Home
  By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon


We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

´╗┐Title: With Frederick the Great - A Story of the Seven Years' War
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 "With Frederick the Great - A Story of the Seven Years' War" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



WITH FREDERICK THE GREAT:

A Story of the Seven Years' War

by

G. A. HENTY.

Illustrated by Wal Paget

1910



Contents

   Preface.
   Chapter  1: King and Marshal.
   Chapter  2: Joining.
   Chapter  3: The Outbreak Of War.
   Chapter  4: Promotion.
   Chapter  5: Lobositz.
   Chapter  6: A Prisoner.
   Chapter  7: Flight.
   Chapter  8: Prague.
   Chapter  9: In Disguise.
   Chapter 10: Rossbach.
   Chapter 11: Leuthen.
   Chapter 12: Another Step.
   Chapter 13: Hochkirch.
   Chapter 14: Breaking Prison.
   Chapter 15: Escaped.
   Chapter 16: At Minden.
   Chapter 17: Unexpected News.
   Chapter 18: Engaged.
   Chapter 19: Liegnitz.
   Chapter 20: Torgau.
   Chapter 21: Home.

Illustrations

   The king walked round Fergus as if he were examining a lay figure

   Two of the newcomers fired hastily--and both missed

   Not a blow was struck, horse and rider went down before them

   As the man was placing his supper on the table, Fergus sprang
   upon him

   Fergus was received by the count, the countess and Thirza with
   great pleasure

   As Fergus was sallying out, a mounted officer dashed by at a
   gallop

   The roar of battle was so tremendous that his horse was well-nigh
   unmanageable

   Before he could extricate himself, Fergus was surrounded by
   Austrians

   "Why, Karl!" Fergus exclaimed, "where do you spring from--when
   did you arrive?"

   Lord Sackville stood without speaking, while the surgeon
   bandaged up his arm

   "Take her, Drummond, you have won your bride fairly and well"

   "As Fergus fell from his horse, Karl, who was riding behind
   him, leapt from his saddle"


Maps

   Map showing battlefields of the Seven Years' War
   Battle of Lobositz
   Battle of Prague
   Battle of Leuthen
   Battle of Zorndorf
   Battle of Hochkirch
   Battle of Torgau



Preface.


[Map: Map showing battlefields of the Seven Years' War]

Among the great wars of history there are few, if any, instances of
so long and successfully sustained a struggle, against enormous
odds, as that of the Seven Years' War, maintained by Prussia--then
a small and comparatively insignificant kingdom--against Russia,
Austria, and France simultaneously, who were aided also by the
forces of most of the minor principalities of Germany. The
population of Prussia was not more than five millions, while that
of the Allies considerably exceeded a hundred millions. Prussia
could put, with the greatest efforts, but a hundred and fifty
thousand men into the field, and as these were exhausted she had
but small reserves to draw upon; while the Allies could, with
comparatively little difficulty, put five hundred thousand men into
the field, and replenish them as there was occasion. That the
struggle was successfully carried on, for seven years, was due
chiefly to the military genius of the king; to his indomitable
perseverance; and to a resolution that no disaster could shake, no
situation, although apparently hopeless, appall. Something was due
also, at the commencement of the war, to the splendid discipline of
the Prussian army at that time; but as comparatively few of those
who fought at Lobositz could have stood in the ranks at Torgau, the
quickness of the Prussian people to acquire military discipline
must have been great; and this was aided by the perfect confidence
they felt in their king, and the enthusiasm with which he inspired
them.

Although it was not, nominally, a war for religion, the
consequences were as great and important as those which arose from
the Thirty Years' War. Had Prussia been crushed and divided,
Protestantism would have disappeared in Germany, and the whole
course of subsequent events would have been changed. The war was
scarcely less important to Britain than to Prussia. Our close
connection with Hanover brought us into the fray; and the weakening
of France, by her efforts against Prussia, enabled us to wrest
Canada from her, to crush her rising power in India, and to obtain
that absolute supremacy at sea that we have never, since, lost. And
yet, while every school boy knows of the battles of ancient Greece,
not one in a hundred has any knowledge whatever of the momentous
struggle in Germany, or has ever as much as heard the names of the
memorable battles of Rossbach, Leuthen, Prague, Zorndorf,
Hochkirch, and Torgau. Carlyle's great work has done much to
familiarize older readers with the story; but its bulk, its
fullness of detail, and still more the peculiarity of Carlyle's
diction and style, place it altogether out of the category of books
that can be read and enjoyed by boys.

I have therefore endeavoured to give the outlines of the struggle,
for their benefit; but regret that, in a story so full of great
events, I have necessarily been obliged to devote a smaller share
than usual to the doings of my hero.

G. A. Henty.



Chapter 1: King and Marshal.


It was early in 1756 that a Scottish trader, from Edinburgh,
entered the port of Stettin. Among the few passengers was a tall
young Scotch lad, Fergus Drummond by name. Though scarcely sixteen,
he stood five feet ten in height; and it was evident, from his
broad shoulders and sinewy appearance, that his strength was in
full proportion to his height. His father had fallen at Culloden,
ten years before. The glens had been harried by Cumberland's
soldiers, and the estates confiscated. His mother had fled with him
to the hills; and had lived there, for some years, in the cottage
of a faithful clansman, whose wife had been her nurse. Fortunately,
they were sufficiently well off to be able to maintain their guests
in comfort; and indeed the presents of game, fish, and other
matters, frequently sent in by other members of the clan, had
enabled her to feel that her maintenance was no great burden on her
faithful friends.

For some years, she devoted herself to her son's education; and
then, through the influence of friends at court, she obtained the
grant of a small portion of her late husband's estates; and was
able to live in comfort, in a position more suited to her former
rank.

Fergus' life had been passed almost entirely in the open air.
Accompanied by one or two companions, sons of the clansmen, he
would start soon after daybreak and not return until sunset, when
they would often bring back a deer from the forests, or a heavy
creel of salmon or trout from the streams. His mother encouraged
him in these excursions, and also in the practice of arms. She
confined her lessons to the evening, and even after she settled on
her recovered farm of Kilgowrie, and obtained the services of a
tutor for him, she arranged that he should still be permitted to
pass the greater part of the day according to his own devices.

She herself was a cousin of the two brothers Keith; the one of
whom, then Lord Marischal, had proclaimed the Old Pretender king at
Edinburgh; and both of whom had attained very high rank abroad, the
younger Keith having served with great distinction in the Spanish
and Russian armies, and had then taken service under Frederick the
Great, from whom he had received the rank of field marshal, and was
the king's greatest counsellor and friend. His brother had joined
him there, and stood equally high in the king's favour. Although
both were devoted Jacobites, and had risked all, at the first
rising in favour of the Old Pretender, neither had taken part in
that of Charles Edward, seeing that it was doomed to failure. After
Culloden, James Keith, the field marshal, had written to his
cousin, Mrs. Drummond, as follows:

"Dear Cousin,

"I have heard with grief from Alexander Grahame, who has come over
here to escape the troubles, of the grievous loss that has befallen
you. He tells me that, when in hiding among the mountains, he
learned that you had, with your boy, taken refuge with Ian the
forester, whom I well remember when I was last staying with your
good husband, Sir John. He also said that your estates had been
confiscated, but that he was sure you would be well cared for by
your clansmen. Grahame told me that he stayed with you for a few
hours, while he was flying from Cumberland's bloodhounds; and that
you told him you intended to remain there, and to devote yourself
to the boy's education, until better times came.

"I doubt not that ere long, when the hot blood that has been
stirred up by this rising has cooled down somewhat, milder measures
will be used, and some mercy be shown; but it may be long, for the
Hanoverian has been badly frightened, and the Whigs throughout the
country greatly scared, and this for the second time. I am no lover
of the usurper, but I cannot agree with all that has been said
about the severity of the punishment that has been dealt out. I
have been fighting all over Europe, and I know of no country where
a heavy reckoning would not have been made, after so serious an
insurrection. Men who take up arms against a king know that they
are staking their lives; but after vengeance comes pardon, and the
desire to heal wounds, and I trust that you will get some portion
of your estate again.

"It is early yet to think of what you are going to make of the boy,
but I am sure you will not want to see him fighting in the
Hanoverian uniform. So, if he has a taste for adventure let him,
when the time comes, make his way out to me; or if I should be
under the sod by that time, let him go to my brother. There will,
methinks, be no difficulty in finding out where we are, for there
are so many Scotch abroad that news of us must often come home.
However, from time to time I will write to you. Do not expect to
hear too often, for I spend far more time in the saddle than at my
table, and my fingers are more accustomed to grasp a sword than a
pen. However, be sure that wherever I may be, I shall be glad to
see your son, and to do my best for him.

"See that he is not brought up at your apron string, but is well
trained in all exercises; for we Scots have gained a great name for
strength and muscle, and I would not that one of my kin should fall
short of the mark."

Maggie Drummond had been much pleased with her kinsman's letter.
There were few Scotchmen who stood higher in the regard of their
countrymen, and the two Keiths had also a European reputation. Her
husband, and many other fiery spirits, had expressed surprise and
even indignation that the brothers, who had taken so prominent a
part in the first rising, should not have hastened to join Prince
Charlie; but the more thoughtful men felt it was a bad omen that
they did not do so. It was certainly not from any want of
adventurous spirit, or of courage, for wherever adventures were to
be obtained, wherever blows were most plentiful, James Keith and
his brother were certain to be in the midst of them.

But Maggie Drummond knew the reason for their holding aloof; for
she had, shortly before the coming over of Prince Charlie, received
a short note from the field marshal:

"They say that Prince Charles Edward is meditating a mad scheme of
crossing to Scotland, and raising his standard there. If so, do
what you can to prevent your husband from joining him. We made but
a poor hand of it, last time; and the chances of success are vastly
smaller now. Then it was but a comparatively short time since the
Stuarts had lost the throne of England, and there were great
numbers who wished them back. Now the Hanoverian is very much more
firmly seated on the throne. The present man has a considerable
army, and the troops have had experience of war on the Continent,
and have shown themselves rare soldiers. Were not my brother Lord
Marischal of Scotland, and my name somewhat widely known, I should
not hang back from the adventure, however desperate; but our
example might lead many who might otherwise stand aloof to take up
arms, which would bring, I think, sure destruction upon them.
Therefore we shall restrain our own inclinations, and shall watch
what I feel sure will be a terrible tragedy, from a distance;
striking perhaps somewhat heavier blows than usual upon the heads
of Turks, Moors, Frenchmen, and others, to make up for our not
being able to use our swords where our inclinations would lead us.

"The King of France will assuredly give no efficient aid to the
Stuarts. He has all along used them as puppets, by whose means he
can, when he chooses, annoy or coerce England. But I have no belief
that he will render any useful aid, either now or hereafter.

"Use then, cousin, all your influence to keep Drummond at home.
Knowing him as I do, I have no great hope that it will avail; for I
know that he is Jacobite to the backbone, and that, if the Prince
lands, he will be one of the first to join him."

Maggie had not carried out Keith's injunction. She had indeed told
her husband, when she received the letter, that Keith believed the
enterprise to be so hopeless a one that he should not join in it.
But she was as ardent in the cause of the Stuarts as was her
husband, and said no single word to deter him when, an hour after
he heard the news of the prince's landing, he mounted and rode off
to meet him, and to assure him that he would bring every man of his
following to the spot where his adherents were to assemble. From
time to time his widow had continued to write to Keith; though,
owing to his being continually engaged on campaigns against the
Turks and Tartars, he received but two or three of her letters, so
long as he remained in the service of Russia. When, however, he
displeased the Empress Elizabeth, and at once left the service and
entered that of Prussia, her letters again reached him.

The connection between France and Scotland had always been close,
and French was a language familiar to most of the upper class; and
since the civil troubles began, such numbers of Scottish gentlemen
were forced either to shelter in France, or to take service in the
French or other foreign armies, that a knowledge of the language
became almost a matter of necessity. In one of his short letters
Keith had told her that, of all things, it was necessary that the
lad should speak French with perfect fluency, and master as much
German as possible. And it was to these points that his education
had been almost entirely directed.

As to French there was no difficulty and, when she recovered a
portion of the estate, Maggie Drummond was lucky in hearing of a
Hanoverian trooper who, having been wounded and left behind in
Glasgow, his term of service having expired, had on his recovery
married the daughter of the woman who had nursed him. He was
earning a somewhat precarious living by giving lessons in the use
of the rapier, and in teaching German; and gladly accepted the
offer to move out to Kilgowrie, where he was established in a
cottage close to the house, where his wife aided in the housework.
He became a companion of Fergus in his walks and rambles and, being
an honest and pleasant fellow, the lad took to him; and after a few
months their conversation, at first somewhat disjointed, became
easy and animated. He learned, too, much from him as to the use of
his sword. The Scotch clansmen used their claymores chiefly for
striking; but under Rudolph's tuition the lad came to be as apt
with the point as he had before been with the edge, and fully
recognized the great advantages of the former. By the time he
reached the age of sixteen, his skill with the weapon was fully
recognized by the young clansmen who, on occasions of festive
gatherings, sometimes came up to try their skill with the young
laird.

From Rudolph, too, he came to know a great deal of the affairs of
Europe, as to which he had hitherto been profoundly ignorant. He
learned how, by the capture of the province of Silesia from the
Empress of Austria, the King of Prussia had, from a minor
principality, raised his country to a considerable power, and was
regarded with hostility and jealousy by all his neighbours.

"But it is only a small territory now, Rudolph," Fergus said.

"'Tis small, Master Fergus, but the position is a very strong one.
Silesia cannot well be invaded, save by an army forcing its way
through very formidable defiles; while on the other hand, the
Prussian forces can suddenly pour out into Saxony or Hanover.
Prussia has perhaps the best-drilled army in Europe, and though its
numbers are small in proportion to those which Austria can put in
the field, they are a compact force; while the Austrian army is
made up of many peoples, and could not be gathered with the speed
with which Frederick could place his force in the field.

"The king, too, is himself, above all things, a soldier. He has
good generals, and his troops are devoted to him, though the
discipline is terribly strict. It is a pity that he and the King of
England are not good friends. They are natural allies, both
countries being Protestant; and to say the truth, we in Hanover
should be well pleased to see them make common cause together, and
should feel much more comfortable with Prussia as our friend than
as a possible enemy.

"However, 'tis not likely that, at present, Prussia will turn her
hand against us. I hear, by letters from home, that it is said that
the Empress of Russia, as well as the Empress of Austria, both hate
Frederick; the latter because he has stolen Silesia from her; the
former because he has openly said things about her such as a woman
never forgives. Saxony and Poland are jealous of him, and France
none too well disposed. So at present the King of Prussia is like
to leave his neighbours alone; for he may need to draw his sword,
at any time, in self defence."

It was but a few days after this that Maggie Drummond received this
short letter from her cousin, Marshal James Keith:

"My dear Cousin,

"By your letter, received a few days since, I learned that Fergus
is now nearly sixteen years old; and is, you say, as well grown and
strong as many lads two or three years older. Therefore it is as
well that you should send him off to me, at once. There are signs
in the air that we shall shortly have stirring times, and the
sooner he is here the better. I would send money for his outfit;
but as your letter tells me that you have, by your economies, saved
a sum ample for this purpose, I abstain from doing so. Let him come
straight to Berlin, and inquire for me at the palace. I have a
suite of apartments there; and he could not have a better time for
entering upon military service; nor a better master than the king,
who loves his Scotchmen, and under whom he is like to find
opportunity to distinguish himself."

A week later, Fergus started. It needed an heroic effort, on the
part of his mother, to let him go from her; but she had, all along,
recognized that it was for the best that he should leave her. That
he should grow up as a petty laird, where his ancestors had been
the owners of wide estates, and were powerful chiefs with a large
following of clansmen and retainers, was not to be thought of.
Scotland offered few openings, especially to those belonging to
Jacobite families; and it was therefore deemed the natural course,
for a young man of spirit, to seek his fortune abroad and, from the
days of the Union, there was scarcely a foreign army that did not
contain a considerable contingent of Scottish soldiers and
officers. They formed nearly a third of the army of Gustavus
Adolphus, and the service of the Protestant princes of Germany had
always been popular among them.

Then, her own cousin being a marshal in the Prussian army, it
seemed to Mrs. Drummond almost a matter of course, when the time
came, that Fergus should go to him; and she had, for many years,
devoted herself to preparing the lad for that service.  Nevertheless,
now that the time had come, she felt the parting no less sorely; but
she bore up well, and the sudden notice kept her fully occupied with
preparations, till the hour came for his departure.

Two of the men rode with him as far as Leith, and saw him on board
ship. Rudolph had volunteered to accompany him as servant, but his
mother had said to the lad:

"It would be better not, Fergus. Of course you will have a soldier
servant, there, and there might be difficulties in having a
civilian with you."

It was, however, arranged that Rudolph should become a member of
the household. Being a handy fellow, a fair carpenter, and ready to
turn his hand to anything, there would be no difficulty in making
him useful about the farm.

Fergus had learnt, from him, the price at which he ought to be able
to buy a useful horse; and his first step, after landing at Stettin
and taking up his quarters at an inn, was to inquire the address of
a horse dealer. The latter found, somewhat to his surprise, that
the young Scot was a fair judge of a horse, and a close hand at
driving a bargain; and when he left, the lad had the satisfaction
of knowing that he was the possessor of a serviceable animal, and
one which, by its looks, would do him no discredit.

Three days later he rode into Berlin. He dismounted at a quiet inn,
changed his travelling dress for the new one that he carried in his
valise, and then, after inquiring for the palace, made his way
there.

He was struck by the number of soldiers in the streets, and with
the neatness, and indeed almost stiffness, of their uniform and
bearing. Each man walked as if on parade, and the eye of the
strictest martinet could not have detected a speck of dust on their
equipment, or an ill-adjusted strap or buckle.

"I hope they do not brace and tie up their officers in that style,"
Fergus said to himself.

He himself had always been accustomed to a loose and easy attire,
suitable for mountain work; and the high cravats and stiff collars,
powdered heads and pigtails, and tight-fitting garments, seemed to
him the acme of discomfort. It was not long, however, before he
came upon a group of officers, and saw that the military etiquette
was no less strict, in their case, than in that of the soldiers,
save that their collars were less high, and their stocks more easy.
Their walk, too, was somewhat less automatic and machine-like, but
they were certainly in strong contrast to the British officers he
had seen, on the occasions of his one or two visits to Perth.

On reaching the palace, and saying that he wished to see Marshal
Keith, he was conducted by a soldier to his apartment; and on the
former taking in the youth's name, he was at once admitted. The
marshal rose from his chair, came forward, and shook him heartily
by the hand.

"So you are Fergus Drummond," he said, "the son of my cousin
Maggie! Truly she lost no time in sending you off, after she got my
letter. I was afraid she might be long before she could bring
herself to part from you."

"She had made up her mind to it so long, sir, that she was prepared
for it; and indeed, I think that she did her best to hurry me off
as soon as possible, not only because your letter was somewhat
urgent, but because it gave her less time to think."

"That was right and sensible, lad, as indeed Maggie always was,
from a child.

"She did not speak too strongly about you, for indeed I should have
taken you for fully two years older than you are. You have lost no
time in growing, lad, and if you lose no more in climbing, you will
not be long before you are well up the tree.

"Now, sit you down, and let me first hear all about your mother,
and how she fares."

"In the first place, sir, she charged me to give you her love and
affection, and to thank you for your good remembrance of her, and
for writing to her so often, when you must have had so many other
matters on your mind."

"I was right glad when I heard that they had given her back
Kilgowrie. It is but a corner of your father's lands; but I
remember the old house well, going over there once, when I was
staying with your grandfather, to see his mother, who was then
living there. How much land goes with it?"

"About a thousand acres, but the greater part is moor and mountain.
Still, the land suffices for her to live on, seeing that she keeps
up no show, and lives as quietly as if she had never known anything
better."

"Aye, she was ever of a contented spirit. I mind her, when she was
a tiny child; if no one would play with her, she would sit by the
hour talking with her dolls, till someone could spare time to perch
her on his shoulder, and take her out."

Marshal Keith was a tall man, with a face thoughtful in repose, but
having a pleasant smile, and an eye that lit up with quiet humour
when he spoke. He enjoyed the king's confidence to the fullest
extent, and was regarded by him not only as a general in whose
sagacity and skill he could entirely rely, but as one on whose
opinion he could trust upon all political questions. He was his
favourite companion when, as happened not unfrequently, he donned a
disguise and went about the town, listening to the talk of the
citizens and learning their opinions upon public affairs.

"I have spoken to the king about your coming, lad, and told him
that you were a kinsman of mine.

"'Indeed, marshal,' the king said, 'from what I can see, it appears
to me that all Scotchmen are more or less kin to each other.'

"'It is so to some extent, your majesty. We Scotchmen pride
ourselves on genealogy, and know every marriage that has taken
place, for ages past, between the members of our family and those
of others; and claim as kin, even though very distant, all those
who have any of our blood running in their veins. But in this case
the kinship is close, the lad's mother being a first cousin of
mine. His father was killed at Culloden, and I promised her, as
soon as the news came to me, that when he had grown up strong and
hearty he should join me, wherever I might be, and should have a
chance of making his fortune by his sword.'

"'You say that he speaks both French and German well? It is more
than I can do,' the king said with a laugh. 'German born and German
king as I am, I get on but badly when I try my native tongue, for
from a child I have spoken nothing but French. Still, it is well
that he should know the language. In my case it matters but little,
seeing that all my court and all my generals speak French. But one
who has to give orders to soldiers should be understood by them.

"'Well, what do you want me to do for the lad?'

"'I propose to make him one of my own aides-de-camp,' I replied,
'and therefore I care not so much to what regiment he is appointed;
though I own that I would far rather see him in the uniform of the
guards, than any other.'

"'You are modest, marshal; but I observe that it is a common fault
among your countrymen. Well, which shall it be--infantry or
cavalry?'

"'Cavalry, since you are good enough to give me the choice, sire.
The uniform looks better, for an aide-de-camp, than that of the
infantry.'

"'Very well, then, you may consider him gazetted as a cornet, in my
third regiment of Guards. You have no more kinsmen coming at
present, Keith?'

"'No, sire; not at present.'

"'If many more come, I shall form them into a separate regiment.'

"'Your majesty might do worse,' I said.

"The king nodded. 'I wish I had half a dozen Scotch regiments; aye,
a score or two. They were the cream of the army of Gustavus
Adolphus, and if matters turn out as I fear they will, it would be
a welcome reinforcement.'

"I will give you a note presently," continued the marshal, "to a
man who makes my uniforms, so that I may present you to the king,
as soon as you are enrolled. You must remember that your favour, or
otherwise, with him will depend very largely upon the fit of your
uniform, and the manner in which you carry yourself. There is
nothing so unpardonable, in his eyes, as a slovenly and ill-fitting
dress. Everything must be correct, to a nicety, under all
circumstances. Even during hot campaigns, you must turn out in the
morning as if you came from a band box.

"I will get Colonel Grunow, who commands your regiment, to tell off
an old trooper, one who is thoroughly up to his work, as your
servant. I doubt not that he may be even able to find you a
Scotchman, for there are many in the ranks--gentlemen who came over
after Culloden, and hundreds of brave fellows who escaped
Cumberland's harryings by taking ship and coming over here, where,
as they supposed, they would fight under a Protestant king."

"But the king is a Protestant, is he not, sir?"

"He is nominally a Protestant, Fergus. Absolutely, his majesty has
so many things to see about that he does not trouble himself
greatly about religion. I should say that he was a disciple of
Voltaire, until Voltaire came here; when, upon acquaintance, he saw
through the vanity of the little Frenchman, and has been much less
enthusiastic about him since.

"By the way, how did you come here?"

"We heard of a ship sailing for Stettin, and that hurried my
departure by some days. I made a good voyage there, and on landing
bought a horse and rode here."

"Well, I am afraid your horse won't do to carry one of my
aides-de-camp, so you had best dispose of it, for what it will
fetch. I will mount you myself. His majesty was pleased to give me
two horses, the other day, and my stable is therefore over full.

"Now, Fergus, we will drink a goblet of wine to your new
appointment, and success to your career."

"From what you said in your letter to my mother, sir, you think it
likely that we shall see service, before long?"

"Aye, lad, and desperate service, too. We have--but mind, this must
go no further--sure news that Russia, Austria, France, and Saxony
have formed a secret league against Prussia, and that they intend
to crush us first, and then partition the kingdom among themselves.
The Empress of Austria has shamelessly denied that any such treaty
exists, but tomorrow morning a messenger will start, with a demand
from the king that the treaty shall be publicly acknowledged and
then broken off, or that he will at once proclaim war. If we say
nine days for the journey there, nine days to return, and three
days waiting for the answer, you see that in three weeks from the
present we may be on the move, for our only chance depends upon
striking a heavy blow before they are ready. We have not wasted our
time. The king has already made an alliance with England."

"But England has no troops, or scarcely any," Fergus said.

"No, lad, but she has what is of quite as much importance in
war--namely, money, and she can grant us a large subsidy. The
king's interest in the matter is almost as great as ours. He is a
Hanoverian more than an Englishman, and you may be sure that, if
Prussia were to be crushed, the allies would make but a single bite
of Hanover. You see, this will be a war of life and death to us,
and the fighting will be hard and long."

"But what grievance has France against the king?"

"His majesty is open spoken, and no respecter of persons; and a
woman may forgive an injury, but never a scornful gibe. It is this
that has brought both France and Russia on him. Madame Pompadour,
who is all powerful, hates Frederick for having made disrespectful
remarks concerning her. The Empress of Russia detests him, for the
same reason. She of Austria has a better cause, for she has never
forgiven the loss of Silesia; and it is the enmity of these women,
as much as the desire to partition Prussia, that is about to plunge
Europe into a war to the full as terrible as that of the thirty
years."

Keith now rung a bell, and a soldier entered.

"Tell Lieutenant Lindsay that I wish to speak to him."

A minute later an officer entered the room, and saluted stiffly.

"Lindsay, this is a young cousin of mine, Fergus Drummond. The king
has appointed him to a cornetcy in the 3rd Royal Dragoon Guards,
but he is going to be one of my aides-de-camp. Now that things are
beginning to move, you and Gordon will need help.

"Take him first to Tautz. I have written a note to the man, telling
him that he must hurry everything on. There is still a spare room
on your corridor, is there not? Get your man to see his things
bestowed there. I shall get his appointment this evening, I expect,
but it will be a day or two before he will be able to get a soldier
from his regiment. He has a horse to sell, and various other
matters to see to. At any rate, look after him, till tomorrow. 'Tis
my hour to go to the king."

Lindsay was a young man of two or three and twenty. He had a merry,
joyous face, a fine figure, and a good carriage; but until he and
Fergus were beyond the limits of the palace, he walked by the lad's
side with scarce a word. When once past the entrance, however, he
gave a sigh of relief.

"Now, Drummond," he said, "we will shake hands, and begin to make
each other's acquaintance. First, I am Nigel Lindsay, very much at
your service. On duty I am another person altogether, scarcely
recognizable even by myself--a sort of wooden machine, ready, when
a button is touched, to bring my heels smartly together, and my
hand to the salute. There is something in the air that stiffens
one's backbone, and freezes one from the tip of one's toes to the
end of one's pigtail. When one is with the marshal alone, one
thaws; for there is no better fellow living, and he chats to us as
if we were on a mountain side in Scotland, instead of in
Frederick's palace. But one is always being interrupted; either a
general, or a colonel, or possibly the king himself, comes in.

"For the time, one becomes a military statue; and even when they
go, it is difficult to take up the talk as it was left. Oh, it is
wearisome work, and heartily glad I shall be, when the trumpets
blow and we march out of Berlin. However, we are beginning to be
pretty busy. I have been on horseback, twelve hours a day on an
average, for the past week. Gordon started yesterday for Magdeburg,
and Macgregor has been two days absent, but I don't know where.
Everyone is busy, from the king himself--who is always busy about
something--to the youngest drummer. Nobody outside a small circle
knows what it is all about. Apparently we are in a state of
profound peace, without a cloud in the sky, and yet the military
preparations are going on actively, everywhere.

"Convoys of provisions are being sent to the frontier fortresses.
Troops are in movement from the Northern Provinces. Drilling is
going on--I was going to say night and day, for it is pretty nearly
that--and no one can make out what it is all about.

"There is one thing--no one asks questions. His majesty thinks for
his subjects, and as he certainly is the cleverest man in his
dominions, everyone is well content that it should be so.

"And now, about yourself. I am running on and talking nonsense,
when I have all sorts of questions to ask you. But that is always
the way with me. I am like a bottle of champagne, corked down while
I am in the palace, and directly I get away the cork flies out by
itself, and for a minute or two it is all froth and emptiness.

"Now, when did you arrive, how did you arrive, what is the last
news from Scotland, which of the branches of the Drummonds do you
belong to, and how near of kin are you to the marshal? Oh, by the
way, I ought to know the last without asking; as you are a
Drummond, and a relation of Keith, you can be no other than the son
of the Drummond of Tarbet, who married Margaret Ogilvie, who was a
first cousin of Keith's."

"That is right," Fergus said. "My father fell at Culloden, you
know. As to all your other questions, they are answered easily
enough. I know very little of the news in Scotland, for my mother
lived a very secluded life at Kilgowrie, and little news came to us
from without. I came from Leith to Stettin, and there I bought a
horse and rode on here."

His companion laughed.

"And how about yourself? I suppose you know nothing of this beastly
language?"

"Yes; I can speak it pretty fluently, and of course know French."

"I congratulate you, though how you learnt it, up in the hills, I
know not. I did not know a word of it, when I came out two years
ago; and it is always on my mind, for of course I have a master
who, when I am not otherwise engaged, comes to me for an hour a
day, and well nigh maddens me with his crack-jaw words; but I don't
seem to make much progress. If I am sent with an order, and the
officer to whom I take it does not understand French, I am floored.
Of course I hand the order, if it is a written one, to him. If it
is not, but just some verbal message, asking him to call on the
marshal at such and such a time, I generally make a horrible mess
of it. He gets in a rage with me, because he cannot understand me.
I get in a rage with him, for his dulness; and were it not that he
generally manages to find some other officer, who does understand
French, the chances are very strongly against Keith's message being
attended to.

"First of all, I will take you to our quarters. That is the house."

"Why, I thought you lodged in the palace?"

"Heaven forbid! Macgregor has a room in the chief's suite of apartments.
He is senior aide-de-camp, and if there is any message to be sent late,
he takes it; but that is not often the case.  Gordon lodges here with
me. The house is a sort of branch establishment to the palace. Malcolm
Menzies and Horace Farquhar, two junior aides of the king, are in the
same corridor with us. Of course we make up a party by ourselves. Then
there are ten or twelve German officers--some of them aides-de-camp
of the Princes Maurice and Henry, the Prince of Bevern and General
Schwerin--besides a score or so of palace officials.

"Fortunately the Scotch corridor, as we call it, has a separate
entrance, so we can go in or out without disturbing anyone. It is a
good thing, for in fact we and the Prussians do not get on very
well together. They have a sort of jealousy of us; which is, I
suppose, natural enough. Foreigners are never favourites, and
George's Hanoverian officers are not greatly loved in London. I
expect a campaign will do good, that way. They will see, at any
rate, that we don't take our pay for nothing, and are ready to do a
full share and more of fighting; while we shall find that these
stiff pipe-clayed figures are brave fellows, and good comrades,
when they get a little of the starch washed out of them.

"Now, this is my room, and I see my man has got dinner ready."



Chapter 2: Joining.


In answer to the shout of "Donald," a tall man in the pantaloons of
a Prussian regiment, but with his tunic laid aside, came out from a
small room that served as a kitchen, and dormitory, for himself.

"I am just ready, sir," he said. "Hearing you talking as you came
along, and not knowing who you might have with you, I just ran in
to put on my coat; but as you passed, and I heard it was Scottish
you were speaking, I knew that it didna matter."

"Put another plate and goblet on the table, Donald. I hope that you
have meat enough for two of us."

"Plenty for four," the soldier said. "The market was full this
morning, and the folk so ta'en up wi' this talk of war, and so
puzzled because no one could mak' out what it was about, that they
did more gossiping than marketing. So when the time came for the
market to close, I got half a young pig at less than I should hae
paid for a joint, as the woman did not want to carry it home
again."

"That is lucky. As you are from Perth, Donald, it is possible you
may know this gentleman. He is Mr. Fergus Drummond, of Tarbet."

"I kenned his father weel; aye, and was close beside him at
Culloden, for when our company was broken I joined one that was
making a stand, close by, and it was Drummond who was leading it.
Stoutly did we fight, and to the end stood back to back, hewing
with our claymores at their muskets.

"At last I fell, wounded, I couldna say where at the time. When I
came to myself and, finding that all was quiet, sat up and felt
myself over, I found that it was a musket bullet that had ploughed
along the top of my head, and would ha' killed me had it not been
that my skull was, as my father had often said when I was a boy,
thicker than ordinary. There were dead men lying all about me; but
it was a dark night, and as there was no time to be lost if I was
to save my skin, I crawled away to some distance from the field;
and then took to my heels, and did not stop till next morning, when
I was far away among the hills."

While he was talking, Donald had been occupied in adding a second
plate and knife and fork and glass, and the two officers sat down
to their meal. Fergus asked the soldier other questions as to the
fight in which his father had lost his life; for beyond that he had
fought to the last with his face to the foe, the lad had never
learnt any particulars, for of the clansmen who had accompanied his
father not one had ever returned.

"Mr. Drummond will take the empty room next to mine, Donald. I am
going down now with him, to the inn where he has left his horse. As
he has a few things there, you had best come with us and bring them
here."

The landlord of the inn, on hearing that Fergus wished to sell his
horse, said that there were two travellers in the house who had
asked him about horses; as both had sold, to officers, fine animals
they had brought in from the country, there being at present a
great demand for horses of that class. One of these persons came in
as they were speaking, and after a little bargaining Fergus sold
the horse to him, at a small advance on the price he had given for
it at Stettin. The landlord himself bought the saddle and bridle,
for a few marks; saying that he could, at any time, find a customer
for such matters. Donald took the valises and cloak, and carried
them back to the palace.

"That matter is all comfortably settled," Lindsay said. "Now we are
free men, but my liberty won't last long. I shall have to go on
duty again, in half an hour. But at any rate, there is time to go
first with you to the tailor's, and put your uniform in hand."

"I wish to be measured for the uniform of the 3rd Royal Dragoon
Guards," Fergus said, as he entered the shop and the proprietor
came up to him.

"Yes, Herr Tautz; and his excellency, Marshal Keith," Lindsay put
in, "wishes you to know that the dress suit must be made instantly,
or quicker if possible; for his majesty may, at any moment, order
Mr. Drummond to attend upon him. Mr. Drummond is appointed one of
the marshal's aides-de-camp; and as, therefore, he will often come
under the king's eye, you may well believe that the fit must be of
the best, or you are likely to hear of it, as well as Mr.
Drummond."

"I will put it in hand at once, lieutenant. It shall be cut out
without delay; and in three hours, if Mr. Drummond will call here,
it shall be tacked together in readiness for the first trying on.
By eight o'clock tomorrow morning it shall be ready to be properly
fitted, and unless my men have bungled, which they very seldom do,
it shall be delivered by midday."

"Mr. Drummond lodges in the next room to myself," the lieutenant
said; "and my servant is looking after him, till he gets one of his
own, so you can leave it with him."

While the conversation was going on, two of the assistants were
measuring Fergus.

"Will you have the uniform complete, with belts, helmet, and all
equipments?"

"Everything except the sword," Fergus said.

"At least I suppose, Lindsay, we can carry our own swords."

"Yes, the king has made that concession, which is a wonderful one,
for him, that Scottish officers in his service may carry their own
swords. You see, ours are longer and straighter than the German
ones, and most of us have learnt our exercises with them, and
certainly we would not fight so well with others; besides, the iron
basket protects one's hand and wrist vastly better than the foreign
guard. The concession was first made only to generals, field
officers and aides-de-camp; but Keith persuaded the king, at last,
to grant it to all Scottish officers, pointing out that they were
able to do much better service with their own claymores, than with
weapons to which they were altogether unaccustomed; and that
Scottish men were accustomed to fight with the edge, and to strike
downright sweeping blows, whereas the swords here are fitted only
for the point, which, although doubtless superior in a duel, is far
less effective in a general melee."

"I should certainly be sorry to give up my own sword," Fergus said.
"It was one of my father's, and since the days when I was big
enough to begin to use it, I have always exercised myself with it;
though I, too, have learned to use the point a great deal, as I had
a German instructor, as well as several Scottish ones."

"Except in a duel," Lindsay said, "I should doubt if skill goes for
very much. I have never tried it myself, for I have never had the
luck to be in battle; but I fancy that in a cavalry charge strength
goes for more than skill, and the man who can strike quickly and
heavily will do more execution than one trained to all sorts of
nice points and feints. I grant that these are useful, when two men
are watching each other; but in the heat of a battle, when every
one is cutting and thrusting for his life, I cannot think that
there is any time for fooling about with your weapon."

They had by this time left the shop, and were strolling down the
streets.

"Is there much duelling here?"

"It is strictly forbidden," Lindsay said, with a laugh; "but I need
hardly say that there is a good deal of it. Of course, pains are
taken that these affairs do not come to his majesty's ears. Fever,
or a fall from a horse, account satisfactorily enough for the
absence of an officer from parade, and even his total disappearance
from the scene can be similarly explained. Should the affair come
to the king's ears, 'tis best to keep out of his way until it has
blown over.

"Of course, with us it does not matter quite so much as with
Prussian officers. Frederick's is not the only service open to us.
Good swords are welcome either at the Russian or Austrian courts,
to say nothing of those of half a dozen minor principalities. At
all of these we are sure to find countrymen and friends, and if
England really enters upon the struggle--and it seems to me that if
there is a general row she can scarcely stand aloof--men who have
learned their drill and seen some service might be welcomed, even
if their fathers wielded their arms on the losing side, ten years
ago.

"Of course, to a Prussian officer it would be practical ruin to be
dismissed from the army. This is so thoroughly well understood
that, in cases of duels, there is a sort of general conspiracy on
the part of all the officers and surgeons of a regiment to hush the
matter up. Still, if an officer is insulted--or thinks that he is
insulted, which is about the same thing--he fights, and takes the
consequences.

"I am not altogether sorry that I am an aide-de-camp, and I think
that you can congratulate yourself on the same fact; for we are not
thrown, as is a regimental officer, into the company of Prussians,
and there is therefore far less risk of getting into a quarrel.

"I have no doubt the marshal, himself, will give you a few lessons
shortly. He is considered to be one of the finest swordsmen in
Europe, and in many respects he is as young as I am, and as fond of
adventure. He gave me a few when I first came to him, but he said
that it was time thrown away, for that I must put myself in the
hands of some good maitre d'armes before he could teach me anything
that would be useful. I have been working hard with one since, and
know a good deal more about it than I did; but my teacher says that
I am too hot and impetuous to make a good swordsman, and that
though I should do well enough in a melee, I shall never be able to
stand up against a cool man, in a duel. Of course the marshal had
no idea of teaching me arms, but merely, as he said, of showing me
a few passes that might be useful to me, on occasion. In reality he
loves to keep up his sword play, and once or twice a week Van
Bruff, who is the best master in Berlin, comes in for half an
hour's practice with him, before breakfast."

After Lindsay had left him at the entrance to the palace, Fergus
wandered about the town for some hours, and then went to the
tailor's and had his uniform tried on. Merely run together though
it was, the coat fitted admirably.

"You are an easy figure to fit, Herr Drummond," the tailor said.
"There is no credit in putting together a coat for you. Your
breeches are a little too tight--you have a much more powerful leg
than is common--but that, however, is easily altered.

"Here are a dozen pairs of high boots. I noticed the size of your
foot, and have no doubt that you will find some of these to fit
you."

This was indeed the case, and among a similar collection of
helmets, Fergus also had no difficulty in suiting himself.

"I think that you will find everything ready for you by half-past
eight," the tailor said, "and I trust that no further alteration
will be required. Six of my best journeymen will work all night at
the clothes; and even should his majesty send for you by ten, I
trust that you will be able to make a proper appearance before him,
though at present I cannot guarantee that some trifling alteration
will not be found necessary, when you try the uniforms on."

Fergus supped with the marshal, who had now time to ask him many
more questions about his home life, and the state of things in
Scotland.

"'Tis a sore pity," he said, "that we Scotchmen and Irishmen, who
are to be found in such numbers in every European army, are not all
arrayed under the flag of our country. Methinks that the time is
not far distant when it will be so. I am, as you know, a Jacobite;
but there is no shutting one's eyes to the fact that the cause is a
lost one. The expedition of James the Third, and still more that of
Charles Edward, have caused such widespread misery among the
Stuarts' friends that I cannot conceive that any further attempt of
the same kind will be made.

"In fact, there is no one to make it. The prince has lost almost
all his friends, by his drunken habits and his quarrelsome and
overbearing disposition. He has gone from court to court as a
suppliant, but has everywhere alienated the sympathies of those
most willing to befriend him. I may say that as a King of England
and Scotland he is now impossible, and his own habits have done
more to ruin his cause than even the defeat of Culloden. There are
doubtless many, in both countries, who consider themselves
Jacobites, but it is a matter of sentiment and not of passion.

"At any rate, there is no head to the cause now, and cannot
possibly be unless the prince had a son; therefore, for at least
five-and-twenty years, the cause is dead. Even if the prince leaves
an heir, it would be absurd to entertain the idea that, after the
Stuarts have been expelled from England a hundred years, any
Scotchman or Englishman would be mad enough to risk life and
property to restore them to the throne.

"Another generation and the Hanoverians will have become
Englishmen, and the sentiment against them as foreigners will have
died out. Then there will be no reason why Scotchmen and Irishmen
should any longer go abroad, and all who wish it will be able to
find employment in the army of their own country.

"This, indeed, might have happened long before this, had the
Georges forgotten that they were Electors of Hanover as well as
Kings of Great Britain; and had surrounded themselves with
Englishmen instead of filling their courts with Germans, whose
arrogance and greed made them hateful to Englishmen, and kept
before their eyes the fact that their kings were foreigners.
Hanover is a source of weakness instead of strength to Great
Britain, and its loss would be an unmixed benefit to her; for as
long as it remains under the British crown, so long must Britain
play a part in European politics--a part, too, sometimes absolutely
opposed to the interests of the country at large."

After supper was over, two general officers dropped in for a chat
with the marshal. He introduced Fergus to them, and the latter then
retired and joined the little party of Scottish officers at
Lindsay's quarters. Lindsay introduced him to them, and he was very
heartily received, and it was not until very late that they turned
into bed.

At half-past eight next morning Fergus went to the tailor's, and
found that he had kept his promise, to the letter. The uniforms
fitted admirably, and were complete in every particular. As Marshal
Keith had, the evening before, informed him that he had received
his appointment to the 3rd Royal Dragoon Guards, he had no
hesitation in putting on a uniform when, a quarter of an hour
later, it arrived at his quarters. Donald went out and fetched a
hairdresser, who combed, powdered, and tied up his hair in proper
military fashion. When he left, Donald took him in hand, attired
him in his uniform, showed him the exact angle at which his belt
should be worn, and the military salute that should be given.

It was fortunate that he was in readiness, for at half-past ten
Lindsay came in with a message from the marshal that he was, at
once, to repair to the palace, with or without a uniform; as the
king had sent to say that he should visit Keith at eleven, and that
he could then present his cousin to him.

It could not be said that Fergus felt comfortable, as he started
from his quarters. Accustomed to a loose dress and light shoes, he
felt stiff and awkward in his tight garments, closely buttoned up,
and his heavy jack boots; and he found himself constrained to walk
with the same stiffness and precision that had amused him in the
Prussian officers, on the previous day.

"So you have got your uniform," the marshal said, as Fergus entered
and saluted, as Donald had instructed him. "It becomes you well,
lad, and the king will be pleased at seeing you in it. He could not
have blamed you had it not been ready, for the time has been short,
indeed; but he will like to see you in it, and will consider that
it shows alacrity and zeal."

Presently the door opened and, as the marshal rose and saluted,
Fergus knew that it was the king. He had never had the king
described to him, and had depicted to himself a stiff and somewhat
austere figure; but the newcomer was somewhat below middle height,
with a kindly face, and the air rather of a sober citizen than of a
military martinet. The remarkable feature of his face were his
eyes, which were very large and blue, with a quick piercing glance
that seemed to read the mind of anyone to whom he addressed
himself. So striking were they that the king, when he went about
the town in disguise, was always obliged to keep his eyes somewhat
downcast; as, however well made up, they would have betrayed him at
once, had he looked fixedly at anyone who had once caught sight of
his face.

"Good morning, marshal!" he said, in a friendly tone. "So this is
my last recruit--a goodly young fellow, truly."


[Illustration: The king walked round Fergus as if he were
examining a lay figure]


He walked round Fergus as if he were examining a lay figure,
closely scrutinizing every article of his appointment, and then
gave a nod of approbation.

"Always keep yourself like that, young sir. An officer is unfit to
take charge of men, unless he can set an example of exactness in
dress. If a man is precise in little things, he will be careful in
other matters.

"Although he is going to be your aide-de-camp, Keith, he had better
go to his regimental barracks, and drill for a few hours a day, if
you can spare him."

"He shall certainly do so, sire. I spoke to his colonel yesterday
evening, and told him that I would myself take the lad down to him,
this morning, and present him to his comrades of the regiment. It
would be well if he could have six months' drilling, for an
aide-de-camp should be well acquainted with the meaning of the
orders he carries; as he is, in that case, far less likely to make
mistakes than he would otherwise be. Your majesty has nothing more
to say to him?"

"Nothing. I hope he is not quarrelsome. But there, it is of no use
my hoping that, Keith; for your Scotchman is a quarrelsome creature
by nature, at least so it seems to me. Of the duels that, in spite
of my orders, take place--I know you all try to hide them from me,
Keith--I hear of a good many between these hot-headed countrymen of
yours and my Prussian officers."

"With deference to your majesty, I don't think that that proves
much. It would be as fair to say that these duels show how
aggressive are your Prussian officers towards my quiet and patient
countrymen.

"Now you can retire, cornet."

Fergus gave the military salute, and retired to the anteroom.

"Have you passed muster?" Lindsay asked with a laugh.

"Yes; at least the king found nothing wrong. He was not at all what
I thought he would be."

"No; I was astonished myself, the first time I saw him. He is a
capital fellow, in spite of his severity in matters of military
etiquette and discipline. He is very kind hearted, does not stand
at all upon his dignity, bears no malice, and very soon remits
punishment he has given in the heat of the moment. I think that he
regards us Scots as being a people for whom allowances must be
made, on the ground of our inborn savagery and ignorance of
civilized customs. He does not mind plain speaking on our part and,
if in the humour, will talk with us much more familiarly than he
would do to a Prussian officer."

In a few minutes the bell in the next room sounded. Lindsay went
in.

"Are the horses at the door?"

"Yes, marshal."

"Then we will mount at once. I told the colonel of the 3rd that I
should be at the barracks by twelve o'clock, unless the king wanted
me on his business."

Fergus had already put on his helmet, and he and Lindsay followed
Keith downstairs. In the courtyard were the horses, which were held
by orderlies.

"That is yours, Fergus," Keith said. "It has plenty of bone and
blood, and should carry you well for any distance."

Fergus warmly thanked the marshal for the gift. It was a very fine
horse, and capable of carrying double his weight. It was fully
caparisoned with military bridle and saddle and horse cloth.

They mounted at once. The orderlies ran to their horses, which were
held by a mounted trooper, and the four fell in behind the
officers. Lindsay and Fergus rode half a length behind the marshal,
but the latter had some difficulty in keeping his horse in that
position.

The marshal smiled.

"It does not understand playing second fiddle, Fergus. You see, it
has been accustomed to head the procession."

As they rode along through the street, all officers and soldiers
stood as stiff as statues at the salute, the marshal returning it
as punctiliously, though not as stiffly. In a quarter of an hour
they arrived at the gate of a large barracks. The guard turned out
as soon as the marshal was seen approaching, and a trumpet call was
heard in the courtyard as they entered the gate.

Fergus was struck with the spectacle, the like of which he had
never seen before. The whole regiment was drawn up in parade order.
The colonel was some distance in the front, the officers ranged at
intervals behind him. Suddenly the colonel raised his sword above
his head, a flash of steel ran along the line, eight trumpeters
sounded the first note of a military air, and the regiment stood at
the salute, men and horses immovable, as if carved in stone. A
minute later the music stopped, the colonel raised his sword again,
there was another flash of steel, and the salute was over. Then the
colonel rode forward to meet the marshal.

"Nothing could have been better, my dear colonel," the latter said.
"As I told you yesterday, my inspection of your regiment is but a
mere form, for I know well that nothing could be more perfect than
its order; but I must report to the king that I have inspected all
the regiments now in Berlin and Potsdam, and others that will form
my command, should any untoward event disturb the peace of the
country.

"But before I begin, permit me to present to you this young officer,
who was yesterday appointed to your regiment. I have already spoken
to you of him. This is Cornet Fergus Drummond, a cousin of my own,
and whom I recommend strongly to you. As I informed you, he will for
the present act as one of my aides-de-camp."

"You have lost no time in getting your uniform, Mr. Drummond," the
colonel said. "I am sure that you will be most cordially received,
by all my officers as by myself, as a relation of the marshal, whom
we all respect and love."

"I will now proceed to the inspection," the marshal said, and he
proceeded towards the end of the line.

The colonel rode beside him, but a little behind. The two
aides-de-camp followed, and the four troopers brought up the rear.
They proceeded along the front rank, the officers having before
this taken up their position in the line. The marshal looked
closely at each man as he passed, horse as well as man being
inspected.

"I do not think, colonel, that the king himself could have
discovered the slightest fault or blemish. The regiment is simply
perfect. I hope that during the next few days you will have every
shoe inspected by the farrier, and every one showing the least
signs of wear taken off and replaced; and that you will also direct
the captains of troops to see that the men's kits are in perfect
order."

"That shall be done, sir, though I own that I cannot see against
whom we are likely to march; for though the air is full of rumours,
all our neighbours seem to think of nothing so little as war."

"It may be," Keith said with a smile, "that it is merely his
majesty's intention to see in how short a time we can place an
army, complete in every particular and ready for a campaign, in the
field. His majesty is fond of trying military experiments."

"I hope, marshal, that you will do us the honour of drinking a
goblet of champagne with us. Some of my officers have not yet been
presented to you, and I shall be glad to take the opportunity of
doing so."

"With pleasure, colonel. A good offer should never be refused."

By this time they had moved to the front of the regiment.

"Officers and men of the 3rd Royal Dragoon Guards," Keith said in a
loud voice, "I shall have great pleasure in reporting to the king
the result of my inspection, that the regiment is in a state of
perfect efficiency, and that I have been unable to detect the
smallest irregularity or blemish. I am quite sure that, if you
should at any time be called upon to fight the enemies of your
country, you will show that your conduct and courage will be fully
equal to the excellence of your appearance. I feel that whatever
men can do you will do.

"God save the king!"

He lifted his plumed hat. The trumpet sounded, the men gave the
royal salute, and then a loud cheer burst from the ranks; for the
rumours current had raised a feeling of excitement throughout the
regiment, and though no man could see from what point danger
threatened, all felt that great events were at hand.

The regiment was then dismissed, hoarse words of command were
shouted, and each troop moved off to its stable; while the colonel
and Keith rode to the officers' anteroom, the trumpets at the same
time sounding the officers' call. In a few minutes all were
gathered there. The colonel first presented some of his young
officers to the marshal, and then introduced Fergus to his new
comrades, among whom were two Scotch officers.

"Mr. Drummond will, for the present, serve with the marshal as one
of his aides-de-camp; but I hope that he will soon join the
regiment where, at any rate, he will at all times find a warm
welcome."

Keith had already told the colonel that, for the present, Fergus
would be released from all duty as an aide-de-camp, and would spend
his time in acquiring the rudiments of drill.

Champagne was now served round. The officers drank the health of
the marshal, and he in return drank to the regiment; then all
formality was laid aside for a time, and the marshal laughed and
chatted with the officers, as if he had been one of themselves.
Fergus was surrounded by a group, who were all pleased at finding
that he could already talk the language fluently; and in spite of
the jealousy of the Scottish officers, felt throughout the service,
the impression that he made was a very favourable one; and the
hostility of race was softened by the fact that he was a near
relation of the marshal, who was universally popular. He won
favour, too, by saying, when the colonel asked whether he would
rather have a Scottish or a Prussian trooper assigned to him, as
servant and orderly, that he would choose one of the latter.

After speaking to the adjutant the colonel gave an order and, two
minutes later, a tall and powerful trooper entered the room and
saluted. The adjutant went up to him.

"Karl Hoger," he said, "you are appointed orderly and servant to
Mr. Fergus Drummond. He is quartered at the officers' house, facing
the palace. You will take your horse round there, and await his
arrival. He will show you where it is to be stabled. You are
released from all regimental duty until further orders."

The man saluted and retired, without the slightest change of face
to show whether the appointment was agreeable to him, or otherwise.

Half an hour later the marshal mounted and, with his party, rode
back to the palace. After he had dismounted, Lindsay and Fergus
rode across to their quarters. Karl Hoger was standing at the
entrance, holding his horse. He saluted as the two officers came
up.

"I will go in and see if dinner is ready," Lindsay said. "I told
Donald that we should be back at half-past one, and it is nearly
two now, and I am as hungry as a hunter."

Fergus led the way to the stable, and pointed out to the trooper
the two stalls that the horses were to occupy; for each room in the
officers' quarters had two stalls attached to it, the one for the
occupant, the other for his orderly.

"I suppose you have not dined yet, Karl?"

"No, sir, but that does not matter."

"I don't want you to begin by fasting. Here are a couple of marks.
When you have stabled the horses and finished here, you had better
go out and get yourself dinner. I shall not be able to draw rations
for you for today.

"After you have done, come to the main entrance where I met you and
take the first corridor to the left. Mine is the fifth door on the
right-hand side. If I am not in, knock at the next door to it on
this side. You will see Lieutenant Lindsay's name on it.

"You need not be in any hurry over your meal, for I am just going
to have dinner, and certainly shall not want you for an hour."

On reaching Lindsay's quarters Fergus found that dinner was
waiting, and he and Lindsay lost no time in attacking a fine fish
that Donald had bought in the market.

"That is a fine regiment of yours, Drummond," Lindsay said.

"Magnificent. Of course, I never saw anything like it before, but
it was certainly splendid."

"Yes. They distinguished themselves in the campaigns of Silesia
very much. Their colonel, Grim, is a capital officer--very strict,
but a really good fellow, and very much liked by his officers.
However, if I were you, I should be in no hurry to join. I had two
years and a half in an infantry regiment, before Keith appointed me
one of his aides-de-camp, and I can tell you it was hard
work--drill from morning till night. We were stationed at a
miserable country place, without any amusements or anything to do;
and as at that time there did not seem the most remote chance of
active service, it was a dog's life. Everyone was surly and ill
tempered, and I had to fight two duels."

"What about?"

"About nothing, as far as I could see. A man said something about
Scotch officers, in a tone I did not like. I was out of temper, and
instead of turning it off with a laugh I took it up seriously, and
threw a glass at his head. So of course we fought. We wounded each
other twice, and then the others stopped it. The second affair was
just as absurd, except that there I got the best of it, and sliced
the man's sword arm so deeply that he was on the sick list for two
months--the result of an accident, as the surgeon put it down. So
although I don't say but that there is a much better class of men
in the 3rd than there was in my regiment, I should not be in any
hurry to join.

"If there is a row, you will see ten times as much as an
aide-de-camp as you would in your regiment, while during peacetime
there is no comparison at all between our lives as aides-de-camp
and that of regimental officers.

"I fancy you have rather a treasure in the man they have told off
to you. He was the colonel's servant at one time, but he got drunk
one day, and of course the colonel had to send him back to the
ranks. One of the officers told me about him when he came in, and
said that he was one of the best riders and swordsmen in the
regiment. The adjutant told me that he has specially chosen him for
you, because he had a particularly good mount, and that as your
orderly it would be of great importance that he should be able to
keep up with you. Of course, he got the horse when he was the
colonel's orderly; and though he was sent back to the ranks six
months ago, the colonel, who was really fond of the man, allowed
him to keep it."

"I thought it seemed an uncommonly good animal, when he led it into
the stable," Fergus said. "Plenty of bone, and splendid quarters. I
hope he was not unwilling to come to me. It is a great fall from
being a colonel's servant to become a cornet's."

"I don't suppose he will mind that; and at any rate, while he is
here the berth will be such an easy one that I have no doubt he
will be well content with it, and I daresay that he and Donald will
get on well together.

"Donald is a Cuirassier. After Keith appointed me as one of his
aides, he got me transferred to the Cuirassiers, who are stationed
at Potsdam. That was how I came to get hold of Donald as a
servant."

A few minutes after they had done dinner, there was a knock at the
door. The orderly entered and saluted.

"You will find my man in there," Lindsay said. "At present, Mr.
Drummond and I are living together. I daresay you and he will get
on very comfortably."

For the next fortnight, Fergus spent the whole day in barracks. He
was not put through the usual preliminary work, but the colonel,
understanding what would be most useful to him, had him instructed
in the words of command necessary for carrying out simple
movements, his place as cornet with a troop when in line or column;
and being quick, intelligent, and anxious to learn, Fergus soon
began to feel himself at home.



Chapter 3: The Outbreak Of War.


As Lindsay had predicted, the marshal had, on the evening of the
day Fergus joined his regiment, said to him:

"I generally have half an hour's fencing the first thing of a
morning, Fergus. It is good exercise, and keeps one's muscles
lissome. Come round to my room at six. I should like to see what
the instructors at home have done for you, and I may be able to put
you up to a few tricks of the sword that may be of use to you, if
you are ever called upon to break his majesty's edicts against
duelling."

Fergus, of course, kept the appointment.

"Very good. Very good, indeed," the marshal said, after the first
rally. "You have made the most of your opportunities. Your wrist is
strong and supple, your eye quick. You are a match, now, for most
men who have not worked hard in a school of arms. Like almost all
our countrymen, you lack precision. Now, let us try again."

For a few minutes Fergus exerted himself to the utmost, but failed
to get his point past the marshal's guard. He had never seen
fencing like this. Keith's point seemed to be ever threatening him.
The circles that were described were so small that the blade seemed
scarcely to move; and yet every thrust was put aside by a slight
movement of the wrist, and he felt that he was at his opponent's
mercy the whole time. Presently there was a slight jerk and, on the
instant, his weapon was twisted from his hand and sent flying
across the room.

Keith smiled at his look of bewilderment.

"You see, you have much to learn, Fergus."

"I have indeed, sir. I thought that I knew something about fencing,
but I see that I know nothing at all."

"That is going too far the other way, lad. You know, for example, a
vast deal more than Lindsay did when he came to me, six months ago.
I fancy you know more than he does now, or ever will know; for he
still pins his faith on the utility of a slashing blow, as if the
sabre had a chance against a rapier, in the hands of a skilful man.
However, I will give you a lesson every morning, and I should
advise you to go to Van Bruff every evening.

"I will give you a note to him. He is by far the best master we
have. Indeed, he is the best in Europe. I will tell him that the
time at your disposal is too short for you to attempt to become a
thorough swordsman; but that you wish to devote yourself to
learning a few thrusts and parries, such as will be useful in a
duel, thoroughly and perfectly. I myself will teach you that trick
I played on you just now, and two others like it; and I think it
possible that in a short time you will be able to hold your own,
even against men who may know a good deal more of the principles
and general practice of the art than yourself."

Armed with a note from the marshal, Fergus went the next day to the
famous professor. The latter read the letter through carefully, and
then said:

"I should be very glad to oblige the marshal, for whom I have the
highest respect, and whom I regard as the best swordsman in Europe.
I often practise with him, and always come away having learned
something. Moreover, the terms he offers, for me to give you an
hour and a half's instruction every evening, are more than liberal.
But every moment of my time in the evening is occupied, from five
to ten. Could you come at that hour?"

"Certainly I could, professor."

"Then so be it. Come at ten, punctually. My school is closed at
that hour, but you will find me ready for you."

Accordingly, during the next three weeks Fergus worked, from ten
till half-past eleven, with Herr Van Bruff; and from six till half
past with the marshal. His mountain training was useful indeed to
him now; for the day's work in the barrack was in itself hard and
fatiguing and, tough as his muscles were, his wrist at first ached
so at nights that he had to hold it, for some time, under a tap of
cold water to allay the pain. At the end of a week, however, it
hardened again; and he was sustained by the commendations of his
two teachers, and the satisfaction he felt in the skill he was
acquiring.

"Where is your new aide-de-camp, marshal?" the king asked, one
evening.

It was the close of one of his receptions.

"As a rule, these young fellows are fond of showing off in their
uniforms, at first."

"He is better employed, sire. He has the makings of a very fine
swordsman and, having some reputation myself that way, I should be
glad that my young cousin should be able to hold his own well, when
we get to blows with the enemy. So I and Van Bruff have taken him
in hand, and for the last three weeks he has made such progress
that this morning, when we had open play, it put me on my mettle to
hold my own. So, what with that and his regimental work, his hands
are more than full; and indeed, he could not get through it, had he
to attend here in the evening; and I know that as soon as he has
finished his supper he turns in for a sound sleep, till he is woke
in time to dress and get to the fencing school, at ten. Had there
been a longer time to spare, I would not have suffered him to work
so hard; but seeing that in a few days we may be on the march to
the frontier, we have to make the most of the time."

"He has done well, Keith, and his zeal shows that he will make a
good soldier. Yes, another three days, and our messenger should
return from Vienna; and the next morning, unless the reply is
satisfactory, the troops will be on the move. After that, who
knows?"

During the last few days, the vague rumours that had been
circulating had gained strength and consistency. Every day fresh
regiments arrived and encamped near the city; and there were
reports that a great concentration of troops was taking place, at
Halle, under the command of Prince Ferdinand of Brunswick; and
another, under the Duke of Bevern, at Frankfort-on-the-Oder.

Nevertheless, the public announcement that war was declared with
Austria, and that the army would march for the frontier, in three
days' time, came as a sudden shock. The proclamation stated that,
it having been discovered that Austria had entered into a secret
confederacy with other powers to attack Prussia; and the king
having, after long and fruitless negotiations, tried to obtain
satisfaction from that power; no resource remained but to declare
war, at once, before the confederates could combine their forces
for the destruction of the kingdom.

Something like dismay was, at first, excited by the proclamation. A
war with Austria was, in itself, a serious undertaking; but if the
latter had powerful allies, such as Russia, France, and Saxony--and
it was well known that all three looked with jealousy on the
growing power of the kingdom--the position seemed well-nigh
desperate.

Among the troops, however, the news was received with enthusiasm.
Confident in their strength and discipline, the question of the
odds that might be assembled against them in no way troubled them.
The conquest of Silesia had raised the prestige of the army, and
the troops felt proud that they should have the opportunity of
proving their valour in an even more serious struggle.

Never was there a more brilliant assembly than that at the palace,
the evening before the troops marched. All the general officers and
their staffs were assembled, together with the ladies of the court,
and those of the nobility and army. The king was in high good
humour, and moved about the rooms, chatting freely with all.

"So you have come to see us at last, young sir," he said to Fergus.
"I should scold you, but I hear that you have been utilizing your
time well.

"Remember that your sword is to be used against the enemies of the
country, only," and nodding, he walked on.

The Princess Amelia was the centre of a group of ladies. She was a
charming princess, but at times her face bore an expression of deep
melancholy; and all knew that she had never ceased to mourn the
fate of the man she would have chosen, Baron Trench, who had been
thrown into prison by her angry father, for his insolence in
aspiring to his daughter's hand.

"You must be glad that your hard work is over, Drummond," Lindsay
said, as they stood together watching the scene.

"I am glad that the drill is over," Fergus replied, "but I should
have liked my work with the professor to have gone on for another
six months."

"Ah, well! You will have opportunities to take it up again, when we
return, after thrashing the Austrians."

"How long will that be, Lindsay?"

The latter shrugged his shoulders.

"Six months or six years; who can tell?" he said. "If it be true
that Russia and France, to say nothing of Saxony, are with her, it
is more likely to be years than months, and we may both come out
colonels by the time it is over."

"That is, if we come out at all," Fergus said, with a smile at the
other's confidence.

"Oh! Of course, there is that contingency, but it is one never
worth reckoning with. At any rate, it is pretty certain that, if we
do fall, it will be with odds against us; but of course, as
aides-de-camp our chance is a good deal better than that of
regimental officers.

"At any rate, you have had good preparation for the campaign, for
your work will be child's play in comparison to what you have been
going through. How you stood it, I cannot make out. I worked pretty
hard when I first arrived; but the drill for the first six months
was tremendous, and I used to be glad to crawl into bed, as soon as
I had had my supper.

"Well, you have been a poor companion so far, Drummond."

"I am afraid I have been, but will try and make up for it, in the
future.

"I suppose there is no doubt that we shall march, in the first
place, on Dresden."

"I think that there is no doubt of that. There is no Saxon army to
speak of, certainly nothing that can offer any serious opposition.
From there there are three or four passes by which we could pour
into Bohemia. Saxony is a rich country, too, and will afford us a
fine base for supplies, as we move on. I suppose the Austrians will
collect an army to oppose us, in Bohemia. When we have thrashed
them, I expect we shall go on straight to Vienna."

Fergus laughed.

"It all sounds easy enough, Lindsay. I only hope that it will come
off just as you prophesy."

"That is one advantage of fighting in a foreign service, Fergus.
One fights just as stoutly for victory as if one were fighting for
home, but if one is beaten it does not affect one so much. It is
sad to see the country overrun, and pillaged; but the houses are
not the houses of our own people, the people massacred are not
one's own relations and friends. One's military vanity may be hurt
by defeat; otherwise, one can bear it philosophically."

"I never looked at it in that light before, Lindsay, but no doubt
there is a great deal in what you say. If my father had fallen on a
German battlefield, instead of at Culloden, our estates would not
have been confiscated, our glens harried, and our clansmen hunted
down and massacred. No, I see there is a great difference. I
suppose I should fight just as hard, against the Austrians, as I
should have done against the English at Culloden, had I been there;
but defeat would have none of the same consequences. No, putting it
as you do, I must own that there is a distinct advantage in foreign
service, that I never appreciated before.

"But I see people are leaving, and I am not sorry. As we are going
to be up before daybreak, the sooner one turns in the better."

Karl had received the order to call his master at three, to have
breakfast ready at half past, and the horses at the door at four,
with somewhat less than his usual stolidity.

"You will have harder work in the future, Karl," Fergus said.

"I shall be glad of it, sir. Never have I had such a lazy time as I
have had for the last month. The first three or four days were very
pleasant; then I began to think that I should like a little to do,
so as to remind me that there was such a thing as work. But the
last fortnight has been terrible. A man cannot sleep for
twenty-four hours, and if it had not been that Donald and I have
had an occasional quarrel, as to our respective regiments and over
the native land he is so fond of bragging about, I should have been
ready to hang myself.

"Ah, sir, how often have I to thank my stars that I did not take my
discharge!--which I could have asked for, as I have served my time.
I had thought of it, many times; and had said to myself how
delightful it would be to hear the morning call sound, at a
barracks near, and to turn over in my bed and go to sleep again; to
have no guard to keep, no sergeant to bully or provost guard to
arrest one, if one has taken a cup too much. This fortnight has
shown me the folly of such ideas. It has taught me when I am well
off, and what misery it is to be one's own master, and to be always
wondering how the day is to be got through."

"Well, you are not likely to have to complain that you have nothing
to do, for some time now, Karl."

"No, cornet. I have felt a new man, since I heard the great news.
There is always plenty to do, on a campaign. There are the horses
to be cleaned, food to be cooked, forage and rations to be fetched.
Then, too, on a campaign every one is merry and good tempered, and
one sings as one marches and sits round the campfire. One may be
cold and wet and hungry, but who cares? One swears at the moment,
but one laughs again, as soon as the sun shines."

"Well, Karl, you had best turn in at once, for at three o'clock we
shall want to be called."

"You can rely upon my waking, sir. Does my officer wish to take a
full-dress suit with him?"

"No; the order is that all are to start in marching order, and that
all baggage is to be cut down to the smallest proportions. No
officer is to take more than can be carried in his valises."

