And he then related the story of the discovery of the tracks, that proved that Julian had not gone near the tree behind which the murderer had for some time been standing, and how, after running in and finding Mr. Faulkner's body, he had set out in pursuit of the scoundrel.
"Very well; I will go round to the court-house after breakfast, and inquire what time the sitting will be. Anyhow, I hope to be able to see the lieutenant before they meet. I don't know that any good can come of it; for, as he had nothing to do with Julian's capture, he certainly would not be able to save him from appearing, especially after that row with Faulkner."
In the charge, however, General Touchkoff, by whose valour the Russian army had been saved, was carried too far in advance of his men, and was taken prisoner. It was not until midnight that the rear of Barclay's column emerged from the cross road, in which it had been involved for twenty-four hours. In this fight the French and Russians lost about 6000 men each. Had Junot joined Ney in the attack on Touchkoff's force the greater part of the Russian army must have been destroyed or made prisoners.
"It is to come off to-morrow," he said, "at six o'clock. It is to be in the field outside the wall, on the other side of the town. I have told my man to have the dogcart ready at half-past five. It did not take us long to arrange matters. His second is Rankin, of his regiment; and I don't think he liked the job at all. He began by saying:
Julian carried her to the fire, and seated her with her feet before it.
"How am I rum?"
Markham's prediction turned out correct. A fresh wind was blowing by the morning, and two days later the lugger was running along, close under the coast, fifteen miles south of the mouth of the Loire, having kept that course in order to avoid any British cruisers that might be off the mouth of the river. Before morning they had passed St. Nazaire, and were running up the Loire.
He was delighted with his master, whom he came to esteem highly, finding him a most intelligent companion as well as an unwearied teacher. Strelinski, indeed, would have been glad to have devoted twelve hours a day instead of five, could Frank have afforded the time. He was a very different man now to what he was when he had first called at Sir Robert Wilson's lodgings. He looked well and happy; his cheeks had filled out, and he carried himself well; he dressed with scrupulous care, and when Frank had no engagement with his comrades, the Pole accompanied him on long rides on his spare charger, he having been accustomed to riding from his childhood. From him Frank learned a great deal of the state of things in Poland and Russia, and gained a considerable insight into European politics, besides picking up a more intimate colloquial knowledge of Russian than he gained at his lessons. Of an evening Frank not unfrequently went to parties in the town. The gallant deeds of our troops in Spain had raised the military to great popularity throughout the country, and the houses of all the principal inhabitants of Canterbury were hospitably opened to officers of the garrison.
Julian with Stephanie were nestled up in the hay at one end of the sledge, the two Russians at the other. On reaching Borizow they stopped at the post-house, and on producing the podorojna were told that the carriage and horses would be ready in half an hour. They had brought a considerable amount of provisions with them, and now laid in a stock of such articles as could not be procured in the villages. When the post-carriage came round, a large proportion of the hay in the sledge was transferred to it, together with the sheep-skins. There was no luggage, and four horses were deemed sufficient. The wheels had, of course, been taken off the vehicle, and it was placed on runners. The driver climbed up to his seat, cracked his whip furiously, and the horses started at a gallop. The motion was swift and pleasant, indeed travelling in Russia is much more agreeable in winter than in summer, for the roads, which in summer are often detestable, are in winter as smooth as glass, over which the sledge glides with a scarce perceptible movement, and the journeys are performed much more rapidly than in summer.
Mrs. Troutbeck was, as Julian had predicted, astounded upon the arrival of his baggage. "I never saw such a thing!" she exclaimed, as trunk after trunk was carried into the house. "That Russian count of yours, Julian, must be a little cracked, I should think. Why, my dear boy, if you were to get stout what in the world would you do with all these things?"