The Abati, on the other hand, were amply supplied with every kind of store and weapon, and could bring a great force to blockade us, though that force was composed of a timid and undisciplined rabble.
Well, we made the best preparations that we could, although of these I did not see much, since all that day my time was occupied in attending to the wounded with the help of my son and a few rough orderlies, whose experience in doctoring had for the most part been confined to cattle. A pitiful business it proved without the aid of anaesthetics or a proper supply of bandages and other appliances. Although my medicine chest had been furnished upon a liberal scale, it proved totally inadequate to the casualties of battle. Still I did my best and saved some lives, though many cases developed gangrene and slipped through my fingers.
Meanwhile Higgs, who worked nobly, notwithstanding his flesh wounds, which pained him considerably, and Orme were also doing their best with the assistance of Japhet and the other officers of the highland regiment. The palace was thoroughly examined, and all weak places in its defences were made good. The available force was divided into watches and stationed to the best advantage. A number of men were set to work to manufacture arrow shafts from cedar beams, of which there were plenty in the wooden stables and outhouses that lay at the back of the main building, and to point and wing the same from a supply of iron barbs and feathers which fortunately was discovered in one of the guard-houses. A few horses that remained in a shed were killed and salted down for food, and so forth.
Also every possible preparation was made to repel attempts to storm, paving stones being piled up to throw upon the heads of assailants and fires lighted on the walls to heat pitch and oil and water for the same purpose.
But, to our disappointment, no direct assault was delivered, such desperate methods not commending themselves to the Abati. Their plan of attack was to take cover wherever they could, especially among the trees of the garden beyond the gates, and thence shoot arrows at any one who appeared upon the walls, or even fire them in volleys at the clouds, as the Normans did at Hastings, so that they might fall upon the heads of persons in the courtyards. Although these cautious tactics cost us several men, they had the advantage of furnishing us with a supply of ammunition which we sorely needed. All the spent arrows were carefully collected and made use of against the enemy, at whom we shot whenever opportunity offered. We did them but little damage, however, since they were extremely careful not to expose themselves.