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Part I Chapter 7 Savage Pellucidar by Edgar Rice Burroughs

The four Sarians at the windlass wound the balloon down to earth, and held it there while others removed the stone ballast. Everyone clustered around, examining it and heaping praise on Abner Perry. And Perry was so proud and happy that he felt like doing a little dance.

“And now,” said Dian, “I shall go up.”

“Perhaps you had better wait until David comes,” counselled Perry. “Something might happen.”

“It took all that rock up,” argued Dian, “and I do not weigh as much as the rock.”

“That is not the point,” said Perry. “It would take you up, all right; but I don’t think you should go until after David gets back. As I said before, something might happen.”

“Well, I am going,” said Dian.

“What if I forbade it?” asked Perry.

“I should go anyhow. Am I not Empress of Pellucidar?” She smiled as she said it; but Perry knew that, Empress of Pellucidar or not, Dian the Beautiful would go up in the balloon if she wished to.

“Very well,” he said; “I’ll let you go up a little way.”

“You’ll let me go up to the end of the rope,” she said. “I want to see if David is coming home.”

“Very well,” said Perry, resignedly. “Get in.”

The other Sarians clustered around Dian as she clambered into the basket. Here was a new experience far beyond anything that they had ever imagined, and Dian the Beautiful was about to have it. They all envied her. They made little jokes and told her what to look for when she got up to the sun. They asked her all the questions outer Earth people might have asked under similar circumstances—all but one: nobody asked her if she were afraid. One does not ask a Sarian if he is afraid.

Perry signalled to the four men at the windlass and the balloon commenced to rise. Dian the Beautiful clapped her hands happily. “Faster!” she called to the four men at the windlass.

“Slower!” said Perry. “Take it easy.”

Up and up went the great gas bag. A little breeze caught it, and it swayed to and fro. Dian felt very small up there all alone with that huge thing billowing above her.

“Can you see David?” some one shouted.

“Not yet,” shouted Dian, “but I can see the Lural Az. Send me up higher!”

Soon almost all the rope was out, and Perry was glad; for then he could start pulling the balloon down. He was anxious to see Dian the Beautiful on terra firma again. Perhaps Perry had a premonition.

The terrible creatures crept closer and closer to Hodon and O-aa. They were men, naked black men with long, prehensile tails. Their brows protruded above small, close-set eyes; and there was practically no head above the brows. Short, stiff black hair grew straight out from their skulls; but their outstanding feature was a pair of tusks that curved down from the upper jaw to below the chin.

“I wish,” O-aa was saying, “that you would go away and leave me alone. I do not like you. If my brother—”

It was then that the creatures charged, roaring like beasts. With hands and tails, they seized Hodon and O-aa; and the two were helpless in their grasp. Chattering and jabbering among themselves they dragged their prisoners off into the forest.

Hodon tried to talk to them; but they did not understand him, nor could he understand them. They were very rough, slapping and cuffing their captives without provocation.

“Now we shall die,” said O-aa.

“What makes you think so?” asked Hodon. “If they had intended to kill us, they could have done so when they attacked us.”

“Do you not know what they are?” asked O-aa.

“No,” said Hodon. “I have never seen nor heard of such creatures before.”

“They are the sabertooth men,” she said. Of course she did not use the word saber. What she said was, roughly, the taragtooth men—the tarag being the sabertooth tiger. “They are man-eaters,” she added for good measure.

“You mean they are taking us home to eat?” demanded Hodon.

“Exactly,” said O-aa.

“If you had come with me long ago, this would not have happened to you,” said Hodon.

“Oh, there are worse things than being eaten by a sabertooth man,” rejoined O-aa.

“Maybe you are right,” agreed Hodon; “having to hear about your family, for instance.”

“My brother is a mighty fighter,” said O-aa. “He could break you in two, and my sister is very beautiful. You have no women in Sari so beautiful as my sister. She is almost as beautiful as I. My mother’s father was so strong that he could carry the carcass of a full grown bos on his back.”

“Now, I know you are lying,” said Hodon. “Why must you lie so much, and always about your family? I am not interested in your family. I am only interested in you.”

“My father is a king,” said O-aa.

“He can be a Sagoth, for all I care. I do not wish to mate with your father.”

“Now you will never mate with anybody,” said O-aa. “Instead, you will be eaten by a sabertooth man and his mate.”

“Maybe the same man will eat us both,” said Hodon, grinning. “Then we shall be truly mated.”

