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Title: Trapped in 'Black Russia' - Letters June-November 1915
Author: Pierce, Ruth
Language: English
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 TRAPPED IN
 "BLACK RUSSIA"

 _Letters_

 JUNE-NOVEMBER 1915

 BY RUTH PIERCE

 BOSTON AND NEW YORK
 HOUGHTON MIFFLIN COMPANY
 The Riverside Press Cambridge
 1918



 COPYRIGHT, 1917, BY THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY COMPANY

 COPYRIGHT, 1918, BY RUTH PHINNEY PIERCE

 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

 _Published February 1918_



TRAPPED IN "BLACK RUSSIA"


CONTENTS

                                                       PAGE

    I. JUNE-JULY, 1915                                   1
   II. JULY-AUGUST, 1915                                42
  III. AUGUST-SEPTEMBER, 1915                           66
   IV. SEPTEMBER-OCTOBER, 1915                          93
    V. OCTOBER, 1915                                   122
   VI. OCTOBER-NOVEMBER, 1915                          130



"BLACK RUSSIA"



I


                                   _June 30, 1915._

_Dearest Mother and Dad:--_

There is no reason why this letter should ever reach you if you consider
that it's war-time and that I am in Russia. Still, the censor may be
sleeping when it comes along, or I may find a way to slip it over the
border under his very nose. I always have a blind faith that my words
will reach you somehow.

I am in Russia--without Peter. Don't be frightened, dearests. I came
with Marie, and we will go back to Bucharest together in a week. Only a
week in Russia. Oh, if the top of my head could be lifted off and let
out everything I want to tell you.

We had no difficulty in crossing the frontier. The little Roumanian
train took us over a river, and all at once we were out of the
make-believe country where the stage always seems set for _opéra-bouffe_
There were no more pretty Tziganes, with disheveled hair and dirty,
bare breasts, to offer you baskets of roses and white lilies. There were
no Turks in red fezes squatting in the dust, hunting among their rags
for fleas, and there were no more slender peasants in tight white-wool
trousers and beautiful embroidered shirts. Everything, just by crossing
a river, had grown more serious and sober-colored and several sizes
larger. Pale-blue uniforms gave place to dingy olive-brown ones.

A porter took care of our luggage. He was exactly what I expected. He
wore a white smock with red and blue embroidery at the neck and wrists.
His reddish beard was long and Tolstoyan. We followed him into the big,
empty railway station, and there a soldier took away our passports and
we were left waiting in the _douane_, behind locked and guarded doors,
together with a crowd of bewildered Jews and Roumanians.

"It isn't much like the Roumanian frontier, is it?--where the
dreamy-eyed official visés your passport without looking at it--he's so
busy looking at you," Marie observed.

"No," I replied. "This is Russia. I am in Russia," kept going through
my head, and I felt like Alice in Wonderland, trying to adjust myself to
new perspectives.

"I hate getting back here," Marie went on. "It was too good to be in a
country, if only for a little while, where they took things easily. If
I'd stayed a little longer, I believe I could have laughed myself and
felt in a personal relationship toward life again."

That's what I was glad to get away from. You get too personal if you
stay in Roumania long. Roumania gets to mean Bucharest, and Bucharest
the universe. As I sat waiting in the _douane_, I felt like puffing out
and growing to make room for Russia inside me.

We waited hours.

"Can't you hurry our passports?" Marie asked an official. "We want to
leave on this train."

The official raised his shoulders helplessly.

"_Seichas_," he replied.

"What does that mean?"

"Presently--immediately--never," Marie replied in exasperation.

The train we were to have taken for Kiev left without us, on tracks
twice as wide as those of the Roumanian toy railroad. Only a courier
with a diplomatic pouch got on.

"It's like that here, always," Marie said. "No system, no economy of
time, or anything else." Suddenly she began to laugh. "Everything gets
on my nerves as soon as I get into Russia."

We left late in the afternoon. The air in our compartment was hot and
stale. When we opened the window, the wind blew in on our faces in
parching gusts. But it was grateful after the smells of cabbage, soup,
tobacco, and dirty Jews that we had been breathing for five hours in the
_douane_.

We sat by the window, cracking dried sunflower seeds, and looking out at
the steppes of Little Russia. The evening shadows were already lying in
the hollows of the fields of ripening wheat, but the late sun still
reddened the crests and the column of smoke from our engine. Frightened
larks rose from the tall grain. We passed patches of dark woods,
scattered thatched huts. Along a road came a man and a woman in peasant
dress. The train seemed to slow up on purpose to let us have a glimpse
of them through a thin, fine powder of golden dust, in their dark
homespuns, with patches of red embroidery on the white sleeves and
necks of their blouses. They carried a green box between them. Once we
passed through a wood of pale-green birches with thin silver stems. It
was a relief to see lines going up and down after the wide, level lines
of the steppes.

And then it grew dark. A sense of sadness filled me, and I was glad when
the conductor lighted the lamp and made up my berth. We lay down as we
were, all dressed, and the train rushing and swinging along deadened my
mind and feelings.

I was wakened by the conductor's twitching the covering back from the
light. Our carriage had broken down and was going to be side-tracked.

Then began the most restless night I ever spent. We bumped along in a
third-class carriage, and descended to wait for an hour or more on the
platform of some little crossroad station. We sat on our bags till our
spines cracked with fatigue. The men smoked one cigarette after another.
As far as I could see stretched dark fields lighted dimly by thick
stars, with a wind blowing out of the darkness into our faces. No one
spoke. Down the tracks a round white headlight grew bigger and bigger.
The noise of the approaching train filled the night. We scrambled into
another third-class carriage and sat on some more hard, narrow seats for
an hour or so.

At last the dawn came--a square of gray light through the train window.
Almost every one had fallen asleep. How pallid and ugly they looked with
their mouths open and their heads lolling forward!

At ten we changed for the last time before Kiev. The carriage was not
divided up into compartments, but was open, with rows of seats and an
aisle down the center, like our trains in America,--only there was an
upper story of seats, too. I stretched out and went to sleep. When I
woke the carriage was filled. Marie and I occupied one seat together.

Opposite us sat a fat, red-nosed man, with a fur cap, though it was
summer. Between his legs was a huge, bulky bag. When the train stopped,
he put a pinch of tea in his little blue enameled teapot, which he
filled at the hot-water tank that is at every Russian station just for
that purpose. He pulled out of his bag numberless newspaper packages and
spread them out on the newspaper across his knees--big fat sausages and
thin fried ones, a chunk of ham, a boiled chicken, dried pressed meat, a
lump of melting butter, some huge cucumber pickles, and cheese. With a
murderous-looking knife he cut thick slices from a big round loaf of
bread that he held against his breast. He sweetened his tea with some
sugar from another package, and sliced a lemon into it. When he had
finished eating, he carefully rolled up the food again and put it away,
and settled back in his chair. With great deliberation he took out of
his vest pocket a little black box with bright flowers painted on the
lid. He fingered it lovingly for a moment, then he took a pinch of
snuff, closing his eyes in ecstasy and inhaling deeply. He did this
three times and blew his nose vigorously. Then he put the box away,
brushing off the gray grains of powder that had fallen down his vest
front. All day long, every time the train stopped, he refilled his
little blue enameled teapot and repeated the ceremony, even to the last
grain of snuff.

Across the aisle sat two priests, unshaven and unshorn, in wide black
hats, their long, greasy black hair falling over the shoulders of their
dirty gray gowns. They spent the day in prayer and eating and drinking.
They were evidently bound for Kiev on a holy pilgrimage to the Lavra.

In the seat above the old man who took snuff lay a young woman, propped
on her elbow. Every time I looked at her she was laughing, pressing a
pomegranate seed between her lips. Her hands were very thin and white.
Her face was long and thin and framed by short, clipped hair. Every now
and then a young officer came up to her and took her hand, and asked if
she wanted anything. She answered him indifferently, but when he went
back to his seat, her eyes followed him and rested on him with the long,
narrow look of a watchful cat.

At noon and night we stopped at railway stations for our meals. After
Bulgaria and Roumania it was bewildering to see the counters laden with
hot and cold meats and vegetables and appetizing _zakouskas_, and thick
_ztchee_ soup, and steaming samovars for tea. Through the open windows
came refreshing puffs of wind. At the restaurant tables sat officers,
rich Jews, and traveling business men--nothing much in it all to suggest
war. Always, on the station walls were bright-colored portraits, in
heavy gilt frames, of the Czar and Czarina and the royal family. And
always in the corners of the room were ikons with candles lighted before
them at night. The train always started before people had finished
eating. At supper, one of the priests almost got left and had to run for
it, a piece of meat-pie in one hand, the other holding up his flapping
gray gown.

After sunset, more and more officers and soldiers about. At stations,
orderlies elbowing their way through the crowd to secure seats for their
officers; officers shouting to their orderlies; officers alone or with
their families, arriving with valises and bundles and pillows--enough
equipment to meet any eventuality.

Another night to get through somehow, sitting bolt upright in a car
thick with tobacco smoke and smelling of stale food and soldiers' boots.

Once we stopped for an hour out in the fields. Marie and I opened our
window and stuck our heads out of doors to breathe the cool air. Extra
cars had been put on during the day, and we could see the long curve of
the train behind us, with the red squares of the lighted windows. There
was a movement of troops, and soldiers occupied every inch of space. We
could hear them singing soldier songs in parts, with pronounced rhythm
and unutterably sad cadences. Some one played their accompaniment on a
_balalaika_. Back and forth under our train window a woman paced
restlessly. Never shall I forget the soldiers' singing to the
_balalaika_, and the woman with her white face in the darkness, and the
millions of stars so very far away.

The second morning, about eight, we pulled into Kiev. Our train was so
long that we had some distance to walk before reaching the station. As
we approached, I saw a crowd of people being driven into baggage cars. I
was so tired and confused by the journey that I didn't distinguish who
they were at first. When I got close to them, I saw that they were
thin-faced Jews in clothes too big for them. The men looked about them
with quick, furtive movements, a bewildered, frightened look in their
dark eyes. The women held their shawls over their faces, and pressed
against their skirts were little children. A stale, dirty smell came
from them all. I overcame my disgust and looked more closely. How white
the faces were, with purple sockets for the eyes, and dried, cracked
lips! No one seemed to have any personality. One pallid face was like
another under the stamp of suffering. Gendarmes with whips kept them on
the move, and struck the leader when there was any mix-up that halted
the procession for a moment. The Jews seemed to shrink into themselves
under the lash, sinking their heads between their thin, narrow
shoulders, then pressed forward again with frantic haste.

I heard the clanking of iron, and into a separate baggage car I noticed
the gendarmes were driving a group linked together with heavy iron
chains. I was horrified! I had the persistent impression of passing
through an experience already known--"Where have I seen this before?"
went over and over in my mind, and I felt a dread that seemed the
forewarning of some personal danger to myself. I was so very near such
terrible and hopeless suffering. What kept me from stepping into that
stream of whip-driven, helpless people?

"Who are they?" I asked Marie.

"They are Galician Jews whom the Government is transporting into
Siberia."

"But why?"

"Because the Russians don't trust Jews. Whole villages and towns in
Galicia are emptied and taken to Siberia by _étapes_--part of the way
by marches, part in baggage cars."

"In this heat?" I exclaimed. "But hundreds must die!"

"Not hundreds--thousands," Marie replied.

"Does it do any good?"

"No. But this present Government is very reactionary and the persecution
of the Jews is part of its programme. You know, it is always under the
reactionary Government, which is pro-German, that the pogroms take
place."

We had got into a droshky and were driving through city streets. Women
from the country were bringing in milk. People seemed to be walking
about freely enough.

The Jews with their bowed necks seemed far away--as though, after all, I
had read about them in a book. Could I have elbowed them and smelt them
only a few minutes ago?

I was in Russia. How sweet the morning air was! We were climbing a
cobble-stoned hill. Institutska Oulitza. Here we are! And we stopped at
the Tchedesky Pension.

Good-bye for now. Armfuls of love from

                                   RUTH.


                                   _July 5, 1915._

_Darlingest Mother and Dad:--_

We have been in Kiev several days. Our passports have been handed in to
the police station to be viséed and put in order for our return trip to
Bucharest. They say a human being in Russia is made of body and
passport.

Kiev is full of color. It is framed in green trees that hide the
ugliness of modern buildings and seem to lift the gold and silver domes
of the churches up into the air. And how many churches there are! Kiev
is in truth a holy city. Late afternoon, when the sun shines through the
dust of the day and envelops the city in golden powder; when the gold
and silver domes of the churches float up over the tree-tops like
unsubstantial, gleaming bubbles, and the bells fill the air with lovely,
mellow sounds,--then I can truly say I have felt more deeply religious
than ever before in my life. Yet, suddenly, I see the woman who climbs
Institutska Oulitza every evening on her knees. She is dressed in black,
and deeply veiled, and every evening she climbs the hill on her knees.
At first I thought she was a cripple, but, on arriving at the top of the
hill, she rose to her feet and walked away.

"What is she doing?" I asked Marie.

"Oh, a penance, probably, that the Church has imposed on her."

And then the churches and their domes grow almost hateful to me. I think
of the Russian peasants with their foreheads in the dust, and the
greasy, long-haired priests I see on the streets.

Yet I don't know--perhaps the priests don't really matter. After all,
there must be something in the people's hearts--a belief--an idealism--a
faith in God that keeps them loving Russia, dreaming for her, and able
to dream again after they've seen their dreams trampled on. No, the
priests and their autocracy don't matter. The people believe, and that's
the important thing.

We went out yesterday afternoon to the Lavra--the stronghold of Black
Russia. It is a monastery on the edge of the town, overlooking the
Dnieper and flanked with battlemented walls to withstand the attacks of
the infidels in olden times. From all over Russia and the Balkans
pilgrims go there to visit the catacombs, where many church saints are
buried, their bodies miraculously preserved under red and gold
clothes--so the priests say.

The road leading to it passed the barracks, where we saw young recruits
drilling. They were learning to walk, and their arms swung stiffly and
self-consciously, and their legs bent at the knees and straightened
again like the wooden legs of mechanical toys. As they marched, they
sang wonderful Russian soldier songs. They appeared to be about
twenty-three or twenty-four, as though they had got their growth, and
were tall and broad-shouldered--not at all like the batch of Austrian
prisoners we passed a few minutes later, and who looked like pathetic,
bewildered children, beardless for the most part, and in uniforms too
large for them. They shuffled along in a cloud of gray dust under a
metallic sun. Some were slightly wounded in the head or arm, and were
supported by their comrades. As I passed, I encountered certain
eyes--frank, gray eyes that reminded me of Morris. The long, white,
dusty road became tragic to me, with the prisoners in their worn blue
uniforms, and those who were about to die, singing in the distance.

We met bullock-carts crawling into town, coming from distant villages,
with fresh vegetables for the markets. The peasants walked by the oxen,
prodding them with short sticks. There seem to be so many men here of
military age, yet not in the army. It isn't like other countries, where
every one but the Jews is in uniform. Russia has so many men. They say
five million more could easily be raised if they had the officers and
ammunition.

We reached a high plaster wall, with little booths built under its
shadows, where pilgrims bought souvenirs of the Lavra--gaudy ikons,
colored handkerchiefs and shawls, beads and baskets.

A group of pilgrims entered the gate in front of us, all from the same
village, evidently, for the women's dresses resembled each other's in
cut and embroidery, and a few of the younger women's were even dyed the
same color, as often happens in wool of the same shearing. In spite of
the heat, the men wore sheepskin coats and fur caps, and the women's
skirts were thick with petticoats. Some of the women led children by the
hand; others carried babies in their arms, poor little mites, with faces
covered with sores, and eyes red and blinking as though they were going
blind. They all bent and kissed the hand of the priest who sold candles
under the covered arched gateway, and then they passed into the open
square surrounded by the monastery walls. There was a sort of garden
here; all the grass worn off by the countless pilgrims who had visited
the shrine, but with trees in whose shade the peasants rested when their
sins had been forgiven. Some lay curled up on the ground, fast asleep;
others sat with their legs spread comfortably apart, eating bread and
meat; and others drank thirstily from the well, or let the water run
over their tired feet.

Facing us was the church with its gold domes blindingly bright against
the blue sky. We followed the pilgrims and entered the chapel, where
everything suddenly grew hushed and dark, with a strange odor--a mixture
of thick, sweet incense and melting candle grease, and smelly,
perspiring peasants.

The pilgrims bought candles and lighted them, and knelt on the flagging
before the altar. Behind an elaborate railing the lustrous jewels and
gold of the vessels and crucifixes glowed richly in the dim light.
Priests in gorgeous vestments were going through some church ceremony.
Their deep chanting filled the church. They knelt and rose, and finally,
by a mechanical contrivance, something was raised in an inner shrine,
and a priest took off a cloth of crimson and gold, and uncovered a
wonderful gold cup encrusted with jewels. I leaned against a pillar,
watching the kneeling peasants, and over their bent backs the mystery
and richness of the altar glowing with jewels and only half disclosed by
the tiny pointed candle flames flickering in the darkness. The Lavra is
one of the two richest monasteries in Russia. Its wealth is fathomless.
It has lent emperors treasure with which to fight the infidels, and on
returning from holy wars the emperors have brought it back to the church
increased a hundred fold by royal gifts of jewels and loot.

