The Major shook his head. "I am afraid that settles it, Lister. It may do for a good shot to try experiments of that sort with a bad one, but not against a man like Marshall. It would be far better for him to aim at the body. That is a good big mark, and if he is as good a shot as you say, and is quick enough to pull his trigger first, it would make matters safe, but as to aiming at his hand it would be sheer madness. You tell him what I think of it. Ah! here comes the others."
"Yes, General. I was a prisoner at Verdun, though neither an English soldier or sailor, and when a call came for volunteers, and I was promised that I should not be called upon to fight against my own countrymen, I thought it better to carry a French musket than to rot in a French prison."
"Splendid, comrade! That is a first-rate fit-out. I am obliged to you indeed."
"You have come at an opportune moment, sir, to see fighting. If you had come sooner you would have seen nothing but running away. If you would like to make a tour of the walls to see what is going on, an officer shall accompany you."
"It will be your duty to call upon every gentleman to whom I have introduced you; that is to say, to leave a card at the door, and every one of them will leave a card at my house for you. I will make out a list for you in the morning of the names and addresses. You will find a sledge at the door at three o'clock; it will be at your disposal while you remain with me. It is a small and light one, like this, with a pair of horses. It is seldom that three horses are used unless ladies are of the party. There is much for you to see, and it will be more pleasant for you to be your own master and go about as you please."
"Yes, I am."
Frank accepted the invitation with thanks. He had nothing at present to report more than the aide-de-camp would take back, and he knew that Sir Robert would be glad of further particulars. He therefore asked him to tell Sir Robert why he had stayed, and at once proceeded to the walls, accompanied by an officer of Doctorow's staff. From there, little could be seen of the fighting. The musketry fire, indeed, had almost ceased, and the French could be seen retiring up the hill, where dense masses of troops were drawn up. Returning to the general's quarters he mounted and rode back to the commander-in-chief's staff.
"My dear Frank, I am afraid you must all have been in a horrible fright about me, and no wonder. I am a most unfortunate fellow, and seem to be always putting my foot in it, and yet really I don't think I was to blame about this. In the first place, I may tell you that I am on board a French smuggler, that we have just entered the Loire, and that in a few hours shall be at Nantes. The smugglers will bring this letter back to England, and as they say they shall probably sail again a few days after they get in, I hope it will not be very long before it comes to hand. And now as to how I got here."
"Well, Downes," Colonel Chambers said, "it seems to me that these two brothers are born to get into adventures and to get well out of them. However, Frank, although you have acted very creditably, and must certainly be a wonderful shot with a pistol, don't do this sort of thing too often."