Ageless woman! The beckoning centuries seem to run before her tireless
energies, still stretching forward the span of her sublime motherhood,
still exacting the tribute of her sons and daughters to meet the needs
She becomes in retrospect the origin of human life, the vast
procreative source of all civilization and all progress, and from her
bosoms, clutched by the fixed hand of infancy, flows the milk that has
formed the tissues of all known human annals.
Prophecy dwells upon her head, for from her proceed the nations of
the earth. Poetry and Drama surround her, for she, in her evocative
charm, haunts the innermost chambers of Desire, and it is her touch
that lights the fires, else unseen, upon each altar of Passion, of
Aspiration, of Revelry, of Joy.
Nature is her antitype, and in Nature as in a mirror she sees the
multiplied reflections of her own beneficence and her own fertility.
She rules in the vestiture of Man’s Empress, and the flood of time yet
bears upon its tides the meanings of her presence and her powers.
Immortal Woman! in whose dowry Intention has placed all things
beautiful and tender, around whose neck hang the prayers of men, and
from whose eyes shine the rewards of men; she who by a welcome paradox
makes her weakness the unmastered ruler of men, and whose promises are
the last incentives to their ambition.
In the metaphors of Revelation she stands revealed as the victim of
her own surrender to enjoyment, and through a miraculous genesis of
life she is enthroned upon the seat of Mercy, as the vehicle of Man’s
And this Primal Woman? Shall such panegyric belong to her? She stands
upon the threshold. Behind her the depths and mists of Oblivion–before
her Man’s Empire over Life. Let us see.
As we watch her thus beaming and looking upward, she springs forward
into a patch of light made by the sun’s descending rays through some
aperture in the boughs of the high trees. Her beauty is revealed.
She is not tall, but the tense vigor of her muscles, all uncovered
and shining in the sun like a golden bronze, gives her superb frame,
modelled with a charm of outline born of exercise, an imposing
expression. She is not voluptuous, but the graded and blending
surfaces of her body–softly tinted with that indescribable color
that becomes an embrowned bronze, alive in the shadows, and a lustrous
metallic sheen in the high lights–form a picture of enticement. The
swollen excrescences of breast and hips, repulsive to all adroit and
delicate desire, are replaced by refined outlines, sexual in meaning,
but restrained to the limits of sculptural modesty. Her neck sweeps
deliciously upward from the bare shoulders, imprinted with the kisses
of the sun, bearing a head, perhaps small but exquisitely adjusted,
and displaying features puzzling in their type, and suggestive of the
subtle union of the American, the Negroid and the Malayan.
The nose aquiline, but thinly ridged and faintly expanding into nervous
and sensitive nostrils, the lips full and pouting, yet short, the eyes
half limpid and dark, but carrying flashes of defiance, the forehead
low, the cheeks oval and delicately hollowed, the ears small and just
obviously inverted, and the chin abrupt and firmly built; the whole
composition lending itself to a range of expressions from languor to
anger and repudiation. Nor was it deprived of less extreme shades of
meaning. As she stood in the light, her eyebrows arched in attention,
the smooth skin between them disturbed by a few lines of indecision
and her lips parted in expectation, she leaned forward, and a look of
infinite interest, a strange pained thoughtfulness arose in her face.
She raised her hands as if in oblation to the light above her, her
tumultuous black hair streamed down her naked back, and she sighed.
The poise was perfect, the aesthetic unity complete. Gold bands held
her ankles, gold links were upon her wrists and ears, a white shell
comb was inserted in her hair, and an apron of fox skin hung before
her. Such was Lhatto, the girl of the Sierras, before human history
began, the Woman of the Ice Age, living in the warm Fair Land in North
We are not concerned in proving the reasonableness of this fair
vision. Eve has been made beautiful by Art. Why not Lhatto by Fiction?
And why not beautiful indeed? Child of Nature, nurtured amidst its
beauties, trained in the many ways of earning life from its free gifts,
dispensing with all artifices of living, gathering strength, and color,
form, feeling and passion from the splendor of Nature’s panorama and
action. The wonderfulness of such panorama and action was in this
temperate and tropic and frigid zone unsurpassed. Why not find in these
first Earthlings some impassioned instance–accident it might be–of
Creation’s early effort to reflect,–as if in sportive prophecy of all
Woman should be thereafter,–the approaching terrors and glories of her
reign in history and story, in play and legend, poetry and music.
Lhatto stood an instant longer in the sun. Then, as if regulating her
movements by some carefully conceived purpose, she turned back to the
sylvan camp and drew from a rude receptacle, fashioned from the trunk
of a tree, a more complete covering, seized a harpoon-like weapon
from the ground, crowded a pemmican mass of cooked grain and smoked
meat into a woven basket, rudely ornamented with figures, and turning
backward spoke to the moving figures of men and women far off in the
perspective of the forest.
Her voice belonged to and fitted all her natural charm. It was musical
and jubilant with woody sweetness, and a lingering ring, like the
melting and penetrating calls of birds. It made her more beautiful.
“To the water,” she cried, and the passive figures, scarcely arrested
in their toil, answered back with murmurs of assent. Lhatto turned
again, and Atalanta-like, sped down the path that started at the upland
and ended on the distant shore.
She carried her clothing and the food basket, pressed in a bundle close
beneath her left arm, while her hand held the harpoon, her right hand
was raised before her and like a Grecian herald, “she ran swiftly.”
She soon reached the edge of the upland where the path descended to
the valley and the lake. Here her agility and sure footedness were
seriously tested. The broken descent was a series of intervals between
rough and angular blocks of stone, slippery with lichens or moss, and
now wet from some recent shower. The path with long interruptions where
no evidence of its direction could be seen, was detected by worn spots
or traces, upon the larger blocks. Lhatto seemed to exert no thought
upon the selection of her way. With light feet she sprang from point
to point, and running along the narrow edge of some decumbent mass of
rock, suddenly dropped from its side to a lower level without volition,
so vigorous and just was her instinct of place and action.
She had reached the valley; the high grass nurtured by some favorable
influence reached half way up to her own height and pressed upon her.
Its swaying ran in radial waves outward from her vanishing figure,
as her laggard arm, now thrown behind her, swept its mobile crests.
Suddenly she emerged on the dome beyond, bare or scantily dressed in
verdure, and here her figure became instantly and superbly visible.
A wind blowing freshly from the sea, and now chilling and raw, brushed
backward the glistening hair, color throbbed in her cheeks with a
deeper dye, her bosom pulsating with the efforts of her unusual
exertion rose and fell, and to her eyes had risen some suppressed
emotion that gave them brilliancy; her lips, after a moment’s pause
while her uplifted head, with a sort of statuesque elation, greeted
the blue sky, opened suddenly with song.
Or was it but a cry, a weird inchoate yearning for music’s melody and
It rose upon the air of that immeasurably distant day, and floated out
over the waves that were making their own rudimental symphonies on the
lonely shores. It rose upward and floated backward to the forests where
the birds in myriad ways were beating the same air, on which it came,
with song. It was part of the intuition of all feeling things to put
their feelings into the subtle measure of music. And she who sang had
come upon earth before civilization or science or art, in formal types,
had yet been dreamed of. It was the prototype of folk song, or nursery
croon, of legendary melodies, of national anthem, the song of Lhatto,
on the outskirts of all regulated thought and invention.
Imagine–all you who behind foot-lights, and in front of crescent
platforms, hear the manifold choruses that shall in some way, sometimes
inscrutable, sometimes clear, interpret for you feeling or fancy, that
use all the sound resources of orchestras straining in all imaginable
ways to construct new fabrics of notes, building in echoes of old
tunes, forgotten lays, choral unions of tones, and hurrying from grave
to gay, from slow to quick, in the laborious compilation that rises
with elastic buoyancy, until the last chord crashes or sobs, and the
listener departs numbed and despairing–imagine Lhatto on the door
step of human time singing to the morning skies.
Yes! it was a song. It was articulate. This earliest woman had wedded
music to words, and both, in her, perhaps from still more venerable
traditions, or from the creative genius of merely strong feeling, were
signals of man’s primal worship of the sea, and were intelligible. Thus
THE SONG OF LHATTO.
Stay waves. Hold wind. Enough!
Enough! The fish swims on your face,
The fish swims in the deep water,
The clouds swim with the fish,
The sun buries his head there too.
My boat hurts your face,
Your face will eat my boat,
It will swim with the fish
And the clouds, and the sun.
Stop waves. Stop wind. Enough!
Let me swim too with the fish,
And the clouds and the sun,
Hurry waves, hurry wind.
The boat I make wounds the
Face of the water. Enough! Enough!
Perhaps it was not music, nor poetry, nor sense, but as the voice
shrilly mounted the sloping rocks and called from all their crannies,
their hiding nooks, their inviolate grottoes the–till then–unused
echoes, the Woman leaped and danced, her bundle dropped from her
arm, and with hands outstretched to the ocean, her face radiant and
laughing, she swung to and fro, pacing and stamping the ground in a
Then a stranger thing happened, and something more grave and beautiful.
Lhatto knelt and bowed to the far-away sea, and her voice became
silent. So the Woman there in the Earth’s Dawn begat music and
poetry and worship; the mists from the ocean spread about her, the
swarming voices of the day entered her ears, and perchance far down
in her perturbed soul, by some skill of the Great Intention, she saw
and heard the hurrying centuries rampant with life, pregnant with
passion, furious with ambition, prostrate–as she had been before the
sea–prostrate before a Woman’s form, and voice, and soul.
Lhatto rose, resumed her burden and hastened to the edge of the cliff
where the path abruptly ended in a disjointed natural ladder of stone
leading aimlessly, and, as if by preference, dangerously down the
vertical face of the dike.
Lhatto certainly felt no diffidence. From point to point she descended
with ease, leaping with careless accuracy, and scarcely pausing in her
rapid and twisting course. Suddenly her onward motion ceased. She had
reached the lowest step visible from the edge of the bluff; below was a
long interval, perhaps twenty feet to the rolled pebbles on the beach
now rapidly succumbing to the inundation of the inflowing tide.
