Infomotions, Inc.Won By the Sword : a tale of the Thirty Years' War / Henty, G. A. (George Alfred), 1832-1902



Author: Henty, G. A. (George Alfred), 1832-1902
Title: Won By the Sword : a tale of the Thirty Years' War
Publisher: Project Gutenberg
Tag(s): turenne; hector; paolo; regiment; colonel; france; army
Contributor(s): Wieland, Christoph Martin, 1733-1813 [Translator]
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Rights: GNU General Public License
Size: 131,272 words (average) Grade range: 10-13 (high school) Readability score: 62 (easy)
Identifier: etext4931
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Title: Won by the Sword

Author: G.A. Henty

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Won by the Sword
A Story of the Thirty Years' War

G.A. Henty



PREFACE.


MY DEAR LADS,

In my preface to the Lion of the North I expressed a hope that
I might some day be able to continue the  history of the Thirty
Years' War. The deaths of Gustavus and his great rival Wallenstein
and the crushing  defeat of the Swedes and their allies at the
battle of Nordlingen brought the first period of that war to a
close. Hostilities, indeed, never ceased, but the Swedes no longer
played the leading part on the Protestant  side that they had
hitherto occupied. Oxenstiern, the great chancellor of Sweden,
saw that the only hope of  eventual success lay in engaging France
in the struggle, and he and the Duke of Weimar went to Paris and
pointed out to Richelieu that unless France intervened, Austria
must become the master of all Germany,  and as the ally of Spain
would have it in her power to completely dominate France. Richelieu
perceived the  opportunity, made a treaty with the Swedes and Weimar,
and engaged to grant large subsidies to the  former, and to send
an army to cooperate with the latter.  Then began the second period
of this long and  terrible struggle, France now taking the place
that Sweden had hitherto occupied, and bearing the brunt of  the
conflict. She emerged triumphant with her territories largely
increased, while Austria was crushed and  humiliated, and Spain
was dethroned from her position as the dominating power of Europe.
The success of  France was greatly due to the fact that her armies
were led by two of the greatest military geniuses of all  times,
viz., Conde and Turenne, men of very different types, but equally
great as commanders, and equally  at the time of which we are speaking
devoted to the cause of France. Both were men of extraordinary
personal courage, and although one was as prudent and careful of
the lives of his troops as the other was  impetuous and careless
at what cost he won his victories, they worked together with a
harmony that could  have hardly been expected among men so differently
constituted. Although, in the subsequent wars of the  Fronde they
took different sides, their friendship, except during a short
period of alienation, was never  shaken, and their admiration for
each other's genius never abated.

Yours sincerely,

G.A. HENTY



CHAPTER I:  A STROKE OF GOOD FORTUNE


A mounted officer, followed by two orderlies, was proceeding at a
brisk trot from Paris to St. Denis, in  October, 1639, when he came
upon a large party of boys, who, armed with sticks, were advancing
in  something like military order against a wall on the top of a
low hill.

"What are you doing?" he asked the lad who appeared to be the
leader.

"We are playing at war, sir. We are advancing against the fortress
of La Motte. This is the regiment of  Turenne."

"And who are you at other times?" the officer asked with a smile.

"My name is Hector Campbell, sir."

"Then you are not French?"

"No, sir; my father was an officer in the Scotch regiment.  He was
killed at the siege of La Rochelle."

"And who is taking care of you?"

"I live with Angus MacIntosh. He was a sergeant in my father's
company. He was badly wounded at La  Rochelle, and not being fit for
further service, he took a cabaret near the barracks. The officers
are very  kind. They allow him a sum for taking care of me. Of
course I am often in barracks, and have learned the  drill, and
I have heard and read about battles and sieges, so I am chosen to
command."

"And so you know something of the battles in which Turenne was
engaged?"

"I think I know about them all, sir, both in Holland and on the
Rhine, and have seen plans of the battles. Of  course this is not
at all like La Motte, which was on the top of a high rock, so that
when Turenne was  ordered to attack with his regiment after the
general's son had failed, he had to pass not only through a  heavy
fire, but through the huge stones that the enemy hurled down. It
was grand; and he did well at all the  other sieges. Then, again,
there was Saverne. See how he fought there, and stormed the place
when even  the Swedes, who are good soldiers, had failed. I think
he is going to be the greatest of our captains."

"Turenne is only a learner in the art of war," the other said
gravely.

"I think he has learnt more than any of the rest," the boy said
boldly; "and all the soldiers love him more  than any of the other
generals, for he takes such care of them, and does not treat them
as if they were dirt  under his feet, only meant to obey orders,
and go and get killed when told."

"You have heard him very much over praised," the officer said
quietly. "I think that he does his best; but he  is a young man
yet, not older than I am. His advance has been due to fortune rather
than to his own merits."

"I don't think so," the boy said sturdily. "Do you think that he
would be a lieutenant general at twenty-eight,  and that all the
soldiers would speak of him as they do, if it were only fortune?
Look how he captured  Landrecies and Solre, and drove the Austrians
back from Maubeurge, and aided the Duke of Weimar to  thrash
them at Weilenweir, and stormed the main fort of Breisach! He has
been successful in all his  enterprises, and now it is said he is
to command in Italy, where things have been going on badly. The
cardinal would not have chosen him had he not considered that no
one could do better than he."

The officer laughed.  "Well, young sir, I see that you are so well
acquainted with the sieges and battles of  our time that I cannot
argue with you."

"I did not mean that, sir," the boy said in some confusion. "I was
only saying what our soldiers think, and it  is natural that I,
being only a boy, should make him my hero, for he went to the wars
when he was a year  younger than I am, and at fourteen carried a
musket as a volunteer under Maurice of Nassau, and for five  years
he was in all the battles in Holland, and raised the first battery
that opened on Bois-le-duc."

"And do you receive no pension as the son of an officer killed in
battle?"

"No, sir. When the living soldiers often have to go months without
their pay, the sons of dead ones can  hardly expect to be thought
of. But I don't care; in two years I shall be old enough to enlist,
and I shall go to  the frontier and join Hepburn's Scottish brigade,
who are now, they say, in the French service."

"They are fine soldiers -- none better," the officer said.  "But
why does not the colonel of your father's  regiment ask for a
commission for you?"

"The regiment is not in favour with the cardinal," the boy replied
with a smile. "They are too Protestant for  his eminence, and the
colonel is not a man to ask favours if he is likely to be refused."

"Well," the officer said, "it is clear to me that you are a lad of
spirit, and that you have done your best to  prepare yourself for
your profession as a soldier by studying military history, and I
think it hard that, as the  son of an officer who died in battle
for France, France should have done nothing for you. I have some
little  influence myself. What is the name of this cabaret that
Sergeant MacIntosh keeps?"

"The Scottish Soldier, sir. It is near the gate of the barracks of
St. Denis."

"Do not go out tomorrow afternoon. I will have a talk with him,
and maybe I can be of some assistance to  you."

So saying, he touched his horse's flank with his heel and rode on,
while the boys continued their play. The  next afternoon the lad
remained at home, to the surprise of the sergeant.

"What keeps you in today, Hector? It is rare indeed that you are
indoors in the afternoon."

"An officer came along while we were playing," the lad said, "and
asked me some questions. I told him  who I was.  He said that he
had some influence, and might be able to assist me."

"What sort of assistance?" the sergeant grumbled. "He must have
influence indeed if he can get you a  pension."

"I don't think it was that," the boy said. "I said that I should
like to enlist as a volunteer."

The sergeant laughed.  "Well, they do take volunteers as young as
you are, Hector, but they must be cadets  of a noble family. You
will have to wait another couple of years before they will enlist
you, much less take  you as a volunteer."

There were a good many Scottish soldiers sitting in the room, when
an officer rode up to the door and  dismounted.

"It is a general officer," one of the men said, looking out of the
window, and as the door opened and the  officer entered, all stood
up and saluted.

"Sit down, men," he said. "I am not here to disturb you, but to
have a talk with Sergeant MacIntosh. Have  you a room, sergeant,
where we can speak privately?"

"Yes, general," the sergeant said, saluting again, and led the way
into a little room generally devoted to the  use of noncommissioned
officers. The officer caught Hector's eye, and beckoned to him to
follow.

"Do you know me, sergeant?"

"Yes, general, you are Viscount Turenne."

Hector gave an involuntary exclamation of horror at the thought of
the freedom with which he had the day  before discoursed with this
famous commander. Military officers at that time did not wear any
set  uniforms, and indeed there was very considerable latitude
among the soldiers, and it was only because he  was followed by two
attendants that the boy had taken him to be an officer, probably
a young captain.  The  quietness of his dress had not even led him
to believe that he belonged to a noble family.

"This lad tells me that he is the son of Captain Campbell of the
Scottish regiment?"

"That is so, general."

"And also that you were a sergeant in his father's company, and
have since taken care of him."

"I have done the best I could for him, general; but indeed the
officers of the regiment allow me quite as  much as the lad's food
costs."

"He seems to be a careful student of military history, sergeant?"

"That he is, sir. I don't think there has been a battle, or even a
skirmish, in the past ten years which he  cannot tell you the ins
and outs of. He will sit here for hours as quiet as a mouse when
some soldiers from  the wars come in, and sometimes he gets books
lent him with the plans of battles and sieges, and when he is  not
doing that he is in the barrack yard watching the men drill. I
believe he knows all the words of  command as well as any captain
in the Scottish regiment.  As to handling his musket, I have taught
him that  myself, and the use of a sword, too, since he was ten
years old, and the men of his father's company have  taken pleasure
in teaching the lad all they knew in that way."

"He reminds me of my own boyhood," the general said.  "I like his
looks, and it seems to me that he has the  making of a good officer.
All the officers of the regiment are men of good Scottish families,
and as such  can serve in any capacity.  I have often need of
a young officer who can carry my messages on a field of  battle,
and can be trusted to understand their import and deliver them
faithfully. Now, Campbell," he said,  turning to the lad, who
was standing with flushed face and eyes beaming with delight and
gratitude, "I will  give you the choice. I will either appoint you
a volunteer for a year, in which time, if your conduct is  satisfactory,
I will name you lieutenant, or I will take you directly into my
own household. My object in  either case would be to produce an
officer likely to be useful to his Majesty.

"I should certainly not have adopted that course had it not been
that you appear already to have learned the  duties of a soldier,
and to be acquainted with the ordinary drill and with the necessities
of a soldier's life. If  you enter my household you will find it
no child's play, certainly no life of ease and comfort. I do not
spare  myself, nor do I spare the officers immediately under me.
In a regiment you would learn better, perhaps,  the duties of a
regimental officer, but with me you will have more opportunities of
learning the art of war,  and of some day becoming a distinguished
officer, always supposing that you are not shot down in battle or
die of fatigue and hardship. Which do you choose?"

"Oh, sir, how can I thank you for your goodness? There is nothing
in the world that I should like so much  as to be in your service."

"So be it," the general said. "I shall obtain an appointment for
you as lieutenant attached to my household.   At first, you will
simply have to carry messages for me; but when I have learnt more
of your character I  shall employ you as one that I can trust.

"Sergeant, here is a purse, use the contents in furnishing the lad
with clothes suitable for his position, and  let him call on me in
three days at the hotel of the Duc de Bouillon, where I am staying.

"Can you ride?" he asked suddenly.

"Yes, sir."

"I will see to the matter of a horse for you. I shall be leaving at
the end of a week to join the army in Italy.  And remember always,
lad," he added with a smile, "that I am still but a learner in the
art of war."

So saying he nodded kindly to him and the sergeant, went out,
returned the salute of the soldiers, mounted  his horse, which his
orderly was holding for him, and rode off.

"Well, well," said the sergeant, who with Hector had followed
him out, "the like of this I never saw before:  to think that the
Viscount of Turenne should visit the cabaret of a soldier, and
should have deigned to offer  you a position in his household!
I can scarce believe that I am not dreaming.  How did it all come
about,  and how have you thus gained his favour?"

"I am ashamed to say, sergeant, that I gained it by my presumption;
now that I know who he was, I may say  by my insolence. A party
of us were having a mimic battle. We were acting as the regiment
of Turenne at  the storming of La Motte. I was in command, and so
acting as Turenne, when a gentleman, who, by his  appearance and
age, and by the fact that two troopers rode behind him, I took to
be a captain in the army,  came up and questioned me as to what
we were doing. I told him, then he talked about Turenne. I said I
thought he was our greatest general. He, that Turenne was only a
learner in the art of war. I upheld him, and  spoke of the battles
and sieges in which he had taken part. Then he asked me about myself,
and I told him  my birth and bringing up, and he said he might be
of assistance to me, and would call here and see you."

"Well, well, it almost passes belief, Hector, that a boy like you
should have dared to enter into an argument  with an officer, even
if only, as you believed, a captain. And to think that this has
come of it, instead of his  having laid his whip across your back,
as you deserved. Your fortune is made, lad, that is, if you behave
yourself. Turenne is a great soldier; and more than that, from what
I have heard he is loved by his men  more than any other general,
and they will do anything for him. His regiment here, though he was
but  nineteen when he obtained his command, was admitted to be one
of the best drilled and the best disciplined  of any in the service.

"He saw to everything himself, spent his whole time in drilling
them as if he had been only a lieutenant  with nothing but his
sword for his fortune, instead of a great noble. When he was with
de la Valette and  Weimar, and the army had to fall back and were
well nigh starved, Turenne sold his plate and his carriages  to buy
food for the men. He had his own baggage thrown out of the wagons
to make room for those who  were too weak to march; and on one
occasion gave up his own horse to a soldier who was sinking from
fatigue and hunger, and himself marched on foot. He always leads
his troops in battle, and wherever he  goes they will follow. He
was right in saying that he does not spare himself. The soldiers
believe that he  does without any sleep when on a campaign, for he
is for ever going round seeing that everything is in  order, that
the outposts are properly placed and vigilant, and that the soldiers
have food, and such comfort  as can be obtained. Now let us go in
and tell my comrades of your good fortune. There is not a man in
the  regiment who will not be glad to hear of it. I will go across
with you myself to the colonel's lodging."

"But please, sergeant, do not say a word about my folly; only say
that the general, coming across a party of  us playing at war,
questioned me, and finding that I was the son of a Scottish officer
who had been killed at  La Rochelle, and that I had worked hard
at getting up the history of the wars, and longed much to go into
the army, had promised to come round the next day, and said that
he might be able to aid me."

"I understand, lad. Yes, it is better that your foolishness should
not be known."

The colonel was greatly pleased when he heard of what had happened.

"I had intended myself to have asked for a commission for you when
you were a couple of years older," he  said to Hector, "but I was
by no means sure of getting it, for the cardinal is not partial to
the regiment.  Turenne, however, stands high in his favour -- in
spite of the fact that his brother, the Duc de Bouillon, has  left
Richelieu's party, and is regarded by him as an enemy -- so we may
be sure that your commission will  be at once signed. You must sup
with me and the officers of the regiment tonight. There is not one
who will  not rejoice that your father's son has met with such good
fortune, for assuredly you could not have entered  the army under
better auspices.

"It is just like Turenne to have thus come forward to assist the
son of a brave soldier killed in action. As a  rule, I am sorry
to say that the officers of our army concern themselves but little
with the affairs of the  soldiers under their command.  Of course
in our regiment it is different, as we have many gentlemen of
well known Scottish families serving in the ranks, and most of the
others are our own clansmen, or come  from our dales. We all cling
together as countrymen among strangers, though indeed we can hardly
regard  them as strangers, seeing that Scotland and France have
ever been allies, and that our Queen Mary was a  French princess.
And now that Scotland has given kings to England, and English
troops fought side by side  with the French under Henry of Navarre
against the Spaniards and Guises, and, although not in strict
alliance, are alike enemies of the Spaniards, we can scarce feel
ourselves as strangers here. Besides, is not a  French princess
wife of King Charles?

"I do not say that either England or France has altogether forgotten
the long wars between them, but that is  a very old story now, and
as long as Spain threatens to extend her power over all Europe, so
long are we  likely to remain good friends. If the power of Spain
is once broken, old quarrels may break out again, but I  trust that
that will not be in my time, for assuredly the regiment, although
willing to fight against all other  enemies of France, would refuse
to march against our countrymen. Now, Sergeant MacIntosh, I know
that  you must be anxious to get back to your inn.  You will have
a busy time this afternoon unless I am greatly  mistaken. Leave
Campbell with me.

"In the first place, it will be as well that he should not be down
there, for the fun is likely to get fast and  furious.  There is
not a man in the regiment who knew his father but will be drinking
the lad's health, and it  were better that he should go tomorrow
through the barracks and shake their hands, than that he should
be  among them there. You can tell them that I have taken the boy
off, so that they may not think that he stayed  away on his own
account. We will see him fitted out. It is a matter that touches
the honour of the regiment  that the son of our old comrade should
make a fair show in the household of the viscount."

"The general has left me a purse for that purpose, colonel."

"It was a kindly thought, but let the lad start with it in his
pocket. It is our duty to see that he has everything  befitting
his father's son."

As soon as the sergeant left, the colonel said, "Now, Campbell, do
you go into the anteroom. I shall be  ready to go out with you in
half an hour."

Orderlies were then despatched to the various officers' lodgings,
and in a few minutes they assembled. The  colonel told them what had
happened, and said that in his opinion it concerned the honour of
the regiment  to see that their comrade's son was properly equipped.

All those who had known Captain Campbell were greatly pleased with
the news, and there was not a  dissenting voice when the colonel
proposed that there should be a general subscription of two days'
pay. He  himself, however, and Captain Campbell's friends, gave
a much larger amount, and the total was amply  sufficient for the
equipment of a young man of good family joining the army. Hector was
then called in and  informed of what had taken place, and heartily
congratulated by the officers. He was greatly affected by  their
kindness and the proof of the estimation in which his father had
been held.

"We had always intended to do this," the colonel said, "when the
time came for your entering the army, for  we felt that it would
indeed be a discredit to the regiment were you to go into the
world without the  equipment that a Scottish gentleman should have.
Now, Captain Mackenzie and Captain Home, I will ask  you to act as
furnishers. You know what is required for a young officer on the
staff of a general like  Viscount Turenne, who would be called upon
to accompany him to court, and must do him no discredit;  besides
which, he must of course have clothes for a campaign.  He will not
need arms, for I have kept for  him his father's sword and pistols.
See that the tailors undertake to get his clothes ready quickly,
for he is to  accompany Turenne to Italy in four or five days. One
suit at least must be finished in two days, for on the  third he
is to wait upon Turenne, who is staying at the hotel of the Duc de
Bouillon, and he may possibly be  presented to the cardinal."

The dress of a French gentleman in the reign of Louis XIII differed
but slightly from that worn at the same  time by the cavaliers of
Charles I. It consisted of a loose cloak of cloth, silk, satin, or
velvet, according to  the occasion and the wealth of the wearer. It
generally hung loosely on the shoulders, but two or three of  the
top buttons were sometimes fastened; the sleeves were loose and
open from the elbow.  Sometimes the  cloak was richly embroidered.
Over it fell a collar of rich lace, with Vandyke border. Beneath
it was worn a  short tightly fitted doublet embroidered in front,
with puffed sleeves, and with a belt or sash round the  waist.
The breeches were very full, reaching to the knee. For walking or
riding, loose high boots turned  down at the top and trimmed with
lace or frillings joined the breeches; while in court dress, silk
stockings  and shoes with rosettes were worn.  The swords hung from
a richly embroidered baldrick going over the  right shoulder.

Officers of the different regiments were distinguished by the
colour of their sashes, which was the only  point of regimental
uniformity. When on a campaign doublets were usually worn of thick
buff leather;  armour was still used, but was far less cumbrous
than it had been, consisting for the most part solely of  shoulder
pieces and cuirass, with plates covering the upper part of the arm,
thick buff leather gauntlets  being considered sufficient protection
below the elbow. Four suits were ordered for Hector: one for court,
another for general use when in Paris or other large towns, the
third for travelling and when in attendance  with the general, the
fourth for actual service in the field.

Almost as expensive as the suits were the shirts, with their deep
lace collars and ruffle; while for service in  the field half
a dozen plain shirts were purchased. The headdress on ordinary
occasions was a broad beaver  hat with plumes, and in the field
a close fitting helmet with cheek pieces. Visors had been almost
entirely  given up.  On the third day Hector presented himself at
the appointed hour at the hotel of the Duc de  Bouillon. He was
dressed in the second best of his costumes, and wore for the first
time his father's sword.  In the hall were numbers of soldiers and
lackeys. One of the latter came up to him.

"I am here to see the Viscount Turenne by appointment," he said.

The lackey led the way to a large chamber, where several officers and
gentlemen were waiting. Here  Hector gave his name to a chamberlain,
who took it into another apartment.  He waited for half an hour,
and observed that while the officers, one by one, were taken into
the room where the lackey had carried his  name, the nobles and
gentlemen, who were much more numerous, were shown into another,
which was  evidently the principal reception room. He guessed
at once that it was here that the Duc de Bouillon was  receiving
visitors, while his brother was engaged in giving interviews
to officers, who perhaps desired  appointments in his army, or
in arranging details of stores, arms, and ammunition required for
its use. At  last his turn came; and on his name being called,
he followed the usher into a small apartment, where  Turenne was
sitting at a table covered with letters.  The general looked at
him critically.

"You make a very good figure," he said, "and better, I can tell
you, than I did at your age, for I was but  weakly, while you are
well grown and strong. Among your other exercises you have not
neglected the use  of your sword. I could tell that as soon as my
eyes fell upon you."

"No, general, I have practised for two or three hours a day since
I was ten years old, and I think that almost  every soldier in the
regiment has been my instructor in turn, and the maitre-d'armes of
the regiment himself  gave me lessons twice a week."

"I have managed your business for you," the viscount said. "I saw
the cardinal yesterday and asked for a  commission for you. He simply
asked for what regiment, and I said that at present I intended to
keep you  about my own person, as I thought you would make a good
officer and would some day do me credit. He  was busy at the time,
so he simply signed an appointment as a lieutenant and gave it
to me to fill in your  name. I asked if I should bring you to his
levee tomorrow, but he said, 'There is no occasion, viscount, we
have both plenty on our hands; neither you nor I can waste time on
young lieutenants. You can present him  to me when you return from
the war.' You know the cardinal by sight, I suppose?"

"Yes, general, I have seen him many times."

"He is a great man," Turenne said thoughtfully, rather as if
speaking to himself than to Hector; "the greatest  that France has
ever known -- he is the soul of France. It is well, indeed, that
we have at present a king who  recognizes how great a man he is,
and is wise enough to know that although he himself is somewhat
overshadowed, France is made greater and stronger and his own reign
more glorious by his genius." Then  he broke off with a smile. "I
was talking to myself rather than to you. I shall ride to St. Denis
at two o'clock  today; be here at that time. I will order the horse,
that I have purchased for you, to be brought round here."

Hector was about to express his gratitude, but the general at once
stopped him. "I need no thanks," he said.   "I perceived in the
ardour with which you have studied military matters that you would
make a good  officer, and you remind me of my own boyhood. I always
like to help forward officers who I see ready, not  only to do their
actual business but to go beyond it, in order to acquire knowledge,
and I doubt not that I  shall find this in you. But you must remember,
lad, that you are now no longer a civilian, but a soldier, that
you must be not only obedient but respectful to those above you in
rank, that discretion as well as courage  is necessary for success,
that you must be thoughtful for the comfort of the soldiers, ready
to expose your  life in battle to encourage them, and also to
set them an example of endurance, cheerfulness, and good  spirits
in times of hardship and distress. Remember that, to the soldier,
there is no such thing as party; he  fights for France and for
France only, and should hold himself aloof from even the smallest
expression of  opinion on political matters. Then, at two o'clock."

Hector bowed deeply and left the room. When he returned to the hotel
at two o'clock, six grooms were  standing with the horses before
the entrance; he waited outside until the viscount, followed by
four officers,  came out.

"Oh, here you are, lieutenant!" he said, as his eye fell on Hector;
"I was afraid that punctuality was not  among your virtues. Gentlemen,
this is Lieutenant Hector Campbell, son of a brave officer of the
Scottish  regiment who fell at La Rochelle; he is, for the present,
attached to my household, and will ride with us for  Italy the day
after tomorrow.  Campbell, this gentleman is Colonel d'Estampes,
who is the head of my staff;  this Major Mutton, who will have
the control of all matters connected with the artillery; these are
Messieurs  de Lisle and Emile de Chavigny, who are my aides-de-camp.
Now, gentlemen, let us mount."

As the Scottish regiment was a mounted one, Hector had had ample
opportunities to learn to ride well, and  he now fell in with the
two aides-de-camp, who were both young men of eighteen or nineteen
years of age,  members of good families, and together they followed
the Viscount Turenne, who rode on ahead with the  two staff officers.
While they were making their way through the narrow streets of
Paris they rode but  slowly, but as soon as they passed through
the gates they went on at a brisk pace.

"You are fortunate," de Lisle said, "in having obtained a commission
so young, although I do not say that  there are not many of similar
age in the army."

"I am fortunate indeed," Hector replied, "fortunate beyond anything
that I could have believed possible,  thanks to the goodness of
Viscount Turenne."

"You could not enter the army under better patronage," de Chavigny
said. "We have both served under him  for two years on the Rhine,
and had we been his brothers he could not have been more kind; but
the work,  ma foi, was tremendous. The soldiers may well say that
the general is sleepless. Happily he does not expect  us to go
altogether without rest. Frequently he is away all night by himself
in the saddle, sometimes he  takes one or other of us with him,
but at any rate we get a night's sleep by turns. Much as he has to
worry  him -- what with the ignorance of some and the carelessness of
others -- I have never seen him out of  temper; but then a reproof,
however mildly spoken, by him, is more dreaded than a volley of
abuse from  any other general. He was telling us before he came
out that you are already well up in drill, and in the use  of arms."

"Yes; I have been brought up, I may say, in the Scottish regiment,
and after my father's death the officers  and men were all very kind
to me, and I learnt my drill both as a soldier and an officer, to
fence, use my  pistols, and ride.  The officers lent me books on
military history and tactics."

"The viscount said you were wonderfully well read in such matters,"
de Lisle said. "I own that beyond the  campaigns that I have taken
part in I have a very vague idea of such things. My time before
I joined was  taken up with learning the use of arms, equitation,
and certain dry studies under an abbe. I wish now that  instead
of Latin I had learned something of military history; it seems to
me that when one is intended for  the army it is a good deal more
important than Latin or theology."

"I fancy, de Lisle," his companion said laughing, "that from what
I know of you your objection was not so  much to the course of
study as to study altogether. I know that that was my case."

"Well, perhaps so; still, I might as well have been whipped into
learning something useful, instead of  something that, so far as
I can see, will never be of any value whatever. Were you born over
here,  lieutenant?"

"No, I was born in Scotland; but my father, who was a younger son, saw
no chance of making his way by  his sword at home. It was certain
that James would never go to war, and as there was no regular
army, there  seemed no opening for a penniless cadet in England or
Scotland, so he came over here and obtained a  commission, and as
soon as he did so sent for my mother and myself. She died two years
later; he kept me  with him. When he went on service I was left in
the charge of a Huguenot family, and it was well that it  was so,
for otherwise I might have grown up unable to read or write. The
last time that I saw him was  before he rode to La Rochelle. After
his death I was adopted by the regiment, for the good people I was
with left Paris to join their friends in the south. Had it been
otherwise I should have stayed with them. The  good man would
probably have brought me up to be, like himself, a minister, and
I am afraid I should have  made a very poor one."

The two young men laughed.  "Just at present," de Lisle said, "the
two religions get on quietly together. The  cardinal, churchman as
he is, knows that if France is to be great religious enmities must
cease, and that the  wars of the last reign cost tens of thousands
of lives, and drove great numbers of men to take refuge in  Holland
or England, to the benefit of those countries and our loss. Still,
his successor, whoever he may be,  may think more of party and less
of France, and in that case you might have found your vocation of
a  Huguenot minister as full of danger as that of a soldier."

"It would have been much worse," Hector said, "for it would not
have been a question of fighting, but of  being massacred. I know
nothing of either religious disputes or of politics. In the regiment
these things  were never talked about, either among the men or the
officers; all were for the king. But at the same time,  as it seemed
to them that it was the cardinal who had stopped the persecution
of the Huguenots, and who  had now gone to war with the Austrians
to prevent the Protestant princes of Germany being altogether
subjugated by the Imperialists, they felt grateful to him; for of
course Scotchmen are all on the side of the  princes, and nigh half
the army of Gustavus Adolphus was composed of my countrymen."

"I do not suppose," Chavigny laughed, "that the cardinal would have
cared very much for the destruction of  all the Protestant princes
of Germany, had it not been that their ruin would make Austria
more formidable  than ever.  As long as Gustavus lived and the
Swedes were able to hold their own against the Imperialists,  France
troubled herself in no way in the matter; but when the Swedes were
finally routed at Nordlingen,  and it seemed that the Imperialists
would triumph everywhere -- for most of the Protestant princes
were  leaving the Confederacy and trying to make the best terms
they could for themselves -- Richelieu stepped  in; and now we see
France, which for the past hundred years has been trying to stamp
out Protestantism,  uniting with Protestant Holland and Sweden
to uphold the Protestant princes of Germany, and this under  the
direction of a cardinal of the Church of Rome. And here are we
riding behind a Huguenot general, who  perhaps more than any other
possesses the cardinal's confidence."

"It seems strange," de Lisle said, "but it is assuredly good
policy. While fighting Austria we are fighting  Spain, for Austria
and Spain are but two branches of one empire.  Spain is our eternal
enemy. True, she is  not as formidable as she was. Henry of Navarre's
triumph over the Guises half emancipated us from her  influence.
The English destroyed her naval power. Holland well nigh exhausted
her treasury, and brought  such discredit on her arms as she had
never before suffered. Still, she and Austria combined dominate
Europe, and it is on her account that we have taken the place of the
Swedes and continued this war that has  raged for so many years."



CHAPTER II:  CHOOSING A LACKEY


The policy of the great cardinal had for its objects the aggrandizement
of France, as well as the weakening  of the power of Austria. So
long as the struggle between the Protestant princes and the Swedes
against the  Imperialists had been maintained with equal successes
on both sides, he had been well content to see  Germany watering its
soil with the blood of its people.  Nearly a third of the population
had been swept  away during the terrible war. Many hundreds of
towns and villages had already disappeared, while large  tracts of
country lay uncultivated, and whichever party won a victory France
gained by it. Her interest,  however, lay with the Protestant
confederation. So long as Germany was cut up into a number of small
principalities, divided by religion and political animosity, she
could count for little against a foreign enemy.

France had for centuries suffered from the same cause.  The families
of Lorraine, Bouillon, Enghien,  Burgundy, the Guises, Longueville,
the Counts of Armagnac, and other powerful vassals of France, paid
but a nominal allegiance to the crown, and were really independent
princes. Louis XI had done much to  break their power. Richelieu
continued the work, and under him France for the first time became
consolidated into a whole. Had he lived, the work would doubtless
have been completed, but his death and  that of the king postponed
the work for years. The long regency, controlled by a minister
possessing none  of the courage and firmness of Richelieu, and
personally obnoxious alike to the nobles and to the  population of
Paris, again threw the power into the hands of the great nobles,
plunged France into civil  strife, and the wars of the Fronde,
like those of the Roses in England, so weakened the nobles that
the  crown under Louis XIV became absolutely dominant.

Had Austria succeeded in crushing the Protestant princes, that
empire, with all Germany under her control,  would have become
a power greatly superior in strength and population to France. It
was principally to  prevent this result that Richelieu after the
battle of Nordlingen threw himself into the struggle, but his aim
was also to carry the frontier of France up to the Rhine. Here the
territories of the Dukes of Lorraine, and  Bouillon Prince of Sedan,
not only cut France off from the Rhine and the Moselle, but opened
a door by  which she could at any time be invaded from Germany.
The Dukes of Lorraine had always borne  themselves as independent
princes, giving, indeed, a nominal allegiance to France, but
as often allying  themselves with German princes as with her. The
Duc de Bouillon, on the north of Lorraine, and the Duke  of Savoy,
farther to the south, also regarded themselves as independent. The
former, as Huguenots, had a  strong leaning towards the Protestant
Hollanders, and both were ready to furnish asylums to French nobles
who had incurred the wrath of their kings or ministers.

The Duc de Bouillon, father of Turenne, had fought bravely on the
side of Henry of Navarre through the  wars of the League. He died
when the viscount was but ten years of age, and, his elder brother
being but six  years older, his mother became regent of the little
state. After having greatly weakened the strength of the  Huguenot
nobles by the siege and capture of La Rochelle, which had long been
the stronghold and bulwark  of that religion, Richelieu obtained
from the duchess a treaty by which she engaged to remain always
attached to the interests of France, while the king undertook to
protect the house of Bouillon. The Duke of  Savoy was next compelled
to hand over to France the town and province of Pignerol, and
Richelieu then  turned his attention to Lorraine. The reigning
duke had entered into an alliance with Austria, and the  invasion
of his territory was therefore the first step by which France
entered into the terrible struggle  known as the Thirty Years' War.

The duke had given Richelieu an excuse for hostilities.  He had
married his cousin, the nearest heir to the  dukedom, but he treated
her so badly that she fled to France and begged the protection of
Louis XIII. This  he gave her, a French army was at once set in
motion against Lorraine, and it was in this struggle that  Turenne
had first fought under the French flag. He had always evinced the
strongest predilection for the life  of a soldier, and when he
reached the age of fourteen, Richelieu being at the time engaged
in breaking the  power of the Huguenots and in the siege of La
Rochelle, the boy's mother sent him to his uncle Maurice of  Nassau,
who at the death of his father had become the leader of the Dutch
people. He was treated by his  uncle in exactly the same way as
other gentlemen volunteers, carried a musket, and performed all
the duties  of a private soldier.

Six months later Prince Maurice died, and his brother, Henry
Frederick, succeeded him in the government  of the United Provinces.
He at once promoted his nephew, and the latter speedily rose to
the rank of captain  of infantry.  Here he was indefatigable in
his duties, and unlike most young men of good family, who left  the
internal economy and discipline of their companies to subordinate
officers, Turenne saw to everything  himself. He drilled and
instructed his soldiers, insisted not only upon strict military
discipline, but on good  manners and conduct in every particular.
He won their respect and affection by his personal kindness, and
denied himself almost the necessities of life in order to be able
to add to their comforts. In the wars in the  Netherlands there were
few pitched battles, and the operations consisted almost entirely
of the sieges of  fortified towns or of measures for their relief.

In all these Turenne took much more than his full share, paying
attention not only to his own duties but to  all that was being
done, spending his whole time in the batteries and the trenches,
and in learning all that  was possible of war carried on under
such conditions. In the winter, operations were always suspended,
and  Turenne spent his time in Paris, where his manner and conduct
won for him the favour of all with who he  came in contact. He had
been severely brought up under a Calvinist tutor; his habits were
simple, his tastes  quiet and almost ascetic, and he cared little
for the amusements of the brilliant and corrupt court. When the
war with Lorraine broke out, Turenne at once sought for employment
with the French army.

He recognized that there was comparatively little to be done in
the war of sieges in Holland, and longed to  enter a wider field.
His request was gladly granted, for the presence of the Duc de
Bouillon's brother in the  French army was in itself some guarantee
of the duke's fidelity to his engagements with France, and  Turenne
was at once appointed to the colonelcy of a regiment. He devoted
himself as assiduously to his  work as he had done in Holland, and
it was not long before his regiment gained the reputation of being
the  best disciplined in the king's service. He took part in a short
expedition in 1630, but there was on that  occasion no fighting,
and he first saw real service under Marshal de la Force in 1634.
After the siege of La  Motte, the success of which was due to the
storming of the breach by Turenne and his regiment, and for  which
exploit he was promoted to the rank of Marechal de Camp, a rank
equivalent to that of major  general, he took part in several
sieges, until Lorraine was completely conquered and its duke driven
to  abdicate and retire to Austria.

The battle of Nordlingen showed Richelieu that if France did not
resolutely enter into the conflict the  Austrians would become
absolute masters of all Germany. He at once signed a treaty with
the Swedes,  agreeing to grant them large subsidies to carry on the
war. By a similar treaty he promised subsidies and the  province of
Alsace to the Duke of Saxe-Weimar. He entered into an arrangement
with the Dutch, who were  to aid France to conquer Flanders, which
was to be divided between the two powers; while the Dukes of  Savoy,
Parma, and Mantua agreed to undertake, in alliance with France,
the invasion of Milan, and to  receive in return a portion of the
territory won from Spain. At the same time France declared war
against  Spain. It was to the army commanded by Cardinal de la
Valette, which was to act with that of Saxe-Weimar  against the
Imperialists, that Turenne was attached.

The campaign began unfavourably. The impetuosity of Saxe-Weimar,
who hoped to recover his own  principality, induced Valette to cross
the Rhine; but he was forced to retire in all haste, and the army
suffered terribly in the retreat.  Turenne was in command of the
advanced guard, and his courage and  activity alone saved the army
from complete destruction -- seizing upon defiles, overthrowing the
enemy  who barred the passages, and enabling the army to recross
the Rhine with numbers diminished only by  sickness, fatigue, and
hunger. At the siege of Saverne, Turenne led the French troops to
the attack after  three repulses, and succeeded in gaining a footing
in the town, but received himself a very severe wound in  the arm
with a musket ball. During the following year several towns were
captured but no decisive  operations took place.

In 1638, the Duke of Saxe-Weimar gained some great successes,
defeated the Imperialists with heavy loss  at Rheinfelden, and
besieged Breisach, the key of southern Germany. The Imperialist
army marched to  relieve the place, but reinforcements were sent
from France under the command of Turenne and  Longueville. Three
battles were fought and the Austrians driven off. After an assault
by Turenne, Breisach  capitulated, and all Alsace had now fallen
into the hands of Saxe-Weimar. Having been promised Alsace he
refused, as Richelieu desired, to hand over Breisach to France; but
on the death of the duke in the following  year, Richelieu bought
over his lieutenants, the French flag waved over the towns of Alsace,
and the Upper  Rhine became the French frontier. Turenne returned
to court, where he was received with enthusiasm, and  was a short
time afterwards ordered to Italy to assist De la Valette, who had
been faring but badly there.

Matters had not gone there as Richelieu had calculated.  The Duke
of Savoy remained true to his  engagement with France, but he died
in October, 1637. The Spaniards had captured Vercelli, and the
emperor had bestowed the regency of the duchy on the Cardinal of
Savoy and on Prince Thomas, brother-in-law of the duchess. These,
supported by the Duke of Modena and the Governor of Milan, the
Marquess  of Leganez, declared that they were determined to protect
the people against the French and to deliver the  young duke from
French domination. The duchess implored help from France, and la
Valette advanced to  her aid.

While in Paris, Turenne had obtained from the cardinal permission
to raise a regiment of dragoons and also  that a company of dragoons
should be attached to each regiment of cavalry. These troops were
not intended  to fight on horseback, but were, in fact, mounted
infantry, an arm which, after being in disuse for many  years, has
lately been recognized as a very valuable one, possessing as it
does the mobility of cavalry with  the fighting power of infantry.
It was at the head of this regiment that the general started for
Italy. The  position of affairs in Savoy was dark indeed, for the
whole of Piedmont had risen against the duchess.  Many considerable
towns had been captured by the Spanish, others, including the city
of Turin, had opened  their gates to them, and with the exception
of Susa, Carignano, Chivasso, Casale, and the citadel of Turin,  the
whole country was lost to her.  The French forces were, however,
too weak to take the offensive, and  the ill health of La Valette
deprived him of his former energy and rendered him unwilling to
undertake any  offensive movement. Nevertheless, Turenne's counsels
infused a new spirit into the army, and indeed the  news that the
young general, whose name was already known throughout Europe,
had arrived, and the  belief that his coming would be followed by
that of large reinforcements from France, at once reanimated  the
remaining supporters of the duchess and dispirited the Piedmontese,
who began to fear that they had  been too hasty in siding with
Spain.

But if, for the time, Turenne was not in a position to act in the
field, he began at once to take steps to  prepare to meet the coming
storm. Early in October La Valette died.  The general opinion was
that Turenne  would have succeeded to the command, but his brother
the Duc de Bouillon had broken with Richelieu and  joined the
party opposed to him.  When in Paris, the duke had been on terms
of intimate friendship with the  Count of Soissons and had invited
him to stay with him at Sedan. The invitation had been declined,
but the  count, having been implicated in a plot against Richelieu,
had been obliged to fly and had taken refuge at  Sedan, where he
had been most warmly received by the duke.  Richelieu had at first
invited, and then in the  name of the king commanded, Bouillon
to expel his guest. This the duke absolutely refused to do, and
becoming deeply offended at the manner in which he was pressed,
joined the party opposed to Richelieu.

It was for this reason that the cardinal decided not to appoint
Turenne to the command, knowing the warm  affection that existed
between the brothers, and fearing that Turenne might be influenced
by Bouillon, and  might, beloved as he was by the soldiers, lead
many of the troops away from their allegiance were he to  join the
party opposed to him. He therefore appointed the Count d'Harcourt
to the command. He had proved  himself a brilliant officer on many
occasions, and Turenne did not feel in any way aggrieved at his
being  placed over him. He made a rapid journey to Paris to arrange
with the cardinal and d'Harcourt the general  plan of the campaign,
and was now setting out again to make preparations for it.

Hector Campbell enjoyed the journey greatly. His duties were
nominal; and the party always halted at  towns, where the troops
were billeted upon the inhabitants, and the viscount and his suite
entertained by the  authorities.  After crossing the Alps, however,
by the pass of Mount Cenis, and arriving at Susa, his work  began
in earnest. Turenne himself was almost entirely occupied in
consultations with the duchess; his three  aides-de-camp, however,
were kept hard at work carrying messages to the governors of towns
that still  adhered to the duchess, with orders for the strengthening
of the defences and for the collection of stores and  provisions
in case of siege. Each was provided with three horses, and almost
lived in the saddle.

"You seem to be tireless, Campbell," de Lisle said, when it one
day happened that all three were together at  headquarters. "I feel
as if I had not a whole bone in my body; as I have not had a whole
night in bed for the  last six days, I can hardly keep my eyes
open, while you, who have been doing as much as we have, are  going
about as actively as if you had had nothing to do for a week."

"I have the advantage of riding so much lighter than you do,"
Hector said; "weight tells both on horse and  rider, and when the
horse is tired his pace soon adds to the weariness of his rider.
If we had had to do this  work when we first left Paris, I have
no doubt that I should have felt it, but the journey here has been
a fine  preparation. Another thing is, that every morning I take
a dip in the first mountain stream I come to, and  that does one
almost as much good as a night's sleep."

De Lisle shivered. "It may do good, Campbell, but I would not jump
into one of these icy streams for  anything.  It makes one shudder
to think of it."

"I always had a swim in the Seine every morning when it was not
closed by ice," Hector said. "I was told  that there was nothing
braced one up and made one so hardy as that; and I certainly found
that even in the  coldest weather I never felt the need of a cloak."

"Well, I don't deny that it may be a good custom, and if all
Scotchmen do it, it may account for their  hardiness; but I like
comfort when I can get it."

"But it is not comfort to be always in the saddle, and to feel so
sleepy that you fancy that at any moment  you may fall off. Even
if a dip in snow water is, to those unaccustomed to it, somewhat
sharp, it is better  than having to struggle against sleep for
hours."

"Well, possibly I may try the experiment some day when I feel that
I must either lie down by the roadside  and sleep or take a dip,
but until I feel like breaking down altogether I shall postpone
the experiment."

Turenne several times spoke approvingly to Hector. On one occasion,
when the lad presented himself on  being told that an aide-de-camp
was required to carry a message, Turenne said to him: "But it is
not your  turn, Campbell; de Lisle and Chavigny both returned some
hours ago, while it is not an hour since you  came in."

"They are both asleep, general," Campbell said; "they have been
thirty-six hours in the saddle."

"But you have been more than that, Campbell?"

"But I do not feel it, sir," he said. "I am perfectly fresh and
ready to go on. I was a little tired when I came  in, but I have
taken a swim in the river, and am now at your service."

Turenne hesitated. "You see, sir," Hector went on, "being of light
weight the horse does not feel it as he  does that of a heavier
man, his pace continues light and elastic, and his spirit good, and
that makes all the  difference to the fatigue of his rider. After
two days' rest my horses are perfectly ready for another long
day's work, while those of Chavigny and de Lisle start heavily,
not having recovered from their fatigue."

"Very well, you can go then, Campbell. I am pleased with your
spirit, and also with your thoughtfulness for  your companions,
who, although strong young men, do not seem to have your power of
endurance. I find,  too, that you always carry out your instructions
with intelligence, and that your reports on matters touching  which
I have sent you to inquire are always clear and full. It may be
that ere long I may find employment  for you in which courage as
well as intelligence is required. There is but one drawback, namely,
that you do  not speak Italian. I know that there are few officers
in our service who do so; but it would be so much the  more valuable
were you able to master it."

"I had intended to study the language, general, as soon as I got
here, but have had no time to begin it."

"That you certainly have not," Turenne said with a smile.

"Do you think that it would be of any use, sir, if I were to take
a Savoyard servant? I find that many of them  who come from places
near the frontier speak French as well as their own language."

"That would be useful, certainly; but you would have to be careful
in your choice, and see that you get one  whose sympathies are with
the duchess; not only for your own safety, but because a chance
word heard  here, or an order given and conveyed to the Spaniards,
might involve the loss of a battle."

"I see that, general, and will be very careful."

Hector had formed the acquaintance of several young officers
attached to the household of the duchess, and  on the day following
his return from his mission he was supping with a party of four of
them when he said:

"Can one of you gentlemen recommend a servant to me? He must be able
to talk French as well as Italian.  He must be active and intelligent.
I should like him to be handy and accustomed to camp service, though
this is not so important, for I want him as an interpreter before
anything else. I should like him to be a  lightweight, so as to be
able to ride with me. He must be accustomed to fatigue, and he must
have courage,  for some of the journeys on which I may be sent will
not be without danger, and of course he must be of the  duchess's
party."

"And I suppose," one of the young men said, "that this Admirable
Crichton of whom you are in search must  be sober, honest, and
truthful. Are you particular whether he is Huguenot or Catholic?"

"As to the last, not a bit. I should like him to be as sober as
soldiers in general are, and if he confined  himself to taking his
wine when I did not require him, it would not be very important,
provided that he is  not talkative when in liquor.  As to his honesty,
he would have no great temptation so far as I am  concerned, but
I certainly should not wish to lose him by his being strung up by
the provost marshal for  robbing citizens. As to his truthfulness,
providing he did not lie to me, it is a point on which I should
not be  particular."

There was a general laugh.

"And as to his age?" the officer asked.

"If I could find all the qualifications that I require, I should
not be particular about that; but I think that for  choice I would
take a lad of from sixteen to twenty."

"In that case I fancy that I know a lad who might suit you," one of
the other officers said. "He is a brother  of my groom, and I may
own that he has been of no little trouble to him. The boy is an
orphan, and having  no other friends so far as I know, he has attached
himself to his brother, and for the past two years,  wherever he
has gone Paolo has gone too. He earns a little money by doing odd
jobs -- running messages,  and so on, helps his brother to clean
the horses; and with an occasional crown from me, and what he earns
otherwise, it cannot be said that he costs his brother anything in
money; but in other respects he is always  getting him into trouble,
for he is a very imp of mischief. Two or three times his brother
has obtained  places for him, but he always comes back at the end
of a week, and sometimes sooner, with bitter  complaints from his
master that he has set the household in a turmoil with his tricks
and ill conduct. Many a  thrashing has he had, but they do him no
good."

The others laughed.

"There is no doubt that Paolo is a perfect young imp," one of
them said, "but he is as sharp as a needle. I  have no doubt that
if he could be tamed he would make a most useful lad. As it is, I
certainly would not  recommend anyone who cares for his peace of
mind to have anything to do with him."

"I will see him anyhow," Hector said. "I think that I would rather
have a sharp boy than a man. Being but a  boy myself, I could
appreciate and put up with more in the way of mischief than a man
could."

"I will tell my groom to bring him round to your quarters in the
morning," the officer said; "but mind, I in  no way recommend your
taking him. You won't keep him a week if you do."

The next morning Hector's orderly told him that a man desired to
speak to him.

"Has he a boy with him?"

"Yes, lieutenant."

"Bring them in here, then."

In a minute a man entered, followed by a boy. The former was a good
looking young Savoyard of some  four- or five-and-twenty years; the
latter was a lad of about the same height as Hector but somewhat
older.  He had black hair which fell over his forehead down to his
eyebrows. His face bore an expression of  extreme humility, which,
however, was marred by the merry twinkle of his dark eyes.

"My master has bid me bring my brother with me, Lieutenant
Campbell," the man said, "and I have done  so, but I fear greatly
that he will hardly suit you as a servant. I have obtained a dozen
places for him, but he  is always sent back at the end of three or
four days, and I told him last time that I would never say a word
in his recommendation again, for that it only gets me into trouble
with the gentlemen."

"Well, that is honest," Hector said with a smile.  "However, I will
ask him a few questions. Now, Paolo, in  the first place, could
you be faithful?"

"I could be faithful to a master I loved," he said.

"In the second place, are you honest?"

"He is honest," the man said, "I will say that for him."

"Are you truthful?"

"I am as truthful as other people," the boy said.

"What do you mean by that?"

"I mean, sir, that if I were asked a straightforward question I
would give a straightforward answer, unless it  were wiser not to
do so. I would tell the truth to my master, but I do not consider
it necessary always to do  so to others. For instance, sir, if you
were my master, and questions were asked about you, there might be
times when it would not be convenient for you that I should mention
where you had gone, or what you  were doing."

"That is so," Hector said with a laugh. "The important thing for
me to know is, would you always tell me  the truth?"

"I think that I could promise to do that, sir, or at least to be
very near the truth."

"You understand horses?"

"I do, sir."

"And you can ride?"

"Yes, sir, I can ride and run too. In a long day's journey I should
get to the end on foot nearly as fast as you  would on horseback."

"He can make himself useful on a campaign," the brother said. "He
has been with my master and myself in  the field for the last three
years, and knows his work well if he chooses to do it."

"The principal point with me is that which I first asked him about,
can he be faithful? I may have to ride on  dangerous missions for the
general. I may have to enter an enemy's town to obtain information.
There is  another thing, being of the general's staff, and sometimes
quartered in the same house with him and  chatting freely with his
other aides-de-camp, secrets might be picked up by a sharp pair of
ears that if  repeated would do grievous harm to the cause of the
duchess, as you can well understand. Now, the  question, Paolo,
is, can you be absolutely trusted; can you, as to all matters you
may hear, be as one who is  deaf and dumb?"

"I could, sir," the boy said earnestly. "I am all for the duchess,
and I hate the Spaniards. I once was found  out in a bit of mischief
in the palace, and should have been whipped for it and turned out
of the town, but  the duchess herself said that I was only a boy
and forgave me, and I would do anything for her. I would  indeed,
sir, and I swear that I would be always honest and truthful with
you. I should like you as a master.  You don't speak to me as if
I were dirt under your feet, and I am sure by your voice that you
would be kind.  Try me, sir; my brother will tell you that I have
never said as much before to anyone to whom he has taken  me, for
indeed I never meant to stay with them, preferring my liberty,
rough though my fare may  sometimes be."

"I will try you, Paolo. I believe that you are in earnest, and that
I can trust you; but mind, there must be no  monkey tricks here.
The general must not be disturbed by the antics of a servant boy.
You are likely, in my  service, to have as much excitement and
adventure as you can wish for, and you must behave yourself, for
if you do not do so you will be lucky if you escape with a flogging
and being turned out of camp. I am  younger than you are, and am
just as fond of a piece of fun, but I know when it is good to enjoy
one's self  and when one must put aside boyish pranks. I have my
duties to perform, and do them to the best of my  power, and shall
expect you to do the same."

"I will, sir," the boy said respectfully. "I will give you no cause
to complain of me, at least no wilful cause."

"Then that is settled. Here," he said to the boy's brother, "are
five pistoles; see that he is decently clad so as  to make a fair
appearance by my side. When he is so, let him return here. It were
best that he should come  this evening, for it is likely that I
shall be away on duty tomorrow."

"He shall be here, sir," he said, "and I thank you heartily for
engaging him; and I do think that he means  this time to behave
himself."

"I do mean it," the boy said. "You shall have no reason to complain
of me, sir."

Shortly afterwards Hector met the officer who had spoken of the
boy.

"Well, have you thought anything more of young ne'er-do-well?"

"I have engaged him."

"You have, after the warning I gave you? Well, I hope you will not
have reason to repent it."

"I do not think that I shall. I can quite believe that he is a
mischievous young varlet, he shows it in his face;  but I am sure
that he is shrewd, and I believe that he will be faithful.  At any
rate I think that we took to  each other, and that he has made up
his mind to try for once to stay in a place. He really seemed in
earnest  about it, and if he keeps to his promises I think that he
will be just the sort of lad to suit me."

"Well, we shall see," the officer said; "but if he turns out badly,
please remember that I warned you against  him."

"And if he turns out well," Hector said with a laugh, "I shall not
fail also to remind you of your  prognostications."

That evening when Hector returned to his room after he had finished
his meal, he found Paolo waiting  outside his door. His appearance
had so changed that he would not have known him. His hair had been
cut  short in the front and left long behind, as was the custom of
the day, hanging down on to his collar. He was  neat and tidy. He
wore a dark blue doublet reaching to the hips, with a buff leather
belt, in which was stuck  a dagger. His leggings, fitting tightly
down to the ankles, were of dark maroon cloth, and he wore short
boots of tanned leather. A plain white collar, some four inches
deep, was worn turned down over the neck  of the doublet, and a
yellow cloth cap, with a dark cock's feather, was stuck on one side
of his head. In his  hand he held a bundle containing a leather
jerkin and breeches of the same material, and a pair of buff  leather
riding boots that would reach to the knee.

"Your brother has laid out the money well, Paolo," Hector said, as
he opened the door and led the way into  his room. "I do not think
that I should have known you."

"I am quite sure that I should not have known myself, master, if
I had looked into a horse trough and seen  my reflection. It will
be a long time before I shall be able to persuade myself that these
clothes are my own,  and that I really am an officer's lackey. Now,
master, you must teach me my duties, of which I know  nought when
in a house like this, though I know well enough what they are when
you are in the field."

"They are few enough at present, Paolo. Monsieur de Turenne's
stablemen look after the horses of his staff.  When I do not dine
with him, I and my two friends, M. de Lisle and M. de Chavigny,
dine and sup together  at an inn. There is my room to keep tidy,
my bed to make, my armour and arms to be polished, and my  clothes
to be brushed. Hitherto, my orderly has done these things, but it
will now be your duty. As I do not  eat in my rooms, it is clear
that there is no food for you, and when we are in towns I shall
give you money  to pay for your meals at a cabaret."

"I hope, master, that you will soon find something more useful
for me to do, for, in truth, I fear that with so  much time on my
hands I shall find it sorely difficult to comport myself as is due
to your lackey."

"Do not fear, I have little doubt that you will soon find work
enough and to spare, and indeed you will often  ride with me."

Some few days later, the other two aides-de-camp being away, the
viscount requested Hector to accompany  him on a tour of inspection
that might last two or three days. He was accompanied by his orderly
and three  other troopers, behind who rode two of his own lackeys
with baskets of provisions.  With them rode Paolo,  Hector having
asked the general if he should take him with him.

"You may as well do so, Campbell, it will accustom him to his work.
What made you choose so young a  servant?" he asked, as he rode
off.

"He is a year older than I am, though perhaps not so tall. He is
the brother of a man in the employment of  Monsieur de Vevey. He has
been through the last two campaigns. I find him very intelligent.
He obeys my  orders promptly, and as he is heart and soul in the
cause of the duchess, I feel sure of his fidelity, especially  as
he has had a hard time of it up to now, and is, I think, grateful
to me for taking him. He speaks French  very well, and might certainly
be of great use to me in any enterprise that your lordship might
be good  enough to entrust me with. Being about the same age, I
think that we might perhaps go together  unquestioned where a man
would be unable to pass."

The viscount rode on for some minutes without speaking. "There is
something in what you say, Campbell,  and after this journey is
over I may be able to employ you in that way when it is necessary
to obtain  information I can get in no other manner. Has he ridden
with you before?"

"Yes, sir, he has ridden behind me each time that I have been away
since I engaged him. When I say behind  me, he starts behind me,
but when out of town I call him up beside me, and we talk, or rather
try to talk, in  Italian -- or rather I should say in Piedmontese,
for he tells me that each district of Italy has its own dialect,
and that the natives of one can scarce understand the other. I have
bought a book printed here and a  dictionary, and of an evening when
I have no duties to perform he comes into my room, and translates
sentence by sentence as I read it to him. I learn it by heart, and
hope that ere long I shall be able to make  myself understood in
it."

"You do well -- very well," the viscount said. "If all my young
officers were to do the same, instead of  spending the evening and
half the night in drinking and gambling, things would go on much
more  smoothly, and there would not be so many blunders in carrying
out my orders. You will greatly add to your  usefulness by acquiring
a knowledge of the language, and it would certainly enable you to
carry out with  far less danger such commissions as those you were
just speaking of; for you might be asked a question,  and if it
were replied to by your lackey, suspicions would be at once aroused.
You have ridden along this  road before?"

"Several times, sir."

"Have you noted the features of the country -- I mean from a military
point of view?"

"I have nothing else to do as I ride along, sir. As I go I notice
where an ambuscade might be laid, either by  ourselves or an enemy,
where we might expect to be opposed on our march forward, or where
a rear guard  might check an enemy were we retiring before him."

"Good! the fate of a battle depends in nine cases out of ten upon
a knowledge of the ground, and in  quickness in utilizing that
knowledge. Our journey today is only taken for that purpose. I
want to see for  myself the country across which we shall at first
operate, to inspect the various routes by which we might  advance,
or through which, if we find the enemy in too great a force to be
encountered, we should be  obliged to retire. As we go you shall
point out to me the observations that you have made, and I shall
be  able to judge whether the spots are well chosen for the purpose."



CHAPTER III:  THE FIRST BATTLE


During the three days that were spent in reconnoitering the country
Hector Campbell learnt more than he  would have done in as many
years under ordinary circumstances. Turenne took the greatest pains
to point  out to him how the nature of the ground could be taken
advantage of, how flanks could be protected against  attack by
comparatively small bodies, occupying positions from which they
could be with difficulty  expelled; how important was the action of
guns, especially when so placed as to be able to sweep the  ground
across which an enemy must advance in any endeavour to turn the position
of an army. Turenne, on  his part, took pleasure in instructing a
pupil who was at once so eager to learn, and who showed himself so
apt in profiting by his teaching.

"You see," he said, "I am concerned rather in defensive positions
at present than in seeing how we could  best turn an enemy barring
our advance. Although the greater portion of the dominions of the
duchess has  fallen into the hands of the enemy, she is fortunate
in that the few places that remain are those that at once  enable
her to make a defence with comparatively small forces; and at the
same time, it is possible for her to  receive aid from France,
or, if absolutely necessary, for her to fall back across the Alps.
Susa, her  headquarters, lying at the mouth of the valley up which
the road over Mount Cenis finds its way, at once  guards the pass
and keeps open communication with France.

"It is, as it were, the handle of a fan, and can be approached by
three main roads only, -- those to Turin,  Carignano, and Chivasso.
Unfortunately Turin is in the enemy's hands, but as the duchess's
troops still hold  the citadel, an advance could not very well be
made until that has fallen. Chivasso and Carignano are safe  from any
sudden attack. There are other minor roads, but so long as these
towns are in our hands and held  by strong garrisons, an enemy
advancing by any of these roads towards Susa would be liable to have
their  communications cut, and their convoys captured by parties
from these fortresses. It has long been a fixed  idea in military
operations that an army cannot advance as long as a town near the
line of route is held by  the enemy.  That idea is an erroneous
one, and several times upon the Rhine we have gained successes by
neglecting this rule and disregarding the towns, contenting ourselves
with leaving a force sufficient to keep  the garrison in check.

"The Spaniards, however, are slow to change their tactics, good
soldiers as they are. The consequence is  that, although greatly
superior in force, last year they made no offensive movement against
us. We have  had several regiments join us since we arrived here,
and although I believe the enemy's force to be twice as  strong as
our own, I have no doubt that the Count d'Harcourt will as soon as
he arrives decide upon taking  the offensive. You see our position
here, guarded as it is on both flanks by the line of mountains, is
as  favourable for offence as defence, for we can advance either
through Carignano on our right or Chivasso on  our left; and however
the enemy may dispose themselves they are vulnerable on one side
or the other."

This anticipation was justified. D'Harcourt arrived three days
later. A council of war was held, and it was  decided that an
advance should at once be made against the enemy. The main body of
the Spanish troops  were posted in a fortified camp at Villanova,
halfway between Asti and Turin. Leaving only a small body  of troops
to guard the lower valley of Susa from an attack by the Spaniards
at Turin, the army advanced to  Carignano, and thence towards
Villanova. The Spaniards, however, although nearly twice as
strong as the  French, were so much surprised at the boldness of
this proceeding that instead of marching out to give  battle they
contented themselves with strengthening still further the defences
of their camp, and in order to  force them to come out d'Harcourt
advanced to Chieri -- called by the French Quiers -- a town situated
between Villanova and Turin, and about two leagues distant from
each.

Turenne was in command of the cavalry, and took post between Chieri
and Villanova. The Spaniards,  however, made no effort to relieve
the town, which capitulated after a resistance of only two or three
days.  While the siege was proceeding, a large convoy of provisions
succeeded, unmolested, in making its way to  Casale, and thus placed
the garrison there in a position to hold out for several weeks to
come. But a very  small store of provisions was found in Chieri,
and the army was forced to fall back towards Carignano to  obtain
food from the stores collected there.  The Marquis of Leganez,
whose headquarters were at Asti,  knowing that the French had sent
all the stores they had brought with them to Casale, had foreseen
that this  would be the case, and advancing rapidly with the troops
from Villanova seized Poirino, on the line by  which the French
would retire, while at the same time Prince Thomas, who commanded
at Turin, advanced  with the greater portion of his troops, and
marched towards the little river Santina, intending to cross there.
Thus the French army could not retire on Carignano without exposing
both flanks to the attack of the  enemy.

During the short campaign Hector had ridden behind Turenne, and
shared in the general disappointment of  the army when the enemy
refused to accept their offer of battle, and still more so when
after the capture of  Chieri it became necessary to retreat. His
two fellow aides-de-camp loudly bewailed the bad fortune that  thus
obliged them to retire without having effected anything beyond the
capture of an insignificant town,  which, however, had the advantage
of opening a way for them into the heart of the country then held
by the  enemy.

"You seem to take it rather philosophically, Campbell," de Lisle
said to Hector, as he remained silent while  they were bemoaning
their fate.

"I do not see that it is of any use taking it otherwise. At least
we have had the satisfaction of bearding the  Spaniards, who indeed
seem to me to behave wisely in remaining in their intrenchments and
waiting until  they can unite all their forces against us. However,
we have shown them that we are not afraid of them, and  that even
in the middle of November we are so eager to meet them that we have
hastened to take the field  and to strike a blow before winter sets
in in earnest; but I think it possible that we may have a fight
yet  before we get back. Leganez has the reputation of being a good
general, and he may yet combine his troops  at Asti with those of
Villanova and Turin and try to cut us off from Carignano." At this
moment Turenne  suddenly entered the room.

"To horse, gentlemen! News has come that Prince Thomas is marching
at the head of three thousand foot  and fifteen hundred horse to cut
us off, and that Leganez is moving with all speed towards Poirino
with the  same object.  Carry my orders for a thousand cavalry and
as many infantry to be ready to march at once.  We must be beforehand
with Prince Thomas."

In ten minutes the cavalry and infantry selected were in movement,
and Turenne, placing himself at the  head of the former, rode on at
a gallop, and keeping on at full speed with his cavalry, occupied
the bridge  before Prince Thomas came up. On his arrival, the
latter, having with him three thousand foot and fifteen  hundred
horse, prepared to attack, but before he did so Turenne's infantry
arrived. The Spaniards attacked  with fury, but Turenne's troops
stood firm and repulsed them, and as soon as they fell back charged
in turn,  broke the enemy, and drove them in headlong rout towards
Turin. Prince Thomas himself was twice  unhorsed and thrown into a
ditch, but it was now almost dark, his rank was unrecognized, and
he succeeded  in making his escape and rejoining his scattered
troops.

While this fight was going on, d'Harcourt had attacked the Marquis
of Leganez and gained a considerable  advantage, but not knowing
how the fight was going on at Santina did not venture to advance
towards the  Po. As soon, however, as a messenger from Turenne
brought him news that Prince Thomas had been  defeated he continued
his march towards Carignano. He was speedily joined by Turenne's
horse, which  took up the duty of rear guard and checked the
Spaniards, who were pressing on in hopes of attacking the  French
as they crossed the river. He held them at bay until d'Harcourt had
got all his guns and baggage  wagons across the river, and then,
following him, broke down the bridge and joined him at Carignano.
Here  the army went into winter quarters.

D'Harcourt, whose health was bad, retired to pass the winter at
Pinerolo, leaving the command in the hands  of Turenne, who again
established himself at Susa, and began to make preparations for
throwing a convoy  of provisions into the citadel of Turin.

During the fight at Santina Hector remained behind Turenne, while
the two young Frenchmen, carried  away by their ardour, joined in
the hot pursuit of the enemy. The prince, who had led the charge,
had  halted.

"Are you alone here, Monsieur Campbell?"

"Yes, sir."

"Where are de Lisle and Chavigny?"

"They rode on with the cavalry, sir."

Turenne frowned.

"You have done well to remain. An aide-de-camp's place is to carry
orders, not to fight. Now, sir, ride at  once to the count. I hear
his battle is still going on. Tell him that I have defeated and
scattered the troops of  the prince, and that as soon as I can
gather my men I shall march to join him."

Hector bowed, turned his horse and galloped off, while the general
rode on, sending every officer he  overtook in search of the cavalry
with orders that they were to abandon the pursuit and return
instantly.  That evening after they had entered Carignano he called
de Lisle and Chavigny into his room.

"Gentlemen," he said, "you will have to choose whether you remain
with me or join one of the cavalry  regiments. If you remain with
me, you must bear in mind in future that you are my aides-de-camp,
and that  your sole duty here is to carry my orders, and not to
fight like troopers in a battle. It is through  hotheadedness of
this sort that battles are lost.  A general, without officers to
carry his orders, can do  nothing towards controlling the movements
of his troops in battle, of following up a victory or covering a
defeat."

The two young officers hung their heads and murmured their excuses.

"Enough, gentlemen," Turenne said. "I am perfectly aware that it
was your ardour that carried you away,  but ardour is a bad leader.
Over and over again the ardour of cavalry to pursue the troops they
have  defeated has brought about the loss of a battle. Courage is a
virtue, and most soldiers possess it, but  steadiness and coolness
are rarer and more useful, and on the part of officers on a general's
staff are  absolutely indispensable. I doubt not that you will
remember this in future, and that I shall not have reason  to
complain of you again."

The next morning it was Hector's turn to be in attendance on the
general.

"You behaved as I expected you would do," Turenne said, when he
entered his room on hearing the bell  sound.  "You fought close to
me as long as there was fighting to be done, and I observed that
you used your  sword well. The moment I drew rein you did the same,
and took up your post behind me, showing that  although this was
your first battle you retained your coolness. I will therefore tell
you in confidence that  Count d'Harcourt has enjoined me to throw
provisions, if possible, into the citadel at Turin. It will take
me  some time to make arrangements, and my only fear is that the
garrison, on hearing that we have retired  across the Po -- of
which you may be sure the Spaniards will take care to inform them
-- may believe that  we shall do no more this winter; and as we
know that their provisions must be well nigh exhausted, they  will
abandon the citadel and march thither.

"It is now well nigh eighteen months since they were first cut off.
It is certain that their investment is a very  close one, and that
the most vigilant watch is used to prevent news of any kind from
reaching them from  the outside. We have made several efforts to
communicate with them, but without success. Some of the  messengers
we sent never returned, and were, doubtless, detected and killed.
Others came back and  reported their failure, saying that every
avenue to the citadel was so closely watched that it was impossible
to get through."

"Have you any objection, general, to my mentioning this matter to
my boy? I am absolutely convinced that  he is thoroughly faithful
and trustworthy."

"You may do so if you like, Campbell, though it is hardly likely
that he will be able to suggest any method  of communication with
the garrison that has not already been tried."

"Thank you, sir."

The general shortly afterwards went out to wait upon the duchess;
in two hours he returned, and as soon as  he did so Hector entered
his room.

"What is it?" Turenne asked.

"I have been thinking about what you said about the garrison of
Turin. I have been talking it over with  Paolo, and have come to
offer to do my best to deliver a letter from you to the garrison
if you will do me  the great honour to entrust the mission to me.
We both think that two boys would be much more likely to  succeed
than men. No one would regard them with suspicion; and they could
creep and crawl more easily. I  do not say that we should succeed,
but I think that we should have some chance of doing so. At any
rate I  am willing to try."

"It would be a very dangerous expedition," Turenne said gravely.

"Not more dangerous than going into a battle, viscount.  Not a
quarter as dangerous as storming a breach."

Turenne smiled. "The idea has passed through my mind," he said,
"but I should not have proposed it had  you not first spoken. It
is the sort of mission in which I thought you could be made useful,
but it is a rough  adventure to begin with, and you must not minimize
the danger. It is the duty of a soldier to run the risk of  being
killed in battle, but it lies beyond his duty to go into the
enemy's camp to obtain news. He may  volunteer for it, but with a
knowledge that if detected he would assuredly be hanged."

"I do not think, general, that the risk of detection would be great,
but the risk of failure would be so. If  when we get there we can
see no possible means of passing through the line of sentries,
there would be  nothing to do but to come back, and I own that in
talking it over the thought that I might be obliged to  return and
to tell you that I had failed occupied a much larger portion of my
thoughts than the risk of being  detected."

"But I shall not expect you to succeed, Campbell; the chances are
a hundred to one against it. I should be  glad, however, to have
the experiment tried once again, so that if the garrison capitulates
before we arrive  to its succour, I shall not be able to blame
myself for not having made one more effort to induce them to  hold
out for another few weeks.  Have you thought of your plans?"

"Only so far, sir, that we shall dress up as two country boys,
cross the Po, and enter the city from the other  side.  After that
we must be guided by circumstances and trust to good luck. May I
ask, general, if you have  a plan of the city and fortress?"

"Yes; at least the duchess has one, which she has placed at my
disposal. I can send an officer to the palace  to request her to
let me have it. No doubt it would be a great advantage to you to
study the position  beforehand."

