In his sudden dismay, he drove down both feet on the pedals. The indignant car stalled. Through the blackness ahead, the white ray from the lamps had picked up a weird object. And the two brethren stared at it, slack-jawed.
Walking sedately on, in front of the stalled runabout, and in the exact centre of the dusty road, moved an animal. Huge and formless it bulked, as it receded into the fainter glow of light. It might have been anything from a lion to a bear; in that uncertain glimmer. But, the lamps' rays played strongly enough on one detail of the apparition to identify it, past doubt, to both the dumfounded onlookers. They saw, clearly enough, a white bundle suspended from the monster's jaws;--unquestionably the bundle which had been laid behind the alder.
For perhaps ten seconds the men sat moveless, gaping goggle-eyed. Then, the driver murmured in a faraway voice:
"Did you--did you--was you fool enough to think you seen anything? Was you, Eitel?"
"I-I sure seen SUTHIN', Roodie," quavered Eitel. "Suthin' with--with the kid in its mouth. It--"
"That's good enough for me!" announced the heroic Roodie, stamping again on the self-starter.
"If we both seen it, then it was THERE. And I'm goin' after it."
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.