"Well, you have had luck, Julian. I did think that if you once got out of prison you would be likely to fall upon your feet, because you always had the knack of making yourself at home anywhere; but I had no idea of anything like this. Well, I don't think you are to blame for having entered the French service rather than remaining a prisoner, especially as you were, as far as you knew, cut off from returning home. Still, I agree with you that it is as well not to talk about it at present. It is marvellous to think that you were with Ney through all that fighting. The doings of the rear-guard were, I can assure you, the subject of the warmest admiration on the part of the Russians. Sir Robert Wilson considers that the retreat from Smolensk was one of the most extraordinary military exploits ever performed. And so you were made a sergeant after Borodino? Well, Julian, to win your stripes among such a body as Ney led is no slight honour."
"Ah! that accounts for your working so hard at Russian, Wyatt," the major said in reply. "I suppose you had received a hint from Sir Robert."
In a quarter of an hour they arrived at the gunsmith's. "Woodall," Captain Lister said, "my friend, Mr. Wyatt, who has lately joined, has a fancy for becoming a first-rate pistol shot."
When Julian arrived at the age of nineteen it was tacitly understood that the idea of his going into the army had been altogether dropped, and that when a commission was asked for, it would be for Frank. Although Julian was still her favourite, Mrs. Troutbeck was more favourably disposed towards Frank than of old. She knew from her friends that he was quite as popular among his schoolmates as his brother had been, although in a different way. He was a hard and steady worker, but he played as hard as he worked, and was a leader in every game. He, however, could say "no" with a decision that was at once recognized as being final, and was never to be persuaded into joining in any forbidden amusement or to take share in any mischievous adventure. When his own work was done he was always willing to give a quarter of an hour to assist any younger lad who found his lessons too hard for him, and though he was the last boy to whom any one would think of applying for a loan of money, he would give to the extent of his power in any case where a subscription was raised for a really meritorious purpose.
"Well, yes, and so might any other out-of-the-way language."
The Argo arrived at Constantinople at the end of June, and they found that the treaty of peace between Turkey and Russia had been already arranged. A month was spent in vexatious delays, which were the more irritating as it was known that Napoleon had arrived at the frontier, and was on the point of crossing the Niemen, if he had not already done so. At last the British ambassador succeeded in overcoming the inertness of the Porte; on the 14th of July the treaty was finally ratified, and on the 27th Sir Robert Wilson was sent by our ambassador to Shumla to arrange details with the Grand Vizier. Thence he went to the Congress at Bucharest, which was the headquarters of the Russian Admiral, Tchichagow, who commanded their army of the Danube.
"You see, Mr. Wyatt, nothing will alter the determination of the countess and myself in this matter; and if you had not consented to accept our commission and to carry out our wishes, we should have had no course open but to communicate with our embassy in London, and to request them to appoint someone to act as our agent in the matter. This would not have been so satisfactory, for the agent would of course have been ignorant of your brother's tastes and wishes; whereas you will be able to learn from him exactly the position that would be most agreeable. All we ask is that you will not go below the minimum we have named, and the more you exceed it the better we shall be pleased. You know well how we feel in the matter, and that anything that can be done in this way will still fall very far short of the measure of gratitude we feel towards your brother."
The French, finding that the Russian army was going off, crossed the river in force and furiously attacked their rear-guard, and tried to penetrate between it and the main body of the army, but Prince Eugene's division was sent back to assist General Korf, who commanded there. In the meantime two columns of the French moved along the main road to Moscow with the evident intention of heading the Russian army at Loubino, the point where the cross road by which they were travelling came into it. This they might have accomplished owing to the much shorter distance they had to travel and the delays caused by the difficulty of getting the guns over the hills, but a small Russian corps under Touchkoff had been sent forward to cover that point. Ney had crossed the river early by two bridges he had thrown over it, and Touchkoff, as he saw this force pressing along the main road, took up a position where he covered Loubino, and for some hours repulsed all the efforts of the French to pass.
"No, Aunt; and I am sorry to say that he has got into an awkward scrape. It seems that he went out, for the fun of the thing, to see a cargo run. The revenue people came up, and he was one of those who were caught. Of course he had nothing to do with the smuggling part of the business, nor with a bit of a fight there was. Still, as he was there, I am afraid there is no doubt that he will have to appear before the magistrates with the others."
"Don't you mind, Wilmington," Frank said one day, "and don't make a fool of yourself. You put up with it a little longer, and something may occur to put a stop to it. He may go away on leave, or he may get a hint that he had better retire from the service. I have heard that it is likely enough that he will get a hint the next time he has an affair of this sort. The last two were with civilians, and I believe that is the reason why so few accept our invitations to mess; but I fancy if he gets into trouble again with one of ourselves he will have to go."