by John Norman
Herjellsen’s device was deceptively simple.
Had he not been insane, had he not been an isolate, lonely, scorned, maddened, dissociated and crazed, the uniqueness, the simplicity of it, would doubtless not have occurred to him.
It was irrational.
It was as irrational as existence, that there should be such. The void was rational, space, emptiness. That there should be anything, gods or particles, that was the madness.
That there should be anything, that was the madness.
Dr. B. Hamilton, mathematician, Ph.D. California Institute of Technology, looked up, fingering the pencil.
It seemed startling, wondrous, that it should be.
As wondrous as suns and stars, the passage of light, and the slow turnings in the night of luminous galaxies.
Who could have predicted that there should be being? From what discursive statements of initial conditions and laws should such a prediction follow? And in the nothingness what entities might serve as values for those individual constants, and as values for those variables, for in the void there was nothing.
From nothing can come nothing.
Dr. Hamilton lit a cigarette, and drew on it, angrily, defensively.
But smoke cannot screen thoughts from themselves.
It did not appear to be a truth of logic, a matter of the meanings of words, or even of the possibilities of thought, that nothing could come from nothing.
Surely one could imagine nothing, and then something. It was imaginable, and whatever is imaginable is logically possible, conceptually possible.
Yet in some sense it did seem true, so true, that from nothing could come nothing.
It made no sense to call it a necessary truth, for its negation was semantically consistent, conceptually possible, and yet it seemed, somehow a strong truth, a likely truth.
Astronomers had speculated that, even now, matter grew, forming in the blackness.
Dr. Hamilton studied the smoke. It drifted upward toward the fluorescent tubes, lit from the compound’s generator.
If it could come into being, there seemed little reason to suppose it might not be doing so still.
But it did not seem likely.
The quantity of matter-energy in the universe remains constant.
This was an article of faith, of a transient science in a provisional epoch.
But it might be true.
But if it were true then matter, or its forms, or energy, or its forms, of which particles and smoke might be illustrations, and music and worlds, then the substance-whatever it might be-was eternal, coeval with space. There was nowhere for it to come from, nowhere for it to go.
Dr. Hamilton crushed the cigarette out.
Who was to say what was, ultimately, rational or irrational, for these are anthropomorphic predicates, indexed to the brain of an evolving primate, only within the last few thousand years discovering itself in the midst of mysteries.
The lights in the bleak room dimmed and then again waxed bright and soft.
Gunther, with William, Herjellsen supervising, was busy in the hut.
There was not a great deal of power needed for the apparatus. The compound generator produced ample power.
Hamilton speculated, smiling. Electric power, from a gasoline-driven engine, no more than five hundred volts, was ample to the needs of the crazed Herjellsen.
Hamilton did not care for Hegel. Yet the thought, that of Hegel, was difficult to dismiss. We are where the world has opened its eyes.
We were the first animal, to our knowledge, to wonder, to seek to learn, the first to seek not only love and food, but truth.
Men had found truths, in their millions, in its pebbles and grains, but he had not yet found its mountains.
Herjellsen had looked in a different direction. If he had not, he would not have seen what he had.
Herjellsen was mad, but he had seen it, where others had not.
It had come to him in the night, in his cell in Borga. He had screamed and laughed, demented in the cell, tearing the blankets, biting at his own flesh, shrieking with joy.
Hamilton recalled that Kekule’s hypothesis, of the ring theory of the benzene molecule, had come to him in sleep, in a dream, fraught with twisting snakes, before his own hearth. Three-quarters of organic chemistry, some thought, derived, directly or indirectly, from Kekule’s hypothesis. Herjellsen’s had come to him in a madman’s cell. There is no rational procedure for the discovery of hypotheses. There are no machines to produce them. They come as gifts, and sometimes to the mad, to the diseased and crazed, as to Herjellsen. But the procedures for testing hypotheses, be they real hypotheses, if they are genuine hypotheses of science, are public, accessible. The objectivity of science lies not in its genesis, but in its warrants for validity, its procedures for examination and testing, for experiment and confirmation, for, to the extent possible, proof and demonstration. Hamilton was terrified, yet exalted.
It was possible that the Herjellsen conjecture was true.
The preliminary tests had been affirmative.
Again the fluorescent tubing dimmed and then again resumed its normal degree of illumination.
The artifact lay not more than a yard from Hamilton’s hand.
It was rounded, chipped, roughly polished; it weighed 2.1 kilograms. Anthropologists would have referred to it as a tool. It was a weapon.
That there was something, that was the madness.
Who was to say what was natural and what was not? That there was something was undeniable.
Its nature had not yet been ascertained.
Hamilton arose, pushing back the chair.
A remark of Julian Huxley was difficult to dismiss from the mind.
The universe may not only be queerer than we suppose, but it may be queerer than we can suppose.
Laughter is the shield. Humor is the buckler against madness, against the mystery, against the immensity. Humanity had little else with which it might protect itself in the forest. It had its brains, its hands, a bit of fury, a loneliness for love, and its laughter. And that laughter, like the gravitational field of a pencil on a desk, miniscule and yet profound, might be heard to the ends of space.
We are smaller than stars but the magnitude of our laughter has not yet been measured.
All that we know rests upon a slender data base, our first-person experiences, and nothing else. Each of us in this sense is alone, in his cage of sensation, limited to his own perceptions. And each of us, a perception to the other, builds his view of the world.
Hamilton was lonely.
How do we explain the succession, the continuity of our experiences. We postulate an external world of such-and-such a type. In various times and places we would have entertained postulations quite different from those which are now taken to define the truth, and beyond their perimeters we define madness:
Herjellsen had ventured beyond the perimeters of the given speculations, the customary postulations, those postulations that define not only what answers may be given but what questions may be asked.
Particles and forces, gods and demons, fields, purposes, collisions, all had served, and some still served, to make sense out of the chaos of sensation, that which must be reconciled and accounted for, our experiences.
Science is not a set of answers, Herjellsen had once told Hamilton; it is a methodology.
We learn from Egyptian star charts that the positions of the fixed stars have changed in the past five thousand years.
They change position slowly.
So, too, with the dogmatisms of science; what seemed eternal truth when the Parthenon was fresh seems now but a mood of cognition, a moment of advance, a footstep on a path whose destination is not yet understood.
Perhaps a thousand years from now, Hamilton thought, we will see that our current truths, too, were not the eternal verities we took them for, but rather another step on the same journey, leading perhaps toward a truth we do not now understand and may forever fail to comprehend. We must not despise ourselves, Herjellsen had cried, even though we shall pass, and shall be superseded in our turn, for we are a moment in a grand journey, one that began in the caves and must someday, if we do not slay ourselves, take us to the stars.
I have an appointment, he had laughed, with Arcturus, and with infinities beyond.
But Herjellsen was dying.
He was mad.
Hamilton went to the door of the room, and looked out into the Rhodesian night.
The work of Herjellsen had nothing to do with the stars.
Why should he insist that it did? He was mad.
Hamilton looked back at the artifact on the table. It weighed 2.1 kilograms. Anthropologists would have termed it a tool. It was a weapon.
Herjellsen’s work did not have to do with the stars.
What is on the other side of our sensations? Is it truly atoms and the void, or is it an alternative reality?
We may only postulate, and test.
Hamilton could hear the generator now. A black servant was crossing the compound, a box on his shoulder.
There were only two blacks in the compound. The moon seemed bright over the high, wire fence.
Hamilton stepped out on the porch. It would not be wise to stay outdoors too long. It was late in summer.
Hamilton looked at the moon. Then, Hamilton looked at the stars.
There was. a reality. It was only that its nature had not yet been ascertained.
It was, Hamilton supposed, a reality beyond contingency or necessity, as we might understand such things. Such predicates were unintelligible in their application to what most profoundly existed. Hamilton thought of Scbopenhauer’s Wille, never satisfied, violent, craving, inexhaustible, relentless, merciless, demanding, greedful, incessant, savage; of Nietzsche’s Macht; of the atoms of Lucretius; of the god of Spinoza, one with the terribleness and sublimity of nature. The reality, conjectured Hamilton, is more profound than gods and men. If there be gods, they, too, are its offspring, as much as stones, and twigs and men, as much as the spaniel and the mosasaur, as much as the pain of love, the smile of a child, the gases of Betelgeuse, the tooth of the shark and the chisel of Michelangelo. It is a reality which may have spawned us, in a moment of bemusement, if only to set us its riddle, to watch us sniff about, and scratch and dig, to try to find truths which it has perhaps, in its irony, not constructed us to understand; the reality, perhaps, once fathering us, has forgotten us, leaving us to one side as a neglected toy, no longer of interest, or perhaps, a sterner father, has abandoned us that we may learn how to grow by ourselves, and be lifted only should we rise upon our own feet; seek me in the godship, it might say; I am waiting for you; but to Hamilton it seemed that the reality, what ever might be its nature, was clearly beyond morality; it was as innocent of morality as the stones of the moon, as the typhus bacillus, as the teeth of the Bengal tiger. The world was built on greed, and on killing, and hunger. To the reality doubtless the barracuda, in its way, was as perfect as the saint. The reality did not choose between them. They were both its children. Hamilton shuddered. The reality was sublime; before it even worship was an affront, a blasphemy. It wanted nothing of men. It needed nothing. It was sufficient unto itself.
But its nature? What was its nature?
Herjellsen did not know, but he had learned that its nature was not as men now thought.
Herjellsen had discovered a small thing. A clue, not well understood.
He did not know, truly, what he was doing.
But he would do it.
I do not understand this, he had said, but I see how I can use it, and I will! I will use it!
Man will go to the stars, Herjellsen had cried.
But what had the stars to do with Herjellsen’s work?
Hamilton recalled the artifact lying in the bleak room. It had little to do with the stars.
At best, it lay at the beginning of an infinity.
Yet, like zero, a nothingness, it, like each instant, both initiated and terminated an infinity.
The artifact, like each moment, was an end and a beginning, a pivot between complementary, divergent eternities.
The Romans saw this, in their sternness, their solemnity and sadness, and pride, and called it a god, and called it Janus.
I see two ways, said Herjellsen. I am Janus.
Herjellsen is mad, had laughed Gunther. Hamilton did not doubt that.
But the Herjellsen conjecture? What if it were true?
Heraclitus has seen it, had laughed Herjellsen. Hamilton’s thoughts drifted to the ancient Ionian, the poet and philosopher. I had rather discover one cause, had written Heraclitus, than become the King of Persia. He had taught all is fire. A man cannot step twice into the same river.
I believe all is pea soup, had said William. And I have often stepped twice into the same river. I stepped twice into the Thames, and once fell into it while punting.
Hamilton smiled. William made the compound bearable.
Hamilton, too, had speculated if all might not be pea soup. It seemed a plausible guess.
Herjellsen had not been offended. That all is transience, flux-fire-is only part of the teachings of Heraclitus, he had told William. And then Herjellsen had quoted the Greek, that swift, liquid tongue sounding strange in the careful, northern accents of Herjellsen-the way up and the way down are the same.
I never doubted it, had admitted William.
Herjellsen had smiled at Hamilton, lifting a fork. And the beginning, he had said, is the end, and the end is the beginning. That is what Heraclitus had seen.
I do not understand, had said Hamilton.
Time does not pass, said Herjellsen. No. It is we who pass.
Hamilton had not responded. Herjellsen, in his late fifties, bald, small eyed, the eyes seeming large behind the thick, ovoid lenses of his wire-rimmed glasses, had peered at Hamilton. Herjellsen was a large man, but short, a broad, short man, with large hands. His head was rounded and unusually large, set on a heavy neck. Yet he seemed gentle. There was usually a sheen of sweat on his forehead and cheeks, and almost always when he spoke. Herjellsen seemed to speak easily, but he was uncomfortable in doing so. He was free only when lost with his own thoughts. He seemed to fear even Hamilton. His speech, with its Finnish accent, was precise and fluent. He rarely, even in English, made a grammatical error or hesitated in his expression, or wavered in the selection of a word or gesture. His mind worked apparently with such rapidity that he spoke as though he had spoken these thoughts before. Hamilton wondered if he had.
What if the Herjellsen conjecture were true?
Hamilton put aside the thought. The conjecture could not be true.
In a sense, though, Hamilton was willing to suppose that he had. He had conceived of them, and examined them, and then rephrased them and organized them, in the lapse of time perhaps of a syllable’s utterance, and then, as though they might have been carefully written, he spoke them. Herjellsen seemed a gentle man. It was difficult to believe that he was criminally insane, that he had, in his time, in the course of strange robberies, killed four men.
In the cell at Borga could it have been the truth that he had seen?
But Herjellsen whatever the flaws of his being, was a scientist. He well knew that self-evidence was a psychological variable, differing idiosyncratically from individual to individual, from culture to culture. Hamilton knew of men to whom it was self-evident that a piece of string forming a closed figure, in any shape, would inclose the same area. Standing on the porch Hamilton quickly lit another cigarette, and watched the lights in the window of the experimental shack. The lights in the small, rectangular, metal-roofed, stuccoed building waxed and waned with the humming whine of the generator. Such obvious falsities could be taken as selfevident by some men, at least for a time, and yet their patent falsity could be in a moment demonstrated empirically. And there had been men who had believed that motion was impossible, for nonbeing could not exist and thus, motion requiring place, or emptiness, or nonbeing, could not exist. To such men the self-evident had withstood the contradictions of their own eyes. Experience must yield to reason; fact to illusion. But Herjellsen was a scientist. He distrusted the light of reason, the flash of intuition, and more sternly in his own case than in that of others. There can be no genuine hypothesis without test. A truth must have its disconfirmation conditions.
The test sequence had begun.
The lights grew brighter in the experimental shack, and then dimmed.
What had come to him like wine, like the gift of a drunken god, the bequest and gratuity of a laughing Dionysus, inexplicably to a criminal in a madman’s cell in Borga, was now being subjected to test in a small shack in an isolated compound in the dry lands of Rhodesia, some two hundred and fifty miles southwest of Salisbury.
Hamilton thought of fire burning in the thieving hand of Prometheus.
The first test sequences had been fruitless. Herjellsen had sought perhaps a hundred tests to subject his conjecture to experiment, and each had failed; the conjecture had neither, to a rational degree, been confirmed nor disconfirmed; data had been unclear; results were irrelevant or indecisive; new procedures had been sought; and then, after months of work, found; it was only then that Gunther and William, and Hamilton, had been brought to the compound.
Hamilton regretted having come. The retainer had been impossible to resist, and Hamilton, in the tense job market, had been without position. The position was to last four weeks. Already Hamilton had been at the compound more than two months. The supply truck no longer came. Herjellsen himself, in his British Land Rover, to which he kept the keys, made overland journeys to Salisbury and back, taking Gunther and William with him. Hamilton was not permitted to accompany them. Hamilton had received traveling expenses from California and an initial fee of four hundred British pounds. But Hamilton had received nothing further. Hamilton wanted to return to the United States.
“We need you,” had said Herjellsen. “You may not leave now.”
“I will tell you who Herjellsen is,” had said Gunther, speaking to Hamilton privately. He showed Hamilton, too, the clippings, the police bills.
Hamilton was not permitted outside the compound. The blacks saw that Hamilton remained in the compound.
“Do your work, Doctor Hamilton,” had said Herjellsen. “We need you.” Sweat had broken out on his broad forehead. His hands had opened and closed.
“I will walk you to the shed,” had said Gunther.
“No,” Hamilton had said. “I will go alone.” Hamilton feared Gunther. Hamilton did not care for Gunther’s eyes. They frightened Hamilton.
Hamilton threw away the cigarette, onto the dry dust of the compound.
The high wire fence about the compound was said to protect the compound from animals. It was electrified. Hamilton was not permitted beyond the fence.
Prometheus had stolen fire. Herjellsen was kindling it.
The Greeks were not children. The legend of Prometheus was not a child’s explanation for man’s possession of fire. It said rather that fire was what would make men akin to the gods, and like unto the gods themselves. It would bring them above the beasts. It might take them, in the eruptions of flaming engines, to the stars.
And the Greeks were wary, for this might be pride in men, and carry in it the seeds of their downfall. Prometheus had expiated his crime, chained to a rock in Scythia, his body prey to the avenging eagle of Zeus, but while he screamed in the sun, beneath the beak and talons, the ships, in their thousands, carrying coals of fire, set forth from the rocky inlets, to colonize a world.
Man will go to the stars, had cried Herjellsen. He will put his flags, and his children, beyond the perimeter of Orion; he will make his camps on the shores of Ursa and build cities in the archipelagoes of Antares and Andromeda.
Hamilton wondered if Prometheus might have regretted his decision.
Herjellsen sometimes spoke of Prometheus.
“Did he regret his decision?” had asked Hamilton of Herjellsen, amused, for Herjellsen seemed to take such tales seriously.
“I do not regret what I have done,” had said Herjellsen.
Hamilton had not pressed the matter further. Nothing more had been said at the meal.
Herjellsen was mad.
He was also a dying man. He had angina pectoris, and was subject to attacks of increasing severity. He drove himself cruelly, foolishly, mercilessly.
The generator whined to a halt.
The lights in the experimental shack went out.
Hamilton was startled.
The four light bulbs, set on poles about the compound, had been extinguished, and the dust of the compound was no longer the bleak, bright reflecting surface that it had been, hot, hard and yellow, but now, in the light of the African moon was white and cold.
The door to the shack opened. One of the blacks, a lantern swinging in his hand, went to the door. William slipped from the door, swiftly.
He passed Hamilton. “I must get my bag,” he said.
“What is wrong?” asked Hamilton, frightened.
“It’s the old man,” he said.
William had gone to the hut he shared with Gunther. In a moment he emerged, carrying his bag.
William was a physician. He had practiced in London. He was also a gifted mathematician. Many of the equation resolution procedures which Hamilton had programmed into Herjellsen’s analyzer, a modified 1180 device, had been provided by William. A condition of Hamilton’s employment had been, oddly, a medical examination in William’s London office. “The employer,” had said William, indicating the man Hamilton was later to learn was Herjellsen, “requires excellent health in those working in his service.” Hamilton had understood that the employer’s facility was in Rhodesia, in an out of the way area, and that medical facilities would not be readily available. Hamilton had been surprised to learn, later, that William was a member of the staff at the compound. He had arrived, returning to the compound, the day before Hamilton. Gunther, and Herjellsen, and the blacks, had been waiting. His quarters were well stocked with supplies. He himself, Hamilton was aware, was a competent, respected physician. Medical facilities, it seemed, were quite adequate. Perhaps, Hamilton had speculated, the employer is a hypochondriac, with a phobia concerning infections, or some such affliction. But Herjellsen, Hamilton had learned, was not a hypochondriac. Indeed, he was an actually ill man, a desperately ill man who took too little care of his own body.
Hamilton moved as though to leave the porch. “Do not come to the shack,” said William sharply. It was unlike William to speak sharply.
“Oh,” said Hamilton. “Very well.” Hamilton had never been allowed in the experimental shack.
William disappeared in the door of the shack. It closed behind him. Hamilton could see the light of the black’s lantern through the white-painted window.
It had been Hamilton’s health in which Herjellsen had been critically interested. Not his own. “You are in superb condition,” had said William in his London office. “The employer will be pleased.”
The work that Hamilton had performed in the compound Hamilton had discovered could have been performed by Herjellsen himself, or Gunther. Hamilton had done a great deal of work, but it was not work which only Hamilton, of those on the staff, could have performed. The services of Hamilton, it seemed, were not, strictly, required.
“It frees us for other work,” Herjellsen had said, “and, too, should one of us be unable to function, another will be able to take his place.”
“Skill redundancy,” had added Gunther, “is policy with Herjellsen.”
“I expect to be able to function,” had smiled Hamilton.
“I am confident,” had said Gunther, “you will fulfill all our expectations.”
Herjellsen, then, with Continental gallantry, had lifted his glass of wine to Hamilton. Hamilton had looked down at the table.
But the services of Hamilton, Hamilton had come to discover, more and more, day by day, were truly not needed. Two nights ago Hamilton had, deliberately, slipped an error into the print outs. Herjellsen, in less than fifteen minutes, had discovered it.
“This was careless of you, Doctor Hamilton,” he had said, “-and obvious.”
Herjellsen himself had corrected the program and completed the run.
“I wish to leave your employment,” Hamilton had told Herjellsen that evening.
“You are needed,” had said Herjellsen.
“I am not needed,” had said Hamilton.
“You are mistaken,” had said Herjellsen.
Now Hamilton stood on the porch of the computer building and looked to the experimental shack. “For what am I needed?” had demanded Hamilton. Herjellsen had said only, “You are needed,” and then left. The experimental shack was dark, save for the light of the black’s lantern, like a flickering pool within the white-painted window. Hamilton wondered if Herjellsen were dead.
After that night, that of the computer error, Hamilton had done little work, but much reading. Herjellsen provided books. Among them were an English translation of Diogenes Laertius, the Ancilla of Pre-Socratic Fragments, translated by Freeman, from Diel’s original translations, Kirk’s book on Heraclitus, Plutarch’s Laves, the autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini, FitzGerald’s second translation of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam; Harrison’s Prolegomena to the Study of Greek Religion; in German, Nietzsche’s Also Sprach Zarathustra; Whitman’s Leaves of Grass; and the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius.
“You are needed,” Herjellsen had said.
Frightened, Hamilton looked at the fence which encircled the compound.
Hamilton was not permitted beyond the fence.
The fence was to protect the occupants of the compound from the predations of wild animals.
“It is dangerous beyond the fence,” Herjellsen had told Hamilton, and given his orders. Hamilton was not permitted by the blacks beyond the fence.
There were no animals dangerous to men in the vicinity that Hamilton knew of.
She wondered why the blacks were armed.
Hamilton was not permitted beyond the fence.
“No,” had said the black with the rifle at the gate, when Hamilton, testing Herjellsen’s order, had attempted to leave the compound. The black had not been rough. Hamilton was simply not permitted to leave.
It was not necessary for the black to threaten, or resort to his rifle.
Hamilton had looked up at the ebon face.
Frustrated, furious, Hamilton had turned about and returned to the computer building.
That night, at supper, Herjellsen had admonished Hamilton.
“My dear Doctor Hamilton,” had said Herjellsen, “you must not leave the compound. I had thought that was clearly understood.”
“I wanted to take a walk,” had said Hamilton icily.
“It is dangerous outside the compound,” said Herjellsen.
“Very well,” had said Hamilton.
Hamilton stood on the porch of the computer building. No one had emerged from the experimental shack since William had entered.
“You are needed,” Herjellsen had told Hamilton.
Hamilton looked at the high wire fence, slim strands of strung wire, lit in the white light of the great moon.
For what am I needed, wondered Hamilton.
The moon glinted on the wire.
There was a sound at the shed.
One black emerged, and then, between him and William, staggering, Herjellsen.
The two men supported Herjellsen, and made their way across the ‘compound, toward Herjellsen’s small sleeping shack.
“We can move you on a cot,” said William, supporting the short, older man.
“I can walk,” said Herjellsen, pushing him away. Then, too, he pushed away the black. Another black, he with the lantern, stood behind them.
Herjellsen stood unsteadily on the dust of the compound, hunched over with pain. His face was tight, ashen.
“Do not help me,” he warned them.
William and the two blacks, one with a lantern, stood to one side.
Herjellsen saw Hamilton. He straightened up. “Good evening, my dear Doctor Hamilton,” he said.
“Good evening, Professor Herjellsen,” whispered Hamilton.
“Yes,” said Herjellsen, looking about. “It is a good evening.”
Gunther was still in the shack. Hamilton had not seen him come out.
“I think I shall go to my quarters,” said Herjellsen. “I am weary.”
William put out his hand.
“I need no help,” said Herjellsen, sharply.
William glanced at Hamilton.
Herjellsen wished to show no weakness before Hamilton.
“Good-night, Doctor Hamilton,” said Herjellsen.
“Good-night, Professor Herjellsen,” said Hamilton.
A voice within the shed suddenly cried, “Bring the lantern!” Hamilton was startled. It was Gunther’s voice. She had never heard such a cry from him.
Herjellsen did not move, but stood on the dust of the compound. He did not turn to the shed.
The black with the lantern rushed to the shed.
Hamilton waited on the porch.
Herjellsen stood quietly in the compound. William looked to the shed. He seemed frightened.
Gunther’s figure emerged from the shed. He was a tall man, large, broad-shouldered, blond haired, muscular, blue eyed. He was a strong man, hard, lithe, swift. He had much stamina. He enjoyed hunting, and was a superb hunter, skilled, tireless, merciless, efficient. Next to Herjellsen, whom Hamilton regarded as mad, Gunther was rated by Hamilton as the most intelligent in the compound. Gunther’s mind was brilliant. It could be, at times, as sharp and keen as surgeon’s steel, and like that steel, cold and hard; and at times, when he pleased, it could be as sardonic as acid; or, when he wished, as swift and stinging as a quirt in the hands of a horseman. Hamilton feared him. In his presence Hamilton felt uneasy, and small and weak. Before Gunther, Hamilton felt clumsy, and found it difficult to speak. What Hamilton felt, not understanding it, in the presence of Gunther, was the presence of a superior, dominant animal. Gunther was clearly stronger and more intelligent than Hamilton. “He is a bit overawing,” had joked William. Hamilton resented Gunther. Hamilton hated him. William, too, resented him. It was a bond between them, their dislike for Gunther. It was not simply that Gunther was a splendid organism, but that he made no attempt to conceal his superiority. He seemed little motivated by the conventions whereby superior animals sheath their claws and conceal their teeth. Gunther was a lion among men, a blond lion. His eyes made Hamilton angry, and afraid. He looked at Hamilton with such casual, unquestioned superiority, as though Hamilton might have been a servant, and, too, he looked at Hamilton in another way, sometimes grinning, that frightened Hamilton. He seemed so sure of himself, so strong.
“What is it?” asked William of Gunther, who stood, dazed, as Hamilton had never seen him, in the door of the experimental shack.
Hamilton was frightened.
Never had Gunther seemed so shaken. His tall, muscular frame trembled in the doorway.
Then he spoke. “The cage,” he said, “-the cage is gonel”
Herjellsen, Hamilton thought, seemed to smile, and then he began to walk slowly to his sleeping quarters.
William and the black who had attended Herjellsen waited for Gunther, who walked slowly towards them.
Gunther looked at William. “The cage is gone,” he said.
“Impossible!” cried William. William ran to the shed.
“I don’t understand, Gunther,” said Hamilton. “What cage?”
Gunther did not answer Hamilton but turned to face the shed.
In a moment William, followed by the black with the lantern, who understood no more than Hamilton, emerged from the shack.
William’s face was white. “It’s gone,” he said.
“Gunther!” said Hamilton.
But Gunther had turned away and was walking slowly toward the hut he shared with William.
“William!” cried Hamilton.
“Yes?” said William, looking at Hamilton on the porch.
“What cage is gone?” begged Hamilton.
“The one we were using in the experiment,” said William, slowly, blankly.
“What does it mean?” begged Hamilton.
“It means, I think,” said William, smiling thinly, “that the Herjellsen conjecture is true.”
Hamilton stood silently on the porch.
“Good-night, Brenda,” said William.
“Good-night, William,” said Brenda Hamilton.
“Splendid!” cried Hamilton, delightedly.
She worked at the side of the men in the experimental shack.
In the past days she had felt herself a full member of the team, welcomed and respected. She was one with them. Herjellsen was gentle, perceptive, directive. William was helpful, amusing. Even Gunther was bearable, and seemed now, for the first time, to see her as a human being. He had even, once, called her “Brenda.”
The interior of the translation cubicle, seen through the heavy, clear, plastic walls, was beginning to glow, pulsating with a diffused, photic energy; this phenomenon, Herjellsen had explained, was a concomitant of the transference phenomenon, not a manifestation of the phenomenon per se; it was related to the phenomenon derivatively, not directly; it was like the waves that are displaced by the passage of an invisible ship, not the ship but the sign of its passage; yet the photic phenomenon, like turbulence in a medium, ‘in water or an atmosphere, signaled the presence of the force Herjellsen had called P.
Gunther’s eyes blazed, looking into the cubicle.
William touched Hamilton’s arm. “Do not be afraid now,” he whispered.
“I’m not!” cried Hamilton, happily. “It’s beginning, is it not?”
She looked to Herjellsen.
Herjellsen sat to one side, in a straight wooden chair, before a wooden table. To one side was the amplifying mechanism, wires running to it from the generator, and from the mechanism to the steel hood mounted on the table. Two cables, in a loop, passed from the hood to the cubicle and back, as though a self-reinforcing cycle might be established.
Under the hood Herjellsen’s head was down. His fists were clenched.
Suddenly, for no reason she understood, Brenda Hamilton was apprehensive.
Gunther and William were intent.
There is only one reality, had said Herjellsen, in its infinite modes and attributes.
“Spinoza thought something like that,” had remarked William earlier.
“Spinoza did not understand,” said Herjellsen. “It is neither God nor Nature. It is deeper than nature, and too deep and terrible to be God.”
“What is it?” had asked William.
“The reality,” had said Herjellsen.
“I do not understand,” had said William.
“The reality-and the power,” had said Herjellsen.
“And nature, and gods,” had said Herjellsen, “and spiders and stars are but its forms, the lion and the child, flowers and galaxies, perceptions, modes, diversities, transiencies, all!”
William had been silent. It was not wise to argue with Herjellsen at certain times, in certain moods. He was at most times eminently rational, pleasant, but when the mood was upon him, the frenzy of the conjecture, one did not speak with him.
“And,” Herjellsen had cried, “the reality-the power-is as much and wholly present in a blade of grass, in the petal of a flower, as in the furnace of Betelgeuse!” He had looked wildly at William, who had not met his eyes. “And that means,” had cried Herjellsen, “that here-in my hand-in my head-as much as anywhere, as full and perfect, lies the power. We, each of us, are the reality, the power.”
“I’m sorry,” had said William. “I’m sorry.”
“There are continuities!” had wept Herjellsen. “Continuities!” His voice had trembled. “You know of continuities between heat and light and sound, and between the particles of an apple and those of a stone, and between the fluid cell in an algae in the pristine sea and the brain of an Alexander, a Beethoven, an Einstein’’
“The relevance is obscure,” had said William, hesitantly.
“Time and space are modes of intuition,” had whispered Herjellsen. “Do they exist in their own right?”
“Yes,” had said William.
“How do you know?” asked Herjellsen.
“I perceive them,” said William.
“You have begged the question,” said Herjellsen.
“I do not know what space and time are in their own right,” said William.
“Do they pertain to things in themselves?” demanded Herjellsen.
“I do not know,” grumbled William. “Perhaps they do.”
“Yes,” said Herjellsen, “perhaps they do-but perhaps they do not.”
Gunther had not spoken during this interchange, but had listened. He did not generally discuss this sort of thing with Herjellsen. He respected Herjellsen. Herjellsen was perhaps the only man whom Gunther respected.
“All that you know,” said Herjellsen, “is a succession of perceptions-indeed, you find even yourself, in so far as you dare to search-a perception and perceptions among others.”
“Perception requires a physical body-a brain,” snapped William. William was normally polite. This time he was not.
“And what is your evidence of a physical body-a physical brain?” inquired Herjellsen.
William was silent.
“Perceptions,” said Herjellsen.
William refused to speak.
“A slender ribbon of perceptions flowing among mysteries,” said Herjellsen, wearily. “All that we know are these conscious scraps, these sparks in darkness, and, to be sure, we fling out our speculations from them, reaching out, like hands to touch something real. Prom these scraps, these tiny pieces of paper, we try to construct a world, a time and a place, a map, a home in which we may feel secure. We build for ourselves, on these bits of sand, a world in which we claim to live.”
“We must do Sol” said William.
“To be sure,” said Herjellsen. “That is not at issue.”
Herjellsen looked at William intently. “You know, as a rational man, from studies in logic and mathematics, that any given conclusion follows from an infinite diversity of sets of premises, even sets incompatible with one another.”
“Yes,” said William.
“And, too,” pressed Herjellsen, “every event, accordingly, is subject to an infinite variety of explanations.”
“Theoretically,” grumbled William.
“Do you not see the consequence of these truths?” asked Herjellsen. “The world we construct, extrapolating beyond the stream of our data, to explain our ideas, our perceptions, is but one logical possibility among infinite alternatives.”
William looked away. His face was white.
“I am simply saying,” smiled Herjellsen, “let us not be dogmatic.”
William looked at him.
“You see, my dear William, all I am asking you to recognize is that we may not live in the world-within the reality-you think we do.”
“But we may!” blurted William.
“Yes,” granted Herjellsen, “we may-and we-may not.”
“Our view of the world,” said Gunther, speaking for the first time, “has given us science.”
“You argue,” said Herjellsen, “from the utility of science to the truth of its world picture.”
“Yes,” said Gunther.
“Ultimately,” said Herjellsen, “the utility of science reduces to its capacity to reconcile, harmonize and predict perceptions. Theoretically, an infinite number of intellectual constructions would be equally efficacious in this regard. Suppose, for example, that we have a thousand sciences, each with its different world picture, each with its own theoretical entities, one making use of atoms, one not, and so on, would we then have a thousand truths, each incompatible with the other?”
“No,” said Gunther, “there would be only one truth.”
“But a thousand utilities?”
“Yes,” said Gunther.
“What then,” said Herjellsen, “of utility as a guide to truth?”
“It is still,” said William, “the best we have.”
“Yes,” said Herjellsen, “I think that is true.” He smiled at William. “Only I do not find your `science’ too useful. There are many things I find of interest which it does not explain.”
“You refer, perhaps,” said William, “to reputed psychic phenomena, extrasensory perception; psychokinesis, and such?”
Herjellsen shrugged, neither admitting anything nor disagreeing with William.
“Such phenomena do not exist,” said William.
“Perhaps not,” said Herjellsen, “but it is interesting to note that, even did they exist, science as it is presently constituted could not explain them.”
“So?” asked William.
“So we must be wary,” said Herjellsen, “that we do not take as our criterion for existence what science can explain. At one time science could not explain the functioning of a magnet, at another time the falling of a stone, the digestion of food, the circulation of the blood.”
“That is different,” said William.
“Surely it is an obvious fallacy to argue from the inexplicability of a phenomenon to its lack of existence.”
“Not always,” said William.
“Explain to me,” said Herjellsen, “the fact of consciousness, the fact that when I wish to move my hand, my hand moves.”
William said nothing.
“Of these things,” said Herjellsen, “I am more certain than I am of the existence of the world, and your science cannot explain them.”
“Do you demean science?” asked William.
“I only require it,” said Herjellsen, “to be adequate to the whole of experience.” Then he looked at William. “I am confident,” he said, “that whatever may be the nature of the reality it cannot be as our science maintains it to be.”
“Why not?” asked William.
“Because of the radical discontinuity of mind and matter,” said Herjellsen.
“I do not understand,” said William.
“I am confident,” said Herjellsen, “that the same power that causes water to flow moves in the dreams of a sleeping lion, that causes fire to burn and worlds to turn guides the equations of Descartes, the stick of Archimedes, drawing its circles in the sand, that causes a seed to germinate and a flower to open its petals to the sun moves in your mind and mine.”
“Perhaps,” said William.
“The reality and the power is one,” said Herjellsen.
“What do you propose to do about it?” asked William.
“The power is in me,” said Herjellsen, “as much as in any seed, in any leaf, in any tree, in any world.”
“But what are you going to do?” asked William.
“I am going to touch the reality,” said Herjellsen.
William was silent. Then he said, “And with what tool are you going to do this?”
“With the only tool I have,” said Herjellsen, “with that which is most akin to it, most unexpected, most alien to science’s accustomed modalities.”
“And what tool is that?” asked William, skeptically.
“My mind,” said Herjellsen. “My mind.”
Hamilton could not take her eyes from the cubicle.
It was some seven feet in height, and some seven feet in length and breadth.
The walls were of clear, heavy plastic. Access to the cubicle was by way of a small, sliding panel, some eighteen inches in width, some four feet in height. It was closed now.
It seemed very primitive, somehow. But Hamilton understood its primitiveness as one might have understood the primitiveness of the first steam engine. It was simple, and crude, and yet the wonder of it was what was herein, per hypothesis, harnessed. It would have been simpler, more reassuring, could one have seen a wheel turn, a valve lift and fall, but there was little to note within save an odd play of light, a photic anomaly, now at the fringes of the cubicle, now like beads of bright water at its edges, pulsating, corruscating, then in small threads darting across the heavy plastic to join other threads, other ripples of light across the cubicle. These beads, and leapings, and threads increased. But the light was not the phenomenon, but its accompaniment. It was no more than the footprint of a summoned force, an impression, not the force, marking its passage. It was a crushed leaf, a snapped branch in its path, that was all, not the beast, not the power, but the sign, the sign of the beast, the power, the force which Herjellsen called P.
P was present.
In the cubicle was P.
Hamilton was terrified. She was a little girl crying in the night.
“Do not be afraid,” said William. He was tense.
“It is tomorrow!” cried Hamilton suddenly.
“No,” said Gunther. “No. It is like the light. It will pass. It is a subsidiary effect, meaningless.”
Hamilton shuddered. William held her arm.
“It is tomorrow,” said Hamilton. “I know it is tomorrow.”
“It is a disordering of your sense,” said William. “Part of your mind senses the presence of P.”
“It is today, too,” wept Hamilton.
“Do not be frightened,” said William. “This is similar to a temporary drug-induced schizophrenia. It is irrelevant to the experiment, the substance of the work”
William’s eyes were closed. He smiled. “I now have the consciousness of an afternoon, when I was six, in London, on a holiday. It is real.”
“It is a memory,” whispered Hamilton.
“No,” said William. “It is not like a memory. It is real, and it is now.”
“It cannot exist at the same time as now,” whispered Hamilton. “This is a different time.”
“Two times exist now,” said William. “Each is real. Both are real.”
“No,” said Hamilton.
Hamilton shook her head. Herjellsen sat silent, his head beneath the steel hood, his heavy fists clenched. He was leaning forward, tense in the wooden chair. His shoulders were hunched. The toes of his heavy shoes pressed at the boards of the floor, the black, rubber heels lifted. His body, powerful, muscular, squat, seemed then like a rock, but a rock that might contain a bomb, a cart of granite that might explode. His large head was bent, his eyes closed. He was alone under the steel hood, with the coils and receptors, with the darkness, with the tension, the straining of that large, unusual, maddened brain.
Hamilton knew that the brain emitted waves. These could be empirically verified.
They were real.
“The reality and the power is one,” Herjellsen had claimed.
“Why then,” had asked William, “do you not think you might touch the reality with electricity, or magnetism, or even the blow of your fist?”
“They are crudely intraphenomenal,” had said Herjellsen. “They are relative to the perceptual mode.”
“I do not understand,” had said William.
“They are the furniture of the room,” had said Herjellsen. “They are not the key to the door.”
But the waves of the brain were crudely physical.
But, Hamilton recalled, Herjellsen had cried out that the simplistic dichotomy between the physical and the mental was an intellectual convenience, not corresponding to what must be the case. “The dichotomy is false,” had said Herjellsen. “If it were true, the mind could not move the body or the body affect the mind. If it were true, then I could not move my hand when I wish. If it were true, I could not feel pain when my body was injured.”
“What then is true?” had asked William.
“A more useful distinction, though itself ultimately dubious,” had said Herjellsen, “is that between the phenomenal and the nonphenomenal, that between the categories and sensibilities of experience and that which exceeds such categories and sensibilities, that which is other than they.”
“Which is?” asked William.
“The reality,” had said Herjellsen, “and the power.”
“The distinction, you said,” commented William, “was ultimately dubious.”
“I think so,” had responded Herjellsen, “because the phenomenal is itself a mode of the reality; it is a way in which the reality sees itself, a perspective, perhaps one of an infinite number in which the reality chooses to reveal itself. Thus, I see no complete and categorical distinction between ourselves and the reality. Indeed, the distinction itself seems relativized to our modes of consciousness. In the reality itself such a distinction would be, one supposes, meaningless.”
William had shaken his head.
“Oh, we are quite reap” had laughed Herjellsen. “We are as real as anything that is real; it is only that there are other manifestations, other truths, other dimensions, that are quite as real as ours.”
“How do you know?” demanded William.
“I do not,” said Herjellsen. “But it seems to be likely. It seems implausible, does it not, that our handful of categories, our tiny, evolving package of sensibilities, our tiny phenomenal island of awareness, emerging from sensed, but uncharted seas, should be unique.” Herjellsen had then leaned back. “Rich as we are, I suspect,” he had said, “we are only one penny in the riches of reality.”
“What is the reality in itself?” demanded William.
“We are one thing, I suspect,” had said Herjellsen, “that the reality is in itself-but what other things the reality may be in itself I do not know.” “Is the reality to be distinguished,” had asked Gunther, “from the totality of its diverse phenomenal representations or manifestations?”
“I think so,” whispered Herjellsen. “I think that it is in itself these manifestations, but that it is, in itself, too, more.”
“This seems contradictory,” said William.
“I do not think so,” said Herjellsen. “Representations or manifestations are not like shells or costumes in which something else hides; they area way in which reality, in itself, truly, has its being; they are not other than the reality but a way in which it is; but, too, it seems probable that reality’s riches, in their unmanifested profundity, exceed phenomenal expressions. It is not that the phenomena are not reality, but that there are realities beyond phenomena. Reality contains, I suspect, depths and inexpressibilities beyond those of any set of. phenomenal configurations.”
“This is hard to understand,” said William.
“The words `in itself’ are hard to understand, perhaps unintelligible,” said Herjellsen. “Perhaps they are misleading. Let us forget them. Let us think what might be meant, not trouble ourselves with a particular semantic formulation. I am saying that there is no adequate distinction, in this matter, between real and unreal. All that exists is equally real. All that I wish to say is that there is a reality-doubtless identical with all that exists-but that this reality far exceeds our perspectives upon it, or those of other perspectives. It is, perhaps, infinitely profound and inexhaustible. There is more to it than we see. It is not that it is not as we see it, but that it is also other than we see it. And perhaps, if we held other perspectives, we would see that it was also other than we conceived it.”
“Granted these things, supposing them intelligible,” said William, “is it not your belief that in extraphenomenal reality, reality as it is apart from our particular, or some particular, mode of experience, time and space do not exist?”
“Certainly not as we conceive of them,” said Herjellsen. “Time and space, as we conceive of them, are irrational. It seems irrational both that space should be infinite, that it should have no end, and irrational, too, that it should at some boundary terminate, for what would be on the other side?”
“What of an expanding, finite space?” asked William. Hamilton’s mind had swept to a speculative conjecture common in astrophysics.
“Irrational,” said Herjellsen. “What is it expanding into?”
William looked angry.
“What if it were closed and static?” asked William.
“What would lie outside its sphere?” asked Herjellsen.
“That question would be answered ‘nothing,”’ said William.
“Yes,” said Herjellsen, “but scarcely answered rationally.” He smiled. “A sphere requires place,” he said.
“What of the Moebius strip?” demanded William.
“It, too, requires place,” smiled Herjellsen.
“I suppose there are difficulties,” admitted William.
“Too,” said Herjellsen, “consider time-it is irrational both to suppose that it had a beginning and that it had no beginning-each hypothesis affronts the intellect, challenges sanity itself.”
“So, then,” said William, “space and time are irrational?”
“Space and time, as we conceive of them,” said Herjellsen, “make little sense.”
“So what should we think?”
“We should think at least,” said Herjellsen, “that they may not be as we conceive of them.” He smiled. “They are relative, in my conjecture,” said Herjellsen, “to our mode of perception-I think it quite unlikely that they characterize, or characterize in the same way, the reality as it is apart from our sensibility. It may be that what we experience as space and time is, apart from our experience of it, quite unlike space and time.”
“This sort of thing,” volunteered Gunther, “is quite common in science, though seldom extended to space and time. The distinction between the sensibility-dependent and the sensibility-independent property is germane. Sound, for example, considered as physicalistic atmospheric concussions is quite unlike the auditory phenomenon of listening, say, to a symphony. The reality is like blows; the auditory phenomenon is music. Similarly with other properties. Consider color, as the physicalistic property of a surface, selectively absorbing and reflecting waves of light. This is quite different from the painting one sees or the blue sky. The world of physics is one of particles and motions, of invisible motions, silent, unlit, dark, hurried. But our world of experience, the human world, is bright with sound, with feeling, taste and touch, with odors, with light and color. Our sensors dip into alien spectra. Our brain is a transducer that transforms physical energies into a human experience, one congruent with the world of the physicist, and yet quite different from it.”
“You are familiar, are you not,” asked Herjellsen of William, “with the distinction between the sensibility-dependent property and the sensibility-independent property?”
“Any educated man is,” said William. “That distinction dates from the time of Galileo.”
“From the time of Leucippus and Democritus,” corrected Herjellsen.
“Very well,” said William.
“It is then my belief,” said Herjellsen, “that time and space, as we conceive them, are sensibility-dependent, a mode of our sensibility, a condition for experience, given whatever we may be. That we experience the reality spatially and temporally does not imply that the reality apart from our experience is as we conceive it to be. That we experience a bright yellow does not imply that in the physicist’s reality such a yellow, apart from our experience, exists. That we experience a symphony of Beethoven does not imply that in the physicist’s reality such music, apart from our experience, exists as we experience it. Rather it would be only a pounding on the skin. For the lobster, for the sponge, for the spider, it presumably would not exist, not as music. Similarly, of course, for them there might be beauties and rhythms that would be lost on us, we lacking the appropriate sensors, the appropriate sensibility.”
“Space and time are unreal?” asked William.
“As phenomenal reality, relative to our mode of perception,” said Herjellsen, patiently, “they are quite real.”
“Is that all?”
“Perhaps,” said William, “they are a mode of perceiving something which is doubtless quite real, or, perhaps they are themselves perceptions of something-or things-which are quite real.”
“Perhaps,” said William, “they are modes of perceiving space and time, or, if perceptions, perceptions of space and time.”
“Does the music of Beethoven, the color of bright yellow, exist in nature as you hear it, as you see it?”
“No,” said William.
“Why then do you fear to extend the distinction of sensibility-dependent and sensibility-independent property to space and time?” asked Herjellsen.
“I am afraid,” said William, “because then I would be lost.”
“Yes,” said Herjellsen, “you would then be alone-without your maps. Your very world would totter.”
“Why do you suspect that space and time are not of the reality itself, or are different in that reality?”
“Space and time, as we conceive of them,” said Herjellsen, “are irrational. Thus, I conjecture they are not as we conceive of them.”
William said nothing.
“It is interesting,” said Herjellsen, “men who conceive placidly of irrationalities are accounted sane. I who question them am accounted insane. I wonder who is truly sane and who truly insane.”
Brenda Hamilton fought the terror. She shook her head. She looked into the cubicle.
It had begun with a soft glow of light, vibrating, filling the interior of the cubicle with a fog of crystals, and then it had seemed to slip to the floor of the cubicle, like beads, like molecules forming chains of light, first keeping to the margins of the cubicle, then, strand by strand, darting across the plastic floor, until now the entire floor of. the cubicle seemed laced with light, and then, tendril by tendril, it began to climb the walls of the cubicle. Now the floor of the cubicle was covered, it seemed inches thick, with a matting of light strands, and more light, like illuminated vines began to grow about the interior of the cubicle.
But it was not the light that frightened Hamilton. It was turnings and terror in her mind.
William seemed calm. He had had the experience before. He was patient.
“There are two times now,” he said, “that are present.”
“One is a memory,” whispered Hamilton.
“No,” said William. “Both are quite real. It is like a mountain and a lake. They are times, but they co-exist.”
“That is not possible,” said Hamilton.
“It is like the parts of a picture. They are different parts but they are all now. There are two times, and they are now.”
“No,” said Hamilton.
She shook her head in terror. She recalled Herjellsen saying that time, as we think of it, did not exist in the reality.
“It is like a sphere,” said William. “It is like a transparent sphere. I see two points on one surface, each opposite the other. They are related to one another. Each is different and yet they are the same, and they are both now.”
“Is it truly that way?” asked Hamilton.
William looked at her blankly. “No,” he said, “that is only a poem, a. poem.”
Hamilton shuddered. She sought a concept, a root to grasp, a branch to seize, even a poem that might try to speak what could not be spoken.
“No metaphors from the phenomenal realm are adequate or clarifying,” Herjellsen had insisted. “It is its own reality, not ours. We cannot understand it in the modes of our perception. It is another reality.”
Hamilton shuddered. There were no charts, no diagrams, no schemas, no pictures. Nothing would be adequate. It was not our reality. It was another reality.
William smiled. “It is gone now,” he said. “Are you all right?”
“Yes,” said Hamilton.
“Frightening, the disordering of the time sense,” he said.
Brenda smiled. William, light, pleasant, cool, witty, sharp, sophisticated, was again his self. His attention was now drawn to the cubicle, watching the phenomenon of the light. Now the cubicle was almost filled with the interwoven tendrils of brightness, like beaded strands of brightness. Hamilton looked at William. “Pretty good trick, what?” he asked Hamilton, not looking at her, referring to the light.
Brenda wanted to cry out with joy. Suddenly William, in his casual manner, had made the world real again for her.
It was William’s mathematics which Herjellsen utilized. William, a physician, but gifted amateur mathematician, had, utilizing analogies from the mathematics of polydimensional spaces, developed, as a fictive sport, a jeux d’esprit of ideas, a calculus for polydimensional temporalities. He had published this privately. The slim volume had come to the attention of Herjellsen, an omnivorous reader. What had been a form of fictive play for William, an engaging pastime, a lighthearted diversion, had given Herjellsen the language, the equations, for his conjecture. Men before Herjellsen had doubted the sensibility-independent nature of space and time, notably and most famously the tiny, hunchbacked, brilliant Prussian, Immanuel Kant, but Kant had not had at his disposal the mathematics of polydimensional temporalities, and Kant had been rational in a way that Herjellsen was not. Herjellsen brought to the problem the conviction that the mind might have the capacity to touch the reality. Kant had been of the Enlightenment. Mind, for Kant, had been essentially an organ of rationalities, conscious, reflective, clear, logical, Euclidean, a sunny, felicitous instrumental mechanism, common in all men, incorporating the canons of reason, a suitable device whereby man might, within his limitations, know the true, solve problems and advance in social progress. Kant was unfamiliar with the storms of the mind, the turbulences unleashed in the Nineteenth Century, the intellectual and technological explosions, and horrors, of the Twentieth. Kant was before the teachings of Freud, the investigations of the darknesses of the mind, the first organized probings into psychic phenomena, the first organized attempts to understand what might be the nature, and the powers, some perhaps untapped, and the reaches, of this mysterious, evolutionary oddity, the mind of the human being. Herjellsen, a crazed Finn, was the first man to bring together, in a madman’s brain, the conjecture, the mathematics, and the suspicion that the reality could be touched, that the key could be found, and that it lay in the mind.
The translation cubicle was now aflame with light.
Hamilton, and William, watched it with awe.
Hamilton, glancing about, cried out. Herjellsen had not moved, but there was blood on the back of his neck, beads of blood. His collar was stained. His fists were clenched. He seemed oblivious of the world, of anything, save for one thing, the thought he held in his brain.
Hamilton looked at Gunther. He had not spoken. His eyes were closed.
The cubicle was exploding with light.
“Kill it!” cried Gunther. “Kill it! Kill it!”
Hamilton cried out with fear. William put his arm about her.
“Do not be frightened,” said William. “It is the disordering of the time sense. In a moment he will be perfectly all right. It is only his reaction.”
“It’s coming!” cried Gunther. “Give me the rifle, you fool l”
Hamilton looked at him, frightened.
“It’s dead,” laughed Gunther. “It’s dead.” He looked at Hamilton. “I killed it,” he said.
“Yes, Gunther,” she whispered.
Gunther smiled, and shook his head.
“Do you hear it?” asked Hamilton. She knew it was not an actual sound. But it began to scream in her head, a highpitched, whistling note. It began to grow louder and louder. The light seemed now ready to shatter the heavy plastic of the cubicle. Hamilton could no longer look at it. She pulled away from William, shielded her eyes. The whistling note was intolerably loud. She shut her eyes against the pain of the light and, though she knew the sound was from within her brain, covered her ears with her hands. Then it seemed her brain would burst with the note, and then it was suddenly still, absolutely still.
She opened her eyes, lowered her hands.
“Look,” said William.
The light was gone from the cubicle. It now seemed heavy, silent, very empty.
“There is nothing,” she whispered.
“No,” said William, “you are mistaken.”
“What do you mean?” she whispered.
“P is now present,” said William. “It is in the cubicle. The cubicle is now open.”
Hamilton looked at the cubicle, the heavy, sliding plastic panel. The cubicle was closed.
“It is closed,” said Hamilton.
