During this colloquy I took a peep into the fortress to see how the garrison were affected by the parley. The little ones were obviously panic-struck at the first words of command; but their fears were all chased away by the bold, determined reply of Pete Jones and Bill Smith, and they raised a whoop of defiance.
Michael now walked round the academy three times, examining all its weak points with great care. He then paused, reflected for a moment, and wheeled off suddenly towards the woods, as though a bright thought had just struck him. He passed twenty things which I supposed he might be in quest of, such as huge stones, fence rails, portable logs, and the like, without bestowing the least attention upon them. He went to one old log, searched it thoroughly; then to another; then to a hollow stump, peeped into it with great care; then to a hollow log, into which he looked with equal caution, and so on.
"What is he after?" inquired I.
"I'm sure I don't know," said the captain, "but the boys do. Don't you notice the breathless silence which prevails in the schoolhouse, and the intense anxiety with which they are eying him through the cracks?"
At this moment Michael had reached a little excavation at the root of a dogwood and was in the act of putting his hand into it, when a voice from the garrison exclaimed, with most touching pathos, "Lo'd o' messy, he's found my eggs! boys, let's give up."
"I won't give up," was the reply from many voices at once.
"Rot your cowardly skin, Zeph Pettibone, you wouldn't give a wooden egg for all the holidays in the world."If these replies did not reconcile Zephaniah to his apprehended loss, it at least silenced his complaints. In the mean time Michael was employed in relieving Zeph's storehouse of its provisions; and, truly, its contents told well for Zeph's skill