User Tools

Site Tools


the_adventures_of_gerard

Differences

This shows you the differences between two versions of the page.

Link to this comparison view

the_adventures_of_gerard [2020/02/07 23:16] (current)
briancarnell created
Line 1: Line 1:
 +<​html>​
 +    <h1>
 +      THE ADVENTURES OF GERARD
 +    </h1>
 +    <p>
 +      <br />
 +    </p>
 +    <h2>
 +      By A. Conan Doyle
 +    </h2>
 +    <p>
 +      <br />
 +    </p>
 +<pre xml:​space="​preserve">​
 +         &​ldquo;​Il etait brave mais avec cette graine de folie dans sa
 +         ​bravoure que les Francais aiment.&​rdquo;​
  
 +         ​FRENCH BIOGRAPHY.
 +    </​pre>​
 +    <p>
 +      <br /> <br />
 +    </p>
 +    <hr />
 +    <p>
 +      <br /> <br /> <a name="​link2H_PREF"​ id="​link2H_PREF">​
 +      <​!-- ​ H2 anchor --> </a>
 +    </p>
 +    <h2>
 +      PREFACE
 +    </h2>
 +    <p>
 +      I hope that some readers may possibly be interested in these little tales
 +      of the Napoleonic soldiers to the extent of following them up to the
 +      springs from which they flow. The age was rich in military material, some
 +      of it the most human and the most picturesque that I have ever read.
 +      Setting aside historical works or the biographies of the leaders there is
 +      a mass of evidence written by the actual fighting men themselves, which
 +      describes their feelings and their experiences,​ stated always from the
 +      point of view of the particular branch of the service to which they
 +      belonged. The Cavalry were particularly happy in their writers of memoirs.
 +      Thus De Rocca in his &​ldquo;​Memoires sur la guerre des Francais en Espagne&​rdquo;​ has
 +      given the narrative of a Hussar, while De Naylies in his &​ldquo;​Memoires sur la
 +      guerre d'​Espagne&​rdquo;​ gives the same campaigns from the point of view of the
 +      Dragoon. Then we have the &​ldquo;​Souvenirs Militaires du Colonel de Gonneville,&​rdquo;​
 +       which treats a series of wars, including that of Spain, as seen from under
 +      the steel-brimmed hair-crested helmet of a Cuirassier. Pre-eminent among
 +      all these works, and among all military memoirs, are the famous
 +      reminiscences of Marbot, which can be obtained in an English form. Marbot
 +      was a Chasseur, so again we obtain the Cavalry point of view. Among other
 +      books which help one to an understanding of the Napoleonic soldier I would
 +      specially recommend &​ldquo;​Les Cahiers du Capitaine Coignet,&​rdquo;​ which treat the
 +      wars from the point of view of the private of the Guards, and &​ldquo;​Les
 +      Memoires du Sergeant Bourgoyne,&​rdquo;​ who was a non-commissioned officer in the
 +      same corps. The Journal of Sergeant Fricasse and the Recollections of de
 +      Fezenac and of de Segur complete the materials from which I have worked in
 +      my endeavour to give a true historical and military atmosphere to an
 +      imaginary figure.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      March, 1903.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      <br /> <br />
 +    </p>
 +    <hr />
 +    <p>
 +      <br /> <br />
 +    </p>
 +    <h3>
 +      Contents
 +    </h3>
 +    <table summary="">​
 +      <tr>
 +        <td>
 +          <p class="​toc">​
 +            <a href="#​link2H_PREF">​ PREFACE </a>
 +          </p>
 +          <br />
 +          <p class="​toc">​
 +            <a href="#​link2H_4_0002">​ I. How Brigadier Gerard Lost His Ear </a>
 +          </p>
 +          <p class="​toc">​
 +            <a href="#​link2H_4_0003">​ II. How the Brigadier Captured Saragossa
 +            </a>
 +          </p>
 +          <p class="​toc">​
 +            <a href="#​link2H_4_0004">​ III. How the Brigadier Slew the Fox [*]
 +            </a>
 +          </p>
 +          <p class="​toc">​
 +            <a href="#​link2H_4_0005">​ IV. How the Brigadier Saved the Army </a>
 +          </p>
 +          <p class="​toc">​
 +            <a href="#​link2H_4_0006">​ V. How the Brigadier Triumphed in England
 +            </a>
 +          </p>
 +          <p class="​toc">​
 +            <a href="#​link2H_4_0007">​ VI. How the Brigadier Rode to Minsk </a>
 +          </p>
 +          <p class="​toc">​
 +            <a href="#​link2H_4_0008">​ VII. How the Brigadier Bore Himself at
 +            Waterloo </a>
 +          </p>
 +          <p class="​toc">​
 +            <a href="#​link2H_4_0009">​ VIII. The Last Adventure of the Brigadier
 +            </a>
 +          </p>
 +        </td>
 +      </tr>
 +    </​table>​
 +    <p>
 +      <br /> <br />
 +    </p>
 +    <hr />
 +    <p>
 +      <br /> <br /> <a name="​link2H_4_0002"​ id="​link2H_4_0002">​
 +      <​!-- ​ H2 anchor --> </a>
 +    </p>
 +    <h2>
 +      I. How Brigadier Gerard Lost His Ear
 +    </h2>
 +    <p>
 +      It was the old Brigadier who was talking in the cafe.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      I have seen a great many cities, my friends. I would not dare to tell you
 +      how many I have entered as a conqueror with eight hundred of my little
 +      fighting devils clanking and jingling behind me. The cavalry were in front
 +      of the Grande Armee, and the Hussars of Conflans were in front of the
 +      cavalry, and I was in front of the Hussars. But of all the cities which we
 +      visited Venice is the most ill-built and ridiculous. I cannot imagine how
 +      the people who laid it out thought that the cavalry could manoeuvre. It
 +      would puzzle Murat or Lassalle to bring a squadron into that square of
 +      theirs. For this reason we left Kellermann'​s heavy brigade and also my own
 +      Hussars at Padua on the mainland. But Suchet with the infantry held the
 +      town, and he had chosen me as his aide-de-camp for that winter, because he
 +      was pleased about the affair of the Italian fencing-master at Milan. The
 +      fellow was a good swordsman, and it was fortunate for the credit of French
 +      arms that it was I who was opposed to him. Besides, he deserved a lesson,
 +      for if one does not like a prima donna'​s singing one can always be silent,
 +      but it is intolerable that a public affront should be put upon a pretty
 +      woman. So the sympathy was all with me, and after the affair had blown
 +      over and the man's widow had been pensioned Suchet chose me as his own
 +      galloper, and I followed him to Venice, where I had the strange adventure
 +      which I am about to tell you.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      You have not been to Venice? No, for it is seldom that the French travel.
 +      We were great travellers in those days. From Moscow to Cairo we had
 +      travelled everywhere, but we went in larger parties than were convenient
 +      to those whom we visited, and we carried our passports in our limbers. It
 +      will be a bad day for Europe when the French start travelling again, for
 +      they are slow to leave their homes, but when they have done so no one can
 +      say how far they will go if they have a guide like our little man to point
 +      out the way. But the great days are gone and the great men are dead, and
 +      here am I, the last of them, drinking wine of Suresnes and telling old
 +      tales in a cafe.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      But it is of Venice that I would speak. The folk there live like
 +      water-rats upon a mud-bank, but the houses are very fine, and the
 +      churches, especially that of St. Mark, are as great as any I have seen.
 +      But above all they are proud of their statues and their pictures, which
 +      are the most famous in Europe. There are many soldiers who think that
 +      because one's trade is to make war one should never have a thought above
 +      fighting and plunder. There was old Bouvet, for example&​mdash;​the one who
 +      was killed by the Prussians on the day that I won the Emperor'​s medal; if
 +      you took him away from the camp and the canteen, and spoke to him of books
 +      or of art, he would sit and stare at you. But the highest soldier is a man
 +      like myself who can understand the things of the mind and the soul. It is
 +      true that I was very young when I joined the army, and that the
 +      quarter-master was my only teacher, but if you go about the world with
 +      your eyes open you cannot help learning a great deal.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Thus I was able to admire the pictures in Venice, and to know the names of
 +      the great men, Michael Titiens, and Angelus, and the others, who had
 +      painted them. No one can say that Napoleon did not admire them also, for
 +      the very first thing which he did when he captured the town was to send
 +      the best of them to Paris. We all took what we could get, and I had two
 +      pictures for my share.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      One of them, called &​ldquo;​Nymphs Surprised,&​rdquo;​ I kept for myself, and the other,
 +      &​ldquo;​Saint Barbara,&​rdquo;​ I sent as a present for my mother.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      It must be confessed, however, that some of our men behaved very badly in
 +      this matter of the statues and the pictures. The people at Venice were
 +      very much attached to them, and as to the four bronze horses which stood
 +      over the gate of their great church, they loved them as dearly as if they
 +      had been their children. I have always been a judge of a horse, and I had
 +      a good look at these ones, but I could not see that there was much to be
 +      said for them. They were too coarse-limbed for light cavalry charges and
 +      they had not the weight for the gun-teams.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      However, they were the only four horses, alive or dead, in the whole town,
 +      so it was not to be expected that the people would know any better. They
 +      wept bitterly when they were sent away, and ten French soldiers were found
 +      floating in the canals that night. As a punishment for these murders a
 +      great many more of their pictures were sent away, and the soldiers took to
 +      breaking the statues and firing their muskets at the stained-glass
 +      windows.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      This made the people furious, and there was very bad feeling in the town.
 +      Many officers and men disappeared during that winter, and even their
 +      bodies were never found.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      For myself I had plenty to do, and I never found the time heavy on my
 +      hands. In every country it has been my custom to try to learn the
 +      language. For this reason I always look round for some lady who will be
 +      kind enough to teach it to me, and then we practise it together. This is
 +      the most interesting way of picking it up, and before I was thirty I could
 +      speak nearly every tongue in Europe; but it must be confessed that what
 +      you learn is not of much use for the ordinary purposes of life. My
 +      business, for example, has usually been with soldiers and peasants, and
 +      what advantage is it to be able to say to them that I love only them, and
 +      that I will come back when the wars are over?
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Never have I had so sweet a teacher as in Venice. Lucia was her first
 +      name, and her second&​mdash;​but a gentleman forgets second names. I can say
 +      this with all discretion, that she was of one of the senatorial families
 +      of Venice and that her grandfather had been Doge of the town.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      She was of an exquisite beauty&​mdash;​and when I, Etienne Gerard, use such
 +      a word as &​ldquo;​exquisite,&​rdquo;​ my friends, it has a meaning. I have judgment, I
 +      have memories, I have the means of comparison. Of all the women who have
 +      loved me there are not twenty to whom I could apply such a term as that.
 +      But I say again that Lucia was exquisite.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Of the dark type I do not recall her equal unless it were Dolores of
 +      Toledo. There was a little brunette whom I loved at Santarem when I was
 +      soldiering under Massena in Portugal&​mdash;​her name has escaped me. She
 +      was of a perfect beauty, but she had not the figure nor the grace of
 +      Lucia. There was Agnes also. I could not put one before the other, but I
 +      do none an injustice when I say that Lucia was the equal of the best.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      It was over this matter of pictures that I had first met her, for her
 +      father owned a palace on the farther side of the Rialto Bridge upon the
 +      Grand Canal, and it was so packed with wall-paintings that Suchet sent a
 +      party of sappers to cut some of them out and send them to Paris.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      I had gone down with them, and after I had seen Lucia in tears it appeared
 +      to me that the plaster would crack if it were taken from the support of
 +      the wall. I said so, and the sappers were withdrawn. After that I was the
 +      friend of the family, and many a flask of Chianti have I cracked with the
 +      father and many a sweet lesson have I had from the daughter. Some of our
 +      French officers married in Venice that winter, and I might have done the
 +      same, for I loved her with all my heart; but Etienne Gerard has his sword,
 +      his horse, his regiment, his mother, his Emperor, and his career. A
 +      debonair Hussar has room in his life for love, but none for a wife. So I
 +      thought then, my friends, but I did not see the lonely days when I should
 +      long to clasp those vanished hands, and turn my head away when I saw old
 +      comrades with their tall children standing round their chairs. This love
 +      which I had thought was a joke and a plaything&​mdash;​it is only now that I
 +      understand that it is the moulder of one's life, the most solemn and
 +      sacred of all things&​mdash;​Thank you, my friend, thank you! It is a good
 +      wine, and a second bottle cannot hurt.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      And now I will tell you how my love for Lucia was the cause of one of the
 +      most terrible of all the wonderful adventures which have ever befallen me,
 +      and how it was that I came to lose the top of my right ear. You have often
 +      asked me why it was missing. To-night for the first time I will tell you.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Suchet'​s head-quarters at that time was the old palace of the Doge
 +      Dandolo, which stands on the lagoon not far from the place of San Marco.
 +      It was near the end of the winter, and I had returned one night from the
 +      Theatre Goldini, when I found a note from Lucia and a gondola waiting. She
 +      prayed me to come to her at once as she was in trouble. To a Frenchman and
 +      a soldier there was but one answer to such a note. In an instant I was in
 +      the boat and the gondolier was pushing out into the dark lagoon.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      I remember that as I took my seat in the boat I was struck by the man's
 +      great size. He was not tall, but he was one of the broadest men that I
 +      have ever seen in my life. But the gondoliers of Venice are a strong
 +      breed, and powerful men are common enough among them. The fellow took his
 +      place behind me and began to row.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      A good soldier in an enemy'​s country should everywhere and at all times be
 +      on the alert. It has been one of the rules of my life, and if I have lived
 +      to wear grey hairs it is because I have observed it. And yet upon that
 +      night I was as careless as a foolish young recruit who fears lest he
 +      should be thought to be afraid. My pistols I had left behind in my hurry.
 +      My sword was at my belt, but it is not always the most convenient of
 +      weapons. I lay back in my seat in the gondola, lulled by the gentle swish
 +      of the water and the steady creaking of the oar. Our way lay through a
 +      network of narrow canals with high houses towering on either side and a
 +      thin slit of star-spangled sky above us. Here and there, on the bridges
 +      which spanned the canal, there was the dim glimmer of an oil lamp, and
 +      sometimes there came a gleam from some niche where a candle burned before
 +      the image of a saint. But save for this it was all black, and one could
 +      only see the water by the white fringe which curled round the long black
 +      nose of our boat. It was a place and a time for dreaming. I thought of my
 +      own past life, of all the great deeds in which I had been concerned, of
 +      the horses that I had handled, and of the women that I had loved. Then I
 +      thought also of my dear mother, and I fancied her joy when she heard the
 +      folk in the village talking about the fame of her son. Of the Emperor also
 +      I thought, and of France, the dear fatherland, the sunny France, mother of
 +      beautiful daughters and of gallant sons. My heart glowed within me as I
 +      thought of how we had brought her colours so many hundred leagues beyond
 +      her borders. To her greatness I would dedicate my life. I placed my hand
 +      upon my heart as I swore it, and at that instant the gondolier fell upon
 +      me from behind.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      When I say that he fell upon me I do not mean merely that he attacked me,
 +      but that he really did tumble upon me with all his weight. The fellow
 +      stands behind you and above you as he rows, so that you can neither see
 +      him nor can you in any way guard against such an assault.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      One moment I had sat with my mind filled with sublime resolutions,​ the
 +      next I was flattened out upon the bottom of the boat, the breath dashed
 +      out of my body, and this monster pinning me down. I felt the fierce pants
 +      of his hot breath upon the back of my neck. In an instant he had torn away
 +      my sword, had slipped a sack over my head, and had tied a rope firmly
 +      round the outside of it.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      There I was at the bottom of the gondola as helpless as a trussed fowl. I
 +      could not shout, I could not move; I was a mere bundle. An instant later I
 +      heard once more the swishing of the water and the creaking of the oar.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      This fellow had done his work and had resumed his journey as quietly and
 +      unconcernedly as if he were accustomed to clap a sack over a colonel of
 +      Hussars every day of the week.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      I cannot tell you the humiliation and also the fury which filled my mind
 +      as I lay there like a helpless sheep being carried to the butcher'​s. I,
 +      Etienne Gerard, the champion of the six brigades of light cavalry and the
 +      first swordsman of the Grand Army, to be overpowered by a single unarmed
 +      man in such a fashion! Yet I lay quiet, for there is a time to resist and
 +      there is a time to save one's strength. I had felt the fellow'​s grip upon
 +      my arms, and I knew that I would be a child in his hands. I waited
 +      quietly, therefore, with a heart which burned with rage, until my
 +      opportunity should come.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      How long I lay there at the bottom of the boat I can not tell; but it
 +      seemed to me to be a long time, and always there were the hiss of the
 +      waters and the steady creaking of the oar. Several times we turned
 +      corners, for I heard the long, sad cry which these gondoliers give when
 +      they wish to warn their fellows that they are coming. At last, after a
 +      considerable journey, I felt the side of the boat scrape up against a
 +      landing-place. The fellow knocked three times with his oar upon wood, and
 +      in answer to his summons I heard the rasping of bars and the turning of
 +      keys. A great door creaked back upon its hinges.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Have you got him?&​rdquo;​ asked a voice, in Italian.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      My monster gave a laugh and kicked the sack in which I lay.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Here he is,&​rdquo;​ said he.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​They are waiting.&​rdquo;​ He added something which I could not understand.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Take him, then,&​rdquo;​ said my captor. He raised me in his arms, ascended some
 +      steps, and I was thrown down upon a hard floor. A moment later the bars
 +      creaked and the key whined once more. I was a prisoner inside a house.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      From the voices and the steps there seemed now to be several people round
 +      me. I understand Italian a great deal better than I speak it, and I could
 +      make out very well what they were saying.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​You have not killed him, Matteo?&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​What matter if I have?&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​My faith, you will have to answer for it to the tribunal.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​They will kill him, will they not?&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Yes,​ but it is not for you or me to take it out of their hands.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Tut! I have not killed him. Dead men do not bite, and his cursed teeth
 +      met in my thumb as I pulled the sack over his head.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​He lies very quiet.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Tumble him out and you will find that he is lively enough.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      The cord which bound me was undone and the sack drawn from over my head.
 +      With my eyes closed I lay motionless upon the floor.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​By the saints, Matteo, I tell you that you have broken his neck.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Not I. He has only fainted. The better for him if he never came out of it
 +      again.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      I felt a hand within my tunic.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Matteo is right,&​rdquo;​ said a voice. &​ldquo;​His heart beats like a hammer. Let him
 +      lie and he will soon find his senses.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      I waited for a minute or so and then I ventured to take a stealthy peep
 +      from between my lashes. At first I could see nothing, for I had been so
 +      long in darkness and it was but a dim light in which I found myself. Soon,
 +      however, I made out that a high and vaulted ceiling covered with painted
 +      gods and goddesses was arching over my head. This was no mean den of
 +      cut-throats into which I had been carried, but it must be the hall of some
 +      Venetian palace. Then, without movement, very slowly and stealthily I had
 +      a peep at the men who surrounded me. There was the gondolier, a swart,
 +      hard-faced, murderous ruffian, and beside him were three other men, one of
 +      them a little, twisted fellow with an air of authority and several keys in
 +      his hand, the other two tall young servants in a smart livery. As I
 +      listened to their talk I saw that the small man was the steward of the
 +      house, and that the others were under his orders.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      There were four of them, then, but the little steward might be left out of
 +      the reckoning. Had I a weapon I should have smiled at such odds as those.
 +      But, hand to hand, I was no match for the one even without three others to
 +      aid him. Cunning, then, not force, must be my aid. I wished to look round
 +      for some mode of escape, and in doing so I gave an almost imperceptible
 +      movement of my head. Slight as it was it did not escape my guardians.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Come,​ wake up, wake up!&​rdquo;​ cried the steward.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Get on your feet, little Frenchman,&​rdquo;​ growled the gondolier. &​ldquo;​Get up, I
 +      say,&​rdquo;​ and for the second time he spurned me with his foot.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Never in the world was a command obeyed so promptly as that one. In an
 +      instant I had bounded to my feet and rushed as hard as I could to the back
 +      of the hall. They were after me as I have seen the English hounds follow a
 +      fox, but there was a long passage down which I tore.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      It turned to the left and again to the left, and then I found myself back
 +      in the hall once more. They were almost within touch of me and there was
 +      no time for thought. I turned toward the staircase, but two men were
 +      coming down it. I dodged back and tried the door through which I had been
 +      brought, but it was fastened with great bars and I could not loosen them.
 +      The gondolier was on me with his knife, but I met him with a kick on the
 +      body which stretched him on his back. His dagger flew with a clatter
 +      across the marble floor. I had no time to seize it, for there were half a
 +      dozen of them now clutching at me. As I rushed through them the little
 +      steward thrust his leg before me and I fell with a crash, but I was up in
 +      an instant, and breaking from their grasp I burst through the very middle
 +      of them and made for a door at the other end of the hall. I reached it
 +      well in front of them, and I gave a shout of triumph as the handle turned
 +      freely in my hand, for I could see that it led to the outside and that all
 +      was clear for my escape. But I had forgotten this strange city in which I
 +      was. Every house is an island. As I flung open the door, ready to bound
 +      out into the street, the light of the hall shone upon the deep, still,
 +      black water which lay flush with the topmost step.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      I shrank back, and in an instant my pursuers were on me.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      But I am not taken so easily. Again I kicked and fought my way through
 +      them, though one of them tore a handful of hair from my head in his effort
 +      to hold me. The little steward struck me with a key and I was battered and
 +      bruised, but once more I cleared a way in front of me.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Up the grand staircase I rushed, burst open the pair of huge folding doors
 +      which faced me, and learned at last that my efforts were in vain.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      The room into which I had broken was brilliantly lighted. With its gold
 +      cornices, its massive pillars, and its painted walls and ceilings it was
 +      evidently the grand hall of some famous Venetian palace. There are many
 +      hundred such in this strange city, any one of which has rooms which would
 +      grace the Louvre or Versailles. In the centre of this great hall there was
 +      a raised dais, and upon it in a half circle there sat twelve men all clad
 +      in black gowns, like those of a Franciscan monk, and each with a mask over
 +      the upper part of his face.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      A group of armed men&​mdash;​rough-looking rascals&​mdash;​were standing round
 +      the door, and amid them facing the dais was a young fellow in the uniform
 +      of the light infantry. As he turned his head I recognised him. It was
 +      Captain Auret, of the 7th, a young Basque with whom I had drunk many a
 +      glass during the winter.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      He was deadly white, poor wretch, but he held himself manfully amid the
 +      assassins who surrounded him. Never shall I forget the sudden flash of
 +      hope which shone in his dark eyes when he saw a comrade burst into the
 +      room, or the look of despair which followed as he understood that I had
 +      come not to change his fate but to share it.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      You can think how amazed these people were when I hurled myself into their
 +      presence. My pursuers had crowded in behind me and choked the doorway, so
 +      that all further flight was out of the question. It is at such instants
 +      that my nature asserts itself. With dignity I advanced toward the
 +      tribunal. My jacket was torn, my hair was dishevelled,​ my head was
 +      bleeding, but there was that in my eyes and in my carriage which made them
 +      realise that no common man was before them. Not a hand was raised to
 +      arrest me until I halted in front of a formidable old man, whose long grey
 +      beard and masterful manner told me that both by years and by character he
 +      was the man in authority.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Sir,&​rdquo;​ said I, &​ldquo;​you will, perhaps, tell me why I have been forcibly
 +      arrested and brought to this place. I am an honourable soldier, as is this
 +      other gentleman here, and I demand that you will instantly set us both at
 +      liberty.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      There was an appalling silence to my appeal. It was not pleasant to have
 +      twelve masked faces turned upon you and to see twelve pairs of vindictive
 +      Italian eyes fixed with fierce intentness upon your face. But I stood as a
 +      debonair soldier should, and I could not but reflect how much credit I was
 +      bringing upon the Hussars of Conflans by the dignity of my bearing. I do
 +      not think that anyone could have carried himself better under such
 +      difficult circumstances. I looked with a fearless face from one assassin
 +      to another, and I waited for some reply.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      It was the grey-beard who at last broke the silence.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Who is this man?&​rdquo;​ he asked.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​His name is Gerard,&​rdquo;​ said the little steward at the door.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Colonel Gerard,&​rdquo;​ said I. &​ldquo;​I will not deceive you. I am Etienne Gerard,
 +      THE Colonel Gerard, five times mentioned in despatches and recommended for
 +      the sword of honour. I am aide-de-camp to General Suchet, and I demand my
 +      instant release, together with that of my comrade in arms.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      The same terrible silence fell upon the assembly, and the same twelve
 +      pairs of merciless eyes were bent upon my face. Again it was the
 +      grey-beard who spoke.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​He is out of his order. There are two names upon our list before him.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​He escaped from our hands and burst into the room.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Let him await his turn. Take him down to the wooden cell.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​If he resist us, your Excellency?&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Bury your knives in his body. The tribunal will uphold you. Remove him
 +      until we have dealt with the others.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      They advanced upon me, and for an instant I thought of resistance. It
 +      would have been a heroic death, but who was there to see it or to
 +      chronicle it? I might be only postponing my fate, and yet I had been in so
 +      many bad places and come out unhurt that I had learned always to hope and
 +      to trust my star. I allowed these rascals to seize me, and I was led from
 +      the room, the gondolier walking at my side with a long naked knife in his
 +      hand. I could see in his brutal eyes the satisfaction which it would give
 +      him if he could find some excuse for plunging it into my body.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      They are wonderful places, these great Venetian houses, palaces, and
 +      fortresses, and prisons all in one. I was led along a passage and down a
 +      bare stone stair until we came to a short corridor from which three doors
 +      opened. Through one of these I was thrust and the spring lock closed
 +      behind me. The only light came dimly through a small grating which opened
 +      on the passage.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Peering and feeling, I carefully examined the chamber in which I had been
 +      placed. I understood from what I had heard that I should soon have to
 +      leave it again in order to appear before this tribunal, but still it is
 +      not my nature to throw away any possible chances.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      The stone floor of the cell was so damp and the walls for some feet high
 +      were so slimy and foul that it was evident they were beneath the level of
 +      the water. A single slanting hole high up near the ceiling was the only
 +      aperture for light or air. Through it I saw one bright star shining down
 +      upon me, and the sight filled me with comfort and with hope. I have never
 +      been a man of religion, though I have always had a respect for those who
 +      were, but I remember that night that the star shining down the shaft
 +      seemed to be an all-seeing eye which was upon me, and I felt as a young
 +      and frightened recruit might feel in battle when he saw the calm gaze of
 +      his colonel turned upon him.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Three of the sides of my prison were formed of stone, but the fourth was
 +      of wood, and I could see that it had only recently been erected. Evidently
 +      a partition had been thrown up to divide a single large cell into two
 +      smaller ones. There was no hope for me in the old walls, in the tiny
 +      window, or in the massive door. It was only in this one direction of the
 +      wooden screen that there was any possibility of exploring. My reason told
 +      me that if I should pierce it&​mdash;​which did not seem very difficult&​mdash;​it
 +      would only be to find myself in another cell as strong as that in which I
 +      then was. Yet I had always rather be doing something than doing nothing,
 +      so I bent all my attention and all my energies upon the wooden wall. Two
 +      planks were badly joined, and so loose that I was certain I could easily
 +      detach them. I searched about for some tool, and I found one in the leg of
 +      a small bed which stood in the corner. I forced the end of this into the
 +      chink of the planks, and I was about to twist them outward when the sound
 +      of rapid footsteps caused me to pause and to listen.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      I wish I could forget what I heard. Many a hundred men have I seen die in
 +      battle, and I have slain more myself than I care to think of, but all that
 +      was fair fight and the duty of a soldier. It was a very different matter
 +      to listen to a murder in this den of assassins. They were pushing someone
 +      along the passage, someone who resisted and who clung to my door as he
 +      passed. They must have taken him into the third cell, the one which was
 +      farthest from me. &​ldquo;​Help! Help!&​rdquo;​ cried a voice, and then I heard a blow and
 +      a scream. &​ldquo;​Help! Help!&​rdquo;​ cried the voice again, and then &​ldquo;​Gerard! Colonel
 +      Gerard!&​rdquo;​ It was my poor captain of infantry whom they were slaughtering.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Murderers! Murderers!&​rdquo;​ I yelled, and I kicked at my door, but again I
 +      heard him shout and then everything was silent. A minute later there was a
 +      heavy splash, and I knew that no human eye would ever see Auret again. He
 +      had gone as a hundred others had gone whose names were missing from the
 +      roll-calls of their regiments during that winter in Venice.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      The steps returned along the passage, and I thought that they were coming
 +      for me. Instead of that they opened the door of the cell next to mine and
 +      they took someone out of it. I heard the steps die away up the stair.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      At once I renewed my work upon the planks, and within a very few minutes I
 +      had loosened them in such a way that I could remove and replace them at
 +      pleasure. Passing through the aperture I found myself in the farther cell,
 +      which, as I expected, was the other half of the one in which I had been
 +      confined. I was not any nearer to escape than I had been before, for there
 +      was no other wooden wall which I could penetrate and the spring lock of
 +      the door had been closed. There were no traces to show who was my
 +      companion in misfortune. Closing the two loose planks behind me I returned
 +      to my own cell and waited there with all the courage which I could command
 +      for the summons which would probably be my death knell.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      It was a long time in coming, but at last I heard the sound of feet once
 +      more in the passage, and I nerved myself to listen to some other odious
 +      deed and to hear the cries of the poor victim. Nothing of the kind
 +      occurred, however, and the prisoner was placed in the cell without
 +      violence. I had no time to peep through my hole of communication,​ for next
 +      moment my own door was flung open and my rascally gondolier, with the
 +      other assassins, came into the cell.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Come,​ Frenchman,&​rdquo;​ said he. He held his blood-stained knife in his great,
 +      hairy hand, and I read in his fierce eyes that he only looked for some
 +      excuse in order to plunge it into my heart. Resistance was useless. I
 +      followed without a word. I was led up the stone stair and back into that
 +      gorgeous chamber in which I had left the secret tribunal. I was ushered
 +      in, but to my surprise it was not on me that their attention was fixed.
