"I stood all night with my back to that post. Two fellows with muskets kept guard over me, but even if they hadn't done so I could not have got away, for I was so tightly bound that my limbs were numbed, and the cords felt as if they were red hot. In the morning a number of women brought up faggots. El Chico himself superintended their arrangement, taking care that they were placed in a large enough circle round me that the flames would not touch me; so that, in fact, I should be slowly roasted instead of burned. I looked about in the vague hope one always has that something might occur to save me, and my heart gave a jump when I saw a large body of men coming rapidly down a slope on the other side of the village. They were not our men, I was sure, but I could not see who they were; anyhow there might be someone among them who would interpose to save me from this villain.
The boats started as soon as their cargoes were on board, and the work went on uninterruptedly for the next two hours, by which time the last keg was on shore, and the boats returned to the lugger. The men were in high spirits. The cargo had been a valuable one, and the whole had been got rid of without interruption. The boats were at once hoisted up, the anchor weighed, and the lugger made her way out to sea.
Then he lay down again. He wondered whether the pull of the bell he had heard could be hidden in the grass like the handle of the trap. It might only be a very small knob, but he had looked so closely among the bushes that he wondered it had escaped him. In three or four minutes the French captain came down again, and walked across to where he was lying:
"And you will do it, Mr. Wyatt; there is nothing you could not do with practice."
There are few campaigns that, either in point of the immense scale upon which it was undertaken, the completeness of its failure, or the enormous loss of life entailed, appeal to the imagination in so great a degree as that of Napoleon against Russia. Fortunately, we have in the narratives of Sir Robert Wilson, British commissioner with the Russian army, and of Count Segur, who was upon Napoleon's staff, minute descriptions of the events as seen by eye-witnesses, and besides these the campaign has been treated fully by various military writers. I have as usual avoided going into details of horrors and of acts of cruelty and ferocity on both sides, surpassing anything in modern warfare, and have given a mere outline of the operations, with a full account of the stern fight at Smolensk and the terrible struggle at Borodino. I would warn those of my readers who may turn to any of the military works for a further history of the campaign, that the spelling of Russian places and names varies so greatly in the accounts of different writers, that sometimes it is difficult to believe that the same person or town is meant, and even in the narratives by Sir Robert Wilson, and by Lord Cathcart, our ambassador at St. Petersburg, who was in constant communication with him, scarcely a name will be found similarly spelt. I mention this, as otherwise much confusion might be caused by those who may compare my story with some of these recognized authorities, or follow the incidents of the campaign upon maps of Russia.
"I am sorry he is hurt so," Frank said, as they drove off.
"'You will understand, men,' he shouted from his roof, 'that our lives depend more upon the water than upon your arms. We could defend this place against that horde for a year; but if water fails altogether, there will be nothing to do but to sally out and sell our lives as dearly as we can.' Fortunately, we had still water with us, for it was not known whether we should find any on the march, and we had been ordered to leave our kits behind, and to carry, in addition to the water-bottles, a skin holding about a gallon. In our hut we found eight porous jars, each of which would hold about a couple of gallons. Six of them were full. The empty ones we filled up from our skins, for these jars keep the water wonderfully cool. In none of the other huts had they found so good a supply as ours, but all had more or less water; and, on totalling them up, it was found that there was an average of four jars in each hut, without, of course, counting that which we had brought. As there were a hundred and ten of us, this gave a total supply of a hundred and eighty-two gallons; rather better than a gallon and a half a man.
"We have a stretcher," the major said. "I told off four men with one half an hour before we started. I thought we should want it to bring Wyatt back." He put a whistle to his lips and blew loudly. A minute later four troopers ran out from behind a cottage a hundred yards away. They had, no doubt, been furtively observing the combat, for there was an expression of gladness and triumph on their faces as they arrived.