“Oh! I am not frightened, now,” Claire said; “and oh! Walter, you are bleeding dreadfully.”
“Never mind that now,” Walter said; “I will see to it, when it is all over.”
Then, leaving her to look after Mrs. Conyers, he ran downstairs. His right arm was disabled, he having received a sweeping blow on the shoulder from one of the Hessians, as he won his way on to the landing; but he had no time to think of this now, for his men were hardly pressed. For a moment, a panic had reigned among the troopers outside, at the outburst of firing, and at the sight of their comrades leaping panic-stricken from the windows; but inquiry soon showed them that they were still greatly superior in numbers to the party who had obtained possession of the hall; and, furious at the loss of all their officers, and of many of their comrades, they attacked on all sides, and tried to force their way in at the doors and lower windows, in spite of the vigorous resistance from within. Walter hurried from point to point, cheering on his men by assurance that help was at hand, and seeing that no point had been left undefended.
Chapter 10: A Cavalry Raid.
Staunchly as Walter’s troopers maintained the defence, they were sorely pressed, for the enemy still outnumbered them by three to one. Several times the Hessians almost forced their way in, at one or other of the windows, but each time Walter, who kept four men with him as a reserve, rushed to the assistance of the defenders of the windows and drove them back; but this could not last. The defenders were hard pressed at several points, and Walter, feeling sure that his father would be up in a very few minutes, called the men off from their posts and stationed them on the staircase.
With shouts of triumph, the Hessians burst in. The hall was filled with a crowd of furious soldiers, who hurled themselves like a wave at the defenders of the staircase. All the pistols had long since been emptied, and they fought sword to sword. Walter had detached five of his little party to hold the top of the other staircase, should the assailants try to force a passage there; and he had but ten men now, and several of these severely wounded, to hold the staircase.
Great as the advantage that the position gave the defenders, they were forced up step by step, and Walter began to fear that he would be driven to the landing before succour came, when a crowd of figures suddenly burst in at the hall door, and above the cracking of pistols, which at once arose, he heard his father’s voice:
“Down with the murdering dogs! No quarter!”
Taken wholly by surprise, ignorant of the force by which they were attacked, and taken between two bodies of enemies, the Hessians turned to fly. Walter and his men at once pressed down upon them, while the newcomers fell upon them with fury.
There was but little resistance, for the Hessians thought only of flight. Some burst through their assailants and gained the door; more fled down the passages, and escaped by the windows through which they had entered; but more than thirty of them fell in the hall.