We went out into the blinding sunlight again, and down a long flight of
cloister steps to the catacombs.

A priest was selling bottles of a white liquid.

"What is it?" Marie asked.

"Holy water," the priest replied. "It is not for your kind." But he took
the kopecks of an old peasant woman. "Rub it on your joints and it will
cure their stiffness," he said to her, with a cynical smile.

Three fat priests sat at the entrance of the catacombs, selling
different-sized candles. The very poor peasants, who came barefooted,
could only afford the very thin tapers, while the rich villagers, with
heavy, well-made boots and much embroidery on their clothes, bought
candles as thick as a man's thumb, and sometimes two or three at a time,
which they held lighted between their fingers.

A short, fat priest, his face dripping with perspiration, led us through
the catacombs. He would wipe the sweat out of his eyes with the sleeve
of his dirty gown, and point to the saints' tombs with the big iron key
he carried. I was pressed close to him by the crowd of peasants behind.
The smell of his greasy body and the powder of dandruff from his long
hair on the shoulders of his gown, the malicious way he looked at me as
though to say, "You and I know that what I'm saying is rot, but it must
be said to them"--it was indescribably disgusting.

We wound through narrow, dungeon-like passages with the cold, damp smell
of an unused cellar. Now and then, through barred windows in the stone
walls, I caught glimpses of tall forms lying in a row, covered with
dingy red and gold cloths.

"Here lie nine brothers who lived for twenty years in this cell. Their
only food was bread and water three times a week. As you see, they had
no room to stand upright in, and were always pressed close to each
other."

The peasants peered through the bars wonderingly.

We passed a body stretched out on a stone ledge.

"This holy saint cured the blind," the priest continued in a sing-song
voice. "He lived in a cell too small to lie down in. For twenty-two
years he never opened his mouth. His body, like the bodies of all the
holy saints in these catacombs, is preserved without a sign of decay
under this cloth." A peasant woman lifted her little boy up to kiss the
edge of the dirty red pall. The pale flame of her candle flickered and
the melted wax dripped on to the cloth. The woman wiped it off quickly,
and glanced in a frightened way at the priest. But he turned away
indifferently and went on.

We saw the bust of a man buried to his arm-pits in the floor. I would
have stumbled over him, but the priest caught my arm.

"This is a holy saint, who, for twenty-five years, stood as you see him,
buried in the earth to above his waist. He never spoke and only ate
bread and water twice a week."

I looked at the peasants. Their faces were scared and white. A few hung
back with a morbid curiosity.

"Come, come," the priest called impatiently. "Keep together. Some get
lost here and never get out again."

I had heard of three pretty peasant girls who had mysteriously
disappeared in the catacombs.

"Ouf!" The priest unlocked an iron door and we came squinting out into
the daylight again. He held the door open and mopped his face as we
filed past him, snuffing our candles. The pilgrims kept theirs.

Outside, some of the peasants clustered about the priest and asked him
questions. As I glanced back over my shoulder, I saw the circle of
round, inquiring faces with their look of unbounded confidence.

We went around back of the monastery to an open plateau overlooking the
Dnieper. The river curved like a blue ribbon, and we could see the three
pontoon bridges for "military reasons." On the low bank opposite were
the soldiers' white tents laid out in regular squares. A ferry-boat was
carrying some soldiers across the river. The sun flashed on the
sentries' bayonets along the bank.

I heard the whine of a hand-organ. An armless beggar was turning the
crank of an organ with his bare feet. The plateau was fairly alive with
beggars, hopping about in the dust like fleas. Some were armless; others
legless. They swung along at our heels on long, muscular arms, with
leather on the palms of their hands, or dragged distorted, paralyzed
bodies that tried to stand upright by our sides.

In the white, hot sunlight squatted an old man with a white, pointed
beard so long that it lay out on the dust in front of him. In his arms
he held a book done up in red cloth. He was blind. If you put a coin in
a tin cup he wore round his neck, he would undo his book and open it,
and by divine inspiration read the holy words of the page in front of
him.

A row of seven blind women lined the exit. They began to whine as we
approached, and stretched out their hands gropingly. The eyes of one
woman had completely disappeared as though they had been knotted up and
pulled back into her head. Another's bulged like a dead fish's, with
that dull, bluish look in them. Another's lids were closed and crusted
with sores, flies continuously creeping over them, but apparently she
was indifferent. The seven blind women sat in rags and filth. Shall I
ever forget them in the burning sunlight, with their terrible eyes and
greedy fingers and the whine of their voices merging into the tune of
the hand-organ?

When we left the monastery, a group of wounded soldiers were just
entering. With them was a woman in a man's uniform. Her hair was curly
and short, and her chin pointed. Her feet looked ridiculously small in
the heavy, high, soldier's boots, and in spite of a strut her knees
knocked together in an unmistakably feminine manner. But the men treated
her quite as one of themselves. One soldier, who had had his leg cut off
up to the thigh, supported himself by her shoulder. I have seen several
women soldiers in Kiev, and they say there are many in the Russian army.

It is strange, seeing these things without Peter. I expect to go back to
Bucharest with Marie and Janchu within a week. There Peter will meet
us. I wish he were here now.

So much love, my dearests, every day and every night from

                                   RUTH.


                                   _July 20, 1915._

_Darlingest Mother and Dad:--_

Before dawn this morning I was wakened by a shuffling noise from the
street. It was not soldiers marching. There was no rhythm to it. Marie
and I went to the window and looked out.

Behind the dark points of the poplars, in the convent garden across the
street, the sky was growing light. The birds were beginning to sing. The
air was sweet and cool after the night. And down the hill was passing a
stream of people, guarded on either side by soldiers with bayonets. I
rubbed the sleep from my eyes to look more closely, for there was
something ominous in the snail's pace of the procession.

They were Jews, waxen-faced, their thin bodies bent with fatigue. Some
had taken their shoes off, and limped along barefooted over the
cobble-stones. Others would have fallen if their comrades had not held
them up. Once or twice a man lurched out of the procession as though he
was drunk or had suddenly gone blind, and a soldier cuffed him back into
line again. Some of the women carried babies wrapped in their shawls.
There were older children dragging at the women's skirts. The men
carried bundles knotted up in their clothes. They stumbled and pitched
along, as if they had no control over their skinny bodies; as if after
another step they would all suddenly collapse and fall down on their
faces like a crowd of scarecrows with a strong wind behind them. Some
had their eyes closed; others stared ahead with their faces like dirty
gray masks, with huge bony noses and sunken eyes. The procession showed
no sign of coming to an end. It crawled on and on, and a stench rose
from it that poisoned the morning air. The sound of the shuffling feet
seemed to fill the universe.

"Where are they going?"--I whispered to Marie.

"To the Detention Camp here. They come from Galicia, and Kiev is one of
the stopping-places on their way to Siberia."

"Do they walk all the way here?"

"Usually. Let's shut the window and keep out the smell."

I went back to bed. I felt so safe, with Janchu sleeping in his crib in
the corner. The creeping, submissive procession seemed a dream. It was
incredible to think of only the wall of a house separating our security
from those hundreds of fainting, persecuted Jews!

We are still here--waiting for our passports to be returned. Of course
no mail from you has been forwarded to me here, as Peter is hourly
expecting me back. I am cut off from all I love most in the world. The
Russian frontier takes on a new significance once you're inside it. I
hope you don't forget me. Sometimes you seem millions of miles away--and
then I look in my heart and find you there. I love you.

                                   RUTH.


                                   _July 25, 1915._

The Tchedesky Pension is full of Poles--refugees from Poland and the
wooded Russian provinces.

Pan Tchedesky himself was formerly an enormously wealthy landowner near
Kiev. He loves to tell how he drove through town behind six white
horses. Gambling ruined him, and to pay his debts he sold one acre after
another to the Jews, who cut down the timber and ruined the land. Of
course, where there are no trees the rainfall is scarce. The crops dried
up, and finally Pan Tchedesky and his wife and children were forced into
the city. There remained enough of his former property to start a
_pension_. The rooms are full of the remains of his splendor--heavy gilt
mirrors, thick, flowered carpets, a Louis XVI set in the drawing-room,
upholstered in faded blue brocade.

Pan Tchedesky is a memorial of his own life; a relic suggesting an
earlier opulence. He is big-framed, but his flesh is shrunken, as though
the wind of conceit were oozing out of him day by day. His cheeks and
stomach hang flabbily. His blond mustache is getting thin and discloses
his full, sensual lips. His hands are thick and soft, always stained
with nicotine. He lives in constant terror of his wife, and all the
pockets of his coats are burned full of holes from his hiding his
cigarettes in them when he thinks he hears his wife coming. I have never
seen her, but she is the invisible force that keeps the _pension_
running, and controls her husband by her knowledge of his past failures.

"My wife is an executive woman--very executive," he says, shaking his
head sorrowfully.

The bills are made out by her. Occasionally he intercepts the maid
carrying her back the money, and extracts enough to pay a small per cent
of his I O U's, which allows him to continue gambling with his guests.
His moist, soft fingers tremble as he holds the cards, and he infuriates
every one by his erratic bidding.

A guest slams his hand down on the table and calls Tchedesky a name.

Tchedesky's whitish, livid cheeks shake, and his lips open uncertainly.
But he must be discreet. He does not dare offend his guests, for he
wants to play with them again, and he must not let his wife know that he
is gambling. So he begs pardon in a whisper.

There is a pretty maid in the _pension_ called Antosha. She has light,
frowzy hair, and a round, full figure. The other maids are jealous of
her. When she dresses up to wait on the table at dinner at three
o'clock, she wears a cheap pink silk waist and long gilt earrings, and
two or three little rings with blue and red stones. Her wages are
fifteen roubles a month. One day I saw Tchedesky kissing her on the
neck. Very white and shaken, he came to me afterwards and begged me to
say nothing about it to any one.

He has terrible scenes with his wife, who is hysterical and grows rigid.
He stays up with her all night and uses it as an excuse to get a
morphine injection for his own nervousness next day. He is quite
courteous and frankly loves women and food and money. I feel as though,
if I poked my finger into him, he would burst like a rotten potato.

There is the Morowski family from near Cracow. Pan Morowski's brother is
in the Austrian Chamber of Deputies, but he and his family are Russian
subjects. They have been here in Kiev for some months now. For seven
days he and his eldest daughter remained while the Russians and
Austrians fought for their farm. The rest of the family had been sent
into Kiev, but these two had hoped that by staying they might preserve
their farm from being plundered and burned. The Austrians had sacked
their neighbors' houses. The Austrian officers' wives had followed in
the wake of the army and had taken the linen from the closets, and the
ball-gowns, and the silver--even the pictures off the walls.

Lovely weather it was. The girl said you would hardly realize there was
war, sometimes. The gardener would go out and straighten the trampled
flowers. The carts of wounded would pass regularly, stopping
occasionally for water or tea. They would say the fighting had passed
on. And then, suddenly, the crack and boom would approach again, shaking
the house walls--the little uncurling puffs of smoke against the blue
sky--the gray-blue uniformed Austrians hurrying past in retreat. No
carts of wounded any more. There was too much hurry to bother about the
wounded.

Russians in possession again, and Russian instead of Austrian officers
quartered at their house. How much more polite the Russians were--so
much more gallant and kind-hearted! They didn't treat you as though you
were a servant--"Do this. Do that." They brought some of their wounded
to the farm, and Miss Morowski helped nurse them.

But at last the father and daughter had been obliged to leave with the
Russians. How furious the Russians had been--so depressed and
discouraged when the order came to retreat. There had been no fighting
round there for several days, and suddenly the news came that the whole
army was retreating. Why? They said there was no ammunition. So the
father and daughter left their property in the care of the gardener and
his wife, who were too old to move. How terrible it had been to abandon
this ground that so many Russians had died to win! No ammunition.
Waste--mismanagement--graft.

Those in Petrograd should think more of their country and less of their
own pockets. The unquestioning courage of the simple Russian soldiers!
Every one ready to die--and yet nothing to back them up. It was
disheartening.

"The Russians gave us a place in a cart, and we left in utter
confusion--soldiers, motor-cars, cattle, wounded, with the Austrian
cannon rumbling behind us."

"Were you frightened?" I asked. We were speaking French together.

"Not so frightened as sad. I was leaving my home. All my life I had
spent there excepting for a few weeks in the winter when mother used to
take us to Cracow for the balls. I hated to leave my beautiful party
dresses hanging up in the closets. I know some Austrian woman will wear
them. And I can't bear to think of our house burned! We have had such
jolly times there, hunting and riding and visiting the neighbors. You
don't know life on a Polish estate, do you? I can tell you there is
nothing so charming in the world."

Pan Morowski is a handsome, full-blooded man, and plays bridge all day
either in the _pension_ drawing-room or at the club.

His wife is small and nervous, and you can see that her main object in
life is to marry off her daughters well. She has three daughters,
pretty, fresh girls, who are fond of reading, and perfectly willing to
read only what their brothers permit them. Every day I run across one or
two of them in the circulating library in the town, and always try to
get them to take out a forbidden book. They are convinced that Bourget
has sounded the depths of feminine psychology. "Isn't it mean!" they
cry. "If only our brothers would let us read more of his wonderful
books!"

Sometimes, in the evening, we sit out on the balcony, and the Morowski
boys come in to talk to us.

"Aren't you ashamed to treat your sisters in this Oriental way?" I ask.

"The less they know till after they've married, the better for them. A
young girl should be pure in every thought." And then they begin to make
love to us.

There are two brothers who have taken refuge in the Tchedesky _pension_,
with a collection of servants. Their house was burned under their eyes,
and their property is now in the Austrians' hands. The eldest brother,
Count S----, is very handsome and aristocratic, with a cherished gray
mustache carefully twisted upward, and soft, brown eyes, which he uses
with advantage. Evidently the Romantic poets influenced his youth, and
he has found the melancholy Byronic traditions the most effective for
his ends, since he continues the attitude.

"He is very sad," his brother whispers a dozen times a day. "Of course
his experiences these past months have been frightful for one of his
nature. I am not so sensitive. But _he_ has always been this way.
Sometimes I'm afraid. Our other brother died insane."

Count S---- affects to believe that the Germans can do anything.

"They are devils! What can we do against them?" he cries at dinner,
combing his mustache with the little tortoise-shell comb he carries in
his vest.

He never forgets his soda tablets after eating.

His younger brother is round and red-faced, with twinkly blue eyes. He
limps, and follows his elder brother round like a faithful dog. The
slightest thing amuses him. Indeed, he laughs at nothing at all. He kept
the books on his brother's estates and he brought them with him in his
flight. They are his pride and joy. Sometimes he brings them into the
drawing-room after supper, with photographs of the property. There are
pictures of boar hunts, and huntsmen on horseback, with wolf-hounds in
the snow, and the tenants merry-making and the house and different
sections of the property, and the horses and dogs and cattle. I look at
them night after night. They love to live over again their life in
telling me about it.

Among the servants with the S---- brothers is an old woman, a kindly,
slack one, who rarely goes out, but observes the passing life from her
windows. She wears a short, loose wrapper and petticoat, and scuffs
about in list slippers.

Then there is a young girl with shy eyes and quiet, womanlike actions.
We often see her peeking through a crack in the door when Janchu is
naughty.

And then there is Sigmund, a sly, goody-goody child of six or seven,
whom the old woman treats like a son, and whom the eldest S---- brother
has adopted as his heir. He plays with Janchu. The brothers adore him
and take him to Koupietsky Park, and watch him when he plays in the
_pension_ garden. We have heard that he is Count S----'s illegitimate
child, and that the old woman is his mother. It seems quite probable
when you think of the life on a big Polish estate--the loneliness, etc.
These three people live together in one room. The samovar is always
boiling and some one is always drinking tea there. The brothers share an
adjoining room, but they are usually with those in there, who constitute
all that remains of their former habits.

Pan A---- lives in the _pension_, too. I am told that he is typical of a
certain kind of Pole. He is a turfman, with carefully brushed
side-whiskers dyed coal-black, and hawk-like eyes. He wears check suits,
and cravats with a little diamond horse-pin. His legs are bowed like a
jockey's. He was the overseer of a big Polish estate and has made a
fortune by cards and horses. His stable is famous. He has raced from
Petrograd to London. Now, of course, his horses have been requisitioned,
and he lives by his cards. Cards are a serious business to him. He will
not play in a room where he is apt to be interrupted. Occasionally, his
wife, a hard-faced woman with tight lips, comes to the _pension_,
between the visits she makes to friends in the country. Pan A---- pays
no attention to her except to treat her with an exaggerated politeness
at table; and she, on her side, concentrates on the young men in the
_pension_. After dinner he always hands her a cigarette first, out of
his massive gold case, encrusted with arms and monograms and jewels.

