THE STRUGGLE IN THE SWAMP That evening Beric had a long talk with Aska and four or five men from the coast accustomed to the building of large boats. The matter would be easy enough, they said, as the boats would not be required to withstand the strain of the sea, and needed only to be put together with flat bottoms and sides. With so large a number of men they could hew down trees of suitable size, and thin them down until they obtained a plank from each. They would then be fastened together by strong pegs and dried moss driven in between the crevices. Pitch, however, would be required to stop up the seams, and of this they had none. "Then," Beric said, "we must make some pitch. There is no great difficulty about that. There are plenty of fir trees growing near the edges of the swamps, and from the roots of these we can get tar." The men were all acquainted with the process, which was a simple one. A deep hole was dug in the ground. The bottom of this was lined with clay, hollowed out into a sort of bowl. The hole was then filled with the roots of fir closely packed together. When it was full a fire was lit above it. As soon as this had made its way down earth was piled over it and beaten down hard, a small orifice being left in the centre. In this way the wood was slowly converted into charcoal, and the resin and tar, as they oosed out under the heat, trickled down into the bowl of clay at the bottom. As little or no smoke escaped after the fire was first lighted, the work could be carried on without fear of attracting the attention of any bodies of the enemy who might be searching the country. Two months passed. By the end of that time the intrenchment on the river bank had been made so strong that it could resist any attack save by a very large body of men. That on the island had also been completed, and strong banks thrown up at the only three points where a landing could be effected from boats. The swamps had been thoroughly explored in the neighbourhood, and another island discovered, and on this three hundred men had been established, while four hundred remained on the great island, and as many in the camp on the river. There were over a thousand women and children distributed among the three stations. Three hundred men had laboured incessantly at the boats, and these were now finished. While all this work had been going on considerable numbers of fish and wildfowl had been obtained by barter from the Fenmen, with whom they had before had dealings, and from other communities living among the swamps to the north. Many of the Iceni, who came from the marshy districts of the eastern rivers, were also accustomed to fishing and fowling, and, as soon as the work on the defences was finished and the tortuous channels through the swamps became known to them, they began to lay nets, woven by the women, across the streams, and to make decoys and snares of all sorts for the wildfowl. The framework for many coracles had been woven of withies by the women, and the skins of all the cattle killed were utilized as coverings, so that by the end of the two months they had quite a fleet of little craft of this kind. As fast as the larger boats were finished they were used for carrying cattle to the islands, and a large quantity of swine were also taken over. During this time the Romans had traversed the whole country of the Iceni. The hamlets were fired, and all persons who fell into their hands put to death; but the number of these was comparatively small, as the greater part of the population had either moved north or taken to the woods, which were so extensive that comparatively few of the fugitives were killed by the search parties of the Romans. From the few prisoners that the Romans took they heard reports that many of the Iceni had taken refuge in the swamps, and several strong bodies had moved along the edge of the marsh country without attempting to penetrate it. Aska and Beric had agreed that so long as they were undisturbed they would remain quiet, confining themselves to their borders, except when they sent parties to search for cattle in the woods or to gather up grain that might have escaped destruction in the hamlets, and that they would avoid any collision with the Romans until their present vigilance abated or they attempted to plant settlers in their neighbourhood. Circumstances, however, defeated this intention. They learned from the Fenmen that numerous fugitives had taken refuge in the southern swamps, and that these sallying out had fallen upon parties of Romans near Huntingdon, and had cut them to pieces. The Romans had in consequence sent a considerable force to avenge this attack. These had penetrated some distance into the swamps, but had there been attacked and driven back with much slaughter. But a fortnight later a legion had marched to Huntingdon, and crossing the river there had established a camp opposite, which they called Godmancastra, and, having collected a number of natives from the west, were engaged in building boats in which they intended to penetrate the swamp country and root out the fugitives. "It was sure to come sooner or later," Aska said to Beric. "Nor should we wish it otherwise. We came here not to pass our lives as lurking fugitives, but to gather a force and avenge ourselves on the Romans. If you like I will go up the river and see our friends there, and ascertain their strength and means of resistance. Would it be well, think you, to tell them of our strong place here and offer to send our boats to bring them down, so that we may make a great stand here?" "No, I think not," Beric said. "Nothing would suit the Romans better than to catch us all together, so as to destroy us at one blow. We know that in the west they stormed the intrenchments of Cassivellaunus, and that no native fort has ever withstood their assault. I