Og, Boy of Battle
Chapter 1, "The Swamp Monster" 1-11
Chapter 2, "Into the Great Swamp" 12-17
Chapter 3, "Eyes in the Night" 18-33
Chapter 4, "Og's Hammer of Death" 28-34
Their progress across the swamp was much swifter and easier now, for they moved as the Tree People did, swinging from one sturdy branch of the big trees to another. And although they did not travel with the swiftness and sureness of the apes, they were not slow in their progress either.
In the Valley of Fear
by J. Irving Crump"Og, Son of Fire," the Hairy Boy, who was the first of his tribe to eat of cooked meat, who tamed two wolf cubs to be his dogs, who learned to use Fire and thereby made himself leader of his people, returns to our pages...
illustrated by Charles Livingston Bull
[Chapter 1, "The Swamp Monster"]
THE Great Snake dwelt in the dismal, murky, stinking mud and slime of the great swamp into which the river that coursed by the cliff abode of the Hairy People disappeared. The swamp itself was a place of horror. Great trees that reached over acres of land and sent down snake-like shoots to find new roots in the slime and blossom forth again made it a place of perpetual gloom. Long serpent-like lianas twined and intertwined among the branches of the trees and made the place still darker. Treacherous islands of giant reeds and cane, that rattled together like the bones of skeletons in the wind, seemed to float about on the slime and ooze, and long-legged, gangling birds, with great flapping wings and sepulchral voices, flew about among the trees or strode across the muddy surface with strides so awkward and grotesque as to make them appear like gnomes who might dwell in that dank and dark land of mystery. Snakes and turtles and varicolored lizards slept on the roots that pushed above the mud like the knees of a sinister being who might be slumbering underneath, and scaly crocodiles and alligators crept about in the mud and bellowed at night. Strange and startling sounds came from out the mud, too; gargling, choking sounds as if someone below that slime were struggling and gasping for breath, as great bubbles of swamp gas came up through the ooze and floated about on the reeking water. And at night these bubbles would become alight with ghostly flames and go floating off through the gloom to disappear into the heart of the great swamp while the Hairy People watched them from the doorways of their caves in the cliffside and trembled with fear. The swamp was indeed a place of terror.
And in it dwelt, and all too often out of it came, the Great Snake, that huge and monstrously horrible, slinking, crawling, ugly serpent that could crush and devour full-grown hairy men with surprising ease. Og had seen the Great Snake. Long ago when he, with the Tree People, was fleeing from the forest fire that Scar Face had started with his stolen firebrand, and took refuge in the great cave, the serpent had come among them suddenly; hurled itself among them with ugly hisses, exuding a stench that made them all sick. It had thrown its deadly coils about some of the Tree People and crushed them, bones and all, into bloody, pulpy masses.
That dreadful scene would live in Og's memory forever, and that terrible stench; the stink that always lingered about the great swamp made him so sick and weak that all his strength seemed to ooze from his body and leave him helpless. The Great Snake that dwelt in the dismal swamp was indeed a monster of horror to the Hairy People.
The stench of the serpent hung heavily about the foot of the cliff in whose crevices and caves dwelt the Hairy People. The damp misty morning air was pungent with it, and the rocks and earth, across which his long slithering scaly body had dragged, reeked with it and the Hairy People, whose sense of smell was nearly as keen as that of any animal, shuddered and stayed in the security of their caves as they waited for the sun to come up, and the wind to stir itself and cleanse the air. By the odor alone the hairy People would have known that the Great Snake had visited their village the night before, had they not been fully aware of it already. The night had been made horrible by the awful hisses and thrashing about of the great serpent, and the piercing shrieks of its victim, and the whole village had been roused and called to the doorways of their caves by the commotion. Those shrieks in the night were stamped deep upon the otherwise none-too-certain memory of the Hairy People, for from the safety of their doorways they had seen the great serpent glide slowly, fold upon fold, out of one of the lower caves, with head held high and dangling, half swallowed, from its great jaws was the crashed and lifeless form of Kug; Kug, one of their number, and a great hunter. Kug, because he was strong and fearless, had one of the lower caves in the cliff and the Great Snake had poked its head and ugly length into the cave and dragged him from the bed on which he was sleeping, and crushed him in its terrible folds of death. Nor did he give much heed to the ugly calls and shouts of the Hairy People, and the stones and stone hammers they threw at his long, slowly moving body, as with hunger satisfied he made off toward the swamp again.
