'Behind the Russian Retreat'
by American reporter John Reed
from his book 'the War in Eastern Europe', 1916

Hither and Yon on the Eastern Front

in a town in Russian-Poland
see also by John Reed : An American Journalist in Serbia


Russia's Back Door

At the end of May (1915) the Russian army, to the astonishment of the world, had covered more than two hundred miles on its stupendous retreat from the Carpathians. In Bucovina it abandoned Czernowitz before the formidable Austrian drive, and withdrew behind the River Pruth. We decided to cross the frontier where Rumanian Moldavia, Austrian Bucovina, and Russian Bessarabia meet at the bend of the river, and try to strike the Russian front in action.

From Dorohoi, the northern terminus of the Rumanian railway, it is twenty miles over the hills to the frontier. We bargained for a four-horse coach; but the chief of police of Dorohoi smiled and shook his head.

"You cannot pass the frontier without permission from the high authorities," he said; the Rumanian custom-house is closed." He looked us over thoughtfully. "However, I am going across to Russia myself to-night, and you can come with me in my automobile if you like. I will introduce you to the commandant of Novo Sielitza, which is the headquarters of the Third Army. He is a close friend of mine—I often visit him. The Russians are hospitable people. By the way, they will be grateful to you over there if you bring a little something alcoholic------"

Joyously we sallied forth and bought cognac and dismissed our coach. And just as gray evening flooded the world after a day of rain, and the clouds rolled back like curtains, piling up to golden pinnacles in a shallow green sky, our machine roared out from the dripping forest of Hertza, and we could see beyond the white walls and thatched-roofs of a little village the rolling miles of hills, emerald with wheat glittering wetly, black with forests, smoking with the sweat of fat earth after rain; and farther still, to the left, the rolling green and gold and brown country of Bucovina—to the right, the plain beyond the Pruth, low hills and higher hills behind—Russian Bessarabia. On the Austrian side, far away, were visible white winding roads, dazzling villas set in green, an occasional shining town—order and prosperity; on the Russian side, the wet tin roofs of a clump of wooden shacks, thatched huts the color of dirt, a wandering muddy track which served as a road—the very reverse. In all the vast landscape nothing moved, except a mysterious black smoke slowly rising from behind the hill, which is Czernowitz, and steam from a whistling train at Novo Sielitza. But the air trembled with deep, lazy sound— the cannon firing somewhere beyond vision along the Pruth.

Just ahead the river itself came in view between hills, here and there, shining dully like old brass. We swooped down with screaming siren through the village of Hertza, where the peasants, clad in white linen all embroidered with flowers, were gathered on the green for their evening songs and dances and lifted their broad-brimmed hats to us — down, through vineyards and corn-fields, to Mamornitza on the bank of the muddy river.

Over all the west the sunset made a fierce flame, edging the toppling clouds with fire, pouring green gold over the fields. The radiance faded; by the time we reached the river-side it was quite dark, except for a broad red band low down in the northern sky. Against this reared a tumble-down shed set in a barren waste of sand, stones, and mud—where the Pruth roared in the spring floods. But it was Russia, Holy Russia— sombre, magnificent, immense, incoherent, unknown even to herself.

They had been notified at the deserted custom-house, and in a room musty with long neglect a shabby little man viseed our passports. Escorted by two soldiers, we picked our way down to the river, where a flat-bottomed scow lay half full of water, and a rope fastened to the bank stretched out into the darkness—to Russia! We couldn't see the other side, but as we swung out into the brown current, the Rumanian shore glided astern and disappeared; for a moment we were adrift on a boundless sea, and then against the dim, red sky something rose and loomed—a giant soldier with a long- bayoneted rifle, the crown of his hat peaked up in front as only Russians wear it. Beside him was the shadowy form of a two-horse carriage.

Without a word the sentry put our baggage into the carriage and we followed. He leaped to the box—we were off through deep sand, whip cracking. A sudden guttural hail from the dark, and another huge soldier bulked in the night beside the carriage. Our sentry handed him a slip of paper, which he pretended to read, holding it upside down— although it was now quite dark and he quite illiterate.

"Koracho! Good!'* he grunted and waved us on. "PaiaVst'i."

The last red light had faded from the sky, and we rattled through a starless gloom troubled with the confused sounds of an army at rest. Far away on our right accordions jiggled flatly, and a mighty chorus of deep voices swelled in a slow, stern song:

To the left suddenly opened a meadow bright with many fires. Horses were picketed all about—in one corner two stallions strained, screaming, at their ropes. High saddles, sleeping-rugs of rich color, brass samovars lay on the ground, and on the flames copper pots smoked. In little knots at the fires, flat-faced, swarthy men squatted, Eastern fashion, between their kness—men with Chinese eyes and cheek-bones polished like teak, robed in long caftans and crowned with towering shaggy hats of fur. The twanging, indolent sound of their speech reached us. One stood upright in the firelight, which gleamed on the silver bosses of his belt and the long curved yataghan inlaid with gold that hung by his side.

"Turkmiene" explained the soldier on the box.

Turcomans from beyond the Caspian, from the steppes of Asia—the boiling geyser that deluged Europe with the great Mongolian invasions—the mysterious cradle of humankind. The fathers of these warriors followed Ghenghis Khan and Tamerlane and Attila. Their cousins were Sultans in Constantinople, and sat upon the Dragon Throne in Peking. One glimpse we had of them, a tiny handful in the mighty hordes that Russia is pouring down on the West—and then we were among the ruins of Austrian Novo Sielitza, the old frontier.

Here the gaping windows of roofless houses, walls charred and toppling, immense customs warehouses crumpled with fire. The Russians had wrecked everything at the beginning of the war—what became of the people we didn't like to think. A big stucco hotel had been struck by a bursting shell; light shone from within, and big-booted soldiers in blouses stood silhouetted in the doorways. The road we drove on was white and smooth. Shadowy horsemen jingled past, stray light catching the guardless hilts of Cossack swords. Gleaming white linen in the gloom marked Moldavian peasants shuffling along, laughing and speaking gently their Italianate dialect.

A bridge with another sentry, who waved us by when he saw the flash of white paper— now we were in Russian Novo Sielitza. Here there was no destruction; but instead of a hard road, we rocked through a wide expanse of muddy pools and dried ruts, scored with a thousand tracks. At each side of this street was a deep ditch for drainage and sewage, spanned by wooden foot-bridges. Wide, sprawling wooden houses alternated with blocks of tiny Jewish shops, swarming with squealing, whining, bargaining people, and emitting that stale stench that we know on New York's lower East Side. Old Jews in long overcoats, derby hats resting on their ears, scraggly beards, elbows and hands gesticulating — the comedy Jew in a burlesque show—filthy babies crawling in the lamplight, rows of women in Mother Hubbards and brown wigs, nursing their babies and gossiping shrill Yiddish on the door-step.

We swung into a side street, black as pitch, lined on either side by long wooden houses behind picket fences.

"He we are," said our guide. "Now you will see a real Russian house and family."

The door popped open and a stout, bearded officer stood on the threshold holding a lamp over his head—Captain Vladimir Constantinovitch Madji, commandant of Novo Sielitza. Behind was a bristling bald-headed man with fierce white mustache and goatee, and over his shoulder appeared a grinning face like the face of a very fat little boy, smoking a cigarette, a white silk kerchief wound tightly around its forehead.

"Please! Please! Povtim!" said the captain in Rumanian, making gestures of welcome. "PajaTstf!" cried the others in Russian.

The chief of police explained that he had brought two friends, Amerikanska; they burst forth into another delighted chorus of "Povtim!

Pajalasf!" and pushed out to look at us, talking rapid Russian.

"They speak neither Russian nor Rumanian. Only French------"

"Entrez!" said the captain, with an elementary accent; then in just as amateurish German: "Kommen Sie herein, meine Herren!"

"Voila ! Comment! Comment I Voila I" the bald-headed man roared.

