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Irving Crump's
1936. Og - Son of Fire
"Based on the famous radio adventure series"

Big Little Book #1115
Racine, Wisconsin
Whitman Publishing Co.

CHAPTER EIGHT

The Tree People

From the day when Og slew the leopard, saving Ru's life, the Cave People worked their way down out of the mountain, and came, without further mishap to their village. Here they were met with a stranger silence. The village was deserted!


The Village Was Deserted

"There is — no one!" Nada sobbed her disappointment.

"Only Ak's old log out of which he was going to make a boat," Ru discovered. "See? There on the river bank."

They turned at a startled cry. "There IS someone!" Og pointed excitedly to the Cave of Wab. "See? In the doorway! It is Wab the Younger One!" Og raised his voice and called, "Come down, Little Wab, and tell us what has happened."

Pale, thin, and limping piteously, Little Wab told them what cause had thus emptied the caves of their People.

"There was a council meeting, I climbed up on the council rock to listen, and I — fell — and broke the bone in my leg. Then Pong took the People south. He would not take me. He said there was a curse on me because I could not walk."

"Why did Pong take the People south?" Og questioned.

"There was nothing to eat."

The simple words told the whole sad story.

"We have plenty to eat!" Ru spoke fervently. "And you seem greatly in the need of food, Little One. Now watch me build a fire,"

In wonder, fear and amazement Little Wab beheld Fire. And, when Og had roasted the meat of a giant sloth he had killed, the boy tasted cooked meat for the first time.

"Fire is — wonderful!" cried Little Wab.

But his feasting was interrupted by a strange, booming noise. Og, Ru and Nada sought to discover from whence it came and its cause.

"It is the Tree People," shrilled Wab, dropping the meat. "They make that booming sound. There they are in the trees — see? Oh, they are ugly creatures! That is their leader with the scar on his face!"

Little Wab clung to Og for protection. The Tree People swung in the branches of the trees, pausing now and then to look upon Scar Face, their chieftain. When he beat upon his chest with a great hairy fist, they did likewise, making the frightening sound.

"The fire disturbs them," Og stood in front of Wab. "But they seem to want the meat." He strode forward, calling, "Come, Scar Face, eat!"

Scar Face led the way to the fire, reaching in his huge fist.

"Take care!" Ru called a warning. "You will scorch your fingers!"

But the damage had been done. With a roar of pain Scar Face shook the burned hand. Angrily he advanced, the tribe following, to avenge the insult.

"There are too many!" Og cried desperately. "Ak's log is our only hope. Come, follow me to the river!"

Nada and Ru followed Og and reached the safety of the log as the tribe reached the water's edge.

Scar Face, however, had seized Little Wab, and the tribe sent up a dreadful triumphant booming.

"Do not look back for Little Wab," commanded Og. For Nada's eyes yearned to see what had become of the boy. "This river is full of crocodiles! You will fall!"

The next instant the thing had happened. Nada had lost her footing and was floundering in the infested stream. With a bellowing roar and lashing of water, a great bull monster lunged for his prey.

"Fend them off!" Og gave the command. "I am going in after her!"

Ru balanced his spear and sent it clean into the side of the crocodile. "Back, River Pig!" he exulted. A second one came to feast, and Ru sent Og's spear to its deadly mark. Nada managed to grasp Ru's hand and she was soon back to the safety of the log, Og following swiftly.

"Take care now," Ru spoke heatedly. "Do not fall again, Nada. Both spears have been broken. We have only our stone axes left."

The Tree People had been following them down the river and now Og made a dismal discovery. The log boat, caught in the current, was carrying them helplessly to a narrow place in the river.

Here, in the overhanging trees, were hordes of Tree People waiting to grab them when the log swept under the low-hanging branches.

"They think they have us now!" Og reached for his axe and swung it high. "But we will split a few skulls!"

In the branches overhead a great ape, with wicked gleaming eyes and yellow teeth bared in a horrible grin, lifted his mighty arms and leaped upon Og. The Cave Man held his footing; it was the great ape who met disaster.

"Oh, the poor creature!" Nada covered her face to blot out the sight as the Tree Man fell into the water, where the crocodiles awaited him, their hideous mouths opened wide to receive their victim.

The Tree People, frightened, took immediate flight. This respite gave Og an opportunity to seize the tall reeds, and thus they landed, safe for the moment.

"The Tree People do not like the night," Og explained. "They huddle together in the trees. We must find their sleeping place and rescue Little Wab."

Nada followed where the Cave Men led, but fear tore at her heart, till she could no longer endure walking in the treacherous wood.

"If — one — should wake — and grab me!" she shivered at the thought.

Even as she spoke there was a swishing in the branches overhead, followed by the booming of the Tree People.

"Come!" Og forced them onward to hasty flight. "They do not like to come down to the ground. We must make for an open glade where there are no trees!"

When it seemed they could go no farther, they reached the security of a meadow. Here, throughout the long night, they hid in the tall grass, while all about them the Ape Men gathered in the surrounding trees.

"They will come for us when the dawn arises!" Nada wailed in despair. "Oh, Og — Ru — Look! The day advances. Now we are doomed!"

"No — listen!" Og silenced her. "Something has happened. They are grunting now — in fear." Og raised himself to his full height, testing the air. "The-Mountain-That-Walks!" he spoke tensely.

"A Hairy Mammoth?" Nada begged him to tell her it was not.

Ru confirmed Og's belief. "He is in the meadow. The Tree People know it and they are afraid."

Across the meadow came the trumpeting of the great creature. Again and again the sound smote upon their ears, and with it a swishing noise as the mammoth threshed the long grass with his trunk.

"He has caught our scent!" Og looked at the terror-stricken girl.

"Do not lose courage, Nada. I see marsh birds flying yonder. There we shall find safety."

"Aye," spoke Ru, "his eyes are small. He cannot see well. And he cannot run in the swamp. There we must try to dodge him."

Crouching low as they could, the Cave Men half led, half dragged Nada to the edge of the marsh. Even as they reached it, the monster, bellowing a thunderous charge, was upon them. Into the treacherous mud of the swamp they raced; the huge beast, curling his trunk in anger, blundered clumsily after them.

"Watch out for that sink hole!" Og shouted hoarsely.

Safely the Cave People sped over the fearsome spot without harm, but the monster, intent only on his prey, plunged in deeply. Trapped in the clinging ooze, his efforts to free himself, only forced him down the faster. At last the tusks and gleaming trunk were only visible.

"It is not a pleasant sight to see a great animal die!" Ru turned his face away.

"Where is Nada?" Og looked about him, and as he spoke they heard the girl cry out in horror.

Ru was first to discover Scar Face and The Tree People.

"They have captured Nada!" his voice was tense with terror. "To the rescue, Ru!" Og cried. "We will fight with our bare hands!"

Then began the uneven struggle. Og and Ru fought heroically but they were outnumbered by the horde, and, almost immediately, they were struck down.

Og, Ru and Nada were at the mercy of the Tree People.


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