THE night had been horrible for Og, for Kug's cave was not far from his own and the Hairy boy had been awakened, like the others by the commotion and the stench of the Great Snake, and had witnessed all of the dreadful happening with his own eyes. He had run from his cave with stone hammer and a flaming firebrand, but even he was not brave enough to get within reach of those great scaly folds that moved wavelike over rocks and around trees and bushes; and so his attempts to injure the Great Snake were as ineffectual as were the efforts of the others.
There was little sleep in the cliff village the rest of that night, and Og was as glad as any of the rest of the Hairy People when mist-shrouded dawn broke and daylight drove the heavy darkness beyond the mountains. He watched the vasty blackness of the swamp down the Valley of Fear, and instinctively shuddered as his sensitive nostrils sniffed the revolting air.
But while he sat there huddled in the doorway of his little cave before the fire that he always kept burning in the entrance he was conscious of something back in his mind that seemed struggling against-this fear that gripped him; something that he could only understand as anger. He could not know it was the tiny spark within him that marked the difference between human kind and animal kind; the slowly awakening intelligence that gave him the ability to think, and resent the dominance of something bigger and stronger. All that he did know was that with his anger and resentment there developed a desire to rid the world of this terrible menacing thing; to make life safe and pleasant and happy for himself and his kind. So Og began slowly and laboriously to plan, and by the time the great round, red war sun looked above the mountains across the river a definite desire to go down the Valley of Fear and into the great swamp and put an end to the reptile that so terrified him had taken shape in his mind. Indeed the desire completely dominated the instinctive fear of the mysteries of the vast swamp.
And so it was that he was the first to climb down the face of the cliff. With his tiger-skin across his shoulders, and a firebrand and stone hammer in his hands, he approached the council rock, calling loud-voiced and courageously as he went. His bravery gave others courage and one by one the men of the colony, all long-armed, big-chested and short-legged as was Og, came slowly from out their caves, bearing firebrands too and stone hammers, and a few of them, the biggest and bravest, wearing skins of animal, they had slain about their shoulders. They grunted and chattered as they came, and all of them watched furtively from under low shaggy brows, and their eyes kept ever roving toward the timber that fringed the edge of the gloomy swamps.
Og watched furtively too, but he was cunning enough to hide as much of his instinctive fear as he could from the other Hairy men. Instead of crouching as they did when they had gathered before the council rock, Og stood up as straight as he could, which was not very erect, for he and his people still crouched forward until their long arms almost touched the ground, for they were not so very far removed from their ancestors who had used both hands and feet to walk with.
The Hairy boy did not make much of a speech when the council was assembled. He could not, because the language of the Hairy People which consisted chiefly of grunts and strange clacking noises with tongue and lips had not been developed to the point where anything but the most elemental thoughts or desires could be expressed. But what Og lacked in the power of words, he had made up for by acting. With glowering brows and gnashing teeth and hoarse roars and a few guttural sentences he simulated anger and resentment against the Great Snake that had invaded their village so well that he instilled courage in his hearers. He inspired himself too and added to his own courage, and it was not long before his simulated anger became real and very intent. And it. was infectious. One by one the Hairy men became furiously angry, so angry indeed that many of them began to beat their chests with clenched fists, roaring with each beat until their chorus began to pulsate and carry a strange weird resonance that echoed down the valley and through the dim and gloomy aisles of the swamp. Louder and longer grew the roaring until soon the Hairy men were so excited that they began jumping up and down and swinging their stone hammers, working themselves into a terrible frenzy of resentment against the great reptile that had carried off one of their brave hunters. And the anger spread to the women and children who looked down at them from the doorways of their caves in the cliffs, and by and by they too began to shout and throw stones in the air and gnash their teeth and shake their clenched lists toward the gloomy swamp.
Og watched these demonstrations with eyes that gleamed with a little more intelligence than the rest, and when he realized that the Hairy men had worked themselves up to the highest pitch that their anger could reach, which was very terrible indeed, he suddenly left the council rock and choosing the biggest and strongest of the men he stepped up to them one by one and touching each on the breast pointed toward the gloomy swamp and conveyed to them by word or motions that he wanted them to go with him down the Valley of Fear and into the land of terrible mystery.
