Author(s)Morgan Robertson (1861-1915): Robertson was a well-known American author of short stories and novels, and the inventor of the periscope. Son of Andrew Robertson, a ship captain on the Great Lakes, and Amelia (Glassford) Robertson. Morgan went to sea as a cabin boy and was in the merchant service from 1866 to 1877, rising to first mate. Tiring of life at sea, he studied jewelry making at Cooper Union in New York City and worked for 10 years as a diamond setter. He is best remembered for the short novel Futility, or the Wreck of the Titan (1898), which prefigures the sinking of the H.M.S. Titanic. Similarly his 1914 novel Beyond the Spectrum forecast a future war between the United States and Japan, including a sneak attack by the Japanese (on San Francisco, not Hawaii). On March 24, 1915, Robertson was found dead in his room at the Alamac Hotel in Atlantic City, New Jersey. He was 53 years of age. It is believed that he died of an overdose of protiodide.
Link to Tarzan of the ApesFeral children grow up on a desert island.
Robertson, Morgan. 1898. "Three Laws and the Golden Rule." In Three Laws and the Golden Rule. New York: McClure's and Metropolitan Magazines. 249 pp. [original appearance American Sunday Monthly Magazine] Robertson, Morgan. 1899. "Primordial." In Where Angels Fear to Tread. New York: McClure's and Metropolitan Magazines. 302 pp. [original appearance Harpers' Monthly Magazine, April 1898, no illus.]
Obtained through ILL
Modifications to the text
None. "Primordial" (1899) is presented before "Three Laws and the Golden Rule" (1898) as the second follows the first in the narrative.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Three Laws and the Golden Rule
Gasping, blue in the face, halfdrowned, the boy was flung spitefully -- as though the sea scorned so poor a victory -- high on the sandy beach, where succeeding shorter waves lapped at him and retired. The encircling lifebuoy was large enough to permit his crouching within it. Pillowing his head on one side of the smooth ring, he wailed hoarsely for an interval, then slept -- or swooned. The tide went down the beach, the typhoon whirled its raging center off to sea, and the tropic moon shone out, lighting up, between the beach and barrier reef, a heaving stretch of oily lagoon on which appeared and disappeared hundreds of shark-fins quickly darting, and, out on the barrier reef, perched high, yet still pounded by the ocean combers raised by the storm, a fragment of ship's stern with a stump of mizzenmast. The elevated position of the fragment, the quickly darting dorsal fins, and the absence of company for the child on the beach spoke, too plainly, of shipwreck, useless boats, and horrible death.
Sharks must sleep like other creatures, and they nestle in hollows at the bottom and in coral eaves, or under overhanging ledges of the reefs which attract them. The first swimmer may pass safely by night, seldom the second. Like she-wolves, fiendish cats, and vicious horses, they have been known to show mercy to children. For one or both reasons, this child had drifted to the beach unharmed.
Anywhere but on a bed of hot sand near the equator the sleep in wet clothing of a three-year-old boy might have been fatal; but salt water carries its own remedy for the evils of its moisture, and he wakened at daylight with strength to rise and cry out his protest of loneliness and misery. His childish mind could record facts, but not their reason or coherency. He was in a new, an unknown world. His mother had filled his old; where was she now? Why had she tied him into that thing and thrown him from her into the darkness and wet? Strange things had happened, which he dimly remembered. He had been roused from his sleep, dressed, and taken out of doors in the dark, where there were frightful crashing noises, shoutings of men, and crying of women and other children. He had cried himself, from sympathy and terror, until his mother had thrown him away. Had he been bad? Was she angry? And after that -- what was the rest? He was hungry and thirsty now. Why did she not come? He would go and find her.
With the life-buoy banging about his waist -- though of cork, a heavy weight for him -- he toddled along the beach to where it ended at a massive ridge of rock that came out of the wooded country inland -- and extended into the lagoon as an impassable point. He called the chief word in his vocabulary again and again, sobbing between calls. She was not there, or she would have come; so he went back, glancing fearfully at the dark woods of palm and undergrowth. She might be in there, but he was afraid to look. His little feet carried him a full half-mile in the other direction before the line of trees and bushes reached so close to the beach as to stop him. Here he sat down, screaming passionately and convulsively for his mother.
Crying is an expense of energy which must be replenished by food. When he could cry no longer he tugged at the straps and strings of the life-buoy. But they were wet and bard, his little fingers were weak, and he knew nothing of knots and their untying, so it was well on toward midday before he succeeded in scrambling out of the meshes, by which time he was famished, feverish with thirst, and all but sunstruck. He wandered unsteadily along the beach, falling occasionally, moaning piteously through his parched, open lips; and when he reached the obstructing ridge of rock, turned blindly into the bushes at its base, and followed it until he came to a pool of water formed by a descending spray from above. From this, on his hands and knees, he drank deeply, burying his lips as would an animal.
Instinct alone had guided him here, away from the salt pools on the beach, and impelled him to drink fearlessly. It was instinct -- a familiar phase in a child -- that induced him to put pebbles, twigs, and small articles in his mouth until he found what was pleasant to his taste and eatable -- nuts and berries; and it was instinct, the most ancient and deeply implanted, -- the lingering index of an arboreal ancestry that now taught him the safety and comfort of these woody shades, and, as night came on, prompted him -- as it prompts a drowning man to reach high, and leads a creeping babe to a chair -- to attempt climbing a tree. Failing in this from lack of strength, he mounted the rocky wall a few feet, and here, on a narrow ledge, after indulging in a final fit of crying, he slept through the night, not comfortably on so hard a bed, but soundly.
During the day, while he had crawled about at the foot of the rocks, wild hogs, marsupial animals, and wood-rats had examined him suspiciously through the undergrowth and decamped. As he slept, bowling night-dogs came up, sniffed at him from a safe distance, and scattered from his vicinity. He would have yielded in a battle with a pugnacious kitten, but these creatures recognized a prehistoric foe, and would not abide with him.
A week passed before he had ceased to cry and call for his mother; but from this on her image grew fainter, and in a month the infant intelligence had discarded it. He ate nuts and berries as he found them, drank from the pool, climbed the rocks and strolled in the wood, played on the beach with shells and fragments of splintered wreckage, wore out his clothes, and in another month was naked; for when buttons and vital parts gave way and a garment fell, he let it lie. But he needed no clothes, even at night; for it was southern summer, and the northeast monsoon, adding its humid warmth to the radiating beat from the sun-baked rocks, kept the temperature nearly constant.
He learned to avoid the sun at midday, and, free from contagion and motherly coddling, escaped many of the complaints which torture and kill children; yet he suffered frightfully from colic until his stomach was accustomed to the change of diet, by which time he was emaciated to skin and bone. Then a reaction set in, and as time passed he gained healthy flesh and muscle on the nitrogenous food.
