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Title: The Eternal Lover (1925)
Author: Edgar Rice Burroughs
* A Project Gutenberg of Australia eBook *
eBook No.:  0200371.txt
Language:   English
Date first posted: May 2002
Date most recently updated: May 2002

This eBook was produced by: Colin Choat

Production notes: Part II of The Eternal Lover, when published serially,
                  appeared under the name of Sweetheart Primeval.

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Title:      The Eternal Lover (1925)
Author:     Edgar Rice Burroughs



CONTENTS



PART I

I      Nu of the Niocene
II     The Earthquake
III    Nu, the Sleeper, Awakes
IV     The Mysterious Hunter
V      The Watcher
VI     Nu and the Lion
VII    Victoria Obeys the Call
VIII   Captured by Arabs
IX     Nu Goes to Find Nat-al
X      On the Trail
XI     The Abduction
XII    The Cave Man Finds His Mate
XIII   Into the Jungle


PART II

I      Again a World Upheaval
II     Back to the Stone Age
III    The Great Cave-Bear
IV     The Boat Builders
V      Nu's First Voyage
VI     The Anthropoid Apes
VII    The Beast-Fires
VIII   Bound to the Stake
IX     The Fight
X      Gron's Revenge
XI     The Aurodis
XII    Tur's Deception
XIII   Nat-ul Is Heart-Broken
XIV    "I have Come to Save You"
XV     What the Cave Revealed





PART I




CHAPTER I



NU OF THE NIOCENE

Nu the son of Nu, his mighty muscles rolling beneath his
smooth bronzed skin, moved silently through the jungle
primeval. His handsome head with its shock of black hair,
roughly cropped between sharpened stones, was high held, the
delicate nostrils questioning each vagrant breeze for word
of Oo, hunter of men.

Now his trained senses catch the familiar odor of Ta, the
great woolly rhinoceros, directly in his path, but Nu, the
son of Nu, does not hunt Ta this day.  Does not the hide of
Ta's brother already hang before the entrance of Nu's cave?
No, today Nu hunts the gigantic cat, the fierce saber-
toothed tiger, Oo, for Nat-ul, wondrous daughter of old Tha,
will mate with none but the mightiest of hunters.

Only so recently as the last darkness, as, beneath the
great, equatorial moon, the two had walked hand in hand
beside the restless sea she had made it quite plain to Nu,
the son of Nu, that not even he, son of the chief of chiefs,
could claim her unless there hung at the thong of his loin
cloth the fangs of Oo.

"Nat-ul," she had said to him, "wishes her man to be greater
than other men. She loves Nu now better than her very life,
but if Love is to walk at her side during a long life Pride
and Respect must walk with it."  Her slender hand  reached
up to stroke the young giant's black hair. "I am very proud
of my Nu even now," she continued, "for among all the young
men of the tribe there is no greater hunter, or no mightier
fighter than Nu, the son of Nu.  Should you, single-handed,
slay Oo before a grown man's beard has darkened your cheek
there will be none greater in all the world than Nat-ul's
mate, Nu, the son of Nu."

The young man was still sensible to the sound of her soft
voice and the caress of her gentle touch upon his brow. As
these things had sent him speeding forth into the savage
jungle in search of Oo while the day was still so young that
the night-prowling beasts of prey were yet abroad, so they
urged him forward deeper and deeper into the dark and
trackless mazes of the tangled forest.

As he forged on the scent of Ta became stronger, until at
last the huge, ungainly beast loomed large before Nu's eyes.
He was standing in a little clearing, in deep, rank jungle
grasses and had he not been head on toward Nu he would not
have seen him, since even his acute hearing was far too dull
to apprehend the noiseless tread of the cave man, moving
lightly up wind.

As the tiny, blood-shot eyes of the primordial beast
discovered the man the great head went down, and Ta, ill
natured and bellicose progenitor of the equally ill natured
and bellicose rhino of the twentieth century, charged the
lithe giant who had disturbed his antediluvian meditation.

The creature's great bulk and awkward, uncouth lines belied
his speed, for he tore down upon Nu with all the swiftness
of a thoroughbred and had not the brain and muscle of the
troglodyte been fitted by heritage and training to the
successful meeting of such emergencies there would be no
tale to tell today of Nu of the Niocene.

But the young man was prepared, and turning he ran with the
swiftness of a hare toward the nearest tree, a huge,
arboraceous fern towering upon the verge of the little
clearing. Like a cat the man ran up the perpendicular bole,
his hands and feet seeming barely to touch the projecting
knobs marking the remains of former fronds which converted
the towering stem into an easy stairway for such as he.

About Nu's neck his stone-tipped spear hung by its rawhide
thong down his back, while stone hatchet and stone knife
dangled from his geestring, giving him free use of his hands
for climbing. You or I, having once gained the seeming
safety of the lowest fronds of the great tree, fifty feet
above the ground, might have heaved a great sigh of relief
that we had thus easily escaped the hideous monster beneath;
but not so Nu, who was wise to the ways of the creatures of
his remote age.

Not one whit did he abate his speed as he neared the lowest
branch, nor did he even waste a precious second in a
downward glance at his enemy. What need, indeed? Did he not
know precisely what Ta would do? Instead he swung, monkey
like, to the broad leaf, and though the chances he took
would have paled the face of a brave man today they did not
cause Nu even to hesitate, as he ran lightly and swiftly
along the bending, swaying frond, leaping just at the right
instant toward the bole of a nearby jungle giant.

Nor was he an instant too soon.  The frond from which he had
sprung had scarce whipped up from beneath his weight when
Ta, with all the force and momentum of a runaway locomotive,
struck the base of the tree head on. The jar of that
terrific collision shook the earth, there was the sound of
the splintering of wood, and the mighty tree toppled to the
ground with a deafening crash.

Nu, from an adjoining tree, looked down and grinned. He was
not hunting Ta that day, and so he sprang from tree to tree
until he had passed around the clearing, and then, coming to
the surface once more, continued his way toward the distant
lava cliffs where Oo, the man hunter, made his grim lair.

From among the tangled creepers through which the man wormed
his sinuous way ugly little eyes peered down upon him from
beneath shaggy, beetling brows, and great fighting tusks
were bared, as the hairy ones growled and threatened from
above; but Nu paid not the slightest attention to the huge,
ferocious creatures that menaced him upon every hand.  From
earliest childhood he had been accustomed to the jabberings
and scoldings of the ape-people, and so he knew that if he
went his way in peace, harming them not, they would offer
him no harm. One of lesser experience might have attempted
to drive them away with menacing spear, or well-aimed
hatchet, and thus have drawn down upon him a half dozen or
more ferocious bulls against which no single warrior,
however doughty, might have lived long enough to count his
antagonists.

Threatening and unfriendly as the apes seemed the cave man
really looked upon them as friends and allies, since between
them and his own people there existed a species of friendly
alliance, due no doubt to the similarity of their form and
structure. In that long gone age when the world was young
and its broad bosom teemed with countless thousands of
carnivorous beasts and reptiles, and other myriads blackened
the bosoms of its inland seas, and filled its warm, moist
air with the flutter of their mighty, bat-like wings, man's
battle for survival stretched from sun to sun--there was no
respite.  His semi-arboreal habits took him often into the
domains of the great and lesser apes, and from this contact
had arisen what might best be termed an armed truce, for
they alone of all the other inhabitants of the earth had
spoken languages, both meager it is true, yet sufficient to
their primitive wants, and as both languages had been born
of the same needs to deal with identical conditions there
were many words and phrases identical to both.  Thus the
troglodyte and the primordial ape could converse when
necessity demanded, and as Nu traversed their country he
understood their grumbling and chattering merely as warnings
to him against the performance of any overt act.  Had danger
lurked in his path the hairy ones would have warned him of
that too, for of such was their service to man who in return
often hunted the more remorseless of their enemies, driving
them from the land of the anthropoids.

On and on went Nu occasionally questioning the hairy ones he
encountered for word of Oo, and always the replies
confirrned him in his belief that he should come upon the
man eater before the sun crawled into its dark cave for the
night.

And so he did.  He had passed out of the heavier vegetation,
and was ascending a gentle rise that terminated in low
volcanic cliffs when there came down upon the breeze to his
alert nostrils the strong scent of Oo. There was little or
no cover now, other than the rank jungle grass that overgrew
the slope, and an occasional lofty fern rearing its tufted
pinnacle a hundred feet; above the ground; but Nu was in no
way desirous of cover. Cover that would protect him from the
view of Go would hide Oo from him.  He was not afraid that
the saber-toothed tiger would run away from him--that was
not Oo's way--but he did not wish to come unexpectedly upon
the animal in the thick grass.

He had approached to within a hundred yards of the cliffs
now, and the scent of Oo had become as a stench in the
sensitive nostrils of the cave man.  Just ahead he could see
the openings to several caves in the face of the rocky
barrier, and in one of these he knew must lie the lair of
his quarry.

Fifty yards from the cliff the grasses ceased except for
scattered tufts that had found foothold among the broken
rocks that strewed the ground, and as Nu emerged into this
clear space he breathed a sigh of relief for during the past
fifty yards a considerable portion of the way had been
through a matted jungle that rose above his head. To have
met Oo there would have spelled almost certain death for the
cave man.

Now, as he bent his eyes toward the nearby cave mouths he
discovered one before which was strewn such an array of
gigantic bones that he needed no other evidence as to the
identity of its occupant. Here, indeed, laired no lesser
creature than the awesome Oo, the gigantic, saber-toothed
tiger of antiquity. Even as Nu looked there came a low and
ominous growl from the dark mouth of the foul cavern, and
then in the blackness beyond the entrance Nu saw two flaming
blotches of yellow glaring out upon him.

A moment later the mighty beast itself sauntered
majestically into the sunlight.  There it stood lashing its
long tail from side to side, glaring with unblinking eyes
straight at the rash man-thing who dared venture thus near
its abode of death. The huge body, fully as large as that of
a full grown bull, was beautifully marked with black stripes
upon a vivid yellow ground, while the belly and breast were
of the purest white.

As Nu advanced the great upper lip curled back revealing in
all their terrible ferocity the eighteen inch curved fangs
that armed either side of the upper jaw, and from the
cavernous throat came a fearsome scream of rage that brought
frightened silence upon the jungle for miles around.

The hunter loosened the stone knife at his gee string and
transferred it to his mouth where he held it firmly, ready
for instant use, between his strong, white teeth. In his
left hand he carried his stone-tipped spear, and in his
right the heavy stone hatchet that was so effective both at
a distance and at close range.

Oo is creeping upon him now. The grinning jaws drip saliva.
The yellow-green eyes gleam bloodthirstily. Can it be
possible that this fragile pygmy dreams of meeting in hand-
to-hand combat the terror of a world, the scourge of the
jungle, the hunter of men and of mammoths?

"For Nat-ul," murmured Nu, for Oo was about to spring.

As the mighty hurtling mass of bone and muscle, claws and
fangs, shot through the air toward him the man swung his
tiny stone hatchet with all the power behind his giant
muscles, timing its release so nicely that it caught Oo in
mid leap squarely between the eyes with the terrific force
of a powder sped projectile. Then Nu, cat-like as Oo
himself, leaped agilely to one side as the huge bulk of the
beast dashed, sprawling to the ground at the spot where the
man had stood.

Scarce had the beast struck the earth than the cave man,
knowing that his puny weapon could at best but momentarily
stun the monster, drove his heavy spear deep into the glossy
side just behind the giant shoulder.

Already Oo has regained his feet, roaring and screaming in
pain and rage. The air vibrates and the earth trembles to
his hideous shrieks.  For miles around the savage denizens
of the savage jungle bristle in terror, slinking further
into the depths of their dank and gloomy haunts, casting the
while aifrighted glances rearward in the direction of that
awesome sound.

With gaping jawsand wide spread talons the tiger lunges
toward its rash tormentor who still stands gripping the haft
of his pnmitive weapon. As the beast turns the spear turns
also, and Nu is whipped about as a leaf at the extremity of
a gale-tossed branch.

Striking and cavorting futilely the colossal feline leaps
hither and thither in prodigious bounds as he strives to
reach the taunting figure that remains ever just beyond the
zone of those destroying talons.  But presently Oo goes more
slowly, and now he stops and crouches flat upon his belly.
Slowly and cautiously he reaches out-ward and backward with
one huge paw until the torturing spear is within his grasp.

Meanwhile the man screams taunts and insults into the face
of his enemy, at the same time forcing the spear further and
further into the vitals of the tiger, for he knows that once
that paw encircles the spear's haft his chances for survival
will be of the slenderest.  He has seen that Oo is weakening
from loss of blood, but there are many fighting minutes left
in the big carcass unless a happy twist of the spear sends
its point through the wall of the great heart.

But at length the beast succeeds.  The paw closes upon the
spear. The tough wood bends beneath the weight of those
steel thews, then snaps short a foot from the tiger's body,
and at the same instant Oo rears and throws himself upon the
youth, who has snatched his stone hunting knife from between
his teeth and crouches, ready for the impact.

Down they go, the man entirely buried beneath the great body
of his antagonist.  Again and again the crude knife is
buried in the snowy breast of the tiger even while Nu is
falling beneath the screaming, tearing incarnation of
bestial rage.

At the instant it strikes the man as strange that not once
have the snapping jaws or frightful talons touched him, and
then he is crushed to earth beneath the dead weight of Oo.
The beast gives one last, Titanic struggle, and is still.

With difficulty Nu wriggles from beneath the carcass of his
kill.  At the last moment the tiger itself had forced the
spear's point into its own heart as it bent and broke the
haft.  The man leaps to his feet and cuts the great throat.
Then, as the blood flows, he dances about the dead body of
his vanquished foe, brandishing his knife and recovered
hatchet, and emitting now shrill shrieks in mimicry of Qo,
and now deep toned roars--the call of the victorious cave man.

From the surrounding cliffs and jungle came answering
challenges from a hundred savage throats--the rumbling
thunder of the cave bear's growl; the roar of Zor, the lion;
the wail of the hyena; the trumpeting of the mammoth; the
deep toned bellowing of the bull bos, and from distant swamp
and sea came the hissing and whistling of saurians and
amphibians.

His victory dance completed, Nu busied himself in the
removal of the broken spear from the carcass of his kill. At
the same time he removed several strong tendons from Oo's
fore arm, with which he roughly spliced the broken haft, for
there was never an instant in the danger fraught existence
of his kind when it was well to be without the service of a
stone-tipped spear.

This precaution taken, the man busied himself with the task
of cutting off Oo's head, that he might bear it in triumph
to the cave of his love. With stone hatchet and knife he
hacked and hewed for the better part of a half hour, until
at last he raised the dripping trophy above his head, as,
leaping high in air, he screamed once more the gloating
challenge of the victor, that all the world might know that
there was no greater hunter than Nu, the son of Nu.

Even as the last note of his fierce cry rolled through the
heavy, humid, super-heated air of the Niocene there came a
sudden hush upon the face of the world. A strange darkness
obscured the swollen sun.  The ground trembled and shook.
Deep rumblings muttered upward from the bowels of the young
earth, and answering grumblings thundered down from the
firmament above.

The startled troglodyte looked quickly in every direction,
searching for the great beast who could thus cause the whole
land to tremble and cry out in fear, and the heavens above
to moan, and the sun to hide itself in terror.

In every direction he saw frightened beasts and birds and
flying reptiles scurrying in panic stricken terror in search
of hiding places, and moved by the same primitive instinct
the young giant grabbed up his weapons and his trophy, and
ran like an antelope for the sheltering darkness of the cave
of Oo.

Scarcely had he reached the fancied safety of the interior
when the earth's crust crumpled and rocked--there was a
sickening sensation of sudden sinking, and amidst the awful
roar and thunder of rending rock, the cave mouth closed, and
in the impenetrable darkness of his living tomb Nu, the son
of Nu, Nu of the Niocene, lost consclousness.

That was a hundred thousand years ago.




CHAPTER II



THE EARTHQUAKE


To have looked at her, merely, you would never have thought
Victoria Custer, of Beatrice, Nebraska, at all the sort of
girl she really was.  Her large dreamy eyes, and the
graceful lines of her slender figure gave one an impression
of that physical cowardice which we have grown to take for
granted as an inherent characteristic of the truly womanly
woman.  And yet I dare say there were only two things on
God's green earth that Victoria Custer feared, or beneath it
or above it, for that matter--mice and earthquakes.

She readily admitted the deadly terror which the former
aroused within her; but of earthquakes she seldom if ever
would speak. To her brother Barney, her chum and confidant,
she had on one or two occasions unburdened her soul.

The two were guests now of Lord and Lady Greystoke upon the
Englishman's vast estate in equatorial Africa, in the
country of the Waziri, to which Barney Custer had come to
hunt big game--and forget. But all that has nothing to
do with this story; nor has John Clayton, Lord Greystoke,
who was, once upon a time, Tarzan of the Apes, except that
my having chanced to be a guest of his at the same time as
the Custers makes it possible for me to give you a story
that otherwise might never have been told.

South of Uziri, the country of the Waziri, lies a chain of
rugged mountains at the foot of which stretches a broad
plain where antelope, zebra, giraffe, rhinos and elephant
abound, and here are lion and leopard and hyena preying,
each after his own fashion, upon the sleek, fat herds of
antelope, zebra and giraffe. Here, too, are buffalo--
irritable, savage beasts, more formidable than the lion
himself Clayton says.

It is indeed a hunter's paradise, and scarce a day passed
that did not find a party absent from the low, rambling
bungalow of the Greystokes in search of game and adventure,
nor seldom was it that Victoria Custer failed to be of the
party.

Already she had bagged two leopards, in addition to numerous
antelope and zebra, and on foot had faced a bull buffalo's
charge, bringing him down with a perfect shot within ten
paces of where she stood.

At first she had kept her brother in a state bordering on
nervous collapse, for the risks she took were such as few
men would care to undertake; but after he had discovered
that she possessed perfect coolness in the face of danger,
and that the accuracy of her aim was so almost uncanny as to
wring unstinted praise from the oldest hunters among them,
he commenced to lean a trifle too far in the other
direction, so that Victoria was often in positions where she
found herself entirely separated from the other members of
the party--a compliment to her prowess which she greatly
prized, since women and beginners were usually surrounded by
precautions and guards through which it was difficult to get
within firing distance of any sort of game.

As they were riding homeward one evening after a hunt in the
foothills Barney noticed that his sister was unusually
quiet, and apparently depressed.

"What's the matter, Vic?" he asked. "Dead tired, eh?"

The girl looked up with a bright smile, which was immediately
followed by an expression of puzzled bewilderment.

"Barney," she said, after a moment of silence, "there is
something about those hills back there that fills me with
the strangest sensation of terror imaginable. Today I passed
an outcropping of volcanic rock that gave evidence of a
frightful convulsion of nature in some bygone age.  At sight
of it I commenced to tremble from head to foot, a cold
perspiration breaking out all over me. But that part is not
so strange--you know I have always been subject to these
same silly attacks of unreasoning terror at siglit of any
evidence of the mighty forces that have wrought changes in
the earth's crust, or of the slightest tremor of an
earthquake; but today the feeling of unutterable personal
loss which overwhelmed me was almost unbearable--it was as
though one whom I loved above all others had been taken from
me.

"And yet," she continued, "through all my inexplicable
sorrow there shone a ray of brilliant hope as remarkable and
unfathomable as the deeper and depressing emotion which
still stirred me."

For some time neither spoke, hut rode silently stirrup to
stirrup as their ponies picked their ways daintily through
the knee high grass.  The girl was thinking--trying to
puzzle out an explanation of the rather weird sensations
which had so recently claimed her.  Barney Custer was one of
those unusual and delightful people who do not scoff at
whatever they cannot understand; the reason, doubtless, that
his sister as well as others chose him as the recipient of
their confidences. Not understanding her emotion he had
nothing to offer, and so remained silent.  He was, however,
not a little puzzled, as he had always been at each new
manifestation of Victoria's uncanny reaction to every
indication of the great upheavals which marked the physical
changes in the conformation of the earth's crust.

He recalled former occasions upon which his sister had
confided in him something of similar terrors. Once in The
Garden of the Gods, and again during a trip through The
Grand Canyon in Arizona, and very vivid indeed was the
recollection of Victoria's nervous collapse following the
reading of the press despatches describing the San Francisco
earthquake. In all other respects his sister was an
exceptionally normal well-balanced young American woman--
which fact, doubtless, rendered her one weakness the more
apparent.

But Victoria Custer's terror of earthquakes was not her only
peculiarity. The other was her strange contempt for the men
who had sued for her hand--and these had been many.  Her
brother had thought several of them the salt of the earth,
and Victoria had liked them, too, but as for loving them?
Perish the thought!

Oddly enough recollection of this other phase of her
character obtruded itself upon Barney's memory as the two
rode on toward the Clayton bungalow, and with it he recalled
a persistent dream which Victoria had said recurred after
each reminder of a great convulsion of nature. At the
thought he broke the silence.

"Has your-ah-avatar made his customary appearance?" he
asked, smiling.

The girl extended her hand toward her brother and laid it on
his where it rested upon his thigh as he rode, looking up at
him with half frightened, half longing eyes.

"Oh, Barney," she cried, "you are such a dear never to have
laughed at my silly dreams.  I'm sure I should go quite mad
did I not have you in whom to confide; but lately I have
hesitated to speak of it even to you--he has been coming so
often! Every night since we first hunted in the vicinity of
the hills I have walked hand in hand with him beneath a
great equatorial moon beside a restless sea, and more
clearly than ever in the past have I seen his form and
features.  He is very handsome, Barney, and very tall and
strong, and clean limbed--I wish that I might meet such a
man in real life. I know it is a ridiculous thing to say,
but I can never love any of the pusillanimous weaklings who
are forever falling in love with me--not after having walked
hand in hand with such as he and read the love in his clear eyes.
And yet, Barney, I am afraid of him. Is it not odd?"

At this juncture they were joined by other members of the
party, so that no further reference to the subject was made
by either. At the Claytons they found that an addition had
been made to the number of guests by the unheralded advent
of two khaki clad young men, one of whom rose and came
forward to meet the returning hunters while they were yet a
hundred yards away.

He was a tall, athletic appearing man.  As Victoria Custer
recognized his features she did not know whether to be
pleased or angry. Here was the one man she had ever met who
came nearest to the realization of her dream-man, and this
one of all the others had never spoken a word of love to
her.  His companion who had now risen from the cool shade of
the low veranda was also coming forward, but more slowly,
the set of his shoulders and the swing of his stride
betokening his military vocation.

"Mr. Curtiss!" exclaimed Victoria, and looking past him,
"and Lieutenant Butzow! Where in the world did you come
from?"

"The world left us," replied the officer, smiling, "and we
have followed her to the wilds of Equatorial Africa."

"We found Nebraska a very tame place after you and Barney
left," explained Mr. Curtiss, "and when I discovered that
Butzow would accompany me we lost no time in following you,
and here we are throwing ourselves upon the mercy and
hospitality of Lady Greystoke."

"I have been trying to convince them," said that lady, who
had now joined the party at the foot of the veranda steps,
"that the obligation is all upon our side. It taxes our
ingenuity and the generosity of our friends to keep the
house even half full of congenial companions."

It was not until after dinner that night that Mr. William
Curtiss had an opportunity to draw Miss Victoria Custer away
from the others upon some more or less hazy pretext that he
might explain for her ears alone just why he had suddenly
found Beatrice, Nebraska, such a desolate place and had
realized that it was imperative to the salvation of his life
and happiness that he travel half way around the world in
search of a certain slender bit of femininity.

This usually self-possessed young man stammered and
hesitated like a bashful school boy speaking his Friday
afternoon piece; but finally he managed to expel from his
system, more or less coherently, the fact that he was very
much in love with Victoria Custer, and that he should never
again eat or sleep until she had promised to be his wife.

There was a strong appeal to the girl in the masterful thing
the man had done in searching her out in the wilds of Africa
to tell her of his love, for it seemed that he and Butzow
had forced their way with but a handful of carriers through
a very savage section of the savage jungle because it was
the shortest route from the coast to the Greystoke ranch.

Then there was that about him which appealed to the same
attribute of her nature to which the young giant of her
dreams appealed--a primitive strength and masterfulness that
left her both frightened and happily helpless in the
presence of both these strong loves, for the love of her
dream man was to Victoria Custer a real and living love.

Curtiss saw assent in the silence which followed his
outbreak, and taking advantage of this tacit encouragement,
he seized her hands in his and drew her toward him.

"Oh, Victoria," he whispered, "tell me that thing I wish to
hear from your dear lips. Tell me that even a tenth part of
my love is returned, and I shall be happy."

She looked up into his eyes, shining down upon her in the
moonlight, and on her lips trembled an avowal of the love
she honestly believed she could at last bestow upon the man
of her choice.  In the past few moments she had thrashed out
the question of that other, unreal and intangible love that
had held her chained to a dream for years, and in the cold
light of twentieth century American rationality she had
found it possible to put her hallucinations from her and
find happiness in the love of this very real and very
earnest young man.

"Billy," she said, "I," but she got no further.  Even as the
words that would have bound her to him were forming upon her
tongue there came a low sullen rumbling from the bowels of
the earth--the ground rose and fell beneath them as the
swell of the sea rises and falls. Then there came a violent
trembling and shaking and a final deafening crash in the
distance that might have accompanied the birth of mountain
ranges.

With a little moan of terror the girl drew away from
Curtiss, and then, before he could restrain her, she had
turned and fled toward the bungalow. At the veranda steps
she was met by the other members of the house party, and by
the Greystokes and numerous servants who had rushed out at
the first premonition of the coming shock.

Barney Custer saw his sister running toward the house, and
knowing her terror of such phenomena ran to meet her. Close
behind her came Curtiss, just in time to see the girl swoon
in her brother's arms. Barney carried her to her room, where
Lady Greystoke, abandoning the youthful "Jack" to his black
mammy, Esmeralda, ministered to her.




CHAPTER III



NU THE SLEEPER AWAKES


The shock that had been felt so plainly in the valley had
been much more severe in the mountains to the south.  In one
place an overhanging cliff had split and fallen away from
the face of the mountain, tumbling with a mighty roar into
the valley below. As it hurtled down the mountain side the
moonlight shining upon the fresh scar that it had left
behind it upon the hill's face revealed the mouth of a
gloomy cave from which there tumbled the inert figure of an
animal which rolled down the steep declivity in the wake of
the mass of rock that had preceded it--the tearing away of
which had opened up the cavern in which it had lain.

For a hundred feet perhaps the body rolled, coming to a stop
upon a broad ledge. For some time it lay perfectly
motionless, but at last a feeble movement of the limbs was
discernible. Then for another long period it was quiet.
Minutes dragged into hours and still the lonely thing lay
upon the mountain side, while upon the plain below it hungry
lions moaned and roared, and all the teeming life of the
savage wilds took up their search for food, their sleeping
and their love-making where they had dropped them in the
fright of the earthquake.

At last the stars paled and the eastern horizon glowed to a
new day, and then the thing upon the ledge sat up.  It was a
man.  Still partially dazed he drew his hand across his eyes
and looked about him in bewilderment.  Then, staggering a
little, he rose to his feet, and as he came erect, the new
sun shining on his bronzed limbs and his shock of black
hair, roughly cropped between sharpened stones, his youth
and beauty became startlingly apparent.

He looked about him upon the ground, and not finding that
which he sought turned his eyes upward toward the mountain
until they fell upon the cave mouth he had just quitted so
precipitately. Quickly he clambered back to the cavern, his
stone hatchet and knife beating against his bare hips as he
climbed.  For a moment he was lost to view within the cave,
but presently he emerged, in one hand a stone-tipped spear,
which seemed recently to have been broken and roughly
spliced with raw tendons, and in the other the severed head
of an enormous beast, which more nearly resembled the royal
tiger of Asia than it did any other beast, though that
resemblance was little closer than is the resemblance of the
Royal Bengal to a house kitten.

The young man was Nu, the son of Nu. For a hundred thousand
years he had lain hermetically sealed in his rocky tomb, as
toads remain in suspended animation for similar periods of
time.  The earthquake had unsealed his sepulcher, and the
rough tumble down the mountainside had induced respiration.
His heart had responded to the pumping of his lungs, and
simultaneously the other organs of his body had taken up
their various functions as though they had never ceased
functioning.

As he stood upon the threshold of the cave of Oo, the man
hunter, the look of bewilderment grew upon his features as
his. eyes roved over the panorama of the unfamiliar world
which lay spread below him.  There was scarce an object to
remind him of the world that had been but a brief instant
before, for Nu could not know that ages had rolled by since
he took hasty refuge in the lair of the great beast he had
slain.

He thought that he might be dreaming, and so he rubbed his
eyes and looked again; but still he saw the unfamiliar trees
and bushes about him and further down in the valley the odd
appearing vegetation of the jungle.  Nu could not fathom the
mystery of it.  Slowly he stepped from the cave and began
the descent toward the valley, for he was very thirsty and
very hungry. Below him he saw animals grazing upon the broad
plain, but even at that distance he realized that they were
such as no mortal eye had ever before rested upon.

Warily he advanced, every sense alert against whatever new
form of danger might lurk in this strange, new world. Had he
had any conception of a life after death he would doubtless
have felt assured that the earthquake had killed him and
that he was now wandering through the heavenly vale; but the
men of Nu's age had not yet conceived any sort of religion,
other than a vague fear of certain natural phenomena such as
storms and earthquakes, the movements of the sun and moon,
and those familiar happenings which first awake the
questionings of the primitive.

He saw the sun; but to him it was a different sun from the
great, swollen orb that had shone through the thick, humid
atmosphere of the Niocene. From Oo's lair only the day
before he had been able to see in the distance the shimmering
surface of the restless sea; but now as far as eye could
reach there stretched an interminable jungle of gently waving
tree tops, except for the rolling plain at his feet where
yesterday the black jungle of the ape-people had reared
its lofty fronds.

Nu shook his head.  It was all quite beyond him; but there
were certain things which he could comprehend, and so, after
the manner of the self-reliant, he set about to wrest his
livelihood from nature under the new conditions which had
been imposed upon him while he slept.

First of all his spear must be attended to. It would never
do to trust to that crude patch longer than it would take
him to find and fit a new haft. His meat must Wait until
that thing was accomplished. In the meantime he might pick
up what fruit was available in the forest toward which he
was bending his steps in search of a long, straight shoot of
the hard wood which alone would meet his requirements. In
the days that had been Nu's there had grown in isolated
patches a few lone clumps of very straight, hard-wood trees.
The smaller of these the men of the tribe would cut down and
split lengthways with stone wedges until from a single tree
they might have produced material for a score or more spear
shafts; but now Nu must see the very smallest of saplings,
for he had no time to waste in splitting a larger tree, even
had he had the necessary wedges and hammers.

Into the forest the youth crept, for though a hundred
thousand years had elapsed since his birth he was still to
all intent and purpose a youth. Upon all sides he saw
strange and wonderful trees, the likes of which had never
been in the forests of yesterday.  The growths were not so
luxuriant or prodigious, but for the most part the trees
offered suggestions of alluring possibilities to the
semiarboreal Nu, for the branches were much heavier and more
solid than those of the great tree-ferns of his own epoch,
and commenced much nearer the ground. Cat-like he leaped
into the lower branches of them, reveling in the ease with
which he could travel from tree to tree.

Gay colored birds of strange appearance screamed and scolded
at him.  Little monkeys hurried, chattering, from his path.
Nu laughed. What a quaint, diminutive world it was indeed!
Nowhere had he yet seen a tree or creature that might
compare in size to the monsters among which he had traveled
the preceding day.

The fruits, too, were small and strange.  He scarcely dared
venture to eat of them lest they be poisonous. If the lesser
ape folk would only let him come close enough to speak with
them he might ascertain from them which were safe, but for
some unaccountable reason they seemed to fear and mistrust
him.  This above all other considerations argued to Nu that
he had come in some mysterious way into another world.

Presently the troglodyte discovered a slender, straight
young sapling. He came to the ground and tested its strength
by bending it back and forth. Apparently it met the
requirements of a new shaft. With his stone hatchet he hewed
it off close to the ground, stripped it of branches, and
climbing to the safety of the trees again, where he need
fear no interruption from the huge monsters of the world he
knew, set to work with his stone knife to remove the bark
and shape the end to receive his spear head.  First he split
it down the center for four or five inches, and then he cut
notches in the surface upon either side of the split
portion. Now he carefully unwraps the rawhide that binds the
spear head into his old haft, and for want of water to
moisten it, crams the whole unfragrant mass into his mouth
that it may be softened by warmth and saliva.  For several
minutes he busies himself in shaping the point of the new
shaft that it may exactly fit the inequalities in the shank
of the spear head. By the time this is done the rawhide has
been sufficiently moistened to permit him to wind it tightly
about the new haft into which he has set the spear head.

As he works he hears the noises of the jungle about him.
There are many familiar voices, but more strange ones. Not
once has the cave bear spoken; nor Zor, the mighty lion of
the Niocene; nor Oo, the saber-toothed tiger.  He misses the
bellowing of the bull bos, and the hissing and whistling of
monster saurian and amphibian. To Nu it seems a silent
world. Propped against the bole of the tree before him grins
the hideous head of Oo, the man hunter, the only familiar
object in all this strange, curiously changed world about
him.

Presently he becomes aware that the lesser apes are creeping
warily closer to have a better look at him. He waits
silently until from the tail of his eye he glimpses one
quite near, and then in a low voice he speaks in the
language that his allies of yesterday understood, and though
ages had elapsed since that long gone day the little monkey
above him understood, for the language of the apes can never
change.

"Why do you fear Nu, the son of Nu?" asked the man.  "When
has he ever harmed the ape-people?"

"The hairless ones kill us with sharp sticks that fly
through the air," replied the monkey; "or with little sticks
that make a great noise and kill us from afar; but you seem
not to be of these. We have never seen one like you until
now. Do you not wish to kill us?"

"Why should I?" replied Nu. "It is better that we be
friends. All that I wish of you is that you tell me which of
the fruits that grow here be safe for me to eat, and then
direct me to the sea beside which dwell the tribe of Nu, my
father."

The monkeys had gathered in force by this time, seeing that
the strange white ape offered no harm to their fellows and
when they learned his wants they scampered about in all
directions to gather nuts and fruits and berries for him. It
is true that some of them forgot what they had intended
doing before the task was half completed, and ended by
pulling one another's tails and frolicking among the higher
branches, or else ate the fruit they had gone to gather for
their new friend; but a few there were with greater powers
of concentration than their fellows who returned with fruit
and berries and caterpillars, all of which Nu devoured with
the avidity of the half-famished.

Of the whereabouts of the tribe of his father they could
tell him nothing, for they had never heard of such a people,
or of the great sea beside which he told them that his
people dwelt.

His breakfast finished, and his spear repaired Nu set out
toward the plain to bring down one of the beasts he had seen
grazing there, for his stomach called aloud for flesh.
Fruit and bugs might be all right for children and ape-
people; but a full grown man must have meat, warm and red
and dripping.

Closest to him as he emerged from the jungle browsed a small
herd of zebra. They were directly up wind, and between him
and them were patches of tall grass and clumps of trees
scattered about the surface of the plain. Nu wondered at the
strange beasts, admiring their gaudy markings as he came
closer to them. Upon the edge of the herd nearest him a
plump stallion stood switching his tail against the annoying
flies, occasionally raising his head from his feeding to
search the horizon for signs of danger, sniffing the air for
the tell-tale scent of an enemy. It was he that Nu selected
for his prey.

Stealthily the cave man crept through the tall grass, scarce
a blade moving to the sinuous advance of his sleek body.
Within fifty feet of the zebra Nu stopped, for the stallion
was giving evidence of restlessness, as though sensing
intuitively the near approach of a foe he could neither see,
nor hear, nor smell.

The man, still prone upon his belly, drew his spear into the
throwing grasp. With utmost caution he wormed his legs
beneath him, and then, like lightning and all with a single
movement, he leaped to his feet and cast the stone-tipped
weapon at his quarry.

With a snort of terror the stallion reared to plunge away,
but the spear had found the point behind his shoulder even
as he saw the figure of the man arise from the tall grasses,
and as the balance of the herd galloped madly off, their
leader pitched headlong to the earth.

Nu ran forward with ready knife, but the animal was dead
before he reached its side--the great spear had passed
through its heart and was protruding upon the opposite side
of the body. The man removed the weapon, and with his knife
cut several long strips of meat from the plump haunches.

Ever and anon he raised his head to scan the plain and
jungle for evidences of danger, sniffing the breeze just as
had the stallion he had killed. His work was but partially
completed when he caught the scent of man yet a long way
off. He knew that he could not be mistaken, yet never had he
sensed so strange an odor.  There were men coming, he knew,
but of the other odors that accompanied them he could make
nothing, for khaki and guns and sweaty saddle blankets and
the stench of tanned leather were to Nu's nostrils as Greek
would have been to his ears.

It would be best thought Nu to retreat to the safety of the
forest until he could ascertain the number and kind of
beings that were approaching, and so, taking but careless
advantage of the handier shelter, the cave man sauntered
toward the forest, for now he was not stalking game, and
never yet had he shown fear in the presence of an enemy.  If
their numbers were too great for him to cope with single
handed he would not show himself; but none might ever say
that he had seen Nu, the son of Nu, run away from danger.

In his hand still swung the head of Oo, and as the man
leaped to the low branches of a tree at the jungle's edge to
spy upon the men he knew to be advancing from the far side
of the plain, he fell to wondering how he was to find his
way back to Nat-ul that he might place the trophy at her
feet and claim her as his mate.

Only the previous evening they had walked together hand in
hand along the beach, and now he had not the remotest
conception of where that beach lay. Straight across the
plain should be the direction of it, for from that direction
had he come to find the lair of Oo!  But now all was
changed. There was no single familiar landmark to guide him,
not even the ape-people knew of any sea nearby, and he
himself had no conception as to whether he was in the same
world that he had traversed when last the sun shone upon
him.




CHAPTER IV



THE MYSTERIOUS HUNTER


The morning following the earthquake found Victoria Custer
still confined to her bed. She told Lady Greystoke that she
felt weak from the effects of the nervous shock; but the
truth of the matter was that she dreaded to meet Curtiss and
undergo the ordeal which she knew confronted her.

How was she to explain to him the effect that the
subterranean rumblings and the shaking of the outer crust
had had upon her and her sentiments toward him? When her
brother came in to see her she drew his head down upon the
pillow beside hers and whispered something of the terrible
hallucinations that had haunted her since the previous
evening.

"Oh, Barney," she cried, "what can it be? What can it be?
The first deep grumblings that preceded the shock seemed to
awake me as from a lethargy, and as plainly as I see you
beside me now, I saw the half naked creature of my dreams,
and when I saw him I knew that I could never wed Mr. Curtiss
or any other--it is awful to have to admit it even to you,
Barney, but I--I knew when I saw him that I loved him--that
I was his. Not his wife, Barney, but his woman--his mate,
and I had to fight with myself to keep from rushing out into
the terrible blackness of the night to throw myself into his
arms. It was then that I managed to control myself long
enough to run to you, where I fainted. And last night, in my
dreams, I saw him again,--alone and lonely, searching
through a strange and hostile world to find and claim me.

"You cannot know, Barney, how real he is to me.  It is not
as other dreams, but instead I really see him--the satin
texture of his smooth, bronzed skin; the lordly poise of his
perfect head; the tousled shock of coal black hair that I
have learned to love and through which I know I have run my
fingers as he stooped to kiss me.