“If he does that to me I will give him a pain in his belly,” said O-aa.

“You do not like me very well,” said Hodon.

“You are very stupid, if you have only just discovered that,” replied O-aa.

“I do not understand why you don’t like me. I am not bad to look at. I would be kind to you, and I can certainly protect you.”

“This looks like it,” said O-aa.

Hodon subsided.

Two of the sabertooth men each had his tail wrapped around the neck of one of the captives. Thus they dragged them along, while other sabertooth men pushed, and slapped, and kicked their prisoners from the rear. The grotesque blacks kept jabbering. They reminded Hodon of the little hairy men who lived in the trees of the forests.

The cliff of Kali is the last rampart of a range of mountains that extend toward the northeast, parallel with the coast of the Lural Az. It was into these mountains that O-aa and Hodon were being dragged. The terrain became rougher as they ascended, the limestone formation giving way to volcanic rock. Extinct volcanos were visible on either hand. The vegetation was sparse and poor. It was a rough country.

Buffeted and bruised, the prisoners were dragged at last to a yawning hole in the side of a mountain. Inside it was dark as a pocket, but the sabertooth men did not even pause on the threshold. Still jabbering, they entered the cavern and raced along as though in broad daylight. Neither O-aa nor Hodon could see a thing. They felt the smooth surface of the rock beneath their sandals and they could tell that they were ascending. Presently the ascent became so steep that they would have fallen back had not their captors supported them. Up and up they went, dragged by their necks. In the grip of the choking tails they were gasping for breath.

At last the ascent became absolutely perpendicular and here were long lianas depending from above, and there was daylight. Above them they could see a round opening into which the sun shone, and they could see that they were ascending a circular shaft. They did not know it, but they were in a volcanic tube.

The sabertooth men swarmed up the lianas, dragging O-aa and Hodon with them; and when they reached the top of the tube both their prisoners were unconscious. Then they released them, and the two lay as though dead where they had fallen.

Dian the Beautiful looked out across forest and rolling hills and fertile plains. She saw great herds of bos and red deer and herbivorous dinosaurs feeding on the lush vegetation. She saw the Lural Az curving upward, like Professor Einstein’s time and space, until it was simply lost in the distance; for there is no horizon in Pellucidar. She saw Anoroc Island, where the copper colored Mezops dwell in their tree houses; and beyond Anoroc, the Luana Islands. She could have seen Greenwich had it been more than an imaginary spot on an imaginary map. But she saw no sign of David Innes, though she strained her eyes until the tears came to them.

The four men at the windlass kept letting out more and more rope, their eyes on the balloon and not on the drum. Perry was watching the balloon, too. He felt that Dian the Beautiful had gone high enough and had been up long enough to have seen all that there was to see; so he turned to the men at the windlass to order them to haul the balloon down. What he saw brought a scream of horror from his throat.

At the same time, David Innes stood upon a promontory above Kali and looked out toward the Lural Az. He was looking for Ghak the Hairy One, but his search was no more successful than had Dian’s been. Slowly he made his way back to the hidden canyon. Hodon would have returned with meat, he thought; and they would feast, but Hodon was not there.

David went into the cave and slept, and when he awoke there was still no sign of Hodon. So David went out and made a kill himself. He ate many times and slept twice more, and still Hodon had not returned. Now David became worried, for he knew that Hodon would have returned had all been well with him. He determined to go and search for him, though he knew that it would be like searching for a needle in a hay stack.

He found Hodon’s almost obliterated tracks, and he came upon the carcass of the cave lion. The dagger wounds in the beast’s side and the spear wound in its breast told a graphic story. Then he discovered the prints of O-aa’s little sandals.

What he read when he came to the spot at which the two had been captured by the sabertooth men filled him with apprehension. He saw great splayed, manlike footprints, and the trail of the party leading away to the northeast. For the most part, the spoor of O-aa and Hodon was obliterated by that of their captors; but David Innes saw enough to know that a party of creatures unknown to him had captured O-aa and Hodon.

There was but one thing to do: he must follow. This he did until the trail entered the dark mouth of the volcanic tube. He went in a short distance, but he could neither see nor hear anything; he felt a strong wind sucking in past him toward the interior of the cave. He came out and examined the terrain. Above him lay the slope of an extinct volcano. He could see the rim of the crater sharply defined against the blue of the sky. Suddenly he had an inspiration, and he commenced the ascent of the mountain.

