Page:Yule Logs.djvu/126

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110
"A FRENCHMAN'S GRATITUDE"

retained command, and he now mounted a limber-box and examined the advancing troops through his glass.

"They are the Mamelukes!" he exclaimed, "and Mohammed Ali himself is at their head. My men, we have now nothing to do but to sell our lives dearly." "Possibly they have come to our aid," I suggested, hoping against hope. "Are you sure the Vizier is with them?"

Vogelsang shook his head sadly, and replied that he recognised Mohammed Ali, having seen him before; his presence with the Mamelukes was sufficient to prove that they had come, not as allies, but as our most formidable enemies.

We rapidly made preparations for the struggle before us. The wounded—at least those who were totally disabled from taking part in the defence—were placed in a trench hastily made in the sand; the six-pounders were loaded with grape and with musket-balls to the very muzzle; and each soldier dropped over his cartridge, not only a running ball, but three or four slugs.

The attack was not long delayed, and opened with a renewal of the musketry fire by the Albanians. This lasted for the best part of an hour, and wrought us great mischief. Suddenly it ceased, and the Albanians leisurely retired. Then, with lightning speed, the Mamelukes bore down on our sadly-diminished square.

"Keep steady, men," cried Vogelsang, "and reserve your fire until your foes are within forty yards. Then give them a volley, and load again."

The Mamelukes came on in somewhat loose order, their line extending to, perhaps, twice the width of the square. We let them approach to within thirty yards; then both guns and muskets opened on them with terrible effect. The charge was arrested; and before they could retire out of range, we gave them a second volley only less destructive than the first. Then they galloped away