"Why, how do you know that?" Captain Lister asked in surprise. "He can't have been here since I left him."
"Well, don't let us talk about it," another said with an effort at cheerfulness. "There is Jules, he is the merriest fellow in our company. Come here, Jules. We are all grumbling. What do you think of things?"
"That is right, lad. Ah, here is supper. I am sure you must want it after being eighteen hours on the outside of a coach in such weather as this, though I daresay as far as food went you did not do badly."
"They generally sit at eleven o'clock; but it ain't their day, and they will have to be summoned special. I should not wonder if they don't meet till two o'clock; because they could not be sure what time the Boxer will get round, and, as he will have taken some prisoners in the lugger, they would not begin until he arrived."
"Mr. Wyatt," the count said gravely, "the one act was momentary and without risk. The other was done at the cost of labour and sacrifice daily and hourly for nearly a month. You have been through the campaign, and know how frightful were the sufferings, how overwhelming the exhaustion of the soldiers. You can judge, then, how terrible was the addition to a soldier's labours to have to carry a child like that for so long, when his own strength was hourly weakening, and when every additional pound of weight told heavily upon him. The tears come into the eyes of the countess and myself every time we think of it. It was an act of self-devotion beyond words; altogether beyond the understanding of those who know not how terrible were the sufferings endured on the march."
"A smuggling affair, Master Frank. There was a fight. I hears one of the revenue men was killed. I don't know as that is so, but some of them have been knocked about, and have got some pistol wounds, no doubt. But that ain't the worst part of the business. Mr. Julian is among those as has been caught."
In the attack on Smolensk 12,000 of Napoleon's best soldiers had fallen. Loubino cost him 6000 more, and although these numbers were but small in proportion to the total strength of his army, they were exclusively those of French soldiers belonging to the divisions in which he placed his main trust. It was now a question with him whether he should establish himself for the winter in the country he occupied, accumulate stores, make Smolensk a great dep?t that would serve as a base for his advance in the spring, or move on at once against Moscow. On this point he held a council with his marshals. The opinion of these was generally favourable to the former course. The desperate fighting of the three previous days had opened their eyes to the fact that even so great a force as that led by Napoleon could not afford to despise the Russians. The country that was at present occupied was rich. There were so many towns that the army could go into comfortable quarters for the winter, and their communications with the frontier were open and safe. It was unquestionably the safer and more prudent course.
"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."
"What have you got?"