Six months from the time of his arrival, another storm swept the beach. Pelted by the warm rain, terror-stricken, he cowered under the rocks through the night, and at daylight peered out on the surf-washed sands, heaving lagoon, and white line of breakers on -- the barrier reef. The short-lived typhoon had passed, but the wind still blew slantingly on the beach with force enough to raise a turmoil of crashing sea and undertow in the small bay formed by the extension of the wall. The fragment of ship's stern on the reef had disappeared; but a half mile to the right -- directly in the eye of the wind -- was another wreck, and somewhat nearer, on the heaving swell of the lagoon, a black spot, which moved and approached. It came down before the wind and resolved into a closely packed group of human beings, some of whom tugged frantically at the oars of the water-logged boat which held them, others of whom as frantically bailed with caps and hands. Escorting the boat was a fleet of dorsal fins, and erect in the stern-sheets was a white-faced woman, holding a child in one arm while she endeavored to remove a circular life-buoy from around her waist At first heading straight for the part of the beach where the open-eyed boy was watching, the boat now changed its course and by desperate exertion of the rowers reached a position from which it could drift to leeward of the point and its deadly maelstrom. With rowers bailing and the white-faced woman seated, fastening the child in the life-buoy, the boat, gunwale-deep, and the gruesome guard of sharks drifted out of sight behind the point. The boy had not understood; but he had seen his kind, and from association of ideas appreciated again his loneliness -- crying and wailing for a week; but not for his mother: he had forgotten her.
With the change of the monsoon came a lowering of the temperature. Naked and shelterless, he barely survived the first winter, tropical though it was. But the second found him inured to the surroundings -- hardy and strong. When able to, he climbed trees and found birds' eggs, which he accidentally broke and naturally ate. It was a pleasant relief from a purely vegetable diet, and he became a proficient egg-thief ; then the birds built their nests beyond his reach. Once he was savagely pecked by an angry brush-turkey and forced to defend himself. It aroused a combativeness and destructiveness that had lain dormant in his nature.
Children the world over epitomize in their habits and thoughts the infancy of the human race. Their morals and modesty, as well as their games, are those of paleolithic man, and they are as remorsely cruel. From the day of his fracas with the turkey he was a hunter -- of grubs, insects, and young birds; but only to kill, maim, or torture; he did not eat them, because hunger was satisfied, and he possessed a child's dislike of radical change.
Deprived of friction with other minds, he was slower than his social prototype in the reproduction of the epochs. At a stage when most boys are passing through the age of stone, with its marbles, caves, and-slings, he was yet in the earlier arboreal period -- a climber -- and would swing from branch to branch with almost the agility of an ape.
On fine, sunny days, influenced by the weather, he would laugh and shout hilariously; a gloomy sky made him morose. When hurt, or angered by disappointment in the hunt, he would cry out inarticulately; but having no use for language, did not talk, hence did not think, as the term is understood. His mind received the impressions of his senses, and could fear, hate, and remember, but knew nothing of love, for nothing lovable appealed to it. He could hardly reason, as yet; his shadow puzzled, angered, and annoyed him until he noticed ??s concomitance with the sun, when he reversed cause and effect, considered it a beneficent, mysterious Something that had life, and endeavored by gesture and grimace to placate and please it. It was his beginning of religion.
His dreams were often horrible. Strange shapes, immense snakes and reptiles, and nondescript monsters made up of prehistoric legs, teeth, and heads, afflicted his sleep. He had never seen them; they were an inheritance, but as real to him as the sea and sky, the wind and rain.
Every six months, at the breaking up of the monsoon, would come squalls and typhoons-full of menace, for his kindly, protecting shadow then deserted him. One day, when about ten years old, during a wild burst of storm, he fled down the beach in an agony of terror; for, considering all that moved as alive, he thought that the crashing sea and swaying, falling trees were attacking him, and, half buried in the sand near the bushes, found the forgotten lifebuoy, stained and weather-worn. It was quiescent, and new to him, like nothing he had seen, -- and he clung to it. At that moment the sun appeared, and in a short time the storm had passed. He carried the life-buoy back with him -- spurning and threatening his delinquent shadow -- and looked for a place to put it, deciding at last on a small cave in the rocky wall near to the pool. In a corner of this he installed the ring of cork and canvas, and remained by it, patting and caressing it. When it rained again, he appreciated, for the first time, the comfort of shelter, and became a cavedweller, with a new god -- a fetish, to which he transferred his allegiance and obeisance because more powerful than his shadow.
From correlation of instincts, he now entered the age of stone. He no longer played with shells and sticks, but with pebbles, which he gathered, boarded in piles, and threw at marks, -- to be gathered again, -- seldom entering the woods but for food and the relaxation of the hunt. But with his change of habits came a lessening of his cruelty to defenseless creatures, -- not that he felt pity: he merely found no more amusement in killing and tormenting, -- and in time he transferred his antagonism to the sharks in the lagoon, their dorsal fins making famous targets for his pebbles. He needed no experience with these pirates to teach him to fear and hate them, and when he bathed -- which habit he acquired as a relief from the heat, and indulged daily -- he chose a pool near the rocks that filled at high tide, and in it learned to swim, paddling like a dog.
And so the boy, blue-eyed and fair at the beginning, grew to early manhood, as handsome an animal as the world contains, tall, straight, and clean-featured with steady eyes wide apart and skin -- the color of old copper from sun and wind -- covered with a fine, soft down, which at the age of sixteen had not yet thickened on his face to beard and mustache, though his wavy brown hair reached to his shoulders.
At this period a turning-point appeared in his life which gave an impetus to his almost stagnant mental development his food-supply diminished and his pebble-supply gave out completely, forcing him to wander. Pebble-throwing was his only amusement; pebble-gathering his only labor; eating was neither. He browsed, and nibbled at all hours of the day, never knowing the sensation of a full stomach, and, until lately, of an empty one. To this, perhaps, may he ascribed his wonderful immunity from sickness. In collecting pebbles his method was to carry as many as his hands would bold to a pile on the beach and go back for more; and in the six years of his stone-throwing he had found and thrown at the sharks every stone as small as his fist, within a sector formed by the beach and the rocky wall to an equal distance inland. The fruits, nuts, edible roots, and grasses growing in this area had hitherto supported him, but would no longer, owing to a drought of the previous year, which, luckily, had not affected his water supply.
One morning, trembling with excitement, eye and ear on the alert, -- as a high-spirited horse enters a strange pasture, he ventured past the junction of bush and tide-mark, and down the unknown beach beyond. He filled his hands with the first pebbles he found, but noticing the plentiful supply on the ground ahead of him, dropped them and went on; there were other things to interest him. A broad stretch of undulating, scantily wooded country reached inland from the convex beach of sand and shells to where it met the receding line of forest and bush behind him; and far away to his right, darting back and forth among stray bushes and sand-hummocks, were small creatures -- strange, unlike those he knew, but in regard to which he felt curiosity rather than fear.
