Roy : A tale in the days of Sir John Moore

Transcriber's note: Unusual and inconsistent spelling is as printed.








"Dost thou remember, soldier old and hoary,
   The days we fought and conquered, side by side,
On fields of bank, famous now in story,
   Where Britons triumphed, And where Britons died?"

    *    *    *    *    *    *    *

"Dost thou remember all those marches weary,
   From gathering foes, to reach Coruña's shore?
Who can forget that midnight sad and dreary,
   When in his grave we laid the noble Moore?
But ere he died, our General heard us cheering
   And saw us charge with Victory's flag unfurled,—
And then he slept, without a moment's fearing
   For British soldiers conquering all the world."






His sabre descended in one swift sweep.



















"Duris non Frangor"














K.P., G.C.B., G.C.M.G., COL.R.H.G.






IN the following pages I have tried to give a faithful picture of life in England and in France during the first decade of the Nineteenth Century. The invasion scare, the state of National feeling in our land, the conditions which prevailed among British prisoners in France, the descriptions of French conscripts and French dungeons, etc., are in accordance with reality. My authorities have been many, including volumes written and published at the time, long since out of print. One chief authority for dungeon-scenes is the "Narrative" of Major-General Lord Blayney, himself four years a captive at Verdun and elsewhere; but his account by no means stands alone. My aim has been in no case to overdraw, but to be true to those things which actually were.

Some old MS. letters, handed down in my own family, belonging to that date, have been no inconsiderable help.

In the central figure of the tale I have sought to draw a portrait, true again to life, of him who in an age of British heroes ranked par excellence as England's foremost soldier-hero; of him about whom, twenty years later, Sir George Napier wrote—"That great and good soldier ... to whom I looked up as the first of men;" of him about whom, half a lifetime after the Battle of Coruña, Sir Charles Napier, the famous conqueror of Scinde, could sadly say—"Thirty-eight years ago the great Moore fell: I have never seen his equal since!"

To these past testimonies may be added that of Lord Wolseley, who has kindly granted his permission for the dedication of this book to himself. In a speech made not long ago, Lord Wolseley spoke of Moore as "one of the greatest soldiers we ever had," who, "if he had not been killed at Coruña, would probably have been the Commander in the Peninsular Wars, and have won the great battle which annihilated Napoleon's power at Waterloo."

And indeed, the extraordinary lustre of Sir John Moore's character and career, together with the radiant glory with which the close of his life was crowned, form a picture scarcely to be excelled. No man ever lived more exclusively, or fought with more absolute self-abandonment, for his country—"that country," to quote once more from Sir George Napier, "which he loved with an ardour equal to the Roman patriot's, and had served to the hour of his death with a zeal and gallantry equalled by few, surpassed by none." This at a time, it may be added, when the very existence of Great Britain as a Nation was at stake.

Perhaps the best clue to the keynote of Moore's history may be found in a sentence culled from one of his letters to his mother—"And so I hope that, whatever happens, England will not be able to say we have not done our duty."


       August 1900.








































































"YOU don't mean to say it, my dear sir? You're absolutely jesting. I'm compelled to believe that you are pleased to talk nonsense. To take the boy! Impossible!"

"I never was more sober in my life, I do assure you, ma'am."

"The thing is incredible. No, sir, I cannot believe it. 'Tis bad enough that you should be going abroad at all, at this time—you and your wife. But to place an innocent babe of nine years in the power of that wicked Corsican! Twelve years old, say you! Nay, the twins' birthday is not till June. Roy is but eleven yet, and none would guess him to be over nine. Well, well, 'tis much the same. My dear sir, war is a certainty. We shall be embroiled with France before six weeks are ended."

"That is as may be. We intend to be at home again long before six weeks are gone by. A fortnight in Paris—nothing more. The opportunity is not to be lost; and as you know, all the world is going to Paris. So pray be easy in your mind."

Colonel Baron adjusted his rigid stock, and held his square chin aloft, looking over it with a benevolent though combative air towards the lady opposite. Mrs. Bryce was a family friend of long standing, and she might say what she chose. But nothing was further from his intentions than to alter his plans, merely because Mrs. Bryce or Mrs. Anybody Else chose to volunteer unasked advice. There was a spice of obstinacy in the gallant Colonel's composition.

Despite civilian dress—swallow-tailed coat, brass buttons, long flapped waistcoat, white frilled shirt-front, and velvet knee-breeches, with silk stockings—the Colonel was a thorough soldier in appearance. He had not yet left middle age behind, and he was still spare in figure, and upright as a dart.

Mrs. Bryce, a lively woman, in age perhaps somewhere about thirty-five, had bright twinkling eyes. She was dressed much à la mode, in the then fashionable figured muslin, made long and clinging, her white stockings and velvet shoes showing through it in front. The bonnet was of bright blue; and a silk spencer, of the same colour, was cut low, a large handkerchief covering her shoulders. A short veil descended below her eyes. She used her hands a good deal, flirting them about as she talked.

Upon an old-fashioned sofa, with prim high back and arms, and a long 'sofa-table' in front, sat the Colonel's wife, Mrs. Baron, a very graceful figure, young still, and in manner slightly languishing. Though it was early in the afternoon, she wore a low-necked frock, with a scarf over it; and her fair hands toyed with a handsome fan. A white crape turban was wound about her head. Beside her was Mr. Bryce, a short man, clothed in blue swallow-tailed coat and brass buttons—frock-coats being then unknown. His face was deeply scored and corrugated with smallpox.

The wide low room, with its large centre-table and ponderous furniture, had one other inmate, and this was a lovely young girl, in a short-waisted and short-sleeved frock of white muslin. A pink scarf was round her neck; dainty pink sandalled shoes were on her small high-instepped feet; long kid gloves covered the slender round arms; a fur-trimmed pink pelisse lay on a chair near; and from the huge pink bonnet on her head tall white ostrich feathers pointed skyward. Polly Keene was on a visit to the Barons, and she had just come in from a stroll with Mr. and Mrs. Bryce. Young ladies, ninety or a hundred years ago, did not commonly venture alone beyond the garden, but waited for proper protection. Polly had the softest brown velvet eyes imaginable, a delicate blush-rose complexion, and a pretty, arch manner.

Upon a side-table stood cake and wine, together with a piled up pyramid of fruit, for the benefit of callers. Afternoon tea was an unknown institution; and the fashionable dinner-hour varied between four and half-past five o'clock.

"A fortnight in Paris! And what of Nap meanwhile?" vivaciously demanded Mrs. Bryce. "What of old Boney? That is the question, my dear sir. What may not that wicked tyrant be after next?"

"Buonaparte has a good deal to answer for, ma'am, but I do not imagine that he will have the responsibility of hindering this little scheme of ours."

Mrs. Bryce turned herself briskly towards the sofa.

"If I were you, Harriette, I'd refuse to go. Then at least you will not have it on your conscience, if everything gets askew."

Mrs. Baron's large grey eyes gazed dreamily towards the speaker.

"My dear Harriette, wake up, I entreat of you. Pray listen to me. Doubtless all the world is off to France. Nothing more likely, since half the world consists of idiots, and another half of madmen. That is small reason why you two need to comport yourselves like either."

"Do you truly suppose there will be war again so soon?" asked Mrs. Baron incredulously.

"Do I suppose? Why, everybody knows it. Colonel Baron knows it. There can't be any reasonable doubt about the matter. The Treaty of Amiens is practically at an end already. Nap has broken his pledges again and again. And this last demand of his—why, nothing could be more iniquitous."

"Dear me, has he made any fresh demand?" Mrs. Baron's eyes went in appeal to her husband, for she had no great faith in Mrs. Bryce's judgment. The Colonel had no chance of responding.

"Even you can't sure have forgot that, my dear Harriette! He desires that we should give over to his tender mercies the unfortunate Bourbon Princes who have fled to us for refuge. And no doubt in the end he would demand all the refugees of the Revolution. He might as well demand England herself! And he will demand that too, in no long time. 'Tis an open secret that he is already making preparations for the invasion of our country."

"Boney does not believe that England, single-handed, will dare to oppose him," remarked Mr. Bryce. "He considers that a nation of seventeen million inhabitants is certain to go down before a nation of forty millions."

"Let him but come, and he'll learn his mistake," declared the valiant lady. "But you, Harriette—with public affairs in this state—you positively intend to let your crazy husband drag you across the Channel!"

"But I do not think my husband crazy, and I wish very much to go," she said, slightly pouting. "I have never been out of England. The wars have always hindered me, when I could have gone."

"And you absolutely mean to take the young ones, too!"

"We intend to take Roy," said the Colonel, as his wife's eyes once more appealed to him.

"I never heard such a scheme in my life! To take the boy away from his schooling—"

"No; his school has just been broken up for some weeks. Several cases of smallpox; so it is considered best."

"And Molly! Not Molly too?"

"No, not Molly. One will be enough." Colonel Baron did not wish to betray that he had strenuously opposed the plan, and had given in with reluctance to his wife's entreaties.

"I thought the two never had been parted."

"It is time such fantasies should be broken through. Roy must go to a boarding-school in the autumn, and this will pave the way."

Mrs. Baron lifted a lace pocket-handkerchief to her eyes.

"My dear heart—a school five miles off! You will think nothing of it when the time arrives," urged the Colonel. He had won his wife's consent to the boarding-school in the autumn only that morning, by yielding to her wish that Roy should go to Paris. The Colonel's graceful wife was something of a spoilt child in her ways, and he seldom had the will to oppose her seriously.

"Indeed, I should say so too," struck in Mrs. Bryce. "You don't desire to turn him into a nincompoop; and between you and Molly, my dear Harriette, he hasn't a chance, And what's to become of Molly?"

Mrs. Baron was still gently dabbing her eyes with the square of lace; and the Colonel answered—"My wife's stepmother wishes to have Molly in Bath for a visit. She will travel thither with Polly early next week."

"Too much gadding about! Not the sort of way I was brought up, nor you either. But everything is turned upside down in these days. And you've persuaded Captain Ivor to go too!"

"Undoubtedly Den will accompany us."

"And you're content to put yourselves into the clutches of that miserable Boney!"

"My dear madam, the First Consul does not wage war on unoffending travellers."

"Boney doesn't care what he does, so long as he can get his own way."

"He will at least act in accordance with the laws of civilised nations."

"Not he! Boney makes his own laws to suit himself."

"Well, well, my dear madam, we view these things differently. I have made up my mind. My wife has never been into France, and we may not have another opportunity for many years to come."

"Likely enough—while the Corsican lives!" muttered Mrs. Bryce.

The end window opened upon a verandah, and just outside this window, which had been thrown wide open, for it was an unusually hot spring day, a boy lay flat upon the ground, shaping a small wooden boat with his penknife. At the first mention of his name, a fair curly head popped up and popped down again. A recurrence of the word "Roy" brought up the head a second time, and two wide grey eyes stared eagerly over the low sill into the room. He might have been seen easily enough, but people were too busy to look that way. Then again the head vanished, and its owner lay motionless, apparently listening. After which he rolled away, jumped up, and scampered to the schoolroom at the back of the house.

It was a good-sized house, with a nice garden, in the outskirts of London; a much more limited London than the great metropolis of our day, though even then Englishmen were wont to describe it as "vast." Trafalgar Square and Regent Street were unbuilt; Pimlico consisted of bare rough ground, and Moorfields of genuine swampy fields; and the City was still a fashionable place of residence.

Roy Baron was a handsome lad, well set-up, straight and spirited, though small for his age, and, as Mrs. Bryce had intimated, childish in appearance. He had on a blue cloth jacket, with trousers and waistcoat of the same material. Knickerbockers were unknown. Children and older boys wore loose trousers, while tights and uncovered stockings were reserved for grown-up gentlemen. In a few weeks Roy would exchange his cloth waistcoat and trousers for linen ditto, either white or striped. Boys' hair was not cropped so closely in the year 1803 as in the Nineties; and a mass of tight curls clustered over Roy's head.

The year 1803! Think what that means.

Napoleon Buonaparte was alive—not only alive, but in full vigour; he had entered on his career of conquest, and the world was in terror of his name. Nelson was alive; five years earlier he had won the great Battle of the Nile, two years earlier the great Battle of Copenhagen, though he had not yet won his crowning victory of Trafalgar which established British supremacy over the ocean. Wellington was alive; but his then name of Sir Arthur Wellesley had not become widely famous, and no one could guess that one day he would be the Iron Duke of world-wide celebrity. Sir John Moore, the future Hero of Coruña, was alive, and though not knighted was already the foremost British soldier of his age.

Napoleon was not yet Emperor of the French. He was climbing towards that goal, but thus far he had not advanced beyond being First Consul in the Republic.

The peace between England and France, lasting somewhat over twelve months, had been hardly more than an armed and uncertain truce, a mere slight break in long years of intermittent warfare. As the old king, George III., remarked at the time, it was 'an experimental peace,' and few had hopes of its long continuance. For the Firebrand was still in Europe, and barrels of gunpowder lay on all sides. Both before the peace began, and also while it continued, Napoleon indulged in many speculative threats of a future invasion of England, and preparations were said to be at this date actually begun.

England alone of all the nations stood erect, and fearlessly looked the tyrant in the face. And Great Britain, with all her pluck, had then but a tiny army, and few fortifications; while her chief defence, the fleet, though splendidly manned, was weak indeed compared with the mighty armament which she now possesses.

Whether the peace would last, or whether it would speedily end, depended mainly on the will of one man, an ambitious and reckless despot, who cared not a jot what rivers of French and English blood he might cause to flow, nor how many thousands of French and English widows' hearts might be broken, so long as he could indulge to the full his lust of conquest, and could obtain plenty of what he called "glory." Another and truer name might easily have been found.







"MOLLY, Molly—listen! I've something to tell you."

Roy jerked a story-book out of his twin-sister's hands. It was not a handsome and prettily illustrated volume, like those now in vogue, being bound in dull boards, with woodcuts fantastically hideous. But Molly knew nothing better, and she loved reading, while Roy hated it—unless he found a book about battles. Molly was even smaller and younger-looking for her years than Roy. She had a pale little face, with anxious black eyes, and short dark hair brushed smoothly behind her ears. She wore a frock of thick blue stuff, short-waisted and low-necked, while her thin arms were bare.

The schoolroom served also as a playroom. Its furniture was scanty, including no easy-chairs. Mrs. Baron was a mother unusually given to the expression of tender feeling, in a sterner age than ours. But she never dreamt of giving her children opportunities for lounging. They had to grow up straight-backed, whatever it might cost them.

In this room Roy and Molly had done all their lessons together, till Roy reached the age of nine years; and the day on which he began to attend a large boys' school had witnessed the first deep desolation of little Molly's heart. An ever-present dread was upon her of the coming time—she knew it must come—when he would be sent away to a boarding-school, and she would be left alone.

Roy seated himself astride on a chair, with his face to the back, and poured out his tale. Molly listened in dead silence, staring hard at the opposite wall. If Roy did not mind about leaving her, she was not going to show how much she cared about losing him.

"And I shall write and tell you all I see in France," were his concluding words. "And you'll have Jack and Polly, you know—and Bob Monke too."

Would Roy have thought Jack and Polly and Bob enough if he had been the one to stay at home? That was the question in Molly's heart. But she only said, with a catch of her breath—

"I shouldn't like to be you, to have listened on the sly. It was mean."

The word stung sharply. Roy always pictured his own future in connection with a scarlet coat, a three-cornered cocked hat, a beautiful pigtail, and the stiffest of military stocks to hold up his chin. He knew something of a soldier's sense of honour, and even now, small though he was, he counted himself quite equal to fighting his country's battles. And that he—Roy Baron, son of a Colonel in His Majesty's Guards—should be accused by a girl of "meanness!"

"It was horridly mean," repeated Molly. "Prying on the sly, and then coming and telling me. If I had done such a thing, you'd have been the first to say it was wrong."

Roy stood upright.

"You needn't have told it me like that," he said reproachfully. "But I wouldn't be mean for anything, and I'm going to tell papa."

He did not ask his twin to go with him, and Molly was keenly conscious of the omission. He marched off alone, carrying his head as high as if the military stock already encircled his throat. There was a pause in the conversation, as he entered the drawing-room.

"Run away, Roy," said the Colonel. "We are busy."

"Please, sir, may I say something first?" Roy stood in front of his father, facing him resolutely.

"Well, be quick, my boy."

Roy's honest grey eyes met those of the Colonel. "I was out there," he said, pointing to the verandah, "and I heard something. I didn't know it was a secret, and I listened. I heard about going to Paris, and I went and told Molly. She said it was mean of me, and I—couldn't be mean, sir."

"No, Roy, I'm sure you couldn't." The Colonel spoke gravely, while delighted at his boy's openness.

"I didn't mean any harm, sir; I won't ever listen again."

"Quite right; never listen to anything you are not intended to know," agreed the Colonel. "You should have told us that you were there. And if I had found you out, listening, I should certainly have blamed you. But as you have voluntarily confessed, we will say no more about the matter. Now you may run away."

Roy bounded off, in the best of spirits; and the pretty girl, with tall feathers in her bonnet, glided softly in his wake. She did not follow him far. She saw him vanish towards the garden, and she went towards the schoolroom. For Roy had told Molly about the Paris plan, and Polly guessed what that would be to Molly.

Mary Keene and her brother John, commonly known as "Polly" and "Jack," were not really cousins to the twins, though treated as such. Their widowed grandmother, Mrs. Keene, had some fourteen years earlier married a second time, rather late in life; and her new husband, Mr. Fairbank, had one daughter, Harriette, wife of Colonel—then Captain—Baron of the Guards. Two or three years later her grandchildren, Jack and Polly, were left orphans, and were adopted by Mr. and Mrs. Fairbank. When Mr. Fairbank died, his twice-widowed wife took up her abode in Bath, at that date a fashionable place of residence for "the quality." Jack, who was a year or two older than Polly, had just been gazetted to a regiment of the line, quartered in Bath.

Molly was very fond of Polly and of Jack; but no one could be to her like her twin-brother, and Roy's indifference had cut her to the quick. When Polly came in she at once detected a little heap in the corner of the schoolroom, and heard a smothered sob. She drew off her gloves, made her way to the corner, sat down upon the ground, and put a pair of gentle arms round the child.

"Fie, little Molly, fie! This won't do at all. Crying to have to go home with me. That is wrong and silly. And so unkind, too. I wanted so much to have dear little Molly; and now I know she does not care to come. Molly, you little goose, don't you know people can't be always together? And you and I can't alter the world, to please ourselves. Roy is glad to go to Paris, of course. Fie, fie, Molly! cheer up, and don't be doleful. If you are unhappy, it makes other people unhappy; and that is such a pity. You don't want to make me cry too, do you?"

The elder girl's eyes had a look in them of tears not far distant; as she bent over the child.

"Other people have troubles as well as you, little Moll. We don't all—I mean they don't all—talk about their troubles. It is of no use. Things have to be borne, and crying does no good. So stop your tears, and think how agreeable it will be to see my grandmother and Jack, and the Pump Room, and all the fine ladies and gentlemen walking about in their gay clothes."

A squeeze of Molly's arms came in reply.

"There will be Admiral and Mrs. Peirce to see; for the Admiral is now on shore, and they are in Bath. And little Will Peirce, who soon is to be a middy in His Majesty's Navy. And my cousin, Bob Monke, who is at school there. And Jack shall show himself off to you in his new scarlet coat. I am proud of him, for Jack is everything in the world to me. No, not everything, but a great deal, as Roy is to you. Yet I do not expect to keep Jack always by my side. He will have to go some day, and to fight for Old England. And when that day comes I will bid him good-bye with a smile, for I would not be a drag upon him, And Roy will go too, and you will bear it bravely, little Moll, like a soldier's daughter."

The soft caressing voice, the cool rose-leaf cheek against her own, the lovely dark eyes smiling upon her, all comforted Molly; and she clung to Polly, and cried away half her pain.

"Don't tell Roy," she begged presently. "He doesn't mind, and he must not think I care."

"Why not? That is naughty pride, Moll. It is always the women who care—not the men." Polly held up her head, and a far-away look crept into the sweet eyes. "Dear, you must expect it to be so. Men have so much to do and to think about. But we have time to grieve when they go to fight. And they are always so glad to go."

"Are they?" a deep quiet voice asked, close to her side; and Polly started strangely. For a moment her tiny shell-pink ears became crimson, and then she looked up, smiling.

"How do you do, Captain Ivor?"

Denham Ivor in his uniform—large-skirted military coat, black gaiters, white breeches, pigtail, and gold-laced cocked hat in hand—looked even taller than when out of it; and at all times he was wont to overtop the average man. He had a fine face, well-browned, with regular features and dark eyes, ordinarily calm, and he bore his head in a stately fashion, while his manners were marked by a grave courtesy which might seem strange beside modern freedom. As he looked down upon Polly a subdued glow awoke in those serious eyes.

Polly had not sprung up. She was still kneeling on the floor beside Molly, and her slim figure in its white frock looked very childlike. The flush had died as fast as it had arisen. Molly was clinging to her with hidden face, and for an instant the fresh voice failed to reach the younger girl's understanding. Then Molly became aware of another spectator, and, quitting her hold, she fled from the room. Polly stood up gracefully.

"We will now go to the drawing-room," she suggested.

"Nay, wait a moment, I entreat. One instant—" and the bronzed face had grown pale. "I beseech of you to listen to me. For indeed, madam, I have somewhat to say which I can no longer resolve to keep to myself. No—not even for one more day. Somewhat that you alone can answer—thereby making me the most happy or the most miserable of men."

A tiny gleam came to Polly's downcast eyes.

"If you have aught that is weighty to say, it may be that I could but refer you to my grandmother," she suggested demurely.

"But perhaps you can divine what that weighty thing is! And what if already I have written to your grandmother, and if Mrs. Fairbank has graciously consented to my suit? For indeed it is even so."

Young ladies did not give themselves away too cheaply in those days. Polly was barely eighteen, but for all that she had a very dainty air of dignity. And if during past weeks she had gone through some troublous hours, recognising how much she cared for Captain Ivor, and wondering, despite his marked attentions, whether he really cared for her, she was not going to admit as much in any haste to the individual in question. So she dropped an elegant little curtsey, and asked with the most innocent air imaginable—

"Then pray, sir, what may be your will?"

"Sweet Polly, may I speak?"

A solid square stool, well adapted for present purposes, was close at hand; and promptly down upon this with both knees went the tall grenadier, in the most approved fashion of his day. Sweet Polly could not long stand out against this earnest pleading. So, with a show of coy reserve, she gradually yielded, intimating that she did like him just a little; that some day or other she thought she could be his wife; that meantime she would manage somehow to keep him in her memory.



Promptly down upon this with both knees

went the tall grenadier.


"And next week you are away to Paris," she said, perhaps secretly wondering why he did not spend his leave in Bath. "For a whole fortnight."

"I could wish I were not going; but all is arranged, and the Colonel depends upon me. I must not fail him now at the last. If I can see my way to return at the end of a se'nnight, I will assuredly do so. If not—I shall still have a fortnight after we come home. I shall know what to do with that time, sweetheart."







HALF-AN-HOUR later, Denham Ivor, with Roy by his side, walked down the street, his grave face alight with a new joy. Roy, ever his devoted admirer, glanced upward once and again with boyish wonder. He had never seen that look before. He decided that the journey into France was as delightful in prospect to Denham as to himself.

"And Molly needn't mind," he said, carrying on his own line of thought, confident that it fitted in with Denham's. "'We shan't be gone only a fortnight. I don't see why she should care."

"Well, no. A fortnight is a mere nothing, Roy."

Half-way down the next street Ivor stood still abruptly. The front door of a house opened, and a man came quickly out, close to him and Roy. Denham's hand was lifted in an instant salute, and Roy followed his example with amusing promptitude.

A remarkable man! Nobody casting one glance in his direction could fail to cast a second. Equal to Ivor in height, gracefully built, every inch a soldier, with a figure and face alike faultless in outlines, he could not but draw attention. So young still in look and air that none would have guessed him to be already over forty in age, already a Lieutenant-General in rank, there was about him an extraordinary and commanding force; and while the large brilliant hazel eyes, under their dark arched brows, were brimming with laughter at Roy's comical imitation of Denham, their slightest glance was of a kind to search men's hearts, to enforce instant obedience. His was, indeed, a singularly noble bearing.

Ivor was no longer utterly absorbed in thoughts of Polly. Another supreme passion of his being had come to the front. Roy, keeping as always one eye upon Denham, while taking note of all else around, saw with fresh wonder the look in his face—a look of reverent devotion and love. Never before had the boy seen these two together.

"Ivor! I expected to come across you somewhere. All your people well? So Colonel Baron is off to France."

"Yes, sir. I am going with him."

"Ha!" thoughtfully. "Well, have your little jaunt, by all means. It may be your last chance for a good while. Mischief lies ahead."

"That seems to be the general opinion, sir."

"No doubt about it. War will be declared, to a dead certainty, before many weeks are over. But matters are not yet quite ripe. You will have time for a glance at Versailles. After that, the deluge! I hope I may have you to serve under me, wherever I am ordered, when the rupture takes place."

"And I, sir, could desire nothing in life more!"

Those brilliant eyes met his. "What!—nothing! No fair lady in the question, to carry off your more ardent longings!"

Ivor's bronzed cheek took a slightly deeper dye, though he answered decisively—"You know me well enough, sir, to believe that no claim in all the world could come before that."

The radiant smile would have been answer enough, without words.

"I do know you well enough. None the less, if I be not greatly mistaken, you will have somewhat to tell me by and by."

"Yes, sir. Miss Keene and I are engaged."

"Already! You have been expeditious. But I suspected as much, and you have my most hearty congratulations. And still you go to Paris! For how long?"

"At the most a fortnight, sir. It may be less."

"That is well. No saying how soon troubles may break out. Good-bye, for the moment. I shall see you in a few weeks; and what may have happened before then, in these tempestuous days, he would be a rash man that should foretell with confidence."

With a markedly kind and cordial farewell the speaker passed on, Roy saying eagerly, so soon as he was beyond ear-shot—

"Den, was that General Moore? I'm sure it is General Moore. I saw him once, you know—ever so long ago."

Rash indeed would any man have been to foretell the events which, beginning in the near future, were to shape the pathways of those three! Little dreamt Roy, in his boyish half-puzzled interest, that long years were to pass before ever again his eyes should rest upon that soldierly face and form. Little dreamt Ivor, glad in the thought of Moore's confidence, Moore's wish, that never, never again in this life, would he stand in the presence of the man who was to him more than the whole world beside—in a sense more than even Polly, passionately as he loved Polly.

His feeling for John Moore partook, indeed, rather of the nature of idolatry. The love of man for man is so distinct from the love of man for woman, that the one cannot be compared with the other, the one cannot interfere with the other. From very boyhood Denham had revered and worshipped Moore, with that reverent worship which can only be called out by the superlatively good and great and lovable. It had grown to be part of Denham's nature, part of his being. Polly was the one woman on earth for him. But Moore was the one man whom he longed to follow, to whom he looked up as to a superior being, with whom he craved to be, for whom he would joyously have died. No other affection could detract from this devotion.

Roy's remark was unnoticed, perhaps unheard. Ivor stood, gazing steadfastly, until his chief was out of sight. Those who knew and adored Moore—and they were many in number—could scarcely take their eyes and attention from him when he was within sight.

It is to be feared that Polly found small leisure thereafter for meditating on the childish woes of Molly, so full was her head of the brave young Grenadier Captain who had vowed to devote his life to her.

One fortnight of separation, and then she would have him again, and hers would be the ineffable delight of showing off her brave lover among Bath friends. How they would one and all envy Polly!

A touch of feminine vanity crept in here, though Polly's whole heart was given to Denham. But in his deeper love for her, there was no thought of what others might say. He would doubtless be proud of the fair young creature whom he had won; yet in his love no room remained for any such puerile element.

He stood much alone in the world as regarded kinship, having been left an orphan at an early age, under the guardianship of Colonel Baron, his father's cousin, and having no brothers, sisters, or other near relatives. The Barons' house had ever been a home to him; and while the Colonel was almost as his father, Mrs. Baron filled rather the position of an elder sister. To Roy and Molly, Denham was the most delightful of big elder brothers.

He had seen a good deal of both Polly and Jack in their childhood, but during later years he had been much on service abroad. His first view of Polly Keene, his quondam pet and playmate, transformed into a grown-up young lady, took place a few weeks before this date. Denham had lost his heart to her in the first hour of their renewed acquaintance; and Polly soon discovered that he was the one man in the world who had her happiness in his keeping.

Three or four days later, when good-byes were said, no voice whispered either to him or to Polly how long-drawn a separation lay ahead.







"A LETTER from Paris! Grandmother, a letter from Paris!" cried Molly, as she rushed into the dining-room of Mrs. Fairbank's house at Bath. "And it is in my papa's handwriting."

Mrs. Fairbank, a comely elderly lady—in these days, with the same weight of years, she would have been cheerfully middle-aged—adjusted her horn spectacles, tied her loosened capstrings, and scrutinised Molly's eager face.

"You make too much of things, child," she remarked. "Whatever befalls, it is not worth while to discompose yourself."

Then she lifted the letter, examined it, weighed it in either hand—and hesitated. Being an excellent disciplinarian, she was wont to welcome opportunities for the exercise of self-control. Molly, squeezing her hands together, wondered if the slow moments would ever pass, and Polly found it scarcely easier to endure delay.

"Jack!" gasped Molly,—and "O Jack!" echoed Polly, in a tone of relief.

The young man who walked in—he was hardly more than a boy in years—bore small resemblance to his sister. He was of squarer build than Polly, under medium height, and muscular in make; his features were irregular, and the eyes were light blue, instead of brown. Jack Keene boasted no particular pretensions to good looks, but he was very generally liked; and Mrs. Fairbank, after the manner of elderly ladies, doted on her grandson.

Jack read the little scene at a glance, and as he stooped to greet one after another, he said—"News from France, ma'am? And what may they say?"

Having no further excuse for delay, Mrs. Fairbank opened the letter, and took thence a tiny missive, addressed to Molly. "From Roy," she said. "I think—" and there was a dubious pause—"I think I may permit you to read this to yourself, child. Doubtless your mamma has seen it."

Molly fled to the window-seat, and plunged into the delights of Roy's epistle. Mrs. Fairbank's face of growing concern failed to draw her attention; and a murmured consultation which took place might have gone on in China, for all the impression that it made upon her. But having three times gone through the contents of her little sheet, and having kissed it tenderly, she at length carried it to Polly.

"Roy has forgotten to sign his name," she said. "And he said he had a cold, and felt sea-sick."

"Roy, I regret to say, is far from well, my dear," replied Mrs. Fairbank solemnly. "He has been taken ill with a most unexpected disorder. It is truly unfortunate. He has the smallpox. Doubtless he took it into his constitution before ever he left England."

Polly wound her kind arms round the image of childish woe.

"But numbers and numbers of people have smallpox," she observed. "And many get over the complaint." This was lame comfort; but what else could Polly say? The reign of that awful scourge of nations was not yet over. Vaccination had indeed been recently discovered, and was making way; but it had not yet become general, even in England. Many people, from ignorance, doubted its worth; many still preferred the more dangerous safeguard of inoculation. Strange to say, the Barons had not yet, as a family, undergone vaccination, though they had talked of doing so. They had been half sceptical, half dilatory.

"Will his face be all marked?" asked Molly sadly, thinking of the innumerable seamed and disfigured faces which she knew. "Will he be like Mr. Bryce?"

"I hope not, indeed. All who have it are not scarred. Captain Ivor is not, yet he has had it. Think, Molly, is not Captain Ivor kind and brave? He has taken Roy into another house, and he will not let your father or mother go near to Roy, or any one who has not had the disorder. He is nursing Roy himself, and they hope it will not be a severe attack."

Molly was hard to comfort; and no wonder. All her spirit went out of her, and she seemed to care for nothing except clinging to Polly, and being assured again and again that Roy would probably soon be better.

Letters then were not an everyday matter, as now. Posts were slow and expensive, and people thought more than twice before putting pen to paper. Colonel Baron had promised to write again soon, but he waited till he should have something definite to say.

The suspense was almost as hard for Polly as for Molly—harder, perhaps, in some respects. Only, as Ivor had had the disease, and had nursed a friend through it without being the worse, he might be counted safe. But Polly knew that his stay in Paris was likely to be much lengthened. Weeks might pass before Roy would be able to travel. Denham would most likely spend the whole of his leave in attendance upon the boy; and when he returned, he would have no time left to spare for Bath. At present her fears extended no further.

Meanwhile public events marched on with strides. That month of May 1803 was astir with events. The maintenance of peace between England and France became daily more precarious. The feverish ambition of Napoleon could know no rest, so long as he was confronted by a single nation in Europe.

This state of tension increased, till the breaking out of war became merely a question of days. Large numbers of English had seized the rare opportunity of a year free from fighting to travel in France, and at this time there were something like eight or ten thousand British in that country. The French papers heartily assured English travellers of their absolute safety, even supposing that war should break out; and doubtless the editors meant what they said. Few men, French or English, could have foreseen what was coming.

Despite such assurances, a homeward stampede took place; and the thousands were, by some accounts, reduced rapidly to hundreds. Many lingered, however; not all detained, as were the Barons, by illness. War-clouds might threaten; but that travellers should be affected by a declaration of war was a thing unheard-of.

In May, suddenly at the last, though the step had been expected, the British ambassador was recalled from Paris, and the French ambassador was recalled from London. Meanwhile the English Government, issuing letters of marque, seized a number of French vessels which happened then to be lying in English ports. This, it was said, took place before the declaration of war could reach Paris. If so, though the deed was sanctioned by centuries of custom, one must regret its haste. But no excuse can be found for Napoleon's illegal and cruel act of reprisal.

Like a thunder-crash came the order, before the close of May, arresting all peaceable British travellers or residents in France, and rendering them "prisoners of war" or détenus, to be confined in France during the pleasure of the First Consul. The shortened form of that direful proclamation, as it was printed in English newspapers, spread dismay through hundreds of English homes, and awakened a furious burst of anger against the man who had dealt the blow.







"HALLO, Keene!—Mr. Jack Keene! At your service, sir!"

"Admiral! How do you? I was near giving you the go-by."

"Near running me down, you might say. Like to a three-decker in full sail. You are going indoors. Ay, ay, then I'll wait. I'll come another day. 'Twas in my mind that Mrs. Fairbank might be glad of a word. But since you are here—"

"She will be glad, I can assure you. Pray, sir, come in with me. This is a frightful blow. It was told me as I came off the ground after parade, and I hastened hither at full speed."

"Ay, ay, that did you," muttered the Admiral. "Seeing nought ahead of you but the Corsican, I'll be bound."

"Tis a disgrace to his nation," burst out Jack. "Sir, what do you think of the step?"

"Think! The most atrocious, the most abominable piece of work ever heard of. If ever a living man deserved to be strung up at the yard-arm, that man is Napoleon."

"It can never, sure, be carried out."

"Nay, if the Consul chooses, what is to hinder?"

"Government will not give up the vessels seized."

"Give them up! Knuckle down to the Corsican! Crouch before him, like to a whipped hound! Why, war had been declared. Our ambassador had had his orders to come home before ever the step was taken. Give up the ships! Confess ourselves wrong, in a custom which has been allowed for ages! We'll give nothing up—nothing, my dear Jack. Sooner than that, let Boney do his best and his worst. Wants to chase our vessels of war, does he? Ay, so he may, when they turn tail and run away. We shall know how to meet him, afloat, fast enough—no fear! With our jolly tars, and gallant Nelson at their head, there's a thing or two yet to be taught to the First Consul, or I'm greatly in error."

The two speakers stood outside Mrs. Fairbank's house in Bath, where they had arrived from opposite directions at the same moment. Both had walked fast, and each after his own mode showed excitement. The older of the two, Admiral Peirce, a grizzled veteran, made small attempt to hide the wrath which quivered visibly in every fibre of his athletic figure. He had usually a frank and kindly countenance, weather-beaten by many a storm, yet overflowing with geniality. The geniality had forsaken it this morning, and he looked like one whom an enemy might prefer not to meet at close quarters.

Jack Keene had, as he intimated, come straight from parade, not waiting to get rid of his uniform; and in that uniform the young Ensign looked older than in mufti. Also he seemed older in this mood of hot indignation, his light blue eyes sparkling angrily, and his brows frowning. For once, whatever might usually be the case, he had the air of a grown man.

"Tis a freak of Boney's—not like to last. The whole civilised world will cry out upon him. Not that he greatly troubles his pate with what folks may say," added the Admiral, reflecting that the civilised world had been for many years crying out upon Napoleon, with no particular result. "Still, there are limits to everything. Yes, yes, I will come in with you."

Jack led the way, and they found a forlorn trio within. Mrs. Fairbank knitted fast, with frequent droppings of stitches; and Polly, white and dismayed, had an arm round Molly, whom she was trying to comfort, while much needing comfort herself. Two days before, a letter had come from Colonel Baron, with a cheerful report of Roy, and Molly's happiness was sadly dashed by this new complication.

Jack was speedily by their side, doing his best to console them both. Molly, as earlier stated, was small and childish for her twelve years, and Jack was next-door to being her brother; so she cried quietly, leaning her face against his scarlet coat, while he whispered hopeful foretellings.

"This is truly a doleful state of things, ma'am," the Admiral observed, turning his attention, as in duty bound, towards the elder lady. "Who could have thought such wickedness possible? 'Tis prodigiously sad. I vow there was never such a being as this First Consul since first the world was created. But cheer up, ma'am. Never you mind about him, nor pretty Polly neither. Things will all come right in time—maybe sooner, maybe later—there's no sort of doubt."

"But are they indeed all prisoners, sir?" asked Polly.

"Nay, nay, not so bad as that! The First Consul may be but little removed from a fiend; yet even he does not war with women and with schoolboys. Mrs. Baron is free to return when she will, and to bring Roy with her. 'All the English from the ages of eighteen to sixty,' and any such as are in His Majesty's Service—those are the terms of the arrest. Roy being under eighteen, and not yet having a commission, is not included. 'Tis only Colonel Baron and Captain Ivor who are to be accounted prisoners of war. An atrocious deed, with harmless and innocent travellers."

That "only" sounded hard to Polly, though it was meant in all kindness. The Admiral was doing his best to bring a ray of sunshine into a cloudy prospect.

Before any one could reply, the door opened, and in sailed Mrs. Bryce, followed by her husband. They had found their way to Bath, avowedly to drink the waters; and Mrs. Bryce was looking her gayest, as befitted a fashionable visitor to fashionable Bath.

When once Mrs. Bryce was upon the scene, other people had no chance of saying much.

"So this is the outcome of it all!" she exclaimed, with uplifted hands. "A fortnight in Paris—more like to be a matter of years. Nap has 'em in safe keeping, and depend on 't, he'll not let them go in no sort of haste. I protest, when Colonel Baron told me of his purpose, I had an inkling in my mind of what should come to pass. Did I not warn him? Did I not tell him he should be content to stop at home? 'Tis now even as I foretold. If the mice will foolishly run into the trap, with their eyes open, what may be expected but that in the trap they must stay? My dear Mrs. Fairbank, I do most sincerely condole with you all."

Mrs. Fairbank parted her lips, and had time to do no more.

"Tis done now, and it cannot be undone. But 'tis a lesson for the future. Had the Colonel but shown his accustomed good sense, he would have taken warning by my words, and might now be sound and safe in England. But everybody has expected war. If England will not act at the bidding of old Nap, England has to fight. And England will not obey his will. Therefore we must needs fight."

"The Treaty of Amiens—" Mrs. Fairbank began to say.

"O excuse me, I beseech! We agreed, doubtless, in that Treaty, to carry out certain conditions, if old Nap should carry out certain others. And on his part those conditions have been broken. For months the Treaty has been worth so much waste paper. Since Boney has not kept his share of the agreement, we are free. What! are we to yield to the tyrant, and to do his will? I protest, England is not yet sunk so low."

The others tried to intimate how fully they agreed with the lively speaker, but she went on, unheeding—

"I have it all from my brother, who has it at first-hand from His Grace the Duke of Hamilton. I venture to think that's unimpeachable, ma'am. One thing is sure, our friends over the Channel will not be back this great while. I give them at the least three years. Nay, why not four or five?"

"Nay, why not forty or fifty?" drily asked Jack. "Nay, Molly!" —as he felt her start. "Who knows? The war may last but six months. And Roy is free."

But he could not speak of Ivor as free: and he saw Polly's colour deepen, her eyes filling. This could not be allowed to go on. A diversion had become necessary: and Jack's voice was heard to say something in slow insistent tones, making itself audible through Mrs. Bryce's continued outpour.

"A very great friend of his Grace—" reached her ears. Mrs. Bryce, being much of a tuft-hunter, stopped short.







"You were saying, Jack— What was that which you were pleased to remark?"

"I did but observe, ma'am, that the Duke of Hamilton's most particular friend—who is also, in my humble opinion, and in that of many others, the greatest of living Englishmen—chances to be at this instant staying in Bath."

"The Duke's particular friend! Then, sure, 'tis somebody whom we are acquainted with, my dear—" turning to her husband, more impressed with the fact of the ducal friendship than with Jack's estimate of the man. "Somebody, doubtless, in the world of mode; and 'twould be vastly odd if we had not come across him."

"We may scarce claim to be acquainted with all his Grace's friends," mildly objected Mr. Bryce.

"Well, that's as may be. But who is the distinguished person, Jack?"

"None less than General Moore himself, ma'am."

Mrs. Bryce held up startled hands, and vowed that the most ardent wish of her heart was to set eyes on this Hero of heroes, whom by a succession of mischances she had hitherto failed to meet.

"Though in truth 'tis small marvel, since the General is for ever away across seas, fighting his country's battles," she added. "Excepting in this past year of the peace, when each time that I would have seen him, fate prevented me. And he is in Bath at this moment, say you?"

"Ay, ma'am. And if you desire to find another who reckons General Moore to be the foremost British soldier of his day, and to be the noblest among men,—why, I've but to refer you to Ivor."

"And now I bethink myself," exclaimed Mrs. Bryce. "Was not that a Mrs. Moore to whom in the Pump Room yesterday Mrs. Peirce introduced me, saying I should feel myself honoured, knowing her son's name? I protest, I had forgot the matter till now, having had my attention drawn off, and not bethinking me of General Moore."

Mr. Bryce intimated that his wife was in the right. He had imagined that Mrs. Bryce understood. General Moore's mother was the widow of a very able Scots physician, as he proceeded to explain.

"A woman of much force of character and no small charm of manner," he said. "The General, 'tis reported, has been ever distractedly fond of his mother and sister, and they are here together for a spell. I fear 'tis likely to be a brief spell. War being now declared, his services will be assuredly needed elsewhere."

The attention of Mrs. Bryce was as effectively diverted as Jack had wished. "The General's mother—and friends of his Grace of Hamilton," she meditated aloud. "A most unassuming person! But since I'm introduced, I'll most certainly leave upon them my visiting-ticket."

"By all means, my dear, if you so desire. 'Tis said that the good lady cares not greatly for society; ne'ertheless, she'll doubtless take it well, in compliment to her son's merits and his great fame."

"It may be we shall see them again in the Pump Room, on leaving this. I'll away thither at once. Could I but set eyes on the General, 'twould be the utmost gratification to me that ever I felt." She stood up, eager to be off; but as she went she gave a parting fling—"Depend on 't, old Nap will be in no sort of hurry to let his prisoners go free. No one need think it."

On that particular day Mrs. Bryce had not her wish; yet the fulfilment of it was not to be long delayed.

A morning or two later what she desired came unexpectedly, as is often the case. She had taken Molly for a walk, and Mr. Bryce had left them outside the Pump Room, to go to a shop. "I shall be speedily back, my dear," he had said. "If you choose to wait for me, I will rejoin you."

Mrs. Bryce elected to wait, and hardly had he vanished round a corner before her eyes fell upon two men, coming out of the Pump Room in earnest talk. The younger of the pair was unnoticed by Mrs. Bryce. All her attention was instantly concentrated on the other. She was quick of wits and keen in observation, and she had heard more than one description of Moore's personal appearance.

A consciousness flashed across her, as she noted the splendidly borne head, that here was no ordinary individual.

Could it be—? Might it be—? Mrs. Bryce glanced round in despair for her husband. He was out of sight. That she should be foiled again was not to be endured.

Shyness had never been a characteristic of Mrs. Bryce. If this indeed were the man whom she craved to see, she would not miss her opportunity.

The two came to a pause, and Mrs. Bryce drew nearer, Molly keeping close by her side. In a clear full voice one was speaking—the one who absorbed Mrs. Bryce's attention,—and the concluding words of the short sentence were uttered with an intonation which, to any one who had heard Moore speak before, must have been unmistakable—

"If ever a man tells me a lie—" then came a slight impressive break,—"I've done with him!"

Something in a lower tone from the other, and a response—

"Ay, no need to assure you of that. I shall see you soon again."

He lifted his hat, and as they parted, going different ways, Mrs. Bryce with a swift movement placed herself in the path of the General. His hat was again courteously raised, and the penetrating eyes met hers.

"Pray, sir—I entreat of you—pardon my boldness. I have not yet the supreme honour of your acquaintance. But, if I am not strangely in error, your name, sir, is—"

"John Moore, madam."

Mrs. Bryce sank to the ground in a profound reverence, and Molly dipped a neat little curtsey in her wake.

"Sir, it is the proudest moment of my life. That I should be vouchsafed the distinction of speaking with our most famous General! But excuse my boldness, sir. You are acquainted with my young friends, Captain Ivor and Mr. Jack Keene. And my husband, Mr. Bryce, has had the honour of a word with you. I have hitherto been less fortunate, though I too have been introduced to your excellent mother, Mrs. Moore, upon whom I have taken the liberty of calling."

The enthusiastic lady failed to realise that, while to her he was one of the foremost men living, she to him was no more than an unknown item in a population of seventeen millions. General Moore listened with most polite gravity, but the glimmer of an amused smile struggling for the mastery might have been detected.

"Sir, if you would graciously permit me to shake hands with one to whom my country owes a heavy debt of gratitude—"

The luminous smile broke into open sunshine. Handshaking was not then so common as it is now between slight acquaintances, but as a matter of course his hand was at once held out.

"You honour me greatly, madam, and I am sincerely grateful. But I fear you overestimate my services. I have but sought to do my duty."

Mrs. Bryce curtseyed profoundly again.

"I may not venture to detain you, sir. You are doubtless much occupied. But none can fail to know that General Moore has fought more often and more gallantly for his country than any other general of our day. I thank you most gratefully, sir, for the honour you have done me."

"On the contrary, ma'am, 'tis I who am honoured by your kind attention."

"Nay, sir, nay, that is but a fiction of speech. I shall never, sir, to my dying day be oblivious of this hour. And truly I hope that I have not seen General Moore for the last time."

Mrs. Bryce trod upon air the rest of the morning.







COLONEL BARON might not confess the fact in so many words, but before he had been three days in Paris he sorely regretted his own action in taking Roy across the Channel.

When Roy was first taken ill—after ailing for a day or two—the doctor, hastily called in, at once pronounced him to be probably sickening for that fell disease which for centuries had held the world in a thraldom of terror. Not without reason. Up to the close of the eighteenth century nearly half a million of people had died in Europe every year of smallpox.

