Before he could plan his next move the black was at him again. This time they reared together, met with a clash of teeth and rapid beat of hoofs, and parted on equal terms. Alcatraz eyed his enemy with a fierce respect. His head was dull and ringing with the blows; his shoulder had been slightly cut by a glancing forehoof. Decidedly he could not meet the brawn of this hardened old warrior on such terms. He had used up one trick, he must find another, and still another; and when the black rushed again, Alcatraz slipped away from the contact and raced off at his matchless gallop. The other pursued a short distance and stopped, sounding his defiance and his triumph. As well follow the wind as the chestnut stranger. Besides, the blood was pouring from the gash in his shoulder and that foreleg was growing weak; it was well that the battle had ended at this point.
But it was not ended! Flight was not in the mind of Alcatraz as he swept away. He ran in dodging circles about the enemy, swerving in and then veering sharply out as the black reared to meet the expected charge. Whatever else was accomplished, he had gained the initiative and that plus his lightness of foot might bring matters to a decisive issue in his favor. Twice he made his rush; twice the black turned and met him with that shower of crushing blows with the fore hoofs. But the third time a feint at one side and a charge at the other took the leader unawares. Fair and true the shoulder of Alcatraz struck him on the side and the impact flung the black heavily to the earth. The shock had staggered even Alcatraz but he was at the other like a savage terrier. Thrice he stamped across that struggling body until the black lay motionless with his coat crimson from twenty slashes. Then Alcatraz drew away and neighed his triumph, and in his exultation he noted that the herd drew close together at his call.
Why, he could not imagine, and he had no time to ponder on it, for the black was now struggling to his feet. But there was no fight left in him. He stood dazed, with fallen head, and to the challenge of the chestnut he replied by not so much as the pricking of his flagging ears.
The grey mare went to him, touched noses with her overlord, and then backed away, shaking her head. Presently she trotted past Alcatraz, flung up her heels within an inch of his head, and then galloped on towards the herd looking back at the conqueror. Oh vanity of the weaker sex; oh frailty! She had seen her master crushed and within the minute she was flirting with the conqueror.
The herd started off as the grey joined them and Alcatraz followed; the black leader remaining unmoving and the blood dripped steadily down his legs.