Returning to the group, the detective urged immediate defensive action, leaving the offensive till the morrow. The Squire at once looked up his armoury, consisting of a rifle, a fowling piece (double-barrelled) and a pair of heavy horse-pistols, with abundant ammunition. The Captain reported that Sylvanus had a shotgun (single-barrelled), and that he had brought the blunderbuss with which he fired salutes off the Susan Thomas. Coristine answered for the revolvers carried by himself and the dominie. The clergy were called in and the situation explained, when both volunteered for service. Mr. Perrowne had a very good gun at his lodgings; and his landlady, whose father had been in the army, possessed a relic of him in the shape of an ancient carbine, which he was sure she would lend to Mr. Errol, with bayonet complete. He went for them, under escort of Rufus and Ben. When Mr. Terry was told, he begged for his son in law’s “swate-lukin’ roifle,” and was as cheerful as if a wedding was in progress. Finally, Timotheus got the fowling piece and the Squire looked to the priming of his pistols. Mr. Nash, of course, had both revolver and dirk knife concealed somewhere about his person. Then Mr. Errol conducted family prayers, the children were sent to bed, the ladies briefly informed of the situation, and the garrison bidden a more than usually affectionate good-night.
The Squire Posts Sentries—Sylvanus
Arrests Tryphosa—Change of
Watchword—Nash Leads an Advance—The Cheek of Grinstuns—The
Hound—Guard-room Conversation—Incipient Fires Extinguished—The
Idiot Boy—Grinstun’s Awful Cheek—The Lawyer and the Parson
Theologize—Coristine’s Hands—Doctor and Miss Halbert.
The full strength of the garrison was twelve able-bodied men, of whom five carried fowling pieces, one a blunderbuss, another a carbine, another a rifle, and four were armed with pistols. The Squire was in supreme command, and Mr. Nash was adjutant. They decided that the garrison as a whole should go on guard for the night, that is, from ten o’clock till six in the morning, a period of eight hours, making, as the Captain put it, four watches of two hours each. Thus the remaining ten were divided into two guards of five, and, as the morning guard, from four to six, would probably not be required, it was determined to put those who had most need of rest on the companion one from twelve to two. These were Captain Thomas, the veteran Terry, the two parsons, with Wilkinson, who was thrown in simply as a pistol man, the only other of the kind being the lawyer. With ammunition in their pockets, or slung round their shoulders, the first guard sallied forth under the Squire’s guidance. Coristine was left to watch the front of the house behind the shrubbery bordering the fence, and keep up communication with Nash, who patrolled the road on horseback. Ben Toner’s station