"Well, comrade, so you too have gone through it without a scratch," Julian's friend, the sergeant, said to him. "Well, you will never see such a fight again if you grow gray in the service. Where are those who scoffed at the Russians now? They can fight, these men. It was a battle of giants. No one could have done more than we did, and yet they did as much; but to-morrow we shall win."
"That is the thing that does us good," Julian replied. "The columns ahead have nothing to do but to think of the cold, and hunger, and misery. They straggle along; they no longer march. With us it is otherwise. We are still soldiers; we keep our order. We are proud to know that the safety of the army depends on us; and, if we do get knocked over with a bullet, surely that is a better fate than dropping from exhaustion, and falling into the hands of the peasants."
"There is someone wants to speak to you, Master Frank."
"I should be quite ready to do that, sir," Frank said earnestly, "and I thank you indeed for your kindness. But who should I get to teach me?"
"According to the dates there was little doubt that they must have crossed the main road from Moscow to the frontier at the very time when the French army on its retreat would be moving along. All that we had heard and knew of the terrible distress, both of their army and of our own, showed that at that time the intense suffering of the French and the savage reprisals of our peasantry had reduced them to a state when nothing was respected, and that a pair of valuable horses and a heap of costly furs, to say nothing of the food carried, would be prizes almost beyond value. Deprived of these, a nurse and child would, in a few hours, die of the cold. That some such fate must have befallen them seemed almost certain, for otherwise they must have joined us.
"I may as well come with you, Wyatt," Captain Lister said. "I will fire a few shots myself, for I have had no practice for the last two years, and I have a fancy to see what I can do with my left hand. I have never tried with it, and I quite agree with Woodall that it is the left hand that a cavalry-man should use."