"Well, sir, we will see about getting our disguises at once."

"I will give you an order on the paymaster for a hundred crowns
for special service," Turenne said. "It is as  well to be amply
provided with money, as it may be necessary to buy fresh disguises
or to bribe someone to  conceal you;" and he drew an order on the
treasury and handed it to Hector.

"You will find the plan of the town in your room when you return."

Paolo was waiting for him.

"It is settled, Paolo; we are to go."

"This is an adventure after my own heart," the boy said with delight.
"It will be great fun to outwit the  Spaniards."

"Yes, but we must mind that they don't outwit us, Paolo, which is
quite as likely. Now let us talk of our  disguises again.  I think
you had better go and buy them. I would rather get old ones than
new. I don't  suppose that anyone is likely to take notice of me
in the streets, but it would be well at any rate that we  should
not both have new clothes, and better that neither of us did so."

"I can manage that, sir. There are shops here where one can buy
old clothes as well as new ones. I noticed  one the other day in
a narrow street by the wall. I wondered then who would buy some of
the garments  hung up. They were so old and so often mended that
it was difficult to say what was the original colour.  The people
are very poor up in the mountains; since the war began, doubtless
they have grown poorer, and  are glad to buy anything that will
cover them."

"Well, here are ten crowns."

"They won't cost half that, master, but I will take them."

"Mind and get something warm, Paolo; it is like enough that we
shall have to sleep more than once in the  open air, and the winds
are bitterly cold."

In half an hour the officer came with the plan, which Hector at
once set to to study. The citadel stood on  ground but little, if
at all, higher than that upon which the town was situated. It was
pentagonal in form, and  was built in 1565, and was the earliest
fortification in Europe in this style, and was considered a
masterpiece. It was separated from the town by its glacis. A deep
fosse ran along the foot of the wall. The  town itself was walled,
and extended to the foot of the citadel, and was capable of offering
a sturdy  resistance even after the citadel had fallen, just as the
citadel could protect itself after the capture of the  town by an
enemy.  Hector examined carefully that portion of the town facing
the citadel, and took notes of  the streets that ran through to
the walls, specially noting those which extended farthest from the
wall before  being broken by cross lanes.

It was evident from the width of the streets that this was the
poorest quarter of the town, for the wealthy  would not care to
build their houses in a position where, if the town and citadel
were hostile to each other,  they would be exposed to the fire of
the latter's guns.

In another half hour Paolo returned with a large bundle.  It
contained two coarse cotton shirts, two warm  garments resembling
waistcoats, and fastened by strings closing up to the neck, two red
sashes of coarse  flannel, and two loose doublets reaching down to
the hips. These were worn and patched, but had been  newly lined
with sheepskin. The breeches, which reached down to the knee, were
of coarse brown cloth; to  cover the leg below the knee were bands
of gray flannel which were wrapped round and round the leg and  foot,
while over these were worn wooden shoes. The hats were of conical
shape with wide brims, and both,  like the clothes, bore signs of
long wear.

"It could not have been better, Paolo," Hector said as he examined
them. "I have seen scores of boys so  dressed, and we shall certainly
attract no attention by our garb. They are warm, too, and we sha'n't
come to  any harm from sleeping out in them."

"They cost more than I expected, master, owing to the doublets
being freshly lined, but I thought it would  be worth it."

"Quite right! those sheepskins will be most useful.  There is one
thing more we shall want, a thin rope, that  will bear our weight
well, some twenty yards long. You had better go to a smith's and
get him to make a  strong iron hook, by which we can fix the rope
on to the edge of a wall should it be needed. You had better  have
it made a good nine inches across the hook, and the shank fifteen
inches long."

After again studying the map he took it to the general.

"We have our disguises, sir, and shall be ready to start tomorrow
morning."

"You have lost no time," the general said approvingly.  "You will,
of course, ride to Chivasso. I will give  you an order to the
governor there, to take charge of your horses and clothes, telling
him that you are about  to proceed on a mission in disguise, and
requesting him to send an officer to pass you through the outposts
beyond the bridge across the Po, that is if the other side is
not guarded by the Spanish troops.  I should  advise you to make
straight south so as to strike the road from Casale two miles west
of Turin. I do not like  letting you go, lad, and yet I feel it is
of such importance that the garrison should know that aid will be
at  hand before long, that I feel I ought not to prevent you from
carrying out your enterprise. When do you  think of starting?"

"At eight in the morning, sir. If we do so we shall easily reach
Chivasso before dark, and may be near Turin  by morning."

"I will have my note for the commandant ready by the time your
horses are at the door. I will make it as  small as possible, and
you had better before you start sew it up in the lining of your
coat, so that if you are  searched -- which I own I do not think
to be likely, unless in some other way you excite the suspicions
of  the Spaniards -- it may not be found upon you."

"I think, sir, that I would rather make it into a little pellet
which I can swallow. I fancy that if they were  suspicious enough
to search me they would rip all the linings open."

"That would be a better way certainly, Campbell; I see that you
have thought the matter over thoroughly.  Of course, you will take
no arms with you."

"Nothing but a long knife each. Every peasant carries one, and it
may be possible that we shall be  compelled to silence a sentinel.
If you would not mind, sir, I should like to have six copies of
your letter to  the commandant. I could manage to swallow six as
well as one, and as it is not likely that I shall be able to  enter
the citadel it would be as well to give them a better chance of
finding the letter if I have to try to shoot  or throw it in."

"That shall be done; we will use the thinnest paper, so that if
you have to swallow them you can do so  without difficulty."

"If I find that I cannot by any possibility get my message in through
the town, sir, I shall try to cross the  river and so make my way
in on that side."

"That would be even more dangerous than the other," Turenne said.
"On that side an even stricter watch is  likely to be kept than
on that facing the town, for the Spaniards know that the garrison
is not strong enough  to attempt any enterprise against the city,
while it might at any moment attempt to break out and march  away
on the other side.

"I own that I do not see myself how you can possibly succeed in
either case, but assuredly there must be  more chance on the side
of the town. I have been thinking it over, and will order a troop
of cavalry to ride  with you to Chivasso, for the Spanish horse
from time to time make forays from Turin, carry off prisoners,  and
burn villages. Until we are in a position to make a general advance
it is impossible to check these  attacks without keeping the whole
of our cavalry massed near Turin, and wearing out horses and men
by  the necessity for perpetual vigilance. And now, goodbye; may
fortune attend you!  Do not be too rash. The  letters shall be sent
you in an hour's time."

As they issued out from Susa they found the troop of cavalry awaiting
them. The officer in command was  well known to Hector, and said:

"So it is you that I am to escort to Chivasso, Monsieur Campbell?"

"Yes; I am sorry to give you occasion for so much trouble."

"No trouble at all; we have not been in the saddle for the past
week, and a ride to Chivasso will make a  pleasant change. Besides,
I have a brother in the garrison there, so that altogether I shall
be your debtor.  You see, we are not allowed to ride beyond St.
Ambrogio, or Rivoli at farthest, for once beyond that, we  should
be liable to be caught by the enemy's scouting parties. Of course
we have a strong force at Rivoli,  but except to drive off small
parties of the enemy who may venture to come up too close, they
are  forbidden to engage in any affairs. It is annoying, but one
can understand that the general is anxious to  avoid encounters in
which the enemy is sure to be superior in force, until his reinforcements
come up and  we are able to take the field in earnest."

"I do not think we shall be otherwise than inferior in force
even when our last regiment comes up," Hector  said.  "What with
Holland and the Rhine and the frontier of Spain, it is clear that
the cardinal must have as  much as he can do to enable all our
commanders to make head against the enemy, and it is no secret that
beyond one more regiment of cavalry that will arrive with Count
d'Harcourt, no other reinforcements are  likely to reach us for
some time to come.  But then, you see, we have Turenne as well
as d'Harcourt, and  each of them ought to count for two or three
thousand men."

"Well, I would rather fight against long odds," the officer said,
"than be kept here month after month doing  nothing.  Here is winter
coming on, and I suppose that will put a stop to everything."

"I should hardly think so," Hector replied. "I am sure that the
viscount is as eager for action as we are, and  winter here is not
the same thing as in Holland or on the Rhine.  From what I hear
there is very little snow  in the plains; and as the country is
generally flat, an army could march almost as easily as in summer,
and  in some respects they would be better off."

"How do you mean?"

"I mean that in summer the barns would be all empty of food until
filled again by the harvest, whereas in  winter they would be all
well stocked with forage for the cattle and horses."

"You are right, Monsieur Campbell. Certainly there should be
nothing to prevent our operating through the  winter, and I shall
look forward even more eagerly than I did before for d'Harcourt's
return. Will you come  back with us tomorrow from Chivasso?"

"That will depend upon circumstances. I think it is more probable
that I shall not return to Susa for a few  days; my orders are to
report myself to the governor."

No bodies of the enemy's cavalry were met with on the way, and at
four o'clock in the afternoon they rode  into Chivasso. They alighted
at the commandant's, and on stating that he was the bearer of a
despatch from  the general Hector was at once shown in. As he had
more than once ridden there with despatches from  Turenne, he was
known to the officer.

"We heard of the victory three days since," the latter said,
as Hector handed him the despatch, "and fired a  salvo of guns in
honour of it. An Italian deserter from the other side brought the
news. The two generals  were unwounded, I hope?"

"Yes, colonel, and our losses were altogether slight."

The commandant opened the despatch. He looked a little surprised
at its contents. "So you are going to  endeavour to pass a message
into the citadel. It is a difficult undertaking.  The enemy's watch
is a very  vigilant one. Once or twice during the siege men have
succeeded in swimming the Po and evading the  enemy's guards, but
of late these have been doubled, for it is thought that the garrison
may attempt to break  out. On the town side the firing has all but
ceased; they know that the store of provisions is almost  exhausted,
and regard it as a waste of powder and shot to continue their
cannonade, which only results in  the citadel answering it, and
that with very much more effect than the Spanish guns produce. May
I ask if  you have any plan of getting in?"

"No, sir, we must decide upon that when we see how matters stand."

"Who is the we?" the colonel asked.

"Myself and my servant, who is a very sharp and intelligent lad
whom I can thoroughly trust. Alone I could  do nothing, for I have
only picked up a few phrases in Italian yet, and should be detected
at once; so  anything that has to be said must be said by him.  May
I ask, sir, if the enemy are in force on the other side  of the
bridge? if so, we must cross by swimming, either above or below
it."

"No; there was a regiment there until three days ago, but they
marched away, and no doubt formed a  portion of Prince Thomas's
force. They know well enough that although our garrison can hold
the walls, we  are not strong enough to undertake any enterprise."

"Then, sir, we have only to ask for an escort for a mile or so beyond
the other side of the bridge, in case a  company should have been
left to watch the road. Beyond that we will dismount and proceed
on foot. We  will, if you please, put on our disguises here, with
the exception of our hats, and perhaps you will lend us a  couple
of long cloaks, so that our appearance may not be noticed. Although
we shall not start until after  dark, it is as well to be upon
the safe side. Maybe the enemy have spies in the town, and were
it noticed that  two young peasants rode out under the escort of
a troop of cavalry news might be sent to Turin. In that case  we
might be arrested as soon as we entered the city. I should be
obliged if you would give orders to the  officer in command that
one of the troopers should bring the horses, cloaks, and hats back
here with him."

The governor rang a bell, and on an orderly entering said: "Tell
Captain Sion to have his troop in readiness  to start in an hour's
time, in order to form an escort for one of Viscount Turenne's
officers, and tell him that  when he has the troop ready to start
he is to come to me for detailed orders. I have said an hour,
Monsieur  Campbell," he went on, after the orderly had left the
room, "because, in the first place, it is not yet dark,  and in
the second, it will take some twenty minutes to prepare a meal.
You will have a long night's work  before you, and I dare say you
have had nothing since you halted for breakfast."

"Thank you, colonel, I had not thought of it; but I should certainly
have remembered it before tomorrow  morning. We halted for breakfast
at eleven, and if it had not been for your kind offer we should
have had  no chance of getting anything till we entered Turin, and
even there the less we go into any cabarets the  better."

"That is true. I have sent a message to the cook that twenty minutes
is the utmost we can give for the  preparation of a meal."



CHAPTER IV:  SUCCESS


Although the governor apologized to Hector for the poorness of
the repast and the haste with which it had  been prepared, it was
really excellent, consisting of soup, some fish fresh from the
river, a cutlet, and an  omelette, with a bottle of good wine of
Asti. Paolo's wants had been attended to in the kitchen. It was
six  o'clock when they started. The officer in command had already
received his instructions, and the governor  accompanied Hector to
the door, where two horses were standing saddled.

"They are not your own," he said, "but are two of mine.  I thought
that yours had made a sufficiently long  journey today."

Thanking him for his kindness, Hector mounted, and took his place
by the side of Captain Simon, while  Paolo fell in with the orderlies
riding close behind.

"I presume, monsieur, that you are going to obtain some information
for Viscount Turenne. I don't want to  ask any questions as to the
nature of your mission, but as I have orders to bring back with
the horses your  cloaks and hats, I presume that in the first place
you are going on foot, and in the second, you are going in  disguise."

"Your judgment is correct, captain. The viscount wishes to obtain
certain information, and I am going to  fetch it for him, if I
can."

"I hope that you will be successful, sir. It is a good night for
travelling, the stars are bright and the moon  down, so that you
will have light enough to keep the road, and time enough to step
aside should you meet  any party who might be inclined to question
all passersby."

"Do you know the roads well about here?" Hector asked.

"I was stationed in Turin before the enemy came with too great a
force to be resisted."

"I want to strike across the country, and to come into the road
from Turin to Casale at a distance of three or  four miles from
the city."

"A mile or so away a road branches off from this which keeps by
the river. It is a mere country road, and  except in two or three
small villages that you will pass through, you are not likely
to meet with anyone  upon it. It is about eight miles to the main
road from the point where you turn off, and you will then be five
miles from Turin. It is just possible that you may meet patrols,
but I should think it very unlikely; now that  our army has gone
into winter quarters at Carignano, they are not likely to be very
vigilant."

As they rode along Hector related some of the incidents of the
late battle. No signs of the enemy were met  with, and the officer
presently said, "I am sorry to say that this is the point where you
leave us, monsieur. I  wish it had been a little farther, so that
I could hear more of the fight."

Hector and Paolo dismounted. Two troopers were called up and took
charge of their horses, while the  cloaks and hats were given to
the officer's orderly, then the two lads put on the Savoyard hats
they had  carried under their cloaks.  The officer took two packets
from his holster.

"The colonel bade me give this to you at starting," he said. "He
thought that after a long walk on foot you  would want some slight
refreshment before the inns were open in the morning."

"Will you please give him my hearty thanks for his thoughtfulness,"
Hector said, "and accept the same  yourself for your courtesy in
escorting me."

"Now we are fairly on our way, Paolo," he went on as he turned
down the lane, for it was little more; "this  package is a bottle
of wine, and the one that I have handed to you contains the eatables."

"That is good, master. We shall find it pretty cold before morning,
and there is nothing like a good meal to  warm one up again."

"Did you get the bow and arrows at Chivasso?"

"Yes, sir. I went out and bought them as soon as we got there. I
wanted them, I told the man, for a boy of  ten years old, but all
he had were a good deal too long, which I was glad of, for a child's
bow would hardly  have been strong enough, so I made him cut one
down until it was not more than three feet long. That way I  shall
be able, as we agreed, to carry it under my doublet. Of course it
will make me walk stiffly, and there  will be no possibility of
sitting down, but that matters not at all. It is all the stronger,
and will send an arrow  a good distance. I have got six arrows as
you ordered me. They are regular arrows, but I made the man  shorten
them so as to suit the bow, and then repoint them. I have got them
inside my doublet. I tied them  together, made a hole in the lining
under the arm, and put them in."

"You have not forgotten the cord, I hope, Paolo?"

"Not I, master. I should have deserved having my ears cut off if
I had done so."

They were in no hurry, and walked only fast enough to keep themselves
warm. In two hours and a half they  arrived at the main road and
turned to the right. "Now we will go another couple of miles, Paolo,
and then  look out for a sleeping place. An empty barn or stable
or a stack of fodder is what we want. We may as well  sleep warm
as cold. We shall not want to be moving on till seven o'clock."

After walking three miles they came upon a small village.

"Do you stay here, master, I will go round and see if I can find
a place. I am more accustomed to these  villages than you are."

In five minutes he returned. "I have found a capital place," he
said. "It is a stable, but it is empty. No doubt  the Spaniards
have taken the horses, and are using them in their transport wagons."

"It is enough for us that the place is empty, Paolo."

The door stood ajar. They entered and closed it behind them, and
they then felt about until they found a pile  of rough fodder.
They pulled some of this aside, lay down and covered themselves up
with the stalks they  had removed, and in three minutes were fast
asleep, for they had had a long day's work. Hector slept until
he was awakened by Paolo, who said, "The day is breaking, and the
village will be astir in a few minutes."  The weather had changed,
and as they stepped out fine flakes of snow were drifting through
the air, and the  ground was already whitened. They regained the
road and walked along until they came to a wood.

"We may as well wait here and breakfast, Paolo." The parcel was
opened and found to contain a cold capon  and some bread, and on
these and the wine they made a capital breakfast, each taking a
long sip at the  bottle to the health of the colonel. "The market
people are beginning to come along, and we may as well  buy
something from them going in. If we have not something to sell
it is not unlikely that we shall be asked  questions." It was now
broad daylight, and they saw several peasants pass along the road,
some with  baskets, others driving a pig or a goat.

"Either of these would do," Hector said; "but we don't know where
the market is, and it would never do to  seem ignorant of that."
The snow had stopped suddenly some minutes before, and the sun was
now shining.

"That is lucky," Hector said as they walked down towards the road,
"we may hope that there will be no  more snow and that the sun will
soon melt what has fallen. It would be fatal to us if the ground
were white,  for the most careless sentry could not help seeing us
upon it."

They reached the road just as a peasant came along.  He was an old
man, and was dragging behind him a  pile of faggots, which were
placed upon two rough poles. He was walking between these, holding
two ends  in his hands, while the others trailed along on the ground
behind.

"Bargain with him, Paolo."

"That is a heavy load, father," the latter said.

"Ay, it is heavy."

"How much do you expect to get for your faggots in the town?"

"I shall get a crown," the man said. "I would not take under, and
they ought to be worth more than that now  the snow has begun to
fall."

"We are going into the town," Paolo said. "We are younger than you,
and between us we could drag it  along easily. I have got a crown
in my pocket to buy some things with. I don't mind giving it to
you for  your load. If I can sell the faggots for a few soldi over
that we shall be able to buy something for  ourselves."

"It is a bargain, lad," the old man said. "I am getting old and the
rheumatism is in my bones, and I shall be  very glad to be spared
the journey; so give me your money and take the poles. I hope you
will be  successful, and sell them a little higher. You had better
ask a crown and a half. The women are sure to beat  you down, but
you will make ten or twelve soldi for yourselves."

Paolo handed the crown to the old man.

"How had we better take this, Paolo?" Hector asked, as the old man,
chuckling with satisfaction at having  escaped a toilsome journey,
turned to retrace his steps.

"There is room for us both between the shafts," Paolo said, "one
behind the other. It would be much easier  to walk holding both
poles than for us both to take one, as in that way the weight will
be balanced on each  side of us."

There was indeed just room between the ends of the poles and the
pile of brushwood for them to walk close  behind each other, and
as the greater portion of the weight rested on the other ends of
the poles they did not  find the burden a heavy one.

"How are we going to sell these, Paolo?"

"We shall have no difficulty in selling them, master. This frost
will set every housewife on the lookout for  wood, and you will
find that we sha'n't have to go far before we are accosted."

It was two miles from the spot where they had bought the faggots
to the gates of Turin.

"I sha'n't be sorry to get rid of this load," Hector said.  "It is
not the weight but the roughness of the poles.  My hands are quite
chafed by them."

"Loose your hold for a bit, master. My hands have been accustomed
to rough work, and many a load of  faggots have I drawn in my time."

"I will hold on, Paolo. It is not more than a quarter of a mile
farther. My hands have done plenty of work,  too, but it has been
done with smooth handled weapons. It is well that they should become
accustomed to  harder work."

They passed without a question through the gate, and following the
example of other vendors of wood, of  whom they saw several, Paolo
began to shout, "Large faggots for sale!"

It was not long before a door opened and a woman beckoned him.

"How much do you want for the whole?"

"A crown and a half," Paolo said.

"I have been offered as many for a crown," the woman replied.

"Then, signora, you did wrong to refuse. It took two days' work
to cut them, and we have dragged them  here for miles. Two crowns
would not pay for the labour. Not one scudo would I take under
the price that I  have named. Why, if the town is besieged these
faggots would be worth twenty crowns before the winter is  over."

"Well, I will give you the money," the woman said. "It is extortionate.
Generally I can buy them at half that  price."

"I do not say no to that," Paolo laughed, "but with two armies
wanting firewood and cutting down the  copses without even taking
trouble to ask leave of their owners, I think that you will see
firewood very  scarce in the city before long."

"Well, carry it in and pile it in the yard."

This was soon done, the poles were thrown on to the top of the
heap, and the boys went off along the street  again.

"We have made half a crown for ourselves," Paolo laughed; "now we
must decide how we shall spend it."

"It would be a good plan to spend some money anyhow," Hector said.
"What kind of things would you be  likely to buy for your family
in the country?"

"Well, I should say a cooking pan to begin with, and a few yards
of warm stuff for making my mother a  skirt."

"Well, buy the cooking pan first and sling it across your shoulder,
and then as we wander about we can  look in the shops and it will
seem as if we were on the search for articles that we had been told
to purchase;  it would be better than sauntering about without any
apparent object. But first let us walk briskly towards  the side
of the town facing the citadel.  The Strada Vecchia is the one that
I want to examine first."

The knowledge that he had gained from the plan of the city enabled
Hector to find the street without their  having to ask any questions.

"Now, buy your cooking pan at the next smith's shop you come to,
and then we can go slowly along  making our observations."

They soon found that the street they had entered was, for the most
part, deserted by its inhabitants. The  shops were all closed,
the road was strewn with fallen chimneys and balconies, and here
and there were  yawning holes showing how severely the street had
suffered when the artillery duel was going on between  the guns on
the walls and those of the citadel. A short distance down the street
a chain was stretched across  it, and here a musketeer was pacing
up and down on guard. Two others could be seen at the farther end
of  the street, where there was a gateway in the wall, now closed
up with sandbags piled thickly against it.

"We will see if the other streets are similarly guarded."

This was found to be so, sentries being placed in every street
running down to the wall in this quarter.

"So far so good, Paolo. I do not think that matters could have been
better for us. The next thing is to buy a  tool with which we can
wrench open a door or the shutter of a window; but a door will be
best, because we  could not work at a shutter without running the
risk of being seen by a sentinel, while in a doorway we  should be
screened from observation. These houses in the Strada Vecchia are
old, and the doors ought not  to give us much trouble."

"Some of these old locks are very strong, master. I should think
that it would be easier to cut out one of the  panels than to force
the door open."

"Possibly it would, but it is not an easy thing to get the saw to
work. We should have to bore a hole large  enough for the saw to go
through before we could use it. However, we will buy both a saw and
a crowbar;  as they are both things that are useful to woodcutters,
your buying them will not appear suspicious, nor will  the purchase
of an auger, but we had better get them at different shops."

Leaving that part of the town they re-entered the streets where
business was being carried on as usual.

"We won't buy the things until late in the afternoon, Paolo. There
would be no advantage in dragging them  about all day."

They sauntered about the streets for some hours, then Paolo went
into a small baker's and bought two  loaves of coarse bread. At
another shop he purchased some cheese, and with these they sat down
on a stone  bench in the principal square and leisurely ate their
food and looked on at the crowd, which consisted  principally of
soldiers, Spanish veterans, stiff in carriage and haughty in manner,
together with others,  horse and foot, belonging to the contingent
of the Duke of Milan, an ally of the Spanish. Among these were
townspeople, the younger ones chatting with each other or with
ladies of their acquaintance; the middle  aged and older men talking
gravely together as they walked up and down.

Among these there was an air of gloom and depression.  The state
of panic in which the troops of Prince  Thomas, who had marched
out confident that they were about to annihilate the French, had
returned, and  the knowledge that the Marquis of Leganez had also
failed, had created a feeling of the deepest disquiet  among that
portion of the population who had taken a leading part in throwing
off the authority of the  duchess and in acknowledging that of Prince
Thomas.  They had regarded her cause as lost, but the  vigorous
steps that France was taking to assist her had caused uneasiness;
and if, while as yet a  comparatively small force had arrived,
these had shown so bold a front, had captured Chieri in the face
of a  powerful army, had revictualled Casale, had defeated Prince
Thomas and forced their way past the array of  Leganez, it might
well be that in the spring, when reinforcements reached them, they
might even defeat the  Spaniards and lay siege to Turin itself. The
boys remained where they were until it began to grow dusk,  when,
after buying at three shops a saw, a crowbar, and an auger, they went
and sat down on a doorway in  a quiet street until eight o'clock.
Then they took their way to the Strada Vecchia. It was entirely
deserted.  Lights showed in one or two of the windows, but, except
that they could hear the tread of the nearest sentry,  all was
silent. Taking off their wooden shoes they moved cautiously along,
keeping close to the houses.   The fourth they came to had an
unusually deep doorway, and they decided at once that this would
suit their  purpose.  First they tried with the crowbar, but the
lock held firmly.

"We will try another way, Paolo. If the door yields, it will go
with a crash, and the sentry might come down  to see what had caused
the noise. We had better take out this lower panel; we shall want
four holes bored  touching each other to make one large enough for
the saw to enter."

The wood was of oak, and it took Paolo fully five minutes to make
the holes.

"Now give me the auger," Hector said when it was found that the
hole was large enough for the saw to pass  through.

"I will begin at the bottom of the panel while you saw away at the
top."

Paolo had done his share by the time the holes along the bottom
were ready for the saw.

"Now you take the auger again," Hector said. "We have not done
half our work yet. The holes must be  made on each side. There is
no turning the saw."

It took them an hour and a half of hard work before the last cut
was completed and the panel fell forward.

"You go in first, Paolo. I will follow you, and will wedge the
panel into its place again with some of the  chips that the auger
has cut out. No one has passed since we began, and if anyone did
come along before  morning he would not be likely to notice that
the panel was gone. Still it is as well to avoid all risk."

As soon as the panel was replaced they mounted the stairs. Before
beginning they had seen that there were  no lights in any of the
windows, and feeling sure that the house was deserted they groped
their way upstairs  without hesitation until they reached the
attics in the sloping roof.  They entered one of these facing the
street, opened the casement, in which oiled paper took the place
of glass, and stepped down on to the  parapet. Their course was now
easy.  The divisions between the houses were marked by walls some
six feet  high extending from the edge of the parapet over the
roof. They were able to climb these, however, without  having to
use their cord, one helping the other up and then being assisted
by him. They had left the cooking  pan and their tools, with
the exception of the crowbar, behind them, and had fastened their
wooden shoes  round their necks. The sun during the day had melted
the snow that had fallen in the morning, but light  flakes were
again beginning to come down fast.

"I don't care how hard it snows as long as it keeps on," Hector
said in a low voice in answer to an  exclamation from Paolo when
the first flake fell upon his face. "The harder the better, for in
that case no  sentry could see us half a dozen paces away. There
is another advantage. The wind is from the north, and  we have
only to keep the driving snow on our right cheeks to make our way
straight to the fortress, whereas  with an overcast sky on such a
dark night as this we should very soon lose all idea of the direction
that we  were going in."

Being obliged to use great caution to avoid noise while getting
over the walls, it took them half an hour to  reach the end of the
street. They had, while waiting before commencing their operations,
twisted one of  their sashes, and then wound it round the hook so
thickly that this would fall almost noiselessly upon the  ground.
The snow prevented them from seeing six feet below them, but they
felt sure that there must be a  narrow lane between the house and
the wall.  They had during the day bought a length, equal to that
of their  rope, of strong string.

"I have got it as you ordered it, master," Paolo said as they came
out of the shop, "but it would never bear  our weight."

"I think it might do in case of necessity," Hector said.  "In fact,
I am sure it would. It does not require a  great thickness of new
cord to hold a man's weight; but I don't want it for that."

Paolo walked silently along for some time, and then said:  "If it
is not wanted to carry our weight, master, I  cannot think what it
is wanted for."

"It is wanted to get the hook down with. You see when we get down
into the street there would be little  chance of getting the hook
off its hold. We shall most likely want it again, and certainly we
shall want the  rope. I have been puzzling over it, and I think I
have found a way at last. My idea is to fasten this thin rope  to
the point of the hook, then, on pulling upon it the point will
rise until it gets level with the top of the wall  on which it is
fixed, and we can then shake it down without difficulty. I don't
know whether it will act, but I  think that it ought to do so; an
upward pull at the point must, I should think, lift it as far as
the edge."


"I should think that it must," Paolo agreed. "I should never have
thought of that."

"We will try it on this last division wall. I have no doubt about
it myself, because even if it did not pull it  quite to the top
the thing would be so canted over that I think it would fall from
its own weight."

They now attached the string to the point, fixed the hook to the
top of the wall, and then pulled upon the  string.  The hook at
once fell to their feet.

"That is capital," Hector said. "Now we can go to work.  We need
carry this crowbar no farther. In the first  place we will cross
this roof and other roofs as far as we can go; the sentry at the
corner is probably  standing up for shelter in a doorway, and we
may as well get as far as we can from him, and at the same  time
not go far enough to get near the one at the next corner."

After one or two attempts the hook became fixed on the ridge of the
roof, and they at once climbed up,  unfastened the hook, and slid
down on the now snow covered tiles. Two more roofs were crossed in
the  same way, and then they prepared to descend. They had, when
they put on their disguises, tied knots in the  rope at a distance
of a foot apart.  They now adjusted the hook on the parapet.

"Shall I go first, master, or will you?"

"I will go first, though in fact it matters little which of us does
it; but first I must warm my fingers. I don't  think that I could
trust to them at present."

He gathered a handful of snow, made it into a ball, and held it
in his hands until the cold pained him, then  he dropped the snow
and thrust his hands up the sleeves of his doublet. Paolo looked
on in astonishment,  but having great faith in his master imitated
his example.

"That is a curious way of warming the hands," he said.

"I daresay you have made snowballs in your time, Paolo, and if you
have you will remember that, although  it made your hands bitterly
cold at first, after you had done they soon became almost as hot
as fire."

"I do remember that, master, but I should never have thought of it
as a way of warming our hands."

For a minute or two there was a sharp pain as the blood began to
rush into the fingers, and when this passed  off their hands were
in a glow. Hector took the rope, lowered himself over the parapet,
and then began to  descend. When halfway down the darkness became
more intense than before, and he knew that he was now  below
the level of the outer wall. When he reached the ground he shook
the rope as a signal, and then,  stretching his arms before him,
crossed the lane. It was but a step, for the house stood but five
feet back  from the wall. He waited until Paolo joined him, then he
drew on the thin rope and, to his satisfaction, he  felt it yield.

"Stand aside," he said, "it is heavy enough to give one a nasty
thump."

Paolo withdrew a few paces, then Hector gave another pull. The rope
gave way at once. He flattened  himself against the house, and the
hook fell with a dull thud a foot or two away.

"Coil up the rope, Paolo, and then feel along the wall to the right;
don't go too far. I will go to the left, there  may be some steps
up to the rampart."

This proved to be the case, and together they made their way up
quietly, but even had they had their shoes  on, the snow was already
sufficiently deep to deaden their footsteps. On reaching the top
they stood silent  for a minute or two. Presently they heard the
sound of heavy stamping of feet. They turned at once to  descend,
if necessary, the steps they had mounted, then Hector put his hand
upon the other's shoulder and  whispered, "It is the sentry trying
to warm his feet; no doubt he is standing up somewhere to shelter
himself  from the snow; let us go on at once."

They crossed the rampart, fastened the hook on the top of the wall,
and descended, and were again  successful in bringing the rope down
after them.

"Go carefully, Paolo; no doubt there is a moat somewhere here." There
was, however, no necessity for  caution, for the white surface of
the snow was soon broken by a black line.

"It will be awfully cold," Paolo said, with teeth that chattered
at the prospect.

"Of course you can swim, Paolo?"

"Not very well, master."

"Then I will go first. You fasten the rope under your arms, and I
will haul you across. Be sure you do not  make a noise in getting
into the water. But first of all take off your doublet, I will carry
it and mine across  on my head. It cannot be many yards across.
The wind will soon dry the rest of our things, and once our  work
is done we can warm ourselves by running. I would say strip altogether,
but we may have to do  another swim; for, as we agreed, there is
no chance of our being able to return by the way we came.

Fastening the two doublets on his head, Hector lowered himself into
the water, which was three feet below  the level on which they
stood. He had fastened the rope across his shoulder. As he expected,
he found the  water out of his depth, and at once struck out to
the opposite side. It was about forty feet across. He found,  on
reaching the other side, that the wall was there nearly five feet
above the water.  He undid the rope and  threw up the hook. At the
second attempt it caught, and he climbed the side, and then in a
low voice told  Paolo to start. Presently he heard a slight splash,
followed by a gasp. He hauled away rapidly on the rope,  and in a
couple of minutes Paolo stood beside him, shivering and gasping.

"Put your doublet on. Now let us go forward as fast as we can."
They climbed the steep slope to the top of  the glacis, and then
ran down until they were brought to a standstill by another moat.

"This is the one marked in the plan as dividing the fortifications
of the town from those of the citadel. Now  we have another swim
before us. It is wider than the last, but is really no distance.
Give me your doublet  again."

"I don't mind this so much," Paolo said. "I cannot be colder than
I am."

"Don't try to swim, Paolo; lie on your back, with your mouth just
out of water. I will have you over in no  time."

It was fully fifty yards across; but, accustomed to bathe in almost
icy cold water, the swim was nothing to  Hector, who was soon
across, and who then towed Paolo over as before. They mounted
another glacis, and  presently reached the edge of a third moat.

"We need go no farther. I know that this moat is but some fifteen
yards from the foot of the fortifications.  Now, get the arrows
out. Cut off a foot or two of the thin cord, and unravel it. I must
warm my fingers  again first, I cannot use them at all."

"Mine are pretty cold, too." And both lads warmed them as before.
Paolo then set to work to string the bow,  which required all his
strength to accomplish. While he was doing so, Hector drew from his
pouch the six  little pellets, and taking the arrows, straightened
out each pellet, wrapped it round an arrow, and secured it  firmly
with a small strand from the string. When he had done this, he took
the bow from Paolo, fitted an  arrow to the string, drew it with
his full strength, and then, pointing the arrow high, loosed it.
The six  arrows were sent off. Just as the last was discharged there
was a shout of "Who is there? Speak, or I fire!" It  was a sentry
on the wall, who had caught the sound of the twang of the bow.

"I am a friend, a messenger from the French general," Hector
replied. "I have just shot six arrows into the  fortress; a message
is attached to each for the governor.  Report to the officer, and
have a search made for  them in the morning.

"That is a piece of good luck," he went on as they turned away. "I
thought of shouting, but we might have  got a shot in reply, and
I made sure that one or other of the arrows would be picked up.
Still, this makes  certain of it."

"I think I would rather stop out here until morning," Paolo said,
"then they will take me in. I am afraid I  shall never get across
the river."

"Nonsense!  The water is low, and we are not likely to have to swim
farther than we did in crossing the last  moat.  Getting through
the part of the town between us and the river is a more serious
matter. However, it is  not very far across, and they are not likely
to be very vigilant."

They turned to the right, and kept along at the edge of the moat,
until Hector considered that they had made  a fourth of the circuit of
the walls, and were now facing the river. They had decided before
that this would  be the easiest side on which to leave the town.
The sentinels would not expect that anyone attempting to  enter
or leave the citadel would try to do so here; as, in addition to
passing the wall facing the fortress and  that bordering the river,
they would be obliged to swim the river itself. The snow was falling
as quickly as  ever, and the wind blowing fiercely.

"There is no fear of their seeing us, unless we happen to run into
the very arms of the sentry," Hector said  encouragingly; "we shall
only have the moat to swim; and as, according to the plan, it is
nothing like so  wide as that we passed before, we shall have no
trouble with it."

"Ah! here it is," Paolo groaned.

"Nonsense!" Hector said. "One cold bath more or less makes no
difference now. There, give me your coat  again, and I will take
it over."

The moat was indeed but some twelve yards across, and in two or
three minutes Paolo stood shivering on  the other side.

"The edge is not far from the wall, not much more than the breadth
of the moat. Give me the cord."

A few steps and they reached the wall. After two attempts the hook
caught, and Hector climbed up. He was  looking back to watch Paolo
when he was suddenly seized from behind, and a deep voice in Italian
said, "If  you move I will kill you. Who are you?"

With a sudden effort Hector twisted himself round and seized the
disengaged wrist of his opponent, which  he doubted not held a
dagger. The man loosened his hold of his doublet and tried to grasp
his neck, but  Hector in a moment leapt forward and threw his arm
round the man's waist. They wrestled backwards and  forwards, but
the soldier was a powerful man, and Hector found that he could not
long retain a grasp of his  wrist. Suddenly he felt his antagonist
collapse; the dagger dropped from his hand, the other arm relaxed
its  hold, and he fell a lifeless mass.

"Thank you, Paolo. You were but just in time. The fellow was too
strong for me. Now let us slip down the  inside of the wall as
quickly as possible."

A minute later they both stood at the foot of the wall, the hook
was shaken off, and they proceeded along  the wall until they came
to a street.

"It is not more than two or three hundred yards to the outer wall,"
Hector whispered.

Whether there were sentinels or not in the street they knew not.
If so, they had withdrawn themselves into  deep doorways to avoid
the blinding snow, and the wind drowned the slight sound made by
their feet on the  soft snow.

In a short time they reached the outer wall, crept along it until
they found the steps leading up, crossed it in  safety, fixed their
hook, and rapidly descended. A run of fifty yards brought them to
the edge of the river  bank.

"We will try to find a boat," Hector said. "There are sure to be
some along here."

They walked across the dry bed of the river till they reached the
water's edge, and then followed this. In a  few minutes, to their
delight, they came upon a boat. The bow was hauled a few feet out
of water, and a  rope, doubtless attached to a heavy stone anchor,
stretched from its bows.  This they cut, put their shoulders  to the
gunwale, and soon had her afloat. Then they scrambled in, put the
oars out cautiously, and began to  row. Both had had some practice
at the exercise, and it was not long before the boat grounded on
the  opposite shore.

"Pull it up a bit," Hector said. "No doubt it belongs to some poor
fisherman to whom its loss would be  serious. Now we must keep
along the bank for some distance, until quite sure that we are well
beyond any  patrols the enemy may have on the road. Let us get into
a run, Paolo, and see if we can't get our blood in  motion again,
for I own that I feel half frozen."

They set off at a brisk trot, which they kept up for half an hour,
and then they struck off from the river and  soon found the road.
Following this, after an hour's walking they came upon a little
shed by the roadside,  and in one corner found a pile of old sacks.

"We are in luck again!" Hector exclaimed joyfully.  "Tired as I
am, I don't think that I could have slept in  these wet clothes, if
one can call them wet -- at present they are frozen stiff. These
sacks are the very thing.  We can strip now and wring out our clothes
thoroughly. There are enough sacks here to lay under us and  cover
us too. After wringing out the shirts we will put them in under the
sacks next to us.  The heat of our  bodies will dry them to some
extent, and they will be warm to put on in the morning. The other
things we  can pile over us. There is no chance of their getting
dry; but I am so pleased with our success that I am not  disposed
to grumble at trifles."



CHAPTER V:  THE RELIEF OF THE CITADEL


As soon as the first gleam of daylight showed itself Hector and
his companion were on their feet again.

The operation of dressing was by no means a comfortable one, for the
frost had set in in earnest during the  night, and their clothes,
with the exception of the shirts, were as stiff as boards. The snow
had ceased and  the sky was clear.

"It is going to be a fine day, master," Paolo said as they left
the hut.

"That is better than battling with a snowstorm such as that of
yesterday evening. Come on, Paolo, let us trot  for a bit. The snow
is four inches deep, and we shall soon get warm running through
it."

In a quarter of an hour they broke into a walk again, panting from
their exertions.

"I am as warm as a toast now, Paolo. There is a village half a mile
ahead. I expect that lies on the road. The  sun will be up before
we get there, and no doubt we shall be able to get some hot spiced
wine and some  bread at a wineshop."

This turned out to be the case. They had settled what story to
tell; and when the landlord asked what  brought them there so early,
Paolo said that they had been on the road a couple of hours, as
they were going  to see an aunt who was ill at Chivasso, and their
father wanted them back again that night. The explanation  satisfied
the host and he asked no further questions, and in ten minutes they
were on their way again,  greatly warmed and comforted by their
meal, and after walking for another hour and a half they arrived
at  the bridge of Chivasso. There was a strong guard at the bridge
head, for at any moment the garrison of  Turin, aided by a force
from Leganez's army, might endeavour to carry the town by a sudden
assault. The  lads passed the bridge unquestioned, entered the gate
of the town, and made their way to the commandant's  house.

"What do you want?" the sentry at the door asked as they came up.

The regiment was French, and Hector answered at once:

"We want to see the governor, we have important news for him."

The soldier was greatly surprised, for he had not expected his
question to be understood by these peasant  boys.

"Sergeant," he called out, "here are two peasant boys who speak
French. They want to see the governor,  and say that they have news
of importance to give him."

A sergeant came out.

"Sergeant," Hector went on quietly, "you will please tell the
governor that the two persons he sent out  under an escort the
evening before last, wish to see him."

By the tone of assurance in which the lad spoke, rather than by his
words, the sergeant saw that there was  something more than appeared
on the surface, and at once took up the message. He returned almost
immediately. "Please to follow me," he said, and led the way up to
the governor's room.

"Welcome back again, Monsieur Campbell! You have returned sooner
than I expected. You found, of  course, that the difficulties were
insuperable?"

"On the contrary, sir, we have been successful, and have communicated
with the garrison of the citadel."

"You have!" the governor exclaimed in astonishment.  "How on earth
did you manage it? I heard that the  watch was so strict that it
was absolutely impossible for a message to be sent through."

"It was not very difficult after all, and we were greatly favoured
by the snowstorm." He then gave an  account of how they had managed
it.

"Pardieu!" he exclaimed, "that was admirably done; but I am keeping
you talking while you are sitting in  your wet clothes."

"I think they are quite dry now, sir; and we have walked so fast
that we are both thoroughly warm. Still, I  own that I shall not
be sorry to change them for my own."

The governor rose and opened the door. "Your clothes are all
hanging up in that closet. I will have some  hot water sent up at
once. I shall be breakfasting in half an hour, so you will have
time to change  comfortably."

Hector was even more glad of a thorough wash than of a change of
clothes, and went down to join the  governor at breakfast, feeling
greatly refreshed.

"Shall I wait on you, master?"

"No, it is not necessary, Paolo; you had better go into the kitchen
at once. I have no doubt the governor has  ordered them to attend
to your wants as he did before."

Four other officers had just arrived on the invitation of the governor
to breakfast; one of these was the  captain who had commanded the
escort.

"Gentlemen," the commandant said, "let me introduce to you Monsieur
Campbell, a lieutenant on the staff  of Viscount Turenne. He has
just returned after having successfully carried out a most dangerous
and  difficult mission, namely, that of communicating with the
garrison of Turin."

The officers gave an exclamation of surprise, while Captain Simon
stepped forward and shook hands  warmly with Hector.

"You did not tell me exactly what you were going to do," he said.
"I thought that it was to see some of the  duchess's adherents
in Turin, but I never dreamt that you were going to attempt to
communicate with the  citadel. Had I known that, I certainly should
not have expected to see you again, for from what we have  heard
it is next to impossible to get through the enemy's lines."

"We will not trouble Monsieur Campbell until he has finished his
breakfast," the commandant said. "He has  already told me briefly
how he managed, but I shall be as glad as you will to have the
details."

Accordingly, after breakfast Hector related at much greater length
the story that he had told the governor of  the manner in which
the mission had been carried out.

"Ma foi!" the colonel said, "I would rather have faced a battery
than swum those moats in such weather.  Well, gentlemen, I think
that you will agree with me that Monsieur de Turenne is fortunate
in having so  brave and enterprising an officer on his staff."

The officers cordially assented.

"I wonder that you did not enter the citadel and stay there till
the convoy arrived."

"In the first place, colonel, I had received no orders to do so,
and the general might require me for other  service.  And in the
second place, had I not returned he would not have known whether
his message had  reached the garrison, and so might have hurried on
his preparations more hastily than he otherwise would  have done,
and might, in his fear that the garrison would surrender, have made
the attempt before he had  collected sufficient food to last them
until he was in a position to raise the siege."

"Your reasons are good ones; but certainly, with shelter and warmth
close at hand -- for the sentry would  speedily have passed the
word along, and as soon as it was ascertained that you were indeed
a French  officer, and alone, the gates would have been opened for
you -- it must have required no small effort to turn  away and to
face the danger of passing the sentries and scaling the walls, of
possibly having to swim the  Po, and of certainly having no chance
of getting a change of clothes until you arrived here, for you
could  not have calculated upon finding the shed, much less those
sacks, with the snow falling heavily."

"That was a piece of good fortune, indeed. If we had not found it,
we should have gone on walking until we  got here. Still, we had
had little sleep the night before, and were heartily glad that we
had no farther to go.  And now, sir, with your permission we will
start for Susa at once."

"Your escort returned yesterday, but I will send a troop of cavalry
with you."

"Thank you, sir, but I do not think that there is any necessity
for it. We are very well mounted, and should  we see any party of
the enemy's cavalry I think that we ought to be able to outdistance
them. I shall be glad,  colonel, if you and your officers will say
nothing about the manner in which I communicated with the  garrison,
as doubtless the enemy have spies here; and if the story comes out
and reaches the ears of the  authorities at Turin, I should have
no chance whatever of making my way in, in the same manner, should
the general entrust me with another mission to communicate with
the citadel."

A quarter of an hour later Hector and Paolo mounted and rode out of
the town. They kept a vigilant  lookout, and traveled by byroads,
but they saw none of the enemy's parties, and reached Susa late
that  afternoon. On sending in his name to Turenne, Hector was at
once shown into his room.

"I did not expect you back for another three or four days, Campbell,"
the general said, "and I am heartily  glad to see you again safe
and sound. I blamed myself for letting you go. Of course, as I
expected, you  found the task an altogether impossible one. Had it
been otherwise you would not have been back so soon."

"On the contrary, general, for I should have tried many plans
before I gave it up. As it is, I have only to  report that I have
carried out your instructions, and that your despatches are in the
hands of the garrison of  the citadel."

"You do not say so!" Turenne said, rising from the table at which
he had been sitting writing when Hector  entered, and shaking him
warmly by the hand. "I congratulate both you and myself on your
having  performed a mission that seemed well nigh hopeless. But by
what miracle did you succeed in passing  through the enemy's lines?
All who have tried it before have either died in the attempt or have
returned to  tell me that it was an absolutely impossible one."

"It would have been very difficult, general, had not the weather
favoured us. The snowstorm drove the  sentries into shelter, and
even had they remained at their posts they could not have seen us
five yards  away."

"No, I can understand that once beyond the wall you might in such
a storm make your way unnoticed up to  the fortress; but I understood
that not only were there guards on the walls and down near the
great moat, but  that there were also sentries in all the streets
leading to the walls, and that none were allowed to pass along  those
leading to the walls facing the citadel. Tell me how you managed
it."

"The story is a long one, sir."

"Never mind how long it is; give me all details. I am not particularly
busy at present, and I would fain  know exactly how this feat has
been accomplished."

Hector told his story at length. Beyond asking a question now
and then, Turenne remained silent until he  had brought it to a
conclusion.

"I have never heard a story that interested me more," he said, "and
I do not know which to admire more,  your ingenuity in planning
this affair or the hardihood and courage with which you carried it
out. Even had  there been no enemy to get through, the adventure
of letting yourself down by a rope from the housetop and  then from
the battlements, swimming three moats, crossing the river in such
terrible weather, and finally  making your way to Chivasso in your
frozen clothes, is no slight feat of endurance. The service that
you  have rendered is a great one, the manner in which you have
carried it out is worthy of the highest praise,  and I shall at once
make out your commission as captain.  You are still a year behind
me," he added with a  smile, "but if you go on in this way, you bid
fair to obtain a regiment as soon as I did. You have nearly four
years to do it in. Tomorrow you will dictate your story in full to
my secretary. I shall be sending a  messenger with despatches on
the following day. I shall mention that I have promoted you to the
rank of  captain, and that the story of the action that you have
performed, which I shall inclose, will fully explain  my reason
for so speedily advancing you. No, I require no thanks; you have
to thank yourself only. I may  consider that you have not only done
me but the state a service. Your servant deserves a reward also.
Here  are twenty pistoles; tell him not to throw them away, but to
lay them by where some day they will be useful  to him."

Paolo was astonished indeed when Hector handed him the general's
present. He could at first hardly believe  that it was meant for
him.

"Why, master," he said, "it would buy me a farm up in the hills!"

"Not a very large one, Paolo, but I daresay that you will add to
it; still, this is a good beginning, and some  more opportunities
may come in your way."

"What shall I do with them, master?"

"That I cannot say. Certainly you cannot carry them about with you.
Do you know anyone to whom you  could entrust them?"

Paolo shook his head. "There is never any knowing who is an honest
man and who is not," he said. "I will  bury them, master."

"But somebody might find them."

"No fear of that, sir. I will go a bit up the valley and bury them
under a big rock well above the river, so  that it will not be
reached in the highest floods. They might lie there a hundred years
without anyone  finding them, even if every soul in Susa knew that
they were hidden somewhere and went out to search for  them."

"Very well; but be sure you take notice of the exact position of
the stone, or you may not be able to find it  again yourself. One
big stone is a good deal like another. Choose a stone with a tree
growing near it, and  make a cross with your knife on the bark. That
will serve as a guide to you, and you would recognize the  stone
by it even if you could not find it in any other way."

"Thank you, master. I will go out tomorrow morning and choose my
stone, and then when it begins to get  dark I will go out and bury
my money there. It would not do to hide it in the daytime, for even
were there  no one on the road someone upon the hills might catch
sight of me and come down afterwards to see what I  was disposing
of."

"Well, I think that that is the best thing that you can do, Paolo.
There is certainly a danger in leaving it in  anyone's hands, for
when you return to claim it, perhaps some years hence, you might
find that he was  dead, or the place might be captured and burned
down. Yes, I think that hiding it is the safest way. You will  be
pleased to hear that the general has given me a commission as
captain."

"That is good news, indeed," the boy said. "I was just going
to ask, master, what he had done for you,  because, though I went
with you, it was you who planned the business, and I only did as
you told me."

"You had something to do with the planning, too, Paolo.  However,
I think that we may both feel well  content with the rewards that
we have obtained for two days' work."

As Hector went out he met de Lisle and Chavigny.

"Well met!" the former exclaimed. "We have just left the general,
and he has told us what you have done,  and that he has made you
a captain in consequence. We were just coming to look for you to
carry you off to  supper in honour of your promotion."

"You deserve it, if anyone ever did, there is no doubt of that,"
Chavigny said heartily. "We are quite proud  of our comrade."

"It seems absurd that I should be a captain."

"Not absurd at all," Chavigny said. "Turenne was a captain when
he was a year younger than you are, and  there is many a noble who
has been made a colonel before he ever drew sword in battle."

Hector was much pleased at the evidently genuine congratulations of
his companions. He had indeed rather  feared that they would take
his promotion ill; being nearly five years his senior, and having
served in two  previous campaigns, they might well feel hurt at
his being promoted while they still remained only  lieutenants. The
young nobles indeed felt no shade of jealousy. It was but of late
that there had been a  regular army, for the nobles still brought
their tenants and retainers to the field and supported them at
their  own expense.

To de Lisle and Chavigny these grades of military rank were of no
account whatever. The rank of colonel  would add in no way to their
position as members of noble families.  They fought for honour,
and against  the enemies of France.  They were always addressed
by their family name, and would both have resented  being called
lieutenant. They were proud of being Turenne's aides-de-camp, but
had no thought of  remaining in the army after the war was over, as
they would then resume their place at court. They had both  taken
a strong liking to their young comrade, whose manner of thought
differed so widely from their own.  They appreciated the merits of
the action of which their general had spoken in such warm terms,
and the  fact that in point of military rank he was now above them
concerned them in no way. It was a merry supper  at the best hotel
in Susa.

"You see now, de Lisle," Chavigny said, "the advantage of taking
a morning dip in snow water. Neither  you nor I would have swum
across those moats, and remained all night long in our wet clothes,
for a  thousand crowns."

"No, no, nor for five thousand," the other laughed.  "Pass me the
wine; it makes me shiver to think of it. I  fancy we may as well
admit at once that if the mission had been entrusted to us, we
should have made a  mess of it. We should have been shot by the
guards in the first street we entered.  As to climbing along the
roofs of houses till we had passed the first line of sentinels, the
idea would never have entered our heads.  Of course we might have
disguised ourselves, and might have got into the town by harnessing
ourselves to  a load of faggots, but once there we should have had
no more chance of getting into the fortress than if we  had at once
proclaimed ourselves French officers, and had requested a pass into
the citadel."

For the next ten days every effort was made to obtain carts and
pack horses from the villages round Susa,  and a number of wagons
filled with provisions were brought from Carignano, where the principal
supplies  for the army had been collected. On the fourteenth day
all was ready, and late in the afternoon the convoy,  with fifteen
hundred men from Susa, and four pieces of artillery, marched out.
At the same hour the force at  Carignano, six thousand strong,
leaving only a small body to garrison the city, started for Turin
along the  farther bank of the Po, and just as day broke a heavy
cannonade was opened by them against one of the city  gates.

Astonished and alarmed, the troops in the city flew to arms, and
hurried to repulse the attack. A quarter of  an hour later the dim
light of the morning showed the astonished sentries at the end of
the town surrounding  the citadel a considerable force advancing
to the attack of the gate there, opposite which, at a distance of
two hundred yards, four cannon were placed, and scarcely had they
made out the enemy when these opened  fire. A few rounds and the
gate was in splinters, and the infantry rushed forward.  The sentries
on the walls  took to flight, and the assailants pushed forward to
the inner gate. Access was obtained from that side to the  citadel,
and then, under the direction of their officers, the assailants
occupied all the side streets. At once  the procession of carts was
allowed to pass along. Some of the garrison ran down and lowered
the  drawbridge across the moat, and amid exultant shouts a store
sufficient for many months was conveyed into  the citadel. The
carts as quickly as they were unloaded returned through the gates
and passed out Into the  country beyond. By this time a fierce fight
had begun. As soon as the firing was heard opposite the citadel,
Prince Thomas and his military advisers guessed at once that the
attack had been but a feint, made with the  object of effecting
the relief of the citadel, and calling several regiments to follow
them they hastened in  that direction.  On their way they met the
fugitives, and hurried on with all speed. As they approached the
street through which the wagons were passing out, they were checked
by a heavy fire.  The four guns had  been placed in pairs at the
end of the streets, and the houses near them filled with troops
who kept up a  murderous fire from the windows, on the head of the
columns, and held them completely in check until the  last wagon
had been taken out. Then the cannon were removed, and when these too
were fairly outside the  city, a bugle call summoned the defenders
of the houses, and the infuriated Italians and Spaniards, when
they rushed down into the street between the gates, found that the
last of their foes had escaped them. The  artillerymen ran up to
the walls, only to find that the guns had been spiked, and they were
powerless to  inflict any serious damage upon the retiring force.

Prince Thomas ordered a sally, but at this moment a regiment of
cavalry from Chivasso was seen dashing  across the plain, and being
without artillery or cavalry the order was countermanded. Indeed,
the prolonged  roll of artillery at the other end of the city seemed to
show that the French were converting their feigned  attack into a
real one. Turenne had himself accompanied the column from Carignano,
for he knew that the  sound of firing might bring up Leganez from
Asti, and that he might find his retreat to Carignano  intercepted.
The moment, however, that the sound of four guns at equal intervals
showed that the other  column had achieved its object, he at once
fell back, his fire ceasing a few minutes before Prince Thomas
and his horse arrived at the walls. He had not been accompanied by
Hector, who was with the force from  Susa.

"You carried my message to the garrison," he said, "and it is but
right that you should have the honour of  leading the party to its
relief."

On arriving near the city Hector had dismounted, and, giving
his horse in charge of Paolo, had placed  himself at the head of
the company that was first to enter the town, its captain being
transferred to another  company.

"Now, men," he said, as they stood waiting for the dawn to break,
"the moment we enter the gates half the  company will mount the
wall to the right, the other half to the left, and each will push
along to the next  angle of the wall.  Lieutenants, one of you will
go with each wing of the company, and you will oppose to  the last
any force that may march along the rampart to attack you. I want
one soldier to keep by me."

As day began to break, each man grasped his firelock and awaited
the signal with impatience. A cheer  broke from them as the four
cannon roared out at the same moment, and at so short a distance
that every  shot told on the gate.  Another salvo and both halves
of the gate were splintered.

"Aim at the centre where the lock is," an officer shouted.

"Get ready, men," Hector said. "Another round and the gate will
fall."

As the cannon rung out there was a shout of triumph.  One of
the gates fell to the ground and Hector dashed  forward, followed
closely by his company. Not a single shot was fired from the walls,
and the men burst  through the gates cheering. The leading wing of
the company turned to the right, and, led by Hector, ran up  the
steps close to the gateway on to the rampart.

"Take them on to that bastion at the angle of the wall, lieutenant.
I do not think that you are likely to be  attacked at present. The
enemy must all have been drawn off to the other end of the city.
Now, my man,  open that bag."

In it were a couple of dozen large nails and a hammer.  "Drive one
of those right down the vent of this gun.   That is right. One more
blow. That will do. They won't get that nail out soon."

He went along the wall spiking each gun until they reached the half
company drawn up in the bastion. "No  enemy in sight, lieutenant?"

"None, sir, at least not on the wall. We heard them running away
in the streets below."

"Remember, lieutenant, whatever force may come along you must withstand
them. It will not be for long.  You will be at once supported if
we hear firing."

Then he retraced his steps along the ramparts, passed over the
gateway, and saw to the spiking of each gun  as far as the next angle
of the wall. Here he repeated his instructions to the lieutenant
there.

"I do not think," he said, "that there is much chance of your
being attacked. The enemy would have to make  a detour right round
the citadel to come here, and certainly they will return by the
shortest way, as soon as  they discover that the other attack is
but a feint."

Then he returned to the first party.

"Get the two guns," he said, "out of their embrasures and wheel them
here. It is likely enough that we may  be hotly attacked presently."

They waited half an hour, by which time the wagons were beginning
to pour out of the town.

"We have done our business, lieutenant; the citadel is revictualled.
Ah! here come the enemy, just too late."

A strong body of troops were seen marching rapidly towards them,
and almost at the same moment a heavy  fire broke out in the street.
The guns had been loaded from a small magazine in the bastion, and
had been  trained to fire along the rampart. When within a hundred
yards the enemy opened fire. Hector ordered the  men to lie down
and not to reply until he gave the order. They lay in two lines,
the first were to fire and the  second to reserve their fire until
ordered.  He took his post at one gun and the lieutenant at the
other.  A  messenger had been sent along the wall to bring up the
twenty-five men of the other wing. When the enemy  were within fifty
yards he asked quietly, "Does your gun bear well on the centre of
the column?"

"Yes, captain."

"Then fire!"

The ball cut a way through the dense column.

"Load again!"

The four men, told off to the duty, leapt to their feet.  There was
a halt for a moment, and then the  Spaniards came on again. When
they were within twenty paces Hector fired, and at the same time
shouted,  "First line give fire!" and twenty-five muskets flashed
out, every ball taking effect on the head of the  column. The
Spaniards recoiled, the leading ranks being swept away and many
of those behind wounded,  for three balls had been rammed down the
mouth of the cannon fired by Hector, and these and the musketry
volley had done terrible execution. At this moment the twenty-five
men sent for ran up.

"Second line give fire!" Hector shouted; and the discharge added
to the confusion in the column, and many  ran down some steps into
the lane by the side of the wall.

"Have you loaded again, lieutenant?"

"Yes, sir, with three balls,"

"Then form up, men, and deliver your fire," Hector said to the
newcomers. "Now, lieutenant, touch it off."

As the discharge rang out, mingled with the roar of the guns,
Hector shouted, "Fix bayonets, and charge!"  The wooden shafts of
the bayonets were thrust down the barrels of the firelocks, and
with a cheer the  seventy-five men rushed upon the shattered head
of the column. The charge was irresistible, and the enemy  at once
fled at full speed along the rampart or leapt from the wall into
the lane below.

"Well done, men, well done!" Hector shouted. "Do not pursue. Reload
your cannon, though I do not think  there is much fear of their
returning."

A few minutes later the soldier who had carried the spikes, and
who had been left on the wall, ran up to say  that the last cart
had passed out.

"Go and tell the other party to fall back to the gate," Hector
said; "but first give me two spikes and the  hammer.  They might
run these cannons into the places of those disabled." So saying,
he spiked the two  guns that had done such good service, and then
retired to the gate, where he was joined by the remainder of  the
company. As the bugle rung out after the last wagon had passed,
and he saw the troops issuing from the  houses at the corners of
the cross streets, he marched his company across the drawbridge,
out into the  country, and followed the guns. When he reached the
spot where Paolo was holding the horses, he resigned  the command
of the company and mounted.

"Men," he said, "you have played your part well, and I am proud to
have commanded soldiers so steady and  courageous."

At this moment the general, who was in command of the force, and
who had been the last to leave the  town, rode up, the men coming
along at a run.

"You had better hurry your men on," he said to the colonel with whom
Hector had acted; "the enemy will  be on the ramparts in a minute,
and you may be sure that they won't let us off without trouble from
their  guns."

"I beg your pardon, general," Hector said saluting, "but the guns
all along this side of the wall are useless; I  have spiked them."

"You have, sir! That was well done indeed. Who gave you the orders,
and how did you come by spikes?"

"I had no orders, general; but I was appointed to command the first
company that entered, and was told that  we were to turn right and
left along the ramparts. It struck me that as, when we had left,
the enemy would  be sure to turn their guns upon us, it would be
as well to silence them, so I brought the nails and a hammer  with
me for the purpose."

"It would be well, sir, if we had a good many officers as thoughtful
as you are. You have saved us from  heavy loss, for, as the country
is perfectly level for a mile round, they would have swept our
ranks as we  marched off. Were you attacked, sir?"

"Yes, general, by a force of about four hundred men, but I turned
two of the guns against them. My men  fought well, and we repulsed
them with a loss of fully a hundred men."

"Bravo, sir, bravo! I shall not fail to mention the service that
you have rendered in my report of the affair.  Have you lost any
men?"

"No, sir; they lay down until the enemy were within twenty paces of
us, and their volleys and the two  cannon created such a confusion
among the Spaniards that when we went at them with the bayonet they
fled at once, and I have not a single man killed, and only two or
three slightly wounded."

"We have only lost twenty," the general said, "and most of those
were killed while serving the guns. That  was a small price indeed
to pay for our magnificent success."



CHAPTER VI:  A CHANGE OF SCENE


Hector gained great credit from the report of the manner in which
the force had been enabled to draw off  without loss from the enemy's
guns, owing to his forethought in bringing with him the means of
spiking  them, and also for his success in checking the advance of
the enemy along the ramparts.

"You see, messieurs," Turenne said to the members of his staff,
who, with the exception of Hector, were  together on the day after
his return to Susa, "how important it is for officers, before setting
out on an  expedition, to think seriously over every contingency
that may happen. Now the vast proportion of officers  consider that
all the thinking has to be done by the general, and that they only
have to obey orders. No  doubt that is essential, but there may
be numerous little matters in which an officer may render great
service.  This young captain of ours did not content himself with
leading the company to which I appointed  him through the gateway.
Before leaving Susa he must have thought over every incident likely
to occur. As  the leading company he would know that it would be
his business to clear the ramparts, to check any  parties of the
enemy coming along that way, and it would be only natural for him
to determine to use the  enemy's cannon to keep them at bay.

"This would probably have occurred to most officers placed as he
was. But he did not stop there -- he must  have thought over the
events that would probably follow the entry.  He knew, of course,
that our feint at the  other end of the town would draw off
the greater portion of the garrison, but would be sure also that
as soon  as the attack began, and it became evident that our real
object was to revictual the citadel, they would come  pouring back
again. He would have said to himself, 'We shall be able to keep
them at bay until our work is  done, then we shall have to fall
back. What then? The enemy will mount the ramparts, and while their
main  force pours out in pursuit, their guns on the walls will
play havoc with us. To prevent this I must silence  them before my
company retires.'

"It is all very simple when we look at it after it is done, and
yet probably it did not occur to a single officer  of that force
except to Captain Campbell. I admit that it did not occur to myself.
Had it done so, I should  have ordered that some of the artillerymen
should carry spikes and hammers, and that upon entering the  town
they should immediately take steps, by rendering the guns harmless,
to enable the force to draw off  without heavy loss. In the same
way he showed a cool and calculating brain when he carried out that
most  dangerous service of bearing the news that we should speedily
bring aid to the citadel. It is difficult to  imagine a better laid
plan. He thought of everything -- of his disguise, of the manner in
which it would  alone be possible to approach closely to the wall.

"I think that few of us would have thought of making our way up
through a house a hundred yards away,  working along the roofs and
descending into the lane by the wall itself. I asked him how he got
the rope  down which it was necessary for him to use four or five
times afterwards, and he showed me the plan by  which he contrived
to free the hook; it was most ingenious. It did not seem to me
that it would have acted  as he told me, and I asked him to have
another one made so that I might understand how it was worked, for
such a contrivance would be extremely useful in escalades, when
the troops, after descending into a deep  fosse, need the rope
for climbing a wall or bastion. There it is, gentlemen, and as you
see, by pulling this  thin cord the hook is lifted from its hold,
and the slightest shake will bring it down.

"The contrivance is an excellent one. The line he took was well
chosen. He accomplished the most  dangerous part first, and made
his way out by the side where the watch was most likely to be
careless, as  anyone leaving or entering the town there would have
to swim the river. The feat shows that he has not  only abundance
of courage of the very highest order, but that he has a head to
plan and leaves nothing to  chance. You will see, gentlemen, that
if this young officer lives he is likely to gain the highest rank
and  position. Already I have every reason to congratulate myself
upon having, almost as it were by chance,  taken him under my
protection."

The winter passed quietly, but as soon as spring set in and the
roads were sufficiently good for the passage  of wagons, d'Harcourt
prepared to attempt to raise the siege of Casale, before which
Leganez with twenty  thousand men had intrenched himself. The roads
were still, however, far too heavy for cannon, and as the  garrison
were becoming hardly pressed he left his guns behind him and started
at the end of April with  seven thousand foot and three thousand
horse. The position occupied by the Spaniards was a strong one,
and their general did not for a moment think that the French, with
a force half the strength of his own,  would venture to attack him.
D'Harcourt, however, resolved upon doing so. He divided his force
into three  parts; two of these were composed of French soldiers,
the third comprised the forces of the Duchess of  Savoy. The attack
was successful on all sides -- although d'Harcourt for a time
could make no way, and  Turenne was repulsed three times before he
entered the intrenchments -- the Spaniards were completely  defeated,
and lost their guns, ammunition, and baggage, three thousand
killed, two thousand prisoners, and  great numbers were drowned in
endeavouring to cross the river.

A council of war was held, and Turenne's advice that Turin should
be besieged was after much debate  accepted, although it seemed
a desperate enterprise for an army of ten thousand men to besiege
a town  garrisoned by twelve thousand, while the Spaniards, after
recovering from their defeat and drawing men  from their various
garrisons, could march to relieve the town with eighteen thousand
men. No time was lost  in carrying Turenne's advice into effect.
The army marched upon Turin, seized the positions round the  town,
threw up lines facing the city to prevent sorties being made by the
enemy, and surrounded themselves  by similar lines to enable them
to resist attack by the Spaniards, who were not long in approaching
them.  Thus there were now four bodies of combatants -- the garrison
of the citadel, which was surrounded and  besieged by that of the
town; the town was besieged by Turenne, and he himself was surrounded
by the  Spaniards. Each relied rather upon starving the others out
than upon storming their positions, but Leganez  managed to send
a messenger into Turin telling Prince Thomas that he intended to
attack the French and  calling upon him to fall upon them with his
troops at the same time.

In pursuance of this design he retired some distance up the Po, and
proceeded to cross the river at  Moncalieri.  D'Harcourt despatched
Turenne to oppose the passage, but before he could arrive there
some  five thousand men had crossed the bridge. Without hesitating
a moment, although his force was a much  smaller one than that of
the Spaniards, Turenne attacked them at once, carried the intrenchments
they had  begun to throw up, killed a large number, and drove the
rest into the river, where hundreds were drowned.  Then he set fire
to the bridge, which was of wood, and intrenched himself on the
banks of the river,  occupied all the fords higher up, and completely
checked any advance of the Spaniards in that direction. He  was,
however, wounded in the shoulder, and was obliged to leave the army
and to be carried to Pinerolo.  While he was away Leganez attacked
the French line from without, and Prince Thomas from within, and  the
former succeeded in passing twelve hundred horse and one thousand
foot into the town.

The French were now closely beleaguered, and began to suffer severely
from famine. In the meantime fresh  troops had arrived from France,
and although not yet recovered from his wounds, Turenne took the
command, and escorted a great convoy of provisions into the camp
in spite of the enemy's efforts to prevent  him. The townspeople
were suffering even more severely. Sorties were made in great force,
but were  always repulsed, as were the attacks made by Leganez, and
on the 17th of September the garrison  surrendered, being allowed
to march out with their arms.  The Count d'Harcourt returned to
France, and  Turenne again assumed the command of the army for the
winter.

Hector conducted himself to the satisfaction of his general throughout
the campaign, but was severely  wounded in the last sortie made by
the besieged, having been thrown down in a charge of Prince Thomas's
cavalry and trampled upon by the horses, and being taken up for
dead when the enemy fell back.

Directly he heard the news Turenne sent his surgeon to examine him.
He reported that he still breathed, but  that several of his ribs
and his left arm were broken. He mended but slowly, and Turenne,
a month after the  surrender of the town, came in one day to see
him, and said, "The surgeon tells me that it will be some  months
before you are fit for service again, and that you will need a
period of perfect rest to recover your  health. There is a convoy
of invalids returning to France tomorrow, and I think it were best
that you should  accompany them. There is no rest to be obtained
here, and I know that you will be fretting at being unable  to
ride, and at your forced inactivity. I shall give orders that you
are conveyed in a horse litter to Sedan,  where my brother, the Duc
de Bouillon, will gladly entertain you for my sake, and you must
remain there  until entirely restored to strength.

