"I sincerely trust so," Frank said gravely. "I think I can say that assuredly I shall never be the first to insult anyone else, and that if ever I fight again, it will, as in this case, not be in my own quarrel."
It was not many minutes before portions of the horse were cooking over the fire.
"A charge of murder!" Julian repeated, springing to his feet. "How could such a charge be brought? It could not have been known so soon that I was missing. I must go back and face it. If I run away, now I have been openly accused, everyone will make sure of my guilt."
"It is as I said, Mr. Wyatt. Count Woronski wrote to me expressing his desire to present you with an estate here as some slight token, as he expressed it, of the enormous obligation under which you have placed him and the countess, his wife. I may say that his instructions to me would have authorized the purchase of a much larger estate than this, but he begged me to be guided by the advice of your brother, Captain Wyatt, in the matter, and the latter obliged me by taking the responsibility of choosing an estate off my hands, and has selected this. My part in the business has therefore been confined to carrying out the legal part in the matter and completing the purchase."
"My dear Wyatt, your letter inclosing Strelinski's certificate came in the nick of time. I had already made an application that you should be attached to me for service, on the ground that you belonged to my old regiment, and knew something of Russian; but your age and short service were against you, and I doubt whether I should have succeeded, as the post is considered an important one. However, when I went and showed them the Pole's report as to your knowledge of Russian, and pointed out that this was a far more important matter in the present case than any question of age or service, the commander-in-chief at once agreed, and you will no doubt receive an intimation that you are appointed my aide-de-camp. I have been made a brigadier-general. It is not as yet settled when we shall start. I have only just received my official appointment, and there is no saying when I may get my final instructions; for it is to a certain extent a political affair, and this sort of thing always drags on for a long time before it comes to a head. It is lucky that your matter is arranged now, for I hear at the Horse-guards that your troop is ordered out to Spain. No doubt, just at the moment, you will be sorry that you are not going with it, but I can assure you that this business will be vastly more useful to you in your profession, than anything you would be likely to meet with as a cavalry subaltern in Spain."
"It is too big," she said a little fretfully.
"Some bad men took your cloak," he said; "none of these men here did it; and you were very cold when I found you, so I put some of the stuffing from the cushions round you to keep you warm, and you must wear them till I can get you another cloak. Comrades," he went on, to the soldiers who had gathered round to look at the little figure, "this is the Countess Stephanie Woronski, and I have told her that you will all be very kind to her and make her as comfortable as you can as long as she is with us."
"He would, too, act as my secretary. It may possibly be a year before Napoleon's preparations are completed; but even in a year I should hardly be justified in choosing so young an officer from my old regiment, unless he had some special qualifications for the post. Now, for your father's sake, Frank, and because I like you and feel sure that you are just the man I require, I should like to take you, but could not do so unless you had some special knowledge that I could urge as a reason for applying for you. There is only one such qualification that I know of, namely, that you should be able to speak the Russian language. When I spoke to you about learning French and German I did so on general principles, and not with a view to this, for it did not seem to me that I could possibly select you to go with me on this service; but I have since thought it over, and have come to the conclusion that I could do so, if you did but understand Russian. It is a most difficult language, and although I can now get on with it fairly after my stay out there, I thought at first I should never make any headway in it. It would, therefore, be of no use whatever for you to attempt it unless you are ready to work very hard at it, and to give up, I should say, at least four hours a day to study."下载
He now saw himself as he was, a tall figure of six feet two in height, with a broad pair of shoulders. The scenes of the last six months had given an expression of power and decision to his face that it had lacked before. The stern, set look of battle had left its mark upon it, and though a distinctly pleasant and kindly one, it was undoubtedly that of a soldier who had seen hard service and had looked death many times in the face. All question as to what he should say to the count was set at rest on his entry into the drawing-room, for the count took him by the hand, and, leading him across the room, presented him to the countess, who had for the first time made her appearance. She rose as they came across, and with trembling hands and eyes full of tears, came up to him.
The two magistrates put their heads together for a short time. Then the chairman said: "The bench is of opinion that the charge of attempted murder is altogether without foundation, and that of abusive language and the use of threats should never have been brought, seeing that they were the result of what we cannot but consider the very ill-judged and improper conduct of the plaintiff. You are therefore discharged, Mr. Wyatt; but my colleague and myself cannot but again express a hope that this and the preceding charge may prove a lesson to you to avoid taking part, even as a spectator, in such breeches of the law as those which led to this very regrettable occurrence."