When Hodon and O-aa regained consciousness they were still lying where they had fallen. All around them rose the walls of a volcanic crater, the level floor of which was covered with verdure. In the center was a small lake of blue water. Rude shelters were dotted about.

They found themselves surrounded by sabertooth people—men, women, and children. There was much jabbering in the strange, monkey-like language of these hideous people. They snarled and growled at one another and occasionally one of them would try to grab either O-aa or Hodon with a long, prehensile tail. Three or four large males stood close to the captives, and every time one of their fellows tried to seize either of them, he would be set upon and chased away. It was apparent to Hodon that they were being guarded, but why?

After they regained consciousness, these guards jerked them to their feet and led them away toward one of the shacks—an open structure with a flimsy grass roof. Here a large male squatted on the ground, and beside him was the strangest looking human being either Hodon or O-aa had ever seen. He was a little, wizened old man with a white beard that almost concealed the rest of his features. He had no teeth, and his eyes were the eyes of a very old man.

“Well,” he said, looking them over, “you’re certainly in a fix. Back in Cape Cod, we’d say you was in a Hell of a fix; but we ain’t back in Cape Cod, and you never heard of Hell, unless this here place is it, which I sometimes believe; for doesn’t the Good Book tell us that people go down to Hell? or doesn’t it? Well, I dunno; but I came down to get to this here place, an’ I don’t believe Hell could be much worse.” He spoke in Pellucidarian with a Cape Cod accent. “Well,” he continued, taking a breath, “here you are. Do you know what’s goin’ to happen to you?”

“No,” said Hodon; “do you?”

“Well, they’ll probably fatten you up and eat you. That’s what they usually do. They might keep you a long time. They’re funny that way. You see they ain’t no such thing as time down here; so how’s a body to know how long it will be before you get fat or before they eat you? God only knows how long I been here. I had black hair and a good set o’ teeth when I come, but look at me now! Maybe they’ll keep you until your teeth fall out. I hope so, because I get danged lonesome for company down here. These here things aren’t very good company.”

“Why haven’t they eaten you?” asked Hodon.

“Well, that there’s a long story. I’ll tell you all about it—if they don’t eat you too quick.”

The large sabertooth man sitting beside the old man now commenced to jabber at him, and the old man jabbered back in the same strange tongue; then he turned to Hodon.

“He wants to know where you come from and if there’s more like you real handy. He says that if you’ll guide his people to your village, he won’t have you killed right away.”

“Tell him I’ve got to rest first,” said Hodon. “Maybe I can think of a village where the people are all nice and fat.”

The old man turned and translated this to the sabertooth man, who replied at some length.

“He says that’s all right, and he’ll send some of his people with you right away.”

“Tell him I’ve got to rest first,” said Hodon.

After some further conversation between the sabertooth man and the old man, the latter said: “You can come with me now. I’m to look after you until you have rested.”

He got up, and Hodon and O-aa followed him to another shelter, which was much more substantially built than the others.

“This is my cabin,” said the old man. “Sit down and make yourselves at home. I built this myself. Got all the comforts of home.” The comforts of home were a bunk filled with dried grass, a table, and a bench.

“Tell me how you got here, and why they don’t eat you,” said Hodon.

“Well, the reason they don’t eat me, or rather the reason they didn’t eat me at first, was because I saved the life of that fellow you seen sitting beside me. He’s chief. I think about the only reason they don’t eat me now is because I’m too damned old and tough.

“Now, as to how I got here. I come from a place you never even heard of in a world you never heard of. You don’t know it, but you’re living in the center of a round ball; and on the outside is another world, entirely different from this one. Well, I come from that other world on the outside.

“I was a seafarin’ man up there. Used to go whalin’ up around the Arctic. Last time I went was an awful open summer up there. We went farther north than we’d ever been before, and no ice—just a great open polar sea as far as the eye could reach.

“Well, everything was lovely till we run into the worst dod-blasted storm you ever see; and the Dolly Dorcas was wrecked. The Dolly Dorcas was my ship. I dunno what become of the others, but there was eight of us in the boat I was in. We had food an’ water an’ a compass an’ sails as well as oars; but still it didn’t look very good. We was way up in the Arctic Ocean an’ winter comin’ on. We could just about kiss ourselves goodby.