 +      One of their own number, a tall, dark young man, was standing before them
 +      and was pleading with them in low, earnest tones. His voice quivered with
 +      anxiety and his hands darted in and out or writhed together in an agony of
 +      entreaty. &​ldquo;​You cannot do it! You cannot do it!&​rdquo;​ he cried.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​I implore the tribunal to reconsider this decision.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Stand aside, brother,&​rdquo;​ said the old man who presided.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​The case is decided and another is up for judgment.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​For Heaven'​s sake be merciful!&​rdquo;​ cried the young man.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​We have already been merciful,&​rdquo;​ the other answered.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Death would have been a small penalty for such an offence. Be silent and
 +      let judgment take its course.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      I saw the young man throw himself in an agony of grief into his chair. I
 +      had no time, however, to speculate as to what it was which was troubling
 +      him, for his eleven colleagues had already fixed their stern eyes upon me.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      The moment of fate had arrived.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​You are Colonel Gerard?&​rdquo;​ said the terrible old man.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​I am.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Aide-de-camp to the robber who calls himself General Suchet, who in turn
 +      represents that arch-robber Buonaparte?&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      It was on my lips to tell him that he was a liar, but there is a time to
 +      argue and a time to be silent.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​I am an honourable soldier,&​rdquo;​ said I. &​ldquo;​I have obeyed my orders and done my
 +      duty.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      The blood flushed into the old man's face and his eyes blazed through his
 +      mask.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​You are thieves and murderers, every man of you,&​rdquo;​ he cried. &​ldquo;​What are you
 +      doing here? You are Frenchmen. Why are you not in France? Did we invite
 +      you to Venice? By what right are you here? Where are our pictures? Where
 +      are the horses of St. Mark? Who are you that you should pilfer those
 +      treasures which our fathers through so many centuries have collected? We
 +      were a great city when France was a desert. Your drunken, brawling,
 +      ignorant soldiers have undone the work of saints and heroes. What have you
 +      to say to it?&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      He was, indeed, a formidable old man, for his white beard bristled with
 +      fury and he barked out the little sentences like a savage hound. For my
 +      part I could have told him that his pictures would be safe in Paris, that
 +      his horses were really not worth making a fuss about, and that he could
 +      see heroes&​mdash;​I say nothing of saints&​mdash;​without going back to his
 +      ancestors or even moving out of his chair. All this I could have pointed
 +      out, but one might as well argue with a Mameluke about religion. I
 +      shrugged my shoulders and said nothing.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​The prisoner has no defence,&​rdquo;​ said one of my masked judges.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Has any one any observation to make before judgment is passed?&​rdquo;​ The old
 +      man glared round him at the others.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​There is one matter, your Excellency,&​rdquo;​ said another.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​It can scarce be referred to without reopening a brother'​s wounds, but I
 +      would remind you that there is a very particular reason why an exemplary
 +      punishment should be inflicted in the case of this officer.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​I had not forgotten it,&​rdquo;​ the old man answered.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Brother,​ if the tribunal has injured you in one direction, it will give
 +      you ample satisfaction in another.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      The young man who had been pleading when I entered the room staggered to
 +      his feet.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​I cannot endure it,&​rdquo;​ he cried. &​ldquo;​Your Excellency must forgive me. The
 +      tribunal can act without me. I am ill. I am mad.&​rdquo;​ He flung his hands out
 +      with a furious gesture and rushed from the room.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Let him go! Let him go!&​rdquo;​ said the president. &​ldquo;​It is, indeed, more than
 +      can be asked of flesh and blood that he should remain under this roof. But
 +      he is a true Venetian, and when the first agony is over he will understand
 +      that it could not be otherwise.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      I had been forgotten during this episode, and though I am not a man who is
 +      accustomed to being overlooked I should have been all the happier had they
 +      continued to neglect me. But now the old president glared at me again like
 +      a tiger who comes back to his victim.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​You shall pay for it all, and it is but justice that you should,&​rdquo;​ he
 +      said. &​ldquo;​You,​ an upstart adventurer and foreigner, have dared to raise your
 +      eyes in love to the grand daughter of a Doge of Venice who was already
 +      betrothed to the heir of the Loredans. He who enjoys such privileges must
 +      pay a price for them.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​It cannot be higher than they are worth,&​rdquo;​ said I.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​You will tell us that when you have made a part payment,&​rdquo;​ said he.
 +      &​ldquo;​Perhaps your spirit may not be so proud by that time. Matteo, you will
 +      lead this prisoner to the wooden cell. To-night is Monday. Let him have no
 +      food or water, and let him be led before the tribunal again on Wednesday
 +      night. We shall then decide upon the death which he is to die.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      It was not a pleasant prospect, and yet it was a reprieve. One is thankful
 +      for small mercies when a hairy savage with a blood-stained knife is
 +      standing at one's elbow. He dragged me from the room and I was thrust down
 +      the stairs and back into my cell. The door was locked and I was left to my
 +      reflections.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      My first thought was to establish connection with my neighbour in
 +      misfortune. I waited until the steps had died away, and then I cautiously
 +      drew aside the two boards and peeped through. The light was very dim, so
 +      dim that I could only just discern a figure huddled in the corner, and I
 +      could hear the low whisper of a voice which prayed as one prays who is in
 +      deadly fear. The boards must have made a creaking. There was a sharp
 +      exclamation of surprise.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Courage,​ friend, courage!&​rdquo;​ I cried. &​ldquo;​All is not lost. Keep a stout heart,
 +      for Etienne Gerard is by your side.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Etienne!&​rdquo;​ It was a woman'​s voice which spoke&​mdash;​a voice which was
 +      always music to my ears. I sprang through the gap and I flung my arms
 +      round her.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Lucia! Lucia!&​rdquo;​ I cried.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      It was &​ldquo;​Etienne!&​rdquo;​ and &​ldquo;​Lucia!&​rdquo;​ for some minutes, for one does not make
 +      speeches at moments like that. It was she who came to her senses first.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Oh,​ Etienne, they will kill you. How came you into their hands?&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​In answer to your letter.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​I wrote no letter.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​The cunning demons! But you?&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​I came also in answer to your letter.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Lucia,​ I wrote no letter.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​They have trapped us both with the same bait.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​I care nothing about myself, Lucia. Besides, there is no pressing danger
 +      with me. They have simply returned me to my cell.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Oh,​ Etienne, Etienne, they will kill you. Lorenzo is there.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​The old greybeard?&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​No,​ no, a young dark man. He loved me, and I thought I loved him until&​mdash;​until
 +      I learned what love is, Etienne. He will never forgive you. He has a heart
 +      of stone.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Let them do what they like. They cannot rob me of the past, Lucia. But
 +      you&​mdash;​what about you?&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​It will be nothing, Etienne. Only a pang for an instant and then all
 +      over. They mean it as a badge of infamy, dear, but I will carry it like a
 +      crown of honour since it was through you that I gained it.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      Her words froze my blood with horror. All my adventures were insignificant
 +      compared to this terrible shadow which was creeping over my soul.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Lucia! Lucia!&​rdquo;​ I cried. &​ldquo;​For pity's sake tell me what these butchers are
 +      about to do. Tell me, Lucia! Tell me!&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​I will not tell you, Etienne, for it would hurt you far more than it
 +      would me. Well, well, I will tell you lest you should fear it was
 +      something worse. The president has ordered that my ear be cut off, that I
 +      may be marked for ever as having loved a Frenchman.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      Her ear! The dear little ear which I had kissed so often. I put my hand to
 +      each little velvet shell to make certain that this sacrilege had not yet
 +      been committed.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Only over my dead body should they reach them. I swore it to her between
 +      my clenched teeth.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​You must not care, Etienne. And yet I love that you should care all the
 +      same.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​They shall not hurt you&​mdash;​the fiends!&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​I have hopes, Etienne. Lorenzo is there. He was silent while I was
 +      judged, but he may have pleaded for me after I was gone.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​He did. I heard him.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Then he may have softened their hearts.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      I knew that it was not so, but how could I bring myself to tell her? I
 +      might as well have done so, for with the quick instinct of woman my
 +      silence was speech to her.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​They would not listen to him! You need not fear to tell me, dear, for you
 +      will find that I am worthy to be loved by such a soldier. Where is Lorenzo
 +      now?&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​He left the hall.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Then he may have left the house as well.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​I believe that he did.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​He has abandoned me to my fate. Etienne, Etienne, they are coming!&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      Afar off I heard those fateful steps and the jingle of distant keys. What
 +      were they coming for now, since there were no other prisoners to drag to
 +      judgment? It could only be to carry out the sentence upon my darling.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      I stood between her and the door, with the strength of a lion in my limbs.
 +      I would tear the house down before they should touch her.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Go back! Go back!&​rdquo;​ she cried. &​ldquo;​They will murder you, Etienne. My life, at
 +      least, is safe. For the love you bear me, Etienne, go back. It is nothing.
 +      I will make no sound. You will not hear that it is done.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      She wrestled with me, this delicate creature, and by main force she
 +      dragged me to the opening between the cells. But a sudden thought had
 +      crossed my mind.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​We may yet be saved,&​rdquo;​ I whispered. &​ldquo;​Do what I tell you at once and
 +      without argument. Go into my cell. Quick!&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      I pushed her through the gap and helped her to replace the planks. I had
 +      retained her cloak in my hands, and with this wrapped round me I crept
 +      into the darkest corner of her cell. There I lay when the door was opened
 +      and several men came in. I had reckoned that they would bring no lantern,
 +      for they had none with them before.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      To their eyes I was only a dark blur in the corner.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Bring a light,&​rdquo;​ said one of them.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​No,​ no; curse it!&​rdquo;​ cried a rough voice, which I knew to be that of the
 +      ruffian, Matteo. &​ldquo;​It is not a job that I like, and the more I saw it the
 +      less I should like it. I am sorry, signora, but the order of the tribunal
 +      has to be obeyed.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      My impulse was to spring to my feet and to rush through them all and out
 +      by the open door. But how would that help Lucia? Suppose that I got clear
 +      away, she would be in their hands until I could come back with help, for
 +      single-handed I could not hope to clear a way for her. All this flashed
 +      through my mind in an instant, and I saw that the only course for me was
 +      to lie still, take what came, and wait my chance. The fellow'​s coarse hand
 +      felt about among my curls&​mdash;​those curls in which only a woman'​s
 +      fingers had ever wandered. The next instant he gripped my ear and a pain
 +      shot through me as if I had been touched with a hot iron. I bit my lip to
 +      stifle a cry, and I felt the blood run warm down my neck and back.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​There,​ thank Heaven, that's over,&​rdquo;​ said the fellow, giving me a friendly
 +      pat on the head. &​ldquo;​You'​re a brave girl, signora, I'll say that for you, and
 +      I only wish you'd have better taste than to love a Frenchman. You can
 +      blame him and not me for what I have done.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      What could I do save to lie still and grind my teeth at my own
 +      helplessness?​ At the same time my pain and my rage were always soothed by
 +      the reflection that I had suffered for the woman whom I loved. It is the
 +      custom of men to say to ladies that they would willingly endure any pain
 +      for their sake, but it was my privilege to show that I had said no more
 +      than I meant. I thought also how nobly I would seem to have acted if ever
 +      the story came to be told, and how proud the regiment of Conflans might
 +      well be of their colonel. These thoughts helped me to suffer in silence
 +      while the blood still trickled over my neck and dripped upon the stone
 +      floor. It was that sound which nearly led to my destruction.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​She'​s bleeding fast,&​rdquo;​ said one of the valets. &​ldquo;​You had best fetch a
 +      surgeon or you will find her dead in the morning.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​She lies very still and she has never opened her mouth,&​rdquo;​ said another.
 +      &​ldquo;​The shock has killed her.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Nonsense;​ a young woman does not die so easily.&​rdquo;​ It was Matteo who spoke.
 +      &​ldquo;​Besides,​ I did but snip off enough to leave the tribunal'​s mark upon her.
 +      Rouse up, signora, rouse up!&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      He shook me by the shoulder, and my heart stood still for fear he should
 +      feel the epaulet under the mantle.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​How is it with you now?&​rdquo;​ he asked.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      I made no answer.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Curse it, I wish I had to do with a man instead of a woman, and the
 +      fairest woman in Venice,&​rdquo;​ said the gondolier. &​ldquo;​Here,​ Nicholas, lend me
 +      your handkerchief and bring a light.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      It was all over. The worst had happened. Nothing could save me. I still
 +      crouched in the corner, but I was tense in every muscle, like a wild cat
 +      about to spring.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      If I had to die I was determined that my end should be worthy of my life.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      One of them had gone for a lamp and Matteo was stooping over me with a
 +      handkerchief. In another instant my secret would be discovered. But he
 +      suddenly drew himself straight and stood motionless. At the same instant
 +      there came a confused murmuring sound through the little window far above
 +      my head. It was the rattle of oars and the buzz of many voices. Then there
 +      was a crash upon the door upstairs, and a terrible voice roared: &​ldquo;​Open!
 +      Open in the name of the Emperor!&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      The Emperor! It was like the mention of some saint which, by its very
 +      sound, can frighten the demons.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Away they ran with cries of terror&​mdash;​Matteo,​ the valets, the steward,
 +      all of the murderous gang. Another shout and then the crash of a hatchet
 +      and the splintering of planks. There were the rattle of arms and the cries
 +      of French soldiers in the hall. Next instant feet came flying down the
 +      stair and a man burst frantically into my cell.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Lucia!&​rdquo;​ he cried, &​ldquo;​Lucia!&​rdquo;​ He stood in the dim light, panting and unable
 +      to find his words. Then he broke out again. &​ldquo;​Have I not shown you how I
 +      love you, Lucia? What more could I do to prove it? I have betrayed my
 +      country, I have broken my vow, I have ruined my friends, and I have given
 +      my life in order to save you.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      It was young Lorenzo Loredan, the lover whom I had superseded. My heart
 +      was heavy for him at the time, but after all it is every man for himself
 +      in love, and if one fails in the game it is some consolation to lose to
 +      one who can be a graceful and considerate winner.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      I was about to point this out to him, but at the first word I uttered he
 +      gave a shout of astonishment,​ and, rushing out, he seized the lamp which
 +      hung in the corridor and flashed it in my face.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​It is you, you villain!&​rdquo;​ he cried. &​ldquo;​You French coxcomb. You shall pay me
 +      for the wrong which you have done me.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      But the next instant he saw the pallor of my face and the blood which was
 +      still pouring from my head.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​What is this?&​rdquo;​ he asked. &​ldquo;​How come you to have lost your ear?&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      I shook off my weakness, and pressing my handkerchief to my wound I rose
 +      from my couch, the debonair colonel of Hussars.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​My injury, sir, is nothing. With your permission we will not allude to a
 +      matter so trifling and so personal.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      But Lucia had burst through from her cell and was pouring out the whole
 +      story while she clasped Lorenzo'​s arm.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​This noble gentleman&​mdash;​he has taken my place, Lorenzo! He has borne
 +      it for me. He has suffered that I might be saved.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      I could sympathise with the struggle which I could see in the Italian'​s
 +      face. At last he held out his hand to me.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Colonel Gerard,&​rdquo;​ he said, &​ldquo;​you are worthy of a great love. I forgive you,
 +      for if you have wronged me you have made a noble atonement. But I wonder
 +      to see you alive. I left the tribunal before you were judged, but I
 +      understood that no mercy would be shown to any Frenchman since the
 +      destruction of the ornaments of Venice.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​He did not destroy them,&​rdquo;​ cried Lucia. &​ldquo;​He has helped to preserve those
 +      in our palace.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​One of them, at any rate,&​rdquo;​ said I, as I stooped and kissed her hand.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      This was the way, my friends, in which I lost my ear. Lorenzo was found
 +      stabbed to the heart in the Piazza of St. Mark within two days of the
 +      night of my adventure. Of the tribunal and its ruffians, Matteo and three
 +      others were shot, the rest banished from the town.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Lucia, my lovely Lucia, retired into a convent at Murano after the French
 +      had left the city, and there she still may be, some gentle lady abbess who
 +      has perhaps long forgotten the days when our hearts throbbed together, and
 +      when the whole great world seemed so small a thing beside the love which
 +      burned in our veins. Or perhaps it may not be so. Perhaps she has not
 +      forgotten.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      There may still be times when the peace of the cloister is broken by the
 +      memory of the old soldier who loved her in those distant days. Youth is
 +      past and passion is gone, but the soul of the gentleman can never change,
 +      and still Etienne Gerard would bow his grey head before her and would very
 +      gladly lose his other ear if he might do her a service.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      <a name="​link2H_4_0003"​ id="​link2H_4_0003">​
 +      <​!-- ​ H2 anchor --> </a>
 +    </p>
 +    <div style="​height:​ 4em;">​
 +      <br /><br /><br /><br />
 +    </​div>​
 +    <h2>
 +      II. How the Brigadier Captured Saragossa
 +    </h2>
 +    <p>
 +      Have I ever told you, my friends, the circumstances connected with my
 +      joining the Hussars of Conflans at the time of the siege of Saragossa and
 +      the very remarkable exploit which I performed in connection with the
 +      taking of that city? No? Then you have indeed something still to learn. I
 +      will tell it to you exactly as it occurred. Save for two or three men and
 +      a score or two of women, you are the first who have ever heard the story.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      You must know, then, that it was in the Second Hussars&​mdash;​called the
 +      Hussars of Chamberan&​mdash;​that I had served as a lieutenant and as a
 +      junior captain. At the time I speak of I was only twenty-five years of
 +      age, as reckless and desperate a man as any in that great army.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      It chanced that the war had come to a halt in Germany, while it was still
 +      raging in Spain, so the Emperor, wishing to reinforce the Spanish army,
 +      transferred me as senior captain to the Hussars of Conflans, which were at
 +      that time in the Fifth Army Corps under Marshal Lannes.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      It was a long journey from Berlin to the Pyrenees.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      My new regiment formed part of the force which, under Marshal Lannes, was
 +      then besieging the Spanish town of Saragossa. I turned my horse'​s head in
 +      that direction, therefore, and behold me a week or so later at the French
 +      headquarters,​ whence I was directed to the camp of the Hussars of
 +      Conflans.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      You have read, no doubt, of this famous siege of Saragossa, and I will
 +      only say that no general could have had a harder task than that with which
 +      Marshal Lannes was confronted. The immense city was crowded with a horde
 +      of Spaniards&​mdash;​soldiers,​ peasants, priests&​mdash;​all filled with the
 +      most furious hatred of the French, and the most savage determination to
 +      perish before they would surrender. There were eighty thousand men in the
 +      town and only thirty thousand to besiege them. Yet we had a powerful
 +      artillery, and our engineers were of the best. There was never such a
 +      siege, for it is usual that when the fortifications are taken the city
 +      falls, but here it was not until the fortifications were taken that the
 +      real fighting began. Every house was a fort and every street a
 +      battle-field,​ so that slowly, day by day, we had to work our way inwards,
 +      blowing up the houses with their garrisons until more than half the city
 +      had disappeared. Yet the other half was as determined as ever and in a
 +      better position for defence, since it consisted of enormous convents and
 +      monasteries with walls like the Bastille, which could not be so easily
 +      brushed out of our way. This was the state of things at the time that I
 +      joined the army.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      I will confess to you that cavalry are not of much use in a siege,
 +      although there was a time when I would not have permitted anyone to have
 +      made such an observation. The Hussars of Conflans were encamped to the
 +      south of the town, and it was their duty to throw out patrols and to make
 +      sure that no Spanish force was advancing from that quarter. The colonel of
 +      the regiment was not a good soldier, and the regiment was at that time
 +      very far from being in the high condition which it afterwards attained.
 +      Even in that one evening I saw several things which shocked me, for I had
 +      a high standard, and it went to my heart to see an ill-arranged camp, an
 +      ill-groomed horse, or a slovenly trooper. That night I supped with
 +      twenty-six of my new brother-officers,​ and I fear that in my zeal I showed
 +      them only too plainly that I found things very different to what I was
 +      accustomed in the army of Germany.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      There was silence in the mess after my remarks, and I felt that I had been
 +      indiscreet when I saw the glances that were cast at me. The colonel
 +      especially was furious, and a great major named Olivier, who was the
 +      fire-eater of the regiment, sat opposite to me curling his huge black
 +      moustaches, and staring at me as if he would eat me. However, I did not
 +      resent his attitude, for I felt that I had indeed been indiscreet, and
 +      that it would give a bad impression if upon this my first evening I
 +      quarrelled with my superior officer.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      So far I admit that I was wrong, but now I come to the sequel. Supper
 +      over, the colonel and some other officers left the room, for it was in a
 +      farm-house that the mess was held. There remained a dozen or so, and a
 +      goat-skin of Spanish wine having been brought in we all made merry.
 +      Presently this Major Olivier asked me some questions concerning the army
 +      of Germany and as to the part which I had myself played in the campaign.
 +      Flushed with the wine, I was drawn on from story to story. It was not
 +      unnatural, my friends.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      You will sympathise with me. Up there I had been the model for every
 +      officer of my years in the army. I was the first swordsman, the most
 +      dashing rider, the hero of a hundred adventures. Here I found myself not
 +      only unknown, but even disliked. Was it not natural that I should wish to
 +      tell these brave comrades what sort of man it was that had come among
 +      them? Was it not natural that I should wish to say, &​ldquo;​Rejoice,​ my friends,
 +      rejoice! It is no ordinary man who has joined you to-night, but it is I,
 +      THE Gerard, the hero of Ratisbon, the victor of Jena, the man who broke
 +      the square at Austerlitz&​rdquo;?​ I could not say all this. But I could at least
 +      tell them some incidents which would enable them to say it for themselves.
 +      I did so. They listened unmoved. I told them more. At last, after my tale
 +      of how I had guided the army across the Danube, one universal shout of
 +      laughter broke from them all. I sprang to my feet, flushed with shame and
 +      anger. They had drawn me on. They were making game of me. They were
 +      convinced that they had to do with a braggart and a liar. Was this my
 +      reception in the Hussars of Conflans?
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      I dashed the tears of mortification from my eyes, and they laughed the
 +      more at the sight.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Do you know, Captain Pelletan, whether Marshal Lannes is still with the
 +      army?&​rdquo;​ asked the major.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​I believe that he is, sir,&​rdquo;​ said the other.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Really,​ I should have thought that his presence was hardly necessary now
 +      that Captain Gerard has arrived.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      Again there was a roar of laughter. I can see the ring of faces, the
 +      mocking eyes, the open mouths&​mdash;​Olivier with his great black bristles,
 +      Pelletan thin and sneering, even the young sub-lieutenants convulsed with
 +      merriment. Heavens, the indignity of it! But my rage had dried my tears. I
 +      was myself again, cold, quiet, self-contained,​ ice without and fire
 +      within.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​May I ask, sir,&​rdquo;​ said I to the major, &​ldquo;​at what hour the regiment is
 +      paraded?&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​I trust, Captain Gerard, that you do not mean to alter our hours,&​rdquo;​ said
 +      he, and again there was a burst of laughter, which died away as I looked
 +      slowly round the circle.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​What hour is the assembly?&​rdquo;​ I asked, sharply, of Captain Pelletan.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Some mocking answer was on his tongue, but my glance kept it there. &​ldquo;​The
 +      assembly is at six,&​rdquo;​ he answered.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​I thank you,&​rdquo;​ said I. I then counted the company and found that I had to
 +      do with fourteen officers, two of whom appeared to be boys fresh from St.
 +      Cyr. I could not condescend to take any notice of their indiscretion.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      There remained the major, four captains, and seven lieutenants.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Gentlemen,&​rdquo;​ I continued, looking from one to the other of them, &​ldquo;​I should
 +      feel myself unworthy of this famous regiment if I did not ask you for
 +      satisfaction for the rudeness with which you have greeted me, and I should
 +      hold you to be unworthy of it if on any pretext you refused to grant it.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​You will have no difficulty upon that score,&​rdquo;​ said the major. &​ldquo;​I am
 +      prepared to waive my rank and to give you every satisfaction in the name
 +      of the Hussars of Conflans.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​I thank you,&​rdquo;​ I answered. &​ldquo;​I feel, however, that I have some claim upon
 +      these other gentlemen who laughed at my expense.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Whom would you fight, then?&​rdquo;​ asked Captain Pelletan.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​All of you,&​rdquo;​ I answered.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      They looked in surprise from one to the other. Then they drew off to the
 +      other end of the room, and I heard the buzz of their whispers. They were
 +      laughing. Evidently they still thought that they had to do with some empty
 +      braggart. Then they returned.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Your request is unusual,&​rdquo;​ said Major Olivier, &​ldquo;​but it will be granted.
 +      How do you propose to conduct such a duel? The terms lie with you.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Sabres,&​rdquo;​ said I. &​ldquo;​And I will take you in order of seniority, beginning
 +      with you, Major Olivier, at five o'​clock. I will thus be able to devote
 +      five minutes to each before the assembly is blown. I must, however, beg
 +      you to have the courtesy to name the place of meeting, since I am still
 +      ignorant of the locality.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      They were impressed by my cold and practical manner.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Already the smile had died away from their lips.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Olivier'​s face was no longer mocking, but it was dark and stern.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​There is a small open space behind the horse lines,&​rdquo;​ said he. &​ldquo;​We have
 +      held a few affairs of honour there and it has done very well. We shall be
 +      there, Captain Gerard, at the hour you name.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      I was in the act of bowing to thank them for their acceptance when the
 +      door of the mess-room was flung open and the colonel hurried into the
 +      room, with an agitated face.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Gentlemen,&​rdquo;​ said he, &​ldquo;​I have been asked to call for a volunteer from
 +      among you for a service which involves the greatest possible danger. I
 +      will not disguise from you that the matter is serious in the last degree,
 +      and that Marshal Lannes has chosen a cavalry officer because he can be
 +      better spared than an officer of infantry or of engineers. Married men are
 +      not eligible. Of the others, who will volunteer?&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      I need not say that all the unmarried officers stepped to the front. The
 +      colonel looked round in some embarrassment.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      I could see his dilemma. It was the best man who should go, and yet it was
 +      the best man whom he could least spare.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Sir,&​rdquo;​ said I, &​ldquo;​may I be permitted to make a suggestion?&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      He looked at me with a hard eye. He had not forgotten my observations at
 +      supper. &​ldquo;​Speak!&​rdquo;​ said he.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​I would point out, sir,&​rdquo;​ said I, &​ldquo;​that this mission is mine both by right
 +      and by convenience.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Why so, Captain Gerard?&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​By right because I am the senior captain. By convenience because I shall
 +      not be missed in the regiments since the men have not yet learned to know
 +      me.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      The colonel'​s features relaxed.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​There is certainly truth in what you say, Captain Gerard,&​rdquo;​ said he. &​ldquo;​I
 +      think that you are indeed best fitted to go upon this mission. If you will
 +      come with me I will give you your instructions.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      I wished my new comrades good-night as I left the room, and I repeated
 +      that I should hold myself at their disposal at five o'​clock next morning.
 +      They bowed in silence, and I thought that I could see from the expression
 +      of their faces that they had already begun to take a more just view of my
 +      character.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      I had expected that the colonel would at once inform me what it was that I
 +      had been chosen to do, but instead of that he walked on in silence, I
 +      following behind him.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      We passed through the camp and made our way across the trenches and over
 +      the ruined heaps of stones which marked the old wall of the town. Within,
 +      there was a labyrinth of passages formed among the debris of the houses
 +      which had been destroyed by the mines of the engineers. Acres and acres
 +      were covered with splintered walls and piles of brick which had once been
 +      a populous suburb. Lanes had been driven through it and lanterns placed at
 +      the corners with inscriptions to direct the wayfarer. The colonel hurried
 +      onward until at last, after a long walk, we found our way barred by a high
 +      grey wall which stretched right across our path.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Here behind a barricade lay our advance guard. The colonel led me into a
 +      roofless house, and there I found two general officers, a map stretched
 +      over a drum in front of them, they kneeling beside it and examining it
 +      carefully by the light of a lantern. The one with the clean-shaven face
 +      and the twisted neck was Marshal Lannes, the other was General Razout, the
 +      head of the engineers.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Captain Gerard has volunteered to go,&​rdquo;​ said the colonel.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Marshal Lannes rose from his knees and shook me by the hand.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​You are a brave man, sir,&​rdquo;​ said he. &​ldquo;​I have a present to make to you,&​rdquo;​ he
 +      added, handing me a very tiny glass tube. &​ldquo;​It has been specially prepared
 +      by Dr. Fardet. At the supreme moment you have but to put it to your lips
 +      and you will be dead in an instant.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      This was a cheerful beginning. I will confess to you, my friends, that a
 +      cold chill passed up my back and my hair rose upon my head.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Excuse me, sir,&​rdquo;​ said I, as I saluted, &​ldquo;​I am aware that I have
 +      volunteered for a service of great danger, but the exact details have not
 +      yet been given to me.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Colonel Perrin,&​rdquo;​ said Lannes, severely, &​ldquo;​it is unfair to allow this brave
 +      officer to volunteer before he has learned what the perils are to which he
 +      will be exposed.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      But already I was myself once more.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Sir,&​rdquo;​ said I, &​ldquo;​permit me to remark that the greater the danger the
 +      greater the glory, and that I could only repent of volunteering if I found
 +      that there were no risks to be run.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      It was a noble speech, and my appearance gave force to my words. For the
 +      moment I was a heroic figure.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      As I saw Lannes'​s eyes fixed in admiration upon my face it thrilled me to
 +      think how splendid was the debut which I was making in the army of Spain.
 +      If I died that night my name would not be forgotten. My new comrades and
 +      my old, divided in all else, would still have a point of union in their
 +      love and admiration of Etienne Gerard.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​General Razout, explain the situation!&​rdquo;​ said Lannes, briefly.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      The engineer officer rose, his compasses in his hand.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      He led me to the door and pointed to the high grey wall which towered up
 +      amongst the debris of the shattered houses.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​That is the enemy'​s present line of defence,&​rdquo;​ said he. &​ldquo;​It is the wall of
 +      the great Convent of the Madonna. If we can carry it the city must fall,
 +      but they have run countermines all round it, and the walls are so
 +      enormously thick that it would be an immense labour to breach it with
 +      artillery. We happen to know, however, that the enemy have a considerable
 +      store of powder in one of the lower chambers. If that could be exploded
 +      the way would be clear for us.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​How can it be reached?&​rdquo;​ I asked.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​I will explain. We have a French agent within the town named Hubert. This
 +      brave man has been in constant communication with us, and he had promised
 +      to explode the magazine. It was to be done in the early morning, and for
 +      two days running we have had a storming party of a thousand Grenadiers
 +      waiting for the breach to be formed. But there has been no explosion, and
 +      for these two days we have had no communication from Hubert. The question
 +      is, what has become of him?&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​You wish me to go and see?&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Precisely. Is he ill, or wounded, or dead? Shall we still wait for him,
 +      or shall we attempt the attack elsewhere? We cannot determine this until
 +      we have heard from him. This is a map of the town, Captain Gerard. You
 +      perceive that within this ring of convents and monasteries are a number of
 +      streets which branch off from a central square. If you come so far as this
 +      square you will find the cathedral at one corner. In that corner is the
 +      street of Toledo. Hubert lives in a small house between a cobbler'​s and a
 +      wine-shop, on the right-hand side as you go from the cathedral. Do you
 +      follow me?&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Clearly.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​You are to reach that house, to see him, and to find out if his plan is
 +      still feasible or if we must abandon it.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      He produced what appeared to be a roll of dirty brown flannel. &​ldquo;​This is
 +      the dress of a Franciscan friar,&​rdquo;​ said he. &​ldquo;​You will find it the most
 +      useful disguise.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      I shrank away from it.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​It turns me into a spy,&​rdquo;​ I cried. &​ldquo;​Surely I can go in my uniform?&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Impossible! How could you hope to pass through the streets of the city?
