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The Return of Tharn   By: (1908-1999)

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TRANSCRIBERS NOTE: This etext was produced from Amazing Stories October, November and December 1948. Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.



[Illustration: Maddened and in pain from the flames, the lion sprang over the burning stockade]

When Tharn set out to rescue his beloved Dylara, he did not dream the whole Cro Magnon world opposed him

Trakor, youthful member of the tribe of Gerdak, moved at a swinging trot along a winding game trail that led to the caves of his people. Through occasional rifts in the matted mazes of branches, leafs, creepers and vines of the semi tropical forest and jungle, rays of the late afternoon sun dappled the dusty elephant path under his naked feet.

His slim young body, clothed only by the pelt of Jalok, the panther, twisted about his loins, was bathed in perspiration, for both heat and humidity were intense here in the heart of primeval jungle. From time to time he transferred the flint tipped spear to his left hand while he rubbed dry the sweating palm of his right against his loin cloth; for a slippery spear shaft could mean the difference between life and death in a battle with some savage denizen of this untamed world.

Trakor was beginning to worry. There was less than an hour of daylight remaining and he was still a long way from home. The thought of spending even a small portion of a night alone in a territory that abounded in lions, panthers, leopards and the other fearsome creatures of forest and plain, sent shivers of dread coursing along his spine.

And there was no one but himself to blame for this predicament! A boy of seventeen had no business attempting a task that would have given an older, more experienced warrior pause. Only a fool, he told himself bitterly, would have gone forth alone to hunt without having first gained experience by many trips in the company of seasoned hunters, thus learning the habits of the wild creatures.

It was all Lanoa's fault! In the soft fragrance of midnight hair curling about the tanned oval of her lovely face, in the smoothly rounded perfection of her slender body, in the golden depths of her clear, glowing eyes, were the seeds of madness that had sent him forth on a fool's errand! Before coming under her spell he was content to spend his days learning from old Wokard the art of painting scenes of tribal life and the hunt on the walls of the caves of his people.

Not until he watched Lanoa's other suitors displaying the trophies of the hunt did young Trakor make his decision to lay aside his paints and venture out in search of game. For it was easy to see how greatly Lanoa was impressed by the boastful tales of the other young men.

But where they hunted in groups, for safety's sake, Trakor would go out alone after Neela, the zebra, or Bana, the deer. And when Lanoa saw him return to the caves of Gerdak with the carcass of Neela across his shoulders, his heavy spear trailing from a casual hand, then would she realize that of all the young men of the tribe it was Trakor who was best suited to be her mate!

Thus the stuff of dreams ... and how different the reality! Since early morning of this day he had wandered through the forest and across wide stretches of prairie, seeking any of the various species of succulent grass eaters that served as the principal fare of the Cro Magnons. And while he had caught sight of grazing herds on several occasions, his utter lack of experience in the art of stalking prevented him from coming anywhere near enough for a successful spear cast.

Now he was slinking back home empty handed to face the gibes of those he had thought to impress, while the light of day gradually waned and the dark shadows of the jungle grew heavier across his path.

But the boy's wounded pride began to trouble him less as the certainty that he must spend a night in the open became increasingly evident... Continue reading book >>

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