The Project Gutenberg eBook of Og—Son of Fire

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Title: Og—Son of Fire

Author: Irving Crump

Illustrator: Charles Livingston Bull

Release date: December 31, 2019 [eBook #61061]

Language: English

Credits: Produced by The Online Distributed Proofreading Team at (This file was produced from images
generously made available by The Internet Archive)



Beside him, shivering and whimpering, were two wolf cubs




Editor, Boys’ Life, The Boy Scouts’ Magazine



Copyright, 1921, 1922

Printed in U. S. A.


I The Call of Cooked Meat 1
II The Fire Demon 10
III The Crack in the Earth 19
IV The First Camp Fire 31
V In Which the Wolf Becomes Dog 41
VI At Bay With the Wolf Pack 55
VII A Captive of the Tree People 61
VIII Scar Face the Terrible 74
IX Sacrificed to Sabre Tooth 86
X In the Dark of the Night 97
XI Fire 106
XII Stolen Flames 115
XIII The Wrath of the Fire Monster 126
XIV The Python’s Coils 136
XV Smothering Darkness 146
XVI Wab is Cared For 156
XVII The Fire Lighter 161
XVIII Gog’s Treachery 177
XIX Gog Passes On 190


Beside him, shivering and whimpering, were two wolf cubs Frontispiece
Og squatted down close at hand and watched them 48
The pack stopped. Og and his fire arrested them 56
Og beheld in the lower branches three big forms 64
The great creature carried him as easily as Og would have carried a young goat 76
It was trying to trace the direction of an odor 94
The boulder, with a crunching noise, came out of its insecure resting place 100
Then he proceeded with his skinning, while the wolf cubs looked silently on 102
Great bats, almost as big as Og himself 138
The huge serpent raised its head and shining neck aloft and glared about the cavern 142




The earth rocked. The sky was of purple blackness. The nauseating stench of burning sulphur filled the air. Thunder rumbled, and growled constantly under the earth crust to be answered by shattering crashes that seemed to come from the heavens, and with each terrific impact a mountain vaguely outlined in the distance trembled and shook and huge fissures opened down its side from which bubbled out great clots of lurid red molten lava, the light of which reflected on the billowing clouds of thick yellow smoke vomiting from the crater. Off through the night like giant reptiles of fire these streams of lava flowed, crawling slowly down the mountain side, sliding around great bowlders, or pausing a moment to fill huge cracks in the earth’s crust before proceeding on their serpentine way into[2] the valley, where a veritable molten lake of lava was slowly forming. A great volcano after a lifetime of slumber had awakened.

Cowering, wild-eyed with fear, under the sheltering overhang of a rugged cliff on a hillside far beyond the valley that was slowly filling with lava, was a boy,—the sole human witness to this terrible cataclysmic disturbance. Beside him shivering and whimpering were two hairy, dog-like creatures, wolf-dog cubs, who, like the boy, had sought the shelter of this massive rock hoping that here they would in some way find a measure of protection in the face of this horrible disaster. The boy was the only survivor of a colony of cliff dwelling humans who had lived in the caves near by, but who had fled the section in panic when the Fire Demon in the mountain had begun to blast the earth by letting loose his fiery serpents from the mountain. The wolf-dog cubs were all that were left of a pack of gray-black hunters caught in the valley with the first outburst of the eruption, and unable to gain the hillside where the cubs had been left by their wary mother.

For the space of two suns and two starlights they had crouched there. The boy guessed it was that long. They had seen neither sun nor stars.[3] Night and day had been the same under that curling yellow smoke pall. Perhaps the Fire Demon had put out both the sun and the stars and they would never shine again. The boy did not know. He did know that he was tired and that he had missed many sleeps. Despite his fear, which still gripped him, his eyes would close and his head would fall forward even though he fought to keep awake. If he had to die he wanted to see death come. He did not want it to stalk upon him while he slept. But despite his overwhelming fear, and his will power, which was strong for one of his kind, sleep mastered him and finally in the face of this tornado of smoke and fire that seemed to threaten destruction to the very earth itself, his head dropped forward, his eyes closed and he slept the dull, heavy sleep of utter physical exhaustion.

He slept in a very strange manner. He did not lie down flat as human beings do to-day, nor did he curl up on his side as did the wolf cubs. Instead he slept sitting on his haunches, his body drawn in and his drooping though muscular shoulders hunched over his knees. His head had dropped forward between his knees and his big, long-fingered hands were clasped across the back[4] of his neck. Why he slept thus he did not know. It seemed to him the most natural and most comfortable position. He could not understand that he was obeying the protective instincts of Nature; that his big hands were clasped about the back of his neck to protect the arteries and nerve centers there, and that the long hair on the back of his hands and forearms and upper arms grew in a manner that made all hairs point downward when his arms were in this position, thus shedding rain or moisture. It would require a long stretch of the imagination to connect this being with the humans of to-day, 500,000 years removed. His legs were short, being but a few inches longer than his very long and very strong arms. His head was set on a pair of sloping shoulders, massive for one of his short stature, and his neck was thick and corded with muscles. His ears were small and he had perfect control over them, for this hairy boy had very acute senses. His nose he controlled the same way, his nostrils dilating or contracting to gather in new odors, or shut out those that were strong and offensive to his delicate sense of smell. His mouth was strong and well armed with short, strong teeth. His jaw was broad and massive; a trifle too large for his[5] head it seemed. His eyes were brown and set far apart under almost shaggy, bushing brows, and his forehead was broad and high for one of his race.

For hours this primitive boy slept, and although his quick ears and sensitive nose gathered in every new sound and odor, they failed to register on the dulled brain, so great was his exhaustion. Likewise the two wolf-dog cubs, snuggled close to his hairy hips for warmth, slept, for they, too, were worn out beyond the point where they could control their physical selves. And as they slept the clash of the elements grew less violent. The thunder claps and rumblings beneath the earth’s surface became less frequent and gradually ceased entirely, the sulphuric yellow smoke pall thinned out enough to let the sun, a huge round ball of fire it seemed through the thick yellow mist, shine dimly. The volcano now threw out great plumes of white steam. The lava ceased to bubble over the sides of the crater, and the lurid red streams that coursed down its sides began to lose their color and likewise their motion. They were cooling into solid masses.

It was hunger that finally awoke the hairy boy. For many days and nights he had been without[6] food. The first day of his refuge under the overhanging cliff he was secretly glad to find the wolf cubs there. They insured him against starvation. But during the wild hours that followed he thought very little of his stomach. Only once did he realize that he was hungry, but when he faced the situation of killing one of the cubs he hesitated. Not through any sense of honor, or because of any sentiment, for as yet he possessed very little of either. He hesitated at killing either of them for the simple reason that alive they afforded companionship. Dead and eaten he would be alone and he feared to be alone in the face of this overpowering disaster that seemed to threaten him.

Awakening, however, and noting with a sense of relief that the disturbance was over and that the volcano was slowly settling back to normal, his fear began to leave him and he began to pay more attention to the hunger pangs that assailed his gaunt stomach. He looked down at the wolf cubs, still sleeping, huddled close to his side; then lest they awaken, because his eyes were on them, as he knew they would, he reached out swiftly with two hairy hands and grabbed the cubs by the nape[7] of the neck. They awoke with frightened yelps and forthwith began kicking and snapping.

The hairy boy lifted them into the air and watched them struggle while just the ghost of a grim smile puckered the corners of his mouth and eyes. He needed but to close the grip of his strong fingers on their throats and in a few minutes they would be choked to death. Then he would tear the hide from their bodies with the aid of his teeth and a sharp stone or two, and his meal would be ready. Many times before had he gnawed the flesh of wolf cubs from the bone, and while he did not like it as well as he did the flesh of the wild horse, or the great moose, or bison, that had been the meat of his people, he knew that it would taste wonderful under the circumstances.

But while he sat there holding the squalling, kicking cubs at arm’s length his attention was suddenly arrested by an odor that was almost overpowering in its appeal. Instead of the acrid stinging smell of the sulphur smoke there came to him an odor that was laden with the meat scent, yet it was so subtly different, so irresistible, that his mouth began to drool water from the corners, while his eyes grew big and round. Transfixed he slowly dropped the wolf cubs to the stone[8] ledge, although he kept restraining fingers wound in the hair of their necks. He did not mean to lose a possible meal by letting them get away but he did not want to eat them if he could possibly find the origin of this delightful hunger smell. For a long time he sat there under the cliff, his nostrils working furiously to catch every subtler scent of this enticing odor. His ears were cocked forward as if he hoped that they too might help him locate the source of this wonderful food smell.

As for the wolf-dog cubs, they were famished too, and the odor was just as overpowering to them. Their feet once more on the ground, they paid small heed to the restraining fingers about their necks. Their black noses were pointed up the wind and they were sniffing eagerly and whining too and saliva was dripping from their mouths.

Although none of the three knew it, they were for the first time smelling roasted meat. Somewhere down there in the valley animals had been trapped in the lava, killed and cooked, but since no one of the hairy boy’s tribe had ever mastered fire he did not know what cooked meat really was. He did know, however, as he sat there on the ledge, that never in his life had he smelled anything[9] that made him so hungry as this odor did; indeed it was so overpowering that it presently made him forget the wolf cubs, the danger of the Fire Demon in the volcano, the fear that was always constant in his people of going very far from the cave or sheltering rock save in packs or droves, and everything else, and almost before he knew what he was about he began to climb from the shelf or rock under the cliff and make his way down the hillside into the steam filled valley of the hot lava, a place where he never in the world would have had the courage or temerity to venture were it not for that intoxicating odor that grew stronger and stronger into his nostrils as he descended the hillside.



The hairy boy followed the wolf cubs. These half famished animals, once released, were even quicker than he was in scrambling off of the ledge and down the hillside. The boy watched them go and followed after them at a remarkably swift pace considering his short legs. He walked stooped over as if his massive shoulders and head were too heavy for his stocky legs to carry, and when he scrambled over rocks he occasionally stooped very low and used his long arms as forelegs, resting the weight of his body on clenched hands, the knuckles of which were used as the soles of his forefeet. But this was only occasionally. He preferred to walk on two feet, although it did seem to be an effort. He did not know, of course, that he was only a few thousand years removed from ancestors who walked on four feet and lived in trees and that his group of hairy men were only just learning, comparatively speaking, to stand erect.


As he shambled down the hill other sensations besides that of hunger began to manifest themselves. He realized that he was approaching the domains of the Fire Demon. The atmosphere grew warmer, which troubled him a little. Then as he got further down the hillside he found clouds of white steam swirling about on the wind. These struck fear to his heart. Smoke or steam were agents of the Fire Demon and to be avoided. He paused in his hurry and wondered whether it was safe to go further. But still the intoxicating odor assailed him and urged him on. He crouched beside a big rock and watched with eager eyes the progress of the wolf cubs who were making their way through the steamy mist with caution. Yet they kept on, and the hairy boy seeing that nothing had yet happened to them screwed up his courage and followed after them, always watchful and alert.

The fog grew thicker. Ahead he seemed to hear a soft hissing sound. There was an occasional subterranean rumble too. This made cold chills race up and down his spine and the hair between his shoulders began to bristle, a sign that fear was making him ready for fight. He stopped now and crouched irresolutely beside a stone for[12] a long time, so long that the wolf cubs became lost to him in the mist. He debated in his slow brain whether he should go on or turn back. Thinking was a hard process for him. It took him a long time to come to a decision. Presently, however, he found himself reasoning thus: he was hungry, near to starving; he was foodless now because the wolf cubs were gone, but they had gone on into the mist and until he had lost sight of them nothing had happened to them. If nothing had happened to them perhaps it was safe for him to go on,—then too that enchanting odor was strong, very strong. That in the end mastered his fears and he pushed on.

Deeper and deeper into that mysterious and awesome steam blanket he penetrated, his courage screwed up to its highest notch. He felt he was very brave; indeed he knew he was most brave for he knew that none of the other hairy people would dare venture so far into the domains of the terrible Fire Demon. But then he had the example of the wolf-dog cubs, his terrific hunger and that overpowering odor to carry him on. Presently he discovered that the ground was quite warm even to his feet that had protective pads of callous skin nearly an inch thick. Some of the rocks were[13] hot. He stepped on one, and with a grunt of surprise jumped aside. Had one of the Fire Demon’s evil spirits bitten him! That burn took a great deal of courage out of him and it was some time before he could force himself to go on. When he did start forward he avoided every stone and trod the ground with care.

Suddenly through the mist he heard a sharp yelp. It was one of the wolf-dog cubs. The hairy boy knew their language. This was the yelp of one cub driving the other away from something to eat. The boy rushed forward determined that if there was food to be had he wanted it before the cubs devoured it. A moment later he saw a body prone on the ground. One of the wolf cubs was standing on it and tearing great strips of flesh from it which it devoured with great gusto. But there were other forms on the ground. The hairy boy saw them everywhere. A band of horses had been caught in the valley by the eruption of the volcano and killed by the terrific heat. They were little horses with thin legs that ended in three toed feet.

With a cry of joy the all but famished boy hurried forward for he recognized in the dead horses a treat that rarely fell to the hairy people. It was[14] only by means of the greatest skill in hunting and the concerted effort of the whole colony that one of these horses, veritable antelopes, was ever killed or captured, and when this happened the whole colony had a feast for the flesh was the most desirable meat attainable then.

But when the boy reached the nearest of the band of dead horses he stopped and fear showed in his eyes. The horse was dead, smitten by the hand of the Fire Demon. Its flesh and hide looked far different from that of any horse he had ever seen. Something had happened. But whatever that something was the hairy boy knew it was also responsible for that delectable odor that he had trailed down the hillside. He could not understand that the horse, in fact all of the horses of the band, for there were several hundred scattered about, had been killed by the intense heat of the lava and roasted to a turn.

He circled the first horse suspiciously and looked it over thoroughly. It was the one on the top of which the wolf-dog cub was standing and tearing away luscious morsels. The boy watched the cub. It ate and ate like a veritable glutton, yet nothing strange or out of the ordinary seemed to happen to it. The feast of the cub and the odor[15] of roasted horse were too much for him. He approached the carcass and reached over to where the cub was feasting. The cub growled and snarled at him. This made the hairy boy angry and he cuffed it so hard that he knocked it to the ground. Then he tore off a strip of flesh that the cub had been chewing at and tasted it.

Never in all his life had anything passed his lips that gave him greater pleasure. Horse meat had always seemed wonderful but this horse meat upon which the hand of the Fire Demon had been laid was beyond anything he had ever tasted. Fear, superstition and all else were dominated by his overpowering hunger and he crouched beside the cooked horse and glutted himself; indeed even when his paunch was distended so that his hairy skin was tight, he still pulled off shreds of meat and chewed on them. And as he sat there he felt very comfortable and very happy despite the fact that steam clouds swirled about him. At this he wondered and as he wondered his primitive brain began to reason.

It was a long slow process then and very hard. Sometimes when his reasoning got too deep or too complex he found his thoughts wandering and it was always with an effort that he brought his[16] mind back to the problem of why he was so comfortable. In doing this the hairy boy was perhaps the first of us humans to mentally discipline himself and solve a problem. There were only a few thinkers among the hairy people and their thoughts did not go beyond the making of a stone hammer. They could not even think to the point of providing clothing to help keep themselves warm.

But gradually the hairy boy worked it out. Heat was the reason for his comfortable feeling. The atmosphere was delightfully warm, the ground was warm; so wonderfully warm that he stretched himself at full length upon it. The food he had eaten was warm. Assuredly heat was the reason. The only warmth he had ever known was the warmth of the sun, but never had he been able to get as close to real warmth as here. And only occasionally of late years was the sun so warm as the old men of the colony said it used to be, while the cold had gone on year after year being more bitter until the hair of the hairy folk grew thicker and thicker. The boy did not know that a great change was in process; that the earth’s axis had swung slowly out of position and that year after year the great ice caps about the poles were[17] edging their way toward the equator and that centuries later great glaciers would cover the land miles deep with ice. Neither did he know that the volcanic eruption he had witnessed was a forerunner of this great change.

He did know though that the nights were very cold and that the days were not the tropical days the old and weazened hairy men told about and as he lay there prone on the warm earth struggling with this new found power of reason, he wondered after all whether the Fire Demon was the fearsome thing the hairy people believed it to be. Here was good that it gave him: the good of warm food, warm air, warm ground to put his back against—yet, and he realized it with a shudder, here were these hundreds of dead horses on which he and the wolf-dog cubs had feasted, mute testimony of the wrath of the Fire Demon. Why was it that one who possessed so much good could be so fearful? Why was it—but here the problem became too perplexing for even the hairy boy and, being full of stomach and warm of body, he fell asleep, probably the first human being to sleep prone and lying on his back.

And as he slept the wolf cubs, seeing strange shapes in the swirling steam clouds, and hearing[18] strange guttural sounds as of huge animals eating, searched him out and crept closer to him. They were frightened at these menacing apparitions, and being motherless they looked to the hairy boy for protection, for somehow they felt that it was his presence that had kept them safe from harm up there on the hillside under the cliff.



It seemed strange to the hairy boy that he should awaken with the same thoughts in his brain that he had gone to sleep with. Why did they persist? He could not understand, yet his brain still turned over the problem of why the Fire Demon, who could give so much that was good, could also destroy hundreds of horses, the fleetest and wariest of the animals he knew. He could not answer the question but as he pondered it he began to understand that if all the good of warmth could be had from the Fire Demon perhaps it would be possible to make friends with him and not fall a victim to his wrath. The hairy boy did not know just how this could be done but his interest was stirred beyond anything heretofore.

He got up, and although still bloated with food, he could not resist tearing off a strip or two more of the roasted horse, then munching on one of[20] these he began wandering through the swirling steam, the wolf cubs following him.

Presently he found himself walking through a layer of black ash that was still warm and felt very comfortable to his feet. He knew as he recalled the valley before the eruption that this had been a huge forest. The heat from the hot lava lake somewhere down there in the bottom of the valley had fired this and burned it to cinders. Only an occasional rampike, charred and gaunt and weird looking in the blowing steam, told of the forest that grew there before. The hairy boy looked at these mute monuments to the wrath of the Fire Demon with a mingled feeling of awe and wonder. To see these tree giants charred and blackened, their twisted limbs shorn from them and scattered half burned on the ground, revived to a certain extent the fear that he had had. He stood and stared at the charred mass a long time before going on, and then not until he had broken himself a stout knotted club from one of the fire hardened rampikes, as if to provide himself with some sort of a weapon with which to face the mysterious danger of the Fire Demon.

Yet, despite his fear and trepidation, the hairy boy was enough a master of his will power to[21] force himself into exploring the valley further. Deeper he pushed his way through the misty, swirling steam, realizing the while that the air and the earth were growing hotter. From this he understood that he was approaching what had appeared to him from the hilltop to be a red hot lake where the lava had gathered in the valley bottom.

The steam grew thicker and hotter and ahead of him and on either hand he heard peculiar hissing noises, that agitated him a great deal, for he could not know that it was the hot lava cooling off by its contact with the cold and moist earth. He went on but he went with great stealth and caution, always peering through the steam with club raised as if expecting at any moment to come face to face with the Demon that made the fire.

Suddenly the hissing grew more intense and the air very much hotter. At the same time loomed through the steam a vast stretch of smooth, black, polished rock that took queer forms as if it were so much soft dough that had been poured over the ground and allowed to harden. All about its edges, where it came into contact with the ground, jets of steam were spurting out, each hissing and curling like huge evanescent reptiles. The hairy boy[22] gasped and drew back. Then he stopped and stood staring, club upraised. He was alert and ready for danger, but he was frankly curious too. He could not understand why this black rock that never had been in the valley before could give out such intense heat and cause the snaky spouts of steam that hissed so ominously and lingered in the air like a swamp fog. He crouched on his haunches and stared for a long, long time while the wolf-dog cubs, crowding close to him, looked at the black rock curiously while their tongues lolled because of the intense heat.

Finally the hairy boy got to his feet. His curiosity was mastering his fear and suspicion. He began to approach the edge of the hot lava bed very cautiously. As he advanced the heat grew more intense until his hairy coat dripped perspiration and water from the condensing steam. Closer and closer he moved until he was almost within touching distance of a big black globule of the cooling lava that was detached from the main mass. Then he reached out with the stick he still carried and tapped it curiously.

A strange thing happened. Each time the stick came into contact with the hot rock a wisp of blue smoke went up as the heat scorched the wood.[23] This was puzzling to the hairy boy. Why did this happen? He tapped and tapped again; then he examined the scorched end of the stick and felt of it. It was very hot. It burned him. He grunted and pulled his hand away. Then he sat and thought for a long time until his slow brain reasoned that the rock burned the stick, and the heat that the stick carried from the rock burned his hand. The stick carried the heat from the rock for a little while; then the heat mysteriously disappeared.

Still he sat and thought and slowly a question took shape in his mind. If the stick carried the heat for a little while just by tapping on the rock, why wouldn’t it carry heat for a long while if he held the stick onto the rock a long time? Perhaps it would, then that would be a way of taking with him the good of the Fire Demon and leaving behind the bad. He wanted the heat the Fire Demon could give but he wanted to leave behind the power it had to kill and destroy.

He decided to try an experiment. He reached forth and held the stick against the rock. Slowly the blue smoke appeared. It grew and grew in quantity; then suddenly a tiny red flame began to[24] lick at the end of the stick, for the lava had set the pitchy knot on fire.