Mrs. Baron was a fond and tender mother, yet when first that dread word left the doctor's lips, even she fled in horror from the sick-room. From infancy she had been used to admiration, and she knew too well to what a mockery of the human face many a lovelier countenance than hers was reduced.

Soon, ashamed of herself, she rallied, and would have returned; but this the Colonel sternly prohibited.

The people of the hotel, in sheer dismay, insisted on Roy's instant removal. The question was—where could he go? Then it was that Ivor came to the rescue, He had had smallpox. He was not only safe, but also experienced, having nursed a friend through the complaint. He would take charge of the boy himself, allowing none other to enter the room. His steady manner and cheerful face brought comfort to everybody.

Consulting with the hotel people, he heard of a M. and Mme. de Bertrand living near, who might be willing to receive him and Roy. They and their servant had been inoculated, and were safe. Since they were members of the old lesser noblesse, and had lost heavily in Revolution times, they might be glad thus to make a little money.

The matter was speedily arranged, and Roy was conveyed thither wrapped in blankets, already much too ill to care what might be done with him. Colonel and Mrs. Baron remained at the hotel, to endure a long agony of suspense.

As days passed, it appeared that no one else had caught the disease, and Roy was found to have it mildly. It was not a case of the awful "confluent" smallpox, but of the simple "discrete" kind. There was a good deal of fever, and at times he wandered, calling for "Molly," but more often he was dull and stupefied, saying little.

Perhaps nobody who had seen Denham Ivor only in society or on parade would have singled him out as likely to be a good nurse. A modern trained nurse would have found much to complain of in his methods, and not a little to arouse her laughter. Many of his arrangements were highly masculine: the room was never in order; and whatever he used he commonly plumped down in the most unlikely places.

But his patience and attention never failed; he never forgot essentials; he never seemed to think of himself or to require rest. Day after day he stayed in that upstairs room, only once in the twenty-four hours going out for a short walk, that he might report Roy's condition to Colonel Baron, meeting the latter, and standing a few yards from him. If Roy was able to get a short sleep, Denham used that opportunity to do the same; but in some mysterious way he always contrived to be awake before Roy. His handsome bronzed face grew less bronzed with the confinement and lack of exercise.

No one beside himself and the doctor entered the room, except a wizened old Frenchwoman, herself frightful from the same dire disease, who was hired to come in each morning, while Ivor was out, that she might put things straight.

Then tokens of improvement began, and Colonel Baron sent a letter home which cheered Molly's heart. But later violent inflammation of one ear set in. For days and nights the boy suffered tortures, and sleep was impossible for him or for his attendant. Roy in his weakness sometimes cried bitterly with the pain, always begging that Molly might never be told. "She'd think me so girlish," he said, while tears rolled down his thin cheeks, marked by half a dozen red pits.

In the midst of this trouble, a terrible blow fell upon Ivor, in the shape of a stern official notice, desiring him to consider himself a prisoner of war, and at once to render his parole.

Ivor was commonly a calm-mannered man, with that quietness which means the determined holding down of a far from placid nature. Some words of fierce wrath broke from him that day. He was compelled to go and give his parole, infection or no infection; and indignant utterances were exchanged between him and Colonel Baron, whom he chanced to meet on the same errand. Then he had to hasten back to the boy, with a heavy weight at his heart.

It meant to Ivor, not only indefinite separation from Polly, but also a complete deadlock in his military career.

He was passionately attached to Polly. He was not less ardently attached to his Chief. If one half of his spare thoughts was given to a future with Polly for his wife, the other half was given to a future of campaigning under Moore.

Had imprisonment come in the ordinary way, through reverse or capture in actual warfare, he would have borne it more easily. The sense of injustice rankled. He foresaw, too, the complications likely to arise, and the possibility of long delay in the exchange of prisoners. As he patiently tended the boy, his brain went round at the thought of his position, and that of Colonel Baron.

Three or four more days of strain, and then the abscess in the ear broke, causing speedy relief. The first thing Roy did was to fall into a profound sleep. When he woke up, feeling much better, his murmur was as usual for "Den!" No answer came.

He took a look round. The light from the window was growing dim, and the pain in his ear had vanished. Denham, near at hand, was leaning back in the only pretence at an easy-chair which the room held. His head rested against the wall, and he seemed to be heavily asleep.

Boys of twelve are not always very thoughtful about other people, but an odd feeling came over Roy, as he noted the fine-looking young soldier in that attitude of utter weariness. Through his illness he had actually never once seen Ivor asleep till now.

"He must be tired, I'm sure. But I wish he'd wake."

The door opened slowly, and Roy's eyes grew round with surprise. Nobody entered this infected place, as he knew, except Ivor, the doctor, and the old woman. This newcomer stepped quietly up to the bed. She was quite a girl, perhaps two or three years older than Polly. She was very slight, with a neatly-fitting dress. The lighted candle in her hand threw a glow upon her face. It was a sweet face, delicate and gentle, and it would have been exceedingly pretty but for the evident ravages of a long-past attack of smallpox. There were no "pits" on her skin, but a certain soft roughness marked the whole, as if it had once been closely covered with pits. The face was pale, its features were even, short black hair curled over a wide forehead, and the dark eyes were full of sadness.

Roy put out his hand involuntarily, only to snatch it back.

"I forgot. Den told me I must not touch anybody except him—not even that ugly old woman. I'm so thirsty. I wish he'd wake up."

"Pauvre enfant!" She went to the table and brought a glass of milk, which Roy drank eagerly. Then she smoothed his bedclothes.

"But you ought not, you know," observed Roy's weak voice. "You might catch the smallpox. Den would make you go. Can you talk English?"

"Yes, I can talk English." She said the words in foreign style, with slow distinctness, but with a pure intonation. "I learnt English in your country. Yes, I have been there for three or four years. Monsieur votre frère—your brother—il a l'air très fatigué."

"Den isn't really my brother, only he's just like one. He's just Den, you know—Captain Denham Ivor, of His Majesty's Guards. He hasn't been to sleep for ever so long, and that's why he is tired. My ear has been awfully bad, for days and days. And Den was always here."

The girl left Roy, and went closer to the sleeping man. He remained motionless, the eyes closed, a slight dew of exhaustion on the brow, the face extremely pale. She sheltered the light from his eyes with her hand, and, turning away, began putting things straight. A few touches altered wondrously the look of the whole room. Roy lay and watched her.

"What's your name?" he asked. "Are you M. de Bertrand's daughter? I'm deaf still, so don't whisper."

"No. I am Lucille de St. Roques." She came near, not to have to raise her voice, and Roy again shrank from her. "It does not matter. I have had the complaint, and I do not fear."

"I wonder where your home is."

"Ah,—for that, I have not now a true home. Cependant, I have kind friends at Verdun, where I live. I am but just come here—unexpected."

"And have you a father and mother in that place—Ver—something?" Little dreamt Roy how familiar a name it would become in a few months!

"Verdun. My father and mother they were of the old noblesse, and—hélas!—thirteen years ago, in the Revolution, they were guillotined."

"O I say, how horrid!" exclaimed Roy. "Why, you must have been quite a little thing!"

"I was not yet eight years old. I was in prison with them, many many weeks, before they went out to die."

Ivor woke suddenly and stood up, leaning against the solid four-poster, since the room went round with him. He saw a girlish figure, and vaguely felt that she had no business there.

"Do not make so great haste. Will you not rest a little longer?" a kind voice said, and a soft hand came on his wrist.

"But indeed, mademoiselle, you must go away at once," he urged earnestly. "It is smallpox. Pray, go. You will take the infection."

"But me, I do not intend to go," she replied cheerfully, with her pretty foreign accent. "You need not be afraid for me, monsieur. See—I have had it. I am not in danger—not at all. You are fatigué—n'est-ce pas? It has been a long nursing—yes, so I have heard. When did you take food last?"

Denham confessed that he had not eaten for some time; he had not been hungry. Well, perhaps he was a trifle fatigué; but 'twas nothing—nothing at all. He was ready now for anything. If mademoiselle would only not put herself in danger! By way of showing his readiness, he made a movement forward; but he was forced to sit hastily down, resting his forehead on his hand. The long strain had told upon even his vigorous constitution.

"Ah!—C'est ca!" she murmured. "But you will be the better, monsieur, for a cup of coffee."

Ivor had no choice but to yield, and she moved daintily about, making such coffee as only a Frenchwoman can, and bringing it presently to his side.

"This is not right," he protested. "I cannot allow you to wait upon me, mademoiselle!"

She would listen to no remonstrances, however; and when he had disposed of it, she insisted that he should lie down on a couch in the small adjoining room, while she undertook to look after Roy. She had her friends' permission, she said, not explaining that she had refused to be forbidden; and monsieur in his present state could do no more. How long was it since he had slept? Ah, doubtless some days!

Ivor gave in, after much resistance, and in ten minutes he was again heavily asleep. Nature at last claimed her due.

When he woke, after several hours' unbroken rest, he was another man. Roy seemed much better; the doctor had paid a visit, and was gone; the room could scarcely be recognised as the same; and Ivor warmly expressed his gratitude, wondering as he did so at Lucille's look of steady sadness. She insisted on coming the next day, that he might rest and have an hour's walk.

"Isn't she jolly?" exclaimed Roy, when the door closed behind her. "She has told me lots of things while you were asleep. Only think, her father and mother were both guillotined! Both of them had their heads cut off. And they hadn't done one single thing to make them deserve it. They were awfully good and kind to everybody, she says. And she was only a little girl then; and when they were dead, somebody took her away to England, and she was there three or four years. And then she came back to France, and she lives with some people at a place called Verdun. She says they give her a home, and she works for them. And she would like to go to England again some day."

But Lucille de St. Roques had not told Roy her more recent sorrow. She let it out to Captain Ivor a day or two later. Only one year before this date she had become engaged to young Théodore de Bertrand, son of the old couple downstairs, and three months later he had been drawn for the conscription. No use to plead that he was practically an only son, since the second son, Jacques, was a ne'er-do-weel, who had taken himself off nobody knew whither. More soldiers were wanted by the First Consul for his schemes of foreign conquest, and young De Bertrand had to go. Scarcely four months after his departure news came that he had been shot in a sortie in the Low Countries. Large tears filled Lucille's eyes, and dropped slowly.

"Ah! So many more!" she said. "Thousands—thousands—called upon to be slain for nothing! Not for their country, but for the ambition of one bad man. It makes no difference, monsieur, that they love not the usurper. My Théodore was of the Royalist party, yet he had to go. And the poor old father and mother—they are left without one son in their old age!"







THERE is a good deal of variety in the different accounts as to the number of British subjects who actually suffered arrest in French dominions on the breaking out of the war. Some estimates amount to as high a figure as ten thousand; but these seem to have made no allowance for the rapid homeward rush just at the last. Other estimates give only a few hundreds, belonging chiefly to the upper ranks of society.

But indeed all classes were included. Not only officers in the Army and Navy, but lawyers, doctors, clergymen, men of rank, men of business, artisans, English residents abroad, all alike had the notice of arrest served upon them. All alike were either thrown into prison, or, if gentlemen, were ordered immediately to constitute themselves prisoners of war upon parole, with the alternative of becoming prisoners of war in strict confinement.

The mass of those détenus who were allowed to be upon their parole had to go to Fontainebleau; and thither Colonel and Mrs. Baron betook themselves. On the score of danger to others from infection, a slight delay was permitted to Ivor, still in charge of Roy.

The question had at once arisen whether Mrs. Baron should not be sent to England with her boy as soon as he should be fit to travel. Women were, at least in theory, free to go where they would, provided only that they could obtain passports. But Mrs. Baron refused to consider any such proposal. She could not and would not be separated from her husband. "Of course I shall go with him to Fontainebleau," she said decisively. "It cannot be for long. Roy must come to us there. It only means leaving his schooling for a quarter of a year. He will not be strong enough for work at present; and something is sure to be arranged soon. Then we shall all go home together."

The general opinion among friends in England was that Roy would certainly be sent across the Channel so soon as possible. Yet there were some who doubted. Mrs. Baron was known to be a mother perhaps more fond than wise; and it seemed conceivable that she might decline to part with him.

This unlooked-for move of Napoleon's caused a burning outburst of indignation throughout the length and breadth of England; and newspapers vied one with another in wrathful condemnation of his "unmannerly violation of the laws of hospitality."

War once begun was carried on with energy by both the British and the French. As a first step, Napoleon did his best to damage English commerce by closing Continental markets against her—supremely careless of the suffering which he inflicted on his own friends and subjects. But at this particular game England was the better of the two.

Ironclads were then unknown; and though the great three-deckers, with their seventy or a hundred guns apiece, could not be built in a day, yet war-vessels were of every description, from three-deckers down to merchant-ships, hastily fitted with a few guns, and sent forth to do their best. In a short time Great Britain had about five hundred war-vessels, with which she swept the seas, recaptured such Colonies as had been yielded to France by the Treaty of Amiens, blockaded harbours in countries subject to the First Consul, and made descents upon their ports, carrying off prizes in the very teeth of French guns and fortifications.

Napoleon's next move was definitely to announce his intention of invading England, of conquering the country, and of making it into a Province of France.

This was a feat more easily talked of than accomplished. Preparations, however, were pushed forward on a great scale. Huge flotillas of flat-bottomed boats, to act as transport for the invading army, were collected at various places, more especially at Boulogne; and at the latter spot a camp was formed of between one and two hundred thousand soldiers, to be in readiness for the moment of action. Also a strong fleet of French men-of-war was being prepared, to convoy the transports across the Channel.

Though no true-hearted Englishman believed for a moment in the possibility of his country becoming a French Province, all knew that the threatened invasion might take place.

An extraordinary burst of enthusiasm, throughout the whole country, was the immediate response to Napoleon's threat.

Large supplies of money were freely voted and given. The regular Army was increased, and the Militia was called out; while a Volunteer force sprang into being with such rapidity that it soon numbered about four hundred thousand men.

These citizen-soldiers, as it was the fashion to call them, were scattered all over the country, each place having its own corps. But the regular troops, drawn from various parts, were chiefly stationed where the danger seemed to be the more pressing, between London and the south coast—Sir David Dundas being in command.

Along the shores were erected batteries and martello towers—many of which remain to this day. And since Boulogne was the headquarters of the French army of invasion, an advanced corps was placed on the opposite coast, near Sandgate, under General Moore, in readiness to repel the first onslaught.

There Moore occupied his time in such splendid training of the regiments under his control, that throughout the long years of the Peninsular War, after he himself had passed away, the stamp of his spirit rested upon them, the impress of his enthusiasm and of his magnificent discipline made them the foremost soldiers in the British Army. Among these were the regiments which, as "The Reserve," bore the brunt of the fighting in Moore's famous "Retreat," and which were known in Spain and at Waterloo as Wellington's invincible "Light Brigade." Wellington used those regiments for the saving of Europe; but Moore made and tempered the weapon which was to be wielded by Wellington.

To the delight of Jack Keene, an opportunity offered itself whereby he might effect an exchange into one of the Shorncliffe regiments.

His semi-worshipping admiration for Moore was a reflection, an echo, of Ivor's deeper devotion. As yet he had seen little of the General, having met him but a few times. But long before they came together he had cherished a warm interest in the man—an interest awakened first in boyish days by Ivor's vivid descriptions of campaigning in the West Indies; descriptions of which Moore was always the chief figure. Jack had seized with avidity upon all such details.

When at length the two met, he could feel no wonder at Ivor's intense and reverent love for Moore. He counted himself thenceforward ready to live or to die for him, and one day in a fit of confidence he said so to Polly.

"Nay, Jack; live for him. Do not wish to die for him," pleaded Polly. "That will be the best."

Jack was not so sure. He could not forget a story told him long before by Ivor, of a certain heroic Guardsman in the West Indies—a man who had flung himself between Moore and the musket which was aimed pointblank at the latter, thus giving his life for that of his officer. But it was not needful for Jack to explain how readily he would do the same. He merely smiled, and remarked, "In all England there is no other his equal. Of that I am assured."

To Jack's disappointment General Moore had been summoned away from Bath on important duty; and intercourse between them came for the moment to a close. The young subaltern, however, found it possible to pursue acquaintance with the General's mother and sister; and gentle old Mrs. Moore had a great deal to say about this most idolised son of hers, where she found a sympathetic listener. Few listeners could have been more sympathetic than Jack Keene, who never grew tired of the subject. Mrs. Moore had other sons besides the General; but it was noticed that when she referred to him he was always distinctively—"My son," —not "My eldest son," nor "My son, John." This did not touch the close friendship between Moore and his brothers, one of whom was a Naval officer of mark.

Through these summer weeks of 1803 Polly was longing for Captain Ivor to come home. It was sad to think of him as a prisoner, forced to stay in a foreign land. She knew too that any day Jack might be ordered off; and one day, as she had feared, he rushed in, to tell them that he would be leaving immediately for Shorncliffe Camp, there to await Napoleon's first attempt to land on English soil.

The news was less a matter for congratulation to them than to Jack himself. At Sandgate he would be in the very forefront of the peril which threatened the land. Mrs. Fairbank had to rub her large horn spectacles more than once; and she was disposed to blame Jack for not referring the question to herself, before he accepted the offer of an exchange. Molly looked curiously at Jack, and asked, "Are you glad to say good-bye to us all?"

"Not glad to say good-bye, but glad to be going. People must say good-bye sometimes, Molly. And I shall be fighting under the best and bravest man that ever lived. Cannot you understand that?"

Polly broke out before Molly could reply. "Yes, indeed, Molly and I understand. You would be no true soldier, did you not long to be in the forefront. Jack, she and I have but this morning learned by heart a verse of Mr. Walter Scott's which 'tis said he has but just writ. Molly, you shall say the verse to Jack, for they are brave words. Hold up your head, and speak out, dear, as an Englishwoman should."

Molly obeyed, and spouted with considerable effect:

"'If ever breath of British gale
   Shall fan the tri-colour,
  Or footstep of invader rude,
With rapine foul and red with blood,
   Pollute our happy shore,—
  Then farewell home, and farewell friends,—
  Adieu, each tender tie!
     Resolved, we mingle in the tide,
     Where charging squadrons furious ride,
   To conquer, or to die!'"

"Come, that is good. That was well said. And you will both bid me God-speed. And when Napoleon is beaten, and old England is once again in safety,—why, then I will return, ma'am, to sit in the chimney-corner!"

"Yes, yes, Jack,—yes, my dear boy." Mrs. Fairbank, as always when agitated, knitted at railway speed. "You will do your duty in any case. Of that I am convinced. And General Moore will be a good friend to you."

Jack detected signs of a possible breakdown, and he stood up.

"Come, Polly,—come, Molly. There is time for a turn in the Pump Room. You do not dine till half-past three; and my grandmother will be none the worse for a quiet hour."

Molly looked anxiously for leave, and then flew to get ready. A walk with Jack was always a treat. They entered the old Pump Room together, finding there, as usual, a large assemblage of gaily-dressed ladies and fashionable gentlemen; some walking about, some lounging on seats.

The ladies wore short-waisted gowns of white or figured muslin, with short cloaks or mantles of bright hues, or short spencers of silk or coloured crape, and great feathered hats or bonnets, and plenty of large gilt and silver buttons. Many of the gentlemen were in tights and long flowered waistcoats and silver-buckled shoes, while others wore blue coats with brass buttons. Pigtails too might still be seen, though soon to be discontinued.

Jack and the two girls came all at once face to face with Mrs. Bryce, Admiral Peirce being her attendant-cavalier.

Both were immensely interested to hear Jack's news, how in less than a week he would be off to Sandgate, there to be under the command of General Moore, and—as Jack hoped—to be called upon to bear the first brunt of Napoleon's expected invasion.

"Not you, my dear sir," objected the Admiral, with a beaming face. "Before ever Boney reaches British shores, depend on 't he'll have to render a good account of himself to our ships of war. I doubt me, Boney won't contrive to give our Navy the slip."

Jack had no wish to get into a discussion. "Well, sir, well, our Navy and our Army too will both of them do their best," he said. "But 'twould be a foolish fellow who should trust all his eggs in one basket, as the saying is. And should, by any chance, the slip be given, and Boney arrive on our shores, why then the Army will make him render his account fairly! Has anybody seen Mrs. Moore, ma'am?" And he turned to Mrs. Bryce.

Mrs. Bryce had not the least intention of parting hastily with her second cavalier. To walk about the Pump Room in view of all her Bath acquaintances, with a gentleman on either side, was highly desirable. So Polly and Molly were adroitly dropped behind, and she set off.

"If not Mrs. Moore, Jack, I have seen some one else of passable interest," she remarked. "Who think you that can be? Nay, I protest, you shall stay, and you shall guess. Who can it have been?" She flirted her fan at him.

Jack was quite unable to imagine. "Unless it might chance to be Miss Moore," he suggested as a happy thought.

"Miss Jane Moore—the General's sister? No, sir, no—no Moore at all. Yet a 'Jane' notwithstanding. Her name is Miss Jane Austen—a well-bred young woman, I do assure you, who lives with her parents and sister at 4 Sydney Place, in the Green Park Buildings. And only to think—the good lady has writ a book which may by chance one day be printed. Yes, indeed, and it is so, I do declare. To think of that, my dear Jack! A whole actual book, 'tis said, written and finished, and bought from Miss Jane Austen by one of our Bath booksellers, for the sum of ten pounds. I'm on no account to divulge the name of the bookseller; for now he's done his bargain, he's much in doubt if ever the tale will pay him for the expense of printing it. 'Tis a story of the name of some sort of Abbey. But if you come across the good lady, Miss Jane Austen herself, you may not tell her one word of what I have told to you, for 'tis a solemn secret from everybody. 'Twas told my husband in strictest confidence, and if I had not wormed it out of him—Ah! ha! Jack, wait till you get a wife, and then you'll not smile on that side of your mouth."

"I have found my bride, ma'am. 'Tis my Profession," declared Jack, in a manner which nowadays would be looked upon as grandiloquent, but which in those days was quite the right thing for an enthusiastic young man.

"Nay, nay, nothing of the sort, my dear sir! Wait a while, and you'll find your affections engaged in another fashion. Can you be so hard-hearted as to hold out even now, in the face of all this youth and elegance? See, there goes a bewitching young woman; though 'tis true she wears a shocking unbecoming gown. But she's a prodigious favourite, and she can dance as tolerable a minuet as any young female present. Then there's young Susie yonder—something of a hoyden, maybe, and calls herself 'a dasher,' but uncommonly pretty, and prodigiously good spirits. And if you'd sooner have a bluestocking, why, I've but to introduce you to Miss Jane Austen herself."

"And if I have no sort of wish for none of these good people, madam?" demanded Jack, dropping involuntarily into the fashionable jargon of the day, so much affected by Mrs. Bryce.

"Why, then, Jack, I'll declare you are no true cavalier, nor worthy of your profession," smartly responded the good lady.







THOUGH the name of John Moore is inscribed in letters of blood upon the deathless roll of our National Heroes, not so much is known about him by people in general as ought to be known. A few words as to his past life may not be out of place.

His father, a Scots physician of eminence, and also a successful author, had been appointed guardian and travelling-companion to the young Duke of Hamilton; and during "Jack's" boyhood, from the age of about ten to fifteen, the latter shared in the Continental travels of Dr. Moore and his ward. The doctor showed himself well fitted for the trust reposed in him, while his son from the first shone as a star in whatever circle he moved.

As a child John Moore was impulsive, hasty-tempered, and addicted to fighting; but he early learned self-control, and he was of a remarkably noble and generous disposition. By the age of fourteen he had become a fascinating young fellow, with a face of manly beauty, a daring temper, and a growing passion for the Army. Already he was a good linguist, and an adept at both riding and fencing. About this time, when in the course of their travels the three went to Vienna, the Emperor of Austria definitely offered to take the brilliant boy into his service, promising rapid promotion. But Moore was far too ardent a patriot to serve in any Army save that of his own country.

Dr. Moore, writing to his wife, described his son affectionately as "attentive, active, and brave," with "great good sense," and "the most beautiful and graceful boy imaginable;" adding, "Jack does not stoop as the Duke, but will have a good carriage; and though he is so very pretty, he has not the least tendency to be a coxcomb." Not long after, again he wrote with fatherly pride: "Never was a creature less spoiled than your son by all the great people who have caressed him, nor by all the uncommon fine situations he has been in. Though his manner is manly and noble, yet it is simple, and he assumes no airs. He is a charming youth. I wish you had him in your arms." Often must this most loving of mothers have wished the same, while her son was visiting half the Courts of Europe.

At the age of fifteen John became Ensign in the first Regiment, and a few months later he wrote of it as "one of the best regiments in the service ... There is no such thing as either drinking or gambling going on."

In 1777 he joined the Duke of Hamilton's regiment, and went out to Nova Scotia, where he had hard fighting, and gained much credit for personal prowess.

Before the close of 1783 peace was proclaimed between Great Britain and her four enemies, France, Spain, Holland, and the United States. Though Britain in those days had much less than half her present population, she was wont most cheerfully to engage in war with three or four nations at one and the same time, with no misgivings as to results.

The "Hamilton Regiment" being disbanded, Captain Moore, then twenty-three years old, went home to live with his parents on half-pay—the doctor by this time having a London practice. Moore studied hard, and was much in society, being a universal favourite. For a while he represented four Scots burghs in Parliament, though with a stipulation on his part that he should be free always to follow his own judgment. Moore never became in the narrower sense a party man. He had his own firm convictions, but he made friends on all sides. He fought for country, not for party.

In 1737 he once more gladly forsook civil for military duties. A year later, when he had rejoined his old regiment, the 51st, at Cork, a lifelong friendship sprang up between him and young Ensign Anderson. From that time the two were almost inseparable companions.

By this date Moore was known as a disciplinarian of unusual power, indulgent when he might safely be so, but inflexible in enforcing strict obedience. In an age when hard drinking was the fashion, he set his face like a flint against habits of intemperance among officers and men; and in an age when hard swearing was the "mode," strong expressions were never heard from his lips.

In 1792 he was ordered to Malta; and two years later, the peace having already ended, he was fighting the French in Corsica. Two or three years later still, he was made Brigadier-General by the King and the Duke of York, and was despatched to the West Indies, to serve under Abercromby. Sir Charles Stuart, while in command at Sicily, had become one of his intimate friends; and Abercromby now became another. The Duke of York and Pitt, from the time of his seat in Parliament, had been also among the long list of those warmly attached to him. Wherever Moore went he made friends for life.

It was at this period, when Moore was in the West Indies, that Ivor, then a subaltern, was first thrown under his captivating influence.

As usual, opportunities occurred for the display of individual bravery, in which Moore always shone; and in those days of hard fighting Ivor too had won laurels and promotion. Moore's influence over the younger officers was unrivalled; and many a one besides Ivor could look back, long after, with the knowledge that Moore had been the making of him, not only as a soldier but as a man. He shaped the characters of those with whom he had to do.

When St. Lucia had been wrested from the French, Moore was appointed Commandant and Governor of the Island: no easy post, for the blacks were fearfully barbarous in their methods of warfare. After being twice laid low by desperate attacks of yellow fever, ill though Moore could be spared, he had to be sent home.

He reached England a mere wreck of his former self; but little rest could in those days be allowed to Britain's gallant sons. He had a short time with those whom he loved best—with the mother especially, who was more to him than all the world beside. Then he was again ordered off; first to survey the eastern coast, in preparation for a threatened French invasion; afterward against Irish rebels in our unquiet sister isle. There he was prostrated anew by severe illness; there he made fresh friends; there once more he was found an invaluable helper by those in authority.

From Ireland he was ordered to Holland, where Abercromby stood imperatively in need of him. Ten thousand British troops had been sent, not to fight the Dutch, but to rescue them from the French yoke. On the 2nd of October, Moore, in the course of five hours' determined fighting, received two wounds. The first he ignored. The second felled him to the ground; and he would have been made prisoner, but that his men carried him off.

Ivor had accompanied him to Holland; and when, in the year 1800, the memorable Expedition to Egypt took place, Moore being still under his old commander, Abercromby, Ivor to his delight was still under Moore.

In a desperate action, on the 20th of March, Moore was a second time wounded in the leg, and as before he fought on, disregarding it. Abercromby too was shot in the thigh, and did not even mention the fact until the victory was won. The two friends never met again; for Abercromby died of his wound before Moore was able to go to him.

On the Peace of Amiens, Moore returned to England, in time to see his father, who was dying of old age and heart disease. The doctor's property was left between his wife and his six children; and Moore, not content with his mother's jointure, insisted on giving her an additional annuity.

Thus for years the name of John Moore had been incessantly before the British public, as the bravest of the brave; having become by this time the one name, before any other save that of Nelson, to which in the hour of peril his countrymen would turn.

What was it about this remarkable man which so riveted the hearts of others to him? Not the hearts of women only, though in truth his mother and sister idolised him. But vigorous men, stern soldiers, poured upon him a very passion of devotion. Denham Ivor was one, Jack Keene was another, among scores who looked upon John Moore as the living embodiment of all that a soldier and a gentleman ought to be, who loved him with unbounded ardour.

Buonaparte was worshipped, and was followed unto death by his soldiers, as a great captain. Moore, in addition to being so followed, was loved as a man, with that love which men only give to strong men, and not to many among them.

Wherever Moore turned, he found this love. His own brothers lavished it upon him. The Duke of Hamilton was his fervent friend for life. Anderson was to him as Jonathan to David. The three gallant Napiers, Charles, George, and William, adored him. His French servant, Francois, forgot home and country for his sake. Private soldiers were ready to rush upon certain death, if so they might save his life. Officers of rank, working with him, became almost inevitably his personal friends. The younger officers, under his command and training, so caught the infection of his high spirit, so responded to the influence of "their hero," that by dozens in after years they became prominent characters in the Army and leaders in the Nation. He has been truly called "a king among men."

No doubt his striking personal appearance, his indescribable charm of manner, perhaps too his brilliant and witty conversational powers, had something to do with his influence. But those things which really lay at the foundation of this extraordinary control over others were, mainly, the force of his character, the vivid enthusiasm of his purpose, the loftiness of his ideals, the simple grandeur of his life.

He had his enemies. No truly great man, who does not stoop to pander to the littlenesses of little men, ever fails to make some enemies. It could not be otherwise. Jealousy alone was sure to turn some against him. Moreover, his inviolable integrity, his blameless name, the splendid disdain with which he spurned everything false and mean—such qualities as these in Moore made some of a baser type turn from and even turn against one who was so infinitely more noble than themselves. But to men of a higher and purer stamp Moore was, as the Bayard of the Middle Ages had been to a former generation, a knight sans peur et sans reproche, a model upon which they might seek to shape themselves.

With Ivor, as with many another, to have known Moore was to have been imbued for life with new aims, new ideals, new views of duty, new thoughts of self-abnegation. Not so much from what John Moore might here or there have said, as from what he always was. To be under the man was in itself an inspiration.



Soon after Jack's departure for Sandgate, Admiral Peirce was called away on duty; and the Bryces decided to flit eastward. Mrs. Bryce, who loved sensation, talked of a visit to Folkestone, a tiny watering-place in those days, but within reach of Sandgate and of Moore's camp at Shorncliffe; and she offered to take Polly with her. Polly had kept up bravely under her separation from Ivor; but her pretty face had lost some of its colour, and the change might do her good. Polly of course was charmed. Who would not have been in her place? She would see Jack again, also Jack's Commander and England's Hero, General Moore. She would be in the thick of all that was going on, and would learn the news of the hour at first-hand.

So the Bryces and Polly went, and Molly was left behind with old Mrs. Fairbank. Nobody saw aught to object to in the arrangement; and Molly said nothing. But in later years she often looked back with a shudder to those autumn weeks.

She had none with her by whom she was understood, or to whom she could freely talk. She was cut off from her father, from her mother, from her twin, from Polly and from Jack. News from the prisoners arrived very seldom, and plenty of room was left for Molly's childish imagination to bring her misery.

Those were days of far severer imprisonment than these are; dungeons and chains being in constant use. Molly had heard enough, even in her short life, of fettered and half-starved captives, to cause her to be haunted by doleful visions as to the durance vile which Roy might have to endure.

In the daytime, when she was fully occupied, it was easier to take a cheerful view of life; but Molly's sufferings began with nightfall. Often she would start out of a restless sleep, fancying that she saw Roy in some noisome dungeon, with chains upon his wrists, while his grey eyes appealed to her pitifully for help. She would hide her face and sob; and in the midst of her woe would come the sound of the old watchman, shaking his rattle as he passed down the street, and singing out monotonously, "Past one o'clock, and a starlight night;" or, it might be, "Past three o'clock, and a rainy morning!"

Molly would listen, shivering, to the prolonged utterance; and sometimes she would wonder if the old watchman ever went to sleep. Then, as the voice died away, she would drop off herself; and when again she woke, she would be hugging her pillow, under a vague impression that she had Roy in her arms.

But of these troubled nights Molly said not a word to any human being. The only person whom she could have told was Polly, and Polly had gone away.







MRS. BRYCE could seldom be happy for long in one place. Before the end of September she had decided to quit Folkestone for Sandgate. Polly was charmed, and Mr. Bryce made no serious objection.

"If Buonaparte should come, my dear, what then?" was all that he ventured to suggest; and Mrs. Bryce snapped her fingers at the First Consul.

"Let him come, if so it pleases him. Pray, Mr. Bryce, do you consider that we are bound to shape our course with a view to gratifying old Nap?" demanded the vivacious lady.

Mr. Bryce wondered privately what his wife's feelings would be, if one day a round shot from a French man-of-war should rush through the room in which she was seated. But to Sandgate they went, on a rainy autumn day, when the sea wailed dismally, and the wind howled more dismally still, and the lodgings which Mr. Bryce had managed to secure wore an aspect most dismal of all. Even Mrs. Bryce's spirits were affected by the state of the atmosphere.

Books in their possession were few, and had already been read. Jack failed to appear so soon as they had expected. Mr. Bryce sallied forth, despite the rain; but the ladies could not think of following his example. Mrs. Bryce in despair turned to some old volumes of the Gentleman's Magazine, lying in a corner; and in so doing, to her gratification, she fished out two or three recent numbers of the same serial.

"Ah, ha, my dear Polly, now we shall do," she declared cheerfully. "Now we may defy the elements, and you shall get on with your purse-netting, and I will find something to read aloud for your entertainment. I wonder much that Jack does not come."

"Jack is busy, or he would be here," Polly said confidently. Just as she had her half-netted blue silk purse nicely arranged between foot and knee, Mr. Bryce walked in, carrying letters,—at the sight of which Polly dropped her work, and started up.

"Nay, not from France. Nothing from France," Mr. Bryce said with quick understanding; and Polly returned to her seat languidly. "One from Bath for you, and one from Norfolk for my wife. Two letters in a day! You ladies may count yourselves fortunate."

Mr. Bryce disappeared anew, and Polly remarked, "My grandmother has written to me."

"Read it aloud, Polly. 'Twill serve before the Magazine," quoth Mrs. Bryce, and Polly complied, looking ahead, lest she should stumble upon any sentence meant only for herself. The letter ran as follows:

"Bath, Oct. 28, 1803."

   "MY DEAR POLLY,—Yours to Molly has very seriously disquieted my mind, I assure you. If General Moore, with his gᵗ experience considers that the French landing may be apprehended as likely soon to Take Place, 'tis sure the height of imprudence for you to remain in that neighbourhood, where the French Army, if it lands, will doubtless Pillage and Burn to the best of their Ability."

   "Nor does it appear to me, my dear Polly, that you will be greatly the better off in Lonⁿ, where certainly the Invading Army will immediately march, so soon as it has effected a Landing."

   "I am therefore about to Propose what seems to me the wiser plan for all of you. Which is, that you and Mrs. Bryce shou'd return again to Bath, without Delay, leaving Mr. Bryce, as Dou'tless he will desire, to take his proper share in the Defence of our Country. If Mrs. Bryce be willing to act according to this plan, I most gladly offer to her such Humble Accommodation as is in my power to bestow. The aspect of affairs is truly Alarming; and if it be seriously apprehended that Lonⁿ is like to be in greater danger of Bustle and Trouble than Bath, there is no Necessity for you all to remain in that part of England. If Mrs. Bryce can dispense for a while with the Good Table to which she is used, and can put up with more Humble Fare, then every friendly Accommodation in my power is at her Service."

   "Last Saturday there appear'd before the Market Place forty-three Blacks, who said they had been prisoners to the french, but had been retaken, and were come to offer themselves volunteers to King George. The Country men stared at them, and the women cried out. The next morning here arrived a coach-full of the same colour. They are all sent to Marlborough, how to be disposed of I don't know."

   "My love to Jack, who I hope will not be spoiled by his many friends,—alas, too frequently the case in these days of scarcity of Good Young Men. Molly is well and behaves herself."

   "Bath, it is expected, will soon be crowded with Irish Company. A great many large houses were engaged last week. The Bristol people think that, were the french to effect a landing on some of the Welsh coasts, they might soon expect to be troubled with them there and at Bath. Several meetings have been held on this subject. But 'tis the opinion of most that Lonⁿ lies in greater danger."

   "Yesterday was a solemn day for humiliation. The places of worship were well attended; and the Clergy here exerted themselves, I trust, to the best of their Abilitys."

   "May God graciously avert from Old England so great a Calamity as the presence of an Enemy upon her soil."

      "Adieu.—Your affectionate Grandmother,"


Mrs. Bryce pronounced the writer's mode of expression to be "vastly old-fashioned."

"But when you write, you may thank her all the same. Mrs. Fairbank means it kindly, and if I thought old Nap would come in truth—but 'tis all bluster and empty boasting. For my part, I put no sort of belief in any invasion of our shores. But you may inform her that I am sincerely grateful; and that, should occasion arise, I will not fail to avail myself of her hospitality."

Then Mrs. Bryce turned to her own letter.

"From my cousin in Norfolk. And if you'll believe it, Polly, they're all in a bustle and a fright there too, lest Nap should land first on the eastern coast. He'll have enough on hand, if he's to go everywhere that's expected of him. And if he goes there, they'll get them away into the fen country, where 'tis thought the French soldiers won't be able to follow."

Before Polly could reply, Jack walked in, and with him a young man, Albert Peirce by name, nephew to the Admiral, and subaltern in one of the Shorncliffe regiments.

Introductions followed, and Polly bestowed one of her most graceful curtseys upon the newcomer. No doubt Polly liked to be admired, as was natural in so pretty a girl; and she read instant appreciation of her charms in Mr. Peirce's face. So she did her best to be agreeable to him during the next two hours, and she seemed to be in very good spirits. Whether those spirits remained equally good after she had disappeared for the night, she alone could know.

Early the next morning, Polly was roused by agitated sounds.

"Polly! Polly! Wake up this instant, Polly! I vow and protest, the child is crazed! Wake up, Polly! Polly, do you hear—they're coming!"

Polly roused herself with great deliberation. Though lively enough at night, she was a heavy sleeper in the morning; and she dragged herself to a sitting posture, with half-shut eyes and loosely hanging hair, looking, it must be conceded, not quite so lovely as was her wont.

"Must I get up already, ma'am? 'Tis early."

"Get up! And already! 'Tis time you bestirred yourself in good earnest! Polly, they're coming! They're on their way hither."

"Jack and Mr. Peirce!" Polly yawned.

"Jack and Mr. Peirce, quotha! Why, 'tis the French! Cannot you understand, child? I've ever said 'twas nonsense, and they'd never truly come. But they're off! they're on their way! And the wind is favourable, and tis all up with us." Mrs. Bryce frantically wrung her hands, standing beside the curtained bed, in her flowered dressing-gown, her hair hanging loose, though not descending so low as Polly's abundant mane, while her face was yellow-white with terror. "And what we're to do nobody knows. Two French fleets of transports, and a whole French army aboard! And bonfires alight, and folks all astir, and there will be fighting, and people will be killed. And Mr. Bryce will sure be in the thick of everything, and he will get shot, and I shall be left a widow, Polly."

Mrs. Bryce collapsed on the foot of the bed. "And we might have been safe away, if I hadn't made such a prodigious fool of myself, never thinking for a moment that old Nap meant a word of what he said. I protest, 'tis enough to drive one distracted. I'll never in my life go to the sea-coast again, not for no sort of consideration! And they say old Nap'll be here in a few hours, Polly, and there's no way of getting off;—not a horse to be had for love or money! If I'd had a notion of it, I'd never have stopped here."

By this time Polly had grasped the situation, and her drowsiness was gone. She sprang out of bed upon her little white toes, and made a movement akin to dancing, as she flung a pink wrapper round her shoulders. This was being in luck, she would have said, if she had spoken out her first thought. To find herself in the very thick of it all—as safe as if a hundred miles away, with Moore and his soldiers to protect her, yet able to see everything!—it was delightful. Polly was a high-spirited girl, not easily alarmed; and fear found no corner in her mind this morning. She was simply eager and excited; whereas Mrs. Bryce, who from sheer perversity had refused to believe in even the possibility of an invasion, and who from sheer lack of imagination had failed to realise beforehand what such an invasion might mean, was overwhelmed with terror.







"HAS Jack been?" asked Polly.

"Jack—no. How should Jack be spared? He is wanted, of course. They'll all be wanted," moaned Mrs. Bryce. "And they'll all be killed. And we shall be taken prisoners, and be carried away to France, and put into dungeons, and never see England again."

"I shouldn't greatly mind going to France—if they would but let me be where—somebody is," murmured Polly. "But they won't—they'll never get here. Napoleon has no such easy task before him. They'll never get past our soldiers. Why, think—we've General Moore."

"Nay, but that's the worst! He's away at Dungeness Point. And the French will land before ever he can get back. The whole world is gone wrong."

"Where's Mr. Bryce?"

"Gone off to see what is being done. I could not keep him back. I protest, he'd no business to leave me. If the French arrive, I shall die of terror on the spot."

Polly executed another dainty pas on the bare boards.

"Hadn't we best make ready, ma'am, before they come?" she cheerfully asked.

"It's no manner of use, child. They may arrive any moment. Any moment, I tell you! and what on earth shall we do then?"

Polly suggested a preference for seeing the French in her frock rather than in a condition of undress; and with much coaxing she managed to get Mrs. Bryce back into the next room. Then, with all possible expedition, she made her morning toilette, flitting lightly about, and wondering what would happen next. After which, discovering that Mrs. Bryce's maid had fallen into a fit of hysterics over the prospect of "them Mounseers a-coming," she took the maid's place.

By the time that they both were dressed, Mr. Bryce returned with a good deal to tell. The whole place was in a grand commotion. An express had been despatched to General Moore at Dungeness Point, telling him of the news received from Folkestone, and informing him that the brigade was already under arms. The Volunteers had turned promptly out, also the Sea-Fencibles; and each man was prepared to do and dare his utmost in defence of home and country.

"Not a dull face to be seen, nor a frightened one—except—" declared Mr. Bryce, rubbing his hands, with a glance at the wan cheek of his usually lively wife. "All the world in high spirits—specially the soldiers! Jack only hopes that nothing may turn back the fleet. 'Tis time Napoleon should have a sharp lesson, he says. Heigho, Polly, you are fresh as a rose this morning. Come, we'll have our breakfast while we may. I see no need to starve out of compliment to the First Consul."

"And pray, sir, take me out after," implored Polly.

"Nay, child, you're safer in here. Perchance you'd be hurt in the bustle. Besides, it may be Jack will run in for a word, and he would be vexed to find you gone."

This was a cogent argument, and Polly submitted. She roved about the room, looking much out of the window, and singing under her breath scraps from ballads of the day. First came:

"Our bugles sang truce, for the night cloud had lowered,
   And the sentinel stars set their watch in the sky,
 And thousands had sunk on the ground, overpowered,
   The weary to sleep, and the wounded to die."

    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *

"Stay, stay with us—rest—thou art weary and worn—
   And fain was their war-broken soldier to stay—
 But sorrow returned with the dawning of morn,
   And the voice in my dreaming ear melted away."

Polly made a break here, before her sweet voice took up another strain, more softly uttered:

"When you're parted, Polly Oliver,
   Parted from your own true love,
 Will you be true, Polly Oliver,
   True to your own true love?"

"Yes; though the waves divide us,—
   Yes; wheresoever you rove,—
 I'm ever your own little Polly,
   Ever your true, true love!"

She had altered it slightly, half by instinct, dropping the surname in the last verse.

"In truth, Polly, you seem mighty indifferent to Napoleon's doings," objected Mrs. Bryce; after which she inquired of her husband how they were to escape inland.

"Why, that I do not precisely see," Mr. Bryce answered, with exasperating satisfaction. "Every man in the place will be wanted, and not a horse can be spared. Doubtless General Moore will arrange matters. I think 'tis needful that we should wait a while, and see what may happen. 'Tis a question in my mind whether the French can ever get so far as to the coast of England."

Mrs. Bryce recurred hysterically to her former assertion that they might arrive at any moment.

"Hardly that, since ships must take time. But 'tis true they've signalled from Folkestone that the enemy's boats had left Calais, and that the transports and ships at Ostend were also out and steering westerly. So, with this wind, they'll perchance be here in a few hours, if our fleet do not cut them out on their way. And I promise them they'll have a warm reception, if they come. Eh, Polly! We're making ready for 'em."

"I can't have you leave us again—not for no sort of consideration," urged Mrs. Bryce. "Your duty, my dear, is to protect us. If the French come, what may Polly and I do?"

"They've a few small difficulties to get over first," Mr. Bryce remarked drily. "'Tis no case of walking quietly on shore. I'll be back in time to protect you both—though indeed, should the French arrive, my place would be in the ranks with others."

Mr. Bryce had not been in such spirits for many a day. He was a quiet and meek-mannered man generally; but the prospect of a fight made him feel young again. When next he returned, he carried a musket with supreme satisfaction. Few middle-aged men have not some remnants of boyhood in them; and all the boyhood in Mr. Bryce came that day to the surface. He studied his new weapon with glee, talking much to Polly of "firelocks," fingering daintily the touch-hole, showing her how the spark from the flint would set the gunpowder on fire, and foretelling the certain death of some unfortunate French conscript, forced to fight for Boney against his will.

"Nay, sir, but you need not kill him," remonstrated Polly. "Only fire at his limbs, pray, and we will nurse him till he is well again."

"I have writ a letter to your grandmother, Polly," Mrs. Bryce said in quavering tones. "Where is the wax? I wish it fastened at once. I protest, I've scarce strength to lift a penholder. But I've informed her that we'll go to Bath so soon as ever we may. I trust only that we'll not be taken prisoners for life before ever we're away from this."

Somewhat later, no further news having reached them, Mr. Bryce again sallied forth, and this time he consented to take Polly, both of them promising to return to Mrs. Bryce on the very first intimation that the invading fleet had been sighted. They had not walked far when a man on horseback drew near at a quick trot.

"'Tis himself!" Polly exclaimed, with enthusiasm. Both she and Mr. Bryce knew well that soldierly figure, with its peerless grace of bearing.

"All now will go well," murmured Mr. Bryce. "Let Napoleon come, and welcome—so long only as Moore is at hand."

Polly did not catch his words.

"The General! 'Tis the General, sir."

They stood still, and Moore, drawing rein sharply, sprang to the ground. He was well bespattered with mud, and he had the look of having ridden hard and fast.

"So," he said, breaking into a smile which lighted up his whole face,—"so 'tis a false alarm this time."

Polly's exclamation contained a note of something like disappointment. Mr. Bryce seemed more gratified than astonished. The General's keen glance went from the one to the other.

