"I will get you to write an account of my progress, Strelinski. I told Sir Robert Wilson that he should have one every three months, and the third is nearly due now. He was very pleased at your last report."
"Now," he said, "gentlemen, I shall say 'Are you ready?' and on receiving no answer shall fire; but mind I am determined that if either of you makes a move to turn, or raises his arm by as much as an inch from his side before he hears the shot I will shoot him down at once. Do you both understand that?"
"I feel another man already," one of the younger sergeants laughed, as they ate their meal. "Jules is right; good spirits are everything."
"What nonsense!" he exclaimed. "What am I to do with all these things? It is magnificent; but it is too much altogether. Why, these furs alone are worth hundreds of pounds! No doubt the count is extremely rich. I have already heard him speak of three or four estates in different parts of Russia, and this palace is fit for a prince. Of course, he can afford it well enough, but to me all this is quite overpowering. I should like to see Aunt's face if I were to turn up at Weymouth with all this kit."
"I do not want it," the Pole said; "but I am glad that you should have one, for you have been working very hard lately, and it is now nearly nine months since you came down here."
BEFORE THE JUSTICES
As the pursuit continued even Napoleon's best soldiers were surprised at their failure to overtake the Russians. However long their marches, however well planned the operations, the Russians always out-marched and out-man?uvred them. It seemed to them almost that they were pursuing a phantom army, a will-o'-the-wisp, that eluded all their efforts to grasp it, and a fierce fight between the rear-guard of Barclay de Tolly's army and the advance-guard of Murat's cavalry, in which the latter suffered severely, was the only fight of importance, until the invaders, after marching more than half-way to Moscow, arrived at Witebsk.
"'I don't want to keep you prisoner, my man,' he said. 'In the first place, I don't wish to be troubled with looking after you; and in the second, you cannot be considered as a prisoner of war, for you were unarmed and helpless when we found you. Now, we are going to march all night. I am not going to tell where we are going; but I think it likely that we shall pass within sight of your camp-fires, and in that case I will leave you to make your way down to them, and will hand you back your musket and pouch, which you may want if you happen to fall in with a stray peasant or two.'
The two constables were called up and taken along the line of track, and the chief constable pointed out to them that the man with well-made boots was evidently running after the other. Then they entered the wood. Carefully searching, they found here and there prints of both the boots. They went out into the drive, and, starting from the spot where Mr. Faulkner had been found, made for a large tree some thirty yards to the left.