"I do not think that there will be much doing on this side of the
Alps in the next campaign. Unhappily  France has troubles of her own,
and will find it difficult to spare more troops in this direction,
and without  reinforcements we can but act on the defensive. Though
we may capture a few towns, there is small chance  of any great
operations.  Indeed, methinks that it is by no means unlikely that
Prince Thomas, seeing that  his effort to rule Savoy in place of
his sister-in-law, the duchess, is likely to end in discredit and
loss to  himself, will before long open negotiations with her.
Therefore you will be losing nothing by going. It is to  the
duchess that I shall commend you rather than to my brother, who is
unfortunately occupied by public  matters, and is at present almost
at war with Richelieu.

"He is a man of noble impulses, generous in the extreme, and the
soul of honour, but he knows not how to  conceal his feelings; and
in these days no man, even the most powerful, can venture to rail
in public against  one who has offended him, when that man happens
to be the cardinal.  I love my brother dearly, but I have  mixed
myself up in no way with his affairs. I am an officer of the king,
and as such I stand aloof from all  parties in the state. The
cardinal is his minister; doubtless he has his faults, but he is
the greatest man in  France, and the wisest. He lives and works
for the country. It may be true that he is ambitious for himself,
but the glory of France is his chief care. It is for that purpose
that we have entered upon this war, for he  sees that if Germany
becomes united under an emperor who is by blood a Spaniard, France
must eventually  be crushed, and Spain become absolutely predominant
in Europe. If he is opposed, Richelieu strikes hard,  because
he deems those who oppose him as not only his own enemies but as
enemies of France.

"As a prince of the church it must have been bitter for him to
have to ally himself with the Protestant  princes of Germany, with
Protestant Holland, and Protestant England, but he has done so.
It is true that he  has captured La Rochelle, and broken the power
of the Huguenot lords of the south, but these new alliances  show
that he is ready to sacrifice his own prejudices for the good of
France when France is endangered, and  that it is on account of the
danger of civil broils to the country, rather than from a hatred
of the Huguenots,  that he warred against them. Here am I, whom
he deigns to honour with his patronage, a Huguenot; my  brother,
Bouillon, was also a Huguenot, and strangely enough the quarrel
between him and the cardinal did  not break out until my brother
had changed his religion.

"He was more rigorously brought up than I was, and was taught
to look upon the Catholics with  abhorrence; but he married, not
from policy but from love, a Catholic lady, who is in all respects
worthy of  him, for she is as high spirited and as generous as he
is, and at the same time is gentle, loving, and patient.  Though
deeply pious, she is free from bigotry, and it was because my brother
came to see that the tales he  had been taught of the bigotry and
superstition of the Catholics were untrue, at least in many instances,
that  he revolted against the intolerance of the doctrines in which
he had been brought up, renounced them, and  became an adherent of
his wife's religion.

"Nigh four years ago the Duke of Soissons, a prince of the blood,
incurred the enmity of Richelieu by  refusing, with scorn, his
proposal that he should marry the Countess of Cobalet, Richelieu's
niece. The  refusal, and still more the language in which he
refused, excited the deep enmity of the cardinal. Soissons  had
joined the party against him, but as usual Richelieu had the king's
ear. Soissons was ordered to leave  the court, and went to Sedan,
where he was heartily received by my brother, who had a warm affection
for  him.  Bouillon wrote to the king hoping that he would not be
displeased at his offering a retreat to a prince  of the blood,
and the king wrote permitting the count to stay at Sedan.  After
a time Richelieu again  endeavoured to bring about the marriage
upon which he had set his heart, but was again refused, and, being
greatly exasperated, insisted on Bouillon obliging the count to
leave Sedan. My brother naturally replied  that the king having
at first approved of his receiving Soissons, he could not violate
the laws of hospitality  to a prince of the blood.

"Richelieu then persuaded the king to refuse further payments
to the garrisons at Sedan, although the latter  had confirmed the
agreement entered into by his father, whereupon my brother openly
declared against  Richelieu, and still further excited the cardinal's
anger by furnishing an asylum to the Archbishop of  Rheims, second
son of Charles of Lorraine, who had also quarrelled with Richelieu.
So matters stand at  present. What will come of it, I know not. I
doubt not that the cardinal's hostility to Bouillon does not arise
solely from the Soissons affair, which but serves him as a pretext.
You see his object for the past four years  has been to strengthen
France by extending her frontiers to the east by the conquest of
Lorraine. He has  already carried them to the Upper Rhine, and by
obtaining from the Duke of Savoy Pinerolo and its  dependencies
has brought them up to the foot of the Alps.

"But my brother's dukedom stands in the way of his grand project,
for it is a gate through which an enemy  from beyond the Rhine
might invade France; and, moreover, the close family relationship
between us and  the Prince of Holland would add to the danger
should Holland, at present our ally, fall out with France.  Thus
the possession of Bouillon's dukedom, or at any rate its military
occupation for a time, is a  consideration of vital importance to
the kingdom. Such, you see, is the situation. Were I not an officer
in  the French army doubtless my feelings would be on the side
of my brother. As it is, I am a faithful servant  of the king and
his minister, and should deem it the height of dishonour were I to
use my influence against  what I perceive is the cause of France.
I tell you this in order that you may understand the various matters
which might surprise you at Sedan.

"You go there as a patient to be nursed by the duchess, my
sister-in-law, and having no influence, and at  present not even
the strength to use your sword, there is little fear that any will
seek to involve you in these  party turmoils. I shall write to my
brother that you are a soldier of France and that you have done
her good  service, that you are a protege of mine, and being of
Scottish blood belong to no party save my party, and  that I entreat
that he will not allow anyone to set you against the cardinal, or
to try and attach you to any  party, for that I want you back again
with me as soon as you are thoroughly cured."

Hector would much rather have remained to be cured in Italy, but
he did not think of raising the slightest  objection to Turenne's
plans for him, and the next day he started for Sedan, taking, of
course, Paolo with  him. The convoy traveled by easy stages over
the passes into France, and then, escorted by a sergeant and  eight
troopers, Hector was carried north to Sedan. Though still very weak,
he was able to alight at the  entrance of the duke's residence,
and sent in Turenne's letters to him and the duchess. Three minutes
later  the duke himself came down.

"Captain Campbell," he said heartily, "my brother has done well in
sending you here to be taken care of and  nursed.  In his letters
to me he has spoken of you more than once, especially with reference
to the manner  in which you carried a message for him to the citadel
of Turin. I shall be glad to do anything that I can for  so brave
a young officer, but I fear that for the present you will have to
be under the charge of the duchess  rather than mine."

The duke was a tall, handsome man with a frank and open face, a
merry laugh, and a ready jest. He was  extremely popular, not only
in his own dominions, but among the Parisians. His fault was that
he was led  too easily. Himself the soul of honour, he believed
others to be equally honourable, and so suffered himself  to become
mixed up in plots and conspiracies, and to be drawn on into an
enterprise wholly foreign to his  nature.

"I will take you at once to the duchess, but I see that you are
quite unfit to walk. Sit down, I beg you, until I  get a chair for
you."

Three or four minutes later four lackeys came with a carrying chair,
and Hector was taken upstairs to the  duchess's apartments.

"This is the gentleman of whom Turenne has written to me, and
doubtless, as I see by that letter upon the  table, to you also. He
has been a good deal damaged, having been ridden over by a squadron
of Prince  Thomas's horsemen, and needs quiet and rest."

"Turenne has told me all about it," the duchess said. "I welcome
you very heartily, monsieur. My brother  says that he has great
affection for you, and believes you will some day become a master
in the art of war.  He says you have rendered him most valuable
services, which is strange indeed, seeing that you are as yet  very
young."

"I was sixteen the other day, madam."

"Only sixteen, and already a captain!" she exclaimed.

"I was made a captain nine months ago," he said, "for a little
service that I performed to his satisfaction."

"Turenne would not have promoted you unless it had been an important
service, I am sure," she said with a  smile.  "He does great things
himself, and expects great things from others."

"It was the affair of carrying the message to the garrison of the
citadel of Turin urging them to hold out, as  he would come to their
relief soon," the duke said. "Do you not remember that he wrote us
an account of  it?"

"I remember it perfectly. Turenne said a young officer, but I did
not imagine that it could have been but a  lad.  However, Captain
Campbell, I will not detain you here talking, or you will begin
by considering me to  be a very bad nurse. Directly I received the
letter I ordered a chamber to be prepared for you. By this time
all will be in readiness, and a lackey ready to disrobe you and
assist you to bed."

"I do not need," he began, but she held up her finger.

"Please to remember, sir, that I am head nurse here.  You will go to
bed at once, and will take a light repast  and a glass of generous
wine. After that our surgeon will examine you, and remove your
bandages, which  have been, I doubt not, somewhat disarranged on
your journey; then he will say whether it will be advisable  that
you should keep your bed for a time, which will, I think, be far
the best for you, for you will be much  more comfortable so than
on a couch, which, however good to be sat upon by those in health,
affords but  poor comfort to an invalid. Have you brought a servant
with you?"

"Yes, madam. He is a very faithful lad, and accompanied me on that
enterprise that you have been speaking  of. He is a merry fellow,
and has proved himself a good and careful nurse. He sat up with me
for many  nights when I was first hurt, and has ever since slept
on the floor in my room."

"I will give him in charge of my majordomo, who will see that he
is well taken care of, and we can have a  pallet laid for him at
night on the floor of your room."

She herself led the way to a very comfortable apartment where a
fire was burning on the hearth; a lackey  was already in waiting,
and after a few kind words she left him.

"I have fallen into good hands indeed," Hector said to himself.
"What would Sergeant MacIntosh say if he  knew that I was lodged
in a ducal palace, and that the duke and duchess had both spoken
to me and seen  after my comfort as if I had been a relation of
their own?"

In spite of the care and attention that he received, Hector's recovery
was slow, and even when spring came  the surgeon said that he was
unfit for severe work. However, the letters that he received from
time to time  from de Lisle and Chavigny consoled him, for not
only had the winter passed without any incident save the  capture
of three or four towns by Turenne, but it was not at all likely
that any events of great importance  would take place. All accounts
represented the Spaniards as being engaged in adding to the strength
of  three or four towns in the duchy of Milan, so that evidently
they intended to stand upon the defensive.

The palace of Sedan was the centre of a formidable conspiracy against
Richelieu. Messengers came and  went, and Bouillon, Soissons, and
the Archbishop of Rheims were constantly closeted together. They had
various allies at court, and believed that they should be able to
overthrow the minister who had so long  ruled over France in the
name of the king.

As Hector was now able to move about, and was acquainted with all
the members of the duke's household,  he learned much of what was
going on; and from a conversation that he accidentally overheard,
he could  see that the position was an extremely serious one, as a
treaty had been signed with Ferdinand, son of the  King of Spain,
and the Archduke Leopold-William, son of the Emperor of Austria,
by which each agreed to  assist the duke and his friends with a
large sum of money for raising soldiers, and with seven thousand
men. In order to justify themselves, the heads of the movement
issued a manifesto, in which they styled  themselves Princes of
Peace. In this they rehearsed the cardinal's various acts of tyranny
and cruelty  towards his rivals, the arbitrary manner in which he
carried on the government, and declared that they were  leagued
solely to overthrow the power that overshadowed that of the king,
plunged France into wars, and  scourged the people with heavy
taxation.

As soon as this manifesto was published in Sedan, Hector went to
the duke.

"My lord duke," he said, "I cannot sufficiently thank you for
the hospitality and kindness with which you  and the duchess have
treated me. Nevertheless, I must ask you to allow me to leave at
once."

"Why this sudden determination, Captain Campbell?"

"If, sir, I were but a private person I should have no hesitation,
after the kindness that you have shown me,  in requesting you
to give me employment in the force that you are raising; but I am
an officer of the king,  and what is of far greater importance at
the present moment, an aide-de-camp of the Viscount Turenne,  your
brother. Were it reported that I was with your army, or even indeed
that I was here, the cardinal would  at once conclude that I was
representing the viscount, and was perhaps the intermediary through
whom  communications between you and your brother were being
carried on. Therefore I should not only  compromise myself, which
is of no importance, but I might excite suspicion in Richelieu's
mind against  your brother, which might result in his recall from
the position in which he has so distinguished himself,  and grievously
injure his prospects. The viscount himself warned me against mixing
myself with any party,  saying that a soldier should hold himself
free from all entanglement, bent only on serving, to the utmost of
his power, the king and France."

"You are right," the duke said heartily. "Turenne has no grievances
against king or cardinal, and has acted  wisely in holding himself
aloof from any party; and badly as I am affected towards Richelieu,
I will own  that he has never allowed my brother's relationship towards
me to prevent his employing him in posts of  honour. I have never
sought to influence him in the slightest, and am far too proud of
the credit and honour  he has gained to do aught that would in any
way cause a breach between him and the cardinal. What you  have said
is very right and true. Doubtless Richelieu has spies in this town,
as he has elsewhere, and may  have learned that a young officer on
my brother's staff was brought here last autumn grievously wounded.
But it is certainly well that now, as the time for action is at hand,
you should retire. You are not thinking, I  hope, of returning at
once, for it was but a day or two ago that the surgeon assured me
that it would need  another three or four months of quiet before
you would be fit to resume your duties."

"I feel that myself, my lord, and moreover I think that it would
be as well that I should not join the viscount  at present, for
it might well be supposed that I was the bearer of some important
news from you to him;  therefore I propose to go to Geneva, and
remain there until I have completely recruited my strength. In the
Swiss republic I should pass unnoticed, even by the cardinal's
agents. And the fact that, although being but  a comparatively
short distance from Piedmont, I abstained from joining the general,
would, if they inquired,  show that I could not have been entrusted
with any private communication from you to him."

"It could not be better," the duke said. "When you leave here you
should no longer wear that military scarf.  Of course, when you
enter Switzerland there is no reason why you should disguise the fact
that you are a  French officer, and having been severely wounded,
have come there to repair your health. Doubtless many  others have
done so; and, dressed as a private person, you would excite no
attention.  But the Swiss, who  strive to hold themselves neutral
and to avoid giving offence, might raise objections to a French
officer  wearing military attire staying among them."

That evening Hector bade his adieu to the duchess and to the friends
he had made during his stay, and the  next morning, attended by
Paolo, he started for Geneva.

"I am glad indeed that we are off, master," the latter said. "In
truth, had I stayed here much longer I should  have become useless
from fat and idleness, for I have had nothing whatever to do but
to eat and sleep."

"I am glad to be off, too, Paolo. I am convinced myself, in spite
of what the surgeon says, that actual  exercise will do more for
me than the doctor's potions and rich food. I am stiff still, but
it is from doing  nothing, and were it not that coming from here
my presence might be inconvenient for Turenne, I would  journey
straight to his camp. You saw the prince's manifesto?"

Paolo nodded. "I did, master. Not being able to read or write, I
could make nothing of it myself, but a  burgher coming along read
it aloud, and it made me shake in my shoes with fright. I made my
way as  quickly as I could from so dangerous a spot, for it seemed
nothing short of treason to have heard such  words read against
the cardinal."

"I fear that the duke has made a terrible mistake, Paolo.  Hitherto
all who have ventured to measure their  strength with the cardinal
have been worsted, and many have lost everything and are now fugitives
from  France. Some have lost their lives as well as honours and
estates. Bouillon is an independent prince, and so  was Lorraine,
and although the latter could put ten men in the field to every one
the duke could muster, he  has been driven from his principality.
Soissons could not help him except with his name, nor can the
Archbishop of Rheims. Not a few of the great nobles would join the
duke did they think that he had a  prospect of success. None have
so far done so, though possibly some have given him secret pledges,
which  will count for nothing unless it seems that he is likely to
triumph.

"It is rumoured, as you know, that he has made an alliance with
Spain and Austria. Both will use him as an  arm against France, but
will throw him over and leave him to his fate whenever it suits
them. Moreover,  their alliance would assuredly deter any, who
might otherwise range themselves with him, from taking up  arms.
No Huguenot would fight by the side of a Spaniard; and although
the Guises and the Catholic nobles  allied themselves with Spain
against Henri of Navarre, it was in a matter in which they deemed
their  religion in danger, while this is but a quarrel between
Bouillon and the cardinal; and with Spain fighting  against France
in the Netherlands, they would not risk their lands and titles.
Bouillon had better have stood  alone than have called in the
Spaniards and Austrians. We know whose doing that is, the Archbishop
of  Rheims, who is a Guise, and, methinks, from what I have seen
of him, a crafty one.

"I am sure that neither the duke nor Soissons would, unless won
over by the archbishop, have ever  consented to such a plan, for
both are honourable gentlemen, and Soissons at least is a Frenchman,
which  can hardly be said of Bouillon, whose ancestors have been
independent princes here for centuries.  However, I fear that he
will rue the day he championed the cause of Soissons. It was no
affair of his, and it  is carrying hospitality too far to endanger
life and kingdom rather than tell two guests that they must seek
a  refuge elsewhere. All Europe was open to them. As a Guise the
archbishop would have been welcome  wherever Spain had power. With
Spain, Italy, and Austria open to him, why should he thus bring
danger  and misfortune upon the petty dukedom of Sedan? The same
may be said of Soissons; however reluctant  Bouillon might be to
part with so dear a friend, Soissons himself should have insisted
upon going and  taking up his abode elsewhere. Could he still have
brought a large force into the field, and have thus risked  as
much as Bouillon, the case would be different, but his estates are
confiscated, or, at any rate, he has no  longer power to summon
his vassals to the field, and he therefore risks nothing in case
of defeat, while  Bouillon is risking everything."

"I daresay that that is all true, master, though in faith I know
nothing about the matter. For myself, it seems  to me that when
one is a noble, and has everything that a man can want, he must
be a fool to mix himself  up in troubles. I know that if the King
of France were to give me a big estate, and anyone came to me and
asked me to take part in a plot, I would, if I had the power of
life and death, have him hung up over the gate  of my castle."

"That would be a short way, no doubt, Paolo, but it might not keep
you out of trouble," Hector said,  smiling. "If the person who
came to you were also a noble, his family and friends would rise
in arms to  avenge his death, and instead of avoiding trouble you
would bring it at once upon your head."

"I suppose that would be so, master," Paolo said thoughtfully; "so
I think that it would be best for me that  the king should not take
it into his head to give me that estate.  And so we are going to
Geneva, master?"

"Yes."

"That pleases me not," the other one said, "for I have heard
of it as a terribly serious place, where a man  dares not so much
as smile, and where he has to listen to sermons and exhortations
lasting half a day. My  father was a Huguenot, and I suppose that
I am, too, though I never inquired very closely into the matter;
but as for exhortations of four hours in length, methinks I would
rather swim those moats again, master,  and to go all day without
smiling would be a worse penance than the strictest father confessor
could lay  upon me."

"I own that I am somewhat of your opinion, Paolo. My father brought
me up a Protestant like yourself, and  when I was quite young I
had a very dreary time of it while he was away, living as I did in
the house of a  Huguenot pastor. After that I attended the Protestant
services in the barracks, for all the officers and almost  all the
men are Protestants, and, of course, were allowed to have their
own services; but the minister, who  was a Scotchman, knew better
than to make his discourses too lengthy; for if he did, there was
a shuffling  of jackboots on the stone floor and a clanking of sabres
that warned him that the patience of the soldiers  was exhausted.
In our own glen my father has told me that the ministers are as
long winded as those of  Geneva; but, as he said, soldiers are a
restless people, and it is one thing for men who regard their Sunday
gathering as the chief event in the week to listen to lengthy
discourses, but quite another for soldiers, either  in the field
or a city like Paris, to do so. However, if we do not find Geneva
to our taste, there is no reason  why we should tarry there, as
Zurich lies on the other end of the lake, and Zurich is Catholic,
or at any rate  largely so, and Calvinist doctrines have never
flourished there. But, on the other hand, the sympathies of  Geneva
have generally been with France, while those of Zurich are with
Austria; therefore I think that if we  like not Geneva we will go
to Lyons, where, as an officer of Viscount Turenne's, I am sure to
be well  received."

"Why not go there at once, master?"

"Because I think that the fresh air of the lake will brace me up,
and maybe if I find the people too sober  minded for me we will
go up into the mountains and lodge there in some quiet village. I
think that would  suit both of us."

"It would suit me assuredly," Paolo said joyfully. "I love the
mountains."

Such was indeed the course eventually taken. The strict Calvinism
of Geneva suited neither of them; and  after a fortnight's stay
there they went up among the hills, and in the clear brisk air Hector
found his blood  begin to run more rapidly through his veins, and
his strength and energy fast returning. Sometimes he rode,  but
soon found more pleasure in climbing the hills around on foot, for
the mountain paths were so rough  that it was seldom indeed that
his horse could break into a trot.



CHAPTER VII:  THE DUC D'ENGHIEN


From time to time news came up of what was passing in the world.
The Spaniards had afforded no  assistance in men to the duke, for
Richelieu had sent a powerful army into the heart of Flanders, and
so  kept them fully occupied. An Austrian force, however, joined
that of the duke, and a battle was fought with  the royal army
which, under Marshal Chatillon, lay encamped a league from Sedan.
The Austrian general  commanded the main body, the Duc de Bouillon
the cavalry, while the Count de Soissons was with the  reserve.
At first Chatillon's army had the advantage, but Bouillon charged
with such vehemence that he  drove the cavalry of the royalists
down upon their infantry, which fell into confusion, most of the
French  officers being killed or made prisoners, and the rest put
to rout. The duke, after the victory, rode to  congratulate Soissons,
whose force had not been engaged. He found the count dead, having
accidentally  shot himself while pushing up the visor of his helmet
with the muzzle of his pistol.

Bouillon soon learned the hollowness of the promises of his allies.
The Spaniards sent neither money nor  men, while the Austrians
received orders to march away from Sedan and to join the Spaniards,
who were  marching to the relief of Arras.

The duke, deserted by his allies, prepared to defend Sedan till the
last. Fortunately for him, however, the  position of the French at
Arras was critical. The place was strong, two armies were marching
to its relief,  and it would therefore have been rash to have
attempted at the same time the siege of Sedan. The king  himself
had joined the army advancing against Bouillon, while the cardinal
remained in Paris. Many of  those round the person of the king,
foremost among whom was the Marquis of Cinq-Mars, his master of
horse, spoke very strongly in favour of the duke, and represented
that he had been driven to take up arms  by the persecution of the
cardinal. The king was moved by their representations, and gave a
complete  pardon to Bouillon, who was restored to the full possession
of all his estates in France, while on his part he  released the
prisoners, baggage, and standards taken in the late battle.

This was welcome news to Hector, who at once prepared to cross
into Italy; but when they reached  Chambery he heard that Turenne
had been ordered to join the army that was collected near the
Spanish  frontier, in order to conquer Roussillon, which lay between
Languedoc and Catalonia.  The latter province  had been for three
years in a state of insurrection against Spain, and had besought
aid from France. This,  however, could not easily be afforded them
so long as the fortress of Perpignan guarded the way, and with
other strongholds prevented all communication between the south of
France and Catalonia. As it was  uncertain whether Turenne would
follow the coast route or cross the passes, Hector and his companion
rode  forward at once, and arrived at Turin before he left.

"I am glad to see you back again," the general said as Hector
entered his room, "and trust that you are now  strong again. Your
letter, giving me your reasons for leaving Sedan, was forwarded to
me by a messenger,  with others from my brother and his wife. He
speaks in high terms of you, and regretted your leaving them;  but
the reason you gave for so doing in your letter to me more than
justified the course you took, and  showed that you were thoughtful
in other than military matters. You served me better by leaving
Sedan  than you could have done in any other way. In these unhappy
disputes with my brother, the cardinal has  never permitted my
relationship to Bouillon to shake his confidence in me.  But after
being engaged for  many years in combating plots against him, he
cannot but be suspicious of all, and that an officer of my  staff
should be staying at Sedan when the dispute was going to end in
open warfare might well have excited  a doubt of me while, had you
traveled direct here at that moment, it might, as you said, have
been  considered that you were the bearer of important communications
between my brother and myself.

"Now, I hope that you are completely restored to health; you
are looking well, and have grown a good deal,  the consequence,
no doubt, of your being so long in bed. You have heard that I am
ordered to Roussillon,  of which I am glad, for the war languishes
here. The king, I hear, will take up his headquarters at Narbonne,
and Richelieu is coming down to look after matters as he did at
Rochelle. So I expect that things will move  quickly there. They
say the king is not in good health, and that the cardinal himself
is failing.  Should he  die it will be a grievous loss for France,
for there is no one who could in any way fill his place. It has
been  evident for some time that the king has been in weak health.
The dauphin is but a child. A regency with the  queen as its nominal
head, and Richelieu as its staff and ruler, would be possible;
but without Richelieu the  prospect would be a very dark one, and
I cannot think of it without apprehension.  However, I must  continue
to do as I have been doing ever since Bouillon fell out with the
court; I must think only that I am a  soldier, prepared to strike
where ordered, whether against a foreign foe or a rebellious subject.

"Happily my family troubles are over. I hear that there is
a probability that, now Bouillon has been restored  to favour, he
will obtain the command of the army in Italy, which will just suit
his active spirit."

Three days later Turenne with his staff crossed the Alps, and
journeying across the south of France reached  Perpignan.  The
Marquis of Mielleraye was in supreme command, and Turenne was to act
as his lieutenant;  the latter at once took charge of the operations
of the siege of Perpignan, which had already been  beleaguered for
some months by the French. The fortress was a very strong one, but
as the efforts of the  Spanish to reinforce the garrison by a landing
effected on the coast failed altogether, and as the operations  of
Mielleraye in the field were successful, and there was no chance of
any relief being afforded to the  besieged town by a Spanish army
advancing through Catalonia, it was certain that the fortress
must in time  surrender by hunger. As it could not be captured by
assault unless with a very heavy loss indeed, Turenne  contented
himself with keeping up so vigilant a watch round it that its
communications were altogether cut  off, and the garrison knew
nothing whatever of what was passing around them.

The Duc de Bouillon had received the command of the army in Italy,
and Turenne hoped that henceforth  his mind would be free from the
family trouble that had for the past four years caused him great
pain and  anxiety. Unfortunately, however, Cinq-Mars, the king's
master of horse and personal favourite, had become  embroiled with
the cardinal. Rash, impetuous, and haughty, the young favourite
at once began to intrigue.  The Duke of Orleans, the king's only
brother, one of the most treacherous and unstable of men, joined
him  heart and soul, and Bouillon was induced to ally himself with
them, not from any political feeling, but  because Cinq-Mars had
been mainly instrumental in obtaining terms for him before, and
appealed to his  sense of gratitude to aid him now. He insisted,
however, that this time there should be no negotiating with  Spain
and Austria, but that the movement should be entirely a French one.

Unknown to him, however, the others entered into an alliance with
Spain, who engaged to find money and  an army.  The conspirators
had gained the ear of the king, Cinq-Mars representing to him that
their hostility  was directed solely against the cardinal, and
the latter was in great disfavour until he obtained a copy of the
treaty with Spain. The disclosure opened the king's eyes. The Duke
of Orleans, Cinq-Mars, Monsieur de  Thou, his intimate friend,
and de Bouillon were at once arrested. Orleans immediately turned
traitor to his  fellow conspirators, revealed every incident of
the plot, and was sentenced to exile. Cinq-Mars and de Thou  were
tried and executed. De Bouillon saved his life by relinquishing
his principality to France, any  hesitation there may have been
in sparing him on those terms being removed by the receipt of a
message  from the duchess, that if her husband were put to death
she would at once deliver Sedan into the hands of  the Spaniards.
De Bouillon was therefore pardoned, and in exchange for the surrender
of his principality,  his estates in France were to be enlarged,
and a considerable pension granted to him.

All this was a terrible trial to Turenne, who was deeply attached
to his brother, and who mourned not only  the danger he had incurred,
but that he should have broken his engagements, and while commanding
a  royal army should have plotted against the royal authority.

At the end of November the cardinal's illness, from which he had
long suffered, took an unfavourable turn,  and the king, who had
returned to Paris, went to see him.  Richelieu advised him to place
his confidence in  the two secretaries of state, Chavigny and de
Noyers, recommended Cardinal Mazarin strongly as first  minister of
the crown, and handed the king a document he had prepared barring
the Duke of Orleans from  any share in the regency in case of the
king's death, the preamble calling to mind that the king had five
times pardoned his brother, who had yet recently engaged in a fresh
plot against him. On the 2nd of  December, 1642, Richelieu died,
and the king, on the following day, carried out his last advice,
and  appointed Mazarin to a place in his council.

The year had passed quietly with Hector Campbell. His duties had
been but slight during the siege, and as  during his stay at Sedan
and in Switzerland he had continued to work hard at Italian, at the
former place  under a teacher, who instructed him in more courtly
dialect than that which he acquired from Paolo, so  during the six
months before Perpignan he had, after taking the advice of Turenne,
set himself to acquire a  knowledge of German. Working at this
for eight hours a day under the tuition of a German gentleman, who
had been compelled to leave the country when his native town was
captured by the Imperialists, he was  soon able to converse as
fluently in it as in Italian.

"It is in Germany that the next great campaign is likely to take
place," Turenne said to him, "and your  knowledge of German will be
of infinite utility to you. Fortunately for myself, Sedan standing
on the  border between the two countries, I acquired German as well
as French without labour, and while in  Holland spoke it rather
than French; the knowledge of languages is of great importance to
one who would  rise high in the army or at the court, and I am very
glad that you have acquired German, as it may be of  great use to
you if we are called upon to invade that country again, that is,
if the new council of the king are  as kindly disposed towards me
as Richelieu always showed himself to be; but I fear that ere long
there may  be changes. The king's health is very poor. He may not
live long, and then we have a regency before us, and  the regencies
of France have always been times of grievous trouble.

"Even had Richelieu lived he might not have been able to avert
such disasters. He and the queen have never  been friends, and he
would not have had the support from her that he has had from the
king, who, although  he no doubt fretted at times under Richelieu's
dictation, yet recognized his splendid genius, and knew that  he
worked heart and soul for the good of France. However, his death
is a sore misfortune. A regency needs  a strong head, but where is
it to come from? The Duke of Orleans is a schemer without principle,
weak,  easily led, ambitious, and unscrupulous. The Prince of Conde
is equally ambitious, even more grasping,  and much more talented.
There is no one else, save men like Chavigny, the father of our
friend here, de  Noyers, and some others of good family, honest and
capable business men, but who would speedily  become mere ciphers;
and Cardinal Mazarin, who has just been appointed to the council."

"Do you know him, sir?" Hector asked.

"I have seen him more than once. He is said to be very clever, and
it is no secret that he is nominated to the  council on Richelieu's
recommendation, which speaks volumes in his favour, for Richelieu
was a judge of  men, and must have believed, when recommending him,
that Mazarin would render good service to France.  But however
clever he is he cannot replace the great cardinal. On him was stamped
by nature the making of  a ruler of men. He was tall, handsome,
and an accomplished cavalier. Seeing him dressed as a noble among
noblemen, one would have picked him out as born to be the greatest
of them. No doubt this noble  appearance, aided by his haughty
manner and by his ruthlessness in punishing those who conspired
against  him, had not a little to do with his mastery over men.

"Mazarin is a man of very different appearance. He is dark in
complexion, handsome in a way, supple, and,  I should say, crafty;
an Italian rather than a Frenchman. Such a man will meet with
difficulties far greater  than those which assailed Richelieu. The
latter, personally fearless, went straight to his end, crushing
his  enemies if they stood in his way, possessed of an indomitable
will and unflinching determination. Mazarin,  if I mistake not,
will try to gain his end by other means -- by intrigues, by setting
those who oppose him  against each other, by yielding rather than
by striking. He is said to stand high in the queen's favour, and
this will be a great aid to him; for those who might rebel against
the authority of a cardinal will hesitate to  do so when he has
at his back the protection and authority of a queen.  However, we
must hope for the best.  It is probable that Richelieu acquainted
him with all his plans and projects, and urged him to carry them
into effect. I sincerely trust that he will do so; and in that case,
if he comes to the head of affairs, I should  assuredly serve him
as willingly and faithfully as I served Richelieu, knowing that it
will be for the good of  France."

It was, indeed, but a short time after the loss of his great adviser
that the king followed him to the tomb. He  had for long suffered
from bad health, and now that the statesman who had borne the
whole burden of  public affairs had left him, he felt the weight
overpowering. He had always been devoted to religious  exercises,
and saw his end approaching without regret, and died calmly and
peacefully on May 14, 1643.  By his will he left the queen regent.
He had never been on good terms with her, and now endeavoured
to  prevent her from having any real power. The Duke of Orleans
was appointed lieutenant general, but as the  king had rightly no
confidence in him, he nominated a council which, he intended, should
override both. It  was composed of the Prince of Conde, Cardinal
Mazarin, the chancellor, Seguerin, the secretary of state,  Chavigny,
and superintendent Bouthillier.  The king's will prohibited any
change whatever being made in  the council, but this proviso was
not observed. The queen speedily made terms with the ministers; and
when the little king was conducted in great state to the parliament
of Paris, the Duke of Orleans addressed  the queen, saying that he
desired to take no other part in affairs than that which it might
please her to give  him. The Prince of Conde said the same; and
that evening, to their astonishment, the queen having become  by
their resignation the sole head of the administration, announced
that she should retain Cardinal Mazarin  as her minister, and shortly
afterwards nominated Turenne to the command of the army in Italy.
Prince  Thomas had now broken altogether with the Spaniards,
finding that their protection was not available, for  the King of
Spain had been obliged to recall a considerable proportion of his
troops from Italy to suppress  an insurrection in Catalonia. Hector
did not accompany Turenne to Italy, for early in April Turenne had
said to him:

"There seems no chance of employment here at present, Campbell, while
there is likely to be some heavy  fighting on the Rhine frontier.

"The death of Richelieu has given fresh courage to the enemies of
France, and I hear that de Malo, the  governor of the Low Countries,
has gathered a large army, and is about to invade France. Our army
there is  commanded by the young Duc d'Enghien, the Prince of Conde's
son. He is but twenty-two, and of course  owes his appointment
to his father's influence. The king has, however, sent with him
Marshal de l'Hopital,  who will be his lieutenant and director.
I know Enghien well, and esteem his talents highly. He is brave,
impetuous, and fiery; but at the same time, if I mistake not,
cautious and prudent. I will give you a letter to  him. I shall
tell him that you have greatly distinguished yourself while on
my staff, and being anxious  above all things to acquire military
knowledge and to serve with honour, I have sent you to him, begging
him to give you the same post on his staff as you have had on mine,
asking it as a personal favour to  myself. This, I have no doubt,
he will grant. He has affected my company a good deal when I have
been in  Paris, and has evinced the greatest desire to learn as
much as he can of military matters from me."

"I am grateful indeed for your kindness, sir, of which I will most
gladly avail myself, and shall indeed be  pleased at the opportunity
of seeing a great battle."

"I wish to show my approbation of the manner in which you have,
since you left me in Italy, endeavoured  to do all in your power to
acquire useful knowledge, instead of wasting your time in idleness
or gambling,  to which so many young officers in the army give
themselves up."

The next day Hector and Paolo joined the army of Enghien as it was
on the march to Eperney. The former  was now within a few months
of seventeen, of middle height, strongly built, his hard exercise
and training  having broadened him greatly. He had a pleasant and
good tempered face, his hair, which was brown with a  tinge of
gold, clustered closely round his head, for he had not adopted the
French mode of wearing it in  long ringlets, a fashion unsuited
for the work of a campaign, and which de Lisle and Chavigny had in
vain  urged him to adopt. He was handsomely dressed, for he knew
that Conde would be surrounded by many of  the young nobles of
France. He wore his broad hat with feather; his helmet and armour
being carried,  together with his valises, on a sumpter mule led
by Paolo.

Putting up at an hotel, he made his way to the house occupied by
Enghien and the marshal. It was crowded  by young officers, many of
whom were waiting in an anteroom.  On one of the duke's chamberlains
approaching him Hector gave his name, and requested him to deliver
Viscount Turenne's letter to the  prince. In a few minutes his name
was called, to the surprise of those who had been waiting for some
time  for an interview. Enghien was seated at a table, from which
he rose as Hector entered.

"I am glad to see you, Captain Campbell, both for your own sake
and for that of Turenne, whom I greatly  love and admire. As I was
with Mielleraye during the campaign in the south, while you were
with Turenne,  we did not meet there, for though he once rode over
and stayed for a few days you did not accompany him.  But he has
told me of your adventure at Turin, and has spoken of your diligent
studies and your desire to  learn all that is known of the art
of war. I shall be glad indeed to have you riding with me, for I,
too, am a  diligent student in the art, though until last year I
had no opportunity whatever of gaining practical  knowledge. I envy
Turenne his good fortune in having been sent to begin to learn his
duty when he was but  fourteen.  He tells me that you were but a year
older when you rode to Italy with him. It humiliates me to  think
that while I am sent to command an army simply because my father
is a prince of the blood, Turenne  gained every step by merit, and
is a general in spite of the fact that his brother was an enemy
of the cardinal  and defied alike his power and that of the king.
However, I hope to show that I am not altogether unworthy  of my
position; and at least, like Turenne, I can lead my troops into
battle, and fight in their front, even if I  cannot always come out
victorious. Where have you put up your horses? With the best will
in the world, I  cannot put either room or stable at your disposal
today, for I believe that every cupboard in the house is  occupied;
but at our halting place tomorrow we shall be under canvas, and a
tent shall be assigned to you."

"I thank you, sir. I have fortunately been able to find quarters
at an inn."

"At any rate, I hope that you will sup with me. I will then introduce
you to some of my friends."

Enghien was at the age of twenty-two of a striking rather than
a handsome figure. His forehead was wide,  his eyes sunken and
piercing, his nose very prominent and hooked giving to his face
something of the  expression of an eagle's.  He resembled Turenne
in the eagerness with which in childhood he had devoted  himself
to his studies, and especially to military exercises; but except
that both possessed a remarkable  genius for war, and both were
extremely courageous, there was but slight resemblance between their
characters. While Turenne was prudent, patient, and thoughtful,
weighing duly every step taken, bestowing  the greatest pains upon
the comfort and well being of his troops, and careful as to every
detail that could  bring about success in his operations, Conde
was passionate and impetuous, acting upon impulse rather  than
reflection. Personally ambitious, impatient of opposition, bitter
in his enmities, his action and policy  were influenced chiefly
by his own ambitions and his own susceptibilities, rather than by
the thought of  what effect his action might have on the destinies
of France. He was a born general, and yet but a poor  leader of
men, one of the greatest military geniuses that the world has ever
seen, and yet so full of faults,  foibles, and weaknesses that,
except from a military point of view, the term "the Great Conde"
that  posterity has given him is but little merited.  He had much
brain and little heart. Forced by his father into a  marriage with
a niece of Richelieu's, he treated her badly and cruelly, although
she was devoted to him, and  was in all respects an estimable woman
and a true wife, and that in a court where virtue was rare indeed.

At supper that evening Enghien introduced Hector first to the
Marshal de l'Hopital and then to the young  nobles of his company.

"Monsieur Campbell," he said, "is the youngest of our party, and
yet he is, as the Viscount of Turenne  writes to me, one in whom
he has the greatest confidence, and who has so carefully studied
the art of war,  and so much profited by his opportunities, that
he would not hesitate to commit to him any command  requiring at
once courage, discretion, and military knowledge. No one, gentlemen,
could wish for a higher  eulogium from a greater authority. Turenne
has lent him to me for the campaign, and indeed I feel grateful  to
him for so doing. When I say, gentlemen, that it was he who saved
the citadel of Turin to our arms, by  undertaking and carrying
out the perilous work of passing through the city and the Spanish
lines to carry  word to the half starved garrison that succour would
arrive in a fortnight's time, and so prevented their  surrendering,
you will admit that Turenne has not spoken too highly of his
courage and ability. I have heard  the full details of the affair
from Turenne's own lips, when he paid a short visit to Paris
after that campaign  closed; and I should feel proud indeed had I
accomplished such an enterprise. Captain Campbell is a  member of
an old Scottish family, and his father died fighting for France
at the siege of La Rochelle, a  captain in the Scottish regiment.
And now, gentlemen, to supper."

It was a joyous meal, and of a character quite new to Hector.
Grave himself, Turenne's entertainments were  marked by a certain
earnestness and seriousness. He set, indeed, all his guests at
ease by his courtesy and  the interest he took in each; and yet
all felt that in his presence loud laughter would be out of place
and  loose jesting impossible.  Enghien, on the other hand, being
a wild and reckless young noble, one who  chose not his words, but
was wont to give vent in terms of unbridled hatred to his contempt
for those whom  he deemed his enemies, imposed no such restraint
upon his guests, and all talked, laughed, and jested as  they chose,
checked only by the presence of the gallant old marshal, who was
nominally Enghien's guide  and adviser.  Next to Hector was seated
General Gassion, one of the finest soldiers of the time. He, like
Hector, had no family influence, but had gained his position solely
by his own merits. He was enterprising  and energetic, and eager
to still further distinguish himself, and Hector was not long
in perceiving that  Enghien had his cordial support in combating
the prudent and cautious counsels of the marshal. He spoke  very
cordially to the young captain. He saw in him one who, like himself,
was likely to make his way by  merit and force of character, and
he asked him many questions as to his past history and the various
services in which he had been engaged.

"I hope some day to win my marshal's baton, and methinks that if
you have as good fortune as I have had,  and escape being cut off
by bullet or sabre, you, too, may look forward to gaining such
a distinction. You  see all these young men around us have joined
rather in the spirit of knight errants than that of soldiers.  Each
hopes to distinguish himself, not for the sake of advancing his
military career, but simply that he may  stand well in the eyes
of some court beauty. The campaign once over, they will return to
Paris, and think no  more of military service until another campaign
led by a prince of the blood like Enghien takes place, when  they
will again take up arms and fight in his company.

"Such campaigns as those under Turenne in Italy would be distasteful
in the extreme to them. They would  doubtless bear the hardships
as unflinchingly as we professional soldiers, but as soon as they
could with  honour retire you may be sure they would do so. It is
well for us that they should. Were it otherwise our  chances of
advancement would be rare indeed, while as it is there are plenty
of openings for men of  determination and perseverance who will
carry out precisely any order given to them, and who are always,
whether in the field or in winter quarters, under the eyes of
a commander like Turenne, who remains with  his army instead of
rushing off like d'Harcourt to spend his winter in the gaieties
of the court, and to receive  their smiles and praises as a reward
for his successes."

"I suppose, general, there is no doubt that we shall give battle
to the Spaniards?"

"No doubt whatever. It depends upon Enghien, though no doubt the
marshal will throw every obstacle in  the way.  In the first place,
there can be no denying that the Spanish infantry are superb, and
that Fuentes,  who commands them, is a fine old soldier, while
our infantry are largely composed of new levies. Thus,  though the
armies are not unequal in strength, l'Hopital may well consider
the chances of victory to be  against us. In the second place, in
a battle Enghien will be in command, and though all of us recognize
that  he possesses extraordinary ability, his impetuosity might
well lead to a disaster. Then the marshal must feel  that while
the glory of a victory would fall to Enghien, the discredit of a
defeat would be given to him,  while if aught happened to Enghien
himself the wrath of Conde and his faction would bring about his
disgrace.

"I doubt not that he has received instructions not to hazard
a battle except under extraordinary  circumstances, while Enghien
would, if possible, bring one about under any circumstances whatever.
Lastly, the king is desperately ill, ill unto death, some say, and
none can foretell what would take place  were we to suffer a heavy
defeat while France is without some great head to rally the nation
and again  show face to the Spaniards. At the same time, I may tell
you at once, that in this matter I am heart and soul  with Enghien.
I consider that did we shrink from battle now, it would so encourage
Spain and Austria that  they would put such a force in the field
as we could scarcely hope to oppose, while a victory would alter
the whole position and show our enemies that French soldiers are
equal to those of Spain, which at present  no one believes. And
lastly, if we win, Enghien, when his father dies, will be the foremost
man in France,  the leading spirit of the princes of the blood,
and having behind him the vast possessions and wealth  accumulated
by Conde, will be a power that even the greatest minister might
dread, and I need hardly say  that my marshal's baton would be very
appreciably nearer than it is at present."

"Then I may take it," Hector said with a smile, "that the chances
are in favour of a pitched battle."

"That is certainly so; l'Hopital's instructions are to force the
Spaniards, who have advanced against Rocroi,  to raise the siege,
but to do so if possible by manoeuvering, and to avoid anything
like a pitched battle. But  I fancy that he is likely to find
circumstances too strong for him, and that one of these mornings
we shall  stand face to face with the enemy.

The Spaniards are doubtless grand soldiers, and the army we shall
meet is largely composed of veteran  troops; but we must remember
that for years and years the Dutchmen, by nature peaceable and
for the most  part without training in arms, and although terribly
deficient in cavalry, have boldly withstood the power of  Spain."

"They seldom have met them in the open field," Hector said doubtfully.

"Not very often, I grant, though when allied with your countrymen
they fairly beat them on the sands near  Ostend, and that over and
over again they fought them in their breaches on even terms, and,
burghers  though they were, beat back Alva's choicest troops."

The next morning the army marched forward. Hector rode with the
group of young nobles who followed  Enghien.  Rocroi was a town of
considerable strength lying in the forest of Ardennes. It was the
key to the  province of Champagne, and its capture would open the
road to the Spaniards. The siege was being pressed  forward by
de Malo, who had with him an army of twenty-seven thousand veteran
troops, being five  thousand more than the force under Enghien. Gassion,
who as Enghien's lieutenant had the control of the  movements, so
arranged the marches that, while steadily approaching Rocroi, the
marshal believed that he  intended to force the Spaniards to fall
back, rather by menacing their line of communications than by
advancing directly against them.

After the first day Gassion invited Hector to ride with him, an
invitation which he gladly accepted, for the  conversation of his
younger companions turned chiefly upon court intrigues and love
affairs in Paris, and  on people of whose very names he was wholly
ignorant. Riding with Gassion across from one road to  another
along which the army was advancing, he was able to see much of the
movements of bodies of  troops through a country wholly different
from that with which he was familiar. He saw how careful the  general
was to maintain communication between the heads of the different
columns, especially as he  approached the enemy.

"De Malo ought," he said, "to have utilized such a country as this
for checking our advance. In these woods  he might have so placed
his men as to annihilate one column before another could come to
its assistance. I  can only suppose that he relies so absolutely
upon his numbers, and the valour and discipline of his  soldiers,
that he prefers to fight a pitched battle, where a complete success
would open the road to Paris,  and thus lay France at his feet and
bring the war to a conclusion at one stroke."



CHAPTER VIII:  ROCROI


Gassion conducted the movements of the army so adroitly that he
had brought it to within almost striking  distance of the Spanish
divisions before Marshal l'Hopital perceived the fact that it was
so placed that a  battle was almost inevitable. He besought Enghien
to fall back while there was yet time, pointing out the  orders
that had been given that a battle was not to be hazarded, and
the terrible misfortunes that would fall  upon France in case of
defeat. Enghien, however, was deaf to his advice, and refused to
acknowledge his  authority.

Turenne, under similar circumstances, would have drawn off and
forced the enemy to raise the siege by  threatening their line of
communications; but Turenne thought nothing of personal glory, and
fought only  for France. Enghien, on the other hand, throughout
his career was animated by personal motives, and cared  nothing
for the general welfare of France. Turenne was wholly unselfish;
Enghien was ready to sacrifice  anything or everything for his own
glory or interest. At present, surrounded as he was by young nobles
as  eager to fight as he was himself, and backed by Gassion, one
of the most able and enterprising soldiers of  the day, he declared
that he had come to fight and would do so. Even had l'Hopital known
the news that had  been received by Enghien, he would have been
powerless to check or control him. A courier had indeed the  day
before brought the young duke a despatch containing the news of the
king's death and peremptory  orders not to fight. Enghien simply
put the letter in his pocket, and the contents were known only to
Gassion and a few of his most intimate friends.

De Malo was as anxious to bring on a general engagement as was his
fiery opponent. He was kept well  informed of what was going on in
Paris, and knew that the king's death was imminent. His position
on a  plain, surrounded on all sides by woods and marshes with but
one approach, and that through a narrow  defile, was practically
impregnable; and by occupying the defile he could have kept the French
at bay  without the slightest difficulty until Rocroi surrendered.
He knew, too, that General Beck with a  considerable force was
hastening to join him; but he feared that prudent counsels might
at the last moment  prevail in the French camp, or that the news
of the king's death might reach them, and he therefore left the
defile open and allowed the French army to gain the plain and form
up in order of battle facing him,  without offering the slightest
opposition or firing a single gun.

It was late in the afternoon by the time the French were in position,
and as both commanders were anxious  that the battle should be
a decisive one neither took any step to bring on the fight, but
contented themselves  with preparing for the encounter next morning.
The night was cold and somewhat thick, and the positions  of the
two armies were marked by lines of fire. The march had been a long
and fatiguing one, and silence  soon fell upon the scene. Enghien
wrapped himself in his cloak, and, lying down by a watch fire, was
speedily asleep, wholly unoppressed by the tremendous responsibilities
that he had assumed, or the fact that  he had risked the destinies
of France for the sake of his personal ambition, and that in any
case the  slaughter that must ensue in the morning would be terrible.
Gassion, however, with a few of the older  officers, sat for hours
discussing the probabilities of the battle. Hector, remembering the
manner in which  Turenne exercised the most ceaseless vigilance,
and nightly inspected all the outposts, endeavouring to  ascertain
the plans and positions of the enemy, had, as night closed in,
requested Gassion's permission to go  the rounds.

"Certainly, if it so pleases you, Captain Campbell. The watchword
tonight is 'Conde', but I will in addition  give you a pass enjoining
all officers to allow you to go where you please, you being on
the staff of the  prince. I shall go round myself later on, for de
Malo may intend a night attack, by which he would certainly  gain
advantages. His troops are fresh, while ours are weary. He has had
every opportunity of studying the  ground, while it is all new to
us. Still, I hardly think that he will move till morning. Enterprise
is not the  strong point of the Spaniards, they love to fight in
solid bodies, and hitherto their infantry have never been  broken
by cavalry. At night they would lose the advantage of their steadiness
of formation. It is clear, by  his willingness to allow us to pass
the defile and take up this position, that de Malo is absolutely
certain of  victory and will wait, for daylight would permit him
to make his expected victory a complete one, while at  night great
numbers of our army would be able to make their escape through the
woods."

Hector returned to the spot where his horses were picketed with
those of Enghien's staff. He found Paolo  lying down under a tree
where he had been ordered to take up his post, so that Hector could
find him if  required.

"Are you asleep, Paolo?"

"No, master; I have been thinking about the battle tomorrow, and
where I had best bestow myself."

"As to that, Paolo, I should say that you had better keep with
the prince's servants here. You will, of course,  have your horse
saddled and be ready to ride on the instant. If we are victorious
there will be no occasion  for you to move, but if you see that
we are beaten, my orders are that you are not to think of waiting
for me.  I must keep with the others.  Doubtless the cavalry would
cover the retreat, and it would be a serious  inconvenience for
me to have to come here to look after you, therefore as soon as
you see that the day has  gone against us mount and ride. You can
wait at our halting place of last night until you see the prince's
party come along.  If I am alive I shall be with them; if not, my
advice to you is to ride south and to report  yourself to Turenne.
He will, I doubt not, either take you into his own service, or give
you such strong  recommendations that you will have no difficulty
in obtaining a post with some officer of distinction  should you
wish to continue with the army. Now, I am going along our line of
outposts, and I intend to  reconnoitre the ground between us and
the enemy. That is what Turenne would be doing were he in  command
here."

"I will go with you, master; when it comes to reconnoitering, methinks
that I am as good as another. I can  run like a hare, and though a
bullet would go faster, I am quite sure that none of these heavily
armed  Spaniards would have a chance of catching me."

"I intended to take you with me, Paolo. We shall need as much care
and caution here as we did in getting  into the citadel of Turin."

"I think, master, that it would be well for you to leave your armour
behind you. It will be of small avail if  you fall into the midst
of a band of Spanish spearmen, while it would be a sore hindrance
in passing  through these woods, and the lighter you are accoutred
the better."

"That is so, and I will take your advice. I will give it into the
charge of the horse guard. I will, of course,  take my sword and
pistols, and you may as well take yours."

"I like a knife better than a sword, master, but I will take the
both. I think it would be as well for you to lay  aside your helmet
also, for the light from one of these watchfires might glint upon
it and catch the eye of a  Spaniard."

"You are right, Paolo; have you got the hat?"

"Yes, sir, it is here with your valises."

"That is certainly more comfortable," Hector said as he put it on.
"Now, you had better carry the things  across to that fire where the
prince's staff are sitting. There is no fear of anyone interfering
with them  there."

As soon as this had been done they started, picking their way
carefully through numbers of sleeping men,  and stopping once or
twice to exchange a word with the groups still gathered round the
fires. First they  passed along the whole line of outposts, answering
the challenges by the words, "Officer of the prince's  staff on
duty." They found the sentries fairly vigilant, for with so powerful
an enemy within striking  distance every soldier felt that the
occasion was one for unusual watchfulness. At each post Hector
questioned the sentinels closely as to whether they had heard any
sounds indicating the movement of troops  in the interval between
the two armies, and in only one case was there an affirmative
answer.

"I heard a sound such as might be made by the clash of armour against
a tree or by an armed man falling.  I  have listened attentively
since, but have heard nothing more."

"From which direction did the noise seem to come?"

"From across there, sir. It seemed to me to come from that copse
in the hollow."

"That is just what I thought might be likely, Paolo," Hector said
as he walked on. "That hollow ground  between the armies, with its
wood and low brushwood, is just the place where an ambush might be
posted  with advantage. Turenne would have taken possession of it
as soon as darkness closed in, for it would not  only prevent the
possibility of the army being taken by surprise during the night,
but it might be invaluable  during the fight tomorrow, for a force
ambushed there might take an advancing enemy in the rear. We will
go farther on till we get to a point where the brushwood extends
nearly up to our line. We will enter it  there, and make our
way along until we see whether de Malo has taken advantage of our
failure to utilize  the wood."

As soon as they reached the point he indicated they moved forward,
crouching low until they reached the  bushes; then they crawled
along, keeping outside but close to them.  In this way they would
be invisible to  any sentries posted near the edge of the wood,
and would also avoid the risk of drawing the enemy's  attention by
accidentally breaking a dried branch or even snapping a twig. In
ten minutes they entered the  wood that extended along the greater
portion of the hollow.

"Keep on your hands and knees," Hector whispered, "and feel the
ground as you go to make sure that there  are no broken branches
that would crack if you placed your knee upon them. We may come upon
the  Spaniards at any moment. Keep close to me. Touch me if you
hear the slightest sound, and I will do the  same to you. The touch
will mean stop. Move your sword along the belt till the handle is
round at your  back; in that way there will be no risk of it striking
a tree or catching in a projecting root."

"I will do that, master, and will keep my knife between my teeth.
It may be that we shall come upon a  Spanish sentinel who may need
silencing."

"No, Paolo; only in the last extremity and to save our lives must
we resort to arms. Were a sentry found  killed in the morning they
would know that their position in the wood had been discovered. It
is most  important that they should believe that their ambush is
unsuspected."

Their progress was very slow. When they were nearly opposite the
centre of their position Paolo was  suddenly touched by his master.
They listened intently, and could hear at no great distance ahead
low  sounds at regular intervals.

"Men snoring," Paolo whispered in his ear.

They moved forward again even more cautiously than before. Presently
they stopped, for at the edge of the  wood facing the camp they
heard a slight movement and a low clash of arms, as if a sentinel
on the lookout  had changed his position. Feeling sure that the
guards would all be placed along the edge of the wood, they  moved
forward again, stopping every few yards to listen. There was no doubt
now that they were close to a  large body of sleepers. Occasional
snores, broken murmurs, and a sound as one turned from side to side
rose from in front of them.

"You go round on one side, I will go round on the other, Paolo. We
will meet again when we have passed  beyond them.  It is important
that we should form some estimate as to their numbers."

In half an hour they met again, and crawled along for some distance
side by side in silence.

"How many should you say, Paolo?"

"They were lying four deep as far as I could make out, master. I kept
very close to the outside line. I could  not count them accurately
because of the trees, but I should say that there were about two
hundred and fifty  in a line."

"That was very close to what I reckoned them at. At any rate, it
is a regiment about a thousand strong. They  are musketeers, for
several times I went close enough to feel their arms. In every case
it was a musket and  not a pike that my hand fell on. Now we will
go on till we are opposite our last watchfire, and then crawl up
the hill."

They were challenged as they approached the lines.

"A friend," Hector replied. "An officer of the prince's staff."

"Give the countersign," the soldier said.

"Conde."

"That is right, but wait until I call an officer."

"Good! but make no noise; that is important."

The sentinel went to the watchfire, and an officer sitting there
at once rose and came forward.

"Advance, officer of the staff!" he said in low tones. "That is
right, monsieur," he went on as Hector  advanced close enough to
be seen by the light of the fire.

"I have a special pass signed by General Gassion," he said.

The officer took it, and looked at it by the light of the fire.

"That is all in order," he said as he returned it; "but the sentry
had the strictest orders that no one coming  from the side of the
enemy was to be allowed to enter our lines, even if he gave the
countersign correctly,  until he had been examined by an officer."

"He did his duty, sir. One cannot be too careful on the eve of battle.
A straggler might stray away and be  captured, and be forced under
pain of death to give up the countersign, and once in our lines
much  information might be obtained as to our position. However,
I hardly think that any such attempts will be  made. The Spaniards
saw us march in and take up our position, and must have marked
where our cavalry  and artillery were posted. Good night!"

The greater part of the night had already gone, for in May the days
are already lengthening out. After the  troops had fallen out from
their ranks wood had to be collected and rations cooked, and it was
past ten  o'clock before any of them lay down, and an hour later,
before Hector left on his expedition. The  examination of the
outposts had taken more than an hour; it was now three o'clock in
the morning, and the  orders were that the troops should all be
under arms before daybreak. Hector returned to the spot where he
had left General Gassion. All was quiet there now, and he lay down
until, somewhat before five, a bugle  sounded. The signal was
repeated all along the line, and almost at the same moment the
Spanish trumpets  told that the enemy, too, were making preparations
for the day's work. General Gassion was one of the first  to spring
to his feet. Hector at once went up to him.

"I have come to report, general," he said, "that I have reconnoitred
along the whole line of wood in the  hollow in front, and have
found that a regiment of musketeers about a thousand strong have
been placed in  ambush there."

"Then, by heavens, you have done us good service indeed, Captain
Campbell! They might have done us an  ill turn had we advanced
knowing nothing of their presence there. Nothing shakes troops more
than a  sudden attack in the rear. Please come across with me and
repeat the news that you have given me to the  prince himself."

There was bustle all along the line. The troops were falling into
their ranks, stamping their feet to set the  blood in motion,
swinging their arms, and growling at the sharp morning air. At the
headquarters bivouac  the young nobles were laughing and jesting
as they prepared to mount.

"Where is the prince?" Gassion asked.

"There he lies under his cloak, general. He is still fast asleep.
It is evident that the thought of the coming  battle does not weigh
heavily upon him. I acknowledge that I have not closed an eye; I
do not think that any  of us have done so."

So sound, indeed, was the prince's sleep that Gassion had to shake
him almost roughly to rouse him.

As soon, however, as his eyes opened he leapt to his feet. "I
have had a wonderful night," he laughed;  "never have I slept more
soundly on a down bed than on this hard ground, which, however, as
I find, makes  my bones ache wonderfully. Well, it is a fine day
for a battle. What is your news, Gassion?"

"It is important, monseigneur. Captain Campbell has spent the night
in reconnoitering on his own account,  and has discovered that
a thousand Spanish musketeers are lying in ambush in the copse in
the hollow."

"Is that so?" the duke said shortly. "Well, Captain Campbell, you
have rendered us a vital service indeed,  and one that I shall not
forget. However, now we are forewarned, we shall know how to deal
with them. If I  should fall, Gassion, and you should survive,
see that Captain Campbell's service is duly represented. Now,  to
horse, gentlemen!"

The morning sun rose on the 20th of May on a brilliant scene. The
two armies were disposed along slightly  elevated ridges, between
which lay the hollow with its brushwood and copses. Enghien commanded
the  cavalry on the right wing, with Gassion as second in command.
In place of his helmet the prince wore a hat  with large white
plumes, remembering, perhaps, how Henri of Navarre's white plumes
had served as a  rallying point. Marshal l'Hopital commanded the
cavalry on the French left, Baron d'Espenan commanded  the infantry
in the centre, and Baron Sirot the reserves. The right of the
Spanish army was composed of the  German horse led by de Malo, the
Walloons on the left were under the Duke of Albuquerque, while in
the  centre were the veteran Spanish infantry under the command
of General Fuentes, who had often led them to  victory. He was too
old and infirm to mount a horse, but lay in a litter in the midst
of his hitherto  unconquerable infantry.

All being ready on both sides, the trumpet sounded, and simultaneously
the cavalry of both armies moved  forward. Enghien moved farther to
the right, and then dashing down the slopes led his cavalry along
the  bottom, fell suddenly upon the musketeers in ambush and cut
them to pieces. Then galloping forward he  fell upon the Spanish
left in front and flank. The impetuous charge was irresistible; the
Walloons broke and  fled before it, and were speedily scattered over
the plain, pursued by the victorious French.  But upon the  other
wing de Malo's charge had proved equally irresistible. L'Hopital's
horse was broken and scattered,  and, wheeling his cavalry round,
de Malo fell upon the flank and rear of d'Espenan's infantry,
shattered  them at once, captured the whole of the French artillery,
and then fell upon the reserves. Baron Sirot, an  officer of great
courage and ability, held them together and for a time repelled
the attack of the German  cavalry; but these, inspirited by their
previous success, continued their attacks with such fury that the
reserves began to waver and fall back. Enghien was still in pursuit
of the Walloons when an officer rode up  with news of the disaster
that had befallen the rest of the army. Enghien grasped the
situation instantly, and  his military genius pointed out how the
battle might yet be retrieved. His trumpets instantly recalled his
scattered squadrons, and galloping round the Spanish centre he fell
like a thunderbolt upon the rear of de  Malo's cavalry, already
exulting in what appeared certain victory.

Astounded at this unlooked for attack, they in vain bore up
and tried to resist it; but the weight and impetus  of the French
assault bore all before it, and they clove their way through the
confused mass of cavalry  without a pause. Then wheeling right and
left they charged into the disorganized crowd of German  horsemen,
who, unable to withstand this terrible onslaught, broke and fled,
de Malo himself galloping off  the field with his disorganized
troopers. Never was a more sudden change in the fate of a great
battle. The  French cause had appeared absolutely lost; one wing
and their centre were routed; their reserves had  suffered heavily,
and were on the point of giving way. Humanly speaking, the battle
seemed hopelessly  lost, and yet in ten minutes victory had been
converted into defeat, and the right and left wings of the  Spanish
army had ceased to exist as collected bodies.  There remained the
Spanish infantry, and Enghien,  recklessly courageous as he was,
hesitated to attack the solid formation that had hitherto proved
invincible.

While still doubting whether, having defeated the rest of the army,
it might not be best to allow this  formidable body to march away
unmolested, news reached him that General Beck, with his reinforcements,
would be on the ground in an hour. This decided him, and he ordered
the whole of the guns that had been  rescued from their late
captors to be turned on the Spanish square, and then, collecting
his cavalry into a  mass, dashed at it. The Spaniards remained
motionless till the French line was within twenty yards of them,
then men stepped aside, a number of guns poured their contents
into the cavalry, while a tremendous volley  swept away their front
line. So terrible was the effect, so great the confusion caused by
the carnage, that  had the Walloon cavalry been rallied and returned
to the field, the tide of the battle might again have been  changed;
but they were miles away, and Enghien rallied his men without a
moment's delay, while the  French artillery again opened fire upon
the Spanish square. Again the French cavalry charged and strove
to  make their way into the gaps made by the artillery, but before
they reached the face of the square these  were closed up, and the
guns and musketry carried havoc among the French squadrons, which
again  recoiled in confusion. Once more Enghien rallied them, and,
when the French artillery had done their work,  led them forward
again with a bravery as impetuous and unshaken as that with which
he had ridden in front  of them in their first charge; nevertheless
for the third time they fell back, shattered by the storm of iron
and  lead. Enghien now brought up his artillery to close quarters,
Baron de Sirot led up the infantry of the  reserve, and the attack
was renewed.

The aged Spanish general, though streaming with blood from several
wounds, still from his litter  encouraged his soldiers, who, stern
and unmoved, filled up the gaps that had been made, and undauntedly
faced their foes. But the struggle could not be long continued.
The square was gradually wasting away, and  occupied but half the
ground which it had stood upon when the battle began. And Fuentes,
seeing that  further resistance could only lead to the annihilation
of his little band, felt that no more could be done.  There were
no signs of Beck coming to his assistance.  Indeed the troops of
that general had been met by  the cavalry in their flight; these
communicated their own panic to them, and such was the alarm that
the  division abandoned its baggage and guns and fled from the field,
where their arrival might still have turned  the tide of battle.

Fuentes at last ordered his officers to signal their surrender.
Enghien rode forward, but, the Spanish soldiers  believing that,
as before, he was but leading his cavalry against them, poured in
a terrible volley. He  escaped by almost a miracle, but his soldiers,
maddened by what they believed to be an act of treachery,  hurled
themselves upon the enemy.  The square was broken, and a terrible
slaughter ensued before the  exertions of the officers put a stop to
it. Then the remaining Spaniards surrendered. The battle of Rocroi
was to the land forces of Spain a blow as terrible and fatal as
the destruction of the Armada had been to  their naval supremacy.
It was indeed a death blow to the power that Spain had so long
exercised over  Europe. It showed the world that her infantry
were no longer irresistible, and while it lowered her prestige  it
infinitely increased that of France, which was now regarded as the
first military power in Europe.

The losses in the battle were extremely heavy. The German and
Walloon cavalry both suffered very  severely, while of the Spanish
infantry not one man left the battlefield save as a prisoner, and
fully two-thirds of their number lay dead on the ground. Upon the
French side the losses were numerically much  smaller. The German
cavalry, after routing those of l'Hopital, instead of following up
the pursuit hurled  themselves upon the infantry, who broke almost
without resistance. These also escaped with comparatively  little
loss, de Malo leading the cavalry at once against the French reserves.
Among the cavalry commanded  by Enghien the loss was very heavy,
and included many gentlemen of the best blood of France. There was
no pursuit; half the French cavalry were far away from the field,
the rest had lost well nigh half their  number, and were exhausted
by the fury of the fight; indeed, the fugitive cavalry were miles
away before  the conflict ended. The gallant old general, Fuentes,
expired from his wounds soon after the termination of  the battle.

Hector was with the body of young nobles who followed close behind
Enghien in the three first desperate  charges.  In the third his
horse was shot under him just as the cavalry recoiled from the
deadly fire of the  square. He partly extracted his foot from the
stirrup as he fell, but not sufficiently to free him, and he was
pinned to the ground by the weight of the horse. It was well for
him that it was so, for had he been free he  would assuredly have
been shot down as he followed the retreating cavalry. This thought
occurred to his  mind after the first involuntary effort to extricate
his leg, and he lay there stiff and immovable as if dead. It  was
a trying time. The balls from the French cannon whistled over his
head, the musket shots flew thickly  round him, and he knew that
ere long the attack would be renewed.

Fortunately the fourth advance of the French did not come directly
over him, the commanders purposely  leading their troops so as to
avoid passing over the ground where so many of the young nobles
had fallen.  Not until the last musket had been discharged and the
cessation of the din told that all was over, did he  endeavour to
rise. Then he sat up and called to two dismounted soldiers, who were
passing near, to aid him.  They at once came up, and soon lifted
the horse so far that he was able to withdraw his leg. His thick
jackboot had protected it from injury, although it had been partly
the cause of his misfortune, for the sole  had caught against
the side of the horse and so prevented him from withdrawing it.
Nevertheless, his leg  was so numbed that it was some time before
he could limp away. He retraced his steps towards the spot  where
he had mounted at starting.  He had not gone far when he saw Paolo
galloping towards him. The  young fellow gave a shout of joy as he
recognized him, and a minute later drew rein by his side and leapt
off his horse.

"Thank God I see you alive again, master! Are you wounded?"

"No; my horse was killed and fell upon my foot, and has no doubt
bruised it a bit, otherwise I am unhurt."

"It has been terrible, master. I climbed up into that tree beneath
which we halted yesterday and watched the  battle. I shouted with
joy when I saw Enghien clear out the ambuscade, and again when he
drove the  Walloon horse away; then everything seemed to go wrong.
I saw the marshal's cavalry on the left driven off  the field like
chaff before the wind. Then the centre broke up directly they were
charged; and as the enemy  fell upon the reserve it seemed to me
that all was lost. Then I saw Enghien and his horsemen coming along
like a whirlwind, bursting their way through the enemy's horse, and
in turn driving them off the field. I  hoped then that the battle
was all over, and that the Spanish infantry would be allowed to
march away; but  no, my heart fell again when, time after time,
our cavalry dashed up against them, and each time fell back  again,
leaving the slope behind them covered with dead men and horses; and
I shouted aloud when I saw  the artillery move up and the reserves
advancing. As soon as I saw that the square was broken and a
terrible  melee was going on, I knew that all was over, and could
restrain my impatience no longer, so I mounted my  horse with, I may
say, small hope of finding you alive, seeing that you rode behind
Enghien, whose white  plumes I could see ever in front of the line."

"It has been a marvellous victory, Paolo, and there can be no doubt
that Enghien has covered himself with  glory. It was his quick
eye that saw what there was to be done, his brain that instantly
directed the blow  where alone it could be effectual, and his
extraordinary bravery that roused the enthusiasm of those around
him to a point at which no man thought of his life. But for him it
was a lost battle."

"Well, master, I am glad that we have won the battle, but that is
as nothing to me in comparison that you  have come out of it safely,
and I think, master, that we have a right to say that we helped
in some degree to  bring about the victory by discovering that
ambuscade down in the hollow."

"That had not occurred to me, Paolo," Hector laughed.  "No doubt
it was a fortunate discovery, for had the  musketeers lain hidden
there until we were beaten back after our first charge, and then
poured their fire into  us, it would doubtless have thrown us into
some confusion, and might even have caused a panic for a  while."

"Now, master, if you will mount this horse I will be off and catch
another; there are scores of them running  about riderless, some of
them belonging to the marshal's men, but many more to the Germans,
and a few  that galloped off riderless each time Enghien fell back."

