"Cover up your head, Stephanie," Julian said as, holding his hand tightly, they entered the hall together. "If others were to see you the news would run through the house like wildfire, and it would come to your mother's ears before it had been broken to her. Tell Peter to take us into a quiet room, and not to inform the man he sends to the priest that you are here."
The following morning, after breakfast, the count said, as they lit their cigars, "Have you formed any plans yet, Mr. Wyatt? Of course I do not mean for the present. It is understood that this is your home as long as you will be good enough to make it so, and the longer you stay the greater pleasure it will give us; but I mean for the future. Are you thinking of returning to England?"
Still, Napoleon could not bring himself to issue a general order for a retreat, but corps after corps was moved along the western road. Mortier's division remained last in Moscow, and marched on the 23rd of October, after having, by Napoleon's orders, blown up the Kremlin, the Church of St. Nicholas, and the adjoining buildings. The safest line of retreat would have been through Witebsk, but Napoleon took the more southern road, and the army believed that it was intended to fight another great battle with the Russians.下载
"It is a beastly shame, and I will give it up, Frank; honour bright, I will."下载
The Emperor was greatly moved. However, the manner in which the general fulfilled the mission with which he was charged, and his assurances that the act of seeming insubordination and defiance of the imperial authority was in no way directed against him, but against his advisers, whom they believed to be acting in the interests of Napoleon, had their effect, and the Emperor promised to give the matter every consideration, and to answer him definitely on the following day. At the next meeting he gave Sir Robert his authority to assure the army of his determination to continue the war against Napoleon while a Frenchman remained in arms on Russian soil, and that, if the worst came to the worst, he would remove his family far into the interior, and make any sacrifice rather than break that engagement. At the same time, while he could not submit to dictation in the matter of his ministers, he could assure them that these should in no way influence him to break this promise.下载
There was a general hum of assent, and when the child went gravely among them, shaking hands with each, many an eye was moistened, as the men's thoughts went back to their own homes, and to little sisters or nieces whom they had played with there. Soon afterwards the colonel came by, and Julian, stepping forward, saluted him and said:下载
Sir Robert listened to their arguments, and then said: "This is altogether too grave a matter for me to decide upon hastily. I know thoroughly well that there is no thought of disloyalty in the mind of any of you towards the will of the Emperor, but the act is one of the gravest insubordination, and it is indeed a threat that you will disobey his Majesty's commands in the event of his ordering a suspension of hostilities. As to the conduct of the commander-in-chief, I am not competent to express any opinion whatever, but as a soldier I can understand that this long-continued retreat and the abandonment of so many provinces to the enemy, without striking a single blow in their defence, is trying in the extreme, both to yourselves and your brave soldiers. I shall not leave the army until I see it fairly on the march again, but before I start I will give you my reply."
"I had a letter," Colonel Wilson went on, "from Colonel Chambers, who was a captain in the 15th when I joined. He spoke in very high terms of you, and sent a copy of the proceedings and reports connected with the murder of that magistrate, and said that it was almost entirely due to your sharpness that your brother was cleared of the suspicion that had not unreasonably fallen upon him, and the saddle put upon the right horse. There is a sort of idea that any dashing young fellow will do for the cavalry, and no doubt dash is one of the prime requisites for cavalry officers, but if he is really to distinguish himself and be something more than a brave swordsman, more especially if he is likely to have the opportunity of obtaining a staff appointment, he needs other qualities, for on a reconnaissance a man who has a quick eye, good powers of observation and thoughtfulness, may send in a report of a most valuable kind, while that of the average young officer might be absolutely useless.
Three days later Frank said good-bye to his aunt and friends, and returned to Canterbury, travelling this time by coach, as no craft happened to be sailing for Dover.