If Og expected an immediate response, he was disappointed. His suggestion produced the same reaction in all but one of the men he approached. When they understood his meaning their anger gave way immediately to fear, cringing fear that was evident and that they did not try to hide or disguise. To them the horrors of this great swamp were very real and very dreadful. They knew the Great Snake lived in it, they knew that the huge spotted cave leopards hunted there, and nightly they heard the roar of sabre-tooth tigers echoing across the gloomy expanse. These beasts roamed the cane-covered hummocks with other animals equally big and equally fierce that also haunted the gloom of the place and made the swamp nights hideous with their noises, and none of the Hairy men had the courage to face these perils; none save one. He was Ru the brother of Kug, the strong hunter who had been carried off by the Great Snake the night before. Ru was just as much afraid as the rest of the Hairy men, but like Og, back of his flat forehead a better brain was at work, and he too was moved with resentment and revenge, and a desire to rid the colony of the tyranny and menace of the Great Snake. And although he ceased his angry gesticulations, and looked quite terrified at Og's suggestion he did not cringe and draw away and go slinking off to his cave in the cliff as others did. Instead he crouched by the council rock and made a great effort at thinking the situation over, and when Og came back to the rock again Ru stood up beside him, and told him with grunts and gutturals that he would go with him into the great swamp and hunt down the snake.
[Chapter 2, "Into the Great Swamp"]
WHEN by word of mouth the intentions of Og and Ru were made known to the women and children and the old men and the boys of the village, a strange transformation took place. It seemed as if the bravery of the two men swept away a certain amount of fear and terror that had been hanging over the Hairy People and they began to climb out of their cave abodes and swarm down to the foot of the cliff gathering about the council rock where Og and Ru crouched and talked together. They gathered at a respectful distance, however, and looked at the two figures who had the courage to venture on such a perilous mission. And one by one the men who had slunk away when Og had approached them, came stalking back, very pompous and dignified now. Because they were strong men and big men they shoved and elbowed their way through the gaping crowd and formed an inner circle. Then one by one they began to talk, each trying to outdo the other in their complimentary remarks about the bravery, strength and courage of Og and Ru, and each after he had finished his speech stepped out and gave one or the other a present, a stone hammer, or a sharp-edged piece of flint, or a gift of meat, or a sharpened goat's horn. And finally old Gnu, one of the best hunters of the tribe, dragged from out his cave the hind quarter of a wild horse that he had slain the day before. Then a fire was built beside the council rock and the meat was cooked. And while it sizzled and sputtered over the flames and was yet quite raw the strong men gathered about on their haunches and tore off pieces of the half-done flesh with their fingers and ate with much grunting and smacking of lips. But none of them ate before Og and Ru had torn off a strip from the smoking horse haunch first. That was as much of a farewell ceremony as the Hairy People had ingenuity enough to carry out. It was the custom that had gradually developed over the years when hunting parties fared forth from the village to hunt wild horses or goats, and Og and Ru were rather proud of the tribute paid to their bravery.
The feasting and talking lasted as long as the haunch of horse held out, which was not long. Then Ru and Og gathered together the many gifts that had been showered upon them and went to Og's cave where they began to make themselves ready for their journey. Their preparations did not amount to very much. Both selected the best and most serviceable of the stone hammers, and their longest and sharpest pieces of flint. In his sabre-tooth tiger-skin, which Og had now come to wear as part garment and part pack-sack, Og wrapped several strips of meat, his flint, firestones, some thongs and a sharpened goat's horn, which had been given to him by Kow, a strong hunter and one of the men Og had hoped to take with hint The tiger-skin, thus made ready, he swung over his shoulders, tying it securely across his hack and under his chin with thongs of skin. When the sun had crossed the middle heavens and was dropping downward, they fared forth, and with the farewell shouts and jabbcrings of the Hairy People sounding, they crossed over in front of the council rock and moved down the meadowy river bank toward the dismal expanse that marked the beginning of the terrible swamp in the Valley of Fear.
