Misunderstood, A Story of the Stone Age by
P. G. Wodehouse
Of all the young bachelors in his tribe not one was more highly
esteemed than Ug, the son of Zug. He was one of the nicest young
prehistoric men that ever sprang seven feet into the air to avoid the
impulsive bite of a sabre-tooth tiger, or cheered the hearts of brave
elders searching for inter-tribal talent by his lightning sprints in
front of excitable mammoths. Everybody liked Ug, and it was a matter
of surprise to his friends that he had never married.
One bright day, however, they were interested to observe that he
had begun to exhibit all the symptoms. He brooded apart. Twice in
succession he refused a second help of pterodactyl at the tribal
luncheon table. And there were those who claimed to have come upon
him laboriously writing poetry on the walls of distant caves.
It should be understood that in those days only the most powerful
motive, such as a whole-hearted love, could drive a man to writing
poetry; for it was not the ridiculously simple task which it is to-
day. The alphabet had not yet been invented, and the only method by
which a young man could express himself was by carving or writing on
stone a series of pictures, each of which conveyed the sense of some
word or phrase. Thus, where the modern bard takes but a few seconds
to write, "You made me love you. I didn't want to do it. I didn't
want to do it", Ug, the son of Zug, had to sit up night after night
till he had carved three trees, a plesiosaurus, four kinds of fish, a
star-shaped rock, eleven different varieties of flowering shrub, and a
more or less lifelike representation of a mammoth surprised while
bathing. It is little wonder that the youth of the period, ever
impetuous, looked askance at this method of revealing their passion,
and preferred to give proof of their sincerity and fervour by waiting
for the lady of their affections behind a rock and stunning her with a
But the refined and sensitive nature of Ug, the son of Zug, shrank
from this brusque form of wooing. He was shy with women. To him
there was something a little coarse, almost ungentlemanly, in the
orthodox form of proposal; and he had made up his mind that, if ever
he should happen to fall in love, he would propose by ideograph.
It was shortly after he had come to this decision that, at a
boy-and- girl dance given by a popular hostess, he met the divinest
creature he had ever seen. Her name was Wug, the daughter of Glug;
and from the moment of their introduction he realised that she was
the one girl in the world for him. It only remained to compose the
Having steadied himself as far as possible by carving a few poems,
as described above, he addressed himself to the really important task
of the proposal.
It was extraordinarily difficult, for Ug had not had a very good
education. All he knew he had picked up in the give and take of
tribal life. For this reason he felt it would be better to keep the
thing short. But it was hard to condense all he felt into a brief
note. For a long time he thought in vain, then one night, as he
tossed sleeplessly on his bed of rocks, he came to a decision. He
would just ideograph, "Dear Wug, I love you. Yours faithfully, Ug.
P.S. R.S.V.P.", and leave it at that. So in the morning he got to
work, and by the end of the week the ideograph was completed. It
consisted of a rising sun, two cave-bears, a walrus, seventeen shin-
bones of the lesser rib-nosed baboon, a brontosaurus, three sand-eels,
and a pterodactyl devouring a mangold-worzel. It was an uncommonly
neat piece of work, he considered, for one who had never attended an
art-school. He was pleased with it. It would, he flattered himself,
be a queer sort of girl who could stand out against that. For the
first time for weeks he slept soundly and peacefully.
Next day his valet brought him with his morning beverage a piece of
flat rock. On it was carved a simple human thigh-bone. He uttered a
loud cry. She had rejected him. The parcel-post, an hour later,
brought him his own ideograph, returned without a word.
Ug's greatest friend in the tribe was Jug, son of Mug, a youth of
extra-ordinary tact and intelligence. To him Ug took his trouble.
Jug heard his story, and asked to see exactly what he had
"You must have expressed yourself badly", he said.
"On the contrary", replied Ug, with some pique, "my proposal was
brief, but it was a model of what that sort of proposal should be.
Here it is. Read it for yourself."
Jug read it. Then he looked at his friend, concerned.
"But, my dear old man, what on earth did you mean by saying she has
red hair and that you hate the sight of her?"
"What do you mean?"
"Why, this ichthyosaurus."
"That's not an ichthyosaurus. It's a brontosaurus."
"It's not a bit like a brontosaurus. And is rather like an
ichthyosaurus. Where you went wrong was in not taking a few simple
lessons in this sort of thing first."
"If you ask me", said Ug disgustedly, "this picture-writing is
silly rot. Tomorrow I start an Alphabet."
* * * * *
But on the morrow he was otherwise employed. He was standing,
concealed behind a rock, at the mouth of the cave of Wug, daughter of
Glug. There was a dreamy look in his eyes, and his fingers were
clasped like steel bands round the handle of one of the most business-
like clubs the Stone Age had ever seen. Orthodoxy had found another