26 THE DEFENCE OF VERCHERES
of the brave girl. The women and children, as much, if not more, influenced by her demeanour than by her words, had long since ceased their cries, and were eager to assist to the best of their ability. Everything that could be seen from without was arranged to give the idea of a considerable and active garrison. With this end in view Madelaine took off her own pretty coiffure and replaced it by a man's hat, which she took pains to raise into view as often as possible, that her assailants, seeing her, should not guess the condition to which the fort had been reduced.
But a still more anxious time was to come. As the short autumn day drew to a close, a cold wind blew up from the east, giving warning of a stormy night. No doubt an attack would be made under cover of darkness. The troops (I) were addressed with spirit by Mademoiselle, who told them that even if she were cut to pieces and burned before their eyes—such atrocities were not then unknown — they were not to surrender. They were then disposed of to the best advantage. The soldier was sent to the blockhouse to protect the women, children, and ammunition, while the four bastions or redoubts, one at each corner, were manned