should say that it ought to be a war of small fights. We should attack them constantly, enticing them into the deepest parts of the morass, and falling upon them at spots where our activity will avail against their heavily weighted men. We should pour volleys of arrows into their boats as they pass along through the narrow creeks, show ourselves at points where the ground is firm enough for them to land, and then falling back to deep morasses tempt them to pursue us there, and then turn upon them. We should give them no rest night or day, and wear them out with constant fighting and watching. The fens are broad and long, stretching from Huntingdon to the sea; and if they are contested foot by foot, we may tire out even the power of Rome." "You are right, Beric; but at any rate it will be well to see how our brethren are prepared. They may have no boats, and may urgently need help." "I quite agree with you, and I think it would be as well for you to go. You could offer to bring all their women and children to our islands here, and then we would send down a strong force to help them. We should begin to contest strongly the Roman advance from the very first." Accordingly Aska started up the Ouse in one of the large boats with twelve men to pole it along, and three days afterwards returned with the news that there were some two thousand men with twice that many women and children scattered among the upper swamps. "They have only a few small boats," he said, "and are in sore straits for provisions. They drove at first a good many cattle in with them, but most of these were lost in the morasses, and as there have been bodies of horse moving about near Huntingdon, they have not been able to venture out as we have done to drive in more." "Have they any chief with them?" Beric asked. "None of any importance. All the men are fugitives from the battle, who were joined on their way north by the women of the villages. They are broken up into groups, and have no leader to form any general plan. I spoke to the principal men among them, and told them that we had strongly fortified several places here, had built a fleet of boats, and were prepared for warfare; they will all gladly accept you as their leader. They urgently prayed that we would send our boats down for the women and children, and I promised them that you would do so, and would also send down some provisions for the fighting men." The next morning the twenty large boats, each carrying thirty men and a supply of meat and grain, started up the river, Beric himself going with them, and taking Boduoc as his lieutenant. Aska remained in command at the river fort, where the force was maintained at its full strength, the boat party being drawn entirely from the two islands. Four miles below Huntingdon they landed at a spot where the greater part of the Iceni there were gathered. Fires were at once lighted, and a portion of the meat cooked, for the fugitives were weak with hunger. As soon as this was satisfied, orders were issued for half the women and children to be brought in. These were crowded into the boats, which, in charge of four men in each, then dropped down the stream, Beric having given orders that the boats were to return as soon as the women were landed on the island. He spent the next two days in traversing the swamps in a coracle, ascertaining where there was firm ground, and where the morasses were impassable. He learned all the particulars he could gather about the exact position of the Roman camp, and the spot where the boats were being constructed -- the Iceni were already familiar with several paths leading out of the morasses in that neighbourhood -- and then drew out a plan for an attack upon the Romans. He had brought with him half the Sarci who had retired with him from the battle. These he would himself command. A force of four hundred men, led by Boduoc, were to travel by different paths through the swamp; they were then to unite and to march round the Roman camp, and attack it suddenly on three sides at once. The camp was in the form of a horseshoe, and its ends resting on the river, and it was here that the boats were being built. Beric himself with his own hundred men and fifty others were to embark in four boats. As soon as they were fairly beyond the swamp, they were to land on the Huntingdon side, and to tow their boats along until within two or three hundred yards of the Roman camp, when they were to await the sound of Boduoc's horn. Boduoc's instructions were that he was to attack the camp fiercely on all sides. The Roman sentries were known to be so vigilant that there was but slight prospect of his entering the camp by surprise, or of his being able to scale the palisades at the top of the bank of earth. The attack, however, was to be made as if in earnest, and was to be maintained until Beric's horn gave the signal for them to draw off, when they were to break up into parties as before, and to retire into the heart of the swamp by the paths by which they had left it. The most absolute silence was to be observed until the challenge of the Roman sentries showed that they were discovered, when they were to raise their war shouts to the utmost so as to alarm and confuse the enemy. The night was a dark one and a strong wind was blowing, so that Beric's party reached their station unheard by the sentries on the walls of the camp. It was an hour before they heard a distant shout, followed instantly by the winding of a horn, and the loud war cry of the Iceni. At the same moment the trumpets in the Roman intrenchments sounded, and immediately a tumult of confused shouting arose around and within the camp. Beric remained quiet for five minutes till the roar of battle was at its highest, and he knew that the attention of the Romans would be entirely occupied with the attack. Then the boats