"It's curious, is it not?" he says, handing me the case. "My friends
have put on their arms and monograms and mounted the jewels as
souvenirs."

Generally, he goes to the Café François with a tall blonde woman, the
wife of an Austrian. Her husband and son are fighting in the Austrian
army, but she came to Kiev with the Russian General who occupied her
town. Now her protector is at the front, and she goes about with A----.

A---- is cynical. Women and horses and cards make up his life. In a
conversation he feels his audience as if it were a new horse he is
learning to ride. He goes as near the danger line as he dares. He has no
breeding, and spends his money extravagantly.

K----, the last comer at the _pension_, is a journalist. He has no race
or polish, and the rest rather despise him for having none of their
landed traditions. He is lean and brown, with a razor-like jaw and a
twisted, sardonic expression to his lips. His face is cruel. At Warsaw,
where he was working, he was thrown into prison time after time on
account of the radical, revolutionary character of his articles. He is
well known for the strong, intellectual quality of his work. The
reactionaries fear him. The slipshod Russian way of handling things gets
on his nerves. His eyes get like steel when he talks about it. Russia's
corruption and the German advance--ammunition willfully miscarried--guns
sent to the front without ammunition, and ammunition sent that doesn't
fit; and the soldiers obliged to fight with their naked fists!

He has sent me Chamberlin's "Genesis of the Fourteenth Century." We
discuss it after dinner. It's interesting, though Chamberlin sets forth
an idea he tries to prove at all costs. Read it, if you haven't already.

How terribly I miss you. Why do I write of Pan Tchedesky and the
Morowskis when I only want to be telling you how I love you and miss
you? But it is almost unbearable to write you a love-letter. So many
miles are between us and so many months still separate us. Over a year
more to be lived through. No. I must keep to decaying Polish gentlemen
and exiled noblemen and trust you to know that every word in this letter
is a love-word to you, telling you I hold you so close to me that you
are one with me in everything I think or do.


                                   _July 27, 1915._

_Darlingest Mother and Dad:--_

It is very hot, and food is unappetizing. The drinking-water must be
boiled, and inevitably we drink it lukewarm. It never has time to cool.
There is fruit sold on the street, but we are warned against it on
account of cholera. There is already cholera and typhus reported in the
city. So we thick vegetable soup with sour cream, fried bread with
chopped meat inside, cheese noodles with sour cream, etc., all Polish
cooking. And we drink _kvass_.

"What do you think of Bulgaria, now?" Count S---- asks me gloomily,
after dinner.

"I still think she will go with Russia," I reply. "In every Bulgarian
house I've ever been in there is the picture of the Czar liberator. A
Bulgarian regards a Russian as of his own blood. Bulgaria gave Russia
her alphabet, and the languages are much the same: only the Russian is
richer in words and expressions. Why, there is a Bulgarian, General
Dimitrief, holding a high command in the Russian army. When I left
Bulgaria there was no talk of her going with Germany. 'We will never go
with Germany,' I've heard over and over."

"But there is a strong German party?"

"Yes, and they're being paid well. If England and the Entente only took
the trouble to understand the Balkans. Germany has sent her ablest men
to Sofia with unlimited credit. The English representatives offend by
their snobbery."

"Do you think they'll go in at all?" S---- persists.

"Probably they'll be forced in, in the end. But the people don't want to
abandon their neutrality. They're making money. They're recouping after
the Balkan wars. Bulgaria has had nothing but wars and crises for the
last five years."

"They say there are already German officers in the Bulgarian army."

"I don't believe it's so. The Bulgarians are very independent. If they
went in I think they would command their own army."

"But this war is not conducted along Balkan war lines," K---- said
amusedly.

"No," I agreed. "You know more about the situation now than I do. I
can't even read a newspaper. All I know is the spirit of Bulgaria when I
left."

"Isn't Bulgaria's Government autocratic enough to declare war without
consulting the people?" K---- continued.

"Perhaps--unfortunately. The Bulgarians say, 'We have a wonderful
constitution, if the Czar would only use it.'"

"The papers to-day already speak of Bulgaria's treason and ingratitude,"
K---- observed.

I was angry. "In Bulgaria, some think Russia doesn't want them to go in
on the Entente side. They think Russia wants to make a Russian lake out
of the Black Sea, and a Russian province out of Bulgaria. They say
Russia is the obstacle to their having joined the Entente months ago."

"She will go with Germany," Count S---- insisted fatalistically.
"Everything is going Germany's way."

"No--no--no!" I cried.

"Of course she will go where she sees her advantage," said K----.

"All she wants is to fight for Macedonia before the close of the war.
Certainly, it isn't too much to ask if she allows the English and
Russians to cross her territory to get at Turkey. The war will be
shortened by months if she goes in with the Entente, and Turkey in
Europe will be finished."

I know you'll laugh, Dad, and think my pretentions to a political
opinion presumptuous. My hope is that I'll know more when I'm older!

Love to you all. Think of me, won't you? Don't let _miles_ make any
difference.

                                   RUTH.



II


                                   _July 30._

It is confirmed that Warsaw has fallen! Every one is very much
depressed. What can stop the Germans? Some one speaks of the forts of
Vilna and Grodno, which are supposed to be impregnable. But what about
the forts on the Western front? What do forts amount to nowadays? The
strongest walls are razed by the Germans' big guns!

"The Germans do just as they like--nothing can stop them. In the
beginning the Kaiser said he would sleep at Warsaw," Count S---- says
gloomily.

"And he said he would dine in Paris," some one else remarks.

It is funny how much pleasure Count S---- takes in every foot of land
the Germans capture. When he talks about the war, he seems to take a
perverse pleasure in accenting their inexhaustible munitions and men and
the perfection of their whole military organization. "We have men, but
we are children." At every German victory he shakes his head. "I told
you so." "I've said from the first--" "There is no limit to what these
_cochons_ can do." He seems glad to see his prophecies come true;
probably, because he has seen his own security destroyed, he feels the
safety of the whole world shaken. A hundred times he has said: "There
isn't a foot of ground that belongs to me any more. For a man of my age
it is a terrible thing to see your life-work wiped out all of a sudden."
Only a world destruction could come up to his expectations now.

After dinner, in the drawing-room, we spoke about the fall of Warsaw.
What would the Germans do to the city? Some spoke of German
frightfulness in Belgium. Pan K---- thinks Warsaw will be treated
leniently, as Germany wishes to enlist the German sympathizers. Still,
most of the Poles in the _pension_ are horrorstricken. They see the
Germans marching through the streets, and they see the flames and
shuddering civilians. I can see the Germans' spiked helmets in the room.

"The English must start an offensive. England lets France and Russia
bleed to death before she sheds her own blood." There is much talk of
England's selfishness.

Something is wrong somewhere. Every one seems skeptical about the Duma.

I wish I could read the Russian newspapers.

I feel as though I were watching a fire--a neighbor's house burning
down. I am excited and curious. Suddenly, I wonder how far the flames
are going to spread, and I feel panicstricken. Good-night, dear ones.
You in New England seem so far away from this European fire.

                                   RUTH.


                                   _July 30, 1915._

_Darlingest Mother and Dad:--_

To-day I went to the Jewish detention camp with the wife of the French
Consul here. She called for me in her limousine. As I think of it now,
it was all so strange--the smooth-running car with two men on the box,
and ourselves in immaculate white summer dresses. The heat was intense,
but we were well protected. Through the windows we saw others sweating
and choking in the dust of the hot streets.

"I'm afraid I've brought you here on a very hot morning," said Mme.
C---- apologetically.

In spite of my curiosity I believe I felt a distaste of the detention
camp on such a day. A crowd is always depressing, and doubly so in the
heat. But we stopped at a door cut in a high board fence, and passed by
the sentinel into the enclosure where the Jews were penned in awaiting
the next stage of their journey.

Hundreds of faces turned toward us; hundreds of eyes watched our
approach. There were old men with long, white, patriarchal beards
flowing over their dirty black gowns; there were younger men with peaked
black caps and long black beards; and there were women who had pushed
back their black shawls for air, and who held sore-eyed, whining babies
listlessly on their knees. Bits of old cloth stretched over poles
afforded shade to some. Others tried to get out of the burning sun by
huddling against the walls of the tenements that enclosed the yard on
three sides. The ground was baked hard as iron and rubbed smooth by the
shuffle of numberless feet.

As we approached, the Jews rose and bowed low. Then they settled back
into their former immobility. Some stared at us vacantly; others lowered
their eyelids and rubbed their hands together softly, with a terrible
subservience. If we brushed close to one, he cringed like a dog who
fears a kick. Yellow, parchment-like faces, all with the high-bridged,
curving noses, and the black, animal-like eyes. I was as definitely
separated from them as though tangible iron bars were between us. We
seemed to be looking at each other across a great gulf. "They are human
beings," I said to myself. "I am one with them." But their isolation was
complete. I could not even begin to conceive the persecution and
suffering of ages that separated us. "All people are born free and
equal," indeed! I turned away.

"This camp is run on communistic principles," Mme. C---- was explaining.
"The Jewish Ladies' Benevolent Society provides a certain amount of meat
and vegetables and bread, which is cooked and served by the Jews
themselves. Here is the kitchen." We spoke French among ourselves, which
seemed to put us farther away from the dumb, watchful Jews behind us.
"If it wasn't for us, they would starve. The Government allows them
eight kopecks a day. But who could live on that? Besides, most of the
Jews here pay the eight kopecks to the overseer to avoid his
displeasure. He makes a good revenue out of the blood money."

Two rooms in one of the houses had been converted into a kitchen. A
dozen or so Jewish women were paring and cutting up potatoes and
cabbages and meat into huge soup-boilers. They were stripped to their
shirts, and their bodies were drenched with sweat. They curtsied to us
and went on preparing dinner.

A blast of scorching heat puffed out from an open oven. Two women, with
long wooden handles pulled out big round loaves of black bread and laid
them on a shelf to cool.

The warm fragrance of cooking attracted some white-faced Jewish
children. They edged into the kitchen and looked up at the food, their
eyes impenetrable and glittering like mica. A woman cut up some bread
and gave them each a piece, and they slunk outdoors again, sucking their
bread.

"The food is scientifically proportioned to give the greatest possible
nutriment," Mme. C---- said.

We went out. After the kitchen heat the air of the courtyard was cool.

"This is the laundry. A certain number of the Jews here wash and iron
the others' clothes. They are kept as clean as possible."

The laundry was gray with steam. A dozen or so women were bending over
wash tubs. Like the women in the kitchen, they were stripped to their
shirts. The wet cloth stuck to their sweating bodies and outlined their
ribs and the stretch of muscles as they scrubbed and wrung out the
clothes. When the water became too black, some young boys threw it out
of doors, and the women waited for the tubs to be filled again, their
red parboiled hands resting on their hips, in the way of washerwomen the
world over.

We crossed the mud before the wash-house, on planks, and went into a
house across the courtyard.

"This is the tailoring establishment," Mme. C---- continued. "The
tailors among them mend and cut over old clothes which we collect for
them, so that every Jew may start on the next stage of his journey in
perfectly clean and whole clothes. My husband and son complain that they
will have to stay in bed, soon, I have taken so many of their suits of
clothes.--And here are the shoemakers."

We looked into the adjoining room, where the cobblers sat cross-legged,
sewing and patching and pegging shoes.

"It's very hard to find the leather. But it is so important. If you
could see how they come here--their feet bleeding and swollen and their
shoes in tatters. And many of them were rich bankers and professors in
Galicia and Poland, used to their own automobiles like the rest of us. I
think I would steal leather for them."

The workers were different from the waiting Jews in the courtyard.
Perhaps it was work that gave them importance in their own eyes, and
took away that dreadful degrading subserviency--degrading to us as much
as to themselves. The whirring noise of the sewing-machines, the click
of shears, the bent backs of the workers, and the big capable hands,
formed by the accustomed work! The trade of every man could have been
known by his hands! My heart was warm toward them.

"It's splendid, I think," I said to Mme. C----.

As though she guessed my thoughts, she replied, "They are grateful for
being allowed to work."

"For being allowed to work." Those words damn much in the world. What
hindrances we erect in the way of life!

And I looked out into the courtyard again, at the apathetic faces of
the waiting Jews. Waiting for what? The white, dead faces, with the
curved noses and hard, bright eyes, all turned toward us. Were they
submissive or expectant, or simply hating us? They say the Galician Jews
turn traitors and act as spies for the Austrians. But surely not these.
What could these broken creatures do? How near death they seemed!

The courtyard burned like a furnace. The shade was shrinking from moment
to moment. The heat rose in blinding waves. I was sickened. The
courtyard smelled of dirt and waste and sickness. It was unreal--the
whole thing unreal: those working at usual, necessary tasks as well as
those furtive, watchful ones in the burning sunlight. Death was in them
all.

I went out into the courtyard, walking slowly in the scorching heat.
There was no shade or coolness anywhere. My attention was drawn to a
pregnant woman who had evidently been sitting in a thin strip of shade
by the fence; but now the sun was beating down on her bare head. She sat
with her arms hanging along her sides, the palms of her hands turned
upwards. A baby hardly a year old twisted fretfully on her lap,
fumbling at her breast with a little red hand. But she looked steadily
over the baby's round head, a curiously intent expression in her dark
eyes, as though she were looking at something so far away that she must
concentrate all herself on it so as not to lose it from view.

Near her a man leaned against the fence. He was red-headed, and his
unkempt hair and ragged beard flamed in the sun. A rope tied round his
waist kept up his loose trousers, and his shirt was open, disclosing a
hairy chest. Where his skin showed, it was unexpectedly white. He kept
plucking at his chest, smiling idiotically.

"Is he insane?" I asked Mme. C----.

"Yes. He's that woman's husband. He went out of his head on the road.
They say he was raging that his wife was obliged to walk in her
condition. Well, he's happier than she is, now."

Under a canopy made from an old blue skirt lay a sick boy. His face was
like a death-mask already, the yellow skin stretched tightly over the
bones of his face, and his mouth unnaturally wide, with parched, swollen
lips. From his hollow eye-sockets his eyes looked out unwinking, as
though his lids had been cut off. He held himself halfway between a
reclining and an upright position. No normal person could hold himself
that way for long, but the sick boy kept himself motionless with
maniacal strength. The flies hung over him like a cloud of black
cinders. One of his friends attempted to keep them away with a leafy
branch which he had found, Heaven knows where! I could see no other sign
of green in the place. As we passed, I noticed the branch sweep back and
forth over the sick boy's face, touching the skin. And still the fixed
stare continued, uninterrupted--that blind gaze straight out into
emptiness.

At the farther end, an opening between two of the tenements led into a
garden. This space, too, was crowded with waiting Jews.

"But where do they sleep?" I asked. "Is there room for all those people
in the houses?"

"No," Mme. C---- replied; "not when so many come through as came this
last time. But fortunately, these summer nights are fine; earlier, we
had much rain, and you can picture the suffering. Then there was no
shelter for them at all. They were simply herded into a pen, and many
died from the exposure. Now, however, we have made conditions better
for them."

There was more reality here in the garden, where there was a suggestion
of growing grass and a thin leaf shade. The Jews lay on the ground as
though trying to get some coolness out of the earth. Up and down the
paths walked several spectacled men, who were brought up to me and
introduced as Professor So-and-So, and Doctor So-and-So. They were
constantly trying to get in touch with friends in Kiev or Moscow or
Petrograd, or colleagues in medicine or other sciences, or relatives who
could help them. They worked through the society. By the payment of
certain amounts they could bribe the overseers to let them stay on in
the Kiev detention camp, or even have the liberty of the city. One man,
a rich banker from Lvov, had been officially "sick" for several months,
but as his money had almost given out he was in danger of being sent on
to Tomsk in the near future. He lived in the hospital, where he had
better quarters and food. These professors and doctors, men of wide
learning and reputation, who are recognized as leaders in their
professions, and are constructive, valuable forces in society, were
herded together with the others, and will be allowed to disappear into
Siberia, where their minds and bodies will be wasted, their possible
future activity to count as nothing.

A man in a soiled white coat came up, looked us over with little
blinking pig eyes, and addressed a few words to Mme. C---- in Polish.

"That is the overseer," Professor A---- said to me in English. "He takes
every kopeck away from us. But he is no worse than the rest. All along
the way it is the same thing. One is bled to death." He shrugged
indifferently. "We most of us could have gathered together a little
money. But what will you? It was all so sudden. We had no time. Here we
are, _en tout cas_. And after all, in the end--"

I might have been talking with the professors on the campus of their own
university. They exerted themselves to be attentive and entertaining, as
though they were our hosts.

