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For What She Had Done

She had to die.
This Omoo knew.
He also knew he could not kill her.
Not even try to kill her.
Those eyes. Would look at him. Not even try.
So, what to do?
There was one Ung. Who lived in a cave.
Beyond the hard mountain. A foul cave.
Far from the village.
Ung, who hunted with stones.
Who killed with his hands.
Who had killed two saber-tooths.
And one great bear, whose skin he now wore hanging from his hairy shoulders.
And Ung had killed men. Many men.
And, it was said, a woman.
Ung, who took the fresh meat left upon the flat rock for the Spirit of the Sky.
And the Spirit of the Sky would go hungry.
And bring pain and darkness to the village.
But none dare say words to Ung.
Who had killed two saber-tooths.
And one great bear. And men, many men.
And, it was said, a woman.
He went to Ung.
Yes, said Ung, I will kill her.
For what she has done, said Omoo.
For equal weight, said Ung, in bear meat or lizard skins.
She is a large woman, said Omoo.
Equal wait, said Ung. Now you must come and show her to me, that I may kill her.
I cannot, said Omoo.
Then how will I know her?
Her hair is long, said Omoo.
Her eyes burn like the pools of night.
Many have the long hair, said Ung.
Many have eyes like the pool of night.
She will be bathing, said Omoo.
Tomorrow, as the sun dies,
She will be bathing. Washing her long hair at the falling water.
Many women will be bathing, said Ung.
Many long-haired, night-eyed women.
How will I know it is she?
Omoo thought.
Ah, he said, she will be carrying flowers.
Bright hill flowers, that I shall gather and place in her hands, before she goes to bathe at the falling water.
Then you will know her.
Then you will kill her.
For equal weight, said Ung.
Yes, said Omoo, for equal weight.

And so was begun the custom
Of giving bouquets and corsages.


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