Ugrás a tartalomhoz Lépj a menübe
 


Cecile Tormay: An Outlaw's Diary: Revolution /6

CHAPTER XV.

January 25th-26th.

It almost seems as if the terrible eye of the magician who has kept the town in bondage is beginning to lose its power. The country tied to the stake is freeing its hands from its fetters and a great awakening is stirring over the Plain.

News pours in. The Roumanians have retired before the Székler bands, and on their retreat they are robbing and destroying, but Kis-Sebes and Bánffy-Hunyad are ours again, and they are packing up in Kolozsvár. The Hungarian forces have appealed to the War Office for help. This is the moment to act, for it is now easy to repel the invading foe. Transyl-vanian Magyardom has declared a general strike. All officials of state, post office, and telegraphs have stopped work, and thirty-two thousand miners have laid down their tools in sympathy with the patriotic movement. It is so, although the Government says that it is a victory for Social Democracy; but in Transylvania it is not the Internationale which is fighting, but a people patriotically defending its very existence.

The position of the Roumanians is becoming dangerous in Transylvania and their soldiers are beginning to desert and go home. It is as though the breeze of a new awakening is coming from over the snow-clad mountains and is blowing to flame the embers that have been smouldering all over the country.

If only the Government were to help now ! But the Government won't. It stamps out the flames, strangles all words of patriotism and strikes the weapons from Hungarian hands.

The Jewish electrician, who is Minister of War, intends to leave the Hungarians of Transylvania to their fate and denounces the patriotism of our last reliable troops. When a detachment of the Budapest chasseurs went to Salgo Tarján he called it the glorious army of Social Democracy, and when the soldiers went off he said to them : " Go and defend our coal, our water, so that we may live. " Only our coal, our water... there is no need to defend the country.

Those who speak and act in our name to-day are not Hungarians. This is a life and death struggle, a desperate fight between a people bled to death and a race that has been allowed to breed too freely—a new kind of war. A short time ago our defeat seemed certain : the Hungarian people made no resistance because its faith had been killed, but now the faith has revived. Its feeble flames had been carried quietly back into the homes by women. And perhaps the time has come at last when the men will want to prove their bravery to those who expect them to be brave.

........

January 27th-February 3rd.

It is a good time for prophets just now. When life becomes unbearable and every moment a torture, in despair men snatch at prophecies and look to the future. Every day new prophets and prophetesses appear. Their oracles are published by the newspapers and spread by word of mouth. Fear longs to be alleviated. Somebody says " It is possible; " the next repeats it as " I believe; " and with the third it becomes " I know. " The sufferers are not content to stop there, however, but proceed to fix a time-limit for the realisation of their predictions. At one moment they are concerned with the impending rising of the Communists, at another with the outbreak of the counter-revolution.

The beginning of the Red Revolution was predicted for to-day, but it has been postponed. Now it is fixed for the 5th of February. People comfort each other by saying that within two hours the Spahis stationed in the neighbourhood can be brought to town and that there is no need to be alarmed. Others have reliable information that on the 6th or the 9th our party will begin its long-prepared offensive. In the streets the agents-provocateurs of Pogány ask young men : " Are you thinking of the 9th of February ? " then add in a whisper : " We meet to-night behind the Museum. " And while the surface bubbles in this fashion, both we and they are doing really serious work in the depths below.

The young people in town are ready and so are the awakening Hungarians, the Széklers and the Transylvanian Hungarians. Our liaisons with the countryside are established. We have weapons and determination and are exasperated beyond endurance. But it is vital that all these organisations should start action at the same moment, for we must not waste our ammunition on sporadic shots; it must be a volley. One hour must strike for all of us.

There is great tension in the air. In Károlyi's camp they are conscious of our surreptitious preparations and Károlyi fears them more than the constantly increasing agitation of the Communists. The possibilities of our movement are more hateful to him and cause him more anxiety than the activity of Béla Kún, although the Communists are not particular what tools they use, and are now agitating quite openly. Here in the capital they are making use of a curious trick. From mid-January on, their street orators have been advising the mob not to pay any rent to the landlords on next quarter day, i.e., February 1st. Why should they ? Are not the houses theirs ? Fortunately the majority of the people kept their heads, and only about some twenty, tenants in the suburbs refused to pay rent, so the riots and the projected Communist rising did not come off, for the present at any rate.

" It has failed this time, " said John Hock, the President of the National Council, to one of my friends, " but the Red terror is bound to come in Hungary ! It will last about two years, and then the old set, whom we kicked out in October, will have to restore order. "

The recovery of Balassa Gyarmat from the Czechs sounded like the clatter of a sword among the vague prophecies and uncertainties of our present life. The sword was drawn by Aladár Huszár and George Pongrácz, and at the cost of many heroic lives a handful of brave railwaymen, artisans, and students, and the peasants of nine villages, drove the Czechs back over the Ipoly.

But this hope did not last. Under pretence of helping, Pogány rushed down there and frustrated the progress which the Czechs had failed to stop. After a flare-up, out goes the flame again. Hope was badly wounded yesterday in Fehérvár too, where there was a county meeting at the County Hall, which, at the proposal of Károlyi's own brother, passed a vote of lack of confidence in the present Government, demanded the re-establishment of the King and the immediate convocation of the old parliament. For those who were present this meant nothing but well-intentioned waving of hats and shaking of fists, but for the country, which was out for a real fight with the forces of destruction, it was a tragedy; for it gave the alarm to the Government, clinging to its ill-got illegal power. To-morrow it will be thirsting for vengeance, and I'm afraid that the preparation of the counter-revolution will meet with new difficulties.

People talk bitterly of the Fehérvár incident, where the idea seems to prevail that a counterrevolution ought to be started to the sound of bands, with the waving of flags and the beating of the big drum. If every remaining county of the country had convoked, secretly, however illegally, a general assembly for the same day, and all these had voted against the Government, then the result would not have been this miserable fiasco.

What has been the result ? Károlyi has commissioned Joseph Pogány to crush every attempt at a counter-revolution, the country's Government delegates have been dismissed, officials have had to take the oath to the government or leave, and Károlyi's brother has had to climb down. Thus ends the affair so far as he is concerned, but for those who are working at the dangerous task of drawing the whole country into the meshes of the counter-revolution and of making its outbreak simultaneous everywhere, the consequences are disastrous. We shall have to start anew and build up what had been wantonly destroyed. One plan was that the county of Jasz-Nagy-Kún should proclaim a separate republic and secede from Károlyi's republic. This would have been the signal for the other counties to follow, leaving Budapest to itself and refusing to supply it with food, so that the starving town would have driven out its degrading tyrants of its own accord. But that is impossible now. A new way will have to be found, and the task will be heavy, for our enemies will be on the alert. At the last meeting of the Soldiers' Council Pogány proclaimed : " The revolution is in danger. Let the leaders and accomplices of the counter-revolution beware, for the well-meaning patience of the Soldiers' and the Workers' masses has been exhausted. As long as possible—patience; when necessity requires it—machine guns. " And he gave orders to his secret police to search the houses of those implicated.

Yesterday Countess Louis Batthyány mentioned to me that she had written a confidential letter to her brother, Count Julius Andrássy, in Switzerland, and my thoughts flew to this letter when I heard this morning that houses were being searched in the town. If it were found ! A Transylvanian friend telephoned to me early this morning and said : " I have had visitors, they will probably come to you too. You'd better make preparations, because they're very inquisitive; they even look up the chimney. " Again I heard that curious buzzing sound in the telephone which has happened lately whenever I have been called up. I myself can never get a connection now-a-days, for though the exchange answers it never connects me. I wrote and reported this, and an electrician came and inspected the apparatus; apparently everything was in order, yet when I wanted to call up somebody the same thing happened again.