It was the first week in August when the three columns, each twenty
thousand strong, moved from their respective starting points.
Although the king was nominally in command of the central division,
Marshal Keith was the real commander. He rode with the king at the
head of the column, and his aides-de-camp, and those of Frederick,
were constantly on their way up and down the line, carrying orders
and bringing in reports as to the manner in which the regiments
maintained their respective positions, and especially how the
artillery and baggage train kept up.

There was no necessity, at present, for taking precautions. The
march would for some days lead through Prussia, and it was morally
certain that the Saxon army--which was small and scattered and,
even if united, would not equal the strength of one of the Prussian
armies--would not attempt any serious resistance; for the country
was flat, and there would be no defiles where a small force of men
could successfully oppose a larger one. Nevertheless, the daily
marches were long for the infantry and the baggage, but by no means
fatiguing for mounted men. The staff and aides-de-camp, with their
orderlies, rode behind the leaders. The troopers were sometimes
employed, instead of the officers, when a short written order had
to be sent back to the rear of the column.

The harvest having been gathered in, the cavalry rode across the
open country, thus reducing the length of the column. The day was
very hot, and the infantry opened their ranks, as much as possible,
to allow the passage of what little air was moving. At nine o'clock
the troops were halted. Each man had been served with a breakfast,
before starting; and the haversacks were now opened, and a meal
made of the bread they contained, washed down with an allowance of
rough wine, carried in each regimental waggon. Then the men sat
down, under the shade of greatcoats supported by ramrods and other
contrivances, and either slept or talked until half-past two; when
the bugle sounded. The greatcoats were rolled up and strapped on to
the knapsacks, then there was a vigorous use of the brush, to
remove the thick dust gathered on the march. At three the column
got into motion again, and halted for the night at half-past six;
when fires were lighted, coppers put on, and the main meal of the
day presently served.

The rations of the officers were the same as those of the men, but
the greater part of them supplemented the food by that carried in
their orderlies' saddlebags. Lindsay, Fergus, and the marshals
other two aides-de-camp had arranged that, when possible, they
should mess together; and their servants should prepare the meal by
turns, while those not so engaged looked after the horses, saw that
they were fed, watered, and groomed. The servants were all old
campaigners, and though neither Lindsay nor Fergus had thought of
giving them orders to that effect, both Donald and Karl had laid in
a stock of provisions.

Donald had cooked a pair of fowls on the previous evening. Karl had
bought a sucking pig. One of the German officer's servants had a
huge piece of salt beef, that had already been boiled, while the
other had a hare. It was agreed at once that the fowls should be
left for early breakfast; and the beef put aside for dinner, and
for supper, also, if nothing else could be obtained. Karl, as the
servant of the junior officer, was cook for the evening, and he
acquitted himself admirably.

Each officer carried in his saddlebag a tin plate, a drinking horn,
and a knife, fork, and spoon. There was no dish, but the spit was
handed round, and each cut off a portion. Soup made from the ration
of meat was first served, then the hare, and then the sucking pig,
while the four orderlies had an ample meal from the ration of meat.
A supply of spirits had been carried in the staff waggon. This they
took, plentifully watered, with the meal; with a stronger cup
afterwards.

The night was so fine that all agreed that it was not worthwhile to
erect the tent carried for them in the waggon. At eight o'clock the
order for the next day's march came out, and two of the king's
orderlies started on horseback with copies of it to the commanders
of brigades, who in their turn communicated to the colonels of
their respective regiments.

The next evening the force encamped round Torgau, a very strong
fortress, where a great store of provisions had been collected.
Ample quarters were assigned to the marshal and his staff in the
town. Here they halted for a day to allow the other armies, which
had both farther to march, to keep abreast of them on their
respective lines of route.

Then, following the Elbe, the army arrived after two marches in
front of Dresden. The court of Saxony had, for years, been wasting
the revenues of the country in extravagance and luxury; while
intriguing incessantly with Austria, and dreaming of obtaining an
increase of territory at the expense of Prussia. No effort had been
made to prepare to carry out the engagements entered into with
Austria; and the army, utterly neglected, numbered but some fifteen
thousand. These were scattered over the country, and but poorly
provided with artillery.

When, then, the news arrived that three Prussian armies had crossed
the frontier, there was no thought of resistance; but orders were
despatched for the whole force to concentrate at Pirna, a strongly
fortified camp among the defiles of the mountains separating Saxony
from Bohemia. The position was almost an impregnable one, and they
could receive reinforcements from Bohemia.

On the arrival of the Prussian army the king fled, and Dresden
threw open its gates. As Frederick hoped to detach Saxony from the
alliance against him, the greater portion of the army were encamped
outside the town; three or four regiments, only, marching in and
quartering themselves in the empty Saxon barracks. The aid Saxony
could render Frederick would be insignificant, but it was most
desirable for him that he should ensure its neutrality, in order to
secure his communications with Prussia when he marched forward into
Bohemia.

Finding the king had gone, his first step was to send a general
officer, with a party of soldiers, to seize the archives in the
palace. Among these was discovered the prize he most desired to
find; namely a signed copy of the secret treaty, between Austria,
Russia, France, and Saxony, for the invasion and partition of
Prussia. Copies of this document were instantly sent off to the
courts of Europe, thus affording an ample justification for what
would otherwise have appeared a wholly unprovoked attack by Prussia
upon her neighbours. Had it not been for the discovery of this
document, Frederick would probably have always remained under the
stigma of engaging in an unprovoked and ambitious war; for the
court of Austria had hitherto, positively and categorically,
declared to Frederick's ambassador and envoys the non-existence of
any such treaty or agreement between the powers.

As the queen had remained in the palace, Frederick took up his
abode in another royal building, Marshal Keith and a large number
of officers being also quartered there. In order to prevent any
broils with the citizens, orders were issued that certain places of
refreshment were to be used only by officers, while the soldiers
were only to frequent wine and beer shops selected in the
neighbourhood of the barracks, and were strictly forbidden to enter
any others. Any soldier caught in an act of theft or pillage was to
be hung, forthwith, and all were enjoined to observe a friendly
demeanour to the people.

One evening, Fergus had been sent with a message to the camp, two
miles from the town. It was nearly ten o'clock when he started to
ride back. When within half a mile of the town he heard a pistol
shot, in the direction of a large house, a quarter of a mile from
the road.

Without hesitation he turned his horse's head in that direction. In
a couple of minutes he arrived at a pair of large gates. They were
closed, but he dismounted, fastened the bridle chain to them and,
snatching the pistols from his holsters, ran along by the side of a
high wall, until he came to a tree growing close to it.

With some difficulty, for his high boots were ill adapted to such
work, he climbed the tree, got on to the wall, and dropped down. He
was in large park-like grounds. Guided by a light in a window, he
ran to the house. The door was closed. After hesitating for a
moment he ran along and, soon coming, as he expected, to an open
window, he at once climbed through it. A door was open and, passing
on, he entered a large hall in which a light was burning.

Pausing to listen now, he heard voices upstairs and, holding a
pistol in each hand and his drawn sword in his teeth, he lightly
ascended the stairs. On the landing two men lay dead. Light was
issuing from a half-closed door and, noiselessly approaching it, he
looked in.

It was a small room. At the end stood eight or ten scared women,
huddled together; while a soldier, with a pistol in one hand and a
sword in the other, stood sentry over them. These were evidently
the servants of the chateau, who had been unceremoniously hauled
from their beds and gathered there, under a guard, to prevent them
from screaming or giving any alarm. As Fergus was equally anxious
that no alarm should be given, at present, he retired quietly.

A pair of double doors faced the top of the staircase. This was
evidently the grand reception room and, listening intently, he
could hear a murmur of voices inside. Turning the handle and
throwing them suddenly open, he entered.

Upon the floor lay the body of a gentleman. A lady, pale as death
and in a half-fainting condition, leant back in a settee; while a
girl of thirteen or fourteen lay on a couch, with bound hands and a
handkerchief fastened across her mouth.

Three soldiers were engaged in examining the contents of a large
coffer of jewels. As the door opened they turned round and, on
seeing a solitary officer, sprang forward with terrible oaths.
Fergus shot one of them as they did so, dropped the pistol, and
seized his sword. Both men fired. Fergus felt a stinging sensation
in his left arm, and the pistol held in that hand dropped to the
ground.

Confident in his swordsmanship, he awaited the onslaught of the two
marauders. The swords clashed, and at the second pass one of them
fell back, run through the body. The other, shouting for aid, stood
on the defensive. Fergus heard the rush of heavy steps coming down
the staircase and, just as three other men rushed into the room, he
almost clove his opponent's head in two, with a tremendous blow
from his claymore.


[Illustration: Two of the newcomers fired hastily--and both missed]


Two of the newcomers fired their pistols hastily--both missed--then
rushed at him with their swords; and as he was hotly engaged with
them the third, who was the sentry who had been placed over the
women, advanced slowly, with his pistol pointed, with the intention
of making sure of his aim. He paused close to the combatants,
waiting for an opportunity to fire between the shifting figures of
his comrades; when a white figure, after peering in at the door,
ran swiftly forward and threw herself on his back, hurling him
forward to the ground, his pistol exploding as he fell.

One of the others started back at the sound, and as he did so
Fergus ran him through the body. He then attacked his remaining
opponent, and after a few passes laid him dead beside his comrade.
Picking up his own fallen pistol, Fergus blew out the brains of the
soldier, who was struggling to free himself from the girl's weight,
and then helped her to her feet.

"Well done, my brave girl!" he said. "You have saved my life. Now
run and tell those wenches to stop screaming, and to come and help
their mistress. These scoundrels are all killed, and there is
nothing more for them to be alarmed at."

Then he ran to the girl on the sofa, cut her cords with a dagger,
and freed her from the gag. As he did so, she leapt up and ran to
her mother's side; while Fergus, kneeling by the gentleman who had
fallen before he had entered, turned him over and, laying his ear
over his heart, listened intently.

"He is alive," he said. "His heart beats, but faintly. Tell the
maids to fetch some cordial."

The women were coming in now, some crying hysterically, some
shrieking afresh at the sight of the bodies that were strewn about
the room.

"Silence!" Fergus shouted sternly. "Now, while one runs to fetch
some cordial, do three others come here, and aid me to lift your
master gently on to this couch."

The maid who had overthrown the soldier at once came forward to his
assistance.

"Now, Truchen and Lisa," the young girl said, stamping her foot,
"come at once.

"Do you, Caroline, run and fetch the stand of cordials from the
dining room."

The two women approached timidly.

"Now," Fergus said, "get your arm under his shoulders, on your
side, and I will do the same. One of you others support his head
when we lift, the other take his feet."

So, gently he was raised and laid on the couch. By the time this
was done, the woman returned with a bottle of spirits.

"Now," he said, "water and a glass."

The young girl ran and fetched a carafe of water and a tumbler,
standing on a table by the wall. Her hands shook as she handed it
to Fergus.

"Are you sure that he is not dead, sir?" she asked, in a hushed
voice.

"Quite sure. I fear that he is grievously wounded, but he certainly
lives. Now, get another glass and put some spirits in and fill it
up with water, and make your mother drink it, as soon as you have
roused her from her faint."

Fergus now gave all his attention to the wounded man, poured two or
three spoonfuls of strong spirits and water between his lips, and
then proceeded to examine his wounds. He had three. One was a very
severe cut upon the shoulder. His left arm had been broken by a
pistol bullet, and he had a dangerous sword thrust in the body.

Under Fergus' direction the servant had cut off the doublet and,
after pouring some more spirits down the wounded man's throat, he
bade one of the other women fetch him some soft linen, and a sheet.
When these arrived he made a pad of the linen, and bound it over
the wounded man's shoulder with some strips torn from the sheet.
Then he sent for some straight strips of wood, cut them to the
right length, wrapped some linen round them and, straightening the
arm, applied them to it and, with the assistance of the girl,
bandaged it firmly. Then he placed a pad of linen over the wound in
the body, and passed bandages round and round.

"Well done!" he said to his assistant. "You are a stout girl, and a
brave one."

Then he turned to the others, who were crowded round their
mistress.

"Stand back," he said, "and throw open the window and let the air
come to her. That will do.

"The young lady and this girl will be enough, now. Do the rest of
you run off and get some clothes on."

"She has opened her eyes once, sir."

"She will come round directly, young lady. Pour a spoonful or two
from this glass between her lips. It is stronger than that you have
in your hand. She has had a terrible shock, but as soon as she
hears that your father is alive, it will do more for her than all
our services."

"Will he live, sir?"

"That I cannot say for certain, but I have great hopes that he will
do so. However, I will send a surgeon out, as soon as I get to the
city."

The lady was longer in her swoon than Fergus had expected, and the
servants had returned before she opened her eyes.

"Now," he said, "do four of you lend me your assistance. It would
be well to carry this sofa with your master into the next room; and
then we will take your mistress in there, too, so that she will be
spared seeing these ruffians scattered about, when she comes to
herself."

The doors leading to the adjoining apartment were opened, candles
lighted there, and the wounded man carried in on his sofa.

"And now for your mistress. It will be easier to lift her out of
the chair, and carry her in bodily."

This he did, with the assistance of two of the servants.

"Now," he said to the young girl, "do you stay by her, my brave
maid. I think she will recover in a minute or two. Her eyelids
moved as I brought her in. I will look round and see about things.

"Were these the only two men in the house?" he asked the other
women, as he joined them on the landing.

"No, sir. There were six men. The other four have gone to bed, but
the two outside always waited up till the count and countess
retired."

"Where are their rooms?" he asked, taking a candle.

One of the women led him upstairs. As he expected, he found the
four men lying dead. One had apparently leapt up as the door was
opened, and the other three had been killed in their beds.

"Where can I get help from?"

"There are the men at the stables. It is at the back of the house,
three or four hundred yards away."

"Well, take one of the other women with you, and go and rouse them.
Tell them to dress and come here, at once."

He now went down to the gate, undid the fastening, and then led his
horse up to the house. In a few minutes the stablemen arrived. He
ordered them to carry the bodies of the six marauders out, and lay
them in front of the house. When they had done so, they were to
take those of the servants and place them in an outhouse. Then he
went upstairs again.

"The countess has recovered, sir," one of the women said.

"Tell her that I will send one of the army surgeons down, at once.
But first, bandage my arm. It is but a flesh wound, I know; but I
am feeling faint, and am sure that it is keeping on bleeding.

"Here, my girl," he said to the one who had before assisted, "I can
trust to you not to faint."

With her assistance he took off his coat, the arm of which was
saturated with blood.

"You had better cut off the sleeve of the shirt," he said.

This was done, and the nature of the wound was seen. A ball had
ploughed through the flesh three inches below the shoulder,
inflicting a gaping but not serious wound.

"It is lucky that it was not the inside of the arm," he said to the
girl, as she bandaged it up; "for had it been, I should have bled
to death in a very few minutes.

"Has the count opened his eyes yet?"

"No, sir. He is lying just as he was."

"What is the gentleman's name?"

"Count Eulenfurst."

"You had better give me a draught of wine, before I start. I feel
shaken, and it is possible that riding may set my wound bleeding
again."

Having drunk a goblet of wine, Fergus went down and mounted his
horse. As he did so, he said to one of the men:

"Take a lantern, and go down to the spot where the road hither
turns off from the main road. A surgeon will be here in half an
hour, or perhaps in twenty minutes. He will be on the lookout for
you and your lantern."

Events had passed quickly, and the church bell chimed a quarter to
eleven as he rode through the streets of Dresden. In three minutes
he drew up at the entrance to the royal quarters. As he dismounted,
Karl came out.

"Keep the horse here, Karl," he said. "It may be wanted in a minute
or two again."

"Are you hurt, sir?" the man asked as he dismounted, for he saw his
face by the light of the torches on each side of the gateway.

"It is only a flesh wound, and of no consequence; but I have lost a
good deal of blood."

He made his way up the staircase to the marshal's quarters. He was
feeling dizzy and faint, now.

"Is the marshal in his room?" he asked.

"He is in, sir, but--"

"I would speak to him immediately. 'Tis a most urgent matter."

The servant went in, a moment later held the door open, and said:

"Will you enter, sir?"

Fergus entered, and made the usual formal salute to the marshal.
Two or three other officers were in the room, but he did not heed
who they were, nor hear the exclamations of surprise that broke out
at his appearance.

"I beg to report, sir, that the house of the Count Eulenfurst has
been attacked by marauders, belonging to one of the Pomeranian
regiments. The count is desperately wounded, and I pray that a
surgeon may be sent instantly to his aid. The house stands back
from the road, about half a mile from the north gate. A man with a
lantern will be standing in the road to guide him to it. My horse
is at the door below, in readiness to take him. I pray you to allow
me to retire."

He swayed and would have fallen, had not the marshal and one of the
others present caught him, and laid him down on a couch.

"He is wounded, marshal," the other officer said. "This sleeve is
saturated with blood."

The marshal raised his voice, and called an attendant:

"Run to the quarters of staff surgeon Schmidt, and ask him to come
here immediately, and to bring another of his staff with him, if
there is one in."

In two minutes the king's chief surgeon entered, followed by
another of his staff.

"First look to the wound of Cornet Drummond," the marshal said. "It
is in the arm, and I trust that he has only fainted from loss of
blood."

The surgeons examined the wound.

"It is in no way serious, marshal. As you say, he has fainted from
loss of blood. He must have neglected it for some time. Had it been
bandaged at once, it would only have had the consequence of
disabling his arm for a fortnight or so."

The assistant had already hurried away to get lint and bandages.
Another voice now spoke.

"Surgeon Schmidt, you will please at once mount Mr. Drummond's
horse, which is standing at the door. Ride out through the north
gate. When you have gone about half a mile you will see a man with
a lantern. He will lead you to the house of Count Eulenfurst, who
has been grievously wounded by some marauders. Surgeon Morfen will
follow you, as soon as he has bandaged Mr. Drummond's wounds. There
may be more wounded there who may need your care.

"Major Armfeldt, will you order a horse to be brought round at once
for the surgeon, then hurry to the barracks. Order the colonel to
turn out a troop of horse instantly, and let him scour the country
between the north gate and the camp, and arrest every straggler he
comes across."



Chapter 4: Promotion.


As soon as the bandage was applied and the flow of blood ceased, a
few spoonfuls of wine were poured down the patient's throat. It was
not long before he opened his eyes and struggled into a sitting
position.

"I beg pardon, sir," he said faintly, as his eyes fell on the
marshal, who was standing just in front of him. "I am sorry that I
came into your apartments in this state, but it seemed to me--"

"You did quite right, sir," said a sharp voice that he at once
recognized, while the speaker put his hand upon his shoulder, to
prevent him from trying to rise. "You were quite right to bring the
news here at once of this outrage; which, by heavens, shall be
punished as it deserves. Now drink a cup of wine, and then perhaps
you will be able to tell us a little more about it. Now don't be in
a hurry, but obey my orders."

Fergus drank off the wine; then, after waiting a minute or two,
said:

"Count Eulenfurst is sorely wounded, sire, but I cannot say whether
mortally or not. When I came away, he was still lying insensible.
His wife and daughter are, happily, uninjured."

"Was anyone else hurt?"

"Yes, sire, the six menservants who were sleeping in the house were
all killed--four in their beds, two while hastening from below to
assist their master."

The king gave an exclamation of fury.

"You said these men belonged to a Pomeranian regiment. Had they
left before you got there? But I suppose not, or else you would not
have been wounded. How was it that you heard of the attack?"

"I had carried a despatch from the marshal to the camp, sire, and
was on my way back when I heard a pistol shot. The sound was faint,
for it came from a house a quarter of a mile away, and was fired
indoors; but the night was still, and fortunately some of the
windows were open. Thinking that some evil work was being done, I
rode straight for it, climbed the wall and, making my way on foot
to the house, happily arrived in time."

"You saw the fellows, then? How was it that they suffered you to
escape with your life? They must have known that your evidence
would hang them all."

"There were but six of them, sire; and they will need no hanging,
for they are all disposed of. Though had it not been for the
assistance of a brave servant maid, who threw herself upon the back
of one of them, my career would certainly have been terminated."

"But who had you with you to help you?" the king asked.

"I had no one but the maid, sire."

"Do you mean to say, Mr. Drummond, that with your own hand you slew
the whole of the six villains?"

"That was so, sire; but in respect to the one thrown down by the
girl, I had but to blow out his brains before he could gain his
feet."

"Can you give us the particulars?" the king asked quietly. "If you
do not feel equal to it, we will wait till morning."

"I can tell you now, sire. I am feeling better and stronger."

And he related the incidents of the fight.

"One with his pistol, Keith," the king said. "Four with his sword,
after his left hand was disabled, to say nothing of the sixth.

"That is not a bad beginning for this aide-de-camp, gentlemen."

"No, indeed, sire. It is a most gallant deed, though it was well
for him that he was able to dispose of the first three before the
others appeared on the scene."

"It was a most gallant action, indeed," the king repeated; and a
hearty assent was given by the general officers standing round.

"I congratulate you on your aide-de-camp, Keith," he went on. "A
man capable of killing, single handed, six of my Pomeranians is a
treasure. Do you see that his commission as lieutenant is given me
tomorrow to sign.

"No, sit still, young sir. It is I who have to thank you, for so
promptly punishing these marauders, who would have brought disgrace
upon my army; and not you who have to thank me. Now, be off to your
bed."

Two of the attendants were called in, and these assisted Fergus,
who was almost too weak to stand, to the apartment that he shared
with Lindsay. Keith himself accompanied them. Lindsay leapt out of
bed as they entered.

"Don't ask any questions, Lindsay," the marshal said. "Drummond has
performed a very gallant action, and has been wounded and, as you
see, can scarce stand from loss of blood. He will be asleep as soon
as he lies down. You will hear all about it, in the morning."

The marshal then returned to his apartment. The king was on the
point of leaving.

"I have left orders," he said, "that as soon as either of the
surgeons returns, I am to be wakened and informed of the state of
Count Eulenfurst. He is a nobleman of distinction and character;
though, I believe, in no great favour at the court here since he
resigned his seat on the council, because he disapproved of the
resources of the state being wasted in extravagance, instead of
being spent in maintaining the army in proper condition. Should he
die, it will cause an extremely bad impression throughout Saxony."

At daybreak the next morning, finding that the surgeons had not
returned, Keith despatched an officer to request them to furnish
him, at once, with a written report of the state of the count. He
returned in three-quarters of an hour, saying that the count had
just recovered consciousness; that two of his wounds were serious,
and the other very grave; but that having probed it, they were of
opinion that it might not prove fatal. The countess was completely
prostrated, and had gone from one fainting fit into another, and
required more attention than her husband. The rest of the household
were uninjured.

Lindsay got up quietly and dressed without awaking Fergus. He was
disappointed at a despatch being at once handed to him to carry to
the Prince of Brunswick's army, which was ten miles away; and was
therefore obliged to mount and ride off, without obtaining any news
whatever as to the nature of Drummond's adventure. As he passed
through the camp of the Pomeranians, he saw the bodies of six
soldiers swinging from the bough of a tree, close to the camp. He
rode a little out of his way to discover the cause of this strange
spectacle. In front of them was erected a large placard of canvas,
with the words painted upon it:

"Marauders killed in the commission of crime, and their bodies hung
by order of the king, as a lesson to anyone who ventures to break
the law against plundering."

Then he rode on his way, and did not return until one o'clock. The
marshal was occupied. He therefore simply handed in the reply to
the despatch that he had carried, and immediately retired.

"Is Mr. Drummond up?" he asked one of the attendants.

"He is still in his room, sir. His servant is with him, and he is
taking food."

He went straight to the room. Fergus was sitting up in a chair,
eating a basin of strong chicken broth.

"This is a nice hour to be breakfasting, Lindsay," he said with a
smile. "I feel quite ashamed of myself, I can tell you; but I am
under orders. The doctor came here half an hour ago. I had just
woke and got out of bed, and was going to dress, when he told me
that I was not to do so. I might sit up to take breakfast, but was
to keep perfectly quiet for the rest of the day. He said I only
needed feeding up, that he would send me some strong broth, and
three hours later I was to have some soup and a pint of Burgundy;
and that if I obeyed his instructions, and ate and drank well, I
should be able to leave my room tomorrow; though of course, I
should not be fit for active service till my arm began to heal."

"But what is it all about, Drummond? I was sent off to Brunswick's
camp, as soon as I got up, and have heard nothing about it; and the
marshal forbade me to speak to you, when you were brought in last
night. He merely said that you had done a very gallant action."

"There was nothing very gallant in it, Lindsay; but it turned out
very fortunate."

Then he gave a very brief account of the previous evening's events.

"Well I should call that a gallant action, Drummond, if you don't.
It is no joke for one man to tackle six, and those not ordinary
marauders but Pomeranian soldiers. Of course, it was somewhat lucky
that you had rid yourself of three of them, before the other three
entered the room; and had it not been, as you say, for that girl,
things might have turned out differently. Still, that does not
affect the matter. It was a gallant business.

"What happened when you came in?"

"I don't know much about what happened. At first I made some sort
of report to the marshal, and then I believe I fainted. When I came
to, I found that they had bandaged up my shoulder, and poured some
wine down my throat. I felt very shaky at first, but I know that I
drank some wine, and was then able to give some sort of account of
what had happened. The king was there, then, and asked me
questions; but whether or not he was there, at first, I cannot say.
I have a vague idea that he told the marshal, too, that he promoted
me; but I am not quite sure about that, nor do I know how I got
here."

"Well, if you are not mistaken about your step, I congratulate you
most heartily. It is seldom, indeed, that anyone gains one in six
weeks after his first appointment. I thought myself lucky, indeed,
in getting it after serving only two years and a half; but I got it
simply on nomination as one of the marshal's aides-de-camp. It is
customary to get promotion, on such appointment, if there has been
two or three years' previous service.

"Well, you have drawn the first blood in this campaign, Drummond;
and have not been long in giving very striking proof that your
month's hard work in the fencing school has not been thrown away."

The conversation was broken off by the entry of the marshal,
himself.

"Pooh, pooh, Fergus!" he said, as the latter rose, "there is no
occasion for saluting in a bedroom. I am glad to see you looking so
much better. You could not have looked more ghastly, when you came
in yesterday evening, if you had been your own wraith.

"There, lad," he said, handing him a parchment. "It is not usual to
have a new commission on promotion, but the king told me that he
had had it done, in the present case, in order that you might have
a record of the exploit for which you have been promoted. You will
see it is set down inside that, although but six weeks in service,
you were promoted to the rank of lieutenant for a deed of
extraordinary gallantry. You had attacked and killed, with your own
hand, six marauding soldiers; who had entered the chateau of Count
Eulenfurst, well-nigh murdered the count, killed six of his
servants, and were occupied in plundering the house. In token of
his thankfulness, that the life of so distinguished and enlightened
a nobleman had been saved by you; as well as of approbation for the
gallantry of your conduct, his majesty promoted you to the rank of
lieutenant.

"You should keep that paper, Fergus, and pass it down to your
descendants, as an heirloom. I congratulate you, my boy, with all
my heart; and feel some satisfaction on my own account, for such an
action as this shows those who are inclined to grumble, at what
they may consider the favour shown to Scotchmen, that at any rate
the favour is not misplaced. A general order to the army has been
issued this morning saying that, some scoundrels, having disgraced
their uniform and brought discredit upon the army, by a murderous
and wicked attack upon the house of Count Eulenfurst, the king
reiterates and confirms his previous order that any man caught when
engaged in pillaging, or upon whose person any stolen goods are
found, will be summarily hung by the provost marshal, or by any
general officer before whom he may be brought.

"The king himself has ridden to the count's chateau, this morning,
to make personal inquiries into his state, and to express his deep
regret at the outrage that has taken place. It is a politic action,
as well as a kind one. Of course, the event has occasioned great
excitement in the city."

"And may I ask how the count is going on, sir?"

"The last report of the surgeons is a favourable one. He has partly
recovered consciousness, and at any rate recognizes his daughter,
who has divided her time between his bedside and her mother's. The
latter has fallen into a deep sleep of exhaustion; but will, I
doubt not, recover. The girl came down into the hall when the king
called. She bore herself well, they tell me, and would have
retained her composure, had it not been for the king himself. She
came down the grand staircase, with four of her maids behind
her--for a notice had been sent, half an hour before of his
coming--prepared, no doubt, to meet a stiff and haughty king; but
though Frederick can be every inch a king, when he chooses, there
is, as you know, no kinder-hearted man alive.

"He went forward bare-headed to meet her and, as she stopped and
curtsied low, he took her two hands and said:

"'My poor child, I am sorry, more sorry than I can tell you, for
what has happened; and hope with all my heart that your father,
whom all respect and honour, will not be taken from you. No doubt
you look upon me as an enemy; but although compelled to come here,
because your king is leagued with those who intend to destroy me
and my country, I bear no ill will to the people; and have given
the strictest orders that my soldiers shall, in all respects, treat
them as firm friends. But unfortunately, there are scoundrels
everywhere. These men have been punished as they deserved, and the
whole army will join with me in deep regret at what has happened,
and in the fervent hope that your father's life will be spared. I
grieve, too, to hear that the countess, your mother, has suffered
so greatly from the shock; and hope soon to be able to express to
her, in person, the regret I feel for what has taken place.'

"The kindness of his tone, in saying all this, broke her down more
than the words of the king. He saw that she was unable to speak.

"'There, there, child,' he said. 'I know what you are feeling, and
that you are longing to go upstairs again, so I will say goodbye.
Keep up a brave heart. The surgeons have every hope that your
father will recover. And believe that you will always have a friend
in Frederick of Prussia.'

"He kissed her on the cheek, and then turned and left the hall,
followed by his staff."

Three days later the doctors were able to say confidently that,
unless some change occurred for the worse, they believed the count
would recover. On the fourth day, Fergus was sufficiently well to
mount his horse. The countess and her daughter had repeatedly asked
after him, and expressed their desire that he would come over, as
soon as he was well enough to do so.

One of the aides-de-camp had gone over, twice a day, to inquire as
to the progress the count was making. A guard had been placed at
the gate, and an officer stationed there to receive the names of
the stream of visitors from the city, and to inform them that the
count was making satisfactory progress. By the doctor's orders,
even the count's most intimate friends were refused admission, as
absolute quiet was needed.

Fergus dismounted at the gate, and walked up to the house. The maid
who opened the door recognized him at once.

"Will you come in, sir?" she said, with a beaming face. "I will
tell the young countess you are here; and she will, I am sure, see
you."

A minute later, the girl ran down the stairs. As she came forward
she stopped, with sudden shyness. Absorbed in her anxiety for her
father and mother, she had taken but little heed of the appearance
of the officer who had saved them. That he was kind as well as
brave she was sure for, although he had scarce spoken to her, the
gentleness with which he had moved her father and her mother from
the bloodstained room, and the promptness and decision with which
he had given his orders, had inspired her with absolute confidence
in him. She had a vague idea that he was young, but his face,
flecked here and there with blood, had left but a faint impression
upon her memory; and when she saw the young officer, in his
spotless and imposing uniform, she almost felt that there must be
some mistake.

"Are you Lieutenant Drummond, sir?" she asked timidly.

"I am, countess."

"Was it really you who saved us, the other night?"

"I had that good fortune," he said with a smile.

She took the hand he held out, wonderingly, and then suddenly burst
into tears.

"Oh, sir," she said, "is it possible that you, who look so young,
can be the one who came to our assistance, and killed those six
evil men? It seems impossible.

"I have been so unhappy, since. I did not know that you were
wounded until the maids told me, afterwards. I had never even
asked. I let you go, without one word of thanks for all that you
have done for us. What must you have thought of me?"

"I thought that you were a very courageous girl," Fergus said
earnestly; "and that, after what you had gone through, the sight of
your father as you believed dying, and your mother in such a state,
you were wonderfully calm and composed. It would have been strange,
indeed, had you thought of anything else at such a time."

"You are very good to say so, sir; but when I heard, from the
surgeons you sent, that you had fainted from loss of blood after
delivering your message, I felt that I should never forgive myself.
You had thought so much of us, and not of yourself. You had gone
about seeing to our comfort, and giving orders and arranging
everything, and all the time you yourself needed aid."

"The wound was a mere trifle," he said, "and I scarce gave it a
thought, myself, until I began to feel faint from loss of blood. I
can assure you that the thought that you were ungrateful has never
once entered my head."

"And now, will you please come up to see my mother, sir. She will
be most anxiously expecting you."

They went upstairs together and, turning to the right on the top of
the stairs, entered a pretty apartment that was evidently the
countess's boudoir.

"This is our preserver, mother," the girl said, as she entered.

The countess, who was advancing towards the door, stopped in
surprise. She had been able, from her daughter, to gain no idea of
the age of their rescuer; but the maids had all asserted that he
was quite young. As he was, for so the surgeons had told her, one
of Marshal Keith's aides-de-camp, she had pictured to herself a
fierce soldier; and the sight of this youth, with his smooth
pleasant face, surprised her, indeed.

"Yes, mother, it is himself," the girl said. "I was as surprised as
you are."

"I have no words to thank you, sir, for the most inestimable
service which you have rendered us," the countess said warmly, as
she held out her hand. "Assuredly my husband would have died, had
aid been delayed but a few minutes. As to my daughter and myself,
they would probably have killed us, to prevent our ever recognizing
or giving evidence against them. They only spared our lives, for a
time, in order to learn where our jewels were kept. This was but a
comparative trifle, though the jewels are precious, and there are
none more valuable in Saxony. I have no doubt that after stripping
the house of its valuables they would have buried them, intending
some day to recover them; and would then have fired the house, in
order to conceal all evidence of the crime that had been committed.
It seemed to me wonderful, before, that one man should, single
handed, have attacked and slain them; but now that I see you, it
seems almost a miracle that you performed in our favour."

"It was no great feat, madam. I have the good fortune to be a fair
swordsman; and soldiers, although they may know their military
drill, have little chance with one who can use his weapon well.
Then, too, I had fortunately but three to deal with at a time; and
even then, I should not have come off victorious had it not been
for the courage of the maid, who ran boldly in, sprang on the back
of one, and threw him to the ground, while he was waiting to get a
steady aim at me with his pistol. I assuredly owe my life to her."

"The King of Prussia left twenty gold crowns for her, when he was
here, saying that it was payment for saving the life of one of his
officers; and you may be sure that we shall not be ungrateful to
her. Your death would have involved that of my husband, and us. The
king also ordered that inquiry should be made as to whether our men
who were killed had families dependent upon them; and that if so,
pensions were to be given to these, as their loss had been
occasioned by the evil deeds of some of his soldiers. It was very
thoughtful and kind, and my daughter seems quite to have fallen in
love with him.

"I hope that in a few days my husband will be able to see you. He
does not know that you are here. If he did, I am sure that he would
wish to see you now; but the surgeons have insisted so strongly on
absolute quiet, that I dare not let him hear of your coming."

"I am delighted to learn that he is going on so well, madame. I
sincerely trust that he will not long remain an invalid."

"I suppose you would not have recognized me?" the countess asked.

"I should not, indeed. Of course, I could do nothing to aid you,
and was chiefly occupied by the count. But indeed, you were then so
pale that I might well be excused for not knowing you again."

The countess was a very handsome woman, of some seven or eight and
thirty, with a noble figure and a gracious air; and bore no
resemblance to the almost distraught woman, with her hair falling
over her face, whom he had seen before.

"I am not a coward, Mr. Drummond," she said, "and when those
villains first ran in and attacked my husband, I struggled
desperately with the two who seized me; until I saw him drop, as I
believed, dead. Then my strength suddenly left me, and I should
have fallen to the ground, had the men not thrown me back into the
chair. I have a vague recollection of seeing Thirza, who had
retired for the night but a minute or two previously, carried in
bound and gagged. They asked me several questions, but I could not
reply; and I think they learned from the frightened servants where
the family jewels were kept. The clashing of swords and the firing
of pistols roused me a little, and after it was all over, and I
heard you say that my husband was still living, my heart gave one
bound, and I knew nothing more of what happened until next day."

After chatting for a short time longer Fergus took his leave, well
pleased to have got through a visit he had somewhat dreaded.

The king remained for nearly a month at Dresden, engaged in
carrying on negotiations with the Elector. By this delay he lost
most of the advantages that his sudden movement had given him; but
he was most anxious to detach Saxony and Poland from the
confederacy against him, as he would then be able to turn his
attention wholly to Austria, aided by the Saxons, while the Poles
would aid his army in the east to keep the Russians in check. The
Elector of Saxony--who was also King of Poland--however, was only
negotiating in order to give time for Austria to gather an army in
Bohemia; and so to relieve the Saxons, who were watched by the
eastern column, which had crossed the defiles into Bohemia and
taken post near Koeniggraetz; while that of Prince Maurice of
Brunswick pushed forward farther, to threaten their line of retreat
from the west.

The king at last became convinced that the King of Poland was but
trifling with him, and in the last week of September started to
take the command of the centre, which was facing the entrance to
the defile, at Pirna. Marshal Keith had been sent, a week after
Fergus was wounded, to assume the command of the western column,
hitherto commanded by Prince Ferdinand of Brunswick.

Fergus remained behind for ten days, at the end of which time he
felt perfectly fit for service again. He still carried his arm in a
sling, but a generous diet and good wine had filled his veins
again, and upon the day the king left he rode with Karl to rejoin
the marshal.

He had been several times over to the chateau, and had on the last
occasion seen the count; who, although still terribly weak, was now
out of danger, and able to sit on a couch, propped up by pillows.
His thanks were as earnest as those of the countess had been and,
having heard that Fergus was to start on the following morning to
join the army on the frontier, he said to him:

"There is no saying how far your king may carry his arms, nor where
you may find yourself. The countess will, therefore, write letters
addressed to intimate friends at various large towns; telling them
that you have placed us under a vast obligation, and praying them
to do, for our sake, all in their power for you, under whatever
circumstances you may arrive there. She will write them on small
pieces of paper, each with its name and address on the back, so
that they will make a small and compact packet, not much bigger
than an ordinary letter.

"I trust that when you return to Dresden, lieutenant, I shall be
able, myself, to do my best to prove my gratitude for your
services."

After taking leave of the count, his wife, and daughter, Fergus
rode back to the royal quarters. As Karl took his horse, he said:

"Herr lieutenant, I know not how we are going to manage."

"In what way, Karl?"

"Two magnificent horses, complete with saddlery, holsters, and
pistols, arrived here half an hour since. The man who brought them
said they were from Count Eulenfurst, and handed me this note:

"'Pray accept the horses we send you, as a feeble token of our
gratitude. May they, by their speed and staunchness, carry you
unharmed through dangers well nigh as great as those you faced for
us.'"

Fergus walked by the side of the soldier as he led the horse round
to the stable.

"There, sir," Karl said, pointing to a pair of splendid animals;
"they are fit for a king."

"'Tis a noble gift, and indeed, I doubt whether the king himself
has such horses in his stables. The question is, what is to be done
with them? My present charger is an excellent one and, as a gift of
the marshal, I could not part with it. As to the others, it is out
of the question that I can take both. It would be altogether
contrary to rules. I am entitled to forage for two horses--that is,
when forage is to be had.

"Ah! I see what had best be done. Come to my room with me. I will
give you a letter to the count."

He wrote as follows:

"Dear Count Eulenfurst,

"I cannot refuse the noble gift that you have made me, and thank
you and the countess for it, with all my heart. At present,
however, it places me in a difficulty. Aides-de-camp are allowed to
take only two horses; indeed, my orderly could not take with him
more than one led horse. The animal I have was the gift of Marshal
Keith. That being so, you will see that I could not part with it.
The only solution, therefore, that occurs to me is to beg you to
add to your kindness, by taking care of the one that I send back to
you by the bearer, until I return to Dresden; or find means to send
for it, in the event of one of the others being killed.

"The only fault with your gifts is that they ought to be kept for
state reviews, or grand occasions; for it seems wrong to take such
noble creatures into the midst of a heavy fire. I am sure that I
shall feel more nervous, lest a ball should injure my horse, than I
shall do for my own safety."

When he had folded and sealed this, he handed it to Karl, who had
followed shortly after him.

"I am sending back one of the horses, Karl, and asking the count to
take care of it for me, until I return or send for it. Do you see
any difference between them?"

"It would be hard to pick the best, lieutenant. They both struck me
as being perfect in all points--both are four years old."

"Well then, you must take one at random, Karl. Had one been better
than the other, I should have left it behind. As it is, take
whichever you choose."

"The man who brought them told me, sir, that both were bred on the
count's estates; and that he prided himself on having some of the
best blood in Europe, both for beauty and stamina. He thought this
pair were the pick of the stables."

"I almost wish I could leave them both behind, but I could not do
so without hurting the feelings of the count and countess. But they
are too good for an aide-de-camp's work."

"I don't think anything can be too good for that, sir. An
aide-de-camp wants a horse that will stop at nothing; and sometimes
he has to ride for his life, pursued by the enemy's cavalry. You
will be the envy of the division, on one of those horses."

Karl returned an hour later with a message from the countess,
saying that she could not disturb her husband, who was then
resting, but that she understood Mr. Drummond's difficulty, and
they should be very glad to take care of the horse for him, until
he wanted it.

"You did not see the countess, I suppose, Karl?"

"Yes, sir, I saw her. She had me taken upstairs to her room. She
asked if I was your servant, and when I said yes, she told me that
she hoped I would take great care of you. I said that was my duty.

"'Nevertheless, do more than your duty,' she said. 'His life is a
very precious one to us.

"'Is it not, Thirza?'

"The young lady nodded.

"'Here are five gold crowns for yourself,' she went on, handing me
the money. 'They may help to make your bivouac more comfortable.

"'And now,' she said, 'there is something else, but I do not wish
you to tell your master.'

"What am I to do, your honour?"

"You had better keep it to yourself, Karl," Fergus laughed. "I
daresay I shall hear of it, someday."

"Very well, lieutenant, then that is all there is to report."

The next morning Fergus started early. Two days previously, a
Prussian governor had been appointed to Dresden, and three thousand
men were left under his command. Similar appointments were also
made to all the fortified towns in Saxony; for now that the
negotiations were broken off, and the King of Poland had declared
finally for the Confederates, Saxony was to be treated as a
conquered country. Nevertheless, strict injunctions were given that
all cattle, wheat, and other provisions taken for the use of the
garrisons, or for storing up in fortresses whence it might be
forwarded to the army, were to be paid for; and that any act of
pillage or ill treatment was to be most severely punished, as the
king was still most anxious to gain the goodwill of the mass of the
population.



Chapter 5: Lobositz.


In Dresden itself, the feeling was far from hostile to the
invaders. The discontent with the vicious government had been
extreme, and the imposts now levied were less onerous than those
which had been wasted in profusion and extravagance. The conduct of
the troops had been admirable; and in the case of Count Eulenfurst,
the personal visit of the king to express his regrets, and his
generosity to the families of the servants, had produced a most
excellent effect.

As Fergus rode into the camp, mounted on his new acquisition, it at
once caught the marshal's eye.

"Why, Fergus," he exclaimed, "have you been robbing the King of
Poland's stables? That is a noble animal, indeed."

"It was a present from Count Eulenfurst, marshal," Fergus replied.
"He sent me two, but one of them he is going to keep for me until I
return; for I could not part with Rollo, who is as good a horse as
anyone can wish to ride; and I know his paces."

"You are right, lad, for it is always well to accustom yourself to
a horse, before you want to use it in action; but in faith, it will
be a pity to ride such a horse as that through the heat of a
battle."

"I feel that, sir; but as the count, in his letter with the horses,
said that he hoped they would carry me safely through dangers as
grave as those I had encountered at his house, I feel that he would
be hurt if, on my return, I admitted to him that I had saved it for
show occasions."

"You are right," Keith said approvingly; "but that is the more
reason that you should accustom yourself to it, before you use it
for such work; as horse and rider should be as one on the field of
battle and, unless the horse has absolute confidence in its rider,
it is very difficult to keep it steady under fire."

"I suppose we shall not see the king for some time, marshal,"
Fergus said later, as Keith was chatting with him.

"On the contrary, he will be with us tomorrow. He rides today to
have another look at the Saxon position, and to give his orders
there. He will, tomorrow morning, join us. It is we who are likely
to have the first fighting; for the Austrians must come to the
relief of the Saxons, who are shut up, as in a trap, by our
divisions. They made a great mistake in not retiring, at once, into
Bohemia; which they could have done without difficulty, had they
lost no time.

"There is no greater mistake than shutting a large force up, either
in a fortress or an intrenched camp, unless that fortress is an
absolute obstacle to an enemy. This is not the case with Pirna. The
mountains can be crossed at many other points and, by leaving five
or six thousand men in a strong position at the end of each defile,
we could disregard them altogether, and march on southward. They
have already been three weeks there, and we believe that they
cannot hold out very much longer. However, it is probable that they
may be able to do so until an Austrian force comes up, and tries to
relieve them.

"From what we hear, two armies have already entered Bohemia, and we
may expect that our first battle will not be far distant."

"Do we block the only line of retreat, sir?" Fergus asked.

"No, indeed. We do not absolutely close the direct road, but our
position, and that of Marshal Schwerin facing Koeniggraetz, so
menaces their line of retreat that they dare not venture from their
shelter; and our cavalry render it impossible for any supplies to
be thrown in, unless the convoy is supported by an army. There are,
we know, paths across the hills by which infantry might effect a
passage; but as there is nowhere a place for them to retire to, we
should easily overtake them and force them to surrender.

"No, their only hope is in the coming of relief."

A few hours later, the king himself rode in. In the evening, orders
were issued that a force of cavalry and infantry were to march at
daylight, and that the rest of the army were to follow, two hours
later. It was soon known that the king had received news that
Marshal Browne--an Irish officer of great distinction, who
commanded the Austrian force gathered at Budin, on the Eger--was
expecting the arrival of artillery and pontoons from Vienna, in the
course of a day or two, and was preparing to cross the river. It
was evident, then, that his intention was to relieve the Saxon
army, in the first place.

The roads through the defiles were very heavy and difficult, but
that afternoon the advance force reached Termitz. Late in the
evening the rest of the army arrived there.

A squadron of cavalry had been sent off, as soon as the vanguard
arrived, to ascertain the movements of the enemy; and they
returned, at ten at night, with information that the Austrians had
crossed the Eger that day, and were to encamp at Lobositz. The army
at once moved on across the mountains and, after a very difficult
and fatiguing march, arrived near Lobositz; and lay down for some
hours in the order in which they had marched, taking up their
position as soon as it was light.


[Map: Battle of Lobositz]


The infantry were in two lines. Their left was posted on a steep
hill known as the Lobosch, part of whose lower slopes extended to
the village of Lobositz. A battery, with infantry supports, took
post on a hill called Homolka, which commanded the whole plain
between the two armies. The centre stretched across the valley
between those hills.

On the low hill on which stood the little town, the Austrians had
thrown up intrenchments, and posted a very strong artillery force,
whose fire would sweep a greater portion of the Prussian position.
Except at this point, the ground between the two armies was low and
swampy. The Austrian force was greatly superior in numbers,
consisting of 72 squadrons of horse, 52 battalions of infantry, and
98 guns; while the Prussians had 55 squadrons, 26 battalions, and
102 guns.

It was evident to both commanders that the village of Lobositz was
the decisive point; and indeed, the nature of the ground was such
as to render operations almost impossible, in the marshy plain
intersected by rivulets, which in many places formed large ponds.

At seven in the morning the Prussian action began by a heavy fire
between the left, on the slopes of Lobosch, and 4000 Croats and
several battalions of Hungarians, scattered among the vineyards and
the stone walls dividing them. A heavy fog covered the whole
country and, until a full view could be obtained of the position of
the enemy, neither of the commanders deemed it prudent to move.

At twelve o'clock, however, the fog began to clear up. The main
body of the Austrians was still invisible; and the king, seeing but
a comparatively small force in the plain near Lobositz, thought
that this must be the rear guard of the Austrians; who, he
imagined, having found the line by which they intended to succour
the Saxons occupied in force, had retired, having thrown up
batteries and left a strong force at Lobositz, to prevent the
Prussians from advancing.

To ascertain this, twenty squadrons of cavalry were ordered to
advance; but on doing so, they were received by so tremendous a
fire from the batteries of the village, and from others at
Sulowitz, another village in the plain on their right, that they
fell back with much loss, pursued by the Austrian cavalry. By the
time they had resumed their positions behind the infantry, the fog
had entirely lifted; and the king and Marshal Keith obtained a full
view of the Austrian position, from the spot where they had
stationed themselves on the hill. They agreed that no attack could
be made against the enemy's centre or left, and that they could be
assailed only on their right.

The troops on the Lobosch Hill were, therefore, largely reinforced;
and the whole army advanced, inclining towards the left so as to
attack Lobositz from the side of the plain, as well as from that of
the mountain. A tremendous artillery fire, from the guns on the
hills, heralded the advance.

The troops on the Lobosch Hill made their way forward rapidly. The
ground was so steep that they commanded a view down into the
vineyard, and their fire was so heavy that the Croats and
Hungarians fell, as fast as they raised their heads above the stone
walls to fire; and although General Browne reinforced them by some
of the best Austrian infantry, they were rapidly driven down
towards Lobositz. At the foot of the hill they were supported by
several more battalions, brought from the Austrian centre. General
Lacy, who commanded these, was wounded.

The Prussians halted at the foot of the slope and were reformed;
having fallen into some disorder, from the irregular nature of the
ground over which they had been fighting. The guns were brought
forward, so as to cover their next advance; while a very strong
force was sent to support the batteries on the Homolka Hill, so as
to check the enemy's centre and left, should they attempt any
movement across the plain.

In the meantime, Marshal Browne was reinforcing the defenders of
Lobositz with the whole of his right wing. The village was defended
with desperate bravery but, owing to the position, the king was
able to reinforce the assailants very much more rapidly than the
Austrian commander could bring up his distant troops. The Prussian
artillery concentrated their fire upon the place, and set it in
flames from end to end; when its defenders were forced to abandon
it, and retreat with precipitation on their cavalry.

In order to cover their withdrawal, the Austrian left moved down to
the village of Sulowitz, and endeavoured to pass the dam over a
marshy rivulet in front of it; but the fire from the battery on the
Homolka rendered it impossible for them to form, and also set that
village on fire, and they were therefore called back. The Austrian
centre moved to its right, and occupied the ground behind Lobositz
as soon as the defenders of the village had fallen back, and then
Marshal Browne formed up his whole force afresh.

His position was now as strong as it had been when the battle first
began, for the Prussians could not advance except between the
swampy ground and the river; and would have been exposed, while
doing so, to the fire of batteries both in front and in flank. The
Austrians were still greatly superior in numbers, and all the
advantages that had been gained might have been lost by a renewal
of the action. The total loss in killed, wounded, and prisoners on
the part of the Austrians was 3308. That of the Prussians was about
the same.

Although indecisive--and indeed, claimed as a victory by both
parties--the consequences showed that the advantage lay with the
Prussians. Marshal Browne's object had been to relieve the Saxons,
Frederick's to prevent this; and for the moment he had wholly
succeeded.

On the other hand was the fact that Marshal Browne had drawn off
his army practically intact, and that it was impossible for the
king to winter in Bohemia, as he would have done had the Austrian
army been defeated and dispersed; and the latter were still in a
position to make a fresh attempt to rescue the Saxons.

To prevent this, the king despatched the Duke of Bevern with a
large force, as if to get between the Austrians and the river Eger.
This movement had the desired effect. Marshal Browne at once fell
back, recrossed the river, and took up his position at his former
camp at Budin. From there he opened communications with the Saxons,
and it was arranged that these should pass the Elbe; and that he,
with 8000 men, should also do so, and march to meet them.

The Saxons, however, were detained, owing to the terrible weather
and the enormous difficulty of the defiles, and only crossed on the
13th. In the meantime the Prussians had taken up positions to cut
off the Saxon retreat, and after crossing they found themselves
hemmed in, and the roads so commanded by newly-erected batteries
that, being utterly exhausted by fatigue and hardships, they had no
resource but to surrender.

The terms enforced were hard. The officers were allowed to depart,
on giving their parole not to serve again, but the whole of the
rank and file were incorporated in the Prussian army.

Fergus Drummond and Lindsay stood by their horses, with the other
members of the staff, some short distance behind the king and
Marshal Keith, as they anxiously endeavoured to discover the
whereabouts and intentions of the Austrian army; while the crack of
musketry, between the Croats and the troops who were gradually
pressing them down the hill, continued unabated.

"This is slow work, Drummond," Lindsay said, as hour after hour
passed. "I should not like to have anything to do with the king,
just at present. It is easy to see how fidgety he is, and no
wonder. For aught we know there may be only three or four thousand
men facing us and, while we are waiting here, the whole Austrian
army may have crossed over again, and be marching up the river bank
to form a junction with the Saxons; or they may have gone by the
defiles we traversed the last two days, and may come down into
Saxony and fall on the rear of our camp watching Pirna, while the
Saxons are attacking in front. No wonder his majesty paces
backwards and forwards like a wild beast in a cage."

From time to time an aide-de-camp was sent off, with some order
involving the movement of a battalion farther to the right or left,
and the addition of a few guns to the battery on Homolka Hill.
Fergus had taken his turn in carrying the orders. He had, two days
before, abandoned his sling; and scarcely felt any inconvenience
from the wound, which indeed would have been of slight consequence,
had it not been for the excessive loss of blood.

"These movements mean nothing," Lindsay said, as he returned from
one of these rides. "The marshal makes the changes simply for the
sake of doing something--partly, perhaps, to take the king's
attention off this confounded delay; partly to interest the troops,
who must be just as restless and impatient as we are."

The messages were taken, alternately, by the king's aides-de-camp
and the marshal's.

At length, as the fog began to lift, the interest in the scene
heightened. The king and Keith talked long and earnestly together,
as they watched the village of Lobositz.

"They have got some strong batteries there," Lindsay said; "but as
far as one can see, there does not appear to be any large body of
troops. I suppose it is meant that the troops on the slopes shall
retire there, and make a strong stand. I am bound to say that it
looks very much as if Browne had only left a strong guard here, to
keep us from issuing from this defile; and that his whole army
moved away last night, and may now be some thirty miles away, on
their march towards Saxony."

As the fog lifted still more they could see the stream running
right across the plain, and the little village of Sulowitz on its
bank, apparently still and deserted. Presently Keith wrote an order
on a tablet, and Lindsay was sent off with it, to the general
commanding the cavalry.

"Something is going to be done at last, Drummond," he said, as he
mounted. "It is an order to the cavalry."

An order was then despatched to the battery on Homolka Hill, and to
the batteries on the left. Two more battalions of infantry then
moved up, to press the Croats more quickly down the hill.

Fergus watched Lindsay, and saw him ride up to the general. Several
officers at once galloped off. There was a movement among the
cavalry, and then twenty squadrons passed out through the intervals
between the brigades of infantry, and trotted out through the mouth
of the valley. They went on without interruption, until abreast of
Lobositz; and then a great number of men ran suddenly up, from the
houses of the village, to the batteries.

A minute later some thirty guns poured their fire into the Prussian
cavalry; while at the same moment the guns of a heavy battery,
hitherto unseen, poured in their fire from Sulowitz on their left
flank; while from rising ground, not visible behind it, came the
roar of thirty more pieces.

So rapidly had the aides-de-camp been sent off, that Fergus was the
only one remaining available. The king spoke a few words to the
marshal, and then said to Fergus:

"Ride, sir, with my orders to the officer commanding the cavalry
out there, and tell him to retire at once."

Fergus ran back to where Karl was holding his horse.

"Follow me, Karl," he said, as he sprang into the saddle; and then
rode rapidly down the steep hill and, as soon as he reached the
valley, dashed off at a headlong gallop.

"I have orders, Karl, to recall the cavalry, who will be destroyed
unless they return. Should I fall, carry the order to their
commander."

The din was now prodigious. The whole of the Prussian batteries had
opened on Lobositz and Sulowitz, and between the thunder of the
guns came the incessant crackling of musketry on the hill to his
right.

Passing through the infantry, Fergus dashed across the plain. He
was mounted on the horse the marshal had given him, as the other
was not yet accustomed to stand fire. The noble animal, as if
delighted to be on level ground again, and excited by the roar of
battle, carried him along at the top of its speed without any need
of urging. Fergus knew that on the heights behind the king and
Keith would be anxiously watching him, for the peril of the cavalry
was great; and the concussion of the guns was now causing the fog
to lift rapidly and, as he rode, he could dimly make out dark
masses of men all along the rising ground behind Sulowitz, and knew
that the Austrian cavalry might, at any moment, sweep down on the
Prussians.

He was drawing abreast of Lobositz, when suddenly a squadron of
cavalry dashed out from the village. Their object was evidently to
cut him off, and prevent any message that he might bear reaching
the Prussian cavalry, which were now halted half a mile ahead.
Their officers were endeavouring to reform them from the confusion
into which they had fallen, from the speed at which they had ridden
and the heavy losses they had sustained.

He saw, at once, that the Austrians would cross his line, and
reined in his horse to allow Karl to come up to him. Had not the
trooper been exceptionally well mounted, he would have been left
far behind. As it was, while pressing his charger to the utmost, he
was still some fifty yards in rear of Fergus.

As soon as he came up, the latter said:

"We must cut our way through the Austrians. Ride close to me. We
will ease our horses a little, until we are within fifty yards, and
then go at them at full speed. If I fall and you get through, carry
the orders to retire to the general commanding the cavalry."

The Austrian cavalry had formed up in two troops, one twenty yards
behind the other, and each in line two deep, extending across the
road by which Fergus was riding. Seeing, by the speed at which he
was travelling, that the Prussian staff officer had no intention of
surrendering, the Austrian in command gave the order to charge,
when they were some fifty yards away.

"Now, Karl, boot to boot. Go right at them!"

And with pistols in their left hands, and their swords in their
right, they sent their horses at full speed against the enemy.
These had scarcely got into motion when, like a thunderbolt, Fergus
and his orderly burst down upon them.


[Illusgtration: Not a blow was struck, horse and rider went
down before them]


The shock was irresistible. Their horses were much heavier and more
powerful than those of the Austrians, and their weight and impetus
carried all before them. Not a blow was struck. Horse and rider
went down before them, or were swept aside. They were scarcely
conscious that they were through, before they encountered the
second line.

Here the fight was much more severe. Fergus cut down two of his
opponents and, with a pistol shot, rid Karl of an antagonist who
was pressing him hard; and after a minute of wild confusion they
were through the line, and riding at headlong speed towards the
Prussians. Pistols cracked out behind them, but before the
Austrians had time to turn and aim they were already fifty yards
away, and going at a speed that soon left their pursuers behind. As
soon as the latter saw this they drew off, and trotted back to
Lobositz.

Fergus rode up to the officer commanding the cavalry.

"I bear the king's orders to you, general, to retire at once with
your command."

It was time, for a body of Austrian cavalry, of much greater
strength, could be seen galloping towards them from the high ground
half a mile distant. In half a minute the Prussians were in motion
but, as they returned, the storm of fire from the two villages
burst out again with redoubled violence. Men and horses rolled over
but, closing up quickly, the squadrons swept on.

The general remained stationary until his last squadron thundered
by, and then galloped forward again and took his place at their
head. Fergus had followed him, when there was a sudden crash, and
he was thrown with tremendous force over his horse's head, and
there lay stunned with the shock.

When he recovered he staggered to his feet, and saw that he was
surrounded by Austrian cavalry; these having halted just where he
fell, as pursuit of the Prussians was hopeless, and the balls from
the Prussian batteries were falling thick.

"You are our prisoner, sir," an officer said to him.

"So I see," Fergus said bitterly. "It is hard luck, just at the
beginning of the campaign."

"It is the fortune of war," the Austrian said with a smile; "and
indeed, I don't think that you have any reason to grumble for, had
that shot struck a few inches farther back, it would have carried
off both your legs."

A sharp order was now given to retire. One of the troopers was
ordered to give his horse to Fergus, and to mount behind a comrade;
and they rode back to the Austrian main position, on the rising
ground. Fergus was at once taken to the marshal in command of the
Austrians.

"What is your name, sir?" the latter asked.

"Fergus Drummond. I have the honour to be an aide-de-camp on
Marshal Keith's staff."

"A Scotchman, I suppose?" the marshal said, breaking into English.

"Yes, sir."

"What force is there opposed to us?"

"That I cannot say, sir. I only joined the army two days ago, and
have been on the march ever since."

"Who is its commander?"

"Marshal Keith, sir; but the king himself is with it."

"I will see that you are made comfortable, presently, Mr. Drummond.

"Captain Wingratz, will you conduct this officer to the rear, and
place a couple of soldiers to see that he is not annoyed or
interfered with, in any way?"

Fergus was led away. Captain Wingratz called up two troopers and,
choosing an elevated spot of ground, told them to dismount and
allow no one to speak to the officer.

"From here," he said courteously to Drummond, "you will get a view
of the field of battle."

Fergus sat down on the grass, and remained a spectator of the fight
to the end of the day. He marked at once that the combat had rolled
down the hill, and that the Prussians were making their way in
force towards Lobositz. Then he saw heavy masses of infantry, from
the Austrian right, move forward to aid in its defence. For two
hours the battle raged round the village, the whole of the guns on
both sides aiding in the fight. Then volumes of smoke and flame
rose, and the Austrians were seen retiring. Sulowitz still kept up
a heavy fire, and he saw a strong body from the Austrian left move
down there; while the centre advanced to cover the retreat of the
defenders of Lobositz, and to check the advancing masses of the
Prussians; and he thought, for a time, that a general engagement
was about to take place. Then he saw the Prussian advance cease,
the roar of cannon gradually died away, and the battle was at an
end.

For an hour he remained, apparently unnoticed, then Captain
Wingratz rode up with another officer.

"I am sorry to have neglected you so long, Lieutenant Drummond; but
you see it was the fault of your own people, who have kept us so
busy. This is Lieutenant Kerr, a compatriot of yours, who will take
special charge of you."

"I am sorry that our meeting cannot take place under more
favourable circumstances," Kerr said, holding out his hand. "It
might well have been the other way.

"Now come with me to my tent. I have no doubt that you are hungry;
I can assure you that I am."

The two walked together for about a quarter of a mile, the Austrian
officer having left as soon as he had introduced them.

"There were three of us here this morning," Kerr said, as they
entered the tent. "The other two are missing. One I know is killed;
the other badly wounded, but whether he is dead or a prisoner I
cannot say.

"By the way, are you not the officer who cut his way through the
squadron of our regiment, and went on and joined your cavalry, who
at once fell back? I was in Lobositz, myself. My squadron was not
ordered out. As I hear that you were found by our cavalry as they
followed the Prussians, it struck me that it might be you; although
from Lobositz we could only see that it was a staff uniform that
the officer wore."

"Yes, it was I. I was carrying an order for the cavalry to retire."

"That was what we supposed, as soon as you were seen coming down
the valley; and as it would have suited us much better for the
Prussian cavalry to have stayed where it was for a little longer,
the general sent out a squadron to intercept you. It was a splendid
thing to do, on your part. Of course, there were a number of us
watching from the earthworks, and I can assure you that there was a
general inclination to cheer as you cut your way through our
fellows. I am sure that if I had known that it was a countryman I
should have done it, though the action was at the expense of my own
regiment.

"Our squadron suffered heavily as they rode back again, for that
battery from the Homolka turned its attention to them, as soon as
you had gone through. They had an officer and nearly thirty men
killed and wounded before they got back into shelter.

"How long have you been out here?"

"Only about two months."

"Really! You are lucky in getting onto Keith's staff."

"He is a cousin of my mother's," Fergus said.

"And he made you lieutenant, and aide-de-camp, at once."

"No. I was first a cornet, but I was promoted at Dresden. The king
had given strict orders about plundering, and it happened that I
came upon some marauders at their work, and had the good fortune to
rescue a gentleman of some importance from their hands; and the
king, who was furious at his orders being disobeyed, himself
promoted me.

"I had been lucky enough to get myself wounded in the affair. As I
lost a good deal of blood, I looked no doubt a good deal worse than
I was, and I expect that had a good deal to do with my getting the
step."

"Well, you are a lucky fellow. I was eight years a cornet before I
got promoted."

"I think my bad luck, in getting captured, balances my good fortune
in being promoted so soon."

"To some extent perhaps it does, but you will get the benefit when
you return. No doubt Fritz was watching you, as you rode. He must
have seen our cavalry coming down the slope, before the man in
command of your squadrons could have done so; and must have felt
that they were lost, unless his orders were received. He must have
been relieved, indeed, when he saw you reach them."

This had indeed been the case. The king and marshal had both been
watching through their glasses the Prussian cavalry, and marked how
the ground behind them was dotted thickly with the bodies of horses
and men.

"Will they never stop?" the king said impatiently. "These cavalry
men are always getting into scrapes with their impetuosity. Gorlitz
must have known that he was only sent forward to ascertain the
position of the Austrians, and not to fight their whole army. He
ought to have turned, as soon as that crossfire of their batteries
opened upon them."

"He knew that your majesty and the whole army would be watching
him, sire," Keith said quietly; "and I fancy that, under such
circumstances, few cavalry men would draw rein till they had done
something worthy of themselves."

At this moment the fog wreath moved away.

"See," the king exclaimed, "there is a great body of Austrian
cavalry moving along behind Sulowitz. That rise behind the village
must hide them from our men.

"Where is your messenger, Keith?"

"There he goes, sire. He is well out of the valley now and, by the
pace he is riding at, he won't be long before he reaches them."

"He won't reach them at all," the king said curtly, a minute later.
"See, there is a squadron of horse riding out from Lobositz, to cut
him off. No doubt they guess what his errand is."

"I see them, sire, and he must see them, too. He is checking his
horse, for his orderly is coming up to him."

"Then the cavalry will be lost," the king said. "The enemy's
batteries are playing havoc with them, and they will have the
Austrians down upon them in a few minutes.

"Ah! I expect Gorlitz sees them now. Our men are halting, and
forming up. I suppose he means to charge the Austrians when they
come up, but there are three to one against him. He is lost."

"There is hope yet, sire," Keith said, as he again turned his glass
on Fergus. "My aide-de-camp is going to charge the Austrian
squadron."

"So he is!" the king exclaimed, lowering his glass, for the
distance was little more than half a mile from the spot where he
stood. "He must be mad."

"It is possible he may do it, sire. His orderly is riding boot to
boot beside him. You know already that he is a good swordsman. He
will have the advantage that the enemy won't dream of his attacking
them, and the rate at which they are riding will help them through.

"There he goes!" and he raised the glass again to his eye. "Bravo!
They are through the first troop, and still together. Now they are
at it.

"There, sire, they are through the second troop. Bravo, Fergus!"

The king made no remark until he saw the Austrian squadron draw
rein. Then he said:

"Thank God, he has saved the cavalry! It was a glorious deed.
Marshal Keith, make out his commission as a captain, today."

"He is very young, sire," the marshal said hesitatingly.

"By Heaven, sir, I would promote him if he were an infant in arms!"
the king replied. "Why, Keith, the loss of half our cavalry would
have crippled us, and cavalry men are not made in a day.

"There, he has reached them now. I see they are wheeling. Well and
quickly done! Yes, they won't be overtaken; but three minutes
later, and not a man would have come back.

"Colonel Rogner," he said to one of the group of officers behind
him, "you will please ride down and meet the cavalry, when they
come in, and convey to Lieutenant Drummond my highest satisfaction
at the gallant manner in which he has carried out my orders. You
will also inform General Gorlitz that, in my opinion, he pushed his
reconnaissance much too far; but that I am well content with the
bravery shown by the troops, and at the manner in which he drew
them off on receipt of my order."

In five-and-twenty minutes the colonel returned, and said:

"I regret to say, your majesty, that Lieutenant Drummond is
missing. I have inquired among the officers and find that, as he
was following General Gorlitz, he and his horse suddenly pitched
forward and lay without movement. Evidently the horse was killed by
a cannon shot, but whether Mr. Drummond was also killed, they could
not say."

"We must hope not," the king said warmly. "I would not lose so
gallant a young officer, for a great deal.

"Keith, if we take Lobositz today, let a most careful search be
made, over the ground the cavalry passed, for his body. If it is
found, so much the worse. If not, it will be a proof that he is
either wounded or unhurt, and that he has been carried off by the
Austrian cavalry; who passed over the same ground as ours, and who
certainly would not trouble themselves to carry off his body."



