With a roar, the apemen charged.
Back in the dim dawn of civilization
Anak the Hunter stands in his might
before the encroaching Neanderthal
B. C. 30,000
By Capt. S. P. Meek
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
shrilled as she
held the fragment
Uglik dropped the thigh bone
from which he had been ripping
the meat in huge chunks. He took
the liver from Esle and examined
"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
"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
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
"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
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
"Is the Father satisfied with the
Chief Hunter?" he asked ceremoniously.
"The Father is," replied Uglik in
"Then the Chief Hunter has a
boon to ask."
"I desire that maiden, Una, be
given to me."
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
"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,"
"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
Uglik's face flushed at the hunter's
"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
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
"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
"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
"What think you?" he demanded
"It is the mark of man, yet not
of our tribe," replied the Chief
Hunter. "Such marks have I never
"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
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
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
prostrate monster 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
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
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
"Who am I to tell his Priestess
whom Degar Astok loves?" he
asked. "You are his voice and
"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
"You desire the maiden, Una?"
"And if I do?"
"You are not to have her. Uglik
will never grant your request. Already
he plans to make her the
High Priestess, should an accident
happen to me."
Anak started. If Esle spoke the
truth, it ended his chances of having Una.
All women were tabu to
all save the Father, but the High
Priestess was doubly sacred.
"What am I to do?" he demanded.
Esle smiled slyly.
"I was the Voice of the God
before Uglik was Father," she said
in a low voice, "and I would be
so after he is gone. Cry you rannag
on him. I know many things, and
I will cast a spell on him so that
victory will be easy for you. Then
will you be Father. The maiden
Una will be yours, and old Esle
will remain the High Priestess."
"To give me false counsel as
you have Uglik, and in time to
plot my overthrow and death with
another," said Anak sternly. "No,
woman or devil, whichever you are,
I want no help of yours. If I ever
cry rannag on Uglik, I will defeat
him by my strength or not at all.
If I win to be Father, be assured
that an 'accident' will happen to
Esle frothed at the mouth
"You shall never have the
maiden!" she screamed. "Rather
will I kill her than that you shall
have her. It was in my mind to
make you Chief and to lead you
from this trap that Uglik had
brought you into, but you have
sealed your doom and hers. I go to
prepare a curse."
She turned to depart, but Anak
grasped her by the arm.
"Listen, woman," he said sternly
as he raised his spear, "it is in my
mind to kill you and make an end
of your evil plottings."
"Spare me! Spare me, noble
Anak!" shrieked the hag, dropping
to her knees as the flint point of
Anak's spear hovered over her. "I
will not harm her nor you, either.
I will soften Uglik's heart toward
you and make him give you the
maiden. I will declare it is the
will of the God."
Anak lowered the spear.
"As long as Una is safe, your life
is spared," he said grimly; "but
pray to Degar Astok to keep her
safe. Should any harm befall her,
your life will answer for it."
"I will weave spells to guard her
from harm, Anak," she cried eagerly.
"Only let me live, brave hunter!"
Anak spurned her contemptuously
from him. The hag scuttled
away and took the path into the
woods which Uglik had taken
earlier. Later in the day she returned
with the Father. Uglik announced
briefly that it was the will
of Degar Astok that they remain
at their present camping place.
Then began a time of horror
for the children of the tribe.
If one of them strayed for even a
short distance from the circle of
the camp fire at night, there came
a scream from the darkness and the
tribe would mourn another lost
member. The tales of man-eating
giants and ogres which even yet
haunt the dreams of childhood have
descended to us through the ages
from those grim times when the
race of men learned the lesson of
fear of the dark that they are now
slowly and painfully unlearning.
Anak did not renew his request
for Una. He knew from her smiles
that the maiden was more than
willing to become his property, but
in the face of their daily peril, he
was not willing to precipitate a
crisis which might easily cost the
tribe most or all of their few remaining
warriors. He kept a sharp
watch on Esle and on Uglik, but
neither the High Priestess nor the
Father seemed to notice the girl.
As time went on, the Neanderthalers
lost their fear of the fire
and grew bolder. Their gray shapes
could be seen prowling around at
night, just outside the protecting
circle of light. The climax came at
last. There was a scream in the
night. A howl of triumph came
from the darkness. The quickly
aroused hunters could see nothing
at which to cast their spears.
