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Title: Jack Archer
Author: Henty, G. A. (George Alfred), 1832-1902
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Jack Archer" ***

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A Tale of the Crimea


Author of "The Boy Knight," "With Clive in India,"
"True to the Old Flag," Etc., Etc.


Chapter I.     The Midshipman
Chapter II.    An Adventure at Gib
Chapter III.   The Escape
Chapter IV.    Gallipoli
Chapter V.     A Brush with the Enemy
Chapter VI.    The Alma
Chapter VII.   Before Sebastopol
Chapter VIII.  Balaklava
Chapter IX.    Inkerman
Chapter X.     The Great Storm
Chapter XI.    Taken Prisoners
Chapter XII.   Prisoners on Parole
Chapter XIII.  A Nominal Imprisonment
Chapter XIV.   A Suspected Household
Chapter XV.    A Struggle for Life
Chapter XVI.   An Escape from Prison
Chapter XVII.  A Journey in Disguise
Chapter XVIII. The Polish Insurgents
Chapter XIX.   To the Rescue
Chapter XX.    In a Lion's Den
Chapter XXI.   Back at the Front
Chapter XXII.  The Repulse at the Redan
Chapter XXIII. The Battle of the Tchernaya
Chapter XXIV.  A Fortunate Storm
Chapter XXV.   The Capture of Sebastopol
Chapter XXVI.  Conclusion



The first day of term cannot be considered a cheerful occasion. As the
boys arrive on the previous evening, they have so much to tell each
other, are so full of what they have been doing, that the chatter and
laughter are as great as upon the night preceding the breaking-up. In
the morning, however, all this is changed. As they take their places
at their desks and open their books, a dull, heavy feeling takes
possession of the boys, and the full consciousness that they are at
the beginning of another half year's work weighs heavily on their

It is true enough that the half year will have its play, too, its
matches, with their rivalry and excitement. But at present it is the
long routine of lessons which is most prominent in the minds of the
lads who are sitting on the long benches of the King's School,

As a whole, however, these have not great reason for sadness. Not more
than a third of them are boarders, and the rest, who have in truth,
for the last week, begun to be tired of their holidays, will, when
they once get out of school, and begin to choose sides for football,
be really glad that the term has again commenced.

"So your brother is not coming back again, Archer?" one of the boys
said to a lad of some fifteen years old, a merry, curly-haired fellow,
somewhat short for his age, but square-shouldered and sturdy.

"No. He is expecting in another six months to get his commission, and
is going up to town to study with a coach. My father has lodged the
money for him, and hopes to get him gazetted to his old regiment, the

"What is he going to a coach for? There is no examination, is there?
And if there was, I should think he could pass it. He has been in the
sixth for the last year."

"Oh, he is all right enough," Archer said. "But my father is sending
him to an army man to get up military drawing and fortification. Dad
says it is of no use his going on grinding here at Greek and Latin,
and that he had much better spend the time, till he gets his
commission, in learning something that may be of use to him. I wish I
had done with Latin and Greek too, I'm sure they'll never be of any
use to me, and I hate them."

At this moment the conversation between the boys was abruptly broken
off by Archer being called up by the class master.

"Archer," he said, looking up from the papers on the desk before him,
"these verses are disgraceful. Of all in the holiday tasks sent in,
yours appears to me to be the worst."

"I'm very sorry, sir," Jack Archer said, "I really tried hard to do
them, but somehow or other the quantities never will come right."

"I don't know what you call trying hard, Archer, but it's utterly
impossible, if you had taken the trouble to look the words out in
the Gradus, that you could have made such mistakes as those here."

"I don't know, sir," Jack answered. "I can do exercises and
translations and all that sort of thing well enough, but I always
break down with verses, and I don't see what good they are, except
for fellows who want to write Latin verses for tombstones."

"That has nothing to do with it," the master said; "and I am not going
to discuss the utility of verses with you. I shall report you to Dr.
Wallace, and if you will not work in your holidays, you will have to
do so in your play-hours."

Jack retired to his seat, and for the next ten minutes indulged in a
diatribe against classical learning in general, and hexameters and
pentameters in particular.

Presently one of the sixth form came down to where Jack was sitting,--

"Archer, Dr. Wallace wants you."

"Oh, lord," Jack groaned, "now I'm in for it! I haven't seen Marshall
get out of his seat. I suppose he has written a report about those
beastly verses."

The greeting of Dr. Wallace was, however, of a different nature from
that which he had anticipated.

"Archer," he said, "I have just received a note from your father. You
are to go home at once."

Jack Archer opened his eyes in astonishment. It was but an hour and a
half since he had started from Harbledown, a mile or so distant from
the school. His father had said nothing at breakfast, and what on
earth could he want him home again for?

With a mechanical "Yes, sir," he returned to his place, gathered up
his books hastily together, fastening them with a strap, and was soon
on his way home at a rapid trot. He overtook ere long the servant who
had brought the note--an old soldier, who had been Major Archer's
servant in the army.

"What is the matter, Jones? Is any one ill at home?"

"No, sir; no one is ill as I knows of. The major called me into his
study, and told me to take a note to Dr. Wallace, and, of course, I
asked the master no questions."

"No," Jack said, "I don't suppose you did, Jones. I don't suppose
you'd ask any questions if you were told to take a letter straight to
the man in the moon. I wonder what it can mean."

And continuing his run, he soon left the steady-going old soldier far
behind. Up High Street, under the great gate, along through the wide,
straggling street beyond, into the open country, and then across
through the fields to Harbledown. Jack never paused till, hot and
panting, he entered the gate.

His father and his elder brother, who had seen him coming across the
fields, were standing in the porch.

"Hurrah! Jack," the latter shouted; "you're going to be first out
after all."

"Going to be first out?" Jack gasped. "What on earth do you mean,

"Come into the parlor, Jack," his father said, "and you shall hear all
about it."

Here his mother and two sisters were sitting.

"My dear boy," the former said, rising and throwing her arms round his
neck, "this is sudden indeed."

"What is sudden, mother? What is sudden?" Jack asked. "What is it all
about?" and noticing a tear on his mother's cheek, he went on, "It
can't be those beastly verses, is it?" the subject most upon his mind
being prominent. "But no, it couldn't be that. Even if Wallace took it
into his head to make a row about them, there would not be time. But
what is it, mother?"

"Sit down, Jack," his father said. "You know, my boy, you have always
said that you would like to go to sea. I had no interest that way, but
six months ago I wrote to my nephew Charles, who is, as you know, a
first lieutenant in the navy, and asked him if he thought he could get
you a midshipman's berth. He wrote back to say that he was at present
on half pay, and feared it would be a long time before he was afloat
again, as there were but few ships in commission, and he had not much
interest. But if he were appointed he might be able to get you a berth
on board the ship. As that didn't seem very hopeful, I thought it
better to say nothing to you about it. However, this morning, just
after you had started for school, the postman brought a letter from
him, saying that, owing to the threatening state of affairs in the
East, a number of ships were being rapidly put in commission, and that
he had been appointed to the 'Falcon,' and had seen the captain, and
as the latter, who happened to be an old friend of his, had no one in
particular whom he wished to oblige, he had kindly asked the Admiralty
for a midshipman's appointment for you. This he had, of course,
obtained. The 'Falcon' is being fitted out with all haste, and you are
to join at once. So I shall take you to Portsmouth to-morrow."

Jack was too much delighted and surprised to be able to speak at
first. But after a minute or two he recovered his breath, uttered a
loud hurrah of delight, and then gave vent to his feelings by
exuberantly kissing his mother and sisters.

"This is glorious," he said. "Only to think that I, who have just been
blown up for my verses, am a midshipman in her Majesty's service. I
can hardly believe that it is true. Oh, father, I have so wished to go
to sea, but I have never said much about it because I thought you did
not like it, and now to think of my getting it when I had quite given
up all hope, and just at a time, too, when there seems to be a chance
of a row. What is it all about, father? I have heard you say something
about a dispute with Russia, but I never gave much attention to it."

"The cause of the dispute is trumpery enough, and in itself wholly
insufficient to cause a war between two great nations. It began by a
squabble about the holy places at Jerusalem, as to the rights of the
Greek and Latin pilgrims respectively."

"But what have we got to do with either the Latin or the Greek
pilgrims?" Jack asked. "I should have thought that we were quite
bothered enough with Latin and Greek verses, without having anything
to do with pilgrims. Besides, I didn't know there were any Latins now,
and the Greeks ain't much."

Major Archer smiled.

"The Latin pilgrims are the members of the countries which profess the
Roman Catholic religion, while the Greeks are those who profess the
religion of the Greek Church. That is to say, in the present case,
principally Russians. There have for years been squabbles, swelling
sometimes into serious tumults, between the pilgrims of these creeds,
the matter being generally complicated by the interference of the
Turkish authorities with them. The Russian government has been
endeavoring to obtain from Turkey the protectorate of all Christians
in her dominions, which France, as the leading Catholic country,
naturally objects to. All this, however, is only a pretext. The real
fact is that Russia, who has for centuries been casting a longing eye
upon Turkey, thinks that the time has arrived when she can carry out
her ambitious designs. It has always been our policy, upon the other
hand, to sustain Turkey. We have large interests in the Mediterranean,
and a considerable trade with the Levant, and were Russia to extend
her dominion to Constantinople, our position would be seriously
menaced. Moreover, and this perhaps is the principal point, it is
absolutely necessary for us in the future to be dominant in the east
of the Mediterranean. Egypt is rapidly becoming our highway to India,
and many men think that in the future our trade with that great
dependency will flow down the valley of the Euphrates. Consequently,
it is necessary to prevent Russia, at any cost, obtaining a footing
south of the Black Sea."

"And do you think, father, that there will really be a war?"

"I'm inclined to think that there will be, Jack, although this is not
the popular opinion. We have so long, in England, been talking about
the iniquity of war that I believe that the Emperor Nicholas has
persuaded himself that we will not fight at any price. In this I am
sure that he is wholly mistaken. So long as there was no probability
of war, the people of England have quietly permitted the cheese-paring
politicians who govern us to cut down the army and navy to a point
when we can hardly be said to have an army at all. But I am convinced
that the people of England are at heart as warlike as of old. Few
nations have done more fighting than we, and, roughly speaking, the
wars have always been popular. If the people at large once become
convinced that the honor and interest of England are at stake, they
will go to war, and the politicians in power will have to follow the
popular current, or give way to men who will do so. At present,
however, the general idea is that a demonstration upon the part of
England and France, will be sufficient to prevent Russia from taking
any further steps. I think myself that Russia has gone too far to draw
back. Russia is a country where the czars are nominally all-powerful,
but where, in point of fact, they are as much bound as other
sovereigns to follow the wishes of the country. The conquest of
Constantinople has long been the dream of every Russian, and now that
the Czar has held out hopes that this dream is about to be realized,
he will scarcely like to draw back."

"But surely, father," Harry Archer said, "Russia cannot think herself
a match for England and France united."

"I don't know that, my boy. Russia has an enormous population, far
larger than that of England and France united. Every man, from the
highest to the lowest, is at the disposal of the Czar, and there is
scarcely any limit to the force which he is capable of putting into
the field. Russia has not fought since the days of Napoleon, and in
those days the Russian troops showed themselves to be as good as any
in Europe. At Borodino and Smolensko they were barely defeated after
inflicting enormous losses on the emperor's army, and, as in the end,
they annihilated the largest army even Napoleon had ever got together,
they may well think that, fighting close to their own borders, while
England and France have to take their troops across Europe, they will
be more than a match for us. And now, Jack, we must go down to the
town. There is much to do and to think about. The principal part of
your outfit I shall, of course, get at Portsmouth, where the tailors
are accustomed to work at high pressure. But your underclothes we can
get here. Now, my dear, if you will go upstairs and look through
Jack's things, and let me know exactly how he stands, I will go down
with him to the town, and get anything he requires."

"And will you be able to spare me for a quarter-of-an-hour, father? I
should like to be outside the school when they come out at one
o'clock, to say good-bye to them. Won't they be surprised, and jolly
envious? Oh no, I should think not! They would give their ears, some
of them, I know, to be in my place. I should like to say good-bye,
too, to old Marshall. His face will be a picture when he finds that he
is not going to drop on me for those verses, after all."

It was a day of bustle and business, and Jack, until the very moment
when he was embracing his weeping mother and sisters, while his father
stood at the door, in front of which was the pony-chaise, which was
waiting to take him down to the station, could hardly realize that it
was all true, that his school-days were over, and that he was really a
midshipman in her Majesty's service.

Harry had already gone to the station on foot, as the back seat in the
pony-chaise was occupied by Jack's luggage, and the last words that he
said, as he shook hands with his brother, were,--

"I shouldn't be surprised, old boy, if we were to meet in the East
before long. If anything comes of it, they will have to increase the
strength of the army as well as of the navy, and it will be bad luck
indeed if the 33d is left behind."

On arriving at Portsmouth, Major Archer took up his quarters at the
famous George Inn, and, leaving their luggage there, was soon on his
way down to the Hard. Half a century had gone by since Portsmouth had
exhibited such a scene of life and bustle. Large numbers of extra
hands had been taken on at the dockyards, and the fitters and riggers
labored night and day, hastening on the vessels just put into
commission. The bakeries were at work turning out biscuits as fast as
they could be made, and the stores were crammed to repletion with
commissariat and other stores. In addition to the ships of war,
several large merchant steamers, taken up as transports, lay alongside
the wharves, and an unusual force of military were concentrated in the
town, ready for departure. By the Hard were a number of boats from the
various men-of-war lying in the harbor or off Spithead, whose officers
were ashore upon various duties. Huge dockyard barges, piled with
casks and stores, were being towed alongside the ships of war, and the
bustle and life of the scene were delightful indeed to Jack,
accustomed only to the quiet sleepiness of a cathedral town like
Canterbury. Inquiring which was the "Falcon," a paddle steamer moored
in the stream was pointed out to them by a boatman.

"Oh dear," Jack said, "she looks small in comparison with those big

"She is none the worse, Jack, for that," his father said. "If there
should be fighting, it will scarcely be at sea. The Russian fleet will
not venture to engage the fleets of England and France united, and you
are likely to see much more active work in a vessel like the 'Falcon'
than in one of those floating castles. Hullo, Charles, is that you?"
he broke off, lying his hand upon the shoulder of a naval officer, who
was pushing his way though the crowd of boatmen and sailors to a
man-of-war gig, which, with many others, was lying by the Hard.

"Hullo, uncle, is that you?" he replied. "I am glad to see you. I was
expecting you here in a day or so. I thought you would run down with
the youngster. Well, Jack, how are you? Why, it must be eight years
since I saw you. You were quite a little chap then. Well, are you
thinking of thrashing the Russians?"

"The boy is half out of his mind with pleasure, Charles," Major Archer
said, "and he and all of us are greatly obliged to you for your
kindness in getting him his berth. I think you will find him active
and intelligent, though I fear he has not shone greatly at school,
especially," he said smiling, "in his Latin verses."

"He will make none the worse sailor for that," Charles Hethcote said
with a laugh. "But I must be going on board. I have a message from the
admiral to the captain and every moment is precious, for things are
terribly behindhand. The dockyard people are wellnigh out of their
wits with the pressure put upon them, and we are ordered to be ready
to sail in a week. How it's all to be done, goodness only knows. You
need not come on board, Jack. I will tell the captain that you have
arrived, and he would not thank me for bringing any live lumber on
board just at present. You had better get him his outfit, uncle, at
once, and then he can report himself in full trim to-morrow."

Giving the major the address of the tailor who could be trusted to
supply Jack's uniform without loss of time, and accepting an
invitation to dine at the "George" that evening, if he could possibly
get away from the ship, Lieutenant Hethcote stepped into the gig, and
made his way to the "Falcon."

Major Archer and Jack first paid a visit to the tailor, where all the
articles necessary for the outfit were ordered and promised for next
day. They then visited the dockyard, and Jack was immensely impressed
at the magnitude of the preparations which were being made for the
war. Then they strolled down the ramparts, and stood for some time
watching the batches of recruits being drilled, and then, as the short
winter day was drawing to a close, they returned to the "George."



It was on the 1st of February, 1854, that the "Falcon" sailed from
Portsmouth for the East, and ten days later she dropped her anchor at
Gibraltar harbor. Jack Archer was by this time thoroughly at home. In
the week's hard work during the preparation for sea at Portsmouth, he
had learned as much of the names of the ropes, and the various parts
of the ship, as he would have done in a couple of months at sea, and
had become acquainted with his new ship-mates. So great had been the
pressure of work, that he had escaped much of the practical joking to
which a new-comer on board ship, as at school, is generally subject.

He had for comrades four midshipmen; one of these, Simmons, had
already nearly served his time, and was looking forward to the war as
giving him a sure promotion; two others, Delafield and Hawtry, had
already served for two or three years at sea, although only a year or
so older than Jack, while the fourth, Herbert Coveney, was a year
younger, and was, like Jack, a new hand. There were also in the berth
two master's mates, young men of from twenty to two-and-twenty. With
all of these Jack, with his high spirits, good-tempered face, merry
laugh, soon became a favorite.

During the first two days at sea he had suffered the usual agonies
from sea-sickness. But before reaching Gibraltar he had got his
sea-legs and was regularly doing duty, being on the watch of the
second lieutenant, Mr. Pierson.

The wind, which had blown strongly across the Bay of Biscay and down
the coast of Portugal, moderated as the "Falcon" steamed past Cape St.
Vincent with its picturesque monastery, and the straits were calm as a
mill-pond as she slowly made her way along the Spanish coast and
passed Tarifa. Up to the time when she dropped her anchor in the Bay
of Gibraltar, the only incident which had happened on the way was
that, as they steamed up the straits, they passed close by a
homeward-bound P. and O. steamer, whose passengers crowded the sides,
and cheered and waved their handkerchiefs to the eastward-bound ship.

The "Falcon" was not a fast vessel, seldom making, under favorable
circumstances, more than eight knots an hour. She carried sixteen
guns, twelve of which were eighteen-pounders. It had been intended
that the "Falcon" should only stay a few hours at Gibraltar,
proceeding immediately she had taken in a fresh supply of coal. The
engineers, however, reported several defects in her machinery, which
would take three or four days to put in order.

Jack was pleased at the delay, as he was anxious to set his foot for
the first time ashore in a foreign country, and to visit the famous
fortifications of the Rock. The first day he did not ask for leave, as
he did not wish to presume upon his being the first lieutenant's

Charles Hethcote differed widely from the typical first lieutenant of
fiction, a being as stiff as a ramrod, and as dangerous to approach as
a polar bear. He was, indeed, a bright, cheery fellow, and although he
was obliged to surround himself with a certain amount of official
stiffness, he was a great favorite among officers and crew.

It was not till the third day of his stay that Jack, his seniors
having all been ashore, asked for leave, which was at once granted.
Young Coveney, too, had landed on the previous day, and Hawtry, whom
Jack was inclined to like most of his shipmates, now accompanied him.
They had leave for the whole day, and, as soon as breakfast was over,
they went ashore.

"What a rum old place!" Hawtry said, as they wandered along the
principal street. "It looks as Spanish as ever. Who would have thought
that it had been an English town for goodness knows how long?"

"I wish I had paid a little more attention to history," Jack said. "It
makes one feel like a fool not to know such things as that when one
comes to a famous place like this. Look at that tall fellow with the
two little donkeys. Poor little brutes, they can scarcely stagger
under their loads. There is a pretty girl with that black thing over
her head, a mantilla don't they call it? There is a woman with
oranges, let's get some. Now, I suppose, the first thing is to climb
up to the top of the Rock."

With their pockets full of oranges, the boys started on their climb,
which was accomplished in capital time. From the flagstaff they
enjoyed the magnificent view of the African coast across the straits,
of Spain stretching away to their right, of the broad expanse of the
blue Mediterranean, and of the bay with its ships, and the "Falcon"
dwarfed to the dimensions of a toy vessel, at their feet. Then they
came down, paid a flying visit to the various fortifications and to
the galleries, whence the guns peer out threateningly across the low,
sandy spit, known as the neutral ground.

When all this was finished, it was only natural that they should go to
the principal hotel and eat a prodigious luncheon, and then Hawtry
proposed that they should sally out for a ramble into Spain.

They had been disappointed in the oranges, which they found in no way
better than those which they had bought in England. But they thought
that if they could pick them off the trees, they must somehow have a
superior flavor. Accordingly they sallied out by the land gate, passed
unquestioned through the line of British sentries, and were soon in
the little village inside the Spanish lines.

"It's awfully hot," Hawtry said, mopping his forehead. "Who would have
thought that it would have been so hot as this in any place in Europe
in the middle of February? Just fancy what it must be here in July!
Look, there is a fellow with two mules. I expect he would let them. I
vote we go for a ride. It's too hot for walking altogether.

"I say, old boy," he said, approaching a tall and powerfully-built
man, who was smoking a cigar, and leaning lazily against one of his
mules; "you let mules, we hire them, eh?"

The Spaniard opened his eyes somewhat, but made no reply, and
continued to smoke tranquilly.

"Oh, nonsense," Hawtry said. "Look here."

And he put his hand into his pocket and pulled out some silver. Then
he made signs of mounting one of the mules, and waved his hand over
the surrounding country to signify that he wanted a general ride.

The Spaniard nodded, held up five fingers, and touched one of the
mules, and did the same with the other.

"He wants five shillings a head," Hawtry said.

"I don't know," Jack said doubtfully. "I don't suppose he knows much
about shillings. It may be five dollars or five anything else. We'd
better show him five shillings, and come to an understanding that that
is what he means before we get on."

The Spaniard, on being shown the five shillings, shook his head, and
pointing to a dollar which they had obtained in change on shore,
signified that these were the coins he desired.

"Oh, nonsense!" Hawtry said indignantly. "You don't suppose we're such
fools as to give you a pound apiece for two or three hours' ride on
those mules of yours. Come on, Jack. We won't put up with being
swindled like that."

So saying the two lads turned away, and started on their walk.

While they were speaking to the Spaniard, he had been joined by one of
his countrymen, and when they turned away, these entered into a rapid
conversation together. The result was, that before the boys had gone
thirty yards, the Spaniard with the mules called them back again, and
intimated that he accepted their terms.

They were about to jump up at once, but the man signed to them to
stop, and his companion in a minute or two had brought out two rough
rugs which were secured with some cords over the wooden saddles.

"That's an improvement," Jack said. "I was just wondering how we were
going to sit on those things, which are not saddles at all, but only
things for boxes and barrels to be fastened to."

"I wonder which way we'd better go," Hawtry said, as he climbed up
with some difficulty, aided by the Spaniard, on to one of the mules.
"My goodness, Jack, this is horribly uncomfortable. I never can stand
this. Hi, there! help me down. It would be better a hundred times to
ride barebacked."

Accordingly the saddles were taken off, the rugs folded and secured on
the animals' backs by a rope passed round them, and then the boys
again took their seats.

"I hope the brutes are quiet," Jack said, "for I am nothing of a rider
at the best of times, and one feels an awful height at the top of
these great mules, with one's legs dangling without stirrups."

"If you find yourself going, Jack," Hawtry said, "the best thing is to
catch hold of his ears. Come on, let's get out of this. All the
village is staring at us."

The mules, upon the reins being jerked, and boys' heels briskly
applied to their ribs, moved on at a fast walk.

"We shall have to stop under a tree and cut a stick presently," Hawtry
said. "It will not do to get down, for I should never be able to climb
up again. Mind, we must take our bearings carefully, else we shall
never get back again. We have neither chart nor compass. Hallo! here
comes the mules' master."

They had by this time gone two or three hundred yards from the
village, and, behind them, at a brisk trot, seated on a diminutive
donkey, was the Spaniard.

"Perhaps it's best he should come," Jack said. "There will be no fear
of being lost then, and if one of us gets capsized, he can help him up

Upon the Spaniard coming up to them, he gave a sharp shout to the
mules, at the same time striking the donkey on which he rode with a
stick. Instantly the mules, recognizing the signal, started into a
sharp trot, the first effect of which was to tumble Hawtry from his
seat into the road, Jack with difficulty saving himself by clutching
wildly at the mane.

"Confound it!" Hawtry exclaimed furiously, as he regained his feet, to
the Spaniard. "Why didn't you say what you were going to be up to?
Starting the ship ahead at full speed without notice! I believe I've
broken some of my ribs. Don't you laugh too soon, Jack. It will be
your turn next."

The Spaniard helped Hawtry to regain his seat, and they were soon
clattering along the dusty road at a brisk rate, the boys quickly
getting accustomed to the pace, which, indeed, was smooth and easy.
For hours they rode on, sometimes trotting, sometimes walking, taking
no heed whither they were going, and enjoying the novelty of the ride,
the high cactus hedges, the strange vegetation, little villages here
and there, sometimes embowered in orange trees, and paying no heed to

Presently Jack exclaimed,--

"I say, Hawtry, it must be getting late. We have been winding and
turning about, and I have not an idea how far we are now from Gib. We
must be through the gates by gun-fire, you know."

They stopped, and by pantomime explained to the Spaniard that they
wanted to get back again as soon as possible.

He nodded, made a circle with his arm, and, as they understood,
explained that they were making a circuit, and would arrive ere long
at their starting-place.

For another hour and a half they rode along, chatting gayly.

"I say, Jack," Hawtry exclaimed suddenly, "why, there's the sun pretty
nearly down, and here we are among the hills, in a lonelier looking
place than we have come to yet. I don't believe we're anywhere near
Gib. I say, old fellow, it strikes me we're getting into a beastly
mess. What on earth's to be done?"

They checked their mules, and looked at each other.

"What can the Spaniard's game be, Hawtry? We've had a good five
shillings' worth."

"Let us take our own bearings," Hawtry said. "The sun now is nearly on
our left. Well, of course, that is somewhere about west-sou-west, so
we must be going northward. I don't think that can be right. I'm sure
it can't. Look here, you fellow, there is the sun setting there"--and
he pointed to it--"Gibraltar must lie somewhere over there, and that's
the way we mean to go."

The Spaniard looked surly, then he pointed to the road ahead, and
indicated that it bent round the next spur of the hill, and made a
detour in the direction in which Hawtry indicated that Gibraltar must

"What on earth shall we do, Jack? If this fellow means mischief, we
are in an awkward fix. I don't suppose he intends to attack us,
because we with our dirks would be a match for him with that long
knife of his. But if he means anything, he has probably got some other
fellows with him."

"Then hadn't we better go in for him at once," Jack said, "before he
gets any one to help him?"

Hawtry laughed.

"We can hardly jump off our mules and attack him without any specific
reason. We might get the worst of it, and even if we didn't how should
we get back again, and how should we account for having killed our
mule-driver? No. Whatever we are in for, we must go through with it
now, Jack. Let us look as though we trusted him."

So saying, they continued on the road by which they had previously

"I don't believe," Hawtry said, after a short silence, "that they can
have any idea of cutting our throats. Midshipmen are not in the habit
of carrying much money about with them, but I have heard of Guerillas
carrying people off to the mountains and getting ransoms. There, we
are at the place where that fellow said the road turned. It doesn't
turn. Now, I vote we both get off our mules and decline to go a step

"All right," Jack said. "I shall know a good deal better what I am
doing on my feet than I shall perched up here!"

The two boys at once slid off their mules to the ground.

"There is no turning there," Hawtry said, turning to the hill. "You
have deceived us, and we won't go a foot farther," and turning, the
lads started to walk back along the road they had come.

The Spaniard leapt from his donkey, and with angry gesticulation
endeavored to arrest them. Finding that they heeded not his orders, he
put his hand on his knife, but in a moment the boys' dirks flashed in
the air.

"Now, my lad," Hawtry said. "Two can play at that game, and if you
draw that knife, we'll let daylight into you."

The Spaniard hesitated, then drew back and gave a loud, shrill whistle
which was, the boys fancied, answered in the distance.

"Come on, Jack. We must run for it. We can leave this lumbering
Spaniard behind, I have no doubt," and sheathing their dirks, the boys
set off at full speed.

The Spaniard appeared inclined to follow them, but distrusting his
powers, he paused, gave a long, shrill whistle, twice repeated, and
then mounted his donkey and driving the mules before him, he followed
the boys at a hand gallop.

They had, however, a good start, and maintained their advantage.

"I don't think," Jack said, "we have passed a village for the last
hour. When we get to one, we'd better rush into a house, and ask for
shelter. These fellows will hardly dare to touch us there."

Had the race been simply between the boys and their immediate pursuer,
it is probable that they would have won it, for they were light,
active, and in good condition, while the animals behind them had
already been travelling for five hours, at a rate considerably above
the speed to which they were accustomed. The road, however, was an
exceedingly winding one, which gave time to the confederates of the
mule-driver to make a short cut, and, as the boys turned a sharp
corner, they saw three men barring the road in front.

"It's all up, Jack," Hawtry said, pausing in his run. "It's no use
making any resistance. We should only get our throats cut straight

Jack agreed, and they walked up to the men in front just as the
muleteer came galloping up with his troupe.

"What do you want with us?" Hawtry said, advancing to the men.

There was a volley of maledictions at the run they had given them. The
boys were seized by the collar, their dirks, watches, and money
roughly taken from them, their arms tied to their sides by the ropes
taken from the mules, and they were motioned to accompany their
captors. These at once left the road and struck up the hill, the
muleteer proceeding along the road with the animals.

With their arms tied, the boys found it hard work to keep up with
their captors, who strode along with long steps. The sun had by this
time sunk, and presently they heard the distant boom of the sunset gun
from Gibraltar.

"That gun must be fifteen miles away," Hawtry said. "What fools we
have been, Jack, to be sure!"

In one of the three men who accompanied them they recognized the
peasant who had spoken to the muleteer when he refused to accept their
first offer, and they had no doubt that he had arranged with the man
to lead them to a certain spot, to which he had proceeded direct,
while their guide had conducted them by a circuitous route.

They walked for four hours without a pause, ever ascending among the
hills, until they at last reached a sort of plateau, upon which some
six or eight men were gathered round a fire. Upon three sides the hill
rose abruptly, on the fourth the ground sloped away, and in front,
seemingly almost at their feet, some 2000 feet below them stretched
away the waters of the Mediterranean, sparkling in the moonlight.

"They have got something to eat that smells nice," Jack said, as they
approached the fire. "I hope to goodness they are going to give us
some. I feel awfully peckish."

The men gathered round the fire rose at the approach of the
new-comers, and an animated conversation took place. Then the boys
were motioned to sit down, and the rest threw themselves round the
fire. Some meat which was roasting on a rough spit over it was taken
off, and one of the men undid the cords which tied their arms, and a
share of the meat was given them.

"This is stunning," Jack said. "What on earth is it? It does not taste
to me like mutton, or beef, or pork, or veal."

"I fancy it's kid," Hawtry said. "Well, it is evident they have no
idea of cutting our throats. If they had been going to do that, they
would have done it a quarter of a mile after we left the road. I
suppose they are going to try to get a ransom for us. Where it's
coming from as far as I'm concerned, I don't know, for my father is a
clergyman, and has as much as he can do to make ends meet, for there
are eight of us and I'm the eldest."

"It's an awful fix altogether," Jack said. "And anyhow, we shall lose
our ship and get into a frightful row, and, if somebody won't pay our
ransom, I suppose they will knock us on the head finally. The best
thing, you know, will be for us to make our escape."

"But how on earth are we to do that?" Hawtry said. "There are ten of
them, and I see a lot of guns piled there."

"Oh, I daresay we shall see some chance," Jack said cheerfully. "We
must think it over. Jack Easy, Peter Simple, and all those fellows
used to get into worse scrapes than this, and they always managed to
get out of them somehow; so why shouldn't we? The best thing is, just
to think what one of them would have done if he had been in our place.
I wish to goodness that we had Mesty prowling about somewhere; he
would get us out in no time."

Hawtry answered with a grunt, and devoted himself to his kid.
Presently Jack spoke again.

"Look here, Hawtry, I vote that to begin with we both pretend to be in
an awful funk. If they think that we are only two frightened boys,
they won't keep as sharp a watch over us as if they thought we were
determined fellows, likely to attempt our escape. There is the sea
down there in front of us, and there are sure to be villages on the
coast. Therefore we shall know which way to go if we once manage to
escape, and, if we can get down there, we can either claim the
protection of the head man in the village, or we can take a boat and
make off to sea."

When the meal was over, one of the men, who appeared to be the leader,
rose and come to the boys. Pointing to himself, he said, "Pedro," to
another "Sancho," to a third "Garcia."

"He wants to know our names," Jack said, and pointing to his
companion, he said, "Hawtry," and to himself "Archer."

The Spaniard nodded and resumed his seat, when an animated
conversation took place. Jack, in the meantime, began to enact the
part which he had arranged, turning over upon his face, and at times
making a loud, sobbing noise.

Hawtry, after hesitating for some time, seconded his efforts by
burying his face in his hands, and appearing also to give way to
violent grief.



Shortly after the meal was over, the brigands rose. The boys were
again bound, and were laid down on the ground near the fire. One of
the brigands then took his seat beside them, and the others, rolling
themselves in their cloaks, were soon asleep at the fire. The boys,
tired as they were by the long and fatiguing day through which they
had passed, were some time getting off to sleep. Indeed, with their
arms bound by their side, the only way of doing so was by lying flat
upon their backs.

With the early dawn they were awake.

"I expect they are getting up steam on board the 'Falcon,'" Hawtry
said, "and no doubt there is a nice row over our being missing. I'd
give a good sum, if I had it to give, to be back on her decks again."

The band was soon astir, but for some hours nothing was done. They
were evidently waiting for the arrival of some one, as one or other of
the bandits went frequently to the edge of the plateau and looked

At last one of them announced to his comrades that the person expected
was in sight, and shortly afterwards the muleteer of the previous day
appeared. Over his shoulder hung a heavy skin of wine. In his hand he
carried a large basket, in which were several loaves of coarse bread.
His arrival was hailed with a shout. A fresh supply of meat had been
placed on the fire immediately his coming was reported, and in a short
time the meal was prepared, the meat being washed down by horns of the
rough wine of the country.

The lads had been again unbound when the band awoke, and were, as
before, invited to share the meal. They continued to maintain their
forlorn and downcast attitude. The rascally guide of the day before
gave the company an account of the proceedings, and roars of laughter
were excited by his tragic imitation of the defiant way in which the
boys had drawn their dirks, a proceeding which was rendered the more
ludicrous from its contrast with their present forlorn attitude.

"But mind," he continued, "they can run like hares. Going up a hill,
no doubt, any of you would soon overtake them, but along a straight
road, I would back them against the best of us."

"There is no fear of their trying that," the chief said, pointing to
the rifles. "They would soon be stopped if they tried it on. However,
they are not likely to make any such mad attempt. They are, after all,
only young boys, and their spirit has speedily evaporated."

However, as a measure of precaution, he ordered that the man who was
acting as sentry over the boys should always keep his rifle in hand.

The meal over, the muleteer produced from his pocket some
writing-paper and a pencil. The chief then wrote on a piece of paper
the figures 5000, followed by the word "dollars." Then he said to the
boys, "Capitan," giving them a pencil and a sheet of note-paper. He
pointed to the figures he had written down, then to the sun, marked
with his hand its course twice through the sky, and then drew it
significantly across his throat.

"Well," Hawtry said, "that's clear enough. We are to write to the
captain to say that unless 5000 dollars are paid in two days we are to
have our throats cut. Well, I may as well write,--

"Dear Captain Stuart,--We are in an awful mess. We took some mules in
the Spanish lines for a ride yesterday, and the fellow who owned them
steered us into the middle of a lot of brigands. They were too strong
for us to show fight, and here we are. As far as we can make out, they
say that, unless 5000 dollars are paid in two days, we are to have our
throats cut. We don't expect that you will get this note, as by this
time the 'Falcon' was to have sailed. In that case we suppose it will
be all up with us. We intend to try to slip our anchors, and make a
bolt for it. We are awfully sorry that we have got into this scrape."

To this epistle the boys both signed their names, and as the muleteer
had not provided himself with envelopes, the letter was roughly folded
and directed,--

"Captain Stuart, H.M.S. 'Falcon.'"

Another letter, embodying the same in the form of a demand, was then
written, after much consultation, by the brigands, with postscript
stating that if the bearer were in any way molested, the prisoners
would at once be put to death. The youngest of the party, a peasant of
some twenty years old, was then selected, and to him the letters were
given, with full instructions as to his conduct.

During the next two days, the boys maintained their appearance of
extreme despondency. They lay on the ground with their faces buried in
their arms, and at times strolled listlessly about. They could see
that this conduct had lulled to rest any suspicion of their captors
that they might attempt an escape. The sentry no longer kept in their
immediate vicinity, and although he retained his gun in his hand, did
so as a mere form. The others went about their business, several of
them absenting themselves for hours together; and at one time but
three men, including the guard, remained at the encampment.

The boys kept every faculty on the alert, and were ready to seize the
first opportunity, however slight, which might offer itself. They
agreed, that however much their guard might be reduced, it would be
unsafe to make the attempt in the daytime, as they were wholly
ignorant of the way down to the sea, and the shouts of their pursuers
would be sure to attract the attention of any of the party who might
have gone in that direction.

As to the two days assigned for payment, they did not anticipate that
the crisis would arrive at the end of that time, as they felt sure
that the "Falcon" would have sailed before the messenger could have
arrived, in which case fresh negotiations would probably be set on

So it proved. On the evening of the day after his departure, the
messenger returned, and the news that he brought was greeted with an
outburst of ejaculations of anger and disappointment on the part of
the brigands. They crowded round the boys, shook their fists at them,
cuffed and kicked them. When they had somewhat recovered their
equanimity, they made signs that the ship had departed.

By using the word "Governor," they made the boys understand that a
fresh letter must be written to that officer.

This was done at once, and another of the party started immediately
with it.

Late on into the night the boys talked in low voices as to their best
plan of attempting an escape. Although free in the daytime, they were
tightly bound at night, and the guards, who were changed every two
hours, never for a moment relaxed their vigilance. Finally, they
concluded that their only chance was to endeavor to slip away on the
following evening, just as it became dusk, when all the party
generally reassembled, and were busy cooking their food, or relating
what had happened during the day.

Immediately in front of the encampment the slope was extremely steep.
The brigands, in going or coming, always turned to the right or left,
and kept along the brow for some distance to points where, as the boys
supposed, the slope became more gradual, and paths existed by which
they could make their way down to the shore.

At one time the boys thought of rolling down the steep slope, and
taking their chance, but this they agreed would be a last resource, as
it was probable that the slope ended in an absolute precipice.

"I have an idea," Jack said suddenly in the middle of the day.

"What is it, Jack?"

"You see that heap of rugs in which they wrap themselves when they go
to sleep? Now I vote that when it gets dusk, we stand for some time at
the edge, looking down into the sea; then, when we see our guard
chatting with one of the men who have just arrived, and the others
busy round the fire, we will quietly move back towards it. If our
guard notices us at all, he won't pay any special attention, as we are
going that way. We will steal up to the rear of the blankets, within a
few feet of where they are standing, and will crawl quietly under
them. When we are missed, they are sure to suppose that we have either
made down the slope, or along the brow, and will at once set off in
pursuit. The betting is they'll all go, but if only one or two are
left, we may take them by surprise. At any rate it seems our best

Hawtry agreed, and it was decided that they should attempt to put the
plan into execution that evening.

Late in the afternoon, the brigands, as usual, came dropping in, in
twos and threes. One brought in a kid, and two others exhibited to
their admiring friends a purse containing some ten or twelve dollars
in silver. They related, amid the uproarious laughter of their
comrades, the manner in which they had threatened the worthy farmer,
its late possessor, into surrendering the proceeds of his day's
marketing without resistance. It was already dusk. Jack and Hawtry had
a minute before been standing near the edge of the slope. The guard
was chatting with the last comer, and keeping one ear open to the
narrative told by the fire.

Suddenly he glanced round, and perceived that the figures he had, as
he believed, scarcely taken his eye off were missing.

"Madre de Dios!" he exclaimed. "Where are the prisoners?"

At his exclamation, all round the fire started into activity. A hasty
glance round the encampment showed that their captives were not within
its circle. With an exclamation of fury, the captain seized his gun,
and with the butt-end struck the sentry to the ground. Then in furious
tones he ordered every man off in instant pursuit. Snatching up their
arms, some hurried off one way, some another, shouting threats of
vengeance as they went.

As their voices receded, there was a slight movement among the rugs,
and the boys' heads peered out from below their hiding-place. The
encampment was deserted, save that on the ground lay the form of the
prostrate sentinel, while the captain stood, gun in hand, on the edge
of the slope, peering down into the gathering darkness.

The boys rose stealthily to their feet, and keeping along by the side
of the hill, so as to be out of the direct line of sight should the
brigand turn towards the fire, they noiselessly approached him.

He did not look round until they were within five paces, and it was
then too late. He turned and threw up his gun, but before he could
level it, they both threw themselves upon him.

Taken wholly by surprise, he staggered backwards. He was but a pace
from the edge of the steep declivity, and in another moment he fell
backward, his gun exploding in the air as he went. The boys heard his
body as it rolled and crashed through the slight brushwood on the
slope. Fainter and fainter became the sound, and then it suddenly

As long as it continued the boys stood motionless, and were turning to
go, when there was the crack of a rifle, and a ball whizzed between
them. Leaping round, they saw the guard, whom they had supposed to be
insensible, had risen to his feet. Throwing down the rifle which he
had just discharged, and drawing his long knife, he rushed at them.

"Dodge him, Hawtry, dodge him. Get hold of the rifle. I will get a
stick from the fire."

The boys separated, one going each way. The Spaniard, still bewildered
by the stunning blow he had received, hesitated a moment, and then
rushed at Jack, who darted round the fire. Hawtry seized the rifle,
and with the butt-end attacked the Spaniard, who turned to defend
himself. Jack snatched up a heavy brand from the fire, and coming
behind the Spaniard, who was waiting, knife in hand, for an
opportunity to rush in between the sweeping blows which Hawtry was
dealing at him with the butt-end of the rifle, smote him with all his
force across the side of the head.

With a scream of agony the Spaniard fell prostrate and Jack, snatching
up his knife, while Hawtry still retained the rifle, they darted off
at full speed along the brow.

Presently they heard footsteps of men hastily returning, and drawing
aside, threw themselves down among some low bushes. The men were
talking eagerly. They had heard the two reports of the guns, and had
no doubt that the captain had discovered the fugitives.

When the Spaniards had passed, the boys rose to their feet, and
continued their flight at the top of their speed. The men had come
from below, and the boys soon discovered traces of a path descending
the slope. This they at once took, proceeding with caution now, for
the descent was an extremely steep one, and the path little more than
a goat track. Fortunately the moon was shining brightly, and by its
light they were enabled to follow its windings.

After half an hour's descent, they found themselves in a rough road,
along the face of the hill. This they doubted not was the road from
one of the coast villages into the interior. They now went more
cautiously, for the road was extremely rough, with large stones lying
here and there upon it, and a heavy fall or a sprained ankle would be
disastrous. They had no fear of pursuit. Once or twice they fancied
that they heard shouts far above them, but they considered it likely
that the band would be too far paralyzed by the loss of their captain
to again take up the pursuit.

Three hours later, they stood by the sea shore, near a tiny fishing
village, composed of three or four houses only. They held a
consultation as to whether it would be better to rouse the villagers
and explain the circumstances, but they had become suspicious of
Spaniards, and thought it likely that there would be a close
relationship between the people here and the band in their
neighborhood. No lights were visible in the village, and it was
probable that the inhabitants were already in bed.

They sat down for another hour to avoid the chance of their being
surprised by any straggler. Then, proceeding to the shore, they
launched a small boat. Hawtry stepped the mast and hoisted the sail,
and they were soon making their way off the land. The wind was light,
and their progress slow. For a time they kept straight out to sea, and
then turned the boat's head towards Gibraltar.

The wind presently died quite away, and, lowering the sails, they got
out the oars, and set to work. Beyond trying once or twice upon the
Stour, Jack had had no experience in rowing, and his clumsiness
excited considerable indignation on the part of Hawtry. The boat was
heavy, and their progress, in consequence, very slow. They calculated
that they must have twenty-five miles to row, as the point at which
they were captured was, Hawtry had judged by the sound of the gun,
fully fifteen miles distant from it, and they had walked another ten
before arriving at the brigands' encampment.

All night they rowed, until the moon sank, this being, as they were
aware, about three o'clock. They then lay down in the boat for a nap,
and when they awoke it was daylight. They found that the wind had got
up, and was blowing steadily off shore, and that they were now distant
some five miles from land, the Rock of Gibraltar rising steeply from
the sea some ten miles from them in a straight line.

Hawtry at once set the sail again, and the boat was soon slipping fast
through the water.

"What a nuisance!" Hawtry said. "The wind is hauling farther round,
and we shall not make into the Rock this tack. This tub of a boat
makes no end of leeway. We shall have to make right across towards the
African shore, and then tack back again."

They were, as Hawtry anticipated, fully three miles to leeward of
Europa Point, as they passed the Rock. The wind was now blowing
strongly from the west.

"Upon my word," Hawtry said, "I question whether we shall ever be able
to make the Rock in this beast of a boat. She won't sail anywhere near
the wind, and makes awful leeway. Hurrah! there's a big steamer coming
out. We will hail her."

Hawtry now steered the boat till he had placed her as near as possible
in the line which the steamer was pursuing, and then lowered the sail,
and waited for her to come up.

When she came within a quarter of a mile the sail was again hoisted,
and Hawtry so steered the boat that for a moment Jack thought he would
put her under the bows of the steamer. This, however, had the effect
which Hawtry had intended, of drawing attention to them.

The steamer passed within thirty feet of them. Hawtry lowered the
sail, and standing up, shouted,--

"Throw us a rope!"

A number of persons had been attracted to the side, and one of the
officers, seeing two young midshipmen in the boat, at once threw a
rope to them, while the officer on duty ordered the engines to be
stopped. In another two minutes the boat was hauled alongside. The two
lads scrambled up the rope, the boat was cast adrift, and the steamer
was again ploughing her way eastward.

The boys found that they were on board the transport "Ripon," having
the Coldstream Guards on board, the first detachment of the army on
its way east.

Considerable excitement was caused by the sudden and unexpected
boarding of the ship by the two young officers, and great curiosity
was expressed as to how they had got into such a position. As Hawtry
said, however, that they had been twenty-four hours without food, they
were at once taken to the saloon, where breakfast was on the point of
being served. No questions were put to them until they had satisfied
their hunger; then they told the story of their adventures, which
caused quite an excitement among the officers.

The "Ripon" had sailed from Southampton docks on the 23d of February,
in company with the "Manilla" and "Orinoco."

The next four days passed pleasantly, the boys being made a good deal
of by the officers of the Coldstream Guards, but they were not sorry
when, on Saturday evening, the lights of Malta were seen, and soon
after midnight they dropped anchor in Valetta Harbor. The next morning
they were delighted at seeing the "Falcon" lying a few cables' length
distant, and, bidding good-bye to their new friends, they hailed a
shore boat, and were soon alongside the "Falcon." The first lieutenant
was on deck.

"Young gentlemen," he said sternly, "you have committed a very serious
offence, and are liable to be tried by court-martial for having
deserted your ship. I expected better things of you both. Go below
immediately, and consider yourselves under arrest. I shall report your
coming on board to the captain."

The boys saluted without a word, and went below to the midshipmen's
berth where the tale of their adventures was soon related to their
comrades, who were at first inclined to believe that the whole story
was an invention got up to screen themselves for breaking leave.
However, they soon saw that the boys were in earnest, and the truth of
the story as to their being picked up at sea by the "Ripon" could, of
course, at once be tested.

Presently they were summoned to the captain's cabin, and there Hawtry
again recited the story.

The captain told them that they had erred greatly in going away in
such a reckless manner, without taking proper precautions to secure
their return before gun-fire. But he said they had already been
punished so severely for their thoughtlessness that he should overlook
the offence, and that he complimented them on the courage and coolness
they had displayed in extricating themselves from the dangerous
position into which they had fallen.

He then invited them to breakfast, at which meal the first lieutenant
was also present, and here they gave much fuller details of their
escape than Hawtry had done in his first narration of it.

At ten o'clock, when the boys were below, they heard a loud cheering,
and found that the "Orinoco," with the Grenadiers, had just come into
harbor, and were being cheered by their comrades on board the "Ripon"
and by the blue jackets of the men-of-war.

All through the day the harbor was alive with boats. Before nightfall
the Coldstreams were all ashore, and by Monday evening the last of the
Grenadiers had also disembarked.



Every day brought fresh troops to Malta, until the brigade of Guards
and eleven regiments of infantry of the line were gathered there. The
streets of Valetta were like a fair, crowded with soldiery chattering
with the vendors of oranges, dates, olives, and apples. Cigars, too,
are nowhere cheaper than in Malta, and as, unfortunately, spirits were
equally low in price, the British soldier, small as was his daily rate
of pay, found but little difficulty in intoxicating himself.

In a few days the French began to put in an appearance, and the crowd
in the streets was even more lively and picturesque than before. All
this time the great topic of discussion was whether matters would or
would not come to the arbitration of war.

During their stay Jack Archer and his comrades enjoyed themselves
heartily, but it was by no means all play. The sailors had an immense
deal to do in moving stores, preparing fittings, and getting matters
ready for the forward despatch of the troops, should war be finally
decided upon.

A month after the arrival at Malta, the doubt was put an end to, for
upon the 28th of March war was formally declared, and on the 29th the
French sailed for Gallipoli, followed, the next day, by Sir George
Brown with the advance party of the light division.

The same day the "Falcon" steamed out of harbor, and, although the
stay at Malta had been enjoyed, all hands were delighted at the
advance towards the scene of future action.

Gallipoli stands near the upper end of the Dardanelles, and is an
important military position.

"It looks a nice little town," Delafield said, on returning after his
first visit in the captain's gig, to his comrades. "But I can't say
much for it when you see it at close quarters. One got tired of Malta,
but Malta was a paradise to this place. The confusion seems to be
tremendous. But those jolly old Turks are sitting at their doors,
smoking like so many old owls, and do not seem to interest themselves
in the slightest."

"And did you see any lovely houris?" Simmonds asked, laughing.

"That I did not," Delafield said. "I saw some bundles looking like
rolls of dirty white sheets ready for the wash, with a pair of big,
yellow shoes underneath them, and I believe that they were women. I
did not see any of their faces. I didn't want to, for I'm sure no
decently pretty woman would allow herself to be made such an object as

The same work of unloading and transporting goods to the shore, which
had gone on at Malta, was continued here. Every day fresh troops
arrived, English and French, and the whole of the undulating plain
round Gallipoli was dotted with their camps. By the end of the month
22,000 French and some 10,000 English were gathered there.

After the day's work was done, the midshipmen often got leave ashore,
and enjoyed the scene of bustle and confusion which reigned there.
Enormous numbers of pack animals and bullock-carts were at work, and
even at this early period of the campaign the immense superiority of
the French arrangements over the English was manifest. This was but
natural, as the French, like other European nations, had been in the
habit in time of peace of regarding the army as a machine which might
be required for war, and had therefore kept the commissariat,
transport, and other arrangements in a state of efficiency. In
England, upon the other hand, the army had been entirely neglected,
and had been made the subject of miserable, petty economy in all its
branches, and the consequence was that war found us wholly unprepared,
except that we possessed an army of seasoned soldiers such as, in the
nature of things under the new regulations, England will never see

On going ashore the midshipmen would sometimes ramble away to the
camp, sometimes stroll through the town, and amuse themselves by
chaffing the grave Turkish shopkeepers, by watching the English and
French soldiers staggering along with drunken gravity, sometimes with
their arms round each other's necks, or by kissing their hands airily
to the veiled figures, of whom they got dim glimpses through the
closely-latticed windows. The upper part of the town was inhabited
principally by Greeks, whose sympathies were, for the most part, with
the Russians, and who were as quarrelsome and turbulent as the Turks
were placid and good-natured.

One evening Hawtry and Jack had obtained leave to be out later than
usual, as they had been asked to dine with some of the officers of the
Coldstreams whom they had met on board the "Ripon." The meal was a
rough one, for the country had been completely eaten up by this
immense accession of strangers. Still, the caterer had succeeded in
procuring some tough fowls in addition to the ration beef, and as
these were washed down by champagne, there was no reason to grumble.

