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Before Adam, by Jack London

Part 3 out of 3

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tree. So it came about, our honeymoon over, that we
went to the caves to live. As Lop-Ear had evicted me
from the cave when he got married, I now evicted him;
and the Swift One and I settled down in it, while he
slept at night in the connecting passage of the double
cave.

And with our coming to live with the horde came
trouble. Red-Eye had had I don't know how many wives
since the Singing One. She had gone the way of the
rest. At present he had a little, soft, spiritless
thing that whimpered and wept all the time, whether he
beat her or not; and her passing was a question of very
little time. Before she passed, even, Red-Eye set his
eyes on the Swift One; and when she passed, the
persecution of the Swift One began.

Well for her that she was the Swift One, that she had
that amazing aptitude for swift flight through the
trees. She needed all her wisdom and daring in order
to keep out of the clutches of Red-Eye. I could not
help her. He was so powerful a monster that he could
have torn me limb from limb. As it was, to my death I
carried an injured shoulder that ached and went lame in
rainy weather and that was a mark of is handiwork.

The Swift One was sick at the time I received this
injury. It must have been a touch of the malaria from
which we sometimes suffered; but whatever it was, it
made her dull and heavy. She did not have the
accustomed spring to her muscles, and was indeed in
poor shape for flight when Red-Eye cornered her near
the lair of the wild dogs, several miles south from the
caves. Usually, she would have circled around him,
beaten him in the straight-away, and gained the
protection of our small-mouthed cave. But she could
not circle him. She was too dull and slow. Each time
he headed her off, until she gave over the attempt and
devoted her energies wholly to keeping out of his
clutches.

Had she not been sick it would have been child's play
for her to elude him; but as it was, it required all
her caution and cunning. It was to her advantage that
she could travel on thinner branches than he, and make
wider leaps. Also, she was an unerring judge of
distance, and she had an instinct for knowing the
strength of twigs, branches, and rotten limbs.

It was an interminable chase. Round and round and back
and forth for long stretches through the forest they
dashed. There was great excitement among the other
Folk. They set up a wild chattering, that was loudest
when Red-Eye was at a distance, and that hushed when
the chase led him near. They were impotent onlookers.
The females screeched and gibbered, and the males beat
their chests in helpless rage. Big Face was especially
angry, and though he hushed his racket when Red-Eye
drew near, he did not hush it to the extent the others
did.

As for me, I played no brave part. I know I was
anything but a hero. Besides, of what use would it
have been for me to encounter Red-Eye? He was the
mighty monster, the abysmal brute, and there was no
hope for me in a conflict of strength. He would have
killed me, and the situation would have remained
unchanged. He would have caught the Swift One before
she could have gained the cave. As it was, I could
only look on in helpless fury, and dodge out of the way
and cease my raging when he came too near.

The hours passed. It was late afternoon. And still
the chase went on. Red-Eye was bent upon exhausting
the Swift One. He deliberately ran her down. After a
long time she began to tire and could no longer
maintain her headlong flight. Then it was that she
began going far out on the thinnest branches, where he
could not follow. Thus she might have got a breathing
spell, but Red-Eye was fiendish. Unable to follow her,
he dislodged her by shaking her off. With all his
strength and weight, he would shake the branch back and
forth until he snapped her off as one would snap a fly
from a whip-lash. The first time, she saved herself by
falling into branches lower down. Another time, though
they did not save her from the ground, they broke her
fall. Still another time, so fiercely did he snap her
from the branch, she was flung clear across a gap into
another tree. It was remarkable, the way she gripped
and saved herself. Only when driven to it did she seek
the temporary safety of the thin branches. But she was
so tired that she could not otherwise avoid him, and
time after time she was compelled to take to the thin
branches.

Still the chase went on, and still the Folk screeched,
beat their chests, and gnashed their teeth. Then came
the end. It was almost twilight. Trembling, panting,
struggling for breath, the Swift One clung pitiably to
a high thin branch. It was thirty feet to the ground,
and nothing intervened. Red-Eye swung back and forth
on the branch farther down. It became a pendulum,
swinging wider and wider with every lunge of his
weight. Then he reversed suddenly, just before the
downward swing was completed. Her grips were torn
loose, and, screaming, she was hurled toward the
ground.