"He carries a great spear, stone-tipped--I should know it
the moment that I saw it--and a knife and hatchet of the
same flinty material, and in his left hand he bears the
severed head of a mighty beast.

"He is a noble figure, but of another world or of another
age; and somewhere he wanders so lonely and alone that my
heart weeps at the thought of him.  Oh, Barney, either he is
true and I shall find him, or I am gone mad. Tell me Barney,
for the love of heaven you believe that I am sane."

Barney Custer drew his sister's face close to his and kissed
her tenderly.

"Of course you're sane, Vic," he reassured her.  "You've
just allowed that old dream of yours to become a sort of
obsession with you, and now it's gotten on your nerves until
you are commencing to believe it even against your better
judgment. Take a good grip on yourself, get up and join
Curtiss in a long ride. Have it out with him. Tell him just
what you have told me, and then tell him you'll marry him,
and I'll warrant that you'll be dreaming about him instead
of that young giant that you have stolen out of some fairy
tale."

"I'll get up and take a ride, Barney," replied the girl;
"but as for marrying Mr. Curtiss--well, I'll have to think
it over."

But after all she did not join the party that was riding
toward the hills that morning, for the thought of seeing the
torn and twisted strata of a bygone age that lifted its
scarred head above the surface of the plain at the base of
the mountains was more than she felt equal to. They did not
urge her, and as she insisted that Mr. Curtiss accompany the
other men she was left alone at the bungalow with Lady
Greystoke, the baby and the servants.

As the party trotted across the rolling land that stretched
before them to the foothills they sighted a herd of zebras
coming toward them in mad stampede.

"Something is hunting ahead of us," remarked one of the men.

"We may get a shot at a lion from the looks of it," replied
another.

A short distance further on they came upon the carcass of a
zebra stallion. Barney and Butzow dismounted to examine it
in an effort to determine the nature of the enemy that had
dispatched it.  At the first glance Barney called to one of
the other members of the party, an experienced big game
hunter.

"What do you make of this, Brown," he asked, pointing to the
exposed haunch.

"It is a man's kill," replied the other. "look at that
gaping hole over the heart, that would tell the story were
it not for the evidence of the knife that cut away these
strips from the rump. The carcass is still warm--the kill
must have been made within the past few minutes.

"Then it couldn't have been a man," spoke up another, "or we
should have heard the shot. Wait, here's Greystoke, let's
see what he thinks of it"

The ape man, who had been riding a couple hundred yards in
rear of the others with one of the older men, now reined in
close to the dead zebra.

"What have we here?" he asked, swinging from his saddle.

"Brown says this looks like the kill of a man," said Barney;
"but none of us heard any shot."

Tarzan grasped the zebra by a front and hind pastern and
rolled him over upon his other side.

"It went way through, whatever it was," said Butzow, as the
hole behind this shoulder was exposed to view.  "Must have
been a bullet even if we didn't hear the report of the gun."

"I'm not so sure of that," said Tarzan, and then he glanced
casually at the ground about the carcass, and bending lower
brought his sensitive nostrils close to the mutilated haunch
and then to the tramped grasses at the zebra's side. When he
straightened up the others looked at him questioningly.

"A man," he said--"a white man, has been here since the
zebra died.  He cut these steaks from the haunches.  There
is not the slightest odor of gun powder about the wound--it
was not made by a powder-sped projectile. It is too large
arid too deep for an arrow wound.  The only other weapon
that could have inflicted it is a spear; but to cast a spear
entirely through the carcass of a zebra at the distance to
which a man could approach one in the open presupposes a
mightiness of muscle and an accuracy of aim little short of
superhuman."

"And you think--?" commenced Brown.

"I think nothing," interrupted Tarzan, "except that my
judgment tells me that my senses are in error--there is no
naked, white giant hunting through the country of the
Waziri.  Come, let's ride on to the hills and see if we
can't locate the old villain who has been stealing my sheep.
From his spoor I'll venture to say that when we bring him
down we shall see the largest lion that any of us has ever
seen."




CHAPTER V



THE WATCHER


As THE party remounted and rode away toward the foothills
two wondering black eyes watched them from the safety of the
jungle.  Nu was utterly non-plussed. What sort of men were
these who rode upon beasts the like of which Nu had never
dreamed? At first he thought their pith helmets and khaki
clothing a part of them; but when one of them removed his
helmet and another unbuttoned his jacket Nu saw that they
were merely coverings for the head and body, though why men
should wish to hamper themselves with such foolish and
cumbersome contraptions the troglodyte could not imagine.

As the party rode toward the foothills Nu paralleled them,
keeping always down wind from them.  He followed them all
day during their fruitless search for the lion that had been
entering Greystoke's compound and stealing his sheep, and as
they retraced their way toward the bungalow late in the
afternoon Nu followed after them.

Never in his life had he been so deeply interested in
anything as he was in these strange creatures, and when,
half way across the plain, the party came unexpectedly upon
a band of antelope grazing in a little hollow and Nu heard
the voice of one of the little black sticks the men carried
and saw a buck leap into the air and then come heavily to
the ground quite dead, deep respect was added to his
interest, and possibly a trace of awe as well--fear he knew
not.

In a clump of bushes a quarter of a mile from the bungalow
Nu came to a halt. The strange odors that assailed his
nostrils as he approached the ranch warned him to caution.
The black servants and the Waziri warriors, some of whom
were always visiting their former chief, presented to Nu's
nostrils an unfamiliar scent--one which made the black shock
upon his head stiffen as you have seen the hair upon the
neck of a white man's hound stiffen when for the first time
his nose detects the odor of an Indian.  And, half smothered
in the riot of more powerful odors, there came to Nu's
nostrils now and then a tantalizing suggestion of a faint
aroma that set his heart to pounding and the red blood
coursing through his veins.

Never did it abide for a sufficient time to make Nu quite
sure that it was more than a wanton trick of his senses--the
result of the great longing that was in his lonely heart for
her whom this ephemeral and elusive effluvium proclaimed.
As darkness came he approached closer to the bungalow,
always careful, however, to keep down wind from it.

Through the windows he could see people moving about within
the lighted interior, but he was not close enough to
distinguish features. He saw men and women sitting about a
long table, eating with strange weapons upon which they
impaled tiny morsels of food which lay upon round, flat
stones before them.

There was much laughter and talking, which floated through
the open windows to the cave man's eager ears; but
throughout it all there came to him no single word which he
could interpret. After these men and women had eaten they
came out and sat in the shadows before the entrance to their
strange cave, and here again they laughed and chattered, for
all the world, thought Nu, like the ape-people; and yet,
though it was different from the ways of his own people the
troglodyte could not help but note within his own breast a
strange yearning to take part in it--a longing for the
company of these strange, new people.

He had crept quite close to the veranda now, and presently
there floated down to him upon the almost stagnant air a
subtle exhalation that is not precisely scent, and for which
the languages of modern men have no expression since men
themselves have no powers of perception which may grasp it;
but to Nu of the Niocene it carried as clear and
unmistakable a message as could word of mouth, and it told
him that Nat-ul, the daughter of Tha, sat among these
strange people before the entrance to their wonderful cave.

And yet Nu could not believe the evidence of his own senses.
What could Nat-ul be doing among such as these? How, between
two suns, could she have learned the language and the ways
of these strangers?  It was impossible; and then a man upon
the veranda, who sat close beside Victoria Custer, struck a
match to light a cigarette, and the flare of the blaze lit
up the girl's features. At the sight of them the cave man
involuntarily sprang to his feet. A half smothered
exclamation broke from his lips: "Nat-ul!"

"What was that?" exclaimed Barney Custer. "I thought I heard
some one speak out there near the rose bushes."

He rose as though to investigate, but his sister laid her
hand upon his arm.

"Don't go, Barney," she whispered.

He turned toward her with a questioning look.

"Why?" he asked. "There is no danger. Did you not hear it,
too?"

"Yes," she answered in a low voice, "I heard it, Barney--
please don't leave me."

He felt the trembling of her hand where it rested upon his
sleeve.  One of the other men heard the conversation, but of
course he could not guess that it carried any peculiar
significance--it was merely an expression of the natural
timidity of the civilized white woman in the midst of the
savage African night.

"It's nothing, Miss Custer," he said.  "I'll just walk down
there to reassure you--a prowling hyena, perhaps, but
nothing more."

The girl would have been glad to deter him, but she felt
that she had already evinced more perturbation than the
occasion warranted, and so she but forced a laugh, remarking
that it was not at all worth while, yet in her ears rang the
familiar name that had so often fallen from the lips of her
dream man.

When one of the others suggested that the investigator had
better take an express rifle with him on the chance that the
intruder might be "old Raffles," the sheep thief, the girl
started up as though to object but realizing how ridiculous
such an attitude would be, and how impossible to explain,
she turned instead and entered the house.

Several of the men walked down into the garden, but though
they searched for the better part of half an hour they came
upon no indication that any savage beast was nearby.  Always
in front of them a silent figure moved just outside the
range of their vision, and when they returned again to the
veranda it took up its position once more behind the rose
bushes, nor until all had entered the bungalow and sought
their beds did the figure stir.

Nu was hungry again, and knowing no law of property rights
he found the odor of the Greystoke sheep as appetizing as
that of any other of the numerous creatures that were penned
within their compounds for the night.  Like a supple panther
the man scaled the high fence that guarded the imported,
pedigreed stock in which Lord Greystoke took such just
pride.  A moment later there was the frightened rush of
animals to the far side of the enclosure, where they halted
to turn fear filled eyes back toward the silent beast of
prey that crouched over the carcass of a plump ewe. Within
the pen Nu ate his fill, and then, cat-like as he had come,
he glided back stealthily toward the garden before the
darkened bungalow.

Out across the plain, down wind from Nu, another silent
figure moved stealthily toward the ranch. It was a huge,
maned lion.  Every now and then he would halt and lift his
sniffing nose to the gentle breeze, and his lips would lift
baring the mighty fangs beneath, but no sound came from his
deep throat, for he was old, and his wisdom was as the
wisdom of the fox.

Once upon a time he would have coughed and moaned and roared
after the manner of his hungry brethren, but much experience
with men-people and their deafening thunder sticks had
taught him that he hunted longest who hunted in silence.




CHAPTER VI



NU AND THE LION


Victoria Custer had gone to her room much earlier in the
evening than was her custom, but not to sleep.  She did not
even disrobe, but sat instead in the darkness beside her
window looking out toward the black and mysterious jungle in
the distance, and the shadowy outlines of the southern
hills.

She was trying to fight down forever the foolish obsession
that had been growing upon her slowly and insidiously for
years.  Since the first awakening of developing womanhood
within her she had been subject to the strange dream that
was now becoming an almost nightly occurrence. At first she
had thought nothing of it, other than it was odd that she
should continue to dream the same thing so many times; but
of late these nightly visions had seemed to hold more of
reality than formerly, and to presage some eventful
happening in her career--some crisis that was to alter the
course of her life. Even by day she could not rid herself of
the vision of the black haired young giant, and tonight the
culmination had come when she had heard his voice calling so
her from the rose thicket. She knew that he was but a
creature of her dreams, and it was this knowledge which
frightened her so--for it meant but one thing; her mind was
tottering beneath the burden of the nervous strain these
hallucinations had imposed upon it.

She must gather all the resources of her nervous energy and
throw off this terrible obsession forever. She must! She
must! Rising, the girl paced back and forth the length of
her room. She felt stifled and confined within its narrow
limits.  Outside, beneath the open sky, with no boundaries
save the distant horizon was the place best fitted for such
a battle as was raging within her.  Snatching up a silken
scarf she threw it about her shoulders--a concession to
habit, for the night was hot--and stepping through her
window to the porch that encircled the bungalow she passed
on into the garden.

Just around the nearest angle of the house her brother and
Billy Curtiss sat smoking before the window of their
bedroom, clad in pajamas and slippers.  Curtiss was cleaning
the rifle he had used that day--the same that he had carried
into the rose garden earlier in the evening. Neither heard
the girl's light footsteps upon the sward, and the corner of
the building hid her from their view.

In the open moonlight beside the rose thicket Victoria
Custer paced back and forth. A dozen times she reached a
determination to seek the first opportunity upon the morrow
to give Billy Curtiss an affirmative answer to the question
he had asked her the night before--the night of the
earthquake; but each time that she thought she had disposed
of the matter definitely she found herself involuntarily
comparing him with the heroic figure of her dream-man, and
again she must need rewage her battle.

As she walked in the moonlight two pair of eyes watched her
every movement--one pair, clear, black eyes, from the rose
thicket--the other flaming yellow-green orbs hidden in a
little clump of bushes at the point where she turned in her
passing to retrace her steps--at the point farthest from the
watcher among the roses.

Twenty times Nu was on the point of leaping from his
concealment and taking the girl in his arms, for to him she
was Nat-ul, daughter of Tha, and it had not been a hundred
thousand years, but only since the day before yesterday that
he had last seen her. Yet each time something deterred him--
a strange, vague, indefinable fear of this wondrous creature
who was Nat-ul, and yet who was not Nat-ul, but another made
in Nat-ul's image.

The strange things that covered her fair form seemed to have
raised a barrier between them--the last time that he had
walked hand in hand with her upon the beach naught but a
soft strip of the skin of a red doe's calf had circled her
gracefully undulating hips.  Her familiar association, too,
with these strange people, coupled with the fact that she
spoke and understood their language only tended to remove
her further from him. Nu was very sad, and very lonely; and
the sight of Nat-ul seemed to accentuate rather than relieve
his depression.  Slowly there was born within him the
conviction that Nat-ul was no longer for Nu, the son of Nu.
Why, he could not guess; but the bitter fact seemed
irrevocable.

The girl had turned quite close to him now, and was
retracing her steps toward the bushes twenty yards away.
Behind their screening verdure "old Raffles" twitched his
tufted tail and drew his steel thewed legs beneath him for
the spring, and as he waited just the faintest of purrs
escaped his slavering jowls. Too faint the sound to pierce
the dulled senses of the twentieth century maiden; but to
the man hiding in the rose thicket twenty paces further from
the lion than she it fell deep and sinister upon his
unspoiled ear.

Like a bolt of lightning--so quickly his muscles responded
to his will--the cave man hurtled the intervening rose
bushes with a single bound, and, raised spear in hand,
bounded after the unconscious girl. The great lion saw him
coming, and lest he be cheated of his prey leaped into the
moonlight before his intended victim was quite within the
radius of his spring.

The beast emitted a horrid roar that froze the girl with
terror, and then in the face of his terrific charge the
figure of a naked giant leaped past her. She saw a great
arm, wielding a mighty spear, hurl the weapon at the
infuriated beast--and then she swooned.

As the savage note of the lion's roar broke the stillness of
the quiet night Curtiss and Barney Custer sprang to their
feet, running toward the side of the bungalow from which the
sound had come.  Curtiss grasped the rifle he had but just
reloaded, and as he turned the corner of the building he
caught one fleeting glimpse of something moving near the
bushes fifty yards away.  Raising his weapon he fired.

The whole household had been aroused by the lion's deep
voice and the answering boom of the big rifle, so that
scarcely a minute after Barney and Curtiss reached the side
of the prostrate girl a score of white men and black were
gathered about them.

The dead body of a huge lion lay scarce twenty feet from
Victoria Custer, but a hurried examination of the girl
brought unutterable relief to them all, for she was
uninjured. Barney lifted her in his arms and carried her to
her room while the others examined the dead beast.  From the
center of the breast a wooden shaft protruded, and when they
had drawn this out, and it required the united efforts of
four strong men to do it, they found that a stone-tipped
spear had passed straight through the savage heart almost
the full length of the brute's body.

"The zebra killer," said Brown to Greystoke. The latter
nodded his head.

"We must find him," he said.  "He has rendered us a great
service.  But for him Miss Custer would not be alive now;"
but though twenty men scouted the grounds and the plain
beyond for several hours no trace of the killer of "old
Raffles" could be found, and the reason that they did not
find him abroad was because he lay directly beneath their
noses in a little clump of low, flowering shrubs, with a
bullet wound in his head.




CHAPTER VII



VICTORIA OBEYS THE CALL


The next morning the men were examining the stone headed
spear upon the veranda just outside the breakfast room.

"It's the oddest thing of its kind I ever saw," said
Greystoke. "I can almost swear that it was never made by any
of the tribesmen of present day Africa.  I once saw several
similar heads, though, in the British Museum.  They had been
taken from the debris of a prehistoric cave dwelling."

From the window of the breakfast room just behind them a
wide eyed girl was staring in breathless wonderment at the
rude weapon, which to her presented concrete evidence of the
reality of the thing she had thought but another
hallucination--the leaping figure of the naked man that had
sprung past her into the face of the charging lion an
instant before she had swooned. One of the men turned and
saw her standing there.

"Ah, Miss Custer," he exclaimed; "no worse off this morning
I see for your little adventure of last night. Here's a
memento that your rescuer left behind him in the heart of
'old Raffles.' Would you like it?"

The girl stepped forward hiding her true emotions behind the
mask of a gay smile. She took the spear of Nu, the son of
Nu, in her hands, and her heart leaped in half savage pride
as she felt the weight of the great missile.

"What a man he must be who wields such a mighty weapon!" she
exclaimed. Barney Custer was watching his sister closely,
for with the discovery of the spear in the lion's body had
come the sudden recollection of Victoria's description of
her dream-man--" He carries a great spear, stone-tipped--I
should know it the moment that I saw it."

The young man stepped to his sister's side, putting an arm
about her shoulders. She looked up into his face, and then
in a low voice that was not audible to the others she
whispered: "It is his, Barney.  I knew that I should know
it."

For some time the young man had been harassed by fears as to
his sister's sanity. Now he was forced to entertain fears of
an even more sinister nature, or else admit that he too had
gone mad.  If he were sane, then it was God's truth that
somewhere in this savage land a savage white man roamed in
search of Victoria. Now that he had found her would he not
claim her? He shuddered at the thought. He must do something
to avert a tragedy, and he must act at once.  He drew Lord
Greystoke to one side.

"Victoria and I must leave at once," he said. "The nervous
strain of the earthquake and this last adventure have told
upon her to such an extent that I fear we may have a very
sick girl upon our hands if I do not get her back to
civilization and home as quickly as possible."

Greystoke did not attempt to offer any remonstrances. He,
too, felt that it would be best for Miss Custer to go home.
He had noted her growing nervousness with increasing
apprehension.  It was decided that they should leave on the
morrow. There were fifty black carriers anxious to return to
the coast, and Butzow and Curtiss readily signified their
willingness to accompany the Nebraskan and his sister.

As he was explaining his decision to Victoria a black
servant came excitedly to Lord Greystoke. He told of the
finding of a dead ewe in the compound. The animal's neck had
been broken, the man said, and several strips of meat cut
from its haunches with a knife.  Beside it in the soft mud
of the enclosure the prints of an unshod human foot were
plainly in evidence.

Greystoke smiled.  "The zebra killer again," he said. "Well,
he is welcome to all he can eat."

Before he had finished speaking, Brown, who had been nosing
around in the garden, called to him from a little clump of
bushes beside the spot where the lion's body had lain.

"Look here, Clayton," he called. "Here's something we
overlooked in the darkness last night."

The men upon the veranda followed Greystoke to the garden.
Behind them came Victoria Custer, drawn as though by a
magnet to the spot where they had gathered.

In the bushes was a little pool of dried blood, and where
the earth near the roots was free from sod there were
several impressions of a bare foot.

"He must have been wounded," exclaimed Brown, "by Curtiss's
shot.  I doubt if the lion touched him--the beast must have
died instantly the spear entered its heart.  But where can
he have disappeared to?"

Victoria Custer was examining the grass a little distance
beyond the bushes.  She saw what the others failed to see--a
drop of blood now and then leading away in the direction of
the mountains to the south. At the sight of it a great
compassion welled in her heart for the lonely, wounded man
who had saved her life and then staggered, bleeding, toward
the savage wilderness from which he had come. It seemed to
her that somewhere out there he was calling to her now, and
that she must go.

She did not call the attention of the others to her
discovery, and presently they all returned to the veranda,
where Barney again took up the discussion of their plans for
tomorrow's departure. The girl interposed no objections.
Barney was delighted to see that she was apparently as
anxious to return home as he was to have her--he had feared
a flat refusal.

Barney had wanted to get a buffalo bull before he left, and
when one of the Waziri warriors brought word that morning
that there was a splendid herd a few miles north of the
ranch, Victoria urged him to accompany the other men upon
the hunt.

"I'll attend to the balance of the packing," she said.
"There's not the slightest reason in the world why you
shouldn't go."

And so he went, and Victoria busied herself in the gathering
together of the odds and ends of their personal belongings.
All morning the household was alive with its numerous
duties, but after luncheon while the heat of the day was
greatest the bungalow might have been entirely deserted for
any sign of life that there was about it. Lady Greystoke was
taking her siesta, as were practically all of the servants.
Victoria Custer had paused in her work to gaze out of her
window toward the distant hills far to the south.  At her
side, nosing his muzzle into her palm, stood one of Lord
Greystoke's great wolfhounds, Terkoz.  He had taken a great
fancy to Victoria Custer from the first and whenever
permitted to do so remained close beside her.

The girl's heart filled with a great longing as she looked
wistfully out toward the hills that she had so feared
before.  She feared them still, yet something there called
her.  She tried to fight against the mad desire with every
ounce of her reason, but she was fighting against an
unreasoning instinct that was far stronger than any argument
she could bring to bear against it.

Presently the hound's cold muzzle brought forth an idea in
her mind, and with it she cast aside the last semblance of
attempted restraint upon her mad desire.  Seizing her rifle
and ammunition belt she moved noiselessly into the veranda.
There she found a number of leashes hanging from a peg. One
of these she snapped to the hound's collar. Unseen, she
crossed the garden to the little patch of bushes where the
dried blood was.  Here she gathered up some of the brown
stained earth and held it close to Terkoz's nose.  Then she
put her finger to the ground where the trail of blood led
away toward the south.

"Here, Terkoz!" she whispered.

The beast gave a low growl as the scent of the new blood
filled his nostrils, and with nose close to ground started
off, tugging upon the leash, in the direction of the
mountains upon the opposite side of the plain.

Beside him walked the girl, across her shoulder was slung a
modern big game rifle, and in her left hand swung the stone-
tipped spear of the savage mate she sought.

What motive prompted her act she did not even pause to
consider.  The results she gave not the slightest thought.
It seemed the most natural thing in the world that she
should be seeking this lonely, wounded man.  Her place was
at his side.  He needed her--that was enough for her to
know.  She was no longer the pampered, petted child of an
effete civilization. That any metamorphosis had taken place
within her she did not dream, nor is it certain that any
change had occurred, for who may say that it is such a far
step from one incarnation to another however many countless
years of man-measured time may have intervened?

Darkness had fallen upon the plain and the jungle and the
mountain, and still Terkoz forged ahead, nose to ground, and
beside him moved the slender figure of the graceful girl.
Now the roar of a distant lion came faintly to her ears,
answered, quite close, by the moaning of another--a sound
that is infinitely more weird and terrifying than the deeper
throated challenge.  The cough of the leopard and the
uncanny "laughter" of hyenas added their evidence that the
night-prowling carnivora were abroad.

The hair along the wolfhound's spine stiffened in a little
ridge of bristling rage.  The girl unslung her rifle,
shifting the leash to the hand that carried the heavy spear
of the troglodyte; but she was unafraid.  Suddenly, just
before her, a little band of antelope sprang from the grass
in startled terror--there was a hideous roar, and a great
body hurtled through the air to alight upon the rump of the
hindmost of the herd.  A single scream of pain and terror
from the stricken animal, a succession of low growls and the
sound of huge jaws crunching through flesh and bone, and
then silence.

The girl made a slight detour to avoid the beast and its
kill, passing a hundred yards above them. In the moonlight
the lion saw her and the hound.  Standing across his fallen
prey, his flaming eyes glaring at the intruders, he rumbled
his deep warning to them; but Victoria, dragging the
growling Terkoz, after her, passed on and the king of beasts
turned to his feast.

It was fifteen minutes before Terkoz could relocate the
trail, and then the two took up their lonely way once more.
Into the foothills past the tortured strata of an ancient
age it wound. At sight of the naked rock the girl shuddered,
yet on and up she went until Terkoz halted, bristling and
growling, before the inky entrance to a gloomy cave.

Holding the beast back Victoria peered within. Her eyes
could not penetrate the Stygian darkness. Here, evidently,
the trail ended, but of a sudden it occurred to her that she
had only surmised that the bloody spoor they had been
following was that of the man she sought.  It was almost
equally as probable that Curtiss's shot had struck "old
Raffles"' mate and that after all she had followed the blood
of a wounded lioness to the creature's rocky lair.

Bending low she listened, and at last there came to her ears
a sound as of a body moving, and then heavy breathing, and a
sigh.

"Nu!" she whispered.  "Is it you? I have come," nor did it
seem strange to her that she spoke in a strange tongue, no
word of which she had ever heard in all her life before. For
a moment there was silence, and then, weakly, from the
depths of the cave a voice replied.

"Nat-ul!" It was barely a whisper.

Quickly the girl groped her way into the cavern, feeling
before her with her hands, until she came to the prostrate
form of a man lying upon the cold, hard rock. With
difficulty she kept the growling wolfhound from his throat.
Terkoz had found the prey that he had tracked, and he could
not understand why he should not now allowed to make the
kill; but he was a well-trained beast, and at last at the
girl's command he took up a position at the cave's mouth on
guard.

Victoria kneeled beside the prostrate form of Nu, the son of
Nu; but she was no longer Victoria Custer. It was Nat-ul,
the daughter of Tha, who kneeled there beside the man she
loved. Gently she passed her slim fingers across his
forehead--it was burning with a raging fever. She felt the
wound along the side of his head and shuddered. Then she
raised him in her arms so that his head was pillowed in her
lap, and stooping kissed his cheek.

Half way down the mountain side, she recalled, there was a
little spring of fresh, cold water. Removing her hunting
jacket she rolled it into a pillow for the unconscious man,
and then with Terkoz at her side clambered down the rocky
way. Filling her hat with water she returned to the cave.
All night she bathed the fevered head, and washed the ugly
wound, at times squeezing a few refreshing drops between the
hot lips.

At last the restless tossing of the wounded man ceased, and
the girl saw that he had fallen into a natural sleep, and
that the fever had abated. When the first rays of the rising
sun relieved the gloom within the cavern Terkoz, rising to
stretch himself, looked backward into the interior. He saw a
blackhaired giant sleeping quietly, his head pillowed upon a
khaki hunting coat, and beside him sat the girl, her
loosened hair tumbled about her shoulders and over the
breast of the sleeping man upon which her own tired head had
dropped in the sleep of utter exhaustion. Terkoz yawned and
lay down again.




CHAPTER VIII



CAPTURED BY ARABS


After a time the girl awoke. For a few minutes she could not
assure herself of the reality of her surroundings.  She
thought that this was but another of her dreams.  Gently she
put out her hand and touched the face of the sleeper. It was
very real.  Also she noted that the fever had left.  She sat
in silence for a few minutes attempting to adjust herself to
the new and strange conditions which surrounded her.  She
seemed to be two people--the American girl, Victoria Custer,
and Nat-ul; but who or from where was Nat-ul she could not
fathom, other than that she was beloved by Nu and that she
returned his love.

She wondered that she did not regret the life of ease she
had abandoned, and which she knew that she could never again
return to. She was still sufficiently of the twentieth
century to realize that the step she had taken must cut her
off forever from her past life--yet she was very happy.
Bending low over the man she kissed his lips, and then
rising went outside, and calling Terkoz with her descended
to the spring, for she was thirsty.

Neither the girl nor the hound saw the white robed figures
that withdrew suddenly behind a huge boulder as the two
emerged from the cave's mouth.  Nor did they see him signal
to others behind him who had not yet rounded the shoulder of
the cliff at the base of which they had been marching.

Victoria stooped to fill her hat at the spring. First she
leaned far down to quench her own thirst. A sudden, warning
growl from Terkoz brought her head up, and there, not ten
paces from her, she saw a dozen white robed Arabs, and
behind them half a hundred blacks.  All were armed--evil
looking fellows they were, and one of the Arabs had covered
her with his long gun.

Now he spoke to her, but in a tongue she did not understand,
though she knew that his message was unfriendly, and
imagined that it warned her not to attempt to use her own
rifle which lay beside her.  Next he spoke to those behind
him and two of them approached the girl, one from either
side, while the leader continued to keep his piece leveled
at her.

As the two came toward her she heard a menacing growl from
the wolfhound, and then saw him leap for the nearest Arab.
The fellow clubbed his gun and swung it full upon Terkoz's
skull, so that the faithful hound collapsed in a silent heap
at their feet. Then the two rushed in and seized Victoria's
rifle, and a moment later she was roughly dragged toward the
leader of the ill-favored gang.

Through one of the blacks, a West Coast negro who had picked
up a smattering of pidgin English, the leader questioned the
girl, and when he found that she was a guest of Lord
Greystoke an ugly grin crossed his evil face, for the fellow
recalled what had befallen another Arab slave and ivory
caravan at the hands of the Englishman and his Waziri
warriors. Here was an opportunity for partial revenge.  He
motioned for his followers to bring her along--there was no
time to tarry in this country of their enemies into which
they had accidentally stumbled after being lost in the
jungle for the better part of a month.

Victoria asked what their intentions toward her were; but
all that she could learn was that they would take her north
with them.  She offered to arrange the payment of a suitable
ransom if they would return her to her friends unharmed, but
the Arab only laughed at her.

"You will bring a good price," he said, "at the court of the
sultan of Fulad, north of Tagwara, and for the rest I shall
have partly settled the score which I have against the
Englishman," and so Victoria Custer disappeared from the
sight of men at the border of the savage land of the Waziri
nor was there any other than her captors to know the devious
route that they followed to gain the country north of
Waziri.

When at last Nu, the son of Nu, opened his eyes from the
deep slumber that had refreshed and invigorated him, he
looked up expectantly for the sweet face that had been
hovering above his, and as he realized that the cave was
tenantless except for himself a sigh that was half a sob
broke from the depth of his lonely heart, for he knew that
Nat-ul had been with him only in his dreams.

Yet it had been so real! Even now he could feel the touch of
her cool hand upon his forehead, and her slim fingers
running through his hair.  His cheek glowed to her hot
kisses, and in his nostrils was the sweet aroma of her dear
presence.  The disillusionment of his waking brought with it
bitter disappointment, and a return of the fever. Again Nu
lapsed into semi-consciousness and delirium, so that he was
not aware of the figure of the khaki clad white man that
crept warily into the half-darkness of his lair shortly
after noon.

It was Barney Custer, and behind him came Curtiss, Butzow
and a half dozen others of the searching party.  They had
stumbled upon the half dead Terkoz beside the spring, and
there also they had found Victoria Custer's hat, and plainly
in the soft earth between the bowlders of the hillside they
had seen the new made path to the cave higher up.

When Barney saw that the prostrate figure within the cavern
did not stir at his entrance a stifling fear rose in his
throat, for he was sure that he had found the dead body of
his sister; but as his eyes became more accustomed to the
dim light of the interior he realized his mistake--at first
with a sense of infinite relief and later with misgivings
that amounted almost to a wish that it had been Victoria,
safe in death; for among the savage men of savage Africa
there are fates worse than death for women.

The others had crowded in beside him, and one had lighted a
torch of dry twigs which illuminated the interior of the
cave brightly for a few seconds.  In that time they saw that
the man was the only occupant and that he was helpless from
fever. Beside him lay the stone spear that had slain "old
Raffles"--each of them recognized it.  How could it have
been brought to him?

"The zebra killer," said Brown.  "What's that beneath his
head? Looks like a khaki coat."

Barney drew it out and held it up.

"God!" muttered Curtiss.  "It's hers."

"He must 'ave come down there after we left, an' got his
spear an' stole your sister," said Brown.

Curtiss drew his revolver and pushed closer toward the
unconscious Nu.

"The beast," he growled; "shootin's too damned good for him.
Get out of the way, Barney, I'm going to give him all six
chambers."

"No," said Barney quietly.

"Why?" demanded Curtiss, trying to push past Custer.

"Because I don't believe that he harmed Victoria," replied
Barney.  "That's sufficient reason for waiting until we know
the truth. Then I won't stand for the killing of an
unconscious man anyway."

"He's nothing but a beast--a mad dog," insisted Curtiss.
"He should be killed for what he is. I'd never have thought
to see you defending the man who killed your sister--God
alone knows what worse crime he committed before he killed
her."

"Don't be a fool, Curtiss," snapped Barney. "We don't even
know that Victoria's dead. The chances are that this man has
been helpless from fever for a long time. There's a wound in
his head that was probably made by your shot last night.  If
he recovers from that he may be able to throw some light on
Victoria's disappearance. If it develops that he has harmed
her I'm the one to demand an accounting--not you; but as I
said before I do not believe that this man would have harmed
a hair of my sister's head."

"What do you know about him?" demanded Curtiss.

"I never saw him before," replied Barney. "I don't know who
he is or where he came from; but I know--well, never mind
what I know, except that there isn't anybody going to kill
him, other than Barney Custer."

"Custer's right," broke in Brown. "It would be murder to
kill this fellow in cold blood. You have jumped to the
conclusion, Curtiss, that Miss Custer is dead.  If we let
you kill this man we might be destroying our best chance to
locate and rescue her."

As they talked the gaunt figure of the wolfhound, Terkoz,
crept into the cave. He had not been killed by the Arab's
blow, and a liberal dose of cold water poured over his head
had helped to hasten returning consciousness.  He nosed,
whining, about the cavern as though in search of Victoria.
The men watched him in silence after Brown had said:  "If
this man harmed Miss Custer and laid out Terkoz the beast'll
be keen for revenge.  Watch him, and if Curtiss is right
there won't any of us have to avenge your sister--Terkoz'll
take care of that. I know him."

"We'll leave it to Terkoz," said Barney confidently.

After the animal had made the complete rounds of the cave,
sniffing at every crack and crevice, he came to each of the
watching men, nosing them carefully.  Then he walked
directly to the side of the unconscious Nu, licked his
cheek, and lying down beside him rested his head upon the
man's breast so that his fierce, wolfish eyes were pointed
straight and watchful at the group of men opposite him.

"There," said Barney, leaning down and stroking the beast's
head.

The hound whined up into his face; but when Curtiss
approached he rose, bristling, and standing across the body
of Nu growled ominously at him.

"You'd better keep away from him, Curtiss," warned Brown.
"He always has had a strange way with him in his likes and
dislikes, and he's a mighty ugly customer to deal with when
he's crossed.  He's killed one man already--a big Wamboli
spearman who was stalking Greystoke up in the north country
last fall.  Let's see if he's got it in for the rest of us;"
but one by one Terkoz suffered the others to approach Nu--
only Curtiss seemed to rouse his savage, protective
instinct.

As they discussed their plans for the immediate future Nu
opened his eyes with a return of consciousness.  At sight of
the strange figures about him he sat up and reached for his
spear; but Barney had had the foresight to remove this
weapon as well as the man's knife and hatchet from his
reach.

As the cave man came to a sitting posture Barney laid a hand
upon his shoulder.  "We shall not harm you," he said; "if you
will tell us what has become of my sister," and then placing
his lips close to the other's ear he whispered: "Where is
Nat-ul?"

Nu understood but the single word, Nat-ul; but the friendly
tone and the hand upon his shoulder convinced him that this
man was no enemy.  He shook his head negatively.  "Nu does
not understand the stranger's tongue," he said.  And then he
asked the same question as had Barney:  "Where is Nat-ul?"
But the American could translate only the name, yet it told
him that here indeed was the dream-man of his sister.

When it became quite evident that the man could not
understand anything that they said to him, and that he was
in no condition to march, it was decided to send him back to
the ranch by some of the native carriers that accompanied
the searching party, while the others continued the search
for the missing girl.

Terkoz suffered them to lift Nu in their arms and carry him
outside where he was transferred to a rude litter
constructed with a saddle blanket and two spears belonging
to the Waziri hunters who had accompanied them.

Barney felt that this man might prove the key to the
solution of Victoria's whereabouts, and so for fear that he
might attempt to escape he decided to accompany him
personally, knowing that the search for his sister would
proceed as thoroughly without him as with.  In the meantime
he might be working out some plan whereby he could
communicate with the stranger.

And so they set out for the ranch. Four half-naked blacks
bore the rude stretcher. Upon one side walked Terkoz, the
wolfhound, and upon the other, Barney Custer. Four Waziri
warriors accompanied them.




CHAPTER IX



NU GOES TO FIND NAT-UL


Nu, weak and sick, was indifferent to his fate. If he had
been captured by enemies, well and good. He knew what to
expect--either slavery or death, for that was the way of men
as Nu knew them. If slavery, there was always the chance to
escape. If death, he would at least no longer suffer from
loneliness in a strange world far from his own people and
his matchless Nat-ul; whom he only saw now in his dreams.

He wondered what this strangely garbed stranger knew of
Nat-ul.  The man had most certainly spoken her name. Could
it be possible that she, too, was a prisoner among these
people? He had most certainly seen her in the garden before
the strange cave where he had slain the diminutive Zor that
had been about to devour her. That was no dream, he was
positive, and so she must indeed be a prisoner.

As he recalled the lion he half smiled. What a runt of a
beast it had been indeed! Why old Zor who hunted in the
forest of the ape-people and dwelt in the caves upon the
hither slopes of the Barren Hills would have snapped that
fellow up in two bites.  And Oo!  A sneeze from Oo would
have sent him scurrying into the Dark Swamp where Oo could
not venture because of his great weight.  It was an odd
world in which Nu found himself.  The country seemed almost
barren to him, and yet he was in the heart of tropical
Africa. The creatures seemed small and insignificant--yet
the lion he had killed was one of the largest that Brown or
Greystoke had ever seen--and he shivered, even in the heat
of the equatorial sun.

How he longed for the world of his birth, with its mighty
beasts, its gigantic vegetation, and its hot, humid
atmosphere through which its great, blurred sun appeared
grotesquely large and close at hand!

For a week they doctored Nu at the bungalow of the
Greystokes. There were times when they despaired of his
life, for the bullet wound that creased his temple clear to
the skull had become infected; but at last he commenced to
mend, and after that his recovery was rapid, for his
constitution was that of untainted physical perfection.

The several searching parties returned one by one without a
clue to the whereabouts of Victoria Custer. Barney knew that
all was being done that could be done by his friends; but he
clung tenaciously to the belief that the solution to the
baffling mystery lay locked in the breast of the strange
giant who was convalescing upon the cot that had been set up
for him in Barney's own room, for such had been the young
American's wish.  Curtiss had been relegated to other
apartments, and Barney stuck close to the bedside of his
patient day and night.

His principal reasons for so doing were his wish to prevent
the man's escape, and his desire to open some method of
communication with the stranger as rapidly as possible.
Already the wounded man had learned to make known his
simpler wants in English, and the ease with which he
mastered whatever Barney attempted to teach him assured the
American of the early success of his venture in this
direction.

Curtiss continued to view the stranger with suspicion and
ill disguised hostility.  He was positive that the man had
murdered Victoria Custer, and failing to persuade the others
that they should take justice into their own hands and
execute the prisoner forthwith, he now insisted that he be
taken to the nearest point at which civilization had
established the machinery of law and turned over to the
authorities.

