The next morning it was found that the Russian lines were deserted. So the French army set forward again on its march, and on the morning of the 14th arrived within sight of Moscow. Kutusow had at one time seemed disposed to fight another battle in front of the city, and had given a solemn promise to its governor that he should have three days' notice of any change in his determination, and so allow time for him to carry out his intention to evacuate the town, when the municipal authorities were, methodically and officially, to proceed to destroy the whole city by fire. This promise Kutusow broke without giving any notice whatever. On the 13th, at a council of war, he overruled the objections of his generals, and determined to retreat, his arguments being that the ground was unsuited for defensive operations; that the defeat of the one disciplined army would endanger the final success of the war; and that it was for Russia, not for any one city, they were fighting.
"I don't know, Julian," the boy said sturdily; "you are not looking half as well as you used to do. I am sure late hours don't suit you, and there is no good to be got out of billiards. I know the sort of fellows you meet there are not the kind to do you any good, or that father would have liked to see you associate with if he had been alive. Just ask yourself honestly if you think he would. If you can say 'yes,' I will shut up and say no more about it; but can you say 'yes'?"
"Jump in here, Frank," he said, leading the way to the sledge. "They must all think that we have gone mad, and we shall have a crowd round us in a minute."
"Possibly, Mr. Faulkner, though I have known many magistrates who did their duty and who were by no means unpopular; but you have not answered my question. Do you not think that in saying what he did Mr. Wyatt simply alluded to the fact of your well-known unpopularity, and to the threatening letters that you have received?"
"We thought that we had fooled them nicely, and that evening half a dozen of our boats sailed into Lulworth harbour and anchored there quiet. One of them rowed ashore and landed two hands to look round. They brought back news as there were only two or three revenue men left at the station, and it would be easy enough to seize them and tie them up till it was all over. In course, everything worked for a bit just as we thought it would. The lugger we were expecting showed her light in the offing and was signalled that the coast was clear. It was a dark night, and the two revenue men on duty in the cove were seized and tied up by some of the shore band without a blow being struck. Two or three chaps were placed at the door of the station, so that if the two men left there turned out they would be gagged at once. Everything was ready, and a big lot of carts came down to the water's edge. The lugger anchored outside the cove; we got up our kedges and rowed out to her, and a dozen shoreboats did the same. As soon as we got alongside they began to bundle the kegs in, when not three hundred yards away came a hail, 'What craft is that?'