 +      Remember, also, that the Spaniards take no prisoners, and that your fate
 +      will be the same in whatever dress you are taken.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      It was true, and I had been long enough in Spain to know that that fate
 +      was likely to be something more serious than mere death. All the way from
 +      the frontier I had heard grim tales of torture and mutilation. I enveloped
 +      myself in the Franciscan gown.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Now I am ready.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Are you armed?&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​My sabre.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​They will hear it clank. Take this knife, and leave your sword. Tell
 +      Hubert that at four o'​clock,​ before dawn, the storming party will again be
 +      ready. There is a sergeant outside who will show you how to get into the
 +      city. Good-night, and good luck!&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      Before I had left the room, the two generals had their cocked hats
 +      touching each other over the map. At the door an under-officer of
 +      engineers was waiting for me.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      I tied the girdle of my gown, and taking off my busby, I drew the cowl
 +      over my head. My spurs I removed. Then in silence I followed my guide.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      It was necessary to move with caution, for the walls above were lined by
 +      the Spanish sentries, who fired down continually at our advance posts.
 +      Slinking along under the very shadow of the great convent, we picked our
 +      way slowly and carefully among the piles of ruins until we came to a large
 +      chestnut tree. Here the sergeant stopped.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​It is an easy tree to climb,&​rdquo;​ said he. &​ldquo;​A scaling ladder would not be
 +      simpler. Go up it, and you will find that the top branch will enable you
 +      to step upon the roof of that house. After that it is your guardian angel
 +      who must be your guide, for I can help you no more.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      Girding up the heavy brown gown, I ascended the tree as directed. A half
 +      moon was shining brightly, and the line of roof stood out dark and hard
 +      against the purple, starry sky. The tree was in the shadow of the house.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Slowly I crept from branch to branch until I was near the top. I had but
 +      to climb along a stout limb in order to reach the wall. But suddenly my
 +      ears caught the patter of feet, and I cowered against the trunk and tried
 +      to blend myself with its shadow. A man was coming toward me on the roof. I
 +      saw his dark figure creeping along, his body crouching, his head advanced,
 +      the barrel of his gun protruding. His whole bearing was full of caution
 +      and suspicion. Once or twice he paused, and then came on again until he
 +      had reached the edge of the parapet within a few yards of me. Then he
 +      knelt down, levelled his musket, and fired.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      I was so astonished at this sudden crash at my very elbow that I nearly
 +      fell out of the tree. For an instant I could not be sure that he had not
 +      hit me. But when I heard a deep groan from below, and the Spaniard leaned
 +      over the parapet and laughed aloud, I understood what had occurred. It was
 +      my poor, faithful sergeant, who had waited to see the last of me. The
 +      Spaniard had seen him standing under the tree and had shot him. You will
 +      think that it was good shooting in the dark, but these people used
 +      trabucos, or blunderbusses,​ which were filled up with all sorts of stones
 +      and scraps of metal, so that they would hit you as certainly as I have hit
 +      a pheasant on a branch. The Spaniard stood peering down through the
 +      darkness, while an occasional groan from below showed that the sergeant
 +      was still living. The sentry looked round and everything was still and
 +      safe.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Perhaps he thought that he would like to finish of this accursed
 +      Frenchman, or perhaps he had a desire to see what was in his pockets; but
 +      whatever his motive, he laid down his gun, leaned forward, and swung
 +      himself into the tree. The same instant I buried my knife in his body, and
 +      he fell with a loud crashing through the branches and came with a thud to
 +      the ground. I heard a short struggle below and an oath or two in French.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      The wounded sergeant had not waited long for his vengeance.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      For some minutes I did not dare to move, for it seemed certain that
 +      someone would be attracted by the noise.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      However, all was silent save for the chimes striking midnight in the city.
 +      I crept along the branch and lifted myself on to the roof. The Spaniard'​s
 +      gun was lying there, but it was of no service to me, since he had the
 +      powder-horn at his belt. At the same time, if it were found, it would warn
 +      the enemy that something had happened, so I thought it best to drop it
 +      over the wall.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Then I looked round for the means of getting off the roof and down into
 +      the city.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      It was very evident that the simplest way by which I could get down was
 +      that by which the sentinel had got up, and what this was soon became
 +      evident. A voice along the roof called &​ldquo;​Manuelo! Manuelo!&​rdquo;​ several times,
 +      and, crouching in the shadow, I saw in the moonlight a bearded head, which
 +      protruded from a trap-door.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Receiving no answer to his summons, the man climbed through, followed by
 +      three other fellows, all armed to the teeth. You will see here how
 +      important it is not to neglect small precautions,​ for had I left the man's
 +      gun where I found it, a search must have followed and I should certainly
 +      have been discovered. As it was, the patrol saw no sign of their sentry,
 +      and thought, no doubt, that he had moved along the line of the roofs.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      They hurried on, therefore, in that direction, and I, the instant that
 +      their backs were turned, rushed to the open trap-door and descended the
 +      flight of steps which led from it. The house appeared to be an empty one,
 +      for I passed through the heart of it and out, by an open door, into the
 +      street beyond.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      It was a narrow and deserted lane, but it opened into a broader road,
 +      which was dotted with fires, round which a great number of soldiers and
 +      peasants were sleeping.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      The smell within the city was so horrible that one wondered how people
 +      could live in it, for during the months that the siege had lasted there
 +      had been no attempt to cleanse the streets or to bury the dead. Many
 +      people were moving up and down from fire to fire, and among them I
 +      observed several monks. Seeing that they came and went unquestioned,​ I
 +      took heart and hurried on my way in the direction of the great square.
 +      Once a man rose from beside one of the fires and stopped me by seizing my
 +      sleeve. He pointed to a woman who lay motionless on the road, and I took
 +      him to mean that she was dying, and that he desired me to administer the
 +      last offices of the Church. I sought refuge, however, in the very little
 +      Latin that was left to me. &​ldquo;​Ora pro nobis,&​rdquo;​ said I, from the depths of my
 +      cowl. &​ldquo;​Te Deum laudamus. Ora pro nobis.&​rdquo;​ I raised my hand as I spoke and
 +      pointed forward. The fellow released my sleeve and shrank back in silence,
 +      while I, with a solemn gesture, hurried upon my way.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      As I had imagined, this broad boulevard led out into the central square,
 +      which was full of troops and blazing with fires. I walked swiftly onward,
 +      disregarding one or two people who addressed remarks to me. I passed the
 +      cathedral and followed the street which had been described to me. Being
 +      upon the side of the city which was farthest from our attack, there were
 +      no troops encamped in it, and it lay in darkness, save for an occasional
 +      glimmer in a window. It was not difficult to find the house to which I had
 +      been directed, between the wine-shop and the cobbler'​s. There was no light
 +      within and the door was shut. Cautiously I pressed the latch, and I felt
 +      that it had yielded. Who was within I could not tell, and yet I must take
 +      the risk. I pushed the door open and entered.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      It was pitch-dark within&​mdash;​the more so as I had closed the door behind
 +      me. I felt round and came upon the edge of a table. Then I stood still and
 +      wondered what I should do next, and how I could gain some news of this
 +      Hubert, in whose house I found myself. Any mistake would cost me not only
 +      my life but the failure of my mission. Perhaps he did not live alone.
 +      Perhaps he was only a lodger in a Spanish family, and my visit might bring
 +      ruin to him as well as to myself. Seldom in my life have I been more
 +      perplexed. And then, suddenly, something turned my blood cold in my veins.
 +      It was a voice, a whispering voice, in my very ear. &​ldquo;​Mon Dieu!&​rdquo;​ cried the
 +      voice, in a tone of agony. &​ldquo;​Oh,​ mon Dieu! mon Dieu!&​rdquo;​ Then there was a dry
 +      sob in the darkness, and all was still once more.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      It thrilled me with horror, that terrible voice, but it thrilled me also
 +      with hope, for it was the voice of a Frenchman.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Who is there?&​rdquo;​ I asked.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      There was a groaning, but no reply.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Is that you, Monsieur Hubert?&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Yes,​ yes,&​rdquo;​ sighed the voice, so low that I could hardly hear it. &​ldquo;​Water,​
 +      water, for Heaven'​s sake, water!&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      I advanced in the direction of the sound, but only to come in contact with
 +      the wall. Again I heard a groan, but this time there could be no doubt
 +      that it was above my head. I put up my hands, but they felt only empty
 +      air.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Where are you?&​rdquo;​ I cried.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Here! Here!&​rdquo;​ whispered the strange, tremulous voice.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      I stretched my hand along the wall and I came upon a man's naked foot. It
 +      was as high as my face, and yet, so far as I could feel, it had nothing to
 +      support it. I staggered back in amazement. Then I took a tinder-box from
 +      my pocket and struck a light. At the first flash a man seemed to be
 +      floating in the air in front of me, and I dropped the box in my amazement.
 +      Again with tremulous fingers I struck the flint against the steel, and
 +      this time I lit not only the tinder but the wax taper. I held it up, and
 +      if my amazement was lessened my horror was increased by that which it
 +      revealed.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      The man had been nailed to the wall as a weasel is nailed to the door of a
 +      barn. Huge spikes had been driven through his hands and his feet. The poor
 +      wretch was in his last agony, his head sunk upon his shoulder and his
 +      blackened tongue protruding from his lips. He was dying as much from
 +      thirst as from his wounds, and these inhuman wretches had placed a beaker
 +      of wine upon the table in front of him to add a fresh pang to his
 +      tortures.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      I raised it to his lips. He had still strength enough to swallow, and the
 +      light came back a little to his dim eyes.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Are you a Frenchman?&​rdquo;​ he whispered.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Yes. They have sent me to learn what had befallen you.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​They discovered me. They have killed me for it. But before I die let me
 +      tell you what I know. A little more of that wine, please! Quick! Quick! I
 +      am very near the end. My strength is going. Listen to me! The powder is
 +      stored in the Mother Superior'​s room. The wall is pierced, and the end of
 +      the train is in Sister Angela'​s cell, next the chapel. All was ready two
 +      days ago. But they discovered a letter and they tortured me.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Good heavens! have you been hanging here for two days?&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​It seems like two years. Comrade, I have served France, have I not? Then
 +      do one little service for me. Stab me to the heart, dear friend! I implore
 +      you, I entreat you, to put an end to my sufferings.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      The man was indeed in a hopeless plight, and the kindest action would have
 +      been that for which he begged.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      And yet I could not in cold blood drive my knife into his body, although I
 +      knew how I should have prayed for such a mercy had I been in his place.
 +      But a sudden thought crossed my mind. In my pocket I held that which would
 +      give an instant and a painless death. It was my own safeguard against
 +      torture, and yet this poor soul was in very pressing need of it, and he
 +      had deserved well of France. I took out my phial and emptied it into the
 +      cup of wine. I was in the act of handing it to him when I heard a sudden
 +      clash of arms outside the door.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      In an instant I put out my light and slipped behind the window-curtains.
 +      Next moment the door was flung open and two Spaniards strode into the
 +      room, fierce, swarthy men in the dress of citizens, but with muskets slung
 +      over their shoulders. I looked through the chink in the curtains in an
 +      agony of fear lest they had come upon my traces, but it was evident that
 +      their visit was simply in order to feast their eyes upon my unfortunate
 +      compatriot.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      One of them held the lantern which he carried up in front of the dying
 +      man, and both of them burst into a shout of mocking laughter. Then the
 +      eyes of the man with the lantern fell upon the flagon of wine upon the
 +      table. He picked it up, held it, with a devilish grin, to the lips of
 +      Hubert, and then, as the poor wretch involuntarily inclined his head
 +      forward to reach it, he snatched it back and took a long gulp himself. At
 +      the same instant he uttered a loud cry, clutched wildly at his own throat,
 +      and fell stone-dead upon the floor. His comrade stared at him in horror
 +      and amazement. Then, overcome by his own superstitious fears, he gave a
 +      yell of terror and rushed madly from the room. I heard his feet clattering
 +      wildly on the cobble-stones until the sound died away in the distance.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      The lantern had been left burning upon the table, and by its light I saw,
 +      as I came out from behind my curtain, that the unfortunate Hubert'​s head
 +      had fallen forward upon his chest and that he also was dead. That motion
 +      to reach the wine with his lips had been his last. A clock ticked loudly
 +      in the house, but otherwise all was absolutely still. On the wall hung the
 +      twisted form of the Frenchman, on the floor lay the motionless body of the
 +      Spaniard, all dimly lit by the horn lantern. For the first time in my life
 +      a frantic spasm of terror came over me. I had seen ten thousand men in
 +      every conceivable degree of mutilation stretched upon the ground, but the
 +      sight had never affected me like those two silent figures who were my
 +      companions in that shadowy room. I rushed into the street as the Spaniard
 +      had done, eager only to leave that house of gloom behind me, and I had run
 +      as far as the cathedral before my wits came back to me.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      There I stopped, panting, in the shadow, and, my hand pressed to my side,
 +      I tried to collect my scattered senses and to plan out what I should do.
 +      As I stood there, breathless, the great brass bells roared twice above my
 +      head. It was two o'​clock. Four was the hour when the storming-party would
 +      be in its place. I had still two hours in which to act.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      The cathedral was brilliantly lit within, and a number of people were
 +      passing in and out; so I entered, thinking that I was less likely to be
 +      accosted there, and that I might have quiet to form my plans. It was
 +      certainly a singular sight, for the place had been turned into an
 +      hospital, a refuge, and a store-house. One aisle was crammed with
 +      provisions, another was littered with sick and wounded, while in the
 +      centre a great number of helpless people had taken up their abode, and had
 +      even lit their cooking fires upon the mosaic floors. There were many at
 +      prayer, so I knelt in the shadow of a pillar, and I prayed with all my
 +      heart that I might have the good luck to get out of this scrape alive, and
 +      that I might do such a deed that night as would make my name as famous in
 +      Spain as it had already become in Germany. I waited until the clock struck
 +      three, and then I left the cathedral and made my way toward the Convent of
 +      the Madonna, where the assault was to be delivered. You will understand,
 +      you who know me so well, that I was not the man to return tamely to the
 +      French camp with the report that our agent was dead and that other means
 +      must be found of entering the city. Either I should find some means to
 +      finish his uncompleted task or there would be a vacancy for a senior
 +      captain in the Hussars of Conflans.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      I passed unquestioned down the broad boulevard, which I have already
 +      described, until I came to the great stone convent which formed the
 +      outwork of the defence.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      It was built in a square with a garden in the centre. In this garden some
 +      hundreds of men were assembled, all armed and ready, for it was known, of
 +      course, within the town that this was the point against which the French
 +      attack was likely to be made. Up to this time our fighting all over Europe
 +      had always been done between one army and another. It was only here in
 +      Spain that we learned how terrible a thing it is to fight against a
 +      people.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      On the one hand there is no glory, for what glory could be gained by
 +      defeating this rabble of elderly shopkeepers,​ ignorant peasants, fanatical
 +      priests, excited women, and all the other creatures who made up the
 +      garrison? On the other hand there were extreme discomfort and danger, for
 +      these people would give you no rest, would observe no rules of war, and
 +      were desperately earnest in their desire by hook or by crook to do you an
 +      injury. I began to realise how odious was our task as I looked upon the
 +      motley but ferocious groups who were gathered round the watch-fires in the
 +      garden of the Convent of the Madonna. It was not for us soldiers to think
 +      about politics, but from the beginning there always seemed to be a curse
 +      upon this war in Spain.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      However, at the moment I had no time to brood over such matters as these.
 +      There was, as I have said, no difficulty in getting as far as the convent
 +      garden, but to pass inside the convent unquestioned was not so easy.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      The first thing which I did was to walk round the garden, and I was soon
 +      able to pick out one large stained-glass window which must belong to the
 +      chapel. I had understood from Hubert that the Mother Superior'​s room, in
 +      which the powder was stored, was near to this, and that the train had been
 +      laid through a hole in the wall from some neighbouring cell. I must, at
 +      all costs, get into the convent. There was a guard at the door, and how
 +      could I get in without explanations?​ But a sudden inspiration showed me
 +      how the thing might be done. In the garden was a well, and beside the well
 +      were a number of empty buckets. I filled two of these, and approached the
 +      door. The errand of a man who carries a bucket of water in each hand does
 +      not need to be explained. The guard opened to let me through. I found
 +      myself in a long, stone-flagged corridor, lit with lanterns, with the
 +      cells of the nuns leading out from one side of it. Now at last I was on
 +      the high road to success. I walked on without hesitation, for I knew by my
 +      observations in the garden which way to go for the chapel.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      A number of Spanish soldiers were lounging and smoking in the corridor,
 +      several of whom addressed me as I passed. I fancy it was for my blessing
 +      that they asked, and my &​ldquo;​Ora pro nobis&​rdquo;​ seemed to entirely satisfy them.
 +      Soon I had got as far as the chapel, and it was easy enough to see that
 +      the cell next door was used as a magazine, for the floor was all black
 +      with powder in front of it. The door was shut, and two fierce-looking
 +      fellows stood on guard outside it, one of them with a key stuck in his
 +      belt. Had we been alone, it would not have been long before it would have
 +      been in my hand, but with his comrade there it was impossible for me to
 +      hope to take it by force. The cell next door to the magazine on the far
 +      side from the chapel must be the one which belonged to Sister Angela. It
 +      was half open. I took my courage in both hands and, leaving my buckets in
 +      the corridor, I walked unchallenged into the room.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      I was prepared to find half a dozen fierce Spanish desperadoes within, but
 +      what actually met my eyes was even more embarrassing. The room had
 +      apparently been set aside for the use of some of the nuns, who for some
 +      reason had refused to quit their home. Three of them were within, one an
 +      elderly, stern-faced dame, who was evidently the Mother Superior, the
 +      others, young ladies of charming appearance. They were seated together at
 +      the far side of the room, but they all rose at my entrance, and I saw with
 +      some amazement, by their manner and expressions,​ that my coming was both
 +      welcome and expected. In a moment my presence of mind had returned, and I
 +      saw exactly how the matter lay.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Naturally, since an attack was about to be made upon the convent, these
 +      sisters had been expecting to be directed to some place of safety.
 +      Probably they were under vow not to quit the walls, and they had been told
 +      to remain in this cell until they received further orders.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      In any case I adapted my conduct to this supposition,​ since it was clear
 +      that I must get them out of the room, and this would give me a ready
 +      excuse to do so. I first cast a glance at the door and observed that the
 +      key was within. I then made a gesture to the nuns to follow me. The Mother
 +      Superior asked me some question, but I shook my head impatiently and
 +      beckoned to her again.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      She hesitated, but I stamped my foot and called them forth in so imperious
 +      a manner that they came at once.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      They would be safer in the chapel, and thither I led them, placing them at
 +      the end which was farthest from the magazine. As the three nuns took their
 +      places before the altar my heart bounded with joy and pride within me, for
 +      I felt that the last obstacle had been lifted from my path.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      And yet how often have I not found that that is the very moment of danger?
 +      I took a last glance at the Mother Superior, and to my dismay I saw that
 +      her piercing dark eyes were fixed, with an expression in which surprise
 +      was deepening into suspicion, upon my right hand. There were two points
 +      which might well have attracted her attention. One was that it was red
 +      with the blood of the sentinel whom I had stabbed in the tree. That alone
 +      might count for little, as the knife was as familiar as the breviary to
 +      the monks of Saragossa.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      But on my forefinger I wore a heavy gold ring&​mdash;​the gift of a certain
 +      German baroness whose name I may not mention. It shone brightly in the
 +      light of the altar lamp. Now, a ring upon a friar'​s hand is an
 +      impossibility,​ since they are vowed to absolute poverty.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      I turned quickly and made for the door of the chapel, but the mischief was
 +      done. As I glanced back I saw that the Mother Superior was already
 +      hurrying after me. I ran through the chapel door and along the corridor,
 +      but she called out some shrill warning to the two guards in front.
 +      Fortunately I had the presence of mind to call out also, and to point down
 +      the passage as if we were both pursuing the same object. Next instant I
 +      had dashed past them, sprang into the cell, slammed the heavy door, and
 +      fastened it upon the inside.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      With a bolt above and below and a huge lock in the centre it was a piece
 +      of timber that would take some forcing.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Even now if they had had the wit to put a barrel of powder against the
 +      door I should have been ruined. It was their only chance, for I had come
 +      to the final stage of my adventure. Here at last, after such a string of
 +      dangers as few men have ever lived to talk of, I was at one end of the
 +      powder train, with the Saragossa magazine at the other. They were howling
 +      like wolves out in the passage, and muskets were crashing against the
 +      door. I paid no heed to their clamour, but I looked eagerly around for
 +      that train of which Hubert had spoken. Of course, it must be at the side
 +      of the room next to the magazine. I crawled along it on my hands and
 +      knees, looking into every crevice, but no sign could I see. Two bullets
 +      flew through the door and flattened themselves against the wall. The
 +      thudding and smashing grew ever louder. I saw a grey pile in a corner,
 +      flew to it with a cry of joy, and found that it was only dust. Then I got
 +      back to the side of the door where no bullets could ever reach me&​mdash;​they
 +      were streaming freely into the room&​mdash;​and I tried to forget this
 +      fiendish howling in my ear and to think out where this train could be. It
 +      must have been carefully laid by Hubert lest these nuns should see it. I
 +      tried to imagine how I should myself have arranged it had I been in his
 +      place.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      My eye was attracted by a statue of St. Joseph which stood in the corner.
 +      There was a wreath of leaves along the edge of the pedestal, with a lamp
 +      burning amidst them. I rushed across to it and tore the leaves aside.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Yes, yes, there was a thin black line, which disappeared through a small
 +      hole in the wall. I tilted over the lamp and threw myself on the ground.
 +      Next instant came a roar like thunder, the walls wavered and tottered
 +      around me, the ceiling clattered down from above, and over the yell of the
 +      terrified Spaniards was heard the terrific shout of the storming column of
 +      Grenadiers. As in a dream&​mdash;​a happy dream&​mdash;​I heard it, and then I
 +      heard no more.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      When I came to my senses two French soldiers were propping me up, and my
 +      head was singing like a kettle.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      I staggered to my feet and looked around me. The plaster had fallen, the
 +      furniture was scattered, and there were rents in the bricks, but no signs
 +      of a breach. In fact, the walls of the convent had been so solid that the
 +      explosion of the magazine had been insufficient to throw them down. On the
 +      other hand, it had caused such a panic among the defenders that our
 +      stormers had been able to carry the windows and throw open the doors
 +      almost without assistance. As I ran out into the corridor I found it full
 +      of troops, and I met Marshal Lannes himself, who was entering with his
 +      staff. He stopped and listened eagerly to my story.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Splendid,​ Captain Gerard, splendid!&​rdquo;​ he cried.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​These facts will certainly be reported to the Emperor.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​I would suggest to your Excellency,&​rdquo;​ said I, &​ldquo;​that I have only finished
 +      the work that was planned and carried out by Monsieur Hubert, who gave his
 +      life for the cause.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​His services will not be forgotten,&​rdquo;​ said the Marshal.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Meanwhile,​ Captain Gerard, it is half-past four, and you must be starving
 +      after such a night of exertion. My staff and I will breakfast inside the
 +      city. I assure you that you will be an honoured guest.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​I will follow your Excellency,&​rdquo;​ said I. &​ldquo;​There is a small engagement
 +      which detains me.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      He opened his eyes.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​At this hour?&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Yes,​ sir,&​rdquo;​ I answered. &​ldquo;​My fellow-officers,​ whom I never saw until last
 +      night, will not be content unless they catch another glimpse of me the
 +      first thing this morning.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Au revoir, then,&​rdquo;​ said Marshal Lannes, as he passed upon his way.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      I hurried through the shattered door of the convent.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      When I reached the roofless house in which we had held the consultation
 +      the night before, I threw off my gown and I put on the busby and sabre
 +      which I had left there.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Then, a Hussar once more, I hurried onward to the grove which was our
 +      rendezvous. My brain was still reeling from the concussion of the powder,
 +      and I was exhausted by the many emotions which had shaken me during that
 +      terrible night. It is like a dream, all that walk in the first dim grey
 +      light of dawn, with the smouldering camp-fires around me and the buzz of
 +      the waking army. Bugles and drums in every direction were mustering the
 +      infantry, for the explosion and the shouting had told their own tale. I
 +      strode onward until, as I entered the little clump of cork oaks behind the
 +      horse lines, I saw my twelve comrades waiting in a group, their sabres at
 +      their sides. They looked at me curiously as I approached. Perhaps with my
 +      powder-blackened face and my blood-stained hands I seemed a different
 +      Gerard to the young captain whom they had made game of the night before.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Good morning, gentlemen,&​rdquo;​ said I. &​ldquo;​I regret exceedingly if I have kept
 +      you waiting, but I have not been master of my own time.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      They said nothing, but they still scanned me with curious eyes. I can see
 +      them now, standing in a line before me, tall men and short men, stout men
 +      and thin men: Olivier, with his warlike moustache; the thin, eager face of
 +      Pelletan; young Oudin, flushed by his first duel; Mortier, with the
 +      sword-cut across his wrinkled brow.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      I laid aside my busby and drew my sword.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​I have one favour to ask you, gentlemen,&​rdquo;​ said I.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Marshal Lannes has invited me to breakfast and I cannot keep him
 +      waiting.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​What do you suggest?&​rdquo;​ asked Major Olivier.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​That you release me from my promise to give you five minutes each, and
 +      that you will permit me to attack you all together.&​rdquo;​ I stood upon my guard
 +      as I spoke.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      But their answer was truly beautiful and truly French. With one impulse
 +      the twelve swords flew from their scabbards and were raised in salute.
 +      There they stood, the twelve of them, motionless, their heels together,
 +      each with his sword upright before his face.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      I staggered back from them. I looked from one to the other. For an instant
 +      I could not believe my own eyes. They were paying me homage, these, the
 +      men who had jeered me! Then I understood it all. I saw the effect that I
 +      had made upon them and their desire to make reparation. When a man is weak
 +      he can steel himself against danger, but not against emotion.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Comrades,&​rdquo;​ I cried, &​ldquo;​comrades&​mdash;​!&​rdquo;​ but I could say no more.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Something seemed to take me by the throat and choke me. And then in an
 +      instant Olivier'​s arms were round me, Pelletan had seized me by the right
 +      hand, Mortier by the left, some were patting me on the shoulder, some were
 +      clapping me on the back, on every side smiling faces were looking into
 +      mine; and so it was that I knew that I had won my footing in the Hussars
 +      of Conflans.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      <a name="​link2H_4_0004"​ id="​link2H_4_0004">​
 +      <​!-- ​ H2 anchor --> </a>
 +    </p>
 +    <div style="​height:​ 4em;">​
 +      <br /><br /><br /><br />
 +    </​div>​
 +    <h2>
 +      III. How the Brigadier Slew the Fox [*]
 +    </h2>
 +<pre xml:​space="​preserve">​
 +     [*] This story, already published in The Green Flag, is
 +     ​included here so that all of the Brigadier Gerard stories
 +     may appear together.
 +</​pre>​
 +    <p>
 +      In all the great hosts of France there was only one officer toward whom
 +      the English of Wellington'​s Army retained a deep, steady, and unchangeable
 +      hatred.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      There were plunderers among the French, and men of violence, gamblers,
 +      duellists, and roues. All these could be forgiven, for others of their
 +      kidney were to be found among the ranks of the English. But one officer of
 +      Massena'​s force had committed a crime which was unspeakable,​ unheard of,
 +      abominable; only to be alluded to with curses late in the evening, when a
 +      second bottle had loosened the tongues of men. The news of it was carried
 +      back to England, and country gentlemen who knew little of the details of
 +      the war grew crimson with passion when they heard of it, and yeomen of the
 +      shires raised freckled fists to Heaven and swore. And yet who should be
 +      the doer of this dreadful deed but our friend the Brigadier, Etienne
 +      Gerard, of the Hussars of Conflans, gay-riding, plume-tossing,​ debonair,
 +      the darling of the ladies and of the six brigades of light cavalry.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      But the strange part of it is that this gallant gentleman did this hateful
 +      thing, and made himself the most unpopular man in the Peninsula, without
 +      ever knowing that he had done a crime for which there is hardly a name
 +      amid all the resources of our language. He died of old age, and never once
 +      in that imperturbable self-confidence which adorned or disfigured his
 +      character knew that so many thousand Englishmen would gladly have hanged
 +      him with their own hands. On the contrary, he numbered this adventure
 +      among those other exploits which he has given to the world, and many a
 +      time he chuckled and hugged himself as he narrated it to the eager circle
 +      who gathered round him in that humble cafe where, between his dinner and
 +      his dominoes, he would tell, amid tears and laughter, of that
 +      inconceivable Napoleonic past when France, like an angel of wrath, rose
 +      up, splendid and terrible, before a cowering continent. Let us listen to
 +      him as he tells the story in his own way and from his own point of view.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      You must know, my friends, said he, that it was toward the end of the year
 +      eighteen hundred and ten that I and Massena and the others pushed
 +      Wellington backward until we had hoped to drive him and his army into the
 +      Tagus. But when we were still twenty-five miles from Lisbon we found that
 +      we were betrayed, for what had this Englishman done but build an enormous
 +      line of works and forts at a place called Torres Vedras, so that even we
 +      were unable to get through them! They lay across the whole Peninsula, and
 +      our army was so far from home that we did not dare to risk a reverse, and
 +      we had already learned at Busaco that it was no child'​s play to fight
 +      against these people. What could we do, then, but sit down in front of
 +      these lines and blockade them to the best of our power? There we remained
 +      for six months, amid such anxieties that Massena said afterward that he
 +      had not one hair which was not white upon his body.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      For my own part, I did not worry much about our situation, but I looked
 +      after our horses, who were in much need of rest and green fodder. For the
 +      rest, we drank the wine of the country and passed the time as best we
 +      might. There was a lady at Santarem&​mdash;​but my lips are sealed. It is
 +      the part of a gallant man to say nothing, though he may indicate that he
 +      could say a great deal.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      One day Massena sent for me, and I found him in his tent with a great plan
 +      pinned upon the table. He looked at me in silence with that single
 +      piercing eye of his, and I felt by his expression that the matter was
 +      serious. He was nervous and ill at ease, but my bearing seemed to reassure
 +      him. It is good to be in contact with brave men.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Colonel Etienne Gerard,&​rdquo;​ said he, &​ldquo;​I have always heard that you are a
 +      very gallant and enterprising officer.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      It was not for me to confirm such a report, and yet it would be folly to
 +      deny it, so I clinked my spurs together and saluted.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​You are also an excellent rider.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      I admitted it.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​And the best swordsman in the six brigades of light cavalry.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      Massena was famous for the accuracy of his information.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Now,&​rdquo;​ said he, &​ldquo;​if you will look at this plan you will have no difficulty
 +      in understanding what it is that I wish you to do. These are the lines of
 +      Torres Vedras. You will perceive that they cover a vast space, and you
 +      will realise that the English can only hold a position here and there.
