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was a form of the evil eye. Gribardsun did not know what to do next. If he winked at the witch doctor,
for instance, to show him that his magic was stronger, then the witch doctor might logically decide to put
Gribardsun's eyes out.
What followed was unexpected but not unwelcome. In this tribe, virtue, that is, white magic, that is,
the tribe's own magic, triumphed over evil, that is, black magic, that is, the magic of another tribe.
But the magic must be put to the test, and so Gribardsun was taken outside where he and the big
man entered a small arena dug out of the snow. Silverstein was taken along. The big man stripped naked,
and Gribardsun's bonds were untied and his shorts removed. The adult males then crowded around the
walls of the snow pit, and juvenile males and some of the other women pressed in behind them.
The big man was about six-foot-five and broader-shouldered, heavier-legged, and thicker-armed
than Gribardsun. He had some fat but not enough to give the impression of obesity.
Gribardsun understood without being told that this was to be trial by combat. He wondered, briefly,
if this custom had actually arisen in this tribe and spread out from there. But he knew that it was doubtful
that one small group would have originated the custom. In any event, no one would ever know, since
study of this period was so restricted.
He hopped up and down and flexed his legs and arms and worked his fingers to restore his
circulation. His shivering, however, had stopped.
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The big man, smiling confidently, walked up to Gribardsun with his arms out and his hands open.
Silverstein, shivering in one corner of the arena, guarded by the juvenile expected Gribardsun to win.
Though the tribesman was bigger, Gribardsun knew all the philosophies and techniques of twenty-first
century schools of hand-to-hand fighting. He should be able to chop his opponent down with karate or
judo in short order.
But the Englishman at first made no attempt to use anything but brute strength. He grabbed the
tribesman's hands in his and waited. The big man, grinning, pushed against his smaller opponent.
Gribardsun dug his naked heels into the snow and pushed back. The two slipped back and forth and
then, suddenly, Gribardsun twisted the other man's hands, and the man dropped sideways onto the snow.
The man struck heavily. The spectators grunted, or said something like'Uhunga!'
His grin lost, the man got to his feet. Gribardsun seized his hands again and yanked downward and
inward, and when the man was near enough, brought up his knee and drove it against the chin beneath
the thick beard.
This time the man had great difficulty getting to his feet.
Gribardsun helped him up, grabbed him by the back of the neck and his thigh and lifted him above his
head. He turned around and around, slowly, smiling at the awed tribespeople, and then heaved the man,
who must have weighed at least 280 pounds, over their heads and against the edge of the arena. The man
struck it side-on, slid down, and lay at its bottom motionless.
The witch doctor advanced from the crowd, shaking his baton and muttering something rhythmic. He
brought the end of the baton under Gribardsun's nose, held it there, and then moved it from side to side.
Gribardsun suddenly grabbed the baton, tore it from the doctor's grasp, and sent it spinning far out
into the snow.
The doctor turned gray under the paint on his face and chest.
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The next step was up to the tribesmen. Silverstein hoped they would not try something simple and
logical, such as launching every spear they had against the two prisoners.
Nobody moved. Everybody stared at Gribardsun. He smiled and walked toward the exit of the
arena.
They gave way before him, and he took Silverstein's hand and led him back to the chief's lodge.
There they sat down by the fire. Gribardsun added wood to it despite a muttered protest from the old
woman who had not witnessed the combat outside.
The witch doctor and the chief entered. Gribardsun looked at the fire and ignored them. The doctor
danced around the fire, passing behind Gribardsun and shaking his baton, which he had rescued, over the
Englishman's head. He went around the fire widdershins twelve times and stopped on the other side of [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]