Concerning the German armored cruiser Augusta, the following are the facts: About the middle of December she forced the blockade at Wilhelmshafen and ran for Ireland, where, owing to the complaisance of the British authorities, she was permitted to coal.
From there she steamed towards Brest, capturing a French merchant craft off that port, another near Rochefort, and finally a third. That ended her active career during the war; a French frigate chased her into the port of Vigo and kept her there.
To conclude, certain localities and certain characters have been sufficiently disguised to render recognition improbable. This is proper because “The Lizard” is possibly alive to-day, as are also the mayor of Paradise, Sylvia Elven, Jacqueline, and Speed, the latter having barely escaped death in the Virginius expedition. The original of Buckhurst now lives in New York, and remains a type whose rarity is its only recommendation.
Those who believe they recognize the Countess de Vassart are doubtless in error. Mornac, long dead, is safe in his disguise; Tric-Trac was executed on the Place de la Roquette, and celebrated in doggerel by an unspeakable ballad writer. There remains Scarlett; dead or alive, I wish him well.
They came, too, from all parts of the huge, sprawling Empire, these girl-soldiers of the Battalion of Death––and there were Cossack girls and gypsies among them––girls from Finland, Courland, from the Urals, from Moscow, from Siberia––from North, South, East, West.
There were Jewesses from the Pale and one Jewess from America in the ranks; there were Chinese girls, Poles, a child of fifteen from Trebizond, a Japanese girl, a French peasant lass; and there were Finns, too, and Scandinavians––all with clipped hair under the astrakhan caps––sturdy, well shaped, soldierly girls who handled their heavy rifles without effort and carried a regulation equipment as though it were a sheaf of flowers.
Their commanding officer was a woman of forty. She lounged in front of the battalion in the snow, consulting with half a dozen officers of a man’s regiment.
The colour guard stood grouped around the battalion colours, where its white and gold folds swayed languidly in the breeze, and clots of virgin snow fell upon it, shaken down from the pines by the cannonade.
Estridge gazed at them in silence. In his man’s mind one thought dominated––the immense pity of it all. And there was a dreadful fascination in looking at these girl soldiers, whose soft, warm flesh was so soon to be mangled by shrapnel and slashed by bayonets.