The cave which took my fancy lay halfway up the precipitous
side of a lofty cliff. The way to it was such that I knew no
extremely formidable beast could frequent it, nor was it large
enough to make a comfortable habitat for any but the smaller
mammals or reptiles. Yet it was with the utmost caution that I
crawled within its dark interior.
Then I returned again to the valley for an armful of grasses
and on this trip was fortunate enough to knock over an orthopi,
the diminutive horse of Pellucidar, a little animal about the
size of a fox terrier, which abounds in all parts of the inner
world. Thus, with food and bedding I returned to my lair, where
after a meal of raw meat, to which I had now become quite
accustomed, I dragged the bowlder before the entrance and curled
myself upon a bed of grasses--a naked, primeval, cave man, as
savagely primitive as my prehistoric progenitors.
Dotted over the face of the valley were little clusters of
palmlike trees--three or four together as a rule. Beneath these
stood antelope, while others grazed in the open, or wandered
gracefully to a near-by ford to drink. There were several species
of this beautiful animal, the most magnificent somewhat
resembling the giant eland of Africa, except that their spiral
horns form a complete curve backward over their ears and then
forward again beneath them, ending in sharp and formidable points
some two feet before the face and above the eyes. In size they
remind one of a pure bred Hereford bull, yet they are very agile
and fast. The broad yellow bands that stripe the dark roan of
their coats made me take them for zebra when I first saw them.
All in all they are handsome animals, and added the finishing
touch to the strange and lovely landscape that spread before my
The grazing herds moved to one side as I passed through them,
the little orthopi evincing the greatest wariness and galloping
to safest distances. All the animals stopped feeding as I
approached, and after moving to what they considered a safe
distance stood contemplating me with serious eyes and up-cocked
ears. Once one of the old bull antelopes of the striped species
lowered his head and bellowed angrily--even taking a few steps in
my direction, so that I thought he meant to charge; but after I
had passed, he resumed feeding as though nothing had disturbed
Here the ledge inclined rapidly upward toward the top of the
cliffs--the stratum which formed it evidently having been forced
up at this steep angle when the mountains behind it were born. As
I climbed carefully up the ascent my attention suddenly was
attracted aloft by the sound of strange hissing, and what
resembled the flapping of wings.
The hissing noise which had first attracted my attention was
issuing from its throat, and seemed to be directed at something
beyond and below me which I could not see. The ledge upon which I
stood terminated abruptly a few paces farther on, and as I
reached the end I saw the cause of the reptile's agitation.
And here, evidently halted in flight by this insurmountable
break in the ledge, stood the object of the creature's attack--a
girl cowering upon the narrow platform, her face buried in her
arms, as though to shut out the sight of the frightful death
which hovered just above her.
Almost thoughtless of the consequences, I leaped from the end
of the ledge upon which I stood, for the tiny shelf twenty feet
below. At the same instant the dragon darted in toward the girl,
but my sudden advent upon the scene must have startled him for he
veered to one side, and then rose above us once more.
"Dian!" I cried. "Dian! Thank God that I came in time."
Once more the dragon was sweeping toward us, and so rapidly
that I had no time to unsling my bow. All that I could do was to
snatch up a rock, and hurl it at the thing's hideous face. Again
my aim was true, and with a hiss of pain and rage the reptile
wheeled once more and soared away.
"Look at me, Dian," I pleaded. "Are you not glad to see
"I hate you," she said, and then, as I was about to beg for a
fair hearing she pointed over my shoulder. "The thipdar comes,"
she said, and I turned again to meet the reptile.
Hissing like the escape valve of a steam engine, the mighty
creature fell turning and twisting into the sea below, my arrow
buried completely in its carcass. I turned toward the girl. She
was looking past me. It was evident that she had seen the thipdar
"I hate you," was her only reply; but I imagined that there
was less vehemence in it than before--yet it might have been but
"What are you doing here?" I asked, "and what has happened to
you since Hooja freed you from the Sagoths?"
"I was again running away from Jubal the Ugly One," she said.
"After I escaped from the Sagoths I made my way alone back to my
own land; but on account of Jubal I did not dare enter the
villages or let any of my friends know that I had returned for
fear that Jubal might find out. By watching for a long time I
found that my brother had not yet returned, and so I continued to
live in a cave beside a valley which my race seldom frequents,
awaiting the time that he should come back and free me from
"But he shall not have me," she suddenly cried, with great
vehemence. "The sea is there"--she pointed over the edge of the
cliff--"and the sea shall have me rather than Jubal."
She had risen to her feet, and was looking straight into my
eyes with level gaze.
I tried to convince her that I was sincere, but she simply
couldn't forget the humiliation that I had put upon her on that
Dian certainly was candid. There was no gainsaying that. In
fact I found candor and directness to be quite a marked
characteristic of the cave men of Pellucidar. Finally I suggested
that we make some attempt to gain my cave, where we might escape
the searching Jubal, for I am free to admit that I had no
considerable desire to meet the formidable and ferocious
creature, of whose mighty prowess Dian had told me when I first
met her. He it was who, armed with a puny knife, had met and
killed a cave bear in a hand-to-hand struggle. It was Jubal who
could cast his spear entirely through the armored carcass of the
sadok at fifty paces. It was he who had crushed the skull of a
charging dyryth with a single blow of his war club. No, I was not
pining to meet the Ugly One-and it was quite certain that I
should not go out and hunt for him; but the matter was taken out
of my hands very quickly, as is often the way, and I did meet
Jubal the Ugly One face to face.
