Not once, during that meteoric, shriek-punctured downward flight, did Lad loose his grip on the torn forearm. But as the two struck the flagging at the bottom, he shifted his hold, with lightning speed; stabbing once more for the exposed jugular.
He lunged murderously at his mark. Yes, and this time he found it. His teeth had touched the pudgy throat, and began to cleave their remorseless way to the very life of the man who had slain Lady.
But, out of the jumble of cries and stamping feet and explosive shouts from the scared onlookers on the veranda above, one staccato yell pierced the swirl of rage-mists in the avenging collie's brain.
"LAD!" came the Master's sharp, scandalized mandate. "LAD!!!"
Hating the thought of desisting from his cherished revenge, the dog heard and heeded. With visible reluctance, he drew back from the slaughter; and turned his noble head to face the man who was running down the steps toward him.
Lad knew well what he might expect, for this thing he had done. He knew the Law. He knew, almost from birth, the courteous tolerance due to folk among whom his deities took him. And now he had made an industrious effort to kill one of these people.
It was no light offense for a dog to attack a human. Lad, like every well-trained collie, knew that. His own death might well follow. Indeed, from the babel of voices on the veranda, squalling confusedly such hackneyed sentiments as "Mad dog!" and "Get a gun!" it seemed highly probable that Lad was due to suffer full penalty, from the man-pack.
Yet he gave no heed to the clamor. Instead, turning slowly, he faced the Master; ready for whatever might follow. But nothing followed,--nothing at least that he expected.