“Well, Walter, how do you like sleeping in the open?” his father said, as he rose to his feet and shook himself.
“I don’t mind the sleeping, father, but the waking is not so pleasant. However, I shall soon get accustomed to it, I suppose. But I always did hate getting up in the dark, even when we were going out fishing.”
“You won’t always get as comfortable a bed as this, Walter; so don’t expect it. The time will come, ere long, when you will look back upon this as absolute luxury. We are not likely to get straw another night, I can tell you.
“Now, Fergus, bring that wallet here. We must breakfast before we get in the saddle.”
Walter came to the conclusion that breakfast, eaten in the dark, was a very inferior meal to dinner before a great fire. However, he kept his thoughts to himself, and, as soon as he had finished, went to aid Larry in saddling the horses.
“I suppose I can ride with you today, father?” he said, as he mounted.
“Yes; there will not be any military display by the way. Many of the soldiers have got nothing in the way of uniform at present. So you can ride with me. But if any general officer comes along, you must draw off a little, and drop behind with Larry, who will follow in the rear of the troop.”
As soon as daylight appeared, the bugles gave the signal, and the force, preceded by its cavalry, started on its march towards the north.
Chapter 4: The Siege Of Derry.
There was an air of excitement in the streets of Derry. Knots of people were gathered, talking excitedly. Women stood at the doors of all the houses, while men moved aimlessly and restlessly about between the groups, listened for a time to a speaker, and then moved on again. The work of strengthening the defences, which had gone on incessantly for the last three months, had ceased, while numbers of persons were gathered on the walls, looking anxiously towards the south. A general air of gloom and despondency hung over the place. The storm which Derry had braved was gathering around it at last. King James and his troops were advancing against it.
Opinion was strongly divided in the city. Almost without exception, the older citizens deprecated resistance. The walls, indeed, were strong, and the position formidable. The king had no artillery worth speaking of, and the walls, manned by brave men, might well, for a definite time, resist assault; but the stores of food could not long support the large population now gathered in the town, and there seemed no possibility, whatever, of assistance from England before the horrors of famine would be upon them. To what purpose, then, oppose resistance, which must, even if successful, cause frightful sufferings to the inhabitants, and which, if unsuccessful, would hand over the city to the vengeance of James.
The garrison had been strengthened by two regiments and a vast quantity of supplies. But, including everything, there were but provisions for ten days, and as many weeks might elapse before assistance could come.