"Who is missing?" demanded
Uglik as the hunters returned
"The maiden, Una," cried Esle
Anak rushed at her, spear in
"Unsay those words, hag of evil
omen!" he roared. "Where have you
"Ask of the cousins of Gumor,"
she replied as she ducked behind
the protecting frame of Uglik.
"They have taken her from us."
Anak dropped his spear and
buried his face in his hands. When
he raised his head again, resolution
showed in his handsome face.
"Prepare spears and throwing-stones,"
he cried. "To-morrow we
attack the cousins of Gumor. Either
they or we shall be no more when
the night falls again."
A murmur of dissent went around
the camp. Uglik sprang to his feet.
"What means the Chief Hunter
of the tribe of Ugar?" he demanded.
"I mean that to-morrow we settle
for all time who rules in this valley,
the tribe of Ugar or the
cousins of Gumor."
"And has the Father no voice in
the council of the tribe?"
"We have come to the end," replied
Anak. "If we do not strike
now, soon we will be too weak to
strike. To-morrow we attack!"
"I am Father of the tribe of
Ugar," replied Uglik with a dangerous
note in his voice. "No one
gives orders here except me. On
you, Anak, the Chief Hunter that
was, I place the word of death!
The hunters raised their spears
doubtfully. Anak raised his, ready
to cast it at Uglik. Before a blow
could be struck, a figure sprang
across the fire and took a stand,
back to back with Anak.
"Who strikes my friend, strikes
me!" cried Invar.
Uglik gave a gasp at this fresh
defection from his authority.
He roared to the hunters to strike.
The three hunters remaining to the
tribe advanced half-heartedly. None
of them cared to face Anak; and
Invar, young as he was, had already
proven himself a mighty warrior.
Uglik shouldered them aside with
a roar of wrath. Before he could
attack, Anak's cry stopped him.
"Hold, Uglik!" cried the Chief
Hunter. "If you attack, the tribe
will lose most or all of its hunters.
You have put the death word on
me, as is your right. I go now
against the cousins of Gumor, and
that, I think, is death. Let me go
in peace and with weapons. Before
they tear me limb from limb, at
least one of them will not be alive."
"And I go with Anak!" cried
Invar. "More than one of the cousins
of Gumor will know that the
Chief Hunter of the tribe of Ugar
and his friend have visited their
Uglik paused. No trace of fear
entered his heart, but the wily politician
saw the force of Anak's argument.
He would gain doubly by
the course that the hunter had
"Go in peace, and with weapons,"
he said as he lowered his spear.
"Esle will take your weapons and
make spells over them that will increase
their might. At dawn you
shall go. The word of death is on
you, so come not back to the tribe
again. Once you leave the camp,
you are outlaw."
"So be it!" replied Anak.
Shortly before the dawn, Esle
crept to Anak's side.
"I've wrought spells over your
weapons, Chief Hunter," she said
softly, "and over those of your
companion. Remember this when
the cousins of Gumor attack you."
"I will, hag of evil," said Anak
grimly. "Better will it be for you
that we never return."
"Why leave?" came Esle's insinuating
voice. "I am still ready to
help you. Cry rannag on Uglik in
the morning. Your weapons have
had my attention and his have not.
That alone would decide the fight.
Slay him and the warriors of the
tribe will fight at your back. I
know spells, and mayhap, they will
prevail even against the cousins of
"I go but for vengeance, Esle,"
said Anak wearily. "With Una
gone, I have no desire to live."
"There are other maidens who
are fair, Anak, and when you are
Father you will have them all."
"Leave me, Esle," said Anak
shortly. "I desire none but Una."
"And may the cousins of Gumor
crack your bones between their
teeth," she hissed venomously as
she slipped away into the darkness.
As the sun rose above the
horizon, Anak and Invar took
their way up the valley. Each carried
three flint-tipped throwing-spears,
while a good supply of flint
throwing-stones were in their skin
pouches. Half a mile from camp,
Anak turned to his companion.
"I thank you for coming with
me," he said, his hand on Invar's
shoulder. "It is the deed of a brave
Invar flushed and looked down.
"The least that I can do is to go
to Degar Astok with my friend,"
"It is the deed of a brave man,
yet I think we are not yet ripe to
"We go against the cousins of
Gumor, do we not?" asked the lad.
