Napoleon halted them for two days, in order that they might rest and receive provisions from the baggage trains following. On the 4th of September they marched forward as before, in three columns, preceded by Murat's cavalry, which brushed aside the hordes of Cossack horse. Half-way to Gratz, a Russian division stoutly held for some time a height up which the road wound, but after some sharp fighting was forced to retreat.
"Without minding what any one I did not care for, said," Frank interrupted. "Certainly; why should I heed a bit what people I do not care for say, so long as I feel that I am doing what is right."
Had they but received the slightest encouragement from him they would have led their divisions against the French in spite of the orders of the marshal, and it was with the greatest difficulty that he persuaded them to restrain their exasperated troops, and to submit to carry out the disastrous policy, which entailed as much loss and suffering upon the Russian soldiers as upon the French.
"We will see about it," Frank laughed. "Well, come up now. I ordered the breakfast for two, and I see Smith is bringing the dishes across from the kitchen."
In silence the column marched down the hill. No sound proclaimed that the enemy had taken the alarm. When within charging distance, the line levelled its bayonets and rushed forward to the fires. To their stupefaction and relief, they found no foe to oppose them. The fires had been lighted by order of the Cossack general to make them believe that an army lay between them and Orsza, and so cause them to arrest their march. Half an hour was given to the men to warm themselves by the fires, then the march was resumed. Three miles further the sound of a large body of men was heard, then came a challenge in French, "Qui vive!" A hoarse shout of delight burst from the weary force, and a minute later they were shaking hands with their comrades of Davoust's division. The Polish messengers had, in spite of the numerous Cossacks on the plains, succeeded in reaching Orsza safely. The most poignant anxiety reigned there as to the safety of Ney's command; and Davoust, on hearing the welcome news, instantly called his men under arms and advanced to meet them.
"Certainty," the major said. "After the official information that you were not to proceed with the draft, as you would be required for special service, I have a right to consider you as a supernumerary here, and will relieve you of all ordinary drills and parades. You must, of course, take your turn as officer of the day, and if there are any special parades ordered, or any field days with the Lancers, you will attend, but otherwise you will be free of all duty. The two next troops to go have their full complement of officers, so that really you are not wanted."