“No,” said William. “The cubicle is open.”
Hamilton looked into the cubicle. It seemed very quiet now, absolutely still. The energies of P, asserted to be present, she knew, would not be, if they existed, in the visible or tactual spectrum. They could not be heard. They could not be seen. They could not be tasted, or smelled or touched.
“Such energies cannot exist,” she had once said to Herjellsen.
“Gravitation,” had said Herjellsen, “too, cannot be heard, nor can it be seen, or touched, or smelled or tasted, and yet it commands the motions of material bodies; it balances universes, plays with planets and guides meteors; does it not exist?”
“Of course,” had said Hamilton. “We know it does. We can see its effects.”
“And so, too,” bad said Herjellsen, “can one see the effects of P.”
Hamilton stared into the cubicle.
“It’s closed,” she whispered. “It’s closed.”
“No,” said William. “The cubicle is now open.”
Hamilton regarded the cubicle. It was three hundred and forty-three cubic feet in content, seven feet in height, width and depth, but, if William were correct, it was unfathomed in depth in another dimension. Hamilton wondered how deep was it? It was closed to three dimensions. She could see that. But, if William, and Gunther, and Herjellsen were correct, it was open to another.
“It’s there!” cried William. “It’s there!”
In the center of the cubicle, on the floor, was a small, heavy-wire cage, about a foot wide, a foot high and two feet in length. There was straw in the bottom of the cage, and a pan of water. Hamilton saw it was a trap, that had been sprung shut. It must have been baited. Inside, peering out through the cage wire, its eyes bright, was a large rodent.
Hamilton slipped to the floor, unconscious.
Gunther turned the Land Rover abruptly from the graveled road onto the plain.
Hamilton, pleased, sat between Gunther and William. It was the first time she had been permitted out of the compound since her arrival.
She, too, was now excited about Herjellsen’s work. The identification had not yet been made on the animal in the cage.
When she had learned that Gunther and William were to take the Land Rover and seek another animal, a live specimen, wild, for the third series of experiments, she had begged Herjellsen to be permitted to accompany them.
“Of course, Doctor Hamilton,” Herjellsen had readily agreed.
Hamilton had been frightened that he would refuse. She had been incredibly relieved, elated, at the readiness with which he had acceded to her request.
How marvelous it was to be outside the compound, away from the high, wire fence, the small, plain, severe buildings, of stucco and tin, the watching eyes of the armed blacks.
The Land Rover churned dust from the plain, in a stream of debris cast into the air behind it.
Gunther, his eyes narrowed, drove swiftly, too swiftly for the terrain.
Hamilton did not mind. It gave her a sense of release. She sensed the air pressed aside by the passage of the vehicle, sensed the dirt, spitting away, beneath the tread of the heavy sand tires.
On the graveled road, which passed not more than a half mile from the compound, which lay concealed from the road, the three of them had talked. William, as always, was affable. Gunther, as he usually was, was tight-upped, taciturn. Neither man wore a hat. A bag of water was slung to the right-hand door handle.
Hamilton had been permitted to come with the men. Herjellsen had willingly acceded to her request. She was fully fledged now, a member of the team.
The computer runs she had conducted on Herjellsen’s modified 1180, from data furnished by William, she had not completely understood, but she knew that they were integral to the development of the experimental sequence.
On the road, away from the compound, the men had spoken more openly with her about Herjellsen’s work, particularly William. Gunther, too, had commented from time to time. And when addressed, he responded to her questions, carefully, exactly. Hamilton leaned back. She was pleased. She was out of the compound. She could speak with the men alone, with Herjellsen not present. They seemed more communicative outside of the compound. Within the compound, they were less willing to speak freely. Though Herjellsen himself was commonly pleasant, and congenial, he tended, without meaning to, to dominate any group of which he was a member. When he was present, there was always the waiting to hear what he would say. It was not only Herjellsen’s ponderousness, his erudition, his brilliance which tended to cause him to loom among his colleagues, but also the imponderables of age and experience; he was in his late fifties; and, too, that he was their head, the leader, the determiner of action, the employer. Perhaps most simply there was the fact that he was Herjellsen, short, incisive, powerful, dominating. To him even Gunther, like a young, powerful liegeman, deferred. It was pleasant then for the hour, or afternoon, to be beyond the wire of the compound. Gunther, Hamilton and William were young. They were more of an age, were more commonly equal, and had more in common with one another than any of them might have had with Herjellsen. It was pleasant to be apart from him, his experience, his weightiness, the innocent oppressiveness of his maturity, his dominance. The three of them were young, and were now alone together, Herjellsen left behind. And, too, though she did not perhaps fully realize it, it was pleasant for another reason, for Hamilton, to be with the younger men. She sat between them, one with them, talking, with closeness. She felt very pleased to be with them, male colleagues. She did not fully understand her feelings. Perhaps it was simply the relief of being out of the compound, beyond the wire. She looked at Gunther. Suddenly he looked at her, too. Startled, she looked forward again, out the jolting, dusty, insect-stained windshield. His attention was again on his driving. If William were not present, and Gunther began to make love to her, she felt she would be unable to resist him. Gunther would not ask her if he might make love to her; he would simply begin. And she knew she would be unable to resist him. She fantasized his hands opening her shirt, unhooking her brassiere, freeing her slacks from her body, his hands then at her thighs, lifting her legs, putting her on her back across the front seat of the rover, half stripped. She knew she would be unable to resist him.
But she put such thoughts from her mind. She was a colleague, not a woman.
“I still suspect Herjellsen is a charlatan,” said William.
“It is possible,” said Gunther.
“Yet-the artifact,” said William. “It seems genuine.”
William referred to the piece of stone, spoken of by them as the Herjellsen artifact.
It was commonly kept in the computer building. Hamilton had seen it many times.
The artifact was rounded, chipped, roughly polished; it weighed 2.1 kilograms. Anthropologists would have referred to it as a tool. It was a weapon.
The artifact was the most surprising result of the first series of experiments. There had been many abortive experiments, many failures, many disappointments, in the first series. But in the first series, bit by bit, rudimentary translation techniques, relevant to testing the Herjellsen conjecture, had been conceived, developed and refined. The first object to appear in the translation cubicle, two months before Hamilton had been employed, was a piece of broken branch, seared and splintered as though torn from its tree by claws of fire. It had appeared in the cubicle blasted and smoking. The radiocarbon dating on the branch, conducted by Gunther, indicated the branch, though of an unknown wood, was contemporary. This was as it should have been. The branch had been living, had been torn from a living tree. Other results, in the beginning, were similar, though the objects collected were generally simple stones, sometimes pebbles, or chips. Most appeared stained, some half fused and glazed. Toward the end of the first series Herjellsen had, with the aid of William and Gunther, considerably refined his techniques. One of the major difficulties to be surmounted in the practical application of the Herjellsen conjecture was the coordination of diverse terms in appropriate binary combinations; many such combinations yielded nothing; one had destroyed a generator; Herjellsen spoke often of interphenomenal translation, namely, the translation of an object from one phenomenal dimension to another; speaking phenomenally, one might have said from one time and place to another; two pairs of values were stipulated, those of the translation cubicle in a compound in Rhodesia and a given time, sidereal scale, for its longitude at the moment of projected translation; the other two values, the crucial binary combinations, coordinated with the space and time of the cubicle, presented fantastic difficulties; the mind of Herjellsen was like the hand of a blind man reaching out in a dark room of incredible dimension; generally it would close on nothing; but then, once, suddenly, blasted and smoking on the floor of the cubicle had lain a branch, torn as though by fire from a tree; the hand had closed on something; this was the first successful set of coordinates; Herjellsen, with William, had studied them intensely, noting parameters and matrices, resemblances and divergencies. They had been computerized and examined from more than two hundred aspects. They were repeated, but this time yielded nothing.
“Of course,” had cried Herjellsen, “we are fools! It is phenomenal time we are translating! It is like reaching out twice to touch a moving object and expecting to touch it a second time in the same place one did at first! The equations must be adjusted, relativized!” But this did not prove simple. Primarily it was discovered that the spatial coordinate as well as the temporal coordinate alters. It was as though the blind man were trying to touch two moving spheres, each different, and touch each at precisely the same place that he had touched them before. Yet Herjellsen and William worked, and the 1180 was modified, programmed, remodified, and reprogrammed again and again. Gradually, a pattern, though one of fantastic complexity, began to emerge. The second collection, a piece of seared shale, occurred a month after the branch. From that time on collections became more frequent, more predictable. Herjellsen could not tell to what time or place his coordinates corresponded, only that they were successful in generating collections. It was as though he printed a number, possibly meaningless, on a card, and then mailed it. If there was an answer it had been an address, somewhere; if there were no answer, then he did not know if it had been an address or not; it had perhaps been nothing; it had perhaps been an address that had not responded; Ire did not know.
Toward the end of the first series of experiments notable results had been achieved. Collections had become statistically predictable. In one experiment a fragment of rock had been obtained; in the subsequent experiment its matching counterpart; this had indicated a refinement of considerable delicacy, the complexity of which would not have been possible without the modified 1180 device; the calculations, by hand, might have consumed years. It was as though the blind man were finally learning to touch the two spheres, in precisely the same places, on subsequent attempts. He did not know what places he touched, but he knew that whatever places they might be he could touch them at least twice. While William, aided by Herjellsen, fought to refine the mathematics of the Herjellsen conjecture, Gunther, partially working under the instruction of Herjellsen, partially improvising relays and circuitry, gave his attention to the sophistication of the amplifying mechanism. Specimens had been collected generally in a shattered, or seared condition, almost as though torn through atmospheres and exploded from one dimension into another. For reasons that were not clear to William and Gunther at the time, these effects were not found acceptable by Herjellsen. Coils to the translation cubicle were multiplied. Significantly, generator power was reduced; the distributions and focuses of power, as it turned out, were more significant than its amount. Most significant of all, of course, was the strange mind of Herjellsen. Though abetted and sharpened by the equations of William, though reinforced by the genius and electronics of Gunther, it was that mind, and that mind alone, that could reach out, that had the power to reach out and touch, for an agonizing moment, the reality. It is not known how we can move our hand, and yet we understand that it can be done, and do it; it is not clear whether Herjellsen was perhaps a mutant, or that he, of all men to his time, alone intuited his power, and understood what might be done; it is not known, so to speak, whether Herjellsen discovered a hand that other men do not possess, an instrument, a power, or that he was the first to discover what all men might, though it lie forever dormant, possess. The infant, weeping, alone, wished the bright toy, and lo, a hand, to his astonishment and pleasure, his own, reached forth, and drew it to him. He had learned to will, and grasp. He would never forget this. He would never understand it, but neither would he forget it. It was his now, this power.
“We will succeed!” had cried Herjellsen.
Late in the first series of experiments the success had come.
There had appeared on the floor of the translation cubicle, in a bit of water, fresh and cold, a handful of ice moss. Herjellsen had entered the cubicle, and, on his knees, had lifted it in his hands. It was delicate and cold. Each fiber was intact, and perfect. Herjellsen had wept. William and Gunther had not understood his emotion.
He had looked at them, from within the cubicle, the ice moss cupped gently in his hands. “We will succeed,” he had wept. “We shall succeed.”
Herjellsen’s interests, for no reason that was clear to either William or Gunther, were narrow. Only certain categories of equations were utilized by him, and within these categories there was investigation in fantastic depth and subtlety. It was as though Herjellsen were seeking some particular reality, some destination, some special address in the vastnesses and wastes and mysteries of the reality.
It was with a startled, and eerie feeling, that they had heard his shriek of pleasure in the experimental shack.
In the cubicle bad lain the Herjellsen artifact, the rounded, chipped, roughly polished stone; it weighed 2.1 kilograms. It was a tool, a weapon.
“Gentlemen,” bad said Herjellsen, “the first series of experiments is herewith concluded.”
“I still suspect Herjellsen is a charlatan,” said William.
“It is possible,” said Gunther.
“Yet-the artifact,” said William. “It seems genuine.”
Hamilton had seen the artifact many times. It was commonly kept in the computer building.
“You believe,” asked Hamilton of William, “that there is some trick involved in all this?”
“That certainly seems plausible,” said William, looking out the window of the Land Rover. The glass was rolled down. His face was dusty, particularly the right side. There was dust, too, on his sunglasses.
“It takes years to make such an object,” said Hamilton, archly. “Herjellsen couldn’t have made it, could he?”
“It does not take years to make such an object,” said Gunther. “Flint is a soft stone. It can be worked swiftly. Such an ax could be chipped by a skilled craftsman in forty minutes, and polished in an hour.”
“How would you know?” asked William..
“It is simply a matter of the physics of the stone,” said Gunther. “The physics of the stone makes the answer clear.”
“I had always thought it would take a long time,” said Hamilton.
“You are incorrect,” said Gunther.
“Oh,” said Hamilton.
“If such a stone can be worked quickly,” said William, “and I shall take your word for that, then it seems quite likely that the Herjellsen artifact was manufactured by our dear colleague, the amiable professor himself.”
“I do not regard that as likely,” said Gunther.
“You realize what you are saying,” said William, slowly.
“Precisely,” said Gunther.
“It could have been stolen,” suggested Hamilton.
“The stone is fresh,” said Gunther. “It bears no signs of age.”
“What better evidence that it is a fake?” asked William.
“What better evidence that it is genuine?” asked Gunther.
“If the Herjellsen conjecture is correct,” said Gunther, “the stone should be as it is, fresh, clean, newly worked.”
“That is true,” said William.
“Herjellsen, did he not,” asked Hamilton, “once stole such a stone.” She said nothing more. Gunther, when speaking to her of Herjellsen, had told her this among other things. Hamilton did not mention that it had been stolen from a museum in Denmark. A guard had been killed in the theft.
“He stole it to study it,” said Gunther.
“Why should he wish to do that?” asked William.
“I do not know,” said Gunther. “Perhaps he wished to conduct tests. Perhaps he wished only to know it thoroughly, so that he might recognize such an artifact again.”
Hamilton stared out the dusty windshield. They were now in trackless bush country. Gunther because of the terrain had slowed the vehicle. He occasionally shifted gears, the machine lurching up slopes or pulling out of sand pits. A pack of bush pigs, grunting and snuffling, scattered into the brush. The country was hot, dusty, desolate. In the back of the Rover Gunther had two rifles.
“Why would he wish to recognize such an artifact again?” asked William.
“I do not know,” said Gunther. “But I suspect, that for some reason, it is important to him.”
“He speaks often of the stars,” said Hamilton.
“What has a piece of shaped stone, the head of a primitive ax, to do with the stars?” asked Gunther.
“I’m sure I do not know,” laughed Hamilton.
He looked at her, angrily.
Hamilton was silent.
“Do you truly believe,” asked Gunther of William, “that the Herjellsen artifact is not genuine?”
“It is a fake,” said William. “All of this is a matter of tricks, a magician’s illusions.”
“Do you truly believe that?” asked Gunther.
“Of course,” said William. “I am not mad.”
“Why do you remain in the compound? Why do you continue to work with Herjellsen?” asked Gunther.
“Oh,” smiled William, “the pay is remarkably good, you know, free trip to the bush and all that, not bad for humoring the old fellow.”
Gunther said nothing. He drove on, picking his way among clumps of brush. It was toward noon. The three of them were sweating. Dust, churned up by the Land Rover, like a screen of dust, drifted behind the vehicle. They did not speak for some time.
“I do not believe the Herjellsen artifact is genuine,” said William, slowly. “It is impossible that it should be genuine.”
Gunther laughed. “I see now,” he said, “why you stay in the bush.”
“Yes,” said William, looking out the window. “What if it should be genuine?” He turned to look at Gunther. His lips were tight, thin, pale. “What, Gunther,” he asked, “if it should be genuine?”
Gunther laughed. “My dear William,” he said, “that is the difference between us! I hope eagerly that it is genuine! You, on the other hand, just as eagerly hope that it is not!”
“I do not know what I hope,” said William. “Sometimes I, too, hope that it is genuine. At other times I am terrified lest it be genuine.”
“If it should be genuine,” said William, slowly, “do you realize its meaning?”
“I think so,” said Gunther. “I think I do.” “I think I do, too,” said Hamilton.
“Be silent,” said Gunther. Hamilton flushed.
“Please, Gunther,” snapped William. “Be civil at least.” “She is an ignorant woman,” said Gunther.
“I have a Ph.D. from the California Institute of Technology,” said Hamilton angrily. “I have a doctorate in mathematics.”
“You are an ignorant girl. Be quiet,” said Gunther. “I am a colleague,” said Hamilton.
“You understand nothing,” said Gunther.
Hamilton looked at him angrily.
“You were a fool to come to the bush,” said Gunther.
“You can’t speak to me like that!” cried Hamilton.
“Quiet, little fool,” said Gunther.
“I’m needed!” said Hamilton.
“Yes, little fool,” said Gunther. “You are needed. That is true.”
“There!” cried William. “Look there!”
Gunther, in the instant that William had spoken, had seen. In the same instant he had cut the engine to the Land Rover and stepped on the brakes.
“Excellent,” said Gunther. “I had not hoped to have such luck.”
“What are you looking for?” asked Hamilton.
“An animal for the second series of experiments,” said William, “preferably a large animal, between one hundred and one hundred and fifty pounds in weight.”
“What do you see?” asked Hamilton, peering through the dusty, insect-stained windshield.
“There, in that tree, some ten feet from the ground,” whispered William, pointing, “on that branch.”
Hamilton looked closely. “It’s a calf,” she said. “A native calf. But it can’t be. It’s on the branch. And it’s dead. How could it be on the branch?”
“Look more closely,” said William.
Hamilton looked more closely. Across the body of the dead calf, half lost in the sunlight and shadows, sleepy, gorged, peering at them, was a leopard.
“Superb,” said Gunther.
“They pull their kills into the branches of trees, to keep them from scavengers,” said William. “They are incredibly powerful, lithe brutes, extremely dangerous.”
Hamilton gasped. She had never before sensed the sinuous power, its deceptive strength, the teeth, the jaws, the resilient incredible sinews of the leopard, perhaps the most agile and dangerous of the predators.
The beast lay across the body of the calf, watching them.
“You go there,” said Gunther to William. “Do not approach it. I shall circle to the back, and come within range. It will smell you, and see you, but it is not likely to attack you. If it seems to sense me, attract its attention. It will not wish to abandon its kill. If all goes well I shall have a clean shot.”
“What if it darts into the brush?” asked William.
“Then,” said Gunther, “we will have lost it.” He smiled. “I have no intention of following it into the brush.”
“Are you going to kill it?” asked Hamilton.
“You take the hunting rifle,” said Gunther to William. It was a medium-caliber, bolt-action piece, with a five-shot box magazine, with telescopic sight, of German design.
“Yes,” said William. He looked relieved.
“I’ll take the tranquilizer rifle,” said Gunther. It was a powerful, compressed-air gun, custom-made, of British manufacture, designed for the discharge of anesthetic darts.
William looked at Hamilton. “Herjellsen wants the bloody animal alive,” he said.
Gunther handed William five bullets. He himself, from the glove compartment of the Rover, removed four plastic-packaged darts. He broke two open. Both men wore side weapons, William, a revolver, Gunther, an automatic, a Luger, 9 mm., the classical 08 model.
Gunther looked at the leopard in the tree.
“Be careful,” said Hamilton to the men.
Gunther looked at Hamilton, and then he drew the keys out of the ignition, and slipped them in his pocket.
“Why did you do that?” asked Hamilton.
Gunther did not answer her. Then, to Hamilton’s astonishment, Gunther drew forth from a leather pouch at his belt a pair of steel handcuffs.
“Give me your left wrist,” he said to Hamilton.
Hamilton felt her left wrist taken in the strong hand of Gunther. She could not believe her eyes, nor her feelings. As though it might be happening to someone else, she saw, and felt, the steel of one of the cuffs close about her left wrist, snugly, and lock. In an instant the other cuff was locked about the steering wheel. She was handcuffed to the steering wheel.
“What are you doing!” she demanded.
William and Gunther were getting out of the car.
Hamilton jerked against the handcuff locked on her wrist. She was perfectly secured.
“Release me!” she cried. “Let me go!”
She looked at them, wildly.
“I’ll scream!” she cried. “I’ll scream!”
William smiled at her, the inanity of her threat. Hamilton flushed.
Gunther was serious. He glanced to the large cat in the tree, some one hundred and fifty yards away. He did not want the cat disturbed, the hunt interfered with. He glanced at William, and nodded. William, too, nodded.
“Release me,” whispered Hamilton.
William climbed back into the seat beside her, and then, quickly, to her consternation, put his left hand over her mouth, and held her right hand with his. She could utter only muffled noises. Her eyes were wild over his hand. Gunther was now reaching toward her, he had something in his hand. She felt her shirt on her right side pulled out of her slacks, and shoved up, exposing her right side, over and a bit forward of the hip.
She tried to shake her head no.
Then she felt Gunther’s hand and the needle, slap and press forcibly against her flesh. She felt the needle thrust better than a half inch into her body, and the hand of Gunther holding it into her, patiently, waiting for it to take effect. She felt dizzy. Everything began to go black. She tried to shake her head, no, again. And then she lost consciousness. She had been tranquilized.
Dr. Brenda Hamilton awakened in her own quarters. She stared at the ceiling. The half light of late afternoon, golden, hazy, filtering, dimly illuminated the room.
The white-washed interior seemed golden and dim. She looked at the arched roof, its beams, the corrugated tin. It was hot, terribly hot. She seldom spent time in her quarters before sundown.
She was vaguely aware that she lay on her mattress, on her iron cot, and that there were no sheets beneath her.
She recalled, suddenly, her trip with Gunther and William, the heat, the dust, the seeing of the leopard, her being handcuffed, tranquilized.
She was angry. They could not treat her in this fashion. Herjellsen must hear of this!
She tried to rise, but fell back, fighting the lethargy of the drug.
Again she stared at the ceiling, at the hot tin above her. She closed her eyes. It was difficult to keep them open. It was so warm.
She opened her eyes again.
The room seemed familiar, and yet somehow it was different. She moved one foot against the other, dimly aware that her shoes, her stockings, had been removed.
Suddenly she sat up in bed. The room was indeed different, it was almost empty.
She looked about herself, alarmed. She swung her legs quickly over the side of the bed. Startled, she realized she was clothed differently than she had been.
Her dresser, her trunk, her suitcases, her books, were gone. The table had been removed. The only furniture remaining in the room was three cane chairs, and her iron cot.
A mirror was in the room, which had not been there before. She saw herself. She wore a brief cotton dress, thin, white and sleeveless. It was not hers. It came well up her thighs, revealing her legs. She noted in the mirror that her legs were trim. She was terrified. The tiny dress was not belted. It was all she wore, absolutely.
She leaped to her feet and ran to the door of the almost empty, bleak room. The knob had been removed. She dug at the crack of the door with her fingernails. It was closed. She sensed, too, with an empty feeling, it must be secured, on the outside. She turned about, terrified, breathing heavily, her back pressed against the door. She looked across the room to the window. She moaned. She ran to the window and thrust aside the-light curtain. Her two fists grasped the bars which had been placed there.
She turned about again, regarding the room. It was bare, except for the three cane chairs, the iron cot with its mattress, no bedding.
She felt the planking of the floor beneath her bare feet. She looked across the room to the mirror, which had not been in the room before. It its reflection she saw, clad in a brief, sleeveless garment of white cotton, a slender, trimlegged, very attractive, dark-haired woman. She was a young woman, not yet twenty-five years of age. Her eyes were deep, dark, extremely intelligent, very frightened. She had long straight dark hair, now loose, unpinned and unconfined, falling behind her head. She knew the woman was Brenda
Hamilton, and yet the reflection frightened her. It was not Brenda Hamilton as she had been accustomed to seeing her. No longer did she wear the severe white laboratory coat; no longer was her hair rolled in a tight bun behind her head. The young woman. in the reflection seemed very female, her body in the brief garment fraught with a startling, unexpected, astonishing sexuality.
Suddenly, to a sinking feeling in her stomach, she realized that her body had been washed, and her hair combed. The dust of the Rhodesian bush was no longer upon her.
She looked at her figure, her breasts lovely, sweet, revealed in the cotton. She wanted her brassiere. But she did not have it.
She threw her head to one side. She fled from the window to the closet, throwing open its door. It, too, was empty. There was nothing within, not even a hanger.
There was no hanger; such might serve, she supposed, as a tool. Her shoes were gone, with their laces, and, too, her stockings. The bedding from her cot, was missing. Her brief cotton dress lacked even a belt.
She returned to the center of the room, near the cot. Over it, dangling on a short cord, some four inches long, from a beam, was a light bulb. Its shade was missing. The bulb was off.
Numbly she went to the wall switch and turned the bulb on. It lit. Then, moaning, she turned it off again.
She went then again to the center of the room, and looked slowly about, at the white-washed plaster, the bleakness, and then up at the hot tin overhead, then down to the thin, striped mattress on the iron cot.
Then suddenly she ran to the door and pounded on it, weeping. “William!” she cried. “Gunther! Professor Herjellsen! Professor Herjellsen!”
There was no answer from the compound.
She screamed and pounded on the door, and wept. She ran to the barred window, which bars had been placed there in her absence with William and Gunther. She seized the bars in her small fists and screamed between them. “William!” she screamed. “Gunther! Professor Herjellsen! Professor Herjellsen!” Then she screamed out again. “Help! Please, help! Someone! Help me! Please help me!”
But there was again no answer from the compound.
Dr. Brenda Hamilton, shaking, walked unsteadily to the iron cot. ‘
Her mind reeled.
“You understand nothing,” Gunther had told her. “You were a fool to come to the bush,” Gunther had told her.
“I’m needed!” had cried Hamilton.
“Yes, little fool,” had said Gunther. “You are needed. That is true.”
Hamilton was bewildered.
She sank to the floor beside the cot. She put her head to the boards, and wept.
“Here is a brush, cosmetics and such,” said William, placing a small cardboard shoe box on the floor of Brenda Hamilton’s quarters.
Brenda Hamilton stood across the room from him, facing him. She wore still the brief white garment, that of thin cotton, sleeveless.
He sat on one of the cane chairs. It was ten P.M. Mosquito netting had been stapled across the window. The room was lit from the single light bulb, dangling on its short cord from the beam.
A tray, with food, brought earlier by William, lay on Brenda Hamilton’s cot. It was not touched.
“Eat your food,” said William.
“I’m not hungry,” she said.
“I want my clothing, William,” she said.
“It is interesting,” said William. “In all your belongings, there was not one dress.”
“I do not wear dresses,” she said.
“You are an attractive woman,” said William. “Why not?”
“Dresses are hobbling devices,” she said. “They are a garment that men have made for women, to set them apart and, in effect, to keep them prisoner.”
“You do not appear much hobbled,” observed William.
Brenda Hamilton flushed.
“I feel exposed,” she said. “Another function of the dress,” she said, “is to make the female feel exposed, to make her more aware of her sexuality.”
“Perhaps,” said William.
“Give me my own clothing,” begged Brenda Hamilton.
“You are quite lovely as you are,” said William.
“Do not use that diminishing, trivializing word of me,” snapped Hamilton. “It is as objectionable as `pretty’.”
William smiled. “But Brenda,” he said, “you are quite pretty.”
Please, William,” begged Hamilton.
She looked in the mirror. It was true what William had said. She was, to her fury, very lovely, very pretty.
“Actually,” said William, “you are rather more than lovely, and certainly far more than pretty.”
“Please, William,” begged Hamilton.
“You are beautiful, quite beautiful, Brenda,” said William.
“Call me Doctor Hamilton,” said Hamilton.
“Very well,” agreed William. He looked at her, appreciatively, scrutinizing her casually, to her rage, from her trim ankles to her proud head. “You are indeed far more than pretty, Doctor Hamilton,” said William. “You are beautiful, quite beautiful, Doctor Hamilton,” said William.
Hamilton turned away, stifling a sob.
“Be careful, Doctor Hamilton,” cautioned William. “That is almost a female response.”
She spun to face him. “I am a female!” she cried.
“Obviously,” said William.
“Why am I being treated like this?” demanded Brenda Hamilton.
“Like what?” asked William.
“Why has that mirror been placed in the room?” she demanded. “Why am I dressed like this?”
“It seems strange, does it not,” asked William, “that you, an attractive female, should object to being clothed as an attractive female?”
“I do not wish to be so clothed!” she cried.
“Are you ashamed of your body?” asked William.
“No!” she cried.
“Of course, you are,” smiled William. “But look at yourself in the mirror. You should not be ashamed of your body, but proud of it. You are extremely beautiful.”
“I am being displayed,” she wept.
“True,” said William.
“I do not wish to be displayed,” she said.
“You are not simply being displayed for our pleasure,” said William.
She looked at him.
“You are being displayed also for your own instruction, that you may be fully aware of what a beauty you are.”
She looked at the mirror. “It is so-so different from a man’s body,” she said.
“Precisely,” said William. “It is extremely different, its softness, its vulnerability, its beauty.”
“So different,” she whispered.
“And you, too, my dear Doctor Hamilton, are quite different.”
“No!” she snapped.
“Being a female is a role,” cried Hamilton. “Only a role!”
“Tell that to a sociologist,” said William, “not to a physician, or a man of the world, one experienced in life.”
Hamilton turned on him in rage.
“The body and the mind,” said William, “is a unity. Do you really think that with a body like yours you might have any sort of mind, one, say, like mine or Gunther’s? Do you not think there might not be, associated with such a body, an indigenous sensibility, indigenous talents,. emotions, brilliancies? Do you really think that the mind is only an accident, unrelated to the entire evolved organism?”
“I have a doctorate in mathematics,” said Hamilton, lamely, defensively.
“And we both speak English,” said William. “I speak of deeper things.”
“Being feminine,” said Hamilton, “is only a role.”
“And doubtless,” said William, “being a leopard is only a role, one played by something which is really not a leopard at all.”
“You are hateful,” said Brenda Hamilton.
“I do not mean to be, Doctor Hamilton,” said William. “But I must remind you that what you seem to think so significant, a cultural veneer, is a recent acquisition to the human animal, an overlay, a bit of tissue paper masking deeper realities.” William looked down. “I suppose,” he said, “we do not know, truly, what a man is, or a woman.”
“We can condition a man to be feminine, and a woman to be masculine,” said Brenda Hamilton. “It is a simple matter of positive and negative reinforcement.”
“We can also stunt trees and dwarf animals, and drive dogs insane,” said William. “We can also bind the feet of Chinese women, crippling them. We can administer contradictory conditioning programs and drive men, and women, insane with anxieties and guilts, culturally momentous, and yet, physiologically considered, meaningless, irrelevant to the biology being distorted.”
Brenda Hamilton looked down.
“You are afraid to be a woman,” said William. “Indeed, perhaps you do not know how. You are ignorant. You are frightened. Accordingly, it is natural for you to be distressed, hostile, confused, and to seize what theories or pseudotheories you can to protect yourself from what you most fear-your femaleness.”
“I see now,” said Doctor Hamilton, icily, “why I have been dressed as I am, why there is this mirror in my room.”
“We wish you,” said William, “to learn your womanhood, to recognize it-to face it.”
“I hate you,” she said.
“It is my hope that someday,” said William, “you will see your beauty and rejoice in it, and display it proudly, unashamed, brazenly even, excited by it, that you will be no longer an imitation man but an authentic woman, true to your deepest nature, joyous, welcoming and acclaiming, no longer repudiating, your femaleness, your womanhood, your sexuality.”
“Being a female,” wept Hamilton, “is to be less than a maul”
William shrugged. “If that is true,” he said, “dare to be it.”
“No!” said Hamilton. “No!”
“Dare to be a female,” said William.
“No!” said Hamilton. “No! No!”
Brenda Hamilton ran in misery to the wall of her quarters. She put her head against the white-washed plaster, the palms of her hands.
“Very feminine,” said William.
She turned to face him, red-eyed.
“You are doubtless playing a role,” said William.
“Please be kind to me, William,” she begged.
William rose from the chair.
“Don’t go, William!” she cried. She put out her hand.
William stood in the room, in the light of the single light bulb. He did not move.
“Why am I being treated like this?” whispered Brenda Hamilton.
“The third series of tests will begin in a day or two,” said William.
Brenda Hamilton said nothing.
“The second series will terminate tomorrow evening.”
“Why am I being treated like this?” demanded Brenda Hamilton.
William did not speak.
“Bring me my clothing, William,” begged Hamilton.
“You are wearing it,” said William.
“At least bring me my brassiere,” she begged.
“You do not need it,” he said.
She turned away.
“Your other clothing,” said William, “has been destroyed, burned.”
Brenda Hamilton turned and faced him, aghast.
She shook her head. “Why?” she asked.
“You will not be needing it,” said William. “Furthermore it is evidence of your presence.”
She shook her head, numbly.
“All of your belongings have been disposed of,” said William. “Books, shoes, everything.”
“No!” she said.
“There will not be evidence that you were ever within the compound.”
She looked at him, blankly.
“You have never been outside of it, except once in the Rover with Gunther and me,” said William. “You can be traced to Salisbury,” said William, “that is all.”
“But Herjellsen,” she said.
“The Salisbury authorities know nothing of Herjellsen,” said William. “They do not even know he is in the country.”
Brenda Hamilton leaned back against the wall. She moaned.
William turned to go.
“William!” she cried.
He paused at the door.
“Free me,” she said. “Help me to escape!”
William indicated two buckets near the wall. He had brought them earlier. “One of these,” he said, “the covered one, is water. The other is for your wastes.”
“William!” wept Hamilton.
William indicated the tray, untouched, on the bed. “I recommend you eat,” he said, “that you keep up your strength.”
“I do not want to be a woman,” said Hamilton. “I have never wanted to be a woman! I will not be a woman! Never!”
“You should eat,” said William. “It will be better for you.”
Hamilton shook her head. “No,” she said. “I’ll starve!”
With his foot, William indicated the cardboard shoe boa on the floor. “Here is a brush and comb,” he said, “and cosmetics.”
“I do not wear cosmetics,” said Hamilton.
“It does not matter to me,” said William. “But you are expected to keep yourself groomed.”
Hamilton looked at him with hatred.
“Is that understood?” asked William.
“Yes,” said Hamilton. “It is understood perfectly.”
Just then Hamilton and William heard the two heavy locks, padlocks, with hasps and staples, on the door being unlocked. William, while within the room, was locked within.
“Who is it?” asked Hamilton.
“Gunther,” said William.
“He must not see me like this!” wept Hamilton.
The door opened. One does not knock on the door of a prisoner.
Gunther entered. Hamilton backed away, against the opposite wall.
Gunther looked at her. His eyes prowled her body. Gunther had had many women.
His eye strayed to the cot, to the untouched tray. He looked at Hamilton.
“Eat,” he said.
“I’m not hungry,” whispered Hamilton.
“Eat,” said Gunther, “now.”
“Yes, Gunther,” she said, obediently. She came timidly to the cot.
William was irritated.
“Herjellsen is nearly ready,” said Gunther.
“All right,” said William.
Hamilton sat on the cot and, looking down, began to eat.
“No,” said Gunther to Hamilton. She looked at him, startled, frightened. “Kneel beside the cot,” he said.
Hamilton knelt beside the cot, and, as she had been bidden, ate from the tray.
“She must be habituated,” said Gunther to William. “You are too easy with her.”
“When a man enters the room,” said Gunther to Hamilton, “you are to kneel, and you are not to rise until given permission.”
Hamilton looked at him, agonized.
“Do you understand?” asked Gunther.
“Even if it is one of the blacks?” asked Hamilton.
“Yes,” said Gunther. “They are males.” He looked down at her. “Is this clearly understood?”
“Yes, Gunther,” said Brenda Hamilton. She dared not question him.
Gunther indicated the cardboard boa. He kicked it toward her.
“She does not use cosmetics,” said William.
“Tomorrow night,” said Gunther to Hamilton, “adorn yourself.”
He then turned away, and left the room. “Do not lock the door,” said William. “I am coming with you, presently.”
Hamilton leaped to her feet, angrily.
“You obey him very well, Doctor Hamilton,” said William.
“Adorn yourself!” she mocked.
“I would do so, if I were you,” said William.
“I do not like this dress!” said Hamilton.
“Then remove it,” said William.
Brenda Hamilton’s hand lashed forth to strike William, but he caught her wrist, easily. She struggled to free it, and could not.
He forced her, she resisting, again to her knees.
“One thing you must learn, Doctor Hamilton,” said William, “before you think of striking with impunity, is that men may not choose to permit it. Further, such a blow might have consequences. You might be beaten, and perhaps severely.” He looked down at her. “It is important that you understand, Doctor Hamilton,” he said, “that men are stronger than you.”
At his feet Brenda Hamilton, for the first time in her life, understood truly what this might mean, that men were stronger than women.
“You are angry with me,” she said, “William.”
He looked down on her, furious.
Unable to meet his eyes, she put her bead down.
Then he turned away, and left the room.
She looked up, at the door. She knelt on the planks of the room. She heard the two hasps being flung against the staple plates, angrily. She heard two heavy padlocks, one after the other, thrust through their staples, and snapped shut.
She leaped up, and ran to the door. She put her fingernails to its crack, futilely.
She turned away from the door, and looked back into the room.
She saw the cardboard box, lying near the cot on the floor. She saw her reflection, red-eyed, across the room.
Slowly she went to the box and knelt beside it, taking a brush and comb from it and, with the brush, slowly, watching herself in the mirror, began to brush her long, dark hair.
The work in the experimental shack was apparently not going as well as it might.
The days passed slowly for Brenda Hamilton. In the morning, with a broom, she swept her quarters, and, when she had finished sweeping, with a cloth, dampened with water, on her hands and knees, she mopped the boards of her floor. Similarly, once a day, she wiped down the walls of her cell, using the cane chairs, to the ceiling of corrugated tin. There was little point in this. It was merely Gunther accustoming her to servile work. Also, he insisted that the cot be placed at a certain place and angle in the room, aligned with certain floor boards, and that the mattress be straight upon it. Doctor Hamilton was being taught discipline. She was being taught, too, to comply perfectly with the arbitrary will of a male. But such work was finished by ten in the morning, when the heat of the day was beginning, and there was then little to do in the hot, stifling room, now her cell, and she spent much time on the cot, lying upon it, staring at the wall or ceiling. She was fed small meals, four times a day, the last at nine P.M. She had more water than she needed. The diet was high protein, with few fats or starches. William, she knew, was in charge of her diet. The meals, and water, and such, were brought now by blacks, those whom Herjellsen used to guard the compound and perform its duties. There were two of them. As Gunther had told her, when they were in the room, she knelt. The first day one of them had pointed at the wall opposite the door. Understanding, she had risen and gone to the wall and knelt there, across the room from him, away from the door. There seemed little point in this there were always two of them, one who would bring the food, or whatever it might be, and the other who would stand by the door, watching, just outside. She could not run to the door and escape. After the first time she did not have to be again instructed but, when one of them entered the room, she would kneel across the room, unbidden, away from the door. In the afternoon, she would wash her body and her single garment, using a chipped wooden bowl, and a piece of toweling, supplied by William, and water from the drinking bucket. Each night, after her supper, as Gunther had commanded, she adorned herself. At first she was clumsy, but she was highly intelligent, and her small hands were sure. She taught herself to apply lipstick, which she had not worn since high school, and to apply powder and eye shadow. It seemed very barbaric, somehow, for her to do so, so primitive, this adorning of the body. Did it truly make her more beautiful, she wondered, or was it only a device to attract attention, to signal her sexuality, to proclaim her femaleness, to announce her eagerness for, her readiness for, her vulnerability to, male aggression. She shuddered. She removed two earrings from the cardboard box. They were golden pendants, with clips. She fastened them on her ears. Her ears had never been pierced. Doctor Brenda Hamilton would leave scorned that very idea, so primitive, like an aboriginal sex rite. She regarded herself in the mirror. Yes, they were beautiful. She was beautiful. She regretted suddenly that she bad never had her ears pierced. How exciting, she thought, the symbolism, the flesh meaning of such an adornment, the piercing of her softness by the hardness of the metal, the literal wearing of such an ornament, its beads or rings or pendant against the side of her throat, beneath the dark hair, their being fastened on her. I am beautiful, she thought. Kneeling before the mirror, she reached again into the box. In a moment she had opened a small vial, and touched herself, twice, with perfume. She lifted her hair and regarded herself. You are an exquisitely beautiful woman, she told herself. She regretted never having had her ears pierced.
She leaped to her feet and walked about the room, looking at herself in the mirror.
How beautifully she moved! And she found she could move even more beautifully if she wished. She noticed that she was graceful, and beautifully curved. She understood then, as she had not before, how beautiful a human female can be. For a brief instant she was not displeased to be such a creature, but felt an indescribable thrill of joy, of pride, that it was what she was, that that was she, so soft, so delicious, so alive, so vital, so marvelously beautiful. For an instant Doctor Brenda Hamilton was pleased that she was a female. Then as she looked at the softness, the beauty, the delicacy of herself, she was angry, frustrated, furious. Tears came to her eyes. It was so soft, so vulnerable, her beauty! She thought then of men, so hard, so large, so strong, so different and sometimes fierce, so different, so different from her. She wondered of the meaning of her beauty, its softness, its vulnerability. Perhaps, she wondered, it belongs to men. “No!” she cried. “No!” And then she hated the beautiful, soft, thing she saw in the mirror. “No!” she cried, looking into the mirror. “No!” She would have torn away the earrings, washed away the lipstick and cosmetics, the perfume, but she did not dare, for Gunther had commanded her to wear them and she was afraid to disobey him.
But Gunther had not come the first night. He had been working in the experimental shack with Herjellsen.
When the door had opened, it had been William. Brenda was kneeling before the cot, as she had planned, the striped mattress to be seen behind her, transecting, at its angle, her body.
William had stopped, stunned.
Disappointment had been visible, though only for an instant, in Brenda Hamilton’s eyes. William had noted it, with brief irritation.
“Stand up,” had said William.
Brenda had stood up, and she, unconsciously, smoothed down the thin cotton dress. The movement, as she realized instantly, had accentuated her beauty, drawing the dress momentarily tight over the softness of her breasts. She flushed.
They stood apart from one another, regarding one another. Brenda Hamilton was timid, inspected. Then she saw genuine awe in William’s eyes. She smiled.
“You are beautiful, Brenda,” he said. He did not address her as Doctor Hamilton. That would, in the moment, have seemed foolish.
He was a male, confronting a beautiful female prisoner. That was all. One would not address such a prisoner by such a title.
“Hello, William,” whispered Brenda Hamilton.
“Stand straight,” said William.
He walked about her, viewing her. He stopped behind her, some seven feet away, on the other side of the cot. She did not turn to face him.
“Yes,” he said, “you are a truly beautiful woman.”
She lifted her head, not turning.
He ranged about her and stood again in front of her. “Truly beautiful,” he said.
“Thank you, William,” said Brenda Hamilton. It was the first time in her life that such a thing had been said to her. It was the first time she had acknowledged such a compliment. Deep within her there glowed a sudden, diffused warmth. Startled, she felt, within her, which she would not have admitted, a surge of pleasure.
A man had inspected her, candidly, as she had stood well displayed before him, as she had stood as a mere prisoner, and had termed her, objectively, with nothing to gain which he could not have taken by his strength, beautiful. Brenda Hamilton, the prisoner, knew then that she was pleasing to a man.
This filled her, for no reason she clearly understood, with incredible pride.
She had stood well revealed, captive, before a man, and had been pronounced beautiful. But suddenly she felt very helpless, very vulnerable.
To her terror she saw William’s hand reach out and touch her shoulder.
“No!” she hissed. She backed away. “Don’t touch met” she cried.
William looked at her with fury. He did not advance toward her.
“I have come to tell you,” he said, “that we are encountering difficulties in completing the second series of experiments. There will be some delay.”
“I demand to speak to Herjellsen!” said Brenda Hamilton.
But the door had shut.
She heard the hasps strike the staple plates, the locking of the heavy padlocks.
Brenda turned away, agonized. She had wanted William to stay. He seemed the only link with the outside. Herjellsen had not so much as seen her since she had left in the Land Rover with William and Gunther. Gunther had not visited her since her first night in captivity. There had been only the blacks and, from time to time, William.
Brenda Hamilton regarded herself in the mirror, in the light of the single light bulb under the tin roof.
Tonight, she knew, she had attracted a man. She lay down on the cot, twisting in the heat, unable to sleep. She got up and walked about the room. She drank water. She desperately wanted a cigarette, but William would not allow her any. “Tobacco must not be smelled on your breath,” he had told her. “A keenly sensed organism can detect such an odor, even days afterward.”
Brenda Hamilton had understood nothing of this. But she had not been given tobacco.
Fitfully, in the heat, she slept.
Once she awakened, startled. She had dreamed that Gunther had taken her in his arms, as she was, as she had been when William had seen her, and forced her back on the cot, his hands thrusting up the thin dress, over her breasts, freeing her arms of it, until it was about her neck and that he had then, with one hand, twisted it, sometimes loosening it, sometimes tightening it, controlling her by it, making her do what he wished, while his other hand had forced her to undergo delights of which she had not dreamed. How she had writhed and struggled to kiss him as he had then, when her body uncontrollably begged for him, deigned to enter her. But then she screamed and awakened, the light of a flashlight in her eyes.
“Go to sleep,” said a voice from the window, on the other side of the bars, the netting. It was one of the blacks, making his rounds, checking the prisoner.
She lay terrified on the cot.
She lay awake. She waited. In what she surmised might be an hour, the flashlight again illuminated her body on the cot. She pretended she was asleep.
When it was gone, she groaned. She had not dreamed they would be so thorough.
Then she understood, too, the order of entries into her room, during the day, their timing, when the broom was given to her, the water, the wastes emptied, the food brought, the late checking.
She was under almost constant surveillance.
She had no tool. She was helpless in the room. She could not pick the lock for the locks were on the outside. She did not even have a fork, or spoon. With her fingernails and teeth she could not splinter through the floor, nor dig through the wall.
And, even should she gain the outside, there were the blacks, at least one on guard, and the fence.
And outside the fence there was the bush, the heat, the lack of water, the dryness, animals, the distance.
Gunther, she knew, was a superb hunter. Tracks, in the sand and dirt, soft, powdery, dry, would leave a trail which she supposed even she, a woman, might follow.
She lay on the cot looking up at the dark ceiling. I would leave a trail, she told herself, that even I could follow, even a woman.
She feared Gunther.
Then she noted that she had thought of herself not simply as Doctor Hamilton, but as a woman. No, no, she wept to herself. I do not wish to be a woman. I will not be a woman! I will not be a woman!
She twisted desirably, deliciously, in the brief dress, and thought of Gunther.
Suddenly she said to herself, startling herself, I want to be a woman!
Yes, I want to be a womanl
I am a woman!
No, she cried, I will not be a woman! Never!
She realized, though she could not understand the motivations, that it was no accident that she had been dressed as she had, that there had been a mirror placed in the room so that she would be forced to see herself so clad, that she had been ordered to adorn herself with cosmetics, and, indeed, most brutally, most unfairly of all, that she had been forced to kneel in the presence of males, and could not rise until their permission had been given.
“I hate them!” she cried. “I hate men! I hate all of them! I do not want to be a woman! I will never be a woman! Never!”
But a voice within her seemed to say, be quiet, little fool, little female.
She rolled on her stomach and wept, and pounded the mattress. Suddenly she realized she had not removed the earrings, the makeup. She removed them, and, too, from her body, washed the perfume. Then she lay again on the cot. She was almost frightened to go to sleep. There was no sheet, no cover. She knew the blacks would, from time to time, during the night, check with the flashlight. Then she laughed to herself. “I am only a prisoner,” she said, “what do I care if they see my legs?” It seemed to her somehow amusing that a prisoner might attempt to conceal her legs from her jailers. Every inch of her, she knew, was at their disposal, if they so much as wished.
She lay on her stomach on the cot, on the striped mattress, her head turned to one side. The mattress, she sensed, was wet with her tears. Her fists, beside her head, on each side, were clenched.
As she lay there, helpless, locked in the room, she knew that the men had won, that whatever might be their reasons, their plans or motivations, their intentions with respect to her, that they had conquered.
She knew that it was a woman who lay on the striped mattress on the small iron cot, in the hot, tin-roofed building in a compound in Rhodesia.
“I know that I am a female,” she said to herself. “I am a female.”
In her heart, in her deepest nature, for the first time in her life, Doctor Brenda Hamilton-the prisoner Brenda-the woman-acknowledged her sex.
She did not know for what reason the men had done what they had done, but she knew that they had accomplished at least one of their goals.
They had forced her, cruelly and incontrovertibly, in the very roots of her being, to accept the truth of her reality, that she was a woman.
Brenda wondered what might be their further goals.
They had succeeded quite well in their first. They had taught her that she was a woman.
Brenda no longer had doubt about this. She was tired. Brazenly she took what position she was comfortable with on the cot. She no longer cared about the blacks and their flashlights. She was a female prisoner. Her entire body, she knew, each curvacious, luscious inch of it should her jailers wish it, lay at their disposal. She stretched like a cat on the cot, in the heat, and. fell asleep. She was mildly scandalized, as she fell asleep, to discover that she was not displeased to be a woman, that she was quite satisfied with the luscious, curved, sexy body which was she.
On the fourth night, at 10 P.M., Brenda Hamilton heard the keys turn in the padlocks outside the door, heard them lifted out of the staples and, on their short chains, fall against the door; then she heard the hasps flung back.
The door opened.
“Gunther,” she whispered.
She fell to her knees, and looked up at him.
This was the first time since the first night of her captivity that he had entered the room.
She had adorned herself beautifully, even to the earrings and perfume.
Kneeling on the wooden floor of her cell, in the thin, white dress, she looked up at him.
It came high up her thighs.
He did not tell her to rise. She remained kneeling. He looked at her, for a long time.
It was the first time he had seen her adorned.
It was a quite different Brenda Hamilton on whom he now looked, than on whom he had looked before. It was a Brenda Hamilton who was now a woman.
“Hello. Gunther,” said Brenda Hamilton.
He drew up one of the cane chairs, its back to her, and sat across it, facing her, looking at her. He did not. speak. After a time, Brenda whispered, “Do you like me as I am now, as you see me now?”
He did not answer her. His face betrayed no emotion. He turned about. “Lock the door,” he said to someone outside, one of the blacks.
It was shut and locked.
He regarded her.
“We are now alone,” he said. “We will not be disturbed.”
“Yes, Gunther,” she whispered.
Gunther regarded her. “You are now, without inhibition,” he said, “to do precisely what you wish.”
She regarded him, startled. Then she smiled. “No,” she said.
“What is it that you feel like doing?” he asked. “What secret thought do you fight? What impulse do you repudiate, rejecting it as too terrible, too degrading?”
“It is not terrible,” she laughed, “it is only silly.”
“What is it?” he asked.
“A silly impulse,” she said. “You would laugh, if I told you.”
“Tell me,” he said.
“It is too silly,” she laughed.
“Tell me,” he said.
“I have a silly impulse,” she said, “to crawl to you on my belly and kiss your boots.” She laughed.
“Do it,” said Gunther.
“No!” she cried. “No!”
“Do so,” he said. His eyes were stern.
“No, please, no!” whispered Brenda Hamilton.
“Do so,” said Gunther.
Brenda Hamilton, possessor of a doctorate in mathematics, a Ph.D. from the California Institute of Technology, slipped to her stomach. She approached Gunther. Her hair fell over his boots. She took them in her hands and, again and again, kissed them. She tasted the leather, the dust of the Rhodesian bush, in her mouth. Tears in her eyes, she lifted her head, helplessly looking at him.
“Go to the cot,” he said.
“Yes, Gunther,” said Brenda Hamilton. She went to the cot. She knelt on the cot. She waited for him to come to her.
He slipped from the chair and went to the cot, and sat on it, his body turned, regarding her.
He placed his hands on her upper arms, and drew her toward him.
“What do you want?” asked Gunther.
She turned her head away.
“Speak,” said Gunther.
She looked at him. “Must I?” she whispered.
“Yes,” said Gunther. “What do you want?”
“I’m a prisoner,” she said. “I want to be fucked like a prisoner, used!”
“Oh?” asked Gunther.
“By you, Gunther,” she whispered, “-by you!”
He said nothing.
“You are the most attractive man I have ever seen, Gunther,” she whispered. “You see,” she said, “as a prisoner I must speak the truth. Ever since I have seen you I have wanted you to take me. Fuck me, Gunther. I’m your prisoner. You can do with me what you want. Fuck me, Gunther, please! I beg you to fuck me!”
“You are an American,” said Gunther.
“Please, Gunther,” she whispered.
“Do you not want candlelight?” asked Gunther, amused. “Soft music, sentiment, romance?”