Chapter 6: A Prisoner.


The next morning a horse was brought round for Fergus, and he at
once started, under the escort of a captain and Lieutenant Kerr and
fifty troopers, with thirteen other officers taken prisoners at
Lobositz. Seven hundred rank and file had also been captured.
These, however, were to march under an infantry escort on the
following day. Fergus afterwards learned that sixteen officers, of
whom eleven belonged to the cavalry, had been killed; and
eighty-one officers and about eighteen hundred men wounded in the
desperate fighting at Lobositz.

Fergus found that among the Austrians the battle of the previous
day was considered a victory, although they had lost their advanced
post at Lobositz.

"I cannot say it seemed so to me," he said to the lieutenant, as
they rode away from the camp.

"Why, we have prevented the king from penetrating into Bohemia."

"But the king could have done that three days ago, without fighting
a battle," Fergus said; "just as Schwerin did at Koeniggraetz.
There would have been no need to have marched night and day across
the mountains, in order to give battle to an army nearly twice the
strength of his own. His object was to prevent you from drawing off
the Saxons, and in that he perfectly succeeded."

"Oh, there are other ways of doing that! We had only to keep along
the other side of the Elbe until we faced Pirna, then they could
have joined us."

"It sounds easy," Fergus laughed, "but it would not be so easy to
execute. These mountain defiles are terrible, and you may be sure
that the king will not be idle while you and the Saxons are
marching to meet each other.

"However, it was a hard-fought battle, and I should think that our
loss must be quite as great as yours; for your artillery must have
played terrible havoc among our infantry, as they marched to the
assault of the village."

"Yes. I hear this morning that we have lost about a hundred and
twenty officers killed and wounded, and about two thousand one
hundred and fifty men, and nearly seven hundred missing or
prisoners. What your loss is, of course, I can't say."

"I cannot understand your taking so many prisoners," Fergus said.

"A great many of them belong to the cavalry. You see, all who were
dismounted by the fire of our guns were captured when our horse
swept down."

"Ah, yes! I did not think of that. I saw a good many men running
across the plain when I galloped out."

Two of the officers belonged to the 3rd Royal Dragoon Guards, half
of which regiment had taken part in the reconnaissance; and both
their horses, like his own, had been shot under them. As soon as
they were brought up from the tents where they had been lodged,
they exchanged a cordial greeting with Fergus. He no longer
belonged to the regiment, as on his promotion he had been gazetted
from it on to the staff; but during the time he had drilled with
them, in Berlin, he had come to be well known to all of them.

"I thought that it was you, lieutenant," one of them said. "I was
not far from you, when you charged through those Austrians. I was
unhorsed as we went forward, and was running back when I saw them
come out. There were a good many of us, and I thought their object
was to capture us. It was no use running, and I threw myself down,
in hopes they would think I had been knocked over. You passed
within thirty yards of me. Our guns opened so heavily on them,
after you had got through, that I thought it prudent to keep quiet
a little longer before I made a move; and the result was that the
Austrian cavalry, as it came along in the pursuit of our men,
picked me up.

"Do you know where we are bound for?"

"Prague in the first instance, but beyond that I cannot say. I
suppose it will depend a good deal on what takes place now. There
is no doubt the Saxons will have to surrender; and I suppose that,
anyhow, they will send us farther away, unless indeed there is an
exchange of prisoners."

A long day's ride took them to Prague. The news of the battle had
been sent off the night before, and as it had been reported as a
victory, the inhabitants were in a state of great delight. Bonfires
blazed in the streets, church bells rang in triumphant peals, and
the whole population was abroad. The arrival of this party, with
prisoners, afforded a welcome confirmation of the news.

There were a few yells and hoots, as they rode along in charge of
their escort; but as a rule the people stood silent, as if in
respect for their misfortunes, for most of the captives were
wounded. They were taken to the military prison, and comfortable
quarters assigned to them; and the wounds of those who required it
were redressed by a surgeon. There was a hearty parting between
Fergus and Kerr, as the latter, after handing over his prisoners,
turned to ride off with the escort to the barracks.

"I start early tomorrow for the camp again," he said. "If you are
kept here, I am sure to see you again before long."

Fergus shared a room with Captain Hindeman, an officer of the 3rd.

"I don't think it at all likely we shall remain here," the latter
said. "It is more probable that we shall be sent to Olmuetz, or to
one of the smaller fortresses in Moravia. The war is, they will
think, likely to be confined to Bohemia until the spring; if indeed
the king does not have to stand on the defensive. I cannot help
thinking, myself, that we should have done better if we had let
things go on quietly till the spring. It is not probable that
Russia and Austria would have been more ready, then, than they are
now; and we should have had the whole summer before us, and might
have marched to Vienna before the campaign was over. Now they will
all have the winter to make their preparations, and we shall have
France, Austria, and Russia, to say nothing of Poland, on our
hands. It is a tremendous job even for Frederick to tackle."

They remained for three weeks at Prague, and were then informed by
the governor that he had orders for them to be removed to Olmuetz.
Accordingly, the next day eight of the officers started on
horseback, under an escort. When they reached Bruenn they found
that they were to be separated, and the next morning Captain
Hindeman and Fergus were taken to the fortress of Spielberg.

"An awkward place either to get in or out of, Drummond," the
captain said, as they approached the fortress.

"Very much so," Fergus agreed. "But if I see a chance, I shall
certainly do my best to escape before spring."

"I don't think there is much chance of that," the other said
gloomily. "If we had been left at Prague, or even at Bruenn, there
might have been some chance; but in these fortresses, where
everything is conducted on a very severe system, and they are
veritable prisons, I don't think that anything without wings has a
chance of getting away."

As a rule, officers taken prisoners in war enjoyed a considerable
amount of liberty; and were even allowed to reside in the houses of
citizens, on giving their parole. The enforced embodiment of the
Saxons in the Prussian army had, however, excited such a storm of
indignation throughout Europe that it greatly damaged Frederick's
cause. It was indeed an unheard-of proceeding, and a most mistaken
one, for the greater part of the Saxons seized opportunities to
desert, as soon as the next campaign began. It was the more
ill-advised, since Saxony was a Protestant country, and therefore
the action alienated the other Protestant princes in Germany, whose
sympathies would have otherwise been wholly with Prussia; and it
was to no small extent due to that high-handed action that, during
the winter, the Swedes joined the Confederacy, and undertook to
supply an army of 50,000 men; France paying a subsidy towards their
maintenance, and the members of the Confederacy agreeing that, upon
the division of Prussia, Pomerania should fall to the share of
Sweden. Thus it may be said that the whole of Central and Northern
Europe, with the exception only of Hanover, was leagued against
Prussia.

It was a result of this general outburst of indignation that,
instead of being kept in a large town and allowed various
privileges, the prisoners taken at the battle of Lobositz were
treated with exceptional severity, and confined in isolated
fortresses. Fergus and his companion were lodged in a small room in
one of the towers. The window was strongly barred, the floor was of
stone, the door massive and studded with iron. Two truckle beds, a
table, and two chairs formed the sole furniture.

"Not much chance of an escape here," Captain Hindeman said, as the
door closed behind their guards.

"The prospect does not look very bright, I admit," Fergus said
cheerfully; "but we have a proverb, 'Where there is a will there is
a way'. I have the will certainly and, as we have plenty of time
before us, it will be hard if we do not find a way."

He went to the window and looked out.

"Over a hundred feet," he said, "and I should say a precipice fully
as deep at the foot of the wall. At any rate, we have the advantage
of an extensive view.

"I am glad to see that there is a fireplace, for the cold will be
bitter here, when the winter sets in. I wonder whether the rooms
above and below this are tenanted?"

Hindeman shrugged his shoulders. He was not, at present, in a mood
to take interest in anything. It was now the end of October, and
Fergus was very glad when the door opened again, and a warder came
in with two soldiers, who carried huge baskets of firewood; and it
was not long before a large fire was blazing on the hearth.

Day after day passed. Fergus turned over in his mind every possible
method of escape, but the prospect looked very dark. Even if the
door were open, there would be difficulties of all sorts to
encounter. In the middle of the day many people went in and out of
the fortress, with provisions, wood, and other matters; but at
sunset the gates were shut, and sentries placed on the walls; and
on getting out he would have to cross an inner courtyard, and then
pass through a gateway--at which a sentinel was posted night and
day--into the outer court, which was surrounded by a strong wall
over thirty feet high, with towers at the angles.

Escape from the window would be equally difficult. Two long and
very strong ropes would be required, and the bars of the window
were so massive that, without tools of any kind, it would be
impossible to remove them.

A month later Captain Hindeman fell ill, and was removed to the
infirmary. Fergus was glad of his departure. He had been so
depressed that he was useless as a companion and, so long as he
remained there, he altogether prevented any plan of escape being
attempted; for difficult as it might be for one person to get away,
it would be next to impossible for two to do so.

For an hour in the day, the prisoners had leave to walk on the
wall. His fellow prisoner had never availed himself of this
privilege; but Fergus always took his daily exercise, partly to
keep himself in health, partly in hopes that a plan of escape might
present itself. A sentry, however, was always posted on the wall
while the prisoners were at exercise; and on the side allotted for
their walk, the rock sloped away steeply from the foot of the wall.
The thought of escape, therefore, in broad daylight was out of the
question; and Fergus generally watched what was going on in the
courtyard.

In time he came to know which was the entrance to the apartments of
the governor and his family, where the married officers were
quartered, and where the soldiers lodged. He saw that on the ground
floor of the tower he occupied were the quarters of a field officer
belonging to the garrison.

One day he saw a number of men employed in clearing out some unused
quarters, on one side of the outer courtyard, and judged that an
addition was about to be made to the garrison. This gave substance
to a plan that he had been revolving in his mind. That evening,
when the warder brought him his food, he said carelessly:

"I see you have some more troops coming in."

"Yes," the man replied, "there are three hundred more men coming.
They will march in tomorrow afternoon. They will be getting the
room on the first floor, below here, cleared out tomorrow morning
for the officer who commands them."

Fergus had, all along, considered that there would be no difficulty
in suddenly attacking and overpowering the warder, when he came in
or out of his room, for no special precautions were taken. The fact
that the prisoners were all in their uniforms, and that on showing
themselves below they would be instantly arrested, seemed to forbid
all chance of their making any attempt to escape. It was the matter
of clothes that had, more than anything else, puzzled Fergus; for
although he thought that he might possibly obtain a uniform from
some officer's quarters, it was evident that the guard would at
once perceive that he was not one of the officers of the garrison.
The arrival of the fresh detachment relieved him of this
difficulty, and it now seemed that a way of escape was open to him.

Much depended upon the hour at which the regiment would arrive. The
later they did so the better, and as the weather had for some days
been terribly rough, and the roads would be deep and heavy, it was
likely that they would not arrive until some time past the hour
fixed.

The next afternoon he listened for the roll of drums that would
greet the arrival of the newcomers. Just as the door opened, and
the sergeant entered with a lantern, he heard the sound that he had
been listening for.


[Illustration: As the man was placing his supper on the table,
Fergus sprang upon him]


Nothing could have happened more fortunately. As the man was
placing his supper on the table, Fergus sprang suddenly upon him,
hurled him down on to his face, and then fastened his hands behind
him with a rope he had made from twisted strips of one of his rugs.
He was not afraid of his calling out, as the window looked outside,
and it was blowing half a gale. Moreover, the sound of drums below
would aid to prevent any noise being heard from the courtyard.

"I don't want to hurt you, sergeant," he said, "but I do want my
liberty. I must put a bandage round your mouth, to prevent you from
calling; but you know as well as I do that there would be no chance
of your being heard, however loud you might shout.

"Now, in the first place I am going to see if I can get a uniform.
If I cannot, I must come back and take yours."

Binding the sergeant's legs as well as his arms, and putting a
muffler over his mouth, Fergus went out, leaving his own jacket and
cap behind him. The key was in the door. He turned it and put it in
his pocket, shot the heavy bolts, and ran downstairs. When he got
to the bottom, he tried the door of the major's quarters. It was
unbolted, and he felt absolutely certain that the major would be
out as, with the other officers, he would have gone down to the
gate to receive those of the incoming detachment.

On opening the door, he saw the articles of which he was in
search--a long cloak and a regimental cap. These he at once put on.
After a further search, he found a pair of military pantaloons and
a patrol jacket. Throwing off the cloak, he rapidly changed his
clothes. He wanted now only a regimental sword to complete the
costume, but he trusted to the long cloak to hide the absence of
this.

Throwing the things that he had taken off under the bed, he went
out, closed the door behind him, locked it, and took the key. He
had with him the short sword carried by the warder, and he relied
upon this to silence the sentry, at the passage leading to the
outer court, should he attempt to stop him.

This, however, was most unlikely. The night was dark, and there was
no light burning; and at this hour, with fresh troops arriving and
a general movement in the fortress, there could be no question of a
countersign being demanded by a sentry in the interior of the
place. The man, indeed, only drew himself up and saluted, as he
dimly made out an officer coming from the major's quarters.

The courtyard beyond was half full of soldiers. The newcomers had
just fallen out. Some were being greeted by members of the garrison
who had known them before, officers were chatting together; and
Fergus made his way, unnoticed in the darkness, to the gate. As he
had hoped, the baggage waggons were making their way in.

A sentry was placed on each side of the gate.

"Now then," he said sharply, "hurry on with these waggons. The
commandant wants the gate shut, as soon as possible;" and passing
the sentry, he went on as if to hurry up the rear of the train.

Taking him for one of the officers of the newly-arrived party, the
sentry stepped back at once, and he passed out.

There were six waggons still outside and, unnoticed, he passed
these and went down the road. He had brought with him under his
cloak the sergeant's lantern and, as soon as he was half a mile
from the fortress, he took this out in order to be able to proceed
the more rapidly. He had taken particular notice of the country
from his prison window and, when he came down into a broad road
running along the valley, he turned at once to the south.

His plans had all been carefully thought out, while in prison. He
knew perfectly well that, without money, it would be altogether
impossible for him to traverse the many hundred miles that lay
between him and Saxony. There would be a hot pursuit when, in the
morning, he was found to have gone; but it would hardly be
suspected that he had taken the road for Vienna, as this would be
entirely out of his way.

Happily, he was not altogether penniless. He had always carried
five or six gold pieces, sewn up in the lining of his jacket with
the letters with which he had been furnished by Count Eulenfurst,
as a resource in case of being taken prisoner. He wished now that
he had brought more, but he thought that it might prove sufficient
for his first needs.

He walked all night. His candle burnt out, in two hours after
starting; but at eleven the moon rose, and its light enabled him to
keep the road without difficulty. As morning dawned, he approached
a good-sized village some forty miles from his starting point and,
waiting for an hour until he saw people stirring, Fergus went to
the posting house and shouted for the postmaster. The sight of a
field officer, on foot at such an hour of the morning, greatly
surprised the man when he came down.

"My horse has fallen and broken its neck," Fergus said, "and I have
had to walk some miles on foot. I have important despatches to
carry to Vienna. Bring round a horse, without a moment's delay."

The postmaster, without the smallest hesitation, ordered his men to
saddle and bring out a horse.

"It will be sent back from the next stage," Fergus said, as he
mounted and rode on at full speed.

He changed horses twice, not the slightest suspicion being
entertained by any of the postmasters that he was not what he
seemed; and, before noon, arrived at the last post house before
reaching Vienna.

"A bottle of your best wine, landlord, and I want to speak a word
with you in a private room. Bring two glasses."

The wine was poured out, and after he had drank a glass Fergus
said:

"Landlord, I am the bearer of important despatches, and it is
imperative that I should not attract attention as I enter the city.
If I were seen and recognized there, questions might be asked, and
curiosity excited as to the news of which I am the bearer.

"I see that you are a sensible man, and will readily understand the
situation. To avoid attracting attention, it would be best for me
to enter the city in a civilian dress. You are about my size, and I
beg you to furnish me with a suit of your clothes, for which I will
pay at once."

"I will do that willingly, sir," the landlord answered, feeling
much honoured by being let into what he deemed an important affair.
"My best suit is at your service. You can send it me out from the
town."

"I would rather pay for it, landlord. I may be ordered in another
direction, and may not have an opportunity of returning it. If you
will say how much the suit cost you, I will hand you the money."

The landlord went out, and returned in a minute with the clothes.

"Another glass of wine, landlord," Fergus said, as he handed over
the amount at which the landlord valued them--"another glass of
wine; and then, while I am changing, get a light trap round to the
door. I shall not want to take it into Vienna, but will alight and
send it back again, half a mile this side of the gates.
Mind--should any inquiries be made, it were best to say as little
as possible."

In another five minutes, Fergus was on his way again. He had
procured from the landlord a small trunk, in which he had packed
the uniform, and directed him to keep it until he heard from him;
but if in the course of a week he received no orders, he was to
forward it to Major Steiner, at Spielberg.

When within half a mile of Vienna, Fergus got out, gave a present
to the driver and told him to return, and then walked forward to
the gate, which he entered without question. He thought it better
not to put up in that quarter of the town, but walked a long
distance through the city, purchased a travelling coat lined with
sheepskin, and a small canvas trunk in which he put it; went some
distance farther and hired a room at a quiet inn, and called for
dinner, of which he felt much in need, for beyond eating a few
mouthfuls of bread while a fresh horse was brought out for him, he
had tasted nothing since the previous evening. After dining he went
to his room and took his boots off and, feeling completely worn out
from his long journey, after two months of confinement, threw
himself on the bed and slept for three hours.

Then he went for an hour's stroll through the town. By this time it
was getting dark, snowflakes were beginning to fall thickly, and he
was very glad, after sitting for a time listening to the talk in
the parlour of the inn, to turn in for the night.

In the morning the ground was covered with snow. He was glad to put
on his thick coat, for the cold outside was bitter.

For some hours he walked about Vienna, and the contrast between
that city and Berlin struck him greatly. The whole bearing and
manner of the people was brighter, and gayer. The soldiers, of whom
there were great numbers in the streets--Austrians, Croats, and
Hungarians--had none of the formal stiffness of the Prussians, but
laughed and joked as they went, and seemed as easy and light
hearted as the civilians around them. They were, for the most part,
inferior in size and physique to the Prussians; but there was a
springiness in their walk, and an alertness and intelligence which
were wanting in the more solid soldier of the north.

He spent the day in making himself acquainted with the town, the
position of the gates, and other particulars which might be
important to him; as he could not feel sure of the reception that
he would meet with, when he presented his letter.

In the afternoon the city was particularly gay. Sledges made their
appearance in the streets, and all seemed delighted that winter had
set in, in earnest.

The next morning, after breakfast, Fergus went to the mansion of
Count Platurn, whose position he had ascertained on the previous
day. The name had been scored under, in his list, as one on whom he
might confidently rely.

"I am the bearer of a letter to Count Platurn," he said, to the
somewhat gorgeously-dressed functionary who opened the door. "I
have a message to deliver to him, personally."

The doorkeeper closed the door behind him and spoke to a footman,
who went away and returned, in a minute or two, and told Fergus to
follow him to a spacious and comfortable library, where the count
was sitting alone.

"You are the bearer of a letter to me, sir?" he said, in a pleasant
tone of voice. "Whence do you bring it?"

"From Count Eulenfurst of Dresden," Fergus said, producing it.

The count gave an exclamation of pleasure.

"Has he completely recovered?" he asked. "Of course, we heard of
the outrage of which he was a sufferer."

"He was going on well when I saw him last, count."

The count opened the letter and read it, with an air of growing
surprise as he went on. When he had finished it, he rose from his
seat and offered his hand to Fergus.

"You are the Scottish officer who saved the lives of the count, his
wife, and daughter," he said warmly. "How you come to be here I
don't know, but it is enough for me that you rendered my dear
friend and his wife, who is a cousin of mine, this great service.
You are not here, I hope, on any mission which, as an Austrian
noble, I could feel it impossible to further."

"No indeed, count. Had it been so, I should assuredly not have
presented this letter to you. In giving it to me, the countess said
that possibly the fortune of war might be unfavourable, and that I
might be taken prisoner. In that case, she said I might find a
friend invaluable, and she gave me letters to eight gentlemen in
various great towns, saying that she believed that any one of these
would, for the sake of the count, do me any kindness in his power.

"Her prevision has turned out correct. My horse was shot under me
at the battle of Lobositz, and I was made prisoner and sent to the
fortress of Spielberg. Three days since I effected my escape, and
deemed it more prudent to make my way here, where no one would
suspect me of coming, instead of striving to journey up through
Bohemia."

"You effected your escape from Spielberg!" the count repeated, in
surprise. "That is indeed a notable feat, for it is one of our
strongest prisons; but you shall tell me about that, presently.

"Now, about Count Eulenfurst. The affair created quite a sensation,
partly from the rank and well-known position of the count, partly
from the fact that the King of Prussia, himself, called upon the
count to express his sincere regret at what had occurred, and the
vigorous steps that he took to put a stop to all acts of pillage
and marauding. It was said at the time that, had it not been for
the opportune arrival of a young Scottish officer, an aide-de-camp
to Marshal Keith, the lives of the count and his family would
assuredly have been sacrificed; and that the king, in token of his
approbation, had promoted the officer upon the spot.

"But I pray you, take off that warm coat, and make yourself at
home."

He touched a bell. A servant entered immediately.

"If anyone calls, say that I am engaged on business, and can see no
one this morning. Place two chairs by the fire, and bring in wine
and glasses."

Two chairs were moved to the fire. Wine was placed close at hand on
a small table, and the count fetched a box of cigars from his
cabinet. Fergus had already adopted the all but universal custom,
in the German army, of smoking.

"Now," the count said, when the cigars were lighted, "tell me all
about this affair at Dresden."

Fergus related the facts, as modestly as he could.

"No wonder Eulenfurst speaks of you in the highest terms," said the
count. "Truly it was nobly done. Six Pomeranian soldiers to a
single sword! 'Tis wonderful."

"The chief credit should, as I have said, count, be given to the
maid, but for whose aid matters might have gone quite otherwise."

"Doubtless great credit is due to her, Lieutenant Drummond; but you
see, you had already defeated three, and I prefer to think that you
would have got the better of the others, even if she had not come
to your aid.

"The countess had, I hope, quite recovered at the time you came
away, since it is she who writes the letter in his name."

"I think that she had quite recovered. For a few hours, the doctors
were even more anxious as to her state than that of the count; but
the news that he was doing well, and might recover, did wonders for
her; and she was able herself to take part in nursing him, two days
after he received the wound."

"I saw, by the account, that my little cousin received the king."

"She did, sir, and bore herself well. It was no doubt a great trial
to her, so soon after the terrible scene she had passed through. In
that she had showed great calmness and presence of mind, and was
able to give assistance to her mother, as soon as she herself was
released from her bonds."

"You were not present, yourself?"

"No, sir. My wound was, as I have said, but in the flesh; and was
of so little consequence, that I did not think to have it bandaged
until all other matters were arranged. But when I had made my
report to the marshal, and begged that a surgeon should be sent
instantly to aid the count, I fainted from loss of blood; and it
was some days before I was able to ride out to pay my respects to
the countess."

"And now, tell me about your escape from Spielberg."

This Fergus did.

"It was well managed, indeed," laughed the count. "You seem to be
as ready with your wits as with your sword, and to have provided
against every emergency. It was fortunate that you had hidden away
those gold pieces, with your letters; for otherwise you could
hardly have got those clothes from the postmaster. It was a bold
stroke, indeed, to use her majesty's uniform and the imperial post
to further your escape.

"Now we must think in what way I can best aid you. You will require
a stout horse, a disguise, and a well-filled purse. Eulenfurst
authorizes me to act as his banker, to advance any moneys that you
may require. Therefore you need offer me no thanks.

"What disguise do you, yourself, fancy?"

"I should think that the dress of a trader, travelling on business,
would be as good as any I could choose."

"Yes, I should think it would."

"I should give myself out as a Saxon merchant," Fergus went on. "In
the first place my German, which I learned from a Hanoverian, is
near enough to the Saxon to pass muster; and my hair and complexion
are common enough, in Saxony."

"I will get an official paper from the city authorities, stating
that you are one--shall we say Paul Muller, native of Saxony, and
draper by trade?--now returning to Dresden. I shall have no
difficulty in getting it through one of my own furnishers. I do not
say that you could not make your way through without it; but should
you be stopped and questioned, it would facilitate matters. I will
see about it this afternoon. I have simply to say, to one of the
tradesmen I employ, that I am sending an agent through Bohemia to
Eulenfurst, and think that in the present disturbed state he had
better travel as a trader; and ask him to fill up the official
papers, and take them to the burgomaster's office to get them
signed and stamped. He will do it as a matter of course, seeing
that I am a sufficiently good customer of his.

"A horse I can, of course, supply you with. It must not be too
showy, but it should be a strong and serviceable animal, with a
fair turn of speed. The clothes you had perhaps better buy for
yourself, together with such things as you can carry in your
valises.

"I would gladly ask you to stay with me here, for a while; but
having arrived in that dress, it might excite remark among the
servants were you to appear in a different character. I regret that
my wife and family are away, at one of my country seats, and will
not be back for a week; and I suppose you will not care to linger
so long here."

"I thank you, count, but I should prefer to leave as soon as
possible. I do not think that there is really any fear of my being
recognized. If they search at all along the Vienna road, it is not
likely that they will do so as far as this; and certainly they
could obtain no news of me, for the first forty miles, and would
not be likely to push their inquiries as far, for a dismounted
field officer could not but have attracted attention, at the first
village through which he passed."

"It would be best for you not to change your clothes at the place
where you are stopping. I can have everything ready for you by
tomorrow morning, if you wish to leave at once."

"I should certainly prefer doing so."

"Very well, then. Do you go out by the west gate, at nine o'clock,
and walk for some four miles. When you find some quiet spot, change
your clothes, and walk on until within sight of the village of
Gulnach, and there wait. I will send a confidential servant with
the horse. He, on seeing you standing there, will ask who you are
waiting for. You will give my name, and then he will hand over the
horse and papers to you."

He got up and went to his table and opened a drawer.

"Here are a hundred rix dollars, Mr. Drummond, which I hand you as
Count Eulenfurst's banker. It is a matter of pure business."

"I could do with much less than that, sir," Fergus said.

"No, 'tis better to be well supplied. Besides, there are your
clothes to buy; and be sure and provide yourself with a good
fur-lined travelling cloak. You will need it, I can assure you.

"Your best course will be to travel through Saint Poelten and Ips,
cross the river at once, and go over the mountains by the road
through Freystadt to Budweis. It is by far the most level road from
here, though a good deal longer than the one through Horn. But
there is snow in the air, and I think that we shall have a heavy
downfall, and you may well find the defiles by the Horn road
blocked by snow; whereas by Freystadt you are not likely to find
any difficulty, and most of the road is perfectly flat."



Chapter 7: Flight.


After leaving Count Platurn, with the most sincere thanks for his
kindness, Fergus went to a clothier's, where he bought clothes
suitable for a trader, with warm undergarments, and an ample cloak
lined with warm, though cheap, fur, and carried these to his inn.
The rest of the day was spent in strolling about, and in examining
the public buildings and art galleries.

The next morning he paid his reckoning and, taking his small trunk
in one hand and his fur cloak in the other, started; wearing the
coat he had first purchased as he thought that, crossing the
defiles into Saxony, he might very well need that as well as his
cloak. As the western gate was the one nearest to his inn, it was
not long before he issued out and, walking briskly, came in
three-quarters of an hour to a wood.

As there was no one in sight along the road, he turned in here and
changed his clothes. Then, leaving those he had taken off behind
him, he continued on his way, and in less than half an hour
approached a village, which he learned from a man he met was
Gulnach. He waited by the roadside for a quarter of an hour, and
then saw a man galloping towards him, leading a riderless horse. He
drew rein as he came up.

"What are you waiting here for?" he asked.

"Platurn," Fergus replied.

"That is right, sir. This is your horse. Here is the letter the
count bade me give you, and also this sword," and he unbuckled the
one that he wore.

"He bade me wish you God speed."

"Pray tell him that I am sincerely obliged to him for his
kindness," Fergus replied, as he buckled on the sword.

The man at once rode off.

The saddle was furnished with valises. These contained several
articles he had not thought of buying, among them a warm fur cap
with flaps for the ears, and a pair of fur-lined riding gloves. He
transferred the remaining articles from the little trunk to the
valises, and threw the former away; rolled up his cloak and
strapped it behind the saddle; and then mounted. He was glad to
find in the holsters a brace of double-barrelled pistols, a powder
flask and a bag of bullets, and also a large flask full of spirits.

As he gathered the reins in his hand, he had difficulty in
restraining a shout of joy; for with an excellent horse, good arms,
warm clothes and a purse sufficiently well lined, he felt he was
prepared for all contingencies.

As he moved on at a walk, he opened the count's letter. It
contained only a few lines, wishing him a safe journey, and begging
him to tell Count Eulenfurst that he regretted he could not do more
for his messenger, to prove his goodwill and affection; and also
the official document that he had promised to procure for him.
Tearing up the count's letter, and putting the official document
carefully in his pocket, he pressed his heel against his horse's
flank, and started at a canter.

He stopped for the night at Ips, and on the following day rode to
Linz. The snow had fallen almost incessantly, and he was glad,
indeed, that he had brought the coat as well as the cloak with him.

The next night he halted at Freystadt. As this was a strongly
fortified place, commanding the southern exit of the defile from
the mountain, he was asked for his papers. The official merely
glanced at them, and returned them. He was forced to stay here for
several days, as he was assured that it would be all but certain
death to endeavour to cross the pass, in such weather.

On the third day the snow ceased falling and, early next morning, a
force of 500 men, comprising almost the whole of the garrison,
started to beat down the snow, and cut a way through the deep
drifts. For four days this work continued, the men being assisted
by a regiment that was marched down from Budweis, and opened the
defile from the northern end. The pass was an important one, as in
winter it was the one chiefly used for communication between
Bohemia and Vienna; and it was therefore highly important that it
should be maintained in a practicable state.

Fergus was in no hurry to proceed. He knew that there was not the
smallest possibility of operations being commenced until the snow
disappeared, which might not be until the end of March. He
therefore took matters very quietly, keeping entirely indoors as
long as the snow continued to fall, and going out as little as
possible, afterwards.

He was glad, indeed, when the news came that the pass was clear. As
soon as the gates were unlocked he pressed on, in order to get
ahead of a large convoy of carts, laden with warm clothing for the
soldiers, that was also waiting for the pass to be opened. In spite
of all that had been done, it was rough work passing through the
defile, and he did not arrive at Krumnau until nearly sunset.
Budweis lay but a few miles farther ahead, but he had made up his
mind not to stop there, as it was a large garrisoned town, and the
small places suited him better.

Passing through the town, next day, he continued his course along
the road near the river Moldau. He made but short journeys, for the
snow had not yet hardened, and it was very heavy riding. He
therefore took four days in getting to Prague.

He thought it probable that here a watch might be kept for him for,
had he travelled straight from Spielberg, this was the point for
which, in all probability, he would have made; unless he had gone
through Silesia, and then travelled up through Breslau. He
therefore made a circuit of the picturesque old city, entered it by
a western gate, and then rode straight for the bridge. He had slept
at a place but four miles distant, and had started at daybreak, so
that it was still early in the day when he proceeded on his way.

He stopped at a small town, ten miles farther north. Two or three
squadrons of cavalry were quartered there. The landlord at the inn
where he put up at once asked for his papers. These he took to the
town offices, where they were stamped as being in due order. Half
an hour later, as Fergus was at his meal, two officers entered.

"Your papers appear to be right, sir," one of them said
courteously; "but in times like these, it is our duty to examine
closely into these matters. You come from Vienna?"

"Yes, sir."

"Which way did you travel?"

"By way of Linz and Budweis," he said. "The snow began on the day
before I left the capital, and I was advised to take that route, as
the road would be more level, and less likely to be blocked with
snow than that through Horn. You will see that my paper was stamped
at Linz, and also at Freystadt.

"I was detained at the latter place seven days. For the first three
it snowed, and for the next four days the garrison was occupied,
with the aid of troops from Budweis, in opening the defile."

The officer nodded.

"I happen to know that your story is correct, sir, and that it
accounts fully for your movements since leaving Vienna. Which way
do you intend to cross the passes into Saxony?"

"I must be guided by what I hear of their state. I had hoped to
have got back before the snow began to fall in earnest, but I
should think that the road by the river will now be the best."

"I should think so," the officer said, "but even that will be bad
enough. However, I will not detain you farther."

They moved away to another table and, calling for a bottle of wine,
sat down.

"No, we are mistaken. I don't think the fellow would have the
bare-faced impudence to come through Prague," one said.

The other laughed.

"I should think that he would have impudence for anything, major.
And in truth, I rather hope that they won't lay hands upon him--a
fellow who devised and carried out such a scheme as he did deserves
his liberty. Of course, his overpowering the warder was nothing;
but that he should have had the impudence to go down into the
major's quarters, appropriate his clothes, leave his own uniform
behind him; and then, taking advantage of the arrival of another
regiment, march calmly out through them all, pass the sentries--who
took him for one of the newly-arrived officers in charge of the
waggons--was really splendid!

"How it was that they did not overtake him the next morning, I
cannot make out. He had no sword with him, and no horse; and the
spectacle of a field officer on foot, without even a sword, should
have attracted the attention of the very first person who met him.
He had not been gone two hours when troops started in pursuit; for
when the major, whose door he had locked, had it burst open and
found that his uniform was gone, he suspected something was wrong,
and had all the sergeants in charge of prisoners mustered.

"One was missing, the man who had charge of this young Scotchman.
As he could not be found, the fellow's cell was broken open, and
there was the warder, bound and gagged. The bird had flown, and
parties of horse were sent off by all the roads leading to Bohemia
and Silesia, but no signs of the man have, as far as we have heard,
yet been discovered.

"The only thing that I can imagine is that, when he heard the
cavalry in pursuit, he left the road and hid up somewhere; and that
afterwards he tried to make his way by unfrequented paths, and was
starved in the snow. In that case his body is not likely to be
found until the spring."

"I cannot help thinking that a fellow who could plan and carry out
that escape would hardly be likely to lose his life in a snowdrift.
You see, it was not a sudden idea. On no other evening would he
have found the gate open after sunset, nor would he have been
certain to have found the major absent from his quarters. He must
have been waiting patiently for his opportunity and, as soon as he
heard that another battalion was coming into the garrison, he must
have resolved to act. More than that, he must have calculated that
instead of arriving at four o'clock, as they were timed to do, they
would be detained and not get in until after dark.

"They are clear-headed fellows, these Scotchmen; whether they are
in our army or Frederick's. What makes the affair more wonderful is
that this was quite a young fellow, and probably understood no
German; but I think that he would have acted more wisely, had he
waited until the spring."

"I don't know," the other said. "When once the troops are all in
movement north, he certainly could not have escaped in a military
uniform without being questioned; and it scarcely seems possible
that he could have procured any other. He must be in more of a
hurry to fight again than I am."

"There can hardly be much serious fighting," the other said. "With
us, Russia, and France, and with the 50,000 Swedes who have been
bought by France, we shall have 500,000 men under arms; while we
know that 200,000 is the utmost Frederick can muster, and these
will have to be scattered in every direction round his frontier."

"I am sorry that France has joined in," the other said. "It is
unnatural enough that we and Russia should combine to crush
Prussia, but when it comes to our old enemies the French helping us
against a German power, I say frankly I don't like it. Besides,
though we may get Silesia back again, that will be a small
advantage in comparison to the disadvantage of France getting a
firm foothold on this side of the Rhine. Even if her share of the
partition doesn't extend beyond the river, this will be her
frontier nearly down to the sea; and she will have the power of
pouring her troops into Germany, whenever she chooses."

Fergus had now finished his meal, and without caring to listen
longer he betook himself to bed. To avoid all appearance of haste,
he did not start so early the next morning, but mounted at ten and
rode to the junction of the Eger with the Elbe. It was too late to
cross the river that night, and he therefore put up at a village on
the bank, and crossed in a ferry boat on the following morning to
Leitmeritz, a town of considerable size.

He was now within a day's ride of the defile through which the Elbe
finds its way from Bohemia into Saxony. His papers were inspected,
as usual, by the officer in command of a troop of cavalry there.

"You will have a rough time of it, if you push on," he said. "There
is no traffic through the passes now, so the snow will lie as it
fell, and at any moment it may come down again. As far as the mouth
of the pass you will find it easy enough, for we send half a troop
as far as that every day; but beyond that I should say it would be
all but, if not quite, impassable. I advise you to stay here
quietly, until you hear of someone having crossed; or at any rate,
if you do go on, you must take three or four peasants as guides,
and to help you through difficult places."

"Would it not be possible, captain," Fergus asked, "to hire a
boat?"

"I did not think of that. Yes, there are flat boats that at
ordinary times go down to Dresden, with the rafts of timber; but
whether you would find anyone willing, now, to make such a journey
is more than I can say."

"I am very anxious to be back to my business," Fergus said; "and as
I should have to pay handsomely for guides to take me over, and
even then might lose my life, it would be better for me to pay
higher and get through at once."

On going down to the water side he saw several boats hauled up, and
it was not long before some boatmen, seeing a stranger examining
their craft, came down to him.

"I want to go down to Dresden," he said.

"'Tis a bad time of the year," one of the men replied.

"It is a bad time of the year, as far as cold is concerned; but it
is a good time of the year for going down the river," he said; "for
now that the frost has set in the river is low and the current
gentle, whereas in the spring, when the snow is melting, it must be
a raging torrent in some of the narrow defiles."

This evidence that the stranger, whoever he was, was no fool,
silenced the boatmen for a minute.

"Now," Fergus went on, "what is the lowest price that one of you
will take me and my horse down to Dresden for? I am disposed to pay
a fair price and not more, and if you attempt to charge an
exorbitant one, I shall take guides and follow the road."

"You would never get through," one of the men said.

"Well, at any rate I would try; and if I could not succeed by the
road by the river, I would cross by some other pass. I have no
doubt, whatever, I could get through by Graber and Zittau."

The stranger's acquaintance with the country again silenced the
men. They talked for a while apart, and then one said:

"We will take you for twenty rix dollars."

"Do you suppose that I am the emperor, in disguise?" Fergus said
indignantly. "'Tis but three days' journey, at most, and perhaps
six for coming back against the stream."

"We shall need four men, master, and there is the food by the way."

After much bargaining the price was settled at fifteen rix dollars,
both parties being satisfied with the bargain; the men because it
was more than twice the sum for which they would have been glad to
do it, at ordinary times; Fergus because he had still forty rix
dollars in his pocket, and had only bargained as he did in order
not to appear too anxious on the subject. The price was to include
the erection, at one end of the boat, of a snug cover of rushes for
his use.

He found, on going down to the shore three hours later, that the
boatmen were engaged in covering in the whole of the craft, with
the exception of a few feet at each end, with a roof of rushes. The
boat itself was some thirty-five feet in length and ten wide, with
straight sides and a general resemblance to a canal barge, save
that the beam was greater in comparison to the length. The roof was
high, and sloped sharply. A tall man could walk along in the
centre, while at the sides there was but three feet of height.

Hay and straw were extremely scarce, the whole supply of the
country having been stripped by the foraging parties; but bundles
of reeds had been thickly littered down, especially near the stern.

Shortly after his return, the landlord of the inn told him that, if
he did not want to take the horse with him, he would himself gladly
buy it.

"I have frequently to send to Prague for things for the inn; and
besides, I have to get provisions for people in the town. I sold my
best horse last autumn, to an officer whose charger had been
killed. Now that sledging has begun, I want one which can travel
fast and do the journey there in a day; so if you don't want to
take it, and will accept a reasonable price, I will buy it."

The offer was a welcome one. With two splendid horses at his
command--for he knew that good care would have been taken of the
one left in camp--a third would only have been in the way; and
this, although a good and useful beast, was scarce good-looking
enough for an officer on the marshal's staff. Therefore, after the
usual amount of bargaining, he parted with it for a fair price.

The next morning early he went on board, the servant of the inn
following with a great hamper of wine and provisions. He was glad
to see that a bright fire burned on an earthen hearth in the middle
of the boat; the smoke finding its way out, partly through a hole
cut in the thatch above it, partly by the opening at the fore end
of the boat. He brought with him his horse cloth as well as his
other belongings. The men, who were clearly in a hurry to be away,
pushed the boat off from the shore as soon as he had taken his
place.

"We want to be back as soon as we can," the owner of the boat said,
"for it will not be long before the ice begins to form, and we
don't want to be frozen in."

"It does not feel to me quite so cold this morning," Fergus
remarked.

"No, sir; we are going to have more snow. That won't matter to us,
and if it snows for the next week, all the better. It is not often
that the river closes altogether until after Christmas. In the
mountains the river seldom freezes at all. There is too much
current, and besides, in shelter of the hills the cold is not so
great."

Two oars were got out, for the purpose of steering rather than of
hastening the progress of the boat; and once well out in the
current, she was allowed to drift quietly with the stream. Fergus
spread his horse cloth on the rushes by the fire, and found no need
for his sheepskin coat; the cloak, loosely thrown over his
shoulders and the collar turned up, to keep off the draughts that
blew in under the bottom of the thatch, being sufficient to make
him thoroughly comfortable.

There was nothing to see outside, the shore being low and flat. He
had brought a large supply of meat with him, and handed over a
portion of this to the man who acted as the cook of the crew, and
told him to make broth for them all. This was a welcome gift to the
crew, who but seldom touched meat; and with the addition of barley,
coarse flour, and herbs that they had brought for their own use, an
excellent stew was provided. The pot was kept going through the
journey, fresh meat and other ingredients being added, from time to
time. In addition to this, slices of meat were grilled over the
fire, and eaten with the bread they had brought. The gift of a
bottle of wine between the crew, each day; and of a small ration of
spirits, the last thing in the evening, added greatly to the
satisfaction of the men.

By nightfall they arrived at the entrance of the defile. The snow
was falling heavily, and they tied up against the bank. Fergus
chatted with the men, and listened to their stories of the river,
for some hours.

All of them had, at various times, gone on timber rafts. They
bewailed the war, which would do them much harm. It would not
altogether interrupt trade, for timber would be required, as usual,
in Saxony and Hanover. As a rule, neither of the contending armies
interfered with the river traffic; though communications by land
were greatly interrupted, owing to the peasants' carts being
impressed for military service. This, and the anxiety of everyone
for the safety of his home and belongings, brought the trade
between the countries to a standstill.

On the river, however, the difficulty consisted, not in any
interference by the authorities, but from so large a number of the
able-bodied men being called out for service that the amount of
timber cut and brought down was greatly diminished, while the needs
of the army brought the trade in cattle and other produce to an
entire cessation.

The dangers of the river were not great; although in spring, when
the snow melted and the river was swollen, navigation was rendered,
especially in the narrow reaches of the defile, difficult and
dangerous; for the force of the stream was so great that it was
well-nigh impossible to direct the course of the rafts, and indeed
the poles used for that purpose were often found too short to reach
the bottom.

The men were up long before daylight; but it was two hours later
before Fergus roused himself and, shaking off the fine snow that
had drifted in and lay thickly on his coat, went out to have a look
at things. One of the men was already preparing breakfast. Two of
the others stood at the bow with long poles, with which they punted
the boat along. The captain, also provided with a pole, stood in
the stern.

The snow had ceased, but the air felt sharp and cold as it came
down from the hills, which were all thickly covered.

"So there is an end of the snow, for the present, captain," he
said, as he pushed aside the curtain of reeds that closed the stern
of the covered portion, and joined him.

"Yes. I am not altogether sorry, for we can see where we are going.
We shall keep on, now, until we are through the defile."

"But there is no moon, captain."

"No, but we can tell pretty well, by the depth of water, where we
are; and can manage to keep in the middle of the current. There are
no obstructions there to affect us, though in some places there are
plenty of ugly rocks near the shore. However, if we have luck we
shall be through before midnight, and shall pass all the worst
points before sunset."

The day passed, indeed, without adventure of any kind. The journey
was highly interesting to Fergus, for the scenery was very
picturesque. Sometimes the hills narrowed in, and the stream,
straitened in its course, hastened its speed; at others the hills
receded, and were covered far up with forests; above which bleak
mountain tops, with their mantle of snow, rose high in the air. The
captain pointed out the spot where the Saxons had crossed; and
where, pent in and surrounded with batteries commanding every means
of exit, they were forced to surrender.

"It is smooth work now," he said, as they were going through one of
the narrows, "for the river is low and the current gentle; but in
floods there are waves, here, that would swamp the boat did she
keep out in the middle, as we are doing; and it would be impossible
to pole her against it, even close to the shore. You see, the ice
is forming already near the banks."

"How do you manage coming back?"

"In some places we can pole the boat. She will be light, and will
only draw a few inches of water. Then we hire a horse for a bit, at
one of these little villages; or, where the road leaves the river,
the other three will get out and tow from the edge, while I shall
steer. We shall manage it easily enough, if the ice does not form
too thickly.

"If the worst comes to the worst, we should stop at one of the
villages, get the people to help us to haul her well up, wait till
the snows are quite over, and then make our way back on foot, and
come and fetch the boat up when the spring floods are over."

"Then the pass is not so dangerous after all, captain," Fergus said
with a smile.

"Not when the snow has once hardened, and to men accustomed to it.
As soon as the weather gets settled there will be a little traffic,
and the snow will be beaten down. Besides, where the hills come
steep to the water's edge, a man on foot can always make his way
along when the water is low; though a horseman might not be able to
do so."

"In fact, I suppose," Fergus said, "you all combine, at Leitmeritz,
to represent the passes as being a great deal more dangerous than
they are; in order to force those obliged to make the journey to
take as many men as possible with him, or to pay two or three times
the proper fare, by boat."

"The passes over the hills would be terrible, now," the man said.
"Most of them would be absolutely impassable, until the snow
hardens.

"As for the rest," he added with a smile, "it may be that there is
something in what you say; but you see, times are hard. There is
little work to be done, and scarce any timber coming down; and if
we did not get a good job, occasionally, it would go very hard with
us."

By nightfall they were nearly through the defile. Lanterns were
placed in the bow of the boat and, until long after Fergus was
asleep, the men continued to work at their poles. When he woke up
in the morning the boat was floating down a quiet river, with the
plains of Saxony on either side, and the mountain range far astern.

At noon they neared Dresden, and an hour later Fergus stepped
ashore. He paid the men the sum arranged, and handed over to them
the rest of his provisions, which would be sufficient to carry them
far on their way back.

He soon learnt that Marshal Keith was established in his old
quarters, and made his way thither. He met two or three officers of
his acquaintance, but no one recognized him in his present attire.
He had hired a boy, when he landed, to carry his cloak and valises.
The saddle and bridle he had sold with the horse.

He was, as usual, passing the sentries at the gate without notice,
when one of them stepped in front of him.

"What is your business, sir?"

"My business is with Marshal Keith," he said, "and it is
particular."

The sentry called a sergeant of the guard.

"You can pass me up," Fergus said sharply. "I am well known to
Marshal Keith, and he will assuredly see me."

A soldier took him up to the anteroom. Lieutenant Lindsay, who was
on duty, came forward, looked at him doubtfully for a moment, and
then shouted joyfully:

"Why, Drummond, is it you? This is indeed a joyful meeting, old
fellow. I had thought of you as immured in one of the enemy's
fortresses, and as likely to remain there till the war was over,
and now here you are! The marshal will be delighted."

"He cannot be more pleased than I am to be back again, Lindsay. Is
he alone?"

"Yes. Come in at once. I won't announce you."

He opened the door.

"A gentleman to see you, marshal," he said, and Fergus walked in.

The marshal recognized him at once and, holding out both hands,
shook those of Fergus cordially.

"I am indeed glad to see you," he said. "We knew that you were
unhurt, for on the morning after the battle we sent in a
parlementaire to Browne with the list of prisoners taken, and
received his list in return; and as your name was among them, and
you were not put down as wounded, my anxiety about you was
relieved. We tried a month later to get exchanges, but they would
not hear of it. In the first place, there is no doubt that the
king's action, in incorporating the Saxons with our army, has
caused a strong feeling against him; and in the second, they had
plenty of fortresses in which to stow their prisoners, while they
would calculate that the more prisoners we had to look after, the
fewer men they would have to fight.

"And now, tell me by what miracle you have got here. I have nothing
particular to do.

"Lindsay, you may as well stop and hear the story. Tell the
sergeant to call you out if any one in particular comes; to
everyone else, I am engaged.

"Or stay," he broke off, "they have just told me that luncheon is
ready in the next room. A story is always better told over a bottle
of wine, so tell the sergeant, Lindsay, that for the next hour I
can see no one, unless it is on very particular business.

"Now, in the first place, Captain Drummond.

"Oh, of course, you have not heard!" he broke off, in answer to
Fergus's look of surprise. "The king and I watched you charge
through that Austrian squadron, and when he saw you reach our
cavalry in safety, and they turned to come back, he ordered me at
once to make out your commission as captain. I ventured to object
that you were very young. He said you had saved half his cavalry,
and that he would promote you, if you were an infant in arms."

"It is really absurd, marshal. I shall feel downright ashamed to be
called captain by men still lieutenants, though a dozen years older
than I am. I fear I have gone over Lindsay's head."

"You need not mind me, Drummond," Lindsay laughed. "I shall have a
chance, one of these days; but not a soul will grudge you your
promotion. There were many of us who saw your charge; and I can
tell you that it was the talk of the whole army, next day, and it
was thoroughly recognized that it saved the cavalry; for their
commander would certainly have taken them against the Austrians
and, if he had, it is equally certain that none of them would have
got back again; and when your name appeared in orders the next day,
we all felt that no one ever better deserved promotion."

"The king inquired especially, as soon as the list came, whether
you were wounded, Fergus," Keith said; "and was very much pleased
when he heard that you were not.

"Now, let us hear how you come to be here."

The marshal laughed heartily, when Fergus told of his escape in the
disguise of an Austrian field officer.

"It was most admirably managed, Fergus," he said, when the tale was
finished; "and your making for Vienna, instead of for the frontier,
was a masterly stroke. Of course your finding a friend there was
most fortunate; but even had you not done so, I have no doubt you
would have got through, somehow. I think the best idea of all was
your taking the post horses, and then getting a fresh suit of
clothes from the postmaster.

"I am glad you ordered the major's suit of clothes to be sent back
to him. I should have liked to have seen his face when he found
that not only his uniform, but his prisoner, had disappeared.

"It will be a good story to tell the king. He has sore troubles
enough on his shoulders, for the difficulties are thickening round;
and although Frederick is a born general, he really loves peace,
and quiet, and books, and the society of a few friends, far better
than the turmoil into which we are plunged.

"The French are going to open the campaign, in the spring, with an
army of a hundred thousand men. Russia will invade the east
frontier with certainly as many more, perhaps a hundred and fifty
thousand. They say these rascally Swedes, who have not a shadow of
quarrel against us, intend to land fifty thousand men in Pomerania;
and that Austria will put two hundred and fifty thousand in the
field. Even tempered and self relying as the king is, all this is
enough to drive him to despair; and anything that will interest him
for an hour, and make him forget his difficulties, is very
welcome."

The marshal asked many questions for, as he said, the king would
like to know all the ins and outs of the matter; and he knew that
Fergus would much rather that the story should be told the king by
another, than that he should be called upon to do so.

"I hope the horse came back safely, Lindsay?" Fergus asked, as they
left the marshal's apartments.

"Oh, yes! He went back with the convoy of wounded, and he is now
safe in Keith's stable. The other is, of course, at the count's. I
sent your things back at the same time, and when we returned here I
packed everything up and sewed them in a sack. They are all in the
storeroom."

"What has become of Karl? Did he get safely back?"

"Yes; but he had a nasty sabre wound he got in the charge, and he
was in hospital for six weeks. The king gave him a handsome
present, on the day after he came in; and would have given him a
commission, if he would have taken it, but he declined altogether,
saying that he was very comfortable as he was. His colonel would
have made him a sergeant at once, but he refused that also.

"Just at present he is still looking after your horse, and helping
generally in Keith's stable. His wound was on the head, and he is
scarcely fit for duty with his regiment, so of course he will now
fall in to his place with you again."

Fergus went down to the stable, where he was received with the
greatest delight by Karl; whose pride in his master was great,
after his exploit at Count Eulenfurst's, and had been heightened by
the feeling excited in the army at his having saved the cavalry
from destruction.

"I thought that you would be back by the spring, Captain," he said.
"Donald and I have talked it over, many a time, and we were of one
mind that, if any one could get away from an Austrian prison, you
would do it."



Chapter 8: Prague.


The next morning Fergus rode over to see Count Eulenfurst, found
him quite restored to health, and was received by him, the
countess, and Thirza with great pleasure.


[Illustration: Fergus was received by the count, the countess
and Thirza with great pleasure]


"My return in safety is in no small degree due to you, count. Had
it not been for the letter to Count Platurn, with which the
countess furnished me, I doubt whether I should have been able to
get through; or at any rate, if I had done so it could only have
been with many hardships and dangers, and certainly great delay."

"I have no doubt that the help you received from the count was of
considerable assistance to you, and lessened your difficulties
much, Captain Drummond; but I am sure you would have managed,
without it. Had you formed any plans as to what you would have
done, had you found him absent?"

"I had thought of several things, count, but I had settled on
nothing. I should have remained but a day in Vienna, and should
have exchanged the suit I had got from the innkeeper for some
other. My idea was that I had best join one of the convoys of
provisions going up to Bohemia. I calculated that I should have no
difficulty in obtaining a place as a driver, for of course the
service is not popular, and any of the men would have been glad
enough for me to take his place. I might thus have got forward as
far as Prague. After that I must have taken my chance, and I think
I could, in the same sort of way, have got as far as Leitmeritz;
but there I might have been detained for a very long time, until
there was an opportunity of crossing the defiles. It would have
been difficult, indeed, for me to have earned my living there; and
what was left of the money I had, after paying for the landlord's
suit, would scarce have lasted, with the closest pinching, till
spring."

"You would have managed it somehow, I am sure," Thirza said
confidently. "After getting out of that strong fortress, it would
be nothing to get out of Bohemia into Saxony."

"We have not congratulated you yet," the countess said, "upon your
last promotion. Lieutenant Lindsay came over to tell us about it,
and how you had gained it. Of course we were greatly pleased,
although grieved to hear that you had been made prisoner. We
wondered whether, at the time you were captured, you had any of the
letters I had written with you, and whether they would come in
useful.

"It did not even occur to me that you would have called upon Count
Platurn, my cousin. I thought that you might be detained at Prague,
but Vienna is the last place where we should have pictured you. Had
we known that you had been sent to Spielberg, I think we should
have given up all hope of seeing you again, until you were
exchanged; for I have heard that it is one of the strongest of the
Austrian fortresses.

"I do hope, Captain Drummond, we shall see a great deal of you this
winter. There will not be many gaieties, though no doubt there will
be some state balls; but there will be many little gatherings, as
usual, among ourselves, and we shall count upon you to attend them
always, unless you are detained on service. We learn that it is
probable your king will pass the whole of the winter here."

"We will send your horse down to you today," the count said. "You
will find him in good condition. He has been regularly exercised."

"Thank you very much, count. I wrote to you before I started, but I
have had no opportunity of thanking you, personally, for those
splendid animals. Sorry as I was to lose the horse I rode at
Lobositz, I congratulated myself that I was not riding one of
yours."

"I should have had no difficulty in replacing him, Captain
Drummond," the count said with a smile. "The least we can do is to
keep you in horse flesh while the war lasts; which I hope will not
be very long, for surely your king can never hope to make head
against the forces that will assail him in the spring, but will be
glad to make peace on any terms."

"No doubt he would be glad to, count; but as his enemies propose to
divide his dominions among them, it is not very clear what terms he
could make. But though I grant that, on paper, the odds against him
is enormous, I think that you will see there will be some hard
fighting yet, before Prussia is partitioned."

"Perhaps so," the count replied; "but surely the end must be the
same. You know I have been a strong opponent of the course taken by
the court here. Saxony and Prussia, as Protestant countries, should
be natural allies; and I consider it is infamous that the court, or
rather Bruhl, who is all powerful, should have joined in a
coalition against Frederick, who had given us no cause of
complaint, whatever. My sympathies, then, are wholly with him; but
I can see no hope, whatever, of his successfully resisting this
tremendous combination."

"Various things might happen, count. The Empresses of Russia or
Austria or the Pompadour might die, or the allies might quarrel
between themselves. England may find some capable statesman, who
will once again get an army together and, joined perhaps by the
Netherlands, give France so much to do that she will not be able to
give much help to her allies."

"Yes, all these things might happen; but Frederick's first campaign
has been, to a great extent, a failure. It is true that he has
established Saxony as his base, but the Saxon troops will be of no
advantage to him. He would have acted much more wisely had he, on
their surrender, allowed them to disband and go to their homes..
Many then might have enlisted voluntarily. The country would not
have had a legitimate grievance, and the common religious tie would
soon have turned the scale in favour of Prussia; who, as all see,
has been driven to this invasion by our court's intrigues with
Austria. Had he done this he could have marched straight to Prague,
have overrun all Bohemia, established his headquarters there, and
menaced Vienna itself in the spring."

"Looking at it coolly, that might have been the best way, count;
but a man who finds that three or four of his neighbours have
entered into a plot to attack his house, and seize all his goods,
may be pardoned if he does not at first go the very wisest way to
work."

The count laughed.

"I hope that the next campaign will turn out differently; but I own
that I can scarce see a possibility of Prussia, alone, making head
against the dangers that surround her."

The winter passed quietly. There were fetes, state balls, and many
private entertainments; for while all Europe was indignant, or
pretended to be so, at the occupation of Saxony, the people of that
country were by no means so angry on their own account. They were
no more heavily taxed by Frederick than they were by their own
court and, now that the published treaty between the Confederates
had made it evident that the country, without its own consent, had
been deeply engaged in a conspiracy hostile to Prussia, none could
deny that Frederick was amply justified in the step he had taken.

At these parties, only Prussian officers who were personal friends
of the host were invited; but Fergus, who had been introduced by
Count Eulenfurst to all his acquaintances, was always asked, and
was requested to bring with him a few of his personal friends.
Lindsay, therefore, was generally his companion, and was, indeed,
in a short time invited for his own sake; for the Scottish officers
were regarded in a different light to the Prussians, and their
pleasant manners and frank gaiety made them general favourites.

Their duties as aides-de-camp were now light, indeed; although both
were, two or three times, sent with despatches to Berlin; and even
to more distant parts of Prussia, where preparations for the coming
campaign were being made on a great scale.

The whole Prussian population were united. It was a war not for
conquest but for existence, and all classes responded cheerfully to
the royal demands. These were confined to orders for drafts of men,
for no new tax of any kind was laid on the people; the expenses of
the war being met entirely from the treasure that had, since the
termination of the Silesian war, been steadily accumulating, a
fixed sum being laid by every year to meet any emergency that might
arise.

Towards spring both parties were ready to take the field. The
allies had 430,000 men ready for service. Frederick had 150,000
well-trained soldiers, while 40,000 newly-raised troops were posted
in fortresses, at points most open to invasion. The odds were
indeed sufficient to appall even the steadfast heart of Frederick
of Prussia; but no one would have judged, from the calm and
tranquil manner in which the king made his arrangements to meet the
storm, that he had any doubt as to the issue.

Man for man, the Prussian soldier of the time was the finest in the
world. He was splendidly drilled, absolutely obedient to orders,
and filled with implicit confidence in his king and his comrades.
He had been taught to march with extraordinary rapidity, and at the
same time to manoeuvre with the regularity and perfection of a
machine; and could be trusted, in all emergencies, to do everything
that man was capable of.

The French army, 110,000 strong, was the first to move. Another
30,000 men were preparing to march, to join the army that had been
got up by that mixed body, the German Federation. The main force
was to move through Hanover.

To oppose them was a mixed army, maintained by British money,
comprising Hanoverians, Brunswickers, and Hessians, some 50,000
strong, commanded by the Duke of Cumberland. With these were some
5000 Prussians; who had, by Frederick's orders, evacuated the
frontier fortresses and joined what was called the British army of
observation. Frederick prepared, for the present, to deal with the
Austrians; intending, if successful against them, to send off
25,000 men to strengthen Cumberland's army. The proposed Swedish
invasion was altogether disregarded; but thirty thousand men,
principally militia, were posted to check the Russian invasion.

So quiet had been the preparations, that none of their enemies
dreamt that the Prussians would assume the offensive, but
considered that they would confine their efforts to defending the
defiles into Saxony and Silesia. But this was not Frederick's idea.
As spring approached, he had been busy redistributing his troops
from their winter cantonment, and preparing three armies for the
invasion of Bohemia. April had been a busy month for the staff, and
the aides-de-camp had passed their days, and even their nights, on
horseback.

At last all was in readiness for the delivery of the stroke, and on
the 20th the king started from Lockwitch, facing the old Saxon camp
at Pirna; the Duke of Bevern from Lousitz; and Marshal Schwerin
from Schlesien; and without the slightest warning, the three great
columns poured down into Bohemia.

The movement took the Austrians absolutely by surprise. Not
dreaming of such a step on Frederick's part, they had prepared,
near the frontier, vast magazines for the supply of their advancing
army. These had to be abandoned in the greatest haste, and a
sufficient amount of food to supply the entire army, for three
months, fell into the hands of the Prussians. Marshal Browne and
General Konigseck, who commanded the Austrian armies in Bohemia,
fell back to Prague with the greatest speed that they could make.

The light irregular corps, that Frederick had raised during the
winter and placed under experienced and energetic officers,
pervaded the whole country, capturing magazines and towns, putting
some to ransom, dispersing small bodies of the enemy, and spreading
terror far and wide. Browne succeeded in reaching Prague before the
king could come up to him. Bevern, however, overtook Konigseck, and
greatly hastened his retreat; killing a thousand men and taking
five hundred prisoners, after which Konigseck reached Prague
without further molestation, the Duke of Bevern joining Schwerin's
column.

The Austrians retired through Prague and encamped on high ground on
the south side of the city, Prince Karl being now in command of the
whole. Had this prince been possessed of military talents, or
listened to Marshal Browne's advice, instead of taking up a
defensive position he would have marched with his whole army
against the king, whose force he would very greatly have
outnumbered; but instead of doing so, he remained inactive.

On the 2nd of May, twelve days after moving from Saxony, Frederick
arrived within sight of Prague. So closely had he followed the
retreating Austrians that he occupied, that evening, a monastery at
which Prince Karl and Marshal Browne had slept the night before.
Thirty thousand men, who were under the command of Marshal Keith,
were left to watch Prague and its garrison; while Frederick, on
Tuesday, searched for a spot where he could cross the river and
effect a junction with Schwerin. He knew his position, and had
arranged that three cannon shots were to be the signal that the
river had been crossed.

A pontoon bridge was rapidly thrown over, the signal was given, and
the Prussians poured across it; and before the whole were over
Schwerin's light cavalry came up, and an arrangement was made that
the two forces should meet, at six o'clock next morning, at a spot
within two miles of the Austrian camp on the Lisca hills.


[Map: Battle of Prague]


All this time the Austrians stood inactive, and permitted the
Prussian columns to join hands without the slightest attempt to
interfere with them. Had Browne been in command, very different
steps would have been taken; but Prince Karl was indolent, self
confident, and opinionated, and had set his army to work to
strengthen its position in every possible manner. This was
naturally extremely strong, its right flank being covered by swampy
ground formed by a chain of ponds; from which the water was let off
in the winter, and the ground sown with oats. These were now a
brilliant green, and to the eyes of Frederick and his generals,
surveying them from the distance, had the aspect of ordinary
meadows. The whole ground was commanded by redoubts and batteries
on the hill, which rose precipitately seven or eight hundred feet
behind the position. In the batteries were sixty heavy cannon;
while there were, in addition, one hundred and fifty field guns.

Well might Prince Karl think his position altogether unassailable,
and believe that, if the Prussians were mad enough to attack, they
would be destroyed. Frederick and Schwerin spent much time in
surveying the position, and agreed that on two sides the Austrian
position was absolutely impregnable; but that on the right flank,
attack was possible. Schwerin would fain have waited until the next
morning, since his troops were fatigued by their long marches, and
had been on foot since midnight. The Austrians, however, were
expecting a reinforcement of thirty thousand men, under Daun, to
join them hourly; and the king therefore decided on an attack, the
terrible obstacles presented by the swamps being altogether
unnoticed.

With incredible speed the Prussians moved away to their left, and
by eleven o'clock were in readiness to attack the right flank of
the Austrian position. Browne, however, was in command here and, as
soon as the intention of the Prussians was perceived, he swung back
the right wing of the army at right angles to its original
position, so that he presented a front to the Prussian attack;
massing thickly at Sterbold, a village at the edge of the swamps.
Rapidly the whole of the artillery and cavalry were formed up on
this face and, quick as had been the advance of the Prussians, the
Austrians were perfectly ready to meet them.

Led by General Winterfeld, the Prussians rushed forward; but as
they advanced, a terrific artillery fire was opened upon them.
Winterfeld was wounded severely, and the troops fell back.

The main body now advanced, under Schwerin, and the whole again
pressed forward. In spite of the incessant rain of grape and case
shot, the Prussians advanced until they reached the pleasant green
meadows they had seen in the distance. Then the real nature of the
ground was at once disclosed.

The troops sunk to the knee, and in many cases to the waist, in the
treacherous mud. Soldiers less valiant and less disciplined would
have shrunk, appalled at the obstacle; but the Prussians struggled
on, dragging themselves forward with the greatest difficulty
through mud, through slush, through a rain of grape from upwards of
two hundred cannon, and through a storm of musketry fire from the
infantry. Regiment after regiment, as it reached the edge of the
dismal swamp, plunged in unhesitatingly, crawling and struggling
onward.

Never in the annals of warfare was there a more terrible fight. For
three hours it continued, without a moment's interval. Thousands of
the assailants had fallen, and their bodies had been trodden deep
into the swamp, as their comrades pressed after them. Sometimes a
regiment struggled back out of the mire, thinking it beyond mortal
power to win victory under such terms; but the next moment they
reformed and flung themselves into the fight again. Schwerin,
seeing the regiment named after him recoil, placed himself at their
head; and shouting, "Follow me, my sons!" led them till he fell
dead, struck by five grape shot.

The Austrians fought as stoutly, Marshal Browne leading them till a
cannonball took off his foot, and he was carried into Prague, to
die there six weeks later.

While this terrible struggle was going on, the Prussian cavalry had
made a very wide circuit round the ponds and lakelets, and charged
the Austrian horse on Browne's extreme right. The first lines were
broken by it, but so many and strong were they that the Prussians
were brought to a standstill. Then they drew back and charged a
second, and a third time.

The Austrians gave way. Prince Karl himself, brave if incapable,
did his best to rally them, but in vain; and at last they fled in
headlong rout, pursued for many miles by Ziethen's horsemen.

Still the infantry struggle was maintained. At last the Prussian
right wing, hitherto not engaged, though suffering from the
artillery fire on the heights, had their turn. General Mannstein
discovered that, at the angle where Browne threw back the right
wing of the army to face the Prussians, there was a gap. The troops
there had gradually pressed more to their right, to take part in
the tremendous conflict; and the elbow was, therefore, defended
only by a half-moon battery.

Through the fish tanks he led the way, followed by Princes Henry
and Ferdinand. The whole division struggled through the mud, drove
back the Austrians hastily brought up to oppose them, captured the
battery, and poured into the gap; thereby cutting the Austrian army
in two, and taking both halves in flank.

This was the deciding point of the battle. The Austrian right,
already holding its own with difficulty, was crumpled up and forced
to fall back hastily. The other half of the army, isolated by the
irruption, threw itself back and endeavoured to make a fresh stand
at spots defended by batteries and stockades.

But all was in vain. The Prussians pressed forward exultingly, the
fresh troops leading the way. In spite of the confusion occasioned
by the loss of their commanders, and of the surprise caused by the
sudden breakup of their line by the inrush of Mannstein and the
princes, the Austrians fought stoutly. Four times they made a
stand, but the Prussians were not to be denied. The Austrian guns
that had been captured were turned against them and, at last giving
way they fled for Prague, where some 40,000 of them rushed for
shelter, while 15,000 fled up the valley of the Moldau.

