Boys' Life
May 1922
pp 20-21, 41-42

Og, Son of Fire
Chapter 13, "The Wrath of the Fire Monster" 126-135
Chapter 14, "The Python's Coils" 136-145
Chapter 15, "Smothering Darkness" 146-155

Og -- Son of Fire

by Irving Crump


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

 

illustrated by Charles Livingston Bull


CHAPTER XIII.

 
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. 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 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 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 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 boulders 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 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 them 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 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. 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 boulders 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 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 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.

CHAPTER XIV

 
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 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 passage way 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 flitted and soared in and out among the pillar-like pendants that reached downward from the ceiling, only added to its dreadfulness.


It was a weird cave and the presence of great bats only added to its dreadfulness.

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 re-echoed 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 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 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 to come 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 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.

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 and with stone hammer in one hand and torch in the other, he dashed headlong across the cave, trying his best to beat out the huge snake to turn its 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 re-echoed 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 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 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 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 stropping 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.

CHAPTER XV

 
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 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 this cave 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 cave 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, 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 an opening so small that Og could scarcely crawl through, 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 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 into, and his nose told him that it was the den of a sabre-toothed 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 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 the 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 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 Gog 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 oŁ Gog. Gog, 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, Oh, stranger. I, Gog, once the mighty hunter. I am here ready and waiting for you, Oh, stranger. If you are death come take me. I am no longer of use to anyone. 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 Gog, 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 sabre-tooth 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 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 Gog, 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 dogs 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 you, to care for you, to hunt for you, and to fight for your place in the sun. 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, Gog, and together they climbed the narrow trail up the cliff. And the wolf dogs followed slowly after.

THE END


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