He tried to dodge it, he put up his hand to drive it away, then wheeled about a second time, as the furious bark was renewed in his rear but turned pale and looked absolutely frightened at the discovery that the dog was still invisible; then reddened again at perceiving that everybody was laughing.
His cousin Elsie was trying to explain, but could not make herself heard above the furious barking. She looked imploringly at Mr. Lilburn, and it ceased on the instant.
Calhoun dropped into a chair and glanced inquiringly from one to another.
His uncle answered him in a single word, “Ventriloquism.”
“Sold!” exclaimed the youth, joining faintly in the mirth. “Strange I did not think of that, though how could I suppose there was a ventriloquist here?”
“An excellent one, is he not? You must hear what good service he did last night,” said Mr. Travilla, and went on to tell the story of the attack and defense.
Elsie and Eddie listened to the account with keen interest. Vi, who had been devoting herself in motherly fashion to a favorite doll, laid it aside to hear what was said; but Harold was playing with Bruno, who seemed hardly yet to have recovered from his wonder at not finding the strange canine intruder who had so roused his ire.
Harold had climbed upon his back, and with his arms around his neck, was talking to him in an undertone. “Now you’s my horse, Bruno; let’s go ridin’ like papa and Beppo.”
The dog started toward the door. “With all my heart, little master; which way shall we go?”
“Why, Bruno, you s’prise me! can you talk?” cried the little fellow in great delight. “Why didn’t you begin sooner? Mamma, oh mamma, did you hear Bruno talk?”
Mamma smiled, and said gently, “Be quiet, son, while papa and the rest are talking: or else take Bruno out to the veranda.”
Cousin Ronald was amusing himself with the children. Vi’s doll presently began to cry and call upon her to be taken up, and she ran to it in surprised delight, till she remembered that it was “only Cousin Ronald and not dolly at all.”
But Cousin Ronald had a higher object than his own or the children’s amusement: he was trying to divert their thoughts from the doings of the Ku Klux, lest they should grow timid and fearful.
“Revenge at first though sweet,
Bitter ere long, back on itself recoils.”
George Boyd, who was of most vindictive temper, had laid his plans for the night of the raid upon Ion, to wreak his vengeance not upon Travilla only, but also upon the woman on whose clothing he had left the impress of his bloody hand.
With this in view, he went first to the kitchen department where, as he had learned through the gossip of the servants, she now passed the night, intending afterward to have a hand in the brutal flogging to be meted out to Mr. Travilla. He headed the attacking party there, and it was he who received upon his person the full broadside from Aunt Dicey’s battery of soap ladles.