He felt anything but hilarious when he saw the pack of angry dogs dancing and leaping about him, barking in a wildly discordant chorus.
"Why, Hector, you fool, don't you know me?" he said, coaxingly, to the judge's mastiff. "And you, Sultan, old man! You ought to be ashamed of yourself! Here, Caro, that's a good fellow! Come, now, don't excite yourself!"
But Hector, Sultan, and Caro were all proof against such blandishments, and as for Bismarck, the apothecary's collie, he grew every moment more furious, and showed his teeth in a very uncomfortable fashion.
To defend one's self was not to be thought of, for what defence is possible to a sham bear against a dozen genuine dogs? Paul could use neither his teeth nor his claws to any purpose, while the dogs could use theirs, as he presently discovered, with excellent effect.
He had just concluded to seek safety in flight, when suddenly he felt a bite in his left calf, and saw the brute Bismarck tug away at his leg as if it had been a mutton-chop. He had scarcely recovered from this surprise when he heard a sharp report, and a bullet whizzed away over his head, after having neatly put a hole through the right ear. Paul concluded, with reason, that things were getting serious.
If he could only get hold of that blockhead, the judge's groom, who was violating the law about fire-arms, he would give him an exhibition in athletics which he would not soon forget; but, being for the moment deprived of this pleasure, he knew of nothing better to do than to dodge through the nearest street-door, and implore the protection of the very first individual he might meet.
It so happened that Paul selected the house of two middle-aged milliners for this experiment.
Jemina and Malla Hansen were just seated at the table drinking tea with their one constant visitor, the post-office clerk, Mathias, when, all of a sudden, they heard a tremendous racket in the hall, and the furious barking of dogs.