But she righted herself in mid-air and descended feet
first. Ordinarily, from such a height, the spring in
her legs would have eased the shock of impact with the
ground. But she was exhausted. She could not exercise
this spring. Her legs gave under her, having only
partly met the shock, and she crashed on over on her
side. This, as it turned out, did not injure her, but
it did knock the breath from her lungs. She lay
helpless and struggling for air.

Red-Eye rushed upon her and seized her. With his
gnarly fingers twisted into the hair of her head, he
stood up and roared in triumph and defiance at the awed
Folk that watched from the trees. Then it was that I
went mad. Caution was thrown to the winds; forgotten
was the will to live of my flesh. Even as Red-Eye
roared, from behind I dashed upon him. So unexpected
was my charge that I knocked him off his feet. I
twined my arms and legs around him and strove to hold
him down. This would have been impossible to
accomplish had he not held tightly with one hand to the
Swift One's hair.

Encouraged by my conduct, Big-Face became a sudden
ally. He charged in, sank his teeth in Red-Eye's arm,
and ripped and tore at his face. This was the time for
the rest of the Folk to have joined in. It was the
chance to do for Red-Eye for all time. But they
remained afraid in the trees.

It was inevitable that Red-Eye should win in the
struggle against the two of us. The reason he did not
finish us off immediately was that the Swift One
clogged his movements. She had regained her breath and
was beginning to resist. He would not release his
clutch on her hair, and this handicapped him. He got a
grip on my arm. It was the beginning of the end for
me. He began to draw me toward him into a position
where he could sink his teeth into my throat. His
mouth was open, and he was grinning. And yet, though
he had just begun to exert his strength, in that moment
he wrenched my shoulder so that I suffered from it for
the remainder of my life.

And in that moment something happened. There was no
warning. A great body smashed down upon the four of us
locked together. We were driven violently apart and
rolled over and over, and in the suddenness of surprise
we released our holds on one another. At the moment of
the shock, Big-Face screamed terribly. I did not know
what had happened, though I smelled tiger and caught a
glimpse of striped fur as I sprang for a tree.

It was old Saber-Tooth. Aroused in his lair by the
noise we had made, he had crept upon us unnoticed. The
Swift One gained the next tree to mine, and I
immediately joined her. I put my arms around her and
held her close to me while she whimpered and cried
softly. From the ground came a snarling, and crunching
of bones. It was Saber-Tooth making his supper off of
what had been Big-Face. From beyond, with inflamed
rims and eyes, Red-Eye peered down. Here was a monster
mightier than he. The Swift One and I turned and went
away quietly through the trees toward the cave, while
the Folk gathered overhead and showered down abuse and
twigs and branches upon their ancient enemy. He lashed
his tail and snarled, but went on eating.

And in such fashion were we saved. It was a mere
accident--the sheerest accident. Else would I have
died, there in Red-Eye's clutch, and there would have
been no bridging of time to the tune of a thousand
centuries down to a progeny that reads newspapers and
rides on electric cars--ay, and that writes narratives
of bygone happenings even as this is written.

CHAPTER XVII

It was in the early fall of the following year that it
happened. After his failure to get the Swift One,
Red-Eye had taken another wife; and, strange to relate,
she was still alive. Stranger still, they had a baby
several months old--Red-Eye's first child. His previous
wives had never lived long enough to bear him children.
The year had gone well for all of us. The weather had
been exceptionally mild and food plentiful. I remember
especially the turnips of that year. The nut crop was
also very heavy, and the wild plums were larger and
sweeter than usual.

In short, it was a golden year. And then it happened.
It was in the early morning, and we were surprised in
our caves. In the chill gray light we awoke from
sleep, most of us, to encounter death. The Swift One
and I were aroused by a pandemonium of screeching and
gibbering. Our cave was the highest of all on the
cliff, and we crept to the mouth and peered down. The
open space was filled with the Fire People. Their
cries and yells were added to the clamor, but they had
order and plan, while we Folk had none. Each one of us
fought and acted for himself, and no one of us knew the
extent of the calamity that was befalling us.

By the time we got to stone-throwing, the Fire People
had massed thick at the base of the cliff. Our first
volley must have mashed some heads, for when they
swerved back from the cliff three of their number were
left upon the ground. These were struggling and
floundering, and one was trying to crawl away. But we
fixed them. By this time we males were roaring with
rage, and we rained rocks upon the three men that were
down. Several of the Fire-Men returned to drag them
into safety, but our rocks drove the rescuers back.

