"All right, lad; I don't think I am likely to get much sleep."
Hitherto he had supposed that the man was keeping away from the cliff to avoid meeting any of the coast-guards who would be on duty there, but this change of direction puzzled him completely. Keeping his eye on the poacher, he saw him enter a small clump of bushes, from which he did not emerge. Julian at once slackened his pace down to a walk. It was likely enough that the man had noticed that he was being pursued, and had determined to rid himself of the pursuer. It was not a pleasant idea, that the fellow might now be kneeling among the bushes with his gun at his shoulder.
"'I agree with the Englishman,' he said. 'You have had a lesson that will last you all your life. I wish I had means of sending an answer back to this English colonel, thanking him for his generous treatment. If he ever falls into our hands, I will take care that this action of his shall be brought to the general's notice. You can go.'
Followed by the village priest and the peasant they entered a room fitted as a library.
This was a question Frank could not answer.
"I told him.
The Frenchman's thoughts were not dissimilar to his own. "He is a brave gar?on," he said to himself, "and makes the best of things. He is a fine-looking fellow, too, and will be a big man in another year or two. It is a misfortune that we have got to take him and shut him up in prison. Why did he mix himself up in this affair of Markham? That is the way with boys. Instead of being grateful to the man that had killed his enemy, he must needs run after him as if he had done him an injury. Well, it can't be helped now; but, at least, I will make him as comfortable as I can as long as he is on board the lugger."
"But, however far he went, he ought to be back before this."
"They are not going to do anything, Aunt. He has been acquitted. Only he did not come home with me because there are a lot of sailors waiting outside to cheer him, and the magistrates did not want a row over him, nor did Julian either. I have just run home to tell you that it is all right, and now I am going back for him. I expect by the time I get there they will all have gone, and we may be home in a quarter of an hour, so I think, Aunt, the best thing you can do is to get tea ready, for I don't expect he has had much to eat there, or any appetite to eat it."
"I have been expecting that for some time," Brison said. "As our division is nearest to the city, I thought they would be sure to turn us out before long, to put out those fires. They must be the work of some of our rascally camp-followers, or of some of the ruffians of the town, who have been breaking into deserted houses and plundering them. Well, the liquor is finished, and there is always interest in fighting a fire."
"This is better luck than I looked for, comrade," he said as they cooked the food they had found in the village, filled their pipes, and sat down by a blazing fire. "Peste! I was frightened as we crossed the river last night. We knew the ice was not strong, and if it had given way as we crossed, not a man upon it would have reached the other side. However, it turned out for the best, and here we are again, and I believe that we shall somehow get through after all. Ney always has good luck. There is never any hesitation about him. He sees what has to be done and does it. That is the sort of man for a leader. I would rather serve under a man who does what he thinks best at once, even if it turns out wrong, than one who hesitates and wants time to consider. Ney has been called 'the child of victory,' and I believe in his star. Anyone else would have surrendered after that fight yesterday, and yet you see how he has got out of the scrape so far. I believe that Ney will cross the frontier safe, even if he carries with him only a corporal's guard."
JULIAN INTRODUCES STEPHANIE TO HIS BROTHER FRANK.