Frank was a good deal surprised at first to see how much more difficult it was to hit a mark, even at the distance of twelve paces, than he imagined that it would be. Woodall would not allow him to take aim.
"A good find, Jules. It was a young officer. He was evidently coming back with an order, but his horse fell dead under him. The lad had lost an arm, at Borodino I expect, and was only just strong enough to sit his horse. We think that the fall on the hard snow stunned him, and the frost soon finished the work. He had been well fitted out, and some of his things will do for the little one. He had a fur-lined jacket which will wrap her up grandly from head to foot. Here are a pair of thick flannel drawers. If we cut them off at the knee you can tuck all her little clothes inside it, and they will button up under her arms and come down over her feet. She will look queer, but it will keep her warm. This pair of stockings will pull up her arms to her shoulders, and here is another pair that was in his valise. They are knitted, and one will pull down over her ears. You see they are blue, and if you cut the foot off and tie up the hole it will look like a fisherman's cap, and the other will go over her head and tie up under her chin."
"May the great Father bless you, my child. I have seen many glad days since I entered the service of your house sixty years ago. I was present at your grandfather's wedding, and your father's, but never was there so bright and happy a day as this, which but half an hour ago was so dark and sad. It was but three days ago that the whole household went into mourning for you, for the news your father brought home seemed to show that all hope was at an end. In five minutes all this has changed. You see the maids have got on their festive dresses, and I will warrant me they never changed their things so rapidly before. Now we have but to get your beloved mother strong again, which, please God, will not be long, and then this will be the happiest house in all Russia."
"Comrades," he said, "here is a new recruit. He is an Englishman who has the good sense to prefer fighting the Russians to rotting in prison. He is a brave fellow, and speaks our language well, and I think you will find him a good comrade. He has handed over twenty francs to pay his footing in the company. You must not regard him as a traitor to his country, my friends, for he has received from the colonel a paper authorizing him to exchange into a regiment destined for other service, in case, after we have done with the Russians, we should be sent to some place where we should have to fight against his countrymen."
"Will you act for me, Captain Lister?" Frank said, going up to him quietly.
Ten days after the affair Julian started early one morning for a day's rabbit-shooting at the house of a friend who lived some six miles up the valley. Some snow fell in the course of the afternoon and put a stop to shooting, and he started to walk home. When he was within a few hundred yards of Mr. Faulkner's place he heard a horse coming along behind him. The snow that had fallen had deadened the sound of the hoofs on the road, and, looking round, he saw Mr. Faulkner riding fast, at a distance of but fifty yards away. Had he caught sight of him sooner Julian would have left the road and entered the wood to avoid him, but it was too late now, and he hoped that at any rate the man would pass on without speaking. The horseman had apparently not recognized Julian until he came abreast of him, when, with a sudden exclamation, he reined in his horse.下载
The count set his little daughter down, and coming up to Julian threw his arms round his neck and kissed him in Russian fashion. "My benefactor!" he exclaimed, "I don't understand all that Stephanie has told me, but it is enough that you saved her life, and that you nursed her with the tenderness of a mother, and have restored her to us as one from the grave. Never can I fully express my thanks or prove my gratitude to you, but now you will, I trust, excuse me. I am burning to carry the news of our dear one's return to her mother, whose condition is giving us grave anxiety. She is far too weak to stand any sudden shock, and I will merely tell her now that news has come that a little girl whose description corresponds with that of Stephanie has been found and is on her way here, and may arrive very shortly. More than that I shall not venture upon to-day, unless, indeed, I find that the excitement and suspense is likely to be even more injurious to her than the state of dull despair in which she now lies. If I see that it is so I must go on, little by little, till she guesses the truth. Now, Stephanie, you had better come up to your own room. Of course, your friend will come with you," he added with a smile as Stephanie took Julian's hand. "But you had better wait three or four minutes so that I may give strict orders to the household that everything is to be kept perfectly quiet, and that not a sound is to be heard in the house. There will be time enough for rejoicings afterwards."
"The experience may be of benefit to him. Of course, when this matter first began, I made close enquiries in several quarters as to his character and habits. I need not say that I heard nothing whatever against him; but there was a sort of consensus of opinion that it was a pity that he had not some pursuit or occupation. As you know, he mixed himself up to some extent with smugglers, he spent his evenings frequently in billiard-rooms, and altogether, though there was nothing absolutely against him, it was clear that he was doing himself no good."