The hearts of Og and Ru were stout so long as they could hear the noise of the cliff village behind them and see the figures of their people in the distance. But soon the tall waving grass of the meadow and a bend on the river hank shut the cliff village from view, and before them they could see nothing but the cane thickets and looming mass of trees and vegetation that marked the beginning of the dreadful swamp, and their sensitive nostrils could catch lingering traces of the terrible musty odors of the great snake when he had slipped through the long grass that morning. Then the old gripping, clutching fear assailed both of them. Og thought again of the horrors in the great cave when the huge serpent had flung himself among the Tree People, and he grew sick and weak at the knees. Ru, too, looked frightened and worried, and he kept watching the edge of the great swamp with searching, troubled eyes. It was in the hearts of both of them to turn hack and seek the shelter of the village once more, but a growing pride and developing will prevented them from being cowards, and with grunts to inspire each other they, went doggedly on.
Soon they began to tread the murky fringes of the swamp; boggy expanses of gurgling mud in which lizards and smaller reptiles crawled and wriggled. The quagmire was dotted thickly with hummocks of tall grass in reedy clusters in which huge cat-tails towered above their heads. Progress here was treacherous, and Og and Ru often had to wade hip-deep in slimy ooze that threatened at any moment to give way under them and let them sink from sight into the stinking reek. But drippingly they made their way from one hummock to another, their hair-covered skin literally plastered with mud before they reached their first real objective, which was the nearest of the huge spreading and interlacing cypress and mangrove trees.
Panting like animals after a long chase they finally reached a little island formed by the snakelike spreading roots of one of these trees and as they climbed up the gnarled tentacles that reached out almost as far as the spreading branches overhead, turtles and lizards and snakes that had been warming themselves in vagrant patches of late afternoon sunlight that filtered through the gloom, dropped back into the mud about them.
On a moss-covered root that looked for all the world like the knees of a giant poking above the mud the two Hairy boys paused a moment to rest and breathe more. freely. Together they crouched there and brushed the slime and mud from their legs and thighs while they looked backward almost longingly in the direction of their cliff village. And as they crouched there they felt so utterly lonely and deserted, so overawed with the gloom of the dismal swamp that was before them, that they instinctively crowded close to each other for comfort, while they watched turtles and snakes in the mud on either hand poke inquiring heads above the slime.
[Chapter 3, "Eyes in the Night"]
Og was the first to summon back his courage. He knew it was not wisdom to sit exposed to the full view of every prowling wanderer in the swamp, and presently he got up and began to make his way along the exposed roots to the nearest tree. From one gnarled root to another he leaped, until he came to the giant trunk of a spreading mangrove. At the foot of this he paused until Ru joined him, then together they surveyed the mass of interlacing and liana tied branches overhead. Og began to talk and gesticulate and point, until Ru by nods of his head and grunted replies agreed with him. Then with Og in the lead they started to climb the bulging boll of the huge tree.
The Hairy ones had not progressed so far up the scale of physical development that they had lost the finger-like use of their toes. Indeed they had long, strong toes with which they could grip almost as readily, as they could with their thick, powerful hands. And these combined with their long arms and short, sturdy legs made them expert climbers. Indeed they went up the tree-trunk with almost as much agility as the Tree People themselves, and presently they were crouched among the branches.
From this eminence they surveyed the vastness and shadowy blackness of the big swamp which, although it yet lacked several hours of sunset, was clothed in the gloom of night, because of the thickly massed trees and other vegetation. The darkness seemed to impress Og with the fact that ere long night would be upon them; night, the terrible, blackness which the Hairy men still feared with all the superstition and dread of their kind. And although Og had conquered it to a certain extent with his knowledge of fire yet he too dreaded the cold, enfolding blackness of the long hours after the sun had disappeared. Especially did he dread it here in the heart of the big swamp. And realizing the terrors that it would hold for them, he knew that their first efforts must be devoted to finding a comfortable place to spend those fearsome hours. He wanted to find some stretch of solid earth somewhere in this vastness of mud and water where they could build a fire and huddle together in its protective light and its comforting heat.