The boys spent a merry evening, and started at half-past ten for the
town. This was already quiet, and for the most part asleep, when they
reached it. A few officers, who had been dining with the various
generals who had their headquarters there, or with friends on board
ship, were the sole people in the streets, although from some of the
closed windows of the drinking-shops in the Greek quarter came sounds
of singing and noise, for every one was earning high wages, and the
place was full of Maltese, Alexandrians, Smyrniotes, and, indeed, the
riff-raff of all the Mediterranean cities, who had flocked to the
scene of action to make money as petty traders, hucksters,
camp-followers, mule-drivers, or commissariat-laborers.

As they were passing through a dark and silent street they suddenly
heard a sound of shouting and the clash of weapons, the fall of heavy
bodies, and the tramping of feet. Then a window was dashed open, a
voice shouted, "Help!" and then the strife continued as before.

"Come on, Archer," Hawtry exclaimed. "There are some of our fellows in
a row with these Greeks."

The door was fastened, but the boys burst in a window next to it,
leapt into the room, groped their way to the door, and then finding
the stairs, hurried up. On the landing a dim oil light was burning,
but it needed no light to indicate the room in which the struggle was
still proceeding. The door stood ajar, and the boys, with drawn dirks,
dashed into the room.

It was a large one. In the centre was a table on which were strewn
several packs of cards; some chairs lay on the ground; the oil from an
overturned lamp was forming a great black stain on the green
table-cloth. In the corner by the window, three officers with drawn
swords, were defending themselves against the attacks of some twenty
Greeks, armed with knives. In the confusion, none had noticed the
entry of the boys.

"Pick up a chair, Jack," Hawtry said, recoiling from the idea of
rushing with his dirk upon unprepared men.

The two lads each seized one of the strong, but light, chairs
scattered on the floor, and, with a sudden hurrah, flung themselves
upon the Greeks. Two or three of these were knocked down and the rest,
taken by surprise by the sudden attack, recoiled, and the boys were
speedily by the side of the assailed officers.

The Greeks drew back, but seeing how slight was the reinforcement,
again advanced to the attack. Three of their number lay upon the
ground, and several of the others were bleeding freely. Upon the other
hand, one of the officers leant against the wall, badly wounded, while
both of the others had received nasty cuts. They would, before this,
have been overpowered, had they not hastily pulled a small table and a
chair or two, so as to form a sort of barricade, across the angle, and
so prevented the Greeks from closing upon them. One of the officers
was an Englishman, the others were French. All were quite young men.
There was scarcely time for the exchange of a word before the Greeks
were upon them again.

The boys had again drawn their dirks, but these formed but a poor
weapon against the chairs with which several of the Greeks, seeing the
inferiority of their knives, had now armed themselves. Hawtry received
a crashing blow on the head which sent him staggering back against the
wall, and Jack one on his arm which rendered it useless.

"This will never do," the English officer shouted. "Let us make a rush
at the scoundrels, and fight our way to the door. It's our only

"Wait a moment," Jack said, a thought striking him. Stooping down
behind the others, he pulled out a matchbox from his pocket, struck a
light, and applied it to the muslin curtains which hung before the
window. In a moment a broad sheet of flame leaped up. The Greeks
uttered a shout of terror and surprise.

"Now!" Jack shouted. "All together."

In a moment the five dashed down the table, and flung themselves upon
the Greeks. These, taken by surprise, and paralyzed by the great sheet
of flame which was already licking the wooden ceiling, recoiled. Some
were cut down as they stood. Others were hurled aside. Two or three
fell before the dirks of the midshipmen, and in a few seconds the
little party had burst through the crowd of their assailants, and had
gained the door of the room. Here the Englishman and one of the French
officers turned and made a stand, in order to give the midshipmen time
to assist their badly-wounded comrade down the narrow stairs, and to
open the door of the house. As they flung this open, Jack shouted up
that the way was free, and then, half carrying the wounded Frenchman,
they hurried down the street, uttering shouts for assistance. The
lattice work of the window had already caught fire, and a sheet of
flame lit up the street. Before they had gone fifty yards, they heard
a noise behind them, as the two officers, followed by the Greeks,
issued from the house.

Fortunately, at this moment a party of English officers, who had been
dining at the general's, ran up at full speed, attracted by the shouts
of the boys and the glare of fire. Upon seeing this accession of
strength, the Greeks at once desisted from the attack, and made off.
By this time the windows of the various houses were opening, and
shouts of affright arose at the sight of the conflagration; for the
houses were, for the most part, constructed of wood, and, once begun,
there was no saying where a fire would end.

"What is all this about, gentlemen?" one of the officers, a colonel,
asked. "Give me your names, for there must be an inquiry into the
matter. I see you are all wounded, and 'tis best to get back to camp
at once. I fear this will be a serious matter."

In five minutes the street was full of people, and the flames had
obtained entire possession of the house, and were rushing high into
the air. The wind was blowing briskly, and it was evident that the
safety of the whole quarter of the town was menaced. The French
officer succeeded in getting four Maltese to carry his comrade to the
camp. A door was taken off its hinges, and they were soon upon their

Jack and Hawtry, who had only received one or two slight slashes of
knives, remained to see what came of it. The Turkish guards were
speedily on the spot, but these could do nothing beyond trying to
prevent the rabble from commencing a general pillage. From every house
the people were throwing out their goods of all descriptions. Every
minute the fire spread, and six or seven houses were already in flames
when, but a quarter of an hour after the outbreak of the fire, a heavy
tramp was heard, and a battalion of French infantry from their nearest
camp came up at a double. There was no water, no means whatever of
extinguishing the flames, but the active little Frenchmen did not lose
a minute. At the word of command, they broke their ranks, and swarmed
into the houses, and in a minute a perfect avalanche of goods was
thrown from the windows. Some stood along outside the houses, others
climbed upon their shoulders, on these again others took their places,
and so on until living ladders were formed, up which a score of men
climbed the roofs. These set to work with axe and hatchet, tearing off
the tiles and hacking down rafters, while their comrades in the houses
hewed away at floors and staircases. In less than a quarter of an hour
four houses on either side of those in flames were completely gutted,
and the fire, thus cut off, speedily burnt itself out, fifteen houses
having been consumed.

By this time large numbers of troops, together with sailors from the
fleet, had arrived, but the work was fortunately done, and had it not
been for the early appearance of the French battalion, and the
energetic measures which they adopted, a great portion of the Greek
quarter would have been destroyed.

Among those who had landed was a strong party of seamen from the
"Falcon," under Mr. Hethcote. The boys joined these, and returned with
them on board ship. They reported to the lieutenant the share which
they had had in the affair.

"It is an unpleasant business," he said, "but I do not blame you for
going to the assistance of those attacked when you heard an Englishman
call for help. Still, Mr. Archer, it is clear that you have pretty
nearly burnt down the town of Gallipoli, and I don't know the light in
which the admiral and Sir George Brown may view the affair. As you say
that no one took any notice of you at the time that the names of the
military officers were taken, it is possible that no inquiry will be
made about you. I shall, of course, report the matter to Captain
Stuart, and he must act as he thinks fit. But, in the meantime, I
should advise you to say nothing of the share which you have had in
the matter to any one. You must have those gashes you have got
plastered up. But I will speak to the surgeon. Do you know the name of
the English officer concerned?"

"Yes, sir, he was Lieutenant Tewson of the Grenadier Guards. We only
exchanged a few words before he went away, but he begged us to go and
see him."

"I should advise you to keep away from him altogether, until the
matter has blown over," Mr. Hethcote said. "Did you give him your

"No, sir, we had no time."

"All the better," Mr. Hethcote said. "It will, of course, come out in
the course of the inquiry that two midshipmen were concerned, and it
is just as well that he cannot give your names. I expect the ship to
be ordered up to Constantinople in a day or two, and I hope we may be
off before any inquiries are made. One can never say how these
big-wigs may take things. Sir George Brown is a tremendous martinet,
and he may consider that it would have been far better that five
officers, who chose to go to a gambling-house, should be killed, than
that Gallipoli, full as it is of valuable stores, and munitions of
war, should run the risk of being destroyed by fire. There, now, go
off to the surgeon, and get your faces strapped up, and then ask him
to come to me at once. If you two young gentlemen go on as you have
begun, you are not likely to live to obtain eminence in your
profession. It is but two months since we left England, and we have
not yet seen an enemy, yet you have had two as narrow escapes for your
lives as one could wish to have."

Very severe was the cross-questioning which the lads had to undergo in
the midshipmen's berth as to the manner in which they came by their
cut faces, and they were obliged to take refuge under the strict order
of the first lieutenant that they were to say nothing about it.

Fortunately the next day the "Falcon" received orders to proceed to
the Bosphorus, and got up her anchor and steamed up the Dardanelles
before dark. Presently Mr. Hethcote came up to Jack, who was on duty
on the quarter-deck.

"I tell you what, Jack," he said quietly, "it is very lucky for you
that we are away. The French officer died during the night. I hear
that his lungs were pierced. Sir George Brown is said to be furious,
and threatens to try Tewson by court-martial, for entering a
gambling-house in spite of strict orders to the contrary. Of course it
is well known that scores of other officers have done the same, but it
is only when a thing is found out that there is a row about it. Tewson
had been dining on board a French ship, and was going home with the
two French officers, who were also there. None of them had been in a
gambling-house before, but it seems they had heard of this place,
which was one of the most notorious dens in the town, and agreed to
look in for a few minutes to see what it was like. They began to play
and had an extraordinary run of luck, winning something like four
hundred pounds. The bank was broken, and the Greeks wanted them to
stop till some more money was procured. This they would not do, and
the Greeks then attacked them. Tewson has strong interest, and the
affair will probably, in his case, blow over. The Greeks have made a
complaint against them for wilfully setting fire to the house, and
this is the most serious part of the affair. I am told that both
Tewson and the French officer deny having done so. They say that it
was done in order to effect a diversion, by two officers who came in
to their assistance in the middle of the fight, and both declare that
they do not know who they were or anything about them, as they only
saw them for a minute in the middle of the confusion. Some one has
said that two young naval officers were seen just at the beginning of
the fire, and no doubt inquiries will be set on foot. But now that we
are fairly off, they will find out nothing at Gallipoli, and it's
likely that it will all blow over. The authorities have plenty to
think about at present without troubling themselves very much in
following up a clue of this kind."

In all the world there is no more lovely scene than that which greeted
Jack Archer's eyes as he went on deck the following morning.

The "Falcon" was anchored about mid-channel. On the left was
Constantinople with its embattled wall, its palaces, its green foliage
down to the water's edge, its domes and minarets rising thickly.
Separated from it by the Golden Horn, crossed by a bridge of boats,
are Pera and Galatta, street rising above street. Straight over the
bows of the ship was the Bosphorus, with its wooded banks dotted with
villas and palaces. To the right was Scutari, with the great barrack
standing on the edge of a cliff some fifty feet in height. Little did
those who looked at the great square pile of building dream that ere
many months it would be crowded from top to bottom with British sick
and wounded, and that even its ample corridors would prove wholly
insufficient to contain them. The water itself was thronged with
shipping of all nations: men-of-war, merchant steamers crowded with
stores, troop-ships thronged with red-coats; great barges, laden to
the water's edge, slowly made their way between the ships and the
shore. The boats of the shipping, filled with soldiers, rowed in the
same direction. Men-of-war boats, with their regular, steady swing,
went hither and thither, while among all crossed and re-crossed from
Constantinople to Scutari, the light caicques with their one or two
white-shirted rowers. No boats in the world are more elegant in
appearance, none except those built specially for racing can vie with
them in speed. The passenger sits comfortably on a cushion in the
bottom of the boat, and smokes the long pipe which the boatman, as a
matter of course, fills and hands to him as he takes his seat, while
the boatmen themselves, generally Albanians, and singularly handsome
and athletic men, lay themselves down to their work with a vigor and a
heartiness which would astound the boatmen of an English

A scene so varied, so beautiful, and so busy could not be equalled



Two days later Jack obtained leave to go on shore. He hesitated for a
moment whether to choose the right or left bank. The plateau of
Scutari was covered with the tents of the British army, which were
daily being added to, as scarce an hour passed without a transport
coming in laden with troops. After a little hesitation, however, Jack
determined to land at Constantinople. The camps at Scutari would
differ but little from those at Gallipoli, while in the Turkish
capital were innumerable wonders to be investigated. Hailing a caicque
which was passing, he took his seat with young Coveney, who had also
got leave ashore, and accepted with dignity the offer of a long pipe.
This, however, by no means answered his expectations; the mouthpiece
being formed of a large piece of amber of a bulbous shape, and too
large to be put into the mouth. It was consequently necessary to suck
the smoke through the end, a practice very difficult at first to those
accustomed to hold a pipe between the teeth.

In ten minutes the boat landed them at Pera, close to the bridge of
boats across the Golden Horn. For a time the lads made no motion to
advance, so astonished were they at the crowd which surged across the
bridge: Turkish, English, and French soldiers, Turks in turbans and
fezes, Turkish women wrapped up to the eyes in white or blue clothes;
hamals or porters staggered past under weights which seemed to the
boys stupendous; pachas and other dignitaries riding on gayly-trapped
little horses; carriages, with three or four veiled figures inside and
black guards standing on the steps, carried the ladies of one harem to
visit those of another. The lads observed that for the most part these
dames, instead of completely hiding their faces with thick wrappings
as did their sisters in the streets, covered them merely with a fold
of thin muslin, permitting their features to be plainly seen. These
ladies evidently took a lively interest in what was going on, and in
no way took it amiss when some English or French officer stared
unceremoniously at their pretty faces; although their black guards
gesticulated angrily on these occasions, and were clearly far more
indignant concerning the admiration which their mistresses excited
than were those ladies themselves.

At last the boys moved forward across the bridge, and Jack presently
found himself next to two young English officers proceeding in the
same direction. One of these turned sharply round as Jack addressed
his companion.

"Hallo, Jack!"

"Hallo, Harry! What! you here? I had no idea you had got your
commission yet. How are you, old fellow, and how are they all at

"Every one is all right, Jack. I thought you would have known all
about it. I was gazetted three days after you started, and was ordered
to join at once. We wrote to tell you it."

"I have never had a letter since I left home," Jack said. "I suppose
they are all knocking about somewhere. Every one is complaining about
the post. Well, this is jolly; and I see you are in the 33d too, the
regiment you wanted to get into. When did you arrive?"

"We came in two days ago in the 'Himalaya.' We are encamped with the
rest of the light division who have come up. Sir George Brown commands
us, and will be here from Gallipoli in a day or two with the rest of
the division."

The boys now introduced their respective friends to each other, and
the four wandered together through Constantinople, visited the
bazaars, fixed upon lots of pretty things as presents to be bought and
taken home at the end of the war, and then crossed the bridge again to
Pera, and had dinner at Missouri's, the principal hotel there, and the
great rendezvous of the officers of the British army and navy. Then
they took a boat and rowed across to Scutari, where Harry did the
honors of the camp, and at sundown Jack and his messmate returned on
board the "Falcon."

The next three weeks passed pleasantly, Jack spending all his time,
when he could get leave, with his brother, and the latter often coming
off for an hour or two to the "Falcon." Early in May the news arrived
that the Russians had advanced through the Dobrudscha and had
commenced the siege of Silistria. A few hours later the "Falcon" and
several other ships of war were on their way up the Dardanelles,
convoying numerous store-ships bound to Varna. Shortly afterwards the
generals of the allied armies determined that Varna should be the base
for the campaign against the Russians, and accordingly towards the end
of May the troops were again embarked.

Varna is a seaport, surrounded by an undulating country of park-like
appearance, and the troops were upon their arrival delighted with
their new quarters. Here some 22,000 English and 50,000 French were
encamped, together with 8,000 or 10,000 Turks. A few days after their
arrival Jack obtained leave for a day on shore, and rowed out to
Alladyn, nine miles and a half from Varna, where the light division,
consisting of the 7th, 19th, 23d, 33d, 77th, and 88th regiments, was
encamped. Close by was a fresh-water lake, and the undulated ground
was finely wooded with clumps of forest timber, and covered with
short, crisp grass. No more charming site for a camp could be
conceived. Game abounded, and the officers who had brought guns with
them found for a time capital sport. Everyone was in the highest
spirits, and the hopes that the campaign would soon open in earnest
were general. In this, however, they were destined to be disappointed,
for on the 24th of June the news came that the Turks had unaided
beaten off the Russians with such heavy loss in their attack upon
Silistria that the latter had broken up the siege, and were retreating

A weary delay then occurred while the English and French home
authorities, and the English and French generals in the field were
settling the point at which the attack should be made upon Russia. The
delay was a disastrous one, for it allowed an enemy more dangerous
than the Russians to make his insidious approaches. The heat was very
great; water bad, indeed almost undrinkable, the climate was
notoriously an unhealthy one, and fruit of all kinds, together with
cucumbers and melons, extremely cheap, and the soldiers consequently
consumed very large quantities of these.

Through June and up to the middle of July, however, no very evil
consequences were apparent. On the 21st of July two divisions of
French troops under General Canrobert marched into the Dobrudscha, in
search of some bodies of Russians who were said to be there. On the
night of the 28th cholera broke out, and before morning, in one
division no less than 600 men lay dead. The other divisions, although
situated at considerable distances, were simultaneously attacked with
equal violence, and three days later the expedition returned, having
lost over 7000 men. Scarcely less sudden or less fatal was the attack
among the English lines, and for some time the English camps were
ravaged by cholera.

Jack was extremely anxious about his brother, for the light division
suffered even more severely than did the others. But he was not able
to go himself to see as to the state of things, for the naval officers
were not allowed to go on shore more than was absolutely necessary.
And as the camp of the light division had been moved some ten miles
farther away on to the slopes of the Balkans, it would have been
impossible to go and return in one day. Such precautions as were
taken, however, were insufficient to keep the cholera from on board
ship. In a short time the fleet was attacked with a severity almost
equal to that on shore, and although the fleet put out to sea, the
flagship in two days lost seventy men.

Fortunately the "Falcon" had left Varna before the outbreak extended
to the ships. The Crimea had now been definitely determined upon as
the point of assault. Turkish vessels with heavy siege guns were on
their way to Varna, and the "Falcon" was ordered to cross to the
Crimea and report upon the advantages of several places for the
landing of the allied army. The mission was an exciting one, as beside
the chance of a brush with shore batteries, there was the possibility
that they might run against some of the Russian men-of-war, who still
held that part of the Black Sea, and whose headquarters were at
Sebastopol, the great fortress which was the main object of the
expedition to the Crimea.

The "Falcon" started at night, and in the morning of the second day
the hills of the Crimea were visible in the distance. The fires were
then banked up and she lay-to. With nightfall she steamed on until
within a mile or two of the coast, and here again anchored. With the
early dawn steam was turned on, and the "Falcon" steamed along as
close to the shore as she dare go, the lead being constantly kept
going, as but little was known of the depth of water on these shores.
Presently they came to a bay with a smooth beach. The ground rose but
gradually behind, and a small village stood close to the shore.

"This looks a good place," Captain Stuart said to the first
lieutenant. "We will anchor here and lower the boats. You, Mr.
Hethcote, with three boats, had better land at that village, get any
information that you can, and see that there are no troops about. If
attacked by a small force, you will of course repel it; if by a strong
one, fall back to your boats, and I will cover your retreat with the
guns of the ship. The other two boats will be employed in sounding.
Let the master have charge of these, and make out, as far as he can, a
perfect chart of the bay."

In a few minutes the boats were lowered, and the men in the highest
glee took their places. Jack was in the gig with the first lieutenant.
The order was given, and the boats started together towards the shore.
They had not gone fifty yards before there was a roar of cannon,
succeeded by the whistle of shot. Two masked batteries, one upon each
side of the bay, and mounting each six guns, had opened upon them. The
cutter, commanded by the second lieutenant, was smashed by a round
shot and instantly sunk. A ball struck close to the stroke-oar of the
gig, deluging its occupants with water and ricochetting over the
gunwale of the boat, between the stroke-oar and Mr. Hethcote. Two shot
hulled the "Falcon," and others whistled through her rigging.

"Pick up the crew of the cutter, Mr. Hethcote, and return on board at
once," Captain Stuart shouted; the engines of the "Falcon" at once
began to move, and the captain interposed the ship between the nearest
battery and the boats, and a few seconds later her heavy guns, which
had previously been got ready for action, opened upon the forts. In
two minutes the boats were alongside with all hands, save one of the
cutter's crew who had been cut in two by the round shot. The men,
leaving the boats towing alongside, rushed to the guns, and the heavy
fire of the "Falcon" speedily silenced her opponents. Then, as his
object was to reconnoitre, not to fight, Captain Stuart steamed out to
sea. He was determined, however, to obtain further information
respecting the bay, which appeared to him one adapted for the purpose
of landing.

"I will keep off till nightfall, Mr. Hethcote. We will then run in as
close as we dare, showing no lights, and I will then ask you to take a
boat with muffled oars to row to the village. Make your way among the
houses as quietly as possible, and seize a couple of fishermen and
bring them off with you. Our interpreter will be able to find out from
them at any rate, general details as to the depth of water and the
nature of the anchorage."

"Who shall I take with me, sir?"

"The regular gig's crew and Mr. Simmonds. He has passed, and it may
give him a chance of promotion. I think, by the way, you may as well
take the launch also; it carries a gun. Do not let the men from it
land, but keep her lying a few yards off shore to cover your retreat
if necessary. Mr. Pascoe will command it."

There was a deep but quiet excitement among the men when at nightfall
the vessel's head was again turned towards shore, and the crews of the
gig and launch told to hold themselves in readiness. Cutlasses were
sharpened and pistols cleaned. Not less was the excitement in the
midshipmen's berth, where it was known that Simmonds was to go in the
gig; but no one knew who was to accompany the launch. However, Jack
turned out to be the lucky one, Mr. Pascoe being probably glad to
please the first lieutenant by selecting his relation, although that
officer would not himself have shown favoritism on his behalf.

It was about eleven o'clock when the "Falcon" approached her former
position, or rather to a point a mile seaward of it as nearly as the
master could bring her, for the night was extremely dark and the land
scarcely visible. Not a light was shown, not a voice raised on board,
and the only sound heard was the gentle splash of the paddles as they
revolved at their slowest rate of speed. The falls had been greased,
the rowlocks muffled, and the crew took their places in perfect

"You understand, Mr. Hethcote," were Captain Stuart's last words,
"that you are not to attempt a landing if there is the slightest

Very quietly the boats left the "Falcon's" side. They rowed abreast
and close to each other, in order that the first lieutenant could give
orders to Mr. Pascoe in a low tone. The men were ordered to row
quietly, and to avoid any splashing or throwing up of water. It was a
longer row than they had expected, and it was evident that the master,
deceived by the uncertain light, had brought the vessel up at a point
considerably farther from the shore than he had intended. As they got
well in the bay they could see no lights in the village ahead; but an
occasional gleam near the points at either side showed that the men in
the batteries were awake and active. As the boat neared the shore the
men rowed, according to the first lieutenant's orders, more and more
gently, and at last, when the line of beach ahead became distinctly
visible, the order was given to lie upon their oars. All listened
intently, and then Mr. Hethcote put on his helm so that the boat which
had still some way on it drifted even closer to the launch.

"Do you hear anything, Mr. Pascoe?"

"I don't know, sir. I don't seem to make out any distinct sound, but
there certainly appears to be some sort of murmur in the air."

"So I think, too."

Again they listened.

"I don't know, sir," Jack whispered in Mr. Pascoe's ear, "but I fancy
that at times I see a faint light right along behind those trees. It
is very faint, but sometimes their outline seems clearer than at

Mr. Pascoe repeated in a low voice to Mr. Hethcote what Jack had

"I fancied so once or twice myself," he said. "There," he added
suddenly, "that is the neigh of a horse. However, there may be horses
anywhere. Now we will paddle slowly on. Lay within a boat's length of
the shore, Mr. Pascoe, keep the gun trained on the village, and let
the men hold their arms in readiness."

In another minute the gig's bow grated on the beach. "Quietly, lads,"
the first lieutenant said. "Step into the water without splashing.
Then follow me as quickly as you can."

The beach was a sandy one, and the footsteps of the sailors were
almost noiseless as they stole towards the village. The place seemed
hushed in quiet, but just as they entered the little street a figure
standing in the shade of a house rather larger than the rest, stepped
forward and challenged, bringing, as he did so, his musket to the
present. An instant later he fired, just as the words, "A Russian
sentry," broke from the first lieutenant's lips. Almost simultaneously
three or four other shots were fired at points along the beach. A
rocket whizzed high in the air from each side of the bay, a bugle
sounded the alarm, voices of command were heard, and, as if by
enchantment, a chaos of sounds followed the deep silence which had
before reigned, and from every house armed men poured out.

"Steady, lads, steady!" Mr. Hethcote shouted. "Fall back steadily.
Keep together, don't fire a shot till you get to the boat; then give
them a volley and jump on board. Now, retire at the double."

For a moment the Russians, as they poured from the houses, paused in
ignorance of the direction of their foes, but a shout from the sentry
indicated this, and a scattering fire was opened. This, however, was
at once checked by the shout of the officer to dash forward with all
speed after the enemy. As the mass of Russians rushed from the
village, the howitzer in the bows of the launch poured a volley of
grape into them, and checked their advance. However, from along the
bushes on either side fresh assailants poured out.

"Jump on board, lads, jump on board!" Mr. Hethcote shouted, and each
sailor, discharging his musket at the enemy, leapt into his place.
"Give them a volley, Mr. Pascoe. Get your head round and row. Don't
let the men waste time in firing."

The volley from the launch again momentarily checked the enemy, and
just as she got round, another discharge from the gun further arrested
them. The boats were not, however, thirty yards from the shore before
this was lined with dark figures who opened a tremendous fire of

"Row, lads, row!" Mr. Pascoe shouted to his men. "We shall be out of
their sight in another hundred yards."



Desperately the men bent to their oars, and the heavy boat surged
through the water. Around them swept a storm of musket balls, and
although the darkness and their haste rendered the fire of the
Russians wild and uncertain, many of the shot took effect. With a
sigh, Mr. Pascoe fell against Jack, who was sitting next to him, just
at the moment when Jack himself experienced a sensation as if a hot
iron had passed across his arm. Several of the men dropped their oars
and fell back, but the boats still held rapidly on their way, and in
two or three minutes were safe from anything but random shot. At this
moment, however, three field pieces opened with grape, and the iron
hail tore up the water near them. Fortunately they were now almost out
of sight, and although the forts threw up rockets to light the bay,
and joined their fire to that of the field guns, the boat escaped

"Thank God we are out of that!" Mr. Hethcote said, as the fire ceased
and the boats headed for a light hung up to direct then.

"Have you many hurt, Mr. Pascoe?"

"I'm afraid, sir, Mr. Pascoe is either killed or badly wounded. He is
lying against me, and gives no answer when I speak to him."

"Any one else hurt?" Mr. Hethcote asked in a moment.

The men exchanged a few words among themselves.

"There are five down in the bottom of the boat, sir, and six or seven
of us have been hit more or less."

"It's a bad business," Mr. Hethcote said. "I have two killed and three
wounded here. Are you hit yourself, Mr. Archer?"

"I've got a queer sensation in my arm, sir, and don't seem able to use
it, so I suppose I am, but I don't think it's much."

"Pull away, lads," Mr. Hethcote said shortly. "Show a light there in
the bow to the steamer."

The light was answered by a sharp whistle, and they heard the beat of
the paddles of the "Falcon" as she came down towards them, and five
minutes later the boats were hoisted to the davits. "No casualties, I
hope, Mr. Hethcote?" Captain Stuart said, as the first lieutenant
stepped on board. "You seem to have got into a nest of hornets."

"Yes, indeed, sir. There was a strong garrison in the village, and we
have suffered, I fear heavily. Some eight or ten killed and as many

"Dear me, dear me!" Captain Stuart said. "This is an unfortunate
circumstance, indeed. Mr. Manders, do you get the wounded on board and
carried below. Will you step into my cabin, Mr. Hethcote, and give me
full details of this unfortunate affair?"

Upon mustering the men, it was found that the total casualties in the
two boats of the "Falcon" amounted to, Lieutenant Pascoe killed,
Midshipman Archer wounded; ten seamen killed, and nine wounded. Jack's
wound was more severe than he had at first thought. The ball had gone
through the upper part of the arm, and had grazed and badly bruised
the bone in its passage. The doctor said he would probably be some
weeks before he would have his arm out of a sling. The "Falcon" spent
another week in examining the Crimean coast, and then ran across again
to Varna. Here everything was being pushed forward for the start. Over
six hundred vessels were assembled, with a tonnage vastly exceeding
that of any fleet that had ever sailed the seas. Twenty-seven thousand
English and twenty-three thousand French were to be carried in this
huge flotilla; for although the French army was considerably larger
than the English, the means of sea-transport of the latter were
vastly superior, and they were able to take across the whole of their
army in a single trip; whereas, the French could convey but half
of their force. Unfortunately, between Lord Raglan, the English
Commander-in-Chief, and Marshal Saint Arnaud, the French commander,
there was little concert or agreement. The French, whose arrangements
were far better, and whose movements were prompter than our own, were
always complaining of British procrastination; while the English
General went quietly on his own way, and certainly tried sorely the
patience of our allies. Even when the whole of the allied armies were
embarked, nothing had been settled beyond the fact that they were
going to invade the Crimea, and the enormous fleet of men-of-war and
transports, steamers with sailing vessels in tow, extending in lines
farther than the eye could reach, and covering many square miles of
the sea, sailed eastward without any fixed destination. The
consequence was, as might be expected, a lamentable waste of time.
Halts were called, councils were held, reconnaissances sent forward,
and the vast fleet steamed aimlessly north, south, east, and west,
until, when at last a landing-place was fixed upon, near Eupatoria,
and the disembarkation was effected, fourteen precious days had been
wasted over a journey which is generally performed in twenty-four
hours, and which even the slowly moving transports might have easily
accomplished in three days.

The consequence was the Russians had time to march round large bodies
of troops from the other side, and the object of the expedition--the
capture of Sebastopol by a _coup de main_--was altogether thwarted. No
more imposing sight was ever seen than that witnessed by the bands of
Cossacks on the low shores of the Crimea, when the allied fleets
anchored a few miles south of Eupatoria. The front extended nine miles
in length, and behind this came line after line of transports until
the very topmasts of those in the rear scarce appeared above the
horizon. The place selected for the landing-place was known as the Old
Fort, a low strip of bush and shingle forming a causeway between the
sea and a stagnant fresh-water lake, known as Lake Saki.

At eight o'clock in the morning of the 14th of September, the French
admiral fired a gun, and in a little more than an hour six thousand of
their troops were ashore, while the landing of the English did not
commence till an hour after. The boats of the men-of-war and
transports had already been told off for the ships carrying the light
division, which was to be the first to land, and in a wonderfully
short time the sea between the first line of ships and the shore was
covered with a multitude of boats crowded with soldiers. The boats of
the "Falcon" were employed with the rest, and as three weeks had
elapsed since Jack had received his wound, he was able to take his
share of duty, although his arm was still in a sling. The ship to
which the "Falcon's" boats were told off lay next to that which had
carried the 33d, and as he rowed past, he exchanged a shout and a wave
of the hand with Harry, who was standing at the top of the
companion-ladder, seeing the men of his company take their seats in
the boats. It was a day of tremendous work. Each man and officer
carried three days' provisions, and no tents or other unnecessary
stores were to be landed. The artillery, however, had to be got
ashore, and the work of landing the guns on the shingly beach was a
laborious one indeed. The horses in vain tugged and strained, and the
sailors leaped over into the water and worked breast high at the
wheels, and so succeeded in getting them ashore. Jack had asked
permission from Captain Stuart to spend the night on shore with his
brother, and just as he was going off from the ship for the last time.
Simmonds, who had obtained his acting commission in place of Mr.
Pascoe, said, "Archer, I should advise you to take a tarpaulin and a
couple of bottles of rum. They will be useful before morning, I can
tell you, for we are going to have a nasty night."

Indeed the rain was already coming down steadily, and the wind was
rising. Few of those who took part in it will ever forget their first
night in the Crimea. The wind blew pitilessly, the rain poured down in
torrents, and twenty-seven thousand Englishmen lay without shelter in
the muddy fields, drenched to the skin. Jack had no trouble in finding
his brother's regiment, which was in the advance, some two or three
miles from the landing-place. Harry was delighted to see him, and the
sight of the tarpaulin and bottles did not decrease the warmth of his
welcome. Jack was already acquainted with most of the officers of the

"Hallo, Archer," a young ensign said, "if I had been in your place, I
should have remained snugly on board ship. A nice night we are in

So long as the daylight lasted, the officers stood in groups and
chatted of the prospects of the campaign. There was nothing to do--no
possibility of seeing to the comforts of their men. The place where
the regiment was encamped was absolutely bare, and there were no means
of procuring any shelter whatever.

"How big is that tarpaulin, Jack?"

"About twelve feet square," Jack said, "and pretty heavy I found it, I
can tell you."

"What had we better do with it?" asked Harry. "I can't lie down under
that, you know, with the colonel sitting out exposed to this rain."

"The best thing," Jack said after a minute's consideration, "would be
to make a sort of tent of it. If we could put it up at a slant, some
six feet high in front with its back to the wind, it would shelter a
lot of fellows. We might hang some of the blankets at the sides."

The captain and lieutenant of Harry's company were taken into
consultation, and with the aid of half a dozen soldiers, some muskets
bound together and some ramrods, a penthouse shelter was made. Some
sods were laid on the lower edge to keep it down. Each side was closed
with two blankets. Some cords from one of the baggage carts were used
as guy ropes to the corners, and a very snug shelter was constructed.
This Harry invited the colonel and officers to use, and although the
space was limited, the greater portion of them managed to sit down in
it, those who could not find room taking up their places in front,
where the tent afforded a considerable shelter from the wind and rain.
No one thought of sleeping. Pipes were lighted, and Jack's two bottles
of rum afforded a tot to each. The night could scarcely be called a
comfortable one, even with these aids; but it was luxurious, indeed,
in comparison with that passed by those exposed to the full force of
the wind.

The next morning Jack said good-bye to his brother and the officers of
the regiment, to whom he presented the tarpaulin for future use, and
this was folded up and smuggled into an ammunition cart. It was not,
of course, Jack's to give, being government property, but he would be
able to pay the regulation price for it on his return. Half an hour
later, Jack was on the beach, where a high surf was beating. All day
the work of landing cavalry and artillery went on under the greatest
difficulties. Many of the boats were staved and rendered useless, and
several chargers drowned. It was evident that the weather was breaking
up, and the ten days of lovely weather which had been wasted at sea
were more bitterly regretted than ever. No tents were landed, and the
troops remained wet to the skin, with the additional mortification of
seeing their French allies snugly housed under canvas, while even the
4000 Turks had managed to bring their tents with them. The natural
result was that sickness again attacked the troops, and hundreds were
prostrated before, three days later, they met the enemy on the Alma.
The French were ready to march on the 17th, but it was not until two
days later, that the British were ready; then at nine o'clock in the
morning the army advanced. The following is the list of the British
force. The light division under Sir George Brown--2d Battalion Rifle
Brigade, 7th Fusiliers, 19th Regiment, 23d Fusiliers, under Brigadier
Major-General Codrington; 33d Regiment, 77th Regiment, 88th Regiment,
under Brigadier-General Butler. First division, under the Duke of
Cambridge--The Grenadier, Coldstream and Scots Fusilier Guards, under
Major-General Bentinck; the 42d, 79th and 93d Highlanders, under
Brigadier-General Sir C. Campbell. The second division, under Sir De
Lacy Evans--The 30th, 55th, and 95th, under Brigadier-General
Pennefather; the 41st, 47th and 49th, under Brigadier-General Adams.
The third division under Sir R. England--The 1st, 28th and 38th under
Brigadier-General Sir John Campbell; the 44th, 50th, and 68th
Regiments under Brigadier-General Eyre. Six companies of the fourth
were also attached to this division. The fourth division under Sir
George Cathcart consisted of the 20th, 21st, 2d Battalion Rifle
Brigade, 63d, 46th and 57th, the last two regiments, however, had not
arrived. The cavalry division under Lord Lucan consisted of the Light
Cavalry Brigade under Lord Cardigan, composed of the 4th Light
Dragoons, the 8th Hussars, 11th Hussars, 13th Dragoons and 17th
Lancers; and the Heavy Cavalry Brigade under Brigadier-General
Scarlett, consisting of the Scots Greys, 4th Dragoon Guards, 5th
Dragoon Guards, and 6th Dragoons. Of these the Scots Greys had not yet

It was a splendid sight, as the allied army got in motion. On the
extreme right, and in advance next the sea, was the first division of
the French army. Behind them, also by the sea, was the second division
under General Canrobert, on the left of which marched the third
division under Prince Napoleon. The fourth division and the Turks
formed the rearguard. Next to the third French division was the second
British, with the third in its rear in support. Next to the second
division was the light division, with the Duke of Cambridge's division
in the rear in support. The Light Cavalry Brigade covered the advance
and left flank, while along the coast, parallel with the march of the
troops, steamed the allied fleet, prepared, if necessary, to assist
the army with their guns. All were in high spirits that the months of
weary delay were at last over, and that they were about to meet the
enemy. The troops saluted the hares which leaped out at their feet at
every footstep as the broad array swept along, with shouts of laughter
and yells, and during the halts numbers of the frightened creatures
were knocked over and slung behind the knapsacks to furnish a meal at
the night's bivouac. The smoke of burning villages and farmhouses
ahead announced that the enemy were aware of our progress.

Presently, on an eminence across a wide plain, masses of the enemy's
cavalry were visible. Five hundred of the Light Cavalry pushed on in
front, and an equal number of Cossacks advanced to meet them. Lord
Cardigan was about to give the order to charge when masses of heavy
cavalry made their appearance. Suddenly one of these extended and a
battery of Russian artillery opened fire upon the cavalry. Our
artillery came to the front, and after a quarter of an hour's duel the
Russians fell back; and soon after the army halted for the night, at a
stream called the Boulyanak, six miles from the Alma, where the
Russians, as was now known, were prepared to give battle. The weather
had now cleared again, and all ranks were in high spirits as they sat
round the bivouac fires.

"How savage they will be on board ship," Harry Archer said to Captain
Lancaster, "to see us fighting a big battle without their having a
hand in it. I almost wonder that they have not landed a body of
marines and blue-jackets. The fleets could spare 4000 or 5000 men, and
their help might be useful. Do you think the Russians will fight?"

"All soldiers will fight," Captain Lancaster said, "when they've got a
strong position. It needs a very different sort of courage to lie down
on the crest of a hill and fire at an enemy struggling up it in full
view, to that which is necessary to make the assault. They have too
all the advantage of knowing the ground, while we know absolutely
nothing about it. I don't believe that the generals have any more idea
than we have. It seems a happy-go-lucky way of fighting altogether.
However, I have no doubt that we shall lick them somehow. It seems,
though, a pity to take troops direct at a position which the enemy
have chosen and fortified, when by a flank march, which in an
undulating country like this could be performed without the slightest
difficulty, we could turn the position and force them to retreat,
without losing a man."

Such was the opinion of many other officers at the time. Such has been
the opinion of every military critic since. Had the army made a flank
march, the enemy must either have retired at once, or have been liable
to an attack upon their right flank, when, if beaten, they would have
been driven down to the sea-shore under the guns of the ships, and
killed or captured, to a man. Unfortunately, however, owing to the
jealousies between the two generals, the illness of Marshal Arnaud,
and the incapacity of Lord Raglan, there was neither plan nor concert.
The armies simply fought as they marched, each general of division
doing his best and leading his men at that portion of the enemy's
position which happened to be opposite to him. The sole understanding
arrived at was that the armies were to march at six in the morning;
that General Bosquet's division, which was next to the sea, was,
covered by guns of the ships, to first carry the enemy's position
there; and that when he had obtained a footing upon the plateau, a
general attack was to be made. Even this plan, simple as it was, was
not fully carried out, as Lord Raglan did not move his troops till
nine in the morning. Three precious hours were therefore wasted, and a
pursuit after the battle which would have turned the defeat into a
rout was therefore prevented, and Sebastopol saved, to cost tens of
thousands of lives before it fell. The Russian position on the Alma
was along a crest of hills. On their left by the sea these rose
precipitously, offering great difficulties for an assault. Further
inland, however, the slope became easy, and towards the right centre
and right against which the English attack was directed, the hill was
simply a slope broken into natural terraces, on which were many walls
and vineyards. Near the sea the river ran between low banks, but
inland the bank was much steeper, the south side rising some thirty or
forty feet, and enabling its defenders to sweep the ground across
which the assailants must advance. While on their left the Russian
forces were not advanced in front of the hill which formed their
position, on the lower ground they occupied the vineyards and
inclosures down to the river, and their guns were placed in batteries
on the steps of the slope, enabling them to search with their fire the
whole hill-side as well as the flat ground beyond the river.

The attack, as intended, was begun by General Bosquet. Bonat's brigade
crossed the river by a bar of sand across the mouth where the water
was only waist-deep, while D'Autemarre's brigade crossed by a bridge,
and both brigades swarmed up the precipitous cliffs which offered
great difficulties, even to infantry. They achieved their object,
without encountering any resistance whatever, the guns of the fleet
having driven back the Russian regiment appointed to defend this post.
The enemy brought up three batteries of artillery to regain the crest,
but the French with tremendous exertions succeeded in getting up a
battery of guns, and with their aid maintained the position they had

When the sound of Bosquet's guns showed that his part of the programme
was carried into effect, the second and third divisions of the French
army crossed the Alma, and were soon fiercely engaged with the enemy.
Canrobert's division for a time made little way, as the river was too
deep for the passage of the guns, and these were forced to make a
detour. Around a white stone tower some 800 yards on their left, dense
masses of Russian infantry were drawn up, and these opened so
tremendous a fire upon the French that for a time their advance was
checked. One of the brigades from the fourth division, which was in
reserve, advanced to their support, and joining with some of the
regiments of Canrobert's division, and aided by troops whom General
Bosquet had sent to their aid, a great rush was made upon the dense
body of Russians, who, swept by the grape of the French artillery,
were unable to stand the impetuous attack, and were forced to retire
in confusion. The French pressed forward and at this point also of the
field, the day was won.

In the mean time the British army had been also engaged. Long before
they came in sight of the point which they were to attack they heard
the roar of cannon on their right, and knew that Bosquet's division
were engaged. As the troops marched over the crest of the rounded
slopes they caught glimpses of the distant fight. They could see
masses of Russian infantry threatening the French, gathered on the
height, watch the puffs of smoke as the guns on either side sent their
messengers of death, and the white smoke which hung over the fleet as
the vessels of war threw their shells far over the heads of the French
into the Russian masses. Soon they heard the louder roar which
proclaimed that the main body of the French army were in action, and
burning with impatience to begin, the men strode along to take their
share in the fight. Until within a few hundred yards of the river the
troops could see nothing of it, nor the village on its banks, for the
ground dipped sharply. Before they reached the brow twelve Russian
guns, placed on rising ground some 300 yards beyond the river, opened
upon them.

"People may say what they like," Harry Archer said to his captain,
"but a cannon-ball makes a horribly unpleasant row. It wouldn't be
half as bad if they would but come silently."

As he spoke a round shot struck down two men a few files to his right.
They were the first who fell in the 33d.

"Steady, lads, steady," shouted the officers, and as regularly as if
on field-day, the English troops advanced. The Rifles, under Major
Northcote, were ahead, and, dashing through the vineyards under a rain
of fire, crossed the river, scaled the bank, and pushed forward to the
top of the next slope. It was on the plateau beyond that the Russian
main body were posted, and for a time the Rifles had hard work to
maintain themselves. In the meantime, the Light Division were
advancing in open order, sometimes lying down, sometimes advancing,
until they gained the vineyards. Here the regular order which they had
so far maintained was lost, as the ground was broken up by hedges,
stone walls, vines and trees. The 19th, 7th, 23d and 33d were then
led, at a run, right to the river by General Codrington, their course
being marked by killed and wounded, and crossing they sheltered
themselves under the high bank. Such was the state of confusion in
which they arrived there that a momentary pause was necessary to
enable the men of the various regiments to gather together, and the
enemy, taking advantage of this, brought down three battalions of
infantry, who advanced close to the bank, and, as the four regiments
dashed up it, met them with a tremendous fire. As hotly it was
answered, and the Russians retired while their batteries again opened

There was but little order in the British ranks as they struggled
forward up the hill. Even under this tremendous fire the men paused to
pick grapes, and all the exertions of their officers could not
maintain the regular line of advance. From a rising ground a Russian
regiment kept up a destructive fire upon them, and the guns in the
batteries on their flank fired incessantly. The slaughter was
tremendous, but the regiments held on their way unflinchingly. In a
few minutes the 7th had lost a third of their men, and half the 23d
were down. Not less was the storm of fire around the 33d. Confused,
bewildered and stunned by the dreadful din, Harry Archer struggled on
with his company. His voice was hoarse with shouting, though he
himself could scarce hear the words he uttered. His lips were parched
with excitement and the acrid smell of gunpowder. Man after man had
fallen beside him, but he was yet untouched. There was no thought of
fear or danger now. His whole soul seemed absorbed in the one thought
of getting into the battery. Small as were the numbers who still
struggled on, their determined advance began to disquiet the Russians.
For the first time a doubt as to victory entered their minds. When the
day began they felt assured of it. Their generals had told them that
they would annihilate their foes, their priests had blessed them, and
assured them of the protection and succor of the saints. But the
British were still coming on, and would not be denied. The infantry
behind the battery began to retire. The artillery, left unprotected,
limbered up in haste, and although three times as numerous as the men
of the Light Division, the Russians, still firing heavily, retired up
the hill, while, with a shout of triumph the broken groups of the 23d,
the 19th, and 33d burst into the battery, capturing a gun which the
Russians had been unable to withdraw.



Not long were the Light Division to enjoy the position they had won.
Breathless, exhausted, bleeding, they were but a handful; and the
Russians, looking down upon them and seeing that they were
unsupported, again advanced in heavy masses, and the Light Division
fell back.

Had their division had the whole of their strength they might have
been enabled to hold the position they had won. But just as they
crossed the river, there was an unfounded alarm of a cavalry attack on
the flank, and the 77th and 88th were halted to repel this, and took
no share in the advance by the rest of the division.

As the shattered regiments fell back before the Russians in a state of
disorder, they saw advancing up the slope behind them the brigade of
Guards in as regular order as if on parade. For a moment the splendid
formation was broken as the disordered troops came down upon them. But
opening their files they allowed the Light Division to pass through
them, and then closing up again moved forward in splendid order, the
Highland Brigade keeping pace with them on their left, while the
regiments of the Light Division reformed in their rear and followed

Steadily, under a storm of fire, the Guards advanced. Grape, canister,
round shot, shell, and shot, swept through them but they kept forward
till nigh crossing bayonets with the Russian infantry.

At this moment, however, two British guns mounted on a knoll opened
upon the Russians, the victorious French threatened their flank, the
Russian gunners limbered up and retired, and their infantry suddenly
fell back.

On the right of the Light Division, General Sir De Lacy Evans had also
been fighting sternly. The second division had advanced side by side
with that of Prince Napoleon. The resistance which he encountered was
obstinate, but more skilled in actual warfare than his brother
generals, he covered his advance with the fire of eighteen guns, and
so bore forward, suffering far less than the division on his left. He
had, however, very heavy fighting before he gained the river. The
village had been set on fire by the Russians, and the smoke and flames
greatly incommoded the men as they fought their way through it. The
95th, however, dashed across the bridge under a storm of missiles,
while the 55th and 30th waded through the river, and step by step won
their way up the hill. Then the firing ceased, and the battle of Alma
was won.

The force under the Russians consisted of some 37,000 men, of whom
3500 were cavalry. They had eighty guns, besides two light batteries
of horse artillery. Inferior in number as they were, the discrepancy
was more than outbalanced by the advantage of position, and had the
troops on both sides been of equally good material, the honor of the
day should have rested with the defenders.

The British loss consisted of 26 officers killed and 73 wounded, 327
men killed and 1557 wounded. The French had only 3 officers killed and
54 wounded, 253 men killed and 1033 wounded. The Turks were not
engaged. The Russians lost 45 officers killed and 101 wounded, 1762
men killed and 2720 wounded. The Allied Army had 126 guns against 96
of the Russians; but the former, owing to the nature of the ground,
played but a small part in the fight.

The whole of the loss fell upon a comparatively small number of the
English regiments, and as the French had 9000 men in reserve who had
not fired a shot, there was no season why the greater portion of the
army, with all the cavalry, should not at once have followed on the
track of the beaten Russians. Had they done so, the war in the Crimea
would have been over in three days. That time, however, elapsed before
a move was made. The reason assigned was the necessity of caring for
the wounded and burying the dead. But this might have been committed
to the hands of sailors and marines, of whom 5000 might have been
landed at night; in which case the whole Allied Army could have
marched at day break.

It was a sad sight when the four regiments of the Light Division
mustered after their work was done. Hitherto in the confusion and
fierce excitement of the fight, men marked not who stood and who fell.
But now as the diminished regiments paraded, mere skeletons of the
fine corps which had marched gayly from their camping-ground of the
night before, the terrible extent of their losses was manifest. Tears
rolled down the cheeks of strong men who had never flinched in the
storm of fire, as they saw how many of their comrades were absent, and
the glory of the victory was dimmed indeed by the sorrow for the dead.

"I wanted to see a battle," Harry Archer said to Captain Lancaster,
who, like him, had gone through the fight without a scratch, "but this
is more than I bargained for. To think of half one's friends and
comrades gone, and all in about two hours' fighting. It has been a
deadly affair, indeed."

"Yes, as far as we are concerned, Archer. But not for the whole army.
I heard Doctor Alexander say just now that the casualties were about
1500, and that out of 27,000 men is a mere nothing to the proportion
in many battles. The French have, I hear, lost rather less."

"I thought in a battle," Harry said, "one would see something of the
general affair, but I certainly did not. In fact, from the time when
we dashed up the river bank till the capture of the battery, I saw
nothing. I knew there were some of our men by the side of me, and that
we were all pushing forward, but beyond that I knew absolutely
nothing. It was something like going through a tremendous thunder
shower with one's head down, only a thousand times more so."

After parade the men scattered in groups; some went down to the river
to fill their canteens, others strolled through the vineyards picking
grapes, and in spite of the fact that in many places the dead lay
thickly together, a careless laugh was sometimes heard. The regiments
which had not been engaged were at work bringing in the wounded, and
Doctor Alexander and his assistants were busy at the ghastly task of
amputating limbs and extracting balls.

The next day a few officers from the fleet came up; among these was
Hawtry, who was charged with a special mission from Jack, who could
not again ask for leave, to inquire after his brother. The wounded
were sent down in arabas and litters to the ships, a painful journey
of three miles. The French wounded fared better, as they had
well-appointed hospital vans. Seven hundred and fifty Russian wounded
were collected and laid together, and were given in charge of the
inhabitants of a Tartar village near; Dr. Thomson, of the 44th
Regiment with a servant volunteering to remain in charge of them, with
the certain risk of capture when the Russian troops returned after our

On the morning of the 23d the army started, continuing its march along
the road to Sebastopol, the way being marked not only by debris thrown
away by the retreating Russians, but by the cottages and pretty villas
having been sacked by the Cossacks as they retired.

The troops halted for the night at Katcha, where the French were
reinforced by 8000 men who were landed from transports just arrived,
and the English by the Scots Greys and the 57th. As it was found that
the enemy had batteries along the northwest of the harbor of
Sebastopol which would cause delay and trouble to invest, while the
army engaged in the operation would have to draw all its provisions
and stores from the harbor at the mouth of the Katcha River, it was
determined to march round Sebastopol, and to invest it on the southern
side, where the Russians, not expecting it, would have made but slight
preparations for a resistance.

Towards the sea-face, Sebastopol was of immense strength, mounting
seventeen guns at the Telegraph Battery, 104 at Fort Constantine,
eighty at Fort Saint Michael, forty at battery No. 4, and some fifty
others in smaller batteries. All these were on the north side of the
harbor. On the southern side were the Quarantine Fort with fifty-one
guns, Fort Alexander with sixty-four, the Arsenal Battery with fifty,
Fort Saint Nicholas with 192, and Fort Paul with eighty. In addition
to these tremendous defences, booms had been fixed across the mouth of
the harbor, and a three-decker, three two-deckers, and two frigates
sunk in a line, forming a formidable barrier against the entry of
hostile ships. Besides all this, the whole of the Russian Black Sea
fleet were in harbor, and prepared to take part in the defence against
an attack by sea. Upon the other hand, Sebastopol was naturally weak
on the land side. It lay in a hollow, and guns from the upper ground
could everywhere search it.