"Don't take one of those, Paolo; it might be claimed by its master's
lackeys; get one of the best German  horses that you can find. You
might as well get two if you can, for I want a second horse while
I am here  with the prince."



CHAPTER IX:  HONOURS


In half an hour Paolo returned leading two horses. By their trappings
and appearance both had evidently  belonged to officers.

"Take off the trappings," Hector said, "then put a saddle on one
for me; shift your own saddle on to the  other, and picket your own
with the spare horses of the staff, then we will ride over and get
my saddle,  bridle, holsters, and trappings. The horse has carried
me well ever since I left Paris, and I am grieved  indeed to lose
it."

"So am I, master; it was a good beast, but I think that either
of these is as good, though it will be long  before I get to like
them as I did Scotty. We shall want housings for this second horse,
master."

"Yes; there will be no difficulty about that. There are scores
of dead horses on the field; choose one without  any embroidery
or insignia. You may as well take another pair of holsters with
pistols."

Riding across to the spot where Enghien and his officers were forming
up the prisoners, talking courteously  to the Spanish officers and
seeing to the wounded, Hector, leaving Paolo to find his fallen
horse and shift  his trappings to the one that he rode, cantered
up to the spot where Enghien's white plume could be seen in  the
midst of a group of officers, among whom was General Gassion. He
saluted as he came up.

"I am glad indeed to see you, Captain Campbell," Enghien said warmly,
holding out his hand; "I feared that  you were killed. Some of my
friends told me that you were struck down in the third charge, and
that they  had not seen you since and feared that you were slain."

"My horse was killed, prince, and in falling pinned me to the
ground, and being within thirty yards of the  Spanish square, I
lay without movement until you came back again and broke them. Then
some soldiers so  far lifted my horse that I could get my foot from
under it, my servant found and caught a riderless German  horse,
and here I am unharmed."

"Well, sir, at the time that you came up General Gassion was just
telling these gentlemen that had it not  been for you things might
have gone very differently. Had you not discovered that ambush
their fire would  have been fatal to us, for we fell back, as you
know, farther than the copse, and a volley from a thousand  muskets
would have played havoc among us, and after so terrible a repulse
might well have decided the day  against us. For this great service,
rendered by you voluntarily and without orders, I as commander-in-chief
of this army, with the full and warm approval of General Gassion,
appoint you to the rank of colonel, a rank  which I am sure will be
confirmed by the queen's minister when I report to him my reasons
for the  promotion. General Gassion reports that the man who
accompanied you on this reconnaissance was the  same who followed
you in the expedition to Turin. As he is not a soldier I cannot
promote him, but I will  order my chamberlain to hand him a purse
of a hundred pistoles. When you return to Turenne, tell him that  I
owe him my best thanks for having sent you to me, and that, thanks
to the aid of his teaching, you have  been the means of preventing
a great disaster to our forces."

"I thank you, indeed, monsieur, for your kindness, and for promoting
me so far beyond my merits, but I  hope in the future I shall be
able to still further prove my gratitude."

"That is proved already," Gassion said, "for although every man
today has fought like a hero, you were the  only one in camp that
suspected that the Spanish might be lying in an ambush, and who not
only thought it,  but took means to find out whether it was so."

The next morning Enghien informed Hector that he was elected as
one of the three officers who were to  have the honour of carrying
his despatches to Paris, and that he was to start in half an hour.
Paolo, who was  in the highest state of delight at the purse that
had been presented to him the evening before, was greatly  pleased
with the prospect.

"Heaven be praised, master, that you are not going into another
battle! It was well nigh a miracle that you  escaped last time,
and such good luck does not befall a man twice. I have never seen
Paris, and greatly do I  long to do so. How they will shout when
they hear the news we bring!"

"It will not be altogether news to them, Paolo. La Moussaie,
Enghien's intimate friend, who acted as his  aide-de-camp during
the battle, was sent off ten minutes after the fight ended with
a paper, on which the  prince had pencilled that he had utterly
defeated the enemy. He will change horses at every post, and will
be in Paris by this evening. We bear the official despatches, giving
a full account of the battle, and of the  total destruction of the
Spanish infantry, with no doubt a list of the nobles and gentlemen
who have fallen.  Well, I should think now, Paolo, that when we
have seen enough of Paris and we have journeyed down to  Perpignan
again, you will leave my service and buy a farm; you can afford a
substantial one now."

"What, master! I leave your service, where gold comes in in showers,
and where one serves a master whom  one loves? No, sir, I am not
such a fool as that. I do not say that when the war is over I may
not settle down  in a snug home among the mountains of Savoy, but
not until then; besides, I am but eighteen, and a nice  hand I
should make at managing a farm."

"Well, get the horses ready at once and the valises packed. You
can put them on my spare horse. The mule  will scarce keep up with
us, for we shall certainly travel fast, so you had best hand it
over to someone who  you think will treat it kindly."

Twenty minutes later Hector, and two officers who had distinguished
themselves especially in the battle,  sat mounted before the tent
that had now been raised for d'Enghien.  The young prince himself
came out.  "Gentlemen," he said, handing the three sealed packets,
"you will present these to the queen, who is now  Regent of France,
for Louis XIII died a week ago. They contain the despatches and
reports of myself and  General Gassion. Your packet, colonel," he
added to Hector, "is General Gassion's report; it goes more  fully
into military details than mine. You, Monsieur de Penthiere, carry
my despatches in reference to the  battle of yesterday. You, Monsieur
de Caussac, are the bearer of my plans for our future operations.
I think  that you will all agree with me that, after the battle we
have won, we shall be able to make ourselves  masters of Flanders
with but slight resistance."

The three officers bowed their agreement with the words.

"I know not who is in power or on whom the queen chiefly relies
for counsel, but should any questions be  put to you, you will,
I hope, be able to express the urgency of prompt action in this
matter before the  Spaniards have time to rally from the terrible
blow that this defeat has inflicted upon them. And now,  gentlemen,
a rapid and pleasant journey.  Orders were sent on last night that
four sets of fresh horses should  be in readiness along the road.
They are my own horses, and good ones. Twelve troopers will accompany
you; three of these will remain behind at each stage where you
change, and the horses that you have used  will be brought on at a
more leisurely pace after you. They will readily find out in Paris
where you are  lodged, and I beg that you will retain the horses
as a slight proof of my goodwill."

Then he waved his hand and went into his tent again.  The three
lackeys, each holding a spare horse, were  sitting in readiness
for a start some fifty yards away. After a moment's conversation
the officers rode up to  them.

"You must follow us quietly," one of them said. "For today you can
keep up with us to the end of the first  stage.  Three fresh horses
have been provided for us, for we ride without a stop to Paris.
Three soldiers will  there take charge of the horses we ride. When
we go on you will follow quietly with the horses that you are  now
leading. It will be impossible for you to keep up with us."

Then they placed themselves at the head of their escort of dragoons,
the lackeys fell in behind them, and  they started at a fast pace.

"Do you know where the first relays are?" one of the officers asked
the sergeant in charge of the escort,  after they had ridden three
or four miles.

"The first is at Rethel, monsieur, the second at Rheims, the third
at Chateau-Thierry, the fourth at Meaux."

"Then we will ride on at once. You have your orders?"

"Yes, sir."

Whereupon the three officers quickened their pace. The distance to
be traversed was about a hundred and  thirty miles, and as they had
five horses, including those they rode, each stage would average
about twenty-six miles.

"Now, gentlemen," de Penthiere said, "it seems to me that it would
be a pity to founder fifteen good horses  in order to gain an hour
on this journey. The queen has already received news of the victory,
or at least she  will receive it some time today, therefore the
details we bring are not of particular importance. It is now  eight
o'clock. If we were to gallop all the way we might do it in twelve
hours. The roads in many places  will be bad, and we must stop for
meals at least three times; with the utmost speed we could hardly
be in  Paris in less than fifteen hours. Her majesty will scarce
want to read long despatches at that time, and may  take it that
we ourselves will need a bath and a change of garments, and the
services of a barber, before we  could show ourselves in court.
Had we been bearers of the original despatch, we might have gone
in  splashed from head to foot. As it is, it seems to me that if
we present ourselves with our papers at seven in  the morning we
shall have done that which is necessary. What do you both say?"

"I agree with you, de Penthiere. It would be a sore pity to injure
good horses by galloping them at the top of  their speed, to say
nothing of knocking ourselves up. Had we been sent off from the
field of battle I should  have said, spare neither the horses nor
ourselves. But indeed it seems to me that tomorrow morning will be
quite early enough for us to present ourselves and our despatches.
To tell you the truth, I have never ridden  a hundred and thirty
miles or so at the pace of a courier. I should say let us go at
a reasonable pace, and get  into Paris soon after midnight, which
will give us time for some little sleep, and afterwards to make
ourselves presentable. What say you, Colonel Campbell?"

"I have no opinion, messieurs. I know nothing of the manners of the
court, and if you think that tomorrow  morning will be quite soon
enough for us to deliver the despatches I am quite willing to fall
in with your  view. It is certainly a long ride, and as we marched
hither we found that the roads were very bad, and  certainly where
the army has passed they are so cut up by the artillery and wagons
that they are sure to be  quite unfit for going at racing speed.
Therefore I think that if we present ourselves at the palace early
in the  morning, we shall have done all that can be expected of
us."

It was indeed two o'clock in the morning when they arrived at the
gates of Paris. Accustomed though they  all were to horse exercise,
the journey had been a very fatiguing one. Until night fell they
had ridden  briskly, talking as they went on the probable state of
affairs in France and of the military operations that  were likely
to be undertaken as the result of the victory, but progress became
slow after darkness set in. The  roads were in many places detestably
bad. In passing through forests it was not possible to travel much
beyond a walk, as it was necessary not only to avoid overhanging
arms of trees, but to keep the track, for  the road in many places
was nothing more.

Once or twice they lost it altogether, and it was only when they
hit upon the house of a peasant or a little  village, and obtained
a guide, that they were able to recover their road. Consequently all
were thoroughly  exhausted when they reached Paris. The gates were
opened to them when it was understood that they bore  despatches
from the army. They made their way to the Hotel Conde. It was
illuminated, for the prince had  given a great banquet in honour
of the victory won by his son; and although most of the guests had
left long  before, a party of the closest friends and connections
of the prince were holding an informal council, when  the word
came to them that three officers had arrived with despatches from
the Duc d'Enghien. The prince  came down.  Hector had dismounted
without assistance, but the other two officers had to be lifted
from  their saddles.

"Are you bearers of any special news, de Penthiere?" the prince
asked; for the two young nobles were well  known to him.

"No, monseigneur, save that our despatches give full details of
the battle."

"What is our loss?"

"It is very heavy," de Penthiere said. "Fully a hundred men of
good blood have fallen. The loss principally  fell upon the cavalry
commanded by the duke, who three times charged the Spanish infantry,
and only  succeeded at the fourth attempt in breaking their square."

"And the Spanish infantry?"

"Every man was either killed or taken."

"Glorious!" the prince said. "Well, I will not detain you now, for
I see that you can scarce stand, and it  would be cruel to keep
you up, much as we desire to hear the particulars."

"I think, monseigneur, that this gentleman, Colonel Campbell, is
more in a condition to talk to you than de  Caussac or myself."

"I shall be happy to answer any questions," Hector said, bowing
to the prince. "I have been campaigning for  the last four years
under Monsieur de Turenne, and am accustomed to long journeys and
sleepless nights."

"Thank you, colonel. We will not keep you up long."

Some lackeys were ordered to assist the two young nobles to couches,
and then Conde and his companions  left the courtyard and entered
a small saloon where they had supped two hours before. Some fresh
bottles  of wine and cold viands were at once placed upon the table.
Hector drank off a goblet of wine.

"Now, Monsieur le Prince, I will tell you all I know about the
fight." And he gave Conde and his  companions a brief sketch of
the various movements and changes of the battle.

"It was a hard fought field indeed," Conde said, "and the result
is a glorious one for France. Now we will  keep you no longer from
your couch."

"May I ask, sir, at what time we ought to present ourselves with
the despatches at the palace?"

"It will not be necessary for you to present yourselves before ten
o'clock, for it was late last night before her  majesty retired.
Paris was wild at the news of the victory, and the reception at
the palace was crowded.  Still, I should say that at ten it would
be well that you and your companions should attend there, though
you  may have to wait for an hour or more for an audience."

At ten o'clock Hector and his companions presented themselves at
the palace. Seven hours' sleep, a warm  bath, and the services of
the barber, who curled the hair of the two young nobles and sprinkled
them all  with perfume, did much to restore them, though they were
all somewhat stiff, and every bone seemed to  ache. They were kept
waiting for half an hour, at the end of which time the door of the
antechamber was  opened and their names were called. The queen, who
was still a beautiful woman, was standing talking to a  gentleman,
in whose attire there were but few symbols that would betray to a
stranger that he was an  ecclesiastic of high rank.

"You are the bearers of despatches from the army, messieurs?"

"We have that honour, your majesty," de Penthiere, who was the
senior of the party, said. "We arrived from  Paris at two o'clock
this morning, but did not venture to disturb your majesty at that
hour."

"You did rightly," the queen said graciously. "We already knew that
a great victory had been gained, and  could afford to wait for the
particulars. Do you each bear a despatch?"

"We do, your majesty," de Penthiere said, producing that which
he bore. "This, your majesty, is the general  report of the Duc
d'Enghien of the events of the battle. Colonel Campbell is intrusted
with the more detailed  description of General Gassion. Monsieur
de Caussac's despatch contains the duke's views as to the  carrying
on of the campaign; these he submits to the judgment of your majesty
and the council."

Cardinal Mazarin stepped forward and took the three documents.

"These we will peruse and consider at our leisure," the queen
said, "and I shall, I hope, see you at my levee  this evening. In
the meantime I thank you for your service in having brought the
despatches so speedily  here, and am well aware that the fact that
you have been chosen as the messengers of the commander-in-chief
is in itself a proof that your share in the battle was in the
highest degree honourable."

She graciously held out her hand, which de Penthiere and his companions,
dropping upon one knee, raised  to their lips, one after the other.

"You are aware of the contents of the despatches, cardinal," the
queen said when they were alone.

"Of their general scope, madam. The Prince of Conde did me the
honour to call upon me at eight this  morning.  He had gathered a
general account of the battle from the lips of that young Scottish
colonel, who  was the only one of the party who was capable of
relating it, the others being almost speechless with  fatigue, for
the road from Rocroi hither is long and rough."

"You may well say the young Scottish colonel, cardinal.  He is
but a youth, and it is strange indeed that he  should already have
attained that rank."

"He has served for four years under the Viscount Turenne,"
Mazarin said, "and must therefore have had  good opportunities of
distinguishing himself. Still, it is seldom indeed that any save
one of royal blood or  of the very highest families obtains such
a rank so quickly. Turenne, however, was himself a colonel after
less than four years service."

"Yes, cardinal, but he had the advantage of belonging to the family
of an almost independent sovereign."

"Conde said that he had himself asked the young man how it was
that he had won it, and he replied that it  was solely due to the
kindness of the Duc d'Enghien, who had been pleased to consider
a small service he  had rendered as worthy of recognition. It is
like enough, your majesty, that we shall see his name  mentioned
in one of these documents.  It is certain that he would not have
been chosen to carry the  despatches -- a duty which is regarded
as a reward of the most distinguished service -- unless he had done
something of marked importance."

The two French officers on leaving the palace at once went off
to pay their respects in the first place to the  heads of their
families, and afterwards to visit the various circles and coteries
with which they were  connected, and where they would be sure of a
flattering welcome and attentive listeners.  Hector, for his  part,
rode direct to the quarters of the colonel of the Scottish regiment.
A soldier came out and took the  bridle of his horse as he saluted,
while a sergeant asked what name he should announce.

"Then you do not remember me, Sergeant Macfarlane?"

The soldier looked at him earnestly. "Why," he exclaimed suddenly,
"it's Hector Campbell!"

"Right enough, sergeant."

"You have changed mightily, sir; you were but a laddie when you
went away nigh four years ago. The  news came to the regiment that
you had been made a captain, and proud we all were. The colonel
will be  right glad to see you," and he led the way into the house.

"Then the regiment has not been on service just lately?"

"We had two years on the Rhine; but we came back here last autumn.
The Red Cardinal was not fond of us,  but he knew that he could trust
us -- which is more than he could have done some of the regiments
-- so he  had us back again; and we were not sorry, for it was but
dull work there -- sieges and nought else."

He was just going to open the door of the inner room when Hector
said, "You can announce me,  Macfarlane, as Colonel Campbell."

"Gude Lord," the sergeant ejaculated, "ye dinna say that ye are a
colonel?" Then reassuming with a great  effort his military stiffness,
he opened the door and announced in a loud tone, "Colonel Hector
Campbell."

There was an exclamation of astonishment from the colonel and two
or three officers who were sitting with  him.

"Why, Campbell," the former said, coming forward and warmly shaking
his hand, "you are changed  indeed, and you have come back to us
almost the living image of your father when he first joined."

The officers all shook hands with him warmly, and the colonel went
on, "Macfarlane announced you as  colonel, Hector, but surely you
cannot have gained that rank?"

"I only obtained it two days ago. You see it is a good thing
to be a prince's aide-de-camp. Turenne, wishing  to give me every
opportunity of seeing service, sent me to Enghien with a message
asking him to employ  me on his staff."

"And you were at Rocroi?" the colonel exclaimed. "What is the real
news of the battle? It was given out  officially last night that we
had won a victory, and there are all sorts of rumours this morning
in the town --  they say that three officers arrived last night
with full details."

"I was one of the three, colonel; and I have just now come from
the palace after handing my despatches to  the queen."

"Then it was Enghien who made you colonel?"

"Yes."

"Well, then, you must have done something marked, or you could never
have got the rank. Why, he has  half the young nobles of France in
his train -- he has not made them all colonels, I suppose?"

"No, I suppose not; but we started early the next morning, and
therefore cannot say what promotions were  made."

"Still they made yours, Campbell. When did they do that?"

"Just after the fight was over."

"Umph! and what for?"

"Well, I luckily discovered that the Spaniards had set an ambush."

"Come, come, let us hear all about it. Tell us the whole story of
the fight."

Hector gave all the details.

"Well, it certainly seems to have been an extraordinary battle.
Everyone appears to have been beaten in  turn."

"Not Enghien's command, sir."

"Well, no; but when cavalry are repulsed three times with a loss,
as you say, of nearly half their numbers, it  is pretty well
equivalent to a beating; and if Enghien had not been able to bring
up the artillery and  reserves, I take it that the third charge
would have been the last. The ambush that you discovered was, I
suppose, that of the thousand musketeers Enghien charged at the
beginning of the fight."

Hector nodded his assent.

"Well, it is as well they were found out and surprised before the
other part of the business began, or there is  no saying how the
battle would have ended. We heard you had got your company. Turenne
himself was  good enough, when he came here to confer with Richelieu
that summer, to call at the barracks and to give  me an account of
the service you had rendered. We all agreed that the rank was well
earned, and I have no  doubt that this new step has been just as
honourably gained. And how do you think matters are going?"

"I know nothing about it, sir, beyond the fact that it was not a
secret that Enghien and Gassion were both in  favour of advancing
at once into Flanders, and capturing the Spanish strong places
before they could gather  another army together."

"No doubt that would be the best way, but I should doubt very much
if Enghien will be allowed to carry out  his plans.  You see, the
king's will, appointing a council to act in concert with Conde,
Orleans, and the  queen, has been set at nought.  The queen is
absolute regent, and Mazarin is her minister -- just as Richelieu
was minister of Louis. Of course this victory will put everyone
in the best of temper, and make the way  easy for Mazarin just at
first, but a defeat would set all the cliques at work against him.

"It is quite true that the defeat would not be his fault, but for some
mysterious reason or other the French  always hold the ministers,
for the time being, responsible for military disasters. So long
as Mazarin checks  Enghien, and prevents his running any risks of
disaster, things are likely to go on smoothly here, and you  may be
sure that he will give the prince no chance of either suffering a
defeat or achieving a victory. You  see, the prince and his father
together might be a great deal too powerful for the cardinal.
Everyone knows  that Conde himself has never cared much for anything
but his own interests. Enghien has the character of  being the most
impetuous and violent young noble of the day, and the fact that he
forced this fight when, as  is generally known, l'Hopital had the
strictest orders not to risk a battle, makes it clear that Enghien
has but  little regard for authority.

"You will see that Mazarin will not give him further opportunities
of becoming the idol of France until he  has assured himself that
he can count upon his friendship.  Mazarin is not Richelieu. The
red cardinal won  his way to the leadership of France by proving
himself able to defeat all intrigues against him, and crush  every
enemy, even those of the most exalted position. Mazarin has no such
antecedents. He is not even a  Frenchman; he does not even look
like a noble. That he is clever we may be sure, or Richelieu would
not  have recommended him as his successor.  But I fancy that it is
the cleverness of an adventurer, and  however adroit, an adventurer,
and especially a foreign adventurer, will not hold power in France
very long  without exciting the hatred of the community and the
hostility of the nobles. However, I suppose you are  remaining here
for a time."

"That I do not know. I would rather return at once to the camp.
But I suppose I must wait for some  intimation that I may do so.
You see, I am altogether out of my element in Paris, and I should
feel  particularly uncomfortable at the court."

"Who would you rather go to, Enghien or Turenne?"

"Just at present there is more doing with Enghien than Turenne,
and more to learn, otherwise I would far  rather be with Turenne.
Enghien's camp is too full of young nobles; and I should say that
he would take but  little trouble in keeping order and repressing
license. Turenne is by no means unduly strict, but he enforces
order, and sets us such an example of earnestness and attention
to work, himself, that he has a right to  expect the same, to some
degree, of everyone under him."

"Where are you staying?"

"At the Hotel Conde. The prince was good enough this morning to
ask me to establish myself there while I  remained in Paris, and
I could not very well decline his invitation."

"I should think not," one of the other officers laughed.  "In these
days a powerful friend is of the greatest  use.  Without that one
has not much chance of advancement. Not that I want advancement; I
would rather  remain as I am, a captain in the Scottish regiment,
surrounded by good and loyal friends and comrades,  than be made a
general. Still, one likes to have a grumble sometimes at any rate."

"Well, Home," the colonel said, "Hector Campbell is a proof that
even in France merit will make its way.  That Turenne should have
taken a fancy to him in the first place was fortunate. But Turenne
would surely  not have promoted him to be a captain within three
or four months of his joining except for the marked  bravery and
diligence that he told us he displayed at Turin; and I have no
doubt that when we hear the  particulars we shall find that this
promotion now has been equally well deserved, for certainly Enghien
is  not likely to have gone out of his way to promote one altogether
a stranger to him when he had so many  young nobles round him,
personal friends of his own, belonging to families whom he would
wish to oblige.  Of course you will, as one of the bearers of
despatches, attend at the court this evening, Campbell?"

"Yes, the queen said that she would expect to see us."

"Of course; and you will be envied by every young courtier there.
At the present moment Paris is half wild  over the victory of
Rocroi, and as you three will be the representatives of the army,
specially selected for  the share you had in the battle, you may
be sure that you will be regarded with eyes of favour by every lady
of the court."

"Well, I should think it would be a great nuisance," Hector said
gruffly. "Hitherto I have had nothing to do  with ladies. There
were very few with the Duchess of Savoy, and whenever there were
receptions or state  ceremonies of any kind, I was always ready
to exchange with de Lisle or Chavigny, my fellow aides-de-camp. So
that during the whole time I was there, I never but once or twice
accompanied the general on such  occasions."

"Ah, you were younger then," Home laughed. "You have passed eighteen
now, and, as you must know  yourself, are by no means bad looking,
with a certain air of freshness and simplicity that is so rare here
in  Paris that it will be regarded as refreshing and delightful
after the flippancies of the court gallants."

Hector laughed uncomfortably.  "I could not take up flippancies, I
am afraid. But what you say is true,  Home; and if I had to remain
at court, I suppose I should have to set to work at once to cultivate
some  affectation or other to counteract this simplicity of which
you speak. However, thank goodness, I do not  suppose that I shall
stay here long. At any rate, it is lucky that I purchased a new
court suit before I started  to join the Duke of Enghien. Coming
from Viscount Turenne I thought that I was bound to make a good
figure among the crowd of young nobles round Enghien, but it made
a large hole in my savings."

"Do you mean to say that you had savings?" one of the other officers
exclaimed. "Who ever heard of such a  thing?  I never have a pistole
left in my pocket a week after I get my month's pay."

"It is a very different thing living in Susa to living in Paris,"
Hector laughed. "I can assure you that I never  spent more than
half my pay; but living was dearer down in Roussillon. Things have
been in such a  disturbed state there for years that the country
was well nigh a desert; and though my two comrades and I  messed
together, the living cost twice as much as it did at Susa. Shall
I see any of you this evening at the  palace?"

"I shall be there," the colonel said, "and so will Home and Lesley. It
is always expected that three officers  from each of the regiments
stationed in Paris, and five from the one that happens to be
on guard for the  evening, should attend the royal receptions. It
will be a specially brilliant affair tonight, for the queen has
held but few receptions of late. It was only announced yesterday
afternoon, after the news of the battle  arrived. Had it not been
for that, the salons would not have been opened for another month."

"I am very glad that there will be somebody there I shall know."

"Don't flatter yourself that you are going to consort with us,"
the colonel laughed. "You will have to be  presented to at least
a score of court dames. However, fortunately, they will not expect
the usual amount of  compliments. They will be really wanting to
hear of the battle, and most of them will be interested in some
special friend with the army, and will want to inquire about him."

"It will not be so bad, then," Hector said. "If I only have to
talk of military matters I shall not mind, but it  will be painful
indeed if I have to give news of the death of anyone dear to the
lady I am speaking to."

"I don't think that you need fear very much about that.  Enghien
is pretty sure to have sent a list containing  the names of any
court gallants that have fallen, and their relatives will at once
have been notified of it, and  will not be present at the court.
As to the others, who have merely lost lovers, they will not break
their  hearts over it. It is the fashion to change them so rapidly
that probably not a few of the ladies will have  consoled themselves
for their absence already.  However, to begin with, I daresay I
shall be able to act as  your mentor and guide, and point out to
you who is who, so that you can avoid falling into serious errors.
You see, there are half a dozen parties at court already. There
are Mazarin's friends, who, by the way, are  not numerous; there
are the Duke of Beaufort's clique; there is Conde's party.

"Madame Chevreuse's party consists largely of herself.  She is
a power, but at present no one can say with  whom she will ally
herself. Hitherto she has been simply anti-Richelieu, and was
his most troublesome and  bitter enemy; and I should say that not
improbably she will at once begin to conspire against Mazarin as
she  did against him. She has been the queen's greatest ally; but
then the queen was always a bitter enemy of  Richelieu, whereas at
present it is supposed that she is strongly in favour of Mazarin.
In a few months the  situation will clear itself, parties will
become defined. No doubt Enghien's victory will add to the power
and  importance of Conde, who is already dangerously strong; then
matters will become interesting. At present  the situation is somewhat
chaotic, and politics will not be openly and generally discussed,
simply because  no one knows what anyone else's opinion may be."

"Well, then, till the evening I will say goodbye, colonel.  I am
going to have a chat with Sergeant  MacIntosh, and shall then return
to Conde's hotel. I suppose I shall be expected to take my midday
meal  there."

"It would be as well to do so certainly, even though it is like
enough that he himself will not be there. He is  the prince of
schemers, and doubtless at present his thoughts are concentrated on
the manner in which he  and Enghien can best gain advantages from
the victory."



CHAPTER X:  AN ESTATE AND TITLE


On entering the Scottish Soldier, Hector found that, as he hoped,
the cabaret was deserted, for it was the  hour at which the regiment
was assembled for drill.  It would have been a little embarrassing
for him as a  colonel to come upon a number of private soldiers
at the cabaret.  Separately he might have chatted with  each, but
a general greeting when a number of them were there together would
have been embarrassing.

The old sergeant as he entered ran up to him. "Well done, my lad,
well done! 'Tis a delight to me indeed to  know that you have so
grandly made your way, and already won the rank of colonel."

"Why, how did you know, MacIntosh?"

"The guard at the colonel's was changed just after you went into his
quarters, and you may be sure that they  lost no time in spreading
the news that you had returned, and returned a colonel. In ten
minutes this place  was as full as it would hold, and there was
such a crowd outside the door that a sergeant-de-ville came in to
inquire what was the matter, thinking, perhaps, that the regiment
was in mutiny.  I was right glad when I  heard the trumpet sound
the assembly a few minutes ago, and they had to rush off in a hurry,
for I felt that  it would be awkward for you were you to come in
when they were all so excited."

"Yes, I was glad myself when I found that they were gone. I regard
every soldier in the regiment as my  friend, and would shake hands
with them now as heartily as I did when I went away near four years
back,  but I myself felt that it would be somewhat embarrassing
were I greeted by them wine cup in hand. Here  are twenty pistoles;
say that I left them here for them to drink my health on my promotion,
but that I shall  be so busy during the day or two that I remain
in Paris that I shall not be able to pay another visit here.   Now
let us have a quiet talk together, and give me all the news of the
regiment."

"Perhaps, colonel -- "

"Oh, you need not call me colonel, MacIntosh, when you and I are
together alone. I am what I was --  Hector Campbell, the lad to
whom you showed so much kindness for his father's sake. Yes, I will
tell you  one or two of my adventures, and you shall come round to
me tomorrow morning at seven o'clock at the  Hotel Conde, and we
will stroll out together, and sit down in the gardens of the Palais
Cardinal, and you  shall then tell me about the regiment, who have
gone, and what changes there are."

"That will be best," the sergeant said. "We did hear something of
how you were made captain. Turenne was  good enough to tell the
colonel, and so some of it came down to us, but of course it was
very little. The  men would like to hear all about it and about
this battle at Rocroi, at which, of course, you must have in  some
way distinguished yourself to be appointed colonel at your age."

Hector gave him a full account of the battle. "The special thing
for which I was promoted," he said, at the  finish, "was that, the
night before, it struck me that there might be an ambush set in the
copses in the hollow  between the two armies. So far as I could see,
no efforts whatever had been made either to occupy the  woods or to
find out if the enemy had done so; so I went with my servant, who
is a capital fellow, and we  made our way into them, and discovered
a regiment of musketeers hidden there. Of course I reported the  fact
to General Gassion, and he told the prince. So, before attacking
the enemy's lines, the prince charged  right along the wood and
destroyed the musketeers there. If he had not done so, they would
have taken him  in rear when he was hotly engaged with the Spaniards,
and might have changed the fate of the battle."

"Certainly they might," the sergeant said. "A volley from a thousand
muskets from the rear would well  shake even the best cavalry. It
was a happy thought of yours indeed."

"Any merit there is in it was due to Turenne, who had carefully
instructed me in everything that could be of  importance when two
hostile armies faced each other; and as he would never have dreamt
of retiring to rest  before having every place where an enemy could
conceal himself carefully searched, it seemed to me a  matter of
course that it should be done. However, General Gassion and the
prince were both good enough  to consider that the service was a
vital one, and as soon as the battle was over the prince gave me
my  promotion."

"And it was well earned, lad, well earned. And now about that affair
at Turin."

"It could not have been better done, Hector," the old soldier said
in high delight when the story was told. "I  used to think that
you spent more time than was necessary in reading over accounts of
battles and sieges,  but I see that the time was well spent. You
may be sure that I will be with you at seven tomorrow morning,"
he added as Hector rose to leave, "though I expect I shall have a
heavy night of it here, for there will  scarcely be a man in the
regiment who won't come round and stay to hear the news. I warrant
that by this  evening there will not be a sou remaining out of the
money you have left for them."

Hector arrived at the hotel just in time for the midday meal, and
was pleased to find that Conde himself was  not present. He and his
two companions were placed at different points at the great table,
so that as many as  possible could hear the story of the battle.
After the meal was over, Hector was glad to leave the salon, and
in company with a gentleman of the household, who had volunteered
to be his guide, spent the afternoon in  visiting the principal
sights of Paris, of which he had seen but little when a boy in
barracks. The hotels of  the nobles, each a fortress rather than a
private building, interested him greatly, as also the streets in
which  the principal traders lived; but he was unfavourably impressed
with the appearance of the population in all  other parts, and
could well understand what his guide told him, that it was dangerous
in the extreme for a  gentleman unattended to pass through these
quarters.

At six o'clock he sat down to the evening meal at Conde's, after
which, having attired himself in his new  suit, he repaired with
de Penthiere and de Caussac to the Louvre.  It was eight o'clock
when they entered,  the reception rooms were already full, and the
brilliancy of the attire, both of the courtiers and ladies, seen
by the light of great chandeliers, was impressive in the extreme
to one who had never seen any gathering of  the kind before. There
was a little pause in the buzz of conversation as the three officers
entered, and  Hector's two companions were at once surrounded by
friends, while he himself was joined by Colonel  Maclvor and the
other two officers.

"You are the heroes of the evening, Campbell," the former said with
a laugh. "A dozen ladies have already  asked me to present you to
them."

"Well, please don't do so just now, colonel; let me look round
first."

"That is but fair, Campbell. First, though, I will tell you a piece
of news that I have just heard. The queen  sent off a messenger
two days ago to Turenne, and it is believed that he is to have the
command of the army  on the Rhine."

"That is good news indeed," Hector exclaimed. "It is high time
that he should be given a command, instead  of being always put
under men less capable than himself. Still, it is unexpected at
the present moment."

"I know that the queen always had the greatest liking for Turenne,"
the colonel said, "but of course until  now she has had no power.
Moreover, I fancy that the appointment is to some extent dictated by
policy.  Conde is already dangerously powerful; Enghien's victory
will, of course, largely add to his influence. No  doubt some
large estates will be given to the latter, such a service cannot
be ungenerously rewarded, but it  will be thought unadvisable to
give him at present further opportunities. Conde is old, and his
son, who is  certainly ambitious and hotheaded now, will be even more
powerful than his father has been. Were he to  win more victories,
and to become a popular idol, his power might well overshadow
that of the throne.  Therefore it is likely enough that my news is
true. Turenne has proved that military duty is with him  supreme,
for he held aloof from all the troubles in which his brother the
duke has involved himself, and he  may act as a counterpoise to
Enghien. I fancy that the latter's plan, which, as you have told
me, would lead  to a conquest of Flanders, will not be adopted.
It would not have been so in Richelieu's time. The red  cardinal
would not have lost a moment in ordering him to march into Flanders,
thinking only of the good of  France, and disregarding the fact
that continued successes might lead to his own power being shaken."

"And you do not think that Mazarin will act in the same way?"

"I think not. Of course at present not much is known about him. He
affects the greatest humility, is almost  obsequious to the great
nobles, and even professes to be anxious to return to Italy as soon
as his services  here can be dispensed with. But I expect that he
will in time occupy as great a position as that of Richelieu,  but
that he will hold it by craft rather than strength is, from the
look of the man, likely enough. For myself I  should say that it
is infinitely better for France that an ecclesiastic like Richelieu
or Mazarin should be at  the head of affairs, than that the great
nobles should all struggle and intrigue for power, ready as they
have  shown themselves over and over again to plunge France into
civil war for the attainment of their aims. Ah,  here comes the
queen!"

The door at the end of the salon opened and Anne entered. By her
side walked the young king, a little  behind were Orleans and Conde,
Beaufort and Bouillon, while, following them, with an air that was
almost  humble, came Mazarin. The queen and the young king were
dressed in violet, the mourning colour of the  court, and the
ladies present all wore shades of that colour relieved by white. All
present formed themselves  into two lines, through which the queen
walked. She acknowledged the deep reverences, and the little king
bowed repeatedly. Anne of Austria was one of the most beautiful
women of her time, and although the  charm of youth had disappeared,
her stateliness of bearing made up for this loss, and Hector thought
that he  had never seen so lovely a woman.

As soon as they had passed into an inner apartment known as the
audience chamber the lines broke up, and  a buzz of conversation
and light laughter followed the silence that had reigned as the
procession passed.  The court, indeed, felt a general feeling of
relief at the death of Louis. Although well meaning and desirous
of doing good, the life of the monarch had not been a happy one.
His health had never been good, and  although he had the wisdom to
see that in supporting Richelieu, and in every way adding to his
authority,  he was acting for the good of France, the knowledge
that he himself was little more than a cipher galled and  irritated
him. His disposition was a jealous one, and as the great minister
knew that Anne of Austria was  ever his opponent politically, he
worked upon this feeling, and embittered the lives of both the king
and  queen, and the latter was the constant victim of the king's
jealousy and caprices.

These things, combined with the ascetic temperament of the king,
had rendered the court of France a dismal  one, and the royal salons
formed a strong contrast to the brilliancy of those of Richelieu.
Now the king was  gone, and there was a general feeling of relief
among the nobles and ladies of the court. It might be that  stormy
times were ahead, and indeed it was no secret that Conde, Beaufort,
and many other nobles were  already united against Mazarin. They
called themselves "The Importants," a term well suited to their
own  idea of their power, and of the position they aspired to as
the natural leaders of France.

"Madame de Chevreuse wishes you to be presented to her," Colonel
Maclvor said to Hector. "Everyone  knows her reputation; she is
the cleverest woman in France, and one of the most intriguing. She
is the  queen's greatest friend, and has been her mainstay in her
struggle with Richelieu. Of one thing we may be  sure, that she
will not tamely see Mazarin step into his place, and she has, it is
whispered, already thrown  herself into the arms of 'The Importants,'
and if anyone can persuade the queen to throw over the cardinal it
is she."

With a slight shrug of his shoulders Hector followed the colonel
to a group of three or four ladies seated  upon some fauteuils.

The colonel stopped before one of these, and bowing deeply said,
"Duchess, I have the honour to present to  you my compatriot, Colonel
Campbell, who arrived here this morning with despatches from the
Duc  d'Enghien."

Madame Chevreuse, like the queen, was still a beautiful woman.
She was petite, and possessed a face  whose fascination few could
withstand. She was the most restless of intriguers, and was never
so happy as  when engaged in conspiracies which might cost her her
estates and liberty.

"Why, Monsieur Campbell," she said with a smile, "I had looked to
see a fierce warrior, and, lo and behold  I find one who, by his
appearance, will be far more in his element at court than in the
field."

"Then appearances must greatly belie me, madame," Hector said;
"for while I may say that I am at home in  a military camp, I feel
sorely ill at ease here, and I feel I would rather face an enemy's
battery than so many  beautiful faces."

"That is not bad for a beginner," the lady said with a smile, "but
methinks you will soon get over that fear,  for there is nothing
very dangerous in any of us. The Duchesse de Longueville," and she
motioned to the  lady next to her, "is as desirous as myself that
you should be presented to her, and that she should hear from  your
lips somewhat more of the doings of her brother than she has yet
learned."

Hector again bowed deeply. The sister of Enghien was as ambitious
for her brother's sake as he was for his  own self, and she was
his potent ally in the troubles of the times.

"Enghien was wounded," she said. "Monsieur la Moussaie left the
field directly the battle was won, and  could tell me little about
my brother's injuries."

"He received three wounds, duchess, but happily none of them were
severe, and he was on horseback on  the following morning. It
seemed miraculous to us all that he should so escape, for he rode
ever ahead of us  in the charges against the Spanish square."

"You were acting as one of his aides-de-camp? I do not remember
having seen your face before."

"No, madame. I have been for the past four years on the staff of
the Viscount de Turenne, and have not left  the army during that
time. The general had the goodness, seeing that there was little
doing in the south, to  send me to learn what I could from the
operations of the duke against the Spanish. He sent me a letter
of  recommendation to your brother, who kindly appointed me to the
same position under him that I had  occupied under Turenne."

"Did you find the ladies of Italy very lovely?" Madame de Chevreuse
asked suddenly.

"In truth, madame, I had but small opportunities of judging, seeing
that, unless when sent with some  message from the general to the
Duchess of Savoy, I do not think that I exchanged a single word
with a  woman during the whole of my stay there."

Madame de Chevreuse, and the Duchesse de Longueville, and all the
ladies sitting round, smiled.

"Then you have very much to learn, Colonel Campbell," Madame de
Chevreuse said. "You will find plenty  of ladies in the court here
who will not object to give you lessons."

"I trust, madame," Hector said bluntly, "that there will be little
opportunity for me to take lessons as to the  manners of the court,
for I hope that my stay here will be short indeed."

"That is a most ungallant speech," the younger duchess said,
laughing, "and shows indeed the truth of what  you have said as
to your ignorance of women. Do you not know, sir; that it is an
unwritten law at court that  every gentleman here must be at the
feet of one fair lady?"

"I suppose that, had I been brought up at court," Hector said, "I
should not be more insensible than others;  but when one passes
three-quarters of one's time on horseback, and that under a
commander like Turenne,  who sets us all an example in the matter
of endurance and watchfulness, one has small leisure indeed for
aught else, and indeed is glad enough to seek one's bed as soon as
the day's work is done."

"If you are another Turenne," Madame de Chevreuse laughed, "I give
you up. He is the most insensible of  men.  His head contains but
one idea, and that is duty; and as to us poor creatures, he is as
insensible as was  St. Anthony."

At this moment the door that separated the salon from that of the
queen opened, and the names of Monsieur  de Penthiere and Monsieur
de Caussac were called. The two officers at once passed into the
inner room.

"You are either left out in the cold, monsieur le colonel, or you
will have the honour of a separate  audience," Madame de Chevreuse
said.

"As I have been rewarded far above my merits for any service
that I have rendered," Hector said quietly, "it  is probable that
the queen has nothing to say to me. She was pleased to receive me
very graciously this  morning, and gave me her hand to kiss, and
I assuredly have no right to expect any further favours."

In a few minutes the two officers came out, both looking radiant,
the queen having graciously presented  them with the titles to two
estates. A minute later Hector's name was called, and he went off,
with a deep  bow to the ladies and a murmured apology for leaving
them.

"A loyal spirit, surely," Madame de Chevreuse said; "bizarre, of
course, and at present simple as a child.   Moreover, I should say
that the atmosphere of the court will not infect him as it has the
others. It is  refreshing to meet with one who, although he must
have distinguished himself vastly, is still modest and  simple,
without a shadow of conceit or of self consciousness. He spoke
as frankly to us as if we were two  waiting maids at a cabaret.
However, men of that stamp may always be made useful, and I would
rather  have the devotion of a young officer like that, who is, I
should say, likely to rise to high rank, than that of  half a dozen
men ready to lay their hearts at the feet of the first comer, and
who are as ready to change  mistresses as sides."

By this time the door had closed behind Hector. The queen was sitting
on a sofa, with the little king by her  side.  Mazarin stood a pace
behind her. Conde and Orleans had a short time before gone out, and
had  mingled with the crowd in the antechamber, and the courtiers
present, who were all members of her  council, stood some distance
in the rear.

"We have had time, Colonel Campbell, to read our despatches, and
can now estimate the service that you  rendered the Duc d'Enghien
and our army. General Gassion, or I should say Marshal Gassion,
for he has  today been raised to that rank, speaks of the value
of that service in terms of the highest eulogy, and indeed  says
frankly, that had it not been for your voluntary expedition and
the discovery by you of the Spanish  ambuscade, it is probable that
we should have suffered a defeat instead of a victory. The duke
speaks no  less strongly in your favour. I can remember that when
the Viscount Turenne was here three years ago, he  told us how
a young Scottish officer on his staff had saved Turin to us by a
most daring enterprise, by  which he informed the garrison of the
citadel that help would soon reach them, and mentioned that for
that  service he had appointed Monsieur Campbell a captain. You
are Scottish by birth, are you not?"

"I am, your majesty, by birth and descent. My father was a captain
in the Scottish regiment, and fell at the  siege of La Rochelle. I
was, I may say, adopted by the regiment, and had the good fortune
to be trained in  arms from a child, and the still greater fortune
to attract the attention of the Viscount de Turenne, who,  young as
I was, obtained a commission for me and appointed me to his staff."

"Well, young sir, the viscount rewarded you for the great service
that you rendered him at Turin; the Duc  d'Enghien has similarly
rewarded you for your service to him at Rocroi; but it is ours
to reward you for  your services to France; and Cardinal Mazarin
will, in my name, hand you tomorrow the estate of de la  Villar,
in Poitou, which carries with it the title of Baron de la Villar.
A soldier who has rendered such  service to us cannot be allowed
to remain a soldier dependent on his pay, and I am sure that should
need  arise you will do me as good service as you have rendered to
Turenne and Enghien."

"Your majesty is too good and gracious," Hector stammered, overcome
by this sudden and unexpected  reward; "but be assured, madame"
-- and he recovered himself, and his voice was steady -- "should
there be  need, I will willingly lay down my life in your majesty's
service, and in that of the king, your son."

"Which means also," the queen said gently, "in that of my minister,
who may need faithful friends even  more than we do, and under
whose advice we have now acted."

"Assuredly, madame. Cardinal Mazarin is your minister, and as long
as he possesses your confidence he  represents France in my eyes,
and I will render as faithful service to him as to yourself."

"Well spoken, baron," the queen said graciously.  "Henceforth I
shall count you as among my friends." She  held out her hand for
him to kiss, as did the little king, and after a deep bow to them
and to the cardinal,  Hector left the audience chamber still almost
bewildered by the honours bestowed upon him.

Hector made his way through the crowd to the side of Colonel
Maclvor, the general verdict of those who  watched him being that
he had not met with the same good fortune as those who preceded
him, but that for  some reason or other he had been reprimanded.

"Well, lad," the colonel said, "what fortune have you met with?
Judging by your face, either the queen or  the cardinal have failed
to recognize the service that you have rendered."

"Upon the contrary, colonel, they have so heaped favours upon me
that at present I can scarcely realize my  good fortune, and feel
almost humiliated that so much should have been given for what was
a mere matter  of duty and attended by no great peril."

"What have they done, then, Campbell?"

"Well, colonel, absurd as it seems even to myself, the queen has
graciously bestowed upon me the estate of  la Villar, by which gift
she says I become as its owner the Baron de la Villar."

"That is fortunate indeed, my dear Campbell," the colonel said,
heartily shaking him by the hand. "It shows  that the duke and
Gassion were of the same opinion that we expressed, namely, that
your discovery of that  ambush was the chief factor in bringing
about the victory of Rocroi."

"But it was such a simple thing," Hector said. "It was merely a
reconnaissance, such as I have made scores  of times in Italy."

"No doubt, Campbell; but you see the other reconnaissances did
not lead to any results, while this did.  My  dear lad, it is by
results that men are judged. That you, a young officer on Enghien's
staff, should unbidden,  and, as you say, as a matter of duty, have
undertaken such a business, shows how thoroughly you have  profited
by your teaching under Turenne; and as such you deserve what you
have gained, though I do not  say that you would have obtained your
desserts had not your reconnaissance saved Enghien from defeat.
Now I will take you to Madame de Chevreuse again. She beckoned to
me after you entered the audience  chamber, and told me to bring you
up again when you came out, as she and the Duchesse de Longueville
had taken a great fancy to you. Now, my dear boy, your position is
changed. You have become a French  noble, and, however unwilling,
may find yourself mixed up on one side or the other with the doings
of your  court. Both these ladies have power, and it is well to
keep in with them, for either of them might prove a  valuable friend
and protector, and the first rule here is make as many friends as
possible, for no one can say  when you may require them."

Hector again followed the colonel to the group of ladies.

"Madame," Maclvor said, "I have the honour to present you -- "

"Why, have you not presented him to us already?" Madame de Chevreuse
said with a laugh. "Your memory  must be singularly short, colonel."

"My memory is not short, madame, but it is a somewhat different
personage that I have now to present to  you.  Madame, I have the
honour to present Colonel Campbell, Baron de la Villar."

Both ladies uttered an exclamation of surprise.

"Why, what has he done, colonel?" the duchess exclaimed. "It must
have been some remarkable action,  surely, for him to be made
colonel by my brother and Baron de la Villar by the queen."

"In the opinion of the Duc d'Enghien and General Gassion, duchess,
he performed a service that to a large  extent brought about the
victory of Rocroi. My young friend is at present not beyond the
age of modesty,  and therefore if you will allow me I will state
the circumstances. Under General de Turenne he was in the  habit of
constantly visiting the posts at night with the viscount or alone,
and endeavouring to discover the  position and intentions of the
enemy. The night before the battle he started voluntarily to perform
the same  duties, and, accompanied only by his servant, he crept
into a wood that lay between the two armies and  there discovered
a thousand musketeers who were lying in ambush. He reported the
discovery to General  Gassion, who on his part informed the duke
of this most important intelligence, for it was evident that, had
the ambuscade been unsuspected, they would have taken the cavalry
in the rear at the critical moment of  the battle, and would have
opened so heavy a fire that even the bravest of cavalry, thus
surprised and shot  down by an unsuspected foe in their rear, might
have fallen into confusion. Being forewarned, the duke  directed
his first charge upon the wood, took the musketeers by surprise, and
annihilated them, before  charging and routing the enemy's horse.
Thus you see, ladies, that we have another illustration of the
mouse  saving the lion, and the lion was generous and noble minded
enough to give the mouse full credit for the  service that he had
rendered him."

"Then we have good reason to be grateful to you, monsieur le baron,"
Madame Chevreuse said, laying  aside the bantering tone in which
she had before addressed the young Scot, "and her majesty has done
well  to reward your loyalty, for the estate is a fine one, and has
remained without a master since Richelieu  brought its last owner
to the block for having, as he affirmed, conspired against the king
-- that is to say,  against himself. You have begun well indeed, sir.
Henceforth the Duchesse de Longueville and myself  may be counted
upon as your friends. And now," she said, changing the subject
abruptly, "as you say that  you are anxious to be off, with whom
will you serve, with Turenne or with Enghien?  For I hear that
Turenne has been sent for to take the command of the army of the
Rhine."

"I belong to Viscount Turenne," Hector said. "It is to him that I
owe everything. He picked me up a rough  boy, with no recommendation
save that my father died fighting for France, and that I was more
addicted to  military study than most lads of my age, and that, as
he was good enough to say, I reminded him of his own  boyhood. It
was owing to his kindness and his tuition that I have now made my
way, and it was still further  to increase my military knowledge
that he sent me for a time to serve under the Duc d'Enghien.
Therefore,  much as I admire the glory that the duke has gained,
and recognize his extraordinary genius, I feel that duty  and
gratitude alike bind me to my great master."

"Quite right," the Duchesse de Longueville said warmly.  "I am
sure that my brother will approve of your  decision.  He admires
Turenne as much as you do, and regards him as his master in military
science, and it  may be perhaps that one of these days you will
take part in a battle in which my brother and Turenne will  both
have command."

"If it be so, madame," Hector said, "there can be little doubt of
victory, for with the two greatest military  geniuses France has
produced during the last hundred years it would be hard indeed if
victory did not  attend their united banners."

The news of the honour that had been bestowed upon this young
colonel circulated rapidly through the  salon, and many gentlemen
came up and begged Colonel Maclvor to introduce him to them. One
who had  received so marked a proof of the queen's favour, and
who had won the praise and goodwill of both  Turenne and Enghien,
might well become in time a man of mark, and so many compliments
were showered  upon Hector that he was glad indeed when the queen
again passed through the room on her way to her  apartments and he
was at liberty to retire. He walked slowly back to Conde's palace,
went up to his room,  changed his court suit for that which he had
worn during the day, and then went out again, feeling that it  would
be hopeless to attempt to sleep. He paced backwards and forwards
for some hours on the quay,  thinking of the changes that three
days had brought about.

He could scarcely realize even now, that he who a week ago was but
a captain with nought but his pay, was  now not only a colonel but
a noble of France, with an estate of whose value he was ignorant,
but as it  carried with it a patent of nobility it was evident that
it must be one of dimensions sufficient to support the  title. The
change excited no feeling of exultation. His whole thoughts so far
had been directed solely to his  career as a soldier. He had hoped
that some day he might win a colonelcy; more than that he had
never  thought of. High commands in France were matters of birth,
interest, and connection. Gassion, who had just  earned his marshal's
baton, was the sole exception to the rule. Hitherto generals, and
still more marshals,  had always been men belonging to the first
families of France. It had been a matter of course that when an
army went to the field it was under the command of a prince of the
blood, and the utmost an outsider could  look for was the command
of a regiment.  The promotion had delighted him, not for the sake
of the pay or  position, but because, if he obtained the command
of one of the regiments that were rapidly being formed  to meet
the dangers that threatened France, he would have opportunities
of doing good service and of  earning the esteem of such men as
Turenne. His civil dignity, however, oppressed rather than gratified
him.  He would have heavy responsibilities. When not on active
service he would be expected to show himself at  court, and would
have a difficulty in holding himself aloof from its intrigues and
conspiracies.  His  thoughts turned to Scotland. He had relations
there, it was true, both on his father's and mother's side, but
they were strangers to him. Moreover, Scotland at present was torn
by a civil and religious war. In England  a civil war was raging,
and the extreme party in Scotland, having got the upper hand, had
allied themselves  with the English parliamentarians, and the cause
of the king was well nigh lost.

The Scottish officers and men in the French service had for the most
part left their homes owing to the  bitter religious differences of
the times, and, under the easier conditions of the life in France,
had come to  look with disgust at the narrow bigotry of the Scottish
sects, a feeling heightened perhaps by the deep  resentment that
still prevailed in France at the insolence with which Knox and the
Scottish reformers had  treated their princess, Queen Mary. Among
the French officers the feeling was wholly in favour of the  royal
cause in England. The queen was French, and had France herself not
been engaged in warfare  numbers of the young nobles would have
gone over and drawn their swords in her cause, and Hector would
gladly have done the same.

For the time, at any rate, he had no idea whatever of returning
to Scotland. If better times came he had  often thought that, if
successful in winning a competency, he would return to his native
land, for his close  connection with the Scottish regiment kept
alive in him his feeling of nationality, and he always regarded
himself as a stranger in France. The estates and title now bestowed
upon him seemed to put this hope  further away than ever, and to
fix him permanently in France, a contingency more disagreeable to
him the  more he saw how completely France was dominated by faction,
and how unstable were the conditions of  life there. His musings,
therefore, as he walked up and down for hours, were very different
from those  which most young men would have felt at so great and
sudden a change in their fortunes.



CHAPTER XI:  THE CASTLE OF LA VILLAR

The next morning he called at eleven o'clock, at which hour the
cardinal's secretary had informed him that  Mazarin would expect
him. He went to the abode of the minister. Mazarin received him
with marked  courtesy.

"Here are the deeds appointing to you the estate of la Villar and
your patent of nobility," he said, pointing  to a box upon his table.
"You have been singularly fortunate, sir, and from all inquiries
that I have made  from officers who have served with Monsieur de
Turenne, and, I may say, from Colonel Maclvor, I hear  nothing but
good of you, as a soldier devoted to duty, as a young man free from
the vices and dissipations  too common among those of your age,
and as possessing intelligence as well as courage. Such men, sir,
even royalty does well to attach to itself, and for them a splendid
career is open. I, high as is the office in  which Providence has
placed me, may well envy you. You fight against the enemies of
France; I am  surrounded by enemies open and secret, and the war
is no less earnest than that which Turenne and Enghien  are waging.

"The great nobles of France are jealous that I, a foreigner, should
have the ear of the queen, and be first  minister of the country.
Gladly indeed would I resign my position and return to my bishopric
in Italy, were  it not that I promised the great man to whose place
I have so unworthily succeeded, that I would do my best  for the
country on whose behalf he spent every hour of his life, and that
I would, unless driven from it by  force, hold the seals of office
until the young king should be old enough to rule France unaided.
You,  baron, are like myself a foreigner, and ready to risk your
life in the service of France, and you will  understand how I
am situated and how I feel. You, happily for yourself, are not so
highly placed as to  excite enmity, although doubtless not a few
of those who flocked round you yesterday evening to  congratulate
you on your good fortune felt a sensation of envy that a young
soldier of fortune should be so  honoured.

"In my case envy is accompanied by the deepest animosity. The great
nobles find me an obstacle in the way  of their grasping power,
and they would hesitate at nothing to rid themselves of me. Were it
not for the  support of the queen, my position would be untenable
even for an hour.  Without me the queen herself  would speedily
become as much a cipher as she was so long as the weak king reigned.
We have need, both  of us, of men of heart and devotion such as
I take you to be. I ask for no engagements, sir, but I felt that
there was a genuine ring in your voice yesterday evening when you
promised faithful service to her  majesty, and I feel that if such
service is needed you will be ready to render it."

"I shall indeed, your eminence. I cannot conceive that any circumstances
can occur that would render such  aid as I could offer of service
to you, but be assured that should such an occasion arise, the queen
may  count upon me to render it to the extent of my life; and when
I say the queen I, of course, include your  eminence as her trusted
adviser and supporter."

"Well spoken, sir. I believe your words, and it may be that the
occasion is not so far distant as you may  imagine.  Here is the
box, sir. By the way, it will, I am sure, be a pleasure for you to
know that her majesty  has the intention of creating the Viscount
de Turenne field marshal as soon as he arrives in Paris."

"It is indeed, monseigneur; never did a soldier better earn such
honour. There, indeed sir, is a true and  noble heart, loyal to his
duty beyond all things, adored by his soldiers, ready to serve under
officers  altogether inferior to himself, incapable of jealousy,
and devoted to his sovereign and his country."

"You do not speak too warmly of him," the cardinal said; "and among
all the difficulties of the situation  there seems to be but one
fixed point, and that point is that upon Monsieur de Turenne we
can at least  confidently rely."

Hector felt that his audience was at an end, and taking the box
from the table, and again thanking the  cardinal for the honour
bestowed upon him, he retired. The cardinal's chamberlain met him
at the door.  "Will you step in here, monsieur le baron?" he said,
and led the way into a small apartment. "As a stranger  to the
court, monsieur, you are probably unaware of the value of the gift
that has been granted to you, or of  its duties and obligations."

"Altogether, sir; beyond the fact that it is in Poitou, which her
majesty mentioned yesterday, I know  absolutely nothing about it."

"Without being an estate of the first class," the chamberlain said,
"it is one which is of importance in its  province. The revenue is
punctually paid and is amply sufficient to enable its lord to make
a good figure at  court, and to rank among the notables in the
province. It is a fief held directly from the crown; its owner is
bound to furnish feudal service of twenty-five mounted men and
twenty-five arquebusiers, or, should he  prefer it, fifty horsemen
in all.  Some of its owners have in times of peril raised a force
of thrice that  strength. So you will see that the Lord of la Villar
is not an unimportant personage. The estate is held at  present by
a royal intendant. You will find in that box an order for him to
place you in possession of the  castle and estate whensoever you
may present yourself, and as at the present moment your services can
be  spared from the army, it might be as well to visit it at once,
if only for a few days.  Possibly the cardinal did  not inform you
that he has ordered that the regiment that has been just recruited
shall bear the name of the  regiment of Poitou, and has appointed
you to its command."

This news gave much greater pleasure to Hector than did the gift
of the fief, or the rank that accompanied  it.

"Will you please give my earnest thanks to his excellency," he
said, "and assure him that he can depend  upon my devotion."

When Hector returned to the Hotel Conde he found that the soldiers
who had started with him from Rocroi  had all arrived, bringing
with them the twelve horses that had been left on the road; four of
these were to be  handed over to each of the officers. The division
was just being made as he entered the courtyard, each  officer
taking the four he had ridden by the way.

Paolo at once came up to him. "What are we to do with these horses,
master?" he asked, with an air of  bewilderment.

"We have now seven of them, counting mine, the one I led, and that
you rode when you set out."

"I must see where I can bestow them for the present until we think
the matter over;" and going up to one of  Conde's officers, he asked
him if he could recommend a place where he might leave safely four
horses for a  time.

"The auberge of the Pome d'Or is but a street from here, monsieur;
it has good stables, and the host is an  honest man, which is not
often the case with men of his class. When the stables here are
full the prince  often engages extra stalls there for the use of
his guests. I will send four men with the horses at once, if  such
is your pleasure."

"You will greatly oblige me by doing so," Hector replied.  Having
seen the horses safely and comfortably  lodged at the inn, Hector
returned to the hotel with Paolo.

"You are not tired, I hope, Paolo?" he asked as they walked back.

"No, master; we have taken three days to do what you did in one,
and have fatigued neither ourselves nor  our beasts."

"That is well, for I am going to start on a journey this afternoon,
that is to say, if I can manage to make my  arrangements."

"May I ask where you are going, master?"

"You will be surprised to hear that I am going to visit my estates
in Poitou."

Paolo looked sharply up to see whether Hector was joking. Seeing
that he looked serious, he said  hesitatingly, "But I did not know,
master, that you had estates in Poitou.  I never heard you speak
of them."

"Because I had them not, Paolo. That box that you are carrying
holds the titles. The fief was granted to me  last night by the
queen herself, the Duc d'Enghien and General Gassion having been
good enough to make a  good deal more of that night adventure of
ours than it deserved. The estates carry a title with them, and I
am now the Baron de la Villar."

Paolo gave an exclamation of delight. "Well, master, I am glad indeed;
but," he went on in a changed tone,  "now that you, monsieur, have
become a noble, you will no longer require the services of a lad
from  Savoy."

"Indeed I shall, Paolo, as long as you choose to remain with me.
Why, have you not shared with me in the  adventures, one of which
made me a captain, and the other a colonel and a noble? Of course
I shall have  other servants, but you will always be my bodyservant
and companion."

"And are you going to leave the army, monsieur?" Paolo asked, after
pouring out his thanks.

"No, I shall still remain in the army. Turenne will be in Paris
soon, and will then go to the Rhine to take the  command there,
and I hope to go with my regiment."

"Then you have a regiment, master?"

"Yes; one of the newly formed regiments has been named the regiment
of Poitou, and I am to have the  command. Of course, it may be sent
either to him or to Enghien, but I hope that it will be to Turenne;
and I  should think so, because from what I hear there is scarcely
any army left on the Rhine, and therefore it is  probable that the
new regiments will all be sent there, as Enghien's force is quite
sufficient to cope with any  enemy he is likely to meet with in
Flanders. Now, I am going down to the barracks, and for the next two
or  three hours you can amuse yourself by taking a look at Paris."

It was not to the barracks that Hector made his way, but to The
Scottish Soldier.

"I did not expect to see you so soon again, colonel. Your man
brought me word that I was not to come this  morning, as you would
be engaged," the sergeant said when he entered.

"Yes, but our talk was only postponed, sergeant; now I want you to
aid me in a matter that I have on hand."

"What sort of matter is it?"

"I want to find four good men to take into my service.  The queen
has granted me an estate, as if a  colonelcy was not an ample and
more than ample reward for discovering that ambuscade. It is the
fief of la  Villar in Poitou, and the most absurd point of the
thing is that with it is a title, and I am now Colonel  Campbell,
Baron de la Villar."

"Well, well," the sergeant exclaimed; "you will be coming and telling
me next that you are going to marry a  princess of the blood. Did
one ever hear of such things! However, Hector, lad, I congratulate
you with all  my heart, and I am as glad as if it had been a bairn
of my own that had had your good fortune. Now, in  what can I help
you about the four men? What sort of men do you want?"

"I want four good men and true, sergeant, men that I can rely upon.
I shall want them to ride with me in the  field as orderlies, for
I have been appointed to the command of an infantry regiment. Of
course, I should  like young and active men, but that they should
be steady and accustomed to arms is still more important."

"I know but few men outside the regiment," the sergeant said. "The
laddies like to have the place to  themselves, and I don't encourage
others about; but if you can do with good men who have somewhat
passed their prime, but are still capable of service and handy
with their arms, I know just the men that will  suit you. We had
a little bit of trouble in the regiment a week since; four of the
men -- Allan Macpherson,  Jock Hunter, Donald Nicholl, and Sandy
Grahame -- came in after tattoo, and all a bit fu'. It was not here
they got it, though; I know better than to supply men with liquor
when it is time for them to be off to the  barracks.  Captain Muir,
who is the only dour carl in the regiment, happened to be on duty,
and he spoke a  good deal more hardly to them than to my mind there
was any occasion, seeing that they are good soldiers  and not in the
guardroom more often than others. They answered him more freely, no
doubt, than they  would have done had they not been in their cups.

"They were had up before the colonel the next morning.  They had
all served their time, and having been  greatly angered at their
treatment, they at once up and told the colonel that they would
take their  discharges. The colonel would have pacified them, but
Captain Muir stood out strongly, and said that if  such insolence
as theirs was allowed to go unpunished it would be a bad example
indeed for the regiment;  so the colonel paid them up to the day
and gave them their papers. It has caused a lot of feeling in the
regiment, as you may guess, and the men all groaned and booed when
Muir came on parade the next day,  and it was as much as the colonel
himself -- whom they all love as a father -- could do to silence
them. It is  said that he spoke very sharply to Muir afterwards,
and that it is likely the captain will get transferred to  another
regiment. However, that is too late for the men who have left. Their
comrades are going to get up a  subscription to send them back to
Scotland, for you may be sure the hotheaded fools have not a bawbee
of  their pay laid by."

"I know them all, sergeant, and I should say they would be the
very men to suit me; they are all strong and  hearty fellows, and
might have been good for another ten years campaigning if it had
not been for this  business. Can you send for them?"

"They will all be here in half an hour for their meal," the sergeant
said. "They are lodged upstairs, for you  may be sure that they
would come to me; and even if I kept them for six months, I should
not have lost  much when I reckon what they have spent here during
their service. I have no doubt they will jump at the  offer; for
they were mere lads when they came over -- it was your father who
sent for them -- and I know  that they reckon they will find none
of the old folk when they return home. And now what are your estates
like, lad?"

"I know very little about them at present, beyond the fact that I
am bound by my feudal obligations to put  fifty men in the field
when called upon to do so."

"Then it must be a place of good size," the sergeant said. "And
you hold it direct from the crown?"

Hector nodded.

"That is good. When you hold from one of the great lords, you never
know whom you may be called upon  to fight against -- it may be the
king, it may be his minister, it may be some other noble -- while
holding  direct, you have only the king's enemies to fight against."

"Or rather, MacIntosh, the chief minister's enemies; for, after
all, when a king signs a proclamation, it is  usually a minister's
signature that ought to be attached to it."

"Well, well, Master Hector, it makes little difference to us Scots
who it is that we fight for, it is no quarrel  of ours.  We have
taken service under the King of France; but when there are two
parties, and each claims  to be in favour of the king, we have
simply to fight for whoever happens to have the king's signature.
If  they both have it, then it is the general who commands our
division who gives us orders, and it matters  nought to us whom he
takes his orders from."

"At any rate, MacIntosh, it is not for soldiers to inquire too
deeply into these matters; if we did, we should  have one half of
the regiment firing into the other."

"So we should, lad, so we should; therefore we soldiers do wisely
in leaving the matter to our officers. If  the colonel says 'Charge!'
we charge; if he says 'Dismount and take to your musketoons!' we
do so, without  troubling our heads as to whether it is Germans or
Spaniards or Frenchmen whom we have to aim at. Ah,  here come your
four men!"

As the four troopers entered the cabaret and saw who was speaking
to MacIntosh they hesitated, and would  have turned, but the sergeant
called out, "Attention! salute!" and they stood as motionless as
statues till  Hector ordered them to stand easy.

"I have been talking about you men to Sergeant MacIntosh, who tells
me that you have taken your  discharge and the reason for your so
doing. I think that you acted hastily; however, that is your affair.
The  matter that concerns me is this: -- I am appointed colonel of
an infantry regiment and I want four good men  as orderlies. They
will be mounted, and I shall see that they draw rations when there
are any rations to be  had; but they will be my troopers and not
soldiers of the regiment. I want good men, who can be relied  upon
in any emergency; they will ride behind me in battle, act as scouts
if necessary, and they will receive  double the pay of ordinary
troopers. In peacetime, or when the regiment is in winter quarters,
I shall pass  my time either in Paris or on my estate in Poitou,
and they will of course accompany me. I may tell you that  I am
now Baron de la Villar, but I should wish to be always addressed
as Colonel Campbell. I know you all  of old, and that your only
failing is somewhat too great a love for the wine flask; that must
only be indulged  in at times when you are not only off duty, but
when there is no possibility of your services being required.  Now,
what do you think, men; will my service suit you?"

"That it would, sir," burst from them simultaneously.

"Of course, there will be some other advantages beyond that of
pay. When the time comes that you get  beyond active service in
the field, I shall be able to provide you with easier posts at la
Villar, and there you  will find a comfortable home in your old age,
if you prefer to stay with me rather than to return to  Scotland."

"No further word need be spoken, colonel," Allan Macpherson said;
"we are your men, and shall be proud  to follow you, were there
no question of pay at all, but just our rations and a home to look
forward to when  our arms get weak and eyes dim."

"Then, men, if so say you all, the service begins from the present
time. You have your armour and  headpieces, your doublets and
jackboots, so there is not much to buy. I have horses ready for
you. You  have pistols."

"Yes, we have all pistols and swords, colonel, but the musketoons
belonged to the regiment."

"There will be no occasion for you to carry them. Get for yourselves
four long cloaks well lined and  serviceable -- 'tis best that they
should be all of a colour, dark blue or gray -- and broad hats to
match the  cloaks; have in each a small red feather. I would that
you should make a decent show, for we shall start in  two hours
for Poitou. Here are twenty crowns.  See that you have ammunition
for your pistols. Be at the  Hotel Conde in two hours from the
present time. Your dinner here is ready for you, eat heartily, but
do not  drink too deeply in honour of your new service.

"Now, MacIntosh, I have a word or two further to speak to you."

They went into an inner room.

"Now, old friend, are you tired of this life of keeper of a cabaret?
because I shall want you down in Poitou.  Your house was mine when
I sorely needed it, and mine shall be yours now. You are as yet
but fifty-five,  and I take it that you can do a man's work still,
for you no longer suffer from that wound that disabled you  ten
years ago. Now, I shall require someone to drill the fifty men who
will form my contingent, if all  vassals of the king are called
upon to take the field. Of course they will not always be under
arms; most of  them will be the sons of tenants, or substitutes
provided by them, and will only give two or three days'  service a
month. It is probable, however, that half will be regular retainers
at the castle. I know nothing  about the castle at present, or how
large it is, or whether it is defensible or not; still, it was spoken
of as a  castle, and 'tis, I suppose, one to a certain degree.

"At any rate, I desire that if I do put a troop in the field they
shall be as well drilled and as well equipped as  are the Scottish
regiment of musketeers. I suppose that there must be an official
to act as my agent when I  am away, and to act as castellan, but in
any case the captain of my troop will be in charge of all matters
connected with its defence. Now, old friend, the post is yours if
you like to take it. As a soldier, none can be  better fitted for
the post than a sergeant of the Scottish regiment; as a man, there
is no one I could rely on  better than you. Your duties would not
be heavy, your position an honourable one. The castle would be
your home as well as mine, and when I am there you would have the
four troopers to crack with."

