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Madeleine De Vercheres: The Heroine Of Castle Dangerous
by [?]

Then placing her two brothers on two of the bastions or look-outs of the fort, and the old man of eighty on the third, she herself took the fourth watch, and all through the endless hours of that night while the wind howled and the storm beat against the wall, the cries of “ALL’S WELL!” were repeated from the blockhouse to the fort, and from the fort to the blockhouse. One would have thought the place was filled with soldiers, and the Indians were completely deceived, as they confessed afterwards to a Frenchman to whom they then told their plan of capturing the fort in the night, a plan which had failed because the place had been so well guarded!–and two young boys, a very old man and a young girl had accomplished this!

About one o’clock in the morning the soldier who had been put on watch at the gate called out, “Mademoiselle, I hear something,” and hurrying to him Madeleine, by the aid of the snow light, was able to see a small number of cattle huddled close to the fort. Telling this to her companions they instantly cried, “Let them in,” but Madeleine shook her head, answering emphatically, “God forbid! You don’t know all the tricks of the savages. They are no doubt following the cattle, covered with skins of beasts so as to get into the fort, if we are simple enough to open the gate for them.”

But later, after having taken every precaution for safety, besides placing the boys ready with their guns cocked in case of surprise, Madeleine allowed the gate to be opened and the cattle filed in safely and alone.

At last the weary night of suspense was over, and as daylight dawned, the situation began to look brighter. Everyone took fresh courage except Madame Fontaine, who begged her husband to carry her to another and safer fort. He replied, “I will never abandon this fort while Mademoiselle Madeleine is here.”

At this loyal answer Madeleine gave him a swift glance of appreciation, and cried, “I will never abandon it. I would die rather than give it up to the enemy. It is of the greatest importance that they should not get hold of any French fort, because they would think they could get others and grow more bold and presumptuous than ever!”

Then with another quick nod of thanks and of understanding off went the young commander again to her post on the look-out, and then back to the blockhouse, where she said words of ringing encouragement to the weary band huddled there together, and it was twenty-four hours later before she went into her father’s house either for refreshment or rest, although sadly in need of both, but was always on guard to cheer her discouraged flock.

When forty-eight hours had passed in this way, rest became imperative even for Madeleine’s strong, young frame, and she allowed herself to doze at a table, folding her arms on it, so that with her gun lying across her arms and her head on her gun she was ready at a word of alarm to spring up, weapon in hand, and face the enemy. It was a terrible situation, that of the little band within the fort, for they knew of no way to send word to friends of their plight, and if the outer world had no news of the situation, from whence could help come? This thought was constantly in the minds of the exhausted band, waiting, watching and hoping against hope for some one to come to their rescue. Had they but known that even while they were waiting, some of the farmers who when at work in the field had escaped the Indians, were now making their way to Montreal, their anxiety would have been greatly lessened, but they did not know, and the fort was constantly attacked by the enemy, who when not besieging it were crouching near, waiting for a chance to make a successful attack. Very early on the dawn of the seventh day of their vigil, Madeleine’s younger brother, who was on watch on the side of the fort which faced the river, heard the sound of distant voices and the splashing of oars in the water.