On the instant that the two lines of charging, cheering sailormen came into sight, the Mexicans on the roof-top redoubled their fire. It is difficult, however, to fire with accuracy at men who are running close to the buildings. Either the bullet falls short, or else goes wide of its mark and hits a wall behind the line. So Lieutenant Trent’s men dashed down the street for a short distance, and pausing in the shelter of a building cheered jubilantly.
Now the Mexican soldiers above no longer had the advantage. Whenever one of their number showed his head over the edge of the roof he became a handy target for the jackies below.
Heavy shutters covered the windows on the ground floor of the building. The heavy wooden door was tightly locked.
“Ensign Darrin,” sounded Trent’s voice, “take enough men and batter that door down.”
It took a combined rush to effect that. Several times Dave led his seamen against that barrier. Under repeated assaults it gave way.
“Through the house and to the roof!” shouted Trent. “We’ll wind up the snipers!”
What a yell went up from two score of throats as the sailormen piled after their officers and thronged the stairs!
It was a free-for-all race to the top of the second flight of stairs. Over the skylight opening lay a wooden covering tightly secured in place.
“Come on, my hearties! Smash it!” yelled Trent, heaving his own broad shoulders against the obstruction.
After the skylight cover was smashed the Mexican soldiers would once more have the advantage. Only a man at a time could reach the roof. It ought not to be difficult for the defenders to pick off a Navy man at a time as the Americans sprang up.
At last the covering gave way.
“Pile up, all hands, as rapidly as you can come!” yelled Lieutenant Trent. “Officers first!”
“Officers first!” echoed Dave and Dan in a breath, all the military longing in their hearts leaping to the surface.
Then up they went, into the jaws of massacre!
MEXICANS BECOME SUDDENLY MEEK
Trent leaped to the roof. With his left arm he warded off a blow aimed at his head with the butt of a rifle.
Then his sword flashed, its point going clean through the body of the Mexican soldier who barred his way.
“Death to the Gringos! Death to the Gringos!” yelled the Mexicans.
But Trent drove back two men with his flashing sword. After him Dave heaped to the roof, his revolver barking fast and true.
Danny Grin followed, and he darted around to the other side of the skylight, turning loose his revolver.
The fire was returned briskly by the enemy, all of whom wore the uniform of the Mexican regular infantry.
In the footsteps of the officers came, swiftly, four stalwart young sailormen, and now the American force had a footing on the roof.