“Ask him what force was this that attacked us, and with what object.”
As Charlie saw no reason for concealment, he replied that it was a body of four hundred Swedish infantry, and a troop of horse, with four guns, and that their object was to enter the town.
“They must have been mad to attempt to cut their way through our whole army,” the general said, when the answer was translated to him; “but, by Saint Paul, they nearly succeeded. The Swedes are mad, but this was too much even for madmen. Ask him whence the force came. It may be that a large reinforcement has reached Vyburg, without our knowing it.”
“We arrived two days since,” Charlie replied, when the question was put to him. “We came in a ship together from Revel.”
“Did others come with you?” was next asked, at the general’s dictation.
“No other ship but ours has arrived.”
“But others are coming?”
As Charlie had no doubt that great efforts would be made to send further reinforcements, he replied:
“Many more troops are coming, but I cannot say when they will arrive.”
“Will it be soon?”
“That I cannot say, but I don’t think they will come from Revel. There was a talk of large reinforcements, but whether from Sweden or from the king’s army, I cannot say.”
“Are you a Swede?” the general asked.
“I am an Englishman in the Swedish service, general.”
“We have many of your countrymen with us,” the general said. “It would have been better for you, had you come to the czar.
“See that he is well treated,” he said to the officers, and then mounted and rode away.
Chapter 15: An Old Acquaintance.
The next morning Charlie was placed in a tent, in which lay several officers who had been wounded, either the night before or by shots from the town. He learned with great pleasure, upon questioning the doctor, that the Swedes had got off safely in the darkness. Some eight or ten men only had straggled and been made prisoners, and not more than twenty had been left dead on the field. He had the satisfaction, therefore, of knowing that the defence made by his own pikemen had been the means of saving the whole force. In other respects he had nothing to complain of, for he was well attended to, and received the same treatment as the Russians.
For another ten days the roar of the cannon continued, some seventy guns keeping up an incessant fire on the town. At the end of that time the governor capitulated, and was allowed to march out with the honours of war.
Only forty out of the brave garrison remained unwounded at the end of the siege. They, as well as such of their comrades as were strong enough to travel, passed through the lines of the Russians, and marched to Vyburg.
Three weeks after being made a prisoner, Charlie’s wound was so far healed that the surgeon pronounced him able to sit a horse, and, under the escort of an officer and four Cossacks, he was taken by easy stages to Bercov, a prison fortress a short distance from Moscow. He had inquired from the surgeon who attended him for Doctor Kelly. The doctor knew him, but said that he was not with the army, but was, he believed, away visiting some towns on the Volga, where a serious pestilence was raging.