To Link it seemed that nothing could save Chum from a backbreaking blow from the huge club. Instinctively he ran at the wielder of the formidable weapon. Staggering and sick and two-thirds drunk, Ferris, nevertheless, made valiant effort to save the dog that was fighting so gallantly for him.
His lurching rush carried him across the narrow road and to the lake edge, barely in time to intercept the swinging sweep of the fence rail. It caught him glancingly across the side. And its force carried him clean off his none-too-steady feet. Down went Ferris--down and backward. His body plunged noisily into the water.
Chum had wheeled to face the rail's brandisher. But at sight of his master's sudden immersion in the lake, he quitted the fray. At top speed the dog cleared the bank and jumped down into the water in pursuit of Ferris.
It evidently dawned on both men at once that there had been a good deal of noise, for what was to have been a silent and decorous holdup. Also that a raging collie is not a pleasant foe. The racket might well draw interference from outside. The dog was overhard to kill, and his bites were murderous. The game had ceased to be worth the candle. By common impulse the pair took to their heels.
Link Ferris, head down in the cold water, was strangling in his maudlin efforts to right himself. He dug both hands into the lake-bottom mud and strove to gain the surface. But the effort was too much for him. A second frantic heave had better results. And vaguely he knew why.
For Chum had managed to get a firm hold on the shoulder of his master's coat--twelve inches under water--and had braced himself with all his wiry strength for a tug which should lift Ferris to the surface.
This added leverage barely made Link's own struggle a success. The half-drowned man regained his footing. Floundering waist-deep in water, he clambered up the steeply shelving bank to shore. There at the road's edge he lay, gasping and sputtering and fighting for breath.
Chum had been pulled under and out of his depth by Link's exertions. Now, coming to the surface, he swam to shore and trotted up the bank to the road. Absurdly lank and small, with his soaking coat plastered close to his slim body, he stood over his prostrate master.