And so he led the way in the direction instinct and his native intelligence told him he would be most likely to find a stretch of firm earth high enough above the bog level to keep it drained of water. Their progress across the swamp was much swifter and easier now than it had been when they traveled the river bank and the outer fringe of the quagmire, for they moved as the Tree People did, swinging from one sturdy branch of the big trees to another. And although they did not travel with the swiftness and sureness of the apes. they were not slow in their progress either, for the limbs of the trees were big and strong and far-reaching, and it was not difficult to leap or swing from one to another.
On and on they swung their way deeper and deeper into the swamp until soon, through the gloom they discovered a veritable tree-covered island rising above the surface of the swamp. Og gave a grunt of satisfaction when he saw where their journey carried them, and calling to Ru to follow him he swung downward until he dropped to the ground at the foot of a great round swamp oak.
Og had long ago learned that it was best to have a big rock at his back and his fire in front of him when he spent the night in the forest. But there were no signs of rocks on the swamp island, and so he decided that the big fat trunk of the swamp oak would have to serve the same purpose. While he began to gather great armfuls of dead sticks and broken branches with which to make his fire, Ru built a bed of dried leaves in the angle formed by the gnarled roots of the big tree, and by the time Og began his ceremony with his fire stones Re had built a comfortable nest-like structure that was a far better night camp than the average Hairy man had ingenuity enough to build for himself.
It always took Og some time to get a spark into his rude tinder of dried bark and leaves from the cumbersome pieces of flint, and night had settled down on the outer world and dense and almost impenetrable blackness had enveloped the swamp before the first flickering flames made valiant efforts to dispel the smother of darkness. The great and mysterious expanse began to be alive then. The prowlers of the swamp began to stir themselves and go abroad to make the night hideous with their noises. In a slough, hidden from Og and Ru by a dense curtain of undergrowth, came a terrific splash and the rattle of scales as a crawling body hauled itself out of the mud and slime onto the land. Then a terrible bellowing roar, that made them huddle closer to each other, burst upon the night to be answered and reechoed by other roars in more distant sloughs. The big bull alligators were sliding their scaly lengths out of the mud, seeking something to devour. Across the night came a high-pitched wailing call of the cave leopards. and from closer at hand came the deep-chested roar of a hunting sabre-toothed tiger, followed by the shriek of some smaller animal that had become its victim. Startled whistles, soft-footed furtive noises, blood-chilling shrieks that sounded like the laughter of an evil demon, hoots, and snorts of anger sounded on every hand in the darkness round about, and Og and Ru, stout-hearted and courageous though they were, trembled and shivered like two frightened puppies, and they heaped wood on their fire and huddled close together in the angle formed by the bulging roots of the big swamp oak.
But the night wore on, and although time and again cold, green, glistening eyes looked at them from the darkness beyond the circle of the firelight, and although the fearsome voices sometimes sounded all too near for comfort, the two Hairy boys slowly mastered their fears and with its mastery prepared to sleep. They snuggled close together for bodily warmth but they did not lie down. Instead they crouched after the fashion of the Hairy People, sitting on their haunches with their bodies drawn in and their drooping though muscular shoulders hunched over their knees. Their heads dropped forward between their knees and their strong-fingered hands were clasped across the backs of their necks. This seemed to the Hairy men to be the most natural and most comfortable way to sleep. Of course they could not know that by crouching that way they were obeying one of the protective instincts of Nature. Their hands folded across their necks protected all the big arteries and nerve centers there against the chill of night and hunched in that position the long coarse hair on the backs of their hands, shoulders, forearms and upper arms, and indeed on their backs, chests and thighs, all pointed downward, thus shedding all rain and moisture and keeping their skin dry and warm.
Like animals they possessed that peculiar ability simply to close their eyes and go to sleep immediately, and like animals too, they could be fully awake at a moment's notice, alert and keen and ready for action.
How long they slept with the hideous night chorus of the great swamp going on about them Og did not know, but quite suddenly he opened his eves with a soft grunt of suspicion. And Ru awoke almost at the same instant and lifted his head to listen. And over them crept a feeling of fear that made the hair between their shoulders and on their heads bristle. For a moment they could not understand what impending danger had awakened them. All that they knew was that some dreadful peril overshadowed them and both gripped their stone hammers and stood erect, alert and waiting. The night was utterly silent; oppressively, menacingly silent. Gone were all the terrible night noises. Silent was the shriek of the leopard, the bellow, the bull alligators and the terrible deep-chested roar of the saber-tooth tiger. Some hideous peril must be abroad to silence all these fearless night prowlers and drive them to cover.