"Your offer is a most kind one," the sergeant said, "but I must
think it over in all lights before I answer. I  should miss the
company of the lads, but already many of my old comrades are gone;
most are still in Paris  earning with difficulty their bread, some
are under the sod, some have returned home. Every year the  number
who rode with me lessens. They will be countrymen, but no longer
comrades.  Certainly I have no  thought of returning to Scotland,
the people are ower gude for me; besides, the country is all in a
stir and  the folks are flying at each other's throats. I wudna go
back, not if they offered me a barony. Then, on the  other hand,
I misdoubt me how I should feel among strangers -- I don't say
foreigners, for I have been so  long here that as far as tongue
goes I am as much French as I am Scottish. Still, I would rather
be forming  troopers in your service than drawing stoups of wine,
and the young soldiers do not regard me as the old  ones did, and
grumble if I will draw them no more. Most of all, I should like to
be with you and in your  service, and to know that I had a home in
my old age."

"That you will have whenever you come to claim it, MacIntosh, whether
you accept my offer or not.  However, I think that what you say is
best, and that it would be well for you to think the matter well
over  and give me no answer until I return. I should be sorry indeed
if, after giving up your place here and going  down to Poitou, you
should regret the exchange. Therefore, we will leave it so. And
now I must be going;  we must postpone our chat over old times and
the regiment until I return."

On returning to Conde's hotel Hector found Paolo awaiting him.

"Paolo, you must go out and buy six horse cloths and five housings;
let them be fairly handsome. I have  taken four old soldiers into
my service, and should wish their horse appointments to be fit for
troopers in  one of the royal regiments, but without any insignia
or cognizance, say maroon with yellow braiding. I  shall also want
four valises for the men, and bags for carrying forage. You can
wrap up the housings that  came with the horses; they all bear
Enghien's cognizance, and this must be removed before we can use
them. The men can strap them behind their valises.  Were there
pistols in the holsters?"

"Yes, master, they were just as when you rode them."

"It was a princely gift," Hector said, "for the horses are all
splendid animals. Have you packed up my  things?"

"Yes, master, they are all ready for placing on the sumpter horse.
I bought a dozen of good wine, thinking  that you might need it on
the way, for some of these country auberges keep but poor stuff."

"We are getting luxurious all at once," Hector laughed.  "How about
my armour?"

"That is also packed up. I thought that you would not care to ride
heavily accoutred."

"Certainly not. Which of the horses do you take to be the best?"

"Certainly the one you rode in upon is the best, master, but all
four are grand animals. The two I picked up  on the battlefield
are fine animals also."

"It does not make much matter which I ride now, Paolo; we shall have
the opportunity of seeing which has  the most fire and endurance as
we ride along; and at any rate I shall keep Enghien's four horses
for my own  riding, keeping two with me and leaving two behind at
the castle. I shall buy four strong and serviceable  horses for
the troopers when I get my first rents, for in sooth my purse is
beginning to run very low."

"Possibly, master, when you look in the armoire in your room you
may find something to replenish it. One  of the cardinal's servants
brought a packet for you. I stowed it away and locked the door of
your room."

"Well, there is no time to lose, Paolo, so see at once about the
matters that I have told you. Here is  sufficient money to buy the
other goods."

"Here is the key of the room, sir."

Having seen Paolo hurry away, Hector went up to his room. In the
armoire he found the packet, which was  a heavy one. Opening it,
he found a letter and a bag sealed with wax. The letter was from
the intendant  general. It was directed, "A Monsieur le Baron de
la Villar."

"It does not look as if it could be for me," Hector said, with a
merry laugh. Breaking the seal he found:

By the order of Monseigneur Cardinal Mazarin, first minister of the
crown, I enclose the last half year's  rents of the estates of la
Villar received by me from the royal intendant in charge of the
said estates three  weeks since, to defray the necessary expenses
that must be incurred by you between the period of your  taking
possession and, of receiving the next half yearly payment of rents.

Enclosed with this was a formal permit, giving a month's leave of
absence to visit his estates, "To Colonel  Campbell, Baron de la
Villar, commanding the Poitou regiment."

"Very nice and thoughtful on the part of the cardinal," Hector
said, "and, moreover, very seasonable, for I  was wondering how I
should pay the retainers at the castle and my four troopers until
the rents began to  come in. By the time I had paid the usual fees
to the servants here, and the expenses of the journey to  Poitou
and back, I should have been almost penniless, and should have
been obliged to borrow from  someone on the strength of my coming
rents, which would have been a very bad beginning."

After bidding farewell to Conde, and thanking him for his hospitality,
Hector started immediately the  midday meal was concluded. His
cavalcade made a good show as he rode through the streets of Paris,
with  the four orderlies behind him, splendidly mounted, followed
by Paolo leading another fine horse carrying  baggage. The journey
was an uneventful one, and on arriving at the castle of Villar,
Hector was received by  the royal intendant. It was still a place
of considerable strength, standing on the crest of a hill. It had
been  kept in a good state of repair by the intendant, and could
offer a stout resistance to anything short of an  army provided with
a powerful battering train. On making a tour of the estate Hector
found that here, as  throughout France, an immense amount of distress
existed, owing to the crushing taxation rendered  necessary by the
war; he made minute inquiries of the intendant of the circumstances
of the various tenants  of the estate.

The officer was about to return to Paris now that his commission
was ended, but as he had a son who had  acted as his assistant,
Hector appointed him in his stead, charging him to press no one
unduly. He placed  under his care the domestic arrangements of the
castle, retaining the servants who had been there under the  royal
officer. There was only a permanent garrison of twelve men, but
this could be raised to a hundred  were the tenants of the estates
driven to take refuge within the walls. The expenses of keeping
up the castle  were not large. The rivers afforded an abundance
of fish, and the forests on the mountainsides sheltered an  ample
supply of game. Considerable numbers of half wild sheep and two or
three herds of cattle grazed on  the domain round the castle, and
there were eight good horses in the stables, besides a score of
others on  the hills. Most of the holdings had vineyards, and were
bound to furnish a certain amount of wine to the  castle, and as
the consumption had been small since the estate was confiscated,
the cellars were full. Hector  told the steward that the command of
the castle itself would be taken by an officer whom he would send
down from Paris, who would have control in all matters save in the
management of the estate.

Before leaving, he called all the tenants together and told them
that, seeing how heavily the royal taxes  pressed upon them, he
should remit half their annual payments until better times came,
and also the fine of  a year's rent which they would in the ordinary
course of things pay on the appointment of a new lord. The  news
filled the poor people with delight.

"I shall, however," he went on, "expect that you will render fully
and willingly the military service you are  bound to give according
to the tenure of your holdings. In a short time my castellan will
arrive here; he will  have instructions from me to make the service
as little onerous as possible, and that you shall each furnish
your quota of men at times when it may be most convenient for you.
I shall, however, expect fifteen men  added to the strength of
the garrison.  These can be changed every eight weeks. All the men
capable of  bearing arms will come up for training one or two days
in each month. I trust that you will never be called  upon to defend
the castle, but I would have it always kept in such a state that
were troubles to arise you  could all, with your wives and families,
find refuge here and be able to defend yourselves against all
attacks.

"Next winter I shall have the fortifications strengthened.  I know
that you are bound to furnish horses and  carts for so many days in
the year. I shall want this work performed, but you will be paid
both for your own  work in building, and for your carts and horses;
and as it will be done at a time when there is little farm  work on
hand, this will be a benefit to you, and the wages will be deducted
from the payments that you  have to make."

Loud cheers rose from the men, who were overjoyed on learning that
their new lord was inclined to deal so  generously with them, and
especially that the fine, which many of them would have found it
impossible to  pay, was to be altogether remitted. Having completed
all his arrangements Hector returned to Paris,  mounting his men
on four of the horses he found in the stables, and leaving at the
castle two of those which  Enghien had given him, and the two Paolo
had caught on the field of battle. He arrived on the evening of
the day before his leave expired, put up at the auberge of the
Pome d'Or, and early the next morning took  his way to The Scottish
Soldier.



CHAPTER XII:  THE POITOU REGIMENT


"Well, MacIntosh," Hector said as he entered the cabaret, "have
you made up your mind? The castle is a  strong one, and I mean to
make it stronger.  The air is good and so is the wine, and I am
sure that you will  find the duties pleasant.

"If you go I think it would be as well that you should take a couple
of your old comrades -- you said there  were many of them in Paris
-- with you, to act as your sergeants, drill the tenants, and see
that all goes on in  order. It will be pleasant for you to have
two of your old friends with whom you can talk over past times."

"I had decided to accept your offer, Hector; but certainly this
would have decided me had I not already  made up my mind. That
was the one drawback, that I should be among strangers, but with
two of my old  friends I should not feel lonely. There is Sholto
Macfarlane, he was in my troop. He lost a hand from his  musket
bursting three years ago, and now makes his living by helping the
boatmen unload at the quays.  Then there is Kenneth Munroe. He was
invalided after a bad attack of fever in Flanders, and now teaches
the broadsword exercise at a fencing master's place at St. Denis.
They would both jump at the offer if they  only got free lodgings
and keep."

"Then that is settled, MacIntosh. I am heartily glad of it.  Now
the sooner you get down there the better."

"Well, I can go at once. Sergeant Morrison is taking his discharge
at the end of the week. He is a married  man with a helpful little
wife. I was telling him of the offer that you had made me, and he
asked me what I  would take for the cabaret. It is a good business,
and having a wife he could manage it better than I can. I  said
that if he had a fancy for it I would rather that he took it than
another; and he would do better than a  Frenchman would, for the
lads would not care for the place unless it was kept by one of the
regiment.  He  asked me what were the profits. I told him.

"'Then I am afraid that you would want a bigger sum than I could
pay, MacIntosh,' he said. 'I have been a  saving man, especially
since I first thought of marrying, and I have laid by half my pay
for the last eight  years; but that would not go far towards the
purchase of the place, for your profits in a year are as much as
my savings of eight years.' So I said to him, 'Well, we will get
the place valued. You will want half the  money that you have saved
to stock it well, the other half you shall pay me down; and I will
give you five  years to pay the rest, you paying me a tenth part
every half year.'

"Well, sir, we struck a bargain on that. The place has been valued,
and on Saturday evening Morrison will  come straight in and take it
over. He is a popular man in the regiment; and as he is only just
leaving it he is  known to them all, while there are not above a
quarter of the men who knew me as a comrade in the old  days."

They then had a long talk over the sergeant's new duties, and Hector
gave him a plan of the new  fortifications that he had drawn out,
together with full instructions how they were to be carried out.

"The steward will arrange all about the tenants coming to work, and
the proportion of labour that each will  have to give. As I have
told you, he will manage all details of that kind, look after
the indoor retainers, and  see to the food.  You will have entire
control of the garrison, of the tenants who will come to drill, and
of  the works on the fortifications.  You will find the steward a
very pleasant and agreeable young man. He  will take his meals with
you. I have chosen a room for you, and you can have another near
it for your two  sergeants. You can pay them at the same rate as
sergeants of the regiment receive, and I need hardly say  that the
position will be a good deal better. As commander of the garrison
and castellan of the castle you  will be called Captain MacIntosh,
and as such you will be named in my letter appointing you to the
post,  and I propose that you shall receive the pay of captain."

"The pay is immaterial, lad, I have been nigh twelve years here,
and have laid by enough to keep me  comfortably all my life, and
as, so far as I can see, there will be nothing to spend down there,
I don't know  what I should do with pay."

"That is nonsense, MacIntosh. You must draw the pay, and spend it
as you like, or save it. You must  remember that I may be killed
in the next battle I go into, and as I have no heirs the king will
give the fief  to someone else. The newcomer might like myself have
some friend who he might appoint castellan."

"It would make no difference," the other said. "In addition to what
I have saved I shall have the price of the  cabaret."

"That is not to the point, MacIntosh. The steward has instructions
to hand you your money monthly, while  the garrison will be paid
weekly. If you choose to throw the money into the fosse, that
is your own  business, mine is to see that my castellan is paid.
I am going over at noon today to St. Denis, where my  regiment is
quartered, but will ride in on Saturday. You must buy three horses
for yourself and your  sergeants; get good serviceable animals..
I have told the steward to repay you their cost when you arrive
there; he has monies of mine in hand for all purposes."

Hector then went round and had a chat with Colonel Maclvor, and
returned to the auberge, where the  troopers and Paolo had the
horses already saddled. He mounted and rode with them to St. Denis,
putting up  at an hotel. He found where the regiment of Poitou
were stationed and at once proceeded there on foot.  Two or three
officers were chatting together in the barrack square, while some
sergeants were drilling the  companies.

He at once went up to them. "Gentlemen," he said, "I must introduce
myself to you. I am Colonel  Campbell; I have the honour to command
the regiment. I shall be glad if you will order the officer's call
to  be sounded and send orderlies off at once to the lodgings of
the officers and ask them to assemble. To  whom have I the pleasure
of speaking?"

The senior officer introduced himself and the others.  Report had
told them that their new colonel was still  a young man, and that
he had served with distinction under both Turenne and Enghien,
but they were not  prepared for so young a commander as this. The
French regiments had, as a rule, two colonels, the one a  veteran
soldier, who had won his way to the rank by long service and long
fighting, the other a young  nobleman who had gained the post
solely by family influence, but possessed no knowledge whatever of
military matters, and who was never with the regiment except when
it went upon a campaign, and even  then generally preferred the
pleasures of Paris to the hardships of war. Had Hector been appointed
to what  was called the second no surprise would have been felt at
his youth, but that anyone should have gained the  position of first
colonel at his age by sheer merit was astonishing indeed to them.
In twenty minutes the  officers were all assembled and introduced
by the senior captain to Hector.

"We will not begin business now," the latter said. "My leave of
absence does not terminate until tomorrow  morning, and I think that
it is much more pleasant to talk over matters comfortably round a
table than it is  to do so in a set manner. Therefore, gentlemen,
if you will all sup with me this evening at the Fleur de Lis,  after
we have finished our meal we will talk over our wine. My opinion is
that officers of a regiment should  be good comrades. The regiment
benefits by it, and everything goes on more smoothly and comfortably.
This is specially so in a newly raised regiment, where the officers
either are altogether new to military  matters, or join from other
regiments, and have no previous knowledge of each other. In the
same way the  men are all new to each other, and to their officers.
Unless there is perfect harmony among the officers,  there cannot
be perfect harmony in the regiment.

"If one officer looks after the comfort of his company, and treats
them as he should do, while another  company is neglected and left
solely to the care of the sergeants, there will necessarily be envy
and ill  feeling. The regiment will cease to be a unit. I may say,
gentlemen, that this is the dictum not of myself, but  of Marshal
Turenne, who was my instructor in the art of war, and who followed
out the better system from  the time that he was a boy of fourteen
until now. The result is that his regiment is the finest in
the service.   It will be my aim and ambition to raise the Poitou
regiment as nearly as possible to the same condition, and  I shall
rely upon your assistance and cooperation to bring this about.

"Supper will be served at six. I have only just returned from the
country, and have heard no news. I suppose  that no intimation has
been received as to what is our destination and whither we shall
march?"

"None whatever, colonel," de Thiou, the senior captain, said.

"All the better. I hope that they will give us a couple of months
to get into shape. There is but little time for  drill and discipline
when we are once in the field."

So saying he saluted the officers and returned to the hotel.

"Who would have thought of seeing a mere lad placed at the head
of the regiment as colonel," one of the  captains said. "I cannot
imagine how such a thing can have come about, for certainly he can
have no family  influence. A newly raised regiment like ours wants
a bright man, one that all can look up to and respect."

"I fancy that you will find that this young gentleman will be
respected," de Thiou said. "He is young and  pleasant looking, and
whatever he is I should say that he is levelheaded, and that he has
an infinite fund of  firmness and resolution. I should certainly
advise nobody to take advantage of his youth. I have seen more
service than any of you, and had my family possessed any influence
at court, I should have been a colonel  by this time. Unless I
am greatly mistaken we shall find that we have a man, a good man,
and a strong one.  Do you think that he could have won his way to
a regiment at the age of twenty unless there had been  something
quite unusual? I was talking the other day with one of Gassion's
staff, who has come back until  the wound that he got at Rocroi is
healed. He told me that Gassion -- and France has no better soldier
--  said publicly after the battle that the victory was largely
due to this young friend of ours, and that had it not  been for
him things might have gone altogether differently; and he said that
Enghien, proud and ambitious  as he is, frankly admitted the same
thing. Of course I can only go upon what I have seen of him, but from
what he said, and the manner in which he said it, I am convinced
that we could not get a better chief than  this young colonel. I
believe that he will make it a comfortable regiment to be in, but
I also believe that  those who oppose him will find that they make
a grievous mistake."

The next day Hector took up in earnest the work of organizing the
regiment. In the first place he insisted  that the officers should
learn their drill; then, that instead of handing over the practical
command of their  companies to their sergeants, they should themselves
command them on the drill ground, look after the  discipline and
comfort of the men in barracks, and become personally acquainted
with the character of  every man under their command. Many of the
sergeants were inefficient; these were speedily deprived of  their
rank, and men of good conduct and zeal appointed to their places.
The regard of the men was won by  his insisting that the contractors
for their food should send in meat and bread and wine of the quality
that  they had guaranteed to supply.

Three officers were told off every day to examine the quality of
all food sent in; any reported as being bad  was examined by Hector,
and if the complaint was well founded, was at once condemned.
Great attention  was paid to the cooking, to the cleanliness of
the barrack rooms, and to many other details that had until  then
been entirely neglected.  There were at first some grumblers,
not only among the men, but among the  officers as well; but the
extraordinary and rapid improvement in the efficiency of the regiment,
its  appearance and condition, was such that these were not long
in recognizing that although the work was  hard, no unnecessary
labour was imposed upon them, while, as their knowledge of drill
increased the work  became easier and less irksome. All recognized
that by far the hardest worker in the regiment was the  colonel
himself. Every morning for the first month he himself drilled the
officers in a courtyard that was  not overlooked, and when they
all knew their work, sent them to take charge of their companies.
Until he  considered the officers competent, he drilled the
companies by turn, and when drill was over, made a tour  of every
room in the barracks, visited the kitchen, and conversed freely
with the men, listening to any  complaints.

At first the number of men brought up for drunkenness was large.
The first offence he always condoned,  giving the offender a lecture
on the folly of his conduct and of the discredit that it brought
upon the  regiment. For the second offence a man was confined to
barracks, and forced to wear his coat inside out  even at drill. The
ridicule that the men had to suffer was worse than any punishment
inflicted upon them,  and no case occurred of a third offence.
By turns the three officers of each company dined with him, and,
chatting with them as a friend, he not only gained their liking but
made himself acquainted with their  individual characters.  Turenne
came to Paris a short time after Hector assumed the command of
his  regiment, and as soon as he heard of his arrival, the latter
called upon him.

"I heard from the cardinal of your good fortune," the viscount said,
"and congratulate you heartily upon it.   Mazarin was good enough
to say that the discovery of the Spaniards' ambush was the result
of my teaching,  and indeed I feel somewhat proud of my pupil. I
am going to the Rhine, as perhaps you may have heard."

"I hope to have the honour of serving under you with my regiment,
sir."

"I shall be glad to have you, but I fear there is little chance of
it. I am to take the command of the Weimar  troops.  The death of
the duke has been a heavy blow to us, and it is thought that unless
I go down there -- I  say it because I have served there and am
known by the Weimar troops -- that force will break up  altogether.
From what I hear, I hardly think there is much chance of having any
French regiments with me,  and those now being raised are likely
to be sent to fight under Enghien in Flanders. My position is, as
you  know, a painful one, owing to Bouillon having gone to Italy
to take the command of the Pope's troops. I  believe that is the
reason why Mazarin has withdrawn me from the command of our army
in Savoy.  However, as a soldier I accept the work he has given
me, not allowing family matters to interfere in any  way with it,
though it is my opinion that Bouillon has been very hardly treated
by the breaking of the  engagements that were given him when he
surrendered Sedan to France."

A week later Hector presented himself at the levee of Cardinal
Mazarin.

"I was expecting to see you, baron. I received your note saying that
you had taken the command of your  regiment, and would do yourself
the honour of presenting yourself as soon as you had put matters
in trim.  Are you satisfied with your men and your officers?"

"With both, your eminence, and trust that in two or three months'
time you will do us the honour of  inspecting us."

"And how did you find your barony?"

"I was delighted with it. The castle is a strong one, and I am taking
steps to add to its strength; and I believe  when it is finished
that it will be almost impregnable save by an army, and that well
commanded."

"Then you think," the cardinal said with a smile, but with a certain
air of seriousness, "that you could offer  me a safe asylum if I
needed one."

"I trust that such an event may never occur, your eminence, but
if it should, my castle is at your disposal,  and I will guarantee
that it will resist for three months, whoever might attack it."

"One can never say," the cardinal said mournfully. "Oh, these nobles!
They are, as they have ever been, the  curse of France. Each man
thinks only of himself and of increasing his domains. What France
may suffer  matters nothing to them so that they are enriched.
Were one of them capable of ruling France I would  gladly retire;
but who is there?  Orleans, vain, empty headed, treacherous to his
friends, a man whose word  is not to be relied upon. Conde, who
thinks only of enriching himself and adding to his possessions.
Beaufort, a roistering trooper. None of these men could maintain his
position for a moment. The whole  country seethes with discontent
at the heavy taxation necessitated by the war; Paris, as is always
the case  when there is trouble in the air, is restless and turbulent.
I have good friends, but they are insufficient to  sustain me
against the intrigues of my enemies. The queen alone upholds me.
Truly, the burden is too great  for one man to bear.

"You will wonder why I am speaking thus to you, Colonel Campbell,
but it is of the greatest necessity that  her majesty should know
upon whom she can rely absolutely in case of trouble. You, sir, being
altogether  unconnected with any of the great families of France,
stand in a different position from that of the great  majority
of officers of your rank. Look where I will, I see our regiments
officered by men connected by  birth and family with one or other
of the men who are at present intriguing against us, and were they
ordered to take steps to arrest, for example, one of those persons
connected with them, they might, without  openly refusing, give
such warning to them that they would be able to escape. Now, sir,
I ask you to tell me  frankly whether, under all contingencies,
the queen can rely upon your services? I give you my word that
whatever your reply is, it shall in no way count against you.
There are cases in which it would doubtless be  painful to you to
carry out such an order. You are a protege of Monsieur de Turenne.
Monsieur de Turenne  is brother of the Duc de Bouillon, and, as I
know, you yourself were staying for some months in the castle  of
Sedan, where you went to be cured of your wounds. Now, monsieur,
frankly, were you ordered to arrest  the Duc de Bouillon, would
you carry it out without fear or favour?"

"Certainly I would, your excellency; and should you give such an
order to Marshal Turenne he would do so  himself.  He is a soldier
of the queen before all things, and has taught me that my duty is
towards the  sovereign who represents France, regardless of all
other considerations."

The cardinal while speaking had watched the young soldier's face
scrutinizingly. Faithful as Turenne had  always been to the crown,
even when his brother was in arms against it, Mazarin had still in
his heart some  doubts as to his fidelity under all circumstances.
He could not but be conscious that faith had been  absolutely broken
with Bouillon, and, accustomed to tortuous ways, he could scarce
imagine that Turenne  would hold himself altogether above family
interest.  He saw by the manner more than the words of Hector
that he was speaking from a profound conviction. In asking him the
question, he had been thinking more of  Turenne's loyalty than of
the young colonel's. Having been four years in the closest connection
with the  marshal, he could not but know his real sentiments, and
he felt sure that had Turenne expressed any anger  at the treatment
his brother had received, he would have seen it in the young man's
face.  The answer was a  reassuring one.

"Thank you, monsieur le baron; the musketeers and the Swiss guards we
know we can absolutely rely  upon, and I shall be glad to be able
to inform the queen that she can place implicit faith in your regiment.
I  need not impress upon you the necessity for our conversation
being regarded by you as absolutely  confidential."

Hector, thinking the matter over, had no great difficulty in the
end in arriving at the truth, namely, that his  own loyalty was
a very secondary object of interest to the minister, and that his
real motive in thus  apparently opening his mind to him had been,
not to gather his own sentiments, but to endeavour to  ascertain
those of Turenne. From the talk among his officers he had already
learned that the general opinion  was, that although the queen had
always entertained a most favourable opinion of Turenne, and had
herself  nominated him as marshal and commander of the forces on the
Rhine, Mazarin had assented to the  arrangement because he feared
that the army of Italy would probably follow its commander should
the  latter take up the quarrel of his brother, while, on the
Rhine with but a few regiments, to all of whom he  was a stranger,
under his command, he would be practically powerless, whatever his
sentiments might be  with regard to Bouillon.

In the middle of August Hector received an order from Mazarin to
take part with his regiment in a review  which the queen intended
to hold at Versailles two days later. At this review the musketeers,
the Swiss  guards, the Scottish regiment, and two regiments of
the line besides his own, the queen, the young king,  Mazarin, and
most of the members of the court were present. The Poitou regiment
acquitted itself  admirably, and its marching, and the steadiness
with which it went through its manoeuvres, were in such  strong
contrast to that of the other two infantry regiments, which had
both been formed for some years, as  to excite the surprise and
admiration of the spectators. After it was over a mounted officer
rode up to  Hector and told him that the queen wished to speak to
him. Riding up, he dismounted, and advanced to the  queen's pavilion.

"Monsieur Campbell," the queen said graciously, "I wish to express
to you how well satisfied we are with  the efficiency of your
regiment, and the admirable way in which it has gone through its
manoeuvres. Never  have I seen these better performed; and this is
the more surprising as it has been but four months raised, and  but
three months under your personal command. The cardinal has informed
me that he learns that this is  due entirely to your personal
exertions, and the care that you have bestowed upon it. I wish
that all my  officers showed the same zeal and diligence. In order
to mark my gratification at the conduct of the  regiment, I have
requested monsieur le cardinal to order that two companies of your
regiment shall be  quartered at the barracks now occupied by the
Scottish regiment, which is to march east tomorrow."

Hector bowed deeply; and, immensely gratified at the praise that
his regiment had received, returned to his  place at its head,
and marched back to St. Denis. On their arrival there he informed
his men of the gracious  words the queen had been pleased to say
about the regiment, and the great honour bestowed upon them by
the quartering of two companies in Paris. The men broke into loud
cheering as he concluded.

Hector then called the officers together. "Gentlemen," he said, "I
have to thank you for the admirable way  in which you have seconded
my efforts, and by the aid of which the regiment has just gained
the high  commendation of Her Majesty, within so very short a time
after it has been raised.  I have been thinking the  matter over
as I rode back, and I have decided that where all did so well, it
would be invidious to give to  any the sole honour of being thus
quartered near the Louvre and furnishing guards, and to yourselves
the  pleasure of being in Paris. Therefore, gentlemen, I shall send,
in the first place, the first and tenth  companies. At the end of
two weeks the ninth company will take the place of the tenth; a
fortnight later, the  second will take the place of the first, and
so in order, so that each company will in turn have its share in
this honourable service."

There was a general murmur of satisfaction. The next morning a
formal order was received that two  companies of the Poitou regiment
should march into Paris, and occupy a portion of the barracks which
the  Scotch regiment had just vacated.

Hector called up the two companies he had selected.

"Now, men," he said, "you see the advantage that you have gained by
discipline and good conduct. I have  no doubt that before granting
us the honour of forming a part of the garrison of Paris, the minister
has made  inquiries respecting the conduct of the regiment here,
and has doubtless heard that it has been eminently  satisfactory,
and that the authorities and inhabitants have no complaint, of
drunkenness or misconduct,  against us. Of misconduct there have
been no cases, of drunkenness very few, and, indeed, for the past
month there has not been a single case among you. I trust that you
will remember that while in Paris the  credit of the regiment is
in your hands, and that no single case of drunkenness or brawling
in the streets will  take place.  I feel confident that this will
be so, and I need hardly say that should there be an exception, the
punishment will be vastly more severe than any that has previously
been awarded, and I am sure that any  offender will find, in the
contempt with which he will be regarded by his comrades, a still
more severe  punishment than any that I can inflict."

That evening Captain de Thiou and the other officers of the two
companies that were to march into Paris  the next day dined with
Hector; and after dinner de Thiou rose and said: "Colonel, I have
been requested to  express to you, on behalf of the whole of the
officers of the regiment, our deep gratitude for the honours  that
our regiment has obtained.  These you were good enough yesterday
to ascribe partly to us; but we feel  that they are wholly due to
yourself. Although some of us were at first a little inclined to
think that the  changes made by you in our work were unnecessary,
all now recognize fully how great has been the  benefit, not only
to the regiment, but to ourselves. Duties which were at first
considered irksome are now  regarded as pleasant. We feel that,
as you said would be the case, we have acquired the respect of the
men,  and that it is upon us that they rely, and not upon their
sergeants.

"Our own time passes more pleasantly from being fully occupied, and
from consciousness that we are  doing our duty.  As to the regiment
in general, the benefit has been enormous.  The men seem pleased
with  the interest shown in them, as much as with the comfort that
they now enjoy, and they in turn endeavour to  satisfy us, both by
their attention to drill, by their bearing and manner, and by their
avoidance of giving any  cause for complaint. All this, monsieur,
has been your work, and I am sure that we are all conscious of the
difference of the display we made in the park, and that which we
should have shown had it not been for the  reforms which have been
introduced by you. We all trust that the day may not be far distant
when we shall  be able to prove on the field of battle the same
efficiency that has won us credit upon the parade ground."

"I thank you heartily, Captain de Thiou, for what you have been
good enough to say on your own behalf  and that of the officers of
the regiment. I can only say that I have endeavoured to act up to
the teaching of  Monsieur de Turenne, and I felt sure that although
my methods might at first seem irksome to some of you,  their value
would gradually become appreciated. I am scarcely less pleased at
the decrease in drunkenness,  and at the general improvement in
the men, than by the increase of discipline and efficiency."

"Do you mean to come to Paris, colonel?" De Thiou asked presently.

"No; I shall remain here. I shall ride in every day, but my
presence will be more necessary with the  regiment than with only
two companies. You as senior officer will be responsible for the
general order of  the detachment."

Hector rode in the next day with his men, and after seeing them
comfortably lodged in barracks, returned to  St.  Denis. A week
later reports reached St. Denis of a strange scene at the court.
The haughty and insolent  Duchess of Monthazon, who belonged to the
party of the Importants, had the impertinence to insult the  queen
grossly in the gardens of the Tuileries. She had at once been disgraced
and ordered to retire to  Rochfield, and the Duke of Beaufort and
his friends were furious at this exercise of Mazarin's authority.
The next day Hector received a message asking him to call at the
Hotel de Cleves, the cardinal's residence.   On his presenting
himself, he was at once shown into Mazarin's private apartments.

"Monsieur de Villar," Mazarin said, "I am sorely in need of friends.
You have heard of what has happened,  and from the threats that he
has publicly uttered against myself I am convinced that Beaufort
will hesitate at  nothing to bring about my ruin. I hear that you
are still with your regiment at St. Denis. I shall be glad if for
a time you will take up your abode at Paris, and will hold yourself
in readiness to be of service to me if  there should be occasion.
Beaufort is capable of even attempting my life; he is very
unscrupulous, and will  hesitate at nothing. I shall be glad if
you will take up your lodging within a short distance of this, so
that I  can communicate with you instantly."

"Certainly, your excellency; I will keep half a company always under
arms, so that at the shortest notice  they will be in readiness to
act as you may direct. But surely, your excellency, you have the
queen's  musketeers close at hand?"

"The queen's musketeers are a body of gallant soldiers, but they
will take their orders only from the queen.  They were strongly
anti-cardinalist in the late reign, and I do not suppose that they
are better affected  towards myself than they were towards Richelieu.
If they heard that my hotel was attacked they would not  move a
foot until they received orders from the queen to do so."

"At any rate, you shall have no reason to complain of delay on our
part, your excellency, and I can assure  you of my devotion."

Hector at once went to an auberge but a few hundred yards from the
cardinal's residence. He thought it  better to put up there than
to take lodgings, as he could then have his four mounted men with
him; and,  riding to St. Denis, he returned the same night with
them.

"A horse is always to be saddled," he said to them when they had
dismounted and his orderlies had come  up to his room, "and one
of you by turns will always remain here armed and ready to mount
without an  instant's delay. The others will put aside their
scarves; and one of you will always be at the cabaret nearest  to
the Hotel de Vendome, the residence of the Duke of Beaufort, who
is a son of the Duc de Vendome.  At  times two of you can be there
so as to drink and play cards together, as the appearance of one
sitting too  long might attract attention. Your object is to find
out from the conversation of the duke's guards and  servants whether
they have any idea that anything unusual is going to take place. I
have reason to believe  that there is a plot against the cardinal,
and I am much concerned in defeating it."

When the four Scotch soldiers had retired, Hector said to Paolo:

"Now, Paolo, I place more reliance upon your finding out anything
that is afloat than upon the soldiers. It is  not likely that any
plans Beaufort may form will be communicated to his people until
the moment for  action, and indeed it is probable that he will
rely solely upon his personal friends.  Now I want you to  disguise
yourself in any way you may think best, and watch Beaufort's hotel;
see who comes in and out,  and if a messenger goes out follow him,
see the houses he calls at, and mark if those who dwell there repair
at once to the Hotel de Vendome. If you perceive that this is the
case let me know at once. See if you can  get hold of half a dozen
street gamins, and employ them to watch the houses of all these
gentlemen, and  especially that of Monsieur Id, captain of Beaufort's
guards, and of the two Messieurs de Campion and the  Count de
Beaupuis, who are, I know, among the duke's most intimate friends.
There are scores of these  street boys who for a few sous a day
would gladly undertake the work."

"I will do that, master. You can take my word that by tomorrow at
noon the lodging of these four  gentlemen will be strictly watched.
This is a business after my own heart."

"In the first place, Paolo, take a note from me to the Hotel de
Cleves and wait for an answer."

The note was a short one. It merely gave the name of the auberge
at which he had taken up his quarters, and  added:

If your eminence will be good enough to send me every morning a list
of any visits that you may intend to  pay, or any journey that you
may make during the day, it would enable me to regulate my movements
accordingly in order to be always here and ready to carry out any
orders that you may send me from your  hotel.

The cardinal's reply was even more brief:

It is well thought of.  I shall go nowhere but to the Louvre tomorrow,
and shall probably be there the  greater part of the day. Unless
you hear from me to the contrary, you need only remain in between
twelve  and one.

The next morning Paolo appeared dressed in ragged clothes.

"What is that bundle of papers that you have got?"

"They are lampoons on the cardinal. Nothing so natural as that I
should try and sell them in front of the  Hotel de Vendome."

"Nothing could be better, Paolo."

"I have already picked up a dozen gamins, master, sharp little
beggars, who jumped at the idea of being set  to watch people.
Between them everyone who goes in or comes out from the hotel will
be followed, and  they will, in the first place, find out his name
and bring it to me, after that they will follow him wherever he
goes, and from time to time let me know what he is doing."

Several days passed. The four gentlemen specially named, together
with several others, were frequently at  the hotel. There was in
this, however, nothing suspicious, as Hector easily learned that
they were all vassals  or close friends of the house of Vendome.
On the third day, however, he heard that at least a dozen of these
gentlemen met in twos or threes at various cabarets near the Duke
of Beaufort's, and spent the greater  portion of their time there.
Hector at once procured dresses suitable for gentlemen of the
middle class for  the troopers, and gave them instructions to spend
the greater portion of their time at the cabarets at which  these
gentlemen stopped. Their reports were that they talked of indifferent
subjects, but that they were  evidently waiting for someone, as
they invariably turned a glance at the door whenever a fresh comer
entered.

The next day Hector received a note from the cardinal:

I am just starting with the Duke of Orleans for Maisons, where I
shall dine with him.

Two hours later the three troopers who had been out returned almost at
the same minute with the news that  the persons they were watching
had all got up suddenly and gone out after a messenger wearing
the  Beaufort cognizance had come in and spoken to them. And a few
minutes later Paolo arrived and said that  the Duke of Beaufort had
gone with the Count of Beaupuis to the convent of the Capuchins,
and that  several horses had been taken there.

Hector thought the matter over. "Certainly," he said to himself,
"as the cardinal's note is dated at nine  o'clock, he is now some
distance on his way. As soon as the duke received notice of his
having gone, he  notified his friends. It can only be on his way
home that they will venture to attack him; but even if they  have
that intention they will scarcely do so if the Duke of Orleans
returns with him, unless, indeed, the  duke is himself in the plot,
and as none of Paolo's scouts have brought news of any communications
between Beaufort and Orleans, it is hardly likely that it is so.

"Paolo, do you go down and watch the convent of the Capuchins. If
the Duke of Beaufort remains there  with his friend -- and he may
doubtless be joined by others -- let me know if he rides away. If
he does so  the attack may take place anywhere along the road; if
he remains, he will doubtless attack the cardinal as  his carriage
passes. Should there be more than one entrance to the convent,
put boys to watch them, and  bring you news should the party sally
out.  I shall be at the barracks. It is there that you must bring
or send  me word."

The troopers were ordered to put on their military clothes and
saddle their horses, and a quarter of an hour  later Hector rode
to the barracks, followed by them.

"De Thiou," he said, "I want you and the other five officers to
have your horses ready at a moment's notice.  I have some sort of
idea that there is a plot on foot against the cardinal, and I want
to take a hand in the  matter. I fancy that with you and my five
troopers we shall be strong enough to disconcert the plotters."

Two hours later he received a message from Paolo, saying that
the Duke of Beaufort and three other  gentlemen were still at the
convent, but that most of the others had gone to the residence of
Henri de  Campion in the Rue St.  Honore.

"They mean to attack him just at the end of the journey," Hector
said to himself, "and close to the Hotel de  Vendome.  Now it
only depends upon whether the Duke of Orleans stays at Maisons or
returns with the  cardinal."

He ordered the officers and troopers to mount, and with them took
his post on the road by which the  cardinal would return. In half an
hour they saw his carriage approaching. They then moved forward. As
the  carriage passed them Hector saluted, and saw to his satisfaction
that the Duke of Orleans was with the  cardinal. After the carriage
had gone fifty yards Hector turned, and with his party followed
the carriage at  that distance. When within a quarter of a mile
of the Rue St. Honore a horseman came along. He met the  carriage,
and immediately it passed him turned and galloped back along the
road. Hector felt no doubt that  he was placed there to warn the
conspirators to be in readiness if the Duke of Orleans was not in
the  carriage, and that there would now be no attempt. However,
he closed up to within thirty yards. As they  entered the Rue St.
Honore all was quiet there, and nothing happened until the cardinal
alighted at the Hotel  de Cleves. As he did so he looked round,
and beckoned to Hector to follow him.



CHAPTER XIII:  THE BATTLES OF FREIBURG


The cardinal did not address Hector until he had entered his private
room, when he turned and said sharply,  "What means this, colonel?
When I saw you and your officers on the road I felt sure that you
were not there  for nothing, and still more sure when on alighting
I found you so closely following me."

"I was convinced, cardinal, that there was a plot against your
life, and I believe that it was only because the  Duke of Orleans
returned with you that it was not carried into effect."

"And possibly because they saw your troop behind the carriage. Now
tell me your reason for supposing that  I was in danger."

Hector related the various steps that he had taken.

"Your spies worked better for you than mine did for me," the
cardinal said. "That a dozen or so of  Beaufort's friends were for
some reason or other spending their time at the Angel Inn and other
cabarets I  was aware, but I have had no word of their proceedings
today. You have been better served, doubtless,  because your plans
were better laid.  I hardly think that they would have attacked me
when Orleans was  with me, but there is no saying; for if Beaufort
has daring and insolence enough to attempt to slay the  queen's
minister within a quarter of a mile of the Louvre, he would not
trouble greatly whether princes of  the blood were in the carriage
or not, especially if he had some reason for believing that Orleans
would not  regard the deed with very great disapproval.

"However, whatever his intentions might be, it is clear that the
appearance of your party of twelve armed  men decided the question.
We may regard it as certain that the news that I had such an escort
was carried to  them by the man who galloped on ahead. I thank you,
sir, I thank you very heartily, not only for my sake,  but for that
of France. I will ask you to go across to the Louvre; I will take
half a dozen armed servants with  me, but there is little fear
that the attempt will be renewed today. They must be too much
disconcerted by  the failure of their plot to make fresh arrangements
so speedily. I shall go first to the Louvre and inform her  majesty
of what has taken place. You will remain here for half an hour,
and will then leave by the gate at  the back of the house and make
a circuit, and enter the palace by the river gate. The musketeers
on guard  will stop you, but I will give you a pass." And he wrote
a few lines on paper. "The queen's confidential  servant, Laporte,
will be at the door to meet you, and will have instructions to
escort you by corridors  where you will be unobserved, and so to
her majesty's private closet. Were you to accompany me, Beaufort
would soon hear of it, and would be shrewd enough to perceive that
your meeting with me was by no  means a matter of chance."

Hector followed out his instructions, and on presenting himself
at the palace was at once taken up to the  queen's closet. Laporte
went in, and returning immediately requested him to enter. The queen
was walking  up and down the room, her face flushed with indignation.

"Her majesty would fain hear from your own lips, monsieur le baron,
the statement that you have made to  me."

The queen sat down and listened intently while Hector repeated the
story.

"There can be no doubt about it, cardinal; this keeping of a number
of armed men within call for days, the  summons to them to gather
in the Rue St. Honore, while he himself with others took up his
post at the  convent of the Capuchins hard by, the moment his spies
had discovered that you had left for Maisons,  could but have been
for one purpose. But they shall learn that although a woman, Anne
of Austria, Queen  of France, is not to be deprived of her minister
and faithful friend without striking back in return. Monsieur  de
Villar, you have rendered me a great service. Is there any boon
that you would ask of me? it is granted  beforehand."

"I thank your majesty most humbly," Hector said.  "Already I have
received honours far beyond anything I  deserve. I had the honour
when thanking your majesty, to hope some day to be able to give
proof that they  were not unworthily bestowed, and still hope to
do so."

"You have already shown yourself worthy," the queen said, "by the
manner in which you have in so short a  time rendered the regiment
to which we appointed you so efficient. However, if there is at
present no boon  that we can bestow, then remember that the Queen
of France holds herself your debtor, and that you have  my royal
word that any boon that you may hereafter ask for, that is in my
power to grant, will be given you.  Take this as a pledge of my
promise." And she took off a gold chain exquisitely worked, and
gave it him.  He received it kneeling. "Now, sir, we will keep you
here no longer. I have much to say to his excellency.  I  trust
that you will present yourself at the levee this evening."

"One thing more, colonel," Mazarin added; "I doubt not that some of
Beaufort's people will endeavour to  find out how it was that you
came to be behind my carriage. If they do so you might carelessly
mention that  you and your officers had ridden out in a party at
St. Germain, and that on your way back you chanced to  fall in with
my carriage."

At the barracks Hector called the officers together.  "Gentlemen,"
he said, "I have no doubt that your little  ride today has somewhat
puzzled you. I am not at liberty to tell you the reason why I
requested you to ride  with me; but it is very probable that you
may be asked the question, and I beg you all to remember that we
have been on a little party of pleasure to St. Germain, and having
dined there were on our way back when  we overtook the carriage of
the cardinal; and seeing that he had the Duke of Orleans with him,
we reined  back and followed him, deeming that it would not appear
respectful were we to gallop past the carriage.  Please bear this
story in mind. Recall also that we dined at the Lion d'Or there,
that our dinner was a good  one and that it was a sort of celebration
on my part of our two companies having the honour to be chosen  for
duty in Paris. This is a matter upon which much depends; it is, in
fact, a matter of state; and you may  well imagine that I should
not be recalling these events to your mind were it not that a good
deal depends  upon it, and that I have received strict orders that
this little comedy shall be carried out. I know that I can  rely
implicitly upon your discretion, and I have indeed answered for
you all. The story will be true in every  respect. Instead of the
excursion having come off today it shall come off on the first day
I can arrange that  we can be all off duty."

That evening at the palace Hector was, as the cardinal predicted,
accosted by one of Beaufort's officers, to  whom he had been
previously introduced. After talking on other subjects for a few
minutes, he said:

"I saw you today, monsieur, riding with a party of your officers
along the Rue St. Honore. You did not  notice me?"

"I assure you that I did not, sir, or I should not have been so
rude as to pass without saluting you." Then he  added with a laugh,
"We were riding slowly, too, for the cardinal's coach was in front
of us, and it would  not have been good manners to have galloped
past him, especially as he had the Duke of Orleans with  him."

"Had you been far?" the other asked carelessly.

"No great distance; a little party of pleasure with my officers to
eat a dinner together, to celebrate the  honour we had received in
being brought into Paris. My officers have worked very hard, and
the matter  served as a good excuse for giving them a little dinner."

For the next day or two everything passed off quietly, but four of
the officers reported that when dining at a  cabaret two or three
of the duke's officers had come in and entered into conversation
with them, and had  brought up the subject of their riding in after
the cardinal.

"You almost looked as if you were serving as a bodyguard to him,"
one of them laughed.

"I daresay we did," was the answer. "It was rather a nuisance; but
it would not have been courteous to have  ridden past the carriage."
And he then repeated the story as had been arranged.

Although the Duke of Beaufort had been told by some of his friends
that there were rumours abroad of a  plot against Mazarin's life,
and that it would be best for him to leave Paris for a time, he
refused to do so,  saying that even if it was discovered the cardinal
would not dare to lay hands on him.  Moreover, the  replies which
had been obtained from Hector and his officers convinced him that
their riding behind  Mazarin's carriage was an accident.

On the 2nd of September the duke presented himself at the Louvre as
usual. After speaking with him for a  few minutes, the queen left
the room with Mazarin, and Guibaut, captain of the Guards, at once
came  forward and arrested him. He was kept at the Louvre that
night, and next day was taken to the castle of  Vincennes. Two
companies of Swiss guards marched first, followed by a royal carriage
containing the duke  and Guibaut. The carriage was surrounded by
the royal musketeers. A body of light cavalry followed, and  the
two companies of the Poitou regiment brought up the rear.  Thus
the people of Paris were shown that  the queen had both the will
and the power to punish, and the fickle population, who would the
day before  have shouted in honour of Beaufort, were delighted at
seeing that the royal authority was once again  paramount in Paris.
The other members of the party of Importants either fled or were
arrested. The  Campions, Beaupuis, and others, succeeded in making
their escape from France. The Marquis of  Chateauneuf, governor
of Touraine, was ordered back to his province. La Chatres, colonel
general, was  dismissed from his post; the Duc de Vendome was
forced to leave France; and the ambitious Bishop of  Beauvais and
several other prelates were commanded to return to their dioceses.
All the members of the  Vendome family were exiled to the chateau
of Annette. Madame de Chevreuse, de Hautefort, and a large  number
of other members of the party were ordered to leave Paris. Thus
the party of the Importants ceased  to exist.

The people of Paris seemed greatly pleased at what appeared to
them the end of the troubles, and they  exclaimed that Richelieu
was not dead, but that he had simply changed his appearance, and had
become  twenty years younger.  Mazarin chose a number of soldiers
belonging to his own regiment, and several  officers who belonged
to Richelieu's own guard. These were at all times to follow
him wherever he went.  He selected a number of noblemen, all of
distinguished merit and influence, and created five of them dukes,
and thus secured to himself a party that would to some extent
balance the power of his adversaries.

He also made an effort to bring about a union between the Duke of
Orleans and the Condes, but failed,  owing to the enormous demands
that each put forward. Conde demanded the government of Languedoc
for  himself, of Burgundy for Enghien, and Normandy for the Duc de
Longueville, and the entire domains of  his late brother-in-law,
Henry of Montmorency. Orleans on his part demanded the province
of Champagne,  the three bishoprics of Metz, Toul, and Verdun, and
the town and castle of Sedan. As these demands, if  granted, would
have rendered the two families all powerful, Mazarin gave up the
attempt, and decided that  the best plan to prevent troubles was to
let these dangerous families continue to be hostile to each other.

As soon as he had finished his work of crushing the Importants,
Mazarin sent for Hector.

"Now, Monsieur Campbell," he said, "I have breathing time. The
conspiracy among the nobles is for the  time crushed, and now that
they see that the queen is determined to protect me, and that I
am not afraid of  using the power committed to me, I hope that it
will be some time before they venture to conspire again. I  have
further strengthened my position by granting honours to many
distinguished gentlemen who were well  inclined towards me, and
on whose support in the future I shall be able to rely. Now it is
time that I should  turn to the man who has probably saved my life,
and to whose evidence given before the queen I in no  small degree
owe it that she resolved to suppress these insolent nobles. I have
not hurried in this matter,  since, by your answer to the queen, it
was evident that you desired no change in your position, and that
the  matter could wait.

"Still, monsieur, her offer was to grant honours for services
rendered to the state. The matter of the service  that you have
rendered to Cardinal Mazarin is still untouched. It is something so
new to me that anyone in  France should be so perfectly contented
with his lot as to refuse such an offer as that made to you by the
queen, that I feel somewhat at a loss what to do. I can understand
that, young and ardent, increased rank  would have no charm for
you. Were it otherwise I could bestow the highest rank upon you. I
am aware that  your habits are simple, for I have made inquiries,
and that money in itself goes for little in your eyes; still,  sir,
one who has the honour of being first minister of France, and who
is also a very rich man, cannot  remain with a debt of gratitude
wholly uncancelled. I hear from my agent in Poitou that you have
voluntarily remitted the fine that your vassals would pay on the
occasion of a new lord taking possession,  on account of the heavy
taxation that presses so sorely upon them.

"I honour you, sir, for such a step, and have even mentioned it
to the queen as a proof of the goodness of  your disposition, and
I feel sure that there is nothing that would please you better than
that I should grant  the tenants of your estate an immunity from
all taxation; but this I cannot do. All private interests must give
way to the necessities of the state. I deplore the sufferings of
the cultivators of France, sufferings that have  of late driven
many to take up arms. It is my duty to repress such risings; but I
have ordered the utmost  leniency to be shown to these unfortunate
men, that the troops should not be quartered upon their  inhabitants,
and that the officers shall see that there is no destruction
of houses and no damage to property;  that would increase still
further their difficulty in paying the imposts, which I regret to
say press so sorely  and unduly upon them. Tell me frankly what is
the greatest object of your ambition?"

"I thank your excellency most heartily for your kind intentions
towards me, but any ambition that I may  have had is already much
more than gratified. I have never for a moment thought of, or even
wished that I  might some day become lord of a fair estate and a
noble of France. I had not ventured to hope that I might  become
colonel of a regiment for another fifteen years. Both these things
have, thanks to the kind  appreciation of her majesty and yourself
for a very simple act of duty, fallen to me. If I might ask a
boon, it  would be that my regiment may be sent to join the force
of Marshal Turenne. So long as there was danger  here I should not
have wished to be removed from a position where I might be of some
assistance, however  slight, to the queen and yourself, but now
that all danger is at an end I should be glad to return to active
duty. I have endeavoured humbly to make Marshal Turenne my model.
He has but one thought and one  desire -- namely, to do his duty
and to make the soldiers under his command contented and happy, but
I  have no hope of ever emulating his great merits as a commander."

"That request is easily granted," Mazarin said, and drawing a sheet
of paper towards him, he wrote:

The regiment of Poitou will at once proceed to the Rhine, where it
will place itself under the orders of  Marshal Turenne.

He added his signature, and handed the paper to Hector.

"That counts for nothing," he said. "You must remember that life
is short and, especially in the case of a  minister of France,
uncertain. In your own case you might be disabled in the field and
unable to serve  further. The advent of a party hostile to me in
power would doubtless be signalized by acts of vengeance  against
those who have been friends, and estates change hands so frequently
in France that la Villar might  well be confiscated. No man is
above the chances of fortune. I have agents in England, and have
this  morning given an order to my intendant to place in the hands
of Monsieur Wilson, a well known citizen of  London, a goldsmith,
the sum of fifty thousand crowns to stand in your name, and to be
payable to your  order. Here is his address.  It is but a small sum
for the saving of my life, but it will place you above the  risk of
the contingencies of fortune in this country. I wish for no thanks,"
he said, with a wave of his hand  as Hector was about to speak. "I
have given more for the most trifling favours. I now bid you adieu,
and  doubt not that I shall hear that you and your regiment have
greatly distinguished yourselves in the east,  where hostilities
will in all probability shortly be commenced. You had better
present yourself at the levee  this evening to make your adieus to
the queen."

This Hector did, and early the next morning rode with his two
companies to St. Denis, where the news that  the regiment was to
march towards the Rhine was received with great satisfaction. It
was now the middle of  October, and when, after ten days' march,
the regiment reached Epernay, they heard that Turenne had  withdrawn
his troops from the Rhine, where the Imperialists had already gone
into winter quarters, and had  stationed them in the various towns
of Lorraine. His headquarters were at Nancy. Turenne greeted him
warmly upon his arrival.

"Matters have been going on slowly since I saw you in Paris. I
have been too weak to fight the Bavarians,  who fortunately were
too undecided to attack me. Could they but have made up their minds
to throw in  their fortune with Austria, they might have overrun
all Lorraine, for aught I could have done to withstand  them. The
troopers were without horses, the infantry almost without clothes,
and as the court was unable to  send me any remittances I have been
forced to borrow money upon my own estates for the public service,
and have mounted five thousand horse and enrolled three thousand
foot and am still sustaining them.  However, I hear from Mazarin
that he will in a week send off a large convoy of treasure, which
will be  welcome indeed, for I am nearly at the end of my resources.
Some of my troops are quartered in the town,  but the most part
are among the mountains, where they trouble the inhabitants less
and have small  temptations towards rioting and excesses. Which
would you rather?"

"I would much rather go into the country, marshal; my regiment is
in good condition now, but to stay in  quarters in a town is bad
for discipline."

"So be it. You might make your headquarters at the village of Saline;
there are no other troops within thirty  miles of it. On arriving
there you will make inquiries as to the supplies to be obtained
within a circle of  fifteen miles round. Fortunately I have a good
supply of tents, and any men for whom you cannot find  quarters in
the villages can be placed under canvas. You can draw as much wine
as you require for three  months' rations from the stores here, and
two months' rations of flour. I will direct the intendants to take
up  carts for the transport of the supplies you take from here.
You will doubtless be able to buy meat up there,  and I hope that
you will be able to obtain sufficient flour and wine to last you
till the end of the winter, for  transport will be very difficult
when the snow is on the ground. Firewood your soldiers will, of
course, cut  for themselves in the forests."

The winter passed quietly. Hector managed to obtain quarters for
all his troops -- a village being allotted to  each company. Before
they marched off to their various quarters, Hector urged the officers
to impress upon  their men the advantage of behaving well to the
villagers.

"Of course the presence of so many men will be of serious inconvenience
to them, but they will doubtless  make the best of it if they find
that they are treated civilly and that their lodgers endeavour to
give as little  trouble as possible.  See that everything down to
the smallest article is paid for, and investigate every  complaint,
and I will punish any offenders severely. I have inquired into the
average prices that sheep,  fowls, pigs, goats, and other articles
fetch, and have made out a list for each company; the peasants will
be  gainers by it, for they will be saved the journey down to the
towns. Let this be stuck up in a conspicuous  place in each village.

"The intendant will go round and make contracts for the supply of
meat, and will see whether it will be  more advantageous to erect
ovens for the baking of bread in each village or to arrange to
buy it ready baked  there, we supplying the flour; for the troops,
after being accustomed to good bread at St. Denis, will not be
content with the black bread upon which these poor people exist. I
shall pay a visit to each company in  regular order, see that all
is going on well, try men who have misbehaved themselves, and listen
gladly to  any suggestions that the respective captains may make
to me."

The first company was quartered at Saline, and although the cold
was severe and the life rough the troops  were well contented, and
Hector was glad to find that his instructions were carried out and
that excellent  relations were maintained between the troops and
their hosts.

Early in the spring Turenne collected a force of three regiments of
cavalry and two of infantry, and, passing  the Rhine at Breisach,
fell suddenly upon a force of Imperialists in the Black Forest,
defeated them, and  took three or four hundred prisoners, among
whom were many officers, the rest of them escaping to the  army
commanded by Count Merci. In May the Bavarian army, numbering
eight thousand foot and seven  thousand horse, marched to besiege
Freiburg, five leagues from Breisach, and Turenne followed with all
his force, which now numbered ten thousand men. He found, however,
that the Imperialists had occupied  all the strong positions in the
neighbourhood of the town, and not caring to run the risk either
of defeat or  great loss, and receiving information that the town
had already opened negotiations for surrender, he fell  back some
five miles from the town, sending news to the court that his force
was insufficient to attack the  Imperialists. Mazarin thereupon
sent orders to Enghien to set out at once for Germany. As soon as
he  reached the Rhine and his army prepared to cross, Enghien, who
had been appointed generalissimo, rode  forward with Marshal de
Gramont, who was in command of the army under him, to the camp of
Turenne.  The meeting between Enghien and Turenne was most cordial.
Enghien had always felt the warmest  admiration for the talents
of the older marshal, had been most intimate with him whenever he
was at court,  and regarded him as his master in the art of war.
Turenne was free from the vice of jealousy; and as the  armies of
France were almost always placed under the supreme if sometimes
nominal command of princes  of the blood, it seemed nothing but
natural to him that Enghien should receive supreme authority.

The characters of the two men were in complete contrast with each
other -- the one was ardent, passionate,  prompt in action and
swift in execution; the other, though equally brave, was prudent
and careful, anxious  above all things to accomplish his object
with the smallest possible loss of men, while Enghien risked the
lives of his soldiers as recklessly as his own. They always acted
together in the most perfect harmony, and  their friendship remained
unimpaired even when in subsequent days they stood in arms against
each other.  At the council Turenne was in favour of making a
circuit and taking up their post in the valley of St. Pierre,  by
which they would intercept the Bavarians' communications and force
them by famine to issue out from  their strong lines and fight in
the open, and urged that to attack a position so strongly fortified
would entail  terrible loss, even if successful.

Marshal de Gramont, and d'Erlac, governor of Breisach, were of the
same opinion. The Duc d'Enghien,  however, was for attacking the
enemy in their intrenchments; the idea of starving out an enemy was
altogether repugnant to one of his impetuous disposition, and as
generalissimo he overruled the opinions of  the others. He himself,
led by Turenne, reconnoitred the position of the enemy, and decided
that the one  army, which was called the army of France, consisting
of six thousand foot and four thousand horse,  commanded by Marshal
de Gramont, should attack the enemy's position in front and on
their right flank,  and the other, called the army of Weimar, of
five thousand foot and as many horse, under Turenne, should  move
round by a narrow pass and attack the enemy on the left flank.
Merci's army occupied an almost  inaccessible hill whose summit
was strongly fortified, and it was against this that de Gramont's
army was to  hurl itself. The entrance to the valley by which
Turenne was to fall upon their left flank was closed at its  mouth
by very strong intrenchments, and it was behind this that the main
body of horse was posted.

To gain his point of attack Turenne had to make a very wide circuit,
and started at break of day on the 3rd  of August.  It was arranged
that Enghien, who remained with de Gramont, should not attack until
three  hours before sunset, in order to give Turenne time to attack
at the same hour. At the time agreed upon,  Enghien sent forward
two battalions to begin the attack. The regiments of Conde and
Mazarin were to  follow, while the duke held two others in reserve.
In order to get at the enemy the assailants were forced to  climb
a very steep ascent, and cross a vineyard intersected by many walls
four feet high facing the terrace  on which the vines grew. These
were occupied by the Bavarians, but the French attacked with such
vigour  that the enemy were driven back.  When, however, the latter
reached the great cheval-de-frise, formed by  felled trees, in
front of the intrenchments, they could make no further progress,
so heavy was the fire  maintained by the enemy.

Enghien, seeing this, dismounted, placed himself at the head of
the regiment of Conde, and led them  forward, while Marshal Gramont
and the officers did the same. Encouraged by this example, the
troops  were filled with enthusiasm, and, following their leaders
unfalteringly, made their way through the cheval-de-frise,
and, pressing forward without a pause, obtained possession of the
intrenchments, driving the  Bavarians into the woods behind. The
battle had lasted three hours, and had cost the Bavarians three
thousand men, while the French suffered at least equally.

Turenne's force had been as hotly engaged. Merci, the best general
in the Austrian army, had foreseen that  an attempt might be made
through the defile, and had posted strong bodies of infantry among
the trees on  either side.

As soon as Turenne entered the defile he was encountered by a heavy
fire from his unseen foes, who,  falling back through the trees
as he advanced, continued to gain strength. Turenne had to fight
every foot of  his way in order to dislodge the enemy, and it was
not until Enghien had brought the battle to a conclusion  on his
side, that Turenne arrived and, forcing the intrenchments guarding
the mouth of the defile, found  himself in contact with Merci, who
was now able to concentrate his whole force against him. The combat
was a furious one. The troops were engaged at but forty paces
apart, and sometimes had hand-to-hand  encounters. Merci brought
the whole of his cavalry into play, but Turenne was unable to use
his, as they  were behind his infantry and could not make their
way out through the mouth of the defile.

For seven hours the battle raged in the darkness. After losing three
thousand men here, General Merci  decided that his army would be
totally destroyed if Enghien should bring his troops down from the
hill at  daybreak. Accordingly, leaving a body of musketeers to
hide the movement by their fire, he withdrew the  rest of his army
and took up another strong position, partly on a height known as
the Black Mountain,  covering the entrance of the valley of St.
Pierre and partly in the valley itself, thus covering his line of
retreat.  Had the French been able to attack early the next morning
before the Bavarians had time to  intrench themselves they might
have won an easy victory; but for the past twenty-four hours the
rain had  been falling incessantly, Turenne's army had been marching
on the previous day, and had been fighting for  seven hours, and
was incapable of further exertions, while that of Enghien was in
little better plight, having  passed the night in the rain on the
ground it had won.

After such hard fighting both commanders agreed that a twenty-four
hours' halt was absolutely necessary.  The day could not be termed
one of rest, for there were thousands of wounded to be collected
and cared for,  arms to be cleaned, for they had been rendered
useless by the rain, and provisions to be brought up from the  rear.
Merci made the most of the time thus given him. The bottom of the
mountain towards the plain was  fortified by several rows of felled
trees, and a portion of his infantry was posted between this point
and the  town of Freiburg, which was but half a mile away. The
intrenchments that had been formed during the  siege of the town
were occupied by them; and as their front was covered by the fire
of the guns from the  fortress, as well as by that of the infantry
on the hill, he considered the position to be impregnable, and
therefore placed the main body of his army at the edge of the flat
top of the hill, a strong body behind a  wood about halfway up the
slope, and his cavalry extended from that point to the walls of
the city.

After reconnoitering the position, Enghien determined to make two
attacks, one on the trenches between  the foot of the hill and the
town, and the other on the rows of felled trees at the foot of the
mountain. A  false attack was to be made between the two points.
Turenne's force advanced nearly to the foot of the hill,  the prince's
army followed him, and also took up its position. But just as the
attack was about to be made a  great tumult was heard on the hill,
and Enghien and Turenne rode to a neighbouring height in order to
ascertain what was going on, leaving strict orders that no movement
was to be made until their return.  Count d'Espenan, who commanded
the two advanced regiments of Enghien's army, however, ordered
a  detachment to attack a redoubt which stood within the line of
attack, and Merci sent supports to its  defenders.

D'Espenan sent more troops on his side and the engagement became
serious. Suddenly the Imperialist  artillery opened fire along the
whole of their line, and Enghien's troops, apparently taking this
for the signal  of the beginning of the battle, moved forward
for the assault without order or leader. As they were broken  and
confused by endeavouring to pass through the abattis of felled
trees, the Bavarians rushed out and  drove them back with great
slaughter. Enghien and Turenne, galloping up in all haste, in vain
attempted to  rally them. Officers and men alike were panic stricken.
The two generals then rode to Turenne's army and  advanced against
the defence of trees. For a long time the battle raged without
any marked success on  either side. Several times the French made
their way in to the intrenchments and were as often repulsed.  Merci
ordered his cavalry to dismount, and led them into the fray, but,
darkness falling suddenly, the  assailants ceased to attack, and
occupied for the night the ground on which the struggle had taken
place.   The fight that day had cost them two thousand troops,
and the Bavarians twelve hundred, but as the latter  had lost half
their infantry in the first day's fighting the French were still
superior in numbers. During the  night Turenne had all the wounded
of both nationalities carried to Breisach. After giving the army
four  days' rest, Enghien determined to resort to the tactics that
Turenne had from the first recommended, and,  marching along the
plain, ascended the valley of Bloterthal and made for St. Pierre,
where he would cut the  Bavarian line of retreat. As soon as Merci
saw the movement he gave orders for his army to fall back with  all
haste, and although Turenne pressed hard on his rear he succeeded
in drawing his troops off, though, in  order to do so, he was obliged
to abandon his baggage and cannon. Altogether he lost between eight
and  nine thousand men, with their artillery and most of their
horses. The French loss was equally great, and  though the battle
was claimed as a victory by them owing to the Bavarians having
finally fallen back, it was  really a drawn one.



CHAPTER XIV:  JUST IN TIME


The regiment of Poitou had suffered heavily in the battles of
Freiburg. In the first advance Turenne had  placed it in the rear
of his infantry.

"I must have, Hector," he said, "a reserve upon which I can implicitly
rely; brought up at the right moment  it might decide the fate of
a battle, if we are beaten it can allow the disorganized regiments
to pass, check  the pursuit of the enemy, and retire in good order,
contesting every foot of the ground until the rest of the  force
have emerged from the mouth of the defile and been enabled to form
up in sufficient order to  withstand the effect of the enemy's
cavalry."

The regiment, therefore, took no part in the work of clearing the
defile of the enemy's infantry, and for the  first four hours of
the battle remained in the rear. Then Turenne ordered it to the
front, to take the place of  the regiments which had already lost
half their strength, and were no longer capable of resisting the
continued assaults of the Imperialists.  Turenne himself rode with
Hector at the head of the regiment. They  pushed their way through
the hardly pressed troops in front, and when they faced the enemy
deployed and  poured a terrible volley into their assailants, and
for the remaining three hours bore the whole brunt of the  battle.
Standing four deep, their flanks resting upon the rising ground on
either side of the mouth of the  pass, the two front lines alone
maintained their fire so long as infantry only pressed them,
the two lines  behind being ordered by Hector not to fire a shot.
When, however, the Bavarian infantry drew aside and the  cavalry
thundered down, the front lines fell back through those behind them,
and the latter received the  cavalry with such terrible volleys of
musketry that they each time broke and fled.

Turenne, after seeing the Poitou regiment take up its post,
occupied himself in reforming the remains of the  other regiments,
and raising their spirits by warm words of commendation at the
manner in which they had  fought, until assured that they in turn
could, if necessary, join the first line if it were forced to give
way.  When he had done this he rejoined Hector, who had dismounted
and moved backwards and forwards  among the men, seeing that the
gaps caused by the enemy's fire were constantly filled up, and
encouraging  the soldiers with praise and exhortations. Turenne
sat upon his horse some paces behind the rear line. When  he saw
the Bavarian infantry draw aside, and heard the roar of the cavalry
charge, his lips tightened, and he  half turned his horse as if to
call up the regiments behind. When, however, he saw the lines that
had  hitherto been in rear take up their place in front and stand
there quiet and immovable, the look of  irresolution passed from
his face, and, after the Bavarian horse had fallen back, shattered
by their volleys,  he pressed a pace or two forward and shouted,
"Regiment of Poitou, I thank you in the name of France;  never saw
I a regiment fight more bravely or steadily!"

The men responded with a loud cheer to this praise from one whom
all respected and loved. Turenne then  rode up to Hector.

"Splendidly done, Colonel Campbell! I had rather wondered why you
kept half your men idle in such a  fight; I now understand why you
did so. Had all been firing, three-quarters of their muskets would
have  been empty, and you would possibly have been overthrown. It
was a stroke of genius. I may have taught  you many lessons in war,
but tonight you have given me one."

Turenne remained with the regiment till the end of the fight, and
marked with approval the way in which  each line fought by turns,
while the other remained behind them ready to receive the charges
of the cavalry.  As soon as the Bavarians drew off he saw that all
the wounded were carried to the rear, where the surgeons  rendered
what aid was possible, while the rest of the troops threw themselves
down to snatch a few hours'  sleep. When, three hours later,
Enghien's troops came down from the hill they had won, Turenne's
force  marched out from the defile. Turenne mounted his horse, and,
calling upon Hector to follow him, rode  forward with his principal
officers to meet Enghien.

"It has been a terrible battle, prince, and if your loss equals
mine the victory has indeed been won at a  terrible cost."

"Mine has been heavy, too," Enghien said, "but we have gained our
object."

"Not wholly," Turenne replied, "for Merci has taken up a position
as strong as that from which we have  driven him."

"I wish that I could have lent you a hand in the fight," Enghien
said, "but the Bavarians had fallen back into  the woods, and we
knew not whether they still held their ground there. In the rain and
darkness it would  have been dangerous to have crossed the broken
ground with its woods and ravines, and the troops, after  their
exertions and heavy marches, were incapable of such an effort.
Indeed, I had lost fully half my  infantry, and the cavalry would
be useless for such work. You must indeed have been sorely pressed,
having Merci's whole force to contend with. Still, I had no doubt
even if you could not issue from the defile  you would be able to
check the enemy." Then the generals in turn repeated the details
of the battles in  which they had been engaged and the losses they
had suffered.

Turenne then introduced his principal officers to Enghien, and when
he had done so called up Hector.

"I need not introduce this officer to you, prince," he said.

"No, indeed," Enghien replied, holding out his hand; "I have good
reason to recollect you, Colonel  Campbell. You have heard, marshal,
what a good service he rendered me at Rocroi?"

"He has rendered me one no less this night," Turenne said. "I never
saw a regiment stand more steadily than  the one which he commands,
and which he has trained to what seems to me perfection. For the
last three  hours that regiment alone bore the brunt of the battle,
although assailed alternately by infantry and cavalry,  and thus
afforded time to reform the regiments that fought earlier in the
afternoon and to give me hope that  even were the enemy to overcome
the resistance of his men, I could still be able to check their
further  advance."

He then told Enghien the manner in which Hector had arranged and
fought his troops.

"A good device indeed," Enghien said warmly, "and methinks it
worthy of adoption whenever infantry  have to meet other infantry
and cavalry, for the muskets take so long to reload that there
might not be half a  dozen men ready to give fire when the cavalry
charge. Is that one of the many lessons that he tells me you  have
given him?"

"No, indeed; it has not, so far as I am aware, ever been tried
before. Parts of regiments are often held in  reserve to reinforce
their comrades if necessary, but this method, whereby half the
regiment are able at a  moment's notice to meet cavalry with their
muskets loaded, is methinks, entirely new, and in such cases as
the present very valuable."