Barney, on the other hand, was just as firm in his
determination to wait until the man had gained a sufficient
command of English to enable them to give him a fair
hearing, and then be governed accordingly.  He could not
forget that there had existed some strange and inexplicable
bond between this handsome giant and his sister, nor that
unquestionably the man had saved her life when "old Raffles"
had sprung upon her. Barney had loved, and lost because he
had loved a girl beyond his reach and so his sympathies went
out to this man who, he was confident, loved his sister.
Uncanny as her dreams had been, Barney was forced to admit
that there had been more to them than either Victoria or he
had imagined, and now he felt that for Victoria's sake he
should champion her dream-man in her absence.

One of the first things that Barney tried to impress upon
the man was that he was a prisoner, and lest he should
escape by night when Barney slept Greystoke set Terkoz to
watch over him. But Nu did not seem inclined to wish to
escape. His one desire apparently was to master the strange
tongue of his captors.  For two weeks after he was able to
quit his bed he devoted his time to learning English. He had
the freedom of the ranch, coming and going as he pleased,
but his weapons were kept from him, hidden in Lord
Greystoke's study, and Barney, sometimes with others of the
household, always accompanied him.

Nu was waiting for Nat-ul. He was sure that she would come
back again to this cave that his new acquaintances called a
bungalow.  Barney was waiting for the man to mention his
sister. One day Curtiss came upon Nu sitting upon the
veranda. Terkoz lay at his feet. Nu was clothed in khaki--an
old suit of Greystoke's being the largest that could be
found upon the place, and that was none too large. As
Curtiss approached, the wolfhound turned his wicked little
eyes upon him, without moving his head from where it lay
stretched upon his forepaws, and growled. Nu extended a
booted foot across the beast's neck to hold him in check.

The hound's show of hostility angered Curtiss.  He hated the
brute, and he hated Nu as cordially--just why, he did not
know, for it seemed that his hatred of the stranger was a
thing apart from his righteous anger in his belief that the
man had guilty knowledge of the fate of Victoria Custer. He
halted in front of the caveman.

"I want to ask you a question," he said coldly. "I have been
wanting to do so for a long time; but there has always been
someone else around."

Nu nodded.  "What can Nu tell you?" he asked.

"You can tell me where Miss Custer is," replied Curtiss.

"Miss Custer? I do not know what you mean. I never heard of
Miss Custer."

"You lie!" cried Curtiss, losing control of himself.  "Her
jacket was found beneath your head in that foul den of yours."

Nu came slowly to his feet.

"What does 'lie' mean?" he asked.  "I do not understand all
that people say to me, yet; but I can translate much from
the manner and tone of the saying, and I do not like your
tone, Curtiss."

"Answer my question," cried Curtiss. "Where is Victoria
Custer?  And when you speak to me remember that I'm Mr.
Curtiss--you damned white nigger."

"What does 'lie" mean?"  persisted Nu. "And what is a
'nigger'?  And why should I call you mister? I do not like
the sound of your voice, Curtiss."

It was at this moment that Barney appeared. A single glance
at the attitude of the two men warned him that he was barely
in time to avert a tragedy.  The black haired giant stood
with the bristling wolfhound at his side. The attitude of
the man resembled nothing more closely than that of a big,
black panther tensed for a spring. Curtiss's hand was
reaching for the butt of the gun at his hip.  Barney stepped
between them.

"What is the meaning of this, Curtiss?" he asked sharply.
Curtiss had been a warm friend for years--a friend of
civilization, and luxury and ease.  He had known Curtiss
under conditions which gave Curtiss everything that Curtiss
wished, and Curtiss had seemed a fine fellow, but lately,
since Curtiss had been crossed and disappointed, he had
found sides to the man's character that had never before
presented themselves.  His narrow and unreasoning hatred for
the half savage white man had caused the first doubts in
Barney's mind as to the breadth of his friend's character.
And then--most unpardonable of sins--Curtiss had grumbled at
the hardships of the field while the searching parties had
been out.  Butzow had told Barney of it, and of how Curtiss
had shirked much of the work which the other white men had
assumed when there had been a dearth of competent servants
in the camp.

Curtiss made no reply to Barney's question. Instead he
turned on his heel and walked away. Nu laid a hand upon the
American's shoulder.

"What does 'lie' mean, Custer?" he asked.

Barney tried to explain.

"I see," said Nu.  "And what is a 'nigger' and a 'mister'?"

Again Barney did his best to explain.

"Who is Miss Custer?" Nu asked.

Barney looked at the man in surprise.

"Do you not know?" he asked.

"Why should I?"

"She is my sister," said Barney, looking closely at the man.

"Your sister?" questioned Nu.  "I did not know you had a
sister, Custer."

"You did not know my sister, Nat-ul?" cried Barney.

"Nat-ul!" exclaimed the man. "Nat-ul your sister?"

"Yes. I supposed that you knew it.

"But you are not Aht, son of Tha," said Nu, "and Nat-ul had
no other brother."

"I am brother of the girl you saved from the lion in the
garden yonder," said Barney. "Is it she you know as Nat-ul?"

"She was Nat-ul."

"Where is she?" cried Barney.

"I do not know," replied Nu.  "I thought that she was a
prisoner among you and I have been waiting here quietly for
her to be brought back."

"You saw her last," said Barney. The time had come to have
it out with this man.  "You saw her last. She was in your
cave in the mountain. We found her jacket there, and beside
the spring this dog lay senseless. What became of her?"

Nu stood with an expression of dull incomprehension upon his
fine features.  It was as though he had received a stunning
blow.

"She was there?" he said at last in a low voice. "She was
there in my cave and I thought it was but a dream. She has
gone away, and for many days I have remained here doing
nothing while she roams amidst the dangers of the forest
alone and unprotected. Unless," his tone became more
hopeful, "she has found her way back to our own people among
the caves beside the Restless Sea.  But how could she? Not
even I, a man and a great hunter, can even guess in what
direction lies the country of my father, Nu.  Perhaps you
can tell me?"

Barney shook his head. His disappointment was great. He had
been sure that Nu could cast some light upon the whereabouts
of Victoria. He wondered if the man was telling him the
truth. Doubts began to assail him. It seemed scarce credible
that Victoria could have been in the fellow's lair without
his knowing of her presence.  That she had been there there
seemed little or no doubt.  The only other explanation was
that Nu had, as Curtiss had suggested, stolen her from the
vicinity of the bungalow, killed her, and taken his spear
and her coat back to his cave with him; but that did not
account for the presence of the hound or the beast's evident
loyalty to the man.

Nu had turned from the veranda and entered the bungalow.
Barney followed him. The cave man was hunting about the
house for something.

"What are you looking for?" asked the American.

"My spear," replied Nu.

"What do you want of it?"

"I'm going to find Nat-ul."

Barney laid a hand upon the other's arm.

"No," he said, "you are not going away from here until we
find my sister--you are a prisoner. Do you understand?"

The cave man drew himself to his full height. There was a
sneer upon his 1ip. "Who can prevent me?"

Barney drew his revolver.  "This," he said.

For a moment the man seemed plunged in thought.  He looked
at the menacing gun, and then off through the open windows
toward the distant hills.

"I can wait, for her sake," he said.

"Don't make any attempt to escape," warned Barney. "You will
be watched carefully.  Terkoz will give the alarm even if he
should be unable to stop you, though as a matter of fact he
can stop you easily enough. Were I you I should hate to be
stopped by Terkoz--he is as savage as a lion when aroused,
and almost as formidable."

Barney did not see the smile that touched the cave man's
lips at this for he had turned away to resume his chair upon
the veranda. Later Barney told the others that Nu seemed to
realize the futility of attempting to get away, but that
night he locked their door securely, placed the key under
his pillow and drew his cot beneath the double windows of
their room.  It would take a mighty stealthy cat, thought
he, to leave the apartment without arousing him, even were
Terkoz not stretched beside the prisoner's cot.

About midnight the cave man opened his eyes. The regular
breathing of the American attested the soundness of his
slumber.  Nu extended a hand toward the sleeping Terkoz, at
the same time making a low, purring sound with his lips. The
beast raised his head.

"Sh-h!" whispered Nu.  Then he rose to a sitting posture,
and very carefully put his feet to the floor. Stooping he
lifted the heavy wolfhound in his arms.  The only sign the
animal made was to raise his muzzle to the man's face and
lick his cheek.  Nu smiled.  He recalled Custer's words:
"Terkoz will give the alarm even if he should be unable to
stop you."

The troglodyte approached the cot on which Barney lay in
peaceful slumber. He rested one hand upon the sill of the
open window, leaning across the sleeper.  The hound was
tucked under his other arm. Without a sound he vaulted over
the cot, through the window and alighted noiselessly upon
the veranda without.  In the garden he deposited Terkoz,
telling him to wait there, then he returned to the living
room of the bungalow to fetch his spear, his hatchet and his
knife.  A moment later the figures of a naked man and a
gaunt wolfhound swung away beneath the tropic moon across
the rolling plain toward the mountains to the south.




CHAPTER X



ON THE TRAIL


It was daylight when Barney Custer awoke.  His first thought
was for his prisoner, and when his eyes fell upon the empty
cot across the room the American came to the center of the
floor with a single bound.  Clad in his pajamas he ran out
into the living room and gave the alarm.  In another moment
the search was on, but no sign of the caveman was to be
found, nor of the guardian Terkoz.

"He must have killed the dog," insisted Greystoke; but they
failed to find the beast's body, for the excellent reason
that at that very moment Terkoz, bristling with anger, was
nosing about the spot where, nearly a month before, he had
been struck down by the Arab, as he had sought to protect
the girl to whom he had attached himself.

As he searched the spot his equally savage companion
hastened to the cave further up the mountainside, and with
his knife unearthed the head of Oo which he had buried there
in the soft earth of a crevice within the lair.  The trophy
was now in a rather sad state of putrefaction, and Nu felt
that he must forego the pleasure of laying it intact at the
feet of his future mate; but the great saber-teeth were
there and the skull.  He removed the former, fastening them
to his gee string and laid the balance of the head outside
the cave where vultures might strip it clean of flesh
against Nu's return, for he did not wish to be burdened with
it during his search for Nat-ul.

A deep bay from Terkoz presently announced the finding of
the trail and at the signal Nu leaped down the mountainside
where the impatient beast awaited him.  A moment later the
two savage trailers were speeding away upon the spoor of the
Arab slave and ivory raiders.  Though the trail was old it
still was sufficiently plain for these two. The hound's
scent was but a trifle more acute than his human
companion's, but the man depended almost solely upon the
tell-tale evidences which his eyes could apprehend, leaving
the scent-spoor to the beast, for thus it had been his
custom to hunt with the savage wolfish progenitors of Terkoz
a hundred thousand years before.

They moved silently and swiftly through the jungle, across
valleys, over winding hill-trails, wherever the broad path
of the caravan led. In a day they covered as much ground as
the caravan had covered in a week. By night they slept at
the foot of some great tree, the man and beast curled up
together; or crawled within dark caves when the way led
through the mountains; or, when Zor, the lion, was abroad
the man would build a rude platform high among the branches
of a tree that he and the hound might sleep in peace
throughout the night.

Nu saw strange sights that filled him with wonder and sealed
his belief that he had been miraculously transferred to
another world. There were villages of black men, some of
which gave evidence of recent conflict.  Burned huts, and
mutilated corpses were all that remained of many, and in
others only a few old men and women were to be seen.

He also passed herds of giraffe-a beast that had been
unknown in his own world, and many elephant which reminded
him of Gluh, the mammoth.  But all these beasts were smaller
than those he had known in his other life, nor nearly so
ferocious. Why, he could scarce recall a beast of any
description that did not rush into a death-struggle with the
first member of another species which it came upon--
provided, of course, that it stood the slightest show of
dispatching its antagonist. Of course there had been the
smaller and more timid animals whose entire existence had
consisted in snatching what food they could as they fled
through the savage days and awful nights of that fierce age
in the perpetual effort to escape or elude the countless
myriads of huge carnivora and bellicose ruminants whose
trails formed a mighty network from pole to pole.

So to Nu the jungles of Africa seemed silent and deserted
places. The beasts, even the more savage of them, seldom
attacked except in hunger or the protection of their young.
Why, he had passed within a dozen paces of a great herd of
these diminutive, hairless mammoths and they had but raised
their little, pig eyes and glanced at him, as they flapped
their great ears back and forth against the annoying flies
and browsed upon the branches of young trees.

The ape-people seemed frightened out of their wits at his
approach, and he had even seen the tawny bodies of lions
pass within a stone's throw of him without charging. It was
amazing. Life in such a world would scarce be worth the
living. It made him lonelier than ever to feel that he could
travel for miles without encountering a single danger.

Far behind him along the trail of the Arabs came a dozen
white men and half a hundred savage Waziri warriors. Not an
hour after Barney Custer discovered Nu's absence a native
runner had come hurrying in from the north to beg Lord
Greystoke's help in pursuing and punishing a band of Arab
slave and ivory raiders who were laying waste the villages,
murdering the old men and the children and carrying the
young men and women into slavery.

While Greystoke was questioning the fellow he let drop the
fact that among the other prisoners of the Arabs was a young
white woman. Instantly commotion reigned upon the Greystoke
ranch. White men were jumping into field khaki, looking to
firearms and ammunition lest their black body servants
should have neglected some essential.  Stable boys were
saddling the horses, and the sleek, ebon warriors of Uziri
were greasing their black hides, adjusting barbaric war
bonnets, streaking faces, breasts, limbs and bellies with
ocher, vermillion or ghastly bluish white, and looking to
slim shield, poisoned arrow and formidable war spear.

For a time the fugitive was forgotten, but as the march
proceeded they came upon certain reminders that recalled him
to their thoughts and indicated that he was far in advance
of them upon the trail of the Arabs.  The first sign of him
was the carcass of a bull buffalo.  Straight through the
heart was the great hole that they now knew was made by the
passage of the ancient, stone tipped spear. Strips had been
knife cut from the sides, and the belly was torn as though
by a wild beast.  Brown stooped to ex-amine the ground about
the bull.  When he straightened up he looked at Greystoke
and laughed.

"Didn't I understand you to say that he must have killed the
dog?" he asked.  "Look here--they ate side by side from the
body of their kill."




CHAPTER XI



THE ABDUCTION


For three weeks now Victoria Custer had been a prisoner of
Sheik Ibn Aswad, but other than the ordinary hardships of
African travel she had experienced nothing of which she
might complain.  She had even been permitted to ride upon
one of the few donkeys that still survived, and her food was
as good as that of Ibn Aswad himself, for the canny old
sheik knew that the better the condition of his prisoner the
better the price she would bring at the court of the sultan
of Fulad.

Abul Mukarram, Ibn Aswad's right hand man, a swaggering
young Arab from the rim of the Sahara, had cast covetous
eyes upon the beautiful prisoner, but the old sheik
delivered himself of a peremptory no when his lieutenant
broached a proposal to him.  Then Abul Mukarram, balked in
his passing desire found the thing growing upon him until
the idea of possessing the girl became a veritable obsession
with him.

Victoria, forced to it by necessity, had picked up enough of
the language of the sons of the desert to be able to
converse with them, and Abul Mukarram often rode at her side
feasting his eyes upon her face and figure the while he
attempted to ingratiate himself into her esteem by accounts
of his prowess; but when at last he spoke of love the girl
turned her flushed and angry face away from him, and reining
in her donkey refused to ride further beside him.

Ibn Aswad from afar witnessed the altercation, and when he
rode to Victoria's side and learned the truth of the matter
he berated Abul Mukarram roundly, ordered him to the rear of
the column and placed another Arab over the prisoner.
Thereafter the venomous looks which the discredited Abul
cast upon Victoria often-times caused her to shudder
inwardly, for she knew that she had made a cruel and
implacable enemy of the man.

Ibn Aswad had given her but a hint of the fate which awaited
her, yet it had been sufficient to warn her that death were
better than the thing she was being dragged through the
jungles to suffer. Every waking minute her mind was occupied
with plans for escape, yet not one presented itself which
did not offer insuperable obstacles.

Even had she been able to leave the camp undetected how long
could she hope to survive in the savage jungle? And should,
by some miracle, her life be spared even for months, of what
avail would that be, for she could no more have retraced her
way to Lord Greystoke's ranch than she could have laid a
true course upon the trackless ocean.

The horrors of the march that passed daily in hideous review
before her left her sick and disgusted.  The cruelly beaten
slaves who carried the great burdens of ivory, tents and
provisions brought tears to her eyes. The brutal massacres
that followed the forcible entrance into each succeeding
village wrung her heart and aroused her shame for those
beasts in human form who urged on their savage and cowardly
Manyuema cannibals to commit nameless excesses against the
cowering prisoners that fell into their hands.

But at last they came to a village where victory failed to
rush forward and fall into their arms.  Instead they were
met with sullen resistance.  Ferocious, painted devils
fought them stubbornly every inch of the way, until Ibn
Aswad decided to make a detour and pass around the village
rather than sacrifice more of his followers.

In the confusion of the fight, and the near-retreat which
followed it, Abul Mukarram found the opportunity he had been
awaiting. The prisoners, including the white girl, were
being pushed ahead of the retreating raiders, while the
Arabs and Manyuema brought up the rear, fighting off the
pursuing savages.

Now Abul Mukarram knew a way to the northland that two might
traverse with ease, and over which one could fairly fly; but
which was impossible for a slave caravan because it passed
through the territory of the English. If the girl would
accompany him willingly, well and good--if not, then he
would go alone but not before he had committed upon her the
revenge he had planned. He left the firing line, therefore,
and pushed his way through the terror stricken slaves to the
side of the Arab who guarded Victoria Custer.

"Go back to Ibn Aswad," he said to the Arab. "He desires
your presence."

The other looked at him closely for a moment. "You lie, Abul
Mukarram," he said at last.  "Ibn Aswad commanded me
particularly against permitting you to be alone with the
girl. Go to!"

"Fool!" muttered Abul Mukarram, and with the word he pulled
the trigger of the long gun that rested across the pummel of
his saddle with its muzzle scarce a foot from the stomach of
the other Arab. With a single shriek the man lunged from his
donkey.

"Come!" cried Abul Mukarram, seizing the bridle of
Victoria's beast and turning into the jungle to the west.

The girl tried to slip from her saddle, but a strong arm
went about her waist and held her firm as the two donkeys
forged, shoulder to shoulder through the tangled mass of
creepers which all but blocked their way. Once Victoria
screamed for help, but the savage war cries of the natives
drowned her voice.  Fifteen minutes later the two came out
upon the trail again that they had followed when they
approached the village and soon the sounds of the conflict
behind them grew fainter and fainter until they were lost
entirely in the distance.

Victoria Custer's mind was working rapidly, casting about
for some means of escape from the silent figure at her side.
A revolver or even a knife would have solved her difficulty,
but she had neither. Had she, the life of Abul Mukarram
would have been worth but little, for the girl was beside
herself with hopeless horror of the fate that now loomed so
close at hand. The thought that she had not even the means
to take her own life left her numb and cold. There was but
one way; to battle with tooth and nail until, in anger, the
man himself should kill her; yet until the last moment she
might hope against hope for the succor which she knew in her
heart of hearts it was impossible to receive.

For the better part of two hours Abul Mukarram kept on away
from the master he had robbed.  He spoke but little, and
when he did it was in the tone of the master to his slave.
Near noon they left the jungle and came out into a higher
country where the space between the trees was greater, and
there was little or no underbrush. Traveling was much easier
here and they made better time.  They were still retracing
the trail along which the caravan had traveled.  It would be
some time during the next morning that they would turn north
again upon a new trail.

Beside a stream Abul Mukarram halted. He tethered the
donkeys, and then turned toward the girl. "Come," he said,
and laid his hand upon her.




CHAPTER XII



THE CAVE MAN FINDS HIS MATE


Each day Nu realized that he was gaining rapidly upon those
with whom Nat-ul traveled.  The experiences of his other
life assured him that she must be a prisoner, yet at the
same time he realized that such might not be the case at
all, for had he not thought her a prisoner among the others
who had held him prisoner, only to learn that one of them
claimed her as a sister.  It all seemed very strange to Nu.
It was quite beyond him. Nat-ul could not be the sister of
Custer, and yet he had seen her apparently happy and
contented in the society of these strangers, and Custer
unquestionably appeared to feel for her the solicitude of a
brother.  Curtiss, it was evident, loved Nat-ul--that much
he had gleaned from conversations he had overheard between
him and Custer.  How the man could have become so well
acquainted with Nat-ul between the two days that had elapsed
since Nu had set forth from the caves beside the Restless
Sea to hunt down Oo and the morning that he had awakened
following the mighty shaking of the world was quite as much
a mystery as was the remarkable changes that had taken place
in the aspect of the world during the same brief period.  Nu
had given much thought to those miraculous happenings, with
the result that he had about convinced himself that he must
have slept much longer than he had believed; but that a
hundred thousand years had rolled their slow and weary
progress above his unconscious head could not, of course,
have occurred to him even as the remotest of possibilities.

He had also weighed the sneering words of Curtiss and with
them the attitude of the strangers with whom he had been
thrown.  He had quickly appreciated the fact that their
manners and customs were as far removed from his as they
were from those of the beasts of the jungle. He had seen
that his own ways were more in accordance with the ways of
the black and half naked natives whom the whites looked upon
as so much their inferiors that they would not even eat at
the same table with them.

He had noted the fact that the blacks treated the other
whites with a marked respect which they did not extend to
Nu, and being no fool Nu had come to the conclusion that the
whites themselves looked upon him as an inferior, even
before Curtiss's words convinced him of the truth of his
suspicions.  Evidently, though his skin was white, he was in
some subtle way different from the other whites.  Possibly
it was in the matter of raiment.  He had tried to wear the
strange body coverings they had given him, but they were
cumbersome and uncomfortable and though he was seldom warm
enough now he had nevertheless been glad when the
opportunity came to discard the hampering and unaccustomed
clothing.

These thoughts suggested the possibility that if Nat-ul had
found recognition among the strangers upon an equal footing
with them that she, too, might have those attributes of
superiority which the strangers claimed, and if such was the
fact it became evident that she would consider Nu from the
viewpoint of her new friends--as an inferior.

Such reveries made Nu very sad, for he loved Nat-ul just as
you or I would love--just as normal white men have always
loved--with a devotion that placed the object of his
affection upon a pedestal before which he was happy to bow
down and worship. His passion was not of the brute type of
the inferior races which oftentimes solemnizes the marriage
ceremony with a cudgel and ever places the woman in the
position of an inferior and a chattel.

Even as Nu pondered the puzzling questions which confronted
him his eyes and ears were alert as he sped along the now
fresh trail of the caravan. Every indication pointed the
recent passing of many men, and the troglodyte was positive
that he could be but a few hours behind his quarry.

A few miles east of him the rescue party from the Greystoke
ranch were pushing rapidly ahead upon a different trail with
a view to heading off the Arabs. Ibn Aswad had taken a
circuitous route in order that he might pass around the
Country of the Waziri, and with his slow moving slave
caravan he had now reached a point but a few days' journey
in a direct line from the ranch.  The lightly equipped
pursuers having knowledge of the route taken by the Arabs
from the messenger who had come to seek their assistance had
not been compelled to follow the spoor of their quarry but
instead had marched straight across country in a direct line
for a point which they believed would bring them ahead of
the caravan.

Thus it was that Nu and Terkoz, and the party of whites and
Waziri from the ranch were closing in upon Ibn Aswad from
opposite directions simultaneously; but Nu was not destined
to follow the trail of the raiders to where they were still
engaged in repelling the savage attacks of the fierce
Wamboli, for as he trotted along with the dog at his side
his quick eyes detected that which the hound, with all his
wondrous instinctive powers, would have passed by,
unnoticing--the well-marked prints of the hoofs of two
donkeys that had come back along the trail since the caravan
had passed.

That they were donkeys belonging to the Arabs was evident to
Nu through his familiarity with the distinctive hoof prints
of each, which during the past three days had become as well
known to him as his mother's face had been. But what were
they doing retracing the way they had but just covered! Nu
halted and raised his head to sniff the air and listen
intently for the faintest sound from the direction in which
the beasts had gone when they left the old trail at the
point where he had discovered their spoor.

But the wind was blowing from the opposite direction, so
there was no chance that Nu could scent them.  He was in
doubt as to whether he should leave the trail of the main
body and follow these two, or continue on his way. From the
manner of their passing--side by side--he was convinced that
each carried a rider, since otherwise they would have gone
in single file after the manner of beasts moving along a
none too wide trail; but there was nothing to indicate that
either rider was Nat-ul.

For an instant he hesitated, and then his judgment told him
to keep on after the main body, for if Nat-ul was a prisoner
she would be with the larger force--not riding in the
opposite direction with a single guard. Even as he turned to
take up the pursuit again there came faintly to his ears
from the jungle at his left the sound of a human voice--it
was a woman's, raised in frightened protest.

Like a deer Nu turned and leaped in the direction of that
familiar voice. The fleet wolfhound was put to it to keep
pace with the agile caveman, for Nu had left the earth and
taken to the branches of the trees where no underbrush
retarded his swift flight.  From tree to tree he leaped or
swung, sometimes hurling his body twenty feet through the
air from one jungle giant to another. Below him raced the
panting Terkoz, red tongue lolling from his foam flecked
mouth; but with all their speed the two moved with the
noiselessness of shadowy ghosts.

At the edge of the jungle Nu came upon a parklike forest,
and well into this he saw a white robed Arab forcing a woman
slowly backward across his knee.  One sinewy, brown hand
clutched her throat, the other was raised to strike her in
the face.

Nu saw that he could not reach the man in time to prevent
the blow, but he might distract his attention for the moment
that would be required for him to reach his side. From his
throat there rose the savage war cry of his long dead people--a
cry that brought a hundred jungle creatures to their feet
trembling in fear or in rage according to their kind. And
it brought Abul Mukarram upstanding too, for in all his life
he had never heard the like of that blood freezing challenge.

At the sight which met his eyes he dropped the girl and
darted toward his donkey where hung his long barreled rifle
in its boot. Victoria Custer looked, too, and what she saw
brought unutterable relief and happiness to her. Then the
Arab had turned with levelled gun just as the cave man
leaped upon him. There was the report of the firearm ere it
was wrenched from Abul Mukarram's grasp and hurled to one
side, but the bullet went wide of its mark and the next
instant the girl saw the two men locked in what she knew was
a death struggle. The Arab struck mighty blows at the head
and face of his antagonist, while the cave man, the great
muscles rolling beneath his smooth hide, sought for a hold
upon the other's throat.

About the two the vicious wolfhound slunk growling with
bristling hair, waiting for an opportunity to rush in upon
the white robed antagonist of his master. Victoria Custer,
her clenched fists tight pressed against her bosom, watched
the two men who battled for her. She saw the handsome black
head of her savage man bend lower and lower toward the
throat of his foeman, and when the strong, white teeth
buried themselves in the jugular of the other it was with no
sickening qualm of nausea that the girl witnessed the
bestial act.

She heard the half wolfish growl of Nu as he tasted the hot,
red blood of his enemy. She saw the strong jaws tear and
rend the soft flesh of the Arab's throat. She saw the
powerful hands bend back the head of the doomed Abul
Mukarram. She saw her ferocious mate shake the man as a
terrior shakes a rat, and her heart swelled in fierce
primitive pride at the prowess of her man.

No longer did Victoria Custer exist.  It was Nat-ul, the
savage maiden of the Niocene who, as Nu threw the lifeless
corpse of his kill to one side, and opened his arms, flung
herself into his embrace.  It was Nat-ul, daughter of Tha--
Nat-ul of the tribe of Nu that dwelt beyond the Barren
Cliffs beside the Restless Sea who threw her arms about her
lord and master's neck and drew his mouth down to her hot
lips.

It was Nat-ul of the first born who watched Nu and the
fierce wolfhound circle about the corpse of the dead Arab.
The cave man, moving in the graceful, savage steps of the
death dance of his tribe, now bent half over, now leaping
high in air, throwing his stone-tipped spear aloft, chanted
the weird victory song of a dead and buried age, and beside
him his equally savage mate squatted upon her haunches
beating time with her slim, white hands.

When the dance was done Nu halted before Nat-ul. The girl
rose, facing him and for a long minute the two stood in
silence looking at one another. It was the first opportunity
that either had had to study the features of the other since
the strange miracle that had separated them. Nu found that
some subtle change had taken place in his Nat-ul.  It was
she--of that there could be no doubt; but yet there was that
about her which cast a spell of awe over him--she was
infinitely finer and more wonderful than he ever had
realized.

With the passing of the excitement of the battle and the
dance the strange ecstasy which had held the girl in thrall
passed slowly away. The rhythm of the dancing of the savage,
black haired giant had touched some chord within her which
awoke the long dormant instincts of the primordial.  For the
time she had been carried back a hundred thousand years to
the childhood of the human race--she had not known for those
brief instants Victoria Custer, or the twentieth century, or
its civilization, for they were yet a thousand centuries in
the future.

But now she commenced once more to look through the eyes of
generations of culture and refinement. Before her she saw a
savage, primitive man. In his eyes was the fire of a great
love that would not for long be denied.  About her she saw
the wild, fierce forest and the cruel jungle, and behind all
this, and beyond, her vision wandered to the world she had
always known--the world of cities and homes and gentle-folk.
She saw her father and her mother and her friends. What
would they say?

Again she let her eyes rest upon the man. It was with
difficulty that she restrained a mad desire to throw herself
upon his broad breast and weep out her doubts and fears
close to the beating of his great heart and in the safety of
those mighty, protecting arms. But with the wish there arose
again the question--what would they say?--held her trembling
and frightened from him.

The man saw something of the girl's trouble in her eyes, but
he partially misinterpreted it, for he read fear of himself
where there was principally self-fear, and because of what
he had heard Curtiss say he thought that he saw contempt
too, for primitive people are infinitely more sensitive than
their more sophisticated brothers.

"You do not love me, Nat-ul?" he asked. "Have the strangers
turned you against me? What one of them could have fetched
you the head of Oo, the man hunter? See!" He tapped the two
great tusks that hung from his loin cloth. "Nu slew the
mightiest of beasts for his Nat-ul--the head is buried in
the cave of Oo--yet now that I come to take you as my mate I
see fear in your eyes and something else which never was
there before. What is it, Nat-ul--have the strangers stolen
your love from Nu?"

The man spoke in a tongue so ancient that in all the world
there lived no man who spoke or knew a word of it, yet to
Victoria Custer it was as intelligible as her own English,
nor did it seem strange to her that she answered Nu in his
own language.

"My heart tells me that I am yours, Nu," she said, "but my
judgment and my training warn me against the step that my
heart prompts. I love you; but I could not be happy to
wander, half naked, through the jungle for the balance of my
life, and if I go with you now, even for a day, I may never
return to my people.  Nor would you be happy in the life
that I lead--it would stifle and kill you.  I think I see
now something of the miracle that has overwhelmed us. To you
it has been but a few days since you left your Nat-ul to
hunt down the ferocious Oo; but in reality countless ages
have rolled by. By some strange freak of fate you have
remained unchanged during all these ages until now you step
forth from your long sleep an unspoiled cave man of the
stone age into the midst of the twentieth century, while I,
doubtless, have been born and reborn a thousand times,
merging from one incarnation to another until in this we are
again united. Had you, too, died and been born again during
all these weary years no gap of ages would intervene between
us now and we should meet again upon a common footing as do
other souls, and mate and die to be born again to a new
mating and a new life with its inevitable death. But you
have defied the laws of life and death--you have refused to
die and now that we meet again at last a hundred thousand
years lie between us--an unbridgable gulf across which I may
not return and over which you may not come other than by the
same route which I have followed--through death and a new
life thereafter."

Much that the girl said was beyond Nu's comprehension, and
the most of it without the scope of his primitive language
so that she had been forced to draw liberally upon her
twentieth century English to fill in the gaps, yet Nu had
caught the idea in a vague sort of way--at least that his
Nat-ul was far removed from him because of a great lapse of
time that had occurred while he slept in the cave of Qo, and
that through his own death alone could he span the gulf
between them and claim her as his mate.

He placed the butt of his spear upon the ground, resting the
stone tip against his heart.

"I go, Nat-ul," he said simply, "that I may return again as
you would have me--no longer the 'white nigger' that Curtiss
says I am."

The girl and the man were so occupied and engrossed with
their own tragedy that they did not note the restless pacing
of Terkoz, the wolfhound, or hear the ominous growls that
rumbled from his savage throat as he looked toward the
jungle behind them.




CHAPTER XIII



INTO THE JUNGLE


The searching party from the Greystoke ranch had come upon
Ibn Aswad so unexpectedly that not a shot had been exchanged
between the two parties. The Arabs pressed from behind by
the savage Wamboli warriors had literally run into the arms
of the whites and the Waziri.

When Greystoke demanded that the white girl be turned over
to him at once Ibn Aswad smote his breast and swore that
there had been no white girl with them, but one of the
slaves told a different story to a Waziri, and when the
whites found that Victoria had been stolen from Ibn Aswad by
one of the sheik's lieutenants only a few hours before they
hastened to scour the jungle in search of her.

To facilitate their movements and insure covering as wide a
territory as possible each of the whites took a few Waziri
and spreading out in a far flung skirmish line beat the
jungle in the direction toward which the slave had told them
Abul Mukarram had ridden.

To comb the jungle finely each white spread his Waziri upon
either side of him and thus they advanced, seldom in sight
of one another; but always within hailing distance. And so
it happened that chance brought William Curtiss, unseen, to
the edge of the jungle beside the park-like forest beneath
the giant trees of which he saw a tableau that brought him
to a sudden halt.

There was the girl he loved and sought, apparently unharmed;
and two donkeys; and the dead body of an Arab; and the great
wolfhound, looking toward his hiding place and growling
menacingly; and before the girl the savage white man stood.
Curtiss was about to spring forward when he saw the man
place the butt of his spear upon the ground and the point
against his heart. The act and the expression upon the man's
face proclaimed his intention, and so Curtiss drew back
again waiting for the perpetration of the deed that he knew
was coming. A smile of anticipation played about the
American's lips.

Victoria Custer, too, guessed the thing that Nu
contemplated.  It was, in accordance with her own reasoning,
the only logical thing for the man to do; but love is not
logical, and when love saw and realized the imminence of its
bereavement it cast logic to the winds, and with a little
scream of terror the girl threw herself upon Nu of the
Niocene, striking the spear from its goal.

"No! No!" she cried. "You must not do it. I cannot let you
go.  I love you, Nu; oh, how I love you," and as the strong
arms enfolded her once more she gave a happy sigh of content
and let her head drop again upon the breast of him who had
come back out of the ages to claim her.

The man put an arm about her waist, and together the two
turned toward the west in the direction that Abul Mukarram
had been fleeing; nor did either see the white faced,
scowling man who leaped from the jungle behind them, and
with leveled rifle took deliberate aim at the back of the
black haired giant.

Nor did they see the swift spring of the wolfhound, nor the
thing that followed there beneath the brooding silence of
the savage jungle.

Ten minutes later Barney Custer broke through the tangled
wall of verdure upon a sight that took his breath away--
there stood the two patient donkeys, switching their tails
and flapping their long ears; beside them lay the corpse of
Abul Mukarram, and upon the edge of the jungle, at his feet,
was stretched the dead body of William Curtiss, his breast
and throat torn by savage fangs. Across the clearing a
great, gaunt wolfhound halted in its retreat at the sound of
Barney's approach.  It bared its bloody fangs in an ominous
growl of warning, and then turned and disappeared into the
jungle.

Barney advanced and examined the soft ground about the
donkeys and the body of the Arab. He saw the imprints of a
man's naked feet, and the smaller impress of a woman's
riding boot.  He looked toward the jungle where Terkoz had
disappeared.

What had his sister gone to within the somber, savage depths
beyond?  What would he bring her back to were he to follow
after? He doubted that she would come without her dream-man.
Where would she be happier with him--in the pitiless jungle
which was the only world he knew, or in the still more
pitiless haunts of civilized men?





PART II

NOTE: Part II of The Eternal Lover, when published
serially, appeared under the name of Sweetheart Primeval.




CHAPTER I



AGAIN A WORLD UPHEAVAL


Victoria Custer was aware that Barney Custer, her brother,
was forcing his way through the jungle behind them--that he
was coming to take her away from Nu.

Many lifetimes of culture and refinement plead with her to
relinquish her mad, idyllic purpose--to give up her savage
man and return to the protection and comforts that her
brother and civilization represented. But there was still
another force at work, older by far than the brief span of
cultivation that had marked the advancement of her more
recent forebears--the countless ages of prehistoric savagery
in which the mind and heart and soul of man were born--the
countless awful ages that have left upon the soul and heart
and mind of man an impress that will endure so long as man
endures.  From out of that black abyss before man had either
mind or soul there still emanates the same mighty power that
was his sole master then--instinct. And it was instinct that
drove Victoria Custer deeper into the jungle with her savage
lover as she sensed the nearer approach of her brother--one
of the two master instincts that have dominated and
preserved life upon the face of the earth. Yet it was not
without a struggle. She hesitated, half turning backward. Nu
cast a questioning look upon her.

"They are coming, Nat-ul," he said.  "Nu cannot fight these
strange men who hurl lead with the thunders they have stolen
from the skies. Come! We must hurry back to the cave of Oo,
and on the morrow we shall go forth and search for the tribe
of Nu, my father, that dwells beyond the Barren Cliffs
beside the Restless Sea. There, in our own world, we shall
be happy."

And yet the girl held back, afraid.  Then the man gathered
her in his mighty arms and ran on in the direction of the
cave of Oo, the saber-toothed tiger. The girl did not even
struggle to escape, instead she lay quietly, as over her
fell a sensation of peace and happiness, as though, after a
long absence, she was being borne home. And at their heels
trotted Terkoz, the wolfhound.

Sometimes Nu took to the lower branches of the trees, for in
his own age his race had been semiarboreal.  Here he
traveled with the ease and agility of a squirrel, though
oftentimes the modern woman that still lived in the breast
of Victoria Custer quailed at the dizzy leaps, and the
swaying, perilous trail. Yet, as they fled, her fears were
greatest now that they might be overtaken, and herself
snatched back into the world of civilization where her Nu
could never follow.

It was dusk of the third evening when they came again to the
cave of Oo.  Up the steep cliff side they clambered, hand in
hand. Together they entered the dark and forbidding hole.

"Tomorrow," said Nu, "we will search for the caves of our
people, and we shall find them."

Darkness settled upon the jungle, the plain and the
mountains.  Nu and Nat-ul slept, for both were exhausted
from the long days of flight.

And then there came, out of the bowels of the earth, a deep
and ominous rumbling. The earth shook.  The cliff rocked.
Great masses of shattered rock shaken from its summit roared
and tumbled down its face.

Nu sprang to his feet, only to be hurled immediately to the
floor of the cave stunned and senseless. Within all was
darkness. No light filtered through the opening. For minutes
the frightful din endured, and with it the sickening tossing
of the earth; but, at last, the rumblings ceased, the world
sank back to rest, exhausted.

And Nu lay unconscious where he had fallen.