The exchange cut off the connection while my friend was speaking to me. I did not hesitate long. I took my papers and recent correspondence and burnt everything which could have betrayed our purpose, my friends or myself. I often used to wonder why precious letters and documents of certain periods had disappeared. There are many letters of Szécsényi, Kossuth and Görgei which might well have been preserved for posterity. And while I was burning the letters addressed to me, one by one, and throwing their ashes into the stove so that no trace might be left in the open fireplace, I understood why the political correspondence of dangerous times had disappeared. There are many other details of Hungary's stormy past which have become clear to me now. Among other things I understand why we have so few diaries and memoirs. For four hundred years our noblest spirits were watched by Austrian spies; and while in other countries innumerable hands recorded freely the lives of their great contemporaries, with us, at the best, only the great political declarations have been preserved. It was like this long ago, and now it is worse still, for worse and more impudent spies are about us now than the informers of the Austrian regîme.

When I had just finished my sad task I heard the bell in the ante-room. Then I remembered these notes. I snatched them up from my writing-table and hid them between my books. But it was only my Transylvanian friend arriving. Her face, always sad of late, wore a new expression. She looked round my room : " Have they been here too ? " she asked, and then began to laugh. It was the laughter of a mischievous child who has escaped detection. " They found nothing at my place. " she said laughing again. " They came early in the morning, with soldiers. I was still in bed, and they wanted to break in the door. I shouted that I was dressing and that a revolver was lying on my table, and meanwhile I threw into a portmanteau whatever I could think of—the list of names of the Széklers' National Council, the members' list of the National Association of Hungarian Women, and their pamphlets—and through an unguarded door the bag disappeared from my room. I didn't mind the police coming in then; they searched everything—me too—but they didn't find anything of importance. "

In high spirits we went to the offices of the Association, where we found the secretary at her table, surrounded by a number of ladies. Practically everybody whose house had been searched that morning had come there and everybody had a different tale to tell. When they were searching Countess Batthyány's library a list of names fell out of a volume, a list of the lady patronesses of a ball held some years ago. They pocketed it promptly : it contained the names they were hunting for.

" How about the letter to Count Aridrássy ? "

" Fortunately the messenger came for it last evening. I shouldn't have liked them to lay their hands on that... "

The little office was filled with the spirit of winning gamblers. We concluded that the domiciliary visits had been a failure. I went home with my mind at rest. But that afternoon I had another visitor, Count Emil Dessewffy, whose house had been searched too.

" I'm glad you got over it without trouble, " I said.

" Yes, " said Dessewffy, " but, "—and he took his single eyeglass out of his eye, then replaced it suddenly—" but there has been a slight misfortune. The searchers found nothing implicating anybody. They took only one letter—yours ! "

At first I did not know what letter he referred to. Then I remembered. I had written to Dessewffy in connection with the women's memorandum, when I had been knocked off the tram and was ill, and in it I had written about Kingship, about the crown. I had passed judgment on men and events and had mentioned and stigmatised Károlyi, Jászi, Hock, Kunfi, Pogány and the whole Social Democracy of Budapest, as being the protagonists of Bolshevik world-rule. I remembered that even when I sent the letter it occurred to me that if it fell into the wrong hands it would entail retaliation.

Dessewffy seemed more upset about it than I.

" Don't worry, " I said, " at least they will know what I think of them. "

........

February 9th.

And they did know.

It happened quicker than I expected. From the hands of the Police my letter passed into those of the Socialist party's secretariat and thence to Joseph Pogány. I got reliable information of the whole thing—someone came to see me this morning. He asked me never to mention his name, and told me to be careful, as I was being watched and my telephone conversations listened to.

In town more and more requisitions are being made, and there have been many arrests, among others one of the leaders of the Awakening Hungarians, some officials of the War Office, the organisers of the armed force of the Territorial's Defence League, and Madame Sztankay, one of the bravest women of the counter-revolution; all have been sent to prison. The stone cast by the County meeting of Fehérvár has made wider and wider rings.

The Social Democrats are destroying with feverish haste everything that has been built up by generations of Hungarians. Jászi has dismissed the Rector and the Dean of the University, while Kunfi attacks the elementary and other schools. The teaching of religion is abolished, patriotism is banished from the schools, and the national anthem prohibited. The books used for the teaching of history in the schools are ' expurgated ' of everything that entitled Hungarians to take a pride in their past, and while this is going on the head of the Budapest communal schools informs the teachers by circular that : " those who cannot, or will not, conform to the spirit of these times, must take the consequences and stand aside. " It has all been done suddenly : the events of the last few days have urged the usurping powers to furious haste, and they are employing every possible shift to make sure of the future—for themselves.

Life becomes more and more difficult every day, and more and more people are taking refuge abroad. The rich Jews have long ago sent their treasures out of the country and have gone into safety themselves. It is amusing and characteristic that Countess Károlyi's pearls have emigrated too, and it has even been said of Károlyi himself that, under the pretence of furthering the peace negotiations, he also would like to go to—safer climes. But the powers of the Entente informed him that they had no wish to negotiate with him.

The mined ground trembles—anywhere is safer than here.

Count Ladislaus Széchenyi and his wife came to take leave of me, and at this parting I was conscious of the fate which they were escaping and which still hangs over me. My heart was heavy; Countess Szechenyi, who used to be Gladys Vanderbilt, had been for years one of my dearest friends, and now the town will seem empty without her. " I shall do everything that is possible, out there, for Hungary... " she told me consolingly. I knew she would, for, though she was foreign born, in the hours of our greatest trials she was more patriotically Hungarian than many of her companions who were Hungarian by birth.

" God speed you, Gladys... shall we ever meet again ? "

I got out of their carriage at a street corner and we took leave in the street. It was raining, and I suddenly felt as if myriads of thin, cold, slimy cobwebs were surrounding me and holding me captive, while their carriage broke through the threads of rain and disappeared before my eyes... They are gone...

I looked out of the window, and outside the snow was now coming down in big flakes. It is falling heavily, deep soft snow, for many, many miles around, covering the roads which lead to happier countries.

How I yearned for far-away things—roads, free roads, beauty, music, peaceful nights, warm rooms !... It lasted but an instant, and then I shook it off ; I had to go to the other shore of the Danube, where, in a dark house, behind drawn curtains, in an unwarmed room, women were waiting for me to address them.

Off I went, and behind me, just a step behind me, there came the new law. From this day on, any person attempting to change the republican form of Government is liable to fifteen years' hard labour; the instigators and leaders of such a movement will go to penal servitude for life. But those who report matters in time shall go free and be duly rewarded.

A white whirlwind swept over the frozen Danube. I went on. The road was long... the law followed and caught me not.

........

February 10th.

The door of my room opened quietly, and the little German maid looked in frightened.

" They've come again. I have tried to send them away, but they won't go... "

This is quite the usual thing nowadays. I jumped up from my writing-desk and went across the cold drawing-room. There was no lamp in the ante-room, and in the gloom I saw two soldiers and a civilian near the door.

" What do you want ? Me ? From the Housing Office ? But you have been over our flat before ! "

They refused to be denied. Fortunately my mother was out of the way and did not meet them while they were looking over the place. When we reached my room the civilian produced a note-book and bent over it in the lamplight on the writing-table. For some minutes he searched for something in his book, then turned to me suddenly with suspicion in his eyes :

" Is this your room ? "

" Yes. "

" We come from the police. We must search it. "

An unpleasant tremor went through me.

" By what right ? " I was on the point of asking, but I thought better of it. I remembered the hidden silver. The best thing would be to show no opposition— " After all, if those are your orders... " and I handed him my keys. One went in this direction, another in that, and I had to keep my eyes on the hands and pockets of all three. Meanwhile I remembered with extraordinary rapidity everything I had forgotten to burn. In awful anguish I thought of these notes, behind the books. What if they found them ? I was thinking so intently about this that I was afraid they might read my face. Suppose my thoughts were to guide them !... One of the soldiers looked into the stove and at the same moment I caught sight of the other extracting cigarettes from a small box and stuffing them into his pockets. The civilian sat down at the table and pulled out a drawer.