“We sailed what we thought was south for a long time, and all the time the compass kept acting stranger an’ stranger. You’d thought the dod-blasted thing had gone crazy. Then we ran out o’ food, an’ the fust thing you knowed we commenced to eat one another—startin’ in on the weakest fust. Then some of ’em went crazy; an’ two jumped overboard, which was a dirty trick when they knew we craved meat so bad.

“Well, to make a long story short, as the feller said, finally they wasn’t nobody left but me; and then, dod-blast it, if the weather didn’t commence to get warmer, and pretty soon I sighted land and found fruits and nuts and fresh water. Believe me, it was just in time too; for I was so doggone hungry I was thinkin’ of cuttin’ off one of my legs an’ eatin’ it.”

O-aa sat wide eyed and wondering, drinking in every word. Hodon had never known her to be silent for so long. At last she had met her match.

“What’s become of your brother and your mother’s father?” asked Hodon.

“Eh! What’s that?” demanded the old man.

“I was speaking to O-aa,” said Hodon.

“Well, don’t interrupt me. You talk too much. Now, where was I? You got me all confused.”

“You were thinking of eating your leg,” said O-aa.

“Yes, yes. Well, to make a long story short, as the feller said, I was in Pellucidar. How I ever lived, I’ll be doggone if I know; but I did. I got in with one tribe after another, an’ none of ’em killed me for one reason or another. I learned the language an’ how to hunt with spears. I made out somehow. Finally I stole a canoe an’ set sail on the biggest doggone ocean you ever seen. My beard was a yard long when I landed near here an’ got captured by these things.

“Well, I better start feedin’ you an’ fattenin’ you up. I reckon this gal will be pretty tasty eatin’ right soon.” He reached out and pinched O-aa’s flesh. “Yum!” he exclaimed. “She’s just about right now.”

“Do you eat human flesh?” demanded Hodon.

“Well, you see I sort o’ acquired a taste for it after the Dolly Dorcas was wrecked. Ole Bill was a mite tough an’ rank, but there was a Swede I et who was just about the nicest eatin’ you ever see. Yes, I eat what the Lord furnishes. I reckon I’m goin’ to enjoy both of you.”

“I thought you said you hoped they wouldn’t eat us, because you would like to have our company,” said O-aa.

“Yes, I’m sort o’ torn between two loves, as the feller said: I loves to eat an’ I loves to talk.”

“We like to listen,” said Hodon.

“Yes,” agreed O-aa; “we could listen to you forever.”

What Perry had seen that had brought the scream to his lips was the end of the rope slipping from the drum. He had forgotten to have it made fast! He sprang forward and seized at the rope, but the free balloon leaped upward carrying the rope’s end far above him. Of course his gesture was futile, as a dozen men could not have held the great gas bag that Perry had made.

The old man looked up at the great balloon, rapidly growing smaller as it rose; then he sat down, and, covering his face with his hands, commenced to sob; for he knew that Dian the Beautiful was already as good as dead. No power on earth or within it could save her now.

How high she would be carried he could not even guess, nor how far from Sari. She would doubtless die from lack of oxygen, and then her body would be carried for a thousand miles or more before the bag would lose sufficient gas to bring it down.

He loved Dian the Beautiful as he would have loved a daughter, and he knew that David Innes worshipped her. Now he had killed Dian and wrecked David’s life—the two people he loved most in the world. His silly inventions had done a little good and some harm, but whatever good they had accomplished had been wiped out by this. Worst of all, he realized, was his criminal absent-minded carelessness.

Dian felt the sudden upward rush of the balloon. She looked down over the edge of the basket and instantly realized what had happened. Everything was growing smaller down there. Soon she could no longer distinguish people. She wondered what would become of her. Perhaps she would be carried up to the sun and incinerated. She saw that the wind was carrying the balloon in a southwesterly direction.

She did not realize the greatest error of all that Perry had made; neither did Perry. He had arranged no rip cord on the gas bag. With that, Dian could have let gas out of the bag gradually and made a landing within a comparatively few miles from Sari. Perry was always leaving some essential thing off of everything he built. His first musket had no trigger.

Dian the Beautiful guessed that she was as good as dead. She cried, but not because she was afraid to die. She cried because she would never see David again.

And David, far away, reached the rim of the crater and looked over. Below him, scarcely a hundred feet, he saw a round valley, green with verdure. He saw a little lake and grass thatched shelters and people. He saw Hodon and O-aa. His surmise had been correct.

