By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 74

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.

At last had come the opportunity for which I waited! I was free to
make for the far end of the mesa, find my way to the valley below, and
while the two forces were engaged in their struggle, continue my search
for Hooja's village, which I had learned from the beast-men lay farther
on down the river that I had been following when taken prisoner.

As I turned to make for the mesa's rim the sounds of battle came
plainly to my ears--the hoarse shouts of men mingled with the
half-beastly roars and growls of the brute-folk.

Did I take advantage of my opportunity?

I did not. Instead, lured by the din of strife and by the desire to
deliver a stroke, however feeble, against hated Hooja, I wheeled and
ran directly toward the village.

When I reached the edge of the plateau such a scene met my astonished
gaze as never before had startled it, for the unique battle-methods of
the half-brutes were rather the most remarkable I had ever witnessed.
Along the very edge of the cliff-top stood a thin line of mighty
males--the best rope-throwers of the tribe. A few feet behind these
the rest of the males, with the exception of about twenty, formed a
second line. Still farther in the rear all the women and young
children were clustered into a single group under the protection of
the remaining twenty fighting males and all the old males.

But it was the work of the first two lines that interested me. The
forces of Hooja--a great horde of savage Sagoths and primeval cave
men--were working their way up the steep cliff-face, their agility but
slightly less than that of

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