He traveled around,the circle of beach, and noticed that the moving creatures fled at his approach. They were wild hogs, hunted of men since hunting began. He entered the forest about midday, and emerging, found himself on a pebbly beach similar to his own, and facing a continuation of the rocky wall, which, like the other end, dipped into the lagoon and prevented further progress. He was thirsty, and found a pool near the rocks; hungry, and he ate of nuts and berries which he recognized. Puzzled by the reversal of perspective and the similarity of conditions, he proceeded along the wall, dimly expecting to find his cave. But none appeared, and, mystified, -- somewhat frightened, --he plunged into the wood, keeping close to the wall and looking sharply about him. Like an exiled cat or a carrierpigeon, he was making a straight line for home, but did not know it.
His progress was slow, for boulders, stumps, and rising ground impeded him. Darkness descended when he was but half-way home and nearly on a level with the top of the wall. Forced to stop, he threw himself down, exhausted, yet nervous and wakeful, as any other animal in a strange place. But the familiar moon came out, shining through the foliage, and this soothed him into a light slumber.
He was wakened by a sound near by that he had heard all his life at a distance -- a wild chorus of barking. It was coming his way, and he crouched and waited, grasping a stone in each hand. The barking, interspersed soon with wheezing squeals, grew painfully loud, and culminated in vengeful growls, as a young pig sprang into a patch of moonlight, with a dozen dingoes -- night-dogs -- at its heels. In the excitement of pursuit they did not notice the crouching boy, but pounced on the pig, tore at it, snapping and snarling at one another, and in a few minutes the meal was over.
Frozen with terror at this strange sight, the, boy remained quiet until the brutes began sniffing and turning in his direction; then he stood erect, and giving vent to a scream which rang through the forest, hurled the two stones with all his strength' straight at the nearest. He was a good marksman. Agonized yelps followed the impact of stone and hide; two dogs rolled over and over, then, gaining their feet, sped after their fleeing companions, while the boy sat down, trembling in every limb -- completely unnerved. Yet he knew that he was the cause of their flight. With a stone in each hand, he watched and waited until daylight, then arose and went on homeward, with a new and intense emotion not fear of the dingoes: he was the superior animal, and knew it -- not pity for the pig: he had not developed to the pitying stage. He was possessed by a strong, instinctive desire to emulate the dogs and eat of animal food. It did not come of his empty stomach; he felt it, after he had satisfied his hunger on the way; and as he plodded down the slope toward his cave, gripped his missiles fiercely and watched sharply for small animals -- preferably pigs.
But no pigs appeared. He reached his cave, and slept all day and the following night, waking in the morning hungry, and with the memory of his late adventure strong in his mind. He picked up the two stones he had brought home, and started down the beach, but stopped, came back, and turned inland by the wall; then he halted again and retraced his steps -- puzzled. He pondered awhile, -- if his Mental processes may be so termed -- then walked slowly down the beach, entered the bush a short distance, turned again to the wall, and gained his starting-point. Then he reversed the trip, and coming back by way of the beach, struck inland with a clear and satisfied face. He had solved the problem a new and hard one for him -- that of two roads to a distant place; and he had chosen the shortest.
In a few hours he reached his late camping-spot, and crouched to the earth, listening for barking and squealing for a pig to be chased his way. But dingoes hunt only by night, and unmolested pigs do not squeal. Impatient at last, he went on through the forest in the direction from which they had come, until he reached the open country where he had first seen them; and here, rooting under the bushes at the margin of the wood, he discovered a family -- a mother and four young ones -- which had possibly contained the victim of the dogs. He stalked them slowly and cautiously, keeping bushes between himself and them, but was seen by the mother when about twenty yards away. She sniffed suspiciously, then, with a warning grunt and a scattering of dust and twigs, scurried into the woods, with her brood -- all but one -- in her wake.
A frightened pig is as easy a target as a darting dorsal fin, and a fat suckling lay kicking convulsively on the ground. He hurried up, the hunting gleam bright in his eyes, and hurled the second stone at the little animal. It still kicked, and he picked up the first stone, thinking it might be more potent to kill, and crashed it down on the unfortunate pig's head. It glanced from the head to the other stone and struck a spark -- which he noticed.
The pig now lay still, and satisfied that he had killed it, he tried to repeat the carom, but failed. Yet the spark had interested him -- he wanted to see it again, -- and it was only after he had reduced the pig's head to a pulp that he became disgusted and angrily threw the stone in his hand at the one on the ground. The resulting spark delighted him. He repeated the experiment again and again, each concussion drawing a spark, and finally used one stone as a hammer on the other, with the same result -- to him, a bright and pretty thing, very small, but alive, which came from either of the dead stones. Tired of the play at last, he turned to the pig -- the food that he had yearned for.
It was well for him, perhaps, that the initial taste of bristle and fat prevented his taking the second mouthful. Slightly nauseated, he dropped the carcass and turned to go, but immediately bounded in the air with a bowl of pain. His left foot was red and smarting. Once he had cut it on a sharp shell, and now searched for a wound, but found none. Rubbing increased the pain. Looking on the ground for the cause, he discovered a wavering, widening ring of strange appearance, and within it a blackened surface on which rested the two stones. They were dry flint nodules, and he had set fire to the grass with the sparks.
Considering this to be a new animal that had attacked him, he pelted it with stones, dancing around it in a rage and shouting hoarsely. He might have conquered the fire and never invoked it again, had not the supply of stones in the vicinity given out, or those he had used grown too hot to handle; for he stayed the advancing flame at one side. But the other side was creeping on, and he used dry branches, dropping to his hands and knees to pound the fire, fighting bravely, crying out with pain as he burned himself, and forced to drop stick after stick which caught fire. Soon it grew too hot to remain near, and he stood off and launched fuel at it, which resulted in a fair-sized bonfire; then, in desperation and fear, he buried the dead pig -- the cause of the trouble -- at the terrible monster, and fled.
Looking back through the trees to see if he was pursued, he noticed that the strange enemy had taken new shape and color; it was reaching up into the air, black and cloud-like. Frightened, tired mentally and physically, and suffering keenly from his burns, he turned his back on the half-solved problem and endeavored to satisfy his hunger. But he was on strange territory and found little of his accustomed food; the chafing and abrading contact of bushes and twigs irritated his sore spots, preventing investigation and rapid progress, and at the end of three hours, still hungry, and exasperated by his torment into a reckless, fighting mood, he picked up stones and returned savagely to battle again with the enemy. But the enemy was dead. The grass had burned to where it met dry earth, and the central fire was now a black-and-white pile of still warm ashes, on which lay the charred and denuded pig, giving forth a savory odor. Cautiously approaching, he studied the situation, then, yielding to an irresistible impulse, seized the pig and ran through the woods to the wall and down to his cave.
Two hours later he was writhing on the ground with a violent stomach-ache. It was forty-eight hours after when he ate again, and then of his old food -- nuts and berries. But the craving returned in a week, and he again killed a pig, but was compelled to forego eating it for lack of fire.