" Do you know anything about the organisation of the counter-revolution ? "

" Yes, " I answered... " I got it from the columns of ' The People's Voice.' " (this is the Socialist's own paper.)

The stupid round eyes of the man stared at me and suddenly I began to feel dangerously gay. I took heart and was almost grateful to them for being so conveniently superficial. Why not give them all my cigarettes ? What nonsense ! I pulled myself together and straightened my face.

A bundle of letters lay on my table and the man took them up one after the other. Then he turned the pages of a little book which mother had been reading yesterday, Albach's Heilige Anklange. Suddenly I was seized with disgust. I wanted to be rude. How dare these strangers touch my things like this and obliterate the contact of beloved hands ! They come in, open the cupboards, fumble, search, and all this in " the golden age of the people's liberty, " just because I am Hungarian.

When the three varlets left after searching in vain I felt hopelessly tired. I opened the window and kept it open all the evening just to air the room.

........

February 11th-13th.

Even in my dreams my worries pursue me. I know it, because when I wake with a start I find myself planning, planning, planning. Why can I never rest in peace ?

How people's minds alter nowadays ! In October it was all dazed depression. In November black despair. In December something that was distantly akin to hope. Then came the period of words, I made speeches, spreading my own fire. Later the order of the day was action. Now the sphere is more restricted. We must do something, quickly, unanimously, because if we don't act they will, and all that the Hungarian politicians do is to hold meetings, consult, think of their party, of themselves; even in this awful storm it is impossible to create unity. Don't they feel how they have sinned in the past against the nation ? Don't they realise that they owe it reparation ?

Count Stephen Bethlen's plan, the idea of a great, national collaboration, has suffered shipwreck after a lot of talk. Instead of unfurling the great flag of unity the number of little flags has been increased by one : the camp of Bethlen has been isolated from the others.

The Hungarian people are snipping tiny flags from the three national colours, while against them the Internationalists hoist a single flag dipped in blood, and round us, over all our frontiers, the Czechs, Serbians and Roumanians pour in, each united under its own single banner.

In this great, hopeless discord, the women, be it said to their honour, have found a bond of union, not only in the capital but in the country-side too. The post-office refuses to forward our appeals, but they are carried by hand by brave women, honest railway-men, and engine drivers. Hidden in villages, terrorised towns, in hundreds and hundreds of families, there flickers the little flame that we have lit...

It is this which angers and worries the usurpers. The great eastern eye whose spell has been unable to subdue us, watches us wickedly. Wherever we go, it follows us, spies on us, threatens us. The other day when I was at the house of a friend, armed soldiers took possession of the staircase, a watch was placed in her ante-room, and finally the place was searched.

In our home too we get a queer lot of visitors. Yesterday two soldiers wanted to come in. The maid, whom I have forbidden to open the door to anybody, asked them what they wanted. They enquired whether this was not an office, and whether we had the telephone laid on. The girl answered through the closed door that this was her ladyship Madame Tormay's flat, not an office.

" There are no more ladyships, " they shouted back. The girl went away and left them there, and for a long time they continued ringing and knocking the door.

This morning when I went to say good morning to my mother I found a young Jew in uniform standing at the door of my room. We never discovered how he got in.

" What do you want ? " I asked.

" I have come to requisition lodgings. "

At this I lost all control over myself.

" Enough of that, " I exclaimed. " Clear out ! "

He looked at me rather frightened, and began to stutter.

" There is not a day that you don't intrude here, "

I went on. " This is our home, all that is left to us. Leave it alone ! "

He collected his papers quickly and went away. I had a presentiment afterwards that this young man would give us trouble for having been shown the door, so I went to my mother and told her what had happened. She laughed and replied, " I showed one the door the other day too. " That decided me to go to the Housing Office and to obtain, somehow or other, protection for our house.

After a fight I managed to get on a tram. At this time the Housing Office under the direction of the Social Democrat Garbai had already taken up its quarters in the House of Parliament, where the Lords used to sit.

The beautiful marble staircase of the House of Parliament was indescribably dirty. Its walls were besmeared with coloured pencil scrawls, and red inscriptions defiled the columns, such as " Long live the republic ! " " Long live Social Democracy ! " All their offices are like that. Public buildings sink with incredible rapidity into this dirty state. I have not been there myself but was told by people who have that the royal castle, the so called national palace, is as unswept and filthy as a railway station in the Balkans. In the small drawing-room of Maria Theresa cigarette ends and sausage skins litter the floor. The beautiful old stoves are nearly burst with the coal that is crammed into them, the walls around them are stained with smoke, the valuable old tables are covered with ink blotches, and at them our new administrators sit in their shirt sleeves.

I stood hesitating for a moment in the bespattered corridor of the House of Parliament. People rushed past me, but nobody could give me any information, so I knocked at a door haphazard and entered an untidy office. A tall unkempt man was bending over a writing-table, a fat one stood beside him, and there were some others lounging about. They sent me away, so I went into the next room, and found the same type of people, who spoke to me just as sharply and also sent me away. Corridors, ante-rooms, offices, offices and offices again, and everywhere the same type of face—as if they had all been cast in the same mould.

I went on, though I now began to feel uncomfortable, and very lonely; I felt as though I had been abandoned among these strangers. It was only then that I realised what was happening in the public offices of Hungary. My discomfort changed into fear, and I began to run but could not find my way out. My head began to reel, and I staggered out into the corridor. The stairs were opposite me, and I rushed down them and met a commissionaire at the bottom. He was Hungarian, the only Hungarian I had yet met in the whole place.

" Where is the Treasury ? " I asked him. I had a friend in that office, which was the reason I was looking for it.

The commissionaire looked at me in astonishment; I must have looked rather queer.

" Yes ?—there ?... Thank you ! " and I rushed on. I passed through an ante-room and then I found myself among friends.

" What has happened to you ? You are as white as a sheet. "

" I got lost among the many new offices. I was sent from one room to another, and everywhere the same faces glared at me. All the rooms of the House of Lords are full of them. They have overrun every inch of the House of Parliament. Our people are nowhere. Good God, are those people in sole possession everywhere ? "

" Everywhere... " came the gloomy answer. I buried my face in my hands, and wept bitterly.

........

February 15th-18th.

I have just heard the true reason why the Archduke Joseph took the oath of allegiance to the National Council. Michael Károlyi, Count Theodore Batthyány and Kunfi went to him, and Károlyi pledged his word that he would hand the command of the army over to the Archduke if only he would take the oath. At that time this would have meant the saving of the nation : the armed forces in the hands of Archduke Joseph. The Archduke made the sacrifice and took the oath. But those who have lied as no men have ever lied in this world before, who have cheated the country with the stories of their friendship with the Entente and their loyalty to the King, who have cheated the nation and the army with their promises of a good peace—they cheated the Archduke Joseph too. While they were taking his oath of allegiance at the Town Hall the army which they promised him was being shattered by Linder in front of the House of Parliament.

All lies... But lies are like a bridge without banks to support it, which must break down...

The friend who had warned me before of impending peril came again. He entered cautiously and looked round continually while he was speaking.

" Look out, " he said in a whisper. " Give up all your activities, give up this organising; you are being watched with grave suspicion. It would be a pity if they took you. I like your books : you will still be able to go on writing beautiful things if you take care. But you won't if you go on like this. There are many of us who would dig you out of a grave with their bare hands, but they will get you into one. Joseph Pogány said yesterday ' We will settle Cecile Tormay's little business.' "

I thanked him for the advice, knowing all the time that I should not follow it. Destiny decides people's fate when it puts patriotism into their hearts. The more of it it gives, the harder their fate.

