The Land that Time Forgot
Once a day I descend to the base of the cliff and hunt, and fill my stomach with water
from a clear cold spring. I have three gourds which I fill with water and take back to my
cave against the long nights. I have fashioned a spear and a bow and arrow, that I may
conserve my ammunition, which is running low. My clothes are worn to shreds.
Tomorrow I shall discard them for leopard-skins which I have tanned and sewn into a
garment strong and warm. It is cold up here. I have a fire burning and I sit bent over it
while I write; but I am safe here. No other living creature ventures to the chill summit of
the barrier cliffs. I am safe, and I am alone with my sorrows and my remembered joys--
but without hope. It is said that hope springs eternal in the human breast; but there is none
I am about done. Presently I shall fold these pages and push them into my thermos bottle.
I shall cork it and screw the cap tight, and then I shall hurl it as far out into the sea as my
strength will permit. The wind is off-shore; the tide is running out; perhaps it will be
carried into one of those numerous ocean-currents which sweep perpetually from pole to
pole and from continent to continent, to be deposited at last upon some inhabited shore. If
fate is kind and this does happen, then, for God's sake, come and get me!
It was a week ago that I wrote the preceding paragraph, which I thought would end the
written record of my life upon Caprona. I had paused to put a new point on my quill and
stir the crude ink (which I made by crushing a black variety of berry and mixing it with
water) before attaching my signature, when faintly from the valley far below came an
unmistakable sound which brought me to my feet, trembling with excitement, to peer
eagerly downward from my dizzy ledge. How full of meaning that sound was to me you
may guess when I tell you that it was the report of a firearm! For a moment my gaze
traversed the landscape beneath until it was caught and held by four figures near the base
of the cliff--a human figure held at bay by three hyaenodons, those ferocious and blood-
thirsty wild dogs of the Eocene. A fourth beast lay dead or dying near by.
I couldn't be sure, looking down from above as I was; but yet I trembled like a leaf in the
intuitive belief that it was Lys, and my judgment served to confirm my wild desire, for
whoever it was carried only a pistol, and thus had Lys been armed. The first wave of
sudden joy which surged through me was short-lived in the face of the swift-following
conviction that the one who fought below was already doomed. Luck and only luck it
must have been which had permitted that first shot to lay low one of the savage creatures,
for even such a heavy weapon as my pistol is entirely inadequate against even the lesser
carnivora of Caspak. In a moment the three would charge! A futile shot would but tend
more greatly to enrage the one it chanced to hit; and then the three would drag down the
little human figure and tear it to pieces.
And maybe it was Lys! My heart stood still at the thought, but mind and muscle
responded to the quick decision I was forced to make. There was but a single hope--a
single chance--and I took it. I raised my rifle to my shoulder and took careful aim. It was