He saw the strange sabertooth people. There were a couple of hundred of them. How could he, singlehanded, rescue Hodon and O-aa from such an overwhelming number of enemies?

David Innes was resourceful; but the more he cudgeled his brains, the more hopeless a solution of his problem appeared. It would profit them nothing if he went down into the crater. That would mean simply his own capture; then he could do nothing for them.

He examined the crater closely. The inside walls were perpendicular and unscalable in all but a single place. There the wall had crumbled inward, the rubble forming an incline that reached to the top of the rim that was little more than fifty feet above the floor of the crater at that point. There was an avenue of escape, but how could he call Hodon’s attention to it. How could he create a diversion that would take the attention of their captors from them long enough for them to make a break for freedom. Suddenly he recalled the wind rushing past him as he had stood in the darkness of the cavern that was the entrance to the crater. He turned and started down the mountainside.

The old man had been talking constantly. Even O-aa could not get a word in edgewise, but at last he paused for a moment, probably to refresh his mind concerning the past, in which he lived.

Hodon seized upon this moment to voice a suggestion that had been in his mind for some time. “Why don’t you escape?” he asked the old man.

“Eh? What? Escape? Why—er—I haven’t thought of it since before my last bicuspid dropped out. But of course I couldn’t escape.”

“I don’t see why not,” said Hodon. “I don’t see why the three of us couldn’t escape. Don’t you see that low place there? We could run up there in no time if you could find some way to get their attention somewhere else.”

“M-m-m,” murmured the old man thoughtfully. “Sometimes many of them are asleep at the same time. It might be done, but I doubt it. Anyway, what good would it do me to escape? I’d only be killed by the first tribe that captured me if some of the beasts didn’t get me before.”

“No,” said Hodon. “I would take you to Sari. They would treat you well there. You might meet some old friends. There are two men from Hartford, Connecticut there.”

The old man became instantly alert. “What do you know about Hartford, Connecticut?” he demanded.

“Nothing,” said Hodon, “but these men do. I have heard them speak of it many times.”

“How did they get down here? That must be a story like mine. I’ll bet they’d like to hear my story.”

“I know they would,” said O-aa, who was nobody’s fool. “I think you ought to come with us.”

“I’ll think it over,” said the old man.

David Innes made his way to the entrance to the tube. He gathered dry wood and leaves and green grass, and he piled it far into the tube, with the grass on top. Then he made fire and lighted it. As soon as he saw that it was burning freely, he ran from the tube and started up the side of the mountain as fast as he could go.

When he reached the top and looked over he saw smoke rising from the opening into the tube. Already a jabbering crowd of sabertooth men were gathering about it. Others were joining them. David was just about to risk everything by shouting to Hodon to run for the low place in the rim, when he saw O-aa, Hodon, and another walking toward it. He saw that the third member of the party was not one of the natives; so he assumed it must be another prisoner.

The diversion that Hodon had hoped for had occurred almost miraculously, and the three lost no time in taking advantage of it.

“You are sure, are you, that these men from Hartford, Connecticut, are where we are going?” demanded the old man. “Dod-burn you, if they ain’t, I’ll eat you the first chance I get.”

“Oh, they’re there all right,” said O-aa. “I saw them just before we left.”

Hodon looked at her in amazement not unmixed with admiration. “We may see one of them before we get to Sari,” he said. “He was with me just before we were captured.”

“I hope so,” said the old man. “I’d sure like to see some one from Hartford. By gum, I’d even like to see some one from Kansas.”

“Oh,” said O-aa with a shrug. “We know lots of people from Kansas. You can see all you want.”

Hodon’s expression turned to one of awe, but now they were at the base of the shelving rubble. He looked back. Every single sabertooth was gathered around the smoking vent; not an eye was turned in their direction. “Start up slowly,” he cautioned. “Do not start to hurry unless they discover what we are doing; then you’ll really have to climb. Once on the outside you and I, O-aa, can outdistance any of them, but I don’t know about the old man.”

“Listen, son,” said that worthy. “I can run circles around you and all your family. Why, when I was a young man they used to race me against race horses. I’d give ’em two lengths start and beat ’em in a mile.”

Hodon didn’t know what a horse was; but he had an idea that whatever it was the old man was lying; so he said nothing. He was thinking that between O-aa and the old man it was a toss-up.

They reached the summit without being detected; and as they started down, Hodon saw David coming toward him. He hurried forward to meet him. “It was you who started the fire that made the smoke, wasn’t it? But how did you know we were in the crater?”