Had it not been that an accident upset Frederick's calculations,
the greater portion of the Austrians would have been obliged to lay
down their arms. Prince Maurice of Dessau had been ordered to move
with the right wing of Keith's army, 15,000 strong, to take up a
position in the Austrian rear. This position he should have reached
hours before, but in his passage down a narrow lane, some of the
pontoons for bridging the river were injured. When the bridge was
put together, it proved too short to reach the opposite bank.

The cavalry in vain endeavoured to swim the river. The stream was
too strong, and Frederick's masterly combination broke down; and
the bulk of the Austrians, instead of being forced to surrender,
were simply shut up in Prague with its garrison.

The battle of Prague was one of the fiercest ever fought. The
Austrian army had improved wonderfully, since the Silesian war.
Their artillery were specially good, their infantry had adopted
many of the Prussian improvements and, had Browne been in sole
command, and had he escaped unwounded, the issue of the day might
have been changed. The Prussians lost 12,500 men, killed and
wounded; the Austrians, including prisoners, 13,300. Frederick
himself put the losses higher, estimating that of the Austrians at
24,000, of whom 5000 were prisoners, that of the Prussians at
18,000, "without counting Marshal Schwerin, who alone was worth
about 10,000."

It is evident that the king's estimate of the loss of the Austrians
must have been excessive. They had the advantage of standing on the
defensive. The Prussian guns did but comparatively little service,
while their own strong batteries played with tremendous effect upon
the Prussians, struggling waist deep in the mud. There can
therefore be little doubt that the latter must have suffered, in
killed and wounded, a much heavier loss than the Austrians.

Impassive as he was, and accustomed to show his feelings but
little, Frederick was deeply affected at the loss of his trusted
general, and of the splendid soldiers who had been so long and
carefully trained; and even had Prague fallen, the victory would
have been a disastrous one for him; for, threatened as he was by
overwhelming forces, the loss of 5000 men, to him, was quite as
serious as that of 20,000 men to the Confederates.

In Keith's army there had been considerable disappointment, when it
became known that they were to remain impassive spectators of the
struggle, and that while their comrades were fighting, they had
simply to blockade the northern side of the city.

"You will have plenty of opportunities," the marshal said quietly
to his aides-de-camp, on seeing their downcast look. "This war is
but beginning. It will be our turn, next time. For it is a great
task the king has set himself, in attempting to carry the strong
position that the Austrians have taken up; and he will not do it
without very heavy loss. Tomorrow you may have reason to
congratulate yourselves that we have had no share in the business."

Nevertheless, as the day went on, and the tremendous roar of battle
rolled down upon them--terrible, continuous, and never ceasing, for
three hours--even Keith walked, in a state of feverish anxiety,
backwards and forwards in front of his tent; while the troops stood
in groups, talking in low tones, and trying to pierce with their
eyes the dun-coloured cloud of smoke that hung over the combatants
on the other side of Prague.

When at last the din of battle went rolling down towards that city, the
feeling of joy was intense. In many, the relief from the tension and the
long excitement was so great that they burst into tears. Some shook hands
with each other, others threw their caps into the air, and then a few
voices burst into the well-known verse of the church hymn:

Nun danket alle Gott,
Mit herzen, mund und haenden.
Of which our English translation runs:
Now thank we all our God,
With hands and hearts and voices.

And in a moment it was taken up by 30,000 deep voices, in a solemn
chorus, the regimental bands at once joining in the jubilant
thanksgiving. Pious men were these honest, Protestant, hard-fighting
soldiers; and very frequently, on their long marches, they beguiled
the way by the stirring hymns of the church. Keith and those around
him stood bare-headed, as the hymn was sung, and not a word was
spoken for some time after the strains had subsided.

"That is good to listen to," Keith said, breaking the silence. "We
have often heard the psalm singing of Cromwell's Ironsides spoken
of, with something like contempt; but we can understand, now, how
men who sing like that, with all their hearts, should be almost
invincible."

"It is the grandest thing that I have ever heard, marshal," Fergus
said. "Of course, I have heard them when they were marching, but it
did not sound like this."

"No, Fergus; it was the appropriateness of the occasion, and
perhaps the depth of the feelings of the men, and our own sense of
immense relief, that made it so striking.

"Listen! There is a fresh outburst of firing. The Austrians have
fallen back, but they are fighting stoutly."

The chief effect of this great battle was of a moral, rather than
material kind. Prague was not a strong place, but with a garrison
of 50,000 men it was too well defended to assault; and until it was
taken Frederick could not march on, as he had intended, and leave
so great a force in the rear.

The moral effect was, however, enormous. The allies had deemed that
they had a ridiculously easy task before them, and that Frederick
would have to retreat before their advancing armies, and must at
last see that there was nothing but surrender before him. That he
should have emerged from behind the shelter of the Saxon hills, and
have shattered the most formidable army of those that threatened
him, on ground of their own choosing, intrenched and fortified,
caused a feeling of consternation and dismay. The French army, the
Russians, and the united force of the French with the German
Confederacy were all arrested on their march, and a month elapsed
before they were again set in motion.

Marshal Daun, who had arrived at Erdwise, fell back at once when
the news reached him and, taking post at the entrance of the
defile, he made the greatest efforts to increase his army.
Reinforcements were sent to him from Vienna and all the adjacent
country. The Duke of Bevern was posted with 20,000 men to watch
him; and Frederick sat down, with all his force, to capture Prague.

The siege train was hurried up from Dresden, and on the 9th of May
his batteries on the south side of the city, and those of Keith on
the north, opened fire on the city. For a month missiles were
poured into the town. Magazines were blown up, and terrible
destruction done, but the garrison held out firmly. At times they
made sorties, but these were always driven in again, with much
loss. But 50,000 men behind fortifications, however weak, were not
to be attacked. Every approach to the city was closely guarded, but
it became at last evident that, as long as the provisions held out,
Prague was not to be taken.

The cannonade became less incessant, and after a month almost died
away; for Daun had by this time gathered a large army, and it was
evident that another great battle would have to be fought. If this
was won by the Prussians, Prague would be forced to surrender. If
not, the city was saved.

It was not until the 12th of June that Daun, a cautious and careful
general, in accordance with urgent orders from Vienna prepared to
advance. His force had now grown to 60,000; 40,000 of the garrison
of Prague could be spared, to issue out to help him. Frederick had
under 70,000, and of these a great portion must remain to guard
their siege works. Thus, then, all the advantages lay with the
relieving army.

Several officers in disguise were despatched, by Daun, to carry
into Prague the news of his advance; and to warn Prince Karl to
sally out, with the whole of his force, and fall upon the Prussians
as soon as he attacked them in the rear. So vigilant, however, were
the besiegers that none of these messengers succeeded in entering
Prague.

On the 13th Frederick set out, with 10,000 men--to be followed by
4000 more under Prince Maurice, two days later, these being all
that could be spared from the siege works--to join Bevern, who had
fallen back as Daun advanced. The junction effected, Frederick
joined Bevern and approached Daun, who was posted in a strong
position near Kolin, thirty-five miles from Prague. On the 17th
Prince Maurice arrived, and after several changes of position the
armies faced each other on the 18th, within a short distance of
Kolin.

Daun's new position was also a strong one, and was, in fact, only
to be assailed on its right; and the Prussian army was moved in
that direction, their order being to pay no attention to the
Austrian batteries or musketry fire, but to march steadily to the
spot indicated. This was done. Ziethen dashed with his hussars upon
the Austrian cavalry, drawn up to bar the way; defeated them, and
drove them far from the field; while Hulsen's division of infantry
carried the village of Preezer, on the Austrian flank, in spite of
the Austrian batteries. So far Frederick's combination had worked
admirably.

Hulsen then attacked a wood behind it, strongly held by the
Austrians. Here a struggle commenced which lasted the whole day,
the wood being several times taken and lost. He was not supported,
owing to a mistake that entirely upset Frederick's plan of battle.

While three miles away from the point where the attack was to be
delivered, Mannstein, whose quickness of inspiration had largely
contributed to the victory of Prague, now ruined Frederick's plan
by his impetuosity. The corn fields, through which his division was
marching towards the assault of the Austrian left, were full of
Croats; who kept up so galling a fire that, losing all patience, he
turned and attacked them.

The regiment to which he gave the order cleared the Croats off; but
these returned, strongly reinforced. The regiments coming behind,
supposing that fresh orders had arrived, also turned off; and in a
short time the whole division, whose support was so sorely needed
by Hulsen, were assaulting the almost impregnable Austrian position
in front.

Another mistake--this time arising from a misconception of a too
brief and positive order, given by Frederick himself--led Prince
Maurice, who commanded the Prussian centre, to hurl himself in like
manner against the Austrians.

For four hours the battle raged. In spite of their disadvantages,
the Prussians fought so desperately that Daun believed the day to
be lost, and sent orders to the troops to retreat to Suchdol; but
the commander of the Saxon cavalry considered the order premature
and, gathering a large body of Austrian infantry, charged with them
and his own cavalry so furiously upon Hulsen that the latter was
forced to retreat.

The movement spread, the attack slackened, and the other division
moved down the hill. They had all but won. Frederick in vain tried
to rally and lead them afresh to the attack. They had done all that
men could do, and the battle ceased. Daun scarcely attempted to
pursue, and the Prussians marched away, unmolested even by cavalry;
some of the regiments remaining firm in their position until
nightfall, repulsing with great loss the one attempt of the
Austrians at pursuit; and Ziethen's cavalry did not draw off until
ten at night.

The Austrians had 60,000 men in the field, of whom they lost in
killed and wounded 8114. The Prussians, who began the day 34,000
strong, lost 13,773; of whom the prisoners, including all the
wounded, amounted to 5380.

The news of the disaster, and with it Frederick's order to prepare
to raise the siege of Prague at once, came like a thunderclap upon
the Prussian camp. Frederick himself, and the remnant of his army,
arrived there in good order, with all their baggage train, a day
later. The cannon were removed from the batteries, the magazines
emptied; and in good order, and without any attempt on the part of
the Austrian garrison to molest them, the Prussian army marched
away and took up their post at Leitmeritz.

The news that an Austrian army had at last beaten Frederick, and
that Prague was saved, caused an exultation and joy, among the
allies, equal to the dismay that had been aroused by the defeat at
Prague; although there was nothing remarkable, or worth much
congratulation, in the fact that an army, in an almost impregnable
position, had repulsed the attack of another of little over half
its strength.



Chapter 9: In Disguise.


Leitmeritz, lying as it did but a short distance beyond the mouth
of the defiles leading into Saxony, was an admirably chosen
position. Supplies for the army could be brought up by the Elbe,
and a retreat was assured, should an overwhelming force advance to
the attack; while from this spot Frederick could march, at once,
either to the defence of Silesia, or to check an enemy approaching
from the west towards the defiles through the mountains.

The news of the defeat at Kolin set all the enemies of Prussia in
movement. The Russian army entered East Prussia, where there was no
adequate force to oppose it; the Swedes issued from Stralsund; the
French pressed hard upon the so-called British column of
observation, and forced the Duke of Cumberland to retreat before
them. Another French army, in conjunction with that of the German
Confederacy, threatened the western passes into Saxony.

As yet, it was impossible to say where Marshal Daun and Prince Karl
would deliver their blow, and great efforts were made to fill up
the terrible gaps created at Prague and Kolin, in the regiments
most hotly engaged, with fresh troops; who were speedily rendered,
by incessant drills and discipline, fit to take their places in the
ranks with the veterans.

The king was lodged in the cathedral close of the city. Keith with
his division occupied the other side of the river, across which a
bridge was at once thrown. Prince Maurice and Bevern had gone to
Bunzlau, at the junction of the Iser and Elbe; but when, upon a
crowd of light Austrian horse approaching, the Prince sent to the
king to ask whether he should retreat, he was at once recalled, and
the Prince of Prussia appointed in his stead.

On the 2nd of July came news which, on the top of his other
troubles, almost prostrated Frederick. This was of the death of his
mother, to whom he was most fondly attached. He retired from public
view for some days; for although he was as iron in the hour of
battle, he was a man of very sensitive disposition, and fondly
attached to his family.

His chief confidant during this sad time was the English
ambassador, Mitchell; a bluff, shrewd, hearty man, for whom the
king had conceived a close friendship. He had accompanied Frederick
from the time he left Berlin, and had even been near him on the
battlefields; and it was in no small degree due to his despatches
and correspondence that we have obtained so close a view of
Frederick, the man, as distinct from Frederick the king and
general.

The Prince of Prussia, however, did no better than Prince Maurice.
The main Austrian army, after much hesitation, at last crossed the
Elbe and moved against him; thinking, doubtless, that he was a less
formidable antagonist than the king. The prince fell back, but in
such hesitating and blundering fashion that he allowed the
Austrians to get between him and his base, the town of Zittau,
where his magazines had been established.

Zittau stood at the foot of the mountain, and was a Saxon town. The
Austrians had come to deliver Saxony, and they began the work by
firing red-hot balls into Zittau, thereby laying the whole town in
ashes, rendering 10,000 people homeless, and doing no injury
whatever to the Prussian garrison or magazines.

The heat, however, from the ruins was so terrible that the five
battalions in garrison there were unable to support it and,
evacuating the town, joined the prince's army; which immediately
retired to Bautzen on the other side of the mountains, leaving the
defiles to Saxony and Silesia both unguarded.

As messenger after messenger arrived at Leitmeritz, with reports of
the movements of the troops, the astonishment and indignation of
Frederick rose higher and higher. The whole fruits of the campaign
were lost, by this astounding succession of blunders; and on
hearing that Zittau had been destroyed, and that the army had
arrived at Bautzen in the condition of a beaten and disheartened
force, he at once started, with the bulk of the army, by the Elbe
passes for that town; leaving Maurice of Dessau, with 10,000 men,
to secure the passes; and Keith to follow more slowly with the
baggage train and magazines.

On his arrival at Bautzen Frederick refused to speak to his
brother, but sent him a message saying that he deserved to be
brought before a court martial, which would sentence him and all
his generals to death; but that he should not carry the matter so
far, being unable to forget that the chief offender was his
brother. The prince resigned his command, and the king, in answer
to his letter to that effect, said that, in the situation created
by him, nothing was left but to try the last extremity.

"I must go and give battle," he wrote, "and if we cannot conquer,
we must all of us get ourselves killed."

Frederick, indeed, as his letters show, had fully made up his mind
that he would die in battle, rather than live beaten. The animosity
of his enemies was, to a large extent, personal to himself; and he
believed that they would, after his death, be inclined to give
better terms to Prussia than they would ever grant, while he lived.
For three weeks the king vainly tried to get the Austrians to give
battle, but Prince Karl and Daun remained on the hill from which
they had bombarded Zittau, and which they had now strongly
fortified.

Their barbarous and most useless bombardment of Zittau had done
their cause harm; for it roused a fierce cry of indignation
throughout Europe, even among their allies; excited public feeling
in England to the highest point in favour of Frederick; and created
a strong feeling of hostility to the Austrians throughout Saxony.

As soon as Keith and the waggon train arrived, bringing up the
Prussian strength to 56,000, the king started, on the 15th August
(1757), for Bernstadt; and then, to the stupefaction of the
Austrians--who had believed that they had either Saxony or Silesia
at their mercy, whenever they could make up their mind which ought
first to be gobbled up--so rapidly did the Prussian cavalry push
forward that Generals Beck and Nadasti were both so taken by
surprise that they had to ride for their lives, leaving baggage
coaches, horses, and all their belongings behind them.

On the 16th, Frederick with the army marched and offered battle to
the Austrians; but although so superior in numbers, they refused to
be beguiled from their fortified hill. At last, after tempting them
in vain, Frederick was forced to abandon the attempt and return to
Saxony, bitterly disappointed. He had wanted, above all things, to
finish with the Austrians; so as to be able to move off to the
other points threatened.

He now arranged that Bevern and Winterfeld should take the command
in his absence, watch the Austrians, and guard Silesia; while he,
with 23,000 men, marched on the 31st of August from Dresden, with
the intention of attacking the combined French and German
Confederacy force, under Soubise, that had already reached Erfurt.
Keith accompanied the king on his harassing march.

Since the arrival of the army at Leitmeritz, Fergus had been
incessantly engaged in carrying despatches between that town and
Dresden; and worked even harder while the king was trying, but in
vain, to bring about an engagement with the Austrians. For the
first few days after starting for Erfurt, he had a comparatively
quiet time of it. The marshal was now constantly the king's
companion, his cheerful and buoyant temper being invaluable to
Frederick, in this time of terrible anxiety. Fergus would have
found it dull work, had it not been for the companionship of
Lindsay, who was always light hearted, and ready to make the best
of everything.

"I would rather be an aide-de-camp than a general, at present,
Drummond," he said one day. "Thank goodness, we get our orders and
have to carry them out, and leave all the thinking to be done by
others! Never was there such a mess as this. Here we are in
October, and we are very much as we were when we began in March."

"Yes, except that all our enemies are drawing closer to us."

"They are closer, certainly, but none of them would seem to know
what he wants to do; and as for fighting, it is of all things that
which they most avoid. We have been trying, for the last two
months, for a fight with the Austrians, and cannot get one. Now we
are off to Erfurt, and I will wager a month's pay that the French
will retire, as soon as we approach; and we shall have all this
long tramp for nothing, and will have to hurry back again, as fast
as we came."

"It is unfortunate that we had to come, Lindsay. Things always seem
to go badly, when the king himself is not present. The princes make
blunder after blunder, and I have no faith in Bevern."

"No," Lindsay agreed, "but he has Winterfeld with him."

"Yes, he is a splendid fellow," Drummond said; "but everyone knows
that he and Bevern do not get on well together, and that the duke
would very much rather that Winterfeld was not with him; and with
two men like that, the one slow and cautious, the other quick and
daring, there are sure to be disagreements. We are going to attack
a force more than twice our own strength, but I am much more
certain as to what will be the result, than I am that we shall find
matters unchanged when we get back here."

The foreboding was very quickly confirmed. A day or two later came
the news that the Austrians had suddenly attacked an advanced
position called the Jakelsberg; where Winterfeld, who commanded the
van of Bevern's army, had posted two thousand grenadiers. Prince
Karl undertook the operation by no means willingly; but the
indignation, at Vienna, at his long delays had resulted in
imperative orders being sent to him, to fight. Nadasti was to lead
the attack, with fifteen thousand men; while the main army
remained, a short distance behind, ready to move up should a
general battle be brought on.

The march was made at night, and at daybreak a thousand Croats, and
forty companies of regular infantry, rushed up the hill. Although
taken by surprise, the Prussians promptly formed and drove them
down again. Winterfeld was some miles behind, having been escorting
an important convoy; and rode at a gallop to the spot, as soon as
he heard the sound of cannon; and brought up two regiments, at a
run, just as the grenadiers were retiring from the hill, unable to
withstand the masses hurled against them.

Sending urgent messages to Bevern, to hurry up reinforcements,
Winterfeld led his two regiments forward, joined the grenadiers
and, rushing eagerly up the hill, regained the position. But the
Austrians were not to be denied, and the fight was obstinately
sustained on both sides. No reinforcements reached Winterfeld and,
after an hour's desperate fighting, he was struck in the breast by
a musket ball and fell, mortally wounded.

The Prussians drew off, slowly and in good order, at two o'clock in
the afternoon; and soon afterwards the Austrians also retired,
nothing having come of this useless battle save heavy loss to both
sides, and the killing of one of Frederick's best and most trusted
generals. It was not, however, without result; for Bevern, freed
from the restraint of his energetic colleague, at once fell back to
Schlesien, where he was more comfortable, near his magazines.

Keith sent for Fergus, on the evening when this bad news had
arrived.

"I want you, lad, to undertake a dangerous service. Now that
Winterfeld has been killed, the king is more anxious than ever as
to the situation. It is enough to madden anyone. It is imperative
that he should get to Erfurt, and fight the French. On the other
hand, everything may go wrong with Bevern while he is away, to say
nothing of other troubles. Cumberland is retreating to the sea; the
Russians are ever gaining ground in East Prussia; there is nothing,
now, to prevent the remaining French army from marching on Berlin;
and the Swedes have issued from Stralsund. It may be that by this
time Soubise has moved from Erfurt; and this is what, above all
things, we want to know.

"You showed so much shrewdness, in your last adventure, that I
believe you might get through this safely. Doubtless there are
cavalry parties, far in advance of Erfurt, and these would have to
be passed. The point is, will you undertake this mission, to go to
Erfurt to ascertain the force there, and if possible their
intentions, and bring us back word?"

"I shall be glad to try, marshal. There should be no difficulty
about it. I shall, of course, go in disguise. I should not be
likely to fall in with any of the enemy's cavalry patrols, till
within a short distance of Erfurt; but should I do so, there would
be little chance of their catching me, mounted as I am.

"I could leave my horse within a short distance of the town. Two or
three hours would be sufficient to gather news of the strength of
the force there, and the movements of any bodies of detached
troops."

"Yes, you should have no great difficulty about that. A large
proportion of the population are favourable to us and, being so
near the frontier of Hanover, your accent and theirs must be so
close that no one would suspect you of being aught but a townsman.

"Of course, the great thing is speed. We shall march from eighteen
to twenty miles a day. You will be able to go fifty. That is to
say, if you start at once you can be there in the morning; and on
the following morning you can bring us back news."

An hour later Fergus, dressed as a small farmer, started. It was a
main line of road, and therefore he was able to travel as fast, at
night, as he would do in the day. There was the advantage, too,
that the disparity between his attire and the appearance of the
horse he rode would pass unnoticed, in the darkness. He had with
him a map of the road, on a large scale; and beneath his cloak he
carried a small lantern, so as to be able to make detours, to avoid
towns where detachments of the enemy's cavalry might be lying.

He had started two hours after the troops halted, and had four
hours of daylight still before him, which he made the most of, and
by sunset he was within fifteen miles of Erfurt. So far, he had not
left the main road; but he now learned, from some peasants, that
there was a small party of French hussars at a place three miles
ahead. He therefore struck off by a byroad and, travelling slowly
along, turned off two hours later to a farmhouse, the lights from
which had made him aware of its proximity.

He dismounted a hundred yards from it, fastened his horse loosely
to a fence, and then went forward on foot, and peeped in cautiously
at the window. It was well that he had taken the precaution, for
the kitchen into which he looked contained a dozen French hussars.
He retired at once, led his horse until he reached the road again,
and then mounted.

Presently he met a man driving a cart.

"My friend," he said, "do you know of any place where a quiet man
could put up, without running the risk of finding himself in the
midst of these French and Confederacy troops?"

"'Tis not easy," the man replied, "for they are all over the
country, pillaging and plundering. We are heartily sick of them,
and there are not a few of us who would be glad, if the King of
Prussia would come and turn them out, neck and crop."

"I don't care what sort of a place it is, so that I could put my
horse up. It is a good one and, like enough, some of these fellows
would take a fancy to it."

"I don't think that it would be safe in any farmhouse within ten
miles of here; but if you like to come with me, my hut stands at
the edge of a wood, and you could leave him there without much
risk."

"Thank you, very much; that would suit me well. It is just what I
had intended to do, but in the darkness I have no great chance of
finding a wood.

"How far are we from Erfurt, now?"

"About five miles."

"That will do very well. I have some business to do there, and can
go and come back by the afternoon."

In a quarter of an hour they arrived at the man's house. It was but
a small place.

"Not much to rob here," his host said grimly. "They have taken my
two cows, and all my poultry. My horse only escaped because they
did not think him fit for anything.

"This is a stranger, wife," he went on, as a woman rose, in some
alarm, from a stool upon which she was crouching by the fire. "He
will stop here for the night and, though there is little enough to
offer him, at least we can make him welcome."

He took a torch from the corner of the room, lighted it at the
fire, and went out.

"You are right about your horse, my friend," he said; "and it is
small chance you would have of taking him back with you, if any of
these fellows set eyes on him. I see your saddlery hardly matches
with your horse."

Fergus had indeed, before starting, taken off his saddle and other
military equipments; and had replaced them with a common country
saddle and bridle, adding a pair of rough wallets and the commonest
of horse cloths, so as to disguise the animal as much as possible.

"I am sorry that I cannot give you a feed for the animal," the man
went on; "but I have none, and my horse has to make shift with what
he can pick up."

"I have one of my wallets full. I baited the horse at inns, as I
came along. He may as well have a feed, before I take him out into
the wood."

He poured a good feed onto a flat stone. As he did so, the
peasant's horse lifted up his head and snuffed the air.

"You shall have some too, old boy," Fergus said; and going across,
was about to empty some on to the ground before it, when its owner,
taking off his hat, held it out.

"Put it into this," he said. "It is seldom, indeed, that he gets
such a treat; and I would not that he should lose a grain."

Fergus poured a bountiful feed into the hat.

"Now," he said, "I can supplement your supper, as well as your
horse's;" and from the other wallet he produced a cold leg of pork,
that Karl had put in before he started; together with three loaves;
and two bottles of wine, carefully done up in straw.

The peasant looked astonished, as Fergus took these out and placed
them upon the table.

"No, no, sir," he said, "we cannot take your food in that way."

"You are heartily welcome to it," Fergus said. "If you do not
assist me to eat it, it will be wasted. Tomorrow I shall breakfast
at Erfurt, and maybe dine, also. I will start as soon as I get
back."

"Well, well, sir, it shall be as you please," the man said; "but it
seems that we are reversing our parts, and that you have become the
host, and we your guests."

It was a pleasant meal by the torch light. Many a month had passed
since the peasants had tasted meat; and the bread, fresh from the
Prussian bakeries, was of a very different quality to the black
oaten bread to which they were accustomed. A horn of good wine
completed their enjoyment.

When the meal was done, the man said:

"Now, master, I will guide you to the wood."

There was no occasion to lead the horse; for it, as well as its
companion, had been trained to follow their master like dogs, and
to come to a whistle. The wood was but two or three hundred yards
off, and the peasant led the way through the trees to a small open
space in its centre. The saddle and bridle had been removed before
they left the cottage; and Fergus tethered the horse, by a foot
rope, to a sapling growing on the edge of the clearing. Then he
patted it on the neck, and left it beginning to crop the short
grass.

"It won't get much," the peasant said, "for my animal keeps it
pretty short. It is his best feeding place, now; and I generally
turn it out here, at night, when the day's work is done."

"What is its work, principally?"

"There is only one sort, now," the man said. "I cut faggots in the
forest, and take a cart load into Erfurt, twice a week. I hope, by
the spring, that all these troubles will be over, and then I
cultivate two or three acres of ground; but so long as these
French, and the Confederacy troops, who are as bad, are about, it
is no use to think of growing anything.

"Now, sir, is there anything that I can do for you?" he went on,
after they returned to the cottage, and had both lit their pipes
and seated themselves by the fire.

"I can see that you are not what you look. A farmer does not ride
about the country on a horse fit for a king, or put up at a cottage
like this."

"Yes; you can help me by leading me by quiet paths to Erfurt. I
tell you frankly that my business, there, is to find out how strong
the French and Confederacy army is, in and around the town; also
whether they are taking any precautions against an attack, and if
there are any signs that they intend to enter Hanover, or to move
towards Dresden."

"I daresay I can learn all that for you, without difficulty; for I
supply several of the inns with faggots. There are troops quartered
in all of them, and the helpers and servants are sure to hear what
is going on. Not, of course, in the inns where the French are
quartered, but where the German men are lodged. They speak plainly
enough there, and indeed everyone knows that a great many of them
are there against their will. The Hesse and Gotha and Dessau men
would all prefer fighting on the Prussian side, but when they were
called out they had to obey.

"At what time will you start?"

"I should like to get to Erfurt as soon as the place is astir."

"That is by five," the man said. "There is trumpeting and drumming
enough by that time, and no one could sleep longer if they wanted
to."

"Then we will start at dawn."

The peasant would have given up his bed to Fergus, but the latter
would not hear of it, and said that he was quite accustomed to
sleeping on the ground; whereupon the peasant went out, and
returned with a large armful of rushes; which, as he told Fergus,
he had cut only the day before to mend a hole in the thatch. Fergus
was well content, for he knew well enough that he should sleep very
much better, on fresh rushes, than he should in the peasant's bed
place, where he would probably be assailed by an army of fleas.

As soon as the man and his wife were astir in the morning, Fergus
got up; bathed his head and face in a tiny streamlet, that ran
within a few yards of the house; then, after cutting a hunch of
bread to eat on their way, the two started.

They did not come down upon the main road until within a mile and a
half of the town, and they then passed through a large village,
where a troop of French cavalry were engaged in grooming their
horses. They attracted no attention whatever, and entered Erfurt at
a quarter-past five. They separated when they got into the town,
agreeing to meet in front of the cathedral, at eleven o'clock.

Fergus went to an eating house, where he saw a party of French
non-commissioned officers and soldiers seated. They were talking
freely, confident that neither the landlord, the man who was
serving them, nor the two or three Germans present could understand
them.

It was evident that they had very little confidence in Soubise.

"One would think," a sergeant said, "that we were going to change
our nationality, and to settle down here for life. Here we have
some fifty thousand men, and there is nothing to stop our going to
Dresden, except some ten thousand or twelve thousand Prussians.
They say that Daun has an army that could eat up Frederick, and it
is certain that he could not spare a sergeant's guard to help bar
the way.

"I cannot understand it, comrades. This leisurely way of making war
may suit some people, but it is not our way."

"And we must admit that it is not the Prussians' way," another
said. "They are our enemies; though why, I am sure I don't know.
That is not our business. But the way that they dash out, and set
the Austrians dancing, is really splendid. I wish that our own
generals had a little of Fritz's energy and go."

There was a general murmur of assent.

"Here we are, September beginning, and next to nothing done. Now
there would be enough to do, if Fritz could get away from Daun and
dash off in this direction."

"Yes," another said, "there would be plenty to do, but I would not
mind wagering that we should not wait for him; and after all, I am
not sure if it would not be the best thing to do, for these Germans
with us are little better than a rabble."

"That is so, Francois; but, mixed up with us as they would be, they
would have to fight whether they liked it or not. At any rate, if
we don't mean to fight, what are we here for?"

"That I cannot say," another laughed; "but I own I am not so eager
to fight as you seem to be. We are very comfortable. We ride about
the country, we take pretty well what we like. It is better than
being in barracks, at home.

"While, on the other hand, it is no joke fighting these Prussians.
The fights are not skirmishes, they are battles. It is not a
question of a few hundred killed, it is a question of ding-dong
fighting, and of fifteen or twenty thousand killed on each side--no
joke, that. For my part, I am quite content to take it easy at
Erfurt, and to leave it to the Austrians to settle matters with
these obstinate fellows."

So they continued talking, and Fergus saw that, so far, no news
whatever of Frederick's march against Erfurt had reached them. He
learned, too, that although there were some outlying bodies to the
north, the main bulk of the force lay in and around Erfurt.

The contempt with which the French soldiers spoke of the German
portion of the army was very great. Each little state had, by the
order of the Council of the Confederacy, been compelled to furnish
a contingent, even if its representatives in the council had
opposed the proposal; therefore very many of the men had joined
unwillingly, while in other cases the French declared that the levy
had been made up by hiring idlers and ne'er-do-wells in the towns,
so as to avoid having to put the conscription into force in the
rural districts.

The officers were declared to be as incapable as the men, and had
it not been that an Austrian contingent some five thousand strong
had been joined with them, and the drilling largely undertaken by
the non-commissioned officers of this force, nothing approaching
order or discipline could have been maintained. All the Frenchmen
lamented their fortune in having to act with such allies, instead
of being with the purely French army that was gradually pressing
the Duke of Cumberland to the seaboard.

Fergus waited until the party had left the inn, when the landlord
himself came across to hand him his reckoning.

"Bad times, master," he said. "Bad times," shaking his head
ruefully.

"Yes, they are bad enough, landlord; but I should say that you must
be doing a good trade, with all these soldiers in the town."

"A good trade!" the landlord repeated. "I am being ruined. Do you
not know that, in addition to levying a heavy contribution on the
town, they issued a regulation settling the prices at which the
troops were to be served, at beer shops and inns: breakfast--and
you saw what those fellows ate--4 pence; a tumbler of wine, 1
pence; dinner, 5 pence. Why, each item costs me more than double
that; and as nobody brings in cattle, for these might be seized on
the way, and no compensation given, so meat gets dearer. We are
waiting until there is none to be had, on any terms; and then we
shall send representatives to the general, to point out to him that
it is absolutely impossible for us to obey the regulations.

"Ah, these are terrible times! We could not have suffered more than
this, had Coburg joined Frederick; though they say that Richelieu's
French army is plundering even worse, in Hanover and the country
beyond it, than Soubise is doing here.

"Moreover, one would rather be plundered by an enemy than by
fellows who pretend to come hither as friends. If Frederick would
march in here, I would open my house free to all comers, and would
not grudge the last drop of wine in my cellar."

"There is never any saying," Fergus replied. "The King of Prussia
always appears when least expected, and more unlikely things have
happened than that he should appear here, some fine morning."


[Illustration: As Fergus was sallying out, a mounted officer
dashed by at a gallop]


Having paid his reckoning, he went to the door. As he was sallying
out, a mounted officer dashed by at a headlong gallop; his horse
was flecked with foam, and it was evident that he had ridden far
and fast, on an important errand.

Having nothing to do until he should meet the peasant, Fergus
followed the officer at a leisurely pace; and in five minutes came
up with the horse, held by a soldier at the entrance gate of a very
large house. Sentries were pacing up and down in front of it, and
officers going in and out.

"Is that the headquarters of the French general?" he asked a
townsman.

"Yes," and the man walked on with a muttered malediction.

A few minutes later several mounted officers rode out, and dashed
off in haste in various directions.

"There is evidently something up," Fergus said to himself. "Perhaps
they have got news of the Prussian approach."

In a quarter of an hour several general officers arrived, and
entered the house. It was evident that a council of war had been
summoned. Half an hour elapsed, and then a number of aides-de-camp
and staff officers rode off in haste. A few minutes later, a
trumpet sounded a regimental call, and then the assembly.

Before it had died away, similar calls echoed from all parts of the
town. Soldiers ran hastily through the streets, mounted officers
dashed in every direction, and the citizens came to their doors, in
surprise at this sudden movement.

Fergus had no longer any doubt about the cause of the stir. The
great thing, now, was to ascertain whether the army would advance
to take up some strong position outside the town and oppose the
Prussian advance, or whether they would march away.

Being fifty thousand in number, the former would appear to be the
natural course for a general to adopt; as Frederick had with him
but twenty-three thousand men. Of this fact, however, Soubise would
be ignorant, and might only have heard that the Prussian army was
marching to annihilate him.

Before long baggage waggons began to clatter through the streets.
They were being driven westward, and it was in the same direction
that the regiments made their way.

Fergus followed them to the plain outside the town. The tents had
already been struck; the troops, as they arrived from the town and
camp, were marshalled in order; a long train of baggage waggons
were already making their way westward; and there was no longer any
grounds for doubt that Soubise was retreating.

It was just eleven o'clock when Fergus returned to the cathedral.
The peasant was awaiting him.

"They all seem on the move," the latter said. "I have heard much
about them."

"It does not matter, now," Fergus replied. "I must get back to your
place, as quickly as I can."

Not a word was spoken, until they had left the town.

"They must be going up into Hanover, to join the French army
there," the peasant said.

"They are running away. Frederick will be here tomorrow night, or
at any rate next day."

"The news seems too good to be true, master. How have you learnt
it?"

"I have learnt it from no one here. I am one of the king's
officers, and I came on here to find out whether the enemy would be
likely to come out and fight, or would bolt when they heard of his
advance."

"The Lord be praised!" the man said piously, taking off his hat as
he spoke. "I thought, sir, that there was something curious in your
having such a horse; and still more so, in your wanting to find out
all about the force of the enemy here. But it was no business of
mine; and I felt that you must be a friend for, had you been
Austrian or French, you would have ridden boldly into the town."

As they went along the road they were met by several troops of
cavalry, riding at full speed.

"Is the way we came this morning the shortest?"

"Yes, sir, by a good mile."

"Then we will return by it," said Fergus.

As soon as they left the main road they went at a run for some
distance, and then broke into a fast walk. In an hour from the time
of leaving Erfurt, they arrived at the hut.

"I will run along and fetch your horse, sir," the peasant said.

"No, I will go myself. He does not know you, and might refuse to
let you come near him."

In a few minutes, Fergus returned with his horse. The saddle,
bridle, and wallets were quickly put on. Fergus dropped his pistols
into his saddlebags, and buckled on the sword he had brought with
him. It was not his own, but one he had bought at starting--a good
piece of steel, but with a battered and rusty sheath that showed
that it had been lying for weeks, possibly for months, on some
field of battle before being picked up.

Then, with a word of adieu and thanks to the peasant and his wife,
and slipping a crown piece into the hand of the latter, he mounted
and rode off.



Chapter 10: Rossbach.


Fergus knew that there were several cavalry posts ahead, and
thought it likely that some of these might be left to give warning
of the Prussian approach. He therefore rode across the country for
some miles. He had begun to think that he must have gone beyond the
limit of their outposts, when he saw a hussar pacing across the
line in front of him, his beat evidently being between two small
woods three or four hundred yards apart.

He checked his horse, as he saw Fergus approaching. He was a
good-tempered looking fellow, and nodded to Fergus as much as to
say that, if he could speak his language, he should like a chat
with him. The latter at once checked his horse, and said good day,
in French.

"Ah, you speak our language!" the soldier said. "I am glad to
exchange a word with someone. It is hot here, especially when one's
time is up, and one ought to have been relieved, an hour ago."

"Yes, I can understand that. I expect you have been forgotten."

"Well, it does not make much difference. I shall get off my next
guard, in consequence."

"You will have to wait some time before you are relieved, if you
stop here."

"What do you mean?" the soldier asked.

"I mean that when I left Erfurt your army was all moving west, and
as I rode along I met several troops of cavalry, galloping to join
them."

"That is strange news. Nothing whatever was known, when I came out
here."

"No, the news only arrived at Erfurt, this morning, that
Frederick's army is within a day's march; and I saw the troops
march out, and the baggage waggons on their way before I started. I
don't say that your troop may have gone. They may have stopped to
form a post of observation."

"Well, at any rate I shall go into the village and see. I ought to
have been relieved an hour ago; and if they had such news as that,
and had remained there, they would have been sure to have sent, to
order all videttes to use special vigilance. We have only been
posted here as a sort of practice, for we did not think that there
was an enemy within a hundred and fifty miles; and now, if the news
is true, we may have the Prussian cavalry coming along at any
moment.

"Well, thank you for warning me," and turning his horse, he went
off at a gallop.

As the outposts would not have been set, except by the party most
in advance, Fergus knew that there was now no more risk of falling
in with the enemy; unless a cavalry force had been sent forward, to
endeavour to get an idea of the force of the Prussians. But as the
generals had so precipitately decided upon a retreat, it was not
likely that they would have ordered any reconnaissance of this kind
to be made.

He therefore presently regained the main road and, riding fast,
arrived at the place where the Prussians had pitched their camp,
thirty miles from Erfurt, having made a twenty-miles march that
day. He dismounted at the house where Keith had established his
quarters.

"I have bad news for you, sir," he said. "Word of your coming
reached Erfurt, at eight o'clock this morning; and by eleven the
whole army were on their march westward, bag and baggage."

"That is bad news, Fergus. You could hardly have brought worse. The
king had hoped to have struck a heavy blow, and then to be off
again to face the Austrians. What strength were they?"

"About fifty thousand."

"How did they get the news of our coming?"

"That I cannot say, sir. I had gone into Erfurt soon after five,
and had already picked up a good deal of news, from the talk of a
party of French non-commissioned officers who were taking breakfast
at a small inn; and who, not imagining that I could understand
them, talked very freely over affairs. They sat over their meal
some time, and I did not go out until they had left.

"Just as I did so, a mounted officer galloped past, at a speed that
showed he was the bearer of an important despatch. I followed him
to Soubise's headquarters. While there, I noticed several mounted
officers rode out in great haste. A quarter of an hour later,
several general officers arrived. There was a consultation for half
an hour, and then officers rode off in all directions; and in a few
minutes trumpets were sounding, and drums beating, all over the
town.

"In a very short time a movement began towards the western gate. By
ten o'clock the tents were all struck round the town, the waggons
loaded, and they were on their way west. An hour later, and the
whole force was in movement in that direction; and as I issued from
the town on this side, I met the cavalry that had been scattered
among the villages, galloping in. I don't think that there is, at
the present moment, an enemy within ten miles of Erfurt."

"You were in no danger, yourself?"

"None at all, sir. I passed the night at a friendly peasant's hut,
five miles this side of the town, inside their advanced posts. I
left my horse in a wood, and my peasant guided me by bypaths to the
town. I did not exchange a word with anyone, except the landlord of
the hotel where I breakfasted. He was bitterly hostile to the
enemy.

"I also spoke to a solitary French vidette who had, in the hurry of
their retreat, been left behind; and told him that he had best be
off, as the whole army was in full march for the west."

"Well, if you breakfasted at six this morning, you must be hungry.
My dinner will be ready in half an hour, and you had better share
it with me. I must go now, and tell the king the news that you have
brought. I said nothing to him about my having sent you."

In twenty minutes the marshal returned.

"The king wishes to see you, Fergus. Of course he is vexed, but he
always takes bad news well, unless it is the result of the blunder
of one of the officers. He does not say much, even then; but it is
very bad for that officer when he sees him. Frederick never
forgives a blunder."

"Well, Captain Drummond, so you have been playing the spy for us?"

"I have been doing my best, your majesty."

"And the French are gone, bag and baggage?"

"Yes, sire, they have gone off west."

"To perch themselves somewhere among the mountains, I suppose.
Perhaps they will get bolder, presently, when they hear that they
are more than double my strength. Did you learn anything more than
what Marshal Keith has told me?"

"I heard a great deal of talk among a party of French
non-commissioned officers, sire. They expressed great
dissatisfaction with their general, and at the long delays. They
also spoke with absolute contempt of the Confederacy army, both
officers and men; and said that, if it had not been for the
drilling by the Austrian non-commissioned officers, they would be
nothing better than a rabble."

"I daresay Soubise is of the same opinion," the king said, "and
wants them to have a few weeks' more drill before he sets them in
line of battle. However, I have no doubt we shall manage to bring
him to book, before we return.

"Well, I am obliged to you for your zeal, Captain Drummond; and
although Keith tells me that you got in without being questioned,
such business is always dangerous. Mayhap next time you will have a
better opportunity for distinguishing yourself. As you managed to
pass so freely among them, after you made your escape from prison,
you can clearly be trusted on work of this kind."

Fergus saluted, and retired.

The next morning the troops started, as usual, at daybreak. They
were to make but a short march, for they had no longer any occasion
for speed, and they had made the hundred and fifty miles at a very
rapid pace; but when they halted, Frederick with the cavalry rode
straight on into Erfurt.

"Don't wait to put on your uniform now," Keith said to Fergus, on
his return from the royal quarters; "dinner is waiting; and I am
ready, if you are not. Lindsay is going to dine with me, too."

"Well, Lindsay," the marshal said, as the latter entered, "you see
the advantages of this young fellow being able to speak German
well. If you had been taken prisoner at Lobositz, you would have
been fast in Spielberg at present; and you see he is now able to
undertake perilous missions, and peril means promotion."

"I quite see that, marshal," Lindsay said with a smile; "but though
I can get on with French fairly enough, my tongue doesn't seem to
be able to form these crack-jaw German words; and you see, marshal,
it is not the only one that does not. I think, sir, that bad as my
German is, it is not much worse than your own, and you have been
here much longer than I have."

The marshal laughed.

"You are right. I cannot say half a dozen German words; but you see
I have not had your motive for acquiring it, and cannot very well
get promotion. And again, it would not do for me to speak better
German than the King of Prussia; who, beyond a few words necessary
for animating his troops on occasion, knows very little German
himself. For general work here French is amply sufficient, because
every officer speaks it; but as you see, German is very useful,
too, to a young officer who wishes to push himself forward, and is
willing to undertake special work of this kind."

"But even then, marshal, he would have no advantage over a Prussian
officer who speaks French."

"It depends a good deal upon the Prussian officer. The greater
portion of them are mere machines--splendid fighting machines, no
doubt; but of no great use outside their own work. Anyone could
detect, with half an eye, nineteen out of twenty of them; dress
them how you would, disguise them as you like. They step the
regulation length, bring their foot down in the regulation way, are
as stiff as if they had swallowed a ramrod. They have neither
suppleness nor adaptability. They are so accustomed to obey that
they have almost lost the power of originating, and would be taken
and shot before they were in the enemy's lines ten minutes. Now,
Fergus has the advantage of knowing both languages, and of being
quick-witted and sharp."

The next two months were passed in marches to and fro. Seidlitz,
with some cavalry, took possession of Gotha, to the great
satisfaction of the duke and duchess; and the king himself rode
over and dined with them.

While Seidlitz remained there as governor, with a couple of
regiments of horse, a strong body of French and Austrian hussars,
grenadiers, and artillery marched against Gotha. Seidlitz, having
so few men to oppose them, evacuated the place, and the enemy
marched into it in triumphant procession. The duke and duchess made
the best of matters, and invited all the principal officers to a
banquet.

Just as they were sitting down to this, Seidlitz with his Prussians
reappeared; his men being so artfully scattered about that they
appeared a great deal stronger than they were. The enemy were
seized with panic. Soubise and his generals mounted in great haste,
and in a few minutes the whole were retreating at top speed;
Seidlitz pursuing for some distance, killing thirty and taking
sixty prisoners, with a large amount of baggage and plunder, and
then returning to Gotha to eat the dinner prepared for the enemy.

Ferdinand of Brunswick, with his division, had been sent off to
check, if possible, the movements of the French army under
Richelieu, near Magdeburg.

In October came the startling news that Berlin itself was
threatened, and that a force, said to be fifteen thousand strong,
under General Haddick, was in rapid motion towards it. Prince
Maurice was ordered to hasten to its defence, and the king also
moved in that direction.

The invading force was but four thousand strong. Their numbers,
however, were so magnified by rumour that the governor of Berlin,
who had but four thousand troops, did not venture to oppose them,
but sent the royal family and archives away under a strong escort.
Haddick occupied a suburb of the city, but knowing that as soon as
his real force was known he would be hotly opposed, and receiving
news that Prince Maurice was rapidly approaching, demanded a ransom
of 45,000 pounds; and finally accepted 27,000 pounds, and then
hurried away. Prince Maurice arrived twenty-four hours later.

The consequences of this little success--magnified by report into
"Berlin captured, Prussian royal family in flight."--turned out
very advantageous to Frederick. The enthusiasm in Paris and Vienna
was enormous, and orders were despatched to the armies to set to,
without further delay, and finish the work. Fifteen thousand men
were sent from Richelieu's army to reinforce Soubise, who thereupon
issued from his mountain stronghold and marched against Leipzig.

Frederick, however, arrived there first, Ferdinand and Maurice
joining him a day or two later; and while waiting there, Frederick
received the joyful news that England requested him to appoint Duke
Ferdinand, of Brunswick, commander-in-chief of the army until now
commanded by the Duke of Cumberland, who had just sailed for
England.

Pitt had now risen to almost absolute power in England, and was
busied in reforming the abuses in the army and navy, dismissing
incapable officials, and preparing to render some efficient aid to
its hard-pressed ally. The proposal that Prince Ferdinand should
assume the command of the army--whose efforts had hitherto been
rendered nugatory by the utter incompetence of the Duke of
Cumberland who, although personally as brave as a lion, was
absolutely ignorant of war--afforded immense satisfaction to the
king.

No better choice could have been made. Ferdinand was related to the
royal families both of England and Prussia. He was a capable
general, prudent and at the same time enterprising, firm under
difficulties, ready to seize opportunities; and under his command
there was no doubt that the northern army, which had hitherto been
useless, and had only been saved from absolute destruction by the
incompetence of the French generals, would now play a useful part.

On October 30th Soubise, in spite of his orders to fight, and the
fact that he had double the strength of the Prussians, fell back
before them. Soubise himself felt no confidence in his troops, but
upon the other hand his officers and those of the Confederate army
were puffed up with vanity, and remonstrated hotly against retreat.

The next day Frederick came in sight of Soubise's army, which was
camped on a height near the town of Weissenfels. Frederick had but
one-half of his force with him, the other half, under Keith, being
still detached. Five thousand men garrisoned Weissenfels, but
Frederick made short work of the place. His cannon burst down the
gates, and his troops rushed forward with all speed; but the
garrison fled across the bridge over the Saale, which had already
been prepared for burning; and they set it on fire in such haste
that four hundred were unable to cross, and were made prisoners.
The fugitives joined their army on the other side of the Elbe, and
its guns opened upon the burning bridge, to prevent the Prussians
from trying to extinguish the flames.

The Prussians returned the fire, and the artillery duel was kept up
until three o'clock, by which time the bridge was consumed.
Frederick had already fixed upon a spot suitable for the erection
of another, and during the night, while the enemy were falling back
to take up a fresh position upon higher ground, the engineers,
working diligently, succeeded in throwing a bridge across.

Keith arrived at Merseburg the next morning. A strong force lay
opposite, ready to dispute the passage; but when Soubise found that
the king was crossing by his new bridge, he called in all his
detachments and marched away, to a strong position, and there set
himself in array ready to receive an attack. Keith's bridges were
finished on the 3rd of November, and that afternoon he crossed and
joined Frederick.

On the 4th the army was on the move by two o'clock in the morning.
A bright moon was shining and, by its light, it was discovered that
the enemy had shifted his position for one much stronger, with
approaches protected by patches of wood and bog. The Prussian army
therefore marched back to their camp, the king hoping that, being
so far from their base of supplies, the enemy would be forced ere
long to make some movement that would afford him a chance of
attacking them under better circumstances.

The ground from Weissenfels rises, very gradually, to a height of a
hundred and twenty feet or so; which in so flat a country is
regarded as a hill. On this slight swelling are several small
villages. Of these Rossbach is the principal, standing high up on
its crest. Here Frederick's right wing was posted, while his left
was at Bedra. The king took up his quarters at a large house in
Rossbach; and from its roof, at eight o'clock on the morning of the
5th, he saw that the enemy were getting into motion and moving away
towards their left.

The movement had begun much earlier. Half an hour later they had
passed through the village of Grost, and were apparently making
their way to Freiburg, where they had some magazines. Hoping to
have a chance of attacking their rear, Frederick ordered the
cavalry to saddle, and the whole army to be in readiness, and then
sat down to dinner with his officers at noon. Little did he dream,
at the time, that the slow and clumsy movement that he was watching
was intended, by the enemy, to end in a flank attack on himself.

On the previous day Soubise, with his generals, looking down on the
Prussian camp, had reckoned their force at ten thousand. In reality
they had seen only a portion of their camp, the site being hidden
by a dip of the ground. Even Soubise thought that, with the odds of
over five to one in his favour, he could fight a battle with a
certainty of success; and planned a masterly march, by which he
would place himself on Frederick's left and rear, drive him into
the bend made by the Saale, and annihilate his army. In his
enthusiasm at this happy idea, he sent off a courier to carry the
news, to Versailles, that he was about to annihilate the Prussian
army, and take the king prisoner.

Frederick's dinner was prolonged. There was nothing to be done, and
patience was one of the king's strong points. At two o'clock an
officer, who had remained on watch on the housetop, hurried down
with news that the enemy had suddenly turned to the left. The king
went up to the roof with his officers, and at once divined the
intention of his foes.

It was a glorious moment for him. At last, after three weary
months, he was to meet them in battle. Instantly his orders were
given, and in half an hour the Prussian army was all in movement,
with the exception of some irregular corps which were left to
occupy the attention of the enemy's horse, which had been posted as
if to threaten Rossbach. By the line taken, the Prussians were at
once hidden behind the crest of the hill from the enemy; and so
Soubise thought that the Prussians, being afraid of his attack,
were marching away with all speed for Keith's bridge at Merseburg.
He accordingly hurried on his cavalry, and ordered the infantry to
go at a double, for the purpose of capturing the runaway Prussians.

In the meantime Seidlitz, with four thousand horse, trotted briskly
along until he reached, still concealed from the enemy's sight, the
spot towards which they were hurrying, in two great columns headed
by seven thousand cavalry. He allowed them to move forward until he
was on their flank, and then dashed over the crest of the hill, and
charged like a thunderbolt upon them.

Taken completely by surprise, the enemy's cavalry had scarce time
to form. Two Austrian regiments and two French were alone able to
do so. But there was no withstanding the impetus of the Prussian
charge. They rode right through the disordered cavalry; turned,
formed, and recharged, and four times cut their way through them,
until they broke away in headlong flight; and were pursued by
Seidlitz until out of sight from the hill, when he turned and
waited, to see where he could find an opportunity of striking
another blow.

By this time Frederick, with the infantry, was now pouring over the
crest of the hill, their advance heralded by the fire of
twenty-four guns. Rapidly, in echelon, they approached the enemy.
In vain Soubise endeavoured to face round the column, thus taken in
flank, to meet the coming storm. He was seconded by Broglio and the
commander of the Confederate army, but the two columns were jammed
together, and all were in confusion at this astounding and
unexpected attack. Orders were unheard or disobeyed, and everything
was still in utter disorder, when six battalions of Prussian
infantry hurled themselves upon them.

When forty paces distant, they poured in their first terrible
volley, and then continued their fire as fast as they could load;
creating great havoc among the French troops on whom they had
fallen, while away on each flank the Prussian artillery made deep
gaps in the line. Soon the mass, helpless under this storm of fire,
wavered and shook; and then Seidlitz, who had been concealed with
his cavalry in a hollow a short distance away, hurled himself like
a thunderbolt on their rear, and in a moment they broke up in
headlong flight. In less than half an hour from the first
appearance of the Prussians on the hill, the struggle had ended,
and an army of from fifty to sixty thousand men was a mob of
fugitives; defeated by a force of but twenty-two thousand men, not
above half of whom were engaged.

The loss of the allies was three thousand killed and wounded, five
thousand prisoners, and seventy-two guns; while the Prussians lost
but one hundred and sixty-five killed, and three hundred and
seventy-six wounded. The victory was one of the most remarkable and
surprising ever gained, for these figures by no means represent the
full loss to the defeated.

The German portion of the army, after being chased for many miles,
scattered in all directions; and only one regiment reached Erfurt
in military order, and in two days the whole of the men were on
their way to their homes, in the various states composing the
Confederation. The French were in no less disgraceful a condition.
Plundering as they went, a mere disorganized rabble, they continued
their flight until fifty-five miles from the field of battle, and
were long before they gathered again in fighting order.

The joy caused in Prussia and in England, by this astonishing
victory, was shared largely by the inhabitants of the country
through which the French army had marched. Everywhere they had
plundered and pillaged, as if they had been moving through an
enemy's country instead of one they had professed to come to
deliver. The Protestant inhabitants had everywhere been most
cruelly maltreated, the churches wrecked, and the pastors treated
as criminals. The greater portion of Germany therefore regarded the
defeat of the French as a matter for gratification, rather than the
reverse.

In England the result was enormous. It had the effect of vastly
strengthening Pitt's position, and twenty thousand British troops
were, ere long, despatched to join the army under the Duke of
Brunswick, which was now called the allied army, and from this time
the French force under Richelieu ceased to be dangerous to
Frederick. France and England were old antagonists, and entered
upon a duel of their own; a duel that was to cost France Canada,
and much besides; to establish England's naval preponderance; and
to extinguish French influence in the Netherlands.

Fergus Drummond was not under fire, at the memorable battle of
Rossbach. Keith's division was not, in fact, engaged; the affair
having terminated before it arrived. Keith, however, had ridden to
the position on the brow of the hill where the king had stationed
himself; and his staff, following him, had the satisfaction of
seeing the enemy's heavy columns melt into a mass of fugitives, and
spread in all directions over the country, like dust driven before
a sudden whirlwind.

"What next, I wonder?" Fergus said to Lindsay; who had, three days
before, been promoted to the rank of captain, as much to the
satisfaction of Fergus as to his own.

"I suppose some more marching," Lindsay replied. "You may be sure
that we shall be off east again, to try conclusions with Prince
Karl. Bevern seems to be making a sad mess of it there. Of course
he is tremendously outnumbered, thirty thousand men against eighty
thousand; but he has fallen back into Silesia without making a
single stand, and suffered Prince Karl to plant himself between
Breslau and Schweidnitz; and the Prince is besieging the latter
town with twenty thousand men, while with sixty thousand he is
facing Bevern."

Four days after the victory, indeed, Frederick set out with
thirteen thousand men; leaving Prince Henry to maintain the line of
the Saale, and guard Saxony; while Marshal Keith was to go into
Bohemia, raise contributions there, and threaten as far as might be
the Austrian posts in that country.

Fergus, however, went with the king's army, the king having said to
the Marshal:

"Keith, lend me that young aide-de-camp of yours. I have seen how
he can be trusted to carry a despatch, at whatever risk to his
life. He is ingenious and full of devices; and he has luck, and
luck goes for a great deal.

"I like him, too. I have observed that he is always lively and
cheery, even at the end of the longest day's work. I notice too
that, even though your relation, he never becomes too familiar; and
his talk will be refreshing, when I want something to distract my
thoughts from weighty matters."

So Fergus went with the king, who could ill afford to lose Keith
from his side. With none was he more friendly and intimate and, now
that Schwerin had gone, he relied upon him more implicitly than
upon any other of his officers.

But Keith had been, for some time, unwell. He was suffering from
asthma and other ailments that rendered rapid travel painful to
him; and he would obtain more rest and ease, in Bohemia, than he
could find in the rapid journey the king intended to make.

On the fifth day of his march Frederick heard, to his stupefaction,
that Schweidnitz had surrendered. The place was an extremely strong
one, and the king had relied confidently upon its holding out for
two or three months. Its fortifications were constructed in the
best manner; it was abundantly supplied with cannon, ammunition,
and provisions; and its surrender was inexcusable.

The fault was doubtless, to a large degree, that of its commandant,
who was a man of no resolution or resources; but it was also partly
due to the fact that a portion of the garrison were Saxons, who had
at Pirna been obliged to enter the Prussian service. Great numbers
of these deserted; a hundred and eighty of them, in one day, going
over from an advanced post to the enemy. With troops like these,
there could be no assurance that any post would be firmly held--a
fact that might well shake the confidence of any commander in his
power of resistance.

The blow was none the less severe, to Frederick, from being partly
the result of his own mistaken step of enrolling men bitterly
hostile in the ranks of the army. Still, disastrous as the news
was, it did not alter his resolution; and at even greater speed
than before he continued his march. Sometimes of an evening he sent
for Fergus, and chatted with him pleasantly for an hour or two,
asking him many questions of his life in Scotland, and discoursing
familiarly on such matters, but never making any allusion to
military affairs.

On the tenth day of the march they arrived at Gorlitz, where
another piece of bad news reached Frederick. Prince Karl, after
taking Schweidnitz, had fallen with sixty thousand men on Bevern.
He had crossed by five bridges across the Loe, but each column was
met by a Prussian force strongly intrenched. For the space of
fifteen hours the battles had raged, over seven or eight miles of
country. Five times the Austrians had attacked, five times had they
been rolled back again; but at nine o'clock at night they were
successful, more or less, in four of their attacks, while the
Prussian left wing, under the command of Ziethen, had driven its
assailants across the river again.

During the night Bevern had drawn off, marched through Breslau, and
crossed the Oder, leaving eighty cannon and eight thousand killed
and wounded--a tremendous loss, indeed, when the army at daybreak
had been thirty thousand strong. Bevern himself rode out to
reconnoitre, in the gray light of the morning, attended only by a
groom, and fell in with an Austrian outpost. He was carried to
Vienna, but being a distant relation of the emperor, was sent home
again without ransom.

It was the opinion of Frederick that he had given himself up
intentionally, and on his return he was ordered at once to take up
his former official post at Stettin; where he conducted himself so
well, in the struggle against the Russian armies, that two years
later he was restored to Frederick's favour.

As if this misfortune was not great enough, two days later came the
news that Breslau had surrendered without firing a shot; and this
when it was known that the king was within two days' march, and
pressing forward to its relief. Here ninety-eight guns and an
immense store and magazine were lost to Prussia.

Frederick straightway issued orders that the general who had
succeeded Bevern should be put under arrest, for not having at once
thrown his army into Breslau; appointed Ziethen in his place, and
ordered him to bring the army round to Glogau and meet him at
Parchwitz on December 2nd, which Ziethen punctually did.

In spite of the terrible misfortunes that had befallen him,
Frederick was still undaunted. Increased as it was by the arrival
of Ziethen, his force was but a third of the strength of the
Austrians. The latter were flushed with success; while Ziethen's
troops were discouraged by defeat, and his own portion of the force
worn out by their long and rapid marches, and by the failure of the
object for which they had come. Calling his generals together on
the 3rd, he recounted the misfortunes that had befallen them; and
told them that his one trust, in this terrible position, was in
their qualities and valour; and that he intended to engage the
enemy, as soon as he found them, and that they must beat them or
all of them perish in the battle.

Enthusiastically, the generals declared that they would conquer or
die with him; and among the soldiers the spirit was equally strong,
for they had implicit confidence in their king, and a well-justified
trust in their own valour and determination. That evening Frederick,
eager as he was to bring the terrible situation to a final issue,
cannot but have felt that it would have been too desperate an
undertaking to have attacked the enemy; posted as they were with a
river (known as Schweidnitz Water) and many other natural difficulties
covering their front, and having their flanks strengthened, as was the
Austrian custom, with field works and batteries. Fortunately the
Austrians settled the difficulty by moving out from their stronghold.

Daun had counselled their remaining there, but Prince Karl and the
great majority of his military advisers agreed that it would be a
shameful thing that ninety thousand men should shut themselves up,
to avoid an attack by a force of but one-third their own strength;
and that it was in all respects preferable to march out and give
battle, in which case the Prussians would be entirely destroyed;
whereas, if merely repulsed in an attack on a strong position, a
considerable proportion might escape and give trouble in the
future.

The Austrians, indeed, having captured Schweidnitz and Breslau,
defeated Bevern, and in the space of three weeks made themselves
masters of a considerable portion of Silesia, were in no small
degree puffed up, and had fallen anew to despising Frederick. The
blow dealt them at Prague had been obliterated by their success at
Kolin; and Frederick's later success over the French and Federal
army was not considered, by them, as a matter affecting themselves,
although several Austrian regiments had been among Soubise's force.
The officers were very scornful over the aggressive march of
Frederick's small army, which they derisively called the Potsdam
Guards' Parade; and many were the jokes cut, at the military
messes, at its expense.

The difference, then, with which the two armies regarded the coming
battle was great, indeed. On the one side there was the easy
confidence of victory, the satisfaction that at length this
troublesome little king had put himself in their power; on the
other a deep determination to conquer or to die, a feeling that,
terrible as the struggle must be, great as were the odds against
them, they might yet, did each man do his duty, come out the
victors in the struggle.

"And what think you of this matter, lad?" Frederick said, laying
his hand familiarly on the young captain's shoulder.

"I know nothing about it, your majesty; but like the rest, I feel
confident that somehow you will pull us through. Of one thing I am
sure, that all that is possible for the men to do, your soldiers
will accomplish."

"Well, we shall see. It is well that I know all the country round
here, for many a review have I held of the garrison of Breslau, on
the very ground where we are about to fight. Their position is a
very strong one, and I am afraid that crafty old fox Daun will
here, as he did at Prague, persuade Prince Karl to hide behind his
batteries. Were it not for that, I should feel confident; whereas I
now but feel hopeful. Still, I doubt not that we shall find our way
in, somehow."



Chapter 11: Leuthen.


At four in the morning on Sunday, December 4th, Frederick marched
from Parchwitz; intending to make Neumarkt, a small town some
fourteen miles off, his quarters. When within two or three miles of
this town he learned, to his deep satisfaction, that the Austrians
had just established a great bakery there, and that a party of
engineers were marking out the site for a camp; also that there
were but a thousand Croats in the town. The news was satisfactory,
indeed, for two reasons: the first being that the bakery would be
of great use for his own troops; the second, that it was clear that
the Austrians intended to advance across the Schweidnitz Water to
give battle. It was evident that they could have had no idea that
he was pressing on so rapidly, or they would never have established
their bakery so far in advance, and protected by so small a force.

He lost no time in taking advantage of their carelessness, but sent
a regiment of cavalry to seize the hills on both sides of the town;
then marched rapidly forward, burst in the gates, and hurled the
Croats in utter confusion from Neumarkt, while the cavalry dashed
down and cut off their retreat. One hundred and twenty of them were
killed, and five hundred and seventy taken prisoners. In the town
the Austrian bakery was found to be in full work, and eighty
thousand bread rations, still hot, were ready for delivery.

This initial success, and the unexpected treat of hot bread, raised
the spirits of the troops greatly, and was looked upon as a happy
augury.

Two or three hours before Neumarkt had been captured, the Austrian
army was crossing the river, and presently received the unpleasant
news of what had happened. Surprised at the news that the Prussians
were so near, their generals at once set to work to choose a good
position. This was not a difficult task, for the country was
swampy, with little wooded rises and many villages.

They planted their right wing at the village of Nypern, which was
practically unapproachable on account of deep peat bogs. Their
centre was at a larger village named Leuthen, their left at
Sagschuetz. The total length of its front was about six miles.

The Prussians started before daybreak next morning in four columns,
Frederick riding on ahead with the vanguard. When near Borne, some
eight miles from Neumarkt, he caught sight in the dim light of a
considerable body of horse, stretching across the road in front of
him as far as he could make out the line. The Prussian cavalry were
at once ordered to charge down on their left flank.

The enemy proved to be five regiments of cavalry, placed there to
guard the army from surprise. They, however, were themselves
surprised; and were at once overthrown, and driven in headlong
flight to take shelter behind their right wing at Nypern, five
hundred and forty being taken prisoners, and a large number being
killed or wounded.

Frederick rode on through Borne, ascended a small hill called the
Scheuberg, to the right of the road, and as the light increased
could, from that point, make out the Austrian army drawn up in
battle array, and stretching from Nypern to Sagschuetz. Well was it
for him that he had reviewed troops over the same ground, and knew
all the bogs and morasses that guarded the Austrian front. For a
long time he sat there on horseback, studying the possibilities of
the situation.

The Austrian right he regarded as absolutely impregnable. Leuthen
might be attacked with some chance of success, but Sagschuetz
offered by far the most favourable opening for attack. The
formation of the ground offered special facilities for the movement
being effected without the Austrians being aware of what was taking
place, for there was a depression behind the swells and broken
ground in front of the Austrian centre, by which the Prussians
could march from Borne, unseen by the enemy, until they approached
Sagschuetz.

It was three hours after Frederick had taken up his place before
the four columns had all reached Borne. As soon as they were in
readiness there, they were ordered to march with all speed as far
as Radaxford, thence to march in oblique order against the Austrian
left.

The Austrians, all this time, could observe a group of horsemen on
the hill, moving sometimes this way sometimes that, but more than
this they could not see. The conjectures were various, as hour
passed after hour. Daun believed that the Prussians must have
marched away south, with the intention of falling upon the
magazines in Bohemia, and that the cavalry seen moving along the
hills were placed there to defend the Prussians from being taken in
flank, or in rear, while thus marching. General Lucchesi, who
commanded the Austrian right wing, was convinced that the cavalry
formed the Prussian right wing, and that the whole army, concealed
behind the slopes, was marching to fall upon him.

In the belfry of the church at Leuthen, on the tops of windmills,
and on other points of vantage, Austrian generals with their staffs
were endeavouring to obtain a glimpse beyond those tiresome swells,
and to discover what was going on behind them, but in vain. There
were the cavalry, moving occasionally from crest to crest, but
nothing beyond that.

Lucchesi got more and more uneasy, and sent message after message
to headquarters that he was about to be attacked, and must have a
large reinforcement of horse. The prince and Daun at first scoffed
at the idea, knowing that the bogs in front of Nypern were
impassable; but at last he sent a message to the effect that, if
the cavalry did not come, he would not be responsible for the
issue.

It was thought, therefore, that he must have some good ground for
his insistence; and Daun sent off the reserve of horse, and several
other regiments drawn from the left wing, and himself went off at a
trot, at their head, to see what was the matter.

It was just as he started that the Prussians--with their music
playing, and the men singing:

Gieb dass ich thu mit fleiss was mir zu thun gebuhret
(Grant that with zeal and strength this day I do)

had passed Radaxford and reached Lobetintz, and were about to
advance in an oblique line to the attack. The king saw with delight
the removal of so large a body of horse from the very point against
which his troops would, in half an hour, be hurling themselves.
Nothing could have suited his plans better.

