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"Possibly so, Mr. Henderson; but in that case, why did he not keep among the trees both coming and going, instead of exposing himself, as he must have done running here; for the hedge is thin, and any one walking along, much less driving, could have seen him."

Lister went across to the major, who at once consented to give the signal. The pistols were then loaded, the ground measured, and the principals placed in position. The major took two pistolsone loaded with ball, the other with powder only, and then placed himself some ten paces on one side of the line of fire.

"I owe fully as much to you as you owe to me, Strelinski," Frank said. "Putting aside the interest there has been in witnessing such mighty events, it has been a splendid thing for me in my profession. I shall be gazetted captain this week, while I am pretty sure of a brevet majority at the end of the next campaign, and of further employment in the same line afterwards."

"I am very pleased, Frank," he said as he lighted a cigar, "both with what I have heard of you and with what I see for myself. Now I will speak to you more freely than I did before, but mind, what I say is strictly confidential. Government have obtained secret information which points surely to the fact that Napoleon is meditating an offensive war against Russia. He is accumulating troops in Germany and Poland out of all proportion to the operations he has been carrying on against Austria. When that war will break out is more than I or anyone can say, but when it does take place I have Lord Wellesley's promise that I shall go out there in the same position I held during their last war, that is, as British commissioner with the Russian army. Now, lad, in that position I shall be entitled to take a young officer with me as my assistant, or what, if engaged on other service, would be called aide-de-camp. One cannot be everywhere at once, and I should often have to depend upon him for information as to what was taking place at points where I could not be present.

"That we must see about. There are, I have no doubt, many Russian Poles in London who speak the language well, and who have picked up enough English for your purpose. The Poles are marvellous linguists. We will go to-morrow to the headquarters of the Bow Street runners. They are the detectives, you know, and if they cannot at once put their hands upon such a man as we want, they will be able to ferret out half a dozen in twenty-four hours. One of these fellows you must engage to go down to Canterbury and take lodgings there. They are almost always in destitute circumstances, and would be content with very moderate pay, which would not draw very heavily on your resources. Thirty shillings a week would be a fortune to one of them. Even if this war should not come offbut I have myself no doubt about itthe language might in the future be of great value to you. I don't suppose there is a single officer in the English army, with the exception of myself, who knows a word of Russian, and in the future it might secure you the position of military attach to our embassy there. At any rate it will render it easy for me to secure you an appointment on my mission when it comes off, and in that case you will be a witness of one of the most stupendous struggles that has ever taken place. You think you can really stick to it, Frank? You will have, no doubt, to put up with a good deal of chaff from your comrades on your studious tastes."

"Well, then, shall we say half-past four?"