“Presently, thank you,” he said, bending down to snatch a kiss from the sweet lips.
She shrank from the caress almost with aversion.
“What’s the use of being so shy with a cousin?” he asked, laughing, “why Molly Percival likes to kiss me.”
“I think Molly would not be pleased if she knew you said that,” remarked the little girl, in a quiet tone, and moving farther from him as she spoke.
“Holding a levee, eh?” he said, glancing about upon the group. “How d’ye, young ladies and gentlemen? Holloa, Ed! so you’re the brave fellow that shot his father? Hope your grandfather dealt out justice to you in the same fashion that Wal and Dick’s did to them.”
Eddie could bear no more, but burst into an agony of tears and sobs.
“Calhoun Conly, do you think it very manly for a big fellow like you to torment such a little one as our Eddie?” queried Elsie, with rising indignation.
“No, I don’t,” he said frankly. “Never mind, Eddie, I take it all back, and own that the other two deserve the lion’s share of the blame, and punishment too. Come, shake hands and let’s make up.”
Eddie gave his hand, saying in broken tones, “I was a naughty boy, but papa has forgiven me, and I don’t mean ever to disobey him any more.”
“So false is faction, and so smooth a liar,
As that it never had a side entire.”
By the first of December Mr. Travilla had entirely recovered from the ill effects of his accident—which had occurred early in November—and life at Ion resumed its usual quiet, regular, but pleasant routine, varied only by frequent exchange of visits with the other families of the connection, and near neighbors, especially the Lelands.
Because of the presence among them of their northern relatives, this winter was made a gayer one than either of the last two, which had seen little mirth or jovialty among the older ones, subdued as they were by recent, repeated bereavements. Time had now somewhat assuaged their grief, and only the widowed ones still wore the garb of mourning.
A round of family parties for old and young filled up the holidays; and again just before the departure of the Rosses and Allisons in the early spring, they were all gathered at Ion for a farewell day together.
Some of the blacks in Mr. Leland’s employ had been beaten and otherwise maltreated only the previous night by a band of armed and disguised men, and the conversation naturally turned upon that occurrence.
“So the Ku Klux outrages have begun in our neighborhood,” remarked Mr. Horace Dinsmore, and went on to denounce their proceedings in unmeasured terms.
The faces of several of his auditors flushed angrily. Enna shot a fierce glance at him, muttering “scalawag,” half under her breath, while his old father said testily, “Horace, you speak too strongly. I haven’t a doubt the rascals deserved all they got. I’m told one of them at least, had insulted some lady, Mrs. Foster, I believe, and that the others had been robbing hen-roosts and smoke-houses.”