had fifty yards
in hand of Wau, the foremost pursuer, the man who made the
smiting-stones. He carried one, a large flint, the shape of an
oyster and double the size, chipped to a chisel edge, in either
They sprang down the steep bank into the stream, rushed
through the water, swam the deep current in two or three
strokes, and came out wading again, dripping and refreshed,
to clamber up the farther bank. It was undermined, and with
willows growing thickly therefrom, so that it needed clambering.
And while Eudena was still among the silvery branches
and Ugh-lomi still in the water—for the antler had encumbered
him—Wau came up against the sky on the opposite bank, and
the smiting-stone, thrown cunningly, took the side of Eudena's
knee. She struggled to the top and fell.
They heard the pursuers shout to one another, and Ugh-lomi
climbing to her and moving jerkily to mar Wau's aim, felt the
second smiting-stone graze his ear, and heard the water splash
Then it was Ugh-lomi, the stripling, proved himself to have
come to man's estate. For running on, he found Eudena fell behind,
limping, and at that he turned, and crying savagely and
with a face terrible with sudden wrath and trickling blood, ran
swiftly past her back to the bank, whirling the antler round his
head. And Eudena kept on, running stoutly still, though she
must needs limp at every step, and the pain was already sharp.
So that Wau, rising over the edge and clutching the straight
willow branches, saw Ugh-lomi towering over him, gigantic
against the blue; saw his whole body swing round, and the grip
of his hands upon the antler. The edge of the antler came
sweeping through the air, and he saw no more. The water under
the osiers whirled and eddied and went crimson six feet
down the stream. Uya following stopped knee-high across the
stream, and the man who was swimming turned about.
The other men who trailed after—they were none of them
very mighty men (for Uya was more cunning than strong,
brooking no sturdy rivals)—slackened momentarily at the sight
of Ugh-lomi standing there above the willows, bloody and terrible,
between them and the halting girl, with the huge antler
waving in his hand. It seemed as though he had gone into the
water a youth, and come out of it a man full grown.
He knew what there was behind him. A broad stretch of
grass, and then a thicket, and in that Eudena could hide. That
was clear in his mind, though his thinking powers were too
feeble to see what should happen thereafter. Uya stood kneedeep,
undecided and unarmed. His heavy mouth hung open,
showing his canine teeth, and he panted heavily. His side was
flushed and bruised under the hair. The other man beside him
carried a sharpened stick. The rest of the hunters came up one
by one to the top of the bank, hairy, long-armed men clutching
flints and sticks. Two ran off along the bank down stream, and
then clambered to the water, where Wau had come to the surface
struggling weakly. Before they could reach him he went
under again. Two others threatened Ugh-lomi from the bank.
He answered back, shouts, vague insults, gestures. Then
Uya, who had been hesitating, roared with rage, and whirling
his fists plunged into the water. His followers splashed after
Ugh-lomi glanced over his shoulder and found Eudena
already vanished into the thicket. He would perhaps have
waited for Uya, but Uya preferred to spar in the water below
him until the others were beside him. Human tactics in those
days, in all serious fighting, were the tactics of the pack. Prey
that turned at bay they gathered around and rushed. Ugh-lomi
felt the rush coming, and hurling the antler at Uya, turned
about and fled.
When he halted to look back from the shadow of the thicket,
he found only three of his pursuers had followed him across
the river, and they were going back again. Uya, with a bleeding
mouth, was on the farther side of the stream again, but lower
down, and holding his hand to his side. The others were in the
river dragging something to shore. For a time at least the
chase was intermitted.
Ugh-lomi stood watching for a space, and snarled at the sight
of Uya. Then he turned and plunged into the thicket.
In a minute, Eudena came hastening to join him, and they
went on hand in hand. He dimly perceived the pain she
suffered from the cut and bruised knee, and chose the easier
ways. But they went on all that day, mile after mile, through
wood and thicket, until at last they came to the chalkland, open
grass with rare woods of beech, and the birch growing near
water, and they saw the Wealden mountains nearer, and
groups of horses grazing together. They went circumspectly,
keeping always near thicket and cover, for this was a strange
region—even its ways were strange. Steadily the ground rose,
until the chestnut forests spread wide and blue below them,
and the Thames marshes shone silvery, high and far. They saw
no men, for in those days men were still only just come into
this part of the world, and were moving but slowly along the
river-ways. Towards evening they came on the river again, but
now it ran in a gorge, between high cliffs of white chalk that
sometimes overhung it. Down the cliffs was a scrub of birches
and there were many birds there. And high up the cliff was a
little shelf by a tree, whereon they clambered to pass the night.
They had had scarcely any food; it was not the time of year
for berries, and they had no time to go aside to snare or waylay.
They tramped in a hungry weary silence, gnawing at twigs
and leaves. But over the surface of the cliffs were a multitude
of snails, and in a bush were the freshly laid eggs of a little
bird, and then Ugh-lomi threw at and killed a squirrel in a
beech-tree, so that at last they fed well. Ugh-lomi watched during
the night, his chin on his knees; and he heard young foxes
crying hard by, and the noise of mammoths down the gorge,
and the hyænas yelling and laughing far away. It was chilly,
but they dared not light a fire. Whenever he dozed, his spirit
went abroad, and straightway met with the spirit of Uya, and
they fought. And always Ugh-lomi was paralysed so that he
could not smite nor run, and then he would awake suddenly.