 +      Once through the lines you have twenty-five miles of open country which
 +      lie between them and Lisbon. It is very important to me to learn how
 +      Wellington'​s troops are distributed throughout that space, and it is my
 +      wish that you should go and ascertain.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      His words turned me cold.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Sir,&​rdquo;​ said I, &​ldquo;​it is impossible that a colonel of light cavalry should
 +      condescend to act as a spy.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      He laughed and clapped me on the shoulder.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​You would not be a Hussar if you were not a hot-head,&​rdquo;​ said he. &​ldquo;​If you
 +      will listen you will understand that I have not asked you to act as a spy.
 +      What do you think of that horse?&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      He had conducted me to the opening of his tent, and there was a chasseur
 +      who led up and down a most admirable creature. He was a dapple grey, not
 +      very tall, a little over fifteen hands perhaps, but with the short head
 +      and splendid arch of the neck which comes with the Arab blood. His
 +      shoulders and haunches were so muscular, and yet his legs so fine, that it
 +      thrilled me with joy just to gaze upon him. A fine horse or a beautiful
 +      woman&​mdash;​I cannot look at them unmoved, even now when seventy winters
 +      have chilled my blood. You can think how it was in the year '10.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​This,&​rdquo;​ said Massena, &​ldquo;​is Voltigeur, the swiftest horse in our army. What
 +      I desire is that you should start tonight, ride round the lines upon the
 +      flank, make your way across the enemy'​s rear, and return upon the other
 +      flank, bringing me news of his disposition. You will wear a uniform, and
 +      will, therefore, if captured, be safe from the death of a spy. It is
 +      probable that you will get through the lines unchallenged,​ for the posts
 +      are very scattered. Once through, in daylight you can outride anything
 +      which you meet, and if you keep off the roads you may escape entirely
 +      unnoticed. If you have not reported yourself by to-morrow night, I will
 +      understand that you are taken, and I will offer them Colonel Petrie in
 +      exchange.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      Ah, how my heart swelled with pride and joy as I sprang into the saddle
 +      and galloped this grand horse up and down to show the Marshal the mastery
 +      which I had of him! He was magnificent&​mdash;​we were both magnificent,​ for
 +      Massena clapped his hands and cried out in his delight.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      It was not I, but he, who said that a gallant beast deserves a gallant
 +      rider. Then, when for the third time, with my panache flying and my dolman
 +      streaming behind me, I thundered past him, I saw upon his hard old face
 +      that he had no longer any doubt that he had chosen the man for his
 +      purpose. I drew my sabre, raised the hilt to my lips in salute, and
 +      galloped on to my own quarters.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Already the news had spread that I had been chosen for a mission, and my
 +      little rascals came swarming out of their tents to cheer me. Ah! it brings
 +      the tears to my old eyes when I think how proud they were of their
 +      Colonel.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      And I was proud of them also. They deserved a dashing leader.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      The night promised to be a stormy one, which was very much to my liking.
 +      It was my desire to keep my departure most secret, for it was evident that
 +      if the English heard that I had been detached from the army they would
 +      naturally conclude that something important was about to happen. My horse
 +      was taken, therefore, beyond the picket line, as if for watering, and I
 +      followed and mounted him there. I had a map, a compass, and a paper of
 +      instructions from the Marshal, and with these in the bosom of my tunic and
 +      my sabre at my side I set out upon my adventure.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      A thin rain was falling and there was no moon, so you may imagine that it
 +      was not very cheerful. But my heart was light at the thought of the honour
 +      which had been done me and the glory which awaited me. This exploit should
 +      be one more in that brilliant series which was to change my sabre into a
 +      baton. Ah, how we dreamed, we foolish fellows, young, and drunk with
 +      success! Could I have foreseen that night as I rode, the chosen man of
 +      sixty thousand, that I should spend my life planting cabbages on a hundred
 +      francs a month! Oh, my youth, my hopes, my comrades! But the wheel turns
 +      and never stops. Forgive me, my friends, for an old man has his weakness.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      My route, then, lay across the face of the high ground of Torres Vedras,
 +      then over a streamlet, past a farmhouse which had been burned down and was
 +      now only a landmark, then through a forest of young cork oaks, and so to
 +      the monastery of San Antonio, which marked the left of the English
 +      position. Here I turned south and rode quietly over the downs, for it was
 +      at this point that Massena thought that it would be most easy for me to
 +      find my way unobserved through the position. I went very slowly, for it
 +      was so dark that I could not see my hand in front of me. In such cases I
 +      leave my bridle loose and let my horse pick its own way. Voltigeur went
 +      confidently forward, and I was very content to sit upon his back and to
 +      peer about me, avoiding every light.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      For three hours we advanced in this cautious way, until it seemed to me
 +      that I must have left all danger behind me. I then pushed on more briskly,
 +      for I wished to be in the rear of the whole army by daybreak. There are
 +      many vineyards in these parts which in winter become open plains, and a
 +      horseman finds few difficulties in his way.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      But Massena had underrated the cunning of these English, for it appears
 +      that there was not one line of defence but three, and it was the third,
 +      which was the most formidable, through which I was at that instant
 +      passing. As I rode, elated at my own success, a lantern flashed suddenly
 +      before me, and I saw the glint of polished gun-barrels and the gleam of a
 +      red coat.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Who goes there?&​rdquo;​ cried a voice&​mdash;​such a voice! I swerved to the right
 +      and rode like a madman, but a dozen squirts of fire came out of the
 +      darkness, and the bullets whizzed all round my ears. That was no new sound
 +      to me, my friends, though I will not talk like a foolish conscript and say
 +      that I have ever liked it. But at least it had never kept me from thinking
 +      clearly, and so I knew that there was nothing for it but to gallop hard
 +      and try my luck elsewhere. I rode round the English picket, and then, as I
 +      heard nothing more of them, I concluded rightly that I had at last come
 +      through their defences.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      For five miles I rode south, striking a tinder from time to time to look
 +      at my pocket compass. And then in an instant&​mdash;​I feel the pang once
 +      more as my memory brings back the moment&​mdash;​my horse, without a sob or
 +      staggers fell stone-dead beneath me!
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      I had never known it, but one of the bullets from that infernal picket had
 +      passed through his body. The gallant creature had never winced nor
 +      weakened, but had gone while life was in him. One instant I was secure on
 +      the swiftest, most graceful horse in Massena'​s army. The next he lay upon
 +      his side, worth only the price of his hide, and I stood there that most
 +      helpless, most ungainly of creatures, a dismounted Hussar. What could I do
 +      with my boots, my spurs, my trailing sabre? I was far inside the enemy'​s
 +      lines. How could I hope to get back again?
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      I am not ashamed to say that I, Etienne Gerard, sat upon my dead horse and
 +      sank my face in my hands in my despair.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Already the first streaks were whitening the east.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      In half an hour it would be light. That I should have won my way past
 +      every obstacle and then at this last instant be left at the mercy of my
 +      enemies, my mission ruined, and myself a prisoner&​mdash;​was it not enough
 +      to break a soldier'​s heart?
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      But courage, my friends! We have these moments of weakness, the bravest of
 +      us; but I have a spirit like a slip of steel, for the more you bend it the
 +      higher it springs.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      One spasm of despair, and then a brain of ice and a heart of fire. All was
 +      not yet lost. I who had come through so many hazards would come through
 +      this one also. I rose from my horse and considered what had best be done.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      And first of all it was certain that I could not get back. Long before I
 +      could pass the lines it would be broad daylight. I must hide myself for
 +      the day, and then devote the next night to my escape. I took the saddle,
 +      holsters, and bridle from poor Voltigeur, and I concealed them among some
 +      bushes, so that no one finding him could know that he was a French horse.
 +      Then, leaving him lying there, I wandered on in search of some place where
 +      I might be safe for the day. In every direction I could see camp fires
 +      upon the sides of the hills, and already figures had begun to move around
 +      them. I must hide quickly, or I was lost.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      But where was I to hide? It was a vineyard in which I found myself, the
 +      poles of the vines still standing, but the plants gone. There was no cover
 +      there. Besides, I should want some food and water before another night had
 +      come. I hurried wildly onward through the waning darkness, trusting that
 +      chance would be my friend.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      And I was not disappointed. Chance is a woman, my friends, and she has her
 +      eye always upon a gallant Hussar.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Well, then, as I stumbled through the vineyard, something loomed in front
 +      of me, and I came upon a great square house with another long, low
 +      building upon one side of it. Three roads met there, and it was easy to
 +      see that this was the posada, or wine-shop.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      There was no light in the windows, and everything was dark and silent,
 +      but, of course, I knew that such comfortable quarters were certainly
 +      occupied, and probably by someone of importance. I have learned, however,
 +      that the nearer the danger may really be the safer place, and so I was by
 +      no means inclined to trust myself away from this shelter. The low building
 +      was evidently the stable, and into this I crept, for the door was
 +      unlatched.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      The place was full of bullocks and sheep, gathered there, no doubt, to be
 +      out of the clutches of marauders.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      A ladder led to a loft, and up this I climbed and concealed myself very
 +      snugly among some bales of hay upon the top. This loft had a small open
 +      window, and I was able to look down upon the front of the inn and also
 +      upon the road. There I crouched and waited to see what would happen.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      It was soon evident that I had not been mistaken when I had thought that
 +      this might be the quarters of some person of importance. Shortly after
 +      daybreak an English light dragoon arrived with a despatch, and from then
 +      onward the place was in a turmoil, officers continually riding up and
 +      away. Always the same name was upon their lips: &​ldquo;​Sir Stapleton&​mdash;​Sir
 +      Stapleton.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      It was hard for me to lie there with a dry moustache and watch the great
 +      flagons which were brought out by the landlord to these English officers.
 +      But it amused me to look at their fresh-coloured,​ clean-shaven,​ careless
 +      faces, and to wonder what they would think if they knew that so celebrated
 +      a person was lying so near to them. And then, as I lay and watched, I saw
 +      a sight which filled me with surprise.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      It is incredible the insolence of these English! What do you suppose
 +      Milord Wellington had done when he found that Massena had blockaded him
 +      and that he could not move his army? I might give you many guesses. You
 +      might say that he had raged, that he had despaired, that he had brought
 +      his troops together and spoken to them about glory and the fatherland
 +      before leading them to one last battle. No, Milord did none of these
 +      things. But he sent a fleet ship to England to bring him a number of
 +      fox-dogs; and he with his officers settled himself down to chase the fox.
 +      It is true what I tell you. Behind the lines of Torres Vedras these mad
 +      Englishmen made the fox chase three days in the week.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      We had heard of it in the camp, and now I was myself to see that it was
 +      true.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      For, along the road which I have described, there came these very dogs,
 +      thirty or forty of them, white and brown, each with its tail at the same
 +      angle, like the bayonets of the Old Guard. My faith, but it was a pretty
 +      sight! And behind and amidst them there rode three men with peaked caps
 +      and red coats, whom I understood to be the hunters. After them came many
 +      horsemen with uniforms of various kinds, stringing along the roads in twos
 +      and threes, talking together and laughing.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      They did not seem to be going above a trot, and it appeared to me that it
 +      must indeed be a slow fox which they hoped to catch. However, it was their
 +      affair, not mine, and soon they had all passed my window and were out of
 +      sight. I waited and I watched, ready for any chance which might offer.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Presently an officer, in a blue uniform not unlike that of our flying
 +      artillery, came cantering down the road&​mdash;​an elderly, stout man he
 +      was, with grey side-whiskers. He stopped and began to talk with an orderly
 +      officer of dragoons, who waited outside the inn, and it was then that I
 +      learned the advantage of the English which had been taught me. I could
 +      hear and understand all that was said.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Where is the meet?&​rdquo;​ said the officer, and I thought that he was hungering
 +      for his bifstek. But the other answered him that it was near Altara, so I
 +      saw that it was a place of which he spoke.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​You are late, Sir George,&​rdquo;​ said the orderly.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Yes,​ I had a court-martial. Has Sir Stapleton Cotton gone?&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      At this moment a window opened, and a handsome young man in a very
 +      splendid uniform looked out of it.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Halloa,​ Murray!&​rdquo;​ said he. &​ldquo;​These cursed papers keep me, but I will be at
 +      your heels.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Very good, Cotton. I am late already, so I will ride on.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​You might order my groom to bring round my horse,&​rdquo;​ said the young General
 +      at the window to the orderly below, while the other went on down the road.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      The orderly rode away to some outlying stable, and then in a few minutes
 +      there came a smart English groom with a cockade in his hat, leading by the
 +      bridle a horse&​mdash;​and,​ oh, my friends, you have never known the
 +      perfection to which a horse can attain until you have seen a first-class
 +      English hunter. He was superb: tall, broad, strong, and yet as graceful
 +      and agile as a deer. Coal black he was in colour, and his neck, and his
 +      shoulder, and his quarters, and his fetlocks&​mdash;​how can I describe him
 +      all to you? The sun shone upon him as on polished ebony, and he raised his
 +      hoofs in a little playful dance so lightly and prettily, while he tossed
 +      his mane and whinnied with impatience. Never have I seen such a mixture of
 +      strength and beauty and grace. I had often wondered how the English
 +      Hussars had managed to ride over the chasseurs of the Guards in the affair
 +      at Astorga, but I wondered no longer when I saw the English horses.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      There was a ring for fastening bridles at the door of the inn, and the
 +      groom tied the horse there while he entered the house. In an instant I had
 +      seen the chance which Fate had brought to me. Were I in that saddle I
 +      should be better off than when I started. Even Voltigeur could not compare
 +      with this magnificent creature. To think is to act with me. In one instant
 +      I was down the ladder and at the door of the stable. The next I was out
 +      and the bridle was in my hand. I bounded into the saddle.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Somebody, the master or the man, shouted wildly behind me. What cared I
 +      for his shouts! I touched the horse with my spurs and he bounded forward
 +      with such a spring that only a rider like myself could have sat him. I
 +      gave him his head and let him go&​mdash;​it did not matter to me where, so
 +      long as we left this inn far behind us. He thundered away across the
 +      vineyards, and in a very few minutes I had placed miles between myself and
 +      my pursuers. They could no longer tell in that wild country in which
 +      direction I had gone. I knew that I was safe, and so, riding to the top of
 +      a small hill, I drew my pencil and note-book from my pocket and proceeded
 +      to make plans of those camps which I could see and to draw the outline of
 +      the country.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      He was a dear creature upon whom I sat, but it was not easy to draw upon
 +      his back, for every now and then his two ears would cock, and he would
 +      start and quiver with impatience. At first I could not understand this
 +      trick of his, but soon I observed that he only did it when a peculiar
 +      noise&​mdash;&​ldquo;​yoy,​ yoy, yoy&​rdquo;&​mdash;​came from somewhere among the oak woods
 +      beneath us. And then suddenly this strange cry changed into a most
 +      terrible screaming, with the frantic blowing of a horn. Instantly he went
 +      mad&​mdash;​this horse. His eyes blazed. His mane bristled. He bounded from
 +      the earth and bounded again, twisting and turning in a frenzy. My pencil
 +      flew one way and my note-book another. And then, as I looked down into the
 +      valley, an extraordinary sight met my eyes.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      The hunt was streaming down it. The fox I could not see, but the dogs were
 +      in full cry, their noses down, their tails up, so close together that they
 +      might have been one great yellow and white moving carpet. And behind them
 +      rode the horsemen&​mdash;​my faith, what a sight! Consider every type which
 +      a great army could show. Some in hunting dress, but the most in uniforms:
 +      blue dragoons, red dragoons, red-trousered hussars, green riflemen,
 +      artillerymen,​ gold-slashed lancers, and most of all red, red, red, for the
 +      infantry officers ride as hard as the cavalry.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Such a crowd, some well mounted, some ill, but all flying along as best
 +      they might, the subaltern as good as the general, jostling and pushing,
 +      spurring and driving, with every thought thrown to the winds save that
 +      they should have the blood of this absurd fox! Truly, they are an
 +      extraordinary people, the English!
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      But I had little time to watch the hunt or to marvel at these islanders,
 +      for of all these mad creatures the very horse upon which I sat was the
 +      maddest. You understand that he was himself a hunter, and that the crying
 +      of these dogs was to him what the call of a cavalry trumpet in the street
 +      yonder would be to me. It thrilled him. It drove him wild. Again and again
 +      he bounded into the air, and then, seizing the bit between his teeth, he
 +      plunged down the slope and galloped after the dogs.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      I swore, and tugged, and pulled, but I was powerless.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      This English General rode his horse with a snaffle only, and the beast had
 +      a mouth of iron. It was useless to pull him back. One might as well try to
 +      keep a grenadier from a wine-bottle. I gave it up in despair, and,
 +      settling down in the saddle, I prepared for the worst which could befall.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      What a creature he was! Never have I felt such a horse between my knees.
 +      His great haunches gathered under him with every stride, and he shot
 +      forward ever faster and faster, stretched like a greyhound, while the wind
 +      beat in my face and whistled past my ears. I was wearing our undress
 +      jacket, a uniform simple and dark in itself&​mdash;​though some figures give
 +      distinction to any uniform&​mdash;​and I had taken the precaution to remove
 +      the long panache from my busby. The result was that, amidst the mixture of
 +      costumes in the hunt, there was no reason why mine should attract
 +      attention, or why these men, whose thoughts were all with the chase,
 +      should give any heed to me. The idea that a French officer might be riding
 +      with them was too absurd to enter their minds. I laughed as I rode, for,
 +      indeed, amid all the danger, there was something of comic in the
 +      situation.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      I have said that the hunters were very unequally mounted, and so at the
 +      end of a few miles, instead of being one body of men, like a charging
 +      regiment, they were scattered over a considerable space, the better riders
 +      well up to the dogs and the others trailing away behind.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Now, I was as good a rider as any, and my horse was the best of them all,
 +      and so you can imagine that it was not long before he carried me to the
 +      front. And when I saw the dogs streaming over the open, and the red-coated
 +      huntsman behind them, and only seven or eight horsemen between us, then it
 +      was that the strangest thing of all happened, for I, too, went mad&​mdash;​I,​
 +      Etienne Gerard!
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      In a moment it came upon me, this spirit of sport, this desire to excel,
 +      this hatred of the fox. Accursed animal, should he then defy us? Vile
 +      robber, his hour was come!
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Ah, it is a great feeling, this feeling of sport, my friends, this desire
 +      to trample the fox under the hoofs of your horse. I have made the fox
 +      chase with the English. I have also, as I may tell you some day, fought
 +      the box-fight with the Bustler, of Bristol. And I say to you that this
 +      sport is a wonderful thing&​mdash;​full of interest as well as madness.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      The farther we went the faster galloped my horse, and soon there were but
 +      three men as near the dogs as I was.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      All thought of fear of discovery had vanished. My brain throbbed, my blood
 +      ran hot&​mdash;​only one thing upon earth seemed worth living for, and that
 +      was to overtake this infernal fox. I passed one of the horsemen&​mdash;​a
 +      Hussar like myself. There were only two in front of me now: the one in a
 +      black coat, the other the blue artilleryman whom I had seen at the inn.
 +      His grey whiskers streamed in the wind, but he rode magnificently. For a
 +      mile or more we kept in this order, and then, as we galloped up a steep
 +      slope, my lighter weight brought me to the front.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      I passed them both, and when I reached the crown I was riding level with
 +      the little, hard-faced English huntsman.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      In front of us were the dogs, and then, a hundred paces beyond them, was a
 +      brown wisp of a thing, the fox itself, stretched to the uttermost. The
 +      sight of him fired my blood. &​ldquo;​Aha,​ we have you then, assassin!&​rdquo;​ I cried,
 +      and shouted my encouragement to the huntsman. I waved my hand to show him
 +      that there was one upon whom he could rely.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      And now there were only the dogs between me and my prey. These dogs, whose
 +      duty it is to point out the game, were now rather a hindrance than a help
 +      to us, for it was hard to know how to pass them. The huntsman felt the
 +      difficulty as much as I, for he rode behind them, and could make no
 +      progress toward the fox. He was a swift rider, but wanting in enterprise.
 +      For my part, I felt that it would be unworthy of the Hussars of Conflans
 +      if I could not overcome such a difficulty as this.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Was Etienne Gerard to be stopped by a herd of fox-dogs?
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      It was absurd. I gave a shout and spurred my horse.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Hold hard, sir! Hold hard!&​rdquo;​ cried the huntsman.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      He was uneasy for me, this good old man, but I reassured him by a wave and
 +      a smile. The dogs opened in front of me. One or two may have been hurt,
 +      but what would you have? The egg must be broken for the omelette. I could
 +      hear the huntsman shouting his congratulations behind me. One more effort,
 +      and the dogs were all behind me. Only the fox was in front.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Ah, the joy and pride of that moment! To know that I had beaten the
 +      English at their own sport. Here were three hundred, all thirsting for the
 +      life of this animal, and yet it was I who was about to take it. I thought
 +      of my comrades of the light cavalry brigade, of my mother, of the Emperor,
 +      of France. I had brought honour to each and all. Every instant brought me
 +      nearer to the fox. The moment for action had arrived, so I unsheathed my
 +      sabre. I waved it in the air, and the brave English all shouted behind me.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Only then did I understand how difficult is this fox chase, for one may
 +      cut again and again at the creature and never strike him once. He is
 +      small, and turns quickly from a blow. At every cut I heard those shouts of
 +      encouragement from behind me, and they spurred me to yet another effort.
 +      And then at last the supreme moment of my triumph arrived. In the very act
 +      of turning I caught him fair with such another back-handed cut as that
 +      with which I killed the aide-de-camp of the Emperor of Russia. He flew
 +      into two pieces, his head one way and his tail another. I looked back and
 +      waved the blood-stained sabre in the air. For the moment I was exalted&​mdash;​superb!
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Ah! how I should have loved to have waited to have received the
 +      congratulations of these generous enemies.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      There were fifty of them in sight, and not one who was not waving his hand
 +      and shouting. They are not really such a phlegmatic race, the English. A
 +      gallant deed in war or in sport will always warm their hearts. As to the
 +      old huntsman, he was the nearest to me, and I could see with my own eyes
 +      how overcome he was by what he had seen. He was like a man paralysed, his
 +      mouth open, his hand, with outspread fingers, raised in the air. For a
 +      moment my inclination was to return and to embrace him.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      But already the call of duty was sounding in my ears, and these English,
 +      in spite of all the fraternity which exists among sportsmen, would
 +      certainly have made me prisoner. There was no hope for my mission now, and
 +      I had done all that I could do. I could see the lines of Massena'​s camp no
 +      very great distance off, for, by a lucky chance, the chase had taken us in
 +      that direction.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      I turned from the dead fox, saluted with my sabre, and galloped away.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      But they would not leave me so easily, these gallant huntsmen. I was the
 +      fox now, and the chase swept bravely over the plain. It was only at the
 +      moment when I started for the camp that they could have known that I was a
 +      Frenchman, and now the whole swarm of them were at my heels. We were
 +      within gunshot of our pickets before they would halt, and then they stood
 +      in knots and would not go away, but shouted and waved their hands at me.
 +      No, I will not think that it was in enmity. Rather would I fancy that a
 +      glow of admiration filled their breasts, and that their one desire was to
 +      embrace the stranger who had carried himself so gallantly and well.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      <a name="​link2H_4_0005"​ id="​link2H_4_0005">​
 +      <​!-- ​ H2 anchor --> </a>
 +    </p>
 +    <div style="​height:​ 4em;">​
 +      <br /><br /><br /><br />
 +    </​div>​
 +    <h2>
 +      IV. How the Brigadier Saved the Army
 +    </h2>
 +    <p>
 +      I have told you, my friends, how we held the English shut up for six
 +      months, from October, 1810, to March, 1811, within their lines of Torres
 +      Vedras. It was during this time that I hunted the fox in their company,
 +      and showed them that amidst all their sportsmen there was not one who
 +      could outride a Hussar of Conflans. When I galloped back into the French
 +      lines with the blood of the creature still moist upon my blade the
 +      outposts who had seen what I had done raised a frenzied cry in my honour,
 +      whilst these English hunters still yelled behind me, so that I had the
 +      applause of both armies. It made the tears rise to my eyes to feel that I
 +      had won the admiration of so many brave men. These English are generous
 +      foes. That very evening there came a packet under a white flag addressed
 +      &​ldquo;​To the Hussar officer who cut down the fox.&​rdquo;​ Within, I found the fox
 +      itself in two pieces, as I had left it. There was a note also, short but
 +      hearty, as the English fashion is, to say that as I had slaughtered the
 +      fox it only remained for me to eat it. They could not know that it was not
 +      our French custom to eat foxes, and it showed their desire that he who had
 +      won the honours of the chase should also partake of the game. It is not
 +      for a Frenchman to be outdone in politeness, and so I returned it to these
 +      brave hunters, and begged them to accept it as a side-dish for their next
 +      dejeuner de la chasse.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      It is thus that chivalrous opponents make war.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      I had brought back with me from my ride a clear plan of the English lines,
 +      and this I laid before Massena that very evening.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      I had hoped that it would lead him to attack, but all the marshals were at
 +      each other'​s throats, snapping and growling like so many hungry hounds.
 +      Ney hated Massena, and Massena hated Junot, and Soult hated them all. For
 +      this reason, nothing was done. In the meantime food grew more and more
 +      scarce, and our beautiful cavalry was ruined for want of fodder. With the
 +      end of the winter we had swept the whole country bare, and nothing
 +      remained for us to eat, although we sent our forage parties far and wide.
 +      It was clear even to the bravest of us that the time had come to retreat.
 +      I was myself forced to admit it.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      But retreat was not so easy. Not only were the troops weak and exhausted
 +      from want of supplies, but the enemy had been much encouraged by our long
 +      inaction. Of Wellington we had no great fear. We had found him to be brave
 +      and cautious, but with little enterprise. Besides, in that barren country
 +      his pursuit could not be rapid.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      But on our flanks and in our rear there had gathered great numbers of
 +      Portuguese militia, of armed peasants, and of guerillas. These people had
 +      kept a safe distance all the winter, but now that our horses were
 +      foundered they were as thick as flies all round our outposts, and no man's
 +      life was worth a sou when once he fell into their hands. I could name a
 +      dozen officers of my own acquaintance who were cut off during that time,
 +      and the luckiest was he who received a ball from behind a rock through his
 +      head or his heart. There were some whose deaths were so terrible that no
 +      report of them was ever allowed to reach their relatives. So frequent were
 +      these tragedies, and so much did they impress the imagination of the men,
 +      that it became very difficult to induce them to leave the camp.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      There was one especial scoundrel, a guerilla chief named Manuelo, &​ldquo;​The
 +      Smiler,&​rdquo;​ whose exploits filled our men with horror. He was a large, fat
 +      man of jovial aspect, and he lurked with a fierce gang among the mountains
 +      which lay upon our left flank. A volume might be written of this fellow'​s
 +      cruelties and brutalities,​ but he was certainly a man of power, for he
 +      organised his brigands in a manner which made it almost impossible for us
 +      to get through his country. This he did by imposing a severe discipline
 +      upon them and enforcing it by cruel penalties, a policy by which he made
 +      them formidable, but which had some unexpected results, as I will show you
 +      in my story. Had he not flogged his own lieutenant&​mdash;​but you will hear
 +      of that when the time comes.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      There were many difficulties in connection with a retreat, but it was very
 +      evident that there was no other possible course, and so Massena began to
 +      quickly pass his baggage and his sick from Torres Novas, which was his
 +      headquarters,​ to Coimbra, the first strong post on his line of
 +      communications. He could not do this unperceived,​ however, and at once the
 +      guerillas came swarming closer and closer upon our flanks. One of our
 +      divisions, that of Clausel, with a brigade of Montbrun'​s cavalry, was far
 +      to the south of the Tagus, and it became very necessary to let them know
 +      that we were about to retreat, for otherwise they would be left
 +      unsupported in the very heart of the enemy'​s country. I remember wondering
 +      how Massena would accomplish this, for simple couriers could not get
 +      through, and small parties would be certainly destroyed. In some way an
 +      order to fall back must be conveyed to these men, or France would be the
 +      weaker by fourteen thousand men. Little did I think that it was I, Colonel
 +      Gerard, who was to have the honour of a deed which might have formed the
 +      crowning glory of any other man's life, and which stands high among those
 +      exploits which have made my own so famous.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      At that time I was serving on Massena'​s staff, and he had two other
 +      aides-de-camp,​ who were also very brave and intelligent officers. The name
 +      of one was Cortex and of the other Duplessis. They were senior to me in
 +      age, but junior in every other respect. Cortex was a small, dark man, very
 +      quick and eager. He was a fine soldier, but he was ruined by his conceit.
 +      To take him at his own valuation, he was the first man in the army.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Duplessis was a Gascon, like myself, and he was a very fine fellow, as all
 +      Gascon gentlemen are. We took it in turn, day about, to do duty, and it
 +      was Cortex who was in attendance upon the morning of which I speak. I saw
 +      him at breakfast, but afterward neither he nor his horse was to be seen.
 +      All day Massena was in his usual gloom, and he spent much of his time
 +      staring with his telescope at the English lines and at the shipping in the
 +      Tagus.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      He said nothing of the mission upon which he had sent our comrade, and it
 +      was not for us to ask him any questions.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      That night, about twelve o'​clock,​ I was standing outside the Marshal'​s
 +      headquarters when he came out and stood motionless for half an hour, his
 +      arms folded upon his breast, staring through the darkness toward the east.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      So rigid and intent was he that you might have believed the muffled figure
 +      and the cocked hat to have been the statue of the man. What he was looking
 +      for I could not imagine; but at last he gave a bitter curse, and, turning
 +      on his heel, he went back into the house, banging the door behind him.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Next day the second aide-de-camp,​ Duplessis, had an interview with Massena
 +      in the morning, after which neither he nor his horse was seen again. That
 +      night, as I sat in the ante-room, the Marshal passed me, and I observed
 +      him through the window standing and staring to the east exactly as he had
 +      done before. For fully half an hour he remained there, a black shadow in
 +      the gloom.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Then he strode in, the door banged, and I heard his spurs and his scabbard
 +      jingling and clanking through the passage. At the best he was a savage old
 +      man, but when he was crossed I had almost as soon face the Emperor
 +      himself. I heard him that night cursing and stamping above my head, but he
 +      did not send for me, and I knew him too well to go unsought.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Next morning it was my turn, for I was the only aide-de-camp left. I was
 +      his favourite aide-de-camp. His heart went out always to a smart soldier.
 +      I declare that I think there were tears in his black eyes when he sent for
 +      me that morning.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Gerard,&​rdquo;​ said he. &​ldquo;​Come here!&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      With a friendly gesture he took me by the sleeve and he led me to the open
 +      window which faced the east. Beneath us was the infantry camp, and beyond
 +      that the lines of the cavalry with the long rows of picketed horses.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      We could see the French outposts, and then a stretch of open country,
 +      intersected by vineyards. A range of hills lay beyond, with one
 +      well-marked peak towering above them. Round the base of these hills was a
 +      broad belt of forest. A single road ran white and clear, dipping and
 +      rising until it passed through a gap in the hills.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​This,&​rdquo;​ said Massena, pointing to the mountain, &​ldquo;​is the Sierra de Merodal.
