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BY UNA ELLIS-FERMOR
('Woe to the man who takes two wives/
Woe to the landsman who loves the seas!
But woe to that man a hundred-fold,
Gives his heart to two countries!')
I lie awake twixt three and five,
When the dawn is gloomy gray,
And the maple trees are shivering
And I dare not think of Sussex,
Nor how the hills of Berkshire
Nor how the lanes at Appledore
Down to the marshes run.
Nor how the lights of Waterloo
The Thames goes sweeping by.
'I am going to tell you a story,' said my has appeared in so many forms, since Russian friend one night, ‘which will men began asking “What is the life?” give you a glimpse of the little dark In the Middle Ages he grew quite large, man whose figure will soon be more and they called him Saint or Sorcerer. plainly seen in many countries of the Then came modern science and smiled world. And then he will look quite at him; and as men smiled he grew enormously large — even in America. small to their eyes, so small that soon
My curiosity was stirred. We were those scientists forgot him — like God, sitting in his small house, that night, whom they also denied. But now I up in the north of Russia. It was the think he will grow again. So large will autumn of 1917. When I asked what he grow at the end of this war that he meant by the little dark man, he soon you will hear the millions of smiled at me and answered:
greatly puzzled people inquire, “Who 'If I should try to tell you, I would is this psychic gentleman? He is doing be talking all the night, for this chap the strange things. How does he do
en My curiosity was house, that nigthe think he wt the end of this millions of
the station to inquit, while I went into
ime while to reply. ... But
them?” they will ask. And the ortho- mother with content, while I went into dox atheist, sharply annoyed, will have the station to inquire about the train. to find some way to reply. ... But Never in all my life have I heard of any all this time while he was so dim to train so far behind! Somewhere in those learned people in the towns, to Holy Russia it was, and this was all the simple peasants of our land he has that I could learn. Many hours at always been quite real. And my story least we should be here. I was in the to-night is of such peasants, and of one despair, which was still increased when who lived among them, and of a thing soon I found that the station buffet that I saw with my eyes. So now I was hopelessly closed. The whole place shall tell — and at first you will hear a was filled with emptiness! story beginning not strangely at all, I strolled upon the platform then, but just very human, very Russian.' and at last discovered at one end a
He smiled again, and so began. And single living creature there — a blond the tale that he told I shall try to re- and tall, quite nicely built young peaspeat in his own words, as he told it ant woman, cleanly dressed, who sat to me.
immovable, calm like a cow. It seemed to me I had seen her before; but where,
at first I could not guess. Then sud'Surely we shall be too late! Make denly I recollected. Yes, this was the haste, go on!' my mother cried, al- nice young woman I met not long ago though it was more than five hours yet on my way to Okuneff's, a neighbor of before the train to Petrograd could mine whose small estate was about possibly reach the station to which we fifty versts from our home. I had were driving. For my good mother talked with her then, so I had learned always loved to be a little before' a that she was from the village of Bor; train. In all our trips, though I did my and now I was glad that I had disbest to be as slow as possible, never covered someone with whom my good could I manage so that we reached the mother could talk, since I knew that station less than some two hours before she did not like to be mute for any the arrival of the train. And knowing considerable length of time. So I this, our peasant driver only smiled brought the girl to her and said that when she implored him to be going like here was a nice young woman from the wind.
Bor. One glance of the keen pleased ‘Barina,' he said, 'we shall have interest, and my mother knew at once three hours still to wait, if the train is that this young woman would soon not late. But God only knows how have a child. So with full speed the late it will be. The last time it was gossip began; and in perhaps two hours, fully six hours behind; so perhaps you with never any silence at all, we knew will sit at the station all through the all about this woman's life — not only day and through the night.'
her name, but the names of all her 'Go on - oh, please!' my poor relatives and all her friends, and all mother cried. So with an indignant their lives from year to year, as though grunt, the peasant beat his horses to we ourselves were born in Bor. And the splendid gallop; and so we were only when she had recounted all this, going until at last we stopped with a did Maria quietly tell to us how early jerk in the mud and snow before the this morning she had come there, and gate to the station yard. *Thank God, already was on the train when off she now we are in time!' declared my ran to the buffet to fetch some hot water for her tea. The train went off while she was there - and her luggage was now in Petrograd! At once my In the station at Petrograd, where mother, in full dismay, was convinced we arrived at the end of the night, I it would be stolen there; but the girl found at last the conductor of the early Maria quite calmly replied:
morning train, and soon, to my enor'No, Barina, such a thing cannot be. mous surprise, the luggage of the girl Do you see? I am poor and with child, was found. When he brought to Maria and my husband is sick from a wound her huge bag, she took it without astonin the war. Will he live or not, God ishment, quite calmly as a matter of only knows. So how could there be any course. 'Surely,' he said with the curipeople so bad, who would steal from ous smile, 'you must be a girl from the such a girl as me, who goes to see her North, where the people live without husband in Petrograd where he may locks on their doors!' I paid the man die?'
five roubles for the trouble he took not But my good mother's concern in to steal the bag, and then my mother creased. Earnestly turning to me, she asked Maria to come along with us implored, ‘Junechka, please — explain that day and be safe from all the to her that there are such people in scoundrels. Without confusion the girl Petrograd — that the luggage men are replied, 'Thanks.' And she quietly scoundrels there. Perhaps she will be climbed into the sledge. lieve you, since you are a man.