In the evening I overheard from my room a curious conversation on the telephone. Our housekeeper was telephoning to her fiancé, who, she tells me, is a chauffeur. She is a good-looking woman, and in January she left our service over a question of wages, but a short time later asked to be taken back, although we could only raise her salary slightly. At the time I didn't see anything very remarkable in that; but since I have heard this conversation over the telephone I have begun to wonder what her reason for coming back could be. This is what she said :

" Hello, hello, is that you ? Back again ? No engine trouble ? Yes. In Kiskunhalas too !... And you took many arms, machine guns too ? Did you catch them ? Officers, you say ? "

I was rather alarmed. So they had captured one of the arsenals which the counter-revolution had established in the country. I feared for the safety of the others. Only later did I think of ourselves. Who was this woman's fiancé ? Whose chauffeur was he ? My suspicions were aroused. But the time when one can dismiss a servant is past, unless it be the servant's good pleasure to go. I remembered letters I had asked her to post, which never reached their destination. I also remembered that whenever I receive visitors she crosses the ante-room as if accidentally. Is it accidental ? I must watch her... As I stood pondering she came and stood in the doorway with a letter in her hand.

" It's very confidential, " she said, looking at me rather queerly. " The man who brought it wanted to deliver it into your own hands only. "

" Some beggar, I suppose " ... I replied indifferently ; but I could see that she did not believe me.

The envelope contained an invitation. Tomorrow afternoon Count Stephen Bethlen's party will be formed at last.

........

February 19th.

We walked fast, in Indian file, through the rainswept streets. From the dilapidated gutters of the houses the water poured here and there on to our necks. The shop windows were empty. Soaked red posters screamed from the walls : " To-morrow afternoon we must all be in the streets. "

" This means that we had better not, " I said when, opposite the Opera, we got into the finest street in Budapest. The wooden pavement was full of holes ankle-deep in water, for at night our respectable citizens fetch wood from this pavement for their fires.

Everything visible is bleak and shabby, and outside the town the whole country is in the same state. The Czechs have annexed Pressburg, and they turned the protest meeting of its inhabitants into a bath of blood. A little boy climbed a lamp-post and tried to stick up a tiny Hungarian flag. The Czech soldiers shot him down as if he were a sparrow, and little paper flag and little boy fell together on the pavement. The embittered crowd then attacked the soldiers with their bare hands; the soldiers called for reinforcements and began a regular massacre from street to street. When Colonel Baracca, the Italian commander of the Czech garrison, attempted to get his men back to the barracks they broke his head with the butts of their rifles. And as the Czechs behave in the highlands, so do the Serbians down in the plain, and worse than both, the Roumanians in Transylvania. They flog ladies, priests, old men, in the open street. They hang and torture, cut gashes into the backs of Hungarians, fill them, with salt, sew the bleeding wounds up, and then drive their victims with scourges through the streets. Meanwhile the voluntary Székler and Hungarian battalions are appealing in vain for help from the War Office, so that they may at least save their people. But William Böhm and Joseph Pogány refuse it, Károlyi makes speeches on pacificism, and Béla Kún proclaims class war in the barracks of Budapest.

There is dynamite underground. We hear stifled explosions every day. It was in this charged atmosphere that Count Bethlen made his declaration concerning his party's policy.


CHAPTER XVI.

February 20th-22nd.

As one looks back on distant days they seem to melt into one like a row of men moving away, and yet they passed singly and each had its own individuality. Long ago the days smiled and were pleasant, now all that is changed. One day stares at us, frigid, relentlessly, another turns aside, and one feels there is mischief in its face; some of them look back threateningly after they have passed by.

Such are the present ones. When they have passed they still look back at us and mumble something that sounds like " there is worse to come. " We refuse to believe it, our common-sense revolts against the prophecy, because our common-sense has come to the end of its power of enduring misfortune. Even jungles come to an end, and if they do not we tear a path through the tangle of their thorns, tread them down, and, at the price of whatever wounds and loss of blood, regain the open country.

The masses have lost their illusions concerning Károlyi's republic, for they are colder and hungrier than ever. History always reaches a turning point when there is no more bread and misery becomes past endurance. Logically there must be a change, and what change could there be but the resurrection of the country ? Hope, which has come to naught, must become a reality in March... At any rate we flatter ourselves with this belief, so that we may find strength for life and work though the streets whisper a different tale, nay, sometimes they shout it aloud, and last Thursday they baptised it with blood to prove that they meant it.

Béla Kún's staff has called the work-shirking rabble together. One day they stir the people up against the landlords, next day they agitate among the disbanded soldiers to induce them to raise impossible claims; to-day it was the turn of the unemployed.

Potatoes are rotting in the ground and last year's maize cannot be gathered. There is nobody in the town to sweep the streets, to cart the garbage, to carry a load. At the railway station starving officers do porters' work. The evicted officials of occupied territories hire themselves out as labourers on farms. Meanwhile at their meetings the Communists court the idle rabble : " You have lost your jobs in consequence of the terrible bath of blood; the time has come to get your own back; up, to arms ! "

So the mob went to Visegrád Street, where Béla Kún and his friends stirred it up still more and finally provided it with arms. With wild screams the furious crowd thereupon poured out into the boulevard, armed women, young ruffians with hand-grenades. " Long live Communism, " rose the shout. Somebody exclaimed : " Let's go to the ' People's Voice ! ' " And the crowd, which had learned from the Socialists how to sack the editorial offices of Christian and middle-class newspapers, went on to storm the offices of the all-powerful organ of Social Democracy. The destructive instinct knows no bounds. The alarmed secretariat of the Socialist party appealed for help to the police and the armed forces, but before the sailors and the people's guard had reached the street its pavement was covered with blood. Fifty constables awaited the crowd in a street; shots fired by the mob were the signals for a mad fusillade; from windows and attics machine-guns were trained on the unfortunate police and a shower of hand-grenades fell on the building of the ' People's Voice.' It was a well prepared battle, the first real test of the Communists' power.

It failed... The Communist leaders remained in the background, and the rabble, left to itself without guidance, abandoned the field with such a bloody head that all desire for further fighting has gone out of it for the present. It is said that the dead in this street battle numbered eight, and that over a hundred injured had to be admitted to hospital.

It was late in the evening and we could still hear wild firing going on in the direction of the fight. Even late at night occasional rifle shots were heard. Then came the news in Friday's papers that at daybreak the Communist leaders had been arrested. Szamuelly's room was found empty; on the table lay a piece of paper and on it was written : " Dear Father, don't look for me; there is trouble, I must fly. " Most of the others were captured : Béla Kún was taken in his flat, and at the prison the policemen, infuriated by the death of their comrades, beat him within an inch of his life, indeed he only saved it by shamming death, and the constables left him in his cell without finishing him off.

In consequence of the attack on the ' People's Voice' the Social Democratic party declared a general strike. All work was forbidden, the traffic stopped in the capital's main streets, the shop shutters put up, and even the cafés and restaurants were closed. The town looked as if it had gone blind; all along the streets closed grey lids covered its eyes of glass. There was no traffic at all. All vehicles had disappeared, and nothing but machine guns passed along the roads. At the various corners of the boulevards soldiers lounged beside their piled rifles.

There were processions everywhere. I met one group, advancing under a red flag and consisting of well over a thousand people, most of them wearing white aprons smeared with patches of blood. They swung huge axes, knives, and choppers over their heads, and all were covered with blood. They looked as if they had murdered half the town, and wherever they went they shrieked : " Long live the proletarian revolution ! "

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" Who are these kindly people ? " I asked a hag with the face of a witch, who was cheering them enthusiastically from the pavement.

" The butchers' guild, " she said proudly; " Social Democrats, every one of them... "

Nor were the Communists idle. Armed bands of them threatened the police stations and prisons; supporting their demands with hand-grenades and clamouring for the immediate release of their leaders and the delivery into their hands of the constables who had beaten Béla Kún.

