"I have no doubt that he would be delighted with it, Frank, but as he will have to pay his lodgings out of it and furnish his wardrobe, we might say two pounds, if you can afford it."
The French captain went down first. Julian was told to follow. The sailors and Markham then descended. A sharp jerk shook the rope off the bar, and the boat then rowed out to the smuggler, which was lying half a mile from shore. As soon as they were on board the sails were sheeted home, and the craft began to steal quietly through the water, towing the boat behind it. The whole operation had been conducted in perfect silence. The men were accustomed to their work; there was no occasion for orders, and it was not until they were another mile out that a word was spoken.
"Could not Mr. Downes get him off? He used often to be here in your father's time, though I have not seen much of him since; but I am sure he would do anything he could."
"No news of Markham, Aunt?"
In the charge, however, General Touchkoff, by whose valour the Russian army had been saved, was carried too far in advance of his men, and was taken prisoner. It was not until midnight that the rear of Barclay's column emerged from the cross road, in which it had been involved for twenty-four hours. In this fight the French and Russians lost about 6000 men each. Had Junot joined Ney in the attack on Touchkoff's force the greater part of the Russian army must have been destroyed or made prisoners.
Frank's eyes dilated with surprise and horror.
Frank found his aunt in good health. He stayed there three days, and then posted to Portsmouth, getting there early on the morning of the 7th. The Argo was lying at Spithead. Taking a wherry he went out to her at once. He found that all was in readiness, and that a small cabin had been assigned to him next to that of Sir Robert Wilson. His trunk was already there, and leaving his small portmanteau in his cabin, he went ashore and took up his quarters at the George. The ambassador, his secretary, and General Wilson arrived together in a post-chaise in the evening, and at eight o'clock next morning they all went on board.
"My dear Frank, I am afraid you must all have been in a horrible fright about me, and no wonder. I am a most unfortunate fellow, and seem to be always putting my foot in it, and yet really I don't think I was to blame about this. In the first place, I may tell you that I am on board a French smuggler, that we have just entered the Loire, and that in a few hours shall be at Nantes. The smugglers will bring this letter back to England, and as they say they shall probably sail again a few days after they get in, I hope it will not be very long before it comes to hand. And now as to how I got here."
"Yes, if the wind holds we shall be at Southampton tomorrow evening. I shall get out the cargo by torchlight, for with this wind I don't want to lose an hour. I don't know how much there will be to take in, but I reckon anyhow that we shall be off by nine o'clock in the morning, and if we have luck shall be at Weymouth before dark."