One doctor said to me in French, "I have seen your wonderful country. It
is amazing. I would like to see it again. I have been asked to lecture.
Perhaps, after the war--"

He broke off abruptly. In a flash the end of his life came up to me.
His work and ambitions, and then the cleavage in his career; the sharp
division in his life; the preparation of years, and then, instead of
fulfillment, an exile to a country where life was a struggle for the
bare necessities of the body--food and shelter. I looked at his
hands--thin and white and nervous. What hideous, despairing moments he
must know!

I asked him a question. His eyes blazed suddenly.

"Do not speak of these things! They are not to be spoken of, much less
to _you_." He looked as though he hated me. "I beg your pardon, I am
nervous. You must excuse me." He went away hurriedly.

"Poor chap!" Professor A---- said. "It is hard for us all in this heat.
And, yes, some of us have more imagination than others."

A man in uniform came into the garden. He walked to a tree in the
center, and stood in the shade, a long sheet of paper in his hand. There
was a stir among the Jews. Those lying down got up and approached him.
The women, with their children, dragged themselves nearer. Every one
stopped talking. The apathy and indifference gave place to a strained
attention. There was a kind of dreadful anxiety on every face--a
tightening of the muscles round the eyes and mouths, as though the same
horrible fear fixed the same mark there. I have never seen a crowd where
personality was so stamped out by a single overmastering emotion. The
gendarme began to read in a sing-song voice.

"What is he saying?" I whispered.

"The names of those who are to leave this afternoon," Mme. C----
replied.

The garden was absolutely still except for the monotonous voice and the
breathing of the crowd. Oh, yes, and the flies. It was not that I forgot
the flies, only their buzzing was the ceaseless accompaniment to
everything that happened in the camp.

"How horrible this is!" Mme. C---- observed. "They all know it must
come, but when it does, it is almost unbearable. It is truly a list of
death. Many of them here cannot survive another stage of the journey in
this heat. And yet they must be moved on to make place for those who are
pressing on from behind. In this very crowd were five old men who were
killed on the way here, by the soldiers, because they couldn't keep up
with the procession. How could these civilians be expected to endure
such hardships? They are townspeople, most of them having lived indoors
all their lives, like you or me."

"Like you or me." No, no. It was unbelievable. I could not put myself in
their place. I could not imagine such insecurity--that lives could be
broken in the middle in this way.

"How useless it all seems!" I said.

"Useless. You think so?" Mme. C---- took me up. "Do you realize that
whole Galician towns have been moved into Siberia this summer? Part of
the way on foot, part in baggage cars, where they stifled to death in
the heat and for lack of water and food. One carload wasn't listed, or
was forgotten by some careless official, and when it was finally opened
it was a carload of rotting flesh. The bodies were thrown into the river
by the frightened official, but a soldier reported him and he was
court-martialed. One crowd of several thousand was taken to Siberia.
They reached Tomsk. Then the Government changed. What was the need to
transport these Galician Jews? the new Minister argued: a useless
expense to the Government: a waste of money and time. Let them go back
to their homes. So the Jews were taken back over the same route, many
more dying on the return journey, in the jails, and camps, and baggage
cars, or by the roadsides. They found themselves once more back in their
pillaged towns, with nothing to work with, and yet with their livelihood
to be earned somehow. They began to dig and plant and take up the
routine of their lives again. They began to look on themselves as human
again. The grind of suffering and hopelessness began to let up and they
had moments of hope. And then the reactionaries came into power with
their systematic oppression of the Jews. Back to Siberia with them! This
in midsummer heat. I saw them as they passed through Kiev for the third
time, a few weeks ago. Never shall I forget them as I saw them last. The
mark of the beast was on them. You couldn't call them living or
suffering or martyrs any more. They were beyond the point where they
prayed to die."

The gendarme had finished his list. The tension relaxed. Some of the
Jews settled back into their former apathy; others gathered in excited
groups, pulling their beards and scratching their heads; still others
walked up and down the paths, restless, like so many caged animals.

A man and a woman with two children approached the gendarme
deprecatingly. The man asked a question, indicating the woman and
children. The gendarme shook his head. The man persisted. The gendarme
refused again, and started to move away. The man detained him with a
hand on his arm. Another man approached. He spread out both hands, his
shoulders up to his ears. All three men spoke Polish in loud, excited
voices.

"What are they saying?" I asked.

"The gendarme has just read the names of the woman and children who are
to leave this afternoon. The father's name is not with theirs.
Naturally, he wants to be with his wife and children to protect and care
for them as best he can. If they are separated now, they can never find
each other again in Siberia--if they live till they get there. The third
man is alone. He is willing to give up his place to the father. But the
gendarme refuses. 'His name is written. Yours is not. It is the order,'
he says."

The gendarme now left the garden. The woman was sobbing in her husband's
arms. He was patting her hair. The children hung at their mother's
skirt, crying and sucking their fingers.


                                   _August 12, 1915._

_Dearest Mother and Dad:--_

They say there was no ammunition at the front. No shells for the
soldiers. They had nothing to do but retreat. And now? They are still
retreating, fighting with empty guns and clubs and even their naked
hands. And still, trainloads of soldiers go out of Kiev every day
without a gun in their hands. What a butchery! Can you imagine how
horrible it is to see them march through the streets, swinging their
arms and singing their stirring songs,--tall, able-bodied men,--while
the beggars, cripples from the Russo-Japanese War, stand whining at the
street corners.

There seems to be no doubt about the enemy within the gates. How can the
soldiers give their lives so patiently and bravely for a Government
whose villainy and corruption take no account of the significance of
their sacrifices. The German influence is still strong. They say German
money bribes the Ministers at home and the generals at the front.

There is great distrust of the Czarina and the Monk Rasputin. The latter
was a serf in Siberia, and now has a malignant, hypnotic influence in
the Russian Court. If he is refused anything, he falls on the floor in a
fit and froths at the mouth until he gets what he wants. The Court
ladies have to lick his dirty fingers clean, for he refuses to use a
finger-bowl at table. Take this for what it's worth. At any rate, there
is much talk now of the Germans working through this disreputable
creature.

I asked a Russian if there could be a revolution.

There seems to be no hope. Russia, apparently, lacks the coördination
and singleness of purpose necessary for one. And so many unseen
influences are at work. There is no agreement among the people as to
what they want. Each faction is secretly encouraged to war against the
other in order to weaken each other and blur the reason and end in the
people's minds. Besides, of course, nothing can be done as long as the
army can be used to crush any demonstration against the Government. But
if I were a Russian, all my hate would be directed against the traitors
of my country, rather than at the Germans, who, after all, are
political enemies. I would carry a gun against those who sell my country
and make capital out of her suffering.

In every newspaper there are accounts of enormous graft by Ministers and
companies under contract to the Government for military supplies. One
case was translated to me the other day. Some men high up in the
Government took over a contract for a certain number of cavalry saddles
and bridles. They sold it to the Jews, making a tremendous rake-off. The
Jews, to get any profit, were obliged to furnish poor material. At the
trial, where some officers were testing them, the bridles broke in their
hands like paper and the saddles split into ribbons.

Then there was a sugar factory in Kiev, whose owner wrote to the
Minister of the Interior, I think it was, and offered his factory, only
asking an estimate of the approximate amount of sugar the Government
would need turned out each day. No answer was made. The owner wrote
again. Still no answer. He went to Petrograd himself to find out why the
Department paid no attention to his letters. The Minister informed him
his letters had lacked the required war-tax stamps and had been turned
over to the proper authorities, who would speedily proceed to fine him
for his evasion of the law.

I went up to a military hospital to-day. I wonder how I can write you
about it. The insignificance of personalities--whether any one lives or
dies seems to have no importance. Just life seems to matter any more,
and the forward movement of humanity--at least, you must believe the
movement is forward in spite of the horror of mangled bodies and
destroyed minds; otherwise, you would go mad, though you are outside of
it all. How the proportions of things are twisted after going through a
hospital. Things that counted before don't seem to count any more. You
take refuge in generalities to get out of your mind a look you have seen
in a soldier's eyes.

It was an improvised hospital,--some building or other turned into a
place to receive the hundreds of wounded that are pouring into Kiev
every day. It was a big room, with rows and rows of beds, and in every
bed a man. One man was wounded in the back, and his breath whistled
through the open hole like steam through an escape valve. His face was
wound in white bandages. Others were there, dying from terrible stomach
wounds. One man's head moved from side to side incessantly, as though he
could never again find comfort on earth. Some moan. Others lay
absolutely motionless, their faces terrible dead-white masks. Their
bodies looked so long and thin under the sheets, with their toes turned
up. It was indescribably terrifying to think that human beings could go
through so much and continue to live. I was more frightened than ever
before in my life. The smell of blood--the closeness of the hot
sick-room--flies buzzing about. I saw brown varnish-like stains on some
of the white bandages. The indifferent, business-like attitude of the
nurses infuriated me. But, of course, they can't be any other way and
deal with it all.

I can't write any more. But is there any excuse for this?

                                   RUTH.


                                   _August 10, 1915._

Lately, our conversation at table has been suppressed by the appearance
of a young woman whom the rest suspect of being a spy. She is dark, and
never utters a word. All through dinner she keeps her eyes on her
plate. I said something in French to her the other day, but, apparently,
she did not understand. Across the table, the Morowski boys laughed at
me. I suspect that they, too, had tried to speak to her, for she is
pretty, and had been snubbed like me. I don't know how the idea of her
being a spy got round. She may have been sent here to keep her eyes on
the Polish refugees in the _pension_. Her room is in our corridor, and
this morning Marie saw, through the open door, Panna Lolla and Janchu
talking to her. It appears that Janchu had been inveigled in by bonbons,
and Panna Lolla had gone in after him. Panna Lolla said the young woman
was so lonely. She is a Pole and wants to leave Russia. She hates it
here. But she has no passport. She showed Panna Lolla an old one that
she wants to fix up for the police authorities. But she can't speak
Russian, and is very frightened. She asked Panna Lolla if she knew any
one who could write Russian. Marie forbade Panna Lolla to go near the
woman again. It is just as well, for Panna Lolla likes excitement, and
is capable of saying anything to keep it going.



III


                                   _August._

_Darlingest Mother and Dad:--_

We were arrested four days ago--and you will wonder why I keep on
writing. It relieves my nerves. Ever since the _revision_ Marie and I
have gone over and over the same reasoning, trying to get at why we were
arrested. To write it all out may help the restlessness and anxiety
and--yes--the panicky fear that rises in my throat like nausea. Life is
so terribly insecure. I feel as though I had been stripped naked and
turned out into the streets, with no person or place to go to.

It was four o'clock, and we had just finished dinner. In an hour and a
half we were leaving for Odessa. All our trunks and bags were packed,
and our traveling suits brushed and pressed. Panna Lolla was crying at
having to part from Janchu, and mending some stockings for him. He was
asleep. Marie and I were sitting in our little salon, rejoicing that we
should be in Bucharest in a few days where there was no war and we could
speak French again. War--blood-tracks on the snow, and cholera and
typhus camps under a burning sun. To shut it out for one instant and
pretend that the world was the way it used to be. What a heaven
Bucharest seemed!

And suddenly the door of our apartment opened. Six men came into the
room, two in uniform, the other four in plain clothes. It never occurred
to me that they had anything to do with me. I thought they had mistaken
the door. I looked at Marie questioningly. There was something peculiar
about her face.

The four plain-clothes men stood awkwardly about the door which they had
closed softly behind them. The two men with white cord loops across the
breast of their uniforms went over to the table on the right and put
down their black leather portfolios. They seemed to make themselves at
home, and it angered me.

"What are these people doing here?" I asked Marie sharply.

She addressed the officer in Polish, and he answered curtly.

"It's a _revision_," she replied.

"A what?"

"A _revision_," she repeated.

I remember that I consciously kept my body motionless, and said to
myself, "There is nothing surprising in this. There is nothing
surprising in this." Everything had gone dark before my eyes. My heart
seemed to stop beating.

Marie laughed and the sound of her cracking, high-pitched laugh came to
me from far off.

The officer said something to her, and she stopped abruptly as though
some one had clapped a hand over her mouth.

"What did he say?" I managed to articulate. My own language seemed to
have deserted me.

"He says it is a matter for tears, not laughter."

Her voice was sharp and anxious. I was relieved at the spite and vanity
in his words. They made the situation more normal. I felt myself
breathing again, and my stomach began to tremble uncontrollably.

I kept my eyes where they were, fighting for my self-control. So many
terrifying thoughts were trying to penetrate my consciousness. I tried
to shut out everything but my realization of what I was looking at. I
kept my eyes glued on the officer's boots; shiny black boots they were,
that fitted him without a crease, with spurs fastened to the heels. I
shall never forget the stiff, red striped trouser-legs and those shiny
black boots that didn't seem to belong on the body of a living man, but
on the wooden form of some dummy.

Janchu began to cry from the bedroom, and Marie got up to go to him.
Quickly a plain-clothes man with horn-rimmed spectacles slipped in
between her and the door. The officer, who had now seated himself behind
the table, raised his hand.

"Let no one leave the room," he said in German.

"But my baby is crying," Marie began.

"Let him cry!" And he busied himself pulling papers out of his
portfolio.

Soon Janchu, seeing that no one paid any attention to him, toddled in
and climbed into Marie's lap. He sat there sucking his fingers and
looking out at the roomful of strange men.

An army officer entered and spoke to the head of the secret service. He
wore a dazzling, gold-braided uniform, and preened himself before us,
looking at us curiously over his shoulder. When he had gone, the head
told us that we were to have a personal examination in the salon of the
_pension_.

A secret-service man escorted each of us, and we walked down the
corridor, past the squad of soldiers with their bayonets, and into the
salon, where we were delivered into the hands of two women spies. They
undressed us, and we waited while our clothes were passed out to the
secret-service men outside. Panna Lolla tried to twist herself up in the
window curtains. Marie and I grew hysterical at her modesty, looking at
her big, knobby feet and her fiery face, with her top-knot of disheveled
red hair. We were given our clothes again, and went back to our
apartment.

The rooms were in confusion. All our trunks and bags were emptied, one
end of the carpet rolled back, the mattresses torn from the beds. The
secret-service men were down on their knees before piles of clothes,
going over the seams, emptying the pockets, unfolding handkerchiefs,
tapping the heels of shoes; every scrap of paper was passed over to the
chief, who tucked it into his portfolio. I watched him, hating his
square, stolid body that filled out his uniform smoothly. His eyes were
long and watchful like a cat's, and his fair mustache was turned up at
the ends, German fashion; in fact, there was something very German
about his thick thighs and shaved head and official importance. As I
have learned since, he _is_ a German and the most hated man in Kiev for
his pitiless persecution of all political offenders. They say he has
sent more people to Siberia than any six of his predecessors. They also
say every hand is against him, even to the spies' in his own force.

I trembled to spring at him and claw him and ruffle his composure some
way. Instead, I sat quietly, my hands folded, and watched the spies
ransacking our clothes. I began to feel a sharp anxiety as to what they
would find. It was all so mysterious. What were they looking for? At one
moment it was ridiculous, and I felt like laughing at the whole affair;
and then the next, the silence in which the search was conducted, the
apparent dead-seriousness of the spies' faces, the deliberation with
which the chief turned the bits of paper over in his hands and
scrutinized them and put them carefully away, struck me with a cold,
sharp apprehension. I had the sensation of being on the very edge of a
precipice. I felt as though the world were upside down and the most
innocent thing could be turned against us. Every card and photograph I
tried to catch a glimpse of before it went into the black portfolio. And
suddenly I saw the letter about the Jewish detention camp, which I had
forgotten all about. I saw the close lines of my writing, and it seemed
as though the edge of the precipice crumbled and I went shooting down. A
cold sweat broke out over me.

"But why are we arrested?" I heard Marie ask in German.

"Espionage," the chief answered shortly.

"But that is ridiculous. We're American citizens."

No reply.

"Can we leave for Odessa to-night?"

No reply.

Marie stopped her questions.

"What money have you? Come here while I count it," one of the spies said
to me. He slipped me one hundred roubles on the sly, before turning the
rest over to the chief. I held it openly in my hand, too dazed to know
what to do with it, till he whispered to me to hide it. "You may want
it, later," he said.

"Frau Pierce will go with us," the chief said, closing his portfolio;
and I understood that the _revision_ was finished. "Frau G---- can stay
here under room-arrest, with her little boy."

He spoke to no one in particular, but addressed the room at large, his
face impassive, and his voice without an intonation. The spies stood in
the midst of the tumbled clothes, watching us silently, ominously.
Janchu now crept up into Marie's lap again. As a matter of course, I
went into the other room and changed into my traveling suit.

"May I take my toilet things?" I asked the chief.

"Ja."

"You'd better make a bundle of bedclothes," the spy who had given me the
money whispered to me.

I rolled up two blankets and a pillow with his help.

"I'm ready," I said. "May I send a few telegrams?"