The Fire People became enraged. Also, they became
cautious. In spite of their angry yells, they kept at
a distance and sent flights of arrows against us. This
put an end to the rock-throwing. By the time half a
dozen of us had been killed and a score injured, the
rest of us retreated inside our caves. I was not out
of range in my lofty cave, but the distance was great
enough to spoil effective shooting, and the Fire People
did not waste many arrows on me. Furthermore, I was
curious. I wanted to see. While the Swift One
remained well inside the cave, trembling with fear and
making low wailing sounds because I would not come in,
I crouched at the entrance and watched.

The fighting had now become intermittent. It was a
sort of deadlock. We were in the caves, and the
question with the Fire People was how to get us out.
They did not dare come in after us, and in general we
would not expose ourselves to their arrows.
Occasionally, when one of them drew in close to the
base of the cliff, one or another of the Folk would
smash a rock down. In return, he would be transfixed
by half a dozen arrows. This ruse worked well for some
time, but finally the Folk no longer were inveigled
into showing themselves. The deadlock was complete.

Behind the Fire People I could see the little wizened
old hunter directing it all. They obeyed him, and went
here and there at his commands. Some of them went into
the forest and returned with loads of dry wood, leaves,
and grass. All the Fire People drew in closer. While
most of them stood by with bows and arrows, ready to
shoot any of the Folk that exposed themselves, several
of the Fire-Men heaped the dry grass and wood at the
mouths of the lower tier of caves. Out of these heaps
they conjured the monster we feared--FIRE. At first,
wisps of smoke arose and curled up the cliff. Then I
could see the red-tongued flames darting in and out
through the wood like tiny snakes. The smoke grew
thicker and thicker, at times shrouding the whole face
of the cliff. But I was high up and it did not bother
me much, though it stung my eyes and I rubbed them with
my knuckles.

Old Marrow-Bone was the first to be smoked out. A
light fan of air drifted the smoke away at the time so
that I saw clearly. He broke out through the smoke,
stepping on a burning coal and screaming with the
sudden hurt of it, and essayed to climb up the cliff.
The arrows showered about him. He came to a pause on a
ledge, clutching a knob of rock for support, gasping
and sneezing and shaking his head. He swayed back and
forth. The feathered ends of a dozen arrows were
sticking out of him. He was an old man, and he did not
want to die. He swayed wider and wider, his knees
giving under him, and as he swayed he wailed most
plaintively. His hand released its grip and he lurched
outward to the fall. His old bones must have been
sadly broken. He groaned and strove feebly to rise,
but a Fire-Man rushed in upon him and brained him with
a club.

And as it happened with Marrow-Bone, so it happened
with many of the Folk. Unable to endure the
smoke-suffocation, they rushed out to fall beneath the
arrows. Some of the women and children remained in the
caves to strangle to death, but the majority met death
outside.

When the Fire-Men had in this fashion cleared the first
tier of caves, they began making arrangements to
duplicate the operation on the second tier of caves.
It was while they were climbing up with their grass and
wood, that Red-Eye, followed by his wife, with the baby
holding to her tightly, made a successful flight up the
cliff. The Fire-Men must have concluded that in the
interval between the smoking-out operations we would
remain in our caves; so that they were unprepared, and
their arrows did not begin to fly till Red-Eye and his
wife were well up the wall. When he reached the top,
he turned about and glared down at them, roaring and
beating his chest. They arched their arrows at him,
and though he was untouched he fled on.

I watched a third tier smoked out, and a fourth. A few
of the Folk escaped up the cliff, but most of them were
shot off the face of it as they strove to climb. I
remember Long-Lip. He got as far as my ledge, crying
piteously, an arrow clear through his chest, the
feathered shaft sticking out behind, the bone head
sticking out before, shot through the back as he
climbed. He sank down on my ledge bleeding profusely
at the mouth.

It was about this time that the upper tiers seemed to
empty themselves spontaneously. Nearly all the Folk
not yet smoked out stampeded up the cliff at the same
time. This was the saving of many. The Fire People
could not shoot arrows fast enough. They filled the
air with arrows, and scores of the stricken Folk came
tumbling down; but still there were a few who reached
the top and got away.

The impulse of flight was now stronger in me than
curiosity. The arrows had ceased flying. The last of
the Folk seemed gone, though there may have been a few
still hiding in the upper caves. The Swift One and I
started to make a scramble for the cliff-top. At sight
of us a great cry went up from the Fire People. This
was not caused by me, but by the Swift One. They were
chattering excitedly and pointing her out to one
another. They did not try to shoot her. Not an arrow
was discharged. They began calling softly and
coaxingly. I stopped and looked down. She was afraid,
and whimpered and urged me on. So we went up over the
top and plunged into the trees.