At a rapid pace, and with a precision and order as perfect as if
upon level ground, suddenly the Prussians poured over the swells on
the flank of Sagschuetz. Nadasti, who commanded the Austrians
there, was struck with astonishment at the spectacle of the
Prussian army, which he believed to be far away, pouring down on
his flank. The heads of the four columns, the artillery, and
Ziethen's cavalry appeared simultaneously, marching swiftly and
making no pause.

Being a good general, he lost not a moment in endeavouring to meet
the storm. His left was thrown back a little, a battery of fourteen
guns at the angle so formed opened fire, and he launched his
cavalry against that of Ziethen. For the moment Ziethen's men were
pushed back, but the fire from an infantry battalion, close by,
checked the Austrian horse. They fell back out of range, and
Ziethen, making a counter charge, drove them away.

In the meantime the Prussian infantry, as they advanced, poured a
storm of fire upon the Austrian line, aided by a battery of ten
heavy guns that Prince Maurice, who commanded here, had planted on
a rise. A clump of fir trees, held by Croats in advance of the
Austrian line, was speedily cleared; and then the Prussians broke
down the abattis that protected the enemy's front, charged
furiously against the infantry, and drove these before them,
capturing Nadasti's battery.

In ten minutes after the beginning of the fight, the position of
the Austrian left was already desperate. The whole Prussian army
was concentrated against it and, being on its flank, crumpled the
line up as it advanced. Prince Karl's aides-de-camp galloped at the
top of their speed to bring Daun and the cavalry back again, and
Austrian battalions from the centre were hurried down to aid
Nadasti's, but were impeded by the retreating troops; and the
confusion thickened, until it was brought to a climax by Ziethen's
horse, which had been unable to act until now. But fir wood,
quagmire, and abattis had all been passed by the Prussians, and
they dashed into the mass, sabring and trampling down, and taking
whole battalions prisoners.

Prince Karl exerted himself to the utmost to check the Prussian
advance. Batteries were brought up and advantageously posted at
Leuthen, heavy bodies of infantry occupied the village and its
church, and took post so as to present a front to the advancing
tide. Another quarter of an hour and the battle might have been
retrieved; but long before the dispositions were all effected, the
Prussians were at hand.


[Map: Battle of Leuthen]


Nevertheless, by great diligence the Austrians had to some extent
succeeded. Leuthen was the centre of the new position. Lucchesi was
hastening up, while Nadasti swung backwards and tried, as he
arrived, to form the left flank of the new position. All this was
being done under a storm of shot from the whole of the Prussian
artillery, which was so terrible that many battalions fell into
confusion as fast as they arrived.

Leuthen, a straggling hamlet of over a mile in length, and with two
or three streets of scattered houses, barns, farm buildings, and
two churches, was crowded with troops; ready to fight but unable to
do so, line being jammed upon line until sometimes a hundred deep,
pressed constantly behind by freshly arriving battalions, and in
front by the advancing Prussians. Some regiments were almost
without officers.

Into this confused, straggling, helpless mass, prevented from
opening out by the houses and inclosures, the Prussians, ever
keeping their formation, poured their volleys with terrible effect;
in such fashion as Drake's perfectly-handled ships poured their
broadsides into the huge helpless Spanish galleons at Gravelines.
With a like dogged courage as that shown by the Spanish, the
Austrian masses suffered almost passively, while those occupying
the houses and churches facing the Prussians resisted valiantly and
desperately. From every window, every wall, their musketry fire
flashed out; the resistance round the churchyard being specially
stubborn. The churchyard had a high and strong wall, and so
terrible was the fire from the roof of the church, and other spots
of advantage, that the tide of Prussian victory was arrested for a
time.

At last they made a rush. The churchyard gate was burst in, and the
Austrians driven out. Leuthen was not yet won, but Frederick now
brought up the left wing, which had till this time been held in
reserve. These came on with levelled bayonets, and rushed into the
fight.

The king was, as always, in the thick of the battle; giving his
orders as coolly as if at a review, sending fresh troops where
required, changing the arrangements as opportunity offered, keeping
the whole machine in due order; and by his presence animating all
with the determination to win or die, and an almost equal readiness
to accept either alternative.

At last, after an hour's stubborn resistance, the Austrians were
hurled out of Leuthen, still sternly resisting, still contesting
every foot of the ground. Lucchesi now saw an opportunity of
retrieving, with his great cavalry force, the terrible consequences
of his own blunder, and led them impetuously down upon the flank of
the Prussians. But Frederick had prepared for such a stroke; and
had placed Draisen, with the left wing of the cavalry, in a hollow
sheltered from the fire of the Austrian batteries, and bade him do
nothing, attempt nothing, but cover the right flank of the infantry
from the Austrian horse. He accordingly let Lucchesi charge down
with his cavalry, and then rushed out on his rear, and fell
suddenly and furiously upon him.

Astounded at this sudden and unexpected attack, and with their
ranks swept by a storm of Prussian bullets, the Austrian cavalry
broke and fled in all directions, Lucchesi having paid for his
fault by dying, fighting to the last. His duty thus performed,
Draisen was free to act, and fell upon the flank and rear of the
Austrian infantry; and in a few minutes the battle was over, and
the Austrians in full retreat.

They made, however, another attempt to stand at Saara; but it was
hopeless, and they were soon pushed backwards again and, hotly
pressed, poured over the four bridges across the Schweidnitz river,
and for the most part continued their flight to Breslau. Until the
Austrians had crossed the river the Prussian cavalry were on their
rear, sabring and taking prisoners, while the infantry were halted
at Saara, the sun having now set.

Exhausted as they were by their work, which had begun at midnight
and continued until now without pause or break, not yet was their
task completely done. The king, riding up the line, asked if any
battalion would volunteer to follow him to Lissa, a village on the
river bank. Three battalions stepped out. The landlord of the
little inn, carrying a lantern, walked by the king's side.

As they approached the village, ten or twelve musket shots flashed
out in the fields to the right. They were aimed at the lantern, but
no one was hurt. There were other shots from Lissa, and it was
evident that the village was still not wholly evacuated.

The infantry rushed forward, scattered through the fields, and
drove out the lurking Croats. The king rode quietly on into the
village, and entered the principal house. To his astonishment, he
found it full of Austrian officers, who could easily have carried
him off, his infantry being still beyond the village. They had but
a small force remaining there and, believing that the Prussians had
halted for the night at Saara, they were as much astonished as
Frederick at his entrance. The king had the presence of mind to
hide his surprise.

"Good evening, gentlemen!" he said. "Is there still room left for
me, do you think?"

The Austrian officers, supposing, of course, that he had a large
force outside, bowed deeply, escorted him to the best room in the
house, and then slipped out at the back, collected what troops they
could as they went, and hurried across the bridge. The Prussians
were not long in entering, and very speedily cleared out the rest
of the Austrians. They then crossed the bridge, and with a few guns
followed in pursuit.

The army at Saara, on hearing the firing, betook itself again to
arms and marched to the king's assistance, the twenty-five thousand
men and their bands again joining in the triumphant hymn, "Nun
danket alle Gott," as they tramped through the darkness. When they
arrived at Lissa they found that all was safe, and bivouacked in
the fields.

Never was there a greater or more surprising victory, never one in
which the military genius of the commander was more strikingly
shown. The Austrians were in good heart. They were excellent
soldiers and brave, well provided with artillery, and strongly
placed; and yet they were signally defeated by a force little over
one-third their number. Had there been two more hours of daylight,
the Austrians would have been not only routed but altogether
crushed. Their loss was ten thousand left on the field, of whom
three thousand were killed. Twelve thousand were taken prisoners,
and one hundred and sixteen cannon captured.

To this loss must be added that of seventeen thousand prisoners
taken when Breslau surrendered, twelve days later, together with a
vast store of cannon and ammunition, including everything taken so
shortly before from Bevern. Liegnitz surrendered, and the whole of
Silesia, with the exception only of Schweidnitz, was again wrested
from the Austrians. Thus in killed, wounded, and prisoners the loss
of the Austrians amounted to as much as the total force of the
Prussians.

The latter lost in killed eleven hundred and forty one, and in
wounded about five thousand. Prince Maurice, upon whose division
the brunt of the battle had fallen, was promoted to the rank of
field marshal.

Fergus Drummond had been with the king throughout that terrible
day. Until the battle began his duties had been light, being
confined to the carrying of orders to Prince Maurice; after which
he took his place among the staff and, dismounting, chatted with
his acquaintances while Karl held his horse.

When, however, the fir tree wood was carried, and the king rode
forward and took his place there during the attack upon the
Austrian position at Sagschuetz, matters became more lively. The
balls from the Austrian batteries sung overhead, and sent branches
flying and trees crashing down. Sagschuetz won, the king followed
the advancing line, and the air was alive with bullets and case
shot.


[Illustration: The roar of battle was so tremendous that his
horse was well-nigh unmanageable]


After that Fergus knew little more of the battle, being incessantly
employed in carrying orders through the thick of it to generals
commanding brigades, and even to battalions. The roar of battle was
so tremendous that his horse, maddened with the din and the sharp
whiz of the bullets, at times was well-nigh unmanageable, and
occupied his attention almost to the exclusion of other thoughts;
especially after it had been struck by a bullet in the hind
quarters, and had come to understand that those strange and
maddening noises meant danger.

Not until after all was over was Fergus aware of the escapes he had
had. A bullet had cut away an ornament from his headdress, one of
his reins had been severed at a distance of an inch or two from his
hand, a bullet had pierced the tail of his coatee and buried itself
in the cantle of his saddle, and the iron guard of his claymore had
been pierced. However, on his return to the king after carrying a
despatch, he was able to curb his own excitement and that of his
horse, and to make the formal military salute as he reported, in a
calm and quiet voice, that he had carried out the orders with which
he had been charged.

It was with great gratification that he heard the king say that
evening, as he and his staff supped together at the inn at Lissa:

"You have done exceedingly well today, Captain Drummond. I am very
pleased with you. You were always at my elbow when I wanted you,
and I observed that you were never flurried or excited; though
indeed, there would have been good excuse for a young soldier being
so, in such a hurly burly. You are over young for further
promotion, for a year or two; but I must find some other way of
testifying my satisfaction at your conduct."

And, indeed, when the list of promotions for bravery in the field
was published, a few days later, Fergus's name appeared among those
who received the decoration of the Prussian military order, an
honour fully as much valued as promotion.

For a time he lost the service of Karl, who had been seriously
although not dangerously wounded, just before the Austrians were
driven out of Leuthen.

The news of the battle filled the Confederates with stupefaction
and dismay. Prince Karl was at once recalled, and was relieved from
military employment, Daun being appointed to the supreme command.
The Prince withdrew to his government of the Netherlands, and there
passed the remainder of his days in peace and quiet. His army was
hunted by Ziethen's cavalry to Koeniggraetz, losing two thousand
prisoners and a large amount of baggage; and thirty-seven thousand
men only, of the eighty thousand that stood in battle array at
Leuthen, reached the sheltering walls of the fortress, and those in
so dilapidated and worn out a condition that, by the end of a week
after arriving there, no less than twenty-two thousand were in
hospital.

Thus, after eight months of constant and weary anxiety, Frederick,
by the two heavy blows he had dealt successfully at the
Confederates, stood in a far better position than he had occupied
at the opening of the first campaign; when, as his enemies fondly
believed, Prussia would be captured and divided without the
smallest difficulty.

Frederick wintered at Breslau, whither came many visitors from
Prussia, and there was a constant round of gaieties and festivity.
Frederick himself desired nothing so much as peace. Once or twice
there had been some faint hope that this might be brought about by
his favourite sister, Wilhelmina, who had been ceaseless in her
efforts to effect it; but the two empresses and the Pompadour were
alike bent on avenging themselves on the king, and the reverses
that they had suffered but increased their determination to
overwhelm him.

Great as Frederick's success had been, it did not blind him to the
fact that his position was almost hopeless. When the war began, he
had an army of a hundred and fifty thousand of the finest soldiers
in the world. The two campaigns had made frightful gaps in their
ranks. At Prague he had fought with eighty thousand men, at Leuthen
he had but thirty thousand. His little kingdom could scarcely
supply men to fill the places of those who had fallen, while his
enemies had teeming populations from which to gather ample
materials for fresh armies. It seemed, even to his hopeful spirit,
that all this could have but one ending; and that each success,
however great, weakened him more than his adversaries.

The winter's rest was, however, most welcome. For the moment there
was nothing to plan, nothing to do, save to order that the drilling
of the fresh levies should go on incessantly; in order that some,
at least, of the terrible gaps in the army might be filled up
before the campaign commenced in the spring.

1758 began badly, for early in January the Russians were on the
move. The empress had dismissed, and ordered to be tried by court
martial, the general who had done so little the previous year; had
appointed Field Marshal Fermor to command in his place, and ordered
him to advance instantly and to annex East Prussia in her name.

On the 16th of January he crossed the frontier, and six days later
entered Koenigsberg and issued a proclamation to the effect that
his august sovereign had now become mistress of East Prussia, and
that all men of official or social position must at once take the
oath of allegiance to her.

East Prussia had been devastated the year before by marauders, and
its hatred of Russia was intense; but the people were powerless to
resist. Some fled, leaving all behind them; but the majority were
forced to take the required oath, and for a time East Prussia
became a Russian province. Nevertheless its young men constantly
slipped away, when opportunity offered, to join the Prussian army;
and moneys were frequently collected by the impoverished people to
despatch to Frederick, to aid him in his necessities.

A far greater assistance was the English subsidy of 670,000 pounds,
which was paid punctually for four years, and was of supreme
service to him. It was spent thriftily, and of all the enormous
sums expended by this country in subsidizing foreign powers, none
was ever laid out to a tenth of the advantage of the 2,680,000
pounds given to Frederick.

In the north the campaign also opened early. Ferdinand of Brunswick
bestirred himself, defeated the French signally at Krefeld, and
drove them headlong across the Rhine. Frederick, too, took the
field early, and on the 15th of March moved from Breslau upon
Schweidnitz. The siege began on the 1st of April, and on the 16th
the place surrendered. Four thousand nine hundred prisoners of war
were taken, with fifty-one guns and 7000 pounds in money.

Three days later Frederick, with forty thousand men, was off;
deceived Daun as to his intentions, entered Moravia, and besieged
Olmuetz. Keith was with him again, and Fergus had returned to his
staff. The march was conducted with the marvellous precision and
accuracy that characterized all Frederick's movements, but Olmuetz
was a strong place and stoutly defended.

The Prussian engineers, who did not shine at siege work, opened
their trenches eight hundred yards too far away. The magazines were
too far off, and Daun, who as usual carefully abstained from giving
battle, so cut up the convoys that, after five weeks of vain
endeavours, the king was obliged to raise the siege; partly owing
to the loss of the convoy that would have enabled him to take the
town, which was now at its last extremity; and partly that he knew
that the Russians were marching against Brandenburg.

He made a masterly retreat, struck a heavy blow at Daun by
capturing and destroying his principal magazine, and then took up a
very strong position near Koeniggraetz. Here he could have
maintained himself against all Daun's assaults, for his position
was one that Daun had himself held and strongly fortified; but the
news from the north was of so terrible a nature that he was forced
to hurry thither.

The Cossacks, as the Russian army advanced, were committing most
horrible atrocities; burning towns and villages, tossing men and
women into the fire, plundering and murdering everywhere; and the
very small Prussian force that was watching them was powerless to
check the swarming marauders.

Frederick therefore, evading Daun's attempts to arrest his march,
crossed the mountains into Silesia again. At Landshut he gave his
army two days' rest; wrote and sent a paper to his brother Prince
Henry, who was commander of the army defending Saxony from
invasion, telling him that he was on the point of marching against
the Russians and might well be killed; and giving him orders as to
the course to be pursued, in such an event.

He left Keith, in command of forty thousand men, to hold Daun in
check should the latter advance against Silesia; and he again took
Fergus with him, finding the young officer's talk a pleasant means
of taking his mind off the troubles that beset him.

In nine days the army, which was but fifteen thousand strong,
marched from Landshut to Frankfort-on-Oder. Here the king learned
that though Kuestrin, which the Russians were besieging, still held
out, the town had been barbarously destroyed by the enemy.

In fierce anger the army pressed forward. The Russian army itself,
officers and men, were indignant in the extreme at the brutalities
committed by the Cossacks, but were powerless to restrain them; for
indeed these ruffians did not hesitate to attack and kill any
officer who ventured to interfere between them and their victims.

The next morning, early, Frederick reached the camp of his general
Dohna; who had been watching, although unable to interfere with the
Russians' proceedings. The king had a profound contempt for the
Russians, in spite of the warning of Keith, who had served with
them, that they were far better soldiers than they appeared to be;
and he anticipated a very easy victory over them.

Early on the 22nd of August the army from Frankfort arrived.
Dohna's strength was numerically about the same as the king's, and
with his thirty thousand men Frederick had no doubt that he would
make but short work of the eighty thousand Russians, of whom some
twenty-seven thousand were the Cossack rabble, who were not worth
being considered, in a pitched battle. Deceiving the Russians as to
his intentions by opening a heavy cannonade on one of their
redoubts, as if intending to ford the river there, he crossed that
evening twelve miles lower down and, after some manoeuvring, faced
the Russians, who had at once broken up the siege on hearing of his
passage.

Fermor sent away his baggage train to a small village called
Kleinkalmin, and planted himself on a moor, where his front was
covered by quagmires and the Zaborn stream. Hearing, late at night
on the evening of the 24th, that Frederick was likely to be upon
them the next morning, the Russian general drew out into the open
ground north of Zorndorf, which stands on a bare rise surrounded by
woods and quagmires, and formed his army into a great square, two
miles long by one broad, with his baggage in the middle--a
formation which had been found excellent by the Russians in their
Turkish wars, but which was by no means well adapted to meet
Frederick's methods of impetuous attack. Being ignorant as to the
side upon which Frederick was likely to attack, and having decided
to stand on the defensive, he adopted the methods most familiar to
him.

Frederick had cut all the bridges across the rivers Warta and Oder,
and believed that he should, after defeating the Russians, drive
them into the angle formed by the junction of these two streams,
and cause them to surrender at discretion. Unfortunately, he had
not heard that the great Russian train had been sent to
Kleinkalmin. Had he done so he could have seized it, and so have
possessed himself of the Russian stores and all their munitions of
war, and have forced them to surrender without a blow; for the
Cossacks had wasted the country far and wide, and deprived it of
all resources. But he and his army were so burning with
indignation, and the desire to avenge the Cossack cruelties, that
they made no pause, and marched in all haste right round the
Russian position, so as to drive them back towards the junction of
the two rivers.


[Map: Battle of Zorndorf]


Fermor's Cossacks brought him in news of Frederick's movements,
which were hidden from him by the forests; and seeing that he was
to be attacked on the Zorndorf side, instead of from that on which
he had expected it to come, he changed his front, and swung round
the line containing his best troops to meet it.

On arriving at Zorndorf, Frederick found that the Cossacks had
already set the village on fire. This was no disadvantage to him,
for the smoke of the burning houses rolled down towards the
Russians, and so prevented them from making observation of the
Prussian movements. The king rode up to the edge of the Zaborn
hollow and, finding it too deep and boggy to be crossed, determined
to attack at the southwest with his left and centre, placing his
cavalry in rear, and throwing back his right wing.

The first division marched forward to the attack, by the west end
of the flaming village. The next division, which should have been
its support, marched by the east end of Zorndorf. Its road was a
longer one, and there was consequently a wide gap between the two
divisions. Heralded by the fire of two strong batteries--which
swept the southwestern corner of the Russian quadrilateral, their
crossfire ploughing its ranks with terrible effect--the first
division, under Manteufel, fell upon the enemy.

The fire of the Prussian batteries had sorely shaken the Russians,
and had produced lively agitation among the horses of the light
baggage train in the centre of the square; and, heralding their
advance with a tremendous fire of musketry, the Prussian infantry
forced its way into the mass. Had the second division been close at
hand, as it should have been, the victory would already have been
won; but although also engaged it was not near, and Fermor poured
out a torrent of horse and foot upon Manteufel's flank and front.
Without support, and surrounded, the Prussians could do nothing,
and were swept back, losing twenty-four pieces of cannon; while the
Russians, with shouts of victory, pressed upon them.

At this critical moment Seidlitz, with five thousand horse, dashed
down upon the disordered mass of Russians, casting it into
irretrievable confusion. At the same time the infantry rallied and
pressed forward again.

In fifteen minutes the whole Russian army was a confused mass.
Fermor, with the Russian horse, fled to Kratsdorf and, had not the
bridge there been burnt by Frederick, he would have made off,
leaving his infantry to their fate. These should now, according to
all rules, have surrendered; but they proved unconquerable save by
death. Seidlitz's cavalry sabred them until fatigued by slaughter,
the Prussian infantry poured their volleys into them, but they
stood immovable and passive, dying where they stood.

At one o'clock in the day the battle ceased for a moment. The
Prussians had marched at three in the morning and, seeing that
although half the Russian army had been destroyed, the other half
had gradually arranged itself into a fresh front of battle,
Frederick formed his forces again, and brought up his right wing
for the attack on the side of the Russian quadrilateral which still
stood. Forward they went, their batteries well in advance; but
before the infantry came within musket range, the Russian horse and
foot rushed forward to the attack, and with such force that they
captured one of the batteries, took a whole battalion prisoners,
and broke the centre.

Here were the regiments of Dohna, perfectly clean and well
accoutred; but, being less accustomed to war than Frederick's
veterans, they gave way at once before the Russian onslaught and,
in spite of Frederick's efforts to prevent them, fled from the
field and could not be rallied until a mile distant from it.

The veterans stood firm, however; until Seidlitz, returning from
pursuit, again hurled his horsemen upon the Russian masses, broke
them up, and drove their cavalry in headlong flight before him.



Chapter 12: Another Step.


The Russian infantry being involved in the turmoil and confusion
caused by the charge of Seidlitz, and the defeat of their cavalry,
the Prussian infantry again pressed forward, pouring in a heavy
fire and charging with the bayonet. Three battalions had been drawn
from this very country and, maddened by the tales they had heard of
Cossack cruelty, were not to be denied. The Russians, however,
keeping their ranks, filling up the gaps as they were formed, and
returning as best they could the fire of the Prussians, held
together with sullen obstinacy. By this time the ammunition on both
sides was exhausted, and now the struggle became hand to hand,
bayonet against bayonet, butt end of musket to butt end.

Seldom has so terrible a struggle ever been witnessed. Nightfall
was approaching. Foot by foot the inert Russian mass was pushed
backwards. One of their generals, Demikof, collected some two
thousand foot and a thousand horse, and took possession of a knoll;
and Frederick ordered them to be dispersed again. Forcade was
ordered to attack them with two battalions, and General Rutter to
bring up the Dohna men again and take them in flank; but the latter
had not recovered from their state of demoralization, and at the
first cannon shot turned and ran, continuing their flight even
further than before, and taking refuge in the woods. Frederick
instantly dismissed Rutter from the service.

Then, as night had completely fallen, the terrible conflict ceased.
Fermor by this time, finding that there was no crossing the rivers,
had returned. No regiment or battalion of his army remained in
order. There was but a confused crowd, which the officers did their
best to form into some sort of order, regardless of regiment or
battalion. The Cossacks scoured the fields under the cover of
night, plundering the dead and murdering the wounded, flames
marking their path. Four hundred of them were caught at their work
by the Prussian hussars, and every one killed.

Frederick sent for his tents, and the army pitched its camp, facing
the Russians; but during the night the latter, having got into a
sort of order, moved away to the westward and bivouacked on Drewitz
Heath, facing the battle ground.

Fermor had some twenty-eight thousand men still with him, while
Frederick had eighteen thousand. The former's loss had been
twenty-one thousand, five hundred and twenty-nine killed, wounded,
or missing; of whom eight thousand were killed. That of the
Prussians was eleven thousand, three hundred and ninety, of whom
three thousand six hundred and eighty were killed. Thus each side
lost a third of its number in this terrible struggle.

The next morning the Russians got into better order, and drew up in
order of battle. A cannonade was for some time kept up on both
sides, but the armies were beyond range of artillery.

Neither party had any real thoughts of fighting. Fermor, beaten on
his own ground the day before, could not dream of attacking the
Prussians. The latter were worn out by the fatigues of the previous
day. Moreover, on each side the musketry ammunition was used up.
The hussars, pursuing the Cossacks, had in the night come upon the
Russian waggon train at Kleim, and carried off a good deal of
portable plunder.

The next morning, under cover of a fog, the Russians retreated,
reached their baggage, and then moved slowly away; and, harassed by
Dohna, sullenly continued their retreat to the Russian frontier. If
Frederick could have pressed them, he would probably have won
another victory; but he had news which called him to hasten away
west to join Prince Henry, as his presence there was urgently
required for the defence of Saxony.

Fergus had been with the king, when the Dohna regiments gave way
before the impetuous charge of the Russians; the rest of the staff
having been sent away, one after the other, either to bring up
Seidlitz or to order a fresh movement among the infantry; and as
the king rode down to endeavour to restore order, he followed
closely behind him. The confusion was terrible. The Russian horse,
mixed up with the infantry, were sabring and trampling them down.

Suddenly three of them dashed at the king. Fergus, setting spurs to
his horse, interposed between them and Frederick. One of the
Russians was ridden over, horse and man, by the impetus of his
rush. The other two attacked him furiously, and for a moment he was
very hard pressed. He kept his horse prancing and curvetting, and
managed to keep both his assailants on his right; until at last he
cut one down and, half a minute later, ran the other through the
body.

"Gallantly done, Major Drummond," the king said quietly as,
wheeling his horse, Fergus returned back to take his post behind
him. "I shall not forget that you have saved my life."

Then, without further comment, Frederick continued his work trying
to rally the infantry; ordering, entreating, and even laying the
cane he always carried across their shoulders.

A minute later there was a thunder of hoofs, and Seidlitz burst
down upon the Russian mass, changing in a moment the fate of the
battle. Excited by the late encounter, Fergus's horse took its bit
between its teeth, joined Seidlitz's cavalry as they swept past
and, in spite of the efforts of its rider, plunged with him into
the midst of the fight. For the next few minutes Fergus had but
slight knowledge of what was going on, he being engaged in a series
of hand-to-hand fights with both cavalry and infantry. Three times
he was wounded, and then the pressure ceased, and he was again
galloping across the moors in pursuit of the Russian horse.

It was not until Seidlitz's force drew rein that he recovered the
control of his horse. Its flank was bleeding from a bayonet gash,
and a bullet had gone through its neck. The first wound was of
comparatively small consequence, but he feared that the other was
serious; but though the horse panted from its exertion and
excitement, its breath came regularly; and it was evident that the
ball had not hit the spine, for had it done so it would have fallen
at once.

He turned and rode back with the cavalry, who dismounted a short
distance from the scene of action, in readiness to take their part
again, should they be required; while he pursued his way to the
spot where the king had stationed himself, surrounded by several of
his staff. The king glanced at him, and then said:

"You are relieved from duty, Major Drummond. Let one of the
surgeons see to you, at once."

Fergus rode but a short distance and then, turning suddenly faint,
he slid from his horse to the ground. One of the staff, happening
to look round, at once rode back to him.

"You had best let me bandage up your wounds roughly," he said. "It
will be difficult to find a surgeon, now that they are all up to
their eyes in work, somewhere in the rear."

Fergus had received two severe wounds in the face, and a bayonet
thrust through his leg. The officer did his best to stanch the
bleeding, and was still occupied in doing so when Karl rode up,
jumped from his horse, and ran to his master's side.

"Where have you been, Karl?" Fergus asked, for the soldier had also
received a severe wound in the head.

"I followed you, master, as in duty bound; but I was some distance
behind you, and in that melee I could not get near you; and being
mixed up with one of the squadrons, I did not see you as you came
back, and was in a great state about you until, on riding up to the
staff, one of the officers pointed you out to me."

"I think that you are in good hands now," the officer said. "I will
join the king again."

Fergus thanked him warmly, but in a weak voice.

"The first thing, master, is for you to get a drink," Karl said;
and he took, from the holster of Fergus's saddle, a flask that he
had placed there that morning. "Take a good drink of this," he
said, "then I will see to your wounds. It is plain enough to see
that that officer knew nothing about them."

Fergus drank half of the contents of the flask, and then handed it
to Karl.

"You finish it up," he said. "You want it as much as I do."

"Not so much, master; but I want it badly enough, I own."

Having drank, he proceeded to rebandage his master's wounds, first
laying on them rolls of lint he took from his own saddlebag.

"I never go on a campaign without lint and a bandage or two," he
said. "Many a life has been lost that might easily enough have been
saved, had they been at hand."

He laid the lint on the wounds, and then bound them firmly and
evenly. He had a bandage left, when he had finished this. With the
aid of a man who was limping to the rear, he used it for stanching
his own wounds.

"Well, master," he said, "you cannot do better than lie here, for
the present. I will look after the horses, and fasten them up to
that bush. The battle is going on as fiercely as ever, and looks as
if it would go on until dark. If so, there will be no collecting
the wounded tonight; but as soon as I see where the king bivouacs,
I will get you there somehow."

"I shall do very well here--at any rate, for the present, Karl. In
the meantime, it would be a good thing if you would take the two
horses down to the brook, and give them a good drink. You mayn't
get a chance later on. As my horse Turk is wounded in two places, I
have no doubt the poor beast is as thirsty as I am."

"The bayonet wound is of no consequence," Karl said, after
examining the horse's flanks; "except that it has taken a good bit
off its value. I don't think this bullet wound through the neck is
serious, either."

In an hour Karl returned, leading the horses.

"I feel all the better for a wash, captain. I wish you could have
one, too. I have filled my water bottle, but you will want that
before morning."

By means of the valises and cloaks, Fergus was propped up into a
half-sitting position; and he remained where he was until, after
nightfall, the din of battle ceased. He had eaten a few mouthfuls
of bread, and felt stronger; and by the time the tents were
pitched, and the bivouac fires lighted, he was able to stand. With
Karl's assistance he mounted in side-saddle fashion and, Karl
leading the horses, made for the tents of the king's staff, five
hundred yards away. Captain Diedrich, the officer who shared the
tent with Fergus, helped Karl to lift him down and carry him in.

"Do you want a surgeon to see you?"

"No, they must have thousands of serious cases on hand. I merely
fainted from loss of blood. The two wounds in my head cannot be
very serious, and Karl has bandaged them up as well as a surgeon
could do. The worst wound is in my leg. The bayonet went right
through it, and for a moment pinned it to the saddle. However, it
is but a flesh wound, behind the bone about six inches below the
knee. It bled very freely at first, but Karl stanched it, and it
has not burst out since; so it is evident that no great harm is
done."

"I will bring you in some wine and water now," Diedrich said. "They
are getting supper, and I will send you a bowl of soup, as soon as
it is ready."

After Karl had tethered the horses--that of Fergus with the others
belonging to the staff, and his own with those of the escort and
staff orderlies--he sat down at one of the fires, ate his
supper--for each man carried three days' provisions in his
haversack--and, chatting with his comrades, heard that several of
the orderlies had been killed in the fight; and that four of the
officers of the royal staff had also fallen under the enemy's fire,
as they carried messages through the storm of case shot and
bullets. All agreed that never had they seen so terrible a fight,
and that well-nigh a third, if not more, of the army had been
killed or wounded.

"We made a mistake about these Russians," one of the troopers said.
"They are dirty, and they don't even look like soldiers, but I
never saw such obstinate beggars to fight. From the moment the
cavalry made their first charge they were beaten, and ought to have
given in; but they seemed to know nothing about it, and that second
line of theirs charged as if it was but the beginning of a battle.
I was never so surprised in my life as when they poured down on us,
horse and foot; but all that was nothing to the way they stood,
afterwards. If they had been bags of sawdust they could not have
been more indifferent to our fire.

"That was a bad business of Dohna's men. I thought, when we joined
them, they looked too spick and span to be any good; but that they
should run, almost as fast and far as the men of the Federal army
at Rossbach, is shameful. Neither in the last war nor in this has a
Prussian soldier so disgraced himself.

"I don't envy them. I don't suppose a man in the army will speak to
them, and we may be sure that it will be a long time, indeed,
before our Fritz gets over it. It will need some hard fighting, and
something desperate in the way of bravery, before he forgives them.

"How is your master, Karl?"

"He will do. He has got three wounds, and lost a lot of blood; but
in a fortnight he will be in the saddle again. Perhaps less, for he
is as hard as steel."

"He saved the king's life, Karl. I was twenty yards away, and was
wedged in so that there was no moving, except backwards; for
Dohna's men were half mad with fright, and the Russians were
cutting and slashing in the middle of us."

"I saw it," Karl said. "I was close to you at the time. I put spurs
to my horse and rode over three or four of our own men, and cut
down one who grasped my reins; but I got there too late. I had no
great fear of the result, though. Why, you know, he killed six
Pomeranians who were looting Count Eulenfurst's place, close to
Dresden; and he made short work of those three Russians. It was
done beautifully, too. They tried to get one on each side of him,
but he kept them on his right, and that made a safe thing of it.

"He is a quiet, good-tempered officer. There is as much fun about
him as a boy, but when his spirit is up, there are not many
swordsmen in the army that could match him. Why, when he first
joined, nearly three years ago, he was in the 3rd Royal Dragoons,
my own regiment; and I heard the sergeant who was in the fencing
room say that there was not an officer in the regiment who was a
match for him with the sword.

"Now I have finished my pipe, and must be going to look after him
again."

The king's surgeon examined Fergus's wounds the next morning, and
said that, although he would not be able to sit a horse until his
leg had healed, he would otherwise soon be convalescent.

Soon after he had left him, Sir John Mitchell came in to see him.
As the English ambassador had very often, during the last two
winters, met Fergus in the king's apartments, at which he himself
was a regular visitor, they were by this time well known to each
other. Mitchell, indeed, regarded Fergus as a valuable assistant in
his work of interesting Frederick, and turning his mind from his
many troubles and anxieties.

"The surgeon has just given a good account of you to the king,
Drummond," he said; "and his majesty expressed much satisfaction at
hearing that your wounds are not serious.

"'That youth is not like most of your compatriots, Mitchell,' he
said to me with a smile; 'ever ready to fight, but equally ready to
join in a drinking bout, should opportunity offer. He is always on
horseback, and as hardy and as healthy as can be. With one of the
hard-drinking sort, fever might set in; but there is no risk of it
with him.

"'As I told you, he saved my life yesterday. I was nearly compelled
to take to my sword, but that would have been of little avail
against the three Russians. Save for the sake of Prussia, my life
is of no great value to me, for 'tis one full of care and trouble;
but for my country's sake I would fain hold on to it, as long as
there is hope for her deliverance from her enemies.

"'You can congratulate him on his promotion, Mitchell, for I made
him a major on the spot. It was a brilliant feat, as brilliant as
that which he performed at Lobositz, or that at Count Eulenfurst's
house at Dresden, each of which got him a step. 'Tis not often that
an officer gets thrice promoted for distinguished bravery. Each
time the feat was the talk of the whole army; and it will not be
less so at the present time, methinks, nor will any feel jealous at
his rapid rise.'"

"The king is too kind, your excellency."

"I do not think so, Drummond. I have marked you a good deal during
the last two years, and you have borne yourself well; and as a
Scotchman I am proud of you. You have the knack of your kinsman
Keith of entering into the king's humours; of being a bright
companion when he is in a good temper, and of holding your tongue
when he is put out; of expressing your opinion frankly, and yet
never familiarly; and your freshness and hopefulness often, I see,
cheer the king, whose Prussians cannot, for their lives, help being
stiff and formal, or get to talk with him as if he were a human
being like themselves.

"Next to Keith and myself, I think that there is no one with whom
the king can distract his mind so completely as with you. To him it
is like getting a whiff of the fresh air from our Scottish hills.
He told the surgeon to see that you were sent down with the first
batch of wounded officers."

The next day, accordingly, while the two armies were watching each
other and the cannon were growling, Fergus was taken down to
Frankfort.

Zorndorf was fought on the 25th of August; and on the 2nd of
September Frederick started with the army for Saxony, where Prince
Maurice had been sorely pressed by Daun and the newly-raised army
of the Confederates, and had had to take post on some heights a
short distance from Dresden.

"A bad job, major," Karl grumbled as he brought the news to Fergus,
who was quartered in a private house. "The king has gone to have a
slap at Daun; and here are we, left behind. If he would have waited
another fortnight, we might have been with him."

"Perhaps we shall get there in time yet, Karl. You may be sure that
as soon as Daun hears that the king is coming he will, as usual,
begin to fortify himself; and it will need no small amount of
marching and counter-marching to get him to come out and give
battle. He was slow and cautious before, but after Leuthen he is
likely to be doubly so.

"However, I will get a tailor here today to measure me for a new
uniform. What with blood, and your cutting my breeches to get at my
leg, I must certainly get a new outfit before I rejoin.

"I hope I shall be with the marshal again. It is a good deal more
lively with him than it is with the king's staff; who, although no
doubt excellent soldiers, are certainly not lively companions. I do
hope there will be no great battle until we get there. I should
think I might start in a week."

The surgeon, however, would not hear of this; and it was the end of
the third week in September before Fergus rode from Frankfort. The
news from the south was so far satisfactory that he had fidgeted
less than he would otherwise have done. Daun had, in fact, retired
hastily from Meissen, and had taken post in an almost impregnable
position at Stolpen. Neisse was being besieged and must be
relieved, but Daun now blocked Frederick's way at Stolpen, both to
that town and to Bautzen--cut him off, indeed, from Silesia, and
for the moment the royal army and that of Prince Maurice were lying
at Dresden. Fergus, therefore, was content to follow the doctor's
orders, and to spend four days on the journey down to Dresden.

Keith was there, and received him joyfully. Lindsay greeted him
vociferously.

"So you have gone up another step above me," he laughed. "Never was
a fellow with such luck as you have. Saved the king's life, I hear.
Tumbled over scores of Russians. Won the victory with your own
sword."

"Not quite as much as that, Lindsay," Fergus laughed. "The scores
of Cossacks come down to three, of whom one my horse tumbled over,
and I managed the other two. Still, although the battle was only
half finished when I was put out of all further part in it, I may
be said in one way to have won it; for had the king fallen, there
is no saying how matters might have gone. It is true that we could
not have lost it, for the Russians were past taking the offensive,
but it might have been a drawn battle."

"It was a terrible business," Lindsay said seriously. "As bad in
its way as Prague, that is to say in proportion to the numbers
engaged. Everyone says they would rather fight three Austrians than
one Russian. The marshal has rather scored off the king; for he
warned him that, though slow, the Russians were formidable foes,
but the king scoffed at the idea. He has found out now that he
greatly undervalued them, and has owned as much to Keith.

"I am sorry to say the marshal is not well. He suffers a good deal,
and I fancy that, after this campaign is over, he will ask to be
relieved from active duty in the field, and will take the command
of the army covering Dresden. He has led a hard life, you see, and
has done as much as three ordinary men.

"Still, we shall see how he is next spring. It would almost break
his heart to have to give up before this war is over."

"It is difficult to say when that will be, Lindsay. Here we are,
getting towards the third year, and the war is not one whit nearer
to the end than it was when we left Berlin. It is true that we have
no longer to count France as formidable, but Russia has turned out
far more so than we expected; and having once taken the matter up,
the empress, if she is half as obstinate as her soldiers, is likely
to go on at it for a long time. And we are using up our army very
fast, and cannot replace our losses as Austria and Russia can do."

"I hope they are not going to make another twenty years' war of
it," Lindsay said. "If you go on in the way that you are doing,
Drummond, you will be a field marshal in a third of that time; but
you must remember about the proverb of the pitcher and the well."

"Yes, Lindsay, but you must remember that I am having a share of
hard knocks. I have been wounded twice now, to say nothing of being
stunned and taken prisoner; so you see I am having my share of bad
luck, as well as good. Now at present you have never had as much as
a scratch, and when your bad luck comes, it may come all in a
lump."

"There is something in that, Fergus, though I own that I had not
thought of it. Well, perhaps it is better to take it in small doses
than have it come all at once.

"So you have brought your man back safe, I see, though he has had
an ugly slash across the cheek.

"By the way, I hope that those two sword cuts are not going to
leave bad scars, Drummond. It would be hard to have your beauty
spoilt for life, and you only nineteen; though, fortunately,
everyone thinks you two or three years older. However, they will be
honourable scars, and women don't mind any disfigurement in a man,
if it is got in battle. It is a pity, though, that you did not get
them when defending the king's life, instead of in the cavalry
charge afterwards.

"You brought your horse safe out of the battle, I hope?"

"He has, like myself, honourable scars, Lindsay. He got an ugly
gash on the flank with a bayonet; and I am afraid, when it heals,
white hair will grow on it. He had also a bullet through the neck.
Fortunately it missed both spine and windpipe, and is quite healed
up now."

"It is really a pity to take such a horse as that under fire,"
Lindsay said regretfully.

"Well, when one risks one's own life, one ought not to mind risking
that of a horse, however valuable."

"No, I suppose not. Still, it is a pity to ride so valuable an
animal. You are paid so much for risking your own life, you see,
Drummond; but it is no part of the bargain that you should risk
that of a horse worth any amount of money."

Fergus, on his arrival, called at once on Count Eulenfurst; who,
with his wife and daughter, were delighted to see him, for he had
now been absent from Dresden since Frederick had marched against
Soubise, thirteen months before.

"We heard from Captain Lindsay," the count said, "when the army
arrived here, some three weeks since, that you were wounded, but
not gravely; also, that for valour shown in defending the king,
when he was attacked by three Russians, you had been promoted to
the rank of major, upon which we congratulate you heartily. And now
that you have come, I suppose your king will soon be dashing away
with you again.

"What a man he is, and what soldiers! I can assure you that
sometimes, when I read the bulletins, I am inclined to regret that
I was not born two days' journey farther north. And yet, in spite
of his fierce blows at all these enemies, there is no sign of peace
being any nearer than when you dropped down to our rescue, some
twenty-seven months ago. 'Tis a terrible war."

"It is, indeed, count. Certainly, when I crossed the seas to take
service here, I little thought how terrible was the struggle that
was approaching. If we had known it, I am sure that my mother would
never have let me leave home."

"She must be terribly uneasy about you," the countess said. "Do you
hear from her often?"

"She writes once a month, and so do I. I get her letters in
batches. I know that she must be very anxious, but she says nothing
about it in her letters. She declares that she is proud that I am
fighting for a Protestant prince, so hemmed in by his enemies; and
that the thoughts and hopes of all England are with him, and the
bells ring as loudly at our victories, through England and
Scotland, as they do at Berlin."

"If we of Saxony had understood the matter sooner," the count said,
"we should be surely fighting now on your side; and indeed, had not
Frederick compelled his Saxon prisoners to serve with him, had he
sent them all to their homes, there would have been no animosity
and, as Protestants, the people would soon have come to see that
your cause was their own. Most of them do see it, now; for whenever
the enemy have entered Saxony, they have plundered and ill treated
the people, especially the Protestants.

"Are your horses still alive?"

"Yes, count, and well, save that one was wounded at Zorndorf; but
for that he cannot blame me, for it was his own doing. When
Seidlitz charged into the midst of the Russians, he passed close to
us; and Turk, maddened by excitement, seized the bit in his teeth
and joined him in the melee. I got three wounds and he had two, but
happily he has been cured as rapidly as I have, though with no
advantage to the appearance of either of us."

"Will the scars on your face always show as they do now?" Thirza
asked.

"I am sure I hope not," he said. "At present they are barely
healed; but in time, no doubt, the redness will fade out, and they
will not show greatly, though I daresay the scars will be always
visible."

"I should be proud of them, Major Drummond," said Thirza,
"considering that you got them in so great a battle, and one in
which you rendered such service to the king."

"You see, I shall not be always able to explain when and how I got
them," Fergus laughed. "People who do not know me will say:

"'There goes a young student, who has got his face slashed at the
university.'"

"They could not say that," she said indignantly. "Even if you were
not in uniform, anyone can see that you are a soldier."

"Whether or not, Countess Thirza, it is a matter that will
certainly trouble me very little. However, I begin to think that I
shall not always be a soldier. Certainly, I should not leave the
army as long as this war goes on; but I have seen such terrible
fighting, such tremendous carnage, that I think that at the end of
it, if I come out at the end, I shall be glad to take to a peaceful
life. My cousin, Marshal Keith, has been fighting all his life. He
is a great soldier, and has the honour of being regarded by the
king as his friend; but he has no home, no peace and quiet, no
children growing up to take his place. I should not like to look
forward to such a life, and would rather go back and pass my days
in the Scottish glens where I was brought up."

"I think that you are right," the count said seriously. "In
ordinary times a soldier's life would be a pleasant one, and he
could reckon upon the occasional excitement of war; but such a war
as this is beyond all calculation. In these three campaigns, and
the present one is not ended, nigh half of the army which marched
through here has been killed or wounded. It is terrible to think
of. One talks of the chances of war, but this is making death
almost a certainty; for if the war continues another two or three
years, how few will be left of those who began it!

"Even now a great battle will probably be fought, in a few days.
Two great armies are within as many marches of Dresden. The
smallest of them outnumbers Frederick. The other is fully twice his
strength, and so intrenched, as I hear, that the position is
well-nigh impregnable."

"I expect the king will find means to force him out of it, without
fighting," Fergus said with a smile. "Daun is altogether over
cautious, and Leuthen is not likely to have rendered him more
confident."

Fergus spent the greater part of his time at the count's, for
Marshal Keith insisted upon his abstaining from all duty, until the
march began.

"We are off tomorrow morning," he said, when he went up on the
evening of the 30th of September. "Where, I know not. Except the
king, Marshal Keith, and Prince Maurice, I do not suppose that
anyone knows; but wherever it is, we start at daybreak."

"May you return, ere long, safe and sound!" the count said. "Is
there nothing that we can do for you? You know we regard you as one
of the family, and there is nothing that would give us greater
pleasure than to be able, in some way, to make you comfortable."

"I thank you heartily, count, but I need nothing; and if I did I
could purchase it, for it is but seldom that one has to put one's
hand in one's pocket; and as a captain I have saved the greater
part of my pay for the last two years, and shall pile up my hoard
still faster, now that I am a major.

"I have never had an opportunity, before, of thanking you for that
purse which you handed to Karl, to be laid out for my benefit in
case of need. He holds it still, and I have never had occasion to
draw upon it, and hope that I never may have to do so."

The next morning the army, furnished with nine days' provisions,
and leaving a force to face the army of the Confederates, strode
along the road at its usual pace. They took the road for Bautzen,
drove off Loudon (who commanded Daun's northern outposts) without
difficulty, and so passed his flank. The advance guard pushed on to
Bautzen, drove away the small force there and, leaving there the
magazines of the army, occupied Hochkirch, a few miles away. The
king with the main body arrived at Bautzen on the following day,
and halted there, to see what Daun was going to do.

The latter was, in fact, obliged to abandon his stronghold; for the
Prussians, at Hochkirch, menaced the road by which he drew his
provisions from his magazines at Zittau. Marching at night, he
reached and occupied a line of hills between Hochkirch and Zittau,
and within a couple of miles of the former place.

Frederick had been forced to wait, at Bautzen, till another convoy
of provisions arrived. When he joined the division at Hochkirch,
and saw Daun's army on the opposite hills, busy as usual in
intrenching itself, he ordered the army to encamp when they were
within a mile of Daun's position.

Marwitz, the staff officer to whom he gave the order, argued and
remonstrated, and at length refused to be concerned in the marking
out of such an encampment. He was at once put under arrest, and
another officer did the work. Frederick, in fact, entertained a
sovereign contempt for Daun, with his slow marches, his perpetual
intrenchings, and his obstinate caution; and had no belief,
whatever, that the Austrian marshal would attempt to attack him. He
was in a very bad humour, too, having discovered that Retzow had
failed to take possession of the Stromberg, a detached hill which
would have rendered the position a safe one. He put him under
arrest, and ordered the Stromberg to be occupied.

The next morning the force proceeding to do so found, however, that
the post was already occupied by Austrians; who resisted stoutly
and, being largely reinforced, maintained their position on the
hill, on which several batteries were placed. It was now Tuesday,
and Frederick determined to march away on the Saturday.

His obstinacy had placed the army in an altogether untenable and
dangerous position. All his officers were extremely uneasy, and
Keith declared to the king that the Austrians deserved to be hanged
if they did not attack; to which Frederick replied:

"We must hope that they are more afraid of us than even of the
gallows."



Chapter 13: Hochkirch.


The village of Hochkirch stood on a hilltop, with an extensive view
for miles round on all sides; save on the south, where hills rose
one above another. Among these hills was one called the Devil's
Hill, where the primitive country people believed that the devil
and his witches held high festival, once a year.

Frederick's right wing, which was commanded by Keith, lay in
Hochkirch. Beyond the village he had four battalions, and a battery
of twenty guns on the next height to Hochkirch. From this point to
the Devil's Hill extended a thick wood, in which a strong body of
Croats were lurking. Frederick, with the centre, extended four
miles to the left of Hochkirch. Retzow, who had been restored to
his command, had ten or twelve thousand men lying in or behind
Weissenberg, four miles away.

Frederick's force, with that of Keith, amounted to twenty-eight
thousand men, and Retzow's command was too far away to be
considered as available. Daun's force, lying within a mile of
Hochkirch, amounted to ninety thousand men. Well might Keith say
that the Austrians deserved to be hanged, if they did not attack.
Frederick himself was somewhat uneasy, and would have moved away on
the Friday night, had he not been waiting for the arrival of a
convoy of provisions from Bautzen. Still, he relied upon Daun's
inactivity.

This time, however, his reliance was falsified. All Daun's generals
were of opinion that it would be disgraceful, were they to stand on
the defensive against an army practically less than a third of
their force; and their expostulations at length roused Daun into
activity. Once decided, his dispositions were, as usual, excellent.


[Map: Battle of Hochkirch]


His plan was an able one. He himself, with thirty thousand men, was
to start as soon as it was dark on Friday evening, sweep round to
the south, follow the base of the Devil's Mountain, and then
through the hollows and thick wood till he was close to the force
on the right of Hochkirch; and was to fall suddenly on them, at
five o'clock on Saturday morning. The orders were that, as soon as
Hochkirch was taken, the rest of the army, sixty thousand strong,
were to march against Frederick, both in front and on his left, and
so completely smash and crumple him up.

Frederick had no premonition of the storm that was gathering. On
Thursday and Friday the Austrians were engaged, as usual, in
felling trees, forming abattis, throwing up earthworks, and in all
ways strengthening their position. Everything seemed to show that
Daun was still bent upon standing upon the defensive only.

As the lurking Croats and Pandoors had, every night, crept up
through the brushwood and hollows, and skirmished with the Prussian
outposts away on the right, scattered firing was not heeded much in
Hochkirch. Fergus had just got up, in the little room he shared
with Lindsay in the marshal's quarters, a mile north of Hochkirch;
and was putting on his boots when, a few minutes past five, the
sound of firing was heard.

"There are the Croats, as usual," he said.

"What a restless fellow you are, Drummond! You have been up, at
this unearthly hour, each morning since we got here. It won't be
light for another two hours yet. I doubt whether it will be light
then. It looks to me as if it were a thick fog."

"You are right about my early hours, and I admit I have been
restless. It is not a pleasant idea that, but a mile away, there is
an army big enough to eat us up; and nothing whatever to prevent
their pouncing upon us, at any moment, except two or three
batteries. The marshal was saying, last night, he should regard it
as the most fortunate escape he ever had, if we drew off safely
tonight without being attacked.

"That firing is heavier than usual. There go a couple of guns!"

"Those two advanced pieces are sending a round or two of case shot
into the bushes, I suppose," Lindsay said drowsily.

Fergus completed his dressing, and went downstairs and out into the
night. Here he could hear much better than in the room above; which
had but one loophole for air and light, and that was almost stopped
up, with a wisp of straw. He could now plainly hear volley firing,
and a continued crackle of musketry. He ran upstairs again.

"You had better get your things on at once, Lindsay. It is a more
serious affair than usual. I shall take it upon myself to wake the
marshal."

He went to Keith's door, knocked, and opened it.

"Who is there? What is it?" the marshal asked.

"It is I, Drummond, sir. There is heavy firing going on to the
right, much heavier than it has been any other night."

"What o'clock is it?"

"About ten minutes past five, sir. There is a thick mist, and it is
pitch dark. Shall I go over and inquire what is going on?"

"Yes, do. I expect that those rascally Croats have been reinforced,
and are trying to find out whether we are still in our positions."

"I will be back as soon as I can, sir."

Fergus ran round to the low range of sheds in which their horses
were stabled.

"Karl, are you there?" he shouted.

"Yes, major," a voice said, close at hand. "I am listening to all
that firing."

"Saddle up at once. You may as well ride with me. I am going to see
what it is all about."

A lantern was burning in the shed, and by its light Fergus and the
orderly rapidly saddled the horses.

"You had better light two more lanterns, Karl. Leave the one on the
wall burning. We will take the others. We shall want them, for one
cannot see a horse's length away; and if we had not the sound of
firing to guide us, we should soon lose our way altogether."

The light enabled them to go at a fairly fast trot, but they
trusted rather to their horses' than to their own eyes. The roar
and rattle of the firing increased in volume, every minute.

"That is more than an affair with the Croats, Karl."

"A good deal more, major. It looks as if the Austrians were beating
up our quarters in earnest."

"It does indeed."

When they reached Hochkirch they found the troops there astir. The
cavalry trumpets were sounding to horse, and the clamour round the
village told that the troops encamped there were getting under
arms.

"Do you know what is going on to the right, sir?" Fergus asked a
field officer, who was in the act of mounting. "Marshal Keith has
sent me to inquire."

"Not in the least; but as far as I can tell by the sound, they must
be attacking us in force, and they seem to be working round in rear
of our battery there. The sound is certainly coming this way."

"Then I will go on to the battery," Fergus said.

He had ridden but a little way farther, when he was convinced that
the officer was right. The crash of musketry volleys rose
continuously, but although the boom of guns was mingled with it,
there was nothing like the continuous fire that might have been
expected from a twenty-gun battery.

Suddenly from his right a crackle of firing broke out, and then
heavy volleys. The bullets sung overhead.

"They are attacking us in the rear, sir, sure enough," Karl said.

"I am afraid they have captured our big battery, Karl," Fergus
said, as he turned his horse.

It was but a few hundred yards back to the village but, just as he
reached it, a roar of fire broke out from its rear. They could make
their way but slowly along the streets, so crowded were they now
with infantry who, unable to see until a yard or two away, could
not make room for them to pass, as they would otherwise have done
for a staff officer. With feverish impatience Fergus pushed on,
until the road was clear; but even now he had to go comparatively
slowly, for unless they kept to the track across the open ground
that led to the farmhouse, they must miss it altogether.

Lights were moving about there as he rode up. Keith himself was at
the door, and the orderlies were bringing up the horses.

"What is it, Major Drummond?"

"It is an attack in force, sir, on the right flank and rear. The
enemy have crept up between Hochkirch and our battery, and as I
came through the village they were attacking it in rear. I cannot
say for certain, but I believe that the battery is taken, though
there is a heavy infantry fire still going on there."

"Ride to Ziethen, Captain Lindsay. Give him the news, and tell him
to fall upon the Austrians.

"Captain Cosser and Captain Gaudy, ride off to the infantry and
bring them up at the double.

"I will take on the Kannaker battalion myself," and he rode down at
once to the camp of this battalion, which was but a hundred yards
away; despatching others of his staff to hasten up the regiments
near.

The Kannaker battalion was already under arms, and marched off with
him as soon as he arrived.

"I am going to the left of the village, Fergus, and shall make for
the battery, which we must retake. Do you go first into Hochkirch,
and see how matters go there. If badly, give my order to the
colonel of the first battalion that comes along, and tell him to
throw himself into the village and assist to hold it to the last.
After that, you must be guided by circumstances. It is doubtful if
you will ever find me again, in this black mist."

Fergus handed his lantern to Keith's orderly, who took his place at
the side of the marshal as the regiment went off at the double.
Fergus rode up to the village. It was scarce twenty minutes since
he had left it, but it was evident that a furious fight was raging
there, and that the Austrians had already penetrated some distance
into its streets. Without hesitation he turned and rode back again
and, in a few minutes, met a dark body of men coming along at a
rapid run.

"Where is the colonel?" he asked, reining in his horse suddenly,
for he had nearly ridden into the midst of them.

"Just ahead of us, to the right, sir."

In a minute Fergus was beside him. By the light that Karl carried,
he recognized him.

"Major Lange," he said, "I have the marshal's orders that you
should march into Hochkirch, and hold it to the last. The Austrians
are already in partial possession of it."

"Which way is it, Major Drummond? For in this mist I have almost
lost my direction, and there seems to be firing going on everywhere
ahead."

"I will direct you," Fergus said. "I have just come from there;"
and he trotted back to the village.

As they approached Hochkirch it was evident that, although the
defenders were still clinging to its outskirts, the greater portion
was lost; but with a cheer the battalion rushed forward, and was in
a moment fiercely engaged. Major Lange's horse fell dead under him,
struck by an Austrian bullet. Fergus rode into the first house he
came to, dismounted, and left his horse there.

"You may as well leave yours here too, Karl. We can do no good with
them, and should only be in the way. When it begins to get light,
we will try and find the marshal.

"You may as well get hold of the first musket and ammunition pouch
that you can pick up. There will be enough for every man to do to
hold this place until more reinforcements come up."

A desperate struggle went on in the streets. The Prussians who had
been driven back joined the battalion just arrived. Bayonets and
the butt-end of the musket were used, rather than shot; for in the
mist friend could not be distinguished from foe five yards away,
and it was from their shouts rather than by their uniforms that men
knew whether they had one or other in front of them. Karl was not
long in finding arms and, taking his place in the ranks, was soon
at work with the others.

The village was almost circular in shape, clustered as it were on
the top of the hill. The struggle was not confined to one street,
but raged in half a dozen, more or less parallel with each other.
Gradually the Prussians pressed forward, and had more than half
cleared the village when their advance was checked by the arrival
of fresh battalions of the Austrians. Then Lange threw his men into
the church and churchyard, and there stubbornly maintained himself.

Soon flames burst out from various directions, giving a welcome
light to the defenders, and enabling them to keep up so heavy a
fire upon the now swarming enemy that they repulsed each attack
made upon them. Eight battalions of Austrians in vain tried to
capture the position, attacking it on every side; but the stubborn
Prussians held firmly to it.

Meanwhile beyond, as far as the battery, the fight raged. The
Plothow battalion, which had been stationed in advance of it, had
been attacked and enveloped on all sides by the Austrians; but had
defended themselves splendidly and, though forced back by sheer
weight of numbers, had maintained their order and done heavy
execution by their fire. The battery had been lost, but those who
had been driven out rallied and, with the Plothow men, made so
furious a rush forward that they hurled the Austrians out again. It
was but for a few minutes, for such masses of the enemy poured up
through the mist that there was no withstanding them, and many of
the Prussians were taken prisoners. Their captivity was of short
duration, for through the mist Ziethen's horse burst out suddenly
into the raging tumult, scattered the Austrians, released the
prisoners, and were then off to fall upon fresh enemies, as soon as
they discovered their position.

Everywhere isolated combats took place. Battalion after battalion,
and squadron after squadron, as it arrived, flung itself upon the
first enemy it came upon in the darkness. Keith, on reaching the
battery, again retook it; but again the Austrian masses obtained
possession.

In and around Hochkirch, similar desperate struggles were going on.
None fled but, falling back until meeting another battalion
hastening up, reformed and charged again. Ziethen's horse, together
with the rest of the cavalry and gendarmes, mingled with staff
officers and others who had lost their way, continued to make
furious charges against the Austrians pressing round the rear of
the position, and holding them in check.

Until its cartridges were all spent, Lange's battalion held the
churchyard, though its numbers were terribly lessened by the
Austrian fire. Then the major called upon his men to form in a
mass, and cut their way through the enemy with the bayonet. This
they most gallantly did, losing many; but the remnant emerged from
the village, their gallant leader, wounded to death, among them.

Fergus and Karl separated themselves from them, ran to the house
where they had left their horses, mounted, and galloped off. By
this time the centre was coming up, led by the king himself. As
they neared Hochkirch a cannonball took off the head of Frank of
Brunswick, the king's youngest brother-in-law. Prince Maurice of
Dessau, riding in the dark till within twenty yards of the
Austrians, was badly hit; and the storm of case and musket bullets
that swept the approaches to Hochkirch was so terrible that
Frederick's battalion had to fall back.

"The first thing is to find the marshal," Fergus said, as he rode
out of Hochkirch. "He must be somewhere to the right."


[Illustration: Before he could extricate himself, Fergus
was surrounded by Austrians]


He galloped on until a flash of fire burst out, a few yards in
front. His horse fell dead under him and, before he could extricate
himself from it, he was surrounded by Austrians. An officer shouted
to him to surrender and, seeing the hopelessness of resistance, he
at once did so.

He looked round and, to his satisfaction, saw nothing of Karl. He
was placed in the midst of the Austrian regiment, under the charge
of a sergeant, and told that he would be shot if he tried to
escape.

Frederick, with more battalions that had come up, pushed on;
thrusting the Austrians back until he had left Hochkirch on his
left. But by this time it was past eight o'clock, the fog was
dispersing, and he saw a great body of Austrians on the heights to
his right, from Waditz to Meschduitz, as well as on the whole line
of heights on the left. His only line of retreat, therefore, was
along at the foot of the Dressau heights.

These he ordered to be seized, at once. This was done before the
Austrians could reach the spot, they being hindered by furious
charges by Ziethen, from the open ground between Kumschutz and
Canitz; and Frederick rearranged his front of battle, and waited
for Retzow to come up with the left wing.

The Austrians tried several attacks, but with little success. They
too had been hindered and confused by the mist, and the force that
had been engaged in and round Hochkirch had suffered terribly; and
they pushed forward but feebly, now that the Prussian guns on the
heights were able to open fire upon them.

Retzow was long in coming, for he too had been attacked by twenty
thousand men, who had been told off by Daun for the purpose. The
attack, however, was badly managed and feeble; but it delayed
Retzow from making a start, when Frederick's urgent messages
reached him. During this anxious delay the Austrians captured
Frederick's main battery of thirty guns, north of Rodewitz; and
were beginning to press forward, when Retzow came onto the ground
and took up a position at Belgern, covering Frederick's left flank.
Had he been an hour sooner, he might have saved the heavy battery
which lay beyond the range of the guns on the Dressau heights, and
which Frederick could not have supported without bringing on a
general battle.

Then, in a steady and leisurely manner, the king drew off his
forces and took up a new position from Krewitz to Puswietz,
carrying off the whole of his baggage; Retzow and the troops on the
Dressau heights covering the movement, until all had passed; Daun
and his great army standing on their circle of hills, watching, but
not interfering with the movement.

Frederick's rashness had cost him dear. He had lost eight thousand
men; five thousand three hundred and eighty-one of them, and a
hundred and nineteen officers, killed or prisoners; the rest
wounded. He had also lost a hundred and one guns, and most of his
tents.

Of the Austrians, three hundred and twenty-five officers and five
thousand six hundred and fourteen rank and file were killed or
wounded, and a thousand prisoners lost. Twenty thousand of their
men deserted, during their passage through the dark and intricate
woods.

Fergus remained with the regiment that had captured him until the
battle ceased; after which he was taken, under a guard, to the spot
where the Prussian prisoners were gathered. Of these there were
fifty-eight officers, the greater part of whom were more or less
severely wounded. Two of the officers belonged to the Kannaker
battalion, and from them Fergus asked for news of Marshal Keith.

"We fear he is killed," one said. "He led us into the battery, and
he was with us after we were driven out again; but after that
neither of us saw him. Everything was in confusion. We could not
see twenty yards, any way. We know that the battalion had suffered
terribly. Just before we were captured, being with a score of men
cut off from the rest by a rush of Austrians, a rumour spread that
the marshal had been killed; but more than this we cannot tell."

Two hours later an Austrian officer rode up, with orders that the
prisoners were to be marched some distance farther to the rear.
Fergus went up to him and said:

"Can you tell me, sir, if Marshal Keith is among the killed? I am
one of his aides-de-camp and, moreover, a cousin of his."

"Yes," the officer said, "he has fallen. His body was recognized by
General Lacy, who commands here. I am on his staff. The general was
greatly affected, for he and the marshal were at one time comrades
in arms. The marshal was shot through the heart, and had previously
received two other wounds. He was a most gallant soldier, and one
highly esteemed by us. He will be buried with all military honours
at Hochkirch, where he has been carried."

Fergus was deeply moved. Keith had been so uniformly kind that he
had come to feel for him almost as a father. He could not speak for
a minute, and then said:

"Would you ask General Lacy, sir, to allow me to attend his
funeral, both as one of the marshal's staff and as a relation, who
loved him very dearly? My name is Major Drummond."

"I will certainly ask him, sir, and have no doubt that he will
grant the request."

He thereupon gave orders that a young officer should remain with
Fergus, until an answer was received. He then rode off, and in a
few minutes the rest of the prisoners were marched away. In half an
hour the officer returned.

"General Lacy will be glad if you will accompany me to his
quarters. He gladly accedes to your request."

Lacy occupied one of the houses at Hochkirch which had been spared
by the flames. The aide-de-camp conducted Fergus to an empty room.

"The general is away at present," he said, "but will see you, as
soon as he returns."

When alone, Fergus burst into tears. It was indeed a heavy loss to
him. Even before he came out, he had come to regard Keith with deep
respect and admiration. He had heard so much of him, from his
mother, that it seemed to him that their relationship was far
closer than it really was, and that Keith stood in the position of
an uncle rather than of his mother's cousin. Since he had been in
Germany he had been constantly with him, save when he was away with
the king; and the genial kindness, the absence of all formality,
and the affectionate interest he had shown in him had been almost
of a fatherly nature. It was but a poor consolation to know that it
was the death Keith would, of all others, have chosen; and that,
had he survived the campaign, he would probably have been obliged
to retire from active service; or to take some quiet command, where
his inactivity would speedily have chafed him beyond bearing, after
so active and stirring a life.

Two hours later the officer entered the room, and said that General
Lacy had returned, and would see him. The general was alone when he
was shown into his room, and his face evinced a momentary surprise
when his eyes fell on Fergus. Promotion was not very rapid in the
Prussian army, and he had expected to see a man of between thirty
and forty. The sight of this young officer, with the rank and
insignia of major, and wearing on his breast the Prussian order,
surprised him.

"I am sorry indeed for your loss, Major Drummond," he said in
English. "Sorry for my own, too; though it may well be that, in any
case, Keith and I should never have met again. But we were comrades
once and, like everyone else, I loved him. What relation was he to
you?"

"He was my mother's first cousin, general; but they were always
dear friends, and have for years written regularly to each other;
and it was settled that I should come out to him, as soon as I was
old enough. 'Tis upwards of two years since I did so, and he has
been more like a father than a cousin to me, during that time."

"You have gone up the tree fast," General Lacy said.

"Very fast, sir; but I owe it to good fortune, and not to his
influence. I was, in each case, promoted by the king himself."

"A good judge of men, and not accustomed to give promotion easily.
Will you tell me how it happened?"

"There is not much to tell, sir. On the first occasion, I freed
Count Eulenfurst of some rascals who were maltreating him and his
family."

"I remember the circumstance," Lacy said warmly. "I heard it from a
Saxon officer, who joined us at the end of the first campaign,
after the Saxon army was disbanded and the officers were allowed to
go free. He was at Dresden for a time, and heard the story. It was
a gallant business. I think you killed six of them. And what was
the next occasion?"

"The next followed very quickly, general; and was given for
carrying an order to the Prussian horse, which enabled them to get
back to our lines before the Austrian cavalry fell upon them."

"I was there," Lacy said. "So you were the officer who charged
through a squadron of our cavalry, accompanied by a single orderly!
You certainly won your promotion fairly there. And where did you
get your last step?"

"At Zorndorf where, in the melee, when the Russians broke our
ranks, I was fortunate enough to intercept three Russian dragoons
who were making for the king, who was hemmed in among the infantry
he was trying to rally."