"Certainly, certainly." The chief's manner suddenly became extremely
courteous.

I wrote one to our Ambassador in Petrograd, one to Mr. Vopicka in
Bucharest, one to the State Department in Washington, and one to Peter.
I wrote Peter that I was delayed a few days. I was afraid that he might
come on and be arrested, too. My hand did not tremble, though it struck
me as very queer to see the words traced out on the paper--almost
magical. My imagination was racing, and I could see myself already being
driven into one of those baggage cars bound for Tomsk.

"Keep your mind away from what is going to happen," I said to myself.
"You will have time enough to think in prison. Things are as they are.
You are going to walk out of this room, just the way you've done a
hundred times. Are you different now from what you've always been? Keep
your mind on things you know are real."

I tried to move accurately, as though a false move would disturb the
balance of things so that I would walk out of the room on my hands like
an acrobat.

Suddenly, the chief, who had been talking in a corner with the other man
in uniform, wheeled about.

"Frau Pierce may stay here under room-arrest. Good-day."

He clicked his heels together and bowed slightly. His spies clustered
about him, and they left the room.

All at once my bones seemed to crumble and my flesh dissolve. I fell
into a chair. Marie and I looked at each other. We began to laugh. "We
mustn't get hysterical," we said, and kept on laughing.

The room was so dark that we looked like two shadows. Panna Lolla had
come after Janchu and taken him into Count S----'s room. We imagined the
excited curiosity of the rest of the _pension_.

"I'll wager that woman was a spy, after all."

"But why--why should _we_ have a _revision_?"

"Anyway, they couldn't have found much. We'll be set free in a few
days," Marie said.

"They found my letter about the Jews," I replied.

"What letter? Oh, my dear, what did you say?"

"I forget. But everything I saw or heard, I think."

We began to laugh again.

"Will they send our telegrams?"--"Will Peter come on?"--"What shall we
do for money?"

The room was pitch-dark except for the electric light from the street.
We heard the creak and rattle of the empty commissariat wagons returning
from the barracks. We fell silent, feeling suddenly very tired and
lethargic.

"Where is Janchu? It's time for his supper," Marie said, without moving.

I started out of the room to call him, and fell across a dark figure
sitting in front of the door. He grunted and pushed me back into the
room.

"I want Janchu," I said in perfectly good English, while he closed the
door in my face.

"There's a spy outside our door," I whispered to Marie.

Panna Lolla came in with Janchu and turned on the light.

"There's a man outside our door, and two secret-service men at the
_pension_ door and two soldiers downstairs," she whispered excitedly in
one breath. "No one can leave the _pension_, and they take the name and
address of every one who comes here. And that woman _was_ a spy. Antosha
saw the chief go into her room and heard them talking together. And she
left when they did."

I lay all night, half asleep, half awake, hearing the street noises
clearly through the open windows. I cried a little from exhaustion and
nerves, and then controlled myself, for my head began to ache, and who
knew what would happen the next day? I had to keep strength to meet
something that was coming. I had no idea what it was, but the
uncertainty of the future only made it more ominous and threatening.
That letter--In the darkness I saw the chief's watchful, narrow eyes,
and the horn-rimmed spectacles of the friendly spy, and the stuffed
portfolio.


                                   _Later._

Nothing has happened yet. We have our meals brought to us by Antosha,
who tries to comfort us with extra large pickled cucumbers and portions
of sour cream. We are allowed to send Panna Lolla downtown for
cigarettes and books from the circulating library. Thank Heaven for
books! With our nerves stretched to the snapping-point and a pinwheel of
thoughts everlastingly spinning round in our heads, I think we should go
mad except for books. It is very hot, but my body is always cool and
damp, because I can't eat much, I suppose, and lie on a _chaise longue_
motionless all day long. I can feel myself growing weak, and there is
nothing to do but sit and wait.

Marie and I go over and over the whole thing, and finish at the point
where we began. "But why?" We think it may be because Marie came to
Bulgaria to visit me and brought me back here, and now we want to leave
Russia together. The papers say that Bulgaria already has German
officers over her troops. But I can't believe it. She is too
independent. They say that she will certainly go with the Central
Powers. That, too, is inconceivable. Perhaps, however, if it is true,
and already known by the Russian authorities, the secret service is
suspicious of our going back there, and of Marie's intention of sailing
home from Dedeagatch, via Greece. What else could it be? How this
uncertainty maddens us! Yet we are thankful for every day that passes
and leaves us together. What will happen when they translate my letter?
_Bojé moy!_ I hear a step outside the door, and my heart simply ceases
to beat.

Pan Tchedesky to-day tiptoed into our room when the spy was having his
lunch. He whispered to us that he had seen the English Consul, Mr.
Douglas, and told him about our case. He begged us not to be
discouraged, and to eat. He said that he almost wept when he saw our
plates come back to the kitchen, untouched. How flabby and livid he
looked, his vague, blurred eyes watery with tears! Yet we could have
embraced him. He is the only person who has spoken to us.

The sun is golden on the old convent wall across the street. The convent
is empty during the summer. Only the richest Court ladies send their
daughters there to be educated, and the Dowager Empress visits them when
she passes through Kiev. The trees in the garden are gold and green in
the late afternoon sun. A little bell tinkles musically.

Below in the street some passing soldiers are singing. How fresh and
strong and beautiful their untrained voices are. I wonder if they are
off to the front, for each one carries a pack and a little tea-kettle
swung on his back and a wooden spoon stuck along the side of his leg in
his boot. Where will they be sent? Up north, to try and stem the German
advance? To Riga? Where? The Germans are still advancing. Something is
wrong somewhere. And still soldiers go to the front, singing. They are
thrown into the breach. I can't help but think of the fields of Russian
dead, unburied. Who has a chance to bury the dead on a retreat? There
is nothing "decent" in it. Yet they say the retreat is "orderly." I
wonder what that means?

At night when I try to sleep, I see the map of Russia as if it was
printed on my eyeballs. It is so big and black with a thin red line of
fire eating into it. America seems millions of miles away. I wish I
could touch you just for a minute. If I could only feel your arms about
me for one moment. The only way is not to think beyond this room and
this minute.

                                   RUTH.


                                   _August._

_Dearests:--_

Peter is here. Last night, about nine o'clock the door opened and he
rushed into the room. I got to my feet on impulse, and then tried to
brace myself and control my disordered reason, for, of course, I
believed myself delirious. He stopped by the door long enough to throw
down his suitcase, and in that instant I struggled fiercely to
disbelieve my eyes. I was fighting myself. My legs trembled. But when I
fell, his arms were around me, supporting me.

"Is it you? Is it you?" I don't know whether I said the words out loud
or not, but I remember feeling the muscle in Peter's shoulder and
wondering if I could have gone out of my head as much as _that_.

"What on earth has happened to you two?" he said at last.

"Let me sit down," I said, feeling suddenly very sick and faint, and a
black spot in front of my eyes expanded all at once and shut out the
swaying room.

"Why didn't you come to Bucharest?" he asked again.

"How white and thin you are. Isn't he, Marie?" I observed, the blackness
gone from my eyes.

"Please answer me. What is the matter? You both look sick."

"We are under arrest for espionage," Marie and I suddenly burst out in
chorus, and we both began talking as fast and as loud as we could.

"That's all right. I'll fix things for you," Peter reassured us when we
stopped at last, out of breath. I suddenly wanted to hide him so they
wouldn't get him as well as ourselves. He was so self-confident. What
did _he_ know of how things happened over here? He was talking and
acting like a rational human being, which was sure proof he was in no
position to cope with the Russian Secret Service. I felt a frantic
desire to get him out of the room and make him promise that on no
account would he admit he knew us.

"You must go at once," I whispered. "There's a spy at the door. If he
sees you, they'll arrest you, too. Please go, go at once." And I tried
to push him away.

"You poor things," he said, laughing. "There's no need to be frightened
like this. Of course I won't go. Why should they arrest me?"

"Why should they have arrested us? Oh, you _don't_ know." My teeth were
chattering.

"Now, look here," he said seriously. "You've been alone and scared, and
I'm sure you haven't eaten anything for days. Now, don't think about
this any more. I'll get you out in no time. Have you a cigarette,
anybody?"

I sat back, and my body stopped shaking. Everything seemed very still. I
had the distinct thought, "What is to come, will come," and I drew a
deep breath that seemed to come from my toes. It was enough Peter was
here, after all.

We talked till three in the morning. Peter had gone to Bucharest to meet
us, and when we didn't arrive, he took the first train to Kiev. I began
to believe in his bodily presence. Before he left to go back to his
hotel, I had regained my conviction he was a match for even the Russian
Secret Service.

Can you imagine how we feel to-day? We go tottering round the room,
taking things up and putting them down again, in a nervous anxiety to
_do_ something. We chirp the rag-times popular in America two years ago.
We feel as though we were just recovering from a sickness, with a
pleasant bodily weakness like a convalescent's in the springtime. Peter
brought me a bunch of red roses when he came over this morning. I am
writing this while he is seeing Mr. Douglas, the English Consul.

So much love to you from

                                   RUTH.


                                   _September._

_Darlingest ones:--_

It has been three weeks since our arrest, and to-day is the first time
we have been allowed to leave the room and go outdoors. We are still
under house-arrest, but we can go out in the garden, while two soldiers
guard the entrance. Isn't it ludicrous? A gendarme came last night and
announced with ponderous importance that we were to be permitted the
liberty of the garden if we gave our word of honor not to try to escape.
We signed two red-sealed documents, and so we can go into the garden
while two soldiers with bayonets look to it that we don't go any
farther.

Peter had to bully me into leaving my room this afternoon. I didn't want
to get healthy. I had grown so used to the proportions of our rooms I
hated to make the effort to adjust myself to any others. But Peter came
back from his daily round of visits to the English Consul, and the Army
Headquarters, and the office of Kiev's civil governor, and produced from
his coat-pocket a rubber ball. We were to play ball out in the garden,
he said. So, after some persuasion Marie and I went out into the garden
with him. How weak I was. My legs trembled going downstairs, and I was
exhausted when I reached the benches in the garden.

Janchu, seeing us, ran up joyfully and took his mother by the hand.
"This is my mother," he said in Polish, looking around proudly at the
other children who were playing there.

Every one looked at us curiously. A head appeared at every window in the
big stone apartment house. I saw the two women spies who had undressed
us. They were evidently employed as servants in some family, for one was
ironing and the other fixing a roast for the oven. They, too, looked out
at us. I felt hot and indignant and, yes, ashamed as though I had been
guilty. I wanted to hide. I felt inadequate to life. People were too
much for me. People--people, the living and the dead. What a weight of
life! I could hardly control my tears. Weakness, I suppose, for the
soles of my feet and my fingertips hurt me as though my nerves were
bared to the touch.

I looked up over the garden-wall. The tree-tops were yellow. While we
had been locked in our room, the season had changed. Autumn was upon us.
I shivered. There was a lavender mist over the city dimming the radiance
of the gold and silver church domes. How beautiful Kiev was! The
church-bells were so mellow-toned; and the children's shrill laughter
and cries as they played in the garden. But it tired me. Every
impression seemed to bruise me.

Peter bought some little Polish cakes, and we had hot tea to cheer us
up--three and four glasses of tea.

Good-night. Sometimes, when I think of you, I don't see all of you, but
instead a particular gesture, or I hear an inflection of voice that is
too familiar to be borne. Now I see mother's hands and they are
beautiful.

                                   RUTH.


                                   _September._

_Dearests:--_

Every day now we go out into the garden. We play ball and play tag in
the wind to get warm.

There is a private hospital at one end of our apartment house, supported
by a wealthy Polish woman. Two or three times a week she visits the
patients, young officers who go out into the garden with her and kiss
her hand and talk and flirt. She sits on a garden-bench surrounded by
her young men, a big woman in black, with a long black veil, talking
vivaciously, using her hands in quick, expressive gestures, patting
their cheeks, leaning forward to give their hands an impulsive squeeze.
When she laughs, which is often, the black line of a mustache on her
upper lip makes the white of her teeth whiter still. The days when she
isn't there, the convalescents flirt with the nurses. There is nothing
horrible about this hospital. The patients are only slightly wounded,
and wear becoming bathrobes when they lounge round.

The window-ledges of the rooms are gay with flowers. Almost always a
phonograph is going, "Carmen," or "Onégin," or "Pagliacci." Sometimes,
Peter and I one-step to the music on the pavement outside, and the
officers and nurses crowd to the windows and clap and cry, "Encore!"
Often, after sundown, when the children have gone indoors, and we go out
for a walk before dinner, we see a patient with a bandage around his
head, perhaps, but both arms well enough to be clasping a pretty nurse
in them. They laugh and we laugh. There is no cynicism about it. It's
bigger than that, it seems to me.

Into the garden come many street musicians. They play and sing, and
showers of kopecks rain down from the windows. Two little girls came a
few days ago. They were Tziganes, barefooted, with gay petticoats and
flowered shawls and dangling earrings. Their dark hair was short and
curly. One of the children played a _balalaika_ and sang in a broken,
mournful voice that did not at all belong to her age. The other--who
wore the prettiest dress, yellow, with a green and purple shawl--danced
like a little marionette on a string, not an expression in her pointed,
brown face, but every now and then accelerating the pace of her dance,
and giving sharp, high cries. Then, suddenly, they stopped in the middle
of a measure, and held out their aprons for money. A window on the
ground floor opened and a very pretty woman leaned out. I have seen her
many times. She is Polish, the daughter of a concierge, and now the
mistress of a young Cossack, who is leaving shortly for the front. She
has heavy, pale-yellow hair, wound around her head in thick braids, and
she wears pearls, opaque like her skin. She beckoned the little girls
into her room. They went eagerly. Soon I heard them singing there.

When we were with Dr. ----, from the Red Cross hospital this afternoon,
a soldier came up to us and saluted. He was a miserable-looking
creature, in a uniform too big for him. His face was unshaven, his beard
gray and sparse, and his eyes red and blinking and full of pain. He
slouched away again in a moment, his eyes staring down at the sidewalk
under his feet.

"What did he want?" I asked.

"He wants brandy. He's leaving for the front to-morrow, and he asked me
to write out a doctor's prescription so he could get a little brandy.
Poor fellow. It was impossible, of course, but I'd have done it gladly.
He said he'd been wounded and discharged, and had to go back to the
front and leave his family, helpless, again. The second time must be so
much worse than the first. You know what it's like out there."

                                   RUTH.


                                   _September._

_Darlingest ones:--_

At last I have heard from the letter about the Jewish detention camp.
The English Consul came to our rooms yesterday afternoon and said he was
to act as interpreter for the head of the secret police. I was to be
ready to answer his questions about eight o'clock that night. He told me
to keep my temper and say as little as possible.

Shortly before eight the Consul and the chief came round together. We
all sat down. I was quite calm. So often I had created my own terror of
this moment that when it came I met it with relief. I even felt a sense
of superiority over the chief of the secret service. I don't know why,
I'm sure. Perhaps because I was no longer afraid of him. It was as
though I had stuck my head under a pump of ice-cold water. I felt very
clear-headed. I had a curious feeling that things were as they were and
nothing I could say could change them.

"Are you a Jew?" he asked me first.

"No."

"Is your mother or father Jewish?"

"No. There is no Jewish blood in our family." I thought of Dad's
Quakerism and smiled. I wondered what he would have said if he had been
there.

"Then why have you such sympathy for them?" He looked at me narrowly, as
though he had me _there_.

"Because they are suffering."

"Tck." He clicked his tongue against the roof of his mouth in the most
skeptical fashion.

He took up my letter, translated into Russian, and went through it. The
whole thing was a farce. I answered the questions he asked me, but they
didn't get us anywhere. Of course, everything I knew about the Jewish
detention camp I had written in my letter. All I could do was to repeat
what I had said there. And when he asked questions like, "Who said five
old men had been killed along the way?" or, "How did you know throwing
the bodies into the Dnieper had brought cholera into Kiev this summer?"
I could only reply, "I was told it." "Who told you?" "I forget."

When he got up to go he said:--

"This letter makes your case a very serious one. Of course, we can't
have such things as that published about us. Have you ever written
before?"

I said, "No."

"You aren't reporting for any journal?"

I assured him it was only a letter I had written my mother and father.

"It goes out of my hands to-night. I shall hand it with a report to the
Chief of the General Staff."

"When shall I hear from them?"

"They will let you know as soon as possible. It's unfortunate you should
have written it. Otherwise, I could have settled the matter myself. As
it is, it is a matter for the military authorities. Of course, such a
letter written in the war zone, at a time like this--" He stopped
himself. "Good-night. Good-night." He clicked his heels and bowed
himself out of the room.

"Ouf!" we all said.

"Mrs. Pierce, promise me you won't put your pen to paper again while you
are in Russia," the English Consul said, smiling.

"But isn't it ridiculous--absurd--disgusting!" I said.

