Page:Yule Logs.djvu/128

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112
"A FRENCHMAN'S GRATITUDE"

a couple of men, and collect the rounds from the cartouch-boxes of the slain."

I was about to execute this gruesome order, when a bullet, glancing from one of the guns, struck me on the head, and I dropped senseless to the ground.

· · · · · · ·

When consciousness returned I found myself lying in the arms of Corporal Jones, who was bathing my head with muddy water. All sound of strife had ceased, and our men were sitting or standing around, disarmed. Several Mamelukes were stalking about with a triumphant air, and in the distance was assembled the Vizier's army. I asked the corporal what had happened.

"We're prisoners, Mr. Cotton, the few of us that's left," he replied. "We hadn't a blessed cartridge left, when a Turkish officer came up with a flag of truce, and told the captain as how our lives should be spared if we surrendered."

"Do you mean Captain Holroyd?"

"Yes, sir. The furrin major was knocked over just after you was, and, though badly hurt, our captain took command. There he is yonder, talking to the officer to whom we surrendered. The rum thing is," continued Corporal Jones, "that the Turkish orficer aint a Turk at all, but a Frenchman. D'you remember, sir, the French leftenant as used to come so often to; your quarters when we lay at Messina?"

"Not M'sieur de Vignes?" I exclaimed.

"That's the name, sir. Well, he's the orficer I'm tellin' you about—and here he comes!"

I looked up and saw a Mameluke approaching, whose rich attire bespoke him an officer of rank. Leaning on his arm was Charlie Holroyd, his head and shoulder bandaged.

"Tom," said Holroyd, in a faint voice, "here is an