Meanwhile something was going on in the dark. The tone of the Social Democratic press has changed suddenly and now the Government threatens the counter-revolution with more vehemence than before, asserting that the formation of a new party by Count Stephen Bethlen is a more sinister crime than the murderous attempts of the Communists. With a sharp change of attitude, ' The People's Voice ' asks for the punishment of the constables who ill-treated Béla Kún, and writes threateningly of Bethlen's party and the National Association of Hungarian Women : " Through the one of them the men, through the other the women raise their voices, and because the revolution has not yet made use of the gallows, they give as shameless and impudent an accent to their appeals as if the gallows were absolutely excluded from among the weapons of defence the revolution might use... "

And while the official paper of the Social Democrats writes like this, the evening paper, Az Est, which for the last few months has boasted of having been the principal agent in preparing and bringing about the October revolution, now seeks to inspire the minds of its readers in favour of another revolution by exciting sympathy and pity for Béla Kún.

Every day the attitude of the Government becomes less comprehensible. It is openly said in town that Károlyi is in communication with the Communists. He telephoned orders that the leaders should be well cared for in prison, and then sent messages to them through his confidants, Landler and Jeszenszky, and made his wife pay them a visit. Countess Michael Károlyi, accompanied by Jeszenszky who is called Károlyi's aide-de-camp, went to see Béla Kún in the prison to which he had been transferred. She actually took him flowers, and saw to it herself that the arrested Communists were provided with spring mattresses, feather beds, blankets, good food, and tobacco.

Károlyi, the guilty megalomaniac, becomes more and more of an enigma. He wanted to rule; to attain power he had to ruin poor, befooled Hungary and make an alliance with every enemy of the country. It was cruel logic, disgraceful, but it was logic. But that he should now ally himself with the enemies of his own power seems to indicate softening of the brain. And this same feeble-mindedness manifests itself daily in all his declarations and pronouncements in a more grotesque shape, in him as well as in his wife. The stories about them become more and more extravagant.

The other day he had a kinematograph film taken of his projected entry into the royal castle, yet dares not have it exhibited. He had a stage erected, red carpets were laid, lacqueys in court livery stood in a row, and he made his state entry with his wife, assisted by some actors. Something went wrong with the film, so they started anew and played the whole comedy over again.

Then there is the tale about Countess Károlyi's attempt to play the ministering angel. She had the royal table linen cut to pieces, and the stiff, hard damask with the royal arms and crown on it was sent to proletarian infants to be used as pilches !

The other day the military band was playing in St. George's square. It struck up the ' Marseillaise.' As if by magic, a window of the Prime Minister's residence opened, and Countess Károlyi leaned out and waved her hand. Then the band began to play the Hungarian national anthem; Countess Károlyi retired at once and shut her window in a hurry.

Receptions are organised up in the castle. Real Hungarian society, which lives in retirement, practically in mourning, has severed all contact with the Károlyi's; but they have found a remedy for this. Their receptions are reported in the newspapers, and among those mentioned as being present are people who cut them in the street. The other day, to my consternation, I found my own name in one of the lists, but when I tried to protest through the press no newspaper would print my letter.

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A few days ago Károlyi gave a state dinner in honour of two Italian gentlemen, who, as simple private individuals, had come to visit some relations here; it surpassed everything that bad taste had ever produced. The country is in mourning, there is no coal, and in many houses people lack even candles and oil; yet the castle was a blaze of light. The ministers of the republic were present with their wives, and dinner was served in the hall where the picture of the coronation of 1867 is hanging. The table was covered with linen bearing the monogram of Francis Joseph, and the plates were marked with the royal crown. Thus, in the royal castle, among the memories of kingship, on royal plate, the so-called president of the republic entertained the astonished foreigners who had expected to be the guests of a Hungarian nobleman and found that they had fallen in with a ridiculous parvenu. They related their adventures next day and carried the story back to their own country as a huge joke.

The Károlyi's have parted with everything that could support them. It is said of them that they gave asylum to Szamuelly, the murderer of Hungarian officers, when he escaped the other day. Michael Károlyi started his career with lies, continued it with dishonour, and now has landed in the mire. If he is not stopped somehow it is likely that he will drag the whole nation down with him.

........

February 23rd.

Past midnight. I said good-night to my mother; the street is silent, and my room is cold.

How often have I, at this table, imagined destinies that existed only in the author's mind, and while I wrote the story brought the children of my fancy to very life ! But now life is harder than the destinies which I ever imagined, and more than once of late my real existence has seemed to me like some fantastic tale, beheld from the outside, as though at a distance...

This morning the newspapers have published a new law just passed by the Government to oppose all attempts at a counter-revolution. It empowers the Government to put ' out of harm's way ' any one who is, in their opinion, dangerous to the achievements of the revolution or to the popular republic. This means that anyone of us who is obnoxious in their eyes can be arrested without any further preliminaries. It was about midday when my telephone, which has been mute for a long time, raised its voice. A cousin of mine was speaking, and her voice, though she was obviously making efforts to appear calm, was excited.

" Knöpfler would like to speak to you. Important—Urgent. "

" Why doesn't he come here, then, ? "

" He cannot come now. Mother-in-law keeps an eye on him. Come to us, we will meet in the street. "

She put the receiver down. Among ourselves we always refer to the police as ' mother-in-law.'

I wonder what has happened. What has Gömbös, the leader of the Awakening Hungarians, to tell me ? (Knopfler is his nom de guerre.) I saw in the paper yesterday that on the proposal of the Minister of War the Government had decided that his society should be dissolved.

I never leave home without saying good-bye to my mother. " Come home early, " she said when I took leave. I was going to lunch with some relations. My mother knew this, and yet she seemed anxious.

" I needn't go if you don't want me to. I can make some excuse. "

" No, you just go along, " she said, and her expression changed suddenly. " You know, it does us old people good to be alone sometimes. Then we are with our own contemporaries who are no more. You go along to your own contemporaries who are still here. "

She said this so sweetly that it made me feel as if a solitary Sunday dinner were a treat for her. She achieved her end, I went with a lighter heart.

A cold wind blew down the street. My cousin and her husband came to meet me, and a short distance behind them Gömbös followed. " We'll go a few steps with you, "  they said, and Gömbös came to my side.

" The cabinet council decided yesterday, " he whispered, " to intern us. Count Bethlen, Colonel Bartha, Bishop Count Mikes, Wekerle... and you. "

Again I had that feeling that it did not concern me, and I listened indifferently.

" Károlyi is at Debrö and the warrant lies on his table waiting for his signature. Well, what do you think of it ? "

" Nothing, " I answered, and was surprised to find how little it affected me; " I am just thinking who will carry on in our place. "

They went with me for a short distance and then we parted. I walked across the town, for I wanted to be alone and think : I had to make plans and arrange my affairs for all eventualities. A thousand questions crowded into my mind, and yet I found no time to take any decision, because I was thinking all the while of my mother, and of her only.

When I told my hosts, over the coffee, the news I had just received, their faces seemed to reflect the danger that stood behind me.

Evening was drawing in when I reached home. As I stepped into the ante-room the telephone bell rang, and when I answered it a friend spoke to me in the secretive way that has now become habitual.

" The dressmaker has come with the new fashion papers. She is going straight to you, please don't leave home until you have seen her. "

A few minutes later her husband arrived. He had heard it at his club...

" You will probably be arrested to-night. What are your plans ? Your friends, I understand, don't want to escape. "

" I shall stay too, " I said, and thanked him for his kindness. Meanwhile, my brother Géza had arrived, then a friend and his wife, and finally Gömbös.

It was now nearly ten o'clock. My mother called me : supper had been waiting on the table for a long while. The others had already supped, so I left them and joined my mother. I ate rapidly, and she watched me closely.

" What is going on here ? Why have they come ? Is anything wrong ? Don't hide things from me. "

I tried to reassure her, though I saw clearly she did not believe me. She sighed. " Well, go along to your friends, but don't keep them too late. "

Soon they rose to go with the exception of Gömbös.

