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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 469 pages of information about The Last Shot.

Westerling did not mind being likened to the baron.  It was a corroboration of her prophecy.  The baron must have been a great leader of men in his time.

“The aeroplane will take its place as an auxiliary,” he went on, his mind still running on the theme of her prophecy, which the meeting with Lanstron had quickened.  “But war will, as ever, be won by the bayonet that takes and holds a position.  We shall have no miracle victories, no—­”

There he broke off.  He did not accompany Mrs. Galland and Marta back to the house, but made his adieus at the garden-gate.

“I’m sure that I shall never marry a soldier!” Marta burst out as she and her mother were ascending the steps.

“No?” exclaimed Mrs. Galland with the rising inflection of a placid scepticism that would not be drawn into an argument.  Another of Marta’s explosions!  It was not yet time to think of marriage for her.  If it had been Mrs. Galland would not have been so hospitable to Colonel Westerling.  She would hardly have been, even if the colonel had been younger, say, of Captain Lanstron’s age.  Though an officer was an officer, whether of the Browns or the Grays, and, perforce, a gentleman to be received with the politeness of a common caste, every beat of her heart was loyal to her race.  Her daughter’s hand was not for any Gray.  Young Lanstron certainly must be of the Thorbourg Lanstrons, she mused.  A most excellent family!  Of course, Marta would marry an officer.  It was the natural destiny of a Galland woman.  Yet she was sometimes worried about Marta’s whimsies.  She, too, could wonder what Marta would be like in five years.

II

TEN YEARS LATER

Does any man of power know whither the tendencies of his time are leading him, or the people whom he leads whither they are being led?  Had any one of these four heroes of the Grays in their heavy gilt frames divined what kind of a to-morrow his day was preparing?  All knew the pass of La Tir well, and if all had not won decisive battles they would have been hung in the outer office or even in the corridors, where a line of half-forgotten or forgotten generals crooked down the stairways into the oblivion of the basement.  That unfortunate one whom the first Galland had driven through the pass was quite obscured in darkness.  He would soon be crowded out to an antique shop for sale as an example of the portrait art of his period.

The privileged quartet on that Valhalla of victories, the walls of the chief of staff’s room, personified the military inheritance of a great nation; their names shone in luminous letters out of the thickening shadows of the past, where those of lesser men grew dimmer as their generations receded into history.  He in the steel corselet, with high cheek-bones, ferret, cold eyes, and high, thin nose, its nostrils drawn back in an aristocratic sniff—­camps were evil-smelling in those days—­his casquette resting on his arm, was the progenitor of him with the Louis XIV. curls; he of the early nineteenth century, with a face like Marshal Ney’s, was the progenitor of him with the mustache and imperial of the sixties.

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