"Due to a mistaken signal," he remarked briefly, "which the signal-officer at Folkestone understood to mean what it did not mean. The French transports have not left their stations, either at Calais or at Ostend."

"And you, sir, were at Dungeness Point," observed Mr. Bryce. "You must have ridden the twenty miles thence at a great speed."

"At full gallop, the entire distance. My horse, poor fellow, is I fear the worse. Not this one; I have mounted another. But the alarm is scarce a subject for regret. The spirit displayed on all sides has been of the best."

"Will Napoleon really come, think you, sir?" asked Polly, half shy, half brave.

"If his intention be to come before the winter, he has little time to lose," Moore answered courteously, and also with a touch of reserve; for privately he had not much faith in the threatened invasion.

"And you think he may do so, in very truth?"

"He may doubtless make the attempt—if he choose. The question is rather, what will he gain by it? It would seem, however, that Government is in greater apprehension of invasion now than a while since. Three more regiments join me here next Tuesday."



He mounted and rode off.


"'Tis better to be over-careful than under-careful," suggested Mr. Bryce.

"And the stronger the front that we present, the less likely are we to be attacked. But I must away. Sir David Dundas will be soon arriving. My compliments to Mrs. Bryce. She is not, I hope, the worse for this alarm."

"Somewhat shaken, sir; but we will return to cheer her spirits. She proposes flight to Bath for greater safety."

"She might perhaps go to a worse place," the General said, as he mounted and rode off, with a parting salute.

"Well, Polly?" They had watched him out of sight; and Mr. Bryce turned to his companion.

"Well, sir?" echoed Polly in arch tones.

"The false alarm at least has served to show of what metal some folks are made," remarked Mr. Bryce drily.







"MOTHER!" cried Roy, bursting into the sitting-room at Fontainebleau, one wintry day. "Ma'am—what do you think?"

Roy by this time was quite recovered from his illness, though his face carried traces of it in the shape of several small red pits, which had not yet had time to lose their prominence. He was still small and childish for his years,—a good-looking lad, but for those disfiguring marks. His eyes sparkled with excitement. Ivor, who happened to be in the background, made a silencing gesture, but Roy was too eager to notice it.

"Only think! All of us are ordered off to Verdun! Why, that is where Mademoiselle de St. Roques lives. We shall see her again. I shall like that, but 'tis horrid having to go further away from home. Everybody says what a beastly shame it is. It's a fortified town, and we prisoners are to be in stricter keeping."

Roy liked to speak of himself as a prisoner, even while he chafed furiously against the restraints of imprisonment. He objected to the indignity of being counted so young as not to be worth detention. "I am quite as old as lots of middies," he would declare. "And only two or three years younger than General Moore when he began to be a soldier." This assertion generally brought laughter, for nobody ever guessed Roy at thirteen to be more than ten or eleven.

"You should not startle your mother, Roy," the Colonel said gravely, as Mrs. Baron's eyes grew wide and terrified. "You should have waited until I spoke."

Roy began to see, too late, the nature of his blunder.

"I'm sorry, sir. But shall we go by diligence or poste, or will you have a carriage?"

"A carriage, probably, for your mother and Den and myself."

The words were said deliberately. Colonel Baron had made up his mind in that moment to take the bull by the horns. Delay now would be useless.

"And me, sir?"

Colonel Baron's silence spoke more plainly to his wife than to Roy. She stood up, and with her graceful step moved across, to lay one slender hand on either of her boy's shoulders. Colonel Baron knew that in her mind, as in his, was the promise she had given months before, that, if they should have to go to a greater distance from England, she would then consent to Roy's return.

Her husband knew that she would not try to draw back from her word; but neither would she hide what the keeping of it would cost her. The détenus had pretty well given up hopes of any speedy release; and she could not but know that a parting from her boy might mean long separation. It was hard to be away from Molly, but in that respect Colonel Baron was the greater sufferer, since he had always doted especially on his little girl. To part with Roy would be to Mrs. Baron simply heart-breaking. But she had promised; and Colonel Baron would not let her off her promise.

"Why, ma'am, you don't mind it so much as that! I wouldn't cry for old Boney," remonstrated Roy, as her tears fell heavily.

Colonel Baron came close, and she turned from Roy to lean against him, breaking into bitter sobs.

"My dear heart, we must think of the boy—not of ourselves," urged the Colonel. "Think how much better for him to be at school in England. But for Den, this life would be ruination for him."

"Am I to go home?" asked Roy, as a few more words from his father revealed the state of the case. "Will Napoleon let me?"

The gentlemen exchanged glances. "You are not a détenu," replied Colonel Baron, though his mind misgave him, for he had heard lately of more than one instance in which an attempt to get a passport had proved a failure. "There ought to be no difficulty. I must apply for a passport at once."

Roy stood thinking. "And I shall see Molly again," he remarked. "It does seem an awful long while since I left her. Shall I go to school? And shall I spend my holidays in Bath till you and my mother come home?"

Mrs. Baron hid her face.

"Yes, of course,—I see—I ought to go," pursued Roy. "It wouldn't do for me to stop on here. In two or three years I've got to be a soldier, and then Napoleon would want to keep me altogether. I'd much better be off. How soon can I start? It will be jolly to see Molly again."

Roy was making matters worse, and Ivor stood up, throwing aside his book. "Come!" he said shortly, with an imperative sign, and Roy followed. Outside the house Ivor remarked, "You must be more careful. You have to think of your mother's feelings."

Roy looked up in surprise. "Did I say something wrong?"

"Could you not see? She is breaking her heart at the thought of losing you. Just imagine what it will be to her not to have her boy any longer. Don't let her think you are glad to go."

"But I'm not glad to leave her. Of course I'm not. I'm only glad to go to England, and to see Molly, and to be free to fight as soon as I'm old enough. I should think she'd understand."

A curious expression crossed the other's face. "You can hardly expect her to want you to fight. That's not the way with mothers. The last thing she would wish would be for you to hold back, but she will be unhappy. You can't possibly know what the parting will be to her, but still you can be kind. Really brave men are always kind as well as brave, you know."

Roy showed signs of being impressed. He knew Denham to be so gallant a soldier that words of this sort coming from him had especial weight. Neither spoke again directly. Roy walked fast, doing his best to match Ivor's long stride, though compelled now and then to make a droll little extra step, if he would not be left behind.

"Yes, of course," he said at length. "I suppose that's what we men have to do. I mean, we have to try not to make women unhappy. When I get back I don't mean ever to make Molly cry again."

The application for Roy's passport was duly made, and a formal reply promised attention. There the matter stood still. Colonel Baron deferred the journey to Verdun as long as possible, hoping to receive the passport; but it failed to arrive.

Some discussion took place as to the possibility of leaving Roy in Fontainebleau; but this, in the then state of France, was felt to be too great a risk. Once parted, they might be unable to come together again. And though a good deal of kindness had been shown to English prisoners by French residents, yet there was no one with whom they could be content to place Roy for an indefinite time. Not Colonel Baron only, but his wife too, by this time greatly regretted not having sent Roy home at the first, when leave had been more readily granted.

Roy rebelled angrily. He had liked to talk of himself grandly as a "prisoner of war," feeling that he was free. It was another matter to find himself really a prisoner, and he was unhappy and furious by turns.

"It's too beastly disgusting," he declared to his chief confidant. "That old wretch of a Boney. I wish I could shoot him."

"You must be more careful, Roy. Walls have ears in France."

"He hasn't any right to keep me. I've a right to go home."

"I'm afraid the First Consul cares little for any man's rights, except his own."

"Den, don't you want to go home?"

Did he not want it? The handsome bronzed face, which had of late grown thinner than its wont, looked at Roy with a concentrated stillness. "Yes; more than you can understand, perhaps. When I think of all that is going on elsewhere—"

"You'd like to be fighting under Sir John Moore, wouldn't you? And it makes one so mad to be penned up here for nothing."

Roy's words found too sharp an echo in Denham's mind to be met lightly. He said after a slight pause: "If you feel so, can't you see what it must be to me?"

Roy was conscious of something unusual in the quiet features.

"Den, I say—"

"Of course the state of things can't but be a trouble—a great trouble. But sometimes one has to be brave in captivity as well as in fighting. And Napoleon will not be allowed to go on always unchecked. I believe that in time England will make headway against him."

"And if England did do it—and you and I were to be all the while here—not able to help—"

Another distinct break.

"Won't do for us to think about that, Roy."

Roy instinctively changed the subject.

"I don't think mother is sorry that I'm going to Verdun."

"She is not sorry for our sake—any more than I am. I have been wondering what in the world I should do without my friend Roy."

"Den, am I your friend truly?" Roy clutched the young Guardsman's arm. "Would you be sorry if I went?" He read a plain answer in the other's look. "O then I don't mind,—then I'll be glad. I don't care, if you like to have me. I thought I was just a bother. I'd rather be your friend than anybody's." And in the same breath, "I say, when shall we see Mademoiselle de St. Roques?"

"What do you think of lodging in her home? The old people with whom she lives would be glad to let their upstairs floors. Yes, I think we shall do it."

One day later, the passport being still withheld, Roy started, in company with his parents and Denham, on the cold and dismal journey to Verdun. Happily Colonel Baron could afford to travel with some degree of comfort. Many of the unfortunate British détenus were in a far worse case. Having no means of their own to pay for chaise or diligence, they had to go on foot, under the charge of gendarmes, sleeping at night in common jails, with filthy and vermin-invested straw for their beds. Whereas the Colonel managed to secure a large roomy old coach or chariot, which had once belonged to some well-to-do person, probably a nobleman since decapitated. With relays of horses, even though the horses in question were sorry beasts, they made fairly quick advance.







DENHAM IVOR was a man considerably better educated and better read than the average young officer of his day, a matter for congratulation in respect of Roy's present education; and also his intellectual gifts were well above the average level.

The main force of the man lay, however, rather in the direction of character than of pure intellect. There was about him a soldierly directness and simplicity, together with a whole-heartedness which often belongs to that type of nature. Whatever might befall, he would do his duty, not only with no thought of consequences to himself, but in the most direct and thorough mode possible.

He was a good man as well as a gallant soldier. He was one who might say little, but who would at all costs do what he believed to be right. He was honourable, true, pure-minded, chivalrous towards women, tender towards little children, reverent and faithful towards his God. He was indomitable in courage when he faced a foe; but so soon as fighting ceased, he would be the first to succour a wounded enemy.

All this means largely, as has been earlier stated, that Denham Ivor had taken shape under the influence and the example of John Moore. Ivor was the pupil; Moore was the master.

The prolonged banishment from England and captivity in France could not fail to be to him a terrible trial; not only because he was cut off indefinitely from the girl whom he loved with whole-hearted devotion; but because too he was cut off, in his full vigour, from every hope of promotion and honour, and from serving under the Commander whom he loved with a devotion no less whole-hearted.

Yet he seldom spoke to any one about the greatness of the trouble. It seemed as if his spirit of soldierly obedience had taught him also the secret of submission to the Divine Will.

It is easy to see that a friendship of this kind could not fail to be good for Roy. And the friendship was not such in name only, since advantages existed on both sides. Much as Ivor could do for the lad, in the way of teaching him and keeping him out of mischief, there was another side to the question. Roy, by his light-heartedness and his spirit of unconquerable fun, could and did do much to lighten the weight of the young Guardsman's wearisome captivity.

The journey from Fontainebleau to Verdun, of one hundred and seventy miles or more, would be nothing much in these days of steam-power, but it was a considerable matter in those times of slow travelling. It seemed to weigh upon Ivor's spirits more than anything had yet weighed upon them; or Denham was less successful in hiding what he felt. Mrs. Baron was brighter than for months past. Her relief at not being forced to leave her husband, or to part yet with Roy, tended to cheerfulness; and Colonel Baron, glad to see her happy, was the same himself. Roy, as usual, was in good spirits. Ivor alone appeared to have parted with his elasticity. He did not give in to the mood of depression; but it was patent enough to Mrs. Baron, whose concerned gaze wandered often towards him.

No one except Ivor himself could know the haunting vision of Polly Keene, which floated before his eyes through all those miles of driving, driving, ever further away from where he craved to be. He might reply readily to Roy's chatter; but so soon as silence recurred, up again would come that picture of Polly, with her soft velvet eyes, her delicate colouring, her arch smile. And then he would hear the tender yielding in her voice, as she confessed that she did like Captain Ivor—well, just a little!—and that she might perhaps be willing to marry him—well, some day!

Out of this Denham would awake to the dreary flat of the surrounding country, in its wintry colouring; and the wonder would suggest itself, how many years might not creep slowly by before that could ever be. He might even grow old and grey in this miserable banishment, before he should see Polly again. Why not? In those times wars had been wont to last in one unbroken stretch for such periods as seven years, ten years, twenty years, thirty years.

Would Polly be content to wait for him?

This question took him by surprise one day, with nothing especial to call it forth. Ivor had not before so much as thought of the reverse possibility. The idea that she might not be willing to wait came freshly; but having once come it did not soon depart.

He never afterwards lost the impression of that moment. The scene around was deeply stamped upon his mind, in connection with the one thought.

They had just reached the end of a stage, and were entering a small town, where fresh horses would be waiting. Ivor was listening to Roy, responding in a half-absent fashion, and gazing down the street, when, without warning, that query burst upon him.

Would Polly indeed be willing to wait? Did she care enough? She was very young; hardly more than a child. If he were to be years away from her, the two never meeting, letters seldom passing between them, could he expect—would it even be fair and reasonable to expect—that he should remain enshrined in her heart, as surely as she would remain enshrined in his? Polly had known him intimately but a few weeks, though their acquaintance extended further back; and impressions made upon the mind and imagination at seventeen are not always lasting. Moreover, Polly was exceedingly pretty, quite unusually charming. Other men would wish to marry her. Could he expect such constancy on her part as that she should wait for her absent lover, refusing every other chance that might present itself? What would her grandmother think and say? Polly, with all her charms, was a portionless maiden.

The whole question rolled itself out before Denham's mental gaze, as they drove along the chief street of the place, exciting less attention than usual. With his bodily eyes he saw little, yet in a manner he was aware that a considerable stir prevailed, and he heard, almost without hearing, Roy's rapid questions.

"I don't at all know," he replied mechanically, as they came to a halt before the inn.

"Den—look—what a lot of people outside the maison de ville! And some of them seem so miserable. What are they after?"

"I have not the least idea. Something seems to be wrong. Easy to find out."

The mystery was soon explained. This happened to be a day appointed for drawing for the conscription; and around the door of the little town-hall opposite were gathered the near relatives of the young fellows who were eligible. There was no mistaking the dread written upon their faces.

One woman in particular drew notice. She was bent and old in appearance, though very likely not beyond middle age; she had grey hair; and she wore a short very full skirt, with a long-waisted bodice, and big brass buckles on her shoes. From under the wide-brimmed hat her face waited, with a consuming eagerness, for news, the lips working, the eyes staring.

"I wonder if she's got a son. I hope, if she has, he won't be taken," exclaimed Roy. "What are they doing inside."

"Drawing lots, to see who must go to the wars. All the young men in the neighbourhood, of a certain age, have been called together, probably; and those who are passed by surgeons as whole and healthy have to draw lots. Some will escape, and some will have to go."

"Look—they are coming out. And something is being said—what is it?"

"Hush—the names of those who are drawn."

All listened intently; and the elderly woman, clasping her worn hands, leaned forward, with a face of concentrated suspense.

"Jean Paulet," sounded clearly.

A bitter wailing cry burst from her, drowning what followed. She held out wild appealing arms. "Mon fils! Mon fils!" she gasped, and dropped senseless to the ground.

"Can nothing be done?" exclaimed Mrs. Baron in distress. "The poor creature! George, will they not let him off? Surely they need not be so cruel as to take him away!"

"I am afraid the only chance would be a substitute—and not much hope of that."

"Do ask. Find out something. Do, please."

Denham crossed the road with his rapid stride, followed closely by his inevitable shadow, Roy, while the Colonel came after in more leisurely style. The poor woman's friends were attending to her; and Ivor, always the Colonel's spokesman in a foreign language, made inquiries of a respectable man, probably a small shopkeeper, standing by. The man shrugged his shoulders as he replied. "It had to be," he said, not unkindly, but resignedly. All young men equally were subject to the conscription, and he who "fell" had to go. There was no escape, no remedy. None, except through the purchase of a substitute; and Marie Paulet, he feared, could not manage that. She was a good woman, truly estimable, and he was sorry for her, yes, sincerely sorry; but what was to be done? The First Consul required soldiers, and, in fact, he would have them! Another expressive shrug.

How much would be required for a substitute? Eh Bien—one hundred livres would doubtless suffice. Madame Paulet, foreseeing this day, had toiled hard and saved assiduously during many years; but with her utmost exertions, as he knew, for she had told him, she had managed to get together only fifty-five livres. No substitute could be obtained for only fifty-five livres. No, no, impossible! Jean would have to go, and his mother would grow used to it, like other mothers. How soon? Sans doute he would be marched away at once—immediately—to the nearest dépôt, there to be exercised. The thing had to be. There was no remedy. All France was giving up her best men, by tens of thousands, to feed the army. In parts already none but women and old men remained to till the soil.

"Was Madame Paulet a widow?" asked Denham.

"Oui, oui, oui, oui," the man said, fast as the words could come. Certainly she was a widow; but then she was not over sixty, nor was Jean her only son. Had she been over sixty, and depending for her subsistence upon an only son, then vraiment her case would have been easily pleaded. Marie Paulet was under fifty in age, though she looked more, since she had toiled hard and had known much sorrow. She had a second son too, young and somewhat lame, but able to work, though in truth more of a burden than an assistance. Jean, however, would have to go. This was a supplementary conscription for the year, more men being urgently required by the First Consul.

Jean Paulet stood with a face of sullen despair beside his mother, saying not a word. He was scarcely over nineteen, only one fortnight past the day, Ivor's informant remarked; and he looked young, being loose-limbed and shambling, though broad-shouldered.

"Ask them how much they could make up among themselves towards the purchase of a substitute. Some may be willing to help," suggested the Colonel.

Denham obeyed, and a discussion took place in raised voices. The two Englishmen waited gravely, Mrs. Baron watching from the coach, while Roy stood close by, scanning the conscript with interested gaze. Marie Paulet sat upon the cold ground, weeping bitterly.

"About fifteen livres seems to be all, sir. They are poor here. It is a marvel how the woman has managed to save so much. But I am ready to give fifteen livres."

Colonel Baron's eyebrows stirred. "Well, tell them that, if they can find a substitute for one hundred livres, you will give fifteen, and I will do the same. For my part, I doubt if a substitute can be procured, the drain on the country has been so severe of late. But it will soften matters a little to the poor woman. I rather grudge letting the money go into French pockets—but I'd defy any one with proper sensibilities to stand out against that poor creature's misery."

Denham explained what "Monsieur le Colonel Anglais" had said, failing to make clear his own share in the matter, though from no lack of power to express himself. The scene that followed was eminently French in its abandon of joy. One of the young men present who was eligible but who had not been drawn—had not tombé, as the saying was—came forward, and offered for the sum of one hundred livres to go as the substitute for Jean Paulet. This settled matters; and without hesitation Colonel Baron produced notes for the amount he had named, Denham adding his own donation with a rapid movement, which drew no attention.

Thereupon enthusiasm rose to its height. The people of the town, with whom Marie and her son were plainly favourites, shouted their approval; while Marie crept close to Colonel Baron, knelt at his feet, sobbed out her wordless rapture, and even kissed his hands, to the Colonel's discomfiture.

"I say, Den, I'm going back to the carriage. Say whatever you choose to them. It's all right, but I vow this sort of thing doesn't quite suit a Britisher. And it strikes me you haven't made 'em understand that you're doing as much as I am. Tell 'em that, and talk as much as you think necessary, and then come along."

A murmur in French from Roy to Jean Paulet gave the further explanation, which would not have been forthcoming from Denham; and he had to submit to some of the vehement demonstrations from which the Colonel had basely fled. Denham endured them with a certain reticent indifference of manner, which did not mean true indifference. A slightly quizzical smile stirred his lips, but the dark eyes bent upon poor old Mme. Paulet were infinitely kind.

Then he too made a move towards the coach; and Roy, lingering one moment more, held out a hand to Jean, who seemed half stunned with his unexpected escape.

"Bonjour, Monsieur," the boy said frankly. "I'm glad you are not going to fight against the English just yet."

Jean muttered broken words—something of a faltering hope and prayer that a day might come when he should have it in his power, perhaps—who could tell?—to do some benefit for Monsieur le Colonel, or for Monsieur le Colonel's friend.

It seemed very unlikely—most unlikely—that he and these passing English prisoners should ever meet again, still more that he should be able to do aught for them. Yet most improbable events do take place in this world of ours. Roy had not that day seen the last of Jean Paulet.

As the coach started, in the midst of grateful acclamations, Marie Paulet held up mute hands, tears streaming down her faded cheeks. Such a look was hers, that even Colonel Baron was conscious of moisture in his eyes, though by no means easily moved to outward emotion. Mrs. Baron was weeping outright, with the thought of what such a parting would be between Roy and herself. As for Denham, nobody managed to get a clear sight of his face for a quarter of a minute.

Once more they were rolling along the interminable roads, Roy wondering whether Jean Paulet would be drawn at some future time; while Denham's mind, like a spring released, went back to the one engrossing question, which for a space had been thrust into the background. Would Polly indeed wait for him? Or would she grow tired of waiting, forget his love, and become the wife of another?

That possibility held him in thrall both day and night, through the rest of this wearisome journey.







IT was growing dark when at length they drove through the gates into Verdun.

No one then said a needless word, not even Roy. The sense of banishment and of captivity pressed upon them all with a new force at the sight of this fortified town, with its massive encircling walls, its iron gates, its pervading gendarmerie. If any lack of realisation of their true position had helped them hitherto, it had small chance of surviving this hour.

At the gate they had to pause, a gendarme coming to the coach-door. He said something to Denham, which made Colonel Baron ask sharply, "Eh? What's that?"

"We are to go first to the citadel. Not necessary for Mrs. Baron and Roy. You and I might walk it, sir, and send them on."

"No, no," Mrs. Baron interposed. "I cannot go alone. We will keep together."

On reaching the citadel Mrs. Baron and Roy were desired by the Colonel to remain in the coach, while he and Denham disappeared, to be carefully examined and closely questioned, and again to give their parole, after which they came out, the Colonel saying shortly, "That business is done! Tell them where to go, Den. They seem determined to know us again."

"Were they civil?" his wife asked.

"No end of a fuss, my dear. As if the word of an English gentleman were not sufficient! Close description of us both written in the register."

Once more they drove on, Roy gazing from side to side, noting the small insignificant shops, and exclaiming at occasional peeps of the river, with an interest which never failed him. The others were silent, and saw less. Mrs. Baron's eyes were dim; the Colonel was preoccupied; and Ivor, usually the most observant of men, seemed to notice nothing.

Presently they stopped before the gateway of a large old house or small private hotel, with an untidy courtyard. An old Frenchman, in quaint dress, grey-haired, with an imposing pigtail, came to meet them, bowing profoundly to the gentlemen, and still more profoundly to Mrs. Baron.

"C'est, sans doute, Monsieur le Colonel—et Madame."

Colonel Baron's particular gift did not lie in foreign languages. He never could talk French, and he never would, no matter how many years he might live in France.

"Oui, Monsieur. Bonjour. C'est nous qui sont viendrai," he responded, feeling it incumbent on him to say something, as he descended from the old coach. "J'espère que vous ètes bien. Je suis bien aise que nous sommes haut—pas bas—pas près de le rivière. Denham, you can do it better than I. Just say what's suitable."

Denham obeyed, and the next sight which dawned upon them was the gentle face of Lucille de St. Roques. The Colonel and his wife gratefully expressed their thanks for her past kindness to their boy, as she led the way upstairs to the first floor. There stood Mme. Courant, a fat and smiling little Frenchwoman, ready to bestow unlimited welcomes upon the unfortunate foreigners.

Lucille exchanged bows with Ivor, and then she had a few words with him, scanning his face with troubled glances. The rooms had to be inspected, and they were found to be not bad as to size, though meagrely furnished. Lucille had evidently worked hard, trying to make things wear as far as possible an English look. If her efforts were less successful than she wished, nobody betrayed the fact.

"But it has been no trouble—not at all," she assured them, when they apologised.

While anxious to help, and full of sympathy for their position, she plainly feared to be guilty of intrusion, and soon she took herself off with Mme. Courant to the ground floor. A clumsy but well-intentioned maiden had been deputed to wait upon the upstairs party, probably had been hired for the purpose, since Mme. Courant, an excellent bourgeoise, did most of her own house-work.

Dinner was laid in the smaller salon, in readiness for their arrival; and on the whole that first meal might be called a success. Mme. Courant was no mean cook; and though not much could be said as to the waiting from an English point of view, that was a minor matter, compared with the comfort of clean and cosy quarters, not to speak of the kind reception.

When, however, dinner was at an end, and they had moved into the larger salon, when a long evening lay before them, and there was nothing that had to be done, beyond some amount of unpacking which no one cared to begin at once,—then a change came. Then the black shadow of their captivity descended upon them all, even upon the valiant Roy; and for once the spirit of cheerfulness vanished.

For a quarter of an hour they kept together, nobody speaking. No one was able to speak. They had nothing to say.

Presently Mrs. Baron made a move, retreating into her own bedroom; and her husband followed her. Denham had flagged completely, taking refuge in a shady corner of the big fireplace, where he could scarcely be seen; and for Den to flag meant the flagging of everybody. As for Roy, but that he would have been ashamed, he could at this stage have flung himself on the ground, and have cried like a little child for very home-sickness.

He wanted Molly,—oh, most awfully! He wanted her this evening more than he had ever wanted anybody or anything in his life. The craving that took possession of him for Molly's face, Molly's voice, Molly's companionship, the passionate desire to have dear little Molly once more by his side, was a pain never to be forgotten.

Roy did not know how to bear himself under it. He had nothing to do, nothing with which to pass the time. He stood at the window, trying desperately to be cool and stoical as the minutes lagged past. Denham never moved, never spoke a word. Roy could make out his dark outline, as motionless as a carved image, a few yards distant. If only Denham would have talked, if something would have happened, to keep going would have been easier.

Presently Denham did speak. "Come here," he said.

Roy obeyed rather unwillingly.

"Feel very bad this evening, Roy?"

The question took Roy by surprise, and Denham understood his silence. "Never mind," he said. "It's the same with all of us, you know. And there is one comfort for you, that Molly wants you at least as much as you want her. Some people would give a good deal for a like certainty."

Roy tried to explain matters away. "I didn't say—"

"No, I know. Never mind, my boy. Things will mend by and by."

Denham's chair shook as Roy leant against it. He fought his little battle, and Denham waited, racking his brain to think of some occupation for the boy.

"We shall all feel better to-morrow," came presently. "Things cannot look comfortable at first in a strange place. Roy, I wish you would unpack my valise for me—just the things I shall want to-night. It would be a help."

"May I really? Den, aren't you well?"

"Rather done. Yes, I wish you would."

Roy was delighted, and went off at full speed. Outside the door he all but rushed into Lucille's arms. She drew back, and held up something.

"A letter from England, Roy!"

"O I say, that's good. Who for? Den! I'm glad. He's just floored to-night."

"And this is medicine for Monsieur."

Roy flung open the salon door, announcing, "A letter A letter for you, Den. From England."

"From the post?" asked Denham, receiving from her hand a folded and sealed packet.

"Non, Monsieur. It arrives from M. de Bertrand. It was sent to him from England—under cover—and he waited till he should learn your address. Then he sent it to me by one travelling this way. I am glad," she softly added.

Denham bent nearer to the candle, trying with drawn brows and aching eyes to make out the handwriting. As he did so, a curious light crept into his face.

"You are very good, Mademoiselle. I am much indebted to you and to M. de Bertrand."

"Den, I do believe 'tis Polly's writing," cried Roy.

Denham glanced towards him.

"Yes. It is from Polly."







LUCILLE, turning to go, made a little sign to Roy to follow her. Ivor opened the door, moving mechanically, as if his mind were far-away; and Roy, with a show of reluctance, went in her rear.

"But, Mademoiselle, I want to know about them all at home. Molly most! And Den can tell me."

"Yes; soon. But would you not leave Monsieur to read his letter in peace? Would not that be kind?"

"Are you more sorry for Den than for the rest of us?" demanded Roy, his frank grey eyes looking Lucille in the face somewhat laughingly. The question took her by surprise; and afterwards she recurred to it, wondering at the boy's unconscious penetration. At the moment she met his glance readily enough.

"I do not know. I am sorry for you all. But Captain Ivor—yes, perhaps most. He is more changed by his imprisonment than any. Cannot you perceive? Mais non—you are a boy—you do not look."

"I do, though," protested the injured Roy. "But I can't see that Den is changed—not a scrap. What do you mean? He's the best old fellow that ever lived—just as he always was, you know."

"Old!" repeated Lucille, with a lifting of her eyebrows.

"O that's only—that means nothing. At least, it means that I like him better than anybody else—except Molly. No, he isn't old really, of course,—he was twenty-five last birthday." Roy laughed to himself.

"Something that you find amusing, Roy!"

"It's only the letter. Do you know, that's from the girl he is going to marry some day. It's from Polly."

"Oui—" Lucille had already conjectured as much. "Mademoiselle Pol-ly! C'est un peu drole, ce nom-là."

"But 'tis not Mademoiselle Po-lee. 'Tis just Polly. You do say names so drolly—so French! Den says I'm not to cure you of talking as you do, because 'tis pretty. But her name really and truly isn't Polly. She is Mary Keene—only no one ever calls her Mary."

"Mademoiselle Marie Keene,—ah, oui. And is this Mademoiselle Keene pretty—gentille?"

"I should just think she was. The prettiest girl that ever was," declared Roy. "Though I like Molly best, you know, and she's not pretty. But Polly's nice too. May I go back now? Den has had lots of time."

"I would wait—ten minutes—why not? You have not yet unpacked for Monsieur."

Roy murmured one impatient "Bother!" and then his face cleared, and he complied. Ivor did not know how much he owed to Lucille, in being thus left to the undisturbed enjoyment of his letter.

He forgot all about both Lucille and Roy, when once he had it. The very touch of that thick paper, with its red seals, did him good. As he unfolded it, the weight on his brain lessened, and sight became more clear.

There was one sheet, square-shaped, written well over. Polly's letter came first, and another from somebody else followed it. Ivor did not trouble himself as to the authorship of the second, till he had read through the first. He scarcely vouchsafed it a glance.

The early part of Polly's effusion, which bore a date many weeks old, was written in a strain of studied archness and badinage, such as in those days was greatly affected by young ladies. Towards the end a little peep into Polly's heart was permitted. She had apparently just received one of Ivor's many epistles, the greater number of which never reached their destination.

"Bath, November 7, 1803."

   "MY DEAR CAPTAIN IVOR,—So you consider that I have been too slow in writing to you, and you make complaint that I leave you too long without letters. But how know you that I have not sent at least one for every single one of yours to me? In truth, I cannot boast of any vast Correspondence on your side, my dear Sir, since the letter which is now arriv'd is but the second in—O in quite an interminable length of time. And were it not that I have an exceeding Aversion to the writing of Letters, as indeed you ought to be aware, since I am sure I have told you as much, I might feel regrets at hearing so seldom—but that it means the less toil on my part, you understand. If it were not that in your last you give a delicate hint that Silence on my part might be construed to mean something of the Nature of Indifference, why, even now, I should be greatly disposed to indulge my Dislike to driving the Quill, and wait till another day."

   "But since doubtless you will expect to hear, and since we never may know which letters have gone astray, I will so far overcome my inclinations—or my disinclinations—as to sit down and endeavour to entertain you with the best of the Bath News."

   "My letter which was writ from Sandgate you have I trust already received, and thus you know all about the scare which took place, when the French Fleet was descried by somebody of not very good sight—or so I suppose!—and when signals went wrong, and the Soldiers and Sea-Fencibles and Volunteers were all called out, and when General Moore galloped the whole distance from Dungeness Point to be in time, and when Mrs. Bryce's heart failed her. But not Polly's, Captain Ivor—of that you may be sure! For Polly is to be one day the wife of a soldier! And also Polly knew that, if she were to be taken prisoner, as Mrs. Bryce dolefully foretold, why—why—that might mean that she could hope to be sent to where Somebody is, whom sloe would not be greatly sorry to see once again."

   "Mrs. Bryce insisted on coming hither in hot haste, lest Napoleon should please to land at Sandgate, where General Moore waited to receive him; and now she is in doubt what to do next, since some think London is the safer place to be in. But General Moore does not now think that Napoleon will make any effort till spring, since any day winter storms in the Channel may begin; and Jack scorns the notion that, when he does come, he will ever advance beyond the sea-beach. 'Tis said that, if Mr. Pitt comes into power again, he will speedily start some new ideas for our Preservation; and my Grandmamma says, therefore, that we may not start any new expenses till we know to what length Taxation will allow us to run. But for which I wanted much a new frock."

   "Last week I was in Bristol for three days, with my Grandmother's old friends, Mr. and Mrs. Graham. I was invited to a Dance with them, and I went, but without the smallest idea of dancing, having been assured that beaux were scarce, and strangers seldom asked. So I determined to enjoy seeing others more fortunate, and to pass a quiet stupid evening, meditating on an absent Somebody—can you by any possibility guess Whom, my Dear Sir?"

   "But matters turned out otherwise. I had entered the room only a few minutes, when a most genteel handsome young Man advanced, and with such sort of speeches as you all make solicited the honour of my hand. To tell you the honest and plain truth, I had seen him before, and I therefore graciously assented. I left the ladies that accompanied me—Mrs. Graham and Mrs. Graham's sister—to look out for themselves; and I began thereupon to enjoy myself. Now, if you want to know his name, you must wait till I choose to tell you. He contributed to my passing a very agreeable evening; and so far I am obliged to him; for he knew many who were present, and he took good care that I should be in no lack of partners; but whether I ever see him again does not seem to be of any sort of consequence. Every one was astonished at my great good luck in dancing; for the Gentlemen were, as usual, idle. There were some sad Coxcombs present, I regret to say, who found it too much exertion even to come forward and shawl a lady when she was departing. But I forget—I am writing to one who knows not the meaning of the word 'trouble,' and who would never leave any woman, not if she were the least Bewitching of her Sex, to stand neglected, if he could put matters right. So you see, my dear Sir, what my opinion of you is."

   "Having related thus much, I really am bound to go further, and to inform you that the young man's name was Albert Peirce, that he is a nephew of the good Admiral, that he is an officer in His Majesty's Army, and that I saw him at Sandgate, the evening before our great scare about the Invasion. After all his civilities in the way of getting me Partners, he also handed me down to the vastly elegant Supper, which was provided; and by that time, there's no doubt, I needed it."

   "You may perhaps be thinking that I do very well without you, on the whole; yet I cannot say that I do not miss my absent friend. Indeed I do, and my Spirits are lower since you went away. 'Tis said too that my Roses are much diminished, and that I must e'en take to the use of Painting and Cosmetics, if I would preserve my Charms; but this, I confess, I am loath to do. So come home, my dear Denham, I entreat of you, as soon as ever you may, for in truth I am longing to see you again. Is there no Exchange of Prisoners ever to be brought about by the two Governments? The present state of things is sad and dolorous for so many. I think of sending this letter to your old address in Paris, in a cover addressed to M. de Bertrand, who so kindly took in Roy when he had the smallpox. It appears that few letters which are posted arrive safely; and 'tis at least worth while to try this mode. And now I must write no more, for my Grandmother craves a part of the sheet for a letter on her own behalf, that she may give suitable particulars about Molly, who begs me to send her Duty to her parents, and her Love to Roy. I have entreated only that the Letter may be writ to yourself, that so the whole sheet may be yours. So at present no more, from—"

   "Yours faithfully and Till Death,          POLLY KEENE."

Denham held the signature to his lips. Would he ever again be tempted to doubt sweet Polly's constancy?

The letter following, on the last page, was shorter and different in style. Mrs. Fairbank wrote:

   "MY DEAR CAPTAIN IVOR,—I am desirous to let Colonel Baron and his wife know that Molly is in good health, and behaves herself as she ought. I have therefore requested the use of one page in Polly's letter, since she assures me that she has nought to say that is of great Importance. You will doubtless kindly give my message to Colonel and Mrs. Baron."

   "I am greatly indebted to Colonel Baron for the money which has been sent to me by his Bankers regularly, in conformity with his orders given many months ago. Expenses are increasingly heavy, as Prices continue steadily to arise, in consequence of the long-continued Wars; and I shou'd find it truly difficult to manage, as things are now, but for his seasonable and generous help. I am thankful to have it in my power to do all that is needed for Molly, and the help to myself is not small. Bread and every necessary are rising."

   "Molly has a Governess who comes in every day; and I am pleased to be able to report that she makes good advance in her Study's, as much as one cou'd expect. The young Governess is of french Extraction, her father having lost his life in the french Revolution, and her Mother having fled with this daughter to England. She will therefore be able to impart to Molly the correct Pronunciation of french terms, which few Britishers manage to Acquire. Molly is growing fast; and though she will never be handsome, she is gaining a Pleasing expression of Countenance; her manners are Genteel; and she behaves with Candour and Propriety."

   "Serious fears have been Entertain'd of a french Invasion of this Country, but I trust, thro' the Mercy of God, that the danger is averted for this autumn. Mr. and Mrs. Bryce have fled to Bath for greater safety, in accordance with my Advice; and indeed I was heartily glad when Polly had left Sandgate. If the french Army shou'd land and shou'd advance to Lonⁿ, God forbid they shou'd molest the good Citizens, who I hope will be enabled to drive the french by thousands into old Thames. People seem now, however, greatly to relax their fears."

   "You will dou'tless be glad to hear that Polly is well though she has not quite her usual bloom. Indeed, I am convinc'd that she has suffered greatly from your prolonged absence, although having a high spirit she does not readily betray her feelings.—Believe me, my dear Sir,—"

   "Yours sincerely,                          C. FAIRBANK."

"Den, is it from Polly?" cried Roy, bursting into the room.

"Yes. And Molly is quite well, and sends you her love. Come, we must tell your mother that I have heard."

"I've done your unpacking. Mademoiselle kept me away. She said I must let you read your letter in peace."

"Rather hard upon you, eh?" suggested Ivor. "Come along!" and Roy, forgetting all else, sent a shout in advance to prepare his mother for what was coming.

They had to make the most of this letter. None could guess how long a time might pass before they would hear again. Every detail was eagerly dwelt upon, and on the whole Polly's report was counted satisfactory. Naturally it awoke fresh memories, fresh regrets, fresh longings; yet Denham at least was the better for his "medicine." The look of weight and strain was gone from his face next morning, and he seemed to be in much his usual spirits when he proposed a walk with Roy to explore the neighbourhood. He and the Colonel had just returned from appel, all détenus and prisoners having at stated intervals to report themselves at the maison de ville.

"Will you have to sign your names every day?" Mrs. Baron asked, on hearing what they had done.

"At present, no. Den and I and a few others are excused from doing so more often than once in five days. But the greater number have to show themselves every day—unless they can send a medical certificate, forbidding them to go out on account of illness."

"Remedy worse than disease," murmured Ivor.

"And if one stays away, without sending such a certificate, the gendarmes promptly make their appearance, expecting a fee for the trouble."

"How much?"

"Three francs,—so I am told."

"What a shame!"

"General Roussel does not seem to be a bad sort of fellow. Civil enough. But they mean to be strict."

"Good many escapes of late, sir."

"Why, Den—escapes when they've given their parole!" cried Roy.

"No; only when they have not given their parole. That makes all the difference."

"And may you go wherever you like?"

"Within stiff limits. Five miles from the town—no more without leave."

"I foresee that we shall have to pay pretty liberally for that leave," added the Colonel.







"DEN, I say—do come along," urged Roy.

"All right, if you don't mind paying a call."

Roy was ready for anything, and they went first toward the lower part of the town, on a level with the river. Roy, full as usual of talk, poured out items of information which he had gathered from Mademoiselle de St. Roques.

"She says Verdun is an awfully old place—goes back to almost the time of Charlemagne. Let's go on the ramparts. Don't they look like boulevards, with those trees? Mademoiselle says the ramparts are three miles long, all round. Where are we going, Den?"

"I want to look up a Mr. and Mrs. Curtis, a young artist and his wife. He was pointed out to me at appel. They were at Brussels on their wedding tour, when the arrest took place, and it seems to be a serious matter with them. Mr. Kinsland asked me to call."

"Are you going to help the Curtises?"

"That is as may be. I wish to find out how matters are with them. And I am taking you because, if you can keep Mrs. Curtis's attention engaged, it will give me a chance of a few words with her husband. You see, Roy, I'm treating you as my friend." Roy's glance showed full comprehension.

Mr. Curtis proved to be a gentlemanly young fellow, with a keen clever face, much overshadowed by present care. His wife, hardly more than a child in age, was kittenlike in small plump prettiness.

"O it is quite dreadful!" she said, fraternising at once with Roy. Having six brothers of her own, she was much at home with boys in general. "We were to have gone back the very next week, and everybody said there could be no need to hurry. And we were so enjoying ourselves—you know," with a blush. "Then that terrible order came, that we were to count ourselves prisoners. At least my husband was to be a prisoner, and, of course, that meant the same for me. And our dear little house, where we meant to be so happy, has been waiting for us ever since, empty. And Hugh's studio, and the picture he had in hand, which was to have been finished this autumn! He," lowering her voice, and speaking with childish unreserve, "was to have had a hundred pounds for it. Now everything is at a standstill. But you are in the same trouble too. I mustn't be selfish, and think only of ourselves."

She stole a glance across at Ivor, who was speaking in an undertone to her husband.

"It is so good of Captain Ivor to call. Mr. Kinsland, the clergyman, said he would ask him to come, but we never dreamt of seeing him so soon. We feel strange here, you know, and it is a help to see any one come in." Mrs. Curtis dropped her voice afresh. "What a pleasant-looking man he is; and so soldierly! Mr. Kinsland said he had never seen a handsomer face, and I don't think I ever did either. It is such a kind face, too. Mr. Kinsland said you were desperately fond of him."

Roy laughed. It was not his fashion to talk of being "fond" of people. "Den's just the best fellow that ever lived!" he declared—his usual formula. "And I suppose you got here before we did?"

"Only three days ago. We had to come to these rooms. Not very home-like, are they? but the landlady is nice. And nothing else would matter much, if only Hugh could get back to his work. It makes him so depressed not to be able, poor fellow. Men are very soon depressed—don't you think so?"

Roy said "No" promptly, and then remembered Denham on the preceding evening, but he did not take back the monosyllable. He exerted himself to keep her talking, and he also did his utmost not to see or hear, yet he could not help being aware of a suspicious little movement of Denham's hand, and then of a startled "No, no! How can I? From a stranger!"

"We are not strangers. We are brothers in misfortune," Denham answered, with the smile which always drew people to him. "Call it a loan if you like. For your wife's sake—" very softly—"do not refuse."

Roy did not hear all this, but he heard more than he was meant to hear. A move then was made, and Curtis replied huskily to some careless remark, as the callers took leave.

"Den, I say, I didn't mean to listen, but I couldn't quite help," came outside as a confession.

"Then your next duty is to forget. Now for the ramparts," Ivor said, dropping the subject at once. Roy knew better than to put any questions.

When first Verdun was appointed to be a depot for prisoners, the commandant was a General Roussel, of whom no English prisoner had any complaint to make. He treated them well and justly, and such hardships as they had to endure were for the most part not his fault but the fault of the French Government.

Unhappily, before many months were past General Roussel was sent elsewhere, and his successor, General Wirion, soon showed himself to be a man of a totally different stamp. Wirion was a product of the Revolution, the son of a pork-dealer in Picardy, at first an attorney's clerk with a shady reputation, then an active terrorist, approved of by the villain Robespierre. He was, in fact, a low-born and ill-bred scoundrel, avaricious and grasping, who under Napoleon had risen to be a general of gendarmerie.

Prolonged captivity, with such a creature in authority, was likely to become even worse than it had been before; and so, to their cost, the captives at Verdun speedily found.

All indulgences allowed by the first commandant were removed. Prisoners and détenus alike, no matter what their grade or position, were compelled twice a day to report themselves at appel, unless they preferred by payment to escape the unpleasant necessity. Instead of being free to walk or drive as far as five miles from the town in any direction, they now might not leave the gates without payment of six francs. Incessant douceurs were demanded on every possible pretext; and oppressions, bribery, and rank injustice became the order of the day.

Again and again numbers of the détenus, on some false excuse, or with no excuse at all, were closely imprisoned in the citadel, being set free only on the payment of heavy sums of money. This dread hung over them all as a perpetual possibility.

Far worse still was the terror of being some day suddenly despatched to the "black fortress," Bitche, where large numbers of British prisoners pined in a more grim confinement than at Verdun. The tales of Bitche dungeons, of Bitche horrors, which from time to time filtered round to those who lived in Verdun, read now like stories of mediæval days.

Roy was still at Verdun. Every effort to get a passport for him had failed.

During the autumn of 1805, not many weeks before the Battle of Trafalgar, a fresh blow fell.

Roy had felt his captivity much, boyishly gay though he was, and rarely out of spirits. But he had had Denham all through, and Denham, though commonly regarded as a grave man of dignified demeanour, had been to Roy the most delightful of companions. From the spring of 1803 to the autumn of 1805 the two had seldom been apart for a whole day. Denham had been not only Roy's elder brother, but his friend, his tutor, his playfellow.

"I don't know, for my part, what Roy would do without you," Colonel Baron sometimes said gratefully to Ivor. And Ivor would reply, "Roy is as much to me as I am to him." But though in a sense this was true, it could not be true in all senses.

September came, and with it a fresh device of the pork-dealer's son. General Wirion decided to send a large party of the Verdun détenus away to Valenciennes, a distance of about one hundred and fifty miles. No reasons were vouchsafed, and the choice made of those who should go was entirely arbitrary.

On Saturday, September 17th, the order went forth that about forty of them were to leave on the Monday, only two days later.

Early on Monday morning the first batch started, being seen off at the gates by a crowd of their English friends; and that afternoon, at appel, forty more were desired to hold themselves in readiness to start on the Wednesday following.

The second forty departed; and on Thursday another announcement was made to a third forty, that they too must prepare to depart on the Saturday.

Upon some who were concerned the blow fell a few hours earlier. Although Wirion curtly declined to inform the détenus themselves which among them would be despatched next, he did take the trouble to send lists of their names to some leading tradesmen in the town. From those quarters information might be obtained, though many of the détenus proudly refused so to seek it.

"Roy, I want a word with you," said Denham, towards the evening of Wednesday, putting his head into the salon. "Come here."

"Just in a minute. May I get—?"

"Never mind anything else. Come to my room."

Roy obeyed at once.

"Shut the door. I have something to say." Ivor motioned the boy to a second chair. "I have just seen Curtis."

The tone was unusual. Roy looked hard at Denham.

"Is something the matter?"

"Yes. Wirion!"—significantly.

"Do tell me."

"Mrs. Curtis was so anxious about this Valenciennes business, that she persuaded her husband to see one of the shop lists."

"I know. Papa said he'd have nothing to do with that way of finding out."