"And is that not death?"
"Mayhap, and yet, I have a plan.
We may live."
"How can we two expect to do
what all the tribe of Ugar dare not
"The tribe of Ugar, or a dozen
tribes of Ugar, could not conquer
with Uglik leading them," replied
Anak, "yet we two may do so. Hark
now to my plan. Like Gumor, the
gray ape, his cousins walk ever
with their eyes cast down. While
we have been hunting, I have been
spying on them in their home.
Never have I seen one look up,
and it may be that they cannot.
Above or on a level with us, they
can easily kill us. If we stand on
the rocks above them, they cannot
see us and will be at our mercy.
They can run as fast as we on level
ground, but going uphill, we will
leave them as Guno, the deer, leaves
Kena. They are few in number; I
have watched and seen but two
hunters and three females. It is
my plan to scale the cliffs and
watch them below us. When the
time is ripe, we will launch our
throwing-spears. If we fail to make
a kill, we will bound up the hill
and escape to strike again."
Invar looked with admiration at
his leader. The habit of connected
thought and reasoning was new in
the world in those days. Such boldness
of conception as was shown by
Anak's plan was a thing for marvel.
As the ramifications of the plan
seeped into Invar's brain, his face
glowed with enthusiasm.
"Anak should be Father of the
tribe of Ugar!" he cried.
"That may yet come to pass," replied
Anak enigmatically. "If I kill
Uglik, however, it will be to avenge
Una, not to win the chieftainship.
Now keep silence, for here is the
home of the cousins of Gumor."
Cautiously the two hunters
passed the mouth of the ravine
and climbed the slopes of the valley.
Once on the level ground, they
moved to the edge of the ravine
and looked down into it. Nothing
could be seen moving. Anak led
the way a hundred yards farther
up the ravine.
"Below us is a cave where dwell
two," he whispered. "Make ready
your spear while I sound the challenge."
He raised his voice in a wild
howl of challenge. For a moment
there was silence. Then from the
ravine came a hoarse rumbling bellow.
An enormous male made his
appearance, his mane and beard
bristling with rage. He darted his
eyes hither and thither, seeking
the source of the challenge. Again
a hoarse roar came from his broad,
thick lips. As it rose to a crescendo,
Anak hurled his spear.
His aim was true. The point
struck the Neanderthaler at the
junction of his neck and shoulder.
As it struck, the haft flew from
the spear and bounded down the
slope. The first point made only a
The apeman roared with pain and
rage. Still he did not see his enemies.
With careful aim, Invar
launched his weapon. The stone-tipped
spear struck the giant's
groin, but the haft broke and the
head was barely buried in the flesh.
The Neanderthaler pricked up his
pointed, lobeless ears, and located
the source of the shout. By bending
back his torso, he looked upward.
With a roar of rage he
started up the slope, a huge flint
smiting-stone grasped in each hairy
Anak and Invar dashed up the
slope ahead of him. The keenness
of the Chief Hunter's powers of
observation was attested by the fact
that they easily increased their distance
from their pursuer. As they
ran, Invar's foot dislodged a boulder
which thundered down the
slope. The Neanderthaler did not
see it coming until it was too late
to dodge. The stone took him full
in the chest and he rolled down
the slope, a shower of smaller stones
going with him.
He smashed against a tree. With
shouts of triumph, Anak and Invar
bounded down the slope. The Neanderthaler
was dying, his chest
crushed in. Invar raised a spear and
drove it at his heart. The weapon
struck fair, but again the head of
the spear came off the shaft. A
sudden thought illuminated Anak's
"Esle!" he cried in rage. "She
had our weapons last night!"
He studied the two spears remaining
in his hand. Each of
them had the hide lashing which
bound the head to the haft cut
through. The weapons were useless.
Invar's face paled. From up the
slope a roar assailed their ears. The
female was rushing down at them,
smiting-stones in hand.
"Fly, Invar!" cried Anak. "Run
up the slope and throw down stones
at her. I will hold her for a moment."
"Invar stays with his friend!"
cried the boy stubbornly as he
gripped his useless throwing-spear.
"Run up the slope!" stormed
Anak. "It is our only chance. Remember
how the male died!"
Slowly the idea penetrated Invar's
brain. With a shout he dashed
away. He circled the oncoming female
and got above her. Anak
hurled one of his crippled spears.