were again towed along until opposite the centre of the horseshoe; the men took their places in them again and poled them across the river. The fifty men who accompanied the Sarci carried bundles of rushes dipped in pitch, and in each boat were burning brands which had been covered with raw hides to prevent the light being seen. They were nearly across the river when some sentries there, whose attention had hitherto been directed entirely to the walls, suddenly shouted an alarm. As soon as the boats touched the shore, Beric and his men leapt out, passed through the half built boats and the piles of timber collected beside them, and formed up to repel an attack. At the same moment the others lighted their bundles of rushes at the brands, and jumping ashore set fire to the boats and wood piles. Astonished at this outburst of flame within their camp, while engaged in defending the walls from the desperate attacks of the Iceni, the Romans hesitated, and then some of them came running down to meet the unexpected attack. But the Sarci had already pressed quickly on, followed by some of the torch bearers, and were in the midst of the Roman tents before the legionaries gathered in sufficient force to meet them. The torches were applied to the tents, and fanned by the breeze, the flames spread rapidly from one to another. Beric blew the signal for retreat, and his men in a solid body, with their spears outward, fell back. The Romans, as they arrived at the spot, rushed furiously upon them; but discipline was this time on the side of the Sarci, who beat off all attacks till they reached the river bank. Then in good order they took their places in the boats, Beric with a small body covering the movement till the last; then they made a rush to the boats; the men, standing with their poles ready, instantly pushed the craft into the stream, and in two minutes they were safe on the other side. The boats and piles of timber were already blazing fiercely, while the Roman camp, in the centre of the intrenchment, was in a mass of flames, lighting up the helmets and armour of the soldiers ranged along the wall, and engaged in repelling the attacks of the Iceni. As soon as the Sarci were across, they leapt ashore and towed the boat along by the bank. A few arrows fell among them, but as soon as they had pushed off from the shore most of the Romans had run back to aid in the defence of the walls. Beric's horn now gave the signal that the work was done, and in a short time the shouts of the Iceni began to subside, the din of the battle grew fainter, and in a few minutes all was quiet round the Roman camp. There was great rejoicing when the parties of the Iceni met again in the swamp. They had struck a blow that would greatly inconvenience the Romans for some time, would retard their attack, and show them that the spirit of the Britons was still high. The loss of the Iceni had been very small, only some five or six of Beric's party had fallen, and twenty or thirty of the assailants of the wall; they believed that the Romans had suffered much more, for they could be seen above their defences by the light of the flames behind them, while the Iceni were in darkness. Thus the darts and javelins of the defenders had been cast almost at random, while they themselves had been conspicuous marks for the missiles of the assailants. In Beric's eyes the most important point of the encounter was that it had given confidence to the fugitives, had taught them the advantage of fighting with a plan, and of acting methodically and in order. There was a consultation next morning. Beric pointed out to the leaders that although it was necessary sometimes with an important object in view to take the offensive, they must as a rule stand on the defensive, and depend upon the depth of their morasses and their knowledge of the paths across them to baffle the attempts of the Romans to penetrate. "I should recommend," he said, "that you break up into parties of fifteens and twenties, and scatter widely over the Fen country, and yet be near enough to each other to hear the sound of the horn. Each party must learn every foot of the ground and water in the neighbourhood round them. In that way you will be able to assemble when you hear the signal announcing the coming of the Romans, you will know the paths by which you can attack or retreat, and the spots where you can make your way across, but where the Romans cannot follow you. Each party must earn its sustenance by fishing and fowling; and in making up your parties, there should be two or three men in each accustomed to this work. Each party must provide itself with coracles; I will send up a boat load of hides. Beyond that you must search for cattle and swine in the woods, when by sending spies on shore you find there are no parties of Romans about. "The parties nearest to Huntingdon should be always vigilant, and day and night keep men at the edge of the swamp to watch the doings of the Romans, and should send notice to me every day or two as to what the enemy are doing, and when they are likely to advance. Should they come suddenly, remember that it is of no use to try to oppose their passage down the river. Their boats will be far stronger than ours, and we should but throw away our lives by fighting them there. They may go right down to the sea if they please, but directly they land or attempt to thrust their boats up the channels through the swamp, then every foot must be contested. They must be shot down from the bushes, enticed into swamps, and overwhelmed with missiles. Let each man make himself a powerful bow and a great sheath of arrows pointed with flints or flakes of stone, which must be fetched from the dry land, although even without these they will fly straight enough if shot from the bushes at a few yards' distance. "Let the men practice