This event has often caused me to wonder and speculate.
If she were really of their kind, she must have been
lost from them at a time when she was too young to
remember, else would she not have been afraid of them.
On the other hand, it may well have been that while she
was their kind she had never been lost from them; that
she had been born in the wild forest far from their
haunts, her father maybe a renegade Fire-Man, her
mother maybe one of my own kind, one of the Folk. But
who shall say? These things are beyond me, and the
Swift One knew no more about them than did I.

We lived through a day of terror. Most of the
survivors fled toward the blueberry swamp and took
refuge in the forest in that neighborhood. And all day
hunting parties of the Fire People ranged the forest,
killing us wherever they found us. It must have been a
deliberately executed plan. Increasing beyond the
limits of their own territory, they had decided on
making a conquest of ours. Sorry the conquest! We had
no chance against them. It was slaughter,
indiscriminate slaughter, for they spared none, killing
old and young, effectively ridding the land of our
presence.

It was like the end of the world to us. We fled to the
trees as a last refuge, only to be surrounded and
killed, family by family. We saw much of this during
that day, and besides, I wanted to see. The Swift One
and I never remained long in one tree, and so escaped
being surrounded. But there seemed no place to go.
The Fire-Men were everywhere, bent on their task of
extermination. Every way we turned we encountered them,
and because of this we saw much of their handiwork.

I did not see what became of my mother, but I did see
the Chatterer shot down out of the old home-tree. And
I am afraid that at the sight I did a bit of joyous
teetering. Before I leave this portion of my
narrative, I must tell of Red-Eye. He was caught with
his wife in a tree down by the blueberry swamp. The
Swift One and I stopped long enough in our flight to
see. The Fire-Men were too intent upon their work to
notice us, and, furthermore, we were well screened by
the thicket in which we crouched.

Fully a score of the hunters were under the tree,
discharging arrows into it. They always picked up
their arrows when they fell back to earth. I could not
see Red-Eye, but I could hear him howling from
somewhere in the tree.

After a short interval his howling grew muffled. He
must have crawled into a hollow in the trunk. But his
wife did not win this shelter. An arrow brought her to
the ground. She was severely hurt, for she made no
effort to get away. She crouched in a sheltering way
over her baby (which clung tightly to her), and made
pleading signs and sounds to the Fire-Men. They
gathered about her and laughed at her--even as Lop-Ear
and I had laughed at the old Tree-Man. And even as we
had poked him with twigs and sticks, so did the
Fire-Men with Red-Eye's wife. They poked her with the
ends of their bows, and prodded her in the ribs. But
she was poor fun. She would not fight. Nor, for that
matter, would she get angry. She continued to crouch
over her baby and to plead. One of the Fire-Men
stepped close to her. In his hand was a club. She saw
and understood, but she made only the pleading sounds
until the blow fell.

Red-Eye, in the hollow of the trunk, was safe from
their arrows. They stood together and debated for a
while, then one of them climbed into the tree. What
happened up there I could not tell, but I heard him
yell and saw the excitement of those that remained
beneath. After several minutes his body crashed down
to the ground. He did not move. They looked at him
and raised his head, but it fell back limply when they
let go. Red-Eye had accounted for himself.

They were very angry. There was an opening into the
trunk close to the ground. They gathered wood and
grass and built a fire. The Swift One and I, our arms
around each other, waited and watched in the thicket.
Sometimes they threw upon the fire green branches with
many leaves, whereupon the smoke became very thick.

We saw them suddenly swerve back from the tree. They
were not quick enough. Red-Eye's flying body landed in
the midst of them.

He was in a frightful rage, smashing about with his
long arms right and left. He pulled the face off one
of them, literally pulled it off with those gnarly
fingers of his and those tremendous muscles. He bit
another through the neck. The Fire-Men fell back with
wild fierce yells, then rushed upon him. He managed to
get hold of a club and began crushing heads like
eggshells. He was too much for them, and they were
compelled to fall back again. This was his chance, and
he turned his back upon them and ran for it, still
howling wrathfully. A few arrows sped after him, but
he plunged into a thicket and was gone.

