Taking a steady aim, Captain Lister put his bullets almost every time into the bull's-eye, but, to Frank's surprise, when he came to try quick firing in the way he had himself done, the captain's shooting was much less accurate than his own.
"Will you tell us what you know about this affair?" the chairman said.
"I owe fully as much to you as you owe to me, Strelinski," Frank said. "Putting aside the interest there has been in witnessing such mighty events, it has been a splendid thing for me in my profession. I shall be gazetted captain this week, while I am pretty sure of a brevet majority at the end of the next campaign, and of further employment in the same line afterwards."
"There is no occasion for heat, sir," Mr. Probert said quietly. "You are in the position of a witness at present and not of a magistrate, and must reply like any other witness. Well, you deny having abused him. Do you consider that calling a gentleman of good standing in this town, the son of a distinguished officer, a loafing young scoundrel, not abuse; or by telling him that six months in one of His Majesty's jails would do him a world of good?"
As the army began its passage through the capital the exodus of the inhabitants commenced. Already the wealthier classes had removed their effects, and the merchants the greater part of their goods. Now the whole population poured out into the streets, and thousands of carts and vehicles of all descriptions, packed closely with household furniture, goods, and effects of all kinds, moved towards the gates. Out of 200,000 inhabitants 180,000 left the city, with 65,000 vehicles of every kind. In addition to these were enormous quantities of fugitives from every town and village west of Smolensk, who had hitherto accompanied the army, moving through the fields and lanes, so as to leave the roads unencumbered for the passage of the guns and trains.
"I sincerely hope not," Colonel Chambers said; "but I own that I can see no other way for accounting for his absence. Well, if you will call the clerk in, he will take down your statement at once. What do you think, Harrington? It seems to me that when we have got the four statements we shall be fully justified in withdrawing the warrant against young Wyatt."