He held her arms, she in the thin, white dress, under the single light bulb, high over their heads, under the tin roof, on the flat, thin striped mattress on an iron cot, in a stifling cell in Rhodesia.
“No,” she said, “Gunther. I want sex. I want you to be hard with me, show me no mercy. Throw me down on my back, you, loveless and powerful, and treat me as what I am, and only as what I am, your female prisoner. Please, Gunther!”
“You seem quite different from what I knew before,” said Gunther.
“I’m begging you to fuck me, Gunther,” pleaded Brenda Hamilton.
“You are a virgin,” said Gunther.
Brenda Hamilton stiffened. This would have been established in London, in William’s gynecological examination. Tears came to Brenda Hamilton’s eyes. The results had obviously been made available to the men.
Doubtless they were familiar with all of her records, her measurements.
“Yes,” said Hamilton. “I’m a virgin.”
“And twenty-four years old,” laughed Gunther.
“Yes!” wept Hamilton.
“Virgin,” laughed Gunther.
“I give you my virginity, Gunther,” she wept.
His hands were hard on her arms. She cried out with pain, he held her so tightly.
“You give nothing,” said Gunther. “If I want it, I will take it.”
“Yes, Gunther,” she whispered.
Suddenly Gunther thrust her from him. She was startled.
“Gunther!” she cried.
Gunther stood up. He seemed very tall.
“Please, Gunther!” she wept.
“Beg on your knees to be fucked,” said Gunther.
Brenda Hamilton slipped to her knees, on the floor, before him. She lifted her head to him, tears in her eyes. “I beg to be fucked,” she said.
“No,” said Gunther. He laughed.
Brenda Hamilton looked up at him, in disbelief.
Gunther turned and stepped away from her. Near the mirror he bent down and picked up the cardboard box of cosmetics. He threw the brush and comb on the cot. The box, with the rest of its contents, he held in his left hand.
She had not moved. With his right hand, one after the other, he jerked the clip earrings, those with pendants, from her ears. “Oh!” she cried, her head jerked to one side. “Oh!” she wept, her head jerked to the other side. She put her fingertips to her ear lobes and felt blood. “Gunther!” she wept. He dropped the earrings in the box. He shook the contents of the box before her. “You will not be needing these any longer,” he said. “They have done their work.”
Brenda Hamilton shook her head negatively. “Gunther,” she whispered. “I do not understand.”
“Wash yourself,” said Gunther. “Get rid of the powder, the makeup, the lipstick.”
She looked at him.
“Hurry,” he said.
Obediently, Brenda Hamilton went to the water bucket and filled the bow). With the tiny sliver of soap, and the reverse side of the piece of toweling allotted to her, she washed, and wiped, her face.
She faced him.
“Again,” he said. “And swiftly!” ‘
She turned again to the bowl, the soap, the towel. Quickly, clumsily, she cleaned her face. She then turned again to face him, to be inspected.
“Come here,” said Gunther.
With his hand in her hair, he inspected her. He bent to smell her shoulder. “The perfume,” he said, “lingers, but it will dissipate in a day or so.”
By the hair he threw her to the cot..
He went to the door and knocked twice, sharply.
Brenda heard the padlocks being removed from the staples, heard them fall on their chains against the door. Then the door was ajar.
“Gunther,” she said.
He turned to face her.
“Why did you not rape me?” she asked.
“It is not mine to rape you,” he said.
“Not-yours?” she asked.
“No,” said Gunther.
She looked at him, not understanding.
He turned away.
Quickly she rose from the cot. She went to him. She put her hand on his arm. He looked down into her eyes. “Gunther,” she whispered, looking down, “please, please do not tell anyone what occurred in this room tonight – 2’
“Kneel,” he said.
She knelt, looking up at him.
“What do you mean?” he asked.
“Do not tell anyone, please,” she said, looking up at him, “-how-how I acted.”
“How you acted?” he asked.
“What I said-what I did!” she whispered.
“On my honor as a gentleman?” he asked.
“Yes,” she said, fervently, “on your honor as a gentleman!”
“I am afraid,” he smiled, “that I cannot comply.”
“I do not understand,” she said.
“Surely you must understand that a full report, a complete report, exact and detailed, must be made to Herjellsen and William?” he asked.
“Report?” she whispered. “No! No!”
Brenda Hamilton, aghast, kneeling, sank helplessly back on her heels. She knew she had exposed herself as a woman with sexual needs, publicly, incontrovertibly, as a woman with desperate sexual needs, exposed clearly, publicly, unrepudiably. She did not doubt that Gunther’s report would be objective, complete, accurate. She put her head in her hands, weeping.
You are coming around beautifully, Brenda,” said Gunther. “In my opinion you are, even of this instant, quite ready.”
She lowered her hands, lifting her tear-stained face to him. “Ready?” she said, numbly.
“Yes,” said Gunther, “quite ready.”
“I do not understand,” she said.
“Go to the cot,” he said. “Stand beside it.”
She did so.
I do not understand,” she said.
“Sit on the cot,” he said. She did so. “Sit prettily,” he said. “Put your knees together. Put your ankles together, and to one side. Turn your body to face me.” She did so.
“What did you mean `ready’, Gunther?” she asked. “I do not understand.”
“You are stupid,” he said. He regarded her sternly.
She put her eyes down. “Yes, Gunther,” she said.
He smiled, and turned away.
“Let me have the cosmetics,” she begged, suddenly, looking up. “Let me keep them here.”
They were tiny articles. She had little else to cling to.
Gunther turned to face her. He regarded her evenly. “You will not need them,” he said. “They have served their purpose.”
“Please, Gunther,” she begged.
“When you are transmitted,” said Gunther, “surely you must understand that you will be transmitted raw.”
“Transmitted!” she cried.
“Certainly,” said Gunther. “You are essential to the third series of experiments.”
“Oh, no!” she wept. She slipped from the cot, and fell to her knees on the floor. “No!”
Wildly, desperately, Brenda Hamilton looked about, like a caught animal, terrified.
“No!” she cried, as Gunther snapped one of his handcuffs on her left wrist, and, pulling her, threw her half back over the cot.
“You will try to escape,” he told her.
He then snapped the other cuff about the curved iron bar at the head of the cot, securing her to it.
“This will discourage you,” he said.
Brenda Hamilton leaped to her feet, pulling at the cuff, jerking the iron cot. She was perfectly secured to it. Bent over, her hand at the curved iron bar, cuffed to it, she watched Gunther leave.
“There is no escape,” said Gunther, closing the door behind him.
She heard the locking of the door.
With the frenzy of a caught she-animal she jerked at the cuff. She was held perfectly. Moaning she threw herself on the cot her left wrist on the mattress, just below the bar. She heard the cuff slide on the iron. She jerked at it. And then she lay still, weeping.
There was no escape for Brenda Hamilton.
“Where is the fork?” asked the black.
Brenda Hamilton, no longer handcuffed, kneeling across the room from him, away from the door, looked at him blankly. “There was only the spoon,” she said. She was never given a knife. The black looked at the tray on the cot, the tin mug, the crumbs, the spoon.
He had not been the one who had brought the tray.
He regarded her, suspiciously. She saw the pistol, strapped in the holster at his side.
He walked toward her, across the wooden floor. She did not raise her eyes.
Suddenly she felt his hand in her hair, and she felt herself half lifted, twisted, forced to look at him. “Please!” she wept.
“Where is the fork?” he asked. She could not meet his eyes.
“There was only a spoon!” she wept. “Stop! You’re hurting me!”
He pulled her to her feet, bent over, she crying out and with two strides, she running, to ease the pain on her head, dashed her, jerking her head to one side at the last moment, against the wall. His hand had not left her hair. She slumped against the wall, weeping. Then she cried out as he jerked her again to her feet and, with quick strides, ran her against the other wall, again jerking her head back at the last instant. She struck the wall with force, her head jerked sideways, twisted. The top of her head screamed with pain. She reached up to his hand, her small fingers at his wrist. She could not dislodge his hand. He twisted her hair again and she quickly drew back her hands, submitting to the lesser pain, acknowledging to him his control.
“Where is the fork?” he asked.
“There was only a spoon,” she wept. “Please! Please! Ask the boy who brought it!”
“Boy?” he asked.
“The man!” she cried. “Ask the man who brought it!”
He pulled her to her feet, and, she weeping, ran her against the far wall and then back again, each time forcing her to strike the wall with great force, jerking back her head. Never did his hand leave her hair. Then, angrily, he threw her to the floor, releasing her. She lay on her stomach, her hands covering as best she could her head and hair, weeping. She sensed his boots on either side of her body.
“Where is the fork?” he asked.
“The man didn’t bring one!” she wept. “Ask him! Please ask him!”
He stepped over her body. She heard him leave the room. Her thin cotton dress was soaked with sweat. Her body ached. She sensed it would be bruised. Her head, her scalp, still shrieked with pain.
But she lay on the floor, and smiled.
She had gained time. The black might not ask the other about the fork. The other might not remember. And for the whites, William, Gunther, Herjellsen, it would be only their word against hers.
With the fork, splinter by splinter, working within the closet, cutting through to the outside, she might escape!
The closet was never opened. She would put the tiny pile of debris within it and then, after dark, try to open the stucco, slip through, and get to the fence. It would not take long to dig under it, the ground was soft and dry. And then she could run and run, and run, and come, with luck, sooner or later, to a bush road, a strip road, or a graveled road, and be picked up, and carried to safety.
In the daylight, in a few hours, she might, without water, without shelter, collapse in the heat, perhaps die, but in the night, in the comparative coolness, she might be able to make several miles.
It might be enough. It must be enough!
She thought of the leopard, and was frightened, and of snakes.
But there were things she feared more then leopards, or snakes, or the blacks. She feared Gunther, and Herjellsen, and the experimental shack.
She must escape!
With the fork she had the chance!
She heard someone on the porch, three people. Quickly she looked up, startled.
Her eyes furtively darted to where she had hidden the fork.
She knew her story. She would stick to it.
She heard the padlocks being opened, removed from the staples, heard the locks falling on their chains against the wood of the door.
Quickly she knelt, assuming the position of submission before men.
But this time she felt a surge of joy she tried to conceal. She might be a woman, and a prisoner, but she, too, was a human being, and could be clever and cunning. She was a woman. She had been taught her femaleness. But she was not a simpleton, not a fool!
She was clever, cunning. She would fool them all and escape!
The door opened.
Brenda Hamilton was startled. Herjellsen stood in the doorway. It was the first time since her captivity that she had seen him. She gasped.
She looked at him.
He regarded her. She knew it was the first time he had seen her dressed as a woman, and as a woman prisoner of men.
“Please get up,” said Herjellsen. He blinked through the thick lenses of his glasses, glanced about the room.
Gratefully Brenda Hamilton rose to her feet.
Herjellsen returned his attention to her.
“You are an extremely attractive young woman, Doctor Hamilton,” said Herjellsen.
“Thank you,” said Brenda Hamilton.
“You have been crying,” he said. “Please, if you would, ` wash away your tears.”
Gratefully, Brenda Hamilton went to the water bucket, and with water, and a towel, washed her face.
“I do not like to see a woman’s tears,” said Herjellsen.
Brenda Hamilton said nothing.
Herjellsen looked at her.
“Please brush your hair now,” said Herjellsen.
Obediently, Brenda Hamilton, while Herjellsen, and the two blacks watched, brushed her hair.
Then she turned to face them. “Ah,” said Herjellsen, “that is better.”
They regarded one another.
“Now,” said Herjellsen, “where is the missing implement?” “What implement?” asked Brenda Hamilton.
“The missing fork,” said Herjellsen.
“There was no fork,” said Brenda Hamilton. “One was not brought with the tray.” She looked at the large black, who had abused her. “I told him that,” she said. “But he did not believe me.” Her voice trembled. “Look,” she said, indicating a bruise on her arm, where she had been hurled into the wall. “He was cruel to me!”
But Herjellsen did not admonish the black.
“He hurt me!” said Brenda Hamilton.
“At the least sign of insubordination,” said Herjellsen, “you must expect to be physically disciplined.”
“I see,” she said.
“Now,” said Herjellsen, “where is the fork?”
“One was not brought,” said Brenda Hamilton.
Herjellsen regarded her.
“Look!” she said, angrily. “Search the cell. I do not care!” “That will not be necessary,” said Herjellsen.
Brenda Hamilton looked at him.
“You will lead me to it,” he said.
The golden light of the late Rhodesian afternoon filtered into the room, between the bars, through the netting.
“Approach me, my dear,” said Herjellsen.
Hesitantly, Brenda Hamilton, barefoot, in the thin, white dress, sleeveless, approached him.
He then stood slightly behind her, to her left, and placed his band on her arm, above her elbow.
“There is nothing mysterious,” he told her, “in what I am now going to do.”
Brenda Hamilton was terrified.
“It is a simple magician’s trick,” said Herjellsen. “It is called muscle reading. The principle is extremely simple. You will find that you are unable to control the subtle, almost unconscious movements of your arm muscles.”
“No!” she cried. She felt his hand on her arm. His grip was not tight, but it was firm, and strong. She knew herself held.
“You must not, of course,” said Herjellsen, “think of the location of the missing implement.”
Immediately the location of the hidden fork flew into
Brenda Hamilton’s mind the inevitable response to the psychological suggestion of Herjellsen’s remark.
She felt herself helplessly, uncontrollably, pull away from its location.
“It seems,” said Herjellsen, “that it is on this side of the room,” indicating the direction she had pulled away from.
Brenda Hamilton moaned. She tried to clear her mind.
“We must, find it, mustn’t we, my dear?” asked Herjellsen.
Again its hiding place darted into her mind.
Herjellsen guided her in the direction she had pulled away from.
She tried to relax her body, her arm, to think nothing. “Please,” she said.
Herjellsen stopped. “Excellent,” he said. “We must not be tense.”
Immediately Brenda Hamilton’s body, helpless under the suggestion, tensed.
“Ah,” said Herjellsen. He led her to the corner of the room.
She trembled. She stood in the corner, where the two walls joined. There was only the bleakness of the white plaster. “There was no fork,” she said. “You see?” She looked at Herjellsen, her lip trembling. “There is nothing here,” she said.
“Get the fork,” said Herjellsen to the black, the large fellow. He came to where they stood.
Herjellsen released her. Brenda Hamilton ran to the center of the room.
The black reached up to where Herjellsen indicated, where the walls stopped, and the sloping, peaked, tin corrugated ceiling began, with its metal and beams.
He took down the fork, from where Brenda had thrust it, at the top of the wall, under the tin.
He put it in his shirt pocket.
“Lie down across the cot,” said Herjellsen to Brenda Hamilton, “head down, hands on the floor.”
She did so.
“At the least sign of insubordination,” he said, “you must expect to be physically disciplined.”
Herjellsen turned away. “Two strokes,” he said to the guards.
He left the room.
Brenda Hamilton fighting tears, felt the dress thrust up over the small of her back, heard the rustle of the heavy belt pulled through its loops. It was doubled. She was struck twice, sharply.
Then they left her.
Brenda Hamilton crawled on the cot and stretched out on it, red-eyed, humiliated.
The room was now half dark as the dusty afternoon faded into the dusk. She heard insect noises outside.
She did not turn on the electric light bulb.
It was an unusually docile Brenda Hamilton who was served her meal that evening.
When the black had left the room she lifted her head and sped to the tray.
Her heart leaped. There was again both a fork and spoon with the mug and tray.
William, if the usual routine obtained, would pick up the tray.
She washed her body and her face, and even the garment and put it quickly back on. In the hot Rhodesian night it would dry in minutes on her body. She combed her hair, and brushed it until it was glossy. Then, a few minutes before ten P.M. she bolted down her meal. She thrust the fork into her mattress.
At ten promptly, as was usual, William entered the room. He didn’t look at her.
“You heard what happened?” she asked.
“I heard you were foolish,” said William.
“Look at me, William,” she said.
He did so. She smiled.
He seemed angry with her. She flushed slightly. Doubtless Gunther had made his report.
But she smiled her prettiest and lifted the spoon left on the tray.
“I tried to hide a fork today,” she said. “And now look,” she pouted, “I have only this spoon to eat with. I feel silly, eating meat with a spoon. They treat me like I was a child.”
“Oh?” asked William. He looked at her, closely.
“See if you can’t get them, tomorrow, not tonight, to let me have a fork again.”
“You don’t need it,” said William.
“Don’t be cruel to me, William,” she said.
“Herjellsen must have given them their orders,” he said.
“See if you can get him to change them tomorrow, when he is in a better mood,” she wheedled. She smiled at him.
William basked in her smile.
“You are quite beautiful,” he said, “when you smile. Very well, tomorrow I will ask Herjellsen to permit you to have the proper utensils.”
“Thank you, William,” she breathed.
“But no knife, mind you,” laughed William.
“Oh, of course not,” she laughed, “-Master!”
“You make a pretty slave, Brenda,” said William.
Brenda Hamilton fell to her knees before him, and put her head to his feet. “The slave is grateful to her master,” she laughed.
William looked down at her. “I see,” he said, “that it is a social misfortune that the institution of female slavery was abolished.”
Brenda looked up at him, deferentially. “Yes, Master,” she said.
“Last night,” said William, suddenly, angrily, “you were on your knees before Gunther.”
She looked up at him, agonized.
“Don’t get up,” said William.
She put her head down.
“Beg me to fuck you,” said William.
“Please, William,” she whispered.
“Do it,” he said, “you little whore.”
“No!” she wept. “I wanted to be had by Gunther. I wanted it! I needed it!”
“And you don’t need it from me,” said William.
“Please, William,” she said, “I like you-you’re the only one who is kind to me. I like you. I do like you!” She lifted her eyes to him.
“Say it,” said William. “I want to hear it.”
“I-I beg you to fuck me, William,” whispered Brenda Hamilton.
“Slut!” said William.
He picked up the tray and mug, and spoon, and angrily left the room.
He did not look back.
Elated, Brenda Hamilton ran to the light switch and turned it off, and went to the mattress and took the fork from it. The first check, she knew, would not come until eleven o’clock. She counted the minutes, as carefully as she could, while she worked in the closet, as silently as she could, digging at the plaster, flaking it away. Giving herself a margin of safety she went and lay down in the cot, as though asleep. She hated each wasted minute lying there, but, at last, some ten minutes after she had lain down, she sensed the flashlight in the room, through the window, and falling on her apparently sleeping body. When it had left she leaped to her feet and began her work again. It was shortly before midnight, and the second check, when she came to the coating of stucco that formed the outside of the hut. She returned to the cot, a sleeping prisoner. When the light had passed again, she returned to the work. It took only some fifteen minutes to work away enough of the stucco to make a hole large enough for her to crawl through. This would give her, if she were successful in escaping the compound, a lead of only some forty-five minutes. She slipped from the building. She looked back. She must leave the hole exposed. There was nothing with which to conceal it. She hoped it would not be noted. The compound was lit by the four lights on poles, illuminating the dirt grounds, making them seem hard and yellow. The hole was on the side of the building, away from the light. She hoped it would not be noticed.
She went to the end of the small building. Then she fell to her stomach in the shadows at the side of the building.
Between her and the fence one of the blacks was walking his rounds, his rifle over his shoulder.
She remained lying there for some minutes. She counted the seconds between his rounds. She was in tears. She would not have time to get to the fence and tunnel under the wire. Then, in her counting, the guard did not pass when she expected him to. Her heart leaped. Perhaps he had stopped somewhere, to relieve himself, or drink, or smoke, or chat with his partner, perhaps at the gate.
She scurried from hiding and began, with her hands and her fork, to dig frenziedly at the wire. The ground was dry and soft, powdery. In a matter of two or three minutes, on her stomach, she slithered under the hanging wire. A barb ripped through the shoulder of her dress and she cried out half blinded with sparks and pain. There had been a crackling, and her inadvertent cry of terror and pain. She scrambled to her feet, stunned, sick, her vision swimming with blasts of light, and vomited in the dust, and then, stumbling, fled into the darkness.
Apparently her cry and the crackling of the sparks had not been heard.
Outside the compound, sick, some hundred yards away, she collapsed in the brush and looked back.
No one was coming. There was no pursuit. The compound was large. No one had apparently heard her.
She threw up again from the shock of the fence. She wanted only to lie down and rest.
She staggered to her feet.
She began to stumble through the brush.
It had been a nightmare of running, but Brenda Hamilton, at three forty in the morning, reached a road, her legs bleeding, dust in her hair, her body coated with dirt.
She lay beside the road, gasping, on the side away from the direction from which she had come.
She could scarcely breathe, she could scarcely move her body.
The dress was half torn from her.
What now if there were no vehicle? There might not be any. This was not a commonly traveled road. It was late at night. When she had been with Gunther and William in the Land Rover, in all their driving, they had passed no vehicle.
She would die in the bush, without food and water. She feared leopards, and snakes.
She knew no way to a village.
She could walk the road. It would lead somewhere. But she, having stopped, found it almost impossible to get to her feet. She closed her eyes.
Then, from the distance, she heard a vehicle, coming down the road.
Her heart leaped, and she crawled to the side of the road.
She saw the two headlights. She heard the engine. The vehicle was coming with rapidity.
What if it would not stop for her?
Painfully she stood up, on the surface of the road, gasping. The gravel hurt her feet.
They must stop for her!
The headlights were approaching rapidly.
They were hurrying. They would not stop!
But they would! She would flag them down! They must stop! They must!
The headlights were now looming, like eyes. She heard the grinding of the gravel under the wheels of the vehicle, the thick roar of the engine.
She stood out, almost in the center of the road, and lifted her hand.
She waved wildly.
She lifted both of her arms and ran toward the headlights, weeping.
They must stop!
To her joy she heard the driver remove his foot from the accelerator and heard the scattering and crunching of gravel under the tires as the vehicle began to slow down.
She ran toward it, illuminated in its headlights, as it ground to a halt.
“Help me!” she cried.
The Land Rover was stopped now, the motor still running. Gunther leaped out, onto the road.
She screamed and turned, and_streaked into the brush. She ran and ran.
She heard the Land Rover start again, turn off the road. She saw it plowing after her.
She darted through the brush, crying.
It dodged small trees, suddenly bright in its headlights, it rode over brush, through dips and high grass, jolting, falling and climbing.
Running, she heard the engine behind her, the breaking of brush, the sound of the tires.
Suddenly she was illuminated in the headlights.
She was terrified they would run her down. Then the Land Rover turned to one side, her left, as she ran, and was behind her and on the left.
She ran, stumbling. She felt herself caught in the blaze of the hand searchlight mounted near the front, right window.
“Wir haben sie!” she heard Gunther cry, elated. He almost never spoke German.
She heard the crack of the compressed-air rifle and was suddenly stung in the side. She was knocked off her feet by the impact and rolled for more than a dozen feet. Then she scrambled to her feet again, and began to run again, stumbling. She heard the Land Rover following her, slowly. She ran for perhaps a hundred yards, and then fell, and got up and, slowly, began to stumble away again. The Land Rover seemed to move almost at her very side. She was conscious of the headlights on the brush. She was aware that she, herself, was illuminated in the hand searchlight at the side of the vehicle. With her fingers, reeling, she felt the dart sunk in her side. It had penetrated the thin cotton dress and had fastened itself deeply in her flesh. She stumbled, and fell. She heard the Land Rover stop. She tried to crawl away, and then fell to her stomach. She fought to keep conscious. She knew she lay in-the light of the hand searchlight. She heard the door of the Land Rover open. She heard
booted feet leap to the ground. She heard the booted feet approach her. Her right hand, first, was dragged behind her body and snapped in a handcuff, and then her left. She lay cuffed. A hand forcibly jerked out the dart. She heard it placed in the pocket of a leather jacket. Then she felt herself being lifted lightly to a man’s shoulders, her head over his back, and carried to the Land Rover.
She moaned, and fell unconscious.
Dr. Brenda Hamilton awakened.
She lay on her side on the cot. Her left hand, extended, lay under the curved iron bar at the top of the cot; her right hand lay beside her face; she looked at the slender, small fingers it seemed so small, so delicate compared to that of Gunther, or William, or Herjellsen, to a man’s hand.
The half light of late afternoon, golden, hazy, filtering, dimly illuminated the room.
The white-washed interior seemed golden and dim. She looked up at the arched roof, its beams, the corrugated tin. It was hot, terribly hot. She remembered that she seldom spent time in her quarters before sundown. She remembered that she had, once, awakened similarly. She remembered then that she was a prisoner.
She tried to move her hand, her left hand. Something jerked at it. She beard a steel cuff slide on iron. She sat up. She was handcuffed to the iron bar at the head of the cot.
She sat wearily at the edge of the cot. She wanted to relieve herself. She looked across the room to the wastes bucket.
She got up, to pull the cot to the side of the room. It remained fixed.
It had been bolted to the floor: It was aligned with the floor boards designated by Gunther. She smiled. The alignment of the cot was no longer her responsibility.
She considered, briefly, urinating on the floor, or soiling the mattress.
She would not do so.
She knew she was, at the slightest sign of insubordination, subject to physical discipline, and that it would be, unhesitantly, administered. She wondered what they would do to her for having attempted to escape.
How foolishly she had run to their arms. How easily she had been recaptured.
She remembered the Land Rover pursuing her, terrifying her, loud and roaring, through the midnight bush, the glare of its lights, the sting of the anesthetic bullet, Gunther’s cuffs.
She looked at the girl in the mirror, facing her, sitting on the edge of the cot, a steel cuff confining her to it. The girl was weary, filthy, her dress torn, her hair awry and filled with dust; her face was dirty; her hands were dirty, and there was dirt, from digging, black, under the fingernails; her legs were covered, too, with dirt, and scratches and blood.
They had brought her in as she was, from the bush, thrown her on the cot, handcuffed her to it, and left.
She was hungry, and thirsty, and wanted to relieve herself, and clean her body.
She lay back, on her side, her legs drawn up on the striped mattress, on the cot, her left hand under the curved iron bar at its head.
She smelled her body. She smelled, too, fresh plaster. The hut, she conjectured, where she had broken through it, through the closet, had been repaired.
She closed her eyes against the heat.
Then, almost against her will, she opened her eyes, wanting to look again in the mirror. Lying on her side she regarded herself, her head and hair, her figure, the curve of her hip and waist, the dress well up her thighs, the curves of her legs and ankles. She looked at herself, sullenly. She did not jerk at the handcuff. She lay quietly, secured. She had not escaped.
At six P.M. the door was unlocked.
The large black, who had beaten her, entered. His companion entered behind him.
Behind them came Herjellsen, and Gunther and William.
Brenda sat up.
Gunther came to her and unlocked the cuff from her left wrist.
Hamilton rubbed her wrist.
Herjellsen motioned for Dr. Brenda Hamilton to lie across the cot, as she had before, her hands on the floor, her head down.
The smaller black then dragged the dress up over her body, and half over her head, confining her arms in it.
“Beat her,” said Herjellsen.
While the men watched the larger black, with his belt, doubled, struck her, sharply, below the small of the back, fifteen times.
The beating, Hamilton knew, was not intended to be physically punishing. It was intended to be emotionally humiliating. It was. But, too, it stung, terribly. She could not keep tears from her eyes. She felt like a child. She knew it was not a man’s beating, but a woman’s beating. In tears, she realized it was more in the nature of a severe rebuke for naughtiness than anything else. It meant, clearly, that they were not particularly annoyed with her, that she had not worried them, that her escape attempt had not been, and was not taken seriously. Her effort, to herself, though foiled had been momentous desperate. Now it was being punished, sharply, but trivially. She supposed she was being punished at all only because she had been insubordinate, and they felt that something in response, however trivial, should be done to her. She asked herself if this was all her escape attempt was worth to them, all it had earned her.
The beating also told her that she was a woman, not worth the severe discipline that might be accorded a male.
That, too, humiliated her.
It taught her in a new way that she was a female, only a female.
She wept, too, because Gunther and William were watching. How could she face them again?
The last blow fell.
Gunther pulled her, she still tangled in her dress, sobbing, to her side. Her left wrist was jerked to the vicinity of the iron bar at the head of the cot. She felt it locked again in the cuff that dangled there.
She was confined as before. The men left.
She, furious, frustrated, helpless, felt like a punished child. She wept. She was furious at what men could do to women, if they wished. She hated their strength, and her own weakness. They can treat us like children, she wept.
“I hate you!” she cried.
Then she was afraid that they might hear her, and return to punish her again. “I hate you,” she whispered. “I hate you.” But mostly she hated herself, that she was a woman.
How could she ever again face Gunther and William?
Then she knew how she could face them again, and only how she could face them again, only as a woman-a woman-and one they had seen being beaten.
Then, after a time, she no longer hated being a woman. She lay on the thin, flat, striped mattress, on her side, her wrist helplessly handcuffed to the iron bar at the head of the simple cot, and looked at herself in the mirror. Her small, luscious, curved body, captive, formed a remarkable contrast to the thin, flat mattress, its linearity, the plainness of the iron cot, on which she was confined. She studied herself in the mirror, her head and hair, the deliciousness of her body, her legs, the slenderness of her ankles. Then no longer did she hate that she was a woman. She found it again, strangely perhaps, a precious thing to be. And she found herself, too, strangely enough, pleased that men were strong enough to do to her what they had done. She found herself, for some strange reason, pleased that one sex was so much weaker than the other. And, perhaps most strange of all, she found herself pleased that she was of the weaker sex.
She found, as she lay on the cot, captive, handcuffed to it, that the strength of men excited her, that she found it profoundly and unaccountably exciting.
I love it that there are men, she whispered to herself. I love it. I love it!
At ten P.M. the door was again unlocked.
The large black, he who had beaten her, again entered. Lying on the cot, she cringed. But he carried a large piece of bread in one hand and a tin mug of water in the other. Brenda saw, briefly, his companion behind him, before the door closed.
He approached her.
She regarded him with fear.
“Sit up,” he said.
She did so. She winced.
“Open your mouth,” he said.
She did so.
He thrust the bread into her mouth, whole.
He waited until she had, half choking, swallowed it down. Then he held the tin mug for her. She drank.
Before he left, with his foot, he shoved the wastes bucket to the cot.
For four days Hamilton saw no one but the blacks, and her feedings consisted of bread and water, each given to her as they had been the first time.
Sometimes, smiling, she tried to engage them in conversation but they did not speak to her.
Once, angrily, she cried out, “Speak when you’re spoken to, Boy!”
He turned, slowly, toward her.
“I’m sorry,” she whispered. “I’m sorry!”
His hand struck her, knocking her forcibly to her right. She was jerked up short by the handcuff, taut, on her left wrist. He pulled her to her knees at the side of the cot, facing him. “I’m sorry!” she cried. Her lip was cut on her teeth. He pointed to his feet. She kissed them. “I’m sorry,” she said. “I’m sorry!
“Very well,” said he, “-Girl.”
On the fourth night she said to him, “Please tell them I’ll be good! I’ll be good!”
“All right,” he said.
“Thank you,” she said.
The next morning Gunther and William arrived at the time of the first feeding.
Gunther carried a short length of chain, and two padlocks, and William a bowl of warm water, with a towel and soap, and a clean, folded garment.
“Lie on your stomach on the cot,” said Gunther.
“Yes, Gunther,” said Brenda Hamilton.
She felt one end of the heavy chain looped about her left ankle, snugly, and fastened with one of the padlocks. The loose end of the short chain was then looped about her right ankle, snugly, and fastened with the second padlock.
Gunther then removed the handcuff from her left wrist, and also from the iron bar at the head of the cot.
“Kneel,” he said.
Free of the cot, she did so. She heard the heavy links of the chain confining her ankles strike the floor.
“You will wear the cuff at night,” said Gunther.
“Yes, Gunther,” she said.
Gunther slipped the handcuffs, together, into a small leather case, worn at his belt. He buttoned shut the case.
“And during the day?” she asked.
“You are shackled,” he said.
“Yes, Gunther,” she said.
“Is that not the answer to your question?” he asked.
“Yes, Gunther,” she said.
“The experiments are progressing,” said Gunther. “You will shortly be needed.”
She looked up at him.
“You will not receive the least opportunity for escape,” said Gunther.
She put down her head.
“Do you understand, Brenda?” he said.
“Yes, Gunther,” she said.
He then turned and left.
William smiled, and put down the bowl of warm water, with the towel, and soap, and laid beside them the small, white, folded garment.
She looked at it.
“It is identical to the one you are wearing,” he said, “only, of course, it is not filthy, not torn, not marked with blood. It was not dragged through the Rhodesian bush in the middle of the night.”
“I did not know there was more than one,” she said, numbly, looking at it.
“You are permitted, of course,” said William, “only one at a time.”
She looked up at him, then understanding better than before the planning that had taken place.
“When was it purchased?” she asked.
“With four others,” smiled William.
“When?” she asked, looking at him.
“When you accepted the retainer,” he said, “to come to Rhodesia.”
“I see,” she said.
“These garments were here,” he said, “folded and waiting, packed, before your arrival.”
“When I walked in the gate,” she said, “they were waiting for me.”
“Yes,” smiled William.
She put her head down.
“Don’t put it on,” warned William, “until you are clean and fresh.”
“Very well, William,” she said.
“When you are finished,” he said, “knock on ‘the door. I will then bring you water and a shampoo, to wash your hair.”
Brenda looked at him, gratefully.
When he left the room she knelt by the bowl and threw off the soiled, tattered garment she had worn. Rejoicing, she cleansed her body of the dirt, the filth, of the bush. She wrapped the towel about her head to keep her hair from her body. She slipped on the new, fresh, pressed, crisp white frock. It was identical to that which she had first worn, thin, very brief, sleeveless. She knocked on the door. “William,” she said.
The door opened and William entered, with two buckets of water, and a shampoo, and a fresh towel.
He sat in one of the cane chairs, straddling it, its back to her, watching her wash her hair.
“The brush and comb,” he said, “when you want them later, are where you left them.”
They lay at the side of the wall.
She knelt before the mirror and ran the comb through her hair, straightening it. She would comb and brush it later, fully, when it was dry. It lay wet and black, matted, straight, beautiful, down her back.
When she looked at him, he said, “Shave your legs, and under your arms.” He handed her a safety razor, containing a blade.
She used the soap and water, and the blade, and shaved herself.
Then she returned the razor, and the blade, to him.
William picked up the materials he had brought, the buckets, the bowl, the two towels, the other things.
She stood and faced him.
“You are very beautiful, Brenda” he said.
She said nothing.
“If you are good,” he said, “you will be fed well.”
She did not respond.
“Well, Brenda,” he said, “it seems that things are much as they were before.”
“Yes, William,” she said.
“Except,” smiled he, “that your ankles are chained.”
She did not answer him.
“You have very pretty ankles, my dear,” he said. “They look well in chains.”
There were only eight inches of chain separating her ankles.
“Keep yourself clean, neat and well groomed,” he said.
She said nothing.
“Kneel,” he said.
“Do you understand?” he asked.
“Yes, William,” said Brenda Hamilton.
He turned to leave and then again, for a moment, faced her.
“Tonight,” he said, “you are to be interviewed by Herjellsen.”
“What are you?” asked Herjellsen, sharply.
“A woman,” said Brenda Hamilton. “A woman!”
“What is your name?” demanded Herjellsen, sharply.
“Brenda,” she said. “Brenda!”
Herjellsen leaned back in the cane chair, satisfied. It was only then that Brenda Hamilton realized how different her responses were to such questions than they would have been only two weeks ago. Before, she would have responded unthinkingly, to the first question, “A mathematician!” and, to the second, “Doctor Brenda Hamilton.”
She knelt before Herjellsen. Her ankles were still chained. But now, too, by Gunther, her wrists had been handcuffed behind her.
Gunther and William, also on cane chairs, sitting across them, sat to one side, listening.
“The interview is over,” said Herjellsen, getting up.
Brenda Hamilton looked up at him, astonished.
“What do you think of men?” asked Herjellsen, looking down on her.
“I-I think they are very strong,” said Brenda Hamilton.
“Do you desire sexual experience?” asked Herjellsen.
“No!” cried Brenda Hamilton. “No!”
“Gunther’s report,” said Herjellsen, “suggests otherwise.” Brenda blushed scarlet. She recalled she had, on her knees, begged Gunther to fuck her.
“That you desire, or do not desire, sexual experience,” said Herjellsen, “is doubtless less relevant to the success of the experiment than whether or not you, yourself, are, by others, found sexually desirable.”
“Others?” asked Brenda Hamilton.
“But,” said William, “when a woman does desire sexual experience she becomes, surely, subtly, physically,, more desirable.”
“You have in mind,” asked Herjellsen, “subconscious body signals?”
“Yes,” said William, “but even more obvious than that such things as smiling, inadvertent posings and touchings, approaching the male more closely than the culturally accustomed distances.”
“How do you read her?” asked Herjellsen. He again took his seat on the cane chair. He looked at Hamilton.
“I have studied her,” said William, “and I read in her body great conflict between resistance and yielding.”
“I do not find conflict,” said Gunther. “If I snap my fingers, she will lay for me.”
Hamilton put down her head.
“I mean more generally,” said William. “For example, today, while I watched her comb her wet hair before the mirror, she was obviously holding herself differently than if I were not present.”
Hamilton swallowed. She realized she had performed this act differently, when under the eyes of William. She had done it more slowly, more luxuriously, more beautifully, than she would have otherwise.
“That is natural,” said Herjellsen. “It is only a young female posing before a young male.”
“Look at her now,” said Gunther. “See the shoulders, back, the belly tight. She is presenting herself to us, even now, as a female.”
Hamilton put down her head and wept.
“Do not weep,” said Herjellsen. “It is natural female display behavior. It is quite healthy.”
Hamilton looked up at him.
“The only thing to be ashamed of,” said Herjellsen, “is the guilt.”
Hamilton regarded him, red-eyed.
“You are really quite beautiful,” said Herjellsen. “Straighten your body, put your shoulders back, draw in your stomach, thrust out your breasts.”
Tears in her eyes, Hamilton did so.
William whistled. “A beauty,” he said.
And suddenly Hamilton was no longer ashamed to be beautiful before men. That right was hers. She was a female. She would be beautiful, boldly.
“A true beauty,” said William.
Hamilton looked at Gunther.
“A slut,” said Gunther.
Hamilton tossed her head, and did not retreat. She looked away from him, her head in the air. She remained beautiful.
“Excellent,” said Herjellsen.
He turned to William.
“How do you read this woman’s attitude toward Gunther?” he asked.
“She desires him, intensely,” said William. His voice was flat.
Hamilton did not look at Gunther.
“Some women,” said Gunther, “who do not desire sexual experience, are extremely attractive. Their very coldness, their haughtiness, is a taunt to the blood, a challenge. It is great sport to take them, and reduce them to whining, panting whores, to break them to your will, to make them beg for your touch.”
Hamilton swallowed, painfully. Her shoulders fell forward. She bent forward, her head was down. She was again only a chained, handcuffed girl kneeling before men, at their mercy.
“Weakness, and fear, too,” Gunther was saying, “can enhance a woman’s sexual attractiveness.”
“Among mammals,” said William, “one is the aggressor, one the aggressed upon. This is the sexual equation. In most species of mammals, if not all, it is the male which is the aggressor. Sexual aggression in the female commonly neutralizes male aggression and makes consummation of the sexual act impossible. It is a common device used by women hostile to men, to prevent intercourse and insult and punish the male. In their own mind, and in his, if he is uninformed, she appears to be eager for sexual experience and he appears to be unable to satisfy her, or to be impotent. With another woman, of course, he functions normally.”
“I encountered, twice, such women,” said Gunther. “I beat them.”
“Scarcely gentlemanly of you, old man,” said William.
“After they were beaten,” said Gunther, “they responded perfectly.”
“Abjectly?” asked William.
“Yes,” said Gunther, “and with numerous orgasms.” He looked at William. “They only wanted to find a man stronger than they were. Strong women, they wanted stronger men, men strong enough to make them women, strong enough to subdue them, completely.”
“And you were that man?” asked William.
“Yes,” said Gunther. “In their hearts, like all women, they wanted to submit.”
“And you made them submit?” asked William.
“Yes,” said Gunther, “I made them submit.” He looked at William. “I made them submit to me-completely.”
“And doubtless they loved it?” asked William.
“That was not my concern,” said Gunther.
“What was your concern?” asked William.
“Their submission,” said Gunther.
“Did they seem pleased?” asked William.
“They were obedient,” said Gunther, “and had numerous orgasms. They wished me to keep them with me, on any terms. One was rich.”
“You see, Gunther,” said Hamilton, “I am not the only woman who is attracted to you.”
“You were not spoken to,” said Gunther.
“Forgive me, Gunther,” whispered Hamilton.
“Weakness and fear, as I said,” said Gunther, “can enhance a woman’s attractiveness.”
“They provoke the aggressor,” said William.
“What of servility, and submissiveness?” asked Herjellsen of Gunther.
“Yes,” said Gunther, “particularly if they are enforced upon her-if she is given no choice.” Gunther regarded Hamilton. “Women revel in groveling,” he said.
“That is not true!” cried Hamilton.
“Be silent,” said Gunther.
Hamilton put down her head. Something deep within her stirred. Though she hated the thought, she knew that she was pleased to have been so sharply commanded. Gunther had given her an order, a strict one. It excited her to obey him.
“What of helplessness?” asked Herjellsen of William.
“Yes,” said William, “helplessness in a woman tends to provoke sexual aggression; it stimulates the male. This expresses itself, of course, in countless ways. She needs him, say, to open a window, carry a bag, move a heavy object. Both he and she are conscious of her weakness; she must ask his favor; he readily performs the tasks; she now owes him and she, being weak, being a woman, has only her body with which to pay him. She responds with sexual favors; in the civilized situation, these are trivial-smiles, words of gratitude, an entire body attitude of gratefulness. That the male wants these favors is indicated by his customary fury, should she offer monetary payment. It is her `thanks’ alone he wants. Naturally. Her ‘thanks,’ of course, are a culturally accepted, little understood, muchly desired by the male display of her femaleness before him. Symbolically, he has had her; winning her smile is for him surrogate for the possession of her body.”
“Interesting, said Herjellsen.
“A most obvious example,” said William, “occurs when the woman must take the automobile, in need of repair, to a mechanic. Though her socio-economic status may be far above his she must, in her ignorance, her helplessness, approach the mechanic with typical female submission behavior. Moreover, he will exploit this situation, by being patient, by looming over her, by listening to her attempt to explain the problem of the engine. Very few individuals, incidentally, can speak clearly of a complicated piece of machinery, or even know more than a few names for parts. Yet the mechanic’s attitude will make her feel inferior, ignorant, stupid, and he, by contrast, large and wise, efficient and strong. Soon she will be laughing at herself, and pretending she knows even less than she does. She finds herself forced into acting like a fool, petitioning for a favor. She smiles, she laughs uneasily, she moves her body, she is embarrassed, she blushes, she looks up at him. He agrees to repair the vehicle. He will find out what is wrong, and whatever it is he, the noble fellow, will fix it. She leaves. He has had a sexual experience. Similar exploitative matrices may exist in the context of the female student and male teacher, or the female employee and the male employer. Females are forced, in thousands of ways, to be pleasing to men, and, as they struggle to smile, and be pleasing, he symbolically enjoys her, has her, accepts her, for the time, as one of his women.”
“What do you think of this, Gunther?” asked Herjellsen.
“I think it is true,” said Gunther. “Further, perhaps to your surprise, I do not disapprove. Rather I approve. Women should smile, should be forced to engage in submission behavior before men.”
“Why is that?” asked Herjellsen.
“Because men are dominant,” said Gunther. “And it is right that women should submit to them.” He looked at Herjellsen. “Women do not smile and move provocatively because society forces them to do so; they do so because they are women; they are not the dominant sex. Display behavior, and submission behavior, is always displayed, throughout the animal kingdom, before the dominant organisms. It is natural for the dominant organism to elicit, or enforce, this behavior. Your mechanic, he in William’s anecdote, is dominant. It is thus natural for him to elicit, or enforce, display behavior, submission behavior, in your upper-middle-class woman. She is, after all, whatever might be her socio-economic class, only a female.”
“I’m afraid you are a male chauvinist, old man,” said William.
“As a scientist,” said Gunther, “I attempt to ascertain the truth. I do not respond like a slavering dog to political stimuli.”
“When I spoke of helplessness,” said Herjellsen, “I did not have in mind such things as being unable to locate one’s car keys.”
The three men looked at Hamilton. She had her head down. She knelt the short white dress well up her thighs. Her ankles, each snugly, were confined in the short, chain shackle. Her wrists, behind her back, were locked in Gunther’s cuffs.
Brenda,” asked Herjellsen. “Are you helpless?”
“Yes,” said Brenda. She lifted her head, and looked at them red-eyed. “How could I be more helpless?” she asked.
“If you were nude,” said Gunther.
She put down her head.
“She is powerless, and at your mercy,” said Herjellsen. “You are young males. Does that enhance her sexual attractiveness?”
“Yes,” said Gunther.
“Yes,” said William.
“It is natural,” said Gunther, “for a man to want complete power, absolute power, over a woman.”
“This has to do, perhaps,” said William, “with the aggression-submission equation. For the male, maximum power facilitates total aggression; for the female, utter powerlessness gives her no alternative to complete submission.”
“More important than such trivialities as handcuffs and ankle chains,” said Gunther, “is to force the female’s psychological submission.”
“Of course,” said Herjellsen, “we are creatures with minds.”
“The best lay that I ever had,” said Gunther, “was a girl given to me for the night by a friend; four years ago, a Bedouin chieftain.”
“What was she like?” asked William.
“Juicy, cuddly,” he said, “brown, quick, large dark eyes, long black hair. When I pulled away her silk I saw that he had had her branded.”
“Oh,” gasped Hamilton.
“She was a slave girl,” said Gunther, looking at her.
Hamilton averted her eyes. “Oh,” she whispered.
“Yes,” said Gunther, “a superb female slave-simply superb. When she entered the tent we both knew that she was in my absolute power. The psychological dimension was perfect. She stood there, waiting to be commanded. I could do with her what I pleased, and whatever it was that I pleased that is what I did with her. It was a most interesting evening.”
“What did you do with her?” asked William.
“I could do with her what I pleased,” said Gunther.
“And what did you do with her?” asked William.
“Exactly what I pleased,” said Gunther.
“I see,” said William.
“It was a most interesting evening,” said Gunther.
Hamilton did not look up. She wished she had been that female slave.
“This seems practical,” said Herjellsen, “only where there is an institution of female slavery, socially accepted, societally enforced.”
“It is practical,” said Gunther, “wherever men are willing to make slaves, and have the opportunity.”
Hamilton wished that she were Gunther’s slave.
“For example,” said Gunther, “this compound is isolated.” He gestured to Hamilton. “We could, if we wished, make her a slave.”
Hamilton looked at him. She was frightened.
“Do not be afraid, Doctor Hamilton,” said Herjellsen, “it is not we who will make you a slave.”
“I don’t understand,” she whispered.
Herjellsen rose to his feet. “It is late,” he said. He nodded curtly to Brenda Hamilton, kneeling before him. “Good evening, my dear,” he said.
Then he, followed by William, left the room.
“Stand,” snapped Gunther, “back to me.”
Brenda Hamilton, shackled, looked up at him. “Please help me, Gunther,” she said.
He placed his strong hands beneath her arms and lifted her lightly to her feet.
She stood close to him, shackled, wrists fastened behind her. She looked at him. “Please, Gunther,” she said. She lifted her lips to him.
“Turn,” he said.
She did so, and he, with his key, unlocked the handcuffs, and removed them from her wrists.
“Use the wastes bucket,” he said. “I will return in five minutes.”
“Yes, Gunther,” she said, head down, blushing.
In five minutes he returned. She was sitting on the cot. He looked at her. Quickly, she knelt.
“Lie on your stomach on the cot,” he said, “and place your left wrist under the iron bar.”
She did so, and he approached her. She felt one cuff locked on her left wrist, and then the other she heard snapped about the iron bar at the head of the cot.
He then bent to her ankles.
He removed the chain that confined them.
She rolled to her back, suddenly, sliding the handcuff along the iron bar, twisting the links, and faced Gunther.
She laughed with pleasure.
She lifted one leg, and then the other. They were long, slender, shapely, lovely. She had her eyes closed. She moved them slowly, exulting in the luxury of the movement. She lay then on her back, and opened her eyes. She stretched her left leg, and bent the right, knee lifted, heel on the mattress.
Gunther was watching her.
“It feels so good to move,” she said. She smiled at Gunther.
He looked at her, angrily.
“You do find me attractive, don’t you, Gunther?” she asked. She was smiling.
“Whore,” said Gunther.
“Yes,” laughed Brenda Hamilton, looking at him, “Doctor Brenda Hamilton is a whore.”
Gunther regarded her, puzzled.
“I’m your whore,” she said.
“I do not understand,” he said.
“Every woman,” said Brenda Hamilton, “if she is vital, for some man or other, would be his willing, eager whore.”
Gunther looked at her.
“I’m yours,” she said. She laughed.
“Whore!” he snapped.
“Only to you,” she laughed. “Not to William, or Herjellsen, or the blacks.”
He looked at her, not speaking.
“Sit beside me, Gunther,” she said. “Please.”
He did so. He sat on the edge of the cot, looking down on her, his left hand across her body, resting on the left side of the cot.
“I’m in your complete power, Gunther,” she said. She jerked at the handcuff, indicating that she was secured. She smiled. “You have absolute power over me,” she said. “Does that not excite you?”
He said nothing. His eyes were expressionless.
“You can make me do anything you want,” she said. “I will obey you, perfectly, completely.”
With his right hand, he touched her head, and then, holding her face, turned it from one side to the other, looking at it.
“Perfectly, completely,” she whispered.
He removed his hand from her face.
“Was the brown girl so marvelous?” she asked him.
“The slave?” asked Gunther.
“Yes,” said Brenda Hamilton, “-the slave!”
“Yes,” said Gunther.
“I can be better,” she said.
“Oh?” asked Gunther.
“Try me,” she said.
“Have me stand before you,” said Hamilton, “as she did, not knowing what you will command. See which of us is better!”
He put his hand at the neckline of her thin, cotton dress. She felt his fist in its fabric.
“Strip me!” she begged.
He looked down on her.
“I’m in your complete power, Gunther,” she said. “You have absolute power over me! You can do with me what you want! Anything! Whatever you want! Does that not excite you?”
“Yes,” he said.
“Too,” she whispered, “it excites me! I have never been so excited in my life, Gunther!”
She tried to sit up on the cot and hold him with her right arm. With his left hand he forced her right wrist down, and pinned it to the mattress. The handcuff on her left wrist confined her hand at the bar. The steel slid on the iron. She could not rise. She was held. Gunther’s right hand was still at the neckline of her frock.
She looked up at him.
“Could I not be your slave, like that brown girl?” she asked.
He did not answer her.
“Caress me, Gunther,” she begged.
Gunther stood up, releasing her. “Others will caress you,” he said.
“Others?” asked Hamilton.
“Yes,” said Gunther.
“But what if I do not want others to caress me?” she asked.
“It does not matter,” said Gunther. He bent down and picked up the chain and the two padlocks from the floor at the foot of the cot, and went to the door.
Brenda Hamilton rolled to her stomach, and screamed and sobbed, thrusting her mouth against the mattress. She squirmed and struck at the mattress, kicking it with her feet, pounding it with her right fist. She bit at it, sobbing, and scratched at it with the fingernails of her right hand. She turned on – her side, and held out her hand to Gunther, who stood by the door.
“Gunther!” she wept.
“Tomorrow night,” said Gunther, “we will attempt to initiate the final test sequence of the second series of experiments. Herjellsen has told me that you will be permitted to watch.
Hamilton regarded him, red-eyed.
“You yourself, as you have been informed,” said Gunther, “will figure essentially in the third series of experiments.”
“Why will you not make love to me?” asked Hamilton.
“Herjellsen has decided,” said Gunther, “that you are to be transmitted as a virgin. He expects that it may enhance your value, if trading is pertinent.”
“Value?” breathed Hamilton.
“Too, Herjellsen supposes,” said Gunther, “that they might be less likely to slay a virgin. A virgin might be something of a prize.”
“Who are-they?” asked Hamilton.
“We do not really know,” said Gunther. “But we suspect that they will have some connection with the Herjellsen artifact.”
“No!” cried Brenda Hamilton. “No! No!”
“There is some danger, of course,” said Gunther, “in transmitting a virgin.”
Hamilton looked at him.
“The sacrifice of virgin females may be practiced.”
Hamilton regarded him with horror.
“But, in your case,” said Gunther, “this seems unlikely.
