In another brace of seconds the lights once, more picked up the dark animal with its white bundle. Eitel shrank back in his seat. But Roodie put on another notch of gas. And, coming closer, both recognized the strange bundle-carrier as a dark-hued collie dog.
The identification did little to ease their feeling of incredulous mystification. But it banished their superstitious dread. Both of them were used to dogs. And though neither could guess how this particular dog happened to be stealing the twice-stolen baby, yet neither had the remotest fear of tackling the beast and rescuing its human plunder.
Roodie brought the abused runabout to another jerky stop within a few inches of the unconcerned collie. And he and Eitel swarmed earthward from opposite sides of the machine. In a trice, Roodie had struck Lad over the head; while Eitel grabbed at the bundle to drag it away from the dog.
Now, the weight of years was beginning to tell on Laddie. But that weight had not robbed him of the ability to call, at will, upon much of his oldtime strength and bewildering swiftness. Nor had it in any way dampened his hero-spirit or dulled his uncannily wise brain.
He had been plodding peacefully along, bearing home a wonderful gift--a gift oftener confided to the care of storks than of collies--when he had been attacked from two sides in most unprovoked fashion. He had been struck! His blood surged hot.
There was no Law governing such a case. So, as usual in new crises, Lad proceeded to make his own Law and to put it into effect.
A deft turn of the head eluded Eitel's snatching hand. With the lightness of a feather, Lad deposited the bundle in the soft dust of the road. In practically, the same gesture, the dog's curving eye-tooth slashed Eitel's outstretched wrist to the bone.
Then, staggering under a second head-blow from Roodie, the collie wheeled with lightning-swift fury upon this more hostile of his two assailants.