Ungan's Decision

The two brothers stood beside their father Undoc in the tribe's council hut. Smoke from the central fire curled up and out through the hole in the conical roof. Unbac the youngest, wiped tears from his eyes. Unwec gave him a fierce look.

"It's the smoke," Unbac mumbled, blushing profusely.

He didn't want his brother to know how terrified he was to stand before the elders for the first time ever in the council hut. They had told their father everything as soon as they returned from the hunt. Undoc wanted to take the information to the elders, to decide what to do with it. He took the boys with him to explain everything they could remember about the hunt, and how they had acquired the spear. Undoc held it aloft so all of the elders could see it, then he nodded towards his two sons in encouragement.

As the oldest, Unwec stepped forward to tell the story exactly as he had told his father earlier. It was never a good idea to lie to his father - or the elders, for that matter. When he was finished, Undoc's father Ungan the tribal leader spoke up.

"Pass this strange weapon around Undoc, so all of us may see it."

Undoc did as he was ordered. Each elder held it, turning it around, feeling the sharp point. There were many comments and questions bandied about.

"The tip of this thing looks very much like the black splintered rock down by the shore."

"See how the sharp part is attached to the stick. Is it woven vines that bind it?"

"How was this weapon used? Did you see how it was done?"

"The fishermen use something like this to kill and clean fish, only they just use the sharpened stone - no stick."

"You say you took the meat from two others who killed it before you arrived. Did they not resist?"

"How big were these two others? Do you think they will come looking for you to get back their meat? Did you leave a trail behind you? Perhaps you put us all in danger!"

This last comment was made by one of the more cowardly of the elders. Indeed, he was afraid of his own shadow. Sudden murmurs of fear and speculation went round the fire. Ungan listened for several moments, then stepped forward, and raised his voice considerably in order to be heard.

"Silence! I have listened to each and every one of you, and I have decided what to do. Tomorrow morning at first light I will personally take this weapon to the fishermen and ask them to make more just like it. There are many young trees around the village with strong slender limbs. They might be useful as the stick part of it. My sons will join the fishermen to find and sharpen suitable pieces of black rock. There are thick clumps of long sea grass that the women can weave as bindings. Then the new weapons will be used to stab as many fish as they can. Unwec, Unbac and myself will take them in a woven covered basket to the people they robbed. We will ask their forgiveness, and offer the fish in exchange for the meat. Then we will ask them how to hunt meat with this weapon. The journey will begin as soon as the fish have been cleaned and wrapped in wet mint leaves to keep them fresh and flavourful. Unwec will lead the way, as he has the best sense of direction."

There was much discussion, and some mumbling, but no real  dissension in the ranks. Ungan had spoken, and they would do as they were told. The elders slowly stood up and filed out the door. The two young men were left to put out the fire.  

The End

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