As a result, there was but one direction the dazed sheep could take--the direction whence they had come. And, uncertainly, shamblingly, they made their way back toward the fold.
Scarce had they been fairly started in their cowed progress when Chum was off at a tangent, deserting his six charges and bearing down with express train speed on a stray wether that had paused in his escape to nibble at a line of early peas in the truck garden.
At sight of the approaching collie the sheep flung up its head and began again to run. But the dog was in front of it, whichever way the panic-stricken animal turned;--in every direction but one. And in that direction fled the fugitive. Nor did it stop in its headlong flight until it was alongside the six which Chum had first "turned".
Pausing only long enough to round up one or two sheep which were breaking loose from the bunch Chum was off again in headlong chase of still another and another and another stray.
Link Ferris, in blank incredulity, stood gaping at the picture before him--staring at the tireless swiftness of his dog in turning back and rounding up a scattered flock which Ferris himself could not have bunched in twenty times the space of minutes. Chum, he noted, did not touch one of the foolish beasts. His bark and his zigzag dashes served the purpose, without the aid of teeth or of actual contact.
Presently, as the dumbfounded man gazed, the last stray was added to the milling, bleating bunch, and Chum was serenely trotting to and fro, driving back such of the sheep as sought to break loose from the huddle. Terrified and trembling, but mastered, the flock cowered motionless. The work was done.
As in a dream Link tumbled toward the prisoners. His mind functioning subconsciously, he took up his interrupted task of driving them to pasture. The moment he succeeded in getting them into motion they broke again. And again, like a furry whirlwind, Chum was encircling them; chasing the strays into place. He saw, without being told, the course his master was taking, and he drove his charges accordingly.
Thus, in far less time and in better order than ever before, the flock reached the rickety gateway of the stone-strewn sheep pasture and scuttled jostlingly in through it.