When the hairy boy saw the flame he grunted in terror, dropped the stick and leaped backward in fear. Of course, the tiny flame went out. The boy sat and watched the stick for a long time, and his brain was so busy that his round head positively hurt. What were these sinister red and orange things that had licked at the end of the stick? Were they the fingers of the Fire Monster? If they were, why had they not held the stick and consumed it?

He picked up the stick and tried the experiment again. Once more the flames appeared, but went out when the stick was dropped. Again he tried, but this time he held the stick longer. While he held it he found that the flames waxed stronger and grew bigger. He studied them curiously, holding the stick at arm’s length, and, while he watched, he wondered whether, after all, these flames were not the beneficial thing that the Fire Monster had to give him. They were hot. He could carry them by carrying the stick away. Yet he could kill them by merely dropping the stick or tapping it on the ground. He tried it again and again, and each time he lit the stick and put[25] it out he sensed a feeling of elation within him. He felt as if he were doing a masterly thing. He could awaken or conquer the Fire Monster at will. It was wonderful; almost a triumph. The hairy boy felt as proud as he had the day he had leaped out from behind a rock and slain his first wild goat with a stone hammer that he had borrowed from his father’s cave.

He was so elated by the knowledge that he was master of the fire that he began to dance up and down in a peculiarly weird sort of a way and drum on his chest with his fists, chanting the while, “Og, og, og, og, og,” which to him meant “I am a great man now; no longer a boy. I am the conqueror; Og, the conqueror.” And thus it was that he gave himself a name, after the manner of the hairy folk. Og he was to be thenceforth, for he felt that he had won this name, for among the hairy men only the people who had achieved something notable were entitled to a name.

After that for almost an hour he amused himself by lighting and putting out the stick and slowly a sense of self-confidence grew within him, and he no longer had the awe and fear of the Fire Demon. Indeed he held the burning end of the stick quite close to him, watched the flames curiously,[26] felt their heat, broke off slivers from the other end of the club, lit them and knocked them out. Once he breathed hard upon one of these splinters and it went out. Here was a discovery, indeed. With his very breath he could kill the Fire Demon. He blew hard upon the flames that curled about the pitchy knots of his club to prove it and they went out too. After that he lost all fear of the Fire Monster. Anything so weak that he could conquer it with his breath was not at all to be feared.

He held the stick to the lava to light it again, his mind intent on what he was doing; indeed he had been so fascinated with his experiments that he had forgotten everything, even the wolf-dog cubs. He had not noticed how the hair on the back of their necks bristled or how they cowered with tails between their legs while they looked furtively into the swirling steam behind them. In truth, the first that he realized that anything was amiss was when both cubs with a frightened snarl tried to crowd between his legs for protection. At the same moment a snort sounded behind him, followed by a strident trumpeting.

Og, flaming stick in hand, jumped up with a start to behold but vaguely through the steam a[27] massive hairy and tusked head with upraised trunk and sinister little eyes, looming above him. Og knew only too well what it was and his heart all but stopped when he saw the evil thing. His people called it The Mountain That Walked, the great shaggy haired mammoth. They were so big and so strong and so fearless that even Sabre Tooth, the great cave tiger, slunk from them.

For one horror-fraught second the hairy boy stared at the terrible, massive head and trunk that waved slowly back and forth above him. He knew the great beast had marked him as an enemy. He knew that the curled trunk would strike swiftly and surely, that the great coils would close about him and that with one powerful toss he would be hurled skyward to fall and be trampled under the heavy feet of the ponderous beast. It was a terrible death to face and Og shrank back and shuddered as he watched the great trunk. He was so frightened he was no longer master of himself. It was as if the wicked little eyes had hypnotized him and held him spellbound. Slowly, with a weaving motion, a sinister swaying from side to side, the great trunk bent toward him, ready to strike.

Suddenly the boy thought of the stick; the fire[28] brand that he held in his hand. It gave him courage. With a wild yell he leaped and whirled the burning club above his head aiming a blow at the big beast. The flaming end swept within a foot of the great animal’s face and with a snort it drew back. In that instant the hairy boy, still clinging to the lighted stick, bolted off through the fog of steam, the wolf cubs at his heels.

As swift as the wind he ran, and the giant mammoth, now thoroughly aroused, vented a thunderous trumpet and raced after him with an awkward shambling gait.

Although he was clumsy and ponderous the mammoth covered the ground as swiftly as Og did, his long trunk reaching out before him ready to seize his victim the instant he came within reach.

Had it been a long race Og most certainly would have been captured. He knew this too and he fled with swiftness borne of utter panic for he could hear the heavy thuds of ponderous feet close behind him, and the whistling, snorting of its breath seemed almost at his back. But fortunately as he raced on through the steam fog there suddenly appeared before him a great crevice rent in the hillside by the earthquake that had attended[29] the volcanic eruption. It was like a deep but narrow wound in the hill, and Og knew that if he climbed into this the great mammoth could not follow. True, his snake-like trunk could reach inside but Og felt that if he could crawl beyond its length the animal could not force his body into the narrow opening.

With safety in sight Og leaped forward with renewed speed and literally hurled himself into the crevice, the wolf-dog cubs falling over each other to scramble in behind him. In a panic all three struggled, stumbled and crawled over rocks and earth clods and forced themselves back into the deepest, narrowest confines of this crack in the earth. There in the darkness that was lighted only by the tiny flames of the still burning torch that Og had clung to, they waited.

Presently The Mountain That Walked, with thunderous tread and whistling breath, reached the crevice. For a moment the great beast stopped and peered inside. Then scenting his enemy within he reached his snaky trunk into the earthy cave, and groped about.

The hairy boy and the wolf cubs shrank back trembling. To have this horrible thing within a few feet of their faces, was a terrible experience[30] and for a time it shattered the courage of the trio. But when it became apparent that the animal could not reach them Og grew braver, so brave in fact that presently he fell to shouting terrible insults at the beast and brandishing his fiery stick. Indeed he mustered the courage to crawl close enough to the twisting trunk to jam the fire stick into its folds.

With a roar the trunk was withdrawn immediately and the hairy boy, laughing with glee, turned toward the cowering wolf cubs as if seeking their approval for his brave deed.

But the smile on his face was transformed into an expression of horror, for as he looked toward the end of the crevice he saw to his consternation that the walls on either side were slowly drawing closer together. Clods of earth and heavy stones were falling, jarred loose by the slow but irresistible movement of the walls. The earth that had been pushed upward by volcanic action was slowly settling again. The crevice was closing and they would be buried alive.



All the horrors of such a terrible death were apparent to Og and the two wolf cubs. The hairy boy stood with staring, fear-bulged eyes and watched the slow, irresistible movement of the earthy walls as they came together. He could feel the movement of the ground beneath his feet as it began to sink downward and he could feel the vibration of a rumbling thunderous noise that came up from the nethermost depths of the earth. A great fear clutched his heart; a fear that somehow he and the now whimpering wolf cubs had put themselves into the clutches of a great and evil spirit who owned this cave; this huge wound in the hillside.

Yet though almost paralyzed with fear Og’s brain worked. The Mountain That Walked had been defeated. He had withdrawn. Perhaps he was waiting outside in the steam fog or perhaps he had gone back down into the valley. If he[32] were waiting outside, to go out meant death. But to stay in here meant death too, the horrible death of being buried alive. Outside death was uncertain. Then too he had a marvelous new weapon in this fiery stick of his. Perhaps with its aid and his swift legs he could defeat the mammoth. It was worth trying. They were deep inside the crevice. They would have to move quickly to get out in time for the walls were closing fast. Already one of the wolf cubs had started for the opening. Og turned and called to the other one. It was struggling under a heavy clod of earth that had fallen upon it and held it down. Og saw its plight. He was about to turn and bolt and leave it to its death. But something made him hesitate. He could not understand this strange feeling. He did not know that within him was growing a sense of loyalty and unselfishness that the hairy people never knew. He did not realize that this marked him as being a higher type of human than any hairy man had ever been, but he did know that an overmastering desire to help the struggling wolf dog swept away any selfish thoughts of his own safety, and he sprang back toward the rear of the crevice, dug the wolf dog from beneath the caved-in earth,[33] then, gathering it under one arm and with the burning resinous torch in the other hand, he began a mad scramble for the opening of the crevice.

The rumbling beneath his feet grew louder and more ominous. Earth and rock broke loose from the walls above and fell about him and on him. One huge stone struck him on the shoulder and its jagged corners cut deep through his hair and flesh. Og cried out with pain and staggered under the impact. Yet he stumbled and struggled onward while great beads of perspiration stood out on his low forehead, and his eyes dilated with fear. On and on he pushed, while the rumbling beneath him grew to an angry growl and the earthy walls on either hand and overhead rocked and swayed dizzily. The opening was only a little way ahead now. The first wolf cub had gained it and scrambled out into the steam filled air. Og envied him his salvation. He wondered vaguely whether he could make it or whether, there within a few short paces of freedom, he would be caught between the crunching, caving walls of earth and crushed to death.

He made a mighty effort to gain the opening. His great muscles swelled under the strain. Blood leaped through his arteries, the cords of his neck[34] stood out and his breath came in great sobs as he struggled toward the air and light. One leap more and he would be free, one stride and he would be out of that terrible cave of grumbling noise, and crumbling walls. Og leaped.

At the same instant the rumbling developed to a roar, and a grinding crash, as the wall on either side of the crevice caved in and the earth settled. Og reached the air in a cloud of dust and a shower of earth and stones, and, in a perfect avalanche of debris, rolled over and over down the hillside, until he stopped with stunning impact at the foot of a huge bowlder. For the space of several seconds he and the wolf cub lay there in a semi-conscious condition. Then slowly Og came to and sat up. And the first thing that he looked for when he became himself again was his fire stick. He found it close at hand for he had clung to it even in his mad plunge down the hillside. But of course its flames were out.

Og picked it up and viewed this fact with disappointment. The knotty end was a mass of glowing smoking coals but the flames were gone. Og crouched beside the bowlder and looked at the hot end of the stick turning it over and over, and wondering the while how to rekindle it. He began[35] to blow upon it softly. Why he did this he could not tell. But as he breathed upon it the coals grew redder and hotter and suddenly a tiny flame appeared, then another and another until the torch was rekindled.

Og gave a grunt of surprise at this and his low forehead wrinkled into a perplexed frown. Here was a thing that he could slay with his breath yet he could bring it to life again by breathing upon it. It was strange indeed, a thing he would have liked to puzzle over, for he had found that thinking was a strange and fascinating game. But he realized that the daylight hours were waning. Night was coming on and he knew now that with the Stalking Death abroad and probably many other animals down there in the valley feeding on the roasted horses, it would not be safe for him to linger. He thought of the cave under the cliff where he and the wolf cubs had taken refuge first and he decided to go there for the night.

Both cubs were close at hand, though the one he had rescued was unable to walk. Og gathered this one under his arm and calling to the other started out of the valley and toward the towering cliffs that he could see in the distance through the steam. As they made their way forward Og[36] glanced at the hill where the crevice had been. What had been the crown of it was now a deep depression still filled with dust clouds. Og turned his head away for the thoughts that he and the cubs might even now be buried under that mass of rock and dirt were very unpleasant.

They were a long way from their refuge and Og hurried for he feared to be caught down there in the valley at nightfall. Night was the time when all the great beasts hunted and feasted and he knew that he would make a choice meal for the Stalking Death, the great panther, or Sabre Tooth, the huge cave tiger, as had many another hairy man in the past. Indeed, it was with a sense of relief that the hairy boy scrambled up the steep mountain side and crawled in under the shelter of the overhanging cliffs, for already the terrific hunting roar of the giant cave tiger was waking the echoes and in the gathering twilight this was a blood chilling sound to hear for the hairy men of that age.

Shelter gained, Og’s attention came back to the fire stick which he still carried. It was then that he noticed for the first time, and with consternation, that the stick, once as long as his arm, was now less than a quarter its original size. Here[37] was another perplexing phase of this new thing that he thought he had mastered but which he now found he could not at all understand. Why had the stick grown shorter? Where had the rest of it gone? Did this thing devour the wood? Was that what it ate?

Crouched up there on the shelf under the cliff Og experimented anew. He tried to see if the thing ate wood. He found another stick and held it into the flame. The red fingers reached out and took hold of it and, because this was soft wood, the fire consumed it quickly; ate it all so fast that Og had to drop it before it burned his fingers. There on the stone ledge it burned itself out. Og tried to feed the flames leaves. These were eaten up so swiftly that the hairy boy was frightened for a moment. He tried more sticks and more leaves, then he tried to feed it a stone. This it would not eat and Og marveled, for had he not got it from a stone originally?—yet here it refused to eat other stones. This red thing, this animal that could be slain or brought to life with a breath, that came from stone yet would not eat stone, was indeed a mystery.

Og held the fast shortening pitchwood torch in his hand and pondered. He saw the charred[38] remains of the stick and leaves he had burned lying about him on the ledge. From these he gleaned still a new idea. He gathered more sticks and leaves in a pile, then laid the burning torch among them. And presently he had a fire that delighted him; a fire that gave him warmth and light and which he could keep alive so long as he fed it sticks and leaves.

Thus was born five hundred thousand years ago up there on the ledge below the cliff the first campfire and as this hairy boy crouched before it and watched it with consuming interest while he basked in its warmth and light, he chanted softly to himself,“Og, Og, Og, Og,” which was his way of telling himself and the wolf cubs that he was a great man, that he had made a wonderful discovery and that he well deserved the name he had given himself.

And as he crouched there the roar of Saber Tooth, the tiger, and the wail of the Stalking Death, the giant panther, floated up to him through the night, from the valley below where they quarreled over the cooked horses, but somehow Og felt strangely happy and comfortable by his fire. The light and the heat and the flickering flame tongues gave him a sense of protection in[39] the night, a sense of protection that no other hairy man had ever felt; and the wolf cubs, sprawled in the warm glow, gave him an added feeling of companionship. He was happy, so happy that he wanted other hairy people to know about it; to see what he had achieved; to witness his triumph over the Fire Demon.

He began to think then of the other hairy people who had fled from the wrath of the volcano. He thought of Wab, his father, who was a mighty hunter with the stone hatchet. Og had a vague feeling that he was even a greater man than his father now.

He thought of Gog, the fierce old warrior with the scarred face and ugly disposition who was chief of the hairy people because no one had the courage to dispute it. Og hated him for many a hard cuff and unnecessary beating. He was a greater man than Gog now and he found malicious pleasure in the thought of taking his fire animal among his people and making Gog jealous with the flame that would be his. If he could conquer the Fire Demon assuredly he could conquer Gog. The old chief would never dare come near him while he held a fire brand in his hand.

Og decided to set out to find the hairy people[40] again since the roars and wails that came up from the steaming valley told him all too plainly that it was no longer safe for him to remain in that vicinity.



All through the night Og cared for his fire. It was to him a new kind of animal; a strange pet that he must needs feed at intervals else it would disappear. Og was afraid that it would eat up all its food and go out. This he did not want to happen for he dared not go back into the valley for more flame because of the danger lurking there. If the fire should burn out he did not know how to get more of it. For that reason he watched over it as a mother wolf over a cub. At regular periods he awoke and got up from his cramped and huddled sleeping position and searched around in the dark for more wood to feed it.

During this very first night at fire guarding the hairy boy learned a lesson that has been carried down through thousands of generations of camp fire watchers ever since. About the fifth or sixth time he had aroused himself and searched[42] about for wood he got an idea. Forthwith he squatted down and started thinking again. The result was that he did not stop in his wood gathering when he had enough to replenish the flame. Instead, he kept on gathering wood which he piled up on the shelf of rock. After that each time he awoke he had only to reach over and take a few sticks from the pile, replenish the fire and fall off to sleep again. His wood pile lasted him until morning.

With the coming of dawn Og began preparation for his search for the colony of hairy men and women who had fled the valley at the first signs of eruption. First of all he made certain of his fire. His original fire stick had long since burned, so he gathered together a bundle of fagots of the hardest and most knotted and pitchy sticks he could find. These he bound round with bark, and lighted from the fire. Thus he purposed carrying his new found treasure, determined to guard it with his life, for he knew full well if the flames went out he could never replenish them again.

This done, he squatted down to think. First he would need a stone hammer; the first and only implement the hairy men had invented. He searched up and down the shelf and scrambled[43] over the cliffs and hillside until he found a stone of the proper shape, round and smooth and water worn, yet rough enough to permit a grip for the lashings of bark that would bind it to the haft. Several times Og found stones that would almost do, and each time he squatted down and examined them. In the back of his brain he felt that he could make them satisfactory if he only knew how, yet his brain was not developed enough to invent the simple method of chipping them into the proper shape. The hairy folk had not yet progressed so far that they could with their own handicraft make things to serve them. They must needs find the stones ready to be tied into war hammers else they went without or used clubs instead.

Og was particular. Half the morning he searched until he found what he wanted. Then taking it back to the ledge, he selected a tough stick for the haft and with bark lashed the two together. When he had finished it he surveyed it with pride. Crude though it was, it was far better than any he had ever seen, even better than the one his father took so much pride in, and that was the best hammer among the hairy men.

This done Og sat and thought longer. He would[44] need throwing stones; five round ones that his long sinewy arms could snap out with deadly speed and accuracy. Some of the hairy folk had learned to be expert at throwing stones. Og was among the best of them.

Several good stones he piled up with his fagots and his stone hammer. Then he spent more time in thinking. Gradually he worked out the idea that it would be a good thing if he could carry some provisions with him. This was an entirely new thought for a hairy man; never before had one of the race ever had intelligence enough to think ahead to the extent of providing for the future. They lived from day to day, feasting while food was before them and hunting only when they grew hungry again. With watering mouth Og thought of his feast of the day before; of the abundance of roast horse meat down in the valley of steam, traces of which were still wafted to his sensitive nostrils. But he dared not go back into the valley again. The presence of the Mountain That Walked and Sabre Tooth forbade this.

Og’s eyes brightened as he saw the wolf cubs still sprawled beside the fire. But as he looked at them they looked up at him and their tails wagged[45] with pleasure. Og could not understand the strange feeling that swept over him, but he knew then that he could never bring himself to kill them. He would go hungry rather than slay them and cheat himself of their companionship. Og’s sense of loyalty had grown out of all proportion to anything of the sort that had ever been possessed by a hairy man before. And so he gave up the idea of carrying food with him, but he stored the thought away in his brain for future use.

Although Og had been out hunting when the hairy folk had fled the valley at the first rumble of the volcano he knew well which way they had traveled. No hairy man of late years ever journeyed north. Always there was a cold, ominous spirit in the Northland who killed with icy breath and numbing pain and left his victims stark and stone-like; at least, that is the story that a hairy man had brought to the tribe years ago when he staggered among the cave dwellers and besought some to take him into their cave and wrap their arms around him and draw him close to their bodies as the hairy folk did to keep each other warm. He was the last of as many men as he had fingers who had traveled into the Northland. The rest, he said, were dead and turned to stone.


So Og knew that the hairy folk had not gone north. Nor had they gone east, for that was where night came from. Hairy men feared the hours of night for it was then that Sabre Tooth and the Stalking Death hunted. The volcano was in the west, so the only road that lay open was southward. Og knew the tribe had gone southward. He knew it because of his crude reasoning as well as by a pack instinct fully developed in him.

And so Og faced southward, and as he picked his way up the cliff and along the face of the rugged, rock strewn and partially wooded hillside he was indeed a strange sight, one big hand clutching his stone hammer and the other carrying his flaming fagots and his supply of throwing stones, while the two wolf cubs romped ahead and in front of him. The crest of the hill finally gained Og found that his way lay in a deep forest, a forest of such tremendous trees that Og looked like a dwarf among them. They were the giant sequoia, the ancestors of the few remaining big trees still left, and in Og’s day they clothed a greater part of the entire earth. They were so tall that their tops were brushed by low hanging clouds, and so big at the base that Og knew that every man, woman and child in his colony, by[47] joining hands, could not encircle them and Og’s tribe was a big tribe composed of almost a hundred people. Og had seen the trees before and did not stand in awe of them.

For hours he swung along among the big trees, his eyes, ears and nose alert as always. Once the wolf cubs started two rabbit-like animals from their cover. Og saw them as quickly as the wolf cubs and as they whisked across an open space he dropped his hammer, shifted a throwing stone to his right hand and whipped it after one of the scurrying beasts with the speed of a bullet. Og heard with satisfaction the thump as it thudded against the rabbit’s ribs. Then, as the animal leaped into the air, and fell to the ground kicking, Og gave voice to a hunting yell of triumph. He was about to rush forward and seize his kill when he noticed the wolf cubs. Both had given chase to the other rabbit, and so close had they been to that animal when they started it that it had to take to another cover immediately, which it did by dodging into a hollow under some rocks. The wolf cubs were working frantically to dig it out when Og caught sight of them. He watched them with interest for a moment. Then his eyes brightened with a new thought. Hastily he secured his own[48] prize, then hurried over to where the wolf cubs were digging, throwing a veritable shower of earth between their legs as they dug their way deeper and deeper under the rocks. Og squatted down close at hand and watched them. Soon they had dug a hole deep enough for one cub to squeeze into. The more active of the two shouldered his companion out of the way and wriggled in. Deeper and deeper he went until just the tip of his tail showed. Then Og heard a growl, a shrill frightened squeak that was cut short by the crunching of breaking bones.

