"All that, sir, all that; nigher thirty, I should say. There is three luggers at it reg'lar."
They found that the servant who had preceded them with the baggage had already made all the arrangements for their crossing the gulf. The extreme cold had everywhere so completely frozen the sea that there was no difficulty in crossing, which, they learned, was not often the case. Three sledges had been engaged for their transport. The distance was about 120 miles; but it was broken by the islands of the Aland Archipelago, and upon one or other of these they could take refuge in the event of any sudden change of weather. They were to start at midnight, and would reach Bomarsund, on the main island of Aland, on the following evening, wait there for twenty-four hours to rest the animals, and would reach the mainland the next day.
"Certainly not, sir. I am heartily sorry for what has occurred," and beckoning to Frank, who was still seated at the solicitors' table, he retired with him to a waiting-room.
"Well, you see, that lesson has lasted all my life; and I am certainly not likely to forget it here, where the peasants are every bit as savage as the Spaniards. But as for the English, though I have fought with them half a dozen times since, and have been beaten by them too, I have always had a liking for them. That was one reason why I took to you, youngster, from the first."
Sir Robert listened to their arguments, and then said: "This is altogether too grave a matter for me to decide upon hastily. I know thoroughly well that there is no thought of disloyalty in the mind of any of you towards the will of the Emperor, but the act is one of the gravest insubordination, and it is indeed a threat that you will disobey his Majesty's commands in the event of his ordering a suspension of hostilities. As to the conduct of the commander-in-chief, I am not competent to express any opinion whatever, but as a soldier I can understand that this long-continued retreat and the abandonment of so many provinces to the enemy, without striking a single blow in their defence, is trying in the extreme, both to yourselves and your brave soldiers. I shall not leave the army until I see it fairly on the march again, but before I start I will give you my reply."
"But what possible ground can they have to go upon except that smuggling affair?"
The next morning Frank was at the office half an hour before the appointed time. Fortunately no snow had fallen in the night. The chief constable looked grave and anxious when the search began; Frank was excited rather than anxious. He had no fear whatever as to the result of the investigation; it would disclose nothing, he felt certain, to Julian's disadvantage. The continued absence of the latter was unaccountable to him, but he felt absolutely certain that it would be explained satisfactorily on his return.
"I will take your advice, certainly," Frank said; "the more so that the time spent in learning to be a good shot with a pistol will be most useful in a campaign, even if there is no occasion ever to put it to the test when at home."下载
After careful search they found the heavy footprints at several spots where the snow lay, and near them also found traces of the lighter boots. The trees then grew thicker, but following the line indicated by the footprints, they came to the spot where he had left the wood.下载
"Very good, indeed," the gunsmith said. "I don't hesitate to say that in a very short time you will become a fair shot, and at the end of three months, if you practise regularly, a first-class one. Your hand is very steady, your eye true, and you have plenty of nerve. Now, sir, I should advise you to keep that unloaded pistol in the drawer of your table, and whenever you have nothing else to do, spend five minutes in taking quick aims at marks on the wall, using your hands alternately. Now, Captain Lister, will you try a few shots?"
Smolensk was, like Moscow, considered a sacred city, and the soldiers were affected rather by the impiety of the act than by the actual destruction that was being wrought. As General Wilson and Frank rode back to the spot where General Barclay was stationed, a mass of Russian infantry moved down the hill towards the bridges, and at once began to cross.