All who meant it were on him now. The Venus, blinded with blood, had her hold at last; and never but once in a long life of battles had she let go; Rasper, his breath coming in rattles, had him horribly by the loins; while a dozen other devils with red eyes and wrinkled nostrils clung still.
Long odds! And down he went, smothered beneath the weight of numbers, yet struggled up again. His great head was torn and dripping; his eyes a gleam of rolling red and white; the little tail stern and stiff like the gallant stump of a flagstaff shot away. He was desperate, but indomitable; and he sobbed as he fought doggedly on.
Long odds! It could not last. And down he went at length, silent still--never a cry should they wring from him in his agony the Venus glued to that mangled pad; Rasper beneath him now; three at his throat; two at his ears; a crowd on flanks and body.
The Terror of the Border was down at last!
"Wullie, ma Wullie!" screamed M'Adam, bounding down the slope a crook's length in front of the rest. "Wullie! Wullie! to me!"
At the shrill cry the huddle below was convulsed. It heaved and swelled and dragged to and fro, like the sea lashed into life by some dying leviathan.
A gigantic figure, tawny and red, fought its way to the surface. A great tossing head, bloody past recognition, flung out from the ruck. One quick glance he shot from his ragged eyes at the little flying form in front; then with a roar like a waterfall plunged toward it, shaking off the bloody leeches as he went.
"Wullie! Wullie! I'm wi' ye!" cried that little voice, now so near.