Though he had discovered fire and cooked food, his only conception of the process, so far, was that the mysterious enemy was too powerful for him to kill, that it would eat sticks and grass but did not like stones, and that a dead pig could kill it, and in the conflict be made eatable. It was only after months of playing with flints and sparks that he recognized the part borne by dry grass or moss, and that with these he could create it at will; that a dead pig, though always improved by the effort, could not he depended upon to kill it unless the enemy was young and small, -- when stones would answer as well, -- and that he could always kill it himself by depriving it of food.
It is hardly possible that animal food produced a direct effect on his mind; but the effort to obtain it certainly did, arousing his torpid faculties to a keener activity. He grasped. the relation of cause to effect -- seeing one, he looked for the other. He noticed resemblances and soon realized the common attributes of fire and the sun; and, as his fetish was not always good to him, -- the sun and storm seeming to follow their own sweet will in spite of his unspoken faith in the life-buoy, -- he again became an apostate, transferring his allegiance to the sun, of which the friendly fire was evidently a part or symbol. He did not discard his dethroned fetish completely; he still kept it in his cave to punch, kick, and revile by gestures and growls at times when the sun was hidden, retaining this habit from his former faith. The lifebuoy was now his devil -- a symbol of evil, or what was the same to him -- discomfort; for he had advanced in religious thought to a point where he needed one. Every morning when the sun shone, and at its reappearance after the rain, he prostrated himself in a patch of sunlight -- this and the abuse of the life-buoy becoming ceremonies in his fire-worship.
In time he became such a menace to the bogs that they climbed the wall at the high ground and disappeared in the country beyond. And after them went the cowardly dingoes that preyed on their young. Rodent animals, more difficult to hunt, and a species of Small kangaroo furnished him occupation and food until they, too, emigrated, when he was forced to follow; he was now a carnivorous animal, no longer satisfied with vegetable food.
The longer hunts brought with them a difficulty which spurred him to further invention. He could carry only as many stones as his hands would hold, and often found himself far from his base of supply, with game in sight, and without means to kill it. The pouch in which the mother kangaroo carried her young suggested to his mind a like contrivance for carrying stones. Since he had cut his foot on the shell, he had known the potency of a sharp edge, but not until he needed to remove charred and useless flesh from his food did he appreciate the utility. It was an easy advance for him roughly to skin a female kangaroo and wear the garment for the pocket's sake. But it chafed and irritated him; so, cutting off the troublesome parts little by little, he finally reduced it to a girdle which held only the pouch. And in this receptacle he carried stones for throwing and shells for cutting, his expeditions now extending for miles beyond the wall, and only limited by the necessity of returning for water, of which, in the limestone rock, there were plenty of pools and trickling springs.
He learned that no stones but the dry flints he found close to the wall would strike sparks; but, careless, improvident, petulant child of nature that he was, he exhausted the supply, and one day, too indolent to search his hunting-tracts to regain the necessary two, he endeavored to draw fire from a pair that he dug from the moist earth, and failing, threw them with all his strength at the rocky wall. One of them shivered to irregular pieces, the other parted with a flake -- a six-inch dagger-like fragment, flat on one I side, convex on the other, with sharp edges that met in a point at one end, and at the other, where lay the cone of percussion, rounded into a roughly cylindrical shape, convenient for handling. Though small, no flint-chipping savage of the storie age ever made a better knife, and he was quick to appreciate its superiority to a shell.
Like most discoveries and inventions that have advanced the human race, his were, in the main, accidental; Yet.be could now reason from the accidental to the analogous. Idly swinging his girdle around his head, one day, and letting go, he was surprised at the distance to which, with little effort, he could send the stone-laden pouch. Months of puzzled experimenting produced a sling -- at first with a thong of hide fast to each stone, later with the double thong and pouch that small boys and savages have not yet improved upon.
To this centrifugal force, which he could use without wholly understanding, he added the factor of a rigid radius a handle to a heavy stone; for only with this contrivance could he break large flints and open cocoanuts -- an article of good food that he had passed by all his life and wondered at until his knife had divided a green one. His experiments in this line resulted in a heavy, sharp-edged, solid-backed flint, firmly bound with thongs to the end of a stick, -- a rude tomahawk -- convenient for the coup de grâce.
The ease with which he could send a heavy stone out of sight, or bury a smaller one in the side of a hog at short range, was wonderful to him; but he was twenty years old before, by daily practice with his sling, he brought his marksmanship up to that of his unaided hand, equal to which, at an earlier date, was his skill at hatchet-throwing. He could outrun and tomahawk the fastest bog, could bring down with his sling a kangaroo on the jump or a pigeon on the wing, could smell and distinguish game to windward with the keen scent of a hound, and became so formidable an enemy of his troublesome rivals, the dingoes, -- whose flesh he disapproved of, -- and the sharks in the lagoon, that the one deserted his hunting-ground and the other seldom left the reef.
He broke or lost one knife and hatchet after another, and learned, in making new ones, that he could chip them into improved shape when freshly dug, and that he must allow them to dry before using -- when they were also available for striking fire. He had enlarged his pocket, making a better one of whole skin by roughly sewing the edges together with thongs, first curing the bide by soaking in salt water and scraping with his knife. His food-list now embraced shellfish and birds, wild yams, breadfruit, and cocoanuts, which, even the latter, he cooked before eating and prepared before cooking. Pushed by an ever-present healthy appetite, and helped by inherited instincts based on the habits and knowledge of a long line of civilized ancestry, he had advanced in four years from an indolent, mindless existence to a plane of fearless, reasoning activity. He was a hunter of prowess, master of his surroundings, lord over all creatures he had seen, and, though still a cave-dweller when at home, in a fair way to become a hut-builder, herdsman, and agriculturist; for he had arranged boughs to shelter him from the rain when hunting, had attempted to block up the pass over the wall to prevent the further wanderings of a herd of hogs that he had pursued, and had lately become interested in the sprouting of nuts and seeds and the encroachments and changes of the vegetation.
Yet he lacked speech, and did his thinking without words. The deficiency was not accompanied by the unpleasant twisted features and grimacing of mutes, which comes of conscious effort to communicate. His features were smooth and regular, his mouth symmetrical and firm, and his clear blue eye thoughtful and intent as that of a student; for he had studied and thought. He would smile and frown, laugh and shout, growl and whine, the pitch and timbre of his inarticulate utterance indicating the emotion which prompted it to about the same degree as does an intelligent dog's language to his master. But dogs and other social animals converse in a speech beyond human ken; and in this respect he was their inferior, for he had not yet known the need of language, and did not, until, one day, in a section of his domain that he had never visited before, because game avoided it, -- down by the sea on the side of the wall opposite to his cave, he met a creature like himself.
He had come down the wooded slope on the steady jogtrot he assumed when traveling, tomahawk in hand, careless, confident, and happy because of the bright sunshine and his lately appeased hunger, and, as he bounded on to the beach with a joyous whoop, was startled by an answering scream.
