Charlie remained but a short time at Bercov. His wound was healing rapidly, and the surgeon who attended him assured him that there was every prospect of his making a complete cure, if he would but keep his arm, for some weeks, in a sling.
He had nothing to complain of, either as to his comfort or food. The governor, who spoke a little Polish, visited him every day, and asked many questions as to his native country. On one of these visits he said to him:
“You asked me yesterday if I knew Doctor Kelly, one of the chief surgeons of the army, who, as you had heard, was at present on the Volga. You mentioned that he was a friend of yours, and that you had made his acquaintance, when you were unlucky enough before to be a prisoner in our hands. I am sorry to say that I have today seen an official report, in which his name appears among the list of those who have fallen victims to the pestilence.”
“I am sorry to hear that,” Charlie exclaimed; “both because he was very kind to me, and I liked him much, and because, in the second place, I was sure that he would have used his influence, with the czar, to obtain my exchange as soon as possible.”
“It is very unfortunate,” the governor said, “especially as these exchanges are of rare occurrence. A few officers may be taken prisoners on each side in the skirmishes, but the numbers are too small to make the loss of any importance, either to Russia or Sweden, and it is months since either have taken any steps to bring about exchanges. I myself have no influence. My appointment here is a sort of punishment, for having offended the czar by not having brought up my regiment in time to take part in the fight, when you attacked us at Narva. I saved the regiment, but that was not regarded as any excuse for having been three days longer on the march than the czar expected; so I was sent here, as a sort of dismissal from active service.
“You know no one else who could move in your matter?”
“No one. The governor of the castle at Plescow was a surly fellow, and was reprimanded by the czar, at least so I heard, for not having treated me sufficiently well. I was only three or four days there, and the only officer I saw besides Doctor Kelly was a friend of his, another doctor. He was at the table when I dined with Kelly. He seemed to me to be a fine fellow, and, by the by, he did say jokingly that, if I was ever made prisoner again, I was to ask for him, and that he would do anything he could for me.”
“What was his name?” the governor asked.
“Do you know him?” he added, as he saw a look of surprise in the governor’s face.
“I know one of that name,” the governor said doubtfully, “I don’t know that he is a doctor; though he may be, for he knows something of many things.”
“Oh, he was a doctor,” Charlie said confidently. “I know Kelly said he could take off a limb as well as he could do it, himself.”