It struck her full in the chest, but
made only a flesh wound as the
handle dropped away. The female
roared with rage and hurled herself
at the hunter. Anak leaped to
one side and ran for dear life.
The clumsy female checked her
rush and turned after him. He
rapidly gained on her. A shout
from above reached him.
"Run to your left, Anak!"
The hunter swerved sharply to
his left. Invar threw his shoulder
against a huge boulder on the slope.
The stone rocked but did not fall.
Again the lad exerted himself until
his muscles cracked under the
strain. The boulder tottered for a
moment and then rolled down the
slope, gathering momentum as it
rolled. It was deflected from the
direct line of the female's attack,
but a smaller stone it dislodged
struck her on the shoulder and
knocked her from her feet.
"More stones, Invar!" cried Anak.
The two exerted themselves and
an avalanche of rocks thundered
down the slope. The female strove
to rise, but she was overwhelmed.
Down the slope rushed the two
hunters, intent on finishing her
with their smiting-stones and
knives. She lay in a twisted heap,
whimpering plaintively. Invar's
knife found her heart, and she sank
"Well struck, Invar!" cried Anak.
"Would that we had spears. Others
of the cousins of Gumor are coming."
Bellowing roars came from higher
up the ravine. The two hunters
bounded back up the slope. Down
the ravine came another female,
followed by a fourteen-year-old
boy. Contemptuous of their assailants,
the hunters betrayed their
whereabouts with shouts. The female
accepted the challenge and
climbed heavily up the slope toward
them, the boy trailing her and aping
her cries with shrill shouts.
The hunters allowed her to approach
to within a few yards before
they threw their combined weight
on a huge mass of rock. The boulder
gave and thundered down the
slope. It brushed past the female but
did not strike her.
"Higher up and try again, Invar!"
cried the Chief Hunter.
They bounded up the slope. Anak
paused and hurled a flint throwing-stone
with deadly aim. It struck the
female a glancing blow on the face,
tearing the flesh from one of the
prominent brow ridges. She stopped,
momentarily blinded. Invar raised
a rock high above his head with
both hands and cast it at her. It
struck her on the chest and she fell
backwards. Again Anak's strategy
was successful and an avalanche of
rolled rocks overwhelmed her. The
boy turned to fly, but the fleet-footed
Invar overtook him and the
knives of the two hunters quickly
put an end to his career.
As they bent over his dead body,
a shrill scream rose on the air. It
was not the voice of an apeman,
or an apewoman, but held a human
quality. The hunters straightened up
and sought the source of it. Again
came the scream. From the mouth of
a cave above them bounded a girl.
She won momentarily to freedom, but
a huge Neanderthal male followed
her from the cave. His hairy arm
seized and dragged her back.
"Una!" cried Invar and Anak in
Forgotten were strategy and
tactics. Anak bounded up the
slope, Invar at his heels. Into the
mouth of the cave they charged.
The huge male dropped the girl
and faced them with a growl. Anak
hurled a throwing-stone, but his
aim was poor. It rebounded harmlessly
from the great arched chest
of the Neanderthaler. With a roar,
the apeman charged.
The hunter sidestepped the rush
and swung his smiting-stone. The
blow was deflected by the upraised
arm of the apeman and fell on his
shoulder. Invar hurled a throwing-stone
which found the monster's
face and made him pause. The apeman
recovered himself and rushed
at the youth. The boy met him,
smiting-stone in hand, but one
swing of the heavier flint broke
through his guard and stretched
him senseless on the floor, blood
flowing from a gash in his head.
Anak hurled another throwing-stone
which caught the apeman on
the back of the head, dazing him.
With a shout, Anak closed. The
effects of the blow had been only
momentary and the Neanderthaler
met his rush with both his stones
swinging. One of them tore a long
gash down Anak's back while the
other laid open his thigh. The apeman
dropped his stones and wound
his long hairy arms about the
hunter's body. Anak threw himself
back and the two rolled on the
floor, the apeman striving to crush
the life out of his slighter opponent,
while Anak smote futilely with
his smiting-stone at the hairy body.
Slowly, the hunter's ribs gave under
the pressure. Spots of fire
danced before his eyes. He strove
valiantly, but his muscles were as
a child's, compared to the enormous
development of his opponent. With
a gasp, his body went limp.