Og squatted down close at hand and watched them

Presently the wolf cub began backing out. Og watched his progress and as his head came to view with the limp form of the rabbit dangling from his jaws Og seized him by the scruff of the neck and wrenched the rabbit from his mouth. With a growl the wolf cub sprang at him. But Og was waiting for just this and as he leaped Og’s hand shot out and cuffed him so hard that he was knocked heels over head and sent sprawling into the rock pile. Og looked at him and smiled. Then as he came whimpering back toward him, Og tore off a leg of the rabbit and tossed it to him. He did likewise for the other cub. Then he squatted down and tearing the rest of the animal to pieces[49] he ate the choicest parts and tossed the scraps to the wolf cubs. And as he crouched there eating the raw flesh of the rabbit his brain was still very busy (as the brightness of his eyes attested) with the discovery that the wolf cubs could be made capital hunting companions. He reasoned that he could teach them to hunt and give over their kill to him if he went about it properly and once trained they would be invaluable, for they were swifter of foot and keener of eye and of nose than he was.

Just how he was to go about this work of making them understand that he was their master and that they must do as he willed, Og was not sure. Being primitive, as they were, Og and the cubs were closer to a common ground of understanding than are humans and animals to-day. Og could read a great deal from their attitude and demeanor and he could see that already he had impressed upon them that he was wiser and stronger than they were, and thus their master. He realized that this was the first step in their training. He had a vague feeling, too, that the next step was the development of a spirit of camaraderie; a friendly sharing of everything, food, hardships and troubles. In that way he could help them and they[50] would not get discontented and run away. He looked back to the occurrence of the day before when he had rescued the one cub from death in the crack in the earth, and he realized that already this spirit had begun to develop, and he marveled that these things could come about.

So interested was he with his thoughts that he had consumed the rabbit and was licking the blood from his fingers when he thought of his fire, and of the miracle that fire worked with food. He experienced a sense of disappointment that he had not thought of this sooner and tried to cook the rabbit. But he realized that he had still another left and he decided to experiment with that.

All eagerness and enthusiasm, he began to gather great armfuls of wood until he had a huge pile stacked up in front of a towering bowlder that had a sheltering overhang, which Og, wise woodsman that he was, recognized as a capital place for a night’s camp. With his back to this he began to build his fire, lighting it from his still flaming bundle of fagots.

After he had a scorching blaze well under way, Og took the remaining rabbit, which he had slung over his shoulder by a bark sling, and with the[51] dangling form in his hands crouched before the fire and studied the situation for a long time, while the wolf cubs sat and looked on expectantly. Truly he was at a loss to know just how to proceed with what was to be the first meal ever cooked by a human being. Finally the obvious and most simple method seemed to appeal to him and he dropped the rabbit into the flames and watched it eagerly. He crouched as close to the fire as he dared to watch the transformation of the rabbit into cooked food. But presently he began to cough and spit, and hold his sensitive nose with his fingers. The odor of burning fur was nauseating and for a moment discouraging. Og could not understand it. He hauled the blackened animal from the fire and held it at arm’s length, while with his fingers still on his nose he looked at it ruefully. Then his eyes brightened with a new thought. It was the hair that caused the stench; the fur. Then why not take it off? He never ate the skin and fur of animals anyway.

With his fingers and sharp sticks (the hairy men had not yet discovered the use of flint knives) he began skinning the rabbit, until presently he held in his hand a tempting chunk of raw meat. Og was of a mind to forego the cooking of it and[52] eat it as it was, as he had always eaten rabbit. Yet the memory of the savory odor and flavor of the cooked horse remained with him and he put the rabbit again in the fire. Forthwith a most delightful odor began to assail his nostrils, and the wolf cubs began to get uneasy and crowd forward, their mouths dripping saliva.

So tempting and insistent was the odor that long before the rabbit was properly cooked Og dragged it from the fire to eat it. But when he tried to break the tender steaming flesh apart he grunted with irritation. It was so hot it burned. He laid it on a cool stone and waited impatiently for he knew now that things cooled off and lost heat when no flame showed.

What a feast that was. Og tore the flesh from the bones and ate with great gusto, making a loud smacking sound. But he did not feast without sharing with the wolf cubs. Many a savory lump went to them and all the bones that Og’s strong teeth could not crack were theirs also. And as Og ate, his fast developing brain made note of the fact that wherever the flames had touched the rabbit it was blackened and burned. This meat did not taste as good as the meat that had laid on the coals and was cooked to a rich brown. Og[53] decided that he would lay his meat on the coals after the flame had burned out thereafter.

So intent was the hairy boy at his feast that for a time he forgot to be alert. Indeed the need for caution was only recalled to him by a growl of one of the wolf cubs, as both of them got up and came around to his side of the fire, the hair on their backs bristling. Og, startled, looked up inquiringly. He neither saw, smelled nor heard any real reasons for fear, yet he sensed from the wolf cubs that something ill was in the wind.

While they were feasting twilight had come on. The sun had gone down and a blue half light of evening overcast the sky save in the west where great crimson and orange streaks were splashed across the horizon. But there among the giant trees where Og and the wolf cubs were, a really heavy darkness had settled down; a darkness that was thick and ominous to Og as night always was. Instinctively the hairy boy crept nearer the fire and moved his stone hammer closer to him as he peered with anxious eyes among the giant tree trunks any one of which he knew was big enough to hide the slinking form of Sabre Tooth the tiger, or the big cave leopard, or any other of the many evil monsters of the forest.


Suddenly Og knew the danger that threatened him and he grew cold. From far down the night came a weird blood chilling call, that grew and grew in intensity until it seemed as if a thousand voices were howling in the dark. It was the pack call of the wolves and Og knew that this was the great pack, the pack of a thousand fanged jaws and sinister gleaming eyes. And they were coming in his direction.



Og trembled with the inborn fear of the hairy men who knew that to be caught alone at night by the wolf pack was certain and horrible death. Despite the knowledge that he had a mighty weapon in his fire Og felt this fear and he crouched lower and shuddered as he peered among the trees for the searching, gleaming eyes of the first of the pack hunters.

Yet with his fears he did not lose his new found interest in mental speculation. He watched the wolf cubs with great curiosity. Here was coming a horde of their kind; would they listen to the pack call and desert him, or would they be urged on by the presence of a great number to turn and attack him? Og knew he could prevent this now with a blow of his stone hammer. Yet he forbore, for he had confidence in them and, for some reason he could not understand, he wanted his confidence tested out. So far he had been to them a master[56] and a companion helping them and sharing their hardships. Here was to be a test of their loyalty. He wondered how it would work out.

On came the giant pack, their terrible chorus now echoing through the night. They were following a scent Og knew by the directness and swiftness of their coming. Og thought a moment and then he knew. They were headed for the Valley of the Stream. From afar they too had caught the odor of the dead horses and they were coming to the feast. Presently Og heard the soft pad-padding of many feet. Then in the blackness among the trees he caught the gleam of eyes, many of them, hundreds of them, thousands of them, as the big pack flowed among the giant sequoias. Og could see their sinister shapes vaguely as they loped along through the darkness, and as he watched them come he could hardly believe there were so many wolves in the world.

The pack stopped. Og and his fire arrested them

The pack stopped. Og and his fire arrested them. They stopped their calling too, and in the gloom among the trees they began encircling the campfire, drawing closer and closer. Og watched them fearfully and he knew that he would stand little chance in the face of that horde if they were to plunge in upon him. He knew that the fire held[57] them from an immediate attack. How long this would keep them off he could not guess. Eventually, he knew, he would have to fight for his life. How long he could stand up under the wolf pack was a question. Grimly he determined to sell his life dearly. He stood up, and grasped a fiery brand in either hand, and flattened himself against the big bowlder, alert and ready for the attack when it should come.

Closer and closer crept the wolves. Bold yet cautious with their boldness. Some came fully into the firelight and lay there and snarled and glared at him. Og shifted his fire brand and whipped stone upon stone at them. Some leaped back with snarls. Others stood their ground. One hit fairly between the eyes, fell, kicked convulsively for a moment and lay still. Og knew that he had killed him, and despite his situation the hunting yell of triumph of the hairy men leapt to his lips and echoed through the night. It was an achievement for a hairy man to kill a wolf under any circumstances.

The call seemed to affect the wolf pack like a challenge, and one, a scarred and savage looking old warrior, the leader of the pack, stalked so close to the fire that Og could have reached over[58] and touched him with his fire brand. There he stood and snarled at the hairy boy, and Og read in that snarl certain death. The hairy boy knew his time was at hand.

With a mighty leap the old wolf hurled himself clear over the fire and with eyes blazing and fangs opened and ready to set in the hairy boy’s throat he bore down upon the valiant figure who leaned back against the rock.

Og saw him coming, saw him leap, saw the evil light in his eyes, the set of his powerful jaws, and the long yellow fangs. He was frightened; terribly frightened, and he shrieked with terror as he lunged forward with one of his fire brands. But his fear did not affect his aim. The blazing stick was jammed squarely into the big wolf’s mouth and down his throat, and with a gurgling snarl of rage and fear the beast fell struggling at Og’s feet. Swiftly the hairy boy reached for his stone hammer. But quickly as he moved two other forms moved quicker. With snarls that were ugly the wolf cubs leaped upon the fallen leader of the pack and burying their teeth into his hairy throat held him struggling and kicking on the ground until Og with his stone hammer crushed in his skull.


Again the triumphant hunting call of the hairy men echoed through the night, and this time the pack did not creep closer, for Og, elated at his victory, seized fiery brand after fiery brand and hurled them blazing at the slinking forms. The wolves leaped back snarling. Og knew he had them cowed. He knew, too, he had them puzzled. They could not understand why two young wolves should be on the boy’s side of the fire and should help to pull down their leader. The pack snarled at the cubs and the young wolves hurled defiance back.

But the call of the cooked meat; the feast awaiting the pack in the valley of the stream was too strong for the wolf horde. True they had smelled cooked meat here,—a little of it, and here, too, was some food. But their leader was gone and there was small use in lingering facing a puny human being made strong by some mysterious power in blazing sticks, when the air was heavy with the scent of much meat not far away. Gradually the pack began to melt into the blackness as group after group impatiently started up wind toward the feast. Soon only a few stragglers were left to snarl across the camp fire at the hairy boy and the, to them, renegade wolves. And before[60] long these, too, followed the big pack northward.

Og stood at bay until the last gleaming eye had disappeared from the blackness in front of him. Then he put his fire brands into the flames once more and crouching down drew the body of the old wolf to him. Long he gazed at this and at the two wolf cubs and gradually he realized that the young wolves had stood the test. They had been loyal to him. They had repaid him for his care of them. Og began to have a feeling of gratitude that he sought to express. And his method of expression took a strange form. As he had chanted “Og, Og, Og,” in The Valley of the Stream when he had conquered fire, now he began to chant, “Ru, Ru, Ru, Ru,” rocking eagerly back and forth and pointing to the two wolf cubs who watched him curiously. He was giving them a name, the highest honor a hairy man could bestow. “Ru” was their name and to Og it meant, “the beast that repays loyalty with loyalty.” And thus did the wolves that renounced the pack become “Ru” the dog, the enemy of the lawless and the companion of man.



The hairy people had not yet developed to the state where they possessed knives. True they had learned the use of sharp stones for cutting purposes. Their method was to take a jagged piece of rock and with the object to be cut laid upon another rock, beat it until it was worn or chewed into the required pieces. Then the rocks were cast aside. None had yet had the forethought to keep a sharp stone in his possession to be used as a knife. They had not progressed far enough up the scale to be able to think ahead. Meeting the future was not to be considered.

Og suddenly found himself greatly handicapped because of this trait of his people. He wanted to skin the two wolves that had been killed the night before; the grizzled old leader of the pack and the one he had dispatched with a thrown stone. The hairy men used teeth, fingers, sharp[62] sticks and stones in their skinning. They did not remove the skin to preserve it. They pulled it off in strips and threw it away. Their chief desire was to get at the meat. They had not the ingenuity to make use of the hairy coat. They had not yet thought of wearing clothing for warmth.

Og did not at first have any other idea than that of tearing the skins from the wolves, so that he could eat them. But the skins were tough and his teeth and fingers were inadequate. He needed a sharp stone. But there were no sharp stones to be had. Here in the forest there were few stones, and those that he did find were worn smooth and round by weather and water. Og searched and searched till the sun had climbed high in the sky and still he was unrewarded. And as he searched he perforce thought of many another good sharp stone he had used in the past and had thrown away. He wished now that he had one at hand.

This wish made an impression on him. Indeed, he stopped short in his searching and turned the idea over in his mind. Why had he not saved one of those sharp stones; carried it with him as he did his stone hammer? It would be available now and worth a great deal to him. He stored[63] this thought in a recess of his brain where was slumbering the idea he had had when he first started this journey; the idea that it would be a good thing to carry food or provisions with him.

This thought had come to his mind as he surveyed the two dead wolves that morning. Here was more than enough food for him and the wolf cubs. Any other hairy man would have stayed and camped there until the food was all eaten. But Og did not intend to do this. He was traveling. He meant to go on in search of his people as soon as he could start, but he hated the thought of leaving so much good food behind. Then out of the corner of his brain had come the suggestion: why not carry it along! Og had pondered over this idea for a long time. It was a good thought, he could see. But to carry the two wolves as they were would weigh him down. There was a great deal on each wolf that he could not eat, the head, the feet, the heavy bones, the skin. Why not remove them and take only the meat! That he would do, but first he must needs find a sharp stone with which to skin the beasts.

The hairy boy searched for that stone and wandered far away from the big bowlder beside which his camp fire burned. Each time he found a stone,[64] he examined it carefully for a sharp edge. He would sit on his haunches and turn it over and over, while back in his brain was the same thought that he had had when he was searching for hammer stones and that was that if he only knew just how he was certain that he could put a sharp edge on to it. Presently he got the idea that perhaps the sharp edge was inside the stone. He would break it open and see. He had broken stones before by hitting them against other stones. He would try to break this one open.

Og beheld in the lower branches three big forms

With all the force of his long strong arm and heavy shoulders he hurled the stone against a boulder. It rebounded with a sharp crack and Og hastily retrieved it. It had not smashed, but its force had broken loose from the boulder a big scale of stone with a capital cutting edge on it. Og picked up the scale and examined it. It was just what he needed. He gave a grunt of triumph as he felt of the edge. Then he went over and looked at the scar it had left on the boulder. And as he examined this scar a crude thought took shape. Why could he not make a stone knife by breaking round stones with other stones until they were the shape he wanted them to be? Indeed, why could he not break stone with other[65] stones into hammer heads or throwing stones or anything else that he wanted? The suggestion was fascinating. The idea of making anything to suit a given purpose was born in Og. He was the first of the hairy people to conceive this possibility and it stirred in him almost as much interest as had his discovery of fire. He was inspired by a new desire. He would try to make a knife out of a round stone, some day. It would be an achievement to make a stone, the hardest substance he knew, into any shape he wanted just by chipping it with other stones. He would——

Og’s thought was not completed. As he stood there by the big rock a heavy club whizzed through the air, crashed against the boulder just over his head and rebounded with a sharp crack. Instinctively Og ducked and scuttled behind the stone, looking up with startled eyes into the direction whence the club had come.

A loud chattering gibberish of sounds greeted his curiosity and at the same time Og beheld in the lower branches of the trees over his head three big forms, that stormed at him a perfect tirade. They were the tree people.

Og looked at them and uttered a grunt of contempt. Then he came out from behind the boulder,[66] and searching out a throwing stone he hurled it up at them with whistling swiftness. It hit the biggest of the ape-like men a resounding thump in the chest and with a squeal of rage and pain the big form, followed by his companions, scrambled up the tree, and made off through the forest, swinging from limb to limb but making a terrible din at their going. Og heard their cries, and vaguely understood them. They were showering imprecations upon him and threatening dire things in tree folk talk. Og cried his defiance back at them for he held them in contempt, as cowards. They were the tree people; the tribes of the woods whom his people centuries before had vanquished and driven out wherever they came in contact with them.

Og looked upon them as beneath the hairy people in every way. True, they were strong, but they did not know their strength. They were not flesh eaters and so they were not really dangerous. And they were great cowards too, except when they traveled in hordes.

Og chuckled softly to himself as he thought of how he had served these three and driven them away, and after he had seen them out of sight he turned back toward the boulder where he had[67] left the wolf cubs and his fire, dismissing them from his mind entirely.

But hardly had he come within sight of his camp fire again, when he heard far off a hollow booming as of many sticks being beaten on hollow logs. Og stopped and listened and understood. It was the war noise of the tree people and he smiled grimly. He knew what had happened. Somewhere there was a tribe of tree people. Why they were so far north he could not understand for their dwelling place was south of the domains of the hairy people. They were somewhere in the great sequoia forest now, however, and the three he had seen and beaten off with stones had probably been detached from the drove. Doubtless they had hurried back to the main group and communicated the fact to all that one of their number had been injured by a hairy boy. That had made them all angry. So angry that they beat their chests in rage. That was the hollow booming sound. Og knew that they were beating their chests to try and work up their courage to the point of attacking him. He knew that this was the way of the tree people. They always grew terribly enraged but they were such great cowards that they dared not attack even one single[68] hairy man, though they always tried to work up their own courage by beating their chests and making terrible faces and raising hideous yells. But nothing usually came of their effort.

Og went to his camp fire, the booming noise still sounding through the forest. It lasted much longer than the hairy boy had expected and after a time he gave ear to it again and a slightly worried look came into his brown eyes. Was the sound drawing nearer? The hairy boy peered off among the giant trees. He could see forms moving among them. He could hear branches swishing and leaves rustling and always the booming sound persisted. Was the horde coming to attack him? For a moment Og was troubled. But the traditions of his people soon banished this. Never had the tree people had the courage to attack even a single hairy man. They raved and shrieked frightful names and made hideous faces and a great pretense at war, yet one hairy man, with a stone hammer or handful of throwing stones, could drive them off.

Og smiled. Here was he not only armed with stone hammer and backed by two valiant allies in the form of wolf cubs, but he had at his command a great new powerful weapon—fire; a weapon[69] that had driven off The Mountain That Walked and held the wolf pack at bay. Why should he fear the tree people though the forest was full of them? He grunted contemptuously and set about skinning the dead wolves, heedless of the forms in the trees all about him—great sinister forms that swung from branch to branch or leaped from tree to tree, watching him the while and making hideous grinning faces at him. But there was one among them—one huge ponderous beast with tremendously long arms and a deep chest and a face that was well nigh hideous with battle scars—who swung closer to the lonesome camp beside the boulder than any other. He was the leader of the horde and a brute to be reckoned with. His great strength alone gave him more courage than any of the others. Indeed, he had more courage than any other tree man had ever had, and he somehow imparted his courage to others of his clan. This tree tribe was different in spirit from the horde that the hairy men had coped with in the past and doubtless they would have attacked Og on sight had their big leader led them. But he hesitated, not because of the boy or his hammer or the wolf cubs that snarled up at him, but because of a strange thing with red and orange[70] tongues that snapped and crackled beside the boy and sent wisps of blue fog up among the trees that got into his nose and made him cough and gag. The fire was the thing that held him back. It struck fear to his usually strong heart and made him hesitate. So long as the fire burned there he had not the courage to lead his band to attack.

Secure in his belief that all tree people were cowards and dared not attack him, and this security made doubly certain by the fact that the horde swarmed about in the trees above him, yet not one dared to come down to the ground, Og worked on skinning and tearing the meat from the dead wolves. He was longer at his task than he had thought he would be. Twilight came on ere he finished. And by that time he was very hungry despite the fact that all during the time he was skinning and cutting up the wolves he had been licking the blood from his fingers or dividing with the wolf cubs succulent scraps of flesh that appealed to him. From the pile of meat he had wrapped in one of the wolf skins he selected a choice chunk or two, and scraping live coals from the fire he put them over the heat to broil.

Darkness had settled down in the sequoia forest by the time he had eaten; the heavy ominous darkness[71] of a starless and moonless night that always struck terror to the hearts of the hairy men. Despite the comfort and cheer of the fire and the companionship of the wolf cubs Og felt the vague mysteries of the blackness that caused his people to huddle into the farthest corners of their caves and wait for the coming of dawn. He felt uneasy and dreadfully lonely and the vague forms that he could see swinging about in the trees above him, chattering or beating their chests or glaring down at him, did not add to his comfort at all.

Yet Og was courageous. He would not let his fears master him. He watched the swinging chattering forms above him for a long time. He even shouted names at them, sent stones hissing among them, and cried out derisively that they had not the courage to come down and attack him. Indeed Og’s procedure was not unlike that of the tree people in a sense. He reviled and insulted them and depreciated their courage to such an extent that he succeeded in instilling in himself an overbalanced sense of confidence which permitted him in the end to heap a few sticks into the fire, move his stone hammer within easy reach, then huddle up in a ball and fall asleep.

How long he slept Og never knew. He was[72] aroused by a strange uncanny sense of imminent danger. But while he was still coming out of the stupor of sleep the sharp yelps of the wolf cubs brought him to his feet like a flash. The first thing that he realized, and this was impressed upon him with a shock, was that the fire was out. Only one dully glowing coal remained to pierce the terrible, oppressive, horror-laden darkness about him. But other impressions followed swiftly. He knew he was not alone. Other forms, scores of them, swarmed about him in the blackness. He could see their eyes; he could hear the sobbing of their breath; their gibberish, and a hollow beating sound seemed to come from every quarter. He could feel them moving swiftly about him. Their hands reached out towards him and tried to clutch him. He could hear the clicking of their teeth.

