“I knew that you would not be so cruel as to drive me from you. Wherever fate may lead me, it will find me at your side as long as you require my protection.”
For a few seconds she let him keep her hand. She then gently withdrew it from his grasp.
“I know that I ought to forbid you for your own safety to follow me; but I have not the strength to do so. Heaven grant that you may never reproach me for having acted as I have done.”
THE CAMP OF LAHORE
An unusually beautiful and dry spring favoured the advance of the Russian army through the mountains. In the north of India the temperature kept at an average of 68 degrees F., and day after day the sun streamed down from a cloudless blue sky upon the broad plains of the Punjab, through the bright green of which the Russian troops, in their white summer uniforms, pushed on like long streaks of silver.
Everything pointed to the fortune of war being on their side, for they had overcome the difficult and dreaded passage at Attock with unexpected ease.
The commander of this lofty fortress received orders not to break down the bridge across the Indus until General Blood’s army, which was directed to hold Peshawar and the Khyber Pass, had effected its retreat and had to the last man passed the river.
The bridge at Attock, which is a high structure built across the narrow bed of the Indus, which here foams down with swirling swiftness, is considered a masterpiece of engineering. It is built in two tiers, the upper of which carries the railway, while the lower forms a road for carriages, beasts of burden, and foot-passengers. On either side of the river is a fortified gate. The English commander of Attock trusted to the strength of the forts standing some 800 feet above the river, and imagined the Russians to be still far away.
The Russian vanguard had crossed the river Cabul, which joins the Indus at Attock, at a point a few miles above the city, and thus appeared simultaneously with General Blood’s troops before the fortress.
Blood’s troops were passing the bridge in endless long columns. Their movement was often checked by blocks, caused by the dislocation of the several units, and so it came about that, in the early morning, a superior Russian force had, unperceived by the English, reached the northern end of the bridge just as a gap had been caused in the English columns.
The thick fog of the morning had hidden the approach of the Russians from the English outposts. The Russians at once occupied the bridge, and so cut off the remainder of the English that were on the northern bank from their main body that had already crossed the bridge. The commander of the Russian advance guard was himself quite astounded at the success that the fortune of war had thrown into his lap: had not the fog rendered the scouting on both sides illusory,