Suddenly the dance turned into marching, the earth resounded with the tramp, tramp of advancing feet, the music became a martial strain; it stirred the blood to fever heat and set the pulses leaping madly. Louder and more triumphant swelled the strain, louder came the tramp of the victorious armies following in the wake of trumpets, until the whole earth seemed to mingle its voice in one great shout of victory.
Without knowing it the listeners were on their feet, clutching each other with tense fingers, their eyes blurred with tears, their throats aching with emotion, their hearts burning to perform deeds of valor for their country, to fight to the last ditch, to die as heroes for their native land.
They hardly realized when Veronica had stopped playing and slipped quietly out of the room.
“God, what playing!” breathed Mr. Wing to the artist. “Music like that would turn cowards into heroes and heroes into demi-gods; would inspire a wooden dummy to fight to the last ditch for freedom and native land. Daggers and Dirks! What a red-hot little American she is! Why, if a dead man heard her play the ‘Star Spangled Banner’ the way she just played it, he’d rise up to protect his country. Yes, and his very monument would shoulder a gun and get into the ranks against the foe!”
Refreshments were brought in and the babel of tongues broke loose again. Everyone asked for Veronica, wanted to sit beside her and tell her what a wonderful genius she was, but she was nowhere to be found. Grandmother Wing came in presently and said that Veronica had slipped out and gone home because she had a sick headache and wanted to be alone.
“She has those headaches so often,” said Migwan in a tone of concern. “I wonder if I hadn’t better go home after her.”
“She said she wanted to be alone,” said Nyoda thoughtfully. “She always does, you know, when she has a headache. I don’t believe I’d go after her. She’ll go right to bed and be all right in the morning.”
With many expressions of regret at Veronica’s indisposition the boys and girls resumed their frolic.
Slim and the Captain, still in their roles of mammy and pickaninny, walked home with the Winnebagos when the party finally broke up, the pickaninny trundling his own one-wheeled chariot, which was so full of presents there was no room for him.
Nyoda broke the news to them of their appointment as executioners of Kaiser Bill and they accepted the commission gravely. “‘Horatius,’ quoth the consul, ‘as thou sayst, so let it be,’” quoted Slim with a dramatic flourish. “We’ll execute your orders and the goat at the same time. But does it take two to speed the fatal ball? Why am I honored thus when here beside me stands the world’s champion crack shot, even the great Cicero St. John?”
The Captain suddenly flushed and glared at Slim, but said nothing.