"People are sent to Siberia for less," the Consul said. "But don't be
frightened, Mrs. Pierce. It will come out all right."

"Of course. But when?"

"_Seichas_," he replied, smiling.

"_Seichas._" How I hate the expression. "Peter, you'd better cable for
some more money. Heaven knows when we'll get out now," I said.

Peter sends love too. We are hungry for news from you, and we picture
greedily the piles of letters we shall find waiting for us in Bulgaria.
I try not to be anxious about you--But I wake up at night and this
silence of months is like a dead weight on my heart.

                                   RUTH.



IV


                                   _September._

_Dear ones:--_

The Germans are advancing. Nothing seems able to stop them. And every
day brings new refugees from the country. They come in bewildered,
frightened hordes and pass through the city streets, directed by
gendarmes. They do as they are told. There is something dreadful in
their submission and in the gentle alacrity with which they obey orders.

The other day we were waiting on a street corner for a line of the
refugees' covered carts to pass. Suddenly, a woman, walking by a horse's
head, collapsed. She sank on to the paving-stones like a bundle of dusty
rags. People stopped to look, but no one touched her. The refugees
behind left their carts and came up to see what had halted the
procession. They, too, stood without touching her--peasants in dusty
sheepskins, leaning on their staffs, looking down at the woman who had
fallen out of their ranks. A gendarme elbowed his way through the crowd.
He began to wave his arms and strike his boot with his whip, and shout
at the weary-eyed, uncomprehending peasants. At last, two of them tucked
their staffs under their arms and, leaning down, picked up the fainting
woman. They carried her round to her cart and laid her down on the
straw, her head on the lap of one of her children. For a moment the
child looked down at her mother's white face, so strangely still, and
then, terrified, suddenly jumped to her feet and her mother's head fell
back against the boards with a dull thud. The children huddled together,
crying. A peasant whipped up the little horse, and the procession began
to move on.

There seems to be a horrible fear behind them that never lets them halt
for long. The Germans--After all, they are human beings like the
Russians. They, too, have their wounded and dying. People here speak of
special red trains that leave the front continuously for Germany. These
red trains are full of human beings whose brains have been smashed by
the horrors of war. The German soldier is not supernatural. Then I think
of those terrible red trains rushing through the dark, filled with
raving maniacs, of men who have become like little children again. And
yet when you hear, "The Germans are advancing! They are coming!" the
German army seems to take on a supernatural aspect, to become a ruthless
machine that drives everything before it in its advance, and in its wake
leaves a country stripped of life--all the people and cottages rubbed
off the face of the earth.

People here in Kiev feel the same terror of the German advance. Can
nothing stop it? A panic has swept over the city that makes every one
want to run away and hide. They crowd the square before the railway
station and camp there for days, waiting to secure a place on the trains
that leave for Petrograd or Odessa. For three weeks Peter has been
waiting for his reservation to get to Petrograd. Our case drags on so.
He wants to see the Ambassador personally. But the trains are packed
with terrified people. Men leave their affairs and go down to the square
with their families and baggage. They sleep on the cobble-stones,
wrapped up in blankets, their heads on their bags. It is autumn, and the
nights are cold and rainy, and the children cry in discomfort. I have
seen the square packed with motionless, sleeping people, and in the
morning I have seen them fight for places in the train, transformed by
this unbearable terror of the Germans into beasts that trample each
other to death. And when the train goes off, they settle back, waiting
for their next chance. Perhaps some are so much nearer the station, but
others are carried away wounded or dead. Who knows what they are capable
of till they are so afraid?

My dressmaker's sister was a cripple. Fear had crept even into her
sick-room. When Olga came to try on my dress, she fumbled and pinned
things all wrong in her haste. I spoke to her sharply and asked her to
be more careful. Then she burst into tears and told me about her sister.
It appeared her sister was afraid to be left alone. Every time Olga left
the room, her sister caught at her dress and made her promise not to
desert her. She thought of the Germans day and night. She cursed Olga if
she should ever run away and leave her to them. A few days later, Olga
came again. She was so pale and thin it frightened me, and she didn't
hurry nervously any more when she fitted me.

"What is it, Olga? You are sick," I said.

"My sister is dead. Last Saturday, it was late when I left you, and I
stopped on the way home to get some herring for supper. I was later than
usual, and when I got home I found my sister dead. She had died from
fear. She thought I had deserted her. She had half fallen out of her
chair as though she had tried to move. How could she think I would
desert her ever? Haven't I taken care of her for fifteen years? But it
was fear. She has been like one out of her mind since they have been so
near Kiev. What will they do in Kiev? They say the Germans are only two
days' march away!"

All day the church-bells have been ringing for special prayers. I went
into one of the churches in the late afternoon. It was dark and filled
with people who had come to pray for help to stop the Germans. There
were soldiers and peasants and townspeople, all with their thoughts
fixed on God. I cannot tell you how solemn it was. All the people united
in thought against the common menace. Women in black, soldiers and
officers with bands of black crêpe round their sleeves, square,
stolid-looking peasants, with tears running down their cheeks. They
knelt on the stone flagging, their eyes turned toward the altar with
its gold crucifix and jeweled ikons. The candle-flames only seemed to
make the dimness more obscure. And the deep voice of the priest chanting
in the darkness: all Russia seemed to be on its knees offering its faith
as a bulwark against the Germans. When I turned to leave, I came face to
face with an old woman. The tears were still wet on her cheeks, but she
was smiling.

"Kiev is a holy city," she said. "God will protect the tombs of his holy
Saints." And she brushed by, paying no more attention to me.

There are placards in all the banks, offering to give people the value
of their jewels and silverware.

Extra pontoon bridges are thrown across the Dnieper, ready for the
retreat of the Russian troops. Though there are lines of trenches and
barbed-wire entanglements before the city, no effort will be made to
defend it, as it would probably mean its destruction. I wonder what the
Germans will do when they get here? They are human beings, but I can't
help but think of Belgium, and then I am sick with fear. At other times,
it seems the one way to bring our affair with the Secret Service to a
finish. How strange it will be to have no longer a Russian army between
the Germans and Kiev. No more a wall of flesh to protect us. Poor
soldiers, without a round of ammunition, fighting with naked hands. They
will cross the Dnieper to one side of the city, crowding, fighting,
falling together. And the German cannon driving them on, and crashing
into the city, sometimes, wiping out whole streets of townspeople. And
then, the gray lines of the Germans running into Kiev. The thousands of
blue-eyed Germans and their pointed helmets and guttural speech taking
possession of everything.

As we came down the hill to-day, we saw great vans drawn up before the
Governor's mansion. Soldiers were loading them with the rich furnishings
of the house. Evidently, the Governor had no intention of letting _his_
things fall into the Germans' hands. How strange it looked--the feverish
haste with which the house was being emptied!

At the station a special train was waiting to take the Governor's things
to a place of safety--and the crowds were waiting to escape with their
lives! Now every one with any sort of a boat that will float is making
a fortune taking the terrified townspeople down the river. There are, of
course, horrible accidents, for the boats are overcrowded. One
completely turned turtle with its load of men and women and children.
And yet the Governor's things must be removed to a place of safety.

Aeroplanes scout over the city every day, and at night you can see their
lights moving overhead in the darkness. Sometimes they fly so low that
you can hear the whir of their engines. For the moment you don't know if
they're Russian or enemy ones.

And all night long high-powered automobiles rush up the hill to the
General Headquarters, bearing dispatches from the front.

I lie in bed, and it is impossible for me to sleep. It is as if I were
up over Kiev in an aeroplane, myself. I can see millions of Germans
marching along the roads from Warsaw, dragging their cannon through the
mud, fording streams, with their field kitchens and ambulances, moving
onward irresistibly toward the golden domes of Kiev.

You seem far away to-night. Only I love you. I can't love you enough.

                                   RUTH.


                                   _October._

_Darlingest Mother and Dad:--_

This afternoon I went up to the English Consulate with Sasha. As we
turned the corner we saw a long gray procession of carts crawling down
the hill toward us. I stopped and watched them pass me, one after the
other, crowded over to the side of the road by the usual traffic of a
busy street. Peasants walked by the horses' heads, men in dusty
sheepskin coats, or women muffled up somehow, their hands hidden in the
bosoms of their waists for warmth. They stared ahead with a curious,
blind look in their eyes, as though they did not realize the noise and
movement of the city life about them. How strange it was, the passing of
this silent peasant procession by the side of the clanging trains and
gray war automobiles!

"Who are these people?" I asked Sasha.

"They must be the fugitives," she replied. "Every day they come in
increasing numbers. I have heard the Kiev authorities are trying to turn
them aside and make them go round the outskirts; for what can a city do
with whole provinces of homeless and hungry peasants?"

"You mean they are the refugees who have been driven out of their homes
by the enemy?" I asked.

"Yes. By the Germans and Austrians."

The carts jolted slowly down the hill, the brakes grinding against the
wheels, the little rough-coated horses holding back in the shafts.
Sometimes, where there should have been two horses, there was only one.
The others evidently had been sold or else died on the way. Only one
small horse to drag a heavy double cart crowded with people and
furnishings. One little horse looked about to drop. His sides were
heaving painfully and his eyes were glazed. "Why don't they stop and
rest," I thought. "Why does that man keep on? His horse will die, and
then what will he do?"

"What do they do when their horses give out?" I asked Sasha.

"What can they do?" she replied. "What did they do when they were forced
to leave their farms and lands? They bear it. The Russian people have a
great capacity for suffering. Think of it--what this means
now--hundreds and hundreds of thousands of people made homeless and sent
wandering over the face of the earth. Think of the separations--the
families broken up--the bewilderment. A month ago, perhaps, they had
their houses and lands and food to eat. They were muzhiks. And now they
are wandering, homeless, like Tziganes. Ah, the Russian people were born
into a heritage of suffering, and to us all the future is hidden."

I kept my eyes on the endless procession. Some of the carts were open
farm wagons, piled with hay, and hung with strange assortments of
household utensils. Frying-pans and kettles were strung along the sides,
enameled ones, sometimes, that showed a former prosperity. Inside were
piles of mattresses and chairs; perhaps a black stovepipe stuck out
through the slatted sides of the cart. The women and children huddled
together in the midst of their household goods, wrapped up in the extra
petticoats and waists and shawls they had brought along--anything for
warmth. The children were pale and pinched, and some of them had their
eyes closed as though they were sick. If they looked at you, it was
without any curiosity or eagerness. How pitiful the indifference of the
children was!

Sometimes the carts were covered with faded cloth stretched over rounded
frameworks like gypsy-wagons. There, the old _babas_ sat on the front
seats, eyes like black shoe-buttons, with their lives almost finished.
They seemed the least affected by the misery and change. They occupied
the most comfortable places, and held the bright-colored ikons in their
arms--the most precious possession of a Russian home. Perhaps a dog was
tied under the wagon, or a young colt trotted along by its mother's
side.

It was as though there had been a great fire, and every one had caught
up what he could to save from destruction: homes broken into little bits
to be put together again in a strange land.

An open cart broke down in front of us. The woman got out to help her
husband. She had a round, pock-marked face, as expressionless as wood.
She wore a bright shawl over her hair, and a long sheepskin coat, with
the sleeves and pockets beautifully embroidered in colors. It was dirty,
now, but indicated she had been well-to-do once. She limped badly.

"Good-evening," I said.

"Good-evening, excellency," she replied civilly.

"Are you hurt?" I asked.

"My feet are blistered from the walking," she replied. "I take turns
with my husband."

"Where are you from?"

"Rovno."

"How long have you been on the way?"

"Many weeks. Who knows how long?"

"And where are you going?"

"Where the others go. Somewhere into the interior."

The procession had not halted, but, turning out for the broken-down
cart, continued uninterruptedly down the hill. Every now and then the
peasant looked up anxiously.

"We must hurry. We mustn't be left behind," he muttered.

"What do you eat?" I asked the woman.

"What we can find. Sometimes we get food at the relief stations, or we
get it along the way."

"Do the villages you pass through help you?" I persisted.

"They do what they can. But there are so many of us."

"Can't you find cabbages and potatoes in the fields?" I asked.

The woman looked at me suspiciously for a moment, and did not reply.

"Why do you want to know these things?" she asked, after a silence.
"What business is it of yours?"

"I want to help you."

"Help us." She shook her head. "But I'll tell you," she said. "I did
take some potatoes once. It was before the cold weather. I dug them out
of a field we passed through after dark. No one saw me. My children were
crying with hunger and I had nothing to give them. So I dug up a handful
of potatoes in the dark. But God saw me and punished me. I cooked the
potatoes over a fire by the roadside, but He kept the heat from reaching
the inside of the potatoes. Two of my children sickened and died from
eating them. It was God's punishment. We buried them along the road. My
husband made the crosses out of wood and carved their names on them.
They lie way behind us now--unsung. But perhaps those who pass along the
road and see the crosses will offer up a prayer."

"I will burn candles for them," I said. "What were their names?"

"Sonia and Peter Kolpakova, your excellency. You are good. God bless
you!" And she kissed my hands.

I looked at the three children who were left. They sat in the cart
silently, surrounded by the incongruous collection of pots and pans, and
leaning against a painted chest. The chest was covered with dust, but
you could still see a bunch of bright-painted flowers behind the
children's heads.

"Poor little things," I said. "Are they cold?"

"It's hard on the children," the mother replied stolidly. "They can't
stand it as we can. We are used to trouble. We know what life is. But
the children--they are sick most of the time. They have no strength
left. What can we do for them? We have no medicines. Have you any
medicines?" she asked, with a sudden, hopeful glint in her dull,
wide-set eyes. "No?" Her face regained its impassivity.

Her husband straightened himself, grunting. He had finished tying the
broken wheel together with rope.

"Come, we must be moving. Hurry, or we'll be left behind," he said,
going to the little horse's head.

The woman climbed back into the cart and took the youngest child in her
arms. A feeble wail came from the dull-colored bundle. Her husband
turned the horse into the procession again.

Still the carts were coming over the hill, gray and dusty, with the
peasants and their wives walking beside the horses' heads. What a river
of suffering! What a smell came from it! And automobiles and tramways
rushed by.

Is this the twentieth century?


                                   _October._

I delayed mailing my last letter, so I shall tell you about another
glimpse I've had of the refugees. Yesterday, as we sat drinking tea, we
heard the rumble and creak of heavy wagons outside the _pension_. The
noise reached us distinctly in spite of the windows being hermetically
sealed with putty for the winter. At first we thought it was the regular
train of carts that climb Institutska Oulitza every evening at six
o'clock carrying provisions to the barracks. But the rumble and creak
persisted so long that I went to the window at last to see why there
were so many more carts than usual.

There was a procession of carts, but instead of going up the hill in the
direction of the barracks, it was descending the hill, and instead of
soldiers in clumsy uniforms, peasants in bell-shaped sheepskin coats
walked by their horses' heads, snapping the long lash whips they carried
in their hands. I recognized the covered gypsy wagons and the open carts
with their bulky loads. It was too dark to see distinctly, but I knew
they were refugees by the strings of kettles along the sides of the
carts, which caught the electric light in coppery flashes. And in the
open wagons I could see the pale disks of faces. As I watched, the
procession came to a stand-still and the drivers collected in little
groups under the white globes of the street lamps. I went outdoors and
crossed the street to them.

I approached a group of three men.

"Good-evening," I said.

"Good-evening, Panna," they replied.

"Have you come far?"

"Far? I should say we've been two months on the road," replied the
best-dressed man of the three. He had fur cuffs and collar on his long
sheepskin coat, and his boots were strong and well made.

"Can you tell me where we can get some tobacco?" he asked.

I directed him down the street a little way. He took a piece of silver
from a leather purse he wore round his neck, and gave it to one of his
companions, who left on the errand. The other man went round to the tail
of the cart and took down two bags of grain for the horses' supper.

"Good horses you have there," I said, to say something.

"Yes, indeed; the best horses a man ever had; less good ones would have
died on the road long ago. I bought them for fifty roubles apiece, and I
wouldn't take two hundred and fifty for them to-day. But, then, they're
all I have left of back there." He spoke in a quiet voice, scratching
his stubby, unshaven face, absent-mindedly.

"Is he traveling with you?" I asked, pointing to the man who was
slinging the grain-bags round the horses' necks.

"Yes. I picked him up along the road. His horse had died under him and
he counted himself no longer a human being. What was he, indeed, with
nothing he could call his own in the world any more? I let him come
along with me. I had extra room. So I let him come along with me." His
voice had no expression in it.

"But haven't you a family?" I asked.

"I have three children," he replied.

"It must be hard to take care of children at such a time as this."

"God knows it is," he replied. There was a sudden desperate note in his
voice. "It's a woman's business. But my wife died on the way. A month
and a half ago--soon after we started. It seems soon, now, but we'd been
long enough on the road to kill her with the jolting and misery of it."

"Was she sick?"