“Is this one of the men from Hartford?” demanded the little old man.

“Yes,” said Hodon, “but don’t start telling him the story of your life now. Wait until we get out of reach of your friends.”

Dian was surprised to discover that the nearer the sun she got the colder she was. She was also mystified by the noises she heard in her ears and the difficulty she had in breathing; but even so, she gave little thought to her own danger. She could think only of David—David whom she would never see again.

The balloon was drifting now at an even altitude. It would rise no higher. Eventually it would commence to drop lower; but before it came to earth, Dian the Beautiful might be dead of hunger and exhaustion. Being practically naked, except for a most sketchy loin cloth, she was already chilled through and shivering.

A hunting party far below saw the strange thing floating toward them; and they ran and hid beneath trees, thinking it some new and terrible reptile. Dacor the Strong One, Dian’s brother, was in the party. Little did he dream that his sister floated there high above him. He and his companions would tell of the awful creature they had seen; and the story would grow in the telling, but nothing which they could fabricate could equal the truth, if they could have known it.

The sabertooth people are not very bright, but they do know what a volcano is; because there is an intermittently active one in the mountains not far from their own crater; so, putting two and two together, they assumed that their own volcano was about to become active. Had they been just a little bit more intelligent, they would have reasoned that wood smoke does not come from a volcano; but all they knew was that it was smoke and smoke meant fire; and they were afraid.

The best thing to do, then, was to get out of the crater; so they turned to the low point in the crater’s rim. It was then that they discovered that their prisoners had escaped.

As they swarmed out of the crater, they were not only frightened but angry. No prisoner had ever escaped before, and they didn’t purpose letting these prisoners get away with it. Being good trackers capable of moving with great speed, they had no doubt but that they would soon overhaul the fugitives. The latter however, were also fleet of foot; and they had two advantages: they did not have to watch for spoor to follow, and they were fleeing for their lives. There is no greater spur to honest and concentrated effort than this. Even the old man revealed amazing possibilities as he scampered in the wake of the others.

David and Hodon, being congenitally opposed to flight, hated the position in which they found themselves; but what were they to do? David alone was armed. He carried his crude bow and arrows and a stone knife but these were not enough to repel an attack by a numerically greater force of savage beasts such as the sabertooth men.

While they did not yet know that they were being followed, they assumed that they would be; and the old man had assured them that they would.

“I been there since before my teeth began falling out,” he said, “an’ you can lay to it that they’ll follow us all the way to hell an’ gone, for they ain’t no prisoner ever escaped from ’em in my time.”

Hodon, who was leading, guided them toward the little canyon where he and David had found sanctuary; and they succeeded in reaching its mouth before the first of the pursuers came within sight. It was just after they entered it that a chorus of savage roars told them that the sabertooth men had overtaken them.

David glanced back. Racing toward him were three or four of the swiftest males and strung out behind them were other bucks and shes and young—the whole tribe was on their heels!

“Get the others into the cave, Hodon!” he called. “I’ll hold them up until you’re all in.”

Hodon hesitated. He wanted to come back and fight at David’s side.

“Go on!” shouted the latter. “We’ll all be lost if you don’t,” then Hodon raced on toward the cave with O-aa and the old man.

David wheeled about and sent an arrow into the breast of the leading savage. The fellow screamed and clutched at the shaft; then he spun around like a top and crashed to earth. A second and a third arrow in quick succession found their marks, and two more sabertooth warriors writhed upon the ground. The others paused. David fitted another arrow to his bow and backed away toward the cave.

The sabertooths jabbered and chattered among themselves. Finally a huge buck charged. Hodon and O-aa were in the cave; and the former, reaching down, grasped the hand of the old man and dragged him up. David was still backing toward the cave, holding his fire. His supply of arrows would not last forever; so he must not miss.

The great brute was almost upon him before he loosed his shaft. It drove straight through the heart of the buck, but there were others coming behind him. Not until he had dropped two more in rapid succession did the others pause momentarily; then David turned and raced for the cave. At his heels came the whole tribe of sabertooths, roaring and screaming. They came in mighty leaps and bounds, covering the ground twice as rapidly as David.

Hodon stood in the mouth of the cave. “Jump!” he cried to David. He leaned out and down, extending his hand. As David leaped upward toward the cave mouth, a sabertooth at his heels reached out to seize him; but simultaneously a bit of rock struck the fellow full between the eyes, and he stumbled forward on his face. O-aa, grinning, brushed the dust from her hands.