Suddenly Og clutched Ru's arm in a grip of fear and with his stone hammer pointed. Off in the darkness, beyond the circle of warm yellow light from the camp-fire, glowed two eyes; two tiny eyes, set far apart, but flashing a baleful light as they watched the Hairy boys. At the same moment Og's sensitive nostrils caught a strange and startling odor and on the instant he knew what dreadful creature was watching them across the firelight. It was a great Mammoth, the Mountain-that-Walked, the biggest, strongest, most fearless and most fearsome creature that roamed the forest.
With a shriek of terror and a call to Ru to follow, Og whirled and bolted for the trunk of the swamp oak behind him. With a leap and scramble he started up the big tree while Ru climbed directly behind him. At the same instant the Mammoth sundered the silence of the night with a terrible trumpeting blast and with a crash of foliage and the thunder of heavy feet charged toward them, heedless of the fire that burned beneath the tree which would have held at bay almost any other creature.
As swiftly as Og and Ru moved, the great and seemingly cumbersome Mammoth moved faster. Og had only time to clutch at the lowermost branches and swing himself aloft before the snorting, angry beast was under him. Poor Ru was not so fortunate. His one hand closed over a lower branch, but while he was in the very act of swinging his body aloft and out of danger the great Mammoth crashed against the trunk of the big oak, shaking it from roots to top, while his snake-like trunk lashed outward and upward and coiled with terrible crushing strength about Ru's ankle.
With a shriek of pain and fear Ru kicked and thrashed and lashed out with his stone hammer which he still gripped in his left hand as he struggled to free himself from the deadly grip of the great shaggy animal below him. And Og, crouched on the branch just above him, called out words of encouragement.
For a surprisingly long time Re, with a grip of frenzy, clung onto the branch with one hand while the Mammoth pulled at his ankle and looked up at him with his wicked pig-like eyes, but Ru and Og, too, knew that there could be only one end to the situation. The huge beast needed only to pull a little harder and Ru's grip would be broken. Then the great shaggy creature would swing him about and smash him to a limp and lifeless mass against the tree-trunk, or he would dash him to the ground and trample him under his terrible. massive feet. Ru shrieked and fought and struggled with all the strength that desperation lent him, but he knew that the end was very near.
[Chapter 4, "Og's Hammer of Death"]
Og was sick with terror and unhappiness as he looked on. Fear for his own safety made him tremble and want to shrink close to the tree-trunk. But above this fear arose a desire to protect, to help, to rescue Ru from the certain death that threatened him. On the instant he became terribly, furiously, recklessly angry at the Mammoth, and suddenly, unthinkingly, and just at the instant that Ru, with a wild cry of fear, let go his hold on the limb, Og, like a thunderbolt, leaped from the limb on which he was crouching and landed between the big waving ears squarely on the massive head of the Mammoth. And while he clung to the coarse, shaggy hair with both his feet and one free hand he began with all the strength of his powerful arm and shoulder to crash blow upon blow with his heavy stone hammer down upon the flat forehead of the great animal, seeking in his fury to blind the beast.
Og, like a thunderbolt, leaped from the limb on which he was crouching and landed between the big waving ears squarely on the massive head of the Mammoth...
With a snort of rage and pain the Mammoth let loose his grip on Ru's leg, flinging him aside as if he were but a broken tree branch, and shaking his massive head and lashing about with his sinister coiling trunk he sought to dislodge Og; to seize him, tear him down and trample him underfoot. His anger was terrible to behold.
But by good fortune Og had landed in the one place where the Mammoth's trunk could not reach him without great difficulty. Time and again the horrible, snaky thing lashed upward between his massive curving tusks, truing to sweep him off or seize him and pull him down, and although its ugly coiling length, with its single gripping, lip-like finger, swept so close to him that the animal's hot, fetid breath blew full in his face, yet Og was able to dodge the menacing thing or slash at it with his stone hammer.
And as Og realized that he had the great beast at a disadvantage his anger gave way to exultancy; triumph that he was able to give battle to the huge animal, and he struck harder, raining down crashing, bone-shattering blows on the Mammoths forehead and eyes.
