"I lost my way, and was found by a lot of peasants, who would have made very short work of me, but the child stepped forward like a little queen and told them that she was the Countess of Woronski, and that her father was a friend of the Czar's, and that if they sent us to him they would get a great reward. Thinking that it was good enough, they took us to their village and dressed me up in peasant's clothes, and kept us there a fortnight. Then the head man and the village Papa came with us here by post. The child's father and mother had given her up as dead, and their gratitude to me is boundless. It has been deemed unadvisable to say anything about my ever being with the French, and I am simply introduced by the count as an English gentleman whom he regards as his very dear friend. I sent letters home to you and Aunt a fortnight since, and if I had heard that the charge of murder was still hanging over me I should probably have remained here for good. The count has already hinted that there is an estate at my disposal. He is as rich as Cr?sus, and he and the countess would be terribly hurt if I were to refuse to accept their tokens of gratitude. They have no other child but Stephanie, and she is, of course, the apple of their eye."
"Don't say much to the others when you go out," Frank said. "You can tell them that, from what I say, it won't be such a one-sided affair as they seem to think."
"By Jove! Frank," he exclaimed, when his brother brought the story to a conclusion; "you ought to have been a Bow Street runner. I can't think how it all occurred to you. Thinking it over, as I have done hundreds of times, it never once occurred to me that the footprints in the snow might prove that I had set off in pursuit of Markham, and that they would have shown that he was standing behind that tree whence the shot was fired, while I went straight from the road to the place where Faulkner was lying. What a head you have, old fellow!"
"I am sure I hope so, Aunt. Why should you always call yourself an old woman? when you know that you are not old in years. Why, you said last birthday that you were fifty-nine, and it is only because you are such a hand at staying indoors, and live such a quiet life, that it makes you think yourself old. I should think this war won't last very much longer. If it does all the men in Europe will be used up. Of course, as soon as peace is made Julian will be sent home again."
Napoleon halted them for two days, in order that they might rest and receive provisions from the baggage trains following. On the 4th of September they marched forward as before, in three columns, preceded by Murat's cavalry, which brushed aside the hordes of Cossack horse. Half-way to Gratz, a Russian division stoutly held for some time a height up which the road wound, but after some sharp fighting was forced to retreat.下载
They found that the servant who had preceded them with the baggage had already made all the arrangements for their crossing the gulf. The extreme cold had everywhere so completely frozen the sea that there was no difficulty in crossing, which, they learned, was not often the case. Three sledges had been engaged for their transport. The distance was about 120 miles; but it was broken by the islands of the Aland Archipelago, and upon one or other of these they could take refuge in the event of any sudden change of weather. They were to start at midnight, and would reach Bomarsund, on the main island of Aland, on the following evening, wait there for twenty-four hours to rest the animals, and would reach the mainland the next day.