"Are you one of those wicked Frenchmen?" she asked.
"Or you might stay here?"
BEFORE THE JUSTICES
"Julian!" burst from his lips, "my brother, can it be really you?"
After having finally arranged these matters, he started north with Frank, furnished with an order to postmasters on the road to supply them instantly with relays of horses. Travelling night and day without a stop, they arrived at Smolensk on the day before the French attacked the place. Sir Robert had expected to find the Emperor here, but learnt that he was still at St. Petersburg. Being personally acquainted with all the Russian generals he was received with the greatest courtesy, and at once placed himself at the disposal of the commander-in-chief, while Frank was introduced to the members of the staff.
"That is quite true, now I come to think of it," Frank said; "though I never gave it a thought before. Yes, I see that the left hand is the most useful one, and I will practice with that as well as with the other. Well, what hour will suit you?"
As time went on the difference in their characters became still more marked. Julian had left school a year after his father's death, and had since been doing nothing in particular. He had talked vaguely of going into the army, and his father's long services would have given him a claim for a commission had he decided upon writing to ask for one, but Julian could never bring himself to decide upon anything. Had there been an old friend of his father's at hand ready to settle the matter for him he would have made no opposition whatever, but his aunt was altogether opposed to the idea, and so far from urging him to move in the matter she was always ready to say, whenever it happened to be mentioned, "There is no hurry, my dear Julian. We hear terrible stories of the hardships that the soldiers suffer in Spain; and although, if you decide upon going, of course I can't say no, still there can be no hurry about it."
Napoleon's plans, which, if carried out, would have saved the army, were brought to nought by the incapacity of the generals charged with the duty. The vast dep?ts and stores that had been formed at various points fell successively into the hands of the various Russian armies now operating against the French. Bridges of vital importance on the line of retreat were captured and destroyed, and repeated defeats inflicted upon the armies that should have joined Napoleon as he fell back. Everywhere fatal blunders were made by the French commanders, and it seemed as if Heaven had determined to overthrow every combination formed by Napoleon's sagacity, in order that the destruction of his army should be complete. The army of Macdonald, that should have joined him, was itself warmly pressed by the forces of Wittgenstein and the garrison of Riga, which had been greatly reinforced. Schwarzenberg, with the Austrian army, fell back without striking a blow; for the Austrians, in view of the misfortunes that had befallen Napoleon, were preparing to cast off their alliance with him; and to aid in his discomfiture, Wittgenstein was ordered by Alexander to withdraw at once from his operations against Macdonald and to march upon Borizov on the Berezina, the point towards which Napoleon was making; while Admiral Tchichagow, with the army of the Danube, that had been engaged in watching the Austrians, was to march in the same direction, and also interpose to cut off the French retreat.
"I am, sir, most desirous."