“Report to him our present position, as well as what we have done, and get his instructions.”
Saluting, Dan signed to four sailormen to accompany him. Within an hour he had returned.
“We are going to hold what we have taken of the city, and probably shall push our lines further into the town. It is believed that after dark we shall have trouble with Mexican snipers.”
“We have had some already,” said the lieutenant grimly.
“We believe, sir,” Dan reported, “that, after dark, there will be even more vicious sniping. The Mexicans are in an ugly mood, and will spare no effort to make us miserable for our audacity in landing armed men on their soil.”
“And our orders?”
“You are directed, Lieutenant, to hold this roof until you have silenced all sniping within easy range, and then you are to fall back to the Post-office and report to the senior officer there. In the meantime you will send in a petty officer and sufficient force to accompany any of your wounded men who are badly enough hurt to require a surgeon’s attention.”
The squad that had accompanied Ensign Dalzell was immediately ordered to return with the wounded, after which Trent and his officers gave their whole attention to locating every Mexican sniper on every roof-top within six hundred yards of their position. So well was this done that at least a dozen Mexican sharpshooters were killed within the next hour.
For half an hour after that Trent surveyed every roof-top with his field glass. As no more shots crossed the roof on which the detachment was posted, Lieutenant Trent then concluded that his commission had been executed, and gave the order to return.
The Mexican dead and wounded were left in the building, a notice being posted on the door in order that the sanitary corps men might know where to find them. The four uninjured prisoners were now placed in the center of the detachment, and Trent marched his command back to the post-office. There the prisoners were turned over to the custody of the provost officer.
“Step inside, men, and you’ll find something to eat,” was the welcome news Trent gave his detachment of men.
Darrin and Dalzell were sent to a restaurant near by, where the officers were eating a welcome meal.
“Hadn’t you better go first, sir?” Darrin asked.
“Simply because I am the ranking officer with this detachment?” smiled the lieutenant. “You two are younger, and therefore are probably hungrier than I am.”
Dave was the first to finish his meal in the restaurant, and hurried to relieve Lieutenant Trent of the command of the detachment. Altogether there were now some two hundred men at the post-office station; these were being held in readiness to reinforce the American fighters in any part of the city where they might be needed.
Until after dark the “Long Island’s” detachment remained there, enviously watching other detachments that marched briskly away.