Page after page (after page after page) of contrived conversation between Don Marcelino Sautuola and his daughter Maria--""Yes, Papa. . . Please, Papa. . . Hurry, Papa. . . Papa, please""--precede the discovery by Maria of the bison painted on the roof of the Altamira cave: ""the first Stone Age paintings any living person has ever seen"" (says Papa). The date--""Remember. . . Maria""--November, 1879. Professor Villanova is impressed--and informative (""What's calcite,"" she asked. ""It's a transparent, milky substance that often forms in caves. Most of the time. . .""); King Alphonso comes on a tour of inspection; Professor Cartaillhac ""and a delegation of world-famous archaeologists"" spurn the discovery and cancel their visit. Papa dies in disgrace. But Maria, who never loses faith, lives to see Professor Cartaillhac eat his words (""What fools we've been!""). No living reader will last that long.