For a moment Og was paralyzed with fear. Then the skin between his shoulders tightened and his hair began to bristle. With this his courage came back to him swiftly, and with a wild, almost fiendish yell he began to lay about him with his stone hammer. But despite his valiant efforts the forms in the dark were too many for him. They pressed in about him so close that he[73] could scarcely swing his hammer. They clutched at him on all sides. Big powerful hands gripped his wrists. Sinuous arms were entwined about his body. Sharp teeth were imbedded in his flesh.

Still he fought—fought like a mad man. He threw them off, beat them back, trampled them down, wrestled, struggled, struck, kicked and bit. But to no avail. The clutches tightened on his wrists and arms. His legs and body were made helpless and then, spelling the end, a pair of huge, powerful paw-like hands closed slowly but irresistibly about his throat and choked him—choked him until his tongue hung out, until his eyes bulged from their sockets, until his lungs pained for want of air and his head throbbed with the pent-up blood in the arteries there. Og knew it was the end, yet he kicked and fought, though his efforts grew very feeble. Slowly he became unconscious. A blackness not of night was upon him. Yet before all his senses left him he could feel that many hands had lifted him from the ground and that he was being carried upward in a halting, jerky fashion. He knew he was in the trees because of the swishing of bending branches. After that he heard no more.



Only vaguely was Og aware of anything that happened to him during the rest of the night. Now and then he gained a state of semi-consciousness and saw dimly that he was part of a weird tree-top procession formed by the huge band of apish tree people. Hundreds of them were swinging through the tops of the giant sequoias, and as they traveled their strange arboreal highway, this army of apish beings reminded Og of a band of conquerors, such was their demeanor. They swung through the branches, chanting weird songs, and now and then they uttered strange, deep-voiced, booming cries that Og guessed were their war cries and shouts of victory; cheers of conquerors, for this big tree-people band were proud of their achievement; proud that they had made war against a hairy man and, having captured him, were carrying him off a prisoner.


Never in the history of the race of tree men, at least not in the lives of any of his troupe—and that was as far back as the history of their race was known to them—had they had the courage to attack even one hairy man, let alone best him in conquest and carry him off. It was a triumph, an achievement, and to them, in their elation, it all appeared to be a great step forward for their kind.

To be sure this attitude was but a whim of the moment or the hour. Perhaps had the band suddenly come upon a grove of trees with edible fruit they would have straight way forgotten their captive and left him to his own devices while they ate. Indeed this was a rare exhibition of steadfastness of purpose for the apish folk of the band and doubtless if it had not been for Scar Face, their leader who really did have more purpose than the rest of the tribe, they would long ago have strangled Og or dropped him from a high tree and killed him that way.

But always had Scar Face been jealous of the prowess of the hairy folk. Always had he envied them their courage, and their advancement. He had striven to be like them, to make his people like them but always he had failed, for the ape[76] men’s brain had not yet developed to the point where they could think out even the simple problems that the limited intelligence of the hairy people could master. In truth, they were several steps below the hairy folk in the scale of intelligence, and their progress upward was very much slower than that of these men who had learned to live in caves.

The light of a new day was filling the eastern sky with its brilliance when Og gained full consciousness and was able to comprehend the situation. The army of tree folk was still swinging enthusiastically onward over its tree-top highway, and Og found that he was still a prisoner. The giant leader held him captive, and because of his great strength the ape man handled him as if he were a child. One of the tree men’s great arms was thrown about Og’s middle and with head and feet and arms dangling the great creature carried him as easily as Og would have carried the limp body of a young goat that he had slain.

The great creature carried him as easily as Og would have carried a young goat

Og was weak, and sore, and passive; passive because he had not the strength to make an effort to free himself from his captors. He simply remained inert and limp and permitted himself to[77] be carried in this awkward fashion wherever the huge tree man chose to take him.

His captor led the horde; as they swung from branch to branch and from one tall tree to another. On and on they hurried through the tree tops, making remarkably swift progress despite the awkwardness of their going. That they were far from the point where he had camped the night before and had been captured, Og was certain. Then, too, the character of the country had changed a great deal. The sequoias were slowly giving way to trees of new and different type. They were giant trees, tremendously tall, and growing close together, but instead of branches they had spreading fronds that reached a great distance upward and outward and were very strong, despite their graceful appearance. Then there were other trees, lower and more massive in character, with short thick trunks and foliage that spread over acres of ground, sending down other stems that took root and spread onward again. A single tree was a veritable forest.

Og did not know that these were giant palms and banyan trees and that his night’s journey had taken him farther south than any point to which the hairy folk had yet ventured. He did know that[78] the climate was perceptibly warmer, and that vegetation familiar to him was fast disappearing. Several times, from this tree-top highway, he had a clear vision of the forest floor, and he understood then why the ape people traveled in the treetops. The vegetation below him was so thick and so massed and intertwined that no earth could be seen at all, and Og knew that even the strongest hairy man could never force his way through it. Only heavy animals like the mammoth, or the hairy rhinoceros would have the strength to trample a pathway there.

Whither his captors were taking him Og had not the vaguest idea. For once these tree people seemed to have a single purpose; a single desire to get somewhere, for they never ceased going. Og felt sick and sore and uncomfortable. He made a movement once to change from this hanging position, but his great captor snarled at him and cuffed him with such terrible force that he became unconscious again, nor did he regain his senses until he felt himself being laid prone on the ground.

He discovered that he was lying on a gently sloping hill, and that he was surrounded by a circle of crouching, inquisitive tree people. Back[79] of this first line of apish beings were massed thousands of others. There were so many that Og could scarcely believe his eyes. They covered the hillside, they filled the trees, and rocks, all about him, and all were staring at him as if waiting patiently for him to open his eyes.

Beyond the mass Og could get a partial view of the valley. It was surrounded on all sides by towering palm clad mountains, but there were few trees in the valley bottom. Instead, there was a pleasant meadow overgrown with lush grass through which a broad, lazy stream slipped slowly. To Og, used to the ruggedness of the country further north, it was beautiful and restful.

But he had little time to take in details, for so soon as he sat up a great chattering and squalling and taunting began. The tree folk became tremendously excited and danced up and down, and pointed their fingers at him, and chattered and grinned and snarled and made ugly faces. Some in the trees threw sticks at him and great round hard objects that Og had never seen before. Some stones and clods came from the tree folk on the ground, many of them hitting him resounding thumps.

Then suddenly they left off throwing and began[80] a weird sort of dance that slowly developed into a dizzily whirling mass as the apish beings joined hands and began capering in a huge circle around him. Og knew from their manner, and from some of the squeals and calls, that the whole clan of the tree people were celebrating his capture, and as he sat there looking at them with senses still dulled from the terrific punishment he had received, and the hardships of the long journey, he wondered vaguely what was to be done with him. He knew that had he been one of the tree people, captured by the hairy men of his kind, he would have been put to death ere this. Would this be his end? This thought troubled him greatly.

It was while this strange dance was in progress that Og felt the presence of a warm body close to him and, looking down, he discovered with a feeling of gladness that beside him, torn and scratched, and as hopelessly dazed as he, were the two wolf cubs. They too had been made captives by the tree people. Og reached out and touched them and in that action he found as much comfort as they evinced by the feeble motion of their tails.

Og’s recuperation was swift, and the wolf cubs seemed to regain their strength and alertness just[81] as quickly. Indeed, by the time the tree people had danced themselves tired, and many of them had gone off to seek other diversion, the trio of captives were almost normal once more and Og’s brain was working to puzzle out his strange situation and find, if possible, a way of escape.

The dancing ceased, the great mass of tree people dwindled, scattering among the trees on either side of the valley. All, save a group of formidable looking apish beings, disappeared. Og surveyed with suspicion those that remained. They were all bigger and stronger than he, and all bore innumerable scars. Doubtless, they were the warriors of the clan. And leading them was a huge scar-faced one, whom Og quickly realized was chief of them all. Spreading out in a semi-circle, with Scar Face in the lead, they began slowly to advance toward him, at the same time snarling and showing their teeth and making faces that were indeed hideous.

Og stood his ground and faced them, the wolf cubs flanking him on either side and snarling with as much vigor as their enemies. The hairy boy could not understand it all, but he longed mightily for his stone-headed hammer, or better still, his more recent weapons, a pair of fire brands. The[82] fact that he had lost perhaps, forever, the valuable alliance of the Fire Demon, gave him a feeling almost of despair. The tree men would never dare venture upon him so boldly were he thus armed.

Despite the fact that he was unarmed, Og stood his ground, determined to fight with tooth and nail to his death. He had not the vaguest idea what was about to happen to him, but he determined to go down fighting.

His boldness seemed to disturb even these giant warriors of the tree folk. They did not advance with the courage that they first displayed, although they did continue to make hideous faces and horrifying noises. But old Scar Face was not the coward that the others were. When the rest stopped he came on alone, advancing with a heavy rolling stride, while his long arms dangled clear to the ground. Stooped as he was, Og could see that the big ape man was very much taller than he was, and broader of shoulders and deeper of chest—a formidable antagonist, indeed. Yet such was the courage of the hairy boy that instead of shrinking from him, he advanced a step or two toward him, crouching too, with his long arms and powerful hands spread ready to come to grips.


With a roar the great tree man charged, and Og leaped forward at the same instant. They met in mid air and crashed to the ground locked in a combat that was terrible to witness. What a clash that was. With all the fury of their primitive natures they fought, for to Og it was life or death. He felt certain that the scar-faced one meant to kill him, and Og’s determination was to prevent it if he had in him the strength and courage to withstand the giant tree dweller.

Over and over they rolled on the ground, kicking, biting, clawing and thrashing with all their strength. Og had buried his powerful teeth into the corded neck of his antagonist, in an effort to reach his windpipe, while his strong hands tore at the tree man’s stomach, trying to rip open the flesh and tear at his vitals. It was the primitive man’s method of combat. He knew no other way to fight, and he pressed his attack with all the strength there was in his powerful body. The tree man, however, did not display the same viciousness. Rather he seemed to use his greater strength in protecting himself than in injuring the hairy boy. Og realized this and wondered. At first he attributed it to the tree man’s lack of courage, but presently he knew that this was not[84] so for in the mêlée the great ape man suddenly shifted his long arms in such a manner that with a single quick movement he could have broken Og’s back and left him helpless, yet for some strange reason the tree man restrained himself. Og was more puzzled than ever.

Seeing their leader thus locked in combat with the captive seemed to instill more courage in the hearts of the other warriors of the tree clan, and suddenly they all closed in on the fighting pair, and Og again felt many hands gripping him, locking his legs and arms in helpless grips, and forcing his head and neck backward until he must needs let go his chewing at the throat of Scar Face, to protect his own neck from being broken.

Gradually they pinioned his arms and legs and head and trussed him about the body with their long strong arms, until he was utterly helpless. Then, as before, he felt himself being lifted off the ground and carried he knew not whither. For a long time they carried him and Og realized that they were taking him up to the upper end of the valley between the tall mountains. Soon the ground became rocky under foot, and seemed to slope slightly upward. Og wondered whether they meant to take him to the top of one of the[85] mountains, and perhaps fling him from a precipice.

But they did not travel far up the slope before, one by one, they let loose their grip upon him until only Scar Face and another one of the ape men gripped him. Then, swinging him slowly back and forth between them several times, they hurled him from them. Og felt himself travel for a brief instant through space, then he landed with a dull and painful thud among a mass of jagged rocks, in the entrance to a dark cave. Half dazed he lay for a brief space where he had fallen and as he lay there he was conscious of two other forms hurtling through the air and falling beside him. They, too, lay still, where they were, and by their whimpering Og knew that he had the wolf cubs for his companions.



Why had they not killed him?

This question puzzled Og more than any other. Certainly they had had ample opportunity. That night, there in the sequoia forest, they could have strangled him and left his body for the wolves. Or at any time during their long tree top journey they needed but to drop him from the branches of one of the high palms and the crash to the ground would have broken every bone in his body. And again, when they attacked him, Scar Face could have broken his back, but refrained, or the group of warriors together could have literally torn him limb from limb, yet they had not done so. Surely it could not have been cowardice that had stayed them, nor yet mercy, for mercy was a quality that Og knew but little about and the tree men nothing at all. Why then had he been spared?

Og puzzled with this question many times in the[87] days that followed, and tired his slowly developing brain to absolute fatigue more than once in pondering for a reason.

It was strange position he found himself in. He was a prisoner. He knew this only too well, for during the hours of daylight Scar Face and some of his stalwart fighters crouched at points of vantage and Og knew by their demeanor that he could not pass them and go where he pleased. But his was a strange sort of prison. They had hurled him into a veritable blind canyon carved by nature in the rocky side of a mountain, whose high walls tapered from their broad opening into the pleasant valley, to a narrow declivity behind him that ended in the black and foreboding entrance of a great and deep cavern.

Og feared this cave, as did the wolf cubs. They kept as far away from the black entrance as they could, and always they watched it with signs of terror in their eyes. Og could read their fear in their growls and bristling hair, and instinct told him, too, that death lurked there in some terrible form. Just what it was he could not understand, for his sensitive nose, or delicate ears, or yet that strange protective instinct that was his, did not give him any definite indication of what the[88] danger might be. Still danger, he knew, was there and he too kept as far away from the cave’s entrance as possible.

He and the wolf cubs were allowed to roam at will up and down the canyon, from the cave to its very mouth, where it looked out upon the broad and sunlit valley, but beyond this point they could not go for always Scar Face and his tree people were on guard to prevent him. It was at the mouth of the canyon, that, once a day, he found food. The tree people always at midday left a pile of strange fruits and stranger nuts for him to eat. There on a flat rock they laid them and Og knew by this that they were afraid to come further inside the canyon in which they had made him prisoner.

The strange diet of fruit and nuts was at first distasteful to Og. The hairy people were meat eaters and fruit formed a very small part of their diet, save berries and certain roots and barks, which his people had learned to use. But the tree folk were not flesh eaters, and they gave him only what they ate themselves, but they gave in abundance, and Og, after a day of fasting, found that he could eat this new food with a certain degree of relish.


This being a prisoner was strange and unpleasant to the hairy boy and for a time he did little but sit among the jagged rocks, with the wolf cubs beside him, and wonder what it was all about. But on the second day, as his numerous cuts and bruises began to heal, his spirits lifted and presently he began seeking about for ways out of his difficulty. The discovery that the tree folk were prevented by fear from entering the canyon, although it aggravated his fear of the lurking menace of the cave, also made him realize that in his prison he could do about as he chose without any interference from them. This fact discovered, Og forthwith set about making himself weapons, for he felt that he might need them sooner than he anticipated.

A stone hammer was his first thought, and as he cast about among the rocks for desirable material, he could but think of the valuable weapons he had once possessed in the fire brands. How he regretted the over-confidence and the lack of vigilance that had made him let that precious fire burn out. Oh, if he only knew of some way of rekindling the flame; of calling back the Fire Demon.

Although there were rocks in profusion scattered about the canyon, Og was surprised to find[90] that there was really a dearth of good material for a stone hammer. The rocks were all too large or of the wrong shape, and he spent a great deal of time searching and wandered all too close to the foreboding cave, before he recalled quite suddenly, and with a great deal of interest, the methods he had employed in getting the stone knife with which he skinned the wolves that day in the sequoia forest. He remembered suddenly that, not finding satisfactory material, he had broken a sharp scale from the large rock, by pounding it with another stone. Why not do the same thing to shape a hammer head?

Og sat down and thought the idea over. Then he found the best shaped stone he could and puzzled over it for some time before he proceeded with his first effort at craftsmanship. The stone was too heavy and too long. Og realized that if he could break off one end it would be nearer what he wanted. He proceeded to beat it against a bowlder and presently he was rewarded by having part of it break off, leaving in his hand a rather good hammer head. But, this achieved, Og was not satisfied. He surveyed the product and realized that it was not as satisfactory as the last one he had possessed. It was too irregular and misshapen.[91] The question then took form in his mind, why not reshape it with the aid of other stones!

Elated with the idea, Og proceeded to find another stone that he could handle, and after a search he picked up one about the size of his fist that was black and extremely hard. Og did not know that he had fortunately found a piece of flint. With this and the rude hammer head in his hands he sought out a flat rock, and sitting down with the hammer head between his knees, proceeded with his task of shaping it, while the guards of the tree people looked on from the mouth of the canyon with apish inquisitiveness.

But Og had not chipped more than a half dozen strokes when he made a startling discovery, one that made him experience a strange mixture of fear and elation. He proceeded first to chip away a jagged corner of the hammer head with his piece of flint, when suddenly, and much to his astonishment, the flint gave off a series of fire sparks. So startled was Og that he dropped the black stone and sat staring at it in amazement. He had discovered fire again.

After a time he picked up the flint and felt it carefully. It was not hot, yet it contained fire. That was strange. It was black. The cooling[92] volcanic rock from which he had lighted his resinous torch first was also black. Was this, then, the same kind of fire rock? Og searched about and found a stick. He touched it to the flint; held it there a long time yet no tiny spirals of smoke rewarded him as he expected. Still he knew the fire was in the rock. It leapt out when he struck it against another rock. He tried it, and with the second tap more sparks flew.

Og examined the flint carefully; turned it over and over, felt it again, tried once more to light the stick, then, still holding it in his hand, he sat and thought and thought and thought, until his brain grew tired. The fire was in the rock, of that he was certain, but how to get it out and in his possession, under his control, was a vexing question.

Ere long the hammer head was shaped to his satisfaction. To secure a handle and tough bark with which to lash both stone and stick together was not difficult, for among the rocks was scrubby vegetation that yielded him both of these necessities. Og put his now valuable chipping flint in a safe place, while he worked diligently but carefully at making the rest of his hammer.

The coming of night was fraught with unpleasantness[93] for Og. A prisoner there in the canyon, with the menacing entrance of that mysterious black cave behind him, and the guards of the tree people on the alert and closing his only way of escape, made more acute his inherent fear of the hours of darkness. How glad he was to have the company of the faithful wolf cubs then.

Before night was well upon him, Og and the wolf cubs climbed as high as they could on the sides of the canyon and, huddled behind a huge bowlder, with their faces turned toward the rear of the canyon and the entrance of the cave.

And it was well for Og that he decided to climb part way up the canyon wall and take shelter behind the bowlder, for hardly had he become comfortably huddled down with the wolf cubs nestled close to him, when the narrow confines of the canyon echoed with a wild blood-chilling roar and, through the blackness of the canyon, Og could see in the entrance of the cave two glowing eyes and the outline of a huge sabre-toothed tiger.

Softly, yet swiftly, Og reached out and covered the mouths of the wolf cubs, for he knew that a whimper or growl from them would bring the great beast down upon them in an instant. Then like statues, without the movement of a muscle,[94] they sat there and watched the great beast come slowly forth from the cave, stretch itself and yawn, then test the wind by throwing up its massive, ugly head. And as Og watched just a glimmer of the real idea for his imprisonment in the canyon took shape in his brain. Had they left him there as a sacrifice to this beast?

It was trying to trace the direction of an odor

Og was close to the truth of the matter, though, of course, he could not know all of the details of how the great, sabre-toothed one, at times, made life miserable for the people of the tribe of Scar Face, appearing suddenly and collecting toll from their numbers, only to disappear just as suddenly and leave the pleasant valley quiet and unmolested for weeks. To the tree people the great tiger was a terrible monster and a mysterious one. They knew that it came from the cave and returned to it. They thought that it slumbered there and came out only occasionally, when extremely hungry. They did not know that this cave ran clear through the base of the mountain, and was really a backdoor to the great beast’s real den, which opened into another valley beyond the mountains, a far more desirable valley from the tiger’s point of view than that of the tree people, for hunting was better there with beavers, and[95] sloths, oxen, deer, and wild horses in abundance, any one of which made a better meal for him than did the thin and wiry tree people. That was why the great sabre-toothed one left the den only occasionally by the back door to hunt in the valley of the tree people. Her periodical visits, however, were terrifying to the ape men, for always the great cat caught one of their number out in the open, or, failing this, climbed one of the tall palms, in which the tree people made their rude homes, and tore down the rough and flimsy platforms they had learned to build, and wiped out a whole family in its ferocious effort to get at least one victim to take back to the den. That was why Scar Face and his people had carried Og all the way back to the valley, and that was why the whole tribe rejoiced when he was brought in a prisoner. For weeks they had been dreading another visit from Sabre Tooth, and they felt that if they could furnish a victim she would leave them unmolested for a time at least.

Og sensed a great deal of this as he and the wolf cubs crouched trembling behind the big bowlder part way up the canyon wall and he watched the great beast pick its way slowly and deliberately among the rocks while fear gripped his heart.


Suddenly the tiger stopped and lifted its nose toward the sky, at the same time moving its head and thick muscular neck slowly from side to side. It was trying to trace the direction of an odor that came down on the night wind, and Og instinctively knew that the odor was his odor and that the sinister beast had detected his presence in the canyon.



Slowly the giant tiger began to flatten itself among the rocks while the heavy head with its glowing eyes moved about trying to locate Og, either by smell or by sight. That the great cat knew he was in the canyon and close at hand was evident from its actions. For a long time it crouched motionless among the rocks, save the slow and subtle movement of its head and the silent waving of its tail. Presently it began to creep forward ever so slowly, moving across the canyon in the direction the soft wind was blowing and heading directly toward the bowlder behind which the hairy boy and his wolf companions crouched.

