"Whether I shall find you there or not I can't tell. I have but little hope that you will be able to get a commission. This affair of mine will be, I fear, an absolute bar to that. But, wherever you may be, I shall do my best to find you out, after I have seen Aunt. This will be given you by a good fellow named Jim Thompson. He has been a first mate, and has been a good friend to me ever since I have been over here. If he is exchanged, he will bring it to you; if not, he will give it to one of the men who is exchanged to post it on his arrival in England. I shall direct it both to you and Aunt, so that if you are away from Weymouth she will open it. God bless you both."
WITH THE RUSSIAN ARMY
After this Julian went on more than one occasion with Bill and other fishermen to look on at the landing of contraband cargoes. If the distance was within a walk they would start from Weymouth straight inland, and come down by the road along which the carts were to fetch the goods up, for it was only occasionally that the fishermen would take their boats. At Lulworth, of course, there had been no risk in their doing so, as boats, when fishing to the east, would often make their way into the cove and drop anchor there for a few hours. But when the run was to be made at lonely spots, the sight of fishing boats making in to anchor would have excited the suspicions of the coast-guard on the cliffs. The number of fishermen who took part in the smugglers' proceedings was but small. All of these had either brothers or other relations on board the luggers, or were connected with some of the smugglers' confederates on shore. They received a handsome sum for their night's work, which was at times very hard, as the kegs had often to be carried up steep and dangerous paths to the top of the cliffs, and then a considerable distance across the downs to the nearest points the carts could come to.
A quarter of an hour later they returned with a sergeant and two soldiers. The captain pointed him out to the sergeant. The latter crossed the plank on to the deck, put his hand on Julian's shoulder, and motioned to him to follow him ashore.
"You must come home with me first, Frank. I must introduce you to the count and countess, and to Stephanie. Then to-morrow morning you must come round early. I have heard nothing yet as to how the truth about that murder came out so rapidly. It seemed to me that the evidence was conclusive against me, and that even the letter that I wrote telling you about it, was so improbable that no one but you and Aunt would credit, in the slightest."
"I am aware of that," Jules said, looking at Stephanie as she stood laughing and talking with some of the soldiers at a fire close by; "but I believe that I shall save her. I cannot help thinking she would never have given that little cry which met my ears as I passed by the broken carriage, if it had not been meant that she should be saved. To all appearance she was well-nigh insensible, and she would have suffered no more pain. It would have been a cruel instead of a kind action to save her, when she was already well-nigh dead. I firmly believe that, whoever falls during the struggle that may be before us, that child will get through safely and be restored to her parents. I don't say that I think that I myself shall go through it, but my death does not necessarily mean hers. If she falls into the hands of the peasants, and tells them who she is, they may take care of her for the sake of getting a reward, and she may in time be restored to her friends. At any rate, as long as I have strength to carry her I shall assuredly do so; when I cannot, I shall wrap her in my cloak and shall lie down to die, bidding her sit wrapped up in it till she sees some Russians approaching. She will then speak to them in their own language and tell them who she is, and that they will get a great reward from her parents if they take care of her and send her to them."
"I cannot blame you, Mr. Wyatt. Yours is a singular and most unfortunate story, and it seems to me that, had I been in your place, I should have acted precisely the same, and should have been glad to take service under any flag rather than have remained to rot in a prison. Certainly you had a thousand times better excuse than had the Austrians and Prussians, who, after having been our allies, entered upon this savage war of invasion without a shadow of excuse, save that it was the will of Napoleon. However, I think that it will be as well, in order to save any necessity for explanation, that I should introduce you to my friends as an English gentleman who has come to me with the warmest recommendations, and whom I am most anxious to serve in any way. This is not a time when men concern themselves in any way with the private affairs of others. There is not a family in Russia, high or low, who has not lost one or more members in this terrible struggle. Publicly, and as a nation, we rejoice at our deliverance, and at the destruction of our enemies. Privately, we mourn our losses.
Mrs. Troutbeck was quite satisfied with the explanation, and was at once taken up to bed by the servant, while Frank, seeing that it was as yet but eight o'clock, put on his cap and ran to Mr. Henderson's. The latter was at home, and received with great pleasure the news that Julian was alive. He read the letter through attentively.
"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."