Una had watched the struggle
with horror-stricken eyes. As
the apeman's grip tightened about
Anak's body, she gave a low moan.
Her gaze fell on the discarded
smiting-stones of the Neanderthaler.
She sprang forward and lifted one
in both hands. The apeman threw
back his head to give a roar of
victory. The note never issued from
his throat. The huge flint which he
had chipped patiently to a sharp
edge, struck him on the back of
the head. With a gasp and a convulsive
shudder, the apeman rolled
over, his skull crushed in.
Invar slowly recovered consciousness,
and now sat up. He looked
dully at the dead body of the
Neanderthaler. Beside it, Anak lay
in a pool of blood. He staggered
to his feet, asking dully:
"Is Anak with Degar Astok?"
"Not yet," replied Una. "Help me
to stop the flow of his blood."
"He said there were five of the
cousins of Gumor," said the boy as
he looked around apprehensively.
"We have slain but four."
Una pointed toward the ravine.
"The other lies there," she said.
"This one slew his mate an hour
gone. I think he designed me to
take her place."
Fever took Anak, and for three
days he hovered between life and
death. Then he slept and woke
conscious, although his strength
was badly sapped by the fever.
There was no lack of food, for
game was plentiful and Invar had
found and mended the throwing-spears
which Esle had tampered
with. Slowly Anak recovered his
strength. A month after the fight
he stretched his muscles and announced
himself as well.
"I return to-day to the tribe of
Ugar," he announced.
"Can you return?" asked Invar
doubtfully. "Remember the word of
"That, let Uglik answer," replied
Anak. "In peace or in war, I will
return. Soon the winter will come
and here are warm caves and game
in plenty. Here shall the tribe
make a home."
"Where you go, there go I," exclaimed
"And I likewise," said Una.
"Una will stay here until we return,"
replied Anak in a tone which
brooked no argument.
The girl pouted, but a sharp
word from Anak settled the
matter. Throwing-spear and smiting-stone
in hand, the two hunters
approached the camping place of
Uglik's tribe. They were within a
hundred yards before they were
seen. Esle set up a shrill cry.
"Here come those on whom the
Father passed the death word. Slay,
Anak raised his hand and made
the sign of peace.
"Wait before you attack two such
as we," he said. "We are bearers of
good tidings. By our hands, the
cousins of Gumor have died. Think
you, do you care to attack two
such as we?"
The hunters looked at one another
"He lies!" shrilled Esle.
"We do not lie!" retorted Anak.
"Their bones, picked clear by
Kena, lie in their ravine. We come
in peace to lead you to their home.
There are warm caves and game in
plenty. We will rejoin the tribe if
the Father will remove the death
word. Otherwise, attack us if you
dare, and the tribe of Ugar will
join the cousins of Gumor."
Uglik's face plainly showed hesitation.
"The death word his been
passed," he said doubtfully. "It can
be withdrawn only by a sacrifice
to Degar Astok."
"We two have offered five of the
cousins of Gumor, and a boy. Is
that not enough?"
"It must be a human sacrifice!"
"Then, hag of evil omen, traitor
to Uglik, attempted slayer of Invar
and me, I offer you!" cried
Anak furiously, his spear raised.
"Sacrilege!" she shrilled, darting
behind Uglik. "Slay the defamer of
"What mean these charges,
Anak?" asked Uglik darkly.
"Esle tampered with our spears,
which you ordered her to strengthen
for the battle with the cousins of
Gumor," said Anak. "They broke in
our hands. With only smiting-stones
and knives, we overcame
them. Further, she tried to plot
with me to kill you and take your
"He lies!" cried Esle in a quavering
voice. Uglik turned a black face
"Enough!" he roared. "The
sacrifice is sufficient. I withdraw
the death word. Anak, the
cause of dissension between us is
gone. Rejoin the tribe in peace."
"I bow to the Father," replied
Anak, suiting his action to his
word. "The tribe of Ugar has
gained three members."
"Three?" asked Uglik.
"The maiden, Una, was not slain,
but borne away alive by the cousins
of Gumor. I have rescued her and
she waits in the valley of plenty."
"Then Degar Astok was right
when he told me he should have a
new High Priestess," said Uglik,
licking his lips. "She shall come to
my cave and take the place of that
worn-out hag, Esle."
