"What are you going to do, Wyatt, till you start?" General Wilson asked, as they left the War Office.
"There was a great noise," she said gravely, "and guns fired, and the coachman fell off the box, and then nurse called out and opened the door and jumped out, and then the horses plunged and the carriage fell over, and I don't know any more."
After careful search they found the heavy footprints at several spots where the snow lay, and near them also found traces of the lighter boots. The trees then grew thicker, but following the line indicated by the footprints, they came to the spot where he had left the wood.
During Sir Robert's stay in St. Petersburg the Emperor took every occasion to show him marked favour, as if anxious to assure those whose views Sir Robert had represented, that he was in no way displeased with them for the attitude they had assumed; and upon his leaving to rejoin the army the Emperor directed him to repeat in the most formal manner his declaration that he would not enter into or permit any negotiations with Napoleon; and added that he would sooner let his beard grow to his waist, and eat potatoes in Siberia.
Julian held out both his hands, and they stood for a moment in silence, gazing into each other's face. Julian was the first to break the silence.
While some of the men were engaged at this work, others lowered the second boat, and this, and the one towing behind, were brought round to the side. Julian saw that all the men were armed with cutlasses, and had pistols in their belts. Rapidly the kegs were brought up on deck and lowered into the boat.
"I have no wish not to go with the rest," Frank protested. "When there is anything to be done, whether it is hunting or any sort of sport, I shall certainly take my share in it; but don't you think yourself, Captain Lister, that it is much better for a fellow to spend part of his time reasonably than in lounging about, or in playing billiards or cards?"
That night, indeed, Smolensk was evacuated by the Russians, contrary to the wishes of both officers and men, Prince Eugene and General Doctorow declaring that they could hold on for ten days longer. This might doubtless have been done, but Barclay was afraid that Napoleon might sweep round and cross the river somewhere to his left, and that in that case he must fall back, and the town would have to be evacuated in the day time when the enemy could sweep the bridges with their fire. By three o'clock in the morning the whole force in the city had crossed, and the bridges were burnt behind them. The flames acquainted the French with the fact that the city had been evacuated, and at daybreak they entered the town, and soon afterwards their skirmishers opened fire on the Russians on the other side of the river. At eight o'clock a Spanish brigade crossed the river waist deep, and entered the suburb known as St. Petersburg, on the right bank; but they were at once attacked; many were killed or taken prisoners, and the rest driven across the river again.
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"I hope that this may prove so indeed," the magistrate said. "It is at any rate possible. And now we will detain you no longer, for Mr. Henderson told me that you were going to accompany them in their search among the hills. I see that it is just beginning to snow, which will, I fear, add to your difficulties."
"We have a bad prospect before us," Julian went on. "There is no denying that; but it will make all the difference how we face it. Above all things we have got to keep up our spirits. I have heard that the captains of the whalers in the northern seas do everything in their power to interest and amuse their crews. They sing, they dance, they tell stories of adventures, and the great thing is to keep from brooding over the present. I am but a young sergeant, and most of you here have gone through many a campaign, and it is not for me to give advice, but I should say that above all things we ought to try to keep up the spirits of our men. If we could but start the marching songs we used to sing as we tramped through Germany, it would set men's feet going in time, would make them forget the cold and hunger, and they would march along erect, instead of with their eyes fixed on the ground, and stumbling as if they could not drag their feet along. We should tell them why we sing, or they might think it was a mockery. Tell them that the Grenadiers of the Rhone mean to show that, come what may, they intend to be soldiers to the last, and to face death, whether from the Russians or from the winter, heads erect and courage high. Let us show them that, as we have ever done our duty, so we shall do it to the end, and that it will be a matter of pride that throughout the division it should be said, when they hear our songs, 'There go the Grenadiers of the Rhone, brave fellows and good comrades; see how they bear themselves.'"