Her form bent forward. She was scanning the awkward gap, and some
exclamation of apparent wonder escaped her. The last step, a conical
and half sloping fragment of rock, which had usually afforded the final
element in the chain of precarious footholds, had disappeared. Some
dislocation had thrown it over, perhaps the assault of a heavy billow,
and the distance between her position and the shore was uninterrupted
by any intermediate break.
The woman was disconcerted for an instant. But that intuitive response
of her muscular and trained body to each quick and adequate decision
of her mind was instantly displayed. She flung from her the bundle
of clothing, wrapped tightly around the basket of food, and shot
the harpoon far off, aiming at a flat exposure of fine sand between
the larger boulders. Both disappeared below her. She sank to the
narrow shelf on which she had been standing, and with the keenest
agility swung down below its edge, suspending her pendant body by
her outstretched arms, and then began slowly to sway, each flexure
of her back starting a wider amptitude of oscillation, until her
feet alternately rose so far as to bring the axis of her body almost
parallel with the edge of rock to which she tenaciously clung.
Her design was evident. Immediately below her the fallen boulder
lying on its side thrust upward a comb of sharp edges treacherously
marked by braids of green sea-weed. To have dropped upon these flinty
serrations would have meant a serious injury. To escape it she now
essayed to give herself propulsive power sufficient to pass to one side
of this obstacle.
In another second of time she had loosened one hand, continuing with
the other this supremely difficult exercise, which shot into her face
tides of color, and revealed the superb physique, texture and power
of her steel-like muscles. She suddenly released her hold when the
wide swing had become most extended, and shot, half turning backward,
far beyond the threatening boulder, falling with graceful recovery of
her inclined body, as the arrest on the shore brought her head upward
with the yet unexpended energy of translation. It was a skillful and
For an instant she covered her face with her hands. The exertion had
been significant and unusual. The bundle and harpoon, the latter fixed
upright in the sand, were recovered, and with a relaxed, perhaps a
slightly halting step, Lhatto made her way over the sea wall of rolled
and polished pebbles to the less dismal and barren shores beyond, where
a long beach passed upward into dunes, drifted into hillocks, and
partially induced to support a scattered wood of dark, motionless, and
The lonely woman, emblem and promise, stood a long time on that
untenanted shore looking outward, the encroaching tide slowly
encircling her feet with wavelets, while each advancing ripple bearing
some bubble of foam bound her ankles with a ring of airy beads.
Before the ocean, whether in calm or in storm, youth feels the power of
its silence and its immensity. The wind that moved over its passionless
face when still, the wind that carries hurricanes over the same ocean
when convulsed and dangerous, solicit the recreant passions of youth,
aimless, boundless, and unfulfilled.
Though speechless its murmurs are the voices of sirens luring him
with musical and seducing phrases to enter its green abyss and find
delight. The horizon, a merely necessary optical limit, a mathematical
certainty, a physical injunction upon eyesight, is to youth a line on
the threshold of New Worlds, a doorway to all the pleasures that the
leaping heart, with wise madness, craves incessantly.
To the Woman of the Ice Age, to Lhatto, still struggling with the youth
of her own life, and struggling more profoundly but unconsciously,
and forever inexplicably, with the youth of the race, at the birth
of emotion, at the birth of thought, of worship, of sexual fruition,
competency, and desire, this remorseless inspiration of the ocean
smote upon her breast and mind like some vast magic magnetism, holding
her senses in its irresistible blissful power. And Nature was Lhatto’s
schoolhouse; perhaps more deeply than ever since amongst men she dwelt
in Nature, nursing at its breast, and yielding, as a child should
yield, terror to its imprecations, obedience to its prayers.
But Lhatto, though thus imperiously influenced, had no introspections
in the matter. She simply turned her beautiful face to the sea, and
somehow a voice from that great deep said to her “Come!”
The sun had reached the ninth hour of the day when Lhatto turned
backward to the shore, leaving the waves that were now lapping with
soft kisses her knees and thrusting out innumerable tongues upon her
smooth and sculptured thighs. She made her way unhesitatingly to a
thicket of cedars which, by some propulsion, and encouraged by a spring
of water welling upward near them, had advanced far beyond their
companions, and by reason of this temerity had become the target of
storms, which had broken their boughs, bent their growth, and thrust
them upon each other as if, in a last fraternal embrace, they had
concluded to die together.
In the shadow of this thicket, and now evident, as the Woman advanced
toward it, lay a narrow keeled but somewhat well shaped and serviceable
boat. It was a tree trunk hollowed out with some precision, the method
being clearly indicated by the charred remnants of its roughened and
chipped interior surfaces. The original tree trunk had been hewn down,
its outer bark removed and one half of its circumference hacked away.
Upon the section of the tree thus exposed fires had been lighted, or
heated stones placed, and the incinerated wood loosened and excavated.
The process had been toilsome; but in the primitive occupations of that
prehistoric people, time or exertion counted for little, so free could
they then be in the expenditure of each.
The boat had not been altogether carelessly conceived. A sort of prow,
a square stem, full sides and a flat bottom made it useful along the
shore fisheries, and a long paddle now lying at the bottom of the boat,
and bruised and indented by use, showed that its occurrence was not
Lhatto threw her food basket and harpoon into the boat and then
unwrapping the little bundle of clothes took out a pair of skin
breeches, a soft fabric shirt, and a seal-skin blouse or jacket. She
unloosened the fox skin apron about her loins. It dropped to the
ground, and the nude Eurydice, save for the glittering anklets and
wristlets and necklace, for an instant saw her beauty in the still
encroaching waters that may even have hastened their tardier approach
to indulge in the shadowy carresses of her reflection.
It was only for an instant, for even then modesty–the primal
birthright and ornament of womanhood–in this wild child of nature,
this woman hidden in the nameless, dateless past, made clear its
claims. Lhatto, with a startled look, through which there also sprang
hints of a mischievous and tantalizing happiness in her own beauty,
half bent, half turned, though only the impersonal sky and rocks and
trees were there, and snatched the waiting garments. Quickly they were
drawn on over her warm bronzed skin, and then seizing the boat’s stern
and pushing outward, she drove it across the shallow tidal flood, its
harsh grating sounding strangely on that empty shore.
It floated, and as Lhatto stepped upon it, the sides were half hidden
in the water. Her hand, with balanced rhythm, paddled the little
boat out from the shore, and the crude invention evinced some artful
adaptation for its purposes as it moved on an even and noiseless keel.
She first propelled it beneath the highest sheer cliff of dark basalt,
whose pediments lay fathoms deep beneath the wave. The steep walls
resounded in hollow and reinforced echoes, as she worked her way
through gaunt spires of rock or looking upward caught the tiny rain
that shot from some narrow shelf of rock tufted with grass, drenched
with percolating waters.
For a moment she rested, and then her wandering eye turned seaward.
Far out she saw the lifted ledges, remnants of the wasted dike, now
withdrawn through the age-long conflict with frost and wave, leaving
behind these rugged roots; and she saw too the glint of a seal’s gray
body on the rocks. Quickly she turned the careening canoe and shot
towards the distant spot where the white spray dashed upward. Perhaps
a mile’s distance would cover the breadth of water she crossed,
perhaps less. The ledges almost formed a low islet, and Lhatto still
noticing the unchanged location of the seal whose eyes arrested by her
approach now rested, half vagrantly turning from side to side, upon the
unexpected visitor, steered her boat to the opposite end of the little
patch of reef. It occupied her but a moment to slide the boat up upon a
convenient and smoothed edge, and then as quickly to seize her harpoon,
and hunter-like, creeping almost prostrate on the rocks, to reach a
point almost directly above her still undisturbed prey.
Even as she raised in the air the sharp bone point of the harpoon
above it, its eyes turned half languidly upon her, but no sense of
alarm, scarcely an indolent effort to see her more clearly, interfered
with her design. Lhatto paused, and the poise and action of her body,
although hidden and disguised by her more cumbrous clothing, were
strikingly suggestive, and full of interest. The succeeding second,
and the harpoon, hurled with splendid precision, buried its murderous
point in the neck of the seal that tumbling from its perch struggled
momentarily in the water, pouring out a red stain upon the foam and
green blades of waves. Its efforts were soon over, and hauled back
and earned by Lhatto to the boat, its glazed eyes seemed to renew its
vacant inquisition of this cruel and unexplained intruder.
Lhatto stood irresolute. Her minute scrutiny of the dead animal showed
an awakening repulsion, and to the first glance of satisfaction
succeeded an unsettled expression in which perchance regret fought with
wonder, and finally surrendered to the latter. For the woman kneeled
and pressed and smoothed the drenched skin, lifted up the disfigured
head, and holding it in both hands so that its shadowed orbs were in
the direct line of her vision, she sang again, and this time the song
was low and whispering and plaintive.
THE SONG OF LHATTO.
The eye has gone out, and the breath,
And the thing is still, broken.
Where is the eye-look and the breath-spirit?
In the water, in the air, nowhere.
Hit it, it does not move.
Warm it, it does not move.
The wind cannot make it move.
Nor the water, nor the Sun.
Has it gone away? Will it come back?
And the primal woman leaned over the dead seal, and before the mystery
of death began the long interrogation which man has ever put to this
same wonder, running on past false prophets, ethnic faiths, revelation
and modern science.
Lhatto disengaged the harpoon point which, as in the same instrument
of the Esquimaux to-day, was attached by a thong to the wooden shaft
that carried it, and washed it clean and replaced it in a socket in a
handle. She laid it in the boat and stood lingering over the spot where
the seal had been slain, perhaps with some propitiary thought, for the
life she had taken from the world.
She turned to the boat that now with the receding tide had become half
elevated from the water on the widening surfaces of the bared rocks. A
light push, a leap and the rocking dug-out shot outward in a maze of
ripples, with its agile occupant still standing upright, a curious gaze
of interest rising in her face as she looked northward to the blanched
and drifting ice bergs, intermittently visible and absent on the far
The girl slowly resumed her paddling, and began, after some hesitation,
to row still further outward from the shore, that now seemed a long
way off, its details softened into confused blotches of color, and
its irregularities of outline merged into bold and simple shapes. The
strangeness of her position, the weird isolation of her voyage on
the Pacific, a human waif in the great void of expectancy of nature,
certainly carried no intimation of its poetic or dramatic interest to
her primitive experience, and feeling. She, the naive precursor of a
A fascination only drew her outward, the compelling curiosity of her
nature, that delicate and insistent inquisitiveness of woman, which in
more conventional forms is reduced and dissipated into the idle and
transitory whims of modern life.
