THE STORY OF AB ***
Produced by Suzanne Shell, Mary Meehan, Andy Schmitt, Charles Franks and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team.
[Illustration: GREAT TRUNK SHOT DOWNWARD AND BACKWARD PICKED UP THE MAN AND HURLED HIM YARDS AWAY]
THE STORY OF AB
A TALE OF THE TIME OF THE CAVE MAN
Author of "A Man and a Woman," "An Odd Situation," etc.
This is the story of Ab, a man of the Age of Stone, who lived so long ago that we cannot closely fix the date, and who loved and fought well.
In his work the author has been cordially assisted by some of the ablest searchers of two continents into the life history of prehistoric times. With characteristic helpfulness and interest, these already burdened students have aided and encouraged him, and to them he desires to express his sense of profound obligation and his earnest thanks.
Once only does the writer depart from accepted theories of scientific research. After an at least long-continued study of existing evidence and information relating to the Stone Ages, the conviction grew upon him that the mysterious gap supposed by scientific teachers to divide Paleolithic from Neolithic man never really existed. No convulsion of nature, no new race of human beings is needed to explain the difference between the relics of Paleolithic and Neolithic strugglers. Growth, experiment, adaptation, discovery, inevitable in man, sufficiently account for all the relatively swift changes from one form of primitive life to another more advanced, from the time of chipped to that of polished implements. Man has been, from the beginning, under the never resting, never hastening, forces of evolution. The earth from which he sprang holds the record of his transformations in her peat-beds, her buried caverns and her rocky fastnesses. The eternal laws change man, but they themselves do not change.
Ab and Lightfoot and others of the cave people whose story is told in the tale which follows the author cannot disown. He has shown them as they were. Hungry and cold, they slew the fierce beasts which were scarcely more savage than they, and were fed and clothed by their flesh and fur. In the caves of the earth the cave men and their families were safely sheltered. Theirs were the elemental wants and passions. They were swayed by love, in some form at least, by jealousy, fear, revenge, and by the memory of benefits and wrongs. They cherished their young; they fought desperately with the beasts of their time, and with each other, and, when their brief, turbulent lives were ended, they passed into silence, but not into oblivion. The old Earth carefully preserved their story, so that we, their children, may read it now.
I. THE BABE IN THE WOODS.
II. MAN AND HYENA.
III. A FAMILY DINNER.
IV. AB AND OAK.
V. A GREAT ENTERPRISE.
VI. A DANGEROUS VISITOR.
VII. THE UNEXPECTED HAPPENS.
VIII. SABRE-TOOTH AND RHINOCEROS.
IX. DOMESTIC MATTERS.
X. OLD MOK, THE MENTOR.
XI. DOINGS AT HOME.
XII. OLD MOK'S TALES.
XIII. AB'S GREAT DISCOVERY.
XIV. A LESSON IN SWIMMING.
XV. A MAMMOTH AT BAY.
XVI. THE FEAST OF THE MAMMOTH.
XVII. THE COMRADES.
XVIII. LOVE AND DEATH.
XIX. A RACE WITH DREAD.
XX. THE FIRE COUNTRY.
XXI. THE WOOING OF LIGHTFOOT.
XXII. THE HONEYMOON.
XXIII. MORE OF THE HONEYMOON.
XXIV. THE FIRE COUNTRY AGAIN.
XXV. A GREAT STEP FORWARD.
XXVI. FACING THE RAIDER.
XXVII. LITTLE MOK.
XXVIII. THE BATTLE OF THE BARRIERS.
XXIX. OLD HILLTOP'S LAST STRUGGLE.
XXX. OUR VERY GREAT GRANDFATHER.
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
BY SIMON HARMON VEDDER
"HIS GREAT TRUNK SHOT DOWNWARD AND BACKWARD, PICKED UP THE MAN, AND HURLED HIM YARDS AWAY"
"AB SEIZED UPON TWO OF THE SNARLING CUBS, AND OAK DID THE SAME"
"AB SPRANG TO HIS FEET, AND DREW HIS ARROW TO THE HEAD"
"THE YOUNG MEN CALLED TO HER, BUT SHE MADE NO ANSWER. SHE BUT FISHED AWAY DEMURELY"
"AB STOOD THERE WEAPONLESS, A CREATURE WANDERING OF MIND"
"WITH A GREAT LEAP HE WENT AT AND THROUGH THE CURLING CREST OF THE YELLOW FLAME!"
"THE GIRL COWERED BEHIND A REFUGE OF LEAVES AND BRANCHES"
"UPON THE STRONG SHAFT OF ASH THE MONSTER WAS IMPALED"
THE STORY OF AB.
THE BABE IN THE WOODS.
Drifted beech leaves had made a soft, clean bed in a little hollow in a wood. The wood was beside a river, the trend of which was toward the east. There was an almost precipitous slope, perhaps a hundred and fifty feet from the wood, downward to the river. The wood itself, a sort of peninsula, was mall in extent and partly isolated from the greater forest back of it by a slight clearing. Just below the wood, or, in fact, almost in it and near the crest of the rugged bank, the mouth of a small cave was visible. It was so blocked with stones as to leave barely room for the entrance of a human being. The little couch of beech leaves already referred to was not many yards from the cave.