with these, and remember that they must aim at the legs of the Romans. It is useless to shoot at either shields or armour. Besides, let each man make himself a spear, strong, heavy, and fully eighteen feet long, with the point hardened in the fire, and rely upon these rather than upon your swords to check their progress. Whenever you find broad paths of firm ground across the swamps, cut down trees and bushes to form stout barriers. "Make friends with the Fenmen. Be liberal to them with gifts, and do not attempt to plant parties near them, for this would disturb their wildfowl and lead to jealousy and quarrels. However well you may learn the swamps, they know them better, and were they hostile might lead the Romans into our midst. In some parts you may not find dry land on which to build huts; in that case choose spots where the trees are stout, lash saplings between these and build your huts upon them so as to be three or four feet above the wet soil. Some of my people who know the swamps by the eastern rivers tell me that this is the best way to avoid the fen fevers." Having seen that everything was arranged, Beric and his party returned to their camp. For some time the reports from the upper river stated that the Romans were doing little beyond sending out strong parties to cut timber. Then came the news that a whole legion had arrived, and that small forts containing some two hundred men each were being erected, three or four miles apart, on both sides of the Fen. "That shows that all resistance must have ceased elsewhere," Aska said, "or they would never be able to spare so great a force as a legion and a half against us. I suppose that these forts are being built to prevent our obtaining cattle, and that they hope to starve us out. They will hardly succeed in that, for the rivers and channels swarm with fish, and now that winter is coming on they will abound with wildfowl." "I am afraid of the winter," Beric said, "for then they will be able to traverse the swamps, where now they would sink over their heads." "Unless the frosts are very severe, Beric, the ground will not harden much, for every foot is covered with trees and bushes. As to grain we can do without it, but we shall be able to fetch some at least down from the north. Indeed, it would need ten legions to form a line along both sides of the Fen country right down to the sea and to pen us in completely." By this time the Iceni had become familiar with the channels through the swamps for long distances from their fastness, and had even established a trade with the people lying to the northwest of the Fen country. They learnt that the Romans boasted they had well nigh annihilated the Trinobantes and Iceni; but that towards the other tribes that had taken part in the great rising they had shown more leniency, though some of their principal towns had been destroyed and the inhabitants put to the sword. A month later a fleet of boats laden with Roman soldiers started from Huntingdon and proceeded down the Ouse. Dead silence reigned round them, and although they proceeded nearly to the sea they saw no signs of a foe, and so turning they rowed back to Huntingdon. But in their absence the Iceni had not been idle. The spies from the swamps had discovered when the expedition was preparing to start, and had found too that a strong body of troops was to march along the edges of the swamps in order to cut off the Iceni should they endeavour to make their escape. The alarm had been sounded from post to post, and in accordance with the orders of Beric the whole of the fighting men at once began to move south, some in boats, some in their little coracles, which were able to thread their way through the network of channels. The night after the Romans started, the whole of the fighting force of the Britons was gathered in the southern swamps, and two hours before daybreak issued out. Some five hundred, led by Aska, followed the western bank of the river towards Huntingdon, which had for the time been converted into a Roman city, inhabited by the artisans who had constructed the boats and the settlers who supplied the army; it had been garrisoned by five hundred legionaries, of whom three hundred had gone away in the boats. The main body advanced against the Roman camp on the opposite bank, in which, as their spies had learnt, three hundred men had been left as a garrison. By Beric's orders a great number of ladders had been constructed. As upon the previous occasion the camp was surrounded before they advanced against it, and when the first shout of a sentry showed that they were discovered Beric's horn gave the signal, and with a mighty shout the Britons rushed on from all sides. Dashing down the ditch, and climbing the steep bank behind it the Iceni planted their ladders against the palisade, and swarming over it poured into the camp before the Romans had time to gather to oppose them. Beric had led his own band of two hundred trained men against the point where the wall of the camp touched the river, and as soon as they were over formed them up and led them in a compact body against the Romans. In spite of the suddenness of the attack, the discipline of the legionaries was unshaken, and as soon as their officers found that the walls were already lost they formed their men in a solid body to resist the attack. Before Beric with his band reached the spot the Romans were already engaged in a fierce struggle with the Britons, who poured volleys of darts and arrows among them, and desperately strove, sword in hand, to break their solid formation. This they were unable to do, until Beric's band six deep with their hedge of spears before them came up, and with a loud shout threw themselves upon the Romans. The weight and impetus of the charge was irresistible. The Roman cohort was broken, and a deadly hand to hand