"It is all my brother knows of French!" explained Madji, as we entered. The fat face turned out to belong to a girl of astonishing corpulence and terrific exuberance. Puffing furiously at her cigarette, she squeezed both our hands, grasped the lapels of our coats and shook us, shouting Russian remarks, and laughing uproariously when we didn't understand.

The captain radiated hospitality. "Alexandra Alexandrovna, get the samovar!"

She ran off, bellowing orders to invisible servants. "Antonina Feodorovna! Prinissitie samovarou!" And in a moment she was back with a new yellow kerchief around her head, a new cigarette, puffing clouds of smoke.

Madji indicated her with his hand. "Mon mari! My husband!" he said in his bad French.

His brother pranced up like a little old stallion, also pointing to her; he repeated "My husband!" adding in a fierce voice: "Tres jolie! Tres, jolie! Tres jolie!" He said "tres jolie" over and over again, delighted at remembering another French phrase.

As to the fat girl, we never did discover whose "husband" she was. . . . And there was also Alexandra Antonovna, a solemn little girl of about thirteen with the sophisticated eyes of a grown woman, like all Russian little girls; her status in the household remained a mystery, too. Anyway, it wasn't of the least importance, for this was Russia, where such things don't matter.

In the dining-room we began by drinking glass after glass of tea. Boxes of cigarettes overflowed on the table. At one end sat Alexandra Alexandrovna, lighting one cigarette from another, shaking with laughter and shouting at anybody and everybody. At the other end was the old man, beaming upon us and crying: "Voila! Comment! Tres jolie!" Antonina the servant shuffled in and out, taking part in the general conversation, arguing every order, bringing fresh water for the samovar—on terms of perfect equality.

Robinson explained to the old man that he looked exactly like Gogol's Cossack hero, Taras Bulba. He was delighted. And from that time on we never addressed him except as "General Taras Bulba."

From time to time other officers dropped in —men in belted Russian blouses buttoned up the neck, their hair cropped close. They kissed Alexandra's hand, and made the rounds of "the table, murmuring their names. Most of them spoke some French or German, and all were astonishingly frank about the situation.

"Yes, we are falling back like the devil. It is mostly because we lack munitions; but there are other things. Graft—disorganization------"

A lieutenant broke in: "Do you know the story about Colonel B------? He had a bad record in the Japanese War, but when this one broke out he was appointed chief of staff to General Ivanov. It was he who forced the beginning of the retreat from the Carpathians; when Ivanov was absent he ordered the retreat of an entire army corps— exposing the flank of the next army. There wasn't any reason for it. People say he is insane. However, the thing was hushed up, and he became chief of staff to General Dimitriev and did the same thing over again! You'd think that would finish him? Ah, no! He had powerful friends in Petrograd—and now he is chief of staff to another general!"

Said another calmly: "It is like that. Advance, retreat. Advance, retreat. If we retreat now — why, then, we shall advance again."

"But how long will the war last?" "What do we care how long it lasts?" remarked a second captain with a grin: "What do we care—so long as England gives money and the earth gives men?"

At about ten o'clock Alexandra suddenly decided to dine. She and Antonina set the table, while Taras Bulba bustled about, giving contradictory orders. For zakouska there were plates of sardines, smoked and raw herrings, tunny, caviar, sausage, shirred eggs, and pickles — to sharpen the appetite — washed down with seven different kinds of liquor: cognac, benedictine, kiimmel, raspberry and plum brandies, and Kiev and Bessarabian wines. Afterward came great platters of corn-meal polenta, then chunks of pork and potatoes. We were twelve. The company began dinner with wine-glasses full of cognac followed by the others in rotation, and finished with several cups of Turkish coffee and the seven different liquors all over again. Then the samovar was brought, and we settled down to the eternal chai. It was midnight.

"Ah," cried an officer, "if we only had vodka now!"

"Is it really forbidden in Russia?" "Except in the first-class restaurants of the big cities— Kiev, Odessa, Moscow. You can also get foreign drinks. But they are very expensive. You see, the object of the ukase was to keep alcohol from the lower classes; the rich can still get it.”

A young fellow named Amethystov, lieutenant in a Crimean Tartar regiment, asked us if we had heard the story of the Bismarck Denkmal.

"It was during the retreat from East Prussia, after Tannenberg," he said, a gentle smile lighting his blank, fanatical face, "and my regiment was at Johannisberg, where there was a bronze statue of Bismarck about twelve feet tall—like hundreds all over Germany. My Tartars wanted to pull it down and take it with them as a trophy, but the general absolutely refused to allow it. 'It would cause an international incident,’ said he. As if the war weren't enough of an international incident! Well, so we stole it—pulled it down at night, stood it upright in a field furnace, and covered it over with a tarpaulin. But we couldn't hide the great bronze feet sticking out at the bottom. We got it as far as Tilsit— and one day the general came riding along the line, and saw the feet!

"'Who took that thing?' he shouts. Oh, how mad he was! 'In the morning I'll find out the guilty ones, if I have to court-martial the entire regiment! It must be abandoned here—do you understand me?'

"Of course, he had a right to be angry, because we were using four army horses to pull the thing, and we'd had to abandon a lot of baggage because transport was lacking.

"So that night we took Bismarck out of his cart and set him up in a field, and had a farewell celebration around him. I remember we made speeches and broke champagne bottles on him. And next day, lo and behold, he was gone—stolen by a Siberian infantry regiment. Who knows where he is now?" he mused. "Perhaps retreating across Galicia with the Siberians."

At the other end of the table a captain of Atamanski Cossacks, his narrow eyes glowing, was saying: "You have seen the hiltless Cossack sword?" He showed us his own. "It is terrible in their hands! They slash with a sidelong stroke—whiz! It cuts a man in half! Beautiful! But they love to kill. When prisoners surrender to them, they say always to their colonel: 'Aga! Let us cut them! It will disgrace us to bring back babies as prisoners!'"

We tried to explain our purpose in coming, but the captain always interrupted with an expansive smile: -

"You shall go where you please, my friends. To-morrow we will arrange all that. Now eat and drink, eat and drink------"

Alexandra Alexandrovna screamed pleasantries from a cloud of smoke:

"It's not polite when you come to visit friends, to talk of going away!"

"Tres joliel" bellowed Taras Bulba. "You shall not leave here until you have taught me to speak French, German, Spanish, Italian, and Chinese! I have a passion for languages--- ---"

It was now one o'clock in the morning; we were worn out.

"Voyonsl" expostulated Madji. "To sleep is a ridiculous way to pass the night."

Breaking into Bucovina

Early the next morning we came out of our lodgings to the shrill sound of Yiddish blessings and reproaches mixed, and found the Jew smirking and rubbing his hands.

"Where's the carriage?" I asked, suspecting further extortion. The Jew pointed to a temporary scaffolding such as is used for digging artesian wells, upon which sat an incredibly discouraged-looking mujik. On closer inspection we discovered wheels, fastened to arbitrary places with bits of wire and rope; and apparently unattached to the structure, two aged and disillusioned horses leaned against each other.

"B-r-r-r-r-r-r!" said the mujik to these animals, implying that they would run away if he didn't. "B-r-r-r-r!"

We mounted, while the Jew abusively impressed upon his driver that we were to be taken to Zalezchik, through Boyan and Zastevna; he also told him to get whatever money he could out of us. At the end of this tirade, the peasant rose and stolidly beat the horses with a long string fastened to a stick, shouting hoarsely: "Ugh! Eeagh! Aughl" The horses awoke, sighed, and moved experimentally—by some mechanical miracle the wheels turned, a shudder ran along our keel, and we were off!

Across the bridge into Austrian Novo Sielitza we rattled, and out upon the hard road that led frontward, slowly gaining upon and passing a long train of ox-carts driven by soldiers and loaded with cases of ammunition. Now we were in Bucovina. On the left, low fields green with young crops stretched flatly to the trees along the Pruth, beyond which rose the rich hills of Rumania; to the right the valley extended miles to cultivated rolling country. Already the June sun poured down windless, moist heat. The driver slumped gradually into his spine, the horses' pace diminished to a merely arithmetical progression, and we crawled in a baking pall of dust like Zeus hidden in his cloud.

