“Psha, Valletort! these difficulties are all of your own creation,” returned his friend, impatiently; “I know the heart of Clara is disengaged. What would you more?”
“Enough, De Haldimar; I will no longer doubt my own prospects. If she but approve me, my whole life shall be devoted to the happiness of your sister.”
A single knock was now heard at the door of the apartment; it was opened, and a sergeant appeared at the entrance.
“The company are under arms for punishment parade, Lieutenant Valletort,” said the man, touching his cap.
In an instant, the visionary prospects of the young men gave place to the stern realities connected with that announcement of punishment. The treason of Halloway,—the absence of Frederick de Haldimar,—the dangers by which they were beset,—and the little present probability of a re-union with those who were most dear to them,—all these recollections now flashed across their minds with the rapidity of thought; and the conversation that had so recently passed between them seemed to leave no other impression than what is produced from some visionary speculation of the moment.
As the bells of the fort tolled the tenth hour of morning, the groups of dispersed soldiery, warned by the rolling of the assembly drum, once more fell into their respective ranks in the order described in the opening of this volume, Soon afterwards the prisoner Halloway was reconducted into the square by a strong escort, who took their stations as before in the immediate centre, where the former stood principally conspicuous to the observation of his comrades. His countenance was paler, and had less, perhaps, of the indifference he had previously manifested; but to supply this there was a certain subdued air of calm dignity, and a composure that sprang, doubtless, from the consciousness of the new character in which he now appeared before his superiors. Colonel de Haldimar almost immediately followed, and with him were the principal staff of the garrison, all of whom, with the exception of the sick and wounded and their attendants, were present to a man. The former took from the hands of the governor, Lawson, a large packet, consisting of several sheets of folded paper closely written upon. These were the proceedings of the court martial.
After enumerating the several charges, and detailing the evidence of the witnesses examined, the adjutant came at length to the finding and sentence of the court, which were as follows:—
“The court having duly considered the evidence adduced against the prisoner private Frank Halloway, together with what he has urged in his defence, are of opinion,—”
“That with regard to the first charge, it is not proved.”
“That with regard to the second charge, it is not proved.”
“That with regard to the third charge, even by his own voluntary confession, the prisoner is guilty.”