The Laird's Luck and Other Fireside Tales eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 310 pages of information about The Laird's Luck and Other Fireside Tales.
that noble regiment formed around the horsemen who could boast of having broken it, and left not one to bear back the tale.  The 44th behaved more cleverly, but not more intrepidly:  it did not attempt to form square, but faced its rear rank round and gave the Frenchmen a volley; before they could checks their impetus the front rank poured in a second; and the light company, which had held its fire, delivered a third, breaking the crowd in two, and driving the hinder-part back in disorder and up the Charleroi road.  But already the fore-part had fallen upon the Morays, fortunately the last of the three regiments to receive the shock.  Though most fortunate, they had least experience, and were consequently slow in answering my shout.  A wedge of lancers broke through us as we formed around the two standards, and I saw Mr. Urquhart with the King’s colours hurled back in the rush.  The pole fell with him, after swaying within a yard of a French lancer, who thrust out an arm to grasp it.  And with that I saw Mackenzie divide the rush and stand—­it may have been for five seconds—­erect, with his foot upon the standard.  Then three lancers pierced him, and he fell.  But the lateral pressure of their own troopers broke the wedge which the French had pushed into us.  Their leading squadrons were pressed down the road and afterwards accounted for by the Gordons.  Of the seven-and-twenty assailants around whom the Morays now closed, not one survived.

Towards nightfall, as Ney weakened and the Allies were reinforced, our troops pushed forward and recaptured every important position taken by the French that morning.  The Morays, with the rest of Picton’s division, bivouacked for the night in and around the farmstead of Gemiancourt.

So obstinately had the field been contested that darkness fell before the wounded could be collected with any thoroughness; and the comfort of the men around many a camp-fire was disturbed by groans (often quite near at hand) of some poor comrade or enemy lying helpless and undiscovered, or exerting his shattered limbs to crawl towards the blaze.  And these interruptions at length became so distressing to the Morays, that two or three officers sought me and demanded leave to form a fatigue party of volunteers and explore the hedges and thickets with lanterns.  Among them was Mr. Urquhart:  and having readily given leave and accompanied them some little way on their search, I was bidding them good-night and good-speed when I found him standing at my elbow.

“May I have a word with you, Colonel?” he asked.

His voice was low and serious.  Of course I knew what subject filled his thoughts.  “Is it worth while, sir?” I answered.  “I have lost to-day a brave lad for whom I had a great affection.  For him the account is closed; but not for those who liked him and are still concerned in his good name.  If you have anything further against him, or if you have any confession to make, I warn you that this is a bad moment to choose.”

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The Laird's Luck and Other Fireside Tales from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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