"Hey!" We beat upon his back. "Shake a leg, Dave!"

He turned upon us a dirty, snub-nosed face, and eyes peering through matted hair, and his mouth cracked slowly in an appalling, familiar grin—with the intelligent expression of a loaf of bread. We christened him immediately Ivan the Horrible

"Ooch!" he cried with simulated ferocity, waving the string. "Aich! Augh!"

The horses pretended to be impressed, and broke into a shuffle; but ten minutes later Ivan was again rapt in contemplation of the infinite, the horses almost stationary, and we moved in white dust.

Slowly we drew near the leisurely sound of the cannon, that defined itself sharply out of the all-echoing thunder audible at Novo Sielitza. And topping a steep hill crowned with a straggling thatched village, we came in sight of the batteries. They lay on the hither side of an immense rolling hill, where a red gash in the fields dribbled along for miles. At intervals of half a minute a gun spat heavily, but you could see neither smoke nor flame—only minute figures running about, stiffening, and again springing to life. A twanging drone as the shell soared—and then on the leafy hills across the river puffs of smoke unfolding. Over there were the towers of white Czernowitz, dazzling in the sun. The village through which we passed was populous with great brown soldiers, who eyed us sullenly and suspiciously. Over a gateway hung a Red Cross flag, and along the road trickled a thin, steady stream of wounded—some leaning on their comrades, others bandaged around the head, or with their arms in slings; and peasant carts jolted by with faintly groaning heaps of arms and legs.

The road slanted down until we were close to the crashing batteries. For hours we drove along behind a desultory but gigantic artillery battle. Gun after gun after gun, each in its raw pit, covered with brush to shield it from aeroplanes. Sweating men staggered under the weight of shells, moving about the shining caissons; methodically the breech snapped home and the pointer sing-songed his range; a firer jerked the lanyard — furious haze belched out, gun recoiled, shell screamed— miles and miles of great cannon in lordly syncopation.

In the very field of the artillery peasants were calmly ploughing with oxen, and in front of the roaring guns a boy in white linen drove cattle over the hill toward the pastures along the river. We met long-haired farmers, with orange poppies in their hats, unconcernedly driving to town. Eastward the world rolled up in another slow hill that bore curved fields of young wheat, running in great waves before the wind. Its crest was torn and scarred with mighty excavations, where multitudinous tiny men swarmed over new trenches and barbed-wire tangles. This was the second-line position preparing for a retreat that was sure to come.

We swung northward, away from the artillery, over the bald shoulder of a powerful hill. Here the earth mounted in magnificent waves, patterned with narrow green, brown, and yellow fields that shimmered under the wind. Through valleys whose sides fell like a bird's swoop were vistas of checkered slopes and copses soft with distance. Far to the west the faint blue crinkly line of the Carpathians marched across the horizon. Tree- smothered villages huddled in the immense folds of the land—villages of clay houses unevenly and beautifully moulded by hand, painted spotless white with a bright blue stripe around the bottom, and elaborately thatched. Many were deserted, smashed, and black with fire—especially those where Jews had lived. They bore marks of wanton pillage—for there had been no battle here—doors beaten in, windows torn out, and lying all about the wreckage of mean furniture, rent clothing. Since the beginning of the war the Austrians had not come here. It was Russian work.

Peasants smiling their soft, friendly smile took off their hats as we went by. A gaunt man with a thin baby in his arms ran forward and kissed my hand when I gave him a piece of chocolate. Along the roadside stood hoary stone crosses inscribed with sacred verses in the old Slavonic, before which the peasants uncovered and crossed themselves devoutly. And there were rude wooden crosses, as in Mexico, to mark the spots where men had been assassinated.

In a high meadow overlooking the distant river and the far-rolling plains of Bucovina we came upon a camp of Turcomans—their saddled horses staked to graze and their fires burning. Cruel-faced and slant-eyed, they squatted about the cook-pots or moved among the horses, barbaric notes of color in this green northern field, where, perhaps, their ancestors had camped with Attila a thousand years ago.

Beyond the river cousins of theirs lay in the enemy's trenches—beyond the ethereal mountains in the west was Hungary, the rich land where the scourges of God from Asia had finally come to rest. Where the road dipped again into the valley was an old stone chapel, circular in form and surrounded by a graceful colonnade. It was now gutted, and the horses of Turcoman officers were stabled inside.

At any cross-roads we always knew the right road to take, because Ivan invariably took the other. Although born and bred at Novo Sielitza, fifteen miles away, he had never travelled so far abroad. Worse, his porous memory could no longer hold the name of our destination, no matter how often he repeated it. Every little while he turned and peered at us, groaning. "Zalezchik!" we shouted in chorus, and he fell to larruping the horses with uncouth cries. He pulled up sometimes, until we pointed to a native and made signs for him to ask the way.

"Good day," mumbled Ivan. "Which is the road to------"

"The road to where, friend?" asked the man.

Ivan scratched his head.

"Where do you want to go?"

Ivan grinned sheepishly.

"Zalezchik!" we bawled—and Ivan repeated —"Ah, yes, Zalezchik!"

At noon, we zigzagged up a steep mountain into a pine forest, and met a long train of trucks coming down, loaded with the steel floats of a pontoon bridge. Big Don Cossacks on wiry ponies escorted it, their hair-tufts sticking rakishly out under their caps.

"Aie, Barin!" shouted one of the drivers, pointing southwest. "Eto Pruth? Is that the Pruth?"

I nodded.

"Two days!" he cried, patting his pontoon. "Two days we cross the river. Czernowitz!"

Still they passed, clanging along the top of the mountain. We plunged down through the forest, meeting the great wagons crawling up with shouts and snapping whips. Steeper and steeper; the trees thinned, and suddenly fell away altogether, and the tremendous panorama of the valley of the Dniester opened out— squares and parallelograms and arcs of variegated color clashing and weaving in a mighty tapestry of fertile fields, great rounded folds of earth, sweeping grandly like the ground swell, rambling white granges ship-like along the ribbony roads, and villages lost in the hollows. The pontoon-trucks staggered up, drawn each by eight horses and twenty soldiers who pushed, shouting in unison—for a mile down the hill the road was filled with lumbering big floats rocking from side to side, straining horses flecked with white foam, broad-shouldered men curbed with an agony of effort.

Now we were entering a new land. Though the peasants still wore white linen, their headdress changed; some wore tall round caps of black fur, others high, bell-crowned hats such as Welsh women used to wear. The Slavonic crosses gave way to tall Catholic crucifixes, decked with all the instruments of the Passion —the spear, the sponge, the gloves, the hammer. We met people who spoke no Rumanian—Polish began to replace it. Granges where whole patriarchal families had lived stood along the road—immense houses containing living-rooms, stables, barns all under one roof, with a road running through the middle of the building from front to back. It was a blasted country, seared with battle, and with the triple passing of two great armies. The trampled grain was sickly yellow in the fields; whole villages in ruins gaped empty, except for Russian soldiers, and few men were to be seen except the aged and crippled — only women and children, with furtive eyes and sunken faces. In the fields among the growing crops old trenches crumbled in, and rusty barbed-wire entanglements straggled through the wheat everywhere. For miles along the left side of the road gigantic new trenches and artillery positions were building in frantic haste. Thousands of soldiers swarmed over the landscape, the afternoon sun flashing on their lifted spades. Wagons loaded with tools and barbed wire impeded the road. Near Zastevna, we saw peasant women and children digging under the superintendence of non-commissioned officers, a long file of them carrying out the dirt in head baskets. Why this feverish activity here, twenty miles behind the positions occupied by the Russians only a month before?