At the time when the Allied Armies arrived before it the only defences
were an old loop-holed wall, a battery of fourteen guns and six
mortars, and one or two batteries which were as yet scarcely

The march from the Katcha to the south side was performed without
interruption, and on the 26th, six days after the battle of Alma, the
Allied Army reached their new position. According to arrangements, the
British occupied the harbor of Balaklava, while the French took
possession of Kamiesch and Kaznatch, as bases for the supply of their
armies. At the mouth of Balaklava Harbor are the ruins of a Genoese
fort standing 200 feet above the sea. This was supposed to be
unoccupied. As the staff, however, were entering the town, they were
astonished by four shells falling close to them.

The "Agamemnon," which was lying outside, at once opened fire, and the
fort immediately hung out a flag of truce. The garrison consisted only
of the commandant and sixty men. The officer, on being asked why he
should have opened fire when he knew that the place could not be held,
replied that he did so as he had not been summoned to surrender, and
felt bound in honor to fire until he did so.

The British ships at once entered the harbor, and the disembarkation
of the stores and siege-train commenced. The harbor of Balaklava was
but ill-suited for the requirements of a large army. It was some half
mile in length and a few hundred yards broad, and looked like a little
inland lake, for the rocks rose precipitously at its mouth, and the
passage through them made a bend, so that the outlet was not visible
from a ship once fairly inside. The coast is steep and bold, the rocky
cliff rising sheer up from the water's edge to heights varying from
400 to 2000 feet. A vessel coasting along it would not notice the
narrow passage, or dream--on entering--that a harbor lay hidden
behind. On either side of the harbor inside the hills rose steeply, on
the left hand, so steeply, that that side was useless for the purposes
of shipping. On the right hand there was a breadth of flat ground
between the water and the hill, and here and upon the lower slopes
stood the village of Balaklava. The valley extended for some distance
beyond the head of the harbor, most of the ground being occupied with
vineyards. Beyond was the wide rolling plain upon which the battles of
Balaklava and Inkerman were to be fought. Taken completely by
surprise, the inhabitants of Balaklava had made no attempt to escape,
but upon the arrival of the British general, a deputation received him
with presents of fruit and flowers.

By this time the fleet had come round, and the sailors were soon hard
at work assisting to unload the transports and get the stores and
siege materials on shore. It was reported that a marine battery was to
be formed, and there was eager excitement on board as to the officers
who would be selected. Each of the men-of-war contributed their quota,
and Lieutenant Hethcote found that he had been told off as second in
command, and that he was to take a midshipman and twenty men of the

The matter as to the midshipman was settled by Captain Stuart.

"You may as well take Archer," he said. "You won't like to ask for him
because he's your cousin; but I asked for his berth, you know, and
don't mind doing a little bit of favoritism this once."

And so, to Jack's intense delight, he found that he was to form a
portion of the landing party.

These were in all 200 in number, and their work was, in the first
place, to assist to get the heavy siege guns from the wharf to the

It is necessary that the position occupied by the Allies should be
perfectly comprehended, in order to understand the battles and
operations which subsequently took place. It may be described as a
triangle with one bulging side. The apex of the triangle were the
heights on the seashore, known as the Marine Heights.

Here, at a point some 800 feet above the sea, where a ravine broke the
line of cliffs, was the camp of the marines, in a position almost
impregnable against any enemy's force, following the seashore. On the
land-slopes of the hills, down towards Balaklava, lay the Highland
Brigade, guarding the approach from the plains from the Marine Heights
to the mouth of Balaklava Valley, at the mouth of which were the camps
of the cavalry, and not far off a sailor's camp with heavy guns and
800 men.

This side of the triangle continued along over the undulating ground,
and some three miles farther, reached the right flank of the position
of the Allies above Sebastopol, which formed the base of our imaginary

This position was a plateau, of which one side sloped down to
Sebastopol; the end broke steeply off down into the valley of
Inkerman, while behind the slopes were more gradual. To the left it
fell away gradually towards the sea. This formed the third side of the
triangle. But between Balaklava and Sebastopol the land made a wide
bulge outwards, and in this bulge lay the French harbor of Kamiesch.

From the Marine Heights to the crest looking down upon Sebastopol was
a distance of some seven miles. From the right of our position above
Inkerman Valley to Kamiesch was about five miles.

A glance at the map will enable this explanation to be understood.

At the commencement of the siege the British were posted on the right
of the Allies. This, no doubt, was the post of honor, but it threw
upon them an enormous increase of work. In addition to defending
Balaklava, it was upon them that the brunt of any assault by a Russian
army acting in the field would fall. They would have an equal share of
the trench-work, and had five miles to bring up their siege guns and
stores; whereas the French harbor was close to their camp.

It was tremendous work getting up the guns, but soldiers and sailors
willingly toiled away, pushing, and hauling, and aiding the teams,
principally composed of bullocks, which had been brought up from
Constantinople and other Turkish ports. Long lines of arabas, laden
with provisions and stores, crawled slowly along between Balaklava and
the front. Strings of mules and horses, laden with tents, and driven
by men of every nationality bordering the Mediterranean, followed the
same line.

Parties of soldiers, in fatigue suits, went down to Sebastopol to
assist unloading the ships and bringing up stores. Parties of officers
on ponies brought from Varna or other ports on the Black Sea, cantered
down to make purchases of little luxuries on board the ships in the
harbor, or from the Levantines, who had set up little shops near it.
All was life and gayety.

"It is all very well, Mr. Archer," growled Dick Simpson, an old
boatswain, as the men paused after helping to drag a heavy gun up one
of the slopes, "in this here weather, but it won't be no laughing
matter when the winter comes on. Why, these here fields would be just
a sheet of mud. Why, bless you, last winter I was a staying with a
brother of mine what farms a bit of land down in Norfolk, and after a
week's rain they couldn't put the horses on to the fields. This here
sile looks just similar, only richer and deeper, and how they means to
get these big carts laden up through it, beats me altogether."

"Yes, Dick," Jack Archer answered, "but they expect to take the place
before the winter comes on."

"They expects," the old tar repeated scornfully. "For my part, I don't
think nothing of these soldier chaps. Why, I was up here with the
first party as come, the day after we got here, and there warn't
nothing in the world to prevent our walking into it. Here we've got
50,000 men, enough, sir, to have pushed those rotten old walls down
with their hands, and here we be a-digging and a-shovelling on the
hillside nigh a mile from the place, and the Russians are a-digging
and a-shovelling just as hard at their side. I see 'em last night
after we got back to camp. It seems to me as if these here generals
wanted to give 'em time to make the place so strong as we cannot take
it, before they begins. Why, it stands to reason that the Rooshians,
who've got their guns all stored close at hand, their soldiers and
their sailors handy, and no trouble as to provisions and stores, can
run up works and arm them just about three times as fast as we can;
and where shall we be at the end of three months? We shall be just
a-shivering and a-shaking, and a-starving with cold, and short of grub
on that 'ere hill; and the Rooshians will be comfortable in the town
a-laughing at us. Don't tell me, Mr. Archer; my opinion is, these 'ere
soldiers are no better than fools. They don't seem to have no common

"I hope it's not as bad as all that, Dick," Jack laughed. "But it
certainly does seem as if we were purposely giving the Russians time
to strengthen themselves. But you'll see when we go at them we shall
make short work of them."

"Well, I hope so, Mr. Archer," Dick Simpson said, shaking his head
ominously, "but I'm dubious about it."

By this time the oxen and men had recovered their breath, and they
again set to at their tiresome work. Although the weather was fine and
the position of the camps high and healthy, the cholera which had
ravaged their ranks at Varna still followed them, and during the three
first weeks in the Crimea, the Allies lost as many men from this cause
as they had done in the Battle of Alma.

By the 4th of October forty pieces of heavy artillery had been brought
up to the front, and the work of the trenches began in earnest.

On the morning of the 10th the Russian batteries for the first time
opened a heavy fire upon us. But the distance was too great for much
harm to be done. On the 11th the Russians made their first sortie,
which was easily repulsed.

On the 17th of October the bombardment commenced. The French and
English had 117 guns in position, the Russians 130. The fire commenced
at half-past six. By 8.40 a French magazine at the extreme right blew
up, killing and wounding 100 men, while the French fire at this part
was crushed by that of the Russians opposed to them. All day, however,
the cannonade continued unabating on both sides, the men-of-war aiding
the land forces by engaging the forts.

During the night the Russians, having plenty of guns at hand, and
labor in abundance, mounted a larger number of guns, and their
superiority was so marked that the bombardment was gradually
discontinued, and even the most sanguine began to acknowledge that an
enormous mistake had been made in not attacking upon our arrival, and
that it was impossible to say how long the siege would last.
Ammunition, too, was already running short.

For the next day or two, however, our guns continued their fire. But
the French had been so completely overpowered by the heavy Russian
metal that they were unable to assist us. The sailors had had their
full share of work during the bombardment. Captain Peel, who commanded
the party, was just the man to get the greatest possible amount of
work from them. Always in high spirits, taking his full share in all
the work, and exposing himself recklessly in the heaviest fire, he was
almost idolized by his men.

Jack Archer lived in a tent with five other midshipmen, and was
attended upon by one of the fore-top men, who, not having been told
off for the party, had begged permission to go in that capacity.

Tom Hammond was the most willing of servants, but his abilities were
by no means equal to his good-will. His ideas of cooking were of the
vaguest kind. The salt junk was either scarcely warm through, or was
boiled into a soup. The preserved potatoes were sometimes burned from
his neglect of putting sufficient water, or he had forgotten to soak
them beforehand, and they resembled bits of gravel rather than
vegetables. Sometimes the boys laughed, sometimes they stormed, and
Tom was more than once obliged to beat a rapid retreat to escape a
volley of boots and other missiles.

At first the tent was pitched in the usual way on the ground; but one
of the boys, in a ramble through the camp, had seen an officer's tent
prepared in a way which added greatly to its comfort, and this they at
once adopted. Tom Hammond was set to dig a hole of eighteen inches
smaller diameter than the circle of the tent. It was three feet in
depth, with perpendicular sides. At nine inches from the edge a trench
a foot deep was dug. In the centre was an old flour barrel filled with
earth. Upon this stood the tent-pole. The tent was brought down so as
to extend six inches into the ditch, the nine-inch rim of earth
standing inside serving as a shelf on which to put odds and ends. A
wall of sods, two feet high, was erected round the outside of the
little ditch. Thus a comfortable habitation was formed. The additional
three feet of height added greatly to the size of the tent, as the
occupants could now stand near the edges instead of in the centre
only. It was much warmer than before at night, and all draught was
excluded by the tent overlapping the ditch, and by the wall outside. A
short ladder at the entrance enabled them to get in and out.

Tom Hammond had grumbled at first at the labor which this freak of his
masters entailed. But as the work went on and he saw how snug and
comfortable was the result, he took a pride in it, and the time was
not far off when its utility was to become manifest. Indeed, later on
in the winter the greater portion of the tents were got up in this

The camp of the Light Division was not far from that of the sailors,
and the two brothers were often together. Fortunately both of them had
so far escaped the illnesses which had already decimated the army.



On the morning of the 25th Harry ran into Jack's tent.

"Wake up, Jack, there is a row down near Balaklava. The Russians are
coming on in force. You're off duty, are you not? So am I. We only
came out of the trenches half an hour ago. Hurry on your things and
come along."

Jack was only a minute or two getting into his clothes, the other
midshipmen off duty also hurrying up. Tom Hammond brought in four cups
of hot coffee, which they drank hastily, and then munching their hard
biscuits as they went, the party of four hurried off.

On reaching the edge of the plateau the whole scene was visible. On
four knolls in the plain, redoubts had been erected, and these were
garrisoned by the Turks. Some two miles out ran the little river
called the Tchernaya, which runs through the valley of Inkerman into
the head of the harbor of Sebastopol, and upon this a body of Russian
troops had been for some time encamped. Large bodies of the enemy were
known to be gathered on the Mackenzie heights, a range of hills which
bounded the plain upon the opposite side. These had been strongly
reinforced, and at daybreak the Russian army, having gathered at the
Tchernaya, advanced upon the Turkish redoubts. The scene when the boys
reached the edge of the plateau was a stirring one. Great bodies of
infantry were marching across the undulating plain. Strong regiments
of cavalry swept hither and thither, and two batteries of light guns
had already opened on the redoubts. Lines of British infantry could be
seen drawn up at the foot of the slopes from Balaklava to the Marine
Heights, where the marines were getting the guns in a position to
command the plain. Solid bodies of British cavalry were drawn up near
the mouth of the valley. The drums and bugles were sounding all over
the plateau behind the group, and the troops were already forming up,
and staff-officers were dashing about with orders.

"There goes my regimental call," Harry said. "I must go back again,

"I shall push on," Jack said. "Come along, you fellows, we're too far
off to see much of it here. Let us get down as near Balaklava as we

So saying, the midshipmen set off at a run. For a few minutes the guns
of No. 1 redoubt, the farthest out of all, replied to the Russian
fire, and then the Turks, menaced by overwhelming forces, and beyond
the possibility of any assistance, left their guns and bolted across
the plain towards the second redoubt. Few of them, however, reached
it, for the Russian cavalry swooped down on them and nearly all were
sabred as they ran. As soon as the Russians obtained possession of the
redoubt they turned its guns upon the British, and the 93d Highlanders
who were drawn up in front of the entrance to the Balaklava valley,
were forced to fall back. Our cavalry, which were formed up in a
slight dip of the ground, were invisible to the enemy. As the Russians
advanced, the Turks in the second redoubt fled towards the third, but
the Russian cavalry were too quick for them, and but few escaped. The
guns were turned by the Russians upon the third redoubt, and, untaught
by the fate of their comrades that it was safer to stand than to run,
the Turks here also bolted, and ran for the town. Again did the
Russian cavalry sweep down. The naval guns from the Marine Heights,
the French and Turkish batteries on the road up to the camp in vain
spoke out, and sent their shot and shell far out on the plain. The
distance was too great, and many of the Turks were cut down, the rest
reaching our lines where they formed up behind the 93d.

By this time the whole sweep from the Sebastopol plateau to Balaklava
was alive with spectators. The British infantry were drawn up ready to
defend their position or to march down and take part in a general
battle. Heavy columns of the French were marching from their distant
camps, while groups of generals and mounted officers watched the
progress of the fight. Lord Raglan and General Canrobert, who now
commanded the French (Marshal St. Arnaud having gone on board ship a
day or two after the battle of the Alma, where he died two days
later), had taken up their position on some rising ground above
Kadikoi, a village which lay near the mouth of the Balaklava valley.

As the Russian cavalry on the left of their advance crowned the slope
they saw the Highlanders drawn up in line across the plain. They
halted till joined by numbers of other squadrons. Then they dashed at
the Highlanders. As they came sweeping in magnificent array the Turks
fired a volley and bolted. The Highlanders stood firm and immovable.
When the Russians came within 600 yards, a long flash of fire ran
along the British front. The distance, however, was too great, and the
Russians came steadily on, although the shot from the British
batteries were plunging thick among them.

When within 250 yards of the Highlanders another flash of fire swept
out along the line, and this time so great was the effect that the
Russian squadrons recoiled, and in another minute were galloping back
towards their main body, while a cheer ran along the heights from the
marine battery to Sebastopol.

Lord Raglan now sent orders to Lord Lucan to advance, and the Heavy
Brigade moved forward just as a large body of Russian cavalry came
over the brow in front of them. The British trumpets rang out the
charge, and the Scots Greys and Inniskillings, who formed the first
line of the Heavy Brigade, dashed at the enemy. Gathering speed as
they went, these two splendid regiments rode at the heavy masses of
Russian cavalry. Faster and faster grew their speed till, with a
mighty shout, they flung themselves upon the foe. For a moment all
seemed wild confusion to the spectators. Redcoats and black were
inextricably mixed together, and over them like a play of rapid
lightning was the flash of steel as the swords rose and fell.
Presently the Redcoats were seen emerging from the rear, having cut
their way through the surging mass. The flanks of the Russian column,
however, were lapping them in, and it seemed that the little body
would be annihilated, when the 4th and 5th Dragoon Guards, forming the
second line of the Heavy Brigade, burst upon them like a torrent.
Smitten, as if by a thunderbolt, the Russian cavalry, men and horses,
rolled over before the stroke, and the column, shattered and broken
into fragments, galloped away to the shelter of their infantry, while
a roar of triumph arose from long lines of the allies.

By this time the French infantry had arrived upon the ground, and
Balaklava was safe. Then came the episode by which the battle of
Balaklava is best known, the famous charge of the Six Hundred. An
order was sent from Lord Raglan to Lord Lucan to advance the light
cavalry farther. Captain Nolan, who bore the order, was himself a
light cavalry officer of great enterprise and distinction, and who had
an unlimited faith in the powers of British light cavalry. Excited
probably by the sight of the glorious feat achieved by the "heavies,"
and burning to see it emulated by his comrades of the light regiments,
he so gave the order to Lord Lucan that the latter conceived it to be
his duty to charge. The order was simply to advance, but when Lord
Lucan asked him, "How far are we to advance?" he replied, pointing to
the Russians, "There are the enemy and there are the guns."

Lord Lucan, conceiving that his orders were absolute, ordered Lord
Cardigan to advance upon the guns. Lord Cardigan saw at once the
desperate nature of the enterprise. The guns were a mile and a half
distant, backed by the whole Russian army. The line to be ridden over
was swept not only by the fire of the guns he was about to charge, but
by those of other batteries on the flank. No support was possible, for
the heavy cavalry were at this time far away, executing a movement
which had been ordered. Lastly, even if successful, the charge could
be attended with no great results, as it would be impossible either to
hold or carry away the guns.

The enterprise was indeed a desperate one. Lord Cardigan gave the
order, and the Light Brigade, numbering in all but the strength of a
single regiment, set out at a trot towards the distant Russians. As
they approached they quickened their speed, and the spectators saw
with feelings of mixed horror and admiration, the enterprise on which
they had embarked. When at the distance of 1200 yards from the
Russians, thirty pieces of artillery opened fire upon them. Men and
horses rolled over before the iron shower, but the squadrons closed up
their gaps and rode straight forward, with sabres flashing in the sun,
leaving the plain behind them dotted with killed and wounded.

Again, as they neared the battery, the iron shower swept through their
ranks; then with a mighty shout they dashed upon the guns. Brief was
the struggle here. The Russian gunners were cut down, and gathering
together, boot to boot, the British cavalry rode straight at a Russian
line of infantry which formed up 100 yards behind the guns, poured a
volley into them. There was no pause, but straight, and with the shock
of an avalanche, they hurled themselves at the Russians. There was a
yell, a crash, the clash of sabre on bayonet, the shout of the victor,
the scream of the dying, and the British horsemen burst through the
Russian line. Their work was done. They were conquerors, but alone in
an army of enemies. Turning now, they swept back again through the
guns on their homeward way. The flank batteries belched their fire
upon them, the rattle of musketry sounded round them, a regiment of
cavalry was hurled upon their flanks, but these, weak as they were,
they dashed aside, and wounded and bleeding, the remnant of the
gallant band rode on until met by the Heavy Brigade, advancing to
assist them and cover their retreat.

Our infantry now made a forward movement. The Russians fell back, and
at half-past eleven the battle of Balaklava was over. While the
British charge was going on, 200 of the French cavalry made a
brilliant charge on the left and carried a battery, but had to retreat
with a loss of two captains, and fifty men killed and wounded. Our
loss in all was thirteen officers killed or taken, and twenty-seven
officers wounded, 162 men killed or taken, and 224 men wounded. There
were 394 horses killed or missing, and 126 horses wounded. The
Russians carried off some ten guns from the redoubts which they
captured in the morning.

Jack and his friends returned at the conclusion of the fight to camp,
where, as they had rather expected, they met with a severe reprimand
for their absence, being told that upon such an occasion, whether off
duty or not, their duty was to remain in camp. Captain Peel indeed,
was nearly sending them back to their ships again. But after a very
severe reprimand he allowed them to remain. The boys went back to
their tent somewhat crestfallen, but agreed that such a sight as they
had witnessed was worth anything.

October ended, and the batteries of besieged and besiegers continued
to play, the Russians causing much annoyance by the heavy shell which
they threw up from their mortars; the battery worked by the
blue-jackets suffering particularly. The Russians had now 240 guns in
their new works, a number far superior to those of the allies. As yet
no damage whatever had been inflicted on the enemy's works. Each day
their faces were pitted with shot, each night the Russians repaired
the damages. In the mean time the Russians had received very large
reinforcements. Two of the Imperial Grand Dukes had also arrived, and
they were preparing for an attempt to sweep the allies into the sea.
The weather had set in wet; the soldiers were weakened by their
incessant work in the trenches, by wet and exposure, and the strength
of many of the regiments was greatly reduced by disease. All hopes of
capturing the fortress and returning to Constantinople to winter were
now at an end, and the roads having become mere quagmires, the
supplies of food and of fuel were growing scanty. On the 3d, Jack had
been sent down to Balaklava with a despatch from Captain Peel to
Admiral Lyons. Mr. Hethcote lent him his pony, and having delivered
his message in the guard-ship in the harbor, whence it would be taken
out to the "Agamemnon," Jack went on board some of the transports, and
discharged a number of commissions with which he had been intrusted by
his comrades. So numerous were they that he was obliged to get a
couple of sacks which were completely filled with hams, bottled stout,
fresh bread, potted meats, brandy, matches, and tobacco. He had, too,
succeeded in purchasing several waterproof sheets and tarpaulins, and
these being fastened on the top of the sacks, were placed upon the
pony's back, and, taking his bridle, Jack started through the mud for
his long tramp back to camp, for it was quite out of the question that
the pony could carry him in addition to these burdens. Not a little
laughter was excited on his arrival, and there was quite a rush of the
various officers to procure their share of Jack's purchases, for no
officer had been down to Balaklava for a fortnight, and the stores of
luxuries were completely exhausted.

Next night Jack and his messmates gave a grand entertainment. Harry
and two other lieutenants of the 33d--for the battle of the Alma had
made so many death vacancies in the regiment that he had obtained his
promotion--were there, and two young officers of the 30th who were
cousins of one of Jack's tentmates. It certainly was a close pack. Tom
Hammond had obtained some planks, and, laying these on the flour
barrel, had contrived a sort of circular table, round which the
parties sat with their backs to the wall, on boxes, empty preserved
potato tins, rum kegs, and portmanteaus. There was no room for Tom to
enter the tent, so the full dishes were handed in through the
entrance, and the empty ones passed out. Each guest of course brought
his own plate, knife, fork, spoon, and drinking tin. As for a change
of plates, no one dreamed of such a thing.

Outside, the night set in wet and gloomy, but four tallow candles
stuck in bottles threw a grand illumination.

The first course was pea-soup. It smelt good, but it had a suspicious
appearance, globules of grease floated upon its surface. All fell to
with a will, but with the first spoonful there was a general

"What on earth is this, Jack?" Harry exclaimed.

"What the deuce is it?" another said. "It is filthy!"

While one of the young officers of the 30th exclaimed to his cousin,
"Confound it, Ned! you haven't brought us here to poison us, have

This explosion was followed by a simultaneous shout for Tom by his six
angry masters.

The top-man put his head in at the slit.

"What the deuce have you been doing to this soup?" roared the
indignant chorus.

"Soup, your honors? Nothing."

"Nothing! Don't tell me, you ruffian!" exclaimed Allison, the oldest
of the midshipmen. "It's poison! What have you been doing to it?"

"Well, your honor, the only way I can account for it is that a while
ago I took off the lid to see if it was boiling nicely, when a bit of
tallow candle I had in my fingers slipped and fell into it. I couldn't
get it out, though I scalded my fingers in trying, and it just melted
away in no time. I skimmed the fat off the top, your honors, and
didn't think it would make no matter."

The shout of laughter which greeted the explanation was loud and

"You're a scoundrel, Tom!" Allison said, "and I shall have to ask Mr.
Hethcote to disrate you, and get some one here who is not a born
idiot. Here, take this horrible mess away! Pour the contents of your
plates back into the pot, boys, and put the plates together. You must
wash them, Tom, or the tallow will taste in everything we have."

The things were passed out of the tent, and after five minutes the
plates were returned, and with them a great tin piled up with Irish
stew, the contents of five tins. A cheer rose as the smell of the food
greeted their nostrils.

"Hurrah! This is something like! I don't think there's any mistake
this time."

Nor was there. The stew was unanimously voted to be perfect, and Tom
was again called to the tent-door, and solemnly forgiven.

Then came fried rashers of ham, eaten with hard biscuit. Then came the
great triumph of the banquet--a great plum-pudding, which had been
sent out from England in a tin, ready cooked, and which had only
required an hour's boiling to warm it through.

In order to eat this in what the midshipmen called proper style, a tin
pannikin half filled with brandy was held over the candles, and the
brandy being then ignited, was poured over the pudding. Not a scrap of
this was left when the party had finished, and the table being
cleared, pipes were brought out and lighted; the drinking-cups
refilled with grog, and the party set-to to enjoy a long evening.

"It is a beastly night," the one sitting next to the door said,
peering out into the darkness. "It is a fine rain, or rather a Scotch
mist, so thick I can hardly see the next tent. It will be as much as
you fellows will be able to do to find your way back to your camps.

"Now," Allison said, "let us make ourselves comfortable. It is only
seven o'clock yet, and you've got three hours before 'lights out.'
It's my duty as president of the mess to call upon some one for a
song, but as I'm a good fellow I will set the example myself. Upon the
present occasion we can't do better than begin with 'The Red, White,
and Blue,' and, mind, a good chorus every one. Any one shirking the
chorus will have no share of the next round of grog, and any one who
does not sing when called upon, or who attempts to make any base
explanations or excuses, will have to drink his tin full of salt and

Without further delay Allison began his song, one very popular at that
time. There was no occasion for him to use his authority as president
in the infliction of fines, for every one in turn, when called upon,
did his best, and the choruses were heard over the whole of the naval

"Hullo! What's all this noise about?" said a cheery voice presently,
as a head was put through the opening of the tent.

The midshipmen all jumped to their feet.

"We are having a jollification, sir," Allison said, "on the things
Archer brought up from Balaklava yesterday. Are we making too much
noise, sir?"

"Not a bit, lads," the first lieutenant said. "It's cheerful to hear
you. It isn't much enjoyment that we get on this bleak plateau. Well,
good-night. You mustn't keep it up after 'lights out,' you know."

"That's something like a first lieutenant," Allison said, when Mr.
Hethcote had retired. "Most of them look as if they'd swallowed a
ramrod, and treat middies as if they were the dust of the earth. I'm
quite sure that a man who is genial and nice gets his work done ever
so much better than do those stand-off fellows. I see in your camp,"
he said to the officers, "colonels and majors standing and chatting to
the young officers just as pleasantly and freely as a party of
gentlemen on shore. Why the captain of a ship should hold himself as
if he were a little god, is a thing I have never been able to make
out. I'm sure you fellows obey orders on parade none the less promptly
and readily because the colonel has been chatting with you in the
mess-room half an hour before. But don't let us waste time. Archer,
it's your turn for a song."

And so merrily the hours passed away, until it was time to break up
and put out the lights. And as the young fellows laughed and sung,
while the mist and rain came down pitilessly outside, they little
thought what was preparing for the morrow, or dreamed that the
churches in Sebastopol were crowded with Russian soldiers praying the
saints to give them victory on the morrow, and to aid them to drive
the enemies of the Czar into the sea.



It was soon after five in the morning when the pickets of the second
division, keeping such watch as they were able in the misty light,
while the rain fell steadily and thickly, dimly perceived a gray mass
moving up the hill from the road at the end of the harbor. Although
this point was greatly exposed to attack, nothing had been done to
strengthen the position. A few lines of earthworks, a dozen guns in
batteries, would have made the place secure from a sudden attack. But
not a sod had been turned, and the steep hillside lay bare and open to
the advance of an enemy.

Although taken by surprise, and wholly ignorant of the strength of the
force opposed to them, the pickets stood their ground, but before the
heavy masses of men clambering up the hill, they could do nothing, and
were forced to fall back, contesting every foot.

Almost simultaneously, the pickets of the light division were also
driven in, and General Codrington, who happened to be making his
rounds at the front, at once sent a hurried messenger to the camp with
the report that the Russians were attacking in force. The second
division was that encamped nearest to the threatened spot. General
Pennefather, who, as Sir De Lacy Evans was ill on board ship, was in
command, called the men who had just turned out of their tents, and
were beginning as best they could to light their fires of soaked wood,
to stand to their arms, and hurried forward General Adam's brigade,
consisting of the 41st, 47th, and 49th, to the brow of the hill to
check the advance of the enemy by the road from the valley, while with
his own brigade, consisting of the 30th, 55th, and 95th, he took post
on their flank. Already, however, the Russians had got their guns on
to the high ground, and these opened a tremendous fire on the British

Sir George Cathcart brought up such portions of the 20th, 21st, 46th,
57th, 63d, and 68th regiments as were not employed in the trenches,
and occupied the ground to the right of the second division. General
Codrington, with part of the 7th, 23d, and 33d, took post to cover the
extreme of our right attack. General Buller's brigade was to support
the second division on the left, while Jeffrey's brigade, with the
80th regiment, was pushed forward into the brushwood. The third
division, under Sir R. England, was held in reserve. The Duke of
Cambridge, with the Guards, advanced on the right of the second
division to the edge of the plateau overlooking the valley of the
Tchernaya, Sir George Cathcart's division being on his right.

There was no manoeuvring. Each general led his men forward through the
mist and darkness against an enemy whose strength was unknown, and
whose position was only indicated by the flash of his guns and the
steady roll of his musketry. It was a desperate strife between
individual regiments and companies scattered and broken in the thick
brushwood, and the dense columns of gray-clad Russians, who advanced
from the mist to meet them. Few orders were given or needed. Each
regiment was to hold the ground on which it stood, or die there.

Sir George Cathcart led his men down a ravine in front of him, but the
Russians were already on the hillside above, and poured a terrible
fire into the 63d. Turning, he cheered them on, and led them back up
the hill; surrounded and enormously outnumbered, the regiments
suffered terribly on their way back, Sir George Cathcart and many of
his officers and vast numbers of the men being killed. The 88th were
surrounded, and would have been cut to pieces, when four companies of
the 77th charged the Russians, and broke a way of retreat for their

The Guards were sorely pressed; a heavy Russian column bore down upon
them, and bayonet to bayonet, the men strove fiercely with their foes.
The ammunition failed, but they still clung to a small, unarmed
battery called the Sand-bag battery, in front of their portion, and
with volleys of stones tried to check their foes. Fourteen officers
and half the men were down, and yet they held the post till another
Russian column appeared in their rear. Then they fell back, but,
reinforced by a wing of the 20th, they still opposed a resolute front
to the Russians.

Not less were the second division pressed; storms of shot and bullets
swept through them, column after column of grey-clad Russians surged
up the hill and flung themselves upon them; but, though suffering
terribly, the second division still held their ground. The 41st was
well-nigh cut to pieces, the 95th could muster but sixty-four bayonets
when the fight was over, and the whole division, when paraded when the
day was done, numbered but 800 men.

But this could not last. As fast as one assault was repulsed, fresh
columns of the enemy came up the hill to the attack, our ammunition
was failing, the men exhausted with the struggle, and the day was
well-nigh lost when, at nine o'clock, the French streamed over the
brow of the hill on our right in great force, and fell upon the flank
of the Russians. Even now the battle was not won. The Russians brought
up their reserves, and the fight still raged along the line. For
another three hours the struggle went on, and then, finding that even
the overwhelming numbers and the courage with which their men fought
availed not to shake the defence, the Russian generals gave up the
attack, and the battle of Inkerman was at an end.

On the Russian side some 35,000 men were actually engaged, with
reserves of 15,000 more in their rear; while the British, who for
three hours withstood them, numbered but 8500 bayonets. Seven thousand
five hundred of the French took part in the fight. Forty-four British
officers were killed, 102 wounded; 616 men killed, 1878 wounded. The
French had fourteen officers killed, and thirty-four wounded; 118 men
killed, 1299 wounded. These losses, heavy as they were, were yet small
by the side of those of the Russians. Terrible, indeed, was the
destruction which the fire of our men inflicted upon the dense masses
of the enemy. The Russians admitted that they lost 247 officers killed
and wounded, 4076 men killed, 10,162 wounded. In this battle the
British had thirty-eight, the French eighteen guns engaged. The
Russians had 106 guns in position.

Jack Archer and his comrades were still in bed, when the first
dropping shots, followed by a heavy roll of musketry, announced that
the Russians were upon them. Accustomed to the roar or guns, they
slept on, till Tom Hammond rushed into the tent.

"Get up, gentlemen, get up. The Russian army has climbed up the hill,
and is attacking us like old boots. The bugles are sounding the alarm
all over the camps."

In an instant the lads were out of bed, and their dressing took them
scarce a minute.

"I can't see ten yards before me," Jack said, as he rushed out. "By
Jove, ain't they going it!"

Every minute added to the din, till the musketry grew into one
tremendous roar, above which the almost unbroken roll of the cannon
could scarce by heard. Along the whole face of the trenches the
batteries of the allies joined in the din; for it was expected that
the Russians would seize the opportunity to attack them also.

In a short time the fusillade of musketry broke out far to the left,
and showed that the Russians were there attacking the French lines.
The noise was tremendous, and all in camp were oppressed by the sound
which told of a mighty conflict raging, but of which they could see
absolutely nothing.

"This is awful," Jack said. "Here they are pounding away at each
other, and we as much out of it as if we were a thousand miles away.
Don't I wish Captain Peel would march us all down to help!"

But in view of the possible sortie, it would have been dangerous to
detach troops from their places on the trenches and batteries, and
the sailors had nothing to do but to wait, fuming over their forced
inaction while a great battle was raging close at hand. Overhead the
Russian balls sang in swift succession, sometimes knocking down a
tent, sometimes throwing masses of earth into the air, sometimes
bursting with a sharp detonation above them; and all this time the
rain fell, and the mist hung like a veil around them. Presently a
mounted officer rode into the sailor's camp.

"Where am I?" he said. "I have lost my way."

"This is the marine camp." Captain Peel said, stepping forward to him
as he drew rein. "How is the battle going, sir?"

"Very badly, I'm afraid. We are outnumbered by five to one. Our men
are fighting like heroes, but they are being fairly borne down by
numbers. The Russians have got a tremendous force of artillery on to
the hills, which we thought inaccessible to guns. There has been gross
carelessness on our part, and we are paying for it now. I am looking
for the third division camp; where is it?"

"Straight ahead, sir; but I think they have all gone forward. We heard
them tramping past in the mist."

"I am ordered to send every man forward; every musket is of value. How
many men have you here in case you are wanted?"

"We have only fifty," Captain Peel said. "The rest are all in the
battery, and I dare not move forward without absolute orders, as we
may be wanted to reinforce them, if the enemy makes a sortie."

The officer rode on, and the sailors stood in groups behind the line
of piled muskets, ready for an instant advance, if called upon.

Another half-hour passed, and the roll of fire continued unabated.

"It is certainly nearer than it was," Captain Peel said to Mr.
Hethcote. "No orders have come, but I will go forward myself and see
what is doing. Even our help, small as it is, may be useful at some
critical point. I will take two of the midshipmen with me, and will
send you back news of what is doing."

"Mr. Allison and Mr. Archer, you will accompany Captain Peel," Mr.
Hethcote said.

And the two youngsters, delighted at being chosen, prepared to start
at once.

"If they send up for reinforcements from the battery, Mr. Hethcote,
you will move the men down at once, without waiting for me. Take every
man down, even those on duty as cooks. There is no saying how hard we
may be pressed."

Followed by the young midshipmen, Captain Peel strode away through the
mist, which was now heavy with gunpowder-smoke. They passed through
the camp of the second division, which was absolutely deserted, except
that there was a bustle round the hospital marquées, to which a string
of wounded, some carried on stretchers, some making their way
painfully on foot, was flowing in.

Many of the tents had been struck down by the Russian shot; black
heaps showed where others had been fired by the shell. Dimly ahead,
when the mist lifted, could be seen bodies of men, while on a distant
crest were the long lines of Russian guns, whose fire swept the
British regiments.

"I suppose these regiments are in reserve?" Jack said, as he passed
some of Sir R. England's division, lying down in readiness to move to
the front when required, most of the battalions having already gone
forward to support the troops who were most pressed.

Presently Captain Peel paused on a knoll, close to a body of mounted

"There's Lord Raglan," Allison said, nudging Jack. "That's the
headquarter staff."

At that moment a shell whizzed through the air, and exploded in the
centre of the group.

Captain Gordon's horse was killed, and a portion of the shell carried
away the leg of General Strangeway. The old general never moved, but
said quietly,--

"Will any one be kind enough to lift me off my horse?"

He was laid down on the ground, and presently carried to the rear,
where an hour afterwards he died.

Jack and his comrades, who were but a few yards away, felt strange and
sick, for it was the first they had seen of battle close at hand. Lord
Raglan, with his staff, moved slowly forward. Captain Peel asked if he
should bring up his sailors, but was told to hold them in reserve, as
the force in the trenches had already been fearfully weakened.

"Stay here," Captain Peel said to the midshipmen. "I shall go forward
a little, but do you remain where you are until I return. Just lie
down behind the crest. You will get no honor if you are hit here."

The lads were not sorry to obey, for a perfect hail of bullets was
whistling through the air. The mist had lifted still farther, and they
could obtain a sight of the whole line along which the struggle was
raging, scarce a quarter of a mile in front of them. Sometimes the
remnants of a regiment would fall back from the front, when a fresh
battalion from the reserves came up to fill its place, then forming
again, would readvance into the thick belt of smoke which marked where
the conflict was thickest. Sometimes above the roll of musketry would
come the sharp rattle which told of a volley by the British rifles.

Well was it that two out of the three divisions were armed with
Minies, for these created terrible havoc among the Russians, whose
smooth-bores were no match for these newly-invented weapons.

With beating hearts the boys watched the conflict, and could mark that
the British fire grew feebler, and in some places ceased altogether,
while the wild yells of the Russians rose louder as they pressed
forward exultingly, believing that victory lay within their grasp.

"Things look very bad, Jack," Allison said. "Ammunition is evidently
failing, and it is impossible for our fellows to hold out much longer
against such terrible odds. What on earth are the French doing all
this time? Our fellows have been fighting single-handed for the last
three hours. What in the world can they be up to?"

And regardless of the storm of bullets, he leaped to his feet and
looked round.

"Hurrah, Jack! Here they come, column after column. Ten more minutes
and they'll be up. Hurry up, you lubbers," he shouted in his
excitement; "every minute is precious, and you've wasted time enough,
surely. By Jove, they're only just in time. There are the Guards
falling back. Don't you see their bearskins?"

"They are only just in time," Jack agreed, as he stood beside his
comrade. "Another quarter of an hour and they would have had to begin
the battle afresh, for there would have been none of our fellows left.
Hurrah! hurrah!" he cried, as, with a tremendous volley and a ringing
shout, the French fell upon the flank of the Russians.

The lads had fancied that before that onslaught the Russians must have
given way at once. But no. Fresh columns of troops topped the hill,
fresh batteries took the place of those which had suffered most
heavily by the fire of our guns, and the fight raged as fiercely as
ever. Still, the boys had no fear of the final result. The French were
fairly engaged now, and from their distant camps fresh columns of
troops could be seen streaming across the plateau.

Upon our allies now fell the brunt of the fight, and the British,
wearied and exhausted, were able to take a short breathing-time. Then,
with pouches refilled and spirits heightened, they joined in the fray
again, and, as the fight went on, the cheers of the British and the
shouts of the French rose louder, while the answering yell of the
Russians grew fainter and less frequent. Then the thunder of musketry
sensibly diminished. The Russian artillery-men were seen to be
withdrawing their guns, and slowly and sullenly the infantry fell back
from the ground which they had striven so hard to win.

It was a heavy defeat, and had cost them 15,000 men; but, at least, it
had for the time saved Sebastopol; for, with diminished forces, the
British generals saw that all hopes of carrying the place by assault
before the winter were at an end and that it would need all their
effort to hold their lines through the months of frost and snow which
were before them.

When the battle was over, Captain Peel returned to the point where he
had left the midshipmen, and these followed him back to the camp,
where, however, they were not to stay, for every disposable man was at
once ordered out to proceed with stretchers to the front to bring in

Terrible was the sight indeed. In many places the dead lay thickly
piled on the ground, and the manner in which Englishmen, Russians, and
Frenchmen lay mixed together showed how the tide of battle had ebbed
and flowed, and how each patch of ground had been taken and retaken
again and again. Here Russians and grenadiers lay stretched side by
side, sometimes with their bayonets still locked in each other's
bodies. Here, where the shot and shell swept most fiercely, lay the
dead, whose very nationality was scarcely distinguishable, so torn and
mutilated were they.

Here a French Zouave, shot through the legs, was sitting up,
supporting on his breast the head of his dying officer. A little way
off, a private of the 88th, whose arm had been carried away, besought
the searchers to fill and light his pipe for him, and to take the
musket out of the hand of a wounded Russian near, who, he said, had
three times tried to get it up to fire at him as he lay.

In other cases, Russians and Englishmen had already laid aside their
enmity, and were exchanging drinks from their water-bottles.

Around the sand-bag battery, which the Guards had held, the dead lay
thicker than elsewhere on the plateau; while down in the ravine where
Cathcart had led his men, the bodies of the 63d lay heaped together.
The sailors had, before starting, fill their bottles with grog, and
this they administered to friend and foe indiscriminately, saving many
a life ebbing fast with the flow of blood. The lads moved here and
there, searching for the wounded among the dead, awed and sobered by
the fearful spectacle. More than one dying message was breathed into
their ears; more than one ring or watch given to them to send to dear
ones at home. All through the short winter day they worked, aided by
strong parties of the French who had not been engaged; and it was a
satisfaction to know that, when night fell, the greater portion of the
wounded, British and French, had been carried off the field. As for
the Russians, those who fell on the plateau received equal care with
the allies; but far down among the bushes that covered the hillside
lay hundreds of wounded wretches whom no succor, that day at least,
could be afforded.

The next day the work of bringing in the Russian wounded was
continued, and strong fatigue parties were at work, digging great
pits, in which the dead were laid those of each nationality being kept

The British camps, on the night after Inkerman, afforded a strong
contrast to the scene which they presented the night before. No merry
laugh arose from the men crouched round the fires; no song sounded
through the walls of the tents. There was none of the joy and triumph
of victory; the losses which had been suffered were so tremendous as
to overpower all other feeling. Of the regiments absolutely engaged,
fully one-half had fallen; and the men and officers chatted in hushed
voices over the good fellows who had gone, and of the chances of those
who lay maimed and bleeding in the hospital tents.

To his great relief, Jack had heard, early in the afternoon, that the
33d had not been hotly engaged, and that his brother was unwounded.
The two young officers of the 30th, who had, a few hours before, been
spending the evening so merrily in the tent, had both fallen, as had
many of the friends in the brigade of Guards whose acquaintance he had
made on board the "Ripon," and in the regiments which, being encamped
near by the sailors, he had come to know.

Midshipmen are not given to moralizing, but it was not in human nature
that the lads, as they gathered in their tent that evening, should not
talk over the sudden change which so few hours had wrought. The future
of the siege, too, was discussed, and it was agreed that they were
fixed where they were for the winter.

The prospect was a dreary one, for if they had had so many discomforts
to endure hitherto, what would it be during the next four months on
that bleak plateau? For themselves, however, they were indifferent in
this respect, as it was already known the party on shore would be
shortly relieved.



Two days after the battle of Inkerman, the party of sailors who manned
the batteries before Sebastopol were relieved by a fresh set from on
board the men-of-war. Some of those who had been away at the front
returned on board ship, while others, among whom was Jack Archer, were
ordered to join the camp at the marine heights above Balaklava, to
fill the places of some men invalided on board ship.

The change was, in some respects, an agreeable one; in others, the
reverse. The position was very high and exposed to wind; but, on the
other hand, the men, being able to obtain materials at Balaklava, had
constructed warm shelters. The ravines below were well wooded, and
they were consequently enabled to keep up cheerful fires; whereas at
the front the supply of fuel barely sufficed to cook the food, and was
almost useless for any purposes of warmth. There was far less
privation here, for Balaklava lay within twenty minutes' walk, and
stores of all kinds could be bought on board the ships. There was,
too, an entire absence of the heavy and continuous work in the wet
trenches. The great drawback to the position was, indeed, the absence
of excitement and change, and the quiet seemed almost preternatural
after the almost continual boom of cannon at the front.

Jack was pleased to find his chum Hawtry on duty at the height.

"This is a grand view, Hawtry," he said, as he stood at the edge of
the cliff the morning after his arrival.

Below at his feet lay a great fleet of transports. To the left the
cliffs stretched away, wild and precipitous, rising to heights far
greater than the point at which they stood, some 600 feet above the
sea. On his right the hill sloped gradually down to the old Genoese
castle, and then sharply to the harbor, in which lay several
men-of-war. In Balaklava, lines of wooden huts had been erected for a
hospital, and their felt-covered roofs contrasted with the red tiles
of the Tartar houses, and with the white walls and tower of the
church. Along the valley at the foot of the harbor long lines of
arabas and pack-animals, looking like mere specks from the point where
the lads were standing, could be seen making their way to the front;
while seven miles distant, on the plateau above Sebastopol, rose, like
countless white dots, the tents of the Allied Army. Turning still
farther round, they saw the undulating plain across which the light
cavalry had charged upon the Russian guns, while standing boldly
against the sky was the lofty table-land extending from above the
village of Inkerman, right across the line of sight to the point known
as Mackenzie Heights, from a farm belonging to an Englishman situated
there. On these heights were encamped a large body of Russian troops.

"It's a splendid view, Dick," Jack Archer said; "but," he added,
turning to look at the fleet of transports again, "I shouldn't like to
be on board one of those ships if it came on to blow. It must be a
rocky bottom and no holding-ground."

"That's what every one is saying, Jack. No one can make out why they
don't let them all go inside. Of course they could not all unload at
once, but there is room for them to shelter, if laid in tiers, as they
would be in a crowded port. Yes, if we get a storm, and they say in
the Black Sea they do have terrific gales during the winter, I fear we
shall have a terrible business here."

Two days later they had a taste of what a storm in the Black Sea was.
On the afternoon of Friday, the 10th, the wind got up, blowing
straight into the bay. Very rapidly the sea rose. As dusk came on the
sailors on the marine heights gathered on the edge of the cliff, and
looked anxiously down upon the sea. Already great waves were tumbling
in, dashing against the foot of the cliff, and sending clouds of spray
half-way up to the old castle, 200 feet above them. The ships were
laboring heavily, tugging and straining on their cables. From the
funnels of the steamers volumes of black smoke were pouring, showing
that they were getting up steam to keep the screws or paddles going,
and relieve the strain upon their anchors.

"I wouldn't be aboard one of them craft," an old sailor said, "not for
enough money to find me in grog and 'bacca for the rest of my life. If
the gale gets stronger, half them ships will be ashore afore morning,
and if they do, God help those on board!"

Happily the storm did not increase in violence, and when morning broke
it was found that although many of the vessels had dragged their
anchors, and some damage had been done by collisions, none had gone
ashore. The knowledge, however, of how heavy a sea got up in a gale of
even moderate force, and how frightfully dangerous was the position of
the vessels, would, it might be thought, have served as a lesson, but
unhappily it did not do so. The naval officer who was in charge of the
harbor was obstinate, and again refused the request of the masters of
many of the transports that the shipping might all be allowed to enter
the harbor. He refused, and upon him is the responsibility of the
terrible loss of life which ensued. On the 14th the wind again began
to rise, and the sailors, as night came on, looked over the sea.

"We are going to have a bad night of it again," the officer in command
of the post said, as he gazed seaward. "It looks as wild a night as
ever I saw. Look how fast the scud is flying overhead. Last week's
gale was a stiff one, but, unless I'm mistaken, it will be nothing to
that which is upon us."

Louder and louder roared the wind, till men could scarce keep their
feet outside shelter. The tents shook and rocked. Men could hardly
hear each other's voices above the storm, and even in the darkness of
night the sheets of foam could be seen dashing up to the very walls of
the castle.

Jack Archer and Dick Hawtry, who with two other midshipmen occupied a
tent, sat listening awe-struck to the fury of the gale. There was a
gust fiercer than usual, accompanied by a crack like the sound of a
pistol, followed by a stifled shout.

"There's a tent down!" Hawtry exclaimed, "and I shouldn't wonder--"

He did not finish, for at the moment the pole of their own tent broke
asunder like a pipe, and in an instant the four were buried beneath
the folds of the canvas. With much shouting and laughter they
struggled to the entrance and made their way out. Half the tents were
already levelled to the ground, and ten minutes later not one remained
standing. The midshipmen crowded into the turf huts which some of the
officers had had erected. Scarcely had they entered, when there was
the boom of a heavy gun.

"I thought so," Dick Hawtry said. "There's the first of them. How many
more will there be before morning?"

The door opened, and a sailor put in his head.

"Gentlemen, the captain says you are to turn out. He's going to take a
party down to the castle with ropes."

In a few minutes a hundred men mustered, and moved down the hill. So
fierce was the gale that, during the squalls, it was impossible to
keep themselves on their feet, and all had to lie down till the fury
of the gust had passed. It was pitch dark, and they groped rather than
made their way along. Fast now, one after another, came the sound of
the signal guns.

"There must be a dozen of them adrift," Dick shouted into his friend's
ear during one of the lulls. "God help them all; what will become of
them? A ship would be dashed to pieces like an eggshell against these

When they reached the lowest point of the cliff, the party were halted
and told to lie down and keep themselves in readiness, in case their
services should be required. The officers struggled forward to the
edge, and tried to see what was going on down in the bay below; but
little could be seen, save the mighty sheets of spray, as the waves
struck the cliffs. Here and there in the wild waters they fancied
occasionally that they could see the dark forms of the ships, but even
of this they could not have been certain, save for the twinkling
lights which rose and fell, and dashed to and fro like fire-flies in
their flight. Now and then the flash of a cannon momentarily showed
some ship laboring in the trough of the mountainous sea.

"I believe that is the 'Black Prince,'" Jack shouted to his friend.
"That big steamer which has been lying there the last week. If it is,
she's ever so much nearer to shore than she was."

Suddenly a blue light threw its glare on the sea. It came from almost
under their feet.

"Good heavens, Dick, there is a vessel on the rocks already; and look,
a dozen more close in!"

The example was followed, and several other blue lights were burned
showing plainly the terrible nature of the scene. The vessels were
wallowing in the tremendous waves. Many had cut away their masts to
relieve the strain on their anchors. The paddles and screws of the
steamers were working at full speed, for the lines of white foam
behind them could be plainly seen. But even this availed them but
little, for almost every ship lay nearer to the line of cliffs than
she did when night fell; several were close to the foot of the rocks,
and the lookers-on noticed that some which had lain near the shore
were missing. On the decks of the ships could be seen numbers of
persons holding on to ropes and bulwarks. Sometimes from the deck of a
vessel a rocket soared up, the wind catching it as it rose, and
carrying it far inland.

By the captain's orders several blue lights, which the party had
brought down, were burned, to show those on board that their position
was perceived, but beyond this nothing could be done. Presently even
above the noise of the gale a tremendous crash was heard, and they
fancied that they heard a wild shout come faintly up.

"Can nothing be done?" Jack shouted to his friend.

"Nothing, sir," an old sailor said close by. "They are all doomed.
There were over thirty ships there this morning, for I counted them,
and I doubt if one will live out the night."

By this time the sailors, unable to lie inactive, had joined the
officers, and all were scattered in groups along the cliff.

"Is there no possible way of getting down near the water?" Jack said.

"I don't think so, sir; but if it were daylight we might make a shift
to try."

"Let us try, anyhow," Jack said.

"Oh, there is another!" as another crash was heard above the gale.

"Anything is better than standing here. I don't think the cliff goes
quite sheer down everywhere. Let us try, Dick; it would be a relief to
be doing something."