In Lhatto, this minimized attitude of interest in trifles, innuendos
and intrigues, was foreshadowed by a great yearning; the stalwart,
uninjured, bare response of her strong passionate heart to her own
questioning of nature, to the myriad strains of sympathy between her
and this chrysalis of mysteries into which she had been born. How shall
we justly realize the proportions or properties of the first full
formed human soul in a woman, standing somewhere near the marvellous
incident which evolved or made her; yet possessing an indescribable
heritage of half-animal instincts, transmuted let us hope, by the
benison of the Great Intention, into a labyrinth of longings, and
dreams, and hopes, and queries.
She moved constantly outward on the waste of waters, and her face was
turned to the land looming up behind its first declivities in purple
mountain tops, here and there accentuated in sharp and sparkling
pinnacles. Still outward. And now so recklessly had she advanced that
the thronging fingers of a great oceanic current, sweeping northward,
like myriads of tiny tentacles, each the lapping summit of a drop
of water, had seized her boat and slowly swerved it from its path,
carrying it on the broad river of its eddying tides.
Lhatto seemed to notice nothing at first, but suddenly she rose to
her feet. The receding land seemed miles away, the sun shone from the
zenith, the little groups of rocks on which she had landed were lost to
sight, a low creeping ripple made itself heard and the boat rose upon
the successive swelling convexities of larger and larger waves. The
realization of her position was acute. She worked vigorously to draw
her little vessel out of the hastening and now vociferous tide, but for
once her strong arm, nerved into desperation by a sense of impending
danger, was impotent.
The struggle between the woman and the now exulting water, leaping and
splashing upon her terror-stricken face, was an unequal combat. The
insidious gliding wavelets, as if instinct with a hidden purpose, had
disguised their force until their softly augmented power had reached
the full measure of an irresistible purpose. Nothing now in that
woman–become frail before the strength of natural agencies–could save
She stood up, and dropping the useless paddle, between her scooped
hands shouted to the shore. The wild sad cry drifted lonely, shivering
unanswered, over the hopeless plain of water, and if it reached the
shore, died forgotten against the flinty barriers, or lost itself in
cranny, crevice, and defile.
The tide grew stronger as if exultant in its remorseless purpose. The
boat swayed and swung like a chip upon a descending stream, the dancing
waters leaped about it, the long swells rose higher, and a growing cold
caused the young creature to draw her wisely designed clothing closer
to her form, while the unused paddle lay at her feet, and far beyond,
as her appealing eyes looked northward, the great icebergs drew nearer.
Indeed the spectacle became each moment strangely beautiful and
stupendous, and the despairing woman, in whom the dawning responses to
beauty daily strengthened, forgot for a moment her extremity, in the
superb picture that grew and grew as the now shooting currents carried
her against its awful frigid majesty.
The day was far spent, the sun’s red disk hung on the very edge of the
western horizon and the far away shores of the Fair Land, from which
Lhatto had drifted, seemed drenched in purple, though above their peaks
and domes of rock, a rosy light yet lingered. The sun, unattended by
clouds but veiled in some unapparent mist, glowed garnet red, and its
dissipated or obstructed rays dimly touched the ocean’s face with
molten glints and splashes of bronzy gold.
North of the Fair Land, north of Lhatto lay the ice country, and it
was thither her eyes turned with wonderment. She had heard of the ice
country. Between it and her own Fair Land stretched the intermediate
morainal zone, already described, where the hairy mastodon roamed in
a dwindled but widely disseminated flora of low willows, birches,
beeches, and gnarled ashes and spruce, where, in sheltered places,
carpets of meadow sprinkled with color, spread between high beds of
naked gravel, boulder piles, and clay. Her people had hunted there.
It was a strange climatic contiguity, the cold and ice-burdened north,
the temperate or semi-tropic region of the Fair Land south, the neck of
It was not an impossible condition. In Dr. J. W. Gregory’s _Great Rift
Valley of Africa_, a description is given of his ascending to the
snow fields and glaciers of Mt. Kenya, and the reader is introduced
to a succession of climates precisely such as prevailed in this
reconstructed area of North America where the Romance of Lhatto and of
Ogga was, as here described, evolved.
Mt. Kenya itself, garlanded with glaciers and snow beds, rises some
16,000 feet in the air almost beneath the equator.
The lowlands, miles away from its dark and arctic peaks, are tropical,
where at 2 degrees South Latitude, the Athi River pours into the
Indian Ocean. Nearer to the baffling peak, as the land rises, immense
and dense forests spread an almost impassible skirt about it, the
coniferous trees (_podocarpus_) and bamboo jungles indicate a cooler
atmosphere, and through them hustle the chattering monkies (_Colobus_).
Swamps, morainal hillocks succeed, the forests are replaced by herbs
and bushes and scattering groves, with interspersed peat bogs, and
then, beyond such a region of severer temperate conditions, rise the
arctic highlands of the central confluence of ridges, chasms, and
peaks, where a perpetual winter reigns. And all these progressive
alternations are encountered in a radial circumference of fifty miles.
Already the hastening oceanic stream had carried Lhatto, as the night
fell, nearly a hundred miles from the morning’s shore.
The night had indeed come; and Lhatto, who had long ago abandoned her
desperate struggles to escape from the pitiless tide, crawled to the
bottom of the boat, and crushing upon her head a cap of seal-skin, the
last item of clothing left in her bundle, and eating ravenously of the
meat and grain in her little basket, resigned herself to the strange
possibilities now close upon her. And resigned herself without fear!
Fear indeed holds an awful sway in the primeval brain, stultified and
dizzy before the unaccountable events in nature, its life and death,
its storms and its silence, the stars, the depths of the earth, and
all moving things. But an exalted phantasy sways there too. A sudden
realization of fate and supernatural impulse, of swimming and winged
and footed destinies carrying one on to prejudged conclusions, premade
ends, prefixed disasters.
So Lhatto sat and dreamed and waited, and the biting air sank into
her breast, and she fell asleep, almost undisturbed, acquiescent to
all that might happen. And the same stars in the moonless night shone
on her then, in the Ice Age, as they would shine on the same waters
to-day, in the Age of Knowledge. And so Lhatto glided on unconscious,
to the ice and the snow and the glaciers.
As the sun broke over the eastern rims of land, as its rays fell upon
the half blinded eyes of the waking woman, a chill like a physical
impact shook her frame. It was a strange and picturesque scene, one of
unimaginable wonderfulness and beauty which met her eyes, and startled
her into the widest wakefulness by the piercing cold. And it also was a
scene of fantastic fearfulness and danger. The current had brought her
to the lips, to the opening mouths and throats, the manifold necks and
elongations, the waters fleeted with icebergs, the radiant cathedral
spires, the minaretted roofs, the spouting super or englacial rivers,
the dirt accumulations spilled from its lapsing morainal crusts;
at the beryl wall of the Great Glacier, covering the North country,
_where_ it slid from the distant plateaux, even from the ice encased
Mountain of Zit, rigid in frost, amid its dead and frozen hills,
_where_ it moved with breaks and bounds and dull detonations into the
As the sun climbed the cloudless sky the immensity of this continental
ice sheet was revealed to Lhatto. The very centre and composed
inspiration of it all was the great towering mountain with its jutting
and defiant peak of rock, where, as was shown before, the superb
elevation was itself broken up into radiating chasms whose rocky
sides rose in black keels of relief above the snow-filled gorges they
defined, while surmounting them all, a keen shaft of granite, roseate
in a hundred lights, or wrapped in pendulous and waving veils of mist,
rose steeply to the clouds.
The extreme velocity of the current had abated and the dug-out floated
slowly forward into this chaotic splendor of icy things. A vagary
of the tide branching sideways brought the boat and its bewildered
occupant into a sea of icebergs, ice-cakes, hummocks and toppling
mounds of ice, where before her rose the very front of the high glacial
stream pushing steadily into the water. In this amphitheatre of
wonders, the crystal prison of the Ice King, full of structure and full
of the most diffused and entrancing colors, here and there, in sockets
and rifts, acute with passionate intensity, the boat rested, bobbing on
the fluctuating waves.
Lhatto stood up on the dancing raft. Her limbs cramped with cold and
the long stagnant sleep, seemed scarcely able to support her. But
stamping and rubbing brought the life back to them, and the blazing
sunlight brought back vitality to her body, even as it also started
the ice streams, and to each tension of the ice masses supplied the
loosening warmth that hastened their solution.
Before Lhatto was a terrace of ice, its minor irregularities masked
by distance, with a height of many hundreds of feet, gashed, riven
and melting, running for miles and miles interminably backward and
sideward. At its feet, washed by the water, thousands of ice floats
rose idly, or were rocked with waves produced by the falling into the
sea of new additions to their number. Rivers were flowing in places
over the ice front, discolored with mud, while leaning boulders of
rocks at points were balanced on the edge of the glacier, or at other
points protruding from the midst of its face, waited momentarily their
own discharge into the ocean.
Beautiful and sublime ships of ice seemed stationary about her with
their deep keels yet anchored to the sea bottom, sculptured and
dissected, with snow drifts piled high upon them or arching in white
cornices from the sides. An incessant murmur entered her ears, now and
then punctuated by a sharper note of cracking and splitting, while the
surges from the falling bodies, accompanied by most audible splashes,
kept her boat tipping and turning, and rendered each movement she
ventured to make, uncertain.
It was the panorama unrolled before her eyes landward beyond the blue
and green precipices of the immediate glacier that drew her rapt
attention. The rocky signal surmounting Zit soared above the ice
fields, whose united surfaces, softened into an unbroken expanse, like
huge shields, encircled it with gleaming armor; its lower attendant
mountains secured a precarious freedom from the dominant oppression,
some raising their heads in dark crests, above the snows, and the
others banked over their highest reaches with fillets or reflecting
bombs of snow. Below all these elevations the universal ice, written
with a thousand details of serac, gorge, moraine, crevasse, and
noonituck swept its dazzling and incredible domain.