"No. But Curtis went, and—"

"Are they ordered of? O I'm sorry! Mrs. Curtis is so jolly—like a boy almost. I shall miss them ever so much. Are they really going? What a bother!"


"Anybody else?"


Denham's grave eyes met Roy's, with an expression which somehow sent Roy's heart down and down into his very shoes. The boy sat and stared—aghast and wordless.

"I want you to know beforehand, not to be taken by surprise. For your mother's sake you must bear it bravely."

Roy had grown pale, and his gaze spoke of dismay and incredulity.

"But you don't mean—you! Not you!"



"It is not difficult to find a cause. You see, we have held aloof from Wirion's set, and have declined his invitations. Also, I have managed to hold back one or two young fellows from those miserable gaming-tables. No doubt he prefers to have me out of the way for a while. It may be only for a few weeks. But—"

Roy walked off to the window, and stood with his back to Denham. Silence lasted fully five minutes. Denham remained where he was, looking sadly enough towards the boy. He had much to do, but Roy was his first consideration; and he knew from his own sensations what the parting would be to the other.

"Come," he said at length. "It can't be helped. And—I don't know what you feel about it, but I have an objection to letting Wirion see that he can make us unhappy."

Roy came back slowly.

"That—brute!" he burst out, choking over the word.

"Yes—I know. There's no sort of excuse for him. Roy, I want a promise from you."


"You know the sort of thing that is going on here. Promise me faithfully that, whatever happens, you will keep clear of the gaming-tables. You may be tempted, and I shall not be at hand to look after you."

Roy was silent—perhaps because of those last words. "Promise. I can depend upon your word."

"I do—promise," Roy said with difficulty.

"And you will do your best to keep up your mother's spirits? You must be the same plucky fellow with them that you have been all along with me. Don't make any difference. They will need it now more than ever."

"It's so beastly hard," muttered Roy.

"Yes," and a pause. "There's one thought that's sometimes a comfort to me. Perhaps it might be to you too. Whatever happens, one may remember still—that God is over all. Things won't go on for ever like this."

The interview was getting to be too much for both of them. Denham drew one hand across his forehead. "There!—that will do. No need to say any more. Now I must go and speak to your father."

*    *    *    *    *    *    *

Three days later the third company of forty détenus quitted Verdun for Valenciennes. Roy and Colonel Baron were at the gate, with many others, in the early morning, to see the detachment off upon their enforced pilgrimage. Denham had never held his head higher, or looked more composed, and Roy did his best to imitate his friend. But he found it hard work. This was not like any ordinary farewell. He and Denham alike knew themselves to be in the power of an unscrupulous martinet, behind whom was another equally unscrupulous and quite irresponsible despot. Neither could conjecture what might become of the other, or whether they might again meet before the close of the war; and each was sure that every possible impediment would be thrown in the way of their communicating by letter.

Roy returned with his father to M. Courant's house, a heavy sense of blank weighing upon them both. Ivor's was a personality which never failed to make itself felt, and he had the power of winning affection, without apparent effort. The difference made in their little circle by his departure was more than could beforehand have been imagined.

Not in their own little circle only. Many in Verdun knew that they had lost a valued friend that day; and even downstairs Denham was strangely missed. Somebody else, beside Roy, shed at night a few quiet tears, when nobody could see. Lucille herself was perplexed at the acute consciousness which clung to her of Captain Ivor's absence.

Somehow she had not of late thought a very great deal of that poor young De Bertrand, whose image once had filled her thoughts. Not that she forgot him, but other thoughts and other interests had taken possession of her mind.







MORE than eighteen months had dragged past since the day when Denham Ivor had been summarily despatched to Valenciennes.

Once or twice a letter from him had reached the Barons, but it was now long since the arrival of the last. Whether Denham remained yet at Valenciennes was a matter of supposition. For aught that his friends knew to the contrary, he might have been passed on to the grim fortress, Bitche, to Sédan, or elsewhere.

One day, in the spring of 1807, Roy stood upon the ramparts, gazing eagerly towards the nearest town gate. At fifteen he was much the same as he had been at thirteen; not so much taller as might have been expected, for he had grown but slowly. He looked as boyish as ever, with the same curly brown hair, honest grey eyes, and impulsive manner. Not quite so good-looking, perhaps, as in more childish days, but attractive enough. Few guessed him to be within three or four months of his sixteenth birthday. He was often taken for only fourteen.

To some extent habit does and must mean use. Four years out of a boy's life are a goodly slice of time; and Roy had now been nearly four years a captive. He might, and not seldom did, chafe and fume. Still, he had good health and unquenchable spirits; and however impatient he was by fits and starts, no one could have described him as unhappy. He had the gift of making the best of things, and a certain breezy spirit of philosophy stood him in good stead. Hard as it had been to find himself cut off from Molly for an indefinite period, harder still to lose Denham, he managed to enjoy life, finding entertainment in everything and everybody.

"I say! Hallo! There's something going on!" he said aloud.

Roy gazed hard, trying to make out the cause of that gathering throng round about the gate. Some unusual event seemed to be taking place.

Colonel Baron had gone into a neighbouring street on business, telling Roy that he would meet him again on the ramparts. But as Roy watched, the pull became too strong. Something certainly was happening. What if Colonel Baron had forgotten all about him, and had gone in that direction to discover what was being done?

Roy could endure himself no longer. He descended to the ground, set off full tilt, and speedily reached the outskirts of the crowd, running plump against the Rev. Charles Kinsland, who received the onslaught with a "Hallo, Roy!"

"I beg your pardon, sir. What's up?" demanded Roy breathlessly.

"A party of détenus back from Valenciennes, I believe," the young clergyman answered. "There was a report this morning in some quarters that we might expect them, and it seems to be true. Any friends of yours, I wonder? There they come through the gate."

Both pressed on, but Roy made the quicker advance, edging himself through the crowd with dexterity. The thought of Ivor had come up like a flash of lightning. Not that he expected to see Denham himself—the chance was too remote, the delight would be too supreme—but some news of him might be obtained. Somebody who had arrived would certainly have seen him, have talked with him. Roy might keep up his spirits and enjoy life, despite partings and deprivations; but no one who could have known how the boy's heart leaped at the very idea of hearing about Ivor, would ever have accused him of lack of feeling.

He forced his way to a good position near the gate, and scanned face after face of the returned wanderers. Many were familiar; but it was one, not many, that Roy wanted; and though he had resolutely assured himself that he did not expect, keen disappointment laid hold upon him when Ivor failed to appear.

Greetings between friends parted for eighteen months were passing warmly, and the buzz of voices was considerable. Suddenly Roy's glance fell upon a man standing somewhat apart, leaning against the wall. A little child lay asleep in his arms, and Roy's first impression was of a stranger who was awfully tired with the march. He actually gazed full at the face without recognition, so much was it altered—the features sharpened into a delicate carving in very pale bronze, like a profile on some rare old coin, and the dark eyes set in hollows. "Poor fellow! he does look done!" thought Roy, and he went nearer.

"I say, hadn't you better give me that little thing to hold?"



"I say, hadn't you better give me that little thing to hold?"



The voice, too, had a worn-out intonation, but the smile was not to be mistaken.

"DEN!—you don't mean to say it's you!"

Their hands met in a prolonged grip.

"You've come back! I am glad!"

"Yes. How are you all?"

"Den—I say—what's wrong with you?"

A man came limping up, in appearance a respectable artisan. He took the child from Ivor's arms. "Sir, no words o' mine can say what me and mine owe to you," he muttered, not noticing Roy. "But sure, sir, God'll reward you."

"I shall be at Colonel Baron's. Come and see me some day—tell me how you're getting on."

"I will, sir—and thank you kindly for everything."

Ivor remained in the same position, and a hand touched Roy. He turned to find himself facing the young artist, Hugh Curtis.

"You back too! That's good. And your wife?"

"Wife and baby coming. Didn't you know I had a little one? Well, I have. Jolly little thing too. They're in a cart with others—thanks to Captain Ivor—" in a lower tone. "Never mind about us. Get him home—" with a glance towards Denham. "I've got to find rooms for ourselves, after I've been to the citadel. Must report myself there first. And then I shall have to meet my wife."

Roy moved two or three paces away with him.

"I say, tell me—what's been the matter with him? He just looks as if—"

"Hasn't been well for some time, and he was ill a few weeks ago. He has walked the whole way here from Valenciennes. Got a horse for himself, and at the last gave it up to young Carey—a poor consumptive young fellow. Said Carey needed it most. Just like him, you know. And then, carrying that child for hours yesterday and to-day!"

"What for?"

"Child's father hurt his foot, and could barely get along. And the little thing cried with everybody except Ivor. You know his way with children. But he's about used up now. Get him home, and make him rest."

Curtis went on, and Roy touched Denham's arm.

"I'll get a fiacre to drive you up the hill. Stay where you are till I come back."

He rushed away, and happily was successful in his search. Ivor had taken his seat, when Major Woodgate walked briskly up.

"Roy—got Ivor? That's right," he said in his quick fashion. "Don't bring him to the citadel. I'll go and answer for him—and fee the gendarmes, if needful. Just met Curtis and heard what's been going on. Done the hundred and fifty miles on foot, I'm told—and ill to begin with. A piece of Quixotism! I shall come and give you a piece of my mind, Ivor, another day."

Denham laughed slightly, but made no effort to defend himself, and they drove off—Roy watching his friend with a rapt gaze.

"Den, what was it for? Why couldn't you ride?"

"I did intend. Somebody else was in more need."

"Couldn't you have had a second horse?"

"No—" with a smile. "The order took every one by surprise. Most of us were short of cash."

Roy thought of what Curtis had said. "And I suppose you gave what you had to everybody else, and kept none for yourself."

"I shared with others—of course—"

"What is the reason for your all being sent back now?"

"I don't know."

Ivor seemed incapable of starting remarks himself; and Roy, realising his condition, sank into silence, unable to take his eyes from that worn face. They reached the house, and he sprang down.

"Shall I go and tell them?"

"No need. I'll come. Can you pay the driver? I'm cleared out completely."

In the salon upstairs were Colonel and Mrs. Baron, and with them was Lucille, as often now was her custom. She had gradually become almost a member of the Baron family, and they were extremely fond of her. When Roy flung the door open, and marched triumphantly in, his arm through Ivor's, one startled "Ah-h!" broke from her, before the other two had grasped what was happening; and then her face, usually almost without colour, became crimson. Her eyes shone, the lips remaining apart.

"Denham!" the Colonel and his wife exclaimed.

Colonel Baron's grasp of Ivor's hand and his fixed gaze were like those of Roy. Mrs. Baron's delight was even more plainly expressed.

"This is joy! O this is joy!" she said. "Nothing else could be so great a happiness—except going home. Welcome, welcome!" Then she held his hand, with eyes full of tears searching his face. "But, my dear Denham, you have been ill—surely you have been ill. How thin!—how altered! What have you been doing to yourself?"

"He has walked the whole way here from Valenciennes," cried Roy, before Denham could speak. "He was to have ridden, and he gave up the horse to somebody else."

"Was that necessary?" the Colonel asked.

"I thought it so, sir. Any letters from home?"

"One from Mrs. Fairbank a few weeks since. That is all. Good accounts of Polly and Molly. Have you not heard from them?"

"Not since leaving Verdun."

"They may not have heard of your going to Valenciennes. Did you see a statement in the 'Moniteur,' not long since, as to correspondence with England? To the effect that more than a hundred thousand letters had been taken possession of by the French Government,—and bills to the value of millions of pounds sterling."

"No wonder we détenus are not flush of cash! No, I did not see it. That may have been when I was ill."

"You have been ill, then?"

"Yes,—nothing to signify. How did Mrs. Fairbank's letter reach you. Post?"

"Through M. de Marchand,—under cover to him. We have advised her repeatedly to try again that mode, since it seems the most hopeful. But doubtless our letters don't reach them."

Lucille, after exchanging a warm English handshake with Denham, had held back, waiting her opportunity to slip away. She glided now towards the door, unseen by Ivor, who was gazing thoughtfully on the ground. Roy ran to open it, and she said softly as she went out, "Do not be merciless to your friend. Give him some little repose. He is what you call 'dead-beat.'"

Roy nodded. "You always did seem to see exactly how Den was, didn't you?"

Lucille made her escape promptly, with heightening colour, and Ivor asked, "Where is the letter?"

"Roy has put it away," said Mrs. Baron. "It is partly to Roy and partly to my husband. But you need food and sleep before anything else."

"Nay, if you knew how we have travelled and slept at night, you would allow the more pressing need to be for a bath and change of clothing," Ivor said, rather drily. "Well, since you can assure me that 'tis all good news, I will wait one half-hour."

"And then I'll read it to you," suggested Roy. "It isn't so very interesting. More than half is from my grandmother to my father; and you know how she writes always of the things which nobody wishes to hear. And the rest is from Molly to me. But as for Polly, my grandmother does not say much—does she?" —with a look at Mrs. Baron— "Save only that Polly is well."







THE letter from Mrs. Fairbank to Colonel Baron, which Roy undertook to read aloud to Denham, though somewhat verbose, was not without passages of interest.

During the last four years, since the Barons had left their own country for an enforced residence abroad, much had happened in European history. Most notable among famous events had been the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, which crippled for half a century to come the Naval power of France.

For three years at least previous to that date, England had been kept on tenter-hooks of expectation, incessantly dreading a French invasion. Napoleon had talked largely of such an invasion, and had openly made preparations for it, on no mean scale. England also had made ready for it, had feared it, had laughed at it. And at the last, partly through Continental complications, causing Napoleon to withdraw most of the great military force which had long sat at Boulogne, waiting for a safe chance of crossing the Channel, but much more through the magnificent and crushing victory of Nelson, in the course of which he received his death-wound, England escaped it.

She escaped it by a narrow margin. But for Napoleon's pressing need of more soldiers elsewhere, and but for this crowning victory of Nelson's, the attempt might have been made. As everybody knows, Nelson chased the combined fleets of France and Spain across the Atlantic to the West Indies and back again. And had he, by one little slip, missed finding those fleets at the critical moment, a landing of French troops might actually have taken place.

Whether Napoleon could have done more than land his troops upon the coast is a question difficult now to answer. That he could ever have conquered Great Britain is absolutely inconceivable, despite his own boastful assurance on that point, which lasted, or appeared to last, to the end of his life.

However, these fears were at an end. Napoleon's career of conquest on land continued unchecked; but at sea the flag of Great Britain reigned supreme. Nelson's body lay in St. Paul's Cathedral; but before he died he had done his work. He had saved his country from the iron heel of Napoleon. So Mrs. Fairbank's letter contained no further descriptions of invasion scares, such as she would have had to write two or three years earlier, though it did contain certain references to the Emperor, not too cautiously worded for a letter on its road to France. Some past and futile hopes of a peace between England and France were alluded to also.

"I'll read it aloud to you—may I?" asked Roy again, when Captain Ivor had made his appearance, refreshed and smartened as to the outer man, and had been made to sit down to a hastily prepared meal, to which he failed to do justice. "And," Roy added, recalling Lucille's words, "you can get on the sofa, and have a rest."

Ivor declined to pose as an invalid, and submitted only to being installed in the Colonel's large arm-chair, while Roy plunged into Mrs. Fairbank's epistle, wading through it on the whole successfully, though not without an occasional suggestion of skipping.

"It's written, 'Bath, August 4th, 1806,'—ever so long ago," he remarked as a preliminary. "But she didn't get it all done in one day—not near. I can leave out the other dates. They don't matter."

   "'MY DEAR SIR,—Though 'tis somewhat hopeless work writing under the present aspect of affairs, I will send another letter, wishing that it may by some means reach you in safety. We still look out perpetually, with Constant Anxiety, for any sort of news of yourselves, which indeed but seldom arrives. These passing years are truly melancholy to think upon. Molly is now fifteen, and has not seen Roy for a space of three years and more. Who could have thought—'"

"O I say, can't I skip this? She does go on so. Well, I won't, if you'd rather not; but it's no good, you know."

   "'Who could have thought it, my dear Sir, when you and your wife unhappily decided to make that doleful excursion to France, intending to stay but one fortnight, which resulted in this Continued separation? Alas, how little man knows ever what lies Before him in the Future!'"

"But what's the good of her saying all that?"

   "'The late tremendous storms about Lonⁿ have caused much Alarm, but these terrors seem to be now somewhat Abating. I have been to the Pump Room and to the Circulating Library, and find people are not much elevated at the prospect of Mr. Fox concluding a Peace in the present dolorous situation, it being confidently said he cannot live a fortnight, and that he knows his situation."

      "'Mackbeth said Lady Mackbeth
        Should have died yesterday.'"

   "'I presume that you with ourselves greatly lamented the death of Mr. Pitt last spring; a sad event at so critical a period.'"

"But I don't see what she means about Macbeth, do you, Den? It's so funny. Do you know, we got the 'Times' with all about the 'obsequies' of Mr. Fox, and a picture of the hearse; and I kept it. I can show it to you by and by."

   "'A laughable jest was not long since in circulation here, that Bonaparte intended to compel the Pope to marry his Mother. There are a society of monied people in Bath, buying all the Houses they can meet with, on Speculation, which raises them and also Lodgings, which, with the taxes, are high beyond any former period, and in the end will be a disadvantage to Bath; for the Keepers of Lodging Houses, if they can't raise the price of rooms, oblige the strangers to take or at least pay for more than they want. The times do indeed afford a Melancholy Prospect. And still Bonaparte exists!'"

   "'If you have not, do read the Secret History of the Cabinet of St. Cloud. I have had quite a levée this Morning. Two ladies quite in a pet that they cannot get Genteel Lodgings for themselves and Maids under 80 or 90 pounds a year. Bath fills with company. It is rumoured that the Country Bankers are expected to have a run upon them for a little time; on what account I don't clearly understand; therefore shall endeavour to get as many of their five-pound notes changed as I can at the shops, by buying store of Candles, Sugar, etc., for they, the Bankers, will not part with any cash.'"

"Now we're going to get something more interesting."

   "'Jack is with us for a fortnight, and he and Polly went this morning to the Public Library, and heard a Group of Gentlemen's very serious opinions on the condition of Affairs at the present moment. What a succession of triumphs attends the Corsican, wicked Elf! Poor old England stands alone; but how long—?'"

   "'General Moore, who, as you doubtless are aware, is now Sir John Moore, and has been these two years past, continues to Befriend Jack, when opportunity offers. Jack is sorely disappointed at not being of the number sent on this Expedition to Sicily. He hopes he may yet be ordered thither, if more troops are wanted. I don't for my part know precisely what they may be doing there; but doubtless the Government has good reasons for all that's done. How much you in your long banishment may hear of Public News we have no means of guessing, my dear Sir, but most heartily do I wish it were over, and the Blessings of an assured Peace once more restored to Europe. Alas, while that persistent Disturber of Peace continues to flourish, what can be looked for but persistent War? 'Tis said that Mr. William Wilberforce declares that Austerlitz was the death-blow to Mr. Pitt.'"

   "'Polly desires me to send her due Remembrances to Captain Ivor, and her hopes that he continues well in health. She writ him awhile since a long letter, tho' 'tis disheartening work, none knowing if ever the letters sent do arrive. Polly is extremely well, and has her Roses in full bloom, and is in vastly good spirits, albeit she was greatly disappointed at the failure of the Peace negotiations, on which Mr. Fox built much, but without cause. 'Tis said that she grows a more elegant young woman each year; and for my part I know not if this be not the truth. Molly is fast becoming a grown-up young woman; and there is in her face—altho' she is not handsome—an expression of such fine Moral Sensibility as cannot but gratify the Beholder.'"

Roy made a slight pause when Polly's name came up, as if wondering whether Denham would say anything; but the break was not taken advantage of, and his still face said nothing. So Roy went on to the end, gabbling rather hurriedly through Molly's affectionate and prim little composition to himself, which somehow always gave him a sense of stricture in the throat.

"That's all. Nothing more."

"There may be scores of letters buried in official bureaux," suggested Mrs. Baron. "From—Polly and all of them."

Denham was looking steadily down, with an expression which to her, as to Roy, was inscrutable. No response came to the suggestion. He merely said, after a pause:

"I think that letter should be destroyed, Colonel. Unsafe to keep."

Colonel Baron made a sound of assent. Home subjects then were dropped, and Denham was plied with questions as to his manner of life at Valenciennes. He had a good deal to tell, and his account of the Commandant there contrasted favourably with their experiences of General Wirion.

The next day was by common consent granted to Roy as a whole holiday. His studies had been carried on partly under the young clergyman, Mr. Kinsland, partly under his father, during the last eighteen months; but a free day seemed only fair, in honour of Denham's return. The boy was in wild spirits, full of schemes for hunting up old friends in Denham's company. Denham did not appear at all till after breakfast, just in time to attend appel; and Roy, having been withheld from disturbing him, was off on some business of his own. When, after appel, he rushed in, it was to find Denham in the Colonel's chair, with a book open which he was not reading, and with the look of a man who would not be easily dislodged. His face told its own tale; and Roy's look became suddenly blank.

"I'm afraid there's no help for it, Roy. You must give me a day's grace. I've done a good deal of walking, you see;"—which was a mild statement of the case.

"I thought you'd be rested by this morning."

"Ought! but Morpheus declined to be courted."

"Couldn't you sleep? And you don't want to go out?"

"I don't think a team of horses could drag me a mile. But you will look up the Curtises for me."

"Yes, of course. Where are they? O you don't know. I'll find out. Is that it?"

"See where Carey is, too."

"Carey? Wasn't it he that had your horse—the horse you ought to have ridden?"

"No 'ought' in the question. Don't say a word of that sort to him. I want to know where he is putting up. And—Franklyn—"

"Roy, do not make him talk," as Denham's hand went over his eyes.

"No, ma'am, I won't. Only just to know—but 'tis all right now. I'll look everybody up, Den; and don't you mind about anything till your head is better."

Roy went off, and Lucille came softly to where Mrs. Baron stood. "So changed!" Mrs. Baron murmured.

"Oui," assented Lucille, under her breath. "There are creatures, Madame, that cannot live in captivity."

"Somebody over there is talking not very good sense," murmured Denham. Lucille stopped instantly, with a blush. The remark had been on her part involuntary, and she had not imagined that he could hear.







Roy went the round of a good many returned acquaintances that morning, finding out, as he went, from one and another where next to direct his steps.

He discovered Franklyn and Carey without difficulty, and in time learnt where the Curtises had bestowed themselves. From each and all the same tale was told him as to Denham. Captain Ivor's kindness and generosity towards those who had been in difficulties—and their number was not small—formed a general theme.

"What we should have done, but for him—!" was an expression which occurred again and again. Roy no longer wondered that he had been "cleared out" to his last sou. He did his best to encourage the grateful outpourings, asking questions at every pause.

He had twelve o'clock lunch with the Woodgates, finding himself at some distance from home, with his task not accomplished. By this time he was much excited, and rather off his balance.

The Curtises came next, last on his round. Roy hunted out the rooms in which they had taken refuge, and again heard a good deal about Denham, as well as about their own doings during the last few months.

"I say, I don't think you've got into very nice quarters," he said, surveying the walls.

"Best we can afford, old man. By and by we hope to change. I want to start painting again, and one must have a good light. Got a new idea in my mind."

"You won't take the trouble to copy that, anyhow," remarked Roy, pointing at a good-sized plaster bust of Napoleon, which stood on the mantelpiece. "I wouldn't keep the wretched thing there, if I were you."

"My dear boy, it's from no sort of devotion to the original, I assure you. But what's to be done? Our landlady is a flaring red-hot Bonapartist. Raved about him for an hour this morning to my wife,—didn't she, dear?"

"I told her politely that I should like him better if he would kindly allow us to go home," added Mrs. Curtis.

"I'm afraid it wouldn't suit her views, if we got rid of the Emperor, and put King George instead. Take care, Roy. Look out."

Roy was standing by the table, on which lay a little heap of wood-chips. Curtis always had something in hand,—either painting or moulding or carving. If no other occupation presented itself, he would content himself with whittling a piece of wood into scraps; and apparently this had been his last occupation. Roy took up a chip, aimed carefully at the bust, and flung it.

"Missed, by half an inch! I'll try again. That's right. Hit him fair and square on the nose."

Roy was in a wild mood, delighted to find some vent for his happiness, and not to be easily checked. He aimed chip after chip at that self-contained face of world-wide fame, sometimes hitting, sometimes missing. When for the third time he succeeded in touching the nose, he was hilariously delighted. "Bravo, bravo!" he cried. "Down with the old fellow! Á bas l'Empéreur!"

"Sh-h! Roy, be careful. You'll certainly get yourself into trouble."

"All right. Nobody here but ourselves. I say, I wish I could do this to the real individual. Wouldn't it be a game worth playing? Á bas the old chap. Down with Nap!"

Roy's excitement went beyond bounds. He seized a solid ball belonging to the baby, and aimed with precision.

"Á bas! Empéreur!"

Down came the bust, with a crash, into the fender, and was smashed.

Roy stood still, suddenly conscious of having done a very silly thing, and a shriek sounded in his rear. The door had just been opened, the landlady had appeared, and she was now shaking her fists, and executing a dance of rage.

"I say, Roy,—stop! Don't go on fooling like this. You'll get us all into trouble." Curtis spoke roughly, realising in a moment that matters might become serious. "Tell her you mean nothing by it."

"Mean nothing! But of course I do mean—"

"Roy! Will you hold your tongue? Stop this foolery!"

Roy obeyed; while the woman, shaking her fists, continued to pour out a torrent of abuse, in the midst of which occurred several times the ominous word, "gendarmes."

Curtis went nearer to her and spoke in his quietest tones.

"Madame is mistaken," he said. "Nothing is intended. Monsieur is but a boy, and Monsieur was but in jest."

"It is an insult to l'Empéreur! It shall be made known," screamed the other.

"I beg of you to hear me. It is no insult. This gentleman had no wish, none whatever, to break the figure. He did but aim at it in jest—as English Messieurs love to do. Not because it was a bust of the Emperor, but to have something to aim at," explained Curtis.

He might as well have addressed himself to the winds.

"A jest!—and as to the Emperor! Truly a fit subject for a jest. But the thing shall be known. M. le Général Wirion shall hear. Ah-ha and we shall see what the gendarmes will say to Monsieur's little jest! Eh-he, Monsieur,—I know a thing or two as to les Anglais, I can tell you. And my ornament that is broken—broken all in pieces—"

"Madame shall have full value for that."

Roy felt in his pockets. "I've only five francs here. But it can't be worth more."

"You won't get off with the mere market value of the thing," Curtis replied in English. "I have five, and not a sou besides in the house at this moment. Here—offer her the ten."

Roy's hand was thrust contemptuously aside.

"Non, vraiment! Dix francs! Does Monsieur think ten francs will pay for that?"—tragically pointing towards the fragments in the fender. "An image of the Emperor! Non, Monsieur! I go to the General."

"How much?" Curtis tried to make her say.

She gesticulated furiously, and declined payment. It was an insult to the Emperor. Did Monsieur imagine that money would wipe out that? Did Monsieur suppose that she cared only for her own loss?—bah!—nothing of the kind, though Madame was a widow, and could ill afford to lose anything. But this was a profound matter. Madame had a duty to perform, and incontestably she would perform it.

With which declaration the irate landlady disappeared.

"That's awkward," Curtis said seriously. "She is the first of the sort that I have come across yet. We had a nice little landlady at Valenciennes. Roy, you had better be off sharp. She may not know your name."

"And leave you to bear the blame for what I've done! I'm not so mean!"

"It's not meanness. She may cool down when she does not see you, and I must make another attempt. Of course I know that your father will pay anything in reason to get you out of the difficulty. Be off, Roy."

"But she knows my name well enough. She has seen me before, I'm sure."

"All the more reason why you shouldn't stay here. Get home as fast as you can, and tell your father at once. Don't put off. I hope it will come to nothing; but Wirion is certain not to lose his chance of putting on the screw, and squeezing money out of your people. Run off, as fast as you can. I'll tackle her again."

Roy obeyed, by this time rather serious. "I wonder what does come over a fellow sometimes to make him make a fool of himself," he cogitated.







ROY forgot everything except the affair on hand. He dashed upstairs and into the salon at a headlong pace, knocking over a chair as he entered. It fell with a crash, and Roy stopped short. Denham was on the sofa, no one else being present except Lucille, who, with her bonnet on, as if she were going out, had just taken an empty cup from his hand.

"Roy, you unkind boy," she said, turning with a look of positive anger. "How you can do it!"

"I'm sorry. I didn't remember. Isn't Den better?"

"Not remember! But you ought to remember. So without thought! It is selfishness."

For Lucille to be seriously displeased with Roy was an event new in his experience, and Roy gazed with astonished eyes.

"No matter," interposed Denham. "Had a good time, Roy?"

"I've seen lots of people. Den, I'm sorry—really. I didn't mean—"

"No, of course not. It's all right."

"Where is my father?" Roy asked in a subdued voice.

"Gone out but ten minutes since," said Lucille. "General Cunningham sent to see him on business. And Colonel Baron has to go with him somewhere, and cannot return soon. So dinner is put off till six."

"And mother?"

"Mrs. Baron had a call to pay in the same direction. Captain Ivor thought he might get an hour's sleep. Roy, be good, I entreat. Do not fidget, and knock over the chairs, and talk, talk, talk without ending."

Roy nodded, and Lucille moved towards the door, adding as she went, "I also have to see some one, but I shall be back soon."

Roy sat down in his favourite attitude, facing the back of a chair, and wondering what to do next. Would it be right to tell Denham what had happened? Would it be wrong to put off telling? Curtis had enjoined him to speak at once; but Curtis had not known the posture of affairs. The matter might be of consequence, or it might not. Roy was disquieted, but not seriously uneasy; and he hesitated to worry Denham without cause.

"Seen anybody?" asked Ivor.

"Yes, numbers."

Then a break.

"Found Curtis?"

"Yes. And Carey too. Would you like to hear all about it?"

"By and by, I think. It will keep."

Silence again, and Roy debated afresh. What if his action should mean bringing Curtis into trouble? That thought had considerable weight.

Three times he formed with his lips the preliminary "I say, Den!" and three times he refrained. The third time some slight sound escaped him, for Denham asked drowsily, "Anything you want?"

"Lucille told me not to talk. Does it matter?"

Ivor did not protest, as Roy had half hoped. He was evidently dropping off, and Roy decided that a short delay was unavoidable. He took up a volume that lay near, and, being no longer a book-hater, he became absorbed in its contents. General Wirion, chips of wood, the Imperial nose, and irate landladies faded out of his mind. The affair was no doubt a pity, but after all it meant only—so Roy supposed—a pull upon his father's purse. Boys are rather apt to look upon parental purses as unlimited in depth.

Denham was sound asleep, and Roy kept as motionless as a girl—not that girls are always quiet. An hour passed; another half-hour; and he began to grow restless. Might it be possible to slip away?

Gruff voices and heavy trampling feet in the hall below broke into the stillness, and Denham woke up. "This is lazy work," he said wearily. "Roy—here yet! What time is it?"

"Nearly five. Dinner isn't till six. Head any better?"

"Yes, rather. I'm wretched company for you to-day. Different to-morrow, I hope."

"You can't help it. You've just got to get rested, that's all. I say, what a noise they are making downstairs. Frenchmen do kick up such a rumpus about everything."

The door opened hurriedly, and Lucille came in, wearing still her bonnet, as if just returned from a walk.

"I am sorry," she said. "I do not know what it means, but I must tell. I have no choice. It surely must be a mistake—it cannot be truly—"

Lucille startled herself no less than her listeners by a sharp sob. She caught Roy's arm with both hands, holding him fast. "Roy, Roy, what is it that you have done? Ah, what have you done?" she cried.

"Is it that bosh about the image? I know. They want to be paid. Lucille, Den has been asleep, and I've been as quiet as anything, and then for you to come in like this I Den, you must keep still, and I'll speak to them. I'll settle it all."

"No, no, no!—stay, you must not go!" panted Lucille. "Stay—it is the gendarmes! And they come to arrest you—to take you away!"

The word "gendarmes" acted as an electric shock, bringing Denham to his feet.

"What is it all about? I do not understand." He touched Roy on the shoulder, with an imperative, "Tell me."

"It was only—I'd have told before, only I didn't like to bother you. It was at Curtis's. There was a bust of Boney on the mantelshelf, and I just shied bits of wood at it in fun. And I said 'Á bas Napoléon,' or something of that sort, and then I threw a ball, and the idiotic thing tumbled down and broke into pieces. And the landlady—she's a regular out-and-out virago—happened that very moment to come in, and she saw and heard. And she vowed she would tell of it. Curtis tried to explain things, and I offered to pay, but she wouldn't listen. She went on shrieking at us, and said it was an insult to the Emperor, and Wirion should know of it. She's a Bonapartist—worse luck! Curtis made me hurry off, and said I was to tell my father at once. But he was out, and you—you know—" with a glance at Lucille, who wrung her hands, while Ivor said—

"Roy, were you utterly mad?"

"I don't know. Was it very stupid? Will it matter, do you think? I'm sorry about you most. I thought they would wait till to-morrow; but I suppose they want me to pay directly. Is that it?" looking towards Lucille.

"No, no, no!" she answered, again wringing her hands. "It is to take—to take you—to the citadel!"

"To the citadel!" Roy opened his eyes. "I say, what a farce! For knocking down an image not worth fifty sous!"

"For breaking the bust of the Emperor, and for shouting 'Á bas—'" Lucille could not finish.

"You mean that they will keep him there to-night?" said Denham.

She looked at him with eyes that were almost wild with fear. "Oui, oui—the citadel to-night! And to-morrow, they say, to Bitche."

"To—Bitche!" whispered Roy. He grew white, for that word was a sound of terror in the ears of English prisoners, and his glance went in appeal to Ivor.

"Stay here, Roy. I will speak to them."

Ivor crossed the room with his resolute stride and went out, meeting the gendarmes on the stairs. Lucille clutched Roy's arm again, half in reproach, half in protection. "Ah, my poor boy I—mon pauvre garcon!—how could you? Ah, such folly! As if there were not already trouble enough! Ah, my unhappy Roy!"

"Shut up, Lucille! You needn't jaw a fellow like that! It can't mean anything, really, you know. Wirion just thinks he can screw a lot of money out of my father. And that's the worst of it," declared Roy, in an undertone. "I hate to have done such a stupid thing; and I hate the worry of it for Den, just now when he's like this. But you know they couldn't really send me to Bitche, only for smashing a paltry image. It would be ridiculous."

"Ah, Roy! even you little know—you—what it means to be under a despot such as—but one may not dare to speak."

Lucille's tears came fast. They stood listening. From the staircase rose loud rough voices, alternating with Ivor's not loud but masterful tones. That he was a prisoner, and that they had power to arrest him too, if they chose, made not a grain of difference in his bearing. It was not defiant or excited, but undoubtedly it was haughty; and Lucille, just able to see him where she stood, found herself wondering—did he wish to go to prison too with Roy? She could almost have believed it.

"Eh bien, Messieurs; since l'Empéreur sees fit to war with schoolboys, so be it," she heard him say sternly, in his polished French. "To me, as an Englishman, it appears that his Majesty might find a foe more worthy of his prowess."

"But, ah! why make them angry?" murmured Lucille.

A few more words, and Denham came back. One look at his face made questions almost needless.

"Then I am to go, Den?"

"I fear—no help for it. The men have authority. You will have to spend to-night in the citadel. But I am coming with you, and I shall insist upon seeing Wirion himself."

"But you—you cannot—you are ill," remonstrated Lucille. "Will not Colonel Baron go—not you?"

He put aside the objection as unimportant.

"Roy must take a few things with him, not more than he can carry himself. I hope it may be only for the one night. They allow us twenty minutes. That is a concession."

"I will put his things together for him," said Lucille quickly. "I can choose what he will most need."

"One moment. May I beg a kindness?"

"Anything in the world."

"If Colonel Baron does not return before we start—and he will not—would you, if possible, find him, and ask him to come at once to the citadel? Then Mrs. Baron—"

Ivor's set features yielded slightly. The thought of Roy's mother without her boy was hard to face. Lucille watched him with grieved eyes.

"I will tell her, but not everything—not yet as to Bitche, for that may be averted. I will stay with her—comfort her—do all that I am able. Is that what you would wish?"

"God bless you," he said huskily, and she hurried away.

"Den, have I got to go with those fellows really?" asked Roy, beginning to understand what he had brought upon himself. "I never thought of that. Can't you manage to get me off? Won't they let me wait till my father comes home?"

"They will consent to no delay. He will follow us soon. And, Roy, I must urge you to be careful what you say. Any word that you may let slip, without thinking, will be used against you. I hoped you had learnt that lesson."

A listener, overhearing Denham with the gendarmes, might have questioned whether he had learnt it himself; but Roy was in no condition of mind to be critical. He could not restrain some measure of dismay.

"And if you and my father can't get me off! If I am sent to Bitche—"

"If you are,—" with more of an effort than Roy could imagine, for Denham knew far better than Roy what such "sending" would mean—"then you will meet it like a man. Whatever comes, you will be brave and true through all. Keep up heart, and remember that it is only for a time. We shall do everything in our power to get you back here. And—I know you'll never let yourself be drawn into anything that you would be ashamed to tell your father."

"Or—you," with a slight catch of his breath.

"Or me either. You won't forget that you are an Englishman. For your mother's sake you must bear patiently, even if things are disagreeable. Don't make matters worse by useless anger. And—you'll think sometimes how she will be praying for you."

Denham found it not easy to say the words, and Roy's lips were unsteady.

"Yes, I will. Only, if you could get me off—I'd rather, you know."

"My dear boy—if they would take me in your stead—"

"Den, I'm awfully sorry! It isn't that I'm afraid—of course I'm not that. But it's so horrid to have to go. Just when you've come back, and it would have been so jolly—and it's such a horrid bother for you too. I do wish I had let that wretched image alone!"

Ten minutes later the two started, Roy under the gendarme escort, Ivor keeping pace with them. Lucille then hastened away on her sorrowful mission, leaving a message with old M. Courant, in case either Colonel or Mrs. Baron should return during her absence,—not the same message for Mrs. Baron as for the Colonel. A short search brought her into contact with the latter, and she poured forth a breathless tale. Heavier and heavier grew the cloud upon his face. He knew too well the uses that might be made of Roy's boyish escapade. At the sound of that dread word "Bitche," a grey shadow came.

"Captain Ivor went with Roy to the citadel. He ought not, he has been so suffering all day, but he would not let Roy go alone. And he asked, would you follow them as soon as possible? For me, I will find Mrs. Baron, and will stay with her."

The Colonel muttered words of thanks, and went off at his best speed.

Would he and Captain Ivor be able to do anything? Would they even be admitted to the presence of the autocratic Commandant? Denham might talk of insisting; but prisoners had no power to insist. If he did, he might only be thrown into prison himself. Was that what he wanted—to go with the boy? "Ah—j'espère que non!" Lucille muttered fervently. And if they were admitted, what then? Would money purchase Roy's immunity from punishment? General Wirion's known cupidity gave some ground for hope. Yet—would he neglect such an opportunity for displaying Imperialist zeal?

Lucille put these questions to herself as she flew homeward. On the way she met little Mrs. Curtis, and for one moment stopped, in response to the other's gesture.

"Is it true?" Mrs. Curtis asked, with a scared look. "They tell me Roy has been arrested. Is it so? My husband could do nothing. The landlady was off before he could speak to her again. He thought that Roy and the Colonel would be coming round directly, and so he waited in. But they did not come; and now two gendarmes are quartered in our lodgings, and Hugh may not stir without their leave. It is horrid. But—Roy?"

"I cannot wait. Roy is taken to the citadel. I have to see to his mother. Do not keep me, madam, I entreat;" and again Lucille sped homeward.

As she had hoped, yet dreaded, she found Mrs. Baron indoors before herself, alone in the salon, and uneasy at Captain Ivor's absence.

"He ought not to have gone out," Mrs. Baron said. "He will be seriously ill, if he does not let himself rest. It is Roy's doing, I suppose—so thoughtless of Roy. I must tell Denham that I will not have him spoil my boy in this way. It is not good for Roy, and Denham will suffer for it. You do not know where he is gone?"

"Oui," faltered Lucille, and Mrs. Baron looked at her.

"You have been crying. What is it?"

As gently as might be, Lucille broke the news of what had happened; and Mrs. Baron seemed stunned. Roy—her Roy—in the hands of the pitiless gendarmes! Roy imprisoned in the citadel! Lucille made no mention of Bitche; but too many prisoners had been passed on thither for the idea not to occur to Mrs. Baron.

"And it was I who brought him to France! It was I who would not let him be sent home, when he might have gone! O Roy, Roy!" she moaned. Lucille had hard work to bring any touch of comfort.

Hour after hour crept by. Once a messenger arrived, with a pencil-note from Colonel Baron to his wife—"Do not sit up if we are late. We are doing what we can. I cannot persuade Denham to go back."

Not sit up! Neither Mrs. Baron nor Lucille could dream of doing anything else. This suspense drew them together; and Lucille found herself to be one with the Barons in their trouble.

Nine o'clock, ten o'clock, and at length eleven o'clock struck. Soon after came a sound of footsteps—not of eager boyish steps. No Roy came bounding into the room. Lucille had found fault with him that afternoon for impulsiveness, but now from her very heart she would have welcomed his merry rush. Only Colonel Baron and Ivor entered.

The Colonel's face was heavily overclouded; while Denham's features were rigid as iron, and entirely without colour.

"Roy?" whispered Mrs. Baron.

Deep silence answered the unspoken question. Colonel Baron stood with folded arms, gazing at his wife. Denham moved two or three paces away, and rested one arm on the back of a tall chair, as if scarcely able to keep himself upright.

"Roy?" repeated Mrs. Baron, her voice sharpened and thinned. "You have not brought—Roy."

A single piercing cry rang out. She stopped the sound abruptly, with one quick indrawing of her breath, and waited.

Colonel Baron tried to speak, and no sound came. Denham remained motionless, not even attempting to raise his eyes.

"Oui," Lucille said restlessly. "Il est—il est—"

The Colonel managed a few short words. There was no possibility of softening what had to be said.

"To-night—the citadel. To-morrow—to Bitche!"

"To Bitche!" echoed Lucille. "Ah-h!"

To Bitche—that terrible fortress prison, the nightmare of Verdun prisoners! Their Roy to be sent to Bitche! Mrs. Baron swayed slightly, as if on the verge of fainting. Her petted Roy, her idolised darling, her boy so tenderly cared for—to be hurried away to Bitche!

It could hardly have been said which of the two Lucille was watching with the more strained attention—Mrs. Baron, stunned and wordless, or Denham Ivor, with that fixed, still face of suffering.

"And nothing—nothing—can be done?" she asked.

"We have tried—everything," the Colonel answered gloomily.







"Now, my dear Polly, I pray you make the very most this evening of your charms. Somebody will be there whom you little think to see."

Polly and Molly, both on a visit to the Bryces in London, looked up sharply.

"Yes, indeed, and you may guess; but I vow you'll not divine the truth. Two young maidens to have such good fortune. Had it come to me in my young days, 'twould have driven me out of my senses with joy. But you may conjecture, you may conjecture!"

Polly, seated upright on a straight-backed chair, looked as usual exceedingly pretty. Her eyes, softer and more than ever like brown velvet, took a far-away expression; and the delicate tinting of her cheeks grew roseate. She said demurely—

"If I might conjecture that which my desires would prompt, ma'am, I would say—Captain Ivor."

Mrs. Bryce tapped the floor impatiently with her slippered and sandalled foot.

"Tut!—Pish!—Pshaw! To be sure, that is proper enough, my dear. But now you may rest satisfied that you have uttered that which propriety demands. And since Captain Ivor is a prisoner in foreign parts—likely so to remain for many a long year to come—we'll e'en dismiss the thoughts of him, and Molly shall say whom she would most desire to meet at the dance to-night."

Molly sat upon a second straight-backed chair, busily netting. She was more altered from the child of eleven or twelve than her twin-brother in the same lapse of time. She had not grown tall, but she had gained rounder outlines. Her black eyes looked less big and less anxious, partly because the face had lost its peakiness. A healthy complexion and an expression of straightforward earnestness served in lieu of good looks. Though Molly Baron would never be a "belle," she might become a woman to whom men and women alike would turn, with a restful certainty of finding in her what they wanted. Her reply, no less prompt than Polly's, consisted of a single syllable—


"But Roy, like Captain Ivor, is a prisoner, child. Like to remain so also. Who next?"


"Nay, Jack is nobody. Jack is one of ourselves—a genteel young fellow enough, but better than Jack awaits you this evening."

"Bob!" with equal rapidity.

"Bob Monke is well enough in his way too; but you must go further afield, child. Eh, Polly—what if it be Captain Peirce?"

"Captain Peirce better than Jack or than Bob? Nay!" Molly said indignantly.

Polly's colour went up again, as it was wont to do on slight provocation, delicately and prettily. She also tossed her head, and arranged the light scarf which covered her shoulders.

"Captain Peirce is welcome, if he so choose, ma'am," she replied carelessly.

"I do not like Captain Peirce," murmured Molly.

"Nobody desired you to like Captain Peirce, my dear Molly. 'Tis vastly more to the point whether Polly likes him, since of a certainty Captain Peirce's affections are engaged in a certain direction, which may be named without difficulty. Captain Peirce is a prodigious favourite with everybody—especially, I can assure you, with all the young women of mode. And he has eyes for none of 'em except Polly."

Polly looked studiously on the floor, and Molly frowned.

"If Captain Peirce were what a man should be, he would never, sure, come after Polly as he does, knowing that Polly is promised to another, and he out of reach."

"Tut, tut, my dear Molly! Pish! Pshaw! What know you of such matters? A chit of a young female of sixteen! I'm positively shamed of you. Why, you're scarce out of the nursery, child. And here's Polly, the prettiest girl in all London, past twenty-one, and not yet married! No, nor like to be, while old Nap lives, if she wait for Captain Ivor; and depend on 't, old Nap'll not die yet for many a long year. Is Polly to delay till her prettiness goes, and she turns into an elderly maiden, whom no man of ton will deign to cast eyes upon, while Captain Ivor spends fifteen or twenty years in France, and forgets his past fancy, and marries some beauteous young Frenchwoman?"

Molly gazed at Polly's downcast face. "But Polly knows Denham better," she said.

"Knows Captain Ivor better! And how may that be," demanded the vivacious lady, "since Polly has seen him but from time to time, and that at long intervals, and I have been acquainted with him since he was left an orphan at the age of seven? Nor have I a word to speak against Captain Denham Ivor, save only that to expect Polly to wait for him twenty years, losing her bloom and growing old, would be altogether unreasonable."

"Polly is yet a good way off from growing old," persisted Molly.

"Well, well, that's as may be. But you've not divined my secret yet. Jack will be at my Lady Hawthorne's to-night; and 'tis not Jack of whom I speak. Bob Monke is like to be there, for aught I know, and 'tis not Bob. Captain Peirce will be there, and 'tis not Captain Peirce. Somebody else will be there,—and 'tis he."

Mrs. Bryce lifted a book from the table. "Who was it that read last week the 'Lay of the Last Minstrel,' and that said she would give half she was possessed of, to set eyes on the writer of that most elegant poem?"

"Mr. Walter Scott!" The rapture on Molly's face repaid Mrs. Bryce, who, whatever her faults might have been, did dearly love to give pleasure. Polly too smiled, but more quietly, having her mind greatly preoccupied.