Mingled with the frightful monsters in the dreams of his childhood had been transient glimpses of a kind, placid face, that he seemed to know -- a face that bent over him lovingly and kissed him. These were subconscious memories of his mother, which lasted long after he had forgotten her. As he neared manhood, strange yearnings had come to him -- a dreary loneliness and craving for company. In his sleep he had seen fleeting visions of forms and faces like his reflection in a pool-like, yet unlike; soft, curving outlines, tinted cheeks, eyes that beamed, and white, caressing hands appeared and disappeared -- fragmentary and illusive. He could not distinctly remember them when he wakened, but their influence made him strangely happy, strangely miserable; and while the mood lasted he could not hunt and kill.
Standing knee-deep in a shallow pool on the beach, staring at him with wide-open dark eyes, was the creature that had screamed -- a living, breathing embodiment of the curves and color, the softness, brightness, and gentle sweetness that his subconsciousness knew. There were the familiar eyes, dark and limpid, wondering but not frightened; two white little teeth showing between parted lips; a wealth of long brown hair held back from the forehead by a small hand; and a rounded, dimpled cheek, the damask shading of which merged delicately into the olive tint that extended to the feet. To Venus ever arose from the sea with rarer lines of beauty than were combined in the picture of loveliness which, backed by the blue of the lagoon, appeared to the astonished eyes of this wild boy. It was a girl -- naked as Mother Eve, and as innocently shameless.
In the first confusion of his faculties, when habit and inherent propensity conflicted, habit dominated his mind. He was a huntsman -- feared and avoided: here was an intruder. He raised his hatchet to throw, but a second impulse brought it slowly down; she had shown no fear -- no appreciation of what the gesture threatened. Dropping the weapon to the ground, he advanced slowly, the wonder in his face giving way to a delighted smile, and she came out of the pool to meet him.
Face to face they looked into each other's eyes -- long and earnestly; then, as though the scrutiny brought approval, the pretty features of the girl sweetened to a smile, but she did not speak nor attempt to. Stepping past him, she looked back, still smiling, balled until he followed, and then led him up to the wall, where, on a level with the ground, was a hollow in the formation, somewhat similar to his cave, but larger. Flowering vines grew at the entrance, which had prevented his seeing it before. She entered, and emerged immediately with a lifebuoy, which she held before him, the action and smiling face indicating her desire that he admire it.
The boy thought that he saw his property in the possession of another creature and resented the spoliation. With an angry snarl he snatched the lifebuoy and backed away, while the girl, surprised and a little indignant, followed with extended hands. He raised it threateningly, and though she did not cower, she knew intuitively that he was angry, and feeling the injustice, burst into tears; then, turning from him, she covered her eyes with her hands and crouched to the ground, sobbing piteously.
The face of the boy softened. He looked from the weeping girl to the life-buoy and back again; then, puzzled, still believing it to be his own -- he obeyed a generous impulse. Advancing, he laid the treasure at her feet; but she turned away. Sober-faced and irresolute, not knowing what to do, he looked around and above. A pigeon fluttered on a branch at the edge of the wood. He whipped out his sling, loaded it, and sent a stone whizzing upward. The pigeon fell, and he was beneath it before it reached the ground. Hurrying back with the dead bird, he placed it before her; but she shuddered in disgust and would not touch it. Off in the lagoon a misguided shark was swimming slowly along, its dorsal fin cutting the surface -- a full two hundred yards from the beach. He ran to the water's edge, looked back once, flourished his sling, and two seconds later the shark was scudding for the reef. If she had seen, she evidently was not impressed. He returned, picked up his tomahawk on the way, idly and nervously fingered the pebbles in his pocket, stood a moment over the sulky girl, and then studied the lifebuoy on the ground. A light came to his eyes; with a final glance at the girl he bounded up the slope and disappeared in the woods.
Three hours later he returned with his discarded fetish, and found her sitting upright, with her lifebuoy on her knees. She smiled gladly as he approached, then pouted, as though remembering. Panting from his exertion, he humbly placed the faded, scarred, and misshapen ring on top of the brighter, better-cared-for possession of the girl, and stood, mutely pleading for pardon. It was granted. Smiling radiantly -- a little roguishly, -- she arose and led him again to the cave, from which she brought forth another treasure. It was a billet of wood, a dead branch, worn smooth at the ends -- around which were wrapped faded, half-rotten rags of calico. Hugging it for a moment, she handed it to him. He looked at it wonderingly and let it drop, turning his eyes upon her; then, with impatience in her face, she reclaimed it, entered the cave -- the boy following, and tenderly placed it in a corner.
It was her doll. Up to the borders of womanhood untutored, unloved waif of the woods -- living through the years of her simple existence alone -- she had lavished the instinctive mother-love of her heart on a stick, and had clothed it, though not herself.
With a thoughtful little wrinkle in her brow, she studied the face of this new companion who acted so strangely, and he, equally mystified, looked around the cave. A pile of nuts in a corner indicated her housewifely thrift and forethought. A bed of dry moss with an evenly packed elevation at the end -- which could be nothing but a pillow -- showed plainly the manner in which she had preserved the velvety softness of her skin. Tinted shells and strips of faded calico, arranged with some approach to harmony of color around the sides and the border of the floor, gave evidence of the tutelage of the bower-birds, of which there were many in the vicinity. And the vines at the entrance had surely been planted-they were far from others of the kind. In her own way she had developed as fully as he. As he stood there, wondering at what he saw, the girl approached, slowly and irresolutely; then, raising her hand, she softly pressed the tip of her finger into his shoulder.
In the dim and misty ages of the past, when wandering bands of ape-like human beings had not developed their tribal customs to the level of priestly ceremonies, -- when the medicine-man had not arisen, -- a marriage between a man and young woman was generally consummated by the man beating the girl into insensibility, and dragging her by the hair to his cave. Added to its simplicity, the custom had the merit of improving the race, as unhealthy and ill-favored girls were not pursued, and similar men were clubbed out of the pursuit by stronger. But the process was necessarily painful to the loved one, and her female children very naturally inherited a repugnance to being wooed.
When a civilized young lady, clothed and well conducted, anticipates being kissed or embraced by her lover, she places in the why such difficulties as are in her power; she gets behind tables and chairs, runs from him, compels him to pursue, and expects him to. In her maidenly heart she may want to be kissed, but she cannot help resisting. She obeys the same instinct that impelled this wild girl to spring from the out-stretched arms of the boy and go screaming out of the cave and down the beach in simulated terror -- an instinct inherited from the prehistoric mother, who fled for dear life and a whole skin from a man behind armed with a club and bent upon marriage.
Shouting hoarsely, the boy followed, in what, if he had been called upon to classify it, might have seemed to him a fury of rage, but it was not. He would not have harmed the girl, for he lacked the tribal education that induces cruelty to the weaker sex. But he did not catch her; he stubbed his toe and fell, arising with a bruised kneecap which prevented further pursuit. Slowly, painfully, he limped back, tears welling in his eyes and increasing to a copious-flood as he sat down with his back to the girl and nursed his aching knee. It was not the pain that brought the tears; he was hardened to physical suffering. But his feelings had been hurt beyond any disappointment of the hunt or terror of the storm, and for the first time in his life since his babyhood he wept -- like the intellectual child that he was.
