"You can, of course, show this letter to whom you like, but I don't expect anyone except you and Aunt to believe it. I have hopes of being cleared some day, for Markham has promised me to write out a full confession of his shooting Faulkner, and to swear to it before a French magistrate. He is going to write it in duplicate, and carry one copy about with him, directed to Colonel Chambers, or the senior magistrate at Weymouth, and to send the other copy to someone at home, who will produce it in case of his death in France, or by drowning at sea. I do not think that, if I get away, I shall return to England until I hear of his death. I am awfully sorry for you, old fellow, and for Aunt. But with this frightful accusation hanging over me, I don't think your position would be better if I were to come back and be hung for murder; and I see myself that the case is so strong against me that it would almost certainly come to that if they laid hands on me. I am specially sorry that this trouble should come upon you now, just as you were going to try to get a commission, for of course they could hardly give one to a fellow whose brother is accused of murder, and if they did, your position in the army would be intolerable. Now, good-bye, dear old Frank; give my fond love to Aunt, who has always been too good to me. If I get an opportunity I will write again, but I hardly fancy that I shall get a chance to do so, as, even if I were free to write I don't see how letters can be sent from France except through smugglers. God bless you, old fellow.
"It don't make much difference to me, sir; the evenings are getting longer; you can see well enough until five."
"We are here, General Wilson," one of the generals said, "to beg you to undertake the delivery of this message to the Emperor. It would mean death to any Russian officer who undertook the commission, but, knowing your attachment to the Emperor, and his equally well-known feelings towards yourself, no person is so well qualified to lay the expression of our sentiments before him. Your motives in doing so cannot be suspected; coming from you, the Emperor's self-respect would not suffer in the same way as it would do, were the message conveyed to him by one of his own subjects."
PLAN OF THE BATTLE OF BORODINO.
In ten minutes they returned, and by the flushed, angry face of Mr. Faulkner, Frank judged at once that he had been overruled. The chairman briefly announced the decision of the court, and committed the seven smugglers for trial on the whole of the charges. The Weymouth fisherman was also committed, but only on the charge of being engaged in the unlawful act of defrauding His Majesty's revenue, and was allowed out on bail. The two farm labourers were fined fifty pounds apiece, which their solicitor at once paid.
After having finally arranged these matters, he started north with Frank, furnished with an order to postmasters on the road to supply them instantly with relays of horses. Travelling night and day without a stop, they arrived at Smolensk on the day before the French attacked the place. Sir Robert had expected to find the Emperor here, but learnt that he was still at St. Petersburg. Being personally acquainted with all the Russian generals he was received with the greatest courtesy, and at once placed himself at the disposal of the commander-in-chief, while Frank was introduced to the members of the staff.
The Major shook his head. "I am afraid that settles it, Lister. It may do for a good shot to try experiments of that sort with a bad one, but not against a man like Marshall. It would be far better for him to aim at the body. That is a good big mark, and if he is as good a shot as you say, and is quick enough to pull his trigger first, it would make matters safe, but as to aiming at his hand it would be sheer madness. You tell him what I think of it. Ah! here comes the others."