THE DEFENCE OF VERCHERES 21
taken the opportunity of combining holiday and business in supplying the larder of the mansion. With powder and shot from the magazine the next few days pointed to a famous bag, but under the circumstances the house and ammunition were left to the protection of as small a garrison as it well could be. The menage consisted of but one soldier, a man of eighty, too feeble to be of much service in the fields, two boys of ten and twelve years, sons of the seigneur, several women and children, and Mademoiselle de Vercheres.
It was a day very characteristic of early autumn, warm and still, and the settlers were busy in the surrounding fields getting in their crops. Formerly, such had been the terror inspired by the savages, that during harvest all the reapers would go in company from field to field, protected by a handful of soldiers fully armed, who kept a watchful eye on the forests on all sides, in case of sudden onslaught. But now not an Indian had been seen for some time, and the labourers, happily gathering in the kindly provision of nature, were regaining all their customary light-heartedness over their work. The fascinating scene presents itself to the mind's eye. We can imagine the red and yellow