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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 72.djvu/425

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421
OF THE SOIL OF THE EARTH

brain and its outposts that in the end he might know himself and all that went about him. Bit by bit bone and muscle, ligament and sinew, were pieced together—strange artifices to do the brain's bidding. The heart began as a throbbing pool of blood, the red current of which found its devious way to every nook and cranny of the rapidly growing form. Long before the possibility of air ever reaching into these depths of dawning life the lungs were fashioned, and the mouth and stomach were prophecies of the hunger to come.

Each particle of life matter that went into the building of this man was indelibly stamped with the impress of inheritance. He was fashioned after his kind. When he finally appeared among his people and as he grew into manhood the bronze color of his skin, the straight black hair, the dark iris, the long head with its high arched cheeks, betokened the stock from which he sprang. His ways and his speech were those of his ancestors. The more remote of these ancestors had come from a hyperborean land at a time far back in the dim, unrecorded lapse of millennia beyond the reach of tradition—a forgotten dream period like that before birth. These ancient men without doubt saw the mastodon in the flesh, as our cave-dwelling ancestors over the seas beheld the mammoth. Successive generations of them may have witnessed the floods of the melting ice-sheet and the changing features of lake and river basins. A later horde, within the period of tradition, crossed the River of Fish (Nameesi Sipu), fought and drove out an ancient people—the Alligewi—who dwelt in the forest land to the east of the great river and whose curious earthworks remain to this day, and finally reached the place at the rising of the sun, beyond the mountains (Alleghany), by the shores of the Great Lake of Saltwater. Such is the meager thread of this man's race history.

Through the lapse of time with its shifting scenes the never-ending drama of the generations of men goes on—birth, and the span of life, and death. One indestructible thread is woven into this tissue of humanity—the thread of inheritance that reaches back, like the strands of a cable, into abysmal depths. This subtle thread of inheritance that runs through the generations had made this man what he was and had cast him into his time and place. And the end of it all is an unknown grave, as it is with Homer and Caesar, and the innumerable host of men, small and great, that have ever lived.

In the waning light of a November afternoon I found the man where he had lain these two hundred years or more imbedded deep in the soil of the earth. The sockets in which the light of life once gleamed, the cavernous nares through which the smells of young April poured into the brain; the bony ear canals that once rang to the rhythm of the stream; the mouth place resonant with its strange speech—all plugged solid with the clay. The very bones themselves had taken on