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Chapter 9. Hooja's Cutthroats Appear
I had built a little shelter of rocks and brush where I might crawl in and sleep out of the
perpetual light and heat of the noonday sun. When I was tired or hungry I retired to my
humble cot.
My masters never interposed the slightest objection. As a matter of fact, they were very
good to me, nor did I see aught while I was among them to indicate that they are ever else
than a simple, kindly folk when left to themselves. Their awe-inspiring size, terrific
strength, mighty fighting-fangs, and hideous appearance are but the attributes necessary
to the successful waging of their constant battle for survival, and well do they employ
them when the need arises. The only flesh they eat is that of herbivorous animals and
birds. When they hunt the mighty thag, the prehistoric bos of the outer crust, a single
male, with his fiber rope, will catch and kill the greatest of the bulls.
Well, as I was about to say, I had this little shelter at the edge of my melon-patch. Here I
was resting from my labors on a certain occasion when I heard a great hub-bub in the
village, which lay about a quarter of a mile away.
Presently a male came racing toward the field, shout- ing excitedly. As he approached I
came from my shelter to learn what all the commotion might be about, for the monotony
of my existence in the melon-patch must have fostered that trait of my curiosity from
which it had always been my secret boast I am peculiarly free.
The other workers also ran forward to meet the mes- senger, who quickly unburdened
himself of his informa- tion, and as quickly turned and scampered back toward the
village. When running these beast-men often go upon all fours. Thus they leap over
obstacles that would slow up a human being, and upon the level attain a speed that would
make a thoroughbred look to his laurels. The result in this instance was that before I had
more than assimilated the gist of the word which had been brought to the fields, I was
alone, watching my co-workers speeding villageward.
I was alone! It was the first time since my capture that no beast-man had been within
sight of me. I was alone! And all my captors were in the village at the op- posite edge of
the mesa repelling an attack of Hooja's horde!
It seemed from the messenger's tale that two of Gr-gr-gr's great males had been set upon
by a half-dozen of Hooja's cutthroats while the former were peaceably returning from the
thag hunt. The two had returned to the village unscratched, while but a single one of
Hooja's half-dozen had escaped to report the outcome of the battle to their leader. Now
Hooja was coming to punish Gr-gr-gr's people. With his large force, armed with the bows
and arrows that Hooja had learned from me to make, with long lances and sharp knives, I
feared that even the mighty strength of the beastmen could avail them but little.