Zalezchik the Terrible

It was on the other side of Zastevna, where we stopped beside some ruined houses for a drink, that we saw the Austrian prisoners. They came limping along the road in the hot sun, about thirty of them, escorted by two Don Cossacks on horseback; gray uniforms white with dust, bristly faces drawn with fatigue. One man had the upper left-hand part of his face bound up, and the blood had soaked through; another's hand was bandaged, and some jerked along on improvised crutches. At a sign from the Cossacks, who dismounted, they reeled and stumbled to the side of the road, and sullenly threw themselves down in the shade. Two dark-faced men snarled at each other like beasts. The man with the wounded head groaned. He with the bandaged hand began tremblingly to unwrap the gauze. The Cossacks goodnaturedly waved us permission to talk with them, and we went over with handfuls of cigarettes. They snatched at them with the avidity of smokers long deprived of tobacco— all except one haughty-faced youth, who produced a handsome case crammed with gold-tipped cigarettes, declined ours frigidly, and took one of his own, without offering any to the others.

"He is a Count," explained a simple, peasant-faced boy with awe.

The man with the wounded hand had got his bandage off at last, and was staring at his bloody palm with a sort of fascination.

"I think this had better be dressed again," said he at last, glancing diffidently at a stout, sulky-looking person who wore a Red Cross arm-band. The latter looked across with lazy contempt and shrugged his shoulders.

"We've got some bandages," I began, producing one. But one of the Cossacks came over, scowling and shaking his head at me. He kicked the Red Cross man with a look of disgust, and pointed to the other. Muttering something, the stout man fumbled angrily in his case, jerked out a bandage, and slouched across.

There were thirty of them, and among that thirty-five races were represented: Tcheks, Croats, Magyars, Poles, and Austrians. One Croat, two Magyars, three Tcheks could speak absolutely not a word of any language but their own, and, of course, none of the Austrians knew a single a word of Bohemian, Croatian, Hungarian, or Polish. Among the Austrians were Tyroleans, Viennese, and a half-Italian from Pola. The Croats hated the Magyars, and the Magyars hated the Austrians—and as for the Tcheks, no one would speak to them. Besides, they were all divided up into sharply defined social grades, each of which snubbed its inferiors. ... As a sample of Franz Joseph's army the group was most illuminating.

They had been taken in a night attack along the Pruth, and marched more than twenty miles in two days. But they were all enthusiastic in praise of their Cossack guards.

"They are very considerate and kind," said one man. "When we stop for the night the Cossacks personally go around to each man, and see that he is comfortable. And they let us rest often."

"The Cossacks are fine soldiers," another broke in; "I have fought with them, and they are very brave. I wish we had cavalry like them!"

A young volunteer of the polish legion asked eagerly if Rumania was Coming in. We replied that it seemed like it, and suddenly he burst out, quivering:

"My God! My God! What can we do? How long can this awful war last! All we want is peace and quiet and rest! We are beaten—we are honorably beaten. England, France, Russia, Italy, the whole world is against us. We can lay down our arms with honor now! Why should this useless butchery go on?"

And the rest sat there, gloomily listening to him, without a word.

Toward evening we were rattling down a steep gully between high cliffs. A stream plunged down beside the road, turning a hundred water-wheels whose mills lay shattered by artillery fire; shacks in partial ruin shouldered each other along the gully, and on top of the eastern cliff we could see disembowelled trenches and an inferno of twisted, snarled barbed wire, where the Russians had bombarded and stormed the Austrian defenses a month before. Hundreds of men were at work up there clearing away the wreckage and building new works. We rounded a corner suddenly and came out upon the bank of the Dniester, just below where the tall railroad bridge plunged into the water its tangle of dynamited girders and cables. Here the river made a huge bend, beneath earthen cliffs a hundred feet high, and across a pontoon bridge choked with artillery the once lovely town of Zalezchik lay bowered in trees. As we crossed, naked Cossacks were swimming their horses in the current, shouting and splashing, their powerful white bodies drenched with golden light

Zalezchik had been captured, burned, and looted three times by two armies, shelled for fifteen days, and the major portion of its population wiped out by both sides because it had given aid and comfort to the enemy. Night was falling when we drove into the marketplace, surrounded with the shocking debris of tall houses. A sort of feeble market was going on there under miserable tilted shacks, where sad-eyed peasant women spread their scanty vegetables and loaves of bread, the centre of a mob of soldiers. A few Jews slunk about the corners. Ivan demanded a hotel, but the man smiled and pointed to a tall crumbling brick wall with "Grand Hotel" painted boldly across it—all that remained. Where could we get something to eat?

"Something to eat? There is not enough food in this town to feed my wife and children."

An atmosphere of terror hung over the place—we could feel it in the air. It was in the crouching figures of the Jews, stealing furtively along the tottering walls; in the peasants as they got out of the way of our carriage, doffing their hats; in the faces of cringing children, as soldiers went by. It got dark, and we sat in the carriage, debating what to do.

An "Apteka"—apothecary shop—stood on the corner, comparatively undamaged, with a light inside. I found the druggist alone, a Jew who spoke German.

"What are you?" he asked suspiciously, peering at me. "An American."

"There is no hotel here," he burst out suddenly. "There is no place to stay and nothing to eat. A month ago the Russians came in here—they slaughtered the Jews, and drove the women and children out there." He pointed west. "There is no place here.”

"Then," I said, "the military commandant must take care of us. Where can I find him?"

"I will send my assistant with you," he answered. His face stiffened with fear. "You will not say to them what I have told, noble Herri You will not------"

The entry of two Russian soldiers interrupted him, and he rose, addressing me insolently for their benefit:

"I can't drive you out of the shop. It's a public shop. But remember, I assume no responsibility for you. I didn't ask you to come here. I don't know you." For, after all, we might be undesirable people.

We bestowed upon Ivan a two-rouble piece, which, after biting, he put away in his pocket with hoarse sounds betokening gratitude. And we left him sitting on his vehicle in the middle of the square, gazing at nothing. When we came out of the Apteka he was still there, hunched over in the same position, and an hour later, when we issued from the colonel's headquarters, he had not moved, though it was quite dark. What was passing in that swampy mind? Perhaps he was trying to remember the name of Novo Sielitza, his home—perhaps he was merely wondering how to get there.

We sat long over dinner with the genial colonel and his staff, chattering politics and gossip in intensely fragmentary German. Among other officers were a young Finnish lieutenant and an old Cossack major with a wrinkled Mongolian face like the pictures of Li Hung Chang, who were very much excited over the sinking of the Lusitania, and sure that America would go to war.

"What can we do for you?" asked the colonel.

We said that we would like to visit this part of the front, if there were any fighting going on.

"That, I am afraid, is impossible from here," he regretted. "But if you will go to Tarnopol, the general commanding this army will surely give you permission. Then you must return here, and I shall be glad to accompany you myself. A train for Tarnopol leaves to-night at eleven."

Could he give us any idea what was happening along the front?

"With pleasure," said he eagerly, telling an orderly to bring the maps. He spread them out on the table. "Now here, near Zadagora, we have ten big guns placed in these positions, to stop the Austrian flanking column that is rolling up from the Pruth. Over here, near Kaluz, the Austrians imagine that we have nothing but cavalry, but in about three days we'll throw three regiments across this little stream at this point------"

I remarked that all those maps seemed to be German or Austrian maps.

"Oh, yes," he replied. "At the beginning of the war we had no maps at all of Bucovina or Galicia. We didn't even know the lay of the land until we had captured some."


Behind the Russian Retreat

In the morning we woke stiff and cramped from the benches of our third-class car, and looked out the window upon the boundless Galician steppe, heavy with golden wheat and with ploughed land deeper than velvet; ten-mile planes of flat earth uptilted gently against horizons where giant windmills rode hull down, like ships at sea. We had made thirty miles in nine hours.

The train whistled triumphantly down long inclines, and panted up slopes where the mounting track was visible for miles and miles. Our car was full of officers making the cheerful hubbub that Russians always make together. And from the ten freight-cars full of troops behind came nasal accordion music, the slow roar of big voices singing, shouts and cheers. At little stations where the flat-faced, sombrely dressed Polish peasants and their bright-kerchiefed, broad-hipped women stared stolidly at the train, hundreds of soldiers and officers with teapots jostled each other democratically around the kipiatok—the huge tank of boiling water you find at every Russian railway-station— and there was incessant tea. An officer of high rank, who had an orderly, set up a small brass samovar in the next compartment to ours.