 +      Do you perceive anything upon the top?&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      I answered that I did not.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Now?&​rdquo;​ he asked, and he handed me his field-glass.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      With its aid I perceived a small mound or cairn upon the crest.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​What you see,&​rdquo;​ said the Marshal, &​ldquo;​is a pile of logs which was placed
 +      there as a beacon. We laid it when the country was in our hands, and now,
 +      although we no longer hold it, the beacon remains undisturbed. Gerard,
 +      that beacon must be lit to-night. France needs it, the Emperor needs it,
 +      the army needs it. Two of your comrades have gone to light it, but neither
 +      has made his way to the summit. To-day it is your turn, and I pray that
 +      you may have better luck.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      It is not for a soldier to ask the reason for his orders, and so I was
 +      about to hurry from the room, but the Marshal laid his hand upon my
 +      shoulder and held me.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​You shall know all, and so learn how high is the cause for which you risk
 +      your life,&​rdquo;​ said he. &​ldquo;​Fifty miles to the south of us, on the other side of
 +      the Tagus, is the army of General Clausel. His camp is situated near a
 +      peak named the Sierra d'​Ossa. On the summit of this peak is a beacon, and
 +      by this beacon he has a picket. It is agreed between us that when at
 +      midnight he shall see our signal-fire he shall light his own as an answer,
 +      and shall then at once fall back upon the main army. If he does not start
 +      at once I must go without him. For two days I have endeavoured to send him
 +      his message. It must reach him to-day, or his army will be left behind and
 +      destroyed.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      Ah, my friends, how my heart swelled when I heard how high was the task
 +      which Fortune had assigned to me!
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      If my life were spared, here was one more splendid new leaf for my laurel
 +      crown. If, on the other hand, I died, then it would be a death worthy of
 +      such a career. I said nothing, but I cannot doubt that all the noble
 +      thoughts that were in me shone in my face, for Massena took my hand and
 +      wrung it.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​There is the hill and there the beacon,&​rdquo;​ said he.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​There is only this guerilla and his men between you and it. I cannot
 +      detach a large party for the enterprise and a small one would be seen and
 +      destroyed. Therefore to you alone I commit it. Carry it out in your own
 +      way, but at twelve o'​clock this night let me see the fire upon the hill.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​If it is not there,&​rdquo;​ said I, &​ldquo;​then I pray you, Marshal Massena, to see
 +      that my effects are sold and the money sent to my mother.&​rdquo;​ So I raised my
 +      hand to my busby and turned upon my heel, my heart glowing at the thought
 +      of the great exploit which lay before me.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      I sat in my own chamber for some little time considering how I had best
 +      take the matter in hand. The fact that neither Cortex nor Duplessis, who
 +      were very zealous and active officers, had succeeded in reaching the
 +      summit of the Sierra de Merodal, showed that the country was very closely
 +      watched by the guerillas. I reckoned out the distance upon a map. There
 +      were ten miles of open country to be crossed before reaching the hills.
 +      Then came a belt of forest on the lower slopes of the mountain, which may
 +      have been three or four miles wide. And then there was the actual peak
 +      itself, of no very great height, but without any cover to conceal me.
 +      Those were the three stages of my journey.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      It seemed to me that once I had reached the shelter of the wood all would
 +      be easy, for I could lie concealed within its shadows and climb upward
 +      under the cover of night.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      From eight till twelve would give me four hours of darkness in which to
 +      make the ascent. It was only the first stage, then, which I had seriously
 +      to consider.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Over that flat country there lay the inviting white road, and I remembered
 +      that my comrades had both taken their horses. That was clearly their ruin,
 +      for nothing could be easier than for the brigands to keep watch upon the
 +      road, and to lay an ambush for all who passed along it. It would not be
 +      difficult for me to ride across country, and I was well horsed at that
 +      time, for I had not only Violette and Rataplan, who were two of the finest
 +      mounts in the army, but I had the splendid black English hunter which I
 +      had taken from Sir Cotton. However, after much thought, I determined to go
 +      upon foot, since I should then be in a better state to take advantage of
 +      any chance which might offer. As to my dress, I covered my Hussar uniform
 +      with a long cloak, and I put a grey forage cap upon my head. You may ask
 +      me why I did not dress as a peasant, but I answer that a man of honour has
 +      no desire to die the death of a spy. It is one thing to be murdered, and
 +      it is another to be justly executed by the laws of war. I would not run
 +      the risk of such an end.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      In the late afternoon I stole out of the camp and passed through the line
 +      of our pickets. Beneath my cloak I had a field-glass and a pocket pistol,
 +      as well as my sword. In my pocket were tinder, flint, and steel.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      For two or three miles I kept under cover of the vineyards, and made such
 +      good progress that my heart was high within me, and I thought to myself
 +      that it only needed a man of some brains to take the matter in hand to
 +      bring it easily to success. Of course, Cortex and Duplessis galloping down
 +      the high-road would be easily seen, but the intelligent Gerard lurking
 +      among the vines was quite another person. I dare say I had got as far as
 +      five miles before I met any check. At that point there is a small
 +      wine-house, round which I perceived some carts and a number of people, the
 +      first that I had seen. Now that I was well outside the lines I knew that
 +      every person was my enemy, so I crouched lower while I stole along to a
 +      point from which I could get a better view of what was going on. I then
 +      perceived that these people were peasants, who were loading two waggons
 +      with empty wine-casks. I failed to see how they could either help or
 +      hinder me, so I continued upon my way.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      But soon I understood that my task was not so simple as had appeared. As
 +      the ground rose the vineyards ceased, and I came upon a stretch of open
 +      country studded with low hills. Crouching in a ditch I examined them with
 +      a glass, and I very soon perceived that there was a watcher upon every one
 +      of them, and that these people had a line of pickets and outposts thrown
 +      forward exactly like our own. I had heard of the discipline which was
 +      practised by this scoundrel whom they called &​ldquo;​The Smiler,&​rdquo;​ and this, no
 +      doubt, was an example of it.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Between the hills there was a cordon of sentries, and though I worked some
 +      distance round to the flank I still found myself faced by the enemy. It
 +      was a puzzle what to do.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      There was so little cover that a rat could hardly cross without being
 +      seen. Of course, it would be easy enough to slip through at night, as I
 +      had done with the English at Torres Vedras, but I was still far from the
 +      mountain and I could not in that case reach it in time to light the
 +      midnight beacon. I lay in my ditch and I made a thousand plans, each more
 +      dangerous than the last. And then suddenly I had that flash of light which
 +      comes to the brave man who refuses to despair.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      You remember I have mentioned that two waggons were loading up with empty
 +      casks at the inn. The heads of the oxen were turned to the east, and it
 +      was evident that those waggons were going in the direction which I
 +      desired. Could I only conceal myself upon one of them, what better and
 +      easier way could I find of passing through the lines of the guerillas? So
 +      simple and so good was the plan that I could not restrain a cry of delight
 +      as it crossed my mind, and I hurried away instantly in the direction of
 +      the inn. There, from behind some bushes, I had a good look at what was
 +      going on upon the road.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      There were three peasants with red montero caps loading the barrels, and
 +      they had completed one waggon and the lower tier of the other. A number of
 +      empty barrels still lay outside the wine-house waiting to be put on.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Fortune was my friend&​mdash;​I have always said that she is a woman and
 +      cannot resist a dashing young Hussar. As I watched, the three fellows went
 +      into the inn, for the day was hot and they were thirsty after their
 +      labour. Quick as a flash I darted out from my hiding-place,​ climbed on to
 +      the waggon, and crept into one of the empty casks.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      It had a bottom but no top, and it lay upon its side with the open end
 +      inward. There I crouched like a dog in its kennel, my knees drawn up to my
 +      chin, for the barrels were not very large and I am a well-grown man. As I
 +      lay there, out came the three peasants again, and presently I heard a
 +      crash upon the top of me which told that I had another barrel above me.
 +      They piled them upon the cart until I could not imagine how I was ever to
 +      get out again. However, it is time to think of crossing the Vistula when
 +      you are over the Rhine, and I had no doubt that if chance and my own wits
 +      had carried me so far they would carry me farther.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Soon, when the waggon was full, they set forth upon their way, and I
 +      within my barrel chuckled at every step, for it was carrying me whither I
 +      wished to go. We travelled slowly, and the peasants walked beside the
 +      waggons.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      This I knew, because I heard their voices close to me. They seemed to me
 +      to be very merry fellows, for they laughed heartily as they went. What the
 +      joke was I could not understand. Though I speak their language fairly well
 +      I could not hear anything comic in the scraps of their conversation which
 +      met my ear.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      I reckoned that at the rate of walking of a team of oxen we covered about
 +      two miles an hour. Therefore, when I was sure that two and a half hours
 +      had passed&​mdash;​such hours, my friends, cramped, suffocated, and nearly
 +      poisoned with the fumes of the lees&​mdash;​when they had passed, I was sure
 +      that the dangerous open country was behind us, and that we were upon the
 +      edge of the forest and the mountain. So now I had to turn my mind upon how
 +      I was to get out of my barrel. I had thought of several ways, and was
 +      balancing one against the other when the question was decided for me in a
 +      very simple but unexpected manner.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      The waggon stopped suddenly with a jerk, and I heard a number of gruff
 +      voices in excited talk. &​ldquo;​Where,​ where?&​rdquo;​ cried one. &​ldquo;​On our cart,&​rdquo;​ said
 +      another. &​ldquo;​Who is he?&​rdquo;​ said a third. &​ldquo;​A French officer; I saw his cap and
 +      his boots.&​rdquo;​ They all roared with laughter. &​ldquo;​I was looking out of the
 +      window of the posada and I saw him spring into the cask like a toreador
 +      with a Seville bull at his heels.&​rdquo;​ &​ldquo;​Which cask, then?&​rdquo;​ &​ldquo;​It was this one,&​rdquo;​
 +       said the fellow, and sure enough his fist struck the wood beside my head.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      What a situation, my friends, for a man of my standing!
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      I blush now, after forty years, when I think of it.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      To be trussed like a fowl and to listen helplessly to the rude laughter of
 +      these boors&​mdash;​to know, too, that my mission had come to an ignominious
 +      and even ridiculous end&​mdash;​I would have blessed the man who would have
 +      sent a bullet through the cask and freed me from my misery.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      I heard the crashing of the barrels as they hurled them off the waggon,
 +      and then a couple of bearded faces and the muzzles of two guns looked in
 +      at me. They seized me by the sleeves of my coat, and they dragged me out
 +      into the daylight. A strange figure I must have looked as I stood blinking
 +      and gaping in the blinding sunlight.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      My body was bent like a cripple'​s,​ for I could not straighten my stiff
 +      joints, and half my coat was as red as an English soldier'​s from the lees
 +      in which I had lain.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      They laughed and laughed, these dogs, and as I tried to express by my
 +      bearing and gestures the contempt in which I held them their laughter grew
 +      all the louder. But even in these hard circumstances I bore myself like
 +      the man I am, and as I cast my eye slowly round I did not find that any of
 +      the laughers were very ready to face it.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      That one glance round was enough to tell me exactly how I was situated. I
 +      had been betrayed by these peasants into the hands of an outpost of
 +      guerillas. There were eight of them, savage-looking,​ hairy creatures, with
 +      cotton handkerchiefs under their sombreros, and many-buttoned jackets with
 +      coloured sashes round the waist.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Each had a gun and one or two pistols stuck in his girdle.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      The leader, a great, bearded ruffian, held his gun against my ear while
 +      the others searched my pockets, taking from me my overcoat, my pistol, my
 +      glass, my sword, and, worst of all, my flint and steel and tinder. Come
 +      what might, I was ruined, for I had no longer the means of lighting the
 +      beacon even if I should reach it.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Eight of them, my friends, with three peasants, and I unarmed! Was Etienne
 +      Gerard in despair? Did he lose his wits? Ah, you know me too well; but
 +      they did not know me yet, these dogs of brigands. Never have I made so
 +      supreme and astounding an effort as at this very instant when all seemed
 +      lost. Yet you might guess many times before you would hit upon the device
 +      by which I escaped them. Listen and I will tell you.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      They had dragged me from the waggon when they searched me, and I stood,
 +      still twisted and warped, in the midst of them. But the stiffness was
 +      wearing off, and already my mind was very actively looking out for some
 +      method of breaking away. It was a narrow pass in which the brigands had
 +      their outpost. It was bounded on the one hand by a steep mountain side. On
 +      the other the ground fell away in a very long slope, which ended in a
 +      bushy valley many hundreds of feet below. These fellows, you understand,
 +      were hardy mountaineers,​ who could travel either up hill or down very much
 +      quicker than I. They wore abarcas, or shoes of skin, tied on like sandals,
 +      which gave them a foothold everywhere. A less resolute man would have
 +      despaired. But in an instant I saw and used the strange chance which
 +      Fortune had placed in my way. On the very edge of the slope was one of the
 +      wine-barrels. I moved slowly toward it, and then with a tiger spring I
 +      dived into it feet foremost, and with a roll of my body I tipped it over
 +      the side of the hill.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Shall I ever forget that dreadful journey&​mdash;​how I bounded and crashed
 +      and whizzed down that terrible slope? I had dug in my knees and elbows,
 +      bunching my body into a compact bundle so as to steady it; but my head
 +      projected from the end, and it was a marvel that I did not dash out my
 +      brains. There were long, smooth slopes, and then came steeper scarps where
 +      the barrel ceased to roll, and sprang into the air like a goat, coming
 +      down with a rattle and crash which jarred every bone in my body. How the
 +      wind whistled in my ears, and my head turned and turned until I was sick
 +      and giddy and nearly senseless! Then, with a swish and a great rasping and
 +      crackling of branches, I reached the bushes which I had seen so far below
 +      me. Through them I broke my way, down a slope beyond, and deep into
 +      another patch of underwood, where, striking a sapling, my barrel flew to
 +      pieces. From amid a heap of staves and hoops I crawled out, my body aching
 +      in every inch of it, but my heart singing loudly with joy and my spirit
 +      high within me, for I knew how great was the feat which I had
 +      accomplished,​ and I already seemed to see the beacon blazing on the hill.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      A horrible nausea had seized me from the tossing which I had undergone,
 +      and I felt as I did upon the ocean when first I experienced those
 +      movements of which the English have taken so perfidious an advantage. I
 +      had to sit for a few moments with my head upon my hands beside the ruins
 +      of my barrel. But there was no time for rest.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Already I heard shouts above me which told that my pursuers were
 +      descending the hill. I dashed into the thickest part of the underwood, and
 +      I ran and ran until I was utterly exhausted. Then I lay panting and
 +      listened with all my ears, but no sound came to them. I had shaken off my
 +      enemies.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      When I had recovered my breath I travelled swiftly on, and waded knee-deep
 +      through several brooks, for it came into my head that they might follow me
 +      with dogs.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      On gaining a clear place and looking round me, I found to my delight that
 +      in spite of my adventures I had not been much out of my way. Above me
 +      towered the peak of Merodal, with its bare and bold summit shooting out of
 +      the groves of dwarf oaks which shrouded its flanks.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      These groves were the continuation of the cover under which I found
 +      myself, and it seemed to me that I had nothing to fear now until I reached
 +      the other side of the forest. At the same time I knew that every man's
 +      hand was against me, that I was unarmed, and that there were many people
 +      about me. I saw no one, but several times I heard shrill whistles, and
 +      once the sound of a gun in the distance.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      It was hard work pushing one's way through the bushes, and so I was glad
 +      when I came to the larger trees and found a path which led between them.
 +      Of course, I was too wise to walk upon it, but I kept near it and followed
 +      its course. I had gone some distance, and had, as I imagined, nearly
 +      reached the limit of the wood, when a strange, moaning sound fell upon my
 +      ears. At first I thought it was the cry of some animal, but then there
 +      came words, of which I only caught the French exclamation,​ &​ldquo;​Mon Dieu!&​rdquo;​
 +       With great caution I advanced in the direction from which the sound
 +      proceeded, and this is what I saw.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      On a couch of dried leaves there was stretched a man dressed in the same
 +      grey uniform which I wore myself.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      He was evidently horribly wounded, for he held a cloth to his breast which
 +      was crimson with his blood. A pool had formed all round his couch, and he
 +      lay in a haze of flies, whose buzzing and droning would certainly have
 +      called my attention if his groans had not come to my ear.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      I lay for a moment, fearing some trap, and then, my pity and loyalty
 +      rising above all other feelings, I ran forward and knelt by his side. He
 +      turned a haggard face upon me, and it was Duplessis, the man who had gone
 +      before me. It needed but one glance at his sunken cheeks and glazing eyes
 +      to tell me that he was dying.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Gerard!&​rdquo;​ said he; &​ldquo;​Gerard!&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      I could but look my sympathy, but he, though the life was ebbing swiftly
 +      out of him, still kept his duty before him, like the gallant gentleman he
 +      was.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​The beacon, Gerard! You will light it?&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Have you flint and steel?&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​It is here!&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Then I will light it to-night.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​I die happy to hear you say so. They shot me, Gerard. But you will tell
 +      the Marshal that I did my best.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​And Cortex?&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​He was less fortunate. He fell into their hands and died horribly. If you
 +      see that you cannot get away, Gerard, put a bullet into your own heart.
 +      Don't die as Cortex did.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      I could see that his breath was failing, and I bent low to catch his
 +      words.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Can you tell me anything which can help me in my task?&​rdquo;​ I asked.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Yes,​ yes; de Pombal. He will help you. Trust de Pombal.&​rdquo;​ With the words
 +      his head fell back and he was dead.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Trust de Pombal. It is good advice.&​rdquo;​ To my amazement a man was standing
 +      at the very side of me.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      So absorbed had I been in my comrade'​s words and intent on his advice that
 +      he had crept up without my observing him. Now I sprang to my feet and
 +      faced him. He was a tall, dark fellow, black-haired,​ black-eyed,
 +      black-bearded,​ with a long, sad face. In his hand he had a wine-bottle and
 +      over his shoulder was slung one of the trabucos or blunderbusses which
 +      these fellows bear. He made no effort to unsling it, and I understood that
 +      this was the man to whom my dead friend had commended me.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Alas,​ he is gone!&​rdquo;​ said he, bending over Duplessis.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​He fled into the wood after he was shot, but I was fortunate enough to
 +      find where he had fallen and to make his last hours more easy. This couch
 +      was my making, and I had brought this wine to slake his thirst.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Sir,&​rdquo;​ said I, &​ldquo;​in the name of France I thank you. I am but a colonel of
 +      light cavalry, but I am Etienne Gerard, and the name stands for something
 +      in the French army. May I ask&​mdash;&​mdash;&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Yes,​ sir, I am Aloysius de Pombal, younger brother of the famous nobleman
 +      of that name. At present I am the first lieutenant in the band of the
 +      guerilla chief who is usually known as Manuelo, 'The Smiler.'&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      My word, I clapped my hand to the place where my pistol should have been,
 +      but the man only smiled at the gesture.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​I am his first lieutenant, but I am also his deadly enemy,&​rdquo;​ said he. He
 +      slipped off his jacket and pulled up his shirt as he spoke. &​ldquo;​Look at
 +      this!&​rdquo;​ he cried, and he turned upon me a back which was all scored and
 +      lacerated with red and purple weals. &​ldquo;​This is what 'The Smiler'​ has done
 +      to me, a man with the noblest blood of Portugal in my veins. What I will
 +      do to 'The Smiler'​ you have still to see.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      There was such fury in his eyes and in the grin of his white teeth that I
 +      could no longer doubt his truth, with that clotted and oozing back to
 +      corroborate his words.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​I have ten men sworn to stand by me,&​rdquo;​ said he. &​ldquo;​In a few days I hope to
 +      join your army, when I have done my work here. In the meanwhile&​mdash;&​rdquo;​ A
 +      strange change came over his face, and he suddenly slung his musket to the
 +      front: &​ldquo;​Hold up your hands, you French hound!&​rdquo;​ he yelled. &​ldquo;​Up with them,
 +      or I blow your head of!&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      You start, my friends! You stare! Think, then, how I stared and started at
 +      this sudden ending of our talk.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      There was the black muzzle and there the dark, angry eyes behind it. What
 +      could I do? I was helpless. I raised my hands in the air. At the same
 +      moment voices sounded from all parts of the wood, there were crying and
 +      calling and rushing of many feet. A swarm of dreadful figures broke
 +      through the green bushes, a dozen hands seized me, and I, poor, luckless,
 +      frenzied I, was a prisoner once more. Thank God, there was no pistol which
 +      I could have plucked from my belt and snapped at my own head. Had I been
 +      armed at that moment I should not be sitting here in this cafe and telling
 +      you these old-world tales.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      With grimy, hairy hands clutching me on every side I was led along the
 +      pathway through the wood, the villain de Pombal giving directions to my
 +      captors. Four of the brigands carried up the dead body of Duplessis.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      The shadows of evening were already falling when we cleared the forest and
 +      came out upon the mountain-side.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Up this I was driven until we reached the headquarters of the guerillas,
 +      which lay in a cleft close to the summit of the mountain. There was the
 +      beacon which had cost me so much, a square stack of wood, immediately
 +      above our heads. Below were two or three huts which had belonged, no
 +      doubt, to goatherds, and which were now used to shelter these rascals.
 +      Into one of these I was cast, bound and helpless, and the dead body of my
 +      poor comrade was laid beside me.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      I was lying there with the one thought still consuming me, how to wait a
 +      few hours and to get at that pile of fagots above my head, when the door
 +      of my prison opened and a man entered. Had my hands been free I should
 +      have flown at his throat, for it was none other than de Pombal. A couple
 +      of brigands were at his heels, but he ordered them back and closed the
 +      door behind him.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​You villain!&​rdquo;​ said I.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Hush!&​rdquo;​ he cried. &​ldquo;​Speak low, for I do not know who may be listening, and
 +      my life is at stake. I have some words to say to you, Colonel Gerard; I
 +      wish well to you, as I did to your dead companion. As I spoke to you
 +      beside his body I saw that we were surrounded, and that your capture was
 +      unavoidable. I should have shared your fate had I hesitated. I instantly
 +      captured you myself, so as to preserve the confidence of the band. Your
 +      own sense will tell you that there was nothing else for me to do. I do not
 +      know now whether I can save you, but at least I will try.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      This was a new light upon the situation. I told him that I could not tell
 +      how far he spoke the truth, but that I would judge him by his actions.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​I ask nothing better,&​rdquo;​ said he. &​ldquo;​A word of advice to you! The chief will
 +      see you now. Speak him fair, or he will have you sawn between two planks.
 +      Contradict nothing he says. Give him such information as he wants. It is
 +      your only chance. If you can gain time something may come in our favour.
 +      Now, I have no more time. Come at once, or suspicion may be awakened.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      He helped me to rise, and then, opening the door, he dragged me out very
 +      roughly, and with the aid of the fellows outside he brutally pushed and
 +      thrust me to the place where the guerilla chief was seated, with his rude
 +      followers gathered round him.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      A remarkable man was Manuelo, &​ldquo;​The Smiler.&​rdquo;​ He was fat and florid and
 +      comfortable,​ with a big, clean-shaven face and a bald head, the very model
 +      of a kindly father of a family. As I looked at his honest smile I could
 +      scarcely believe that this was, indeed, the infamous ruffian whose name
 +      was a horror through the English Army as well as our own. It is well known
 +      that Trent, who was a British officer, afterward had the fellow hanged for
 +      his brutalities. He sat upon a boulder and he beamed upon me like one who
 +      meets an old acquaintance.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      I observed, however, that one of his men leaned upon a long saw, and the
 +      sight was enough to cure me of all delusions.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Good evening, Colonel Gerard,&​rdquo;​ said he. &​ldquo;​We have been highly honoured by
 +      General Massena'​s staff: Major Cortex one day, Colonel Duplessis the next,
 +      and now Colonel Gerard. Possibly the Marshal himself may be induced to
 +      honour us with a visit. You have seen Duplessis, I understand. Cortex you
 +      will find nailed to a tree down yonder. It only remains to be decided how
 +      we can best dispose of yourself.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      It was not a cheering speech; but all the time his fat face was wreathed
 +      in smiles, and he lisped out his words in the most mincing and amiable
 +      fashion. Now, however, he suddenly leaned forward, and I read a very real
 +      intensity in his eyes.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Colonel Gerard,&​rdquo;​ said he, &​ldquo;​I cannot promise you your life, for it is not
 +      our custom, but I can give you an easy death or I can give you a terrible
 +      one. Which shall it be?&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​What do you wish me to do in exchange?&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​If you would die easy I ask you to give me truthful answers to the
 +      questions which I ask.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      A sudden thought flashed through my mind.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​You wish to kill me,&​rdquo;​ said I; &​ldquo;​it cannot matter to you how I die. If I
 +      answer your questions, will you let me choose the manner of my own death?&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Yes,​ I will,&​rdquo;​ said he, &​ldquo;​so long as it is before midnight to-night.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Swear it!&​rdquo;​ I cried.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​The word of a Portuguese gentleman is sufficient,&​rdquo;​ said he.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Not a word will I say until you have sworn it.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      He flushed with anger and his eyes swept round toward the saw. But he
 +      understood from my tone that I meant what I said, and that I was not a man
 +      to be bullied into submission. He pulled a cross from under his zammara or
 +      jacket of black sheepskin.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​I swear it,&​rdquo;​ said he.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Oh, my joy as I heard the words! What an end&​mdash;​what an end for the
 +      first swordsman of France! I could have laughed with delight at the
 +      thought.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Now,​ your questions!&​rdquo;​ said I.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​You swear in turn to answer them truly?&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​I do, upon the honour of a gentleman and a soldier.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      It was, as you perceive, a terrible thing that I promised, but what was it
 +      compared to what I might gain by compliance?
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​This is a very fair and a very interesting bargain,&​rdquo;​ said he, taking a
 +      note-book from his pocket.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Would you kindly turn your gaze toward the French camp?&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      Following the direction of his gesture, I turned and looked down upon the
 +      camp in the plain beneath us. In spite of the fifteen miles, one could in
 +      that clear atmosphere see every detail with the utmost distinctness.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      There were the long squares of our tents and our huts, with the cavalry
 +      lines and the dark patches which marked the ten batteries of artillery.
 +      How sad to think of my magnificent regiment waiting down yonder, and to
 +      know that they would never see their colonel again! With one squadron of
 +      them I could have swept all these cut-throats off the face of the earth.
 +      My eager eyes filled with tears as I looked at the corner of the camp
 +      where I knew that there were eight hundred men, any one of whom would have
 +      died for his colonel. But my sadness vanished when I saw beyond the tents
 +      the plumes of smoke which marked the headquarters at Torres Novas. There
 +      was Massena, and, please God, at the cost of my life his mission would
 +      that night be done. A spasm of pride and exultation filled my breast. I
 +      should have liked to have had a voice of thunder that I might call to
 +      them, &​ldquo;​Behold it is I, Etienne Gerard, who will die in order to save the
 +      army of Clausel!&​rdquo;​ It was, indeed, sad to think that so noble a deed should
 +      be done, and that no one should be there to tell the tale.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Now,&​rdquo;​ said the brigand chief, &​ldquo;​you see the camp and you see also the road
 +      which leads to Coimbra. It is crowded with your fourgons and your
 +      ambulances. Does this mean that Massena is about to retreat?&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      One could see the dark moving lines of waggons with an occasional flash of
 +      steel from the escort. There could, apart from my promise, be no
 +      indiscretion in admitting that which was already obvious.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​He will retreat,&​rdquo;​ said I.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​By Coimbra?&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​I believe so.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​But the army of Clausel?&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      I shrugged my shoulders.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Every path to the south is blocked. No message can reach them. If Massena
 +      falls back the army of Clausel is doomed.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​It must take its chance,&​rdquo;​ said I.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​How many men has he?&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​I should say about fourteen thousand.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​How much cavalry?&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​One brigade of Montbrun'​s Division.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​What regiments?&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​The 4th Chasseurs, the 9th Hussars, and a regiment of Cuirassiers.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Quite right,&​rdquo;​ said he, looking at his note-book. &​ldquo;​I can tell you speak
 +      the truth, and Heaven help you if you don'​t.&​rdquo;​ Then, division by division,
 +      he went over the whole army, asking the composition of each brigade.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Need I tell you that I would have had my tongue torn out before I would
 +      have told him such things had I not a greater end in view? I would let him
 +      know all if I could but save the army of Clausel.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      At last he closed his note-book and replaced it in his pocket. &​ldquo;​I am
 +      obliged to you for this information,​ which shall reach Lord Wellington
 +      to-morrow,&​rdquo;​ said he.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​You have done your share of the bargain; it is for me now to perform
 +      mine. How would you wish to die? As a soldier you would, no doubt, prefer
 +      to be shot, but some think that a jump over the Merodal precipice is
 +      really an easier death. A good few have taken it, but we were,
 +      unfortunately,​ never able to get an opinion from them afterward. There is
 +      the saw, too, which does not appear to be popular. We could hang you, no
 +      doubt, but it would involve the inconvenience of going down to the wood.
 +      However, a promise is a promise, and you seem to be an excellent fellow,
 +      so we will spare no pains to meet your wishes.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​You said,&​rdquo;​ I answered, &​ldquo;​that I must die before midnight. I will choose,
 +      therefore, just one minute before that hour.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Very good,&​rdquo;​ said he. &​ldquo;​Such clinging to life is rather childish, but your
 +      wishes shall be met.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​As to the method,&​rdquo;​ I added, &​ldquo;​I love a death which all the world can see.
