The next morning Julian heard from Frank full details of the manner in which the truth had been arrived at of the circumstances of Mr. Faulkner's murder.
"You are the young fellow who was tried in court three weeks ago, are you not?"
As Julian lay down with his hood over his head and the child held closely in his arms under his cloak, he felt strangely warm and comfortable, and breathed a prayer that he might be spared to carry the little waif he had rescued, in safety across the frontier.
"If you will take my advice, sir, you will learn to shoot with both hands. For a civilian who never wants to use a pistol except in a duel, the right hand is all that is necessary, but for a cavalry-man, the left is the useful hand. You see an officer always carries his sword in his right hand, and if he has got to shift it to his left before he can use his pistol, he could never use it at all, if hard pressed in a fight. Another thing is, that the left side is the weak side of a horseman. His sword is all right in defending him if attacked on the right, but if he is attacked on the left he is fighting under a big disadvantage. He has much more difficulty in guarding himself on that side, and he has nothing like the same reach for striking as he has on the other."
"He will do no more shooting," the surgeon said grimly, "the ball has carried off his trigger finger. Cut his coat-sleeve off, Rankin. Don't you see he is bleeding a great deal? Lister, please bring me those bandages at once."
He fetched a decanter of port and a tin of biscuits from the sideboard, and placed them in front of him; then he made a sign to Frank to leave the room. In a few minutes he called him back again. Frank found the Pole standing with his hat in his hand ready to leave. There was a look of brightness and hope in his face, which was a strong contrast to his expression on entering. He bowed deeply to Sir Robert, and took the hand that Frank held out to him.
"Very well, sir. Then, if I must say it, I thought it was one of the most blackguardly and cowardly things I ever saw done."
"The man with the hob-nailed boots is taking to the hills," the chief constable remarked.
Frank had been active during the battle of Loubino. Sir Robert Wilson had taken up his post with Touchkoff during the action which was so desperately fought to cover the retreat of the main army, and Frank had acted as aide-de-camp, and, having carried orders to various parts of the field, had excellent opportunities of seeing the whole of the battle; and the Russian general in making his report of the engagement had mentioned his name among those who had rendered distinguished services. His horse had been shot under him, his cap had been carried away by a bullet, and he had received a slight flesh wound in his leg. Although this was of small consequence, it had caused the insertion of his name among those of the officers wounded in the battle. He was to see no more fighting for a time; for, although the army of Wittgenstein fought two or three severe actions with the divisions of St. Cyr and Oudinot, the main army fell back without again fighting until it took up the position that Marshal Kutusow had selected for giving battle.
"I used to hear a good deal of the same thing when I was at school," Frank said quietly, "but I don't think I was disliked for sticking to work sometimes, when other fellows were playing. Surely when one is from morning till night with other men, it can matter to no one but himself if he gives two or three hours a day to work."
"The majority of the bench are in favour of your immediate discharge, Mr. Wyatt, being of opinion that the evidence has failed altogether to prove any of the charges against you, and, being of opinion that you have already paid dearly enough for your reckless folly in attending an unlawful operation of this kind, they trust that it will be a lesson to you for life. The other and more serious charge against you will now be taken."
"Thank you. Will you mind sending your servant across to call me at a quarter to five? I am not at all good at waking myself."