Lovely as you are you are in your twenties, and this, we conjecture will be sufficient to remove you from this danger. Furthermore, such sacrifice, commonly, involves tribal girls of high station in the group, such being regarded as the fittest gifts for the gods.” Gunther looked at Hamilton. “You, not so much a girl as a woman, a stranger, ignorant, one foreign to them, one with no standing, no status, we conjecture will stand in little danger of being regarded as a desirable sacrifice.”
Hamilton sat now on the edge of the cot. She was aghast. She trembled.
“Furthermore,” said Gunther, “we commonly associate the sacrifice of virgins with agricultural economies, where men are more dependent on factors outside of their control, the weather, for example, than with hunting economies, where the nature of acquiring food, and the efforts relevant to its acquisition, are more clearly understood. Perhaps more importantly in agricultural economies the population is larger and the social institutions and structures more complex. A larger population is doubtless more willing to expend certain of its members; further there is in a larger population, naturally, less personal contact among all members, and this makes the sacrificial expenditure of a given member of the group a much more impersonal matter; furthermore, in the agricultural economy, with its larger population, you have, doubtless, an extensive, complex cult tradition, perhaps with its professional witch doctors or priests, providing the population with an elaborate justification for ritualized homicide. Social developments of this complexity would be less likely to occur in a hunting group. Furthermore, in a hunting group, where life would be more precarious, it seems likely to suppose that it might also be regarded as more precious. Women would be needed to bear children and carry burdens. It is not likely that they would be used as the victims in ceremonial homicides.”
“Oh, Gunther,” wept Hamilton. “Help me to escape!”
“Hunting groups, we conjecture, too,” said Gunther, “would, if they are to survive, be dominated by strong men, large men, rugged men, intelligent men, energetic, cunning and swift, men of much stamina, of sound constitution and hardy appetites.”
Gunther looked at Hamilton, and she shuddered.
“Such men,” said Gunther, “are likely to relish and appreciate, robustly, the bodies of their women. They will have better uses to put the bodies of their women to than human sacrifice.”
“You must help me to escape, Gunther,” wept Hamilton.
“With the conquest of agriculture, as you may not be aware,” said Gunther, “there was a concomitant degeneration of the human stock. This can be established skeletally, and also by cranial capacity. Modern man is smaller, and quite possibly intellectually inferior, to these free hunters. We have now, of course, in compensation, numbers and technology. We have libraries and a complicated culture. We are much more advanced, inferior, but much more advanced. We do not know what direction the race will take. As we are to the hunters, future man may be to us, miserable, petty and neurotic, or, perhaps, we shall grow again, toward the hunters-and the hunters will come again, from we ourselves-for surely we are their descendants, and surely we, somehow, somewhere, hidden within us, hold their promise-latent in our genetic codes the hunters may not be dead, but only asleep.” Gunther looked at Hamilton. “The race,” said Gunther, “is divided into the farmers and the hunters, those who grow millet and barley, those who trudge in the mud and dig in the soil the swarming mobs in the river valleys, scratching with their sticks and carrying their water, and the hunters, the lonely ones, the swift ones, the solitary ones, not understood, who will not dig in the soil, the ones who know the smell of the forest, the burrow of the ermine, the track of the caribou, who rise at dawn, in the cold, who can run fifty miles in one day, who can shoot the bow and hurl the spear, and live for weeks on the land, the cunning ones, the dissatisfied ones, the pursuers of meat.”
Hamilton looked at Gunther, strangely. Never had she heard him speak like this. He was usually silent, arrogant, taciturn.
“The world,” said Gunther, “is divided into those who fear, those who seek security, those who do not dare to lift their eyes from their narrow fields, and the other-the hunters.” Gunther was quiet for a moment, and then he spoke again. “Do you know where the hunters have gone?” he asked.
“No,” said Brenda Hamilton.
“The farmers, in their numbers, have killed them,” he said.
Hamilton regarded him.
“But they may not all be dead,” said Gunther. “Some may be only asleep.”
Hamilton said nothing.
“There has always been war,” said Gunther, “between the hunters and the farmers.” He smiled. “And I suppose there always will be.”
“There is nothing left to hunt,” said Hamilton.
“Mankind’s greatest game is now afoot,” said Gunther. He frowned. “The farmers will do what they can to prevent its pursuit.” “What game, Gunther?” asked Hamilton. “Meat!” said Gunther. “Meat fit for the godsl” “What meat, Gunther?” asked Hamilton. “The stars,” said Gunther. “The stars.” She looked at him. She shook her head. “No,” she said. “There is nothing more to hunt.” “There are the stars,” he said. Then he left her alone. Gunther is mad, thought Brenda Hamilton, he is as mad as the others. She lay back on the mattress and twisted in the heat. She jerked at the handcuff and cursed, and then tried to find a comfortable position in which to sleep.
Brenda Hamilton, fascinated, watched the leopard in the translation cubicle.
It was a beautiful, terrible beast.
It lay on its side on the smooth plastic of the cubicle. Its four feet had been tied together. Its jaws were muzzled. It was helpless. It had been drugged. It was now recovering. It whined, and struggled.
Hamilton recalled how she had first seen it in the wild, in the branch of a tree, lying across the carcass of a slain calf. Gunther, while William had distracted it, had struck it with an anesthetic bullet.
It had been captured.
Brenda, with fascination, watched the twisting beast, growling, whining.
She wore the white dress.
She sat in a cheap, kitchen chair, made of metal. Her hands, in Gunther’s handcuffs, were fastened behind her back. The cuffs had been placed before two of the narrow metal back bars of the chair and then pulled through. They had then been behind the chair.
“Sit in the chair,” Gunther had said.
He then pulled her wrists behind the chair and locked them in the cuffs, confining her to the chair.
The chain he had removed from her right ankle, looped it twice about the metal rung between the front legs of the chair, and then, snugly, fastened it once more about her right ankle. Her ankles were held back, close to the metal rung, fastened to it.
She was thus, doubly, confined to the chair.
Brenda watched the leopard. It was a capture.
She felt the handcuffs on her wrists, the chain on her ankles. She knew that she, too, was a capture.
Herjellsen sat beneath the steel hood, bent over, his fists clenched.
This night there was no play of light.
This night there was no dislocation of her time sense.
She watched the beast in the cubicle. It was uncomfortable, rebellious, growling, helpless.
Herjellsen sweated, fists clenched, bent over beneath the steel hood.
William and Gunther stood in the background.
Suddenly it seemed all strange to her, impossible, insane. She knew that what they were attempting to do could not be done. Even a child would know that.
It is insane, she felt. Insane! And she was locked in a shack, cuffed and shackled, with madmen!
The experiments, she knew, did not always go well.
She wondered if they ever had.
She recalled William and Gunther discussing Herjellsen, and fraud, and illusion, and madness, in the Land Rover.
She surely could not have seen once what she thought she had seen.
It could not have been true.
Then she was terrified.
She saw Gunther looking at her.
Herjellsen, at last, worn, exhausted, bent, withdrew from under the hood and, painfully, wearily, straightened his body. He looked at her blankly, his eyes blinking behind the large, heavy convex lenses. Then he left the shack.
Gunther turned off the equipment.
William left the shack.
It had been a failure.
The beast still lay, helpless, twisting, on the floor of the cubicle.
They had not transmitted it Gunther opened one of the cuffs and freed Hamilton’s wrists from the metal back bars of the chair, then closed it again on her wrist, keeping her hands cuffed behind her. He then freed her left ankle from the chain, disengaged the chain from the metal chair rung, and then, with the padlock, again fastened the chain about her left ankle, freeing her now completely of the chair, keeping her shackled.
He then lifted her small body lightly in his strong arms and carried her to her cell, where, after permitting her to relieve herself, he briefly withdrawing, he cuffed her to the cot, freed her of the shackles, and left her for the night.
She heard the padlocks locking the door.
“Gunther!” she cried, jerking against the handcuff.
But there was no response. She heard his feet leaving the porch.
“Gunther,” she wept, “what if it doesn’t work? What will they do with me?”
She lay in terror, handcuffed to the cot, looking up at the corrugated tin roof.
“Lie on your stomach on the cot,” said Gunther.
“Yes, Gunther,” said Brenda Hamilton.
It was now the night following the failure of the experiment with the leopard.
Hamilton had already placed her left wrist under the iron bar at the head of the cot. She felt Gunther lock the cuff on her wrist. How snug, and inflexible, it felt. Then she heard the other cuff closed about the iron bar. Then Gunther bent to free her of the shackles. She knew it would now be ten thirty P.M. At this time she was put to the cot.
“Gunther, she whispered, prone, the left side of her face on the mattress.
“Yes,” he said. He removed the chain from her ankles. He stood up.
“What-what if the experiment does not go well?”
He looked at her.
“What if it doesn’t work-if Herjellsen is not successful?”
“You mean if he cannot transmit you?” asked Gunther.
“Yes,” she said, “-if I cannot be transmitted.”
“Surely you understand,” said Gunther, “that you cannot be released.”
She turned, wrist back, lying on her side. She looked at him, fearfully. She, dragging the handcuff along the iron bar, sat up on the edge of the cot, her body twisted, turned to face him.
“You know too much,” said Gunther. “You could put us in prison for years.” He regarded her. “If the experiment is unsuccessful, if you cannot be transmitted, you will be disposed of in the bush.”
“I do not want to die,” she said, “Gunther.” She sat on the edge of the cot. She shook her head. “You would not kill me, would you, Gunther?” she asked.-
“Yes,” said Gunther.
She put her right leg on the cot, beneath her; her left leg was not on the cot; the toes only of her left leg touched the floor; her left leg was flexed; her body faced Gunther; her left wrist was back, handcuffed to the iron bar at the head of the cot.
She shook her head. “Don’t kill me,” she said.
He regarded her, unmoved.
“Sell me,” she whispered.
He did not speak.
“I am a Caucasian,”, she said. “William says that I am beautiful.”
Gunther said nothing.
“Surely you could get a good price on me,” she said.
“Do you know what you are speaking of?” asked Gunther.
“There are markets, are there not, secret markets, where white women are sold?”
Gunther looked at her. He did not speak for a long time. Then he spoke. “Yes,” he said.
Hamilton looked at him, agonized, pleading.
“I have been in two such markets,” said Gunther.
“You?” she said.
“I am trusted,” he said.
“Don’t kill me,” said Hamilton. “-Sell me.”
Gunther smiled. “What do you think your body is worth?” he asked.
“I-I don’t know,” she said.
“It might be interesting to see you on the block,” he said.
Her lower lip trembled.
“Can you smile?” he asked. “Can you pose? Can you excite the interest of buyers? Can you move your body in such a way that it suggests that it could be a source of incredible pleasure for a man?”
She looked at him with horror.
“If you do not perform well,” said Gunther, “you will be whipped.”
Hamilton said nothing.
“There are difficulties in transportation,” said Gunther. “You would have to be smuggled across borders in a truck, perhaps at a given point carried northward in a dhow.”
“Drug me,” said Hamilton. “I do not care if I do not awake until I am dragged naked before the buyers.”
He looked at her, carefully. “It could be done with you, I suppose,” he said.
“Yes, Gunther,” she said, “yes!”
“It would be simpler,” said he, “to dispose of you in the bush.”
“No, please, no,” she wept. “Sell me! Sell me!”
“Perhaps,” said Gunther, “perhaps.” He looked at her. “I shall take it under consideration,” he said.
He went to the door.
“Gunther,” she said.
“What is done to such women?” she asked. “Where are they kept?”
He shrugged. “In isolated villas,” he said, “in desert palaces, in luxurious slave brothels, catering to a rich clientele.”
“I see,” she said. Then she said, “Gunther, you have denied me sexual experience. I gather that if I were a slave, I would be granted such experiences.”
Gunther threw back his head and laughed. “Yes,” he said, “your master, or masters, and their guests, or clients, would see that you served them well.”
She put down her head, blushing furiously.
“Even superbly,” he added, smiling.
She clenched her small fists.
“You said,” said Gunther, “that you were my whore.”
“I am,” she said, “Gunther.” She looked at him. “Any time you want me, I’m your whore.”
“A slave girl,” he said, “is the whore of any man who buys her.”
“I know,” she whispered.
He laughed. “Any man,” he said.
“I know,” she whispered.
“You know nothing,” he said.
She looked at him, puzzled.
“A whore,” he said, “is a thousand times above a slave.”
“No!” she cried.
“Yes,” he laughed.
“Is it true, Gunther?” she begged.
“Men care more for their dogs, than for their female slaves,” said Gunther.
“No,” she whispered.
“It is true,” said Gunther. “I know.” He looked at her. “Would you not prefer to be disposed of in the bush?”
“No, Gunther,” she said. “Sell me.”
“Then,” asked Gunther, looking at her evenly, “you are truly willing to be a female slave?”
“Yes, Gunther,” she whispered.
He regarded her, half kneeling, half sitting on the cot, in the brief white dress, facing him, on the striped mattress, her hand back, handcuffed to the iron bar at the head of the cot.
“I always thought you were a slave,” he said.
She looked at him, angrily.
“Slave,” he sneered.
“Yes-slave!” she said.
“I see that you are still a virgin,” said William.
Hamilton was silent.
She stood before the two men, under the light bulb, barefoot on the floor of her cell, the cot and mattress in the background, stripped, freed of the shackles, wrists cuffed behind her back.
“Is your examination finished?” she asked.
“I would have thought that Gunther would have used you by now,” said William.
“She is for others to use,” said Gunther.
Hamilton’s physical examination had been thorough, including blood and urine samples taken earlier in the day.
William’s black bag lay beside his cane chair.
When they had entered the room together this evening, she had been startled. William was a physician. Gunther was not.
She had not wished to strip herself before Gunther, not in the presence of another man.
“Remove your clothing,” had said William.
“No,” had said Hamilton.
“Are you being insubordinate?” had asked William.
“No,” she had whispered.
Gunther’s eyes had met hers. He had snapped his fingers.
Clumsily, quickly, she had pulled the cotton shift over her head.
“Turn about,” he had said.
He had put her wrists in handcuffs, thrown her to the cot, removed the shackles from her.
“Stand,” he had said.
She did so.
“Come here, dear,” had said William, opening his kit, removing a stethoscope.
“Must Gunther be present?” she bad begged.
“Is a slave modest?” asked Gunther.
“No!” she said, angrily.
She had approached William. The examination had begun.
William now snapped shut his kit, but left it on the floor. He, sitting, Gunther, too, to one side, regarded her.
“Is the examination finished,” she asked.
“Come closer,” said William.
She did so.
He looked up at her. She looked away.
“Do you find that you desire sexual experience?” asked William.
“No,” she said.
“It does not matter,” said William. “That you yourself are found sexually desirable will be more than sufficient.”
Hamilton looked at him with horror.
“We shall now conduct a small experiment,” said William. He placed his hand, gently, cupped, between her legs. He lifted his hand, pressing it gently against her delta.
Hamilton looked away.
“Now say aloud, slowly, five times,” said William, “the name Gunther.”
She looked at Gunther. She did as she was told.
To her horror she felt her body, her hair, press into William’s hand. She wished it was Gunther’s hand.
William lifted the hand. He held it before Hamilton, who quickly turned her face away. For the first time, she had smelled the odor, her own, of an aroused female.
“For all practical purposes, Gunther,” said William, “this woman belongs to you.”
“I can have many women,” said Gunther.
Hamilton closed her eyes.
“Of course,” said William.
Hamilton opened her eyes, furious. “Are you quite finished with this examination?” she asked, icily.
“The medical portion is completed,” said William.
She looked at Gunther.
“Gunther,” said William, “was requested to be present by Professor Herjellsen. He is supposed to render something in the nature of a consulting opinion, though not precisely from the medical point of view.”
Gunther went behind Hamilton, and removed the cuffs from her.
She stood across the room from them.
“He is to render something in the nature of a flesh assessment, or appraisal,” said William.
“I informed Herjellsen I am fully capable of rendering such an opinion myself,” said William, smiling.
“I’m sure you are,” said Hamilton.
She looked at Gunther. His eyes frightened her. He had looked, she knew, on countless women. He had even looked on them in slave markets.
“How do you find her?” asked William.
Gunther did not answer him.
He continued to look at Hamilton, until her eyes fell, acknowledging his dominance, her femaleness.
“Do not, William,” said Gunther, “interfere with me in what I am going to do.”
“Very well, old man,” said William.
Hamilton looked at Gunther, angrily.
“You will follow my instructions implicitly,” said Gunther to Hamilton, “without question, without hesitation, and in your mind and imagination, as well as in your body.”
“No,” whispered Hamilton.
“A slave obeys,” said Gunther. His hands went to the buckle of his heavy belt.
“I will obey,” said Hamilton.
“A slave,” said Gunther, “is given no place to hide. Her entire person is her master’s. She is totally open to him. You will follow my instructions, accordingly, in your mind and imagination, as well as in your body.”
“I am not a slave,” said Hamilton.
“For the next four minutes,” said Gunther, “you are a female slave.”
“Gunther,” protested William.
“Do not interfere,” said Gunther.
William shrugged, angrily, and returned his attention to Hamilton.
“For the next four minutes,” said Gunther to Hamilton, “you are a female slave-only a female slave.”
Hamilton looked at him. “Very well,” she said, “-Master.”
William breathed in, sharply.
“Close your eyes,” said Gunther.
Hamilton did so.
“Think now,” said Gunther, “think deeply, of yourself as a slave.”
“Very well,” said Hamilton.
“It will be impossible for this to be simulated,” said Gunther, “for there is a congruence between the thought and the behavior, and if this congruence is not present, betrayed by the slightest, most subtle, unconscious inappropriateness of behavior, you will be beaten.”
She looked at him, frightened.
“Close your eyes,” he said.
She did so.
“You are familiar, surely, with Stanislavsky’s theories of acting?” he asked.
She nodded, terrorized.
“Think of yourself now,” he said, “profoundly, as a female slave.”
Hamilton, frightened, dared to do so.
Suddenly she felt herself slave. Her body shuddered. She moaned with misery. “You are now a slave,” said Gunther, “a slave girl, willess and rightless, completely at my bidding.”
Hamilton’s body shook.
“Do you understand?” asked Gunther.
“Yes,” she whispered.
“You are owned,” said Gunther. “You may be bought and sold. You may be whipped or slain. You are branded. You must do what men command you.”
Hamilton, in misery, slipped to her knees, her head down.
“Before,” said Gunther, “you were acting, but you are not acting now.”
She shook her head.
“Now,” said Gunther, “the acting is finished-what are you now?”
“A slave,” she whispered, “-Master.”
“To the block, Slave,” said Gunther.
Brenda Hamilton stood on the slave block, her body reflecting the torchlight. She felt sawdust beneath her feet. She felt herself turn and felt the auctioneer, his hand on her arm, exhibiting her. She heard the cries, the bids, of the men.
“You have been sold,” Gunther informed her.
She stumbled from the block. She felt her wrists locked in slave chains. She felt herself hooded.
When the hood was torn away, in a large, marble-floored room, with rings set in the floor, she first saw, clearly, the features of her master.
She had been fastened by the wrists to one of the rings.
“He beats you,” said Gunther.
She writhed beneath the blows of the whip.
Sobbing in pain she felt her wrists unfastened from the ring.
“You are eager to please him,” said Gunther.
She danced her beauty before him, to placate him, pleadingly, piteously.
“He consents to let you please him,” said Gunther.
Hamilton crept to the cushions and arched her body for the kiss and touch of her master.
Suddenly she felt her left hand handcuffed and heard the other cuff closed about the iron bar at the head of the cot.
Her face was slapped to one side.
“You are no longer a slave,” said Gunther. “You are the female prisoner, Doctor Brenda Hamilton.”
“Yes, Gunther,” she said. She turned her head to one side.
William was standing, watching her, in awe. “Fantastic,” he said.
“That is how an assessment is made of a woman, short of using her,” said Gunther.
“What is your opinion?” asked William.
“What is yours?” asked Gunther.
“Incredible, fantastic,” breathed William.
Gunther looked at Hamilton. “She is satisfactory,” he said.
With his foot he shoved the wastes bucket to the side of the cot.
They had not put the shift on her again.
The men turned to leave.
“Gunther,” said Hamilton.
“Yes?” he said.
“Why was I examined today?” she asked, red-eyed.
“Did William not tell you?” asked Gunther.
“No,” she said.
“Yesterday evening,” said Gunther, “quite late, we managed to transmit the leopard.”
She looked at him.
“You understand what this means?” he asked.
She shook her head.
“We can now transmit an animal of that size and weight,” he said.
She looked at him.
“Nothing now stands in our way,” said Gunther. He regarded her. “The third phase of experiments can soon begin.” He looked at her. “How much do you weigh?” he asked.
“One hundred and nineteen pounds,” said Hamilton.
“The leopard,” said Gunther, “weighed one hundred and forty pounds.”
“It seems, then, Gunther,” she said, “that I need not fear either the bush or the slave markets of the north and east.”
“Not our bush,” said Gunther, “not our markets.”
She looked at him.
“Doubtless there are other wildernesses,” said Gunther, “other men, other markets.”
She pulled at the handcuff, defeated.
“More wine, Doctor Hamilton?” inquired Herjellsen. “Yes,” said Brenda Hamilton. Herjellsen nodded, and one of the blacks, in a white jacket, stepped discreetly forward and filled her glass. “Thank you,” said Brenda Hamilton. The black did not reply. “May I smoke?” asked William, drawing out a cigarette. “Certainly,” said Hamilton.
He lit the cigarette. “Would you like one?” he asked.
“No,” said Hamilton.
They sat at table in Herjellsen’s quarters, where, in earlier weeks, they had commonly dined together, a continental supper, served at nine P.M., after the heat of the day.
Herjellsen, and William and Gunther, wore evening clothing, black tie.
Brenda Hamilton wore an evening gown, a slim, white sheath, off the shoulder. She had never worn such a gown before. It fitted perfectly. Except for a string of pearls, and two pearl earrings, it was all she wore. Gunther, standing behind her, had put the pearls about her neck.
Her ankles, her wrists, were free of fetters.
Hamilton looked down at the white linen tablecloth, the napkin, the silverware.
There was candlelight.
The evening was comfortable.
The conversation, mostly unimportant talk, had not been unpleasant.
Hamilton sipped the wine.
“A toast,” said Herjellsen, lifting his glass toward Hamilton. “I had forgotten until now,” he said, “how beautiful a European woman could be.” He used “European” in the African sense.
Gunther, with William, and Herjellsen, lifted their glasses to her.
“Thank you,” said Hamilton.
She blushed, and lowered her head, pleased in spite of herself, in the depth of her new-found womanness, which they had released in her, at being the object of their admiration. William, she had seen, had not taken his eyes from her all evening. Even in Gunther’s eyes she had detected a grudging admiration. This had stirred her, helplessly, deeply. He was the most exciting man she had ever seen. She knew she was his for the asking, even though she knew he despised her, and had, as her jailer, treated her with contempt, with harshness, and even cruelty. She sat among them as a slim, erect, elegant young woman, educated, beautiful, and civilized, in a white sheath gown and pearls, but she knew that if Gunther wanted her, she would yield to him on his own terms, whatever they might be. If he so much as snapped his fingers, she would prepare herself, eagerly, for him. She wanted to serve him, intimately, desperately, at length, even if he, in his cruelty, forced her to take payment for doing so, a cigarette, or a shilling. She sat across the table from him, looking at him, over the candlelight. “Do you know, Gunther,” she asked him, silently, to herself, “that I, sitting here, elegant in my white silk and pearls, am your whore?” She regarded him. He smiled. She put down her head. She knew that he knew.
She sipped her wine, finishing it.
“More wine?” asked Herjellsen, attentively.
“No, thank you,” said Hamilton.
“Coffee,” said Herjellsen to one of the blacks, standing nearby, in his white jacket. The fellow left the dining area.
“I had thought,” said Hamilton, to Herjellsen, “that I was not to be permitted cosmetics, perfume.”
Tastefully, and fully, beautifully, she had adorned herself this evening. She had, of course, been instructed to do so.
“Tonight,” said Herjellsen, “is a night on which we are celebrating. We have worked hard. We have been successful. You would not begrudge us our wine, surely, our supper, the stimulation of your lovely presence.”
“Of course not,” she said. She smiled.
“We have treated you rather harshly,” said Herjellsen, apologetically. “But we have done so in the hope that we may have, thereby, increased your chances of survival.”
“I find it difficult to follow your reasoning,” said Hamilton.
The coffee was brought, black, hot, bitter, in small cups. On the tray there was a small container of assorted sugars, with tiny spoons.
“I have made a positive identification,” said Herjellsen, “of the rodent, which you observed being brought into the translation cubicle. The family is obviously Muridae. It is a species similar to, but not precisely identical to, the widely spread, cunning, vicious, highly successful Rattus norvegicus, the common brown rat, or Norway rat. It is doubtless an ancestral form, the only actual difference being that the teeth are more substantially rooted.”
“Does this identification have significance?” asked Hamilton.
“Of course,” said Herjellsen. “It is a commensal.”
“I-I do not know the word,” said Hamilton.
“A companion at meals,” laughed William.
“A commensal,” said Gunther, “is an animal or plant that lives in, on or with another, sharing its food, but is neither a parasite to the other, nor, normally, is injured by the presence of the other.”
“It thrived in the Pleistocene,” said William, “and thrives today, one of the most successful forms of life the world has ever seen.”
“It supplants allied species,” said Gunther. “It is a swift, curious, aggressive, savage animal, with the beginnings of a tradition, older animals instructing the younger, particularly in avoidance behaviors, as in preventing their consumption of dangerous or poisoned food.”
“A very successful co-inhabitant of our Earth, my dear,” said Herjellsen, “but, more importantly for our purposes, a commensal.”
“It entered Western Europe from Asia in prehistory,” said Gunther, “as an accompanier of migrations.”
“The current brown rat,” said Hamilton, “is a commensal of man.”
“Precisely,” said Herjellsen. “And so, too, was it in the beginning.”
Hamilton could not speak.
“You see now the significance of the catch?” he asked.
She shook her head, not wanting to speak.
“It gives us the coordinates of a human group, a living human group,” smiled Herjellsen.
“This is much more accurate than a stone tool,” said William. “Such a tool, particularly if adequately protected from weathering, and patination, might have been abandoned or dropped hundreds of years ago, or years earlier.”
“Where the brown rat is found,” said Herjellsen, “there, too, will we find man. They are companions in history.”
“You said,” said Hamilton, “that you treated me harshly, that my chances of survival might be improved.”
“Yes,” said Herjellsen. “It is our anticipation that these men do not live in an environment so hostile and cruel that they need fear, in practice, only the scarcity of game, or so remote and impenetrable that no others would care to live there. Eskimos, for example, are a kindly people, trusting, helpful, affectionate, and, in a very different environment, so, too, are the Pygmies of the Congo.”
“Such peoples, you note,” said Gunther, “have been driven from choicer lands by more aggressive competitors.”
“What are you trying to tell me?” asked Hamilton.
“Xenophobia,” said Herjellsen, “or the hatred of the stranger, is an almost universal human phenomenon, at one time, judging by its pervasiveness, of important evolutionary import. Groups who did not distrust strangers were either destroyed, or driven into the remoter and harsher portions of the Earth. Too often, in the history of the world has the stranger meant ambush, treachery, disaster.”
“Interestingly,” said William, “this suspicion tends to be somewhat reduced during the prime mating years, particularly those of adolescence and the early twenties.”
“That, too, doubtless,” said Herjellsen, “has played its role in mixing and distributing genes among diverse populations.”
“Why don’t you transmit a man?” begged Hamilton.
“We think,” said Herjellsen, calmly, “they would kill a man.”
“Kill?” asked Hamilton.
“Surely,” said Herjellsen.
“That is why we are transmitting a woman,” said Gunther, “and one who is young and not unattractive.”
Hamilton looked down. It was the closest Gunther had ever come to complimenting her.
She looked up at Herjellsen. “How do you know they will not kill me?” she asked.
“We do not know,” said Herjellsen.
“What do you expect them to do with me?” asked Hamilton.
“If they have a language,” said Herjellsen, “you will not be able to speak it. You will be to them a stranger. You will not be known to them. You will have no kinship ties, no blood ties, with the group. You will be to them an outsider-a complete outsider. You will not be a member of their group.” Herjellsen smiled at her through the thick lenses. “Do you understand, my dear,” asked Herjellsen, “what that might mean-in a primitive situation-not being a member of the group?”
“What do you expect them to do with me!” demanded Hamilton.
“You will be transmitted naked,” he said, “and, as Gunther has observed, you are not unattractive.”
“What will they do with me?” whispered Hamilton.
“Make you a slave,” said Herjellsen.
Hamilton looked down, miserable.
“Drink your coffee,” said Gunther. Hamilton sipped the coffee.
“If you were a man,” said William, “they would probably kill you.”
“I do not want to be a slave,” whispered Hamilton. Then she looked up. “Slavery,” she said, “is a complex societal institution. Surely it could not exist in such a primitive society.”
“Apache Indians,” said Gunther, “in your own country, kept slaves.”
“Semantics is unimportant,” said Herjellsen.
“You will be an out-group female,” said Gunther. “Doubtless you will live, if you are permitted to live, on their sufferance, depending presumably on how well you please and serve them. You would be, of course, subject to barter and exchange.”
“-I would be a slave,” whispered Hamilton.
“Yes,” said Herjellsen.
“You have been training me for that?” asked Hamilton.
“When a man enters your room, what now is your inclination?” asked Herjellsen.
“Unthinkingly,” said Hamilton, “I feel an impulse to kneel.” She reddened. “You have made me kneel, as a prisoner, in the presence of males,” she said.
“This is to accustom you to deference and subservience to men,” said William.
“You must understand,” said Herjellsen, “that if you were transmitted as a modern woman, irritable, sexless, hostile, competitive, hating men, your opportunities for survival might be considerably less.”
“We do not know the patience of these men,” said Gunther. “They might not choose to tolerate such women.”
“We have tried to teach you various things in your training, my dear,” said Herjellsen, not unkindly. “First we have tried to teach you that you are a beautiful female, which you are, and that this is a glorious and precious thing in its own right, and that being a woman is not the same as being a man. Each sex is astonishing and marvelous, but they are not the same. We have tried to teach you the weakness, the beauty, the vulnerability, the desirability of your womanhood. We have tried to teach you that you are a woman, and that this is deeply precious.”
Hamilton, though she did not speak, knew that in her incarceration, she had for the first time in her life, accepted herself as a woman, and had found joy in doing so.
These men, cruel as they might have been, had given her to herself.
She was grateful to them. She was no longer the little girl who had wanted to be a little boy, nor the young woman who had pretended her sex was unimportant, and had secretly wanted to be a man. She was now a woman happy in her womanhood. She looked at Gunther. She rejoiced that he was a man, not she. She wanted to be held by him, and had, helplessly, yieldingly. She wanted to be a woman in his arms.
Herjellsen put down his coffee. “It is our hope,” said Herjellsen, “that we have improved your chances for survival in an environment of primitive realities.”
“Other aspects of your training,” said William, “were reasonably straightforward. For example, the cleaning of the floor and walls of your quarters accustomed you to manual labor. The alignment of the cot was intended to induce discipline, attention to detail, neatness, compliance with the arbitrary will of a male.”
“Your punishments,” said Gunther, “have taught you to expect humiliation and pain if you are disobedient or insubordinate.”
“You have been very thorough, Gentlemen,” smiled Hamilton.
“We have perhaps saved your life,” said Herjellsen.
“It might all have gone for naught,” said Hamilton, “if I had escaped.”
“You had no opportunity to escape,” said Herjellsen.
Hamilton looked at him, puzzled.
“You were given utensils,” he said, “that you might attempt escape.”
“Oh,” said Hamilton.
“The first time, of course, we did not permit you to escape. I used muscle reading to locate the missing utensil. This was to induce a feeling of psychological helplessness in you. We were interested to see if this would crush you. Happily, it did not. That very evening, with a second utensil, you attempted your escape. You are a brave, fine woman, intelligent and resourceful. We were proud of you.”
“I told William, that night,” she said, “that no fork had been brought with the tray.”
“I thought I had fooled him,” she said.
“You were an excellent actress,” said William. “I had been informed, however, that your escape attempt would take place that night. Indeed, that is why the second fork was provided with your food that evening.”
“How did you know I would try that night?” asked Hamilton.
“It was simple, my dear,” said Herjellsen. “You were anxious to escape. You did not know how long you might have, before your portion of the experiment began. You would attempt to escape as soon as possible. Further, you would know that the missing fork would be noted, at least by morning. You would know, too, that its location, if hidden, could be revealed by the technique of muscle reading. Thus your attempt to escape, and a brave one it was, to essay the bush at night, alone, would take place that night.”
“We heard you digging out,” said William.
“We even interrupted the guard in his rounds,” said Herjellsen, “that you would have time to dig under the fence.”
“I hoped you weren’t shocked too severely,” said William.
“No,” she said. She looked at Gunther. “I was clumsy to touch the wire, wasn’t I, Gunther?” she said.
“We thought you would strike out for the road,” said Herjellsen.
“But Gunther, with a dark lantern, followed the trail for some time, to ascertain this,” said William.
“You followed me, Gunther?” she asked.
“For a time,” he said. “I then returned to the compound”
“It was not difficult to pick you up in the Land Rover,” said William.
“I left the road,” she said. “You followed.”
She recalled the frantic flight through the bush, the headlights of the Land Rover, the searchlight on its side, the sting of the anesthetic bullet.
“You were not difficult to take,” said Gunther. “But the hunt was enjoyable.”
“I’m pleased,” she said, acidly, “that I gave you sport.”
“It is pleasant,” said Gunther, “to hunt women.”
She recalled falling in the bush, crawling, being unable to crawl further, then being captured,. her wrists dragged behind her, their being locked in Gunther’s cuffs.
She recalled being lifted, thrown, secured, over his shoulder, and being carried to the Land Rover. She had then lost consciousness.
“And, doubtless,” she said, “it is pleasant, after bringing your catch home, to make them slaves.”
“Yes,” said Gunther, “doubtless that would be pleasant.”
“You are a beast, Gunther,” she said.
He smiled. He shrugged. “I am a man,” he said.
“Finish your coffee, Doctor Hamilton,” suggested Herjellsen.
Hamilton finished the small cup of bitter, black fluid.
Brandy was brought for the men. Herjellsen, and William and Gunther, lit cigars.
“Would you like a liqueur?” asked Herjellsen.
“Yes,” said Hamilton.
It was brought. It was thick, heavily syruped, flavored with peach.
Hamilton sipped it.
“The escape phase of the experiment,” said Herjellsen, “permitted us to test your cunning and your initiative. Both proved themselves satisfactory.”
“Thank you,” said Hamilton.
“In the bush itself, of course, as we expected,” said Herjeljsen, “you behaved like a frightened, ignorant woman.”
“I suppose,” said Hamilton, sipping the liqueur, “that my `training’ was also enhanced in some way by my escape attempt?”
“Yes,” said Herjellsen. “We regarded it as important to give you the experience of being a fleeing, hunted, then captured woman.”
“It is a very helpless, frightened feeling,” said Hamilton.
“We wished you to have it,” said Herjellsen.
“The most important lesson of the escape phase, or perhaps I should say, the `failure-to-escape’ phase,” said Gunther, smiling, “was to imprint, and imprint deeply, in your consciousness the incontrovertible recognition that you had not escaped-that you had been caught-and were once again, and more securely than ever, the prisoner of men.”
Hamilton recalled the misery with which she had understood this.
She had been, thereafter, their experiment finished, shackled during the day, handcuffed to the cot at night. They had needed no more data. She was held, perfectly.
And Brenda Hamilton knew, deeply within her, that her futile escape attempt, summarily punished by a brief humiliating beating, stinging, trivial, a woman’s beating, had never been realistic. She would have left a trail. To a practiced eye it could have been followed. She knew then that, even if the Land Rover had not been used, she could have been retaken, and almost at their leisure. How female she had felt, how helpless. She was angry. And how swiftly, in a matter of days, the short rations, the bread and water, had brought her to her knees before them, promising compliance.
She had come to understand, as it had been intended that she should, that men were dominant, and, if they chose, women were at their mercy.
The room seemed dark at the edges.
She sipped again the liqueur.
She had failed to escape. She remained the captive of men.
“We had difficulty, as you may recall,” said Herjellsen, “in transmitting the leopard.”
“Yes,” said Hamilton, shaking her head.
“It is interesting,” said Herjellsen, “but I met resistance.”
“How is that?” she asked.
“I felt it,” said Herjellsen. “Earlier we had failed to transmit the beast when it was unconscious. When you observed, it was conscious-but resisting.”
Hamilton recalled the animal, twisting, growling.
“It could know nothing, of course, of what was occurring,” said Herjellsen, “but still it was distressed, angry, displeased, resistant.”
“You failed to transmit it?” said Hamilton.
“Later, when it was partially anesthetized, we managed to transmit it,” said Herjellsen, “when the resistance was lowered.”
Hamilton steadied herself with a hand on the tablecloth.
“Interesting that a beast could resist,” said Herjellsen. “Fascinating.”
“I will resist you!” suddenly cried Hamilton. “I will resist you!”
The room seemed to be growing darker.
“It seems unlikely,” said Herjellsen.
“I do not feel well,” said Hamilton.
Herjellsen appeared concerned. He glanced at William. “It is a temporary effect,” said William.
“When is your experiment to take place?” asked Hamilton.
“Tonight,” said Herjellsen. “Now.”
She shook her head.
“Strip her,” said Herjellsen.
She felt Gunther removing the pearls from the back of her neck.
She could not resist.
“The liqueur has been drugged,” explained Heriellsen. “You will not resist.” Then he spoke to Gunther and William. “Remove her clothing and clean her,” he said, “and then place her in the translation cubicle.”
“Please,” wept Brenda Hamilton. “Please!”
She felt Gunther remove the earrings from her ears.
Brenda Hamilton, raw, lay on her stomach in the translation cubicle.
She heard the men outside.
“No,” she wept. She struggled, weakly, to her hands and knees, her head down, hair falling forward. She tried to lift her head.
“Raise the power,” she heard Herjellsen say, the voice seemingly far away, on the other side of the plastic.
“No,” she wept, and again sank to her stomach. She lay on the cool, smooth plastic, almost unable to move her body. She tried to close her hand into a fist. It was difficult to do so. She only wanted to lie still, to rest, helpless, on the plastic.
“It is beginning,” she heard William say.
She opened her eyes. To her horror she saw, at one corner of the cubicle, a tracery of light, darting, swift.
Herjellsen sat before his apparatus, his head beneath the hood, his fists clenched.
Slowly, muscle by muscle, she moved her body, raising herself again to her hands and knees. She tried to lift her head.
She saw a tendril of light appear now to her right.
She lifted her head. She looked out through the plastic. It was heavy. She saw that it had been, on the outside, reinforced with metal piping.
She rose to her feet. Light played about her ankles. “No,” she whispered. She could not feel the light. She was conscious only of a tiny coolness.
A set of beads of light darted from one side to the other of the cubicle.
She stumbled against the plastic wall and, weakly, tried
to beat on it with her fists. “Please!” she wept. “Let me out! Let me out!”
Tears streamed down her face.
She saw Gunther and William, impassive, on the other side of the plastic.
“Gunther!” she wept. “William! William!”
Suddenly it seemed a tendril of light moved about her leg. She kicked wildly at it. She tried to thrust the light from her body. She could not see the floor of the cubicle now, though she felt it, as firm and cool and solid as before, beneath her bare feet.
“Let me out!” she wept.
It seemed to her suddenly that she was a little girl in a closet, crying to be let out, pounding on the wood in the darkness. The voice that seemed to cry within her was that of a child.
Then she saw again William and Gunther outside, and Herjellsen, under the hood.
She shook her head, wildly, having sensed the dissociation which as a psychological concomitant, occasionally accompanied the presence of the Herjellsen phenomenon.
She must resist, she knew. She must resist!
Her body, her will, was weakened, but she would fight. She could fight, and would!
She stood in the center of the cubicle, bent over, fists clenched, hair wild. “No!” she cried. “No! No! No! No!”
It seemed that light, wildly, swirled about her; for an instant she feared she might drown in light, but then she realized that there was no impediment to her breathing, indeed, that the very phenomenon of light itself depended on some reaction with oxygen in the cubicle.
“No!” she said.
Then she felt herself, as though being buffeted, reel in the cubicle. But she knew that no blows were struck upon her body. Yet it seemed she was struck, as though by sound that could not be heard, but felt.
She felt herself weakening, and fell to her knees at the plastic wall, almost lost in light. She piteously scratched at the plastic, trying to find a crevice, a flaw, that might admit of her access, secure her release.
Outside she saw Gunther and William.. Their faces wore no emotion.
She shook her head, and fell half backward from the wall and rolled to the center of the cubicle. Then she could see nothing, nothing but the light, which like a brilliant, luminous, sparkling golden fog almost blinded her. She shut her eyes. “No!” she said. “No!” She rose again to her knees. She clenched her fists, now tightly. “No!” she cried.
When she opened her eyes again, to her astonishment, her relief, the light was gone.
She was alone in the cubicle.
Outside she saw Herjellsen, no longer beneath the hood. He was standing outside, looking at her. Gunther and William stood to one side.
“You have failed!” she cried.
Her heart bounded with elation. They had been unable to transmit her. They had failed.
“I have resisted you!” she cried. “I have resisted you!” She laughed. “You have failed!” She looked at Gunther. “You will have to sell me, Gunther!” she cried. “You will have to sell me!”
Herjellsen, she saw, picked up a small microphone from the table, near the hood.
“Can you hear me?” he asked.
She nodded. She heard his voice, quite clearly. The speaker was fixed in the ceiling of the cubicle.
“Turn their eyes,” he said, “to the stars.”
She looked at him, puzzled.
Then she said, “You have been unable to transmit me. My will was too strong for you. You have failed.”
“Turn their eyes,” said Herjellsen, “to the stars.”
“It will not be necessary to dispose of me in the bush, Professor Herjellsen,” she said. “There is an alternative. I realize you cannot simply release me. But there is an alternative, an excellent one, to consider. I have discussed this with Gunther, and he informs me it is practical.” She drew a deep breath. “I can be sold,” she said. “Please, Professor Herjellsen,” she said, “do not kill me.” She looked at him. “Instead let me be sold.”
“We have no intention of killing you, my dear,” said Herjellsen, “nor, indeed, of having you sold.”
“I-I do not understand,” she said.
“Retrieval of living material, once transmitted,” said Herjellen, “is apparently impossible. Retrieval was attempted with the leopard. We received only certain fragments of bone. These have been identified as those of a contemporary species of leopard, but the dating has fixed the acquisition at better than twenty-eight thousand years ago.”
“I do not understand what you are saying,” said Hamilton.
“I am saying,” said Herjellsen, “that it seems that retrieval is impossible.”
“Retrieval?” she asked.
“Yes,” said Herjellsen.
“What has this to do with me?” she whispered.
“Surely you must understand,” said Herjellsen, “that the chamber is now open.”
She looked about herself, in terror. Everything seemed the same.
“Don’t kill me,” she said. “Sell me!”
“It will be necessary neither to kill you nor sell you, my dear,” said Herjellsen.
“I don’t understand,” she said.
“The chamber is now open,” he said.
“You are mad, mad!” she screamed.
“Turn their eyes,” said Herjellsen, “to the stars.”
Hamilton threw back her head, and threw her hands to the side of her head, and screamed.
Brenda Hamilton knelt, head thrown back, hands pressed to the sides of her head, screaming, in cold, wet grass, in the half darkness.
“No, no, no!” she wept.
She threw herself to her stomach in the cold grass, and clawed at it, and pressed the side of her cheek against it. She felt her fingers dig into the wet mud at the roots of the grass. “No,” she wept. “No!”
A light rain was falling. “Herjellsen,” she wept. “No!” She felt cold. “Please, no!” she wept.
She rose to her knees, shaking her bead. She felt the cold, wet grass, flat and cutting, on her legs and thighs. She was cold. “No,” she wept. The sky was dark, except for a rim of cold, gray light to her left. “No!” she cried.
She rose to her feet, unsteadily, cold, in the half darkness. She felt mud with her right foot.
The rain, slight, cold, drizzling, fell upon her. She cried out with misery.
“Herjellsen!” she cried. “William! Gunther! Take me back! Take me back! Do not send me away! Please!”
She screamed to the dark, gray, raining sky, standing in the wind, the cold rain.
“Take me back!” she cried. “Do not send me away! Please! Please!”
She knelt down and seized the grass with her hands. “I’m here!” she cried. “I’m here! Take me back! Please!” Then suddenly she screamed, and fled stumbling from the place. “It seems retrieval is not possible,” had said Herjellsen. All that had been recovered of the leopard had been crumbled bone, indexed by carbon dating to a remote era, more than twenty-eight thousand years ago.
She looked at the place, in the early, cold light, where she had lain and knelt.
It seemed no different than other places she could make out, except that the grass had bent beneath her weight, wet, crushed.
She crept back to it, and put her band timidly to the grass. Suddenly there was a stroke of lightning, broad and wild, cracking in the sky, and she screamed and fled away, falling and getting up.
In that stroke of lightning she had seen illuminated what seemed to be an open field, of uncomprehended breadth.
Thunder then swept about her, a pounding drum of sound, a stroke, rolling, of great depth and might, and suddenly the rain, wild with wind, following the turbulence in the sky, lashed about her.
She looked up, crying.
Again and again lightning split the darkness. She stood alone. Thunder smashed the world, pounding about her. Rain lashed her body.
“Herjellsen,” she cried, “I am here!”
Then she threw herself down on the grass, naked, terrified of the lightning, whipped by the rain, covered her head with her hands, and wept.
In a few moments the storm had abated, and there was again only a light drizzle of rain. It was lighter now, and there was, all about her, the gentle, cool, gray of dawn. She could see the field extending away from her, on all sides.
The light was substantially to her left, which direction she surmised was East.
She stood up, in the drizzling, cold dawn, and looked about.
She tried to find where she had first knelt, but could not do so.
She was hungry.
She took grass and sucked rain from it. The grass had a sweet taste. The drops of water were cold.
She looked up into the sky. The clouds were vast, the sky was vast. The rain had almost stopped falling now.
“I am here, Herjellsen,” she whispered.
Then she remembered that in the human reality, in time as it could only be understood by humans, Herjellsen, and Gunther and William could not hear her.
They had not yet been born.
She kept the sun on her left and began to walk, generally south.
Tree’s nostrils flared.
He smelled female. And it was not one of the group. The other men did not notice. Several were sleeping. One was working a peeled, slender shaft, holding the wood over a small fire, softening it, and then inserting it through one of the holes in the drilled board, then bending the shaft carefully, straightening it.
Tree looked about the camp. It was a trail camp, a day’s trek from the flint lode, two days’ trek back to-the shelters, a half day’s march from the salt. Tree had found the salt, following antelope. But Spear had said he had found the salt. Spear was first in camp.
Tree rose to his feet, and stretched.
It was not an attack, for a female would not come in the attack.
The attack would not come from upwind.
It was not the Ugly People. The smell was not the Ugly People.
An ugly girl was in camp, who had been captured when Spear and two others had killed her group. She was short, and stooped and had large bones. Her head did not sit on her shoulders as did that of the Men; it leaned forward, looking at the ground; it was hard for her to lift her head; she had a squat body; her knees were slightly bent. The Ugly People, though, were good hunters. They could follow a trail for days, by smell, loping, heads down, like hunting dogs, on the scent. But Tree was a greater hunter. He did not envy the Ugly People. They were not of the Men. In the camp, only Runner could outdistance Tree, and Runner was slight, but heavy chested. Tree was stronger, and could throw further. Tree was strongest in camp, except Spear, who was first.
Tree did not count as we would, nor was there need for him to do so. We would have found that there were forty-seven individuals in the camp. If Tree had spoken of this, and he might have, for he had a language, the language of the Men, he would have told us that there were two hands in camp, for there were ten men, and it was these that were counted. But he would have grasped the concept of counting beyond this, if it had seemed important. If there had been eleven men in camp, he would have said there were two hands and one finger in camp, for that would be eleven individuals. Further, if one had asked him, if all in the camp were men, how many men would there be, he would have thought and said, then there would be nine bands and two fingers, or forty-seven individuals, only, of course, that there were really only two hands, for there were only ten men. If Tree’s group had dogs, or goats, for example it would not have occurred to him either to count those, but he might have done so, if asked. For example if each dog was also a man, then how many men would there be, and so on. But Tree’s group did not have dogs, or goats. They did have, though, like other groups, children and females.
There were ten men in Tree’s group; there were sixteen women; a woman is a female who can or has borne young; there were twenty-one children; a child is a female who is too young to bear young or a male who is not yet able to run with the hunters. There was only one woman in camp who was too old to bear young. Such women were rare. She was Old Woman. There were no old men. There had been one, but when he had gone blind, Spear had killed him.
The men in the camp were Spear, who was first, and then Tree finest of the hunters; Runner, who could single out an antelope and in hours, run it to death, until it fell, gasping, and be would cut its throat; Arrow Maker, whose hands were the most cunning of all; Stone, who never laughed; Wolf, who did not look into one’s eyes, and hid meat; Fox, quick shrewd, who had once come from far away to trade flint for salt, and had stayed; he could speak the hand language of the Horse Hunters and Bear People; Spear bad not killed him; he stole meat from Wolf; Knife, ill-tempered, cruel, the son of Spear; Tooth, a large man, fearsomely ugly, with an atavistically extended canine on the upper right side of his jaw, teller of stories, popular with children; and Hyena, whose brother was said to be a hyena who spoke to him in dreams; the medicine of Hyena was thought to be the most dangerous in the camp.
There were sixteen women in the camp, but few of them are important. We might remark, at this time, Short Leg, docile with men, fierce to the women, dominant among the females; Old Woman, who tended the night fires; Flower, sweet-hipped, blond, sixteen years of age, most avidly sought, most frequently used, of the camp women; and Nurse, a large woman, fat, whose breasts had not been permitted to dry, whom the camp keeps to give suck to the young.
There were too, twenty-one children in the camp, nine boys and twelve girls, ranging from infancy to the age of fourteen. These knew their mothers, but not their fathers. The others were only the Men. Kinship lines were simple because of the small size of the group, and relationship was traced through the female. This was not a matriarchy, if that implies that women had power, for the women, being women, had no power. We may, however, perhaps speak of the group being matrilineal, meaning by this only to denote the fact that kinship ties, such as they were, were, and, under the circumstances, could only be, established through the mother. The men, of course, stood in awe of the growth of a child and its bringing forth. They, too, of course, stood in awe of the growing of the moon, the coming of grass in the spring, the appearance of fruit on hitherto barren branches. Specific paternity, puzzling as it may seem to us, was not of great account with them. But that the group should have young, that it should continue, that there should be new hunters, was for them a matter of great concern. Fertility was of great moment. It was not that the men did not know the connection between conception and birth, for it was familiar to them, but rather that the family, as we often today think of it, insular and monogamous, was not yet an economic or social practicality. There might, under such circumstances, be women who did not bear young; and there might be men who, protecting or defending a given woman or given set of children, would not stand with the group, and the group might thus perish. One might say either that the family, as we know it, did not then exist, or that the group, the whole, was the family. It is somewhat misleading to speak in the latter sense, however, for the emotions of men and women being what they are, one could not, in the group, under the circumstances, have the same sense of love or loyalty that can bind together smaller social structures. There was, in Tree’s group, little love, save that of mothers for their children, a phenomenon of significant evolutionary consequence, pervasive among primates. There were, of course, in the group, shifting couplings, and favorites. The instinct to pair bond, strongest in the female, who needed a protector, was present; she had a biological desire, constantly rebuffed, to attach herself to a given male, thereby assuring her his attention and her feeding; he, the hunter of meat, was less instinctually driven to pair bond, but he, too, when the female was pleasing and served him well, was not unaverse to maintaining, at his will, a longer-term relationship. But the facts were simple. The female needed the male. The hunter did not need the female. The hunter could choose his women. No one in, the camp would starve, but to be fed well, if one we’re not a child and not pregnant, it was well to be a hunter’s woman.
To be a hunter’s woman meant, in effect, to be his favorite. This did not preclude the hunter using the bodies of other women for his pleasure, as the whim or urge came upon him. He could do what he wished, for he was a hunter. If he were a successful hunter, he might add to the number of women he fed. Spear fed five women. Tree, greatest of the hunters, fed what women he wished, when he wished. He had not permitted any of the women in the camp to kneel regularly behind him at the feeding, at his shoulder. Out of the relationship of favorite to hunter, and jealousy, and pride in one’s children, not yet understood, would come in time marriage, intragroup mating restrictions.