CHAPTER II



BACK TO THE STONE AGE


It was morning when Nat-ul awoke.  The sun was streaming in
across a wide sea to illumine the interior of the cave where
she lay huddled in a great pile of soft, furry pelts. Near
her lay a woman, older than herself, but still beautiful.
In front of them, nearer the mouth of the cave, two men
slept.  One was Tha, her father, and the other her brother,
Aht.  The woman was Nat-ul's mother, Lu-tan. Now she, too,
opened her eyes. She stretched, raising her bare, brown arms
above her head, and half turning on her side toward Nat-ul--
it was the luxurious movement of the she-tiger--the
embodiment of perfect health and grace. Lu-tan smiled at her
daughter, exposing a row of strong, white, even teeth.
Nat-ul returned the smile.

"I am glad that it is light again," said the girl.  "The
shaking of the ground, yesterday, frightened me, so that I
had the most terrible dreams all during the darkness--ugh!"
and Nat-ul shuddered.

Tha opened his eyes and looked at the two women.

"I, too, dreamed," he said. "I dreamed that the earth shook
again; the cliffs sank; and the Restless Sea rolled in upon
them, drowning us all. This is no longer a good place to
live. After we have eaten I shall go speak to Nu, telling
him that we should seek other caves in a new country."

Nat-ul rose and stepping between the two men came to the
ledge before the entrance to the cave.  Before her stretched
a scene that was perfectly familiar and yet strangely new.
Below her was an open patch at the foot of the cliff, all
barren and boulder strewn except for a rude rectangle that
had been cleared of rock and debris.  Beyond lay a narrow
strip of tangled tropical jungle.  Enormous fern-like trees
lifted their huge fronds a hundred feet into the air. The
sun was topping the horizon, coming out of a great sea that
lay just beyond the jungle. And such a sun! It was dull red
and swollen to an enormous size. The atmosphere was thick
and hot--almost sticky.  And the life!  Such countless
myriads of creatures teeming through the jungle, winging
their way through the air, and blackening the surface of the
sea!

Nat-ul knit her brows. She was trying to think--trying to
recall something. Was it her dream that she attempted to
visualize, or was this the dream?  She shook herself. Then
she glanced quickly down at her apparel. For an instant she
seemed not to comprehend the meaning of her garmenture--the
single red-doe skin, or the sandals of the thick hide of Ta,
the woolly rhinoceros, held to her shapely feet by thin
lacings of the rawhide of the great Bos.  And yet, she
quickly realized, she had always been clothed just thus--
but, had she? The question puzzled her.

Mechanically her hand slipped to the back of her head above
the nape of her neck. A look of puzzlement entered her eyes
as her fingers fell upon the loose strands of her long hair
that tumbled to her waist in the riotous and lovely
confusion of early morning.  What was it that her light
touch missed?  A barette?  What could Nat-ul, child of the
stone age, know of barettes?

Slowly her fingers felt about her head. When they came in
contact with the broad fillet that bound her hair back from
her forehead she smiled. This was the fillet that Nu, the
son of Nu, had fashioned for her from a single gorgeous
snake skin of black and red and yellow, split lengthwise and
dried.  It awoke her to a more vivid realization of the
present. She turned and reentered the cave.  From a wooden
peg driven into a hole in the wall she took a handful of
brilliant feathers. These she stuck in the front of the
fillet, where they nodded in a gay plume above her sweet
face.

By this time Lu-tan, Tha, and Aht had risen. The older woman
was busying herself with some dry tinder and a fire stick,
just inside the entrance to the cave. Tha and Aht had
stepped out upon the ledge, filling their lungs with the
morning air.  Nat-ul joined them.  In her hand was a
bladder.  The three clambered down the face of the cliff.

Other men and women were emerging from other caves that
pitted the rocky escarpment. They greeted the three with
smiles and pleasant words, and upon every tongue was some
comment upon the earthquake of the preceding night.

Tha and Aht went into the jungle toward the sea.  Nat-ul
stopped beside a little spring, that bubbled, clear and
cold, at the foot of the cliff. Here were other girls with
bladders which  they were  filling with water.  There was
Ra-el, daughter of Kor, who made the keenest spear tips and
the best balanced. And there was Una, daughter of Nu, the
chief, and sister of Nu, the son of Nu. And beside these
were half a dozen others--all clean limbed, fine featured
girls, straight as arrows, supple as panthers.  They laughed
and talked as they filled their bladders at the spring.

"Were you not frightened when the earth shook, Nat-ni?"
asked Una.

"I was frightened," replied Nat-ul--" yes; but I was more
frightened by the dream I had after the shaking had
stopped."

"What did you dream?" cried Ra-el, daughter of Kor--Kor who
made the truest spear heads, with which a strong man could
strike a flying reptile in mid-air.

"I dreamed that I was not Nat-ul," replied the girl.  "I
dreamed of a strange world and strange people.  I was one of
them.  I was clothed in many garments that were not skin at
all. I lived in a cave that was not a cave--it was built
upon the ground of the stuff of which trees are made, only
cut into thin slabs and fastened together.  There were many
caves in the one cave.

"There were men and Women, and some of the men were black."

"Black!" echoed the other girls.

"Yes, black,  insisted Nat-ul.  "And they alone were garbed
something as are our men. The white men wore strange
garments and things upon their heads, and had no beards.
They carried short spears that spit smoke and great noise
out upon their enemies and the wild beasts, and slew them at
a great distance."

"And was Nu, the son of Nu, there?" asked Ra-el, tittering
behind her hand.

"He came and took me away," replied Nat-ul, gravely.  "And
at night the earth shook as we slept in the cave of Oo.  And
when I awoke I was here in the cave of Tha, my father."

"Nu has not returned," said Una.

Nat-ul looked at her inquiringly.

"Where did Nu, the son of Nu, go?" she asked.

"Who should know better than Nat-ul, daughter of Tha, that
Nu, the son of Nu, went forth to slay Oo, the killer of men
and mammoths, that he might lay Go's head before the cave of
Nat-ul?" she asked, in reply.

"He has not returned?" asked Nat-ul. "He said that he would
go but I thought that he joked, for one man alone may not
slay Oo, the killer of men and of mammoths." But she did not
use the word "mammoth," nor the word "man." Instead she
spoke in a language that survives only among the apes of our
day, if it survives at all, and among them only in crude and
disjointed monosyllables.  When she spoke of the mammoth she
called him Gluh, and man was Pah. The tongue was low and
liquid and entirely beautiful and enchanting, and she spoke,
too, much with her eyes and with her graceful hands, as did
her companions, for the tribe of Nu was not far removed from
those earlier peoples, descended from the alalus who were
speechless, and who preceded those who spoke by signs.

The girls, having filled the bladders with water, now
returned to their respective caves. Nat-ul had scarce
entered and hung up the bladder ere Tha and Aht returned--
one with the carcass of an antelope, the other with an
armful of fruits.

In the floor of the cave beside the fire a little hollow had
been chipped from the living rock. Into this Nat-ul poured
some water, while Lu-tan cut pieces of the antelope's flesh
into small bits, dropping them into the water. Then she
scooped a large pebble from the fire where it had been
raised to a high temperature. This she dropped into the
water with the meat. There was a great bubbling and
sputtering,  which was repeated as Lu-tan dropped one
super-heated pebble after another into the water until the
whole became a boiling cauldron. When the water continued to
boil for a few moments after a pebble was thrown in Lu-tan
ceased her operation, sitting quietly with her family about
the primitive stew for several minutes.  Occasionally she
would stick a finger into the water to test its temperature,
and when at last she seemed satisfied she signalled Tha to
eat.

The man plunged his stone knife into a piece of the half
cooked meat, withdrew it from the cauldron and tossed it
upon the floor beside Lutan. A second piece was given to
Nat-ul, a third to Aht, and the fourth Tha kept to himself.
The four ate with a certain dignity. There was nothing
bestial nor repulsive in their manners, and as they ate they
talked and laughed among themselves--there seemed great
good-fellowship in the cavehold of Tha.

Aht joked with Nat-ul about Nu, the son of Nu, telling her
that doubtless a hyena had devoured the mighty hunter before
ever he had had a chance to slay Oo.  But Lu-tan came to her
daughter's rescue, saying that it was more likely that Nu,
the son of Nu, had discovered Oo and all his family and had
remained to kill them all.

"I do not fear for Nu, because of Oo," said Tha, presently.
"For Nu, the son of Nu, is as great a hunter as his father;
but I shall be glad to see him safe again from all that
might have befallen him when the earth rocked and the
thunder came from below instead of from above. I shall be
glad to have him return and take my daughter as his mate,
whether he brings back the head of Oo or not."

Nat-ul was silent, but she was worried, for all feared the
power of the elements against which no man might survive in
battle, no matter how brave he might be.

After breakfast Tha went, as he had said that he should, to
the cave of Nu, the chief. There he found many of the older
warriors and the young men.  There were so many of them that
there was not room within the cave and upon the narrow ledge
without, so, at a word from Nu, they all descended to the
little, roughly cleared rectangle at the base of the cliff.
This place was where their councils were held and where the
tribe congregated for feasts, or other purposes that called
many together.

Nu sat at one end of the clearing upon a flat rock. About
his shoulders fell the shaggy haired skin of a huge cave
bear. In the string that supported his loin cloth reposed a
wooden handled stone axe and a stone knife. Upright in his
hand, its butt between his feet, rose a tall, slim spear,
stone tipped.  His black hair was rudely cut into a shock. A
fillet of tiger hide encircled his head, supporting a single
long, straight feather. About his neck depended a string of
long, sharp fangs and talons, and from cheek to heel his
smooth, bronzed hide was marked with many scars inflicted by
these same mementos when they had armed the mighty paws and
jaws of the fierce denizens of that primeval world. He let
the skin that covered him slip from his shoulders, for the
morning was warm.  In that hot and humid atmosphere there
was seldom need for covering, but even then men were slaves
to fashion. They wore the trophies of their prowess, and
bedecked their women similarly.

Tha, being second only to Nu, was the first among the
warriors to speak.  As speech was young and words
comparatively few they must needs be supplemented with many
signs and gestures.  Oratory was, therefore, a strenuous
business, and one which required a keen imagination, more
than ordinary intelligence, and considerable histrionic
ability.  Because it was so difficult to convey one's ideas
to one's fellowmen the art of speech, in its infancy, was of
infinitely more value to the human race than it is today.
Now, we converse mechanically--the more one listens to
ordinary conversations the more apparent it becomes that the
reasoning faculties of the brain take little part in the
direction of the vocal organs.  When Tha spoke to Nu and the
warriors of his tribe he was constantly required to invent
signs and words to carry varying shades of meaning to his
listeners.  It was great mental exercise for Tha and for his
audience as well--men were good listeners in those days;
they had to be and they advanced more rapidly in proportion
to our advancement, because what little speech they heard
meant something--it  was too precious to waste, nor could
men afford to attend to foolish matters where it required
all their eyes as well as their ears and the concentration
of the best of their mental faculties to follow the thread
of an argument.

Tha stepped to the center of the group of warriors. There
was a little open space left there for the speaker. About it
squatted the older men. Behind them knelt others, and behind
these stood the young men of the tribe of Nu.

Tha uttered a deep rumbling from his chest cavity.  He shook
his giant frame.

"The ground roars and trembles where we live," he said. "The
cliffs will fall." He pointed toward their dwellings, making
a gesture with his open palms toward the ground.  "We shall
all be killed. Let us go. Let us seek a new place where the
ground does not tremble. The beasts are everywhere.  Fruit
is everywhere.  Grain grows in the valley of every river. We
may hunt elsewhere as well as here. We shall find plenty to
eat. Let us take our women and our children and go out of
this place."

As he spoke he mimicked the hunting of game, the gathering
of fruit and grain, the marching and the search for a new
home.  His motions were both dignified and graceful.  His
listeners sat in rapt attention.  When he had done he
squatted down among the older warriors. Then another rose--a
very old man. He came to the center of the open space, and
told, by word and pantomime, the dangers of migration.  He
recalled the numerous instances when strangers, in small
parties and in great numbers had come too close to the
country of Nu, and how they, Nu's warriors, had rushed upon
them, slaying all who could not escape.

Others will do the same to us he said, "if we approach their
dwellings."

When he had sat down Hud pushed through to the center from
the ring of younger warriors. Hud desired Nat-ul, the
daughter of Tha. Therefore he had two good reasons for
espousing the cause of her father.  One was that he might
ingratiate himself with the older man, and the other was the
hope that the tribe might migrate at once while Nu, the son
of Nu, was absent, thus giving Hud uninterrupted opportunity
to push his suit for the girl.

"Tha has spoken wisely," he said.  "This land is no longer
safe for man or beast. Scarce a moon passes that does not
see the ground tremble and crack, and in places have faces
of the mountains tumbled away.  Any time it may be the turn
of our cliff to fall. Let us go to a land where the ground
does not tremble.  We need not fear the strangers. That is
the talk of old men, and women who are big with child. The
tribe of Nu is mighty. It can go where it pleases, and slay
those who would block its way. Let us do as Tha says, and go
away from here at once--another great trembling may come at
any moment. Let us leave now, for we have eaten."

Others spoke, and so great was the fear of the earthquakes
among them that there was scarce a dissenting voice--nearly
all wished to go. Nu listened with grave dignity. When all
had spoken who wished to speak he arose.

"It is best," he said.  "We will go away--"  Hud could
scarce repress a smile of elation "so soon as Nu, my son,
returns."  Hud scowled. "I go to seek him," concluded Nu.

The council was over.  The men dispersed to their various
duties.  Tha accompanied Nu in search of the latter's son.
A party of hunters went north toward the Barren Cliffs, at
the foot of which, not far from the sea, one of the tribe
had seen a bull mammoth the previous day.

Hud went to his cave and watched his opportunity  to see
Nat-ul alone.  At last his patience was rewarded by sight of
her going down toward the spring, which was now deserted.
Hud ran after her.  He overtook her as she stooped to fill
the bladder.

"I want you," said Hud, coming directly to the point in most
primitive fashion, "to be my mate."

Nat-ul looked at him for a moment and then laughed full in
his face.

"Go fetch the head of Oo and lay it before my father's
cave," she answered, "and then, maybe, Nat-ul will think
about becoming the mate of Hud.  But I forgot," she suddenly
cried, "Hud does not hunt--he prefers to remain at home with
the old men and the women and the children while the men go
forth in search of Gluh."  She emphasized the word men.

The man colored.  He was far from being a physical coward--
cowards were not bred until a later age. He seized her
roughly by the arm.

"Hud will show you that he is no coward," he cried, "for he
will take you away to be his mate, defying Nu and Tha and
Nu, the son of Nu.  If they come to take you from him, Hud
will slay them all."

As he spoke he dragged her toward the jungle beyond the
spring--the jungle that lay between the cliff and the sea.
Nat-ul struggled, fighting to be free; but Hud, a great hand
across her mouth and an arm about her body, forged silently
ahead with his captive.  Beyond the jungle the man turned
north along the beach. Now he relaxed his hold upon the
girl's mouth.

"Will you come with me?" he asked, "or must I drag you thus
all day?"

"I shall not come willingly," she replied, "for otherwise
Nu, the son of Nu, nor my father, nor my brother might have
the right to kill you for what you have done; but now they
may, for you are taking me by force as did the hairy people
who lived long time ago take their mates. You are a beast,
Hud, and when my men come upon you they will slay you for
the beast you are."

"You will suffer most," retorted Hud, "for if you do not
come willingly with me the tribe will kill the child."

"There will be no child," replied Nat-ul, and beneath her
red-doe skin she hugged the stag handle of a stone knife.

Hud kept to the beach to escape detection by the mammoth
hunters upon their return from the chase, for they, too, had
gone northward; but along the base of the cliffs upon the
opposite side of the strip of jungle that extended parallel
with the beach to the very foot of the Barren Cliffs, where
they jutted boldly out into the Restless Sea half a day's
journey northward.

The sun was directly above the two when Hud dragged his
unwilling companion up the steep face of the Barren Cliffs
which he had determined to cross in search of a secure
hiding place, for he knew that he might not return to the
tribe for a full moon after the thing that he had done. Even
then it might not be safe, for the men of the tribe of Nu
had not taken their mates by force for many generations.
There was a strong belief among them that the children of
women who mated through their own choice were more
beautiful, better natured and braver than those whose
mothers were little better than prisoners and slaves.  Hud
hoped, however, to persuade Nat-ul to say that she had run
away with him voluntarily, to which there could be no
objection. But that might require many days.

From the top of the Barren Cliffs there stretched away
toward the north an entirely different landscape than that
upon the southern side.  Here was a great level plain,
dotted with occasional clumps of trees.  At a little
distance a broad river ran down to the sea, its banks
clothed in jungle.  Upon the plain, herds of antelope, bison
and bos browsed in tall grasses and wild grains. Sheep, too,
were there, and rooting just within the jungle were great
droves of wild hog.  Now and then there would be a sudden
stampede among the feeding herbivora as some beast of prey
dashed among them. Bleating, bellowing, squealing or
grunting they would race off madly for a short distance only
to resume their feeding and love-making when assured that
they were not pursued, though the great carnivore might be
standing in full sight of them above the carcass of its
kill.  But why run further? All about them, in every
direction, were other savage, bloodthirsty beasts.  It was
but a part of their terror stricken lives, fleeing hither
and thither as they snatched sustenance, and only surviving
because they bred more surely than the beasts that preyed
upon them and could live further from water.

Hud led Nat-ul down the northern face of the Barren Cliffs;
searching for a cavern in which they might make their
temporary home.  Half way between the summit and the base he
came upon a cave.  Before it were strewn gnawed bones of
antelope, buffalo and even mammoth. Hud grasped his spear
more firmly as he peered into the dark interior.  Here was
the cave of Ur, the cave-bear.  Hud picked up a bone and
threw it within.  There was no remonstrative growi--Ur was
not at home.

Hud pushed Nat-ul within, then he rolled a few large
boulders before the cave's mouth--enough to bar the entrance
of the gigantic bear upon his return. After, he crawled
through the small opening that he had left. In the dim light
of the interior he saw Nat-ul flattened against the further
side of the cave. He crossed toward her to take her in his
arms.




CHAPTER III



THE GREAT CAVE-BEAR


When Nu, the son of Nu, regained consciousness daylight was
filtering through several tiny crevices in the debris that
blocked the entrance to the cave in which the earthquake had
found and imprisoned him. As he sat up, half bewildered, he
cast his eyes about the dim interior in search of Nat-ul.
Not seeing her he sprang to his feet and searched each
corner of the cavern minutely.  She was not there!  Nu stood
for a moment with one hand pressed to his forehead, deep in
thought.  He was trying to marshal from the recesses of his
memory the occurrences of his immediate past.

Finally he recalled that he had set forth from the village
of his people in search of Oo, as he had been wont to do
often in the past, that he might bring the head of the
fierce monster and lay it before the cave of Nat-ul,
daughter of Tha. But what had led him to believe that Nat-ul
should be there now in the cave beside him? He passed his
hand across his eyes, yet the same memory-vision persisted--a
confused and chaotic muddle of strange beasts and stranger men,
among which he and Nat-ul fled through an unknown world.

Nu shook his head and stamped his foot--it was all a
ridiculous dream. The shaking of the earth the previous
night, however, had been no dream--this and the fact that he
was buried alive were all too self-evident.  He remembered
that he had not found Oo at home, and when the quake had
come he had run into the cave of the great beast to hide
from the wrath of the elements.

Now he turned his attention to the broken rock piled before
the mouth of the cave. To his immense relief he discovered
that it was composed largely of small fragments.  These he
loosened and removed one by one, and though others continued
to roll down from above and take their places for a while,
until the cave behind him was half filled with the debris,
he eventually succeeded in making an opening of sufficient
size to pass his body through into the outer air.

Looking about him he discovered that the quake seemed to
have done but little damage other than to the top of the
cliff which had overhung before and now had fallen from
above, scattering its fragments upon the ledges and at the
foot of the escarpment.

For years Oo had laired here.  It was here that Nu had
sought him since he had determined to win his mate with the
greatest of all trophies, but now that his cave was choked
with the debris of the cliff top Oo would have to seek
elsewhere for a den, and that might carry him far from the
haunts of Nu. That would never do at all--Oo must be kept
within striking distance until his head had served the
purpose for which the troglodyte intended it.

So for several hours Nu labored industriously to remove the
rocks from the cave and from the ledge immediately before
it, as well as from the rough trail that led up from the
foot of the cliff. All the time he kept his spear close to
his hand, and  his  stone  ax  and  knife  ready in his
gee-string, for at any moment Oo might return.  As the great
cat had a way of appearing with most uncanny silence and
unexpectedness it behooved one to be ever on the alert. But
at last the work was completed and Nu set forth to search
for a breakfast.

He had determined to await the return of the saber-toothed
tiger and have the encounter over for good and all.  Had not
the young men and women of the tribe begun to smile of late
each time that he returned empty handed from the hunt for
Oo? None had doubted the sincerity of his desire to meet the
formidable beast from which it was no disgrace to fly, for
none doubted the courage of Nu; but nevertheless it was
humiliating to return always with excuses instead of the
head of his quarry.

Nu had scarce settled himself comfortably upon the branch of
a tree where he could command the various approaches to the
tiger's lair when his keen ear caught the sound of movement
in the jungle at his back.  The noise was up wind from him
and presently the scent of man came down the breeze to the
sensitive nostrils of the watcher. Now he was alert in this
new direction, every faculty bent to discovering the
identity of the newcomers before they sensed his presence.

Soon they came in view--two men, Nu and Tha searching for
the former's son. At sight of them Nu, the son of Nu, called
out a greeting.

"Where go Nu and Tha?" he asked, as the two came to a halt
beneath his perch.

"They sought Nu, the son of Nu," replied the young man's
father, "and having found him they return to the dwellings
of Nu's people, and Nu, the son of Nu, returns with them."

The young man shrugged his broad shoulders.

"Nu, the son of Nu, would remain and slay Qo," he replied.

"Come down and accompany your father," returned the older
man, "for the people of Nu start today in search of other
dwelling where the earth does not shake, or the cliffs
crumble and fall."

Nu slid nimbly to the ground.

"Tell me which way the tribe travels," said Nu, the son of
Nu, "that I may find them after I have slain Oo, if he
returns today. If he does not return today, then will I set
out tomorrow after the tribe."

The young man's father thought in silence for a moment.  He
was very proud of the prowess of his son. He should be as
elated as the young man himself when he returned with the
head of the hunter of men and of mammoths. Then, too, he
realized the humiliation which his son might feel on being
forced to return again without the trophy. He laid his hand
upon the young man's shoulder.

"Remain, my son," he said, "until the next light.  The tribe
will travel north beside the Restless Sea beyond the Barren
Clifis. Because of the old and the babes we shall move
slowly. It will be easy for you to overtake us.  If you do
not come we shall know that Oo was mightier than the son of
Nu."

Without other words the two older men turned and retraced
their steps toward the village, while Nu, the son of Nu,
climbed again to his perch within the tree.

All day he watched for the return of Oo. The great apes and
the lesser apes passed below and above and around him.
Sometimes they threw him a word in passing.  Below, the
woolly rhinoceros browsed and lay down to sleep. A pack of
hyenas Slunk down from the plateau above the cliffs.  They
circled the sleeping perissodactyl. The great beast opened
its little eyes.  Lumberingly it came to its feet, wheeling
about until it faced up wind, then, like a mountain run
amuck, it charged straight for the line of now growling
hyenas. The cowardly brutes leaped aside, and the whole pack
closed upon the rear of the rhinoceros.  The big beast
turned, quick as a cat. Down went his armed snout and one of
his tormentors was hurled far aloft, torn by the mighty horn
that had pierced him through.  Again the rhinoceros wheeled
and ran, and again the pack closed in upon him. The jungle
swallowed them, but for a long time Nu could hear the savage
growls of the pursuing beasts, and the yells of pain as from
time to time the rhinoceros turned upon his tormentors.

Then came a cave bear, lumbering down the face of the cliff.
At the mouth of the cave of Oo he halted sniffing about
warily, and uttering deep throated growls of rage and hate.
Nu listened for the answering challenge of the ancient enemy
of Ur, but no sound came. Nu shrugged his shoulders.  It was
evident that Oo was far away, otherwise he would never have
let Ur's challenge go unanswered.

Now the bear had continued his way to the foot of the cliff.
He was advancing toward the tree in which Nu sat.  At the
edge of the jungle the beast halted and commenced to nose in
the soft earth for roots.  Nu watched him.  If not the head
of Oo, why not the head of Ur? Oo would not return that day,
of that Nu was positive, for it was already late in the
afternoon and if the great tiger had been near he would have
heard and answered the challenge of the cave bear.

Nu dropped lightly to the ground upon the opposite side of
the tree from Ur.  In his right hand he grasped his long,
heavy spear.  In his left was his stone ax.  He approached
the huge beast from the rear, coming within a few paces of
it before the animal was aware of his presence, for none of
the jungle folk moved more noiselessly than primeval man.

But at last Ur looked up, and at the same instant Nu's
mighty muscles launched the stone tipped spear.  Straight as
a bullet it sped toward the breast of the hairy monster,
burying itself deep in his body as he lunged forward to
seize the rash creature that dared attack him.

Nu held his ground, standing with feet apart and swinging
his heavy stone ax to and fro in both hands.  The cave bear
rose upon his hind feet as he neared the man, towering high
above his enemy's head.  With gaping jaws and outstretched
paws the terrible beast advanced, now and then tearing at
the stout haft of the spear protruding from its breast, and
giving tongue to roars of rage and pain that shook the
earth.

As the mighty forearms reached for him, Nu dodged beneath
them, swinging his ax to the side of the bear's head as he
passed.  With a howl the beast wheeled and charged in the
new direction, but again Nu followed his previous tactics,
and again a crushing blow fell upon the side of the cave
bear's jaw.

Blood spurted from the creature's mouth and nostrils, for
not only had the Stone ax brought blood, but the stone spear
had penetrated the savage lungs.  And now Ur did what Nu had
been waiting for him to do.  He dropped upon all fours and
raced madly toward his tormentor.  The changed position
brought the top of the skull within reach of the man's
weapon, and this time, as he sidestepped the charge, he
brought the ax down full upon the bear's forehead, between
his eyes.

Stunned, the beast staggered and stumbled, his nose buried
in the trampled mud and grass of the battlefield.  Only for
an instant would he be thus, and in that instant must Nu
leap in and finish him. Nor did he hesitate.  Dropping his
ax he sprang upon Ur with his stone knife, and again and
again sent the blade into the wild heart.  Before the cave
bear regained full consciousness he rolled over upon his
side, dead.

For half an hour Nu was busy removing the head, and then he
set himself to the task of skinning the beast.  His methods
were crude, but he worked much faster with his primitive
implements than modern man with keen knives. Before another
hour had passed he had the skin off and rolled into a
bundle, and had cut a great steak from Ur's loin.  Now he
gathered some dry leaves and tinder and with a sharpened bit
of hardwood produced fire by twirling the point vigorously
in a tiny hollow scooped from another piece of hard wood.
When the blaze had been nursed to a fire of respectable
dimensions, Nu impaled the steak upon a small branch and
squatting before the blaze grilled his supper. It was half
burned and half raw and partially smoked, but that he
enjoyed it was evidenced by the fact that he devoured it
all.

Afterward he placed the pelt upon his shoulder and set forth
upon his return to his people. He returned directly to the
cliffs by the Restless Sea, for he did not know whether the
tribe had yet left in search of the new camping ground or
not.  It was night by the time he emerged from the jungle at
the foot of the cliff.  A cursory exploration showed him
that the tribe had gone, and so he crawled into his own cave
for the night. In the morning he easily could overtake them.

When Hud crossed the cave toward Nat-ul he had expected to
encounter physical resistance, and so he came half crouched
and with hands outstretched to seize and subdue her.

"Hud," said the girl, "if I come to you willingly will you
treat me kindly always?"

The man came to a stop a few feet from his victim. Evidently
it was going to be more easy than he had anticipated.  He
did not relish the idea of taking a she-tiger for mate, and
so he was glad to make whatever promises the girl required.
Afterward he could keep such as were easiest to keep.

"Hud will be a kind mate," he answered.

The girl stepped toward him, and Hud met her with encircling
arms; but as hers went around him he failed to see the sharp
stone knife in Nat-ul's right hand. The first he knew of it
was when it was plunged remorselessly into his back beneath
his left shoulder blade. Then Hud tried to disengage himself
from the girl's embrace, but struggle as he would, she clung
to him tenaciously, plunging the weapon time and time again
into his back.

He tried to reach her throat with his fingers, but her sharp
teeth fastened upon his hand, and then, with his free hand,
he beat upon her face, but only for an instant, as the knife
found his heart, and with a groan he sank to the rocky floor
of the cave.

Without waiting to know that he was dead Nat-ul rushed from
the dark interior.  Swiftly she scaled the Barren Cliffs and
dropped once more into her own valley upon the other side.
Along the beach she raced back toward the dwellings of her
people, not knowing that at that very moment they were
setting out in search of a new home. At mid-afternoon she
passed them scarce half a mile away, for they had taken the
way that led upon the far side of the jungle that they might
meet the returning mammoth hunters, and so Nat-ul came to
the deserted caves of her tribe at night-fall only to find
that her people had departed.

Supperless, she crawled into one of the smaller and higher
caves, for it would be futile to attempt to discover the
trail of the departed tribe while night with its darkness
and its innumerable horrors enveloped the earth.  She had
dozed once when she was awakened by the sound of movement
upon the face of the cliff.  Scarce breathing, she lay
listening. Was it man or beast that roamed through the
deserted haunts of her tribe?  Higher and higher up the face
of the cliff came the sound of the midnight prowler.  That
the creature, whatever it was, was making a systematic
search of the caves seemed all too apparent.  It would be
but a question of minutes before it would reach her hiding
place.

Nat-ul grasped her knife more firmly.  The sounds ceased
upon the ledge directly beneath her. Then, after a few
moments they were resumed, but to the girl's relief they now
retreated down the steep bluff.  Presently they ceased
entirely, and though it was hours before she could quiet her
fears she at last fell into a deep slumber.

* * *

At dawn Nu, the son of Nu, awoke. He rose and stretched
himself, standing in the glare of the new sun upon the ledge
before his cave. Fifty feet above him slept the girl he
loved. Nu gathered up his weapons and his bear skin, and
moved silently down to the spring where he quenched his
thirst.  Then he passed through the jungle to the sea.  Here
he removed his loincloth and the skin that covered his
shoulders and waded into the surf. In his right hand he held
his knife, for great reptiles inhabited the Restless Sea.
Carefully he bathed, keeping a wary watch for enemies in the
water or upon the land behind. In him was no fear, for he
knew no other existence than that which might present at any
moment the necessity of battling for his life with some
slimy creature of the deep, or equally ferocious denizen of
the jungle or the hills.  To Nu it was but a part of the
day's work.  You or I might survive a single day were we
suddenly cast back into the primeval savagery of Nu's long
dead age, and Nu, if as suddenly transplanted to the corner
of Fifth Avenue and Twenty-third Street might escape
destruction for a few hours, but sooner or later a trolley
car or a taxi would pounce upon him.

His ablutions completed, the troglodyte replaced his lion
cloth and his shaggy fur, took up his weapons and his burden
and set forth upon the trail of his father's people. And
above him, as he passed again along the foot of the cliff,
the woman that he loved slept in ignorance of his presence.

When, at last, Nat-ul awoke the sun was high in the heavens.
The girl came cautiously down the cliff face, looking first
in one direction and then another.  Often pausing for
several minutes at a time to listen.  All about her were the
noises of the jungle and the sea and the air, for great
birds and horrid winged reptiles threatened primeval men as
sorely from above as did the carnivora of the land from his
own plane.

She came to the spring in safety, and passed on into the
jungle in search of food, for she was half famished. Fruits
and vegetables, with grasshoppers, caterpillars and small
rodents, and the eggs of birds and reptiles were what she
sought, nor was she long in satisfying the cravings of her
appetite.  Nature was infinitely more bountiful in those
days than at the present, for she had infinitely more
numerous and often far greater stomachs to satisfy then than
now.

Nat-ul passed through the jungle to the beach.  She had
wanted to bathe, but, alone, she dared not.  Now she stood
wondering in which direction the tribe had gone. She knew
that ordinarily if they had been traveling either north or
south they would follow the hard-packed sand of the beach,
for there the traveling was easiest, but the tide would have
washed away their spoor long before this.  She had seen
signs of their passage north beside the jungle, but the
trail was an old, well worn one traversed daily by many
feet, so she had not been able to guess from it that it
contained the guide to the direction her people had taken.

As she stood upon the beach trying to reason out her future
plans, it became apparent that if the tribe had gone north
she would have met them on her return from the Barren Cliffs
yesterday, and so, as she had not met them, they must have
gone south.

And so she turned her own footsteps south away from her
people and from Nu.




CHAPTER IV



THE BOAT BUILDERS


Nat-ul kept to the beach as she tramped southward.  Upon her
right was the jungle, upon her left the great sea,
stretching away she knew not whither. To her it represented
the boundary of the world--all beyond was an appalling waste
of water.  To the southeast she could see the outlines of
islands.  They were familiar objects, yet shrouded in
mystery.  Often they formed the topic of conversation among
her people.  What was there upon them?  Were they inhabited?
And if so, were the creatures men and women like themselves?
To Nat-ul they were as full of romantic mystery as are the
stars and planets to us, but she knew less of them than we
do of the countless brilliant islands that dot the silent
sea of space--they were further from Nat-ul and her people
than is Mars from us.   A boat was as utterly unknown to
Nat-ul as was a telescope.

Just beyond a rise of ground ahead of Nat-ul fifty or sixty
men, women and children were busy beside a little stream
that flowed into the sea.  When Nat-ul topped the rise and
her eyes fell upon these strangers she dropped suddenly flat
upon her belly behind a bush. There she watched the peculiar
actions of these people.  It was evident that they had but
just arrived after a long march.  They differed in many ways
from any people she had ever seen.  Their skins were of the
less dangerous animals--those which fed upon grasses. Their
head-dresses bore the horns of bulls and antelope, giving
them, altogether, a most fearsome aspect.

But it was their habitations and the work upon which they
were engaged which caused Nat-ul the greatest wonderment.
Their caves were not caves at all.  They were constructed of
a number of long saplings leaned inward against one another
in a circle, and covered with skins and brush, or the great
fronds of giant palms as well as those of the plant which is
known today as it was in Nat-ul's time as elephant's ear,
because of its resemblance to that portion of the great
pachyderm.

The weapons of these peoples were unlike those with which
Nat-ul was familiar.  The stone ax was of a different shape,
and the spear was much shorter and stouter, its point being
barbed, and having one end of a long, plaited sinew rope
tied to it, while the balance of the rope was fastened in a
coil at the warrior's side. Nat-ul knew nothing of fisher
folk.  Her own people often caught fish.  Sometimes they
speared them with their light spears, but they did not make
a business of fishing.  So she did not know that the spears
of these strangers answered the double purpose of weapons of
warfare and harpoons.

What interested her most, however, was the strange work upon
which many of the people were engaged. They had cut down a
number of large trees, which they had chopped and burned
into different lengths, from fifteen to twenty feet. With
their stone axes they had hewn away the bark and heavier
growth along the upper surfaces of the logs.  The softer,
pithy centers had been scooped out and fires built within.

Nat-ul could not but wonder at the purpose of all this
labor. She saw the men and women tending the fires
carefully, extinguishing with water any blaze that seemed
threatening to pierce too far from the center of a tree.
Deeper and deeper the flames ate until there remained but a
thin outer husk of firehardened wood.

So intent was the girl upon the strange sights before her
that she did not note the approach of a tall, young warrior
from the jungle at her right and a little behind her. The
man was tall and straight.  A shaggy bison hide fell from
his shoulders, the tail dragging upon the ground behind him.
Upon his head the skull of the bull fitted firmly--a
primitive helmet--clothed in its dried skin and with the
short, stout horns protruding at right angles from his
temples.

In his right hand was the stout harpoon and at his waist the
coil of sinew rope.  The robe, falling away in front,
disclosed a well knit, muscular figure, naked but for a loin
cloth of doe skin in which was stuck his stone knife and ax.

For several minutes he stood watching the girl, his eyes
glowing at the beauties of her profile and lithe, graceful
figure. Then, very cautiously, he crept toward her.  It was
Tur of the Boat Builders. Never in his life had Tur looked
upon a more beautiful woman. To see her was to want her. Tur
must own her. He was almost upon her when a dried twig
snapped beneath his tread.

Like a startled antelope Nat-ul was upon her feet. At the
same instant Tur leaped forward to seize her. She was
between him and the camp she had been watching.  To run
toward them would have meant certain capture.  Like a shot
she wheeled right into Tur's outstretched arms, but as they
closed to grasp her they encircled but empty air. Nat-ul had
ducked beneath the young warrior's eager embrace and was
fleeing north along the beach, like a frightened deer.

After her sprang Tur, calling upon her to stop; but with
terror goaded speed the fleet footed Nat-ul raced on. A
hundred paces behind her came Tur.  For a short distance she
might outstrip him, he knew, but in the end his mightier
muscles would prevail.  Already she was lagging. No longer
was the distance between them growing. Soon it would lessen.
He would close upon her--and then!

* * *

To the north of the Barren Cliffs Nu overtook the tribe of
Nu, his father. He came upon them during a period of rest,
and as he approached he noted the constraint of their
manners as they greeted him.  The young women looked at him
with sorrowing eyes. His young warrior friends did not smile
as he called their names in passing.

Straight to Nu, his father, he went, as became a returning
warrior.  He found the chief sitting with Tha before a small
fire where a ptarmigan, clay wrapped, was roasting.

His father rose and greeted him. There was pleasure in the
older man's eyes at sight of his son, but no smile upon his
lips.  He glanced at the head and pelt of Ur.

"Oo did not return?" he asked.

"Oo did not return," replied the son.

Nu, the son of Nu, looked about among the women and children
and the uneasy warriors. She he sought was not there. His
mother came and kissed him as did Una his sister.

"Where is Nat-ul?" asked Nu.

His mother and his sister looked at one another and then at
his father.  Nu, the chief, looked at Tha.  Tha rose and
came before the young man. He laid his hand upon the other's
shoulder.

"Since your mother bore you," he said, "always have I loved
you--loved you second only to Aht, my own son. Some day I
hoped that you would become my son, for I saw that you loved
Nat-ul, my daughter.  But now Nat-ul has gone away with Hud.
We know not how it happened, but Ra-el, the daughter of Kor,
says that she went willingly."

He got no further.

"It is a lie!" cried Nu, the son of Nu. "Nat-ul never went
willingly with Hud or any other. When did they go? Whither
went they? Tell me, and I will follow and bring back Nat-ul,
and with her own lips she will give Ra-el the lie. I will
bring her back if she still lives, but unless she escaped
Hud she is dead, for she would have died rather than mate
with another than Nu, the son of Nu.  I have spoken.  Which
way went they?"

No one could tell him.  All that they knew was that when the
tribe set out from their old dwellings Hud and Nat-ul could
not be found, and then Ra-el had come forward and said that
the two had fled together. When he questioned Ra-el he could
glean nothing more from her, but she stuck obstinately to
her assertion that Nat-ul had gone willingly.

"And will Nu, the son of Nu, be such a fool as to follow
after a woman who has chosen another mate when there are
those as beautiful whom Nu, the son of Nu, could have for
the asking?" she said.

At her words the young man saw the motive behind her
statement that Nat-ul had run away voluntarily with Hud, and
now he was more positive than ever that the girl did not
speak the truth. Her words recalled many little occurrences
in the past that had slipped by unnoticed at a time when all
his thoughts were of the splendid Nat-ul.  It was evident
that Ra-el would have liked Nu for herself.