From a strap over his shoulder hung a gold-hilted Cossack sword, the gift of the Czar for bravery—it bore also the tassel of the Order of Vladimir. The orderly, probably a mujik from one of his estates, called him familiarly "Ivan Ivanovitch." Presently he came over with true Russian hospitality, and invited us in French to drink a glass of chai. We got to talking about the war.

"Nevertheless, it is impossible to beat Russia," said he.

I objected that Russia had been beaten many times.

"You mean the Japanese War. I served in Manchuria myself, and I think I can tell you why we were beaten. In the first place the peasants knew nothing of the causes of the war, and no one took the trouble to tell them. They had never heard of the Japanese. 'We are not angry with the Japanese, whoever they may be,' said-the mujiks. 'Why should we fight them?'

"And then everything was horribly mismanaged. I have seen troops, worn out and half starved by a forty days' railway journey on insufficient food, detrained and sent into battle without an hour's rest. And there was the vodka, too, which we haven't got to reckon with to-day. Before the battle of Mukden I saw whole regiments lying in a drunken sleep on the ground. It was an unpopular war—there was no patriotism among the peasants."

"And is there patriotism now?"

"Yes, they are very patriotic—they hate the Germans. You see, most of the agricultural machinery comes from Germany, and this machinery does the work of many men, driving the peasants into the factories at Petrograd and Moscow and Riga and Odessa. Then the Germans flood Russia with cheap goods which undersell Russian products— which causes our factories to shut down and throws thousands out of work. In the Baltic provinces, too, German landlords own all the soil, and the peasants live miserably. Wherever in Russia they have no feeling against the Germans, we tell them these things. Oh, yes, this time the Russians know why they are fighting!"

"So the peasants think that by beating the Germans they will get rid of poverty and oppression?"

He nodded good-humoredly. Robinson and I both had the same thought: if the peasants were going to beat any one, why didn't they begin at home? Afterward we discovered that they were beginning at home.

Late in the morning we stopped within sight of the towers of Tarnopol, alongside a huge hospital-train which was marked with the imperial arms and bore the legend: "Sanitary Train, Gift of the Imperatrice Alexandra Feodorovna."

"Come on," said our friend, ordering his baggage .out. "We had better change trains. Ours will probably stay here until afternoon."

We swung aboard the hospital-train just as it left, and found ourselves in a little car divided into two compartments by a rough board partition. Wooden bunks were folded up against the sides; in one corner was a stove covered with dirty pots and pans; trunks, a tin washbasin on a box fastened to the wall, and clothes suspended from nails, gave it the look of a ship's forecastle.

In one compartment sat two middle-aged minor officers, and in the other a stout, comfortable-looking woman and a young girl. The two men and the women were smoking cigarettes, and throwing the butts on the maculate floor; steaming glasses of tea littered the tables; the windows were closed.

The girl spoke German and a little French; the woman was her mother, the grizzled sanitary lieutenant her father, and the second captain of engineers her uncle. Since the beginning of the war ten months ago they had been living in this car, travelling from Vilna and Kiev to the front, and back again with the wounded.

“My mother wouldn't let my father go to the war without her, and she made so much fuss that he took us both. And my uncle's father-in-law is a Collegiate Assessor and a Judge in the government of Minsk, so he managed to get us this car to live in."

"Have you seen any fighting?"

"Twice," she answered. "Near Warsaw last winter a German shell struck one of our cars and blew it to pieces—there we were under artillery fire all day. And only last week, beyond Kalusz, the whole train was captured by Austrians. But they let us go again. We're bound for Vilna now with a load of wounded. In two days we'll be back there."

Tea and cigarettes were forthcoming, with the customary large-hearted Russian hospitality, and we sat around while they told us of the pleasures of a perpetual travelling vacation—for all the world like their ancestors, the nomadic Russian tribes.

Tarnopol station was a place of vast confusion. From a long military train poured running soldiers with tin teapots to the kipiatoh, hurtling a column of infantry that was marching across to another train. Officers shouted and cursed, beating with the flat of their swords. Engines whistled hysterically, bugles blared—calling the men back to their cars. Some hesitated and stopped, undecided whether to go forward or back; others ran faster. Around the hot-water tanks was a boiling, yelling mob. Clouds of steam rose from the pouring faucets. Hundreds of peasant refugees—Poles, Moldavians, and Hungarians — squatted along the platform waiting stolid and bewildered among their bundles and rolls of bedding; for as they retreated the Russians were clearing the country of every living thing and destroying houses and crops. The station-master waved futile hands in the centre of a bawling crowd of officers and civilians, all flourishing passes and demanding when their various trains departed.

An armed sentry at the door tried to stop us, but we pushed by. He made a half-motion with his rifle, took a step and paused irresolutely, bellowing something about passes— and we went on. A hundred spies could have entered Tarnopol.

"Na Stap!" we cried to the cabby: "To the Staff! Along the railroad yards on each side were mountains of sacks and boxes higher than the houses. Tarnopol was a city of solid Polish architecture, with occasional big modern German buildings, and sudden vistas of narrow busy streets lined with hundreds of shops, all painted with signs picturing the goods sold within; streets swarming with Jews in long black coats and curly brimmed black hats. Here they looked better off and less servile than in Novo Sielitza. As everywhere in Galicia and Poland, there was a smell of combined "kosher," boot-leather, and what we call "Polak"; it filled the air, tainted the food we ate, and impregnated our very bedclothes.

Half-way down the street we met a column of soldiers marching four abreast toward the railway station, bound for the front. Less than a third had rifles.

They came tramping along with the heavy, rolling pace of booted peasants, heads up, arms swinging—bearded giants of men with dull, brick-red hands and faces, dirty-brown belted blouses, blanket-rolls over their shoulders, in-trenching-tools at their belts, and great wooden spoons stuck in their boot-tops. The earth shook under their tread. Row after row of strong, blank, incurious faces set westward toward unknown battles, for reasons incomprehensible to them. And as they marched, they sang —a plain chant as simple and tremendous as a Hebrew psalm. A lieutenant at the head of the column sang one bar, the first sergeant took him up—and then like a dammed-up river burst the deep easy voice of three thousand men, flung out from great chests in a rising sudden swell of sound, like organs thundering:

"For the last time I walk with you my friends— For the last time!

And to-morrow, early in the morning, Will weep my mother and my brethren, For I am going away to the war! And also will weep my sweetheart, Whom I have loved for many, many years. She whom I hoped one day to go with to the church. I swear that I will love her until I die!"

They passed, and the roaring slow chorus rose and fell crashing fainter and fainter. Now we rode between interminable hospitals, where haggard, white-draped figures leaned listlessly from the windows, bleached yellow from long confinement. Soldiers crowded the streets— wounded men on crutches, old Landwehr veterans, regulars, and boys who couldn't have been more than seventeen. There were three soldiers to every civilian; though that may have been partly due to the fact that many Jews had been "expelled" when the Russians entered the town—a dark and bloody mystery that. On each corner stood an armed sentry, scrutinizing the passers-by with the menacing look of a suspicious peasant. As we drove by in our Stetson hats, knickerbockers and puttees—never before seen in that country of universal boots—they stared open- mouthed. You could read on their faces the painfully born doubt about us—but by that time we were blocks away.

"Stowi!" growled the guard before Staff headquarters, lowering his bayonet. "Stopt Shto takoi?"

We wanted an officer who could speak French or German.

"Are you Niemetski?" he asked, using the old peasant word for Germans—meaning "dumb," for the first Germans in Russia couldn't speak the language.

"We are Americans." Other soldiers gathered to listen.

"Amerikansha!" said one man with a cunning smile. "If you are Americans, tell me what language the Americans speak."

"They speak Angliiski."