Og’s heart almost stopped beating. Yet, with all his fear, he never moved a muscle, for he realized that the tiger knew he was close at hand, but had not yet been able to locate him, and until it did it would not spring upon him. It must see[98] him first and know for a certainty just where he was before it would risk a charge or any quick movement.

Softly and slowly it slipped forward, from stone to stone and from bowlder to bowlder, taking advantage of every shelter and waiting long and patiently in the deep shadows while its evil eyes searched every possible hiding place to locate its victim. So well hidden were Og and the wolves, and so silent did they keep, that the big cat was completely baffled. But Og knew that the natural determination of the beast would not let it give up the search for him, and it was inevitable that it would find him and pounce upon him, breaking his neck with one sweep of its terrible paw, or cleaving his backbone with its mighty jaws. What was he to do? What chance would he have, even with his stone hammer and the alliance of the wolf cubs, against this monstrous man-eater?

In the desperation of the moment an idea was born. He wondered how solidly this rock that he crouched behind was embedded in the side of the canyon. He remembered that when he had located it during the hours of daylight he had noted that it was none too well fixed in its place.[99] He wondered how great a shove would be needed to send it crashing down the slope to the bottom of the canyon, twenty or thirty feet below. He wondered whether he had the strength to start it on its downward path. It seemed to be his only hope. Softly he put his shoulder against it and tried it. It moved with unexpected ease and made a grating noise, at the same time dislodging loose dirt and pebbles that rolled down the slope, making a surprisingly loud noise in the stillness.

The tiger flattened against the ground with a soft hiss and its ears went back against its head, while its eyes glowed like live coals. Og, frightened by what he had done, loosened his grip upon the wolf cubs and stood up. Instantly the tiger saw him and gave voice to a roar that echoed and reechoed across the narrow canyon, and sent chills racing up and down the back of the hairy boy and the whimpering wolf cubs. Then, like a flash, it charged.

Two great leaps brought it to the foot of the slope, and with swift and powerful strides it began to climb among the rocks directly beneath Og. The hairy boy watched it over the top of the bowlder, trying to time his attack so that the big beast would be in a position from which it could not[100] escape when he should launch the heavy boulder. He knew that a mistake on his part meant swift and sudden death for him. He knew that unless he could bowl the great cat over and crush it down with the rock his end would follow quickly.

Up mounted the tiger, mouth opened, fangs bared, and eyes glowing. Og could see the beast distinctly now, in spite of the darkness, and he realized what a hideous fate would be his if luck were not with him, or his strength or nerve should fail him. He gritted his teeth and braced both hands against the boulder, at the same time planting his short, crooked legs firmly against the ground.

The bowlder, with a crunching noise, came out of its insecure resting place

The tiger came on, but the steep slope retarded its progress. In spite of its great claws its footing on the rocks was not certain and small stones were dislodged and rolled clattering down to the bottom of the canyon as it climbed. It was half way up the slope now, half between the canyon bottom and the terror-stricken hairy boy. Og dared not let it come further, for it might reach firmer footing and with one terrific spring pounce upon him. The hairy boy gave a mighty heave, putting all the strength in his powerful back and legs in the shove. The boulder, with a crunching[101] noise, came out of its insecure resting place, balanced a moment on edge, then in a shower of stones and dust tipped over and crashed down the incline on its journey of destruction.

The tiger saw it coming, and for an instant it paused and flattened itself against the slope, spitting viciously. That pause was fatal. The next instant, realizing its danger, it tried to leap forward and fling itself out of the path of the whirling boulder, but the great stone crashed upon it before it could leave the ground. Momentarily there was a pause in the mad career of the stone, then it sped on, and with it, grinding against other boulders, went the clawing, spitting body of the big tiger.

To the bottom of the slope they rolled together, in a mad whirlwind of flying stones and dust. There they landed with a crash, the heavy stone pinning the great mottled cat against another and larger boulder that stopped the wild plunge. There it lay, scratching and clawing at the huge stone that held it prisoner and making the night hideous with its terrible screams.

Og and the wolf cubs remained on the slope of the canyon wall trembling and wondering what was to happen next. But when the boy discovered[102] the condition of the beast and knew for a certainty that it was held captive by the weight of the stone, he added his voice to the general din and gave the hairy man’s hunting call of triumph. Again and again he shouted in wild ecstasy, then, seizing his newly made stone hammer, he scrambled down to the bottom of the canyon, and, swinging his weapon over his head, crashed it down upon the tiger’s head. Again and again he beat it until the great head bled from a dozen different wounds, and the animal lay still among the rocks. Then once more Og raised his voice in a triumphant shout that echoed and reechoed up and down the canyon and out into the pleasant valley, where the tree people heard it and wondered.

All night long Og and the wolf cubs paced up and down beside the dead tiger, the hairy boy gloating over his achievement and enjoying his triumph to the fullest. He kicked the limp body, and spat upon it. He called it dreadful names in the tongue of the hairy people, he stood upon it, sat astride it, pulled its tail, and finally sat down and watched it proudly.

Then he proceeded with his skinning, while the wolf cubs looked silently on

And well might the hairy boy be proud of his accomplishment. The great cave tigers had taken a heavy toll of his people for many years, yet[103] never to Og’s knowledge had anyone of his tribe, even his father, who was the mightiest hunter of them all, ever slain one of these terrible beasts single-handed. Indeed, Og had only heard of one ever having been killed, and that was one that, wounded and sick from a recent encounter with a hairy rhinoceros, had crawled to the river for water. There the hairy people had found it and cornered it. The whole tribe had joined in the killing of it and they had stoned and clubbed it to death. Og had seen the skin, or that part of it that could be salvaged. Old Gog, the scarred and irritable old war leader of the clan, would bring out the small piece of it that was left and drape it about his loins at feasts and on other state occasions.

Og realized with an overwhelming feeling of importance that he now possessed a whole skin to boast about when he should meet his people. He was wealthier now than any hairy man had ever been, or at least he would be when he had skinned the tiger. He was eager now for dawn to come so that he could begin that important task.

The first gray light of morning found Og searching about among the stones in the canyon for one that would make a satisfactory skinning[104] knife. He searched long and hard, for he was beginning to appreciate the value of good tools, and he meant to have a knife that would do its work well. Again he was fortunate in finding a piece of flint; a large scale this time, that had a sharper edge than any knife that Og had ever possessed. He was elated, and he resolved, as he admired the cutting edge and tried it on the handle of his hammer, that he would not throw it away as most hairy people did the sharp stones they used for the same purpose. Instead, he would keep it, and perhaps, by chipping it as he had done the hammer head, he could make it even more serviceable.

With the coming of the first rays of the sun Og was bending over the prostrate form of the huge tiger. He had rolled the boulder partly away and dragged the carcass out from its death trap. Then he proceeded with his skinning, while the wolf cubs looked silently on or explored among the rocks for small animals on which they might breakfast.

It was at this work that the wondering and thoroughly frightened tree people found him when they began to gather timidly about the entrance of the canyon. And when they saw the sabre-toothed[105] one stretched prone on the ground with the one that they had meant to be his victim bending over him they squealed in amazement and jabbered among themselves, but none of them, not even old Scar Face, had the courage to enter the canyon and come near him.



Og paid small heed to the tree people who gathered at a safe distance to watch him. This task of skinning the great cave tiger was too absorbing and too important. He worked diligently until the sun was overhead before he had the huge pelt removed and spread out on the surface of a sun-warmed rock to dry. But he did not stop there. He fancied the long knife-like claws of the great cat, and with his stone hammer he broke all of these off. He wanted the sabres, too; the long tusks that protruded from the upper jaw and were almost as long as his forearm. With his stone hammer he broke these off and laid them aside with his other trophies.

All this accomplished, he sat down to rest and suck the blood from his messy fingers. It was then that he realized for the first time that he was hungry. But the strong, unsavory cat flesh did not appeal to him, despite the fact that he had not[107] tasted meat for several days. With his flint knife he hacked a muscle from the carcass and tried it. It was not pleasant and he flung it to the wolf cubs.

They devoured it greedily and turned to the carcass for more, and Og knew that with the help of the vultures that already circled overhead or sat hunched on nearby rocks, they would soon leave nothing but gnawed bones to remind the tree people of the terrible cave-dwelling tiger.

His hunger recalled to Og that the tree people had provided him with food. He looked out toward the mouth of the canyon, where a number of them were gathered in little groups in trees and on the tops of rocks, watching him curiously, and he noted with a sense of satisfaction that as he watched them they became uneasy, and chattered among themselves, and some that had ventured a little too far from the security of the trees scrambled back and took refuge among the palm tops, nor did they jabber at him derisively as ape people did at hairy folk when they felt safely out of reach. They held him in awe and Og knew that his triumph over Sabre-Tooth was accountable for it. Even the powerful Scar Face and his[108] band of warriors moved to a distance with the others.

Og was elated, nor was he slow to take advantage of this new situation. With a rolling walk that had about it a faint suggestion of swagger, he walked to the mouth of the canyon and looked at the flat rock on which the tree people had each day placed the fruit and nuts that were his food. It was bare. He looked at it in silence for a moment then up among the palms at the peering, chattering tree people. In the fiercest voice he could muster he began shouting for food, at the same time brandishing his stone hammer.

Much to his satisfaction his easily interpreted actions caused a commotion among the ape men and forthwith Scar Face and a number of others began chattering loudly, and presently the whole horde was scurrying about among the tree tops. Og, with the demeanor of a tyrant, which he already felt himself to be, walked back to his tiger skin and sat there watching, and before long he was gratified to see timid tree folk hurrying toward the food rock with armfuls of fruit, and it was not long before they had deposited there a pile of food that was staggering in its proportions. It contained more than Og could eat in many[109] days, all of which gave the primitive boy grim satisfaction. He was fast beginning to feel his importance as the slayer of the cave tiger and it delighted him to see that the tree people were awed to fear by his prowess.

Still, his fast developing egotism did not overbalance his discretion, for that night and many nights thereafter he and the wolf cubs sought out protecting rocks on the sloping sides of the canyon, behind which to crouch and slumber.

Nor did the fact that he was held in awe and feared by the tree people incline him toward being a bully and a despot. Og was developing too swiftly for that. There were too many things he wanted to do and he did not want to spare time to make life miserable for Scar Face and his people through their fear of him. True, he did demand that they bring him food, but that was no hardship. Indeed, it soon became apparent that this was in the nature of a pleasure for the ape people, for daily scores of the food carriers gathered among the rocks and trees at the mouth of the canyon and watched him as he went about accomplishing the things that he had set out to do. They watched him with the curiosity that only ape folk can display, and many of them tried to imitate[110] him in some of the things he did. Especially was this true of Scar Face, the leader of the tree folk. When Og chipped stone diligently for half a day, Scar Face and several of the other tree men, after watching him in silence for a time, would get two stones and knock them together too and watch the result curiously. But, of course, they never achieved anything from their effort for they had no object in knocking the stones together in the first place, save that of imitating the hairy boy.

Og spent a great deal of time in knocking stones together, for he had a real object. He was determined to find out how to get the fire from the black rock in a form that would make it of service to him as a protector and to furnish him light and heat and cook his food. Og thought longingly of the fire-scorched horse that he had first eaten and he was determined, if it were possible, to once again eat cooked meat.

For that reason he spent days at a time working with the piece of flint rock that gave off the sparks each time he struck it against another stone. He tried every way he could think of to catch the fire, but not once was his patient effort rewarded with even the tiniest spiral of smoke. Still he kept at his work with determination. Time and again[111] he held sticks against the black stone and watched the results eagerly. He struck the stone against the stick for hours at a time until he wore out the stick, yet the result was always the same. When he struck stone against stone he always got sparks, yet neither stone would catch fire. Og worked and worried and fretted and tired his brain out trying to accomplish the thing he desired.

He had set himself up a veritable workshop there in the canyon, under the shelter of some big bowlders. There he kept his precious tiger skin, and the claws and teeth, and there he kept choice pieces of wood that he hoped some day to make into torches, his hammers—for he had made several now that he had found an interest in making things—his stone knives, for he had wrought several of these with patient chipping, and numerous pieces of flint that he had gathered up about the canyon. Always he sat on a smooth flat rock to work at his stone chipping, and beneath this rock was a litter of stone chips and, most conspicuous of all, a pile of splintered wood, some of it ground almost to powder as a result of his almost incessant beating of flint against wood and[112] wood against flint in his vain hope of transferring the sparks from the stone to a torch.

Of course Og did not realize it, but this litter of powdery splinters of wood was the key to the solution of his problem, and doubtless he would have gone on with his patient experimenting for days, with his fire material close at hand, had it not been for a fortunate accident. The hairy boy found a new piece of the black fire rock, a large piece, twice as big as his head, and he had carried it from a remote corner of the canyon back to his workshop beside the flat stone. Here he dropped it on the ground and surveyed it reflectively. It was much too large to do anything with and he realized that pieces of it could be more easily handled. He decided to break it into fragments and forthwith he smote it a terrific blow with his stone hammer.

A perfect shower of sparks and a ruined stone hammer rewarded him, for the flint was a terrifically hard smoothgrained piece and not easily broken. Og looked at the shattered hammer-head ruefully, and then at the flint. Then he gave a sharp cry of astonishment, for, behold, from the pile of litter, from the powdered wood splinters,[113] a tiny spiral of smoke curled up, while a spark glowed before his eyes.

For a moment Og did not know just what to do. Suddenly he recalled that this fire thing was a peculiar animal that could be both killed and brought to life by breathing on it. But before he could put this thought into action the wisp of smoke went out, and the glowing spark became black. In vain did he try to nurse it back to life. It was gone.

Og’s disappointment was overwhelming for a little while. He just crouched there in dejection, looking at the pile of splinters and wood dust. But presently he aroused himself and began to ponder the matter. He ran his fingers through the wood dust and realized that it was soft and pulpy. He remembered, too, how much more readily soft wood had burned in his first fire, and he wondered whether that was not the solution of the whole problem.

He let the great piece of flint lie where it was and, finding a heavy stone that he could conveniently handle, he crashed it down upon the fire rock with as much force as he had used when he had shattered his stone hammer. Once more there was a shower of sparks and once more a tiny[114] spiral of smoke began to rise from the litter of wood dust. Og was quickly on his knees this time breathing on the glowing spark. And, as he blew against it softly, he saw it increase in size and grow brighter and the smoke wisp grow larger and larger.

Suddenly, with a tiny explosive sound, the live coal leaped into a flame and Og, with a cry of elation, hastily began to feed it wood splinters until presently his whole heap of litter was alive and burning and a smoke column was rising skyward. That night was the first since the beginning of time that a camp fire glowed in the canyon, and the tree people from the safety of the tall palm trees watched it with a sense of fear, for to them it seemed like the eye of another giant, more formidable even than the cave tiger, looking at them through the blackness.



Og had learned the secret of fire. Not content with having kindled flames by accident, the hairy boy continued his experimenting with the black fire stone. True, the accidental lighting of the wood dust litter revealed the secret to him, but even after that it was some time before he really felt that he had mastered the situation to the extent where he could kindle flames whenever he chose, providing he possessed the fire stone.

Again and again he scraped wood dust and tiny splinters from a piece of soft wood with his flint knife, then bent over them with two fire stones, learning the art of striking the sparks so that they would leap from the stones into the powdered wood and immediately start glowing. But finally he achieved what to him was perfection in the art of fire building and he was extremely happy.

The fire, of course, was a mystery to the tree[116] people. That was evident from the way they gathered about the entrance of the canyon and watched it curiously. Some of them even overcame their fear of the canyon and the hairy boy to the extent of coming well inside the rocky declivity and sitting there among the bowlders for long periods, just blinking solemnly at the flames and chattering softly among themselves. Chief among those who mustered courage enough to come close to the flames was old Scar Face. He finally reached the point where he would sit for hours there and stare first at the fire and then at the hairy boy with an expression of profound thought.

Indeed, so often did Scar Face and certain others gather in a circle about Og’s fire, that after a time there developed a certain intimacy between the hairy boy and the ape men. They lost their fear of this mighty one who had slain the great cave tiger and who had proved himself master of the Fire Demon, and in its place developed a wholesome respect for him and his ability. Scar Face and all of his lusty fighting men would often gather in a semi-circle at a respectful distance from Og, and watch him with a strange expression in their eyes, which Og gradually perceived was admiration, the admiration of loyal subjects to a[117] chieftain, and Og soon realized that, if he cared to, he could be the ruler of the tree people, with Scar Face and his warriors as his devoted henchmen.

But for some strange reason this did not appeal to Og. To be ruler of the tree people was not to his liking. He had watched them closely during the time he had been among them and he had found them tremendously interesting. So like the hairy men they were in many ways, and yet so different.

Og had always looked upon them as animals, but he perceived now, as a result of his intimacy with Scar Face, that they were not, yet they were not men as he knew them. They had a language that consisted of grunts and querulous chattering but it was so crude that Og could see that they had great difficulty in expressing even the simplest thought. They could think. Og realized this when he analyzed their reasons for bringing him to the canyon a prisoner. Scar Face, who represented the height of development among them, had doubtless thought out the idea of making him a sacrifice to the cave tiger. They built tree top homes for themselves especially in mating time, and though they were crude structures they[118] showed a homing instinct. And some among them, notably Scar Face and his warriors, occasionally carried weapons in the form of clubs, though they often forgot that they possessed them, as they forgot many other things.

Here Og could see was one of two distinct differences between the tree people and his own race. Most hairy men (although there were still many who were not capable) followed an idea or a task to its conclusion. If a hairy man wanted to find a smooth round stone for a new stone hammer-head, he usually set about searching for it and searched until he found it, although there were some even among his people who could be turned aside from such a quest and made to forget all about the object they had started after by a bit of bright quartz, or the discovery of a bird’s nest or something else that might amuse them.

This was the way of all the tree people. They no sooner found one thing that interested them, than they dropped it for another. Og perceived, however, that this was not entirely true of some of them, especially old Scar Face, who seemed to have more steadfastness of purpose than most of his kind.

Og marked another difference between the tree[119] people and the race of hairy men. It was a physical difference. Under his own long hair Og knew that his skin was a yellowish white. The skin under the hair of the tree people was dark; in truth it was quite black. Og, thinker though he was slowly growing to be, noted this with only passing interest, for he could not know that this was the key to the whole mystery, and this difference in skin color marked the ape men as a different race, a race that even at that early date was still thousands of years behind his own people. Nor could he understand that a million years hence, when his race should have achieved the heights of civilization, the offsprings of the tree people would still be savages.

Yet Og could see that some of them, especially their leader, were making slow progress. Their interest in his fire and all that he did was evidence of this to him. The fact that Scar Face imitated him in everything he did, to the best of his ability, also helped Og in this conclusion. The scarred one walked more upright than the rest of his kind. He carried a club for a weapon more frequently than the rest and he always watched Og’s stone hammers with interest whenever he came close to his fire. Og noted this fact and one day,[120] more out of curiosity than anything else, he gave Scar Face one of his best weapons.

Og needed no interpreter to understand from the grunts and gibberish that Scar Face was grateful. Indeed, he was so delighted that his antics were childish. He paraded before his warriors with the hammer over his shoulder, and smote trees and bushes for no other reason than just to show off his weapon, and his warriors were duly impressed.

Scar Face watched with interest, too, Og’s handling of the fire, and often when he sat near it he would toss a stick onto the flames, and chatter excitedly when he saw the flames consume his contribution. The fact that Og always carried a smoking and flaming firebrand about with him wherever he went impressed old Scar Face, too, for he perceived that that was equally as important a weapon as the stone hammer.

First he had a wholesome respect for the fire, although for some reason he did not fear it as many of his people did. This respect for the flames increased when he inadvertently stepped on a hot coal that had popped some distance from Og’s stone fireplace. But he could appreciate its virtues, too. Its biggest appeal to him was the[121] fact that it dispelled the darkness of night, the darkness which he and his people feared. It gave light and he knew that monsters like the sabre-toothed tiger, the cave-lion, and other beasts of prey shunned light and hunted only during the hours of darkness.

He appreciated its warmth, too, for it was a delightful sensation to crouch within its circle of radiance and feel the warmth against his hairy coat. The rites that Og performed over the flames each time he killed a rabbit or some other small animal, and the transition of the red and bloody meat to rich savory brown food, was something he could not understand.

He often gnawed at the few bones that the wolf cubs left and found that the taste was pleasing, and several times Og flung him a small piece of cooked meat, which he sampled and ate with great gusto. Scar Face and his people were not meat eaters like the hairy men, for the chief reason that they had never had the ability or the weapons with which to procure this kind of food. They never shunned the contents of birds’ nests, however, and small rodents that they were able to catch, they always gobbled down with relish. Scar Face soon perceived that flesh, and especially[122] cooked flesh, was well worth the eating and, as a result of his introduction to this form of food by Og, he was to become the first meat eater among the tree people.

Soon after he had sampled the cooked food that Og gave him, and some time after he had acquired the stone hammer, he took to hunting as diligently as Og did, and the first day he was rewarded by killing one of the many rabbit-like animals that were abundant in the pleasant valley. After surprising it and crushing it with a blow of the stone hammer, he brought the mangled form to Og and told him gruntingly that he’d like to have the hairy boy cook it for him.