The young man returned to his father's side.

"I go," he said, "nor shall I return until I know the
truth."

The older man laid his hand upon the shoulder of the
younger.

"Go, my son," he said; "your father's heart goes with you."

In silence Nu, the son of Nu, retraced his steps southward
toward the Barren Cliffs. It was his intention to return
directly to the former dwellings of his people and there
search out the spoor of Hud and Nat-ul. A great rage burned
in his heart as he thought of the foul deed that Hud had
done. The tribe of Nu had progressed far beyond the status
of the beasts. They acknowledged certain property rights,
among them the inalienable right of the man to his mate,
and, going a step further, the right of the woman to mate as
she chose. That Nat-ul had chosen to mate with Hud, Nu could
not for a moment admit. He knew the courageous nature of the
girl, and, knowing it, knew that had she preferred Hud to
him she would have mated with the man of her choice openly
after the manner of the tribe. No, Nat-ul would never have
run off with any man--not even himself.

Half way up the face of the Barren Cliffs Nu was arrested by
a faint moan, coming apparently from a cave at his right.
He had no time to devote to the pleasures of the chase, but
there was a human note in the sound that he had heard that
brought him up all suddenly alert and listening. After a
moment it was repeated. No, there could be no doubt of it--
that sound came only from a human throat.  Cautiously Nu
crept toward the mouth of the cave from which the moaning
seemed to issue. At the entrance he came to a sudden halt,
at the sight that met his eyes.

There, in the half light of the entrance, lay Hud in a pool
of blood. The man was breathing feebly. Nu called him by
name.  Hud opened his eyes. When he saw who stood over him
he shrugged his shoulders and lay still, as though to say,
the worst has already been done to me--you can do no more.

"Where is Nat-ul?" asked Nu.

Hud shook his head. Nu knelt beside him raising his head in
his arms.

"Where is Nat-ul, man?" he cried, shaking the dying warrior.
"Tell me before you die. I do not ask if she went with you
willingly, for I know that she did not--all I ask is what
have you done with her? Does she live? And if she lives,
where is she?"

Hud tried to speak. The effort cost him dear. But at last he
managed to whisper a few words.

"She-did-this," he panted.  "Then she--went--away.  I
don't--know--"  he gasped, and died.

Nu dropped him back upon the stone floor of the cave and ran
out upon the ledge. He searched about the face of the cliff,
even going down upon all fours and creeping from ledge to
ledge, oftentimes with his nose close to the trail--
sniffing.

After half an hour of going back and forth over the same
ground and following a rocky ascent upward toward the summit
of the cliff a dozen times, as though proving and reproving
the correctness of his deductions, Nu at last set forth
across the Barren Cliffs and down onto the beach beside the
Restless Sea.

Here he found the spoor more plainly marked in many places
above high tide where Nat-ul's little sandals had left their
legible record in the soft loam or upon the higher sand that
the water had not reached. The way led southward, and
southward hurried Nu, the son of Nu. Straight to the old
dwellings led the trail.  There Nu  found  evidence that
Nat-ul had spent the night in a cave above the one in which
he had slept. There was the bed of grasses and a trace of
the delicate aroma that our blunted sense of smell could
never have detected, but which was plain to Nu, and
deliciously familiar.

A pang of regret seized him as he realized that his Nat-ul
had been so close to him, and that he had unwittingly
permitted her to remain alone and unprotected amidst the
countless dangers of their savage world, and to go forth,
none knew where, into other myriad dangers.

Returning to the foot of the cliff he once more came upon
the girl's spoor.  Again it led south along the beach.
Swiftly he followed it until it stopped behind a little
clump of bushes at the top of a rise in the ground. Before
Nu realized that this was the southern limit of the trail he
had seen the village beyond and the people engaged in what
to him seemed a strange occupation. He knew that the same
sight had brought Nat-ul to a halt a few hours before, and
now he saw where she had lain upon her belly watching, just
as he was watching.  For a few minutes he lay watching the
workers and seeking through the little cluster of skin and
thatch shelters for some sign that Nat-ul was a prisoner
there.

Nu had never seen a boat or guessed that such a thing might
be. His people had been hunters from time immemorial.  They
had come down from the great plateaus far inland but a few
generations since. Then, for the first time, had his
forefathers seen the ocean. As yet they had not met with any
need that required them to navigate its waters, nor had they
come in contact with the Boat Builders who dwelt far south
at the mouth of a great river that emptied into the Restless
Sea.

Now, for the first time, Nu saw both the boats and the Boat
Builders. For the first time he saw artificial shelters, and
to Nu they seemed frail and uncomfortable things by
comparison with his eternal caves. The Boat Builders had
been several days in this new camp. What had driven them so
far north of their ancestral home, who may guess? A tribal
feud, perhaps; or the birth of a new force that was to drive
them and their progeny across the face of the world in
restless wanderings to the end of time--the primitive
wanderlust from which so many of us suffer, and yet would
not forego.

Nu saw that of all the workers one tall young giant labored
most rapidly.  His haste seemed almost verging upon frenzy.
Nu wondered what he could be about upon the felled tree
trunk that required so much exertion. Nu did not like work
of that nature. It is true that he had never done any manual
labor outside the needs of the chase, but intuitively he
knew that he disliked it.  He was a hunter, a warrior, and
even then, in his primitive and untutored mind, there arose
a species of contempt for the drudge. At last, tiring of
watching, he turned his attention again to the spoor he had
been following.  Where had Nat-ul gone after lying here
behind these bushes?

Nu crawled about until he saw evidences of the girl's quick
leap to her feet and her rapid flight. Then it was he came
upon the footprints of Tur. Now Nu's blood ran hot. it
surged through his heart and pounded against his temples--
Nat-ul, his Nat-ul, was in danger.

He saw where the girl had dodged past the man. He saw,
distinctly in the sand, the marks of Tur's quickly turning
footsteps as he wheeled in pursuit. He saw that the two had
been running rapidly along the beach toward the north--the
man following the girl, and then, to his surprise, he saw
that the man had come to a sudden stop, had taken a few
steps forward, stood for some time looking seaward and then
turned and raced back toward the strange camp at breakneck
speed.

And the girl's trail had continued toward the north for
perhaps a hundred paces beyond the point at which the man
had halted. Nu followed it easily--they were fresh signs
since the last high tide, alone and uncrossed upon a wide
stretch of smooth, white sand.

Nu followed the dainty imprints of Nat-ul's swiftly flying
little feet for a hundred paces beyond the end of the man's
pursuit--and came to a dead, bewildered halt. The foot
prints ended abruptly upon the beach midway between the
ocean and the jungle. About them was only an expanse of
unbroken sand. They simply ceased, that was all.  They did
not double back upon themselves. They did not enter the
ocean. They did not approach the jungle.  They stopped as
though Nat-ul had suddenly been swallowed by a great hole in
the beach. But there was no hole. Nu halted and looked about
in every direction. There was no trace of any living thing
about. Where had Nat-ul gone? What had become of her? Had
the foot prints of the man who pursued her reached the point
upon the sand where hers ended, Nu would have concluded that
he had picked her up and carried her back to his village;
but the man had been a hundred paces behind Nat-ul when her
trail ceased, nor had he approached closer to the spot at
any time. And when he had returned to his village he had
done so at a rapid run, and the lightness of his spoor
indicated that he had not been burdened with a heavy load.

For some time Nu stood in bewildered thought, but at last he
turned back toward the village of the Boat Builders. Nu knew
little of the super-natural, and so he turned first to the
nearest material and natural cause of Nat-ul's disappearance
that he could conceive--the man who had pursued her. And
that man had returned to the village of the strangers who
were diligently burning and scooping the hearts out of
felled trees.

Nu returned to the vantage of the bush before the village.
Here he lay down again to watch--he was positive that in
some way these people were responsible for the disappearance
of Nat-ul. They knew where she was, and, judging by his own
estimate of the girl, he knew that the man who had seen her
and pursued her would not lightly relinquish his attempts to
obtain her. Nu had seen the women of the strangers--beside
his Nat-ul they looked like the shes of the ape-folk. No,
the man would seek to follow and capture the radiant
stranger. Nu wished that he could guess which of the men it
was who had chased Nat-ul. Something told him that it was
the young giant who worked with such feverish haste, so Nu
watched him most closely.

At last Tur's boat was completed.  The centers of the trees
the Boat Builders selected for their craft is soft, and
easily burned and scooped. The fires kindled in the hollowed
trunk served a double purpose--they ate away the harder
portions nearer the outside and at the same time tended to
harden what remained.  The result was a fairly light and
staunch dug-out.

When Tur's boat was finished he called to several of the
other workers.  These came, and, lending a hand with Tur,
dragged the hollowed log down to the water. One of the women
came with a long stick, larger at one end than the other,
and with the large end flattened upon both sides. It was a
paddle.  Tur tossed this into the boat and then running
through the surf he launched his primitive craft upon the
crest of a receding roller, leaped in, and seizing the
paddle struck out vigorously against the next incoming wave.

Nu watched him with wide eyes. His estimate of the man rose
in leaps and bounds. Here was sport! And Nu did not have to
attempt the feat he had witnessed to know that it required
skill and courage.  Only a brave man would venture the
perils of the awful waters. Where was he going? Nu saw that
he paddled straight out into the sea. In the distance were
the islands. Could he be going to these? Nu, from childhood,
had always longed to explore those distant lands of mystery.
These people had found a way.  Nu had learned something--an
aeroplane could not have presented greater wonders to him
than did this crude dug-out.

For a while he watched the man in the little boat.  They
grew smaller and smaller as wind, tide and the sturdy
strokes of the paddler carried the hollowed log farther out
to sea.  Then Nu turned his attention once more to the other
workers.  He saw that they, too, were rapidly completing
their boats.  They were talking back and forth among
themselves, raising their voices, as they were scattered
over a considerable distance about the village. Nu caught a
word now and then. The language was similar to his own. He
discovered that they were talking about the man who had just
departed, and about his venture.  Nu wanted to hear more.
He crept cautiously to his right into the jungle, circling
about until he was in the rear of the camp.  Then he
approached through the dense vegetation to the little
clearing the strangers had made about their shelters.  As he
peered through the curtain of tangled creepers that hid him
from their view, he saw the camp more closely. He saw the
ring of ashes that surrounded it--the remains of the
nocturnal fires that kept off the beasts of prey by night.
He saw the cooking fire before each rude shelter.  He saw
pots of clay--something new to him. He saw the women and the
children and the men.  They did not differ greatly from his
own people, though their garments and weapons were
dissimilar. And now he could hear all their conversation.

"She must be beautiful," a man was saying, "or Tur would not
venture across this strange water to those unknown lands in
search of her," and he grinned broadly, casting a knowing
glance at a young woman who suckled a babe, as she sat
scraping, scraping, scraping with a bit of sharpened flint
upon the hide of an aurochs, pegged out upon the ground
before her.

The young woman looked up with an ugly scowl.

"Let him bring her back," she cried, "and she will no longer
be beautiful.  This will I do to her face," and she fell to
scraping viciously upon the skin.

"Tur was very angry when she escaped him," continued the
man.  "He almost had his hands upon her; but he will find
her, though whether there will be enough left of her to
bring back is hard to say--I, myself, rather doubt it and
think that it is a foolish thing for Tur to waste his time
thus."

Nu was nonplused.  Could it be possible that the man they
called Tur was pursuing Nat-ul to those distant islands?
How could Nat-ul be there? It was impossible. And yet there
seemed little doubt from the conversation he had overheard
that the man was following some woman across the water to
the mysterious lands--a woman he had just surprised and
chased that very day, and who had eluded him. Who else could
it be but Nat-ul?




CHAPTER V



NU' S FIRST VOYAGE


Presently all the boats were completed, and the men dragged
them one by one down close to the water.  In them they
placed their paddles, their axes and their harpoons, just as
Tur had before he departed. Nu watched them with feverish
interest.  At last all have been launched, and are being
paddled vigorously beyond the surf.  In the comparatively
smoother water the boats turn toward the north and south,
scattering.  Evidently they are not bound for the distant
islands.  Nu sees a warrior rise suddenly in the bow of one
of the boats and hurl his spear quickly into the water.
Immediately there is a great commotion in the boat and in
the water beside it. There are three men in each boat. Two
in the boat Nu is watching, paddle frantically away from the
thing that lashes the sea beside them. Nu guessed what had
occurred.

The spearman had buried his weapon in some huge creature of
the deep, and the battle was on.  They were too far out for
Nu to see the details of the conflict, but he saw the boat
towed swiftly by the wounded creature as it raced toward the
open sea.  He saw the boat pulled closer along-side and
another spear hurled into the fleeing thing.  He understood
now why these men tied their spear-heads to long ropes.  He
saw the sudden commotion in the dug-out as the hunted turned
upon the hunters. He saw the swift stroke of a mighty
flipper as it rose from the water and fell with awful fury
across the boat. He saw the other boats hurrying toward the
scene of battle; but before they reached the spot all was
quiet save for two pieces of bobbing tree trunk and the head
and shoulders of a single man who clung to one of them.  A
few minutes later he was dragged into another boat and the
fleet dispersed again to search out other prey.

Soon all were out of sight beyond a promontory except a
single craft which fished before the village.  These men
evidently sought less formidable game, and Nu could see that
from the teeming sea they were dragging in great fish almost
as rapidly as they could hurl their weapons. Soon the boat
was completely filled, and with their great load the men
paddled slowly inshore.

As they came a sudden resolution formed in Nu's mind.  The
sight of the dangerous sport upon the waters had filled him
with a strong desire to emulate these strangers, but greater
than that was the power of another suggestion which the idea
held forth.

As the men dragged the boat upon the beach the women came
down to meet them, carrying great bags of bull hide sewn
with bullock sinew. Into these they gathered the fish and
dragged their loads over the ground toward their camp.

The men, their day's work evidently finished, stretched out
beneath the shade of trees to sleep. This was the time!  Nu
moved stealthily to his hands and knees. He grasped his long
spear and his stone ax tightly in his hands.  The boat lay
upon the open beach. There was no near point where he might
reach it undetected by the women.  The alternative rather
appealed to Nu's warlike nature.  It was nothing less than
rushing directly through the village.

He came to his feet and advanced lightly among the shelters.
No need to give the alarm before he was detected.  He was
directly behind the young woman who scraped the aurochs'
skin. She did not hear his light footfall. The baby, now
sitting by her side playing with the aurochs' tail, looked
up to see the stranger close upon him. He lunged toward his
mother with a lusty shriek. Instantly the camp was in
commotion. No need now for stealth.  With a war whoop that
might have sprung from a score of lusty lungs Nu leaped
through the village among the frightened women and the
startled men, awakened rudely from their sleep.

Straight toward the boat ran Nu, and upon his heels raced
the three warriors.  One was coming toward him from the
side.  He was quite close, so close that he came upon Nu at
the same instant that the latter reached the boat. The two
fell upon one another with their great axes, but Nu, the son
of Nu, was a mighty warrior. He dodged the blow of the
other's ax, and before his adversary could recover himself
to deliver a second Nu's weapon fell upon his skull,
crushing it as if it had been an egg shell.

Now Nu seized the boat and dragged it toward the water as he
had seen the strangers do. But he had taken but a half dozen
steps when he was forced to turn and defend himself against
the remaining warriors. With savage howls they were upon
him, their women huddled upon the beach behind them shouting
wild cries of encouragement to their men and defiance to the
enemy. Nu abandoned the boat and rushed to meet his
antagonists.  His long spear, thrown with the power of his
mighty muscles, passed through the body of the foremost Boat
Builder, who was upon the point of hurling his stout harpoon
at Nu. Down went the harpooner. Up rose a chorus of howls
and lamentations from the women. Now the third warrior
closed upon the troglodyte. It was too close for spear work,
and so the fellow dropped his heavy weapon and leaped to
close quarters with his knife. Down the two men went into
the knee deep water, striking at one another with their
knives as they sought death holds with their free hands. A
great roller rumbled in upon them, turning them over and
over as it carried them up the beach.  Still they fought,
sputtering and choking in the salty brine, but when the wave
receded it left a corpse behind it upon the beach, stabbed
through and through the great hairy chest by the long, keen
knife of Nu, the son of Nu.

The cave man rose, dripping, to his feet and turned back
toward the sea. The roller had carried the boat out with it.
The women, furious now at the death of their three men,
rushed forward to drag down the victor. Savage creatures
they were, but little less sinister than their males.  Their
long hair streamed in the wind.  Their faces were distorted
by rage and hatred. They screamed aloud their taunts and
insults and challenges; but Nu did not wait to battle with
them. Instead he dove into the surf and struck out for the
drifting boat.  His spear was lost, but he clung to his ax.
His knife he had returned to his gee-string.

They ran into the water to their waists, but Nu was beyond
their reach. In a moment more he had come to the side of the
boat.  Tossing in his ax he clambered over the side, scarce
escaping overturning the hollowed log. Once safely within he
took up the paddle, an unaccustomed implement, and,
fashioning his strokes after those of the men he had
watched, he made headway from the shore.

The tide and the wind helped him, but he found, too, that he
quickly mastered the art of paddling. First he discovered
that when he paddled exclusively upon the side of his spear
hand the boat turned in the opposite direction, and so he
understood why the boatmen had paddled alternately upon one
side and the other.  When he did this the craft kept a
straighter course in the direction he wished to go--the
distant land of mystery.

Half way across the water that spread between the main land
and the nearest island a monstrous shape loomed suddenly
close to the boat's side. A long neck surmounted by a huge
reptilian head shot above the surface, and wide gaping jaws
opened to seize the paddler.  Protruding eyes glared down
upon him, and then the thing struck. Nu dodged to one side
and struck back with his knife. With a hiss and scream the
creature dove beneath the surface only to reappear a moment
later upon the opposite side of the boat.  Blood flowed from
the knife wound in its neck.  Again it snapped at the man,
again the knife found its neck as Nu crouched to one side to
elude the gaping jaws.  Once more the thing dove, and almost
simultaneously a mighty tail rose high out of the water
above the man's head.  Nu seized the paddle and drove the
boat forward just as that terrific engine of destruction
fell with a mighty whack upon the very spot the boat had
quit.  The blow, had it touched the craft, would have
splintered it into firewood.  For a few minutes the sea was
churned to white, crimson stained by the creature's blood,
as it thrashed about in impotent fury.  Then, as Nu paddled
away, the raging ceased and the great carcass floated upon
its side.

On went Nu, paddling with redoubled energy toward the
distant goal.  What he expected to find at his journey's end
he could scarce have told. That Nat-ul was there he could
not believe, yet what else was drawing him through countless
dangers across the face of the terrible waters? The man,
Tur, had come hither.  He it was who had pursued Nat-ul. Was
he still pursuing her? That he was following some woman Nu
was positive from the fragments of conversation he had
overheard, and yet though try as he would to believe it he
could not make his judgment accept as a possibility the
chance that it was really Nat-ul whom the man expected to
find upon this distant land.

The wind had risen considerably since Nu set out upon his
perilous journey. Already the waves were running high,
tipped with white. That the island lay straight before the
wind was all that saved the rude craft from instant
annihilation. All about him the sea was alive with preying
monsters. Titanic duels were in progress upon every hand, as
the ferocious reptilia battled over their kills, or, turning
from the chase, fell upon one another in frenzied joy of
battle while their fortunate quarry swam rapidly away.

Through innumerable dangers swept the littie tree-trunk
skiff to be deposited at last upon the surf beaten beach of
the nearest island. Scarce had Nu landed and dragged his
boat above the rollers when he descried another boat a short
distance from his own.  That this belonged to the man, Tur,
he had no doubt, and seizing his ax he hastened to it to
pick up and follow the other's spoor wherever it might lead.

Clean cut and distinct in the sand Nu found the impress of
Tur's sandals, nor did it require a second glance at them to
convince the troglodyte that they had been made by the same
feet that had pursued Nat-ul upon the mainland beach.

The trail led around a rocky promontory into a deep and
somber gorge. Up the center of this it followed the course
of a rapid brook, leaping downward toward the sea.  From
time to time the man had evidently essayed to scale the
cliffs, first upon one side and then upon the other, but
each time he had abandoned the attempt before the
difficulties and dangers of the precipitous crags.

To Nu the ascent would have proved a simple matter, and so
he wondered why the man had turned back each time after
clambering but a short distance from the base of the cliffs;
but Tur was not a cliff dweller.  His peoples had come from
a great, level river valley beside the sea--from a country
where cliffs and natural caves were the exception rather
than the rule, so he had had but little practice in climbing
of that sort.

Finally, at the head of the ravine, he had been forced to
climb or retrace his steps, and here, at last, he had
managed to clamber out upon the table land that stretched
beyond the summit. Across this the trail led, turning
suddenly toward the west at the edge of another ravine.  The
abruptness with which the spoor wheeled to the right
indicated to Nu that something had suddenly attracted the
man's attention toward the new direction and that he had
proceeded at a rapid run to investigate.  Could he here have
discovered the woman he sought? Was he already in pursuit of
Nat-ul?--if it was, indeed, she. Was he even now in
possession of her?

Nu, too, wheeled to the west and raced rapidly along the
well-marked trail.  Since he had come upon the signs of Tur,
Nu's speed had been infinitely greater than that of the Boat
Builder.

This his woodcraft told him, so he knew that he was
constantly gaining upon the man who was still unconscious of
the fact that he was being pursued.

Down the steep side of the ravine Tur must have slid and
rolled in a most reckless fashion. At the bottom was a dense
forest through which the trail led back toward the sea,
after the man had made a series of frantic but futile
attempts to scale the opposite heights.

What had he seen or heard or followed that had led him to
make such desperate attempts to gain the opposite summit?
Should Nu follow him down the ravine, or clamber to the
vantage point the other had been unable to reach?

For an instant the troglodyte hesitated.  Then he wheeled
toward the cliff, and with the agility of long practice
backed by ages of cliff dwelling forebears he clambered
rapidly upward.  At times he was forced to leap for a
projecting rock above his head, dangling out over space as
he drew himself, by mighty biceps and forearm, to the tiny
foothold it afforded.  Again, a gnarled root or a small
crevice aided him in his ascent, until presently he crawled
over the brow and stood erect once more on level ground.

Nu looked about, warily--there was no sign of the man or the
woman. Then he examined the ground in ever enlarging
circles, but no spoor such as he sought rewarded his eager
eyes.

He had about decided to return to the bottom of the ravine
and follow Tur's spoor when, clear and shrill from the west,
there came to his ears the scream of a woman in distress.

And scarce had its first note risen upon the air than Nu,
the son of Nu, was dashing madly in the direction of the
sound.




CHAPTER VI



THE ANTHROPOID APES


A Nat-ul; surprised by Tur in her spying upon the village of
the Boat Builders, fled north along the beach she had little
hope of permanently distancing her pursuer.  But she could
do no less than flee, hoping against hope, that some chance
accident might save her from capture.

It was in her mind to dodge into the jungle where it came
down close to the water a quarter of a mile ahead of her.
Here she might elude the man and reach the cliffs that lay a
short distance inland.  Once there, there was an excellent
chance of hiding from him or holding him off with pieces of
rock until nightfall. Then she would retrace her steps
northward, for it was evident that her people had not
traveled in this direction.

The jungle was already quite close, but, on the other band,
the man was gaining upon her. Could she reach the tangled
screen in time to elude him before he should be upon her?
At least she could do no less than try.

Suddenly from directly above her head came a loud flapping
of great wings. A black shadow fell upon the sand about her.
She glanced upward, and the sight that met her eyes froze
her brave heart in terror.  There, poised just above her
ready to strike with its mighty talons, hovered one of those
huge flying reptiles, that even in Nat-ul's day were
practically extinct--a gigantic pterodactyl.

The man behind her screamed a shout of warning. He launched
his barbed spear for the great creature, catching it in the
fatty portion of the long tail, near the body. With a
whistling scream of pain and rage the hideous thing swooped
down upon the girl beneath. Nat-ul felt the huge talons
close upon her body.  The heavy hide that covered her kept
them from piercing through to her flesh as the pterodactyl
rose swiftly, bearing her victim with her.

For a moment Nat-ul had battled and struggled for freedom,
but almost at once she had realized the futility of her
pitiful efforts. In that awful clutch even the cave bear or
the bull bos would have been helpless.  Now she hung inert
and limp, waiting for the end.  She could not even draw her
stone knife, for one of the great talons was closed tightly
over it where it rested in the cord that supported her loin
cloth.

Below her she could see the tossing waters. The thing was
bearing her far out from shore. The great wings flapped
noisily above her. The long neck and the hideous head were
stretched far forward as the creature flew in a straight
line, high in air.

Presently the girl saw land ahead.  Terror filled her heart
as she realized that the thing was bearing her to the
mysterious country that lay far out upon the bosom of the
Restless Sea. She had dreamed of this strange, unattainable
country.  There were stories among her people of the awful
creatures that dwelt within it.  She had sometimes longed to
visit it, but always with the brave warriors of her tribe to
protect her. To come thus alone to the terrifying shore, in
the clutches of the most fearsome beast that terrified
primeval man was beyond conception. Her mind was partially
stupefied by the enormity of the fate that had overwhelmed
her.

Now the great reptile was above the nearest island. A
jagged, rocky hill raised its bare summit in a huge index
finger that pointed straight into the air far above the
surrounding hill tops and the dense vegetation of the
encircling jungle. Toward this the creature bore its prey.
As it hovered above the rocky pinnacle Nat-ul glanced
fearfully downward. Directly below her her horrifled sight
fell upon the goal toward which her captor had been winging
its rapid way--upon the cruel and hideous fate that awaited
her there.

Craning their long necks upward from a cup-like nest of mud
matted grasses three young pterodactyls shrilled and hissed
in anticipatory joy at their returning mother and the food
she brought them.

Several times the adult circled above the young, dropping
lower and lower toward the nest in a diminishing spiral.
For a second she hovered almost at rest, a few feet above
them.  Then she loosed her hold upon Nat-ul, dropping her
squarely amongst her wide-jawed progeny, and with a final
wheel above them soared away in search of her own dinner.

As Nat-ul touched the nest three sets of sharp toothed jaws
snapped at her simultaneously. The creatures were quite
young, but for all of that they were formidable antagonists,
with their many teeth, their sharp talons and their strong
tails.

The girl dodged the first assault and drew her knife.  Here
was no time or place for hysteria or nerves.  Death,
unthinkably horrible, was upon her. Her chances of escape
were practically non-existent, and yet, so strong is the
instinct of self-preservation, Nat-ul battled as heroically
as though safety depended upon a single lucky knife thrust.

And, though she knew it not, so it did. The three heads were
close together as the three monsters sought greedily to
devour the tender morsel brought to them by their parent.
Nat-ul for a moment eluded the snapping jaws of the awkward
young, and then as the three heads came together in a mad
attempt to seize her she plunged her blade into two of the
long, scraggy necks.  Instantly the wounded creatures set up
a chorus of whistling shrieks.  Their minute brains told
them only that they had been hurt, and with bestial fury
they set upon one another, each attributing its pain to one
of its fellows. Instandy the nest became a mad whirling of
wings, tails and hideous jaws.  The two that had been
wounded set upon each other, and the third, ignoring Nat-ul,
fell upon the two contestants with impartial fury.

Taking advantage of their distraction the girl clambered
quickly over the side of the nest.  Below her the sheer side
of the lofty pinnacle dropped fearfully downward a hundred
feet. Vertical crevices and slight protuberances of harder
rocks that had withstood the ravages of time and the
elements afforded the only means of descent. But death,
certain and terrible, lay in the nest. Below, there was some
hope, however slight.

Clinging to the outside of the nest Nat-ul lowered her body
until her feet found a precarious foothold upon a slightly
jutting surface of the spire-like needle.  Slowly she
lowered herself, clinging desperately to each crevice and
outcropping.  Time and time again it seemed that she must
give up, and cling where she was until, exhausted, she
toppled to the depth below. Twice she circled the rocky
finger in search of a new foothold further down, and each
time, when hope seemed hopeless, she had found some meager
thing, once only a little rounded roughness, to which her
hand or foot could cling a few inches further away from the
awful nest above her.

And so at last she came to the base of the gigantic needle,
but even here she could not rest. At any moment the mighty
mother might return and snatch her back once more to the
horrors of her slimy nest.

The descent of the lower summit was, in places, but little
less hazardous than that of the surmounting spire; but
finally it was accomplished and Nat-ul found herself in a
broad ravine, densely wooded.  Here she lay down upon the
grass to rest, for her labors had exhausted her. She knew
not what other dangers menaced her; but for the moment she
was numb to further terror.  Pillowing her head upon her arm
she fell asleep.

About her were the million sounds of the jungle--the lesser
animals, the birds, the insects, the swaying branches.  They
but lulled her to deeper slumber.  The winds blowing up the
ravine from the sea, fanned her cheek.  It moved the soft,
luxuriant hair that fell about her shoulders. It soothed and
comforted her, but it did not whisper to her of the close-
set, wicked eyes that peered out of the trees upon her.  It
did not warn her of the drooling jaws, the pendulous lower
lip, the hairy breast beneath which a savage heart beat
faster as the little eyes feasted upon her form.  It did not
tell her that a huge body had slipped from a nearby tree and
was slinking toward her.  It did not tell her; but a broken
twig, snapping beneath the wary foot of the stalker, did.

Among the primordial there was no easy transition from sleep
to wakefulness. There could not be for those who would
survive.  As the twig snapped Nat-ul was upon her feet
facing the new danger that menaced her.  She saw a great
man-like form slinking toward her. She saw the reddish hair
that covered the giant body.  She saw the pig eyes and the
wolf fangs, the hulking slouch of the heavy torso upon the
short, crooked legs.  And seeing, all in one swift glance,
she turned and fled up the face of the cliff down which she
had so recently descended.

As she clambered swiftly aloft the creature behind her
rushed forward in pursuit, and behind him came a half dozen
others like him.  Nat-ul knew them as the hairy, tree
people.  They differed from the greater ape-folk in that
they went always upon two legs when on the ground, and when
they were killed and cut up for food they yielded one less
rib than their apish prototype. She knew how terrible it was
to fall into their hands--worse than the fate that had
almost claimed her in the lofty nest, far above.

A hundred feet up the cliff side Nat-ul paused to look back.
A dozen yards below her was the hairy one. The girl loosened
a bit of rock and hurled it down upon him.  He dodged it,
and with a shrill scream continued the pursuit. Upward she
fled for another hundred feet.  Again she paused to look
downward.  The tree-man was gaining on her. She loosened a
bit of quartz and dropped it upon him.  Just below him were
six others.  The missile struck her foremost pursuer.  He
toppled for an instant, and then tumbled backward upon those
behind him.  He knocked one from a scant hand hold upon the
precipitous cliff, and the two dashed violently downward
toward the jagged rocks at the bottom.

With an exultant taunt upon her lips Nat-ul resumed her
upward flight.  Now she came to a point near the summit.
The hillside was less steep.  Here she could go with only
occasional use of her hands. Half way up, her foot slipped
upon a loose, round rock. She fell heavily to the ground,
clutching for support as she did so. The few rocks that met
her hands gave way beneath her weight. With sickening
velocity she hurtled down toward the brink of the
perpendicular cliff face-toward mangled, tortured death
beside the bodies of the two who had preceded her to the
same destruction.

Above the brink of the chasm the first of the remaining
pursuers was emerging.  He was directly  in the path of
Nat-ul's swiftly rolling body. It struck him in his hairy
breast, hurling him backward into the precipice, to his
death.  But his body had served a purpose.  It had broken
the velocity of the girl's fall, so that now she but rolled
gently over the edge of the cliff, clutching at the top as
she went, and thus further diminishing her speed.

Directly below the summit lay a narrow ledge.  Upon this
Nat-ul came almost to a full stop, but there was nothing
there upon which she could gain a handhold, and so she
toppled slowly over the edge--into the arms of another of
the man-apes.

Close beside him was one of his fellows, and a little way
below the third who remained of the original six.  The
nearer clutched at Nat-ul to drag her from the arms of her
captor, who drew back with bared fangs and menacing growl.
But the other was insistent. Evidently he desired the prey
fully as much as he who had obtained it. He came closer.
The ledge upon which they stood was very narrow.  A battle
there would have meant death for all three.

With a cat-like leap the creature that held Nat-ul in his
arms sprang to one side, turned, and with the strength and
agility of a chamois leaped down the steep cliff-face. In
his path was the remaining tree-man. To have met that charge
would have meant being catapulted to the bottom of the
ravine.  Wisely, the man-ape side-stepped, but immediately
the two had passed he fell into pursuit of them.  Behind him
came the other that Nat-ul's captor had eluded.

There ensued a mad chase that often blanched the cheek of
the almost fearless cave girl. From the base of the cliffs
the man-ape leaped across the intervening jungle toward the
trees. To the lower branches of these he took without
lessening his speed in the least.  He almost flew, so
swiftly he passed through the tangled mazes of the primeval
forest.

Close behind him, screaming and roaring came his two
fellows, intent upon robbing him of his prey.  He carried
Nat-ul across one shoulder, gripping her firmly with a
gigantic hand.  She could plainly see the pursuers behind
them. They were gaining on their burdened fellow. Already
the foremost was reaching out to clutch the girl. Her captor
shooting a quick glance rearward discovered the imminence of
his despoilment.  Wheeling suddenly upon the precarious
trail he snapped viciously at the nearer pursuer, who, with
bared fangs and growling horribly, retreated out of reach.
Then the creature recommenced his flight only to be at once
pursued again by his two kinsmen.

Up and down the jungle the savage trio raced. Twice they
crossed the heights separating one ravine from another.
More and more insistent became the pursuers.  Oftener the
captor was forced to halt with his prize and fight off first
one of them and then the other. At last, at the edge of the
jungle close to the mouth of a narrow, rocky gorge the beast
went mad with rage. He wheeled suddenly upon his pursuers,
hurled Nat-ul heavily to the ground, and charged, roaring
and foaming, upon them.

They were running side by side, and so quick was the
offensive movement of their fellow that they had no time to
dodge him. His great hands seized them and then all three
went to the earth, tearing at one another, burying their
formidable tusks in throat and breast, and all the while
keeping up a terrific growling and roaring.

Warily Nat-ul raised herself upon all fours. Her eyes were
fastened intently upon the three savage beasts.  They paid
no attention to her. It was evident that their every faculty
was wholly engaged in the life and death struggle upon which
they had entered.  Nat-ul came to her feet and without
another backward glance fled into the narrow gorge behind
her.  She ran as swiftly as she could that she might put as
great a distance as possible between herself and the horrid
beasts that battled for her.  Where the gorge led she had no
conception.  What other horrors lay at its end she could not
guess.  She only knew that hope had almost left her, for
that she ever could regain the mainland she had not the
faintest belief.  Nor could her people succor her even
should they discover her whereabouts, which in itself was
equally beyond the pale of probability. That she could long
survive the dangers of the mysterious country she doubted.
Even a mighty warrior, fully armed, would fare ill in this
place of terror. What, indeed, was to become of a girl armed
only with a knife!

That Nu already was searching for her she did not doubt; but
long ere this the tide had washed the imprints of her
sandals from the sandy beach. Where would he search? And
even had he followed her spoor before the tide had erased it
how could he guess what had befallen her, or interpret the
sudden ending of her trail in the center of the beach?

The stranger had seen the winged reptile pounce upon her and
bear her away; but even if Nu should come upon him how could
he learn of the truth, since the moment that the two met
they would fall upon one another in mortal combat, as was
the way of strangers then.

Or if, by any chance, Nu discovered that she had been
carried to the mysterious country how could he follow, even
though he believed, against all reason, that she still
lived?

No, there seemed no hope anywhere upon Nat-ul's horizon, or
below it.  There was nothing left for her but to battle for
survival, pitting her wits and her agility against the brute
force and cunning of the brutes that would menace her to the
end of her days--the end that could not be far distant.

The windings of the gorge as she traversed it downward had
shut off the louder sounds of the combat raging behind her,
though still she could hear an occasional roar, or shriller
scream of pain. She hoped that they would fight until all
were dead.  Otherwise the survivor would continue the
pursuit.

As she stopped once to listen that she might know the three
were still engaged in battle she turned her eyes backward up
the gorge, so that, for the moment, she failed to see that
she had reached the end of the narrow canyon and that the
beach and the sea lay before her.  Nor did she see the
figure of the man who came to a sudden stop at the gorge's
mouth as his eyes fell upon her, nor the quick movement that
took him behind a projecting boulder.

Satisfied that she was not as yet being pursued Nat-ul
resumed her way down the rocky trail.  As she turned she saw
the sea, and, far away, the mainland across the water.  She
hurried onward toward the beach, that she might reach a
point as close as possible to her beloved country.

As she passed the boulder behind which the man hid the
scraping of a pebble beneath his sandal attracted her
attention.  She wheeled toward him and then turned to fly;
but he was too close.  Already he had leaped for her.  One
brawny hand closed in her flowing hair, the other grasped
the wrist of the upraised hand in which the long knife of
the girl had flashed above him with incredible swiftness.

He laughed in her face--it was the stranger who had pursued
her upon the mainland beach--and then he drew her toward
him.  Nat-ul fought like a tigress, and once she screamed.




CHAPTER VII



THE BEAST-FIRES


Tur carried the girl, still struggling and fighting, toward
his boat.  For the first time he saw the boat that had
brought Nu, and wondered at the presence of another craft.
Who could it be?  A closer inspection revealed that the boat
was one that had just been fashioned by others of his own
tribe.  Some of the men must have followed him.  Still
clasping Nat-ul firmly as he stood ankle deep in the water
beside his boat he raised his voice in a loud halbo.

Presently a clattering of falling stones from the cliff
facing the beach attracted the attention of Tur and the
girl.  Already half way down, the figure of an agile giant
was leaping toward them in descent.  From his shoulders
fluttered the skin of a cave-lion.  From his shock of black
hair a single long feather rose straight and defiantly
aloft.

A single glance revealed to Tur the fact that this was no
member of his tribe.  It was a stranger, and so an enemy.
Nat-ul recognized Nu at once.  She gave a little cry of
delight at sight of him, a cry that was answered by a shout
of encouragement from Nu. Tur threw the girl roughly into
the bottom of the boat, holding her there with one hand,
though she fought bitterly to escape, while with his free
hand he dragged first his boat and then Nu's out into deeper
water.

Handicapped though he was, Tur worked rapidly, for he was at
home in the surf and wonderfully proficient in the handling
of the cumbersome craft of his tribe even under the most
adverse conditions.  At last he succeeded in shoving Nu's
boat into the grip of a receding roller that carried it
swiftly away from shore, and at the same time he shoved his
own through, leaping into it with his captive.

Nat-ul fought her way to her knees, calling aloud to Nu, and
striving desperately to throw herself overboard, but Tur
held her fast, paddling with one hand, and when Nu reached
the water's edge they were well beyond his reach. So, too,
was his own tree-trunk.  Between him and Nat-ul the sea
swarmed with carnivorous reptiles.  Every instant was
carrying her away from him.  The troglodyte scarce
hesitated. With a swift movement he threw off his lion skin
and discarded his stone ax, then, naked but for a loin
cloth, and armed only with his knife he dove through the
pounding surf into the frightful sea.

As Nat-ul witnessed his act she redoubled her efforts to
retard Tur.  Crawling to her knees she threw both arms about
her captor's neck, dragging him down until he could no
longer wield his paddle.  Tur fought to disengage himself.
He did not wish to kill or maim his captive--she was far too
beautiful to destroy or disfigure--he wanted her in all her
physical perfection, just as she was.

