A chorus of approbation rose from a throng of peasants gathered round the door. A few of them carried muskets, but the greater part were armed with rude pikes.
“Show yourselves at the windows, boys,” Walter said to his men. “Level your muskets, but don’t fire until I give the word.”
It was light enough for those without to make out the threatening figures, which showed themselves at every window, and, with a cry of alarm, they ran back among the shrubs for shelter.
“Now you see,” Walter said, “that I have spoken the truth. I have thirty soldiers here, and you know as well as I do what will come of it, if you attempt to break into this house.
“For shame, men! Your deeds bring disgrace on the king’s cause, and on our religion. It is not because the scum who march with the Dutchman behave like brutal savages, that we should do the same. There’s plenty of work for you, in fighting against the enemies of your country, instead of frightening women and pillaging houses. Return to your homes, or, better still, go and join the king’s army, and fight like men for your homes and your religion.”
He listened, but there was no answer. The rapparees knew they had no chance of breaking into the house, so defended, and, when Walter ceased, each man slunk away in the darkness.
The next morning, a number of waggons arrived, and Walter, with the aid of the soldiers, had the satisfaction of loading them with everything of any value in the house, and of escorting them without interruption to Limerick. Mrs. Conyers was filled with gratitude, when she heard the events of the night, and how narrowly she and her daughter had escaped another attack. One of the principal tenants had come in with his waggon, and he agreed to move into the house, with his wife and family, until she should return. Seeing that now everything worth taking had been removed, he thought there was little chance of any attempt to destroy the house.
Chapter 12: Winter Quarters.
Two or three days later, Captain Davenant returned to Limerick with his troop. He had stopped at the house on his way, and learned there of the move which had been made.
“Well, Walter, so you nearly had to defend Mrs. Conyers against odds, again,” he said, as Walter joined him in the marketplace, where the troop was dismounting. “I have come here for a day, only, for we are on our way south. It is thought likely that the enemy’s next move may be against Cork, so some of us are detached in that direction.
“To my mind,” he went on, after he had seen the troop quartered, in some houses which formerly belonged to the Protestants, but were now used as barracks—“in my opinion, we are wasting precious time. We ought not to allow the enemy to go into winter quarters. Our best season is just coming on. We can stand the wet far better than they can, and we ought not to give them a moment’s rest, but should keep our army together, and beat up one garrison after another; threaten the strongest places; compel them to keep constantly on the move; and, before the spring, completely wear out and exhaust those whom we cannot conquer. If England found that she had the whole work to begin over again, she would think twice before she went further.