" It has been decided by the others, " he said, " that none of you will flee. They only send me... I shall help from abroad. "

We fixed up everything. Gömbös rose, took his society's badge from his button-hole : an oak wreath on white ground with ' For the honour of our country ' on it, and handed it to me. " Take this as a souvenir, nobody has a better right to wear it than you. "

" God bless you; if we live I am sure we shall hear of you, " I said at the door.

They left me and I heard the street door shut. I wondered whether anyone was lying in wait for him, down there in the dark, and listened for a time at the window, but the steps went undisturbed down the street.

I went to my mother. I don't remember ever having seen her so excited. " Now why don't you tell me ? "  she cried. " I know that something has happened. "

" Gömbös came to take leave; he is flying the country. "

I changed the subject as soon as possible. We chatted a long time and by and by she calmed down. Or did she only pretend, for my sake ? No, she never showed anything but what she felt.

Slowly the clocks struck midnight. And here I am sitting at my writing-table and, instead of imagining destinies, am occupied by my own. Who knows whether I shall still be free to write to-morrow what I leave unwritten to-day ?

I packed the most necessary things into a small valise. Again the clocks struck : they are knocking at the gate of the morrow.

........

February 24th.

The news of the internments has spread all over the town. I was afraid my mother might hear from someone else what was in store for me, so I decided to tell her myself. She is not one of those whom one has to prepare for bad news. When I told her, she went a little pale, and, for a time, held her head up more rigidly than usual. But her self-control never left her and she remained composed. She blamed nobody and did not reproach me for causing her this sorrow.

" You did your duty, my dear; I never expected anything else from you. " More approval than this she had rarely expressed.

I remained at home the whole afternoon, sitting with my mother, and we talked of times when things were so very different from what they are now. If the bell rang, if the door opened or steps approached, I felt my heart leap. In the afternoon a motor car stopped in front of the house. For a time it throbbed under our window... Had it come for me ?

We have come to this, that in Hungary to-day those who dare to confess to being Hungarians are tracked down like game. In the Highlands it is the Czechs, in Transylvania the Roumanians, in the South the Serbians, and in the territory that remains to us it is the Government who persecutes the Hungarians.

The bell... Nothing, only a letter. Those who have never tried it cannot imagine what it feels like to have ceased to be master of one's freedom and to be waiting for strangers to carry one off to prison.

I spent the evening with my mother and, as of old, I followed her if she went from one room to another : I did not budge from her side. After supper I showed her a packet of letters which I wanted her to hide among her own things, so that they might not be found if there was another search. The letters had nothing to do with politics : they were old, faraway letters which one never reads again yet does not like to burn, because it is comforting to know that they still exist—dead letters of past springs. I should have been horrified if rough strange hands had touched them.

" Put them there, " my mother said and pointed to the glass case with the green curtains. As I pushed the little packet in at the back of the highest shelf I noticed a big box with a paper label on it. Written on it in her clear handwriting was " Objects from the old china-cabinet. "

" May I have a look at these ? " I said. She nodded.

It was as though I had received all the desires and forbidden toys of my childhood; I pressed the box against me. Then we put our heads together over the table, in the light of the shaded lamp... Suddenly the high white, folding doors of the old house where I had spent my childhood opened quietly, mysteriously, one after the other, and as by sweet magic I saw again the old room of long ago and the china cabinet near the white fire-place, under the old picture in the gilt frame...

Slowly and carefully we unwrapped the little objects that had slept so long in their tissue paper. My mother had packed them away when we had come here and when there was no room in the smaller china cabinet of our diminished dwelling. Since then I had never seen the treasures of my childhood, and as the years went by they lay enshrined and undisturbed in my memory.

The tiny Marquis de Saxe held up his white be-wigged head; there was my great-grandfather's snuff box, which could play a tinkling little tune; the Empire lamp in pseudo-Greek style, and a long-necked scent bottle, which to this very day contained the ghost of a perfume of long ago. There was the old Parisian card-case in the silky glory of the Second Empire, the century-old miniature writing-table of mother-of-pearl and the bucket of the same material with a tiny landscape painted on it. In a separate paper were souvenirs of dinners at Francis Joseph's court : petrified sweets, with Queen Elizabeth and her fan stuck on them, the old King when he was still young, Archduke Rudolph with Stephanie's fair head at his side. Among other things there was a little carriage, standing on a silken cushion and containing golden flagons and bunches of grapes. Next I found the gold filigree butterfly. Then there came a little porcelain group of marvellous beauty : on a little toilet-table sat a tiny monkey who was looking into the looking-glass; behind him stood a group of laughing rococo ladies, and their whispering heads were reflected in the mirror too.

Suddenly I instinctively put my hands behind my back.

" Do you remember, mother ? We always had to put our hands behind our backs when we looked at this. " We began to laugh, both of us, and at that moment there was nothing else in this whole wide world that mattered. And through the open white doors I saw myself, a mischievous fair child, on tiptoe, looking up with religious awe, and I saw my beautiful young mother, with the porcelain monkey-group in her hand.

" Do you remember ?... " And memory kindly took us back to happy, quiet times. My mother said :  " I brought this from Paris in '61, this was given me by my mother, the pair of this one was bought by the Empress Eugénie... " At the bottom of the box there was a little packet. And there, at the very end I found again my forgotten love : a lady in a yellow dress, my favourite bit of china. But I was disappointed with it now. It had no mark and its origin was unknown. It was curious that in childhood's days she seemed to have been much more beautiful in her yellow, china crinoline. She stood on the spread edges of her crinoline and for that reason she had no need of feet. Her hair was brown and her waist ridiculously slender.

While I was looking at her, steps resounded in the quiet street and stopped in front of the house. Then the front door bell rang. That sound dispersed all the magic that had surrounded us. The picture of childhood fell in ruins and the folding doors of the old house shut one after the other.

My mother's hand remained on the table. She sat motionless in the green armchair and turned her head back a little as if listening. We did not speak a word, yet knew that we were thinking of the same thing. The silence was so absolute that we could hear the steps of the concierge going towards the door. The key turned. There was talking down below. And then we could hear the steps coming up the stairs. Would they stop at the first floor for us, or would they go on ? We held our breath to hear the better.

The steps went on.

My mother's rigid attitude relaxed, and she leant back in the arm-chair. " What can the time be ? " she said after a while. I was packing away the treasures of the old china cabinet, one after the other. Should we ever see them again ? They might be smashed, they might be carried off. I took leave of them, one by one. Nowadays one is for ever taking leave...

........

February 25th.

What are they waiting for ? The night has passed, so has the day, and I am still free. Nobody has been arrested yet. Pogány insisted on the arrests being made, and Böhm proposed them to the cabinet council, which accepted the proposal unanimously. The fate of the arrested Communists was settled unanimously too. They were to be detained only for the sake of appearances, not to protect the town from them, but to protect them from the vengeance of the police.

Since Baron Arco's bullet laid low Kurt Eisner, the Jewish tyrant of Bavaria, the Government has been getting more and more nervous. Since the Soldiers' and Workers' Council in Munich decided for the Dictatorship of the proletariat, the Communists party here is getting more audacious every day. Red news comes from Berlin, from Saxony, and, like a distant earthquake, it shakes our town.

Notwithstanding the request of the Entente, the date of the elections for the National Assembly has again been postponed. Perhaps in March, or in April... If it's delayed so far the fight will be hard. The party at present in power is employing unheard-of stratagems. The achievements of the revolution : freedom of the press, freedom of thought and of opinions, freedom of association and meeting, all these exist only for them. Our opinion has no longer a press. One newspaper dared to raise the question of shirking work, and the gigantic amount paid out in unemployment doles; the Communists demolished its offices. Then came the turn of another which had attacked Hatvany's book, the chronicle of their revolution. Others followed, and the plant of their printers was wrecked too.