"She died in childbirth. There was no one to take care of her, and
nothing for her to eat. I made a fire, and she lay on the ground. All
night she moaned. She died toward morning. The baby only lived a few
hours. It was better it should die. What was ahead of it but suffering?
It was a boy, and my wife and I had always wanted a boy. But I wouldn't
have minded so much if the little wife had lived. It's hard without
her."

The man returned with the tobacco and the three peasants lighted
cigarettes. All was quiet. I heard nothing but the champing of the
horses as they munched the grain and the whistling of the wind through
the poplars in the convent garden.

"Kiev is a big city--a holy city, I've heard. Many from our town have
made a pilgrimage here," the rich peasant observed.

For the moment I'd forgotten where I was. Now I heard the city noises;
the footsteps grinding on pavements; the whistle and grinding of trains.
And the lights from the city reddened the mists that rose from the
Dnieper.

The carts in front began to move on.

"Where are we going?"--"What are the orders?"--"Is there a relief
station here?" every one cried at once.

"Good-bye. A good journey," I cried.

"Thank you. Good-bye."

The men stepped out into the road again. I watched cart after cart pass
me. The women looked straight out between the horses' ears, and showed
no curiosity or wonderment at being in a big city for the first time in
their lives. Strange sights and faces had no significance for them any
more.

I ducked under a horse's nose and went indoors again.

There is something shameful in our security. We have shelter and bread.
We can only feel life indirectly, after all. We are always muffled up by
things. And America. A pathologic fear clutches me, for how will it all
end?

My love to you every minute.

                                   RUTH.


                                   _October._

_Dearests:--_

There seems no beginning or end to my stay here. How strange it is to
look back to July and remember the long, hot days and the languorous
nights when, in spite of the war, people walked in the gardens and
listened to the music and drank punch out of tea-cups, pretending it was
tea. The still, starlit nights of July.

I remember a dinner Princess P---- gave at Koupietsky Park a few nights
after my arrival in Russia. Everything was so new to me. Our table was
set out on the terrace, overlooking the Dnieper, with the music and stir
of people in the distance. An irresponsible joy filled my heart as I
looked down at the black, winding river with its shadowy banks and the
fantastic shimmer of lights on the water. The city lights crowded down
to the very water's edge; then the drifting red and green lights of
steamers and ferry-boats moving on the black, magic stream, and beyond,
the flat plain, silent and mysterious, with, over the horizon rim, the
thunder and clang of war. But war was far away those first days I was in
Russia. I hardly thought of it.

The dome and square walls of a monastery were momentarily whitened by a
wheeling searchlight, and high up against the dusky, starlit sky was
printed a shining gold cross. Women's dresses glimmered in the darkness
like gray, widespread wings of moths, and laughter came from the curve
of the terrace overlooking the monastery garden.

"My child, there are tears in your eyes; how pretty!" the Princess
cried, taking my hand in hers and stroking it with her small, cold
fingers.

There were other Americans present beside myself, and I knew the
Princess loved one of them. It was to make him jealous, I knew, that she
held my hand in hers throughout dinner. She, herself, hardly ate
anything, only smoked one cigarette after another. There were all sorts
of _zakouski_, stuffed tomatoes and cucumbers and queer little fishes in
oil, and pickled sturgeon and mushrooms, and salads and caviar, and
there was _kvass_ to drink,--deep red,--and a champagne cup served in a
teapot, and cigarettes all through the meal.

The Princess was middle-aged and wanted to appear youthful; so she dyed
her hair blue-black which was harsh for her pointed face, and wore
costly, too elaborate clothes from Paris. But her body showed delicately
round under the laces and chiffons, and she was quick and light in her
gestures like a bird. Her husband, who had been twice her age, had died,
leaving her large estates and much money. Now she moved about Russia
with a maid and a wee little dog and numberless trunks, frivolously
seeking her pleasure. Her eyes were black and glittering, and her mouth
red and thin and flexible. She had caressing, spoiled ways with every
one from the American whom she called "Meester" to her chow dog, and all
she asked from any one was amusement.

"I like Americans," she said with shameless flattery. "So much I like
them. The women--_and_ the men. I shall go to New York after the war,
and you will show me your famous cabarets, and--what do you call it?"
She appealed to "Meester."

"Broadway--good old Broadway," he replied indulgently.

"Ah, yes. B-r-r-oadway. And I will dance all night. I dance
magnificently. Is it not so, Meester? Yes, I will go to New York and
become just like an American."

After dinner we went to a wrestling-match, and "Meester" took the
Princess, radiant and vivacious and paying all the bills, back to the
Continental.

Since July war has come nearer Kiev. The hospitals are full of maimed
and wounded soldiers who fought to defend Russia. They made a bulwark of
their breasts. It was as though one single giant breast, hundreds of
versts broad, thrust itself between the Germans and home.

And it is winter now. The days are short with an icy, gray mist from the
Dnieper, and flurries of snow. There is a shortage of coal, and we sit
shivering in our apartment. We drag the covers off the beds and wrap
ourselves up in them while we read books from the circulating library or
play three-handed bridge. The wind rattles the windows and streaks the
panes with snow and rain. But however dirty they get, they must remain
unwashed till spring; for they are sealed for the winter with putty, and
you can open only one small pane at the top. The apartment is darker
than ever. Not once does the sun shine into our rooms. We see the
sunlight in the street, but the dark shadow of the building lengthens
minute by minute, stretching itself across the street and reaching up
over the convent wall like the smothering black hand of a giant, till
only the tips of the cypresses and poplars in the gardens are red in the
late sunlight.

At tea-time we go to "François's" or to some other little sweet-shop, in
order to get warm. There, we drink glass after glass of weak tea and eat
little Polish cakes, and look over the English and French periodicals.

It is dark when we go out into the street again, and the air is frosty.
The officers wear short gray coats, braided and lined with fur, and fur
caps. The women are muffled in seal and sable, which make the skin look
clear and white and their eyes brilliant. Even the peasants wear
sheepskin coats, bell-shaped and richly embroidered. Marie has winter
clothes, but the warmest thing I possess is my traveling suit I wore
here in June, which has been getting thinner and thinner ever since. My
feet, in low summer pumps, are swollen and burning with chilblains. I
must get some high shoes when our next money comes. You see, that is the
trouble. We are promised our passports from day to day, and, expecting
to go at any time, we try to get along with what money we have, and wait
to buy clothes till we get back to Bucharest. But our passports are not
given us and our money gets low. We are waiting for money now, and, of
course, a cold snap has set in just when we can't possibly buy anything.
Peter's summer suit hangs on him in folds. The heaviest iron couldn't
crease it into even temporary shape. When we went to the cinematograph
last night he wore Marie's black fur coat to keep from freezing.

"Look at that man," we heard a woman say in the street. "He's wearing a
woman's coat!"

Yes, we go from café to cinematograph and try and keep warm.

I've never liked moving pictures before. Here they are presented
differently than in America. Some of the plays I've seen have the
naïveté and simplicity of a confession. Others interpret abnormal,
psychopathic characters whose feelings and thoughts are expressed by the
actors with a fine and vivid realism. There is the exultation of life,
and the despair, the aggression and apathy, the frivolity and the
revolt. The action is taken slowly. There are no stars. You look at the
screen as though you were looking at life itself. And the films don't
always have happy endings, because life isn't always kind. It often
seems senseless and cruel and crushes men's spirits. I wish we could
have these films in America instead of the jig-saw puzzles I've seen.


                                   _October._

There is a gypsy who sells fruit at the corner of Institutska Oulitza, a
woman so enormous that she resembles a towering mountain, and her
customers look, beside her, like tiny Russian toys. Every one looks at
her curiously, and I have seen several gentlemen in fur pelisses, with
gold-headed canes, stop and speak to her. In the morning she wheels up
her cart by the curbing and polishes the pears and apples with the end
of her shawl till they shine. Then she piles them up in red and yellow
pyramids and waits for customers, her hands on her hips. Everything
about her is crude and flaming and inextinguishable like life itself.
Her scarlet skirt lights up the whole street. It floats about her, and
when she bends over to serve a customer, you can see the edges of green
and yellow and pink and brown petticoats underneath as her overskirt
tilts up. The lines of her body are brutal and compact. Her dark,
mulberry-colored shawl is stretched tightly across her full bosom. Her
eyebrows meet over her nose in a heavy, broad line like a smudge of
charcoal, and her nose is spongy, and her lips swollen and red from
taking snuff. She holds her black and silver snuff-box in her hand or
hides it away in a pocket in her voluminous skirt when she serves some
one. Her fingers are covered with rings and she wears yellow hoops in
her ears. I am repulsed as well as attracted. She is like a bold,
upright stroke of life, and then I see her crafty eyes and notice how,
in spite of her size, when she moves it is with the softness and
flexibility of a huge cat.

Peter went to Petrograd to-day and he will stay there till he gets our
passports. He would have gone a month ago, but first came the panic
from the German advance, and then the railways were used only for
military purposes. Now, Marie and I are alone, waiting for a telegram
from him.



V


                                   _October._

To-day, the chief of the secret service came and told us all political
prisoners were to be sent on to Siberia. He told us to make a small
bundle of necessary things and be ready to leave at any time. With Peter
in Petrograd! I asked him where we were going and he shrugged his
shoulders. I went to Mr. Douglas, who has wired Peter. Also, he is going
to see the chief and try and keep in touch with us. We won't leave till
the last moment. But already many of the hospitals have been moved, and
certain prisoners. I suppose I must destroy these letters to you. But I
will wait till the last moment. I want so much for you to get them and
know what has happened, because I shan't see you, to tell you with my
voice, for over a year still. I have written so fully for that reason.


                                   _A few days later._

We are still here, and there is more hope in the situation. There is a
persistent report in the papers, and it is repeated in the streets and
houses, that the Germans have been stopped by Riga and Dvinsk. Large
bodies of troops are moved through Kiev, day and night, for the front.
Regular train service is suspended by this movement of troops.

Huge vans pass through the city, carrying aeroplanes to the aviation
field outside the barracks. Once we saw a wrecked one being sent to be
repaired. A troop of small boys followed it, looking curiously at the
broad, broken wings and the tangle of steel framework.

Guns are arriving, too. We see them being carted through the streets.
And early this morning we heard cannon. Our first thought was of the
Germans, and we lay in bed, stiff with fright. Later, we heard they were
the new cannon being tried out before being sent to the front. They say
that fresh ammunition has been received from Japan and America. All
trains are held up to let these trainloads of guns and cannon and
ammunition go tearing over the rails to the front to save Russia. And
just in time. I see the open cars packed and covered and guarded by
soldiers. I lie in bed and hear the whistle and shriek of the trains in
the night, and I imagine row upon row of long iron-throated cannon
staring up at the stars.

The Czar has arrived in Kiev for a conference at Headquarters. He came
during the night, and no one knows when he will leave. There was no
demonstration, and the police break up any groups of more than three
persons in the streets.

A dozen or so Japanese officers passed through Kiev, too. They were
bound for the front, escorting their guns and ammunition. How curious
they looked beside the big, naïve Russians. They were like porcelain
figurines with impenetrable, yellow faces, mask-like, and tiny hands and
feet. What a finished product they appear, and yet they go to the front
and observe the latest methods of warfare and multiply their merchant
marine while the rest of the world is spending itself.


                                   _October._

I went to a military hospital to-day. It was up on a hill, a huge place,
formerly a school, I think, with a broad piazza where the convalescents
walked in their gray bathrobes. Inside were rows and rows of cots, and
on every cot a wounded man. It appeared that a fresh batch had arrived
from the front, and the doctors were just finishing with them. There was
a foul smell of blood and sweat and anæsthetics, and the light came
dismally through the dirty window-panes, showing dimly the rows and rows
of pale, weary faces on the thin pillows. Sometimes the gray blankets
came up to the chin, and the man looked dead already, he was so
dreadfully still, with his closed eyes and waxlike face. Another moaned
continuously, moving his head from side to side--"Oh, oh--Oh, oh." His
eyes were open, and hard and bright with fever. Several had their heads
wound with strips of bandages. You would hardly have known they were
human. Two or three were blind, with the bandage only round their eyes,
and it was strange to see the expression their hands took on--workmen's
hands with stubby fingers, now white and helpless-looking, and picking
at the cover aimlessly.

A nurse told me how an officer who had been blinded and was about to be
discharged and sent home, had committed suicide the other day. In some
way one of his men, who had been wounded in the arm, had been able to
smuggle in a revolver to him. The officer killed himself in the middle
of the night.

"I don't suppose he knew whether it was day or night, and took a chance
that no one was looking," I said.

"I think he knew it was night," she replied. "He could tell by the
others' breathing. I was night nurse. He was dead before I reached him.
The soldier gave himself up of his own accord. He will be
court-martialed, of course, though every one knows he did the best
thing. He said to us, 'He was my captain. He ordered me to get the
revolver, and I only obeyed orders. I would do it again.' We had a hard
time the rest of the night to quiet the men."

In a small room to one side were six men gone mad. They were quite
harmless and lay quietly in bed. Besides having their reason smashed to
bits by the horrors at the front, they were badly wounded. I was ashamed
to stand there looking at them. What was I? Suddenly, one of them, a
young boy surely not more than twenty-one or twenty-two, caught sight of
us, and he fixed his eyes upon us in a curious, concentrated way as if
to assure himself we were real. And then, all at once, abject terror
leapt into his eyes. His mouth opened and the cords of his neck stood
out. He threw both arms before his face as if to ward off somebody or
something. He began to scream out quick, unintelligible words in a
high-pitched, staccato voice. I looked fearfully at the others to see if
his terror would be communicated to them. But they were apparently
oblivious of each other, wrapped up in their separate lives and
experiences. One middle-aged man, with a rough, reddish beard, was
smiling mildly and smoothing the sheet as though it had been somebody's
hair. We left the room, leaving the nurse to calm the screaming man. I
thought of the terrors and fears and memories in that room: the snatches
of memories pieced together that made up the actual lives, now, of those
broken men in there.

"Are they--do they suffer?" I asked the doctor.

"No. They don't seem to realize that they are wounded and suffer the way
normal people would with their wounds. The only thing is, they all have
moments of terror, when it's all we can do to quiet them. They think the
wall of the room is the enemy moving down on them. I guess they went
through hell all right, there at the front!"

"Will they get better?"

"We can't tell. We have a specialist studying just such cases. These men
seem pretty well smashed, to me."

In one corner lay a young man propped up with pillows. A nurse was
holding his hand. His eyes were looking at her so trustfully. He hardly
seemed to be breathing and his face was bloodless--even his lips were
dead white. And as I looked, he gave a little sigh, and his eyes closed
and his body sagged among the pillows. The nurse bent over him and then
straightened herself. Quickly she arranged a screen round the bed. When
she walked away, I could see she was crying uncontrollably.

"Is he--?"

"Yes. He's dead," the doctor replied. "He's been dying for a week. He
was terribly wounded in the stomach, and there was nothing we could do
for him. It was a repulsive case to care for, but Sister Mary had full
charge of it. She sat with him for hours at a time. In the beginning, to
encourage him, she bought a pair of boots he was to wear when he got
well. For days, now, he's been out of his head and fancied she was his
mother."

And life presses as close to death as that--while I was looking at him,
he had died. I just managed to reach the door before I fainted.


                                   _October._

The Governor of Kiev has been removed. He was too cautious. It was a bad
example!



VI


                                   _October._

_Darling ones:--_

There is the most careful avoidance of any official responsibility here
in trying to find out where our passports are, and who is to return
them. We have already unraveled yards of red tape, and still there is no
end. Of course, ever since Peter came he has followed a schedule of
visits--one day to the English Consul; another day to the secret police,
then to the Military Governor, the Civil Governor, the Chief of Staff,
and back, in desperation, to the English Consul. There is an American
Vice-Consul here, but he is wholly ineffectual, since he has not yet
been officially received. His principal duty consists in distributing
relief to the Polish refugees. Mr. Douglas, the English Consul, is our
one hope, and he is untiring in his efforts to help us. If we ever get
out, it will be due to him. The English Government is behind its
representatives here in a way that the American State Department is not.
Partly, I suppose, this is because America has no treaty with Russia,
on account of the Jew clause. At any rate, you might just as well be a
Fiji Islander as an American, for all the consideration you get from
officialdom.

Did I write you about the naturalized American Jew in the detention
camp? He had come back to Galicia in the summer of 1914 to see his
sister married. After the outbreak of the war, he was refused permission
to leave the country, and when the wholesale clean-up started, he was
deported with the others. The day I visited the detention camp he had
just arrived, and, knowing we were Americans, he tried to secure our
aid. He had managed to keep his American passport, and brought it out to
us to prove his naturalization and to strengthen his demand to be set
free as an American citizen. The overseer, hearing his excited voice and
seeing us examine a large sheet of paper, came up. He looked like a
butcher, in his dirty-white linen coat, his legs planted apart, his
hands fingering his short whip. The way in which he joined our group and
made himself one with us, without so much as by your leave, was
disturbing. The cool self-assurance of even a petty Russian official is
sinister. They are straw men to your reason, but hard facts if you bump
up against them. Our curiosity flagged, conscious as we were all the
time of his unblinking ferret-eyes on us, and we showed a certain
alacrity to return the passport to its rightful owner. When we were
handing it back to the Jew, the overseer thrust out his hand and said,
"Let me see it."