"All right, Jack. Let you and I stick together. Do you lads," he said,
turning to three or four sailors who were standing by, "keep close to
us, and lend a hand." At the point where they were standing, it was
clearly impossible to get down, for the rock sloped straight from,
their feet. Farther to the left, however, it went down more gradually,
and here the boys began to try to descend.

"There is a sort of hollow here," Jack shouted, "a sort of ravine.
This is our best place."

Cautiously, step by step, holding on to such bushes as grew among the
rocks pausing sometimes flattened against the rocks by the force of
the gust, and drenched every moment by the sheets of spray, the boys
made their way down, till they paused at a spot where the rock fell
away sheer under their feet. They could go no farther. At the moment
they heard a wild scream. A vessel appeared through the darkness
below, and crashed with a tremendous thud against the rocks. The
masts, which were so close that the boys seemed almost able to jump
upon them, as they reached nearly to the level on which they were
standing, instantly going over the side. Peering over, they could see
the black mass in the midst of the surging white waters at their feet.
The sailors had paused some way up the ascent, appalled by the
difficulties which the boys, lighter and more active, had

"Go up to the top again," Hawtry said, climbing back to them. "Bring
down one of those spars we brought down, a block, a long rope, and a
short one to serve as a guy. Get half-a-dozen more hands. You'd better
fix a rope at the top firmly, and use it to steady you as you return.
There's a ship ashore just underneath us, and I think we can get

In a few minutes the sailors descended again, carrying with them a
spar some twenty feet long. With immense difficulty this was lowered
to the spot which the boys had reached. One of the sailors had brought
down a lantern, and by its light a block was lashed to the end, and a
long rope roved through it. Then a shorter rope was fastened to the
end as a guy, and the spar lowered out, till it sloped well over the
edge. The lower edge was wedged in between two rocks, and others piled
round it.

"Now," Dick said, "I will go down."

"You'll never get down alive, sir," one of the sailor said. "The wind
will dash you against the cliff. I'll try, sir, if you like; I'm

"Let me go down with you," Jack said. "The two of us are heavier than
a man, and we shall have four legs to keep us off the cliff. Besides,
we can help each other down below."

"All right," Dick said. "Fasten us to the rope, Hardy. Make two loops
so that we shall hang face to face, and yet be separate, and give me a
short rope of two or three fathoms long, so that we can rope ourselves
together, and one hold on in case the other is washed off his feet
when we get down. Look here, Hardy, do you lie down and look over the
edge, and when you hear me yell, let them hoist away. Now for it!"

The boys were slung as Dick had ordered. "Lower away steadily," Dick
said. "Stop lowering if we yell."

In another minute the lads were swinging in space, some ten feet out
from the face of the cliff. For the first few yards they descended
steadily, and then, as the rope lengthened, the gusts of wind flung
them violently against the face of the cliff.

"Fend her off with your legs, Jack; that's the way. By Jove, that's a
ducking!" he said, as a mighty rush of spray enveloped them as a
mountainous sea struck the rock below. "I think we shall do it.
There's something black down below, I think some part of her still
holds together; slowly!" he shouted up, in one of the pauses of the
gale, and Hardy's response of "Aye, aye, sir," came down to them.

It was a desperate three minutes; but at the end of that time,
bruised, bleeding, half-stunned by the blows, half-drowned by the
sheets of water which flew over them, the lads' feet touched the
rocks. These formed a sloping shelf of some thirty feet wide at the
foot of the cliff.

The wreck which had appeared immediately under them was forty feet
away, and appeared a vague, misshapen black mass. They had been seen,
for they had waved the lantern from the edge of the cliff before
starting, and they had several times shouted as they descended, and as
they neared the ground, they were delighted at hearing by an answering
shout that their labors had not been in vain, and that some one still

"Throw us a rope," Dick shouted at the top of his voice; and in a
moment they heard a rope fall close to them. Groping about in the
darkness, they found it, just as a wave burst below them, and, dashing
high over their heads, drove them against the rock, and then floated
them off their feet. The rope from above held them, however. "Lower
away!" Dick yelled, as he regained his feet, and then, aided by the
rope from the ship, they scrambled along, and were hauled on to the
wreck before the next great sea came.

"I've broken my arm, Dick," Jack said; "but never mind me now. How
many are there alive?"

There were sixteen men huddled together under the remains of the
bulwark. The greater portion of the ship was gone altogether, and only
some forty feet of her stern remained high on the rocky ledge on which
she had been cast. The survivors were for the most part too exhausted
to move, but those who still retained some strength and vigor at once
set to work. In pairs they were fastened in the slings, and hauled up
direct from the deck of the vessel, another rope being fastened to
them and held by those on the wreck, by which means they were guided
and saved somewhat from being dashed against the cliff in the ascent.

When those below felt, by the rope no longer passing between their
hands, that the slings had reached the top, they waited for a minute
to allow those in them to be taken out, and then hauling upon the
rope, pulled the slings down again for a fresh party. So, slowly and
painfully, the whole party were, two by two, taken up from the wreck.

Several times while the operation was being performed great crashes
were heard, followed by loud shouts and screams, as vessel after
vessel drove ashore to the right or left of them. But Jack and his
friend, who consulted together, agreed that by no possibility could
these be aided, as it was only just at the point where the wreck lay
that the rocks at the foot of the cliff were high enough to be above
all but exceptionally high waves, and any one adventuring many yards
either to the right or left would have been dashed to pieces against
the cliff by the first wave.

The midshipmen were the last to leave the ship. Dick had in vain
begged his messmate to go up in one of the preceding batches, as the
last pair would necessarily be deprived of the assistance from the
lower rope, which had so materially aided the rest. Jack, however,
refused to hear of it. When the slings came down to them for the last
time, they put them on, and stood on the wreck watching till a great
wave came. When it had passed, they slipped down the side of the ship
by a rope, and hurried over the rocks till immediately under the spar,
whose position was indicated by a lantern held there. Then, in answer
to their shout, the rope tightened, and they again swung in the air.

The wind blew no more fiercely than before; indeed, it was scarce
possible it could do so; but they were now both utterly exhausted.
During the hour and a half which they had stood upon the remains of
the wreck, they had been, every minute or two, deluged with water.
Sometimes, indeed, the sea had swept clean over them, and had it not
been that they had lashed themselves with ropes, they must have been
swept away.

Every great wave had swept away some plank or beam of the wreck, and
when they left it, scarce a fragment of the deck remained attached to
the rudder-post. Terrible was the buffeting they received as they
ascended, and time after time they were dashed with immense force
against the face of the cliff.

To Jack the noise and confusion seemed to increase. A strange singing
sounded in his ears, and as the slings reached the top, and a burst of
cheering broke from the seamen there, all consciousness left him.

The officer in command of the party was himself at the spot; he and
many others having made their way down, when the news spread that a
rescue was being attempted. Dick, too, was unable to stand, and both
were carried by the sailors to the top of the slope. Here a cup of
strong rum-and-water was given to Dick, while some pure spirits poured
down his throat soon recalled Jack to consciousness. The latter, upon
opening his eyes, would have got up, but this his officer would not
allow; and he was placed on a stretcher and carried by four tars up to
the heights, where he was laid in one of the sod huts, and his arm,
which was badly fractured, set by the surgeon.

The sixteen rescued men had, as they gained the top, been at once
taken down into Balaklava, the sole survivors of the crews of over
twenty ships which had gone to pieces in that terrible hurricane.

Of the fleet of transports and merchantmen which, trim and in good
order, had lain in the bay the afternoon before, some half-dozen only
had weathered the hurricane. The "City of London" alone had succeeded
in steaming out to sea when the gale began. The "Jason" and a few
others had ridden to their anchors through the night. The rest of the
fleet had been destroyed, victims to the incompetence and
pig-headedness of the naval officer in charge of the harbor. That
there was ample room for all within it, was proved by the fact that,
later on, a far larger number of ships than that which was present on
the day of the gale lay comfortably within it.

The largest ship lost was the "Prince," with whom nearly 300 men went
down. Even inside the harbor vessels dragged their anchors and drifted
ashore, so terrible was the gale, which, indeed, was declared by old
sailors and by the inhabitants of the town to be the most violent that
they ever experienced. Enormous quantities of stores of all kinds,
which would have been of immense service to the troops in the winter,
were lost in the gale, and even in the camps on shore the destruction
was very great.



"That arm of yours always seems to be getting itself damaged, Jack,"
Hawtry said next morning, as he came into the hut. "You put it in the
way of a bullet last time, and now you've got it smashed up. How do
you feel altogether?"

"I am awfully bruised, Dick, black and blue all over, and so stiff I
can hardly move."

"That's just my case," Dick said, "though, as you see, I can move. The
doctor's been feeling me all over this morning, and he said it was
lucky I was a boy and my bones were soft, for if I had been a man, I
should have been smashed up all over. As to my elbows and my knees,
and all the projecting parts of me, I haven't got a bit of skin on
them, and my uniform is cut absolutely to ribbons. However, old boy,
we did a good night's work. We saved sixteen lives, we got no end of
credit, and the chief says he shall send a report in to the Admiral;
so we shall be mentioned in despatches, and it will help us for
promotion when we have passed. The bay is a wonderful sight. The
shores are strewn with floating timber, bales of stores, compressed
hay, and all sorts of things. Fellows who have been down to the town
told me that lots of the houses have been damaged, roofs blown away,
and those gingerbread-looking balconies smashed off. As for the camps,
even with a glass there is not a single tent to be seen standing on
the plateau. The gale has made a clean sweep of them. What a night the
soldiers must have had! I am put on the sick list for a few days so I
shall be able to be with you. That's good news, isn't it?"

"Wonderfully good," Jack laughed, "as if I haven't enough of your jaw
at other times. And how long do you suppose I shall be before I am

"Not for some little time, Jack. The doctor says you've got four ribs
broken as well as your arm."

"Have I?" Jack said, surprised. "I know he hurt me preciously while he
was feeling me about this morning; but he didn't say anything about
broken ribs."

A broken rib is a much less serious business than a broken arm, and in
ten days Jack was up and about again, feeling generally stiff and
sore, and with his arm in a sling. The surgeon had talked of sending
him on board ship, but Jack begged so hard for leave to remain with
the party ashore, that his request was granted.

Winter had now set in in earnest. The weather was cold and wet;
sometimes it cleared up overhead, and the country was covered with
snow. A month after the accident, Jack was fit for duty again. Seeing
what chums the lads were, the officer in command had placed them in
the same watch, for here on land the same routine was observed as on
board ship. The duties were not severe. The guns were kept bright and
polished, the arms and accoutrements were as clean as if at sea. Each
day the tars went through a certain amount of drill, and fatigue
parties went daily down to the harbor to bring up stores, but beyond
this there was little to do. One of the occupations of the men was
chopping wood for fuel. The sides of the ravine immediately below the
battery had long since been cleared of their brushwood, and each day
the parties in search of fuel had to go farther away. Upon the day
after Jack returned to duty, he and Hawtry were told off with a party
of seamen to go down to cut firewood. Each man carried his rifle in
addition to his chopper, for, although they had never been disturbed
at this occupation, the Russians were known not to be far away. The
sailors were soon at work hacking down the undergrowth and lopping off
branches of trees. Some were making them up into faggots as fast as
the others cut them, and all were laughing and jesting at their work.

Suddenly there was a shout, and looking up, they saw that a party of
Russians had made their way noiselessly over the snowclad ground, and
were actually between them and the heights. At the same moment a
volley of musketry was poured in from the other side, and three or
four men fell.

"Form up, form up," Hawtry shouted. "Well together, lads. We must make
a rush at those beggars ahead. Don't fire till I tell you, then give
them a volley and go at them with the butt-end of your muskets, then
let every one who gets through make a bolt for it."

The sailors, some twenty strong, threw themselves together, and,
headed by the midshipmen, made a rush at the Russians. These opened
fire upon them, and several dropped, but the remainder went on at the
double until within twenty yards of the enemy, when pouring in a
volley and clubbing their muskets, they rushed upon them.

For a moment there was a sharp _mélée_; several of the sailors were
shot or bayoneted, but the rest, using the butt-ends of their muskets
with tremendous execution, fought their way through their opponents.
Jack had shot down two men with his revolver, and having got through,
was taking his place at the rear of the men--the proper place for an
officer in retreat?--when he saw Hawtry fall. A Russian ran up to
bayonet him as he lay, when Jack, running back, shot him through the
head. In a moment he was surrounded, and while in the act of shooting
down an assailant in front, he was struck on the back of the head with
the butt of a musket, and fell stunned across the body of his friend.
When he recovered consciousness, he found that he was being carried
along by four Russians. He could hear the boom of cannon and the
rattle of musketry, and knew that the defenders on the heights were
angrily firing at the retreating party, who had so successfully
surprised them. As soon as his bearers perceived that Jack had opened
his eyes, they let him drop, hauled him to his feet, and then holding
him by his collar, made him run along with them.

When they had mounted the other side of the slope, and were out of
fire of the guns, the party halted, and Jack, hearing his own name
called, looked round, and saw Hawtry in the snow, where his captors
had dropped him.

"Hullo, Dick! old fellow," Jack shouted joyfully; "so there you are. I
was afraid they had killed you."

"I'm worth a lot of dead men yet, Jack. I've been hit in the leg, and
went down, worse luck, and that rascally Russian would have skewered
me if you hadn't shot him. You saved my life, old fellow, and made a
good fight for me and I shall never forget it; but it has cost you
your liberty."

"That's no great odds," Jack said. "It can't be much worse stopping a
few months in a Russian prison, than spending the winter upon the
heights. Besides, with two of us together, we shall be as right as
possible, and maybe, when your leg gets all right again, we'll manage
to give them the slip."

The Russian officer in command of the party, which was about 200
strong, now made signs to the boys that they were to proceed.

Dick pointed to his leg, and the officer examined the wound. It was a
slight one, the ball having passed through the calf, missing the bone.

He was, however, unable to walk. A litter was formed of two muskets
with a great-coat laid between them, and Dick, being seated on this,
was taken up by four men, and Jack taking his place beside him, the
procession started. They halted some four miles off at a village in a
valley beyond the Tchernaya.

The next day the boys were placed on ponies, and, under the escort of
an officer and six troopers, conducted to Sebastopol. Here they were
taken before a Russian general who, by means of an interpreter,
closely examined them as to the force, condition, and position of the

The lads, however, evaded all questions by stating that they belonged
to the fleet, and were only on duty on the heights above Balaklava,
and were in entire ignorance of the force of the army and the
intentions of its general. As to the fleet, they could tell nothing
which the Russians did not already know.

The examination over, they were conducted to one of the casemates of
Fort St. Nicholas. Here for a fortnight they remained, seeing no one
except the soldier who brought them their food. The casemate was some
thirty feet long by eighteen wide, and a sixty-eight-pounder stood
looking out seaward. There the boys could occasionally see the ships
of war of the allies as they cruised to and fro.

It was very cold, for the opening was of course unglazed. They had
each a heap of straw and two blankets, and these in the daytime they
used as shawls, for they had no fire, and it was freezing sharply.

Dick's leg had been examined and dressed by a surgeon upon his first
arrival; but as the wound was not serious, and the surgeons were
worked night and day with the enormous number of wounded at Inkerman,
and in the various sorties, with which the town was crowded, he did
not again come near his patient. The wound, however, healed rapidly.

As Jack remarked, the scanty rations of black bread and tough
meat--the latter the produce of some of the innumerable bullocks which
arrived at Sebastopol with convoys, too exhausted and broken down for
further service--were not calculated to cause any feverish excitement
to the blood, nor, had it been so, would the temperature have
permitted the fever to rise to any undue height.

Their guards were kind to them so far as was in their power, and upon
their using the word "tobacco," and making signs that they wanted to
smoke, furnished them with pipes and with tobacco, which, although
much lighter and very different in quality from that supplied on board
ship, was yet very smokable, and much mitigated the dulness from which
the boys suffered. A few days after their captivity the boys heard the
church bells of Sebastopol ringing merrily.

"I wonder what all this is about?" Dick said; "not for a victory, I'll
be bound."

"Why, bless me," Jack exclaimed, "if it isn't Christmas day, and we
had forgotten all about it! Now, that is hard, monstrously hard. The
fellows on the heights will just be enjoying themselves to-day. I know
they were talking about getting some currants and raisins from on
board ship, and there will be plum-duff and all sorts of things. I
wonder how they're all getting on at home? They're sure to be thinking
often enough of us, but it will never enter their minds that here we
are cooped up in this beastly hole."

The day, however, did not pass unnoticed, for a Russian officer who
spoke English called upon them, and said that he came at the request
of the governor himself to express to them his regret that their
quarters were so uncomfortable and their fare so bad. "But," he said,
"we cannot help ourselves. Every barrack in the town is crowded; every
hospital, every private house even, filled with wounded. We have fifty
or sixty thousand troops, and near twenty thousand sick and wounded.
Your people are very good not to fire at the town, for if they did, I
do not know what the poor fellows would do. For to-day the governor
has sent you down a dinner from his own table, together with a few
bottles of wine and spirits--and what you will not prize less, for I
see you smoke, a box of cigars. It is very cold here. I will see that
you have some more blankets."

Two soldiers came in with baskets, the one with tin-covered dishes,
the other with wines. These were set out on the ground, and the boys,
after sending a message expressing their cordial thanks to the general
for his thoughtfulness, sat down, when alone, in the highest spirits
to their unexpected feast.

"This is a glorious spread, Jack. I wonder what all these dishes are?
I don't recognize any of them. However, this is soup, there is no
doubt about that, so let's fall to on that to begin with. But first of
all, get out the cork of one of those champagne bottles. Now fill up
your tin, Jack, and let's drink 'God bless all at home, and a merry
Christmas to them.' We'll have our other toasts after dinner. I
couldn't begin till we drank that. Now set to."

The dishes were not as cold as might have been expected, for each had
been enveloped in flannel before placing it in the basket. The soup
was pronounced excellent, and the unknown meats, prime--better than
anything they had tasted since they left England. There were sweets,
too, which they made a clean sweep of. Then they called their guard,
to whom they gave the remains of their dinner, together with a strong
pannikin of water and spirits, to his extreme delight.

Then, making themselves snug in the straw, wrapping themselves well
in their blankets, fencing in their candle, so that it was sheltered
from the draughts, they opened a bottle of brandy, drank a variety of
toasts, not forgetting the health of the governor, who they agreed
was a brick, they sang a song or two, then blew out the light, and,
thoroughly warm and comfortable, were asleep in a minute or two.

A few days later, an officer came in, signed to them to make their
blankets into a bundle, and to follow him.

The boys slipped four bottles of spirits which they had still
remaining, and also the stock of cigars, into the rolls. Then,
holding the bundles on their shoulders, they followed him.

Dick, although still weak on his legs, was now able to walk.

Presently they came to a large party of men, some of whom had their
arms in slings, some were bandaged on the head, some lay in stretchers
on the ground.

"It is a convoy of wounded," Jack said. "I suppose we're going to be
taken into the interior."

An officer, evidently in charge, saluted the boys as they came up, and
said something in Russian.

They returned the salute. He was a pleasant-looking fellow with
light-blue eyes, and yellowish moustache and beard. He looked at them,
and then gave orders to a soldier, who entered the building, and
returned with two peasants' cloaks lined with sheep-skin, similar to
the one he himself wore.

These were handed to them, and the midshipmen expressed their warmest
gratitude to him; their meaning, if not their words, being clearly

"These are splendid," Jack said. "They've got hoods too, to go over
the head. This is something like comfort. I wish our poor fellows up
above there had each got one. It must be awful up on the plateau now.
Fancy twelve hours in the trenches, and then twelve hours in the
tents, with no fires, and nothing but those thin great-coats, and
scarcely anything to eat. Now there's a move."

A strong party of soldiers came down, lifted the stretchers, and in a
few minutes the whole convoy were at the water's edge. Other similar
parties were already there, and alongside were a number of flat
barges. Upon these the invalids walked, or were carried, and the
barges were then taken in tow by ships' boats, and rowed across the
harbor to the north side.

"I hope to goodness," Jack said, looking up at the heights behind
them, along which the lines of entrenchments were clearly visible
against the white snow, "that our fellows won't take it into their
heads to have a shot at us. From our battery we often amused ourselves
by sending a shell from one of the big Lancaster guns down at the
ships in the harbor. But I never dreamed that I was likely to be a
cockshy myself."

The usual duel was going on between the batteries, and the puffs of
white smoke rose from the dark line of trenches and drifted up
unbroken across the deep blue of the still wintry sky.

But happily the passage of the flotilla of boats attracted no
attention, and they soon arrived at the shore close to the work known
as Battery No. 4.

Here they were landed. Those who could not walk were lifted into
carts, of which some hundreds stood ranged alongside. The rest fell in
on foot, and the procession started. The boys, to their satisfaction,
found that the officer who had given them the coats was in charge of a
portion of the train, and as they started he stopped to speak a word
or two to them, to which they replied in the most intelligible manner
they could by offering him a cigar, which a flash of pleasure in his
face at once showed to be a welcome present.

It took some time to get the long convoy in motion, for it consisted
of some 700 or 800 carts and about 5,000 sick and wounded, of whom
fully three-fourths were unable to walk. It mounted to the plateau
north of the harbor, wound along near the great north fort, and then
across undulating land parallel with the sea. They stopped for the
night on the Katcha, where the allied army had turned off for their
flank march to the southern side.

The boys during the march were allowed to walk as they liked, but two
soldiers with loaded muskets kept near them. They discussed the
chances of trying to make their escape, but agreed that although they
might be able to slip away from the convoy, the probability of their
making their way through the Russian troops to their own lines at
Balaklava or Sebastopol was so slight that the attempt would be almost
madness. Their figures would be everywhere conspicuous on the snow,
their footsteps, could be followed, they had no food, and were
ignorant of the language and country. Altogether they determined to
abandon any idea of escaping for the present.

There were but a dozen soldiers with the convoy, the officers being
medical men in charge of the wounded. A halt was made in a sheltered
spot near the river, and close to the village of Mamaschia, which was
entirely deserted by its inhabitants.

The worst cases of sickness were carried into the houses, and the rest
prepared to make themselves as comfortable as they could in or under
the wagons. Stores of forage were piled by the village for the use of
the convoys going up and down, and the drivers speedily spread a
portion of this before their beasts.

The guard and such men as were able to get about went off among the
orchards that surrounded the village, to cut fuel. The boys' special
guard remained by them. When the doctor whom they regarded as their
friend came up to them, he brought with him another officer as
interpreter, who said in broken French,--

"Voulez-vous donner votre parole pas essayez echapper?"

Jack was as ignorant of French as of Russian, but Dick knew a little.
He turned to Jack and translated the question.

"Tell him we will give our words not to try and escape during the
march, or till we tell him to the contrary." This was almost beyond

"Nous donnons notre parole pour le présent," he said, "pour la marche,
vous comprenez. Si nous changons notre--I wonder what mind is," he
grumbled to himself--"intention, nous vous dirons."

This was intelligible, although not good French, and their friend,
having shaken hands with them as if to seal the bargain, told the
soldiers that they need no longer keep a watch on the prisoners, and
then beckoned them to accompany him. The boys had, at starting, placed
their bundles upon a cart to which they had kept close during the
march. Putting these on their shoulders, they accompanied their friend
to a cart which was drawn up three or four feet from the wall of a
house. They set to work at once, and with the aid of some sticks and
blankets, of which there was a good supply in the wagon, made a roof
covering the space between it and the house, hung others at the end
and side, and had soon a snug tent erected.

One of the soldiers brought a large truss of straw, and another a
bundle of firewood. The blanket at the end of the tent sheltered from
the wind, was drawn aside, and a great fire speedily blazed up at the
entrance. The straw was shaken out to form a soft seat, just inside
the tent. All three produced their pipes and lit them, while the
doctor's servant prepared over the fire a sort of soup with the
rations. This turned out to be by no means bad, and when after it the
boys produced one of their bottles of brandy and three cigars, the
Russian doctor patted them on the back, and evidently told them that
they were first-rate fellows.

For half-an-hour he smoked his cigar and sipped his tin of brandy and
water, then, explaining by signs that he must go and look after his
wounded, left them.

The boys chatted for another half-hour, and then stowing their brandy
carefully away, they shook up the straw into a big bed, and, wrapping
themselves in their sheepskins, were soon soundly asleep; but it was
long after midnight before the doctor returned from his heavy work of
dressing wounds and administering medicine, and stretched himself on
the straw beside them.



Day after day the convoy made its way northward without any incident
of importance happening. The midshipmen were glad to find that,
thanks to their sheepskin cloaks and pointed hoods, they passed
through the towns without attracting any attention whatever.

The convoy lessened in length as it proceeded. The animals broke down
in great numbers and died by the road, under the task of dragging the
heavy wagons through the deep snow.

At a town of some size, where they halted for two days, relief was
afforded by the wheels being taken off the wagons, and rough runners
affixed, the wheels being placed on the carts, as that they could be
put on again in case of a thaw.

Famine, however, did more that fatigue in destroying the animals; for
although good exertions had been made to form depots of forage along
the roads, these were exhausted faster than they could be collected by
the enormous trains, which, laden with provisions and warlike stores,
were making their way to Sebastopol from the interior of Russia. There
was no lack of food for the men, for ample stores of black bread were
carried, and a supply of meat was always obtainable at the end of the
day's journey by the carcase of some bullock which had fallen and then
been shot during the day's march.

But though the train diminished in length, its occupants diminished
even more rapidly. Every morning, before starting, a burying party
were busy interring the bodies of those who had died during the
previous day's march or in the night.

When the halt was made at a village, the papa or priest of the place
performed a funeral mass; when, as was more common, they encamped in
the open, the grave was filled in, a rough cross was erected over it,
and the convoy proceeded on its march.

The midshipmen found the journey dreary and uninteresting in the

After  leaving the Crimea the country became a dead flat; which,
though bright in summer, with a wide expanse of waving grain, was
inexpressibly mournful and monotonous as it lay under its wide
covering of snow. Here and there, far across the plain, could be seen
the low, flat-roofed huts of a Russian village, or the massively-built
abode of some rich landed proprietor.

Scarce a tree broke the monotony of the wide plain, and the creaking
of the carts and the shouts of the drivers seemed strangely loud as
they rose in the dense silence of the plain.

From the first day of starting, the midshipmen set themselves to learn
something of the language. The idea was Jack's and he pointed out to
Hawtry, who was rather disinclined to take the trouble, that it would
in the first place give them something to think about, and be an
amusement on the line of march; in the second, it would render their
captivity less dull, and, lastly, it would facilitate their escape if
they should determine to make the attempt.

As they walked, therefore, alongside their friend the doctor, they
asked him the names of every object around them, and soon learned the
Russian words for all common objects. The verbs were more difficult,
but thanks occasionally to the doctor (who spoke French) joining them
at their encampment at night, they soon learned the sentences most
commonly in use.

As they had nothing else to do or to think about, their progress was
rapid, and by the end of a month they were able to make themselves
understood in conversations upon simple matters.

They had been much disappointed, when, upon leaving the Crimea, the
convoy had kept on north instead of turning west; for they had hoped
that Odessa would have been their place of captivity.

It was a large and flourishing town, with a considerable foreign
population, and, being on the sea, might have offered them
opportunities for escape. The Russians, however, had fears that the
allied fleets might make an attack upon the place, and for this
reason, such few prisoners as fell into their hands were sent inland.

The journeys each day averaged from twelve to fifteen miles, twelve,
however, being the more ordinary distance. The sky was generally clear
and bright, for when the morning was rough and the snow fell, the
convoy remained in its halting-place.

The cold was by no means excessive during the day, and although the
snow was deep and heavy, there was no difficulty in keeping up with
the convoy, as the pace of the bullocks was little over a mile and a
half an hour. At night they were snug enough, for the doctor had
adapted an empty wagon as their sleeping-place, and this, with a deep
bed of straw at the bottom, blankets hung at the sides and others laid
over the top, constituted as comfortable a shelter as could be

At last, after a month's travelling, the doctor pointed to a town
rising over the plain, and signified that this was their

It was a town of some seven or eight thousand inhabitants, and the
mosque-like domes of the churches shining, brightly in the sun, and
the green-painted roofs and bright colors of many of the houses, gave
it a gay and cheerful appearance.

The convoy made its way through the streets to large barracks, now
converted into a hospital. When the sick had been taken into the
wards, the doctor proceeded with the midshipmen to the residence of
the governor.

The boys had laid aside the sheepskin cloaks which had proved so
invaluable during their journey, and as they walked through the
streets, in their midshipman's uniform, attracted a good deal of

They were at once shown in to the governor, an officer of some
five-and-thirty years old, with a fierce and disagreeable expression
of countenance. He was a member of a high Russian family; but as a
punishment for various breaches of discipline, arising from his
quarrelsome disposition and misconduct, he had been appointed governor
to this little town, instead of going with his regiment to the front.

Saluting him, the doctor delivered to him an order for the safe
guardianship of the two English officers.

"Ah," he said, as he perused the document, and glanced at the
midshipmen, "if these are British officers, I can scarcely understand
the trouble they are giving us. They are mere boys. I thought their
uniform was red. The soldiers who were brought here a month ago were
all in red."

"These are young naval officers," the doctor said. "I understand that
some of the sailors are serving on shore, and these were captured, I
am told, when out with a party of their men cutting fuel."

"A wonderful capture, truly," the governor said sneeringly. "Two boys
scarce out of the nursery."

"It cost us some men," the doctor said calmly, "for I hear from the
officer who brought them in that we lost altogether fifteen men, and
the sailors would all have got away had it not been that one of these
young officers was shot in the leg and the other stood by him, and
shot several men with his revolver before he was captured."

"A perfect St. George," the commandant sneered. "Well, sir, your duty
is done, and I will see to them. Are they on parole?"

"They gave me their parole not to try to escape during the journey,
and have expressed their willingness to renew it."

"It matters little one way or the other," the governor said. "Unless
they could fly, they could not make their way through the country.
There, sir, that will do."

The doctor bowed, shook hands with the boys, and without a word went
out, touching his lips with his fingers to them as he turned his back
to the governor, a movement which the lads understood at once as a
hint that it would be as well to say nothing which might show that
they had any knowledge of Russian.

The governor rang a hand-bell, and a sergeant entered. The governor
wrote a few words on a piece of paper.

"Take these prisoners to Count Preskoff's," he said, "and deliver this
order to him."

The sergeant motioned the lads to follow him. With a bow to the
governor, which he passed unacknowledged, they followed the soldier.

"A disagreeable brute, that," Jack said. "A little work in the
trenches would do him good, and take some of his cockiness out of him.
That was a good idea of the doctor, not saying good-bye in Russian. I
don't suppose we shall run against that fellow again, but it we did,
he might make it so disagreeable that we might be driven to show him a
clean pair of heels."

"He didn't ask for our parole," Dick said, "so we shall be justified
in making a bolt if we see a chance."

Passing through the streets the sergeant led them through the town and
out into the country beyond.

"Where on earth is he taking us to?" Jack wondered. "I would bet that
he has quartered us on this Count Preskoff from pure spite. I wonder
what sort of chap he is."

After half an hour's walking they approached a large chateau,
surrounded by smaller buildings.

"He's a swell evidently," Dick said. "We ought to have comfortable
quarters here."

They entered a large courtyard, across one side of which stood the
house; and the sergeant, proceeding to the main entrance, rang the
bell. It was opened by a tall man dressed in full Russian costume.

"I have a message for the count from the commandant," the sergeant

"The count is absent," the servant answered; "but the countess is in."

"I will speak to her."

Leaving them standing in the hall, the man ascended a wide staircase,
and in a minute or two returned and motioned to the sergeant to follow

They ascended the stairs and entered a large and handsome room, in
which sat a lady of some forty years old, with three younger ones of
from sixteen to twenty years old.

Countess Preskoff was a very handsome woman, and her daughters had
inherited her beauty.

The sergeant advanced and handed to her the order. She glanced at it,
and an expression of displeasure passed across her face.

"The commandant's orders shall be obeyed," she said coldly; and the
sergeant, saluting, retired.

The countess turned to her daughters.

"The commandant has quartered two prisoners, English officers, upon
us," she said. "Of course he has done it to annoy us. I suppose these
are they." And she rose and approached the lads, who were standing by
the door. "Why, they are boys," she said in surprise, "and will do for
playfellows for you, Olga. Poor little fellows, how cruel to send such
boys to fight!"

Then she came up to the boys and bade them welcome with an air of
kindness which they both felt.

"Katinka," she said, turning to her eldest daughter, "you speak
French, and perhaps they do also. Assure them that we will do our best
to make them comfortable. Come here, my dears."

Then she formally, pointing to each of them, uttered their names,--

"Katinka, Paulina, Olga."

Dick, in reply, pointed to his companion,--

"Jack Archer,"--and to himself--"Dick Hawtry."

The girls smiled, and held out their hands.

"Mamma says," the eldest said in French, "that she is glad to see you,
and will do all in her power to make you comfortable."

"You're very good," Dick said. "I can speak very little French, and
cannot understand it at all unless you speak quite slow. I wish now I
hadn't been so lazy at school. But we both speak a few words of
Russian, and I hope that we shall soon be able to talk to you in your
own language."

Bad as Dick's French was, the girls understood it, and an animated
conversation in a mixed jargon of French and Russian began. The girls
inquired how they had come there, and how they had been taken, and
upon hearing they had been in Sebastopol, inquired more anxiously as
to the real state of things there, for the official bulletins were
always announcing victories, and they could not understand how it was
that the allies, although always beaten, were still in front of
Sebastopol, when such huge numbers of troops had gone south to carry
out the Czar's orders, to drive them into the sea.

The lads' combined knowledge of French and Russian proved quite
insufficient to satisfy their curiosity, but there was so much
laughing over their wonderful blunders and difficulty in finding words
to explain themselves, that at the end of half an hour the boys were
perfectly at home with their hostesses.

"You will like to see your rooms," the countess said; and touching a
hand-bell, she gave some orders to a servant who, bowing, led the way
along a corridor and showed the boys two handsomely-furnished rooms
opening out of each other, and then left them, returning in a minute
or two with hot water and towels.

"We're in clover here," Jack said, "and no mistake. The captain's
state cabin is a den by the side of our quarters; and ain't they jolly

"And pretty, too, I believe you; and the countess, too. I call her a
stunner!" he exclaimed enthusiastically; "as stately as a queen, but
as friendly and kind as possible. I don't think we ought to go to war
with people like this."

"Oh, nonsense!" Jack said. "We've seen thousands of Russians now, and
don't think much of them; and 'tisn't likely we're going to let Russia
gobble up Turkey just because there's a nice countess with three jolly
daughters living here."

Dick laughed.

"No, I suppose not," he said. "But, Jack, what on earth are we going
to do about clothes? These uniforms are getting seedy, though it is
lucky that we had on our best when we were caught, owing to our having
had the others torn to pieces the night of the wreck. But as for other
things, we have got nothing but what we have on. We washed our flannel
shirts and stockings as well as we could whenever we halted, but we
can't well do that here; and as for money, we haven't a ha'penny
between us. It's awful, you know."

At this moment there was a knock at the door, and the servant entered,
bringing in a quantity of linen and underclothing of all kinds, which
he laid down on the bed with the words,--

"With the countess's compliments."

"Hurrah!" shouted Dick. "The countess is a brick. This is something
like. Now for a big wash, Jack, and a clean white shirt. We shan't
know ourselves. Here is a brush, too. We shall be able to make our
uniforms presentable."

It was nearly an hour before the boys again joined the ladies,
looking, it must be owned, a great deal more like British officers and
gentlemen than when they left the room. They were both good-looking
lads, and the Russian girls were struck with their bright and cheerful

Dick hastened to express their warm thanks to the countess for the
welcome supply of clothes, and said that Jack and himself were ashamed
indeed at not only trespassing on their hospitality, but being obliged
to rely upon their wardrobe.

As Dick had carefully thought out this little speech, translated it
into French, and said it over half-a-dozen times, he was able to make
himself understood, utterly defective as were his grammar and

Katinka explained that the clothes had belonged to her brother, who
was now a lieutenant in a regiment stationed in Poland, and that they
had long been outgrown; he being now, as she signified by holding up
her hand, over six feet in height.

A quarter of an hour later the dinner was announced, and the countess
in a stately way took Dick's arm, and Jack, not without blushing,
offered his to the eldest of the girls. The dinner was, in the boys'
eyes, magnificent. Several domestics stood behind the chairs and
anticipated their wants. The girls continued their Russian lessons by
telling them the names of everything on the table, and making them
repeat them after them, and there was so much laughter and merriment,
that long as the meal was, it was by no means formal or ceremonious.
They learnt that the Count Preskoff was absent at some estates in the
north of Russia, and that he was not likely to return for some little

After dinner Dick asked Katinka to tell the countess that they did not
wish to be troublesome, and that they would be out and about the
place, and would not intrude upon them except when they wished to have
them. The countess replied through her daughter that they would be
always glad to have them in the room.

"You will really be a great amusement to us. We were very dull before,
and instead of being a trouble, as Count Smerskoff no doubt intended
when he quartered you upon us, you will make a very pleasant break. It
is dreadfully dull here now," she said. "There is no longer any
gayety, many of our neighbors are away, and nobody talks of anything
but that horrid war. Count Smerskoff is almost the only person we see,
and," and she shrugged her pretty shoulders, "he's worse than nothing.
And now, mamma says, would you like to ride or to go out in a sledge?
If you would like some shooting, there is plenty in the neighborhood.
But of course for that you will want a whole day, and it must be
arranged beforehand. I wish my brother Orloff had been at home. He
could have looked after you nicely."

Delighted at the prospect, the boys said that they should like a
drive, and a few minutes later, descending to the courtyard, they
found a sledge with three horses at the door.

"What a stunning turn-out!" Jack exclaimed, delighted. "We shall fancy
we are princes, Dick, and get spoiled altogether for a midshipman's

The sledge was of graceful form, painted deep blue. The seats were
covered with furs, while an apron of silver fox-skin was wrapped round
their legs. The driver sat perched up on a high seat in front. He was
a tall, stately figure, with an immense beard. On his head was the cap
of black sheep-skin, which may be considered the national head-dress.
He wore a long fur-lined coat of dark blue, fitting somewhat tightly,
and reaching to his ankles. It was bound by a scarlet sash round his
waist. It had a great fur collar and cuffs. His feet were encased in
untanned leather boots, reaching above the knees.

The horses were harnessed in a manner quite different to anything the
lads had before seen. They were three abreast; the middle one was in
shafts, those on either side ran free in traces, and by dint, as the
boys supposed, of long training, each carried his head curved round
outwards, so that he seemed to be looking half-backwards, giving them
a most peculiar effect, exactly similar to that which may be seen in
ancient Greek bas-reliefs, and sculptures of horses in ancient
chariots. This mode of harnessing and training the horses is
peculiarly Russian, and is rigidly adhered to by all the old Russian
families. Over each horse was a blue netting reaching almost to the
ground, its object being to prevent snow or dirt being thrown up in
the faces of those sitting in the low sledge.

Cracking his whip with a report as loud as that of a pistol, the
driver set the horses in motion, and in a minute the sledge was
darting across the plain at a tremendous pace; the centre horse
trotting, the flankers going at a canter, each keeping the leg next to
the horse in the shafts in front. The light snow rose in a cloud from
the runners as the sledge darted along, and as the wind blew keenly in
their faces, and their spirits rose, the boys declared to each other
that sledging was the most glorious fun they had ever had.

They had been furnished with fur-lined coats, whose turned-up collars
reached far above their ears, and both felt as warm as toast, in spite
of the fact that the thermometer was down at zero.

The country here differed in its appearance from that over which they
had been travelling, and great forests extended to within two or three
miles of the town.

"I suppose," Dick said, "that's where the shooting is, for I can't
fancy any birds being fools enough to stop out on these plains, and if
they did, there would be no chance of getting a shot at them. How
pretty those sledge-bells are, to be sure! I wonder they don't have
them in England."

"I've seen wagons down in the country with them," Jack said, "and very
pretty the bells sounded on a still night. But the bells were not so
clear-toned as these."

From one shaft to another, in a bow, high over the horses' necks,
extended an arch of light wood, and from this hung a score of little
bells, which tinkled merrily as the sledge glided along.

"It's a delicious motion," Jack said; "no bumping or jolting, and yet,
even when one shuts one's eyes, he feels that he is going at a
tremendous pace."

The boys were amused at the driver, who frequently cracked his whip,
but never touched the horses, to whom, however, he was constantly
talking, addressing them in encouraging tones, which, as Jack said,
they seemed to understand just like Christians.

After an hour-and-a-half's drive, in which they must have traversed
some eighteen miles, they returned to the chateau. The servant at the
door relieved them of their warm cloaks and of the loose, fur-lined
boots, with which they had also been furnished, and then, evidently in
accordance with orders, conducted them upstairs to the room where the
countess and two of her daughters were working, while the third was
reading aloud. It was already getting dusk, and lighted lamps burned
on the tables, and the room, heated by a great stove in the corner,
felt pleasantly warm and comfortable.



The evening passed pleasantly. There was some music, and the three
girls and their mother sang together, and Jack (who had learnt
part-singing at home, for his family were very musical, and every
night were accustomed to sing glees and catches) also, at their
request, joined in, taking the part which their brother, when at home,
had been accustomed to fill.

In the course of the evening the boys explained that they had said
nothing to the commandant about their having picked up a little
Russian, as they had thought that it was better to allow him to remain
in ignorance of it, as they had had some idea of making their escape.

"Why, you foolish boys," Paulina said, "where would you escape to?
However, perhaps it is as well that you said nothing about it, for he
only sent you here because he thought it would annoy mamma; and if he
had thought you had known any Russian, he might have lodged you
somewhere else."

"We don't want to escape now, you know," Jack said in his broken
Russian. "We are much more comfortable here than we should be in the
cold before Sebastopol."

The next few days passed pleasantly; sometimes the countess was not
present, and then the girls would devote themselves to improving the
boys' Russian.

Sometimes two sledges would come to the door, and two of the girls
accompanied the boys on their drive. On the fourth evening, Count
Smerskoff called, and a cloud fell upon the atmosphere.

The countess received him ceremoniously, and maintained the
conversation in frigid tones. The girls scarcely opened their lips,
and the midshipmen sat apart, as silent as if they understood no word
of what was passing.

"I am sorry, countess," the commandant said, "that I was obliged to
quarter these two English boys upon you, but every house in the town
is full of sick and wounded; and as they were given over to me as
officers, though they look to me more like ship-boys, I could not put
them in prison with the twenty or thirty soldiers whom we captured at
the victory on the heights above Inkerman."

"It is my duty to receive them," the countess said very coldly, "and
it therefore matters little whether it is pleasant or otherwise.
Fortunately one of them speaks a few words of French, and my daughters
can therefore communicate with them. So you have twenty or thirty
English prisoners in the jail? Where are all the rest; for, of course,
in such a great victory, we must have taken, some thousands of

The count glanced angrily at her.

"They have, no doubt, been sent to Odessa and other places," he said.
"You do not doubt, countess, surely, that a great victory was gained
by the soldiers of his Majesty?"

"Doubt," the countess said, in a tone of slight surprise. "Have I not
read the official bulletins describing the victory? Only we poor
women, of course, are altogether ignorant of war, and cannot
understand how it is that, when they are always beaten, these enemies
of the Czar are still in front of Sebastopol."

"It may be," said the count, "that the Archdukes are only waiting
until all the reinforcements arrive to drive them into the sea, or
capture them to the last man."

"No doubt it is that," said the countess blandly, "but from the number
of sick and wounded who arrive here, to say nothing of those taken to
Odessa and the other towns among which, as you say, the prisoners are
distributed, it is to be wished that the reinforcements may soon be
up, so as to bring the fighting to an end."

"The enemy are suffering much more than we are," the governor said,
"and before the spring comes we may find that there are none left to
conquer. If the soldiers of the Czar, accustomed to the climate as
they are, feel the cold, although they have warm barracks to sleep in,
what must be the case with the enemy on the bleak heights? I hear that
the English newspapers are full of accounts of the terrible sufferings
of their troops. They are dying like sheep."

"Poor creatures!" the countess said gravely. "They are our
fellow-beings, you know, Count Smerskoff, although they are our
enemies, and one cannot but feel some pity for them."

"I feel no pity for the dogs," the count said fiercely. "How dare they
set foot on the soil of Holy Russia?"

"Hating them as you do," the countess said, "it must be annoying for
you indeed, count, to occupy even so exalted a position as that of
governor of this town, instead of fighting against the English and

The count muttered something between his teeth, which was certainly
not a blessing. Then turning to Katinka, he changed the subject by
asking her if she would favor him with some music.

Without a word, the girl seated herself at the piano and played. When
she had finished the piece, she began another without stopping, and
continued steadily for an hour. The countess leaned back in her chair,
as if she considered that conversation would be out of place while her
daughter was playing.

Count Smerskoff sat quietly for a quarter of an hour. Then he began to
fidget in his chair, but he stoically sat on until, when at the end of
an hour Katinka showed no signs whatever of leaving off, he rose, and
ceremoniously regretting that his duties prevented him from having the
pleasure of hearing the conclusion of the charming little piece which
the young countess was playing (for in Russia all children bear the
title of their parents) he took his leave.

When the door had closed behind him, and the sound of his footsteps
along the corridor ceased, the girls burst into a fit of laughter, in
which the midshipmen joined heartily.

"Well done, Katinka!" Olga said, clapping her hands. "That was a
splendid idea of yours, and you have routed the governor completely.
Oh, dear, how cross he did look, and how he fidgeted about as you
played on and on without stopping! I thought I must have laughed

"It was a clever thought," the countess said, "and yet the count
cannot complain of want of courtesy. He is a disagreeable man, and a
bad man; but he is powerfully connected, and it will not do to offend
him. We have enemies enough, heaven knows."

The boys at the time could not gather the drift of the conversation;
but a month later, when their knowledge of the language had greatly
increased, Olga, when driving in a sledge with Jack, enlightened him
as to the position in which they stood.

"Papa," she said, "is a Liberal, that is to say, he wants all sorts of
reform to be carried out. If he had his way, he would free the serfs
and would have the affairs of the nation managed by a parliament, as
you do in England, instead of by the will of the Czar only. I don't
pretend to know anything about it myself, but papa has perhaps
expressed his opinions too openly, and some enemy has carried them to
the ears of the Czar. Nicholas is, you know, though it is treason to
say so, very autocratic and absolute. Papa was never in favor, because
mamma was a Pole, but these terrible opinions finished it. Papa was
forbidden to appear at court, and ordered to live upon his estates,
and it is even possible," she said anxiously, "that this will not be
all. You don't know Russia, or how dreadful it is to be looked upon as
disaffected here. Papa is so good and kind! His serfs all love him so
much, and every one says that no estates in Russia are better managed.
But all this will avail nothing, and it is only because we have
powerful friends at court that worse things have not happened."

"Unless you are very fond of gayety and society," Jack said, "I don't
think it can matter much being sent away from St. Petersburg, when you
have such a nice place here."

"Oh, no," the girl said. "It would not matter at all, only, you see,
when any one gets into disgrace there is no saying what may happen. An
enemy misrepresents some speech, some evil report gets to the ears of
the Czar, and the next day papa might be on his way to Siberia," she
dropped her voice as she uttered the dreadful word, "and all his
estates confiscated."

"What?" said Jack indignantly, "without any trial, or anything? I
never heard such a shame."

The girl nodded.

"It is dreadful," she said, "and now, to make matters worse, that
odious Count Smerkoff wants to marry Katinka. She will be rich, as she
will inherit large estates in Poland. Of course, papa and mamma won't
consent, and Katinka hates him, but, you see, he has got lots of
powerful relations at court. If it hadn't been for that, I hear that
he would have been dismissed from the army long since; and, worst of
all, he is governor here, and can send to headquarters any lying
report he likes, and do papa dreadful harm."

Jack did not understand anything like all that Olga said, but he
gleaned enough to understand the drift of her conversation, and he and
Dick chatted over the matter very seriously that night.

Both agreed that something ought to be done. What that something was
to be, neither could offer the remotest suggestion. They were so happy
in the family now, were so kindly treated by the countess and her
daughters, that they felt their troubles to be their own, and they
would have done anything which could benefit them.

"We must think it over, Jack," Dick said, as he turned into bed. "It's
awful to think of all these nice people being at the mercy of a brute
like that. The idea of his wanting to marry the pretty Katinka! Why,
he's not good enough to black her boots. I wish we had him in the
midshipmen's berth on board the 'Falcon'; we would teach him a thing
or two."

The lads had not availed themselves of the offer of riding-horses, as
they were neither of them accustomed to the exercise, and did not like
the thought of looking ridiculous. But they had eagerly accepted the
offer to have some wolf-shooting.

One night, everything having been prepared, they took their seats in a
sledge drawn by two of the fastest horses in the stables of the
countess. A whole battery of guns was placed in the seat with them.
The sledge was larger than that which they were accustomed to use, and
held four, besides the driver. Two woodmen--experienced hunters--took
their places on the seat facing the midshipmen. A portion of the
carcase of a horse, which had broken its leg and been shot the
previous day, was fastened behind the sledge.

A drive of an hour took them far into the heart of the forest,
although the coachman drove much slower than usual, in order that the
horses might be perfectly fresh when required. Presently the woodmen
told the driver that they had gone far enough, and the sledge was
turned, the horses facing homeward. The great lump of meat was then
unfastened from behind the sledge, and a rope some forty yards long
attached to it, the other end being fastened to the sledge. The horses
were next moved forward until the rope was tight.

They were then stopped, rugs were laid across their backs to keep them
warm, and the party awaited the result.

The young moon was shining in the sky, and dark objects showed clearly
over the white snow for a considerable distance. Half an hour passed
without a word being spoken, and without a sound breaking the silence
that reigned in the forest. Presently a low whimpering was heard, and
the boys fancied that they could see dark forms moving among the
trees. The horses became restless and excited, and it was as much as
the man standing at their heads could do to quiet them.

The coachman sat looking back, whip in hand, ready for an instant

All at once a number of dark objects leaped from among the trees on to
the broad line of snow which marked the road.

"Jump in, Ivan!" the coachman exclaimed. "Here they come. Keep a sharp
look-out on both sides. We can leave those fellows behind standing
still. The only danger is from a fresh pack coming from ahead."

The peasant leaped into the car, and in an instant the horses dashed
off at a speed which would have taken them far away from the wolves
had not their driver reined them in and quieted them with his voice.

They soon steadied down into a long sweeping gallop, the coachman at
times looking back and regulating their speed so as to keep the bait
gliding along just ahead of the wolves.

The peasant now gave the signal to the midshipmen, who with their guns
cocked were standing up with one knee on the seat to steady
themselves, ready to fire, and the two barrels at once rang out.

One of the leading wolves, who was but a few yards from the bait,
dropped and rolled over, while a sharp whimpering cry told that
another was wounded.

The boys had an idea that the wolves would stop to devour their fallen
comrade, but the smell of the meat was, it appeared, more tempting,
for without a pause they still came on. Again and again the lads
fired, the woodmen handing them spare guns and loading as fast as they
discharged them.

Suddenly the driver gave an exclamation, and far ahead on the white
road, the boys, looking round, could see a dark mass. The peasant,
with a stroke of his knife, cut the rope which held the bait.

The coachman drove forward with increased speed for fifty yards or so,
and then suddenly drew up the horses. The peasants in an instant
leaped out, each with a rug in his hand, and running to the horses'
heads, at once blindfolded the animals by wrapping these around them.
Then the men jumped into the sledge again.

A hundred and fifty yards behind, their late pursuers, in a mass, were
growling, snarling, and fighting over the meat, but already many,
finding themselves unable to obtain a share, had set off in pursuit of
the prize ahead, which promised to be ample for all.

To these, however, the peasants paid no attention, but each taking a
double-barrel gun, poured heavy charges of shot in above the bullets.
Handing them to the boys, they performed the same operation to the
other two guns, which they intended this time to use themselves.

Standing on the seat, the men prepared to fire at the wolves directly
ahead, signing to the boys to lean over, one on each side, and
take those on the flanks of the horses. All this was done in a very
few seconds, as the sledge glided steadily along towards the
fast-approaching foes. When these came within fifty yards, the horses
were sent forward at full gallop. In another second or two the four
barrels of the woodmen poured their contents into the mass of wolves.
The boys waited until the horses were fairly among them, and then they

A hideous chorus of yells arose, and the horses at full speed dashed
in upon the pack. Already a lane had been prepared for them, and,
trampling over dead and dying, they rushed through. In spite of the
execution done by the heavy charges of the midshipmen's double-barrel
guns, several wolves tried to spring into the sledge as it went past,
and one of them succeeded in leaping upon one of the horses. The
animal made a wild plunge, but in an instant one of the woodmen sprang
to the ground, and buried his long knife in the beast; then, as the
sledge swept on again, he caught at the side and clambered into the
car before the wolves, who had already turned in pursuit, could come
up to him.

