"Git off ma coat!" the boy ordered angrily. marching up. But the great dog never stirred: he lifted a lip to show a fence of white, even teeth, and seemed to sink lower in the ground; his head on his paws, his eyes in his forehead.
"Come and take it!" he seemed to say.
Now what, between master and dog, David had endured almost more than he could bear that day.
"Yo' won't, won't yo', girt brute!" he shouted, and bending, snatched a corner of the coat and attempted to jerk it away. At that, Red Wull rose, shivering, to his feet, and with a low gurgle sprang at the boy.
David, quick as a flash, dodged, bent, and picked up an ugly stake, lying at his feet. Swinging round, all in a moment, he dealt his antagonist a mighty buffet on the side of the head. Dazed with the blow, the great dog fell; then, recovering himself, with a terrible, deep roar he sprang again. Then it must have gone hard with the boy, fine-grown, muscular young giant though he was. For Red Wull was now in the first bloom of that great strength which earned him afterward an undying notoriety in the land.
As it chanced, however, M'Adam had watched the scene from the kitchen. And now he came hurrying out of the house, shrieking commands and curses at the combatants. As Red Wull sprang, he interposed between the two, head back and eyes flashing. His small person received the full shock of the charge. He staggered, but recovered, and in an imperative voice ordered the dog to heel.
Then he turned on David, seized the stake from his hand, and began furiously belaboring the boy.
"I'll teach ye to strike--a puir--dumb--harrnless--creetur, ye--cruel-- cruel---lad!" he cried. "Hoo daur ye strike--ma----Wullie? yer-- father's----Wullie? Adam--M 'Adam's--Red Wull?" He was panting from his exertions, and his eyes were blazing. "I pit up as best I can wi' all manner o' disrespect to masel'; but when it comes to takin' ma puir Wullie, I cantia thole it. Ha' ye no heart?" he asked, unconscious of the irony of the question.