There was nothing for the Jew to do but hand it over. The overseer could
not read a word of English, of course, but from the big red American
seal he could recognize it as an official document.

Suddenly, he tore it in halves, and as the Jew tried to grab it out of
his hands, he cuffed the Jew down, and continued deliberately to tear it
into tiny bits.

"I am an American and that is my passport," the Jew cried.

"That's what I think of an American passport," the overseer replied,
looking us over with incredible impudence as he walked away.

The rest of Russian officialdom must regard American rights in much the
same way, since it is four months now that we have been detained.

I went to the headquarters of the secret police the other day with Mr.
Douglas. It is located in the opposite end of the town, down a quiet
side street--an unobtrusive, one-storied brown house that gives the
impression of trying to hide itself from people's notice. It is reached
by a narrow, stone-flagged path, crowded in between two houses which
block its view from the street. There are four windows in a row on the
front façade, all with the curtains drawn. These four blind windows add
to the secretive appearance. Over the front steps the yellowing leaves
of a lime tree rustled in the wind and detached themselves one by one.

We rang the bell. While we waited, I was conscious of being watched,
and, glancing up quickly, I saw the curtain at one of the windows fall
back into place. The door opened a crack, and a white face with a long,
thin nose, and horn-rimmed spectacles with smoky glass to hide the eyes,
peered out at us furtively. Mr. Douglas handed the spy his card and the
door was shut softly in our faces.

In about three minutes the door was opened again, and a gendarme in
uniform ushered us into a long room thick with stale tobacco-smoke. He
gave me a chair, and while we waited I looked about at the walls with
the brightly colored portraits of the Czar and the Czarina and the royal
family, and the ikon in one corner. "Give up all hope all ye who enter
here."

The room was silent except for the scratch of pens on paper. The
secret-service spies sat at long tables, writing laboriously, and
smoking. They all wore civilian clothes, and I recognized most of them.
I had passed them on the street or sat beside them in restaurants, and
three had come with the chief to arrest us. I wondered what they were
writing. Some one was being betrayed or ruined. That was how they lived.
I looked for the mark of their calling on them, but at first they
appeared an ordinary crowd, pale, with a thick, unhealthy pallor, as
though from an indoor life. Their suits were poor enough,--worn
threadbare,--and their fingernails were dirty. Furtively they glanced up
at me and examined me curiously, and then gave quick, frightened looks
on either side to see if their comrades had observed their interest in
me. What a mediocre, shabby crowd, with their low foreheads and
dead-white skin and dirty linen, and, yes, the stamp on them that made
them infamous! It was as though their profession affected them the way
that living in a close, dark room would, stupefying and making them
bestial.

And then the chief came in, accompanied by two spies with black
portfolios under their arms. When he saw us, he grew white with anger.
He looked like a German, spurred and booted, with square head and jaw
and steel-like eyes and compressed, cruel lips. He was the only
well-dressed one in the crowd, but his livery was the same as theirs. He
was their superior, that was all, and how I loathed him!

"He's angry because we were brought in here," Douglas whispered under
his breath.

The chief turned his back on us.

The spies scribbled away furiously, their noses close to their paper,
not daring to look up.

We were taken into another room, a small back room, bare except for a
table and sofa and a tawdry ikon in the farthest corner. And there we
waited fully fifteen minutes in absolute silence. How silent that house
was, full of invisible horrors! The headquarters of the secret
police--why shouldn't it be terrifying when you think of the men and
women who have been brought here in secret, and their existence suddenly
snapped off: secret arrest, secret trial, or no trial at all, and then a
secret sending-off up north, out of the reach of the world! What strange
abortions of life this Government brings forth! Is it curious that
thinking men and women, who have lived apparently well-regulated lives,
suddenly throw bombs at a minister in a railway station, or at an
official as he drives to the palace in dress uniform, with jeweled
decorations on his breast? I ran my hand over the faded sofa-covering,
wondering who had sat there before me.

Suddenly the chief came into the room, closing the door carefully behind
him. He was quite calm again.

"What do you want?" He looked at Douglas.

Douglas explained how anxious we were to get out of Russia, how we had
insufficient money for cold weather, how my husband's business called
for his immediate presence, and so forth, all of which we had gone over
at least three times a week since my arrest, and all of which was a
matter of complete indifference to the secret police. They had failed to
find any proof of espionage, which was their charge against us, and my
letter, their only evidence, had been passed on and was snarled up
somewhere in official red-tape. Now they washed their hands of me.

"We can do nothing. It is out of our hands." He was extremely courteous,
speaking German for my benefit. "It is unfortunate that Frau Pierce
should have written the letter. I was obliged to send it on to the
General Staff. You should have a reply soon."

There was nothing more to be said. Douglas was conciliatory, almost
ingratiating. My nerves gave way.

"A reply soon!" I burst out. "I'm sick of waiting. If we have the
liberty of the city, surely there can't be anything very serious against
us. It's an outrage keeping our passports. I'm an American and I demand
them." I was almost crying.

"You must demand them through your Ambassador, meine Frau."

I knew that he knew we had been telegraphing him since our arrest and my
impotence made me speechless with rage. Douglas took advantage of my
condition to beat a hasty retreat.

As we were going through the doorway, the chief said carelessly, "By
the way, how did you happen to find this house?"

"I have been here before," Douglas replied.

"Thank you. I was only curious."

I could feel the spies' eyes on my back as we went down the path.

"Mrs. Pierce--Mrs. Pierce, you must not lose your temper that way."

"I don't care!" I cried. "I had no way to express what I felt."

"I know," Douglas agreed thoughtfully.

We hailed a droshky and got in.

"I have a friend--a Pole," said Douglas. "For no reason except that he
was a Pole, they made a _revision_ at his house, and among other things
took away every calling card they found. They made a _revision_ then on
each one of those people whose names they found. Though they found
nothing incriminating in his possession, they make him report every day
at the police headquarters. A year ago he was a giant in strength. Now
he is a sick man. The uselessness of it. Nothing was found against him,
and yet he is followed and watched. What are they driving at? They are
wearing him to the bone with their persecution." He shrugged his
shoulders and laughed suddenly. "Come, Mrs. Pierce, you can do nothing
against them. But let me tell you what I will give you. It is a German
helmet that a friend of mine brought from the Riga front. You can put it
in your room and blow beans at it!"


                                   _October._

"Passports--passports, who's got the passports?" It's like a game--or
_la recherche de l'absolu_. And it isn't as though you could hop into a
cab and make the round of visits on the General Staff, Civil Governor,
and the rest, all in one day, or even all in a week. Nothing so
efficient and simple as that. What is an official without an anteroom?
As well imagine a soldier without a uniform. And the importance of the
official is instantly seen by the crowd waiting on him. Soldiers and
Jews and patient, unobtrusive women in black wait at police
headquarters; generals and ladies of quality crowd the anteroom of the
General Staff. For days the faces vary only slightly when you enter and
take your accustomed place. Patient, dull faces that light with
momentary expectation on the opening of a door, and relapse into
depression and tragic immobility when the aide walks through the
anteroom without admitting any one to the inner office.

I gained admittance to the Military Governor the other day. He is the
successor of that over-cautious governor who moved all his household
goods during the German advance, and was then relieved of office. His
palace, set back from the street behind a tall iron fence, is guarded by
soldiers with bayonets, and secret-service men. I laughed, recognizing
my old friends the spies.

Upstairs, the Governor was just saying good-bye to Bobrinsky, former
Governor of Galicia, and we stood to one side as they came out of an
inner office, bowing and making compliments to each other. Gold braid
and decorations! These days the military have their innings, to be sure!
I wonder how many stupid years of barrack-life go to make up one of
these men? Or perhaps so much gold braid is paid for in other ways.

The Governor was an old man, carefully preserved. His uniform was
padded, but his legs, thin and insecure, gave him away, and his standing
collar, though it came up to his ears, failed to hide his scrawny neck
where the flesh was caving in. He wore his gray beard trimmed to a
point, and inside his beaklike nose was a quantity of grayish-yellow
hair which made a very disagreeable impression on me. All the time I was
speaking he examined his nails. When he raised his eyes finally, to
reply, I noticed how lifeless and indifferent they were, and glazed by
age. I could see the bones of his face move under the skin as he talked,
especially two little round bones, like balls, close to his ears.

"I have nothing to do with the case. It has been referred to the General
Staff, I believe. You will have to wait for the course of events."

He turned his back, went over to the window, and began to play with a
curtain-tassel. An aide bowed me to the door.

Outside, the anteroom was crowded with supplicants. It was his reception
hour. The murmur of whispered conversations stopped when we appeared.
Every one rose, pressing forward to reach the aide. Some held out soiled
bits of paper; others talked in loud, explanatory voices, as though
hoping by sheer noise to pierce the crust of official attention. But the
aide took no more notice than if they had been crowding sheep. He
pushed through them and escorted me to the head of the staircase. Down I
went, boiling with rage.


_Dearest Mother and Dad:--_

I am just back from the General Staff, where the mysterious rotation of
the official wheel landed me unexpectedly into the very sanctum
sanctorum of the Chief of the Staff, and to see him I had to wait only
five hours with Mr. Douglas in the anteroom! Mr. Douglas has just left
me to go to his club, exhausted, ready to devour pounds of Moscow
sausages, so he said.

The anteroom of the General Staff was as Russian as Russian can be. I
suppose I shall never forget the dingy room, with its brown painted
walls and the benches and chairs ranged along the four sides of the
room, and the orderlies bringing in glasses of tea, and the waiting
people who were not ashamed to be unhappy. In the beginning Mr. Douglas
and I tried to talk, but after an hour or so we relapsed into silence. I
looked up at the large oil paintings of deceased generals which hung
about the room. At first, they all looked fat and stupid and alike in
the huge, ornate gilt frames. But after much study they began to take
on differences--slight differences which it seemed that the painters had
caught in spite of themselves, but which made human beings of even
generals.

There was one portrait that I remember, in the corner, a general in the
uniform of the Crimean War. He looked out at you with green eyes, like a
cat's. The more I looked at him, the more he resembled a cat, with his
flat, broad head and slightly almond eyes and long mustache. His cheek
bones were high and his jaw square and cruel. He settled into his
coat-collar the way a cat shortens its neck when it purrs. He, too, was
purring, from gratification, perhaps, at having his portrait painted;
but, wholly untrustworthy himself, he distrusted the world and held
himself ready to strike.

Another portrait was of a man who might have been of peasant origin. An
inky black beard hid the lower part of his face, but his nose was blunt
and pugnacious, and his eyes were like black shoe-buttons sewn close
together. He stuck out his stomach importantly, and the care with which
his uniform and decorations were painted strengthened the impression
that he had made his career himself and set the highest value on the
insignia that stood for his accomplishment.

Well, I made up characters to fit the portraits, and the time went on.
There were three entrances to the room, through which aides and
orderlies were constantly appearing and disappearing. The room filled up
with people and smelt of oiled leather and smoke. The women did not move
from their chairs, but the men got up and stood about, talking in
groups. I began to feel that I had known these captains and majors and
lieutenants all my life. They looked at me curiously, and if they knew
Mr. Douglas they asked to be presented to me.

"How do you like Russia?"

They spoke French. I looked at Mr. Douglas and smiled.

"Very much."

They were pleased.

"Ah, you do? That is good. Russia is a wonderful country and its
resources are endless. But it is war-time. You should see Russia in
peace-time. There is no country in the world where one amuses one's self
so well as in Russia. But first we must beat the Germans."

They all begin that way, and then branch out into their particular line
of conversation.

There was a woman near me, her mourning veil thrown back, disclosing a
death-like face. Her features were pinched, and her pale lips were
pressed tightly together in suffering. She had been waiting surely three
hours since sending in her card, and all that time she had scarcely
moved. Sometimes I forgot her, and then my eyes would fall on her and I
wondered how I could see anybody else in the room. In comparison to her
all the others seemed fussy or melodramatic or false in some way.
Suffering was condensed in her. It flowed through her body. It settled
in the shadows of her face and clothed her in black. Her gloved hands
pressed each other. Her eyes stared in front of her, full of pain like a
hurt beast's. She sat as though carved in stone, dark against the
window, the lines of her body rigid and clear-cut like a statue's.

At last an aide came toward her, spruce and alert, holding a paper in
his hand. She rose at his approach, leaning on the back of her chair,
her body bent forward tensely. He spoke to her in a low voice,
consulting the slip of paper in his hand. All at once she straightened
herself, and a burning expression came into her face. One hand went to
her heart, exactly as though a bullet had pierced her breast. Then she
gave a sharp cry, and hurling her pocketbook across the room with all
her strength, she rushed outside.

Every one dodged as though the pocketbook had been aimed at him. A young
second lieutenant picked it from the floor and stood twisting it in his
hands, not knowing what to do with it. People looked uneasy and ashamed
as though a door had been suddenly opened on a terrible secret thing
that was customarily locked up in a closet. But the uncomfortable
feeling soon passed, and they began to talk about the strange woman and
to gossip and play and amuse themselves with her sorrow. A crowd
collected about the aide, who grew more and more voluble and important
each time he repeated his explanation of the incident.

Shortly afterward, Mr. Douglas and I were admitted to the Chief of
Staff. The walls of his office were covered with large maps, with tiny
flags marking the battlefronts, and he sat at a large table occupying
the center of the room.

When we entered, he rose and bowed, and after waving me to a chair,
reseated himself. He was rather like a university professor, courteous,
with a slightly ironical twist to his very red lips. His pale face was
narrow and long, with a pointed black beard, and a forehead broad and
high and white. While he listened or talked, he nervously drew
arabesques on a pad of paper on the table.

"I have your petition, but since I have just been appointed here, I am
not very familiar with routine matters." Here he smiled slightly. "Yours
is a routine matter, I should say. How long have you waited for an
answer--four months? We'll see what can be done. I have sent to the
files and I should have a report in a few minutes."

An aide brought in a collection of telegrams and papers, and the chief
glanced through them. Then he looked at me searchingly and suddenly
smiled again.

"From your appearance I should never imagine you were as dangerous as
these papers state. Are you an American?"

"Yes," I replied; "and I assure you that I am dangerous only in the
official mind. I have no importance except what they give me."

"Mrs. Pierce is an American and unused to Russian ways," Mr. Douglas
said apologetically.

"Well, your case has been referred to General Ivanoff, and I will wire
him again at once. If you come back next Thursday I will give you a
definite answer."

We went out. It was a gray winter day, with a cold wind from the river,
but I felt glowing and stimulated and alive, seeing the future
crystallize and grow definite again. You can't imagine the wearing
depression of months of uncertainty.

"That Chief of Staff is the first human official I've met," I said to
Mr. Douglas.

"Give him time, give him time," Douglas replied. "Didn't you hear him
say he was new to the job?"

I write such long letters and all about _things_. But I want you to see
with me so we may share our lives in spite of distance. Armfuls of love
to you, my dearest ones, from

                                   RUTH.


                                   _November._

The Dowager Empress came to Kiev to-day to visit a convent that she has
under her protection. The Christiatick was very animated, with curious
crowds lining the sidewalks and fierce-looking gendarmes who snapped
their whips and made a great fuss about keeping the people in order. The
trams were stopped and officials rushed up and down the Christiatick in
huge gray automobiles. It was bitterly cold, and the waiting people grew
restless. At last a feeble cheer started up the street and swept down
the lines as a big car came tearing down the middle of the street. I
caught a glimpse of an elderly woman in black--that was all.

I went home. All the way up the hill I walked beside a "crocodile." How
pathetic those convent children are in their funny little round hats,
all so much too small, and their maroon-colored dresses with the
shoulder-capes to hide any suggestion of sex. Their noses were pinched
and their lips were blue from waiting in the cold to see their
"protector." They were at the age "between hay and grass,"
narrow-chested, and long-legged like colts. They climbed the hill
stiffly two by two, their eyes looking meekly at the ground. Three
sisters kept them in line.

At home I found a summons from the police to appear with Marie at the
local police bureau to-morrow at nine, to receive our passports. I
telegraphed Peter through Mr. Douglas. Now that our affair is settled, I
feel no emotion--neither relief nor joy.

                                   THE END



 The Riverside Press

 CAMBRIDGE, MASSACHUSETTS
 U. S. A.



TRANSCRIBER'S NOTES


1. Minor changes have been made to correct typesetter's errors and to
make the use of hyphenated words consistent; otherwise, the transcriber
has made a diligent effort to be true to the original text.

2. For ease of navigation, the transcriber has added a Table of Contents
that did not appear in the original book.





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