On the opposite slope the babel had subsided now. Hucksters left their wares, and bookmakers their stools, to watch the struggle. Every eye was intent on the moving figures of man and dog and three sheep over the stream.
One after one the competitors ran their course and penned their sheep--there was no single failure. And all received their just meed of applause, save only Adam M'Adam's Red Wull.
Last of all, when Owd Bob trotted out to uphold his title, there went up such a shout as made Maggie's wan cheeks to blush with pleasure, and wee Anne to scream right lustily.
His was an incomparable exhibition. Sheep should be humored rather than hurried; coaxed, rather than coerced. And that sheepdog has attained the summit of his art who subdues his own personality and leads his sheep in pretending to be led. Well might the bosoms of the Dalesmen swell with pride as they watched their favorite at his work; well might Tammas pull out that hackneyed phrase, "The brains of a mon and the way of a woman"; well might the crowd bawl their enthusiasm, and Long Kirby puff his cheeks and rattle the money in his trouser pockets.
But of this part it is enough to say that Pip, Owd Bob, and Red Wull were selected to fight out the struggle afresh.
The course was altered and stiffened. On the far side the stream it remained as before; up the slope; round a flag; down the hill again; through the gap in the wall; along the hillside; down through the two flags; turn; and to the stream again. But the pen was removed from its former position, carried over the bridge, up the near slope, and the hurdles put together at the very foot of the spectators.
The sheep had to be driven over the plank bridge, and the penning done beneath the very nose of the crowd. A stiff course, if ever there was one; and the time allowed, ten short minutes.
The spectators hustled and elbowed in their endeavors to obtain a good position. And well they might; for about to begin was the finest exhibition of sheep-handling any man there was ever to behold.