Now, dogs and plinths live by their noses. Pheasant cracklings may be one thing, but the scent of a stranger is Something Else--especially if he's a stranger who might steal your dinner. Roused by Blodget's scent, four noses twitched, eight ears perked, four bodies lurched, sixteen legs scrambled.

Down at ground level the chase was on. As two dogs and two plinths clattered madly after the intruder, tableware flew, dishes crashed, food smashed, and the air filled with screams and curses as the entire table collapsed.

Spanakopitus grabbed his rifle. TrailMaster brandished his pistol. ZomMaster drew his sword. Dazzle, Spanakopitae, and Fleenoci clung together, dazed.

Blodget dodged frantically.

"Shoot him!" yelled Spanakopitus in hot pursuit.

"Skewer him!" shouted ZomMaster, close behind.

"How long has he been here?" bellowed TrailMaster.

"No way of knowing!" screamed Spanakopitus.

"Where did he come from?" yelled Spanakopitae.

"You tell me!" screeched her husband.

At that, Blodget doubled back and ran right between Spanakopitus's feet, tripping him just as TrailMaster lunged forward and ZomMaster careened into them both.

Zip, flash, and the badger had squeezed back under the dining room portal and dived down his secret tunnel, leaving dogs and plinths scratching madly at the great door.

The coast is not always as clear as it appears.

34: A Matter of Conscience