Brossard sank on his knees in a shivering heap, and began crossing himself. His hair was upright with horror, and his tongue stiff. Jules knew who it was that danced around them in such giddy circles, first darting towards them with threatening gestures, and then gliding back to utter one of those awful, sickening wails. He knew that under that fiery head and wrapped in that spectral dress was his “fearless friend,” who, according to promise, had hastened her aid to lend; nevertheless, he was afraid of her himself. He had never imagined that anything could look so terrifying.
The wail reached Henri’s ears and aroused his curiosity. Cautiously opening the kitchen door, he thrust out his head, and then nearly fell backward in his haste to draw it in again and slam the door. One glimpse of the ghost in the barnyard was quite enough for Henri.
Altogether the performance probably did not last longer than a minute, but each of the sixty seconds seemed endless to Brossard. With a final die-away moan Joyce glided towards the gate, delighted beyond measure with her success; but her delight did not last long. Just as she turned the corner of the house, some one standing in the shadow of it clutched her. A strong arm was thrown around her, and a firm hand snatched the lantern, and tore the sheet away from her face.
[Illustration: “Brossard, beware! Beware!”]
It was Joyce’s turn to be terrified. “Let me go!” she shrieked, in English. With one desperate wrench she broke away, and by the light of the grinning jack-o’-lantern saw who was her captor. She was face to face with Monsieur Ciseaux.
“What does this mean?” he asked, severely. “Why do you come masquerading here to frighten my servants in this manner?”
For an instant Joyce stood speechless. Her boasted courage had forsaken her. It was only for an instant, however, for the rhyme that she had made seemed to sound in her ears as distinctly as if Jules were calling to her:
Hasten, pray, thy aid to lend.”
“I will be a fearless friend,” she thought. Looking defiantly up into the angry face she demanded: “Then why do you keep such servants? I came because they needed to be frightened, and I’m glad you caught me, for I told Jules that I should tell you about them as soon as you got home. Brossard has starved and beaten him like a dog ever since he has been here. I just hope that you will look at the stripes and bruises on his poor little back. He begged me not to tell, for Brossard said you would likely drive him away, as you did your brother and sister. But even if you do, the neighbors say that an orphan asylum would be a far better home for Jules than this has been. I hope you’ll excuse me, monsieur, I truly do, but I’m an American, and I can’t stand by and keep still when I see anybody being abused, even if I am a girl, and it isn’t polite for me to talk so to older people.”