Then some silly cow had a whiff of the skin that bounded along in their tracks like a cat, and raised the cry of 'Tiger! Tiger! Far on the side from us, in the direction of the Squidgy Islands, Scrag trumpeted, followed by frantic splashing as the frightened herd plunged into the reed-beds. Taku slipped from my neck, shaking with laughter.

But my father had worked as far as the Grass Flats and beyond them, to a place of islands. "'Squidgy Islands, I told him. 'The Grass-Eaters go there to drop their calves every season. Taku kicked me behind the ears. "'Said I not you were a beast of a bad heart! he scolded. But how should I know he would care to hear about a lot of silly Mammoths. 'Also, he said, 'you are my Medicine.

But because Opata wanted the Stick of Long-Hand, he thought any stick of Taku's must be the one he wanted. And what Opata thought, the rest of the tribe thought also. So they rose up by clans and villages and followed after the Sign. That was how we came to the Squidgy Islands. There were willows there and young alders and bare knuckles of rock holding up the land.

"Six moons we had to stay in that place, for Scrag had hidden the herd so cleverly that it was not until the week-old calves began to squeak for their mothers that we found them. And from the time they were able to run under their mother's bodies, One-Tusk and I kept watch and watch to see that they did not break back to the Squidgy Islands.

"They bedded at the Grass Flats, but until Scrag herself had a mind to take the trail to the Squidgy Islands, there was nobody but Saber-Tooth could persuade her. "'Then Saber-Tooth shall help us, said my man. "Not for nothing was he called Taku-Wakin, which means 'The Wonderful. He brought a tiger cub's skin of his father's killing, dried stiff and sewed up with small stones inside it.

And looking about slyly with his little twinkling eyes at the attentive circle, the Mastodon began. "In my time, everything, even the shape of the land was different. From Two Rivers it was all marsh, marsh and swamp with squidgy islands, with swamp and marsh again till you came to hills and hard land, beyond which was the sea.

'Then my lie an' my sunstroke is concealed under that lump av sod yonder, retorted Mulvaney unruffled, nodding across the scrub. 'An' there's a dale more in nature than your squidgy little legs have iver taken you to, Orth'ris, me son. Four hundred an' thirty-four rupees by my reckonin', AN' a big fat gold necklace that I took from him as a remimbrancer, was our share in that business.

"Then my lie an' my sunstroke is concealed under that lump av sod yonder," retorted Mulvaney, unruffled, nodding across the scrub. "An' there's a dale more in nature than your squidgy little legs have iver taken you to, Orth'ris, me son. Four hundred an' thirty-four rupees by my reckoning an' a big fat gold necklace that I took from him as a remimbrancer, was our share in that business."