"They want you," she said to Julian, "to take off your uniform and to put on clothes like theirs. They say that though they wish to take you with me to my father, they might on the way fall in with other people or with soldiers, who would not know how good you are, and might take you away from them and kill you, so that it would be safer for you to travel in Russian dress. You won't mind that, will you?"
The French, finding that the Russian army was going off, crossed the river in force and furiously attacked their rear-guard, and tried to penetrate between it and the main body of the army, but Prince Eugene's division was sent back to assist General Korf, who commanded there. In the meantime two columns of the French moved along the main road to Moscow with the evident intention of heading the Russian army at Loubino, the point where the cross road by which they were travelling came into it. This they might have accomplished owing to the much shorter distance they had to travel and the delays caused by the difficulty of getting the guns over the hills, but a small Russian corps under Touchkoff had been sent forward to cover that point. Ney had crossed the river early by two bridges he had thrown over it, and Touchkoff, as he saw this force pressing along the main road, took up a position where he covered Loubino, and for some hours repulsed all the efforts of the French to pass.
"Eh! what? Do you mean to say, Henderson, that you think the young fellow did not fire the shot after all? I would give a hundred pounds if I could think so, but, with Faulkner's deposition before us, I don't see how there can be any possible doubt in the matter. Besides, I was present when he gave it, and though it may have been coloured a good deal by his feeling against young Wyatt, I am convinced that he believed, at any rate, that he was speaking the truth."
Had the order been given that day the French army might have made its way back to the frontier, with heavy loss doubtless, but without disaster. But Napoleon could not bring himself to believe that the Russians would refuse to enter into negotiations. He tried through various sources to send proposals to Alexander, and even opened secret negotiations with Kutusow, and had arranged for a private meeting with him, when the matter was stopped by Sir Robert Wilson, who had received specific instructions from the Emperor Alexander to interpose in his name to prevent any negotiations whatever being carried on. Thus week after week of precious time passed, and then a portion of the army moved against the Russians. Several engagements took place, the advantage generally resting with the Russians, especially in an engagement with Murat, who suffered a decisive repulse.
"'Monsieur le Colonel,' I said, 'I thank you from my heart. I should have felt disgraced for ever if I were to go into the camp unarmed. Now, I shall be able to go in with my head erect, and take my punishment for having got drunk, and failing to fall in at the assembly, like a man. On the honour of a French soldier, I swear that I shall for ever regard the English as the most generous of foes.'
"Because I could not have done that without betraying the secret of the cavern. I found the entrance myself, but I should never have done so, if I had not been told about the cave and the secret passage, and I felt that it would be an act of treachery to betray it."
A solicitor sitting next to Frank rose. "I represent Mr. Julian Wyatt," he said. Frank looked up at him in surprise. The idea of obtaining legal assistance for Julian had not occurred to him, and he wondered how his brother had been able to communicate with a solicitor. "I would suggest, your honour," the latter went on, "that the evidence should be taken separately in the different charges, as there is a considerable difference in the position of prisoners."
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.
"This cannot go on, Wyatt!" he exclaimed. "You put me on my word of honour and then take it up yourself. Don't you see that I am hopelessly disgraced in letting you be Marshall's victim for what he said of me. I shall go to him and insist upon my right to take the matter up myself."
"You are quite right, Mr. Wyatt, and I had already determined to go myself, with a couple of constables, at daylight."