酷兔英语



[Illustration: _With a roar, the apemen charged._]

B. C. 30,000

By Capt. S. P. Meek

Back in the dim dawn of civilization

Anak the Hunter stands in his might

before the encroaching Neanderthal

men.

A scream of rage split the darkness. From the side of the fire where the

women sat darted Esle, the High Priestess, a bloody bit of liver in her

hand. Following her, and snarling like an enraged cat, came one of the

maidens of the tribe. The aged hag, Esle, whose duty it was to declare

to the tribe the will of Degar Astok, the mighty one who dwelt in the

heavens and sent the storms to enforce his will, came to a pause before

Uglik, the Chief and tribal Father.

"Una was eating of the man's piece," she shrilled as she held the

fragment aloft.

Uglik dropped the thigh bone from which he had been ripping the meat in

huge chunks. He took the liver from Esle and examined it.

"Bring me my spear!" he roared as he lunged forward and grasped Una by

the hair. "Una has stolen that which is tabu to her and I will punish

her."

Una moaned with fright but attempted no resistance. Uglik grasped his

spear and raised it over his head.

"Hold, Father!" came a clear voice from the group of hunters who sat

near the chief.

Uglik paused in amazement at the interruption. Anak, the Chief Hunter,

rose to his feet and made a step forward.

"She stole it not," he said. "Anak, the Chief Hunter, gave it to her."

Uglik released the girl and stared at the hunter in surprise. Anak

returned the stare coolly and Uglik raised his throwing-spear

threateningly. Anak did not let his gaze wander from the Father's, but

his grasp tightened ever so slightly on the sharp flint smiting-stone

which he had taken from the skin pouch which dangled from his leather

waist belt before he had made his announcement.

"Anak, the Chief Hunter, gave it to her," he repeated slowly. "Anak

killed the buck, and half of the liver is, by the law of the tribe, his

to dispose of. Does the Father deny the right?"

* * * * *

Uglik lowered the point of his spear and thought rapidly. Anak's act

constituted unheard-of rebellion against his authority. On the other

hand, the Chief Hunter was the cleverest tracker of the tribe and a

mighty warrior in battle. The tribe of Ugar had lost most of its

warriors in their long six-month march north from the fertile valley

where the Mediterranean Sea now rolls. Uglik was too wise a leader to

waste men on a trivial quarrel, able though he felt himself to kill

Anak, should the latter cry the rannag, the duel to the death by which

the Father must at any time prove to any challenger, his right to rule.

"It is the right of the killer to dispose of half of the liver of the

kill," he conceded. "It is also the right of the stronger to take what

he wills from the weaker. To Esle belongs the liver. The girl will not

be punished. Anak will join me at meat."

Anak's face flushed momentarily at the arrogant tone of the Father's

ruling. He realized, as well as Uglik, what had caused the Father to

condone his semi-rebellion. He shrugged his shoulders and sat down

beside Uglik.

Uglik ate slowly, looking meditatively at Una as she tore off chunks of

the meat with her strong teeth and swallowed them. The girl was about

eighteen and in the first flush of womanhood. Her tawny brown skin

gleamed like satin in the firelight, which was reflected from her

slightly curling masses of black hair. She stood eight inches over five

feet and her entire body was built on generous lines, lines of perfect

health and almost masculine strength. Anak's eyes followed the direction

of Uglik's gaze and he grew thoughtful in turn.

"Is the Father satisfied with the Chief Hunter?" he asked ceremoniously.

"The Father is," replied Uglik in similar vein.

"Then the Chief Hunter has a boon to ask."

"Name it."

"I desire that maiden, Una, be given to me."

"What?"

Uglik could hardly believe his ears. All of the women of the tribe

belonged of immemorial right to the Father. While he might lend one for

a time to a favored hunter as a mark of distinction, the suggestion that

he completely relinquish his claim to one of them, and a young and

handsome one at that, struck him with such astonishment that he was

momentarily speechless.

"I desire that the maiden, Una, be given to me," repeated Anak. "She

pleases me. I would have her carry my weapons on the march and sleep by

my side in the camp."

