“Have you heard of last night’s doings of the Ku Klux?” were the first words of Horace Jr. when the greetings had been exchanged.
“Run away, dears, run away to your play,” Elsie said to her children, and at once they obeyed.
“Uncle Joe came in this morning with a story that Jones, the stage driver had been shot by them last night in this vicinity,” Mr. Travilla answered, “but I stopped him in the midst of it, as the children were present. Is it a fact?”
“Only too true,” replied Mr. Dinsmore.
“Yes,” said Horace, “I rode into the town, before breakfast, found it full of excitement; the story on everybody’s tongue, and quite a large crowd about the door of the house where the body of the murdered man lay.”
“And is the murderer still at large,” asked Elsie.
“Yes; and the worst of it is that no one seems to have the least idea who he is.”
“The disguise preventing recognition, of course,” said Mr. Travilla.
Then the grandfather and uncle were surprised with an account of little Vi’s escapade.
“If Violet were my child,” said Mr. Dinsmore, “I should consult Dr. Burton about her at once. There must be undue excitement of the brain that might be remedied by proper treatment.”
Elsie cast an anxious look at her husband.
“I shall send for the doctor immediately,” he said, and summoning a servant dispatched him at once upon the errand.
“Don’t be alarmed, daughter,” Mr. Dinsmore said; “doubtless a little care will soon set matters right with the child.”
“Yes; I do not apprehend any thing serious, if the thing is attended to in time,” Mr. Travilla added cheerfully; then went on to tell of the notice affixed to Fairview gate.
They were all of the opinion that these evil doers, should, if possible, be brought to justice; but the nature and extent of the organization rendered it no easy matter for the civil courts to deal with them. The order being secret, the members were known as such only among themselves, when strangers, recognizing each other by secret signs. They were sworn to aid and defend a brother member under all circumstances; were one justly accused of crime, others would come forward and prove an alibi by false swearing; were they on the jury, they would acquit him though perfectly cognizant of his guilt. In some places the sheriff and his deputies were members, perhaps the judge also[F]. Thus it happened that though one or two persons who had been heard to talk threateningly about Jones, as “a carpet-agger and Republican, who should be gotten rid of, by fair means or foul,” were arrested on suspicion, they were soon set at liberty again, and his death remained unavenged.
[Footnote F: See Reports of Congressional Committee of Investigation.]
“I feel my sinews slackened with the fright,
And a cold sweat thrills down o’er all my limbs
As if I were dissolving into water.”