"She will dwell in mine," said
Anak shortly. "I have taken her for
mine and I will not give her up."
"The word of the Father is the
law of the tribe," said Uglik.
"That is true. I ask that the
maiden whom I have taken in war
be given to me in peace."
"The maiden, Una, dwells in the
Father's cave!" said Uglik.
"Then cry I rannag on you, Uglik,
the Father!" cried Anak. "I
challenge you to the fight to death,
which you may not refuse and
continue to rule."
"And on you I pass the death
word!" shouted Uglik. "Hunters—"
"The Father may not pass the
death word on one who has cried
rannag," retorted Anak. "Such is the
"Such is the law!" echoed the
hunters, glad of an excuse not to
attack the two hunters of whose
prowess they knew so much.
Uglik looked from one group to
"When the sun starts to rest, the
rannag will be fought," he answered.
"When I have slain this
traitor, Una becomes High Priestess.
Hunters, bind the hag, Esle, that
she may not escape. Anak, lead the
way to the valley of plenty."
Packing up was a simple
matter for the tribe of Ugar.
In five minutes they were following
Anak to the valley of the Neanderthalers.
When they arrived,
Uglik picked out the largest of the
caves, and told the hunters to
choose their own. In a few minutes
the tribe was established in their
new home. Esle was released from
her bonds, for it was essential that
the High Priestess of Degar Astok
prepare the ground for the rannag.
Anak and Invar walked slowly
up to the cave where Una waited.
"Uglik is a mighty warrior," said
"So is Anak," was the reply.
"Further, I have a plan."
"Then are Uglik's days numbered,"
replied Invar with delight.
"Tell me what I am to do to aid
"When we get to the cave, you
may cut off my hair and beard."
Invar started back aghast.
"Your strength will go with it,"
he protested. "The glory of the
warrior is his beard."
"I do not believe it," said Anak.
"By cutting it, I will rob Uglik of
a handhold he could use to my
downfall. Fear not, I know what I
With a flint knife, Invar slowly
and painfully hacked off Anak's
long hair and beard. When the
operation was over, Anak smeared
himself plentifully with the fat of
a wild pig which had fallen to one
of Invar's spears the day before.
When he was ready, he threw himself
down to sleep. When he had
dropped off to slumber, Una rose.
She took the liver of the pig from
the back of the cave and approached
"Where go you, Una?" demanded
"I take this to the Father that
he may strengthen himself for the
rannag," she said enigmatically.
"Should not the best be given to
Invar's hand tightened on his
"Minded am I to slay you," he
"And fight to the death with
Anak when he awakens? Listen, oh,
fool, if the Father eats greatly, he
will be slow and Anak may slay
him with ease."
A light of admiration flashed into
"It is well thought," he said.
With a swift glance around,
Una took from her girdle a
tiny skin packet. She opened it and
displayed a brown powder.
"This, Esle gave me," she whispered.
"She said that Uglik had
threatened her death and she wished
Anak to kill him. If I give Anak
this, Degar Astok would make him
"Why did you not do so?"
"Because I am a woman, and I
know a woman's heart. It would
have the opposite effect. I will rub
it into the liver I give to Uglik."
With the aid of the women, Esle
laid out a rough oval on the ground
where the two combatants were to
meet. Throwing-stones and spears
were not allowed in rannag, the two
combatants fighting their duel with
smiting-stones and flint knives
only. At the appointed hour, the
two combatants appeared, stripped
to their loin-clothes only. The
Father was hideous with streaks of
paint, red, yellow, white, and black.
Anak glistened from his coat of
grease, but his skin was bare of
The two combatants took their
places, while around the fighting
ground gathered the hunters and
youths, throwing-spears in hand.
Their privilege and duty it was to
slay either of the fighters who fled
or who was forced out of the ring.
Esle intoned a long prayer to Degar
Astok. The word for combat was
given. The two men approached
each other cautiously. The Father
confident in his strength, but
he felt heavy and lethargic. Anak
was clear-eyed and alert, ready to
take advantage of any opening offered
The two men circled, wary as great
jungle cats. Anak, suddenly ducked
his head and rubbed his eyes.
With a roar of triumph, Uglik
Outside the ring, there was a
commotion. A woman's scream, rent
the air. Invar leaped to Una's side,
to find her wrestling with Esle.
