52 THE SIEGE OF LOUISBOURG
often began with jokes between the combatants, in execrable French on the one hand, and mocking healths and invitations to breakfast on the other. The defenders for a time managed to repair by night the breaches received during the day, but, despite their care, several of their batteries became disabled and silenced. To every discerning eye the work of destruction grew apace, the streets of the little town were ploughed with cannon balls from end to end, the houses all more or less destroyed, and the trembling citizens, growing more familiar with the daily scenes of carnage, were driven as a last resort to take refuge in the cellars.
A peculiar feature, under the circumstances, of this siege, was the single and feeble attempt at a sortie from within, which ended in failure and retreat ; and this seems to prove the charge of inefficiency against the Commandant. A few vigorous attacks of this kind would inevitably have disabled the limited number of guns in the besiegers' hands, and these could not have been replaced. The true mettle and splendidly adventurous spirit always shown by the French in Canada, makes it probable that Duchambon might have thus dislodged the batteries so close at hand had he possessed the courage. But it