* * * * *

Uglik leaped to his feet, spear in hand, but before the Chief Hunter's

cool gaze, he wavered, again. Men were too scarce to waste, unless it

became necessary.

"I will consider the matter," he said shortly. "I may lend her to you

for a time, but I will not give her to you. Such is not the law."

"The Father who ruled before you gave women to his favored hunters,"

replied Anak. "I was the son of such a one."

"And Degar Astok assumed the form of a lion and punished him for his

impiety by destroying him," retorted Uglik.

"Then Uglik killed the lion and so became Father," replied Anak, "since

none dared challenge the slayer of Degar Astok. Is it not possible that

Esle, who was young and who favored Uglik in those days, made a mistake?

Despite his death, Degar Astok still has power."

Uglik's face flushed at the hunter's words.

"Degar Astok may be robbed of one body, but he still lives," he

answered. "Say no more. I will consider your request."

Anak saluted and strode to the other side of the men's fire. He dropped

down beside Invar, the youngest of the hunters. It was on his

recommendation that Invar had been initiated into the ranks of manhood a

full season before his time. The young hunter looked up with adoration

in his eyes.

"This I saved for my friend, Anak," he said proudly as he extended a

generous chunk of liver. "Invar will be honored if his friend will eat

of the liver of his kill."

Anak took the morsel with thanks and ate it slowly. His thoughts ran to

the tall maiden whom he had requested from the Father, and his blood

boiled at the way he had been put off. He was half inclined to cry the

rannag, but he was not yet ready for the death duel which would

determine whether he or Uglik would rule the tribe. There was no other

solution, for, while he ruled, the Father's word was law, subject only

to the higher law of Degar Astok as given out by the High Priestess.

This overlordship was more nominal than actual, for those priestesses

who lived long lives were invariably those who found that the will of

the Father coincided exactly with the law of Degar Astok. Anak revolved

the problem in his mind for a time, but the repletion of raw meat in his

stomach was not conducive to protracted thought. Gradually his head

slumped forward and he slept sitting. The other hunters followed his

example, leaving the youths from ten to seventeen to guard the camp,

keep the fires going, and rouse the hunters should need arise.

* * * * *

The night passed slowly without alarms. Womoo, the lion, roared in the

distance, and from near at hand came the coughing laugh of Kena, the

jackal, who always prowled around the camp when the tribe fed on meat.

Gradually the sky grew lighter. One of the children moaned in his sleep

and raised his head. He rose, and with a word to the youth on guard,

trotted off toward the stream which gurgled near the camp. He

disappeared in the darkness. Suddenly there came a sudden scream, shut

off in mid-note. Hardly had the cry ceased than the hunters were on

their feet with spears ready in their hands.

"What is it?" cried Uglik.

"Loda went to the stream to drink," stuttered the guard. "He screamed,

and I saw a gray shape run off into the darkness. It ran like Grup, the

bear, but it was small."

"Bring fire!" cried Anak.

The youth seized a burning brand and led the way toward the stream. By

the light of the torch Anak scrutinized the ground carefully. With a

sudden exclamation, he pointed out to Uglik the print of a long and

narrow, but unmistakably human, foot in the mud by the river bank. Uglik

studied it carefully.

"What think you?" he demanded of Anak.

"It is the mark of man, yet not of our tribe," replied the Chief Hunter.

"Such marks have I never seen."

"Wait until Degar Astok sends the light," directed Uglik. "As soon as

you can trail, the hunters will go in pursuit."

* * * * *

Slowly the light grew brighter. As soon as he could pick out the trail,

Anak led the way, Uglik with the warriors and youths following closely.

The trail led straight up the valley for a half mile before it turned

and followed a branch of the stream which came from a ravine in the

valley wall. The hunters went a hundred yards up the ravine following

Anak. The Chief Hunter paused and held up his hand. He sniffed the air

and then led the way cautiously past a projecting shoulder of rock. On

a ledge, half way up the hillside, sat two monstrous things.