The same sinister spirit which directed destruction fell like a strangling nightmare on the mind and brain of the press. Even journalists, whose patriotic feelings were opposed to it, were forced to join a Trade-Union. By means of the Trade-Union, three Jews became the dictators of the written word. All the well-disposed papers and printers were silenced, and the Hungarian spirit was banished from the journalists' club. When the Markgrave Pallavicini tried to make a breach in the Communist and Social Democratic stronghold by purchasing an existing paper, the terror had already reached such a pitch that Fényes turned up with his armed sailors to prevent him from taking possession of it. After this it was obvious that abolition of the freedom of the press was being achieved with the aid of the same Government which had crushed the freedom of assembly by means of Red soldiers, and the freedom of opinions by the means of the ' popular law ' of internments. We are not even allowed to assemble : our meetings are broken up by the same Red soldiers who demolish the editorial offices. And yet the Socialists dare not appeal to the country, for who knows what answer it might give ?

They promised to bring the country happiness. Hungary has never been unhappier than now. Public opinion in the Provinces has lately turned entirely against them. They had to do something, so they produced the mirage of land distribution; and Károlyi, who had previously taken up a mortgage of several millions on his property, went out with a noisy following to his estate at Debrö and, before a kinematograph camera, received the claims of tenants on the land which was laden with debts and did not really belong to him any longer. An old peasant was elected to present his claim first : an old servant of the Károlyi estate. In a lofty speech Károlyi sang his own praise. The old peasant answered. Unfortunately he was not allowed to say what he wanted to : he had been carefully coached, but even so he made a slight slip in his address. " I have served the Károlyi family to the third degeneration... " They stopped him then. The Social Democrats sent their delegates to this theatrical distribution of land. They feel that if they don't succeed in fooling the level-headed agricultural population of Hungary they will lose the election. In many villages the Social Democratic agitators are driven away with broken heads. It is the women who enrage the people against them : " Blasphemers, sans patrie ! "

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But a thing like that does not embarrass the Social Democrats : they adopt a disguised programme for the rural districts. Since one of the leaders of the broken-up small-holders party, Stephen Szabó of Nagyatád, has joined the Károlyi government in Budapest the Socialist propaganda has appropriated the patriotic and religious mottoes of that party. The Red Jewish agitators, before addressing the people, kneel down on the platform, make the sign of the cross and pretend to say their prayers. Then they start like this : " Praised be the Lord Jesus Christ, we too, Social Democrats, believe in the all-powerful God... "

Notwithstanding the threats of the new ' popular law' the various Protestant and Catholic women's organisations bravely carry on their work. The National Association had a meeting this morning. The whole committee was present, not one was missing ; it seemed like a deliberate demonstration. These women can be great and noble. Is this to be our last meeting ?

" If anything happened, " I said, " and I were prevented from coming again, I should ask Elizabeth Kállay to take my place. If her turn comes, and she cannot be here any longer, let someone else take her place, and so on. The links of the chain must not be broken. "

There was stern resolution in our dark, insignificant little office.

Countess Raphael Zichy looked at me while she addressed the others : " There is one among us whom the Government wants to arrest. Let us decide that if this should happen, we shall go, with a hundred thousand women, up to the castle and claim to be arrested too, because we have all done what she has done. "

She was not laughing now. And in all the weary journey of this wintry world I have never been given anything more precious.

........

February 26th.

Early this morning the door bell rang. Steps tramped about the ante-room. A little later the little German maid came in.

" Two soldiers were looking for you, and asked if you were in town. They had an urgent message. I told them you were in town but had gone out. "

As she spoke I knew that they had come to find out if I had escaped. It is quite the custom nowadays ; they ring, inquire, and go. They follow me in the streets, and sometimes even walk behind me up the stairs.

It makes one feel like a cornered quarry. I'm beginning to wish that something would happen. If it has to be, let them arrest me; but this underhand spying gets on one's nerves. It is reported in town that I have already been arrested. The telephone bell is continually ringing—friends inquiring if I am still at home.

Later Count Bethlen came to tell me that the internments had been suspended after Szurmay, the former Minister of Defence, and Szterényi, the former Minister of Commerce, had been arrested. They went for them after midnight, arrested them and took them somewhere on the right bank of the Danube.

In the evening my mother and I played Patience. It is about the only old-time custom that is left to us now. To-morrow I shall have one more day at home... As for the day after—but in these times that is such a distant date that one dares not think of it if one wants to live.

February 27th.

Bishop Count Mikes has been arrested : his diocese waits for him in vain. Once there was an Archbishop down there in Kalocsa for whom the faithful in the Cathedral waited in vain too, when the time came for Mass. He had girded on his sword, had gone to do battle for Hungary, and had perished with his six bishops on the fields of Mohacs. But his spirit is not dead. It has appeared now and then in the history of Hungary, and to-day it is here again. Its name to-day is John Mikes.

Some of us who went to the Association this morning spoke of him. Suddenly the news came that Communist soldiers had run amok in the neighbouring street and were coming to break up the women's meeting.

" Let's go, " somebody suggested.

" I stay ! " And three others stayed with me to see it through. To save our rings and watches we handed them to one of those who left. There were shouts in the street. People were running about in the house. Then the noise subsided and the visit of the Reds did not come off.

In the afternoon I went to see the daughter of General Türr, the Hungarian who had been Garibaldi's right-hand man and one of the heroes of Italy's fight for freedom. It was rather a shock to see an Italian officer there, his chest covered with decorations. Where had he got them ? I thought of the Hungarian dead at Doberdo and San Michele. And I also remembered that the Czechs were at present using Italian rifles to beat out the brains of Hungarian peasants in Upper Hungary.

When the commander of the American troops landed in France he shouted : " Nous voila, Lafayette ! " ... When the Italian general who is leading the Czechs over the defenceless Carpathians stepped on Hungarian soil I wonder if he said, " Nous voila, Tüköry... nous voila, Türr !... "

My hand twitched when I gave it to Italy's soldier. And yet this stranger seemed a sympathetic, well-intentioned man. And Italy once was my second home, dear good friends of my youth live there and the fate of our two peoples has often taken a common road. We must forget, but it is still very hard.

We tried to inform Signora Türr of the situation, but Károlyi's ministers had preceded us. They had betrayed themselves. Signora Türr spoke of them with the greatest contempt and promised to inform her government of the country's desperate plight. " Why, what you have got here amounts practically to Bolshevism... " Practically !

........

February 28th.

It seemed quite unusual to have been in society again, without any serious cause or purpose, for nothing special, just as we used to in old times. Countess Mikes gave a tea party in honour of Stephanie Türr.

Loafing soldiers on the look-out gathered round the entrance when we arrived. Where are the old times ? Where are the homes that knew no care ? Electric lights dimmed in silken shades, the dainty lines of beautiful dresses, Paris scents, the smoke of Egyptian cigarettes; flowers, a shower of flowers—.

Now there are last Spring's dresses, dim light, scanty heating, cigarettes of a coarse tobacco. Scents exist no more, and in a wide-necked vase three miserable, sad flowers. Hungarian society no longer has a social life. Those who can amuse themselves in these times are not Hungarians. Salons are dead, they have become the meeting-place of embittered conspirators where people talk to each other and then look anxiously behind them. Practically every Hungarian house is spied upon by its own servants. We know it but cannot remedy it.

Everything has changed, even conversation. In former times it turned on human interests, music, theatres, books, distant towns, foreign countries, acquaintances. Now we ask each other " What was it like in jail ? Have they searched your house yet ? I thought you had been arrested. " And if somebody says " I'm glad to see you " it has a different meaning from what it used to have. Count Albert Apponyi passed smiling and came up and shook my hands warmly. " So you are still free !... "

I met Stephanie Türr once more before she left, and talked to her in the hall of the Hotel Bristol. She gave me a solemn promise; she will try to help us when she gets home. The Italian officer who had been given her as an escort for her personal safety, said nervously :

" Signora, you are watched. There are detectives here. " Then he spoke so low that I could hardly hear him. " E pericoloso, " and he winked and nodded to me. " Be careful, we can leave, but those unfortunates who remain here are playing with their lives. "

I felt as if there were only two kinds of humanity in the world : those who are happy and those who are unfortunate. And these foreigners look upon us as if they were looking, half in pity, half in curiosity, through the grating of a mortuary.