"A good reason, again, for promotion. Well, if you go on, you are
likely to rise as high as your cousin. But it is a poor life. As I
looked down upon Keith's face today, I thought how empty is any
honour that adventurers like ourselves can gain. I myself have
risen too; but what does it bring? Responsibility, toil, the
consciousness that a solitary mistake may bring you into disgrace;
and that, in any case, the end may be like this: death on a
battlefield, fighting in a quarrel in which you have no concern,
and of which you may disapprove; a grave soon forgotten; a name
scarce known to one's countrymen. It is not worth it."

The general spoke in a tone of deep feeling.

"I have made up my mind not to continue in the service, after the
war is over," Fergus said, after a short pause; "although the king
has personally been very kind to me and, when the marshal remained
in Bohemia, he took me on his own staff."

"That is right, and as you are young, a few years' further service
will do you no harm. It will, indeed, do you good; that is, if you
pass through it unharmed. A man who has fought under Frederick, and
gained no small honour in a service where brave men are common,
will be respected when he returns to his home, no matter how small
his patrimony may be; and you will be, in all respects, an abler
man for these few years of fierce struggle and adventure.

"And now, Major Drummond, I must say goodbye for the present, as I
have to ride over to the marshal, and may not return until late
this evening. A meal will be served to you shortly, in your room;
and if your night has been as short as mine has, you will be ready
to turn in early. The funeral will take place tomorrow morning."

The next morning, Lacy and Fergus Drummond walked side by side, as
chief mourners, after the gun carriage on which the remains of
Marshal Keith were carried to Hochkirch church. There was a large
military cortege, martial music, and infantry with reversed arms.
The many wounded had been carried from the church, and some attempt
made to clear away the signs of the strife that had, twenty-four
hours before, raged around it. There Keith was buried. Twelve
cannon three times pealed out a parting salute. Three times the
muskets of the regiment of Colleredo fired their volleys.

Four months later, by the king's orders, the body was conveyed to
Berlin, and buried in the garrison church with full military pomp
and honour. Twenty years afterwards, when Frederick erected four
statues to the most deserving of his generals, Keith had his place
with Schwerin, Winterfeld, and Seidlitz.

"And now," Lacy said, when they returned from the funeral to his
quarters, "I must send you on after the others. I am sorry to do
so, but I have no choice. Still, I will write to friends at Vienna,
and get them to have you included in the first batch of exchanges."

An officer was told off to accompany Fergus, and a horse was found
for him. On the second evening after starting he rejoined the
convoy of prisoners; where a message, delivered from General Lacy
to the officer in charge, caused many small indulgences to be
granted to him on the way south.

Day after day the convoy pursued its way, by short marches, for
several of the officers were too severely wounded to travel far.
Several of these were left at Prague. Here the greater portion of
the others were taken on by the southern road through Budweis, the
rest turning southeast towards Moravia.

On the evening before they separated, the commander of the convoy
said to Fergus:

"Have you any wish to choose as to which of the fortresses you
would be sent to? I can put your name down with either party. Some
will go to Iglau in Moravia, the rest to the forts round Linz."

"I think I would rather go to Linz, colonel, as you are good enough
to give me the choice."

Accordingly, the next morning Fergus, with twenty officers,
continued his way south. The majority proceeded to Iglau, to be
distributed among the various fortresses of Moravia.

Fergus was much pleased that he had not been sent with that party, for
had he by chance been taken to his former place of imprisonment, he
would certainly have been recognized, and the strictest precautions
taken against his repeating the attempt. On their arrival at Linz,
the prisoners were formally handed over to the charge of the governor,
and distributed among the various outlying forts round the city. Ten
others were told off to the same prison as Fergus.

The fort was the one nearest to the river, on the west side of the
city; and stood but a hundred yards from the bank, its guns being
intended to prevent any passage of the Danube, as well as to guard
the city against a land attack from that side. It was a strong
place but, as it was situated in a flat country, it presented no
natural obstacle to an escape. It was surrounded by a broad moat,
fed by a cut from the river. On the other side of the moat were two
small redoubts, facing west. The fort contained ample barracks for
the garrison of three hundred men who occupied it, with bomb proofs
in which they could take refuge, in the event of a siege. Beyond
the moat, a glacis sloped down to another ditch.

The cannon were placed in casemates. Some of them had been
withdrawn, the casemates fitted with massive shutters, and
converted into prisons for the use of officers. Two captains were
lodged in the same casemate with Fergus. No light came from
without, but there was a low semicircular window over the door.
This was very strongly barred, but admitted sufficient light, in
the daytime.

"Not such bad quarters," Fergus said, as he looked round. "When the
cold weather comes, we shall only have to stuff straw through those
bars, leaving one square open for light, and manage to hang a thick
curtain across it at night. I suppose they will give us a brazier
of charcoal, when it gets a little colder; though indeed, it is
cold enough now."

"At any rate, we shall have a rest, major; and that will be a
treat, after our long marches during the last campaign. I should
think that we can sleep the best part of the winter away."

"They fasten the shutters pretty securely," Fergus went on. "They
are three inches of solid oak, and you see these bars are all
riveted at each end. I suppose they think that they would have
plenty of time to cut the rivet heads off, before any army could
approach."

In a short time the officer in command of the force came round. He
was very civil and courteous, and said that he had already ordered
a stove to be sent in, and that they should have some straw laid
over the floor.

"You will be permitted to take exercise, when you like, upon the
rampart overhead," he said. "Any reasonable request you make shall
be attended to. I regret that the misfortune of war should have
placed you in my keeping; for we Austrians can appreciate bravery,
and we cannot but admit that no braver men are to be found than
those in the King of Prussia's army.

"As to your rations, they must be plain. A certain sum is allowed
by government for the cost of each prisoner. I make it go as far as
I can, but I often wish that the sum were larger. I may say that
you are permitted to order any additions to your food from without,
upon payment; but I need hardly add that the orders must pass
through the hands of the officer in charge of you, and that
everything brought in is rigidly inspected."

"Have there been any exchanges of prisoners, of late?" one of
Fergus's companions asked.

"No. It is a compliment to you, gentlemen, for our government
apparently places a higher value on you than on us, and is very
chary of swelling Frederick's armies by the release of prisoners.
Somehow your king seems to make double use of his soldiers. He
fights a battle here, then rushes away to meet another enemy, two
or three hundred miles off; while when we get an advantage, we seem
so satisfied with ourselves that we sit still until we have let its
advantages slip from our hands."

"May I ask if, by the last news, Marshal Daun is still near
Hochkirch?"

"He was so, as far as the yesterday's courier brought news. At
first we thought that he had won a tremendous victory, and had
eaten up Frederick's army; but the later news is that the king
marched safely away, and so far from being demolished he is now
perfectly master of his movements; and ready, no doubt, for another
tussle, if we should advance. However, I should imagine that the
snow will soon put a stop to active operations."

Then, bowing courteously, he left them, to pay a visit to the
prisoners in the next casemate.



Chapter 14: Breaking Prison.


"He seems to be a pleasant fellow," Fergus said, "and disposed to
do his best to make us comfortable; so if we don't see any chance
of getting away, we shall be able to get through the winter very
fairly."

"You don't think there is any chance of escape, surely, major?"

"Pray, drop the major, Captain Stauffen, and let us call each other
by our names, while we are here. The discipline of the Prussian
army is admirable, and must, as a rule, be most stringently
maintained by all sorts of forms and observances; but here by our
three selves, confined in this casemate for no one can say how
long, it is ridiculous that we should be always stiff and
ceremonious. You are both some years older than I am. I have had
the good fortune to have better opportunities than you have had,
and have been promoted accordingly; but while here, let us try and
forget all about that, and make things as pleasant all round as
possible."

The two officers agreed, but not without grave doubts; for to them
it was quite a serious matter to relax, even in a prison, the
stringent rules that guided the relation of officers to each other
in the Prussian army.

"It is a strong place," Fergus went on, "but I don't know that it
is as difficult to break out of as the last place I was in."

"Have you been a prisoner before?" the two officers asked together,
for both belonged to a regiment that was not with Frederick at
Lobositz, and had indeed only recently come down from Berlin.

"Yes, I was taken at Lobositz and marched to Spielberg, and managed
to get away from there. It is a long story, and will do to pass
away the evening, when we have got the fire and can sit comfortably
and talk round it. My cell there was so high in the castle that,
with the wall and the rock below, there was a fall of a hundred and
fifty feet, at least; so that the difficulties of escape were a
good deal greater than they are here--or perhaps I should say
seemed to be a good deal greater, for I don't know that they were.

"There is the tramp of a sentry outside. I suppose he walks up and
down the whole length of the six casemates. I counted them as we
came in. We are at one end, which, of course, is an advantage."

"Why so?" one of the others asked with a puzzled expression of
face.

"Well, you see, the sentry only passes us once to every twice he
passes the casemate in the middle, and has his back to us twice as
long at a time."

"I should not have thought of that," Stauffen said. "Yes, I can see
that if we were escaping through this door, which seems to me
impossible, that it would be an advantage;" and he glanced at his
companion, as if to say that there was more in this fortunate young
officer than they had thought.

Among the officers who had served throughout with Frederick, the
manner in which Fergus had gained his promotion was well known. His
rescue of Count Eulenfurst and his family was the general subject
of talk at Dresden, and even putting aside the gallantry of the
action, it was considered that the army in general were indebted to
him, for having saved them from the disgrace that would have
attached to them had this murderous outrage been carried out
successfully. The manner in which he had saved half the Prussian
cavalry from destruction, by his charge through the Austrian
squadron, had similarly been talked over, in every regiment engaged
at Lobositz. Those who had been at Zorndorf were cognizant of the
fact that he had gained his majority by saving the king's life, as
this had been mentioned in the general orders of the day.

The regiment, however, to which the two officers belonged had come
down from Berlin but six months before; and had formed a part of
the command of Prince Maurice until Frederick had returned from
Zorndorf, and had, with a portion of the force of Prince Maurice,
marched out to compel Daun to abandon his impregnable position at
Stolpen. They had not particularly observed Fergus on their journey
south; and when, during the last two or three days of the march,
they had noticed him, they had regarded him as some fortunate young
fellow who had, by royal favour, received extraordinary promotion,
and had been pushed up over the heads of older men simply from
favouritism. Thus their manner towards him had been even more stiff
and ceremonious than usual.

"Do you think, then," Stauffen said, "that there is any chance of
our making our escape?"

"Oh, I have not had time to think about it, yet!" Fergus laughed.
"There is generally a way, if one can but find it out; but I have
no doubt that it will take a good deal of thinking before we hit
upon it, and if it does nothing else for us, it will be an
amusement through the long evenings to have to puzzle it out. There
is no hurry, for it is not likely that there will be any more
fighting before the army goes into winter quarters; and so that we
are there when the campaign opens in the spring, it will be soon
enough."

The door opened now. Two soldiers brought in a stove. It was placed
nearly in the centre of the room. The flue went up to the top of
the arch, and then turned at right angles, and passed out of the
casemate through a hole just over the window.

After lighting the stove, they brought in two bundles of rushes and
spread them over the floor; and then carried in a tray with dinner,
and placed it on the little table. There were three stools standing
by the side of the three barrack beds, each placed in a corner of
the room. These they carried to the table.

The others waited to see upon which side Fergus placed his. He put
it down on one side.

"Excuse me, major," Stauffen said, changing it--putting him facing
the fire, and placing his own on one side, while his companion was
opposite to him.

Then they stood, stiffly waiting, until Fergus, with a shrug of his
shoulders, took his place.

The dinner consisted of a thin soup, followed by the meat of which
it had been made, stewed up and served with a good gravy and two
sorts of vegetables. The bread was white and good. A bottle of
rough country wine was placed by the side of each.

"The commandant feeds us better here than I was fed at Spielberg,"
Fergus said cheerfully. "If I got broth there I did not get meat;
if I had meat I had no broth; and they only gave me half a bottle
of wine. The commandant evidently does as he says, and makes the
money he gets for our keep go far. Let us drink his health, and a
better employment to him. He evidently feels being kept here,
instead of being with the army in the field. In fact, he is just as
much a prisoner as we are, without even the satisfaction of being
able to talk over plans for escape.

"Ah! I see he has sent a box of cigars, too. I finished my last as
we rode here today, and was wondering when I should be able to get
some more in; also tobacco for my pipe. I hope you both smoke."

Stauffen and his companion, whose name was Ritzer, both did so.

"I am glad of that," Fergus said. "I think it is very cheery and
sociable when everyone smokes, but certainly when only two out of
three do, it looks somehow as if the one who does not is left out
in the cold. I never smoked until I came out here, two years and a
half ago; but there is no doubt that at the end of a day's hard
work, or when you have got to do a long ride in the dark, it is
very comforting."

His efforts to keep the conversation going were not very
successful. The two officers were evidently determined to maintain
the distinction of rank and, saying to himself that they would
probably soon get tired of it, he ceased to attempt to break down
the barrier they insisted upon keeping up. After dinner was over
they lighted their cigars, and then went out and mounted the steps
from the yard to the ramparts.

They were soon joined by the officers from the other casemates and,
separating into groups, strolled up and down, making remarks on the
country round and the town behind them. Fergus had at once left his
fellow prisoners and joined two or three others with whom he had
been previously acquainted, one being a captain of the 3rd Royal
Dragoons.

"You are with Stauffen and Ritzer, are you not, major?" the latter
said. "I have a brother in the same regiment, and so know them. How
do you get on with them?"

"At present they are rather stiff and distant, and insist upon
treating me as the senior officer; which is absurd when we are
prisoners, and they are both some fifteen years older than I am. I
detest that sort of thing. Of course in a great garrison town like
Berlin or Dresden the strict rules of discipline must be observed.
I think they are carried altogether too far, but as it is the
custom of the service there is nothing to be said about it; but
here, as we are all fellows in misfortune, it seems to me simply
ridiculous."

"It becomes a second nature after a time," the officer said. "The
two with me are both lieutenants, and I should feel a little
surprised if they did not pay me the usual respect."

"Yes, but then you are the older man, and would naturally take the
lead, in any case. To me, I can assure you, it is most disagreeable
to have men much older than myself insisting upon treating me as
their superior officer; especially as, their regiment having only
recently joined us, I suppose they set me down as some young
favourite or other, who has got his promotion over the heads of
deserving officers because he is related to someone in power."

"They ought to know that there is not much promotion to be gained
in that way in our army, major. The king is the last man who would
promote anyone for that cause. Why, Schwerin's son has served for
four years and is still a cornet in our regiment! No doubt the king
would be glad to promote him if he specially distinguished himself,
but as he has had no opportunity of doing so, he will probably work
his way up in the regiment as everyone else does."

Two or three more officers came up and joined the party, and
presently Captain Ronsfeldt strolled away and joined another group.
It was not long before he engaged Stauffen and Ritzer in
conversation.

"You have Major Drummond in with you, have you not?"

"Yes," Stauffen said shortly. "Who is the young fellow, do you know
him?"

"Yes, he first joined our regiment as junior cornet. It was less
than two years and a half ago. I was senior lieutenant at the time,
and now I am pretty well up on the list of captains, thanks to the
work we have done and the vacancies that death has made."

"And that boy has gone over your head, and is now walking about as
a major, with the order on his breast. It is enough to make one
sick of soldiering. Who is he related to?"

"He is related to Marshal Keith," Ronsfeldt said quietly.

"Ah! That explains it."

"I don't think you quite understand the case, Stauffen. Certainly
you don't, if you think that there has been any favouritism. I
don't think anyone ever heard of Frederick promoting a man out of
his turn, save for merit; and I suppose there is no one in the army
who has won his rank more worthily, and who is more generally
recognized as deserving it. I have never heard a single word raised
against the honours he has received.

"When he rides through the camp men nudge each other and say, 'That
young fellow in staff uniform is Major Drummond;' and there is not
a soldier but tries to put a little extra respect into his salute."

"Are you joking, Ronsfeldt?" Ritzer asked in astonishment.

"I was never less so, Ritzer;" and he then gave them an account of
the manner in which Fergus had obtained his promotion.

The two officers were silent when Ronsfeldt concluded.

"We have made fools of ourselves," Stauffen said at last, "and we
must apologize, Ritzer."

"Certainly we must," the other agreed heartily. "It seemed to us
that his trying to make us put aside the respect due to his rank
was a sort of affectation, and really impressed it more
disagreeably upon us. We took him for an upstart favourite; though
we might have known, had we thought of it, that the king never
promotes unduly. Who could possibly have believed that a young
fellow, not yet twenty, I should say, could have so distinguished
himself? It will be a lesson to us both not to judge by
appearances."

The day was cold and cheerless, and after an hour spent on the
rampart most of the party were glad to return to the casemates.
Fergus was one of the last to go back. To his disgust the two
officers rose and saluted formally, as he came in.

"We wish," Captain Stauffen said, "to express to you our deep
regret at the unworthy way in which we received your request, this
morning, to lay aside the distinction of rank while we are
prisoners here. We were both under an error. Our regiments having
only joined from Berlin a short time before the king marched with
us to Hochkirch, we were altogether ignorant of the manner in which
you had gained your rank, and had thought that it was the result of
favouritism. We now know your highly distinguished services, and
how worthily you have gained each step; and we both sincerely hope
that you will overlook our boorish conduct, and will endeavour to
forget the manner in which we received your kindly advances."

"Say no more about it, gentlemen," Fergus replied heartily. "I have
had luck, and availed myself of it, as assuredly you would have
done had the same opportunities occurred to you. I can quite
understand that it seemed to you monstrous that, at my age, I
should be your senior officer. I feel it myself. I am often
inclined to regret that I should thus have been unduly pushed up.

"However, let us say no more about it. I do hope that we shall be
as three good comrades together; and that, within this casemate at
any rate, there will be no question whatever of rank, and that you
will call me Drummond, as I shall call you both by your names.

"Now, let us shake hands over the bargain. Let us draw our stools
round the stove and have a comfortable talk.

"I have been speaking to Major Leiberkuhn about ordering things. He
tells me that the commandant says that one list must be made. On
this the orders of each of the casemates must be put down
separately. A sergeant will go out every day with it. Money must be
given to him to cover the full extent of the orders. He will return
the change, each day, when he hands in the articles required.

"I have ordered some tobacco, some better cigars than these, and
three bottles of good Hungarian wine. The sergeant is going in half
an hour, so we shall be able to enjoy our chat this evening. I
always take the precaution of carrying twenty golden Fredericks,
sewn up in the lining of my tunic. It comes in very useful, in case
of an emergency of this kind."

"I am afraid that neither of us has imitated your forethought,"
Ritzer said with a laugh. "I have only my last month's pay in my
pocket, and Stauffen is no better off."

"Ah, well! With thirty pounds among us, we shall do very well,"
Fergus said. "We must be careful because, if we do make our escape,
we shall want money to get disguises."

"You are not really in earnest, Drummond," Stauffen said, "in what
you say about escaping?"

"I am quite in earnest about getting away, if I see a chance;
though I admit that, at present, the matter seems a little
difficult."

"Perhaps if you will tell us about your escape from Spielberg, we
shall be able to get a hint from it."

They now drew up their seats round the stove, and Fergus told them
in detail the manner of his escape, omitting only the name of the
noblemen at Vienna who had assisted him.

"It was excellently done," Ritzer said warmly. "Your making off in
that Austrian uniform, at the only moment when such a thing could
be done, was certainly a masterly stroke."

"So was the taking of the post horses," Stauffen agreed, "and your
getting a disguise from the postmaster. I should like to have seen
the Austrian's look of surprise, when he got his uniform back
again.

"I am afraid that your adventures do not afford us any hint for
getting away from here. Even you will admit that three Austrian
uniforms could not be secured, and the tale by which you procured
the post horses would hardly hold good in the case of three."

"No, if we get away at all it must be done in an entirely different
manner. The place is not so difficult to get out of as Spielberg
was, for with patience we could certainly manage to cut off the
rivet heads of the bars. But I don't see, at present, how we could
cross this wide moat, with a sentry pacing up and down thirty feet
above us; nor climb up the brick wall on the other side, without
making a noise. That done, of course we could, on a dark night,
cross the glacis and swim the outer moat. All that accomplished,
the question of disguises will come in. Just at present it is not
very easy to see how that is to be managed.

"Can you swim?"

Both officers replied in the affirmative.

"Well, that is something gained. As to the rest, we need not bother
about it, at present. We are not uncomfortable where we are, and if
we get back in time for the next campaign, that is all that really
matters."

The others laughed at the confident tone in which he spoke, but
after hearing the details of the prior attempt, it seemed to them
that their companion was capable of accomplishing what almost
seemed to be impossibilities. They had, they knew, very slight
chance of being exchanged so long as the war lasted. A few general
officers, or others whose families possessed great influence, were
occasionally exchanged; but it was evidently the policy of Austria
to retain all prisoners. In the first place she desired to reduce
Frederick's fighting force, and in the second, the number of
Austrians taken had been very much larger than that of the
Prussians captured, and the support of some fifteen or twenty
thousand prisoners of war added to the drain on Frederick's
resources. Three campaigns had passed without materially altering
the position of the combatants, and as many more might elapse
before the war came to an end. Indeed, there was no saying how long
it might last, and the prospect was so unpleasant that the two
officers were inclined to run a very considerable risk in
attempting to obtain freedom.

A week later the snow began to fall heavily, and the moat froze.

"There is no getting across that without being seen, even on the
darkest night," Fergus said, as he walked up and down the rampart
with his two companions, "unless the sentry was sound asleep; and
in such weather as this, that is the last thing likely to happen.
Unless something altogether unexpected occurs, we shall have to
postpone action till spring comes.

"Now that we have bought some books we can pass the time away
comfortably. It was a happy thought of Major Leiberkuhn that each
of us should buy one book, so that altogether we have got some
forty between us; which, taking our reading quietly, will last us
for a couple of months. They mayn't be all equally interesting; but
as the sergeant bought them second-hand, at about half a franc a
volume, we can lay in another stock without hurting ourselves,
whenever we choose."

A few days later they bought several sets of draughts, chessmen,
and dominoes, and a dozen packs of cards. This had been arranged at
a general meeting, held in the major's casemate. Strict rules had
been laid down that there should be no playing for money. Several
of the prisoners had had only a few marks in their pockets when
captured.

They agreed to meet at three o'clock, in two of the casemates by
turn, as one would not hold the whole number. This made a great
break in their day. It would have been better if the meeting had
been held in the evening; but the regulation that, during the
winter months, they were locked up at five, prevented this being
adopted. So the cold weather passed not altogether unpleasantly.
The strict rule that every case in which the slightest difference
of opinion arose should, at once, be submitted to the adjudication
of Major Leiberkuhn and the senior officer of the casemate in which
it occurred, effectually prevented all disputes and quarrels over
the cards and other games; and their good fellowship remained,
therefore, unbroken.

In March the sun gained power, the snow and ice began to melt, and
Fergus again began to think how an escape could be effected.

"I can think of only one plan," he said to his two companions, one
evening. "It is clear that it is altogether hopeless to think of
getting out by the door but, as we agreed, it would be possible to
chip off the heads of the rivets, unbar the shutters, and let
ourselves down into the moat. If we were to make our way along at
the foot of the wall, the chance of our being seen by the sentry
above would be very slight; for of course we should choose a night
when the wind was blowing hard, and the water ruffled. In that case
any splash we might make would not be heard.

"Swimming along to the corner of this face of the fort, we would
turn and keep along until we reached the spot where the cut runs to
the river. Crossing the moat to that would be the most dangerous
part of the business, and we ought, if possible, to dive across.
There is a low wall there, and a cheval-de-frise on the top of it.
We should have to get out by the side of that, and then either swim
along the cut, or crawl along the edge of it till we get to the
river.

"Then we must crawl along under the shelter of its banks towards
the town, till we get to a boat hauled up, or swim to one moored a
little way out in the stream. Then we must row up the river for
some distance, and land."

"That all seems possible enough, Drummond," Captain Ritzer said;
"but what about our uniforms?"

"We must leave them behind, and swim in our underclothes. I should
say we should take a couple of suits with us. We could make them up
into bundles, and carry them on our heads while we swim. Of course,
if we take them we shall not be able to dive; but must swim across
the moat to the cut, and trust to the darkness for the sentries not
seeing us. Then, once on board a boat, we could take off our wet
things and put the dry ones on."

"But we can hardly wander about the country in shirts and drawers,
Drummond," Stauffen suggested.

"Certainly not. My idea is that, as soon as we are a mile or two
away, we should either board some boat where we see a light, and
overpower the boatmen and take their clothes, if they will not sell
them to us; or else land at some quiet house, and rig ourselves
out. There should be no great difficulty about that. Once rigged
out we must make south, for as soon as our escape is found out the
next morning, cavalry will scour the country in every direction on
this side of the river, and give notice of our escape at every town
and village.

"After lying up quiet for a time, we must journey at least fifty
miles west. We might make for Munich if we like; or strike the Isar
at Landshut, and then work up through Ratisbon, and then through
the Fichtel Mountains to Bayreuth, and so into Saxony; or from
Landshut we can cross the Bohmerwald Mountains into Bohemia; or, if
we like, from Munich we can keep west into Wuertemberg, up through
Hesse-Darmstadt and Cassel into Hanover; or, lastly, we can go on
to Mannheim and down the Rhine, and then come round by sea to
Hamburg."

The others laughed.

"It looks a tremendous business, anyhow, Drummond, and I should
never think of attempting it by myself," Ritzer said; "but if you
assure me that you think it will be possible, I am ready to try
it."

"I think that there is every chance of success, Ritzer. I really do
not see why it should fail. Of course there is risk in it, but once
fairly on the other side of the moat, and on the river bank, it
seems comparatively safe. We can see that there are always a lot of
boats moored in the stream, this side of the bridge; and by taking
a small boat, we might put off to one of them and get our change of
clothes, at once bind and gag the crew--there are not likely to be
above two or three of them--give them a piece of gold to pay for
the clothes, and then row straight up the river and land a mile or
two away. That would make it plain sailing.

"Of course we should push the boat off when we landed, and it would
float down past the town before daylight. The chances are that the
boatmen, finding that they are no losers by the affair, would make
no complaint to the authorities; but even if they did, we should be
far beyond their reach by that time. All we have got to do is to
choose a really dark night, with wind and rain.

"The first job to be done is to get the heads off these rivets. I
have examined them carefully. They are roughly done, and I don't
fancy that the iron is very hard; and our knives will, I think,
make a comparatively short job of it."

"We could not work at night," Ritzer said. "The sentry in front
would hear the noise."

"I think of sawing the heads off," Fergus said. "With the help of a
little oil, I fancy the steel will cut through the iron. Yesterday
I tapped the edge of my knife against the edge of the stone
parapet--it is good steel, but very brittle--and I managed to make
a pretty fair saw of it. Tomorrow I will do yours, if you like."

All carried clasp knives for cutting their food with, when serving
in the field. They had oil which they had bought for dressing
salads with, and Fergus at once attacked one of the rivets.

"It cuts," he said, after three or four minutes' work. "Of course
it will be a long job, but we ought to do it in a week. There are
three bars, and if we cut the rivets at one end of each, I have no
doubt we shall be able to turn the bars on the rivets at the other
end."

They relieved each other at short intervals, and worked the greater
part of the night. At the end of that time the head of one of the
rivets was cut almost through.

"We will leave it as it is now," Fergus said. "A quarter of an
hour's work will take it off. As it is, no one would notice what
has been done, unless he inspected it closely."

Greatly encouraged by this success, the others now entered warmly
into his plans. Using his knife instead of a stone, he was able the
next day to convert their knives into much better saws than his own
had been; and the other two rivets were cut in a much shorter time
than the first.

They waited another week and then the wind began to rise, and by
evening half a gale was blowing, and the rain falling heavily.
There was no moon, and the night would be admirably suited for
their purpose. Their supper was brought in at six o'clock. Knowing
that they would not be visited again until the morning, they at
once began work.

As soon as they had finished cutting one rivet they tried the bar,
and their united strength was quite sufficient to bend it far
enough to allow it being withdrawn from the rivet; then, throwing
their weight upon it, it turned upon the bolt at the other end,
until it hung perpendicularly. In another half hour the other two
bars were similarly removed, and the heavy shutters opened. They
were closed again, until their preparations were complete.

First they ate their supper, then sat and talked until nine. Then
they knotted their sheets together, and tied the underclothes into
bundles.

"The Austrian government will be no losers," Fergus laughed. "They
will get three Prussian uniforms, instead of six suits of prison
underclothing. Now, shall I go first, or will one of you?"

"We will go according to rank," Ritzer laughed.

"Very well. Now mind, gentlemen, whatever you do, take the water
quietly. I will wait until you are both down, then we will follow
each other closely, so that we can help one another if necessary. I
can hardly see the water from here; and the sentry, being twice as
far off from it as we are, will see it less. Besides, I think it
likely that they will be standing in their sentry boxes, in such a
rain as this; and I feel confident that we shall get across without
being seen. The river is high, and the opposite wall of the moat is
only a foot above the water, so we shall have no difficulty in
getting out on the other side.

"I have the money sewn in a small bag round my neck. We may as well
take our knives with us. They will help us to tackle the boatmen. I
think that is everything. Now, we will be off."

Fastening the sheet firmly to one of the bars, he swung himself
out, slid down the rope quietly and noiselessly, and entered the
water, which was so cold that it almost took his breath away. He
swam a stroke or two along the wall, and waited until joined by
both his comrades. Their casemate being the end one, they had but
some ten or twelve yards to swim to the angle of the wall.

Another fifty took them to a point facing the cut. Fergus had paced
it on the rampart above, and calculated that each stroke would take
them a yard. It was too dark to see more than the dim line of the
wall on the other side. He waited until the others joined him.

"Are you all right?" he asked, in a low voice.

"Yes, but this cold is frightful."

"We shall soon be out of it," he said. "Wait till I have gone a few
yards, and then follow, one after the other."

The surface of the moat was so ruffled by the wind that Fergus had
little fear of being seen, even if the sentry above was out and
watching; but he felt sure that he would be in his sentry box, and
so swam boldly across. He at once climbed onto the lower wall, and
helped his two companions out. They were completely numbed by the
cold.

"Come along," he said. "We are on the lower side of the cut. Crawl
for a short distance, then we can get up and run, which will be the
best thing for us."

In three minutes they were up on the river bank.

"Now we can change our clothes," he said. "The others will soon get
wet through, but they won't be as cold as these are."

The things were soon stripped off. Each gave himself a rub with one
of the dry shirts, and they were soon dressed in the double suits
and stockings.

"That is better," Fergus said cheerfully. "Now for a run along the
towing path."

A quarter of a mile's run and circulation was restored, and all
felt comparatively comfortable. They had, at the suggestion of
Fergus, wrung out the things they had taken off; and thrown them
over their shoulders, so as to afford some protection against the
rain. They now dropped into a slower pace and, after going for a
mile, they neared the spot where the craft were lying moored in the
river.

Several small boats were drawn up on the shore. One of these they
launched, put out the oars, and rowed quietly to a large barge,
fifty yards from the bank, on which a light was burning. Taking
pains to prevent the boat striking her side, they stepped on board,
fastened the head rope, and proceeded aft. A light was burning in
the cabin and, looking through a little round window in the door,
they saw three boatmen sitting there, smoking and playing cards.
They opened their knives, slid back the door, and stepped in.



Chapter 15: Escaped.


So astonishing was the spectacle of three lightly-clad men,
appearing suddenly on board a craft moored out on the river, that
the three boatmen sat immovable, in the attitudes in which they had
been sitting at the entry of these strange visitors, without
uttering a word. Superstitious by nature, they doubted whether
there was not something supernatural in the appearance of the three
strangers.

"If you cry out or make the slightest sound," Fergus said, showing
his knife, "you are all dead men. If you sit quiet and do as we
order you, no harm will come to you. We want clothes. If you have
spare ones you can hand them to us. If not, we must take those you
have on. We are not robbers, and don't want to steal them. If you
will fix a fair price on the things, we will pay for them. But you
must in any case submit to be bound and gagged till morning; when,
on going on deck, you will find no difficulty in attracting the
attention of some of your comrades, who will at once release you.

"Keep your hands on the table while my friends take away your
knives. If one of you moves a hand, he is as good as a dead man."

His companions removed the knives from the belts of the two men
sitting outside, and then Fergus said to the third man:

"Now, hand over your knife. That will do.

"Now, which of you is the captain?"

"I am," the man sitting farthest from the door said.

"Very well. Now, have you spare clothes on board?"

"Yes, my lord," he replied, in a tone that showed that he had not
yet recovered from his first stupefaction, "we have our Sunday
suits."

"We don't want them," Fergus said. "We want the three suits that
you have on. What do you value them at?"

"Anything you like, my lord."

"No, I want to know how much they cost when new."

The man asked his two comrades, and then mentioned the total.

"Very well, we will give you that. Then you will have no reason for
grumbling, for you will get three new suits for three old ones.

"Now do you--" and he touched the man nearest to him "--take off
your coat, waistcoat, breeches, neck handkerchief, and boots, and
then get into that bunk."

The man did as he was ordered, as did the other two, in succession.
As they did so, Captain Ritzer had gone up on deck and returned
with a coil of thin rope that he had cut off. With this they tied
the men securely.

"There is no occasion to gag them, I think," Fergus said. "They
might shout as loud as they liked and, with this wind blowing, no
one would hear them; or if anyone did hear them, he would take it
for the shouting of a drunken man.

"Now, look here, my men. Here is the money to buy the new clothes.
We have not ill treated you in any way, have we?"

"No, sir, we are quite satisfied."

"Now, I should advise you, in the morning, to manage to untie each
other. We shall fasten the door up as we go out, but you will have
no difficulty in bursting that open, when you are once untied.

"Now I ask you, as you are satisfied, to say nothing about this
affair to anyone. It would only make you a joke among your
comrades, and could do you no good. The best thing that you can do,
when you get free, will be to dress yourselves in your Sunday
clothes, take your boat ashore, and buy new things in the place of
those we have taken."

"That is what we shall do, sir. No one would believe us, if we told
them that three men had come on board and taken our old clothes,
and given us money to buy new ones in their place."

The three boatmen were all tall and brawny Bavarians, and their
clothes fitted Fergus and his companions well. Fishermen's hats
completed their costume. The little cabin had been almost
oppressively warm, and they had completely got over their chill
when they left it, closing the door behind them.

They took their places in the boat, crossed to the opposite shore,
which was to some extent sheltered from the wind, and rowed some
three miles up. Then they landed, pushed the boat off into the
stream, kept along the bank until they came to a road branching off
to the left, and followed it until it struck the main road, a few
hundred yards away; and then walked west.

There had been but few words spoken since they left the barge. It
had been hard work rowing against wind and stream. The oars were
clumsy, and it had needed all their efforts to keep the boat's head
straight. Now that they were in the main road, they were somewhat
more sheltered.

"Well, Drummond, we have accomplished what seemed to me, in spite
of your confidence, well-nigh impossible. We have got out, we have
obtained disguises, and we have eight or nine hours before our
escape can be discovered. I shall believe anything you tell me, in
future," Ritzer said.

"Yes," his companion agreed, "I never believed that we should
succeed; though, as you had set your heart on it, I did not like to
hang back. But it really did seem to me a wild scheme, altogether.
I thought possibly we might get out of the fort, but I believed
that your plan of getting disguises would break down altogether.
The rest seemed comparatively easy.

"The rain has ceased, and the stars are coming out, which is a
comfort indeed. One was often wet through, for days together, when
campaigning; but after five months' coddling, an eight hours' tramp
in a blinding rain would have been very unpleasant, especially as
we have no change of clothes.

"Now, commanding officer, what is to be our next tale?"

"That is simple enough," Fergus said with a laugh. "We have been
down with a raft of timber from the mountains, and are on our way
back. That must be our story till we have passed Ratisbon. There is
but one objection, and that is a serious one. As raftsmen we should
certainly speak the Bavarian dialect, which none of us can do. For
that reason I think it would be safer to leave the Danube at
Passau, and make down through Munich. We should be at Passau
tomorrow morning, and can put up at any little place by the
riverside. Two days' walking will take us to Munich.

"Certainly no one would suspect us of being escaped prisoners. We
can get some other clothes tomorrow morning, and finish the rest of
our journey as countrymen.

"The principal thing will be to get rid of these high boots. I
think in other respects there is nothing very distinctive about our
dress. It will be more difficult to concoct a story, but we must
hope that we sha'n't be asked many questions, and I see no reason
why we should be. We shall look like peasants going from a country
village to a town, but if we could hit upon some story to account
for our not speaking the dialect, it would of course be a great
advantage."

They walked along in silence for some time. Then he went on:

"I should say we might give out that we are three Saxons who,
having been forced at Pirna to enter the Prussian army, had been
taken prisoners at Hochkirch and had been marched down with the
others to Vienna; and that there, on stating who we were and how we
had been forced against our will into Frederick's army, we were at
once released, and are now on our way back to Saxony; and are
tramping through Bavaria, so as to avoid the risk of being seized
and compelled to serve either in the Austrian army or the Prussian;
and that we are working our way, doing a job wherever we can get a
day or two's employment, but that at present, having worked for a
time at Vienna, we are able to go on for a bit without doing so.

"I think with that story we could keep to the plan of going up
through Ratisbon. It would be immensely shorter, and the story
would be more probable than that we should make such a big detour
to get home."

"Yes, I should think that would do well," Ritzer said, "and will
shorten the way by two hundred miles. But after leaving Passau, I
should think that we had better not follow the direct road until we
get to Ratisbon.

"I grant that as far as that town we ought to be quite safe, for
there is no chance of their finding out that we have escaped until
eight o'clock in the morning; then our colonel will have to report
the matter to the commandant in the town. No doubt he will send off
a small party of cavalry, by the Freyberg road to Budweis, to order
the authorities there to keep a sharp lookout for three men passing
north. But I doubt very much whether they will think of sending in
this direction. The escape of three Prussian officers is, after
all, no very important matter. Still, one cannot be too careful,
for possibly the commandant may send to Munich, Ratisbon, and
Vienna.

"It is more likely, however, that the search will be made
principally in and round Linz. They will feel quite sure that we
cannot possibly have obtained any disguises, and must have gone off
in our undergarments; and they will reckon that we should naturally
have hidden up in some outhouse, or country loft, until we could
find some opportunity for obtaining clothes. Most likely the barge
went on this morning, before the alarm had been given; but even if
it didn't, boatmen would not be likely to hear of the escape of
three prisoners.

"No, I think beyond Passau we shall be quite safe, as far as
pursuit goes; but it will be best to halt there only long enough to
take a good meal, and then to go on for a bit, and stop at some
quiet riverside village."

"I don't think I shall be able to go very far," Ritzer said. "These
boots are a great deal too large for me, and are chafing my feet
horribly. The road is good and level; and I was thinking, just now,
of taking them off and carrying them."

"That would be the best way, by far," Fergus said. "I should think
at Passau we are sure to find a boat going up to Ratisbon, and that
will settle the difficulty."

The distance was some thirty miles and, making one or two halts for
a rest, they reached Passau just as morning was breaking. In a
short time the little inns by the river opened their doors, and the
riverside was astir. They went into one of the inns and ate a
hearty meal, then they went down to the waterside, and found that
there were several country boats going up the river. They soon
bargained for a passage, and had just time to buy a basket of
bread, sausage, and cheese, with half a dozen bottles of wine,
before the boat started. There were no other passengers on board
and, telling the story they had agreed upon, they were soon on good
terms with the boatmen.

Including the windings of the river, it was some eighty miles to
Ratisbon. The boat was towed by two horses, and glided pleasantly
along, taking three days on the passage. They bought food at the
villages where the craft lay up for the night, and arrived at
Ratisbon at nine o'clock in the evening. There they found no
difficulty in obtaining a lodging at a small inn, where no
questions, whatever, were asked.

A short day's journey took them to Neumarkt, a tramp of upwards of
twenty miles. It was a longer journey on to Bamberg, and two days
later, to their satisfaction, they entered Coburg.

They were now out of Bavaria, and had escaped all difficulties as
to the dialect far better than they had anticipated, never having
been asked any questions since they left the boat at Ratisbon. They
had now only to say that they were on their way to join the
Confederate army that was again being gathered; but they preferred
avoiding all questions, by walking by night and resting at little
wayside inns during the day. Avoiding all towns, for the troops
were beginning to move, they crossed the Saxon frontier three days
after leaving Coburg, and then travelled by easy stages to Dresden.

Here they went straight to the headquarters of the commandant of
the town, and reported themselves to him. Fergus had personal
acquaintances on his staff, and had no difficulty in obtaining, for
himself and his companions, an advance of a portion of the pay due
to them, in order that they might obtain new outfits.

This took a couple of days, and the two captains then said goodbye
to Fergus, with many warm acknowledgments for the manner in which
he had enabled them to regain their freedom--expressions all the
more earnest since they heard that the Austrians had decided that,
in future, they would make no exchanges whatever of prisoners--and
started to rejoin their regiments.

Fergus felt strangely lonely when they had left him. The king was
at Breslau. Keith was lying dead in Hochkirch. What had become of
Lindsay he knew not, nor did he know to whom he ought to report
himself, or where Karl might be with his remaining charger and
belongings. Hitherto at Dresden he had felt at home. Now, save for
Count Eulenfurst and his family, he was a stranger in the place.

Naturally, therefore, he went out to their chateau. Here he was
received with the same warmth as usual.

"Of course we heard of your capture at Hochkirch," the count said,
"though not for many weeks afterwards. We were alarmed when the
news came of the marshal's death, for as it was upon his division
that the brunt of the battle had fallen, we feared greatly for you.
At last came the list the Austrians had sent in of the prisoners
they had taken, and we were delighted to see your name in it;
though, as the Austrians have been so chary of late of exchanging
prisoners, we feared that we might not see you for some time.
However, remembering how you got out of Spielberg, we did not
despair of seeing you back in the spring.

"Thirza was especially confident. I believe she conceives you
capable of achieving impossibilities. However, you have justified
her faith in you.

"Supper will be served in a few minutes, and as no doubt your story
is, as usual, a long one, we will not begin it until we have
finished the meal. But tell us first, how were you captured?"

"I was riding through the mist to find the marshal; whom I had not
seen for two hours, as I was with the regiment that defended the
church at Hochkirch, and then cut its way out through the
Austrians. The mist was so thick that I could not see ten yards
ahead, and rode plump into an Austrian battalion. They fired a
volley that killed poor Turk, and before I could get on my feet I
was surrounded and taken prisoner--not a very heroic way, I must
admit."

"A much pleasanter way, though, than that of being badly wounded,
and so found on the field by the enemy," the countess said; "and
you were fortunate, indeed, in getting through that terrible battle
unhurt."

"I was, indeed, countess; but I would far rather have lost a limb
than my dear friend and relation, the marshal. I was allowed to
attend his funeral the next day. The Austrians paid him every
honour and, though I have mourned for him most deeply, I cannot but
feel that it was the death he would himself have chosen. He had
been ailing for some months, and had twice been obliged to leave
his command and rest. It would, in any case, probably have been his
last campaign; and after such a wonderfully adventurous life as he
had led, he would have felt being laid upon the shelf sorely."

"His elder brother--Earl Marischal in Scotland, is he not?--who has
been governor for some years at Neufchatel, is with the king at
Breslau, at present. They say the king was greatly affected at the
loss of the marshal who, since Schwerin's death, has been his most
trusted general."

"I have never seen the marshal's brother," Fergus said, "though I
know that they were greatly attached to each other. I hope that he
will be at Breslau when I get there. I shall go and report myself
to the king, after I have had a few days' rest here. At present I
seem altogether unattached. The marshal's staff is, of course,
broken up; but as I served on the king's own staff twice, during
the last campaign, I trust that he will put me on it again."

"That he will do, of course," the count said. "After saving his
life at Zorndorf, he is sure to do so."

Supper was now announced, and after it had been removed and the
party drew round the fire, Fergus told them the story of his
escape.

"It was excellently managed," the count said, when he had finished.
"I do not know that it was quite as dramatic as your escape from
Spielberg, but I should think that, of the two, the escape from
Linz must have seemed the most hopeless. The plan of getting the
shutters open and of swimming the moat might have occurred to
anyone; but the fact that you were in uniform, and that it would
have been impossible to smuggle in a disguise, would have appeared
to most men an insuperable obstacle to carrying out the plan.

"You certainly are wonderfully full of resource. As a rule, I
should think that it is much more difficult for two men to make
their escape from a place than it is for one alone; but it did not
seem to be so, in this case."

"It certainly did not add to the difficulty of getting out of the
fort, count. Indeed, in one respect it rendered it more easy. There
were three of us to work at the heads of the rivets, and it
certainly facilitated our getting clothes from the boatmen, besides
rendering the journey much more pleasant than it would have been
for one of us alone.

"On the other hand, it would have been impossible to carry out the
escape from Spielberg in the manner I did, if I had had two
officers with me in the cell. We could not have hoped to obtain
three uniforms, could hardly have expected all to slip by the
sentry unnoticed. Lastly, the three of us could not have got post
horses. Still, it is quite possible that we might have escaped in
some other manner."

"Then you have not the most remote idea where you will find your
servant and horse?"

"Not the slightest. If Captain Lindsay got safely through the
battle of Hochkirch, I should say that my man would stick by him.
His servant, a tough Scotchman, and Karl are great chums; and I
have no doubt that, unless he received positive orders to the
contrary, Karl has kept company with him."

"Of course you can find out, from the authorities here, who has
taken command of Marshal Keith's division; and might possibly hear
whether he took over the marshal's personal staff, or whether he
brought his own officers with him."

"Yes, I should think I might do that, count. I think I shall in any
case report myself to the king; but if Lindsay were stationed at
any place I could pass through, on my way to Breslau, I would pick
up Karl and my horse."

"I shall of course send you another horse tomorrow," the count
said. "No, no, it is of no use your saying anything against it. It
was settled that I should supply you with mounts, while the war
lasted, and I intend to carry that out fully. I don't know that I
have another in my stables here that is quite equal to the other
pair, but there are two or three that approach them very nearly. If
you can get a mounted orderly, well and good; if not, I will lend
you one of my men. Any of my grooms would be delighted to go with
you, for all regard you as the saviour of our lives.

"I am afraid, my friend, you will not be able to pay us many more
visits. Your king is a miracle of steadfastness, of energy, and
rapidity; but even he cannot perform impossibilities. Leave out the
Russians, and I believe that he would be more than a match for the
Austrians, who are hampered by the slowness of their generals; but
Russia cannot be ignored. In the first campaign she was
non-existent, in the second she annexed East Prussia. This year you
have had a deadly tussle with her, next year she may be still more
formidable; and I do not believe that Frederick with all his skill,
and with the splendid valour his troops show, can keep the Russians
from advancing still further into the country, and at the same time
prevent the Austrians and the Federal army from snatching Dresden
from his grasp.

"I myself should regret this deeply. Prussia, although she taxes
the population heavily, at least permits no disorders nor ill
treatment of the people, no plundering of the villages; while the
Austrians, Croats, and Pandoors will spread like a swarm of hornets
over the land, and the state of the Saxons under their so-called
rescuers will be infinitely worse than it has been under their
conquerors."

"It would be a heavy blow to the king to lose Dresden," Fergus
agreed, "but I am by no means sure that he would not be better
without it; except, of course, that it would bring the enemy so
much nearer to Berlin, otherwise the loss of Saxony would be a
benefit to him. During all his movements, and in all his
combinations, he is forced to keep an eye on Dresden. At one moment
it is Soubise, with his mixed army of French, Austrians, and
Confederate troops, who have to be met and, leaving all else,
Frederick is forced to march away two or three hundred miles, and
waste two or three precious months before he can get a blow at
them. Then he has to leave a considerable force to prevent them
gathering again, while he hurries back to prevent Daun from
besieging Dresden, or to wrest Silesia again out of his hands.
Saxony lost, he could devote his whole mind and his whole power to
the Russian and Austrian armies; who will no doubt, at the next
campaign, endeavour to act together; and the nearer they are to
each other, the more easily and rapidly can he strike blows at them
alternately."

"Perhaps you are right," the count said, "and certainly the
Austrians would have to keep a considerable force to garrison
Dresden and hold Saxony; for they would be sure that, at the very
first opportunity, Frederick would be among them raining his blows
rapidly and heavily. As to any advance north, they would not dare
attempt it; for Frederick, who can move more than twice as fast as
any Austrian army, would fall on their flank or rear and annihilate
them.

"Still, the blow would be undoubtedly a heavy one for the king,
inasmuch as it would greatly raise the spirits of his enemies, and
would seem to show them that the end was approaching."

"I think the end is a good way off still, count. Even if the
Russians and Austrians marched across Prussia, they would hold
little more than the ground they stood on. Frederick would be ever
hovering round them, attacking them on every opportunity, and
preventing them from sending off detached columns; while the
cavalry of Ziethen and Seidlitz would effectually prevent Cossacks
and Croats from going out to gather stores for the armies, and to
plunder and massacre on their own account. I doubt whether anything
short of the annihilation of his army would break the king's spirit
and, so far as I can see, that is by no means likely to take
place."

"However, the point at present, my friend, is that if the Austrians
get Dresden, it may be long before we see you again."

"I fancy that when the army goes into winter quarters again, if I
am able to get leave of absence, I shall do myself the pleasure of
paying you a visit, whether the city has changed hands or not. If
one can travel twice through Austria without being detected, it is
hard indeed if I cannot make my way into Saxony."

"But you must not run too great risks," the countess said. "You
know how glad we should be to see you, and that we regard you as
one of ourselves; but even a mother could hardly wish a son to run
into such danger, in order that they might see each other for a
short time."

"What do you say, Thirza?" her father asked.

The girl, thus suddenly addressed, coloured hotly.

"I should be glad to see him, father--he knows that very well--but
I should not like him to run risks."

"But he is always running risks, child; and that, so far as I can
see, without so good a reason. At any rate, I shall not join your
mother in protesting. What he says is very true. He has twice made
his way many hundreds of miles in disguise, for the purpose of
getting here in time for the first fighting; and I do not think
that there will be anything like the same risk in his coming here
to pay us a visit.

"At the same time, I would not say a single word to induce him to
do so. There is no saying where he may be when the next winter sets
in, or what may take place during the coming campaign. In times
like these it is folly to make plans of any sort, three months in
advance. I only say therefore that, should everything else be
favourable, I think that an Austrian occupation of Saxony would not
be a very serious obstacle to his paying us a visit, next winter.

"Once here, he would be absolutely safe, and as the household know
what he has done for us--and probably for them, for there is no
saying whether some, at least, of them might not have been killed
by those villains--their absolute discretion and silence can be
relied upon.

"However, it may be that we shall see him long before that. The
king may have occasion to be here many times, during the summer."

The count would not hear of Fergus returning to the hotel where he
had put up, and for a week he remained at the chateau, where the
time passed very pleasantly. The luxurious appointments, the
hospitable attentions of his host and hostesses, and the whole of
his surroundings formed a strong contrast, indeed, both to his life
when campaigning, and the five months he had spent in the casemate
at Linz.

At the end of that time he felt he ought to be on the move again.
He had learnt that the officers of the marshal's staff had been
dispersed, some being attached to other divisions; and that Lindsay
was now upon the staff of Prince Henry. The prince was out Erfurt
way, and had already had some sharp fighting with the French and
the Confederate army. Fergus had learned this on the day after his
arrival at the chateau, and also that to the east there was no sign
of any movement on the part of Daun or of the king. He therefore
suffered himself to be persuaded to stay on for the week.

"Nobody is expecting you, Drummond," the count said. "No doubt they
will be glad to see you, but they will be just as glad ten days
later as ten days earlier. You are believed to be safe in some
Austrian prison, and you may be sure that no one will make any
inquiries whether you spent a week, or a month, in recovering from
your fatigues before taking up your duties again. At any rate, you
must stay for at least a week."

The visit was, indeed, extended two days beyond that time; for the
count and countess so pressed him that he was glad to give way,
especially as his own inclinations strongly seconded their
entreaties. On the ninth morning he was astonished when his bedroom
door opened and Karl came in, and gave his morning's salute as
impassively as if he had seen him the evening before.


[Illustration: "Why, Karl!" Fergus exclaimed, "where do you
spring from--when did you arrive?"]


"Why, Karl!" he exclaimed, "where do you spring from--how did you
know that I was here--when did you arrive?"

"I arrived last night, major, but as it was late we went straight
to the stable."

"Who is we, Karl?"

"The count's messenger, sir. He reached me at Erfurt, where I was
with Captain Lindsay, four days ago; and I started with him half an
hour later. He had set out from here with a led horse, and had
ridden through with but one night in bed; and we had changes of
horses, coming back. And Tartar is in good condition, major. I led
him all the way down."

"That is most kind and thoughtful of the count," Fergus exclaimed,
as he began to dress.

"Well, I am heartily glad to see you again, Karl. I was by no means
sure that you had got off safely at Hochkirch. I looked round for
you, directly I had been captured; but could see nothing of you,
and knew not whether you had ridden off, or had been killed by that
volley that finished poor Turk, and brought about my capture."

"It was a bad business, major, and I have never forgiven myself
that I was not by your side; but the thing was so sudden that I was
taken altogether by surprise. My horse was grazed with a bullet,
and what with that and the sudden flash of fire, he bolted. I had
just caught sight of you and Turk, going down in a heap, as my
horse spun round; and it had galloped a full hundred yards before I
could check it.

"Then I did not know what was best to do. It seemed to me that you
must certainly be killed. If I had been sure that you had been
wounded and taken prisoner I should have gone back; but even then I
might, more likely than not, have been shot by the Austrians before
I could explain matters. But I really thought that you were killed;
and as, from the shouting and firing, it seemed to me that the
enemy had it all their own way there, I rode back to the farmhouse.

"Luckily the Austrians had not got there, so I took Tartar and rode
with him to the king's quarters, and left him with his grooms, who
knew him well enough; and then later on, having nothing else to do,
I joined Seidlitz, and had the satisfaction of striking many a good
blow in revenge for you.

"Late in the afternoon when the fighting was over I found Captain
Lindsay, and told him about your loss. He comforted me a bit by
saying that he did not think you were born to be shot, and said
that I had better stay with Donald till there was news about you.
Two days later he told me they had got the list of the prisoners
the Austrians had taken, and that you were with them, and
unwounded.

"Then, major, I was furious with myself that I had not been taken
prisoner, too. I should have been more troubled still if Captain
Lindsay had not said that, in the first place, Tartar would have
been lost if I had not come back straight to fetch him; and that,
in the second place, it was not likely you would have been able to
keep me with you had I been a prisoner, and we might not even have
been shut up in the same fortress.

"I asked him what I had better do, and he said:

"'I am going west to join Prince Henry. You had better come with
me. You may be sure that there will be no questions asked about
you, one way or the other. I have no doubt Major Drummond will be
back in the spring. He is sure to get out, somehow.'

"It seemed to me that that was the best plan too, major. If I had
been sent back to my regiment, I don't know what I should have done
with your horse; and then, if you did return, I might not have
heard about it, and you would not have known what had become of me.
Once or twice during the last month Captain Lindsay has said to me:

"'Your master ought to have been here before this, Karl. I quite
reckoned on his arriving by the end of March.'

"I said perhaps you had not been able to get out, but he would not
hear of it. He said once:

"'If you were to head up the major in a barrel, he could find a way
out of it somehow. He will be back soon.'

"He seemed so positive about it that I was not a bit surprised when
the messenger came, and said that you were at the count's here, and
that I was to ride with him post haste, so as to catch you before
you started to join the king at Breslau.

"Captain Lindsay was as pleased as I was. He was just mounting when
the messenger came in, but wrote a line on the leaf of his pocket
book. Here it is, sir."

The slip of paper merely contained the words:

"A thousand welcomes, my dear Drummond! I have been expecting you
for some time. I wish you had turned up here, instead of at
Dresden. Hope to see you again soon."

By this time Fergus had dressed.

"My dear count," he exclaimed, as he entered the room where the
count and his wife and daughter were already assembled, "how can I
thank you for your great kindness, in taking such pains to fetch
Karl and my horse down for me."

"I had no great pains about the matter," the count replied, with a
smile. "I simply wrote to my steward that a messenger must be sent
to Erfurt, at once; to order Major Drummond's soldier servant to
come here, at all speed, with his master's horse and belongings.

"'Make what arrangements you like,' I said, 'for relays of horses;
but anyhow, he must get to Erfurt in three days, and I will give
him four for coming back again with the man. He is to be found at
the quarters of Captain Lindsay, who is on the staff of Prince
Henry. If Captain Lindsay himself is away, you must find out his
servant.'

"That was all the trouble that I had in the matter. You have really
to thank Thirza, for it was her idea. Directly you had left the
room, after your telling us that Lindsay was with Prince Henry and
most likely at Erfurt, she said:

"'I should think, father, that there would be time to fetch Major
Drummond's servant and horse. It is not so very far, and surely it
might be done in a week.'

"'Well thought of!' I said. 'It is a hundred and seventy miles. A
courier with relays of horses could do it in three days, without
difficulty; and might be back here again, with Drummond's servant,
in another four days. I will give orders at once. We can manage to
get Drummond to delay his departure for a day or two.'

"So the thing was done."



Chapter 16: At Minden.


On the following day Fergus started, riding the new horse the count
had given him, while Karl led Tartar. The journey to Breslau was
performed without adventure. He found on arrival that the king had,
ten days before, gone to Landshut, round which place a portion of
his army was cantoned. At Landshut he commanded the main pass into
Bohemia, was in a position to move rapidly towards any point where
Daun might endeavour to break through into Silesia, and was yet but
a few marches from Dresden, should the tide of war flow in that
direction.

Already several blows had been struck at the enemy. As early as the
16th of February, Prince Henry had attacked the Confederate army
which, strengthened by some Austrian regiments, had intended to
fortify itself in Erfurt, and driven it far away; while the Prince
of Brunswick had made a raid into the small Federal states, and
carried off two thousand prisoners. Early in March a force from
Glogau had marched into Poland, and destroyed many Russian
magazines; while on April 13th, the very day on which Fergus
arrived at Breslau, Duke Ferdinand had fought a battle with the
French army under Broglio, near Bergen. The French, however, were
very strongly posted, and Ferdinand was unable to capture their
position, and lost twenty-five hundred men, while the French loss
was but nineteen hundred.

On the same day Prince Henry crossed the mountains, and destroyed
all the Austrian magazines through the country between Eger and
Prague--containing food for an army of fifty thousand for five
months--captured three thousand prisoners, and burnt two hundred
boats collected on the Elbe, near Leitmeritz; and was back again
after an absence of but nine days. A fortnight later he was off
again, marching this time towards Bamberg, burning magazines and
carrying off supplies. He captured Bayreuth and Bamberg, took
twenty-five hundred prisoners, and struck so heavy a blow at the
little princelings of the Confederacy that he was able to leave
matters to themselves in the west, should the king require his aid
against Daun or the Russians.

On the 16th of April Fergus arrived at Landshut, and proceeded to
the royal quarters. On sending his name to the king, he was at once
ushered in.

"So you have returned, Major Drummond," Frederick said cordially,
"and in plenty of time to see the play! Though indeed, I should not
be surprised if it is some time before the curtain draws up. I had
some hopes that you might rejoin, for after your last escape I
doubted whether any Austrian prison would hold you long. I am glad
to see you back again.

"Ah! it was a heavy loss, that of our good marshal. None but myself
can say how I miss him. He was not only, as a general, one of the
best and most trustworthy; but as a friend he was always cheery,
always hopeful, one to whom I could tell all my thoughts. Ah! If I
had but taken his advice at Hochkirch, I should not have had to
mourn his loss.

"It was a heavy blow to you also, Major Drummond."

"A heavy blow indeed, your Majesty. He was as kind to me as if he
had been my father."

"I will try to supply his place," the king said gravely. "He died
in my service, and through my error.

"For my own sake, I am glad that you are here. You have something
of his temperament, and I can talk freely with you, too, whatever
comes into my head."

"I did not know whether I did rightly in coming to report myself
direct to you, sire; but your kindness has always been so great to
me that I thought it would be best to come straight to you, instead
of reporting myself elsewhere, having indeed no fixed post or
commander."

"You did quite right. By the way, Keith's brother, the Scottish
Earl Marischal, is here."

He touched a bell, and said to the officer who came in:

"Will you give my compliments to Earl Marischal Keith, and beg him
to come to me for a few minutes."

Two minutes later Keith entered--a tall man, less strongly built
than his brother, but much resembling him.

"Excuse my sending for you, Earl Marischal," the king said, "but I
wanted to introduce to you your young cousin, Major Drummond; a
very brave young officer, as you may well imagine, since he has
already gained that rank, and wears our military order of the Black
Eagle. He tells me that he has not hitherto met you; but he came
over here at your brother's invitation, was a very great favourite
of his, and was deeply attached to him."

"My brother mentioned you frequently, in his letters to me," Keith
said, holding out his hand to Fergus. "I knew but little of your
mother, first cousin as she is; for being ten years older than my
brother, she was but a little child in my eyes when I last saw her.
Were it not that I am past military work, I would gladly try to
fill my brother's place to you; but if I cannot aid you in your
profession, I can at least give you a share of my affection."

"As to his profession, Keith, that is my business," the king said.
"He saved my life at Zorndorf, and has in so many ways distinguished
himself that his success in his career is already assured. He is, by
many years, the youngest major in the service; and if this war goes
on, there is no saying to what height he may rise.

"He has just returned from an Austrian prison where, as I told you
when you joined me, he was carried after Hochkirch. I don't know
yet how he escaped. He must dine with me this evening, and
afterwards he shall tell us about it. Mitchell dines with us, also.
He, too, is a friend of this young soldier, and has a high opinion
of him."

That evening after dinner Fergus related to the party, which
consisted only of the king, Keith, and the British ambassador, how
he had escaped from prison.

"The next time the Austrians catch you, Major Drummond," the king
said when he had finished, "if they want to keep you, they will
have to chain you by the leg, as they used to do in the old times."

For months the Prussian and Austrian armies lay inactive. Daun had
supposed that, as the king had begun the three previous campaigns
by launching his forces into Bohemia, he would be certain to follow
the same policy; and he had therefore placed his army in an almost
impregnable position, and waited for the king to assume the
offensive. Frederick, however, felt that with his diminished forces
he could no longer afford to dash himself against the strong
positions so carefully chosen and intrenched by the enemy; and must
now confine himself to the defensive, and leave it to the Austrians
to attempt to cross the passes and give battle. The slowness with
which they marched, in comparison with the speed at which the
Prussian troops could be taken from one point to another, gave him
good ground for believing that he should find many opportunities
for falling upon the enemy, when in movement.

It was a long time before the Austrian general recognized the
change in Frederick's strategy, still longer before he could bring
himself to abandon his own tactics of waiting and fortifying, and
determine to abandon his strongholds and assume the offensive. When
July opened he had, by various slow and careful marches, planted
himself in a very strong position at Marklissa; while Frederick, as
usual, was watching him. Daun was well aware that Frederick, of all
things, desired to bring on a battle; but knowing that the
Russians, one hundred thousand strong, under Soltikoff, were
steadily approaching, he determined to wait where he was, and to
allow the brunt of the fighting, for once, to fall on them.

Fergus, by this time, was far away. The long weeks had passed as
slowly to him as they had to the king, and he was very glad indeed
when, on the 2nd of June, Frederick said to him:

"I know that you are impatient for action, Major Drummond. Your
blood is younger than mine, and I feel it hard enough to be
patient, myself. However, I can find some employment for you. Duke
Ferdinand has now, you know, twelve thousand English troops with
him. He has written to me saying that, as neither of his
aides-de-camp can speak English, he begs that I would send him an
officer who can do so; for very few of the British are able to
speak German, and serious consequences might arise from the
misapprehension of orders on the day of battle. Therefore I have
resolved to send you to him, and you can start tomorrow, at
daybreak. I will have a despatch prepared for you to carry to the
duke; who of course, by the way, knows you, and will, I am sure, be
glad to have you with him. Later on I must send another of my
Scottish officers to take your place with him, for I like having
you with me. However, at present you are wasting your time, and may
as well go."

"We are off again tomorrow morning, Karl," Fergus said, in high
spirits, as he reached his quarters.

"That is the best news that I have heard since the count's
messenger brought me word, at Erfurt, that you had returned, major.
It has been the dullest six weeks we have had since we first
marched from Berlin; for while in winter one knows that nothing can
be done, and so is content to rest quietly, in spring one is always
expecting something, and if nothing comes of it one worries and
grumbles."

"It is a long ride we are going this time, Karl."

"I don't care how how long it is, major, so that one is moving."

"I am going to join the Duke of Brunswick's staff."

"That is something like a ride, major," Karl said in surprise, "for
it is right from one side of Prussia to the other."

"Yes, it is over four hundred and fifty miles."

"Well, major, we have got good horses, and they have had an easy
time of it, lately."

"How long do you think that we shall take?"

"Well, major, the horses can do forty miles a day, if they have a
day to rest, halfway. Your horses could do more, riding them on
alternate days; but it would be as much as mine could do to manage
that."

"We must take them by turns, Karl. That will give each horse a
partial rest--one day out of three."

"Like that they could do it, I should say, major, in about a
fortnight."

They rode first to Breslau, and thence to Magdeburg, passing
through many towns on the long journey, but none of any great
importance. At Magdeburg they heard that they must make for
Hanover, where they would be able to ascertain the precise position
of the duke's army, which was on the northern frontier of
Westphalia.

While the French, under the Duke of Broglio, were advancing north
from Frankfort-on-Maine; another French army, under Contades, was
moving against Ferdinand from the west. As it was probable that
there would, at least, be no great battle until the two French
armies combined, Fergus, who had already given his horses two days'
complete rest, remained for three days at Magdeburg; as it was
likely that he would have to work them hard, when he joined the
duke.

Five days later he rode into the Duke of Brunswick's principal
camp, which was near Osnabrueck, where was situated his central
magazine.

"I am glad to see you, Major Drummond," the duke said cordially,
when Fergus reported himself. "I thought perhaps the king would
select you for the service, and I know how zealous and active you
are. I am greatly in need of a staff officer who can speak English,
for none of mine can do so.

"I think that we shall have some hard fighting here, soon. You see
that I am very much in the position of the king, menaced from two
directions. If I move to attack Contades, Broglio will have Hanover
entirely open to him; while if I move against him, Contades will
capture Muenster and Osnabrueck and get all my magazines, and might
even push on and occupy the town of Hanover, before I could get
back. So you see, I have nothing to do but to wait in this
neighbourhood until I see their designs.

"I have some twelve thousand of your countrymen here, and I rely
upon them greatly. We know how they fought at Fontenoy. Splendid
fellows they are. There is a Scotch regiment with them, whose
appearance in kilts and feathers in no slight degree astonishes
both the people and my own soldiers. Their cavalry are very fine,
too. They have much heavier horses than ours, and should be
terrible in a charge.

"How long have you been on the road?"

"I have been eighteen days, sir. I could have ridden faster myself,
having a spare charger, but my orderly could hardly travel more
rapidly; and indeed, when I got to Magdeburg, and found that it was
not likely that there would be any engagement for some time, I
allowed the horses three days' rest, so that they should be fit for
service as soon as they arrived here."

A tent was at once erected in the staff lines for Fergus. He found,
upon inquiry, that the British division was at present at Muenster.
He was invited by the duke to dinner that evening, and was
introduced to the officers of the staff; who received him
courteously, but with some surprise that one so young should not
only bear the rank of major, but the coveted insignia of the Black
Eagle.

The duke, however, when the introductions were over, gave them a
short account of the newcomer's services, and after dinner begged
Fergus to tell them how he escaped from Linz; and they had a hearty
laugh over the manner in which he and his companions obtained their
first disguise.

"I have heard something of this," Colonel Zolwyn, the head of the
staff, said. "Captains Stauffen and Ritzer were both ordered here,
on their arrival at Berlin; and though I have not met them, I have
heard from others of their escape from Linz, which they ascribed
entirely to a major of Marshal Keith's staff, who was a fellow
prisoner of theirs."

For the next three weeks Fergus was on horseback from morning till
night. The movements of the troops were incessant. The two French
generals manoeuvred with great skill, giving no opportunity for the
Duke of Brunswick to strike a blow at either. Broglio, guided by a
treacherous peasant, captured Minden by surprise. Contades, with
thirty thousand men, had taken up an unassailable position: his
right wing on the Weser, and his left on impassable bogs and
quagmires, and with his front covered by the Bastau, a deep and
unfordable brook. Thirty thousand of his troops were occupied in
besieging Muenster and Osnabrueck, and other places, and succeeded
in capturing the latter, containing the duke's magazines of hay and
cavalry forage.