They were manlike and yet hardly man. Their bodies were covered with

stiff, coarse, gray hair which lengthened into a mane on the head and

neck. Their foreheads were low and receding, an impression which was

heightened by the enormously developed brow ridges, although the cranial

capacity of the creatures was not small, as was evidenced by enormous

bulges at the back of their heads. They walked on two legs but with a

peculiar slouch, the torso inclined forward from the hips, and their

eyes bent perpetually on the ground. Their arms were long and at times

they bent forward so much that it appeared almost as though they were

going on all fours. A close examination of their hands would have shown

that it was impossible for them to hold a needle between the thumb and

forefinger.

"Gumor, the gray ape!" cried one of the hunters.

"It is not Gumor," replied Anak, "although they are like his cousins.

See what they eat!"

As the hunters of the Cro-Magnon tribe of Ugar saw the meat which the

Neanderthalers were tearing, a cry of wrath broke from them. Uglik

stepped forward and raised the war cry of the tribe. The Neanderthalers

looked stupidly down at him for a moment. The huge male dropped the meat

he was eating and rose, his mane and beard bristling with rage. With a

roar, he charged down the slope, a huge flint smiting-stone in either

hand.

* * * * *

The hunters closed up on Uglik. As the attacker came within range, he

was saluted with a shower of stones which sprang harmlessly from his

huge rounded chest. Uglik hurled his spear. It pierced the apeman's

shoulder but did not make him pause. Other spears were hurled and struck

their mark, but without a pause the Neanderthaler came on with howls of

rage and pain, bloody froth flying from his lips.

Anak had not thrown his spear, and Invar, who stood beside his hero, had

likewise retained his weapon. The apeman came on with a rush. Uglik

sprang forward to meet him, but another hunter was directly in the path

of the attack. He swung his flint smiting-stone with a will, but his

blow was futile. He went down before a sweep of the apeman's arm, his

skull crushed to fragments.

Uglik struck at the attacker. The Neanderthaler turned toward him, but

as he did so, Anak hurled his spear. At close range, the stone-tipped

weapon passed nearly through the apeman. He stopped his rush and began

to cough up blood from a pierced lung. Anak seized Invar's spear and

sprang to the attack. An unfledged youth who craved distinction, rushed

ahead of the Chief Hunter, but his act spelled his doom. One blow of the

huge smiting-stone laid him dead. Anak hurled Invar's spear and again

his weapon found its mark. The Neanderthaler roared with pain and sank

gradually to his knees. Uglik dashed in, knife in hand. He threw himself

on the prostratemonster and stabbed him again and again. The blows

struck home, but with a last effort the apeman threw off his assailant

and struck at him with the huge stone which had already robbed the tribe

of two of its members. Before the blow could fall, Samo, one of the

hunters, threw himself in the way and took the blow on his arm. The arm

bone snapped like a pipestem, but it was the monster's dying effort.

With a shudder, he fell back dead.

* * * * *

A ferocious howl rent the air. With a smiting-stone in each hand, the

female charged down at them. She was somewhat smaller than the male, but

still a match for any two of the men. Uglik's face paled as he wrenched

Invar's spear from the dead male and turned to face her. The howl was

repeated from farther up the ravine. Two more males were approaching at

a lumbering run, smiting-stones in either hand. Uglik was a brave man,

but he was also a cautious leader. He did not care to expose his tribe

to almost certain annihilation and he led a wild retreat down the

valley, Samo, with his arm hanging limp, bringing up the rear. The

Neanderthalers did not follow into the open valley.

Again at the camping place, Uglik called his hunters into council. The

situation was grave enough. With the Neanderthalers so near them, it

meant eventual annihilation to stay where they were, yet there was no

place they could go. They had been driven from their old home by hordes

of men who came up from the south. They had fought to retain their

ancestral hunting grounds where they had dwelt since the beginning of

time, but a series of defeats at the hands of overwhelming numbers had

dwindled down the tribe until a migration was necessary. They had

followed the migrating game toward the unknown north.

Several times they had tried to stop, but each time they had found the

land in possession of other and stronger tribes. Their men had been

killed and their women stolen until they again took up their march to

the north. From the hundred that had formerly called Uglik "Father,"

there now remained only a score of women and children, a half dozen

youths, and five able-bodied hunters, besides Uglik.

South, they dared not go. North, there lay unknown horrors. West lay the

raging sea. East, the Neanderthalers blocked the way.