"Mr. Walter Scott is now in London, and he will be at my Lady Hawthorne's assemblage. So now, Miss, what say you to my promise of somebody that shall be worth seeing? You may count yourself a fortunate young woman! At your early age, not only to have a personal acquaintance with so distinguished a martial hero as Sir John Moore, but also to have had a sight of Mr. Southey, and of Mr. Southey's friend, Mr. William Wordsworth,—and now to be brought face to face with Mr. Scott himself. I give you joy of such good fortune."

"And I love the 'Lay of the Last Minstrel' infinitely more than I love 'Thalada,'" remarked Molly. "Sure, ma'am, so great a poet as Mr. Scott has never yet been known."

"If the public voice be true, 'tis even so. Mr. Southey complains sorely of his ill-luck in the poor sale of his poems, and I know not that Mr. Wordsworth has much to boast of. Whereas Mr. Scott's poems go off by the myriad, and are read of all. I'm informed that Mr. Constable this year is paying him one thousand pounds in advance for a poem not yet completed—a poem about a place named 'Rokeby.' But now 'tis full time you began to prepare yourselves; and Polly must look her best."

Polly was in nowise unwilling. It was as natural to her to adorn her dainty self, as to a wren to preen and perk. Molly, being no professed beauty, made shorter work of her toilette. Her white muslin gown was of the simplest, and her short black hair was all but hidden under a turban of white silk. But every strand of Polly's abundant mane needed attention, though crowned by a fantastic hat with lofty white feathers; and her embroidered white gown, made with its waist close under the arm-pits, left throat and snowy shoulders bare. The skirt was clinging and scanty; and a large white muff completed her ballroom equipment, except that a light scarf was wound round the said shoulders, and that the dainty feet bore satin slippers.

Polly looked exquisitely pretty. Her skin was like ivory; the blush-rose tinting was just where it ought to have been; and the smile in her velvet eyes was a perfect sunbeam.

She could never enter a crowded room without becoming at once a centre for all glances. Molly, close behind, was neglected by comparison, and was content to have it so, not expecting admiration.

The one thing upon which her heart was set was the promised sight of Mr. Walter Scott. His real work in life, the writing of the Waverley Novels, had not then been even begun; but he was well known as the author of divers historical ballads, which had taken the fashionable world by storm.

Molly pictured him to herself as a quite ineffable individual, with fathomless dark eyes and Rowing locks of ebony, such as should befit an immortal poet. She sat upon her chair, quiet, neglected, yet perfectly happy at the thought of the glorious sight which was soon to dawn upon her vision. Mrs. Bryce's finger-tips roused her from a dream.

"Wake up, Molly. Are you asleep? Here he comes."

Molly looked around in eager quest. But she saw no wondrous form to correspond to the image in her mind. A lame man, rather robust in make, certainly not "elegant," with brown hair, flaxen eyebrows, a long upper lip, and a genial expression,—no, that was no embodiment of Molly's ideal. His eyes were light grey in colour, not dark and wild, as a poet's should have been. Yet the gleams of arch brightness which lighted up his face, as he talked, went a long way towards redeeming it from homeliness.

Then Molly was called up to be presented to the poet.

He said a few kind words to the young girl—she could not afterwards remember what they were. In later years she would be glad always to know that she had spoken with him; but at the moment her mind was full of its sudden disillusionment.







MR. SCOTT passed on, surrounded by a host of friends, and Molly returned to her seat. Rather a long pause had come, with no fresh partners, Mrs. Bryce having too many irons in the fire to spare much time for looking after the quiet country girl by her side. Molly cared little. She liked to watch and listen, indulging in cogitations of her own. Growing surfeited with Mrs. Bryce's gay talk, she turned her attention to Admiral Peirce, who, close at hand, was holding forth in a loud voice on the advantages of London as a place of residence.

"Why, sir," he was saying, "why, sir, there's nothing after all like old Thames. Give me the blue ocean and tossing waves. But for a landsman, why, the Thames is as good as he may look to find. And I tell you what, sir, the water of the river Thames is the finest drinking water in the world. Only has to stand and ferment a little, and then it'll keep as long as ever you want it. Yes, sir, it will indeed."

Molly, being sublimely indifferent to the qualities of London drinking water, which in those days was not a question of pressing interest, wandered elsewhere. A slight pucker came between her smooth brows as she made out Polly at a short distance, with Captain Peirce in attendance. He was bending towards Polly, saying something in a low and confidential voice. It could not be known from Polly's look whether she were pleased or displeased.

The gay scene faded from Molly's vision. She was looking down, thoughtfully, on her own half-furled fan. But she did not see the fan, or the crowds of gay women around, with their low dresses and hats or turbans, their scarves and muffs and satin shoes. Another scene had risen before her mental eyes. She seemed again to be in a day long gone by, and Roy was giving her a boisterous kiss.

"All right, Molly!" he was calling gaily. "It's only for two weeks, you know, and then we shall be back." And as Roy ran off, in high glee, she had looked up, and had seen Denham Ivor holding Polly's hands in a firm clasp, while Polly's sweet face was downward, bent and blushing. But it was not Polly who, in one moment, had left an indelible impression upon Molly's childish memory. When she thought of that day, it was always Ivor's face, always the young Guardsman's look of silent grave devotion, which, unbidden, came up.

"How can Mrs. Bryce say such things? He will never, never forget," murmured Molly, her lips moving.

"Molly, this is, sure, scarce a place for audible meditation."

Molly's face grew bright, as Jack deposited himself in an empty chair by her side.

"Were you spouting Mr. Scott's last new poem?"

"You love to plague me, Jack. Why should I be spouting aught?"

Jack gave her a quizzical look.

"Three dances with me to come, mind you, Molly."

"Two," corrected Molly. "My grandmother desired me to dance no more than two with any one man. And what has become of Bob to-night?"

"Bob was on duty, and could not arrive till late. He desired me to plead with you to keep at the least three dances for him."

"Nay, I will keep two," demurely replied Molly. "And what of Sir John?" She had a quick womanly instinct, not possessed by all women, as to what people would like to speak about, and she generally managed to hit the mark, whence her quiet popularity in the little circle of those who knew her well.

"I went to Cobham a week since, and saw his mother. She fears that Sir John is sorely tried by these Sicilian complications. The Queen of the Sicilies must be a strange personage. She detests the English, and gives all her confidence to Frenchmen. Yet our Government fights in defence of the King, her husband."

"And 'tis but a year since Sir John was on the alert to be sent to the Indies."

"Ay, for he deems India to be by far the most important Colony our nation has ever had. He thought he might well go for a while, since matters in Europe were somewhat at a standstill."

"Was Buonaparte at a standstill, Jack?"

"Nay; but since the Battle of Trafalgar, there can be no further dread of an invasion; and little was being done to check his progress on the Continent. But Mr. Fox flatly declined to let Sir John go to the Indies. He said England could not safely spare him."

"'Twas a marvellous beautiful diamond star that the officers of his regiment presented to him when he was made Knight," observed Molly. "I saw it last month, for the first time."

"And a fitter token of regard than brilliants could scarce have been chosen for one of his transcendent purity of character," declared Jack.

Molly's attention wandered slightly, and Jack scanned her with an air of brotherly criticism. He was very fond of Molly, and she of him. It seemed to him this evening that she was looking particularly nice and ladylike, or, in the phraseology of the day, "pleasing and genteel." She was not pretty. Jack did not wish her to be pretty. He liked her better as she was.

"And had Sir John gone out to India, you doubtless would have wished to go also, Jack?"

"Doubtless," Jack replied at once. "In which case you would have missed me, Molly? As much as you miss Roy?"

Molly laughed outright. "Jack!—Jack!—why, Jack! Roy is my twin. He is more to me than all the world beside. Never in my life shall I care for any other as I care for Roy."

Jack laughed in his turn derisively.

"Never, never, never!" repeated Molly. "O never! I love my father and my mother dearly, and I love Polly, and Denham is a brother to me. And I love my grandmother, And I—like you and Bob too. I like you both. But Roy—Roy—he is more than all!"

"That is vastly well, Molly. But wait till your time shall come—till somebody will be more to you than even Roy."

"Never!" reiterated Molly. "You mean that one day I shall have a preference for—for some gallant gentleman! Nay, but I shall never marry, for I could not care for any, beyond my caring for Roy. And so that matter is for ever settled."

Jack was silent, perhaps a degree vexed. He was not in love with Molly himself, and he believed that Bob Monke was in love with her. Perhaps he was jealous for Bob. Perhaps he was jealous for himself. Though he and Molly were simply friends—bon camarades, in modern parlance—he did not quite see why he should rank second to the long-absent Roy.

Then again Molly's attention wandered, and Jack's glance followed hers. Molly's brow puckered, and Jack's drew into a frown.

"She is wondrous pretty," Molly said softly.

"But Peirce—what business has Peirce? He knows, sure, as to Ivor!"

"Why, Jack, all the world knows."

"And Polly permits!"

"Does Polly permit? Can Polly help it? If she holds aloof, and seeks to check those who come after her, they do but come the more. Polly cannot be sharp with folks. She is so sweet, and 'tis not her way. And Mrs. Bryce too, ever talking—" Molly breathed this very low—"ever seeking to persuade Polly that Den will forget, and will care no more for her."

Jack muttered something to himself. "Then—'tis her wish?"

"The wish of Mrs. Bryce!" Molly's face took an arch set. "Ay, since Captain Peirce came in for of money, on the death of his grandfather. He will be a richer man than Den, by a matter of ten pounds to one."

"Phew!" muttered jack in disgust. "Ivor will have enough. If Polly casts him off, she will deserve to suffer for it all her life long. She will lose one of the best men living."







"IN this brilliant assemblage of rank and fashion, though lightened by the fire of genius and radiant with feminine charms, there is for me but one star of greatest magnitude, before which all lesser orbs fade into insignificance."

So spoke Captain Peirce in the ears of Polly Keene, and he felt that he had expressed himself with the utmost elegance. Gentlemen in those days were prone to more flowing speech than they are in these, and such speeches did not necessarily mean much. Ninety years later, the grandson or great-grandson of Captain Peirce would merely drag his moustache and mutter, "Awfully pretty girl!" But the two modes of expression, though rather unlike, probably implied and imply much the same in the end.

Captain Peirce did not pull his moustache. It was not the fashion, and he had none to pull. He bent a little nearer to Polly; and that was the moment when Jack's glance followed Molly's.

Polly did not seem to repulse him. She did not even exert herself to turn her head away. She had so much of this sort of thing. One flowery speech more or less made very little difference. Had it not been for the pressure put upon her by Mrs. Bryce, Polly would not have imagined that Captain Peirce meant anything seriously. She stood in one of her most graceful attitudes, toying with a fan; and the light from innumerable wax candles fell upon her fair round arms.

"Can you by any chance divine who that star of greatest magnitude may be, sweet Polly?"

This was audacious, and Captain Peirce fully expected a rebuff in consequence.

It did not come so soon as he expected. A thrill ran through Polly, almost amounting to a shiver. She was instantaneously carried back, as a few minutes earlier Molly had been, bridging at a leap four long slow years.

"Sweet Polly, may I speak?" Captain Ivor had said.

The voices were different. Ivor's was deep and quiet, with clear enunciation; while that of Captain Peirce was some semitones higher in key, with a rapid and rather indistinct intonation.

The other face, too, came up before Polly's mind—a face generally of still outlines, grave and handsome, with eyes which looked other men straight in the face, and level brows, not quick to frown, though when they did there was no mistake about it, and a smile as quiet as his voice. Captain Peirce was of smaller and slighter make, and his features as well as his tone underwent much more rapid changes. An impulsive man altogether; not bad-looking; and he had a certain fascination of manner too when he chose to exert it. Polly was not oblivious to the fascination while it lasted. Perhaps she liked his unequivocal admiration, and did not dislike to feel her power over him. But that flash of vivid recollection—did it arise from some subtle connection between her mind and Molly's?—brought with it a totally different look from any that Captain Peirce had seen upon her face. Perhaps he might be excused for imagining that the change of expression was due to his own words.

"Sweet Polly, you will not be one of the cruel fair who—"

This was going too far. Polly woke up from her dream. She withdrew one step, and dropped a suggestion of a curtsey.

"Your pardon, sir. My name is Miss Keene, as you are aware."

"Ah! adored one—so hard-hearted to your humble slave!"

"My word, Albert!" and the heavy hand of his uncle, the Admiral, fell with a smart slap upon the Captain's shoulder. "So, you do not fail to make hay while the sun shines! But there's such a thing as poaching in another's preserves, man. Ha, ha, Miss Polly! Well, and what news from abroad of the unfortunate prisoners, eh?"

Captain Peirce wore the look of a thunder-cloud under this interruption. He dared not openly resent it; not only because young men in those times were far more submissive to older men than now, but because, also, had he aroused the Admiral's ire, he would have drawn upon them the attention of the whole room. Admiral Peirce was known to be hasty in temper, and not slow to speak his mind. So he glowered silently, and Polly looked with a smile into the battered face of the old sailor, now on shore for a brief spell.

"Nay, sir, I have not heard for this very long while from any of them, and it is but seldom we may hope to hear. Letters go astray by hundreds. Doubtless they write, as do we—to no purpose."

"Ay, ay, trust Boney for that! He'll not help forward the post. Well, well, every lane has its turning; and Boney will come to his turning sooner or later. Nay, indeed, has he not already—at the glorious Battle of Trafalgar, of immortal memory?"

"And on land too, sir,—in time our brave soldiers will have the best of it, and will gain the reward that is due to their valour," suggested Polly.

Captain Peirce's opportunity was gone; and though Polly did not appear to avoid him, yet he found no second chance. Jack and Molly, looking on, saw this little episode, and they wondered—had the old Admiral acted accidentally or on purpose, and was Polly glad or sorry? Neither question received an answer.

In the small hours of morning, when dancing was ended, Mrs. Bryce drove home with the two girls, in the fine yellow coach, which was considered to be a suitable "equipage" for one in her position. Mr. Bryce, having a cold, had not gone with them. The girls retired to their room, and Molly would have liked to question her companion, had she dared. But Polly, with all her sweetness, could hold folks aloof if she chose; and this night she did choose. She was very pale and tired—sad too, Molly thought, now that the excitement was over. Few words passed between them before they crept into bed.

Was that a sound of smothered weeping? Molly was all but asleep when it aroused her. She listened carefully.

"Polly!" No answer. "Polly, are you awake?"

A pause, and then—"You must go to sleep, Molly."

"You are not crying, Polly?"

Polly's hand gently pressed hers, but Polly's face was turned away, and another short break took place before she replied, in a tone of strained cheerfulness—

"'Tis far too late. We may not lie and talk now. Go to sleep and dream. No,—not one little word more."

Molly had to obey. Yet she felt sure that soon again she heard the tiny smothered sound which had suggested tears. She lay long listening. Was Polly thinking of Denham Ivor? Or could it be a question of Captain Peirce?

     *    *    *    *    *    *    *

This side of life went on, and had to go on, even in such a period of stormy unrest, of perpetual warfare between nations. Men and maidens love and mate, work has to be done, hopes rise and sink, even the lesser amusements and gaieties and the small daily occupations of existence do not cease, though the whole world may be at loggerheads.

The deadly duel between Napoleon and Britain continued; and while Britain was supreme on the ocean, Napoleon was all but irresistible upon land. Of all the nations England alone withstood him; and at this date she fearlessly faced Europe in arms. For the Continent had crouched beneath the arm of the tyrant, and was tamely ranged on his side.

In the year 1807 Great Britain had not a single ally. Sweden, the last remaining, had been compelled by Russia to break away. One brother of Napoleon's was king of Holland; another was king of Westphalia; a third was king of Naples; while lesser European kingdoms and the congeries of little German states had well-nigh disappeared into the vortex, and French soldiers swaggered about the streets of Berlin.

Great Britain was neither crushed nor intimidated. She had flung off the fear of invasion; and her ships triumphantly ranged the seas. She had, indeed, as yet been less successful on land than at sea. Many a battle had been gained, many a deed of splendid valour had been done. But while one expedition after another had been despatched hither and thither, with intent to undermine and weaken the enormous power of Napoleon, most of these had failed to give any serious check to his advances. England had an Army inadequate to her needs, both in numbers and in military equipment; and the expeditions sent were invariably too small for the work they had to do.

All this while the inner life of the nation flowed on. Taxes were heavy, food was dear, much suffering existed; yet the spirit of the people neither failed nor faltered. They were cheery and full of courage, looking forward with high hope to a better state of things. In a little while, surely, justice would be meted out, and the cause of liberty would prevail.

Even in England Napoleon was not without his enthusiastic admirers. There are always some whose party feeling is stronger than their patriotism; and some others who will sentimentally put a man upon a pedestal, with regard to his intellect only, apart from questions of character. But the mass of the people was in deadly earnest. The nation as a whole was ready to fight Buonaparte to the last coin in its purse, the last drop of blood in its body.

One more tragic story had yet to be told. One more apparent failure, which contained in itself the heroic germ of coming victory, had yet to be lived through. One more great Englishman was to die, in the very moment of a success which at the time could scarcely be read otherwise than as a defeat. Then the turn of the tide would have begun.







THAT march from Verdun to Bitche! If Roy Baron should live to be a hundred years old, the bitterness of it would stand out still pre-eminent in his memory.

He had at first only three English companions, middle-aged men, masters of merchantmen, accused of trying to escape from close confinement in the dungeon of the "Tour d'Angoulême" of the Verdun citadel. There, for no apparent reason beyond caprice, they had been flung by the Commandant's orders, and thence they were now no less arbitrarily remanded to the worse dungeons of Bitche.

At the first halting-place they were joined by a second and larger company—a party of English sailors, manacled two and two, like criminals. Sailors of the Royal Navy, Roy knew at a glance; and he caught a glimpse also of three or four middies behind them. Then his attention was called off, as, to his unutterable wrath, he found himself also on the point of being put into fetters.

Roy Baron—son of a Colonel in His Majesty's Guards—to be handcuffed!

The blood rushed to his face, then receded, leaving him as white as his own shirt-front. He clenched his hands fiercely; and the merchantman Captain who had addressed him at the first came a step nearer.

"Sir, it'll be worse for you if you resist! I wouldn't, sir—I wouldn't, really!"

As if in echo Roy seemed to hear Denham's voice. "For your mother's sake—" he had said. If Roy endured patiently, he might be the sooner sent back to her.

The frank weather-beaten face of the sailor wore an anxious look. Roy said gravely, "Thank you, Captain," and submitted, though not without a sting of hot tears smarting under his eyelids at the indignity.

Then he flung himself flat on the ground, passionately hiding his face in those manacled hands, and refusing the coarse food that was offered to him. He had money in his possession, but Denham had advised him to be in no haste to betray the fact.

"Never you mind," a voice said at his side, clear and chirpy as the note of a robin. "There's nothing to be ashamed of, you know. 'Tis not our fault. The shame is for them, not us. Cheer up, comrade."

The combined childishness and manliness of the voice made an odd impression upon Roy. He pulled himself up, and found one of the middies close by—a lad, perhaps two years his junior, with a rosy face. Roy stared at him in bewilderment.

"You'd better eat while you can. None too good fare, eh?" —with the same droll assumption of manliness. "As for these—" and he lifted his little brown manacled hands—"it only shows that we're Englishmen. Ain't you proud of that? I am!" Then a pause, and a return stare. "I say! My eyes!"

"I say!" echoed Roy. "Why, you're as like as two peas to—"

"You're Roy Baron, as I'm alive!"

"And I declare it's Will Peirce!"

The two tongues went fast. As little boys they had played together, romped together, worked mischief together; but for nearly five years the two had not met.

"We weren't beaten in fair fight—don't think it," asserted Will, with his chirrupy cheerfulness. "Got caught in a trap. Damaged in a gale off Finisterre; and when 'twas as much as we could do to keep afloat, two seventy-four gun frigates bore down on us. If she'd answered to her helm, we'd have had the best of it, spite of all. But though we made a hard fight, 'twas no go. They raked us fore and aft, and we got riddled through and through. So we had to give in. I say, you set to work and eat. We've got a long way to go."

Roy followed the counsel of experienced boyhood, and was the better for food. Will's familiar face brought comfort.

On again they marched, the middies and Roy handcuffed; the sailors chained two and two. The boys kept up a brave heart, no matter how weary and footsore they became. Roy held out as resolutely as any one.

Later, when another halt was made, a third company awaited them. A company of—were they prisoners? These were French faces, sullen and downcast, with French dress. Yet they too were coupled together by connecting chains. They too were under an escort of gendarmes.

"Are they convicts?" exclaimed Roy, and a ship-master replied, "Bless you, no, sir. These are conscripts for the Emperor's grand Army. Dragged from their homes, belike, without a will-he nor a nill-he, and driven to war, like sheep to the shambles."

"Poor wretches!" remarked Will, with his experienced air. "I've seen a lot of 'em before on our way across France."

"Sure enough, sir, and so have I. Times and again. Looking as sheepish and as down in the mouth as a man can. Don't make much wonder, neither, seeing they're dragged away from their homes, with never a chance of getting off. O they'll make smart soldiers enough, I'll be bound, and good food for shot too, with a few months of drill; and be as ready as any Frenchman of them all to rave about 'le petit Caporal.' And the mothers and the sweethearts may bear the parting as best they can, and the land may go uncultivated; and what does Boney care, so long as he has his way?"

The chained and dejected conscripts followed after the prisoners, when the march was resumed.

Day after day, week after week, it lasted. A hundred leagues were not to be quickly covered by a large number of men and boys of varying powers. Many of them, used to shipboard life, were unaccustomed to long tramps. There were tender feet and aching limbs among them; and matters grew steadily worse. Some broke down altogether, and had to be conveyed in rough springless carts. Those who had no money were fed mainly on black bread and water. At night, when they halted, they were put into the common prison of the place, no matter what kind of prison it might be. Often they were confined in the criminal cells, suffering miseries from heat and lack of air. Not seldom too their only couch was filthy straw, alive with insects. Weary as Roy might be, he could not sleep amid such surroundings.

He guarded carefully the money with which he had been abundantly supplied by his father, not allowing others to know that he had more than a purse of loose coins for immediate use. Impulsive Roy would hardly have been so reticent, but for parting injunctions. Like Ivor, he was naturally generous; and since the middies were ill supplied with cash, he gladly shared the contents of his purse with them.

At length the long march came to an end. Bitche was reached—a grim and solemn fortress, sheltering already hundreds of British prisoners. The fortress was built upon a rocky height, below which lay the small town.

Upward and upward the prisoners mounted, by a sharply zigzag way, passing one drawbridge after another, each strongly guarded. Roy and the middies were first taken to the "Petite Tête," so-called, where they underwent a severe searching. Roy's hidden supply of money was detected in this operation; and though he was not deprived of it, he knew that thenceforward the gendarmes would look upon him as their lawful prey.

He and the middies were then led through gloomy passages, down into the great dungeon. This, as well as the smaller dungeon, had been originally dug out of the solid saltpetre rock, being at least thirty feet below the surface of the ground. At first meant as a safe retreat for the garrison during a bombardment, they had of late been used as receptacles for English prisoners. The smaller cavern was in theory kept for officers, the larger for private soldiers and sailors "before the mast." But this rule was often and widely departed from, as Roy discovered; for he with the middies was conducted to the large souterrain.

In a huge vault, where sunlight never entered, where the dim daylight had to be always supplemented by candles, where the atmosphere was heavy and dank, where water dripped from the roof or ran down the walls, might be found a motley crowd of about three hundred captives. English soldiers, English sailors, English middies, détenus from Verdun and elsewhere, mingled with French swindlers, pickpockets, and highwaymen—this was the society into which Roy Baron was thrust.

With the descent down and down those stone steps, his heart sank lower and lower. How long might he have to wait for his next glimpse of the outside world?

An outburst of uproarious cheering greeted the new arrivals, as the heavy door was unlocked, and they were ushered in. Three cheers were given; then each was hoisted on the shoulders of three or four men, and was paraded round the dungeon. After this rough welcome came a severe blanket-tossing, which Roy and the middies were wise enough to take in good part. Any who wished to fight were then cordially invited to do so; and, lastly, those who had money were called upon to treat others to drink.

Such ceremonies being ended, comparative quiet descended on the scene. It was past eight o'clock when first they arrived, and night was near.

Roy Baron's first night in a French dungeon!

Each prisoner was provided with a worn blanket, cast off by a French soldier. Wrapped in these, the crowd of over three hundred men and boys laid themselves down to rest. Some slumbered silently; some tossed to and fro; some talked or shouted in their sleep; some snored loudly. Roy at first had rejected his ragged blanket with scorn; but these subterranean regions were cold, and reeking with damp. Shivering, he at length drew it round him, as he lay with arms crossed, and face pressed into them. The handcuffs had been removed in the guard-room.

He was not thinking of the bruises he had received, when the rough blanket-tossers had allowed him to drop upon the stone floor. Bruises to a hardy boy are a small matter. But the desolation of the lad that awful night went beyond bounds; and desperate blank despair took possession of him.

For hours he hardly stirred. He could not sleep. He could only lie in a trance of misery. He saw no gleam of hope, no chance of escape from this terrible place. Yet, to stay on here, week after week, month after month, perhaps year after year—could he bear it? Through all previous troubles Roy had borne up bravely; but at last his spirit gave way beneath the strain.

Molly's face came up before his mind. Not Molly, a sedate maiden, but Molly the little eager child, whom he remembered. O to see her again! Roy pressed his face closer into the folded arms.

Then his mother! He hardly dared to think of her. What would she not suffer? Unknowing indeed what her boy had to endure, but fearing the worst. Would any picturings of hers approach the reality?

A craving for Denham had him next in its grasp. If Denham had but been arrested too—had but come with him! But this unworthy wish lasted not ten seconds. Upon it followed a nobler rush of gladness that Denham was not here. The worn face came up before Roy, as he had seen it last at Verdun; and below his breath he sobbed in an ecstasy of thankfulness that at least Denham would be in comparative comfort, that at least Denham had not to be in this dungeon.

"Think how your mother will be praying for you."

Was Denham speaking? Roy seemed to hear the words, not only with his mind, but with his bodily ears.

He sat up and looked round upon the slumbering throng—looked with smarting eyes into the gloom. He gazed into the blackness overhead, where a stone roof shut him pitilessly in.

Was his mother praying for him then? Would God hear her petitions?

Denham's voice, deep and quiet, seemed again to breathe around him—"Remember! God is over all!" How long ago was it that he had said those words? Was it—when he was ordered off to Valenciennes?

God over all! Ay, even here; even in this dungeon.

Roy dropped down again, face foremost; and through heaving sobs, not one of which was allowed to make itself heard, he joined his prayers to those of his mother.







EIGHT long, long months at Bitche!

No wonder Roy Baron was altered. He had grown fast in body, faster still in spirit. He had left Verdun a careless and light-hearted lad, almost a child, young in all respects for his age. Eight months at Bitche had ground every remnant of childishness out of him.

Not the whole of that time had been spent in the crowded dungeon. The gendarmes knew better, when a prisoner possessed a little money. For some weeks, by paying heavily, he had been permitted to occupy a smaller room above ground, in company with a few other prisoners of better grade. He had thankfully availed himself of the chance, and had tried in vain to get Will brought up also. When his money ran out, and no more arrived, he was remanded to the great dungeon.

He took it more quietly than at the first. By this time he was, in a manner, used to close captivity. Will and the other middies welcomed him with warmth; and he soon found that a plan for escape was brewing among them.

No wonder prisoners sought to get away. The life in those underground caverns must have been terrible.

From about eight at night till eight in the morning the three or four hundred prisoners were locked up in their dungeon. At eight in the morning they were turned out, like sheep from a pen, into the yard, a place one hundred and thirty paces in length by about thirty in breadth. There they stayed till noon, getting what air and exercise they could. At noon they were mustered in the dungeon. Two or three times a week a body of prisoners was allowed to go into the town, under supervision, to buy food, and Roy had his turn occasionally. These faint peeps of liberty made captivity harder to endure.

The very idea of escape from such an existence could not but be welcomed, though every attempt to get away meant danger to life. Many had escaped; many more were likely enough to do their best for the same end. When Will Peirce, with the consent of his friends, and under strictest vows of secrecy, confided to Roy their plan, Roy threw himself into it with fervour. Anything to be free!

He stood in the prison-yard one cold day in late autumn, leaning against the wall, with folded arms and abstracted look. A grey sky was overhead, and some drops of half-frozen rain had fallen. Hundreds of prisoners were assembled there: some walking about to keep themselves warm; some leaping or wrestling; some fighting in good earnest; others absorbed in games of chance; while many lounged listlessly, with no spirit to exert themselves. A dull inertia, as of semi-despair, characterised them.

Yet on the faces of a few, notably on that of Roy Baron, might have been detected a gleam of something like hope, carefully repressed. A blue-eyed little middy was at his side; for he and Will had drawn together, as they seldom failed to do. Will's high spirits were as helpful to Roy now, as Roy's in the past had been to Ivor.

About a dozen middies, besides one young Naval lieutenant and Roy Baron, were in the plot, all sworn to secrecy. None but active and agile young fellows could have hoped to succeed in what was proposed.

They had made a stout rope out of such materials as they were able to get together; and their intention was to descend by means of this from the high outer wall, which must first be scaled from within. One or two would have to reach the top with no help from above, and, when they were up, to lower the rope for the use of the rest. On the other side of the wall lay fresh difficulties: sentries, perils of starvation, dangers of being retaken, fears of worse treatment to follow. Those who failed to get away might expect to be despatched to the fortress of Sédan for solitary confinement. But with the hope of liberty to cheer them on, not one of the number hesitated.

"Two days more! Only two days!" Roy was saying to himself. He hardly dared to look up when anybody not in the secret drew near, so much he feared to suggest by even a cheerful glance that hope had dawned.

"I know what you're thinking, Roy," muttered Will, under cover of a noisy fight between a couple of imprisoned professional boxers.

"I'm thinking that this is an awful place."

Will drew closer, and spoke in lowered tones. "I say—don't look as if we were saying anything particular. I say, mind we keep together. And if—you know what I mean—"

Roy made a hasty gesture. "Then you tell my people. And if—the other way—then I tell yours."

"Tell 'em I've tried to do my duty," said Will, as manly a note breathing through his hushed tones as if he had measured six feet in length. "And, Roy, tell my mother I haven't forgot what she said to me. And I've got the Bible still; and I've said my prayers. I don't mind telling you, because you're not the sort to jeer."

"And, Will, if it's the other way, you'll tell my people—tell 'em—" Roy's voice faltered.

"I'll say you're as brave a chap as any officer in His Majesty's Navy. Couldn't say more, could I?"

"Only that I've tried—that too. And tell Den I've kept my promise. It's been hard work, but I have."

Somebody came near, and they dashed into careless talk.

Roy looked round that night with a strange moved gaze, when the bulk of the prisoners were asleep. One night more after this—only one!—and then away for dear old England, for the land of freedom.

He thought of Molly, and of how she would look when she saw him walk in. He thought how glad his father and mother and Den would be, if once they could know that their boy, Den's friend, was safe in England. Not that Roy meant to stay at home. A little time in what now looked to him like heaven itself, and then away to fight for his Country, to help to overthrow the great tyrant.

It was worth while making the attempt, even though in that attempt he should die. He was so sick and weary of this long captivity. He had the craving of a caged bird for light and air, for exercise and active life. At the bare notion of liberty once more, his heart danced and sang. Then he bowed his head on his knees, and he prayed passionately that—if only it might be—he should succeed, and should find his way home. Home to Molly! Home to the dear old Country! The rapture of it!

"For Christ's sake, O God, let me go! Let me get away! O do not let them take us prisoners again!" he implored.

But prayer, though heard, is not always answered in the manner wished. And often one has to wait to know the reason.







MORNING dawned, and half of another slow day passed. Ah, how slow those unoccupied hours were! Roy could do nothing but hang listlessly about. He could think of nothing but the coming nightfall, when, after dark, but before they were ordered into the souterrain for the night, he and his companions would steal softly away to that high outer wall, and would scale it. All details of the plan thus far had been carefully thought out and arranged. Beyond that, most of them were trusting largely to what is called "the chapter of accidents."

To be free again! Ah, to be free!—free under the blue sky, free to breathe heaven's breezes, free to sun himself in heaven's smile, free to stretch his limbs, free to be a light-hearted English boy once more instead of a careworn man before his time! Roy flung his arms out and clutched the prison wall, in that craving for liberty.

Midday came, and the crowd of prisoners was, as usual, ordered in. A hand touched Roy, and a rough voice ordered him to follow.

Roy faced the gendarme.

"Where?" he demanded blankly, in a moment realising what this might mean.

No answer was vouchsafed. These gendarmes were for the most part surly fellows, though even among them gleams of kindness towards the prisoners were not wholly unknown.

Roy had no choice but to obey. Resistance would have done himself no good, and might have drawn suspicion upon his comrades. The man laid a grip upon his arm, and led him—not down but up—past the ground floor, ascending to the floor above. At the end of a long passage, he stopped at a door, opened it, and thrust Roy in. The door was shut and the lock snapped.

Roy found himself alone in a small cell, with stone floor, stone ceiling, stone walls, one little iron-barred window, deeply embrasured, and a single wooden bench. Beside the bench were a jug of water, a hunch of bread, and some cheese.

Was he now condemned to solitary confinement—perhaps for weeks, perhaps for months, perhaps for years? And for what? What had he done to bring this upon himself?

But for the planned escape, so near at hand, he might have welcomed almost any change from the dungeon and its horrors. Now, however, now with freedom in sight, to be carried off, to be placed where he was, to be debarred from every hope of liberty—it was heart-breaking.

He flung himself upon the ground, hid his face on his crossed arms, and gave himself over to despair.

Would he never leave this awful place? Was this the way in which his prayers and his mother's prayers were to be answered? If so, what was the use of praying? He would give it all up. He would never pray again. It was of no use. Nothing was of any use.

Hours passed in one long agony. All that day he was left alone. At nightfall a gendarme brought his allowance of coarse food, and went away. Roy drank the water, and pushed the black bread aside, too sick with misery to eat. The boys would now be escaping. He followed in imagination every step of theirs, envying them bitterly. That they should be on their way to dear old England, and that he should be held back! It was too terrible too awful! too cruel!

He had no sleep that night. He could not see the pitying angels who hovered over him in the darkness. He could not know what was going on in another part of the fortress. He could not guess how some of his comrades won their freedom.

All the next morning he lay upon the ground, listless, hopeless, careless of what might happen next.

At midday he was ordered to go down into the yard. That was the hour when the inhabitants of the great dungeon retired into their cavern, and when the better class of prisoners might take their turn of fresh air—if any air could be fresh which had just been breathed by hundreds of men. Roy wondered languidly at being treated thus. He had expected to remain in his cell. It mattered little either way, he said to himself, as he found his way thither. All hope for the present was at an end.

On reaching the yard, his first impression was of an unusual gravity among even the gravest of the prisoners there before him. One or two half spoke to Roy, and stopped, thinking from his look that he already knew,—that he would not be taken by surprise. And so he was allowed to pass on, unhindered. He saw the expression in their faces, and he wondered a little, indifferently.

Then indifference fled, and a dazed bewilderment took possession of him. His brain swam, and he staggered to the wall, clutching it for support, staring and shuddering.

His eyes had fallen on something unexpected—on—what was it? What could it mean?

A row of boys lying on the ground, peacefully asleep. Ah, so peacefully! so awfully white and still, in their brave blue uniforms, some of them spattered with mud. But they did not seem to mind. A smile was on one quiet face; a second wore a look of high repose; one or two carried a defiant frown, as if at the last moment they had known what was come to them; and another was a little grieved, but not much. And all were free. They had won their liberty, though not the liberty for which they had craved and striven, but doubtless a better freedom. Only, the poor mothers of those lads, away at home, what would it have been to them to see their boys lying here?

Roy dragged himself nearer, his heart beating in heavy strokes, while his head seemed to be bursting open. Yes, these were the boys with whom he was to have made his escape—some of them at least. And here was little Will Peirce, with blue eyes fast shut, lying in the placidest sleep, smiling to himself, in a calm waxen whiteness. He had tried to do his duty to the last. Brave little Will!

Roy caught his breath in one hard moan of bitter pain.

"Come away," a voice said, and somebody drew him, unresisting, to the further side of the yard. Roy vaguely knew that it was an elderly English officer, one of the quietest and most retiring of the upstairs prisoners, seldom heard to speak. He made Roy sit down, and as the boy hid his face, a compassionate hand was on his wrist.

"I know, You were in the dungeon with them, I believe. Don't look any more. No good. It's over for them."

A sound asked the question which Roy could not put into words.

"It was last night. They tried to escape over the wall. It seems to have been planned for some time. But they were overheard and betrayed by a fellow-prisoner. The scoundrel! They got away safely to the top of the wall, and let down the rope. Their plan had been to descend one by one, I believe; but they found that too slow, and time was short. So when they had fastened the rope, they got upon it all together. A French officer was on the watch, and he seized the moment to cut it above. The miscreant! The hound! He'll get his deserts some day! They all fell. Several were killed instantly,—as we see. Some, with broken limbs, are in hospital. This is not the first time that an escape has ended thus. The bodies are always exposed next day."

Roy shuddered.

"You may be thankful that you were not among them."

Another shudder.

The grey-haired Colonel bent gravely towards him.

"If any friend of yours is there, do not grieve too much, my boy. Some of us might well be disposed to envy them. They are in God's Hands now, and that is well. God is kinder far than man."

He might indeed say so, looking across the yard. Roy lifted his face, as if in bitter protest. Was man kind, if man could do such deeds as these? And then he thought of Ivor, of his father, of Sir John Moore.

There may be very demons in human form upon earth; yet man was made in the Image of God; and all the kindliness that is seen in the best of men is a glimmer of that Image.







How the next fortnight passed, Roy never afterwards knew. He was sick and dazed with the shock he had had, grieving for little Will, and all but hopeless. He had ceased to care for food; and though he dozed a great deal, it was not restful sleep. Life seemed terribly hard to get through. He often envied Will.

The Colonel who had spoken to him that day spoke again often, when they met in the yard; and Roy was grateful. But he could not rouse himself. He had lost all interest in what went on around him. He hated the yard, and always kept as far as possible from where the exposure of the murdered boys had taken place.

His one longing was to know how the other poor lads in the hospital were, but accounts were unreliable.

About a fortnight later, one cold afternoon, he was leaning against the wall at the further end, hardly thinking, only drearily enduring. He noticed a man coming towards him carrying a large basket or hotte, piled up with loose wood; not a gendarme, but evidently one employed about the fortress on manual work. He was broad-shouldered and long-limbed, and he walked in a slouching manner. At the moment that he came close to Roy, the basket tilted over, raining the whole mass of wood upon the ground.

"Hallo!" exclaimed Roy.

The man muttered something, and went slowly down upon his knees to pick up the scattered wood. No one else was near. A body of prisoners had been that morning removed elsewhere, and the yard was not so full as usual. Roy good-naturedly bent to help the man, and their faces came together.

"Hist!" was whispered cautiously. Roy started. "Hist!" again. "Does monsieur know me? But not a word!"

Roy drew one quick breath. Then he tossed more bits of wood into the hotte. He cast another glance at the man, his whole being on the alert. In an instant he saw again the small French town, the crowd in front of the hôtel de ville, the released conscript, the old mother clinging to Denham's hands, and Den's pitying face.

"Jean Paulet!" he breathed.

"Oui, m'sieu. Hist!"

Jean piled some of the wood together with unnecessary noise.

"Will m'sieu not betray that he knows me?"

"Oui." Roy threw two more pieces of wood into the hotte. Then he stood up, yawned, and gazed listlessly in another direction. After which he hung lazily over the hotte, as if to play with the wood. A touch of cold steel came against his left hand.

"Hist!" at the same instant, as Roy grasped the something, and slipped it instantly out of sight. His right hand still turned over the wood.

"Bon!" murmured Jean, making a clatter. "Listen! If m'sieu will file away the bar of his window—ready to be removed—I will be there, outside, to-morrow night, after dark. When m'sieu hears a whistle—hist! But truly this weight is considerable—oui, m'sieu, and a poor man like me may not complain."

Jean hitched up the big hotte, now full, and passed on, grumbling audibly, while Roy strolled back to his former position. His heart was beating like a hammer, and to return to his former attitude of dejection was not easy, with new life stirring in every vein. He managed, however, to avoid observation, and when two o'clock came it was a relief to be alone in his cell. He could safely there fling his arms aloft in a frenzy of delight.

If only little Will might have escaped with him!

But there was no leisure for regrets. He had a task to accomplish in a given time. Often he had examined the massive iron bar, wedged firmly in across the small window. If that could be removed, he might squeeze himself through; but to take out the bar, or at least to wrench it on one side, meant first to file nearly through it—quite through, indeed, for the noise of breaking it might not be risked. He could only guess what would lie on the other side, down below. The deep embrasure within, and the thickness of the wall without, prevented him from seeing.

At stated intervals the gendarmes visited him, and he could reckon upon their visits; yet he knew well that he was never secure against a sudden interruption. He had to toil in a difficult and cramped position, supporting himself in a corner of the slanting embrasure, and filing very lightly, that no sound might reach the ears of any passer-by.



He had to work at the bar in a difficult and cramped position.


One narrow escape of detection he had. Absorbed in his toil, he failed to note the preliminary click of the lock, and the door began to open. Roy flung himself to the ground, reckless of bruises, and the noise of his fall was happily lost in the creak of the door. The gendarme, entering, found a sleepy prisoner. Roy wondered that the thumping of his heart did not betray him.

Thoughtful Jean had provided him with three files. Two of them broke. The third held out to the end.

Through a good part of the night he worked, fearing lest the task should not be done in time. In the morning, after the usual visit from a gendarme, he was up again in the embrasure. Before midday he had worked his way through the heavy bar. He stirred it cautiously. Yes, it yielded. One good wrench, and it could be forced aside.

That was all he had now to do. The bar would remain in position till the latest moment. He cleared away every speck of iron filing; and then he had to go into the yard. What if the gendarmes should examine the window during his absence? What if, before Jean came, Roy himself should be removed elsewhere? Then came another question,—What if his mother's prayers were being answered?

At last the afternoon had waned, without any mischance, and the gendarme's evening call had been paid. The window had not been examined; and Roy was left for the night, with his allowance of food. He wisely disposed of it, knowing that he would need all his strength. Then he waited, minute after minute, in a suspense hardly to be described.

A slight faint whistle, close to the window.

In a moment Roy was up in the slanting embrasure. Jean's hand met his; and together, noiselessly, they wrenched the bar aside.

"Hist! Be still as death!" whispered Jean.

Roy worked himself through the opening, Jean's grasp steadying him. He found his feet to be resting on the topmost rung of a ladder. Jean whispered one or two directions; then he went down himself, and held it firm while Roy followed. Little need was there to bid the boy be quiet in his movements. The slightest sound might betray them.

No sooner had they reached the bottom than Jean's hand gripped Roy's wrist, and led him away. The ladder had to remain where it was. Its removal would have meant too great a risk. Roy could not see where they were. Pitch darkness surrounded them; but Jean moved with confidence, though with extreme care.

Soon they had to pass near a sentry, and a sharp challenge was heard. Roy's heart leaped into his mouth; and Jean promptly replied with the password for the night. Veiled by the darkness, they went by in safety.

At length the outer wall was gained—that same wall which the middies had reached in their attempted escape, though at a different part of it. Jean had chosen this mode of escape, not daring to take Roy under the eyes of sentries at the gates, where, despite his command of the password, the prisoner would almost certainly have been found out.

In a quiet corner, where nobody seemed to be near, Jean drew down the end of a stout rope, already secured at the top of the wall, and knotted loosely out of easy reach. This had been his doing after dark, before he went to Roy's cell. With the help of the rope they made their way to the top, Roy first, Jean next, pulling it after them, and lowering it on the other side. Then together they trusted their weight to it.

As they hung over the depth, Roy recalled the cold-blooded act of two or three weeks earlier. If any man had obtained an inkling of Jean's intentions, or had discovered the rope, the same tragedy might now be repeated on a smaller scale. One clear cut would do the business. He and Jean would fall heavily downward; and in an instant he too, like Will, might be in that Land where dungeons and cruel separations are things of the past.

These thoughts came to Roy unbidden, even while his whole attention was bent to the task of working himself hand under hand, swiftly and noiselessly, down the rope. Already his hands were torn and strained, yet under the excitement of the moment he felt no pain.

The rope remained taut. There was no sudden yielding from above, no helpless plunge earthward. He and Jean arrived in safety on firm ground.

Again Jean gripped his wrist. "Now, m'sieu—hist!" was whispered. As fast as might be, yet with extreme caution, they hurried away from that grim surrounding wall.

Roy could not see where they were in the darkness. He could only trust himself blindly to Jean's guidance, and Jean seemed to know well what he was doing.

During the first half-hour or so, excessive caution was needful; and more than once Jean had to make use of the password, which he had somehow learned. Once well away from Bitche, discovery became a less imminent danger. The chief aim then was to put as wide a space as possible between themselves and the fortress before morning. That was as much as Roy had in mind. Jean's object was more definite. But for a while he attempted no explanations. All breath was required for getting along.

So soon as Roy's disappearance should become known, the gendarmes would be off in hot pursuit. At present they had a clear field, favoured by darkness and by the fact of a world mainly asleep.

Roy's powers were severely taxed, as the hours of that night went by. Excitement kept him going; but he had slept and eaten little during the past thirty hours, and after eight months without proper exercise he was direfully out of training. His muscles had grown flabby, and he so soon began to pant, as to become angry with himself. Still, he fought doggedly onward, making no complaint.

At first they followed bypaths or kept to fields, for greater safety; but by and by Jean struck into the highroad, and here advance was easier.

As hour passed after hour, and they made uninterrupted progress, Roy grew light of heart. Breathlessness, aching limbs, sharp cold, gnawing hunger—all these were as nothing, compared with the fact that he was free. No stone walls, no iron-bound and padlocked doors, shut him ruthlessly in.

From time to time a short halt was necessary, and Roy was allowed to fling himself flat on the icy ground for some minutes; after which he could always start afresh with redoubled energy.

"Wonder what happened to take you to Bitche, Jean?" he said after one such break.

"M'sieu, I had a friend at Bitche."

"Somebody in the fortress?"

"Oui, m'sieu. Un soldat. M'sieu will perhaps refrain from putting many questions. It is a friend from my boyhood. He was taken in the conscription, and no kind messieurs were at hand to help to buy him off. And his poor mother became imbecile. La pauvre femme! See what might have come to my mother also, but for the goodness of ces messieurs."

"She became imbecile because he had to go to the war?"

"Oui, m'sieu. What wonder? For see—it was not a common parting. Hundreds, thousands, go thus in the armies of the Emperor, and never return. They vanish from their homes, and no more is heard of them. Here or there, far-away, they have died and have been buried—hélas!—and that is the end."

"A soldier's end!" the boy said proudly.

"Oui, m'sieu, sans doute. But not all men have a taste for soldiering. I myself, for one—"

"You didn't want to fight?"

"I had no wish to leave my home, m'sieu. Of late, it is true, I have had thoughts of entering the army, after all. Le petit Caporal is no such bad leader for a man to follow, when he has not ties to bind him down."