In the second day's fighting Turenne's army had taken but small
share, for during the retreat of the  Bavarians the cavalry alone
had come into play.

The Bavarians having retreated into Wurtemberg, a council of war
was held to decide in what manner the  greatest advantage could
be gained during their absence. Most of the chief officers were in
favour of  retaking Freiburg.  Turenne was of a different opinion.
He represented that the siege would occupy a  considerable time,
and that if successful they would, at the end of a campaign, have
simply retaken a town  that was theirs when it began. They could
therefore point to no advantage gained by their efforts or by the
loss of so many men. He advised, therefore, that as the Bavarian
army was now sixty miles away, and could  not very well return,
as it would need large reinforcements, fresh cannon, and baggage
wagons, they should  take the opportunity of making themselves
masters of the whole course of the Rhine and even of the  Palatinate.

The Duc d'Enghien declared for this plan. Turenne went at once to
Breisach, and arranged for the transport,  by boat down the Rhine,
of all the necessaries for the siege of Philippsburg. The army
started on the 16th of  August, a part of Turenne's army being
detached to capture small towns and castles. On the 23rd of August
Philippsburg was invested by Turenne, Enghien's force arriving on
the following day.  Philippsburg stood  on the Rhine, which at this
point formed a sharp elbow, and the land being low, many morasses
surrounded  the town, and the approach therefore was exceedingly
difficult. Eight hundred paces from the town stood a  square fort,
which commanded the river, and was connected with the town by
a causeway. The town itself  had seven bastions, round these ran
a very thick hedge, and the moat was wide and full of water. The
garrison was a weak one, not exceeding a thousand men, but they
had a hundred pieces of cannon and a  large store of ammunition.

Feeling that he could not hold a fort so far from the town, the
commander withdrew the garrison from it,  and Turenne seized it, and
placed a strong force there. Enghien then threw up strong lines in
a semicircle  round the town to protect the army in case any large
force of the enemy should endeavour to relieve it. This  occupied
four days, and in the meantime the boats had arrived with cannon,
ammunition, and provisions. A  bridge was thrown across the river
in twenty-four hours, and a force was sent over; this attacked and
captured Germersheim, and then marched to Spires, which at once
opened its gates on the 29th of August.  In the meantime the siege
of Philippsburg was begun in earnest.  The approaches could only be
carried on  in one place, where the ground was sandy, and continued
so up to two of the bastions of the town.

Turenne commanded the attack against the right bastion, de Gramont
that on the left. They first diverted a  brook running through the
plain, and were enabled to use its channel as an approach, thus
advancing fifteen  hundred paces nearer to the town. They then
formed an intrenchment that could be used by both columns,  and
from this on the 1st of September they began to open their trenches
against their respective bastions.  De Gramont's works were attacked
on the following day by a sortie; this, however, was driven back.
On  the fifth night both columns made a lodgment on the counterscarp,
and their batteries opened fire. After  some days' work they filled
up the ditch, and seeing that his force was too weak to oppose so
strong an  attack, the commander surrendered on the 12th of September.

Although Merci was advancing with an army, Enghien continued the
project that had been formed, and,  remaining with his own troops
to protect Philippsburg, sent Turenne with all his horse and five
hundred  foot to Worms, which threw open its gates. Oppenheim
surrendered without resistance, and he arrived in  front of Mayence.
The garrison was very small, and upon the threat of Turenne that
he would attack it on  all sides the citizens sent a deputation
offering to capitulate. Turenne sent word of this to Enghien, who
rode there at once, and received the surrender of the town.  Bingen
capitulated; Landor, Mannheim,  Neustadt, and several other places
were taken; and thus from Strasburg to a point near Coblenz,
the whole  course of the Rhine, the Palatine, and all the country
between the Rhine and the Moselle fell into the hands  of the
French. Enghien returned to pass the winter in Paris. The greater
part of the army was recalled, and  Turenne was left with but a
few regiments to hold the newly acquired territory.

"Do you wish for leave, Campbell?" Turenne asked Hector. "You had
but a few days in your new lordship,  and have a right to spend at
least a portion of the winter there."

"I thank you, marshal, but I have no idea of leaving you. You
have been good enough to say that you will  fill up the gaps in my
regiment by embodying in it the remains of the regiment of Ardennes,
which will  bring it up to nearly its former strength. I certainly
should not like to be away while the work of fusion is  being carried
out. The new men must be divided equally among the companies, and
the officers so arranged  that one of those now appointed shall be
attached to each company with two of my own. Then I must see  that
all so work together as to arrive at the same standard as before.
I should have wished that if possible  the captains of the Ardennes
regiment should be appointed to the new regiment that you are about
to form,  and that the places of those who fell in action should
be filled from my list of lieutenants."

"Certainly. You lost five captains, did you not?"

"Yes, sir."

"If you send me the names of the five senior lieutenants, I will
promote them at once."

"Thank you, marshal; that will make all my lieutenants captains.
I lost five of them and three second  lieutenants."

"Then you will require thirteen more officers." He looked at a list.
"There are eight belonging to the  Ardennes, the rest I will draw
from other regiments. There is little fear of their objecting to the
exchange,  for your corps won such a reputation that all will be
glad to join it; I will send you back to Nancy. There are  barracks
there, and no other troops; and as we are not likely to be disturbed
until the spring, you will have  plenty of time to bring the regiment
up to its former mark."

The winter, indeed, passed quietly. The officers were all greatly
pleased when they heard the arrangements  Hector had made, by which
most of them obtained a step in rank instead of being, as they had
feared,  passed over by officers belonging to the Ardennes regiment.
The battle of Freiburg had shown them the  great advantage that had
been gained by the steadiness and discipline of their men. They
took up the work  of drilling again with even more zeal than before,
and it was not long before the regiment was restored to  its former
state of efficiency. The reason why he had sent the regiment back
from the Rhine was explained  by Turenne to Hector before he started.

"The orders from court were," he said, "that I was to retain only
the Weimar regiments, and I should have  been obliged to send you
back with those of Enghien had I not represented to him that it
might be of the  greatest importance to me to have even one good
French regiment within call.  We talked it over at some  length,
and he finally agreed to take upon himself the responsibility
of ordering that your regiment should  not go beyond Nancy, upon
the ground that there were very few troops in Lorraine; and that
peasant risings  had taken place there, as in other departments,
owing to the terrible distress caused by heavy taxation. He  has
handed to me a paper authorizing you to take such steps as you may
think fit, as soon as you receive  news of such risings, to aid the
civil authorities, if they should take place at any point within
reasonable  reach. The regiments stationed at Metz will naturally
maintain order north of Pont-a-Mousson, while you  will send
detachments to points south and east of Nancy. You will understand
that you are not to move  troops on the strength of mere rumours,
but only when requests for aid are sent by local authorities."

Indeed, during the winter of 1644-45, as in that preceding it,
troubles broke out in many parts of France,  and in some the risings
of "the barefooted ones," as they were called, became for a time
very formidable.  The rage of the unhappy peasantry was principally
directed, as during the Jacquerie, against the nobles, and  any
chateaux were sacked and burned, all within killed, and terrible
excesses committed.

In February serious outbreaks took place. A messenger arrived at
Nancy with an urgent appeal for help, and  Hector took four companies
and marched with all speed to the disturbed district. As soon as
he reached it  he broke up his force, despatching each company in a
different direction, his instructions being that any  body of armed
peasants they might meet were to be dispersed, but, once beaten,
were not to be pursued and  cut up, and that life was not to be
unnecessarily sacrificed. He himself, with one company, marched
towards Poissons. He was within a mile of the town when a mounted
man, bleeding from several wounds,  rode up.

"The chateau of Blenfoix has been attacked by two hundred peasants,"
he said. "My lady and a dozen  retainers are holding a tower, but
they cannot long resist; even now the place may have been captured. I
broke my way through, and, hearing that there were troops in this
direction, I have galloped at full speed to  implore your aid."

"How far is it?"

"About ten miles."

"You hear, de Mieville; bring the men on with all speed.  I will
gallop forward with my troopers and do  what I can.  Do I go straight
along the road?"

"Yes, sir, nine miles hence you will see the chateau on an eminence
a mile away to the right."

Followed by his troopers and Paolo, Hector dashed off at full speed.
In three quarters of an hour, at a turn  of the road, they caught
sight of the chateau. Flames were pouring through most of the
windows.

"Now, lads," he said to the men, "we have got long odds to face,
but there is a lady to be rescued, and if any  men can accomplish
it we will."

The chateau was partly castellated, the new portion having been
built against what had formerly been a  small castle. On its summit
a flag was still flying. Riding on at the top of their speed they
soon saw a  number of men swarming round a gate which opened into
the older portion of the building.

"Put your pistols in your belts, lads. Don't use them if you can
help it, but trust to your swords. Cut your  way through that crowd.
Ride in at the gate, and dismount at the door leading up to the
turret. Then do you,  Macpherson and Hunter, cover our rear while
we fight our way up the steps. Follow us as we go, and if you  want
aid, shout and we will come down to you."

On hearing the sound of the galloping hoofs the peasants for a
moment made a movement of retreat, but  when they saw that the six
horsemen were alone, they began to gather courage, and again waved
their arms,  which were mostly axes, or poles to which scythes or
billhooks were attached. Riding three abreast, the  horsemen burst
in among them, hewing and hacking with their swords; and the crowd,
unable to resist the  impetus of the charge, opened a way for them,
and in a moment they had passed through the gate.  A group  of men
round an open door that marked the position of the turret stairs,
scattered with cries of alarm as they  galloped up. In a moment
they sprang from their horses and entered the doorway. The stairs
were narrow,  and but one man could mount and use his weapons at
a time. They were, however, densely packed with  men.

Hector sprang up, closely followed by the others. The resistance
was feeble, for the height above the  winding steps was but six
feet, and insufficient for the use of either axes or longer weapons.
Many of the  peasants, astounded at seeing the armed men mounting
from below them, and wholly ignorant of their  numbers, threw down
their weapons and cried for mercy. Hector contented himself with
pushing past them,  and running his sword through any who showed
signs of resistance. One or two men armed with rough  pikes made a
stand; these he shot, and pressed upwards until within some twenty
feet of the top, when the  peasants, half maddened at finding
themselves caught, rushed down in a body.  "Close up!" he shouted
to  his followers. These pressed close up to him, but the weight
was too much for them, and they were borne  by the rush backwards
down the stairs, when the peasants darted out through the door.
Hector had received  several knife cuts on the shoulder and arms,
and would have suffered still more severely had not Paolo and  Nicholl,
who were next to him, thrust their pistols over his shoulder and
shot his assailants, whose bodies,  borne along by the pressure
from behind, protected him from the blows of those above them.

"Are you hurt badly, master?" Paolo exclaimed as they stood breathless
for a moment at the bottom of the  stairs.

"No, I think not; my gorget saved my neck; I have four or five
cuts on the shoulders, but they are mere  flesh wounds.  Now let
us mount the stairs; the men must have made a stout defence indeed
to have held  out so long."

The upper part of the stairs was indeed almost blocked with dead
bodies. At the top of the stairs stood two  men with axes, which
they lowered as soon as they saw Hector.

"You have made a brave stand," he said, "in defence of your mistress."

"You have arrived but just in time, monsieur, for we are the last
two left, and though we might have  accounted for a few more,
another five minutes would have finished it."

Stepping out on the platform at the top of the tower, Hector saw
a lady leaning against the battlements; she  was deadly pale, but
her face still bore a look of calm determination. In her hands she
held a dagger;  clinging to her was a girl of some fifteen years
of age.

"Thank God, madam, that we have arrived in time!" Hector exclaimed.

"Just in time, monsieur; we had given up all hope, when, as if
sent by God, we saw your little band appear  riding towards us.
Even then I hardly ventured to hope; it seemed well nigh impossible
that six men should  be able to clear a way through so many. Only
two of my faithful retainers still held the stairs, and it was but
too evident that these could not resist much longer; when one more
had fallen I had resolved to plunge this  dagger into my daughter's
heart and then into my own. Death would have been a thousand times
preferable  to falling into the hands of these wretches."

"How long have you been beleaguered, madam?"

"My men have been fighting for four hours. For upwards of three
hours they did well, for the peasants,  being unable to use their
weapons, frequently drew back. Then they hit upon the device of
fastening a hook  to the end of a pole, and, catching this round the
leg of one of the defenders, dragged him down, and then  despatched
him with their knives. One by one four of my men were killed. For
the last half hour the two  who remained stood back, one at each
side of the doorway, so that they could not be so entrapped, and
slew  those who, mounting the stairs, tried to rush past them.
Both were sorely spent, and the end must have  come soon had you
not appeared. Whom have I to thank for this unlooked for deliverance?"

"I am Colonel Campbell, Baron de la Villar," Hector replied, "and
have the honour to command his  majesty's regiment of Poitou."

"Your name is not French," the lady said.

"No, madam, I am a Scotchman."

"Then," the lady said, speaking in English, "I must claim you as a
countryman, for I am Irish. My husband  was an officer in the army
of the Duke of Lorraine; he was killed in a skirmish four years
ago, and a year  later I married the Baron of Blenfoix, and was
again widowed at the battle of Freiburg, where my husband,  who
had followed the fortunes of the Duke of Lorraine, his feudal lord,
fell fighting by the side of General  Merci. This is my daughter
Norah. But I see that you are wounded," she went on as Hector bowed
to the  young lady.

"Not seriously, madam; but I feel somewhat faint from loss of blood,
and will remove my helmet. As it  turned out," he went on somewhat
faintly, "it was unfortunate that I did not put on my body armour;
but I  had not anticipated hard fighting, and preferred to ride
without it. Thanks for your offer, lady, but my men  will see to
me, they are all of them pretty well accustomed to the bandaging
of wounds."

He was now, indeed, almost too faint to stand, and Paolo and Nicholl
seated him against a battlement, and  then proceeded to take off
his upper garments and examine his wounds. They were all at the
back of the  shoulder, as his assailants, pressed closely against
him, were unable to strike him in front. The lady tore  some strips
off her garment and assisted in bandaging the wound, being, as she
said, well accustomed to  such matters.

"Is all quiet on the stairs?" Hector inquired of the two men whom
he had placed on guard there.

"Save for the sound of some groans all is still, colonel," Hunter
replied. "Methinks that after being  withstood for four hours by
six retainers they are not likely to make a fresh attempt against
six well armed  men.

"What are they doing, Macpherson?"

"They are gathered in front of the chateau, sir. A large number of
things were dragged out before the flames  reached them, and at
present they seem to be quarrelling over the division of them. They
have got some  barrels of wine out of the cellars and are making
free with them."

"So much the better," Hector said. "The company will be up in half
an hour at latest, and will give them a  lesson unless they move
away before that; and now that they have taken to drinking they
are not likely to  do so."

The bandaging of his wounds being now completed, Hector was assisted
to his feet.

"I grieve, madam," he said, "that I did not arrive in time to
prevent the chateau being burned."

"The loss is not mine; my husband's estates were confiscated when
he crossed into Germany with the duke,  and were some ten months
ago granted to a Monsieur de Thours, a relative of the Prince
of Conde; but he  sent me a courteous letter to say that as he
was serving with the Duc d'Enghien, I was welcome to continue  to
occupy the chateau until the war was over, receiving the rents as
his chatelaine, paying the retainers, and  keeping up the establishment,
and sending the surplus to his agents at Nancy. This I was glad
to do, for,  indeed, had it not been for his kind offer my daughter
and I would scarcely have known whither to go, as  my husband expended
his last crown in equipping a force for the service of the duke."

At this moment Macpherson exclaimed:

"I see the head of a company mounting the slope, colonel."

"Yes, and there is Captain Mieville. Ah! he has halted the men, and
is riding forward alone to take in the  situation.  I hope that the
peasants won't catch sight of him." When Mieville reached a point
where he could  obtain a view of the front of the chateau he checked
his horse, and after surveying the scene for a minute  rode back
to the company. A movement was at once visible.

"He is extending them on each side," Hector said.  "That is good.
He is going to inclose the peasants, and as  from the slope in the
ground they cannot see the troops until they are within a hundred
yards, he will catch  them in a trap."

The company moved round, in fact, until they had formed almost
a semicircle, then they advanced, closing  in as they neared the
house. When they reached the spot where they could be seen by the
peasants a trumpet  sounded and they ran in. The peasants, bewildered
at seeing the line of soldiers closing in around them,  hesitated.
Some were already too drunk to rise from the ground on which they
had thrown themselves, the  others caught up their arms and ran
together. Retreat was impossible, for behind them was the burning
house. Suddenly a stream of fire burst from the semicircle of
troops. Some thirty of the insurgents fell, the  others threw down
their arms and fell upon their knees crying for mercy. The troops
were rushing forward  to finish their work, when Hector shouted
"Halt!"

"De Mieville," he said, as the officer rode up towards the tower,
"do not shed more blood. Thirty at least  have fallen in their
attack on this turret, besides those who have been killed by your
fire. Take the rest,  disarm them all, let the men cut some stout
switches and give every man twenty blows well laid on the  back,
and then let them go. Before you do so, send a dozen of them to
clear the staircase and to draw some  buckets of water from the
well and sluice the steps down. Paolo, do you run down and find a
vessel of some  sort and a goblet or horn, and bring up some wine
from one of those barrels. The ladies sorely need  something after
what they have gone through, and I myself shall be all the better
for it, for the loss of blood  has given me a raging thirst."

Paolo had no difficulty in carrying out the order. The rioters had
brought out several pails for holding the  wine, a score of silver
cups and other vessels lay where they had been dropped when the
soldiers appeared,  and the officer had placed two men on guard
over them. Paolo thoughtfully brought up a pail of water as  well
as of wine. The ladies drank a little wine and water, while Hector
took a long draught, and made the  two retainers who had fought so
stoutly, and his own men, do the same. In half an hour the staircase
was  cleared and washed down, and the party then descended.  The
baroness had told Hector that for the present  at any rate she would
go to Nancy, and would report to the new lord's agents there what
had happened, and  doubtless he would send a man to take charge of
the place.

"These cups," she said, "were all the personal property of my
husband, and I am therefore free to take them.  Many of them have
been in his family for a very long time. Their sale will enable me
to live until I can  form some plans for the future."

The several silver vessels were collected and wrapped up ready for
transport in some of the hangings that  the rioters had torn down.
An outhouse adjoining the keep was cleared out and thickly spread
with rushes  for the accommodation of the baroness and her daughter.
The troops had already had a very long march,  and it was out
of the question that they could return to Nancy that night. Fires
were lighted in front of the  house, and the soldiers prepared to
bivouac there. Three of the troopers were sent off with orders to
the  captains of the other three companies to concentrate the next
morning at a village on the line that would be  taken on their return
march. Some men were sent down to the little town of Blenfoix to
purchase bread and  meat, together with torches and other necessaries.
At nightfall Hector posted sentinels, as he considered it  quite
possible that the peasants would raise the country for some distance
round and try to take vengeance  for the loss they had suffered.
When Paolo took some supper round to the two ladies, he returned
with a  message that they hoped Colonel Campbell would join them
in their meal.

"See that the sentries are on the alert, Mieville," he said as he
got up from the fire round which he and the  three officers were
sitting; "you must remember that these poor fellows are desperate.
Of course you and I  know that they can do themselves no good by
attacking castles and burning chateaux, but were we in their  place
-- famished, despairing, and ignorant -- we should doubtless do the
same. And although, with men as  well disciplined as ours, there
would be little chance of the peasants overpowering us, they
may trust in  their numbers, and would believe that if they could
destroy us, the whole country might well rise and join  them.
Should there be any sign of trouble, call me instantly."

Two sentries had been placed at the door of the outhouse, and as
he entered Hector said, "Keep good watch,  men, and if you hear
any noise that might betoken the approach of a body of men, warn
me at once."

"I heard what you said to the sentries, Colonel Campbell; do you
think that there is any danger?"

"No danger, I trust, madam, for I am convinced that we could beat
off any number. Still, I do think that  there is a possibility of
our being attacked. The peasants know that we are but a company.
They may send  to all the villages round and call on them to come
and revenge those who have been slain. The people of the  hills are
strong fellows -- wood cutters, charcoal burners, and shepherds --
and there can be no doubt that  they suffer terribly from the enormous
taxation. I have seen it on my own estate in Poitou, and can make
every allowance for them. In many cases the amounts they are adjudged
to pay are absolutely greater than  their whole income. They are
forced to live upon bread made of bran and sawdust, to eat acorns
and  beechnuts; they are gaunt with hunger; they see their children
dying before their eyes. They know not how  their sufferings arise,
they only know that they suffer, and in their despair they turn
like hungry wolves  against all who are better off than themselves."

"And your people, are they suffering as much as these, monsieur?"

"Not quite so much, perhaps, but they are suffering. I have spent
but a fortnight on my estates, of which I  have only been master
for a year."

"And could you do nothing for them, monsieur?" the girl asked.

"I did what I could, mademoiselle. I remitted half their rents,
which was in fact but a small thing, seeing  that I knew positively
they could not have paid them. Still it was no doubt some alleviation
to know that the  arrears were not being piled up against them. As
to the other half, I told my intendant not to press any  whom he
thought could not pay, and that if he drew enough to pay his own
salary and the wages of the  retainers I should be content -- for
my pay as colonel is ample for my own wants."

"You are very young to be a colonel, Monsieur Campbell," the baroness
said.

"Very young; but I have had singularly good fortune, and have been
happy enough to please both Marshal  Turenne and the Duc d'Enghien."

"And you have served under them both?" she said in surprise.

"I have had that good fortune. I was with Turenne for nearly four
years in Italy, and fought under Enghien  at Rocroi, and I may say
under both of them at Freiburg."

"What is the name of your regiment, monsieur?"

"The Poitou regiment."

"Indeed!" she exclaimed. "Of course, we have heard all the particulars
of the battle; and it was said that  General Merci would have beaten
Monsieur Turenne back had it not been for the Poitou regiment,
commanded by a Scottish colonel, and said to be the finest under
the command of the French generals.  They say it stood for three
hours against the attacks of the whole Bavarian army."

"We were in a strong position," Hector said quietly, "at the mouth
of a defile, so that no more than our own  numbers could attack us
at once. However, l am proud of the conduct of my men; none could
have fought  more steadily than they did."

"My husband was killed in the battle against Enghien's army on the
hill. I am glad that it was not by your  regiment, monsieur."

"I am glad too, madam."

"These wars are terrible, and we of Lorraine -- lying between
France and Germany -- suffer whichever  wins.  Fortunately we lie
at a distance from the roads that the armies follow, and therefore
have escaped the  devastation caused all along the line of march.
Nevertheless we have the sadness of knowing that in the  field
neighbours must fight against neighbours, and kinsmen against
kinsmen, for since the duke fled many  of our nobles, seeing that
the country has now become part of France, have joined her, while
others, like  my husband, followed the duke into Germany. However,
as an Irishwoman it matters little to me now  which is the victor."

"Do you think of returning home, madam?"

"As to that, I have not yet made up my mind. The land there is as
distracted as is France by civil war. It is  sixteen years since
I left Ireland with my husband, a few months after our marriage. I
was an orphan, and  have no near relations to whom I can go, therefore
it matters little to me whether I live in France or Ireland,  so
that I can see some way of earning my own living and that of my
daughter. With economy, the sale of  the silver would suffice to
keep us for three or four years, and long before that I hope that
I shall be able in  some way to earn my living."

Hector sat silent for two or three minutes. "It seems to me,
madam," he said at last, "that it would be better  that you should
not spend the proceeds of your silver before looking for a post.
I can offer you one at once,  if you will accept it."

"You, monsieur!" she exclaimed in surprise.

"Yes, madam. It is bad for the vassals and tenants of a noble -- even
though a newly made one, and on an  estate of moderate dimensions
-- when their lord is absent, and there is none to look after them
save an  intendant, whose duty it is to collect as much rent as he
is able. Such is the position of my tenants. I am a  soldier, and
must perforce be absent.  What I need greatly is someone who will
fill my place in this respect.  I have an old friend who is captain
of the garrison, and sees to all things in the household; I have
an  intendant, I believe a worthy young man, who collects my rents
and looks to the feeding and needs of the  servants and garrison;
but I need someone who would interest herself actively in the
condition of my  tenants, who would be a friend to them in sickness,
would give aid from my purse to those who really need  it, would
send food to the starving, and aid my intendant by advising him as
to who are worthy of relief and  who are suffering from their own
idleness or thriftlessness -- who will, in short, act as I would
have my  wife act had I one.

"Now, madame la baronne if you will honour me by making my home
yours so long as I am away at the  wars, which may last, for aught
I know, for years yet, you will be conferring a great favour upon
me. You  will have your own suite of apartments, where your meals
will be served to you.  You will have horses to  ride. You will
relieve my intendant of the necessity of seeing that the servants
perform their duties, and  give him more time to devote himself
to the business of the estate, and will in fact act as chatelaine,
save  only in matters connected with the garrison in the defence
of the castle."

"Your offer is kind in the extreme, Colonel Campbell, but I could
not accept it," she said. "You are only  inventing such an office
in order to give a home to me and Norah."

"I can assure you, madam, that the thought is not a new one to me
-- I have often wished that there was a  lady in the castle. One
who would see after the wives and families of the vassals; and
I should feel myself  under a real obligation to you if you would
fill the place. You see, madam, it would cost me nothing, for  food
and drink there is in abundance.  I have two splendid horses, given
me by the Duc d'Enghien, standing  idle in their stalls. I shall
be happy in knowing that my tenants would be well looked after, and
shall be glad  indeed that you and your daughter, my countrywomen,
should, for the present at any rate, have a home."

The tears were streaming down the lady's face.

"Accept, mother," the girl said, putting her hand on her shoulder.
"Surely God sent this gentleman to our  rescue when we were very
near death. Why should we not accept this fresh kindness at his
hands?"

Her mother looked up. "My daughter has chosen for me, Colonel
Campbell. I accept your offer with the  deepest thankfulness. Were
I to refuse now, the time might come when I should be reduced to
such straits  that for my daughter's sake I should bitterly regret
that I had refused your generous offer; therefore I accept  it,
and thank you from the bottom of my heart."

"I do not wish you to see it in that light," he said with a smile.
"At best it is but an arrangement for our  mutual advantage, and
I, on my part, thank you and mademoiselle most heartily for falling
in with my  wishes."



CHAPTER XV:  THE BATTLE OF MARIENTHAL


The decision had scarcely been made when one of the lieutenants ran
in. "Captain Mieville requests me to  state that sounds have been
heard in the forest, and that he believes there is a large body of
men  approaching."

"Then, ladies, I must beg you to mount the stairs to the turret at
once. I will place six men on guard there.  The main body I must
keep in front of the chateau, as that affords a protection to our
rear. Do not be  alarmed. I do not think the place is likely to
be attacked; but should it be, the six men could hold it for any
time. As soon as I have beaten the main body I will at once attack
those who may be assailing the turret,  though I hardly think that
they will do so, for they know that there is nothing to be obtained
that would in  any way repay them for the loss that they would
suffer. They are marching here for the purpose of attacking  us."

He called to the two sentries.

"See the ladies up the stairs to the turret, and take up your post
on the lower stairs. Four more men shall  join you at once."

He found that Mieville had already got all the men under arms, and
had ranged them between the bivouac  fires and the still glowing
chateau.

"Move your men along farther, Mieville. Let your left flank rest
on the angle of the old castle, then we shall  not be made anxious
by another attack on the turret. Let the right flank rest upon
the chateau where the old  castle joins it. We shall then be in
darkness, while the assailants, if they come from that side, will
have to  cross the ground lit up by the glow from the ruins. Let
the centre of the line be some ten yards in front of  the building;
let the line be two deep."

As soon as this disposition was made he called down the six men,
as they were no longer required to defend  the staircase.

"Now, men," he said when all were formed up, "I need not admonish
soldiers who were so firm under the  attack of the whole of the
Bavarian army of the necessity for steadiness.  I have no doubt
that if we are  attacked it will be in considerable force; but it
will be by half armed peasants, and there probably will not  be a
gun among them. But even peasants, when worked up into a state of
excitement are not to be despised.  My orders are: The front rank
shall continue firing until they are close at hand, and shall then
fix bayonets.   Until this is done the second line are not to fire
a shot; but as soon as the front rank are ready to repel the  enemy
with fixed bayonets, you will begin. Don't throw a shot away, but
continue loading and firing, as  quickly as you can; and unless very
closely pressed, let no man empty his musket until his comrade on
the  right has reloaded, so that there will always be some shots
in reserve. Should they rush on in spite of the  fire, I shall give
the order, 'Empty your muskets and fix bayonets,' and we will then
charge them. Hunter,  you and your three comrades and Paolo will
keep close to me, and if we find the men wavering at any point  we
will go to their assistance. If, however, we charge, remember that
you six men I told off to guard the  turret are at once to pass
through the gates and take up your post on the steps, for some of
them may slip in  behind us and endeavour to rush up."

The horses, that had been turned loose when Hector and the troopers
mounted the steps, had been seized by  the peasants, and tied up to
some trees close by when the latter began to feast. They had been
recovered  when the insurgents were scattered by Mieville's company
and had then been placed in the courtyard of the  castle. As soon
as the alarm was given, Hector, the four troopers, and Paolo had
mounted.  The three  officers were also on horseback.

"In case the company charges, Mieville," he said, "we nine mounted
men can cover the rear and charge any  of the insurgents who try to
rush in and take them in the rear. I hope that we shall keep them
off with our  musketry fire; but I don't disguise from myself that
if they fall upon us at close quarters we shall have to  fight
hard. Ah, here they come!"

Suddenly in the darkness from the other side of the chateau
a great crowd of men poured out, shouting and  yelling furiously,
and brandishing their rough weapons, which shone blood red in the
glow of the fire in the  ruins.  Someone had evidently been placed
on the watch, and had told them where the troops had taken up  their
post, for they came on without hesitation, bearing outwards until
they faced the centre of the line, at a  distance of fifty yards;
then one of the men, who appeared to be the leader, shouted
an order, and they  rushed impetuously forward. The front line at
once opened fire. Many of the peasants dropped, while the  others
hesitated a little, and so gave the men who had first fired time to
reload; but, urged on by the shouts  of their leaders, the peasants
again rushed forward.

"Fire a volley, and then fix bayonets!" Hector shouted.  The fifty
muskets flashed out, and as the peasants  were but fifteen yards
away every shot told, and their front rank was completely swept
away.

"Every other man in the second line fire!" Hector ordered, and
twenty-five shots added to the confusion  among the peasants. The
slaughter, however, only had the effect of maddening the great
crowd, who  numbered upwards of two thousand, and with a howl of
fury they rushed forward again.  Hector waited  until they almost
touched the row of bayonets, and then gave the order for the
remaining men to fire and all  to fix bayonets. The instant this
was done he shouted "Charge!" for he saw that while standing quiet
his  men were no match for the peasants, whose long poles with
the scythes at the end gave them great  advantage over the shorter
weapons of the soldiers. With a cheer the latter threw themselves
upon their  opponents, their close formation and more handy
weapons depriving their enemies of this advantage.  Thrusting and
overthrowing all in front of them, the line burst its way through
the mob, the little party of  cavalry charging furiously whenever
the peasants endeavoured to fall upon their rear, and the latter,
boldly  as they fought against the infantry, shrank back before
the flashing swords and the weight of horses and  riders.

As soon as they had passed through the crowd Hector gave the order
for his troops to face about, and they  again burst their way
through the mob that had closed in behind them. Four times was the
manoeuvre  repeated, the resistance growing fainter each time, as
the peasants found themselves unable to withstand the  charge of
the disciplined troops.  When for the fifth time they reached the
gate of the castle the crowd no  longer pressed upon their rear,
but stood hesitatingly some fifty yards away. Hector took advantage
of the  pause, and ordered his men, who were panting from their
exertions, to load again. He formed them in single  line now.

"Don't fire a shot until I give the word," he said; "then pour in
your volley, fix bayonets instantly, and  charge."

Standing in the shade as they did, the movement of loading
was unobserved by the peasants, who, as they  saw the line again
advancing, prepared to meet them, but gave a yell of surprise when
a terrible volley was  poured into them at a distance of twenty
yards. Then, before they had recovered from their surprise, the
long line was upon them with levelled bayonets. Only a few stood
their ground. These were instantly  overthrown. The rest, throwing
away their weapons, fled in all directions.

"Thank God that is over!" Hector said, as he told the troops to halt
and reload. "If they had all been as  courageous as their leader
they would have annihilated us, but each time we charged I observed
that a  considerable number fell away on either flank, so that it
was not a solid mass through which we had to  make our way. What
is our loss, Mieville?"

"I rode along the line and counted the numbers. There are but
seventy-five on foot," he said, "and most of  these have got more
or less severe wounds with their ugly weapons."

"Let the ground over which we have passed be carefully searched,"
he said, "and any of our men who show  signs of life be carried in
front of the chateau."

Twelve men were found to be living; their wounds were at once
attended to and bandaged.

"I think most of them will do," Captain Mieville said.  "They are
ugly looking gashes, but it is not like a  bullet in the body."

The men who had been killed were found in most cases to have been
slain outright from the blows of  hatchets, which had in several
cases completely severed their heads. While the wounds of the
soldiers were  being attended to, Hector went to the gate at which
the baroness and her daughter were now standing.

"You are unhurt, I hope," the lady said as Hector approached.

"I have two or three more wounds," he said, "but, like those I had
before, they are of little account."

"It was a terrible fight," she said. "We watched it from the top
of the turret, and it seemed to us that you  were lost each time
you plunged into the crowd, you were so few among such numbers.
Have you lost any  men?"

"We have only had thirteen killed outright," he said.  "Twelve more
are very seriously wounded, but I think  most of them will recover.
As to the rest of the company, I fancy that most of them will require
some  bandaging. And now I shall recommend you and your daughter
to return to your shelter. I have no fear  whatever of their coming
back again."

"That we cannot do," she said firmly. "It is our duty to do what
we can to aid those who have fought so  bravely."

"The men are now attending to each other's wounds," Hector said.
"Every man in my regiment carries, by  my orders, a couple of
bandages. We found them most useful at Freiburg, and many a life
was saved that  would have been lost but for their use; but if
you insist upon doing anything, I would ask you to carry wine  and
water round. The troopers will draw the water for you from the well
in the courtyard here."

"That we will do willingly," she said.

For the next two hours the ladies were busy at work, moving among
the men and supplying them with  refreshments. Not until all their
wants were amply supplied did they retire.

In the morning Hector said:  "Now, Madame de Blenfoix, I have been
thinking the matter over, and  consider that it would be a wholly
unnecessary journey and a loss of four days were you to travel to
Nancy  with us. You are only ten days' journey from Poitou, and
I should advise you to start at once. My man,  Paolo, and two of
the troopers will accompany you as an escort.  Your road will lead
through Orleans,  which will be almost halfway, and you will also
pass through Tours. At both these towns you can, if you  will, stay
for a day to rest. I will ride down with you into Blenfoix, where
I shall be able to get paper and  pens, and will write letters to
Captain MacIntosh and to my intendant explaining exactly the position
that  you will occupy. One of the troopers will ride forward with
these from your last halting place before you  arrive there, in order
that you may find everything prepared and be received properly on
your arrival. Do  you both ride, or would you rather have a pillion's
place behind the troopers?"

"We both ride," she said; "but I should prefer, on a journey like
this, that my daughter should ride behind  me on a pillion. You are
altogether too good, Colonel Campbell.  You are heaping kindnesses
upon us."

"Not at all, madam. And now you will doubtless be glad to hear
that in searching round the place this  morning, we have discovered
that two of your horses that had doubtless been turned loose by the
peasants  have found their way back.  No difficulty will therefore
arise on that score. The saddles are hanging from  the beams in
the stable, so that everything is in readiness for your departure."

A quarter of an hour later the whole party left the ruined chateau,
the troops taking their way to the point at  which they had left
the road, while Hector with his four troopers and Paolo rode down
into Blenfoix with  the ladies. Here the baroness purchased a few
necessaries for the journey while Hector was writing his  letters.
Hunter and Macpherson were to form their escort, and were by turns
to lead the spare horse, which  on alternate days was to carry
the double burden. Paolo carried the purse, which contained a sum
ample for  the expenses of the journey. When all was ready the
adieus were said, and the baroness repeated the  heartfelt thanks
of her daughter and herself for the kindness shown them. Paolo
took his place beside the  ladies, the two troopers fell in behind,
and they started west, while Hector with the other two troopers
galloped off to overtake his company.

At Joinville they found that de Thiou's company had just marched
in, but it was not until the next day that  the other two returned.
All had met with scattered bodies of peasants, but these had
dispersed as soon as the  troops were seen, and there had been no
actual fighting except with the parties Hector had met. The bodies
of the soldiers that had fallen were buried near the chateau. Those
of the peasants were left where they lay,  and would doubtless be
carried off by their friends as soon as the latter knew that the
troops had left. The  lesson had been a severe one indeed, upwards
of two hundred and eighty being killed in the two  encounters.  The
insurgents were completely disheartened by their loss, and during
the rest of the winter the  aid of the troops was not again called
for.

As soon as spring set in, the Poitou regiment marched to join the
marshal. The Bavarian army had been  weakened by the withdrawal of
four thousand men to aid the Imperialists, who had been defeated
by the  Swedes in Bohemia. Turenne, on hearing the news, at once
prepared to take advantage of it, crossed the  Rhine on a bridge
of boats at Spires, and passed the Neckar, General Merci retiring
before him. Stuttgart  opened its gates, and Turenne established
himself at Marienthal on the river Tauber. Merci, as he fell back,
had caused a rumour to be spread that he was making for the Danube.

There was a great scarcity of forage in the country round Marienthal,
and the officers of the cavalry  strongly urged upon Turenne that
they should divide and take up stations at various points where
they could  obtain food for their animals, which were much exhausted
by their long and heavy marches. Turenne for  some time resisted
their entreaties, but at last, seeing that the cavalry would
speedily be ruined unless they  could obtain food, permitted this
course to be taken. Before allowing them to leave, however, he
sent  parties of horse forward in various directions to discover
what the enemy were doing. These returned with  the news that the
Bavarian army had broken up, and was fortifying itself in the towns
among which it had  been divided. Turenne, however, was still
apprehensive. He kept his cannon and the greater part of the
infantry with him, and also General Rosen with a portion of his
horse, and refused to let the rest of the  cavalry go farther than
three leagues from the army.  He himself rode out with a regiment of
cavalry some  ten miles beyond Marienthal, along the road by which
the Imperialists would advance were they to  assemble to attack
him.

At two o'clock the next morning a party he had sent to watch the
Bavarians brought in the news that Merci  was advancing with all
his force. Rosen was ordered to hurry forward to the spot where
the advanced  division was lying.  Messengers were sent off in all
directions to recall the scattered cavalry, and having  seen that
everything had been done to place affairs in a better position,
Turenne rode off with what troops  he could gather to aid Rosen.
The latter had made a serious blunder. In front of the position
held by the  advanced division was a large wood, through which
the Bavarians must pass. Instead of taking possession  of this and
holding it until reinforcements came up, he fell back, drew up his
troops on the plain, and  allowed the Bavarians to occupy the wood
without resistance. With the troops which arrived with him, the
marshal had now under him some three thousand infantry and seven
regiments of horse. He placed his  infantry on his right with two
squadrons to support them; with the rest of his cavalry, he formed
his left  wing.

He himself took the command here. Rosen commanded on the right.
Merci, after passing through the wood,  drew up his army in order
of battle and opened fire on the French.  The artillery, however,
in no way shook  their firmness, and seeing more troops in the
distance advancing to reinforce them, Merci began the battle  by
an attack on a little wood on which the French right rested; while
at the same time Turenne charged the  Bavarian right wing with his
cavalry, broke it up, and captured the cannon and twelve standards.
But while  on this side the victory was almost won, on the other
side disaster had befallen the French. Their infantry,  perceiving
that the Bavarians, who were advancing to attack them, were much
superior in force, were  seized with a panic and scattered in all
directions. The left wing of the Bavarians advanced rapidly, and,
throwing themselves behind Turenne's wing, prepared to fall upon
him in the rear.

Turenne ordered his cavalry to retire, and passing through the wood
found beyond it three regiments that  had just arrived. These with
the fifteen hundred horse that had been with him in the battle placed
him in a  position to make a vigorous defence, but the Bavarians
did not venture to attack him. He now sent an  officer to rally
the scattered infantry, and gave orders that they should at once
retreat without a stop to  Philippsburg, a distance of seventy miles.
He himself with his cavalry started for Hesse, whose landgravine
was in alliance with France. With two regiments he covered the
retreat, and so enabled the rest of the  cavalry as they came up
from their distant quarters to cross the Tauber. This was a bold
and successful  movement, for had he fallen back with his infantry
to Philippsburg the enemy would have possessed  themselves of
all the towns he had captured, whereas they could not now advance
without exposing their  line of communication to his attack.

The Poitou regiment had, when Turenne advanced to Marienthal, been
left at a town some four leagues  away.  A messenger reached Hector
from Turenne with a note scribbled in pencil: --

We have been beaten. The infantry behaved shamefully, and are
hastening, a crowd of stragglers, towards  Philippsburg. I shall
retire along the Tauber with the cavalry and make for Hesse, do
you march with all  speed for that river.  If as you approach the
river you hear that we have already passed, do you direct your
march to Hesse. I leave the choice of route to you, and you must
be guided by circumstances. At any rate  you are unlikely to be
attacked except by cavalry, and these, if not in too great numbers,
you may be trusted  to beat off.

Ten minutes after the receipt of this order the regiment was on the
march. They arrived on the Tauber just  in time, for a quarter of
an hour after they had piled arms, after a tremendous march, the
cavalry came  along. They were in scattered parties, for the roads
were terribly bad, and they were obliged to break up and  make
their way as best they could by mere tracks across the rocky and
hilly country.  Turenne himself,  when he arrived, had but twenty
horsemen with him.

"I hardly expected you to be up in time, Campbell," he said, as he
dismounted. "Your men must have  marched well indeed. As you see,
though unbeaten, for we on our side defeated the enemy's horse,
we are  as much dispersed as if we had suffered a disaster. I am
trying to cover the retreat with two regiments of  cavalry that
were not engaged in the battle. Half an hour since we charged and
drove back in confusion a  party of Bavarian horse, but they formed
up again. The main body is ahead, but is as scattered as we are,
for besides the difficulty of keeping together on these horrible
roads, it is necessary that we should occupy  every track by which
the enemy's horse could move, or they might get in front of us and
play havoc with  us.

"You will have to march all night, and I should advise you to break
up your command into half companies,  with orders to each to attach
themselves as far as possible to such parties of my two regiments
of cavalry as  they may come across. We shall not proceed at any
great pace, as we must give time for the troops ahead of  us to
get clear. The horses are utterly worn out, being half starved and
fatigued with their march. So far we  know not whether the whole
of the Bavarian cavalry is behind us, but it is probable that one
of their two  divisions is pursuing the infantry. I wish you had
been there with them. In the first place your example  would have
prevented their breaking, and in the second you could have covered
their retreat. As it is, I fear  that but few of the three thousand
who were with me will reach Philippsburg. I shall be glad if you
yourself  will remain near me. If your regiment were going to keep
together I would not take you from them, but  being broken up
into fragments, you could exercise no supervision over them in the
darkness."

Hector at once called the officers together, and gave them the
necessary orders. "You understand," he said,  "that your main object
is not so much to save yourselves, though that is most important,
but to enable the  cavalry to beat back the Bavarian horse."

It was a terrible march; both horse and foot made their way along
with difficulty through the darkness. Men  and horses were alike
fatigued, and the cavalry for the most part dismounted and led
their animals along.  There were several sharp fights with bodies
of the enemy, who, ignorant of the line by which the French  were
retreating, feared to press the rearguard too close, lest they
should find them in very superior numbers.  Once, when they passed
a lane running down to the river, Turenne -- who had taken every
opportunity of  making his way across the line of retreat and
seeing how all was going on -- said to Hector, "Will you ride  up
here, Campbell, and cheer up any parties you may come across.  Tell
them that all is going on well, and  that by morning we shall find
that the enemy have given up the pursuit, and shall be able to halt
and take a  few hours' rest, and give battle should the enemy come
up in force. Their horses must be as fatigued as  ours, for they
must have been marching for eight or ten hours since the morning."

Hector had only Paolo now with him, having appointed the four
troopers to go with different parties of the  infantry, and to act
as orderlies to their captains. He rode rapidly up the lane, and
presently heard the  cavalry passing across it.

"There is one party, Paolo," he said, urging his horse into a gallop.
In two or three minutes he came up with  the column of horse.

"Where is your officer?" he asked, drawing rein as he reached them.

"Seize him!" a voice cried in German, and before he and Paolo could
turn their horses half a dozen troopers  were upon them.

"I surrender," he cried in German, seeing that resistance was
impossible.

"Who are you, monsieur?" an officer demanded.

"I am colonel of the Poitou regiment of infantry," he said. "This
man is my lackey."

"Where are your cavalry, sir?"

"That I cannot tell you exactly, seeing that no one knows.  I
thought that you formed part of our rearguard."

"How comes it that you, an infantry officer, were there?  We heard
that there were no infantry with them."

"We joined them just before nightfall, and were at once divided up
among the various regiments of horse."

"I must inform our colonel of that. Come along with me," and they
pushed past the troopers until they  arrived at the head of the
column, when the officer reported to the colonel.

"Donner Blitzen!" the latter exclaimed, "it is well that we learned
this news, for we should have fared very  ill if we had come upon
horse and foot together. The Poitou regiment! That is the one that
we heard beat  back our charges so often at Freiburg, and they say
the best regiment in the French service. It is no use our  going
farther; we might well fall into an ambush, and in these lanes they
could shoot us down helplessly.  We will move on quietly until we
get to a place where there is space enough for us to dismount and
bivouac. We could not have gone many more miles, for if we did we
should be a regiment without horses  tomorrow morning."

They proceeded very slowly and cautiously until, when they came
upon an open tract of ground, the  colonel ordered them to dismount
and sound the trumpets. His regiment, like those of Turenne, had
been  broken up, and he had but half a squadron with him. In an
hour the whole regiment was assembled; a few  fires were lighted,
but most of the men threw themselves down by their horses and at
once went off to  sleep. The colonel and his officers sat down at
one of the fires, where Hector was requested to join them.

"I suppose that your regiment took no part in the battle?"

"No, sir; we were some way from Marienthal, and I received orders
only after the day was lost, to join  Marshal Turenne and his
cavalry on the Tauber. We arrived on the river just at sunset,
having marched ten  leagues in eight hours. I regret bitterly that
my regiment was not on the field, for assuredly they would not
have given way. Had they stood, the rest of the infantry would have
stood."

"And in that case you would now be the pursuers," the colonel broke
in, "for Turenne completely shattered  our right wing. Well, sir,
it is the fortune of war, and we at least have the honour of having
given your  marshal a defeat. He is a grand general, but we caught
him napping today."

"It was not his fault, sir.  General Rosen and his officers insisted
so strongly that unless they were allowed  to move off in search
of forage, the whole army would be disabled by the loss of their
horses by hunger,  that he was almost forced to comply with their
request."

"But, even so, he made a mistake," the colonel said. "If instead
of marching to meet us in front of  Marienthal he had fallen back
directly he had the news of our coming, he could have been joined
by all his  detached troops before we came up with him."

"He said as much to me tonight," Hector replied; "but even the
greatest generals are liable to make a  mistake sometimes. And,
indeed, had General Rosen with the advanced division held the wood
in front of  them, instead of retiring on to the plain, they should
have been able to keep you at bay until all our troops  came up."

''Undoubtedly that was a terrible blunder on his part," the colonel
said, "and he rather than Turenne is to  blame.  And now, sir, may
I ask how is it that you, who cannot be more than twenty, come to
be a colonel,  and in command of a regiment?"

"I have been five years an officer, and was fortunate on two occasions
to obtain the approval, once of  Monsieur de Turenne, and once of
the Duc d'Enghien."

"I congratulate you, sir. It is seldom indeed that so young an
officer has opportunities of distinguishing  himself.  I myself
had seen well nigh thirty years service before I came to command
a regiment. And now,  sir, will you give me your parole not to
attempt to escape?"

"Certainly, sir," Hector replied promptly. He knew that should he
refuse four or five troopers would be set  to watch him, and even
if he evaded these, which was well nigh impossible, he might be
recaptured on the  following morning, as detachments of the Bavarian
horse would be sure to be pressing hard upon Turenne's  troops.
The pursuit was indeed taken up again during the night, but Turenne
succeeded in keeping his  pursuers at bay, and reaching the frontiers
of Hesse. There he found the infantry and cavalry who had not  been
engaged already assembled, for they had received orders to march
instantly to that spot. He had now  with him some four thousand
horse and two thousand foot, and was joined by six thousand troops
from  Hesse and four thousand Swedes. He was thus soon in a position
to advance with a much stronger force  than that which he commanded
before the battle of Marienthal.

The Bavarian cavalry that had followed him rejoined General Merci
at Kirchheim. Hector was with Paolo  taken to that place, and upon
his refusal to continue his parole, was confined in a prison there,
Paolo being  allowed at his request to remain with him. He had had
an interview with General Merci, who had treated  him with much
courtesy; for there were Scotch and Irish officers serving in the
Imperial army as well as in  that of France, and they were held in
high esteem for their courage and daring.

The battle of Marienthal was fought on the 2nd of May, and it
was late in July before any fresh movements  took place.  Turenne
would willingly have advanced with his army, but his movements were
arrested by a  peremptory order from Paris, sent on receipt of the
news of the defeat, that he was not to take the offensive  until
joined by Enghien, who had with him a force of eight thousand men. He
therefore marched to join the  reinforcements, and the two armies
met at Spires on the 2nd of July. As before, Enghien was in supreme
command, with de Gramont as his lieutenant general. Long conferences
took place between these generals:  Turenne, General Geis, who
commanded the Hessians, and Konigsmark, who commanded the Swedes.
The Bavarians were known to be very strongly posted, and to have
been reinforced by four thousand  Imperialists under the command
of General Geis.

There was much difference of opinion between them as to the best
course to be pursued, but Enghien, who  was always in favour of
great battles, finally determined so to place the army that the
enemy would be  forced to come out and fight. He therefore marched
to Venecher, captured Wimpfen, and threw a bridge  across the river,
whereupon General Merci fell back twenty leagues into Franconia. As
soon as they had  passed the river an occurrence took place that
threatened to overthrow all the plans of the campaign.  Some  hasty
words spoken by Enghien so angered the Generals Geis and Konigsmark
that they determined to  retire at once with the Swedes and Hessians.
Turenne was requested by Enghien to endeavour to arrange  matters,
and by his kind and gentle manner succeeded in conciliating Geis,
who consented to remain with  the Hessians.  Konigsmark, however,
as hot tempered as Enghien himself, refused to do so, and with his
whole force retired to Bremen, in Lower Saxony.

The French and Hessians marched towards the Tauber, captured
Rothenburg and other towns, and thereby  obtained a large quantity
of provisions and stores; and hearing that the Bavarians were
advancing to  Nordlingen, marched in all haste to give them battle
there.



CHAPTER XVI:  AN ESCAPE


After being confined for a week in the prison at Kirchheim Hector
was sent with a number of other  prisoners to Ingolstadt. Here he
was confined in the castle, a separate room being allotted to him
in  recognition of his rank, and Paolo was, at his request, allowed
to remain with him.

"I cannot but think, master, that we should have done better if
you had given your parole not to try to  escape. In that case we
might have had comfortable quarters in the town instead of this
somewhat bare  chamber. If there had been a chance of escape it
would have been different, but seeing the strength of the  castle,
methinks there is no prospect whatever of our being able to get
out."

"That remains to be seen, Paolo. I fancy there is always a chance
of escape if one does but hit upon the  right way. At present we
know nothing of the castle or the vigilance of the guard, and no
doubt it will take  us some little time to find these matters out.
The first thing we require is patience.  No doubt they will  allow
me out to take exercise, and like enough, if I give my word that
you will return every day at a certain  hour, they will allow you
to go in to the town, seeing that you can scarcely be called a
prisoner, having no  military rank or position, but being in their
eyes only a lackey. If they will do that it will be a great step
gained, for you will be able to bring in anything that we may
require. However, I will not ask that you  should be permitted to
go in and out for some little time.

"Lose no opportunity of making yourself friendly with some of the
soldiers, and if the chance should occur,  be useful to any of the
officers. The commandant is evidently disposed to be civil, and says
that he will  grant me any indulgence in his power short of passing
the gates of the castle. I have no doubt that when the  campaign
is over and the army has gone into winter quarters Turenne will
offer to exchange some prisoners  of the same rank for me. But I
have no wish to be cooped up here when perhaps a great battle may
be  fought.  As far as I can see, the difficulty will not be so
much in getting out of the castle, but out of the  town itself, for
this is one of the most strongly fortified places in the empire.
One reason why I want you to  go into the town is that you may be
able to obtain shelter there for us should we find, as I expect
we shall,  that it is impossible for us to escape from the citadel
and town at the same attempt."

The place was indeed so strong that but a careless watch was kept
over the prisoners in the castle. The  soldiers were confined to
their quarters save that they were allowed for an hour a day to
take exercise in the  courtyard, a company of troops being kept
under arms while they were out; but the officers were free at all
times to wander about. Hector was soon on friendly terms with many
of the officers of the garrison, as in  his case there was none of
the hostile feeling with which the French officers were regarded.
His youth, and  the singularity of his having so soon attained
the rank of colonel, also predisposed them in his favour. It  was
evident that this young soldier of fortune, unsupported by powerful
family interest, must have  distinguished himself in an altogether
exceptional manner to have obtained the command of one of the best
regiments of France.

Paolo was as popular among the sergeants and men as his master was
with the officers. As an Italian, and  as Hector's lackey, he was
not regarded as a prisoner of war; and by his unfailing good humour,
his  readiness to enter into any fun that might be going on, or to
lend a hand in cleaning accoutrements or  completing a job that a
soldier had left unfinished when his turn came for duty, he became
quite a popular  character. The colonel who commanded frequently
walked with Hector in the courtyard, sent him dishes  from his own
table, and more than once invited him to dine with him. As he was
very curious to learn how  his young prisoner had so early attained
his rank, Hector one evening gave him a sketch of his career, from
the time when Turenne gave him his commission to that at which he
was taken prisoner, omitting only the  incident of the attempt to
assassinate Mazarin.

"You have certainly been fortunate," he said, "but it is equally
certain that you have deserved it. The fact  that, in addition to
your military duties, you have learned Italian and German, besides
transforming a newly  raised regiment into one of the best in the
French service, shows how assiduous you have been in your  work.
I trust that when the campaign is over you may be exchanged, and
I think it is foolish of you not to  give me your parole, for you
must know well that you have no chance of escape from here."

"They say everything comes to those who wait, colonel," Hector
laughed, "and if I see a chance I shall  certainly avail myself of
it. Even if no such chance comes I shall still be a gainer by not
giving my parole. I  am exceedingly comfortable as it is, and can
wish for nothing better. The one drawback is that I have  nothing
to do, except perhaps to improve my German, and it would be just
the same if I were living in the  town. But if I were on my parole
I should lose the amusement of planning methods for escape, which
I do  unceasingly; but up till now, I may tell you in confidence,
I am as far from having hit upon a plan as I was  when I entered.
By the way, colonel, although it is clear that I cannot be allowed
to go outside the castle  gate, I should be glad if my lackey
could be given leave to do so. He is not a soldier, neither is he
a  Frenchman, and can scarce be counted as a prisoner of war.  He
is a willing and cheerful fellow, and would  enjoy a run in the
city much more than I should. Besides, occasionally I may want a
book or some other  little thing which I cannot get here."

"Such as a file, a rope, or a disguise, Colonel Campbell," the
commandant laughed.

"I am not thinking of that at present," Hector said smiling. "Besides,
you can give orders that he can always  be strictly searched when
he comes in."

The colonel shook his head.  "I will tell you what I will do," he
said; "I will let him have a pass to go in and  out at will, if
you will give me a promise, on your honour as a soldier, that he
shall not bring in anything  that can be used by you for facilitating
your escape. I would much rather trust to your word than to any
search the soldiers might make as your man comes in."

"Thank you, colonel," Hector said cheerfully, though at heart he
felt considerably disappointed. "I give you  my word of honour that
he shall bring in nothing that may aid me in making my escape, and
I am much  obliged to you for letting him have the run of the town."

The colonel at once wrote a pass authorizing Paolo Monti, lackey
to Colonel Campbell, to enter and leave  the castle at all times
when the gates were open.

Paolo laughed when Hector told him the conditions on which the pass
was granted.

"The commandant is a shrewd fellow, master, but he is not quite
shrewd enough; he forgot that though I  may bring in nothing myself
I may be able to arrange with someone else to bring something in."

"That flashed through my mind at once, Paolo; but at present neither
file, rope, nor disguise would be of  any use.  However, they may
be so later. The first thing for you to do when you get this pass
will be to  make yourself master of the plan of the town and the
fortifications, and see if there is any place where you  think an
escape is possible. But even when you find one, and you think that
it might be managed, you must  afterwards find a place where I can
be hidden for a time, at any rate for a few hours. You see, were
I to go  out in disguise I must do so in broad daylight, for my
supper is served almost directly after the gates are  closed; and
were I missing there would be a search for me at once, the sentries
on the wall would all be  warned, and it would be impossible to get
past them. If I could get out two or three hours before the gates
are closed at nine o'clock I might, as soon as it became dark,
attempt to get over the walls before the alarm  was given, or
I might possibly go out in the same disguise that I left here in,
through the city gate and  across the bridge."

"I see that, sir, and it seems to me that this would be easier
than trying to find a hiding place for you in the  town.  However,
I will set my wits to work. I have been able to think of nothing
in here; but one's eyes  always help one's wits, and if I were in
the town I might see something that would give me an idea how the
matter might be set about."

Day after day Paolo went into the town, always returning discouraged.

"I must be growing a downright numbskull," he said one evening in
disgust; "I have been three weeks at it  and no single idea has
come to me."

"You need not be discouraged at that, Paolo; it's not such a simple
thing to plan an escape from a fortress  like this as it was to
get into the citadel at Turin, where we also had the advantage of
starting with  disguises. I can no more think of a disguise in which
I can pass the gates than you can. I am a good deal too  tall to
pass as a woman. My face is perfectly well known to every soldier
in the castle, and even if we hit  upon a disguise it would be very
difficult to get it brought in. It struck me today that if I am to
get out it  must be in some vehicle that has come in with supplies."

"That is a great idea, master; if I had not been a thick headed
fool I should have thought of that before. But  at the same time
it will not be easy to manage."

"I quite see that, Paolo; even if the driver were bought over it
would be difficult indeed to manage to get  into the cart with so
many soldiers standing about."

Paolo shook his head.

"Yes, I don't see that that could be managed at all, master."

He stood thinking a minute.

"I have it!" he exclaimed joyfully. "You know, sir, sometimes a
train of waggons containing faggots, or  flour, or other things,
comes in late. Those that are unloaded before the gate is closed go
out at once; the  others are unloaded that evening, but the empty
carts have to remain in the castle till morning, as the great  gates
are never opened between sunset and sunrise, though officers come
in by the postern. Now, if you  could manage during the night to
slip into one of the waggons, say one that has brought in flour,
you might  be so covered over by the empty sacks they take out,
that no one would dream anyone was hidden there."

"Capital, Paolo!  It is evident that your head is not so thick as
you thought it was just now. Yes, I have  noticed that as a rule if
eight or ten waggons came in together, the full sacks are carried
in, and the same  number of empty ones are placed in one of the
carts, being counted as they are put in. Certainly I could hide
myself easily enough if you were there to assist in arranging the
sacks as regularly as before over me. As I  do not generally get
up until eight o'clock, and my first meal is not brought to me till
nine, I might be on  my way two hours before it was discovered that
I was missing. How would you manage?"

"I would get a countryman's suit, master, would go out soon after
the gates were open, find some quiet spot  where I should have
hidden the clothes the day before, and slip them on over my own.
Then I would join  the carts as they came along. They don't generally
begin to harness the horses up till the gates are open, so  that
I should get a quarter of an hour's start of them, and I should
go out with them without question, as it  would be thought that
I belonged to the party.  I should pay for some beer at the first
cabaret we come to,  and make signs that I wanted a lift in a waggon.
I must, of course, pretend to be deaf and dumb, as,  although I
have picked up a little German since we came into these parts, I
could not possibly pass as a  countryman."

"It would be better still, Paolo, for you to put a blister on
to your cheek, then before you join them put a  great lump of tow
into your mouth, so as to swell your cheek out almost to bursting
point, and then tie a  bandage round your face; you could then by
pointing to it make out that you had so terrible a swelling that
you were unable to talk."

"That would be better certainly, master, indeed, it would be a
capital plan. Of course I should get into the  waggon in which you
were, and gradually shift the sacks so that you could crawl out.
When we smuggled  you in we would try and put in with you a couple
of brace of pistols, and if we were armed with them the  carters
would not venture to interfere with us. Of course, master, I should
have to get a disguise for you.  We could never be tramping across
the country with you dressed as a French officer."

"Get something that I could put over the clothes I wear.  A long
frock, some loose breeches, and rough  cloth to wrap round the legs
below them, and of course a pair of countryman's shoes. The best
plan would  be for you to stand treat again at a cabaret a few miles
out of the town, get them all in there, then I could  slip out of
the waggon and throw the sacks back into their place. Of course
you would choose some spot  where the cabaret either stands alone
or is at the end of a village, so that there may be no one standing
by,  and I could, when I got down, walk quietly back along the
road. You can make signs to them that you live  hard by, and would
leave them there; then if there should be any suspicion that I
had escaped in the  waggons, and a troop of cavalry were sent in
pursuit, the men would be all able to declare that they had  seen
nothing of me, and so could give no clue whatever that would set
them on our track.

"Well, it is quite settled that we will try that way, but it may
be some time before the opportunity occurs.  However, you may as
well get the two disguises and the two brace of pistols, and stow
them away  somewhere where they are not likely to be found."

"There are plenty of places where one can do that, master; there is
a row of old trees inside the  fortifications, and I warrant that
if I cannot find one with a hollow large enough to stow them away
in, I can  hide them in the branches with small chance of their
ever being seen."

Another month passed. Paolo made a point of occasionally going out
soon after the gates were open, saying  casually that his master
had a fancy for a bottle of better wine with his breakfast, or that
he was going to get  some eggs to make an omelette for him. Hector
was in no particular hurry, for the news had come that  Turenne
with his own troops and those of Hesse had, with the Swedes, marched
away for the Rhine. It was  rumoured that they would be joined by
another army, for in no other way could the Imperialists account
for  Turenne having retired when he had a force at least equal to
any that Merci could set in the field against  him. Hector saw that
at any rate there was no chance of a great battle being fought just
then, and felt,  therefore, no impatience to be off. Two or three
times carts with faggots had been unloaded after the gates  were
closed, but as they took nothing out, it was impossible for him to
conceal himself in them.

At last, to his satisfaction, a number of waggons of flour came
in late one afternoon, and he determined to  carry his plan into
execution that night. The storehouses were not in the great court,
but in a smaller one off  it. Beyond two soldiers at the gate
and a sentry at the commandant's door, no guards were kept in the
courtyards, though a few sentries were placed upon the walls. Hector
had his supper as usual, and Paolo  brought in the news that eight
of the waggons had not been unloaded in time to go out. A fatigue
party of  soldiers were now completing the work, which would be
finished about nine o'clock. Taking off their boots  a little after
that hour they went quietly downstairs, then put them on again
and boldly crossed the  courtyard, for the night was so dark that
there was no fear of their figures being perceived.

As they entered the inner yard they again took off their boots
and walked up to the carts. In two of these the  carters were fast
asleep. They passed on quietly, feeling in each cart for the sacks,
and were delighted to  find that they were all placed in the one
farthest up the yard, which would therefore be the last to go out.
They were tidily piled in lines side by side at the forward end of
the waggon. They cautiously removed the  sacks of the middle lines;
Hector lay down feet foremost, and Paolo laid the sacks regularly
over him till  they reached the level of the others. Half a dozen
were doubled and packed neatly in at the end, so as to  conceal
his head and prevent its being noticed that any had been taken out.
The rest were distributed  evenly, so that the sacks were all as
level as before, and no one would have suspected that they had been
disturbed.

Paolo then returned to Hector's room. As the double sacks closing
the orifice at his head had not been  packed very tightly, enough
air entered for Hector to breathe. He increased the opening somewhat
by  pressing one of the sacks a little aside, but left it so that
he could readily pull it into its position in the  morning. As
soon as Paolo reached the room he applied a blistering plaster to
his cheek and kept it on till  he could no longer bear the pain,
then he threw himself down on his pallet. But neither he nor his
master  slept much, Hector being kept awake by the heat and discomfort
of his position, and Paolo by the smarting  of his cheek. As soon
as it was light the latter rose, and sat impatiently waiting for
the time when the gates  would open. Looking into the courtyard,
he could see the troops coming out from their quarters and moving
about, then the gates opened, and, tying a bandage over his cheek,
he went down and crossed the yard.

"You are out early," the sergeant of the guard remarked.

He nodded. "I am nigh mad with pain," he said, pointing to his
cheek, "and I am going to get some salve  from an apothecary."

"You seem to be bad indeed," the sergeant said commiseratingly,
"'tis a terrible inflammation."

Paolo went down to the spot where he had hidden the bundles in the
hollow of a tree. It was an  unfrequented place, and slipping his
disguise over his clothes, after putting the pistols in his belt,
he took  the second bundle and returned to a street through which
waggons leaving the castle must pass. A few  minutes later he saw
them coming along. He had already stuffed his cheek full of tow,
and several people,  struck with the raw and swollen appearance of
his face, had compassionately asked him what was the  matter. He
had simply shaken his head, opened his lips, and pointed to his
clenched teeth, signifying that he  could not speak. He fell in
with the waggons as they came along and passed through the gate
without  question. When a short distance away from the town he made
signs to the driver of the last waggon, that if  he would give him
a lift in the cart he would pay for some drink. The carter nodded
and told him to climb  up. After they had gone four miles from the
town, they came to a wayside inn.

"Now is the time, master, they are all going in to get some drink.
There is no one about."

The waggons all stopped there, for there had been no opportunity
for the drivers to obtain refreshments as  they passed through the
town. All therefore sauntered into the inn, their salutations to
the host showing that  they were accustomed to stop there. Paolo
followed them i n, and putting down the money for a large jug of
beer, handed it to the carter, and, shaking him by the hand, made
a motion that he was going no farther.  Then he went back to the
end waggon. Hector had already pushed out the bags in front of him
and had with  great difficulty crawled out.

"It is all right, master, we have a good ten minutes; there is no
one about, but you had better keep below the  waggon rails until
you have got your disguise on."

A couple of minutes sufficed for this, then Hector leapt to the
ground, while Paolo replaced the sacks in  their position; and then
together they hurried across some twenty yards of broken ground
and entered a  wood.

"That was a capitally managed business, Paolo. Now we have to find
our way across country. We cannot  keep by the river, for it turns
away to the south, and would take us far from the point we want
to reach. At  any rate, for a day or two we must travel at night,
after that I think we can venture boldly along -- for it is  not
likely that the news that a prisoner has escaped will travel very
far -- although no doubt a strict search  will be kept up for a day
or two. I think that for today we had better make our way north,
keeping in the  woods as much as possible; they are less likely to
search for us in that direction than to the west."

They found that the forest was fully two leagues across, and agreed
that it was unlikely in the extreme that  any attempt would be
made to search so extensive an area, where two men could anywhere
conceal  themselves. Paolo had on the previous afternoon placed a
couple of loaves and some cold meat in the  bundles, and they now
sat down by a little stream and ate a hearty meal, then, crawling
into a thick growth  of underwood, they lay down to sleep and did
not awaken until the sun was setting.

"There must be some country tracks through this forest, Paolo. We
cannot do better than keep along the  edge of the stream until we
come to one and then follow it. It is sure, sooner or later, to
take us to some  small hamlet, and I can go into a cabaret and get
a couple of flasks of wine and buy enough bread to last us  until
tomorrow, and perhaps a sausage, they are not likely to have
any other meat in a place of that sort. My  German is good enough
to pass muster, and even if it sounds strange to their ears, they
will merely suppose  that I have come from a different part of the
country, for the dialects differ greatly from each other."

As soon as it became quite dark they found it impossible to follow
the rough ground, and after one or two  falls had to stop. Hector
said, "This won't do, we shall twist an ankle or break a bone if
we go on."

"Shall we light a fire, master? I have brought flint and steel with
me, for I knew that we should want it."

"No, it is better to run no risks; there may be a road near for
aught we know, and if anyone passing saw a  fire among the trees,
he might come to see who had made it."

"Not he, master; there are too many robbers about, deserters from
their army, or men who have been ruined  by the war. You may be
sure that if any belated villager had the courage to go through
this forest by night  he would, on seeing a fire, hurry on as fast
as his legs would carry him."

"Well, no doubt you are right, Paolo; and though the night is warm
enough the air is damp under this thick  covering of leaves, and
it will certainly be more cheerful.  We will go a short distance
among the trees  before we light it."

Feeling their way -- for it was pitch dark in the forest -- they
went on until Hector stumbled over a fallen  trunk.

"This is the best place for a halt," he said, "for here is wood
ready to hand. This tree has been lying here for  years, I can feel
that it is quite rotten."

Paolo set to work -- took a handful or two of the crumbling wood,
broke it up into dust, then struck a spark  on to the tinder,
touched it with a slow match and inserted this into the little pile
of wood; a minute's  blowing and the flames sprang up. He drew
out the slow match and putting his foot upon it placed it in his
wallet, then he broke off some more wood and soon had a blazing
fire.

"We have enough food left for supper, master, and if I spit some
of this cold meat on the ramrod of one of  my pistols and hold it
over the fire it will be all the more tasty. I wish we had those
flasks of wine that you  were speaking of. It seems to me that
after sleeping for some ten hours we shall find it hard to go off
again  for some time, even though neither of us got any sleep last
night. How furious the governor will be when he  finds that you
have escaped!"

"He is a good fellow," Hector said, "and save that he will be annoyed
-- because he will be blamed for my  escape -- I do not think he
will be sorry that I have got off. I left a note for him on the table
saying that I  was about to make my escape, but that on my honour
I had not obtained anything that would aid me, by  your assistance,
and that you had never brought anything into the castle save what
you showed on entering  to the guards. I should not like him to think
for a moment that I had broken my promise and taken  advantage of
his kindness. How does your face feel?"

"It is mightily sore, but it does not smart as it did at first.
I can tell you that I was very glad when I was able  to slip that
great lump of tow out of my mouth as soon as I entered the forest."

