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He saw her, and without the hesitation of an instant raised his slouch hat and kept on. A government scout does not stop to pass the time of day with an officer's wife."Is there anything, then, that I can do for you? the officer asked. His intentions were good; Cairness was bound to realize that, too.
But he pleaded entire ignorance, and the others were at considerable pains to enlighten him.
Of all the expectants of office in the Wellington Administration, the most bitterly disappointed was the ex-Chancellor, Lord Eldon, to whom official life had from long habit become almost a necessity. He had enjoyed power long enough in reason to admit of his retirement with a contented mind; but the passion for it was never stronger than at the present moment. He hastened to London a few days after Christmas on account of rumours of a dissolution of the Cabinet. Having so often done this when there was a talk of a Ministerial crisis, he was called the "stormy petrel." Believing that he had mainly contributed to bring about the Ministerial catastrophe, he was dreadfully mortified when he saw in the newspapers the list of the new Ministers beginning thus: "Chancellor, Lord Lyndhurst." He had not set his heart this time on the office of Lord Chancellor, he would have been content with the Presidentship of the Council or Privy Seal; but his name was not found in the list at all, nor had he been consulted in any way, or informed about what was going forward during the fortnight that passed before the Ministerial arrangements were completed. This utter neglect of his claims excited his anger and indignation to the utmost, and caused him to indulge in bitter revilings and threats against the new Cabinet. The great Tory lords shared in his resentment, and felt that they were all insulted in his person. Referring to the Ministerial arrangements, he wrote:"You will observe, Dudley, Huskisson, Grant, Palmerston, and Lyndhurst (five) were all Canningites, with whom the rest were three weeks ago in most violent contest and opposition; these things are to me quite marvellous. How they are all to deal with each other's conduct, as to the late treaty with Turkey and the Navarino battle, is impossible to conjecture. As the first-fruits of this arrangement, the Corporation of London have agreed to petition Parliament to repeal the laws which affect Dissenters.""I am," announced the soldier.
As soon as five or six thousand of his troops were landed, Buonaparte commenced his march on Alexandria. The Turks manned the walls, and resisted furiously, incensed at this invasion by a Power with which they were nominally at peace. But the walls were ruinous; the French forced their way over several breaches, and commenced an indiscriminate massacre. The place was abandoned to pillage for four hours. As the Mamelukes were hated by the Arabs and the Copts, and were the military mercenaries of the country, chiefly recruited from Georgia and Circassia, Buonaparte determined to destroy them. He considered that he should thus rid himself of the only formidable power in Egypt, and at the same time conciliate the Bedouins and Fellahs. On the 7th of July he set out on his march for Cairo with his whole force. He marched up the bank of the Nile, but at such a distance as to prevent the soldiers from getting any water to quench their burning thirst. It was all that Buonaparte could do to keep his troops in subordination. For fourteen days this melancholy march was continued, when they came at once in sight of the Pyramids, not far distant from Cairo, and of the army of the Mamelukes, drawn up across their way, headed by Murad Bey. This force consisted of five thousand cavalryMamelukes, mounted on the finest Arabian horses in the world, trained to obey the slightest touch of the rein, to advance, wheel, or fly with wonderful rapidity. The riders were all fine men, armed with sabres, pistols, and blunderbusses of the best English workmanship. They were deemed invincible and were ruthlessly cruel. They presented in appearance the finest body of cavalry in the world, the plumes of their turbans waving in the air, and their arms glittering in the sun. There were, moreover, twenty thousand infantry lying in a slightly-entrenched camp on their right; but these were a mere rabblefellaheen, or, in other words, peasantry, brought from their fields, and armed with matchlocks. They had forty pieces of cannon to defend the camp, but these had no carriages, being mounted on clumsy wooden frames. Buonaparte drew up his army so as to keep out of gunshot of the camp, and to deal only with the cavalry first. He formed his troops into squares to resist the onslaught of the cavalry; and as he saw the Mamelukes come on, he called to his men, "From yonder Pyramids twenty centuries behold your actions!" The Mamelukes came thundering on like a whirlwind, and sending before them the most horrible yells. Murad Bey said he would cut up the French like gourds. One of the French squares was thrown into confusion, but it recovered itself, and the battle was instantly a scene of the most desperate fury. The Mamelukes fought like demons; but, finding that they could not break the French ranks, whilst they and their horses were mown down by musketry and artillery, in despair they flung their pistols at their foes, backed their horses up to them to break them by kicking, and finding all unavailing, fled. Such as were left wounded on the ground crept forward to cut at the legs of the French soldiers. Both cavalry and infantry then, by swimming their horses, or in boats, attempted to cross the Nile, but the greater part were drowned in the attempt. Murad Bey, with the residue of his Mamelukes, escaped into Upper Egypt.
He bit his lip and did not reply, either to the words or to the caress. "You need a month of the mountains, I think," he said.