Og obligingly skinned it and cooked it, and Scar Face devoured it with much smacking and sucking. The bones he tossed to the wolf cubs as he had seen Og do, and when he finished he licked his fingers in imitation of the boy.

After that Scar Face wanted a fire of his own. For some time he tried to make Og understand his desires and finally, when the hairy boy did comprehend him, he flatly refused by a vigorous shaking of his head. The disappointment of Scar Face was very evident. He sulked and grew ugly. He showed his teeth at Og and even[123] clutched the handle of his stone hammer menacingly. It was a show of belligerence that the hairy boy could not tolerate for a moment, and angrily Og snatched up a burning fire brand and hurled it at the ape man with such accuracy that it hit him in the pit of the stomach and singed the hair and burned the flesh until old Scar Face shrieked with pain and ran away clutching at his paunch and squealing.

Og sat by his fire and grinned at the tree man’s discomfort, for although he was perfectly willing to have old Scar Face possess a stone hammer he was not at all inclined to share with him his most valuable of all weapons, the fire brands. Og knew now that he could drive off the fiercest of the hunting animals, even the cave tiger, with the fire brands, and he knew, too, that if it ever became necessary he could hold Scar Face and his whole clan at bay. Under those circumstances he was not willing to put any of the tree people in possession of the weapon he depended upon most.

Scar Face, off in the bush, nursed his burns, and later he tried as best he knew how to make a fire for himself. He got stones and a litter of wood, as he had watched Og do, and he clashed[124] the stones together until they broke in fragments, but not a single spark of fire did he ever produce.

Yet the desire to have a fire of his own still persisted, and although the leader of the tree folk never came near Og’s fire again while the hairy boy was present, he watched the actions of Og from a hiding place at the mouth of the canyon. For several days he lurked there, hidden even from his own people, and finally the opportunity that he was hoping for arrived.

Og, as was his custom, lighted a fire brand from the flames, and with his stone hammer and some throwing stones in his hands, and the wolf dogs at his heels, started out across the pleasant valley on a hunting trip to replenish his larder, Scar Face, from his hiding place, watched him until he was well out of sight. Then, marking that none of his own people were watching his actions either, he made his way craftily into the canyon and, slipping from rock to rock, reached the place where Og’s fire still burned in the rude stone fireplace. From wood that he found there he made himself a torch as he had often seen the hairy boy do, and dipped it into the still smoldering ashes, he breathed upon it after the fashion[125] of Og and presently tiny flames appeared at the end of his torch. He had a fire brand, too!

He held it up and watched it with eager, yet fearful eyes. Then he did a curious little dance of elation, as if he sought to tell himself in that way that he was as great a man as Og. But quite suddenly he stopped dancing, for he realized that the owner of the fire might presently appear again. Then, too, for some curious reason, he did not want even his own people to know that he possessed this fire torch. He glanced about cautiously, and stealthily made his way out of the canyon. Then, holding the burning torch at arm’s length as he had seen the hairy boy do, he slipped into the forests and disappeared.



Og off with the wolf cubs, had a premonition that all was not well. A strange feeling of impending catastrophe haunted him. He watched the wolf cubs to see whether they sensed anything wrong, but they gave no sign. Og’s instincts were keener even than theirs in this emergency, for he knew that something was amiss. He tried to shake off the feeling and go on with his hunting, but, try as he would, a strange something seemed urging him to return to the canyon that had been his home now for weeks past and, almost despite his own will power, he obeyed.

Back across the pleasant valley he hurried, his fire brand and stone hammer held in readiness, and his sharp eyes and keen ears alert to catch the first sign of trouble. On he pushed as swiftly as his short legs would carry him, and that was with incredible swiftness, all things considered.[127] On his way he passed several groups of tree people in the tops of palm trees, and they, too, seemed to be strangely agitated, seeming to become more disturbed than ever as he passed with his fire brand.

Og tested the air with his nose. Something made him pause and sniff again and again, while his restless eyes roved the woods and the meadow, and even the skyline beyond. There was a strange tenseness about everything, and he saw a low-hung cloud beyond the tops of the palm trees that seemed all too near and very menacing. Yet even then he could not understand what was happening.

On he hurried, and presently he was picking his way among the boulders in the canyon toward the sheltering rocks that he called home. Everything appeared as he had left it. His precious tiger skin, and other trophies were still rolled in the corner among the rocks, his pile of sticks was there, too, and so were his extra stone hammers and his flint knives. What, then, could be wrong?

He looked about him. Then he gave a grunt of surprise and crossed over to his stone fireplace. Scar Face had been there. Scar Face had been there and stolen some fire from the embers in his[128] fireplace. Og stooped and picked up a stone hammer that lay close to the fire and by this token he knew all that had transpired in his absence. It was the hammer that he had given the leader of the tree people. Scar Face, as his kind were wont to do, had dropped it and left it there, forgetting it in his excitement at having a fire brand of his own.

Og picked up the hammer and scrutinized it carefully, then with it still in his hand, he turned and looked out across the valley, across the tops of the trees, to where the low-hung cloud appeared. It was much larger now and much nearer and Og could see that it was not as other clouds in the sky, for it ballooned upward and outward in great black billows and here and there it was shot with tongues of flame. Og was chilled with fear, for he knew that Scar Face had stolen the fire and carried it off to the bush, and not knowing its potentialities, had attempted to build himself a camp fire in the woods. And, in doing it, he had set the world on fire—loosed the wrathful Fire Demon. Og could see it all, and he trembled as he thought of the result, for his mind leapt back to the volcano and the earthquake when the[129] wrathful Fire Demon had set the world aflame once before.

The hairy boy was thoroughly frightened. So, too, were the wolf cubs now, for they raised their sharp muzzles to the wind and sniffed apprehensively, and whimpering drew closer to their master.

It was a terrible forest fire that Scar Face had started. A mass of dirty yellow smoke was rolling skyward and drifting across the heavens. Soon it began to obscure the sun. Og could see the great orb through the smoke and it looked sinister and menacing; like a great ball of fire itself. The air became heavy and pungent with the odor of burning vegetation. A great silence seemed to fall over everything, even the birds were still. Yet a part of this silence it seemed was an undertone that struck dread even to the stout heart of the hairy boy. It was the sinister moan of the fire, far off it seemed and dreadful, but as it drew nearer this moan would become a roar as the flames leapt from tree to tree and tore through the underbrush devouring everything in their path.

Og began to wonder about his own safety and the safety of the wolf cubs. He realized that the[130] lack of vegetation there in the canyon would prevent the flames from reaching him. But he realized, too, that there was sufficient fuel on the mountainsides above him, and in the pleasant valley, to bring the flames uncomfortably close, and blow billowing smoke clouds into the canyon, that would choke them to death. What was he to do?

Presently he realized that he was not the only one who was worried. A group of tree people appeared at the mouth of the canyon, all of them whimpering in terror. They paused there at the entrance and looked in at Og as if beseeching him to help them to safety. Others appeared. They came at first in family groups of threes and fours, and they gathered among the bowlders at the entrance of the canyon, where they crouched shivering with fear, and alternately watched the ever-increasing smoke cloud and the actions of the hairy boy. Still they came. In larger groups now; sometimes a dozen or a score at a time. Soon the entire entrance of the canyon was blocked with the mass of them, but still they came. Hundreds of them there were. Og marveled at their great number.

The fire was increasing to terrific proportions and drawing steadily nearer. The undertone that[131] had at first sounded like a far-off moaning became a steady roar, punctuated now and then by a great snapping and cracking, or a crash as some mighty tree, its trunk burned through, crashed to the ground. The tongues of flame that shot upward and split the rolling smoke bank like flashes of lightning were fiercer now, and the air was hot and heavy and pungent with the smoke. There was a constant rain of fine cinders and charred bits of sticks, some of them still hot and carrying live sparks of fire. When these fell among the mass of tree people squalls of terror arose and there was a wild scrambling and milling about in their mad effort to get out of the way of the dropping ashes.

Soon they began to crowd in through the mouth of the canyon, packing themselves into the declivity like a huge flock of sheep. Og watched them and wondered what would happen to them when the leaping fire roared across the pleasant valley and up the mountain’s sides overhead. Indeed, he wondered with great fear what was going to happen to him, too, when that situation developed.

The smoke was growing dreadfully thick even down there close to the ground. It was a black pall across the heavens by this time shutting out[132] the sun completely and a draught was drawing thick billows of it into the canyon. The tree people began coughing and spitting and rubbing their eyes. Some of them were quick to discover that the air was clearer and fresher close to the ground and many of them threw themselves prone among the stones and lay that way breathing in the meager quantity of smoke-free air that lingered in crevices between the rocks.

A terrific wind was roaring through the canyon. It was a torrid wind, hot and scorching, for it was created by the fire itself, a terrific draught that whirled aloft great chunks of charred and still smoking wood and dropped them among the terror-stricken tree dwellers. Screams of pain and anguish were added to the noise of the fire and Og shuddered as he saw some among them clutch at back or side and shriek with pain.

But the hairy boy was just as uncomfortable as the tree people and in almost as much of a panic. It was all too evident to him now that he could not live long in the canyon. The thick acrid smoke was in his lungs and he was coughing and spitting with the rest of them. His eyes burned like balls of fire themselves, for the smoke had scorched them until they were raw and painful.[133] He was busy, too, dodging the rain of charred wood and hot cinders and more than one singed his hair and bit deep into his flesh. It was a terrible situation and the hairy boy was put to it to find a way out of the difficulty.

He had clung to his refuge under the shelter of the bowlders where he had made his home for days past, but he was fast realizing now that this was a far from satisfactory place to hide in the face of this terrible threatening peril. But where was he to go? In desperation he peered through the smoke for some better rocky refuge; some more protected corner of the canyon. And suddenly he found it. Through a rift in the swirling smoke bank he beheld the black opening of the sabre-toothed tiger’s cave. It was an awesome place to think of venturing into, but better by far than any refuge the canyon afforded.

Eagerly Og gathered up his tiger skin, his best knife and hammer, and his still burning fire brand. Then, calling to the cowering wolf cubs, he started to bolt through the smoke. But suddenly he paused. He thought of the tree people. He knew they would never think of the cave as a refuge nor have the courage to venture into it if they did think of it, and they would all perish there[134] in the canyon. He would show them. He would lead the way.

He raised his voice in a great glad shout which some of the ape men heard even above the roar of the fire. They looked at him in astonishment, and when they saw him beckoning and calling them to follow, one by one they broke away from the huddling, cringing mass and trailed him through the swirling smoke cloud. And presently Og was leading the whole tribe in the direction that safety lay.

It was a bold and daring thing that he was doing, and when Og reached the yawning entrance of the great cave he stood before it irresolutely, with the ape men cowering behind him and peering into the sinister blackness of the interior. Not so the wolf cubs, however. Once they saw the cave they dashed inside. Og noticed that they never hesitated, nor did they utter a single growl of warning. Indeed, it was with a relieved whimper that they sought this refuge and Og took heart and stepped inside, but he slung his tiger skin back over his shoulders and clutched his hammer and fire brand ready for action as he went deeper into the great cave.

Only a few moments longer did the tree people[135] hesitate, then with much squealing and pushing and shoving the whole tribe crowded inside and began to follow the hairy boy whose fire brand torch dispelled some of the blackness and showed them the way through narrow passages that led deeper into the bowels of the mountain where the air was free from smoke and cool and damp and delightful to their singed and badly burned bodies.



Despite the relief the coolness and clear air in the cave afforded, it was evident that the tree people were badly frightened at being inside the great cave that had been the home of the formidable sabre-toothed tiger. They cringed and whimpered and huddled in little frightened groups as Og led them forward through narrow passages, and they peered into the gloom ahead with frightened eyes. Og felt the same terror clutching at his stout heart. But the wolf cubs went bravely on ahead, and this, added to the fact that he had assumed the leadership and the responsibility of taking the tree people to safety, keyed up his courage to a certain extent and made him at least appear bolder than he really was.

Deeper and deeper he led them into the hollow in the mountain. It was a long, narrow cave in the beginning, hardly more than a passageway at[137] some points, and long pendant stalactites hung from the roof while needle-like stalagmites protruded from the floor and in some places almost barred passage, or narrowed the cave so that Og and his horde of followers had sometimes to crawl under them or work their way around them. But they kept on because slowly smoke from the great forest fire was being drawn into the passage by draughts, and Og and the tree people wanted to get beyond the point where there was any smoke at all. Another reason why the hairy boy led on was because the wolf cubs continued to trot ahead of him and he felt that so long as they went on and exhibited no signs of fear whatever, it was safe for him to proceed with his followers.

It was a strange and weird procession they made as they traveled through the cave, with the hairy boy ahead carrying his torch with its feeble rays only partly dispelling the gloom and throwing a weird light on the tribe of tree people strung out behind him, chattering to each other and looking about in the darkness with fear in their eyes. In that procession were old ape men and young ape men and mothers with their babies clinging to their breasts, and all of them were trusting to the hairy boy to take them to safety.


And Og felt that trust, and somehow, in a way that he could not understand, it gave him faith and confidence in himself, and strength to go on, even though it was all as much of an ordeal to him as it was to the tree people.

They moved forward for some little time, when suddenly the passageway ended in a huge-vaulted cavern; a tremendous room large enough to accommodate them all with plenty of space to spare.

Coming out into this suddenly, Og stopped and so did the tree people. It was so large, and so filled with the gloom of night that it frightened all of them and they cowered and huddled together in a panicky mass and chattered softly to themselves as their eyes roved about trying to pierce the heavy enveloping blackness. But gradually, with the help of Og’s torch, their eyes became accustomed to the darkness and they could see from one end of the cavern to the other, and to its great dome-like roof from which hung stalactites of tremendous length. It was a weird cave, indeed, and the presence of great bats, almost as big as Og himself, that swept and soared in and out among the pillar-like pendants that reached downward from the ceiling, only added to its dreadfulness.

Great bats, almost as big as Og himself


The bats were like great black-robed spirits that flitted softly about, or hung from convenient crevices and glared at them with eyes that showed green fire in the darkness. Some of the largest of them, as if resentful of this invasion, even swooped toward them and clicked long and ugly teeth, and uttered shrill squeaks. Mostly they made for Og, singling him out no doubt because of the flickering torch he held. They did not know what this sparkling thing was and they dived at it repeatedly until Og, with a yell of triumph that echoed and reechoed from wall to wall of the cavern, brought one of them down with a lightning-like swing of his stone hammer and crushed out its life before it could struggle up from the stone floor. After that the great black bats soared and swooped at a safer distance.

Og threw off the fear of the great cavern first and while the tree folk huddled in a mass in the center of the cave and clung to each other for protection, staring about them fearfully, the hairy boy with his torch and the wolf cubs at his heels, began to explore the great room.

It was soon apparent to him that the cave was the center of a number of small caves that seemed to reach out in all directions, like legs from the[140] body of a giant spider. Og wondered where these other caves led to, and as he came to the entrance of each of them he stopped and peered into them, but even he was not bold enough to attempt to explore them.

Presently he came to one about the entrance of which there lingered a dreadful, sickening odor that suddenly filled Og’s soul with terror, and made the wolf cubs growl, while the hair on their shoulders bristled and their tails, instead of stiffening with the desire to fight, dropped between their legs. Og was on the point of running away, but, with an effort, he mastered himself and, hiding behind a cone-shaped stalagmite, he peered into the black entrance, holding his torch so that it would send its light rays as far as possible down the passage.

He could see nothing, but on the cool draught that came down the passage way he got a stronger scent of the dreadful odor. It was familiar. He had smelled it before and it had terrorized him then, yet for the moment he could not identify it. What could it be? He asked the question over and over again. Then he stopped to listen. Down the passageway came a peculiar scraping sound, as if some long slender body were dragging[141] its full length along the rock floor. Suddenly Og knew what the hideous thing was, and he went cold as he realized the menace that was approaching. It was a python; a giant snake, ancestor of the present day constrictor of the southern jungles. It had been driven by the forest fire to take refuge in a cavern in the mountains, and as Og and the tree people had wandered down one of the passages to the great central cavern, it was doing likewise.

Og could hardly repress a cry of fear as he realized that all too soon the great reptile would slide its terrible length into the central cavern. Then woe to him and the tree people. These ape men were the natural prey of the python, who would lie in wait among the matted branches of the forest and throw coils about the unfortunate tree man who ventured near his lair. When the python found this huddled mass of ape folk in the central cavern, Og knew that the result would be terrible to witness. He turned away from his hiding place to hurry back to spread a warning. But even as he left the shelter of the cone-like stalagmite a great, ugly, flat head, with cold green eyes, terrifically powerful jaws and a darting tongue, appeared in the entrance of the[142] cavern, and a moment later the giant python began to slide its great shining body into the central cave, working its serpentine way among the stalagmites swiftly and softly, save for the peculiar scraping sound that its heavy body made as it slid its length across the limestone floor.

The hairy boy had hardly time to dodge behind another sheltering pinnacle when the huge serpent raised its head and shining neck aloft and glared about the cavern. Og knew instantly that the snake had discovered the tree folk, for like a flash its head came down, then with surprising speed it began to slip across the cavern, sliding so close to the hiding Og that he could have touched the shining coils as they glided by.

Og, valiant despite his own fears, wanted to rush forward and warn the tree folk, scatter them, and tell them to take refuge wherever they could, but the great snake had glided between and cut him off from them.

The huge serpent raised its head and shining neck aloft and glared about the cavern

On moved the big snake, and Og, cold with fear himself, hardly knew what to do. For a moment he was afraid to cry out for fear the serpent would turn on him. But only for a moment did the cowardice overcome him. Disregarding danger to himself he voiced a ringing shout of warning[143] and with stone hammer in one hand and torch in the other, he dashed headlong across the cave, trying his best to turn the huge snake’s attention from the tree folk long enough for them to get away.

They heard his shout of warning and it spread consternation among them. They saw the peril that was traveling swiftly toward them, but so frightened were they and so slow to act, that the python was full upon them before the great mass scattered and started for one of the many hall-like caves that opened into the cavern. Like a cyclone then the snake descended upon them, literally hurling his long shining body among them. Og saw it all with a shudder.

The shrieks that followed were deafening as they echoed and reechoed against the walls of the cavern, and the writhing of the big snake tossed tree folk right and left as they strove to get out of his way. Coil after coil the snake threw among them and Og knew that the fate of some of his recent companions was sealed.

But when the ape men moved they moved fast. With terrific speed the mass dispersed, and in a twinkling they were all gone, the last of them[144] disappearing through the dark mouth of one of the smaller caves; the last but two, and Og.

These two Og saw struggling in the folds of the great snake. They were big, strong, powerful ape men; some of the warriors that Scar Face had led, yet their struggles were puny indeed against the folds of the big python’s body. They screamed, and thrashed with their arms and bit with vicious teeth, but to no avail. Suddenly the great snake contracted the coils it had looped about them, and Og with a sickening sensation saw the two big ape men go limp. He could hear the dull sound of breaking bones, and when the snake slowly uncoiled they dropped to the floor lifeless and almost without form, so terribly crushed were they.

It was a hideous, terrifying sight, but for some strange reason that Og could not understand it did not frighten him as much as it angered him. A sense of pity for those two poor mutilated forms that a moment before had been alive welled up in him, and he was consumed with hate for the horrible reptile. Indeed, he was moved to attack it and with a war cry ringing on his lips he started to advance upon it. Like a flash the snake turned and faced him, and in the cold, merciless[145] green eyes that Og looked into, the hairy boy saw no hopes for victory. He knew that he was doing a foolish, though valiant thing, and discretion made him stop in his tracks.

The next instant, the snake, with a hiss that was blood chilling, drew back its terrible head and struck at him with lightning swiftness. But as quick as the snake was, Og was quicker. Like a flash he leapt aside, and with a cry of terror he fled across the cavern, not stopping even to look behind him until he had gained the entrance to one of the passage ways out of the cave, into which he plunged, the wolf cubs following him closely.



His bravery giving way to wild panic, the hairy boy dashed down the narrow cavern at top speed, dodging in and out among the stalactites but never once stopping until thoroughly exhausted. Then, panting, he came to rest and sat on the cave floor, while the wolf dogs lay down beside him.

They were very quiet for a long time and Og tested the air with his keen nose and listened for the slightest sound coming down the cave, for he was afraid that he might hear the scraping of the big snake pursuing him. All was quiet, and after a time in which he made certain that the reptile was not following him, Og breathed a sigh of relief and rested more comfortably.

The cave into which he had plunged went in an entirely different direction from the one into which the tree folk had disappeared and Og regretted this. Once again he felt that dreadful loneliness stealing upon him. The companionship[147] of the tree folk, even though it had not been as intimate or as congenial as would have been the company of his own kind, had meant a great deal to the hairy boy and he was sorry that they had been separated. In a vague way he wondered what was happening to them. He doubtless would have felt lonelier if not envious had he known that, even as he rested there, the ape men were swarming out of the cavern into which they had plunged and, their recent terrifying experience forgotten, were romping on the side of another mountain that looked out on a new palm-grown valley reaching southward.

Og wondered where the cave he had entered led to, if indeed it led anywhere save into the bowels of the mountain. With his loneliness, a sudden indescribable fear of the dark, damp passage settled down on him. He began to feel as if he were a prisoner doomed to stay there underground with the bats and other loathsome denizens of the caves.