 +      Put me on yonder pile of fagots and burn me alive, as saints and martyrs
 +      have been burned before me. That is no common end, but one which an
 +      Emperor might envy.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      The idea seemed to amuse him very much. &​ldquo;​Why not?&​rdquo;​ said he. &​ldquo;​If Massena
 +      has sent you to spy upon us, he may guess what the fire upon the mountain
 +      means.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Exactly,&​rdquo;​ said I. &​ldquo;​You have hit upon my very reason. He will guess, and
 +      all will know, that I have died a soldier'​s death.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​I see no objection whatever,&​rdquo;​ said the brigand, with his abominable
 +      smile. &​ldquo;​I will send some goat's flesh and wine into your hut. The sun is
 +      sinking and it is nearly eight o'​clock. In four hours be ready for your
 +      end.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      It was a beautiful world to be leaving. I looked at the golden haze below,
 +      where the last rays of the sinking sun shone upon the blue waters of the
 +      winding Tagus and gleamed upon the white sails of the English transports.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Very beautiful it was, and very sad to leave; but there are things more
 +      beautiful than that. The death that is died for the sake of others,
 +      honour, and duty, and loyalty, and love&​mdash;​these are the beauties far
 +      brighter than any which the eye can see. My breast was filled with
 +      admiration for my own most noble conduct, and with wonder whether any soul
 +      would ever come to know how I had placed myself in the heart of the beacon
 +      which saved the army of Clausel. I hoped so and I prayed so, for what a
 +      consolation it would be to my mother, what an example to the army, what a
 +      pride to my Hussars! When de Pombal came at last into my hut with the food
 +      and the wine, the first request I made him was that he would write an
 +      account of my death and send it to the French camp.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      He answered not a word, but I ate my supper with a better appetite from
 +      the thought that my glorious fate would not be altogether unknown.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      I had been there about two hours when the door opened again, and the chief
 +      stood looking in. I was in darkness, but a brigand with a torch stood
 +      beside him, and I saw his eyes and his teeth gleaming as he peered at me.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Ready?&​rdquo;​ he asked.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​It is not yet time.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​You stand out for the last minute?&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​A promise is a promise.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Very good. Be it so. We have a little justice to do among ourselves, for
 +      one of my fellows has been misbehaving. We have a strict rule of our own
 +      which is no respecter of persons, as de Pombal here could tell you. Do you
 +      truss him and lay him on the faggots, de Pombal, and I will return to see
 +      him die.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      De Pombal and the man with the torch entered, while I heard the steps of
 +      the chief passing away. De Pombal closed the door.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Colonel Gerard,&​rdquo;​ said he, &​ldquo;​you must trust this man, for he is one of my
 +      party. It is neck or nothing. We may save you yet. But I take a great
 +      risk, and I want a definite promise. If we save you, will you guarantee
 +      that we have a friendly reception in the French camp and that all the past
 +      will be forgotten?&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​I do guarantee it.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​And I trust your honour. Now, quick, quick, there is not an instant to
 +      lose! If this monster returns we shall die horribly, all three.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      I stared in amazement at what he did. Catching up a long rope he wound it
 +      round the body of my dead comrade, and he tied a cloth round his mouth so
 +      as to almost cover his face.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Do you lie there!&​rdquo;​ he cried, and he laid me in the place of the dead
 +      body. &​ldquo;​I have four of my men waiting, and they will place this upon the
 +      beacon.&​rdquo;​ He opened the door and gave an order. Several of the brigands
 +      entered and bore out Duplessis. For myself I remained upon the floor, with
 +      my mind in a turmoil of hope and wonder.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Five minutes later de Pombal and his men were back.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​You are laid upon the beacon,&​rdquo;​ said he; &​ldquo;​I defy anyone in the world to
 +      say it is not you, and you are so gagged and bound that no one can expect
 +      you to speak or move. Now, it only remains to carry forth the body of
 +      Duplessis and to toss it over the Merodal precipice.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      Two of them seized me by the head and two by the heels, and carried me,
 +      stiff and inert, from the hut. As I came into the open air I could have
 +      cried out in my amazement. The moon had risen above the beacon, and there,
 +      clear outlined against its silver light, was the figure of the man
 +      stretched upon the top. The brigands were either in their camp or standing
 +      round the beacon, for none of them stopped or questioned our little party.
 +      De Pombal led them in the direction of the precipice. At the brow we were
 +      out of sight, and there I was allowed to use my feet once more. De Pombal
 +      pointed to a narrow, winding track.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​This is the way down,&​rdquo;​ said he, and then, suddenly,
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Dios mio, what is that?&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      A terrible cry had risen out of the woods beneath us.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      I saw that de Pombal was shivering like a frightened horse.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​It is that devil,&​rdquo;​ he whispered. &​ldquo;​He is treating another as he treated
 +      me. But on, on, for Heaven help us if he lays his hands upon us.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      One by one we crawled down the narrow goat track.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      At the bottom of the cliff we were back in the woods once more. Suddenly a
 +      yellow glare shone above us, and the black shadows of the tree-trunks
 +      started out in front.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      They had fired the beacon behind us. Even from where we stood we could see
 +      that impassive body amid the flames, and the black figures of the
 +      guerillas as they danced, howling like cannibals, round the pile. Ha! how
 +      I shook my fist at them, the dogs, and how I vowed that one day my Hussars
 +      and I would make the reckoning level!
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      De Pombal knew how the outposts were placed and all the paths which led
 +      through the forest. But to avoid these villains we had to plunge among the
 +      hills and walk for many a weary mile. And yet how gladly would I have
 +      walked those extra leagues if only for one sight which they brought to my
 +      eyes! It may have been two o'​clock in the morning when we halted upon the
 +      bare shoulder of a hill over which our path curled. Looking back we saw
 +      the red glow of the embers of the beacon as if volcanic fires were
 +      bursting from the tall peak of Merodal. And then, as I gazed, I saw
 +      something else&​mdash;​something which caused me to shriek with joy and to
 +      fall upon the ground, rolling in my delight. For, far away upon the
 +      southern horizon, there winked and twinkled one great yellow light,
 +      throbbing and flaming, the light of no house, the light of no star, but
 +      the answering beacon of Mount d'​Ossa,​ which told that the army of Clausel
 +      knew what Etienne Gerard had been sent to tell them.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      <a name="​link2H_4_0006"​ id="​link2H_4_0006">​
 +      <​!-- ​ H2 anchor --> </a>
 +    </p>
 +    <div style="​height:​ 4em;">​
 +      <br /><br /><br /><br />
 +    </​div>​
 +    <h2>
 +      V. How the Brigadier Triumphed in England
 +    </h2>
 +    <p>
 +      I have told you, my friends, how I triumphed over the English at the
 +      fox-hunt when I pursued the animal so fiercely that even the herd of
 +      trained dogs was unable to keep up, and alone with my own hand I put him
 +      to the sword. Perhaps I have said too much of the matter, but there is a
 +      thrill in the triumphs of sport which even warfare cannot give, for in
 +      warfare you share your successes with your regiment and your army, but in
 +      sport it is you yourself unaided who have won the laurels. It is an
 +      advantage which the English have over us that in all classes they take
 +      great interest in every form of sport. It may be that they are richer than
 +      we, or it may be that they are more idle: but I was surprised when I was a
 +      prisoner in that country to observe how widespread was this feeling, and
 +      how much it filled the minds and the lives of the people. A horse that
 +      will run, a cock that will fight, a dog that will kill rats, a man that
 +      will box&​mdash;​they would turn away from the Emperor in all his glory in
 +      order to look upon any of these.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      I could tell you many stories of English sport, for I saw much of it
 +      during the time that I was the guest of Lord Rufton, after the order for
 +      my exchange had come to England. There were months before I could be sent
 +      back to France, and during this time I stayed with this good Lord Rufton
 +      at his beautiful house of High Combe, which is at the northern end of
 +      Dartmoor. He had ridden with the police when they had pursued me from
 +      Princetown, and he had felt toward me when I was overtaken as I would
 +      myself have felt had I, in my own country, seen a brave and debonair
 +      soldier without a friend to help him. In a word, he took me to his house,
 +      clad me, fed me, and treated me as if he had been my brother. I will say
 +      this of the English, that they were always generous enemies, and very good
 +      people with whom to fight.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      In the Peninsula the Spanish outposts would present their muskets at ours,
 +      but the British their brandy-flasks. And of all these generous men there
 +      was none who was the equal of this admirable milord, who held out so warm
 +      a hand to an enemy in distress.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Ah! what thoughts of sport it brings back to me, the very name of High
 +      Combe! I can see it now, the long, low brick house, warm and ruddy, with
 +      white plaster pillars before the door. He was a great sportsman, this Lord
 +      Rufton, and all who were about him were of the same sort. But you will be
 +      pleased to hear that there were few things in which I could not hold my
 +      own, and in some I excelled. Behind the house was a wood in which
 +      pheasants were reared, and it was Lord Rufton'​s joy to kill these birds,
 +      which was done by sending in men to drive them out while he and his
 +      friends stood outside and shot them as they passed. For my part, I was
 +      more crafty, for I studied the habits of the bird, and stealing out in the
 +      evening I was able to kill a number of them as they roosted in the trees.
 +      Hardly a single shot was wasted, but the keeper was attracted by the sound
 +      of the firing, and he implored me in his rough English fashion to spare
 +      those that were left. That night I was able to place twelve birds as a
 +      surprise upon Lord Rufton'​s supper-table,​ and he laughed until he cried,
 +      so overjoyed was he to see them. &​ldquo;​Gad,​ Gerard, you'll be the death of me
 +      yet!&​rdquo;​ he cried. Often he said the same thing, for at every turn I amazed
 +      him by the way in which I entered into the sports of the English.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      There is a game called cricket which they play in the summer, and this
 +      also I learned. Rudd, the head gardener, was a famous player of cricket,
 +      and so was Lord Rufton himself. Before the house was a lawn, and here it
 +      was that Rudd taught me the game. It is a brave pastime, a game for
 +      soldiers, for each tries to strike the other with the ball, and it is but
 +      a small stick with which you may ward it off. Three sticks behind show the
 +      spot beyond which you may not retreat. I can tell you that it is no game
 +      for children, and I will confess that, in spite of my nine campaigns, I
 +      felt myself turn pale when first the ball flashed past me. So swift was it
 +      that I had not time to raise my stick to ward it off, but by good fortune
 +      it missed me and knocked down the wooden pins which marked the boundary.
 +      It was for Rudd then to defend himself and for me to attack. When I was a
 +      boy in Gascony I learned to throw both far and straight, so that I made
 +      sure that I could hit this gallant Englishman.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      With a shout I rushed forward and hurled the ball at him. It flew as swift
 +      as a bullet toward his ribs, but without a word he swung his staff and the
 +      ball rose a surprising distance in the air. Lord Rufton clapped his hands
 +      and cheered. Again the ball was brought to me, and again it was for me to
 +      throw. This time it flew past his head, and it seemed to me that it was
 +      his turn to look pale.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      But he was a brave man, this gardener, and again he faced me. Ah, my
 +      friends, the hour of my triumph had come! It was a red waistcoat that he
 +      wore, and at this I hurled the ball. You would have said that I was a
 +      gunner, not a hussar, for never was so straight an aim. With a despairing
 +      cry&​mdash;​the cry of the brave man who is beaten&​mdash;​he fell upon the
 +      wooden pegs behind him, and they all rolled upon the ground together. He
 +      was cruel, this English milord, and he laughed so that he could not come
 +      to the aid of his servant. It was for me, the victor, to rush forward to
 +      embrace this intrepid player, and to raise him to his feet with words of
 +      praise, and encouragement,​ and hope. He was in pain and could not stand
 +      erect, yet the honest fellow confessed that there was no accident in my
 +      victory. &​ldquo;​He did it a-purpose! He did it a-purpose!&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      Again and again he said it. Yes, it is a great game this cricket, and I
 +      would gladly have ventured upon it again but Lord Rufton and Rudd said
 +      that it was late in the season, and so they would play no more.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      How foolish of me, the old, broken man, to dwell upon these successes, and
 +      yet I will confess that my age has been very much soothed and comforted by
 +      the memory of the women who have loved me and the men whom I have
 +      overcome. It is pleasant to think that five years afterward, when Lord
 +      Rufton came to Paris after the peace, he was able to assure me that my
 +      name was still a famous one in the north of Devonshire for the fine
 +      exploits that I had performed. Especially, he said, they still talked over
 +      my boxing match with the Honourable Baldock. It came about in this way. Of
 +      an evening many sportsmen would assemble at the house of Lord Rufton,
 +      where they would drink much wine, make wild bets, and talk of their horses
 +      and their foxes. How well I remember those strange creatures. Sir
 +      Barrington, Jack Lupton, of Barnstable, Colonel Addison, Johnny Miller,
 +      Lord Sadler, and my enemy, the Honourable Baldock. They were of the same
 +      stamp all of them, drinkers, madcaps, fighters, gamblers, full of strange
 +      caprices and extraordinary whims. Yet they were kindly fellows in their
 +      rough fashion, save only this Baldock, a fat man, who prided himself on
 +      his skill at the box-fight. It was he who, by his laughter against the
 +      French because they were ignorant of sport, caused me to challenge him in
 +      the very sport at which he excelled. You will say that it was foolish, my
 +      friends, but the decanter had passed many times, and the blood of youth
 +      ran hot in my veins. I would fight him, this boaster; I would show him
 +      that if we had not skill at least we had courage. Lord Rufton would not
 +      allow it. I insisted. The others cheered me on and slapped me on the back.
 +      &​ldquo;​No,​ dash it, Baldock, he's our guest,&​rdquo;​ said Rufton. &​ldquo;​It'​s his own doing,&​rdquo;​
 +       the other answered. &​ldquo;​Look here, Rufton, they can't hurt each other if they
 +      wear the mawleys,&​rdquo;​ cried Lord Sadler. And so it was agreed.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      What the mawleys were I did not know, but presently they brought out four
 +      great puddings of leather, not unlike a fencing glove, but larger. With
 +      these our hands were covered after we had stripped ourselves of our coats
 +      and our waistcoats. Then the table, with the glasses and decanters, was
 +      pushed into the corner of the room, and behold us; face to face! Lord
 +      Sadler sat in the arm-chair with a watch in his open hand. &​ldquo;​Time!&​rdquo;​ said
 +      he.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      I will confess to you, my friends, that I felt at that moment a tremor
 +      such as none of my many duels have ever given me. With sword or pistol I
 +      am at home, but here I only understood that I must struggle with this fat
 +      Englishman and do what I could, in spite of these great puddings upon my
 +      hands, to overcome him. And at the very outset I was disarmed of the best
 +      weapon that was left to me. &​ldquo;​Mind,​ Gerard, no kicking!&​rdquo;​ said Lord Rufton
 +      in my ear. I had only a pair of thin dancing slippers, and yet the man was
 +      fat, and a few well-directed kicks might have left me the victor. But
 +      there is an etiquette just as there is in fencing, and I refrained. I
 +      looked at this Englishman and I wondered how I should attack him. His ears
 +      were large and prominent. Could I seize them I might drag him to the
 +      ground. I rushed in, but I was betrayed by this flabby glove, and twice I
 +      lost my hold. He struck me, but I cared little for his blows, and again I
 +      seized him by the ear. He fell, and I rolled upon him and thumped his head
 +      upon the ground.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      How they cheered and laughed, these gallant Englishmen, and how they
 +      clapped me on the back!
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Even money on the Frenchman,&​rdquo;​ cried Lord Sadler.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​He fights foul,&​rdquo;​ cried my enemy, rubbing his crimson ears. &​ldquo;​He savaged me
 +      on the ground.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​You must take your chance of that,&​rdquo;​ said Lord Rufton, coldly.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Time!&​rdquo;​ cried Lord Sadler, and once again we advanced to the assault.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      He was flushed, and his small eyes were as vicious as those of a bull-dog.
 +      There was hatred on his face. For my part I carried myself lightly and
 +      gaily. A French gentleman fights but he does not hate. I drew myself up
 +      before him, and I bowed as I have done in the duello.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      There can be grace and courtesy as well as defiance in a bow; I put all
 +      three into this one, with a touch of ridicule in the shrug which
 +      accompanied it. It was at this moment that he struck me. The room spun
 +      round me. I fell upon my back. But in an instant I was on my feet again
 +      and had rushed to a close combat. His ear, his hair, his nose, I seized
 +      them each in turn. Once again the mad joy of the battle was in my veins.
 +      The old cry of triumph rose to my lips. &​ldquo;​Vive l'​Empereur!&​rdquo;​ I yelled as I
 +      drove my head into his stomach. He threw his arm round my neck, and
 +      holding me with one hand he struck me with the other. I buried my teeth in
 +      his arm, and he shouted with pain. &​ldquo;​Call him off, Rufton!&​rdquo;​ he screamed.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Call him off, man! He's worrying me!&​rdquo;​ They dragged me away from him. Can
 +      I ever forget it?&​mdash;​the laughter, the cheering, the congratulations!
 +      Even my enemy bore me no ill-will, for he shook me by the hand. For my
 +      part I embraced him on each cheek. Five years afterward I learned from
 +      Lord Rufton that my noble bearing upon that evening was still fresh in the
 +      memory of my English friends.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      It is not, however, of my own exploits in sport that I wish to speak to
 +      you to-night, but it is of the Lady Jane Dacre and the strange adventure
 +      of which she was the cause. Lady Jane Dacre was Lord Rufton'​s sister and
 +      the lady of his household. I fear that until I came it was lonely for her,
 +      since she was a beautiful and refined woman with nothing in common with
 +      those who were about her. Indeed, this might be said of many women in the
 +      England of those days, for the men were rude and rough and coarse, with
 +      boorish habits and few accomplishments,​ while the women were the most
 +      lovely and tender that I have ever known. We became great friends, the
 +      Lady Jane and I, for it was not possible for me to drink three bottles of
 +      port after dinner like those Devonshire gentlemen, and so I would seek
 +      refuge in her drawing-room,​ where evening after evening she would play the
 +      harpsichord and I would sing the songs of my own land. In those peaceful
 +      moments I would find a refuge from the misery which filled me, when I
 +      reflected that my regiment was left in the front of the enemy without the
 +      chief whom they had learned to love and to follow.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Indeed, I could have torn my hair when I read in the English papers of the
 +      fine fighting which was going on in Portugal and on the frontiers of
 +      Spain, all of which I had missed through my misfortune in falling into the
 +      hands of Milord Wellington.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      From what I have told you of the Lady Jane you will have guessed what
 +      occurred, my friends. Etienne Gerard is thrown into the company of a young
 +      and beautiful woman. What must it mean for him? What must it mean for her?
 +      It was not for me, the guest, the captive, to make love to the sister of
 +      my host. But I was reserved.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      I was discreet. I tried to curb my own emotions and to discourage hers.
 +      For my own part I fear that I betrayed myself, for the eye becomes more
 +      eloquent when the tongue is silent. Every quiver of my fingers as I turned
 +      over her music-sheets told her my secret. But she&​mdash;​she was admirable.
 +      It is in these matters that women have a genius for deception. If I had
 +      not penetrated her secret I should often have thought that she forgot even
 +      that I was in the house. For hours she would sit lost in a sweet
 +      melancholy, while I admired her pale face and her curls in the lamp-light,
 +      and thrilled within me to think that I had moved her so deeply. Then at
 +      last I would speak, and she would start in her chair and stare at me with
 +      the most admirable pretence of being surprised to find me in the room. Ah!
 +      how I longed to hurl myself suddenly at her feet, to kiss her white hand,
 +      to assure her that I had surprised her secret and that I would not abuse
 +      her confidence.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      But no, I was not her equal, and I was under her roof as a castaway enemy.
 +      My lips were sealed. I endeavoured to imitate her own wonderful
 +      affectation of indifference,​ but, as you may think? I was eagerly alert
 +      for any opportunity of serving her.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      One morning Lady Jane had driven in her phaeton to Okehampton, and I
 +      strolled along the road which led to that place in the hope that I might
 +      meet her on her return.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      It was the early winter, and banks of fading fern sloped down to the
 +      winding road. It is a bleak place this Dartmoor, wild and rocky&​mdash;​a
 +      country of wind and mist.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      I felt as I walked that it is no wonder Englishmen should suffer from the
 +      spleen. My own heart was heavy within me, and I sat upon a rock by the
 +      wayside looking out on the dreary view with my thoughts full of trouble
 +      and foreboding. Suddenly, however, as I glanced down the road, I saw a
 +      sight which drove everything else from my mind, and caused me to leap to
 +      my feet with a cry of astonishment and anger.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Down the curve of the road a phaeton was coming, the pony tearing along at
 +      full gallop. Within was the very lady whom I had come to meet. She lashed
 +      at the pony like one who endeavours to escape from some pressing danger,
 +      glancing ever backward over her shoulder. The bend of the road concealed
 +      from me what it was that had alarmed her, and I ran forward not knowing
 +      what to expect.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      The next instant I saw the pursuer, and my amazement was increased at the
 +      sight. It was a gentleman in the red coat of an English fox-hunter,
 +      mounted on a great grey horse. He was galloping as if in a race, and the
 +      long stride of the splendid creature beneath him soon brought him up to
 +      the lady's flying carriage. I saw him stoop and seize the reins of the
 +      pony, so as to bring it to a halt. The next instant he was deep in talk
 +      with the lady, he bending forward in his saddle and speaking eagerly, she
 +      shrinking away from him as if she feared and loathed him.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      You may think, my dear friends, that this was not a sight at which I could
 +      calmly gaze. How my heart thrilled within me to think that a chance should
 +      have been given to me to serve the Lady Jane! I ran&​mdash;​oh,​ good Lord,
 +      how I ran! At last, breathless, speechless, I reached the phaeton. The man
 +      glanced up at me with his blue English eyes, but so deep was he in his
 +      talk that he paid no heed to me, nor did the lady say a word. She still
 +      leaned back, her beautiful pale face gazing up at him. He was a
 +      good-looking fellow&​mdash;​tall,​ and strong, and brown; a pang of jealousy
 +      seized me as I looked at him. He was talking low and fast, as the English
 +      do when they are in earnest.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​I tell you, Jinny, it's you and only you that I love,&​rdquo;​ said he. &​ldquo;​Don'​t
 +      bear malice, Jinny. Let by-gones be by-gones. Come now, say it's all
 +      over.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​No,​ never, George, never!&​rdquo;​ she cried.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      A dusky red suffused his handsome face. The man was furious.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Why can't you forgive me, Jinny?&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​I can't forget the past.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​By George, you must! I've asked enough. It's time to order now. I'll have
 +      my rights, d'ye hear?&​rdquo;​ His hand closed upon her wrist.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      At last my breath had returned to me.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Madame,&​rdquo;​ I said, as I raised my hat, &​ldquo;​do I intrude, or is there any
 +      possible way in which I can be of service to you?&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      But neither of them minded me any more than if I had been a fly who buzzed
 +      between them. Their eyes were locked together.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​I'​ll have my rights, I tell you. I've waited long enough.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​There'​s no use bullying, George.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Do you give in?&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​No,​ never!&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Is that your final answer?&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Yes,​ it is.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      He gave a bitter curse and threw down her hand.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​All right, my lady, we'll see about this.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Excuse me, sir!&​rdquo;​ said I, with dignity.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Oh,​ go to blazes!&​rdquo;​ he cried, turning on me with his furious face. The
 +      next instant he had spurred his horse and was galloping down the road once
 +      more.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Lady Jane gazed after him until he was out of sight, and I was surprised
 +      to see that her face wore a smile and not a frown. Then she turned to me
 +      and held out her hand.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​You are very kind, Colonel Gerard. You meant well, I am sure.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Madame,&​rdquo;​ said I, &​ldquo;​if you can oblige me with the gentleman'​s name and
 +      address I will arrange that he shall never trouble you again.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​No scandal, I beg of you,&​rdquo;​ she cried.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Madame,​ I could not so far forget myself. Rest assured that no lady's
 +      name would ever be mentioned by me in the course of such an incident. In
 +      bidding me to go to blazes this gentleman has relieved me from the
 +      embarrassment of having to invent a cause of quarrel.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Colonel Gerard,&​rdquo;​ said the lady, earnestly, &​ldquo;​you must give me your word as
 +      a soldier and a gentleman that this matter goes no farther, and also that
 +      you will say nothing to my brother about what you have seen. Promise me!&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​If I must.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​I hold you to your word. Now drive with me to High Combe, and I will
 +      explain as we go.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      The first words of her explanation went into me like a sabre-point.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​That gentleman,&​rdquo;​ said she, &​ldquo;​is my husband.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Your husband!&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​You must have known that I was married.&​rdquo;​ She seemed surprised at my
 +      agitation.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​I did not know.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​This is Lord George Dacre. We have been married two years. There is no
 +      need to tell you how he wronged me. I left him and sought a refuge under
 +      my brother'​s roof. Up till to-day he has left me there unmolested. What I
 +      must above all things avoid is the chance of a duel betwixt my husband and
 +      my brother. It is horrible to think of. For this reason Lord Rufton must
 +      know nothing of this chance meeting of to-day.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​If my pistol could free you from this annoyance&​mdash;&​mdash;&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​No,​ no, it is not to be thought of. Remember your promise, Colonel
 +      Gerard. And not a word at High Combe of what you have seen!&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      Her husband! I had pictured in my mind that she was a young widow. This
 +      brown-faced brute with his &​ldquo;​go to blazes&​rdquo;​ was the husband of this tender
 +      dove of a woman. Oh, if she would but allow me to free her from so odious
 +      an encumbrance! There is no divorce so quick and certain as that which I
 +      could give her. But a promise is a promise, and I kept it to the letter.
 +      My mouth was sealed.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      In a week I was to be sent back from Plymouth to St. Malo, and it seemed
 +      to me that I might never hear the sequel of the story. And yet it was
 +      destined that it should have a sequel and that I should play a very
 +      pleasing and honourable part in it.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      It was only three days after the event which I have described when Lord
 +      Rufton burst hurriedly into my room.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      His face was pale and his manner that of a man in extreme agitation.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Gerard,&​rdquo;​ he cried, &​ldquo;​have you seen Lady Jane Dacre?&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      I had seen her after breakfast and it was now mid-day.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​By Heaven, there'​s villainy here!&​rdquo;​ cried my poor friend, rushing about
 +      like a madman. &​ldquo;​The bailiff has been up to say that a chaise and pair were
 +      seen driving full split down the Tavistock Road. The blacksmith heard a
 +      woman scream as it passed his forge. Jane has disappeared. By the Lord, I
 +      believe that she has been kidnapped by this villain Dacre.&​rdquo;​ He rang the
 +      bell furiously. &​ldquo;​Two horses, this instant!&​rdquo;​ he cried. &​ldquo;​Colonel Gerard,
 +      your pistols! Jane comes back with me this night from Gravel Hanger or
 +      there will be a new master in High Combe Hall.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      Behold us then within half an hour, like two knight-errants of old, riding
 +      forth to the rescue of this lady in distress. It was near Tavistock that
 +      Lord Dacre lived, and at every house and toll-gate along the road we heard
 +      the news of the flying post-chaise in front of us, so there could be no
 +      doubt whither they were bound. As we rode Lord Rufton told me of the man
 +      whom we were pursuing.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      His name, it seems, was a household word throughout all England for every
 +      sort of mischief. Wine, women, dice, cards, racing&​mdash;​in all forms of
 +      debauchery he had earned for himself a terrible name. He was of an old and
 +      noble family, and it had been hoped that he had sowed his wild oats when
 +      he married the beautiful Lady Jane Rufton.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      For some months he had indeed behaved well, and then he had wounded her
 +      feelings in their most tender part by some unworthy liaison. She had fled
 +      from his house and taken refuge with her brother, from whose care she had
 +      now been dragged once more, against her will. I ask you if two men could
 +      have had a fairer errand than that upon which Lord Rufton and myself were
 +      riding.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​That'​s Gravel Hanger,&​rdquo;​ he cried at last, pointing with his crop, and
 +      there on the green side of a hill was an old brick and timber building as
 +      beautiful as only an English country-house can be. &​ldquo;​There'​s an inn by the
 +      park-gate, and there we shall leave our horses,&​rdquo;​ he added.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      For my own part it seemed to me that with so just a cause we should have
 +      done best to ride boldly up to his door and summon him to surrender the
 +      lady. But there I was wrong. For the one thing which every Englishman
 +      fears is the law. He makes it himself, and when he has once made it it
 +      becomes a terrible tyrant before whom the bravest quails. He will smile at
 +      breaking his neck, but he will turn pale at breaking the law. It seems,
 +      then, from what Lord Rufton told me as we walked through the park, that we
 +      were on the wrong side of the law in this matter. Lord Dacre was in the
 +      right in carrying off his wife, since she did indeed belong to him, and
 +      our own position now was nothing better than that of burglars and
 +      trespassers. It was not for burglars to openly approach the front door. We
 +      could take the lady by force or by craft, but we could not take her by
 +      right, for the law was against us. This was what my friend explained to me
 +      as we crept up toward the shelter of a shrubbery which was close to the
 +      windows of the house. Thence we could examine this fortress, see whether
 +      we could effect a lodgment in it, and, above all, try to establish some
 +      communication with the beautiful prisoner inside.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      There we were, then, in the shrubbery, Lord Rufton and I, each with a
 +      pistol in the pockets of our riding coats, and with the most resolute
 +      determination in our hearts that we should not return without the lady.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Eagerly we scanned every window of the wide-spread house.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Not a sign could we see of the prisoner or of anyone else; but on the
 +      gravel drive outside the door were the deep-sunk marks of the wheels of
 +      the chaise. There was no doubt that they had arrived. Crouching among the
 +      laurel bushes we held a whispered council of wary but a singular
 +      interruption brought it to an end.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Out of the door of the house there stepped a tall, flaxen-haired man, such
 +      a figure as one would choose for the flank of a Grenadier company. As he
 +      turned his brown face and his blue eyes toward us I recognised Lord Dacre.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      With long strides he came down the gravel path straight for the spot where
 +      we lay.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Come out, Ned!&​rdquo;​ he shouted; &​ldquo;​you'​ll have the game-keeper putting a charge
 +      of shot into you. Come out, man, and don't skulk behind the bushes.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      It was not a very heroic situation for us. My poor friend rose with a
 +      crimson face. I sprang to my feet also and bowed with such dignity as I
 +      could muster.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Halloa! it's the Frenchman, is it?&​rdquo;​ said he, without returning my bow.
