Page:Yule Logs.djvu/119

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103
"A FRENCHMAN'S GRATITUDE"

poor one if you're going to lose your heads like this! Reload, lads, and don't fire again without orders."

"Good, Captain Holroyd!" said Major Vogelsang. "Steadiness is everything! Ha! they are advancing again—down the front ranks!" Instantly the order was obeyed: down on the knee dropped the front ranks; while the rear ranks came to the "recover," and stood as motionless as if on an inspection parade.

We now beheld three separate columns of horsemen, each equal, in point of numbers, to our little force, moving rapidly towards us, one column leading, the others in rear. As they drew nearer, the rear columns edged off to their right and left, sweeping round so as to threaten the right and left faces of our square.

Major Vogelsang now ordered the artillery to unlimber, and bring their two guns into action, right and left; the centre sections of the right and left faces being warned to fall back, so as to leave an opening for the guns, as soon as the word was given.

On came the enemy until they were within about three hundred yards of the square, when all three columns drew rein, as if to breathe their horses.

Now is your time, lieutenant!" said Vogelsang to the artillery officer. "Fall back the centre sections!"

Quick as lightning our gunners ran up and laid their pieces. "Fire!" shouted their officer, and plump went the six-pound shells into the columns on our right and left, bursting well in the centre, and killing or disabling several men and horses.

We gave a ringing cheer as the gunners coolly sponged out and reloaded the guns, for our foes were thrown into great confusion, and we all thought they would beat a precipitate retreat.

"The guns are loaded, sir," said the artillery subaltern; "shall I give them another dose before they're out of range?"