In short, the women belonged to the men, but relationships were in actuality much more complex than this. Each woman did not, so to speak, belong to each man in the same way. Women, in whom the pair bonding instinct is stronger than in males, tended to attempt to become the females of given hunters, their favorites; and among the men, too, there were those who felt more attracted to one woman than another, and, accordingly, tended, as one would expect, to feed her more often, or regularly. If she should displease him, he would then throw her no more meat, and then, if she were not pregnant, she would try to please another hunter, to be fed. If she were pregnant, of course, she would be well fed. But, interestingly, after the child was cast, she would again have to compete for food, with the other women, trying to please a hunter. If she was unsuccessful, she would have to creep to the bones when the others were finished, and scavenge what she might, for herself and the child. There was usually little ‘left. It was important to a woman to be pleasing to a hunter, if she would eat.
Tree bent down and picked up his pouch, his spear and rawhide rope.
Arrow Maker looked up.
“I am going hunting,” said Tree.
He took his way between the huts, which they built far from the shelters.
These huts, most of them, consisted of poles and branches. First a round pit was scraped, a foot deep, some eight feet in diameter. In the center of this circle a rooftree was planted, a peeled pole, with projecting, peeled branches. Other poles then, planted in the rim of dirt-about the edge of the circle, the dirt from the pit, leaned against the center tree. They were, further, tied in place with root and vine. This framework of poles completed, branches were then interlaced among them. Then, beginning at the bottom, that each layer overlap the lower layer, a thatch of broad-leaved branches was woven into the lateral branches, those placed in and about the pole framework. Rain, thus, falling from one thatch of leaves, dripped to the next, and did not enter the hut. The rim of dirt provided not only an easy foundation for the poles, even and soft, but kept rain from entering the house pit. In the front of the pit, in front of the tree, was the cooking hole. There were six such huts, round huts, and two others, built quite similarly, except that they were rectangular in shape and had two rooftrees; and a roof beam between them, consisting of a long pole. The poles of the side walls leaned against this elevated, central pole, running the length of the hut. The back poles, closing the rear of the hut, leaned against the back rooftree. Both sorts of huts, the round huts and the rectangular huts, were open in the front. In the rectangular huts the cooking hole was in the center. The rectangular huts had a width of some eight feet, and a length of some twelve feet. The group had made only round huts, but Fox, who had come from far away, had introduced the rectangular hut. Spear had had Hyena dream on the matter before permitting Fox’s women, those he fed, to build according to his directions. Hyena’s dream had been favorable. The Horse Hunters built such huts, and there was luck for horse hunting in them. Spear wanted his hunters to be able to hunt not only antelope, and moose, and elk, but, if the need should arise, horse, too. No one in the group knew the horse prayers, but this did not mean they might not, if the need arose, be able to hunt horse. The horses might be fooled by the rectangular huts. Too, Hyena could make horse prayers, and if they were good prayers, maybe the horses would let themselves be killed. If one who was not a Horse Hunter killed a horse, of course, there could be danger. If the horse was angry, the men might die from the meat. But if the huts were rectangular and the prayers were flattering, perhaps trouble could be avoided. The horses might be gracious, and the group could feed. There was no reason why horses should let themselves be killed only by the Horse Hunters. Spear’s hunters were good hunters, and it was not dishonorable for horses to let themselves be killed by them.
“Where are you going?” asked Spear.
“I am going hunting,” said Tree.
He continued on.
To one side he saw Knife, who was the son of Spear. His descent was figured through Crooked Wrist, a woman who had died many years ago from the bites of a cave lion, who had hunted men in the vicinity of the shelters. But there was no doubt that he was the true son of Spear. The resemblance was clear, the same narrowness of eyes, the same heaviness of jaw, and so it was known that Knife was Spear’s son.
Tree did not know if any of the small children in the camp were his. He had had, since beginning to run with the hunters, seventeen years ago, all the women in the camp, except Short Leg, Old Woman and Nurse. And he had not wanted them.
The woman who had borne Knife had originally been called Fern. She had once displeased Spear. He had broken her wrist. It had not healed cleanly. She had come to be called Crooked Wrist. Nine months after her wrist had been broken the boy, to be called Knife when old enough to run with the hunters had been pulled bloody from her body.
The cave lion had killed four members of the group before it had been caught in a pit and killed with stones.
Spear had been fond of Fern. The cave lion, dying under the stones, had died slowly. Spear had not seen fit to hurry its death. Sometimes even now, many years later, Spear angrily called the name of Fern in his sleep. This did not please Short Leg, lying awake beside him, who was now first among the women whom he fed.
No one now in the group, except Stone and Spear, knew what the pit had been like or how it had been baited. Old Man would have known, but, when he had gone blind, Spear had killed him. Old Woman was old, but she had been purchased from the Bear People after the lion had been killed, for two sacks of flints. In those days she had been called Pebble; the man who had bought her had been called Drawer, because he made marks in the sand with sticks. Later he had been called Old Man.
Spear, who knew Knife as his son, coming to understand this as the boy had grown, was proud of him, in a way many of the Men not knowing their own sons, found it hard to understand. But Tree thought he understood. Tree thought it would be good to know one’s son. One could then teach him to be a great hunter. And one could be his friend. But though Spear was proud of Knife, he was not his friend. Spear feared Knife, for he thought Knife would supplant him, and become first in the group. Knife had already killed one man, fighting over meat in the winter, and was much feared in the group. Many of the Men, Fox, and Wolf and Stone, chief among them, did not understand why Spear, fearing Knife, did not kill him. But Tree thought he understood. One could not kill one whom one knew was one’s own son. It would be worse than the killing of one’s self. It would not be a good thing. Many of the men did not understand this. But Tree understood it, and he thought Arrow Maker, too, might understand it. If Tree had a son, he would not kill him. He would teach him to be a great hunter. And be would be his friend, and, sometimes, when the fires were small, he would talk with him.
And so Spear waited for the time when Knife would kill him, and become first in the group.
“Where are you going?” asked Knife. He was lying in the grass behind one of the huts, on one elbow, pulling at a piece of dried meat with his teeth.
“I am going hunting,” said Tree.
At Knife’s feet lay Flower. She was licking slowly at his ankle. He pulled off a piece of dried meat in his teeth and, with his hand, held it down to her. She took it in her teeth, and began to chew it, moving slowly, with her lips and hands, up his leg.
At the edge of the camp there were two sets of poles. The first set of poles was a meat rack, consisting of two upright poles and, lashed across them, several small poles, over which were hung strips of meat, drying in the sun. The other set of poles was a game rack, or skinning rack. It consisted of two crossed poles at each end, bound together at the top, and a lateral pole, set in the joinings of the end poles. From it, upside down, hind feet stretched and bound to the pole, hung a small deer. Its throat had been cut that morning and the blood, dripping, had been caught in a leather piece, fitted into a concave depression in the ground. The hunters, as was their wont, had drunk the fresh blood. That it was a source of iron to them they did not know; they did know that it gave them strength and stamina. Blood was prized. Many of the women did not know its taste. None of the children knew. A boy was not permitted blood until he had killed his first large game animal. Then it was his right to drink first. The deer had been killed by Stone, who had driven it into a thicket and then broken its neck.
Ugly Girl whimpered and cowered away from Tree as he strode past.
He looked down on her. She crouched, bent over, her thick-legged, squat, round-shouldered body shaking. She looked up at him, her hair like black strings, her eyes stupid and frightened, like those of an animal.
Tree despised those of the Ugly People, though he had never killed any of them.
Spear, with Knife and Stone, had surprised Ugly Girl’s group and had killed them all, with the exception of Ugly Girl.
In camp Spear had tied a short rawhide strap on her ankles, shackling her in leather. She could move about the camp, but clumsily. and slowly. She could not run. When she had been brought to camp the children and women had much beaten her with switches. Then, when they had tired of this, they had put her to work, carrying water in the
hide buckets from the stream, gathering stones for the cooking holes, gathering wood for the fires. She was still much beaten, for the Men did not care for the Ugly People. Her heavy, clumsy fingers could not easily untie the rawhide. When Spear had caught her doing so, he had switched her until she had howled and covered her head with her hands. She then knew she was not permitted to touch the rawhide shackles. She knew she might, in time, untie them, but now she was afraid even to touch them. In her simplicity and stupidity, she remained shackled. She looked away from Tree, down at the dirt, whimpering. Had she been able to reach the leather with her teeth she might have bitten through it, tearing it in her teeth, but she could not reach it.
Tree did not kick at her nor cry out at her, to frighten her. He ignored her. He did not know why Spear, and Knife and Stone, had not killed her as well as the others. She was not a woman. She was a female of the Ugly People. Tree would not have wanted her, any more than a doe or a mare. She could not even speak, though, he knew, the Ugly People did make noises which, among themselves, somehow, they found intelligible. It did not occur to Tree that they, like the Men, and like the Horse Hunters and the Bear People, might have a language. He knew, of course, that he, and the others, even Fox, could not understand her noises. Nor, as Fox established, did she know the hand sign of the Horse Hunters and the Bear People. Thus Tree inferred that Ugly Girl could not speak. Or, more exactly, he inferred that she was unable to speak until she had been brought to the camp of the Men. Here the children had taught her certain noises, which she could, in her guttural, half inarticulate way, imitate. Tree thought that Ugly Girl should be grateful to the Men, for they had taught her to speak, if only a few words. But Ugly Girl did not seem grateful, only miserable and frightened. The children of the Men, Tree noted, learned the words more swiftly than Ugly Girl. She was stupid, not of the Men. One could see that she was dull, that she understood nothing, that she was only an animal. Sometimes at night she cried.
Tree turned and looked back at Knife and Flower. Knife had now taken her by the hair and drawn her between his legs, where she, laughing and kissing, sought to please him.
Elsewhere he could see Feather, a thin woman, grooming Stone, taking lice from his hair, eating them.
She would lick sometimes his neck with her tongue, and whimper.
The women groomed the men. Men did not groom women. Women groomed one another, and the women, too, groomed the children. Children were permitted to groom one another, until the boys became old enough to run with the hunters.
Now Feather lay on her back before Stone, whimpering, and lifting her body to him.
Stone regarded her for a time, and then he crawled to her, and, as she cried out with pleasure, locked her helplessly in his arms.
It was the Capture Position, bolding the female down, confining her movements, making her helpless.
Feather cried out her pleasure to the camp.
Flower, angrily, broke away from Knife, and lay before him, lifting her body to him.
He went to her, and took her in his arms.
Soon, she, too, cried out with pleasure.
The women of the Men had two hungers, each as open, direct and piteous as the other. For the one hunger it was common to open the mouth and point a finger to it, and then extend the hands, palms up; for the other hunger it was not uncommon to do as had Feather and Flower, to lie before the hunter and, sometimes piteously, lift her body to him.
Again, from upwind, came the scent of female to Tree, and not one of the group.
In the camp he heard one woman, and then another, cry out her hunger, excited doubtless by the cries of Feather, and then Flower. He had seen this happen before in the camp. Soon, like a contagion, the manifestation of their need might spread, woman to woman, each in her moaning and whimpering stimulating the other, and then they would approach the males, timidly, fearing to be struck, and creep to their feet, begging to be touched. There were ten hunters in the camp, and sixteen women.
Tree caught the scent again, but it was fainter this time. He must hurry.
“Tree!” cried a woman, seeing him, standing between two huts. There was another woman behind her. They were Antelope and Cloud. He had often fed them.
Tree looked to Flower, still wrestling, laughing, in the arms of Knife, who was once more refusing to release her.
He would have liked Flower, but Knife now held her. He did not want to fight Knife.
“Tree!” cried Antelope. She was tall, dark-haired, young.
Cloud was shorter, more timid, thick-ankled, younger than Antelope.
Tree’s eyes warned them not to approach.
“Tree,” called Antelope. She fell to her knees. So, too, behind her, did Cloud. Either, or both, was his for the asking.
“I am going hunting,” said Tree.
He was aroused. He was angry. He thought he would take Antelope, but then he might lose the scent.
Antelope kicked well, he enjoyed her.
“Tree,” called Antelope.
“I am going hunting, said Tree, angrily, and turned, and left the camp.
Once outside the perimeter of the camp he stopped and, nostrils distended, drank in the scent. He had not wanted to do this in the camp, for fear another hunter would see, and, too, test the wind. Tree’s senses were sharpest of the hunters, but the senses of these men, on the whole, would have seemed incredible to later, smaller men. There was not one of them who could not smell deer, in a favorable wind, at a thousand yards, or locate the droppings of small animals in high grass, by scent alone. They could see squirrels against a network of branches at two hundred yards, observe clearly the bright eyes of circling eagles, and mark instantly the place where a paw had minutely pressed aside a bit of leaf mold. The breathing of a human being they could hear at fifty feet, that of the cave lion at one hundred. Tree, alone of the hunters, could follow a trail by night, by smell.
He was angry, for in the camp the women had been becoming aroused. Soon they would be much in their need. Tree enjoyed seeing them in their need.. He enjoyed seeing them come to him, creep to his feet and, whimpering, lift their bodies to him. Then he would take which one he wished. When their need was upon them they kicked well, any of them. But Tree had his favorites. His favorites were Flower, and Antelope and Cloud. Flower was quick to arouse, but she did not, Tree thought, kick as well for Tree as for Knife. This made Tree angry, and made him desire her more. Flower, he knew, wanted to be the woman of the leader. Tree would not be the leader. Knife would be the leader, when he had killed Spear. But Antelope and Cloud, Tree admitted, kicked well for Tree, very well. Even when their need had not been upon them, it would become manifest when he touched them. He had only to take them in his arms to make the desire-smell break forth from between their thighs. The desire-smell excited Tree. It made him want to have the women. Old Woman, when he had become old enough to run with the hunters, had showed Tree how to make the desire-smell come in any woman, if he wished. She had also showed him how to touch, and be patient, and wait, like a hunter, caressing and licking until a woman, even one resistant, could not help but kick for him. “I did not want to be the woman of Drawer,” Old Woman had told the youthful Tree, “but he made me kick for him.” Her eyes had been shining, in the wrinkled skin. She had cared much for Drawer. But when he had become Old Man, he had gone blind, and Spear had killed him. But it took time to do with a woman what Old Woman had shown him, and Tree, like the other hunters, seldom had such patience. It was usually not as Old Woman had told him. When the members of the band were in their need things did not usually proceed as Old Woman had recommended. The woman, if in her need, usually came whimpering to the hunter, lifting her body to him; she would then be used at whatever length he might please; the hunter, in his need, no other hunter intervening, usually took what woman he wished, swiftly, then discarded her. Often, of course, the women, even if not in need, would lift their bodies to the hunters. They would do this to please them, and to be fed. It was well to be pleasing to a hunter, if one were not pregnant, if one would eat.
In the feeding, Spear cut meat first, for he was the leader. He would give meat, then, to the hunters. Later they would cut their own meat. Pieces, then, by Spear, or Tooth, or others, would be thrown to pregnant women, and to the children. The smaller children were thrown separate pieces, that they might eat; the older children were thrown a larger piece of meat which the oldest and strongest, who might be male or female, but was usually female, for at this age the females tended to be larger than boys of comparable age, would divide among them. The leader of the older children in Spear’s group was the girl, Butterfly, who was not popular with the children, for she played her favorites in the distribution of the meat; the young boys hated her, for she made them beg her for meat; in time, of course, as she grew older, and the young boys grew tall and straight, and strong beyond her, and she became a woman and they became hunters, their situation would be, to the pleasure of the boys, well reversed. She would learn to lift her body to them.
As the men were eating, and the meat had been thrown to the pregnant females and the children, the other females would creep nearer, for the men, if they wished, to feed them. They might not steal meat or take it for themselves, for they were women. The only exceptions to this were Old Woman and Nurse, who took meat when they wished, neither challenged. Old Woman was simply Old Woman; and Nurse was important for the small children, the infants. Sometimes a mother did not have milk. In some human groups, the Bear People, for instance, nursing mothers were extended the same meat rights as pregnant females, but this was not so in Spear’s group. In Spear’s group such women obtained their meat like other women, by begging and by being pleasing to hunters. Spear had discovered that a woman who needs meat to make milk in her body for her baby will kick well. After the hunters were finished, of course, anyone, woman or child, might fall on the remains of the repast, to pick what bones might be left, to poke about in the ashes for bits of gristle or to lick grease from the charred wood of the fire. After these were finished, Ugly Girl would, the others not stopping her, creep to the fire, scratching and smelling for what might be left. It was not always the case, of course, that a woman would beg for meat, or lift her body to the men to be fed. Such women, though rare, often wandered away from the groups. Usually they died; if they did not die they did not have children. Women who wished the touch of hunters, who accepted being owned by them, who willingly, eagerly, lifted their bodies for meat, would be those women who would survive, whose children would be born, whose young would take in time their place, in turn, as hunters and the women of hunters.
Tree now circled the camp, not losing the scent. It was not difficult to follow.
He carried his pouch, his rope, his spear.
For four days Brenda Hamilton had wandered in a generally southward direction, in the morning keeping the sun on her left and, in the evening, on her right.
At the end of the second day she had come to the end of the rolling grassland in which she had first found herself. She had dug roots and found wild strawberries, and had drunk at small pools of rain water. Once she had come to a larger watering hole, near which were the prints of numerous animals. The water had been muddy there, and she bad not drunk. She had gone around the hole and continued on her journey. She saw only one herd of animals, a herd of some twenty horses. They were the size of large ponies, and had an unusual mane, stiff and erect, like a brush. They were tawny in color, and kept well away from her, even when she attempted to approach them more closely. She did not know, but they had been hunted. They knew the smell of men. If she had gone further to the north she would have found more animals, herds of bison and smaller groups of aurochs. In the mud at the watering hole she had found no prints of paws, except those of tiny animals, rodents and insectivores, with one exception, those of a pair of apparently large animals, feline, it seemed, who had come to the water to drink together. The great majority of the prints at the watering hole were those of small, hoofed animals, doubtless mostly those of horses, of the sort of which she had seen one herd. There were other prints, too, hoofed, which, being smaller, she conjectured were those of various, lesser ungulates. The larger paw prints had frightened her. She had not lingered at the watering hole. They were the prints, though she would not learn this until later, of one of the most beautiful, and dangerous, animals of the Pleistocene, the giant cheetah.
In the late afternoon of the second day she bad come to what seemed to be an endless, linear stand of deciduous trees, oak, elm and ash, and yew and maple, and others she did not recognize, stretching northeast by southwest. Entering the trees she discovered a long, swift stream, quite cold, flowing southwestward. She drank at this and, finding a wide place, using a pole to thrust ahead of her to test her footing, she forded it, and then, on the southern bank, followed it southwestward. Within an hour the grasslands, at first visible through the trees on her left, bad disappeared, to be replaced with darkly green, forested country. By nightfall she could no longer, either, through the trees, see the grasslands on her right.
She had left the fields.
She had come to the forests.
The forests, with their darkness, and their sounds, frightened her.
She tried to make a fire by rubbing sticks together, and striking rocks, and failed.
It was cold at night.
She slept fitfully. Once she awakened and screamed. Not more than twenty paces from her, in the moonlight, she saw the dark forms of more than a dozen doglike creatures, curious, watching her. When she screamed, they moved away, scurrying, but then continued to watch. She wept and screamed and threw rocks and sticks at them. Two snarled, but then the pack turned, and, as one, faded into the trees.
Weeping, Hamilton climbed a tree, and clung to the branches.
They had been wolves.
Man is not, and has never been the natural prey of wolves, a quadruped that strikes for four-footed game. Her erect posture might have saved her. Or her smell, which was not the game smell of wolves. The wolf, in its pack, like the hunting dog, is a tireless tracker and bunter, and a successful pack killer, and ruthless, and savage, but it is not, and has never been a predator on man. Had it been so the dog, derivative from wolf stock, doubtless would never have been domesticated. And, too, perhaps, man would not have survived. Wolves, however, are curious animals, a trait indicative of animal intelligence. Human camps were often objects of curiosity to them, and it was not uncommon for them to scout them, and prowl them. Wolf eyes beyond the firelight, almond and gleaming, were not unusual. Humans did not, however, fear wolves, for the wolf did not hunt them.
It was sometimes otherwise with the cave lion, if the animal were old or crippled, or with leopards.
Hamilton, who did not know the hunting habits of wolves, was terrified.
She determined to leave, if possible, the forest, but she did not wish to return to the grassland. The prints of the large felines she had seen by the watering hole still frightened her. She reasoned that if she continued to follow the stream she might remain indefinitely within the forest, for it might, even to the sea, margin the waterway, broadening, too, as other streams fed into it, or it, itself, became a tributary to some larger flow of water, perhaps a great forest-encompassed river. Too, she wished to move generally southward, rather than southwestward. The terrain and vegetation about her reminded her strongly of that of the temperate zones, and this made her afraid of what winter might be like. The season of year in which she found herself in this fresh, frightening world seemed surely to be late spring or early summer. The grass in the fields had reached generally halfway up her calves. The trees were not budding, but openly and richly leaved, and still a rich green. The season was not dry as she would have expected in late summer. She went south, rather than north, correctly ascertaining by the stars, their familiarity to her, their difference from the African night, that she was in the Earth’s northern hemisphere. Had the night sky been that of the southern hemisphere, she would have trekked north. She began to go south immediately, for she had no idea how long it might take to reach a climate which might remain mild throughout the year. She lacked clothing; she lacked shelter; she lacked, as far as she knew, the skills even to make a fire; she did not believe she would survive in the winter; there would be little to eat, if anything; and there would be the cold. She trekked south.
Her main motivation to follow the streams and rivers was to keep close to drinkable water, though she would, when possible, drink from rock pools, filled with rain water, rather than from the streams, which were often dark with mud, washing silt down to the sea, draining basins perhaps hundreds of miles wide. Small, clear forest streams, emanating from springs, much pleased her. River water frightened her. Still she must, at times, drink. It would take weeks, she knew, to die by starvation; but she could thirst to death in less than four days.
Still she had made her decision to depart from the stream, which was moving southwestward.
She feared the forest; she did not know the habits of wolves; she did not wish to be led by the streams too far west, for she wished to move more directly south. There were two other reasons, too, why she elected to move more directly south, though she scarcely dared to consider them explicitly. The first was that she suspected that men might exist in this time, in these countries, and follow the rivers, or make their habitations near them. The last thing she wanted, perhaps paradoxically, for she was inutterably lonely, was to encounter men. She did not even know if they would be human. Her imagination was terrified. She wondered if they might appear subhuman primates, with great jaws and long arms, or, if they seemed human, if they might have, in effect, the minds of apes. At best, she knew, they would be ruthless, and savage. She did not wish to fall in with such. With uneasiness she recalled Gunther’s speculations as to whether or not they might sacrifice virgins. He had speculated that they, being hunters, would not. Herjellsen had said that they were sending a woman, because a man would be killed. But, might they not kill a woman, too, especially if she were not a member of their group, if she were an utter stranger? At best they might keep her as an oddity, or, more likely, as a pet or, if they found her body of interest, as a slave. She would, at all costs, avoid men. Brenda Hamilton smiled to herself. She was beautiful, sophisticated, and highly intelligent. She had a Ph.D. in mathematics from the California Institute of Technology. She had no intention of becoming the slave girl of savages. The second other reason for moving more directly south than could be achieved by following the stream was that she feared reaching the sea. The sea on one side would be a wall. She knew she might be hunted, or pursued, from the forest, and, across the beach, driven against that wall. Against the sea she could be trapped. Gunther had told her that in fenced game preserves lions had learned to drive antelope against the wire fences, trapping them for the kill. She had no wish to be in a position where she might be so trapped. She feared to be hunted, by whatever might hunt her, whether it might be animal or human, or near human. She did not want the sea closing off one hundred and eighty degrees of an escape route. Also, of course, she feared that, at the edge of the sea, there might be men, either in their habitations or using the relative openness of the beaches for trekking.
Accordingly, Brenda Hamilton left the stream. If she did not find fresh water after one day, it was her intention to return to the stream, and again follow it.
On the third day of her trek, however, the first day of leaving the stream, she discovered, to her pleasure, that her southward journey transected various small brooks, and that rock outcroppings, in which water could be found, were relatively plentiful. Less to her pleasure, she did not discover the trees thinning, or giving way, as she had hoped, to either grassland or savannah country; sometimes she walked on a carpet of leaves, between tall trees, whose canopied branches all but obliterated the light of the sun; sometimes, in the heat, naked, feet and ankles scratched, her body struck by branches, she forced her way, foot by foot, through what seemed to be an inclosing, almost impenetrable thicket of trees, brush and fallen timber. Once she came to a broad, scarred, half-blackened belt of stumps; it took her more than half an hour to traverse it; it was now scattered with patches of green, and tiny shoots of trees, bright, in the grayish earth, where rain had mixed with ashes and soil; the cause of the fire, she conjectured, would have been lightning; it would have taken place, presumably, in the last dry season, late in the preceding summer or early in the succeeding fall. She thought that she was entering ever more deeply into the forest, and to some extent she was, but, when the evening of the third day fell, she was startled to discover a stream that was flowing not from her left to right but from her right to left, and, to her dismay, she found the evening sun on her left, rather than her right. Her path, described, would have resembled a large hook; she had not circled, but she had, in the thickets, during the time of high sun, turned gradually back on her path; it was difficult in the forests, for one who could not read the forest, and Brenda Hamilton could not, to keep a straight direction; the common strategem of marking out distant landmarks and trekking to them was not available to her; and her stride, even if it had not been for the forest, was not even; few humans, not trained in the military, can maintain an even stride; over a period of hours, and miles, the unevenness tends to bring about, unless compensated for, say, by noting directions or landmark trekking, a gradually curved path, not the desired linear progression. Accordingly, on the third day, Brenda Hamilton, though moving generally southward, had gone far less far to the south than she would have hoped. She had, on the third day, in twelve hours of trekking, reckoning in time, moved only some three or four hours, or some eight or ten miles, further to the south. She did not, of course, know that she had done even this well. She knew only that she had discovered herself, toward the evening of the third day, moving northward, rather than southward, that she bad been moving in the direction exactly opposite to that in which she had intended to move. This discovery terrified and shattered her, for, to the best of her understanding, she had been, continually throughout the day, moving as she wished, southward. Suddenly she no longer had confidence in her ability to find her way as she wished. What had seemed simple to her no longer did so. She now knew she might, stumbling and pressing through thickets, when the sun was high, lost among the branches and leaves, unknowingly, unwittingly, lose her direction. If the touch of the winter extended, from her latitude, some hundreds of miles to the south, and she could make only a few miles a day in her trek, it was not unlikely that she would be trapped in the forest. She imagined herself caught in the first snows, naked, perhaps still unable to make a fire, without food. She wept with misery. For the first time since her first hours in the grassy field, she felt utterly helpless, utterly alone. She realized now that it was not impossible that she, alone, unable to help herself, might die in the forest. That evening she found a handful of nuts to eat, which she picked from the ground. She broke them with rocks, and ate their meat. She lay on her belly, on the gravel, beside a small stream, and drank. She crawled into some brush, and pulled it about her. She lay on her side, and moaned. She now knew, clearly, that she lay at the mercy of her ignorance and the elements. And, too, she feared beasts, wolves, or unknown beasts, such as might have made the large paw prints at the watering hole, which might hunt her, and bring her down with their teeth, as easily as a doe. Toward morning, after much weeping, she fell asleep. She had decided, however, that she must continue to attempt to travel directly south. If she stopped and followed a stream generally southwestward, it might take hundreds of extra miles to reach a warmer latitude, even assuming the sea itself, or an arm of the sea, did not, when reached, itself present an obstacle to that advance, and the winter might overtake her. She must try to move, she reasoned, difficult though it might be, directly to the south. She did not know how many days there might be until the onset of winter; more importantly, she did not know how far she would have to travel to reach a mild climate, nor how much of this distance she might be able to cover in a given day. On this day, the third day of her trek, she knew only she had discovered herself, in the evening, moving in the wrong direction; she did not know if she had covered even a mile of her projected journey in the past twelve hours of trekking.
One other decision Brenda Hamilton had reached before she fell asleep.
If it came to a choice between death by starvation or exposure, or at the fangs of beasts and presenting herself to a human, or humanoid, group, she would do the latter. She would take her chances with them, that they might kill her. She hoped that Herjellsen, and Gunther and William, were right, that such groups would not kill a woman. They had speculated, however, that another fate would be likely to be hers, that she would be made a slave. “Very well,” thought Brenda Hamilton, angrily “I will let them make me their slave.” She twisted, angrily. “I do not care!” she whispered to herself. “I would rather be the slave of apes, than die,” she said to herself. She lay on her. back, looking up at the brush about her. She recalled bow she had begged that, rather than be disposed of in the bush, she be sold as a slave. But that slavery would have been quite different, from that she now considered. That would have been a silken, perfumed slavery, with little to fear, perhaps, other than the master’s whip. But this other slavery would doubtless be quite different. Doubtless there might be physical labor, even burdens to carry. And what if she did not sufficiently please a brutish master? Would he simply kill her? She shuddered.
She fell asleep.
On the morning of the fourth day, it was bright, and hot, when Brenda Hamilton awakened. She had slept until well into the morning, and felt rested. She was not particularly angry at having slept longer than she had intended. She had come to two decisions, that to attempt to continue in a direct southward direction and that, as a last resort, if absolutely necessary, she would make contact with a human, or humanoid group, though she was confident that if she did this, she would be placed in bondage.
She reached up to pick some fruit from a branch.
“Yes, Gunther,” she said to herself, “you were right-I am a slave.”
She laughed, and took the fruit, and bit into it. “Does that ‘shock you, Gunther,” she asked, speaking as if he might be present, “that I would rather be the slave of apes than die?” She chewed some fruit, and swallowed it, spitting out some seeds. She felt the juice on her wrist. “You are such a prude, Gunther,” she said. She laughed. “I would have made you an excellent slave, Gunther,” she laughed, “but you missed your chance!”
She went to the stream, and drank and then noted her directions, judging from the course of the stream and where the sun had set the evening before.
She knew that now, in the beginning, at least, she was moving south.
She again began her trek.
Tree, facing upwind, observed the female. She was naked. This pleased him.
Her legs were shapely.
She was not as tall as most of the women of the group, but she was not short, either. She was taller than Cloud.
Her body seemed very white, which surprised Tree, not tanned like the women of the group.
Her breasts were ample; her hips were wide; her ass excited Tree.
He decided he wanted her.
From his pouch he removed a short length of rawhide rope, some eighteen inches in length. He looped this twice about his wrist and knotted it loosely, a knot that he might pull free with his teeth. He then, carefully, set his pouch to one side, and the long rope he carried, coiled, over his shoulder, and his spear. He then, staying downwind of the female, moved to be in a position such that she would approach him.
Brenda Hamilton picked her way carefully, for the ground, here and there, was soft.
A quarter of an hour ago there had been a light shower, muddying the ground, but now the sun had broken through the clouds. The leaves and the grass were wet and sparkling.
She picked her way carefully, for she was fastidious, and did not wish to muddy her feet.
It happened swiftly.
Brenda Hamilton scarcely saw him. It was suddenly something moving toward her.
She cried out, and turned to flee. Her foot slipped in the mud. She began to run. She had gone no more than three or four paces when he was upon her; his shoulder struck her behind the back of the knees; her head and back snapped back and then, after a sickening instant, she momentarily conscious of his arms locked about her legs, she, her entire body, helpless, propelled by his weight and hers, snapped forward again, pitching headlong, violently, forward through the air. She landed, skidding in the grass and mud. She thought, momentarily, her back was broken. She gasped for breath. Dimly she was aware of herself, prone, her belly in the mud, his knees now on either side of her body. She tried to breathe. She felt her wrists jerked behind her and fastened together, with great tightness. She gasped, struggling for breath. She felt herself then turned on her back. “Oh!” she cried. “Oh!” She could scarcely believe the magnificence of the creature who had taken her. “No,” she cried, then, “No, please!” She struggled, but it was to no avail. He thrust apart her thighs. He thrust to her. She closed her eyes in pain. “Please!” she wept. She saw his eyes, puzzled, angry. He had never had a virgin. Always it had been the older men who bad taken them. He looked at her, partly not understanding, for the woman’ was clearly too old to be a virgin; in the group it was Spear who decided when a girl was too old to be a virgin, then ordering her to take her place with the other women, to beg meat from the hunters; this took place sometimes when a girl was as young as twelve, at other times as old as fifteen. A law had been made in the group that no hunter might take a girl until she had begun to beg meat; Spear had made this law; it was he, too, who had made the law that children and pregnant women must be fed, even if sometimes the hunters must do with less. Tree did not understand all of Spear’s laws, but he obeyed them, for he did not wish to be killed. It was good he understood that the children and the pregnant women would be fed, though, for without them there would be no group, no growing. The other law Tree did not understand so clearly, but he did not object. Old Woman, when he had asked her of this, had said that the children of girls too young to beg meat were small and weak, and often died; and, too, girls who were made to kick too early were sometimes injured, and frightened, and they might not kick so well later. Tree had shrugged. The law did not matter to him, for he was not interested in girls too young to beg meat. When they put away their bone and skin dolls, and began to look sideways at the hunters, that was time enough for them to learn to beg meat. When a girl did take her place with the women, behind the men at the cutting of the meat, it was usually Spear, or Stone, or sometimes Arrow Maker, who used them first, always one of the older men. Tree had never had a virgin.
Brenda Hamilton struggled back, pushing with her heels in the mud, backing away from him.
“No,” she said. “No.”
Tree grinned at her.
He took her by the right ankle and pulled her again to him. “No!” she cried.
Again her thighs were spread.
She cried out with pain.
When Tree had finished with her there was blood on the inside of her left thigh, smeared to the side of the knee.
She lay on her side, her wrists still tied behind her.
Tree took a bit of the blood on his finger and licked it. It tasted of blood, but there was other fluid, too. He found the taste of interest.
She looked at him with horror.
He took some more blood on his finger and held it to her lips, that she might taste. This was done in the group, that the girl, too, might know the taste of the blood of her deflowering. In the group they were eager to know the taste, for they experienced the world richly, sensuously, knowing it not only by sight and concept, but by touch, smell, feel and taste. The Bear People, Tree knew, even had a ceremony in which the girls were deflowered. The Men, though, had no ceremony for this. They did have a ceremony when the boy began to run with the hunters. He drank first blood of his first kill, the other hunters, even the great ones, waiting to drink after him.
Brenda Hamilton cried out with misery, and turned her face away.
This angered Tree, and he thrust her mouth open with his left hand and thrust the bloodied finger across her lips and tongue.
Brenda Hamilton, forced, tasted and smelled Tree’s trophy of her ravished virginity.
She looked at him, with fury.
Tree’s hand again went forth to touch her ankle. She pulled away. “Please don’t hurt me again,” she wept.
Tree reached to her and, taking her by the hair, pulled her to her feet. He led her beside him, bent over, holding her by the hair, to where he had left his pouch, and his rope and spear. There he sat her down, regarding her.
“What is your people?” he asked.
Brenda Hamilton did not understand him, for he spoke the language of the Men.
“I cannot understand you,” she said.
She did not speak the language of the Men. Tree had not expected her to be able to do so, of course, though Old Man, long before Spear had killed him, had told him that there were other groups who did speak the language of the Men. Old Man had also told him of a great trek, which had lasted, in the telling of it, for five generations, in which the Men had moved westward. In this trek different groups, from time to time, had split away, seeking a territory sufficient for hunting. This had been, however, even before Old Man’s time. Old Man had known many stories. Tree was sorry that Spear had killed him. Tree had liked Old Man, and, too, he had liked the stories he had told. He had even told of beasts, large and hairy, as large as huts, or larger, with great, long curved teeth, and of black rocks that, when lit, would burn like wood. Spear had said Old Man was a liar.
Tree was not disappointed that the woman could not speak the language of the Men. He was glad.
It meant one could do with her what one wished, completely. One, of course, did much what one wished with the women of the group, using them, and beating them, and such, but one was not supposed to kill them. They, though women, were of the group, its followers, and breeders and workers. Tree looked at the helpless, desirable, bound body of his catch. She was not of the group. If one of the hunters wished, she might even be killed.
She did not speak the language of the Men. Tree was glad.
She would learn, of course, to speak the language of the
Men, and learn it quickly. The women would see to that. She must understand the orders that would be given to her.
Tree looked at his catch. She was just that, totally sightless.
“You will belong to the Men,” he told her.
Hamilton looked at him blankly.
Tree wondered if she could speak in the Hand Sign, that used by the Horse Hunters and the Bear People. Only Fox, in his group, was fully conversant with Hand Sign, but Tree knew the Hand Sign for the Men, and knew, too, how to ask for another’s group, or people, and how to make the more general question sign. He also knew the hand sign for the Horse Hunters and the Bear People, and for salt and flint. That was the extent of his vocabulary. But Fox could speak fluently in Hand Sign.
Tree took his long rope, and with one end of it, lashed together Brenda Hamilton’s ankles.
He then untied her hands.
She sat and faced him, her hands free, her ankles crossed and tied together.
Tree pointed to her, and then held up his left hand, palm facing to the right, and then placed his right index finger upright with the upright fingers of his left hand, one among others. “To what people do you belong?” he had asked in Hand Sign.
She shook her head, she understood nothing.
Tree frowned and touched his left hand to his head, as though puzzled. Then he held his right hand forth, palm to the left, thumb folded in, four fingers pointing down toward the earth. “Are your people the Horse Hunters?” he had asked.
She shook her head, trying to indicate that she understood nothing.
Tree was patient. He knew, of course, that females, even in the Horse Hunters and Bear People, were not generally taught Hand Sign, being women, but he was sure they would know at least how to respond to certain simple signs. They would know, certainly, the sign for their own group.
But this woman was apparently completely ignorant of Hand Sign.
Tree touched his head and frowned, and then lowered and raised his hand in a cupped fashion, as though he might be scooping something from the water. “Are you of the Bear People?” he asked. He then moved his hands, as though striking flint, the sign for flint. No recognition came into her eyes. He then licked his upper lip, in the sign for salt. She did not respond. He then pointed to himself and raised his right fist, as though it might hold a spear. “I am of the Men,” he had told her.
She shook her head. “I do not understand anything,” she said.
Tree took her ankles and turned them, throwing her to her stomach. Then he knelt across her body and, again, tied her hands behind her back.
When he had done so, she turned, and struggled to a sitting position, and again regarded him, her captor.
He removed the rope from her ankles, tied one end of it about her neck, and tied the other end about a tree and over a branch some five feet from the ground. He regarded her, his captive.
She looked upon him. Never before in her life had she seen such a male. He made even Gunther seem a lesser man. Her imagination had not even dreamed that such a man could exist. The men she had known earlier, even Gunther, had been no intimation that there might be such males as these. Such men, she thought, could not exist in her time. In her time there was no place; there could be no place, for such men as these.
Before him she felt, as never she had in her own time, even before Gunther, a complete female. Never before had she understood the import of two sexes, as she did now. It suddenly seemed to her, as it had never before, radically and explosively significant that there were two sexes. And how overjoyed she was that she was one of them. But, in fear, and still feeling pain, she drew back from him, for he had hurt her.
And, too, she was a woman of another time. Such a man terrified her.
And suddenly she understood that the cost of civilization, and the ascendancy of women, was the crippling of such men, or their destruction.
They were like great beasts that must be broken, or killed, that there might be the triumph of mildness, the victory of plows and religion, of fears and superstition, of complacency, of contentment, of smallness, and being afraid and mediocrity, and keeping in one’s place and being polite, of camouflage and invisibility, of passionless comraderie, of achieving prescribed adjustment, of smiling normality, and being safe, and indistinguishable from others, and quiet, and then dying.
She looked upon him.
He was not such a man.
Tree did not try to speak further to her. He sat across from her, observing her.
“Please do not hurt me,” said Brenda Hamilton to him. She knew it was foolish to try to speak to him, but she could not stand the silence, his watching her. In the group, men and women often looked at one another, sometimes for minutes at a time, simply seeing one another. In Hamilton’s time men and women looked at one another, but they seldom saw one another. There is a great difference. Hamilton was uneasy, and wanted to cry out. She had never, in this way, been seen.
In his eyes, and the carriage of his head, and body, the subtle movements of his face, Hamilton sensed, even though he was a gross savage, little more than an animal, great intelligence. She sensed, somehow, looking at him, that his intelligence was far greater than hers, or perhaps even Gunther’s, or Herjellsen’s, in spite of the fact that, doubtless, he could not read nor write, in spite of the fact that he must be little more than a primeval barbarian, ignorant, uncouth, illiterate. And in looking at him she understood sharply, with devastating force, for the first time, the clear distinction between learning and intelligence. He could not be learned, certainly not in the senses in which she understood that word, but she knew, and felt, looking upon him, that he was of incredible intelligence.
But his hands, too, seemed strong and cunning, supple and powerful, like the rest of his body.
It startled her to find, conjoined with intelligence, such strength and power, such size, such supple muscularity. The mighty brain she sensed had in such a body its mighty throne.
He seemed one thing to her, though, not a brain and a body, but one thing, somehow, a complete, and magnificent animal, whole, no part of him questioning or despising another part, not divided against himself, not diverted into attacking himself, not set at war with himself. There was no war here between this man’s brain, and his glands, and blood, no more than between the left hand and the right hand, no more than between the beating of the heart and the breathing of the lungs. In him Brenda Hamilton sensed a terrifying unity, as simple as that of the lion or leopard. In his eyes she read power and intelligence, and lust and cruelty, and the desire for her body, and she read these things not as furtive glimmers but as a snared hind might read them in the eyes of the tiger, sinuously approaching, preparing to feed.
“Don’t hurt me!” she begged.
Tree had not moved. He had not yet seen her, as he wanted to see her. When he had seen her, and wanted to, then he would move.
Hamilton turned her head away from him. She could not bear to look at him. She could not meet his eyes.
She knew now why civilization had no option but to break or destroy such creatures.
It had no place for them. It had no place for hunters. It needed diggers, not hunters.
Such a man, she knew, would never dig. There would always be another mountain, another horizon.
He would never make a civilization. It did not interest him.
Others would make a civilization, and breed in their hundreds, and thousands, and then millions, and the world of the hunters would be smothered, and the planet would be covered, and crowded, with the diggers. The giant cheetah would be extinct; the mammoth would no longer roam; the steppes would no longer shake to the charge of the wooly rhinoceros; and where the horses had run there would triumph the fumes of the internal combustion engine; the cave lion would be dead, and the cave bear, and there would be no striking of flints and hunting salt, for the hunters, too, like the lion and the bear, would have gone.
But Gunther had said that the hunters might not be dead, but only sleeping.
And Herjellsen had said to her, “Turn their eyes to the stars.”
“There is nothing more to hunt,” Hamilton had told Gunther.
“There are the stars,” had said Gunther.
Hamilton again looked at Tree.
The hunters would rule the world for thousands of years, and the diggers, perhaps, for little more than some dozens of centuries.
The longer triumph would be that of the hunters, and the beasts.
And they might not wish to share the digger’s world.
But Gunther had said that the hunters might not be dead, but only sleeping.
“There is nothing more to hunt,” Hamilton had told Gunther.
“There are the stars,” had said Gunther.
“Turn their eyes to the stars,” had said Herjellsen.
But Herjellsen was mad, mad!
Tree had decided that he would not, this day, take the white-skinned slave girl to the camp. He would take her to the camp tomorrow. He had never seen a woman like this. He did not wish, immediately, to share her with the others. For the time he would keep her for himself.
He looked at her. Her wrists were bound behind her back. She was sitting, with her knees bent. She seemed very much afraid of him. His rope, knotted about her neck, tethered her to a tree.
He was hungry. From his pouch he took a strip of dried meat, antelope meat, and chewed it.
He did not offer the slave any.
He was puzzled. She did not lie before him and lift her body. She did not beg meat. Perhaps she was not hungry. It did not occur to Tree that she did not know how to beg meat. He thought all women knew how to beg meat.
“Please,” she said. “I am hungry.”
He swallowed the meat. Then he got up to look about, for three suitable roots.
“What are you going to do?” asked Brenda Hamilton.
He found three roots, of the sort he wished, sturdy, properly placed. From two, he scooped out dirt beneath them, exposing them. The third was already fully exposed. They formed the points of an isosceles triangle, whose longer sides were something over a yard in length.
He then returned to Brenda Hamilton, and regarded her. She was filthy, from when she had been caught, tied, turned and raped in the mud.
Tree untied the rope from the tree and, approaching her, coiled it in his hand. When he stood over her he pulled her to her feet by the end which was still knotted about her throat.
“He is taking me to his camp,” thought Brenda Hamilton.
She followed Tree, his hand holding the rope, about a foot from her throat.
At a stream he stopped and tied the rope about a small tree.
He then, to her surprise, untied her wrists. He then, with a gesture, ordered her to the center of the stream. She stood there, shuddering in the cold water, it swirling about her waist. She looked at Tree. Her neck was tethered to a small tree on the bank.
He, making scooping motions with his hands, and rubbing his body, instructed her to wash herself.
She stood there, looking at him.
I Tree wondered if she were stupid. Then he would wash her. He waded toward her.
“No!” she cried. “I will do it!”
Although the water was cold, Brenda Hamilton cleansed her body, and hair.
It pleased her to do so. She washed the dirt from her body. She washed, too, the blood from her leg.
She thought how ironic it was, the concern of Gunther and Herjellsen, and William, for her precious virginity. It had meant nothing. They could not have known, of course. She had lost it. Lost? She smiled to herself. It had been ripped from her. She stole a glance at the bronzed giant sitting on the bank, watching her. She had scarcely seen him before she had been caught, hurled to her belly and bound helplessly, then turned on her back. She had looked into his eyes, had been startled, had cried out with astonishment, seeing the magnificence of the creature that had caught her. Then, within the minute, that virginity which she had hoarded, protected and prized, and had hitherto been willing to surrender only to Gunther, had been, she helpless, unable to resist, torn from her. When Tree had caught her, she had been a girl; when he had pulled her, bent over, by the hair to his accouterments, she was a woman. She looked again at Tree. She was not sorry that it had been he, not asking, predatory, arrogant, insolent, her captor, like an animal, who had torn her virginity from her. She was pleased that she had not been invited to surrender it, or bestow it on some nice fellow as a gift; she could scarcely admit the thought to herself but she was pleased to have lost it as she had; she had not had to beg him to take her virginity, as she had Gunther; he had simply wanted her, and taken it; startled, protesting, shocked, suddenly she had found herself a captive; she had been powerfully desired; her virginity, at his will, by storm, had been removed from her. She looked once more at Tree. She was not displeased that it had been a man such as he. How many women, she wondered, could boast that they had inspired such a desire in such a man as he. But she again looked at him. But he might have taken any woman in such a way, she told herself. Any other woman he had fallen in with, she told herself, might have suffered the same fate. And she knew this was true, but still she was much pleased that on this signal occasion, when first her body was forced completely, to serve a man, that the man had been such as he. To her horror, and pleasure, she realized she would not have wanted it otherwise. It bad been, for her, a fantastic experience. Yet he had hurt her, and she feared him.
“He is having me clean myself,” she said to herself, “to take me to his camp, to show me to his people.”
Doubtless they would be thrilled to see her.
She felt the leather leash pull on her neck and she stumbled through the water, toward him.
Tree was not fastidious, but he did not wish the female, whom he intended to enjoy, covered with dirt. He did not wish grit between his strength and her smoothness. Too, he was curious about the whiteness of her skin, and wished to see it more clearly. Too, he was learning the female, and he wished, when he had her in his hands, to experience her sweat, her secretions, her odors, freshly broken from her body. A rich dimension of Tree’s world was that of scent, which, to modern man would become largely a lost avenue of experience. Brenda Hamilton did not know it but her scent, to those of the Men, was as distinctive as a fingerprint, as individual as the lineaments of her face. Any of the Men, once smelling her, could, even in the darkness of a cave, even if she huddled among other women, find her, put their hands upon her, and pull her out from the others.
Brenda Hamilton saw that her master had already untied the rope from the small tree by the bank.
The rope was looped twice in his hand. He did not retie her hands. He turned about and went back to the place where he had left his accouterments.
She followed him, docile, tethered.
She expected to be led to his camp.
But when he reached his accouterments, be motioned for her to sit down, within the isosceles triangle he had formed of roots, facing the two exposed roots which formed the limits of its base.
She did so puzzled.
Suddenly he took her wrists and bound them together again, behind her back, tightly, but this time ran the rawhide twice, too, under the exposed root. She was tied half back; she could not sit upright.
She realized then that she was not to be taken immediately to his camp. He had other plans for her.
He removed the rope from her neck and tied it about her right ankle. He then ran the rope from her right ankle under the exposed root at her right, that forming the right termination of the base of the triangle. He then took the rope up and through the exposed root to which her wrists were tied, and brought it down to and under that root which formed the termination of the left side of the triangle’s base. He then tied it securely about her left ankle.
“You beast,” she hissed.
Old Woman had taught him the tie. The girl is tied down by the wrists, yet able to half rear to a sitting position. If her right leg is extended her left knee is sharply bent; if her left leg is extended her right knee is sharply bent; if tensions are equal, both knees are slightly bent. She cannot, in either case, because of the roots, close her legs. She remains deliciously, vulnerably, open to her captor. The tie, by intention, permits her to struggle, but the limits on such movements are so strict, their extent so precisely regulated, that the result of her movements induces in her, almost immediately, as a psychological consequence, a feeling of being trapped, of complete inability to escape, of utter helplessness.
“Beast!” cried Brenda Hamilton. “Beast!”
She struggled to sit up. She realized now she had been forced to wash herself not to be presented to his camp, as a rich prize, but simply that her body would be more pleasing to him. She jerked at the bonds; she moved her legs. She lay back, and moaned. She felt herself being lifted for his penetration.
“I cannot escape,” she thought to herself. “I cannot escape!”
“Please don’t hurt me,” she begged him. “Please don’t hurt me!”
She remembered the pain, and closed her eyes, tensing herself, but this time there was no cutting pain, no sharp pain, no tearing of her softness. Her body’s resistance had been ruptured. Never again could it oppose itself to a man. She put her head to one side. She was now only another opened woman, no different from any other, once again being used. She felt his manhood, urgent and vital, and gasped as her body, in a shameless spasm, a reflex, closed about him, and he cried out with a sound of animal pleasure that thrilled the womanhood of her to the quick, and then her body was struck by his ten to a dozen times, causing her to lose her breath, almost tearing her from the rawhide bonds, and then, so quick, he had pulled away from her, and stood up, looking down on her, wiping sweat from his upper lip. She looked up at him angrily, fighting for breath. He had finished with her too soon. She felt unsatisfied, cheated. Now, too, she became aware of a soreness, irritation from her earlier penetration.
“You could at least let me heal, you beast,” she said to him. “What do you care for my pleasure?” she demanded.
But he had turned away from her now, and, picking up his pouch, and his spear, disappeared among the trees.
“Don’t leave me!” she cried. “Please don’t leave me!”
And as she lay there, tied, she realized that he did not care for her pleasure. It was of no interest to him. And that, if he wished, he would leave her, lying behind him bound, helpless, alone in the forest.
With horror she suddenly understood that she had met a man to whom she was nothing, a man who cared nothing for her will, her desires, her feelings. Her delicacy, her sensibility, were not of interest to him. She knew she could expect nothing from him. From her, she knew, he would expect everything. She lay back, knowing that she was the helpless property of such a brute, and moaned.
When he returned to her the moon was full.
She struggled to sit upright, but could not do so. She rose on her elbows, knees bent, and looked at him.
He carried a fruit, a yellowish, tart applelike fruit, which he held for her. Gratefully she fed on the fruit. When she had eaten around the core he threw the core away. He then gave her a piece of dried meat from his pouch. It was tough and dry, and gamy, but she chewed it, and, with pleasure, swallowed it.
“Thank you,” she said.
He then bent toward her, to put his mouth to hers. She shrank back in the thongs. She tried to turn her head to one side, but he held her mouth to his.
Then she understood, suddenly, that he held water in his mouth, that he was bringing her drink.
Lifting her head she took the water from his mouth.
She lay back.
“Thank you,” she said.
Tree looked down at her, lying bound in the moonlight.
She looked up at him. It had pleased her to take water from his mouth. She had touched her teeth to his, and they had seemed hard and strong.
Tree wondered about this woman. She did not kick well. She seemed a cold fish.
“You will learn to kick well,” he said to her, “if you would eat.”
Brenda Hamilton looked at him blankly.
He looked at her intently. He put his hand gently on her left breast. She was very beautiful, this woman. She was more beautiful than the other women in the camp, except perhaps Flower. It was too bad she did not kick well. She would be used to do much work. Perhaps she could be tied at night with Ugly Girl.
He looked down at her.
“You will learn to kick well,” he said to Brenda Hamilton. “You will learn to kick well, if you would eat.”