The guns were quickly loaded again, and another volley poured into the
wolves. Then the coachman, knowing that one of the horses was hurt,
and both nearly mad with fright, let them have their heads, and the
sledge darted away at a pace which soon left the wolves far in the
rear. So rapid was the motion indeed, that the boys held on to the
sides, expecting every moment that the sledge would be dashed against
the trees which lined the road. The coachman, however, kept the horses
straight, and, quieting them down, again brought them to a standstill,
when the cloths were taken off their heads, and the journey to the
chateau completed at a steady pace.

"That's sharp work," Jack said, when the wolves had been fairly left
in the rear. "They call that wolf-hunting. I call it being hunted by
wolves. These are fine fellows; they were as cool as cucumbers."

"I've nearly broken my shoulder," Dick grumbled, "The gun with those
tremendous charges kicked like a horse. Well, it's fine fun anyhow,
but its rather too risky to be often repeated. If two or three of
those fellows had got hold of the horses' heads, they would all have
been upon us, and very short work they would have made of us if they

"Ugh!" Jack said with a shudder. "What teeth they have! and what
mouths! It seemed like a sort of nightmare for a moment with those
great open mouths and shining teeth, as they leaped towards us, as we
rushed past. I hope I shan't dream about them."

"No fear of that," Dick said laughing. "The countess said that some
supper should be ready for us when we got back. I feel tremendously
peckish. After the night air, and plenty of hot tea and a good
tuck-in, we shall sleep without dreaming, I can venture to say."

The countess and her daughters had gone to bed long before the return
of the sportsmen. At breakfast next morning the boys attempted to
relate their adventures, but their vocabulary being wholly
insufficient, the coachman was sent for, and requested to give a full
account of the proceedings. This he did, and added on his own account
that the little lords had been as cool and collected as if they had
been wolf-hunting all their lives.

After breakfast, the letter-bag arrived, and the countess, having
opened her correspondence, said that her husband would return the next
day. Great as was the pleasure of the ladies, the boys hardly felt
enthusiastic over the news; they were so jolly as they were, that they
feared any change would be for the worse.

Next day the count arrived, and the boys soon felt that they had no
cause for apprehension. He greeted them with much cordiality, and told
them that he had heard from the countess that he had to thank them for
having made the time of his absence pass so cheerfully, and that she
had said she did not know how they would have got through the dull
time without them. The boys, after the manner of their kind, were bad
hands at compliment; but they managed to express in their best Russian
their thanks for the extreme kindness which they had received.

The days went on after the count's arrival much as they had done
before, except that the boys now took to horse exercise, accompanying
their host as he rode round his estate, and visited the various
villages upon it.

The houses in these villages astonished the boys. Built of mud, of one
story only and flat-roofed, they each occupied a large extent of
ground; for here whole families lived together. As the sons grew up
and married, instead of going into separate houses, and setting up
life on their own account, they brought their wives home, as did their
children when their turn came also to marry, so that under one roof
resided as many as four generations, counting some forty or fifty
souls altogether.

Each village had its headman, who settled all disputes, but against
whose decision, if it failed to give satisfaction, there was an appeal
to the master. The serfs worked, the count told the boys, without pay,
but they had so many days in each month when they cultivated the land
which was common to the village. They could, the count said, be sold,
but in point of fact never were sold except with the land.

"It's a bad system, and I wish that they were as free is your laborers
are in England."

"Of course our people cannot be sold," Jack said, "but after all
there's not so much difference in that respect, for if an estate
changes hands, they work for the new owner just as yours do."

"Yes, but your laborers cannot be killed or even flogged by their
masters with impunity."

"No, I should think not," Jack exclaimed. "We should have a revolution
in no time, if masters were to try that sort of thing."

"I fear that we shall have one too, some day," the count said, "unless
the serfs are emancipated. The people are terribly ignorant, but even
among them some sort of enlightenment is going on, and as they know
better they will refuse to live and to work as mere beasts of burden."

"Will they be better off, sir, than before?" Dick Hawtry asked. "I
have heard my father say that the negroes in the West Indian islands
are worse off than they were in the days when they were slaves. They
will not work except just enough to procure themselves means of
living, and they spend the rest of their lives lying about and

"It would no doubt be the same thing here," the count said, "for a
time. The Russian peasant is naturally extremely ignorant and
extremely fond of 'vodka.' Probably at first he would be far worse off
than at present. He would be content to earn enough to live and to get
drunk upon, and wide tracts of land would remain untilled. But it is
of the future we must think; and who can doubt that in the future,
Russia, with a free people and free institutions, with her immense
resources and enormous population, must become the grandest empire on



Cheerful though their hosts were, the midshipmen could see that a
cloud of anxiety hung over them. To be "suspected" in Russia is
equivalent to being condemned. Secret police spies in the very bosom
of the household may be sending denunciations. The man who meets you
and shakes hands with you in the street may have reported on your
conduct. The letters you write are opened, those you should receive
stopped in the post. At any moment the agent of the authorities may
appear and conduct you to a prison which you may leave only for the
long journey to Siberia.

Count Preskoff did not think that matters had yet reached this point.
He was in disgrace at court, and had enemies who would injure him to
the utmost with the emperor, but he believed that no steps would be
taken until Count Smerskoff had received his final refusal of
Katinka's hand. He had already once proposed for it, but would not
consider the answer which her father then gave him as final.

"I cannot accept your refusal, count," he had said. "The marriage
would be for the advantage of all parties concerned. My family is, as
you are aware, not without influence at court, and they would, were I
the husband of your daughter, do all in their power to incline the
emperor favorably towards you; while, were I rejected, they would
probably view your refusal to accept my offers as a slight to the
family, and resent it accordingly. I cannot but think that when you
have given the matter calm consideration, you will see the advantages
which such an alliance would offer. I shall therefore do myself the
honor to renew my proposals at some future date."

This conversation took place in the beginning of December; Count
Preskoff had shortly afterwards left for his estates in the north, and
he felt sure that upon his return the subject would be renewed, and
that upon his announcement of his continued determination to refuse
his daughter's hand to this pressing suitor, the latter would use
every means in his power to ruin him, and that the cloud which had so
long threatened would burst over his head.

From Olga, who, being about his own age, a little under sixteen, was
his special chum in the family, Jack gathered a general idea of the
situation. Olga was an adept at pantomimic action, and a natural
mimic; hence, although he could only understand a word here and there,
he obtained an accurate idea of the conversation between her father
and the governor, and of her father's calm manner, and the gestures
and intonations of apparent friendship but veiled menace. By putting
her ears to a keyhole and hiding behind a curtain, she expressed the
possibility of there being a spy in the very household, who would
listen to the unguarded talk of her father and report it to the
governor. Jack determined that he would watch every movement of the
domestics, and especially observe if he could detect any sign of an
understanding between one of them and the governor.

It was some four or five days after the count had returned that Count
Smerskoff rode up to the door. Orders had already been given that if
he arrived he should be shown to the count's private study. The
midshipmen saw him riding up, and, according to the plan they had
agreed upon, one stood near the entrance to observe whether any sign
of recognition passed between him and any of the servants gathered
upon the steps to receive him, the other took his place in the hall.
The interview was not a long one.

"I am come, Count Preskoff," the governor said, "to renew my request
for the hand of your daughter. I trust that upon consideration you
will have thought it better to overlook the objections you preferred
to my suit."

"Upon the contrary," the count said calmly, "I have thought the matter
over in every light, and am more convinced even than before that such
a marriage would not conduce to the happiness of my daughter. She
herself is wholly repugnant to it, and even were it otherwise, I
should myself most strongly object."

"On what grounds, count?" the officer said angrily. "Noble as your
family is, my own is fully equal to it."

"That I am perfectly willing to allow, sir, and will frankly own that
my objection is a purely personal one. The incidents of your past
career are notorious. You have killed two men in duels, which, in both
cases, you forced upon them. You have been involved in gambling
transactions of such a description that it needed all the influence of
your family to save you from public disgrace. To such a man it is
impossible that I could intrust my daughter."

Count Smerskoff rose to his feet, bursting with passion.

"Since you know my reputation, count, it would have been wiser to
abstain from insulting me. You shall hear from me before night."

"It is useless your sending your second to me," the count said calmly,
"for I absolutely refuse to meet you. I shall publish my refusal, and
state that the grounds upon which I base it are that you are a
notorious ruffian; but that if you can find any man of honor to take
up your quarrel, I shall be prepared to meet him."

"I will force you to it," the soldier said, burning with passion. "I
will publicly insult you. I will strike you," and he drew a step

"You will do so at your peril," the count said, drawing a pistol from
his pocket. "I know your method, sir, and am prepared for it. If you
lay a finger upon me, if you insult me in public, I will shoot you
dead where you stand, and take the consequences."

"You shall repent this," Count Smerskoff exclaimed. "There are lives
worse than death, and you shall have cause to remember your words of
to-day," and turning round he strode from the room.

Jack was still lounging in the hall as he passed out. One of the
servants had also remained there, and when the governor was seen
striding down the staircase, the man hastened to open the door. Jack
saw the officer pause for a moment, "At eight to-night at the cross
roads," he said, and passed out, and flinging himself upon his horse,
rode off. Among the Russian words learned by the midshipmen were all
words connected with roads. They had been specially desirous of asking
questions which might enable them to find their way across country,
and every word which would be likely to be included in a direction as
to route had been learned. This was the more easy, as on their march
there had been but few objects of interest to attract their attention.
The expressions therefore "the road to the right," "the road to the
left," "the turning by the wood or stream," "the cross roads," and
other similar expressions had been learned by heart. Jack's quick
ears, consequently, gathered the purport of the brief order.

"I have found the spy," he said triumphantly, when he joined his
comrade outside. "Come for a stroll, Dick. I don't want to be seen
talking here."

When well away from the house, Jack repeated the words he had
overheard, and they determined that they would be present at the
interview between the governor and his spy. They had a long discussion
whether it would be better to invite the count himself to be present;
but they agreed at last that it would be better not to do so, as he
might break in upon the interview, and possibly only bring matters to
a climax at once, which they agreed had better be avoided, as even if
the men fought then and there, the fact of the governor being killed
by the count would only precipitate the danger which already
threatened. Still they agreed that it was absolutely necessary that
the conversation should be thoroughly understood, and the few words
which they would glean here and there might be insufficient to put
them in possession of the full details of the plot.

They therefore resolved to take the coachman into their confidence.
They knew that he was warmly attached to the count, and that he could
be relied upon in an emergency. As they had full permission to take
the horses or carriage whenever they pleased, they now went to the
stable and told the coachman that they should like to go for a drive
in the sledge, as the weather showed signs of breaking, and the snow
would probably shortly disappear.

The horses were at once put to, and, in a few minutes they were
whirling over the snow. They directed the coachman to drive into the
forest where they had had the encounter with the wolves, and when well
in its shelter they stopped the sledge and alighted, and requested the
coachman to do the same. Much surprised, the unrolled the sheepskin
wrappings from his legs and got down from his seat.

"Alexis, you love the count, your master, do you not?"

"Yes, young lord," the Russian said earnestly, though much surprised
at the question. "His fathers have been the masters of mine for many
generations. My good lord is always kind and considerate to his serfs.
I drove his father before him. I drove him when he was a boy. He has
never said a harsh word to me. I would give my life for him willingly.
Why do the young lords ask?"

"Your master has enemies, Alexis. There are many who think that he is
too kind to his serfs. They have poisoned the ear of the Czar against
him. They have told him that your master is a dangerous man. They have
turned the face of the Czar from him."

The Russian nodded. It was no secret that the count was banished from
the capital.

"The chief of his enemies," Jack went on, "is the governor, Count
Smerskoff. He wishes to marry the Countess Katinka, and because the
count refuses he will try to injure him and to obtain his exile to

"I will kill him," the coachman said. "I will slay him in the middle
of his soldiers. They may kill me, but what of that, it is for my

"No, Alexis, not now," Jack said, laying his hand upon the arm of the
angry Russian. "Perhaps later, but we will see. But I have found out
that Paul, the hall servant, is acting as his spy. I heard the
governor order him to meet him at the cross roads at eight o'clock
to-night. I suppose he means where the road crosses that to town,
about half-way along. We mean to be there, but you know we don't
understand Russian well enough to hear all that is said. We want you
to be there with us, too, to hear what they mean to do."

"I will be there," the Russian said; "and if the young lords think it
well, I will kill them both."

"No, Alexis," Jack said; "that would never do. It might get about that
the governor had been killed by order of the count, and this would do
more harm than if he were alive. Will you be in the stables at seven
o'clock? We will join you there. There are plenty of bushes at the
cross-roads, and we shall be able to hide there without difficulty."

The coachman assented, and taking their seats, they again drove on. It
must not be supposed that the conversation was conducted as simply and
easily as has been narrated, for it needed all the efforts of the boys
to make the Russian understand them, and they had to go over and over
again many of the sentences, using their scanty vocabulary in every
way, to convey their meaning to their hearer. The rest of the
afternoon passed slowly. The count himself was tranquil and even
cheerful, although his face wore an air of stern determination. The
countess looked anxious and careworn. The eyes of the three girls were
swollen with crying, and the lads afterwards learned that Katinka had
gone down on her knees to her father, to implore him to allow her to
sacrifice herself for the common good by marrying Count Smerskoff.
This, however, the count had absolutely refused to do, and had even
insisted upon her promising him that, should he be exiled and his
estates confiscated, she would not afterwards purchase his release by
consenting to marry her suitor. Respecting the grief and anxiety into
which the family were plunged, the midshipmen kept apart from them all
the afternoon, only joining them at the evening meal at six o'clock.
As they withdrew, saying, in answer to the count's invitation that
they should stop with them, that they were first going for a little
walk, Jack whispered in Olga's ear, "Keep up your courage. All may not
be lost yet."

The coachman was waiting for them in the stable, and they started at
once in an opposite direction to that at which the meeting was to take
place, in case Paul might by any possibility observe their departure.
Taking a long _détour_, they reached the cross-roads, and lay down
under cover of the brushwood. It was nearly half an hour later before
they heard footsteps approaching along the road from the chateau. On
reaching the junction of the roads, the man stopped, and from their
place of concealment they could dimly see his figure.

The boys had taken the precaution of abstracting a brace of pistols
and two swords from the count's armory. The coachman they knew would
have his knife. This they had done at Jack's suggestion that it was
possible that their presence might be betrayed by a cough or other
accidental noise, in which case they knew they would have to fight for
their lives. A few minutes later they heard the tramp of a horse's
hoof. It approached quickly, and the rider halted by the standing

"Is that you, Paul?"

"It is, my lord," the serf said, bowing.

"You are alone?"

"No one had approached the place since I came here a quarter of an
hour ago."

"It is time for action," the horseman said. "To-morrow you will come
boldly at twelve o'clock to my house, and demand to see me on
important business. You will be shown to my room, where two officers
who I wish to have as witnesses will be present. You will then state
to me that you wish to make a denunciation of your master, Count
Preskoff. I shall ask what you have to say, and tell you that you are
of course aware of the serious consequences to yourself should such
statements be proved untrue. You will say that you are aware of that,
but that you are compelled by your love for the Czar, our father, to
speak. You will then say that you have heard the count using insulting
words of the Czar, in speaking of him to his wife, on many occasions,
and that since his return, on one occasion, you put your ear to the
keyhole and heard him telling her of a great plot for a general rising
of the serfs, and an overthrow of the government; that he said he had
prepared the serfs of his estates in the north for the rising; that
those of his estates here would all follow him; that many other nobles
had joined in the plot, and that on a day which had not yet been
agreed upon a rising would take place in twenty places simultaneously;
and that the revolt once begun he was sure that the serfs, weary of
the war and its heavy impositions, would everywhere join the movement.
I shall cross-question you closely, but you will stick to your story.
Make it as simple and straightforward as you can; say you cannot
answer for the exact words, but that you will answer that this was the
general sense of the conversation you overheard. Now, are you sure you
thoroughly understand?"

"I quite understand, my lord," the man said humbly, "and for this your
Excellency has promised me?"

"Five hundred roubles and your freedom."

"But when am I to be paid?" the man said doubtfully.

"Do you doubt my word, slave?" the horseman said angrily.

"By no means, your Excellency. But things might happen, and after I
had told my story and it had been taken down before witnesses, your
Excellency's memory might fail. I should prefer the money before I
told my story."

The horseman was silent a moment.

"You are an insolent dog to doubt me," he said in an angry tone; "but
you shall have the money; when you call to-morrow the sergeant of the
guard will have instructions to hand you a letter which will contain
notes for five hundred roubles."

"I thought," the man said, "your Excellency said gold. Five hundred
roubles in notes are not worth two hundred in gold, and you see I
shall have much to do to earn the money, for I may be sent to St.
Petersburg and cross-questioned. I may even be confronted with my
master; and after it is over and I am freed, I must, in any case,
leave this part of the country, for my life will not be safe for a day

"Very well," the count said, "you shall have a thousand roubles in
paper; but beware! if you fail me or break down in cross-examination,
you shall end your life in the mines of Siberia."

So saying, without another word he turned and rode back, while the
serf strode off towards the chateau. During this conversation, which
the boys imperfectly understood, they had difficulty in restraining
the count's faithful retainer, who, furious at hearing the details of
the plot against his master, would have leaped up to attack the
speakers, had not the boys kept their restraining hands on his
shoulder, and whispered in his ear, "Be quiet, for the count's sake."

Waiting long enough to be sure that the two men had passed not only
out of sight but of the sound of their voices, the lads suffered their
companion to rise, and to indulge his feelings in an explosion of deep
oaths. Then, when he was a little calm, they obtained from him a
repetition of the leading facts of the conversation.

The boys consulted among themselves, and agreed that it was necessary
to acquaint the count with all the facts that they had discovered, and
to leave him to act as seemed best according to his judgment.

They entered the house alone, telling the coachman to call in half an
hour, and to say that the count had given orders that he was to see
him to take instructions for the horses in the morning. Then they
joined the family in the drawing-room. There all proceeded as usual.

Katinka, at her father's request, played on the piano, and a stranger
would not have dreamed of the danger which menaced the household. When
the half-hour had nearly expired, Jack said to the count,--

"I have told Alexis to call upon you for orders for to-morrow. Would
you mind receiving him in your study? I have a very particular reason
for asking it."

"But I have no orders to give Alexis," the count said, surprised.

"No, sir, but he has something he particularly wishes to say to
you--something really important."

"Very well," the court replied, smiling; "you seem to be very
mysterious, but of course I will do as you wish. Is he coming soon?"

"In two or three minutes, sir, I expect him."

"Then," the count remarked, "I suppose I had better go at once, and
learn what all this mystery is about. He isn't coming, I hope, to
break to me the news that one of my favorite horses is dead." So
saying, with a smile, he left the room. No sooner had he gone than the
girls overwhelmed the midshipmen with questions, but they told them
that they must not be inquisitive, that their father would, no doubt,
tell them the secret in due time.

"If you will allow me, countess," Dick said, "I will leave this door a
little open, so that we may hear when Alexis goes in." The door was
placed ajar, and a few minutes later the footsteps of two men were
heard coming along the corridor. Paul opened the door. "Is his
Excellency here?" he asked. "Alexis wishes to see him."

"He is in his study," the countess answered.

The study door was heard to close, and when the sound of Paul's feet
returning along the corridor ceased Dick said, "You will excuse us,
countess, we are going to join the conference."

"It is too bad," Katinka exclaimed, "to keep us in the dark in this
way. Mind, if the secret is not something very important and
delightful, you will be in disgrace, and we shall banish you from this
room altogether."

The lads made a laughing reply, and then, promising they would soon be
back, they went to the study. Alexis was standing silent before his
master, having explained that he would rather not speak until the
young English lords appeared. Jack began the narrative, and said that
fearing Count Smerskoff, whom they knew to be his enemy, might have
suborned one of the servants to act as his spy they had watched him
closely, and had heard him make an appointment with Paul to meet him
that evening at the cross-roads; that they had taken Alexis into their
confidence, and had with him been concealed spectators of the
interview; that they themselves had been able to gather only the
general drift of the conversation, but that Alexis would give him a
full report of it.

The count's face had at first expressed only surprise at Jack's
narration, but the expression changed into one of fierce anger as he
proceeded. Without a word he motioned to Alexis to continue, and the
latter detailed word for word the conversation which he had overheard.
When he had concluded, he added, "Your Excellency must pardon me for
not having killed your enemies upon the spot, but the young English
lords had told me that it was necessary to lie quiet, whatever I
heard, and besides, the governor might have ridden off before I could
reach him."

The count stood for a minute silent when the narration ceased. "You
did well, Alexis," he said in a stern voice. "It is for me to judge
and sentence. I had thought that I, at least, was safe from treachery
among those around me. It seems I was wrong, and the traitor shall
learn that the kind master can be the severe lord, who holds the life
and death of his serfs in his hand." He was silent, and remained two
or three minutes in deep thought. "Go to the stable, Alexis. You will
be joined there soon by Ivan and Alexander. They will have their
instructions. After that Paul will come out; seize him and bind him
when he enters the stable. Now go. You have done well. Tell Paul, as
you go out, that I wish to see the steward."

A minute or two later the steward, a white-headed old man, who had
from childhood been in the service of the family, entered. "Demetri,"
he said, "will you tell Ivan and Alexander to go out into the stable?
They will find Alexis waiting for them. Order them, when Paul joins
them there, to aid Alexis in seizing him instantly. Give them your
instructions quietly, and without attracting notice. Above all do not
let Paul see you speaking to them. When you have seen them out, find
Paul, and order him to go to the stable and tell Alexis that I wish to
speak to him; when he has gone, join me here."



Count Preskoff's old steward received his orders with scarce a look of
surprise, singular though they must have seemed to him. A Russian is
accustomed to unquestioning obedience to the orders of his superior,
and although never before had Count Preskoff issued such strange and
unaccountable commands to the steward, the thought never occurred to
the latter of questioning them for a moment.

When he had left the room, the Count turned to the midshipmen, and his
brow relaxed. "I cannot tell you," he said, "under what obligation you
have placed me and my family. Little did we think that any little
kindness we might show to you, strangers and prisoners here, would be
returned by a service of a hundredfold greater value. The danger which
hangs over us may for the time be averted by your discovery. I know my
enemy too well to suppose that it is more than postponed, but every
delay is so much gained. I have news to-day that the Czar is
alarmingly ill. Should Heaven take him, it would be the dawn of a
better era for Russia. His son is a man of very different mould. He
has fallen into disgrace with his father for his liberal ideas, and he
is known to think, as I do, that serfdom is the curse of the empire."

"But surely," Dick Hawtry said, "if we draw out a document signed by
us and Alexis, saying that we overheard the plot to obtain false
evidence against you, the emperor would not believe other false
accusations which your enemies might invent?"

"You little know Russia," the count said. "I believe that Nicholas,
tyrannical and absolute as he is, yet wishes to be just, and that were
such a document placed in his hands, it would open his eyes to the
truth. But my enemies would take care that it never reached him. They
are so powerful that few would dare to brave their hostility by
presenting it. Nor, indeed, surrounded as Nicholas is by creatures
whose great object is to prevent him from learning the true wishes of
his people, would it be easy to obtain an opportunity for laying such
a document before him. Even were the attempt made, and that
successfully, such doubts would be thrown upon it, that he might well
be deceived. It would be said that the evidence of Alexis, a serf
devoted to his master, was valueless, and that you, as strangers, very
imperfectly acquainted with the language, might well have
misunderstood the conversation. Count Smerskoff would swear that he
was only repeating statements which Paul had previously made to him,
and that he only promised money because Paul insisted that, as a first
condition of his informing against me, he should receive funds to
enable him to leave this part of the country, where his life would
assuredly be unsafe. I will thankfully take such a document from you,
my friends, for it may be useful, but I must not trust too much to it.
Now come with me," he continued, as the steward reappeared. "You have
seen how a Russian noble can be kind to his serfs; you will now see
how he punishes traitors."

Followed by the steward and the two midshipmen, the count proceeded to
the stables. Here, by the light of the lantern, they saw Paul
standing, bound against the manger. His features were ghastly pale and
contracted with fear. His conscience told him that his treachery had
been discovered. Alexis and the two servants were standing by, in the
attitude of stolid indifference habitual to the Russian peasant.

"Demetri, you, Ivan, and Alexander will be the court to try this man
whom I accuse of being a traitor, who has plotted against my life and
liberty, who would have sent me to the gallows or Siberia, and seen my
wife and children turned beggared and disgraced on the world. You will
form the court, and decide whether he is innocent or guilty. If the
latter, I will pass sentence. Alexis and these English gentlemen are
the witnesses against him."

The midshipmen first, and then Alexis related the conversation they
had overheard.

"You have heard the evidence," the count said, turning to Demetri.
"What is your opinion? is this man innocent or guilty?"

"He is guilty," the old man said, "of the basest treachery towards the
best and kindest master in Russia, and he deserves to die."

"And so say we," said the other two together, looking with loathing
horror at the prisoner; for in Russia for a serf to conspire against
his master was a crime deemed almost equal in atrocity to parricide.

"You hear, Paul," his master said, sternly looking at him; "you have
been found guilty, and must die. Alexis, you restrained yourself for
my sake from taking the life of this wretch when you heard him
plotting against me; you will now act as executioner."

"Right willingly," the man replied, taking down a huge axe which hung
by the wall.

The wretched prisoner, who had hitherto maintained an absolute
silence, now burst into an agony of cries, prayers for mercy, and
curses. Seeing in the unmoved countenances of his judges that nothing
would avail, and that Alexis was approaching him; he screamed out a
demand for a priest before he died.

"That is reasonable," the count said. "Go into the house, Demetri, and
ask Papa Ivanovitch to come hither"--for in the family of every
Russian noble a priest resides, as a matter of course.

Presently the priest arrived with the steward.

"Papa Ivanovitch," the count said, "you are, I know, devoted to the
family in which your father and grandfather were priests before you.
You can, therefore, be trusted with our secret, a secret which will
never go beyond those present. You are here to shrive a man about to

Then the count related the incidents of the discovery of the treachery
of the prisoner, and the priest, who shared with the serfs their
veneration and affection for their lord, could scarcely overcome his
repugnance and horror of the prisoner so far as to approach and listen
to him.

For five minutes all present withdrew from the stable, leaving the
priest and the prisoner alone together. Then the door opened and the
priest came out.

"It is finished," he said. "May God pardon the sinner!" and he moved
away rapidly towards the house.

Alexis spoke a word to his fellow-servants, and these lifted a heavy
log from the wood-pile in the courtyard, and carried it into the
stable. Then they seized Paul, and in spite of his screams and
struggles laid him with his head across the log. Alexis raised the
heavy axe in the air; it flashed in the light of the lantern; there
was a dull, heavy thud, and the head of the traitor rolled on the

"Now," the count said, unmoved, "put a horse into a cart, take picks
and shovels, and carry the body of this traitor out to the forest and
bury it there. Dig a hole deeply, that the wolves may not bring it to
light. Demetri will give each of you to-morrow fifty roubles for your
share in this night's work, and beware that you never let a syllable
concerning it pass your lips, even when you are together and alone.
Alexis, on you I bestow your freedom, if you care to have it, and
also, as a gift to yourself and your heirs after you, the little farm
that was vacant by the death of Nouvakeff last week."

So saying, followed by the two midshipmen who had been awed, but not
disapproving spectators of the tragedy, he returned to the house, and
led the way back to his study.

"You do not disapprove," he asked gravely, "of what I have done? It is
not, I know, in accordance with your English ideas, nor even in Russia
may a noble take a serf's life, according to law, though hundreds are
killed in fits of hasty passion, or by slow ill-treatment, and no
inquiry is ever made. Still, this was a case of life against life. My
safety and happiness and that of my dear wife and daughters were
concerned, and were the lives of fifty serfs at stake, I should not

Although the boys felt that the matter, if brought before an English
court of justice, might not be favorably considered, their sympathies
were so thoroughly with the count, that they did not hesitate to say
that they thought he could not have acted otherwise than he had done,
and that the life of the traitor was most justly forfeited.

"I shall now have a respite for a short time," the count said. "Count
Smerskoff will of course be perturbed and annoyed at the
non-appearance of his spy, and will after a time quietly set inquiries
on foot. But I will tell Demetri to give it to be understood that Paul
has asked for leave of absence for a few days to go to a distance to
visit a friend who is ill. He was always a silent and unsociable
fellow, and the others will not wonder at his having started without
mentioning his intention to any of them."

"What are we to say to the ladies, sir?" Jack asked. "We must invent
some reason for our mysterious absence."

"Yes," the count agreed. "I would not burden them with such a secret
as this on any account."

"I have an idea, sir," Jack said after a pause. "You know that
beautiful pair of ponies which were brought here yesterday for sale?
The ladies were in raptures over them, but you said that the price was
preposterous, and that the owner wanted as much for them as you had
given for your best pair of carriage horses. Now, sir, if you were to
order Alexis to go over at daybreak to the town to purchase them, and
have them at the door in a pony-carriage by breakfast-time, this would
seem to explain the whole mystery of the coachman's coming to see you,
and our private conference."

"It is a capital plan," the count assented; "admirable, and I will
carry it out at once. It is true I refused to buy them, for we have
all contributed to the extent of our means to enable the emperor to
carry on the war, and I am really short of money. But of course the
purchase of the ponies is not a matter of importance, one way or the

Upon the party returning to the drawing-room, they were assailed with
questions; but the count told his daughters that their curiosity must
remain unsatisfied until after breakfast on the morrow; and with this
assurance they were obliged to be satisfied, although Olga pouted and
told Jack that he had entirely forfeited her confidence. Fortunately
it was now late, and the lads were not called upon long to maintain an
appearance of gayety and ease which they were very far from feeling.

When they retired to their rooms, they had a long talk together. Both
agreed that, according to English law, the whole proceeding was
unjustifiable; but their final conclusion was that things in Russia
were altogether different to what they were in England, and that,
above all things, it was a case in which "it served him right."

Nevertheless it was long before they got to sleep, and for weeks the
scene in the stable was constantly before their eyes, and the screams
and entreaties of the dying man rang in their ears.

The next morning the sight of the ponies delighted the girls, and in
their pleasure at the purchase they accepted at once the solution of
the mystery, and never thought of questioning whether the long
conference between their father and the midshipmen on the preceding
evening was fully accounted for by the gift of the ponies.

Five days elapsed, and then one morning a sergeant rode up with an
official letter for the count. The latter opened it and read an order
from the governor for him to transfer the English prisoners in his
charge to the bearer of the letter, who would conduct them to the
quarters assigned to them. Most reluctantly the count ascended the
stairs and informed the boys of the order which he had received.

"It is simply done to annoy me," he said. "No doubt he has heard that
you ride about the estate with me and are treated as members of the
family, and he thinks, and rightly, that it will be a serious
annoyance to me if you are transferred elsewhere. However, I can do no
less than obey the order, and I can only hope that you will spend most
of your time here. Alexis shall bring the carriage over every morning
for you, wherever you may be quartered."

The girls were as indignant and aggrieved as even the midshipmen could
wish to see them, but there was no help for it. A quarter of an hour
later a carriage was at the door, a portmanteau well filled with
clothes placed behind, and with the sergeant trotting alongside, the
boys left the chateau where they bad been so hospitably entertained,
promising to come over without fail the next morning.

They were conducted to the governor's house, and taken not to the
large room where he conducted his public business, and where they had
before seen him, but to a smaller room, fitted up as a private study
on the second floor. The governor, who looked, Jack thought, even more
savage and ill-tempered than usual, was seated at a writing-table. He
signed to the sergeant who accompanied them to retire, and pointed to
two chairs. "So," he said, "I am told that you are able to converse
fairly in Russian, although you have chosen to sit silent whenever I
have been present, as if you did not understand a word of what was
being said. This is a bad sign, and gives weight to the report which
has been brought to me, that you are meditating an escape."

"It is a lie, sir," Dick said firmly, "whoever told it you. As to our
learning Russian, we have, as you see, picked up a little of the
language, but I'm not aware of any rule or law by which gentlemen,
whether prisoners or otherwise, are obliged to converse, unless it
pleases them to do so. You never showed any signs of being even aware
of our presence in the room, and there was therefore no occasion for
us to address you."

"I do not intend to bandy words with you," the governor replied
savagely. "I repeat that I am informed you meditate attempting an
escape, and as this is a breach of honor, and a grave offence upon the
part of officers on parole, I shall at once revoke your privilege, and
you will be confined in the same prison with common soldiers."

"In the first place," Jack said, "as my friend has told you, the
report of our thinking of escaping is a lie. If we had wanted to
escape, at any rate from this place, we could have done it at any time
since we have been here. In the second place, I deny that we are
prisoners on parole. We did not give you our promise, because you did
not ask for it. You said to Dr. Bertmann, in our hearing, that our
parole was no matter, one way or the other, as it would be impossible
for us to escape. The doctor can of course be found, and will, I am
sure, bear out what I say."

"Silence, sir!" shouted the governor. "I say that you were prisoners
on parole, and that I have discovered you intended to break that
parole. You will be committed to prison, and treated as men who have
forfeited all right to be considered as officers and gentlemen."

The boys sat silent, looking with contempt at the angry Russian. The
latter believed that he had now cowed them. He sat for a few minutes
silent, in order to allow the prospect of imprisonment and disgrace to
produce its full effect. Then he continued in a milder voice, "I do
not wish to be severe upon such very young officers, and will
therefore point out a way by which you may avoid the imprisonment and
disgrace which your conduct has merited, and be enabled still to enjoy
your freedom as before."

"What is it?" Dick asked briefly.

"It is this," the governor said. "I have here before me," and he
touched some documents lying on the table, "a report which I am about
to forward to the Czar respecting Count Preskoff. The report is not
altogether favorable, for the count is a man of what are called
advanced opinions. He has curious ideas as to the treatment of serfs,
and has, no doubt, in your hearing expressed himself favorable to
their emancipation."

The boys were silent.

"He has, I doubt not, done so, for he is rash and open of speech. I
have here before me an information sworn to that effect, and if you
will place your names as witnesses to it, I will not only pardon the
indiscretion of which you have been guilty, but will do all in my
power to make your stay pleasant."

The boys were speechless with indignation at the infamy of the
proposal, and doubted not that the document contained far weightier
charges than those specified by the governor.

"Who has signed that document?" Jack asked.

"I do not know that the name can matter to you," the governor said,
"but it is one of the servants of the count, one Paul Petrofski."

"Then," Dick said, starting to his feet, "it is a forgery. Paul
Petrofski never signed that document."

"What do you mean?" the governor exclaimed, leaping to his feet also,
and laying his hand on his sword, while his face grew white with
passion. "Do you accuse me of forgery?"

"I repeat," Dick said, his indignation altogether mastering his
prudence, "that it is a forgery. You have never seen Paul Petrofski
since I heard you offer him one thousand roubles at the cross-roads
that night to betray his master."

With a short cry which reminded Jack of the sharp snarl of the wolves
in the night in the forest, the Russian drew his sword and rushed upon
Dick. The latter threw up his arm to defend himself, but the blow
fell, cutting his arm severely, and laying open a great gash on his

The Russian raised his arm to repeat the blow, when Jack sprang upon
him from behind, seizing him round the waist, and pinning his arms to
his side.

The count struggled furiously, but Jack was a strongly built English
lad of nearly sixteen years old, and he not only retained his grasp,
but lifted his struggling captive from his feet. "Open the window,
Dick!" he shouted. "It's his life or ours now." Dick though nearly
blinded with blood, sprang to the window and threw it up.

There was a short, desperate struggle, as the Russian shouting
furiously for aid, strove with his feet to keep himself away from the
window, but Dick struck these aside. With a mighty effort Jack pushed
his captive forward, and in another moment he was thrown through the
open window. A rush of heavy steps was heard on the stairs. In an
instant Jack darted to the table, seized the documents upon it, and
cast them into the fire in the stove, slammed the door, and was
standing by the window with Dick, when an officer and several soldiers
burst into the room.

"What is the matter?" the former exclaimed; "and where is the

"The matter is," Jack said, quietly turning round, "that the governor
has drawn his sword, and, as you see, tried to kill my friend. In
order to prevent his doing so, my friend and I have thrown the
governor out of the window."

"Thrown the governor out of the window!" gasped the astonished

"Yes," Jack said. "It was painful, but we had to do it. If you look
out, I fancy you'll see him."

The officer ran to the window.

"Good heavens!" he exclaimed; "it is true. They are lifting him up
already. He seems to me to be dead. You will have to answer for this,"
he said, turning to the lads.

"Of course we shall answer for it," Jack said. "He brought it on
himself. His temper, as no doubt you are aware, was not always under
strict control."

The officer could not help smiling. He had himself often experienced
the effects of that want of control of his temper on the part of his
superior, and was at heart by no means sorry at the prospect of a new

"His Excellency's temper was hasty," he said. "However, gentlemen,
that is no business of mine." Then, turning to the soldiers, he
continued, "You will take these officers into custody, and remain here
in charge of them until you have further orders." He then left them,
to inquire into the state of the governor. The soldiers muttered
remarks to each other, by no means indicative of sorrow, for the
tyranny of the governor had made him hated by all below him. One of
them at Jack's request at once went out and returned with a jug of
cold water and a towel, with which Jack bathed Dick's wounds, which
were bleeding severely, and the midshipman was scarcely able to stand
from loss of blood. Jack vainly attempted to stop the bleeding. "We
must have a surgeon," he said, turning to the soldiers, "or, as you
see, my friend will bleed to death. No doubt there are plenty of them
below. Will one of you go and ask one of them to come up here, telling
him how urgent is the need?"

After a consultation among themselves, one of the soldiers retired,
and in a minute or two returned with a surgeon, in whom, to his great
delight, Jack recognized Doctor Bertmann, who upon seeing Dick's state
at once proceeded to attend to him. Cutting off his coat and
shirt-sleeve, he examined his arm, from which the blood was flowing in
a stream.

"One of the small arteries is cut," he said. "It is lucky that aid was
at hand, or he would have assuredly bled to death." The severed artery
was speedily found and tied up, and then the wound on the face was
plastered and bandaged, and Dick, as he lay on the couch, for he was
far too weak to stand, felt comparatively comfortable.



When he had dressed Dick's wounds, Doctor Bertmann said he would go
down and see the governor. He had already told the lads that he had
received fatal injuries, and was unconscious, and that he might, or
might not, recover his senses before he died. It was an hour before he
returned, accompanied by the other officer. Both looked grave.

"I'm sorry to say, my young friend," the doctor said to Jack, for Dick
had now gone off in a quiet doze, "that the affair has assumed a very
serious aspect. The count is dead. He recovered consciousness before
he died, and denounced you both as having made a sudden and altogether
unprovoked attack upon him. He had, he affirmed, discovered that you
were meditating a breach of your parole, and that he had informed you
that the privileges extended to you would, therefore, be withdrawn.
Then, he said, transported by rage, you sprang upon him. He drew his
sword and attempted to defend himself, but the two of you, closing
with him, hurled him through the window, in spite of his struggles."

The other officer had, while the doctor was speaking, been examining
the writing-table.

"I do not see the papers he spoke of," he said to the doctor.

Then, turning to the sergeants of the guard, he asked if any papers
upon the table had been touched. The sergeant replied that no one had
gone near the table since he had entered the room.

"In that case," the officer said, "his mind cannot have been quite
clear, although he seemed to speak sensibly enough. You heard him
order me, doctor, to fold up a report and attesting statement directed
to the Minister of the Interior, and to post them immediately? It is
clear that there are no such documents here. I entered the room with
the sergeant almost at the moment when the struggle ended, and as no
one has touched the table since, it is clear that they cannot have
been here. Perhaps I may find them on the table downstairs. It is
now," he said, turning to Jack, "my duty to inform you that you are in
custody for the deliberate murder of Count Smerskoff, as sworn to by
him in his last moments."

"He was a liar when he was alive," Jack said, "and he died with a
falsehood on his lips. However, sir, we are at your orders."

A stretcher was brought in, Dick was placed upon it, and under a guard
the midshipmen were marched to the prison, the soldiers with
difficulty keeping back the crowd who pressed forward to see the
English prisoners who had murdered the governor.

Doctor Bertmann walked with Jack to the prison door. Upon the way he
assured Jack that he entirely believed his version of the story, as he
knew the governor to be a thoroughly bad man.

"Singularly enough," he said, "I had intended to see you to-day. I
went back to Sebastopol on the very day after you arrived here, with a
regiment marching down, and left again with a convoy of wounded after
only two days' stay there. I got here last night, and I had intended
coming out to call upon you at Count Preskoff's to-day. You would, no
doubt, like me to see him at once, and inform him of what has taken

Jack said that he would be very much obliged, if he would do so.

"I will return this afternoon to see my patient," Doctor Bertmann
said, as they parted, "and will then bring you news from the count,
who will, no doubt, come to see you himself."

The cell to which the boys were conducted was a small one, and
horribly dirty. Jack shrugged his shoulders, as he looked at it.

"It is not fit for a pig," he said to himself. "After all, Russia is
not such a pleasant place as I thought it yesterday."

When they were left alone, Jack set to work to cheer up his companion,
who was weak, and inclined to be despondent from the loss of blood
which he had suffered.

"At any rate, old boy," Jack said, in reply to Dick's assertion of his
conviction that they would be shot, "we shall have the satisfaction
that we have procured the safety of our friends at the chateau. Now
that their enemy is gone, the count will no doubt be let alone. It was
dreadful to think what would have become of the countess and the three
girls if their father had been sent to Siberia, and they turned out
penniless. Besides, old fellow, we are a long way from being dead yet.
After all, it is only the governor's word against ours, and you may be
sure that the count will move heaven and earth to bring matters

It was dusk before the doctor returned.

"I have seen the count," he said, "and the ladies and he were greatly
distressed at my news. It is plain to see that you are prime
favorites. The young ladies were very Niobes. The count was most
anxious to learn all particulars, but I could only tell him that you
asserted the governor had attacked you first. He drove in at once, and
made no doubt that he should be allowed to see you. In this, however,
he was disappointed, and indeed you have had a most fortunate escape.
The officer second in command here is a relative of the late governor.
Fortunately he was absent this morning, and only returned this
afternoon. Like the late count he is of a violent and passionate
temper, and when he heard the news swore that had he been here, he
would have instantly had you brought out and shot in the square.
Indeed, it was with difficulty that the other officers dissuaded him
from doing so upon his return. He has ordered that a court-martial
shall assemble to-morrow, and that you shall be at once tried and

"But surely," Jack said, "no court-martial of officers would find us
guilty. The count's violent temper was notorious, and it is against
all reason that two unarmed men should make an attack upon one armed
with a sword, and within call of assistance. You yourself know, Doctor
Bertmann, that the reason which he alleged for the attack is a false
one, as we were not asked for our parole."

"I am, of course, aware of that," the doctor said, "and should attend
to give evidence, but the case is a doubtful one. The officers of our
line regiments are, for the most part, poor and friendless men.
Promotion is almost entirely by favoritism, and it would need a very
considerable amount of courage and independence to give a verdict in
the teeth of their commanding officer. In the next place, for I have
heard them talking it over among themselves, there is a sort of
feeling that, for the honor of the Russian army, it is almost
necessary that you should be found guilty, since it would throw
discredit upon the whole service were it published to the world that
two unarmed young English officers had been attacked with a sword by a
Russian officer of rank."

"Then things look rather badly for us," said Jack. "Well, it can't be
helped, you know, and the count will, no doubt, write to our people at
home, to tell them the truth of the case."

"Oh," said the doctor, "you must not misunderstand me. I only said
that the new commandant had ordered that you should be tried by
court-martial, but that is a very different thing from its being done.
We must get you out of prison to-night."

"You speak very confidently," Jack said, laughing, "but how is it to
be done?"

"Oh," answered the doctor, "there is no great difficulty on that
score. It may be taken as certain that as a rule every Russian
official, from the highest to the lowest, is accessible to a bribe,
and that no prisoner with powerful friends outside need give up hope.
This is a military prison. The soldiers at the gate are open to imbibe
an unlimited amount of vodka, whoever may send it. The officer in
command of them will be easily accessible to reasons which will induce
him to shut his eyes to what is going on. Your warder here can of
course be bought. The count is already at work, and as his means are
ample, and, although under a cloud at present, his connections
powerful, there is little fear that he will fail in succeeding. By the
way I have news to tell you. Do you hear the bells tolling? The news
has arrived that Nicholas is dead. Alexander, our new Czar, is known
to be liberally disposed, and, were there time, the count would go to
St. Petersburg, obtain an audience with him, and explain the whole
circumstances, which, by the way, he has related to me. This, of
course, is out of the question, and even were there time for him to go
and return, it would not be possible for him to obtain an audience
with the new emperor just at present."

"I wish it could have been so," Jack said. "Of course Dick and I will
be glad enough to avail ourselves of the chances of escape, for it
would be foolish to insist upon waiting to be tried by a tribunal
certain beforehand to condemn us. Still, one doesn't like the thought
of making one's escape, and so leaving it to be supposed that we were
conscious of guilt."

"Oh," the doctor said, "you need not trouble yourself upon that score.
The governor was hated by every one, and no one really doubts that he
attacked you first. Upon the contrary, the population are inclined to
look upon you as public benefactors. There will then be no feeling
against you here, but even if there were, it would make but little
difference. At present every one in Russia is talking and thinking of
nothing but the death of the Czar, and of the changes which may be
made by his son, and the details of a squabble in an obscure town will
attract no attention whatever, and will not probably even obtain the
honor of a paragraph in the Odessa papers. The first thing for us to
do is to get your friend into a fit state to walk. How do you feel?"
he asked, bending over Dick and feeling his pulse.

"Ever so much better," Dick said cheerfully, "since I have heard from
you that there is a chance of escape. I have been fretting so at the
thought that I have got Jack into such a wretched mess by my folly in
telling the governor that I knew of his treachery. If it had been only
myself, I shouldn't have cared."

"Why, my dear Dick," Jack said cheerfully, "I never dreamt of blaming
you, and if you hadn't spoken out, I have no doubt I should have done
so. No, no, old fellow, whatever comes of it, don't you blame

"Can you stand, do you think?" the doctor asked.

"Oh, I think so," Dick said; and rising, he managed to totter across
the cell.

"That is all right," the doctor said. "In a quarter of an hour you
shall have a good dinner sent in from a restaurant. I have arranged
for that. It is of course contrary to rule, but a few roubles have
settled it. There will be supper, too, at eleven o'clock; there will
also be a couple of bottles of first-rate Burgundy from the count's
cellar. You are to eat two good meals, and drink a third of a bottle
at each of them. Your wounds are not in themselves serious, and the
only thing that ails you is loss of blood. We must risk a little
accession of fever for the sake of giving you strength. When you have
had your supper, you had best both get to sleep, if you can, for an
hour or two. Whatever arrangements we make will be for about two
o'clock in the morning. And now good-bye for the present; keep up your
spirits, and remember that even should any unexpected accident upset
our plans for to-night, we will carry them out to-morrow night, as the
court-martial will not take place till the afternoon, and there will
be at least twenty-four, probably forty-eight hours, between the
sentence and its execution."

So saying, the doctor took his departure, leaving the lads far more
cheerful and confident than they had been when he entered. He seemed
indeed to regard the success of the attempt which would be made for
their evasion as secured. The meal, which consisted of some strong and
nourishing soup, and a dish of well-cooked meat, shortly arrived, and
Dick, after partaking of it, and drinking his prescribed allowance of
Burgundy, announced that he felt a man again, and ready for a tussle
with the commandant. After his meal he dozed quietly, for some hours,
until aroused by the arrival of supper which consisted again of soup
with some poached eggs served on vegetables.

Jack had not tried to sleep, but had enjoyed a pipe which the doctor
had, with tobacco, handed to him, his own having been confiscated upon
his entrance into the prison. After supper, however, he threw himself
upon the straw and slept soundly, until awakened by a hand being
placed on his shoulder. He leaped to his feet, and saw the warder
beside him. The man carried a lantern. The candle with which the boys
had been furnished by the doctor's arrangement had burned out. Jack
aroused his comrade, and the two followed the warder, who led the way
along the corridor and down the stairs into the courtyard of the

The man did not walk with any particular caution, and the lads judged
from his movements that he had no fear whatever of interruption. The
door of the guard-room stood open, and by the light of the fire which
blazed within, they could see the soldiers lying about in a drunken
sleep. At the gate itself the sentry on duty was sitting on the ground
with his back against a wall, and his musket beside him, in a heavy
drunken sleep.

The warder unlocked the door, the key being already in the lock; the
three issued out; the gate was closed and locked on the outside, and
the key thrust under the gate. The warder then led the way through the
streets, until he reached a small house near the outskirts. The door
opened as their footsteps approached, and Count Preskoff came out.

"My dear boys," he exclaimed embracing them as if he had been their
father, "how much you have suffered for the sake of me and mine!
Here," he continued, turning to the warder, "is the reward I promised
you. Go straight on to the chateau. You will find my coachman with a
light carriage ready for starting. He will drive you twenty-five miles
on your way, and you will then only have fifteen to walk before
morning to the house of the woodman, your brother, where I hear you
intend to remain hidden for the present. You can rely upon my
protection after the affair has blown over. Now come in, lads, this is
the house of a faithful serf of mine, who works here on his own
account as an artisan, and you will be safe from interruption for the
next hour or two."

Upon entering the cottage, the midshipmen were surprised to find the
countess and her daughters, who greeted them no less warmly than the
count had done.

"My husband has told me all that you have done for us," the countess
said, "and how you first discovered the plot between the governor and
that miserable traitor for our ruin. I have blamed him for hiding it
from us at first, for surely a wife should know of the dangers to
which her husband is exposed. Besides, I and my daughters would have
remained ignorant of the obligation we owe you."

"And to think of the way you took us in with the ponies," Olga
laughed. "Papa said that was your invention, Master Jack. That's
another score against you."

"I hope," Dick said, "that you are running no risks on our account,
countess. I fear that there may be suspicions that the count has been
concerned in our escape."

"The deputy-commandant may suspect," the count said, "but he can prove
nothing. All in the chateau are, I believe, faithful, but even were
they not, none know of our absence, as we did not leave until all were
asleep, and shall return before daylight. Alexis will himself drive
the warder to his destination. He has the best pair of horses, and
will do the fifty miles in under four hours so that he will be back
before any one is stirring. The others concerned will hold their
tongues for their own sakes. The soldiers will not admit that they
have been drunk, but will declare that no one has passed the gate. The
lieutenant in charge will hang up the key on its hook in the
guard-room, and will declare that every time he made his rounds he
found the men alert and vigilant. It will therefore be supposed that
the warder has let you out by a rope or in some other way. No doubt
there will be a vigilant hue-and-cry in the morning, and the
commandant will search every house, will keep a sharp watch over the
chateau, and will scour the country for miles round. But it will die
away in time. I wrote yesterday afternoon to my friends in St.
Petersburg, urging them to obtain the appointment of some friend to
this post. The party of reform will be in the ascendency in the
counsels of the emperor, and I have every hope that I shall shortly be
restored to favor at court, a matter, by the way, which I care for
very much more for the sake of my daughters than for myself. The
countess and I are well content with our life in the country, but the
girls naturally look forward to the gayeties of life at the capital.
Beside which," he added, laughing, "I must be looking for husbands for
them, and I fear that I should not find satisfactory suitors in this

Jack could not help glancing at Olga, for, with a midshipman's usual
inflammatory tendency, he was convinced that he was hopelessly in love
with that damsel. Olga colored, and then turned away, from which Jack
could gain no indication favorable or otherwise for his hopes.