Lhatto was beginning to feel a cruel hunger and she was very cold. The
warm shirt, the seal skin dress, protected her, and over her feet she
had also drawn a pair of sealskin boots, all so providently provided in
her bundle of clothes, that it was almost certain that she had not been
entirely without prevision of her coming necessity. But now it was
hunger, too, that added its terrors to her isolation. She suddenly cast
a satisfied glance upon the dead seal, already almost forgotten, lying
in the boat. Beneath its plush-like covering lay the rich nutritous fat
that feeds the fires of life beneath polar skies, with instantaneous
and adequate fuel.
Her thoughts, now again wakeful and swarming upward with fresh hopes of
escape, as the tide had stopped, and land far south showed its varying
outlines, were suddenly interrupted. Although apparently arrested, her
boat had been drawing imperceptibly closer to an enormous berg which
lay, tilted sideways, from some dislocation of its centre of gravity,
its bottom immovable in the mud. A beetling wedge of ice formed its
apex. Beneath this impending block and straight against a shelf of ice
at its base, the exile had drifted. The dug-out struck the ice-cake
sharply and Lhatto was thrown forward upon the prow of the small boat.
Her fall was fortunate. The next instant, long enough for the slight
concussion to be communicated to the toppling summit, the great mass
fell, splintering like some colossal Rupert’s bubble into myriads
of fragments, indenting the water with a deep concavity upon whose
depression the refluent waves rolled in deafening disorder. Lhatto
lay just beyond–by the narrowest margin–the extreme verge of its
showering cleavages. The stern of the boat was hit by a big cake and
sank beneath the water. Lhatto leaped to her feet, sped forward upon
the ice shelf of the berg and falling flat, grasped the retreating
dug-out, which, sucked outward, almost pulled her after it. The strong
muscles and the roughened edges of the berg holding her back by their
asperities, catching in her loose and wrinkled dress, saved all.
Another moment the stress of peril was past, and Lhatto drew over the
rim of the ice shelf the boat still containing the captured seal. A
stranger and larger craft was now the vehicle of her further adventures.
Adventure was indeed certain, for relieved of its cumbrous and
dislodged pinnacle, the huge iceberg reeled slowly over and with a
pulsating boom that shook the gathered snows from its shoulders, in
storms of irridescent dust, it rose from its muddy fastenings and
floated; to follow perchance the spectral procession which in the
morning of the previous day Lhatto had seen far south, proceeding
outward on the trackless deep.
But apprehensions were for the instant forgotten. The woman drew
from the pocket of her trousers a long thin blade, that shining from
its concave facets revealed the substance of obsidian, or volcanic
glass. She squeezed the plush-like skin of the seal, draining away the
absorbed water, and then cut deeply into its back, and dexterously
working the stone knife, dislodged the fat in lumps. And these she ate.
The reassuring comfort of satiety, the new warmth bringing with it
courage, made Lhatto keen and anxious again. She reviewed the chances
of her escape. The berg was moving. That she could detect by watching
the sharp edges of its arête pass the features of the glacier beyond
it, and that it was likely to follow in the wake of the endless train
of emigrants whose majestic beauty was destined to vanish before
the tropic suns, dropping like despoiled queens their ornaments of
sparkling jewels in the hot waters of the south, was equally certain.
What means did she possess to effect her escape? The boat was intact,
food was there, the harpoon and paddle still remained, and her own
good heart and buoyant muscles, the quick concurrence of ardor and of
strength, were also hers.
The berg moved steadily out to sea. No time was to be lost; the sea
was as yet undisturbed, save by its own unquiet breathing, and even
this perturbation, near the shore, and shielded as her position was by
fences of icy peninsulas and drifting ice, was now scarcely noticeable.
If she left the berg and trusted herself upon the water, could she shun
the tides which had brought her there? To answer this question it was
essential for Lhatto to find out exactly where she was. The body and
mass of the berg, in steps and colonnaded loveliness, was between her
and the distance, only the shelf on which she stood offered any room
for foothold or support.
She looked intently upward. Above her she could see a shoulder of ice
projecting outward, and it seemed so disposed to the central trunk of
ice as to suggest that it surrounded it with a sort of lower platform.
If she could surmount this the wider circuit of vision would enable her
to form her plans. The task was not easy. The wall of ice at her very
face was steep and actually inclined outwards, and the nearest margin
of its pendent edges was thirty feet away.
Lhatto studied the problem, but it was an impossible physical feat
to ascend the glassy slope. The iceberg, with occasional shuddering
thrills which broke the snow loose from its higher parts, sending down
white showers upon the startled woman, was slowly veering seaward.
The circling eddies around its edges betrayed its motion. It even
seemed that the shelf on which she stood was being invaded by the sea
water. Her boat, a few minutes ago dry on the ice, was now partially
surrounded by water. Her dismay increased. Running almost hopelessly to
and fro, a waif of humanity in the great arctic world, straining her
eyes from the extremities of the tipping shelf where she stood, to see
if possible what surmounted the platform above her, which she desired
to reach, her eye noted a horn-like projection of cylindrical ice,
suddenly revealed by one of the discharges of the powdery snow above.
It was a stalactitic formation of ice extending outward like the round
limb of a tree. Lhatto’s eye detected here an opportunity. Wound around
the long harpoon she had brought, were many feet of strongly woven
cord, a provision made by her people in their hunting excursions, when
their prey dove or swam from them. It was attached to the harpoon
blade, and the device contemplated a separation of the blade from the
stock or handle which floated to the surface, though still united by
this long thong to the wounded animal, seeking escape below the water.
Lhatto quickly unwound this cord, severed it from the stock and blade
and threw one end over the uprising and ringent projection. In another
instant she had looped the other end about her thighs, pulled the noose
tightly around her limbs, and then, seizing the disengaged end, drew
herself upward as a trapeze performer does to-day in a circus ring.
When near the projection she caught it with one hand, let go of the
rope and flung her other hand upon it and then drew herself quickly
upward, flinging her legs upon the crust around her. She had gained an
ample space extending outward from the spire of the iceberg on all
sides. She could walk around the central mass and her eye traversed the
whole visible area of the shores.
Instinctively she looked upward to Zit. Its granite obelisk still
gleamed amid the ice, and a rare splendor of unbroken sunshine flooded
the marvellous picture. A second time the Woman sank to her knees and
from her untrained lips, from the speechless impulse of her heart,
there rose a prayer for safety, and she stretched out her imploring
hands to the distant mountain.
As she thus bowed to the sensible Deity before her, great wraiths and
swirling towers of snow seemed developed upon one edge of the vast
scene. They rose as colossal and advancing clouds, and closed with
immense strides the whole picture of the mountain. Cold winds descended
from their flanks, bearing a tornado of ice particles, whirring
snow-flakes and poignant sleet. Poor Lhatto! She trembled in the gale
and cold; the iceberg, pushed by the storm’s harsh hands, reeled
outward, and the descending blizzard rapidly hid the outlines of the
coast. The woman had caught the slightest glance eastward, but it was
enough to show her that the glaciated areas faded away somewhere south
into a barren region which seemed again succeeded by the Fair Country.
There was no time to lose. Other bergs loosened from their moorings,
or started in more rapid motion, were crowding now upon the _massif_
on which Lhatto stood, the water spaces about her were filled with
cakes and hummocks, the waters themselves, violently disturbed, were
forming into waves, the blinding snow crowded the air, and the dismal
frightening moment seemed to seal her fate.
She turned anxiously and looked over the platform’s edge to see if her
one little hope, the small dug-out, was yet upon the lower shelf. To
her alarm, the greater part of this ledge had disappeared; a triangular
section still held the canoe, but the leaping waves were falling upon
it and it rocked upon the slippery floor, with every intimation of
quickly following the broken portions of the berg. Lhatto, stricken
with terror at the thought of her separation from the one link
connecting her with home and the sweet memories of the southern land,
looked hastily about her for some quick escape from the dilemma. She
had inadvertently approached the curling edge of the upper platform
and stood peering over it upon a bank of drifted snow. The plate of
ice beneath her broke with a sharp rattle, and Lhatto, buried in the
snow bank, was flung headlong upon the ice beneath. She emerged unhurt
from the protecting blankets of wet snow and leaped to the dug-out.
Another instant and she had coiled up the pendent strand from the ice
bough by which she had ascended, thrown it and the harpoon into the
boat, now slipping away with every new oscillation, and following both,
launched herself amid the wilderness of ice, in the bitter breath from
the frosty deserts of the glacier, in that desolate black moment when
the light of day seemed extinguished, and the power of night held her
prisoner in this sepulchre of death, with the shrill blasts whistling
about her, a thousand missiles of hail pelting her remorselessly, and
the inky waters, beaten into froth, curling their smitten crests about
Then the natal heroism emerged; her spirit met the unexpected and
monstrous demand, her muscles stiffened into sinews of iron, and the
prescience of her mind, educated by numberless adventures, directed her.
The very proximity of the stalking bergs, somewhat aligned in rows,
protected Lhatto against the fiercer assaults of the wind, and
permitted her to secure shelter from the rising waters. She adroitly
directed her way between these stealthy and splendid argonauts,
shooting across open lanes of water between them, skirting cautiously
their quiet margins, even clinging to them, waiting for a propitious
moment to move safely onward in her course.
The instinct of direction in wild men and women is acute and
infallible. The obstreperous confusion of warring details in natural
features becomes with them a completely composed picture with all the
details properly distributed, and the relations of parts all accurately
designed. Lhatto had seen but little from the iceberg, and distance had
veiled it, but some compass of direction set instantly in her bright
mind, and she knew, even in this labyrinth, the avenue of escape. It
lay to the south-east.