* * * * *

The council broke up with no action decided on. Faced with the

alternatives of moving or staying, there seemed to be little choice.

Only death faced them, whichever way they turned. Uglik posted guards

about the camp and announced that he would retire and consult with Degar

Astok as to their future course.

As he disappeared into the woods, Esle sidled up to Anak.

"It seems that Degar Astok no longer loves Uglik," she said slyly. "Does

not the Chief Hunter agree with me?"

Anak looked at the withered hag coldly.

"Who am I to tell his Priestess whom Degar Astok loves?" he asked. "You

are his voice and should know."

"True, Anak, I am his voice, and the God loves me," she went on, "yet it

may be that men do not always love me. Uglik thinks that I have given

him false counsel and he is ready for a new Priestess to announce the

will of Degar Astok to him. He believes that a new and younger Priestess

would bring back the favor of the God."

"What is that to me?" asked Anak.


生词表:
  • hunter [´hʌntə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.猎人;猎狗;猎马   (初中英语单词)
  • scream [skri:m] 移动到这儿单词发声  v.&n.尖叫(声)   (初中英语单词)
  • bloody [´blʌdi] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.(流)血的;血腥的   (初中英语单词)
  • enforce [in´fɔ:s] 移动到这儿单词发声  vt.执行;强迫;加强   (初中英语单词)
  • stolen [´stəulən] 移动到这儿单词发声  steal 的过去分词   (初中英语单词)
  • fright [frait] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.惊吓;恐怖;怪人   (初中英语单词)
  • resistance [ri´zistəns] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.抵抗;抵制;耐力   (初中英语单词)
  • amazement [ə´meizmənt] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.惊愕;惊奇   (初中英语单词)
  • interruption [intə´rʌpʃ(ə)n] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.停止,中断   (初中英语单词)
  • wander [´wɔndə, ´wɑ:n:dər] 移动到这儿单词发声  v.徘徊;流浪   (初中英语单词)
  • slightly [´slaitli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.轻微地;细长的   (初中英语单词)
  • dispose [di´spəuz] 移动到这儿单词发声  v.处置;安排;布置   (初中英语单词)
  • warrior [´wɔriə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.勇士,战士   (初中英语单词)
  • generous [´dʒenərəs] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.慷慨的;丰盛的   (初中英语单词)
  • maiden [´meidn] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.少女 a.未婚的   (初中英语单词)
  • distinction [di´stiŋkʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.差别;特征;卓越   (初中英语单词)
  • suggestion [sə´dʒestʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.建议,提议;暗示   (初中英语单词)
  • astonishment [ə´stɔniʃmənt] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.吃惊;惊异   (初中英语单词)
  • scarce [skeəs, skers] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.缺乏的;稀有的   (初中英语单词)
  • shortly [´ʃɔ:tli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.立刻,马上;不久   (初中英语单词)
  • challenge [´tʃælindʒ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.&vt.向….挑战;怀疑   (初中英语单词)
  • proudly [´praudli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.骄傲地;傲慢地   (初中英语单词)
  • actual [´æktʃuəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.现实的;实际的   (初中英语单词)
  • stream [stri:m] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.河 vi.流出;飘扬   (初中英语单词)
  • pointed [´pɔintid] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.尖(锐)的;中肯的   (初中英语单词)
  • valley [´væli] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.谷;河谷;流域   (初中英语单词)
  • hillside [´hilsaid] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.山腰   (初中英语单词)
  • coarse [kɔ:s] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.粗(糙)的;粗鲁的   (初中英语单词)
  • impression [im´preʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.印刷;印象;效果   (初中英语单词)
  • examination [ig,zæmi´neiʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.检查;考试;检验   (初中英语单词)
  • needle [´ni:dl] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.针;指针 v.用针缝   (初中英语单词)
  • shower [´ʃauə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.展出者;阵雨;淋浴   (初中英语单词)
  • sprang [spræŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  spring 的过去式   (初中英语单词)
  • weapon [´wepən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.武器;斗争手段   (初中英语单词)