"I don't think in future that you need use so large a wad, Paolo;
half that size will be ample; and of course  you need only slip
it into your mouth when we are going through a village, or meet
a party likely to  question us. As to your cheek, it will be days
before that fiery mark disappears."

They talked until nearly midnight, and then lay down and slept till
four, by which time day had broken, for  it was now the first week
in July. After walking for half an hour along the edge of the wood,
they came to a  track issuing out of it. This they followed, and
in about two hours saw a village in front of them.

"I will go in and buy the things that we want, Paolo, and do you
make a circuit round it. If the news has  reached them of our escape
they will have been told to look for two men; and the entry of a
single  countryman will excite no suspicion, for of course no one
will know what disguise we have chosen.

"Do not be anxious if I do not come along for half an hour. It will
be more natural that I should call for  bread and cheese and beer
and eat them there; then I can say carelessly that I may as well
take some with  me to eat later on."

"You are early!" the owner of the cabaret said as Hector entered.

"I ought to have been earlier," he replied in a grumbling voice;
"but it was so late before I reached the other  side of the forest,
that instead of passing through it I thought it best to wait till
daybreak, for it would be  desperately dark under the trees, and
sometimes there are pretty rough fellows to be met with there; so
I  slept in a shed until an hour before daybreak and then started,
and I lost no time in getting through it, I can  tell you. What
can you give me now?"

"The usual thing," the man said, shrugging his shoulders. "Bread
and beer and black sausage."

"It might be worse," Hector said as he seated himself.  The food
was soon placed before him. He ate a  hearty meal.

"I have a long way to go," he said when he had finished, "and as
I am blessed with a good appetite it will  not be long before I am
hungry again. I suppose there is no one in the village that sells
bread and sausage,  so if you will let me I will buy a whole one
from you and a couple of loaves."

"I will sell them to you willingly enough; but you will come to
another village three miles on."

"I sha'n't be hungry enough by that time," Hector laughed. "Besides,
I like to choose my own place and  time and sit down by the wayside
and eat my meal. One need never go very far without coming upon
a  stream; and though I like beer better than water, I can put up
with it when there is nothing stronger to be  had."

"Nothing but bread and sausage again, Paolo," Hector said as he
joined his comrade a quarter of a mile  beyond the village.

"And good enough too for a hungry man. I have often longed for such
a meal in the days before you took  me, in spite of all warning."

"And we have often done no better since, Paolo, when we have been
on the march. Will you start on it now,  or wait until we get to
a stream?"

"I will hold on for a bit, master. This black bread is so hard that
it needs a lot of washing down."

Making several detours to avoid villages, they walked all day, and
towards evening came upon a main road  running west.

"Unless I am mistaken in the line that I have taken, this must be
the road through Eichstadt. I can see some  towers ahead, and I
have no doubt that they are those of the town.  There is a bridge
there across the  Altmuhl. The river makes a loop at this point, and
the road cuts across it to the northwest to Gunzenhausen,  where
there is another bridge.  From there the road runs to Hall. Thence
we can cross the Neckar, either at  Heilbronn or Neckarsulm, and we
are then in our own country, and but a short distance from either
Spires  or Philippsburg, where we shall be likely enough to meet
Turenne advancing again, or shall at any rate  learn where he is.
We will lie up now and not cross the bridge until it gets dusk."

"I wish we had swords, master."

"Yes, but they would not suit our disguises. But when we get
into the town I will buy two woodmen's axes  and a couple of the
long knives that all the peasants here carry. I fancy from what I
heard when we were at  Hall with Turenne that the country between
Eichstadt and there is for the most part a great forest, and there
are rough hills to pass before we get to Hall. It will be just as
well to have some weapons that we can use  with effect if we should
come upon any bands of robbers."

"Quite so, master. A good axe is as good as a sword in a rough sort
of fight; but is there not some way we  can travel so as to avoid
this great forest that you speak of?"

"Not without making a great detour, and that through a country
where there will be bodies of Merci's troops  quartered everywhere."

"Very well, master. Then I think that the risk will be less with the
robbers, especially as we have not  apparently much worth stealing
upon us."

"Not only apparently, but really, Paolo. Fortunately my purse was
pretty well filled when we were taken  prisoners; but we spent a
good deal at Ingoldstadt, principally in buying articles we could
have done  without, but which we got in order to give an excuse
for your going into the town, and in these disguises  and pistols.
However, we shall not, I hope, require much more outlay; and after
getting axes and knives we  shall have enough to pay for our food,
such as it is, for some time. However, there is certainly nothing
in  our pockets to tempt robbers."

"No, master; but if they searched you they would notice your
clothes. They would show at once that you  are a person of quality;
and although, as you left your scarf behind you, they might not know
that you are  an officer, they would see that there was a mystery
about you."

"That is true, and I think that perhaps it would be as well if both
of us were to take off our own clothes  when we get beyond the town
tonight, and go on only in those you got for us. When we rejoin
our friends  we can get money and replace them."

"I have money with me, master," Paolo said. "I have had no occasion
to spend aught for a long time, and  have changed my wages as you
paid them into gold, and have forty pistoles sewn up in the waistbelt
of my  breeches. I heard you say that it was always a good thing
to carry a certain amount about with one in case  of being taken
prisoner or laid up wounded."

"It was a wise precaution, Paolo; but just at the present moment
I would rather that you did not have it  about you.  However, I do
not suppose we shall be interfered with. You may as well continue
to wear your  breeches under those you have outside, but leave your
doublet when I change. After all, if you were to be  searched the
pistoles would show that we are not what we seem, unless we could
make up some plausible  tale as to how we came possessed of them."

"Oh, we could manage that easily enough, master!  There are other
ways of getting pistoles than by earning  them."

Thus chatting they had crossed the bridge and were now entering
Eichstadt. Going to a quiet cabaret they  ate a hearty meal, and
Hector afterwards bought the axes and knives, and they left the
town just before the  gates were closed. They had walked some miles
when a thunderstorm, which had for some time been  threatening,
broke over them.

"We must get some shelter if we can," Hector said. "I see a light
on ahead. Let us push on and take refuge  before we are wet to the
skin."

On reaching the house they saw that it was a wayside inn.

"We are in luck, Paolo," Hector said as he lifted the latch.

The door, however, was fastened, and on his knocking a voice asked,
"Who is there at this time of night?"

"Travellers," Hector replied. "Come, open the door quickly or we
shall be wet to the skin!" and he  emphasized his words by kicking
at the door. It was, however, a minute or two before it was opened,
and  Hector, who was becoming furious at this delay, had just taken
his axe from his belt and was about to break  the door in when it
opened, and a man with a torch in one hand and a sword in the other
stood on the  threshold.



CHAPTER XVII:  A ROBBER'S DEN



"What mean you by knocking thus furiously?" the landlord of the
little inn asked angrily.

"What mean you by keeping your door shut in the face of travellers
on such a night as this?" Hector replied,  even more loudly. "Are
honest men to be kept waiting in the rain while you are taking no
steps to let them  in?"

"How could I tell that you are honest men?" the landlord retorted.

"Because if we had not been honest men we should long before this
have battered your door down, as  indeed I was just going to do
when you opened it."

"Well, come in," the landlord said with an evil smile.  "Maybe you
would have done better to have passed  on."

He showed them into the taproom, where two or three rough men were
sitting.

"What did these fellows mean by knocking so loudly?" one of them
asked angrily.

"It means," Hector replied, "that travellers have a right to claim
shelter of an inn; and indeed, inn or no inn,  no one would refuse
shelter to travellers on such a night as this is going to be." And
his words were  emphasized by a crash of thunder overhead.

"You crow pretty loud, young fellow," the man growled.

"I speak loud because I have right on my side. I desire to quarrel
with no man; but one need indeed be a  saint to keep one's temper
when one is kept standing outside a door with the rain coming
down in great  drops, and threatening in another minute to come in
bucketfuls. It is all the worse when, as you see, one has  a sick
comrade with one."

The man spoke in a low voice to the three others seated at the
table with him. "May I ask whither you were  journeying when thus
caught in the storm?" he asked in a more civil tone than he had
hitherto used.

"Certainly you may. We were in haste to get on to Gunzenhausen by
morning, as a friend of ours has work  ready for us there. We did
not expect this storm when we left Eichstadt just before the gates
closed, and as  the nights are short we thought we would push
straight through."

"You are woodmen, I see."

"Ay, woodmen and charcoal burners."

"You are not from this part, at least, judging from your tongue."

"Nor, I fancy, are you," Hector replied.

"No," the other said. "In times like these every one is liable
to be driven from home either because the  troops of one army or
another have plundered and destroyed everything, or perhaps because
he has been  forced into the ranks."

"That is just our case, and you will understand that in times like
these, as you say, no one cares to answer  questions on the part
of strangers. But we have no particular cause of concealment. We
have both been in  the army, and, as you see, have left it, and have
our reasons for wishing to travel at night, when there is no  chance
of falling in with troops whose officers might ask inconvenient
questions. As, thanks to our host and  you, we are nearly wet through,
we will thank him to get ready as quick as may be two flagons of
hot beer,  and if he has got a couple of eggs to beat up in each
of them, so much the better."

The landlord left the room, and a minute or two later the man who
had spoken to Hector got up and went  out.

"These men are up to no good," Hector whispered to Paolo as they
sat down on a bench at a table some  little distance from that at
which the other men were seated. "I am sorry now that I asked for
the liquor, it  was necessary to order something. I should not be
surprised if they drug it.  Do you put yours to your lips,  and
then groan as if it hurt you too much to try to swallow, and leave
it standing in front of you. I will  pretend to drink mine, and
will manage to pour it away on the floor. Presently do you lean
forward on to  the table and appear to fall asleep. As I am in
the corner, I will lean back and seem to go off also. Unless I  am
greatly mistaken this is a regular thieves' den. Keep one hand on
the butt of a pistol. We will both keep  awake for a time, and if
nothing comes of it we will then watch by turns. It is clear that
they suspect that we  are not what we seem."

The men at the other table were talking together in low voices,
and, listening intently, Hector could hear a  murmur of voices in
the room behind him.

"There were more than two voices there," he whispered presently to
Paolo. The latter nodded, for he too  had been listening. Presently
the landlord returned with the two flagons of hot beer, which were
set down  on the table before them. The room was lighted only by
a torch stuck in a cresset on the wall, and Hector  had purposely
seated himself as far from this as possible. Paolo took up his mug,
raised it to his lips, and  then set it down again with a sudden
cry.

"I am afraid that you will not be able to take it," Hector said
aloud.

"What is the matter with your comrade?" the landlord asked.

"He has a terrible abscess in his jaw, and is unable to speak or
to swallow."

The landlord took the torch from its place and walked over and looked
at Paolo's cheek. "There is no  mistake about that," he said. "It
is indeed a terrible swelling, and the cheek looks almost raw."

"He has put liniments on it," Hector said, "but they seem to have
done him harm rather than good.  However, he is not so bad as he
was, and I hope that the abscess will break ere long."

The landlord fastened the torch up again, and said in a low tone
to the other men: "There is no doubt about  his face being bad."
As he turned away from the table he stood between Hector and the
other men, and the  former seized the opportunity of pouring the
contents of his mug against the wall by his knee, knowing that  as
the floor was of earth it would soak it up at once. From time to
time he lifted the mug to his lips, until he  apparently drained
it. Then half closing his eyes he leant up against the corner.
Paolo had already laid his  head down on the table, and after a
time both breathed heavily and regularly. Half an hour later one of
the  men rose noiselessly and left the room. Two or three minutes
afterwards he returned with the host, the man  who had gone out
before, and two others.

"Seven against two," Hector thought to himself.  "However, we shall
have the advantage of a surprise." He  touched Paolo with his foot
to assure himself that he had not really gone off to sleep, but
the responsive  movement showed that he also was on his guard. The
man who had first left the room and one of the others  drew their
long knives and stepped quietly forward, while the others, also
with bared weapons, prepared to  support them if necessary. Hector
waited until the two leaders were close, then he exclaimed sharply,
"Now!" at the same moment throwing forward his hand with the pistol.
Two reports rang out at the same  moment, and the men pitched
heavily forward. A yell of surprise and fury broke from the others,
but ere  they could step over their fallen comrades, Hector and
his companion stood erect with their second pistols  in their right
hands and their axes ready for action in their left.

Hector's second shot took effect on the landlord, Paolo's apparently
missed, for the other four rushed  forward. Hector dashed the table
aside, and he and Paolo, poising their heavy axes, rushed forward
to meet  their assailants.

"Mind the beams," Hector shouted, as with a sweeping side blow he
clove in the head of one opponent. But  the warning came too late.
Paolo struck a downward blow, the axe caught the low beams of the
ceiling, and  it flew from his hand. His opponent sprang upon him.
Paolo caught the man's right wrist as he struck at him  with his
knife, and drew his own from his girdle. His assailant threw his
other arm round him, and,  grappling, they fell on to the ground.
Hector could do nothing to assist him, for the other two men were
trying to circle round him, keeping beyond the swing of his axe but
watching for an opportunity to spring  upon him. Keeping his back
against the wall he made feints against them. Presently one of the
men passed  between him and the two antagonists struggling on the
ground. Suddenly they rolled over and over, coming  in contact
with him from behind and almost throwing him over. Before he could
recover from the shock  Hector's axe struck him below the ear.

The other man would have turned and made for the door, but Hector
knew that it was important that he  should not escape and carry
the news to others of his party, who might be in the forest. He
therefore sprang  after him, and before the wretch could open the
door struck him between the shoulders with his long knife.  As he
did so Paolo sprung up with a shout.

"Thank God that you are alive, Paolo! I was afraid that he might
have killed you."

"No, no, master. I had him by the wrist too firmly for that, and
my knife did its work almost directly. But  with those two fellows
hovering round I should have been at their mercy had I tried to get
on my feet. So I  kept on struggling until I saw my opportunity,
and then as that fellow's back was turned I rolled over  against
him, and so gave you the chance that you were waiting for. Well,
master, it has been a sharp  business."

"It has indeed. Now the first thing is to see if there is anyone
else in the house, and the next to look about  for some clothes for
you to put on, for those you wear are covered with blood. Then we
must be off, and  put as many miles between us and this place before
morning as we can."

A brief search showed that the place was empty, save for the dead
in the taproom. An old doublet  belonging to the landlord was
found hanging up in the loft where he slept.  Taking off his outer
garments,  Paolo put this on.

"It is lucky I kept my breeches on under the others," he said, "for
I certainly could not have gone into a  town with these stained
things on. I suppose there is some money hidden somewhere, but we
have not time  to look. You may be sure that many a traveller has
been murdered here."

"I quite agree with you, but we have certainly no time to spare to
hunt for it. Let us be off at once."

Reloading their pistols and carefully wiping their axes they went
out by a door at the back of the house, for  neither cared to re-enter
the scene of the slaughter. Before doing so, however, they took a
long draught  from the landlord's beer barrel, to make up for the
drink of which they had deprived themselves. The storm  had passed,
and the stars were shining brightly. They met nobody on their way
until within two or three  miles of Gunzenhausen; it was found
that the haft of Paolo's axe was deeply stained with blood; and he
threw it away on issuing from the wood, as it did not accord well
with his present attire, which was rather  that of a discharged
soldier or a worker in cities than of a countryman.  Soon after
eight o'clock they  approached the town. They were now greatly
fatigued, for they had done two long days' marches without  any
sleep between them, and turning off from the road they made their
way to a little clump of trees, and  there threw themselves down
in the shade and slept until late in the afternoon.

"I think that after our experience of last night, Paolo," Hector
said, as they walked towards the town, "we  had better wait until
we can join some party going to Hall before we leave this place.
From what I hear, the  road is a great deal more infested with
bands of lawless men than that along which we have come."

"Then, master, I think we had certainly better wait, for I don't
want anything worse than we had yesterday."

They went to a small inn, had supper, and then lay down on some
straw in an outhouse and slept soundly  until morning. Then they
breakfasted, and as there was no one else in the room Paolo was
able to eat freely.  Presently the landlord came in, and Hector
entered into conversation with him.

"We want to go on to Hall," he said. "We have friends there, and
we are obliged to leave home because we  should be taken for the
army."

"Well, I don't think that you will find yourself better off at Hall
than here. They are catching up every  ablebodied young fellow and
putting him into the ranks, and as you both look strong and active,
except for  your comrade's face, you are both likely to be seized
as soon as you enter Hall, especially if you have no  papers to
show."

"We are not thinking of entering Hall, landlord. Our friends live
a few miles away, and they will hide us till  the army moves away
from these parts."

"That will be before long, thank the saints! There is news that a
great French army marched from Spires  three days ago, and there is
like to be a great fight before long; and if the French are beaten
Merci will  chase them back to the Rhine, recapture all the towns
that they have taken, and perhaps enter Alsace."

"Which way do they say that the French are marching?"

"They took the road to Weisloch. Some think that they will come
through Wimpfen, and then by  Weinsberg here, unless Merci bars the
way. Others again think that they will make their way down through
Stuttgart. Five hundred men march from here tomorrow to Hall,
whence they go on to Heilbronn to  strengthen the garrison there.
All the waggons in the town and country round have been fetched
in to carry  their stores and baggage and a convoy of ammunition.
I should say that you could not do better than go on  with the
waggons. No one is likely to ask you any questions, for it will be
thought that you are drivers."

"Thank you very much," Hector said; "that would certainly be a
capital plan. We were afraid of going  through the forests alone."

"Yes, and you were right. They are full of marauders.  A party
of troopers arrived here from Eichstadt  yesterday evening. They
stopped to get a drink at a cabaret in the forest, and on entering
found seven men  lying dead, and no one living to say how they got
there. That some, if not all, were robbers was evident  from the
fact that, on the bodies being searched, articles evidently plundered
from travellers were found  upon all of them. An examination was
made of the house, and considerable quantities of plunder found
hidden. Searching in the forest behind, several mounds of earth,
evidently graves, were discovered. The  landlord himself was among
the killed, for one of the troopers, who had before stopped at
the house,  recognized him. It was supposed that the brigands were
killed by some other party with whom they had  quarrelled. Three
of them were shot and two killed by tremendous blows from an axe,
and as neither pistols  nor axes were found in the room it is clear
that those within had been killed by some other band."

The next morning, when the column started, Hector and Paolo fell in
among the carts, and rendered good  service on the road by helping
to move them when the wheels of the waggons stuck fast at spots
where the  road crossed marshy valleys. So bad was the journey
that it occupied two days.  Then the waggons were  parked outside
the walls of Hall, a guard being placed round them to prevent
desertion. The troops slept  inside the town. At daybreak the next
morning their march was arrested by an officer riding out from the
town, saying that news had arrived on the previous evening that
the French were marching upon Heilbronn,  that General Merci was
concentrating his army there to oppose the passage of the river,
and that the troops  were to push on with all speed, leaving
their baggage train at Hall. Hector at once decided that, with the
Bavarian army gathering in front, it would be madness to endeavour
to push on, and that indeed it would be  far better to fall back
until the direction of the French march was fully determined, when
they could make a  detour and come down upon their flank without
having to pass through the Bavarian army. He did not,  however, care
about remaining in Hall, which might be occupied by the Bavarians
if they fell back, and  they therefore, after entering the town
with the waggons, purchased a store of provisions, and, going out
again, established themselves in a small farmhouse, whose occupants
had deserted it and fled into the town  upon hearing that the French
were but some thirty miles distant.

Every day Hector went into the place to gather news, and learned
that Wimpfen had been captured by the  French by a sudden assault,
and that they had crossed the Neckar.  On returning he at once
started with  Paolo, but on approaching the Neckar learned that the
French had marched on to Rothenburg. They fell in,  however, with
a detachment which had been left on the Neckar. Hector found among
them several officers  to whom he was known, and, borrowing Paolo's
money, fitted himself and follower out again, bought a  couple of
horses that had been captured from the Bavarians, who had, he learned,
retired to Franconia, and  set out to join the army. Rothenburg
had been, he found out on his arrival, captured in a few hours,
and the  main body of the French had marched to Dinkelsbuhl, and
there he came up with them. He had learned  from the party on the
Neckar of the defection of Konigsmark and the Swedes, and that
Conde and  Turenne's united army did not exceed twenty thousand
men, and, as he knew, that of Merci was at least  equal to it in
strength.  His first question on entering the camp was as to the
quarters of his own regiment,  and he at once rode there. As soon
as he was recognized the men ran to him, cheering wildly, and so
great  was the tumult that Turenne himself, whose headquarters were
but a short distance away, rode to the spot to  enquire the cause
of the tumult. When he saw Hector surrounded by his cheering soldiers
he passed through  the crowd, and, reaching him, shook him warmly
by the hand.

"I had hoped that we might have made an exchange for you during the
winter, colonel, but I had not  thought it possible that I should
see you again before that time; for in the first place, we captured
no  prisoners in this campaign, but, on the contrary, have had many
of our own officers taken; and in the  second place, we have been
too busy ever since Marienthal to enter into negotiations. You have,
I suppose,  given them the slip, you and that varlet of yours, for
I see him over there."

"Yes, marshal; we had no very great difficulty in getting away. I
have been very well treated, and until I  heard that you were again
taking the offensive, I had no reason to fret over my imprisonment."

"Well, you have joined us just in time, for at any moment we may
fight a great battle. When you have  leisure this evening come over
to my tent. I shall be glad to hear how you managed to escape, and
any news  you have gained as to Merci's force and intentions."

As soon as the marshal had ridden off, his officers pressed round
him, but before speaking to them  individually Hector said a few
words to the men, thanking them for the greeting they had given
him, and  saying that he was glad indeed to be back among them.
Then he talked for a time to the officers, two or  three of whom,
after saying a few words apart to Captain de Thiou, had hurried
away. Half an hour later de  Thiou said:

"I have no doubt that you will be glad of supper, colonel.  Ours
is just prepared, and we hope that you will  join us."

"I am hungry, de Thiou, now I come to think of it, for except a
crust of bread this morning I have not  touched anything today."

"It is fortunate that we are better off than usual," de Thiou said.
"We had the luck to buy a pig from one of  Weimar's troopers. The
cavalry get the best of it, for though there are orders against
pillaging, there is no  doubt that a good deal of it goes on;
and, marching as we have been, there is no one to see that orders
are  strictly carried out.  However, we have benefited by it this
afternoon."

Accompanying de Thiou, Hector was surprised to find that at a short
distance in front of the spot where the  regiment was bivouacked
a large arbour had been erected.

"I did not notice this as I rode in," he said.

"It was not even thought of then, colonel; it was begun a few minutes
after you rode up, and the men have  worked right willingly, and
fortunately there was a copse hard by. I may say that it was the
men's own idea.  I had given orders that a table should be made of
any materials that came to hand, and one of the men  started the
idea of building an arbour over it, and as many hands make quick
work it has, as you see, been  constructed in little over half an
hour."

As the evening was warm the front of the arbour had been left open.
Inside, a rough table had been  constructed of empty casks, planks
taken from the bottom of the waggons, and a couple of doors from
cottages near, while powder barrels served as seats.

"Now, colonel, will you take the head of the table?" de Thiou said.

"Certainly not, de Thiou. I am your guest upon this occasion, so
do you take that place, and I will sit upon  your right hand."

"I only wish that we could have given you a dinner like those you
so often gave us at St. Denis."

"I shall enjoy it as much as if it were a royal feast," Hector said,
seating himself; "for indeed since I escaped  from Ingoldstadt some
ten days ago I have been living on black bread, sausage, and cheese."

The meal was a joyous one, for at the assault of Rothenburg
on the previous day several barrels of wine had  been captured by
the soldiers of the regiment. These had been bought from them by
the officers, who had  feared that some of the men might drink to
excess, and so damage the reputation which the regiment had  obtained
for sobriety and discipline. One of these had been broached, and
this and the pork afforded an  excellent supper even though the
bread was of the worst possible quality. When the meal was over,
de  Thiou stood up and proposed the health of the colonel, and
congratulated him most warmly upon his escape  from the enemy,
expressing the extreme satisfaction of all the men as well as
officers at his return. The  toast was drunk with enthusiasm, and
Hector briefly returned thanks. Then, in accordance with the general
request, he related the particulars of his escape from Ingoldstadt
and of his journey.  Paolo, who had been  waiting behind his master's
chair, came in for warm praise for the share he had taken in the
matter.

"I certainly did not think when I first, against the advice of
everyone, took Paolo as my lackey five years  ago, that he would
turn out so valuable a servant as he has done," Hector said as de
Thiou handed a goblet  of wine to the man. "He has been more than
a servant, he has taken part in all my adventures, and truly I
regard him as my friend. Indeed, gentlemen, had it not been for
him I certainly should not be here tonight,  for my own money gave
out altogether at Hall, and I had to borrow from his store the
means of buying  clothes and horses."

"By the way, colonel," de Thiou said, "from the day that you were
captured I have drawn your pay for you,  knowing that if it fell
into arrear you would have had hard work in getting it, so that I
have now three  months of your money in the regimental chest."

"Thank you, de Thiou, it will be very welcome; though Paolo would
not have been a very hard creditor."

At eight o'clock the party broke up, and Hector walked across to
Turenne's quarters. The latter had just  returned from a consultation
with the other generals.

"We shall open our trenches here tonight; the place is of some
importance, as it is on the direct road to  Nordlingen, and it is
as well not to leave it behind us. This, however, we shall do, if
news comes that Merci  is marching to give us battle before that
city, which we expect he will do. The Imperialists will like to
fight  there, for it was the scene of their great victory over the
Duke of Weimar and the Swedes."

"We must hope that we shall reverse matters this time, marshal."

"We must hope so," the latter said gravely; "if we fight on a fair
field I have no misgivings whatever. But  Merci always takes up
strong positions and entrenches himself, and Enghien is so anxious
to fight that he  will do so at a disadvantage rather than wait
until we can meet them on even terms. You know what  happened at
Freiburg, where we lost some nine thousand men and gained no great
advantage; while if we  had moved round and threatened their line
of retreat the enemy must have fallen back at once, we should  have
obtained our object without the loss of a man, and might possibly
have fallen upon Merci in his  retreat, and well nigh annihilated
his army. Do not think, Campbell, that I am for a moment  underestimating
Enghien's genius.  It is extraordinary, and in the hour of battle
he is superb, not only from  his extreme personal bravery, but
from the quickness with which he grasps every point, seizes upon
the  spot where a blow can be best delivered, and snatches victory,
where another would see only defeat before  him. But he is reckless
of life so long as he carries his point, and rather than lose a day
in turning the  enemy's position and so forcing him to relinquish
it, will sacrifice whole regiments by marching straight  against
the most formidable entrenchments. Had he but patience in addition
to his own splendid qualities, I  think he would be the greatest
military genius the world has ever seen. And now let me hear what
happened  to you after you left my side that night after Marienthal."

Hector again related his adventures. Turenne laughed at the account
of his escape, hidden under the flour  bags.

"It was a good scheme," he said; "and it was well that you had that
lackey of yours with you, for I do not  think that you could ever
have managed it unaided."

"I am sure I could not, marshal; it was entirely his suggestion, and
he arranged all the details splendidly. He  was equally valuable in
another way afterwards;" and he described the fight in the cabaret.

"That was more dangerous than taking part in a pitched battle; seven
against two are heavy odds indeed,  though you had the advantage
of weapons. The fellow has a ready wit to think of rolling against
the man  who was waiting for a chance of running in and stabbing
you; he would have made his fortune somehow  even if he had not had
the good luck to fall in with you. In some respects you resemble
each other; you both  have enterprise, quickness, and daring,
but he lacks your studious habits, your determination to master
everything connected with your profession, and your ability to turn
your knowledge to account. He would  have made a good soldier, an
excellent leader of an irregular corps, but he would never have
gained  distinction. Well, I am very glad to have had a quiet talk
with you; it takes one out of one's worries and  anxieties. By
the way, I had a letter from Mazarin; it reached me while I was
at Spires. He said he was  sorry to hear that you had been taken
prisoner, and requested me to make an exchange for you as soon as
possible, even if I had to give a general officer for you, for he
was very deeply your debtor, and had the  highest esteem for you.
What have you been doing to make him your debtor? You never mentioned
anything of the sort to me."

"The matter was to some degree a state one, marshal, or I should
have told you of it; but as it took place  nearly a year ago, and
the circumstances are altogether changed, I can mention them to
you in confidence --  for even now, were it known, it might make
me some powerful enemies." He then related how it was that  he had
thwarted the attempt on Mazarin's life.

"That was a piece of singular good fortune," Turenne said. "Mazarin
is a staunch friend and a bitter enemy.  I owe him no goodwill,
for he has behaved shamefully to de Bouillon, refusing to hand to
him the estates  for which he exchanged his principality of Sedan;
but I do not permit myself to allow family interests to  weigh with
me against my duties to France. Truly, as you say, it were well to
hide your share in a business  that sent De Beaufort and a score
of others to prison, and a dozen members of powerful families into
exile;  it might well cause you serious trouble were it known.  You
did well to keep the matter to yourself, and you  did specially
well to refuse to accept any personal honour, for had you done so
Mazarin's enemies would at  once have connected that fact with the
discovery of the plot."

On returning to his regiment, Hector found that an order had come
just after he left, for four companies to  march down under the
guidance of an engineer officer to begin work on the trenches. De
Thiou, knowing  that he had gone to the marshal's, had gone down
with the four leading companies. The other infantry  regiments had
furnished similar contingents, showing that the siege was to be
pushed forward with all  haste.

"Enghien does not allow the grass to grow under his feet," Captain
Mieville said. "We stormed Wimpfen a  few hours after our arrival
before it; we carried Rothenburg in a single night, and I expect
that by tomorrow  evening we shall be masters of this place."

In the morning four more companies went down to relieve those who
had been at work all night, and these  had made great progress
when, in the afternoon, the news came that Merci was marching with
all his  strength towards Nordlingen. Trumpets at once sounded to
recall the troops from the trenches, a meal was  hastily cooked,
and at sunset the army marched for Nordlingen. All night they pushed
on through the forest,  and just as the leading squadrons emerged
from it on to the plain, Merci's forces were seen issuing out
from  the forest facing them. Both armies at once formed in order
of battle.

Enghien, anxious to attack, rode forward with Turenne, de Gramont,
and Geis to reconnoitre the ground. It  was found that between
the armies there was a small river, with great pools and swamps
on either side, and  that the only approaches were by narrow and
winding paths where two horsemen could scarcely ride  abreast. Even
Enghien felt that it would be madness to venture upon an attack.
His artillery opened fire, that  of the Bavarians replied, and the
cannonade was continued till nightfall, inflicting a certain amount
of loss  on either side but in no way altering the position. Seeing
that a battle could not be brought on here, Enghien  marched two
hours before daybreak for Nordlingen.  At nine the army came down
on to the great plain in  front of that town, but he found that
Merci had been beforehand with him, and had already taken up a
strong position two leagues away, and between him and the city, and
that his troops were already at work  throwing up intrenchments.
The prince ordered all the baggage to be left behind, and at once
marched  against the enemy. At four o'clock they were facing each
other. Merci had, as usual, chosen his position  with great judgment.
In the middle of the plain rose two little hills about a thousand
yards apart. On the hill  on his left stood the castle of Allersheim,
and here Merci's left wing, under General John de Werth, was  posted;
while at Weinberg his right, commanded by General Gleen, took up
its station. The main body of  the army, under Merci himself, lay
behind a village a couple of hundred yards beyond the hills, and
at the  head of the passage between them. He had his cavalry on
his two wings, his infantry in the centre, and had  thrown forward
some regiments to hold the village. On the two hills he had planted
his cannon, sheltered  by intrenchments, and in a position to sweep
the entrance to the valley.

His army consisted of between fourteen and fifteen thousand men,
that of Enghien of seventeen thousand.  After examining the position
a council of war was held. Turenne was strongly against attacking
the enemy  in a position of such strength, but Enghien as usual
overruled his opinion.  Turenne then urged that the  cavalry on the
wings should not charge up the hills and attack the positions held
there until the enemy's  centre had been defeated, and his advice
in this respect was taken. The generals then separated and rode to
their respective commands. De Gramont commanded the right wing,
consisting of all the French cavalry,  and having as a second line
a reserve consisting of four battalions of infantry and six squadrons
of horse  commanded by Chevalier de Chabot. Turenne commanded
the left, which consisted of his own army, with  twelve squadrons
of Weimar's cavalry, with the Hessian army -- six battalions and
six squadrons -- as a  second line. The centre, consisting of ten
battalions and five squadrons of horse, was commanded by Count  de
Marsin. Enghien took no special command, preferring to remain free
to go where his presence was most  needed.



CHAPTER XVIII:  NORDLINGEN


It was five o'clock in the afternoon when all the arrangements for
the attack were completed. But as on the  3rd of August the evening
is long, it was judged that there would be sufficient daylight to
carry out the  battle.  The French began with a cannonade against
the village, and this was replied to by the guns on the  two hills.
Not only did the position of the latter give them great superiority,
but much time was lost by the  French in being obliged to move
forward their guns as the army advanced, a slow and tedious process
in  days when cannon were very heavy and cumbrous.  Seeing that
they were losing time and suffering more  loss than they inflicted,
Enghien gave the order to the infantry of the centre to advance.

They went forward with great speed and eagerness, for they were
burning to retrieve their cowardly  conduct at Marienthal. They
carried the intrenchments Merci had thrown up at the mouth of
the pass, and,  heedless of the firing of the guns, rushed at the
village. Here, however, they were received by so heavy a  fire of
musketry from the infantry posted there, who had loopholed all the
walls and houses, that they came  to a stop, and, being shot down
in great numbers, turned and fled. The Count de Marsin was himself
dangerously wounded. The Duc d'Enghien sent the Marquis de la Moussaie
forward with a reinforcement  of several regiments, but these, too,
fell back before the Imperialists' fire. The Duc d'Enghien then
rallied  the infantry, added to them all those not yet engaged, and
himself led them to the charge. Merci on his part  brought forward
his main body to the village.

The battle was now a desperate one. Enghien seemed to lead a charmed
life. He was ever where the fight  was hottest, encouraging the
soldiers and setting them an example. His clothes were shot through
in many  places.  Two horses were killed under him, and he received
a contusion in the thigh. Merci on his part  showed equal valour
and intrepidity; but he was less fortunate, for he was struck by a
musketball and  killed. The news of his fall excited his soldiers
to fury, and, hurling themselves on their assailants they cut  the
greater part of the infantry to pieces.

The French on the right had done no better, for the Bavarian cavalry
charged them with such impetuosity  that although they fought
sturdily they were broken and routed.  De Gramont did all that a
leader could do  to check their flight and lead them back to the
battle; and when he saw that he was powerless to do this he  put
himself at the head of two regiments that had not yet been engaged,
received the Bavarian horse with a  heavy volley, and leading his
troopers to the charge, broke into them, but advancing too far
was surrounded  and taken prisoner. John de Werth then fell on the
reserve, broke them, penetrated the baggage, which was  plundered,
and then pursued the fugitives far away from the field of battle.
Had he, instead of allowing his  troops and himself to be carried
away by their ardour, brought them round and attacked the French
left in  the rear, the Imperialist victory would have been complete.

Here for a time the conflict was doubtful. Turenne, in spite of the
fire of the Imperialist artillery, led his  troops in good order up
the hill of Weinberg. His horse was shot under him and his cuirass
was struck, but  not pierced, by a musketball. On gaining the top
of the hill a terrible fight took place between the Weimar  and
Hessian troops on one side, and the Austrians and Bavarians on
the other. The former showed valour in  strong contrast with the
conduct of their French allies; and after repeated volleys had been
exchanged  infantry and cavalry rushed upon each other and fought
with bayonet and sword. At last the first line of  Imperialists
gave way, but General Gleen brought up the second line and threw
Turenne's first line into  disorder, although they still maintained
their ground. At this moment Conde, seeing that his centre was
destroyed and his right utterly dispersed, came up and joined
Turenne, and placing himself at the head of  the Hessians, who formed
the second line, brought them forward. The enemy's squadrons were
broken, and  the infantry defeated. The guns were then turned upon
the Imperialists on the slope of the hill leading down  to the
village, and when they were shaken by the fire Turenne's squadron
charged down upon them and  completed their defeat. General Gleen
was taken prisoner, and Turenne's troops, descending the hill, took
the village in flank.

Had the defenders here fought with the same courage that they had
previously evinced, they would have  given time to John de Werth
to return, and the fate of the battle would have been doubtful, but
they were  seized with unreasoning panic, and at once surrendered.
The night had long since closed in, and so far as  the fighting had
gone the battle might be considered a drawn one. The French right
and centre were utterly  routed, but their left had captured one
of the keys of the position and the village behind it. Had John de
Werth, when he returned from the pursuit, shown himself an able
general, rallied the Imperialists and sent  them to recapture the
village, and with his victorious cavalry made a circuit of the
Weinberg and fallen  upon Turenne's rear, the Imperialist success
would have been as complete and striking as that which they  had
won on nearly the same ground over the Swedes; but although an
impetuous leader of cavalry, he had  no military genius, and on
returning after dark, and hearing that the Weinberg was lost and
the village  captured, he drew off from the field.

He was joined by the Imperialist infantry, and when the morning
broke Turenne's division stood victors on  the field. A number of
officers, many standards, and all the cannon of the enemy fell into
their hands. Of  the French infantry not more than fifteen hundred
were rallied after the battle, and of the allied army  Turenne's
German troops, although they had suffered severely, alone remained
intact.  John de Werth  retreated with the remains of the Imperialist
force to Donauworth, and crossed to the other side of the  Danube,
although his force was still superior to that of Turenne, for the
loss suffered by the French and  Turenne's German troops was very
much greater than that of the Imperialists. Enghien, in his despatch
announcing the victory, acknowledged in his letter to the queen
that it was due to the valour and honour of  Turenne.

Nordlingen and Dinkelsbuhl opened their gates to the victors. Enghien
fell ill and was forced to return to  France, leaving Turenne in
command. De Gramont was exchanged for Gleen, and he and Turenne
took  counsel as to the course that had best be pursued. John de
Werth had already recrossed the Danube, and the  French generals
fell back to Hall, where they remained for twelve days to refresh
the troops, provisions  being plentiful in the neighbourhood.

But their position was daily becoming more untenable.  The Duke of
Bavaria, greatly alarmed by the result  of the battle of Nordlingen,
wrote to the emperor that unless Austria largely increased her force
in the field  he should retire from the contest, of which he had
hitherto borne the brunt, and make terms with the  French. The emperor,
who had just brought a war with Hungary to a close, despatched the
Archduke  Leopold, his son, with a great body of horse, and he soon
effected a junction with Gleen and John de  Werth, and together
they pushed forward at the utmost speed to surprise the French. As
soon as Turenne  received news of the movement he and de Gramont
agreed that an instant retreat must be made, seeing that  their
force was less than half that which was advancing to attack them.
The baggage was abandoned, and as  there was no bridge available
the army crossed the Neckar by swimming, each cavalryman taking
one of  the infantry behind him. They continued their retreat until
they arrived at Philippsburg. Here Turenne with  the whole of his
army took up his position, covered by the guns of the fortress,
while Gramont passed the  river with the remains of Enghien's army
and all the cavalry.

The Imperialists, after examining Turenne's position, came to the
conclusion that it could not be attacked,  and, marching away,
besieged and captured all the towns taken by the French in their
advance. Thus  beyond the empty honour of a nominal victory at
Nordlingen, the campaign under Enghien and Turenne  ended, without
any solid advantage whatever being gained by the French.

The Poitou regiment, which was the only French battalion in the
army of Turenne, had been placed with the  Hessians in the second
line. It had fought with distinguished bravery on the crest of the
Weinberg, and had  publicly been thanked by Enghien, who had on
the day of the battle ridden by the side of Hector at their  head
when they fell upon the Imperialists. They had suffered but a small
number of casualties, for the  enemy were already shaken before
they charged, and had, after receiving a shattering volley, broken
and  fled as the regiment charged with fixed bayonets.  Turenne
was always anxious to impress upon Hector the  lessons that were
to be learned from each action, and while they were encamped round
Hall he went over  the events of the campaign with him on a map.

"You see," he said, "that what I said to you on the evening before
we marched from Dinkelsbuhl has been  completely justified. Instead
of manoeuvring so as to fight in the open, we dashed ourselves
against this  strong position, with the inevitable consequences,
two-thirds of our army were routed, and the infantry of  the centre
and right all but annihilated; and although by hard fighting we on
the left gained an advantage, it  was only the impetuous folly of
John de Werth that saved us from destruction. Now, you see, we are
in no  position to fight another battle. A victory won in one's own
country is decisive for a considerable time, but  a victory in an
enemy's country, unless it involves his disastrous defeat and the
utter breakup of his army, is  practically without value. We can
receive no reinforcements, for none can reach us from France in
less than  a couple of months; the enemy, on the other hand, have
rapidly filled up their ranks, and have received, or  are about to
receive, large reinforcements, and as soon as they advance we must
retreat in all haste,  sacrifice all the advantages we have gained,
and shall be lucky if we can maintain a footing on this side of
the Rhine.

"Five or six thousand lives have been thrown away and nothing
whatever gained. Now, you see, had we  instead of knocking our
heads against the enemy's position, manoeuvred to place ourselves
between him  and the Danube, he must have retreated without fighting
a battle, for he was inferior to us in numbers, and  we should have
been able to go into winter quarters in Nordlingen and possibly
lay siege to Eichstadt. A  genius may win a battle, Campbell,
but genius, if accompanied by impetuosity and a thirst for great
victories, will very seldom win a campaign. I love as well as admire
Enghien; he is chivalrous and  generous, he has great military
genius; possibly with age his impetuosity may be tempered with
discretion,  but at present, although a brilliant leader, he is not
the general that I would choose to serve under in a long  campaign."

When Weimar's cavalry crossed the Rhine with de Gramont they broke
into mutiny, declaring that they  were raised to fight in Germany
and would not fight in France.  Turenne crossed and endeavoured
to get  them to return to their duty, recalling to them how nobly
they had fought under him, and appealing to them  in the strongest
way not to desert him now. A portion of them gave in to his entreaties,
but the rest rode  away to effect a junction with the Swedish army,
and he was therefore deprived of a considerable portion of  the
force that had been the mainstay of his little army. Upon the other
hand, the Archduke Leopold  marched away to Bohemia to oppose the
Swedes, who had gained several successes in that direction.  Turenne,
however, determined to carry out one more enterprise before the
winter set in, and to reinstate the  Elector of Treves, who had been
deprived of his dominions for twelve years, in consequence of his
having  entered into an alliance with France. In order to effect
this he marched in the first week in November with a  small force
of infantry and his cavalry to the Moselle, a distance of forty
leagues.

He was joined by some of Enghien's troops from Metz, and on the
14th of November he invested Treves.  The Imperialists were unable
to gather a force of sufficient strength to relieve the town, which
was,  therefore, after a short resistance, forced to capitulate.
The small garrisons from other towns in the elector's  dominions
were speedily driven out and the elector restored to his possessions,
a result doubly gratifying,  since his restoration produced a
widespread effect among the German princes who had thrown in their
lot  with France, while the material advantage was no less, as it
closed a door through which the Imperialists,  when in sufficient
force, could at any time pour their troops into France. This brought
the campaign of  1645 to a close.  Turenne was called to Paris,
where he received the honours that were due to him for the  skill
and bravery by which, with altogether insufficient forces -- raised,
equipped and paid to a large extent  from his private purse -- he
had for two years guarded the Rhine frontier from invasion by the
united forces  of Bavaria and Austria. Hector's regiment had been
left at Philippsburg when Turenne marched away; but  the marshal
told him that there was no occasion whatever for him to remain
with it during the winter. He  thought indeed that it would be
advantageous that he should pay a short visit to Paris, present
himself to  Mazarin, and then go down and see how matters fared with
the estate, to which he had paid but a flying  visit. He therefore
set out without delay, Turenne entrusting him with some despatches
to the cardinal.

"They are of no great importance," he said, "but it is always well
for an officer returning to Paris to carry  despatches with him. It
shows that he has the hearty approval of his commander in leaving
his post for a  while, and that he has distinguished himself in
a special degree to be thus selected. I have several times in  my
despatches had occasion to speak of the excellent service rendered
by your regiment, and it will ensure  you a good reception at court.
Besides, Mazarin is evidently disposed to regard you with special
favour,  and an occasional visit keeps that feeling alive, whereas
it naturally cools down after a prolonged absence.   Therefore in
every respect it is as well that you should show yourself in Paris
for a short time before going  down to Poitou, where I hear there
have been some troublesome risings of the peasantry. The province,
being broken and hilly for the most part, offers considerable
advantages to irregular forces, who move  unencumbered with baggage,
and against whom cavalry cannot well act. I do not know that any of
these  troubles have occurred in the neighbourhood of your estate,
but you would naturally wish to see for  yourself how matters are
going on."

"It seems more than two years since we left here, master," Paolo
said, as they rode into Paris.

"It does indeed. It is more than six years now since I first rode
away with Turenne, and a month later you  entered my service. We
have gone through a good deal together since those days, Paolo."

"Yes, indeed, sir. It was a fortunate day for me when my brother
took me to your quarters."

"It has been quite as fortunate for me, Paolo. I doubt whether I
should ever have proposed undertaking to  carry Turenne's message
into the citadel of Turin had I not felt that I could rely upon
you as my companion  in the business, and it was that which gave
me my first step. Since then you have always been by my side,  and
have more than once saved my life."

On reaching Mazarin's hotel Hector found that he was at the Louvre,
and immediately went there, and as  bearer of despatches from the
army was at once introduced to the minister's apartment.

"Come with me at once to the queen's closet," the cardinal said as
he entered. "She has just sent for me, and  her majesty, being at
once a woman and a queen, does not like being kept waiting. She
always wishes to  receive the first news from the army, therefore
I can venture to take you with me without asking her  permission.

"I have brought Monsieur de Villar to your majesty," he said as
he entered the queen's apartment. "He has  just reached Paris with
despatches from the Viscount Turenne.  He has only this instant
arrived, and I  thought I might venture to bring him at once to
you."

"'Tis a long time since we have seen you, monsieur," the queen
said graciously, "but we have heard of you  from the marshal's
despatches, and were glad to see that your regiment bore itself
as well in the field of  battle as in the park of Versailles. What
news do you bring? Nothing of importance, I hope, for there can
hardly be good news when the marshal has so scanty a force with
which to guard the frontier."

"The Viscount de Turenne is too zealous in your service, madam,
to remain idle, however small his force.  He started suddenly the
day I left with his cavalry and a small body of infantry to march
to Treves, with  two or three regiments he has persuaded the
Duc d'Enghien to send him from Metz with some guns, and he  hoped
to capture the city and clear the electorate of the enemy before
they can receive strong  reinforcements, seeing that they are all
scattered in their winter quarters."

"A bold stroke indeed, cardinal," the queen said, much gratified.
"It has touched our honour that the elector  should so long have
suffered for his fidelity to France; and, moreover, its possession
in his hands will  relieve us of much anxiety and give us the
Moselle as a barrier against the incursions of the enemy in that
corner of our dominions. He is indefatigable, this good viscount,
cardinal; and he is not one of those who  look for great rewards
for every service. He has indeed carried on the war largely on his
own resources,  which has been of no slight advantage to us, seeing
that our exchequer is but too often strained to meet  demands from
other quarters. If he succeeds in this enterprise, you must write
in our name and bid him  come hither to receive our thanks in
person, and to rest for a while from his labours in our service.

"You have changed somewhat, Monsieur de Villar, since we last saw
you. The ladies of the court called  you then the little colonel
-- not because of your size, for you already overtopped the greater
portion of our  courtiers, but from your age. Now you look all over
a soldier, and a weatherbeaten one."

Hector had indeed aged during the past two years. He was now nearly
two-and-twenty, his moustache had  grown, and, as was the custom
of the time, he wore a small imperial.  The habit of command had
given to  his face an expression of decision and resolution unusual
at his age, and a life spent in the open air, and for  the most part
sleeping without cover, had bronzed his skin, and had counteracted
the youthful appearance  caused by his fair complexion.

"'Tis but some three months since we heard of you as a prisoner,
having been captured while with your  regiment covering the retreat
after the unfortunate battle of Marienthal. The cardinal told me
that he had  written to the field marshal to try and arrange an
exchange for you if possible. We had not heard that he had  done so
when the Duc d'Enghien's report of the battle of Nordlingen spoke
of you as doing good service  with your regiment there. I suppose
Turenne, in the press of business, omitted to say that you had been
exchanged."

"I was not exchanged, madam. I succeeded in effecting my escape
from the fortress of Ingoldstadt."

"You seem born to have adventures, monsieur," the queen said. "We
heard before of your regiment  performing prodigies of valour at
Freiburg, and of withstanding Merci's whole army, foot and horse,
for  three hours. Last winter the governor of Lorraine reported
that you and a company of your regiment from  Nancy had defeated a
great body of insurgent peasants, and had rescued Madame de Blenfoix
and her  daughter from massacre at their hands. There is no officer
under the rank of general whose name has been  so frequently brought
under our notice. You intend to make some stay in Paris, I hope?"

"I shall do myself the honour later on, your majesty; but I hear
that there are peasant troubles down in  Poitou, and as I only paid
a visit of a few days there, when your majesty had the goodness
to present the  fief to me, I am anxious to know how matters are
going on, and to see that my castle is secure from attack  by the
insurgents."

"Your excuse is a good one. It would be well if more possessors of
estates would spend their time in  endeavouring to alleviate the
condition of their people, instead of wasting their time and money
in Paris."

"Monsieur de Villar took steps in that direction, your majesty,
before leaving for the war; for my agents,  who keep me informed
of most things that take place, acquainted me with the fact that
Monsieur de Villar  entirely remitted the usual fines on taking
possession, and reduced the annual payment of his tenants by one
half until times should mend."

"A noble example!" the queen said warmly. "I would that we could
afford to do the same through all the  royal domains. It is a
pleasure to us to know that one at least of our fiefs has been so
worthily bestowed.  Well, sir, I shall see you at the court this
evening."

Hector bowed and withdrew. His first step was to go to the clothing
establishment most frequented by men  of good family. "I have to
attend at the court this evening. I have just returned from the
army, and have but  the clothes that I stand up in. Have you any
garments that will fit me suitable for such an occasion?"

"Of shoulder cloaks I have great store in silks, satins, and velvets
of all shades and colours. There is no  difficulty about doublets,
for of these I always keep a large stock in hand; and although you
are a bigger  man than the majority of my customers, I think that
I can suit you. Tight pantaloons are chiefly worn by  those who
affect the latest fashion, but it would be impossible for me to
make these at such short notice. As  you are a military man this
matters little, for these chiefly affect loose breeches trimmed
at the bottom with  rich lace, stockings of silk, and shoes with
rosettes. Such breeches I could promise you in three hours, for
they require but little making. The stockings of all shades I have
in stock, also shoes. These would need but  rosettes of the colour
to suit the dress, to be added to them."

"I put myself in your hands," Hector said. "I wish for a handsome
dress, and yet one which shall in no way  be foppish, but shall
be suitable to my station. I am Baron de la Villar, colonel of the
Poitou regiment of  infantry."

"Do you incline to silk, velvet, or satin? I should say a velvet
cloak and satin tunic and breeches would suit  you best with your
fair hair. I should choose for the cloak a crimson or violet, and
for the doublet and  breeches a yellow. If you would prefer a blue
cloak I should say a white satin doublet and breeches would  become
you."

Hector shook his head. "No, I should prefer the first mixture. I
care not whether the cloak is crimson or  violet."

"I think violet, monsieur, and rosettes of the same colour on your
shoes. It were best, I think, that the  stockings should match the
doublet. You will, of course, have a pointed lace collar for your
cloak, and at  the bottom of your breeches and at your wrists to
match. I think, sir, that a large collar and gold embroidery  would
go best with the costume."

Hector nodded. "I leave it entirely to you, Master Poitrou, so
that everything is ready in time for me to wear  them. I also want
a travelling suit of good fashion -- I leave the matter of colour
to you -- and also a suit for  wearing here in Paris."

The cloak and doublets were speedily chosen, as M.  Poitrou had
several of the colour and material in  stock.  Hector was then
measured for the breeches, which were of the fashion now known as
knickerbockers, but somewhat looser. He then chose a violet cap
with a yellow feather to match the court  dress, a court sword,
high riding boots, and loose turned-over boots used for walking,
but left all other  matters to the tailor.

"When your man brings the things to me at the auberge Pome d'Or I
will pay him at once," he said. He was  indeed well supplied with
funds, for as he passed through Nancy he had drawn the sums standing
to his  credit from an agent there, to whom he had, as occasion
offered, transmitted the greater portion of his pay,  and also
the balance of the sum that had been paid him when he first took
possession of his estate, after  paying for the various expenses
he had incurred in St. Denis and in Paris. Monsieur Poitrou was
faithful to  his promise, and although free from vanity, Hector
could not but perceive, after he had donned his court  suit, that
he made a good figure. Such, indeed, was the opinion of not a few
of the ladies of the court as he  entered the great reception room.

He had now adopted the general fashion, and wore his hair in ringlets
hanging down on to the collar. His  fair complexion contrasted
strongly with the much darker one of the majority of the courtiers,
and this, as  well as his height and erect soldierly bearing, rendered
him a conspicuous object among them. The queen  and cardinal both
honoured him with marked attention; but what pleased him most
during the evening was  the hearty greeting that he received from
Colonel Maclvor, of whom he had seen but little during the  campaign,
as the Scottish regiment formed part of Enghien's command, and was
not present at the battle of  Nordlingen, being left in garrison
at Metz when the duke marched to join Turenne. Mazarin himself
presented him to many of the ladies of the court, thereby showing
that he wished him to be regarded as a  particular friend of his;
and Hector, having gained much in self possession since he had last
appeared there,  was able to make himself more agreeable to them
than before, to bandy compliments, and adapt himself to  the general
atmosphere of the court. The cardinal sent for him again the next
morning.

"The news is bad from Poitou, Colonel Campbell, and I think that it
would be well that you should proceed  there at once. So we will
release you from further attendance, and you can make up for it by
giving us a  longer time on your return."

Hector, however, tarried two days longer in Paris, by which time
he had received all the clothes that he had  ordered. Early on the
morning of the third day he mounted and rode away with Paolo and
three of his  troopers. Hunter had been left behind at Philippsburg
for the cure of a wound that he had received at  Nordlingen. Hector
was mounted on one of the horses that Enghien had given him; the
other was in the  hands of the Imperialists. They traveled fast, and
met with no adventure until they arrived at Poitou, where  Hector
learned that in the western part of the province the peasants had
almost everywhere risen, had  defeated the royal troops who had
marched against them from La Rochelle and Nantes, and had captured
and burnt any chateaux, slaying all persons of the better class
who fell into their hands.

As he neared his own estate, learning that the tenants there had so
far not joined the rising, but that several  bodies of insurgents
were in the neighbourhood, he rode still more rapidly forward.
Signs of the trouble  were everywhere apparent. In the villages
only women were to be seen; there was no sign of life or  movement
in the fields; and he passed two chateaux which were now but empty
shells. As soon as he had  crossed into his own estates he found
the houses entirely deserted; no man, woman, nor child was to be
seen; no animals grazed in the fields, and the little stacks of
hay and straw had been carried away.

"It is evident," he said to Paolo, "that MacIntosh has called all
the tenantry into the chateau; had they joined  the insurgents the
women and children would still be here."

As they ascended the steep hill on whose brow the chateau stood,
he could make out that there were a  number of men posted upon the
walls.

"He is evidently determined that he will not be caught napping,
Paolo, and all the peasants of Poitou could  not take the place
unless they were well provided with cannon."

The chateau, indeed, still retained the characteristics of a castle.
The site had evidently been selected with a  sole eye to defence;
the hill on which it stood fell abruptly away on three sides, and
could hardly be  attacked except in front.  Here a plateau extended
some three or four hundred yards long and upwards of a  hundred
yards across. A wall with flanking turrets had been a sufficient
defence on the other three sides,  but here there was a strong
tower on each flank, and also on each side of the central gate. The
walls  inclosed a space of some two acres, in the centre of which
stood the castle. This had been to some extent  modernized --
windows having taken the place of loopholes in the upper floors,
while those looking into  the inner courtyard extended to the
ground. The point where the road reached the plateau was some three
hundred yards from the gateway, and as Hector galloped towards
the walls it was evident that he was  recognized, for shouts were
raised by the men on guard and the drawbridge over the fosse --
cut in the solid  rock along the foot of the wall -- was lowered.

As he rode across it the gate swung open and MacIntosh ran out to
meet him.

"Is all well, old friend?" Hector asked as he sprang from his horse
and clasped the sergeant's hand.

"All is well so far, colonel; still, I am glad indeed that you have
returned, for at any moment trouble may  begin.  We hear that the
peasants mean to attack us. I hardly think they will venture to
do so, but I have no  doubt they will play havoc on the estate and
burn every house, because the tenants, instead of joining them,
have come up here to aid in the defence. It was a good day indeed
when madam and her daughter came  here, they have made themselves
so loved by the tenants that they would do anything for them. Ah,
if all  the ladies of France had been as good to their people as
they have been, we should not have these troubles  on hand!  Here
they come to welcome you."

Hector hurried across the outer court, where two lines of palings
had been erected, forming a passage from  one gate to the other,
and keeping back the animals that crowded the enclosure.

"Welcome back, welcome back, Colonel Campbell!" the baroness said
as she came up with both hands  extended, and her words were echoed
by her daughter. In the year that had elapsed since they started
under  the charge of Paolo both had changed. The look of care and
anxiety, which had been heightened by the  terrible events of the
two previous days, had passed from the elder lady's face, and had
been succeeded by  one of contentment and happiness.

Norah showed an even greater change; she had now attained her full
height, her figure had filled out, and  she stood on the threshold
of womanhood and bid fair to attain a high degree of beauty of the
type  characteristic of her nationality. Her hair was dark, her
eyes gray, her expression changing rapidly from  grave to gay, the
latter movement generally predominating.

"I need hardly ask, madam," Hector said as they entered the chateau,
"whether you have been comfortable  here, for your face shows that
you have at least been contented with your lot as chatelaine."

"I have been more than contented, I have been very happy, Monsieur
Campbell. It has been a pleasant task  indeed to be your almoner,
and to be able to carry comfort to those in distress, sympathy
and aid to those in  suffering.  Within the castle, nothing could
be more pleasant than our position. Captain MacIntosh has been
unwearied in his efforts to make us comfortable, and your steward
has in all cases been willing to aid me  with money and counsel when
I asked for them. The proof that your goodness has been appreciated
by the  tenants is that every one of them without exception has
refused to join the insurgents, and has forsaken his  home in order
to come up and aid in the defence of the castle."

"That is indeed gratifying, madam; but methinks their action is due
rather to the kindness of yourself and  Mademoiselle Norah, than
to the gifts they receive."

"I do not choose to be called Mademoiselle Norah," the girl said,
tossing her head. "I am Irish on both  sides, and have not a drop
of French blood in my veins. To strangers I am Miss Norah O'More;
to you, and  to any I may love, I am plain Norah."

"I don't think that you can be that to anyone, Norah."

"Now I don't like that, Colonel Campbell. That may do at the court
of Louis XIV, but not at the chateau of  la Villar, and if you
are going to pay compliments I shall be stiff and unpleasant, and
shall insist upon being  addressed as Miss Norah O'More."

"As I did not mean to compliment you, for I spoke but the truth,
I shall not accept the penalty. Now," he  went on, "unromantic as
it may sound, I own that I am hungry, and I am sure that my four
followers are  also, for we have ridden far and fast, and have not
stopped, save to bait our horses and snatch a mouthful  while they
ate, since daybreak. In truth the news we received made me sorely
anxious, though I felt sure  that MacIntosh could hold the chateau
against any attack that was likely to be made on it."



CHAPTER XIX:  THE PEASANTS' REVOLT


After eating a meal Hector had a talk aside with MacIntosh.

"Do you really think that these varlets will venture to attack us?"

"I do indeed," the old sergeant said. "They have taken several
places as strong as this by sudden assault.  They are desperate,
and, as I hear, fight like demons, regardless as to how many fall.
As far as stout arms  go we are well supplied, for there are at
least a hundred men capable of bearing arms, and all have had  more
or less drill since I have been here.  Unfortunately, however, our
wall pieces are old and scarce fit for  service, several of them
will, I feel sure, burst at the first discharge."

"But they have no artillery at all, MacIntosh?"

"I am sorry to say that they have, sir, and a good amount of it.
They captured ten field pieces when they  defeated the troops, and
have obtained a score of others from the chateaux that they have
taken. They have  only to plant them three or four hundred yards
away at the end of the plateau, and they would easily batter  down
the gates, and might even in time effect a breach in the walls."

"That is serious indeed, MacIntosh. Is there any other way in which
they can attack us save in front?"

"I think not. I was careful to examine the face of the precipice
when I first took command here, and  wherever it seemed to me that
an active man could climb up I had portions of the rock blown up,
and have  so scarped the face that I do not think it is scalable
by human foot. But there is nothing to prevent their  crossing the
fosse on a dark night, and so stealing along and making an attack
on all sides of the house."

"Then our first care must be to prevent this, MacIntosh, by building
walls along by the fosse from the  corner towers to the edge of
the plateau. The distance is very short, not more than eight or
ten yards at the  outside. We have, I see, any number of horses
and not a few carts. Let the tenants be set to work at once,  and,
going down the road into the ravine below, fill their carts with
blocks of stone and haul them up here.  Let active boys be sent out
in all directions as scouts to bring in word when the insurgents
are approaching;  and at the same time let twenty well armed men
of the garrison go down with the carts, so as to give  confidence
to the tenants and cover their retreat up the road if the insurgents
should suddenly make their  appearance. Let some of the men take
billhooks and axes down with them, and cut poles. These must be
sharpened, and as the walls are built, fixed among the stones so as
to make a cheval-de-frise. At the same  time let half a dozen stout
ladders be constructed, so that the defenders of these walls may,
if unable to hold  them, make their retreat up to the battlements.
I wish now that I had ordered a strong bastion to be thrown  up so
as to cover the gate from an attack by artillery, but it did not
seem likely that we should be besieged  by any force having guns,
and I let the matter remain until the tenants should be better off
and we could  spend our money on such work. However, it is too late
now to think of that. I suppose there is a portcullis  to the gate?"

"Yes, and I got it in good working order when I first came here;
but the cannon would speedily shatter that,  as well as the bridge
drawn up in front of it and the gate behind it."

"Then as I have no doubt that there are plenty of flour sacks, we
must fill these with earth and pack them  between the bridge and
the portcullis, and fasten the bridge in its place with any chains
that may be  available, so that it will keep erect. The earth packing,
however much it may be battered, will protect the  portcullis of
the gate for some time against their fire."

"It is a good idea if we have time to carry it out, colonel.  We
have still four or five hours' daylight, and as I  think that this
is of even greater importance than the side walls, we will set the
tenants to work at once, and  it will save time if they take down
the sacks, of which, as you say, we have an abundance."

A few minutes later a dozen active boys left the castle, and
scattered to various points on the hills around,  so as to command
a view over a considerable extent of country. Soon after, some
thirty carts went down the  road accompanied by a number of men
with shovels, and twenty of the garrison commanded by one of the
old soldiers. All returned loaded with sacks of earth; these were
taken into the castle, when the portcullis  was lowered and the
drawbridge across the fosse raised. An opening was left on the top
to allow the sacks  to be lowered into the space between the bridge
and the portcullis. A score of men with ropes went on to  the wall
above and lowered them behind the drawbridge, where five or six men
stowed them away. As soon  as it became dark torches were lighted,
and by ten o'clock a solid mass of sacks filled with earth were
packed in the space between the portcullis and the drawbridge.

The night passed off quietly, the horses and carts remaining
beyond the fosse. Planks had been placed  across one end of this,
and the horses and carts taken over. The horses were picketed round
the castle, a  supply of forage being placed there for their use,
while the carts were packed closely by the fosse, so as to  form
an obstacle to any of the assailants who might try to pass. At
daybreak they were again run across the  planks, the horses brought
round and harnessed, the scouts being sent out as on the day before.
All day the  work went on, and by nightfall two walls twenty feet
long and eight feet high, bristling with pointed staves,  were
erected. They stood some twenty feet back from the edge of the
fosse, and extended from the wall to  the verge of the precipice.
The carts and horses had, before the walls were built, been taken
round to the  back of the castle, where the plateau extended some
fifty yards beyond the defences.  Evening was just  coming on when
the boys came in, two of them bringing a report that a great crowd
of men could be seen  approaching from the west.

MacIntosh, with thirty men, were at once lowered down from the
battlements, and took up their places in  an intrenchment which
had been during the day thrown up at the point where the road came
up to the  plateau, while a score of the tenants assembled at the
edge of the cliff, where great piles of blocks of stone  had been
collected in readiness to throw down. Lighted torches were placed
at intervals along the road, and  three or four great cressets,
holding balls of tow soaked in turpentine and oil, were set up on
the edge of the  plateau; these were to be lighted when the peasants
attempted to mount the hill.

An hour passed, and then a flame sprang up from a house and outbuildings
in the valley, lighting up the  ground around and showing that a
great crowd was gathered on the road there.

"How many should you say there were, MacIntosh?"

"I should put them at four or five thousand."

"Yes, they are certainly not short of four thousand. What wild
looking figures! They are just the same in  appearance as those
who attacked Madame de Blenfoix's chateau. See, they are lighting
torches, and I  expect they mean to make an attack at once. Their
guns are with that group in the rear of the others; at any  rate
they will not be of any use in assisting them to make their way
up this road. They are evidently  working themselves up to a state
of madness. There are half a dozen fellows addressing them from
various  points."

The men who had been brought down to guard the intrenchments
at the head of the road were all armed  with muskets, and carried
in addition long pikes. Presently a roar of shouts and yells was
heard, and then  there was a rush on the part of the crowd towards
the foot of the long ascent.

Hector moved to the place where the tenants were posted.

"Do not hurl a single stone down until I give you the word, nor
light the cressets; the torches they carry will  be quite sufficient
for us to make them out, and the attack will be all the more
successful if it comes as a  surprise."

Then he returned to the breastwork. The men here had been posted by
MacIntosh eight abreast. When the  head of the column of insurgents
were halfway up the hill they opened a scattered fire; they had
armed  themselves with the muskets they had taken from the troops.

"Their guns will be of little use to them, for few of them can
ever have had firearms in their hands before;  do not fire a shot,
MacIntosh, until I give the order. It is clear that someone must
have told them that we  have thrown up this intrenchment today, or
they would not have wasted their ammunition."

Not a shot was fired until the leaders of the peasants were within
forty yards. Up to this time no torches had  been shown in the
intrenchments, but now these were suddenly brought forward, and
Hector, in his helmet  and body armour, mounted on to the breastwork.
The head of the column paused on seeing a row of  levelled muskets
and three rows of pikes forming a hedge of steel.

"My men," Hector shouted in a loud clear voice, "halt, I beseech you,
before harm comes to you! I know  that you have sore grievances, I
know that you and your wives and families are well nigh famishing, but
how do you think that you will better your condition by assaulting
castles and burning down chateaux? You  are but preparing labour
for yourselves and heaping up fresh imposts on your own heads, for
it is you who  will have to rebuild them, it is you who will have
to pay for the damage that you have done. At any rate,  none can
say that you have cause for enmity against me and mine, for I have
done all in my power to  mitigate the sufferings of my people, and
the proof is that not one of them has joined you. The taxes that
press so heavily upon you are not the work of your feudal lords,
they are caused by the necessity for  defending France against the
assaults of foreign enemies, and were every noble in the land slain
it would  still be necessary that these taxes should be collected,
unless France is to be overrun by the Spaniards and  Austrians.
I would fain abstain from spilling one drop of your blood, but I
must defend myself if you  attack me, and I warn you that, numerous
as you are, you will not succeed in capturing my castle. I am a
soldier of France, and as I have shed my blood in defending her
against her enemies, so if you persist I shall  not hesitate in
shedding yours in my own defence. I implore you to disperse to your
homes; even if you  gain successes for a time, it would but draw
down vengeance upon you."

The assailants had paused when he commenced to speak, and those
in front had listened to his words, but  those behind, not knowing
what was going on, continued to shout and to press up the hill. As
he finished  speaking there was a yell of defiance, and the column
rushed forward.

"Aim low," Hector shouted as he leapt down among his men, "fire!"
Eight muskets flashed out. "Second  line, fire!  Now handle your
pikes, the rear lines will reserve their fire."

Although ten or twelve of the leading rank of the insurgents
had fallen, there was no pause among the  others, and they rushed
forward to the hedge of pikes.

"Take charge here, MacIntosh; I will run and get the stones at
work." In half a minute he stood by the side  of the tenants.

"Heave then down!" he said. He had chosen a spot where the rock
rose perpendicularly above the road.  "Drop them over," he said,
"so that they may fall straight. The biggest you must roll over
with your levers,  but work them to the edge and let them topple
over; don't thrust them out or they will bound over the road.  Now!"

Twenty rocks were dropped down together. Even above the din of
shouting the crash as they fell below was  heard, followed instantly
by yells and cries.

"Move farther on and give them another shower," Hector said; and
again the rocks fell on the crowded  causeway. The first volley had
caused a pause -- numbers had been crushed, many of the stones as
they  rolled down the road had carried confusion to those below;
the second volley completed their discomfiture.  Appalled by a
discharge against which they had no shelter and which was wholly
unexpected, those near  whom the stones had fallen turned, and in
their panic swept those below them on the road down into the  valley,
many being overthrown and trampled to death. Ignorant of what was
going on behind them, the  crowd above the spot where the stones
had fallen were still pressing upward, those in front hewing with
their scythes and axes at the pikeheads.

Hector ran back there. "The two rear ranks will now fire!" he said.

The men dropped their pikes, and two volleys of musketry were poured
into the insurgents. Those of the  front line were swept away by
the fire, and for a moment the whole recoiled.

"Now, men," Hector shouted, "cross the breastwork and sweep them
away with your pikes!"

With a cheer the men leapt over the embankment.  There was room for
ten abreast, and in a treble line with  levelled spears they bore
down upon the rebels. The charge was irresistible. A few of the
leaders of the  peasants threw themselves on to the spears and
died there, the others strove, but in vain, to fly. Their  comrades
behind, ignorant of what was going on, still pressed up, and it
was not until the screams and  shouts of those in front, and the
pressure downwards, brought the column to a stand and then bore
it  backward, that they learned that the defenders had taken the
offensive, and were sweeping all before them.  Then a panic arose,
and the peasants rushed down the road, the tenants above saluting
them as they passed  with another volley of rocks.  Halfway down
the hill Hector halted his men, and led them up to the  intrenchment
again over a road encumbered with dead bodies.

