“Shoot!” yelled Cordova. “Amigo, amigo, shoot! Quick—”
Then Alcatraz struck him!
Half the bones in his body must have been broken by the impact. It spun him over and over in the dust, yet as the impetus of the chestnut carried him far past, Cordova struggled to his feet and attempted to flee again. Alas, it was only a step! His left leg crumpled under him. He toppled sideways, still wriggling and twisting onwards through the dirt—and then Alcatraz struck him again.
This time is was no blind rush. Back and forth, up and down, he crossed and recrossed, wheeled and reared and stamped, until his one white stocking was crimsoned and spurts of red flew out and turned black in the dust.
The horror which had choked her relaxed and Marianne shrieked again. It was that second cry which saved a faint spark of life for Cordova for at the sound the stallion leaped sidewise from the body of his victim, lifted his head towards the half fainting girl in the window, and trumpeted a great neigh of defiance. Still neighing he swerved away into a gallop, cleared the fence a second time, and fled from view.
Towards the Eagles, rolling up like wind-blown smoke, Alcatraz fled, cleared one by one the fences about the small fields near Glosterville, and so came at last to the broader domains under the foothills. Here, on a rise of ground, he halted for the first time and looked back.
The heat waves, glimmering up endlessly, obscured Glosterville, but the wind, from some hidden house among the hills, bore to him wood-smoke scents with a mingling of the abhorrent odors of man. It made many an old scar of spur-gore and biting whiplash tingle; it was a background of pain which was like seasoning for the new delight of freedom.
As though there was a poundage of joy and additional muscle in self-mastery, the frame of the chestnut filled, his neck arched, and there came into his eyes that gleam which no man can describe and which for lack of words he calls the light of the wild.
Fear, to be sure, was still with him; would ever be with him, for the thought of man followed like galloping horses surrounding him, but what a small shadow was that in the sunshine of this new existence! His life had been the bitterness of captivity since Cordova took in part payment of a drunken gambling debt a sickly foal out of an old thoroughbred mare. The sire was unknown, and Cordova, disgusted at having to accept this wretched horseflesh in place of money, had beaten the six months’ old colt soundly and turned it loose in the pasture. There followed a brief season of happiness in the open pasture but when the new grass came, short and thick and sweet and crisp under tooth, Cordova came by the pasture and saw his yearling flirting away from the fastest of the older horses with a stretch gallop that amazed