Madeleine Takes Command

Madeleine Takes Command

Bethlehem Books Living History Library
by Ethel C. Brill, Bruce Adams (Illustrator)
Publisher: Bethlehem Books
Trade Paperback, 204 pages
Price: $14.95

Historical Setting: Montréal, Canada, 1690's A. D.

Working with feverish haste, Madeleine selected muskets, pistols, powder, and bullets. The sight of a man's hat, an old one that had belonged to her father, lying on a powder cask, gave her an idea. She pulled off her linen cap and put on the hat. It was not too large over her heavy hair, and, seen above the pickets, it would deceive the Indians. She was adjusting powder horn and bullet pouch when Louis and Alexandre ran in with Laviolette at their heels.

"Arm yourselves quickly," Madeleine ordered.

"What is your plan, Ma'm'selle?" the old soldier inquired.

"To defend the seigneury to the last. The little children must stay in the blockhouse and their mothers with them. That leaves only six of us to guard the palisades. We must try to make the Mohawks believe that we have a strong garrison. If they attack, we can only do our best. We are fighting for our people—what there are left of them—for our country and our faith. Let us fight to the death if need be."

And so Madeleine and her small force begin their harrowing vigil—hoping against all hope that help will come in time.

Madeleine de Verchères' story is based on a true account of colonial French Canada of the 1690's. Harassed by Iroquois, the Verchères family's fort (seigneury) must keep a continual guard. 14-year-old Madeleine is left alone with two younger brothers and few others when the Indians attack. We follow the brave and determined stratagems of Madeleine and her small circle. Madeleine's youthful leadership, especially of her brothers, will win the reader's admiration.

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