"I think that will do," he said. "After the tale those who have
got down safely will have to tell, we may be  sure they will do
nothing until morning, and it may well be that they may think it
advisable to be off to  attack some other place not so strongly
defended. However, we will presently beat them up, and if possible
capture their cannon, and without them they could not hope to take
any fortified house well defended."

For a time there was a prodigious din in the valley, sounds of men
shouting and quarrelling, of others trying  in vain to make their
voices heard, and to address the excited peasants. In an hour it
quieted down, and by  midnight all was still. Hector had been busy
with his preparations.

"How many horses have we?" he asked.

"Well nigh a hundred, colonel."

"That is more than enough. Now, MacIntosh, do you and the men here
go down the road and pitch the  bodies over; we should never get
the horses over them."

Then he went to where the tenants were still waiting.  "Now, my
lads," he said, "I want a big gap made in  one of these walls we
built today, wide enough for a horse to pass through it, and strong
planks laid across  the fosse." Then he ascended the ladder up to
the battlements. He found the baroness and her daughter standing
over the gateway.

"Is all over?" they asked, as he came up to them.

"Yes, for the present. We have beaten them handsomely, and without
the loss of a single man."

"Will they attack again in the morning, do you think?"

"I feel sure that they will not do so. You see, they relied upon
their cannon for taking the chateau, and they  find they are useless.
I am going to make a sortie before daybreak, for I want to capture
those cannon. So  long as they hold them they will continue their
work, and they may not always meet with so stout a  resistance.
The loss of their cannon will dishearten them, as well as lessen
their power for evil. I shall take  every man who can carry arms,
and leave ten at the breastwork to defend it; but there is no
chance whatever  of their attempting to come up here while we are
attacking them, so you need have no fear."

"We shall not be afraid, Colonel Campbell, our confidence in you is
absolute; but do you not think that you  are running a great risk
in attacking a force some forty times as large as your own?"

"One cannot call it a force, it is simply a mob, and a mob that
has suffered a terrible repulse, and the loss of  three or four
hundred men tonight. We shall take them by surprise. I am going to
mount all the tenants.  MacIntosh tells me that they have all been
drilled as cavalry as well as infantry. He, with the twenty men
of  the regular garrison on foot and ten of the tenants, will make
straight for the guns. I shall be with the  horsemen, and as soon
as we have scattered the mob, we will harness the horses to the guns
and bring them  up here, so that I shall strengthen the castle as
well as weaken the peasants."

The tenants were all informed of what was going to be done.

"It will be to your benefit as well as ours," he said, "for you
may be sure that in the morning, if they give up  the idea of again
attacking us, they will scatter all over the estates and sack and
burn every house, whereas  if we succeed in dispersing them, no
small portion of them will at once scatter to their homes, and the
rest  will take care not to come near this neighbourhood again."

At twelve o'clock MacIntosh sent a man to say that the road down
was clear, and that three hundred and  twenty dead bodies had been
thrown over. At three o'clock in the morning the horses, round
whose hoofs  pieces of sacking had been tied, were led across the
fosse. One of MacIntosh's sergeants was put in charge  of the ten
men who were to remain at the intrenchment, the castle being left
entirely in the hands of the  women and boys. The mounted tenants
were eighty in number, all carrying long spears and swords.  The
torches had long since burnt out, and each man leading his horse
went noiselessly down the road,  MacIntosh with the footmen leading
the way. They halted at the bottom of the road. There was no sound
from the spot where the insurgents were lying a couple of hundred
yards down the valley, fatigued by a  very long march on the
previous day, and the exertion of dragging the cannon, for only a
few of these were  horsed. Presently the day began to break, but
not until it became light enough to see perfectly, did Hector  give
the order to mount, and leaping into the saddle prepared to lead
them.

The mounted men had been divided into four bands of twenty each.
Paolo and the three troopers each took  the command of a party.
Hector's orders were: "Keep together until the peasants are in full
flight, then  separate in pursuit.  The movement must be put down
or the whole province will be ruined, therefore give  no quarter,
and pursue until your horses are tired, then return here. Now,
MacIntosh, do you advance  straight upon the guns; it is probable
that they are all loaded, therefore carry them with a rush. The
moment  we see you engaged we will charge."

The horsemen were in single line, extending from side to side of
the valley. Hector kept his eye upon  MacIntosh's party. They were
close to the guns before any of the sleepers awoke. Then there
was a sudden  shout, and numbers of the men rushed to the cannon.
MacIntosh was there as soon as they were, and  pouring in a volley
rushed upon the guns.  At the same moment Hector gave the word to
charge, and with  levelled spears the horsemen rode down into the
midst of the crowd. Appalled by this sudden attack, which  was wholly
unexpected, the resistance was but slight. Many of the peasants
at once threw away their arms  and fled. Those who resisted were
speared or overthrown by the horses. As the valley widened the four
troops separated a little, each cutting a way for itself through
the peasants. It was no longer a fight; and a  wild panic seized
upon the whole of the insurgents. Some rushed straight down the
valley, others ran up the  opposite hillside; but the slope here
was gradual, and the horsemen were able to pursue.

"Paolo, take your troop up the hill. Let the others keep straight
down the valley." And, heading these,  Hector galloped on, shouting
to MacIntosh to harness what teams there were to some of the guns
and take  them up to the top of the road, and then bring the horses
back for some more.

For two hours the pursuit continued. Occasionally a group of
peasants gathered together and tried to stem  the tide, but these
were speedily overcome, the long spears bearing them down without
their being able to  strike a blow at the riders, and at the end
of that time the insurgents were scattered over a wide extent of
country, all flying for their lives. Hector now ordered trumpets to
sound; he was soon joined by the other  troops, and at a leisurely
pace they rode back to their starting point. Not more than half
the guns had as yet  been taken up, for MacIntosh had found it
necessary to put double teams to them in order to drag them up  the
steep road. The mounted men had all brought ropes with them, and,
dismounting, eight yoked their  horses to each gun, and in an hour
the whole were brought up to the plateau, the drawbridge was lowered,
the sacks of earth cleared away, and the portcullis raised, the
gates thrown open, and the garrison filed into  the courtyard,
greeted by cries of welcome from the women.

"I think that we have crushed the insurrection in this part of
Poitou," Hector said to Madame de Blenfoix.  "We have certainly
killed six or seven hundred of them, and I am sure that the remainder
will never rally.  We will rest today, and tomorrow morning we will
set to work to complete the defences of the chateau, so  that it
may be held by a comparatively small number of men."

The joy of the women was extreme when they found that not a single
man had fallen, though a few had  received gashes more or less
severe. The next morning the whole of the men and boys set to work
under  Hector's directions. The intrenchment at the top of the road
was greatly strengthened, an opening through  which a cart could
pass being left in the middle.

A gun was placed on each side of this, and twenty sacks of earth
laid down by the side of the opening, so  that this in the course
of a few minutes could be closed, and a gun placed close by run
into position  between the other two. The greater part of the men,
however, were employed in raising a mound of stones  and earth in
front of the gateway, so as to cover this from the fire of any guns
which, after the outward  intrenchment had been stormed, might be
brought up on to the plateau. The women, and even the children,
assisted in the work by carrying earth, while men, with the horses
and carts, brought stones up from the  valley.

It took a fortnight's hard work before the outwork was completed.
It was twenty feet high, triangular in  form, and solid in
construction. Many of the tenants were accustomed to stonework;
and while the rest of  the bastion was constructed of rough stones
mixed with earth, a parapet four feet thick, of roughly dressed
stones, was carried along on the crest of the two outward sides.
Four guns were mounted here; the rest of  the cannon were placed on
the outer wall instead of the honeycombed guns before in position,
and the  castle was thus prepared to stand a regular siege.

Hector remained for a week after the work was completed, paid the
tenants liberally for the services they  had rendered, and dismissed
them to their homes, for the terrible blow that had been inflicted
upon them  had so cowed the peasants that order had been completely
restored in that part of Poitou. Then, after taking  an affectionate
adieu of Madame de Blenfoix and her daughter, he rode back to Paris,
where he remained  for two months.

At the end of that time, being heartily tired of the frivolity
and intrigues, and disgusted at the immorality of  the court, he
obtained leave from Mazarin to rejoin his regiment, as the campaign
might be expected to  open shortly again. The cardinal had warmly
congratulated him upon the suppression of the insurrection in
Poitou, of which he had received full details from his agents long
before Hector reached Paris.

"I have always exhorted the officers and the troops engaged in
putting down these risings to spill no more  blood than is absolutely
necessary. But it needed a great lesson, such as you have given
them. Otherwise, as  soon as the troops were withdrawn the peasants
would rise again."

Turenne had also been in Paris, and had strongly represented
to Mazarin the necessity for the armies of  France and Sweden in
Germany acting together, since while they were acting separately,
and at great  distances apart, the Austrians and Bavarians could unite
and crush the one, while the other could offer it no  assistance.
It was owing to this that the conquests made by the troop of France
and Weimar had been  repeatedly wrested from them. The cardinal
listened to his advice, and determined to bring about a union  between
the two armies of the confederation. In the meantime a conference
was going on at Munster  between the representatives of the various
conflicting powers, but each put forward such exorbitant  demands
that no progress was made.

The Duke of Bavaria, indignant at the small support that Austria
had given him, was playing off France  against the latter power.
Mazarin was persuaded that he was only waiting for an opportunity
to desert the  Imperialist cause, and therefore ordered Turenne not
to cross the Rhine, as the duke had promised that he  would remain
neutral unless the French advanced into Germany, when the feelings
of his subjects might  force him to take the field again on the
side of Austria.

Turenne was therefore ordered to besiege Luxembourg.  The marshal,
however, had no belief in the  Bavarian promises, and on arriving
on the Rhine early in April, and seeing that were he to march with
his  army away to Luxembourg the cause of France and Germany would
be lost, he continued to make various  excuses for not moving,
until the Duke of Bavaria, having obtained many concessions from
Austria, threw  off the mask, and marching with his army joined
that of the emperor in Franconia. Thus the whole Imperial  forces
were posted between the French and the Swedes.

Turenne saw that his only hope of success would be to effect a
juncture with the Swedes, and wrote to the  cardinal to that effect;
then, without waiting for an answer, he set his army in motion.
A tremendous circuit  had to be made. He forded the Moselle six
leagues above Coblenz, the bridges over the Rhine being all in
possession of the enemy, marched up into Holland, and obtained
permission from the king to cross at  Wesel, which he reached after
fourteen days' march.  Crossing the Rhine on the 15th of July he
marched  through the country of La Mark, and through Westphalia,
and on the 10th of August joined the Swedes  under General Wrangel,
who had received news of his coming, and had intrenched himself
so strongly that  the enemy, who had arrived before him, did not
venture to attack him. The enemy now fell back at once  and encamped
near Freiburg.  Their army was superior in force to that of the
allies, they having fourteen  thousand horse and ten thousand foot,
while the allies had but ten thousand horse and seven thousand
foot.  The allies had, however, sixty pieces of cannon against fifty
of the Imperialists. The allies advanced to  Freiburg and offered
battle, but the Archduke Leopold, who commanded the Imperialists,
declined to come  out of the great intrenchments he had thrown up
round his camp.

Turenne then marched towards the Maine, and, halting ten leagues
from Mayence, sent for the infantry, of  which he had left a portion
there, to join him. The whole force of the allies was now united,
and took many  towns. As, however, they were still inferior in
force to the Imperialists, Turenne refused to weaken himself  by
placing garrisons in these places, contenting himself with blowing
up the fortifications of some and  carrying off the principal
inhabitants of others as hostages. The Imperialist army still
remained inactive,  and Turenne was able therefore to turn his
attention to Bavaria. Crossing the Rhine at Donauwurth he  besieged
Augsburg and Rain. The latter place was captured, but the former,
being reinforced by fifteen  hundred men, held out stoutly, and it
was necessary to open trenches and proceed in regular form against
it.   The Duke of Bavaria, greatly alarmed at this invasion
of his dominions, sent off message after message to  the emperor,
complaining of the manner in which the Imperial army remained
inactive, leaving the allies to  employ their whole force against
him. He threatened that unless the army advanced at once to his
assistance  he would make terms with France. Imperative orders
were thereupon sent to the archduke to move against  the French.
The allies fell back, as his force was greatly superior to theirs,
and the archduke took up a  strong position, intending to force the
allies to retire into Franconia as soon as the country round them
was  exhausted.

Turenne and Wrangel divined his purpose, and although it was now
the beginning of November and snow  was on the ground, they marched
against him. On arriving near his camp they found that it was
strongly  fortified, and could be attacked only by passing behind
great marshes and defiles. Changing their  intentions, they left
two thousand horse in front of his camp, making believe that they
intended to attack  him, then marched with all haste to the Lech
and advanced against Landsberg, which they took by assault.  In
the city were the principal magazines of the Imperialist army, and
the allies, finding sufficient provisions  there to last for six
months, encamped round the city and decided to winter there unless
attacked, in the  meantime sending out bodies of cavalry, which
levied contributions up to the very gates of Munich.  Leopold, thus
deprived of his magazines, retired with the Austrian contingent,
and the Bavarians returned  home.

The Duke of Bavaria, finding that his whole dominions would be
captured unless he made terms, therefore  opened negotiations, and
on the 14th of March, 1646, peace was signed, the terms being that
he should  separate himself entirely from the empire and deliver
five of his fortresses to the allies, who would thus,  should he
again break his word, have means of access into his dominions. The
allied forces were now in a  condition to march upon Vienna. They
had during the winter plundered a large portion of Bavaria; they
and  their horses had recovered from their fatigue, and their force
now amounted to fourteen thousand foot and  twenty thousand horse.
At this moment, when the Imperialists believed that all was lost,
for without the  assistance of Bavaria they could put no army in
the field that could hope to make head against the allies,  Mazarin
interposed and saved Austria from destruction.

The Catholic powers had long been privately urging upon him the
danger that would arise should Austria  be crushed. The Swedes would
acquire very large accessions of territory, the Protestant German
princes,  their allies, would similarly benefit, and Protestantism
would become the dominant religion in Germany.  Such would, indeed,
have undoubtedly been the case had the allies marched to Vienna
and dictated terms of  peace there. An order was therefore sent to
Turenne to march with his army to Flanders, where the  Spaniards
were gaining great advantages, as Enghien, now become Prince of
Conde by the death of his  father, had been sent into Catalonia
with the greater portion of his army.  Turenne, foreseeing that his
German regiments would refuse to march to Flanders, leaving their
own country open to invasion and  plunder by the Imperialists,
warmly opposed the plan, and sent messenger after messenger to
the cardinal  urging him to countermand the order. The friends of
Bavaria and the Catholic princes urged strongly upon  the queen
that the continuance of the war would utterly destroy the Catholic
religion in Germany, and that  the Swedes alone would reap advantage
from the fall of the house of Austria. Moved by their arguments
and those of Mazarin to the same effect, she supported the latter,
and peremptory orders were sent to  Turenne to march to Flanders,
where matters were going from bad to worse. Turenne obeyed them,
captured on his march towards the Rhine several towns and fortresses,
destroying their fortifications so that  they would not be able to
oppose him if he returned to Germany. But on arriving on the Rhine
his  anticipations of trouble were fulfilled.  General Rosen,
whose blunder had been the cause of the disaster at  Marienthal,
and who had since his return from captivity persistently worked
in opposition to Turenne,  fomented discontent among the troops of
Weimar, and directly they crossed the Rhine they absolutely  refused
to advance. They had just cause for complaint; they had fought with
distinguished valour, and they  alone had saved the French army from
suffering crushing defeat at Nordlingen; their pay was six months
in  arrear, and the proposal now that they should leave their own
country and fight in Flanders was naturally  most repugnant to them.
They at once marched away towards Strasburg. Turenne followed them
with three  thousand infantry, four French regiments of horse, and
the only one of the Weimar cavalry that had  remained faithful to
him, and came up just as they were about to recross the Rhine.

Partly by entreaties, partly by showing his confidence in them,
by putting himself wholly in their power,  the marshal induced
a portion of the Weimar cavalry to return to their duty. General
Rosen, who was to a  large extent responsible for the mutiny, was
arrested and imprisoned at Philippsburg, the rest of the  mutineers
rode away with the loss of a portion of their number, and joined
the Swedes. After this the order  for Turenne to march to Flanders
was countermanded.

The war languished for a few months, the Imperialists were defeated
after a hard fought cavalry battle by  Turenne and the Swedes, and
the country was overrun by the latter, whose horsemen raided almost
up to  Innsbruck. But all parties were growing weary of the conflict,
which had now lasted thirty years. It had  inflicted incredible
suffering upon all who were concerned in it, and had produced no
important results  whatever, except that it had prevented the entire
crushing out of Protestantism in Germany, and the peace  conference
for the first time began to work in earnest.

At last, after Bavaria had been wasted from end to end, and the
duke driven into exile, peace was  concluded, the emperor yielding
every point demanded by France, as he saw plainly enough that unless
he  did so Turenne's army would be at the gates of Vienna at the
commencement of the next campaign, and in  October, 1648, hostilities
ceased.  Turenne went to Munster and acted as the French negotiator
in arranging  the peace, to which his genius, steadfast determination,
and the expenditure of his own means, by which he  had kept the
army on foot, had so largely contributed.



CHAPTER XX:  AN OLD SCORE


Hector was not present with the army during the last three campaigns
of the war. He had joined Turenne in  April, 1646, and shared in
the general disappointment when the order was received that the
army was not to  cross the Rhine, because Bavaria had promised to
remain neutral if it did not do so.

"I cannot think," the marshal said to him a day or two after
he received the order -- for he had always  maintained the same
pleasant relations with Hector that had subsisted between them in
Italy, and placed the  most entire confidence in the discretion of
the young colonel -- "how Mazarin can allow Bavaria to  hoodwink
him. Indeed, I cannot believe that he is really deceived; he must
know that that crafty old fox the  duke is not to be relied upon in
any way, and that he is merely trying to save time. 'Tis hard indeed
to see us  powerless to move, now that the season for campaigning
is just opening, and when by advancing we could  cut the Bavarians
off from Austria. As to besieging Luxembourg, it would be but a
waste of time, for  before we could open a trench we should hear
that the duke has again declared against us, and we should  have
to hurry back with all speed."

It was, indeed, but a fortnight later that the news came that the
Bavarians were on the move to join the  Imperialists, and a fortnight
later it was known that the two armies had effected their junction.
Turenne at  once collected his troops from the towns and villages
where they were placed, and marched to Mayence.

"I am going to send you to Paris, Campbell," he said on the evening
of their arrival there. "All is lost if the  enemy, now united,
throw themselves upon the Swedes, and I have resolved to take upon
myself the  responsibility of marching round through Holland and
joining Wrangel. There is, of course, risk in such an  expedition,
and the cardinal may object very strongly to my undertaking such
a movement, especially as it  will leave the frontier of France
virtually unguarded, but I have no fear that evil consequences will
arise.  The enemy will not hear of my march until ten days after
I have started, and even then they will probably  suppose that we
have gone to Flanders. By the time they find out what my intentions
are, it will be too late  for them to take advantage of my absence.

"Even then they would have to storm Philippsburg or some other
strong place before they could cross the  Rhine, and before they
could do that Wrangel and I would be at their heels. Moreover, as
they would know  that, instead of pursuing them, we might, after
effecting a junction, make straight for Vienna, and that no  army
could be got together to oppose us, I consider that the movement
is a perfectly safe one. Now, I am  going to send you to Mazarin
with my despatch telling him of my intention. I am choosing you
for the  purpose, because you will be able to explain and enforce
the reasons that I have given him. He has a high  opinion of you,
and will listen to you when perhaps he would not pay any regard to
Rosen or any other of  these Weimar officers I might send. Remember
that there is no occasion for extreme hurry," and he smiled.  "Of
course it is necessary that you should travel with a certain amount
of speed, but do not founder your  horse. Every day is of value
to me, and if I am once well on my way north Mazarin could hardly
recall me.

"Say that you take five days to get to Paris, by that time I should be
north of Cologne, and a courier from  Mazarin can hardly overtake
me until I am in Holland, I should then feel justified in disregarding
the order,  seeing that I should by pushing on effect a junction
with the Swedes quite as quickly as I could return here.  Of course
it would be too late for you to overtake me, and I shall give you
a written order to remain in Paris  until I am again so near the
Rhine that you can join your regiment. I consider that it will be
an advantage to  have you near the cardinal, as, knowing my intentions
and methods as you do, you would be able to so  explain matters to
him that he will understand the reasons for my various movements."

"Very well marshal, I am ready to start as soon as you hand me the
despatch."

"I will do that tomorrow morning, and you will then be able to tell
Mazarin that we were just setting out  when you left us."

"As it will be some time before I shall rejoin my regiment, may
I ask you to appoint Captain de Thiou as  second colonel?  He has
now served as senior captain of the regiment for three years. He
aided me heartily  and cordially in organizing it. He has seconded
me throughout in a manner of which I cannot speak too  highly, and
distinguished himself greatly at Freiburg, and on every occasion
in which we have been in  contact with the enemy. I think it very
desirable that there should be an officer of rank superior to the
others  while I am away; and both for the sake of the regiment, and
as a reward for the merit and conduct of  Captain de Thiou himself,
I should be very glad were he promoted and should feel that the
regiment would  in no way deteriorate during my absence."

"Certainly, Campbell, I will carry out your recommendation. He
has fairly earned his promotion, and as  you say, it is better in
your absence that the regiment should be led by an officer of rank
above the others,  and not by a captain having but a very slight
seniority to some of them.  Doubtless you will be saying  goodbye
to the officers tonight.  I authorize you to inform de Thiou that
he will be placed in orders  tomorrow morning as second colonel of
the regiment."

"I did not think that we were likely to be back in Paris before
next winter, master," Paolo said rather  discontentedly when Hector
told him that they were to start early next morning.

"Nor did I, Paolo, and I should very much rather have remained with
the regiment; but as the marshal is  good enough to consider that
my presence there may be of advantage to him, I have of course
nothing to  say against it."

There was great regret among the officers when they heard that their
colonel was not going to lead them,  but all were pleased that de
Thiou, who was a general favourite, had obtained promotion. That
officer was  at once surprised and gratified at the news, for it
was not often that men without strong family interest rose  to the
rank of colonel.

"I know that this is your doing," he said gratefully. "I never
expected to get above my present rank, and I  am sure that I should
never have done so had it not been for you."

"You thoroughly deserve it, de Thiou, for it was by your support
that I was enabled, when I first joined, to  introduce reforms,
and get the officers to take upon themselves more work and
responsibilities, and thus  make the regiment what it is. I hope
I shall rejoin before the end of the campaign.  This may be the
last, for  now that they have begun the peace conference at Munster,
something must surely come of it sooner or  later, for all parties
must be thoroughly sick of this long and terrible war, which has
ruined Germany and  impoverished France, and from which neither
party, after nigh thirty years of fighting, has gained any  material
advantage. At any rate it will be a great satisfaction to me to know
that the regiment is in your  hands. I know that during the time
that I have been away this winter things have gone on satisfactorily;
but  it is clearly impossible for an officer to keep a regiment
well in hand when, as in your case, your  appointment was only a
day or two earlier than that of some of the others. You are likely
to have some stiff  marching now, for only one other infantry
regiment besides ours will accompany the cavalry, the rest will
remain here until they get an opportunity of rejoining. Of course
I shall take Paolo and my four mounted  troopers back with me to
Paris. I may probably send them on to la Villar, as it is not likely
that I shall need  them at court."

On the evening of the fifth day after leaving Mayence Hector arrived
in Paris, and alighted at the cardinal's  hotel.

"So you are again a bearer of despatches, Monsieur Campbell," the
cardinal said, as Hector entered his  apartment. "They need be
important, or the marshal would hardly have sent you with them."

"They are, as you will see, important, your eminence, but I am sent
rather to explain further than the  marshal could do in a letter
his reasons for the step that he has taken.  As you have learned
long before this,  the Duke of Bavaria has proved false to his
promises. He has effected a junction with the Imperialist army,
and the marshal has news that both are marching against the Swedes,
who are in no strength to show fight  against so great a force."

The cardinal opened the despatch, and read it in silence.

"'Tis a grave step for the marshal to have taken without orders,"
he said, frowning; "and do you mean to say  that he has already
started on this expedition?"

"The troops had fallen into their ranks when I started, and by
this time they must be well on their way  towards Holland. There
was no time, sir, for the marshal to await a reply to the despatch.
The matter was  most urgent, every day was of importance, for if
the Swedes fell back, as they might do, before the  archduke, the
latter would be able to overrun all northern Germany, to capture
the towns of the Protestant  princes, break up their confederation,
and compel them to give in their submission; for Turenne with his
small force would be powerless to interfere with their operations,
even if by pressing after them with all  speed he arrived within
striking distance."

"And think you that he will reach Wrangel in time?"

"He hopes so, sir. He sent off a messenger before starting, with
orders to buy fresh horses at all cost at each  halting place, to
carry the news as quickly as possible to Wrangel that he was on
his way to join him, and  imploring him to intrench himself in some
strong position until he should come up.

"How long hence will that be?"

"The march will be pressed forward with all speed, your eminence,
with such delays only as may be needed  to keep the horses in such
a state that they may be ready for fighting as soon as they join the
Swedes. He  hopes to be there in a month from the day of starting."

"And in the meantime," Mazarin said, "France is open to invasion.
He says, indeed, that the Imperialists  would hardly venture to
march hitherward, as thereby they in turn would leave it open to
him and the  Swedes to march into the heart of Austria."

"Assuredly that is so, sir. The archduke will hardly get news that
Marshal Turenne has moved until he has  been some ten or twelve
days on his march, and even when he hears it he will not know in
what direction  he has gone, but may think it likely that he either
intends to seize Luxembourg or to reinforce your army in  Flanders.
By the time they discover his true object he will be within a week's
march of the Swedes, possibly  less than that. It will be too late
for them then to think of marching to the Rhine. If they consider
themselves strong enough to fight the marshal and the Swedes together,
they will do so at once; if they fear  to give battle, still more
would they fear to be attacked by him when entering a country where
they would  have him in their rear, and be hemmed in between him
and the Rhine, not to speak of the risk of leaving  Austria open to
invasion, should he, instead of pursuing them, direct his march
thither. If I might presume  to judge, I should say that the expedition
that the marshal has undertaken is at once worthy of his military
genius, and will at the same time do far more to ensure the safety
of the Rhine provinces than he could do  were he to remain there
with his small army until the Imperialists, having chased the
Swedes out of the  country and reduced northern Germany, turned
their whole forces against him."

"I see, Monsieur Campbell," the cardinal said, turning the subject,
"that you have been five days coming  here from Mayence. It is
a very different rate of speed to that at which you traveled from
Rocroi."

"It is so, your eminence; but on that occasion the Duc d'Enghien
had placed relays of his best horses all  along the road, so that
we were enabled to travel without making a halt."

"And moreover, my dear colonel," Mazarin said, "Turenne, far
from urging you to haste, was desirous of  getting so far before
he received my answer as to render it impossible for me to recall
him."

"I cannot think that your eminence would do that. It is a grand
enterprise, and almost without precedent in  point both of daring
and in the great advantages to be gained from it."

"And Turenne thought that by sending you, you would be able to assist
him in persuading me to regard it  favourably.  Well, well, it is
certainly too late to recall him now. He has taken the responsibility
upon  himself, and must stand or fall by the result. And now in the
first place are you going to hurry back again or  are you going to
remain here?"

"My regiment is one of those that he has taken with him, sir, and
as I could not hope to overtake him he has  requested me to remain
here until I receive orders from him."

"We shall be gainers so far," the cardinal said cordially, "and I
am sure that from your knowledge of the  country and of Turenne's
methods your advice upon military matters will be of great service
to us. I must  now go and report to the queen this sudden change
in the situation, and if she disapproves of it I shall tell  her
that if she will but listen to you, you will convert her to the
view that this escapade of the marshal's is  all for the best, and
seems likely indeed to retrieve the position that has been caused
by the treachery of  Bavaria."

During his stay in Paris Hector soon found that intrigue was more
rampant than ever. The Duke of Beaufort  and others who had been
implicated in the plot on Mazarin's life had been pardoned and had
returned to  Paris, and as the lesson that had been given them had
taught them prudence, they were now openly on good  terms with the
court. They were secretly, however, intriguing with the parliament
of Paris, which was now  bitterly opposed to Mazarin, had refused
to register some of his decrees, and had even forced him to  dismiss
his superintendent of finance, an Italian named Emeri. The latter
had imposed taxes at his will to  satisfy his extravagance and
avarice, had raised the octroi duty, made the sale of firewood
a monopoly, and  in various ways had incurred the indignation and
hatred of the Parisians.

Mazarin's own greed had been in no slight degree the cause of his
unpopularity; he who had come to France  a penniless priest was
now the owner of great estates. It was even said that much of the
money that should  have been devoted to the needs of the army had
been privately sent into Italy by him, and throughout the  country
it was felt to be scandalous that while the deepest distress was
universal on account of the weight  of taxation, these two Italians
should be piling up wealth for themselves. But, avaricious as he
was, the  cardinal was lavish in his expenditure among his friends
and adherents; honours, titles, dignities, and  estates were freely
bestowed upon them, and he did not hesitate to pay any sum that
would gain him the  support of those whose aid he deemed to be
essential. Madame de Chevreuse was again at court, and was,  as
she had always been, the centre of the intrigues that were going
on. One evening she made a sign for  Hector to take a place by her
side. She had taken a fancy to the young Scottish colonel on the
evening when  he had been first introduced to her, and was always
gracious to him now.

"Monsieur le baron," she said in a low tone, "do you think that
the air of Paris agrees with you as well as  that of the army?"

He felt from the manner in which she spoke, that she meant more
than she said.

"So far, madam, it has not disagreed with me," he said; "and even
did it do so I should not be able to leave  it, as I have orders
to remain here."

"By the way, monsieur," she said, changing the subject of conversation,
"it is whispered that that party of  pleasure to which you took
the officers of your regiment at St. Germain did not come off, at
least none of  the landlords of the hotels there can recall any
such gathering, and it is even said that your falling in with  the
carriage of the Duke of Orleans was not altogether an accident. I
only mention the reports; of course, it  was a matter of no moment
whether your party dined at St. Germain or at Sevres. But sometimes
misapprehensions of this kind lead to trouble, especially when
they happen a few days before serious  events. I like you, Colonel
Campbell, and that is why I have mentioned this; you understand
me, I have no  doubt;" and, turning to a gentleman who had at that
moment approached her, she entered into a lively  conversation
with him, and Hector rose, and with the words, "Thank you, madam,"
bowed, and moved  away.

It was easy to understand her meaning. Beaufort and the conspirators
whose plan he had thwarted, and who  had suffered imprisonment and
exile thereby, had in some way discovered that it was to him that
they owed  their failure and disgrace. At the moment his explanation
and that of his officers had deceived them, but  doubtless someone
whose connection with the plot was unsuspected had instituted
inquiries, found that the  party he had spoken of had not taken
place, and had at once come to the conclusion that he had in some
way discovered their intentions, had really ridden out with his
officers to furnish a guard to Mazarin, and  had afterwards acquainted
him with what he had discovered. Doubtless, as Madame de Chevreuse
had  warned him, the air of Paris was at present dangerously
unwholesome for him. He had been the means of  bringing disgrace
and punishment upon the Duc de Vendome and the Duke of Beaufort,
two of the most  powerful nobles in France, and a host of their
friends.

It was probable that they only recently assured themselves that
it was he who had thwarted their plans; had  it been otherwise he
would scarcely have escaped their vengeance the last time that he
was in Paris. Now,  from what Madame de Chevreuse had said, he had
no doubt whatever that some plot would be made  against his life.
He might thwart one such attempt, but others would follow. He
resolved to lay the matter  before the cardinal and take his advice.
Accordingly he waited until he was leaving; several gentlemen of
his suite accompanied him, and at the entrance to the Louvre the
men of the cardinal's guard fell in on  either side.  When they
reached Mazarin's hotel Hector moved up to him.

"Can I have a few words with you, your eminence?"

"Certainly, Colonel Campbell; I never retire to bed till long past
midnight. It is something serious, I see," he  said quickly as they
entered his apartment, where a number of candles were burning, and
he obtained a full  view of Hector's face. "Another plot?"

"Not against your eminence; it is a matter which concerns myself
only. I have been warned tonight that my  share in the last affair
has been discovered, that inquiries have been made at St. Germain,
and that the  various innkeepers have declared that no party
of officers dined there that morning, and that it was  therefore
concluded that our presence behind your carriage was not accidental.
They no doubt guessed that  it was I who discovered the plot, in
consequence of which so many were arrested and exiled. I have been
distinctly warned that the air of Paris is unwholesome for me."

"Who warned you?" the cardinal said abruptly.

"It would not be fair of me to mention the name, but it is at any
rate one who is of Beaufort's party."

"Ah!" the cardinal said sharply, "I noticed you sitting for a few
minutes by Madame de Chevreuse. Never  mind, I will respect your
confidence. I can well understand, after what you have said, that
there is great  danger here, and it is a danger from which it is well
nigh impossible to protect you, unless you take up your  residence
here and never stir abroad. Nor do I know that you would be safer
with the army; an assassin's  knife can reach a man as easily in a
camp as in a city, and with perhaps less risk of detection. Neither
Beaufort nor Vendome are men to forget or forgive an injury, and
they have scores of fellows who would  for a few crowns murder anyone
they indicated, and of gentlemen of higher rank who, although not
assassins, would willingly engage you in a duel, especially those
who suffered in the plot that you  discovered. Frankly, what do
you think yourself?"

"I might retire to la Villar, cardinal. I should be safe there in
my own castle."

"So long as you did not leave it; but a man with a musket in ambush
behind a hedge might cut your career  short. It is probable enough
that you are watched, and in that case I should doubt whether you
would ever  get to la Villar, nor do I think that if you left for
the Rhine you would get halfway.  Now you see, Monsieur  Campbell,
that your cause is mine, and that your safety touches me as if it
were my own, for it was in my  service that you incurred the danger.
I must think the matter over. In the meantime I beg of you to sleep
here tonight. I will send word to your servant that you will not
return. I could of course send a guard with  you to your hotel,
but some of the servants there may have been bribed to murder you
as you slept. I can  look after myself; I seldom leave the house
except to go to the Louvre, and I never go even that short  distance
without a guard, but it is much more difficult to protect you."

"I have my own bodyguard, your excellency -- four stout Scotch
soldiers and my lackey, Paolo, who is a  good swordsman also; and
as it does not seem to me that I should be safer elsewhere than
here, I shall at  any rate stay for a time. I should imagine that
the warning was a general one.  They have just found out that  I
had a hand in thwarting their plot against you, and I dare say used
threats; but the threats of angry men  come very often to nothing;
and at any rate, I do not choose that they should obtain the
satisfaction of  driving me from Paris against my will."

The cardinal shook his head. "You see, monsieur, that Beaufort is
a man who hesitates at nothing. A  scrupulous person would hardly
endeavour to slay a cardinal, who is also the minister of France,
in the  streets of Paris in broad daylight. He is capable of burning
down the Pome d'Or, and all within it, in order  to obtain revenge
on you. I feel very uneasy about you. However, sleep may bring
counsel, and we will talk  it over again in the morning."

"Have you thought of anything, Monsieur Campbell?" Mazarin asked
when they met in the morning.

"I have not, sir, save to go on trusting to my own sword and my
followers."

"I can think of nothing," the cardinal said, "save to send an order
to Turenne for two companies of your  regiment to march hither,
where, on their arrival, you will receive orders to proceed with
them to your  castle of la Villar, and to use them in the king's
service in repressing all troubles that may occur in Poitou.  What
say you to that?"

"I would not deprive her majesty of two hundred of her best soldiers
to guard me from what may not be  after all a very real danger.
My own conclusions, after thinking it over this morning, are that
I will remain  here for a time, trusting to my friends and my own
sword. If a serious attempt is made on my life I could  then consider
whether it would be best to withdraw myself, and if so, whither to
go; but I will not run away  merely on a vague hint that my life
is in danger.  I have faced death in battle many times, and this
danger  can hardly be considered as more serious. I imagine that in
the first case some of the duke's followers will  force me into a
duel, before proceeding to try assassination, and although doubtless
he has some good  blades among his friends, I do not think that I
need to feel uneasy on that score. I was always practising  with my
sword as a boy. Since I have been in the army I have spent a good
deal of my time, when in winter  quarters, in such practice with
my own officers, and with any maitres d'armes in the towns where
I have  been, and while in Italy had the opportunity of learning
much, for there are fine fencers there."

"So be it, then," Mazarin said. "But if matters go to extremes,
remember that I consider myself responsible  for you. I believe
that you saved my life, and although there are many things that
men say against me, none  have ever charged me with ingratitude. If
I can protect you in no other way I shall have you arrested, sent
to  the frontier, that is to say, to the sea frontier, and put on
board ship and sent to England or Scotland, as you  choose, with
a chest containing a sum that will suffice to purchase any estate
you may choose there.

"I am in earnest," he went on as Hector was about to answer. "It
is for my own sake as much as yours;  when my friends are attacked
I am attacked, and I am doubly bound in your case. It needs but a
stroke of  my pen to make you a duke and lord of half a province;
and if I cannot do that here, because you would still  be within
reach of your enemies, I can, as far as the estates go, do it for
you abroad. Do not fail to let me  know each day if anything new
takes place."

Hector felt that there was no more to say, and bowing, left
the cardinal's presence and went out.  Paolo and  Macpherson were
waiting outside.

"The cardinal's messenger, who brought the news last night that you
would not return, master," the former  said when he saw by Hector's
look of surprise that he had not expected to see him there, "said
also that I  and one of your men had best be here at eight this
morning and wait until you came out."

"I did not know that he had sent such a message, Paolo, but I will
when we get to the hotel tell you why he  sent it."

The street was somewhat crowded, and Hector had gone but a short
distance when he saw three gentlemen,  who he knew to be intimates
of the Duke of Beaufort, coming in the other direction. One of them
was  Monsieur de Beauvais, who said in a loud tone to his companions
just as Hector was passing:

"That is the Scotchman whom the cardinal employs to do his dirty
business."

Hector faced round at once.  "At any rate, Monsieur de Beauvais,
the Scotchman in question is not  employed by the cardinal as an
assassin, which is an even more dishonourable post."

De Beauvais turned white with anger.  "Behind the Luxembourg in an
hour's time, Monsieur de Villar."

"I shall be there," Hector said coldly.  He paused a minute, after
the three gentlemen, with the customary  salute, walked on. He
did not like to go to the Hotel Mazarin lest the cardinal should
obtain news of what  was going to take place, so he waited in the
neighbourhood, knowing that some of Mazarin's personal  friends would
be sure to arrive about this hour. Presently he saw a colonel who,
like himself, was spending  the winter in Paris, and who frequently
attended the cardinal's levees.

"Colonel de Serres, as a fellow soldier I have a service to ask of
you."

"I am entirely at your disposal, Monsieur Campbell."

"I have just had a quarrel forced upon me by Monsieur de Beauvais,
and I have to meet him in fifty  minutes' time at the back of the
Luxembourg. As he was in company with two gentlemen, the Comte de
Marplat and Monsieur de Vipont, I shall be glad if you would kindly
act as my second, and if you can find  another officer who would
do so, I shall be glad of his services also."

"I shall be glad to support you, Monsieur Campbell, and can lay
my hand on another second at once, for  here comes my friend and
yours, Monsieur Emile de Chavigny, who will, like myself, be charmed
to be  concerned in any affair against the duke's friends."

De Chavigny, whom Hector had seen at the court on the previous day
for the first time since they had  parted in Italy, agreed at once
to Hector's request.

"De Beauvais has the reputation of being a good swordsman, Campbell,"
he said as they walked together  towards the Luxembourg, Paolo and
his companion having now returned to the inn at his master's order;
"but I should say that he will want all his skill now. You were by
far the best swordsman among us when  you left us suddenly in the
south, and doubtless since then your skill will not have fallen
off."

"No, I know a good deal more than I knew then, Chavigny. There were
few days when we were in winter  quarters that I had not an hour's
work in the fencing school with the officers of my regiment, and
whenever  I heard that there was a professor of the art I have never
failed to frequent his salon and to learn his  favourite strokes."

"That is all right, then. We need have no fear whatever as to the
result."

They reached the point fixed upon a minute or two before the clock
struck, and just as it chimed de  Beauvais and his friends made
their appearance. The seconds exchanged a few words and selected a
piece  of ground for the encounter, the principals at once removed
their doublets and faced each other.

"This is a duel a la mort," de Beauvais said in a loud voice.

"For that I am quite prepared," Hector said quietly; "but you are
likely to find, Monsieur de Beauvais, that  it is not so easy a
thing to kill the colonel of one of her majesty's regiments as it
is to stab a churchman in  his carriage."

De Beauvais at once took up his position, and, without the parade
of courtesy that usually preceded an  encounter, fell furiously upon
Hector. The latter did not give way a step. With a wrist of iron he
put aside  half a dozen thrusts, and then lunging, ran de Beauvais
through the body, his sword hilt striking against his  adversary's
chest.

De Beauvais' two seconds ran forward as their principal fell. "He
is dead," one said as they knelt over him.  Then rising he addressed
Hector: "Monsieur le Colonel Campbell," he said, "I claim satisfaction
at your  hands, for I take it that your words applied to me as well
as to de Beauvais, though addressed only to him."

"You may take it so," Hector replied coldly, "for you were also at
that house in the Rue St. Honore on that  occasion you know of."

Hector's two seconds endeavoured to interpose, but he said: "Gentlemen,
I must ask you to let the matter go  on.  This is no ordinary duel.
These gentlemen, with whom I have no personal animosity, have
picked a  quarrel with me at the request of one higher in rank
than themselves, and are simply his agents. I had no  hesitation
in killing the first of them, but as Monsieur de Vipont wishes an
encounter with me in spite of  what he has seen I will give him
one, but will content myself with a less severe lesson than that
I have  given Monsieur de Beauvais. Now, sir, I am at your service."

De Vipont, knowing now how dangerous an opponent he was meeting,
fought cautiously. Hector, however,  was anxious to finish the matter
before they were interrupted, and therefore took the offensive,
and after  two passes ran his antagonist through the shoulder.

"Now, Monsieur le Comte, do you desire a turn?" he said carelessly.

The count was pale, but he answered steadily, "I claim it by the
same right as Monsieur de Vipont."

"Agreed," Hector said; and as soon as the count had removed his
upper garments they engaged.

The swords had scarcely clashed when the count's weapon was wrenched
from his hand and sent flying for  a distance of twenty paces.

"That is enough," Colonel de Serres said, stepping forward; "you
have done what you thought to be your  duty, Monsieur le Comte,
but it needs very different blades from those of yourself and your
companions to  stand before Colonel Campbell. He had you at his
mercy, and had a right to take your life if he chose; but  as he
refrained from doing that when you had your sword in your hand, he
certainly will not do so now.  Messieurs, we wish you good morning."

"And you may mention," Hector added, "to this person of high rank,
that I shall be happy to accommodate  as many of the gentlemen of
his following as choose to take the matter up."

"He will send no more to you, Campbell," Chavigny said as they
moved off, leaving the count, whose valet  now ran up, to obtain
a vehicle and carry his dead and wounded comrades away.

"No, I fancy not; he will try other means now. The war has only
begun. Men like Lei, Brillet, and the  Campions are not the sort
of men who would act as bravos, even for the Duke of Beaufort, and
I do not  think that he would even venture to propose it to them.
It will be meaner instruments that he will employ  next time.
However, I shall of course go straight to the cardinal and acquaint
him with what has happened. I  doubt not but that he will lay the
matter before the queen, and then that Beaufort will hear of it;
but,  passionate and revengeful as he is, I think that he will not
be turned from his purpose, even if he knows that  he may be forced
to retire to his estates, or even leave the country till the matter
blows over."



CHAPTER XXI:  THE DUKE'S REVENGE

The cardinal listened gravely to Hector's account of the duel, and
of the circumstances that gave rise to it.

"I will go at once to the Louvre and appeal to her majesty," he
said; "you know how warmly she spoke to  you on the day when you
saved my life. Still, I fear that the sternest reproof, or even
an order to retire to his  estates, would not turn him from his
purpose."

"I am sure of it, your eminence; still, as I have proved victor in
the first battle in the campaign I will bide a  second."

"Mind that you do not get stabbed in the back, colonel."

"I will beware of that, sir; whenever I walk the streets in future
Paolo shall keep a pace behind me, and I  warrant that he will
protect me from any attempt of that sort."

"At any rate remain here until I return from the Louvre."

In an hour Mazarin returned. "The duke has been beforehand with
us," he said. "When I told the queen of  what had happened, and
why this quarrel had been fastened upon you, she sent at once for
the duke, and  drew out an order, which I signed, for him to retire
at once to his estates; but the royal messenger returned  with
the news that he had half an hour before ridden away to visit his
father at Vendome. A courier will  start at once with the order,
but I doubt whether he will be found there. It is probable that
he has gone to  one of his own estates, and it may be some time
before we find out where he is. However, it is something  that he
has gone."

On his return to the inn Hector told Paolo what had taken place.

"It is a pity that you did not kill them all, master."

"Not at all, Paolo; had I done so every one of their friends would
have been set against me. Both these men  are of good families,
and will doubtless report that I had their lives at my mercy and
spared them, and after  that no gentleman of reputation would take
the matter up. I shall have to be very careful in future, but now
that the duke has gone there is not likely to be any further trouble
just at present."

Paolo shook his head. "Nay, master, I think the danger all the
greater. In the first place, we do not know  that he has gone. I
think it far more likely that he is hiding in the house of one of
his friends. He has  pretended to leave because he was sure the
cardinal would take the matter up, and in order that, if he is
absent from Paris when any harm befell you, it could not be brought
home to him. I do not suppose that  next time he will employ any
of his own people. He is most popular among the mob of Paris, who
call him  the King of the Markets, and he will have no difficulty
in getting as many daggers as he wishes from the  scum of the
faubourgs. It would be difficult in the extreme to prove that he
had aught to do with it, for you  may be sure that he would really
go down into the country with all speed the moment the deed was
done.

"In future, master, you must not go out without having me close
behind you; as for the others, I would put  them in ordinary citizen
garb, and let them follow some twenty yards behind, so as to be in
readiness to run  up at once. They could carry swords openly, and
have their pistols hidden under their doublets."

"It might be as well, at any rate for the present. If, as you think,
Beaufort is hidden in Paris, it is certain he  will lose no time."

Paolo nodded.  "I will get the men disguises at once. They had better
be different; Macpherson can be  dressed as a soldier, Nicholl as
a burgher, and Sandy Grahame and Hunter as rough mechanics. They,
of  course, could not carry swords, but might take heavy cudgels.
They would not walk together, or seem to  have any knowledge of
each other. Sandy might be ten paces behind you, Nicholl twenty,
and the others  thirty, or where the street is wide they could keep
abreast of you on the other side. Are you going to the  Louvre this
evening?"

"Yes, the cardinal said that the queen wished that I should appear
there. I would much rather have stayed  away, as doubtless the affair
behind the Luxembourg will be generally known by this evening, and
I shall  feel my position a very unpleasant one, though I imagine
that the queen intends, by her countenance of me,  to show that I
have not fallen into disgrace for duelling."

Such was indeed the case. All eyes were turned upon Hector when he
entered the royal saloon. Many of  Mazarin's friends came up and
shook hands with him warmly, while the adherents of Beaufort and
Vendome stood aloof from him with angry faces. Presently the door
opened, and the queen, closely  followed by Mazarin and a train of
ladies and gentlemen, entered.

As she passed Hector she stopped. "Monsieur le Baron de la Villar,"
she said in clear tones, which were  heard all over the apartment,
"much as I object to duelling, and determined as I am to enforce
the edicts  against it, I feel that in the encounter this morning
you were in no way to blame, and that it was forced  upon you. It
is scandalous that one who has so bravely shed his blood and risked
his life in defence of  France should be assailed in the capital,
and for what reason? Because he proved faithful to the queen and
her minister. You have punished the chief of the aggressors, and
I shall know how to punish those who  stood behind him;" and with
a gracious bow in response to his deep reverence she moved on.

The little speech created a deep sensation among the courtiers.
That the queen herself should so publicly  give her countenance to
this young Scottish gentleman, and should -- for no one doubted to
whom she  alluded -- even threaten one of the most powerful nobles
in the land, showed how strongly she felt. No one,  with the
exception of half a dozen persons, understood her allusion to the
service that he had rendered to  her and the cardinal, but all felt
that it must be something altogether exceptional. Many of the nobles
who  belonged neither to the party of Beaufort nor the cardinal
came up and congratulated him.

He received these signs of the impression that the queens' words
had conferred upon him quietly.

"I am very sorry for what has occurred," he said. "I have killed
many in battle, but this is the first time that I  have killed
anyone in a private quarrel. It was not one of my seeking, but I
am none the less sorry."

As he passed near Madame de Chevreuse, she made a gesture to him
to come to her. "You did not accept  my warning," she said sadly.
"Remember, a storm is not past because the first flash of lightning
does not  strike."

"I am well aware of that, madam; I thank you for your warning, but
I am bound here by my duties as a tree  is bound to the earth by
its roots, and neither can move at will to escape a storm passing
overhead."

"Should I hear of any fresh danger, Monsieur Campbell," she said
in a low voice, "I will have you informed  of it, but it is more
probable that I shall not know. Were it a state secret I should
surely hear of it, but in a  matter like this none save those
concerned would be likely to know of it until it was over. Be
always on  your guard night and day, you cannot tell when the bolt
may fall;" and she motioned to him to pass on  again. As before,
Hector accompanied the cardinal as far as his hotel, then he went
towards his own  lodgings, Paolo, with his hand on his dagger,
keeping a pace behind him, while the four troopers followed  one
by one at a distance. The streets were almost deserted until, just
as they approached the inn, a number  of rough men rushed out from
side alleys and doorways. Hector had just time to throw himself
with his  back to a house and draw his sword.  Paolo's knife had
levelled the first man who approached, and then  drawing his sword
he took his place by the side of his master. The ruffians stood
round, each anxious to be  the first to strike, and yet fearful
of meeting the sword that had, as they had heard, mastered three
gentlemen.

"Run in at him, fools!" a man in a cloak, with his hat pulled down
over his eyes, and keeping in the rear of  the others, shouted.

Before his orders could be carried out there was a sudden movement,
and four men burst through them and  joined Hector. The assailants
hesitated.

But again the man behind shouted:  "Cowards, there are but six of
them, and you are five-and-twenty, are  you such curs that you are
afraid to attack when you are nigh five to one?"

Then, with a hoarse yell the crowd rushed forward. One was struck
down by a heavy cudgel, three fell on  the pavement, and another
one tottered back disabled, but others took their places, and for
a time the little  band were hardly pressed. The four Scotchmen
fought stoutly, but although fair swordsmen they gained no  great
advantage over their opponents until they betook them to their
pistols, when several of their assailants  fell, but not without
inflicting wounds. Paolo also fought well, and brought three to
the ground. Hector,  however, took the offensive, and before his
swift blade, with its deadly thrust, those opposed to him fell
back as one after another dropped dead.

"Down with him! down with him!" the voice shouted; "are ye men thus
to give way before a single blade?"

"And are you a man," Hector shouted back, "to set on others to
fight when you dare not fight yourself?  Whoever you are, you are
a coward!"

With a fierce oath the man pushed his way through those in front
of him and drew his sword. He threw  back his cloak to obtain the
full use of his sword arm, and the rich gold braiding of his doublet
confirmed  the opinion Hector had already formed as to his identity.

"That is better, my lord duke; it is at least more honourable to
fight in your own quarrels than to employ a  band of assassins to
do your work."

With a roar of fury Beaufort rushed upon him. He was a good swordsman,
and personally brave, but his  rage neutralized his skill, and after
parrying two or three of his lunges Hector repeated the thrust with
which he had that morning disabled de Vipont, and ran his assailant
through the shoulder.  He fell back  with a curse.

"Kill him! kill him!" he shouted.  But at that moment there was
a cry, "The watch! the watch!" Four of the  fellows caught up the
wounded man and carried him off, some of the others skirmishing
with the watch to  hinder their advance.

"To the inn!" Hector cried to his men, "leave the matter to the
watch."

And sheathing their weapons they ran on to the door of the hotel
and obtained entry there before the watch  came up. As soon as they
had passed Hector said, "Come with me, Paolo, and see the cardinal;
there is no  fear of any renewal of the attack now.

"Do you know who it was I wounded, Paolo?" he asked as they hurried
along.

"No, master, I was too busy myself to look round."

"It was Beaufort himself; I ran him through, low down in the
shoulder."

Paolo uttered an exclamation of dismay.

"It cannot be helped now," Hector went on, "but there will be no
living in Paris or even in France after  this!"

Mazarin had not retired to bed when they reached his hotel.

"What now, monsieur?" he asked.

"We have had our second battle, your eminence, and it has been a
serious one. We were attacked by five-and-twenty ruffians; we slew
some ten of them. Then their leader, who had been keeping in the
rear  shouting to them, seeing that his men were not likely to
get the best of us, pushed through them and himself  attacked me.
I wounded him somewhat seriously, at least the thrust was just below
the shoulder; and when I  tell you that it was Beaufort himself
you will see that the matter is serious indeed."

"It could not be worse," the cardinal said gravely; "you will have
the whole of the adherents of the house of  Vendome banded against
you, and even your bravery could not long triumph over such odds.
France is no  longer a place for you. Neither the queen's protection
nor mine would avail you aught."

He took two or three turns up the room.

"In the first place, Monsieur Campbell, I will buy your fief back
from you; there are plenty who would  gladly purchase it, or I can
bestow it, as it was bestowed upon you, upon someone who has served
the  crown well. I will send the price to the banker who already
holds money of yours in his keeping. I should  advise you to mount
tonight and ride for the seacoast. Tomorrow would be too late."

He opened a cabinet.

"Here are a thousand crowns for your present expenses.  Which road
will you take? I should advise you not  to go to Calais; that is
the line on which, as soon as it is known that you have gone, they
will pursue you,  and even did they not overtake you on the way
they might reach Calais before you could obtain a ship for  England,
for at present there is but little trade between the countries,
and that not openly."

"I will make for Nantes, your eminence; there I can be joined by
friends from my chateau."

A slight smile passed over the cardinal's face.

"'Tis no time for jesting," he said; "but in truth I had intended
to find a rich heiress for you. But when I  heard that two ladies
were staying at the castle I laid the project aside; and 'tis as
well that I did so, for,  were you married to a princess, your life
would not be safe in France. Farewell, Monsieur Campbell, I have
not so many friends that I can afford to lose so true and stout a
one, especially one upon whom misfortunes  have come through his
good services to myself. I will send a messenger to the governor of
Nantes with  orders that he shall in every way forward your wishes
as to your departure, as it is with my consent and  approval that
you are sailing for England. Your devotion has brought you into the
gravest peril, and now it  forces you to relinquish your profession,
in which you have so greatly distinguished yourself. Truly, my
friendship for you is genuine, and it cuts me to the heart that,
although I could uphold you against the most  powerful nobles
in open enmity, I can do naught to save you from assassination.
I trust some day that I may  see you again, but, should it not be
so, remember that I shall always feel myself your debtor; and should
you have friends for whom you may ask my protection be sure that
I will for your sake do all in my power  for them."

There was no doubting the real emotion with which Mazarin spoke.

"There is one thing that I forgot," the latter said; "here is a
pass for you to leave the gates at once. You had  better go out by
the north, so that they may think that you have ridden to Calais,
and then take a wide  detour and ride for Nantes."

Hector returned to the hotel.

"We must mount at once," he said to the troopers; "my enemies have
failed twice, but they might not fail  the third time, and by
tomorrow morning it is certain that the hotel will be watched. I
have a pass to issue  out through the gate at once."

While he had been away the troopers had bandaged each other's wounds,
and had packed their valises, for  they thought it probable after
what had happened that their master would be obliged to fly.

As the horses were being saddled and brought out Hector saw the
innkeeper and paid him his bill.

"Monsieur," he said, "I am going away on business of the cardinal's,
and he desires that none shall know  that I have left; therefore
I pray you keep the matter secret as long as you can. It may be
reasonably  supposed that after the fray in which we have just been
engaged, we might well keep our beds for a day or  two."

Going out in the courtyard, he gave a couple of crowns to the
hostler.

"You are like to be asked tomorrow if we are still here," he said.
"Give such answers as to lead them to  believe that our horses are
still in the stalls."

They mounted and rode rapidly through the streets to the northern
gate, which was immediately, upon  Hector's handing the guard the
cardinal's pass, opened to them. To the surprise of the men, he
turned off  after riding a few miles.

"Are you not going to make for Calais, master?"

"No, I am bound for Poitou. We will cross the Seine by the bridge
of boats at Nantes, ride down through  Dreux and Le Mans. There we
will separate. I shall follow the Sarthe, strike the Loire at Angers,
and then  go on to Nantes. You will cross the Loire at Tours, and
then make for la Villar. I shall take you,  Macpherson and Hunter,
with me. Paolo will ride with the other two, and will be the bearer
of letters from  me."

Daylight was breaking when they crossed the bridge of boats. Hector
halted a mile from the river, keeping  Paolo with him, and telling
the others to pass at intervals of a quarter of an hour apart.

"You will go first, Macpherson. You will ride south for an hour,
and then wait till the rest of us join you. It  is like enough
that as soon as they find out that we have left they will send men
off in all directions to find  out which way we followed, though
doubtless the chief pursuit will be directed towards Calais. I am
afraid  that it will not be very long before they find we have left
the hotel, for the landlord, however well he may  wish us, will
not dare mislead any person of consequence that Beaufort may send."

They had, however, a much longer start than Hector expected, for
early the next morning ten of the  cardinal's guards appeared at the
hotel. The officer in command of them told the innkeeper that, in
consequence of the tumult before his doors, in which, as he heard,
some of those lodging there had been  concerned, he had orders
to post his men round the house, and to allow no one to enter or
leave under any  pretence whatever until the cardinal himself had
examined into the affair. These orders were delivered in a  loud
voice before the servants of the inn, but the officer privately
assured the innkeeper afterwards that he  would be well paid for
his loss of custom, and that it was probable that the guard would
be removed in a  day or two. Thus Beaufort's emissaries were not
able to obtain news of what was passing within, and did  nothing
until past noon, when it occurred to them that the cardinal had
taken this strange step of closing the  inn in order to prevent
its being known that Hector and his followers had left Paris.

Men were at once sent off to the different gates of the city, and
one of these returning with the news that the  north gate had been
opened at one o'clock in the morning and that six men bearing a
pass from the cardinal  had ridden out, a party of twenty horsemen
started out in pursuit, while others were ordered to ride by all
the different routes to Poitou, in case, as was likely enough,
Hector had ridden to his castle. The fugitive,  however, and his
followers were all well mounted, and had fourteen hours' start.
They separated at Le  Mans. Hector here wrote a long letter to the
Baronne de Blenfoix, and a shorter one to MacIntosh. The  latter he
told only that his fief had again reverted to the crown, and gave
instructions that the steward  should be ordered to return, from
the moneys he had in hand, three months' rent to every tenant, to
hand the  balance to MacIntosh himself, and to hold possession of
the chateau and estate until he received orders  from the cardinal
himself.

MacIntosh was then, with Paolo, two troopers, and his own two
sergeants, to escort the baroness and her  daughter to Nantes,
if she decided to go there. All arrangements were to be completed
within twelve hours  of Paolo's arrival there.  To the baroness he
related briefly what had passed.

"Therefore, as you see," he said, "there is no course open for me
but to fly for England or Ireland, where I  intend to settle. I
trust, madam, that you and your daughter will accompany me. Putting
aside my respect  and, I may say, my affection for yourself, you will
have understood from what I said to you when last at la  Villar,
that I hope some day to make your daughter Norah my wife, if I should
be so fortunate as to obtain  her affections. How this may be I
cannot say, but at any rate I trust that you will return to England,
and as I  have ample funds you may be assured that my first care
will be to provide for your future."

On arriving at Nantes Hector at once rode to the governor, and
presented the cardinal's letter to him.

"You may be assured, Colonel Campbell, that I shall carry out his
eminence's instructions," he said, after  perusing the cardinal's
letter. "I will send an officer down to the port with you to aid you
in obtaining  passage, should there be a ship leaving for England,
or to take up a ship for your service."

"I would rather the latter," Hector said. "I may have ladies with
me, and so should wish to have plenty of  accommodation."

"I am also instructed," the governor said, "to close the gate, in
case any party, followers of the Dukes of  Vendome or Beaufort, or
of any families connected with them, arrive before you leave, and
to grant them  no admittance until a messenger from the mouth of
the river informs me that you are fairly out at sea."

"I am indeed obliged to his eminence for that order, sir; he did
not mention to me that he was giving it, but  it will certainly
save me from much anxiety."

As Hector was not disposed to haggle about terms, he had no difficulty
in hiring a vessel to carry them  across the Channel. Twenty-four
hours after his arrival the party from the chateau rode in, and
but half an  hour later fifty horsemen wearing the cognizance of
Vendome galloped up to the gate.  They were headed  by four or five
gentlemen, one of whom demanded angrily why the gates were shut.

"They are closed by order of the governor," the officer in charge
replied.

"Tell the governor that the Count d'Erlon, with a party of gentlemen,
retainers of the Duke of Vendome, are  here, and demand instant
admittance."

Twenty minutes later the governor himself arrived at the gate. "I
am sorry, gentlemen," he said, "that I am  compelled to keep the
gates closed. I have an order from Cardinal Mazarin to that effect,
and that, coming  from the first minister of France, I dare not
disregard even if the duke himself were with you. It would cost  me
my place, and possibly gain me a cell in the Bastille; and, grieved
as I am to refuse admittance to such  honourable gentlemen, still
I must do so."

"And for how long is this monstrous edict to remain in force?" the
leader of the party asked.

"That I am unable to say precisely, but I believe that I can open
them tomorrow morning."

"You see, we were right, count," another of the horsemen said. "The
description of the man who rode along  here with two attendants
tallies with that of this Scot, and doubtless this order was
brought by him from  Mazarin to enable him to get either by water
away abroad or to his chateau of la Villar."

"Well, gentlemen, at any rate we have done our best, and though we
must have slain the fellow if we had  overtaken him, I cannot say
that I am altogether grieved that he has escaped. His name is well
known to  everyone. He did brave service to France under Turenne
and Conde. We learned from the messenger who  brought the letter
from Beaufort that he killed de Beauvais in fair fight, wounded de
Vipont, and disarmed  the Comte de Marplat, that at night he and
five of his followers, though attacked by some thirty ruffians
from the faubourgs under Beaufort himself, killed twelve of them
outright, and that he himself seriously  wounded the duke. Well,
there is nothing for us but to ride back to the village we last
passed through and  wait there until tomorrow."

So saying, he mounted his horse and galloped off with his party.

"Who could have thought when we parted last, Colonel Campbell, that
we should meet again under such  greatly changed circumstances!"
Madame de Blenfoix exclaimed as Hector met the party as they alighted
before  the principal inn of Nantes.

"It is a change, indeed," he replied; "so great that I myself
can hardly realize it, and am not sure whether I  am sorry or the
reverse at what has taken place."

"I am very glad to hear you say so, as I feared that it would be
a terrible blow to you to give up the army."

"I have hardly had time to think of it," he said, "I have had so
much else to occupy my thoughts. Now, I  pray you, enter the inn
for a few minutes; I have warned them to get a meal ready to be
served at the  shortest notice, for I am anxious that no time shall
be lost; everything is ready for our embarkation."

"Had we not best go aboard at once?" she said. "Your enemies might
arrive at any moment by what Paolo  tells us."

"The matter is not so pressing as I thought, madam, for the cardinal
sent orders to the governor that he is  not to open the gates to
any armed party of friends of Beaufort or Vendome until I am fairly
at sea."

He went with the ladies to a private room he had secured.

"I must leave you for a few minutes," he said, "while I have a talk
with MacIntosh and the others."

"Well, old friend," he said as he went out to where the little
party of Scotchmen were standing in a group,  "what are your plans
and wishes? 'Tis a pity now that I persuaded you to leave Paris
and go down to la  Villar, but I did it for the best. I thought of
you much as I rode hither."

"Do not trouble about me, colonel, I am by no means sorry at the
change. I was getting tired of the cabaret,  and should soon have
given it up even had you not come to offer me the wardenship of your
chateau. I have  chatted matters over with my two friends, and we
have not yet agreed whether to return to Scotland or to  remain in
France. At any rate we shall go to Paris first; my money is there
all in good keeping, together  with the two years' payment for the
cabaret. Are you thinking of going to Scotland yourself, colonel?"

"Certainly not to Scotland, I have no friends there, and from all
that I have heard the people are so hard and  bigoted, so full of
their religious differences, that I should feel sorely out of place
with them.

"Well, MacIntosh, as soon as I am settled in England I will have a
letter conveyed to you in some way at  the address of The Scottish
Soldier. Wherever I am, there will be a home always open to you,
and glad  indeed I shall be to have you near me. My four troopers
are going to accompany me. I have talked the  matter over with
them, and have promised that I will find a house with a small farm
for them on any estate I  may purchase, where they can do such
an amount of work as pleases them, or that they can remain in my
service on the present conditions. You can make the same offer in
my name to your two comrades. After  all, things are not so settled
across the water that I can dispense with old friends on whom I can
rely. Paolo,  of course, goes with me, and will be my right hand."

"I will think it all over, Hector, and maybe one of these days
I and the other two may knock at your door. It  is hard if seven
old fellow soldiers could not end their days happily and quietly
together."

As soon as the meal had been eaten Hector went to say goodbye to the
governor, and heard how Vendome's  men had been refused entrance.
After thanking him for the courtesy that he had shown him, he
returned to  the inn. As the party would require horses on landing,
and there was plenty of room on board the vessel that  he had engaged,
Hector shipped the three horses that Conde had given him, and four
others for the use of  his men, and after a hearty farewell to
MacIntosh on his part and that of the ladies, they went on board,
and  a few minutes later the sails were set and the vessel started
down the river. The wind was favourable, and  they made a fast
voyage down to the sea. Before they reached the mouth of the river,
however, Hector had  ascertained to his satisfaction that Norah
O'More returned the feeling that he felt for her.

"I have loved you," she said, "from the moment when you came to us
as our saviour from death on the  summit of the turret; and though
as time went on I did not venture to think that you, who had so
fair a  future before you, would ever think of the girl who with
her mother you had so nobly entertained and  treated, I should
never have loved any other man to the end of my life."

The voyage was without incident, and five days after leaving Nantes
they arrived at Plymouth. Here Hector  hired a house, and when the
ladies were comfortably settled he left them in charge of Paolo
and two of the  men, and rode to London accompanied by the others.
Here he called upon the banker whose address  Mazarin had given
him, and on sending in his name was shown into the room in which
private business  was transacted.

"You have certain moneys of mine in your hands, Mr.  Wilson?"

"I have had fifty thousand crowns for the past three years and have
put them out on good security, so that  the sum stands at present
in my books at sixty-four thousand crowns. Three days ago I received
from  Cardinal Mazarin bills to the amount of one hundred and fifty
thousand crowns, being, he said, due to you  for the surrender of
the fief of la Villar, and for other services rendered to him. The
cardinal is a good  paymaster," he added with a slight smile at
seeing Hector's surprise at the news, "but it was plain from his
letter to me that he considered that the value of your services
was greatly in excess of the sum, large as it is,  that he sent,
especially as they had brought great misfortunes upon you, and had
forced you to abandon  France, and give up your profession, in
which, he said, your prospects of gaining the highest rank were
of  the brightest. Now, sir, if there are any services that I can
render you I am at your disposal. You will  naturally wish to invest
your money in some way, and, though I say it myself, I know of no
one who could  lay it out to better advantage."

"You may help me assuredly," Hector said, "for I am an entire
stranger in England. I wish to purchase an  estate, but have no
idea how to set about it, while, doubtless, you are acquainted with
many such domains  at present for sale. I may say that I will on no
account purchase an estate which has been confiscated by  parliament
on account of its owner being loyal to the crown. Charles II may,
and I believe will, return and  mount the throne, and these estates
will then beyond doubt be restored to their former owners, therefore
I  will have nought to do with such property."

"You could not choose a better time for laying out your money in
land," the banker said. "Great numbers of  the nobles and gentlemen
of England have been killed or are in exile; many, again, who still
hold their land  are well nigh ruined by the moneys they spent in
the king's service, and would gladly sell now could they  obtain
anything like a fair value for their estates. I know of a score at
least of such properties which are so  deeply mortgaged that the
owners can scarce afford to live in their own homes, and would gladly
take a  sum that would suffice to pay off the mortgage and give
them the wherewithal to live upon, either abroad  or in Virginia,
to which colony many loyal gentlemen have already gone to settle.
If you will call tomorrow  I will give you a list of such estates,
with their size, the amount of their revenues, and the price at
which  their owners would, I know, be glad to sell, for I and some
of my friends have been approached by them  with that view."

Hector spent the next three weeks in visiting eight of the estates
that seemed suitable and were all situated  in counties near London.
Finally he settled upon one in Berkshire, which was of considerable
size and with  a stately house in a fair position. This he purchased,
and then, returning to Plymouth, his marriage with  Norah was
celebrated there, and he, with his wife and Madame de Blenfoix and
his five followers, rode  down into Berkshire and took possession
of the estate, with which all were delighted. The troopers, instead
of accepting the  house he offered them, preferred to remain in his
service, and Paolo was installed as majordomo of the  household.
Six months later MacIntosh and his two comrades came over.

The former declined Hector's offer to take up his abode at the
house.

"No, colonel, I have an abundance for myself and my two comrades,
and would rather be near you, where  we can live in our own fashion,
and give trouble to no one."

"Well, if you will not come here, MacIntosh, there is a house a
quarter of a mile away which will, I think,  suit you well. It is
not a large place, but is a comfortable one, and has been used as
the house of the steward  of the estate. As I shall be my own steward
it is vacant, and will, I think, suit you well. It is furnished,
so  that you and your comrades can move in when you like, though
the longer you stay with us the better we  shall be pleased."

A fortnight later MacIntosh and his comrades moved in, and there,
when not occupied with their duties, one  or other of the troopers
was generally to be found. Hector often dropped in, and one day
laughingly said  that the house ought to be renamed The Scottish
Soldier.

Until the Restoration Hector kept aloof from London, but when
Charles II mounted the throne of his fathers  he went up, and was
presented at court by one of the many English gentlemen whom he
had known in  France, where they had sought refuge with the queen
when the royal cause was lost in England. He did not,  however,
repeat the visit very often. He was perfectly happy in his country
life, and never once regretted  the chain of events that had forced
him to give up his life of adventure and excitement and to settle
down  peacefully in England.



THE END





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