Hodon pulled David into the cave. “I never thought you’d make it,” he said.

There were extra spears and arrows in the cave and a little food. The waterfall dropped so close that they could reach out and catch water in a cupped hand. They would not suffer from thirst. One man with a spear could defend the entrance against such ill-armed brutes as the sabertooths. Altogether, they felt rather secure.

“These brutes won’t stay here forever,” said David. “When they find they can’t get us, they’ll go away.”

“You don’t know ’em,” said the old man. “They’ll stick around here ’till Hell freezes over, but the joke’s goin’ to be on them.”

“What do you mean?” asked David.

“Why, instead of gettin’ four of us, they’re only goin’ to get one,” explained the old man.

“How’s that?” inquired David.

“We can’t get no food in here,” said the old man; “so we gotta eat each other. I reckon I’ll be the last man. I’m too dod-burned old and tough to eat. Even the sabertooths wouldn’t eat me. This here’ll make a tender morsel. I reckon we’ll start on her.”

“Shut up!” snapped David. “We’re not cannibals.”

“Well, neither was I back at Cape Cod. I would have reared up on my hind legs an’ fit anybody then that had said I’d ever eat man, woman, or child; but then I hadn’t never nearly starved to death, nor I didn’t know what good eatin’ some people can be after you get used to it. Before you come along I was tellin’ these other two about that sweet Swede I et once.”

“You also said,” interposed O-aa, “that after you’d eaten all your friends you were about to cut your leg off and start eating yourself.”

“Yes,” admitted the old man, “that’s plumb right.”

“Then,” said O-aa, “when you get hungry, you’d better start eating yourself; because you’re not going to eat any of us.”

“That’s what I calls plumb selfish,” said the old man. “If we don’t eat each other, the sabertooths are goin’ to eat us; an’ I’d think you’d rather be eaten by a friend than by one of them criters.”

“Look here—er—what is your name, anyway?” David spoke with marked asperity.

The old man puckered his brow in thought. “Dod-burn it!” he exclaimed at last. “What the dickens is my name? I’ll be dod-burned if I ain’t plumb forgot. You see I ain’t heard it since I was a young man.”

“I think,” said O-aa to David, “that his name is Dolly Dorcas.”

“Well, never mind,” said David; “but get this straight: there’s to be no more talk of eating one another. Do you understand?”

“Wait until you get good an’ hungry,” said the old man; “then it won’t be a matter of talking about it.”

David rationed out what food there had been stored in the cave—mostly nuts and tubers; as these would not spoil quickly. Each had his share. They took turns watching, while the others slept, if they cared to; and as there was nothing else to do, they slept a great part of the time. It is a custom of Pellucidarians. They seem to store up energy thus, so that they need less sleep afterward. Thus they prepare themselves for long journeys or arduous undertakings.

Some of the sabertooths remained in the canyon at all times. They made several attempts to storm the cave; but after being driven off easily, they gave up. They would starve their quarry out.

The food supply in the cave dwindled rapidly. David presently suspected that it dwindled fastest while the old man was on watch and the others slept; so once he feigned sleep and caught the old man taking a little food from the supply of each of the others and hiding it in a crevice in the back of the cave.

He awoke the others and told them, and O-aa wanted to kill the old man at once. “He deserves to die,” said David, “but I have a better plan than that of killing him ourselves. We’ll drop him down to the sabertooths.”

The old man whimpered and begged, and promised never to do it again; so they let him live, but they did not let him stand watch alone again.

At last their food was all gone, and the sabertooths were still in the canyon. The besieged were ravenous. They drank quantities of water to allay the craving for food. They were getting weaker and weaker, and David realized that the end was near. They slept a great deal, but fitfully.

Once, when O-aa was standing watch, David awoke with a start; and was horrified to see the old man sneaking up behind her with a spear. His intentions were all too obvious. David called a warning and leaped for him—but just in time.

Hodon awoke. The old man was grovelling on the floor of the cave. O-aa and David were looking down at him.

“What has happened?” demanded Hodon.

They told him. Hodon came toward the old man. “This time he dies,” he said.

“No! No!” shrieked the terrified creature. “I was not going to keep it all for myself. I was going to share it with you.”

“You beast!” exclaimed Hodon, picking up the spear the old man had dropped.

