"They will be horribly alarmed when I don't get home to-night," Julian said.
Mr. Faulkner sat down, and Mr. Probert rose.
"We have a rough time before us, Jules," one of the veterans said. "I should not say as much to any of the youngsters, but your spirits seem proof against troubles. You see, in the first place, we know really nothing of what is going on. For the last four days we have heard the sound of cannon in the air. It is a long way off, and one feels it rather than hears it; but there has certainly been heavy and almost constant fighting. Well, that shows that there are Russians ahead of us. Never was I in a country before where we could get no news. It is all guess-work. There may be 50,000 Russians already between us and Davoust's division, and there may be only a handful of Cossacks. It is a toss-up. Nothing seems to go as one would expect in this country. We are at a big disadvantage; for the skill of our generals is thrown away when they are working altogether in the dark.
"But, however far he went, he ought to be back before this."
"The Russians are hardy fighters, comrades," one of the veterans said. "Parbleu! I who tell you, have fought against them, and they are not to be despised. They are slow at manu?vring, but put them in a place and tell them to hold it, and they will do it to the last. I fought at Austerlitz against the Austrians, and at Jena against the Prussians, and in a score of other battles in Germany and Italy, and I tell you that the Russians are the toughest enemies I have met, save only your Islanders, Jules. I was at Talavera, and the way your people held that hill after the cowardly Spaniards had bolted and left them, and at last rolled us down it, was a thing I don't want to see again. I was wounded and sent home to be patched up, and that is how I come to be here marching against Russia instead of being under Soult in Spain. No, comrades, you take my word for it, big as our army will be, we shall have some tough fighting to do before we get to Moscow or St. Petersburg, whichever the Little Corporal intends to dictate terms in."
Before leaving the building Frank found out where Strelinski was at work. He was engaged in translating a mass of Russian documents. He rose from his seat with an exclamation of delight when he saw Frank, who, after a short chat, asked him to come that evening to his hotel. He there learned that the Pole was getting on very well. His knowledge of German as well as of Russian had been very valuable to him; his salary had already been raised, and he was now at the head of a small department, having two of his countrymen and three Germans under him, and his future in the office was quite assured.