“I hope so,” the doctor said, shrugging his shoulders. “There is one comfort, they can’t be much worse.”
At this moment a servant entered, bearing a bowl of soup and three basins. They at once seated themselves at the table.
“So you managed to get yourself captured yesterday,” Doctor Michaeloff said to Charlie. “I have not had the pleasure of seeing many of you gentlemen here.”
“We don’t come if we can help it,” Charlie laughed. “But the Cossacks were so pressing, that I could not resist. In fact, I did not know anything about it, until I was well on the way.”
“I hope they have made you comfortable,” the other said, sharply.
“I can’t say much for the food,” Charlie said, “and still less for the cell, which was bitterly cold. Still, as the doctor gave me two rugs to wrap myself up in, I need not grumble.”
“That is not right,” the other said angrily. “I hear that the King of Sweden treats our prisoners well.
“You should have remonstrated, Kelly.”
The Irishman shrugged his shoulders.
“I ventured to hint to the general that I thought an officer had a right to better treatment, even if he were a prisoner, but I was told sharply to mind my own business, which was with the sick and wounded. I said, as the prisoner was wounded, I thought it was a matter that did come to some extent under my control.”
“What did the pig say?”
“He grumbled something between his teeth, that I did not catch, and, as I thought the prisoner would not be kept there long, and was not unaccustomed to roughing it, it was not worthwhile pressing the matter further.”
“Have you heard that an officer has been here this afternoon, with a flag of truce, to treat for your exchange?” Doctor Michaeloff said, turning suddenly to Charlie.
“No, I have not heard anything about it,” Charlie said.
“He offered a captain for you, which you may consider a high honour.”
“It is, no doubt,” Charlie said, with a smile. “I suppose his majesty thought, as it was in his special service I was caught, he was bound to get me released, if he could.”
“It was a hunting party, was it not?”
“Yes. There was only the king with four of his officers there, and my company of foot, and fifty horse. I don’t think I can call it an escort, for we went principally as beaters.”
“Rustoff missed a grand chance there, Kelly.
“What regiment do you belong to?”
And he again turned to Charlie.
“The Malmoe Regiment. The company is commanded by an English gentleman, who is a neighbour and great friend of my father. His son is an ensign, and my greatest friend. The men are all either Scotch or English, but most of them Scotch.”
“They are good soldiers, the Scotch; none better. There are a good many in the Russian service, also in that of Austria and France. They are always faithful, and to be relied upon, even when native troops prove treacherous. And you like Charles of Sweden?”