The count now explained the plans that had been adopted for their
escape. "It would," he said, "seem the natural course to aid you, as
we have done the warder, by driving you far into the country. But the
descriptions of you are sure to be sent to every place within fifty
miles. I know no one to whom I could safely entrust you, and the
doctor says that it is impossible that our friend Dick should walk for
any distance for the next two or three days. The doctor has
fortunately received orders to-day to start at daybreak this morning
with a convoy going back to Sebastopol. No doubt the new commandant
had heard that he was prepared to give evidence at the court-martial
contradicting the governor's statement that you were prisoners on
parole, and therefore wished to get him out of the way. There are
several of my carts which have been requisitioned for the service, in
the convoy. I have here peasants' dresses for you. These you will put
on, and when the carts come along from the chateau half an hour before
daybreak it is arranged that you will take the places of two of the
drivers, who will at once return home. There will be no loading to do,
as the carts will be laden with flour for the army before they leave
to-night, so you will only have to go along with the others, and take
your places in the convoy. After starting the doctor will come along
the line, and seeing Dick limping, will order him to take his place in
one of the carts under his immediate charge, with medicines and
bedding for the hospitals. One driver more or less in a team of some
hundreds of wagons all following each other along a straight road will
not be noticed. So you will journey south for a week or so, until Dick
has thoroughly recovered his strength. You had then, we think, better
make to the west by the Odessa road. The doctor will take two
uniforms, there are plenty obtainable in the hospital, for you to put
on. You must of course run the risk of questioning and detection by
the way, but this cannot be avoided, and at least you will be beyond
the range of search from here, and will be travelling by quite a
different road from that which you would naturally take proceeding
hence. And now tell us all about your affair with the governor. We
have only so far heard his version of the affair, which of course we
knew to be false; but why he should have attacked you in the way he
did, we cannot quite understand."

Dick gave an account of the struggle and the causes which led to it,
owning himself greatly to blame for his imprudence in acquainting the
governor with his knowledge of his secret. He also gave full credit to
Jack for his promptness, not only in seizing the governor and so
saving a repetition of the blow, which would probably have been fatal,
but also in destroying the report and forged evidence of Paul before
interruption. The lads gained great credit with all for their
gallantry, and Katinka said, laughing, "It is wrong to say so, I
suppose, now he is dead, but I should like to have seen the count
struggling as Jack carried him along, like a little ant with a great
beetle." They all laughed.

"Oh, come now," Jack said; "there was not so much difference as all
that. He was not over six feet, and I suppose I am only about five
inches less, and I'm sure I was not much smaller round the shoulders
than he was."

"And now about your route," the count said. "You must not lose time.
Do you both quite agree with me that it would be next to impossible
for you to pass through the lines of our army and to gain your own?"

"Quite impossible," Dick agreed. "Jack and I have talked it over again
and again, and are of opinion that it could not be done even in
Russian uniforms. We should be liable to be questioned by every
officer who met us as to the reason of our being absent from our
regiment, and should be certain to be found out. We thought that it
might be possible to get hold of a fishing-boat, and sail down to join
the fleet. There would be of course the risk of being blown off the
shore or becalmed, and it would be difficult to lay in a stock of

"Besides," the count said, "there is no blockade at Odessa, and our
small war-steamers cruise up and down the coast, so that you would be
liable to capture. No, I am sure your best way will be to go by land
through Poland. There are still large bodies of troops to the
southwest, facing the Turks, and it would be better for you to keep
north of these into Poland. You can go as wounded soldiers on furlough
returning home; and, being taken for Poles, your broken Russian will
appear natural. I will give you a letter which the countess has
written to the intendant of her estates in Poland, and he will do
everything in his power."

"I would rather not carry a letter," Dick said, "for it would
compromise you if we were taken. It would be better, if I might
suggest, for the countess to write to him direct, saying that when two
persons arrive and give some pass-word, say, for instance, the names
of your three daughters, we shall not forget them, he is to give us
any help we may require."

This was agreed upon, and the party chatted until the count said that
it was time for them to dress. Going into another room, the boys clad
themselves in two peasant costumes, with the inseparable sheepskin
coat which the Russian peasant clings to until the full heat of summer
sets in, and which is, especially during a journey, invaluable. The
count then insisted upon their taking a bundle of rouble notes to the
value of 200 l., and upon their urging that they could have no possible
need of so much money, he pointed out that there was no saying what
emergencies might occur during their journey, and that after passing
the frontier they would require a complete outfit, and would have to
pay the expenses of their journey, either to England or the east,
whichever they might decide upon. They rejoined the party in the front
room just as a rumble of carts was heard approaching. There was a
hasty parting. Father, mother, and daughters kissed the midshipmen
affectionately. Jack squeezed Olga's hand at parting, and in another
minute they were standing in front of the door.

"Yours will be the last two carts," the count said.

When these arrived opposite the house the count stepped forward and
said a word to the drivers, who instantly fell behind, while the boys
took up their places by the oxen and moved along with the procession
of carts.



The start was accomplished. Many hundreds of carts were assembled in
the great square. A mounted officer and a small guard of soldiers had
formed across the road which they were to follow, and as soon as
daylight had fairly appeared he gave the word, and the carts began to
file off along the southern road, an account being taken of each cart,
as it passed out, by an officer on duty, to see that the number which
had been requisitioned were all present. No question was asked of the

As the driver of the first of those belonging to the count reported
twelve carts, each laden with thirty sacks of flour supplied by Count
Preskoff, the officer, seeing the number was correct, allowed them to
pass without further question. Dick found himself still extremely
weak, and could not have proceeded many hundred yards, if he had not
taken a seat on the cart behind his oxen.

After two hours' travelling there was a halt for a quarter of an hour,
and the doctor, passing along, spoke to Dick, and then walked with him
back along the line to the hospital carts which were in the rear. Here
Dick took his place among some bales of blankets, and another was
thrown over him, in such a way that his presence there would not be
suspected by any one riding past the cart. Upon the train proceeding
Jack took charge of the two carts. This was an easy task, the oxen
proceeding steadily along without deviating from the line, and
requiring no attention whatever beyond an occasional shout and a blow
of the stick when they loitered and left a gap in the line.

Alongside the drivers walked in groups of three or four, talking
together, and thus the fact that one of the wagons was without its
driver passed unnoticed. Alexis had told the count's serfs who
accompanied the carts that their master had arranged at the last
moment for hired men to take the places of two of their number, one of
whom had a wife sick at home, and the other was engaged to be married
shortly. He had also told them that it was their master's wish that
they should enter into no conversation with the strangers, as these
were from a northern province, and scarcely understood the southern

Accustomed to obey every command of their master without hesitation,
the serfs expressed no wonder even among themselves at an order which
must have appeared somewhat strange to them. It was the count's
pleasure, and that was sufficient for them. At the end of the day,
Dick rejoined his comrade, and assisted him to feed the oxen, who
required no further attention except the removal of the yoke, when
they lay down upon the ground and slept in their places. Dick brought
him a supply of cold meat and white bread, and a bottle of wine; and
the lads, choosing a place apart from the others, enjoyed their meal
heartily, and then, climbing up on to the top of their flour sacks,
wrapped themselves in their sheepskins and were soon sound asleep.

That evening a soldier brought a message to the officer in charge of
the escort, telling him that the two English prisoners had by the aid
of their warder effected their escape, bidding him search the convoy,
and keep a sharp lookout along the road and ordering him to give
information to all village and military authorities, and instruct them
to send messages to all places near, warning the authorities there not
only to keep a sharp lookout, but again to forward on the news; so
that in a short time it would be known in every village in the

In the morning, before starting, the officer in charge of the escort
rode along the line, examining every wagon carefully, asking the names
of the drivers, and referring to a paper with which he had been
furnished by the owners of the carts, at starting, giving the names of
the drivers. The head man of the party from Count Preskoff's responded
at once for the twelve men under him; and satisfied that the fugitives
were not in the convoy, the officer gave orders to proceed.

This time Dick was able to walk two or three miles before dropping
back to the hospital wagon. The next day he went still farther, and by
the end of a week announced himself to be as strong as ever, and the
doctor allowed that he could now be trusted to travel.

On this night they had halted at a point where a road, running east
and west, crossed the great road to the Crimea. Before starting, the
boys had a long chat with their friend the doctor, who furnished them
with military passes which he had procured from an officer. These
testified that Ivan Petrofski and Alexis Meranof, of the 5th Polish
Regiment, were proceeding home on sick-furlough.

The signature of the colonel was no doubt fictitious, but this
mattered but little. Jack inquired whether their absence in the
morning would not be likely to be remarked; but the doctor said that
the head of the party had been informed by Demetri that the two
strangers would only accompany them for a few days' march, and had
only been hired to satisfy the authorities that the right number of
men had been furnished, for the want of hands on the estate was now so
great owing to the heavy drain of conscripts to fill up the losses
caused by the war, that the count had been glad to retain the services
of the two who had been left behind. There was therefore to be no
remark concerning the disappearance of the new hands, but the others
were to take charge of their carts, and if possible the authorities
were to be kept unacquainted with the fact that their number was

The peasants' dresses were now exchanged for the uniforms of Russian
soldiers. Dick's head was wrapped in bandages, and his arm placed in a
sling. Jack's leg was also enveloped in bandages, the trousers being
slit up to the hip, and the sides loosely tied together by a piece of
string, and the doctor gave him a pair of crutches, the same as those
used in regimental hospitals.

"Now you will do," he said, surveying them by the light of a lantern.
"Many of the soldiers who have joined since the outbreak of the war
are mere boys, so your age will not be against you, only pray for a
time give up all idea as to the necessity of washing. The dirtier your
hands and faces, the better, especially if the dirt will hide your
clear healthy color, which is very unlike the sallow complexions
almost universal among our peasantry. And now, good-bye. I move about
too much to hope to receive any letter from you, but as you have of
course arranged with Count Preskoff to send him word when you have
safely crossed the frontier, I shall hear of you from him."

With many deep and hearty thanks for the kindness he had shown them,
the boys parted from him, and, setting their faces to the west, took
the road to Odessa. Jack carried his crutches on his shoulders, as
also the long strap which, when he used them, was to pass over his
neck, and down under his foot, keeping it off the ground.

They had made many miles before morning, and as they had retained
their sheepskin cloaks, which had been served out to many of the
troops, they were able to get a comfortable sleep under shelter of a
protecting wall. Five days' walking took them to Odessa. This town was
not upon the direct road, but they still clung to the hope of getting
away by sea.

On the journey they had met several bodies of troops and many convoys
of provisions and stores. Whenever they observed the former to be
approaching, they left the road, and sheltered themselves behind
bushes or inequalities of the ground at a distance from the road, as
they knew they would be liable to be questioned as to the state of
things at the front. They did not, however, go out of their way for
convoys, as they passed these with short salutations in reply to the
greetings or pitying remarks from the drivers. Their Russian was good
enough to pass muster when confined to short sentences of a formal
kind. Their hearts beat when, on passing over a rise, they saw the
blue water stretching out far before them, and they again debated the
possibility of seizing a boat. But the sight of two gun-boats steaming
slowly along the shore convinced them that the attempt would be an
extremely dangerous one.

Odessa is not a fortress, and the boys consequently entered it
unquestioned. The town was crowded with wounded and sick soldiers, and
their appearance attracted no attention whatever. In the principal
streets the lads saw many names of English firms over offices, and the
majority of the shops appeared to be kept by Frenchmen and Germans.
They walked down to the wharves and saw how great must have been the
trade carried on before the war. Now all traffic and business was at
an end.

The great foreign merchants interested in the corn trade had all left,
and many of the shops were closed.

The harbor was deserted, save that a score or two of brigs employed in
the coasting-trade, in the Black Sea lay moored by the wharves with
hatches battened down and deserted decks. A little farther out lay at
anchor two or three frigates and some gun-boats. Looking seaward, not
a single sail broke the line of the horizon.

Returning into the town, they went up some small streets, entered a
small eating-house, and asked for food, for the stock with which they
had started four days before had been exhausted the previous evening.
The landlord served them, and as they were eating he entered into
conversation with them.

"I suppose you have leave out of hospital for the day?"

"No," Dick said, "my comrade and I have got leave to go home to Poland
till our wounds are cured."

"Oh," the landlord said. "You are Poles. I thought you did not look
quite like our men; but you speak Russian well for Poles. There is a
regiment of your countrymen in the town now, and some of them come in
sometimes for a glass of brandy. They like it better than vodka;
curious, isn't it? Your true Russian thinks that there's nothing
better than vodka."

Rather disturbed at the intelligence that there was a Polish regiment
in the town, the boys hastened through their meal, and determined to
lay in a stock of bread and meat sufficient for some days'
consumption, and to leave Odessa at once. Just as they had finished,
however, the door opened, and a sergeant and two soldiers entered.

"Ah, my friend," the landlord said to the former. "I am glad to see
you. Are you come as usual for a glass of brandy? Real French stuff it
is, I promise you, though for my part I like vodka. Here are two of
your compatriots wounded; they have furlough to return home. Lucky
fellows, say I. There are thousands at Sebastopol would be glad to
change places with them, even at the cost of their wounds."

The sergeant strode to the table at which the lads were sitting, and,
drawing a chair up, held out his hands to them. "Good-day, comrades,"
he said in Polish. "So are you on your way home? Lucky fellows! I
would give my stripes to be in your place, if only for a fortnight."

Dick for a moment was stupefied, but Jack recalled to mind three
sentences which the countess had taught him and which might, she said,
prove of use to them, did they happen to come across any insurgent
bands in Poland; for vague reports were current, in spite of the
efforts of the authorities to repress them, that the Poles were
seizing the opportunity of their oppressors being engaged in war,
again to take up arms. The sentences were pass-words of a secret
association of which the countess's father had been a member, and
which were widely whispered among patriotic Poles. "The dawn will soon
be at hand. We must get up in the morning. Poland will yet be free."
The sergeant stared at them in astonishment, and answering in a low
tone in some words which were, the boys guessed, the countersign to
the pass, sat down by them. "But you are not Poles?" he said in a low
voice in Russian. "Your language is strange. I could scarce understand

"No," Jack said, in similar tones, "we are not Poles, nor Russians. We
are English, and England has always been the friend of Poland."

"That is so," the sergeant said heartily. "Landlord," he said, raising
his voice, "a glass of vodka for each of my friends. I fear that my
money will not run to brandy. And now," he said, when the landlord had
returned to his place, "what are you doing here? Can I help you in any

"We are English officers who have escaped, and are making our way to
Poland. We expect to find friends there. Do you know the intendant of
the Countess Preskoff at--?"

"Do I know him?" the soldier repeated. "Why, I belong to the next
village. I have seen him hundreds of times. And the countess, do you
know the countess?"

"Certainly we do," Jack said. "We have been living for six weeks in
her chateau, it is she who has written to the intendant to aid us."

"You will be welcome everywhere for her sake. She is a kind mistress,
and greatly beloved. It is a pity that she married a Russian, though
they say he is a good fellow. Tell me, can I do anything for you? Do
you want for money?"

"No, indeed," Jack replied. "The countess has taken care of that."

"Look here," the sergeant said. "I will give you a note to my brother,
who is a horse-dealer at Warsaw. It may be useful to you. He knows
every one, and if, as they say, there is trouble in Poland, he is sure
to be in the thick of it, and at any rate he will be able to give you
advice which may be useful, and addresses of safe people in different
towns to whom you can go. Landlord, give me some paper and pen and
ink. My comrades here know friends of mine at home, and will carry a
letter for me."

"Please be careful," Dick said, as the soldier began to write. "It is
possible we may be searched on the way; so do not say anything that a
Russian official might not read."

"Trust me," the sergeant answered, laughing. "We Poles have been
learning to conceal our feelings for generations. Trust me to write a
letter which my brother will understand at once, but which will seem
the most innocent thing in the world to any Russian official who may
read it."

In a few minutes the letter was finished, and the three left the place
together, the sergeant telling his comrades that he would return
shortly for them. He then accompanied the midshipmen, and did their
shopping for them, and, bidding him a hearty adieu, they were soon on
their way out of Odessa, Jack swinging along upon his crutches at a
fair pace. Once fairly away from the town, he took his foot from the
strap, shouldered his crutches and again they trudged along upon their

They found their walking powers improve day by day as they went on,
and were soon able to make thirty-five miles a day without
inconvenience. Travelling in this way, without any interruption or
incident save an occasional demand for a view of their passport by
some Russian official, they journeyed across the south of Russia, and
ten days after leaving Odessa they entered Poland.

Here they foresaw that their difficulties would be far greater than
before, and that their characters as Polish soldiers on their way home
could no longer be sustained. They took, therefore, the first
opportunity of purchasing two suits similar to those worn by Polish
peasants, and, entering a wood, dressed themselves in their new
attire, and, rolling their dirt-stained uniforms into a bundle, thrust
them into a clump of underwood. Into this Jack also joyfully tossed
his crutches and strap. Dick had long been able to dispense with his
sling, but the wound on his face was scarcely healed, and was still
angry-looking and irritable.

They now trudged steadily along, avoiding all conversation as much as
possible, and making their purchases only in a quiet villages. They
met many bodies of troops moving about the roads, and although they
could understand nothing of the language, and were wholly ignorant of
what was going on, they judged from the manner in which these troops
marched, by the advance guard thrown out in front, the strong
detachments which accompanied the baggage, and the general air of
vigilance which marked them, that the country was in a troubled state.

Once convinced of this, they took care to conceal themselves whenever
they saw troops approaching, as they feared that questions might be
addressed to them which they might find it difficult to answer. There
was the less difficulty in their doing this as the country was for the
most part thickly wooded, the roads sometimes running for miles
through forests. Upon one occasion, when, just as it was dusk, they
had gone in among the trees, having seen a Russian column moving along
the road, they were astonished at being suddenly seized, gagged, and
carried off through the wood. So suddenly had this been done, that
they had time neither to cry nor struggle.

After being carried some distance, they were thrown down on the
ground, and the men who had carried them hurried away. Just as they
did so there was a sudden outburst of musketry, mingled with loud
yells and shouts; then, after a moment's pause, came the rattle of a
rolling musketry fire. The first, Jack judged to be the fire of
insurgents upon the column; the second, that of the troops. For a
while the din of battle went on. Sharp ringing volleys, heavy
irregular firing, the fierce, wild shouts of the insurgents, and
occasionally the hoarse hurrah of Russian soldiery.

Presently the sounds grew fainter, and the lads judged by the
direction that the Russian column was falling back in retreat. Ere
long the sounds of firing ceased altogether, and in scattered knots of
three and four, men came through the wood to the wide open space in
which the midshipmen were lying bound. No attention was paid to them
for some time, until a large body of men were collected. Then the lads
were suddenly raised and carried to a large fire which was now-blazing
in the centre of the clearing. Here the gags were taken from their
mouths, and the cords unbound, and they saw confronting them a young
man evidently by his dress and bearing a person of rank and authority,
and, as they judged by the attitude of those standing round, the
leader of the insurgent band.

"Where do you come from, and what are you doing here?" he asked in

The boys shook their heads in token of their ignorance of the

"I thought so," he said angrily in Russian. "You are spies, Russian
spies. I thought as much when the news came to me that two peasants
had entered a village shop to buy goods, but had been unable to ask
for them except by pointing to them, and had given a rouble note and
allowed the woman who served them to take her own change. You are
detected, sirs, and may prepare for the death you deserve. Hang them
at once," he said in Polish, to those standing near. "But first search
them thoroughly, and see if they are the bearers of any documents."

The lads in vain endeavored to explain, but their voices were drowned
in the execrations of the angry peasants, fresh from the excitement of
the battle, and in many cases bleeding from bullet and bayonet wounds,
for the Polish peasants always rush to close quarters. Concealed in
Dick's waistband was found a heavy roll of Russian notes, and the yell
which greeted its appearance showed that it was considered
confirmatory of the guilt of the prisoners.

Upon Jack was found only the letter which the sergeant had given him
to his brother, the horse-dealer. This was taken to the leader, and he
opened and read it by the light of a blazing brand which one of his
followers held beside him. "Stop!" he shouted, after reading the first
line or two, to the men who were already hurrying the lads towards the
nearest tree. "Wait till I have read this through." He read it to the
end, and then beginning afresh again, went carefully through it.
"Bring the prisoners here," he said. "Young men," he went on, when the
lads were again placed before him, "there may be some mistake here.
This letter purports to be from a sergeant of the 12th Polish regiment
to his brother, Horni Varlofski. Now Varlofski is well known to many
of us. I do not know whether he has a brother a sergeant. Does any one
here know?"

Two or three of the men raised their voices to say that they knew that
Varlofski the horse-dealer had a brother who was drafted into the army
as a punishment for having struck a Russian sergeant in a brawl.

"This must be the man, then," the leader said. "The letter is written
carefully, apparently with a view to avoid any suspicion, should it be
opened and read by any but him for whom it is intended; but in fact it
contains assurances couched in language which I understand, that the
bearers are enemies of Russia and friends of Poland, and that every
confidence may be placed in them. Now, sirs, will you explain to me
how you, who speak no Polish come to be in the middle of the forest,
dressed as Polish, peasants, and the bearers of a letter such as

"We are English officers," Dick began, "who were taken prisoners at
Sebastopol, and have since escaped."

He then proceeded to explain the circumstances of their residence at
Count Preskoff's, of their recommendation to the intendant of the
countess's estates in Poland, of their acquaintance with the insurgent
pass-words, and their meeting with the sergeant at Odessa. When they
had concluded, the young leader held out his hand to them.

"Gentlemen," he said, "I ask your pardon for the roughness with which
you have been treated, and shall never forgive myself for having
without sufficient inquiry condemned you to death. It will be a lesson
to me never to judge by appearances in future. I knew the countess
well before her marriage. Her estates are but a few miles distant from
my own, and I last saw her some three years since, when she was there
with her husband and daughters. By the way," he said carelessly, "what
are their names?"

Dick instantly repeated them.

"Right," the Pole answered. "Pardon me this last test, but one cannot
be too particular when the lives of hundreds depend upon a mistake not
being made. I am satisfied now. Welcome, heartily welcome to our



A few words from the leader explained to his followers that the
new-comers were friends. Their money was instantly restored to them,
and those who a few minutes before were so eager to hurry them to
execution were profuse in their apologies and demonstrations of
respect. The Poles regarded England as a friendly power, and were
eagerly watching the war in the Crimea, hoping that the strength of
Russia would be so exhausted there that she would be obliged to weaken
her hold on Poland. So far, however, great as were the number of
troops that Russia had poured down to meet the Allies, she had in no
way weakened her hold upon Poland. Indeed even larger numbers of
troops than usual were massed in that country. The insurrection at
present going on was intended rather as a proof to Europe that Poland
yet lived, ground down though she was under the heel of Russian
tyranny, than as a movement from which success could be reasonably
hoped for.

The lads were now able to look round at the wild group which filled
the clearing. The greater portion were peasants, although the dress
and bearing of several proclaimed that they belonged to a superior
class. Some of the peasants were armed with guns, but these were quite
in the minority, the greater portion carrying scythe blades fastened
to long handles. These, although clumsy to look at, were terrible
weapons in a close onslaught, and the Russian soldiers could seldom be
kept firm by their officers when, in spite of their fire, the Polish
peasantry rushed among them. The Poles were in high spirits. Their own
loss had been small, and they had inflicted great slaughter upon the
head of the Russian column, and had gained a considerable number of
arms. A party which had attacked the rear of the column at the same
moment when the main body fell upon its head, had for a time obtained
possession of a wagon with spare ammunition, and had succeeded in
carrying off the greater part of it.

The leader of the party, having given orders to his men and seen that
the wounded were carried away on stretchers roughly formed of boughs,
either to their own villages, or when these were too distant, to a
collection of wood-cutters' huts in the heart of the forest, returned
and took a seat by the lads near the fire.

"We have not introduced ourselves yet," he said in Russian, laughing.
"My name is Stanislaus Chernatony."

Dick named himself and his comrades.

"Tell me now," the Pole said, "how you got here, and what are your

Dick in reply gave him a narrative of their adventures, and said that
they were making their way to the Austrian frontier.

"It would be absolutely impossible," the Pole said, "for you to
succeed in making your way in safety. Every town is full of Russian
troops, who are forever scouring the roads. It would be out of the
question for any one except a native to succeed in getting through,
and even a Pole would find difficulty, so strictly is every one
questioned. Of course their object is to prevent our bands from
increasing, and to capture any of us who may be returning to our
homes. We only manage to assemble by marching constantly in the woods
by paths known only to villagers. You would find it, too, a matter of
extreme difficulty to cross the frontier, even should you gain it, as
there is a perfect cordon of troops posted along the frontier, to
prevent any one from escaping. Once in Austria, you would be safe, but
you could not cross into Prussia, even if you succeeded in passing the
Russian troops stationed along that line; for Prussia, who is as harsh
a master to the Poles under her rule as is Russia, acts as policeman
for the latter, and turns all fugitives back who may cross the
frontier. At present I fear I can give you no assistance; but there is
a talk of a union of several of our bands further west, and in that
case you might travel with us, and we might pass you on, and see that
you had guides. For the present I can either lodge you in the village
where our wounded are now taken, and where it is not likely that the
Russians will find you, at any rate for the present; or if you like to
join us, I need not say how glad we shall be to receive you as
comrades. England has always been the friend of Poland and more than
one of your countrymen has fought in the Polish ranks. As England is
at war at present with Russia, you will be doing as much service by
fighting her here as in the Crimea. Here, too, you will have the
satisfaction that you are fighting for an oppressed people struggling
for freedom against tremendous odds."

The lads asked for twelve hours before giving a final answer, and
then, having shared the Pole's rough meal, they chatted with him for a
long time upon the progress and chances of the insurrection. The
Polish leader told them that there were a score of bands like his own
in the forests; but he admitted that he saw but little hope of final
success unless Russia were completely crippled in the war with England
and France.

"But," he said, "we in Poland do not rise only when we consider
success possible. We take up arms when we are goaded to it. When some
act of Russian tyranny more gross and brutal than usual goads us to
desperation, we take up arms to kill and to die. You know not the
awful persecution to which we Poles are exposed. Whole villages are
destroyed, and the inhabitants banished to Siberia; our young men are
taken and compelled to serve in the Russian army. Scores are shot
down, after a mockery of a trial, on the pretence of discontent with
Russian rule. Women, ay, and ladies, are publicly flogged. Priests are
massacred, our churches closed, our very language proscribed. Death is
a thousand times preferable to the living torture we undergo, and when
we at last rise, it is vengeance and death that we seek rather than
with any thought of finally freeing Poland from her oppressors. And
now," he said, "you will excuse me if I suggest that we follow the
example of my comrades, and turn off to sleep. We have marched fifty
miles since yesterday evening, and shall be off before daybreak

For half an hour after the Polish leader had rolled himself in his
cloak and gone off to sleep, the boys chatted together as to the
course they should adopt, and finally resolved to throw in their
fortunes with those of the Polish patriots. They saw that it would be
impossible for them to make their way on to the frontier alone, and
considered that their chance of life was no less if captured in action
by the Russians than if found in a village with a number of wounded
insurgents. The wrongs of Poland were in those days a subject which
moved men's hearts in England, and the midshipmen rejoiced at the
thought of striking a blow in so good a cause.

These were the reasons which, in talking the matter over, they
assigned to each other, but in reality their love of adventure and
excitement in no slight degree influenced them. To have taken part in
a real Polish insurrection, to join in guerilla attacks and fierce
onslaughts on Russian columns, to live a wild life in the woods, were
things that appealed strongly to the imagination of the midshipmen;
and in the morning they expressed to Stanislas Chernatony their
willingness to join him, and fight against the Russians until an
opportunity occurred for them to cross the frontier and rejoin the
forces before the Sebastopol.

"Good," the Pole said. "I am heartily glad to have two English
officers fighting under me. The warfare is of a kind very different to
that to which you are accustomed, but I can guarantee that you shall
see that we Poles, undisciplined, badly armed, and fighting a hopeless
battle, can yet die as bravely as your own trained soldiers in the
Crimea. We are now going back to the place we left the day before
yesterday, and which we regard as our headquarters. We had news that
the column we attacked was to set out, and as so far none of our bands
had visited this neighborhood, we thought we might take them by
surprise. We succeeded in doing them much damage, but our success was
not as great as that which we gained in our last fight, when we
succeeded in capturing two cannons. By the way," he said, "you as
marine officers, are accustomed to artillery."

"Yes," Dick replied, "we are drilled, not only with heavy ship's guns,
but with light field-pieces, of which every large vessel carries a few
to be used in case of a landing."

"Capital!" the Pole exclaimed. "We have not a man who has any idea of
artillery, and I will appoint you to the command of the guns. You
shall each pick out as many men as you require, and train them as
artillerymen. This will be an invaluable service to us."

Late at night they reached their halting-place. The guns had been
hidden in a thicket, every man having marched with his leader to the
attack of the column. The next morning thirty-six men were chosen,
eighteen to each gun, in order that the places of those who might be
killed could be filled at once, or, should some more pieces be taken,
men would be available already trained to the work.

For four days drill went on without intermission. The lads found the
Polish peasants very intelligent, although it was difficult for them
to understand why each movement should be performed with mechanical
regularity. At first, too, the boys' ignorance of Polish caused them
great difficulty; but Stanislas wrote down for them the translation of
the words of command, and the movements were taught by the boys
themselves performing them, and insisting upon their motions being
accurately imitated. They worked from morning till night, and by the
end of the fourth day were satisfied that their men could serve the
guns in a workmanlike and regular way.

The Poles themselves were delighted when they found how swiftly and
smoothly the work could be done now that they had mastered it, and
looked forward with anxiety to try the results upon the Russians. They
had not long to wait. In a short time friends from the next garrison
town brought the news that considerable bodies of fresh troops had
arrived there, and that an attack was to be made on the following day
by two heavy columns. Messengers were sent off at once, and during the
night the insurgents were joined by three other bands, raising their
numbers to nearly 1500 men. Stanislas told the lads that he intended
to move before daybreak, so as to attack one of the columns as soon as
it entered the forest, and while the other was too far away to arrive
at the scene of action until all would be over.

"I propose," he said, "to fell some trees across the road, arranging
them so that the guns can fire between them, while the trunks will
afford the gunners some shelter. Half the men will be arranged among
the trees on either side, so that while the guns sweep the column we
shall attack it upon either flank. I will place a hundred of my best
men at the barricade to defend the guns should the column press
forward in spite of our efforts; but I believe that we shall have an
easy victory. Our recent partial successes have considerably added to
our stock of arms, and as this is the first time that we have brought
cannon into play, we may rely upon their effect being considerable."

The lads begged that they might go forward with the party charged with
felling the trees, in order that they might choose the spot, and
themselves see to the construction of the defence. Stanislas chose one
of his lieutenants who spoke Russian, and, giving him 200 men, ordered
him to carry out the instructions of the lads. They set off an hour
before daylight, and just as the dawn began, arrived at the spot where
the struggle was to take place.

They selected a point where a rise of six feet afforded a view of the
road far in advance, and placed the guns just so far behind the trees
that while they would sweep the road, their muzzles only could be seen
by an advancing foe. Two large trees felled and stripped of their
boughs were placed across the road in front of the guns, being, when
placed, just high enough for the gunners to look over them. A strong
party were then set to work to cut sods, and with these an earthwork
was thrown up across the road, four feet high. Embrasures were left
for the guns, and these were made very narrow, as the fire would be
directly in front. On either side trees were felled with their boughs
outward, so as to form a chevaux-de-frise, extending at an angle on
each side of the road for fifty yards in advance of the guns.

Fifty of the men were to remain in the road in the rear of the guns,
in readiness to man the earthwork, should the Russians advance to take
it by storm, while the rest were to lie down behind the
chevaux-de-frise and to open fire upon both flanks of the advancing
column. A few green boughs were scattered on the road in front of the
battery, and the lads, going along the roads by which the Russians
would advance, were pleased to see that at a distance the work was
scarcely noticeable. Just as they had finished their preparations
Stanislas with the main body arrived, and all were greatly pleased at
the position which the boys had constructed. The guns and ammunition
wagons had been dragged along by ropes to which hundreds of the
peasants had harnessed themselves.

The Poles now took up the positions assigned to them for the attack.
Stanislas and his principal officers held a consultation with the
midshipmen, and it was agreed that the Russian column should be
allowed to approach near to the guns before these opened fire, and
that their doing so should be the signal for the general attack upon
the column. Half an hour later a peasant who had been placed near the
edge of the wood announced that the Russian column was in sight, that
so far as he could judge from his observations made from a tree-top,
it numbered about 2000 infantry, with a battery of artillery.

"That is just a fair match for us," Stanislaus said. "The 500 men
extra do not count for much, and their superiority of arms will be
counterbalanced by our advantages of surprise, and to the effect which
cannon brought against them for the first time may exercise on the
minds of the soldiers."

Presently along the straight road the black column of the enemy could
be seen. They were advancing in a heavy mass, some forty men abreast,
and were preceded at a distance of 300 yards by an advance guard of
200 men. When distant some 400 yards from them the midshipmen observed
the advance guard halt, and guessed that an obstacle of some sort or
other across the road had been made out. A mounted officer rode back
from the advance guard to the main body, and was there joined by
several other mounted men. After some conversation a movement was seen
in the column. A mounted officer rode back, and as he did so the
column divided, leaving a passage in the centre of the road.

There was a long pause, and then the lads could see the Russian guns
coming through the line. They halted and formed across the road
half-way between the main body and the advance guard, and,
unlimbering, prepared to open fire upon the unknown obstacle in their
front. The midshipmen had arranged with Stanislas that, as it would be
difficult for the parties on the flank of the Russian column to
distinguish between the sound of the enemy's guns and their own, a
white handkerchief should be hoisted on a long pole when they
themselves opened fire, and a chain of men were placed along back in
the wood to repeat the signal down to the spot where the Poles were
lying ready for attack.

The Russians opened fire over the heads of their advance guard, who
lay down in the road. The shot for the most part either struck the
slope or flew overhead, very few striking the upper part of the
battery face, which was alone exposed to their fire. For five minutes
the Russians continued to fire. Then, deceived by the absolute silence
which reigned, and supposing the obstacle was an accidental one, or
that the insurgents had retired, the guns were limbered up, the
advance guard again moved forward, and the main column marched on
close behind the guns.

The whole of the 200 men who had been placed behind the barricade were
armed with muskets, and each hidden behind the leafy screen rested his
piece on a branch, and prepared to pour his fire into the column as it
advanced. It was not until the advance guard was within fifty yards of
them that the lads, who had themselves trained the guns to sweep the
road, gave the signal, and the silence was broken by the roar of the
two guns loaded to the muzzle with grape-shot. The effect was
tremendous. Two lanes were literally mown through the ranks of the
Russian infantry, the shot which flew high doing terrible execution
among the artillery behind them.

The echoes had not died away when a tremendous fire of musketry was
opened by the Poles hidden behind the abattis. More than half of the
advance guard fell under that terrible discharge, and the artillery
crowded behind them fell into confusion.

The Russian officers strove by voice and example to gather the
survivors of the advance guard together; but the consternation which
the slaughter had caused was heightened by the sound of a tremendous
yell far behind, followed by a steady roll of musketry, showing that
the column was hotly engaged there also. The artillery attempted to
unlimber and to bring their guns to bear again, but the confusion that
prevailed in the crowded spot rendered this next to impossible, and
long before it could be accomplished the iron hail again swept through
the ranks, and two rattling volleys from their invisible foes behind
the flanking abattis again flashed out. The advance guard were
annihilated, the artillery in confusion, but the general commanding
the main column pushed his men on through the frightened horses of the
artillery, and, opening a heavy musketry fire on their unseen foes,
pressed forward to the assault.

The conflict now became a desperate one. The midshipmen fired their
guns alternately as fast as they could load, the Poles working as
steadily and coolly as if they had been long-trained artillerymen.
Several times the Russians advanced to within twenty yards of the
defences, but each time, shattered by the fire of grape-shot and by
the storm of bullets from the abattis, they recoiled. In vain they
flung themselves upon the trees and tried to hew a way through them.
In vain the officers called upon them to gather themselves together
and carry the battery at a rush. Receiving no aid from their own
artillery, which, mingled in the throng of infantry, were helpless,
shaken by the shouts of the assailants, and by the battle raging in
their rear which told them their retreat was menaced, the Russians
lost heart and began to fall back. Then, retaining only fifty men as a
guard to the battery, the midshipmen ordered the rest of the defenders
of the abattis to move forward among the trees on the flanks of the
Russians, keeping up a constant fire, until they joined the main body
in their attack on the Russian rear.

In the battery now they could see little of what was going forward.
The woods were full of dense smoke. The whole Russian column as it
fell back was maintaining a wild fire at random into the bushes around

But though the lads could see nothing, the road in front afforded them
a sure guide for their aim, and ceaselessly the guns kept up their
fire into the retreating mass of Russians.

For half an hour the roar of guns continued unabated, and then, as it
died away, the triumphant shouts of the Pole told them that the
victory was won, and that the Russian column, defeated and shattered,
had retired from the forest and gained the open country beyond. Then
the defenders of the battery raised an answering cheer to their
friends in the distance, and, exhausted with their exertions, threw
themselves on the ground.

Of those working the guns but three had been wounded by rifle bullets
which had passed through the embrasures.

Several of the riflemen had fallen shot through the head, as they
fired over the top of the battery, while thirty or forty lay killed
and wounded behind the abattis.

After a few minutes' rest the party advanced, and soon joined their
friends, who saluted them with loud acclamations. The victory had been
a complete one. The whole of the spare ammunition and stores had
fallen into the hands of the victors, upon overpowering the
rear-guard, had cut the traces and carried off the horses. The column
had made a sturdy resistance at this point, and although the desperate
onslaughts of the scythe-armed Poles had several times broken their
ranks and carried slaughter among them, they had yet stood firm, and
it was only the crushing of the head of the column, and its subsequent
retreat, which had at last decided the day.

For some hundred yards in front of the guns the ground was covered
with Russian dead. Most of the artillery horses had fallen, and but
two of the guns had been carried off the field. The loss of the enemy
in killed and wounded left upon the ground amounted to nearly 800, and
the wounded were all killed as soon as discovered by the infuriated

Of the Poles some 250 had been put _hors-de-combat_. The delight of
the insurgents was unbounded. It was by far the most important victory
which they had won. They had now come into possession of sufficient
muskets to arm the whole body, and an abundant supply of ammunition,
and had in all a complete battery of artillery, with enough horses,
taken from the wagons, to give two to each gun, and leave a sufficient
number for the ammunition wagons. The two midshipmen received the
warmest thanks of the Polish leader, who attributed his success
entirely to the slaughter which the guns had wrought, and to the
dispositions taken for their defence.



A consultation was held on the evening of the battle. As was the
custom of the Polish peasants after a success, many wished to return
for a while to their homes and families. Several plans were proposed
among the group of officers, and the leader asked the young midshipmen
for their opinion.

Dick said that in his ignorance of the circumstances and the geography
of the country he could offer none; but Jack, on being appealed to,

"It seems to me that you will never do any good if you confine
yourselves to beating back a Russian column occasionally, and then
dispersing until they again advance. My opinion is that it is
absolutely necessary to follow up the victory we have gained, and to
do something which will induce the whole country to believe that there
is a prospect of success. We have gained a very fair victory to-day. I
propose that while the men are all in high spirits, and the Russians
proportionately depressed, we take the offensive and fall upon one of
their garrisons. Hitherto, as you say, you have always contented
yourselves with attacking the columns sent out against you, and the
Russians will be altogether unprepared for an attack on them in their
own quarters. If we fall suddenly at night upon Piaski, we ought to
succeed in nearly annihilating them. There are about 1200 men of the
column whom we have fought, and about 2000 in the other column which
marched out against us this morning, but fell back when they heard of
the defeat of their comrades. It is probable that pretty nearly the
whole force in the town came out, so that altogether there cannot be
above 2500 men. If we can fall upon them at night, we ought to be able
to defeat them easily. At any rate before they rally we should inflict
tremendous damage upon them."

Jack's proposition was received with acclamation, and it was decided
that the attack should take place on the following night. The officers
therefore went among the men, and appealed to them to remain for
another forty-eight hours, in order that they might annihilate the
garrison of Piaski.

The men assented, the more readily that abundant supplies of bread and
spirits had been found in the captured wagons, the Russian commander
having deemed it probable that the expedition might extend over a
period of some days.

The next morning all were instructed in the use of the Russian
muskets, many of the peasants being wholly unacquainted with the
management of fire-arms. It was arranged that each peasant should, in
addition to his gun, carry his scythe, his favorite weapon for close

When night came on all was ready for the march. The bands were to
advance separately, each under orders of its own leader, and were to
unite in the market-place as the clock struck one. There were three
barracks, and a certain proportion were told off for the attack of
each. Three of the guns were hidden in the forest. The other three,
each drawn by four horses, accompanied the column, the duty assigned
to them being to blow in the gates of the several barracks. Coarse
grass was cut and swathed round the wheels, and the horses' feet were
also muffled. The peasants were all clad in sandals, and there was
therefore no fear of the noise of their advance being heard.

At nine o'clock the column set out for the town, which was nine miles
distant, and upon nearing it separated, so as to enter as arranged in
different directions. Each column was preceded at a distance of some
hundred yards by four or five men, chosen for their activity, their
duty being to seize and silence any watchmen they might meet in the

The town seemed absolutely asleep when the band of Stanislas, with
which for the time were the three cannon, entered it a few minutes
before one.

Once the lads thought that they could hear a stifled cry, but if so it
attracted no attention, for the streets were deserted, and not a
single window opened as they passed. The other hands had already
arrived in the market-place when that commanded by Stanislas reached

A few words were exchanged by the leaders, a gun told off to each
column, and the bands started to their respective destinations. The
contingent of Count Stanislas, to which Jack Archer was attached with
his gun, was intended to attack the principal barrack. This was built
in the form of a large quadrangle, and contained some seven or eight
hundred infantry and a battery of artillery.

As the head of the column entered the street leading to the gate, a
sentry on the outside challenged. No answer was made, and a moment
later a gun was fired.

There was no longer any need for concealment, and with a wild cheer
the column rushed forward. Some of the men threw themselves with axes
upon the postern gate, which the sentry had entered and closed behind

The gun, which was close to the head of the column, was brought up and
placed in position within a few feet of the gate, its muzzle directed
towards the lock. The explosion tore a hole in the gate, but a massive
bar still kept this in its place. Another discharge broke this also,
and the Poles with exulting shouts surged in.

As they entered, a scattered fire opened upon them from the windows,
but, without pausing, the band broke up into parties, each under its
chief, and rushed at the entrances leading to the staircases.

Then ensued a desperate conflict. The Russians, taken wholly by
surprise, appalled by the suddenness of the attack, and knowing the
ferocity with which their assailants fought, in some cases offered but
slight resistance, and leaped by scores from the windows at the back,
preferring the risk of death or broken limbs to awaiting the rush of
their enemies. Others defended themselves desperately, gathering on
the top of the stairs, barring the doors, and resisting foot by foot
until every man had been cut down.

The absence of their officers, who were quartered together in a
different part of the barracks, proved fatal to the defenders;
accustomed to act like machines, and to move only at the command of
their officers, they were bewildered at finding themselves under such
circumstances without head or direction, and in ten minutes after the
entry had been effected all resistance had ceased, and the barracks
remained in the hands of the victorious Poles.

The instant that his own part of the work was done, Jack Archer, with
a band of fifty men who had been told off to act under his orders,
proceeded to the stables. The artillery horses were all brought out
and harnessed to the guns and wagons, and by the time that the
resistance had ceased these were ready to depart.

The Poles, taking the muskets of the Russian soldiers, and lading
themselves with blankets and such other articles as they fancied,
swarmed out into the courtyard. In the store-rooms of the barracks
were found large quantities of uniforms ready for issue to the troops,
and a number of these Count Stanislas ordered to be brought out and
stowed in an empty wagon.

Three minutes later the barrack was set on fire in a dozen places.
Then the newly-captured artillery started at a trot for the forest,
while the Poles moved away to render any assistance which might be
necessary to the other columns.

The division to which Dick Hawtry was attached had experienced a
success as complete as that which attended the principal column, and
the flames were already rising in the air as the latter issued into
the town.

The other barrack was, however, successfully defending itself. It was
supposed that some watchman must have conveyed the news of the advance
of the insurgents, for the instant the column appeared within sight of
the barracks a musketry fire was opened upon it by the guard at the
gate, and two or three minutes later every window bearing upon it was
thrown up, and the Russian infantry opened a heavy fire. The gunners
in vain attempted to bring up their piece close to the gate. The
horses had been shot down, but scores of willing hands pushed forward
the gun; but so heavy was the destruction which the Russian bullets
wrought among them that these also were brought to a standstill, and
when Count Stanislas arrived he found that a furious musketry
encounter was raging between the Poles, now scattered all round the
barrack, and the Russians pouring from the upper windows. After a
hasty consultation with the other leaders, it was agreed that as the
victory had been complete so far, two out of the three barracks
carried and burnt, 1500 Russians killed, and a battery of artillery
taken, it would be a pity to risk a final repulse by an attack upon a
building which, now that the garrison were prepared for resistance,
could only be carried with a great loss of life.

The horns were accordingly sounded, and the assailants drawn off, and
the column marched through the town, now illuminated by the flames of
the two burning barracks. It was but half an hour since the attack had
begun, but the appearance of the town had changed as if by magic.
Every house was lit up, every window open, crowds of people thronged
the streets, while the windows were filled with women and children.
All were delirious with delight, and cheered, shouted, and waved their
handkerchiefs as the patriot band marched along. Not a few of the
younger men, bidding a hasty adieu to their friends, joined the ranks
of their countrymen, and, seizing one of the captured muskets,
prepared to take a part in the strife which had been so well begun.

Upon gaining the forest a halt was ordered. Great fires were lit, and
the companies mustered, when it was found that some eighty of those
present had received wounds, and that forty had fallen. All the
wounded unable to walk had been carried off, as to leave them where
they fell would be to expose them to certain death when found by the
Russians. A plentiful supply of spirits had been found in the stores,
and several barrels brought off. An ample allowance was now served
out, and after an hour's carouse in honor of the victory the band,
fatigued by their exertions, went off to sleep.

In the morning the guns--now amounting to two complete batteries--were
taken some miles farther into the forest. The greater part of the band
insisted upon returning to their homes for a few days, and their
leader, finding himself powerless to resist the determination gave
them leave to do so. All agreed to return at the end of ten days. Some
400 men remained, and from these the count requested the midshipmen to
choose a sufficient number to constitute two batteries, each eighty
strong, and to drill them as far as possible in the interval. He
himself started to visit his estates, which lay about eighty miles
from their present position. Here he hoped to raise a further
contingent of men, and all who went home were bidden to bring back
fresh recruits, and to spread everywhere the news of the victory.

Six days elapsed, and the band in the forest had already been
increased by many hundreds of new-comers, whom the news of the
successes which had been gained had induced to take up arms, and the
time of the various leaders was fully occupied in giving some notion
of drill and of the use of the musket to the new levies.

On the evening of the sixth day a peasant arrived with intelligence
which spread dismay in the encampment. Count Stanislas had been
captured by the Russians, having been surprised by a body of Russian
cavalry, who, doubtless by means of a spy, had obtained news of his
return home. He had been conveyed to Lublin, where he would doubtless
be at once tried and executed.

A council of the leaders was hastily summoned.

Lublin was a large town garrisoned by some 5000 Russian troops, and
even had the whole of the insurgent bands been collected, they would
not have been strong enough to attempt a repetition of their late
successful surprise, especially, as after that occurrence, the Russian
troops would be everywhere on the alert.

All agreed that the loss of their most successful leader would be a
death-blow to the revolt in that part of the country. The personal
popularity of the young leader was immense, and the prestige which he
had won by his several successes had excited the greatest confidence
among his followers. So important was his life considered that the
midshipmen urged that at all costs his rescue should be attempted, and
although the enterprise appeared a desperate one, their proposal was
finally agreed to.

A few men were at once despatched to Lublin to find out what was going
on, and when and where the execution would take place, while 500
chosen men prepared to march through the forests to a point within a
few miles of the town, where the spies were to rejoin them.

Just as they were starting the idea struck Dick that the Russian
uniforms might be utilized, and, much to their disgust, half the party
were ordered to dress themselves in the hated garb. The transformation
was soon effected, and the band set out on their march.

Upon the third evening they arrived at the indicated spot, where
several of the spies were already awaiting them. These informed them
that the trial would take place on the following day, and that it was
generally supposed that the count would be executed the next morning
as there could be no doubt what the finding of the court would be.

Next day the midshipmen, accompanied by several of the leaders, all in
peasants' dress, visited the town to learn its general features, and
make themselves acquainted with the approaches to the great square,
where it was considered probable the execution would take place. They
found the whole population moody and depressed. The news of the
successes of the patriot bands had already spread far and wide, and
had excited high hopes in every Polish breast. The fact, then, that
the most successful leader was in the hands of their enemies had
spread universal grief and consternation. After learning all the
particulars they desired, the party rejoined their friends in the
forest. The greatest difficulty existed from the fact that it would be
impossible for the rescuing party to carry either muskets or their
long scythes. Some twenty revolvers had fallen into their hands in the
two fights, and with these the officers had all armed themselves. A
certain portion of the men cut long sticks, like ox-goads, made to fit
the bayonets; others fitted short handles to their scythes, while
others carried short heavy sticks, to which again bayonets were
fitted. A hundred of those dressed as soldiers were to carry their
muskets, and, under the orders of one of their leaders, to march
boldly down the street, so timing their arrival as to reach the square
just at the time at which the execution was to take place, while the
rest were to mix with the crowd.

Late at night the news was brought to them that proclamations had been
posted through the town, saying that the execution would take place at
eight in the morning in the grand square. Orders had been issued, it
was learnt, that 1000 troops should be present, and the others were
ordered to be in readiness in their barracks, in case any sign of
popular feeling should be manifested. As it was evident, therefore,
that no soldiers in uniform would be loitering in the street, it was
determined that the 250 men so dressed should march together to the
square with their arms.

In the morning the insurgents, in twos and threes, started for the
town, and joined the town's-people assembling in the great square.
Across the square, within thirty or forty paces of one side, was
formed up a strong battalion of Russian infantry, the rest of the
square being occupied by the town's-people, all of whom had attired
themselves in mourning. In the centre of the square, behind the
soldiers, a scaffold had been erected, as by the sentence of the
court-martial the count was to die by hanging.

The midshipmen and their friends made their way through the crowd to
the front, the latter giving way upon a whisper being circulated that
an attempt was to be made to rescue the prisoner, and the 250
insurgents were soon gathered in a close body in front of the soldiers
standing before the scaffold. Each man had his scythe or bayonet
hidden under his long coat, the leaders grasping their pistols. The
men had been ordered to refrain from any expression of excitement, and
to assume, as far as possible, a look of quiet grief. Behind the
infantry were a number of mounted officers, among whom General
Borodoff, the governor of the town and district, was pointed out to
the midshipmen, and near the general, under a strong guard, the
prisoner was standing. All the insurgents, with the exception of those
forming the first line, quietly fitted their scythes and bayonets to
the handles and waited the signal.

Presently there was a movement behind the troops, who were drawn up
six deep. Then a man was seen mounting the scaffold followed by the
priest, behind whom came the prisoner between two warders. Just at
this moment there was a stir in the crowd at the end of the square,
and over the heads of the people a line of glittering bayonets could
be seen coming down the street. The general looked in that direction
with surprise, and immediately gave orders to a mounted officer beside
him, who, passing through the line of soldiers, tried to make his way
through the crowd. This, however, either from its denseness or an
unwillingness to move from the place it had gained, made way for him
but slowly, in spite of his angry shouts to the people to clear a way.



Upon one side of the lane which the fugitives had entered ran a high
wall. Upon the other was a very large mansion. Its lower windows were
five feet from the ground. As the lads ran they saw an open window.
Without a moment's hesitation they placed their hands on the sill,
threw themselves into it, and flung down the window. There was a
scream as they entered, followed by an exclamation in English. The
boys looked round, and saw a young lady who had started back in terror
to a corner of the room.

"Are you English?" Jack exclaimed in astonishment. "We are English
officers escaping from a Russian prison. In heaven's name do not
betray us!"

As he spoke the Russian cavalry came along the lane at full gallop.

"I am English," the young lady said, as she recovered from her
astonishment, "I am governess to the younger daughters of the
governor. You are now in his palace. But what has taken place? I heard
the firing and went to the window to listen."

"We have been aiding in the rescue of a Polish leader who was to have
been executed this morning," Dick said. "We succeeded in that, but
were attacked and cut up afterwards, and had to scatter. I fear that
they will suspect we must have entered this place, for they were close
behind us, and there was no other escape possible. Can you conceal us?
It seems almost like a miracle finding an English lady here."