The duke's position became very grave, and the French believed
that, in a very short time, they would be masters of all Hanover.
Broglio's force of twenty thousand men was on the east side of the
Weser, and Ferdinand was unable to move to strike a blow at the
detached force of Contades; for had he done so, Broglio would have
captured the city of Hanover, which lay perfectly open to him
within a day's march.

Fergus had been specially employed in carrying despatches to the
British division, and had made many acquaintances among the
officers. As the army gradually concentrated, when the French
forces drew closer together, he often spent the evening in their
tents when the day's work was done.

In the Scotch regiment he was soon quite at home. The fact that he
was related to Marshal Keith, of whom every Scotchman was proud,
and had been one of his aides-de-camp, sufficed in itself to render
him at once popular. The officers followed with eager interest the
accounts of the various battles he had witnessed, and little by
little extracted from him some account of the manner in which he
had won his steps so rapidly in the Prussian service. He found that
they, and the British troops in general, had a profound dislike for
Lord Sackville; who commanded them, but who was especially in
command of their cavalry. All described him as a heavy, domineering
fellow, personally indolent and slow, on ill terms with the Duke of
Brunswick, whom in a quiet and obstinate way he seemed bent on
thwarting.

"He is an ill-conditioned brute," one of the officers remarked.
"The only thing to be said for him is that he is not deficient in
personal courage. He has fought several duels, into which he
brought himself by his overbearing temper."

Although he had frequently carried despatches to Sackville, Fergus
had not exchanged a word with him. The English general had taken
the paper from his hand, barely acknowledging his salute; and not
indeed glancing at him, but turning on his heel and walking off to
read the contents of the despatch, which generally appeared to
displease him, judging by the manner in which he spoke to his
officers. Then he would go into his tent, and one of his
aides-de-camp would shortly come out with a letter containing his
reply.

Fergus naturally came to regard the English commander with the same
dislike that his own officers felt for him. One day, when handing
him a despatch, he omitted the usual salute. Sackville noticed it
at once.

"Why do you not salute, sir?" he said, raising his head, and for
the first time looking at the duke's aide-de-camp.

"This is the twelfth time, sir, that I have brought despatches from
the Duke of Brunswick. Upon each occasion I have made the military
salute. By the regulations of the army, I believe that the superior
officer is as much bound to return a salute as the inferior officer
is to render it. As you have not chosen, upon any one of those
twelve occasions, to return my salute, I see no reason why I should
continue to give it."

Sackville looked at him as he shouted in English, with astonishment
and rage:

"And who the devil are you?"

"I am Major Fergus Drummond, a companion of the order of the Black
Eagle, and an aide-de-camp of the King of Prussia."

"The deuce you are!" Sackville said insolently. "I did not know
that the King of Prussia promoted lads to be majors, chose them for
his aides-de-camp, and made them companions of his order."

"Then, sir, you know it now," Fergus said quietly; "and for an
explanation of my rank, I beg to refer you to the Duke of
Brunswick; who will, I doubt not, be not unwilling to explain the
matter to you."

"I shall report your insolence to the duke, at any rate, sir. Were
it not for my position here, I would myself condescend to give you
the lesson of which you seem to me to be in want."

"I should doubt, sir, whether I could receive any lesson at your
hands; but after this affair has terminated, I shall be happy to
afford you an opportunity of endeavouring to do so."

Lord Sackville was on the point of replying, when the colonel of
his staff, whom Fergus had met at dinner at the duke's, and who
spoke German fluently, came up and said:

"Pardon me, general. Can I speak to you for a moment?"

Fergus reined back his horse a length or two, while the officer
spoke rapidly to Lord Sackville.

"I don't care a fig," the latter burst out passionately.

The officer continued to speak. The general listened sullenly, then
turning to Fergus, he said:

"Well, sir, we shall leave the matter as it is. As soon as this
battle is over, I shall waive my rank and meet you."

"I shall be ready at any time," Fergus said; and then, formally
saluting, he rode away.

"I suppose you have no answer, Major Drummond," the duke said, when
he returned to his quarters; "but indeed, there is none needed."

"I have no answer, sir, and indeed did not wait for one. Lord
Sackville and I had a somewhat hot altercation;" and he related,
word for word, what had passed.

"It is a pity, but I cannot blame you," the duke said, when Fergus
had finished. "The man has given me a great deal of trouble, ever
since he joined us with his force. He is always slow in obeying
orders. Sometimes he seems wilfully to misunderstand them, and
altogether he is a thorn in my side. I am glad, indeed, that the
British infantry division are entirely under my control. With them
I have no difficulty whatever. He was entirely in the wrong in this
matter; and I certainly should address a remonstrance to him, on
the subject of his manner and language to one of my staff, but our
relations are already unpleasantly strained, and any open breach
between us might bring about a serious disaster."

"I certainly should not wish that you should make any allusion to
the matter, sir. Possibly I may have an opportunity of teaching him
to be more polite, after we have done with the French."

By two sudden strokes the duke, in the third week of July, obtained
possession of Bremen, thereby obtaining a port by which stores and
reinforcements from England could reach him; and also recaptured
Osnabrueck, and found to his great satisfaction that the French had
also established a magazine there, so that the stores were even
larger than when they had taken it from him.

The great point was to induce Contades to move from his impregnable
position. He knew that both Contades and Broglio were as anxious as
he was to bring about a battle, did they but see an advantageous
opportunity; and he took a bold step to tempt them.

On the 30th of July he sent the Hereditary Prince, with a force of
ten thousand men, to make a circuit and fall upon Gohfeld, ten
miles up the Weser; and so cut the line by which Contades brought
up the food for his army from Cassel, seventy miles to the south.
Such a movement would compel the French either to fight or to fall
back. It was a bold move and, had it not succeeded, would have been
deemed a rash one; for it left him with but thirty-six thousand men
to face the greatly superior force of the French.

The bait proved too tempting for the French generals. It seemed to
them that the duke had committed a fatal mistake. His left, leaning
on the Weser was, by the march of the force to Gohfeld, left
unsupported at a distance of three miles from the centre; and it
seemed to them that they could now hurl themselves into the gap,
destroy the duke's left, and then crush his centre and right, and
cut off whatever remnant might escape from Hanover.

On Tuesday evening, July 1st, the French got into motion as soon as
it was dark. During the night Contades crossed, by nineteen bridges
that he had thrown across the Bastau; while at the same time
Broglio crossed the Weser, by the bridge of the town, and took up
his position facing the Prussian left wing, which rested on the
village of Todtenhausen, intending to attack him early in the
morning, and to finish before the duke could bring the centre to
his assistance.

Feeling sure that the French would fall into the trap, the duke
ordered his cavalry to mount at one o'clock in the morning, and
moved in with his troops from the villages around which they were
encamped; closing in towards Minden, whereby the centre gradually
came into touch with the left, the whole forming a segment of a
circle, of which Minden was the centre.

The French also formed a segment of a similar circle, nearer to
Minden. Contades was a long time getting his troops into position,
for great confusion was caused by their having crossed by so many
bridges, and it took hours to range them in order of battle.

Broglio was in position, facing the duke's left, at five o'clock in
the morning. He was strong in artillery and infantry; but as the
ground on both flanks was unfavourable for the action of cavalry,
these were all posted in the centre. The cavalry, indeed, was the
strongest portion of the force. They numbered ten thousand, and
were the flower of the French army.

The duke placed six regiments of British infantry in his centre.
They were the 12th, 20th, 23rd, 25th, 37th and 51st. Some regiments
of Hanoverians were in line behind them. The British cavalry were
on the duke's right. The morning was misty, and it was not until
eight o'clock that both sides were ready, and indeed even then
Contades' infantry was not finally settled in its position.

The battle began with an attack by some Hessian regiments on the
village of Hahlen, and by a very heavy fire of artillery on both
sides. The orders to the English regiments had been, "March to
attack the enemy on sound of drum," meaning that they were to move
when the drums gave the signal for the advance. The English,
however, understood the order to be, "You are to advance to the
sound of your drums." They waited for a time, while the attack on
Hahlen continued. It was repulsed three times before it succeeded,
but before this happened the English regiments lost patience, and
said, "We ought to be moving." The drums therefore struck up and,
to the astonishment of the Hanoverians, these English battalions
strode away towards the enemy. However, the regiments of the second
line followed.

As the British stepped forward, a tremendous crossfire of artillery
opened upon them, thirty guns on one side and as many on the other;
but in spite of this the six regiments pressed on unfalteringly,
with their drums beating lustily behind them. Then there was a
movement in their front, and a mighty mass of French cavalry poured
down upon them. The English halted, closed up the gaps made by the
artillery, held their fire until the leading squadrons of the
French were within forty paces, and then opened a tremendous file
fire. Before it man and horse went down. At so short a distance
every bullet found its billet and, for the first time in history, a
line of infantry repulsed the attack of a vastly superior body of
cavalry.

Astonished, and hampered by the fallen men and horses of their
first line, the French cavalry reined up and trotted sullenly back
to reform and repeat the charge. The British drums beat furiously
as the French rode forward again, only to be repulsed as before.
Six times did the cavalry, with a bravery worthy of their
reputation, renew the charge. Six times did they draw back
sullenly, as the leading squadrons withered up under the storm of
shot. Then they could do no more, but rode back in a broken and
confused mass through the gaps between their infantry, throwing
these also into partial confusion.

"Ride to Lord Sackville, and tell him to charge with his cavalry,
at once," the duke said to Fergus; and then checking himself said,
"No, I had better send someone else," and repeated the order to
another of his staff.

Sackville only replied that he did not see his way to doing so. A
second and then a third officer were sent to him, with a like
result, and at last he himself left his cavalry and rode to the
duke and inquired:

"How am I to go on?"

The duke curbed his anger at seeing the fruits of victory lost. He
replied quietly:

"My lord, the opportunity is now past."

Harassed only by the fire of the British and Hanoverian guns, and
by that of the British infantry, Contades drew off his army by the
nineteen bridges into his stronghold. Broglio, who had done nothing
save keep up a cannonade, covered the retreat with his division.
The total amount of loss on the duke's side was two thousand eight
hundred and twenty-two, of which more than half belonged to the
British infantry. The French loss was seven thousand and
eighty-six, with their heavy guns and many flags; but had Sackville
done his duty, their army would have been annihilated, pent up as
it was with the river on each flank, convergent to each other at
Minden; a perfect rat trap from which no army could have escaped,
had it been hotly pressed by cavalry.

The feat performed by the British infantry astonished Europe, who
were at first almost incredulous that six regiments in line could
have repulsed, over and over again, and finally driven off the
field, ten thousand of the best cavalry of France.

While the battle was raging, the Hereditary Prince had done his
share of the work, had fallen upon Gohfeld, crushed the French
division guarding it, cutting the French from their magazines and
rendering their position untenable. They received the news that
evening, and at once commenced their retreat, Broglio towards
Frankfort and Contades straight for the Rhine. The latter was
obliged to abandon all his baggage, and many of his guns; and his
army, by the time it had reached the Rhine, had become a mere
rabble. The general was at once recalled in disgrace, and Broglio
appointed commander-in-chief; although by failing to carry out the
orders he had received, to fall upon the allies left at five in the
morning, he had largely contributed to the defeat that had befallen
Contades.



Chapter 17: Unexpected News.


The fury of the British cavalry, at the shameful inactivity in
which they had been maintained, was unbounded; and their commander,
if he moved from his tent, was saluted with hisses and jeers by the
troopers. It was not for long, however; for as soon as the news was
known at home, he was ordered to return. On the afternoon of the
same day, an officer rode over to headquarters and asked for Major
Drummond.

"I am here, sir," he said courteously, "on behalf of Lord
Sackville. He will be leaving for England tomorrow, and I am the
bearer of a hostile message from him. I shall be obliged if you
will put me in communication with some officer who will act on your
behalf."

"Certainly," Fergus replied. "I was expecting such a message."

He had already heard of the order that Sackville had received; and
had requested Major Kurstad, a fellow aide-de-camp, to act for him
should he send him a hostile message. Going in he spoke to Kurstad,
who at once went out and introduced himself to the British officer.

"This is a painful business," the latter said, "and I can assure
you that I do not undertake it willingly. However, I overheard the
altercation between Lord Sackville and Major Drummond, and the same
night he asked me to act for him, when the time for it came. I
consented, and cannot draw back from the undertaking; but I need
hardly say that, after what happened at Minden, no English officer,
unless previously pledged, would have consented to act for him. I
suppose, sir, there is no use in asking whether the matter cannot
be arranged."

"Not in the slightest. Major Drummond told me that he had expressed
his willingness to meet the general, and he is certainly not one to
withdraw from his word. My friend chooses swords. In fact the use
of pistols, on such occasions, is quite unknown in the Continental
army."

"As Lord Sackville leaves tomorrow morning, we should be glad if
you would name an early hour."

"As early as you like. It is light at half-past four."

"Then shall we say five o'clock?"

"Certainly."

"And the place?"

"There is a small clump of trees on the heath, two miles west of
our camp."

"We will be there at that time, sir. Would you object to each side
being accompanied by a second friend? I ask it because, did
anything happen to my principal, I should certainly wish that
another witness was present at the duel."

"We have no objection," Major Kurstad said. "We shall also bring a
surgeon with us, and of course you can do the same, if you are
disposed."

The two officers saluted, and the major returned to Fergus.

"Do you mean to kill him?" he asked, after he had told him of the
arrangements that had been made.

"Certainly not. The man is an overbearing fool, and I merely wish
to give him a lesson. Personally, I should be glad if the whole of
the officers of the British force could be present, in order that
he might be as much humiliated as possible; but even if I hated the
man--and I have no shadow of feeling of that kind--I would not kill
him. He is going home to England to be tried by court martial, and
its sentence is likely to be a far heavier blow, to a bully of that
kind, than death would be. He has a taste of it already, for I hear
that he is hooted whenever he leaves his tent."

At the appointed time the two parties arrived, almost at the same
moment, at a spot arranged. Fergus was accompanied by Major Kurstad
and another officer of the duke's staff, and by the duke's own
surgeon. Formal salutations were exchanged between the seconds. The
duelling swords were examined, and found to be of the same length.
There was no difficulty in choosing the ground, as there was an
open space in the centre of the little wood, and the sun had not
risen high enough to overtop the trees. As, therefore, the glade
was in shade, there was no advantage, in point of light, to either
combatant.

Lord Sackville had the reputation of being a good fencer, but in
point of physique there was no comparison between the combatants.
Sackville was a tall and powerfully-built man, but dissipation and
good living had rendered his muscles flabby and sapped his
strength, although he was still in what should have been his prime.
Fergus, on the other hand, had not a superfluous ounce of flesh.
Constant exercise had hardened every muscle. He was a picture of
health and activity.

The general viewed him with an expression of vindictive animosity;
while his face, on the other hand, wore an expression of perfect
indifference. The uniform coats were removed, and the dropping of a
handkerchief gave the signal for them to commence.

Lord Sackville at once lunged furiously. The thrust was parried,
and the next moment his sword was sent flying through the air. His
second did not move to recover it.

"Why do you not bring it here?" Sackville exclaimed, in a tone of
the deepest passion.

"Because, my lord," his second said coldly, "as you have been
disarmed, the duel necessarily terminates; unless your antagonist
is willing that the sword shall be restored to you."

"I shall be obliged if you will give it him, Major Buck," Fergus
said quietly. "A little accident of this sort may occur
occasionally, even to a noted swordsman, when fighting with a boy."

The general was purple with passion, when he received the sword
from his second.

"Mind this time," he said between his teeth as, after a preliminary
feint or two, he again lunged.

Again the sword was wrenched from his hand, with a force that
elicited an exclamation of pain from him.

"Pray, give the general his sword again, Major Buck," Fergus said.

"You hold your rapier too tightly, General Sackville. You need a
little more freedom of play, and less impetuosity. I don't want to
hurt you seriously, but your blood is altogether too hot, and next
time I will bleed you on the sword arm."

Steadying himself with a great effort, Sackville played cautiously
for a time; but after parrying several of his thrusts, without the
slightest difficulty, Fergus ran him through the right arm, halfway
between the elbow and the shoulder, and the sword dropped from his
hand.


[Illustration: Lord Sackville stood without speaking, while
the surgeon bandaged up his arm]


Lord George Sackville had borne himself well in several duels, and
was accounted a gentleman, though arrogant and overbearing. He
stood without speaking, while the surgeon bandaged up his arm. Then
he said quietly:

"I ask your pardon, Major Drummond. This matter was altogether my
fault. I said that I would give you a lesson, and you have given me
one, which assuredly I shall never forget. I trust that you will
accept my apology for the words I uttered."

"Certainly, general, the more so that I own I gave provocation by
failing to salute you--my only excuse for which is that officers of
the highest rank, in Prussia, always return the salute of a junior
officer, of whatever rank; and that I did not reflect that you,
having many important matters in your mind, might have neglected to
return mine from pure absent mindedness, and not with any
intentional discourtesy. I can only say that I have not spoken of
this matter to any but my three friends here, and I am sure that
the matter will not be mentioned by them, when it is my earnest
request that it shall go no further."

The parties then mutually saluted, and rode off to their respective
camps. The story of the duel did not leak out from Fergus's
friends; but Sackville had openly spoken of the matter, the evening
before, to several officers; and had added to their disgust at his
conduct by declaring that he wished it had been the Duke of
Brunswick, instead of this upstart aide-de-camp of his, with whom
he had to reckon the next morning. He, on his part, exacted no
pledge from the officers who had accompanied him, but rode back to
camp without speaking a word, and an hour later left in a carriage
for Bremen.

The news of the encounter, then, circulated rapidly, and excited
intense amusement, and the most lively satisfaction, on the part of
the British officers.

On Sackville's arrival in England he was tried by court martial,
sentenced to be cashiered, and declared incapable of again serving
his majesty in any military capacity. This the king proclaimed
officially to be a sentence worse than death and, taking a pen, he
himself struck out his name from the list of privy councillors.

No satisfactory explanation has ever been given of Sackville's
conduct at Minden. Many say it is probable that he was disgusted
and sulky at having to rise so early, but this would hardly be a
sufficient explanation. The more probable conjecture is that, as he
was on notoriously bad terms with the duke, he was willing that the
latter should suffer a severe repulse at Minden, in the hope that
he would be deprived of his command, and he himself appointed
commander-in-chief of the allied army.

A few days after the battle, the exultation caused by the victory
at Minden was dashed by the news that a Prussian army, twenty-six
thousand strong, commanded by Wedel, had been beaten by the
Russians at Zuellichau; and ten days later by the still more
crushing news that Frederick himself, with fifty thousand men, had
been completely defeated by a Russian and Austrian army, ninety
thousand in number, at Kunersdorf, on the 11th of August.

At first the Prussians had beaten back the Russians with great
loss. The latter had rallied, and, joined by Loudon with the
Austrian divisions, had recovered the ground and beaten off the
Prussians with immense loss, the defeat being chiefly due to the
fact that the Prussian army had marched to the attack through woods
intersected with many streams; and that, instead of arriving on the
field of battle as a whole, they only came up at long intervals, so
that the first success could not be followed up, and the regiments
who made it were annihilated before help came.

The news came from Berlin. A letter had been received there from
the king, written on the night after the battle. He said that he
had but three thousand men collected round him, that the
circumstances were desperate, that he appointed his brother Prince
Henry general-in-chief, and that the army was to swear fidelity to
his nephew. The letter was understood to mean that Frederick
intended to put an end to his life. He knew that the enmity of his
foes was largely directed against him personally, and that far
easier terms might be obtained for the country were he out of the
way; and he was therefore determined not to survive irreparable
defeat. Indeed, he always carried a small tube of deadly poison on
his person.

Universal consternation was felt at the news. However, three days
later came the more cheering intelligence that twenty-three
thousand men had now gathered round him, and that he had again
taken the command. The loss in the battle, however, had been
terrible--six thousand had been killed, thirteen thousand wounded.
Two thousand of the latter, too seriously wounded to escape, were
made prisoners. The loss of the enemy had been little inferior, for
eighteen thousand Russians and Austrians were killed or wounded.

Another letter sent off by the king that night had disastrous
consequences, for he wrote to the governor of Dresden that, should
the Austrians attempt anything on the town beyond his means of
maintaining himself, he was to capitulate on the best terms he
could obtain.

Happily for Frederick, Soltikoff was as slow in his movements as
Daun, and for two months made no attempt to take advantage of the
victory of Kunersdorf, and thus afforded time to Frederick to
repair his misfortunes. But during the two months Dresden had been
lost. Its governor had received Frederick's letter, and was unaware
how things had mended after it was written, and that a force was
pressing forward to aid him against an Austrian besieging army.
Consequently, after little more than a nominal resistance, he
surrendered when, unknown to him, relief was close at hand.

The French being defeated, and in full flight for the Rhine, it
seemed to Fergus that it was his duty to return to the king; as
there was no probability whatever of any hard fighting on the
western frontier, while the position of affairs in the east was
most serious. He was still on the king's staff, and had but been
lent to the Duke of Brunswick. He laid the matter before the
latter, who at once agreed with him that he should rejoin the king.

"Frederick sorely needs active and intelligent officers, at
present," he said. "It is not by force that he can hope to prevent
the Russians and Austrians from marching to Berlin, but by
quickness and resource. His opponents are both slow and deliberate
in their movements, and the king's quickness puzzles and confuses
them. It is always difficult for two armies to act in perfect
concert, well-nigh impossible when they are of different
nationalities. Daun will wait for Soltikoff and Soltikoff for Daun.
The king will harass both of them. Daun has to keep one eye upon
his magazines in Bohemia, for Prince Henry in Silesia still
constantly menaces them, and not only the Austrian but the Russian
army is fed from Prague.

"Were it not that I am specially bound to defend Hanover from the
Confederate army, I would march with the greater portion of my
force to join the king; but my orders are imperative. 'Tis for
Hanover that George of England is fighting, and the British subsidy
and the British troops will be lost to the king, were Hanover to be
taken by the enemy. If Prince Henry could but join him, it would
bring his army again to a strength with which he could fight either
the Russians or Austrians; but their armies lie between Henry and
the king, and unless Daun makes some grievous mistake--and slow as
he is, Daun seldom makes a mistake--it seems well-nigh impossible
that the prince can get through.

"However, Major Drummond, you are likely to see little fighting
here; while with the king there will be incessant work for you.
Therefore, by all means go to him. He must have lost many of his
staff at Kunersdorf, and will, I doubt not, be glad to have you
with him."

The ride was a shorter one than it had been when going west, for
the king lay little more than fifty miles to the east of Berlin.
Although there was no absolute occasion for great speed, Fergus
rode fast; and on the tenth day after leaving Minden arrived at the
royal camp. The king was unaffectedly glad to see him.

"You have been more fortunate than I have," he said. "You have been
taking part in a victory, while I have been suffering a defeat. I
should like to have seen Minden. That charge of your countrymen was
superb. Nothing finer was ever done. Rash, perhaps; but it is by
rashness that victory is often won. Had it not been done, one would
have said that it was impossible for six battalions in line to hurl
back, again and again, the charges of ten thousand fine cavalry.
But the British division at Fontenoy showed us, not many years ago,
that the British infantry, now, are as good as they were under
Marlborough. I would give much if I had twenty thousand of them
here with my Prussians. It would be the saving of us.

"Did Ferdinand send you back, or did you ask to come?"

"I asked leave to come, sire. I thought that your staff must have
suffered heavily, and that I might be more useful here than with
the duke."

"Much more useful, major; and indeed, I am glad to have you with
me. You have youth and good spirits, and good spirits are very
scarce here. Have you heard the last news?"

"I have heard no news since I left Berlin, sire."

"Dresden is lost. Schmettau surrendered it, and that when relief
was but within ten miles of him. The place should have held out for
a month, at least. It is incredible. However, I will have it back
again before long and, at any rate, it is one place less to guard.
I should not have cared so much if the Austrians had taken it, but
that that wretched Confederate army, even though they had ten
Austrian battalions with them, should have snatched it from me, is
heart breaking. However, they have but the capital, and it will
take them some time before they can do more."

Fink, who had been sent off, with six or seven thousand men, to aid
Wunsch to relieve Dresden, on the day before the news of its fall
came, did much. He and his fellow commander failed in their first
object; but they were not idle, for they recaptured Leipzig and
other towns that the Confederate army had taken, and snatched all
Saxony, save Dresden, from its clutches.

Schmettau was relieved of his command, and never again employed. He
had certainly failed in firmness, but Frederick's own letter to
him, which had never been cancelled, afforded him the strongest
ground of believing that there was no chance of his being relieved.
His record up to this time had been excellent, and he was esteemed
as being one of Frederick's best generals. Frederick's harshness to
him was, at the time, considered to have been excessive. The king,
however, always expected from his generals as much as he himself
would have accomplished, in the same circumstances, and failure to
obtain success was always punished. After the dismissal of his
brother and heir from his command, the king was not likely to
forgive failure in others.

The time was a most anxious one for him. He had nothing to do but
to wait, and for once he was well content to do so; for every day
brought winter nearer, every week would render the victualling of
the hostile armies more difficult, and delay was therefore all in
his favour. Messenger after messenger was sent to Prince Henry,
urging him to make every possible effort to make his way through or
round the cordon of Austrian and Russian posts, eighty miles long
and fifty or sixty broad, that intervened between them.

In the evenings the king was accustomed to put aside resolutely his
military troubles, and passed his time chiefly in the society of
the British ambassador, Earl Marischal Keith, and the young
Scottish aide-de-camp, with occasionally one or two Prussian
officers. One evening, when Fergus had been sent with an order to a
portion of the force lying some miles away, Sir John Mitchell said
to the king:

"I have been talking with the Earl Marischal over young Drummond's
affairs, your majesty. As you know, his father's estates were
sequestrated after the battle of Culloden, where he himself fell. I
am writing a despatch to Pitt, saying that Drummond's son has been
serving under your majesty through the war, and has greatly
distinguished himself; and have asked him to annul the sequestration,
upon the ground that this young officer has done very valiant service
to your majesty, and so to the allied cause, giving a list of the
battles at which he has been present, and saying that the Duke of
Brunswick had, in his report of the battle of Minden to you, spoken
highly of the services he rendered him. If you would add a line in your
own hand, endorsing my request, it would greatly add to its weight."

"That I will readily do," the king said. "I will write a short
letter, which you can inclose in your own despatch."

And sitting down at once he wrote:

"The King of Prussia most warmly endorses the request of his
excellency, Sir John Mitchell. Not only has Major Fergus Drummond
shown exceptional bravery upon several occasions, which resulted in
his promotion to the rank of major with unprecedented rapidity, but
he saved the king's life at the battle of Zorndorf, meeting and
overthrowing three Russian cavalrymen who attacked him. It would,
therefore, give the king very great satisfaction if the English
minister would grant the request made on Major Drummond's behalf by
his excellency, the English ambassador."

"Thank you very much," the latter said, as he read the note
Frederick handed him. "I have no doubt that this will be effectual.
Culloden is now a thing of the past. There are many Scottish
regiments in the English king's service, and many acts of clemency
have, of late, been shown to those who took part in the rebellion,
and I cannot doubt that Pitt will at once act upon your request.
However, I shall say nothing to Drummond on the subject until I
hear that his father's estates have been restored to him."

As day after day passed, the king became more anxious as to the
position of Prince Henry. That energetic officer had indeed been
busy and, by threatening an attack upon Daun's magazines, had
compelled the Austrian commander to move to Bautzen for their
protection, and finally to make a decided effort to crush his
active and annoying foe. Gathering a great force in the
neighbourhood of Prince Henry's camp, he prepared to attack him on
the morning of September 22nd; but when morning came Prince Henry
had disappeared. At eight o'clock on the previous evening he had
marched twenty miles to Rothenburg.

The retreat was superbly conducted. It was necessary to move by
several roads, but the whole of the baggage, artillery, and troops
arrived punctually the next morning at Rothenburg, just at the hour
when Daun's army moved down to the attack of the camp where he had
been the evening before. Austrian scouting parties were sent out in
all directions, but no certain news could be obtained as to the
direction of the Prussian march. The baggage waggons had been seen,
moving here and there, but it was four days before Daun was able to
learn for certain what had become of him, having until then
believed that he must have made for Glogau, to join Frederick.

Henry had, however, gone in an entirely different direction. After
ordering three hours' rest at Rothenburg he marched west, and
arrived at early morning at Klitten, eighteen miles from his last
halting place. Starting again after another three hours' halt he
marched twenty miles farther, still straight to the west, and fell
upon General Weyler who, with thirty-three thousand men, occupied
the last Austrian position to be passed.

That officer had not the slightest idea of any possibility of
attack from the east. The whole Austrian army stood between him and
Frederick on the northeast, and Prince Henry on the southeast. He
was therefore taken altogether by surprise. Six hundred of his men
were killed; and he himself, with twenty-eight field officers and
seventeen hundred and eighty-five other officers and men, taken
prisoners.

This march of fifty hours, in which an army with the whole of its
baggage traversed fifty-eight miles, through a country occupied by
enemies, is one of the most remarkable on record, and completely
changed the whole situation of the campaign. There was nothing for
Daun to do, if he would not lose Dresden and the whole of Saxony
again, but to follow Prince Henry. This movement completed the
dissatisfaction of his Russian ally, Soltikoff, who had been
already sorely worried and harassed by Frederick, ever since Daun
had moved away to defend his magazines and crush Prince Henry; and
now, seeing that his own food supply was likely to fail him, he
marched away with his army into Poland.

The king was at this time, to his disgust and indignation, laid up
for six weeks with the gout; but as soon as he was better, he set
off to join Prince Henry. Daun was slowly falling back and, had he
been let alone, Dresden might have been recaptured and the campaign
come to a triumphant ending.

Unfortunately Frederick was not content to leave well alone, and
sent Fink with seventeen thousand men to Maxim, to cut off Daun's
retreat into Bohemia; intending himself to attack him in front.
Daun for once acted with decision, attacked Fink with twenty-seven
thousand men and, although the Prussians fought with most obstinate
bravery, they were surrounded; battered by the Austrian artillery;
while they themselves, having no guns with which to make reply,
were forced to surrender. Some had already made their way off, but
in killed, wounded, and prisoners, the loss was fully twelve
thousand men.

Frederick threw the blame upon Fink, but most unjustly. That
officer had followed out the orders given him, and had done all
that man could do to hold the position that he was commanded to
take up, and the disaster was wholly due to Frederick's own
rashness in placing so small a force, and that without artillery,
where they could be attacked by the whole Austrian army. Fink,
after his release at the conclusion of the peace three years later,
was tried by court martial and sentenced to a year's imprisonment.

This disaster entirely altered the situation. Daun, instead of
continuing his retreat to Bavaria, advanced to occupy Saxony; and
drove General Dierocke across the Elbe, taking fifteen hundred of
his men prisoners. Frederick, however, barred the way farther, and
six weeks later both armies went into winter quarters; Daun still
holding Dresden and the strip of country between it and Bohemia,
but the rest of Saxony being as far out of his reach as ever.

The last six weeks of the campaign was a terrible time for all.
Frederick himself had lived in a little cottage in the small town
of Freyburg, and even after the armies had settled down in their
cheerless quarters, he still made several attempts to drive the
Austrians out, having received a reinforcement of ten thousand men
from Duke Ferdinand. These efforts were in vain.

The ten thousand, however, on their way to join the king, had
struck a heavy blow at one of his bitterest enemies, the Duke of
Wuertemberg, who had twelve thousand of his own men, with one
thousand cavalry, at Fulda. The duke had ordered a grand ball to be
held, and great celebrations of joy at the news of the Austrian
victory at Maxim; but on the very day on which these things were to
take place, Ferdinand's men fell upon him suddenly, scattered his
army in all directions, took twelve hundred prisoners, and sent the
duke with such of his troops as had escaped back to Wuertemberg
again; his subjects, who were largely Protestants, rejoicing hugely
over his discomfiture.

On the day on which Maxim was fought Admiral Hawke, with a small
squadron, utterly defeated the French fleet that was to convey an
invading army to England. France herself was getting as short of
cash as Prussia, and in November it became necessary to declare a
temporary bankruptcy and, the king setting the example, all nobles
and others possessing silver plate sent them to the mint to be
coined into money.

So eager was the king to take advantage of any openings the
Austrians might give for attack that, although so near Dresden,
Fergus was unable to carry out his promise to the Count Eulenfurst
to pay him a visit; for he was kept constantly employed, and could
not ask for leave. Early in April the king sent for him. The
English ambassador was present, but Earl Marischal Keith had gone
away on a mission.

"I have two pieces of news for you, major," the king said
pleasantly. "In the first place, it is now getting on for two years
since you did me that little service at Zorndorf, and since then
you have ever been zealously at work. Others have gone up in rank,
and it is time that you had another step. Therefore, from today you
are colonel. No man in the army has better deserved promotion, and
indeed you ought to have had it after you returned from Brunswick's
army where, as the duke's despatches told me, you had rendered
excellent service. So many officers of rank have fallen since then
that promotion has been rapid, and it is high time that you
obtained the step that you so well deserve.

"The other piece of news is for Sir John Mitchell to tell you, for
it is to his good offices that it is due."

"Very partially so, your majesty," said the ambassador. "It is like
enough that Pitt would not have troubled to take action on my
recommendation only, had it not been that you so strongly backed my
request that, in fact, it became one from yourself. Therefore it is
for you to give him the news."

"As you please," the king said.

"Well then, Drummond, his excellency and your cousin the Marischal
put their heads together, and his excellency sent a warm letter to
the English minister, saying that you had rendered such services to
his sovereign's ally that he prayed that the sequestration of your
father's estates should be annulled. I myself added a memorandum
saying that, as you had saved my life at Zorndorf, and rendered me
other valuable services, I should view it as a personal favour if
his request was granted. The thing would have been managed in a
couple of days, in this country; but in England it seems that
matters move more slowly, and his excellency has only today
received an official intimation that the affair has been completed,
and that your father's estates have been restored to you."

Fergus was, for the moment, completely overwhelmed. He had never
thought for a moment that the estate would ever be restored, and
the sudden news, following that of his promotion, completely
overwhelmed him.

It was of his mother rather than of himself that he thought. He
himself had been too young to feel keenly the change in their life
that followed Culloden; but although his mother had borne her
reverses bravely, and he had never heard a complaint or even a
regret cross her lips, he knew that the thought that he would never
be chief of their brave clansmen, and that these had no longer a
natural leader and protector, was very bitter to her.

"Your majesty is too good.

"Your excellency--" and he stopped.

"I know what you would say," the king said kindly, "and there is no
occasion to say it. I have only paid some of the debt I owe you,
and his excellency's thought gave me well-nigh as much pleasure as
it does you. Now, be off to your camp.

"You see, Sir John, between us we have done what the Austrians and
Russians have never managed between them--I mean, we have shaken
Colonel Drummond's presence of mind.

"There, go along with you, we have matters to talk over together."

Fergus saluted almost mechanically, bowed gratefully to Mitchell,
and then left the room in a whirl of emotion. To be the head of his
clan again was, to him, a vastly greater matter than to be a
colonel in even the most renowned and valiant army in Europe. Of
the estates he thought for the moment but little, except that his
mother would now be able to give up her petty economies and her
straitened life, and to take up the station that had been hers
until his father's death.

There was another thought, too--that of Countess Thirza Eulenfurst.
Hitherto he had resolutely put that from him. It was not for him, a
soldier of fortune, without a penny beyond his pay, to aspire to
the hand of a rich heiress. It was true that many Scottish
adventurers in foreign services had so married, but this had seemed
a thing altogether beyond him. He had rendered a service to her
father, and they had, in consequence, been most kind to him; but he
had thought that it would be only a poor return for their kindness
for him to aspire to their daughter's hand.

He had put the matter even more resolutely aside because, once or
twice, the count had said things that might be construed as hints
that he should not regard such an act as presumptuous. He had
spoken not unapprovingly of the marriages of ladies of high rank to
men who had rendered great services to the countries for which they
had fought, and said that, with such ample means as Thirza would
possess, there would be no need for him to seek for a wealthy match
for her. Thirza herself had evinced lively pleasure, whenever he
went to see them, and deep regret when he left them; while her
colour rose, sometimes, when he came upon her suddenly. But these
indications that he was not altogether indifferent to her had but
determined him, more resolutely, to abstain from taking advantage
of the gratitude she felt for the service he had rendered.

Now, it seemed to him that the news he had heard had somewhat
changed the position. He was no longer a penniless soldier. It was
true that the Drummond estates were as nothing by the side of the
broad lands owned by her father; but at least, now, he was in the
position of a Scottish gentleman of fair means and good standing,
who could dispense with wealth on the part of a bride, and had a
fair home and every comfort to offer to one in his native land.
That he had, too, obtained the rank of colonel in the Prussian
army, by service in many a desperate battle, distinctly added to
his position. Thus, in every respect, the news that he had received
was in the highest degree gratifying to him.



Chapter 18: Engaged.


On the following day, Sir John Mitchell handed to Fergus the
official documents respecting the restoration of the estates and,
after taking copies of the same, Fergus wrote a long letter to his
mother, inclosing the official papers, Mitchell having offered to
send the packet home with his despatches. Fergus was glad to get
the documents sent off in this way--by which, indeed, he had sent
the greater part of his letters to his mother--the post being so
uncertain and insecure that there was no trusting it; and although
his mother's replies were always sent to the care of the
ambassador, a large number of them were lost in the transit.

Early in April Fergus suddenly broke down. His work had been almost
incessant. The cold in the tent had, at night, been extreme; and,
having been wetted to the skin one day, when a sudden thaw came on,
his clothes had been frozen stiff when, at nightfall, the frost
returned with even greater severity than before. In spite of the
cloaks and blankets that Karl heaped upon his bed, he shivered all
night, and in the morning hot fits came on. The king's surgeon,
coming in to see him, pronounced that the chill had resulted in
what was probably rheumatic fever.

He was at once carried to a hospital, some miles in the rear. This
was crowded with officers and men, suffering from the effects of
their hardships; but a room was assigned to him in a house close
by, that had been taken for the use of officers of distinction.

Here for two months he lay helpless, and at times delirious. Karl
sat up with him almost night and day, taking two or three hours'
sleep occasionally on the floor, but starting up whenever his
master moved or spoke. Sir John Mitchell rode over several times to
see him, and the king's own surgeon went over twice a week. These
visits, however, both ceased three weeks after he entered the
hospital, the king's army having rapidly marched away.

At the end of June he was out and able to sit in the sun in the
garden.

"How long shall I be before I am fit for duty again?" he asked the
surgeon, two days later.

"Six weeks or two months. It will be fully that time before you can
regain your strength. In a month, no doubt, you will be able to sit
a horse; but I should say that it would be quite twice that time,
before you will be fit to perform the work that falls to your lot
on the king's staff. You want to have quiet, and at the same time
you need pleasant company. The worst thing you can possibly do is
to worry and fret yourself. Instead of bringing things about
sooner, it will only delay them. What you have to do is to bask in
the sun, eat and drink as much as you can, and take life
pleasantly.

"There is one thing, you have nothing to grieve about that you are
not with the king. He is marching hither and thither with wonderful
celerity but, do what he will, he cannot induce either Daun or Lacy
to give battle; though together they are three to one against him.
Whenever he approaches they simply shut themselves up in
impregnable places, erect palisades and batteries, and hope that he
will dash himself against them; which he is not likely to do."

Fergus found that Frederick, when he marched, had left behind a
force sufficient to check any attempt that the Austrian garrison of
Dresden might make, towards the north; but that at present all was
quiet, the enemy venturing on no aggressive movements, never
knowing when the king might suddenly pounce down upon them. He
found that there was no attempt made to blockade the town. No carts
with provisions were allowed to pass in from the north side, but on
the west there was free ingress and egress, there being no Prussian
troops in that direction. Fergus therefore hired a peasant to carry
a letter for him to Count Eulenfurst, explaining how it was that he
had been unable to get leave during the winter; and that, for the
last two months and a half, he had been laid up in the hospital.

Three days later a carriage drove up to the house. The count
himself leapt out, and hurried across the garden to where Fergus
was sitting.

"This is indeed kind of you, count," Fergus said, as he rose.

"By no means, Drummond. I only wish that we had known your
situation before. You should have got someone to write, if you
could not do it yourself. We were not surprised at your not
visiting us in the winter, for with both armies on the alert we
knew that, in the first place, you were busy, and probably not able
to get leave of absence; and in the next place, you could hardly
have got in.

"You can imagine the concern we felt when your letter reached us,
yesterday evening. Of course, I determined to start at once. You
must indeed have had a hard time of it, for you have fallen away so
much that I should hardly have known you."

"I have picked up very much in the last fortnight, count; and I
hope, in another month, to be something like myself again; though
the doctor insists that I shall not be fit for campaigning work for
double that time."

"Well, I have come to take you back with me. The countess asks me
to tell you that if you do not come at once, she will drive hither
with two or three of her maids, and establish herself as your
nurse. It will not be a very long drive, for I am well known to the
Austrians, and have a pass from the governor to go through their
lines when I please, and to visit a small estate I have, thirty
miles to the north. And no doubt you can get a similar pass for us
to leave your lines."

"I should like nothing so much, count; but might I not get you into
trouble, if it were known that you had one of the king's officers
at your house?"

"In the first place no one would know it, and in the second place I
don't think that I should get into any trouble, were it found out.
It is not a Prussian officer that I shall be entertaining, still
less a spy, but a dear friend who is an invalid and needs care. As
everyone knows what you did for me, the excuse would be ample.

"Moreover, it happens that Governor Maguire is a personal friend of
mine, and I shall call upon him and tell him that I have a sick
friend staying with me and, without letting him know who you are,
say that I give him my word of honour that you will, while with me,
remain in the grounds, and will make no inquiries concerning his
fortifications and plans of defence. He will understand what I
mean, and if anyone should make a report to him it will, at any
rate, cause no trouble; though I do not say that he might not feel
obliged to give me notice that you had best go.

"Well, for today I will remain here and rest my horses; and
tomorrow morning we will start, early.

"Ah! I see you have your henchman still with you. He, like
yourself, has escaped both Austrian and French bullets.

"Well, Karl," he went on as the soldier came up, "you don't seem to
have managed to keep your master out of mischief."

"No, count; but it was not my fault. It was the fault of those
horses you gave him."

"Why, how was that, Karl?"

"Well, sir, the colonel was the best mounted man on the king's
staff and, however hard he worked the horses, they always seemed to
keep in good condition. So that whenever there was anything to be
done, it was sure to be, 'Colonel Drummond, please go here or go
there.' He was always on horseback, and so at last he broke down.
Anyone else would have broken down months before, but he never
seemed to know what it was to be tired."

"What, have you got another step, Drummond?" the count said,
smiling at the soldier's tone of discontent.

"Yes, count. It is not for anything particular this time, but for
what I may call general services.

"You are going to have an easy time of it now, Karl. Count
Eulenfurst is kindly going to take me off and nurse me for a bit;
and you will have to stay here and look after the horses, until I
return. It would not be safe for you to accompany me, arid I think
you want a rest as much as I want nursing.

"Why, for two months, count, this good fellow never took off his
coat; and I don't think he ever slept an hour at a time. I have
never once called when he was not there to answer."

"I did what I could," Karl growled, "but it was not much. The
colonel has always looked well after me, and the least I could do
was to look after him, when he wanted it.

"I am very glad he is going with you, sir. It is dull enough for
him here; and I am sure he will get on much faster, under your care
and the ladies', than he would do moping about in this place."

Fergus wrote a note to the general of the division, and Karl
returned with a pass authorizing Count Eulenfurst's carriage to
pass through the lines, at any time.

"There is one difficulty I have not thought of, count. I have no
civilian clothes. Those I brought with me were left in the magazine
at Dresden, when I first marched away; and there they have been,
ever since. But indeed, even if I had them, I do not think that
they would fit me; seeing that I have grown some four inches in
height since I came out, and at least as much more round my
shoulders."

"I thought of that," the count said, "and have brought with me a
suit from Dresden that will, I think, fit you as well as an
invalid's clothes can be expected to fit."

The next morning an early start was made. No difficulties were
encountered on the way and, although sundry detours had to be made,
they reached the count's house after a three-hours' drive. Thirza
ran down to meet them as the count drove up; and she gave a little
cry of surprise, and pity, as the count helped Fergus to alight.

"I shall soon be better, countess," he said with a smile, as he
held out his hand. "I am quite a giant in strength, compared with
what I was a fortnight ago; but just at present I am a little
tired, after the drive."

"You look dreadfully bad," the girl said. "Still, I hope we shall
soon bring you round again. My father said you would be back with
him about this time, and we shall begin by giving you some soup, at
once."

As they entered the hall, the countess herself came down.

"Welcome back again! I may say, I hope, welcome home again, Major
Drummond!"

"Colonel Drummond," the count corrected. "He is one of Frederick's
colonels now."

"I congratulate you," she went on, "though just at present, you
certainly do not look a very formidable colonel. However, we will
soon build you up; but don't try to talk now. I see the journey has
been almost too much for you.

"In here, please. I thought you had better take something before
you climbed the stairs."

A meal was laid, in a room leading off the hall; and after a basin
of soup and a couple of glasses of Rhine wine, Fergus felt much
better.

"That is right," the count said. "You have now got a tinge of
colour in your cheeks.

"Come, Thirza, you must not look so woebegone, because our knight
is pulled down a bit. Invalids want a cheerful face and, unless you
brighten up, I shall not intrust any of the nursing duties to you."

Thirza tried to smile, but the attempt was a very forced one.

"It has been a surprise," she said quietly, but with an evident
effort. "You see, I have always seen Colonel Drummond looking so
strong and bright. Though I knew that he had been very ill, somehow
I did not expect to see him like this."

"But I can assure you I am better," Fergus said, laughing. "I did
feel done when we arrived, but I can assure you that is not my
normal state; and being here among you all will very soon effect a
transformation. In a very short time you will see that I shall
refuse altogether to be treated as an invalid, and my nurse's post
will be a sinecure."

"Now you had better go and lie down, and get a sleep for two or
three hours," the countess said, decidedly. "You will have your old
bedroom, and we have fitted up the next room as a sitting room. We
know a good many of the Austrian and Confederate officers, and of
an afternoon and evening they often drop in; and although we are
not afraid of questions, it will be more pleasant for you to have a
place of your own.

"Still, I hope you will be able to be out in the garden behind the
house, the best part of the day, under the trees. You would be as
safe from interruption, there, as if you were a hundred miles away
from Dresden. We have arranged that Thirza shall have chief charge
of you, out there; while the count and I will look after you while
you are in the house."

Fergus obediently lay down and slept for some hours. As the
countess had arranged, he rang his bell on waking and, hearing from
the servant who answered it that there were no visitors downstairs,
he went down. The count had gone out, but the countess and Thirza
went out into the grounds with him; and he found that, in a quiet
and shady corner, a sofa had been placed for his use, with a table
and two or three chairs.

The countess remained chatting with him until a servant came out,
to say that three Austrian officers had called; and she went in,
leaving him to the charge of Thirza. For two or three hours they
talked together, and were then joined by the count and countess;
when Fergus told them the piece of good fortune that had befallen
him, by recovering his father's estates. They were greatly pleased
and interested.

"And are they extensive?" the count asked.

"They are extensive," he said, "if taken by acreage; but if
calculated by the revenue that they bring in, they would seem small
to you. But at any rate, they suffice to make one wealthy in
Scotland. The large proportion of it is mountain and moorland; but
as the head of my clan, I shall hold a position far above what is
represented by the income. Two hundred men were ready to draw
sword, at my father's orders, and to follow him in battle.

"I don't know that, here in Germany, you can quite understand the
ties that bind the members of a clan to their head. They do not
regard him as tenants regard a lord; but rather as a protector, a
friend, and even a relation. All disputes are carried to him for
arbitration. The finest trout from the stream, the fattest buck
from the hills, are sent to him as an offering. They draw their
swords at his bidding, and will die for him in battle. To them he
is a sort of king, and they would obey his orders, were he to tell
them to rise in rebellion.

"The feeling is to some extent dying out and, since Culloden, the
power of the clans has greatly abated. Nevertheless, some of the
Highland regiments in our army were raised by chiefs wholly from
their own clansmen.

"In many respects this restoration of my inheritance changes my
position altogether. As I told you the last time I was here, I
shall stop until this terrible war is over. The king has been most
kind and gracious to me, and to leave before the struggle is over I
should feel to be an act of desertion. Once the sword is sheathed,
I intend to return to Scotland; for I should not care to remain in
the service, when there is nought but life in garrison to look
forward to. Moreover, the strength of the army would, of course, be
largely diminished, at once.

"What I should do afterwards, I know not. Perhaps I might obtain a
commission in our own army, for there are always opportunities of
seeing service in America, India, or elsewhere, under the British
flag. More likely I shall, at any rate for a time, remain at home.
My mother has no other child, and it is a lonely life, indeed, for
her."

"Do you not think of settling here?"

"What is there for me to do, count, outside the army? I could not
turn merchant, for I should assuredly be bankrupt, at the end of
the first month; nor could I well turn cultivator, when I have no
land to dig. Now, however, my future is determined for me; and a
point that has, I own, troubled me much, has been decided without
an effort on my part."

The conversation was continued for some little time, the count
asking many questions about Fergus's ancestral home, the scenery,
and mode of life. Fergus noticed that Thirza took no part in the
conversation, but sat still; and looked, he thought, pale.

The days succeeded each other quietly and uneventfully, and Fergus
gained strength rapidly; so that, in the middle of July, he began
to feel that he was again fit for service. One evening he was
sitting alone in the garden with the count, when the latter said to
him:

"You remember our conversation on the first evening of our coming
here, as to the impossibility of your doing anything, did you
remain out here after leaving the army. There was one solution to
which you did not allude. Many Scottish and Irish soldiers, both in
this country, in France, Austria, and Germany, have married well.
Why should you not do the same?"

Fergus was silent for a minute, and then he said:

"Yes, count; but they continued in the service, rose to the rank of
generals and, as in the case of my cousin Keith, to that of
marshal."

"But you might do the same, if you remained in the army," the count
said. "You are assuredly, by far, the youngest colonel in it. You
are a favourite of the king's, and might hope for anything."

"I am afraid, count, I have too much of our Scottish feeling of
independence; and should not, therefore, like to owe everything to
a wife."

"The feeling is creditable, if not carried too far," the count
said. "You have a position that is a most honourable one. You have
made your name famous in the army, where brave men are common. You
possess the qualities of youth, a splendid physique, and--I don't
wish to flatter you--a face that might win any woman's fancy. There
are none, however placed, who might not be proud of such a
son-in-law."

"You judge everyone by yourself, count," Fergus said slowly. "You
overrate my qualities, and forget the fact that I am, after all,
but a soldier of fortune."

"Then you never thought of such a thing?"

Fergus was silent for a minute, and then said:

"We may think of many things, count, that we know, in our hearts,
are but fancies which will never be realized."

"Let us suppose a case," the count said. "Let us take a case like
mine. You did me an inestimable service. You certainly saved my
life, and the lives of several others; including, perhaps, those of
my wife and daughter. The latter has constantly heard your name
associated with deeds of valour. Would it be improbable that she
should feel a depth of gratitude that would, as she grew, increase
into a warmer feeling; while you, on your part, might entertain a
liking for her? Would it be such an out-of-the-way thing for you to
come to me, and ask her hand? Or an out-of-the-way thing that I
should gladly give her to you?"

"It may not seem so to you, count," Fergus said quietly; "but it
has seemed so to me. I understand what you are so generously saying
but, even with such encouragement, I can scarce dare to ask what
seems to me so presumptuous a question. For four years, now, this
house has been as a home to me; and it was but natural that, as
your daughter grew up, I should have grown to love her. I have told
myself, hundreds of times, that it would be, indeed, a base return
for your kindness, were I to try to steal her heart; and never have
I said a single word to her that I would not have said, aloud, had
you and her mother been present. During the month that I have been
here, now, I have struggled hard with myself; thrown with her, as I
have been, for hours every day. But I have made up my mind that no
word should ever pass my lips; and if it has done so, now, it is
because you have drawn it from me."

"I am glad that I have done so," the count said, gravely. "For the
last two years I have hoped that this might be so, for in no other
way could I repay our debt of gratitude to you. I cannot tell what
Thirza's thoughts are; but there have been three suitors for her
hand this year, any of whom might well, in point of means and
character, have been considered suitable; but when I spoke to her
she laughed at the idea and, though she said nothing, I gathered
that her love was already given.

"As my only child, her happiness is my first consideration. As to
the question of means, it is absurd to mention them; for did she
marry the wealthiest noble, she could desire no more than she will
have. I told you, the first time you came to us after that terrible
night, that we should always regard you as one of ourselves. We
have done so; and I can assure you that her mother and I desire
nothing better for her.

"For your sake, I am glad that you have come into this Scottish
estate; but for my own I care nothing for it, and indeed, am in one
respect sorry; for you will naturally wish that, for a part of the
time each year, she should reside there with you.

"Now, that has not been so dreadful, has it?"

"Not in any way, count; and I thank you, with all my heart, for
your kindness. My feeling for your daughter has grown up gradually,
and it was not until I was last here that I recognized how much I
cared for her. I then, when I went away, resolved it would be
better for me not to return; at any rate, not to stay here again,
until I heard that she was married. It is true that I talked of
paying you a visit, even were Dresden captured; but I knew that
when the time came I should be able to find excuses for not doing
so. During the time that I was laid up with fever, she was ever in
my mind; but the necessity for my remaining away from here only
impressed itself, more and more strongly, upon me.

"Then you appeared, and carried me off. I could not refuse to come,
without giving my reason; but I fully determined that in no way, by
look or word, would I allow her to see that I regarded her other
than as the daughter of my kind host. I have had a hard fight to
keep that resolution, for each day my feelings have grown stronger
and stronger; and I had resolved that, before I left, I would own
to you, not my presumption, for I have not presumed, but my
weakness, and ask you to press me no more to come here, until your
daughter was married."

"You have acted just as I should have expected from you, Drummond.
The great hope of the countess and myself has been to see Thirza
happily married. Fortune or position in a suitor have been
altogether immaterial points, excepting that we would assure
ourselves that it was not to obtain these that her hand was sought.
From the first we have regarded you, not only with gratitude, but
with deep interest. It seemed to us only natural that, after so
strange and romantic a beginning to your acquaintance, Thirza
should regard you with more than ordinary interest. To her you
would be a sort of hero of romance. We watched you closely then,
and found that in addition to your bravery you possessed all the
qualities that we could desire. You were modest, frank, and
natural. So far from making much of the service you had rendered
us, you were always unwilling to speak of it; and when that could
not be avoided, you made as little of it as possible.

"I spoke several times of you to Marshal Keith, and he said that he
regarded you almost as a son, and spoke in the highest terms of
you. We saw, or fancied we saw, in the pleasure which Thirza
betrayed when you returned after each of your absences; and in the
anxiety which she evinced when battles had taken place, until I
could ascertain that your name was not among the lists of killed
and wounded; that what we had thought likely was taking place, and
that she regarded you with an interest beyond that which would be
excited by gratitude only.

"As to yourself, and your thoughts on the subject, we knew nothing.
We never saw anything in your manner to her that showed that your
heart was affected. You chatted with her as freely and naturally as
to us and, even since you have been here this time, we have
observed no change in you. And yet, it seemed to us well-nigh
impossible that a young soldier should be thrown so much with a
girl who, though it is her father who says so, is exceptionally
pretty and of charming manners, and continue to regard her with
indifference; unless, indeed, he loved elsewhere, which we were
sure in your case could hardly be. I had however, like yourself,
determined to speak on the matter before you left us; as, had you
not felt towards her as we hoped, the countess and I agreed that it
would be better, for her sake, that we should not press you to come
to stay with us again until she was married.

"I am truly glad that the matter stands as we had hoped. I can only
repeat that there is no one to whom we could intrust her happiness
so confidently as to you."

"I will do my best to justify your confidence, count," Fergus said
warmly.

"Now I will go into the house and tell my wife, and then we can
acquaint Thirza. It is the custom here, at least among people of
rank, for the parents first to acquaint their daughter with a
proposal that has been made for her hand, and of their wishes on
the subject. Parental control is not carried to the point, now,
that it used to be; and maidens sometimes entertain different
opinions to those of their parents. Happily, in the present case,
there is no reason to fear that Thirza will exhibit any contumacy.

"Fortunately we are alone at dinner, today. Therefore do you come
down, a quarter of an hour before the usual hour, and we will get
the matter formally settled."

When Fergus went into the drawing room, the count was already
there.

"Thirza shows no unwillingness to carry out our commands in this
matter," he said with a smile, as he held out his hand to Fergus
and shook it very heartily. "I pointed out to her that you would
naturally expect her to accompany you every year to Scotland, and
to spend some months among your people there. She did not seem to
consider that any insupportable objection.

"In one respect, Fergus, I think that it is well for you that I am
comparatively a young man; being now but forty-four, while the
countess is six years younger; thus it may be a good many years
before you will be called upon to assume the control of my estates,
and the position of one of the great landowners of Saxony. One of
these estates will, of course, be Thirza's dowry at once; but that
will not tie you so much, and you will be freer to come and go as
it pleases you."

Two or three minutes later the door opened, and the countess
entered, leading Thirza by the hand. The girl advanced with
downcast eyes, until her father stepped forward and took her left
hand, while he held the right of Fergus.

"My daughter," he said, "your mother and I have chosen for your
husband Colonel Fergus Drummond. We consider the match to be in all
ways a suitable one. We esteem him highly, and are convinced that
he will make you happy; loving you, as he says, tenderly and truly.
In this room where you first saw him, I need not recall to you the
services he rendered to us; and I exhort you to obey this our
order, and to be a true and loving spouse to him."

The girl looked up now.

"That will I, father and mother, and most willingly; and will
always, to my life's end, be a true and loving wife to him."


[Illustration: "Take her, Drummond, you have won your bride
fairly and well"]


"Take her, Colonel," the count said, putting her hand into that of
Fergus. "You have won your bride fairly and well, and I know that
you will be a worthy husband to her."

"That I swear to be," Fergus said, as he stooped and kissed her. "I
feel how great is the boon that you have given me; and shall, to my
life's end, be deeply thankful to you both for the confidence which
you have placed in me, in thus intrusting her to my care.

"And to you, Thirza, do I swear to be a loving husband, to the end
of my life."

"And now," the count said, "we will leave these young people till
the bell rings," and taking the countess's hand, he led her into
the next room.

The ten minutes that passed, before the signal for dinner was
given, sufficed to do much to lessen the awkwardness of the
occasion; and Fergus was heartily grateful to the count for having
left them to themselves for that short time. The dinner passed off
as usual, the count chatting gaily; while Fergus attempted, with
indifferent success, to follow him. Thirza was very silent, but her
cheeks were flushed, and her eyes radiant with happiness.

It did not escape the attention of the servants who waited that
instead of, as usual, leading down the countess while the count
brought down his daughter; this time the count and his wife had
come down first, followed by Fergus and the young countess. Nor
were they slow to notice Thirza's flushed face.

The count's household had been deeply interested in the visits of
Fergus. The women had always been unanimous in their opinion that
they would all have been murdered by the marauders, had it not been
for his interposition; and had also agreed that the most proper
thing in the world, after what had happened, would be that the
young countess should someday marry this brave young officer. Each
time that he had come, during the last four years, they had watched
and hoped that they should hear that this was coming about; but
hitherto they had been terribly disappointed, and had almost agreed
that, if nothing came of this long visit, nothing would ever come
of it. The news, therefore, brought down by the menservants excited
a lively interest.

"I said all along that it would be so some day," one of the women
exclaimed. "The countess would never have allowed our young lady to
be out in the garden, every afternoon, if she and the count had not
been willing that there should be a match; and I am sure I don't
see how he could help falling in love with the young countess."

"Nor she with him," another woman added. "He is the
pleasantest-looking young gentleman I have ever seen, and we know
that he is one of the bravest; and though he is a Prussian officer,
there is not a bit of stiffness about him. Well, I only hope it is
true."

"I would not count on it too much," one of the older women said.
"You never can take menfolks' opinions on such matters. I am sure
any of us would know with half an eye, if we saw them together, how
matters stood; but as for men, they are as blind as bats in such
matters. Still, the fact that he took the young countess down,
instead of our lady, goes for something."

The next morning, indeed, the news was confirmed. The countess told
her tire woman, who had been Thirza's nurse, what had happened; and
in a few minutes it was known all over the house, and even the
parties most concerned scarcely felt more pleasure than the women
of the count's establishment.



Chapter 19: Liegnitz.


"I have news," the count said, when he came in to lunch, after he
had been down into the town; "a messenger has come in with a
despatch this morning, saying that the king, with his army, is
marching hither with all speed."

An exclamation of alarm broke from Thirza, and one of surprise from
Fergus. They had been in the garden together all the morning.

"It will be but a day or two earlier," Fergus said in a low tone to
her. "I told you that in three days, at the most, I must leave. The
surgeon gave me six weeks, but I have so thoroughly recovered that
I feel I ought to be with the king."

Then he raised his voice.

"That is startling news indeed, count; but I can hardly believe
that he intends to besiege Dresden. He has no siege guns with him,
and though, I suppose, he has as usual got a start of Daun, he can
hardly hope to capture the city before the Austrians come up. At
any rate, I must ride out and report myself, and join him as soon
as he gets close. It is hard, indeed, at this moment. Still, there
is no question but that it is my duty."

"I see that, and I am sure that Thirza would not wish to keep you
from it. As long as you are a soldier, duty is the first thing.
However, as the king is coming hither, we shall doubtless see you
sometimes. As we are half a mile outside the walls, we shall be
within the besieging lines."

"I hope that if the king besieges, count, it will not be on this
side, for you might be exposed to shot from the town batteries."

"If we are so, we must move beyond their range and go to our place
at Wirzow. That is but twelve miles away. It is a small house, but
will do very well for a time."

"I should hope, count, that there will be no occasion for that. The
king cannot hope to lay siege in regular form, though he may try an
assault. Slow as Daun is, he must be here within ten days or so of
Frederick's arrival; and it is probable that the march here is
intended rather to draw Daun away from his Russian allies, than
with any hope of taking Dresden."

"Will you go this afternoon?"

"I think that I ought to, count. If the news has come that
Frederick is marching to besiege Dresden, he cannot be far away;
for it is certain that he will march as fast as he can, and will
himself follow closely on the news. 'Tis plain that Lacy feels
himself unable to oppose him, and must be falling back with all
speed before him. If I were to report myself this evening as
convalescent, I can join him tomorrow, if I find that he is but a
march away."

"I will take you in my carriage, as before," the count said. "I can
get back here before dark."

Two hours later they started, Thirza consoled to some extent by the
assurance that, in all probability, Fergus would be back again in
the course of two or three days. They found that the Austrian
advanced posts had already been withdrawn, and experienced no
difficulty with the Prussians; so that by five o'clock they arrived
at the hospital, the count at once starting on his return journey.

Karl was delighted at seeing his master looking himself again.

"I hardly thought that a month could do so much for you," he said,
"especially as you were mending but slowly, before you went."

"Yes, I was a poor creature then, Karl; and I did not think,
myself, that I should be really fit for work for some time to come;
but at any rate, in such weather as this, I have no fear of
breaking down."

Putting on his uniform, he went to the principal medical officer,
and reported his return and his fitness for duty.

"You have certainly gained strength a great deal faster than I
expected, Colonel Drummond. I don't know that you are fit for any
really hard work, but I suppose that you will be at least a week
before you join the king; and by that time you may be able to do a
fair amount of work."

"I fancy I shall join the king tomorrow, doctor."

"Tomorrow?" the surgeon repeated in surprise.

"Yes, sir. Have you not heard the news? The king is marching with
all speed this way. I do not know what his intention is--to force
Lacy to give battle single handed before Daun can arrive, or to
besiege Dresden--but in the city they believe that they are going
to be besieged."

"This is news indeed," the surgeon said. "The scouts brought in
word this morning that a considerable force was seen, coming along
the road from Bautzen. It must be Lacy's army."

"We may be sure that the king is pretty close at his heels," Fergus
said. "I have no doubt that by tomorrow morning we shall have news
of him, and I fancy that I shall not have far to ride to join him."

The opinion was justified. That evening Lacy joined the Confederate
army, in their strong position behind the gap of Plauen. He had
been hotly chased, indeed. Frederick had been manoeuvring to pass
Daun and carry on a campaign in Silesia; but the Austrian general
had been too cautious, and it was impossible to pass him without
fighting; so on the night of the 8th he left Bautzen suddenly and
silently, and marched all night, in hopes of catching Lacy at
Godau. The latter's Croats, however, brought him news in time, and
he at once retreated.

After a short halt the Prussians pressed on for another eighteen
miles, capturing some of Lacy's hussars, but failing to come up
with his main body; which, marching all that day and the next
night, arrived near Dresden on the morning of the 10th, Lacy
himself reaching the town the evening before. By Thursday evening
the whole of his army had crossed Dresden bridge and got in safely
behind Plauen, leaving ten thousand men to aid the four thousand in
the garrison.

At noon Fergus, hearing that, without doubt, the whole of the enemy
had fallen back, started with Karl; and that evening rode into the
royal camp, and reported himself to the king.

"I am glad to see you back, Drummond," Frederick said heartily. "I
have sorely missed you; and indeed, when I rode away the accounts
of you were so bad that I doubted whether you would ever be able to
be with me again. You don't look quite yourself yet, but no doubt
the air and exercise will soon bring you round. Have you any news?"

"Lacy has left ten thousand men in Dresden, sire, and with the rest
of his force has joined the Confederate army at Plauen."

"Just what I wished," the king said. "It has saved me a long march,
and we will now go straight to Dresden."

The next day the army marched forward, circled round the western
and southern sides of Dresden, and encamped at Gruna, a mile to the
southeast of the city; and throughout the night laboured at getting
up batteries. The division under Holstein was planted on an
eminence on the other side of the river, across which a pontoon
bridge was at once thrown. There was no fear of disturbance from
Lacy, the united force of the enemy having retreated to the old
Saxon camp at Pirna. The king, after seeing the batteries marked
out, retired to bed early; and Fergus was able to ride round and
pay a short visit to the count.

On the 14th the batteries opened fire--Maguire having refused the
summons to surrender--and continued for four days without making
much impression upon the walls, the heaviest guns being only
twenty-five pounders.

On the 18th some heavy guns arrived from Magdeburg. The batteries
were all ready for them, and as soon as they arrived they were set
to work. Maguire burnt the suburbs outside the town, and answered
the cannonade hotly.

Finding that the guns on the walls did but little damage to the
Prussian batteries, Maguire mounted two or three guns on to the
leads of the Protestant church, and from this commanding position
he was able to throw shot right into them. The Prussian fire was at
once concentrated on the church, which was speedily set on fire.
This spread through the surrounding streets, and a tremendous
conflagration raged for the next forty-eight hours. But by this
time Daun, who had lost some days before setting out in pursuit of
Frederick, was within five miles of the town, had driven Holstein
across the river, and was in communication with Maguire.

On the night of the 21st-22nd Maguire's garrison, led by General
Nugent, sallied out from Dresden; while four thousand of Daun's men
marched round from the north side. For a time the assault on the
Prussian intrenchments was successful, although Nugent was, on his
first attack, repulsed and taken prisoner. But when Daun's people
arrived the regiments defending the trenches were driven out. Then
fresh battalions came up and drove the Austrians out, taking many
prisoners.

Daun remained passive for some days after this, and Frederick
continued to cannonade the city until the 29th; making, however,
his preparations for departure, and going off unmolested by the
enemy towards Meissen. The news reached him that Glatz, one of the
barrier fortresses of Silesia, had been taken by Loudon, and that
the latter was besieging Breslau.

Daun had guessed the way by which Frederick would retire, and had
broken up the roads and bridges, and felled trees in the forests so
as to render them impassable; and as soon as Frederick started he
moved in the same direction, his position so serving him that,
marching by a road parallel to that taken by the king, he was ahead
of him. Lacy had been warned to be prepared, and he too started
with his army, so that the three forces moved eastward at a
comparatively short distance apart.

