24 THE DEFENCE OF VERCHERES
in wild apprehension. But Madelaine was undaunted by the aspect of affairs. With the intention of warning the harvesters of their danger, which was all that could be done at the moment, she loaded the small swivel gun, which stood in the courtyard with its four-pound balls, and fired it once or twice with her own hands. Her brothers, undismayed with the turn of events, she occupied in making tours of inspection, and together they saw that the gates were more stoutly secured. Here and there, where the palisades—logs eight or ten feet in height, planted upright to form a barricade—had become weakened from any cause, they managed to prop them up and render serviceable.
Fortunately the enemy had not followed up their first advantage, or all would have been over in a very short time. The gain was immense, and, taken advantage of, afforded time in which to collect the thoughts and at least contrive some kind of plan to be followed. Under energetic treatment all the defences were soon outwardly secure. Now for the ammunition. But here a surprise met the girl ! Suddenly entering the apartment in which the powder was stored, she encountered the missing soldier, where certainly he had no right to be, at the moment en-