The sudden tempest almost as suddenly abated, but all the startled
movements it had inaugurated continued its physical effects long after
its activity had ceased. The ice continued to pour outward from the
glacier, the water remained froward and dangerous. Lhatto, still aiming
to shield herself from the waves, had clung to the larger floats of ice
in such wise as to secure immunity from their attack, but she could not
much longer afford to drift with them too far to sea. She would have
again met that tide perchance which first brought her northward, and
besides she realized that, nearer in shore, a back setting tide might
help her on her difficult return.
The moment had come for her to venture out upon the broken waves, and
auspiciously as she shot her canoe from behind a barrier of ice to
which she had tenaciously held, the sun again opened the canopy of the
sky, and a light shaft flung athwart her boat seemed propitious to her
She had already passed over miles of water from the glacier’s edge and
her encouraged heart grew hopeful. She left the friendly berg and
directed her boat eastward against the waves. She worked the sea-worthy
little dug-out with temerity and skill. She sat looking forward and
her keen eyes, helped now by the renewed sunlight, watched the crested
waves, their slanting or direct approach, and while she resisted
their tendency to carry her from the shore, she so far permitted them
to neutralize her advance, as was necessary to avert the danger of
It was a clever and strong series of efforts, and to the sympathetic
spirits watching her from some asylum in the skies her success must
have elicited approving nods.
Slowly as the night fell the lapsing wind faded away; the sun’s parting
rays piercing the higher atmosphere, left the cold world in darkness;
spectral and terrifying shadows stole over the ice fields and one
by one the stars in the firmament lit their everlasting vigils, and
Lhatto, still struggling with the waves, moved silently shoreward,
almost despairing with fatigue, but calling, in her brave primeval
heart, upon all the powers of the blue black dome above her to bring
her safely home.
All that night the tireless arms worked, and the nursed boat overcame
the distance with increasing ease; the tide, mutable with new
affections, now helped the exhausted maiden in place of opposing her,
the wind, soothed into pity by the moving spectacle, brushed her
onward with alternating puffs, and the surges on the far away shore
made themselves heard so as to direct her path. Birds from the shore
piped above her head, and ever and anon an earthy odor swept over her
bowed head, to lure her hope with reviving thoughts of life and flowers.
But Lhatto slept. Her prostrate form lay backwards in the boat, the
paddle had dropped from her nerveless hand, her seal skin cap had
slipped from the clustering hair, dark with moisture, that pressed down
upon her narrow and arched brow, the darting eyes were closed, and
as the sun again toiled upward in the east, his light, touching many
things with beauty, touched none more gently than the sleeping girl,
saved from the sea anemone, or the thronging fish or the myriad coral
beds, to be the mother of new men.
Where the opening valleys of the Fair Land turned northward into the
Dismal Country of heaped ridges, interminable peat hogs, low woods,
and scanty or puissant streams, upon an upland sparingly covered with
trees, and almost on its incline to the lowland beyond it, dwelt
Ogga–the mastodon hunter.
His house, if house it could be called, was a sort of tent of bark
with skins placed upon an interior framework of sticks and so disposed
that its doorway closed by a broad slab of bark, torn from the great
Sequoia, looked over the Dismal Country to the northwest, and the
strong eyes of its occupant could see the great glacier, and, if the
air was clear, could always see the dark minaret of Zit above it.
The spot was redolent with charm–a charm that gained in interest as
the eye turned to the ragged land north of it, where the dreary plain,
showing occasional interruptions of hillock and stream, formed a refuge
for its disappearing tenantry of mastodon and bear. By some accident
of vegetable distribution, or through some violence of weather, a
smooth clear space surrounded Ogga’s bark home.
Behind this advancing table land, a dark block of lofty trees rose
with majestic forcefulness. They were the giant trees. Their tapering
summits with arrow-like precision melted into the blue sky like a
winged flight of birds, and far beneath, the broad trunks stood in dark
colonnades, a kind of architectural vestibule to the mantling woods,
hiding, with their deep umbrageous solidity, the retreating and rising
and falling mountains.
When Ogga opened the door of his tent he could look over the steep
land ascending to the glacier, and not infrequently he watched the
mastodon moving in small herds, or a few individuals in pairs stirring
in dark patches among the low trees and bushes at the sides of rivers;
could even see their white tusks reflecting the light from the curved
ivory, could even hear their low trumpet calls increasing to brisk
short snorts, or the wash of the pond waters as their slouching bodies
entered some unfrequented pool to drink or bathe.
The sides of his tepee were partially covered with mastodon hide, and
fragments of tusk and a few large molars of the prehistoric beast lay
on the ground near his door way.
The mastodon was itself a proboscidian which had become widely
distributed through the northern half of the American Continent
at the close of the Great Glacial Day. It advanced southward and
retreated northward, if such expressions have a permissible use, with
the advance and retreat of the glacier, the great ice cap, which had
in an irregular manner, modified by position, topography and local
conditions, stretched from the highlands of Canada north and south.
Thus distended it had enveloped the present eastern, middle and western
states, withdrawing farther north as its edge extended to the West,
but in the West connected with outlying positions along the higher
altitudes of the Rocky Mountains and the Sierra Nevadas, and pressing
to the borders of the ocean at every possible opportunity.
The warm winds from the Pacific, a rise on the west coast, then as
now of the isothermal lines, contracted its western expansion. The
flora and silva of this section, thrust backward from the north by
the invasion of the ice, somewhat more encouraged here in their
resiliency against the cold, with intermittent daring stoutly defended
more advanced northern stations than did the floras and silva of the
East. In the East the long lip of the glacier hung, on the southern
boundaries of Pennsylvania, and its refrigerating influence was felt
many degrees further south.
Along the fringes of local glaciers as that of the Mountain of Zit
in the abundant vegetation–the grasses, the bushes, the aspiring
woodland–which were fed by streams, percolating through the sands or
issuing in the clay basins and losing some of the extreme cold, in
these favorite spots the mastodon congregated. They moved through the
country in small herds, frequently in pairs. A certain caution had
become hereditary, for prowling sabre-toothed cats (_Smilodon_) were
lured from warmer regions to prey upon these boreal elephants. The
method of attack which the nature of the ground made most effective
was for the cat to crouch upon some table land or shelf overlooking a
defile leading to a pool or stream, or a meadow, and blurring itself
with the brown yellowish soil, await the approach of its cumbrous
antagonist. It invariably chose the last member of the procession, or
better, a belated straggler. Leaping from its high perch, executing
springs of surprising velocity and width, it landed on the back of its
terrified victim. A struggle ensued, which not infrequently resulted in
the discomfiture of the sanguinary bandit, for unless too much engaged
or too quickly disabled, the surprised mastodon trumpeted its distress,
and this often led to a return of the bulls of the herd, in which case,
as the odds became more formidable, the vicious tiger retreated, but
never without inflicting dangerous wounds.
Its flight did not mean, however, permanent retreat. It dogged the
footsteps of the listless mastodons expecting that the wounded member
of the herd would drop behind and become an easy captive, or die
from some vital lesion. In either case the ferocious smilodon easily
completed its design.
Ogga had indeed witnessed a strange reversal of parts in these combats.
The mastodons, if there were more than one bull in the herds, seemed to
become infuriated at times, and, encouraged by numbers, turn savagely
upon the snarling pleistocene lion and chase it for long distances. The
tiger, with tail withdrawn and seized with panic, would rush headlong
away, the bristling mastodon pursuing; the heavy trampling, the impetus
of their great bodies against interfering trees or shrubs, and their
encouraging calls making a weird tumult in those silent deserts. But
such a chase was quite usually or always unavailing. The cat, springing
sideways, would vanish from view up a tree, the slope of a bank, or
even in the long grass, and the disappointed or confused mastodons,
losing sight of their enemy, would suddenly collide in an animated
throng, and, still exasperated, turn with sudden vehemence upon each
The smilodon, the terrific tiger of those young years, voracious and
blood-thirsty, was not a natural occupant of this northern zone. It was
a rare animal, though almost constantly present in the warmer seasons,
in small numbers or perhaps in single pairs. It belonged to the regions
of South America, but at that time the Isthmus of Panama had a much
greater lateral extension, and the avenues of animal migration north or
south became greatly widened. A coastal platform, torrid and moist, and
the central ridges, flanks, and successional elevations of the Rocky
Mountains offered a contrasted range of conditions for the movement to
and fro of wild animals.
Predatory animals, like the smilodon, made their way northward with
precarious and tentative advances. And the mastodon so far established
itself in South America, as to become under the modifying influences of
separation and environment the elephant of the Andes in Peru.
As Dr. Von Schenck has recorded, the Bengal tiger ranges northward to
the latitude of 52 degrees or even 48 degrees in Asia, to which point
the Polar Bear in a reversed manner descends from the north.
It is easy to conceive that contemporaneous possession of a common
ground by a hunter and carnivorous beast like the Sabre-toothed Tiger,
and the vegetable feeding elephants, would have acted as an inducement,
of varying intensity but always present, for the former to extend its
range and enter the grazing grounds, the formal metropolis of the
Ogga was an ivory hunter and he had also encountered a few displaced
walrus coming down from the Behring Sea region. The occasional pursuit
of these visitors carried him to the shores of the ocean, and so in his
zestful and industrious quest for this precious material he had become
acquainted with the trails, passes, rivers, lakes and inhabitants
of this whole land. It was his domain. The fierce inclemency of its
winters, the terrors of its storms, the temperate luxuriance of
its summers, were all known to him, and in its long and vigorous
exploration by him he had passed almost into the arid canyon country on
the east. Amid so much varied activity, from this dependence upon skill
and strength and courage, the character of Ogga had grown upward into
a structure of available and solid qualities of heart and mind, and to
him, as to all these precursory denizens, an intimacy with nature, a
perpetual companionship with the air and the ground, and the beasts,
had woven a thread of sentiment not unreal, not unusual, in the strong
fibres of his being.
It was the morning of the same day on which Lhatto hastened from the
highland to the shore, driven by an instinct or some suasion, knit in
with the destiny of races, that Ogga stood watching the chasing snow
wreaths upon the distant Zit, equipped for a new hunt for ivory amongst
the hidden mastodon in the low country before him. He was a picture of
His stature was accentuated by the spareness of his frame, its
muscular precision, and the coppery swarthiness of its hue. He wore a
skin apron and at the moment when he emerged from his tent nothing else
hid the sinewy and blended outlines of the figure, incorporated with
suggestions of endurance, pliability and action.
