“Pull away, lads,” Mr. Hethcote said shortly. “Show a light there in the bow to the steamer.”
The light was answered by a sharp whistle, and they heard the beat of the paddles of the “Falcon” as she came down towards them, and five minutes later the boats were hoisted to the davits. “No casualties, I hope, Mr. Hethcote?” Captain Stuart said, as the first lieutenant stepped on board. “You seem to have got into a nest of hornets.”
“Yes, indeed, sir. There was a strong garrison in the village, and we have suffered, I fear heavily. Some eight or ten killed and as many wounded.”
“Dear me, dear me!” Captain Stuart said. “This is an unfortunate circumstance, indeed. Mr. Manders, do you get the wounded on board and carried below. Will you step into my cabin, Mr. Hethcote, and give me full details of this unfortunate affair?”
Upon mustering the men, it was found that the total casualties in the two boats of the “Falcon” amounted to, Lieutenant Pascoe killed, Midshipman Archer wounded; ten seamen killed, and nine wounded. Jack’s wound was more severe than he had at first thought. The ball had gone through the upper part of the arm, and had grazed and badly bruised the bone in its passage. The doctor said he would probably be some weeks before he would have his arm out of a sling. The “Falcon” spent another week in examining the Crimean coast, and then ran across again to Varna. Here everything was being pushed forward for the start. Over six hundred vessels were assembled, with a tonnage vastly exceeding that of any fleet that had ever sailed the seas. Twenty-seven thousand English and twenty-three thousand French were to be carried in this huge flotilla; for although the French army was considerably larger than the English, the means of sea-transport of the latter were vastly superior, and they were able to take across the whole of their army in a single trip; whereas, the French could convey but half of their force. Unfortunately, between Lord Raglan, the English Commander-in-Chief, and Marshal Saint Arnaud, the French commander, there was little concert or agreement. The French, whose arrangements were far better, and whose movements were prompter than our own, were always complaining of British procrastination; while the English General went quietly on his own way, and certainly tried sorely the patience of our allies. Even when the whole of the allied armies were embarked, nothing had been settled beyond the fact that they were going to invade the Crimea, and the enormous fleet of men-of-war and transports, steamers with sailing vessels in tow, extending in lines farther than the eye could reach, and covering many square miles of the sea, sailed eastward without any fixed destination. The consequence was, as might be expected, a lamentable waste of time. Halts were called, councils were held, reconnaissances sent forward, and the vast fleet steamed aimlessly north, south, east, and west, until, when at last a landing-place was fixed upon, near Eupatoria, and the disembarkation was effected, fourteen precious days had been wasted over a journey which is generally performed in twenty-four hours, and which even the slowly moving transports might have easily accomplished in three days.