Now I knew that my folk were safe for this time at least, and my heart was light, and so leaving my horse I walked beside the king, as his men called him, until we met the first of the company on this side of the bridge. Then was a little confusion, and they stopped, not knowing what this war-stained troop might betoken. And I saw that no word had come of the great defeat as yet.
Therefore, altho the greatest difficulty in forming a bridge was presented to him, on account of the breadth, rapidity, and depth of the river, he nevertheless considered that it ought to be attempted by him, or that his army ought not otherwise to be led over.
Then the railroad, bridge was set on fire, and it looked cruel to see the timbers licked up by flames, but when the burning trestle fell into the river below, it was a grand, an awful sight.
So, in spite of Charmian, who besought me not to interfere in the battle, I sent Alexas to the commander on the bridge, and while he talked with the grey-bearded seaman, who wrathfully answered I know not what, I glanced at the nearest ship I no longer knew whether it was friend or foe and as I saw the rows of restless oars moving in countless numbers to and fro, it seemed as if every ship had become a huge spider, and the long wooden handles of the oars were its legs and feet.
It was Hanford's first trip across, and he arrived on British soil without so much as a knowledge of English coins, with nothing in the way of baggage except a grip full of blue-prints, and with no destination except the Parliament buildings, where he had been led to believe the Royal Barrata Bridge Commission was eagerly and impatiently awaiting his coming.
They stood like a wall, and fell back only when ordered by their leader, then dashed through the strong lines of the enemy, and were brought off with safety out of what was seemingly certain destruction. He kept his men well together during the long march to Gauley Bridge. After his arrival at that point he was sent out to the front, up New River, where he rendered valuable service.
I wanted to see the sport. Well, he took his hoss by the bridle and led him over the bridge, and he follered kindly, then he mounted, and no hoss could go better.
You went down side streets by the harbour, in the darkness, across a rickety bridge, till you came to a deserted road, all ruts and holes, and then suddenly you came out into the light. There was parking room for motors on each side of the road, and there were saloons, tawdry and bright, each one noisy with its mechanical piano, and there were barbers' shops and tobacconists.
But Sir George allowed no respite: in five minutes they were clear of the houses and riding hard for Chippenham, the next stage on the Bristol road; Sir George's horse cantering free, the lawyer's groaning as it bumped across Studley bridge and its rider caught the pale gleam of the water below.
During this time a terrible fight was taking place in the centre. Melas with eighteen to twenty thousand men had attacked the fortified posts at the head of the bridge of Cassano and the Ritorto Canal.