"But your mother—what would she say?"

"M'sieu, I should not be leaving my mother. It is she who has left me. Le bon Dieu has called her away to another place."

Roy gave a glance of sympathy, which he could not well put into words.

"But to the last she had her Jean. She did not die alone, forsaken and desolate. For that I shall be eternally grateful to ces messieurs—that her last days were in peace."

"I remember now, Jean, you said you would like some day to do something for my father and for Captain Ivor. And this is for them. If they could thank you—"

"M'sieu, if I could thank them—!" interjected Jean. Then again they pressed on in silence. Morning had begun to break, and they plodded forward still. Roy had pleaded for another halt, for the boy was almost at the end of his powers, but Jean refused.

"Courage, m'sieu, courage. But a little further, and we will rest. To stop here, if the gendarmes come, would be fatal. See, the day dawns, and soon they will scour the country round. Courage! A little further yet."

"All right," panted Roy, dragging along his leaden-weighted limbs. "Shall we hide all day?"

"Mais, oui. A little cottage in a wood belongs to a friend of mine, and he has made ready for us. Once there, all will be well. The danger now increases each minute. Can m'sieu increase his speed? M'sieu will soon be able to rest. At nightfall we shall start again, refreshed."

"Will you come with me still? Jean, you are a good fellow!" gasped Roy.

"If I can see m'sieu safe off French ground, then I will let ces messieurs at Verdun know, and it will gladden their hearts."

A few minutes later they entered a wood, and Jean's look of anxiety lessened as the trees closed around them. He consented to a slight relaxation of their speed, though reiterating his "Courage, m'sieu! The worst is done."







"BUT what made you think of coming to Bitche at all?" asked Roy presently, as he struggled on.

"M'sieu will not ask too many questions? No one at Bitche knew that I had a friend there."

"You don't think I'd betray you, Jean—even if we were retaken? And I hope I'm not going to be."

"The good God grant it, m'sieu."

"How did you know that I was there? Who told you?"

"M'sieu, it was a young lady, not English, who lives under the same roof with m'sieu's friends."

"Mademoiselle de St. Roques?"

"M'sieu has the name—precisely. It was at St. Mihiel."

"I know. We drove there once to see the place."

"Naturellement. St. Mihiel is but seven leagues from Verdun. Mademoiselle de St. Roques had some affair in the place, and she was there for a few days. We chanced to meet—it matters not how,—and when I learned that she was from Verdun, I asked her had she seen M. le Colonel and the tall M. le Capitaine, and the young gentleman with them. Then I found that she knew them all well. And she told me of m'sieu being at Bitche, and the great trouble that it was to those others."

"Did she say—were they all well, Jean?"

Jean answered this question reservedly. M. le Capitaine had been ill, but Mademoiselle had said that it would doubtless make him well, could he but hear good news of the young gentleman at Bitche. Then Jean had offered to go himself to Bitche, and to find out what he might. And the good demoiselle had emptied her pocket of all the money that she had, to enable Jean to go the more quickly.

"And I thought, m'sieu, if I could but compass m'sieu's escape from that terrible Bitche, and might take word that he had gone to England, then Monsieur le Capitaine would have a light heart, and would grow strong once more."

"Jean, you're the best fellow that ever was! Won't they be glad!" panted Roy.

And at length their destination was reached.

On the edge of a little clearing, in the centre of the wood, stood a small charcoal-burner's cottage, built of stone. Near behind it might be seen a good-sized outhouse or woodhouse; and on one side was the pile of slowly burning charcoal. Round and about were heaps of unsightly rubbish and of blackened moss.

Nobody seemed to be at hand. Jean opened the door, and when they were within he bolted it. Roy flung himself upon a small bench, glad to get his breath; while Jean went to a corner, struck a light with flint and steel, and made a dip to burn. The one window was closely shuttered.

"Are we to stop here?" asked Roy. "But if the gendarmes come?"

"We must circumvent them, m'sieu."

Jean produced a blouse, such as would be worn by a French labouring lad, with shirt and trousers to match. "M'sieu must change his clothes."

"All right," assented Roy. He stood up, though the cottage was swimming and his ears were buzzing with fatigue, and promptly divested himself of what he wore, to assume a different guise. Jean then brought a small bottle of dark liquid, which he mixed with water, and dyed Roy's hair and eyebrows, thereby altering his look to such an extent that his own mother might have passed him by. Roy laughed so much under this operation as to discompose the operator.

"Tenez, m'sieu! Taisez-vous donc, s'il vous plait! I assure monsieur it is no matter for laughter."

"If you knew what it was to be free again, you'd laugh too," declared Roy. His merriment passed into a yawn. "But I'm awfully sleepy."

"Monsieur is hungry too."

Monsieur undoubtedly was, though the craving to lie down was the stronger sensation. Jean handed him a hunch of bread and cheese and a glass of milk; and while Roy was busy with the same, he proceeded to array himself in holiday costume. He donned an old and shabby but once gorgeous coat, with stand-up collar and gay buttons, which, as he informed Roy, had many long years before been the best holiday coat of his esteemed grandfather.

"I go to the wedding of my niece," he remarked, with so much satisfaction that, for a moment, Roy really thought he meant it. "Does monsieur perceive? And monsieur will be the boy Joseph, who goes with me in the little cart."

"But where is the cart?"

"All in good time, m'sieu."

Jean rolled the discarded clothes into a bundle, with which he disappeared. Roy conjectured that he might have buried it in the bushes or under heaps of black rubbish outside. Jean then led him into the outhouse, which was more than two-thirds full of heavy logs and fagots of wood—the winter supply, piled together.

"Am I to get underneath all that, Jean?"

"Oui, m'sieu. The gendarmes will not readily find you there. I meanwhile betake myself to the soupente."

The soupente in a French cottage is a kind of upper cupboard, a small corner cut off from the one room, near the ceiling, descending only half-way to the ground, and reached by a ladder.

"And if they find you there?"

"M'sieu, they will not know me in this dress. See—I am not the Jean who chopped wood at Bitche. And I hope then to draw their attention from m'sieu."

Roy wrung his hand. "I don't know what makes you so good to me," the boy said huskily.

"It is not difficult to tell m'sieu why." Jean looked abstractedly at the roof of the wood-hut. "It is for the sake of that kind M. le Capitaine, who would not leave my mother unhappy. Does m'sieu remember how M. le Capitaine regarded my mother that day?"

Roy remembered, and understood.

Jean hauled aside logs and masses of wood, making a little cave far back, where Roy could creep in and lie close to the wall. Jean wrapped round him an old coat, for warmth, and, when he had laid himself down, threw light black rubbish over him as an additional security. After which he carefully heaped up anew the logs and fagots, till not the faintest sign remained of any human being beneath.

"M'sieu must lie still," Jean said, when he had effaced every token that the wood-pile had been disturbed. "On no account must m'sieu move or speak. If by chance I should have to go away, m'sieu must wait till nightfall, when the cart will come to take m'sieu on his way."

"But, I say, Jean, you mustn't get into trouble for me," called Roy, his voice sounding muffled.

"Bien, m'sieu. Trust Jean to do his best. Can m'sieu breathe?"

"Rather stuffy, but it's all right."

"Au revoir, m'sieu. I go to the soupente."

Then silence. Jean returned to the cottage, where he rinsed the basin which had been used for dyeing purposes, put things straight, unbolted the front door, and climbed into the soupente, drawing the ladder after him. There he laid himself flat, and was, or pretended to be, sound asleep.

Roy's sleep was no pretence. Despite his hard bed and the stuffiness of the air which he had to breathe, despite fear of gendarmes and risks of discovery, he forgot himself for a couple of hours.

Something roused him then. In a moment he was wide awake, his heart thumping unpleasantly against his side. The gendarmes had come!

Roy could see nothing; he could only hear; and he heard more than might have been expected from his position. The men made a good deal of noise, after the manner of gendarmes; and Roy's senses were quickened by the exigency of the moment.

First they went into the cottage, finding the door on the latch, which fact allayed their suspicions, as Jean had intended. They marched round the room, knocking things about a little; and one of them took a good look at the soupente. But not seeing the ladder, and not really suspecting the fugitives of being here, he did not trouble himself further.

Then they walked to the bûcher. One gendarme knocked down a few fagots, and another pulled at a log. To Roy it sounded as if they were making their way into where he lay. But after what he felt to be a century of suspense, they left the outhouse. He heard them mount their horses and trot off.

"Safe!" murmured Roy, and in his heart was a fervent "Thank God!"

Presently he dropped asleep again, and knew no more for hours. When he woke he had the consciousness, which one often has after long sleep, of a considerable time having passed; yet whether it was now morning or afternoon or evening he could not tell. To sleep more was not possible. He was growing frightfully weary of his constrained position. A voice at length sounded near.


"All right," called Roy.

"Can m'sieu wait a little longer? It is not safe to move till after dark."

"I'll wait, Jean. Only, as soon as you can, please."

The wisdom of Jean's caution became evident. Before darkness settled down, the same party of gendarmes galloped up once more. As before, they walked through cottage and shed, kicking the furniture about, knocking down some logs, and using rough language about the escaped prisoner, which boded no gentle treatment for Roy, should he fall into their clutches. But the search was perfunctory, and soon they vanished, silence following their departure.

One more hour Roy had to endure. Then came the welcome sound of Jean removing the wood-piles.

"Can m'sieu stand?"

Roy crept out, made the attempt, and fell flat. Jean pulled him up, and held him on his feet.

"I'm only stiff," declared Roy. "They won't come again now, I suppose. And they didn't find you?"

"Non, m'sieu. I was in the wood this last time."

"It is night, I declare! Now I can walk," and Roy managed to reach the cottage on his own limbs. "What a long day it has been! But as if that mattered—as if anything mattered—only to get away safely! Jean, you are a good fellow. Is this for me to eat? I'm as hungry as a bear. Jean, I shall always think better of Frenchmen for your sake."

"Yet m'sieu will doubtless fight us one day."

"I shall fight Buonaparte. Not the French nation. I like some of your people awfully. Lots of French have been as good and kind to us détenus as possible. Only I don't like Boney."

"Cependant, m'sieu, the Army of the Emperor is made of French soldiers."

"Can't help that," retorted Roy. "And they can't help it either, poor fellows! I say, this cheese is uncommonly good. How did you manage to hide it from the gendarmes? Jean, were you long at Bitche? Tell me all about it."

Jean evidently preferred not to enter into details. It was better for Roy's own sake that he should not know too much.

It appeared, however, that on Jean's arrival at Bitche he had found one of the gendarmes to be an old acquaintance; and through this man he had obtained a temporary post in the fortress. A man who did rough work, such as chopping and carrying wood, had fallen ill; and Jean was allowed to undertake his duties.

This gave him an opportunity to study the fortress, to make himself acquainted with the surrounding country, and to mature his plans. How far his friend had a hand in the matter, he did not reveal. He had held carefully aloof from Roy himself, till matters were ripe. Then he contrived to be sent into the yard, just at the right time. The rest Roy knew.

"Why was I put into that cell?" asked Roy.

"M'sieu, there were doubtless reasons. It is sometimes best that one should not understand everything," meditatively observed Jean. "What if—perhaps—somebody had known of the intended escape, and had tried by such means to save m'sieu from danger?"

"Was it you, Jean?"

"Non, m'sieu." But whether Jean spoke the truth, whether he might or might not have had a hand in the wirepulling which had led to that event, Roy could not know. He had but to be thankful that he was free.

After darkness had some time set in, a rough little cart, drawn by a rough little pony, and driven by a charcoal-burner, came to the door. Then he and Jean started, taking with them a small lantern.

The next stage of the journey meant quicker and easier advance than that of the previous night. The pony was strong and willing; and all through the hours of darkness they were getting further and further away from Bitche. By dawn of day the fear of pursuit was immensely lessened. Even if the gendarmes had overtaken them, they would hardly have suspected the odd figure in a smart old coat and ancient cocked hat to be the temporary wood-chopper at Bitche, or the black-haired boy in a rough blouse to be their prisoner, Roy Baron.

For greater safety, both that day and next, they found a retired spot in which to hide, letting the pony loose to browse on some rough ground, or putting up it and the cart at a wayside inn, and calling there later. One way and another the dreaded pursuit was eluded; and as day after day went by, Roy felt himself indeed nearer home.







THE month of April, 1808, saw Polly and Molly again in London; not this time for the enjoyment of gay assemblies. Old Mrs. Fairbank, after many months of gradual failure, had passed away in an acute attack of bronchitis; and Mrs. Bryce immediately offered a home to the two girls, until at least it might be possible to know the wishes of Colonel Baron and his wife. Though Mr. Bryce, as usual, only had to assent to his "better half's" proposition, he did so with a heartiness not shown towards every wish of hers.

So the Bath house, with its quaint furniture, was let; and in the end of March, after a few weeks given to necessary arrangements, the two girls found themselves once more under Mr. and Mrs. Bryce's hospitable roof.

A double bedroom, opening into a small sitting-room or boudoir, was given to them; and here they loved to pass much of their time. Mrs. Bryce was now in a full swing of engagements; and she would greatly have liked to take Polly with her wherever she went, despite the recent death of Polly's grandmother, but for Polly's resistance.

"Well, well, well, my dear; all in good time," Mrs. Bryce said, after some discussion. "To be sure, the old lady was tolerable close related, and there's no doubt your feelings does you credit. But I can assure you, 'tis time you was settled in life, with a husband of your own, and a ménage, and a suitable equipage, and the rest of it. And as for Captain Ivor—I protest I've no sort of Patience with the man. Why, 'tis eighteen months at the least since ever a word reached us of Captain Ivor and his doings. And by this time there's no sort of question that he's forgot all about you, and has found himself a wife, and belike he's been married this year past and more. So 'tis good time you too should forget all about him."

Polly was thinking over these utterances, as she sat before the drawing-room fire, robed in white muslin, with black sash and ribbons. In the first decade of the nineteenth century, muslin was counted to be the correct dress for a girl, morning and noon and evening, summer and winter, no matter what the weather might be. Polly looked rather blue and chilly, with her bare arms and shoulders, the latter covered but lightly with a thin black crape scarf.

She was as pretty as ever; but her colouring was less brilliant than of old, while the sweet eyes held a touch of melancholy. Molly, dressed to match, though with white ribbons instead of black, was busily reading to herself on the other side of the fireplace.

It was a cold April afternoon, five o'clock dinner being over. Mr. and Mrs. Bryce were out on one of their innumerable engagements. Mr. Bryce, poor man, would greatly have preferred a quiet evening at home with the girls to the most brilliant gathering; but his relentless wife dragged him in her wake, an unwilling and helpless victim, to dinner-parties, balls, crushes, routs, innumerable.

"Molly, the Admiral is at home again. 'Tis a fit of the gout, Mrs. Peirce tells me. I saw her to-day; and she is vexed, for it makes him roar like a wild beast. And though 'tis doubtless true, as the faculty say, that the gout sets a man up again, yet the setting up is by no means pleasant. And Mrs. Peirce and the Admiral are sorely troubled about Will; for since he was taken prisoner, all that long while ago, never a word has reached them about him. O this weary war!"

Molly murmured one or two indistinct responses to the early part of Polly's speech. The last four words made her look up. Then she stepped across, kissed Polly's brow tenderly, and went back to her seat.

"What is it you are reading, Molly?"

"The 'Edinburgh Review' for this month. An article on 'Marmion.' And Polly—would you think it?—the Editor has no appreciation for our great poet's genius! No; none whatever. He writes—he writes as if Mr. Scott were but a common man, like any other sort of scribbler—and not the mighty world-wide genius that he is."

"Would that be a paper by Mr. Jeffrey? But he knows Mr. Scott. The two are friends. Can he find it in his heart to blame his friend? And what may he see to find fault with?"

"What indeed?" echoed eager Molly. "Do but hear? He says it is 'a good deal longer' than the last poem—'more ambitious,' with 'greater faults' and 'greater beauties,' 'less sweetness,' 'more vehemence,' 'redundancy,' and a 'general tone of spirit and animation, unchecked by timidity or affectation, and unchastened by any great delicacy of taste or elegance of fancy.' Oh!" cried indignant Molly, "to think that any critic can be so blinded by prejudice! There have been poets, 'tis true, before this; but none, sure, to compare with the author of 'Marmion!' Why, what were Homer and Milton—what are those old plays by Mr. William Shakespeare, which Mr. Bryce loves to read—compared with the poetical writings of Mr. Scott? I have a mind never to read the 'Edinburgh Review' again." Molly flung it to the ground.

"A young man desires to speak with Miss Baron." The butler's solemn voice came as a surprise.

"His name, Drake?" asked Polly.

"The young man refuses to give his name, Miss."

"Then what does he want?"

"He says that Miss Baron will know him. He—in fact he declines to be refused, Miss. But if it is your wish that he be sent away—"

"You must make him say what he wants, Drake."

"Is he a gentleman?" asked Molly.

"He—" and a pause—"is extremely shabby, Miss."

"What are we to do, Polly?"

"If Miss Keene desires that he should—"

Drake advanced no further. Somebody from behind put him on one side, with a gentle shove, and walked past him, straight into the room.

Drake was indignant, yet not so indignant as he ought to have been. A certain vague influence, which he afterwards declared to have been an instinctive knowledge of the truth, withheld him from any show of wrath. The young man came quickly nearer to where the two girls sat. He was of good medium height, with a boyish look; and he wore a rough travel-stained coat, ill-made and ill-fitting. His boots were cut through, his trousers were soiled, his hair was of an odd mottled colour, as if it had once been dark and were turning fair. But—

"You ask to know what I want," he said, in a half-laughing voice. A pair of large grey eyes were turned full upon them both. "I want—Molly!"

Molly did not shriek, did not even exclaim. It was Polly who cried out in astonishment; not Molly. Nor did Molly hesitate for one quarter of a second. As she met Roy's glance, she was in his arms, clinging to him in a voiceless rapture. Neither of the two spoke. Roy stood perfectly still, his head bent low over the faithful little sister, who held him fast in a vehement clutch of joy. Drake came some steps nearer, understanding, yet scarcely able to believe what his own sight told him. Polly stood gazing at the pair, her eyes full of tears.

"I'm not fit to be touched," Roy said at length, in an odd husky voice. "Don't, Molly! I shall spoil your nice things. I've been on the tramp."

She half loosened him, then returned to the charge with another passionate clasp; and Polly's tears now were running down her cheeks. Roy broke into an odd hard sound, not far removed from a sob, though he tried to turn it into a laugh; and he kissed and kissed again the top of Molly's head. Her face was out of reach, buried in his rough coat.

Polly pulled one of Molly's hands, trying to wrench asunder that frantic hold.

"Dear Molly, you must not. Roy is tired and hungry. Try to think of him. He wants food. And he has not said one word to me yet." Polly dashed aside her tears, trying to smile. "How did you get away from Verdun, Roy?"

"Not Verdun. Didn't you know I'd been sent to Bitche last spring?"

"No. Were you really? Bitche! Isn't that where prisoners are said to be so badly treated? O we hear so little!" and a sigh came from Polly's heart, while Molly, having pulled Roy into a chair, knelt by his side, gazing with eyes of rapt delight into his face.

"Rather! yes. I got away from there. I'll tell you all about it presently. It's all right, now I'm back in old England. Do you know, when first I got on shore, I just went down on my knees, and kissed the ground. Bitche is an awful place,—couldn't well be worse. Drake, you didn't know me. For shame! But I was sure Miss Molly would. I knew she'd never be taken in. Eh, Molly?"

"I don't know as I didn't, sir, for all you're so growed and altered. I couldn't turn you away, and that's a fact, though it seemed like as if I'd ought. And I did feel queer-like, and no mistake, when I see you a-looking at me, sir; only begging your pardon, sir, you did speak so short—"

"I'm sorry; but I didn't mean to be found out by anybody first, except by Miss Molly. Dear little Molly!" as she stooped to kiss the back of his brown hand. "No, no, you mustn't do that. I say, Drake, I wonder if you can find anything respectable for me to wear. These things were given me at a farmhouse in France, and they were old to begin with. And I've had to get to London on the tramp, because I'd no money, though people have given me many a lift, and shelter as well. But couldn't you make me look decent, before Mr. and Mrs. Bryce come home?"

Drake made no difficulty about the matter, and he and Roy, after a few more explanations, went off together. Roy had seen in an old newspaper, since landing on the east coast, the mention of Mrs. Fairbank's death; and he had at once decided to find his way straight to the house of Mr. Bryce, secure of learning what might have become of Polly and Molly. He had hardly felt surprise, on arrival, to learn that both the girls were there. Another sadder duty would lie before him soon—to see Admiral and Mrs. Peirce, and to tell them the story of little Will. But his first aim had been to reach Molly.

As the two disappeared, Molly flung herself on the rug, with her face on Polly's knees.

"To think that I have my own Roy again!" she whispered.

"Dear Molly, 'tis something indeed to be thankful for!" A tear splashed on Molly's cheek. She looked up with startled eyes.

"Ah, I forgot! If Denham could but have come with Roy! Then we should both be happy, we should want nothing. Except—for my papa and my mamma to return."

Another tear fell.

"But we will ask Roy, and he will tell us about Denham. Perhaps he will have brought you a message from him."

"No," answered Polly. "Roy comes from Bitche, not from Verdun. 'Tis a great while since he saw them. And, Molly, you must not ask."

"Not ask!"

"Not for me. Nothing for me. How can I tell now,—so long as it is since any letter came? And no message, none at all, in the last that did come. Do you not see?"

"You mean—But Polly, you do not think Denham has changed towards you? He cannot have done so."

"I cannot tell. It may be. I am a woman, dear, and I may not be sure, without reason. In my heart, I think I do trust him. And if Roy tells—but you must not ask for me."

"Not even how Denham is?"

"Yes; that for yourself. But nothing for me."

A very different Roy soon appeared, dressed in a castoff suit of Mr. Bryce's, which, though it was by no means a perfect fit, since Roy was markedly the taller, yet shone by comparison with what he had worn before. Roy had grown very brown during his prolonged wanderings; and the dye, which it had been thought advisable to keep going so long as he remained on French soil, was still en evidence. But the face and the grey eyes were unmistakable. They had been unmistakable to Molly from the moment she saw him.

An abundant dinner, hastily heated and brought together, awaited him soon in the dining-room; and Roy confessed to a "wolfish" appetite. Molly said nothing then in allusion to Ivor. She knew that Polly would wish the subject to be avoided while Drake was present, and Drake took care to be present throughout the meal. He would not lose a single word of Roy's narration of the escape from Bitche, and the journey through France. That any Frenchman should have acted as Jean had acted, came as a positive shock to the insular prejudices of the old butler. Drake arrived at a solemn conclusion, while he listened, that some among those Mounseers over the water were not perhaps altogether bad, even though they lacked the advantages of an English "eddication."

But when dinner was over, when Roy's wants were satisfied, and when the three were together in the drawing-room, Roy in a comfortable chair, with Molly close to his side, Polly herself remarked quietly—

"And now Roy will tell us all about them at Verdun."

"Haven't seen 'em lately, you know, Polly. I wish I had. The latest news I can give you is near a year old. No, not quite the latest, but—Well, I left my father and mother all right at Verdun, last spring. Not much less than a year. Denham had been away at Valenciennes for, eighteen months. You must have heard that."

"One letter from your mother, which had been long on the road, spoke of his having been there. But no explanation. We thought he had perhaps gone thither for a few weeks."

"Eighteen months. Ordered off for nothing, and brought back in the same fashion. He got to Verdun the very day before I broke that bust, and was arrested. You know—I told you."

"Then you have not seen anything of Denham for an age?" Molly asked this.

"Pretty near two years and a half, except that one day."

"And they were all well?" Polly said.

Roy looked intently at her. Polly flushed faintly.

"Yes, I know—of course you want to hear of anything that he said. I'm trying to remember. Such a lot happened then, and I've gone through so much since. But I don't think he said much of any sort. You see he had walked the whole way from Valenciennes, giving up his horse to a man worse than himself. And he was too thoroughly dead-beat to do more than just answer questions."

Polly had turned her face away. Roy whispered, "I say, Molly, one minute,—I want a word with her."

Molly obediently fled, and Roy crossed the rug. As he expected, there were tears upon Polly's cheek.

"Polly, I want you to understand."

A hasty movement disposed of the tears, and she turned a quiet face towards him. "I think I do."

"Den is not the man to change."

"Many men do—"

"Not Den. He's not that sort."

She smiled a little. "My dear Roy, you have not seen him, except for one day, since—how long ago?"

"Yes, I know. But boys have eyes as well as girls. And I tell you, Polly, I know Denham. That year and a half before he went to Valenciennes he and I were always together. And I got to know him as—well, as nobody else does. Not even you."

She rested her chin on one hand, the soft eyes questioning Roy.

"Go on," she whispered.

"I know Den, and because I know him, I can tell you that he has not altered, and that he won't alter. It isn't in him. It doesn't make a grain of difference whether he talked or didn't talk of you that day. He was too ill; and Den doesn't talk, you know, of the things he cares most about. You ought to understand what he feels about Sir John Moore, for instance, and yet how few would guess it! Does he ever say a great deal about Sir John to people in general? And has he ever changed in that direction? No, nor ever will."

"He has a warm advocate in you."

"Because I know what he is. He didn't talk much of you, Polly, that year and a half that we were together. And I was only a boy, but all the same I understood. If anybody ever spoke your name, didn't I see his look? Just as I always saw the look in his face if anybody spoke of Sir John."

Polly brushed her hand over wet eyes.

"Sometimes I used to know that he was thinking of you all day long. How did I know? I can't tell. How does anybody know? It was just as if 'Polly' was writ large upon his face. I never could tell what made him so, only for hours he seemed to be away from us all, and 'twas little good for me to talk, for he heard scarce anything I might say."

Roy's coat-sleeve received a little squeeze. "But—so long ago!"

"What does that matter? You ought to feel sure of him. I'm not making up. Den is one of the best and truest fellows that ever lived, and when he comes home you'll see. You'll see for yourself."

She bent her head.

"Thank you, Roy. At the least I can promise to do one thing. I can wait to see."







So soon as the first excitement of Roy's arrival began to subside, his thoughts turned in the old direction, towards the Army.

Mr. Bryce took upon himself to act as he knew that the Colonel would have acted if able; and a brief space of time saw Roy being transformed into a smart young subaltern, in the same regiment of infantry where Jack had lately obtained his Captaincy.

"And now," Roy said, not once but a dozen times, to Molly, "the one thing in the world I want is to serve under Moore!"

"Are you in such a hurry to go away from us again?" Molly asked wistfully. But she understood, as she would not have understood five years earlier, and before Roy could speak she added,—"I know. Of course you can't help it. You must wish to go! Only I hope you won't stay away too long."

"We've got to squash Napoleon before anybody can think of stopping at home."

In the beginning of this year, 1808, Moore had returned to England from the Mediterranean, after an absence of nearly two years. Then he had his last holiday. Four months of rest were granted to the hard-worked warrior, who during thirty years had held himself at his Country's service, fighting for her in all parts of the world, and being at least four times severely wounded. At this date he was looked upon by competent judges as the foremost man in the British Army, as the one to whom, above all others, England in her hour of need would turn.

The chief part of his holiday was spent at the quiet Surrey home of his brother, with his mother and sister; and one is glad to know that he had that peaceful interlude before the stormy end. He had had much to try him, and he had gone through heavy battling of more than one description when out in Sicily.

It was during his time there, when acting second in command to old General Fox, brother of Mr. Charles Fox, Prime Minister of England, that the one love affair of Moore came about. The little tale is worth telling, though apart from the course of this story, for it says much as to the character of Moore.

Several times the assertion has been made that Sir John Moore was engaged to Lady Hester Stanhope, niece of Mr. Pitt. This is a mistake. Lady Hester was his friend, and he admired her greatly; but it was as a friend only, not as a lover. On the conclusive authority of General Anderson, who for twenty-one years was with him in the closest possible intercourse, there was but one whom Moore ever seriously wished to marry. That one was—not Lady Hester, but Caroline Fox, daughter of the old General in command at Sicily.

That the niece of Mr. Pitt should have been his most intimate woman-friend, and the niece of Mr. Fox his one and only love, reads curiously in the light of party politics. But Sir John was no party man. The great Minister, Pitt, had for him an unbounded esteem and affection on the one side. And Mr. Fox, on the other, at a time when a movement was astir to make Moore Commander-in-Chief in India, utterly refused to allow him to go. "It was impossible for him," he said, "in the state in which Europe then was, to send to such a distance a General in whom he had such entire confidence." Moore stood outside political warfare, grandly and simply, as representative of his Country.

He had many troubles in Sicily. The object of the British forces being there was to save the Sicilies from the grip of Napoleon. But the tortuous policy of their Sicilian Majesties, the entire lack of honesty and of public spirit, the underhand cabals and oppositions, the weakness and wickedness of the Queen, and the mischief made by one Englishman there, who acted throughout as Sir John's enemy, hindered far more from being done than was done.

Amid all this, however—amid the fighting, the difficulties, the trickeries, the entanglements of Sicilian politics and warfare, Moore fell deeply in love. But he did not marry. He did not even let the girl know that he loved her.

Caroline Fox was very young, not yet eighteen. Moore was already in his forty-sixth year. He did not think it right, at her age, even to give her the choice.

Whether this decision was in the abstract wise, some may question. It is at least conceivable that Caroline Fox herself was already in love with him. Had she been so, it would indeed have been sad that, from a noble sense of duty, he should have denied happiness to her as well as to himself. True, he had not sought her; but he was intimate in the house, and he was a man of extraordinarily attractive power. In such a case it does seem, from the woman's point of view, that she ought to have been allowed to say for herself either Yea or Nay.

That view does not detract from the admiration which his conduct must arouse. Sir John was not of a nature to love lightly, to give up his wishes easily. It was a hard fight. Harder far this conflict than all his battles with the soldiers of Napoleon.

Yet he conquered; and to the young girl herself he said not one word which might have encouraged her affections. To Anderson he explained his reasons with a frank and touching simplicity, the echo of which comes down to us now through ninety years and more.

"She is so young," he said. "Her judgment may be overpowered. The disparity of age is not, perhaps, at present very apparent. My position here, my reputation as a soldier of service, and my intimacy with her father, may influence her to an irretrievable error for her own future contentment. My feelings, therefore, must be suppressed, that she may not have to suppress hers hereafter, with loss of happiness."

Can anything surpass the quiet grandeur of that must?

He was a man in the prime of life, eminently handsome, accomplished, fascinating, the idol of his friends, the darling of his country, with every hope of a splendid career still before him. That such a man, when profoundly in love, should pause to view the question solely with respect to the girl's happiness, not his own—that he should humbly question whether, though he might win her, she might not in after years regret her action and wish herself free;—this, no doubt, is such a hero as has often figured in fiction. Quite an ideal hero! So some may object.

But the whole is true. There is no idealising in the question. John Moore, actually and literally, less than one hundred years ago, loved and decided thus. The grandeur of this man was that he thought always of others before himself, that he lived for duty. Where duty pointed or seemed to point down a pathway, no matter how hard and thorny the road, there unhesitatingly he walked. Questions as to the wisdom of his decision do not touch the splendour of his self-sacrificing conduct.

He never did propose for that young girl. Whether he would have done so in after years cannot now be decided. In 1806, when this hard conflict was fought out, less than three years of his fair life on earth remained.

After his four months' holiday at home—just at the close of which Roy Baron reached London—Moore was despatched on another expedition to Sweden. It was an expedition rendered especially trying to its Commander, and abortive in itself, by the crazy conduct of the King of Sweden, who, not long after, went mad and had to be deposed. Moore, when setting sail for England, wrote to his mother: "This campaign in Sweden has proved the most painful to me I ever served."

One trial followed another in these later years of his life. The heaviest of all was yet to come.

In the autumn of 1807, when Italy, Holland, Prussia, Austria, and Russia had been all either conquered or humiliated and crushed, Portugal next fell a victim to the rapacious Conqueror; and Portugal was made a steppingstone to the conquest of Spain. Before the end of May 1808, when Sir John Moore was sailing for Sweden, the French army entered Madrid, declaring the whole country subject to the Emperor of the French, and proclaiming Joseph Buonaparte king.

Then it was that the tide of Napoleon's successes reached high-water mark. From this date, it may be said, the retreat of the waters began on land, as their fall had earlier begun upon the ocean—at first imperceptibly, for a long while fitfully, yet with accelerating speed.

Again and again the Spaniards had fought on the side of the French against the English. But now at last the spell seemed to be broken; now at last their eyes were opened. "As a man," it was declared, Spain had risen against the Emperor; and a burst of enthusiasm, of generous and vehement sympathy, rushed through the length and breadth of England. A passionate longing to be led against the enemy pervaded all ranks in the Army.

By the time that Moore got home from Sweden, Sir Arthur Wellesley had already been sent to Portugal, with a force of nine thousand men; and the eleven thousand, who had returned from the fruitless errand to Sweden, were at once ordered to Portsmouth en route for Portugal.

An evening or two later Jack rushed in upon the Bryce circle, in hot haste.

"Jack! Hallo, man—what's up now? Something out of the common, to judge from the looks of you," declared Mr. Bryce, sitting near the window, in flowered waistcoat, velvet tights, and silver-buckled shoes.

"How d'you all do? How d'you do, ma'am? Find yourself well, Polly? All right, Molly? Heard the news?"

"What news?" from all four.

"Sir John Moore is ordered off to Spain. And our regiment is under orders too!"

"Oh!" from Molly. "And if Roy should be taken prisoner!"

"Or if he should not!" suggested Mr. Bryce. "Nay, child, we'll permit no doleful foretellings. What's up, jack? 'Tis no ill news to you to be ordered to the seat of war."

"Ill news, sir! No!" with sufficient energy.

"Yet you look uncommon like to a thunder-cloud. What's wrong?"

"Could wish nothing better than to go, sir. Every man in the Army is wild to be off. But I'm angry, I'll admit. 'Tis a fact that, after serving in Sicily and in Sweden as Chief in command, Sir John Moore is now to be in a subordinate position as third."

"Yet the King and the Duke of York are ever his friends," mused Mr. Bryce. "And Lord Castlereagh esteems him highly."

"So say all. But there's Sir Arthur Wellesley in command of one army, gone to Spain; and Sir John till now in command of another; and both of 'em to be under Sir Hew Dalrymple; and till he gets to Portugal, Sir Harry Burrard is to act for him. Moore—the foremost and most brilliant officer England has ever owned—to be under Burrard and Dalrymple! Has the world gone crazed? But he'll rise to the top—small fear!"

"What says Sir John himself?"

Jack's face broke into a smile.

"Well, sir, it must go no further. Sir John was summoned to the presence of Lord Castlereagh to receive orders. And those who were in waiting in the anteroom heard sounds of a stormy interview. Sir John said after to a friend—so I am told—that he had had it out with the Ministers, and he was glad he had, for he would now think no more about the matter."

"Jack, shall we soon see Roy?" asked Molly.

Jack had little doubt that Roy would look in. Everything was to be done in a terrific hurry; and he had come himself to say good-bye there and then; but Roy would certainly appear before starting for Portugal. A few minutes later he called Polly into the little boudoir, and said: "That's a brave Poll. No tears and no wailings. 'Tis as should be."

"Dear Jack, I know well how glad you are. And I would not hold you back." Polly spoke courageously, though she looked white.

"I knew well that you would bid me God-speed. And you will think of me. Think especially on Sunday—in church. Eh, dear? Polly, no letter from Verdun?"

Polly looked sadly at her brother.

"I have not writ to him lately, Jack. I cannot tell how to write. What shall I do? I have none but you to advise me. And if he should no longer care—if he should by now have forgot me?"

"He is not that sort. Trust him, Polly."

"It is so long—five years and more. And no letter from him of later date than the summer of 1806! Jack, sometimes I wonder—why does he not ask me to go out to him there. If he asked me I would go. And sure, if he indeed wished it, he might send me some little word—by some private hand—"

Jack was silent, thinking.

"And there is that French girl, whom Roy is so fond of—always with them, as one of themselves."

"But trust him still, Polly dear," urged Jack. "I cannot know, neither can you, how things are yet a while; only I do truly believe that Den is no man to change, nor to be fickle in his likings. Whether you write or do not write, trust him still!"







A FEW hours later Roy came in, wild with joy, bringing a brother-Ensign and great friend, Robert Monke, first cousin to Jack and Polly. Monke was two or three years older than Roy, but he looked two years less. He was a slight lad, fair-haired, blue-eyed, dreamy in expression. Bitche had made Roy older than his years; and Bob Monke was younger than his.

No wonder Roy was half crazy with delight. To be ordered, when barely eighteen, to the seat of war—to serve in his first campaign under Sir John Moore;—this indeed went beyond the utmost that he had dared to hope for.

"You'll write to me sometimes," pleaded Molly, clinging to him, oblivious of a pair of dreamy eyes fixed wistfully on her face. She had no attention but for Roy; not that she did not like Bob Monke, as she would have said, "quite as much as most people." But Bob had begun to want something more than the liking accorded to most people.

"And oh, Roy, don't be taken prisoner again."

"Trust me for that," laughed Roy.

"But you won't be too reckless." Molly turned to Bob. "You'll look after him, won't you? For me!"

"I'd do anything in the world for you, Molly." Bob's whole heart was in the words.

"I don't mean that you are to put yourself in danger, of course." Molly's soft heart reproached her, for not having shown concern on behalf of Bob as well. "And Roy must take care of you too. Only—"

"Only I'm ages older than Roy. I'll be sure."

"Much more likely I shall have to look after Bob. He's no end of a dreaming genius—most of his time in the clouds," laughed Roy. "Take care of yourself, Molly—and don't let Polly lose heart."

And then they were gone.

Jack had not been mistaken as to the nature of the interview which had just taken place between Sir John Moore and the Secretary of State. It had been of a stormy description.

Sir John, with all his sweetness of disposition, had a fiery temper. And though he habitually held in that temper with so firm a curb that he could be described as "the most amiable man in the British Army," yet there were times when it got the better of him. Those kind eyes could flash with a scathing light, and those lips could pour forth vehement utterances. Perhaps the thing which he was least able patiently to endure was the sense of being unjustly treated.

It may be, too, that at this moment he was physically suffering from the severe strain, not only of his late trying expedition to Sweden, but of the hardly less trying time in Sicily. He may even yet have been under something of reaction from that hard fight, when his own "feelings" had had to be, from a sense of duty, sternly repressed, for the sake of the young girl whom he loved. In a letter, written three or four days later from Portsmouth, to his mother, a note of weariness may be detected, unwonted in Moore. But Rest waited ahead, not far distant; though a fierce experience lay between.

One way or another he did wax wrathful in this interview, and he spoke out his mind with uncompromising frankness. He considered that he had been unhandsomely treated. Coming, as he did, from a chief command, if he were now to be placed in an inferior post, some explanation was his due.

"His Majesty's Ministers have a right to employ what officers they please," Sir John went on, working off his warmth. "But I have a right, in common with all officers who have served zealously, to expect to be treated with attention, and, when employment is offered, that some regard should be paid to my former services."

"I am not aware, Sir John, of having given you just cause for complaint," Castlereagh replied gravely; and he did not say much more. No one, looking on, could have imagined that this cold-mannered Secretary would, not many months later, fight a duel in defence of the fair fame of the gallant General now before him. The famous duel between Castlereagh and Canning is widely known, but its true cause, as asserted by Lady Castlereagh, is less well understood.¹

Moore had said his say, and doubtless felt relieved. He started post-haste for Portsmouth, pausing on the road for one night at his mother's country home.

The parting with her next day was sadder than usual.

¹ "Life of Sir C. Napier," by W. Napier.

Some forebodings may well have suggested themselves to the mother's heart, as she watched that manly figure pass away into the distance. He had been to her the most tender of sons; but on earth she would see him never again.

Four or five days later Moore resigned to Sir Harry Burrard the chief command. But though no longer at the head of affairs, he would still have control of his own Division; and that Division included the regiment to which Jack and Roy and Bob belonged.

Moore did not leave nearly so much to unassisted Nature as a good many generals of the day were content to do. It was his way to see and personally to influence the young officers under his command. Roy, being aware of this, was not surprised to be early summoned to his presence. Punctually at the hour named he reached Sir John's lodgings.

Sir John stood, talking to his friend Colonel Anderson, at the upper end of the room into which Roy was shown—a strangely attractive figure, alike dignified and winning, with a brow of regal breadth and power, searching luminous eyes, through which at times the whole spirit of the man seemed to shine, and well-cut sensitive lips, gentle as those of any woman in expression, while yet they could close like adamant. Roy, with one swift glance, took in the whole, and, as he did so, a vivid picture flashed up in his mind of the day, more than five years earlier, when he had seen that same face, little dreaming of all that should lie between that date and this.

Child as he had been then, he saw a change. The sharp discipline of life, especially sharp of late, had left its traces. The face was thinner, with a worn outline of cheek; and a touch of pensive gravity, even of sadness, lay deep in the hazel eyes. But this was only during silence and repose. The moment Moore spoke, his face lighted up with all its former brilliancy, while the old wonderful charm of manner was unchanged, or rather was intensified.

Roy noted all this, and more. In one flash he knew why Denham Ivor so loved Sir John, and why men could with very gladness die for him. The young Ensign's heart beat tumultuously under a rush of new sensations, and a passion of devotion for such a leader as this sprang at once into being.

Moore, gazing in his earnest fashion upon the boy, read the look in his face, and smiled; and in an instant sadness vanished. It was no new thing for him to be conscious of his own magical control over the hearts of others.

A few businesslike questions were put, as to when Roy had joined his regiment and the training he had since received. Presently Moore remarked—

"So you escaped from Bitche, I am told!"

"I was so fortunate, sir. With the help of a Frenchman."

"Ha! How was that?"

"He was grateful, sir, to my father, and wished to make a return. He had been taken in the conscription some time before, and my father and Captain Ivor helped to pay for a substitute. It was for his old mother's sake."

This was a note which could not fail to appeal to the most loyal of sons. Moore's face showed quick response, though he only said—"Détenus?"

"Yes, sir. We were detained in 1803—my father and Captain Ivor. My mother stayed with them, and I could not get a passport. Later on I was sent from Verdun to Bitche."

"Denham Ivor of the Guards! I remember—he was among the détenus."

"Yes, sir. He was under you in the West Indies and Holland and Egypt."

"Of course. I know him well. I regretted much not having him again. How came he to linger so long in France?"

Roy explained briefly the smallpox complication, the General listening with still that intent gaze.

"Then Ivor is at Verdun now. Hard upon him! As gallant a young fellow as I ever had to do with. I would give something to have him in this expedition."

Roy treasured up the words for Ivor's future comfort.

"Captain Ivor feels it terribly, sir," he said.

"You have been much thrown with him?"

"Yes, sir. He was my father's ward. He has always been a brother and friend to me."

"I am glad to hear it. He is a friend worth having." After a slight break the General remarked, "Napoleon made a blunder there, for once. The absence of proper exchange falls at least as heavily upon the French as upon ourselves. How long were you imprisoned at Bitche?"

"Nearly nine months, sir."

"The place has been described as a hell upon earth."

"Yes, sir." Roy looked up into the now grave face. "That is not too strong a description. It is—awful."

"I must hear more another day—" as some one else came up, claiming attention. "By the bye, you know Captain Keene also. He spoke to me of you."

"Yes, sir. We are connected."

"Well, Baron, I shall expect a good deal from a friend of Ivor's."

"I will do my best, sir, not to disappoint you."

Sir John smiled kindly again, as he turned away. Roy went out of the room, captivated, dazzled, wild to do and to dare aught in the world for the sake of Moore.







ON the 20th of August Sir John Moore reached Portugal. He was ordered at once to disembark and to join Sir Arthur Wellesley.

Three days before Moore's arrival Sir Arthur—future Duke of Wellington—gained a victory over the French at Vimiera. Unfortunately he was at this moment superseded in command by Sir Harry Burrard, who arrived while the battle was being actually fought. The two Generals greeted one another upon the field.

This meant that the pursuit of the flying foe, which ought to have ended in a thorough rout, was timidly cut short. Next day Burrard was in turn superseded by Sir Hew Dalrymple; and his management of affairs and hasty signing of an armistice raised at home a storm of indignation.

Just at this point a little by-play took place, which so plainly shows the characters of the then two greatest English Generals, that it is worth telling.

Moore took the first step. He went to Dalrymple, chief in command, and said to him, with decision, that if hostilities should begin again, Wellesley, and not himself, ought to have the command. Moore had the first right, as senior; but he counted it only fair that Wellesley should be allowed to carry on what he had so well begun, and he offered freely to waive his own right.

Wellesley took the second step. While Moore thus generously proposed to sacrifice his own claims on behalf of a junior, Wellesley was only anxious that Moore's great gifts should not be lost to his country. The conduct of these two grand men, each towards the other, is a fair sight indeed, beside the jealousies which sometimes mar the bravest natures.

A frank, soldierly letter was sent by Wellesley to Moore, referring to his recent interview with "His Majesty's Ministers," and expressing a fear lest Moore's action that day might stand in the way of his being raised to the supreme command.

Would Sir John be willing to discuss the question with him? "It appears to me," he wrote, "to be quite impossible we can go on as we are now constituted. The Commander-in-chief must be changed; and the Country and the Army naturally turn their eyes to you as their Commander."

This letter took Moore by surprise. The two had met before, perhaps, but they had not been intimate. He at once replied cordially, and the interview was arranged for the next day, Wellesley calling upon Moore on his way home.

Outsiders, of course, did not know what this interview meant. Jack and Roy, taking a stroll together in a leisure hour, passed Moore's quarters at the moment when Wellesley rode up and dismounted. Their eyes met, and Roy murmured, "Wonder what's up now!"

"Something will have to be up soon, if things are not to go to a complete smash," returned Jack. "England won't stand long throwing men and money away for nothing. If battles are to end as that did the other day—" he referred to Vimiera—"there'll be a rumpus somewhere. Shouldn't wonder if a change is coming soon. Those two don't meet for nothing."

"No chance of anything proper being done till Moore is put into his right place," declared indignant Roy, not aware that he was echoing the precise sentiments of Sir Arthur Wellesley himself.

And they knew nothing, they could know nothing, of what was at that moment going on within the four walls of the house they had passed.

The confidential talk which took place inside those walls was a remarkable one.

Two of the greatest men of their generation had met there—one who was in a few years to become the foremost soldier of his age; another who could hardly have failed to become so, had he lived a few years longer. Each was bent upon the good of his country; each was willing to sacrifice for the benefit of the other what might be for his own gain. One by birth was Scots, one by birth was Irish; but both were British—nay, English!—to the backbone.

Sir Arthur Wellesley, in age eight years the younger, was still at the opening of his grand career. Sir John Moore, after thirty years of hard service, was fast nearing the close of his. He at this date had a world-wide fame. Sir Arthur, though he had made his mark by a masterly campaign in India, was not yet famous beyond a certain circle. But Moore had noted his power.

Wellesley's strongly-outlined eagle face and large Roman nose contrasted with the refined delicacy of Moore's features. In force of character, however, in strength of will, in courage and patriotism, in freedom from all narrowness of party spirit, the two were alike. With Wellesley, as with Moore, private interests went down before National interests, and DUTY was a word utterly supreme through life.