Screaming the latter leaped to his feet; and, running to the mouth of the cave, sprang out.

A hundred sabertooths were in the canyon. Straight toward them the old man ran, screaming at the top of his voice, his eyes wild with terror, his toothless mouth contorted.

The sabertooths fell aside, shrinking from him; and through the lane they made the old man fled and disappeared in the forest beyond the end of the canyon.

Ghak the Hairy One, with a thousand warriors, marched up to Kali. He did not know that Fash, the king of Suvi, had conquered it; so he was surprised when his advance guard was attacked as they neared the cliff. However, it made no difference to Ghak the Hairy One whether he fought Suvian or Kalian.

Fash had thought that the advance guard constituted the whole force with which he had to deal, as it was his own custom to hold all his warriors in one body when he attacked. He did not know that David Innes had taught the Sarians a different method of warfare, which was unfortunate for Fash.

When Ghak’s main body came up, Fash’s men scattered in all directions. A number retreated to the caves of Kali. The Sarians swarmed up after them before they could remove the ladders. Men fought hand-to-hand on the narrow ledges all the way up to the highest ledge. Here, cornered Suvians leaped to their death; and at last Ghak the Hairy One stood victorious above the caves of Kali.

Then the Sarian prisoners came from their prison caves and for the first time Ghak learned that David’s little force had been either killed or made prisoner and that David was missing. All agreed that he must be dead.

Ghak’s force rested and fed at the Kali cliff; and then victorious but sad, started back to their ships waiting on the Lural Az. They had scarcely left the cliff when a strange figure of a man came dashing out of the forest—a toothless little old man with an enormous white beard. His beard was stained with juice of berries and the pulp of fruit. He jibbered and yammered like the little hairy men who live in the trees of the forest.

The warriors of Sari had never seen a creature like this before; so they captured him, as they might have captured any strange animal and took him to show to Ghak.

“Who are you?” demanded Ghak.

“Are you going to kill me?” The old man was whimpering, the tears rolling down his cheeks.

“No,” Ghak assured him. “Tell me who you are and what you are doing here.”

“My name is not Dolly Dorcas,” said the old man, “and I was going to divide O-aa with the others; but Hodon wanted to kill me.”

“Hodon!” exclaimed Ghak. “What do you know of Hodon?”

“I know that he was going to kill me, but I ran away.”

“Where is Hodon?” demanded Ghak.

“He and David and O-aa are in the cave. The sabertooth men are waiting to eat them.”

“What cave? Where is it?” asked Ghak.

“If I told you, you’d take me back there and Hodon would kill me,” said the old man.

“If you lead us to where David and Hodon are, no one will kill you. I promise you that,” Ghak assured him.

“And you’ll see that I get plenty to eat?”

“All you can hold.”

“Then follow me, but look out for the sabertooths; they will eat you all unless you kill them.”

O-aa looked very wan and weak. Hodon looked at her and tears almost came to his eyes; then he spoke to David.

“David,” he said “perhaps I have done wrong. I have hoarded my ration of food, eating only half of it.”

“It was yours to do with as you wished,” said David. “We shall not take it from you.”

“I do not want it,” said Hodon. “I saved it for O-aa, and now she needs it.”

O-aa looked up and smiled. “I hoarded mine too, Hodon,” she said. “I saved it for you. Here it is.” She took a little package of food wrapped in the large leaves that grew over the mouth of the cave and handed it to Hodon.

David walked to the mouth of the cave and looked out down the little canyon; but everything was blurred, as though he were looking through a mist.

Hodon knelt beside O-aa. “A woman would do that only for the man she loved,” he said.

O-aa nodded and crept into his arms. “But I have not killed Blug,” said Hodon.

O-aa drew his lips down to hers.

“What will your brother and sister say?” asked Hodon.

“I have no brother or sister,” said O-aa.

Hodon held her so tight that she gasped for breath.

Presently the mist cleared, and David could see quite plainly. He saw sabertooths who had been outside the canyon running in. They were jabbering excitedly. Then he saw human warriors approaching, warriors who carried muskets. There were many of them. When the sabertooths charged them, they were mowed down by a ragged volley. The noise was terrific, and clouds of black smoke filled the mouth of the canyon.

At the noise of the muskets, O-aa and Hodon ran to the mouth of the cave.

“Ghak has come,” said David. “Now everything is all right.”

It was well that he was to have a brief interlude of happiness before he returned to Sari.

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