"A great many of the Russian nobility have English tutors or
governesses, and although some went back to England at the beginning
of the war, the greater number have remained quietly at their work. I
fear that the whole palace will be searched if it is suspected that
you have taken refuge here. How imprudent of you to have mixed
yourselves up in this rebellion!"

"We could hardly help ourselves," Jack said, "but it is too late to
discuss that now. Will you look out of the window and see if the lane
is empty? If so, we had best make off without delay."

The young lady went to the window.

"No," she replied at once, "there is a soldier on horseback a few
yards to the right."

"Don't open the window, then," Jack said. "They have evidently put a
line of patrols along the lane. We must not get you into trouble," he
continued, turning towards her. "If you will show us the way, we will
go at once and give ourselves up."

"Oh, no," the lady exclaimed. "That must not be. But where can I hide
you?" and she stood for a minute or two thinking. "I think the safest
place of all," she said at last, "the only place where you would have
a chance of escaping, if a search is made, is in the general's own
writing-room. It is very bare of furniture, but there are heavy
curtains to the windows. No one would think of searching that room,
and the chances are that no one will go near the windows."

The lads agreed that the plan was a good one, and the young lady
hurried away to see if the room, which was not far from her own, was
still empty. She returned in a minute, and beckoned to them to follow
her. They soon arrived at a room which was simply furnished with a few
chairs and an armchair placed at a table. Across the two windows hung
heavy curtains, and behind these the midshipmen took their places, the
curtains extending far enough beyond the windows for them to stand
between them and the walls; so that any one going to the windows would
not necessarily see them. Then leaving them with many injunctions to
remain quiet, and with a promise to return at the end of the day and
release them, she left, being, she said, due with her pupils at nine

For half an hour the boys conversed in low tones with each other as to
their chances of escape. Then footsteps were heard, and the governor
entered, followed by several officers. He took his seat at the table.

"If," he said to one of them, "your report, that you were so short a
distance behind these men that it was impossible they could have
reached the end of the lane before you entered it, be correct, it is
clear they must have taken refuge here. You did quite right to place a
cordon all round the palace. Write an order at once for the chief of
police to send down twenty men to search the house thoroughly from top
to bottom. Let them visit every room, not excepting even the
apartments of my wife and daughters. You say that they were most
conspicuous in the attack upon your cavalry, and I myself observed two
very young men leading the attack upon the infantry. Well, sir,"
turning to another officer, "what is your report of the losses?"

"Two hundred and three of the cavalry have been killed, sir. There are
only ten wounded. One hundred and sixty-three infantry killed, and 204
wounded. We have found the bodies of 133 armed men, who were killed
either in the square or in the pursuit, and 97 bodies, apparently
those of town's-people in the square."

"Put them all down as insurgents," the general said. "They are
traitors and rebels, the whole brood. Let strong bodies of infantry
patrol the streets. Order all shops to be shut and the inhabitants to
keep within doors, and let a body of troops be placed at the disposal
of the chief of police for a search from house to house. Some of these
scoundrels may be hidden in the town."

All day, officers, the bearers of reports, or who came to receive
orders, entered and left the room, among them the chief of police, who
reported that he had searched the palace from top to bottom, without
the omission of a single room, and had failed altogether to find any
traces of the fugitives.

"If they entered, they must be somewhere," said the general. "Let a
close cordon be kept around the house all night, with orders to shoot
down any one they may see leaving it. To-morrow you will repeat your
search of the house. If they are here, they must be found."

The hours seemed intolerably long to the lads, standing upright and
motionless against the wall. No one approached their hiding-place. At
four o'clock the general gave orders that his horse and escort should
be at the door, and a few minutes afterwards he went out, and the room
was left deserted. The midshipmen were now able to stand in easier
positions, but they did not venture to leave their hiding-places, in
case any one should suddenly return. The hours passed slowly on, and
it was nine o'clock before the door opened. It closed again, and a
voice asked in low tones whether they were still there.

The lads joyfully replied that they were.

"Follow me, then," she said, "as quietly as you can. There is no one

They were soon in the room where they had first entered. The curtains
were drawn, and candles burning on the table.

"You are safe here," the lady said. "I have just dined with my
charges, and my duties are over for the day. No one is likely to
disturb us here. This is my private sitting-room. My bedroom is next
door. If any one is heard coming, you must hide there. I will go in at
once and change my dress for a dressing-gown, and I can then lock the
door; so that if any one comes, there will be time for you to go in
there, and when I open it, and say I am preparing for bed, it will
account for the door being locked."

She did as she had said, and then produced from a cupboard a box of
biscuits and a decanter of wine, which she placed before them.

"You must be starving," she said. "I am sorry that I have nothing more
to offer you, but it was impossible for me to get any food. I have
been thinking all day," she went on, as the boys fell to at the
biscuits, "how you are to be smuggled out; I can only think of one
plan, and that is a fearfully dangerous one. But I do not know that it
is more so than your continued stay here. The palace is to be searched
to-morrow afternoon again, even more strictly than to-day, and that
was strict enough. They turned every room topsy-turvy, opened every
closet, and not only looked under the beds, but pulled the beds to
pieces, to assure themselves that nobody was hidden within them. I
hear that the general says that he is so convinced that you are here
somewhere, that he will keep the soldiers round the house, and search
it every day till you are found, if it is a month hence. Consequently,
great as is the risk of the plan I have thought of, it is scarcely as
great as that of remaining here."

The midshipmen expressed their willingness to try any plan, however
desperate, rather than remain day after day standing in the governor's
room, with the risk of betrayal by a cough or other involuntary

"This is my plan, then. The governor's eldest daughters are women as
old as myself. They are tall and stout, and as far as figure goes I
think you might pass in their places. They go out for a drive every
morning. I have this afternoon slipped into their rooms and have
borrowed two of their dresses, mantles and bonnets. Fortunately they
usually wear veils. They do not generally go to dress until the
carriage is at the door, and I propose that you shall boldly walk down
and take their places. Of course, the risk is dreadful, but I really
see no other chance for your escape. What do you say?"

The midshipmen at once agreed to make the attempt, and were soon
dressed in the clothes which their friend had brought them. Walking
about the room, she gave them lessons in carriage and manner, imitated
herself the air with which the general's daughters bowed to the
officers as they saluted them as they passed, and even gave them
instructions in the tone of voice in which they should order the
driver to take the way to the public promenade. At length she
pronounced that they ought to pass muster at a casual inspection, and
then, bidding them good-night, she retired to her own room, while the
lads were soon asleep, the one on the couch, the other on the

At seven o'clock their friend, who had told them that her name was
Agnes Sinclair, came into the room dressed, unlocked the door, and
then led them into her bedroom, as she said that at half-past seven
the servants would come to do up the sitting-room, light the fire, and
prepare breakfast.

"I am my own mistress," she said, "till nine o'clock, and as the
servants do not go into my bedroom till I have gone to my pupils, you
will be quite safe. You must have some more biscuits for breakfast,
for I am a very small eater, and it would not do were it noticed that
a greater quantity of food than usual had disappeared."

The boys were now again dressed in the clothes prepared for them, and
this time put on gloves which Miss Sinclair had also brought, and into
which it needed all the boys' efforts to pass their hands. Fortunately
the bonnets of the time completely enveloped the head, concealing the
back half, and coming well forward over the face, and when the veils
were dropped Miss Sinclair said that unless she had known the truth,
she should not have suspected the deception.

When the servant knocked at the door, and said that breakfast was
ready, the governess left them, and presently returned, bringing them
the biscuits.

"Now," she said, "in a quarter of an hour the carriage will be at the
door. It always comes punctually at nine. From the window of the
opposite room I can see when it arrives. Now, you quite understand?
You walk straight along this passage. At the end is a wider one to the
right, which will take you into the great hall. Here there will be
several servants, and perhaps some officers standing about. All will
bow as you pass through them. You are to bow slightly as I have shown
you. If any of the officers come up to speak, as is possible, though
not likely, for none of high enough rank to do so are likely to be
there so early, answer only in a word or two in the voice you
practised last night. Two servants will show you into the carriage. As
you take your seats, you will say to the coachman, 'To the promenade.'
After that you must do as you judge best. There is one drawback, I
forgot to tell you, an escort of two soldiers always rides fifty or
sixty yards behind the carriage."

"So that we once get through the town," Jack said, "we shan't care
much for the two soldiers, for we still have our revolvers. Now you
promise, Miss Sinclair, that when you come to England you will let our
people know. We have given you the addresses. They will want to thank
you for our escape if we get away, and for your kindness even if the
worst comes to the worst. I do hope that there is no possibility of a
suspicion falling upon you about the missing dresses."

"Oh, no," Miss Sinclair said, "I'm sure no one saw me go to their
rooms, and it will be supposed that you were hidden somewhere there,
and have taken them yourselves. I shall make the things you have taken
off into a bundle, slip into a room close to theirs, and throw them
under a bed. If it were known that you are English, it is possible
that some suspicion might fall upon me. As it is, there is no reason
why I more than any one else should have been concerned in the matter.
Now, it is just nine o'clock. I will go across into the other room,
and look out. Fortunately it is unoccupied."

Three minutes later she returned.

"It is at the door," she said. "Wait two or three minutes. I will go
straight now, hide your clothes, and take my place with my pupils as
usual. I am always punctual to the minute."

With another word or two of thanks the boys said good-bye to her, and
Miss Sinclair at once went on her way with a final warning, "Be sure
and be leisurely in your movements. Do not show the least haste. Peep
out before you start, so as to be sure there's no one in this passage,
as otherwise you might be seen coming from this room."

The boys waited another minute or two, and then, seeing that the
passage was clear, moved along it, walking slowly and stiffly as they
had been directed, with short steps and gliding movement. Both had
their pistols in their pockets ready to hand, as they were resolved to
be killed rather than taken. Fortunately there was no one in the next
passage into which they turned, and they reached the grand hall
unnoticed. Here were a number of servants and officers, who bowed
deeply on perceiving, as they supposed, the daughters of the governor.
Two servants threw open the grand door, and an official preceded them
to the carriage. The boys bowed slightly and passed on. No one
accosted them, and they took their seats in the carriage with the
deliberation and dignity which had been impressed upon them. The
official spread a bear-skin rug over their knees, and demanded which
way they would go.

Jack replied, "To the promenade." The carriage--which was an open
one--proceeded on its way at a rapid pace, and the boys' hopes rose
higher and higher. They had not gone far when they heard a horse's
hoofs behind them, and, turning round, saw an officer galloping

"Keep steady, Jack," Dick whispered.

When the officer reached the side of the carriage he reined in his
horse, and took off his cap. "Ladies," he said, "his excellency the
governor saw you drive away, and ordered me to ride after you, and
tell you that he did not know you were going out, and that he
considered it more prudent for you to remain at home for a day or two
until the excitement of the late events has cooled down."

"Thank you," Dick said in his best Russian, and speaking in a feigned
voice. "Will you tell my father that we will return in a few minutes?
Drive on," he said to the coachman.

The officer sat for a minute looking after them, for something in the
accent with which Dick spoke seemed strange to him, but being
fortunately unacquainted with the ladies of the general's family, he
suspected nothing wrong. It was evident to the boys, however, that the
coachman was struck with the sound of the voice, as he rapidly spoke
to the man sitting next him, and the latter once or twice endeavored
privately to glance back.

They had now reached the promenade, which, owing to the governor's
order that all inhabitants should keep their houses, was entirely
deserted, except by a few Russian officers walking or riding. These
all saluted as the general's carriage passed them. On reaching the end
of the drive the coachman was about to turn, when the lads jumped to
their feet, and commanded him to stop. The coachman looked round
astonished, but at the sight of two pistols pointed at their heads, he
and his fellow-servant, with a cry of alarm and astonishment, leaped
from the box. Jack in an instant scrambled over and seized the reins.
The soldiers had halted upon seeing the carriage stop, and remained
stupefied with astonishment as they saw the two servants leap off, and
one of the ladies climb into their seat. Nor did they move until the
servants, running up hastily, explained what had happened. Then,
putting the spurs into their horses, they galloped forward. Dick, who
was looking back, saw at the same moment several horsemen at full
gallop appear at the other end of the promenade.

"The general has found out the trick, Jack," he said. "Keep them going
steadily and steer straight. I can answer for those fellows behind.
They can't be sure yet what's up."

As the soldiers approached, Dick leaned his pistol on the back of the
carriage and took a steady aim, and when they were within twenty
yards, fired, aiming at the head of one of the horses. In an instant
there was a crash, and the horse and rider were on the ground. The
other soldier at once reined up his horse, bewildered at what had
happened, and not knowing even now that the carriage was not occupied
by the general's daughters.

"That's right, Jack," Dick said. "We have got nearly half a mile start
of the others, and the forest is, Miss Sinclair said, scarce three
miles away. Let them go it, but be sure you steer straight."

The horses were now tearing along at a furious gallop. Presently
another long, straight bit of road enabled them to see their pursuers
again. The horsemen had been increased in number by the officers who
had been riding in the promenade, and were now some twenty in number.
Of these, at least half whose helmets glistening in the sun showed
Dick that they were soldiers, had already fallen in the rear, the
others had gained upon them considerably. They were now, however,
fully half way to the forest.

"That's right, Jack, keep them going," Dick said, as Jack flogged the
animals to their highest speed. "We shall have plenty of time to get
away into the wood before they come up, only for goodness' sake keep
us straight."

When they reached the forest their pursuers were still some hundreds
of yards in the rear. Checking the horses where the underwood was
thickest, the midshipmen leaped out, gave a parting lash to the
horses, which started them again at full speed, and then dashed into
the thicket.

Any one who had seen them would have been astounded and amused at the
spectacle of two fashionably-dressed ladies dashing recklessly through
the thick brushwood. After a quarter of an hour's run they paused
breathless. Jack dashed his bonnet to the ground.

"For goodness' sake, Dick!" he said, shaking off his mantle, "unhook
the back of my dress, and let me get rid of the thing. I used to laugh
at my sisters for not running as fast as I could. Now I wonder how on
earth they manage to run at all."

Their borrowed finery was soon got rid of, and in their shirts and
trousers the boys proceeded. Presently they came suddenly upon four
peasants seated on the ground, who upon seeing them leaped to their
feet and greeted them with signs of vehement joy, making signs to them
to follow them, and presently led them to a spot where the remains of
the insurgent band were gathered. A shout greeted them as soon as they
were recognized, and Count Stanislas, running forward, threw his arms
round their necks and embraced them, while the other leaders crowded

"It is indeed happiness to see you again," the count said. "We feared
you had fallen into the hands of the Russians. I sent spies last night
into the town, but they brought back word that the streets were
absolutely deserted, and they dared not enter. I resolved to wait for
a day or two until we could hear with certainty what had befallen you.
Now tell us all that has happened."

The midshipmen recounted their adventures, saying that they had
remained concealed in the very writing-room of the governor, and
giving full details of their escape dressed as his daughters; saving
only the part which Miss Sinclair had played, for they thought that in
case any of the band fell into the hands of the enemy, they might
under the influence of the torture, which the Russians freely
administered to their captives, reveal all that they had heard. They
then inquired what were the count's intentions.

"I shall move farther west," he said, "and after gathering my old band
together, move to join some others, who I hear have been doing good
work in that direction. We shall not be far from the frontier; and,
much as I shall regret to lose you, I will, if you wish it, lead a
party to the frontier, and cut a way through the cordon of troops
there for you."

The boys gladly accepted the offer. They had had more than enough of
insurrectionary warfare, and longed to be back again with their
comrades at Sebastopol.

Three days' marching took the band back to the forest, where some 1500
men were assembled, awaiting anxiously the return of the party.

A day was given for rest, and then horses were harnessed to the two
batteries of artillery, and moving by little-frequented roads through
the forest, the small army marched west.

For ten days the march continued, for the roads were heavy and the
horses unable to accomplish such marches as those of which the
peasants were capable. At last they effected a junction with the band
which they had come to join, whose numbers amounted to nearly 4000
men. Their arrival, and especially the advent of the artillery, was
greeted with enthusiasm, and it was at once proposed to take the
offensive. Count Stanislas said, however, that his horses were
completely knocked up with the fatigue they had undergone, and that a
rest of two or three days was necessary in order to recruit.

"Now," he said to the midshipmen, "I will redeem my promise. The
frontier is only fifty miles distant. I will send on a man at once to
ascertain some point at which there are boats on this side of the
river. I will march at daylight with 150 picked men, and no fear but
with a sudden attack we shall break through the patrols."

The plan was carried out. The boys, inured to marching, made the fifty
miles journey before nightfall. They were met by the spy, who stated
that the boats had almost all been removed, but that a number were
gathered at a village which was occupied by 200 Russian infantry.

The midshipmen proposed that they should steal through and endeavor to
get one of the boats, but their friend would not hear of their running
such a risk, and after taking some hours of rest the party proceeded
on their march. It was an hour before daybreak when they entered the
village. Just as they reached it a sentry fired his musket, and with a
rush the Poles charged forward. It had been arranged that the count
and the midshipmen with five men should run straight through the
village down to the water-side, and that the rest of the force were to
commence a furious attack upon the houses inhabited by the troops,
who, believing that they were assailed by superior forces, would be
some time before they took the offensive.



Aroused by the sound of the sentry's musket, the Russian soldiers
rushed to their windows and doors and opened a scattering fire, which
was heavily responded to by the Poles. The midshipmen with their party
ran hastily down the village. There were two sentries over the boats,
but these, alarmed by the din in the village and the sight of the
approaching figures, fired their muskets and fled. Dick uttered a low

"What is the matter, Dick? are you hit?"

"Yes," Dick said. "My arm is broken. Never mind, let us push on."

They leaped into a boat. Jack seized the sculls, the rope which
fastened them to the shore was cut, and with a last shout of farewell
to the count, they pulled off into the stream. For a few minutes the
sound of battle continued, and then suddenly died away, as Count
Stanislas, his object accomplished, drew off his men.

A few minutes' rowing brought the boat to the opposite bank. Here they
found Austrian sentries, who accosted them in German. As, however, the
Austrian Government offered no obstacle to Polish fugitives entering
the frontier, the lads were conducted to the officer of the troops at
the little village which faced that on the Russian bank. Here they
were questioned, first in Polish and then in German, but upon the boys
repeating the word "English," the officer, who spoke a little French,
addressed them in that language, and Dick explained that they were
English naval officers taken prisoners at Sebastopol, and making their
escape through Poland. He then asked if there was a surgeon who could
dress his wound, but was told that none was procurable nearer than a
town fifteen miles away. A country cart was speedily procured and
filled with straw, and upon this Dick lay down, while Jack took his
seat by the peasant who was to drive the cart.

It was eleven o'clock in the day when they entered the town, and the
peasant drew up, in accordance with the instructions he had received,
at the best hotel, the landlord of which was in no slight degree
surprised at such an arrival, and was disposed to refuse them
admittance. Jack, however, produced a bundle of Russian notes, at
which sight the landlord's hesitation vanished at once, and in half an
hour a surgeon stood by Dick's bedside dressing his wound. It was a
severe one, the bone being broken between the elbow and shoulder.

The next day Dick was in a state of high fever, due more to the
hardship and exposure through which he bad passed than to the wound,
and for a week lay between life and death. Then he began to mend, but
the doctor said that it would be long before he could use his arm
again, and that rest and quiet were absolutely necessary to restore

A week later, therefore, the midshipmen left the town, Dick having
determined that he would travel home by easy stages, while Jack, of
course, would journey direct to join his ship.

He had written immediately upon his arrival to acquaint his family,
and that of Dick, that both were alive and had escaped from Russia.
The tailors had been set to work, and the midshipmen presented a
respectable appearance. Dick was still so weak that he could scarcely
stand, and Jack tried hard to persuade him to stay for another week.
But Dick was pining to be home, and would not hear of delay. A day's
travel in a diligence brought them to a railway station, and twelve
hours later they arrived at Vienna.

Here they stopped for a day in luxurious quarters, and then Jack,
after seeing his friend into the train on his way home, started to
travel over the Semmering pass down to Trieste, where he knew he
should find no difficulty in obtaining a steamer to Constantinople.

After forty-eight hours' diligence travelling, Jack reached the pretty
seaport on the northern shore of the Adriatic. He found to his
satisfaction that one of the Austrian Lloyd's steamers would sail for
Constantinople on the following morning. He spent the evening in
buying a great stock of such articles as he had most found the want of
in camp, and had accumulated quite a respectable stock of baggage by
the time he went on board ship. After six days' steaming, during which
they were never out of sight of land, they cast anchor opposite

Jack did not report himself to the naval authorities here, as he
thought it quite possible that the "Falcon" had been recalled or sent
on other service, and he hoped that in that case he would, upon
reaching the front, be appointed to some other ship.

There was no difficulty in obtaining a passage to Balaklava, for two
or three transports, or merchantmen laden with stores, were going up
every day. He paused, however, for three days, as it was absolutely
necessary for him to obtain a fit-out of fresh uniforms before
rejoining, and at Galata he found European tailors perfectly capable
of turning out such articles.

Jack felt uncommonly pleased as he surveyed himself in a glass in his
new equipment; for it was now eight months since he had landed in the
Crimea, and the dilapidation of his garments had from that time been
rapid. The difficulties of toilet had, too, been great, and white
shirts were things absolutely unknown; so that Jack had never felt
really presentable from the time when he landed.

The day he had obtained his outfit he took a passage in a ship laden
with stores, and sailed for the Crimea. He had already learned that
the "Falcon" was still there, and when the vessel entered the harbor
he was delighted at seeing her lying as one of the guard-ships there.
An hour later, one of the ship's boats conveyed him and his baggage to
the side of the "Falcon." The first person he saw on reaching the deck
was Mr. Hethcote. The officer stared when Jack saluted and reported
himself in the usual words, "Come aboard, sir," and fell back a pace
in astonishment.

"What, Jack! Jack Archer!" he exclaimed. "My dear boy, is it really

"It's me, sure enough, sir," Jack said, and the next moment Mr.
Hethcote was shaking his hand as if he would have wrung it off.

"Why, my dear Jack," he exclaimed, "the men all reported that both you
and poor Hawtry were killed. They said they saw him shot, and, looking
back, saw you killed over his body. It was never doubted a moment, and
your names appeared in the list of the killed."

"Well, sir, we are alive nevertheless, and Dick is by this time at
home with his people. He would have come on and joined with me at
once, sir, only he got his arm broken, and was laid up with fever
after some fighting we had among the Polish insurgents."

"Among what!" Mr. Hethcote exclaimed, astonished. "But never mind that
now; I am glad indeed to hear that Hawtry also is alive, but you must
tell me all about it presently. There are your other friends waiting
to speak to you."

By this time the news of Jack's return had spread through the ship.
The midshipmen had all run on deck, and the men crowded the waist, or,
regardless of discipline, stood on the bulwarks. Jack had been a
general favorite. The gallantry which he and his comrade had displayed
on the night of the storm had greatly endeared them to the crew, and
the men had bitterly regretted that they had not stood with him over
Hawtry's body; but, indeed, it was not until they had passed on, and
it was too late to return, that they had noticed his absence.

As Jack turned from Mr. Hethcote, his messmates crowded round him, and
the men broke into a hearty cheer, again and again repeated. Jack,
gratified and touched by this hearty welcome, could scarce reply to
the questions which his comrades poured upon him, and was speedily
dragged below to the midshipmen's berth, where he gave a very brief
outline of what had happened since he saw them, a story which filled
them with astonishment and some little envy.

"I will tell you all about it fully, later on," Jack said, "but it
would take me till night to give you the full yarn now. But first you
must tell me what has happened here. You know I have heard nothing,
and only know that Sebastopol is not yet taken."

The recital was a long one, and Jack was fain to admit that the
hardships which he had gone through were as nothing to those which had
been borne by our soldiers in the Crimea during the six months he had
been away from them. The trials and discomforts of the great storm had
been but a sample of what was to be undergone. After Inkerman, it had
been plain to the generals in command that all idea of taking
Sebastopol must be abandoned until the spring, and that at the utmost
they could do no more than hold their position before it. This had
been rendered still more difficult by the storm, in which enormous
quantities of stores, warm clothing, and other necessaries had been

It was now too late to think of making a road from Balaklava to the
front, a work which, had the authorities in the first place dreamt
that the army would have to pass the winter on the plateau, was of all
others the most necessary. The consequence of this omission was that
the sufferings of the troops were terrible.

While Balaklava harbor was crowded with ships full of huts, clothing,
and fuel, the men at the front were dying in hundreds from wet, cold,
and insufficient food. Between them and abundance extended an almost
impassable quagmire, in which horses and bullocks sank and died in
thousands, although laden only with weights which a donkey in ordinary
times could carry. Had the strength of the regiments in front been
sufficient, the soldiers might have been marched down, when off duty,
to Balaklava, to carry up the necessaries they required. But so
reduced were they by over-work and fatigue, that those fit for duty
had often to spend five nights out of seven in the trenches, and were
physically too exhausted and worn-out to go down to Balaklava for
necessaries, even of the most urgent kind. Many of the regiments were
almost annihilated. Large numbers of fresh troops had come out, and
drafts for those already there, but the new-comers, mostly raw lads,
broke down under the strain almost as fast as they arrived, and in
spite of the number sent out, the total available strength did not
increase. One regiment could only muster nine men fit for duty. Many
were reduced to the strength of a company. The few survivors of one
regiment were sent down to Scutari until fresh drafts should arrive
and the regiment could be reorganized, and yet this regiment had not
been engaged in any of the battles. Scarce a general of those who had
commanded divisions and brigades at the Alma now remained, and the
regimental officers had suffered proportionally. The regiments which
had won the Alma still remained before Sebastopol, but their
constituents had almost entirely changed, and the proportion of those
who had first landed in the Crimea that still remained there when Jack
returned was small indeed.

The sufferings of the French, although great, had not been nearly so
severe as our own. Their camps were much nearer to their port, the
organization of their services was far better and more complete, and
as in the first place the siege work had been equally divided between
them, the numbers at that time being nearly the same, the work of our
men had become increasingly hard as their numbers diminished, while
that of the French grew lighter, for their strength had been trebled
by reinforcements from home. Thus, while our men were often five
nights out of the seven on duty in the cold and wet, the French had
five nights out of seven in bed. This gave them far greater time to
forage for fuel, which was principally obtained by digging up the
roots of the vines and brushwood--every twig above the surface having
long since been cleared away--to dig deep holes under their tents, to
dry their clothes and to make life comfortable.

At last the strength of the English diminished to such a point that
they were at length incapable of holding the long line of trenches,
and they were obliged to ask the French to relieve them, which they
did by taking over the right of our attack, a measure which placed
them opposite to the two Russian positions of the Mamelon and Malakoff
batteries, which proved to be the keys of Sebastopol.

As spring came on matters brightened fast. English contractors sent
out large bodies of navvies, and began to lay down a railway from
Balaklava to the front, reinforcements poured in, and the health of
the troops began to improve. Troops of transport animals from every
country on the Mediterranean were landed. A village of shops, set up
by enterprising settlers, was started two miles out of Balaklava. Huts
sprang up in all directions, and all sorts of comforts purchased by
the subscriptions of the English people when they heard of the
sufferings of their soldiers, were landed and distributed.

The work of getting up siege guns and storing ammunition for a
re-opening of the bombardment in earnest, went on merrily, and the
arrival of 15,000 Turkish troops, and of nearly 20,000 Sardinians, who
pitched their camps on the plain, rendered the allies secure from an
attack in that direction, and enabled them to concentrate all their
efforts on the siege.

So far the success had lain wholly with the Russians. For every
earthwork and battery raised and armed by the allies, the Russians
threw up two, and whereas when our armies arrived before it on 25th
September, Sebastopol was little more than an open town, which could
have been carried by the first assault, it was now a fortified place,
bristling with batteries in every direction, of immense strength, and
constructed upon the most scientific principles. Many of their works,
especially the Mamelon, Malakoff, and Tower batteries, were fortresses
in themselves, with refuges dug deeply in the earth, where the
garrison slept, secure from the heaviest fire of our guns, and
surrounded by works on every side.

In the trenches it was the Russians who were always the aggressors.
Sortie after sortie was made throughout the winter, and in these the
Russians often obtained possession for a time of portions of our
trenches or those of the French. Along in front of their works the
ground was studded with rifle-pits, sometimes so close to our works
that it was impossible for a man to show his head above them, and the
artillerymen were frequently unable to work their guns, owing to the
storm of bullets which the Russians sent through the embrasures
whenever a sign of movement was discerned. In the desperate fights in
darkness in the trenches we lost more men than in either of the
pitched battles of the campaign; and it was only the dogged courage of
our soldiers and the devotion of the officers which enabled us to
maintain our footing in the trenches before the city which we were
supposed to be besieging.

Throughout the winter the fleet had lain inactive, although why they
should have done so none knew, when they had it in their power, by
attacking the Russian forts in the Sea of Azof, to destroy the
granaries upon which the besieged depended for their supplies.

The midshipmen, however, were able to tell Jack that they had not been
altogether idle, as the fleet had at last, on the 22d of May, been set
in motion, and they had but two days before returned from their
expedition. All the light vessels of the English and French fleets had
taken part in it. The fort of Yenikale which commanded the entrance of
the Bay of Kertch had been captured, the batteries silenced, and the
town occupied, and in four days after the squadron had entered the
straits of Kertch they had destroyed 245 Russian vessels employed in
carrying provisions to the Russian army in the Crimea. Besides this,
enormous magazines of corn and flour were destroyed at Berdiansk,
Genitchi and Kertch, and at the latter place immense quantities of
military and naval stores also fell into our hands. Had this
expedition taken place in October instead of May, it is probable that
the Russians would have been unable to maintain their hold of

A portion of the fleet had remained in possession of the Sea of Azof,
and thenceforth the Russians had to depend upon land carriage. This,
however, mattered comparatively little, as the country was now firm
and dry, and all the roads from Russia to the Crimea were available.

All their comrades had taken share in the work in the batteries and
Jack learned to his surprise that Captain Stuart had been transferred
to a larger ship, and that Mr. Hethcote had got his promotion, and now
commanded the "Falcon," Jack, in the first excitement of meeting him,
not having noticed the changes in uniform which marked his advance.

After two hours' conversation with his friends, Jack received a
message that Captain Hethcote invited him to dine in his cabin, and
here a quarter of an hour later he found not only the captain, but the
first and second lieutenants.

After dinner was over, Jack was requested to give a full narrative of
his adventures, which greatly astonished his auditors, and was not
concluded until late in the evening. The lieutenants then retired, and
Jack was left alone with the captain, who signified that he wished to
speak further with him.

"Well, Jack," he said, when they were alone, "I did not think when I
offered my uncle to get you a midshipman's berth, that I was going to
put you in the way of passing through such a wonderful series of
adventures. They have been sadly cut up at home at the news of your
death. I hope that you wrote to them as soon as you had a chance."

"I wrote on the very day I crossed the frontier, sir," Jack said.
"Besides I wrote twice from Russia, but I don't suppose they ever got
the letters."

"And so you speak Russian fluently now, Jack?"

"I speak it quite well enough to get on with, sir," Jack said. "You
see, I was speaking nothing else for five months. I expect my grammar
is very shaky, as I picked it all up entirely by ear, and no doubt I
make awful mistakes, but I can get on fast enough."

"I shall report your return to-morrow to the Admiral," Captain
Hethcote said. "It is not improbable that he will at once attach you
to the battery in front again. The bombardment is to re-open next
week, and the generals expect to carry the town by assault; though,
between ourselves, I have no belief that our batteries will be able to
silence the enemy's guns sufficiently to make an assault upon such a
tremendous position possible. However, as they expect to do it, it is
probable that they will like having an officer who can speak Russian
at the front, as interpreters would, of course, be useful. I suppose
you would rather stay on board for a bit."

"Yes, sir; I have had such a lot of knocking about since I left
Breslau, that I should certainly have liked a month's quiet; but of
course, I am ready to do as ordered, and, indeed, as the fun seems
about to begin at last, I should like to be in it."

The next morning the captain sent his report to the Admiral, and
received in reply a message that the Admiral would be glad if Captain
Hethcote would dine with him that day, and would bring Mr. Archer with

Admiral Lyons was very kind to the young midshipman, and insisted upon
his giving him an account in full of all his adventures. He confirmed
Captain Hethcote's opinion as to Jack's movements, by saying, as he
bade him good-bye, that in the morning he would receive a written
order to go up to the front and to report himself to the officer in
command of the naval brigade there.

The next morning, being that of the 5th June, Jack received his order,
and an hour later he started for the front, with two sailors to carry
his baggage. He was astonished at the change which had been wrought at
Balaklava. A perfect town of wooden huts had sprung up. The principal
portion of these was devoted to the general hospital, the others were
crammed with stores. The greater part of the old Tartar village had
been completely cleared away, the streets and roads were levelled, and
in good order.

Such troops as were about had received new uniforms, and looked clean
and tidy. Everywhere gangs of laborers were at work, and the whole
place wore a bright and cheerful aspect. Just outside the town an
engine with a number of laden wagons was upon the point of starting.
The sun was blazing fiercely down, and at the suggestion of one of the
sailors, who, though ready enough for a spree on shore, were viewing
with some apprehension the prospect of the long trudge along the dusty
road to Sebastopol, Jack asked the officer in charge of the train for
permission to ride up. This was at once granted, and Jack, his trunk
and the sailors, were soon perched on the top of a truck-load of
barrels of salt pork.

Jack could scarcely believe that the place was the same which he had
last seen, just when winter was setting in. A large village had grown
up near the mouth of the valley, wooden huts for the numerous gangs of
navvies and laborers stood by the side of the railway. Officers
trotted past on ponies, numbers of soldiers, English, French, Turkish,
and Sardinian, trudged along the road on their way to or from
Balaklava. The wide plain across which our cavalry had charged was
bright with flowers, and dotted with the tents of the Turks and
Sardinians. Nature wore a holiday aspect. Every one seemed cheerful
and in high spirits, and it needed the dull boom of the guns around
Sebastopol to recall the fact that the work upon which they were
engaged was one of grim earnest.

Upon arriving at the camp, Jack found that its aspect was not less
changed than that of the surrounding country. Many of the regiments
were already in huts. The roads and the streets between the tents were
scrupulously clean and neat, and before many of the officers' tents,
clumps of flowers brought up from the plain had been planted. The
railway was not yet completed quite to the front, and the last two
miles had to be traversed on foot.

Upon presenting his written orders to the officer in command of the
naval brigade, Jack was at once told off to a tent with two other
midshipmen, and was told that he would not, for the present, be placed
upon regular duty, but that he would be employed as aide-de-camp to
the commander, and as interpreter, should his services in that way be



The first impulse of Jack, after having stowed his traps in the tent
and introduced himself to his new mess-mates, was to make his way to
the lines of the 33d. Here he found that Harry had been sent home sick
in January, but that he had sailed from England again with a draft,
and was expected to arrive in the course of a few days. Jack found but
few of the officers still there whom he had before known. Several,
however, were expected shortly back either from England or from the
hospitals at Scutari.

Greatly relieved to find that his brother was alive and well, Jack
returned to the naval camp, where he speedily made himself at home.
When he first mentioned to his messmates, two lads about his own age,
that he had been a prisoner in Russia, the statement was received with
incredulity, and when, at their request, he proceeded to tell some of
his adventures, they regarded him with admiration as the most
stupendous liar they had ever met. It was long indeed before his
statements were in any way believed, and it was only when, upon the
occasion of one day dining with the officer in command of the brigade,
Jack, at his request, related in the presence of several officers his
adventures in Russia, that his statements were really accepted as
facts; for it was agreed that whatever yarns a fellow might invent to
astonish his comrades, he would not venture upon relating them as
facts to a post-captain. This, however, was later on.

On the morning after his arrival all was expectation, for it was known
that the bombardment was about to recommence. At half-past two o'clock
the roar of 157 guns and mortars in the British batteries, and over
800 in those of the French, broke the silence, answered a minute or
two later by that of the Russian guns along their whole line of
batteries. The day was hot and almost without a breeze, and the smoke
from so vast a number of guns hung heavily on the hill-side, and
nothing could be seen as to the effect which the cannonade was
producing. It was not until next morning that the effect of the fire
was visible. The faces of the Russian batteries were pitted and
scarred, but no injury of importance had been inflicted upon them. All
day the fire continued with unabated fury on the side of the allies,
the Russians replying intermittently. Presently the news circulated
through the camp that an assault would be made at six o'clock, and all
officers and men of duty thronged the brow of the plateau, looking
down upon the town.

At half-past six a body of French troops were observed to leave their
trenches, and, in skirmishing order, to make their way towards the
Mamelon. The guns of the Russian fort roared out, but already the
assailants were too close for these to have much effect. Soon a great
shout from the spectators on the hill proclaimed that the Zouaves, who
always led the French attacks, had gained the parapet. Then, from
within, a host of figures surged up against the sky, and a curious
conflict raged on the very summit of the work. Soon, however, the
increasing mass of the French, as they streamed up, enabled them to
maintain the footing they had gained, and pouring down into the fort,
they drove the Russians from it, the French pouring out in their rear.
Twice fresh bodies of Russian reserves, coming up, attempted to roll
back the French attack; but these, exultant with success, pressed
forward, and, in spite of the fire which the guns of the Round Tower
fort poured upon them, drove their enemies down the hill. It was
growing dark now, and it could with difficulty be seen how the fight
was going. Fresh masses of French troops poured from their advance
trenches into the Mamelon, and there was no question that that point
was decidedly gained.

Still however, the battle raged around it. The Zouaves, flushed with
success, attempted to carry the Round Tower with a rush, and swept up
to the abattis surrounding it. The Russians brought up fresh supports,
and the whole hill-side was alive with the flicker of musketry. The
Russian guns of all the batteries bearing upon the scene of action
opened it, while those of our right attack, which were close to the
French, opened their fire to aid our allies. Had the Zouaves been
supported, it is probable that they would have carried the Round Tower
with their rush, but this was not in the plan of operations, and,
after fighting heroically for some time, they fell back to the

The fight on the British side had been less exciting. With a sudden
rush our men had leaped on the advance trenches and driven the
Russians from their position in the quarries. Then, rapidly turning
the gabions of the trenches, they prepared to hold the ground they had
taken. They were not to maintain their conquest unmolested, for soon
the Russians poured down masses of troops to retake it. All night long
the flash of fire flickered round the position, and six times the
Russian officers led up their troops to the attack.

Our assaulting force was over 1000 men, and out of these 365 men and
thirty-five officers were killed or wounded. Had a stronger body been
detailed, there is no doubt that the Redan, which was near the
quarries, could have been taken, for it was almost empty of troops,
and our men, in the impetuosity of their first assault, arrived close
to it. Great discontent was felt that measures should not have been
taken to follow up the success, and both our allies and our own troops
felt that a great opportunity had been missed, owing to the want of
forethought of their generals.

The next day there was an armistice, from one till six, to collect and
bury the dead, and the officers and men of the contending parties
moved over the ground which had been the scene of conflict, chatting
freely together, exchanging cigars and other little articles. Jack,
who had gone down with his commanding officer, created no slight
astonishment among the Russians by conversing with them in their own
language. In answer to their questions, he told them that he had been
a prisoner among them, and begged them to forward a note which he had
that morning written to Count Preskoff at Berislav, acquainting him
that he had made his escape across the Russian frontier, and had
rejoined the army, for he thought it probable that the letter which he
had given to Count Stanislaus to post, after he left him, might never
have come to hand.

At six o'clock the guns again re-opened; the Russians having made good
use of their time in arming fresh batteries to counteract the effect
of the works we had carried. We had indeed hard work in maintaining
our hold of the quarries, which were commanded by several batteries,
whose position placed them outside the range of our guns. Our loss was
very heavy, as also was that of the French in the Mamelon, which was
made a centre for the Russian fire.

On the nights of the 16th and 17th some of the British and French
ships stood in close to Sebastopol, and kept up a heavy fire upon the
town. On the 16th it was decided by Marshal Pelissier and Lord Raglan
that the assault should take place on the morning of the 18th of June,
and every arrangement was made for the attack. The British force told
off for the work consisted of detachments of the light, second, and
third divisions, and was divided into three columns. Sir John Campbell
had charge of the left, Colonel Shadforth of the right, and Colonel
Lacy Yea of the centre column. General Barnard was directed to take
his brigade of the third division down to a ravine near the quarries,
while General Eyre moved his brigade of the same division still
farther along. His orders were that in case of the assault on the
Redan being successful, he should attack the works on its right.

On the French left, three columns, each 6000 strong, under General De
Salles, were to attack three of the Russian bastions; while on their
right, three columns of equal force were to attack the Russian
positions: General D'Autemarre assailing the Gervais battery and the
right flank of the Malakoff, General Brunet to fall upon the left
flank of the Malakoff and the little Redan from the Mamelon, while
General Mayrau was to carry the Russian battery near the careening

Thus the French were to assault in six columns, numbering in all
36,000 men, with reserves of 25,000. Our assaulting columns contained
only 1200 men, while 10,000 were in reserve. The attack was to
commence at day-break, but by some mistake the column of General
Mayrau attacked before the signal was given. In a few minutes they
were repulsed with great loss, their general being mortally wounded.
Four thousand of the Imperial Guard were sent to their assistance, and
three rockets being fired as a signal, the assault was made all along
the line. The Russians, however, had been prepared for what was coming
by the assault on their left. Their reserves were brought up, the
Redan was crowded with troops, the guns were loaded with grape, and as
the little English columns leaped from their trenches and rushed to
the assault, they were received with tremendous fire.

The inevitable result of sending 1000 men to attack a tremendously
strong position, held by ten times their own strength, and across a
ground swept by half a dozen batteries, followed. The handful of
British struggled nobly forward, broken up into groups by the
irregularity of the ground and by the gaps made by the enemy's fire.

Parties of brave men struggled up to the very abattis of the Redan,
and there, unsupported and powerless, were shot down. Nothing could
exceed the bravery which our soldiers manifested. But their bravery
was in vain. The three officers in command of the columns, Sir John
Campbell, Colonel Shadforth, and Colonel Yea, were all killed. In vain
the officers strove to lead their men to an attack. There were indeed
scarce any to lead, and the Russians, in mockery of the foolishness of
such an attack, stood upon their parapets and asked our men why they
did not come in. At last, the remnants of the shattered columns were
called off. Upon the left, the brigade under General Eyre carried the
cemetery by a sudden attack. But so hot a fire was opened upon him
that it was with difficulty the position could be held.

This, however, was the sole success of the day. Both, the French
columns were repulsed with heavy loss from the Malakoff, and although
Gervais battery was carried, it could not be maintained.

The naval brigade furnished four parties of sixty men to carry
scaling-ladders and wool-bags. Two of these parties were held in
reserve, and did not advance. Captain Peel was in command, and was
wounded, as was Mr. Wood, a midshipman of H.M.S. "Queen," who acted as
his aide-de-camp. The three officers of one detachment were all
wounded, and of the other one was killed, and one wounded.

Jack had in the morning regretted that he was not in orders for the
service, but when at night the loss which those who bad taken part in
it had suffered was known, he could not but congratulate himself that
he had not been detailed for the duty. The total British loss was
twenty-two officers and 247 men killed, seventy-eight officers and
1207 men wounded. The French lost thirty-nine officers killed, and
ninety-three wounded, 1600 men killed or taken prisoners and about the
same number wounded; so that our losses were enormously greater than
those of the French in proportion to our numbers. The Russians
admitted a loss of 5800 killed and wounded.

Jack was with many others a spectator of this scene from Cathcart
Hill; but it must not be imagined that even a vague idea of what was
passing could be gleaned by the lookers-on. The Redan, which was the
point of view immediately opposite, was fully a mile away. In a few
minutes from the commencement of the fight the air was thick with
smoke, and the din of battle along so extended a front was so
continuous and overpowering that it was impossible to judge by the
sound of firing how the fight was going on at any particular point.

Upon the night before there was a general sanguine feeling as to the
success of the attack, and many a laughing invitation was given to
future dinners in the hotels of Sebastopol. Great, then, was the
disappointment when, an hour after its opening, the tremendous roll of
musketry gradually died away, while the fire of the allied batteries
angrily opened, telling the tale that all along the line the allies
had been defeated, save only for the slight success at the cemetery.

Eagerly were the wounded questioned, as, carried on stretchers, or
slowly and painfully making their way upon foot, they ascended the
hill. In most of them regret at their defeat or anger at the
incompetence of those who had rendered defeat certain, predominated
over the pain of the wounds.

"Be jabers," said a little Irishman, "but it was cruel work entirely.
There was myself and six others and the captain made our way up to a
lot of high stakes stuck in the ground before the place. We looked
round, and divil another soul was there near. We couldn't climb over
the stakes, and if we had got over 'em there was a deep ditch beyond,
and no way of getting in or out. And what would have been the good if
we had, when there were about 50,000 Russians inside a-shouting and
yelling at the top of their voices, and a-firing away tons of
ammunition? We stopped there five minutes, it may be, waiting to see
if any one else was coming, and then when four of us was killed and
the captain wounded, I thought it time to be laving; so I lifted him
up and carried him in, and got an ugly baste of a Russian bullet into
my shoulder as I did so. Ye may call it fightin', but it's just murder
I call it meself."

Something like this was the tale told by scores of wounded men, and it
is little wonder that, sore with defeat and disappointment, and
heart-sick at the loss which had been suffered, the feelings of the
army found vent in deep grumblings at the generals who had sent out a
handful of men to assault a fortress.

The next day there was another truce to allow of the burial of the
dead and the collection of the wounded who lay thickly on the ground
between the rival trenches. It did not take place, however, till four
in the afternoon, by which time the wounded had been lying for thirty
hours without water or aid, the greater portion of the time exposed to
the heat of a burning sun.

Ten days later Lord Raglan died. He was a brave soldier, an honorable
man, a most courteous and perfect English gentleman, but he was most
certainly not a great general. He was succeeded by General Simpson,
who appears to have been chosen solely because he had, as a lad,
served in the Peninsula; the authorities seeming to forget that for
the work upon which the army was engaged, no school of war could
compare with that of the Crimea itself, and that generals who had
received their training there were incomparably fitter for the task
than any others could be.

Two days after the repulse at the Redan, Jack was delighted by the
entry of his brother into his tent. Harry had of course left England
before the receipt of Jack's letter written when he had crossed the
frontier, and was overwhelmed with delight at the news which he had
received ten minutes before, on arriving at the camp, that his brother
was alive, and was again with the naval brigade close by. Jack's
tent-mates were fortunately absent, and the brothers were therefore
able to enjoy the delight of their meeting alone, and, when the first
rapture was over, to sit down for a long talk. Jack was eager to learn
what had happened at home, of which he had heard nothing for six
months, and which Harry had so lately left. He was delighted to hear
that all were well; that his elder sister was engaged to be married;
and that although the shock of the news of his death had greatly
affected his mother she had regained her strength, and would, Harry
was sure, be as bright and cheerful as ever when she heard of his
safety. Not till he had received answers to every question about home
would Jack satisfy his brother's curiosity as to his own adventures,
and then he astonished him indeed with an account of what he had gone

"Well, Jack, you are a lucky fellow!" Harry said, when he had
finished. "To think of your having gone through all those adventures
and living to tell of them. Why, it will be something to talk about
all your life."

"And you, Harry, are you quite recovered?"

"I am as well as ever," Harry said. "It was a case of typhus and
frost-bite mixed. I lost two of my toes, and they were afraid that I
should be lame in consequence. However, I can march well enough for
all practical purposes, though I do limp a little. As to the typhus,
it left me very weak; but I soon picked up when the wind from England
was blowing in my face. Only to think that all the time I was grieving
for you as dead and buried by the Russians among the hills over there
that you were larking about with those jolly Russian girls."

"Oh, yes, that's all very well," Jack said. "But you must remember
that all that pretty nearly led to my being hung or shot; and it was a
hot time among those Poles, too, I can tell you."

The next few days passed quietly. On the 12th of July Jack rode out
with his commanding officer, who, with many others, accompanied the
reconnaissance made by the Turks and French, on a foraging and
reconnoitring party, towards Baidar, but they did not come in contact
with the Russians.

Both parties still worked steadily at their trenches. The French were
fortunate in having soft ground before them, and were rapidly pushing
their advances up towards the Malakoff. This position, which could
without difficulty have been seized by the allies at the commencement
was in reality the key of the Russian position. Its guns completely
commanded the Redan, and its position would render that post
untenable, while the whole of the south side of Sebastopol would lay
at our mercy. In front of the English the ground was hard and stony,
and it was next to impossible to advance our trenches towards the
Redan, and the greater portion of the earth indeed had to be carried
in sacks on men's backs from points in the rear.

The working parties were also exposed to a cross-fire, and large
numbers of men were killed every day.

On the 31st a tremendous storm broke upon the camp, but the soldiers
were now accustomed to such occurrences, the tents were well secured,
and but little damage was suffered. Save for a few sorties by the
Russians, the next fortnight passed quietly.

The cavalry were now pushed some distance inland, and the officers
made up parties to ride through the pretty valleys and visit the
villas and country houses scattered along the shores.



On the evening of the 15th of August several Tartars brought in news
that the Russians were preparing for an attack; but so often had
similar rumors been received that little attention was paid to their
statements. It was known indeed that they had received very large
reinforcements, and the troops had been several times called under
arms to resist their repeated attacks. These, however, had all passed
off quietly, and when the troops retired to rest none thought that a
great battle was going to take place on the morrow.

The Tchernaya, after leaving the valley of Baidar, flows between a
number of low swells of ground, and formed the front of the allied
armies on the plains. On the extreme right the Turks were stationed.
Next them came the Sardinians, whose position extended from a stream
flowing into the Tchernaya at right angles to an eminence known as
Mount Hasfort. In front, and divided from it by an aqueduct which,
too, ran parallel to the river, was another hillock accessible from
the first by a stone bridge at which the Sardinians had a breastwork.
Their outposts extended some distance on the other side of the
Tchernaya. The French occupied a series of hillocks to the left of the
Sardinians, guarding the road leading from Balaklava to McKenzie's
farm. The river and aqueduct both flowed along their front. The road
crossed the former by a bridge known as the Traktia Bridge, the latter
by a stone bridge. In front of the Traktia Bridge was a breastwork.

At dawn a strong body of Russians were seen upon the heights opposite
to those occupied by the Sardinians, and thence, being on ground
higher than that upon our side of the river, they commanded both the
Sardinian and French positions. The bridge was held by a company of
infantry and a company of Bersaglieri, and General Della Marmora at
once despatched another company of Bersaglieri to enable the advance
to hold their post until the army got under arms. They mounted the
opposite plateau, but this was so swept by the Russian guns, that they
were forced at once to retire to the bridge.

Soon the artillery opened along the whole line on both sides. The
French outposts had also been driven in, and before the troops were
fairly under arms, the Russians had crossed the bridge, and were
charging forward. The aqueduct, which was nine or ten feet wide and
several feet deep, now formed the front of the French defence. It ran
along on the face of the hill, with a very steep slope facing the

In spite of the fire of the French artillery in front, and of the
Sardinian artillery which swept them in flank, the Russian soldiers
pressed most gallantly forward, crossed the aqueduct, and tried to
storm the height. The Sardinian fire, however, was too severe, and
after ten minutes the Russians fell back. It met another column
advancing at the double, and uniting, they again rushed forward. While
they forded the river, two guns crossed by the bridge and another by a
ford, and opened upon the French. The infantry, rushing breast deep
through the water, began to scale the heights. But the French met them
boldly, and after a fierce fight drove them down and across the
bridge. On their left another column had attacked the French right,
and in spite of the Sardinian guns which ploughed long lanes in their
ranks, crossed the aqueduct and scaled the heights. But as they
reached the plateau so terrible a storm of grape and musket-balls
swept upon them, that the bead of the column melted away as it
surmounted the crest. Fresh men took the place of those that fell, but
when the French infantry, with a mighty cheer, rushed upon them, the
Russians broke and ran. So great was the crowd that they could not
pass the river in time, and 200 prisoners were taken, while the French
and Sardinian artillery swept the remains of the column, as it
retreated, with a terrible cross fire.