struggle commenced. But here the numbers and the greatly superior height and strength of the Britons were decisive, and before many minutes had passed the last Roman had been cut down, the scene of the battle being lighted up by the flames of Huntingdon. A shout of triumph from the Britons announced that all resistance had ceased. Beric at once blew his horn, and, as had been previously arranged, four hundred of the island men immediately started under Boduoc to oppose the garrison at the nearest fort, should they meet these hastening to the assistance of their comrades. Then a systematic search for plunder commenced. One of the storehouses was emptied of its contents and fired, and by its light the arms and armour of the Roman soldiers were collected, the huts and tents rifled of everything of value, the storehouses emptied of their stores of grain and provisions, and of the tools that had been used for the building of boats. Everything that could be of use to the defenders was taken, and fire was then applied to the buildings and tents. Morning broke before this was accomplished, and laden down with spoil the Iceni returned to their swamps, Boduoc's and Aska's parties rejoining them there. The former had met the Romans hurrying from the nearest fort to aid the garrison of the camp. Beric's orders had been that Boduoc was if possible to avoid a fight, as in the open the discipline of the Romans would probably prevail over British valour. The Iceni, therefore, set up a great shouting in front and in the rear of the Romans, shooting their missiles among them, and being unable in the dark to perceive the number of their assailants, and fearful that they had fallen into an ambush, the Romans fell back to their fort. Aska's party had also returned laden with plunder, and as soon as the whole were united a division of this was made. The provisions, clothing, and arms were divided equally among the men, while the stores of rope, metal, canvas, and other articles that would be useful to the community were set aside to be taken to the island. Thither also the shields, armour, and helmets of the Roman soldiers were to be conveyed, to be broken up and melted into spear and arrow heads. As the Roman boats returned two days later from their useless passage down the river, they were astonished and enraged by outbursts of mocking laughter from the tangle of bushes fringing the river. Not a foe was to be seen, but for miles these sounds of derisive laughter assailed them from both sides of the stream. The veterans ground their teeth with rage, and would have rowed towards the banks had not their officers, believing that it was the intention of the Britons to induce them to land, and then to lead them into an ambush, ordered them to keep on their way. On passing beyond the region of the swamp a cry of dismay burst from the crowded boats, as it was perceived that the town of Huntingdon had entirely disappeared. As they neared the camp, however, the sight of numerous sentries on the walls relieved them of part of their anxiety; but upon landing they learnt the whole truth, that the five hundred Roman soldiers in the camp and at Huntingdon had fallen to a man, and that the whole of the stores collected had been carried away or destroyed. The news had been sent rapidly along the chain of forts on either side of the swamp, and fifty men from each had been despatched to repair and reoccupy the camp, which was now held by a thousand men, who had already begun to repair the palisades that had been fired by the Britons. This disaster at once depressed and infuriated the Roman soldiers, while it showed to the general commanding them that the task he had been appointed to perform was vastly more serious than he had expected. Already, as he had traversed mile after mile of the silent river, he had been impressed with the enormous difficulty there would be in penetrating the pathless morasses, extending as he knew in some places thirty or forty miles in width. The proof now afforded of the numbers, determination, and courage of the men lurking there still further impressed him with the gravity of the undertaking. Messengers were at once sent off to Suetonius, who was at Camalodunum, which he was occupied in rebuilding, to inform him of the reverse, and to ask for orders, and the general with five hundred men immediately set out for the camp of Godman. Suetonius at once proceeded to examine for himself the extent of the Fen country, riding with a body of horsemen along the eastern boundary as far as the sea, and then, returning to the camp, followed up the western margin until he again reached the sea. He saw at once that the whole of the Roman army in Britain would be insufficient to guard so extensive a line, and that it would be hopeless to endeavour to starve out men who could at all times make raids over the country around them. The first step to be taken must be to endeavour to circumscribe their limits. Orders were at once sent to the British tribes in south and midlands to send all their available men, and as these arrived they were set to work to clear away by axe and fire the trees and bush on the eastern side of the river Ouse. As soon as the intentions of the Romans were understood, the British camp at the junction of the rivers was abandoned, as with so large a force of workmen the Romans could have made wide roads up to it, and although it might have resisted for some time, it must eventually fall, while the Romans, by sending their flotilla of boats down, could cut off the retreat of the garrison. For two months thirty thousand workmen laboured under the eyes of strong parties of Roman soldiers, and the work of denuding the swamps east of the Ouse was accomplished. Winter had now set in, but the season was a wet one, and although the Romans made repeated attempts to fire