Also, I was very much piqued by her treatment of me. My heart
was sad and heavy, and I wanted to make her feel badly by
suggesting that something terrible might happen to me--that I
might, in fact, be killed. But it didn't work worth a cent, at
least as far as I could perceive. Dian simply shrugged those
magnificent shoulders of hers, and murmured something to the
effect that one was not rid of trouble so easily as that.
Presently we found a rift in the cliff which had been widened
and extended by the action of the water draining through it from
the plateau above. It gave us a rather rough climb to the summit,
but finally we stood upon the level mesa which stretched back for
several miles to the mountain range. Behind us lay the broad
inland sea, curving upward in the horizonless distance to merge
into the blue of the sky, so that for all the world it looked as
though the sea lapped back to arch completely over us and
disappear beyond the distant mountains at our backs--the weird
and uncanny aspect of the seascapes of Pellucidar balk
"Jubal," she said, and nodded toward the forest.
"Run," I said to Dian. "I can engage him until you get a good
start. Maybe I can hold him until you have gotten entirely away,"
and then, without a backward glance, I advanced to meet the Ugly
One. I had hoped that Dian would have a kind word to say to me
before she went, for she must have known that I was going to my
death for her sake; but she never even so much as bid me
good-bye, and it was with a heavy heart that I strode through the
flower-bespangled grass to my doom.
Formerly he may have been as good to look upon as the others
of his handsome race, and it may be that the terrible result of
this encounter had tended to sour an already strong and brutal
character. However this may be it is quite certain that he was
not a pretty sight, and now that his features, or what remained
of them, were distorted in rage at the sight of Dian with another
male, he was indeed most terrible to see--and much more terrible
And then the great brute launched his massive stone-tipped
spear, and I raised my shield to break the force of its terrific
velocity. The impact hurled me to my knees, but the shield had
deflected the missile and I was unscathed. Jubal was rushing upon
me now with the only remaining weapon that he carried--a
murderous-looking knife. He was too close for a careful bowshot,
but I let drive at him as he came, without taking aim. My arrow
pierced the fleshy part of his thigh, inflicting a painful but
not disabling wound. And then he was upon me.
It was a duel of strategy now--the great, hairy man
maneuvering to get inside my guard where he could bring those
giant thews to play, while my wits were directed to the task of
keeping him at arm's length. Thrice he rushed me, and thrice I
caught his knife blow upon my shield. Each time my sword found
his body--once penetrating to his lung. He was covered with blood
by this time, and the internal hemorrhage induced paroxysms of
coughing that brought the red stream through the hideous mouth
and nose, covering his face and breast with bloody froth. He was
a most unlovely spectacle, but he was far from dead.
At any rate it is only upon this hypothesis that I can account
for his next act, which was in the nature of a last resort--a
sort of forlorn hope, which could only have been born of the
belief that if he did not kill me quickly I should kill him. It
happened on the occasion of his fourth charge, when, instead of
striking at me with his knife, he dropped that weapon, and
seizing my sword blade in both his hands wrenched the weapon from
my grasp as easily as from a babe.
As he came for me, like a great bear, I ducked again beneath
his outstretched arm, and as I came up planted as clean a blow
upon his jaw as ever you have seen. Down went that great mountain
of flesh sprawling upon the ground. He was so surprised and dazed
that he lay there for several seconds before he made any attempt
to rise, and I stood over him with another dose ready when he
should gain his knees.
He was bleeding very profusely now from the wound in his
lungs, and presently a terrific blow over the heart sent him
reeling heavily to the ground, where he lay very still, and
somehow I knew at once that Jubal the Ugly One would never get up
again. But even as I looked upon that massive body lying there so
grim and terrible in death, I could not believe that I,
single-handed, had bested this slayer of fearful beasts--this
gigantic ogre of the Stone Age.
Dian! A little wave of doubt swept over me. It was quite
within the possibilities of Dian to look down upon me even were I
king. She was quite the most superior person I ever had met--with
the most convincing way of letting you know that she was
superior. Well, I could go to the cave, and tell her that I had
killed Jubal, and then she might feel more kindly toward me,
since I had freed her of her tormentor. I hoped that she had
found the cave easily--it would be terrible had I lost her again,
and I turned to gather up my shield and bow to hurry after her,
when to my astonishment I found her standing not ten paces behind
Up went her head, and the look that she gave me took all the
majesty out of me, and left me feeling more like the palace
janitor--if palaces have janitors.
I was dumbfounded--this was my thanks for saving her from
Jubal! I turned and looked at the corpse. "May be that I saved
you from a worse fate, old man," I said, but I guess it was lost
on Dian, for she never seemed to notice it at all.