Gradually Nu was overhauling them.  Twice he was attacked by
slimy monsters.  Once he fought his way to victory, and
again the two who menaced him fell to fighting between
themselves and forgot their prey.  At last he was within
reach of Tur's boat.  Nat-ul battling with desperation and
every ounce of her strength to hamper Tur's movements was
tugging at the man's arms.  He could do nothing, and already
Nu had seized the side of the craft and was raising one leg
over it.

With a sudden wrench Tur freed his right hand.  Nat-ul
strove to regain it, but the great fist rose above her face.
With terrific impact it fell upon her forehead. All went
black before her as she released her hold upon Tur and sank
to the bottom of the boat, unconscious.

Instantly Tur snatched up his paddle and leaping to his feet
beat furiously at Nu's head and hands. Bravely the man
strove to force his way into the boat in the face of this
terrific punishment; but it was too severe, and at last,
half stunned, he slipped back into the water, as Tur drove
his paddle once again and the rude craft forged away toward
the mainland.


When Nat-ul regained consciousness she found herself lying
upon a shaggy aurochs skin beneath a rude shelter of thatch
and hide.  Her hands and feet were securely bound with tough
bullock sinew.  When she struggled to free herself they cut
into her soft flesh, hurting cruelly.  So she lay still
looking straight up at the funnel-like peak of the shelter's
interior.

She knew where she was.  This was one of the strange caves
of the people she had seen working upon the tree trunks, for
what purpose she now knew.  She turned her head toward the
entrance.  Beyond she saw men and women squatting about
small fires, eating.  It was already dark. Beyond them were
other fires, larger fires that kept the savage carnivora at
bay.

And beyond this outer circle of fires, from out of the outer
darkness, came the roaring and the coughing, the grunting
and the growling of scores of terrible beasts of prey, that
slunk back and forth about the encampment thirsting for the
blood of the men and women and children who huddled within
the safety of the protecting fires.

Occasionally a little boy would snatch up a burning brand
and hurl it among the night prowlers. There would be a
chorus of angry screams and low toned, rumbling growls as
the menacers retreated for an instant, then the ring of
shadowy forms, and the glowing spots of burning flame that
were their eyes, would reform out of the stygian blackness
of the night.

Once a cave lion, emboldened by familiarity with the camp
fires of primitive people, leaped through the encircling
ring of flame.  Into the midst of a family party he sprang,
seizing upon an old man.  Instantly a half hundred warriors
snatched up their spears, and as the lion turned with his
prey and leaped back into the night fifty harpoons caught
him in mid-air.

Down he came directly on top of a flaming pile of brush, and
with him came the old man.  The warriors leaped forward with
whirling axes. What mattered it if the old man was pierced
by a dozen of the spears that had been intended for the
marauder? They leaped and shouted in savage glee, for the
lion was dead even before a single ax had smitten him.  The
old man was dead, too.  Him they hurled out to the beasts
beyond the flames; the lion they first skinned.

It was an awful spectacle, that evening scene in the far
antiquity of man, when the Boat Builders, come north in
search of new fisheries, camped upon the shore of the
Restless Sea in the edge of the jungle primeval;  but to
Nat-ul it presented nothing remarkable.  To such scenes she
had been accustomed since earliest childhood.  Of course,
with her people the danger of attack by wild beasts at night
was minimized by the fact that her tribe dwelt in caves, the
mouths of which could be easily blocked against four footed
enemies; but she was familiar with the evening fires which
burned at the cliff's base while the tribe was gathered to
feast or council, and she was used, too, to the sudden
charge of some bolder individual amongst the many that
always fore-gathered about the haunts of man at night.

At last the people withdrew to their shelters. Only two
girls were left, whose business it was to keep the fires
burning brightly.  Nat-ul was familiar with this custom and
she knew the utilitarian origin of it. Women were the least
valuable assets of a tribe. They could best be spared in
case of a sudden onslaught by some fierce beast at night--it
was the young men, who soon were to become warriors, that
must be preserved. The death of a single girl would count
for little--her purpose would have been served if the
screams of herself and her companion aroused the warriors.

But why not old and useless women instead of young girls?
Merely because the instinct of self-preservation is stronger
in the young than in the very old. An old woman would have
been much less careless of her life than would a young
woman, and so might sleep and permit the fires to die out--
she would have but a few years or months to live anyway and
little or nothing to live for in those primitive days.

The young woman, on the contrary, would watch the fires
zealously for her own protection, and so ensure the greater
safety of the tribe. Thus, perhaps, was born the custom from
which sprung the order of holy virgins who tended the
eternal fires in the temples that were yet unbuilt in the
still undreamed-of Rome.

Presently the entrance to the shelter in which Nat-ul was
secured was darkened by the figure of a man--it was Tur.
Nat-ul recognized him at once. He came to her side and
knelt.

"I have kept the women from you," he said. Gron would have
torn you to pieces, and the others would have helped her.
But you need not fear them. Promise me that you will not
resist, or attempt to escape, and you shall be freed from
your bonds permanently. Otherwise I shall have to tie you up
whenever I am away, and then there 1s no telling what Gron
may do, since you will be defenseless and I not here to keep
her from you.  What do you say?"

"I say that the moment my hands are freed I shall fight
until I kill or am killed," replied the girl; "and when my
feet are loosed I shall run away as fast as I can."

Tur shrugged his shoulders.

"Very well," he said. "It will profit you nothing, unless
you enjoy being always tied in this uncomfortable position."

He stooped and commenced to work upon the knots that held
her feet and ankles. Outside the shelter something slunk
stealthily in the shadows. Tur did not hear the faint
scraping sound of the creature's wary advance.  His back was
toward the entrance of the shelter as he knelt low over the
hard knots in the bullock sinews.  Already he had released
the cords that encircled Nat-ul's ankles, and now he was
turning his attention to those at her knees. The girl lay
quietly, her face toward the lesser darkness which showed
through the entrance.  She would wait patiently until he had
freed her, and then she would fight until the man was forced
to kill her.

Suddenly she became aware of the darker shadow of a form
blotting a portion of the dark entrance way.  The creature
was not large enough to be of the more formidable carnivora,
though it might have been a hyena or a wild dog. Nat-ul was
on the point of warning the man, when it occurred to her
that here might be not only the quick death she now craved,
but at the same time a means of revenging herself upon her
captor.

She lay very quiet while Tur labored over the last knot.
Close behind the man crept the silent prowler of the night.
Nat-ul could imagine the bared fangs and the slavering
jowls. In another instant there would be a savage growl as
the thing closed with a swift spring upon its prey.

Or would it leap past the man upon her unprotected throat?
The girl's eyes were wide in fascinated horror. She
shuddered once as in the close presence of death. The last
knot loosened beneath Tur's fingers. He jerked the cord from
about the girl's knees with a low exclamation of
satisfaction.

And then Nat-ul saw the thing behind the man rear upon its
hind legs and spring full upon his back. There was no savage
growl--no sound. The silence of the attack rendered it
infinitely more horrible than would bestial roars and growls
that might have proclaimed the nature of the animal.

Tur rolled over upon his side to grapple with his
antagonist.  In an instant they were locked in furious
combat. Nat-ul staggered to her feet. Her arms still were
pinioned, but her legs were free. Here was her opportunity!
Leaping over the two blood mad beasts she darted from the
shelter and plunged into the nearby jungle.




CHAPTER VIII



BOUND TO THE STAKE


Nu, the son of Nu, half stunned by the paddle of Tur, still
managed to keep afloat until he partially regained his
senses. Then, seeing the futility of further attempt to
overtake the boat in which Nat-ul was being borne toward the
mainland, he struck out for the shore of the island.  For a
while he lay upon the hot sand, resting.  Then he arose
looking out across the water.  Far in the distance he could
see a tiny speck approaching the opposite shore.  It must be
the boat in which Nat-ul had been carried off. Nu marked the
spot--in the distance a lofty mountain peak reared its head
far inland.

Nu bethought himself of the boat that had brought him to the
island. He looked out to sea for it, but it was not in sight
there. He walked along the beach. Beyond a heap of wave
washed boulders he came upon the thing he sought. He could
have shouted aloud, so elated was he. There before him lay
the boat and in it was the paddle. He ran forward and pulled
it up upon the beach, then he hurried back to the spot at
which he had discarded his robe and ax, and after regaining
them returned to the dug-out.

A moment more saw him floundering out through the surf. He
leaped into the craft, seized the paddle and struck out for
the far off shore line.  With paddle and ax and Stone knife
he fought off the marauders of the sea. The journey was
marked by a series of duels and battles that greatly impeded
the man's progress.  But he was not discouraged.  He was
accustomed to nothing else.  It was his life, as it was the
life of every creature that roamed the land or haunted the
deeps in those stupendously savage days.

It was quite dark when the heavy booming of the surf before
him warned Nu that he was close in-shore.  For some time he
had seen the fires of the Boat Builders ahead of him and
toward these he had directed his way. Now his boat ran its
blunt nose out upon the sand a hundred yards north of the
camp.  Nu leaped out, leaving the boat where it lay.  He
doubted that he should ever have further use for it, but
should he live to return to his people he would lose no time
in building a similar craft with which he should fill his
father's people with awe and admiration.

About the camp of the Boat Builders, as Nu approached, he
discovered the usual cordon of night prowlers that he had
naturally expected. Circling until he was down wind from the
shelters he was enabled to reach the jungle without being
discovered by any of the more ferocious beasts.  Once he had
just eluded a ponderous cave bear that was lumbering toward
the encampment in search of prey, and again he almost
stumbled against a huge rhinoceros as it lay in the long
grasses upon the jungle's outer fringe. But once within the
jungle he took to the trees, since among their branches
there were few that he had reason to fear. The panther
sometimes climbed to the lower branches, but, though he was
a mighty beast by comparison with the panther of the
twentieth century, Nu looked upon him with contempt, since
he seldom deliberately hunted man and could be put to
flight, if not killed, by a well hurled ax.  Reptiles
constituted the greatest menace to the jungle traveler who
chose the branches of the trees, for here often lurked
enormous snakes in whose giant coils the mightiest hunters
were helpless as babes.

To the rear of the village Nu traveled through the trees,
leaping in the dark from one huge frond to another.  When
the distance was too great to span in a single leap he came
to the ground, springing across the intervening space with
the speed and agility of a deer. At last he came to the edge
of the jungle opposite the camp. The fires came close
beneath the tree in which he hid. He could see the girls
tending them, and further in, the balance of the tribe
squatting about their smaller cooking fires, gnawing upon
bones, or splitting them to extract the marrow.

He saw the rush of the lion upon the opposite side of the
camp. He saw him seize the old man. He saw the warriors leap
to their feet and run toward the beast.  He saw the eyes and
attention of every member of the tribe directed toward the
spot which was farthest from Nu.  Even the girls who were
tending the fires below him ran quickly across the village
to witness the killing of the marauder.

Taking advantage of this fortuitous good fortune Nu dropped
quickly to the ground and ran for the shadows of the
shelters which were placed in a rude circle facing outward
toward the outer circle of fires with the result that the
circular space they enclosed was in partial shadow. Here Nu
threw himself upon his belly in the darkest spot he could
find.  For some time he lay motionless, listening and
sniffing the air.  As nothing rewarded his observations at
this point he rose cautiously upon all fours and crept a few
feet further on in the shadows of the shelters. Again he lay
down to listen and sniff.  For half an hour he pursued his
slow way about the inner circle behind the dwellings. The
inhabitants had retired--all except the girls who tended the
fires.

At last Nu heard low voices coming from the interior of a
shelter behind which he had but just crawled.  He lay very
quiet with his nose a few inches from the bottom of the skin
and thatch hut.  Presently there came to his sensitive
nostrils  the evidence he had  been seeking--within was
Nat-ul; but there was someone with her. Cautiously Nu crept
around to the front of the shelter.  Even there it was very
dark, for the girls had permitted the fires to die down to a
few fitful flames.  Opposite the entrance Nu heard Nat-ul's
voice distinctly. He saw the form of a man leaning over her.
He went hot with hate and rage.  Like a beast of prey he
slunk noiselessly upon all fours into the shelter directly
behind the unsuspecting Tur.  Then without a sound he rose
to his feet and threw himself full upon the back of the
stranger.

His knife was out and his fighting fangs were bared as the
two rolled about the floor of the shelter striking, clawing
and biting at one another. At last the man raised his voice
in a call for help, for Nu was getting the better of him.
The long knife had not found a vital spot as yet, for Tur
was an experienced fighter and so far had been able to ward
off the more dangerous blows; but nevertheless he was
bleeding from several wounds and his throat and breast were
lacerated by the other's teeth.

In reply to his shouts the village awoke with answering
cries.  Warriors, bearing their short spears, ran from every
shelter. Women and children scampered at their heels. Gron,
Tur's mate, was among the first to come. She had recognized
the voice of her man and had guessed where he might be in
trouble.  Like an angry tigress she sprang for the shelter
in which the beautiful stranger had been confined. Behind
her came the warriors.  One carried a burning brand from a
nearby fire.  He flung it into the interior, careless of
where it might land. Fortunately for the inmates it fell
beyond them, rolling against the further side of the hut.
Instantly the dry fronds of the thatch that had been leaned
against the bottom of the skins to fill in the gaps caught
fire and the inside of the shelter was illumined by the
sudden glare of flames.

When the rescuers saw that but a single man opposed their
fellow they threw themselves upon the two, and though Nu
battled bravely he was presently overcome.  The entire hut
was now aflame, so that his captors were forced to drag him
outside. Here they bound his arms and legs, and then turned
their attention to saving the balance of the village from
destruction. This they accomplished by pulling down the
blazing shelter with their spears and beating out the flames
with fresh hides.

Even in the excitement of the fight Nu had not for a moment
forgotten Nat-ul, and when the brand lighted up the interior
he had sought for her with his eyes, unsuccessfully--Nat-ul
had disappeared.

He wondered what could have become of her. From her position
upon the floor of the hut he had been sure that she was
securely bound--otherwise she would have been fighting tooth
and nail against her captor.  He looked about him from where
he lay before the ruins of the burned shelter.  He could see
nothing of her; but he saw another woman--a young woman with
good features but with the expression of a wild beast. Hate,
jealousy and rage were mirrored in every line of the passion
distorted countenance. It was Gron. She came toward him.

"Who are you?" she cried.

"I am Nu, the son of Nu," replied the man.

"Are you of the same people as the woman in whose shelter
you found my man?" she continued.

Nu nodded affirmatively.

"She was to have been my mate," he said. "Where is she?"

For the first time the woman seemed to realize the absence
of the fair prisoner. She turned toward Tur.

"Where  is  the  woman?"  she shrieked. "Where have you
hidden the woman?  No longer shall you keep me from her.
This time I shall tear out her heart and drink her blood."

Tur looked about in consternation.

"Where is the woman?" he called to the warriors; but none
seemed to know.

Immediately a search of the village commenced.  The warriors
ran hither and thither through the huts, and into the
enclosure behind them.  Nu lay awaiting the outcome of the
search.  As it became evident that Nat-ul had escaped his
heart leaped with joy. At last there was no other place to
look and all the searchers had returned--Nat-ul was not in
the village.

Gron turned toward Nu.

"Your woman has escaped me," she shouted; "but you shall
suffer for her," and she leaped upon him as he lay there
bound and defenseless.

In her mad rage she would have torn his eyes out had not a
tall warrior interfered. He seized the woman by her hair,
jerking her roughly from her victim. Then he swung her,
still by the hair, brutally to the ground.

"Take your woman away," he called to Tur. "Does a woman rule
my people?  Take her away and beat her, that she may learn
that it is not a woman's place to interfere with the doings
of men. Then take you another mate, that this woman may be
taught her place."

Tur seized upon the unfortunate Gron and dragged her toward
his own shelter, from which, later, could be heard the sound
of a spear haft falling upon flesh, and the shrieks and
moans of a woman.

Nu was disgusted. Among his people women were not treated
thus. He looked up at the burly form of the chief who was
standing over him. Well, why didn't they kill him? That was
the proper thing to do with male prisoners. Among his own
tribe a spear thrust through the heart would long since have
settled the fate of one in Nu's position. He wondered where
Nat-ul was. Could she find her way back to the tribe,
safely? He wished that he might live but long enough to find
her, and see her safe in her father's cave.

The chief was gazing intently upon him; but he had as yet
made no move to finish him.

"Who are you?" he at length asked.

"I am Nu, the son of Nu," replied the prisoner.

"From where do you come?"

Nu nodded toward the north.

"From near the Barren Cliffs," he replied. "And should you
go thither, beater of women, my father's tribe would fall
upon you and kill you all."

"You talk big," said the chief.

"I talk truth," retorted Nu. "My father's people would laugh
at such as you--at men clothed in the skins of cows.  It
shows what manner of people you be.  Now, my father's
warriors wear the skins of Ur, and Zor and Oo, and upon
their feet are sandals of the hides of Ta and Gluh.  They
are men.  They would laugh as they sent their women and
children out with sticks to drive you away."

This was a terrible insult. The chief of the Boat Builders
trembled with rage.

"You shall see," he cried, "that we are men. And the manner
of your death will prove if you be such a brave man as you
say. Tomorrow you shall die--after the day is done and the
fires are lighted you shall begin to die; but it will be
long before you are dead, and all the time you will be
crying out against the woman who bore you, and begging us to
put you out of your misery."

Nu laughed at him. He had heard of distant peoples who
tortured their prisoners, and so he guessed what the chief
meant to suggest. Well, he would show them how the son of Nu
could die.

Presently at the chief's command a couple of warriors
dragged Nu into a nearby shelter.  A guard was placed before
the door, for the escape of Nat-ul had warned them to
greater watchfulness.

The long night dragged itself to a slow end. The sun rose
out of the Restless Sea. The villagers bestirred themselves.
Nu could smell the cooking food.  He was very hungry, but
they offered him not a single morsel. He was thirsty but
none brought him water, and he was too proud to ask favors
of his captors.

If the night had been long the day seemed an eternity, and
though he knew that darkness was to be the signal for the
commencement of the tortures that were to mark his passing
he welcomed the first shadows of the declining sun.

Whatever cruelties they might perpetrate upon him could not
last forever. Sooner or later he would die, and with this
slim comfort Nu, the son of Nu, waited for the end.

The fishers had all returned. The outer ring of fires had
been kindled, as well as the smaller cooking fires within.
The people squatted about on their haunches gnawing upon
their food like beasts.  At last they had completed their
evening meal.  A couple of men brought a small post and
after scooping a hole in the ground with their spears set it
up half way between the shelters and the outer fires.

Then two warriors came to the hut where Nu lay.  They seized
him by the feet and dragged him, upon his back and
shoulders, through the village.  The women and children
poked him with sharp sticks, threw stones at him and spat
upon him.  Nu, the son of Nu, made no remonstrances. Not by
so much as a line did the expression of utter indifference
that sat his features like a mask alter in response to
painful blows or foul indignities.

At last his guard stopped before the post which was now set
firmly upright in the ground. They jerked Nu to his feet,
and bound him securely to the stake.  In a circle about him
was a ring of brush wood.  He knew that he was to be slowly
roasted, for the brush was nowhere quite dose enough for the
flames to reach him.  It would be a slow death, very
pleasant to the eyes of the audience--especially if the
victim gave evidence of his agonies. But it was far from the
intention of Nu, the son of Nu, to afford the Boat Builders
this satisfaction.  He looked around upon the ring of eager,
savage faces with bored contempt. Nu despised them, not
because they would kill him, for that he might expect from
any strangers, but because they wore the skins of "cows" and
the men labored instead of devoting all their time and
energies to the chase and to warfare.

Their boats were fine to have--Nu had even thought of
fashioning one upon his return to his people; but to make a
business of such labor--ugh! it was disgusting.  Had he
escaped he should have returned to the Boat Builders with
his father's warriors and taken what boats he wished.

His meditations were cut short by the ceremonies which were
going on about him.  There had been dancing, and a certain
primitive chanting, and now one of the warriors lighted the
brush that surrounded the victim at the stake.




CHAPTER IX



THE FIGHT


After Nu, the son of Nu, had left his father and his
father's people to go in search of Nat-ul and Hud, the
warrior chief had sat in silence for many minutes.  Beside
him sat Tha, father of Nat-ul, and round about squatted the
other members of the tribe.  All were silent in the face of
the sorrow that had overtaken their chief and his principal
lieutenant.  Nu and Nat-ul were great favorites among their
savage fellows.  Not so, however, Hud, and the anger against
him was bitter.

Presently Nu, the chief, spoke.

"We cannot go in search of a new home," he said, "leaving
two of our children behind."

His listeners knew that he ignored Hud--that Hud, in
bringing this sorrow upon the tribe, had forfeited his
rights among them. They were satisfied that it should be so.
A young warrior stood up. With his spear he drew a line upon
the ground from east to west and lying just north of him.

"Nu, the son of Nu, passed through the ordeals with me--we
became men and warriors upon the same day.  Together we
hunted our first lion." He paused, and then, pointing to the
line he had drawn upon the ground, continued: "Never shall I
cross this line until I have found Nu, the son of Nu."

As he ceased speaking he drew himself to his full height and
with arms folded across his broad chest turned to face his
chief.

From the tribe came grunts of approval. All eyes turned
toward Nu.  What would he do? The young warrior's act was
nothing short of rebellion. Suddenly Aht, brother of Nat-ul,
sprang to his feet and stood beside the defiant warrior.  He
said nothing--his act proclaimed his intention.

Nu, the chief, looked at the two young men from beneath his
shaggy brows. The watchers were almost certain that a half
smile played grimly about his grim countenance.  He, too,
arose.  He walked to where the two stood and ranged himself
beside them.

Tha was the first to guess the significance of the act, and
the instant that he did so he leaped to Nu's side.  Then the
others understood, and a moment later the whole tribe was
ranged with their backs to Dag's line, facing toward the
south. Thcy were dancing and shouting now. The men waved
their stone axes or threw their long spears high in air.
The women beat their palms together, and the little children
ran skipping about, getting in everyone's way.


After a few minutes of this Nu started off toward the south,
telling off a score of men to remain with the women and
children who were to follow slowly back toward their former
dwellings while the chief with the balance of the fighting
men searched rapidly ahead for signs of Nu and Nat-ul.

First they came upon the dead body of Hud within the cave in
the face of the Barren Cliffs. From there they discovered
Nu's spoor and faint traces of the older spoor of the girl,
showing that Nu had not overtaken her at this point.

On they went along the beach toward their old caves, and
everywhere the signs of one or the other of those they
followed were distinguishable.  It was dark when they
reached the caves, and the following morning they had
difficulty in again picking up the spoor because of the fact
that the tide had obliterated it where it had touched the
sandy beach at low tide.  Now Nu separated his warriors into
three parties. One, with which he remained, was to keep
south along the beach, the second was to work into the
jungle for a mile and then turn south, while the third was
to search straight inland toward the west. In this way one
of them must come upon those they sought, or some sign of
them.

Tha was in command of the central party, and Aht was with
him. Dag was with Nu, the chief. They beat rapidly along the
beach, and spread out across it from the water to the
jungle, that nothing might escape their observation.

Several times they followed false leads into the jungle, so
that they lost much time, with the result that darkness came
upon them without their having discovered the two they
sought.

They camped upon the sand just outside the jungle, building
a ring of fires about them to keep off the wild beasts. Then
they lay down to sleep--all but two who kept watch and
tended the fires.

Dag was one of the watchers. As the night grew darker he
became aware of a glow in the south.  He called his
companion's attention to it.

"There are men there," he said.  "That is the light from
beast-fires. Listen!"

Savage yells rose faintly from the distance, and in the
direction of the lights. Dag was on the point of arousing Nu
when his keen eyes detected something moving warily between
the jungle and the camp. Evidently it had but just crept out
of the dense vegetation.  Ordinarily Dag might have thought
it a beast of prey; but with the discovery of the nearness
of a camp of men, he was not so sure.

True, men seldom crept through the jungle after darkness had
fallen; but there was something about the movements of this
creature that suggested the crawling of a man on all fours.

Dag circled the camp, apparently oblivious of the presence
of the intruder. He threw a stick upon a blaze here, and
there he stamped out some smoking faggots that had fallen
inside the ring.  But all the while he watched the movements
of the thing that crept through the outer darkness toward
the camp.

He could see it more distinctly now, and was aware that from
time to time it cast a backward glance over its shoulder.

"Had it a companion, or companions? Was something following
it?"  Dag scrutinized the black face of the jungle beyond
the creeping thing.

"Ah! so that was it?"

A dark shadow had stepped from the somber wood upon the
trail of the creature that was now half way across the open
space between the jungle and the camp. Dag needed no second
glance to attest the identity of the newcomer.  The lithe
body, the black mass that marked the bristling mane, the
crouching pose, the two angry splotches of yellow-green
fire--no doubt here. It was Zor, the lion, stalking his
prey.

Dag whispered a word to his companion who came to his side.
The two stood looking straight toward the nearer creature,
with no attempt to disguise the fact that they had
discovered it.

"It is a man," whispered Dag's companion.

And then, with a frightful roar, Zor charged, and the
creature before it rose upon two feet full in the light of
the nearer blaze. With a cry that aroused the whole camp Dag
leaped beyond the flaming circle, his spear hand back
thrown, the stone head, laboriously chipped to a sharp
point, directed at the charging Zor.

The weapon passed scarce a hand's breadth from the shoulder
of Zor's prey and buried itself in the breast of the beast.
At the same instant Dag leaped past the fugitive, placing
himself directly in the path of the lion with only an ax and
knife of stone to combat the fury of the raging, wounded
demon of destruction.

Over his shoulder he threw a word to the one he had leaped
forth to succor.

"Run within the beast-fires, Nat-ul," he cried; "Zor's mate
is coming to his aid."

And sure enough, springing lightly across the sands came a
fierce lioness, maned like her lord.

Now Dag's fellow warrior had sprung to his side, and from
the camp were running the balance of the savage spearmen.
Zor, rearing upon his hind feet, was striking at Dag who
leaped nimbly from side to side, dodging the terrific blows
of the mighty, taloned paws, and striking the beast's head
repeatedly with his heavy ax. The other warrior met the
charge of the infuriated lioness with his spear.  Straight
into the broad breast ran the sharp point, the while the man
clung tenaciously to the haft, whipped hither and thither as
the beast reared and wheeled and struck at him with her
claws.

Now Nu, the chief, and his fellows arrived upon the scene. A
score of spears bristled from the bodies of Zor and his
mate.  Axes fell upon their heads, and Nu, the mighty,
leaped upon Zor's back with only his stone knife.  There he
clung to the thick mane, driving the puny weapon time and
again into back and side until at last the roaring,
screaming beast rolled over upon its side to rise no more.

The lioness proved more tenacious of life than her lord, and
though bristling with spears and cut to ribbons with the
knives of her antagonists she charged into close quarters
with a sudden rush that found one of the cave men a fraction
of a second too slow.  The strong claws raked him from neck
to groin and as he fell the mighty jaws closed with a
sickening crunch upon his skull.

At bay over her victim the lioness stood growling and
threatening, while the wild warriors danced in a circle
about her awaiting the chance to rush in and avenge their
comrade.

Within the circle of fires Nat-ul replenished the blaze,
keeping the whole scene brilliantly. lighted for the
warriors.  That she had stumbled upon men of her own tribe
so unexpectedly seemed little short of miraculous.  She
could scarce wait for the battle with the lions to be
concluded, so urgent was the business that filled her
thoughts.

But at last Zor's savage mate lay dead, and as Nu, the
chief, returned to the camp Nat-ul leaped forward to meet
him.

"Quick!" she cried.  "They are killing Nu, thy son," and she
pointed toward the south in the direction of the glare that
was now plainly visible through the darkness.

Nu did not wait to ask questions then.  He called his
warriors about him.

"Nat-ul says that they slay Nu, the son of Nu, there," he
said, pointing toward the distant fire-glow.  "Come!"

As Nat-ul led them along the beach and through the jungle
she told Nu, the chief, all that had transpired since Hud
had stolen her away.  She told of her wanderings, and of the
Boat Builders. Of how one had chased her, and of the
terrible creature that had seized and carried her to its
nest.  She told of the strange creature that crawled into
the shelter where she was confined, leaping upon the back of
Tur.  And of how she slipped out of the shelter as the two
battled, and escaped into the jungle, wriggling her hands
from their bonds as she ran.  She shuddered as she told Nu
of the gauntlet of savage beasts she had been forced to run
between the beast-fires of the Boat Builders and the safety
of the jungle trees.

"I rested for the balance of the night in a great tree close
beside the village of the strangers," she said.  "Early the
next morning I set out in search of food, intending to
travel northward until I came to our old dwellings where I
could live in comparative safety.

"But all the time I kept wondering what it might have been
that leaped upon Tur's back in the shelter the night before
and the more I thought about it the more apparent it became
that it might have been a man--that it must have been a man,
for what animal could pass through the beast-fires unseen?

"And so, after filling my stomach, I crept back through the
trees to the edge of the village, and there I watched.  The
sun then was straight above me--half the day was gone. I
could not reach the caves before darkness if anything
occurred to delay me, and as I might at any moment stumble
upon some of the strangers or be treed by Ur, or Zor, or Qo,
I decided to wait until early tomorrow morning before
setting out for the caves.  There was something within me
that urged me to remain. What it was I do not know; but it
was as though there were two Nat-uls, one wishing to hurry
away from the land of the strangers as rapidly as possible
and the other insisting that it was her duty to remain.  At
last I could deny my other self no longer--I must stay, and
so I found a comfortable position in a great tree that grows
close beside the clearing where the strangers' village
stands, and there I remained until long after darkness came.

"It was then that I saw the thing within the village that
sent me here.  Before, I had seen your fires, and wondered
who it might be that came from the north.  I knew that all
the strangers had returned in the afternoon, so it could be
none of them, and the first tribe to the north I knew was my
own, so I hoped, without believing, that it might indeed be
some of thy warriors, Nu.

"And then I saw that something was going to occur in the
village below me.  Warriors approached a hut from which they
dragged a captive.  By the legs they dragged him, through
the village and about it, and as they did so the women and
children tortured and spat upon the prisoner.

"At first I could not see the victim plainly, but at last as
they raised him to his feet and bound him to a stake where
they are going to roast him alive among slow fires I saw his
face.

"Oh, Nu, can you not guess who it was that had followed me
so far, had overcome such dangers and fought his way through
the awful waters to rescue me?"

"Nu, the son of Nu," said the old warrior, and his chest
swelled with pride as he strode through the jungle in the
rear of the village.

Angry beasts of prey menaced the rescuing party upon every
hand.  Twice were they attacked and compelled to battle with
some fierce, primordial brute; but at last they won to the
edge of the jungle behind the village they sought.

There the sight that met their eyes and ears was one of wild
confusion.  Men and women were running hither and thither
uttering shouts of rage.  Beyond them was a circle of
flaming brush.  In the center of this, Nat-ul told the
rescuers, Nu, the son of Nu, was fast bound to a stake.
Slowly he was roasting to death--possibly he was already
dead.

Nu gathered his warriors about him. Two he commanded to
remain always beside Nat-ul. Then, with the others at his
heels, his long, white feather nodding bravely above his
noble head, and the shaggy pelt of Ur, the cave bear,
falling from his shoulders, Nu, the chief, slunk silently
out of the jungle toward the village of the excited Boat
Builders.

There were forty of them, mighty men, mightily muscled.  In
their strong hands they grasped their formidable spears and
heavy axes. In their loin cloths rested their stone knives
for the moment when they closed in hand-to-hand combat with
foes.  In their savage brains was but a single idea--to
kill--to kill--to kill!

To the outer rim of fires they came and yet the excited
populace within had not discovered them.  Then a girl,
remembering tardily her duties at the fires, turned to throw
more brush upon the blaze and saw them--saw a score of
handsome, savage faces just beyond the flames.

With a scream of terror and warning she turned and scurried
amongst the villagers.  For an instant the hub-bub was
stilled, only to break out anew at the girl's frightened cry
of: "Warriors! Warriors!"

Then Nu and his men were among them. The warriors of the
Boat Builders ran forward to meet the attackers.  The women
and children fled to the opposite side of the enclosure.
Hoarse shouts and battle cries rang out as the Cliff
Dwellers hurled themselves upon the Boat Builders. A shower
of long slim spears volleyed from one side, to be answered
by the short, stout harpoons of the villagers.

Then the warriors rushed to closer conflict with their axes.
Never after the first assault was the outcome of the battle
in question--the fiercer tribe of Nu--the hunters of beasts
of prey--the warrior people--were the masters at every turn.
Back, back they forced the wearers of "cow" skins, until the
defenders had been driven across the enclosure upon their
women and children.

And now the inner circle of fires was surrendered to the
invaders, and as Nat-ul sprang between the warriors of her
people to be first to the side of Nu and cut away his bonds,
the last of the Boat Builders turned and fled into the outer
darkness, along the beach to where their boats were drawn up
beyond the tide.

Nu, the chief, leaped through the flames upon the heels of
Nat-ul. In the terrible heat within the two came side by
side before the stake. The girl gave a single glance at the
bare and smoking pole and at the ground around it before she
turned and threw herself into Nu's arms.

Nu, the son of Nu, was not there, nor was his body within
the enclosure.




CHAPTER X



GRON'S REVENGE


Gron, suffering and exhausted from the effects of the cruel
beating Tur had administered, lay all the following day in
her shelter. Tur did not molest her further.  Apparently he
had forgotten her, a suggestion which aroused all her
primitive savagery and jealousy as no amount of brutal
punishment might have done.

All day she lay suffering, and hating Tur. All day she
planned new and diabolical schemes for revenge. Close to her
breast she hugged her stone knife. It was well for Tur that
he did not chance to venture near her then. While he had
beaten her the knife had remained in her loin cloth, nor had
the thought to use it against her mate entered the head of
Gron; but now, now that he had deserted her, now that he was
doubtless thinking upon a new mate her thoughts constantly
reverted to the weapon. It was not until after nightfall
that Gron crawled from beneath the hides and thatch of her
shelter.  She had not eaten for twenty-four hours, yet she
felt no hunger--every other sense and emotion was paralyzed
by the poison of jealousy and hate.  Gron slunk about the
outskirts of the crowd that pressed around the figure at the
stake.

Ah, they were about to torture the prisoner! What pleasure
they would derive from that! Gron raised herself on tip-toe
to look over the shoulder of a woman.  The latter turned,
and, recognizing her, grinned.

"Tur will enjoy the death agonies of the mate of the woman
he is going to take in your stead, Gron," taunted her
friend.

Gron made no reply.  It was not the way of her period to
betray the emotions of the heart. She would rather have died
than let this woman know that she suffered.

"That is why he was so angry," continued the tormentor,
"when you tried to rob him of this pleasure."

With the woman's words a sudden inspiration flashed into the
mind of Gron. Yes, Tur would be made mad if the prisoner
escaped. So would Scarb, the chief who had commanded Tur to
beat her and to take another mate.

Gron raised herself again upon her toes and looked long and
earnestly at the face of the man bound to the stake. Already
the flames of the encircling fires illuminated his figure
and his every feature--they stood out as distinctly as by
sunlight. The man was very handsome. There was no man among
the tribe of Scarb who could compare with the stranger in
physical perfection and beauty.  A gleam of pleasure shot
Gron's dark eyes.  If she could only find such another man,
and run off with him then, indeed, would she be revenged
upon Tur.  If it could be this very man!  Ah, then, indeed,
would Scarb and Tur both be punished.  But that, of course,
was impossible--the man would be dead in a few hours.

Gron wandered about the village--too filled with her hate to
remain long in one place. Like an angry tigress she paced to
and fro. Now and again some other woman of the tribe hurled
a taunt or a reproach at her.

It would be ever thus.  How she hated them--every one of
them. As she passed her shelter in her restless rounds she
heard the plaintive wailing of her child.  She had almost
forgotten him. She hurried within, snatching up the infant
from where it lay upon a pile of otter and fox skins.

This was Tur's child--his man-child.  Already it commenced
to resemble the father. How proud Tur was of it. Gron gasped
at the hideous thought that followed remorselessly upon the
heels of this recollection. She held the child at arm's
length and tried to scrutinize its features in the dim
interior of the hut.

How Tur would suffer if harm befell his first man-child--his
only offspring!  Gron almost threw the wee bundle of
humanity back upon its pile of skins, and leaping to her
feet ran from the shelter.

For half an hour she roamed restlessly about the camp.  Her
brain was a whirling chaos of conflicting emotions.  A dozen
times she approached the death fires that were slowly
roasting alive the man bound to the stake they encircled.
As yet they had not injured him--but given him a taste of
the suffering to come, that was all.

Suddenly she came face to face with Tur.  Involuntarily her
hands went out in a gesture of appeal and supplication.  She
was directly in Tur's path. The man stopped and looked at
her for an instant, then with a sneer that was half snarl he
raised his hand and struck her in the face.

"Get out of my way, woman!" he growled, and passed on.

A group of women, standing near, had seen. They laughed
boisterously at the discomfiture of their sister.  But let
us not judge them too harshly--it was to require countless
ages of humanizing culture before their sisters yet unborn
were to be able to hide the same emotions.

Gron went cold and hot and cold again.  She burned with rage
and humiliation.  She froze with resolve--a horrid resolve.
And suddenly she went mad.  Wheeling from where she stood
she ran to the shelter that housed her babe.  In the
darkness she found the wee thing.  It was Tur's. Tur loved
it. For a moment she pressed the soft cheek to her own, she
strained the warm body close to her breasts. Then--May God
forgive her, for she was only a wild thing goaded to
desperation.

Dropping the pitiful bundle to the floor of the shelter Gron
ran back into the open.  She was wild eyed and disheveled.
Her long black hair streamed about her face and across her
shoulders. She ran to the outskirts of the crowd that was
watching the victim who obstinately refused to gratify their
appetite for human suffering--Nu would not wince. Already
the heat of the flames must have caused him excruciating
agony, yet not by the movement of a muscle did he admit
knowledge of either the surrounding fires or the savage,
eager spectators.

Gron watched him for a moment.  His fate was to be hers when
Tur and Scarb discovered the deed she had committed, for a
man-child was a sacred thing.

And now there sprang to Gron's mind a recurrence of the
thought that the taunting female's words had implanted there
earlier in the evening. How could she compass this last
stroke of revenge?  It seemed practically impossible.  The
stake was hemmed in upon all sides by the clustering horde
of eager tribesmen.

Gron turned and ran to the opposite side of the village,
beyond the shelters.  There was no one there.  Even the
girls tending the fires had deserted their posts to witness
the last agonies of the prisoner. Gron seized a leafy branch
that lay among the firewood that was to replenish the blaze.
With it she beat out two of the fires, leaving an open
avenue into the enclosure through which savage beasts might
reasonably be expected to venture.  Then she ran back to the
crowding ring of watchers.

As she approached them she cried out in apparently
incoherent terror.  Those nearest her turned, startled by
her shrieks.

"Zors!" she cried.  "The fires have died and four of them
have entered the shelters where they are devouring the
babes.  On that side," and she pointed to the opposite side
of the enclosure.

Instantly the whole tribe rushed toward the ring of huts.
First the warriors, then the women and children.  The victim
at the stake was deserted. Scarce was every back turned
toward the prisoner than Gron leaped through the fiery
girdle to his side.