Perhaps the main difference between the two lay in the fact that Wellesley lacked that peculiar "strain of sweetness," that element of womanly tenderness, which made Moore so intensely beloved. His was a more homogeneously iron nature; yet it was of finely-wrought iron.

They went quietly into the matter together. Moore's impetuous self-defence before Castlereagh was referred to; and Sir John gave full particulars, adding frankly, "I thought it needful to express what I felt under the circumstances. But having done so, I have felt no more upon the subject."

Wellesley demurred. He feared that Sir John's heat on that occasion might stand in the path of his future usefulness. He was absolutely sure that no unkind intentions had existed on the part of the Ministers. Lord Castlereagh was naturally "cautious;" and a difficulty might have been felt in giving the chief command to Sir John until a formal explanation had taken place with the Swedish Court.

Then Sir Arthur earnestly pressed to be allowed to say to the Ministers that Moore was sorry to have misunderstood them, if no slight had been intended; and that, having once for all spoken out, he would think of the matter no more.

Moore hesitated. No opening had been made from the Government. He hardly saw how he could take the first step. He had known what the consequences might be of his course of action. And to make a submission now, merely with a view to getting a higher post,—"That is out of the question," he said firmly.

Wellesley was not convinced. Then, as ever, his one thought was for England's good. He knew what the loss of Moore's services in any degree could not fail to be to England. It seemed to him that personal feelings, and what might be thought of any individual action, were matters unimportant, compared with the one great question of the Country's need, the one fact that Moore more than any living man could supply that need. He still urged his own view of what ought to be done.

And Sir John partly yielded. If Sir Arthur were enough interested to mention this conversation to Lord Castlereagh, simply stating as a fact that Sir John had not the smallest feeling of ill-will to any man in the Ministry, he was welcome to do so. If wrong impressions were held, he would be grateful to any friend who should kindly set matters right.

Further than this Moore declined to budge. Wellesley had to promise that he would keep strictly to the terms dictated. He sailed next day for England.

But before he could carry out his generous intentions, such steps as he most desired had been already taken. The opposition to Moore's appointment, offered mainly by Canning, had been overcome by the determination of the King, who roundly declared that "No man but Moore should command that army."

Dalrymple was recalled; Burrard was superseded; and Moore was placed at the head of about thirty thousand men, to be used in the north of Spain, conjointly with the Spanish forces. Had the Duke of York been allowed a free hand, Moore might have had sixty thousand.

So strongly had Sir John been impressed, during the interview, with the lofty disinterestedness of the future Iron Duke, that it must have gratified him to get a letter from Wellesley containing these words: "I find that by the distribution I am placed under your command—than which nothing can be more agreeable to me. I will go to Coruña immediately, where I hope to find you."

It so happened that, after the Battle of Vimiera, Sir Arthur had written to Lord Castlereagh, asking to be ordered home, since he had been "too successful" with the Army "ever to serve with it in a subordinate position" satisfactorily. Which meant that he could not thus serve under those who were then placed over him. To serve under Sir John Moore wore plainly in his eyes a very different aspect.

Unfortunately he was kept in England for other purposes, and Moore had not the help of his presence during the coming campaign.







LIFE at Verdun went wearily on, week after week, month after month. Little happened there, to vary the dead monotony of existence.

Months, many and long, had dragged past since the day when Roy was hurried away to Bitche. No news of him had since been received. Letters had been written by Roy, but they had not reached his friends. Letters had been written by Colonel and Mrs. Baron, and money had been sent; but whether these had found their way to Roy was utterly uncertain. A few Bitche prisoners who had arrived knew nothing of him.

Lucille had come across Jean Paulet, and had done her best to enlist his help. But they had now almost ceased to look for Jean's appearance.

How Mrs. Baron would have lived through this prolonged suspense it is hard to say, but for the pressing need to forget herself in attendance upon Ivor. She had not in the past, with all her attractiveness, been unselfish; but trouble was teaching her to put self into the background.

Denham's complete breakdown after the march from Valenciennes was ascribed by his friends to the arrest of Roy; and no doubt that event had a hand in the matter. For many weeks he was in a state of more or less acute danger. They had their hands full—Lucille as well as the Barons. During the greater part of a month, he could seldom be left alone, night or day. Even when the worst was over, his recovery proved to be of a very slow and intermittent kind. Weakness seemed incurable.

It dawned upon Mrs. Baron one day how long a time had passed with no mention of Polly. Ivor was not given to talking about his own affairs; and much of this abstention might be due to his excessive languor; yet such persistent silence was hardly thus to be fully accounted for. If unable to write to Polly himself; he could have sent a message. Hitherto Mrs. Baron had avoided with him all distressing subjects. She began to wonder if this plan had been wise.

"If only Jean would come!" sighed Lucille.

"Yes," Mrs. Baron replied. "Den thinks a great deal of my boy. It keeps him back. I know that. But—there is Polly too."

Lucille's face clouded slightly.

"That old affair, does it continue still, madame? Mademoiselle Keene does not write. Captain Ivor does not ask after her. May it not be that they forget?"

"Denham does not forget." Mrs. Baron saw with clearness a danger for Lucille. No answer came. Lucille hastily left the room.

Denham had been ordered to take daily exercise; and he had just started for a turn, with the help of Colonel Baron's arm. Reaching the end of the street, they turned a corner and came upon Curtis. He was hurrying along, a troubled frown upon his face.

"Ivor!—taking a stroll. You don't look like getting on much. Colonel, can I have a word with you presently—merely a trifle—business, I mean," with a hasty self-correction.

"Anything pressing?" asked the Colonel.

"N—o. That is to say—"

"News from Bitche?" inquired Ivor. Curtis, taken by surprise, faltered. "I thought so. What is it?"

"I assure you—nothing definite as to Roy." The suppressed agitation in Curtis's manner hardly bore out his words.

"Anybody arrived from Bitche? Has Roy been seen?"

Curtis hesitated again. He was a bad hand at evasion.

"Whatever has been told you, we must hear the whole—and at once. No keeping back of anything, please."

Under a small tree, some paces off, was an unoccupied seat. Denham moved thither, the other two standing. "Now!" he said.

Colonel Baron had not spoken thus far. In reply to an appealing glance, he muttered, "Yes; no use! You have said too much. Tell the whole." And Curtis obeyed.

The tale which he had to repeat was not new in kind, though perhaps worse than aught which had yet reached their ears. He gave it briefly, making as little as might be of facts which could not be softened down. It was a story which readers of this book already know—about a party of young fellows, chiefly middies, who sought to escape from Bitche over the high outer wall. A French officer of rank, who heard of the project, had kept watch till it neared completion. Then, at the critical moment, he had cut through the rope on which the lads hung; by which brutal deed many of them had been killed on the spot, many others severely hurt.

Colonel Baron's lips were compressed, and his look was stern. Ivor heard with outward quietness.

"Was Roy one of them?"

"They don't know. They can't say. I told you, I have no certain news of Roy."

"No. But you have some reason to suppose that he might have been one of the party."

Curtis hesitated again. "He—one of the men—did hear a report. They were only a night or two at Bitche, in the great dungeon, some time after this happened. It was said that Roy had been there—up to the day when the escape was attempted. And after that—"

"After that—?"

"Roy had disappeared. As well as the midshipmen."

Dead silence followed. Denham was the first to speak.

"No certainty—either way. This must not reach Mrs. Baron. Take care that it does not come to her ears."

"It will be all over Verdun in a day." Colonel Baron spoke in a gloomy tone. "But perhaps—if I warn friends—"

"Go at once—both of you. Never mind me. For Heaven's sake, keep it from her, at least till we know the truth," urged Ivor passionately.

Colonel Baron insisted on giving him an arm as far as the house; after which he and Curtis went off together, and Denham dragged himself slowly upstairs. Lucille was gone out; and Mrs. Baron came to meet him. "My dear Den—how ill you look! What made you go so far?"

Ivor was past speaking, and she busied herself for some minutes, bathing his brow, till he could murmur, "I'm a trouble to everybody."

"One does not talk of trouble when people are—what you are to us."

He could not smile, thinking of that which might have come to Roy.

"I wish I could see you a little stronger. Such a short turn ought not to knock you up like this. Lucille says you are kept back by the suspense as to my boy. Is that true?" She spoke steadily, for trouble long-continued had taught the once spoilt wife self-control.

Denham's hand closed on hers silently.

"You must not be too anxious. I think it shows a want of trust. I try hard not to be so myself. My boy is in God's hands, and He will not fail us. I do believe our prayers will be heard—and Roy be taken care of."

"Such trust—cannot be thrown away!"

"Lucille still hopes to hear from Jean."


"Den, I want to ask you something else. Are you worrying yourself about getting so few letters from home? From Polly, I mean. I don't think you need. We know how often she may have written, and not a single letter reach us."

Denham would not refuse the subject. Anything at that moment was better than questions as to Roy. A slight movement checked her.

"No," he said very low. "I heard, while at Valenciennes. That is—at an end."

"Not—you and Polly! You do not mean that she will not wait!"

"She is so young. It could not be the same to her—as to—"

"But you do not know this for a certainty."

"She was engaged—months ago—to Captain Peirce."

Mrs. Baron understood now, only too well, the change in Ivor's looks on his return to Verdun, the dangerous illness, and the tardy convalescence.

"And—that broke you down."

"I suppose it helped."

"Did Polly herself write?"

"No. A friend."

"But not Polly! May it not be a mistake?"

"I am afraid not. The authority was good."

"You would have waited twenty years for her?" Scalding tears were in Mrs. Baron's eyes.


"Den, I don't know how to believe it."

"I am glad to have told you. It is right that you should know. But after this—I cannot talk of her—even to you."

Yet it might be that he was conscious of relief at having spoken. He did his best presently to seem more cheerful.

An hour later Colonel Baron returned; and two minutes after Lucille, who had been out, threw open the door.

"At last! At last!" she cried, joyously clapping her hands. "Ah, Madame,—good news at last! Jean is come, to tell us of Roy. Ah, the good man,—is he not good? He comes to say that Roy is escaped—Roy is safe—Roy is gone to England. Entrez! Entrez! Ah, come, Monsieur, and tell the news."

Mrs. Baron cried out in startled tones, while the Colonel's overcast brow was wondrously lightened, and Denham sprang to his feet with almost the energy of old days.

"Oui, oui, Monsieur—grâce à Dieu—it is good news that I have the happiness to bring. Monsieur is no longer in that frightful Bitche. He is by now, I sincerely hope, safe in his own country. Oui, Monsieur, I travelled with him, and I stayed with him till he left France—in an English vessel bound for England. It was long waiting for a vessel, but the opportunity came at last. And I have returned, as I promised cette bonne demoiselle that I would assuredly do. I have found my way to Verdun, to set the hearts of monsieur's friends at rest—the heart of Madame sa Mère, and of Monsieur son Père, and of Monsieur le Capitaine. I grieve to see Monsieur still si malade. But Monsieur Roy is safe—out of reach of l'Empéreur."

Jean had to stop, for Lucille was crying; and Mrs. Baron was clinging to her husband, overcome by the very joy of relief; and the Colonel could only choke when he tried to speak; and Denham, no less voiceless, had grasped Jean's hand in gratitude.

"Mais, Monsieur—mais, Madame—mais, Mademoiselle —I have done nothing, truly nothing at all. Save that which cette bonne demoiselle desired me to do. And truly, for the matter of thanks, that which ces messieurs did in the past for me and my mother can never be forgotten."

Then Jean's voice failed him too.







"WHAT wouldn't Den give to be here?" murmured Roy.

He stood in the splendid Plaza of the fine old Spanish town, Salamanca. It was an enormous square, perhaps hardly to be outdone in Europe as to size, having been built to hold as many as twenty thousand people, on the occasion of a great bull-fight. On one side stood the buildings devoted to municipal functions, and around ran an arcade formed of nearly one hundred arches.

Salamanca had been named as the rendezvous for the British Army, coming in detachments and by different routes from Portugal. During the last fortnight one body of men after another had arrived, all full of life and energy, all burning to meet the foe.

This was the twenty-fifth of November, exactly two months from the date of the despatch sent by British Ministers, appointing Sir John Commander of the Forces in the Peninsula. Despatches in those days travelled slowly; and Moore had been terribly hampered. There was no organised Army Transport. There was no regular Intelligence Department. By far the greater number of his officers, however ardent in spirit they might be, had seen no active service. His Army, though it included some of the most splendid regiments in Europe, trained by himself in earlier years at Shorncliffe, included also large numbers of raw recruits, the latter having to be, almost in the face of the enemy, "drilled and rattled" into shape.

Yet, within three weeks of receiving the news of his appointment, Moore with his staff left Lisbon.

High hopes had been felt, resting partly on confident reports of Spanish enthusiasm and preparedness. Sixty or seventy thousand soldiers, it was said, under three Spanish Generals, burning with ardour to extinguish the French, waited to join the British Army, sent to their aid. The French, few in number and depressed in spirit, would be nowhere before these valiant warriors.

But such hopes as depended on Spanish valour were already waxing dim. News had filtered round to Salamanca of advancing French, and of retiring Spaniards. Two of the Spanish Generals, with their forces, had beaten a hasty retreat. The third, under Castanos, might or might not follow suit. If he too failed, the British Army would find itself in serious straits, and be compelled to retreat also.

No such thought was in the mind of Roy Baron, or of his brother-officers. They were eager to come face to face with the enemy.

It was over ten days since Roy had reached Salamanca, and already he felt at home there. Many changes in his short life had made ready adaptation to fresh surroundings an easy matter.

The great Plaza was full of people—British soldiers marching past, Spanish sightseers gazing. Every soldier wore a red cockade, in compliment to the nation he had come to help. Banners fluttered gaily, and the bracing wintry air was stirred by the incessant throb of drums. As one band died away, another drew near.

Drilling and marching were the order of the day. The Army had to be welded into shape; and not an hour was wasted. Subalterns, as well as officers of higher grades, were kept busy.

Roy, finding himself off duty for a short time, had wandered into the great square, to see what was going on, and to add his voice in lusty welcome to the latest arrived regiment. He stood close to one of the Corinthian columns, by which the arches were upborne. A thought of Verdun had come to him, and a recollection of Denham. What would not Den have given to be with them?

"Hallo, Roy!"

Roy spoke out impulsively the idea uppermost in his mind, as Jack and his cousin, Bob Monke, walked up.

"I say, Jack—if Den were but here!"

Jack made a sound of commiseration.

"I often think how lucky it was I knocked down that wretched bust, and got myself sent to Bitche. But for that—why, I might be kicking up my heels at Verdun, to this very day. Odd!—when one comes to think!—it seemed about the worst thing which could have happened to me. One never does know at the time. I know I wouldn't undo it all now."

Roy was young, but he lived in a moralising age.

Jack nodded general assent. "Where have you been? We couldn't find you."

"Took a look at the cathedral. It's a jolly fine building. Any number of centuries old."

"There's Napier. I want a word with him."

Jack dashed off towards an aide-de-camp of Sir John, Captain George Napier, one of a gallant trio of brothers, all present in this expedition. Roy did not follow. Bob Monke was remarking, in his dreamy voice,—"Men in uncommonly good condition."

"Fit for anything!" agreed Roy.

"No letters from home, I suppose."


"Good news of your sister?" A slight flush came to the young fellow's cheek.

"Molly is all right. She asks me to remember her to you."

Jack came back at a swinging pace. "Look out—here comes the General!"

A stir took place, every face turning in one direction, as Moore on a spirited charger rode slowly through the square. His glance seemed to be everywhere; and he managed his steed with the unconscious ease of a perfect rider.

"Looks harassed," murmured Jack.

"He looks—the grandest fellow that ever lived," uttered Bob.

"My dear boy, you won't find any man in the Army to contradict that. If you're anxious to get up an enlivening discussion, try some other topic."

"What I want to know is—when are we to be joined by the Spanish, and have a go at the French?" demanded Roy, earnestly following Moore with his gaze.

"Everybody else wants to know precisely the same. Blake and Romana haven't proved 'emselves good for much. Question now is—what of Castanos?"

This question was pressing heavily on Sir John Moore. Though as yet he did not and could not know the enormous size of the French Army then within the borders of Spain, he did know that it certainly more than trebled the small British force under his own control. Working side by side with fifty thousand or more good Spanish soldiers, he might hope to do much. But if those fifty thousand should prove themselves of no more use than a bundle of rotten sticks, Salamanca was no place for his little Army.

Sir John was a systematically early riser. Next morning, as usual, he was up between three and four o'clock. He lighted the fire with his own hands, after his habit, from a lamp kept burning in his room; and before turning to business, he wrote a confidential letter to one of his brothers. As a Commander he was exceedingly reserved, seldom revealing what he knew or what he intended to do, sooner than was necessary. It might be that a craving for sympathy had come over him, in the weight of his lonely responsibilities. Whatever he said would be safe with his own people.

"Upon entering Spain," he wrote, "I have found affairs in a very different state from what I expected, or from what they are thought to be in England. I am in a scrape, from which God knows how I am to extricate myself. But instead of Salamanca, this Army should have been assembled at Seville." And, at the close of a full and clear statement of affairs, he continued: "I understand all is fear and confusion at Madrid. Tell James it is difficult to judge at a distance. The Spaniards have not shown themselves a wise or a provident people. Their wisdom is not a wisdom of action; but still they are a fine people; a character of their own quite distinct from other nations; and much might have been done with them. Perhaps they may rouse again. Pray for me that I may make right decisions; if I make bad ones, it will not be for want of consideration. I sleep little. It is now only five in the morning, and I have concluded, since I got up, this long letter."

The whole letter was very patient and calm; and especially touching were those simple words—"Pray for me!"—from a man so intensely reticent on religious subjects as Sir John. If words were needed to show what he was, beside the plain utterance of such a character and such a life as his, these alone would serve to make it abundantly clear that silence on his part meant neither lack of thought nor lack of feeling.

Two days later came the news that Castanos had been routed by the French. It was evident that the so-called "retirement" of the other Spanish generals had been, in each case, a complete defeat.

Moore's little force now stood alone, in the heart of what had become practically an enemy's country. The order went forth—given with what pain and reluctance those knew who knew Moore—to prepare for retreat. Yet still he held on, delaying day after day. He would not take the actual step until it had become a necessity.







"THEY say so!" observed Jack.

"Who do?"

"Those two Spanish fellows that came into camp yesterday—the two generals. I've not seen 'em, but plenty of others have. They vow and declare that Castanos wasn't routed by any manner of means. Can't of course deny the fact of some slight reverses; but they have it that the spirit of Spain is unbroken. And they beg and beseech that Moore will give 'em another chance—not retreat to Portugal, and leave 'em to their fate."

"Will he?" demanded Roy breathlessly.

"Can't tell. Moore never speaks till he means to act. Good news for us all, if he does. I haven't overmuch faith in Spanish enthusiasm. Don't want the Spaniards to bolster us up, though. Twenty-four thousand British are equal any day to thirty or forty thousand French. But what can be done, Sir John will do."

"Just for once to get within reach of Soult, and have at him!" fervently uttered Roy. "Hallo, there's Bob coming full tilt."

"Something in the wind. Bob doesn't go that pace for nothing."

Full tilt indeed came Bob Monke, waving his cap frantically. Jack and Roy were standing on the great Salamanca bridge, formed of twenty-six arches, many of which dated back to Roman days. The strong river flowed below; and Roy had been leaning over as they talked, gazing into the water. Now he stood watching Bob's approach.

"What does he say?" as a shout was borne on the breeze. They were near the centre of the bridge, which measures five hundred feet from end to end, and Bob was distant still; but as he drew near, his fair face was seen to be flushed with excitement, and words became distinguishable.

"Hurrah! Order to advance! Retreat countermanded! Hurrah!"

"Hurrah!" shouted Roy, and three caps went up together.

Then they dashed into camp to learn particulars. Not much could be gathered as yet, beyond the bare fact that an immediate advance was commanded. With light-hearted enthusiasm, the whole Army responded. Moore, upon whom the full weight of responsibility rested, could scarcely be light of heart. He knew too well what this move might mean.

When news was first received of the complete collapse of the Spaniards, he had planned a retreat to Portugal, there to await reinforcements from England. But heavy pressure was brought to bear upon him. And as one assurance after another was given, from various quarters, that the Spaniards were still in the mood to fight, with vehement urging that he would not forsake the unfortunate people whom he had come to help, he at length resolved to give them one more opportunity to show themselves men.

A daring conception had come to his mind, and it was promptly carried out. Instead of retiring at once to a position of safety, he would first make a bold swoop upon Soult's Army, thus threatening the line of Napoleon's communications with France. And his object in so doing was, simply and definitely, by drawing the weight of the Conqueror's fury upon himself and his small British force, to relieve the fearful pressure upon the southern provinces of Spain.

It was a startling and a hazardous step. In the hand of any less brilliant and experienced Commander, it might have ended in an awful disaster—in a modern Thermopylae on a huge scale—in the wholesale destruction of the British force.

Napoleon had expected, as a matter of course, that Moore would retreat so soon as the Spanish armies melted away. What else could he do? Napoleon had at this date within the borders of Spain 330,000 soldiers, 60,000 horses, and 200 pieces of field artillery. Moore had with him less than 24,000 soldiers, and perhaps another 10,000 in Portugal, inclusive of 4000 in hospital.

Then, to Napoleon's unbounded amazement, he learnt—getting the news on December 2—that, in place of retreating, the puny British force was boldly advancing towards the Douro.

The Emperor's exclamation, as heard by Marshal Ney, and afterwards repeated by him to Major Charles Napier, was—

"Moore is the only General now fit to contend with me! I shall advance against him in person."

Buonaparte seldom did things by halves, and he acted with even more than his accustomed energy.

The force and genius of this English Commander, by whom he was so daringly opposed, had suddenly burst upon him; and he at once knew that no common effort on his own part would secure him the victory.

Without an hour's delay, orders went forth to check the southward march of his columns, and to pour fifty thousand men in a torrent across the snowy Guadarrama hills, that they might cut off the retreat of Moore to the coast.

His object was to place the small English force between the great Army of the south and the French corps under Soult,—the latter consisting of about thirty thousand men. That done, the crushing of the British Army would be a mere matter of detail. At any moment Napoleon could supplement his first fifty thousand with a hundred thousand more.

But this fierce northward rush of Napoleon was exactly what Moore had meant to bring about. He had drawn away the main body of the French from the tortured south; he had given the Spaniards a breathing-space in which to rally, if they would, for fresh resistance; and he had for the moment saved Portugal from desperate peril. He could do no more.

Twenty-three thousand men, with eight or ten thousand more out of reach, opposed to seventy or eighty thousand, with a hundred thousand more within reach! Two thousand cavalry pitted against six or eight times their own number! A collie-dog snapping at a Bengal tiger, would be no inapt picture of Moore's desperate daring.

When news arrived of Napoleon's rush to cut off his communications with Portugal, Moore was within twenty-four hours of falling upon Soult, beyond the river Carrion. One sharp brush had already taken place with the enemy—seven hundred French cavalry being routed by four hundred English hussars. Every man in the Army was passionately eager to meet the foe.

Moore, however, did not hesitate. The work intended by his spirited advance was done. Nothing remained but to fall steadily back before overwhelming odds.

All those bright expectations, with which he had started on this expedition, had been dashed to the ground. In every direction he had met with indifference and opposition, where he ought to have found grateful co-operation. The Spanish forces had proved themselves worthless.

And to the unutterable disappointment of officers and men, the forward march was countermanded.

"Retreat, Jack! Now! When one day more would bring us up with Soult!"

How could Roy know, how could other murmuring spirits around him know, that which Moore alone realised—that one day more of advance would be simply playing into Napoleon's hands, would bring about that which the tyrant of Europe most ardently desired—the complete annihilation of the small British army?

There was indeed not a moment to be lost. By forced marches and the utmost expedition the first and most perilous stage was done. The river Esla was crossed; and not too soon. Napoleon, pushing furiously forward, bent heart and soul on getting to Benevente before the English, found himself twelve hours too late. Moore had precisely reckoned his time, and had neatly baffled Europe's Conqueror.

A few days later, on the first of January, Napoleon had a second dire mortification. He reached Astorga, for which he had aimed—again straining every nerve, with the hope of cutting off Moore's retreat,—and, as at the Esla, he was once more a day too late. A second time Moore had quietly slipped away out of his grasp.

While at Astorga he heard of a fresh alliance between Russia and Austria, and of a meditated attack upon France during his absence. The crushing of Spain, delayed by Moore, had to be put off. Napoleon, with a body of troops, hurried back to Paris. But he left Soult and Ney in command of sixty or seventy thousand men in two columns, the one to attack Moore in rear, the other to take him in flank, while thousands scattered about the country were advancing to support them.

Enough, in all conscience, one would imagine, to deal with a retreating force of less than twenty-four thousand!







WITH almost superhuman energy the greatest General of that day had exerted himself to bring up such a force, that the utter destruction of the British might be a thing assured. In the course of ten days, and in the bitterest wintry weather, he had marched fifty thousand soldiers over snow-clad mountains a distance of two hundred miles, only to find his stupendous efforts fruitless.

Now, all that Moore could hope to do was to save his little Army from being crushed out of existence. To that aim he buckled his powers, with unfaltering resolution. As William Napier wrote in after years, "The inspiring hopes of triumph disappeared, but the austerer glory of suffering remained, and with a firm heart he accepted that gift."

By the greater number in Moore's force this long ten days' retreat to the coast had to be done on foot.

There were steep mountains to be climbed, there were deep valleys to be passed, there were rapid rivers to be crossed; while an overwhelming and confident Army, accustomed to unvarying success—an Army which had twice failed by only twelve hours to cut them off from every hope of escape—pressed with ever-growing fierceness upon the British rearguard.

It was mid-winter, and snow lay upon the ground. The days were short, the nights were bitter. Heavy ice-cold rain fell often. Food was scanty; shelter was hard to find; and both officers and men slept upon the cold ground. The Spanish Army, contrary to Moore's earnest request, blundered into the way of the retreating force, eating up the provisions on which the English depended, and blocking the roads with carts and mules.

In that furious race between the British and the French, first for Benevente, next for Astorga, not an hour could be lost. At all costs they had to press forward.

Hour after hour, oftentimes by night, the march continued, through rain, or snow, or fog; up steep and slippery ascents, or down sharp depths where foothold could hardly be found. On and on the men stumbled, hungry, thirsty, weary, half asleep, not a few shoeless and lame, many a one dropping through weakness by the roadside, never to rise again.

In the van and in the centre of the Army some confusion reigned. But in the reserve, where Moore was usually to be found, riding beside his friend, General Paget, perfect discipline was maintained. All there knew themselves to be under the eyes of their Commander, and his presence, together with the attacks of the enemy, kept them up to the mark. Again and again, and yet again, the French advanced guards were charged and driven back.

The regiment to which belonged Jack, Roy, and Bob was in the Reserve, to the no small delight of all three.

Roy Baron had passed through some strange experiences in his short life. He would not easily forget this last experience—this steady, disheartening, rearwards tramp, with Napoleon's trained battalions ever "thundering" behind them.

He would not soon forget the bitter snowy weather, the sleet and hail, the fogs and winds, the mountain heights, the exposed nights, the dogged pluck and determination shown by the rearguard, the ceaseless care and watchfulness of Moore, the invincible resolution of this man, who by sheer force of will held the whole Army together, and never at the worst allowed the retreat for one moment to become a flight.

Not that Roy was disheartened or depressed. Far from it. He was young and strong and full of vigour. The very hardships of the retreat seemed to him far lighter than those of that miserable march, which he could recall, from Verdun to Bitche. For then he was handcuffed, and felt himself treated with cruel injustice and tyranny. Now he was fighting for his country; he was in the midst of friends; and not a day passed without a sight of the Commander, upon whom he looked with a passionate admiration and love.

He hated the fact of having to retire; but at all times it took a good deal to lower Roy's buoyant spirits. And the men of the Reserve had too much hard fighting on hand to admit of their growing down-hearted. Any one of them might any day chance to win a smile of commendation from Moore. That was worth fighting for, worth bearing anything for!

Roy soon learnt what it was to be under fire. If at first the experience was to him, as to most men, unpleasant, he grew quickly used to it. Before long he had the supreme joy of being personally praised by the General for dashing courage. It seemed to Roy that day that life lacked nothing.

He managed to start a letter to Molly, in readiness for the first chance of getting it off. A thought had come to him that if—if something should happen, which might happen to him as to any other soldier, she would be glad that he had written once more to his twin. So he set to work when a spare half-hour could be found.

"Janʸ 1, 1809."

   "MY DEAR MOLLY,—Jack thinks I may be able soon to send a letter on with despatches from Headquarters, and I wᵈ fain have one ready. So ends the old year—truly an eventful year to me—and so begins the new year. Jack and Bob and I keep well. There is much that I cᵈ tell you, but have not time. An event which took place two or three days ago may, however, be of interest to you."

   "We of the Reserve marched at daybreak for La Banessa, and Paget, as usual, brought up the rear. That's Lord Paget, by the bye, who commands the cavalry of the rearguard, not Brigadier-General Paget, who commands the whole Reserve. At nine o'clock the enemy was seen to be examining a ford near to the bridge across the Esla, which had been blown up; and the next thing, six hundred of Napoleon's Imperial Guard came over."

   "Only a small body of the British piquet was there to oppose 'em, and they held on gallantly, but were forced back inch by inch, fighting hard. The English and French squadrons charged one another by turns; and when our men were joined by a few of the 3rd Dragoons, they all went at the enemy with such Desperate Valour as to break through their front squadron, and to be surrounded by the French. Nothing daunted, they charged back as fiercely, and broke through again, and so got 'emselves quick out of that scrape."

   "Then they rallied and formed up anew, and made another charge, supported by the 10th Hussars. The French bolted before ever they cᵈ get up with 'em, and fled through the river, hard pressed by our brave fellows. A lot of prisoners were taken, and among 'em is Marshal Lefébre Desnouettes, Duke of Dantzic—I say, doesn't Boney love dukes!—commander of the Imperial Guard. Pretty big haul, that!"

   "No question but the French fought with great valour, as was to be expected. General Lefébre says this same Guard at Austerlitz sent thirty thousand Russians flying. They didn't send our dragoons flying yesterday, though. 'Twas just about the other way."

   "And now for what you and Polly will like best to hear."

   "Lefébre was awfully down in the mouth at being taken prisoner, and at his men being beaten back. He counts himself a ruined man, for, says he, 'Buonaparte never forgives the unfortunate.' Sir John was all kindness to the poor chap. Lefébre had a slight wound in the head; and the first thing that Sir John did was not only to try his best to comfort him, but to send for water, and with his own hands to wash the wound! Can't you picture the way it was done? Wasn't it like Moore?"

   "Well, and it so happened that Jack was in luck, having been asked to dine at the General's. So he came in for a scene which, I shᵈ conjecture, has scarce been matched since the days of the Black Prince."

   "Just before they took their seats, Sir John turned to the French General, who had appeared in a blazing uniform, and asked him, was there anything he wanted? And Lefébre said never a word, but looked down to where his sword ought to have been, that was taken away by the private who made him surrender. Then he looked up at Sir John in a meaning way."

   "In one instant Moore had unbuckled his own sword—'twas a fine Eastern scimitar—and had given it to Lefébre. I wish you cᵈ have heard Jack and Captain Napier describe it all—the graceful way in which the thing was done, and, beyond everything, the wonderful look of kindness and 'soldier-like sympathy' on Sir John's face. Napier tried to describe it to me, and finished off with 'It was perfectly beautiful! But when does Moore ever do anything that is not perfect?'"

   "Take good heed, mind you, that no word of this goes beyond yourselves, and above all on no account risk that it shᵈ find its way into print. For yourselves 'tis a tale worth remembering of one who is the very Flower of Chivalry in modern days."

   "George Napier is, as Polly knows, Jack's friend, aide-de-camp to Sir John, and brother to Major Charles Napier of the 50th, and to William Napier of the 43rd."







ON January the 5th, at Constantino, much fighting took place, and in the evening a heavy trouble fell upon Roy and Bob.

Jack was missing!

All searching failed to show where he was; all inquiries were without result.

Among the sick and wounded went Roy and Bob together, and they went in vain. On the field amid the slain, accompanied by Jack's friend, George Napier, they hunted long in the moonlight, but with no success. As they turned up face after face of those who had fallen, finding not Jack's familiar features, a low-breathed "Thank God!" again and again escaped Roy. The only explanation seemed to be that Jack had been taken prisoner.

At Lugo the whole army was halted. The march thither had been very severe, through deep mud and pelting rain, with great fatigue and suffering. Collision here again came about between the English and the French; and Moore in person led his troops, sending the enemy flying, and handling them as they fled in a manner not to be quickly forgotten.

Then, during a two days' pause, he challenged the French to battle; and hardly was his intention known before the British Army presented, as by magic, a totally changed look. Stragglers came hurrying in; the ranks were filled up; and weary, footsore, shoeless, half-starved men were one and all in the highest spirits, eager for a fight.

But though the English were by this time reduced to only nineteen thousand—three thousand having gone by another route to Vigo, and many having fallen out by the way—yet Soult with his far superior numbers did not respond. Lack of provisions made it impossible for Moore to delay longer; and however willing he was to fight, he would not himself force a battle.

While in the neighbourhood of Lugo, Roy found time to add a few words to his unfinished letter:—

   "Jan. 7th, near Lugo.—We had a sharp brush with the enemy; and I am sorely put about, for Jack has vanished. When last I set eyes on him he was well in advance of his company, waving his sword, and shouting to us to come on. And come on we did, and put the enemy to rout. Jack may have fallen into their hands. Bob and I, with Napier, searched in every direction, both among those who were wounded and those that had been killed. But, thank God! Jack was not among them. He must, therefore, surely be prisoner. This sheet I will not send off, even should opportunity occur, until I can know more as to Jack. I would not awake Polly's fears for nought; and it may be that he will even yet turn up, unharmed."

Roy wrote these words by the light of a small lamp, lying flat upon the ground, in a small hut which he and Bob occupied while at Lugo. Some slight movement, as of one coming in, made him glance up with a spring of hope. It might be only Bob, but he still thought first of Jack.

A tall cloaked figure quietly entered. Roy leaped to his feet as if he had had an electric shock, his bewildered gaze encountering the last face that he would at that moment have expected to see. It was a face pale, tried, and stern, with the dark steadfast eyes which never yet had flinched before life's battles. They did not flinch now, meeting this heaviest of all trials to one of Moore's temperament—having to retire before his Country's foes.

The last three years had brought sharp discipline to John Moore. Strain had followed strain, disappointment had followed disappointment; while through all his dauntless courage had never failed, his unconquerable spirit had risen superior to every opposition. But the sufferings of his men upon this march went to his very heart; and the partial loss of discipline, in a force of which he had been so justly proud, cut him to the quick. Despite the worst, he was not calm only, but serene. Yet now and again, as at this moment, a shadow of deep though fleeting sadness would fall upon him. Something in that face appealed keenly to the young Ensign's sympathies.

Then, in a flash, dread seized upon Roy. What might this call portend? Moore could rebuke his subordinates scathingly, crushingly, when necessity arose. Roy felt that death would be far preferable to any words of stern reproof from those lips. But he was distinctly not conscious of having failed in his duty. Could it perhaps mean—ill news of Jack?

Sir John glanced round before speaking.

"Not too luxurious quarters, Baron!" he remarked, and his smile lacked its usual brilliance.



Sir John glanced round before speaking.


"Good enough, sir," responded Roy, with the prompt cheerfulness which from the first had marked him out in Moore's eyes. "If only Captain Keene—"

"Ay. You are anxious about him!"

"Yes, sir; I've been able to find out nothing."

"So Napier tells me. As I was passing this way, I have looked in to set your mind at rest. He is prisoner."

Roy drew one hasty breath. Till that moment he had not realised how heavily the fear had weighed upon him of other than imprisonment. To know that Jack was still in the land of the living meant much. Jack had been very good to Roy.

"Two French prisoners brought in this afternoon have told us about him. His leg was wounded, and his right arm broken, and when helpless he was taken. Already, they say, he has been sent some distance beyond their lines."

"Thank you, sir," gratefully. "I'm glad to know. It might have been worse."

"You are writing home, perhaps? Make light of his wounds. I hope he is not in any danger."

"Yes, sir. I am writing to my sister—ready for a chance of sending it."

Moore stood for a few seconds lost in deep thought. Then, glancing up, he met the concerned gaze of Roy's frank grey eyes. Not frank only, not concerned only, but full of unmistakable boyish adoration. In response Moore's hand was laid upon Roy's arm, with one of those quick gestures of overflowing kindness which went far to enthral the hearts of those about him.

"I hear no report of you but what is good. Keep on as you have begun. You are treading worthily in Ivor's steps."

Roy's power of speech failed him, with something which went far beyond any ordinary joy. This—from Moore himself! Despite Jack's misfortunes, Roy's world grew instantly radiant.

Moore smiled again at the boy's look, yet he sighed. There were some in his force, and not young fellows only, of whom he could not have spoken in such terms,—some who gave the rein to bitter discontent at having to retreat, and who did not do their utmost to preserve discipline. But they were not in the Reserve.

"We may hear of Keene again before long. Give your letter to Napier, and it shall go with the first despatches that are sent on."

Then he was gone. Roy, after seeing him off, returned to his former position, and wrote for Molly's delight those priceless words, which never in after life could be forgotten by him. If only Denham might have known what Moore thought of "his friend Roy!"

One more brief entry was made in the same letter before it could be sent off:—

   "Jan. 10, Betanzos.—We came hither by a night-march from Lugo, thus evading the French, who would seem to have been somewhat awed by Sir John's fearless defiance of 'em at Lugo. For some hours our rearguard was not harassed as usual, and the enemy's advanced guard did not get up with us till twenty-four hours or more after our start. Since we left our camp-fires burning, they doubtless did not know till dawn that we had given them the slip. It may be, too, that after what had passed they were in no such vast hurry to follow."

The day after Roy had written these words Coruña was reached.

As they drew near to the coast, Moore, quitting his post with the Reserve, went forward, passing regiment after regiment, and anxiously scanning the distant sea for the transports which he hoped to find awaiting him.

But they were not there.

During the greater part of a fortnight he had been incessantly at work, conducting this most arduous retreat, bringing his Army through dangers and difficulties innumerable. Perpetual fighting had been the order of the day. Yet not once had the regiments of the Reserve, either horse or foot, been beaten; not once had the rearguard quailed.

Seventy or eighty thousand soldiers, trained veterans of Napoleon, at first under Napoleon himself, and then under two of his most experienced commanders, had striven hard to overtake Moore, to outflank him, to cut off his little force of twenty-three thousand men; but they had been baffled.

More than two hundred and fifty miles of rough country had been traversed in bleakest wintry weather; and the Army reached Coruña, somewhat lessened in numbers, it is true, yet absolutely unbroken.

Baggage had had to be abandoned or destroyed for lack of means to convey it further, and a few small cannon had had to be left behind for that same reason. But not one single British gun had been captured in fight; not one single standard or military trophy of any kind had been taken.







WELL might Moore cast anxious glances towards the harbour of Coruña, where the vessels from Vigo should have been. They had been delayed by contrary winds, and their failure to arrive in time was a most serious matter. The British Army, brought thus far in safety, would lie without the means of escape in a narrow trap, between Scylla and Charybdis, hemmed in by the pitiless ocean on one side, by the ever-increasing hordes of the enemy on the other.

With unfaltering courage he at once set himself to examine the position, assigning the troops to various quarters, some in the town of Coruña, some in villages hard by. A range of hills, three or four miles off, would have been the right line of defence; but Moore had not men enough to occupy it. He saw at once that, should he attempt to do so, the French might turn his flank and cut him off from embarkation.

That post of vantage had to be left to the foe. Moore was obliged to content himself with a lower ridge, nearer to the walls, which was with all speed put into a state of defence.

A short rest was given to the soldiers; new muskets and ammunition were-supplied; and the officers strenuously exerted themselves to restore discipline. But this was no longer difficult. When once the Army stood at bay, facing the foe, every trace of insubordination vanished.

So desperate did the condition of things seem to be for the English, with the transports not yet come, and with a greatly superior force occupying a greatly superior position, that, though Moore's heart never failed him, the hearts of some did sink at this juncture, even of brave men, high in rank.

Moore called no council of war; he asked no man's opinion. But certain of his Generals ventured to offer unsought advice. They put before him the extreme unlikelihood that they could long resist an enemy coming down upon them from the heights. They pictured the heavy loss of life which must result from any attempt to embark on the transports during such attacks. Then they suggested that, since affairs had reached so perilous a stage, it might be well to send a flag of truce to Soult, asking permission, on honourable terms, to depart unmolested.

Moore disdainfully flung the counsel from him, without an instant's parley. Capitulate! Never! If the French came on, let them come! He would fight to the last! The Generals bowed to his fiery decision, and said no more.

Coruña had been reached on the 11th of January, and all through the 12th Moore was hard at work, preparing for the battle which might be fought. Everything was thought of; every possible precaution was taken. He reviewed the troops, and by his own splendid confidence and dauntless air he breathed fresh energy into their jaded ranks.

Indomitable though he was, the strain of the last few weeks had told upon him heavily. At daybreak he was once more in the saddle, reconnoitering the enemy's camp, and visiting every part of his own; but before midday he came back to Headquarters, utterly exhausted.

Rest had become a necessity before he could do more; and for two hours prostration had the upper hand. Then he rallied, sat up, called for paper, and in his terse easy modern English, singularly free from the tricks of expression peculiar to his time, he wrote his last despatch.

Next day, the 14th, some cannonading took place; but the French did not move. They were still concentrating their forces, having suffered greatly, like the British, in those terrible marches.

In the evening, at last, the transports appeared; and all next day the embarkation of the sick and wounded, as well as of the cavalry, was going on. Around Coruña, Moore had found, cavalry could be of little use.

By noon on the 16th everything was in train. Unless they should be attacked by Soult, the whole British Army would be on board that night. Moore placed all arrangements for the embarkation in the hands of Colonel Anderson; and again he went off to review his troops, finding them in excellent order and in the highest spirits.

To a man they wished for nothing better than a battle. That question, however, was left to Soult for decision. No matter how intensely Moore himself might long for a victory over the enemy, he still would not make a first move. He knew well that, in the then condition of Spain, even a battle won could do little practical good to the cause in hand. It might cover his name with glory. But from first to last a higher aim than glory for self had been before Moore's eyes.

Between fourteen and fifteen thousand infantry now remained on land, to oppose the twenty thousand already entrenched on the opposite heights; and further French reinforcements were constantly arriving. Moore's cannon were far inferior to those of the French, alike in number and in weight of metal. The French guns, moreover, dominated the English position.

At two o'clock, as Moore was on his way to the outposts, a messenger came from General Hope, to inform him that the enemy "was getting under arms;" and radiant delight glowed in his eyes when he found that a battle was to be forced upon him. He spoke his gladness, regretting only that the lateness of the hour, upon a short winter's day, would hardly leave him time to make the most of that victory which he expected to win.

Then he spurred away, full gallop, to the field. Soon the roar of cannon told that action was begun; and in a little while, along the whole front, both armies were hotly engaged.

Upon the main ridge of the English position Moore had placed two divisions, Baird's on the right, Hope's on the left. A third division, that of Fraser, occupied high ground well in rear of the right, to prevent any possibility of the French making their way to Coruña by a road which ran in that direction, and so cutting off the British force from the town.

Paget's division was held in reserve behind the ridge; and here for a while Roy chafed impatiently, fearing to have no share in the fighting that day. Even had it been so, the Reserve would have had small cause to complain, since they had borne the lion's share of danger during the retreat. But their turn was to come.

The first and heaviest brunt of the onset fell upon Baird's division, more especially upon the 4th Regiment, the 50th, which was commanded by Charles Napier and Charles Stanhope, and the 42nd Highlanders.

With their usual vehement swiftness the French advanced in separate columns against the right, the left, and the centre of the British line; while another powerful column sought to pass, as Moore had foreseen, down the valley which lay between Baird's and Fraser's divisions, towards Coruña; and yet a fifth column waited in reserve.

But the peril of that fourth column's advance was no sooner seen than it was met. The right wing of the 4th British Regiment, on the extreme right of the ridge, was promptly thrown back, so as to take in flank the adventurous French column which was seeking thus boldly to turn the English position; and into the column was poured a crushing fire.

Moore, alert, cool, intent, watching every movement, called out, "That was exactly what I wanted to be done!"

Nor was this all. General Paget, with his Reserve, advanced upon the column, and doubled it completely up.

Roy had his chance then, and he used it. His was the honour of bearing the King's Colour belonging to his regiment. The Royal and the Regimental Colours are, as we know, always consecrated with religious ceremony at the time of presentation; and they are looked upon with the most intense pride and veneration by every British soldier. Not least were they so regarded by Roy Baron.

Right proudly he carried his Royal burden, exposing himself with all that reckless gallantry which is natural to the British officer. He pressed forward with an energy which carried him well to the front, even in that rushing tide of resolute men. They clashed with the solid column in fierce shock; and by "the conquering violence" of Paget's charge, the French, already shaken by the heavy flanking fire they had received, were brought to a standstill. They began to waver, to turn, and to retreat; and the retreat soon quickened into flight.

Yet the fighting continued; and as the British still swept like a whirlwind onward, groups of Frenchmen would turn and resist, vainly striving to stem that irresistible Anglo-Saxon torrent.

Roy found himself and his charge an object of especial attack by some half-dozen furious Frenchmen, maddened to be once again, as through the fortnight past, repelled by this invincible foe. All around Roy were fighting hard. He gripped the staff with his left hand, and guarded it valiantly, using his sword right and left to very good purpose. Mere lad though he was, more than one of the enemy went down before those vigorous thrusts.

With the vain hope of capturing the Colour, a French officer rode into the mêlée, and his sabre descended in one swift sweep. Roy saw the coming stroke, but his guard was only in time to ward off the blow aimed at his head.

The blade slashed deep into his right arm, near the shoulder, and Roy's sword fell from powerless fingers.

By this time a dozen comrades had closed round the Colour, and a dozen British swords and bayonets were at work. The French officer paid for his gallantry with his life. Roy was again pressing onward, hardly realising that he was wounded, till he found a crimson stream flowing over him, and felt his knees falter with a sense of overpowering weakness.

"Go back, Baron. You've done bravely," the Colonel's voice said at his side, in tones of approval. "Sergeant Grey will take the colour."

Roy tried to say cheerily, "No, sir, it's nothing—I'm all right—" but the words somehow refused to come, and the battlefield seemed to be receding to a vast distance. He was vaguely conscious that his precious burden had gone into somebody else's hands, and that the regiment had passed on at the double, leaving him behind. Then he came out of a mist, his ears buzzing, and his head going round.

For a moment he fancied himself back in a little French cottage, deep in a wood, with Jean Paulet by his side. "Thank you, Jean—I'm all right," he said faintly.

But the roar of cannon, the rattle of musketry, the shouts of charging soldiers, dispersed that dream. He opened his eyes to find himself lying on the ground. One of his men, Private Foster, was busily fastening a rough-and-ready bandage round his arm.

"Think you'll do now, sir? It don't bleed so much. Only a flesh wound, but it's gone pretty deep."

"O I'm all right." Roy managed this time to say the words clearly. "I wish I could have kept up with them. Are you hurt?"

"Only my foot, sir. The Colonel told me I was to look after you. He said you was to go to the town."

