Suddenly he heard a shrill cry for help. He leapt up, fully awake,
and raced toward the sound. From around the sharp bend a young woman ran,
her eyes wide with fright. Behind her in close pursuit was a man whom Buckshee
recognized at once to be a companion of his youth, a dacoit, ruthless,
bold, and cruel.
Save me! she cried.
The dacoit laughed, showing his black teeth and
red stained gums. He
drew a knife from his belt with a flourish.
How could a ragged beggar save you?
he scoffed. Stand aside, fellow, and spare me
the trouble of using my knife. He reached down to grab the woman.
In a flash Buckshee knew what he must do. Expertly, the cunning and
agility of his past profession returning to him, he struck the dacoit a
numbing blow. Then grabbing his wrist, he twisted it until the knife fell
to the ground. He kicked the knife far into the brush, shouted run
to the young woman, and stood with folded arms in the path of the dacoit.
Furious now, the dacoit drew a second dagger from his belt and would
have plunged it into Banshee's heart had not Buckshee again struck him,
this time stunning him. The dacoit fell. Buckshee seemed to himself to be
possessed of a supernatural agility and strength; he could easily have
slain his old friend. He wrested the second dagger from him, threw it,
too, into the brush and, taking the rope the dacoit used for a belt, bound
his hands securely behind his back, seeing as he did so that those huge
and rough hands were stained with fresh blood. He realized with horror
that the dacoit had recently killed someone, probably the person or persons
with whom the young woman had been traveling. He wiped his own bloodied
hands on the grass and shook the dacoit. Get up,