At the bridge, however, the Russians made one more effort. The
reserves were brought up, and they again crossed the river and
aqueduct. The French, however, were now thoroughly prepared, and the
attack was, like the preceding one, beaten back with terrible
slaughter. The Russians fell back along their whole line, covered by
the fire of their artillery, while five regiments of cavalry took post
to oppose that of the allies, should they attempt to harass the

The loss of the French was nine officers killed and fifty-three
wounded, 172 men killed and 1163 wounded. The Sardinians had two
officers killed and eight wounded; sixty-two men killed, and 135
wounded. The Russian loss was twenty-seven officers killed, and
eighty-five wounded; 3329 men killed, 4785 wounded. Never were the
advantages of position more clearly shown, for the Russians lost
fifteen times as many killed as the allies, four times as many
wounded, although they had all the advantages of a surprise on their
side. The English had only a battery of heavy guns under Captain
Mowbray engaged. These did good service.

Jack Archer saw but little of this battle. It commenced at daybreak
and lasted little over an hour, and when Jack, with hundreds of other
officers and soldiers, reached points from which a view of the plain
could be commanded, a thick cloud of smoke was drifting across it,
through which nothing could be seen until the heavy masses of Russians
were observed making their way back covered by their cavalry, and the
dying away of the cannonade told that the battle was over.

Life in camp was very cheery now. The troops were in splendid health
and high spirits. Races were got up in each division, for almost all
officers possessed ponies of some kind or other, and great amusement
was caused by these events. Some of the lately-arrived regiments had
brought their regimental bands with them, and these added to the
liveliness of the camps. A good supply of eatables and wine could be
obtained from the sutlers, and dinner-parties were constantly taking
place. Altogether life in camp was very enjoyable.

The French, who during the winter had fared much better than
ourselves, were now in a very inferior condition. The full publicity
which had been given to the sufferings of our troops had so roused the
British public, that not only had they insisted that Government should
take all measures for the comfort of the soldiers, but very large sums
had been collected, and ships laden with comforts and luxuries of all
kinds despatched to the seat of war. Consequently our troops were now
in every respect well fed and comfortable. Upon the other hand, the
details of the sufferings of the French troops had been carefully
concealed from the French people. Consequently nothing was done for
them, and their food was the same now as it had been at Varna in the
previous year. They were consequently exposed to the attacks of the
same illness, and while the British army was enjoying perfect health,
the French hospitals were crowded, and many thousands died of cholera
and fever.

After the Tchernaya, as there was no probability of a renewal of the
bombardment for a short time, Jack asked leave to spend a few days on
board ship, as his services as interpreter were not likely to be
required. This was readily granted. Here he had perfect rest. Captain
Hethcote did not put him in a watch, and every day, with some of his
messmates, he rowed out of the harbor, and coasted along at the foot
of the lofty cliffs, sometimes fishing, sometimes taking a bath in the
cool waters. This week's rest and change did Jack a great deal of
good, for he had been feeling the effects of the long strain of
excitement. He had had several slight touches of fever, and the naval
doctor had begun to speak of the probability of sending him down to
the hospital-ship at Constantinople. The week's rest, however,
completely set him up, and he was delighted with the receipt of a
budget of letters from home, written upon the receipt of his letter
announcing his safety.

None but those who have gone through a long and tedious campaign, or
who may be living a struggling life in some young colony, can know how
great is the delight afforded by letters from home. For a time the
readers forget their surroundings, and all the toil and struggle of
their existence, and are again in thought among the dear ones at home.
Retiring to some quiet place apart from their comrades, they read
through their letters again and again, and it is not till every little
item is got by heart, that the letters are folded up and put away, to
be re-read over and over again until the next batch arrive.

Jack, of course, had heard much of his family from his brother, but
the long letters of his father and mother, the large, scrawling
handwriting of his little brothers and sisters, brought them before
him far more vividly than any account could have done. Enclosed in his
father's letter was one with a Russian postmark, and this Jack found
was from Count Preskoff. It had been written six weeks after he had
left them, and had, curiously enough, arrived in England on the very
day after his own letter had reached home. The count wrote expressing
their anxiety regarding him, and their earnest hopes that he had
effected his escape. He said that his wife and daughters diligently
read every paper they could get from end to end, but having seen no
notice of the capture of two young Englishmen in disguise, they
entertained strong hopes that their friends had effected their escape.
The count said he was sure that Jack would be glad to hear that things
in Russia looked brighter; that it was rumored that the Emperor
Alexander intended on the occasion of his coronation to proclaim a
general emancipation of the serfs, and that other measures of reform
would follow. The party of progress were strong in the councils of the
new monarch. The decree for his own banishment from court had been
cancelled, and he was on the point of starting for St. Petersburg with
his wife and daughters. A personal friend of his own had been
appointed commandant of Berislav, and the late deputy commandant had
been sent to join his regiment in the Crimea. The countess and his
daughters were well, and Olga was studying English. He said that when
the war was over he intended with his family to make a tour through
the capitals of Europe, and hoped that they should see Jack in
England. This was very welcome news, and Jack returned to the naval
camp at the front in high glee.

One morning a lieutenant named Myers, asked Jack if he would like to
accompany him on a reconnaissance, which he heard that a party of the
Sardinian cavalry were going to push some little distance up the Baida
Valley. Jack said that he would like it very much if he could borrow a
pony. Mr. Myers said that he could manage this for him, and at once
went and obtained the loan of a pony from another officer who was just
going down into the battery. A quarter of an hour afterwards, having
taken the precaution to put some biscuits and cold meat into their
haversacks, and to fill their flasks with rum and water, they started
and rode across the plain to the Sardinian camp.

The lieutenant had obtained the news of the proposed reconnaissance
from an officer with whom he was acquainted on the Sardinian staff.
The news, however, had been kept secret, as upon previous occasions so
many officers off duty had accompanied these reconnaissances as to
constitute an inconvenience. On the present occasion the secret had
been so well kept that only some four or five pleasure-seekers had
assembled when the column, consisting of 400 cavalry, started.

Jack, accustomed only to the flat plains of southern and western
Russia, was delighted with the beauty of the valley through which they
now rode. It was beautifully wooded, and here and there Tartar
villages nestled among the trees. These had long since been deserted
by the inhabitants, and had been looted by successive parties of
friends and foes, of everything portable.

Presently they turned out of the valley they had first passed through
and followed a road over a slope into another valley, similar to the
first. For an hour they rode on, and then some distance ahead of the
column they heard the report of a shot.

"The Cossacks have got sight of us," Mr. Myers said. "We shall soon
learn if the Russians have any troops in the neighborhood."

Presently a scattered fire was opened from the walls of a country
house, standing embowered in trees on an eminence near what appeared
to be the mouth of the valley. The officer in command of the party
dismounted one of the squadrons, and sent the men up in skirmishing
order against the house. Two other squadrons trotted down the valley,
and the rest remained in reserve. A sharp musketry conflict went on
for a short time around the chateau. Then the Sardinians made a rush,
and their shouts of triumph and the cessation of musketry proclaimed
their victory.

At the same moment a soldier rode back from the cavalry that had gone
up the valley, to say that a strong body of the enemy's horse were
approaching across the plain. The order was given for a general
advance, and the cavalry trotted down the valley to join the party in

"Now, Mr. Archer," Lieutenant Myers said, "the best thing for us to do
will be to ride forward to that house up there. See, the attacking
party are coming back to their horses. We ought to have a good view
over the plain, and shall see the fight between the Sardinians and the
enemy. Besides, we may pick up some loot."

They soon reached the house, and, tying up their horses, entered. It
was a fine chateau, handsomely furnished, but short as was the time
that the Sardinians had held possession, they had already tumbled
everything into confusion in their search for plunder. Tables and
couches had been upset, closets and chiffoniers burst open with the
butt-ends of the swords or with the discharge of a pistol into the
lock. Looking-glasses had been smashed, valuable vases lay in
fragments on the floor, bottles of wine whose necks had been hastily
knocked off stood on the table. In the courtyard were signs of strife.
Three or four Cossacks and two Sardinian horsemen lay dead.

"We will go out to the terrace in front of the house," Mr. Myers said.
"From that we ought to have a view over the country."

Owing, however, to the trees which grew around, they were obliged to
advance 100 yards or so from the house before they could see the
plain. Then some half-mile out they saw the blue mass of Sardinian
cavalry advancing by squadrons. Still farther two bodies of Russian
horse, each nearly equal in strength to the Italians, were seen. There
was a movement among the Sardinian horse. They formed into two bodies
and dashed at the Russians. There was a cloud of dust, swords could be
seen flashing in the sun, a confused mélée for a minute or two, and
then the Russians broke and rode across the plain, pursued by the

"A very pretty charge," Mr. Myers said. "Now we'll go in and look at
the house. It will be fully half an hour before they return again."

They went in and wandered from room to room. The place had evidently
been tenanted until quite lately. Articles of woman's work lay upon
the table. A canary bird was singing in his cage. A fire burnt in the
kitchen, and a meal was evidently in course of preparation when the
first alarm had been given. The officers wandered from room to room,
and collected a number of little trifles to take home as remembrances,
small pictures of the Greek saints, such as are found in every Russian
house, a little bronze statuette, two or three small but handsomely
bound books, a couple of curious old plates; and Jack took possession,
as a present for his elder sister, of a small work-box beautifully
fitted up. Having made two bundles of their plunder, they prepared to
go out again to see if the Sardinians were returning, when Jack,
looking out of the window, uttered an exclamation of surprise and
alarm. One of the thick fogs which are so common in the Black Sea, and
on the surrounding coasts, had suddenly rolled down upon them, and it
was difficult to see five yards from the window. Jack's exclamation
was echoed by Mr. Myers.

"This is a nice business!" the latter exclaimed. "We had better find
our ponies and make our way down into the valley at once. Seeing how
thick the fog has come on, the Sardinians may not return here at all."

So saying, they hurried to the spot where they had tied up their
ponies, and, leading them by the reins, descended into the valley.

"The fog is getting thicker and thicker," Mr. Myers said. "I cannot
see three yards before me. We must listen for them as they pass, and
then join them, although it's by no means impossible that we may be
received with a shot."

Half an hour passed, and they grew more and more anxious. Another
half-hour, and still no sound was heard.

"I do not think they can possibly have passed without our seeing them,
Mr. Archer. The valley is a quarter of a mile wide, but we should be
sure to hear the trampling of the horses and the jingling of the

"Yes, sir, I'm sure they have not passed since we got here. But they
may possibly have seen the fog coming on and have ridden rapidly back,
and passed before we came down, or they may have gone round by the
mouth of the valley parallel to this, which we left to cross into this

"That is just what I have been thinking." Mr. Myers said. "What do you
think we had better do? It is quite impossible that we can find our
way back through such a fog as this."

"Quite impossible, sir," Jack said. "If we were to move from where we
are, we should lose all idea of our bearings in three minutes, and
should be as likely to go into the plain as up the valley."

"It's a most awkward position," Mr. Myers said anxiously. "Now, Mr.
Archer, you have had some sort of experience of this kind before. Tell
me frankly what you think is the best thing to be done."

"I have been thinking it over, sir, for the last half, hour," Jack
said, "and it appears to me that the best thing to do would be for me
to find my way up to the house again. I can't well miss that, as we
came straight down hill. I will bring back two of those Cossacks'
cloaks and lances. Then we had better move about till we come on a
clump of trees, and make ourselves as comfortable there as we can.
These fogs last, as you know, sometimes for two or three days. When it
gets clear, whether it is to-day or to-morrow, we will look out and
see whether there are any of the enemy about. Of course, as they know
the way, they can come back in the fog. If we see any of them, we must
put on the Cossack's cloaks, take their lances, and boldly ride off.
They are always galloping about in pairs all over the country; so that
we shall attract no attention."

"But if they catch us," the lieutenant said, "we shall be liable to be
shot as spies."

"I suppose we shall, sir," Jack answered; "but I would rather run the
risk of being shot as a spy than the certainty of being caught as a
naval officer, and imprisoned till the war is over."

"Well, Mr Archer, I certainly can suggest nothing better," the
lieutenant said. "Will you go up, then, and, get the cloaks you speak

Leaving his pony with the lieutenant, Jack made his way up the hill.
Fortunately, in their descent they had followed a small track worn by
persons going to and from the chateau from the valley, and he had,
therefore, but little difficulty in finding the house. He paused when
he reached the courtyard, for he heard voices in the chateau.
Listening attentively, he discovered that they were Russians, no doubt
some of the party who had been driven thence by the Sardinians, and
who had, upon the retirement of the latter, ridden straight back from
the plain. Fortunately, the fog was so thick that there was no
probability whatever of his movements being discovered, and he
therefore proceeded to strip off two of the long coats, reaching
almost down to the heels, which form the distinctive Cossack dress,
from the dead men. He took possession also of their caps, their
bandoliers for cartridges, worn over one shoulder, and of their
carbines and lances, and then retraced his steps down the hill to his
companion. Leading their ponies, they wandered aimlessly through the
fog for a considerable time before they came to some trees.

"If you will hold my horse, sir," Jack said, "I will just look round,
and see if this is a small wood. I shall lose you before I have gone a
yard, so when you hear me whistle, please whistle back, but not loud,
for there may be enemies close by for aught I know. I thought I heard
voices just now."

Searching about, Jack found that the clump of trees extended for some
little distance. Returning to the lieutenant, they entered the wood,
and moved a little way among the trees, so as to be out of sight if
the fog lifted suddenly. Then they loosened the saddle-girths,
gathered some sticks and lit a fire, and using the Cossack coats for
rugs, began to discuss the meal they had brought with them.

"If the Russians really advance again, and get between us and
Balaklava, I do not see how on earth we are to pass through them," Mr.
Myers said.

"No, sir, I don't think we could," Jack answered. "I should propose
that we make a wide sweep round so as to come down upon the shore some
distance away. As you know, boats from the ships often land at some of
the deserted places along there in search of loot; so that we ought to
be able to be taken off. If, when we are riding, we come upon any
Russian troops suddenly, so that we cannot move away in any other
direction without exciting suspicion, you must put a good face on it.
My Russian is good enough to pass muster as a Cossack. All we have to
do is to avoid any of these fellows, for they would detect at once
that I did not belong to them."

"Well, Mr. Archer, you take things very coolly, and I hope you will
get us out of the scrape we have got into. If I had been by myself, I
should have ridden up and surrendered to the first Russians I saw."

"That would have been the best way, sir, had it not been for those
poor beggars having been killed up above there; for in our naval dress
we could not have hoped to have escaped. As it is, if we have any
luck, we shall soon be back at Balaklava again."



The fog seemed to get thicker and thicker as the day went on. At
nightfall, when it became evident that no move could be made before
morning, they gave a biscuit to each of their ponies, cut some grass
and laid it before them, and then, wrapping themselves in the Cossack
cloaks to keep off the damp fog, were soon asleep. At day-break the
fog was still thick, but as the sun rose it gradually dispersed it,
and they were shortly able to see up the valley. They found that in
their wandering in the mist they must have moved partly in a circle,
for they were still little more than a quarter of a mile from the
point where they had left it to ascend to the chateau. Round this they
could see many soldiers moving about. Looking up the valley, they
perceived lines of horses, picqueted by a village but a few hundred
yards away.

"Those were the voices I thought I heard, no doubt, when we first came
here," Jack said. "It's lucky we found these trees, for if we had
wandered about a little longer, we might have stumbled into the middle
of them. Now, sir, we had better finish the biscuits we put aside for
breakfast, and be off. It is quite evident the direct way to the camp
is close to us."

Saddling up their horses, and putting on the Cossack black sheepskin
caps and long coats, and taking the lances and carbines, the latter of
which were carried across the saddle before them, they mounted their
ponies and rode off, quitting the wood at such a point that it formed
a screen between them and the cavalry in the distance, until they had
gone well down the valley. They were unnoticed, or at any rate,
unchallenged by the party at the chateau, and, issuing from the
valley, rode out into the open country.

Far out in the plain they saw several Russians moving about, and
judged that these were occupied in searching those who had fallen in
the cavalry fight of the preceding day. They did not approach them,
but turning to the right, trotted briskly along, skirting the foot of
the hills. They passed through two or three Tartar villages whose
inhabitants scarcely glanced at them, so accustomed were they to the
sight of small parties of Cossacks riding hither and thither.

In one, which stood just at the mouth of the valley which they had
determined to enter, as a road running up it seemed to indicate that
it led to some place, perhaps upon the sea-shore, they found several
Russian soldiers loitering about. Lieutenant Myers would have checked
his pony, but Jack rode unhesitatingly forward. An officer came out of
one of the cottages.

"Any news?" he asked.

"None," Jack said. "The enemy's horse came out yesterday, through the
Baida valley, but we beat them back again."

"Where are you going?" the Russian asked.

"Down towards the sea," Jack answered, "to pick up stragglers who land
to plunder. A whole sotina is coming down. They will be here
presently," so saying, with a wave of his hand, he resumed his way up
the valley, Lieutenant Myers having ridden on, lest any questions
should be addressed to him. The road mounted steadily, and after some
hours' riding they crossed a brow, and found themselves at the head of
a valley opening before them, and between the cliffs at its end they
could see the sea.

They could scarcely restrain a shout of joy, and, quickening their
speed, rode rapidly down the valley. Presently they perceived before
them a small village lying on the sea-shore, to the left of which
stood a large chateau, half hidden among trees.

"Do you think it's safe to ride in?" Mr. Myers asked.

"Most of these villages have been found deserted, sir," Jack said, "by
our fellows when they landed. I'm afraid we are beyond the point to
which they come, for I should think we must be twenty miles from
Balaklava. However, there are not likely to be any troops here, and we
needn't mind the Tartars."

They found, as they expected, that the village was wholly deserted,
and, riding through it, they dismounted at the chateau. The doors were
fastened, but, walking round it, they perceived no signs of life, and,
breaking a window, they soon effected an entrance.

They found that the house, which was of great size and evidently
belonged to a Russian magnate, was splendidly furnished, and that it
had so far not been visited by any parties from the ships. Some fine
pictures hung on the walls, choice pieces of statuary were scattered
here and there, tables of malachite and other rare stones stood about,
and Eastern carpets covered the floors.

"We are in clover now, sir," Jack said, "and if we could but charter a
ship, we should be able to make a rich prize. But as our ponies can
only carry us, I'm afraid that all these valuables are worthless to

"I'd give the whole lot of them," the lieutenant said, "for a good
meal. At any rate, we are sure to find something for the ponies."

In the stables behind the house were great quantities of forage and
the ponies soon had their fill.

The officers, taking some corn, of which also there was an abundance,
hammered a quantity between two flat stones, and moistening the rough
flour so obtained, with water, made two flat cakes, with which, baked
over a wood fire, they satisfied their hunger. A consultation was held
while they ate their meal, and it was agreed that as the place was
evidently beyond the range of boats from Balaklava, they had better
ride along the cliffs till they reached some village, where, as they
would find from the state of the houses, parties were in the habit of

After a couple of hours' stay to give the horses time to rest, they
again saddled up and took the road along the coast. After riding two
miles along the edge of the cliffs, they simultaneously checked their
horses, as, upon mounting a slight rise, they saw before them the
tents of a considerable party of Russian soldiers. As they had paused
the moment their heads came above the level, they were themselves
unobserved, and turning, they rode back to the chateau they had
quitted, where, having made their ponies comfortable, they prepared to
pass the night. There were plenty of luxurious beds, and they slept
profoundly all night. In the morning they went down to the sea. Not a
vestige of a boat was to be seen, and they began to question whether
it would not be possible to make a small raft, and to paddle along the
foot of the cliffs.

"We need not trouble about that now," Lieutenant Myers said, "for,
unless I am mistaken, we're going to have a regular Black Sea gale in
an hour or two. The wind is freshening fast, and the clouds banking

The lieutenant was not mistaken. In an hour the wind was blowing in
furious gusts, and the sea breaking heavily in the little bay.

Having nothing to do, they sat under the shelter of a rock, and
watched the progress of the gale. The wind was blowing dead along the
shore, and grew fiercer and fiercer. Three hours passed, and then
Lieutenant Myers leaped to his feet.

"See," he said, "there is a boat coming round the point!"

It was so. Driving before the gale was a ship's boat, a rag of sail
was set, and they could see figures on board.

"She is making in here!" the lieutenant exclaimed. "Let us run down
and signal to them to beach her at that level spot just in front of
the village. No doubt it is some ship's boat which came out to picnic
at one of the villages near Balaklava, and they have been blown along
the coast and have been unable to effect a landing."

The boat's head was now turned towards shore, the sail lowered, and
the oars got out. So high was the sea already, that the spectators
feared every moment she would be swamped, but she was well handled,
and once in the little bay the water grew smoother, and she soon made
her way to the spot where the officers were standing. The latter were
astonished when the men leaped out instantly, and, without a word,
rushed at them, and in a moment both were levelled to the ground by
blows of stretchers. When they recovered from the shock and
astonishment, they found the sailors grouped round them.

"Hallo!" Jack exclaimed in astonishment, "Mr. Simmonds, is that you?
What on earth are you knocking us about like that for?"

"Why, Jack Archer!" exclaimed the officer addressed, "where on earth
did you come from? and what are you masquerading as a Cossack for? We
saw you here, and of course took you for an enemy. I thought you were
up at the front."

"So we were," Jack replied, "but, as you see, we are here now. This is
Lieutenant Myers, of the 'Tartar.'"

"I'm awfully sorry!" Mr. Simmonds said, holding out his hand, and
helping them to their feet.

"It was not your fault," Mr. Myers answered. "We forgot all about our
Cossack dresses. Of course you supposed that we were enemies. It is
fortunate indeed for us that you came here. But I fear you must put to
sea again. There is a Russian camp two miles off on the hill, and the
boat is sure to have been seen."

"It will be awkward," Lieutenant Simmonds said, looking at the sky,
"for it is blowing tremendously. I think, though, that it is breaking
already. These Black Sea gales do not often last long. At any rate, it
would be better to take our chance there than to see the inside of a
Russian prison."

"If you send a man along the road to that crest," Lieutenant Myers
suggested, "he will see them coming, and if we all keep close to the
boat, we may get out of gunshot in time."

A sailor was accordingly despatched up the hill. The instant he
reached the top he was seen to turn hastily, and to come running back
at full speed.

"Now, lads," Mr. Simmonds said, "put your shoulders to her. Now, all
together, get her into the water, and be ready to jump in and push off
when Atkins arrives."

When the sailor was still a hundred yards away the head of a column of
Russian infantry appeared over the crest. When they saw the boat they
gave a shout, and breaking, ran down the hill at full speed. Before
they reached the village, however, Atkins had leaped into the boat,
and with a cheer the men ran her out into the surf, and scrambled in.

"Out oars, lads, and row for your lives!" Mr. Simmonds said, and, with
steady strokes the sailors drove their boat through the waves.

The Russians opened fire the instant they reached the beach, but the
boat was already 150 yards away, and although the bullets fell thickly
round, no one was hit.

"I think, Mr. Myers," Lieutenant Simmonds said, "we had better lay-to,
before we get quite out of shelter of the bay. With steady rowing we
can keep her there, and we shall be out of range of the Russians."

Mr. Myers assented, and for two hours the men, rowing their utmost,
kept the boat stationary, partly sheltered by the cliffs at the mouth
of the bay. The Russians continued to fire, but although the boat was
not wholly beyond their range, and the bullets sometimes fell near,
these were for the most part carried to leeward by the wind, and not a
single casualty occurred.

"The wind is falling fast," Lieutenant Simmonds said. "We could show a
rag of canvas outside now. We had best make a long leg out to sea, and
then, when the wind goes down, we can make Balaklava."

For four or five hours the boat was buffeted in the tremendous seas,
but gradually, as the wind went down, these abated, and after running
twenty miles off the land, the boat's head was turned, and she began
to beat back to Balaklava. It was eleven o'clock that night before
they reached the "Falcon," officers and men completely worn out with
their exertions.

Jack found to his satisfaction that no report of his being missing had
been received by the captain, and next morning at daybreak he and
Lieutenant Myers walked up to camp, regretting the loss of their
ponies, which would, however, they were sure, be found by the Russians
long ere they finished the stores of provender within their reach.

Upon reaching camp they found that their absence had not been noticed
until the afternoon of the second day of their absence. They had been
seen to ride away together, and when in the evening they were found to
be absent, it was supposed that they had gone down to Balaklava and
slept there. When upon the following day they were still missing, it
was supposed that the admiral had retained them for duty on board
ship. The storm, which had scattered everything, had put them out of
the thoughts of the commanding officer, and it was only that morning
that, no letter respecting them having been received, he was about to
write to their respective captains to inquire the cause of their
absence. This was now explained, and as they had been detained by
circumstances altogether beyond their control, they escaped without a
reprimand, and were indeed warmly congratulated upon the adventures
they had passed through.

In the meantime the cannonade had been going on very heavily in front.
The Russian outworks were showing signs of weakness after the
tremendous pounding they were receiving. The French were pushing their
trenches close up to the Malakoff, and upon both sides the soldiers
were busy with pick and shovel. On the night of the 30th August a
tremendous explosion took place, a Russian shell exploding in a French
ammunition wagon, which blew up, killing and wounding 150 officers and

On the following night the naval brigade astonished the camp by giving
private theatricals. The bill was headed "Theatre Royal, Naval
Brigade. On Friday evening, 31st August, will be performed, 'Deaf as a
Post,' to be followed by 'The Silent Woman,' the whole to conclude
with a laughable farce, entitled 'Slasher and Crasher.' Seats to be
taken at seven o'clock. Performance to commence precisely at eight.
God save the Queen. Rule Britannia." The scenes were furnished from
H.M.S. "London." The actors were all sailors of the brigade, the
ladies' parts being taken by young boatswains' mates. Two thousand
spectators closely packed were present, and the performance was
immensely enjoyed in spite of the fact that the shell from the Russian
long-range guns occasionally burst in the neighborhood of the theatre.

The French had now pushed forward their trenches so far that from
their front sap they could absolutely touch the abattis of the
Malakoff. On the 3d the Russians made a sortie, and some heavy
fighting took place in the trenches. The time was now at hand when the
last bombardment was to commence. The French began it early on the
morning of the 5th. They had now got no less than 627 guns in
position, while the English had 202. The news that it was to commence
was kept a profound secret, and few of the English officers knew what
was about to take place. Our own trenches were comparatively empty,
while those of the French were crowded with men who kept carefully out
of sight of the enemy.

Suddenly three jets of earth and dust sprung into the air. The French
had exploded three mines, and at the signal a stream of fire three
miles in length ran from battery to battery, as the whole of their
guns opened fire. The effect of this stupendous volley was terrible.
The iron shower ploughed up the batteries and entrenchments of the
Russians, and crashed among the houses far behind. In a moment the
hillside was wreathed with smoke. With the greatest energy the French
worked their guns, and the roar was continuous and terrible.

For a time the Russians seemed paralyzed by this tremendous fire;
lying quietly in their sheltered subterranean caves, they had no
thought of what was preparing for them, and the storm which burst upon
them took them wholly by surprise. Soon, however, they recovered from
their astonishment, and steadily opened fire in return. The English
guns now joined their voices to the concert, and for two hours the
storm of fire continued unabating on both sides.

After two hours and a half the din ceased, the French artillery-men
waiting to allow their guns to cool. At ten o'clock the French again
exploded some mines, and for two hours renewed their cannonade as
hotly as ever. The Russians could be seen pouring troops across the
bridge over the harbor from their camps on the north side, to resist
the expected attack. From twelve to five the firing was slack. At that
hour the French again began their cannonade as vigorously as before.

When darkness came on, and accurate firing at the enemy's batteries
was no longer possible, the mortars and heavy guns opened fire on the
place. The sky was streaked with lines of fire as the heavy shells
described their curves, bursting with heavy explosions over the town.
Presently a cheer rose from the spectators who thronged the crest of
the bill, for flames were seen bursting out from one of the Russian
frigates. Higher and higher they rose, although by their light the
Russians could be perceived working vigorously to extinguish them. At
last they were seen to be leaving the ship. Soon the flames caught the
mast and rigging, and the pillar of fire lit up the whole town and
surrounding country. Not a moment did our fire slacken, but no
answering flash now shot out from the Russian lines of defence. All
night the fire continued, to prevent the enemy from repairing damages.

The next morning the English played the principal part in the attack,
our batteries commencing at daylight, and continuing their fire all
day. The Russians could be seen to be extremely busy. Hitherto they
had believed that the allies would never be able to take the town; but
the tremendous fire which the allies had now opened, and the close
approach of the French to the Malakoff, had clearly shaken their
confidence at last.

Large quantities of stores were transported during the day to the
north side, and on the heights there great numbers of men were seen to
be laboring at fortifications. The Russian army in the field was
observed to be moving towards Inkerman, and it was believed that it
was about to repeat the experiment of the Tchernaya and to make a
desperate effort to relieve the town by defeating the allied armies in
the field.

All that night the bombardment continued without intermission, the
troops in the trenches keeping up a heavy musketry fire upon the
enemy's works, to prevent them from repairing damages in the dark.

The next day was a repetition of those which had gone before it. The
Russians replied but seldom, and occasionally when the smoke blew
aside, it could be seen that terrible damage was being inflicted on
the Russian batteries. At dusk the cannonade ceased, the shell
bombardment took place, and at eleven a tremendous explosion occurred
in the town.

The Russians from time to time lit up the works with fire-balls and
carcasses, evidently fearing a sudden night attack. During the day a
great council of war was held; and as orders were sent to the surgeons
to send all the patients in the hospital down to Balaklava, and to
prepare for the reception of wounded, it was known that the attack
would take place next day.

Although the Russian fire in reply to the bombardment had been
comparatively slight, from the 3d to the 6th we had three officers and
forty-three men killed; three officers and 189 men wounded.

During these days Jack had been on duty in the batteries, and the
sailors had taken their full part in the work.

There was some disappointment that night in the naval camp when it was
known by the issue of the divisional orders that the sailors were not
to be engaged in the assault. Jack, however, aroused the indignation
of his tent-mates by saying frankly that he was glad that they were
not going to share in the attack.

"It is all very well," he said, "to fight when you have some chance of
hitting back, but to rush across ground swept by a couple of hundred
guns is no joke; and to be potted at by thousands of fellows in
shelter behind trenches. One knows what it was last time. The French
send 12,000 men to attack a battery, we try to carry an equally strong
place with 1000. If I were ordered, of course I should go; but I tell
you fairly, I don't care about being murdered, and I call it nothing
short of murder to send 1000 men to attack such a position as that. We
used to say that an Englishman could lick three Frenchmen, but we
never did it in any battle I ever heard of. Our general seems to think
that an Englishman can lick ten Russians, although he's in the open,
and they're behind shelter, and covered by the fire of any number of
pieces of artillery."

"But we're certain to get in to-morrow, Jack."

"Are we?" Jack questioned; "so every one said last time. It's all very
well for the French, who are already right under the guns of the
Malakoff, and have only twenty yards to run. When they get in and
drive the Russians out, there they are in a big circular fort, just as
they were in the Mamelon, and can hold their own, no matter how many
men the Russians bring up to retake it. We've 300 yards to run to get
into the Redan, and when we get in where are we? Nowhere. Just in an
open work where the Russians can bring their whole strength down upon
us. I don't feel at all sure we're going to take the place to-morrow."

"Why, Archer, you're a regular croaker!" one of the others said. "We
shall have a laugh at you to-morrow evening."

"I hope you will," Jack said; "but I have my doubts. I wish to-morrow
was over, I can tell you. The light division are, as usual, to bear
the brunt of it, and the 33d will do their share. Harry has had good
luck so far, but it will be a hotter thing to-morrow than anything he
has gone into yet, unless indeed the bombardment of the last three
days has taken all heart out of the Russians. Well, let's turn in, for
its bitterly cold to-night, and I for one don't feel disposed for



The morning of the 8th of September was bitterly cold, and a keen wind
blowing from the town raised clouds of dust.

The storming parties were to be furnished by the light and second
divisions. The first storming party of the light division was to
consist of 160 men of the 97th regiment, who were to form in rear of a
covering party of 100 men, furnished by the second battalion, Rifle
brigade. They were to carry ladders for descending into the ditch of
the Redan. Behind them were to come 200 men of the 97th and 300 of the
90th. The supports consisted of 750 men of the 19th and 88th

Therefore the assault was to be made by about 750 men, with an equal
body in support, the remainder of the light division being in reserve.

The covering party of the second division consisted of 100 men of the
3d Buffs; the storming party, with ladders, of 160 of the 3d Buffs,
supported by 260 of the 3d Buffs, 300 of the 41st, with 200 of the
62d, and 100 of the 41st. The rest of the second division were in

The first and Highland divisions were to be formed in the third

The orders were that the British attack was not to commence until the
French had gained possession of the Malakoff. This they did with but
slight loss. The storming columns were immensely strong, as 30,000 men
were gathered in their trenches for the attack upon the Malakoff. This
was effected almost instantaneously.

Upon the signal being given, they leaped in crowds from the advanced
trench, climbed over the abattis, descended the ditch and swarmed up
the rugged slope in hundreds.

The Russians, taken wholly by surprise, vainly fired their cannon, but
ere the men could come out from their underground caves, the French
were already leaping down upon them. It was a slaughter rather than a
fight, and in an incredibly short time the Malakoff was completely in
the possession of the French. In less than a minute from the time they
leaped from the trenches their flag floated on the parapet.

The Russians, recovered from their first surprise, soon made
tremendous attempts to regain their lost position, and five minutes
after the French had entered, great masses of Russians moved forward
to dispute its possession. For seven hours, from twelve to dusk, the
Russians strove obstinately to recover the Malakoff, but the masses of
men which the French poured in as soon as it was captured, enabled
them to resist the assaults.

At length, when night came on, the Russian general, seeing that the
tremendous slaughter which his troops were suffering availed nothing,
withdrew them from the attack.

As the French flag appeared on the Malakoff, the English covering
parties leaped from the trenches, and rushed forward. As they did so a
storm of shot and shell swept upon them, and a great number of men and
officers were killed as they crossed the 250 yards between the
trenches and the Redan. This work was a salient, that is to say a work
whose centre is advanced, the two sides meeting there at an angle. In
case of the Redan it was a very obtuse angle, and the attacks should
have been delivered far up the sides, as men entering at the angle
itself would be exposed to the concentrated fire of the enemy behind
the breastworks which ran across the broad base of the triangle. The
projecting angle was, however, of course the point nearest to the
English lines, and, exposed as they were to the sweeping fire of the
enemy while crossing the open, both columns of assault naturally made
for this point.

The Russian resistance was slight, and the stormers burst into the
work. The abattis had been torn to pieces by the cannonade, and the
men did not wait for the ladders, but leapt into the ditch and
scrambled up on the other side.

The Russians within ran back, and opened a fire from their traverses
and works in the rear. As the English troops entered, they halted to
fire upon the enemy, instead of advancing upon them. The consequence
was that the Russians, who were rapidly reinforced, were soon able to
open a tremendous concentrated fire upon the mass of men in the angle,
and these, pressed upon by their comrades who flocked in behind them,
impeded by the numerous internal works, mixed up in confusion, all
regimental order being lost, were unable either to advance or to use
their arms with effect. In vain the officers strove by example and
shouts to induce them to advance. The men had an idea that the place
was mined, and that if they went forward they would be blown into the
air. They remained stationary, holding their ground, but refusing to
go forward.

Every minute the Russians brought up fresh reserves, and a terrific
fire was concentrated upon the British. The officers, showing
themselves in front, were soon shot down in numbers, and success,
which had been in their hands at first, was now impossible.

For an hour and a half the slaughter continued, and then, as the
Russian masses poured forward to attack them, the remnant who remained
of the storming parties leaped from the parapet and made their way as
best they could through the storm of bullet and shot, back to the

The fight had lasted an hour and three quarters, and in that time we
had lost more men than at Inkerman. Our loss was 24 officers and 119
men killed; 134 officers, and 1897 men wounded. Had the regiments
engaged been composed of the same materials as those who won the
heights of the Alma, the result might have been different, although
even in that case it is questionable whether the small force told off
for the assault would have finally maintained itself against the
masses which the Russians brought up against them. But composed as
they were of young troops, many being lads sent off to the front a few
weeks after being recruited, the success of such an attack, so
managed, was well-nigh impossible from the first.

It was a gloomy evening in the British camps. We were defeated, while
the French were victorious. The fact, too, that the attack had failed
in some degree owing to the misconduct of the men added to the effect
of the failure. It was said that the attack was to be renewed next
morning, and that the Guards and Highland Brigade were to take part in
it. Very gloomy was the talk over the tremendous loss which had taken
place among the officers. From the manner in which these had exposed
themselves to induce their men to follow them, their casualties had
been nearly four times as large as they should have been in proportion
to their numbers.

Jack Archer was in deep grief, for his brother had been severely
wounded, and the doctors gave no strong hopes of his life. He had been
shot in the hip, as he strove to get the men of his company together,
and had been carried to the rear just before the Russian advance drove
the last remnants of the assailants from the salient.

Jack had, with the permission of his commanding officer, gone to sit
by his brother's bedside, and to give his services generally as a
nurse to the wounded.

At eleven o'clock the hut was shaken by a tremendous explosion,
followed a few minutes afterwards by another. Several of the wounded
officers begged Jack to go to Cathcart's Hill, to see what was doing.

Jack willingly complied, and found numbers of officers and men
hastening in the same direction. A lurid light hung over Sebastopol,
and it was evident that something altogether unusual was taking place.

When he reached the spot from which he could obtain a view of
Sebastopol, a wonderful sight met his eye. In a score of places the
town was on fire. Explosion after explosion followed, and by their
light, crowds of soldiers could be seen crossing the bridge. Hour
after hour the grandeur of the scene increased, as fort after fort was
blown up by the Russians. At four o'clock the whole camp was shaken by
a tremendous explosion behind the Redan, and a little later the
magazines of the Flagstaff and Garden batteries were blown up, and the
whole of the Russian fleet, with the exception of the steamers, had
disappeared under the water, scuttled by their late owners. At
half-past five two of the great southern forts, the Quarantine and
Alexander, were blown up, and soon flames began to ascend from Fort

The Russian steamers were all night busy towing boats laden with
stores, from the south to the north side, and when their work was
done, dense columns of smoke were seen rising from the decks. At seven
o'clock in the morning the whole of the Russian troops were safely
across the bridge, which was then dismembered and the boats which
composed it taken over to the north side. By this time Sebastopol was,
from end to end, a mass of flames, and by nightfall nothing save a
heap of smoking ruins, surrounded by shattered batteries, remained of
the city which had, for so many months, kept at bay the armies of
England and France.

All through the night Jack Archer had travelled backwards and forwards
between the crest of the hill and the hospital; for so great was the
interest of the wounded in what was taking place that he could not
resist their entreaties, especially as he could do nothing for his
brother, who was lying in a quiet, half-dreamy state.

The delight of the English army at the fall of the south side of
Sebastopol was greatly tempered by the knowledge that it was due to
the capture of the Malakoff by the French. Their own share in the
attack having terminated by a defeat, and the feeling which had been
excited by the fact that the Guards and Highlanders, who had taken no
part whatever in the trench-work during the winter, and who were in a
high state of efficiency, should have been kept in reserve, while the
boy battalions bore the whole brunt of the attack, found angry
expression among the men.

All that day the allied armies remained quiescent. It was useless to
attempt to occupy the burning town, and the troops might have been
injured by the explosions which took place from time to time of stores
of powder.

The Zouaves, however, and our own sailors made their way down in
considerable numbers, and returned laden with loot from houses which
had so far escaped the conflagration.

Happily the success of the French, and our own failure, did not create
any feeling of unpleasantness between the troops of the two nations.
As the remnants of the French regiments, engaged in the Malakoff,
marched in the morning to their camps, the second division was drawn
up on parade. As the leading regiment of Zouaves came along, the
English regiment nearest to them burst into a hearty cheer, which was
taken up by the other regiments as the French came along, and as they
passed, the English presented arms to their brave allies and the
officers on both sides saluted with their swords.

The next day the officers thronged down to see the ground where the
fighting had taken place. Around the Malakoff the ground was heaped
with dead. Not less had been the slaughter outside the work known as
the Little Redan, where the French attack had been repulsed with
prodigious loss.

The houses of the portion of the town nearest the batteries were found
full of dead men who had crawled in when wounded in front. As a
considerable number of the Russian steamers of war were still floating
under the guns of their batteries on the north side, preparations were
made at once to mount two heavy guns by the water-side; but the
Russians, seeing that the last remains of their fleet would speedily
be destroyed, took matters in their own hands, and on the night of the
11th the six steamers that remained were burnt by the Russians.

After the din which had raged so fiercely for the previous four days,
and the dropping fire which had gone on for a year, the silence which
reigned was strange and almost oppressive. There was nothing to be
done. No turn in the trenches or batteries to be served, nothing to do
but to rest and to prepare for the next winter, which was now almost
upon them.

A week after the fall of Sebastopol the anniversary of the battle of
Alma was celebrated. What great events had taken place since that

None of those who had rested that night on the vine-clad hill they had
won, dreamed of what was before them, or that they were soon to take
part in the greatest siege which the world has ever known. Small
indeed was the proportion of those who had fought at the Alma now
present with the army at Sebastopol. The fight of Inkerman, the mighty
wear and tear in the trenches, the deadly repulses at the Redan, and
above all, the hardships of that terrible winter, had swept away the
noble armies which had landed in the Crimea, and scarcely one in ten
of those who heard the first gun in the Alma was present at the fall
of Sebastopol.

The naval camp was now broken up, the sailors returned on board ship,
and the army prepared to go into winter quarters, that is to say, to
dig deep holes under their tents, to erect sheltering walls, and in
some instances to dig complete subterranean rooms.

A week after the assault Harry Archer was carried down to Balaklava
and put on board ship. The surgeons had in vain endeavored to extract
the bullet, and were unable to give any cheering reply to Jack's
anxious inquiries.

His brother might live; but they owned that his chances were slight.
It was a question of general health and constitution. If mortification
did not set in the wound might heal, and he might recover and carry
the bullet about with him all his life. Of course he had youth and
health on his side, and Jack must hope for the best. The report was
not reassuring, but they could say no more.

Weeks passed on, and the two armies lay watching each other from the
heights they occupied. At last it was determined to utilize the
magnificent fleet which had hitherto done so little. Accordingly an
expedition was prepared, whose object was to destroy the forts at
Kinburn and occupy that place, and so further reduce the sources from
which the Russians drew their food.

The sight was an imposing one, as the allied squadrons in two long
lines steamed north past the harbor of Sebastopol. The British
contingent consisted of six line-of-battle ships, seventeen steam
frigates and sloops, ten gun-boats, six mortar vessels, and nine

On board the men-of-war were 8340 infantry, and 1350 marines. The
transports carried the Royal Artillery, the medical commissariat and
transport corps, stores of all kinds, and the reserve of ammunition.
The French fleet was nearly equal in number to our own.

Steaming slowly, the great squadrons kept their course towards Odessa,
and cast anchor three miles off the town. Odessa is one of the most
stately cities of the sea; broad esplanades lined with trees, with a
background of stately mansions; terrace after terrace of fine houses
rising behind, with numbers of public buildings, barracks, palaces and
churches; stretching away on the flanks, woods dotted with villas and
country houses.

Odessa possessed forts and batteries capable of defending it against
the attack of any small naval force; but these could have made no
defence whatever against so tremendous an armament as that collected
before it. With telescopes those on board were able to make out large
numbers of people walking about or driving on the promenade. Long
lines of dust along the roads showed that many of the inhabitants were
hastily leaving or were sending away valuables, while on the other
hand the glimmer of bayonets among the dust, told of the coming of
troops who were hurrying in all directions to prevent our landing.

Odessa was, however, clearly at our mercy, and considerable
controversy took place at the time as to whether the allies should not
have captured it. Being defended by batteries, it ranked as a
fortified town, and we should have been clearly justified in
destroying these, and in putting the town under a heavy contribution,
which the wealthy city could readily have paid. However, it was for
some reason decided not to do so, and after lying at anchor for five
days, the greater portion of which was passed in a thick fog, the
great fleet steamed away towards Kinburn. The entrance to the gulf
into which the Dneiper and Bug discharge themselves, is guarded by
Fort Kinburn on the one side and by Fort Nikolaev on the other, the
passage between them being about a mile across.

On the 17th fire was opened on Fort Kinburn, and although the Russians
fought bravely, they were unable to withstand the tremendous fire
poured upon them. Twenty-nine out of their seventy-one guns and
mortars were disabled, and the two supporting batteries also suffered
heavily. The barracks were set on fire, and the whole place was soon
in flames. Gradually the Russian fire ceased, and for some time only
one gun was able to answer the tremendous fire poured in upon them.

At last, finding the impossibility of further resistance, the officer
in command hoisted the white flag. The fort on the opposite shore was
blown up by the Russians, and the fleet entered the channel. The
troops were landed, and Kinburn occupied, and held until the end of
the war, and the fleet, after a reconnaissance made by a few gun-boats
up the Dneiper, returned to Sebastopol.

The winter was very dull. Exchanges of shots continued daily between
the north and south side, but with this exception hostilities were
virtually suspended; the chief incident being a tremendous explosion
of a magazine in the centre of the camp, shaking the country for miles
away, and causing a loss to the French of six officers killed and
thirteen wounded, and sixty-five men killed and 170 wounded, while
seventeen English were killed, and sixty-nine wounded. No less than
250,000 pounds of gunpowder exploded, together with mounds of shells,
carcasses and small ammunition. Hundreds of rockets rushed through the
air, shells burst in all directions over the camp, and boxes of small
ammunition exploded in every direction. The ships in the harbors of
Balaklava and Kamiesch rocked under the explosion. Mules and horses
seven or eight miles away broke loose and galloped across the country
wild with fright, while a shower of fragments fell over a circle six
miles in diameter.

On the last day of February the news came that an armistice had been
concluded. The negotiations continued for some time before peace was
finally signed. But the war was at an end, and a few days after the
armistice was signed the "Falcon" was ordered to England, to the great
delight of all on board, who were heartily sick of the long period of



The "Falcon" experienced pleasant weather until passing the Straits of
Gibraltar. Then a heavy gale set in, and for many days she struggled
with the tempest, whose fury was so great that for several hours she
was in imminent danger of foundering.

At last, however, the weather cleared, and two days later the "Falcon"
cast anchor at Spithead. The next day the crew were paid off, and the
vessel taken into dock for much-needed repairs.

Jack's father had already come down to Portsmouth, on the receipt of
his letter announcing his arrival. The day after the ship was paid off
they returned home, and Jack received a joyful greeting from his
family. They found him wonderfully grown and aged during the two years
of his absence. Whereas before he had promised to be short, he was now
above middle height. His shoulders were broad and square, his face
bronzed by sun and wind, and it was not till they heard his merry
laugh that they quite recognized the Jack who had left them.

He soon went down to the town and looked up his former schoolfellows,
and even called upon his old class-master, and ended a long chat by
expressing his earnest hope that the boys at present in his form were
better at their verses than he had been.

A month later Harry, who had quite recovered, joined the circle,
having obtained leave, and the two young fellows were the heroes of a
number of balls and parties given by the major and his friends to
celebrate their return.

Six months later Jack was again appointed to a berth in a fine
frigate, commanded by his cousin. The ship was ordered to the China
seas, where she remained until, at the outbreak of the Indian Mutiny,
she was sent to Calcutta. On their arrival there Jack found that
Captain Peel, under whom he had served before Sebastopol, was
organizing a naval brigade for service ashore. Jack at once waited
upon him, and begged to be allowed to join the brigade. His request
was complied with, and as he had now nearly served his time and passed
his examination he received an appointment as acting lieutenant,
obtaining the full rank after the fight in which the brigade were
engaged on their march up to Cawnpore. He was present at the
tremendous struggle when the relieving force under Lord Clyde burst
its way into Lucknow and carried off the garrison, and also at the
final crushing out of the rebellion at that spot.

At the conclusion of the war he rejoined his ship, and returned with
her when she finally left the station for England, after an absence of
five years. He was now three-and-twenty, and having been twice
mentioned in despatches, was looked upon as a rising young officer.

A month or two after his return he received a letter from Count
Preskoff, with whom he had, at intervals corresponded ever since his
escape from captivity. The count said that he, with the countess and
his youngest daughter, Olga, were at present in Paris. The two elder
girls had been for some years married. The count said that he
intended, after making a stay for some time in Paris, to visit
England, but invited Jack to come over to pay them a visit in Paris.
Jack gladly assented, and a few days later joined his Russian friends
at the Hotel Meurice, in the Rue Rivoli. They received him with the
greatest warmth, and he was soon upon his old terms of familiarity
with them. He found, to his great pleasure, that Olga could now speak
English fluently, and as he had forgotten a good deal of his Russian,
and had learned no French, she often acted as interpreter between him
and her parents. Jack's Russian, however, soon returned to him, and at
the end of a fortnight he was able to converse fluently in it again.

He found Olga very little altered, but she, on her part, protested
that she should not have known him again. He had thought very often of
her during the years which had passed, but although he had steadfastly
clung to the determination he had expressed to his friend Hawtry, of
some day marrying her if she would have him, he was now more alive
than before to the difference between her position and his. The
splendid apartments occupied by the count, his unlimited expenditure,
the beauty of his carriages and horses, all showed Jack the difference
between a great Russian seigneur and a lieutenant on half-pay. Feeling
that he was becoming more and more in love with Olga, he determined to
make some excuse to leave Paris, intending upon his return to apply at
once to be sent on active service.

One morning, accordingly, when alone with the count, he said to him
that he feared he should have to leave for England in a few days, and
it was probable he should shortly join his ship.

The count looked keenly at him.

"My young friend," he said, "have we been making a mistake? The
countess and I have thought that you were attached to our daughter."

"I am so, assuredly," Jack said. "I love your daughter with all my
heart, and have loved her ever since I left her in Russia. But I am
older now. I recognize the difference of position between a penniless
English lieutenant and a great Russian heiress, and it is because I
feel this so strongly that I am thinking that it is best for my own
peace of mind to leave Paris at once, and to return to England and to
embark on service again as soon as possible."

"But how about Olga's happiness?" the count said, smiling.

"I dare not think, sir," Jack said, "that it is concerned in the

"I fear, my young friend, that it is concerned, and seriously. When
you left us in Russia, Olga announced to her mother that she intended
to marry you some day, if you ever came back to ask her. Although I
would, I confess, have rather that she had married a Russian, I had so
great an esteem and affection for you, and owed you so much, that her
mother and myself determined not to thwart her inclination, but to
leave the matter to time. Olga devoted herself to the study of
English. She has, since she grew up, refused many excellent offers,
and when her mother has spoken to her on the subject, her only answer
has been, 'Mamma, you know I chose long ago.' It was to see whether
you also remained true to the affection which Olga believed you gave
her, that we have travelled west, and now that I find you are both of
one mind, you are talking of leaving us and going to sea."

"Oh, sir," Jack exclaimed, delighted, "do you really mean that you
give me permission to ask for your daughter's hand!"

"Certainly I do, Jack," the count replied. "I am quite sure that I can
trust her happiness implicitly to you. The fact that you have nothing
but your pay, matters very little. Olga will have abundance for both,
and I only bargain that you bring her over to Russia every year, for
two or three months, to stay with us. You will, of course, my boy,
give up the sea. Now," he said, "that you have got my consent, you had
better ask Olga's."

Jack found that the count had not spoken too confidently as to the
state of Olga's feelings towards him, and a month later a gay wedding
took place at St. James' Church, the count and his wife staying at
the Bristol Hotel, and Jack's father, mother, and elder brother and
sisters coming up to the wedding. To Jack's great pleasure, he
happened to meet in the streets of London, two or three days before
his wedding, his friend Hawtry, whom he had not seen since they parted
on the Polish frontier, as their ships had never happened to be on
the same station. Hawtry was rejoiced to hear of his friend's good
fortune, and officiated at the wedding as Jack's best man.

A handsome estate in Sussex was purchased by the count, and this, with
the revenues of the estate in Poland, were settled upon her at her
marriage. There does not exist, at present, a happier couple in
England than Mr. and Mrs. Archer; for Olga refused to retain her title
of countess. Except when, at times, the cares of a young family
prevented their leaving home, they have, since their marriage, paid a
visit every year to Russia.

The count and countess are still alive, although now far advanced in
life. The count is still hoping for the reforms which he believed
thirty years ago would do so much for Russia, but he acknowledges that
the fulfilment of his hopes appears to be as far off now as it was

Hawtry is now an admiral, but is still a bachelor, and he generally
spends Christmas with his old comrade, Jack Archer.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Jack Archer" ***

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