Nu saw the woman and recognized her.  He saw the knife in
her hand.  She had tried to kill him the previous night, and
now she was going to have her way.  Well, it was better than
the slow death by fire.

But Gron's knife did not touch Nu.  Instead it cut quickly
through the bullock sinews that bound him to the stake.  As
the last strand parted the woman seized him by the hand.

"Come!" she cried.  "Quick, before they return--there are no
Zors in the village."

Nu did not pause to question her, or her motives.  For a few
steps he staggered drunkenly, for the bonds had stopped the
circulation in his arms and legs.  But Gron, half
supporting, half dragging him, pulled him across the fires
about the stake, on past the outer circle of the beast fires
toward the Stygian blackness that enveloped the beach toward
the sea.

As Nu advanced the blood commenced to circulate once more
through the veins from which it had been choked, so that by
the time they came to the water he was almost in perfect
command of his muscles.

Here Gron led him to a dug-out.

"Quick!" she urged, as the two seized it to run it through
the surf.  "They will soon be upon us and then we shall both
die."

Already angry shouts were plainly distinguishable from the
village, and the firelight disclosed the tribe running
hither and thither about the fires that encircled the stake
to which Nu had been secured.  The boat was through the surf
and riding the waves beyond.  Gron had clambered in and Nu
was taking his place in the opposite end of the craft, when
a new note arose from the village. The savage shouting
carried a different tone. Now there were battle cries where
before there had been but howls of rage. Even at the
distance at which they were Gron and Nu could see that a
battle was raging among the shelters of the Boat Builders.
What eould it mean?

"They have fallen upon one another," said Gron.  "And while
they fight let us hasten to put as great a distance between
them and ourselves as we can before the day returns."

But Nu was not so anxious to leave.  He wanted to know more
of the cause of the battle. It was not within the bounds of
reason that the villagers could have set upon one another
with such apparent unanimity, and without any seeming
provocation, and, too, it appeared to Nu that there were
more people in the village now than there had been before he
left it.  What did all this mean? Why it meant to the
troglodyte that the village had been attacked by enemies,
and he wished to wait until he might discover the identity
of the invaders.

But Gron did not wish to wait. She seized her paddle and
commenced to ply it.

"Wait!" urged Nu, but the woman insisted that they must
hasten or be lost.

Even as they argued Gron suddenly leaned forward pointing
toward the beach.

"See!" she whispered.  "They have discovered us. We are
being pursued."

Nu looked in the direction that she pointed, and, sure
enough, dimly through the night he described two forms
racing toward the beach. As he looked he saw them seize upon
a boat and start launching it, and then he knew that only in
immediate flight lay safety.  He seized his paddle and in
concert with Gron struck out for the open sea.

"We can turn to one side presently and elude them,"
whispered the woman.

Nu nodded.

"We will turn north toward my country," he said.

Gron did not demur.  She might as well go north as south.
Her life was spent. There was to be no more happiness for
her. Her thoughts haunted the dim interior of a hide shelter
where lay a pathetic bundle upon a pile of fox and otter
skins.

For a while both were silent, paddling out away from shore.
Behind them they now and then discerned the darker blotch of
the pursuing canoe upon the dark waters of the sea.

"Why did you save me?" asked Nu, at length.

"Because I hated Tur," replied the woman.

Nu fell silent, thinking. But he was not thinking of Gron.
His mind was filled with speculations as  to the fate of
Nat-ul. Whither had she fled when she had escaped from the
clutches of the Boat Buflders? Could she have reached the
tribe in safety? Had she known that it was Nu who had
entered the shelter where she lay and rescued her from Tur?
He thought not, for had she known it he was sure that she
would have remained and fought with him.

Presently Gron interrupted his reveries.  She was pointing
over the stern of the boat. There, not fifty yards away, Nu
saw the outlines of another craft with two paddlers within.

"Hasten!" whispered Gron.  "They are overtaking us, and but
for my knife we are unarmed."

Nu bent to his paddle. On the boat wallowed toward the open
sea.  There was no chance to elude the pursuers and turn
north.  First they must put sufficient distance between them
that the others might not see which way they turned. But
there seemed little likelihood of their being able to
accomplish this for, strive as they would, they could not
shake off the silent twain.

The darkest hours of the night were upon them--those that
precede dawn.  They struggled to outdistance their pursuers.
That they were lengthening the distance between the two
boats seemed certain.  In another few minutes they might
risk the stratagem.  But they had scarcely more than turned
when the surge of surf upon a beach rose directly before
them.  Both were nonplused. What had happened?  Where were
they? They had been moving straight out to sea for some
time, and yet there could be no mistaking that familiar
sound--land was directly ahead of them. To turn back now
would mean to run straight into the arms of their pursuers--
which neither had the slightest desire to do. Had Nu been
armed he would not have hesitated to grapple with the two
occupants of the boat that had clung so tenaciously to their
wake, but with only the woman's knife and a couple of wooden
paddles it would have been a fruitless thing to do.

Exerting all their strength the two drove the dug-out
through the surf until its nose ran upon the sand.  Then
they leaped out and dragged the boat still further up beyond
the reach of the mightiest roller.

Where were they? Nu guessed a part of the truth.  He
reasoned that they had fallen upon the same island from
which he had seen Nat-ul snatched by the Boat Builder, and
from which he himself had escaped so recently.

But he was not quite right.  Their strenuous paddling during
the hours of darkness had carried them to the north of the
nearer island and beyond it.  As a matter of fact they had
been deposited upon the southern coast of the largest island
of the group which lay several miles northeast of the one
with which Nu had had acquaintance.

But what mattered it? One was as bad as another.  Both
belonged to the Mysterious Country. They were inhabited by
hideous flying reptiles, and legend held that frightful men
dwelt upon them.  And Nu was without weapons of defense!

Who of us has not dreamed of going abroad upon the public
streets in scant attire or in no attire whatever?  What
painful emotions we have suffered! Yet how insignificant our
plight by comparison with that of the primeval troglodyte
thrown into a strange country without his weapons--without
even a knife!

Nu was lost, but far from hopeless. He did not turn to the
woman with the question: "What shall we do now?"  If
primeval man was anything he was self-reliant. Heredity,
environment and all of Nature's mightiest laws combined to
make him so.  Otherwise he would have perished off the face
of the earth long before he had had an opportunity to
transmit his image to posterity--there would have been no
posterity for him.  Some other form than ours would have
exhumed his bones from the drift of the ages and wondered
upon the structure and habits of the extinct monstrosity
whose hind limbs were so much longer than his fore limbs
that locomotion must have been a tiresome and painful
process interrupted by many disastrous tumbles upon the
prehistoric countenance.

But Nu, the son of Nu, was not of a race doomed to
extinction.  He knew when to fight and when to flee. At
present there was nothing to flee from, but a place of safe
hiding must be their first concern.  He grasped Gron by the
wrist.

"Come!" he said. "We must find a cave or a tree to preserve
us until the day comes again."

The woman cast a backward glance over her shoulder--a way
with women.

"Look!" she whispered, and pointed toward the surf.

Nu looked, and there upon the crest of a great wave,
outlined against the dark horizon, loomed a boat in which
sat two figures, plying paddles. One glance was enough. The
pursuers were close upon them.  Nu, still holding Gron 's
wrist, started toward the black shadows above the beach. The
woman ran swiftly by his side.

Nu wondered not a little that the woman should thus flee her
own people to save him, a stranger and an enemy.  Again he
raised the question that Gron had so illy answered.

"Why do you seek to save me," he asked, "from your own
people?"

"I do not seek to save you," replied the woman.  "I wish to
make Tur mad--that is all. He will think I have run off to
mate with you. When he thinks that, you may die, for all
that I care.  I hate you, but not quite so much as I hate
Tur."




CHAPTER XI



THE AUROCHS


As Nu led Gron through the dark night amidst the blackness
of the tropical forest that clothed the gentle ascent
leading inland from the beach he grinned at the thought of
Tur's discomfiture, as well as the candor of his rescuer.

But now Nu was the protector.  He might have left the woman
to shift for herself.  She had made it quite plain that she
had no love for him--as plain as words could convey the
idea: "I hate you, but not quite so much as I hate Tur." But
the idea of deserting Gron never occurred to him.  She was a
woman.  She had saved Nu's life. Her motive was of
negligible import.

In the darkness Nu found a large tree. He entered the lower
branches to reconnoiter. There were no dangerous foes
lurking there, so he reached down and assisted Gron to his
side. There they must make the best of it until daylight
returned--it would never do to roam through the woods
unarmed at night longer than was absolutely necessary.

Nu was accustomed to sleeping in trees.  His people often
did so when on the march, or when the quarry of the chase
led them overfar from their caves by day, necessitating the
spending of the night abroad; but Gron was not so familiar
with life arboreal.  She clung, fearful, to the bole of the
tree in a position that precluded sleep.

Nu showed her how to compose herself upon a limb with her
back to the tree stem, but even then she was afraid of
falling should she chance to doze. At last Nu placed an arm
about her to support her, and thus she slept, her head
pillowed upon the shoulder of her enemy.

The sun was high when the sleepers awoke. Gron was the first
to open her eyes.  For a moment she was bewildered by the
strangeness of her surroundings. Where was she? Upon what
was her head pillowed? She raised her eyes. They fell upon
the sun-tanned, regular features of the god-like Nu.  Slowly
recollection forced its way through the misty pall of
somnolence. She felt the arm of the man about her, still
firmly flexed in protective support.

This was her enemy--the enemy of her peopie.  She looked at
Nu through new eyes.  It was as though the awakening day had
brought an awakening of her soul.  The man was undeniably
beautiful--of a masculine beauty that was all strength. Gron
closed her eyes again dreamily and let her head sink closer
to the strong, brown shoulder. But presently came entire
wakefulness, and with it a full return of actively
functioning recollection.  She saw the pitiful bundle lying
among the fox and otter skins upon the floor of the distant
shelter.

With a sudden intaking of her breath that was almost a
scream, Gron sat erect. The movement awakened Nu.  He opened
his eyes, looked at the woman, and removing his arm from
about her stood upright upon the tree branch.

"First we must seek food and weapons," he said, "and then
return to the land that holds my country.  Come."

His quick eyes had scanned the ground below. There were no
beasts of prey in sight. Nu lowered the woman to the base of
the tree, leaping lightly to her side. Fruits, growing in
plenitude; assuaged the keenest pangs of hunger. This
accomplished, Nu led the way inland toward higher ground
where he might find growing the harder wood necessary for a
spear shaft. A fire-hardened point was the best that he
might hope for temporarily unless chance should direct him
upon a fragment of leek-green nephrite, or a piece of flint.

Onward and upward toiled the searchers, but though they
scaled the low and rugged mountains that paralleled the
coast they came upon neither the straight hard wood that Nu
sought, nor any sign of the prized minerals from which he
might fashion a spear head, an ax, or a knife.

Down the further slopes of the mountains they made their
way, glimpsing at times through the break of a gorge a
forest in a valley far below. Toward this Nu bent his steps.
There might grow the wood he sought. At last they reached
the last steep declivity, a sheer drop of two hundred feet
to the leveler slopes whereon the forest grew almost to the
base of the cliff.

For a moment the two stood gazing out over the unfamiliar
scene--a rather open woodland that seemed to fringe the
shoulder of a plateau, dropping from sight a mile or so
beyond them into an invisible valley above which hung a
soft, warm haze.  Far beyond all this, dimly rose the
outlines of far-off mountains, their serrated crests
seemingly floating upon the haze that obscured their bases.

"Let us descend," said Nu, and started to lower his legs
over the edge of the precipice.

Gron drew back with a little exclamation of terror.

"You will fall!" she cried.  "Let us search out an easier
way."

Nu looked up and laughed.

"What could be easier than this?" he asked.

Gron peered over the edge. She saw the face of a rocky wall,
broken here and there by protruding boulders, and again by
narrow ledges where a harder stratum had better withstood
the ravages of the elements.  In occasional spots where
lodgment had been afforded lay accumulations of loose rock,
ready to trip the unwary foot, and below all a tumbled mass
of jagged pieces waiting to receive the bruised and mangled
body of whomever might be so foolhardy as to choose this way
to the forest. Nu saw that Gron was but little reassured by
her inspection.

"Come!" he said.  "There is no danger with me."

Gron looked at him, conscious of an admiration for his
courage and prowess--an admiration for an enemy that she
would rather not have felt.  Yet she did feel the truth of
his words: "There is no danger-with me." She sat down upon
the edge of the cliff, letting her legs dangle over the
abyss.  Nu reached up and grasped her arm, drawing her down
to his side.  How he clung there she could not guess, but
somehow, as he supported her in the descent, he found hand-
holds and stepping stones that made the path seem a miracle
of ease.  Long before they reached the bottom Gron ceased to
be afraid and even found herself discovering ledges and
outcroppings that made the journey easier for them both. And
when they stood safely amid the clutter of debris at the
base she threw a glance of ill concealed admiration upon her
enemy. Mentally she compared him with Tur and Scarb and the
other males of the Boat Builders, nor would the comparison
have swelled the manly chests of the latter could they have
had knowledge of it.

"Those who follow us will stop here," she said, "nor do I
see any break in the cliff as far as my eye can travel," and
she looked to right and left along the rocky escarpment.

"I had forgotten that we might be followed," said Nu; "but
when we have found wherewith to fashion a spear and an ax,
let them come--Nu, the son of Nu, will welcome them."

From the base of the cliff they crossed the rubble and
stepped out into the grassy clearing that reached to the
forest's edge.  They had crossed but half way to the wood
when they heard the crashing of great bodies ahead of them,
and as they paused the head of a bull aurochs appeared among
the trees before them. Another and another came into sight,
and as the animals saw the couple they halted, the bulls
bellowing, the cows peering wide eyed across the shaggy
backs of their lords.

Here was meat and only the knife of the woman to bring it
down. Nu reached for Gron's weapon.

"Go back to the cliff," he said, "lest they charge.  I will
bring down a young she."

Gron was about to turn back as Nu had bid her, and the man
was on the point of circling toward the right when there
appeared on either side of the aurochs several men.  They
were clothed in the skins of the species they accompanied,
and were armed with spears and axes. At sight of Nu and Gron
they raised a great shout and dashed forward toward the two.
Nu, unarmed, perceived the futility of accepting battle.
Instead he grasped Gron's hand and with her fled back toward
the cliffs.  Close upon their heels came the herders,
shouting savage cries of carnage and victory.  They had
their quarry cornered. The cliff would stop them, and then,
with their backs against the wall, the man would be quickly
killed and the woman captured.

But these were not cliff dwellers--they knew nothing of the
agility of Nu.  Otherwise they would not have slowed up, as
they did, nor spread out to right and left for the purpose
of preventing a flank escape by the fugitives.  Across the
rubble ran Nu and Gron, and at the foot of the cliff where
they should have stopped, according to the reasoning of the
herders, they did not even hesitate.  Straight up the sheer
wall sprang Nu, dragging the woman after him.  Now the
aurochs herders raised a mighty shout of anger and dismay.
Who had ever seen such a thing! It was impossible, and yet
there before their very eyes they beheld a man, encumbered
by a woman, scaling the unscalable heights.

With renewed speed the herders dashed straight toward the
foot of the cliff, but Nu and Gron were beyond the reach of
their hands before ever they arrived. Turning for an
instant, Nu saw they were not yet out of reach of the
weapons. He reached down with his right hand and picked up a
loose bit of rock, hurling it toward the nearest spear-man.
The missile struck its target full upon the forehead,
crumpling him to an inert mass.

Then Nu scrambled upward again, and before the herders could
recover from their surprise he had dragged Gron out of range
of the spears. Squatting upon a narrow ledge, the woman at
his side, Nu hurled insulting epithets at their pursuers.
These he punctuated with well-timed and equally well-aimed
rocks, until the yelling herders were glad to retreat to a
safer distance.

The enemy did not even venture the attempt to follow the
fugitives. It was evident that they were no better climbers
than Gron.  Nu held them in supreme contempt. Had he but a
good ax he would descend and annihilate the whole crew!

Gron, sitting close beside Nu, was filled with wonder and
something more than wonder that this enemy should have
risked so much to save her, for at the bottom of the cliff
Nu had evidently forgotten for the instant that the woman
was not of his own breed, able to climb equally as well as
he, and had ascended a short distance before he had
discovered that Gron was scrambling futilely for a foothold
at the bottom. Then, in the face of the advancing foemen, he
had descended to her side, risking capture and death in the
act, and had hoisted her to a point of safety far up the
cliff face.  Tur would never have done so much.

The woman, stealing stealthy glances at the profile of the
young giant beside her, felt her sentiments undergoing a
strange metamorphosis. Nu was no longer her enemy. He
protected her, and now she looked to him for protection with
greater assurance of receiving it than ever she had looked
to Tur for the same thing. She knew that Nu would forage for
her--upon him she depended for food as well as protection.
She had never looked for more from her mate. Her mate! She
stole another half shy glance at Nu. Ah, what a mate he
would have been! And why not? They were alone in the world,
separated from their people, doubtless forever. Gron
suddenly realized that she hoped that it was forever. She
wondered what was passing in Nu's mind.

Apparently the man was wholly occupied with the joys of
insulting the threatening savages beneath him; but yet his
thoughts were busy with plans for escape.  And why? Solely
because he yearned for his own land and his father's people?
Far from it.  Nu might have been happy upon this island
forever had there been another there in place of Gron.  He
thought of Nat-ul--no other woman occupied his mind, and his
plans for escape were solely a means for returning to the
mainland and again taking up his search for the daughter of
Tha.

For an hour the herders remained in the clearing near the
foot of the cliff, then, evidently tiring of the fruitless
sport, they collected their scattered herd and disappeared
in the wood toward the direction from which they had come. A
half hour later Nu ventured down.  He had discovered a cave
in the face of the cliff and there he left Gron, telling her
that he would fetch food to her, since in case of pursuit he
could escape more easily alone than when burdened with her.

After a short absence he returned with both food and drink,
the latter carried in the bladder that always hung from his
gee-string.  He had seen nothing of the herders and naught
of the hard wood or the materials for spear and ax heads
that he had desired.

"There is an easier way, however," he confided to the woman,
as they squatted at the mouth of the cave and ate.  "The
drivers of aurochs bore spears and axes and knives. It will
be easier to follow them and take theirs than to make
weapons of my own.  Stay here, Gron, in safety, and Nu will
follow the strangers, returning shortly with weapons and the
flesh of the fattest of the she aurochs.  Then we will
return to the coast, fearless of enemies, find the boat and
go back to Nu's country.  There you will be well received,
for Nu, my father, is chief, and when he learns that you
have saved my life he will treat you well."

So Nu dropped quickly down to the foot of the cliff, crossed
the clearing, and a moment later disappeared from the eyes
of Gron into the shadows of the wood.

For a while he could make neither head nor tail to the
tangled spoor of the herd, but at last he found the point
where the herders evidently had collected their charges and
driven them in a more or less compact formation toward the
opposite side of the forest.  Nu went warily, keeping every
sense alert against surprise by savage beast or man.  Every
living thing that he might encounter could be nothing other
than an enemy. He stopped often, listening and sniffing the
air. Twice he was compelled to take to the trees upon the
approach of wandering beasts of prey; but when they had
passed on Nu descended and resumed his trailing.

The trampled path of the herd led to the further edge of the
forest, and there Nu saw unfolded below him as beautiful a
scene as had ever broken upon his vision.  The western sun
hung low over a broad valley that stretched below him, for
the wood ended upon the brow of a gentle slope that dropped
downward to a blue lake sparkling in the midst of green
meadows a couple of miles away.

Upon the surface of the lake, apparently floating, were a
score or more strange structures. That they were man-built
Nu was certain, though he never had seen nor dreamed of
their like. To himself he thought of them as "caves," just
as he had mentally described the shelters of the Boat
Builders, for to Nu any human habitation was a "cave," and
that they were the dwellings of men he had no doubt since he
could see human figures passing back and forth along the
narrow causeways that connected the thatched structures with
the shore of the lake.  Across these long bridges they were
driving aurochs, too, evidently to pen them safely for the
night against the night prowlers of the forest and the
plain.

Until darkness settled Nu watched with unflagging interest
the activities of the floating village.  Then in the
comparative safety of the darkness he crept down close to
the water's edge. He took advantage of every tree and bush,
of every rock and hollow that intervened between himself and
the enemy to shelter and hide his advance.  At last he lay
concealed in a heavy growth of reeds upon the bank of the
lake. By separating them before his eyes he could obtain an
excellent view of the village without himself being
discovered.  The moon had risen, brilliantly flooding the
unusual scene. Now Nu saw that the dwellings did not really
float upon the surface.  He discovered the ends of piles
that disappeared beneath the surface of the water. The
habitations stood upon these.  He saw men and women and
little children gathered upon the open platforms that
encircled many of the structures, and upon the narrow
bridges that spanned the water between the dwellings and the
shore. Fires burned before many of the huts, blazing upon
little hearths of clay that protected the planking beneath
them from combustion.  Nu could smell the savory aroma of
cooking fish, and his mouth watered as he saw the teeth of
the Lake Dwellers close upon juicy aurochs steaks, while
others opened shellfish and devoured their contents raw,
throwing the shells into the water below them.

But, hungry though he was for meat, the objects of his
particular desire were the long spear, the heavy ax and the
sharp knife of the hairy giant standing guard upon the
nearest causeway. Upon him Nu's eyes rested the oftenest.
He saw the villagers, the evening meal consumed and the
scraps tossed into the water beneath their dwellings,
engaged in noisy gossip about their fires.  Children romped
and tumbled perilously close to the edges of the platforms.
Youths and maidens strolled to the darker corners of the
village, and leaning over the low rails above the water
conversed in whispers.  Loud voiced warriors recounted for
the thousandth time the details of past valorous deeds. The
younger mothers, in little circles, gossiped with much
nodding of heads, the while they suckled their babes. The
old women, toothless and white-haired, but still erect and
agile in token of the rigid primitive laws which governed
the survival of the fit alone, busied themselves with the
care of the older children and various phases of the simple
household economy which devolved upon them.

The evening drew on into darkness. The children had been
posted off to their skin covered, grass pallets. For another
half hour the elders remained about the fires, then, by twos
and threes, they also sought the interiors of the huts, and
sleep.  Quiet settled upon the village, and still Nu, hidden
in the reeds beside the lake, watched the nearest guardsman.
Now and then the fellow would leave his post to replenish a
watch fire that blazed close to the shore end of his
causeway.  Past this no ordinary beast of prey would dare
venture, nor could any do so without detection, for its
light illumined brightly the end of the narrow bridge.

Nu found himself wondering how he was to reach the sentry
unseen. To rush past the watch fire would have been madness,
for the guard then would have ample time to raise an alarm
that would call forth the entire population of the village
before ever Nu could reach the fellow's side.

There was the water, of course, but even there there was an
excellent chance of detection, since upon the mirrorlike
surface of the moonlit lake the swimmer would be all too
apparent from the village.  A shadow fell directly along the
side of the causeway.  Could he reach that he might make his
way to a point near the sentry and then clamber to close
quarters before the man realized that a foe was upon him.
However, the chance was slight at best, and so Nu waited
hoping for some fortuitous circumstance to offer him a
happier solution of his problem.

As a matter of fact he rather shrank from the unknown
dangers of the strange waters in which might lurk countless
creatures of destruction; but there was that brewing close
at hand that was to force a decision quickly upon the
troglodyte, leaving but an immediate choice between two
horns of a dilemma, one carrying a known death and the other
a precarious problematical fate.

It was Nu's quick ears that first detected the stealthy
movement in the reeds behind him, down wind, where his scent
must have been carrying tidings of his presence to whatever
roamed abroad in that locality.  Now the passing of a great
beast of prey upon its way through the grasses or the jungle
is almost noiseless, and more so are his stealthy footfalls
when he stalks his quarry. You or I could not detect them
with our dull ears amid the myriad sounds of a primeval
night--the coughing and the moaning of the great cats
punctuated by deafening roars, the lowing and bellowing and
grunting of the herds--the shrill scream of pain and terror
as a hunter lands upon the neck or rump of his prey--the hum
of insects--the hissing of reptiles--the rustling and
soughing of the night wind among the grasses and the trees.
But Nu's ears were not as ours.  Not only had he been aware
of the passing and repassing of great beasts through the
reeds behind him, but, so quick his perceptive faculties, he
immediately caught the change from mere careless passage to
that of stealthy stalking on the part of the creature in his
rear. The beast had caught his scent and now, cautiously, he
was moving straight toward the watcher upon the shore.

Nu did not need the evidence of his eyes to picture the
great pads carefully raised and cautiously placed so that
not a bent grass might give out its faint alarm, the lowered
and flattened head, the forward tilted ears, the gentle
undulations of the swaying tail, lashing a little at the
tufted tip.  He saw it all, realizing too all that it meant
to him.  There was no escape to right or left, and before
him lay the waters of the unknown lake. He was all unarmed,
and the mighty cat was now almost within its leap.

Nu looked toward the sentry. The fellow had just returned
from replenishing his watch fire. He stood leaning over the
railing gazing into the water.  What was that?  Nu's eyes
strained through the darkness toward the platform where the
warrior stood. Just behind him was another figure.  Ah! the
figure of a woman.  Stealthily, with many a backward glance,
she approached the sentinel.  There was a low word. The man
turned, and at sight of the figure so close beside him now
he opened his arms and crushed the woman to him.

Her face was buried on his shoulder, his head turned from Nu
and doubtless his eyes hidden in the red-brown hair that
fell, unconfined, almost to the woman's waist.

And then the great carnivore at Nu's back sprang.




CHAPTER XII



TUR'S DECEPTION


In the instant that the beast leaped for him Nu dove forward
into the lake.  The water was shallow, not over two or three
feet deep, but the cave man hugged the bottom, worming his
way to the left toward the shadows of the causeway. He knew
that the cat would not follow him into the lake--his
greatest danger now lay in the unknown denizens of the
water. But, though every instant he expected to feel a slimy
body or sharp teeth, he met with no attack.  At last, his
breath spent, he turned upon his back, floating until his
nose and mouth rose above the surface.  Filling his lungs
with air he sank again and continued his way in the
direction of the piling. After what seemed an eternity to
him his hands came at last in contact with the rough surface
of a pile.  Immediately he rose to the surface, and to his
delight found that he was beneath the causeway, safe from
the eyes of the guardsman and his companion.

Upon the bank behind him he could hear the angry complaining
of the baffled cat.  He wondered if the noise of his escape
had alarmed the sentry to greater watchfulness.  For long he
listened for some sign from above, and at last he caught the
low tones of whispered conversation. Good! they were still
at their lovemaking, with never a thought for the dangers
lying close at hand.

Nu wished that they would be done. He dared not venture
aloft while the woman was there. For an hour he waited waist
deep in water, until finally he heard her retreating
footsteps above him.  He gave her time to regain her
dwelling, and then with the agility of a cat he clambered up
the slippery pile until his fingers closed upon the edge of
the flooring of the causeway.  Cautiously he drew himself up
so that his eyes topped the upper surface of the platform.

A dozen paces from him was the sentry moving slowly
shoreward toward the watchfire. The man's back was toward
Nu, and he was already between Nu and the shore. Nothing
could have been better.

The cave man crawled quickly to the platform, and with
silent feet ran lightly in the wake of the guard.  The man
was beside the pile of wood with which he kept up the fire
and was bending over to gather up an armful when Nu overtook
him. With the speed and directness of a killing lion Nu
leaped full upon his quarry's back. Both hands sought the
man's throat to shut off his cries for help, and the teeth
of the attacker buried themselves in the muscles behind the
collar bone that he might not easily be shaken from his
advantageous hold.

The sentry, taken entirely by surprise by this attack from
the rear, struggled to turn upon his foe.  He tore at the
fingers at his throat that he might release them for the
little instant that would be sufficient for him to call for
help; but the vise-like grip would not loosen.  Then the
victim groped with his right hand for his knife. Nu had been
expecting this, and waiting for it. Instantly his own right
hand released its grip upon the other's throat, and
lightning-like followed the dagger hand in quest of the
coveted blade, so that Nu's fingers closed about those of
the sentry the instant that the latter gripped the handle of
the knife.

Now the blade flew from its sheath drawn by the power of two
hands, and then commenced a test of strength that was to
decide the outcome of the battle. The Lake Dweller sought to
drive the knife backward into the body of the man upon his
back.  Nu sought to force the knife hand upward and outward.
The blade was turned backward.  Nu did not attempt to alter
this--it was as he would have it.  Slowly his mighty muscles
prevailed over those of his antagonist, and still his left
hand choked off the other's voice. Upward, slowly but
surely, Nu carried the knife hand of his foe.  Now it is
breast high, now to the other's shoulder, and all the time
the hairy giant is attempting to drive it back into the body
of the cave man.

At the instant that it rose level with the sentry's shoulder
Nu pushed the hand gradually toward the left until the blade
hovered directly over the heart of its owner. And then,
quite suddenly, Nu reversed the direction of his exertions,
and like lightning the blade, driven by the combined
strength of both men, and guided by Nu, plunged into the
heart of the Lake Dweller.

Silently the man crumpled beneath the weight upon him. There
was a final struggle, and then he lay still. Nu did not wait
longer than to transfer all the coveted weapons from the
corpse of his antagonist to his own body, and then, silent
and swift as a wraith, he vanished into the darkness toward
the forest and the heights above the lake.


Gron, alone in the cave, sat buried in thought. Sometimes
she was goaded to despair by recollections of her lost babe,
and again she rose to heights of righteous anger at thoughts
of the brutality and injustice of Tur.  Her fingers twitched
to be at the brute's throat.  She compared him time and time
again with Nu, and at each comparison she realized more and
more fully the intensity of her new found passion for the
stranger.  She loved this alien warrior with a fierceness
that almost hurt.  She relived again and again the countless
little episodes in which he had shown her a kindness and
consideration to which she was not accustomed. Among her own
people these things would have seemed a sign of weakness
upon the part of a man, but Gron knew that no taint of
weakness lay behind that noble exterior.

For long into the night she sat straining her eyes and ears
through the darkness for the first intimation of his return.
At last, when he had not come, she commenced to feel
apprehension. He had gone out unarmed through the savage
land to wrest weapons from the enemy. Already he might be
dead, yet Gron could not believe that aught could overcome
that mighty physique.

Toward morning she became hopeless, arid crawling within the
cave curled up upon the grasses that Nu had gathered for
her, and slept. It was several hours after dawn when she was
awakened by a sound from without--it was the scraping of a
spear butt against the rocky face of the cliff, as it
trailed along in the wake of a climbing man.

As Gron saw who it was that came she gave a little cry of
joy, braving the dangers of the perilous declivity to meet
him.  Nu looked up with a smile, exhibiting his captured
weapons as he came. He noted the changed expression upon the
woman's face--a smile of welcome that rendered her
countenance quite radiant.  He had never before taken the
time to appraise Gron's personal appearance, and now it was
with a sense of surprise that was almost a shock that he
realized that the woman was both young and good-looking.
But this surprise was as nothing by comparison with that
which followed, for no sooner had Gron reached him than she
threw both arms about his neck, and before he realized her
intent had dragged his lips to hers.

Nu disengaged himself with a laugh.  He did not love Gron--
his heart was wholly Nat-ul's, and his whole mind now was
occupied with plans for returning to his own country where
he might continue his search for her who was to have been
his mate.  Still laughing, and with an arm about Gron to
support her up the steep cliff, he turned his steps toward
the cave.

"I have brought a little food," he said, "and after I have
slept we will return to the sea.  On the way I can hunt, for
now I have weapons, but in the meantime I must sleep, for I
am exhausted. While I sleep you must watch."

But once within the cave Gron, carried away by her new found
love, renewed her protestations of affection; but even with
her arms about him Nu saw only the lovely vision of another
face--his Nat-ul.  Where was she?


When Nat-ul and Nu, the chief, discovered that the son of Nu
no longer was bound to the flame-girt stake in the village
of the Boat Builders they turned toward one another in
questioning surprise.  The man examined the stake more
closely.

"It is not burned," he said, "so, therefore, Nu could not
have been burned.  And here," he pointed at the ground about
the stake, "look, here are the cords that bound him."

He picked one of them up, examining it.

"They have been cut! Some one came before us and liberated
Nu, the son of Nu."

"Who could it have been, and whither have they gone?"
questioned Nat-ul.

Nu shook his head.  "I do not know, and now I may not stop
to learn, for my warriors are pursuing the strangers and I
must be with them," and Nu, the chief, leaped across the
dying fires after the yelling spearmen who chased the enemy
toward the sea.

But Nat-ul was determined to let nothing stay her search for
Nu, the son of Nu.  Scarcely had the young man's father left
her than she turned back toward the shelters. First she
would search the village, and if she did not find him there
she would go out into the jungle and along the beach--he
could not be far. As Nat-ul searched the shelters of the
Boat Builders, a figure hid beneath a pile of aurochs skins
in one of them, stirred, uncovered an ear, and listened.
The sounds of conflict had retreated, the village seemed
deserted. An arm threw aside the coverings and a man sprang
quickly to his feet.  It was Tur.  Hard pressed by the
savage spearmen of the caves and surrounded, the man had
crawled within a hut and hidden himself beneath the skins.

Now he thought he saw a chance to escape while the enemy
were pursuing his people.  He approached the entrance to the
shelter and peered out. Quickly he drew back--he had seen a
figure emerging from the next hut. It was a woman, and she
was coming toward the shelter in which he had concealed
himself. The light of the beast fires played upon her. Tur
drew in his breath in pleased surprise--it was the woman he
had once captured and who had escaped him.

Nat-ul advanced rapidly to the shelter.  She thought them
all deserted. As she entered this one she saw the figure of
a man dimly visible in the darkness of the interior. She
thought it one of the warriors of her own tribe, looting.
Oftentimes they could not wait the total destruction of an
enemy before searching greedily for booty.

"Who are you?" she asked, and then, not waiting for an
answer: "I am searching for Nu, the son of Nu."

Tur saw his opportunity and was quick to grasp it.

"I know where he is," he said.  "I am one of Scarb's people,
but I will lead you to Nu, the son of Nu, if you will
promise that you will protect me from your warriors when we
return. My people have fled, and I may never hope to reach
them again unless you promise to aid me."

Nat-ul thought this a natural and fair proposition, and was
quick to accept it.

"Then come," cried Tur. "There is no time to be lost.  The
man is hidden in a cove south of here along the shore. He is
fast bound and so was left without a guard.  If we hurry we
may reach him before my people regain him. If we can elude
your warriors and the delay that would follow their
discovery of me we may yet be in time."

Tur hurried from the shelter followed by Nat-ul. The man was
careful to keep his face averted from the girl while they
traversed the area lit by the camp and beast fires, so he
forged ahead trusting to her desire to find her man to urge
her after him.  Nor did he over-estimate the girl's anxiety
to find Nu, the son of Nu. Nat-ul followed swiftly upon
Tur's heels through the deserted village and across the
beach from whence the sounds of conflict rose beside the
sea.

Tur kept to the north of the fighters, going to a spot upon
the beach where he had left his own boat.  He found the
craft without difficulty, pushed it into the water, lifted
Nat-ul into it, and shoved it through the surf. To Tur the
work required but a moment--he was as much at home in the
boiling surf as upon dry land.

Seated in the stern with Nat-ul facing him in the bow he
forced the dug-out beyond the grip of the rollers.  Nat-ul
took up a second paddle that lay at her feet, plying it
awkwardly perhaps, but not without good effect.  She could
scarce wait until the boat reached the cove, and every
effort of her own added so much to the speed of the craft.

Tur kept the boat's head toward the open sea. It was his
purpose to turn toward the south after they were well out,
and, moving slowly during the night, await the breaking dawn
to disclose the whereabouts of his fellows.  That they, too,
would paddle slowly southward he was sure.

Presently he caught sight of the outline of a boat just
ahead.  Probably beyond that were others. He had been
fortunate to stumble upon the last boat-load of his fleeing
tribe. He did not hail them for two reasons.  One was that
he did not wish the girl to know that he was not bearing her
south toward the cove--the imaginary location of her man;
and the other was due to the danger of attracting the
attention of the enemy who might have captured some of the
boats and be carrying the pursuit out upon the sea.

Presently a third possibility kept him quiet--the boat ahead
might contain warriors of the enemy searching for fugitives.
Tur did not know that the tribe of Nu was entirely
unfamiliar with navigation--that never before had they
dreamed of such a thing as a boat.

So Tur followed the boat ahead in silence straight out to
sea.  To Nat-ul it seemed that the cove must be a long
distance away.  In the darkness she did not perceive that
they were traveling directly away from shore.  After a long
time she heard the pounding of surf to the left of the boat.
She was startled and confused. Traveling south, as she
supposed they had been doing, the surf should have been off
the right side of the boat.

"Where are we?" she asked. "There is land upon the left,
whereas it should be upon the right."

Tur laughed.

"We must be lost," he said; but Nat-ul knew now that she had
been deceived. At the same instant there came over her a
sudden sense of familiarity in the voice of her companion.
Where had she heard it before?  She strove to pierce the
darkness that shrouded the features of the man at the
opposite end of the boat.

"Who are you?" she asked. "Where are you taking me?"

"You will soon be with your man," replied Tur, but there was
an ill-concealed note of  gloating that  did not escape
Nat-ul.

The girl now remained silent. She no longer paddled, but sat
listening to the booming of the surf which she realized that
they were approaching. What shore was it? Her mind was
working rapidly.  She was accustomed to depending largely on
a well developed instinct for locality and direction upon
land, and while it did not aid her much upon the water it at
least preserved her from the hopeless bewilderment that
besets the average modern when once he loses his bearings,
preventing any semblance of rational thought in the
establishment of his whereabouts. Nat-ul knew that they had
not turned toward the north once after they had left the
shore, and so she knew that the mainland could not be upon
their left.  Therefore the surf upon that hand must be
breaking upon the shore of one of the islands that she only
too well knew lay off the mainland. Which of the islands
they were approaching she could not guess, but any one of
them was sufficiently horrible in her estimation.

Nat-ul planned quickly against the emergency which
confronted her.  She knew, or thought, that the man had
brought her here where she would be utterly helpless in his
power. Her people could not follow them. There would be none
to succor or avenge.

Tur was wielding his paddle rapidly and vigorously now.  He
shot the boat just ahead of an enormous roller that
presently caught and lifted it upon its crest carrying it
swiftly up the beach. As the keel touched the sand Tur
leaped out and dragged the craft as far up as he could while
the wave receded to the ocean.

Nat-ul stepped out upon the beach.  In her hand she still
held the paddle. Tur came toward her.  He was quite close,
so close that even in the darkness of the night she saw his
features, and recognized them. He reached toward her arm to
seize her.

"Come," he said. "Come to your mate."

Like a flash the crude, heavy paddle flew back over Nat-ul's
shoulder, cleaving the air downward toward the man's head.
Tur, realizing his danger, leaped back, but the point of the
blade struck his forehead a glancing blow. The man reeled
drunkenly for a second, stumbled forward and fell full upon
his face on the wet sand. The instant that the blade touched
her tormentor Nat-ul dropped the paddle, dodged past the
man, and scurried like a frightened deer toward the black
shadows of the jungle above the beach.

The next great roller washed in across the prostrate form of
Tur.  It rolled him over, and as it raced back toward the
sea it dragged him with it; but the water revived him, and
he came coughing and struggling to his hands and knees,
clinging desperately to life until the waters receded,
leaving him in momentary safety.  Slowly he staggered to his
feet and made his way up the beach beyond the reach of the
greedy seas.