A soft, caressing touch on his head aroused him and brought him to his feet. She stood beside him, tears in her own eyes, and sympathy overflowing in every feature of the sweet face. From her lips came little cooing, gurgling sounds which he endeavored to repeat. It was their first attempt at communication, and the sounds that they used understood by mothers and infants of all races -- were the first root -- words of a new language. He extended his arms, and though she held back slightly, while a faint smile responded to his own, she did not resist, and he drew her close -- forgetting his pain as he pressed his lips to hers.
Considering the fact that they had never seen each other until the preceding afternoon, and the time of day now about dawn -- their attitude was decidedly unconventional. They stood, side by side, with arms entwined-, while they gazed across the quiet lagoon and over the barrier reef at a strange object on the western horizon. Behind them was a rising wooded slope extending to the ridge of the island. To the left was wild country, unknown to the girl, known only to the boy from hunting trips; to the right, a limestone ledge, extending into the lagoon as a point, and impassable except inland at the ridge, or backbone. In this cliff was a flower-and-vine bordered cave, the home of the girl, where she had lived alone since infancy. It was decorated with strips of rotten rags; in one corner was a bed of moss, and in another a pile of nuts-for she was a vegetarian, never having discovered fire nor tasted of animal food. In still another corner was her dearest treasure, next to her new-found companion -- a well-worn billet of wood wrapped in rags -- her doll.
Three Laws and the Golden Rule
Beside them where they stood was a fresh-water pool, fed by a spray-like cascade from the ledge, and near it lay two life-buoys, one well kept, its ship's name legible, the other falling to pieces, its printing nearly obliterated by time, wind, and sun. The first was the property of the girl, the last of the boy.
On the other side of the ledge was another cave, barren of ornamentation -- the home of the boy -- and other sprinkling cascades. Beyond was the sparsely wooded and sandy end of the island where he had lived his lonely life and worked out his development -- where he had discovered fire and learned the taste of animal food, found flints and learned their uses, and from which he had driven all game, when hunger sent him across the ledge in quest of it. He had found it, also the girl. They had met and mated, but not married; for marriage was unknown to them. They had no language except the language of the eyes and of gesture. But they had already acquired a vocabulary of two words, Oolah, the name he had given her, and Ummah, the name she had bestowed upon him.
Shipwrecked in infancy, a few months apart, to drift ashore in life-buoys at different sides of the point, they had grown to adolescence as human animals -- children of Nature.
Insane? No, for insanity is a breaking down of built-up conditions. Idiots? No, for idiocy implies degeneracy, and each was normal. They were intelligent, for they had studied and thought, though without words. Ugly, misshapen, malformed? No, they had lived in the open air in a warm climate, had missed the evils of civilization, had eaten lightly, breathed deeply, and exercised.
The boy was about twenty, tanned from head to foot to the color of old copper, but whose Caucasian ancestry was indicated by his blue eyes and his fair hair, that reached to his shoulders. The girl was a year or so younger, whiter of skin, but darker of hair. There was a wealth of it, reaching to her waist. They were physically perfect, the realization of an artist's dream, and their raiment was as unconventional as their attitude.
The boy wore a leather girdle that supported a pouch containing pebbles, a sling, and a flint knife while in his hand was a heavy stone tomahawk. The girl wore nothing but a look of amazement, curiosity, and concern; for she was gravely regarding the strange object on the horizon, the like of which she had never seen in her seventeen years of lonely sojourn on the far-away island. It was a schooner, closehauled on the starboard tack, beating toward the barrier against the faint, easterly breeze.
The boy was equally interested, but, being more experienced in invention and discovery, was less alarmed, and when the schooner, evidently seeking an inlet, put about and headed south on the other tack, he turned his gaze on the girl, a more attractive object, and closer.
"Oolah," he said, tenderly.
"Ummah," she answered, smiling at him.
They could get no further, though waves of emotion flitted across the face of the boy, seeking expressions; then, his emotions crystallizing, his face, like that of a girl, assumed the one solely human expression -- the acme of them all -- and he joined the girl in smiling. Face to face they stood for a few moments, smiling into each other's eyes; and, though there may not have been communication in their smiles, there was community of thought. The smile of the human countenance is indicative of pleasure, its anticipation, or its memory, and, like the expressions of anger, grief, and other basic emotions, is founded upon ancestral habit. It has even been asserted that the smile is the lingering remnant of a habit well established in the primordial days when the struggle for life was severe, when the only pleasure was that of eating, when the ape-like ancestor who could get his mouth open quickest was the one to first close it on food, and by so doing surviving the struggle and transmit his habit to his descendants, to evolve in time into the smile. There is reason in the assertion: a hungry man's mouth will open -- as well as water -- at the sight of food; a quiet child becomes boisterous at the table, and, if housed, clothed, cared for, and protected, lovely woman is never so smilingly lovely as when receiving an invitation to eat even though she decline it. Be that as it may, this wild girl, still smiling, left the boy and entered her cave. The boy, also smiling, followed in a moment and found her seated in the corner, holding her doll with one hand, and eating nuts with the other. It was breakfast time -- time to eat.
He advanced to share the meal with her, and reached down toward the pile of nuts. But before he touched it, she dropped her handful, sprang to her feet, her smile replaced by a look of anger, and, with both hands on his shoulders, pushed him away from her food supply. His face stiffened. He raised that murderous stone hatchet, and in a second more might have brained her, to spend the rest of his life in dumb grief -- for, being human, he would not have forgotten but she was too quick. Raising her wooden doll, she brought it crashing down on his head. It was of about the size, weight, and potency of a rolling pin, and, while the blow did not knock him unconscious, yet it sent him staggering backward out of the cave, where he sat down and wept, while the girl calmly resumed her interrupted meal.
The instinct of property rights may be designated as the Third Law of Nature, as, both in human and brute creation, it is so strong as to often dominate the Second Law, which is Reproduction of the Species, and the First, which is Self- Preservation. It is more ancient than the smile, or it would not assert itself among animals that have not developed the smile. It is powerful and almost universal. Nearly every living creature has something which it considers its own, even though it be but a hole in the ground. A male canary will feed its nesting mate lovingly while she remains on the nest, but will drive her away from the seed cup -- his property -- if she attempts to feed herself. A dog will fight to the death over a dry and exhausted bone, or cache it and forget the hiding-place. A cat knows her home, and knows that it belongs to her. She owns her favorite corner by the fire, the softest cushion in the house, the lap of her mistress, and even the stomach of her master, returning again and again if driven away from her resting spots. A child owns its toys and resents their replevin by the parents who provided them. Many a miser has died under torture rather than reveal the whereabouts of his treasure. A millionaire, with one or both of his feet in the grave, will toil on to the last, acquiring millions that he can never enjoy. The most moral of women own their husbands, and will rifle their pockets as readily as they would nurse them while ill.
