One after another the generals urged the request.
"Quite cleared, Frank?" he asked in a low tone; "cleared so that no doubt remains, and that I can go home without fear of having it thrown into my face?"
"That is true enough, but bad is the best, lad. Some of our battalions are nearly all young soldiers, and I can't say much for their conduct, while the seven battalions of Spaniards, Wurtemburgers, and men from the Duchy of Baden have behaved shamefully, and I don't think that the four squadrons of Polish cavalry have been any better. We have all been bad; there is no denying it; and never should we have conquered Germany, crushed Prussia, and forced Austria to submit, had our armies behaved in the way they have done of late. Napoleon would soon have put a stop to it then. He would have had one or two of the worst regiments drawn up, and would have decimated them as a lesson to the rest. Now his orders seem to go for nothing. He has far too much on his mind to attend to such things, and the generals have been thinking so much of pressing on after the enemy that they have done nothing to see the orders carried into effect. It was the same sort of thing that drove the Spaniards into taking to the mountains, and causing us infinite trouble and great loss of life. Fortunately, here we are so strong that we need fear no reverse, but if a disaster occurred I tell you, Jules, we should have good cause to curse the marauders who have converted these lazy peasants into desperate foes."
"There was a great noise," she said gravely, "and guns fired, and the coachman fell off the box, and then nurse called out and opened the door and jumped out, and then the horses plunged and the carriage fell over, and I don't know any more."
The next three weeks passed most pleasantly for Julian. Every day there were calls to make, excursions to various points to be undertaken, and dinner parties nearly every evening, either at the count's, at the houses of his friends, or at the club. He found French almost universally spoken among the upper class, and was everywhere cordially welcomed as a friend of the count's. The latter was sometimes questioned by his intimate acquaintances as to his English friend, and to them he replied, "Monsieur Wyatt is the son of a colonel in the English army. He has rendered me a very great service, the nature of which I am not at liberty to disclose. Suffice that the obligation is a great one, and that I regard him as one of my dearest friends. Some day, possibly, my lips may be unsealed, but you must at present be content to take him on my sponsorship."
"He is big," Frank agreed, looking up at him. "I feel quite small beside him. He was always a great deal taller than I was, and he has grown a good bit since I saw him last. But he looks rather big for a nurse."
"It did look ugly at first, Julian. When I heard Faulkner's deposition I could see no way out of it whatever. I could not suppose that a dying man would lie, and, absolutely sure of your innocence as I was, could make neither head nor tail of the matter. Is this the mansion? You certainly have fallen on good quarters."
However, as the breakfast was being eaten, Captain Lister answered all questions.
"Half-past four will suit very well, Mr. Wyatt. It is four o'clock now, so if you like to take your first lesson to-day I will meet you at the shed in half an hour. You cannot miss the place, it is on the right side of the road and stands by itself, and there is my name over the door."
"Pretty poor fare, isn't it, mate?" one of them said as he observed the air of disfavour with which Julian regarded his rations. "It has been a matter of deep calculation with these French fellows as to how little would do just to keep a man alive, and I reckon they have got it to a nicety. This is what we have three times a day, and I don't know whether one is most hungry when one turns in at night, or when one turns out in the morning. However, we shall be better off to-night. We get our supper at six, and at eight we shall get in that stuff you paid for. It is a precious deal better than this, I can tell you; for one of our chums managed to hide two or three shillings when they searched us, and got some in, and it was good, and no mistake; and they give half a slice of bread with each pint. It is better bread than this black stuff they give us in prison. Though an English dog would turn up his nose at it, still it helps to fill up."下载
During Sir Robert's stay in St. Petersburg the Emperor took every occasion to show him marked favour, as if anxious to assure those whose views Sir Robert had represented, that he was in no way displeased with them for the attitude they had assumed; and upon his leaving to rejoin the army the Emperor directed him to repeat in the most formal manner his declaration that he would not enter into or permit any negotiations with Napoleon; and added that he would sooner let his beard grow to his waist, and eat potatoes in Siberia.下载
"Are you mostly men-of-war's men?"下载
"Oh, I do wish," Mrs. Troutbeck said tearfully, "that it could have been managed so that he would not have been obliged to be placed in the dock with smugglers and all sorts of people."下载
"So I have been told, Sergeant. I think it was a mistake, but that is your business. Everyone is getting weaker, and you are not likely to be able to carry her for long. However, of course, you can take her if you like, and as long as there are horses to drag the ammunition carts you can put her in them when you choose."下载
On going out into the hall a singular spectacle presented itself. The grand staircase was lined on each side with kneeling men and women. There was a sound of suppressed sobbing, and a low murmur was heard as Stephanie appeared.下载
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.下载
Three days later Frank said good-bye to his aunt and friends, and returned to Canterbury, travelling this time by coach, as no craft happened to be sailing for Dover.下载