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"Frank!" he exclaimed, "is it you, or am I dreaming?"

The countess had gained strength rapidly, and there were no grounds for any further uneasiness as to her health; she was now able to take daily drives with Stephanie.

"But news travelled slowly, and no doubt, at the post-house where they slept, no word that the French army was passing along had been received. Beyond that, the men had been able to gather no news whatever of the carriage. The country was a desert, tenanted only by dead; and the men's descriptions of what they saw were so horrible that my blood was frozen. However, I kept on my journey, taking them with me. We went to the post-house where the carriage had last stopped, and then took up the search. There were half a dozen roads by which they might have proceeded; however, we took the most easterly one, and then, when it crossed the main road, followed the latter. It was choked with deserted waggons and guns. Dead bodies lay everywhere; many partly devoured by wolves; all stripped of their clothing. After making our way through this terrible scene for a few miles, we saw, fifty yards from the road, the remains of a sleigh. Its bright yellow colour caught our eyes, and when we got to it there was no room for doubt. The body of the sleigh was gonehad been burnt for firewood; but the colour was that of my own carriage, and two of the men who belonged to the stables at Kieff said that they could swear to it, owing to a new iron that had been put on to one of the runners the day before it had started. But there were other signs. Portions of the harness lay about, and on one of these enough of the silver-work remained to show that it was ours.

Mr. Moorsby was the first witness. He deposed that having received information that a landing of contraband goods was likely to take place, he, accompanied by Mr. Faulkner, who represented the civil authorities, went to the spot. They perceived that a landing of goods was taking place; but, as it had been arranged that his party should not show themselves until the revenue cutter came up and seized the lugger, they remained in hiding until they heard from a man placed down by the shore that the cutter was coming in. Then they rushed out and seized the parties engaged in the proceedings. Some of them resisted violently, and a serious fray took place. Three of his men were wounded with pistol shots, one of them very seriously. One of the smugglers had been killed, and three were so seriously injured that they could not at present be placed in the dock.

CHAPTER VIII

"What nonsense!" he exclaimed. "What am I to do with all these things? It is magnificent; but it is too much altogether. Why, these furs alone are worth hundreds of pounds! No doubt the count is extremely rich. I have already heard him speak of three or four estates in different parts of Russia, and this palace is fit for a prince. Of course, he can afford it well enough, but to me all this is quite overpowering. I should like to see Aunt's face if I were to turn up at Weymouth with all this kit."

"Possibly, Mr. Faulkner, though I have known many magistrates who did their duty and who were by no means unpopular; but you have not answered my question. Do you not think that in saying what he did Mr. Wyatt simply alluded to the fact of your well-known unpopularity, and to the threatening letters that you have received?"

CHAPTER VI

"Have you any more witnesses to call, Mr. Faulkner?" the chairman asked coldly.