THE DEFENCE OF VERCHERES 25
deavouring to strike a spark from the flint and steel he held in his trembling hands. Her look of amazement was followed by quick resentment as she took in the situation. A moment before she had been saying to her young brothers :
"Let us fight to the death—remember that gentlemen are born to shed their blood in the service of God and the King "—and now this !
"What are you doing here?" she asked imperiously.
The man hesitated, then replied sullenly :
"I was going to light the powder, mam'zelleit is better than . . ."
"You are a miserable coward," said Madelaine, pointing to the door fiercely, "go !" The reproof struck home. The man slunk away to the courtyard, where, stung by the contempt of his little mistress, he recovered his spirit, and was soon taking an active part in the repulse of a well-organised attack from without. And now began an exciting and memorable siege, for the savages, tired of slaughtering the de-fenceless harvesters, circled about under cover, keeping a watchful eye on the enclosure, though hesitating to approach too near.
None disputed the authority of Mademoiselle, and nothing seems to have escaped the notice