“Indeed, General Lee,” said Mrs. Meredith, apologetically, “the child meant no—”
“I tell you I’m not to be mollified by any woman’s brabble,” blustered Lee. “I know ’t is part and parcel of an attempt to ruin my character. Even to this silly witling, all are endeavouring to break me down by one succession of abominable, damnable lies. The very court that has been trying me would not believe that white was white as regards me, or that black was black as regards this G. Washington, whom the army and the people consider as an infallible divinity, when he is but a bladder of emptiness and pride. I am now on my way to get their verdict against me, and in favour of this Great Gargantua, or Lama Babek—for I know not which to call him—set aside, and I stopped in passing to tell you that I—”
What the general intended was not to be known, for at this point there came that which turned his thoughts. One of his dogs, an English spaniel, neither interested in Janice’s caricature of Lee, nor in Lee’s abuse of Washington, took advantage of his master’s preoccupation to steal into the house,— a proceeding which Clarion evidently resented, for suddenly from within came loud yaps and growls, which told only too plainly that if there was no protector of the household from the anger of the general, there was one who objected to the intrusion of his dog. Scarcely had the sounds of the fight begun than shrill yelps of pain indicated that one participant was getting very much the worst of it, and which, was quickly shown by the general roaring an oath and a command that they stop the “murder of my Caesar.” The din was too great within, however, for Clarion to hear the order that both ladies shouted to him, though it is to be questioned if he would have heeded them if he had; and with another oath Lee was out of his saddle and into the house, his riding-whip raised to take summary vengeance.
Just as the general entered the hallway, the spaniel, wriggling free from the hound’s onslaught, fled upstairs, closely pursued by the other dog, and after the two stamped the officer. On the second floor the fugitive faltered, to cast an agonised glance behind him, but sight of Clarion’s open mouth was enough, and up the garret stairs he fled. At the top he once more paused, looking in all directions for a haven of refuge; and seeing a man in the act of retreating behind the loom in the corner, he fled to him for protection. When Lee entered the garret, only Clarion, every bristle on end, was in view, standing guard over a corner of the room; and striding to him, the general lashed him twice with his riding-whip ere the transgressor, with howls of surprised pain, fled. Then Lee peered behind the loom in search of his favourite.
“Devil seize me!” he exclaimed. “What have we here? Ho! a good find,” he jeered, as he made out the squire. He rushed to one of the windows, threw it up, and called a summons to the group of horsemen, then came back as the squire crawled from his retreat. “Little did I reck,” gloated Lee, “when I read at the tavern this very day the governor’s proclamation attainting you, that ye’d come to be my prize. And poetic justice it is that I should have the chance to avenge in you the insult of your daughter.”