Eudena, too, dreamt evil things of Uya, so that they both awoke
with the fear of him in their hearts, and by the light of the
dawn they saw a woolly rhinoceros go blundering down the
During the day they caressed one another and were glad of
the sunshine, and Eudena's leg was so stiff she sat on the ledge
all day. Ugh-lomi found great flints sticking out of the cliff face,
greater than any he had seen, and he dragged some to the
ledge and began chipping, so as to be armed against Uya when
he came again. And at one he laughed heartily, and Eudena
laughed, and they threw it about in derision. It had a hole in it.
They stuck their fingers through it, it was very funny indeed.
Then they peeped at one another through it. Afterwards, Ughlomi
got himself a stick, and thrusting by chance at this foolish
flint, the stick went in and stuck there. He had rammed it in
too tightly to withdraw it. That was still stranger—scarcely
funny, terrible almost, and for a time Ugh-lomi did not greatly
care to touch the thing. It was as if the flint had bit and held
with its teeth. But then he got familiar with the odd combination.
He swung it about, and perceived that the stick with the
heavy stone on the end struck a better blow than anything he
knew. He went to and fro swinging it, and striking with it; but
later he tired of it and threw it aside. In the afternoon he went
up over the brow of the white cliff, and lay watching by a
rabbit-warren until the rabbits came out to play. There were no
men thereabouts, and the rabbits were heedless. He threw a
smiting-stone he had made and got a kill.
That night they made a fire from flint sparks and bracken
fronds, and talked and caressed by it. And in their sleep Uya's
spirit came again, and suddenly, while Ugh-lomi was trying to
fight vainly, the foolish flint on the stick came into his hand,
and he struck Uya with it, and behold! it killed him. But afterwards
came other dreams of Uya—for spirits take a lot of
killing, and he had to be killed again. Then after that the stone
would not keep on the stick. He awoke tired and rather
gloomy, and was sulky all the forenoon, in spite of Eudena's
kindliness, and instead of hunting he sat chipping a sharp edge
to the singular flint, and looking strangely at her. Then he
bound the perforated flint on to the stick with strips of rabbit
skin. And afterwards he walked up and down the ledge, striking
with it, and muttering to himself, and thinking of Uya. It
felt very fine and heavy in the hand.
Several days, more than there was any counting in those
days, five days, it may be, or six, did Ugh-lomi and Eudena stay
on that shelf in the gorge of the river, and they lost all fear of
men, and their fire burnt redly of a night. And they were very
merry together; there was food every day, sweet water, and no
enemies. Eudena's knee was well in a couple of days, for those
ancient savages had quick-healing flesh. Indeed, they were
On one of those days Ugh-lomi dropped a chunk of flint over
the cliff. He saw it fall, and go bounding across the river bank
into the river, and after laughing and thinking it over a little he
tried another. This smashed a bush of hazel in the most interesting
way. They spent all the morning dropping stones from
the ledge, and in the afternoon they discovered this new and
interesting pastime was also possible from the cliffbrow. The
next day they had forgotten this delight. Or at least, it seemed
they had forgotten.
But Uya came in dreams to spoil the paradise. Three nights
he came fighting Ugh-lomi. In the morning after these dreams
Ugh-lomi would walk up and down, threatening him and
swinging the axe, and at last came the night after Ugh-lomi
brained the otter, and they had feasted. Uya went too far. Ughlomi
awoke, scowling under his heavy brows, and he took his
axe, and extending his hand towards Eudena he bade her wait
for him upon the ledge. Then he clambered down the white declivity,
glanced up once from the foot of it and flourished his
axe, and without looking back again went striding along the
river bank until the overhanging cliff at the bend hid him.
Two days and nights did Eudena sit alone by the fire on the
ledge waiting, and in the night the beasts howled over the cliffs
and down the valley, and on the cliff over against her the
hunched hyænas prowled black against the sky. But no evil
thing came near her save fear. Once, far away, she heard the
roaring of a lion, following the horses as they came northward
over the grass lands with the spring. All that time she
waited—the waiting that is pain.
And the third day Ugh-lomi came back, up the river. The
plumes of a raven were in his hair. The first axe was redstained,
and had long dark hairs upon it, and he carried the
necklace that had marked the favourite of Uya in his hand. He
walked in the soft places, giving no heed to his trail. Save a
raw cut below his jaw there was not a wound upon him. "Uya!"
cried Ugh-lomi exultant, and Eudena saw it was well. He put
the necklace on Eudena, and they ate and drank together. And
after eating he began to rehearse the whole story from the beginning,
when Uya had cast his eyes on Eudena, and Uya and
Ugh-lomi, fighting in the forest, had been chased by the bear,
eking out his scanty words with abundant pantomime, springing
to his feet and whirling the stone axe round when it came
to the fighting. The last fight was a mighty one, stamping and
shouting, and once a blow at the fire that sent a torrent of
sparks up into the night. And Eudena sat red in the light of the
fire, gloating on him, her face flushed and her eyes shining,
and the necklace Uya had made about her neck. It was a splendid
time, and the stars that look down on us looked down on
her, our ancestor—who has been dead now these fifty thousand
Thank you for reading!
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