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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 714 pages of information about Under Two Flags.

“There is a charming little creature there, a little fire-eater—­Cigarette, they call her—­who is in love with him, I fancy.  Such a picturesque child!—­swears like a trooper, too,” continued he who was now Duke of Lyonnesse.  “By the way, is Berkeley gone?”

“Left yesterday.”

“What for?—­where to?”

“I was not interested to inquire.”

“Ah! you never liked him!  Odd enough to leave without reason or apology?”

“He had his reasons, doubtless.”

“And made his apology to you?”

“Oh, yes!”

Her brother looked at her earnestly; there was a care upon her face new to him.

“Are you well, my darling?” he asked her.  “Has the sun been too hot, or la bise too cold for you?”

She rose, and gathered her cashmeres about her, and smiled somewhat wearily her adieu to him.

“Both, perhaps.  I am tired.  Good-night.”

CHAPTER XXXIII.

The gift of the cross.

One of the most brilliant of Algerian autumnal days shone over the great camp in the south.  The war was almost at an end for a time; the Arabs were defeated and driven desertwards; hostilities irksome, harassing, and annoying, like all guerrilla warfare, would long continue; but peace was virtually established, and Zaraila had been the chief glory that had been added by the campaign to the flag of Imperial France.  The kites and the vultures had left the bare bones by thousands to bleach upon the sands, and the hillocks of brown earth rose in crowds where those, more cared for in death, had been hastily thrust beneath the brown crust of the earth.  The dead had received their portion of reward—­in the jackal’s teeth, in the crow’s beak, in the worm’s caress.  And the living received theirs in this glorious, rose-flecked, glittering autumn morning, when the breath of winter made the air crisp and cool, but the ardent noon still lighted with its furnace glow the hillside and the plain.

The whole of the Army of the South was drawn up on the immense level of the plateau to witness the presentation of the Cross of the Legion of Honor.

It was full noon.  The sun shone without a single cloud on the deep, sparkling azure of the skies.  The troops stretched east and west, north and south, formed up in three sides of one vast, massive square.  The battalions of Zouaves and of Zephyrs; the brigade of Chasseurs d’Afrique; the squadrons of Spahis; the regiments of Tirailleurs and Turcos; the batteries of Flying Artillery, were all massed there, reassembled from the various camps and stations of the southern provinces to do honor to the day—­to do honor in especial to one by whom the glory of the Tricolor had been saved unstained.

The red, white, and blue of the standards, the brass of the eagle guidons; the gray, tossed manes of the chargers; the fierce, swarthy faces of the soldiery; the scarlet of the Spahis’ cloaks, and the snowy folds of the Demi-Cavalry turbans; the shine of the sloped lances, and the glisten of the carbine barrels, fused together in one sea of blended color, flashed into a million prismatic hues against the somber shadow of the sunburned plains and the clear blue of the skies.

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