They were near the village now. She could smell the smoke. She was frightened.
She pulled back on the tether, shaking her head, wildly. “No, please!” she said.
The leather, one end knotted about her neck, the other end in Tree’s fist, was taut between them.
“No, please,” she said.
Tree jerked the rope toward him and Brenda Hamilton stumbled forward, half strangling, and fell on her left shoulder at his feet, her wrists, tied behind her, unable to break her fall. He jerked her to her knees by the leash, at his thigh. She looked up at him, tears in her eyes. “Please do not take me to them,” she begged.
He jerked her to her feet and she stood again, his rope on her neck, facing him.
Then he turned and walked toward the village.
She felt the tug of the leash, and followed.
This morning, she had slept, fitfully, twisted on her side, still bound as she had been the night before, and then, at dawn, when the dew was still dark on the leaves, and there was only a half light, he had slapped her awake, and her brief dream of clean sheets, and her bedroom in her former apartment in California, vanished, and she found herself, face stinging, startled, cold, lying in wet grass, bound in the thongs of a primeval master.
He fed her as he had the night before, and then, when the warmth of the food was in her body, he used her briefly, she weakly trying to resist, knowing its futility, and then unbound her ankles from the roots, freeing his rope. She felt the rope then tied about her throat. He then released her hands from the root and the rawhide thong which, during the night, had so perfectly imprisoned her wrists. She was then led quickly to the stream, and thrust into the water, to wash herself. She shuddered, but cleaned herself. She then felt, again, her hands tied behind her back. He led her again to where he had left his pouch and spear. Gathering these, he had turned and, she following on the tether, had disappeared into the trees.
They had not walked more than half an hour before she had smelled the smoke. She knew his people were near.
She had pulled back on the tether, shaking her head wildly. “Please no!” she had begged.
She had then been briefly disciplined by the leash, taught its power to control her.
Then she had stood again, facing him, and he had turned and walked toward the village. She, terrified, miserable, obedient now to the leather collar of her leash, followed him. She had no choice.
Four times during the night had Tree used her body, once awakening her to his long, pounding thrusts.
The fourth time, in spite of her stiffness, her soreness, to her astonishment, and fear, she had sensed the beginning of a strange sensation in her body; she did not know whether it was painful or pleasurable; it was very different from anything she had felt before; she was terrified of the sensation, rudimentary and inchoate, incipient, because she sensed that she might be swept helplessly away from herself before it, that it might, if unchecked, transform her from a human person with dignity, though abused, into a degraded, uncontrollable, spasmodically responding female animal. “I must never let them take me from myself,” she told herself. “I must always retain my control. I must always keep my dignity. I must always remain an intelligent, self-restrained, dignified human being, a true human person.” But she had feared that if the sensation had not been checked, she would have, had his touch continued, been literally forced to succumb to it, that it would have reached a point where she could not have helped herself, that it would have been entirely in his hands. She had sensed then that, had he wished to do so, he could have made her an animal, that animal she feared most to be, a beautiful, helpless, responding female beast, the uncontrollable, yielding prize of a greater, a stronger beast. She had closed her eyes, and turned her head to one side, and gritted her teeth, and fought the sensation, trying to keep her body inert, trying, desperately, not to feel. Then, when she sensed that she would lose the battle, and she wanted to cry out, “Don’t stop! Please don’t stop!” he had finished with her, and had withdrawn, to roll to one side, to sleep.
“I hate you,” she whispered. “I hate you. I hate you!”
Then she had resolved to resist more mightily than ever, to yield never to such a beast, or to others like him. “I will never permit them to rob me of my dignity,” she told herself. But she was afraid, for she recalled the beginning of the strange sensation. It kept recurring to her, even as she followed him on her tether, and it made her belly and inwardness grow warm, and excited. Once he stopped and turned and regarded her. She stopped, and looked down, blushing. She had seen his eyes, and the slight flaring of his nostrils. She knew in the heart of her that this strange man, whose very life in this fierce time might depend on the sharpness of his senses, had literally smelled her desire, the secretions that acknowledged her body’s receptivity, its readiness. He had walked toward her. “No,” she had said, turning away. “Go away. Go away!” She felt his hand on her, and she shuddered. “Go away!” she cried.
He had turned from her and again taken his way through the trees, she, leashed, following.
“I will resist you!” she cried.
She was furious with him.
Now, outside the tiny village, the trail encampment, Tree, with his caught female, stopped.
He was downwind of the camp, that he might approach it sensing, rather than being sensed. If anything was amiss in the camp, in particular, if there were the odors of strange men, it would be well to know. The Weasel People were enemies of the Men. They and the Men did not sell women or salt to one another. Antelope had originally been of the Bear People. But Wolf and Runner had stolen her from the Weasel People, who had taken her, with others, in a raid. The Men and the Bear People and the Horse Hunters did not steal from one another. They would sell women, or flint or salt to one another. But Antelope was not returned to the Bear People. They had not taken her from the Weasel People. The Men had done this. Besides she was comely. The Men kept her. Antelope did not mind. The Men were fine hunters. She and her friend, Cloud, were often fed by Tree. Both of them were good females, good kickers. The white-skinned slave girl, the girl he had taken in the forest, was a cold fish. But she would learn to kick, if she would eat. Antelope was not kept as a slave. That was because she was of the Bear People, who were friends of the Men. But she was not permitted to return to the Bear People. She belonged, now, to the Men. Though not a slave, the Men kept her as they did the others, as a woman. Ugly Girl was kept as a slave, which was like being the woman of a woman; she was not of the group, or of a friendly group; she was simply slave; the white-skinned female, Tree’s catch from the forest, too, was not of the group; she, too, thus, like Ugly Girl, or a girl of the Weasel People, would be kept as a simple slave; she must take orders from anyone in the group; she would be much beaten; she would have no rights, not even the life right, that accorded to members of the group; if she did not work well, or was not pleasing, she might be killed. Tree tested the odors, and found that all was well in the camp.
He would now circle the camp and approach from upwind, that they would know his approach, and that he brought with him a female. That would give the camp time to gather, and greet him. It would please Tree’s vanity to bring her in, presenting her as a new slave to the men.
They would be much pleased to see the new acquisition.
In Tree’s opinion she was more beautiful than the other women of the camp, with the possible exception of Flower. Tree smiled to himself. He did not think this would make the life of the new slave any easier.
Tree circled about the camp, for what reason Brenda Hamilton did not understand. She thought that perhaps it was customary to enter it from a given direction. But if that were so why had he approached it from the opposite direction? It did not occur to her at that time that the difference was an important one for Tree, and other. Hunters, the direction of the wind.
Soon she heard shouts in the camp, the cries of children and women.
Then, to her surprise, Tree took her in his arms and lowered her to the ground. Then, from his pouch, he took a length of rawhide, similar to that which now so tightly confined her wrists, some eighteen inches in length, and crossed and tied her ankles, tightly. She looked up at him. He then removed his rope from her neck, and, carefully, looped it about his body.
He looked down at her.
His pouch was slung at his side, the rope was looped about his body, some four times, from the right shoulder to the left hip. His spear, hafted, the flint point bound in the shaft with rawhide, lay beside him on the grass.
His legs were long and powerful and bronzed. He wore a brief skin about his waist. His belly was fiat and hard, his chest large, his shoulders broad, his arms long and muscular. He had a large head. About his neck there was a tangle of leather and claws. His dark hair, black, jagged, was cut back from his eyes, and cut, too, roughly, at the base of his neck.
Brenda Hamilton looked up at her master.
Then, lightly, he picked her up, and threw her over his shoulder.
He bent down and picked up his spear, and turned toward the camp.
The shouting, and the cries, were much louder now.
Brenda Hamilton would not be permitted to enter the camp on her own feet, even wrists bound, and tethered.
She would be carried, trussed, over the threshold of the camp, as meat or game.
She would be thrown to its ground at the feet of the skinning poles.
She was slave.
Brenda Hamilton, bound hand and foot, was carried lightly, helplessly, into the camp, over the shoulder of Tree, the Hunter.
She became aware of men, and women and children, crowding about her.
She was aware of huts, and smells.
She was aware of two sets of poles, one set consisting of two upright poles and several small, slender poles, lashed horizontally between them, from which hung strips of drying meat; the other set consisting of two crossed poles at each end, bound together at the top, with a lateral pole set in the joinings of the end poles; from this lateral pole, on the one set of poles, there hung, upside down, hind feet stretched and bound to the pole, a small deer, its head dangling peculiarly, its throat opened. There was dried blood matted in the white fur at the bottom of its head, beneath its mouth.
Tree stopped with his prize before this latter set of poles, from which hung the deer, which had had its throat cut, that the hunters might have the blood.
Brenda Hamilton was conscious of the ease with which she was carried, that she was so slight a burden for his strength, and of his arm, bronzed and muscular, holding her on his shoulder.
Tree stood with his prize before the skinning rack, to which is brought meat, and game, and slaves.
Over his shoulder, head down, Brenda Hamilton felt the inhabitants of the encampment press about her, eager, excited, talking, curious, commenting, speculating, some feeling her body and hair. Then she felt Tree’s body stiffen. And the crowd of women, children and men, fell back, and was silent.
Someone, she knew, had approached.
She heard voices.
“Where have you been?” asked Spear.
“I have been hunting,” said Tree.
“What have you caught?” asked Spear.
“This,” said Tree.
Rudely Brenda Hamilton, bound hand and foot, was thrown to the dirt of the camp, at the foot of the skinning rack.
She lay on her side, as she had been thrown. Her shoulder hurt.
She was conscious of the feet, and knees and legs, of those about. Some of the women wore strings of shells about their left ankles. They made a sound when they moved. She wondered at how far they might be from the sea.
She would learn later that these shells had been obtained in trade, exchanged for flints at the shelters, in barter with traders who had come from the world’s edge, scions of the Far Peoples.
She heard a man’s voice, harsh, direct.
“String her on the rack, that we may look at her,” said Spear.
Brenda Hamilton felt her hands being untied, and then, by two men, she was lifted into the air, and, by two others, with rawhide thongs, was bound, wrists apart, hands over head, to the lateral pole set in the joinings of the crossed end poles. Her feet did not touch the ground. She hung suspended, in rawhide thongs. Her ankles were untied. To her left, tied upside down, bound by its spread hind legs to the same horizontal pole, hung the carcass of the bloodied deer.
Spear, and the others, regarded the slave.
Brenda Hamilton saw women and children standing behind and among the men. Most of the women were bare breasted. Almost all of the women wore necklaces of leather, claws and shells.
Tree did not think Spear would order her slain. She was comely. If he did order her killed, he would fight Spear. But Spear would not want her killed. He would keep her for working and kicking.
Brenda Hamilton looked into the large, stolid face that regarded her. She looked away, terrified. The face frightened her, more than had that of her captor. The eyes, particularly, frightened her. They seemed at odds with the face, and the largeness of the man. They were narrow and shrewd, cunning, sharp. The body and the face, together seemed only large, and slow, heavily muscled, thick, heavy, particularly the jaw, but the eyes were bright, seeing, observant. The man moved his head slowly, and his body, but she sensed in this a deception, one belied by the eyes. This creature, seemingly dull, shambling, she sensed, could, if need arose, move with the swiftness of a snake, the purposiveness of a panther.
She sensed this was the leader.
She would learn later his name was Spear.
Closely behind him she saw a younger man. She saw clearly that he was the son of the other, from the narrowness of the eyes, the heaviness of the jaw, but there were two differences; the younger man’s body was more alert, more supple, less heavily muscled; but his eyes, though cruel, were simpler, more arrogant, less cunning. She sensed greater intelligence in the older one, and, too, quickness, that he might, if he wished, strike before the younger could move.
Spear’s hands felt her body, the firmness of her breasts, the curvatures of her ass.
“She is pretty,” said Spear to Tree.
She felt Spear’s hand at her delta. She closed her eyes, and gritted her teeth.
“She does not kick well,” said Tree.
Spear stepped back and regarded her. He shrugged. “She is pretty,” he said. “We will keep her.” Then he said, “She can carry flint.”
She saw Tree’s body relax.
She understood very little of what was going on.
Tree was pleased. He did not now have to fight Spear.
She did not even understand that Spear had decided that she would be, at least for the time, permitted to live.
A woman with a limp, and a scar beneath the left cheekbone began screaming.
“Kill her! Kill her!” cried Short Leg. She was first among the women of the Men, dominant among the females. She was, too, the first fed of Spear’s five women. Indeed, so high she stood with Spear that, for more than two years; none of the other hunters had used her. Some of the hunters wondered why she should stand so high with Spear. Only Spear knew. She was shrewd, and highly intelligent. She gave him many good ideas. She knew much. And, in the camp, she was an extra pair of eyes and ears for Spear. She made him more powerful.
But still she was only a female.
Spear’s left hand flew back, cuffing the screaming female back.
Brenda Hamilton saw blood leap from the face of the struck woman, who reeled back.
“Throw the sticks!” cried Short Leg. “Throw the sticks!”
“I have decided,” said Spear.
Brenda Hamilton saw hostility in the eyes of the women, as they regarded her.
“Throw the sticks!” screamed Short Leg.
Spear’s eyes met those of a small man with a twisted spine, with narrow ferret eyes, whose head was turned to one side. “Get the sticks,” he said.
Hyena sped from the group and went to one of the huts. He returned with a leather wrapper and, when he unfolded it, within it, Brenda Hamilton saw more than a dozen sticks, painted in different colors, some in rings. The colors were mostly yellows and reddish browns, the rubbings of ochers into the peeled wood.
The group fell back and, with another stick in the wrapper, a larger stick, with a feather tied to it, Hyena, to one side, drew a circle in the dirt. He then brought five rocks, and put them in the circle, too. Then with his stick, he drew lines from one rock to another. Two of the women gasped. Where before there had been only rocks there was now a star, and the rocks were its points.
Hyena gestured for silence.
He looked at Short Leg, and the women. He seemed nervous. “Throw the sticks,” said Short Leg.
He looked at the men. They did not look upon him pleasantly. He began to sweat.
He went to Brenda Hamilton and, head twisted, bent over, looked up at her.
Then he went back to the circle and picked up the sticks.
He looked at Knife.
He looked at Spear, and at Stone, and Tree, and the others.
“Throw the sticks,” said Spear.
More than ten times Hyena lifted and dropped the sticks, watching carefully, studying carefully, sometimes on his hands and knees, the way they had fallen, their angles, their relationships to one another.
Then he stood up. “The meaning is clear,” he said. “It is always the same.”
“What do the sticks say?” demanded Short Leg.
“They say Spear is right,” said Hyena.
Spear’s face did not change expression. Short Leg turned about in disgust, and left the group.
The women, other than Short Leg, seemed satisfied. The men seemed pleased.
The sticks had confirmed the decision of Spear. The female strung on the skinning pole would be permitted, at least for the time, to live.
She looked from face to face. There was the leader, narrow-eyed, heavy jawed, who was Spear; there was, near him, the one she recognized as his son; who was Knife; to one side stood a large man, heavy faced and dour, Stone; then there was a spare man, lean and large handed, Arrow Maker; and a smaller man, heavy chested, short-legged, long armed, Runner; standing together were two men, a small, quick man, grinning, furtive, who was Fox, and a larger fellow, slower witted, secretive, who would not look into her eyes, Wolf; then she almost cried out in fear, as her eyes fell upon Tooth, so ugly, so large jawed, with the extended upper right canine tooth; he approached her; “Do not be afraid,” he said to her, in the language of the Men; then he turned away, followed by two children; the small man, with the twisted back, who had thrown the sticks had taken his sticks back to the hut; before he had done this he had erased his circle and lines, and thrown the stones into the brush; he was Hyena. Then, too, there was the tall, black-haired fellow, bronzed, in the brief skins, who had taken her captive, and muchly raped her, and brought her to the camp, as his bound prize; his name, she would learn, was Tree.
Two women stood beside him, a shorter woman, blond, and a taller woman, dark-haired. She saw the shorter blond women slip to her knees beside him, on his right side. There, kneeling by his right thigh, she took his leg in her hands, and, softly, began putting her lips to his leg. The darker woman rubbed her body against his, and began pressing her lips to his body. Then, too, she sank to her knees beside him, docile and delicate, holding his legs, kissing at him.
Brenda Hamilton, suspended by her wrists from the pole, could scarcely believe her eyes. How shameless they were!
Yet there was something so open, so frank, so organic, so honest, so uninhibited, so ingenuously sensual and vital in their behavior that she found herself, in spite of herself, and her shock, indescribably thrilled. And then she was furious. She hated them! How shameless they were! And she knew that she, too, wanted to kneel beside him, as they did, competing for his attention.
“Get away from him,” she wanted to cry. “I am his prize, not you!”
She had never seen a man such as he.
But she said nothing. She was silent.
To her fury, Tree turned away from her and went back among the huts, followed closely by the two females, holding to him, pressing themselves against him.
“I hate him,” said Brenda Hamilton to herself.
She struggled, but could not free herself. The members of the group looked at her, curiously.
Then she hung again, quietly, wrists lashed apart over her head, helplessly.
Horror came into her eyes. She saw another face among the others. But it was not a human face. She cried out in fear, seeing Ugly Girl.
The members of the group turned to see at what she might have cried out.
Ugly Girl frightened at seeing the eyes upon her, turned away, her head low on her shoulders, her dark hair like strings, her rounded shoulders cowering, and tried to shuffle away. She was naked and squat, thick legged, long armed. No ornaments had been given to her. Brenda Hamilton saw, startled, that her ankles were fastened together, about a foot apart, by a knotted rawhide strap. One of the children, the leader of the children, a blond girl, comely, one developing, one perhaps some fourteen years of age, one Brenda Hamilton would later learn was Butterfly, reached down to. the strap on the ankles of the shambling girl and jerked back on it, throwing the girl to the dirt, and then she leaped over her and began to strike her, repeatedly, with her open hands. Four other children then, two boys and two girls, began to follow her lead. Ugly Girl rolled on the ground, covering her head and face with her arms, howling, and then, breaking away, followed, crept whimpering between the huts.
Brenda Hamilton felt sick. Never had she seen anything as repulsive as Ugly Girl.
She was horrid.
She found herself pleased that the strange girl, so horrifyingly ugly was not of the group.
She would avoid her, continually. She made her sick.
She heard again the screams of Ugly Girl, now from between the huts. Then she saw the homely fellow, with the large tooth, still followed by children, go to drive the other children away from the squat, hideous creature. She heard him cry out angrily at the children, and heard their shrieks and protests; he must, too, judging from the cries, have struck one or two of them. Soon, the blond girl, and the other children, came back to the rack. The fellow with the tooth turned away, and went to the other side of the camp. He seemed angry. The two children still followed him.
Spear turned away from the rack. He nodded with his head toward the other set of poles, from which hung strips of meat. “The meat is almost dry,” he said to Stone, and the others. “Tomorrow we will go for salt and flint, and then return to the shelters.”
The men nodded.
Brenda Hamilton saw that the younger man, who resembled the leader, could not take his eyes from her body. She hung, wrists apart, frightened, scrutinized. Then she saw a blond girl, lovely, bare-breasted, with a necklace of shells and claws, hold him by the arm, trying to pull him away. He thrust her to one side. The girl looked at Brenda Hamilton with hatred. It was Flower. Then she approached the young man and knelt before him, and with her lips, began to touch her way upward along the interior of his thigh, timidly, and then she thrust her head up, under his skins. He laughed and seized her, and dragged her from the group back between the huts, pulling her by the wrist, she, laughing, pretending to resist.
Flower, boldly, bad won his attention away from the new slave.
Brenda Hamilton shuddered.
“Old Woman,” said Spear.
Brenda Hamilton saw a hag emerge from the others. She was partly bent, white-haired. She wore skins covering her upper body as well as her lower body. There was much wrinkled skin about her eyes. The eyes, however, were sharp and bright, like those of a small bird.
She was the only one among the women who did not seem to fear the men, or show them deference.
Spear pointed to Brenda Hamilton.
“What do you think of Tree’s catch?” he asked. “Can she bring children to the men?”
The old woman’s hands were on Brenda Hamilton’s hips. Brenda felt her thumbs, pressing into her flesh, feeling her body, measuring it. “Yes,” said Old Woman, “she has good hips, wide hips. She can bring to the Men many children.”
“Good,” said Spear. His own woman, his first woman, Short Leg, had had only one child, and that had been delivered stillborn. Life in these times was precarious, and a good breeder, one who could bring many children to the group, was highly prized. Without such breeders groups died.
Brenda Hamilton felt the old woman’s hands on her breasts.
She looked away, miserable.
Spear looked at Old Woman.
“When the time comes,” said Old Woman, “she will not need Nurse.”
Spear nodded. That was good. Some of the women in the group did not have enough milk, and there was already much work for Nurse.
It was important for a female, if possible, to give suck to her own young.
“It is too bad,” said Spear, “that she does not kick well.”
The old woman turned to Brenda Hamilton. “Is it true, my pretty,” she asked, in the language of the Men, “that you do not kick well?”
Brenda Hamilton looked at her blankly. Her shoulder hurt, where she had been thrown to the dirt by Tree. And, too, her wrists hurt from the thongs. She could scarcely move her fingers.
Old Woman repeated her question in the language of the Bear People, which she had never forgotten. Many years ago she had been purchased from the Bear People by Drawer, who had become Old Man, whom Spear had killed when he had gone blind. Old Woman had been fond of Old Man.
“You must learn to kick well, my pretty,” cooed the old woman, kindly, to Brenda Hamilton.
Brenda Hamilton struggled, trying to escape the old woman’s hands. But she could not do so. With her left arm, the old woman held her still, and, with one finger, not entering her, very gently, on the side, tested her.
Brenda Hamilton hung miserably on the pole.
“Well?” asked Spear.
Old Woman removed her hands from Brenda Hamilton, and turned to face Spear.
“Her body is alive,” said Old Woman. “I do not understand why she would not kick well.”
Then she turned again to Brenda Hamilton, puzzled.
Brenda Hamilton looked at the other women standing about Never had she seen such women. They seemed vital, sensual, alive, half animal. Their femaleness seemed one with their person, as much as a smell or a pigmentation. How different the men and women seemed, the men hard, strong, tall, the women so much smaller, so lusciously curved, so vital, so shamelessly female.
These, of course, were women from before the agricultural revolution, before a man became bound to a strip of soil, and became obsessed with the ownership of his land, the authenticity of his paternity, the reliability and legitimacy of inheritances. These were times before a man owned, privately, his land, and his children and his women. The economic system was not yet such that, before effective birth-control procedures, it was desirable to inculcate frigidity in females, a property useful in the perpetuation and support of patriarchal monogamy. The cultural conditioning processes, abetted by religions, whose role was to support the institutions of the time, had not yet been turned to this end.
Brenda Hamilton, looking on the women of the Men, realized that they had not been taught to be ashamed of their bodies and needs.
They are like animals, she thought. Brenda Hamilton, though enlightened, though informed, though historically aware, was yet a creature of her own times and conditionings, of a world in which her attitudes and feelings had, without her knowing it, been shaped by centuries of misery,. un – happiness and mental disease, thought to be essential in guaranteeing societal stability, thought to be the only alternative to chaos, the jungle and terror. Fear and superstition, often by men whose gifts for life were imperfect or defective, and hated or feared life, poured like corroding acids into the minds of the young, had been a culture’s guarantee that men would fear to leave their fields, that they would keep the laws, that they would pay the priests and the kings, that the hunters would not return.
But the women, and the men, on whom Brenda Hamilton looked, had not felt this oppressive weight.
They were free of it, simply free of it.
They still owned the world, and the mountains, and hunted the animals, and went where Spear decided they would go.
They were as free as leopards and lions, as once men were, as once men might be again, among new continents, among new mountains, once more being first, now among the stars.
“Her body is alive,” said Old Woman, looking up into the face of Brenda Hamilton. “I do not understand why she would not kick well.”
Brenda Hamilton looked away from her.
“You must learn to kick well, my pretty,” said the old woman to her. “You must learn to kick well for the men.”
Brenda Hamilton turned to her, miserable, looking down into her face.
The old woman looked up at her, and cackled. “You will learn to kick well, my pretty,” she said, “if you would eat.”
Then she turned away.
Spear looked at her. Then he said to the men, “Let us go to the men’s hut.”
The men turned and went between the huts, leaving the women and children at the rack.
Spear was the last of the men to leave.
Before he left he faced Brenda Hamilton. “You are a slave,” he told her. She looked at him, blankly. Then he said to the women and children about, “Teach her that she is a slave.” Then he, too, walked away, following the men, between the huts.
The women and children pressed closely about her, poking at her, smelling her, feeling her body.
“Please untie me,” begged Brenda Hamilton.
One of the women struck her, sharply, across the mouth.
Brenda Hamilton hung, wrists apart, hands now numb, from the pole, her feet some six inches from the ground.
She tasted blood in her mouth, where the blow had dashed her lower lip against her teeth.
She closed her eyes.
Suddenly, from behind her, she heard the hiss of a switch and she cried out in pain, the supple, peeled branch unexpectedly, deeply, lashing into the small of her back, on the left side; she twisted in the thongs, agonized, to look behind her, and another switch, swiftly, cut across her belly; she cried out in misery, writhing in the thongs; first on one side and then the other, and in front and back, and the length of her body, the women and the children, chanting, circling her, leaping in and out, struck her.
Brenda Hamilton saw the ugly girl, the stupid, horrid one, crouching, naked between the huts, watching her.
Then the switch fell again, and again.
Then she saw, limping from between the huts, the woman with the scar, who had screamed something before, and had later, after the sticks had been thrown, left the group. She demanded a switch from one of the other women. It was immediately given to her. And then the others fell back. Short Leg looked at Brenda Hamilton. Then she lashed her with the switch, making her cry out with pain. She lashed her methodically and well, with care and strength, and then Brenda Hamilton, broken, blubbering, wept in the thongs. “Please stop,” she wept. “Don’t hurt me,” she wept. The older woman with the scar, Short Leg, held her face to hers, by the hair. Brenda Hamilton could not meet her eyes, but looked away.
She knew that she feared this woman terribly, that she was dominant over her.
Short Leg, angrily, threw away the switch, and limped away.
Hamilton saw another woman pick up the switch, a darkhaired woman, one of the two women who had left with the hunter who had captured her. It was Antelope. Behind her was the shorter woman, blond, thick-ankled, who had accompanied them, Cloud.
Antelope strode to her and struck her five times, and then gave the switch to Cloud, who, too, lashed her five times. Antelope smiled at her over her shoulder, as she walked away. She had the hip swing of a woman who has been muchly pleasured by a man.
A little later the young, blond girl, who had left with the other hunter, Flower, strolled to the rack, and she, too, smiling, lashed Brenda Hamilton.
“I don’t want him!” wept Brenda Hamilton. “Don’t beat me! He’s yours! He’s yours!”
Flower threw away the switch and strolled from the rack.
Then the old woman was among the other women and the children.
She pushed them away, and they, weary now, from striking, and taunting and chanting, left the pole.
Brenda Hamilton hung, beaten, alone. Her body was a welter of lash marks.
To her left hung the deer, hind feet apart, tied upside down, with its cut throat.
The sun passed the noon meridian and none paid more attention to her. She watched the shadows of the poles then creep across the ground.
Her hair was half across her face. In the early afternoon she fell unconscious.
She awakened in the late afternoon, when the shadows were long.
She saw most of the men sitting cross-legged, watching her. Among them, though, were not the hunter who had captured her, nor the small man who had thrown the sticks. Too, the small, quick man, Fox, was not among them. He was to her left, beginning to skin the deer. He began at the bound foot to his left, cutting around the leg with a small stone knife, and then made a deep vertical incision down the animal’s body. In a few minutes he had freed the skin from the meat.
The men watched impassively.
When he had jerked the skin free and thrown it to one side, to the grass, he looked at Brenda Hamilton, who regarded him, numbly.
Then, to her horror, with his knife he reached up to her bound wrist, that on his left and laid the knife against it.
“No!” she screamed. “No! No!”
The quick man, with a wide grin, took the knife away, and the other men, all of them with but one exception, the heavy-jawed, dour man she would learn was Stone, roared with laughter. And across even his face there was the trace of a smile.
She blushed, so completely had she been fooled. She was still shuddering, when she was lifted in the thongs, untied from the pole, and carried to a place on the grass.
She was sat on the grass, naked, the men about her.
The one who was their leader handed her a broken gourd, filled with water.
Gratefully she drank.
She was then handed small bits of meat, dried. She ate them.
She saw some of the women now-untying the skinned deer from the pole. Others were preparing a large, rectangular fire in a clearing between the huts. Poles would be set up; it would be gutted and roasted. Another woman had picked up the skin, and was taking it away with her.
Her body felt miserable, from the beating. She could scarcely move her hands; she could not feel her fingers. Her wrists bore deep, circular red marks, where the thongs had bitten into them.
She was given more water, more pieces of meat. She drank, and ate.
The men sat about, watching her.
She felt less frightened with them than with the women.
She knew that, to them, she was an object of curiosity, of interest, of pleasure. To the women she sensed she was only another woman, a rival, competitor. Moreover, she had recognized, with a woman’s swiftness and awareness, that she was among the most delicious of the females in the camp. She had seen only one she had felt was her superior in beauty, the young, blond girl, whom she would learn was Flower. It was not without reason that the new slave feared the other women in the camp. She hoped the men would protect her from them. She sat now among them, naked, shielded from the women. She could see that they were pleased that she had been brought to the camp, that they were pleased that she was theirs.
She felt some strength coming back to her body. She looked about herself, at the men.
Suddenly she realized that they would have nothing to do until the women prepared the meat.
She leaped to her feet, but one of the men, the dour-faced, heavy fellow, Stone, seized her ankle, and she was hurled to the grass, again among them.
Spear pointed to a hide spread on the grass, that she should take her place upon it.
The men were watching her.
“Please, no,” she said.
Spear pointed again to the hide on the grass.
She crept to it, and sat upon it.
“No,” she whispered, “please, no.”
She saw them inching toward her. She tried to move back on the hide.
With a sudden cry, as of animals, they leaped upon her, she screaming, and thrust her shoulders back to the hide. She felt her ankles being jerked apart, widely, the hands and mouths of them eager and hot all about her body, holding her, caressing her, licking at her, biting at her, pinioning her.
The first to claim her was Spear, for he was the leader.
Brenda Hamilton thrust her fingers in her mouth. They were still sore from the blow of Old Woman’s stick. She did not know whether or not they might be broken. She had tried to take a piece of meat. Screaming, striking her again and again with the stick, beating her on the back, Old Woman had driven her away from the roasting meat. Then Hamilton had fallen, stumbling, her ankles fastened, one to the other, with about a foot of play, like those of Ugly Girl, with rawhide. Spear had done this, when the men had finished with her, then turning her loose. Hamilton had fallen to the ground, helpless under the blows of Old Woman’s stick. And then two other women, too, attacked her, striking at her with their hands, kicking her with their feet. Even a child hit her. Hamilton had knelt down, head down, her hands over her head, crying out in misery. Then Old Woman had said something, and the blows had stopped. And Hamilton had crawled, abused, from the light of the fire. She had learned that she could not take meat. She was a female. But she had seen Old Woman take meat, and the large, heavy-breasted woman, too, take meat. She had learned now that they were special, and that she was not. She was only another female. Old Woman, in the cooking, was assisted by two other women, but, like the other women of the Men, they, too, were not permitted to feed themselves. The meat, like the women, belonged to the hunters. It was theirs to dispense. The only exception to this practice was that taken, usually in the course of the cooking, by Old Woman and Nurse. Old Woman did much what she wanted, and few interfered. Nurse, too, was privileged. Without Nurse some of the young might die. Nurse and Old Woman were not thought of by the Men, perhaps strangely, as being of the women. They were women, but somehow not the same, not in the same way of the women.
Brenda Hamilton knelt outside the circle of the firelight. The smell of the roasted deer was redolent in the air, with the smell of ashes and fat, and bodies.
“They are fools,” thought Brenda Hamilton. “Anyone could untie the knots on my ankles. When I wish to do so, I will, and run off.”
A few feet from her, crouching in the darkness, round shouldered, head set forward on her shoulders, eyes peering at the roasting deer, was the squat, clumsily bodied girl, with the blank, vacant eyes, the slack jaw, the hair down her curved back like strings.
Brenda shuddered, repulsed, and edged to one side, to be farther from her.
She was terribly hungry, for she had had little during the day, only the fruit and meat which her captor had given her, she bound, in the half darkness of the morning, and the bits of meat given to her by Spear before the men had put her to their pleasure. And that meat, both that of the morning and that given her by Spear, had been insufficient, and had been terribly dry, almost like cubes of leather.
She could see the fat dripping from the roasting carcass of the deer into the fire, sizzling and flaming.
She moved her fingers. She was pleased to see that Old Woman’s stick had not broken them.
This afternoon, after the men had finished with her, some more than once, she had lain on her stomach, dry eyed, miserable, on the hide that had been the bed of her masters’ pleasure, for better than an hour. She had scarcely been aware, lying on the hide, that, when the men had finished, Spear had tethered her ankles, fastening on them that knotted rawhide shackle; she had known it had been done; her ankles had been handled roughly; but it had seemed almost as if it might be happening to someone else; dully only, she had comprehended that her slim ankles were now bound in leather restraints; had the men not taken much pleasure from her; was this her only reward; she hoped that they did not think of her as they did the ugly girl; but that she, and the ugly girl, were identically shackled, told her much; that whatever status in the camp might be that of the ugly girl, that that status, too, was hers.
I am a slave, she had said to herself, lying on the hide, her ankles shackled in leather, I am a slave!
After an hour she had risen stiffly to her feet, and looked about herself.
She had been forgotten. The slave was no longer of interest to those of the camp.
She smiled to herself, ironically. Your conjecture, Professor Herjellsen, she said to herself, was correct. Your experiment is eminently successful. Unfortunately you do not know how successful it was, nor how accurate your speculations were regarding my probable fate.
Naked, hobbled, her body switched and much abused, a woman of our world, and our time, Brenda Hamilton, intelligent, sophisticated, sensitive, looked about herself, finding herself the slave of savages in a primeval camp.
But she stood erect, her head up.
I am alive she told herself. I am alive.
She moved her body, slowly. It hurt her to do so. She had been suspended, for hours, from the pole, her entire weight on tightly knotted wrist thongs, and she had been, at length, and viciously, as she had hung helplessly, switched by the women and children. And her body, too, was stiff and sore, from the attacks of her captor yesterday, and during the night, and this morning, and from the rude, prolonged attentions of her other masters this afternoon.
But I am alive, she told herself. I am alive!
She breathed in the fragrant air of the woods, of the trees and grass.
She smelled the roasting meat, the mingled odors of the camp.
She heard the cries of children, naked, running about. One was pursuing the others, and then, when he would touch one, that one would turn about and, in his turn, pursue the others, or any one of them, until he managed to touch one, and that one would then take his place.
It is tag, thought Brenda Hamilton. They are playing tag!
She saw one of the men drawn into the game, the large fellow with the prognathous jaw, and the fearsomely extended, atavistic canine tooth on the upper right side. With the children he seemed playful and gentle, even foolish. But she recalled he had used her as brutally as had the others, and not long ago. He was almost instantly “it,” and, though he was doubtless a swift, and dexterous, hunter, he seemed clumsily unable to touch the children, who, sometimes, would even run quite closely to him, taunting him, and then dart away swiftly when he leaped toward them.
Brenda Hamilton turned away, looking about the camp. She noted the number of huts, and their construction. When she tried to look inside one, a woman had screamed at her and raised her fist, and Brenda Hamilton had, stumbling, turned away. One of the huts, one of the two with a rectangular pit, and the side poles laid and tied about a horizontal pole, had sewn hides stretched across the openings at either end, that none might look within. Though Brenda Hamilton did not know it that was the Men’s hut. No female might enter it, not even Old Woman or Nurse. Even to look inside, if one were female, was to risk a severe switching. It was a mysterious place to the women. Sometimes the men met within to make medicine, but generally it was only a place to talk, a place to be where women might not come. One other hut, a smaller round one, which lay at the outside edge of the camp, separated from the others, also had hide across its opening. Brenda Hamilton would learn later that it was the Bleeding Hut, to which women, caught in flux, were banished by Old Woman, driven there if necessary with a stick. Old Woman, Brenda Hamilton would learn, could drive even Short Leg to the Bleeding Hut. In the hut, it was Old Woman who brought them water and food. As Old Woman had grown older her senses were not as keen as earlier, and she could not smell the bleeders as readily. It was dark, and lonely and hot in the Bleeding Hut. Many of the women, to fool Old Woman, stanched their flow with a tiny roll of hide, sneaking away and cleaning and washing themselves once or twice a day. Old Woman, as she had grown older, was less zealous in her policing of the females. The Bleeding Hut was often empty. Last to be sent to it, howling and protesting, had been the girl, Butterfly, who cut the meat for the older children. She had been within it only a day.
At the outside of the camp, outside of its perimeter, a line scratched in the dirt with a stick, was the midden, where bones and waste were thrown. Brenda Hamilton looked at it for some time but she saw no signs of brownish rats, similar to that which Herjellsen had had caged in the translation cubicle in Rhodesia. Such rodents, she did not know, did not follow men in their marches, but remained at the greater middens, near the shelters. Only if the men failed to return, and the edible waste at the greater middens became exhausted, would the rodents again follow the men, picking up their trail, following it, reappearing at the new middens, at the new shelters, wherever they might be.
She turned about, and, following the interior perimeter of the camp, circled the huts. In a little way, also outside the perimeter, was a waste ditch, a narrow trench, some two feet deep, some nine feet long. The dirt dug from the trench lay at its edges. The camp had two such ditches, one for the Men, the other, on the other side of the camp, for the women and children. When waste was deposited in the ditch, a small amount of the dirt from the edges of the ditch was thrown into the ditch, to cover the waste and eliminate the odor of spoor. When the ditch was filled a new ditch was dug by the women, with sticks and the flattishly curved hip bones of antelope. This trick had been learned by many of the primeval peoples. It had been learned from the great, predatory cats, who bury their wastes, thus concealing evidence of their presence in the vicinity from quarry, which might take flight, terrified by the odor of the predator. Certain human groups who had not adopted this, or a similar custom, had perished of disease. Unknown to the Men this custom, borrowed from the great cats, had, particularly in camps of long standing, sanitation values which far outweighed the concealments of scent. Another practice with indirect hygienic value was the washing of the body. Among the Men, and among their properties, their women and children, this was done with some frequency. It was done primarily that animals, either game or predators, be less easily apprised of the presence of the Men. It, like the covering of wastes was, too, in its way, an attempt at concealment. Too, it was done, particularly by the women, for cosmetic purposes. They were far more pleasing to themselves, and to the Men, when their bodies were washed free of acrid, fetid and stale odors, leaving their natural scents, exciting, sexually provocative fresh and stimulating. The great associated advantage of washing, of course, was unknown to them, the sanitary advantage, the ridding of the body of sometimes dangerous, exodermically lodged bacterial cultures. The greatest sanitary protection of the various peoples, of course, was their isolation from one another. In these times a disease that might have later swept across continents, felling its millions destroyed or decimated only a handful of victims. Indeed, we may surmise that many noxious mutations of bacteria or viruses did arise in these times, as in later times, but that having done what damage they could they either burned themselves out, dying themselves in dying bodies, or perished, leaving behind them only the immune, the survivors. Under such circumstances it is not unlikely that many a typhus, many a cholera, perished, unnoted in medical annals, never to reappear. Microscopic organisms, like their macroscopic brethren, too, may know extinction. Of starvation virulences and plagues, like men, may die.
That small hunting group, that band, calling itself the Men, was, from the standpoint of modern medical science, incredibly healthy. None of that band had ever had a disease. No child of that band had had a disease, no man of it, no woman of it. None of them had suffered from so much as a common cold. Subjected at times to exposures which would have induced pneumonia and death in other organisms they survived. There was no mystery in this. It was simply that, among them, disease did not exist. Disease requires its organisms. The organisms were not present. One cannot be eaten by a tiger if where one lives there are no tigers.
In a time Brenda Hamilton had circled the camp, discovering even, on its other side, the second waste ditch. She would learn later that that was the ditch for the women and children, and slaves. She noted at this time only that it was not as well dug, as long or deep, or sharp sided, as the other. There was a reason for this. The women who dug the Men’s ditch knew they would be beaten if the Men were not pleased with it. Accordingly, they dug it well. It is one thing to be switched by a woman; it is quite another, ankles tied together, to be switched by a man. But the women who dug the woman’s ditch were not subjected to the same discipline. The Men did not care much about the woman’s ditch, except that the wastes deposited in it, too, be carefully covered, to conceal the scent of the spoor. Too, the women did not take much pride in their own ditch. They knew that they were only women.
Brenda Hamilton turned about, and again faced the center of the camp.
The ugly fellow, with the extended canine tooth, was, sitting cross-legged, arms wide, sweeping, regaling the children with a story. They sat clustered about him, listening, sometimes crying out, sometimes clapping their hands with pleasure.
Two women, elsewhere, were scraping a skin. Another pair, working together, was removing, unlacing, another skin from a drying frame of peeled, notched, green-wood poles. Green wood was used that the skin, in drying and growing taut, would be less likely to tear loose from the lacings or snap the wood. The green wood provided a constant tension, keeping the hide taut, and yet was sufficiently resilient to preclude damage to the skin or the destruction of the frame.
One of the men, Wolf, was cutting an odd piece of hide into thin strips which he would later braid into a flexible rope.
Two of the women were giving suck to infants.
Spear was talking to Stone.
Brenda saw that the skinning rack and the meat-drying rack had been dismantled. She also recalled that the women had been unlacing a hide from a drying frame.
If she had been able to read these signs she would have understood that tomorrow, at dawn, the camp was to be broken.
One man, carefully, was feathering an arrow. He used a resinous substance, which he chewed soft, for glue, and, for twine, strands of human hair, woven into a strong thread. Another man, squatting, long-armed heavy-chested, powerful-legged, watched him. It was a skill Runner would like to acquire, the delicacy of the feathering, the placement of the feathers, that the shaft, guided, might fly true. All the Men knew how to do this, but it seemed that the best arrows were always those made by Arrow Maker. What all knew how to do, Arrow Maker, somehow, did better. He would sometimes reject an arrow with which the others could find no fault, until they had loosed it from the bow. Sometimes Arrow Maker would tap the wood and listen to it; sometimes be would balance it on a finger and see how it rested. The shafts which inclined downward slightly were usually chosen, unless a larger arrowhead were to be used. The shaft, the point, the feathers, must all be matched. Each arrow was a work of art, calling for judgment and skill. Sometimes Arrow Maker named his arrows. He had his favorites. Sometimes, as he worked, he talked with the wood, explaining to it what he was doing, and what was to be expected of it. And, as the Men said, the wood must often have listened for Arrow Maker’s arrows were almost always the best. He knew, it was said, the language of the wood. He was a good craftsman, and the wood would listen to him.
Knife, whom Hamilton knew only by sight, as the son of the leader, slept. Fox, too, whom Hamilton knew as the fellow who had pretended to put the knife to her body, when she had hung on the rack, slept.
Most of the women sat or knelt together, some yards from the fire. They were closely grouped, almost huddled. Some groomed one another. Others talked. Two played Shell, a guessing game in which a tiny shell is held in one hand, and the other player guesses in which hand it is held. Score was kept with pebbles, placed to one side. One woman was cutting hide with a tiny piece of sharp flint. Another, carefully, was piecing together two pieces of hide, folding their edges within one another and puncturing through the folds with a bone awl, then threading sinew through the holes. She pulled the sinew tight with her teeth and fingers, taking its tip first, as it was thrust through from beneath, in her teeth and then when she had pulled it through, in her fingers, then turning the hide for the reverse stitch. One pregnant woman was being groomed by two other women, who would sometimes rub their bodies against hers.
Hamilton regarded the group of females. A single net might have been thrown over them all.
How different they are from the men, she thought.
Short Leg, whom Hamilton knew only as the leader of the women, she to whom they all deferred, stood up, angrily, and regarded her. Hamilton saw the scarred face, the crooked shoulder, the result of the shorter leg. Their eyes met. Hamilton averted her eyes, quickly. Short Leg terrified her. It was not simply that Short Leg was powerful, and free, and Hamilton was slave, or that Short Leg had, earlier, beaten her viciously; it was deeper and more terrifying than that; it was the recognition on the part of one female that she is hated and despised by another, who is quite capable of killing her and is, in every way, totally dominant over her. Hamilton did not fear the men, who seemed so rough and fierce, a thousandth as much as she feared Short Leg. Hamilton was certain she could please the men. They wanted her body. She need only, with them, she knew, work hard and be perfectly obedient. With them, she knew, her femaleness, and its desirability, would protect her. But she knew she could not please Short Leg and the other women with such ease. They did not want her; they did not want her body. To them she was a competitor, a rival, in some sense a threat. She recalled that it had been the scarred woman who had demanded the throwing of the sticks, and that something, concerning her, had been decided, or confirmed, in the throwing of the sticks. The preferences of the men had been clear; the preference of the scarred woman, and certain of the others, opposing preferences, had also been clear. But the men had won the throwing of the sticks. And, Hamilton realized, she was still alive. Suddenly she realized that the scarred woman had wanted her dead. Hamilton felt sick. Suddenly she saw Short Leg before her. Quickly Hamilton fell to her knees, and put her head to the ground.
Then Short Leg had turned away, and returned to the women. She was, now, no longer looking at Hamilton.
Hamilton, red-eyed, angry, stood up.
She knew that she must if she remained in the camp, try to please Short Leg. If she did not, she knew, she would suffer greatly; indeed, she might even be killed. She sensed Short Leg had power in the camp, even with the men. Even the leader, the heavy-jawed, narrow-eyed man, had listened when she had spoken. He had not complied with her wishes, but he had listened. She sensed that the men seldom listened to the women. That the leader had listened to the scarred woman was evidence of her power. Hamilton shuddered.
But when she had groveled before Short Leg, kneeling and putting her head to the ground, Short Leg had not struck her, or even spoken to her. She had only turned away, and returned to the women.
Hamilton was much relieved. She still feared Short Leg, and terribly. But Short Leg had not harmed her. Hamilton sensed that she would be unlikely to kill her, particularly if given no provocation. Hamilton would be zealous to see that Short Leg was given no provocation. She would try to be completely pleasing to her, ingratiating, obedient, servile, and give her no cause for anger. Already she had, in kneeling and putting her head to the ground, acknowledged Short
Leg’s complete and absolute dominance over her. And Short Leg had turned away, satisfied.
This made Hamilton feel strong. She now felt she might, if she were careful, control Short Leg.
If she posed no threat to Short Leg, she might be safe.
Hamilton’s face clouded with anger.
Too, Short Leg might be pleased at her absolute power over such a beautiful woman. Short Leg might be pleased with the beautiful new slave’s deference to her. Would it not make Short Leg seem even more impressive and formidable among the men, to see the new slave, their prize, so small and helpless before her, so desperate to please her.
“I hate her,” said Hamilton to herself. “I hate her!”
But then she smiled. There were others in the camp beside Short Leg. Doubtless Short Leg could not do precisely as she wished. Doubtless she might not, simply, destroy her, even if she wished. There were, after all, men in the camp. The men would not want her killed. Hamilton laughed to herself. The power of the men, if she were careful, would protect her. The men would be her champions, protecting her from the women. She realized, of course, swallowing hard, she might have to be pleasing to the men. “Well,” she said to herself, defiantly, “I can please a man, if I must, as well as any other woman.” She was angry. “It is my intention to survive,” she told herself.-But she told herself that she would not really have to please men to survive, only submit to them. The use of her beauty, even she inert, not responding, would be more than enough for them. “I am beautiful,” she said to herself. “That is sufficient.”
She looked about herself.
She smelled the meat cooking.
To one side, some yards away, before a but, the small, twisted man, who had thrown the sticks, was kneeling in the dirt arranging small shells in geometric patterns, muttering to himself. He was the only one of the Men who had not used Hamilton.
She watched him for a time, he picking up and laying down shells, forming patterns, intent, muttering.
Idly she wondered if he were insane.
She saw the short blond woman, Cloud, emerge from one of the huts, brushing back her hair from her face. The taller woman, Antelope, had been with the other women, being groomed.
Brenda Hamilton slowly approached the hut from which the short, blond woman had emerged.
Her heart was beating rapidly.
She took short steps, the rawhide shackle confining her movements, and pretended to be looking at the sky. As she passed the hut she would, casually, inadvertently, glance inside. She was angry with the short, blond woman, but she was gone now, and so, too, was the dark-haired woman.
Suddenly her legs, backward, flew out from under her, jerked back by the rawhide strap, and she pitched forward into the dirt. She heard a squeal of laughter.
The young blond girl, Butterfly, stood over her.
Brenda Hamilton, the slave, on her side, kept her head down, and did not dare to rise.
She remembered Ugly Girl.
She hoped she would not be switched.
With a laugh, Butterfly turned about and, stepping over Hamilton, left her.
Angrily Hamilton got to her feet. She was relieved, however, that she had not been beaten.
The animosity, she suddenly realized, which the group felt for the ugly girl, doubtless in part a function of repulsion and fear, they did not feel for her. She, slave though she might be, was, if not of their group, of their kind. The ugly girl was not. Hamilton was pleased that there was one less than she in the camp. Hamilton was pleased that she was better than the ugly girl, for she, at least, was human. The ugly girl, it was clear, was not.
From where she stood, Brenda Hamilton could see the deer roasting on a long spit. It made her hungry. She was angry at the young blond girl who had tripped her.
Then, looking about, she approached the hut from which the short blond woman, Cloud, had emerged.
She looked within.
Inside, he was sleeping.
He had not taken her with the rest of the men, on the hide between the huts.
“You beast,” she said, “I hate you.”
It was he who had captured her. It was he who had brought her, slave, to this camp. It was he who had taken her virginity, she recalled angrily, and within moments of seizing and binding her. And, too, she recalled, how he had tied her down at the wrists, and had spread her legs, securing them, and had, at his leisure, taken her, again and again during the night, and again at dawn. She was furious. How casually, bow arrogantly, he had used her for his pleasure.
Then he had brought her to the camp as a slave.
On the hide she had learned that she belonged to all the men, as, too she suspected, so did the women.
But she thought of one as more her master than any other, and she now looked upon him, sleeping, lying on his side, his head on his arm.
“I hate you,” she said, “you beast.”
Then she turned about and looked up at the clouds, and the sky. She drew a deep breath. She inhaled the odors of the camp, the smoke, the smell of fat and the meat.
She looked about the camp, and at its inhabitants.
They were people, clearly, of her race, and of her kind. Yet here they were clearly savages as much or more so as any isolated, deprived or benighted group in any jungle or mountain remoteness of her own time, and these people were not remnants of competitively unsuccessful groups, driven to, or fleeing to, wildernesses, unable to withstand the onslaughts of harsher, stronger groups. These men, she understood, were as strong, or stronger, as formidable, or more formidable, than any other human groups of their time. Indeed, their hunting terrain, she suspected, might be extensive and rich in game. It was probably no accident that they hunted the forests they did. She regarded them. They were larger and stronger, and better looking, generally, than modern men, and, too, she suspected they were, human by human, more natively profound, more quickly witted, more intelligent than their later counterparts, the results of large, indiscriminately mated gene pools, and an environment in which the harsh strictures of nature, due to an advanced technology, were largely inoperative. In these times she realized that foolish or stupid men might not live; in her times she realized that such might thrive, and be encouraged to multiply themselves, providing useful and exploitable populations for their more clever brethren. Here there was little place for the foolish, the ignorant, the gullible and the weak; there were no votes to be cast, no products to buy, no institutions to support no uniforms to wear, no rifles to bear; if these men fought, or killed, they would do so because it was their own will, and they saw the reason; they would decide themselves if they would trek, or fight, or kill. They did not thrash in traps constructed by ambitious men; they did not salivate on signal, at the will of psychologists, the employees of invisible potentates.
They were people clearly, of her race, and of her kind, but they were very different.
Their technology was one of stone.
“They are at the beginning,” said Brenda Hamilton to herself.
