Shan Rhue’s body was heaving painfully. It was evident that he had never had before a struggle like this.
Little by little he recovered, but Ted’s recovery was quicker than that of the man. His youth and strength were responsible for this.
But finally Shan Rhue was himself again, and suddenly he leaped to his feet and glared around. His eyes fell upon Ted, and he looked him up and down in a sort of amazement.
Had this stripling accomplished what older and stronger men had failed in?
Shan Rhue could hardly believe it, but it took some of the conceit out of him at that. However, his anger at Ted had not been in the least assuaged by the fact that the first honors had gone to this youth who now stood watching him with a smile on his lips, but with the light of battle in his eyes.
With a sneer Shan Rhue rushed at Ted. This time he would annihilate him.
But Ted was crouching, awaiting him. His muscles were like steel springs. His breath had come to him again, and he was ready to fight for his life, for it had come to that now. Suddenly there was a smack, sharp and clear in the silence that hung over the crowd.
Shan Rhue staggered back on his heels. The blow from Ted’s fist had struck him fairly below the eye. Before he could recover Ted was upon him like a panther.
One, two, three, blows fell with a sharp, sickening sound upon the face and throat of the famous Shan Rhue, as he lurched backward, vainly trying to defend himself.
His body went to the earth with a crash, and he lay there moaning and quivering, beaten, discredited, and no more the hero, for he had been conquered by a boy.
Kit makes A capture.
Shan Rhue lay prostrate for a long time, but no one went to his assistance. As he fell the gamblers raised a shout, and made a motion to attack Ted.
But the foreman of Running Water sprang in front of them, and as if by magic the broncho boys and the cow-punchers and other supporters of Hatrack were by his side.
Ted had leaped to the fore and was standing shoulder to shoulder with the foreman of Running Water. He heard a ripple of laughter, and looked up to see Stella standing by his side.
“Bully for you, Ted,” she said. “You did that fine.”
Ted smiled back at her, then turned his eyes upon the surprised and angry gamblers. There was something there that demanded all his attention. The gamblers only needed a leader to make them a dangerous proposition.
But their leader was down and out by reason of a few neat and handy blows, and none other had the courage to come to the front. It was the psychological moment.
Ted Strong took advantage of it. Without a moment’s hesitation, he stepped in front of the foreman of Running Water, who moved back to give him the place of vantage.