That is your old antagonist, unless I am mistaken, Mr. Wyatt. You pointed him out to me once when I was in barracks with you, and I thought I remembered his face; that empty sleeve assures me that it is him.
I deny that I abused him, Mr. Faulkner said hotly.
Very well, then, Mr. Wyatt. The two constables will be here at half-past seven, and I shall be ready to start with them at once. Should you by any chance be late, you will, no doubt, be able to overtake us before we get there.
I fancy he has been punished, Aunt. I don't see how he is to keep his commission as a justice after what was said in court. Still, it is a bad thing for me. I was discharged, but it will always be against me. If I ever get into any sort of trouble again, people will say: 'Ah, yes; he was charged with attempting murder when he was a young fellow, and although he was lucky enough to get off then, there must have been something in it. He is evidently a man of ungovernable temper.'
Certainly we will, the Colonel said. "He must be a wonderfully shrewd young fellow, and I think we ought to take his statement, if only to record the part he played in proving his brother's innocence. But where is the brother, Mr. Henderson; hasn't he come back yet?"
It is just as I told you, Captain Lister. I suppose I have an unusually good eye and steady hand, and have a sort of natural aptitude for shooting. Woodall said that he considered me as good a shot as any man in the country, if not better. I am afraid we mustn't fire a pistol here, or I think I could convince you.
I should think you have, Julian, Frank said, looking closely at his brother. "The expression of your face has very much changed, and you certainly look as if you could say 'No' very decidedly now."
It is an off-chance, no doubt; still it is better to be doing something that may turn out useful than to be walking up and down the High Street or playing billiards. I don't spend much time over it now, for there is a good deal to do in learning one's work, but when I once get out of the hands of the drill-sergeant and the riding-master I shall have a lot of time to myself, and shall be very glad to occupy some of it in getting up Russian.
It is not my sledge, nor is it my rug, though I have two or three of them quite as handsome. The coat is my own, the sledge belongs to my intimate friend Count Woronski, with whom I am at present staying.
It was but for five or six minutes at the utmost that he had lost sight of the bushes, and in that time the man could not have got far. "Where on earth has he hidden himself?" Julian muttered.
There are no 'buts' in it, Wilmington. You must give me your word of honour that you will go on as you have done. Don't be afraid of anyone thinking you a coward. There is no cowardice in refusing to fight a man who is so much your superior in skill that it would be nothing short of suicide in standing up against him. I have a private reason for believing that it won't last long.
As soon as the magistrate had concluded his talk with Mr. Henderson, and the latter had gone off to carry out the arrangements, Colonel Chambers turned to the captain and said, "Have you seen any of the London papers, Downes?"
The warmth doubtless did more than Julian's exhortation, for the child said no more, and Julian felt certain after a short time that she had gone off to sleep. He was now in his place with his company again, and joined in the song that they were singing, softly at first, but, as he felt no movement, louder and louder until, as usual, his voice rose high above the chorus. Nevertheless, his thoughts were with the child. What was he to do with her? how was she to be fed? He could only hope for the best. So far Providence had assuredly made him the means of preserving her life, and to Providence he must leave the rest. It might be all for the best. The weight was little to him, and there was a sense of warmth and comfort in the little body that lay so close to his back. What troubled him most was the thought of what he should do with her when he was engaged with the Russians. He decided that she must stay then in one of the carts that carried the spare ammunition of the regiment, and accompanied it everywhere. "At any rate, if I should fall," he said, "and she be left behind, she has only to speak in Russian when the enemy come up, and no doubt they will take care of her. Her father must be a man of some importance. The carriage was a very handsome one. If she can make them understand who she is, there is no doubt they will restore her to her parents."
Hitherto the men who had volunteered had been hooted by their fellow-prisoners as they went out, but the promise that they should not be called upon for service against British troops made a great difference in the feeling with which the offer was regarded, and had it not been for the hope that everyone felt that he should ere long be exchanged, the number who stepped forward would have been greatly increased. A strong French division had marched into Verdun that morning, and the new volunteers were all divided among different corps. Julian, who now stood over six feet, was told off to a Grenadier regiment. A uniform was at once given to him from those carried with the baggage of the regiment, and the sergeant of the company in which he had been placed took him to its barrack-room.
Frank worked steadily at Russian, and although he found it extremely difficult at first, soon began to make progress under his teacher, who took the greatest pains with him. He soon got over the good-tempered chaff of the subalterns of his detachment, who, finding that he was at other times always ready to join in anything going on, and was wholly unruffled by their jokes, soon gave it up. They agreed among themselves that he was a queer fellow, and allowed him to go his own way without interference. At the end of three months he was discharged from drill and riding school, and had thenceforth a great deal more time on his hands, and was able to devote three hours of a morning and two of an afternoon to Russian.
We heard afterwards that of the 6000 British soldiers who began the day, but 1800 stood unwounded at the end. They had with them 24,000 Spaniards, but, of course, we never counted them as anything, and they did their allies more harm than good by throwing them into confusion in their flight. We had 19,000 infantry, all veteran troops, mind you, and yet we could not storm that hill, and drive those 6000 Englishmen off it. We lost over 8000 men, and that in a battle that lasted only four hours. Our regiment suffered so that it was reduced to a third of its number. We fought them again at Salamanca, and got thrashed there; soon after that we were sent back to France to fill up our ranks again, and I for one was glad indeed when we were sent to the Rhine and not back to Spain; for I tell you I never want to meet the English again in battle. Borodino was bad enough, and for stubborn, hard fighting, the Russians have proved themselves as tough customers as one can want to meet; but the English have more dash and quickness. They man?uvre much more rapidly than do the Russians, and when they charge, you have either got to destroy them or to go.
They want you, she said to Julian, "to take off your uniform and to put on clothes like theirs. They say that though they wish to take you with me to my father, they might on the way fall in with other people or with soldiers, who would not know how good you are, and might take you away from them and kill you, so that it would be safer for you to travel in Russian dress. You won't mind that, will you?"
What nonsense! he exclaimed. "What am I to do with all these things? It is magnificent; but it is too much altogether. Why, these furs alone are worth hundreds of pounds! No doubt the count is extremely rich. I have already heard him speak of three or four estates in different parts of Russia, and this palace is fit for a prince. Of course, he can afford it well enough, but to me all this is quite overpowering. I should like to see Aunt's face if I were to turn up at Weymouth with all this kit."
The French infantry took advantage of the attention of the defenders being diverted by this attack, and with a rush stormed the work; the four Russian regiments who held it fought to the last, refusing all offers of quarter, and maintaining a hand-to-hand conflict until annihilated. The Russian artillery, in the works round Gorki, swept the redoubt with their fire, and under its cover the infantry made repeated but vain attacks to recapture it, for their desperate bravery was unavailing against the tremendous artillery fire concentrated upon them, while the French on their part were unable to take advantage of the position they had gained. Napoleon, indeed, would have launched his troops against the works round Gorki, but his generals represented to him that the losses had already been so enormous, that it was doubtful whether he could possibly succeed, and if he did so, it could only be with such further loss as would cripple the army altogether.