THE DEFENCE OF VERCHERES 27
respectively by the octogenarian, the two boys, and herself, fully armed. From these points a constant "All's well" was kept up through the long night, while the storm turned to sleet and snow, and beat upon their defenceless heads. What a night it must have been ! Fancy the anxious eyes straining through the darkness, the sough of the wind like stealthy footsteps, and the thought of the hideous fate in store for them if help came not, while out in the fields lay those who had so gaily departed to their work in the morning, their cold, dead faces upturned to the sky.
Long, however, as was the night, day at length dawned, and some at least of the anxiety vanished. With the light courage was re-stored, and having held out so far, hope of relief came back. No vigilance was for a moment relaxed, nor did Mademoiselle quit her post on the bastion except to make the round of every part of the mansion and its outworks, always assuming as she did so a cheery, hopeful manner that kept up all hearts. As she said herself—for this story was told in detail long after-wards by her own lips—" I may say with truth that I did not eat or sleep for twice twenty-four hours."