Roy was beginning to be aware of pretty sharp pain in the slashed arm. It was his first wound, and he might be excused for certain sick sensations, having fought as pluckily as an Englishman may. He pulled himself to a sitting posture, and looked round. The regiments of the Reserve were by this time far ahead, literally sweeping the whole valley clear of the shattered remnants, which but a short space back had formed a powerful column.

Roy waved his cap over his head with his left hand, and gave vent to a hearty though rather faint "Hurrah!"

"I think I can walk now all right," he said. "Don't mind about me, Foster. Your foot is bad."

"I can hobble a bit, sir. I'd sooner see you on your way. You'd maybe get the bandage wrong, and set it bleeding afresh." Roy's men were not a little fond of him.

And the two set off together on a long and painful trudge to Coruña.

Meanwhile, Sir John Moore, satisfied that all would go well in the valley, turned his attention elsewhere.

The French attack was directed with greatest force against the three regiments already named as posted upon the right of the ridge. Their piquets, which occupied the little village of Elvina beyond the ridge, were driven in by the force of the enemy's onset, and Elvina for a time fell into the hands of the French.

This could not be allowed, and orders were given that the 42nd and the 50th should expel the foe from the village. Moore, always to be found at the point of greatest danger, was at hand. His voice could now be heard to ring out in his characteristic challenge—

"Highlanders—remember Egypt!"

Like greyhounds from the leash, in response to those beloved tones, they leaped to the charge, carrying everything before them. Moore, in his passionate ardour, charged with them, and he told the men that he was "well pleased" with their conduct.

Before Moore appeared, the officers and men of the 50th Regiment—ordered to advance with the 42nd—had been eagerly looking out for him, realising that this would be the crux of the English position, and feeling one and all that "under him they could not be beaten—" that, if only Moore were present, victory was absolutely secure. "Where is he? Where is the General?" was heard in restless murmurs along the line.

As they asked the question he came, bearing down upon them at headlong speed on his cream-coloured charger, a fiery animal, with flying black mane and tail tossed in the breeze. The force with which Sir John reined in flung him forward almost upon the horse's neck, while his head was thrown back, and he examined the enemy with a gaze of such extraordinary and searching intensity, that Charles Napier, in after years, seeking to picture the scene, could find no language with which he might fitly describe that look.

Without a word Moore then galloped off, but he soon returned; and hereabouts it was that, as he was speaking to Major Napier, a round shot from the heavy French guns on the height struck the ground between them.

Both horses swerved sharply, but Moore instantly urged his back to the same spot, asking calmly if Napier were hurt, and receiving a quiet "No, sir."

Then, while he watched the spirited charge of the 50th Regiment, led by Napier and Stanhope, he exclaimed—"Well done, Fiftieth! Well done, my Majors!"

The French were driven out of Elvina with heavy loss, both regiments pursuing them beyond the village into ground much broken by stone walls. By this time the British were without supports; and the French, having received strong reinforcements, rallied and turned upon them with fresh fury. Napier went too far in advance of his men, received five wounds, and was taken prisoner; and Stanhope was killed.

Moore, grappling with the danger, hurried up a battalion of the Guards to reinforce the 50th, which was being slowly forced back, and the 42nd, which had come to an end of its powder and shot. He galloped to the latter regiment, and again his voice rang out with inspiring energy—

"My brave 42nd, join your comrades. The ammunition is coming. And you have your bayonets still!"

That was enough. The 42nd had thought that it was being relieved by the Guards; but armed or unarmed, the men would have gone anywhere for Moore. Once again without ammunition, yet undaunted, with fierce impetuosity they dashed against the foe.

Both here and throughout the line fighting raged furiously. In all directions the British were holding their own, and signs of approaching victory were clear.

Those signs came true. A little later, and the French were driven well beyond Elvina. On the left of the British position they not only were repulsed with very severe loss, but were attacked in their own position by the conquering English, and were followed even into the villages beyond their ridge.

But before matters had advanced thus far, and while the 50th and the 42nd were still hard beset and strenuously resisting—something else happened, of terrible import to England.

Captain Hardinge came up to report to Sir John that the Guards were advancing. And as he spoke the words, as he pointed out the position of the Guards—a round shot from the battery opposite struck Moore, hurling him to the ground.







IN an instant Sir John Moore half raised himself, gazing still with concentrated earnestness, as if nothing had happened, towards the Highland regiment, now hotly engaged. Not a sigh was heard. Not a muscle in his face quivered.

Hardinge had sprung down, and Moore's right hand grasped his firmly. When Hardinge, seeing his anxiety for the 42nd, exclaimed, "They are advancing—" Moore's eyes brightened into their fullest radiance.

Then Colonel Graham hurried to the spot. So placid and unchanged was the General's look, that for a moment he hoped it might be no more than an accidental fall from his horse. The next moment he saw—and he rode off at utmost speed for a surgeon.

It was an awful wound. Almost the whole left shoulder was carried away; the arm was all but separated from the body; the ribs over that intrepid heart were broken; the flesh and muscles were fearfully torn and mangled. Hardinge made an attempt with his sash to check the flow of blood; but with so extensive an injury little could be done.

Moore was then gently lifted upon a blanket; and all the while he still intently watched the struggle, as if his own state were a matter of no importance.

For a moment his attention was recalled from the front. His sword became entangled when the soldiers moved him, and the hilt went into the wound. Captain Hardinge began to unbuckle it, but he was at once checked, Moore saying in his usual voice, with calm distinctness—

"It is as well as it is. I had rather it should go out of the field with me."

So extraordinary was his composure, that Hardinge began to hope, even against hope, that the wound might after all prove not to be mortal—that the General might even yet be spared to his country. He faltered something of the kind; and Moore turned from gazing at the battle to inspect gravely his own injuries.

"No, Hardinge, I feel that to be impossible," he replied. "You need not go with me. Report to General Hope that I am wounded, and carried to the rear."

He was slowly borne towards Coruña, a sergeant and ten soldiers of the Guards and of the 42nd being told off for this service. Two surgeons came hastening to meet him. They had been engaged with the arm of his next in command, Sir David Baird, which was badly shattered; but on hearing what had happened to his chief, Baird hurried them off, and they left his arm half dressed. Moore, who was losing blood rapidly, observed; "You can be of no service to me. Go to the wounded soldiers—you may be of use to them." But this unselfish order could not be obeyed.

Again and again in their sad progress he desired a halt, that he might watch what was going on, and might listen to the fainter sound of the enemy's musketry, as the French were driven back.

Presently they were overtaken by a spring wagon, containing a wounded officer; and here again a slight pause took place, during which Roy Baron joined the mournful cavalcade, not yet knowing what it meant.

A question put by the officer in the wagon, "Who was that in the blanket?" brought an answer which sent a sickening shock through Roy's whole frame.

Would not Sir John like to be placed in the wagon? The officer earnestly suggested this. Moore did not refuse, but he looked at one of the Highlanders, and asked his opinion—would the wagon or the blanket be best? The man advised the latter. "It will not shake you so much, sir," he said; "and we can keep step, and carry you more easy."

"I think so too," Sir John quietly said, and they went on their way as before. By this time the hardy Guardsmen and Highlanders who carried him were one and all in tears.

Roy came close to the younger of the two surgeons, with whom he was slightly acquainted, and murmured, "Wounded!"

"Badly," was the low answer.

"But not—not—He'll get over it!"

Roy knew what the silence meant. After a break, the surgeon said, "We have not examined the wound yet. You are hurt."

"It's nothing. Just a cut. But that he—that he—"

The surgeon looked in pity on that boyish face of despair.

"You'd better keep with us, Baron. I'll patch you up by and by. Don't give in. Things may be better than we fear."

For a moment Roy had been in danger of collapsing. This suggestion revived his failing energies; and he kept steadily up with the little procession till the streets of Coruña were reached. Before the door of Moore's house the bearers paused. Colonel Anderson, the devoted friend and comrade of Sir John through twenty-one years past, met them outside, speechless with distress. This was the third time that he had seen Moore carried, wounded, from a field of battle; and it was the last.

Moore pressed his hand tightly. "Anderson, don't leave me," he murmured, and the words reached Roy, as he came close behind. An appealing glance at the surgeon brought a whispered response, "Yes; come in."

Then, as Moore's faithful French servant, Francois, appeared, in blank horror, with fast-dropping tears, Moore smiled.

"Mon ami, this is nothing," he said.

Roy crept silently to a corner of the room, in which Moore was laid upon a mattress. He felt crushed with the blow, bodily weak, mentally hopeless. That Moore should die seemed to his young spirit to be the end of everything. And from the look on the faces around, from Moore's own ineffable serenity, he read the truth, even before the surgeons had fully examined the wound. It needed no long examination. Medical science had no power to grapple with such injuries as the cannon-ball had worked.

During the process Roy crouched down, his face hidden. Presently his arm was touched by the friendly surgeon.

"Come into the next room, Baron."

"I can't go away," muttered Roy.

"You shall come back. I want to take a look at your arm."

They were near the door, and Roy submitted, caring little at the moment whether his own hurts were great or small. He bore the surgeon's handling without a wince.

"Nothing serious, I'm glad to find. A clean cut, and you'll soon be right again. The loss of blood makes you feel a trifle queer, of course."

Roy crept once more silently into the room. He passed near enough to the mattress to receive one last kind glance and smile, which all but broke him down. But by this time Moore's agony had become so overwhelming, that he was unable to speak, and his face had grown deathly pale. Colonel Anderson from first to last remained close by his side, supporting him as he lay.

After a while he so far mastered the torture as to utter one short sentence after another, at intervals.

"Anderson, you know that I have always wished to die in this way," came first. As the officers of his staff appeared, one by one, he put the same question to each, "Are the French beaten?"

Next, with unconscious pathos, read now in the light of after misrepresentations—

"I hope the people of England will be satisfied! I hope my Country will do me justice."

Presently there was the thought of his own relatives.

"Anderson—you will see my friends, as soon as you can. Tell them—everything. Say to my mother—"

For the first time self-control failed. His voice broke, and his features were strongly agitated. The love between that son and that mother had been of no common kind. He was utterly unable to give the message that he wished, and he turned to another subject.

"Hope—Hope—I have much to say to him—but—cannot get it out. Are Colonel Graham and all my aides-de-camp safe?"

Anderson hastily signed to others not to tell him that one of the latter had been dangerously wounded, knowing well the great affection which existed between Moore and his whole staff. The question was evaded.

He then mentioned that he had made his will, and had in it remembered his servants. "Colbourne has my will—and all my papers," he said. And when Major Colbourne came in, Moore greeted him with exceeding kindness, turning to say with difficulty to Sir John Hope, "Hope, go to the Duke of York, and say he ought to give Colbourne a regiment."

He asked again, "Were the French beaten?"

"In every direction," he was told.

"It's a great satisfaction for me to know we have beaten the French," he remarked. "Is Paget in the room?"

Anderson replied in the negative.

"Remember me to him. It is General Paget I mean. He is a fine fellow."

A little later came the words, "I feel myself so strong—I fear I shall be long dying. It is great uneasiness—it is great pain."

This was the only approach to a complaint which passed those patient lips. But the strength of which he spoke was that of the indomitable will, not of the shattered body; for already life was ebbing fast, and the shadows were closing around.

Yet surely for him, beyond the shadows, waited a Light Divine!

He met the last enemy as he had met his earthly foes, as indeed he had ofttimes faced the former, with unshaken composure and without dread, no more startled by the summons than if he had been called upon to cross the English Channel. And, as always, his thoughts were for others, not for himself.

Some grateful words were addressed to the surgeons, thanking them for their efforts to give him ease. He spoke kindly to two more aides-de-camp who came in. One of these was Captain James Stanhope, brother to Charles Stanhope killed that day, and to Lady Hester Stanhope, Moore's friend. Stanhope's eyes met those of the dying soldier, and Moore said distinctly—

"Stanhope—remember me to your sister."

This was his last utterance. He sank into silence, pressing the hand of Anderson closely to his side. A few minutes later, calmly and without a struggle, the grand spirit triumphed over death and passed away.

And in that still chamber might be heard the sounds of smothered convulsive weeping. The younger officers present broke utterly down, while the elder men looked on with bowed heads, scarcely better able to restrain their anguish; and Roy's sobs mingled with those of the rest.

It was a scene that he could never in all his after life forget. Colonel Anderson still knelt, supporting the lifeless head, and gazing with parted lips into that quiet face, which for twenty-one years had been the centre and the illumination of his being; his look of woe beyond the power of words to describe. On the other side of the mattress, one in sorrow with all these mourning Englishmen, was the faithful and devoted Francois. French by birth, he cared for little in the world besides this idolised master, over whom he despairingly hung, his hands clasped together, his face matching in pallor those placid features.

For one of the noblest of men was gone from their midst that hour; and a heavy shadow fell upon the victorious British Army.


"Dark lay the field of slain; the battle's strife was o'er,
 That shook Coruña's hills, and rent the Iberian shore;
 Dim twilight veiled the scene of glory and of death,
    Till o'er the blood-stained snow
    The moon, pale, trembling, slow,
    Revealed each crimson wreath."

"Low on the victor-field the Warrior Chief was laid;
 His eye still sought the foe, his hand still grasped the blade;
 Triumphant was his smile, though dim his closing eye—
    While bending o'er the slain,
    His mournful gallant train
    Learnt how the brave should die."

     *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *

"No sculptured trophy rose to deck his honoured head,
 Or monumental urn, to mark the Mighty Dead;
 No lettered scroll to point the pilgrim soldier's way—
    The musing foe to greet,
    And guide his wandering feet
    To where the warrior lay."

"But o'er his loved remains were choicest honours shed,
 Tears such as Heroes weep bedewed his lowly bed;
 A deep responsive sigh from Albion's woe-struck isle
    Swelled o'er the Atlantic wave,
    And decked his early grave—
    Who for his Country fought, who for his Country fell!" ¹

¹ Written in memory of Moore by William Stark of Edinburgh in 1813.







THE rapid fall of darkness made it difficult to pursue the enemy, who at every point had been worsted. General Hope, knowing that large reinforcements might be expected to arrive soon in the French camp, decided to carry out Sir John Moore's plan of immediate embarkation.

At ten o'clock that night the march began, brigade after brigade leaving the field of battle, and silently going on board one transport after another. So complete had been all previous arrangements, that, by morning light, almost the whole British Army was on board.

Meanwhile, anxious consultation had taken place as to what should be done with the beloved remains of the Commander. Colonel Anderson settled the question by stating that Moore had often told him his wish—"if he ever fell in battle, to be buried where he had fallen." It was decided that a grave should be dug on the rampart of the Coruña citadel.

At midnight the body was reverently borne into the citadel, by Colonel Graham, Major Colbourne, and the aides-de-camp. For a few hours it lay in Colonel Graham's room.

In the early morning firing was heard. It was then determined not to put off the funeral any longer, lest a fresh attack should be impending, and the officers should be compelled to hasten away before paying the last honours to their Chief.

Jack's friend, George Napier, had arrived upon the sad scene of the night before, just when all was over—too late for any of those last words, which would have been to him a lifelong treasure. After Anderson and Francois, probably none present grieved more bitterly than George Napier. But when he found Roy sobbing hopelessly in the corner of the room, he took him away, and let him stay in his own quarters. And when the funeral took place Roy was allowed to be one of the party in attendance.

Not at dead of night, but at eight o'clock in the chill morning of a January day, and in the grave prepared by his own men, Sir John Moore was laid. No coffin could be procured. The body had not been undressed. He wore still the General's uniform in which he had fought his last battle, and—

"He lay like a warrior taking his rest,
   With his martial cloak around him."

That same cloak, in which but a few days earlier, he had visited Roy in the little hut at Lugo—had laid his kind hand upon the boy's arm—had spoken never to be forgotten words of praise—had smiled upon him—

Roy dared not let himself think of all this. Burning, blinding tears forced their way to his eyes—and not to his only,—as he gazed his last upon that perfect face, in its pale, sublime repose.

Moore was carried by the "Officers of the Family," who would allow no other hands to do for him these last sad services. The Burial Service was read by the Chaplain. And what was in the hearts of them all has been told, in words that cannot be improved upon, by that noble Elegy which is Moore's best monument:—

"We thought, as we hollowed his narrow bed,
   And smoothed down his lonely pillow,
 That the foe and the stranger would tread o'er his head,
   And we far away on the billow."

"Lightly they'll talk of the spirit that's gone,
   And o'er his cold ashes upbraid him—
 But little he'll reck, if they let him sleep on
   In the grave where a Briton has laid him."

"Slowly and sadly we laid him down,
   From the field of his fame fresh and gory,
 We carved not a line and we raised not a stone,
   But we left him alone with his glory." ¹

Every man in the Army had lost a friend that day; and many a one besides Roy felt with passionate grief that the world, without John Moore in it, would be for him a changed place thenceforward.

Hard things were spoken of him after he was gone; and upbraidings indeed were uttered—not by the brave foe, who honoured Moore, and wished to raise a stone to his memory, but by an ungrateful section of his own countrymen, because, forsooth, with an army of twenty-three thousand men, he had not met and crushed two hundred thousand. We know better now. In the cold clear light of history such fogs are driven away.

Yet, even in these later days, have we made enough of the name of John Moore?

¹ By the Rev. C. Wolfe, about 1817.

Have we thought enough of the man, of whom Napoleon in the zenith of his fame could declare that he was the only General left, fit to contend with himself?—and against whose twenty-three thousand men he counted it needful to bring in a fierce rush over eighty thousand, failing even then in his purpose? Have we thought enough of the man, under whom the future Wellington wished nothing better than to serve?—and about whose "towering fame" the sober historian of the Peninsular War wrote in terms of unstinted praise? Have we thought enough of the man who, while the bravest of the brave, was also the most blameless and the most beloved of men; against whom Detraction had no word to utter, save that he stood up almost too strenuously for his Country's honour, and that he did not accomplish impossibilities?

If not, it is surely time that his countrymen should begin to "do him justice!"

But for that fatal cannon-ball—who can say?—would Wellington have become the foremost man in Europe, or would he have been second to Moore? It might have been Moore, not Wellington, who turned the tide of Napoleon's success? ¹ It was Moore who stemmed that tide, with his spirited counter-march and splendid retreat, drawing the enemy after him, until he stood at bay upon the coast, and hurled back the onset of the flower of Napoleon's army.

¹ These sentences were written before Lord Wolseley's speech at Dumfries, in 1898, in which he was reported as having said—"There could be little doubt in the minds of most soldiers who knew what Moore did, that, had he not been killed at the Battle of Coruña, he would have been the great Commander who led the Peninsular War; and it was quite possible that that great man, whom they all worshipped, the Duke of Wellington, would not have been heard of. He did not say that to depreciate the services of the Duke of Wellington, who had been a rock of strength to this country. But, possibly, had Sir John Moore lived, his name would have been blazoned on the scroll of fame as the man who won the great battle which crushed Napoleon's power at Waterloo."

Of Moore's personal valour, of his indomitable courage, of his intense patriotism, no voice was ever heard in question. To his consummate generalship, his mingled audacity and calculation, this marvellous Retreat bore ample witness. But for many years it was not understood by the mass of the English people. Napoleon, Soult, and Ney gauged him far more truly than did the average Englishman of his day.







As a heavy stone falling into a pond sends waves circling outward to a distance, so the death of Sir John Moore sent many a wave of sorrow to the hearts of men, north and south, east and west.

One such wave slowly found its way to the distant town of Verdun, where still languished the détenus taken captive in 1803, together with many prisoners of war on parole sent thither.

News in those days travelled with deliberation, and prisoners travelled with greater deliberation still. But a day arrived, though not till many weeks after the Battle of Coruña, when Jack Keene found himself within the ramparts of Verdun.

It was early spring, and he carried his right arm in a sling. When he moved, too, a distinct limp might be seen. He had just been to report himself at the citadel, and he now stood outside, meditating on his next move.

A young man, with a keen and clever face, passed him quickly, then pulled up, turning in his direction.

"I beg your pardon. You're English. Have you just arrived here?"

"Yes. Prisoner. You're English too. That's right," said Jack heartily.

"Can I be of any service to you? Have you friends in the place?"

"I hope so. Could you direct me to Colonel Baron's house, or lodgings?"

"Certainly. I know him well. My name is Curtis."

"Ah! I have heard that name from Roy Baron."

"Roy and I were great friends when he was here. Anything you can tell me about him will be welcome."

Curtis looked questioningly, and Jack answered the look.

"My name is Keene. Roy and I have been through the Campaign in Spain together. On the retreat I was wounded and taken prisoner."

Curtis held out his hand, to be grasped by Jack's left. "You have travelled all the way from Spain?"

"With a convoy of prisoners—yes. Been a good while about it too. First part of the way in a wagon, after that on horseback. Tell me how they are here. I have heard nothing lately."

"I'll come and show you the way. The Colonel keeps all right. Looks older than he used, that's all. Mrs. Baron is well. One fancied at the time that Roy's being sent to Bitche would kill her outright; but it didn't. Having to devote herself to Ivor was a mercy in disguise, I don't doubt. Kept her from dwelling on her own trouble. It was a vast relief to them all when the kind fellow who got Roy away came and told them he'd seen the boy safe on board a vessel for England. He was well rewarded by the Colonel, as you may suppose; not that he did it for reward. But, of course, we don't breathe a word about that in Verdun, for the fellow's own sake. Only, as I know them well, and as I know you belong to them—"

Jack made a gesture of assent. "Ivor was ill, was he not?"

"I dare say he would have been so anyhow, after that march from Valenciennes; but the arrest of Roy was a finishing stroke. You won't find him looking good for much now. I suppose hardly anything could have knocked him down like the death of Sir John Moore. It is a fearful loss to the country. No man living could have been worse spared."

Curtis paused, cast a glance at Jack, and changed the subject.

Presently they reached the house where still the Barons lived, as since their first arrival in Verdun.

"By the bye, I'm not sure whether you'll find them in," he said. "The Colonel said at appel that he was going to take Ivor, with his wife, for a drive in the country, hoping it might do him good. It was worth trying. But I think they must have returned before now."

"You're allowed to go where you will?"

"Why, no. Douceurs are efficacious, however. Will you let me show you the way upstairs?" Jack hesitated. "No—I understand. Of course you'd rather see them alone first; and I did not mean to go in. But you can't mistake the room. First landing, first door to the right."

Curtis vanished, and Jack, obeying the directions, came to a door slightly ajar. He pushed it wider, and went softly in.

It was a good-sized salon; empty, except for the presence of one man writing at a side-table. By build and bearing Jack recognised Ivor instantly; but finding himself unnoticed, he had a fancy not at once to make his presence known. He drew a few steps nearer, and then stood motionless. He had a very good side-view of the other.

Jack studied him gravely, recalling the splendid physique and health of the young Guardsman six years earlier. The physique was in a sense the same, and the fine carriage of head and shoulders remained unaltered; but the sharpened delicacy and pallor of the face impressed Jack painfully, as did a streak of grey hair above the temple, a stamp of habitual lassitude upon the brow, and the thinness of the strongly-made right hand, which moved the pen. Jack began dimly to understand what the long waiting and patience of these years had been.

Ivor seemed to become conscious of Jack's gaze. He laid down his pen, glanced round, and started up. "Jack! Is it possible?"

"Just arrived," remarked Jack, with an insouciance which he was far from feeling. "Come across Spain and France. Yes—wounded—but I'm getting all right. Always was a tough subject, you know."

"Where were you taken?"

"On the march, at Lugo. Two days off from Coruña. Got too far ahead of my men. Wounded in the leg first; then, as I was defending myself, a musket-ball broke my right arm. So I had to give in."

"You are lame still. Sit down. You a prisoner too! I hardly know how to believe it."

"Fortune of war, as our French friends would say. I've no right to complain. Had my share, though 'tis a shame to be cut off from more of it. Den, you are looking very far from well."

Denham did not heed the words. "What of Roy?" he asked. "We have had no home-news for ages."

"Roy is Ensign in my regiment. Didn't you know even that? Been with me through this Campaign. He and I were in the Reserve—under Moore!" —in a lower voice. "You have heard—?"

"No particulars. The fact of a battle at Coruña; and—Tell me all you can."

"You know that it was victory?"

"I know!" in a stirred deep tone. "Not from the papers. French papers never admit defeat. But—under him—how could it be otherwise?"

"It never was otherwise! Never once!"

Denham rested his face on both hands.

"Tell me all you know. We are cut off from everything here."

Jack's information was but partial. Before starting for France he had been kept by his wounds some time in the neighbourhood of Lugo, and thus a few details of that heroic death had filtered round to him. It was hard work for Jack to repeat them in a steady voice. Once Ivor raised his head, and the dumb white sorrow of his look all but overcame Jack's fortitude. Then Ivor returned to his former position, and Jack went on resolutely.

"That's about all," he said at length. "As much as I've heard yet .... He was his own grand self to the last! ... It was the death he would have chosen to die .... He always wished for it ... On the field, in the moment of victory! ... But the loss to us—to England! ... The best!—the noblest—!"

Jack could say no more. Silence followed.

"Soffit is a brave fellow. I heard that he was going to put up a memorial-stone—to him!"

Silence again. Denham had not stirred.

"He saved the Army and balked Napoleon. None except we who were there could know the true state of things—the hopeless inefficiency of the Spaniards. If he had had treble the number of men and enough money, England might have told a very different tale to-day. What could be done by mortal man, under such circumstances, he did."

Renewed silence. Jack watched the other seriously.

"You're not fit for any more of this. When did you hear last from home? So long! And you didn't know that Roy was in Spain? Smart young officer too. He came in more than once for particular notice." Jack found himself verging on another allusion to the name which filled their thoughts, and he turned to a fresh subject. "This Commandant of yours at Verdun—Wirion—must be a brute, judging from reports of him in the English papers."


"Not here now?"

"Courcelles is the present Commandant. Wirion went too far. There were some scandalous cases—young Englishmen fleeced to the tune of five thousand pounds."

"What a vile shame!"

"Some of us made a stir, and facts were carried to headquarters. Wirion was suspended, and he received a hint that he might as well put himself out of the way. He acted upon the hint."

"You mean that he—"

"Shot himself."

"Present man any improvement?"

"Oppressions are a degree more carefully veiled."

Denham lifted his face from his hands with a sudden movement. "What am I thinking about? You must be in want of food."

"No; it's all right. I went to a cafe on arrival. Your next meal is soon enough for me."

The absence of any inquiry after Polly was arousing Jack's wonder. At first, in the engrossing interest of that other subject, he had not so much noticed Denham's silence, but now each minute it grew more marked. Should he speak of Polly himself? No, that would not do. The first mention ought to be from Ivor. So Jack decided, not realising that his own silence might be misconstrued. Some questions as to his wounds followed. Denham had moved to the large arm-chair, and was leaning back with a spiritless look. Jack wondered anew, and at length he could not resist putting forth a slight feeler.

"Are there no folks at home of whom you would fain hear?"

Ivor took the hint, looked straight at him, and said—"Is Polly married yet?"

Jack's breath was taken away. He was like one who has received a slap in the face. This—from Ivor!

"Upon—my—word!" he ejaculated. "You are cool, Denham!"

"I have at least a right to ask the question."

For a moment Jack was very nearly in a passion, but the anger went down as fast as it had arisen.

"Of course you don't mean—But what in the wide world made you think of such a thing? Polly married! No; nor like to be!"

"I heard that she was engaged."

"To whom?"

"The Admiral's nephew—Peirce."

"Who told you the lie?"

"Then—it was a lie!"

"You might have known it. Who told you?"

"One whom I should have counted trustworthy."

"When did you hear the tale?"

"The year I was in Valenciennes."

Jack recalled Roy's description of Ivor's return from that absence, and he began to grasp the state of the case.

"When did you hear last from Polly herself?"

"Over two years ago. A letter which had been written before the date when she was said to have become engaged."

The last remnants of Jack's anger died out. Two years of silence following upon such a report!

"You have not writ yourself to Polly this great while?"

"How could I—not speaking of this? And—how speak of it, if it were not true?"

Silence again. Jack observed slowly, as he watched the other's colourless lips—

"Den, I'm going to be frank. 'Tis no case for half confidences. There was a time, I'll confess, when I had a doubt in my own mind of Polly's constancy. She's a pretty creature, and she has had an uncommon lot of admiration. But I wronged her, for she has been ever faithful to you, and she has cared for none other. And the night before I started for Spain she and I talked together, and she spoke out plainly. She said that if you but asked her to come to Verdun she would come, and gladly. She wondered, if indeed you cared for her still, that you had not so done."

A flush came, and Denham's hand was held hard against his forehead. "Never!" he said in a low voice.

"You would not wish to have her out?" incredulously.

"Never! If Polly were here, I might be taken from her in a week,—sent to a dungeon, leaving her unprotected."

"I see. Nay, that would not do. Polly and you must wait a while longer. But you will know now that she is waiting too."

"It might be better for her—not—" Denham broke off.

"Your head is not often like this, I hope?" Jack said, in a concerned tone.

"Not much respite lately."

"Have you had medical advice? Can nothing be done?"

"One infallible remedy, if it might be had."

"And that is—?"

"Freedom—and Home."

There was a short breath between the words which said much, for Denham was not given to sighing. Then voices outside told of the return of Colonel and Mrs. Baron. Denham stood up, murmured a hasty apology, and left the room.

"Poor fellow!" Jack said aloud.







JACK'S uneasiness grew as days went by. Denham was certainly in a condition by no means satisfactory. This last heavy blow, the death of his adored Chief—of the man who had been to him as a guiding star from boyhood—seemed to have shaken his hold on life, and the old courage and energy were gone. Though he struggled on, it was in a listless fashion.

Even the assurance as to Polly's constancy could not arouse him. The lassitude which oppressed him was unconquerable.

"It is so much the worse for her," he said dejectedly to Jack. "If she could forget me, she at least might be happy. She is wasting the best years of her life in this miserable waiting. I may be out here another ten years. I may never go home."

"You don't wish her to forget you, my dear fellow?"

"For her sake I could be glad. Not, of course, for my own."

"Fact is, there's no manner of use in expecting you to take reasonable views of things, while your head is in this state," declared Jack.

But he became so troubled that he confided his cares to Lucille. He could not worry the Colonel or Mrs. Baron, who were anxious enough already.

"I'm not at all happy about him, and that's the solemn truth," Jack declared confidentially, a fortnight or so after his arrival. "I don't like the look in his eyes, or here," drawing a finger across his brow. "And as for strength—just see him this afternoon! He's utterly floored by that stroll on the ramparts. Why, in old days he'd do his twenty or thirty miles at a stretch, and get back as fresh as he started. He didn't know what it was to be done up."

Lucille had not the least idea why, at this point, she should find herself to be confiding to Jack a secret which she had told to nobody else. She and he were becoming extremely good friends. Jack had taken to Lucille on the spot, when they were first introduced, and the feeling was returned. Still, Lucille had not meant to let anybody know what she had done. Somehow, it slipped out.

She had long wondered whether it might not be possible to obtain leave for Denham to return home. Some few among the détenus had been permitted by the Emperor to do so, under exceptional circumstances. And Captain Ivor was a soldier. It was well known that, if Napoleon were chivalrous to anybody, he would be so first to a soldier. He was always harder upon civilians.

At the Emperor's court an old friend of hers moved—one who had been formerly a Royalist, and who now for many years had attached himself to the fortunes of Buonaparte. Lucille had found it hard to pardon this change of front in her old friend—more strictly her parents' friend—and intercourse between the two had been almost entirely dropped. Yet Lucille had heard of him from time to time; and she knew he was not one to forget the past—the more so in her case, since that past included a debt of gratitude from him to Lucille's father.

It had one day occurred to her that she might write to this friend, explaining about Captain Ivor's failing health, and asking him to intercede with the Emperor for leave for Ivor to go home. Lucille did not tell Jack how many days she had held out against the notion. Not for Denham's sake, but for her own. He had been so long the main centre of thought in her quiet existence, that she could hardly now picture life at Verdun without him. Not that she was exactly in love with Ivor, because from the beginning she had known him to belong to Polly; and though she had been in danger of caring for him a great deal too much, she had fought against the tendency. But she was very much his friend.

So she hesitated, till one day the selfishness of her own conduct broke upon her, awakened by some fresh view of his altered looks. Then at once she acted. She wrote to the friend, putting the matter before him, frankly stating her own belief that Ivor was in point of fact slowly dying of captivity, and entreating him, in memory of old days, to interest himself in the matter, and if possible to get permission for Ivor's return to England.

The friend—whose name Lucille did not mention to Jack—had answered her letter. He had written kindly, cordially,—promising to take an opportunity, sooner or later, to lay the matter before the Emperor. He might or might not meet with success; but at least Mademoiselle de St. Roques could depend upon him to do his best for Captain Ivor.

"And you think there is the smallest chance?" Jack said incredulously.

"I cannot tell. There is no certainty, none! But until I hear from my friend, I will not give up hope. You will not say one word to the Colonel or to Mrs. Baron—least of all to Captain Ivor?"

"Trust me! Never do to raise his hopes for nothing." Jack himself had not the least expectation of success.

As a matter of course, Jack had taken up his abode under the same roof with the Barons. Roy's former room was given to him, and he made a markedly cheerful addition to the family circle.

Some ten days later they were one evening all together, after dinner. Jack was dictating a letter to Molly, having pressed Lucille into his service as amanuensis. The Colonel was reading; his wife was working; and Denham for an hour past had not stirred or spoken. They all knew what this meant, and mercifully left him alone. Jack's glance wandered often towards the motionless figure in the sofa-corner, and in the midst of his dictation he paused to murmur, "Head as bad as ever?"

"Oui," Lucille said with a sigh. "All day; and now he is quite 'done.' It is always so. What am I to write next? Ah—I am called. Somebody wants a word. Will you excuse me?"

Jack amused himself during her absence by scrawling caricatures with his left hand upon the unfinished sheet. Then Lucille came swiftly in, running, as if with joy; while her eyes were full of tears. Her face seemed to shine, and a suppressed sob could be heard in her voice, as she panted—

"Something for Captain Ivor!"

Denham looked up slowly as she came to his side, and though he received the packet from her hand, he would have put it aside without attention.

"Ouvrez-le! Ouvrez-le, vîte!" she urged impatiently.

"Who brought it?"

"A gentleman, travelling from Paris. Ouvrez-le!"

Denham roused himself with difficulty to obey. "A passport!" he said, with listless surprise, and a slight laugh. "Not the passport for Roy, surely! Rather late in the day."

"But read—read!" implored Lucille, and he made an effort to do so. Then a rush of colour came, and he looked at Lucille, a strange gleam in his eyes.

"This—what does it mean?"

"It means that you are free! Free to go home!"

From the others broke a chorus of exclamations.

"'Au nom de Napoléon!' It must be right." Ivor spoke in a bewildered tone. "But what can have made him choose me?"

"Are you not glad?"

"Glad!" The word was too absurdly inadequate. He walked across to Colonel Baron.

"Will you look at this, sir? Tell me if I understand it rightly."

Colonel Baron complied, then passed the papers on to his wife and Jack, while he grasped Ivor's hand.

"I congratulate you with all my heart," he said. "Nothing could have given me greater delight. For your sake—not for ours."

"But to leave you here still!"

"Don't think of that. Your duty is to go."

"What are the conditions? I can't read to-day."

"Not to bear arms against France for twelve months from the date of your reaching England, unless an exchange is arranged sooner. It will not be, of course. There is no exchange for détenus. That means that for one year you will still be a prisoner on parole, only in England. It will take you some months to grow strong enough for fighting."

"I am strong already," was the answer, and even in those few minutes it was remarkable how his face had changed, gaining a healthier tint, and losing its languor, while the very hollows seemed to be filling up. "One year from the day I arrive in England! Then I must be off at once—not lose a day."

"Next week," suggested Jack.

"To-morrow. But what can have induced the Emperor to free me? Why me, more than any other détenu?"

"Ask Mademoiselle de St. Roques," said Jack, and this brought upon Lucille a flood of questions. She related simply what she had done; not specifying, as she had specified to Jack, the precise manner of description given of Ivor's health.

Denham lifted her hand to his lips. "It is you whom I have to thank, then," he said, much moved. "But no thanks could repay what you have done. I can never forget this debt."

One grey shadow lay on Ivor's happiness, of which Jack alone was allowed a glimpse, when the two were together, late at night. "If it had but been to serve once more under him!" broke from Denham, in a tone which Jack too well understood. The sorrow of that loss, to those who had known John Moore personally, could end only with life itself.







RAPID travelling, ninety years ago, was a comparative term. Ivor performed the journey as fast as relays of horses could convey a post-chaise to the coast, and as quickly as contrary winds would allow him to cross the Channel. Now that he was actually on the road to Polly, each hour's delay became all but insupportable.

Six long years since he had said good-bye to Polly, for one fortnight! Would she be altered, as much as he felt that he himself was altered?

It was a cold day, late in spring, when he found himself at the front door of the Bryces' comfortable mansion. The old butler opened to Denham, as once before to Roy. This time Drake was not taken in. One glance, and his face changed.


"You know me? I hardly thought you would." Ivor grasped kindly the old retainer's hand. "I am taking you all by surprise."

"It is a surprise, indeed, sir! And I'm heartily glad for to see you again. Not but what you ain't lookin' as you should, sir, not by no means. Them furrin' parts haven't suited you, I'm thinkin'."

"Captivity has not suited me. And I have travelled hard and taken little rest. Who is at home?"

"My mistress, sir, is in the drawing-room; and Miss Keene and Miss Baron. I was about to take lights."

"Wait till I have gone in. And, Drake, you can announce me, but don't say my name so that it can be heard."

Drake obeyed to the letter. He threw open the drawing-room door, and mumbled something inaudible. Denham entered, bowing ceremoniously.

"You can bring lights, Drake," said Mrs. Bryce. The room was dark, and the fire had fallen low.

"Yes, ma'am."

"I'm excessive glad to see you, sir," Mrs. Bryce declared cordially, after a hurried whisper to Polly, "Who did he say, my dear?" Then she turned to Ivor with her welcome. "Mr. Bryce is away, I'm sorry to say, but doubtless you can await his return, and Mr. Baron will be in this minute."

Polly was casting shy glances at him. Something in the outline of his figure, dim though the light was, brought Denham to her mind; but it was not until he spoke that her colour changed fast from pink to white and from white to pink.

"I shouldn't be surprised to be informed, sir, that you are but just home from the war?" said Mrs. Bryce.

"I have not been fighting, I regret to say. My turn for that will no doubt come. I have been long a prisoner."

"And you have obtained your release?"

"The Emperor has consented to my return home."

Mrs. Bryce held up both hands.

"That is excessive gracious of him, truly. You are more fortunate than many. Roy Baron was not so well off, and he had to make his escape. But he has been since in the campaign in Portugal and Spain, under our great Commander, Sir John Moore. A truly melancholy story that, sir; yet he died as a soldier would choose to die, covered with glory. And Roy—Mr. Baron, I should say—is now back with us for a little space; and we, his friends, fondly think he has done well. But will you allow me to offer you cake and wine? You have a very weary look." She peered at him, from near at hand. "What can Drake be about not to bring in the lights?" Her hand was on the bell.

Denham was gazing earnestly towards Polly, so earnestly that she could not but return the gaze. A thrill ran through her, for there was no mistaking that voice. Molly took upon herself to put a pointed question.

"Have you come from Verdun, sir, if I might ask?"

"Pray take a seat, sir," Mrs. Bryce was entreating. She might as well have spoken to stone walls.

"I am straight from Verdun," Ivor replied.

"Then, sir, doubtless you will bring messages for us all from the unfortunate prisoners there detained," said Mrs. Bryce, not grasping his identity with one of those prisoners.

Drake at this moment carried in the lights; and Roy, entering too, cried out in astonishment—

"Den! Why, 'tis Den himself! Den, dear fellow!—" nearly wringing Ivor's hands off with the energy of his welcome.

Preoccupied though Ivor could not help being with Polly, his gaze rested with satisfaction upon "his friend Roy." The boy who had left Verdun for the dungeons of Bitche was a man now: broad-shouldered, well-built, soldier-like, frank as ever in manner, yet with something in the young face which told not only of endurance past, but of the sharp touch of sorrow.

"I am glad—more glad than words can say! Little I dreamt who I should find here. And you are free! But how is it? You don't say old Boney has let you off? Of his own free will? How did it happen? Lucille! No! Bravo, Lucille!"

Nobody else had a chance of being heard. Mrs. Bryce exclaimed and talked in vain. Polly and Molly waited, not sorry to see Roy like himself again, which he had scarcely been hitherto since his return. Roy's eager questions had to be answered first.

Then came a change of manner, and a lowered voice. "I shall have no end of things to tell you, Den—yes, I know—" at a slight gesture—"another time." Roy did his best to resume a bright manner. "You've seen accounts, of course. That charge of the Reserve through the valley wasn't bad—yes, when I got my wound. It's pretty nearly right now. The column tried to turn our flank, you know, and we did just knock 'em into a cocked hat, and no mistake. The column simply ceased to exist."

So much Roy poured out impulsively. Then he stopped. A consciousness had broken upon him of something unsatisfactory. Denham's face was to him as an open book, and he saw written there several things. One thing that he saw made him turn sharply to Polly, as she stood a little way off, prettily composed. Was this the meeting of the two, after six years of enforced separation?

Roy recalled his talk with Polly on his return from Bitche, and in a flash he read the true state of affairs. He looked hard at each in turn.

"Polly, didn't I tell you? He has come back!"

It was necessary for Polly to answer. "Captain Ivor is indeed most fortunate to have obtained his release," she said, adjusting her scarf.

"Fortunate to have obtained his release!" repeated Roy, with slow emphasis.

Then he showed a decision and promptitude worthy of his profession. A gesture ordered Molly to make herself scarce. Seizing Mrs. Bryce by the arm, he dragged away that astonished lady, reserving explanations till they were out of the room. After which he poured forth profuse apologies, but would allow no re-entrance.

And Denham found himself alone with Polly. He stood looking down upon her, with a grave tenderness and questioning. Polly began to tremble.

"We had no expectation of seeing you," she remarked, in a tone of great decorum.

She cast one little glance up.

"Have you travelled hard? You are much fatigued."

"Polly, is all between us as it once was?"

Polly dropped her eyes.

"It is long since we parted," she said; "and very long since any letter has reached me, sir. I cannot tell—how matters may be now. But six years work changes. And I—"

"There are a few matters to be explained," Denham remarked quietly. "But first, may I beg you to read this note from Jack? He exacted from me a promise that I would not fail to give it to you within one half-hour of my arrival. Jack is at Verdun, with Colonel and Mrs. Baron, as you may have heard."

"I did not know that. We heard only that Jack was prisoner. It has been a sad grief to me."

"Will you have his letter now?" asked Denham, in his most courteous tones.

"If you choose, sir."

She moved two or three paces nearer to a candle, to read it. Jack's left-handed hieroglyphics were not to be deciphered quickly. This was what she made out—

"DEAR POLLY,—Denham is going home to you; and he has heard a false tale of your having forgot him. That is why he has not writ to you for so long a time. But I have assured him of your Unchanged Affection, and now I assure you of the same in him. Roy was in the right of the matter. Den has not altered, nor will he alter. But he has gone through much, and has been long ill, and the Death of Our Hero has gone near to break his heart. So do not put on pretty airs, dear Poll, but comfort him, as you know how, for he needs your comfort; and the sooner you and he get married, the better pleased shall I be, for he is in want of you. Be good to him, my dear Polly, and believe me,—Your affectionate brother, JACK KEENE."

Polly came across to where Denham stood.

"Jack tells me of the mistake," she whispered. "And now I understand. He tells me, too, that I am to comfort you."

She held out her hands, and he took them into his strong grasp.

"Sweet Polly," he said, in a voice which shook a little, despite his best efforts—"you wrote to me once a letter, which was signed, 'Yours faithfully—and till death.' That letter I have never parted with since the day it reached me. Not even when I feared that I had indeed cause for doubt. Can you say those words to me once again?"

Polly lifted her head, and looked straight into his eyes. "I am yours, Denham,—always and ever—as long as life shall last," she uttered, very clearly.

     *    *    *    *    *    *    *

Twelve months later, Denham stood in the passage of the little London house, which for more than eleven months had been his home and Polly's. He had wasted no time in making her his wife. He had but a year, he urged, and surely the waiting had lasted long enough.

So Mrs. Bryce was obliged to forgo her hopes of a grand and fashionable wedding, to which all the Quality should be invited, for the display of resplendent costumes. Denham was neither in health nor in spirits for such a function; and Polly's one wish was to do what would give him pleasure.

They had been married quietly, less than three weeks after his return; and Polly had done her best to comfort him and to win him back once more to strength.

All that year he had not left her. But now he was free, and duty called him to the Peninsula, where the long struggle was being carried on between Wellesley and the army of Napoleon. The Spaniards with Wellesley, as with Moore, did little at any time, beyond throwing hindrances in the way of the British. Roy and Bob had gone out many months before.

It was hard work for Denham to say good-bye—not only to Polly, with her sweet brave face, but to the tiny boy, with Polly's own eyes of brown velvet, who had come but a very little while before to gladden their home. Denham bent to kiss the tiny sleeper, then turned again to Polly.

"It will not be for long," she whispered. "I may think that, may I not? Peace must surely come some day."

"Not yet, dear heart," he answered; and she knew well that, acutely though he felt leaving her, he yet longed to share the fight with those who strove for England and for freedom, that fight from which he had been so many years debarred.

"Molly will be always here. And she and I will think and talk of you and Roy, every day and every hour. And oh, Denham, if women's prayers may bring victory to men's arms, victory will surely be yours!"

"We shall conquer in the end, please God; and in that way you may truly help us, sweet one," he replied.

Then he took her in his arms and held her very closely. And in another minute he too was gone to the wars, as so many thousands had to go in those stirring days.

It was well that neither he nor she could guess how long a separation might again lie before them. For this was only 1810; and the day which should see Wellington, at the head of his victorious Army, entering France, lay four years ahead.

Four years also had Colonel and Mrs. Baron to possess themselves in patience, before they could again set eyes on their boy—before they might once more clasp in their arms the little Molly whom, in 1803, they had quitted for one fortnight's absence.

Jack remained still at Verdun, and before him too stretched four years of unbroken captivity. But Jack, though often disposed to chafe, yet found something wherewith to pass his time. This became gradually clear to Polly and Molly, through letters received at long intervals. At length came one, in which Jack gave particulars as to Colonel and Mrs. Baron, and as to the greatly improved condition of prisoners at Verdun under the new French Commandant. After which he said—

"If ever this gets to England, it is to inform you that I am proposing shortly to become a married man. Lucille has promised to be my wife."

Molly sat smiling over the notion for a long while. "Jack was sure to marry," she remarked in a philosophic tone. "He is of the sort not to be content without. And you and Denham are exceeding happy, married, dear Polly. But as for me, I have no desire that way. Never shall I care for any man in the whole world as I care for Roy." Then, in words once spoken before, and perhaps often repeated in her own mind since, she added—"And so that matter is for ever settled."

No doubt at the moment Molly honestly meant, or thought she meant, what she said. But the declaration had no sooner passed her lips than she hesitated, and a slight colour rose in her cheeks.

It was merely that she happened just then to think of Bob Monke!




Printed by T. and A. CONSTABLE, Printers to Her Majesty

at the Edinburgh University Press