the brushwood from the south and west, they failed to do so. Severe frost accompanied by heavy snow set in late, and as soon as the ground was hard enough the Romans entered the swamps near Huntingdon, and began their advance northwards. The Britons were expecting them, and the whole of their fighting force had gathered to oppose them. Beric and Aska set them to work as soon as the Roman army crossed the river and marched north, and as the Romans advanced slowly and carefully through the tangled bushes, they heard a strange confused noise far ahead of them, and after marching for two miles came upon a channel, where the ice had been broken into fragments. They at once set to work to cut down bushes and form them into faggots to fill up the gaps, but as they approached the channel with these they were assailed by volleys of arrows from the bushes on the opposite side. The light armed troops were brought up, and the work of damming the channel at a dozen points, was covered by a shower of javelins and arrows. The Britons, however, had during the past month made shields of strong wicker work of Roman pattern, but long enough to cover them from the eyes down to the ankles, and the wicker work was protected by a double coating of ox hide. Boys collected the javelins as fast as they were thrown, and handed them to the men. As soon as the road across the channel was completed the Romans poured over, believing that now they should scatter their invisible foes; but they were mistaken, for the Britons with levelled spears, their bodies covered with their bucklers, burst down upon them as they crossed, while a storm of darts and javelins poured in from behind the fighting line. Again and again they were driven back, until after suffering great loss they made good their footing at several points, when, at the sound of a horn, resistance at once ceased, and the Britons disappeared as if by magic. Advancing cautiously the Romans found that the ice in all the channels had been broken up, and they were soon involved in a perfect network of sluggish streams. Across these the Britons had felled trees to form bridges for their retreat, and these they dragged after them as soon as they crossed. Every one of these streams was desperately defended, and as the line of swamp grew wider the Roman front became more and more scattered. Late in the afternoon a sudden and furious attack was made upon them from the rear, Beric having taken a strong force round their flank. Numbers of the Romans were killed before they could assemble to make head against the attack, and as soon as they did so their assailants as usual drew off. After a long day's fighting the Romans had gained scarce a mile from the point where resistance had commenced, and this at a cost of over three hundred men. Suetonius himself had commanded the attack, and when the troops halted for the night at the edge of an unusually wide channel, he felt that the task he had undertaken was beyond his powers. He summoned the commanders of the two legions to the hut that had been hastily raised for him. "What think you?" he asked. "This is a warfare even more terrible than that we waged with the Goths in their forests. This Beric, who is their leader, has indeed profited by the lessons he learned at Camalodunum. No Roman general could have handled his men better. He is full of resources, and we did not reckon upon his breaking up the ice upon all these channels. If we have had so much trouble in forcing our way where the swamps are but two miles across, and that with a frost to help us, the task will be a terrible one when we get into the heart of the morasses, where they are twenty miles wide. Yet we cannot leave them untouched. There would never be peace and quiet as long as these bands, under so enterprising a leader, remained unsubdued. Can you think of any other plan by which we may advance with less loss?" The two officers were silent. "The resistance may weaken," one said after a long pause. "We have learnt from the natives that they have not in all much above three thousand fighting men, and they must have lost as heavily as we have." Suetonius shook his head. "I marked as we advanced," he said, "that there was not one British corpse to four Romans. We shoot at random, while they from their bushes can see us, and even when they charge us our archers can aid but little, seeing that the fighting takes place among the bushes. However, we will press on for a time. The natives behind us must clear the ground as fast as we advance, and every foot gained is gained for good." Three times during the night the British attacked the Romans, once by passing up the river in their coracles and landing behind them, once by marching out into the country round their left flank, and once by pouring out through cross channels in their boats and landing in front. All night, too, their shouts kept the Romans awake in expectation of attack. For four days the fighting continued, and the Romans, at the cost of over a thousand men, won their way eight miles farther. By the end of that time they were utterly exhausted with toil and want of sleep; the swamps each day became wider, and the channels larger and deeper. Then the Roman leaders agreed that no more could be done. Twelve miles had been won and cleared, but this was the mere tongue of the Fenland, and to add to their difficulties that day the weather had suddenly changed, and in the evening rain set in. It was therefore determined to retreat while the ground was yet hard, and having lighted their fires, and left a party to keep these burning and to deceive the British, the Romans drew off and marched away, bearing to the left so as to get out on to the plain, and to leave the ground, encumbered with the sharp stumps of the bushes and its network of channels, behind them as soon as possible.