His face was youthful, in an Indian type, the cheek-bones high but not
relieved, the eyes set and scrutinizing, with that ineffable gaze of
mystery fitting his relations to an unborn world. His hair, black and
braided, hung about his head, and he had drawn into his wide mouth with
its thin lips a string upon which his teeth were fixed, gleaming above
a short chin carried backward into the mandibular processes of his jaw
by strong quadrangular lines. His beauty would have startled, by its
brusque combination of grace and poise and woodland variety, a drawing
room of exquisites but it would have also soon become repellent under
such artificial conditions, and would only have courted the admiration
of curiosity. Where he was, in the morning light, at the side of the
rough wigwam upon an upland on whose carpet of grass the sunlight lay
in patches, with the sombre and wonderful majesty of primeval forests,
themselves the type of an extinct time, behind him, and with that
lonely landscape of steppe and lake and river before him, its farthest
edges rising to the unmantled glory of the glacier, Ogga was superb
and invincible, and prophetic. He waved his hand significantly to the
distance and even as Lhatto had bowed and prayed to Zit, Ogga now
bent forward and with arms folded across his breast, littered some
incoherency of worship to the titular and tutelary genius of his world.
For a few moments Ogga disappeared and when again he stood at the
doorway he was accoutred for the hunt which was to be the day’s
A long knife made of green nephritic stone hung by a twisted cord about
his neck, close fitting skin trousers of fox’s or wolf’s skin, the fur
cut or burnt off to the surface of the hide, covered his legs, a belt
of mastodon skin girded his waist, held in place by two pins of bone.
A sort of shawl or mantel tied at the cincture of his neck was thrown
backward behind his shoulders. This latter element of his attire was
the entire skin of a reindeer, curtailed of its tail and legs, and
forming a sort of peak or hood above his head. A basket, holding the
pemmican-like masses which Lhatto had taken with her to the shore, some
flint-stones, or “fire makers,” and scraps of dried and powdered wood,
were fastened to his belt, and in one hand he swung a formidable spear.
This latter weapon, the insignia and instrument of his trade and
prowess, was an illustrious example of wild art. It was almost seven
feet long–the shaft made of a dense arbor-vitae wood much rubbed
and rudely ornamented with incised lines, herring bone patterns, and
circles; the shaft bore at its bifurcated or socketed extremity a
superb flat blade of walrus ivory, the tusk or canine of one of these
phocidean creatures, but despoiled of its cylindricity, and made into
an evenly tapering javelin of fatal power. Two rings of dark green
stone, cemented with pitch, held it firmly to the handle, and inscribed
upon it was a doubtful outline of a mastodon. One other implement
completed his equipment. It was a stone hammer of fair proportions,
withed tightly to a wooden handle which clasped it around its hollowed
sides, and came together beyond it. This was stuck, handle down, into
The hunter stood still, and shading his eyes, as if irresolute,
looked towards a remote oval of water which, suddenly illuminated
by the sun, threw its rays upward with the intensity of a spectrum.
His inspection of the distant spot was satisfactory. He grunted and
turned down the path. It led after a few premonitory winds straight
down the embankment, and after half a mile entered the seclusion of a
small cedar wood. The trees were not, however, in such proximity as to
preclude the sunlight. There were more or less open spaces, and here
in charming profusion grew clumps of wild anemone. Inside the wood,
the murmur of running water at a distance became quickly audible, its
faint vibrations failing to penetrate entirely the acoustic hedge of
The man hurried along with great strides and soon emerged from the
wood, which a backward glance would have discovered occupied a thin
slip of arable soil at the edges of the stormy, boulder-covered plain,
through which our Nimrod was forcing his way with impatient haste. The
scene, except for the bright sky and the copious sunlight, would have
been disquieting and dreary. It was a sort of domed eskar or gravel
heap formed by glacial agencies which had vanished. Crossing its low
crest where the trains of boulders, fragments of rock, angular and
scored erratics imparted an unmistakable glacial expression to the
whole accumulation, Ogga found himself looking into a long depression
holding now a swiftly flowing river. The stream was quite unequal in
this respect. Broad pools expanded its course in places and here its
current became sluggish or imperceptible. Releasing itself from these,
temporary relaxations, it poured over low dams of clay and sand, and
spilled in foam and cataracts to lower levels, on its certain way to
One of these lakes was near at hand. It was the water Ogga had seen
from his tent reflecting the sun’s rays. Toward it, still following
the summit of the prolonged ridge, Ogga turned his steps. The violence
or power or duration of the former ice transportation was seen by the
monoliths amongst which he moved. Great cubes of stone thrown against
each other and surmounted by others, formed veritable observatories,
while approximate alignments of huge masses brought so closely together
that their opposed sides formed alleys and corridors, in which the sun
never penetrated; impregnable shelters for fugitive reserves of ice, or
snow still remaining from the winter’s storms.
At times Ogga quite disappeared in these hidden streets, his
reappearance occurring after such an interval of time as had permitted
him to make considerable progress towards the lake. Finally, climbing
a long slope, over one aspect of which the escaping waters from above
emptied themselves in a noisy torrent, Ogga stood on the edge of a very
considerable basin. It was formed in a continuation, on a higher level,
of the eskar over which he had been moving. Receding around it were
terraces of gravel and sand and clay. The lake lay in this enclosed
pocket, a deep hole formed perchance by some torrential power of water,
or occupied at a former time by an enormous mass of ice, a fraction of
a great glacier which had become imbedded in the mud and stony debris,
and finally, succumbing to the increasing heat, had melted, discharging
its mineral burdens about it, heaping up the walls of its own prison,
until it itself vanished, its witness and transmuted form being the
lake that succeeded it. The terrace, or higher ground embracing it,
formed at points vertical escarpment, especially at its upper end,
where the river that fed it had worn down its bed through the centre of
such an embankment of wasted and foreign matter.
The lake was not unattractive. It was a sort of Arctic mere. Vegetation
in low growths of willows or alders and ashes, emphasized in the most
surprising way by an aberrant pine or even cypress, sticking up its
tall spire, covered some of its sides. In patches of grass, the Arctic
scene displayed a vigor and brilliancy that brought even from the
apathetic Ogga exclamations of interest or delight.
The hunter, emerging on this deep tarn, paused. His eyes rose above
the borders of the lake, crossed the empty plateau beyond it, and
met again far off Zit, with its iron crown, amid the discomfited and
baffled glaciers whose tardy defeat was already recorded in this vacant
ground. He seemed absorbed in contemplation when a brushing sound, the
sway of crushing branches, and a half suffocated sigh proceeding from a
bunch of birches at the head of the lake almost immediately bordering
the debouchement of the vociferous river, turned all his languor into
The next instant and the curving tusks of an immense mastodon sprang
into view from between the parting branches, and the uplifted trunk of
the proboscidean, lifted up between them, hurled outward in this arena
of devastation and utter solitude the same trumpeting note which from
its congeners in the tropics of India or Africa awoke the echoes of
the jungle and the bush. Ogga fell flat upon his chest, watching every
movement of his great quarry. The mastodon stopped at the water’s edge
and then with a renewed roar plunged into the lake. He was alone. Ogga
knew well the call. It was the cry of the desolation of loneliness.
The great beast had in some way lost his companions; diverted from
their _spoor_ or possibly attacked, it had wandered from the herd, and
with almost human desperation was struggling to regain them. The cry
was not the note of anger, its shrill vibrant hoarseness marked the
exacerbation of a sense of desertion and hopelessness.
The place where the huge creature had entered the water was not deep
but thickly encumbered with silt and sediment brought by the stream,
loaded with the dust of the attrition of the ancient rocks. Into this
unconsolidated mud the unfortunate and disturbed animal sank deeply.
Its fore quarters sank first and as its body entered the pond its
entire bulk seemed suddenly swallowed up. Its head disappeared beneath
the water. The tips of the tusks and the exsert trunk, through which it
breathed, were yet above the surface. It was visibly fighting fiercely
against engulfment, and the agitated water broke in small waves at the
side of Ogga.
The herculean strength of the mastodon won, and essaying still deeper
water, liberated from its treacherous footing, it reappeared, its head
half emergent, swimming to the opposite shore. Ogga arose on his knees,
his spear drawn tightly across his abdomen by both hands, and a smile
lurking in his face still wove its intangible tracery of pleasure about
And now the dramatic movement increased in interest. As Ogga looked
the smile vanished from his eyes, a sudden keen excitement took its
place, he leaped to his feet, his mouth opened as if he were about to
speak, but no word or syllable or sound was heard. Moving stealthily,
crouching, belly flat, upon the ground, to which in color it offered a
deceptive resemblance, Ogga saw on the opposite bank towards which the
disconcerted mastodon was now strenuously swimming, the hateful form of
the tiger-cat, the smilodon, the sabre-toothed, the vagrant savage from
Indeed the spectacle roused all the deeply seated, and through
practice, exercised instincts of the hunter. He watched, and the color
slowly ebbing from his cheeks again ebbed back, his hands clasping
the useless spear rose and fell, the surges of his emotion broke in
suspirations from his lips, the soul of the hunter realized the meaning
of that animal encounter beneath the glacial skies.
The mastodon now clambered with frequent scrambles and awkward plunges
up the opposite bank. Its footing, uncertain on the rolling stones and
pebbles, dislodged from the terrace, hardly permitted it to make much
progress. Still immersed in the water, its broad back glistening with
drops of water enmeshed in its hairy hide, it stood still, rolling its
long trunk between its tusks and emitting harsh cries of distress and
The brown heap upon the scantily clothed upland, on the very verge
of the incline up which the mastodon was endeavoring to rise, moved
cautiously forward, and Ogga could see rising and falling in the long
grass the sweeping tail of the cat; he could see the half opened jaws
of the beast of prey exposing the murderous canine that descended
from its upper jaw, curving backward, like a white stiletto; he could
even discern that masked movement of the muscles which the cat so
wonderfully controls and by which it slips along the ground with almost
imperceptible creeping of its hidden feet. Ogga saw the whitish fur of
its underside pressed out in thick folds as the animal hugged the earth
with furtive malice.