In a way, this was true, but the Men, whose property she was, stood not at the beginning, but far along an ancient journey, a trek of life forms. There had been manlike things for thousands of years before them, and before such things, other successions and journeys, and even the tarsiers, and the tiny shrews, whose viciousnesses and tempers are so like our own, lay late along this journey. It was a journey that extended back to distant, turbulent seas, whose saline ratios we carry still in our blood, and to growths and movements scarcely to be distinguished from simple chemical exchanges, the rhythms and affinities of oxygen, and nitrogen and hydrogen, and, crucially, the instabilities and complexities of carbons. It was a journey that had seen worlds and climates wax and wane, which had witnessed stones boiling like mud and the endless, falling rains; it had witnessed the first stirrings in the slime; it had noted the track of the trilobite; it would remember the grandeur of the fern forest and would not forget the tread of the stegosaurus; and sometime, somewhere along this journey, a hominid creature had discovered what a noise might mean; and what a frightening illumination that might have been for a small, dark brain; and it may have lifted its teeth and eyes to the stars, for the first time, snarling, challenging, but frightened, wondering at the reality, the mystery, which had spawned it; and in that tiny, dark brain the reality, the mystery, itself, may first have wondered at its own nature; in that snarling hominid, frightened, reality may have first asked itself, “What am I?”
And so the Men were not truly at the beginning, but were, truly, only yesterday. The beginning which was theirs, for they were a beginning, however, was the human beginning, the truly human beginning, for the Men, and other groups like them, were among the first of the truly human groups.
Brenda Hamilton, a woman of our time, the slave girl of savages, naked, her ankles linked by a rawhide thong, stood erect in the primeval camp. She looked up at the sky, and then again at the huts, and at the men and women. She smelled the fragrant air, the meat roasting on its spit. Incredibly, and she did not understand the emotion, she felt a surge of joy. Although she did not comprehend how it might be true, she knew that she was happy to be where she was, that she did not wish it otherwise. “I am at the beginning,” she told herself. “I am at the beginning of human beings.”
Herjellsen had told her, she recalled, “Turn their eyes to the stars.”
She laughed. She was only a slave. She knew that she would be expected to work, and work hard, and serve the pleasures of her masters.
But, incomprehensibly, she was not unhappy. She did not wish to be other than where she was.
“I am at the beginning,” she told herself. “I am at the beginning of human beings.”
“Turn their eyes to the stars,” Herjellsen had said.
She could not turn their eyes to the stars.
She was only a slave.
Hamilton cried out with humiliation and pain as the switch struck her, unexpectedly, below the small of the back. And then another switch, too, struck her.
She fell to her knees, her head down, covering her head with her hands, as she had seen the ugly girl do, earlier in the day.
Again and again the switches fell, two of them.
Hamilton tried to crawl away, but she was held by the hair. Then the switches stopped.
She looked up, through tears, to see the two women, the dark-haired woman, and the shorter blond woman, who had accompanied her captor earlier in the day.
They stood between her and the entrance of the hut in which he who had captured her slept. They were angry, and raised their switches. They motioned her away.
She had been caught dallying in the vicinity of the hut. of the handsome hunter.
Hamilton, with difficulty, rose to her feet.
They took a quick step toward her, and Hamilton, trying to move away, but confined by the thong tying her ankles, fell. They were on her, striking her again.
Hamilton crawled from their blows and, when they had stopped hitting her, she rose again to her feet, and moved away. But as she did so, on some impulse she did not fully understand, but could not resist, looked at them, over her shoulder, and smiled, the smile of a female who well understands the motivations of other females, but is aware of the power of her beauty, and does not care for their wishes. Her smile said to them, “I am beautiful, and if be wants me, he will have me, and you will have nothing to say about the matter.” She felt an incredible female thrill as she did this, an emotion so deep and primitive she would not have known she could feel it, the elation and pride of the competitor female, but then, almost instantly, she regretted her action for, like she-leopards they were on her again with the switches. Brenda Hamilton howled for mercy before they stopped beating her. She fled, crawling, before them, driven on her hands and knees from the hut of the handsome hunter. When they stopped beating her, she stopped crawling, and head down, concealing it, smiled. Her body hurt and muchly, laced by stinging stripes, but she knew she had, as a female, inspired fear and hatred in the two women. It had been their intent, clearly, to drive her from the hunter. She told herself they had misjudged her motives. Then she asked herself why she had been lingering in the vicinity of his hut, and bad crept to it, to look in upon him, for she had no interest in him, and, indeed, hated him, for what he had done to her. He had abused her and it was he, too, who had brought her to the camp as a slave. “I hate him,” said Brenda Hamilton to herself. “But he is rather handsome,” she said to herself. And, too, she remembered the beginning of the strange sensation, which he had, in the darkness of the night, when she had lain bound at his mercy, begun to induce in her, that sensation which she had, with closed eyes and gritted teeth, fought, but to which she had known she must shortly yield, when he had finished with her, withdrawn and rolled to one side, to sleep. She had lain there bound in the darkness, miserable, hearing the sounds of his breathing. “I hate you,” she had whispered. “I hate you. I hate you!” And she had resolved to resist more mightily than ever, and never to yield to him, or such a beast as him, but forever, proudly, to keep the integrity of her personness, her independent selfhood, her dignity. Never would she permit such a beast to transform her into a beautiful, helpless, spasmodic, yielding female animal, only a surrendering prize, his conquest. She was, after all, a full and complete human being. She would at all costs protect her self-respect. They would never make her yield. Never! But never, too, had she forgotten the sensation.
Slowly, painfully, Brenda Hamilton rose to her feet.
She was, somehow, rather proud of herself.
Then she stood very straight, very beautifully, very proudly, almost disdainfully, for she saw him, standing before his hut. She was thrilled, but did not show it, seeing the strength, the leanness, the bronzedness of his body, so tall, so lithe and yet mighty. Never in her life had she seen such a man. She wondered how much of her beating he had witnessed. Doubtless the blows and her cries had aroused him.
He was eating a yellowish fruit, biting into it with his strong, white teeth, looking at her. She did not care what he thought but she hoped he had not seen her howling and being beaten. That would have been embarrassing. He grinned at her, his mouth filled with the white meat of the fruit. She turned away, disdainfully, and tossed her head.
She made her way between the huts, away from him.
“If he wants me,” she said to herself, “he may have me, for he is a man. And I may not resist him, for I am a woman.”
She stopped some yards from the group of women, to which the dark-haired woman, and the shorter, blond woman, had now joined themselves.
Several of them looked at her with hatred.
Brenda Hamilton turned away.
“Those women with switches have misjudged my motives,” she said to herself. “They may have him if they wish. I have no interest in him. He is only a beast, a savage. I do not even find him attractive. He bores me.”
But Hamilton, in the heart of her, not nicely perhaps, was quite pleased with the jealousy she had induced in the two other women. Clearly, they regarded her beauty as a serious threat, that they would not even let her linger near his hut, and this Hamilton found exquisitely flattering, even though she was not, she told herself, in the least interested in the hunter. “Perhaps I could smile at him sometimes,” she said to herself, “if only to drive them wild. That might be amusing. But, of course, I do not wish to be switched again.” Then she grew angry. “Who are they to say whom he picks for his pleasure?” she asked. But she did not wish to be switched. That hurt. She felt a violent surge of hatred for the two other women.
“I cannot help it,” she said to herself, “if he simply takes me and rapes me. They must surely understand that. That is not my fault. It is nothing I can help.”
Then she smiled to herself. “I am beautiful,” she thought, “and I cannot help it if he desires me, and that he, being a beast, will simply take what he desires. That is not my fault. It is nothing I can help. Surely they must understand that.”
Brenda Hamilton then understood the adversary relationship in which the unusually beautiful woman stands to other women, that they hate her, and that such a woman then, alienated from other women, has no choice but to turn to men, and is pleased to do so, for among them she finds herself exquisitely prized.
She looked back at the closely grouped women.
“I do not wish to huddle with the women,” said Brenda Hamilton to herself. “I would find the company of the men more congenial.”
“The women,” thought Brenda Hamilton to herself, “are my enemies.” And then she thought, soberly, “And the men are my masters.”
Brenda Hamilton thought of the tall, lean, mighty hunter. She smiled to herself. “If one must have a master,” she said to herself, “it might as well be one such as he.” And she regretted that she was not his alone, but, apparently, the common property of all the males, as, too, she gathered in effect, were the other women. We are all slaves, she thought, all of us. “In this time women are held in common, all of them as slaves of the men.” She thought of the men she had seen. “How dominant they are,” she thought, “how unassuming, how arrogant, how masculine, simply keeping their females as slaves.” She was scandalized, horrified, but, too, somehow, indescribably thrilled. Men were stronger, and could do what they wished. And here, in this primitive camp, she realized, shuddering, they did. “If. I were a man,” thought Brenda Hamilton, scandalizing herself, “I, too, would keep women as servants and slaves. Such weak, desirable, pretty things! I would be a fool not to do so!” And then she recalled that she herself was such a thing, desirable, weak and lovely, and would, accordingly, by men such as these be kept, like other women, as a slave.
Hamilton asked herself if she feared the switches more than she desired the hunter. “I am not afraid of the switches,” she said. “Too, if I am pleasing, the men will not let them switch me. Let them, then, dare to switch me, when the men are about. They would then be beaten!” Hamilton smiled to herself. “I will survive here,” she said to herself. “I need only please my masters.”
Hamilton stood straight.
She put back her head and, hands at the back of her neck, shook out her hair, long and dark, over her back.
She saw the old woman, with a stick, poking at the meat, it hot and dripping, roasting on the spit.
Two other women, under her supervision, bad been turning the spit. The heavy, large-breasted woman stood nearby.
With her stick the old woman, poking and tearing, ripped free a chunk of hot meat. It was torn from between the animal’s ribs. It emerged, hot, half-cooked, thrust on the stick.
The old woman and the heavy-breasted woman, the meat between them, began to bite at it, tearing it away from the stick. The other two women, who had been turning the spit, stood to one side, watching them.
Hamilton approached the fire.
She became suddenly aware of how hungry she was. All day, she had had only a bit of meat and fruit, near dawn, and, later in the day, before the men had raped her, their new slave, on the hide, some tiny pieces of meat.
She was ravenous.
She noted that, hanging loose, dangling by a thread of meat, torn almost free by the old woman’s stick, there was a handful of meat, popping and hot with fat. There would be no difficulty in taking it, for it was hanging there, like fruit, ready for the seizing. The fire pit was rectangular and narrow, and Hamilton need only reach over the flames and pull it free.
The old woman and the heavy-breasted woman had now torn the meat from the stick. Each now had her own piece. The old woman, her eyes closed, was sucking on fat from the meat. The heavy-breasted woman was thrusting her piece of meat into her mouth, ripping at it, moving her head in doing so. Hamilton saw juice running at the side of her mouth.
Hamilton went to the side of the fire, to the meat.
The two women who had been turning the spit took no note of her, they conversing.
Old Woman opened her eyes, looking at Hamilton.
Hamilton smiled at her.
Old Woman did not smile, but watched her, carefully.
Hamilton thought her fingers were broken, so savagely had the old woman’s stick struck them!
Hamilton screamed with pain, and twisted, and, stumbling, fighting to keep her balance, fled, driven, from the meat, she crying out, the old woman screaming, the stick lashing her, hot on her back, and then, her ankles caught up by the rawhide shackle, sprawling, she fell to the ground.
“Please!” she cried.
The old woman’s stick was merciless. Hamilton, kneeling, head down, hands covering her head, wept with misery.
The two other women, those who had been turning the spit, leaped to her, striking her with their hands, kicking her with their feet. Even a child ran to her, striking at her.
Then the old woman said something, sharply, and the blows had stopped.
Hamilton, abused, crawled from the light of the fire.
She now knelt outside the ring of the firelight, in the falling dusk. She sucked her fingers, and then, carefully, painfully, moved them. They had not been broken.
She had learned that she could not take meat. She was a female.
Her back was sore from the beating of the stick. Her ankles were chafed by the rawhide shackle.
But she had seen Old Woman take meat, and the large, heavy-breasted woman, too. She had learned now that they were special, and that she was not. She was only another female. Even the two women who assisted the old woman, she had noted now, did not take meat. They, too, were not permitted to feed themselves. The meat, like the women, Brenda now understood, belonged to the hunters. It was theirs to dispense. The only exceptions were apparently the old woman and the heavy-breasted woman. They were privileged. Hamilton would learn that Old Woman did much what she wanted, and that Nurse, too, did much as she pleased. Nurse and Old Woman, Hamilton conjectured, though women, were somehow not in the same way as she, and the others, of the women. Those two were special. The others, and she, were not.
Hamilton was furious, kneeling outside the circle of the firelight.
She moved her ankles.
“They are fools,” she thought. “Anyone could untie the knots on my ankles. When I wish to do so, I will, and run off.”
A few feet from her, crouching in the darkness, round shouldered, head set forward on her shoulders, eyes peering at the cooking deer, was the squat, clumsily bodied girl, she with the blank, vacant eyes, the slack jaw, the hair down her curved back like strings.
Hamilton shuddered, repulsed. She edged to one side, to be farther from her.
Hamilton was terribly hungry.
She smelled the roasted deer. She could see the fat dripping from the roasted carcass of the deer, dropping into the fire, sizzling and flaming.
She moved her fingers again. She was pleased that Old Woman’s stick had not broken them.
The old woman said something to the two women who had been cooking the meat, turning the spit.
Those two women then, under the supervision of the old woman, now, one at each end, lifted the green-wood spit on which, impaled, hung the roasted carcass. They lifted it from the fire slowly, heavily, and sat it down on a large, fiat, gray rock, on which it would be cut. The green-wood spit was left in the meat.
All day Hamilton had had only a bit of meat and fruit, near dawn, and, later in the day, some tiny pieces of meat.
She was ravenous.
“Feed me, you beasts,” she said to herself, “I’m starving.”
The old woman cried out a single word, loudly, shrilly. Immediately the women, who had been clustered together, got to their feet and came forward. The children, too, came forward. They all stood in a circle, about the flat rock on which the meat lay. With her stick the old woman pushed back some children, and one of the women. The women and children now stood in an open circle about the meat, it forming the center of the circle. Then the women parted and, between them, tall and mighty, the masters, strode the men. “How small and weak women are beside them, the uncompromising beasts,” thought Brenda Hamilton. First among the men came Spear, with his narrow eyes, his easy movements. Hamilton noted that there was gray in the shaggy dark hair at his temples. Behind him, first, came the one she knew must be his son, for he had the same cruel features, the same shape and heaviness of jaw. Then came the others, among them the tall, handsome hunter who had taken her, who had made her a slave. “How incredibly handsome and strong he is,” she thought, in spite of herself, “what a magnificent male!”
Her hunter, with. the others, squatted down about the meat. He was between her and the meat; too, there were others between them. Brenda stood up, so that she could see better. The women then, to her interest, separated from the children. The children went to one side, foremost among them the young, blond girl, who had tripped her and, earlier, the ugly girl. The women, Brenda noticed, aligned themselves about, and behind, various hunters. She was sure that this was not a random dispersal, but that there was an order involved. She saw the two women, the taller, dark-haired girl, and the shorter, blond girl, kneeling closely behind her hunter. They were too close to him! The blond girl put her lips to his shoulder. Hamilton was furious.
Spear’s flint knife, some eight inches long, the handle wrapped in leather, taken from a rawhide belt, thrust down into the hot meat.
It was the first time, of course, that Hamilton had witnessed a feeding.
She was startled at much of what she saw. The first piece of meat Spear lifted to the sky and the directions, and then threw into the fire, that it might be destroyed.
There were many meanings in this, and various groups did this differently. There seemed nothing in this of childish magic, like the throwing of the sticks. In its way it seemed simple and profound. It was a gift to the power, and showed both the gratitude and generosity of the Men. Part of what they bad been given they would give back, for they were the Men. The power was in the trees and the water, and in the wind and the budding flower, the curling leaf, the stone the tiny branch, in the swiftness of the fish, in the flight of the bird, the stealthy padding of the lion’s paw, and in the Men; it was in all things. In Spear’s act there was little of superstition, but little, too, of reverence. It was rather a celebration, and acknowledgment, of the aimless, random grandeur of the power. The power, as conceived of by the Men, had no greater love for them, nor should it, than for the blade of grass or the beasts they slew for food. No more than the rain and the sun could the power be placated, for it was the power. It gave not only life but it destroyed it as well; meaninglessly it bestowed all things, misery and joy, and life and death; with equanimity it looked on the recurrent cycles of growth and decay; it delivered men into the hands of age and blindness and antelope into the hands of the hunter; Spear had heard it in the scream of the murderess and in the cry of the newborn child; he did not prostrate himself before it, nor did he reverence it; but, in his way, he acknowledged it, and, perhaps, did it honor, for, without the power, there was nothing. Men, in these days, were not so foolish or arrogant as to create deities in their own image; they were too close to the power, in its terribleness, too close to the reality, for such invention to be taken seriously; only too obviously was the power not a manlike thing; only a fool could think so, one who did not sense the nature, the pervasiveness, the mightiness, the amorality, of the power; but, without the power there would be nothing; without the power there would not be the grass, or the antelope or the men; without the power there would be nothing; but Spear, and the others, did not grovel before the power, for they were men; they were grateful when the hunt went well, and part of the kill they would return to the power; this showed gratitude, but too, in its generosity, that they returned a portion of this gift, it showed the mightiness of the hearts of the men; not even the cave lion would be so proud, so arrogant, that it would dare to exchange gifts with the power; Spear, and the others, did not love the power, nor did they reverence it, but they acknowledged it, and, in their way, honored it. They would not worship it, of course, for the power was not so trivial or petty, so childish, that it either required, or demanded, worship; it would simply have been pointless to worship it, for it was not that sort of thing; and, had the power been a man, if it were not psychotic, worship would have simply embarrassed it; and so Spear, on behalf of himself, and the others, not reverencing and not worshiping, but acknowledging, and, in his way, honoring, did, with a good heart, lift unto the power meat, and then burned it.
Spear’s flint knife, some eight inches long, the handle wrapped in leather, taken from a rawhide belt, thrust down into the hot meat.
It was the first time, of course, that Hamilton had witnessed a feeding.
Piece by great chunk was ripped and pulled from the roasted carcass and thrown to the hunters who, squatting down, with both hands, began to feed on it, tearing it apart with their teeth and fingers.
Spear cut a huge chunk away and threw it to Tooth, the hunter with the prognathous jaw, the atavistically extended canine on the upper right side of his mouth. The children clustered around him.
Then Spear cut pieces of meat for those females who were pregnant, their bellies heavy with child beneath the skins, their breasts already swelling with milk. There were four such females, slow, and awkward, who took the meat and began to chew on it.
The man with the large tooth cut small pieces of meat for each of the tiny children, those walking, those less than some five years of age. The small ones would be guaranteed food, and the pregnant females. It was the law. Spear had made it. The man with the large tooth then gave the rest of that chunk of meat to the young, blond girl, she who was some fourteen years of age, and she it was who would distribute it among the older children. She took the first piece herself, and ate it, they watching, eyes wide, waiting for her favor. Some of them whimpered, and put out their hands, and she struck them away. Others pointed to their mouths. One boy, Hamilton noticed, did not beg, but stood with the children, sullen, angry. He, too, might have been some twelve or fourteen years of age, but whereas the blond girl was lusciously, incipiently a female, he was only still a boy. He was not yet old enough to run with the hunters. He did not have the great leap of growth yet that would bring his body to the pitch at which he might follow the pace of the older men, in their long hunts, hanging behind them, learning the smells and signs of the forest. He was two inches shorter than the girl, and less heavy. He was still slight, still a boy. But Hamilton saw that he was proud, defiant. The girl, arrogantly, threw the meat to the other children, giving more or less as the child was or was not one of her favorites. Much of the meat she ate herself. The younger children leaped and cried, and she would throw them a piece of meat. The boy cried out angrily, demanding food. She paid him no attention. She ignored his outstretched hand. Then, angrily, he tried to snatch a piece of meat and she struck him, screaming, and drove him from the meat, hitting him, kicking at him. He fell to the ground. She kicked him and turned away from him. She returned to the meat and, pulling it apart, ate some herself, and threw other pieces to the children. One piece, dark with gristle, she threw to the dirt before the boy, and stood up, head high, wiping her hands on her thighs.
Hamilton saw that there were five women behind the leader, and first among them was the lame, scarred woman, who had so terrified her.
The leader, over his shoulder, handed back meat to the lame woman, who took it, eating some, distributing other portions to the other women. Behind each hunter there knelt one or more women, waiting to be fed. After a time the hunters, growing heavy with food, grease on their hands and bodies, juice at their mouths, began to hand meat back to the women. Some of the women, from time to time, would whimper, and point to their mouths, indicating their hunger. Most of the women seemed to have hunters who fed them. The young man who was the son of the leader gave meat to,, the older blond girl, who was muchly beautiful, and clung much to him, she whom Hamilton would learn was Flower. Her own hunter, to her anger, was feeding the dark-haired woman and the shorter blond woman. Sometimes he would hand them meat, sometimes he would hold it in his hand, or mouth, and make them take it in their teeth. He did not so much as look at Hamilton. “I am hungry,” she thought. “I am hungry.”
She saw that two of the women were nursing infants. They, like the others, knelt behind men, begging their food. Hamilton saw two other women, to her irritation, lying on their backs, holding out their hands to hunters, lifting their bodies to them. “Filthy bitches,” thought Hamilton. “Prostitutes! Whores!” She was furious that they would offer their bodies to the hunters’ pleasure, merely to be fed. “Whores!” thought Hamilton. Then Hamilton saw, too, that now one of the mothers, her infant in the arms of another, was lying before a hunter, lifting her body. Hamilton turned away. “I hate men,” she thought. “I hate them.”
She saw meat thrown to the women who lifted their bodies. Other women, still hungry, now lifted their bodies to the men. Some others crawled to them, and kissed them, about the ankles. Many had meat thrust in their mouths.
Hamilton turned away, disgusted. “They are slaves, the females are slaves,” she thought.
But the high females, like the lame woman, and those others, behind the leader, seemed to feed well. Their importance, their prestige, Hamilton thought, is a function of the males with whom they associate themselves. If one would be a high female, one must well please a high male. But the lame, scarred woman was not truly attractive, and yet she knelt behind the leader himself, behind his left shoulder. In some important way, Hamilton thought, she must serve him well. She shuddered as she thought what must be the menace, the power, of the lame, scarred woman.
She saw the young blond girl, Butterfly, walking among the group. She saw the leader’s eyes, narrow, watching her.
She did not think it would be long before the young blond girl would be told to take a new place in the feeding, among the women.
She saw the boy gnawing on the gristly meat he had been thrown.
Almost unaware of it, Hamilton discovered she had edged closer to her hunter.
Different hunters now were cutting into the meat, feeding themselves, and the women about them. The first pieces of meat had been cut by the leader, and distributed by him, for he was the leader, he was the one who gave meat.
The old woman and the nurse, too, were pulling at the meat, as though they might be hunters.
Hamilton saw the old woman take some meat and give it to one of the nursing mothers.
She also saw the heavy-bodied man, with the extended canine tooth, give a tiny piece of meat to a toddling child, who put it in his mouth and ran to his mother.
Hamilton edged closer to her hunter.
Then he faced her.
“I’m very hungry,” said Hamilton. “I know you cannot understand what I’m saying, but I trust that my need, and my condition, are sufficiently obvious. I would appreciate receiving some food.”
He turned away from her, eating.
“Please,” said Hamilton.
He paid her no attention.
She rose to her feet, and, hunter by hunter, asked to be given meat. Most looked up at her, and then looked away. She was not a woman they had elected to feed. She saw the women exchanging glances, and smiling. “Please,” said Hamilton. “Please!” She was becoming more desperate. She did not ask meat from the leader. She was too terrified of the lame, scarred woman behind him. Sometimes when she approached a hunter, the other women behind him would motion her away, angrily. But most to her consternation was the fact that the hunters did not seem much interested in her. Suddenly Hamilton was frightened. Was she not beautiful? Should they not be eager to please her? Her heart sank. She suddenly understood that she stood in a competitive situation, she against other females, even to be fed. “No!” she wept to herself. But the men had used her. But now they did not seem interested in her. “Oh, no,” she said, sinking to her knees, “oh, no, no.” She had not sufficiently pleased them. What could she do to please them? What must she do? “No, no,” she wept to herself.
Anxiously she returned, ankles thonged, to behind the tall, lean hunter, he who had brought her captive, slave, to this camp.
She knelt behind him. “Please,” she begged him. “Feed me!”
The dark-haired girl, and the blond girl, chewing, looked at her.
There was no interest in their eyes.
“Feed me!” wept Hamilton.
The hunter did not look at her.
Hamilton felt her wrists being drawn behind her back. She looked over her shoulder. It was the leader. She felt her wrists tied together, tightly, with a rawhide thong. He then untied the rawhide from her ankles and, crossing her ankles, used it to secure them. He then lifted her lightly and carried her from the fire. Before one of the small, round huts, he paused, and then, easily, threw her within. She landed in the hut pit, on her shoulder, a foot below the surface of the surrounding soil, in the dirt, in the darkness. She struggled. She could not free herself. She could not rise to her feet. For more than two hours she lay on the sunken floor of the hut, in its pit, bound. She wept, she struggled. Her body was hungry, and ached from the beatings she had been given.
Outside the hut she could hear a pounding on sticks and something like singing, and laughter.
She did not know but tomorrow, at dawn, the people would go for salt, and then to the flint, and then, when ready, return to the shelters.
When the camp was quiet Brenda Hamilton heard something coming, slowly, shuffling, animallike, toward the hut. In the darkness, she struggled to sit up. It was coming closer. Brenda shrank back against the side of the hut pit, pushing back against it.
A head appeared in the entrance to the hut.
“Stay away!” screamed Hamilton, suddenly terrified, knowing she was helpless, and could not defend herself.
The creature entered the hut, stepping down, its head low on its rounded shoulders.
“Stay away from me!” screamed Hamilton. “You’re not human! You’re hideous! Stay away!”
Ugly Girl, her ankles in their leather shackles, but otherwise free, peered down, in the darkness, looking at Hamilton.
She thrust her wide, round head toward Hamilton. Hamilton felt the greasy, stringlike hair on her shoulder.
“No! No! No!” cried Hamilton. “Help! Help!” She tried to turn away, trapped against the side of the hut pit.
The creature looked at her, quizzically.
“Stay away from me!” screamed Hamilton. “You’re a monster! You’re repulsive! You are hideous! Keep away! Keep away!”
Ugly Girl backed away, squatting down.
“You. haven’t the intelligence of a dog!” screamed Hamilton. “Keep away from me!”
Ugly Girl made no noise, squatting in the darkness, near Hamilton.
“Stay away!” hissed Hamilton. “Stay away!”
Ugly Girl did not move for some time but then, slowly, neared Hamilton. “Stay away!” screamed Hamilton.
Ugly Girl, steadily, not listening to Hamilton, disregarding her cries, her movements, thrust her mouth against Hamilton’s. Hamilton tried to twist her mouth away, terrified, hysterical, almost retching, but Ugly Girl persisted, forcing her mouth to Hamilton’s. Suddenly Hamilton realized that there was something in her mouth.
It was meat.
Hamilton suddenly took it and chewed it, and swallowed it. Ugly Girl pulled back her head.
There was a long silence.
“Thank you,” said Hamilton.
Ugly Girl’s hand reached out, tenderly, and touched Hamilton’s cheek, and then she went to the other side of the hut and lay down.
In a few moments Hamilton heard the breathing of her sleep.
During the night, at times, Ugly Girl whimpered, and twisted.
“How hideous she is,” thought Hamilton. “How hideous.”
Brenda Hamilton struggled tied back to back with Ugly Girl, her hands tied behind her, about Ugly Girl, fastened in front, tightly, of Ugly Girl’s belly Ugly Girl’s hands similarly in front of her own belly. The two girls knelt, their ankles tied together, Ugly Girl’s left ankle to Hamilton’s right, Hamilton’s left to Ugly Girl’s right. They could not rise. They saw the ovoid eyes gleaming in the darkness, like fiery copper.
They were in the vicinity of the shelters.
Yesterday the animal, in the morning had dragged one of the women into the brush. That same afternoon it had killed a child.
It was a lone animal, like most who would prey upon human groups, taking them as game when, being too old or too ill, it could not pursue and slay its more accustomed quarry.
But men were dangerous game.
That afternoon and morning, in a narrow place between thickset trees and brush, the women, Brenda and Ugly Girl among them, had, with stones and sticks and shells, dug the pit, lifting the dirt from it in leather sacks on rawhide ropes. In the bottom of the pit Spear and Stone had set a large number of sharpened stakes, at intervals of some six inches from one another. The pit was some sixteen feet deep, some ten by five feet wide. It had been covered with light sticks, over which leaves and grass had been spread.
Ugly Girl’s breathing seemed almost to stop. Her back felt cold against Brenda’s.
Hamilton threw back her head and screamed, and struggled. The eyes came a foot closer. By their movements Hamilton could see it turn its head from side to side. It was a large shadow, lithe and sinuous. She heard the breathing, and smelled the animal.
It was ten days after Brenda Hamilton bad first been brought by Tree to the camp of the Men. The morning after her arrival in camp the camp had broken and the Men had trekked to the salt. It was only a half day’s trek from where the game camp bad been set.
Once in the vicinity of the salt the women, and the children, with Brenda and Ugly Girl, were herded between some trees. There they were made to huddle, closely together. A thin strip of rawhide was stretched about the trees, like a tiny string fence. The women and the children, and the two slaves, must remain within this perimeter until the men returned with the salt.
The location of the salt was a secret of the Men. Women must not know its whereabouts. Women might be stolen, and were subject to barter. They were exchangeable. If a woman knew the location of the salt, a most precious commodity, more valuable than themselves, they might reveal it to others. A male, of course, when he became old enough to run with the hunters, when he became of the Men, would be taught the location of the salt. He, in learning it, would not be sworn to secrecy, sworn to keep it from the females. That was not necessary. Any male knew that females might not know the location of salt. They were females.
It was said in the group that Spear had found the salt, but there were those among the Men who remembered that it had been Tree. He had found it while following antelope.
Brenda and Ugly Girl had waited with the women. Their ankles were no longer thonged. That was impractical in the trek. But they were tied together by the throat, by a length of rawhide some five feet long.
In the trek the women had, on their heads, carried hide bundles. Ugly Girl had held hers on her shoulder, for it was painful for her, with the placement of her neck to support weight in that fashion. Hamilton balanced the bundle she was given by Short Leg on her head, in the fashion of the other women. Hamilton was human. The bundle she carried, though perhaps heavier than most, was not particularly heavy. She was not permitted to carry food or water. The possessions of the Men, other than the women and the children, were few. The men traveled lightly. Hamilton’s bundle, like that of Ugly Girl, consisted of several skins, prepared during the sojourn at the game camp.
About the huddled women, inside the rawhide string, strode one of the men, Fox, with a switch, to be assured that they did not attempt to follow the Men and learn the whereabouts of the salt. Even Short Leg, to her irritation, must remain within the string. She, too, was only a woman. Even Old Woman did not complain. She had long since resigned herself to the fact that salt must remain a secret of the men. Too, she did not much care any longer where the salt might be. Free salt was of great value, far more than gold or diamonds would have been, but it was not essential for life, for it could be obtained in, the tissues of slain animals, in meat. Still it was a great luxury. Free salt was a trading commodity par excellence.
By nightfall the men had returned with four sacks of salt.
The group bad camped in the open that night, and, in the morning, had continued the trek, to the flint lode.
The next evening, at dusk, they had come to the flint cliffs.
Although Hamilton did not understand it, there was much anger, much fury, among the men. Clearly the flint cliffs had been worked in their absence.
Furthermore, to their outrage, in a deposit of clay thrust between two stones, was drawn a sign, the meaning of which was clear to the Men. It was the sign of the Weasel People. And it meant that they claimed the flint as their own.
Spear scratched away the sign of the Weasel People and, in its place, with his knife, cut the sign of the Men. It was an angled line, surmounted by a straight line. At the tip of the straight line, to the left, was a point. It was a representation, crude, of an arm hurling a spear.
That night guards were set.
For four days the Men worked the flint. Skins were sewn into long bags, five feet in length, a foot wide. The men, with green sticks, and picks of antler horn, and rocks, cracked and pried the flint from the cliff. When a piece of suitable weight and size was obtained it was put into a bag. Little of the flint was shaped at the lode. The amount of flint taken was a function of the number and strength of the females, who would carry it.
At the lode Brenda Hamilton bad not been fastened to Ugly Girl, but had been free, though she was set much work. She carried water in skins to. the men, and carried flint down to the sacks, and gathered wood for the night fires. She was also taught to dig roots and gather fruit and vegetables. There was no hunting done at the lode, for the men were concerned with. the flint. Dried meat was eaten, together with vegetables and fruits. Hamilton also noted that certain insects, and grubs, were eaten. She would not eat such. She was not given meat, but she fed well enough, on roots and fruits, and vegetables, of the sort which she was instructed to gather. The children also joined in such work. Hamilton was, to some extent, pleased, because she now realized how much more free with food was the land than she had realized. There were many things to eat which she had not understood heretofore as being edible. She realized she might have starved in the midst of plenty. Among other things she learned were edible was the inner bark of the white birch tree, and pine nuts and rose hips. During the first two days at the lode Hamilton had tried to remain in the vicinity of the hunter who had taken her slave, bringing him water, gathering his flint, but he had paid her little attention, and, some four times, with the stroke of a switch, wielded by either the dark-haired girl or the shorter blond girl, she had been driven from his vicinity. “I do not care,” she had said to herself. “He is nothing to me.” But she hated the dark-haired girl and the shorter, blond girl.
They did not want her near the hunter. They would beat her when she lingered near him.
The switch stung her and made her angry. She fled from it. It hurt her.
After four days at the lode the flint sacks were filled with what rock a human female could carry.
The sacks were then lifted by the beasts of burden, the females. They were slung about the neck, the weight falling to each side.
Even Short Leg carried flint. So, too, did the older children, though in lesser amounts. Of the women, only Old Woman did not carry flint. “I am too old to carry flint,” she said. The bags given to Hamilton and to Ugly Girl were especially heavy, for they were slave. Hamilton could scarcely believe that she was expected to carry it. Fox, with his switch, gestured that she lift it. She, now thonged again by the neck to Ugly Girl, struggled to lift the sack. Suddenly stung by Fox’s switch, she stood erect, feeling its weight. She almost fell. Fox’s switch tapped her in the small of the back, indicating that she should stand straight. She then felt the switch tap her under the chin, twice, indicating that she should hold up her head. She stood, a beautiful, erect slave girl, under her burden. Spear cried out, from the head of the column. The Men, carrying their weapons lightly, preceded the column. The switch struck twice, along the column. Fox strode on one side, Wolf on the other. The women, struggling under the weight of the stone stumbling, followed the men. With them, leashed by the throat behind Ugly Girl, went Brenda Hamilton. She, too, like the others, though a woman of our time, though the holder of an advanced degree from a prestigious institution of higher learning, barefoot, sweating, carried flint.
On the morning of the third day of the trek, unexpectedly, the beast had struck. Hamilton did not even see it, though she did hear the screams of the woman being dragged by the shoulder through the brush.
Spear had not permitted the men to follow. It was his belief the female would be dead before she could be reached. Further, it was dangerous, with the primitive weapons at the disposal of the men, to cope with such a beast. To attack it as one might a cave bear would be to invite the loss of three or four men, or perhaps more. Such an animal, stone-tipped spears hanging from its haunches, bleeding, maddened by the bruising of rocks, could, frenzied, attacking, with the blows of its paws and the lockings of its great jaws, destroy an entire hunting party. Such a beast must be met with guile.
That afternoon the beast had struck again, this time seizing a child in its jaws and padding away, white-muzzled, into the brush. The child had been taken not more than twenty yards from Hamilton. Its back had been broken in the first bite. Its eyes open it had dangled in the jaws, lost in shock. It would not live more than a few moments. Hamilton had screamed and tried to flee. Ugly Girl, jerked about by the leash, had held her, not letting her run. Hamilton, wildly, sank to her knees, and held Ugly Girl. They clung together. The women began to weep and cry out. One woman, the mother, tried to run into the brush after the animal but Spear followed her and, striking her again and again, tried to beat her unconscious. To Hamilton’s amazement he, with his strength, could not do so, but, at last, dazed, and in shock, the woman sunk to the ground and Spear carried her back to the old woman and to the heavy-breasted woman. Another child, too, ran to her and she took it in her arms, holding it closely, weeping, rocking back and forth, trying to sing to it.
That night many fires bad been set about the group and the women, Ugly Girl and Hamilton, too, and the children, were put in the center of the group. The men crouched about the outside of. the circle, where they might reach brands from the fire.
Wolves circled the group late, in the darkness, but they were merely curious.
The beast did not return. Somewhere, gorged, it slept. It might not wish to feed for another two or three days. It might wish to feed again by tomorrow nightfall. The men did not know its hunger.
The next morning, the tenth after Hamilton’s arrival in the Men’s camp, in a suitable place, the pit was dug. It was some sixteen feet deep, some five feet wide, some ten feet long. While the women dug and carried away dirt, the men constructed the runway. It was done with naturalness, with branches and sticks and thorn brush. It was widest at the point at which the beast would find it most convenient to enter, narrowest before the pit. It would be difficult to approach, except from one direction. Spear and Stone, in the bottom of the pit, when it was ready, at roughly six-inch intervals, set many sharpened stakes. The intervals were narrow for the beast, though large, was lithe, sinuous. If it were not impaled it would have little difficulty climbing from the pit. Furthermore, if it survived, it would be doubly dangerous, for it would now be wary of its approach and its footing. It would have profited, unfortunately for the Men, from a lesson that would not need to be repeated, a lesson which the men, in effect, had the opportunity to administer only once. When the stakes had been placed, Spear and Stone, on ropes, scrambled from the pit. Then the light network of branches was placed over the pit, and covered with other branches, and grass and broad leaves.
Behind the pit, leading to it, a path, approximately a foot wide, had been left in the thorn brush.
Brenda Hamilton wondered with what the pit would be baited.
She felt the band of Stone on her arm.
“No!” she cried.
She saw Spear held Ugly Girl, who was whimpering, her simple, vacant eyes filled with terror.
The rawhide thong which linked the two slaves by the throat was removed.
For an instant Hamilton was elated. They would use Ugly Girl, not her!
But Spear gestured that she, too, should edge between the narrow walls of thorn brush leading to the back of the pit.
“No!” she cried.
She fell to her knees.
“Use her! Not me!” cried Hamilton. “I’m human! I’m like you! Use her! Not me! Not me!”
But Stone, rawhide strips in his teeth, pulled her up by the arm and, painfully, thrust her through the narrow opening in the brush.
At the back edge of the pit Brenda Hamilton and Ugly Girl were forced to kneel. There they were tied back to back, their arms about one another, the wrists of each, behind them, tied about the belly of the other. Then their ankles were tied together, right ankle to left, left to right. They knelt then at the back edge of the pit; they could not rise to their feet.
Through the opening in the brush Hamilton saw the women. Several of them were smiling in particular the darkhaired girl, and the shorter, blond girl. She saw, too, her hunter. He was looking at her, impassively. She moaned. She struggled in the bonds perfectly secured. Then she saw, thorn, bush by thorn bush, the narrow opening, from the edge of the pit backwards, being filled with brush, walling them in. There was a ledge about a yard wide between the wall of thorn brush and the edge of the pit. It was here that the bait would wait, kneeling.
“Come back!” cried Hamilton. “Come back!”
But the Men had gone.
The eyes of the animal, ovoid, gleaming, came a foot closer.
Brenda Hamilton threw her head back and screamed, struggling in the rawhide thongs.
It was some ten yards away.
It paused, testing the wind, lifting its head. Then it entered, back low, head down, between the walls of brush at the open end of the funnel.
Ugly Girl was, head turned to one side, watching it.
The beast, low, dark, tail moving back and forth, was suspicious.
Now Brenda Hamilton was too terrified even to scream. It seemed she could not move her body. Her world seemed limited by the dark walls of brush, the shape, the gleaming eyes.
Then the beast, low, tail switching, ears back, crept a foot closer, then stopped.
Then Ugly Girl began to whimper, but it was not a fear whimper, it was a tiny noise.
Brenda Hamilton did not know the noise but it was the rooting noise of the small-tusked bush pig.
The beast, an old one, may not have caught such a swift, erratically running, delicately fleshed animal in more than a year.
The leap of the beast begins with a short run, but the leap is timed, always, to fall just short of the game, and it is on the bound, following the leap, when earth is again struck, and the great coiled springs of the back legs unleash themselves at point-blank range, that the game is seized. Just as the bullet has its greatest speed and power at muzzle velocity, so, too, the strike of the beast is most terrible at the instant that it has just left the earth. Accordingly, it strikes the prey, when possible, on the upbound. It takes its run, leaps, hits the earth a yard before the prey, and then, with its full ferocity and strength, on the upbound, strikes it, biting and tearing. The weight of the beast was some six hundred pounds, its length was some ten feet. Its strike, if made immediately from the ground, could knock a water buffalo, rolling, from its feet. It could break the back of a small horse laterally, snapping the spine. The pit the Men had dug was ten feet in length. It was thus almost certain that the termination of the approach leap, the striking of the earth immediately prior to the killing bound, would be at the pit’s edge.
Ugly Girl continued to make the small noises of the bush pig.
Then, suddenly, she stopped. To Hamilton’s amazement then, after an instant’s silence, Ugly Girl uttered a tiny, inhuman squeal of fear. It was the warning signal of the bush pig. It is a genetically linked terror signal which also, genetically, releases the fear and flight response in other pigs.
In the old brain of the beast this was a sound it well remembered.
It preceded momentarily the almost instantaneous, terrified scattering of the pigs.
Suddenly, without an instant’s hesitation, the dark, low shape, swift and terrible, sprang up, bounding forward. At the edge of the pit it sprang into the air.
Hamilton and Ugly Girl threw themselves back against the brush.
There was a sudden snapping of light branches, and a scream of rage.
For a wild instant Hamilton saw the copperlike eyes blazing not more than a foot from her body, and one paw, extended over the edge of the pit, and then the beast, twisting, fell sideways, down, away from her, disappearing in the darkness. There was a horrid scream of pain and rage, and she heard stakes snapping and the ripping of the body of the animal. Then she heard movement in the pit and more cries of rage and pain. The animal, she knew, with a sinking feeling, was among the stakes, injured, terrible, maddened with pain.
She heard it scratching at the sides of the pit. She could not see its head.
Then she heard it leap up, and saw the head for an instant, wild, frothing, bloody, and then it fell back. Again it screamed with pain.
Then again it leaped, and she saw its head, huge, broad, and the teeth, fangs white in the night. The head was more than a foot wide. Two mighty paws, claws extended, caught to the earth not more than five inches from their bodies, and the animal tried to scramble up, back feet digging at the side of the pit, snarling, roaring. Hamilton saw that it was now blind in one eye. There was blood, black against the side of its head, on the left side of its head. The left ear was torn.
The animal, partly out of the pit, regarded them.
It held, precariously, to the side of the pit. Then, suddenly it pitched backward into the darkness.
Its six hundred pounds fell from some sixteen feet backward onto the stakes.
Hamilton heard a sudden whimpering. Hamilton did not know the sound. It came from the pit. It was that of a cub crying for its mother.
Then there was silence. The pit was dark, and very quiet. Hamilton, tied against Ugly Girl, lost consciousness. Ugly Girl, bracing her body, held Hamilton and herself upright. Ugly Girl began to make a low, crooning noise with her mouth, a repetition of some four or five notes. She repeated this over and over, happily, to herself. It was the Ugly People’s way of singing. She, and the human slave girl, were alive.
Brenda Hamilton laughed.
She had made good her escape.
Yesterday night she had fled from the group. The group had come, in the late afternoon, to a group of high, almost sheer cliffs. In them, here and there, high, some of them more than two hundred feet from the ground, there was a set of openings, leading to deep caves.
These were the shelters.
They were the home of the Men, and of their properties, their skins, their flints, and their women and children.
The cliffs, with their height, and the dark openings, had frightened Hamilton.
She was afraid to be owned in them.
Camp had been made at the foot of the cliffs, for the men must investigate the caves again, many with torches, to make certain that the cave bear had not, in their absence, claimed them as his own.
The group was in good spirits. The cave lion had been killed, and such beasts, preying on humans, were extremely rare. Many hides and much meat had been taken at the game camp, and the men had found salt; and much flint had been carried to the foot of the cliffs.
Brenda Hamilton, naked, thonged to Ugly Girl by the throat, her body aching from the weight of the flint sack, had, with the other women, thrown down the flint, and knelt with them, at the base of the cliffs, exhausted. No longer were she and the others hurried forward by the switches of Fox and Wolf. Her body had been struck many times. The other women, except Ugly Girl, were happy; they were home; Brenda Hamilton, her body aching from the weight of the stone, and stinging from the blows of switches which had encouraged her to carry it more swiftly, looked up at the cliffs; she was afraid; they were very high, and the dark openings frightened her; some of them were more than two hundred feet high in the cliff. Ugly Girl did not seem happy or unhappy; she seemed only stupid, docile, vacant; she would do whatever her masters told her; Brenda Hamilton would not; she was determined to escape. She no longer wished to carry flint as a slave; she did not wish, again, to be used as a piece of meat, living meat, to bait a trap. Many of the women had smiled, when she had been tied with Ugly Girl, particularly the dark-haired girl, and the shorter, blond one. And the hunter had looked upon her, when her eyes had pleaded with him, impassively. She would flee.
Her opportunity had come much earlier than she had hoped. The men had gone up the cliffs, to investigate the caves. The women and children, thus, had been left below.
Before the men had left, dried meat had been distributed. Brenda and Ugly Girl had had four cubes apiece. It had been held in the palm of the hand of Runner. They had taken it, as kneeling women often did, in their teeth, directly from his hand.
At the flint lode, in gathering fruit, and roots and vegetables, and watching what was eaten, Brenda Hamilton had learned much.
She was confident she could now, in one way or another, survive.
She must make her way to the south before the onset of winter.
When it grew dark, and the others were asleep, the men, not wishing to descend the cliff at night, in the uncertain light of torches, camped in one of the shelters, Brenda Hamilton, carefully, silently, began to chew on the rawhide thong that tethered her to the slack-jawed, vacant-eyed, inhuman Ugly Girl. Ugly Girl approached her, whimpering, and tried to push her hand from the thong, but Hamilton, frenzied, furious, struck her back. “Stay away!” she hissed. Whimpering, Ugly Girl withdrew to the end of her tether. In time, biting and pulling and scratching with her fingers, she managed to part the thong. “What fools they are not to have bound me hand and foot,” she laughed to herself.
Then she had crawled from the group, slowly, silently. When she had cleared the area of the bodies, and the low, dim light of the dying fire, she leaped to her feet and ran.
She had escaped.
She had run for many hours, until she had gone so far no one could follow her.
Then she had slept. In the afternoon she had arisen, and, finding some nuts and roots, had fed; had, with the aid of a small stick, sharpened with a rock to a point, removed the remains of the tether from her throat, which had fastened her to Ugly Girl; and had then continued on her way.
“No more will I be subject to their switches,” she laughed. “No more will I have to eat like a female animal from their hand. No more will I have to carry flint. No more will I have to see that hateful hunter!”
Suddenly Brenda Hamilton threw her hand before her mouth. She saw the eyes, briefly, in a flash, between bushes. It was not an animal the size of the cave lion. It was much smaller. But it was a sinuous, stealthily moving animal. It weighed perhaps only forty or fifty pounds more than Hamilton, but it was quite capable of taking prey twice its weight or more. It was a strong predator, which could pull its prey, even if heavier than itself, high into the branches of a tree, to keep it from scavengers. It was the most agile of the large cats, and, to men, perhaps the most dangerous. Hamilton had seen one of its descendants in Rhodesia, smaller, but still quite dangerous. To her horror, it was stalking her.
She remembered the body of the calf, half torn, lying over the limb of the tree in the Rhodesian bush. She recalled the great care of William and Gunther, even armed, in approaching it, even when it was sleepy, somnolent and gorged. Gunther, who was a remarkable hunter, with excellent weaponry, would not have followed it into the bush.
“Oh, no!” wept Hamilton.
Sometimes she thought that she had lost it, but then, again, shifting in the darkness, almost indistinguishable among shadows, she would see it again.
Once she picked up a rock, and hurled it at the shape.
She heard only a snarling, and saw it crouch down. She sensed its nervousness. She remembered the cave lion.
She was terrified that she might provoke its charge. She moved a little away, and it moved a little toward her. She ran, shouting, toward it, but it did not retreat. She saw it gather its hind legs, like springs, ready to leap.
She stood still, terrified.
It hesitated, and lay down, tail slashing, watching her.
She looked about. It could be upon her before she could climb a tree. She sensed that it would charge when she turned her back. And, too, she knew, a tree would not be likely to much protect her. It was a far more swift, expert climber than she. If she were already in a tree, and had perhaps a heavy branch, she might perhaps, striking and thrusting, be able to keep it away, as it tried to approach, scrambling after her, but she was in no such position, and had no such implement.
The beast, eyes blazing, snarling, crept toward her.
Hamilton began to back away.
She wanted to turn and flee, but she knew that it, bounding and leaping, would be on her in a matter of seconds.
Hamilton backed into a grassy clearing, moving back, step by step. Her eyes were wide. Her hand was before her mouth.
The beast, creeping, eyes blazing, every muscle of it excited, tail switching, followed her.
Hamilton tripped over a root and, crying out with misery, fell.
In that instant the leopard charged. In less than the time it took Hamilton to see it clearly it was across the clearing and, snarling, leaping toward her. She saw the heavy shaft, not realizing at the time what it was, strike the beast in its leap and saw the flailing paws, claws exposed, striking toward her. Another body leaped over hers and she cried out in fear and, her weight on the palms of her hands, saw the leopard biting at the shaft protruding from his side, and the other shape, human, but bestial, ferocious, like nothing she had ever seen that was manlike, hurl itself on the spotted beast, a knife of stone in its hand. He clung to its back, one arm about its throat, rolling with the animal, jabbing and pulling the knife again and again across the white, furred throat. The great, clawed hind feet raked wildly but could not find their enemy. The blood flooded from its lungs, sputtering out like hot red mud, and then the blood, no longer flowing from its mouth, burst from its throat and the assailant, his fist and knife red to the wrist and hilt, drew his hand from the beast’s body.
The beast then lay at his feet, the arterial blood throbbing out, a pulsating glot to each beat of the animal’s heart. To Brenda’s horror the assailant then knelt beside the beast and, catching its blood in his hands, held it to his mouth, drinking. Then the glots became smaller, and their expulsions weaker, as the heart slowed, and then stopped. The assailant, dipping his finger in the throat of the animal, then drew signs on his own body with the blood, luck signs and courage signs and, among them, the sign of the Men.
Tree rose from beside the beast and looked down at the lovely naked female on the grass, whom he had saved.
Brenda Hamilton felt her ankles tied tightly together. Her hands were left free. She did not try to free her ankles.
Tree lifted the leopard.
Hamilton was indescribably thrilled, for what reason she knew not, to see that the stone. tip of the spear had emerged, inches of it, from the right side of the leopard. She could scarcely conceive of the incredible strength of such a cast.
Tree, placing the butt of the spear on the ground, forced the shaft through the leopard completely, thus freeing the weapon and protecting the bindings which fastened the long stone point to the wood.
Then, spear in hand, he stood over her. He was breathing heavily. She had seen him drink the blood of the leopard. And its blood, too, in strange signs, he wore on his body.
Her ankles were bound. She could not run. She lay at his mercy.
She could not even thank him for having saved her life. She only hoped that he would not kill her. She could not meet his eyes. Such a man, so mighty, so frightening, terrified her. She knew she would do whatever such a man commanded her, unquestioningly, even eagerly.
She dared to look up, to look into his eyes. Never had she felt so helpless, so much a mere female.
Quickly she looked down at the grass.
How miserable she was. She had been caught.
He went to the leopard and began to gut the beast, saving meat and skin, the head and claws.
When he had finished he untied her ankles, and gestured that she should stand.
When she did so he put the leopard over her shoulders. It was heavy, even bled and gutted. She felt the stickiness of bloody hair on her back, and the softness of the fur, and the heavy paws, with their claws, limp and weighty, touch her body.
She looked again into his eyes. She suddenly realized she was a runaway slave. She looked down again. She knew she would be beaten.
He then turned away and she, carrying the carcass of the leopard, followed him.
She understood then only too well, though she did not understand how it could be, that such men could follow her like dogs, that they might pick up her trail and, with ease, when they wished, pursue and retake her. “There is no escape for me,” she whispered to herself. “There is no escape.” And too she had learned that the primeval forests would offer her small refuge. She looked about herself now in terror, for the first time better understanding the ferocities and perils of her environment. Within twenty-four hours of her escape she had nearly fallen to a leopard. Had it not been for the intervention of the hunter she would, by now, have been half eaten. A lone female in these times, she realized, had need of the protection of a man. Without the protection of men she could not survive. The choice was simple for the female. Either serve men on their own terms or die.