His head hurt him terribly.  Blood trickled down his cheek
and clotted upon his hairy breast. And he was mad with rage
and the lust for vengeance. Could he have laid his hands
upon Nat-ul then she would have died beneath his choking
fingers. But he did not lay hands upon her, for Nat-ul was
already safely ensconced in a tree just within the shadows
of the jungle.  Until daylight she was as safe there from
Tur as though a thousand miles separated them. A half hour
later Nu and Gron, a mile further inland, were clambering
into another tree. Ah, if Nat-ul could but have known. it,
what doubt, despair and suffering she might have been
spared.

Tur ran down the beach in the direction in which he thought
that he heard the sound of the fleeing Nat-ul.  Yes, there
she was!  Tur redoubled his speed.  His quarry was just
beneath a tree at the edge of the jungle. The man leaped
forward with an exclamation of savage satisfaction--that
died upon his lips, frozen by the horrid roar of a lion. Tur
turned and fled. The thing he had thought was Nat-ul proved
to be a huge cave lion standing over the corpse of its kill.
Fortunate for Tur was it that the beast already had its
supper before it. It did not pursue the frightened man, and
so Tur reached the safety of a nearby tree, where he
crouched, shaking and trembling, throughout the balance of
the night.  Tur was a boat builder and a fisherman--he was
not of the stock of Nu and Nat-ul--the hunters of savage
beasts, the precursors of warrior nations yet unborn.




CHAPTER XIII



NAT-UL IS HEART-BROKEN


It was late in the morning when Nat-ul awoke.  She peered
through the foliage in every direction but could see no sign
of Tur. Cautiously she descended to the ground.  Upon the
beach, not far separated, she saw two boats. To whom could
the other belong?  Naturally, to some of the Boat Builders.
Then there were other enemies upon the island beside Tur.
She looked up and down the beach.  There was no sign of man
or beast. If she could but reach the boats she could push
them both through the surf, and, someway, dragging one,
paddle the other away from the island.  This would leave no
means of pursuit to her enemies. That she could reach the
mainland she had not the slightest doubt, so self-reliant
had heredity and environment made her.

Again she glanced up and down the beach. Then she raced
swiftly toward the nearest boat. She tugged and pushed upon
the heavy thing, until at last, after what seemed to her
anxious mind many minutes she felt it slipping loose from
its moorings of sand. Slowly, inch by inch, she was forcing
it toward the point where the rollers would at last reach
and float it. She had almost gained success with this first
boat when something impelled her to glance up.  Instantly
her dream of escape faded, for from up the beach she saw Tur
running swiftly toward her.  Even could she have managed to
launch this one boat and enter it, Tur easily could overtake
her in the other.  The water was his element--hers was the
land, the caves and the jungles.

Abandoning her efforts with the boat she turned and fled
back toward the jungle. A couple of hundred yards behind her
raced Tur, but the girl knew that once she reached the
tangled vegetation of the forest it would take a better man
than Tur to catch her.  Straight into the mazes of the wood
she plunged, sometimes keeping to the ground and again
running through the lower branches of the trees.

All day she fled scarce halting for food or drink, for
several times from the elevation of the foot hills and the
mountains that she traversed after leaving the jungle she
saw the man sticking to her trail.  It was dark when she
came at last to a precipitous gulf, dropping how far she
could not guess.  Below and as far as her eyes could reach
all was impenetrable darkness. About her, beasts wandered
restlessly in search of prey. She caught their scent and
heard their dismal moaning, or the thunder of their titanic
roaring.

That the cliff upon the verge of which she had halted just
in time to avert a plunge into its unknown depths was a high
one she was sure from the volume of night noises that came
up to her from below, mellowed by distance. What should she
do? The summit of the escarpment was nude of trees insofar
as she could judge in the darkness, at least she had not
recently passed through any sort of forest.

To sleep in the open would be dangerous in the extreme,
probably fatal. To risk the descent of an unknown precipice
at night might prove equally as calamitous.  Nat-ul crouched
upon the brink of the abyss at a loss as to her future
steps. She was alone, a woman, practically unarmed, in a
strange and savage land.  Hope that she might ever return to
her own people seemed futile.  How, indeed, could she
accomplish it, followed by enemies and surrounded by unknown
dangers.

She was very hungry and thirsty and sleepy. She would have
given almost her last chance for succor to have lain down
and slept.  She would risk it.  Drawing her shaggy robe
about her, Nat-ul stretched herself upon the hard earth at
the top of the precipice.  She closed her eyes, and sleep
would have instantly claimed her had not a stealthy noise
not a dozen yards behind her caused her to come to startled
wakefulness. Something was creeping upon her--death, in some
form, she was positive.  Even now she heard the heavy
breathing of a large animal, and although the wind was
blowing between them she caught the pungent odor of a great
cat.

There was but a single alternative to remaining and
surrendering herself to the claws and fangs of the
carnivore, nor did Nat-ul hesitate in accepting it.  With
the speed of a swift she lowered herself over the edge of
the cliff, her feet dangling in space. Rapidly, and yet
without panic, she groped with her feet for a hold upon the
rocky surface below her.

There seemed nothing, not the slightest protuberance that
would give her a chance to lower herself from the clutches
of the beast that she knew must be sneaking cautiously
toward her from above. A sudden chill of horror swept over
her as she felt hot breath and the drip of saliva upon her
hands where they clung to the edge of the cliff above.

A low growl came from above. Evidently the beast was puzzled
by the strange position of its quarry, but in another moment
it would seize her wrists or, reaching down, bury its talons
in her head or back.  And just then her fingers slipped from
their hold and Nat-ul dropped into the darkness.

That she fell but a couple of feet did not detract an iota
from the fright she endured in the instant that her hand
hold gave way, but the relief of feeling a narrow ledge
beneath her feet quickly overcame her terror.  That the
beast might follow her she had little fear.  There might be
a ledge running down to this point, and then again there
might not. All she could do was stay where she was and hope
for the best, and so she settled herself as securely as she
might to await what the immediate future might hold for her.
She heard the beast growling angrily as it paced along the
brow of the cliff above her, now stopping occasionally to
lower its nose over the edge and sniff at her, and again
reaching down a mighty paw whose great talons clawed
desperately to seize her, sweeping but a few inches above
her head.

For an hour or more this lasted until the hungry cat,
baffled and disgruntled, wandered away into the jungle in
search of other prey, voicing his anger as he went in deep
throated roars.

Nat-ul felt along the ledge to right and left with her
fingers.  The surface of the rock was weatherworn but not
polished as would have been true were the ledge the
accustomed pathway of padded feet.  The girl felt a sense of
relief in this discovery--at least she was not upon the well
beaten trail leading to the lair of some wild beast, or
connecting the cliff top with the valley below.

Slowly and cautiously she wormed her way along the ledge,
searching for a wider and more comfortable projection, but
the ledge only narrowed as she proceeded.  Having ventured
thus far the girl decided to prosecute her search until she
discovered a spot where she might sleep in comparative
safety and comfort.  As no such place seemed to exist at the
level at which she was, she determined to descend a way. She
lowered her feet over the ledge, groping with her sandaled
toes along the rough surface below her. Finally she found a
safe projection to which she descended.  For half an hour
Nat-ul searched through the pitch black night upon the steep
cliff face until accident led her groping feet to the mouth
of a cave--a darker blot upon the darkness of the cliff. For
a moment she listened attentively at the somber opening.  No
sound of breathing within came to her keen ears.  Satisfied
that the cave was untenanted Nat-ul crawled boldly in and
lay down to sleep--exhausted by her long day of flight.

A scraping sound upon the cliff face awakened Nat-ul.  She
raised herself upon an elbow and listened attentively. What
was it that could make that particular noise?  It did not
require but an instant for her to recognize it--a sound
familiar since infancy to the cliff dweller. It was the
trailing of the butt of a spear as it dangled from its
rawhide thong down the back of a climbing warrior.  Now it
scraped along a comparatively smooth surface, now it bumped
and pounded over a series of projections.  What new menace
did it spell?

Nat-ul crawled cautiously to the opening of the cave.  Here
she could obtain a view of the cliff to the right, but the
climber she could not see--he was below the projecting ledge
that ran before the threshold of her cavern. As she looked
Nat-ul was startled to see a woman emerge from a cave a
trifle above her and fifty feet, perhaps, to her right.  The
watcher drew back, lest she be discovered.  She heard the
stranger's cry of delight as she sighted the climber below.
She saw her clamber down to meet the new comer. She saw the
man an instant later as he clambered to the level of her
ledge.  Her heart gave a throb of happiness--her lips formed
a beloved name; but her happiness was short lived, the name
died ere ever it was uttered. The man was Nu, the son of Nu,
and the woman who met him threw her arms about his neck and
covered his lips with kisses.  It was Gron. Natul recognized
her now. Then she shrank back from the sight, covering her
eyes with her hands, while hot tears trickled between her
slim, brown fingers.  She did not see Nu's easy and
indifferent laugh as he slipped Gron's arms from about his
neck.  Fate was unkind, hiding this and unsealing Nat-ul's
eyes again only in time to show the distracted girl a
momentary glance of her lover disappearing into Gron's cave
with an arm about the woman's waist.

Nat-ul sprang to her feet. Tears of rage, jealousy and
mortification blinded her eyes.  She seized the knife that
lay in her girdle.  Murder flamed hot in her wild, young
heart as she stepped boldly out upon the ledge. She took a
few hurried steps in the direction of the cave which held Nu
and Gron. To the very threshold she went, and then, of a
sudden, she paused.  Some new emotion seized her. A flood of
hot tears welled once more to her eyes--tears of anguish and
hurt love this time.

She tried to force herself within the cave, but pride held
her back.  Then sorrowfully she turned away and descended
the cliff face. As she went her speed increased until by the
time she reached the level before the forest she was flying
like a deer from the scene of her greatest sorrow.  On
through the woods she ran, heedless of every menace that
might lurk within its wild shadows.  Beyond the wood she
came upon a little plain that seemed to end at the edge of a
declivity some distance ahead of her. Beyond, in the far
distance she could see the tops of mountains rising through
a mist that floated over an intervening valley.

She would keep on.  She cared not what lay ahead, only that
at each step she was putting a greater distance between
herself and the faithless Nu, the hateful Gron. That was all
that counted--to get away where none might ever find her--
to court death--to welcome the end that one need never seek
for long in that savage, primeval world.

She had crossed half the clearing, perhaps, when the head of
a bull aurochs appeared topping the crest of the gulf ahead.
The brute paused to look at the woman.  He lowered his head
and bellowed.  Directly behind him appeared another and
another.  Ordinarily the aurochs was a harmless beast,
fighting only when forced to it in self-defense; but an
occasional bull there was that developed bellicose
tendencies that made discretion upon the side of an unarmed
human the better part of valor. Nat-ul paused, measuring the
distance between herself and the bull and herself and the
nearest tree.

While Nat-ul, torn by anguish, fled the cliff that sheltered
Nu, the man, within the cave with Gron, again disengaged the
fingers of the woman from about his neck.

"Cease thy love-making, Gron," he said. "There may be no
love between us. In the tribe of Nu, my father, a man takes
but one mate. I would take Nat-ul, the daughter of Tha. You
are already mated to Tur. You have told me this, and I have
seen his child suckling your breast.  I love only Nat-ul--
you should love only Tur."

The woman interrupted him with an angry stamp of her
sandaled foot.

"I hate him," she cried. "I hate him. I love only Nu, the
son of Nu."

The man shook his head, and when he spoke it was still in a
kindly voice, for he felt only sorrow for the unhappy woman.

"It is useless, Gron," he said, "for us to speak further
upon this matter. Together we must remain until we have come
back to our own countries. But there must be no love, nor
more words of love between us. Do you understand?"

The woman looked at him for a moment. What the emotion that
stirred her heart her face did not betray.  It might have
been the anger of a woman scorned, or the sorrow of a
breaking heart. She took a step toward him, paused, and then
throwing her arms before her face, turned and sank to the
floor of the cave, sobbing.

Nu turned away and stepped out upon the ledge before the
cave.  His quick eyes scanned the panorama spread out before
him in a single glance.  They stopped instantly upon a tiny
figure showing across the forest in the little plain that
ran to the edge of the plateau before it dove into the
valley beside the inland sea.  It was the figure of a woman.
She was running swiftly toward the declivity.  Nu puckered
his brows. There was something familiar about the graceful
swing of the tiny figure, the twinkling of the little feet
as they raced across the grassy plain. Who could it be?
What member of his tribe could have come to this distant
island?  It was but an accidental similarity, of course; but
yet how wildly his heart beat at the sight of that distant
figure!   Could it be?   By any remote possibility could
Nat-ul have reached this strange country?

Coming over the edge of the plateau from the valley beyond,
Nu saw the leaders of a herd of aurochs.  Behind these must
be the herders. Will the girl be able to escape them?  Ah,
she has seen the beasts--she has stopped and is looking
about for a tree, Nu reasoned, for women are ofttimes afraid
of these shaggy bulls.  He remembered, with pride, that his
Nat-ul feared little or nothing upon the face of the earth.
She was cautious, of course, else she would not have
survived a fortnight.  Feared nothing!  Nu smiled. There
were two things that filled Nat-ul with terror--mice and
earthquakes.

Now Nu sees the first of the herders upon the flanks of the
herd.  They are hurrying forward, spears ready, to ascertain
what it is that has brought the leaders to a halt--what is
causing the old king-bull to bellow and paw the earth. Will
the girl see them?  Can she escape them? They see her now,
and at the same instant it is evident that she sees them. Is
she of their people?  If so, she will hasten toward them.
No! She has turned and is running swiftly back toward the
forest.  The herders spring into swift pursuit.  Nu trembled
in excitement.  If he only knew.  If he only knew!

At his shoulder stood Gron. He had not been aware of her
presence.  The woman's eyes strained across the distance to
the little figure racing over the clearing toward the
forest. Her hands were tightly clenched against her breast.
She too, had been struck with the same fear that haunted Nu.
Perhaps she had received the idea telepathically from the
man.

The watchers saw the herders overtake the fugitive, seize
her and drag her back toward the edge of the plateau.  The
herd was turned back and a moment later all disappeared over
the brink. Nu wavered in indecision. He knew that the
captive could not be Nat-ul, and yet something urged him on
to her succor.  They were taking her back to the Lake
Dwellings!  Should he follow? It would be foolish--and yet
suppose that it should be Nat-ul. Without a backward glance
the man started down the cliff-face. The woman behind him,
reading his intention plainly, took a step after him, her
arms outstretched toward him.

"Nu!" she cried.  Her voice was low and pleading. The man
did not turn.  He had no ears, no thoughts beyond the fear
and hope that followed the lithe figure of the captive girl
into the hidden valley toward the distant lake.

Gron threw out her arms toward him in a gesture of
supplication.  For a moment she stood thus, motionless.  Nu
continued his descent of the cliff.  He reached the bottom
and started off at a rapid trot toward the forest.  Gron
clapped her open palm across her eyes, and, turning,
staggered back to the ledge before the cave, where, with a
stifled moan she sank to her knees and slipped prone upon
the narrow platform.




CHAPTER XIV



"I HAVE COME TO SAVE YOU"


Nu reached the edge of the plateau in time to see the
herders and their captive arrive at the dwellings on the
lake. He saw the crowds of excited natives that ran out to
meet them.  He saw the captive pulled and hauled hither and
thither.  The herders pointed often toward the plateau
behind them.  It was evident that Nu's assault upon the
sentry of the previous night taken with the capture of this
stranger and the appearance of Nu and Gron upon the cliff
the day before had filled the villagers with fear of an
invasion from the south. This only could account for the
early return of the herders with their aurochs.

Taking advantage of what cover the descent to the valley
afforded and the bushes and trees that dotted the valley
itself, Nu crept cautiously onward toward the lake. He was
determined to discover the identity of the prisoner, though
even yet he could not believe that she was Nat-ul. A mile
from the shore he was compelled to hide until dark, for
there was less shelter thereafter and, too, there were many
of the natives moving to and fro, having their herds
browsing in the bottom lands close to their dwellings.

When it was sufficiently dark Nu crept closer. Again he hid
in the reeds, but this time much closer to one of the
causeways.  He wished that he knew in precisely which of the
dwellings the captive was confined.  He knew that it would
be madness to attempt to search the entire village, and yet
he saw no other way.

At last the villagers had retired, with the exception of the
sentries that guarded the narrow bridges connecting the
dwellings with the shore. Nu crept silently beneath the
nearest causeway. Wading through the shallow water he made
his way to a point beyond the sentinel's post.  Then he
crossed beneath the dwelling until he had come to the
opposite side. Here the water was almost to his neck.  He
climbed slowly up one of the piles. Stopping often to
listen, he came at last to a height which enabled him to
grasp the edge of the flooring above with the fingers of one
hand. Then he drew himself up until his eyes topped the
platform. Utter silence reigned about him--utter silence and
complete darkness.  He raised himself, grasping the railing,
until one knee rested upon the flooring, then he drew
himself up, threw a leg over the railing and was crouching
close in the shadows against the wall.

Here he listened intently for several minutes. From within
came the sound of the heavy breathing of many sleepers.
Above his head was an opening--a window.  Nu raised himself
until he could peer within.  All was darkness.  He sniffed
in the vain hope of detecting the familiar scent of Nat-ul,
but if she were there all sign of her must have been
submerged in the sweaty exhalations from the close packed
men,  women and  children  and the  strong stench of the
ill-cured aurochs hides upon which they slept.

There was but one way to assure himself definitely--he must
enter the dwelling.  With the stealth of a cat he crawled
through the small aperture.  The floor was almost covered
with sleepers. Among them, and over them Nu picked his
careful way.  He bent low toward each one using his
sensitive nostrils in the blind search where his eyes were
of no avail. He had crossed the room and assured himself
that Nat-ul was not there when a man appeared in the
doorway. It was the sentry.  Nu flattened himself against
the wall not two yards from the door.  What had called the
fellow within?  Had he been alarmed by the movement within
the hut?  Nu waited with ready knife.  The man stepped just
within the doorway.

Throk!" he called.  One of the sleepers stirred and sat up.

"Huh?" grunted he.

"Come and watch--it is your turn," replied the sentry.

"Ugh," replied the sleepy one, and the sentry turned and
left the hut.

Nu could hear him who had been called Throk rising and
collecting his weapons, donning his sandals, straightening
and tightening his loin cloth. He was making ready for his
turn at sentry duty. As he listened a bold scheme flashed
into Nu's mind.  He grasped his knife more tightly, and of a
sudden stepped boldly across the room toward Throk.

"Sh!" he whispered. "I will stand watch in your place
tonight, Throk."

"Huh?" questioned the sleepy man.

"I will stand watch for you," repeated Nu "I would meet--"
and he mumbled a name that might have been anything, "she
said that she would come to me tonight during the second
watch."

Nu could hear the man chuckle.

"Give me your robe," said Nu, "that all may think that it is
you," and he reached his hand for the horn crowned aurochs
skin.

Throk passed it over, only too glad to drop back again into
the slumber that his fellow had disturbed. Nu drew the
bull's head over his own, the muzzle projecting like a
visor, and the whole sitting low upon his head threw his
features into shadow.  Nu stepped out upon the platform. The
other sentry was standing impatiently waiting his coming, at
sight of him the fellow turned and walked toward one of the
dwellings that stretched further into the lake. There were
seven in all that were joined to the shore by this single
causeway--Nu had entered the one nearest the land.

In which was the prisoner, and was she even in any of this
particular collection of dwellings? It was equally possible
that she might be in one of the others of which Nu had
counted not less than ten stretching along the shore of the
lake for at least a mile or more.  But he was sure that they
had first brought her to one of the dwellings of this unit--
he had seen them cross the causeway with her.  Whether they
had removed her to some other village later, he could not
know. If there was only some way to learn definitely.  He
thought of the accommodating and sleepy Throk--would he dare
venture another assault upon the lunk-head's credulity. Nu
shrugged.  The chances were more than even that he would not
find the girl before dawn without help, and that whether he
did or no he never would escape from the village with his
life. What was life anyway, but a series of chances, great
and small.  He had taken chances before--well, he would take
this one.

He reentered the dwelling and walked noisily to Throk's
side.  Stooping he shook the man by the shoulder.  Throk
opened his eyes.

"In which place is the prisoner?" asked Nu. He had come near
to saying cave, but he had heard Gron speak of the hide and
thatch things which protected them from the rains by another
name than cave, and so he was bright enough to guess that he
might betray himself if he used the word here. For the most
part his language and the language of the Lake Dwellers was
identical, and so he used a word which meant, roughly, in
exactly what spot was the captive secured.

"In the last one, of course," grumbled the sleepy Throk.

Nu did not dare question him further.  The last one might
mean the last of this unit of dwellings or it might mean
that she was in the last village, and Nu did not know which
the last village might be, whether north or south of the
village where he was. Already he could feel the eyes of the
man searching through the darkness toward him.  Nu rose and
turned toward the doorway.  Had the fellow's suspicions been
aroused--had Nu gone too far?

Throk sat upright upon his hides watching the retreating
figure--in his dense mind questions were revolving. Who was
this man? Of course he must know him, but somehow he could
not place his voice.  Why had he asked where the captive was
imprisoned? Everyone in all the villages knew that well
enough. Throk became uneasy. He did not like the looks of
things. He started to rise. Ugh! how sleepy he was. What was
the use, anyway? It was all right, of course. He lay back
again upon his aurochs skins.

Outside Nu walked to the shore and replenished the beast
fire.  Then he turned back up the causeway.  Quickly he
continued along the platforms past the several dwellings
until he had come to the last of the seven.  At the doorway
he paused and listened, at the same time sniffing quietly. A
sudden tremor ran through his giant frame, his heart,
throbbing wildly, leaped to his throat--Natul was within!

He crossed the threshold--the building was a small one. No
other scent of human being had mingled with that of Nat-ul.
She must be alone. Nu groped through the darkness, feeling
with his hands in the air before him and his sandaled feet
upon the floor. His delicate nostrils guided him too, and at
last he came upon her, lying tightly bound to an upright at
the far end of the room.

He bent low over her.  She was asleep. He laid a hand upon
her shoulder and as he felt her stir he placed his other
palm across her lips and bending his mouth close to her ear
whispered that she must make no outcry.

Nat-ul opened her eyes and stirred.

S-sh," cautioned Nu. "It is I, Nu, the son of Nu."  He
removed his hand from her lips and raised her to a sitting
posture, kneeling at her side.  He put his arms about her, a
word of endearment on his lips; but she pushed him away.

"What do you here?" she asked, coldly.

Nu was stunned with the surprise of it.

"I have come to save you," he whispered; "to take you back
to the cliffs beside the Restless Sea, where our people
dwell."

"Go away!" replied Nat-ul.  "Go back to your woman."

"Nat-ul!" exclaimed Nu.  "What has happened? What has
changed you? Has the sickness come upon you, because of what
you have endured--the sickness that changes the mind of its
victim into the mind of one of the ape-folk? There is no
woman for Nu but Nat-ul, the daughter of Tha."

"There is the stranger woman, Gron," cried Nat-ul, bitterly.
"I saw her in your arms--I saw your lips meet, and then I
ran away. Go back to her. I wish to die."

Nu sought her hand, holding it tight.

"You saw what you saw, Nat-ul," he said; "but you did not
hear when I told Gron that I loved only you. You did not see
me disengage her arms.  Then I saw you far away, and the
herders come and take you, and I did not even cast another
look upon the stranger woman; but hurried after your
captors, hiding close by until darkness came. That I am
here, Nat-ul, should prove my love, if ever you could have
doubted it. Oh, Nat-ul, Nat-ul, how could you doubt the love
of Nu!"

The girl read as much in his manner as his words that he
spoke the truth, and even had he lied she would surely have
believed him, so great was her wish to hear the very words
he spoke. She dropped her cheek to his hand with a little
sigh of relief and happiness, and then he took her in his
arms. But only a moment could they spare to sentiment--stern
necessity called upon them for action, immediate and swift.
How urgent was the call Nu would have guessed could he have
looked into the hut where Throk lay upon his aurochs skins,
wide eyed.

The man's muddy brain revolved many times the details of the
coming of the fellow who had just asked the whereabouts of
the prisoner. It was all quite strange, and the more that
Throk thought upon it the more fully awake he became and the
better able to realize that there had been something
altogether too unusual and mysterious in the odd request and
actions of the stranger.

Throk sat up. He had suddenly realized what would befall him
should anything happen to the community because of his
neglect of duty--the primitive communal laws were harsh, the
results of their infringement, sudden and relentless. He
jumped to his feet, all excitement now.  Not waiting to find
a skin to throw over his shoulders, he grasped his weapons
and ran out upon the platform. A quick glance revealed the
fact that no sentry was in sight where a sentry should have
been. He recalled the stranger's query about the location of
the captive, and turned his face in the direction of the
further dwellings.

Running swiftly and silently he hastened toward the hut in
which Nat-ul had been confined, and so it was that as Nu
emerged he found a naked warrior almost upon him. At sight
of Nu and the girl behind him Throk raised his voice in a
loud cry of alarm.  His spear hand flew back, but back, too,
flew the spear hand of Nu, the son of Nu.  Two weapons flew
simultaneously, and at the same instant Nat-ul, Nu and Throk
dropped to the planking to avoid the missiles. Both whizzed
harmlessly above them, and then the two warriors rushed upon
one another with upraised axes.

From every doorway men were pouring in response to Throk's
cry.  Nu could not wait to close with his antagonist.  He
must risk the loss of the encounter and his ax as well in
one swift move.  Behind his shoulder his ax hand paused for
an instant, then shot forward and released the heavy weapon.
With the force of a cannon ball the crude stone implement
flew through the air, striking Throk full in the face,
crushing his countenance to a mangled blur of bloody flesh.

As the Lake Dweller  stumbled forward  dead,  Nu grasped
Nat-ul's hand and dragged her around the corner of the
dwelling out of sight of the advancing warriors who were
dashing toward them with savage shouts and menacing weapons.
At the rail of the platform Nu seized Nat-ul and lifted her
over, dropping her into the water beneath as he vaulted over
at her side.

A few strong strokes carried them well under the village,
and as they forged toward the shore they could hear the
searchers running hither and thither above them.  The whole
community was awake by now, and the din was deafening.  As
the two crawled from the water to the shore they were
instantly discovered by those nearest them, and at once the
causeway rattled and groaned beneath the feet of a hundred
warriors that sped along it to intercept the flight of the
fugitives.  Ahead of them were the dangers of the primeval
night; behind them were no less grave dangers at the hands
of their savage foes.  Unarmed, but for a knife, it was
futile to stand and fight. The only hope lay in flight and
the chance that they might reach the forest and a sheltering
tree before either the human beasts behind them or the
beasts of prey before had seized them.

Both Nu and Nat-ul were fleet of foot. Beside them, the Lake
Dwellers were sluggards, and consequently five minutes put
them far ahead of their pursuers, who, seeing the futility
of further pursuit and the danger of being led too far from
their dwellings and possibly into a strong camp of enemies,
abandoned the chase and returned to the lake.

Fortune favored Nu and Nat-ul, as it is ever credited with
favoring the brave. They reached the forest at the edge of
the plateau without encountering any of the more formidable
carnivora. Here they found sanctuary in a tree where they
remained until dawn. Then they resumed their way toward the
cliffs which they must scale to reach the sea.  The matter
of Gron had been settled between them--they would offer to
take her with them back to their own people where she might
live in safety so long as she chose.

It was daylight when Nu and Nat-ul reached the base of the
cliffs.  Gron was not in sight. At the summit of the cliff,
however, two crafty eyes looked from behind a grassy screen
upon them. The watcher saw the man and the maid, and
recognized them both. They were ascending--he would wait a
bit.

Nu and Nat-ul climbed easily upward. When they had gained
about half the distance toward the summit the man, shunning
further concealment, started downward to meet them.  His
awkwardness started a loose stone and appraised them of his
presence.  Nu looked up, as did Nat-ul.

"Tur!  exclaimed the latter.

"Tur," echoed Nu, and redoubled his efforts to ascend.

"You are unarmed," cautioned Nat-ul, "and be is above. The
advantage is all his."

But the cave man was hot to lay hands upon this fellow who
had brought upon Nat-ul all the hardships she had suffered.
He loosed his knife and carried it between his teeth, ready
for instant use. Like a cat he scrambled up the steep
ascent. Directly at his heels came his sweet and savage
Nat-ul.  Between her strong, white teeth was her own knife.
Tur was in for a warm reception.  He had reached a ledge now
just below a cave mouth. Lying loosely upon the cliff-side,
scarcely balanced there, was a huge rock, a ton or two of
potential destruction. Tur espied it.  Just below it,
directly in its path, climbed Nu and Nat-ul. Tur grasped in
an instant the possibilities that lay in the mighty weight
of that huge boulder.  He leaped behind it, and bracing his
feet against it and his back against the cliff, pushed.  The
boulder leaned and rocked. Nu, realizing the danger, looked
to right and left for an avenue of escape, but chance had
played well into the hands of the enemy.  Just at this point
there was no foothold other than directly where they stood.
They redoubled their efforts to reach the man before he
could dislodge the boulder.

Tur redoubled his efforts to start it spinning down upon
them.  He changed his position, placing his shoulder against
the rock and one hand and foot against the cliff. Thus he
pushed frantically. The hideous menace to those below it
swayed and rocked.  Another moment and it would topple
downward.

Presently from the cave behind Tur a woman emerged, awakened
by the noises from without.  It was Gron. She took in the
whole scene in a single glance.  She saw Nu and with him
Nat-ul. The man she loved with the woman who stood between
them, who must always stand between them, for she realized
that Nu would never love her, whether Nat-ul were alive or
dead.

She smiled as she saw success about to crown the efforts of
Tur.  In another instant the man who scorned her love and
the woman she hated with all the power of her savage
jealousy would be hurled, crushed and mangled, to the bottom
of the cliff.

Tur!  She watched her mate with suddenly narrowing eyes.
Tur! He struck her! He repudiated her!  A flush of shame
scorched her cheek.  Tur!  Her mate.  The father of her
child!

The rock toppled. Nu and Nat-uk from below were clambering
upward.  The man had seen Gron, but he had read her emotions
clearly. No use to call upon her for help. Out of the past
the old love for her true mate had sprung to claim her. She
would cleave to Tur in the moment of his victory, hoping
thus to win him back. Nor was Nu insensible to the power of
hatred which he might have engendered in the woman's breast
by repulsing her demonstrations of love.

Another push like the last and the boulder would lunge down
upon them. Gron stood with her hands clutching her naked
breasts, the nails buried in the soft flesh until blood
trickled down the bronze skin. The father of her child. Her
child! The pitiful thing that she deserted within the
shelter by the beach!  Her baby--her dead baby! Dead because
of Tur and his cruelty toward her.

Tur braced himself for the final push.  A smile curled his
lip. His back was toward Gron--otherwise he would not have
smiled.  Even Nu did not smile at the thing he saw above him
--the face of a woman made hideous by hate and blood-lust.
With bared knife Gron leaped toward Tur.  The upraised knife
buried itself in his back and chest. With a scream he turned
toward the avenger.  As his eyes rested upon the face of the
mother of his child, he shrieked aloud, and with the shriek
still upon his lips he sank to the ledge, dead.

Then Gron turned to face the two who were rapidly ascending
toward her. Words of thanks were already upon Nu's lips; but
Gron stood silent, ready to meet them--with bared knife.
What would she do? Nu and Nat-ul wondered, but there was no
retreat and only a knife-armed woman barred their way to
liberty and home.

Nu was almost level with her.  Gron raised her knife above
her head.  Nu sprang upward to strike the weapon to one side
before it was buried in his breast; but Gron was too quick
for him. The blade fell, but not upon Nu.  Deep into her own
broken heart Gron plunged the sharp point, and at the same
instant she leaped far beyond Nu and Nat-ul to crash,
mangled and broken at the foot of the lofty cliff.

Death, sudden and horrible, was no stranger to these
primeval lovers. They saw that Gron was dead, and Tur,
likewise.  Nu appropriated the latter's weapons, and side by
side the two set out to find the beach. They found it with
only such delays and dangers as were daily incidents in
their savage lives. They found the boat, too, and reached
the mainland and, later, the cliffs and their tribe, in
safety.  Here they found a wild welcome awaiting them, for
both had been given up as dead.

That night they walked hand in hand beneath the great
equatorial moon, beside the Restless Sea.

"Soon," said Nu, "Nat-ul shall become the mate of Nu, the
son of Nu. Nu, my father, hath said it, and so, too, has
spoken Tha, the father of Nat-ul. At the birth of the next
moon we are to mate."

Nat-ul nestled closer to him.

"My Nu is a great warrior," she said, "and a great hunter,
but he has not brought back the head of Oo, the killer of
men and of mammoths, that he promised to lay before the cave
of Tha, my father."

"Nu sets out at the breaking of the next light to hunt Oo,"
he answered quietly, "nor will he return to claim his mate
until he has taken the head of the killer of men and
mammoths."

Nat-ul laughed up into Nu's face.

"Nat-ul but joked," she said. "My man has proved himself
greater than a hunter of Oo. I do not want the great toothed
head, Nu. I only want you.  You must not go forth to hunt
the beast--it is enough that you could slay him were he to
attack us, and none there is who dares say it be beyond
you."

"Nevertheless I hunt Oo on the morrow," insisted Nu.  "I
have never forgotten my promise."

Nat-ul tried to dissuade him, but he was obdurate, and the
next morning Nu, the son of Nu, set forth from the cliffs
beside the Restless Sea to hunt the lair of Oo.

All day Nat-ul sat waiting his return though she knew that
it might be days before he came back, or that he might not
come at all.  Grave premonitions of impending danger haunted
her. She wandered in and out of her cave, looking for the
thousandth time along the way that Nu might come.

Suddenly a rumbling rose from far inland. The earth shook
and trembled.  Nat-ul, wide eyed with terror, saw her people
fleeing upward toward their caves.  The heavens became
overcast, the loud rumbling rose to a hideous and deafening
roar. The violence of the earth's motion increased until the
very cliffs in which the people hid rocked and shook like a
leaf before a hurricane.

Nat-ul ran to the innermost recess of her father's cave.
There she huddled upon the floor burying her face in a pile
of bear and lion skins.  About her clustered other members
of her father's family--all were terror stricken.

It was five minutes before the end came.  It came in one
awful hideous convulsion that lifted the mighty cliff a
hundred feet aloft, cracking and shattering it to fragments
as its face toppled forward into the forest at its foot.
Then there was silence--silence awful and ominous.  For five
minutes the quiet of death reigned upon the face of the
earth, until presently from far out at sea came a rushing,
swirling sound--a sound that only a few wild beasts were
left to hear--and the ocean, mountain high, rushed in upon
what had been the village of Nu, the chief.




CHAPTER XV



WHAT THE CAVE REVEALED


When Victoria Custer opened her eyes the first face that she
saw was that of her brother, Barney, bent above her. She
looked at him in puzzled bewilderment for a moment.
Presently she reached her hands toward him.

"Where am I?" she asked. "What has happened?"

"You're all right, Vic," replied the young man. "You're safe
and sound in Lord Greystoke's bungalow."

For another moment the girl knit her brows in perplexity.

"But the earthquake," she asked, "wasn't there an
earthquake?"

"A little one, Vic, but it didn't amount to anything--there
wasn't any damage done."

"How long have I been-er-this way?" she continued.

"You swooned about three minutes ago," replied her brother.
"I just put you down here and sent Esmeralda for some brandy
when you opened your eyes."

"Three minutes," murmured the girl--"three minutes!"

That night after the others had retired Barney Custer sat
beside his sister's bed, and long into the early morning she
told him in simple words and without sign of hysteria the
story that I have told here, of Nat-ul and Nu, the son of
Nu.

"I think," she said, when she had finished the strange tale,
"that I shall be happier for this vision, or whatever one
may call it. I have met my dream man and lived again the
life that he and I lived countless ages ago. Even if he
comes to me in my dreams again it will not disturb me. I am
glad that it was but a dream, and that Mr. Curtiss was not
killed by Terkoz, and that all those other terrible things
were not real."

"Now," said Barney, with a smile, "you may be able to listen
to what Curtiss has been trying to tell you."  It was a half
question.

Victoria Custer shook her head.

"No," she said, "I could never love him now. I cannot tell
you why, but it may be that what I have lived through in
those three minutes revealed more than the dim and distant
past. Terkoz has never liked him, you know."

Barney did not pursue the subject. He kissed the girl good
night and as the east commenced to lighten to the coming
dawn he sought his own room and a few hours' sleep.

The next day it was decided that Victoria and Barney should
start for the coast as soon as porters could be procured,
which would require but a few days at the most.  Lieutenant
Butzow, Curtiss and I decided to accompany them.

It was the last day of their stay at the Greystoke ranch.
The others were hunting. Barney and Victoria had remained to
put the finishing touches upon their packing, but that was
done now and the girl begged for a last ride over the broad,
game dotted valley of Uziri.

Before they had covered a mile Barney saw that his sister
had some particular objective in mind, for she rode straight
as an arrow and rapidly, with scarce a word, straight south
toward the foot of the rugged mountains that bound the
Waziri's country upon that side--in the very direction that
she had previously shunned. After a couple of hours of stiff
riding they came to the foot of the lofty cliff that had
formerly so filled Victoria with terror and misgivings.

"What's the idea, Vic," asked the man," I thought you were
through with all this."

"I am, Barney," she replied, "or will be after today, but I
just couldn't go away without satisfying my curiosity.  I
want to know that there is no cave here in which a man might
be buried."

She dismounted and started to climb the rugged escarpment.
Barney was amazed at the agility and strength of the slender
girl. It kept him puffing to remain near her in her rapid
ascent.

At last she stopped suddenly upon a narrow ledge.  When
Barney reached her side he saw that she was very white, and
he paled himself when he saw what her eyes rested upon.  The
earthquake had dislodged a great boulder that for ages
evidently had formed a part of the face of the cliff.  Now
it had tilted outward a half dozen feet, revealing behind it
the mouth of a gloomy cavern.

Barney took Victoria's hand. It was very cold and trembled a
little.

"Come," he said, "this has gone far enough, Vic. You'll be
sick again if you keep it up. Come back to the horses--we've
seen all we want to see."

She shook her head.

"Not until I have searched that cave," she said, almost
defiantly, and Barney knew that she would have her way.

Together they entered the forbidding grotto, Barney in
advance, striking matches with one hand while he clung to
his cocked rifle with the other; but there was nothing there
that longer had the power to injure.

In a far corner the feeble rays of the match lighted
something that brought Barney to a sudden halt.  He tried to
turn the girl back as though there was nothing more to be
seen, but she had seen too and pressed forward. She made her
brother light another match, and there before them lay the
crumbling skeleton of a large man. By its side rested a
broken, stone-tipped spear, and there was a stone knife and
a stone ax as well.

"Look!" whispered the girl, pointing to something that lay
just beyond the skeleton.

Barney raised the match he held until its feeble flame
carried to that other object--the grinning skull of a great
cat, its upper jaw armed with two mighty, eighteen-inch,
curved fangs.

"Oo, the killer of men and of mammals," whispered Victoria
Custer, in an awed voice, "and Nu, the son of Nu, who killed
him for his Nat-ul--for me!"



THE END





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