“Level your spears, and charge through them shoulder to shoulder,” he said. “It is your only chance. Once through, throw away your spears, and break up in the darkness. Most of you may escape.
With a shout, the Swedes rushed forward in a body. Horses and riders went down before them. There was a rush from behind. Charlie shouted to the rear rank, to face about, but in the confusion and din his words were unheard. There was a brief struggle in the darkness. Charlie emptied his pistols, and cut down more than one of his opponents, then a sword fell on his shoulder, while at the same moment he was ridden over by a Cossack, and was stunned by the force of his fall.
When he recovered consciousness, several men with torches were moving about him, and, at the orders of an officer, were examining the bodies of the fallen. He saw them pass their swords through the bodies of three of his own men, who were lying near him, and as they came up to him he closed his eyes, expecting a similar fate.
“This is an officer, captain,” one of the torch bearers said in Russian.
“Very well. Carry him to the camp, then. If he is alive, the general may want to question him.”
Seeing that he breathed, four of the Russian soldiers took him upon their shoulders, and carried him away. The pain of his wound, caused by the movement, was acute, but he retained consciousness until, after what seemed to him a journey of immense length, he was again laid down on the ground, close to a large fire. Several officers stood round him, and he asked, first in Polish and then in Swedish, for water, and at the orders of one who seemed of superior rank to the others, some was at once brought to him.
“Your king treats his prisoners well,” the officer said. “We will do everything we can for you.”
Half an hour later, a doctor came to his side, and cutting open his coat, applied a bandage to his shoulder.
“Is it a serious wound?” Charlie asked in Swedish.
“It might be worse, but it will be a troublesome one; it is a sabre cut, and has cleft right through your shoulder bone. Are you hurt anywhere else?”
“No, I do not think so. I was knocked down in the dark, and I believe stunned, though I have a sort of recollection of being trampled on, and I feel sore all over.”
The surgeon felt his ribs and limbs, repeatedly asking him if it hurt him. When he finished the examination, he said:
“You are doubtless badly bruised, but I don’t think anything is broken. Our Cossack horses are little more than ponies. Had they been heavy horse, they would have trod your life out.”
A few moments later there was a sound of trampling horses. They halted close by. The officers drew back, and a moment later Marshal Scheremetof, the commander of the Russian army, came up to Charlie’s side.
“Which of you speaks Swedish?” he asked the officers, and one of them stepped forward.