Staggering under the burden of the leopard, Brenda Hamilton, the slave, followed the hunter back to the shelters.
Brenda Hamilton scrambled to the back of the cave. She put her cheek against it, the palms of her hands. It was rock. She could go no further.
She did not look over her shoulder.
She knew he crouched in the entrance, the switch in his hand.
“Please don’t hurt me,” she begged. “I’m sorry I ran away. I will not do it again!”
He, of course, could not understand the strange noises she made, not of the language of the Men, nor, if he could have understood, would he have listened.
She was a girl to be disciplined.
Brenda Hamilton’s fingernails scratched at the rock. The cave, for a full day now, twenty-four hours now, had been her prison. The entrance, for the caves, was a large one, though it had appeared much smaller from far below. It was some four feet in height and three feet wide, irregular. Outside it was a narrow ledge, not more than two feet in width. The fall from the ledge to the valley below, Brenda Hamilton had seen in terror, was better than some one hundred and seventy-five feet, approximately that of a seventeen-story building. Above and below the cave, and to the sides, the cliff was sheer. It was reached from a ledge above, by a knotted rawhide rope, which, when the hunter left, he drew up after him. Inside the cave there was a gourd of water, and two frayed, worn bides. There were also some pieces of fruit, and rinds. The cave, within, was much larger, like many of the caves, than one would have expected from the outside. It was roughly some eight feet in height and width, and some forty feet deep. It was lit by light from the entrance and, overhead, in the ceiling, some fifteen, feet in, by a long, narrow cleft in the rock, extending some fifty feet upward diagonally, too small to admit a body.
She had been brought to the cave blindfolded, that she might not struggle in terror. Her wrists had been tied together and placed about his neck and shoulder. He had, after lowering them both to the ledge, disengaged her arms from him and thrust her into the cave. There he had removed the blindfold and wrist thongs and left her, taking them with him, thrust in his belt, climbing the knotted rope, which he drew after him.
She had run to the cave entrance and, dropping to her hands and knees, had entered into the sunlight, and screamed, seeing the drop below her.
She heard a scrambling above her and saw the hunter attain the ledge above, some twenty feet higher. Then the rope was jerked up, following him.
“Don’t leave me here!” she screamed. “Please! Please!”
But he was gone.
Sick, she inched herself backward, timidly, and lay down inside the entrance, helpless, surrounded by the walls of stone.
She felt certain that she had been abandoned, but, in the morning, on the ledge outside, she had found the gourd of water, and some pieces of fruit.
Now the hunter crouched in the entrance. She saw the switch, and knew she was to be disciplined. She was naked.
She had scrambled to the back wall of the cave. Her fingernails scratched at the stone.
She heard him behind her.
She did not look back.
Suddenly the switch struck, wielded with a man’s strength. She screamed in pain.
She turned to face him, to plead with him, and the switch struck again.
She fell to her knees and again, this time across the shoulder, the switch fell.
She leaped to her feet, trying to escape, and ran to the entrance. She dropped to her hands and knees and crawled onto the narrow ledge. She cried out with misery. By the ankle she was dragged back into the cave. Four times more fell the switch. She rolled, and scrambled again to her feet. He struck her again. Weeping she tried to escape him, but there was no escape. Twice, by the arm, he threw her against one of the walls, beating her at the foot of it. Then he took her by the hair and hurled her back to the rear of the cave. There she fell to her knees and covered her head. Ten more times the switch fell on her body. Then the hunter threw her to her back, on the hides, weeping, and swiftly raped her, after which, she moaning in terror and misery, he left her. “I won’t try to run away again,” she wept, eyes glazed, looking after him through her long dark hair. “I will not try to escape again,” she wept, “-Master!” She was startled that this word had involuntarily escaped her. She lay there in misery, wondering at what it bad meant. Could it be, she asked herself, in horror, that, subconsciously, the lean hunter had been truly, incontrovertibly, acknowledged as her literal master? “No!” she wept. “No!” But she could not forget what she had said. Not meaning to, unintentionally, in misery, she had called him “Master.” She lay in the cave, sullen, in pain, knowing she had, unconsciously, unable to help herself, called him “Master.” “He will never master me,” she wept. “Not Brenda Hamilton! No savage, no barbarian, will ever master Brenda Hamilton!” But she could not forget that she had called him master. This troubled her greatly. And, too, it made her furious. “No savage, no barbarian,” she hissed, “will ever master Brenda Hamilton!”
“Old Woman,” said Tree, “I would talk with you.”
“Talk,” said Old Woman. She was sewing, poking holes through hide with a bone awl, then pulling a thread of sinew after it, through the hole. She worked carefully. Old Woman’s eyes were still sharp. It was a winter garment for one of the children, the oldest boy. He would soon be able to run with the hunters. Old Woman was fond of him. He was the son of a woman who had been her friend. She had been killed in an attack of the Weasel People, some ten years earlier, on a game camp.
Tree did not speak, for Nurse was walking by. She held at her breast one of the camp’s infants.
On a ledge nearby Tree could hear Fox and Wolf arguing. Wolf had hidden meat and now could not find it. Fox was asking him where he had hidden it. Wolf would not tell him, only that it was gone. “You should not hide meat,” Fox was telling him. “It is not good to hide meat. “Where do you hide meat?” “I will not tell you,” said Wolf. “I am your friend,” said Fox.
“Talk,” said Old Woman to Tree, regarding her sewing.
It would not have occurred to Tree to talk to the women, except to give them orders, but he did not think of Old Woman as being of the women. She was different. She was independent. She was shrewd. She was ill-tempered. She was wise.
“You know the pretty bird I brought to camp,” said Tree.
“Stupid little thing,” said Old Woman.
“Yes,” said Tree, “she is stupid.”
“But pretty,” said Old Woman, pulling the sinew tight with her teeth, still, in spite of her age, sharp and white.
“Do you think she is pretty?” asked Tree.
“Yes,” said Old Woman, “more pretty than Antelope, more pretty than Cloud.”
“But not so pretty as Flower?”
“No,” said Old Woman, “not so pretty as Flower.” Old Woman looked up. “How long are you going to keep your pretty little bird on her perch? She has been there for four days. There is work for her to do down here.”
“I will keep her there as long as I please,” said Tree.
“Poor little slave girl,” grinned Old Woman.
Tree, squatting beside Old Woman, looked out the entrance of the shelter. Fox and Wolf had gone.
“I am angry with her,” said Tree.
“Why?” asked Old Woman.
“I do not know,” said Tree.
“Does she know?” asked Old Woman.
“I do not know,” said Tree.
“She is stupid,” said Old Woman. Anyone knew that when a man was angry with a woman she would lift her body to him, to placate him, and beg to kick for him, that in the pleasures of her body, he would forget his anger. Else she might be beaten. Any woman with half a brain knew that.
“It is too bad that she does not kick well,” said Tree.
“Why?” asked Old Woman.
“She is pretty,” said Tree, “very pretty. She should be a good kicker.”
“Does this woman trouble you?” asked Old Woman.
“Yes,” said Tree.
“Do Antelope and Cloud trouble you?” asked Old Woman.
“Not like this woman,” said Tree.
“She is not of the Men,” said Old Woman. “She is a foreign female, she is a slave.”
“I know,” said Tree.
“Take her,” advised Old Woman. “Use her as much as you wish. Tire of her.” She grinned. “That is the cure for sickness over a woman,” she smiled, “use her repeatedly until you weary of her.”
Tree smiled. “I want more from this woman,” he said.
“Ah,” smiled Old Woman. “She has stung your vanity. You want to make her kick for you.”
“Perhaps,” said Tree.
“The poor little thing has been abused enough,” grinned Old Woman. “You surely would not be so cruel as to make her yield to you?”
“You area wise old woman,” said Tree.
“Poor little slave girl,” cackled Old Woman.
“It takes time,” said Tree, irritably.
Old Woman laughed. “A little patience is a small price to pay for a night of pleasure,” said Old Woman. “Be patient, great hunter,” she advised, “until you catch her.” She pointed the sewing awl at Tree. “What you catch,” she laughed, “I assure you will be well worth the wait.”
Tree rose to his feet.
“Remember all that I have taught you,” said Old Woman. “Any woman-any woman-can be made to kick.”
“I will make her kick and squeal like a rabbit,” said Tree.
“Poor little slave girl,” said Old Woman.
Tree turned about, and left Old Woman.
Old Woman looked after Tree. She was old and wise. She had not come on this sort of thing often, but she knew of its existence. She remembered Drawer, whom, when he had become Old Man, and when he had gone blind, Spear had killed. She continued her sewing, crooning to herself a little song.
Old Woman was happy.
It was noon, and the sunlight was hot on the cliff, when Tree slipped down the knotted rawhide rope to the ledge outside the cave where the lovely slave girl was kept.
He dropped to the ledge.
She moved back further, within the cave. She put out her hand, and shook her head. Her eyes showed fear. She said something in her barbarous tongue, unintelligible to the Men.
Naked, defenseless, slight, the stone wall at her back, she was quite beautiful.
Tree leapt forward and thrust her, standing, stomach to the stone, against the wall.
Then, with a length of rawhide, he fastened her wrists behind her back, and turned her about to face him.
Her back was now against the stone. She looked up at him, frightened. He touched her hair. She said something in her barbarous tongue. He lifted her from her feet and put her, bound, on the two hides.
Though the sun outside was hot, the cave was cool. Tree went to the water gourd and took a drink. He ate one of the pieces of hard fruit at the side of the cave. Twice a day he had fed and watered the slave.
He then turned and looked at her, hands tied behind her back, sitting on the hides, looking at him.
He approached her, and sat, cross-legged, beside her. She tried to edge back, but the wall prevented her retreat. The stone was at her back.
She spoke again in the barbarous tongue, questioningly, fearfully.
He made no move toward her. For a long time he looked at her, carefully, relishing the delicious, captive curves of her slave body.
She said something to him, pleading, obviously begging him to go away.
He spoke to her in the language of the Men. “I am going to make you kick,” he told her. “I will teach you what it is for a female to kick for a man. I will teach you to kick as you have never kicked before. I am going to make you kick superbly.”
Then he reached down and took her right ankle in his hand.
The lovely slave looked at him with horror.
“Go away!” cried Brenda Hamilton. “Go away!”
She tried to free her hands, but she, tied by a hunter, could not do so. She moaned. She was defenseless. Her entire body, each inch of it, curved and vulnerable, lay open to his tongue, his teeth, his fingers, his hands, his forces and pressures, his touch.
She tried to pull her ankle away but could not do so.
He seemed amused that she, with only the slightness of the female, should try to pit her strength against his.
She saw the dilation of his pupils, and knew that she was beautiful to him.
A tremor of sensation coursed from her ankle up her leg. She shuddered.
“Rape me swiftly, you beast,” she begged. “Be done with it!”
His hand still on her ankle, he reached to her hair and pulled her head forward, exposing the back of her neck. She felt his teeth, gently, biting at the back of her neck. Once she felt his jaws half close about the back of her neck. She knew he could, if he wished, with those strong jaws and white teeth, that large head, bite through the neck, breaking it. Then she was on her side, his hands moving on her body, with the full liberty of those of a master on the body of his female slave, in long, possessive, stimulating caresses. She moaned, and tried to pull away, but his hands held her. Then she was put on her back. He delighted himself with her breasts. She closed her eyes and gritted her teeth. For a long time Tree, slowly, tenderly almost, but with the underlying hardness of a master who, ultimately, will permit no compromise, and this the girl knows, kissed and touched her. He avoided only the delicacies of her delta, which she feared most, shuddering, he might touch. Should he do so, could she resist him?
Brenda Hamilton lay miserably on two hides, on the stone floor of a primeval cave, her hands tied behind her with a rawhide thong.
She looked up at her master.
Her body was helpless. In it stirred tumults of sensation. But he had not yet even touched her most intimately.
He was the most magnificent man she had ever seen, and she was helplessly his. But he was only a savage, a barbarian! She was a thousand worlds and times his superior. She was sensitive, intelligent, educated, civilized! She jerked at her wrists, trying to free them. But she looked up into his eyes. She saw that he was mighty; she sensed, too, in his eyes that his intelligence, in its raw, untutored power, was far greater than even hers, greater even, she suspected, than that of Gunther, who had been the most brilliant man, saving Herjellsen, she had ever known. She looked up at him, and knew that he was her superior in every way. She turned her head miserably to one side. And this was his world, not hers. She was not a thousand worlds and times his superior. No. He was a thousand worlds and times her superior! She, in this world, naked, bound, lying at his mercy on hides in a primeval cave, was no more than a slave, only a slave.
His hand moved toward her helplessness, but he did not touch her.
She looked at him, in terror, her body charged with blood, hurtling in the rapids of her beauty.
This was the beast who had taken her in the forest, who had brought her slave to his camp. How she hated him! She had been forced, as a beast of burden, to carry flint. He had looked on, impassively, when she had been tied as bait, to lure a predatory beast to a trap. She, and Ugly Girl, too, for that matter, might have been killed! She hated him! And she had fled, but he, like a dog, had followed her, easily. There had been no escape from him! She looked up at him. She knew she could not escape him. She shuddered, remembering the leopard. She had fallen. It had leaped toward her. The great shaft, tipped with sharpened stone, had struck it from her. Then he, seemingly as terrible, as fierce, as inhuman and bloodthirsty as the beast itself, had fallen upon it, and, striking again and again, had killed it. She remembered the grass, the night, the blood pulsating from the beast’s throat, and the killer hunching beside it, drinking its blood, and then, as a man, drawing signs upon his body, and among them, the sign of the Men.
And then standing over her, she only a naked, frightened female, from another time, at his feet, with the great, stone-tipped spear.
The leopard, gutted and bled, he had forced her to carry back to the caves, his trophy, borne on the shoulders of the recaptured female slave.
Then he had put her in this prison, in this cave, where she, nude, confined by the steepness of the cliffs, must, helpless, await his pleasure.
And then, the day after her incarceration, he had, viciously, with his man’s strength, laid the switch richly to her beauty, well disciplining the slave for her flight. She had cried out to him that she would not run away again. She had, inadvertently, to her astonishment, and horror, in English, addressed him as “Master.”
“No man will ever master Brenda Hamilton,” she said. And then, helplessly, closing her eyes, she lifted her body to him.
She, body arched, heard his great laughter in the cave, and, opening her eyes, saw him sitting beside her, his head thrown back, roaring with laughter.
She lowered her body, and turned her head to one side.
When he had finished laughing, she again regarded him.
“Yes, I’m yours,” she said, “Master.” She again lifted her body. “I am not ashamed. You are my master. Do with me what you will. I am your slave.”
Tree saw the lovely slave girl lift her body to him, as though sloe might be of the women.
He knew then that he could make her kick, and make her kick superbly.
He threw back his huge head and laughed.
When he looked again upon her, she again, pleadingly, lifted her body to him. She said something in her barbarous, unintelligible tongue. Tree did not precisely understand what she said, of course, but he understood clearly the submissiveness of her tone of voice. She was asking him to use her as a female. She was submitting herself to him.
Gently with tongue and fingers he fell upon the most vulnerable delicacies and beauties of her helplessness.
She began to writhe and scream with pleasure.
But Tree did not forget the lessons of Old Woman for he, in his strategems, had only begun to arouse the lovely, helpless slave. When he finally entered her she was quivering and crying and biting at him, but even then he, following the advice of Old Woman, resisted her pleadings, and the piteous, supplicatory movements of her body, sometimes, by sheer force, holding her, weeping, immobile. But at last, after more than a thousand, varying stabs of pleasure, swift, and slow, and gentle, and fierce, and sweet and hard, he, as she screamed with pleasure, rearing under him, shattered her, exploding within her the long-withheld tenseness, the force, of his manhood. He did not then withdraw from her either, for Old Woman had told him to stay with the woman, and hold her, and caress her, or it would be like taking food from her mouth, leaving her half hungry.
“Don’t leave me!” wept Brenda Hamilton. “Don’t leave me!” She fought the thongs that bound her wrists behind her back. She wanted to seize the hunter, and hold him, tightly, in her arms, never letting him go. But her wrists were behind her back, fastened tightly in rawhide loops. He could leave her with ease, should he wish.
“Please don’t leave me!” she wept.
And the hunter continued to hold her, small, soft, yielded, piteously his, against the now-relaxed gentleness of his leanness, his supine might, his hardness, now suddenly gentle, now unbent like a great bow.
Though she knew he could not understand her, Brenda Hamilton, in English, softly, her head against his chest, spoke to the hunter.
“My name is Brenda Hamilton,” she said. “You could not perhaps understand my world. It is very different from yours. I come from a different time. On my own world I am of some small importance. There I am a respected person, highly intelligent and well educated. I have an advanced degree in a technical subject from a great university. Here I am only a naked female, and even my wrists are bound. Here I am only an outsider, and a despised slave, but here I am in your arms. My world, in many ways, is empty. This world, in many ways, is much more real. I suppose I should be horrified that I lie here a slave in a primeval cave but I am not, dear hunter, dissatisfied. I would not have it otherwise, dear hunter. Do you know why that is? Do you think it is simply because you have mastered me, and made me behave as a slave in your arms? Because you have made me truly a slave? Oh yes, dear hunter, I acknowledge that I am your slave, completely. You have given me no choice in that. But is there not more to it, dear hunter? It is not that I am simply a slave girl. I am rather a slave girl who helplessly loves her master. Did you give me choice, either, in that? No, you did not, you beast.” Then Hamilton, gently, kissed the hunter. “The slave girl loves her master,” she whispered. “I love you, my master.”
It was late afternoon when the hunter left the slave. Before he left, he untied her hands. But he did not let her touch him; rather he thrust her back, stumbling, tears in her eyes, for she was, after all, only a slave.
Then his lean body, band over hand, disappeared up the knotted rawhide rope, which he drew up after him.
Brenda Hamilton extended her hand after him. “Come back to me, Master,” she cried. “Come back to me, soon!”
In the cave Brenda Hamilton threw herself on the hides and cried out for joy. “I love him!” she cried. “I love him!” And then she moaned, “Come back to me, soon, Master!”
Not only had the incompleted sensation in her body, which the hunter had long ago induced in her, been completed, but it had led to a thousand other rhapsodies of pleasure, dimensions of feeling, of emotion, of tissue sentience, of body awareness, of which before in her life she had never suspected the existence. Her body, for the first time, seemed rich and glorious, and saturated with excitement and feeling. She wanted to kiss his hands and lips and manhood for what they had done to her. For the first time in her life she felt the fantastic sentience of an owned, loving female. And, too, she had begun to suspect, in his touchings and lovings, that even beyond these dimensions of joy, like thousands of doors and horizons, there might lie others, and more. She wanted to train herself, and to grow, from day to day, from year to year, eagerly exploring and learning, in sentience and feeling. She knew women could improve themselves in such matters, as in any others. She must give attention to them. She must train herself to become more responsive, perhaps more swiftly reflexive, to feel more rapidly and more deeply. She had just begun to sense the possible depths of her feelings, the possible heights of her ecstasies. She had just begun, under the hands of a primeval hunter, to learn the possibilities, the capacities, of her femaleness.
“I love you, Master!” she cried.
That night, bringing a piece of hot meat in his teeth, Tree returned to the lovely slave.
He did not tie her hands.
He offered her the meat. She threw it aside and fell to her knees before him, thrusting her head beneath his skins, kissing his manhood.
Tree took her in his arms and, laughing, threw her back to the hides on the floor of the cave.
Four days more was the lovely Brenda Hamilton kept a helpless love slave in the primeval cave.
In this time the hunter spent much time with her, day and night, only leaving her to fetch food and water. When he returned she would welcome him, helplessly, deliciously, and melt into his arms.
“Tree keeps his little bird long on her perch,” said Spear to Old Woman.
“He is training her well,” said Old Woman.
Spear had laughed, and turned away.
Old Woman smiled to herself. She remembered that, years ago, though it was still fresh in her memory, when she had been a young and beautiful woman, Drawer had similarly trained her, and superbly.
Above, in her high, prison cave, Brenda Hamilton lay in the arms of her hunter. “I love you, Master,” she whispered to him. “I love you.”
Had she known of the conversation of Spear and Old Woman, and could she have spoken the language of the
Men, she would have stood brazenly before Tree, laughing, her hands behind her head, her body thrust toward him. “Yes, Master,” she would have laughed. “You have trained me well. I am now a well-trained slave.”
And Tree would have seized her by the ankle and again pulled her to the hides, laughing, and she, in his arms, looking up at him, a lovely, eager slave, would, lifting her lips and body again to his, have again addressed herself to her duties, those of his pleasure.
“Thank you, oh thank you, Master!” cried Brenda Hamilton. She reached out and took the rectangle of soft deerskin, about a foot wide, and some two feet long, beveled inward on each end. Both edges, and the beveled sides, were turned and sewn, and through the top edge, through perforations, was drawn, as though stitched through, a slender rawhide strap, serving as a belt. Delightedly she wrapped this simple skirt about her, and tied the ends of the strap belt, as she had seen the women do, over her left hip. Because of the inwardly beveled edges, her left leg was muchly revealed, and thrust provocatively from the skirt. Many of the younger women wore such garments. Flower, and Antelope, did. Cloud did not.
Brenda Hamilton, delighted, proud, walked and posed, and turned, before her hunter, her master.
He, she saw, was startled to see her thusly.
Then she walked before him as one of the women, as she had seen the women walk, displaying themselves in their walk to men.
She saw him grin widely.
He gestured her to him, and she ran, barefoot, to him..
He jerked on the knot at her left hip. It could not be immediately loosened.
“Tie this properly,” he said to her in the language of the Men.
“Yes, Master,” she said in English, shyly, well understanding him. Obediently she tied the knot in the fashion of the younger women. She lifted her lips to him, and kissed him. “You beast,” she whispered. Now, at a single tug, she could be stripped. “You make your slave feel very vulnerable, Master,” she whispered to him. She kissed him again, excited. Then she darted away, and turned to face him. She then, in her movements, well displayed her legs. They were marvelous. Tree regarded them as the best legs of any female in the camp, except perhaps those of Flower or Butter fly. “The slave thanks her master for her beautiful gown,” said Brenda Hamilton. She then, looking demurely down, her left index finger beneath her chin, holding with her right hand the deerskin from her right thigh, curtsied to him.
Tree had never seen such a movement. It made him laugh.
“Come here,” said he, in the language of the Men, gesturing to her.
Brenda Hamilton quickly sped to her master. She knew that he, like any powerful male brute of these times, must be obeyed swiftly and well by his females. Too, unaccountably perhaps, she found herself eager to be promptly obedient to him.
From his pouch he drew forth a long tangle of claws, shells and thongs.
He untangled it and held it out, up before his face, smiling.
It was an ornament, a necklace, of the sort that the females of the Men often wore about their neck.
Brenda Hamilton put forth her hand, but she did not touch it. “It is beautiful, Master,” she whispered.
“See,” said Tree, in the language of the Men, pointing to a small rectangle of leather, about an inch square, one of five, threaded into the thongs, with the claws and shells. Brenda Hamilton looked. On it she saw, drawn, scratched into the leather and pigmented in red, the sign of the Men. The same sign, identically, appeared on the other four rectangles. Tree turned her about and then, standing quite closely behind her, wrapped the necklace, in four loops, snugly, about her neck. He then tied it behind the back of her neck, tightly. She knew it identified her, by means of the rectangles, as a woman of the Men. She put back her head, to touch the hunter. She wondered if this sort of thing were the origin of the necklace, that it served in the beginning not simply as an ornament but as, in its way, an identifying slave collar. Tree turned her roughly about. Eagerly her lips met his, those of her master.
She felt his hand reach to her hip.
An hour later, in his arms, pushing back his hair at his neck, kissing him, Brenda Hamilton saw again the tiny, strange mark on his neck. She had seen this before. It intrigued her. It was a birthmark. It was like a tiny bluish stem, with branches reaching upward. It was from this mark that her hunter had had his name, “Tree.”
She kissed the tiny mark.
He smiled and pointed to the mark, and to himself. “I am Tree,” he said, in the language of the Men. “Tree.”
She kissed him beneath the chin. “I am Brenda,” she said. She kissed him again. “Your slave’s name is Brenda, Master, unless you wish to give her another name. Then the other name would be hers, and not Brenda.”
“Brenda?” he asked, picking the name from her words.
She knelt beside him, and pointed to herself. “I am Brenda,” she said. “Brenda.”
“Brenda,” he said. She smiled.
The word “Brenda,” of course, in the language of the Men, had no meaning. Tree, or Spear, or one of the other men, could eventually give her a name in the language of the Men. In the meantime the noise “Brenda” would do. It provided a means by which, when she was wished, the beautiful slave could be summoned.
Tree rose to his feet. He indicated that the beauty should clothe herself.
Hamilton wrapped the brief skirt about her and tied it over the left hip, tying it as she knew her master desired, that it might be loosened with a single pull.
She stood across from him, some eight feet from him, on the floor of the high cave. She was barefoot. She wore a brief skirt of tanned deerskin. She was bare-breasted. Her hair was long, loose and dark. About her neck, twisted and looped, four times, was a necklace of claws, shells and thongs, and, threaded among them, part of the necklace itself, the small squares of leather, bearing on them, clearly, the sign of the Men. Brenda Hamilton stood proudly, a primeval female, one of the women, facing a primeval man, one of the Men, one of her masters.
“Come, female,” said Tree, turning about and going to the ledge.
He grasped the knotted rope.
Brenda Hamilton came, too, to the ledge, and put her arms about his neck.
In an instant she was swinging, clinging to him, over a drop of more than one hundred and seventy-five feet. But she was not afraid. Quickly, seeming hardly impeded by her weight, he climbed up the knotted rope. He drew the rope up after him, freed it from a small, stunted tree, and looped it over his shoulder. Then, scrambling and climbing, moving from ledge to ledge, he gained the height of the cliff. To Hamilton the view was breathtaking, the sight of the fields and forests, and two rivers, extending to the horizon. Then, rapidly, she followed him.. He was moving across the top of the cliff, one of a series of such, and, then, making his way downwards, in a roundabout fashion. In some places steps had been chipped from the stone. In other places a branch of a small tree provided a handhold. Taken with care the descent was not dangerous.
Brenda Hamilton smelled meat cooking.
The slave, hungry, no longer fearful, delightedly, followed her master.
Tree, kneeling beside the roasted carcass, cut with the edge of his stone knife through the hot meat, fat streaking and bubbling at the edge of the flint blade, severing a huge, steaming chunk.
Antelope and Cloud knelt behind him. Then another woman thrust herself in front of. them, kneeling behind the hunter.
Cloud, with a cry of anger, seized Brenda Hamilton by the hair and pulled her back. Like a tigress, screaming with fury, Hamilton turned on her, striking her with her fists across the face. Cloud stumbled back, startled, scrambling, and Hamilton followed her, striking her twice again, and kicking her. Then Cloud whimpered, and fell back, astonishment in her eyes, and tears, and fear. Hamilton took a step toward her and, crying out, Cloud, on her hands and knees, scrambled away. Then, seeing Hamilton did not pursue her, she crept away, shrinking back, driven from the side of the hunter.
Hamilton felt the swift, hissing slash of a switch on her back, and turned, wildly, in fury, to see Antelope, her hand again raised. Hamilton’s back stung. But Antelope did not have time to strike again for Hamilton had leapt on her, and the two females rolled, screaming, scratching, biting, pulling hair, clawing, over and over, among the bodies, even to the edge of the fire. The men and women, and children, separated, to let the females fight. Then, panting, bleeding, hair awry, scratched, bitten the two females, now naked, rose to their feet and circled one another. Then with a scream of rage Hamilton leaped on Antelope, and had her hands, both hands, in the other’s hair. She jerked Antelope back and forth, and swung her about, while Antelope, screaming in pain, tried vainly to free Hamilton’s hands from her dark hair. And then Hamilton threw her by the hair to her feet on her back and seized up the switch, and began to lash at her, and Antelope rolled to her stomach, weeping, head twisted, Hamilton’s left hand still fastened in her hair, Antelope’s hands futilely on Hamilton’s wrist. Hamilton, with the switch, again and again, struck Antelope’s extended, exposed body, and then Antelope, weeping, struggled to her knees and put her head down, her hands over her head. Twenty more times Hamilton struck her and then, by the hair, she hurled her to her feet. Then Hamilton stood over Antelope, her hand no longer in her hair, but the switch raised.
Antelope shook her head, tears in her eyes, and held her hands out before her, to shield her from any blows which might fall.
“Please,” she cried in the language of the Men, “don’t hit me again.”
Hamilton lowered the switch.
Antelope, tears in her eyes, crept away.
Suddenly Hamilton saw Short Leg, first woman of Spear, leader of the women, facing her.
Short Leg put out her hand for the switch.
Hamilton, frightened, sought the eyes of Tree.
Hamilton put the switch into Short Leg’s hand and then Hamilton, naked and bleeding, knelt before Short Leg and, submissively, put her head to the ground, her hair in the dirt before Short Leg’s feet.
Short Leg turned away, and threw the switch into the darkness, and returned to her place behind Spear.
Suddenly the Men, looking upon Antelope, and Cloud and Hamilton, began to laugh, with the exception of Stone, who, too this time, once again, seemed amused. The women reddened and were much discomfited. It pleased the men to see the women fight. They looked so foolish. Hamilton and Antelope tied their brief skirts about their hips.
Then Hamilton knelt down behind Tree, smoothing her hair.
Runner said to Cloud. “Kneel behind me. I will feed you.”
Cloud went and knelt behind Runner. Runner had long had his eye on Cloud. He relished her short, thick body, her sturdy ankles. He found her juicy. He wanted to feel her hair on his manhood.
Antelope looked about from face to face. She seemed agonized.
“Lift your body to me,” said Wolf, “and I will feed you.”
Antelope lay before Wolf and lifted her body to him. He threw her a piece of meat.
“Come to my cave later,” he said.
“Yes, Wolf,” she said.
Behind Tree Brenda Hamilton knelt. She opened her mouth and pointed her finger to it. He held meat to her in his mouth and she, biting into it and holding it, tore free her portion.
The meat that the Men ate was always rare or almost rare. It was juicier that way, less crusted and burned. It was also, though they did not know this, more nutritious. Another thing that surprised Hamilton was the amount of fat eaten. The fat was very important, and she was hungry for it. She ate much of it. In her normal civilized diet fats had been available in dozens of sources, such as oils, milk, butter and cheese, but, among the Men these foods did not exist, and the essential need for fats must be, and was, satisfied by the fats of slain animals.
Hamilton also noted the Men, and their women and children, splitting bones, and scraping and sucking out the marrow.
Tree gave Hamilton a small piece of the animal’s liver. This, though she did not know it, was a rich source of vitamin A.
Then Tree began to cut other meat from the carcass, and to gorge himself upon it.
He paid the slave little more attention.
“You beast,” she said, “I am still hungry.”
After a time, smiling, Hamilton began to whimper, as she had heard the women doing sometimes.
The hunter turned to regard her.
She opened her mouth and pointed her finger to it.
He turned away.
“You beast,” said Hamilton. She really wanted more to eat. What did he want?
Then she lay on her back, and whimpered. He turned and regarded her. She lifted her body to him. “There, you beast,” she laughed.
She felt a piece of meat strike her body, and she took it and began, getting up and kneeling, to feed on it.
He grinned at her, and she, chewing on the meat, smiled at him.
“I am a prostitute,” she thought. “I, like the others, have lifted my body for a piece of meat.” It was quite good.
She saw his eyes. She knew he would make her pay him well later, for such meat, given to a female, was not without cost.
She was not unhappy. She was, rather, much pleased. She knew she would be made to enjoy paying for it.
Then the hunter turned about and, flint knife in hand, again fell on the meat.
Hamilton looked about. She saw the men eating, and the women and children. The firelight cast wild shadows on the cliffs, containing the shelters, looming above them. The trees, behind her, the beginning of the forest, were dark. The men squatted, or sat cross-legged chewing, their bodies large, their hair long, powerful, intelligent men, like animals. Their females, their properties, knelt behind them, chewing on meat given to them by the men, the masters. Here and there there wandered a dirty, naked child, holding a bit of bone or gristle. Several of them clung about the large, fearsomely ugly fellow, with the extended canine, and he gave them bits of food. The girl, Butterfly, had distributed the meat to the children, with the exception of what she kept for herself, which seemed considerable. The older boy, to whom she had been cruel, crouched to one side, watching the hunters. He seemed hungry. The girl did not share the meat with him. It was hers, as oldest of the children, to divide and give out, except for the very young children, who were fed separately. Butterfly wore a garment like a simple, brief dress of deerskin, which covered her breasts. Hamilton noted that her legs were trim and shapely. Hamilton also noted that Spear watched her. She had little doubt that the girl Butterfly would, by the spring, be told to bare her breasts and beg with the other women. She would no longer be a child. She would be then only another woman of the Men. Doubtless, then, a necklace, too, would be found for her, one bearing the insignia of the Men.
Hamilton studied the faces. She would learn later the names of Spear and Stone, and Wolf and Fox, and Arrow Maker, Runner, Knife, Tooth and Hyena. She already knew the name of Tree, though she knew only, of course, the sound in the language of the men, not what it meant. Too, she regarded Short Leg whom she feared, and Antelope and Cloud, and Nurse and Old Woman, and the others.
She was startled, and troubled, to see the face of Knife, as he regarded Spear. She saw in his eyes envy, and hatred. Yet, clearly, Knife was the son of Spear. Hamilton wondered at the hostility. Spear, she knew, was the leader. The younger man, Hamilton supposed, wanted to be first in the group. Her own hunter, Tree, seemed unconcerned with such matters.
Hamilton saw Flower behind Knife, distracting him by caresses.
Flower looked angrily at Hamilton.
Hamilton looked away. She did not want Knife. He frightened her.
On the outskirts of the group, little more than a hunched, kneeling shadow, Hamilton saw Ugly Girl, waiting for the feeding to end and the group to disband, that she might creep forward and poke through the ashes for scraps of meat or drops of grease on the half-burned wood. Hamilton shuddered. How horrid Ugly Girl was.
Ugly Girl was not of the women. Ugly Girl was not even human.
Hamilton finished the meat.
Soon the fire was built up and the group cleared a circle about it. The men drew to one side and the women to the other. The children remained behind the women. Hamilton knelt with the females. None of them gave the least sign of objection. She realized, suddenly, she was accepted as a female among them. They were all slaves, and she among them, but she now no more than they.
Runner brought out two sticks and be beat them together. Arrow Maker had carved a flute. Tooth had a small hide drum. The men began to sing, a repetitive song, in which responses were sung to something shouted by Tooth. The women did not sing words, but they uttered noises, carrying, too, the melody. They swayed together at times and clapped their hands rhythmically. Later, Fox leaped to his feet and danced, to the clapping of hands and the slapping of knees. Then Wolf, too, joined him. Together they joined in a narrative dance, in which Wolf played the role, apparently, of a large bear, or some such animal, which Fox, after much moving about, and swaying and stalking here and there, apparently managed to confront and slay, but, when Fox turned his back, Wolf, to the delight of the children, leaped up, roaring, and chased him from the circle.
“Put the new female before the fire,” said Spear.
Tree gestured that Brenda should stand before the group, in the open space, before the fire. She did so, erect and beautiful, a lovely, bare-breasted slave, in the necklace which proclaimed her as being a woman of the Men.
“What is her name?” asked Spear.
“She calls herself Brenda,” said Tree.
“That is not a name,” said Spear.
“True,” admitted Tree. It was surely not a word of meaning for the men. Thus, for them at least, it was not a name.
“Give her a name,” said Spear.
Tree rose to his feet and went to stand before Hamilton. She looked up into his eyes.
He then crouched down and, picking up a stick, drew a picture in the dirt.
It was the picture of an animal, as seen from above, a symbolic representation but clearly recognizable. Brenda looked down and saw the ovoid shell, the head and tiny tail, the four small legs sticking out at the sides of the shell.
Tree pointed to it. “It is a turtle,” said Hamilton, in English.
“Turtle,” said Tree, in the language of the Men.
“Turtle,” repeated Hamilton, this time in the language of the Men.
Tree pointed to her. “Turtle,” he said.
“No,” she said, “please.”
Tree again pointed to her. “Turtle,” he said.
Then he forced her to her knees, and gestured that she should kiss the sign he had drawn in the dirt.
She fell to her knees before it.
Tree grinned at her. The name Turtle, to the men, was not a demeaning name. In fact, to them, it was a rather attractive name. They regarded small turtles as pretty little beasts. Tree made a motion with his mouth. Hamilton understood. Turtles, too, were delicious. And then Tree, grinning, put his hands together, and flipped them over, and wiggled them. Hamilton looked down, reddening. The turtle, too, when placed on her back, is almost helpless.
“Turtle,” said Tree, pointing to her. Then be gestured that she should kiss the sign in the dirt.
Hamilton read his eyes, and put her head down, and kissed the sign.
She lifted her head.
“Tree,” said Tree, gesturing to himself. He looked at her. “Turtle,” said Hamilton, in the language of the Men, eyes down, referring to herself, touching her chest with her fingers.
It was thus that Brenda Hamilton was given the name Turtle among the Men.
Then she stood alone in the circle, a primeval female before her masters.
“How does she kick?” asked Spear.
“Splendidly,” said Tree.
“Good,” said Spear. Then he said, “Let the females dance for us. Then we shall retire.”
Tooth began to pound on his small hide drum; Runner began to beat his sticks together, and a melody, to the touch of Arrow Maker’s fingers, began to emerge from the long, narrow, wooden flute.
Flower was first to join Hamilton before the fire, and then Cloud and Antelope, and the younger women, and those not pregnant or nursing. Old Woman did not join them, nor did heavy Nurse. Short Leg, too, stayed kneeling to one side. Flower tore away her deerskin skirt and wrapped it about her left wrist. Hamilton, angrily, did so, too. And the others. Flower thrust her body toward Knife, and then, when he reached for her, leaped back. Hamilton, boldly, did the same with Tree. Antelope swayed before Wolf. Cloud, naked, moved slowly before Runner, who had fed her. And the women, to the drum, the beating of the sticks, the melody of the flute, danced before the men. The primeval female, Turtle, too, danced with them. She danced before all the men, but mostly before one, a lean, tall hunter, squatting, who watched her, with narrow eyes that caressed each swaying inch of her, with eyes that drove her wild with the desire to please him. For a time Hamilton, the primitive female, Turtle, one of the women of the Men, lost herself in the dance and music. She felt the dirt beneath her feet, and the movements of her body, the pounding of her breath and blood, the eyes of the men. To one side loomed the cliffs, containing the shelters, to the other loomed the dark forests, and, between them, in the light of the fire, uninhibited and organic, liberated in their sexuality, in this environment completely free to express the deepest and most profound needs of their female reality, danced the women. Hyena crept away from the fire. He was insane and sterile, and hated beauty. The men clapped and shouted. Never had Hamilton felt so female, so free. For the first time she felt she could move her body precisely as she wanted, and she did so. The agricultural revolution was, in its success, thousands of years in the future. With it would come concentrations of population, the seclusion and restrictions of women, human sacrifice, taxations, religions and laws, the victories of priesthoods and oppressive traditions, and the organization of fear and superstition for the purposes of profit; in thousands of years would come the time of the haters, the Hyenas. The time had not yet come when it would be wrong for women to dance and men to be pleased in their beauty. The seeds of Eve’s apple tree had not yet been planted.
But the agricultural revolution was essential for the development of technology, and the development of technology was essential for the opportunity to touch the stars.
No one knew how high might grow the branches of the apple tree.
No one guessed that men might return to paradise, and, once more, now ready, having once eaten, climb it.
Prometheus was tortured, but the Greek ships, carrying fire in copper bowls, colonized a world.
With a pounding Tooth’s drum was suddenly silent, and Runner stopped striking the sticks, and the flute of Arrow Maker was silent.
Flower dropped to the ground before Knife, eyes hot, breathing heavily, blood pounding, and lifted her body to him.
Hamilton, joyously and brazenly, excited, gasping, wild, her blood surging, her heart pounding, flung her body to the dirt before Tree, and lifted it, supplicating him for his touch. Cloud fell before Runner, and Antelope before Wolf.
Hamilton felt herself lifted easily in Tree’s arms. He was incredibly strong. She felt herself carried with incredible lightness. She put her arms about his neck, and kissed him.
Over her head she saw, bright and beautiful in the black, velvety night, the stars. “Turn their eyes to the stars,” had said Herjellsen. “Turn their eyes to the stars.”
She saw, too as she was carried, behind Tree, among the shadows, hunched and timid, round-shouldered, now creeping forward to the dying fire, to hunt for food, Ugly Girl.
She again kissed Tree.
He carried her to his cave.
Hamilton, the woman called Turtle, one of the women of the Men, returned to the shelters, through the snow, carrying bound in rawhide, on her left shoulder, a heavy load of wood, food for the cave fires.
She wore leggings and her feet were wrapped in hide, tied about her ankles and calves. She wore a tunic of deerskin, which fell to her knees, and, over that, a sleeveless, furred jacket, belted, which, too, fell to her knees. Her head was bare. Her hair was bound back with a string of rawhide and shells.
For five months Turtle had been a slave of the Men, and, in particular, of one called Tree. He had amused himself with others, as the whim took him, but there was no doubt that Turtle, dark-haired and lovely, was his favorite. The other males of the Men, too, often used Turtle, as it pleased them to do so, and she found many of them marvelous and strong, and it much pleased her, from time to time, to kick for them, and well. Sometimes, even when she had not wanted to kick, they had, as Tree had before them, given her no choice but to kick, and superbly. She was only a woman, and at their mercy. They would force her body, and then her will, by means of her body, to do what they wished, for they were men, and master. Spear, the leader, in particular, had been incredible. He was second in her opinion only to Tree. When he had left her she had lain on the hides, beaten with the weight and power of his thrusting, exhausted and stunned. She had then well understood how it was that such a man was the leader, and how it was that he could feed five of the vital, prehistoric females. But the heart of the lovely slave, Turtle, always, in its depth, lay only in the capture thongs of one hunter, and one hunter alone, he who had first taken her, he who had brought her slave to the camp of the Men, he who had first forced her, in a high, prison cave, to yield to him, to helplessly love him, Tree, of the Men.
She was, in a sense that the Men found hard to understand, Tree’s alone. Even when she screamed with joy in their arms, they knew they had forced only her yielding, and not her love. Only the arms of Tree, and his touch, had been strong enough to force that. Each night, after the ecstasy they had induced in her, she would creep to the side of Tree, whose cave she kept, whose skins she cleaned, at whose side she slept. And once, a week ago, Tree had not permitted Knife to use her. She had been frightened. They had almost fought. There was bad blood between the two men. She had wanted to give her body to Knife, that Tree not be endangered, but Tree, violently, had struck her and thrown her to one side of the cave. She had crouched there, terrified her mouth bleeding. Knife had drawn a stone knife. “Go!” had said Spear to Knife. Knife, angrily, had turned away. Flower had to run to him, to console him. Over his shoulder, angrily, she had looked back. “It is not the way of the Men,” said Spear to Tree, “to keep a woman to oneself.” “I do not want Knife to use her,” said Tree. “Strip,” had said Spear to frightened Turtle. She did so, immediately. “Watch,” had said Spear to Tree. Angrily Tree sat down, cross-legged. Then Spear had taken Turtle, and slowly, making her yield to him, whimpering, trying to restrain herself. At last she had writhed under him, bucking, crying out in misery. Spear remained a time with her, and then, not looking at Tree, he left her. Tears in her eyes Turtle lay on her side and held out her hand to Tree. He rose to his feet, turned away and left her. She wept. The next day Tree said to her. “Go to Knife. Strip yourself and lift your body to him.” “Yes, Tree,” had said Turtle, in the language of the Men, which she had, in the last months, learned to speak. She went to Knife and did as she was told. Mollified, Knife used her, swiftly, casually. Holding her clothing Turtle then returned to Tree. “I have done what you told me,” she said. Then she wept. “You area woman,” he said to her. “You are a woman of the Men. You belong to all of the Men. Do you understand that?” “Yes, Tree,” she had said.
“But most,” said Tree, grinning, “you belong to me!”
“Yes, Tree,” said Turtle, and ran to him. And he used her better than Spear, or Knife, or any of the others, better than they might have dreamed of using a woman.
When she lay in his arms, afterwards, she spoke to him in English, as it pleased her, though he did not know the tongue. “In my heart,” she whispered to him, “it is yours only whose slave I am, my master. I am your helpless, adoring slave. Do with me what you will. I love you, my master. I love you.”
Knife, satisfied, seldom used her thereafter, and when he did so, it was only as he might have used Antelope, or Cloud, or any of the other slaves.
Old Woman smiled to herself. “It is well the way of the Men has been kept,” she said. And then she remembered Drawer. Spear had killed him, when he had gone blind. Old Woman hated Spear, but she knew, as Knife did not, and many of the others did not, that he was a great and wise leader. There were few groups who had a man so great as huge, swift, ugly Spear to lead them.
Turtle, under the load of wood, trudged through the snow toward the shelters.
She was happy. This morning the hunters had taken meat. Tonight she would be well fed, and, after the dancing and singing, she would pay for her meat, lovingly, in Tree’s arms. How far away seemed her old world, with its pollutions, its hatreds, its madnesses. How simple and deep and beautiful, and now, clear and cold, seemed this fresh, virginal world in which she, a burden-bearing slave, returned to the shelters of her masters. The snow clung to the branches, and, in the distance, rearing up at the edge of the forest, she saw the cliffs. How marvelous they seemed, with their numerous, deep, caves.
Too, some of the caves held marvels.
Once, Old Woman, when the men were away hunting, had taken her, with a torch, deep into one of the caves. Women were forbidden to go into this cave but Old Woman did not care, and Hamilton bad followed her. In the light of the torches, Hamilton, in awe, had seen, drawn on the walls and ceiling, some places which must have been reached by a now-discarded scaffolding, paintings in reds and yellows, and browns, and blacks, of huge and beautiful animals. There were bison there, and running antelope, and the aurochs, and even the mighty mammoth. They were done with an expression, and a zest, and beauty and freedom, and joy, that was almost incomprehensible to her. Here and there, too, almost in caricature, compared to the animals, were sticklike figures of men, with bows and spears. Hamilton saw that all of the animals, within their bodies, projecting from them, bore the weapons of men. She supposed that hunting magic had been done here, sympathetic magic, but, too, with it, exceeding it, was the celebration of the vigor, the strength and beauty of the beasts which the Men loved and hunted. Hamilton had stood there, in the half darkness, suddenly seeing these shapes and colors spring into existence, under Old Woman’s lifted torch. It was almost as if they were alive, moving on the walls.
“Drawer made these,” said Old Woman, simply.
“How did you dare to come to this place?” asked Hamilton.
Old Woman smiled. “Drawer brought me,” she said. “He showed me.”
“Where is Drawer?” had asked Hamilton.
“Spear killed him,” said Old Woman. “He went blind. Spear killed him.”
Hamilton was silent.
“He was old,” said Old Woman. “He was not good for much.”
“But you cared for him,” said Hamilton. “You liked Drawer?”
“Yes,” said Old Woman. “I liked Drawer.”
Hamilton lifted her head, and looked about herself, at the paintings.
Animals had made tools, and manlike things, before men, had made tools. Tools needed not be a sign of man. But where there was art then, incontrovertibly, stood man. It is not in the making of tools, but in the invention of beauty, in the gratuitous invention of art, that we have unmistakable evidence of the first presence of man. In the creation of beauty something which might before not have been human became human, and unmistakably so.
“They are beautiful,” said Hamilton.
“Drawer made them,” said Old Woman. “We must go now.”
“What are these?” asked Hamilton. She indicated a number of hands, some outlined in color, some printed in color.
“I do not know,” said Old Woman. “It is a secret of the Men.”
Hamilton wondered about them, but did not ask further, for Old Woman apparently did not know.
“Look,” said Old Woman. She picked up a fiat, rounded stone from the floor of the cave.
Hamilton looked at it, carefully. It seemed at first, to her, only a maze of lines, unintelligible scratches. Then, suddenly, she saw, among the lines, a flowing, hulking torso of a bison. Following another set of lines, superimposed, she traced out a gazellelike creature, swift, horned; then she found the lineaments of the forequarters, head and paws of a cave lion; there were two other drawings as well; one of a deer and, to her delight, shaggy and tusked, that of a hairy mammoth.,
The rock had been a good one. The drawer had used it, she supposed, as a sketchbook. It contained pictures which might even have been studies for some of the paintings on the wall.
Old Woman took the rock. She put it back down on the floor of the cave. “It was Drawer’s rock,” she said. “He gave it to me when be went blind. I brought it here, to be with his other paintings.”
Then Old Woman, with the torch, turned about and led the way from the large room. She stopped at the threshold into the narrow passage which had led to the room. “I liked Drawer,” she said.
“Why have you shown me these things?” asked Hamilton.
“Tree is Drawer’s son,” said Old Woman. Then she turned about, and led the way from the room, Hamilton following behind her, following the pool of torchlight cast, moving, on the walls of the passage.
Turtle slightly shifted the weight of the wood on her left shoulder.
The snow was four inches deep. Her breath bung before her face. Under her tunic and jacket she perspired. In the caves, she would, like many of the other women, strip herself, or discard her clothing to the waist. In civilization Hamilton, in the winter, had liked closed rooms and considerable warmth. But, with the Men, she bad come to find overheating and closeness distasteful, and even extremely uncomfortable. Living outdoors had wrought changes in her body chemistry. Temperatures which she might once have found chilly, and which might once have made her miserable, she now found only refreshing, even zestful and stimulating. Her blood, because of the fresh air, was charged with oxygen. She had great vitality and energy. Too, she was aware, as she had never been before, of thousands of subtle gradations and fluctuations in air and temperature. She had become, for the first time in her life, fully alive to the world in which she lived.
Happily, she trudged ahead in the snow, carrying the wood.
Sometimes she found her happiness unaccountable, for was she not only a female slave, as the thongs tied about her neck proclaimed her, forced to labor, subject to the least wishes, and the switches and commands of masters? Yes, but somehow, however unaccountably, she was happy. Never had she been so happy in her life. She began to sing.
Today, this morning, the hunters had taken meat. She could, even from where she trudged through the snow, smell it cooking. Tonight, she knew, she would be well fed. She laughed delightedly. After the singing and dancing she would repay her master well for the meat which he might have deigned to throw her. She would, eagerly, give him fantastic pleasures. “After all,” said she to herself, “a girl must serve her master well.”
She shook her head happily, to hear the shells on the rawhide string that held-back her hair.
Then she, startled, tried to cry out.
The hand closed over her mouth. She felt herself pulled backwards.
Her hands were pulled behind her back. To her astonishment she felt steel close about them, and lock.
“Do not make noise,” said a voice, in English.
Hamilton was turned about, the hand still tightly over her mouth.
Her eyes widened.
“Do not cry out,” said the voice.
The hand was removed from her mouth.
“Gunther,” she whispered. “William!”
“Has Herjellsen sent you to bring me back?” asked Hamilton.
“You do not seem pleased to see us,” said William.
“No,” said Gunther.
“You are engaged in another phase of the experiments?” asked Hamilton.
“No,” said Gunther.
Hamilton looked at him, puzzled.
The two men wore boots, and heavy coats, and hats. They carried backpacks. Each, over his shoulder, carried a rifle. Gunther wore his Luger, holstered, at his side. William, too, wore a pistol.
“Tell her,” said William.
“Herjellsen has mastered the retrieval problem,” said Hamilton.
The men were silent.
Hamilton clenched her fists in the steel cuffs, confining her hands behind her back.
“Please free me, Gunther,” she said.
“Be quiet,” said Gunther.
Hamilton was silent. She had been well taught to obey men.
“Tell her,” said William.
“I see you have made contact with a human, or humanoid, group,” said Gunther.
“They are human,” said Hamilton.
“What is your status among them?” asked Gunther.
“That of other women,” said Hamilton.
“And what is that?” asked Gunther.
“Slave,” said Hamilton.
“Excellent,” said Gunther. “I like female slaves.”
“These men are dangerous,” said Hamilton.
Gunther slapped the holster at his right hip. “We do not fear savages,” he said.
“These men are hunters,” said Hamilton. “And sometime you must sleep.”
We come in peace,” smiled Gunther.
“You are strangers,” said Hamilton. “It will be best that you go away.”
Gunther then took her in his arms, and pressed his lips to hers.
When he released her, he looked at her, puzzled, not pleased.
Hamilton backed away from him a step, angry.
“Are you not pleased?” asked Gunther.
“You are a man,” she said, “and can do with me what you wish, of course.”
“Of course,” said Gunther.
“You must understand, however,” said she, “that I am not the same female who grovele