This fear spurred him into action, and although he was still panting with the exertion of the chase, he began a feverish, almost panic-stricken search for a way out of the cave. The darkness was dense and heavy; almost oppressive. To be sure,[148] he still had his flickering torch but the feeble rays of this only served to make the blackness of the cave seem heavier. He began to feel as if this darkness was pressing in upon him, trying to smother him, to bury him alive there under the great mountain that he knew was above him.

He started forward again, hurrying down the cave as fast as he could. Sometimes it narrowed down to openings so small that Og was almost afraid to try to crawl through them, and each time the boy wondered whether he had come to a blind end of the labyrinth of underground passages. But always these narrow passages widened out again, though some of them were at times so narrow that he could hardly force his body through them without scraping hair, and even skin, from hips and shoulders.

On and on he traveled. Time seemed long to Og down there in the blackness and now and then he despaired at ever getting out again. Yet he kept on courageously. He must find a way out. He must get into the sunshine once more. He could not go on forever wandering about down there in the blackness.

Vague fears began to obsess him; needless fears brought on by the oppressiveness of the[149] blackness. What if another earthquake should occur? What if the cave walls should give way and the great mountain above him should sag downward? What if one of these huge pendant stalactites should drop upon him and pin him down to hold him a prisoner there in the cave until he died of hunger or thirst? Thoughts of hunger and thirst made him both hungry and thirsty. Og’s nerves were fast going to pieces under the strain. He plunged madly on, half frantic now in an insane desire to find the exit to the cave, and he worked himself into a state of almost complete collapse.

But just when he had reached utter despair, something happened that helped him to master himself and find his poise and lost courage once more. The narrow cave suddenly widened out a little more than usual and as Og stepped into the small room-like vault in the rocks, an odor that was most disgusting assailed his nostrils. By the light of the torch he beheld bones scattered about the floor of the cavern, bones of all shapes and sizes, some partly gnawed and some with shreds of decomposed meat still clinging to them. It was the den of some animal that Og had blundered[150] into, and his nose told him that it was the den of a great cave tiger.

For a moment Og was petrified with fear. But presently he beheld huddled in a far corner the shapes of two cub tigers, dead now and rotting.

Og could see that they had been dead for some time and his brain quickened by fear and all that he had recently gone through told him that these were cubs of the female tiger he had slain weeks before. They had starved to death there in the cave when their mother did not return.

Og smiled grimly, for he was glad to rid the world of the whelp of this ferocious cat. But he smiled, too, because he realized that all his recent panic had been groundless. From the den he could look down along the passageway ahead of him and see, not far off, a shaft of soft, warm light that he knew was sunlight. The exit to the cave was close at hand.

The hairy boy did not linger. He made for the entrance and presently he and the wolf dogs found themselves on a ledge overlooking a valley that extended away northward. And as he stood there, below him Og beheld a figure moving; a man, and one of his own kind.

Og gave a loud halloo, and waved his smoking[151] fire torch toward him. The hairy man in the valley looked up at him thoroughly startled, then as he saw Og move to climb down from the shelf into the valley, he gave a cry of fear and dashed off toward some cliffs on the other side of the valley. Og paused and with disappointment on his face, watched him go. Then the hairy boy beheld the cliffs toward which the man was running and his heart gave a great bound. The cliffs were pockmarked with holes that Og knew were the cave dwellings of the hairy men. And at the alarm cry of the running hairy man, heads appeared at many of these holes and looked out across the valley, while from various points in the woods, other hairy men and women appeared and ran scrambling up the cliff to dodge into their home caves for protection.

Og descended into the valley as swiftly as he could. The tiger had worn a narrow, but well defined trail from his den into the forest on the valley bottom, and Og had little difficulty in following it. Presently he was running through the forest, with the wolf dogs romping after him. It was a long way across the valley but the hairy boy was so eager to reach the colony of hairy men that he never noticed the distance. He[152] plunged forward recklessly, making a great noise, and occasionally shouting in pure joy at having found his own people once more.

After a time he arrived at the foot of the cliff. Here, at the base of the almost perpendicular wall, was a great rock-strewn flat, where the hairy folk doubtless worked and played. Above in the cliffs were a number of holes and crevices, from which looked many curious faces. Og stood below and shouted upward:

“Hallo. I am returned. The son of Wab has come back. I am Og now. I have won my name.”

But in answer came a chorus of shouts of derision, and from several doorways stones came pelting down, and Og was forced to duck and dodge as the ugly missiles whizzed by.

“Stop, stop. You are my people. I am the son of Wab. Wab, the mighty hunter. Where is he?” cried Og, from behind a boulder whence he had dodged to avoid further stones that were hurled at him.

The hairy boy was startled to receive an answer from close at hand.

“I am here, O stranger. I, Wab, once the mighty hunter. I am here ready and waiting for you, O, stranger. If you are death come take[153] me. I am no longer of use to any one. I, the mighty hunter, am blind and an outcast.”

The voice came from behind a nearby boulder and, looking, Og beheld the crouching form of a powerful man across whose face were many scars, one of which had wiped out both of his eyes. It was as if a great claw-armored paw had at some time raked him and all but torn his face away. Yet despite this disfigurement Og recognized him as Wab, the mighty hunter, and his father.

“Father, I have returned. It is your son,” cried the hairy boy, running to his side.

“No. Not my son. My son perished in the great fire that drove us from our homes many moons ago. You are Death. I know. I heard the others shouting that you were coming from the den of the tiger, with a tiger skin over your shoulders, and a wand of mysterious power in your hand; a wand from which fire and smoke flashed. I know you. You are Death. Not my kin but kin of the cave tiger, whose claw marks I bear on my face. The tiger sent you to avenge the blows of my stone hammer. She feared to come back herself even though she knew I was blind. She feared me and she sent you instead. But I am ready to go with you, Death. I am an outcast[154] among my people. I am blind and helpless and therefore useless. I cannot get my own food and no one has time to get it for me. They throw me scraps and bones to gnaw upon sometimes. They help me up to my miserable little cave sometimes. But when they are in a hurry and run to save their own precious lives, they forget me and leave me here, a blind man, to scramble up the cliffs as best I can or to remain here and be killed.

“They left me to-day when they ran from you in dread. They left me here. I sought to hide myself behind this stone. But when you called Wab, I knew that you were Death and I knew you had come for me. So I am ready to go. Take me.”

Og was kneeling beside the man now. “No, no,” he cried, “I am Life, not Death, for you, my father. I have slain the tiger that has crippled you so. I come with a mysterious wand, true. It is a wand of fire. I have conquered the Fire Demon. I can make him come from stone and do my bidding. He guards me against the chill of night. He dispels the blackness. He keeps me safe from the sabre-toothed one and all other animals. I have tamed the wolf dog too. They are my companions now. I have won me a name. I am Og, your son Og, and I have come back to protect[155] you, to care for you, to hunt for you, and to fight for a place in the sun for you. It is well.”

“It is well. If this be true then I am happy. If you are my son, you have been reborn to me. You have been reborn from the fire. Og, Son of Fire, are you, and my son, too. And now if this be true help me, my son, up the cliff to my miserable cave, where we may talk together.”

And Og reached a strong arm under that of his father, once the mighty hunter, Wab, and together they climbed the narrow trail up the cliff. And the wolf dogs followed slowly after.



Many heads bobbed out of cliff-side doorways and many curious and suspicious pairs of eyes watched Og and his father Wab climb the narrow and winding trail up the cliff’s face to the miserable, dingy little cave that had been allotted to the blind man, because he was unable to fight for a bigger and better one. Strange grunting calls were passed from one doorway to another too and Og understood them all. He knew too that those who called were worried and frightened; indeed he could see the troubled expressions on some of the faces and he noted with interest that many trembled, and each cave mouth as he passed grew empty, the inmates taking to the farthest and darkest corners for they feared him and his fire brand, and his tiger skin that he had draped boastfully over his shoulders until it hung like a cape with the long tail dragging on the ground behind him.

It was like a triumphal procession for Og and[157] he felt proud and elated over the whole affair. He was a man. He was a great man. He was important. Even Gog, the grizzled old leader, shrank from him with a grunt and his children scuttled into the cave like rabbits as he passed. Gog’s wife, too, whimpered and clung to her husband.

Og could not help but grunt ominously and scowl as he passed the doorway of the old chief, for he remembered, as did many others, unwarranted cuffs and kicks that the savage old man had dealt out because of his strength and his position in the tribe. Gog, still the valiant old fighter that he had always been, scowled and growled in return and muttered ugly things under his breath, but still he shrank from this hairy one who was clothed in the skin of Sabre Tooth and carried a mysterious and fearful wand of fire.

When Og and Wab reached the crevice in the cliff that the blind hunter called home Og looked about with a frown on his face.

“So this is all that Wab, the mighty hunter, has to live in; Wab, my father, the man who gave his eyes to the Tiger to protect others. It shall not be so. I, Og, Son of Fire, speak.” (Og’s chest[158] puffed out slightly and he swaggered his shoulders just a little as he proclaimed the last.)

“It is mean enough as a cave,” spoke Wab, “but who am I now that I should have better quarters? I am of less use than a woman. I cannot hunt. I am blind. I am a handicap to the tribe. Soon I must die unless——”

“Die? Never while I am by your side,” stormed Og.

“You will bring me food, then, O Son of Fire?”

“Yes, and food such as you have never eaten, O my Father. Food from the Fire. Food that is tender and brown and pleasant to the taste. Food that the Fire Demon has laid his hands on.”

Wab shivered and looked frightened.

“Nay, such food is only for those who have been reborn of fire. It frightens me. I cannot want to eat it. Bring me only bloody food that drips. Such as I used to eat much of when still my eyes were whole. And bring it soon. For many daylights and many nights I have not tasted food that drips. I, Wab, have crawled around on fours like a rat seeking scraps that others have thrown to me, old scraps that have laid in the sun till they smell and bear maggots, old bones that have been sucked and gnawed clean. Such has[159] been my food until now my strength is the strength of a baby. Soon I must die. When I live in night always then I must crawl off among the rocks and stop trying to live.”

“Then you can see a little?” cried Og, peering into the old man’s face.

“Yes, I see as at nightfall with this one eye. I can see the sun, and trees, and rocks dimly. I can see you as a shadow. But this fearsome wand you carry, that I heard others chatter about when you came, I can see. It licks out like the tongue of a serpent. It has a terrible breath, and a stench more than that of the creeping animal. It frightens me.”

“Fear it not, my Father. It is my servant; my weapon; my friend. I am glad that you can see its licking tongues for then you will soon know it better. Behold, I will make it warm you. It will fill this miserable cave with its breath and you will like it. You will sit in it and nod as you do in the sunlight. Then, while you nod, I will find food for us both and we will eat together and be happy. And after that a great cave, a cave that fits both Wab and Og and his Fire, and hairy men shall speak of us in whispers and fear us when we roar.”


Saying this, Og began to gather together wood and soon in the doorway of the cave a fine fire was crackling while Wab the hunter crouched in the corner and listened to the crackling sound, and smelled the smoke, and saw faintly the licking tongues, and tried to be brave in spite of his natural fear.



True to his word Og found a cave that was big and roomy. It was not an easy task, for most of the pleasant caves had been taken. So too had all the caves that were deemed safe, for the hairy men liked caves that were well up from the valley bottom so that prowling beasts could not enter unawares. Traditional caution made Og realize that this was the best kind of abode, too, and he was sorely tempted to use the awe in which he was held to good advantage and crowd out some family that had an unusually desirable cave. That was how it was done among hairy folk. The strongest and most ferocious men occupied the best caves. Og particularly liked the fine, big, roomy cave that Gog possessed, and he was of a mind to walk into it with a fire brand in either hand and demand it.

But with all his confidence there was something that made him hesitate. Perhaps it was the vivid recollections that he retained of the old leader at[162] his best, or worst. He was a savage old brute, strong, ugly, treacherous and merciless, yet withal brave as a tiger. Og knew that although Gog stood in awe of his fire weapons the old warrior would fight for his cave home until he no longer had strength to lift his bone-crushing stone hammer. And Og, as courageous as he was, had no stomach for a fight of that sort, especially one of his own provoking, for instinctively he knew that right was on the side of the defender; and Og had somehow sensed that without right to fortify courage he could not fight with valiance.

And so he put aside his covetous desires and searched longer for a home cave. There were several spacious holes in the cliff down near the valley floor. All were big and roomy, yet not too big for comfort; but all had broad doorways, which Og knew was not desirable, for the bigger the doorway the larger the prowler that could enter.

But he found one that was so desirable; so handy to the spring of water from which the hairy men drank, so near the swiftly flowing mountain torrent that ran through the valley, and so near the council rock and the flat, well-tramped stretch of earth where the hairy people’s children played[163] when danger was not near, that he felt a desire to take possession of it despite the fact that it had a huge doorway through which even a hairy mammoth could conveniently enter. That was the reason why it was not already occupied.

Finally, after much hard thinking which gave him a headache, he decided; and, carrying his stone hammers, his knife and his tiger skin down to it, he spread the great skin on the floor and returned to the cave higher up the cliff to help Wab down.

When he led the blind man into the cave and explained to him what cave it was and where it was located, Wab shook his head and smiled sadly.

“Og, where is your caution? This is the great cave, shunned by all the hairy people. No one would think to try to live here. When we came here first it was used as a council cave. We gathered here for council sometimes, but the great cave tiger crept up the valley one day, saw us all inside, and rushed in among us. He killed two and dragged them away before we could climb the cliffs to safety. And so we never even used it for a council cave again. It has a doorway so big that it will let all the night monsters in.”

“I have thought of that,” said Og; “but we[164] have a door guard that they cannot pass. See, I will build a big fire here. That is protection. No one will dare pass it, not even Sabre Tooth were he still hunting the valley.”

“Ah, perhaps,” said the hunter doubtfully, but he sat down on the tiger skin and watched Og build his fire.

Others watched him, too. The whole tribe was amazed at Og’s daring. They chattered and shook their heads and made humorous faces at each other which was their way of saying that Og was either a fool or more powerful than any among them.

But they soon found that the last was the truth, for Og made his home in the big cave and burned his fire steadily night and day, Wab heaping wood upon it while his son was off in the forest hunting by himself or with the others, for the hairy men hunted in gangs more often than they wandered into the forest alone. And while he lived there in the old council cave, three times a great leopard visited the cliffs and stole women and children from the caves, yet though his cave was the easiest to approach, it was never visited, and the hairy folk knew that it was all because of Og’s fire.

Once too, Og, busy among the rocks, as he forever[165] seemed to be when not off hunting, was surprised by the appearance of a woolly rhinoceros, a great, shaggy monster with tiny, wicked, bloodshot eyes and two great horns that grew out of his nose. The beast came upon Og quite unexpectedly while he was chipping away at a stone with another stone, in full sight of all the cliff dwellers. The first that he knew of the beast’s presence was when he was startled by a harsh, grunting snort and a thunderous stamping of feet. Og looked up to see the great animal staring at him and shaking his head menacingly.

With a cry of warning that sent the cliff people scattering and scrambling up toward their caves, Og dropped his stones and turned and fled as swiftly as his legs could carry him. The rhinoceros with a snort of rage charged after him, galloping over the ground with such heavy strides that Og could almost feel the earth tremble.

Og, the fear of death on his face, raced headlong toward his big cave, and the woolly one came after him so swiftly that it seemed as if it were only a matter of a few more steps before he would hook that vicious double horn into Og’s back and toss him skyward and trample his remains among the rocks when he fell.


But Og reached his cave first and with a yell of triumph leaped over the fire that was blazing in the doorway, then, turning, he hurled defiance at the woolly one. The rhinoceros plunged on until he saw the fire; then, with a frightened snort and much sliding and scrambling, he stopped short not more than his own length away from the blazing fagots. For a moment he stood there irresolute, red-eyed with rage, yet not daring to advance a step farther. And as he stood there Og seized one burning stick after another and hurled them against his bulging flanks until he turned tail and went squealing away, very much like an overgrown pig.

Then it was that the hairy folk knew the power of Og’s weapons. They understood too why he and his father were not afraid to live in the big cave with the wide doorway. And they were all properly impressed. They could see that he had a powerful ally in the Fire Demon, and many of them feared him more and avoided him all they could.

But there were others—thinkers, perhaps—who did not avoid him. Instead they curried friendship with him by bringing him meat and pretty stones. They sought every opportunity to visit[167] his cave if only to chatter with him or with his father, Wab. And always they sat within the circle of heat cast by the fire and reveled in its warmth. They enjoyed this basking, and they enjoyed watching the flickering tongues of flames—at a safe distance, of course. They delighted, too, in watching Og or Wab as they worked about the fire, feeding it or cooking their meat over it.

Perhaps this last operation interested them the most, for always while Og was cooking a delicious, appetizing odor that made one’s mouth water emanated from the big doorway. And the visitor could not help but think that Og feasted on food of the gods. Many of them brought fresh meat and gave it to him just to be able to smell the appetizing aroma that it gave off as he cooked it. And Wab, as he witnessed this and ate of the choice gifts to his son, could not help but think back on former days when they had cast him out and thrown him polished bones and decayed scraps. And as he thought he could not help but marvel at the greatness of his son.

There were some among these visitors who became really friendly with Og. He liked them and encouraged their friendship and gave them scraps of cooked meat so that they could enjoy[168] his feasting with him. For some reason Og found a keen delight in doing this and he always watched the expressions with interest when they pulled apart the steaming morsels with their fingers and teeth and tasted the flavor that the fire had given the meat. Every one of his visitors enjoyed the taste of cooked meat and they all told of the delight among their friends until it was not long before Og was besought by scores to cook meat for them so that they too could try the pleasure of this new-found delight.

Their number grew and grew and Og did the best that he could to favor all of them, but he noticed with interest that never once did Gog appear at the fire. The old leader was often to be seen stalking by when others were gathered about his cave door, but he pretended not to take notice of Og and his fire.

The hairy boy soon guessed that the old savage was jealous of his power and his popularity and it was not long before he knew that he had guessed right, for through his friends Og heard of the talk that Gog was making among the hairy people. It was talk that even worried Og a little for the old leader whispered that Og was in league with evil monsters and the dead. Og did not know just[169] what he meant but the suggestion had a sinister sound. So far the hairy folk had not progressed far enough up the scale of intelligence to even think of witchcraft and secret alliances with the spirit world. But they did know that death was a sinister thing and that one who had died passed through an experience that was beyond their comprehension and very uncanny. For a living being to be allied with those who were dead was a fearsome thing even to think about. And most of the hairy people remembered that he had been left behind when the tribe had fled from the wrath of the volcano. Perhaps he had been dead and had come back from the dead world again.

Some of Og’s friends dropped away from him when Gog began to make such talk. But others of stouter heart, who had eaten much of Og’s cooked meat and had been closer to him, remained loyal and denied Og’s fellowship with the dead. And they were the stronger and more intelligent men of the tribe. Indeed they perceived that Og had a great deal that was good about him and they understood too that his control over the Fire Monster could bring much good to the clan if only Og could be persuaded to be even more generous than he had been.


They talked thus among themselves, and they talked so much that soon their talk took on the nature of a clan council and they gathered about the council rock, squatted in a big circle while first one and then another stood upon the rock and talked to the rest; talked and told them how good Og was and what a great benefit to the tribe he possessed in his control of fire. They told of the cooked meat over and over again, and they told of how the great leopard had left Og’s cave unmolested, and how Og with his fire brands had driven off the woolly rhinoceros. Again and again they told these things for that was the only way they knew of arguing their case and carrying home their point to the listeners squatted in a circle about the great rock.

Og did not gather at the council. He noted too that Gog was not there either. But both watched the proceedings from their cave doorways; Gog with much jealous grunting and angry, guttural sounds to his wife; Og with a strange mixture of pride and selfishness; pride that he should be so great as to have the clan assemble in council about him, yet selfish, for he knew that the speakers of the clan were trying to work up the people to the point where they would come to him and ask him[171] to give to them the most precious thing he possessed: the fire secret.

The hairy boy knew full well why the council was being held, and as he watched he wondered just what he should do when the speakers came to him with gifts of meat and stone hammers and asked him to share his fire secret with the tribe. The secret meant much to him, for it made of him one apart from the rest. It meant that he possessed the strongest weapon that a hairy man could have. It meant that he had warmth and comfort greater than any others. Why should he share it? It was in the hairy boy to think of himself first.

Yet somehow this, though, did not seem comforting. There was the council gathered. He had made a discovery that would benefit all of them. They realized it. Soon they would come and ask him for his help. All this was flattering. They thought well of him. They would still think well of him if he gave them what they asked. But they would not think well of him—he would not be so great—if he refused. They would say evil things of him as Gog had done. They would believe the old leader’s suggestions. They would avoid him. He would have no friends to gather[172] about his fire so they could all make full belly talk together and feel lazy and drowsy in the warmth of his fire.

Even to think of the hairy people feeling ill disposed toward him hurt Og’s pride. He did not want them to think him selfish and mean. It would make him feel better to have them say among themselves, “Og is kind. Og is good. Og is a great man.”

This was the elemental problem that tumbled about in Og’s brain and soon made his head ache until he felt as though it would split. Time and again he dismissed it with a grunt of disgust and decided as he watched the council that when the talkers came with their gifts he would say no and act ugly. But each time he came to that decision back trooped unpleasant suggestions that made him think and think again. Sometimes he wished that he never had learned to think at all. He looked at the wolf cubs stretched out beside the fire and wished that he had the mental comfort that was theirs.

