lasted till the seventeenth century, when fortified places were penetrated by means of "fausse-brayes;" tragic assaults in which, says the old sergeant of the province of Alentijo, "when the mines have done their work, the besiegers will advance carrying planks covered with sheets of tins, armed with round shields and mantlets, and provided with plenty of grenades, causing the defenders to abandon the retrenchments or retirades, and, having taken possession, they will vigorously repulse the besieged."
The place of attack was horrible; it was one of those breaches called technically "vaulted breaches;" that is to say, as will be remembered, an opening going through the wall from one side to the other, and not a rupture open to the sky. The powder had worked like a gimlet. The effect of the explosion had been so violent that the tower had been rent more than forty feet above the mine, but it was only a crack, and the practicable opening, serving as a breach and penetrating into the lower hall, resembled a spear-thrust which pierces, rather than an axe-blow which cleaves.
It was a puncture in the side of the tower, a long, deep fracture, something like a horizontal wall under ground, a passage winding and rising like an intestine through a wall fifteen feet thick, a peculiar, shapeless cylinder full of obstacles, snares, explosions, where a man would hit his forehead against the rocks, and would stumble over the rubbish and lose his sight in the darkness.
The assailants had before them this dark porch, like the mouth of an abyss with all the stones of the jagged wall for upper and lower jaws; the jaws of a shark have not more teeth than this terrible rent. It was necessary to enter and to come out by this hole.
Within, there was a rain of fire, outside rose the retirade. Outside, that is to say, in the lower hall on the ground floor.
Only in the encounter of sappers in covered galleries when the countermine cuts the mine, or in the carnage on the gun decks of vessels which grapple each other in naval battles, is such ferocity displayed. To fight at the bottom of a ditch is horrible to the last degree. It is frightful to have a battle under a roof.
At the moment when the first swarm of besiegers en-