  • monster [´mɔnstə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.怪物 a.大得异常的   (初中英语单词)
  • lumbering [´lʌmbəriŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.伐木(业)   (初中英语单词)
  • expose [ik´spəuz] 移动到这儿单词发声  vt.揭露,暴露;陈列   (初中英语单词)
  • retreat [ri´tri:t] 移动到这儿单词发声  v.&n.退却;撤退;放弃   (初中英语单词)
  • driven [´driv(ə)n] 移动到这儿单词发声  drive 的过去分词   (初中英语单词)
  • retain [ri´tein] 移动到这儿单词发声  vt.保持;保留;留住   (初中英语单词)
  • beginning [bi´giniŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.开始,开端;起源   (初中英语单词)
  • series [´siəri:z] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.连续;系列;丛书   (初中英语单词)
  • formerly [´fɔ:məli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.从前,以前   (初中英语单词)
  • retire [ri´taiə] 移动到这儿单词发声  v.撤退;退职;退休   (初中英语单词)
  • consult [kən´sʌlt] 移动到这儿单词发声  v.商量;磋商;请教   (初中英语单词)
  • counsel [´kaunsəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.商议;劝告;律师   (初中英语单词)
  • mighty [´maiti] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.强有力的 ad.很   (高中英语单词)
  • repeated [ri´pi:tid] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.反复的;重复的   (高中英语单词)
  • rebellion [ri´beljən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.叛乱;造反;反抗   (高中英语单词)
  • fertile [´fə:tail] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.肥沃的;有繁殖力的   (高中英语单词)
  • mediterranean [,meditə´reiniən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.地中海 a.地中海的   (高中英语单词)
  • thoughtful [´θɔ:tfəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.深思的;体贴的   (高中英语单词)
  • strode [strəud] 移动到这儿单词发声  stride的过去式   (高中英语单词)
  • manhood [´mænhud] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.人格;男子气概   (高中英语单词)
  • invariably [in´veəriəbli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.不变地;永恒地   (高中英语单词)
  • cautiously [´kɔ:ʃəsli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.小心地;谨慎地   (高中英语单词)
  • monstrous [´mɔnstrəs] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.怪异的;庞大的   (高中英语单词)
  • shudder [´ʃʌdə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.&vi.震颤;发抖   (高中英语单词)
  • hanging [´hæŋiŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.绞刑 a.悬挂着的   (高中英语单词)
  • decided [di´saidid] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.明显的;决定的   (高中英语单词)
  • coolly [´ku:li] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.冷(静地),沉着地   (英语四级单词)
  • trivial [´triviəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.琐碎的;不重要的   (英语四级单词)
  • masculine [´mæ:skjulin] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.男性的 n.男子   (英语四级单词)
  • morsel [´mɔ:səl] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.佳肴 vt.少量地分配   (英语四级单词)
  • exclamation [,eksklə´meiʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.喊(惊)叫;感叹词   (英语四级单词)
  • ravine [rə´vi:n] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.沟壑;深谷   (英语四级单词)
  • enormously [i´nɔ:məsli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.巨大的,庞大的   (英语四级单词)
  • futile [´fju:tail] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.无用的,无益的   (英语四级单词)
  • prostrate [´prɔstreit, prɔ´streit] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.俯伏的 vt.弄倒   (英语四级单词)
  • cautious [´kɔ:ʃəs] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.小心的;谨慎的   (英语四级单词)
  • overwhelming [,əuvə´welmiŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.压倒的;势不可挡的   (英语四级单词)
  • migration [mai´greiʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.迁移;移居   (英语四级单词)
  • arrogant [´ærəgənt] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.傲慢的;自大的   (英语六级单词)
  • immemorial [,imi´mɔ:riəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.太古的,极古的   (英语六级单词)
  • relinquish [ri´liŋkwiʃ] 移动到这儿单词发声  vt.放弃;撤回;停止   (英语六级单词)
  • extended [iks´tendid] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.伸长的;广大的   (英语六级单词)
  • ferocious [fə´rəuʃəs] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.凶猛的;残忍的   (英语六级单词)
  • hunting [´hʌntiŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.打猎   (英语六级单词)
  • whichever [witʃ´evə] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.&pron.无论哪个(些)   (英语六级单词)

  • 上传人 欢乐鱼 分享于 2017-06-26 17:30:58
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