But still he continued to ponder as he watched the council. And then, just as the circle was breaking up and the talkers formed in a group with their gifts in hand ready to come to his cave,[173] Og solved the whole situation with a pleasant grunt.

He watched the five big hairy men, all his friends, come toward him. As they approached he stood up, and taking the tiger skin from the floor, threw it about his shoulders. Why he did this he was not certain. It gave him a feeling of being bigger, greater of stature and stronger. And so he stood there until the speakers had approached to the other side of his fire and had laid down their chunks of dripping meat, their stone hammers, and their polished bones and pretty stones.

Then one spoke.

“O Og, the Hairy People ask it. They say ‘Og is great. Og is good. He has a friend in the Fire Monster. He knows the secret.’ They ask ‘Will you, O great Og, give all of us the fire so that we can protect our caves, cook our food and be as comfortable as you are?’ O Og, I ask for them. Will you give us fires of our own?”

Og stretched himself to his full height and looked at them very solemnly for a long time, as if he were thinking. But he was not thinking of whether he would give them the fire or not. He[174] was thinking of how pleasant it was that he should have all the strong men of the tribe asking a favor of him. It was pleasant, indeed.

Presently he spoke.

“My friend the fire I will give to my friends the hairy people. They shall have fires of their own. From this fire in front of my home cave I will build other fires. Tell the hairy people each to go to their home cave. Build many sticks in the doorway as you have seen me build mine. Then will Og come with fire from this fire and light each of them. All the hairy people who wish it shall have a fire of their own. Tell them to feed it well with sticks through daylight and darkness, for if it goes out and I have to bring fire again I will take away with me pay, meat perhaps or a stone hammer or something I desire. It is well. Go. Tell the people.” And Og dismissed them with a wave of his hand for he was indeed feeling big and pompous and very important.

The speakers left with much grinning and grunting among themselves.

“Og is great. Og is good. Og is kind,” they said, and Og, hearing them, felt a warm glow surge over him. They thought well of him. He[175] was proud. He was happy. So too was Wab, his father, who sat a little way off and listened with many a proud grunt of satisfaction.

And so the hairy people at the council rock heard Og’s message from the speakers. They scattered from the council grounds and each began to gather great bundles of sticks which they carried up the face of the cliff to the doorway of each dwelling.

And when evening came on, Og, with great dignity, and with the tiger skin across his shoulders, set forth from his cave with a torch in each hand. And when the hairy folk saw him coming they raised a great shout, and watched him as he went from doorway to doorway and ignited each pile of sticks. Og was The Fire Lighter to the tribe then. A personage, indeed, something between chief and priest he seemed to the hairy folk, who greeted him with loud acclaim.

And as nightfall settled over the valley of the hairy folk the cliff side sparkled with many lights, for before each cave burned a cheery fire; before each cave save that of Gog, the chief. He, stubbornly jealous, had not built a pile of sticks before his door, and when Og saw this he passed by.


Thus did Og give fire to the race of hairy men, giving it generously, but saving for himself the secret he had discovered: the secret of the fire stones.



Gog was a strong man. He was a fighter, fierce and brave and able, otherwise he could not have been the leader of the clan. But he was a thinker, too; at least his brain was developed in proportion to his strong body, and he could reason more clearly than the average man of the caves. And he was terribly jealous of Og because of his wisdom and the popularity he had won among the hairy folk because of his gift of fire.

Gog saw that the people of the tribe looked more to Og for guidance than they did to him now. This was a terrible blow to the old leader’s pride. Day after day he sat in the doorway of his cave and muttered and mumbled to himself, and sometimes he crunched his short, strong yellow teeth, so angry did he get at the thoughts of this young hairy one, hardly more than a boy, who was undermining his position as leader of the tribe.


With a single blow of his stone hammer Gog could have settled all this. Time and again he was moved to do the deed that would put an end to this boy of the Fire. But each time he changed his mind. For one thing he feared Og’s weapon, the fire torch. For another he realized that the boy’s popularity was steadily growing; that he had a great many friends who would fight for him now, and while he felt equal to any one—yes, any two or three—of the clan’s best fighters, he did not have the courage to face an uprising of all of Og’s friends, which he feared might be the situation if he should kill or injure the hairy boy.

Gog thought and thought of how he might revenge himself on Og. And as he thought, treachery began to take root. He remembered Wab, Og’s father. In other days Wab had also been a thorn in Gog’s foot, so to speak. He had been a brave man and a mighty hunter; a better hunter than Gog had ever been. He had been a brave fighter, too, as Gog remembered, but in this Gog was better. Yet in council meetings Wab had sometimes ridiculed him. And in boasting Wab had often made Gog’s stories of prowess small and trifling. Wab had laughed at him more than once. Several times they had come to blows and[179] fought for hours until both were exhausted, and, although Gog had always had a little the better of each encounter, Wab’s defeat was never without glory among certain members of the tribe. Gog and Wab had always been rivals for honors among the hairy men.

But all that had passed with Wab’s encounter with the cave tiger. The old hunter had been made helpless and as such almost an outcast, for one who was helpless among the hairy people could expect little in the way of assistance from others. Life was too hard even for the best of them, and they had all that they could do to look after themselves and little to share with others. And so Wab had been removed as an obstacle in the path of Gog’s leadership and the savage old warrior had gone on being the head man of the clan until Og came.

Now Og was caring for Wab. Through Wab, Gog could hurt Og; of this the fighter felt certain. His brain took many daylights and many darknesses to conceive the plan, and more than once his head hurt so from thinking that he was almost moved to give up the idea entirely.

But gradually he worked out a treacherous scheme. First he must make peace with Og.[180] Be friendly to him. This would not be entirely distasteful for the present at least, for Gog was more eager than any of the other hairy men to possess a fire of his own, and he regretted exceedingly that he had not smothered his pride to the extent of building a pile of sticks in front of his cave when Og had given all the other hairy folk flames.

That was the plan. He would go to Og and pretend he was sorry he had been so stiff in the back as to refuse his fire. He would ask for a firebrand. He would visit Og’s cave again and again. He would even talk to Wab. He would talk of old times. Of hunting and roaming in the forest. He knew that Wab must long for such sport once more. He would make friends with Wab, and one day when Og was not around he would take Wab off into the forest on his last hunt. Wab would never come back. Og perhaps would go to find him. And while Og was gone something might happen. Who could tell? Perhaps Og would never come back either.

Crafty old Gog was so full of pride after he had worked out such an elaborate scheme that he felt Og to be nothing but a boy when it came to pitting his wits against such brains as he possessed.[181] He grinned silently as he thought how really clever he was to think all these things out, even though it had taken him weeks and many headaches.

So Gog put his plan into action, and one day, with a freshly killed goat over his shoulder, he appeared in the doorway of Og’s cave. But Og was not there. Wab was sitting by the fire. The old hunter could see Gog only faintly, but his keen old nose could scent the fresh goat blood.

“Who are you? The step sounded like Gog. Is it you, Gog, come to make life miserable for a helpless man?” asked Wab.

“It is I, Gog,” said the treacherous one, “but I come as a friend and bring goat as a present. I seek Og. From him I would get fire. My back was stiff. I would not take the flames when he offered them. But I am wise now. I see my mistake. I come seeking it.”

“Your back was always stiff, Gog,” said Wab, still with a spark of the old fire.

“Yes. But that was wrong. I am wiser now, and more friendly. I guess I am getting old and tired. I wish that I had nothing to do but sit in the warmth as you do and be fed by my sons. The hunt is hard on a man growing gray in the face.”


“The hunt! Oh, Gog, you speak as a man who knows little of the misery of sitting and remembering; only remembering, never doing. The hunt! Oh, Gog, I would give much to feel a stone hammer once more in my hands, to stalk slyly through the long grass and creep upon some foolish goat. That is life. Remembering only is next to death. Come sit a while and tell me of the hunt.”

And so Gog sat beside Wab and talked, and Wab was pleased; so pleased that when Og came back to the home cave the warrior and the hunter were as old friends and Og looked at them and wondered. Gog asked for the fire, and, because of Wab, Og gave it to him; and the savage old leader went back to his cave with a strange smile on his ugly, scarred face, for he knew that he had laid the plans for his treachery wisely.

He went again and again to Og’s cave and always he talked of the hunt with the old man. He told him about the goats in the long grass in the meadow down the valley, and he told him of the wild horses that were passing in droves over the plains beyond the mountain ranges. He talked of old hunting trips when Og was but a baby and Wab was the mightiest hunter of them[183] all, and this thrilled and pleased the old man and made Og happy, too, for he found a strong interest in listening to the tales. He preferred to listen rather than to talk, for in listening he learned many things that were new and useful but when he talked he gathered no knowledge.

In this way Gog soon found himself on really friendly terms with the boy and the man, and after a time neither of them suspected him of treachery and he was welcome in the big cave in the base of the cliff, by Og and Wab at least. But the other occupants of the cave, the wolf-dogs, never reached that point. Indeed, they mistrusted Gog from the first, and they always growled and showed their teeth when they heard his footsteps.

This caused Og to wonder a great deal, for he placed great confidence in the instinct of these animals. Yet time went on and Gog grew more and more friendly and came more often until Og was thoroughly disarmed.

And then one day Gog came to the home cave of Og and Wab when the hairy boy was away on a meat quest. It was planned that way, for Gog had been watching the boy for several days and waiting for just this opportunity. With his biggest stone hammer clutched in his powerful hand[184] he stood in the doorway of Og’s cave and spoke to Wab.

“Oh, lucky one! You can sit by the fire and dream while others hunt for you. Gog in his old age has still to go hunting his own food and food for his children. My sons, thankless wretches, have caves of their own to provide for, and I have only babies home now who cannot do anything but squall and eat.”

“No, Gog, you are the lucky one. You can still hunt your own meat. Wab wishes that he could do likewise, but he is doomed to sit here by the fire and get fat and lazy. This is harder than hunting.”

“Why not go, then? You can still see the daylight, and with a strong companion you might still stalk the goat.”

“I have thought so, too. I might still feel the thrill of the hunt. But Og says no. He tells me to rest and be content to dream and grow fat. He will not take me. If he only knew how hard it is for me to do nothing, perhaps he would take me with him sometimes.”

“Oh, Og is too cautious! Come; go with me. I will not go far. I am still strong and my eyes[185] are keen. I will see for you. No harm will come to you.”

A strange, wistful expression flashed across Wab’s face for a moment. Then he became greatly excited.

“Would you take me, Gog, and bring me back safely?” he exclaimed, getting to his feet.

“And why not? Are we not friends now, Wab?” said the treacherous Gog.

“Oh, if I could go but once! It would make me happy again. It would give me fresh thoughts to dream about. Surely it would do me no harm,” he said wistfully, thinking of Og.

“Harm! No harm shall come to you while Gog is with you,” said the old leader boastfully, yet smiling slyly as he thought of the plans he had laid.

“Good! Then I will go,” said Wab; “but look first for me and see that Og is not near. He will not want me to go if he sees me.”

But Gog had already made certain of this and he assured Wab that his son was nowhere near.

Wab, atremble with excitement, took one of Og’s well-shaped stone hammers and a flint knife that his son had made for him, and thus armed he came out of the cave to Gog’s side.


Almost stealthily they stole away from the caves and into the forest, for Gog did not want many of the cave dwellers to see him taking Wab into the forest where the partly blind hunter could so easily be lost.

With Gog leading and Wab following behind, keeping close to the treacherous old chief by watching him as best he could with his dimmed eye and listening with alert ears to his footsteps, the two hairy men progressed with remarkable swiftness through the thick and dark forest. Occasionally Gog grunted directions or fragments of conversation.

“On the plains of the valley, toward the warm lands, I am told are herds of horses. It is many days since I have tasted horse flesh. With the once great hunter, Wab, beside me, it would be pleasant to hunt the horse.”

Wab could not help feeling a sense of pride at being referred to again as the great hunter, yet sober judgment made him reply with caution.

“Do not be misled, Gog. Wab is no longer the great hunter he was when he had two eyes. And remember the horse is swift of foot and keen of vision. Two good men can scarcely expect to be[187] successful in hunting them, so I fear we will stand small chance.”

Gog grunted in disgust.

“Times have changed since you hunted last, Wab. We are craftier than the horse and keener witted. I am a thinker. Trust me to find a way to bring one down when the time comes. I can do it. Come; we will go over the mountains to the broad plains. We will be back by nightfall, each with all the dripping horse flesh we can carry.”

And Wab, partly because he had to follow Gog and partly because a horse hunt appealed to him, still followed.

Soon they began to climb the slope of the mountains to the southward. Up they mounted, Gog picking pathways through the forest that clothed the heights. The traveling was hard for Wab, because he had grown fat and soft of flesh since he had been spending most of his time sitting in the warmth of the camp fire.

For a long time they toiled upward and very little in the way of conversation passed between them save occasional grunts, for each needed to spare their lungs of extra strain. But soon they mounted the rolling summit where they could look outward across the wide pleasant valley and the[188] plain beneath; at least Gog observed the scene and imparted what he saw to his partly blind companion.

But midway in his description of all that he beheld, he paused and grunted.

“What is it?” demanded Wab, sensing that his companion had seen something that he had not located before.

“It is strange forms moving on the edge of the forest down the mountain here below us. They are not horses. They climb in the trees. Ah, I know now. The tree people. Ho! ho! the tree people. Wab, we are in luck. Here is sport, indeed. We will make war on these great cowards,” exclaimed Gog viciously, his fighting instinct dominating every other emotion or desire.

“Make war on them? Why?” asked Wab. “We do not want their forest. We do not care to drive them out of here as we did out of the valley of the volcano so long ago. Why make war? We are hunters now.”

“Ho! ho! Why make war? Just for the love of it, perhaps. Just to hear them squeal and to see them run. They are great cowards, afraid of hairy men. We two can put the whole tribe to flight. Come; it will be great sport. Think of[189] the skulls we can smash! Think of the blood we can spill,” and the savage old fighter grinned wickedly and, grasping his stone hammer menacingly, he started down the mountain.

And Wab followed, but not without a strange presentiment that all was not well. He knew that he would make a poor adversary in any conflict.



Og, tired but triumphant, with a dead goat slung over his shoulders and the wolf dogs trotting at his heels, returned to the home cave just before nightfall, as all of the cave dwelling people did, for not even the bravest was willing to be caught far from the protection of the colony when darkness came on.

But as he approached the cave he experienced a sensation of fear and dread. He knew instinctively that something was wrong, for the fire in the doorway had burned down to just a smouldering heap of dying embers. Og knew that Wab would never have been so inattentive unless something had happened.

Hastily he went forward calling, but as he entered the big cave his heart fell, for Wab was not about. He noted instantly that one of his stone hammers was gone from its accustomed place and that Wab’s cherished flint knife had disappeared[191] from the cleft in the rock wall where he always kept it.

The strange demeanor of the wolf dogs added a great deal to the discomfort that these observations caused him, for so soon as they entered the cave they bristled and growled and stepped about in stiff-legged anger just as they always did when Gog visited the cave. They sniffed at the ground, too, and trotted a little way from the cave in the direction of the forest.

Og could almost read the problem, but just then two hairy men, Big Face and Crooked Feet, passed, going toward the spring, and when they saw Og they told him of how they had seen Wab go off hunting with Gog that morning.

In an instant the whole situation dawned on Og. Gog had taken his helpless father off into the forest and Og instinctively knew that treachery of some sort or another was afoot.

He heaped sticks onto the fire and sat down for a few moments to think things over. Night was coming on. The forest would be a terrible place to travel in at night. But he thought too of his father and the terror that must come upon a man all but blind who might be left to wander about in the forest alone.


That thought was enough for Og. He must find his father. He must risk any dangers or any of the night terrors to find Wab. Hastily he made two fire brands and ignited them. Then, arming himself also with stone hammer and a long flint knife, he called to the wolf dogs. The animals he quickly made to understand just what was wanted of them, and when they did know their mission they bounded forward despite the fact that they were tired, and with noses to the ground followed the trail of Wab and Gog, while Og swung along behind them at a remarkably swift pace despite the fact that he too was tired from his day’s efforts.

Into the black fastness of the forest they plunged, their only light being the glimmer from Og’s torches. Despite his courage and the importance of his mission, Og could not stifle the natural, instinctive fear that possessed him as he dodged in and out among the trees, his eyes and ears alert for any signs of danger.

Southward they swung toward the mountain range that cut their valley off from the valley of the warm lands beyond, and presently they began to mount the thickly wooded slopes. Strange night noises they heard aplenty. To most of these[193] the wolf dogs paid little heed, but when from afar they heard the terrifying roar of a cave tiger and the answering challenge of some wandering cave leopard, the hair on their backs bristled. So did that of Og, and he actually trembled with fear despite the stoutness of his heart. This traveling at night through the forest was a fearsome thing to do, and time and again he was tempted to seek the shelter of some huge bowlder, and build a great fire beside which to spend the remainder of the night.

But the thoughts of his father somewhere here in the terrible forest, and without fire (for Og knew that Wab, or Gog either, would never travel with a fire in his hand the way he did), spurred the hairy boy on to move faster and put aside the desire to build a big protective fire at least until he had found his father.

Upward on the mountain side they climbed, the wolf dogs following closely the trail that Gog and Wab had taken. On and on they pushed, soon panting and out of breath. Og’s lungs were pumping, too, and he sucked in air in great gasps; but still he climbed and kept pace with the hurrying dogs.

Soon they reached the gently rolling summit,[194] where if it had been daylight they could have looked into the valley below. But as they halted there a brief space to catch their breaths, Og gave a loud and startled grunt, for from below him, and in the direction the wolf dogs were straining to go, rolled up to him a loud, booming sound. Og had little difficulty in recognizing it as the war noise of his old captors, the tree people. And this all added to his feeling of alarm, for he could tell by the volume of the sound that there were many ape-like men below there in the valley and they were very angry.

If Og and the wolf dogs had hurried before now, they fairly raced through the blackness of the forest. Down the slope they crashed, the booming noise growing louder and nearer at every step. And as they plunged forward both Og and the wolf dogs grew more and more excited, until presently the hairy boy found himself beating his chest with one clenched hand and roaring at the top of his voice while the dogs set up a fierce barking that added to the general din of the occasion.

Suddenly the booming sound, which now seemed close at hand, stopped and Og became aware of big forms swinging among the branches of the[195] trees. Sticks came pelting down out of the blackness, too, and he could see myriads of green eyes glowing at him and he could hear teeth gnashed and clicked together. Still he rushed forward until presently he broke into a clearing where was massed a horde of milling, chattering tree people.

His coming, however, caused panic and consternation among them. They saw his flaming firebrand and they scattered and fell back. And the parting of the mass left a lane open that extended to a huge rock where, with their backs to this wall, stood Gog and Wab, each with a blood-smeared stone hammer clutched in his hand while before them laid a pile of writhing bodies of tree people. Og could see at a glance that it had been a terrible battle and that Gog and Wab were all but done for. Indeed, Gog, dripping blood from a hundred terrible wounds, staggered and swayed as he stood there, and Wab had to lean against the rock for support.

At Og’s coming the conflict ceased for most of the ape people scattered and took to trees where they stared down, chattering loudly and gnashing their teeth in anger and fear. Og strode across the bodies of the fallen ones and, standing there[196] beside Wab, his burning torch held high, glared about.

By the light of the flickering flames he could see great, long-armed, crouching forms all about. Some of these he recognized as the powerful fighters of Scar Face. And presently he discerned the old fighter himself, coming slowly toward him, grimacing and chattering and holding up his hands as a sign of peace. Og beheld him with interest and not a little pleasure, for often he had thought of him and wondered whether he had been able to escape the terrible forest fire that he had started when he stole a firebrand and ran off into the forest with it.

By grunts and signs, Og showed his peaceful intention too, and presently Scar Face communicated the fact that the hairy boy had not come to wage war on them, for the chattering and scolding ceased and slowly some began to approach, while others, the trouble over, scattered among the trees and became lost in the night.

Og turned his attention then to Gog and Wab, both of whom had collapsed and now lay huddled and forlorn at the base of the big bowlder. Eagerly Og searched his father for signs of life, for he feared that the old hunter had passed on[197] because of the many wounds he had received, and it was with great relief that he discovered still a strong heart beat.

Gog, however, had fared far worse than Wab. Fierce and terrible as a fighter, and valiant in battle too, the old leader, his treachery forgotten in the lust of combat, had carried the brunt of the fight from the very beginning, wielding a mighty hammer and crushing skulls right and left. The consequence was that the tree people had attacked him with utmost fierceness, as scores of bleeding wounds testified. When Og examined him he found the old leader all but dead. Indeed, even as the hairy boy leaned over him, Gog’s heart stopped beating and Og turned from him with a shudder. The fierce old warrior had passed on to the land of dead men.

By signs and grunts Og made Scar Face understand that he wanted to carry the unconscious Wab back over the mountain and into the valley of the hairy people, and when the tree man understood he was quick to lend his tremendous strength and between them they carried the limp form of Og’s father up the slope to the top of the mountain. There Scar Face refused to go farther, so Og shouldered the burden alone and picked his[198] way slowly down the rocky, wooded slope, with the wolf dogs, tails drooping, at his heels. It was a hard journey for the tired hairy boy, and day was breaking over the eastern mountain tops before he reached the council grounds and the friendly shelter of the big home cave, where he could rest once more and care for the many wounds of his father.