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WITH THOSE POWERFUL AGENTS, FIRE AND WATER, WE CONTRITE
TO ESCAPE FROM A FRENCH PRISOX.
AFTER more than an hour of confusion and loud talking, it was at last proposed and agreed to, nem. con., that the prisoners should be confined in the old church; the twelve invalids to be divided into two parties, who were to be sentinels over them, relieving each other every four hours. The mayor immediately went forward with the village blacksmith to examine the state of the church doors, and ascertain how they might be secured; while the prisoners, having been summoned out of the privateer, were escorted up between two files of the privateer's men with their swords drawn, and followed by the whole population. As soon as we arrived at the church door, the name of every prisoner was taken down by the mayor, attended by a notary, and then he was passed into the church. Bramble and I of course were marched up with the others; the captain of the privatcer talking with us the whole way, through the young man who interpreted, informing us that an express had been sent over to Morlaix, to which town we should be escorted the next day, and then have better accommodation. As we stood at the huge doors of the church, which were opened for our reception, we perceived that the altar and all the decorations had been removed ; and that, with the exception of the large wooden screen of carved oak, near the altar, the church was completely bare.
Bramble spoke to the interpreter, and said that he hoped the captain would request the mayor to allow the prisoners to have straw to lie down upon, as the pavement would be very cold. Although the mayor at first demurred at this demand, yet the captain of the privateer, probably out of good will to Bramble. insisted, and the straw was ordered to be sent in. At last, the mayor became impatient, we could delay no longer, and the doors were closed.
I had surveyed the church as we were escorted up to it: it was very large, capablo, I should think, of holding more than two thousand people. The walls of the church were very massive, and the windows had but very few panes of glass remaining in them, but they were so very high as to prevent our climbing out of them, even if there had not been six sentinels guarding us outside. At one corner, to the right of the end of the church where the altarpiece had been, was a narrow stone tower, apparently an addition made to the Lady's chapel, long after the church had been originally built. When we were shut up, we were enabled to survey the interior at our leisure. Tho whole was completely bare to the pavement until you came to the chancel part, near to which the altar had been, where the wooden screens and seats still remained, in a sadly dilapidated state; but they must have onco been very handsome, for the carving, where it was perfect, was very beautiful. A small thick wooden door, loaded with iron work, communicated with the narrow tower, which had a flight of stone steps running up to the top, and narrow loopholes to give light as you ascended. While the majority of the prisoners were sitting down here and there on the pavement, few of them entering into conversation, Bramble had, with ine, taken a full survey of our locality.
“I tell you what, Tom; if we once get to Morlais, all chance is over,” said he : we must either get out of this church this very night or we must make up our minds to remain in prison, Heaven knows how long."
“ Have we any chance ?"
The door of the church now opened, and the people brought in the straw for the beds, which they threw all in a heap in the centre of the church, and the doors were again closed.
“I see daylight now,” said Bramble.“ Tom, find the mate and boatswain, and bring them here to me quickly.”
I did so, and Bramble asked them whether they were inclined to make an attempt to get clear.
They replied that they would join us in anything: they did not care what it was, and against any odds.
“Well, then," said Bramble, “my idea is this. You see there are but twelve old soldiers to guard us: for you may be certain that, before long, all the privateer's men will be as drunk as owls —that's but natural; not that I think of coming to any fight with them, but I make the observation because, if we get out, we shall have little to fear afterwards. Now, you see, I asked for the straw because the idea came in my head that it might be useful. You see what I propose is, as there is plenty of wood in this part of the church, that we should wait till about three hours after dark
that is, until ten or eleven o'clock — and then set