This ownership finds legal expression in dower right and alimony -- denied to the male of the species. And perhaps Ummah instinctively recognized this limitation of Property Rights, for when his tears had dried, he sought a soft shady spot -- the sun having arisen -- where he lay down to nurse a splitting headache; and Oolah, when she had finished her breakfast, went out to look for him with a smile on her pretty face that might have indicated her confidence in the integrity of her position. She had certainly and efficiently defended her property.
"Ummah," she called; then, spying him where he lay, she approached, still smiling.
"Oolah," he answered, sitting up, but not smiling. Not only his aching head but his mental state prevented it. His feelings were hurt, as well as his head. He, a huntsman who had never been conquered, who had been feared and avoided by all creatures that had come in contact with him, who had claimed as his own all land upon which he had placed his feet, who had even found and claimed as his own this attractive girl -- was facing a problem that he could not solve by his code of ethics nor by his experience. The girl was his property: he had found her. Why were not the nuts? He had found them, too.
He sank back when he saw that she had left her weapon behind her, and the girl smiled down on him until she noticed his moody, puzzled, and averted face. Then her smile left her and her face lighted with an idea and she ran quickly back to the cave, returning at once with her two hands full of nuts, which she offered him. But she had knocked his appetite out of him, and he refused to touch them, again turning his face away from her.
It is hardly possible that she had the slightest conception of the Golden Rule, for it is not congenital. It must be taught, and she had been taught nothing. The harmless wild beasts and birds of the island bad. avoided her; she had never been harmed, nor inflicted pain before. But she possessed an instinctive idea of generosity and justice, and as she dropped the nuts by his side, her eyes filled with tears; then, sobbing piteously, she sank down beside him. The boy turned his head and looked at her, his own eyes filling, and he spoke her name, which she answered with his. Then they wept together, mutely expressing the emotions for which they had no speech, and it had the usual effect; it relieved the headache of the boy and the grief of the girl. But still he would not touch the nuts, and after a few attempts to induce him, she rose to her feet and again went to the cave, returning this time with her treasure -- her beloved doll.
It was too much. Even though she held it out to him with both hands, he could not see that it was a peace offering; he only recognized the club with which she had struck him, and with an inarticulate snarl of rage, he sprang up, snatched the precious thing from her hands, and sent it whirling, far into the lagoon. It landed close to the dorsal fin of a man-eater, who scurried away a few hundred yards, then cautiously returned.
With a wild scream of outraged maternity the girl followed, and waded into the lagoon until up to her waist, then swam toward her darling doll. The boy followed slowly, his anger oozing out of him, but being replaced by another emotion that he had never felt before -- jealousy. He was uneasy that she should be so deeply concerned over this worthless club -- better ones than which he could find anywhere -- as, first to bit him with it, then to follow it into the water. Neither of them had any knowledge of the menace beneath that creeping dorsal fin; neither had ever seen a shark in action. But the boy had felt from the beginning an intuitive hatred and fear of sharks, and since he had been able to throw stones, had made targets of their fins, to the result that they avoided the beach. This one must have been an undisciplined newcomer. It approached the doll at about the same speed as that of the swimming girl, who screamed occasionally, but not in fear, only in anger at the intrusion of the big fish.
The boy on the beach thoughtfully felt of the bump on his head, then from a desire to impress her, acted rightly. He wanted to prove his superiority to that inanimate stick of wood; so, loading his sling, he flourished it, and sent a stone whizzing over the head of the girl to hit the doll and knock it out of water. She certainly was impressed, but not favorably. She looked back, angrily, and. screamed, now at him. He loaded his sling again, and might have sent the next stone at her head, had he not learned that every living creature that he struck on the head gave him no further attention. So, that next stone bit the dorsal fin, and as she did not scream back at him, he sent another, and another, each hitting the fin, to the end that before the girl had reached her doll the shark was halfway to the reef.
The girl swam back and waded ashore, smiling again happy in the possession of her pet, but perhaps not impressed by the marksmanship of the boy; for she passed dignifiedly by him, entered the cave, placed the doll in its corner, and returned to the entrance, where the boy had followed her and stepped.
They gravely regarded each other. Each had made a step forward in mental progress. He had learned that he must not touch her nuts, nor, ill-treat that stick of wood; she had learned that he did not like her doll, and believed that he did not like nuts. Still unsmiling, they drew near each other, and the boy gently enfolded her in his arms, kissing her on the lips, cheek, and brow. It was the outward expression of the inward lesson-their first dim conception of the basic principle of all religion, and every code of morals, the Golden Rule.
But the Golden Rule is not a law of nature, and is usually subordinate to any of the three, if they are active. In the case of the girl, though, all were satisfied and quiescent. Her life was not in danger, and she had recently breakfasted; she loved and was loved, with no rival to harass her; and her property was intact.
But the boy, however, immune, like the girl, from the Second and Third Laws, was yet troubled by the First. His headache was about gone, and he was getting hungry. There was an embargo on that pile of nuts which he did not now care to break, and which had no connection with its proximity to a bard and heavy club. He could still eat and thrive on nuts if necessary, but he knew of better food, to he had for the hunting.
Leaving the girl, he strode into the woods, and she, with a little incoherent cry of protest, followed, until she saw him whirl his sling and bring down a pigeon from the branch of a tree. Then she halted, and with a look of horror and disgust on her face watched him pass smilingly back to the beach, where he plucked and dressed the fowl, using his flint knife to split it for broiling. But feminine curiosity brought her to his side, and she stood over him, watching with interest the strange proceeding, but displaying no approval. The next step was to build a fire, and, followed by the wondering girl, he again entered the woods, and returned with an armful of dead branches, which he broke into lengths with his tomahawk, and kindled into flame with dry moss and sparks from his flint knife and a pebble. He had discovered fire years before, and had learned its value in improving the taste of food; but it was only after repeated glances into the wideopen eyes of the girl that he was finally assured that she knew nothing about it.
He had impressed her at last, and, smiling proudly, he poked and prodded the sticks so that they would burn equally, while the girl watched the wondrous sight -- to her, what it had once been to him, something alive, strange but beautiful, something which ate sticks. Frightened at first, then reassured by his confident smile, she approached, just as the last blazing stick had crumbled to embers, and raised one small foot to put it down on the dying animal and feel of it. But, with a warning yell, he caught her by the ankle just in time, and in the effort to save her from a had burn, exerted too much strength and sent her sprawling on her back, safe from the fire, but angry at the assault. She arose, and not understanding the look of mixed concern and relief on his face, she went to her cave, while he went to the beach for the split fowl, which he left soaking in the salt water a trick in cookery by which some civilized chefs could profit. Then he broiled it on the coals, and as it was a task requiring all his attention, he paid none to the girl. Curiosity, however and perhaps the unknown but savory odor of broiled pigeon -- brought her again to his side, just as the fowl was cooked. But she had not come with her weapon of defense, and he divided the meal which bore no resemblance to the dead or living bird -- offering her half. She held it in her hand while he gnawed into his own portion; then, understanding that it was something to eat, took a cautious nibble. A delighted smile came to her face as she tasted it; the next nibble was a bite, and, though she finished after the hungry boy, perhaps it was only the previous breakfast of nuts that prevented her from mutely asking for more. For she went after wood. and replenished the fire, burning her hand slightly -- just enough to teach her the lesson -- and kept the strange and beautiful thing alive with the food that it liked, while the boy, as was his habit after eating, sought the shade again and went to sleep.
