"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.
In ten minutes Frank stepped on to the deck of the Boxer. Captain Downes met him there. "I congratulate you, Mr. Wyatt," he said warmly. "I suppose you have been hearing that we had a sharp tussle with the smugglers, and at last captured that confounded lugger that has given us so much trouble for the past two years. Though I am mightily pleased at that, I am more pleased still that among those on board was that fellow Markham. He fought like a tiger. I reckon he knew that his neck was in a noose, for he would, of course, have heard from his friends here that the matter of Faulkner's murder had been cleared up, and there was a warrant out against him. Well, he got a pistol shot in his chest, and after it was all over we found that he was pretty near gone. As soon as a lantern was put to his face two or three of the men knew him at once, and I went up to him. He was pretty well past speaking, but as I stooped over him he said, 'You have got me this time, Captain Downes, and no mistake. Well, it don't make much matter; I was getting sick of the life. You look in the pocket of my jacket when I am gone, and you will find a letter there. I swore to young Wyatt that I would clear him of that charge of shooting Faulkner. I shot him myself, and I have put it all down there.'
"A charge of murder!" Julian repeated, springing to his feet. "How could such a charge be brought? It could not have been known so soon that I was missing. I must go back and face it. If I run away, now I have been openly accused, everyone will make sure of my guilt."
"It is a very painful matter, Mr. Wyatt; but it is useless trying to hide the truth from you, for you must know it shortly. I hold a warrant for your brother's arrest on the charge of attempted wilful murder."
"That I will assuredly do, Count," Julian said warmly. "I do not quite know at present what I shall do. As I have told you, I shall, in addition to my share of my father's money, inherit some from my aunt, and shall be able, if I choose, to buy a small estate and settle down. I am too old to go into our army now, but, besides, I think that ere long this European struggle will be over, and in that case there will be nothing for a soldier to do. Still in any case I shall be able occasionally to make a voyage here; and I can assure you that it will be one of my greatest pleasures to do so."
"A very good idea, sir. The hand is not much of a mark when holding a pistol, still it is a good bit bigger than a penny piece, and you would soon get to hit it just as certainly."
"What did you follow me for?"
"Do you think, Colonel Chambers, that they will be able to keep Julian away for a long time?"
"We are going to cook our suppers directly, dear. Now let us go and sit by that fire. I am afraid you won't find the supper very nice, but it is the best we have got. What is your name?"