She followed along a pace behind me, neither of us speaking. I
was too angry, and she evidently didn't care to converse with the
lower orders. I was mad all the way through, as I had certainly
felt that at least a word of thanks should have rewarded me, for
I knew that even by her own standards, I must have done a very
wonderful thing to have killed the redoubtable Jubal in a
After our repast we went down to the river together and bathed
our hands and faces, and then after drinking our fill went back
to the cave. Without a word I crawled into the farthest corner
and, curling up, was soon asleep.
After we had eaten again I asked Dian if she intended
returning to her tribe now that Jubal was dead, but she shook her
head sadly, and said that she did not dare, for there was still
Jubal's brother to be considered--his oldest brother.
She was not quite sure as to what I meant.
It began to look as though I had assumed a contract much too
large for me--about seven sizes, in fact.
"Yes," replied Dian, "but they don't count--they all have
mates. Jubal's brothers have no mates because Jubal could get
none for himself. He was so ugly that women ran away from
him--some have even thrown themselves from the cliffs of Amoz
into the Darel Az rather than mate with the Ugly One."
"I forget that you are not of Pellucidar," said Dian, with a
look of pity mixed with contempt, and the contempt seemed to be
laid on a little thicker than the circumstance warranted--as
though to make quite certain that I shouldn't overlook it. "You
see," she continued, "a younger brother may not take a mate until
all his older brothers have done so, unless the older brother
waives his prerogative, which Jubal would not do, knowing that as
long as he kept them single they would be all the keener in
aiding him to secure a mate."
"As you dare not return to Amoz," I ventured, "what is to
become of you since you cannot be happy here with me, hating me
as you do?"
I looked at her in utter amazement. It seemed incredible that
even a prehistoric woman could be so cold and heartless and
ungrateful. Then I arose.
"I hate you!" she shouted, and her voice broke--in rage, I
The more I thought about it the madder I got, so that by the
time I reached the valley I was furious, and the result of it was
that I turned right around and went up that cliff again as fast
as I had come down. I saw that Dian had left the ledge and gone
within the cave, but I bolted right in after her. She was lying
upon her face on the pile of grasses I had gathered for her bed.
When she heard me enter she sprang to her feet like a
Coming from the brilliant light of the noonday sun into the
semidarkness of the cave I could not see her features, and I was
rather glad, for I disliked to think of the hate that I should
have read there.
"Dian," I cried, shaking her roughly, "I love you. Can't you
understand that I love you? That I love you better than all else
in this world or my own? That I am going to have you? That love
like mine cannot be denied?"
"Why didn't you do this at first, David? I have been waiting
"Did you expect me to run into your arms, and say that I loved
you before I knew that you loved me?" she asked.
"Then you haven't hated me at all, Dian?" I asked.
"But I didn't spurn you, dear," I cried. "I didn't know your
ways--I doubt if I do now. It seems incredible that you could
have reviled me so, and yet have cared for me all the time."
"But Jubal's brothers--and cousins--" I reminded her, "how
"I had to tell you SOMETHING, David," she whispered. "I must
needs have SOME excuse for remaining near you."
"I have suffered even more," she answered simply, "for I
thought that you did not love me, and I was helpless. I couldn't
come to you and demand that my love be returned, as you have just
come to me. Just now when you went away hope went with you. I was
wretched, terrified, miserable, and my heart was breaking. I
wept, and I have not done that before since my mother died," and
now I saw that there was the moisture of tears about her eyes. It
was near to making me cry myself when I thought of all that poor
child had been through. Motherless and unprotected; hunted across
a savage, primeval world by that hideous brute of a man; exposed
to the attacks of the countless fearsome denizens of its
mountains, its plains, and its jungles--it was a miracle that she
had survived it all.
How much easier it would have been to have gone to Jubal in
the first place! She would have been his lawful mate. She would
have been queen in her own land--and it meant just as much to the
cave woman to be a queen in the Stone Age as it does to the woman
of today to be a queen now; it's all comparative glory any way
you look at it, and if there were only half-naked savages on the
outer crust today, you'd find that it would be considerable glory
to be the wife a Dahomey chief.
Yes, I was mighty proud of Dian.
I explained the various destructive engines of war which Perry
and I could construct after a little experimentation--gunpowder,
rifles, cannon, and the like, and Dian would clap her hands, and
throw her arms about my neck, and tell me what a wonderful thing
I was. She was beginning to think that I was omnipotent although
I really hadn't done anything but talk--but that is the way with
women when they love. Perry used to say that if a fellow was
one-tenth as remarkable as his wife or mother thought him, he
would have the world by the tail with a down-hill drag.
The episode proved most fortunate, however, as it gave me an
idea which added a thousand-fold to the value of my arrows as
missiles of offense and defense. As soon as I was able to be
about again, I sought out some adult vipers of the species which
had stung me, and having killed them, I extracted their virus,
smearing it upon the tips of several arrows. Later I shot a
hyaenodon with one of these, and though my arrow inflicted but a
superficial flesh wound the beast crumpled in death almost
immediately after he was hit.