"I don't think he will put a ball in his head, major, but I shall not be surprised if he carries off one of his fingers. He has conscientious scruples about killing the man, and he is going to aim at his hand."
Napoleon halted them for two days, in order that they might rest and receive provisions from the baggage trains following. On the 4th of September they marched forward as before, in three columns, preceded by Murat's cavalry, which brushed aside the hordes of Cossack horse. Half-way to Gratz, a Russian division stoutly held for some time a height up which the road wound, but after some sharp fighting was forced to retreat.
"He has the most generous disposition of any boy I ever saw!" his aunt would frequently declare. "He's always ready to oblige. No matter what he is doing, he will throw it aside in a moment if I want anything done, or ask him to go on an errand into the town. Frank is very nice, he is very kind and all that sort of thing, but he goes his own way more, and I don't find him quite so willing to oblige as Julian; but then, of course, he is much younger, and one can't expect a boy of twelve to be as thoughtful to an old woman as a young fellow of nearly seventeen."
"Wolves are bad beasts. Stephanie was out riding in the sleigh with papa, when they came out from a wood and ran after us, and they would have killed us if the horses had not been very fast. Papa shot some of them, but the others did not seem to mind, and were close behind when we got home, where the men came out with forks and axes, and then they ran away. Stephanie will wait for her breakfast."
"He said that he had had the good fortune to find your little girl, and that he took her along with him in the retreat; but he seemed to consider that the service she did him when they fell among the Russian peasants quite settled matters between them. Doubtless, they mutually saved each other's lives."
"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."
The Argo arrived at Constantinople at the end of June, and they found that the treaty of peace between Turkey and Russia had been already arranged. A month was spent in vexatious delays, which were the more irritating as it was known that Napoleon had arrived at the frontier, and was on the point of crossing the Niemen, if he had not already done so. At last the British ambassador succeeded in overcoming the inertness of the Porte; on the 14th of July the treaty was finally ratified, and on the 27th Sir Robert Wilson was sent by our ambassador to Shumla to arrange details with the Grand Vizier. Thence he went to the Congress at Bucharest, which was the headquarters of the Russian Admiral, Tchichagow, who commanded their army of the Danube.
"Tell him, Stephanie, that he had better say at first only that someone has just come with the news that you are quite safe, and that you will be here soon, and then after a little while, he had better call your father out and tell him the truth. By the way, ask if they are together now."
The officer's look of gravity relaxed. "That is important, certainly," he said, "very important. I own that after hearing the deposition read it did seem to me that, as the result of this unfortunate quarrel, your brother might have been so goaded by something Mr. Faulkner said or did, that he had hastily loaded his gun, and in his passion run across the wood and shot him down. But now it is clear, from what you say, that it is most improbable he would have a bullet about him, and unless it can be proved that he obtained one from a gunmaker or otherwise, it is a very strong point in his favour. I suppose your brother has not returned this afternoon?"