Although hampered by the obstacles in their way, and by a train of
two thousand wagons, the Prussians moved rapidly and covered a
hundred miles in five days. Daun made what was, for him, prodigious
efforts also, and kept the lead he had gained.

On the 7th of August Frederick was thirty miles west of Liegnitz.
Here he halted for a day, and on the 9th marched to the Katzbach
valley, only to find that Daun was securely posted on the other
side of the river, and Lacy on the hills a few miles off. The next
morning Frederick marched down the bank of the Katzbach to
Liegnitz, Daun keeping parallel with him on the other side of the
river.

Knowing that Daun had been joined during the night by Loudon, and
that they were vastly too strong to be attacked, Frederick started
at eleven at night, and at daybreak was back on his old camping
ground. He crossed the river, hoping to be able to fall upon Lacy;
but the latter had moved off, and Frederick, pressing on, would
have got fairly ahead of his enemies if it had not been for the
heavy baggage train, which delayed him for five hours; and by the
time it came up he found that Lacy, Daun, and Loudon were all round
him again.

The situation seemed desperate. The army had but four days'
provisions left, and a scout sent out on the 12th reported that the
roads over the hills were absolutely impassable for baggage. At
eight o'clock the army set out again, recrossed the Katzbach, and
again made for Liegnitz, which they reached after a sixteen hours'
march. Here the king halted for thirty hours, and his three enemies
gathered round him again.

They were ninety thousand strong, while he was but thirty. Daun
made elaborate reconnaissances, and Frederick had no doubt that he
would be attacked, that night or early the next morning. After dark
the army marched quietly away, and took up its position on the
heights of Torberger, its fires being left burning brightly, with
two drummers to beat occasionally.

Daun's and Lacy's fires were clearly visible; but they, like his
own, were deserted, both having marched to catch him, as they
hoped, asleep at Liegnitz; but it chanced that Loudon had been
ordered to take post just where Frederick had halted, and his
troops came suddenly upon the Prussians in the dark.

A battalion was despatched at once, with some cannon, to seize the
crest of the Wolfberg. Loudon, whose work was to prevent Frederick
from flying eastward, had hurried forward; his scouts having
informed him that a number of the Prussian baggage waggons were
passing, and hoped to effect a capture of them; and he was vastly
surprised when, instead of finding the baggage guard before him, he
was received with a tremendous musketry fire and volleys of case
shot.

He at once rallied his troops and, with five battalions in front,
dashed forward. He was repulsed, but returned to the attack three
times. He kept edging round towards the right, to take Frederick in
flank; but the Prussians also shifted their ground, and met him.
The Austrian cavalry poured down again and again, and fresh
battalions of infantry were continually brought up.

At last Loudon felt that the contest was hopeless, and fell back
across the Katzbach. The Prussians captured six thousand of his men
before they could get across the river, four thousand were killed
and wounded, and eighty-two cannons captured. Thus his army of
thirty-five thousand strong had been wrecked by the Prussian left
wing, numbering fifteen thousand; the rest of the Prussian forces,
under Ziethen, keeping guard lest Daun and Lacy should come on to
aid him. Daun, however, was miles away, intent upon catching
Frederick; and did not know until morning that his camp had been
deserted, and Loudon beaten.

As soon as he was assured of this, he poured his cavalry across the
river, but Ziethen's cannon drove them back again; and he saw that,
with Ziethen standing in order of battle, in a commanding position,
with his guns sweeping the bridges, he could do nothing.

Frederick remained four hours on the battlefield, collected five
thousand muskets lying on the field and, with the six thousand
prisoners, his wounded, and newly-captured cannon, marched away at
nine o'clock in the morning.

A Russian force of twenty-four thousand still blocked the way; but,
desirous above all things to effect a junction with Prince Henry,
Frederick got rid of them, by sending a peasant with instructions
to let himself be taken by the Russians. The slip of paper he
carried contained the words:

"Austrians totally beaten this day. Now for the Russians, dear
brother, and swift. Do what we have agreed upon."

The ruse had its effect. The Russian general, believing that
Frederick and Prince Henry were both about to fall upon him,
retreated at once, burning the bridge behind him; and the king
pushed on to Breslau, which he reached on the 16th; having, thanks
to the wonderful marching of his troops, and his own talent,
escaped as if by a miracle from what seemed certain destruction.

For a fortnight Frederick remained encamped, at a short distance
from Breslau, waiting to see what Daun and Soltikoff intended to
do. Daun was busy urging the Russians to come on. Soltikoff was
sulky that Daun had failed in all his endeavours, and that the
brunt of the affair was likely, again, to fall on him and his
Russians.

Elsewhere things had gone more favourably for the king. Ferdinand
of Brunswick had now twenty thousand British with him, and fifty
thousand Hanoverians and Brunswickers; while the French army under
Broglio was one hundred and thirty thousand strong. A check was
first inflicted on the French at Korbach and, a few days later, an
English cavalry regiment and a battalion of Scotch infantry cut up
or captured a brigade of French dragoons.

On the 29th of July, as Frederick was leaving Dresden, a serious
engagement took place at Warburg. Here Broglio's rear guard of
thirty thousand infantry and cavalry, under the Chevalier du Muy,
were attacked; in the first place by a free corps called the
British Legion, composed of men of many nationalities, who turned
Du Muy's right wing out of Warburg. Then the Prince of Brunswick
fell upon the whole French line, and the fight was a stubborn one
for two or three hours, Maxwell's British brigade fighting most
obstinately. They were greatly outnumbered, but were presently
joined by Lord Granby, at the head of the English cavalry, and
these decided the battle.

The French lost fifteen hundred killed, over two thousand
prisoners, and their guns; the allies twelve hundred killed and
wounded, of whom eight hundred were British, showing how large a
share they had taken in the fighting.

Another good bit of news for Frederick was that Hulsen, whom he had
left to watch the enemy in Saxony, had, with ten thousand men,
defeated an army thirty thousand strong; who, as they thought, had
caught him in a net. The Russians had fallen back, but only to
besiege Colbert again.

Prince Henry was ill, but Frederick had made a junction with his
army, bringing his force up to fifty thousand. During the whole of
September there were marches and counter-marches, Frederick pushing
Daun backwards, and preventing him from besieging any of his
fortresses, and gradually cutting the Austrians from their
magazines.

General Werner on the 18th, with five thousand men, fell suddenly
upon fifteen thousand Russians covering the siege of Colbert,
defeated, and scattered them in all directions. The Russian army at
once marched away from Colbert; not however, as Frederick hoped,
back to Poland but, in agreement with Daun, to make a rush on
Berlin.

One force, twenty thousand strong, crossed the Oder. The main body,
under Fermor, for Soltikoff had fallen sick, moved to Frankfort;
while Lacy, with fifteen thousand, marched from Silesia. On the 3rd
of October the Russian vanguard reached the neighbourhood of
Berlin, and summoned it to surrender, and pay a ransom of four
million thalers. The garrison of twelve hundred strong, joined by
no small part of the male population, took post at the gates and
threw up redoubts; and Prince Eugene of Wuertemberg, after a
tremendous march of forty miles, threw himself into the city.

The Russian vanguard drew off, until joined by Lacy. Hulsen, with
nine thousand, had followed Lacy with all speed; and managed to
throw himself into Berlin before the twenty thousand Russians
arrived. There were now fourteen thousand Prussians in the city,
thirty-five thousand Russians and Austrians outside.

The odds were too great. Negotiations were therefore begun with the
Russian general Tottleben, and Berlin agreed to pay one million and
a half thalers, in the debased coin that now served as the medium
of circulation. Lacy was furious and, when he and the Russians
marched in, his men behaved so badly that the Russians had, two or
three times, to fire upon them. Saxon and Austrian parties sacked
Potsdam and other palaces in the neighbourhood, but the Russians
behaved admirably; and so things went on until, on October 11th,
came the news that Frederick was coming.

Lacy at once marched off with all speed towards Torgau; while
Tottleben and the Russians made for Frankfort-on-Oder, the Cossacks
committing terrible depredations on the march.

The king halted when he heard that Berlin had been evacuated. He
was deeply grieved and mortified that his capital should have been
in the hands of the invaders, even for three days; and his own
loss, from the sacking of Potsdam and other palaces, was very
heavy. However, he paid the ransom from his own pocket, and
bitterly determined to get even with the enemy, before winter came
on.

While Hulsen was away, the Confederate army had captured all the
strongholds in Saxony. Daun had, as usual, advanced with his sixty
thousand men, and intended to winter in Saxony; but before he could
get there, Frederick had dashed south and recaptured Wittenberg and
Leipzig, crossed the Elbe, and driven the scattered corps of the
Confederate army before him. Prince Eugene had also hurried that
way, and defeated his brother, the reigning Duke of Wuertemberg.

Daun moved with the intention of aiding the Confederate army, but
before he could reach them Hulsen had driven them across the
mountain range into Bohemia, and fell back towards Torgau.

Long before this Fergus had received a reply, from his mother, to
his letter announcing the glad news of the restoration of the
estate:

"It will be doubly dear to me," she said, "as having been won back
by your own exertions and bravery. These four years have been an
anxious time, indeed, for me, Fergus; but the thought that you are
restored to your own, as the result of what you have done, makes up
for it all. I quite see that as long as the war continues you
cannot, with honour, leave the king; but I cannot think that this
war will go on very much longer, and I can wait patiently for the
end.

"And, Fergus, I am not quite sure that the end will be that you
will quietly settle down in the glens. A mother's eye is sharp, and
it seems to me that that young countess near Dresden is a very
conspicuous figure in your letters. During the four years that you
have been out, you have not mentioned the name of any lady but her
and her mother; and you always speak of going back there, as if it
were your German home. That is natural enough, after the service
that you have rendered them. Still, 'tis strange that you should
apparently have made the acquaintance of no other ladies. I don't
think that you have written a single letter, since you have been
away, in which you have not said something about this Saxon count
and his family.

"However, even if it should be so, Fergus, I should not be
discontented. It is only natural that you should sooner or later
marry; and although I would rather that it had been into a Scotch
family, it is for you to choose, not me. I am grateful already,
very grateful for the kindness the family have shown you; and am
quite inclined to love this pretty young countess, if she, on her
part, is inclined to love you. I don't think I could have said so
quite as heartily, before I received your last letter; for I had a
great fear that you might marry and settle down, altogether, in
Germany; but now that the estate is yours, and you are the head of
your clan, I feel sure that you will, at any rate, spend a part of
your time among your own people."

A second letter reached Fergus at the beginning of October; in
answer to his from the camp in front of Dresden, in the middle of
July, which had been delayed much on its way, owing to the rapid
marches of the army, until it had shaken itself free from its
pursuers after the battle of Liegnitz. It began:

"I congratulate you, my dear Fergus, congratulate you with all my
heart; and if there is just a shadow of regret that you should not
have married and settled here entirely, it is but a small regret,
in proportion to the pleasure I feel. It is not even reasonable,
for when I consented to your going abroad to take service in
Prussia, I knew that this would probably end in your settling down
there altogether; for it was hardly likely that you could win a
fortune that would admit of your coming back to live here.

"Of course, had your estate at that time been restored to you, you
would probably not have gone at all; or if you had done so, it
would have been but to stay for a few years, and see service under
your cousin Keith, and then return to live among your own people.
As it was, there was no reason why you should greatly wish to
return to Scotland, where you were landless, with no avenues open
to employment. However, what you tell me, that the count and
countess are willing that you should spend some months here, every
year, is far better than I could have expected or even hoped; and,
as you may imagine, quite reconciles me to the thought of your
marrying abroad.

"In all other respects, nothing could be more satisfactory than
what you tell me. Your promised wife must be a charming young lady,
and her father and mother the kindest of people. Of course, your
worldly prospects will be vastly beyond anything that even my
wildest dreams have ever pictured for you, and in this respect all
my cares for you are at an end.

"It will be delightful, indeed, to look forward to your homecoming
every year; and I consider myself in every way a fortunate woman. I
am sure that I shall come to love your Thirza very dearly.

"The only question is, when is the first visit to take place?
Everyone says that it does not seem that the war can go on very
much longer; and that, wonderful as the king's resistance to so
many enemies has been, it cannot continue. However, from what you
say of his determination, and the spirit of the people, I cannot
think that the end can be so near as people think. They have been
saying nearly the same thing for the last three years; and yet,
though everything seemed as dark as possible, he always extricated
himself somehow from his difficulties.

"Besides, his enemies must at last get tired of a war in which, so
far, they have had more defeats than victories, and have lavished
such enormous sums of money. France has already impoverished
herself, and Russia and Austria must feel the strain, too. In every
church here prayers are offered for the success of the champion of
Protestantism; and I am sure that if he had sent Scottish officers,
as Gustavus Adolphus did, to raise troops in Scotland, he could
have obtained forty or fifty thousand men in a very few weeks, so
excited is everyone over the struggle.

"You would be surprised what numbers of people have called upon me,
to congratulate me upon your rising to be a colonel in Frederick's
army--people I have never seen before; and I can assure you that I
never felt so important a person, even before the evil days of
Culloden. When you come back the whole countryside will flock to
give you welcome."

This letter was a great comfort to Fergus. That his mother would
rejoice at his good fortune, he knew; but he feared that his
marriage with a German lady, whatever her rank, would be a sore
disappointment to her, not so much perhaps for her own sake as for
that of the clansmen.

The English ambassador was no longer with the army. At the fierce
fight of Liegnitz he had been with Frederick, but had passed the
night in his carriage, which was jammed up among the baggage
wagons, and had been unable to extricate himself or to discover how
the battle was going on. Several times the Austrian cavalry had
fallen upon the baggage, and had with great difficulty been beaten
off by its guard; and the discomforts of the time, and the anxiety
through which he had gone, so unhinged him that he was unable to
follow Frederick's rapid movements throughout the rest of the
campaign.

Fergus had confided to Earl Marischal Keith, later, his engagement
to the Count Eulenfurst's daughter.

"You are a lucky young dog, Fergus," he said. "My brother and I
came abroad too late for any young countess to fall in love with
us. There is nothing like taking young to the business of
soldiering abroad. Bravery is excellent in its way; but youth and
bravery, combined with good looks, are irresistible to the female
mind. I am heartily glad that one of our kin should have won
something more than six feet of earth by his sword.

"Count Eulenfurst is one of the few men everyone speaks well of.
There is no man in Saxony who stands higher. In any other country
he would have been the leading statesman of his time, but the
wretched king, and his still more wretched minister, held in
disfavour all who opposed their wanton extravagance and their
dangerous plans.

"It is an honour indeed to be connected with such a family, putting
aside all question of money; but indeed, in this respect nothing
could be more satisfactory. His daughter is the sole heiress of his
wide estates, and as her husband you will have a splendid position.

"I am very glad, lad, that the count has no objection to your
passing a portion of your time in Scotland. They say, you know,
that much as Scotchmen boast of their love of their country, they
are always ready to leave it to better themselves; and that it is
very seldom they ever return to it. Such was, unhappily, the case
with my brother; such will probably be the case with myself; but I
am glad that you will be an exception, and that you will still keep
up your connection with your old home.

"I hope, lad, that you will have more than one son. The first, of
course, will make Saxony his home; but bring up the second as a
Scotchman, send him home to be educated, and let him succeed you in
the glens. If he has the family instinct for fighting, let him go
into the British army--he can go into no better--but let your
people have some one who will be their own laird, and whose
interests will be identified with their own."

Fergus smiled at the old man's earnestness.

"That is rather looking ahead, sir," he said. "However, it is
certainly what I should like to do, myself; and if, as you say, I
have more than one son, I will certainly give the second the
training you suggest, and make a Scotchman of him. Certainly, if he
has fighting instincts, he will see that he will have more
opportunities of active service, in the British army, than he could
have in that of Saxony; which has been proved unable to stand
alone, and can only act as a small ally to either Prussia or
Austria. Even putting aside my nationality, I would rather be
fighting under Clive, in India, than in any service in the
world--even in that of Prussia."

"You are right, lad. Since the days of Marlborough, people have
begun to think that the British were no longer a fighting people;
but the way in which they have wrested Canada from the French, and
achieved marvels in India, to say nothing of the conduct of their
infantry at Minden, shows that the qualities of the race are
unchanged; and some day they will astonish the world again, as they
have done several times in their history."

The king soon heard the news from the Earl, and one evening said to
Fergus:

"So, as the Earl Marischal tells me, you have found time, Colonel
Drummond, for love making. I thought, that day I went to express my
regrets for the outrage that had been committed at Count
Eulenfurst's, that it would make a pretty romance if the young lady
who received me should take a fancy to you; which was not
altogether unlikely, after the gallant manner in which you had
saved them all from those rascals of mine; and when you told me, at
Dresden, that they had been nursing you, the idea again occurred to
me. Well, I am glad you have done so well for yourself. As a king,
I rejoice that one who has fought so bravely should obtain a meet
reward; and as one who dabbles in poetry, the romance of the thing
is very pleasant to me.

"But I am not to lose your services, I hope?"

"No, sire. So long as the war goes on, I shall continue to serve
your majesty to the best of my powers."

The king nodded.

"It is what I should have expected, from one of Marshal Keith's
relations," he said; "but it is not everyone who would care to go
on leading this dog's life, when a pretty and well-endowed bride is
awaiting him.

"However, it cannot last much longer. The crisis must come, ere
long. If we can defeat Daun, it may be put off for a time. If we
are beaten, I do not see that I can struggle longer against fate.
With Berlin already in their hands, with the country denuded of men
and almost exhausted in means, with the Russian and Austrian armies
already planted on Prussian soil, I can do no more, if I lose
another great battle."

"We must hope that it will not be so, sire. The spirit of the
soldiers is as high as ever and, now that they will be fighting
nearly within sight of their homes, they can be trusted to achieve
almost impossibilities."

"The men are good men," the king said, "and if I had Keith and
Schwerin by my side, I should feel more hopeful; but they are gone,
and there are none to fill their places. My brother Henry is a good
soldier, but he is over cautious. Seidlitz has not recovered from
his wounds. Hulsen has done well of late, and has shown wonderful
energy, considering that he is an old man. But there are none of
them who are at once prudent when it behoved them to be prudent,
and quick to strike when they see an opening, like Schwerin and
Keith.

"Ziethen is a splendid cavalry officer, but he is fit to command
cavalry only; and the whole burden falls upon my shoulders, which
are getting too old to bear so heavy a weight."

"I trust, sire, that they will not have to bear the burden much
longer. Just at present Russia and Austria are doubtless encouraged
by success; but the strain must be heavy on them also, and another
defeat might well cause them to doubt whether it is worthwhile to
continue to make sacrifices that produce such small results."

"Heaven grant that it may be so!" the king said earnestly. "God
knows that I never wanted this war, and that from the day it began
I have eagerly grasped every chance that presented itself of making
peace, short of the dismemberment of my kingdom. I would at this
moment willingly accede to any terms, however onerous, in order to
secure peace for my country."



Chapter 20: Torgau.


After many marches and quick blows at the Confederate armies, and
driving them beyond the borders of Saxony, Frederick moved towards
Torgau, where Daun had established himself in a position that he
deemed impregnable. It had been Prince Henry's camp during the
previous autumn, and Daun had in vain beleaguered it. Hulsen had
made it his headquarters during the summer.

Torgau was an old-fashioned town, surrounded by tracts of pine
wood, with pleasant villages and much well-cultivated land. The
town rose above the Elbe, on the shoulder of a broad eminence
called the Siptitz. This height stands nearly a mile from the
river. On the western and southern side of the town are a series of
lakes and quagmires, the remains of an old course of the Elbe.

Set on Siptitz's heights was Daun's camp, girt about by
intrenchments. The hill was mostly covered with vineyards. Its
height was some two hundred feet above the general level of the
country, and its area some five or six square miles. Covered, as
its flanks were, by heights, woods, ponds, and morasses, the
position was an extremely strong one, so much so that Daun had not
ventured to attack Prince Henry, though in vastly superior force;
and still more difficult was it for Frederick to do so, when held
by an army greatly superior to his own, for the Austrian force
numbered sixty-five thousand, while the king, after being joined by
all his detachments, had but forty-four thousand. Nothing, indeed,
but the most urgent necessity could have driven the king to attempt
so difficult an enterprise.


[Map: Battle of Torgau]


His plan was to attack it simultaneously in front and rear; and to
do this he decided that half the force, under Ziethen, should
attack the Siptitz hill on the south side; while he himself, with
the other half, was to make a long detour and assault it, at the
same moment, on the north.

Frederick's march was some fifteen miles in length, while Ziethen
had but six to traverse; and as the route was through forests, the
difficulties in the way of the two columns arriving at their point
of attack, simultaneously, were great indeed; and were increased by
the fact that the weather was wet, the ground heavy, and the
streams swollen.

The king's force marched in three columns, by roads through the
forest. There were no villages here, no one to question as to the
turns and branchings of roads, thus adding to the chances that even
Frederick's force would not arrive together at the point of attack.
Frederick's own column contained eight thousand grenadiers and foot
guards, with a force of cavalry; and his line of march was by the
road nearest to Daun's position.

Two other columns--Hulsen's, composed principally of infantry; and
Holstein's, chiefly of cavalry--marched on parallel roads on a
wider circle; and the baggage, in a column by itself, outside all.

Daun had news of Frederick's approach, and had strong detachments
watching in the woods. The scouts of one of these parties brought
in news of the king's march. A signal cannon was fired immediately,
and Daun learned thereby of the movement to attack him from the
north.

Daun at once wheeled round a portion of his force to receive
Frederick's attack. Lacy, with twenty thousand men, had been placed
as an advanced guard; and now shifted his position westward, to
guard what had become Daun's rear; while two hundred fresh cannon
were added, to the two hundred already placed, to defend the face
threatened by Frederick.

For an hour before the king arrived at his point of attack, a heavy
artillery fire had been heard from Ziethen's side; and it was
supposed that he had already delivered his attack. Unfortunately,
he had not done so. He had calculated his pace accurately, but had
come upon a small Austrian force, like those Frederick had
encountered. It had for a time held its ground, and had replied to
his fire with cannon. Ziethen, not knowing how small the force was,
drew up in order of battle and drove it back on Lacy, far to the
east of his proper place of attack. Here he became engaged with
Lacy, and a cannonade was kept up for some hours--precious time
that should have been spent in ascending the hills, and giving aid
to the king.

When Frederick's column emerged from the woods, there was no sign
of either Hulsen or Holstein's divisions. The king sent out his
staff to hurry them up, and himself reconnoitred the ground and
questioned the peasants.

The ground proved so boggy as to be impassable, and Frederick
withdrew into the wood again, in order to attack the Austrian left.
This had, in Prince Henry's time, been defended by a strong
abattis; but since the cold weather set in, much of this had been
used by the Austrians as firewood, and it could therefore be
penetrated.

Frederick waited impatiently. He could hear the heavy cannonade on
Ziethen, and feared that that general would be crushed before he
could perform his part of the plan arranged. His staff were unable
to find Holstein's cavalry, which had taken the wrong turning at
some point, and were completely lost. Hulsen was still far away.

Nevertheless, in his desire to give support to Ziethen, the king
decided upon an attack with his own column, alone. The grenadiers
were placed in the front line, the rest of the infantry in the
centre. The cavalry, 800 strong, followed to do any service that
chance might afford them.

It took some time to bring the troops into their new position and,
while this was being done, Daun opened fire, with his four hundred
cannon, upon the forest through which they were marching, with a
din that Frederick declared exceeded anything that he ever heard
before. The small force of artillery took its place outside the
wood to cover the attack but, as soon as a few shots were fired,
the Austrian guns opened upon them and they were silenced.

Frederick's place was between the two lines of his grenadiers, and
they issued from the wood within eight hundred yards of Prince
Henry's abattis, and with marvellous bravery ran forward. Mowed
down in lines by the storm of cannon shot, they suffered terribly.
One regiment was almost entirely destroyed, the other pressed
forward as far as the abattis, fighting so desperately that Daun
was obliged to bring up large reinforcements before he could drive
the survivors back.

The Austrians, believing that victory was won, charged down in
pursuit; but the second line met them firmly, drove them back and,
following hotly, again reached the abattis; and only retreated
slowly before the overwhelming forces which the Austrian then
brought up. The battle had lasted only an hour, but half
Frederick's column were already killed or wounded.

Shortly after they had retired, Hulsen's column came up. The four
hundred guns had never ceased pouring their iron rain into the
forest, but the newcomers arrived in splendid order. The remnant of
Frederick's column joined them, furious at defeat and burning to
meet the enemy again.

So stern and resolute was the attack that, for a time, it carried
all before it. Daun's line of defence was broken, most of his
cannon silenced, and for a time the Prussians advanced, carrying
all before them. Had Ziethen been doing his part, instead of idly
cannonading Lacy, the battle would have been won; but his
inactivity enabled Daun to bring up all his forces against the
king. These he hurled at the Prussians and, foot by foot, drove
them back and pushed them down the hill again.

Frederick himself had been struck from his horse by a piece of case
shot, fortunately almost spent, and which failed to penetrate his
thick pelisse. He was badly contused, and for a short time
insensible; but he quickly sprung to his feet again, mounted his
horse, and maintained his place in the fight as if nothing had
happened. After this second repulse he again formed up his troops,
and at that moment he was joined by Holstein with his cavalry.

The sun had already set, and the darkness favoured the attack. Daun
had not yet recovered from the terrible confusion into which his
troops were thrown by the attack, and the Prussians again mounted
the hill, Holstein attacking Daun's right wing.

The main body of the cavalry found the morasses and obstacles so
impracticable that they were unable to attack as arranged, but two
regiments succeeded in gaining the plateau. One of these dashed
upon the Austrian infantry. They met, broke into fragments, and
took two whole regiments prisoners; and brought them and six guns
triumphantly off. The other regiment charged four Austrian
battalions, broke them, and brought the greater portion off,
prisoners.

Night fell upon a scene of general confusion. The two armies were
completely mixed up. In some places Austrians were in the rear of
the Prussians, in others Prussians in the rear of Austrians.

Nothing more could to be done. So far Frederick had gained a
success and, thanks to the extraordinary bravery and determination
of his soldiers, had broken up Daun's line and planted himself on
the plateau; but he had suffered terribly in doing so, and could
hardly hope, in the morning, to make head against the vastly
superior forces of the Austrians.

Daun himself had been wounded in the foot, and had gone down to the
town to have it dressed. Had he been able to remain on the field,
late as it was, he might have been able to restore order and to
continue the battle; as it was, gradually the firing ceased.
Exhausted by the long march and the desperate efforts they had
made, the Prussians wrapped themselves in their cloaks, and lay
down to sleep where they stood--if sleep they could, on so bitterly
cold a night.

On the hilltop there was no wood to be had, but in the forest great
fires were lighted. Round these Prussian and Austrian stragglers
alike gathered. In the morning they would be foes again, but for
tonight they were content to lay their quarrel aside, none knowing
who was victor and who vanquished; and which, in the morning, would
be prisoners to the others.

The king, now that the excitement was over, felt the pain of his wound.
He descended the hill, and took up his quarters in the church at the
little village of Elsnig, where every house was full of wounded. He had
left Hulsen the charge of endeavouring to reform the scattered troops,
but he could do but little that way. In vain did the generals and
officers move about with orders, expostulations, and threats. For once
the Prussian soldier was deaf to the word of command. He had done all
that he could do, and nature triumphed over long habits of obedience;
even the sound of cannon and musketry, on the other side of the hill,
fell dead upon his ears. Ziethen had been cannonading all day. Nothing
had come of it, and nothing could come of it.

Still, Hulsen did a good deal, and by six o'clock had got some of
the cavalry and infantry battalions in fair order, on the extreme
right; where, in the morning, Daun's left flank stood.

Ziethen, ordinarily a brilliant and active man, had been a strange
failure that day. Not even the terrible din of the king's battle
had roused him to take any measure to support him, or even to make
a diversion in his favour. In vain Mollendorf, an active and
enterprising general, had implored him to attempt something, if
only to draw off a portion of the Austrian strength from the king.
Saldern, another general, had fruitlessly added his voice to that
of Mollendorf.

A feeling of deep gloom spread through the army, a feeling that the
king had been deserted, and must have been crushed; just as, on the
other side, all felt certain that some serious misfortune must have
happened to Ziethen.

At last, as darkness began to set in, at four o'clock, Ziethen was
persuaded to move. He marched towards the left, to the point where
he should have attacked in the morning, but which he had passed in
his hot pursuit of the small Austrian force; but first sent Saldern
against the village of Siptitz.

Burning with their repressed impatience, Saldern's infantry went at
the enemy with a rush, captured the battery there, and drove the
Austrians out; but the latter fired the bridge so that, for the
present, farther advance was barred to the Prussians.

Fortunately at this moment Mollendorf, more to the west, came upon
the road by which Ziethen should have marched. It was carried
firmly over the marsh ground, and by a bridge over a stream between
two of the ponds. Seizing this pass over the morasses, Mollendorf
sent to Ziethen; who, roused at last, ordered all his force to
hurry there.

The Austrians had now taken the alarm, and hurried to oppose the
passage; but Mollendorf had already many troops across the bridge,
and maintained himself till he was sufficiently reinforced to push
forward.

For an hour and a half a desperate fight raged. The Prussians
gained but little ground, while the Austrians were constantly being
reinforced from Lacy's command, on their left. Hulsen, however,
just as he had got a portion of his infantry and cavalry into some
sort of order, had marked the sudden increase of the cannonade on
the other side of the hill; and, presently seeing the glow of a
great fire, guessed that it must come from the village of Siptitz.
Then came a furious cannonade, and the continuous roar of musketry
that spoke of a battle in earnest. Ziethen, then, was coming at
last, and the old general determined to help him.

His own riding horses had all been killed, and he had been sorely
bruised by the falls. Sending for a cannon, he got astride of it,
called up the infantry round him--the brigade of General
Lestwitz--begged the drummers to strike up the Prussian march and,
through the blackness of the night, started for the point where the
din of battle was going on unceasingly.

Forgotten now were the fatigues of the day. The Prussians pressed
on with their quick strides, their excitement growing higher and
higher as they neared the scene of action; and breaking out into a
roar of cheering as, sweeping round on the side of the hill, they
joined Ziethen's hardly-pressed troops and rushed upon the enemy.

But though the news of their coming cheered all the line to fresh
exertions, not yet was the combat finished. The whole of Lacy's
command was opposed to them, swelled by reinforcements sent down
from above by O'Donnel who, in Daun's absence, was in command. It
was another hour before the foe gave way, and the Prussians pressed
steadily up the hill; until at nine o'clock they were planted on
the top of the Siptitz hill, on the highest point of the plateau,
whence their cannon commanded the whole ground down to Torgau.

Daun, conscious of the danger, had, as he heard of Ziethen's
advance, sent order after order that he must at all costs be driven
back; and even when the Prussians gained the position, they had
still to struggle fiercely for another hour to hold it. Daun knew
that, with Frederick established on one side of the position, and
with Ziethen well planted upon the other and commanding the whole
of it with his guns, there was nothing for it but to retreat; and
already he had sent orders that a strong force should form in order
of battle to repel an attack, close to the suburbs of Torgau. As
soon as this disposition was effected, he ordered the retreat to
commence.

Fortunately he had four bridges across the river; and he had, on
the previous day, taken the precaution of sending the whole of his
baggage wagons over. On occasions of this kind Daun's dispositions
were always admirable, and he drew off his army across the river in
excellent order; half the Prussian army knowing nothing of what was
going on, and the other half being too exhausted to attempt to
interfere, ignorant as they were of the position and state of
Frederick's division.

Had the king known earlier what was taking place, comparatively few
of the Austrian army would have got across the river. But it was
not until long after the battle was done that Frederick, sitting
depressed and heavy hearted, dictating his despatches in the little
church seven or eight miles away, learned that what had seemed
likely to terminate in a terrible disaster, had ended with a
decisive victory. Daun lost in the battle twelve thousand killed
and wounded, eight thousand prisoners, and forty-five cannon; while
the Prussians lost between thirteen and fourteen thousand, of whom
four thousand were prisoners.

It was not until nearly one o'clock in the morning that Ziethen
learned that the Austrians were already across the river. Then he
pushed down into Torgau, and crossed the town bridge in time to
capture twenty-six pontoons.

Daun retreated by the right side of the river, Lacy by the left;
and the two forces rejoined at Dresden, and took up their position,
as usual, in the Plauen stronghold; while Frederick, after
finishing the clearance of all Saxony save the capital, took up his
winter quarters at Leipzig on the 6th of December.

The result of the battle of Torgau was not to be measured by the
respective losses of the two armies. It had the effect of entirely
undoing all the advantages that the Austrians had gained,
throughout the campaign; and left the king in a better position
than when it opened in the spring. The Russian army had been
attacked and beaten, while the Austrians were shut up in their
natural stronghold, near Dresden. The whole of Saxony had been
recovered; and Silesia, with the exception of one or two
fortresses, was still in Frederick's hands. How light hearted the
king felt, after the load of care that had lain upon him had been
lifted, may be judged by an extract from a letter, written a
fortnight after the battle to an elderly lady of the court at
Magdeburg.

"I am exact in answering, and eager to satisfy you (in that matter
of the porcelain). You shall have a breakfast set, my good Mamma:
six coffee-cups, very pretty, well diapered, and tricked out with
all the little embellishments which increase their value. On
account of some pieces which they are adding to the set, you will
have to wait a few days; but I flatter myself this delay will
contribute to your satisfaction, and produce for you a toy that
will give you pleasure, and make you remember your old adorer. It
is curious how old people's habits agree. For four years past I
have given up suppers, as incompatible with the trade I am obliged
to follow; and on marching days my dinners consist of a cup of
chocolate.

"We hurried off like fools, quite inflated with our victory, to try
if we could not chase the Austrians out of Dresden. They made a
mockery of us from the tops of their mountains. So I have
withdrawn, like a bad little boy, to conceal myself, out of spite,
in one of the wretchedest villages in Saxony. And here the first
thing will be to drive the Circle gentlemen (Reich's army) out of
Freyberg into Chemnitz, and get ourselves soon to quarters, and
something to live upon.

"It is, I swear to you, a hideous life; the like of which nobody
but Don Quixote ever led before me. All this tumbling and toiling,
and bother and confusion that never ceases, has made me so old that
you would scarcely know me again. On the right side of my head the
hair is all gray. My teeth break and fall out. I have got my face
wrinkled like the falbalas of a petticoat, my back bent like a
fiddle bow, and spirit sad and cast down like a monk of La Trappe.
I forewarn you of all this lest, in case we should meet again in
flesh and bone, you might feel yourself too violently shocked by my
appearance. There remains to me nothing but the heart, which has
undergone no change; and which will preserve, as long as I breathe,
its feelings of esteem and of tender friendship for my good Mamma.

"Adieu."

Fergus knew nothing of the concluding scenes of the battle of
Torgau until some little time afterwards. He was not with the king
when the grenadiers first made their attack on the hill, having
been despatched to find and bring up Hulsen's column. Having
discovered it, he guided it through the forest to the point where
Frederick was so anxiously expecting its arrival; and when it
advanced, with the survivors of the grenadiers, to the second
attack, he took his place behind the king. They were halfway up the
ascent when a cannon ball struck him on the left arm, carrying it
away just above the elbow.


[Illustration: "As Fergus fell from his horse, Karl, who was
riding behind him, leapt from his saddle"]


As he fell from his horse, Karl, who was riding behind him, leapt
from his saddle with a hoarse cry of rage. Then, seeing the nature
of the wound, he lifted him in his arms, mounted Fergus's horse,
and rode down through an interval between the regiments of the
second line; and then into the wood, to the spot where the surgeons
were dressing the wounds of those hurt in the first charge. One who
had just finished attending one of the grenadiers, seeing that the
trooper was carrying a colonel of the king's staff, at once helped
Karl to lower him to the ground.

"You have done well to bring him down at once, my man," he said.
"It may be the saving of his life."

As he spoke, he was cutting off the tunic.

"There is not much flow of blood. You see, the contusion has closed
the main artery. If we can keep it from bursting out, he will do."

He took out from his case some stout tape, passed it round the arm,
asked Karl for a ramrod out of one his pistols and, with this,
twisted the tape until it almost cut into the skin. Then he gave a
few more turns, to hold the ramrod securely in its place. Then he
called a young surgeon to him.

"We had better make a good job of this, at once," he said. "This is
Colonel Drummond, one of the king's favourite officers, and a most
gallant young fellow. It will not take us five minutes."

The artery was first found and tied up; for Prussian surgery was,
at that time, far ahead of our own. The bruised flesh was pressed
up, the bone cut off neatly, above the point where it was
splintered, the flesh brought down again over it and trimmed, then
several thicknesses of lint put over it, and the whole carefully
bandaged up.

"There," he said to Karl, as he rose from his work, "that is all
that I can do for him; and unless it bursts out bleeding again, he
is likely to do well. If it does, you must tighten that tape still
more. All there is to do is to keep him as quiet as possible.

"Have you any spirits?"

"Yes, doctor, there is a flask in his holster."

"Mix some with as much water, and pour a little down his throat
from time to time. Fold his cloak, and put it under his head. He
will probably recover consciousness in a short time. When he does
so, impress upon him the necessity of lying perfectly quiet. As
soon as the battle is over, we must get him moved into shelter."

In half an hour Fergus opened his eyes. Karl, who was kneeling by
him, placed one hand on his chest and the other on the wounded arm.

"You must not move, colonel," he said. "You have been hit, but the
doctor says you will get over it; but you must lie perfectly
still."

Fergus looked round in bewilderment. Then, as the roar of the
battle came to his ears, he made an instinctive effort to rise.

"It is going on still," Karl said, repressing the movement. "We
shall thrash them, presently; but you can do nothing more today,
and you must do as the doctor bids you, sir."

"Where am I hit?"

"It is on the left arm, colonel. An Austrian cannonball did the
business. If it had been three or four inches farther to the right,
it would have finished you. As it is, I hope that you will soon get
about again."

"Then it has taken off my arm," Fergus said feebly.

"Better that than your head, sir. The left arm is of no great
account, except for holding a bridle; and there is a good bit of it
left.

"Drink a little more of this brandy and water. How do you feel now,
sir?"

"I feel cold," Fergus replied. "My feet are like ice."

Karl wrapped Fergus's fur-lined pelisse round his feet, undid his
blanket and cloak from his saddle, and laid them over him.

"That will be better, sir. Now, if you will promise to lie quite
quiet, I will fasten your horse up--I don't know what has become of
mine--and will go and collect some firewood and get up a good
blaze. I am afraid there is no chance of getting you into a
shelter, tonight."

"I am afraid we are being driven down the hill again, Karl. The
roll of musketry is coming nearer."

"That is so, colonel; but we shall have the cavalry up soon, and
that will make all the difference."

Just as Karl came back with an armful of firewood, a staff officer
rode up.

"The king has sent me to inquire how Colonel Drummond is," he said.
"His majesty has heard that he is badly wounded, and has been
carried here."

"This is the colonel, major," Karl said, leading him to the side of
Fergus.

"I am sorry to see you here," the officer said. "The king has sent
me to inquire after you."

"Will you thank his majesty, Major Kaulbach; and tell him that it
is nothing worse than the loss of a left arm, and that the
surgeon's opinion is that I shall do well. How goes the battle?"

"Badly, badly; but Holstein will be up in a quarter of an hour, and
then we shall have another try. We broke their line badly, last
time; and if we had had cavalry to launch at them, we should have
managed the business."

"The king is unhurt, I hope."

"Not altogether. He was struck from his horse by a piece of case
shot, but his pelisse saved him. He was able to mount again in a
few minutes, making very light of the affair; and was in the middle
of the fight, as usual. I was next you when you were hit, and I saw
your orderly lift you on to your horse before him and, as soon as
we got down here, reported it to the king."

"Our loss must be terribly heavy."

"Terrible! There is no saying how severe it is, yet; but not half
the grenadiers are on their feet.

"There is nothing I can do for you?"

"Nothing at all. My orders are to lie still; and as I feel too weak
to move, and there is no one to carry me away, and nowhere to take
me to, I am not likely to disobey the order."

The officer rode off again. Karl soon had a fire lighted,
sufficiently close to Fergus for him to feel its warmth. Wounded
men, who had made their way down the hill, came and sat down on the
other sides of it. Many other fires were lighted, as it grew dusk.

In front the battle had broken out again, as furiously as ever; and
ere long wounded men began to come down again. They brought
cheering news, however. The Prussians were still pressing forward,
the cavalry had thrown the Austrian line into terrible confusion.
No one knew exactly where any of the Prussian battalions had got
to, but all agreed that things were going on well.

At five o'clock the roar gradually ceased, and soon all was quiet.
The wounded now came in fast, but none could say whether the battle
was won or lost; for the night was so dark that each could only
speak of what had happened to his own corps.

Presently the number round the fires was swelled by the arrival of
numerous Austrians, wounded and unwounded. Most of these laid their
rifles by, saying:

"It is a bitter night, comrades. Will you let us have a share of
the fire?"

"Come in, come in," the Prussians answered. "We are all friends for
tonight, for we are all in equally bad plight. Can you tell us how
matters have gone, up there?"

But these knew no more than the Prussians. They had got separated
from their corps in the confusion and, losing their way altogether,
had seen the glow of the fires in the forest, and had come down for
warmth and shelter.

Presently Major Kaulbach rode up again.

"How have things gone, major?" Fergus asked eagerly.

"No one knows," he said. "The Austrians are broken up; and our
battalions and theirs are so mixed that there is no saying where
they are, or how matters will stand in the morning. The king has
gone to Elsnig, two or three miles away."

"Is there no news of Ziethen?"

"None. They have just begun to fire heavily again in that
direction, but what he has been doing all day, no one has any
idea."

But little was said round the fires. A short distance away the
surgeons were still at work with the more serious cases, while the
soldiers roughly bandaged each other's wounds; but as, gradually,
the distant firing increased in fury, and seemed to grow in
distinctness, men who had lain down sat up to listen. There was no
longer any talking, and a hush fell upon the forest.

"It is certainly coming closer, colonel," Karl said at last. "It
seems that Ziethen has woke up in earnest. May the good God grant
that he win his way up on to the heights!"

"If he does, we shall have the Austrians, in the morning. If he
doesn't, we shall have a poor chance with them."

"I am afraid we sha'n't, colonel; but it certainly sounds as if
Ziethen was making way."

At nine o'clock a cavalry officer came riding along. He drew rein
at the fire.

"Can anyone tell me where I can find the king?"

"He is at Elsnig, captain," Karl said, rising and saluting. "May I
ask what is the news, sir?"

"The news is good. Ziethen has gained the heights. We can see the
flash of fire round the Siptitz hill."

A cheer broke from all the Prussians within hearing. There was not
a man but knew that the fate of Prussia hung on the result of this
battle, and for the moment wounds were forgotten. Men shook hands,
with tears of joy streaming down their rugged cheeks; and as others
came running up from the other fires, to know what was the news,
and then hurried off again to tell their companions, the forest
rang with their cheering.

All was not over yet. For a time the firing was louder and heavier
than before, but towards ten o'clock news came that Ziethen was
firmly established on the Siptitz hill, and that the Austrian
battalions were drawing off. Then all lay down to sleep, rejoiced
and thankful; and even the Austrians, disconcerted as they were,
were not altogether sorry that they must now consider themselves
prisoners; and free, for a long time to come, from further risk of
battle.

The news, in the morning, that the Austrian army had already
crossed the river and was in full retreat southwards, afforded the
most intense satisfaction. There was now a hope of shelter and rest
in Torgau, instead of the prospect of remaining in the forest,
drenched to the skin by the rain that had come down, without
intermission, for the last twenty-four hours.

An hour later Major Kaulbach again rode up, accompanied by four
infantry men bearing a stretcher.

"The king has already gone on to Torgau, and he has given me orders
to see that you are carried there, at once. There will be no more
fighting, at present. Daun has got a long start, and there will be
enough to do here, for the next twelve hours, in collecting the
wounded. Lacy has retreated this side of the river, and Ziethen's
cavalry started in pursuit, some hours ago."

Fergus was carefully lifted onto the litter, and carried down to
Torgau; where several large houses had already been assigned for
the use of wounded officers, while the soldiers were to be placed
in the hospitals, public buildings, and churches, Austrians and
Prussians being distributed indiscriminately; and by nightfall some
twelve thousand wounded were housed in the town. A small body of
troops was left there. The inhabitants undertook the charge of the
wounded, and the next morning the king marched away south, with the
army.

Soon after Fergus was brought in, Frederick paid a visit to the
house where he had been carried, and said a few words to each of
the wounded officers.

"So you are down again, Drummond. Fortune is not treating you so
favourably as she used to do."

"It might have been a good deal worse, your majesty. I think that
one who has got off with only the loss of his left arm has no
reason to complain."

"No, it might have been worse," the king replied. "I have lost many
good friends, and thousands of brave soldiers. However, I too must
not complain; for it has saved Prussia.

"Don't hurry to rejoin too soon, Drummond. Another month, and we
shall all be in winter quarters."



Chapter 21: Home.


Fergus remained at Torgau for six weeks. He had, two days after the
battle, sent Karl off to carry a letter to Thirza; telling her that
he had been wounded, but that she need have no uneasiness about
him; the surgeon saying that the wound was going on well, and that,
should it not break out bleeding in the course of another week, he
would make a quick cure, and would be fit for service again, long
before the spring.

Karl had not found his horse again, but had bought, for a trifle,
an Austrian officer's horse that was found riderless; and had
become the prize of a trooper, who was glad to part with it at a
quarter of its value. He took with him the disguise of a
countryman, to put on when he approached the ground held by the
Austrians near Dresden; and, leaving his horse fifteen miles away,
had no difficulty in making his way in on foot. Karl went round to
the back of the house. The servants recognized him as soon as he
entered.

"Will one of you ask the count to see me? Let him have the message
quietly, when he is alone."

"Your master is not killed?" one of the women exclaimed, in
consternation.

"Killed! No, Colonel Drummond is not so easily killed," he replied
scornfully. "I have a letter from him in my pocket. But he has been
somewhat hurt, and it were best that I saw the count first, and
that he should himself give the letter to the Countess Thirza."

In two or three minutes the man returned, and led Karl to a room
where the count was awaiting him, with a look of great anxiety on
his face.

"All is well, your excellency," Karl said, in answer to the look.
"At least, if not altogether well, not so bad as it might be. The
colonel was hit at Torgau. A cannonball took off his left arm at
the elbow. Fortunately, there were surgeons at work a quarter of a
mile away, and he was in their hands within a very few minutes of
being hit; so they made a job of his wound, at once. They had not
taken the bandages off, when I came away; but as there had been no
bleeding, and no great pain or fever, they think it is going on
well. They tell him that he will be fit for service, save for his
half-empty sleeve, in the spring.

"Here is a letter for the Countess Thirza. It is not written by his
own hand, except as to the signature; for the surgeons insist that
he must lie perfectly quiet, for any exertion might cause the wound
to break out afresh. He is quite cheerful, and in good spirits, as
he always is. He bade me give this note into your hands, so that
you might prepare the young countess a little, before giving it to
her."

"'Tis bad news, Karl, but it might have been much worse; and it
will, indeed, be a relief to us all; for since we heard of that
desperate fight at Torgau, and how great was the slaughter on both
sides, we have been anxious, indeed; and must have remained so, for
we should have had little chance of seeing the list of the Prussian
killed and wounded.

"Now, do you go into the kitchen. They all know you there. Make
yourself comfortable. I will give orders that you shall be well
served."

He then proceeded to the room where Thirza and her mother wore
sitting. The former was pale, and had evidently been crying.

"Some news has come," he said. "Not the very best, and yet by no
means the worst. Drummond is wounded--a severe wound, but not, it
is confidently believed, a dangerous one."

Thirza ran to her father and threw her arms round his neck, and
burst into a passion of tears. He did not attempt to cheek them for
some little time.

"Now, my dear," he said at last, "you must be brave, or you won't
be worthy of this lover of yours. There is one bad point about it."

She looked up in his face anxiously, but his smile reassured her.

"You must prepare yourself for his being somewhat disfigured."

"Oh, that is nothing, father; nothing whatever to me! But how is he
disfigured?"

"Well, my dear, he has lost his left arm, at the elbow."

Thirza gave a little cry of grief and pity.

"That is sad, father; but surely it is no disfigurement, any more
than that sabre scar on his face. 'Tis an honour, to a brave
soldier, to have lost a limb in battle. Still, I am glad that it is
his left arm; though, had it been his right and both his legs, it
would have made no difference in my love for him."

"Well, I am very glad, Thirza, that your love has not been tested
so severely; as I confess that, for my part, I would much prefer
having a son-in-law who was able to walk about, and who would not
have to be carried to the altar. Here is a letter to you from
him--that is to say, which has been written at his dictation, for
of course the surgeons insist on his lying perfectly quiet, at
present."

Thirza tore it open, and ran through its contents.

"It is just as you say, father. He makes very light of it, and
writes as if it were a mere nothing."

She handed the letter to her mother, and then turned to the count.

"Is there anything we can do, father?"

"Nothing whatever. With such a wound as that, he will have to lie
perfectly still for some time. You may be sure that, as one of
Frederick's personal staff, he will have every attention possible;
and were we all in the town, we could do nothing. As soon as he is
fit to be moved, it will be different; but we shall have plenty of
time to talk over matters before that.

"For some few months travelling will be dangerous. Frederick's army
is in the neighbourhood again and, as Daun and Lacy are both in
their intrenchments behind the Plauen, there is no chance of his
again besieging Dresden; but his flying columns will be all over
the country, as doubtless will the Croats, and the roads will be
altogether unsafe for travelling. No doubt, as soon as he is able
to be moved, he will be taken to Frederick's headquarters, wherever
they may be established. The king will assuredly have the hospitals
at Torgau cleared, as soon as he can; lest, when he has retired,
the Austrians might make another dash at the town."

The next morning Karl set out again, bearing a letter from the
count; and one from Thirza which was of a much less formal
character than that which he had dictated to her, and which, as he
told her afterwards, greatly assisted his cure. A month after the
battle he was pronounced fit to travel, and with a large train of
wagons filled with convalescents, and under a strong escort, he was
taken to Leipzig; where the king had just established his
headquarters, and to which all the wounded were to be sent, as soon
as they could safely be moved. Here he was established in
comfortable quarters, and Karl again carried a letter to Thirza.

Ten days later Count Eulenfurst entered his room.

"You here, count!" he exclaimed. "How kind of you! What a journey
to make through the snow!"

"I have been dragged hither," the count said, with a smile.

"Dragged hither, count?"

"Yes. Thirza insisted on coming to see you. Her mother declared
that she should accompany her, and of course there was nothing for
me to do but to set out, also."

"Are they here, then, count?" Fergus exclaimed incredulously.

"Certainly they are, and established at the Black Eagle Hotel. I
could not bring them here, to a house full of officers. You are
well enough to walk to the hotel?"

"Yes, indeed. I walked a mile yesterday."

As Karl was helping Fergus into his uniform, he asked:

"How long were you in coming here, count?"

"We did it in a day. I sent on relays of horses, two days before;
and as the carriage is of course on runners, and the snow in good
order, we made quick work of it. Your man went on with the horses,
and rode with us from the last place where we changed. I did most
of the journey sitting by the coachman; which gave them more room
inside, and was more pleasant for me, also."

In a few minutes they reached the hotel, and the count led Fergus
to a door.

"You will find Thirza alone there. We thought that you had best see
her so, at first."

Half an hour later, the count and countess entered the room.

"He looks very pale and thin, mother," Thirza said, after the
countess had affectionately embraced Fergus.

"You would hardly have expected to find him fat and rosy," the
count laughed. "A man does not lose his arm, and go about as if the
matter was not worth thinking of, a few weeks afterwards. He is
certainly looking better than I expected to find him.

"That empty sleeve is a sad disfigurement, though," he added slyly.

"How can you say so, father?" Thirza exclaimed indignantly. "I
think quite the contrary, and I feel quite proud of him with it."

"Well, there is no accounting for taste, Thirza. If you are
satisfied, I have no reason to be otherwise.

"And now, Drummond, we want to hear all about Liegnitz and Torgau;
for we have only heard the Austrian accounts. Dresden illuminated
over Daun's first despatch from Torgau, saying that the Prussian
attacks had been repulsed with tremendous slaughter, and a complete
victory gained. The next morning there came, I believe, another
despatch, but it was not published; and it was not until we heard
that Daun and Lacy were both within a few miles of the town that we
knew that, somehow or other, there had been a mistake about the
matter, a mistake that has not yet been cleared up, at Dresden."

"The defeat part of the business I can tell you from my personal
observation, the victory only from what I heard. Certainly, when I
came to my senses, after the surgeons had seen to my wounds, I had
no thought of anything but a disastrous defeat. Never did the
Prussians fight more bravely, or more hopelessly. They had to mount
a steep ascent, with four hundred cannon playing upon them; and an
army, more than three times their number, waiting at the top to
receive them."

He then proceeded to tell them the whole story of the battle.

"Ziethen seems to have blundered terribly," the count said.

"I believe that that is the king's opinion, too; but Ziethen
himself defends his action stoutly, and maintains that he could
never have succeeded in a direct attack, in broad daylight. Anyhow,
as the matter came out all right in the end, the king was too well
satisfied to do no more than grumble at him.

"The other was a hard-fought battle, too."

"The news of that was a relief to us, indeed," the count said. "It
seemed to everyone that Frederick was so completely caught in the
toils that he could not hope to extricate himself. As you know, in
this war I have, all along, held myself to be a neutral. I
considered that the plot to overthrow Frederick and partition the
kingdom was a scandalous one, and that the king disgraced himself
and us by joining in it; but since that time, my sympathies have
become more and more strongly with Frederick. It is impossible not
to admire the manner in which he has defended himself. Moreover,
the brutality with which the Confederates and Austrians, wherever
their armies penetrated Saxony, treated the Protestants, made one
regard him as the champion of Protestantism.

"He was wrong in forcing the Saxons to take service with him in his
army, after their surrender at Pirna; and the taxes and exactions
have, for the last three years, weighed heavily on Saxony, but I
cannot blame him for that. It was needful that he should have money
to carry on the war, and as Saxony had brought it on herself, I
could not blame him that he bore heavily upon her.

"Then, too, Thirza has, for the last two or three years, become a
perfect enthusiast for the Prussians. Whether it was the king's
gracious manner to herself, or from some other cause, I cannot say;
but she has certainly become an ultra-Prussian.

"And now lunch must be ready, and you look as if you wanted it,
Drummond; and I am sure Thirza does. She was too excited to eat
supper, when we got here last night; and as for her breakfast, it
was altogether untouched."

"No doubt you think, Drummond," Count Eulenfurst said, when he
called the next morning, "that you have done your duty fairly to
Prussia."

"How do you mean, count?" Fergus replied, somewhat puzzled by the
question.

"I mean that you have served five campaigns, you have been twice
made a prisoner, you were wounded at Zorndorf, you nearly died of
fever last winter, now you have lost your arm at Torgau; so I think
that you have fully done your duty to the king under whom you took
service, and could now retire with a thoroughly clear conscience.

"My own idea is that the war has quite spent its strength. France
is practically bankrupt. Austria and Russia must be as tired of the
war as Prussia, and this last defeat of their hopes cannot but
discourage the two empresses greatly. I hear, from my friends in
Vienna, that in the capital and all the large cities they are
becoming absolutely disgusted with the war; and though it may go on
for a while, I believe that its fury is spent.

"At any rate, I think you have earned a right to think of yourself,
as well as others. You certainly have nothing to gain by staying
longer in the service."

"I was thinking the same, last night, count. Certainly one man,
more or less, will make no difference to Frederick; but I thought
that, unless you spoke of it, I should let matters go on as they
are, except that I thought of asking for three months' leave to go
home."

"That you should go home for a few months is an excellent plan,
Drummond; but I think it would be better that, when you were there,
you should be able to stay five or six months, if so inclined. Go
to the king, tell him frankly that you feel that you want rest and
quiet for a time, that you have no longer any occasion in the
pecuniary way for remaining in the army, and that you want to get
married--all good reasons for resigning a commission. You see, we
have now some sort of right to have a voice in the matter. You had
a narrow escape at Torgau, and next time you might not be so
fortunate; and, anxious as we are for Thirza's happiness, we do
think it is high time that you retired from the service."

"That decides it, count. I myself have had quite enough of this
terrible work. Were I a Prussian, I should owe my first duty to the
country, and as long as the war continued should feel myself bound
to set aside all private considerations to defend her to the last;
but it is not so, and my first duty now is assuredly to Thirza, to
you, and to the countess. Therefore I will, this morning, go to the
king and ask him to allow me to resign my commission."

"Do so, Drummond. I thought of saying as much to you, last year;
but the anxiety of those terrible three or four days after Torgau
decided me. If I thought that your honour was concerned in
remaining longer in the army, I should be the last to advise you to
leave it, even for the sake of my daughter's happiness; but as it
is not so, I have no hesitation in urging you to retire."

"'Tis a good time for me to leave, now. My cousin, the Earl
Marischal Keith, returned here three days ago, and I will get him
to go with me to the king."

"I shall say nothing to my wife and Thirza about it, till I see you
again, Drummond. Of course the king cannot refuse, but I should
like him to take it in good part; as indeed, I doubt not that he
will."

"I have no doubt that he will, too, count. You may think it absurd,
and perhaps vain of me; but indeed it is of the king that I am
thinking, rather than of myself. During the past three years he has
been good enough to treat me with singular kindness. He has had
trouble and care which would have broken down most men, and I think
that it has been some relief to him to put aside his cares and
troubles, for an hour or two of an evening, and to talk to a young
fellow like myself on all sorts of matters; just as he does to Sir
John Mitchell, and my cousin, the Earl Marischal."

"I have no doubt of it, Drummond, and I quite understand your
feeling in the matter. Still, we are selfish enough to think of our
feelings, too."

As soon as the count left, Fergus put on his full uniform and went
to the king's quarters. He first saw the Earl Marischal, and told
him his errand.

"You are quite right," the old man said heartily. "You have done
more than enough fighting, and there is no saying how long this war
may drag on. I told you, when I first heard of your engagement to
the young countess, that I was glad indeed that you were not always
to remain a soldier of fortune; and I am sure that the king will
consider that you have more than done your duty, by remaining in
his service for a year, after having so splendid a prospect before
you. Frederick is disengaged at present, and I will go over with
you to him, and will myself open the matter."

Fergus had not seen the king since his arrival at Leipzig.

"I am truly glad to see you on your feet again," the latter said,
as Fergus followed his cousin into the room. "I felt by no means
sure that I should ever see you again, on that day after Torgau;
but you still look very thin and pulled down. You want rest, lad.
We all want rest, but it is not all of us that can get it."

"That is what he has come to speak to you about, your majesty,"
Keith said. "I told you, a year ago, that he was engaged to be
married to the daughter of Count Eulenfurst."

The king nodded.

"I remember her, the bright little lady who received me, when I
went to her father's house."

"The same, sire. He thinks that the warning he had at Torgau was
sufficient; and that, having done his best in your majesty's cause,
he has now earned a right to think of himself and her; and so he
would beg your majesty to allow him to resign his commission, and
to retire from the service."

"He has certainly well earned the right," the king said gravely.
"He has done me right good and loyal service, even putting aside
that business at Zorndorf; and not the least of those services has
been that he has often cheered me, by his talk, when I sorely
needed cheering. That empty sleeve of his, that scar won at
Zorndorf, are all proofs how well he has done his duty; and his
request, now that fortune has smiled upon him in other ways, is a
fair and reasonable one.

"I hope, Colonel Drummond," he went on in a lighter tone, "that as
you will be settled in Saxony--and this war cannot go on for
ever--I shall someday see you and your bride at Berlin. None will
be more welcome."

"He is going home to Scotland for a few months, in the first
place," Keith said. "It is only right that he should visit his
mother and people there, before he settles here. He will, like
enough, be back again before the campaign opens in the spring."

Fergus, whose heart was very full, said a few words of thanks to
the king for the kindness that he had always shown him, and for
what he had now said; and assured him that he should not only come
to Berlin, as soon as peace was made; but that, as long as the war
lasted, he would pay his respects to him every year, when he was in
winter quarters. He then withdrew, and made his way to the hotel.

"It is done," he said to the count as he entered. "I have resigned
my commission, and the king has accepted it. He was most kind. I am
glad that I have done it, and yet it was a very hard thing to do."

Thirza uttered an exclamation of joy.

"I am glad, indeed, Fergus, that you are not going to that terrible
war again."

"I can understand your feelings, Drummond," the count said, putting
his hand upon his shoulder. "I know that it must have been a wrench
to you, but that will pass off in a short time. You have done your
duty nobly, and have fairly earned a rest.

"Now, let us talk of other things. When do you think of starting
for Scotland?"

"To that I must reply," Fergus said with a smile, "'How long are
you thinking of stopping here?' Assuredly I shall not want to be
going, as long as you are here. And in any case, I should like my
mother to have a week's notice before I come home; and I think
that, in another fortnight, my wound will be completely healed."

"I was thinking," the count said, "that you will want to take a
nurse with you."

"Do you mean, count," Fergus exclaimed eagerly, "that Thirza could
go with me? That would be happiness, indeed."

"I don't quite see why she should not, Drummond. There are churches
here, and clergymen.

"What do you say, Thirza?"

"Oh, father," the girl said, with a greatly heightened colour, "I
could never be ready so soon as that!

"Could I, mother?"

"I don't know, my dear. Your father was talking to me an hour ago
about it, and that was what I said; but he answered that, although
you might not be able to get a great many clothes made, there will
be plenty of time to get your things from home; and that, in some
respects, it would be much more convenient for you to be married
here than at Dresden. Your marriage, with one who had so lately
left the service of Prussia, would hardly be a popular one with the
Austrians in Dresden. So that, altogether, the plan would be
convenient. We can set the milliners to work at once and, in
another fortnight, get your bridal dress ready, and such things as
are absolutely necessary.

"Of course, if you would rather remain single for another three or
four months, your father and I would not wish to press you unduly."

"It is not that, mother," she said shyly; "but it does seem so very
quick."

"If a thing is good, the sooner it is done the better," the count
said; and Thirza offered no further objection.

The next day an order appeared, that Colonel Fergus Drummond had
been advanced another step in the order of the Black Eagle,
following which came:

"Colonel Fergus Drummond, having lost an arm at the battle of
Torgau, has resigned his commission; which has been accepted with
great regret by the king, the services of Colonel Drummond having
been, in the highest degree, meritorious and distinguished."

The king, having heard from the Earl Marischal that Fergus was to
be married at Leipzig before leaving for Scotland, took great
interest in the matter; and when the time came, was himself present
in the cathedral, together with a brilliant gathering of generals
and other officers of the army in the vicinity, and of many Saxon
families of distinction who were acquainted with Count Eulenfurst.
Fergus had obtained Karl's discharge from the army--the latter, who
had long since served his full time, having begged most earnestly
to remain in his service.

On the following day Fergus started with his wife for Scotland,
drove to Magdeburg and, four days later, reached Hamburg; where
they embarked on board a ship for Edinburgh, Karl of course
accompanying them.

It was a day to be long remembered, in the glen, when Colonel
Drummond and his Saxon wife came to take possession of his father's
estates; where his mother had now been established for upwards of a
year, in the old mansion. It was late when they arrived. A body of
mounted men with torches met them, at the boundary of the estate;
and accompanied them to the house, where all the tenants and
clansmen were assembled. Great bonfires blazed, and scores of
torches added to the picturesque effect. A party of pipers struck
up an air of welcome as they drove forward, and a roar of cheering,
and shouts of welcome greeted them.

"Welcome to your Scottish home!" Fergus said to his wife. "'Tis a
poor place, in comparison with your father's, but nowhere in the
world will you find truer hearts and a warmer greeting than here."

His mother was standing on the steps as he leapt out, and she
embraced him with tears of joy; while after him she gave a warm and
affectionate greeting to Thirza. Then Fergus turned to the
clansmen, who stood thronging round the entrance, with waving
torches and bonnets thrown wildly in the air; and said a few words
of thanks for their welcome, and of the pleasure and pride he felt
in coming again among them, as the head of the clan and master of
his father's estates.

Then he presented Thirza to them as their mistress.

"She has brought me another home, across the sea," he said, "but
she will soon come to love this, as well as her own; and though I
shall be absent part of the time, she will come with me every
summer to stay among you, and will regard you as her people, as
well as mine."

Among the dependents ranged in the hall was Wulf, with whom Fergus
shook hands warmly.

"I should never have got on as well as I have, Wulf," he said, "had
it not been for your teaching, both in German and in arms. I
commend to your special care my servant Karl, who speaks no
English, and will feel strange here at first. He has been my
companion all this time, has given me most faithful service, and
has saved my life more than once. He has now left the army to
follow me."

Fergus remained three months at home. Thirza was delighted with the
country, and the affection shown by the people to Fergus; and
studied diligently to learn the language, that she might be able to
communicate personally with them, and above all with Mrs. Drummond,
to whom she speedily became much attached.

At the end of April they returned to Saxony, and took up their
abode on the estate the count had settled on them, at their
marriage.

For two years longer the war continued, but with much diminished
fury, and there was no great battle fought. The king planted
himself in a camp, which he rendered impregnable, and there
menacing the routes by which the Saxon and Russian armies brought
their supplies from Bohemia, paralysed their movements; while
General Platen made a raid into Poland, and destroyed a great
portion of the Russian magazines in that direction, so that the
campaign came to naught. Ferdinand, with the aid of his English,
defeated Broglio and Soubise at Villingshausen; Soubise remaining
inactive during the battle, as Broglio had done at Minden.

At the beginning of 1762 a happy event for the king took place. The
Empress of Russia died; and Peter, a great admirer of Frederick,
came to the throne. The Prussian king at once released all the
Russian prisoners, and sent them back; and Peter returned the
compliment by sending home the Prussian prisoners and, six weeks
after his accession, issued a declaration that there ought to be
peace with the King of Prussia, and that the czar was resolved that
the war should be ended. He at once gave up East Prussia and other
conquests, and recalled the Russian army. He not only did this, but
he ordered his General Czernichef to march and join the king.

The news caused absolute dismay in Austria, and hastened the Swedes
to conclude a peace with Frederick. They had throughout the war
done little, but the peace set free the force that had been
watching them; and which had regularly, every year, driven them
back as fast as they endeavoured to invade Prussia on that side.

In July, however, the murder of Peter threw all into confusion
again; but Catherine had no desire to renew the war, and it was
evident that this was approaching its end. She therefore recalled
her army, which had already joined that of the king. England and
France, too, were negotiating terms of peace; and it was clear that
Austria, single handed, could not hope to win back Silesia.

The king gained several small but important successes, and
recaptured the important fortress of Schweidnitz. Then came long
negotiations and, on the following February, a general peace was
signed by all the Powers; Prussia retaining her frontiers, as at
the beginning of the war.

From this time Fergus Drummond's life passed uneventfully. Every
year he went to his old home with his wife, and as time went on
brought his children to Scotland; and every winter he spent a
fortnight at Berlin. When his second son reached the age of twelve,
he sent him to school in England, and there prepared him to succeed
to the Scottish estate. This he did not do for many years, entering
the British army and winning the rank of colonel in the Peninsular
war; and it was not until some years after the battle of Waterloo
that, at the death of his father, he retired and settled down on
the Scottish estates that were now his.

The rest of Colonel Drummond's family took their mother's
nationality.

Fergus did not come in for the whole of the Eulenfurst estates,
until thirty years after his marriage. He then took up his abode,
with his wife, at the mansion where they had first met, near
Dresden; and retaining a sufficient share of the estates to support
his position, divided the remainder among his children, considering
that the property was too large to be owned with advantage by any
one person. His descendants are still large landowners in various
parts of Saxony.

The king survived the signature of the peace for twenty-five years,
during which he devoted himself to repairing the damage his country
had suffered by the war; and by incessant care, and wise reforms,
he succeeded in rendering Prussia far wealthier and more prosperous
than it had been when he succeeded to the throne. Lindsay rose to
the rank of general in the Prussian service, and his friendship
with Fergus remained close and unbroken. The old Earl Marischal
survived his younger brother for twenty years; and was, to the
last, one of the king's dearest and most intimate friends.





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "With Frederick the Great - A Story of the Seven Years' War" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



Home