 +      &​ldquo;​I'​ve got a crow to pluck with him already. As to you, Ned, I knew you
 +      would be hot on our scent, and so I was looking out for you. I saw you
 +      cross the park and go to ground in the shrubbery. Come in, man, and let us
 +      have all the cards on the table.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      He seemed master of the situation, this handsome giant of a man, standing
 +      at his ease on his own ground while we slunk out of our hiding-place. Lord
 +      Rufton had said not a word, but I saw by his darkened brow and his sombre
 +      eyes that the storm was gathering. Lord Dacre led the way into the house,
 +      and we followed close at his heels.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      He ushered us himself into an oak-panelled sitting-room,​ closing the door
 +      behind us. Then he looked me up and down with insolent eyes.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Look here, Ned,&​rdquo;​ said he, &​ldquo;​time was when an English family could settle
 +      their own affairs in their own way. What has this foreign fellow got to do
 +      with your sister and my wife?&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Sir,&​rdquo;​ said I, &​ldquo;​permit me to point out to you that this is not a case
 +      merely of a sister or a wife, but that I am the friend of the lady in
 +      question, and that I have the privilege which every gentleman possesses of
 +      protecting a woman against brutality. It is only by a gesture that I can
 +      show you what I think of you.&​rdquo;​ I had my riding glove in my hand, and I
 +      flicked him across the face with it. He drew back with a bitter smile and
 +      his eyes were as hard as flint.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​So you've brought your bully with you, Ned?&​rdquo;​ said he. &​ldquo;​You might at least
 +      have done your fighting yourself, if it must come to a fight.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​So I will,&​rdquo;​ cried Lord Rufton. &​ldquo;​Here and now.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​When I've killed this swaggering Frenchman,&​rdquo;​ said Lord Dacre. He stepped
 +      to a side table and opened a brass-bound case. &​ldquo;​By Gad,&​rdquo;​ said he, &​ldquo;​either
 +      that man or I go out of this room feet foremost. I meant well by you, Ned;
 +      I did, by George, but I'll shoot this led-captain of yours as sure as my
 +      name's George Dacre. Take your choice of pistols, sir, and shoot across
 +      this table. The barkers are loaded. Aim straight and kill me if you can,
 +      for by the Lord if you don't, you're done.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      In vain Lord Rufton tried to take the quarrel upon himself. Two things
 +      were clear in my mind&​mdash;​one that the Lady Jane had feared above all
 +      things that her husband and brother should fight, the other that if I
 +      could but kill this big milord, then the whole question would be settled
 +      forever in the best way. Lord Rufton did not want him. Lady Jane did not
 +      want him. Therefore, I, Etienne Gerard, their friend, would pay the debt
 +      of gratitude which I owed them by freeing them of this encumbrance. But,
 +      indeed, there was no choice in the matter, for Lord Dacre was as eager to
 +      put a bullet into me as I could be to do the same service to him. In vain
 +      Lord Rufton argued and scolded. The affair must continue.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Well,​ if you must fight my guest instead of myself, let it be to-morrow
 +      morning with two witnesses,&​rdquo;​ he cried, at last; &​ldquo;​this is sheer murder
 +      across the table.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​But it suits my humour, Ned,&​rdquo;​ said Lord Dacre.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​And mine, sir,&​rdquo;​ said I.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Then I'll have nothing to do with it,&​rdquo;​ cried Lord Rufton. &​ldquo;​I tell you,
 +      George, if you shoot Colonel Gerard under these circumstances you'll find
 +      yourself in the dock instead of on the bench. I won't act as second, and
 +      that's flat.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Sir,&​rdquo;​ said I, &​ldquo;​I am perfectly prepared to proceed without a second.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​That won't do. It's against the law,&​rdquo;​ cried Lord Dacre. &​ldquo;​Come,​ Ned, don't
 +      be a fool. You see we mean to fight. Hang it, man, all I want you to do is
 +      to drop a handkerchief.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​I'​ll take no part in it.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Then I must find someone who will,&​rdquo;​ said Lord Dacre.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      He threw a cloth over the pistols which lay upon the table, and he rang
 +      the bell. A footman entered. &​ldquo;​Ask Colonel Berkeley if he will step this
 +      way. You will find him in the billiard-room.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      A moment later there entered a tall thin Englishman with a great
 +      moustache, which was a rare thing amid that clean-shaven race. I have
 +      heard since that they were worn only by the Guards and the Hussars. This
 +      Colonel Berkeley was a guardsman. He seemed a strange, tired, languid,
 +      drawling creature with a long black cigar thrusting out, like a pole from
 +      a bush, amidst that immense moustache. He looked from one to the other of
 +      us with true English phlegm, and he betrayed not the slightest surprise
 +      when he was told our intention.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Quite so,&​rdquo;​ said he; &​ldquo;​quite so.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​I refuse to act, Colonel Berkeley,&​rdquo;​ cried Lord Rufton.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Remember,​ this duel cannot proceed without you, and I hold you personally
 +      responsible for anything that happens.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      This Colonel Berkeley appeared to be an authority upon the question, for
 +      he removed the cigar from his mouth and he laid down the law in his
 +      strange, drawling voice.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​The circumstances are unusual but not irregular, Lord Rufton,&​rdquo;​ said he.
 +      &​ldquo;​This gentleman has given a blow and this other gentleman has received it.
 +      That is a clear issue. Time and conditions depend upon the person who
 +      demands satisfaction. Very good. He claims it here and now, across the
 +      table. He is acting within his rights. I am prepared to accept the
 +      responsibility.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      There was nothing more to be said. Lord Rufton sat moodily in the corner
 +      with his brows drawn down and his hands thrust deep into the pockets of
 +      his riding-breeches.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Colonel Berkeley examined the two pistols and laid them both in the centre
 +      of the table. Lord Dacre was at one end and I at the other, with eight
 +      feet of shining mahogany between us. On the hearth-rug with his back to
 +      the fire, stood the tall colonel, his handkerchief in his left hand, his
 +      cigar between two fingers of his right.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​When I drop the handkerchief,&​rdquo;​ said he, &​ldquo;​you will pick up your pistols
 +      and you will fire at your own convenience. Are you ready?&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Yes,&​rdquo;​ we cried.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      His hand opened and the handkerchief fell. I bent swiftly forward and
 +      seized a pistol, but the table, as I have said, was eight feet across, and
 +      it was easier for this long-armed milord to reach the pistols than it was
 +      for me.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      I had not yet drawn myself straight before he fired, and to this it was
 +      that I owe my life. His bullet would have blown out my brains had I been
 +      erect. As it was it whistled through my curls. At the same instant, just
 +      as I threw up my own pistol to fire, the door flew open and a pair of arms
 +      were thrown round me. It was the beautiful, flushed, frantic face of Lady
 +      Jane which looked up into mine.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​You sha'​n'​t fire! Colonel Gerard, for my sake don't fire,&​rdquo;​ she cried. &​ldquo;​It
 +      is a mistake, I tell you, a mistake, a mistake! He is the best and dearest
 +      of husbands. Never again shall I leave his side.&​rdquo;​ Her hands slid down my
 +      arm and closed upon my pistol.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Jane,​ Jane,&​rdquo;​ cried Lord Rufton; &​ldquo;​come with me. You should not be here.
 +      Come away.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​It is all confoundedly irregular,&​rdquo;​ said Colonel Berkeley.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Colonel Gerard, you won't fire, will you? My heart would break if he were
 +      hurt.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Hang it all, Jinny, give the fellow fair play,&​rdquo;​ cried Lord Dacre. &​ldquo;​He
 +      stood my fire like a man, and I won't see him interfered with. Whatever
 +      happens I can't get worse than I deserve.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      But already there had passed between me and the lady a quick glance of the
 +      eyes which told her everything.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Her hands slipped from my arm. &​ldquo;​I leave my husband'​s life and my own
 +      happiness to Colonel Gerard,&​rdquo;​ said she.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      How well she knew me, this admirable woman! I stood for an instant
 +      irresolute, with the pistol cocked in my hand. My antagonist faced me
 +      bravely, with no blenching of his sunburnt face and no flinching of his
 +      bold, blue eyes.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Come,​ come, sir, take your shot!&​rdquo;​ cried the colonel from the mat.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Let us have it, then,&​rdquo;​ said Lord Dacre.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      I would, at least, show them how completely his life was at the mercy of
 +      my skill. So much I owed to my own self-respect. I glanced round for a
 +      mark. The colonel was looking toward my antagonist, expecting to see him
 +      drop. His face was sideways to me, his long cigar projecting from his lips
 +      with an inch of ash at the end of it.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Quick as a flash I raised my pistol and fired.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Permit me to trim your ash, sir,&​rdquo;​ said I, and I bowed with a grace which
 +      is unknown among these islanders.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      I am convinced that the fault lay with the pistol and not with my aim. I
 +      could hardly believe my own eyes when I saw that I had snapped off the
 +      cigar within half an inch of his lips. He stood staring at me with the
 +      ragged stub of the cigar-end sticking out from his singed mustache. I can
 +      see him now with his foolish, angry eyes and his long, thin, puzzled face.
 +      Then he began to talk. I have always said that the English are not really
 +      a phlegmatic or a taciturn nation if you stir them out of their groove. No
 +      one could have talked in a more animated way than this colonel. Lady Jane
 +      put her hands over her ears.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Come,​ come, Colonel Berkeley,&​rdquo;​ said Lord Dacre, sternly, &​ldquo;​you forget
 +      yourself. There is a lady in the room.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      The colonel gave a stiff bow.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​If Lady Dacre will kindly leave the room,&​rdquo;​ said he,
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​I will be able to tell this infernal little Frenchman what I think of him
 +      and his monkey tricks.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      I was splendid at that moment, for I ignored the words that he had said
 +      and remembered only the extreme provocation.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Sir,&​rdquo;​ said I, &​ldquo;​I freely offer you my apologies for this unhappy incident.
 +      I felt that if I did not discharge my pistol Lord Dacre'​s honour might
 +      feel hurt, and yet it was quite impossible for me, after hearing what this
 +      lady has said, to aim it at her husband. I looked round for a mark,
 +      therefore, and I had the extreme misfortune to blow your cigar out of your
 +      mouth when my intention had merely been to snuff the ash. I was betrayed
 +      by my pistol. This is my explanation,​ sir, and if after listening to my
 +      apologies you still feel that I owe you satisfaction,​ I need not say that
 +      it is a request which I am unable to refuse.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      It was certainly a charming attitude which I had assumed, and it won the
 +      hearts of all of them. Lord Dacre stepped forward and wrung me by the
 +      hand. &​ldquo;​By George, sir,&​rdquo;​ said he, &​ldquo;​I never thought to feel toward a
 +      Frenchman as I do to you. You're a man and a gentleman, and I can't say
 +      more.&​rdquo;​ Lord Rufton said nothing, but his hand-grip told me all that he
 +      thought. Even Colonel Berkeley paid me a compliment, and declared that he
 +      would think no more about the unfortunate cigar.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      And she&​mdash;​ah,​ if you could have seen the look she gave me, the flushed
 +      cheek, the moist eye, the tremulous lip!
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      When I think of my beautiful Lady Jane it is at that moment that I recall
 +      her. They would have had me stay to dinner, but you will understand, my
 +      friends, that this was no time for either Lord Rufton or myself to remain
 +      at Gravel Hanger. This reconciled couple desired only to be alone. In the
 +      chaise he had persuaded her of his sincere repentance, and once again they
 +      were a loving husband and wife. If they were to remain so it was best
 +      perhaps that I should go. Why should I unsettle this domestic peace? Even
 +      against my own will my mere presence and appearance might have their
 +      effect upon the lady. No, no, I must tear myself away&​mdash;​even her
 +      persuasions were unable to make me stop. Years afterward I heard that the
 +      household of the Dacres was among the happiest in the whole country, and
 +      that no cloud had ever come again to darken their lives. Yet I dare say if
 +      he could have seen into his wife's mind&​mdash;​but there, I say no more! A
 +      lady's secret is her own, and I fear that she and it are buried long years
 +      ago in some Devonshire churchyard. Perhaps all that gay circle are gone
 +      and the Lady Jane only lives now in the memory of an old half-pay French
 +      brigadier. He at least can never forget.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      <a name="​link2H_4_0007"​ id="​link2H_4_0007">​
 +      <​!-- ​ H2 anchor --> </a>
 +    </p>
 +    <div style="​height:​ 4em;">​
 +      <br /><br /><br /><br />
 +    </​div>​
 +    <h2>
 +      VI. How the Brigadier Rode to Minsk
 +    </h2>
 +    <p>
 +      I would have a stronger wine to-night, my friends, a wine of Burgundy
 +      rather than of Bordeaux. It is that my heart, my old soldier heart, is
 +      heavy within me. It is a strange thing, this age which creeps upon one.
 +      One does not know, one does not understand; the spirit is ever the same,
 +      and one does not remember how the poor body crumbles. But there comes a
 +      moment when it is brought home, when quick as the sparkle of a whirling
 +      sabre it is clear to us, and we see the men we were and the men we are.
 +      Yes, yes, it was so to-day, and I would have a wine of Burgundy to-night.
 +      White Burgundy&​mdash;​Montrachet&​mdash;​Sir,​ I am your debtor!
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      It was this morning in the Champ de Mars. Your pardon, friends, while an
 +      old man tells his trouble. You saw the review. Was it not splendid? I was
 +      in the enclosure for veteran officers who have been decorated.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      This ribbon on my breast was my passport. The cross itself I keep at home
 +      in a leathern pouch. They did us honour, for we were placed at the
 +      saluting point, with the Emperor and the carriages of the Court upon our
 +      right.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      It is years since I have been to a review, for I cannot approve of many
 +      things which I have seen. I do not approve of the red breeches of the
 +      infantry. It was in white breeches that the infantry used to fight. Red is
 +      for the cavalry. A little more, and they would ask our busbies and our
 +      spurs! Had I been seen at a review they might well have said that I,
 +      Etienne Gerard, had condoned it. So I have stayed at home. But this war of
 +      the Crimea is different. The men go to battle.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      It is not for me to be absent when brave men gather.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      My faith, they march well, those little infantrymen!
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      They are not large, but they are very solid and they carry themselves
 +      well. I took off my hat to them as they passed. Then there came the guns.
 +      They were good guns, well horsed and well manned. I took off my hat to
 +      them. Then came the Engineers, and to them also I took off my hat. There
 +      are no braver men than the Engineers. Then came the cavalry, Lancers,
 +      Cuirassiers,​ Chasseurs, and Spahis. To all of them in turn I was able to
 +      take off my hat, save only to the Spahis.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      The Emperor had no Spahis. But when all of the others had passed, what
 +      think you came at the close? A brigade of Hussars, and at the charge!
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Oh, my friends, the pride and the glory and the beauty, the flash and the
 +      sparkle, the roar of the hoofs and the jingle of chains, the tossing
 +      manes, the noble heads, the rolling cloud, and the dancing waves of steel!
 +      My heart drummed to them as they passed. And the last of all, was it not
 +      my own old regiment? My eyes fell upon the grey and silver dolmans, with
 +      the leopard-skin shabraques, and at that instant the years fell away from
 +      me and I saw my own beautiful men and horses, even as they had swept
 +      behind their young colonel, in the pride of our youth and our strength,
 +      just forty years ago. Up flew my cane. &​ldquo;​Chargez! En avant! Vive
 +      l'​Empereur!&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      It was the past calling to the present. But oh, what a thin, piping voice!
 +      Was this the voice that had once thundered from wing to wing of a strong
 +      brigade? And the arm that could scarce wave a cane, were these the muscles
 +      of fire and steel which had no match in all Napoleon'​s mighty host? They
 +      smiled at me. They cheered me. The Emperor laughed and bowed. But to me
 +      the present was a dim dream, and what was real were my eight hundred dead
 +      Hussars and the Etienne of long ago.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Enough&​mdash;​a brave man can face age and fate as he faced Cossacks and
 +      Uhlans. But there are times when Montrachet is better than the wine of
 +      Bordeaux.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      It is to Russia that they go, and so I will tell you a story of Russia.
 +      Ah, what an evil dream of the night it seems! Blood and ice. Ice and
 +      blood. Fierce faces with snow upon the whiskers. Blue hands held out for
 +      succour. And across the great white plain the one long black line of
 +      moving figures, trudging, trudging, a hundred miles, another hundred, and
 +      still always the same white plain. Sometimes there were fir-woods to limit
 +      it, sometimes it stretched away to the cold blue sky, but the black line
 +      stumbled on and on. Those weary, ragged, starving men, the spirit frozen
 +      out of them, looked neither to right nor left, but with sunken faces and
 +      rounded backs trailed onward and ever onward, making for France as wounded
 +      beasts make for their lair. There was no speaking, and you could scarce
 +      hear the shuffle of feet in the snow. Once only I heard them laugh. It was
 +      outside Wilna, when an aide-de-camp rode up to the head of that dreadful
 +      column and asked if that were the Grand Army. All who were within hearing
 +      looked round, and when they saw those broken men, those ruined regiments,
 +      those fur-capped skeletons who were once the Guard, they laughed, and the
 +      laugh crackled down the column like a feu de joie. I have heard many a
 +      groan and cry and scream in my life, but nothing so terrible as the laugh
 +      of the Grand Army.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      But why was it that these helpless men were not destroyed by the Russians?
 +      Why was it that they were not speared by the Cossacks or herded into
 +      droves, and driven as prisoners into the heart of Russia? On every side as
 +      you watched the black snake winding over the snow you saw also dark,
 +      moving shadows which came and went like cloud drifts on either flank and
 +      behind. They were the Cossacks, who hung round us like wolves round the
 +      flock.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      But the reason why they did not ride in upon us was that all the ice of
 +      Russia could not cool the hot hearts of some of our soldiers. To the end
 +      there were always those who were ready to throw themselves between these
 +      savages and their prey. One man above all rose greater as the danger
 +      thickened, and won a higher name amid disaster than he had done when he
 +      led our van to victory. To him I drink this glass&​mdash;​to Ney, the
 +      red-maned Lion, glaring back over his shoulder at the enemy who feared to
 +      tread too closely on his heels. I can see him now, his broad white face
 +      convulsed with fury, his light blue eyes sparkling like flints, his great
 +      voice roaring and crashing amid the roll of the musketry. His glazed and
 +      featherless cocked hat was the ensign upon which France rallied during
 +      those dreadful days.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      It is well known that neither I nor the regiment of Hussars of Conflans
 +      were at Moscow. We were left behind on the lines of communication at
 +      Borodino. How the Emperor could have advanced without us is
 +      incomprehensible to me, and, indeed, it was only then that I understood
 +      that his judgment was weakening and that he was no longer the man that he
 +      had been. However, a soldier has to obey orders, and so I remained at this
 +      village, which was poisoned by the bodies of thirty thousand men who had
 +      lost their lives in the great battle. I spent the late autumn in getting
 +      my horses into condition and reclothing my men, so that when the army fell
 +      back on Borodino my Hussars were the best of the cavalry, and were placed
 +      under Ney in the rear-guard.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      What could he have done without us during those dreadful days? &​ldquo;​Ah,​
 +      Gerard,&​rdquo;​ said he one evening&​mdash;​but it is not for me to repeat the
 +      words. Suffice it that he spoke what the whole army felt. The rear-guard
 +      covered the army and the Hussars of Conflans covered the rear-guard. There
 +      was the whole truth in a sentence.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Always the Cossacks were on us. Always we held them off. Never a day
 +      passed that we had not to wipe our sabres. That was soldiering indeed.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      But there came a time between Wilna and Smolensk when the situation became
 +      impossible. Cossacks and even cold we could fight, but we could not fight
 +      hunger as well. Food must be got at all costs. That night Ney sent for me
 +      to the waggon in which he slept. His great head was sunk on his hands.
 +      Mind and body he was wearied to death.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Colonel Gerard,&​rdquo;​ said he, &​ldquo;​things are going very badly with us. The men
 +      are starving. We must have food at all costs.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​The horses,&​rdquo;​ I suggested.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Save your handful of cavalry; there are none left.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​The band,&​rdquo;​ said I.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      He laughed, even in his despair.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Why the band?&​rdquo;​ he asked.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Fighting men are of value.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Good,&​rdquo;​ said he. &​ldquo;​You would play the game down to the last card and so
 +      would I. Good, Gerard, good!&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      He clasped my hand in his. &​ldquo;​But there is one chance for us yet, Gerard.&​rdquo;​
 +       He unhooked a lantern from the roof of the waggon and he laid it on a map
 +      which was stretched before him. &​ldquo;​To the south of us,&​rdquo;​ said he, &​ldquo;​there lies
 +      the town of Minsk. I have word from a Russian deserter that much corn has
 +      been stored in the town-hall. I wish you to take as many men as you think
 +      best, set forth for Minsk, seize the corn, load any carts which you may
 +      collect in the town, and bring them to me between here and Smolensk. If
 +      you fail it is but a detachment cut off. If you succeed it is new life to
 +      the army.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      He had not expressed himself well, for it was evident that if we failed it
 +      was not merely the loss of a detachment. It is quality as well as quantity
 +      which counts.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      And yet how honourable a mission and how glorious a risk! If mortal men
 +      could bring it, then the corn should come from Minsk. I said so, and spoke
 +      a few burning words about a brave man's duty until the Marshal was so
 +      moved that he rose and, taking me affectionately by the shoulders, pushed
 +      me out of the waggon.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      It was clear to me that in order to succeed in my enterprise I should take
 +      a small force and depend rather upon surprise than upon numbers. A large
 +      body could not conceal itself, would have great difficulty in getting
 +      food, and would cause all the Russians around us to concentrate for its
 +      certain destruction. On the other hand, if a small body of cavalry could
 +      get past the Cossacks unseen it was probable that they would find no
 +      troops to oppose them, for we knew that the main Russian army was several
 +      days' march behind us. This corn was meant, no doubt, for their
 +      consumption. A squadron of Hussars and thirty Polish Lancers were all whom
 +      I chose for the venture. That very night we rode out of the camp, and
 +      struck south in the direction of Minsk.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Fortunately there was but a half moon, and we were able to pass without
 +      being attacked by the enemy. Twice we saw great fires burning amid the
 +      snow, and around them a thick bristle of long poles. These were the lances
 +      of Cossacks, which they had stood upright while they slept. It would have
 +      been a great joy to us to have charged in amongst them, for we had much to
 +      revenge, and the eyes of my comrades looked longingly from me to those red
 +      flickering patches in the darkness. My faith, I was sorely tempted to do
 +      it, for it would have been a good lesson to teach them that they must keep
 +      a few miles between themselves and a French army. It is the essence of
 +      good generalship,​ however, to keep one thing before one at a time, and so
 +      we rode silently on through the snow, leaving these Cossack bivouacs to
 +      right and left. Behind us the black sky was all mottled with a line of
 +      flame which showed where our own poor wretches were trying to keep
 +      themselves alive for another day of misery and starvation.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      All night we rode slowly onward, keeping our horses'​ tails to the Pole
 +      Star. There were many tracks in the snow, and we kept to the line of
 +      these, that no one might remark that a body of cavalry had passed that
 +      way.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      These are the little precautions which mark the experienced officer.
 +      Besides, by keeping to the tracks we were most likely to find the
 +      villages, and only in the villages could we hope to get food. The dawn of
 +      day found us in a thick fir-wood, the trees so loaded with snow that the
 +      light could hardly reach us. When we had found our way out of it it was
 +      full daylight, the rim of the rising sun peeping over the edge of the
 +      great snow-plain and turning it crimson from end to end. I halted my
 +      Hussars and Lancers under the shadow of the wood, and I studied the
 +      country. Close to us there was a small farm-house. Beyond, at the distance
 +      of several miles, was a village. Far away on the sky-line rose a
 +      considerable town all bristling with church towers. This must be Minsk. In
 +      no direction could I see any signs of troops. It was evident that we had
 +      passed through the Cossacks and that there was nothing between us and our
 +      goal. A joyous shout burst from my men when I told them our position, and
 +      we advanced rapidly toward the village.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      I have said, however, that there was a small farm-house immediately in
 +      front of us. As we rode up to it I observed that a fine grey horse with a
 +      military saddle was tethered by the door. Instantly I galloped forward,
 +      but before I could reach it a man dashed out of the door, flung himself on
 +      to the horse, and rode furiously away, the crisp, dry snow flying up in a
 +      cloud behind him. The sunlight gleamed upon his gold epaulettes, and I
 +      knew that he was a Russian officer. He would raise the whole country-side
 +      if we did not catch him. I put spurs to Violette and flew after him. My
 +      troopers followed; but there was no horse among them to compare with
 +      Violette, and I knew well that if I could not catch the Russian I need
 +      expect no help from them.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      But it is a swift horse indeed and a skilful rider who can hope to escape
 +      from Violette with Etienne Gerard in the saddle. He rode well, this young
 +      Russian, and his mount was a good one, but gradually we wore him down.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      His face glanced continually over his shoulder&​mdash;​dark,​ handsome face,
 +      with eyes like an eagle&​mdash;​and I saw as I closed with him that he was
 +      measuring the distance between us. Suddenly he half turned; there were a
 +      flash and a crack as his pistol bullet hummed past my ear.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Before he could draw his sword I was upon him; but he still spurred his
 +      horse, and the two galloped together over the plain, I with my leg against
 +      the Russian'​s and my left hand upon his right shoulder. I saw his hand fly
 +      up to his mouth. Instantly I dragged him across my pommel and seized him
 +      by the throat, so that he could not swallow. His horse shot from under
 +      him, but I held him fast and Violette came to a stand. Sergeant Oudin of
 +      the Hussars was the first to join us. He was an old soldier, and he saw at
 +      a glance what I was after.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Hold tight, Colonel,&​rdquo;​ said he, &​ldquo;​I'​ll do the rest.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      He slipped out his knife, thrust the blade between the clenched teeth of
 +      the Russian, and turned it so as to force his mouth open. There, on his
 +      tongue, was the little wad of wet paper which he had been so anxious to
 +      swallow. Oudin picked it out and I let go of the man's throat. From the
 +      way in which, half strangled as he was, he glanced at the paper I was sure
 +      that it was a message of extreme importance. His hands twitched as if he
 +      longed to snatch it from me. He shrugged his shoulders, however, and
 +      smiled good-humouredly when I apologised for my roughness.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​And now to business,&​rdquo;​ said I, when he had done coughing and hawking.
 +      &​ldquo;​What is your name?&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Alexis Barakoff.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Your rank and regiment?&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Captain of the Dragoons of Grodno.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​What is this note which you were carrying?&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​It is a line which I had written to my sweetheart.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Whose name,&​rdquo;​ said I, examining the address, &​ldquo;​is the Hetman Platoff. Come,
 +      come, sir, this is an important military document, which you are carrying
 +      from one general to another. Tell me this instant what it is.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Read it and then you will know.&​rdquo;​ He spoke perfect French, as do most of
 +      the educated Russians. But he knew well that there is not one French
 +      officer in a thousand who knows a word of Russian. The inside of the note
 +      contained one single line, which ran like this:&​mdash;​
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Pustj Franzuzy pridutt v Minsk. Min gotovy.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      I stared at it, and I had to shake my head. Then I showed it to my
 +      Hussars, but they could make nothing of it. The Poles were all rough
 +      fellows who could not read or write, save only the sergeant, who came from
 +      Memel, in East Prussia, and knew no Russian. It was maddening, for I felt
 +      that I had possession of some important secret upon which the safety of
 +      the army might depend, and yet I could make no sense of it. Again I
 +      entreated our prisoner to translate it, and offered him his freedom if he
 +      would do so. He only smiled at my request.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      I could not but admire him, for it was the very smile which I should have
 +      myself smiled had I been in his position.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​At least,&​rdquo;​ said I, &​ldquo;​tell us the name of this village.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​It is Dobrova.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​And that is Minsk over yonder, I suppose.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Yes,​ that is Minsk.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Then we shall go to the village and we shall very soon find some one who
 +      will translate this despatch.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      So we rode onward together, a trooper with his carbine unslung on either
 +      side of our prisoner. The village was but a little place, and I set a
 +      guard at the ends of the single street, so that no one could escape from
 +      it. It was necessary to call a halt and to find some food for the men and
 +      horses, since they had travelled all night and had a long journey still
 +      before them.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      There was one large stone house in the centre of the village, and to this
 +      I rode. It was the house of the priest&​mdash;​a snuffy and ill-favoured old
 +      man who had not a civil answer to any of our questions. An uglier fellow I
 +      never met, but, my faith, it was very different with his only daughter,
 +      who kept house for him. She was a brunette, a rare thing in Russia, with
 +      creamy skin, raven hair, and a pair of the most glorious dark eyes that
 +      ever kindled at the sight of a Hussar. From the first glance I saw that
 +      she was mine. It was no time for love-making when a soldier'​s duty had to
 +      be done, but still, as I took the simple meal which they laid before me, I
 +      chatted lightly with the lady, and we were the best of friends before an
 +      hour had passed. Sophie was her first name, her second I never knew. I
 +      taught her to call me Etienne, and I tried to cheer her up, for her sweet
 +      face was sad and there were tears in her beautiful dark eyes. I pressed
 +      her to tell me what it was which was grieving her.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​How can I be otherwise,&​rdquo;​ said she, speaking French with a most adorable
 +      lisp, &​ldquo;​when one of my poor countrymen is a prisoner in your hands? I saw
 +      him between two of your Hussars as you rode into the village.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​It is the fortune of war,&​rdquo;​ said I. &​ldquo;​His turn to-day; mine, perhaps,
 +      to-morrow.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​But consider, Monsieur&​mdash;&​rdquo;​ said she.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Etienne,&​rdquo;​ said I.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Oh,​ Monsieur&​mdash;&​mdash;&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Etienne,&​rdquo;​ said I.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Well,​ then,&​rdquo;​ she cried, beautifully flushed and desperate, &​ldquo;​consider,​
 +      Etienne, that this young officer will be taken back to your army and will
 +      be starved or frozen, for if, as I hear, your own soldiers have a hard
 +      march, what will be the lot of a prisoner?&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      I shrugged my shoulders.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​You have a kind face, Etienne,&​rdquo;​ said she; &​ldquo;​you would not condemn this
 +      poor man to certain death. I entreat you to let him go.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      Her delicate hand rested upon my sleeve, her dark eyes looked imploringly
 +      into mine.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      A sudden thought passed through my mind. I would grant her request, but I
 +      would demand a favour in return.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      At my order the prisoner was brought up into the room.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Captain Barakoff,&​rdquo;​ said I, &​ldquo;​this young lady has begged me to release you,
 +      and I am inclined to do so. I would ask you to give your parole that you
 +      will remain in this dwelling for twenty-four hours, and take no steps to
 +      inform anyone of our movements.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​I will do so,&​rdquo;​ said he.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Then I trust in your honour. One man more or less can make no difference
 +      in a struggle between great armies, and to take you back as a prisoner
 +      would be to condemn you to death. Depart, sir, and show your gratitude not
 +      to me, but to the first French officer who falls into your hands.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      When he was gone I drew my paper from my pocket.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Now,​ Sophie,&​rdquo;​ said I, &​ldquo;​I have done what you asked me, and all that I ask
 +      in return is that you will give me a lesson in Russian.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​With all my heart,&​rdquo;​ said she.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Let us begin on this,&​rdquo;​ said I, spreading out the paper before her. &​ldquo;​Let
 +      us take it word for word and see what it means.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      She looked at the writing with some surprise. &​ldquo;​It means,&​rdquo;​ said she, &​ldquo;​if
 +      the French come to Minsk all is lost.&​rdquo;​ Suddenly a look of consternation
 +      passed over her beautiful face. &​ldquo;​Great Heavens!&​rdquo;​ she cried, &​ldquo;​what is it
 +      that I have done? I have betrayed my country! Oh, Etienne, your eyes are
 +      the last for whom this message is meant. How could you be so cunning as to
 +      make a poor, simple-minded,​ and unsuspecting girl betray the cause of her
 +      country?&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      I consoled my poor Sophie as best I might, and I assured her that it was
 +      no reproach to her that she should be outwitted by so old a campaigner and
 +      so shrewd a man as myself. But it was no time now for talk. This message
 +      made it clear that the corn was indeed at Minsk, and that there were no
 +      troops there to defend it. I gave a hurried order from the window, the
 +      trumpeter blew the assembly, and in ten minutes we had left the village
 +      behind us and were riding hard for the city, the gilded domes and minarets
 +      of which glimmered above the snow of the horizon. Higher they rose and
 +      higher, until at last, as the sun sank toward the west, we were in the
 +      broad main street, and galloped up it amid the shouts of the moujiks and
 +      the cries of frightened women until we found ourselves in front of the
 +      great town-hall. My cavalry I drew up in the square, and I, with my two
 +      sergeants, Oudin and Papilette, rushed into the building.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Heavens! shall I ever forget the sight which greeted us? Right in front of
 +      us was drawn up a triple line of Russian Grenadiers. Their muskets rose as
 +      we entered, and a crashing volley burst into our very faces. Oudin and
 +      Papilette dropped upon the floor, riddled with bullets.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      For myself, my busby was shot away and I had two holes through my dolman.
