Old Peleg had remembered, and anticipating another invasion sooner or later, he had succeeded in arranging some sort of ingenious trap on the spot.
In jumping Paul had set off the trigger, with the consequence that a noose had instantly tightened around his ankles, and a hogshead partly filled with stones, starting to roll down the slope, had drawn his legs upward.
Well, at any rate there he was, clinging to the grass, and with an unseen force pulling at his elevated feet, so that he was helpless to assist himself.
It was very funny, no doubt, but Paul hardly felt like laughing, just then. He tried to wriggle around so as to get at the loop, in the hope that he might loosen the same; but all his efforts were wasted.
Old Peleg had builded better than he expected when he set that trap in which to catch his tormentors.
He was coming now to see the result of his cunning. No doubt he had heard the tremendous rattle as the bulging barrel of stones started to roll down the slope after being liberated; for even a deaf man could hardly have missed that racket. Lantern in hand he was even now hobbling along, chuckling in anticipation of what he would find in his trap.
Closer came the limping farmer. Paul saw now that he held a vicious black whip in his right hand, while gripping a lighted lantern in the other.
Laughter in the distance told that the boys had all taken themselves off. They could not suspect what a dire calamity had befallen their leader, or a rescue party must have certainly been formed.
Another minute and Peleg had arrived at the fence, and bending over held the lantern so that its light fell upon the figure of his captive.
“Gut ye, have I? Mebbe ye’ll try to paint some critters of mine agin, an’ mebbe ye won’t!” said the farmer, as he raised the ugly black whip which he held, with the evident intention of bringing it down good and hard on the helpless boy.
TURNING THE TABLES
“Wait, Mr. Growdy!” Paul hastened to exclaim.
The old man laughed harshly as he flourished the whip. Perhaps he had never struck a boy before in all his life, and hardly knew how to begin; but his temper was plainly disturbed, and he meant to make a start.
“What should I wait fur, when I cort ye in the very act? Paint my critters red, white an’ blue, will ye? P’raps ye wanted to pull all the feathers out o’ my flock o’ chickens this time, an’ think it funny. Sarve ye right if I gi’e ye a dozen stripes!”
“Mr. Growdy, I did you a favor once!” said the prisoner of the trap, wishing to keep the old man as long as possible from starting operations.
“Say ye so? Wall, this wipes it out then. Who air ye, anyway?”
The farmer bent lower, and thrust his lantern so that its light would fall upon the face of the boy. Immediately he uttered a grunt, for it was plain that he had recognized his captive.