"I received another, Frank; not so much for valour as for taking things easy." He took from his pocket the cross of the Legion of Honour. "This, Frank, is an honour Napoleon sent to me, and Ney pinned on my breast. I would rather that it had been Wellington who sent it, and say Picton who pinned it on; but it is a big honour none the less, and at any rate it was not won in fighting against my own countrymen. This document it is wrapped up in, is the official guarantee that I received on enlisting, that I should under no circumstances whatever be called upon to serve against the English."
"The debt is not all on your side, Mr. Faulkner. I, too, have got a debt to pay; and perhaps some day we may square matters up, when you have not got a score of coast-guardsmen at your back. However, I am content to leave matters as they are so long as you do the same. As to your owing a debt to me, it is yourself you have to thank for the trouble you have got into; it was no doing of mine. However, I warn you that you had better abstain from insulting me again. I did not strike you back when you hit me last time, but if you call me scoundrel again you shall see that I can hit as hard as you can, and I will teach you to keep a civil tongue in your head."
He now saw himself as he was, a tall figure of six feet two in height, with a broad pair of shoulders. The scenes of the last six months had given an expression of power and decision to his face that it had lacked before. The stern, set look of battle had left its mark upon it, and though a distinctly pleasant and kindly one, it was undoubtedly that of a soldier who had seen hard service and had looked death many times in the face. All question as to what he should say to the count was set at rest on his entry into the drawing-room, for the count took him by the hand, and, leading him across the room, presented him to the countess, who had for the first time made her appearance. She rose as they came across, and with trembling hands and eyes full of tears, came up to him.
"My dear Frank," Mrs. Troutbeck exclaimed, "where have you been? I have never known you keep breakfast waiting before. Why, what is the matter, dear? Nothing about Julian, I hope; hasn't he come home yet?"
"I sha'n't mind that, sir. I have often been chaffed at school, because I used to insist on getting up my work before I would join anything that was going on, and used to find that if I took it good temperedly, it soon ceased."
Julian then related the story of the quarrel with Mr. Faulkner, of hearing the gun fired, of running in and finding the body, and of his pursuit of the murderer.
"We could prevent it somehow or other. We could get up a tale that he was an English sailor we had picked up at sea, and hand him over to the authorities, and tell them his story was, that he had fallen overboard from an English ship of war. Then they would send him away to some place in the interior where they keep English prisoners of war, and there he might lie for years; perhaps never get back again. He does not know a word of French, as you saw when you spoke to him, so he can't contradict any story we may tell, and if by chance any questions should be asked, I can just say what suits us."
Frank, however, could not deny that he felt very stiff after his journey, and was not sorry to retire to bed as soon as he had eaten his supper. There were few men in the army who had seen so much and such varied service as Colonel Sir Robert Wilson. Joining the army in 1793, he served through the campaigns of Flanders and Holland. In 1797, having attained the rank of captain, he was detached from his regiment and served on Major-general St. John's staff during the rebellion in Ireland. Two years later he rejoined his regiment and proceeded to the Helder, and was engaged in all the battles that took place during that campaign. On the Convention being signed he purchased a majority in one of the regiments of German Hussars in our service. He was then sent on a mission to Vienna, and having fulfilled this, went down through Italy to Malta, where he expected to find his regiment, which formed part of General Abercrombie's command. He joined it before it landed in Egypt, and served through the campaign there. He then purchased his lieutenant-colonelcy, and exchanged into the 20th Light Dragoons. He was with that portion of his regiment which formed part of Sir David Baird's division, and sailed first to the Brazils and then to the Cape of Good Hope, which possession it wrested from the Dutch.
"The most active chap about here," Bill said after he had hauled his nets, and the boat was making her way back to Weymouth, "is that Faulkner. He is a bitter bad one, he is. Most of the magistrates about here don't trouble their heads about smuggling, and if they find a keg of first class brandy quite accidental any morning on their doorstep, they don't ask where it comes from, but just put it down into their cellars. Sometimes information gets sworn before them, and they has to let the revenue people know, but somehow or other, I can't say how it is," and the fisherman gave a portentous wink, "our fellows generally get some sort of an idea that things ain't right, and the landing don't come off as expected; queer, ain't it? But that fellow Faulkner, he ain't like that. He worries hisself about the smugglers just about as much as Captain Downes does. He is just as hard on smugglers as he is on poachers, and he is wonderful down on them, he is. Do you know him, sir?"
After this Julian went on more than one occasion with Bill and other fishermen to look on at the landing of contraband cargoes. If the distance was within a walk they would start from Weymouth straight inland, and come down by the road along which the carts were to fetch the goods up, for it was only occasionally that the fishermen would take their boats. At Lulworth, of course, there had been no risk in their doing so, as boats, when fishing to the east, would often make their way into the cove and drop anchor there for a few hours. But when the run was to be made at lonely spots, the sight of fishing boats making in to anchor would have excited the suspicions of the coast-guard on the cliffs. The number of fishermen who took part in the smugglers' proceedings was but small. All of these had either brothers or other relations on board the luggers, or were connected with some of the smugglers' confederates on shore. They received a handsome sum for their night's work, which was at times very hard, as the kegs had often to be carried up steep and dangerous paths to the top of the cliffs, and then a considerable distance across the downs to the nearest points the carts could come to.