With one eye crushed and beaten out by the heavy stone hammer and the other injured and useless, the Mammoth, blind and made a veritable demon with pain and rage, bellowed and trumpeted until it seemed as if the very trees shook. He tossed his massive head about and lashed at branches overhead, he reared on his hind legs and plunged this way and that, his massive body snapping off good-sized trees and tearing up the thickly massed jungle foliage and underbrush while with his great curving tusks he ploughed deep furrows in the ground and tossed great clods of earth and undergrowth high above his head.
But through it all Og clung on; clung on and crashed down blow upon blow on the great, bloody, ragged wound that he had hacked in the Mammoth's forehead. And with each blow he gave voice to a ringing shout of triumph, for he knew now that he had the great beast beaten, and that if he could cling on long enough he would bring the animal down. Never in the history of the Hairy People had a single man ever killed The Mountain-That-Walked, and Og wanted to be able to boast of such an achievement.
Suddenly the Mammoth, his spirit broken and his great rage changing to weak, helpless and his great rage changing to weak, helpless fear, gave voice to a loud squealing sound instead of his deep tones trumpeting. and ceasing to thrash about in his anger, he bolted headlong and in panic straight into the thickest growth of the swamp as if he hoped now to run away from the torture that kept pecking at his forehead. And Og, growing careless in his triumph, stood up on the beast's head to use both hands to wield his stone hammer. But he had scarcely delivered one blow this way when a sudden and most unexpected thing happened. The Mammoth plunged under a huge swamp oak-tree, and one of the lowermost branches caught Og across his chest and swept him kicking and clutching to the ground. And the Mammoth still squealing ploughed on through the thicket.
Og was partly stunned with the fall and by the time he managed to get on his feet Ru, who had taken refuge in a tree during the battle, had climbed down beside him. Off in the darkness, and not far away they could hear the Mammoth still squealing. They could hear him lashing and crashing in the undergrowth too, and with it all they could hear a great splashing, wallowing sound.
Og listened for a moment in silence, then with a yell of triumph, and a call to Ru to follow, he dashed off through the night down the wide trail through the jungle that the fleeing animal had left.
Soon the splashing and squealing grew louder, and suddenly Og and Ru came to the end of the swamp island where a deep slough of mud and water began and reached off into the night. And on the brink of this they could see where the blind Mammoth had plunged headlong in and had gone wallowing on and on. He was out there still, not so very far from the bank, but far enough to be hidden from view in the darkness. But they knew he was there, mired and helpless, for they could hear his squeals of terror and his blind thrashing about and splashing and the sucking gurgle of the mud and ooze into which his great body was slowly sinking. They stood there on the brink of the slough listening to the great beast's struggle until Og. growing wary once more, called to Ru to climb the nearest tree. There, clinging to the branches, they crouched waiting and listening to the slowly weakening struggles of the Mammoth until the blue-gray half-light of dawn began to filter through the gloom of the swamp and revealed the huge animal dead and half sunken from sight in the mud.
Og gave cry after cry of triumph; voiced the hunting cry of the Hairy People when he saw his great enemy conquered. Then he and Ru climbed down from the tree, and with the aid of some dead branches to give them firmer footing, they made their way across the quagmire until they could climb upon the bulging, hairy sides of the dead Mammoth. There with their sharp pieces of flint they began to hack at the tough, hairy hide and flesh of the great animal for meat meant neat to them and they intended to feast upon their conquest. Also they wanted a trophy to carry back to the cliff village of the Hairy People, and so with their stone hammers each of them broke off a worn and yellow end of the great animal's tusks that still curved upward out of the mud into which the huge body was slowly sinking, there to lie buried for centuries to come.
But while they were crawling over the huge carcass, hacking at the tough hide with their flint knives, Og suddenly stopped with a grunt of surprise and fear and stood erect, testing the air with his sensitive nostrils. Down the wind across the great swamp came strong and terrible and dreadful the odor of the Great Snake, and from out among the densest of the long reeds came a strange fearsome scraping sound as of a huge body being dragged across the ground.
With a startled cry Og bolted for the nearest tree, and Ru, chattering with fear, followed him.