And yet the mastodon was unconscious. Perhaps if he had seen the
ambush, it would not have diverted him from his purpose. Again he
forced his huge mass out of water up the bank. The water now rose
above his hind quarters, but his shoulders were fully exposed. Again
he trumpeted, turning his head slowly around. In another instant his
eyes would have detected the smilodon. The latter had now abandoned
concealment, it rose to its full height, then sank back upon its
haunches, its whole body disappeared. The succeeding moment, as Ogga
leaped to his feet, the body of the cat was launched into the air.
Ogga saw its outspread legs, the extended claws, the tail stiffened
outward in a line with its back; his ears caught the half stifled
snarl of the descending carnivore as it rose from the bank, and
immediately they heard also the thud of its impact upon the gray and
brown prominences of the mastodon’s body. The crafty creature had
not altogether succeeded. The great impetus given to it in its wide
leap outward, and a necessary descent in a vertical line of over some
twenty feet imparted an unexpected revolution to its body. It fell
upon the mastodon but was propelled over it, and a confused jumble
of tail, legs, head and claws met Ogga’s view, as, in the excitement
of his interest, he ran forward. The terrific elastic strength of
the animal saved it from falling in the water. It recovered itself,
inflicting long lacerations in the hide of its host. Almost instantly
as it regained its own equilibrium it dashed forward to the head of its
The mastodon at first seemed shocked into immobility, the next moment
its head shook violently, its trunk with leviathan energy was swung
around and backwards, its evident design being to dislodge the invader.
To avoid this revolving sledge the cat had sprung forward and crouching
upon the frontal bones of the elephant had, with claw and tooth,
attacked its eyes. The excruciating agony drove the mastodon into a
demoniacal rage; the cat had torn away one cheek and the excavated
orbit of the elephant’s eye was drenched in blood. The mastodon,
furious and demented, turned backward into the lake, and as he turned
some rolling stone beneath his feet, some inequality or sudden
compression of the muddy floor threw him sideways. With an asthmatic
roar, his trunk still lifted above the surface, he sank, and the
imperilled cat, half immersed, clung to his head, so deeply submerged
as to deprive her of all opportunity of assault.
The cat’s position was indeed unique. The elephant had now completely
abandoned its first attempt to reach the other side of the lake.
It turned and swam into the central current, that eddied in broad
swirling vortices directly in the path of the inrushing river. The
cat perched upon its living raft was plainly disconcerted. Its own
irritable snarls mingled with the occasional whines of the mastodon;
it stirred restlessly in its unwelcome bath, its glaring eyes and
hideously distended mouth, turning upon Ogga, whose presence, no
longer concealed, seemed to add a new motive or accent of ferocity to
The exit of the water from the lake was made over a glacial dam,
forming the slope Ogga had ascended. Through this wall the corrosive
action of the stream had partially excavated a shallow channel. The
descent was still abrupt, and the overflow of the lake, which now was
excessive by reasons of the accelerated contributions from the melting
ice-barriers and fluviatile discharges from the glaciers, poured down
over it in a deep flood.
Towards this perilous avenue of escape the mastodon was moving, and the
smilodon, tamed now by the cold and its untoward position, had abated
its defiant growls. With eyes almost piteously fixed upon the shores,
its cries had fainted into disconsolate moans. Erecting itself upon its
unstable support, the head of the mastodon, which sensibly had risen
so that the mammoth could itself discover its position, the cat seemed
about to project itself upon the water and seek summary escape from its
Both had now more than half passed the centre of the small but deep
lake, and the current which had relaxed its velocity as their distance
increased to the head of the lake, began to resume its initial force
as it felt the suction of the waterfall at the foot of the expanse. At
this moment, a critical one for the smilodon, the elephant suddenly
sank completely, his trunk and the polished tips of his tusks
disappearing simultaneously. The cat, completely inundated, was swept
from its high perch, and sprawling in the water, was forced to swim to
safety. At this instant Ogga became a participant in the feral drama.
Running along the rim of the pond, he placed himself where the cat,
slowly extricating itself from the middle tide, was with difficulty
directing its way. He untied the reindeer skin from his neck, dropped
the spear, and hastily surveying the ground, chose a few plummet-shaped
stones from the numbers of stones encumbering the bank. Armed with
these he retired a short way back from the very edge of the lake, to a
low elevation. This slight prominence afforded him a clearer view and
brought the range of his efforts more directly upon the upper surfaces
of the bewildered animal. His object was evident.
The cat was now swimming directly toward him. Ogga raised his arm.
With lightning speed, with the swiftness of a hurled bolt, the smooth
missile left his hand and smashed against the skull of the smilodon.
It was followed by a rain of others. They crashed upon the creature,
they entered its eyes, they tore its skin, they broke its teeth,
they opened its back. The water foamed with their rapid impact. The
desolated beast, now reduced to suppliance, still pursued its course
to the shore. During the short intervals when Ogga searched about him
for those water-worn and ellipsoidal pebbles which furnished him with
the most effective weapons, the creature, still strong and formidable,
gained in its approach. At last its feet touched the bottom, and as
if renewed in all its tenacious instincts, dripping and shrunk, its
beautiful coat pressed upon its lank and muscular form, it sprang
forward, its horrid mouth suffused and vomiting blood.
Ogga sprang to meet it. But he held no rounded stones. Above his head
was poised a heavy boulder. As he advanced the smilodon with cowering
and subtle evasion crouched; its head lay flat upon the earth, its
long tail swept the ground behind it with eager oscillations. Ogga
rushed on. The dazed animal did not move, the great rock fell upon its
crumbling, cracking skull. The smilodon was dead.
The mastodon had reaped the reward of its nimble strategy. Relieved
of its incubus it had turned again to the opposite banks, and when
Ogga had despatched its foe, it stood on the plain, suffering from its
wounds and wailing in whistling squeaks which sounded incongruously
enough when compared with its enormous size. Its bulk was indeed
unusual, and Ogga looked at the superb tusks garnishing the huge head,
with envy. It was just then browsing, tearing up small herbs, seizing
bushes and uprooting them, and with its trunk beating them upon its own
body at the spots where its dead enemy had inflicted painful gashes.
Ogga recovered his composure. He dragged the smiloden up from the
water’s edge, replaced his shawl, picked up his spear, and hurried on
up the stream. About a mile beyond the lake, the river which fed it
broadened out in a flat, saucer-like depression full of stones and
boulders, over which it rippled and broke with musical cadences. Here
Ogga readily crossed the stream, and once over hastened back, hoping to
find the mastodon, which it was now his evident intention to secure.
The prey was more vulnerable because of its lost eyesight, though its
isolation, as Ogga well knew, would add vigor to its self-defence, and
its recent experience render it less susceptible to stratagem.
When Ogga had returned on the other side to the herbage and bushes
where he had left the mastodon, the animal had gone. It was not
difficult to trace its steps, and indeed its frequent trumpetings heard
at a distance revealed inerrantly its location. The trail led up; a
continuous ascent carried the hunter from the lower valley to a wide
and mountainous plain, extending indefinitely on all sides, and only
interrupted in its even surfaces by islands of unassorted glacial tilt.
These formed elliptical elevations. They were the unremoved relics of
a great deposit of the same material, covering this whole area, which
had resisted the pluvial agencies which had degraded and disturbed
the morainal accumulations. Their elongated shape–one axis longer
than the other, and the longer axes in all cases directed in the same
direction–showed their origin. Floods of water had at some time poured
over this terrace, gradually the streams on the surface had excavated
for themselves deeper channels, and then wearing away their banks,
had finally crossed the partitions separating them from neighboring
streams, and the confluent and united inundation had denuded and
degraded the whole plain. These residual hillocks were now the only
witnesses of the former surface and composition of the land.
When Ogga reached the level of this plain, as he glanced across it, no
trace of the mastodon was discovered. The almost naked field before him
was empty. But there had been no mistaking the heavy impress of the
prodigious feet of the mastodon, and without halting, Ogga followed the
great foot marks out into the plain. They led him directly to one of
these isolated projecting spools of gravel, and they disappeared behind
This projection was some thirteen or fifteen feet high, its upper
surface was coated with a feeble growth of grass, and its sides
incurved so that the upper rim of the mound ran outward and overhung. A
few observations only were necessary to reveal to Ogga the exhausted
quadruped sitting behind the mound preternaturally still, its hind legs
thrown sideways, its fore legs stiffly extended, and its great head,
covered with the deep furrows made by the tiger’s claws and shockingly
disfigured, where its right eye had been gouged from its socket, thrown
Ogga spoke: “He is mine;” but he watched him for many moments longer,
forming his plans, and preparing for the skillful work which would save
his words from becoming an idle boast. Again the man threw away his
cloak and basket, flung from him the heavy stone maul, retaining only
his spear and knife.
He clambered carefully to the top of the mound, examined its
circumference, and when apparently satisfied with his observation,
placed the ivory spear at one point near the edge, and on the side
above the still motionless mastodon. Then Ogga slid and tumbled down,
drew his nephrite knife from his neck and crept around to the mastodon.
The brute had remained in the same position, but its pain forced from
it deep sighs, and it trembled. Ogga’s demeanor was inspired with
daring and though his movements were governed by extreme caution, there
was not implied for an instant hesitancy or fear.
Slowly on hand and knees he approached, from behind, the strangely
inert creature; when a few paces off he bounded to his feet, tore
forward, and utterly regardless of the monumental power before him,
and its amazing superiority in strength, rushed upon its side nearest
the dirt wall. The nephrite blade was brandished in the air, its fine
edge directed forwards. With frantic energy, Ogga immediately beneath
the bleeding wound on the animal’s head, drove the stone scimitar into
the folds of its neck, and with such force, such urgency, that it was
buried to the hilt. Quick as a flash he deserted his hold, sprang
up the dirt wall, clutched its overhanging edge, where his previous
observation had located a half buried boulder, and with his hand on the
stone support, drew himself above. His spear was at his side. He seized
it and stood erect, glowing with a splendid excitement, but voiceless;
his eyes were fixed below him.