At this they all looked inquiringly at the learned soldier, who nodded. An officer appeared, looked us up and down very severely, and asked us in German who we were and what we were doing. We explained. He scratched his head, shrugged his shoulders, and disappeared. Another, a huge bearded man, bustled out now and tried us with Russian, Polish, and broken French. It was evidently a poser for him, too, for he walked vaguely up and down, pulling at his beard. Finally he despatched several orderlies in different directions, and motioned us to follow him. We entered a large room that had evidently been a theatre, for there was a stage at one end hung with a gaudily painted curtain. About thirty men in undress uniform bent over desks, laboriously writing out by hand the interminable documents of bureaucratic routine. One was cautiously experimenting with a new invention, the typewriter, which evidently none of them had ever seen before, and which caused everybody great amusement.

A young officer came out of an inside room, and began to fire stern questions in rapid French. Who were we? What were we doing here? How did we come? We told our story.

"Through Bucovina and Galicia!" he cried in astonishment. "But no civilians are permitted to enter Bucovina and Galicia!"

We produced our passes.

"You are correspondents? But don't you know that no correspondents can come to Tarnopol?"

We pointed out that in fact we were there. He seemed at a loss.

"What is your business?" said he uncertainly.

I told him that we wanted to visit the front of the Ninth Army, and to find out about certain American citizens in Galicia—at the request of the American minister in Bucarest. He ran his eye down the list of names.

"Bah! Jews!" he remarked disgustedly. "Why does your country admit Jews to citizenship? Or, if it does, why doesn't it keep them at home? Where do you want to go— Strij? Kalusz? That is not possible!"

"Ah," I said, "then Strij and Kalusz are on the first line now?"

He grinned. "No. The second line—the German second line?"

We were astounded by the rapidity of the German advance.

"It is only a question of time," he went on indifferently. "They will soon be here." And suddenly he sprang to attention. "The general!"

The thirty clerks leaped to their feet with one bound.

"Good day, my children," said a pleasant voice.

"Good day to your generalship!" shouted the clerks in unison—and sat down again to their work.

General Lichisky was a man under middle age, with a keen, smiling face. He saluted us and cordially shook hands.

"So you wish to go to the front?" he said, when the officer had explained. "I don't understand how you managed to get here—for correspondents have not been allowed in Tarnopol at all. However, your papers are perfectly satisfactory. But I cannot permit you to visit the first line; the Grand Duke has issued an order absolutely forbidding it. You had better go to Lvov—Lemberg—and see what can be done through Prince Bobrinski, governor-general of Galicia. ... I will give you passes. In the meanwhile, you may stay here as long as your business requires it.

He detailed a young sub-officer who spoke English to look after us, and ordered that we should be lodged at the hotel reserved for officers of the Staff, and dine at the mess.

We wandered about the town. Tarnopol was full of troops—regiments returning from the front for a rest, others going out, still more, fresh troops, arriving from Russia with uniforms yet unsoiled by battle; mighty singing choruses shocked and smashed against each other in a ceaseless surge of big voices. Few of the men had arms. Long wagon- trains loaded with immense quantities of flour, meat, and canned food filed toward the west—but we saw no ammunition.

A young lieutenant told us things. He had been through the Masurian Lakes disaster, and later in the Carpathians.

"Even before the retreat," he said, "we didn't have half enough rifles or ammunition. My company, for example, was stationed in two trenches—a front trench and a reserve trench. A third of my men were in the first trench, and they had rifles. All the rest had no rifles— their duty was to go forward, one by one, and pick up the rifles of those who were killed."

As we walked along, the guards on the corners gathered and looked at us, whispering, until they made up their minds that we were German spies—then they arrested us and took us to the Prefecture. There no one knew what to do with us, so we were solemnly marched to the Staff, where our friend the French-speaking officer set us free again, loading our captors with abuse. The poor guards slunk away in great bewilderment; their orders were to arrest suspicious-looking persons, and when they did so, they were threatened with the knout. At regular intervals all day we were arrested by new sets of soldiers, and the same farce gone through.

"Beasts!" shouted the officer, shaking his fist at the poor, puzzled soldiers. "Fools! I'll have you punished!"

We suggested mildly that he might give us a pass which we could show to people when they stopped us, but he said that he had no authority.

Late in the afternoon we stood near the barracks, watching a long column of sullen Austrian prisoners marching in between their guards. A soldier on duty gaped for several minutes at our puttees, let his eyes slowly travel up our costumes, and finally arrested us, and took us up to a major in spectacles who stood on the corner.

He questioned us in German, and I answered. He peered suspiciously over his glasses.

"Where are your passports?"

I said that we had left them at the hotel.

"I think I shall take you to the Staff," said he.

"We have already been to the Staff," said I.

"Hum!" he meditated. "Then to the Police."

"What is the use of that? We've already been to the Police."

"Hum!" It was puzzling, so he changed the subject. "You are correspondents? In what countries have you been?"

"We have just come from Serbia." "And how is it in Serbia?" I said that the sickness was terrible there. "Sickness!" said he. "What sickness?" He had never heard of the typhus. "Really!" he said indifferently. "Tell me; will Italy enter the war, do you think?"

"Italy has already been in the war for six weeks."

"You don't say!" he yawned. "Well, gentlemen, I must leave you. Very happy to have made your acquaintance—sehr angenehm." and he bowed and walked away.

No one knew when the train for Lemberg left; our officer telephoned to the quartermaster, who called up the chief of transport, who in turn asked the chief of the railway administration. The answer was that everything was so mixed up that there was no certainty—it might leave in five minutes and it might leave to-morrow morning. So we plunged again into the frightful melee at the station, stacked our bags against the wall, and sat down to wait. Long files of stretchers bore groaning wounded to hospital-trains, running soldiers jostled each other, officers bawled hoarsely, sweating conductors made despairing gestures about their trains blocked interminably along the tracks. A fat colonel confronted the harassed station-master, pointing to his regiment drawn up along the freight platform as far as the eye could reach.

"Where the devil is my train?" he shouted. The station-master shrugged.

There were cavalry officers in green trousers, with broad sabres; subalterns of the automobile and aeroplane corps who carried blunt, ivory-handled daggers in place of swords; Cossack atamans from Ural and Kuban with pointed, turned-up boots, long caftans open in front and laced at the waist, tall fur hats barred . on top with gold and red, belts bossed with precious metals and silver-mounted yataghans; generals of various degrees of generality. There were club-footed officers, near-sighted officers who couldn't see to read, one-armed and epileptic officers. Minor officials of the postal service and the railway went by dressed like field-marshals and carrying swords. Almost every one wore a uniform with gold or silver shoulder-straps; their number and variety were bewildering. Scarcely an officer whose breast was not decorated with the gold and silver badges of the Polytechnic or the Engineering School, the bright ribbons of the Orders of Vladimir, St. George, or St. Michael; gold-hilted honor swords were frequent. And every one incessantly saluted every one else. Seven hours later we boarded the train for Lemberg, and got into a compartment with two shabby, middle-aged lieutenants who were typical of nine-tenths of the minor Russian bureaucrats. We began talking ragged German, and I asked them about the suppression of vodka.

"Vodka!" said one. "You may be sure they didn't suppress the vodka without making up the money lost in some other way. It is all very well for war-time—you know, the Revolution in 1905 was due entirely to the peasants' getting drunk on vodka—but after the war we shall have vodka again. Everybody wants vodka. They cannot stop it."

His companion asked if there were compulsory military service in America. I said no.

"Like England," he nodded. "That is all very well for you, but in Russia it wouldn't do at all. The peasants wouldn't fight."

"But I thought the people were very enthusiastic about the war?"

"Pooh!" he answered contemptuously. "The Russian peasant is a very silly person. He cannot read or write. If you asked him to volunteer, he would say that he was very comfortable where he was, and didn't care to be killed. But when you order him to go, he goes!"

I wanted to know whether there was any organized opposition to the war. The first man nodded.