It was now early in the dawn, but But just because I was a man, off I as we passed so many great houses, walked from this hopeless talk. I palaces, and God knows what, Maria walked and walked, the time went on, looked calmly at them all and showed and at last arrived the train in the not even the small surprise, though night.
never once yet in her life had she By now my anxious mother resolved visited any town, and the only stone to take the girl with us, second class, building she had seen was the little since she had learned that Maria knew church in Bor, which was some seven nobody in Petrograd except her hus- centuries old. “This is the town. Then band, Peter, who was in a lazaret. it must be so,' was the thought in her On the train she gave us a letter from eyes, and nothing else. Like the splenhim - a most typical one — many did healthy ox she was! When we came peasants write so:
to our lodging, Maria at once felt her‘To our deeply esteemed wife, Maria self here quite at home, as though she Sidorovna, we send our greetings of the had been years long with us. While husband. I am ill in Petrograd in the eating some bread and sipping the tea, lazaret N. 423, so please come quickly she now continued to us her tale. Her to me there. Give our greetings to —' husband, she told, had been a soldier and then followed the names of all the already for two years in the war. They relatives, friends, and persons of village had taken him off when he was eightacquaintance, placed in the hierarchical een. All the time near Riga he had order.
been, digging many trenches there, ‘so The letter at last was finished: - that men could be saved from the
‘And pray to accept our blessings bullets,' she said. Eight months ago, of the husband for your good success he was with her in Bor for a few days; - which blessing is good until the then away he went -- and not until coffin.'
now had she received any news of him. VOL. 134 – NO.1
said. Eis for a few cantil hom the front, I sowite. On the train
husband," she to my deeply
Then, while I went to the telephone even did not allow him to speak any to ask the address of the lazaret, Maria word with his own wife. On the train was carefully making herself fit for her from the front, I soon understood, the great visit that day — 'to my deeply poor devil had caught a pneumonia, esteemed husband,' she said. She dis- and now there was faint hope he could played before my mother the contents survive. Two-thirds of his lungs did of her enormous bag. It was quite a not breathe, she told us. Still not a museum of village fine art — the laces tear, nor any complaint. Silently she made with needles so fine and with such took off her fine clothes. She asked of perfect taste that they could easily my mother, “Where is the church?' compare with that coming from Venice And off she went to pray to the God. my mother declared. Then came the Now I telephoned to the lazaret, to fine and silk-like linen, spun in the find if nothing could be done; but they home, some snowy white and some told me her husband was ill quite long, with faded green and pink woven into and was weak before the pneumonia it, in such a way, and with a feeling of came. Now he lived only by breathing
to see! My mother's good eyes came hope at all. Perhaps two days would out of her head! With dry reproach she be the longest time for him. ... Well, looked at me, and said, —
poor lad — another one dead. But 'You have been many times to Bor! death was so common in Russia now, Were you always sleeping there, that that soon I dropped him off my mind, you never saw such needlework, to and went to attend to the business for buy some and to bring to me? This which I had come to Petrograd. I acis exactly the way of a man!
complished it that afternoon; then, My position grew most unpleasant having nothing urgent to do, in order now. My God! And in order to save to please my mother I decided to go myself, I made the heroic proposition back to Bor and buy some linen and to make a special journey to Bor at laces there, and also perhaps have a once and fetch all the stuff I could buy. nice long chat with my friend Okuneff,
While I was telling this splendid re who lived near by. solve, Maria at last was ready to start So I took the train from the city that - quite in her best attire now, with night; and the next day, after quite a her fair thick hair all shined with oil long drive over the clean white snow of and tightly coiffed. “My own husband a road through the silent forest of huge I am going to see, so I must be at my pines, I came to the little village which best,' she said. Our dvornik fetched for was the girl Maria's home. Soon I disher a sledge, and off on the dirty snow covered the hut where she lived, and I of the street she drove away to the found her younger sister there. She lazaret.
was a lass of perhaps sixteen, a nicelooking girl with brown-golden eyes,
thick chestnut hair, and finely built — In about three hours back she came but silent, silent like a fish. I explained – quite terribly silent, with not a trace to her the bad news about Peter, and of the calm animation she had shown also why I had come to Bor; and of when she was preparing herself for the course I mentioned that I was going to visit. She sat a long time so deeply sad see my old friend Okuneff near by. that it was a woe to look at her. Her This was to make my credit higher husband was so ill, she said, the doctors since no peasant likes to sell or have