The mastodon, completely surprised, had regained its feet, convulsed
with a blind rage. It stumbled backward, and as it raised its head it
caught sight of the defiant figure above it. Pain and fury incited it.
With a stifled bellow it plunged forward, its head bent, its tusks
prominent. It had but one aim, the upheaval of the pedestal on which
Ogga awaited its attack. Again Ogga smiled. He encroached upon the
farthest margin of the diminutive table and held his spear before him
tightly clasped with both hands.
The impetus of the mastodon was extreme. As it struck the bank against
which its useless anger impelled it, the tusks buried themselves in the
earth and the vanquished monster was momentarily held, its twisted head
held firmly against the dirt by the chancery of its own impalement.
Then Ogga jumped. He sprang to the head of the animal below him, its
occipital development affording room for his support. Balanced for
an instant, he raised his spear upward and then, at the exact nuchal
symphysis, forced it through skin and between the vertebrae, cutting
the spinal cord. With a throb that shook the colossal fabric of the
beast, the mastodon rolled sidewise and fell, and its tusks ripped out
of their burial in the earth. Ogga declined with the heaving mass and
lit upon the ground. The mastodon also was dead.
The afternoon of the day had come, and neither food or drink had passed
the mouth of the hunter. He turned back to the basket with its pemmican
contents and sitting on a rock where he could see his mighty prey,
where he could also see the ice pinnacles of Zit, the long furrowed
glacier also, and just dimly, at this elevation, catch the blue hazes
of the sea where Lhatto was fighting for her life, Ogga, the hunter and
the Man, broke his fast.
The incident is one of interest to recall. In the remoteness of a
day which science unsuccessfully endeavors to fix, but with lofty
magnanimity in its indifference to economy of time, places any
where from fifty to one hundred thousand years ago, the human
species, evolved or created, catching in its face the reflection of
higher things, feeling the pregnancy of its own fate in its untold
yearnings, its misty spiritual instincts, its forming language, its
emotional power, had begun the process of subduing the earth and
all that therein is. The uses of food, the preparation of clothing,
the devices of defense and attack, the ingenuity of observation and
application, the coinage of tales and prayers and verses, the emergence
of passion and of art, of the sense of beauty, the utilization of the
hard and wearable things of the soil, of animals, its grasping after
preeminence, its deification of courage and endurance, all these
things come before us, in the prefigurement of them in this story, of
Lhatto and of Ogga. And the chances of the race, then as now, lay in
the young. Theirs was power, was ambition, was aspiration, was the
indefinable lure and reward of love. On their lips words first formed,
their minds were the conceiving minds, their hands the artificers,
and in their organs resided the sexual promises of life. And Ogga and
Lhatto were both young.
When Ogga had finished his meal, he walked away for a short distance
and at a spring softly flowing beneath a rock quenched his thirst,
leaning flat at its rim and sucking up the sparkle and the cold. The
man returned to the immense bulk of the mastodon, and began at once
to free from its skull the ivory tusks. With his stone maul he broke
in the alveolar sockets and from the shattered bone drew forth these
The night was sensibly nearer when this task was completed.
Re-installing his slender outfit, wrapping more closely the reindeer
coat about him, balancing the ivory bows over his shoulders and holding
them as well, with his spear and knife, stuck full of blood, Ogga
turned back over the plain to the river in the lower valley, on whose
bank lay the bruised smilodon. But Ogga had no intention of recovering
the cat’s skin. His way, as the waning day shot red streaks into the
sky, and the northern lights, with phosphorescent palpitation, rose
above Zit, lay across the plain more to the west, bringing him finally
much below the lake, and the cedar wood which he had traversed in the
morning. He was advancing to the shore.
As the stars lit the immensity of the black zenith, the Man had reached
the shelter of a huge erratic of such proportions and posture that,
tilted over on one side, it formed a sort of leanto. Here he rested,
casting down the ivory tusks. He swept together with his hand a few dry
fragments of wood and hurled upon them the uprooted trunks of small
trees. He took from his basket the dry tinder, struck the “fire makers”
together, holding his head close to the ground; a spark ignited the
punk-like powder, his breath fanned the little flame into a blaze, the
wood became ignited, and the ascending forks of the fire licked up
the tree trunks while they cast grotesque shadows on the granite face
behind them, and in those shadows a wavering and distorted silhouette
of Ogga himself swayed to and fro as he sang the song of the mastodon.
The great Mover stirs in the wood
His horns are white as the snow
And he makes a loud sound.
His feet are big as dog’s, his legs like trees,
The hair stands out on his breast and his back
He drinks the river dry and swims in the lake.
He must die; he must move no more;
On the plain he must die, in the wood;
In the lake; Ogga must have his horns.
Where comes the Mover? He is born of the Ice.
He has come from Zit, Where goes the Mover?
He goes through the wood, he sleeps there,
In the morning he shall come again.
No! he comes no more. Ogga has sent him away.
The river runs, the lake runs
And the Mover runs never again.
So sang Ogga, on the threshold of poetic feeling, in the days of
the Ice. His voice was not unmelodious, its chanting cry, with half
symptomatic expression, rose on the night air in that stony desert,
while the river sang too its endless lament, and, awakened from sombre
reveries, the snowy owl darted from its perch, sweeping the ground
with silver wings. Long before the light of the rising sun had built a
bridge of golden mosaic across the East upon the flaky clouds, Ogga
had left his improvised camp. The ivory tusks were secreted beneath
the rock. His reindeer mantle was again clasped about his shoulders,
and the nephrite blade which had hung about his neck was in one hand,
the stone hammer stuck in his belt, the precious basket yet holding
a remnant of its first contents under his arm, and with his other
disengaged hand he had seized the spear. He strode along the banks,
varied with many inequalities, of the murmuring river, and from his
haste seemed intent upon some well defined object. As the day dawned,
descending from the first light-touched crest of Zit with widening
circles over all the landscape, its increasing splendor fell with
a sudden flash of brightness upon a bank of white clay directly in
the path Ogga was following. The river had uncovered this nucleus
otherwise buried in superimposed stones and sand, exactly at the spot
where its waters bending southward had forced their way through the
narrow obstacle of this transverse ridge. The river delayed in its
course had formed in its eddying impatience a shallow expansion. On
the edge of this deeper pool Ogga halted. He dropped the spear and
the basket and the knife, and ran to the clay bank. He dug into the
plastic and slightly granular material, filling his closed hands with
it. Returning, he placed the knife, the spear and the hammer, which he
detached from his belt, in the shallow water, and then one after the
other, smeared and rubbed them with the sandy clay. The adherent blood
was slowly removed, and the lustrous implements became again sweet and
The man regarded them with admiration. They were his friends, his
solicitors and helpers. Used well, they returned to him in results all
his attention, and they were well formed, symmetrical, expressive, apt,
faithful, unchanged, unchangeable. His hand glided with blandishing
pressure along the keen edge of the green stone, and he placed the
ivory apex of the spear lovingly against his cheeks. He was well
pleased. Ogga laughed.
Then the man threw off his own garments and naked ran like a deer up
and down the sandy plain for the space of a mile or so, his hands and
arms now moving over his head, now shooting outwards, now falling with
resounding thwacks against his thighs. The speed and exertion were
really considerable. Ogga glowed and burned, his cheeks were hot with
flame, the drops of sweat slipped down his breast, his breath panted.
As he turned back on his last lap the man rushed onward into the water,
and splashing, half plunging, sank from sight in the cool pool.
A few yards from the shore his black hair rose above the ripples,
a dash into the shore and the ablution was finished. Then, his
habiliaments resumed, his allies, the friendly weapons, placed aright,
the young hunter strode southward to the distant shore, still miles
away, while the steppe country grew less drear and savage. The glaciers
were farther and farther away, the clouds about Zit hid its pinnacle,
the land became smoothed and green with carpets of grass, deer sprang
suddenly aside in flight through spruce and willow groves, a low hum of
waves seaward became audible, and now and then a gull flew piping above
his head to some faraway eerie. A south wind wooed him, and his heart,
by some instinct of approach to a great joy, became light and eager.
It was the afternoon of the same day that Ogga saw the sea. He saw it
limpid, shining from its mirror-like face with dazzling refulgence.
He was on a sort of knoll made by a northern outlier of the long
meridional dike which framed on its sea side the country of Lhatto–the
Fair Land. From this tubercle of rock covered with soil, he gazed
directly down upon its glassy surface. He went cautiously on, not
accustomed to the ragged descent, over split, splintered and weathered
rock cleavages. But his strength, the supple resources of his knit and
tireless body, met the unusual exercise, and Ogga at length stood upon
the shore of the Ocean.
He stood upon a flat boulder, a sort of natural stone table, and a sort
of stupor, a poetic amazement, held him stunned. The coast line south
of him was full of beauty, the beetling cliffs, their verdurous and
dependent edges, the far off headlands, bays paved with colored rock;
the coast line north of him so recently formed upon the upturned and
disordered face of nature, culminating in crystalline glory in the ice
zone about Zit–the pathless waters before him, all, all united in some
sort of appeal that eviscerated and smote him, and a nameless longing
for companionship, the endless, depthless cry for love coordinate with
the bursting fires of desire and devotion transmuted the wild man into
something noble and ecstatic.
He left his equipment on the shore and ran forward–from stone to stone
he leaped with unpremeditated cunning; his zig zag course, as he passed
from one pebble to another, brought him at last to the verge of a tiny
harbor entered by a neck of water, and fortressed by dark rocks draped
beneath with tressy sea weeds.
His pursuit was checked; he could go no further. His eyes, bright with
ardor and delight, sought out the line of pale icebergs, and then
they fell below him upon the transparent and liquid beryl lapping
languorously at his feet. And as they fell, upon their retinas
sprang the image fair and true, of a sleeping woman’s face, dark and
beautiful, amid dishevelled hair, rocking in a little boat, as in a
cradle, on the quietly heaving bosom of the sea. It was Lhatto.