"Fifteen members of the Duma—they can't execute Duma members—are in prison for sending revolutionary propaganda to the army. The men who circulated it in the ranks have all been shot. They were mostly Jews." It took fourteen hours to go forty-five miles. We halted hours on switches to let military trains go by, and long white strings of silent cars that smelled of iodoform. Again miles and miles of wheat-fields yellowing richly—a wonderful harvest here. The country was alive with soldiers. They thronged every station; half-armed regiment slouched along the platform, waiting for their trains; trains of cavalry and their horses, trains of flat cars piled high with supplies, preceded and followed us, or passed going in the other direction. Everywhere utter disorganization—a battalion sidetracked all day without food, and farther on huge dining sheds where thousands of meals were spoiling, because the men didn't come. Engines whistled impatiently for a clear track. One had an impression of vast forces hurled carelessly here and there, of indifference on a grand scale, of gigantic waste.

How different from the faultless German machine I saw at work in northern France four months after the occupation! There, too, was a problem of transporting millions of men, of hurrying them from one point to another, of carrying arms, ammunition, food, and clothing for them. But although northern France is covered with railroads and Galicia is not, the Germans had built new four-track lines plunging across country and cutting through cities, over bridges made of steel and concrete, erected in eighteen days. In German France trains were never late.


Lemberg Before the Germans Came

The immense station at Lemberg—or Lvov in Polish—was choked with troops running and calling, with soldiers asleep on the filthy floor, with stupefied refugees wandering vaguely about. No one questioned or stopped us, though Lemberg was one of the forbidden places. We drove through the ancient and royal Polish city, between the gloomy walls of great stone buildings like Roman and Florentine palaces—once the seats of the world's proudest nobility. In little squares among the mediaeval twisted streets were Gothic churches of the great period—high, thin roofs, spires of delicate stone tracery, and rich rose-windows. Immense modern German buildings bulked across the noble sky-line, and there were the brilliant shops, restaurants and cafes, wide green squares of a big city. Shabby Jewish quarters encroached on the smart streets, littered with filth and populous with noisy Hebrews, but here their houses and shops were wider, they laughed more, walked more like free people than in the other places we had been. Soldiers—always soldiers—shuffling Jews, and quick, gesticulating Poles—the ugliest race in the world—thronged the sidewalks. Everywhere were wounded men in every stage of convalescence. Whole streets of houses had been turned into temporary hospitals. Never in any country during the war have I seen such vast numbers of wounded as behind the Russian front.

The Hotel Imperial was an old palace. Our room measured twenty-five feet by thirty, fourteen feet high, and the outside walls were nine feet thick. We breakfasted, lost in the wastes of this vast apartment; and then, because our pass read, "The bearers must report immediately to the Chancellory of the governor-general of Galicia," we took our way to the ancient palace of the Polish kings, where the local Russian bureaucracy was functioning with all its clumsy ineffectualness.

A surging crowd of refugees and civilians of all sorts beat about the clerk's desk in the anteroom. Finally he took our pass, read it attentively two or three times, turned it upside down, and handed it back with a shrug of the shoulders. He paid no further attention to us. So we forced our way past several sentries into an inner office, where an officer sat writing at a desk. He looked at the pass and smiled sweetly.

"Ya nisnayo" said he. "I know nothing about it."

We asked for some one who could speak French or German, and he went to find one. Three-quarters of an hour later he returned with an oldish captain who spoke some German. We explained that General Lichisky had ordered us to report to the Chancellory, and that we wanted to go the front.

"I will show you. This way." He motioned us down a passage. We walked on for some time, and suddenly looking around, missed him. We never saw him again.

Immediately ahead was a door marked "Staff of the Governor-General," which we entered, telling the orderly that we wanted to speak to some one who understood French or German. A genial colonel promptly appeared, shaking hands and introducing himself: "Piotr Stefanovitch Verchovsky, a votre service." We told our tale.

"Please wait a few minutes, gentlemen," said he, "and I will arrange your affair."

He took our pass and disappeared. Four hours later an orderly came into the room and handed me the pass, shrugging his shoulders.

"Where is Colonel Verchovsky?" we demanded.

"Ne poriiemayor he muttered. "I don't understand!"

I went to the door and sent the orderly to find the colonel; and in a few minutes he appeared, polite as ever, but greatly surprised to see us still there.

"Your pass distinctly says that you must report to the Chancellory," he explained, "but I have tried in vain to find the proper department. The truth is that we are in great confusion here on account of this morning's news. I advise you to go to Prince Bobrinski's personal headquarters, and ask to speak with his aide-de-camp, Prince Troubetskoi. But don't say I sent you."

There were four sets of suspicious sentries to pass on our way to the governor's. We sent in our cards, and were immediately ushered into a room full of smartly dressed officers smoking, laughing and talking, and reading newspapers. One dashing boy in a hussar uniform, surrounded by a gay circle, was telling in French a story about himself and a Polish countess whom he had met at Nice. A gentle-faced, bearded pope of the Russian church, in a long, black-silk soutane, with a huge silver crucifix dangling from a silver neck-chain, paced up and down arm in arm with a bull-necked colonel covered with decorations. Nothing seemed farther from this easy, pleasant-mannered company than war.

A great handsome youth with shining teeth under a heavy mustache came forward, holding out his hand.

"I'm Trouhetskoi," said he in English. "How on earth did you manage to get here? It is impossible for correspondents to enter Lemberg!"

We produced quantities of passes signed by generals and their chiefs of staff.

"Americans!" he sighed, biting his lips to repress a grin. "Americans! What's the use of regulations when Americans are about? I don't understand how you found out I was here, or why you came to me."

We murmured something about having met Troubetskoi the sculptor, in New York.

"Ah yes," said he. "That is the international one. He does not speak Russian, I believe. But now you are here, what can I do for you?"

"We want to go to the front." Here he shook his head doubtfully. "At least we thought the governor-general might let us visit Przsemysl------"

"I'm sure he would," grinned the prince, "but for the regrettable news of this morning. The Austrians entered Przsemysl at eight o'clock!"

We had not dreamed that it would fall so soon. "Do you think they will get to Lemberg?"

"Very probably," he answered in an uninterested tone. "Neither are now of any strategic value. We are rectifying our line." Then changing the subject, he said that he would see the governor-general himself and ask what could be done for us. Would we come in the morning?

The pope, who had been listening, now asked in very good English, what part of America we were from.

"I have been in America for sixteen years," he said, smiling. "For eight years I was priest of the Greek church in Yonkers, New York. I came back for the war to help all I could. Now I only wait for peace to go back yonder."

As we emerged on the street, a column of gigantic soldiers, four deep, rounded the corner with their tin buckets swinging, tramping to their kitchens for dinner. Just in front of the palace the front rank burst into song, and with a roar the following ranks joined in:

"I remember when I was a young girl, During the army manoeuvres To my village came a young officer With soldiers, and he said to me, 'Give me some water to drink.'

“When he finished drinking, he stooped from his horse And kissed me.

“Long stood I looking after him as he went away, And all night I could not sleep— All night he was in my dreams. Many years after, when I was a widow And had married off my four daughters, To my village came an old general; And he was broken and wounded with many wounds. He groaned. When I looked at him my heart beat fast— It was the same young officer, I could not mistake him: Brave as ever—the same voice. Brave as ever—the same eyes. But many white hairs in his mustache. And so, as many years ago, this night I cannot sleep, And all night in my dreams I see him."

Now through all the streets poured rivers of soldiers singing. We could see their hats flowing along the end of the avenue, over the top of a little rise. Grand choruses met, clashing like cross-seas in the echoing hollows between tall buildings—the city hummed with deep melody. This was the inexhaustible strength of Russia, the powerful blood of her veins spilled carelessly from her bottomless fountains of manhood, wasted, lavished. The paradox of a beaten army which gathers strength, a retreating host whose very withdrawal is fatal to the conquerors.

Our Russian money was running low, so in the morning we went out to change our English gold. But no one wanted English gold. Everybody asked the same question, in a low voice, peering around to see that no soldiers were within hearing: "Have you any Austrian money?" For already it was rumored in the city that the Austrians were coming again.

