THE DEFENCE OF VERCHERES 23
she recounted the deadly peril of the situation long afterwards, the young girl was conscious of nothing but the interminable lapse of time, and a desire to let the situation be known to the helpless people within the fort.
" To arms ! . . . to arms ! " she cried in piercing tones that seemed like unfamiliar echoes in her own ears. Fortunately the distance was not great, but already the slight young figure with its flying hair knew that her cruel foe was almost upon her. An instant and she would have gained the half-open portal, when a sinewy brown hand descended upon her, grasping, 0, le bon Dieu I not the soft dark hair almost floating into his triumphant face, but the kerchief wound about the maiden's shoulders. With a quick instinctive movement the neck-fastening was wrenched asunder, and the astonished Iroquois fell back clutching the flimsy covering in his hand. One moment's pause was sufficient, and the discomfited savage recovered himself in time to see his prey escape through the heavy door, which was forthwith shut and bolted in his very face.
Inside all was confusion. The craven defender was nowhere to be seen, and the women were found huddled together in the corners in help-less terror, their faces ghastly, their eyes staring