 +      The Grenadiers ran at me with their bayonets. &​ldquo;​Treason!&​rdquo;​ I cried. &​ldquo;​We are
 +      betrayed! Stand to your horses!&​rdquo;​ I rushed out of the hall, but the whole
 +      square was swarming with troops.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      From every side street Dragoons and Cossacks were riding down upon us, and
 +      such a rolling fire had burst from the surrounding houses that half my men
 +      and horses were on the ground. &​ldquo;​Follow me!&​rdquo;​ I yelled, and sprang upon
 +      Violette, but a giant of a Russian Dragoon officer threw his arms round me
 +      and we rolled on the ground together.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      He shortened his sword to kill me, but, changing his mind, he seized me by
 +      the throat and banged my head against the stones until I was unconscious.
 +      So it was that I became the prisoner of the Russians.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      When I came to myself my only regret was that my captor had not beaten out
 +      my brains. There in the grand square of Minsk lay half my troopers dead or
 +      wounded, with exultant crowds of Russians gathered round them.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      The rest in a melancholy group were herded into the porch of the
 +      town-hall, a sotnia of Cossacks keeping guard over them. Alas! what could
 +      I say, what could I do? It was evident that I had led my men into a
 +      carefully-baited trap. They had heard of our mission and they had prepared
 +      for us. And yet there was that despatch which had caused me to neglect all
 +      precautions and to ride straight into the town. How was I to account for
 +      that? The tears ran down my cheeks as I surveyed the ruin of my squadron,
 +      and as I thought of the plight of my comrades of the Grand Army who
 +      awaited the food which I was to have brought them. Ney had trusted me and
 +      I had failed him. How often he would strain his eyes over the snow-fields
 +      for that convoy of grain which should never gladden his sight! My own fate
 +      was hard enough. An exile in Siberia was the best which the future could
 +      bring me. But you will believe me, my friends, that it was not for his own
 +      sake, but for that of his starving comrades, that Etienne Gerard'​s cheeks
 +      were lined by his tears, frozen even as they were shed.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​What'​s this?&​rdquo;​ said a gruff voice at my elbow; and I turned to face the
 +      huge, black-bearded Dragoon who had dragged me from my saddle. &​ldquo;​Look at
 +      the Frenchman crying! I thought that the Corsican was followed by brave
 +      men and not by children.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​If you and I were face to face and alone, I should let you see which is
 +      the better man,&​rdquo;​ said I.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      For answer the brute struck me across the face with his open hand. I
 +      seized him by the throat, but a dozen of his soldiers tore me away from
 +      him, and he struck me again while they held my hands.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​You base hound,&​rdquo;​ I cried, &​ldquo;​is this the way to treat an officer and a
 +      gentleman?&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​We never asked you to come to Russia,&​rdquo;​ said he. &​ldquo;​If you do you must take
 +      such treatment as you can get. I would shoot you off-hand if I had my
 +      way.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​You will answer for this some day,&​rdquo;​ I cried, as I wiped the blood from my
 +      moustache.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​If the Hetman Platoff is of my way of thinking you will not be alive this
 +      time to-morrow,&​rdquo;​ he answered, with a ferocious scowl. He added some words
 +      in Russian to his troops, and instantly they all sprang to their saddles.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Poor Violette, looking as miserable as her master, was led round and I was
 +      told to mount her. My left arm was tied with a thong which was fastened to
 +      the stirrup-iron of a sergeant of Dragoons. So in most sorry plight I and
 +      the remnant of my men set forth from Minsk.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Never have I met such a brute as this man Sergine, who commanded the
 +      escort. The Russian army contains the best and the worst in the world, but
 +      a worse than Major Sergine of the Dragoons of Kieff I have never seen in
 +      any force outside of the guerillas of the Peninsula.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      He was a man of great stature, with a fierce, hard face and a bristling
 +      black beard, which fell over his cuirass.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      I have been told since that he was noted for his strength and his bravery,
 +      and I could answer for it that he had the grip of a bear, for I had felt
 +      it when he tore me from my saddle. He was a wit, too, in his way, and made
 +      continual remarks in Russian at our expense which set all his Dragoons and
 +      Cossacks laughing. Twice he beat my comrades with his riding-whip,​ and
 +      once he approached me with the lash swung over his shoulder, but there was
 +      something in my eyes which prevented it from falling.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      So in misery and humiliation,​ cold and starving, we rode in a disconsolate
 +      column across the vast snow-plain. The sun had sunk, but still in the long
 +      northern twilight we pursued our weary journey. Numbed and frozen, with my
 +      head aching from the blows it had received, I was borne onward by
 +      Violette, hardly conscious of where I was or whither I was going. The
 +      little mare walked with a sunken head, only raising it to snort her
 +      contempt for the mangy Cossack ponies who were round her.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      But suddenly the escort stopped, and I found that we had halted in the
 +      single street of a small Russian village.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      There was a church on one side, and on the other was a large stone house,
 +      the outline of which seemed to me to be familiar. I looked around me in
 +      the twilight, and then I saw that we had been led back to Dobrova, and
 +      that this house at the door of which we were waiting was the same house of
 +      the priest at which we had stopped in the morning. Here it was that my
 +      charming Sophie in her innocence had translated the unlucky message which
 +      had in some strange way led us to our ruin. To think that only a few hours
 +      before we had left this very spot with such high hopes and all fair
 +      prospects for our mission, and now the remnants of us waited as beaten and
 +      humiliated men for whatever lot a brutal enemy might ordain! But such is
 +      the fate of the soldier, my friends&​mdash;​kisses to-day, blows to-morrow.
 +      Tokay in a palace, ditch-water in a hovel, furs or rags, a full purse or
 +      an empty pocket, ever swaying from the best to the worst, with only his
 +      courage and his honour unchanging.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      The Russian horsemen dismounted, and my poor fellows were ordered to do
 +      the same. It was already late, and it was clearly their intention to spend
 +      the night in this village. There were great cheering and joy amongst the
 +      peasants when they understood that we had all been taken, and they flocked
 +      out of their houses with flaming torches, the women carrying out tea and
 +      brandy for the Cossacks. Amongst others the old priest came forth&​mdash;​the
 +      same whom we had seen in the morning. He was all smiles now, and he bore
 +      with him some hot punch on a salver, the reek of which I can remember
 +      still. Behind her father was Sophie. With horror I saw her clasp Major
 +      Sergine'​s hand as she congratulated him upon the victory he had won and
 +      the prisoners he had made. The old priest, her father, looked at me with
 +      an insolent face and made insulting remarks at my expense, pointing at me
 +      with his lean and grimy hand. His fair daughter Sophie looked at me also,
 +      but she said nothing, and I could read her tender pity in her dark eyes.
 +      At last she turned to Major Sergine and said something to him in Russian,
 +      on which he frowned and shook his head impatiently.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      She appeared to plead with him, standing there in the flood of light which
 +      shone from the open door of her father'​s house. My eyes were fixed upon
 +      the two faces, that of the beautiful girl and of the dark, fierce man, for
 +      my instinct told me that it was my own fate which was under debate. For a
 +      long time the soldier shook his head, and then, at last softening before
 +      her pleadings, he appeared to give way. He turned to where I stood with my
 +      guardian sergeant beside me.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​These good people offer you the shelter of their roof for the night,&​rdquo;​
 +       said he to me, looking me up and down with vindictive eyes. &​ldquo;​I find it
 +      hard to refuse them, but I tell you straight that for my part I had rather
 +      see you on the snow. It would cool your hot blood, you rascal of a
 +      Frenchman!&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      I looked at him with the contempt that I felt.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​You were born a savage and you will die one,&​rdquo;​ said I.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      My words stung him, for he broke into an oath, raising his whip as if he
 +      would strike me.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Silence,​ you crop-eared dog!&​rdquo;​ he cried. &​ldquo;​Had I my way some of the
 +      insolence would be frozen out of you before morning.&​rdquo;​ Mastering his
 +      passion, he turned upon Sophie with what he meant to be a gallant manner.
 +      &​ldquo;​If you have a cellar with a good lock,&​rdquo;​ said he, &​ldquo;​the fellow may lie in
 +      it for the night, since you have done him the honour to take an interest
 +      in his comfort. I must have his parole that he will not attempt to play us
 +      any tricks, as I am answerable for him until I hand him over to the Hetman
 +      Platoff to-morrow.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      His supercilious manner was more than I could endure.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      He had evidently spoken French to the lady in order that I might
 +      understand the humiliating way in which he referred to me.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​I will take no favour from you,&​rdquo;​ said I. &​ldquo;​You may do what you like, but I
 +      will never give you my parole.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      The Russian shrugged his great shoulders, and turned away as if the matter
 +      were ended.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Very well, my fine fellow, so much the worse for your fingers and toes.
 +      We shall see how you are in the morning after a night in the snow.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​One moment, Major Sergine,&​rdquo;​ cried Sophie. &​ldquo;​You must not be so hard upon
 +      this prisoner. There are some special reasons why he has a claim upon our
 +      kindness and mercy.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      The Russian looked with suspicion upon his face from her to me.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​What are the special reasons? You certainly seem to take a remarkable
 +      interest in this Frenchman,&​rdquo;​ said he.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​The chief reason is that he has this very morning of his own accord
 +      released Captain Alexis Barakoff, of the Dragoons of Grodno.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​It is true,&​rdquo;​ said Barakoff, who had come out of the house. &​ldquo;​He captured
 +      me this morning, and he released me upon parole rather than take me back
 +      to the French army, where I should have been starved.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Since Colonel Gerard has acted so generously you will surely, now that
 +      fortune has changed, allow us to offer him the poor shelter of our cellar
 +      upon this bitter night,&​rdquo;​ said Sophie. &​ldquo;​It is a small return for his
 +      generosity.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      But the Dragoon was still in the sulks.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Let him give me his parole first that he will not attempt to escape,&​rdquo;​
 +       said he. &​ldquo;​Do you hear, sir? Do you give me your parole?&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​I give you nothing,&​rdquo;​ said I.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Colonel Gerard,&​rdquo;​ cried Sophie, turning to me with a coaxing smile, &​ldquo;​you
 +      will give me your parole, will you not?&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​To you, mademoiselle,​ I can refuse nothing. I will give you my parole,
 +      with pleasure.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​There,​ Major Sergine,&​rdquo;​ cried Sophie, in triumph, &​ldquo;​that is surely
 +      sufficient. You have heard him say that he gives me his parole. I will be
 +      answerable for his safety.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      In an ungracious fashion my Russian bear grunted his consent, and so I was
 +      led into the house, followed by the scowling father and by the big,
 +      black-bearded Dragoon. In the basement there was a large and roomy
 +      chamber, where the winter logs were stored. Thither it was that I was led,
 +      and I was given to understand that this was to be my lodging for the
 +      night. One side of this bleak apartment was heaped up to the ceiling with
 +      fagots of firewood. The rest of the room was stone-flagged and
 +      bare-walled,​ with a single, deep-set window upon one side, which was
 +      safely guarded with iron bars. For light I had a large stable lantern,
 +      which swung from a beam of the low ceiling. Major Sergine smiled as he
 +      took this down, and swung it round so as to throw its light into every
 +      corner of that dreary chamber.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​How do you like our Russian hotels, monsieur?&​rdquo;​ he asked, with his hateful
 +      sneer. &​ldquo;​They are not very grand, but they are the best that we can give
 +      you. Perhaps the next time that you Frenchmen take a fancy to travel you
 +      will choose some other country where they will make you more comfortable.&​rdquo;​
 +       He stood laughing at me, his white teeth gleaming through his beard. Then
 +      he left me, and I heard the great key creak in the lock.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      For an hour of utter misery, chilled in body and soul, I sat upon a pile
 +      of fagots, my face sunk upon my hands and my mind full of the saddest
 +      thoughts. It was cold enough within those four walls, but I thought of the
 +      sufferings of my poor troopers outside, and I sorrowed with their sorrow.
 +      Then I paced up and down, and I clapped my hands together and kicked my
 +      feet against the walls to keep them from being frozen. The lamp gave out
 +      some warmth, but still it was bitterly cold, and I had had no food since
 +      morning. It seemed to me that everyone had forgotten me, but at last I
 +      heard the key turn in the lock, and who should enter but my prisoner of
 +      the morning, Captain Alexis Barakoff. A bottle of wine projected from
 +      under his arm, and he carried a great plate of hot stew in front of him.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Hush!&​rdquo;​ said he; &​ldquo;​not a word! Keep up your heart! I cannot stop to
 +      explain, for Sergine is still with us. Keep awake and ready!&​rdquo;​ With these
 +      hurried words he laid down the welcome food and ran out of the room.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Keep awake and ready!&​rdquo;​ The words rang in my ears. I ate my food and I
 +      drank my wine, but it was neither food nor wine which had warmed the heart
 +      within me. What could those words of Barakoff mean?
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Why was I to remain awake? For what was I to be ready? Was it possible
 +      that there was a chance yet of escape? I have never respected the man who
 +      neglects his prayers at all other times and yet prays when he is in peril.
 +      It is like a bad soldier who pays no respect to the colonel save when he
 +      would demand a favour of him. And yet when I thought of the salt-mines of
 +      Siberia on the one side and of my mother in France upon the other, I could
 +      not help a prayer rising, not from my lips, but from my heart, that the
 +      words of Barakoff might mean all that I hoped. But hour after hour struck
 +      upon the village clock, and still I heard nothing save the call of the
 +      Russian sentries in the street outside.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Then at last my heart leaped within me, for I heard a light step in the
 +      passage. An instant later the key turned, the door opened, and Sophie was
 +      in the room.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Monsieur&​mdash;&​rdquo;​ she cried.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Etienne,&​rdquo;​ said I.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Nothing will change you,&​rdquo;​ said she. &​ldquo;​But is it possible that you do not
 +      hate me? Have you forgiven me the trick which I played you?&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​What trick?&​rdquo;​ I asked.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Good heavens! Is it possible that even now you have not understood it?
 +      You have asked me to translate the despatch. I have told you that it
 +      meant, 'If the French come to Minsk all is lost.'&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​What did it mean, then?&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​It means, 'Let the French come to Minsk. We are awaiting them.&​rdquo;'​
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      I sprang back from her.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​You betrayed me!&​rdquo;​ I cried. &​ldquo;​You lured me into this trap. It is to you
 +      that I owe the death and capture of my men. Fool that I was to trust a
 +      woman!&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Do not be unjust, Colonel Gerard. I am a Russian woman, and my first duty
 +      is to my country. Would you not wish a French girl to have acted as I have
 +      done? Had I translated the message correctly you would not have gone to
 +      Minsk and your squadron would have escaped. Tell me that you forgive me!&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      She looked bewitching as she stood pleading her cause in front of me. And
 +      yet, as I thought of my dead men, I could not take the hand which she held
 +      out to me.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Very good,&​rdquo;​ said she, as she dropped it by her side.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​You feel for your own people and I feel for mine, and so we are equal.
 +      But you have said one wise and kindly thing within these walls, Colonel
 +      Gerard. You have said, 'One man more or less can make no difference in a
 +      struggle between two great armies.'​ Your lesson of nobility is not wasted.
 +      Behind those fagots is an unguarded door. Here is the key to it. Go forth,
 +      Colonel Gerard, and I trust that we may never look upon each other'​s faces
 +      again.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      I stood for an instant with the key in my hand and my head in a whirl.
 +      Then I handed it back to her.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​I cannot do it,&​rdquo;​ I said.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Why not?&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​I have given my parole.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​To whom?&​rdquo;​ she asked.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Why,​ to you.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​And I release you from it.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      My heart bounded with joy. Of course, it was true what she said. I had
 +      refused to give my parole to Sergine. I owed him no duty. If she relieved
 +      me from my promise my honour was clear. I took the key from her hand.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​You will find Captain Barakoff at the end of the village street,&​rdquo;​ said
 +      she. &​ldquo;​We of the North never forget either an injury or a kindness. He has
 +      your mare and your sword waiting for you. Do not delay an instant, for in
 +      two hours it will be dawn.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      So I passed out into the star-lit Russian night, and had that last glimpse
 +      of Sophie as she peered after me through the open door. She looked
 +      wistfully at me as if she expected something more than the cold thanks
 +      which I gave her, but even the humblest man has his pride, and I will not
 +      deny that mine was hurt by the deception which she had played upon me. I
 +      could not have brought myself to kiss her hand, far less her lips. The
 +      door led into a narrow alley, and at the end of it stood a muffled figure,
 +      who held Violette by the bridle.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​You told me to be kind to the next French officer whom I found in
 +      distress,&​rdquo;​ said he. &​ldquo;​Good luck! Bon voyage!&​rdquo;​ he whispered, as I bounded
 +      into the saddle.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Remember,​ '​Poltava'​ is the watchword.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      It was well that he had given it to me, for twice I had to pass Cossack
 +      pickets before I was clear of the lines.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      I had just ridden past the last vedettes and hoped that I was a free man
 +      again, when there was a soft thudding in the snow behind me, and a heavy
 +      man upon a great black horse came swiftly after me. My first impulse was
 +      to put spurs to Violette. My second, as I saw a long black beard against a
 +      steel cuirass, was to halt and await him.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​I thought that it was you, you dog of a Frenchman,&​rdquo;​ he cried, shaking his
 +      drawn sword at me. &​ldquo;​So you have broken your parole, you rascal!&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​I gave no parole.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​You lie, you hound!&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      I looked around and no one was coming. The vedettes were motionless and
 +      distant. We were all alone, with the moon above and the snow beneath.
 +      Fortune has ever been my friend.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​I gave you no parole.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​You gave it to the lady.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Then I will answer for it to the lady.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​That would suit you better, no doubt. But, unfortunately,​ you will have
 +      to answer for it to me.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​I am ready.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Your sword, too! There is treason in this! Ah, I see it all! The woman
 +      has helped you. She shall see Siberia for this night'​s work.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      The words were his death-warrant. For Sophie'​s sake I could not let him go
 +      back alive. Our blades crossed, and an instant later mine was through his
 +      black beard and deep in his throat. I was on the ground almost as soon as
 +      he, but the one thrust was enough. He died, snapping his teeth at my
 +      ankles like a savage wolf.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Two days later I had rejoined the army at Smolensk, and was a part once
 +      more of that dreary procession which tramped onward through the snow,
 +      leaving a long weal of blood to show the path which it had taken.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Enough, my friends; I would not re-awaken the memory of those days of
 +      misery and death. They still come to haunt me in my dreams. When we halted
 +      at last in Warsaw we had left behind us our guns, our transport, and
 +      three-fourths of our comrades. But we did not leave behind us the honour
 +      of Etienne Gerard. They have said that I broke my parole. Let them beware
 +      how they say it to my face, for the story is as I tell it, and old as I am
 +      my forefinger is not too weak to press a trigger when my honour is in
 +      question.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      <a name="​link2H_4_0008"​ id="​link2H_4_0008">​
 +      <​!-- ​ H2 anchor --> </a>
 +    </p>
 +    <div style="​height:​ 4em;">​
 +      <br /><br /><br /><br />
 +    </​div>​
 +    <h2>
 +      VII. How the Brigadier Bore Himself at Waterloo
 +    </h2>
 +    <p>
 +      I. THE STORY OF THE FOREST INN
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Of all the great battles in which I had the honour of drawing my sword for
 +      the Emperor and for France there was not one which was lost. At Waterloo,
 +      although, in a sense, I was present, I was unable to fight, and the enemy
 +      was victorious. It is not for me to say that there is a connection between
 +      these two things. You know me too well, my friends, to imagine that I
 +      would make such a claim. But it gives matter for thought, and some have
 +      drawn flattering conclusions from it.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      After all, it was only a matter of breaking a few English squares and the
 +      day would have been our own. If the Hussars of Conflans, with Etienne
 +      Gerard to lead them, could not do this, then the best judges are mistaken.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      But let that pass. The Fates had ordained that I should hold my hand and
 +      that the Empire should fall. But they had also ordained that this day of
 +      gloom and sorrow should bring such honour to me as had never come when I
 +      swept on the wings of victory from Boulogne to Vienna.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Never had I burned so brilliantly as at that supreme moment when the
 +      darkness fell upon all around me. You are aware that I was faithful to the
 +      Emperor in his adversity, and that I refused to sell my sword and my
 +      honour to the Bourbons. Never again was I to feel my war horse between my
 +      knees, never again to hear the kettledrums and silver trumpets behind me
 +      as I rode in front of my little rascals. But it comforts my heart, my
 +      friends, and it brings the tears to my eyes, to think how great I was upon
 +      that last day of my soldier life, and to remember that of all the
 +      remarkable exploits which have won me the love of so many beautiful women,
 +      and the respect of so many noble men, there was none which, in splendour,
 +      in audacity, and in the great end which was attained, could compare with
 +      my famous ride upon the night of June 18th, 1815. I am aware that the
 +      story is often told at mess-tables and in barrack-rooms,​ so that there are
 +      few in the army who have not heard it, but modesty has sealed my lips,
 +      until now, my friends, in the privacy of these intimate gatherings, I am
 +      inclined to lay the true facts before you.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      In the first place, there is one thing which I can assure you. In all his
 +      career Napoleon never had so splendid an army as that with which he took
 +      the field for that campaign. In 1813 France was exhausted. For every
 +      veteran there were five children&​mdash;​Marie Louises, as we called them;
 +      for the Empress had busied herself in raising levies while the Emperor
 +      took the field. But it was very different in 1815. The prisoners had all
 +      come back&​mdash;​the men from the snows of Russia, the men from the
 +      dungeons of Spain, the men from the hulks in England.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      These were the dangerous men, veterans of twenty battles, longing for
 +      their old trade, and with hearts filled with hatred and revenge. The ranks
 +      were full of soldiers who wore two and three chevrons, every chevron
 +      meaning five years' service. And the spirit of these men was terrible.
 +      They were raging, furious, fanatical, adoring the Emperor as a Mameluke
 +      does his prophet, ready to fall upon their own bayonets if their blood
 +      could serve him. If you had seen these fierce old veterans going into
 +      battle, with their flushed faces, their savage eyes, their furious yells,
 +      you would wonder that anything could stand against them. So high was the
 +      spirit of France at that time that every other spirit would have quailed
 +      before it; but these people, these English, had neither spirit nor soul,
 +      but only solid, immovable beef, against which we broke ourselves in vain.
 +      That was it, my friends! On the one side, poetry, gallantry,
 +      self-sacrifice&​mdash;​all that is beautiful and heroic. On the other side,
 +      beef. Our hopes, our ideals, our dreams&​mdash;​all were shattered on that
 +      terrible beef of Old England.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      You have read how the Emperor gathered his forces, and then how he and I,
 +      with a hundred and thirty thousand veterans, hurried to the northern
 +      frontier and fell upon the Prussians and the English. On the 16th of June,
 +      Ney held the English in play at Quatre-Bras while we beat the Prussians at
 +      Ligny. It is not for me to say how far I contributed to that victory, but
 +      it is well known that the Hussars of Conflans covered themselves with
 +      glory. They fought well, these Prussians, and eight thousand of them were
 +      left upon the field. The Emperor thought that he had done with them, as he
 +      sent Marshal Grouchy with thirty-two thousand men to follow them up and to
 +      prevent their interfering with his plans. Then with nearly eighty thousand
 +      men, he turned upon these &​ldquo;​Goddam&​rdquo;​ Englishmen. How much we had to avenge
 +      upon them, we Frenchmen&​mdash;​the guineas of Pitt, the hulks of
 +      Portsmouth, the invasion of Wellington, the perfidious victories of
 +      Nelson! At last the day of punishment seemed to have arisen.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      Wellington had with him sixty-seven thousand men, but many of them were
 +      known to be Dutch and Belgian, who had no great desire to fight against
 +      us. Of good troops he had not fifty thousand. Finding himself in the
 +      presence of the Emperor in person with eighty thousand men, this
 +      Englishman was so paralysed with fear that he could neither move himself
 +      nor his army. You have seen the rabbit when the snake approaches. So stood
 +      the English upon the ridge of Waterloo. The night before, the Emperor, who
 +      had lost an aide-de-camp at Ligny, ordered me to join his staff, and I had
 +      left my Hussars to the charge of Major Victor. I know not which of us was
 +      the most grieved, they or I, that I should be called away upon the eve of
 +      battle, but an order is an order, and a good soldier can but shrug his
 +      shoulders and obey. With the Emperor I rode across the front of the
 +      enemy'​s position on the morning of the 18th, he looking at them through
 +      his glass and planning which was the shortest way to destroy them. Soult
 +      was at his elbow, and Ney and Foy and others who had fought the English in
 +      Portugal and Spain. &​ldquo;​Have a care, Sire,&​rdquo;​ said Soult. &​ldquo;​The English infantry
 +      is very solid.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​You think them good soldiers because they have beaten you,&​rdquo;​ said the
 +      Emperor, and we younger men turned away our faces and smiled. But Ney and
 +      Foy were grave and serious. All the time the English line, chequered with
 +      red and blue and dotted with batteries, was drawn up silent and watchful
 +      within a long musket-shot of us. On the other side of the shallow valley
 +      our own people, having finished their soup, were assembling for the
 +      battle. It had rained very heavily, but at this moment the sun shone out
 +      and beat upon the French army, turning our brigades of cavalry into so
 +      many dazzling rivers of steel, and twinkling and sparkling on the
 +      innumerable bayonets of the infantry. At the sight of that splendid army,
 +      and the beauty and majesty of its appearance, I could contain myself no
 +      longer, but, rising in my stirrups, I waved my busby and cried, &​ldquo;​Vive
 +      l'​Empereur!&​rdquo;​ a shout which growled and roared and clattered from one end
 +      of the line to the other, while the horsemen waved their swords and the
 +      footmen held up their shakos upon their bayonets. The English remained
 +      petrified upon their ridge. They knew that their hour had come.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      And so it would have come if at that moment the word had been given and
 +      the whole army had been permitted to advance. We had but to fall upon them
 +      and to sweep them from the face of the earth. To put aside all question of
 +      courage, we were the more numerous, the older soldiers, and the better
 +      led. But the Emperor desired to do all things in order, and he waited
 +      until the ground should be drier and harder, so that his artillery could
 +      manoeuvre. So three hours were wasted, and it was eleven o'​clock before we
 +      saw Jerome Buonaparte'​s columns advance upon our left and heard the crash
 +      of the guns which told that the battle had begun. The loss of those three
 +      hours was our destruction. The attack upon the left was directed upon a
 +      farm-house which was held by the English Guards, and we heard the three
 +      loud shouts of apprehension which the defenders were compelled to utter.
 +      They were still holding out, and D'​Erlon'​s corps was advancing upon the
 +      right to engage another portion of the English line, when our attention
 +      was called away from the battle beneath our noses to a distant portion of
 +      the field of action.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      The Emperor had been looking through his glass to the extreme left of the
 +      English line, and now he turned suddenly to the Duke of Dalmatia, or
 +      Soult, as we soldiers preferred to call him.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​What is it, Marshal?&​rdquo;​ said he.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      We all followed the direction of his gaze, some raising our glasses, some
 +      shading our eyes. There was a thick wood over yonder, then a long, bare
 +      slope, and another wood beyond. Over this bare strip between the two woods
 +      there lay something dark, like the shadow of a moving cloud.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​I think that they are cattle, Sire,&​rdquo;​ said Soult.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      At that instant there came a quick twinkle from amid the dark shadow.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​It is Grouchy,&​rdquo;​ said the Emperor, and he lowered his glass. &​ldquo;​They are
 +      doubly lost, these English. I hold them in the hollow of my hand. They
 +      cannot escape me.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      He looked round, and his eyes fell upon me.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Ah! here is the prince of messengers,&​rdquo;​ said he. &​ldquo;​Are you well mounted,
 +      Colonel Gerard?&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      I was riding my little Violette, the pride of the brigade.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      I said so.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      &​ldquo;​Then ride hard to Marshal Grouchy, whose troops you see over yonder. Tell
 +      him that he is to fall upon the left flank and rear of the English while I
 +      attack them in front. Together we should crush them and not a man escape.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      I saluted and rode off without a word, my heart dancing with joy that such
 +      a mission should be mine. I looked at that long, solid line of red and
 +      blue looming through the smoke of the guns, and I shook my fist at it as I
 +      went. &​ldquo;​We shall crush them and not a man escape.&​rdquo;​
 +     </​p>​
 +    <p>
 +      They were the Emperor'​s words, and it was I, Etienne Gerard, who was to
 +      turn them into deeds. I burned to reach the Marshal, and for an instant I
 +      thought of riding through the English left wing, as being the shortest
 +      cut. I have done bolder deeds and come out safely, but I reflected that if
 +      things went badly with me and I was taken or shot the message would be
 +      lost and the plans of the Emperor miscarry. I passed in front of the
 +      cavalry, therefore, past the Chasseurs, the Lancers of the Guard, the
 +      Carabineers,​ the Horse Grenadiers, and, lastly, my own little rascals, who
 +      followed me wistfully with their eyes. Beyond the cavalry the Old Guard
 +      was standing, twelve regiments of them, all veterans of many battles,
 +      sombre and severe, in long blue overcoats and high bearskins from which
 +      the plumes had been removed. Each bore within the goatskin knapsack upon
 +      his back the blue and white parade uniform which they would use for their
 +      entry into Brussels next day. As I rode past them I reflected that these
 +      men had never been beaten, and as I looked at their weather-beaten faces
 +      and their stern and silent bearing, I said to myself that they never would
 +      be beaten. Great heavens, how little could I foresee what a few more hours
 +      would bring!
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      On the right of the Old Guard were the Young Guard and the 6th Corps of
 +      Lobau, and then I passed Jacquinot'​s Lancers and Marbot'​s Hussars, who
 +      held the extreme flank of the line. All these troops knew nothing of the
 +      corps which was coming toward them through the wood, and their attention
 +      was taken up in watching the battle which raged upon their left. More than
 +      a hundred guns were thundering from each side, and the din was so great
 +      that of all the battles which I have fought I cannot recall more than
 +      half-a-dozen which were as noisy. I looked back over my shoulder, and
 +      there were two brigades of Cuirassiers,​ English and French, pouring down
 +      the hill together, with the sword-blades playing over them like summer
 +      lightning. How I longed to turn Violette, and to lead my Hussars into the
 +      thick of it! What a picture! Etienne Gerard with his back to the battle,
 +      and a fine cavalry action raging behind him.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      But duty is duty, so I rode past Marbot'​s vedettes and on in the direction
 +      of the wood, passing the village of Frishermont upon my left.
 +    </p>
 +    <p>
 +      In front of me lay the great wood, called the Wood of Paris, consisting
 +      mostly of oak trees, with a few narrow paths leading through it. I halt