The party in front were received with the same galling fire as before, and at the same moment a sound, coming apparently from the road beyond the avenue, a sound as of the steady tramp, tramp of infantry, and the heavy rumbling and rolling of artillery, smote upon their ears.
There had been a report that Federal troops were on the march to suppress the outrages, and protect the helpless victims, and seized with panic terror, the raiders gathered up their dead and wounded and fled.
“Thus far our fortune keeps an onward course And we are grac’d with wreaths of victory.”
“Victory!” shouted Horace, Jr., waving his handkerchief about his head, “victory, and an end to the reign of terror! Hurrah for the brave troops of Uncle Sam that came so opportunely to the rescue! Come, let us sally forth to meet them. Elsie, unlock your stores and furnish the refreshments they have so well earned.”
“They draw nearer!” cried Arthur, who had been listening intently. “Haste! they must be about entering the avenue. They will meet the raiders. Travilla, uncle, shall we make an opening here in our breastworks?”
“Yes,” answered both in a breath, then, as if struck by a sudden thought, “No, no, let us reconnoitre first!” cried Mr. Dinsmore. “Horace, run up to the observatory, take a careful survey, and report as promptly as possible.”
Horace bounded away, hardly waiting to hear the conclusion of the sentence.
“I counsel delay,” said old Mr. Dinsmore who was peering through a loophole, “the troops have not entered the avenue, the Ku Klux may return; though I do not expect it after the severe repulse we have twice given them; but ‘discretion is the better part of valor.’”
“Right, sir,” said Mr. Lilburn, “let us give them no chance for a more successful onslaught.”
“Oh, yes, do be careful!” cried the ladies, joining them, “don’t tear down the least part of our defences yet.”
“Have they really fled? Are you all unhurt?” asked Rose in trembling tones.
“Edward! papa!” faltered Elsie.
“Safe and sound,” they both answered.
“Thank God! thank God!” she cried as her husband folded her in his arms, and her father took her hand in his, while with the other arm he embraced Rose.
“We have indeed cause for thankfulness,” said Arthur, returning from a hurried circuit of the verandas, “not one on our side has received a scratch. But I have ordered the men to remain at their posts for the present.”
Horace came rushing back. “I can not understand it! I see no sign of troops, though—”
“The darkness,” suggested his mother.
“Hark! hark! the bugle call; they are charging on the Ku Klux!” exclaimed Arthur, as a silvery sound came floating on the night breeze.
“Oh they have come! they have come!” cried Rosie, clapping her hands and dancing up and down with delight. “Now our troubles are over and there will be no more of these dreadful raids.” And in the exuberance of her joy she embraced first her mother, then her sister, and lastly threw herself into her father’s arms.