(The Saga of Caveman Hom, Episode 15)
Soon return Arca, Cheri and Fab to big cave. They not catch Fooella. They find track, but he clever, lay false trail. It make confuse, give plenty time for get away. Now maybe he too far for catch. We know he steal bow and arrow, so he dangerous. Maybe now he hide in high ground? They think it not wise pursue. If plenty hunter, maybe it different. But they only few.
‘Not few,’ say Mat. ‘It Arca and Cheri, also Fab. It two and one together.’
‘That make three!’ say Tix.
‘That right,’ say Mat. He give big grin. Tix smile back.
Me proud of daughter. She good at counting! So me smile too.
But rest of tribe ignore.
Garda finish cook food. Bivvi and Min put in coconut and take to Gel and Pevette. Then they stay for guard — who know? Maybe Fooella plan attack. Maybe he try rescue dying Pevette from clutches of evil women? We know he crazy. Nobody know what nonsense he try next.
Now tribe discuss what do. If Pevette right, men attack, but we not think they come soon. Maybe they ready now, but soon it snow. If not come now, we think they wait til spring. But nobody know future for sure. Tra crazy, and who know what lie Fooella tell? Maybe he say we murder Pevette! This make Tra angry. When man angry he always more stupid. So maybe he take big risk, make winter attack.
Then Nizzi say, ’It sound stupid, but maybe it clever — we not expect, so not ready. If surprise, attack more chance success.’
Ruti say, ‘That true. Maybe stupid and clever is same?’
This idea cause much discussion. Sometimes it better do stupid thing. Then it bad mistake try clever. This mean sometimes clever stupid, and stupid clever. But it not always — so how decide? Tribe think about this long time. Everybody scratch head, but it not solve puzzle. We still not know what do.
But then me have idea. It work if Tra stupid, or if he not! So maybe it clever and stupid same time, like Ruti say. Me not know. But me think it clever.
‘We need climb tree,’ me say, ‘for keep watch mountain pass.’
‘That obvious,’ say Nizzi.
‘Me know. But it more to idea. It no good only watch from tree. It true we have arrow, but if many men come, it not enough. Tribe need alarm.’
‘But when men hear alarm, they attack fast!’ say Nizzi. ‘They find lookout, they kill. What if tribe asleep? Then maybe we not hear. We not ready defend.’
‘Me think of that,’ me say. ‘That why we need quiet alarm.’
Nizzi laugh. ’If alarm quiet, how we hear?’
‘It hard explain idea,’ me say. ’Me not know it work. But me have picture in head. It take plenty twine and big stone. We tie twine to stone outside big cave, then climb tree. We find strong branch. Twine go over branch and back to ground. Then we take end of twine, we go far, find other tree. Again we climb, find branch. Again twine go over. We find other tree, do same. And again same, many times. In end twine stretch far, to tree of lookout. We pull twine tight, it lift stone. Then we ready. If trouble come, it no need shout — instead lookout cut twine. It far, but stone fall near. Tribe hear noise, we wake, we defend. Then men not hear alarm. They not expect defend. They think attack surprise, but they wrong. Now it surprise defend!’
Nizzi stare me. ‘That silly idea,’ she say. ’It never work.’
‘Maybe you not understand,’ me say.
‘What this? You say me stupid?’
‘Me not say—’
‘Urrgh!’ say Nizzi. She spit. ‘Me hear enough! You, Hom, always talking, always big idea! You think you clever. You think women stupid.’
‘What?’ me say. ‘That not true!’
‘Of course it true,’ say Nizzi. ‘Hom fall down mountain. It blunder, but he lucky — it save tribe! So now, everybody kiss arse. Hom puff up chest, talk big. Always men listen, men agree. But men never agree women, except Hom agree first. Hom always get own way. He just like Tra — he think he king! This tribe of women, but still it men in charge. It never change.’
‘Me not king,’ me say. ‘Me only Hom.’
‘You cunning,’ say Nizzi. ‘That why you not say it. You say, me Hom, me humble! Me loyal! Me good man! But everybody know truth. With you, everything is trick!’
Me shock. Me stare with open mouth. Me not know what say!
’This crazy,’ say Gai. ‘It only from imagination! Hom not make trick. He only speak idea. Hom clever. He have many idea.’
‘That right,’ say Fab. ‘Everybody know Hom save tribe. It only luck — that true. But why matter? If Nizzi not grateful, that sad. Maybe she bad woman.’
‘Look this!’ say Nizzi. ‘Me speak truth! Hom King of Men! Always men listen Hom. But if woman speak, they not hear. It same like fart lost in storm. If woman raise voice, what next? Men say she bad woman, want hit with stick!’
‘That nonsense!’ say Fem. ‘Me Chief here. Me always listen women. Me not allow hit with stick. But idea is idea. If man have idea, why not me listen man?’
‘Gah! You not understand,’ say Nizzi. ‘You Chief, but you young. You not know way of men. You naive. You need listen elders. We see what happen.’
‘Me listen elders,’ say Fem. ‘Me listen everyone. But idea is idea.’
‘Everybody know Fem want sex Hom! It cloud judgement.’
‘That enough!’ shout Fem. ‘Me Chief here! Me demand respect!’
‘What this?’ me say. ‘Everybody know me have wife! Me not want women fight!’ me say. ‘Me want stop.’
‘Oh?’ say Nizzi. ‘See again, King Hom! He always tell women what do.’
‘Me not king!’ me shout. ‘Me not!’
Then me storm off. Me leave cave. Shouting continue. Me go to forest. Me find small river, me sit. Me stare at water. Me sulk.