We kept our appointment with Troubetskoi, who led us through the ancient throne-room of the palace to the office of the governor-general's assistant, a pleasant-mannered officer whose coat blazed with decorations.

"Prince Troubetskoi and I have really done our best for you," he said with a friendly smile. "But the governor regrets that he cannot give you permission to visit the front. For that you must apply to the military authorities— he is simply a civil official, you know. However, I haven't a doubt that they will allow you to go. And in that case, return here and we shall be most happy to take care of you."

We asked where the permission was to be had.

"There are two ways. Either you may proceed to Petrograd, and arrange matters with his Highness the Grand Duke Nicolai Nicolaievitch through your ambassadors, or go to Cholm in Poland, which is the headquarters of General Ivanov, commander-in-chief of the southwestern front. Bath Prince Troubetskoi and I think you will be more successful if you make application to General Ivanov, and his Excellency the governor-general is of the same opinion. I will give you passes which will carry you to Cholm."

At midnight we left the hotel to catch the train for Cholm, and there being no cabs in sight, an officer bound for the station called out in French that he would be happy if we would share his. His oval, half-Semitic face might have been copied from an Assyrian wall-painting—he said he was a Georgian from the Caucasus.

"The Georgian regiments have been ordered here from the Turkish front, because of their heroic conduct. The Grand Duke has done right; we Georgians are by far the bravest soldiers in the army," said he.

"Will the Austrians take Lemberg?" asked Robinson.

"Oh yes," he answered complacently: "We expect them every day now. But it doesn't matter, you know. Next winter we'll come back—or the winter after."


An Optimistic Pilgrimage

Cholm is not a hundred miles in an air- line from Lemberg, but there is no direct railroad between them; one must make a wide detour into Russia and back through Poland, more than three hundred miles.

We were in a compartment for four, the other two being a silent young lieutenant who lay in his berth with his boots on, smoking, and a crotchety old general invalided home. The general tried to shut tight both door and window—for the Russians share with other Continental peoples a morbid fear of fresh air. Followed a dramatic battle lasting all night, in which stalwart American manhood defied the liveried minions of the Tzar to close that window—but was finally subdued at dawn by the railroad police.

White Russia. For hours we rode through an untouched wilderness of birch and pine without seeing a house or a human being, the engine's whistle alone breaking the echoing silence of the woods. Sometimes a gap in the forest gave glimpses of wide yellow plains, where black tree-stumps stood among the wheat. Wretched villages huddled around the government vodka shop—now closed—wooden huts roofed with neglected thatch, which straggled miserably beside muddy, rutted spaces populous with rooting pigs and immense flocks of geese.

Great-shouldered women were working in the fields, mowing with broad strokes rhythmically abreast—probably some Female Mowers' Guild from a distant country. There were plenty of young, strong mujiks everywhere. They swung axes amid crashing-down trees, drove singing along the roads, and swarmed over the joists and timbers of giant miles of sheds that covered the mountainous heaps of army supplies. Yet not for an instant could we forget the war. The towns were all full of shouting soldiers; train after train whirled westward, packed with them. And as we paused on side-tracks, past glided an endless procession of white sanitary cars with pale, agonized faces peering from the windows under their bandages. Every village had its military hospital.

We changed trains at Rovno, where there was a wait of nine hours. There we ran into Miroshnikov, the English-speaking subofficer who had looked after us in Tarnopol, now bound north on official business.

"Let's walk around," he proposed. "I want to show you a typical Jewish town of the Pale."

As we went along, I asked the meaning of the red, white, and blue cord that edged his shoulder-straps.

"That means I am a volunteer—exempt from compulsory service. The Russian word for 'volunteer,' " he answered the question with a grin, "is 'Volnoopredielyayoustchemusia'"

We gave up all hopes of learning the language.


a railway station


We were around Rovno station almost all day long, but it was not until evening that the police decided to arrest us. Among others we appealed to a pompous colonel, named Bolatov, whom we had encountered several times in {he course of our travels. He was covered with high decorations, carried a gold honor sword, and had padding in his chest and dye on his ferocious mustache. We never could discover what he did on his leisurely peregrinations around the country. Miroshnikov told him that Robinson was a celebrated artist.

"We shall see!" said Bolatov cunningly. He approached Robinson. "If you are an artist," said he, "please draw my portrait."

He struck a martial attitude under the arc-light, chest expanded, hand on sword-hilt, and mustache twisted up, while Robinson drew for his life. The portrait was an outrageous flattery. Colonel Bolatov glanced at it with perfect satisfaction. He waved to the police.

"Release these gentlemen," he ordered loftily. "They are well-known journalists. Would you mind signing this sketch?"

That night we slept on the benches of a troop-transport car; changed and waited seven hours at Kovel, and boarded a train bound eventually for Cholm, though no one knew when it would get there. All afternoon we crawled slowly westward through the great Polish plain—vast wheat-fields edged with a foam of red poppies, breaking like a yellow sea against cloudy promontories of trees, and archipelagoes of cheerful thatched villages. Half smothered in mighty blooming locusts were wooden stations where hospitable samovars steamed, and slow-moving heavy-faced peasants stared motionless at the train—the men in long gray coats of coarse wool, the women gay with bright-colored skirts and kerchiefs. And late in the day when the low sun inundated the flat world with rich mellow light, and all the red, green, and yellow glowed vividly luminous, we whistled through a sandy pine wood, and saw before us the tree-covered hill of Cholm, with its cluster of shining Greek cupolas floating like golden bubbles above the green foliage.

A new-found but already intimate friend named Captain Martinev was criticising the army with true Russian candidness.

"—horrible waste," said he. "Let me tell you a story. In October I was with my regiment in Tilsit when the German drive on Warsaw began, and we received urgent orders to hurry to Poland. Well, from Tilsit to the nearest railroad station, Mittau, is a hundred versts. We did it in three days forced marches, arriving in bad shape. Something had gone wrong—we had to wait twenty-four hours on the platform, without sleep, for it was very cold. By train we travelled two days to Warsaw, almost starving; no one had made arrangements for feeding us. When we arrived Lodz had already fallen. We got in at night and were marched across the city to another train bound for Teresa, where they were fighting. A little way out the tracks had been smashed by a shell; we detrained in the rain at two o'clock in the morning, and marched five hours to Teresa.

"At eight o'clock we reached the headquarters of the division commanded by General M------, who made such frightful mistakes in Manchuria, Our men's feet were in terrible condition; they had had practically no sleep for three nights, and hardly any food at all for two days. Half an hour after we had thrown ourselves down exhausted in the rain, the general came out with his chief of staff.

" 'How many men have I here?' he asked surlily.

" 'Eight thousand.'

" 'Good. Send them to relieve the trenches.'

" 'Our colonel protested. 'But my men cannot go into the trenches. They must have and food. For five days------'

"'Never mind!' snapped the general. 'I don't want your opinion. March!'

"The general went back to bed. We coaxed, pleaded, threatened, flogged — it was terrible to hear them beg for food and sleep— and the column staggered off to the forward trenches.

"We went in at ten in the morning and stood particularly heavy fire all day—so heavy that the cook-wagons couldn't reach us until midnight, so there was nothing to eat. The Germans attacked twice in the night, so there was no sleep. Next morning heavy artillery bombarded us. The men reeled as if they were drunk, forgot to take any precautions, and went to sleep while they were shooting. The officers, with blazing eyes, muttering things like men walking in their sleep, went up and down beating the soldiers with the flat of their swords. I forgot what I was doing, and so did everybody, I think; indeed, I can't remember what followed at all—but we were in there for four days and four nights. Once a night the cook-wagons brought soup and bread. At least three times a night the Germans attacked at the point of the bayonet. We retired from trench to trench, turning like beasts at bay—though we were all out of our heads.

"Finally on the fifth morning they relieved us. Out of eight thousand men two thousand came back, and twelve hundred of those went to the hospital.

"But the amusing thing about it was that all the time we were being butchered out there, there were six fresh regiments held in reserve two miles away! What on earth do you suppose General M------was thinking of?"

see also by John Reed : An American Journalist in Serbia

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