The Swift One and I crept quietly away, only to run
foul of another party of Fire-Men. They chased us into
the blueberry swamp, but we knew the tree-paths across
the farther morasses where they could not follow on the
ground, and so we escaped. We came out on the other
side into a narrow strip of forest that separated the
blueberry swamp from the great swamp that extended
westward. Here we met Lop-Ear. How he had escaped I
cannot imagine, unless he had not slept the preceding
night at the caves.

Here, in the strip of forest, we might have built
tree-shelters and settled down; but the Fire People
were performing their work of extermination thoroughly.
In the afternoon, Hair-Face and his wife fled out from
among the trees to the east, passed us, and were gone.
They fled silently and swiftly, with alarm in their
faces. In the direction from which they had come we
heard the cries and yells of the hunters, and the
screeching of some one of the Folk. The Fire People
had found their way across the swamp.

The Swift One, Lop-Ear, and I followed on the heels of
Hair-Face and his wife. When we came to the edge of
the great swamp, we stopped. We did not know its
paths. It was outside our territory, and it had been
always avoided by the Folk. None had ever gone into
it--at least, to return. In our minds it represented
mystery and fear, the terrible unknown. As I say, we
stopped at the edge of it. We were afraid. The cries
of the Fire-Men were drawing nearer. We looked at one
another. Hair-Face ran out on the quaking morass and
gained the firmer footing of a grass-hummock a dozen
yards away. His wife did not follow. She tried to, but
shrank back from the treacherous surface and cowered
down.

The Swift One did not wait for me, nor did she pause
till she had passed beyond Hair-Face a hundred yards
and gained a much larger hummock. By the time Lop-Ear
and I had caught up with her, the Fire-Men appeared
among the trees. Hair-Face's wife, driven by them into
panic terror, dashed after us. But she ran blindly,
without caution, and broke through the crust. We
turned and watched, and saw them shoot her with arrows
as she sank down in the mud. The arrows began falling
about us. Hair-Face had now joined us, and the four of
us plunged on, we knew not whither, deeper and deeper
into the swamp.

CHAPTER XVIII

Of our wanderings in the great swamp I have no clear
knowledge. When I strive to remember, I have a riot of
unrelated impressions and a loss of time-value. I have
no idea of how long we were in that vast everglade, but
it must have been for weeks. My memories of what
occurred invariably take the form of nightmare. For
untold ages, oppressed by protean fear, I am aware of
wandering, endlessly wandering, through a dank and
soggy wilderness, where poisonous snakes struck at us,
and animals roared around us, and the mud quaked under
us and sucked at our heels.

I know that we were turned from our course countless
times by streams and lakes and slimy seas. Then there
were storms and risings of the water over great areas
of the low-lying lands; and there were periods of
hunger and misery when we were kept prisoners in the
trees for days and days by these transient floods.

Very strong upon me is one picture. Large trees are
about us, and from their branches hang gray filaments
of moss, while great creepers, like monstrous serpents,
curl around the trunks and writhe in tangles through
the air. And all about is the mud, soft mud, that
bubbles forth gases, and that heaves and sighs with
internal agitations. And in the midst of all this are
a dozen of us. We are lean and wretched, and our bones
show through our tight-stretched skins. We do not sing
and chatter and laugh. We play no pranks. For once
our volatile and exuberant spirits are hopelessly
subdued. We make plaintive, querulous noises, look at
one another, and cluster close together. It is like
the meeting of the handful of survivors after the day
of the end of the world.

This event is without connection with the other events
in the swamp. How we ever managed to cross it, I do
not know, but at last we came out where a low range of
hills ran down to the bank of the river. It was our
river emerging like ourselves from the great swamp. On
the south bank, where the river had broken its way
through the hills, we found many sand-stone caves.
Beyond, toward the west, the ocean boomed on the bar
that lay across the river's mouth. And here, in the
caves, we settled down in our abiding-place by the sea.

There were not many of us. From time to time, as the
days went by, more of the Folk appeared. They dragged
themselves from the swamp singly, and in twos and
threes, more dead than alive, mere perambulating
skeletons, until at last there were thirty of us. Then
no more came from the swamp, and Red-Eye was not among
us. It was noticeable that no children had survived the
frightful journey.

I shall not tell in detail of the years we lived by the
sea. It was not a happy abiding-place. The air was
raw and chill, and we suffered continually from
coughing and colds. We could not survive in such an
environment. True, we had children; but they had
little hold on life and died early, while we died
faster than new ones were born. Our number steadily
diminished.