He was aroused by Oolah's clutch on his arm and her scream in his ear. Jumping to his feet with a protective arm around the girl, he looked for the cause of her alarm -- first at the fire, the only thing he knew of that could hurt her. Except for a few vapory wisps of smoke, it was dead. Then he followed her gaze to the lagoon. A large war canoe, paddled by thick-lipped, long-eared, semi-naked blacks, was approaching the beach from behind the point. Uncouth and ugly though they were, they had attained a higher civilization than had the boy and the girl; for they possessed language -- they gibbered as they approached; they possessed a canoe and could handle it; and they seemed to know where they were, what they wanted, and where they were going.
Yet the boy instinctively recognized them as enemies. He looked for his tomahawk; it was gone. He reached into his pouch, finding only the pebbles; his flint knife and sling had disappeared. He was defenseless, and though they assuredly were his own kind -- as distinct from the animals that he knew -- he glared menacingly at them while he drew the girl closer to his side.
There are no lies in the language of eyes, and these savages accepted the challenge. Yelling strange words, they grounded their canoe and rushed toward the pair, flourishing heavy wooden swords, spears, and clubs. The girl ran screaming to her cave, while the boy met the charge with two pebbles from his pouch, which felled two blacks; but before he could throw a third he himself was overcome, hurled to the ground, and bound hand and foot with leather thongs. Then they followed the girl, peered in, and finding no outlet but the entrance, left her under guard and returned to the canoe, from which they removed several empty gourds, and filled them at the cascade. This was evidently their object in visiting the beach.
That there was also a shortage of food was evidenced by some crouching in a circle around the boy, regarding him hungrily, while others returned to the cave, to as hungrily inspect the cowering girl. But there was disagreement, no doubt, as to which would be eaten first; for, with the forethought of cattlemen, cooks, and cannibals, they carried the half-conscious Ummah up out of the hot sun and into the cool cave, where they left him to get into good condition, while they squatted outside and deliberated.
No one but a sailor ties a knot that will not slip; and though Ummah was tightly fettered by turn after turn of leather, no sooner had the guards without the cave joined the dispute than the ends of the thongs yielded to the deft fingers of Oolah, and he arose to his feet, bruised and numb from the blows he had received, "but still unconquered. As he stretched his aching limbs, the girl, anxious and doubtful of face, approached him with his weapons -- his tomahawk, knife, and sling -- which she had just dug from under her pile of nuts. He took them, and first assuring himself that his supply of pebbles was still in his pouch, stepped to the entrance.
His appearance was bailed by shouts of anger and surprise. The blacks arose, and charged as before; but this time they were met by an opponent superior to any two of them in physical strength, and fully armed with weapons he was accustomed to. The first savage to come within the radius of that circling stone tomahawk crumpled like a limp rag doll and fell; the next sprawled over his body -- both dead. Then the others fled to their canoe, but not all reached it. Stone after stone, sent by that whirling sling, bounced off their thick skulls and went whizzing into the air; and each victim fell to the ground, some to remain quiet, a few to crawl painfully to the canoe and climb in before the frantic survivors had launched it. But the bombardment continued while they paddled away, several more dropping at their paddles, and only when they were out of sight behind the point did Ummah cease. There were seven dead or dying on the beach, and but three erect in the canoe. He dragged the seven in the lagoon and left the tide to carry away.
Then, panting from his efforts, the successful defender of home and fireside sat down on the sand and rested, while he watched the slow approach from the southward of the schooner seen that morning -- which had found the inlet and was creeping up the lagoon on the faint land breeze. But he felt no alarm at the new visitation; he had conquered, as always, and could conquer again. Oolah approached him, smiling sweetly, approvingly, yet a little fearfully; but, though he glanced once at her face, he gave her no answering smile. Nor did he respond when she softly uttered his name. He sat, staring at the approaching schooner, with a troubling thought -- if his mental processes could be called thought -- that not even his strong self-confidence would down. He had memory and reason, and he knew that his weapons could not of their own volition have left his pouch while he slept. Oolah had taken them -- but why? And why, having taken them, did she see fit to return them later? Without knowing it, he was considering a problem never yet solved by the husband of civilization, who finds on his way to work money that he had missed when dressing. His mind state was a jumble of the Three Laws of Nature plus his new-born conception of the Golden Rule.
As for Oolah, she sat beside him, calling his name occasionally, and only indicating by the wistfulness in her face that she felt what she could not understand -- that something was wrong. She had not taken the commonplace pebbles, worthless because plentiful everywhere; she had only taken what was new to her, and valuable, and her own as was this strong companion -- the knife, the sling, and the tomahawk. She could not by any explanation or action help him in his problem. And so they sat there, while the afternoon shadows lengthened, and the schooner, meeting a slant of wind from seaward, gathered better headway; then they both became conscious of hunger.
Rising at last, Oolah left him to do her part, as she understood it; she gathered sticks from the woods. He followed and helped her, then kindled the fire and brought down another pigeon, which he plucked and dressed as before, while she watched and prodded the beautiful fire the strange, living creature that devoured sticks of wood.
Ummah had not spoken to her since early morning, and before the blazing sticks were reduced to embers, she went to her cave and returned with her doll, joining him as he came up from the beach with the split pigeon.
"Ummah," she said, pleadingly, and tossed her treasure into the fire.
He looked at her, saw tears starting to her eyes, hesitated a moment, then rescued the doll from the flames, burning his hands while brushing off the blazing rags.
"Oolah," he replied, as he handed it to her. Then he offered her his knife, his sling, and his tomahawk. But she pushed back the proffered gifts, as she smiled through the tears and caressed her unclothed doll.
The Golden Rule had won, and the Three Laws were in abeyance.
Then the bark of a gun and the splash of an anchor came from the lagoon; and, looking, they beheld the schooner sagging back on her cable with head sails down. She was a missionary craft, with a boat already in the water, filling with men.
BACK TO COVER PAGE
BACK TO INDEX
Comments/report typos to
Visit our thousands of other sites at:
BILL & SUE-ON HILLMAN ECLECTIC STUDIO
ERB Text, ERB Images and Tarzan® are ©Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc.- All Rights Reserved.
All other Original Work ©1996-2007 by Bill Hillman and/or Contributing Authors/Owners
No part of this web site may be reproduced without permission from the respective owners.