"Kill her, Invar!" shrieked the
girl. "She tried to cast a spell on
The young hunter forced open
the High Priestess' hand. In it was
grasped a bit of shiny quartz with
which she had reflected the sun
into the hunter's eyes. With upraised
hand, he struck her to the
"She shall be judged after the
rannag," he said. "Take you this
spear, Una, and drive it through
her if she moves."
The girl took the spear. Invar returned
to watch the fight. Anak
had sidestepped the first rush of
the Father and his smiting-stone
had bit heavily into Uglik's shoulder.
Uglik had whirled and charged
again. Anak made as if to leap to
one side. As Uglik changed his direction
to meet him, Anak swayed
back. Again his smiting-stone bit
heavily into the Father's side. With
a cry of pain, Uglik paused and
changed his tactics. He approached
cautiously, ready to leap to either
side. Farther and farther Anak retreated
until the hunters at the
end of the oval raised their spears
in anticipation. Then Anak charged.
Uglik was taken by surprise. His
blow glanced off Anak's upraised
stone while an upward sweep of
the weapon took him in the neck.
He dropped his stone and threw
his arms around Anak's body. Well
had Anak planned when he greased
his body, for Uglik's grip failed.
Anak shook him loose and struck
again. Once more Uglik grasped
him, and this time threw him
heavily to the ground. Again the
grease made his hold slip. Anak
struggled to his feet, but it was
evident that the fall had hurt him.
Uglik followed up his advantage.
He warded off the
blow of the hunter's stone and again
flung him to earth. Anak dropped
Uglik's hands fastened on the
hunter's throat, and mercilessly he
banged Anak's head on the rocky
ground. Anak wound his mighty
legs about the Father's middle. Silently
they put forth their strength.
Uglik's hold was the more deadly,
and slowly the hunter weakened.
"The Father kills!" screamed
She strove to rise to her feet,
but Una had her orders from Invar.
She pressed home the spear. With
a sob, Esle fell back.
Anak's tongue began to protrude
from his mouth and his eyes
swelled. An expression of triumph
spread over Uglik's face, which
suddenly changed to one of amazement,
and then to pain and fear.
As they rolled over, Anak had
felt something pierce his leg. The
pain was nothing, but it persisted.
As his consciousness slipped away,
only that one feeling remained. He
reached down to his leg. Thrust
deep into his thigh was a knife-like
sliver of flint. With a supreme
effort, he rallied his failing consciousness
and grasped it. The
Father's chest was directly over
him. With his last conscious effort,
he thrust upward with the fragment
of flint. His aim was true.
Uglik suddenly released his hold
and raised himself to his knees,
his hands plucking at his chest.
For a moment he swayed forward
and back. Then, with a cry, he
pitched forward, blood gushing
from his chest over the unconscious
Anak recovered consciousness
to find his opponent lying
dead before him, the sliver of flint
buried in his heart. He staggered
to his feet and tried to speak. His
vocal cords refused to act and he
massaged his throat gently.
"I am Father of the tribe of
Ugar by right of rannag," he said
hoarsely. "Do any challenge the
There was no answer. Anak
stepped to Una's side.
"Uglik spoke truth when he said
that Una would be High Priestess
of Degar Astok," he said. "This I
now proclaim her. You, Esle,
stripped of your office, shall do
menial tasks for all who will until
death claims you. If your homage
wavers, death will not be long.
"Lo, I make a new law for the
tribe. No longer shall all the women
belong to the Father, but to those
to whom the Father awards them.
To each hunter, I now give one
woman. He shall take her to his
cave and hunt for her. She shall
obey him and no other. The others
shall live in a woman's cave, and
shall be tabu until they are chosen
by one who has no woman, or until
a hunter desires more than one
woman to chip his flints and dress
his skins. Hunters, choose your
women and take up caves. Here
stays the tribe of Ugar forever, and
we will allow no others in the
Followed by Una he strode toward
the Father's cave. Below the
hunters and the women eyed one
another a trifle fearfully. At last
Invar stepped forward and grasped
one of them by the arm.
"Come to my cave!" he ordered.
The woman followed him submissively.
This etext was produced from Astounding Stories April 1932. Extensive
research did not uncover any evidence that the U.S.
copyright on this publication was renewed.