Then the radical change in our diet was not good for
us. We got few vegetables and fruits, and became
fish-eaters. There were mussels and abalones and clams
and rock-oysters, and great ocean-crabs that were
thrown upon the beaches in stormy weather. Also, we
found several kinds of seaweed that were good to eat.
But the change in diet caused us stomach troubles, and
none of us ever waxed fat. We were all lean and
dyspeptic-looking. It was in getting the big abalones
that Lop-Ear was lost. One of them closed upon his
fingers at low-tide, and then the flood-tide came in
and drowned him. We found his body the next day, and
it was a lesson to us. Not another one of us was ever
caught in the closing shell of an abalone.

The Swift One and I managed to bring up one child, a
boy--at least we managed to bring him along for several
years. But I am quite confident he could never have
survived that terrible climate. And then, one day, the
Fire People appeared again. They had come down the
river, not on a catamaran, but in a rude dug-out.
There were three of them that paddled in it, and one of
them was the little wizened old hunter. They landed on
our beach, and he limped across the sand and examined
our caves.

They went away in a few minutes, but the Swift One was
badly scared. We were all frightened, but none of us
to the extent that she was. She whimpered and cried
and was restless all that night. In the morning she
took the child in her arms, and by sharp cries,
gestures, and example, started me on our second long
flight. There were eight of the Folk (all that was left
of the horde) that remained behind in the caves. There
was no hope for them. Without doubt, even if the Fire
People did not return, they must soon have perished.
It was a bad climate down there by the sea. The Folk
were not constituted for the coast-dwelling life.

We travelled south, for days skirting the great swamp
but never venturing into it. Once we broke back to the
westward, crossing a range of mountains and coming down
to the coast. But it was no place for us. There were
no trees--only bleak headlands, a thundering surf, and
strong winds that seemed never to cease from blowing.
We turned back across the mountains, travelling east
and south, until we came in touch with the great swamp
again.

Soon we gained the southern extremity of the swamp, and
we continued our course south and east. It was a
pleasant land. The air was warm, and we were again in
the forest. Later on we crossed a low-lying range of
hills and found ourselves in an even better forest
country. The farther we penetrated from the coast the
warmer we found it, and we went on and on until we came
to a large river that seemed familiar to the Swift One.
It was where she must have come during the four years'
absence from the harde. This river we crossed on logs,
landing on side at the large bluff. High up on the
bluff we found our new home most difficult of access
and quite hidden from any eye beneath.

There is little more of my tale to tell. Here the
Swift One and I lived and reared our family. And here
my memories end. We never made another migration. I
never dream beyond our high, inaccessible cave. And
here must have been born the child that inherited the
stuff of my dreams, that had moulded into its being all
the impressions of my life--or of the life of
Big-Tooth, rather, who is my other-self, and not my
real self, but who is so real to me that often I am
unable to tell what age I am living in.

I often wonder about this line of descent. I, the
modern, am incontestably a man; yet I, Big-Tooth, the
primitive, am not a man. Somewhere, and by straight
line of descent, these two parties to my dual
personality were connected. Were the Folk, before
their destruction, in the process of becoming men? And
did I and mine carry through this process? On the other
hand, may not some descendant of mine have gone in to
the Fire People and become one of them? I do not know.
There is no way of learning. One thing only is
certain, and that is that Big-Tooth did stamp into the
cerebral constitution of one of his progeny all the
impressions of his life, and stamped them in so
indelibly that the hosts of intervening generations
have failed to obliterate them.

There is one other thing of which I must speak before I
close. It is a dream that I dream often, and in point
of time the real event must have occurred during the
period of my living in the high, inaccessible cave. I
remember that I wandered far in the forest toward the
east. There I came upon a tribe of Tree People. I
crouched in a thicket and watched them at play. They
were holding a laughing council, jumping up and down
and screeching rude choruses.

Suddenly they hushed their noise and ceased their
capering. They shrank down in fear, and quested
anxiously about with their eyes for a way of retreat.
Then Red-Eye walked in among them. They cowered away
from him. All were frightened. But he made no attempt
to hurt them. He was one of them. At his heels, on
stringy bended legs, supporting herself with knuckles
to the ground on either side, walked an old female of
the Tree People, his latest wife. He sat down in the
midst of the circle. I can see him now, as I write
this, scowling, his eyes inflamed, as he peers about
him at the circle of the Tree People. And as he peers
he crooks one monstrous leg and with his gnarly toes
scratches himself on the stomach. He is Red-Eye, the
atavism.

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