“I kill,” said Hodon.
The little old man screamed and hid behind Ghak. “You promised that you would not let Hodon kill me,” he whimpered, “if I guided you here.”
“I shall keep my promise,” said Ghak. “Leave the man alone, Hodon! What has he done that you should want to kill him?”
“He tried to kill O-aa; so that he could eat her,” replied Hodon.
“I was not going to keep her all for myself,” whined the old man; “I was going to share her with Hodon and David.”
“Who is this old man,” demanded Ghak, “who says that his name is not Dolly Dorcas?”
“He was a prisoner of the sabertooth men,” said David. “I think he is a little crazy.”
“He led me here,” said Ghak; “so you have him to thank for your rescue. Do not harm him. What does he mean by saying his name is not Dolly Dorcas?”
“He told us,” explained David, “that he was wrecked on a ship named the Dolly Dorcas near the North Pole of the outer world from which I come; then, in a small boat, he drifted through the North Polar Opening into Pellucidar. O-aa got things a little mixed and thought his name was Dolly Dorcas.”’
“He ate all the men that were in the boat with him,” said O-aa; “and he said that when they were all gone, he was about to cut off one of his own legs and eat that, when he found food. He is a very hungry man.”
“I do not see how he could eat anybody,” said Ghak; “he has no teeth.”
“You’d be surprised,” said the little old man.
“Well, you—What is your name anyway, if it isn’t Dolly Dorcas?” demanded Ghak.
“I don’t remember,” said the old man.
“Well, then, we shall just call you Ah-gilak; and that will be your name.” (Ah-gilak means in Pellucidarian, old man.)
“Well,” said the little old man, “at least Ah-gilak is a better name for a man than Dolly Dorcas.”
“And remember this, Ah-gilak,” continued Ghak, “if you ever try to eat anybody again, I’ll let Hodon kill you.
“Some of them were very good eating,” sighed Ah-gilak, reminiscently, “especially that Swede.”
“Let us go the village of Kali now,” said David. “O-aa, Hodon, and I must have food. We nearly starved to death in that cave. Then I shall send a runner north to the eaves where Oose and the remnants of his people are hiding, after which we will go down to the Lural Az, where your ships lie, Ghak, and embark for home; if you feel that you have taught the Suvians their lessons sufficiently well.”
Between the canyon and the village of Kali, they saw a party of men coming from the north. At sight of so many armed warriors, these people turned to flee; but O-aa called to them, “Come back! It is all right; these are our friends;” then she said to Ghak, “those are my people; I recognized my father, the king of Kali.”
When the newcomers approached more closely, Hodon saw the Blug was with Oose; and he went and put his arm around O-aa. When Blug saw that, he ran forward.
“I told you that if you were around here when I came back, I’d kill you,” he shouted.
“Go away!” said O-aa. “Hodon is my mate.”
“What is that?” demanded Oose, her father. “I told you you were to mate with Blug, and I meant it; Blug shall have you.”
“I kill!” shouted Blug, as he bore down on Hodon.
The Sarian met him with a clean right to the chin, and Blug dropped in his tracks. The Sarian warriors yelled in delight; but Blug was up in an instant, and this time he managed to clinch. The two men fell to the ground, fighting like a couple of wild cats. It was not a pretty fight, as the Marquis of Queensberry was entirely unknown to these men of the Stone Age. They gouged and bit and scratched, as Blug tried to fasten his teeth in Hodon’s jugular.
They were both covered with blood, and one of Blug’s eyes was hanging out on his cheek, when Hodon espied a rock lying near at hand. He happened to be on top for the moment; and, seizing the rock, he raised it high and brought it down with all his strength full on Blug’s face.
Blug had never been beautiful; but without any features to speak of left, and those scrambled, he was something of a sight. Hodon raised the rock and struck again; the third time, Blug relaxed and lay still; but Hodon did not stop striking him until his whole head was a jelly; then he stood up.
He looked at Oose. “O-aa is my mate,” he said.
Oose looked down at Blug. “Blug is not much good any more,” he said. “If O-aa wants you she may have you.”
They looked around, then, for O-aa. She had disappeared. “It has always been thus,” said Hodon. “Three times I have fought for her, and three times she has run away while I was fighting.”
“When you catch her, you should beat her,” said Oose.
“I will,” said Hodon.
He searched for O-aa for a long time, but he did not find her; then he came to the village of Kali, where his fellow Sarians were eating and resting.
When David Innes had rested sufficiently, the Sarians bid the Kalians farewell and departed for their ships, which lay off the coast forty miles away.
Hodon went with them. He was very sad, for he thought that O-aa had run away from him because she did not really wish to be his mate.
And O-aa? When she had seen Blug get his arms around Hodon, and the two men had fallen to the ground, she had known that Hodon would be killed; so she had run away, rather than remain and mate with Blug. She started south, intending to find Sari, which lay eight hundred miles away. She knew that she had a long journey before her and that the chances were quite remote that she would survive all the innumerable dangers of the way; but, with Hodon dead, she did not care much.
She was a cave girl, and death was such a familiar occurrence in her life that she did not fear it particularly. Early man must have been a fatalist; otherwise he would have gone crazy from fear. O-aa was a fatalist. She said to herself, “If the tarag, or the thipdar, or Ta-ho happened to meet me at just the right time and place, I shall be killed. Whatever they and I are doing now must lead up to that moment when we meet or do not meet; nothing can change it.” That is the way she felt; so she did not worry—but she kept her eyes and her ears open, just the same.
O-aa had never been to Sari, but she knew that it lay inland from the Lural Az and that between Kali and Sari there were a few tribes which belonged to the Federation and would be friendly to her. She would follow along the shore of the Lural Az until she found one of these tribes, and then she could get better directions for the remainder of her journey.
She knew that David Innes and the other Sarians would soon be going down to the sea and their ships, but she wanted to avoid them for fear that they would send her back to her father and Blug; so she went quite a distance south before she turned toward the east and the Lural Az, that great body of uncharted water, teeming with giant saurians, such as ruled the Cretaceous seas in the Mesozoic period of the outer crust. O-aa was a hill girl and was afraid of the great sea, but no less terrible were the dangers that threatened her on land.
And as O-aa came down to the sea of which she was so afraid, eyes watched her from the concealment of bushes that she was approaching.