CHAPTER XVII.

March 1st-5th.

Winter is still with us, but the winds bring signs of awakening from afar. March... the month of fevers and commotions. On the earth fatigue and restlessness chase each other. Flooded rivers race along. There is no visible sign of it, yet spring is there somewhere over the horizon.

Whose spring is this to be ? Ours or theirs ? Signs of evil omen prophesy against us. The monster, raised from the dark by Károlyi's party in October, shows its head daily more boldly and now grips the city with innumerable tentacles. Its suckers pierce the flesh of Budapest, and where they fasten themselves the streets become convulsed, and, like blood, red flags trickle out of the houses.

The Galileists openly avowed at their last meeting that they are Communists. At the instigation of Maria Goszthonyi and a Jewish Communist woman the Socialist women demonstrated in the Old House of Commons against the religious and patriotic spirit in the schools. On the initiative of John Hock, himself a priest, orators clamoured in favour of abolishing the Catholic priests' celibacy. Revolutionary orders from the War Office and the Soldiers' Council spread all over the country. Pogány has sent instructions to the various military detachments that they should, with the help of the confidential men, elect officers of the most advanced political opinions and dismiss the others.

In the Town Hall the Workers' Council has now passed sentence of death on the system of small holdings and on the distribution of land. This distribution would at least have left Hungarians to some extent possessed of their birthright. But that would have retarded the plans of our new conquerors. So they want to socialize it and create producers' co-operative Societies, controlled from Budapest, and directed, instead of by the old Hungarian landlords, by people who, as Kunfi said : " are inspired by the new spirit of Hungary. " They want to achieve the revolution of the soil even as they achieved their political revolution. After the wheel, they want to lay hands on the ship itself.

Outside the walls, no less than inside, the red plague is spreading. I remember the first red flag hoisted. It hung alone for a long time, then it was followed by others. The rebellion of October ordered the beflagging of the town. The perpetrators of that crime commanded an obscene display of joy in the hour of our great disaster, and Budapest donned in cowardly fashion the festive decoration imposed upon her, while the country was being torn to pieces all around. In the days that followed she did not dare to remove it : she stood there, beflagged, during the downfall, under the heel of foreign occupation, like a painted prostitute, and the national colours became antagonistic to our souls, an insult to, a mockery of, our grief. Though it sounds like the talk of a madman, I say that I began to hate the colours for which I would formerly have loved to give my life.

Now the red, white, and green flags are disappearing rapidly. But the soiled colours of the nation are not replaced in the country's capital by the black of mourning. Every day there are more and more red flags in the streets of this unprincipled town, which is always outrunning itself and stamping its past into the mud. Once I loved this town and wrote its romance, so that its people might learn to love it through my art[4]. Now I have become a stranger within its gates and have no communion with it. I impeach it and repudiate it.

And this accusation is not raised against the foreign race which has achieved power, which has attained its end by sheer perseverance, ingenuity, industry and pluck—but against Magyardom and the whole nation, who have, heedlessly, incapably and blindly, given up their own heart—the capital.

All past powers and governments are responsible for this. The reproach concerns to the same extent those politicians who are still debating about shades and won't see that to-day there are only colours, and won't feel that in a short time there will be no more colours, but only one colour, and that that one will be—red.

This bitter thought brought to my mind a Red soldier whom I saw when I was on duty at the railway station. Some armed men came into the hall where we have our Red Cross. They were commanded by a strapping young Hungarian. He stopped in front of me and asked me whether I had seen ninety-six men pass there. They came from Dees, were Whites, armed, and their track had been lost.

" I haven't seen them. " Then my eyes caught sight of his cap. A broad red ribbon was sewn round it. " What have you done with the red, white, and green one ? "

" We lost that on the Piave, " the soldier answered.

" There you lost the black and yellow one[5]. You have torn off our own colours yourselves. " As I said this I looked straight into his eyes. He couldn't stand my gaze : he snatched the cap from his head and hid it behind his back :

" Well, and you gentlefolk, why don't you ever give us a lead ? "

Many times have those words echoed in my ears since then, every time a soldier or a workman has flung at me the accusation of want of leadership. It seems to be a characteristic of our politicians and intellectuals.

........

March 6th.

An old woman stood on the edge of the curb and made queer, whining sounds. People looked at her and went on. A few street urchins jumped about her and laughed at her. When I came near I noticed that she was blind. She was making heartrending appeals out of her eternal darkness to the passers-by, and wanted to cross the busy street, but there was none to give her a helping hand. For a moment or two I looked at the people : they were mostly poor : labourers, labourers' wives. They passed unmoved, caring for none but themselves.

The community of Marxian proletarians came to my mind. Those teachings which kill human community kill class community too. The times which tear the Saviour from the cross crucify humanity in His place.

I took the old woman's arm and led her through the medley of trams and carriages.

" I am sure it is one of the gentlefolk who leads me, " the woman said; " our own people have become so cruel, even to their own kind... "

........

March 7th-8th.

I live from day to day. I have not yet been called before a tribunal. I am not arrested, but their accusations against me remain, nobody has torn up the warrant for my arrest. Why they hesitate about executing it I don't know, for I shouldn't trouble to ask them why they arrested me, and certainly wouldn't accept any intervention on my behalf. I wouldn't ask them for anything.

I am free, and yet I am not. I had intended to visit two provincial towns in the interest of the Women's Association, but I was warned that if I were to leave Budapest it would be considered flight, and I should be arrested. What am I to do ?

The elections are coming off shortly. I work too, though I don't believe in them. The situation would be just the same if, regardless of all intimidation, the patriotic masses were to secure a majority. Social Democracy is not particular about its means; it has roused the workmen with the story of the world-saving powers of the equal and secret ballot, and now when this has been obtained and it ought to submit to its judgment, the official Government journal says right out : " If Socialism were, for whatever reason, to lose the battle, it would be ultimately obliged to resort to arms against the counter-revolution... " The election can't help us. Something else will have to happen.

And it will happen. It is in the air. A monster cord is tightening round us, and when it snaps it will draw blood from those it strikes.

........

March 9th.

The red fist is raised higher every day and becomes more and more threatening. In a friendly way it points occasionally to the gallows, and then towards gaol. This morning it has again honoured me with its attention. The official paper of the Social Democratic headquarters, under the title ' The visiting Counter-Revolution, ' makes an onslaught on those who, without the knowledge of the Government, are communicating with the envoys of the Entente, and, in company with others, it calls me a counterrevolutionary spy.

Somebody gave me the paper on the staircase of the Protestant Theological College. The Evangelical students were giving a concert, and between the songs I was to give an address. The words of ' The People's Voice ' were still buzzing in my head when I stepped on the platform. I told the Protestant youths that every patriotic action which serves its purpose, that every patriotic word that hits the mark, regains a scrap of our torn country. The People's Voice accused me this morning of being a counterrevolutionary spy. I don't deny it, I try to inform foreign countries of the state of affairs by word of mouth and with my pen. I read an article of mine which a compatriot and his Swedish wife had taken to Stockholm for the Svenska Dagbladed. It was called : ' An appeal from a nation's scaffold.' I left it to my audience to decide whether that was counterrevolution or patriotism.

When I came to the end of my address a loud voice shouted : " We want a hundred thousand similar counter-revolutionaries ! " And the whole audience jumped up and took up the cry.

A wave passed over the hall, a wave which grows, spreads over the country, while from the other side there comes another wave coloured red. Which is faster, which will be the first to break the dyke ? It is all a question of time.

........

March 10th-11th.

The street was silent. There was no shooting last night and the obscene shouts of drunken patrols were not heard. It might have been about half past one when a cart came down the street and stopped at our front door. " Surely they have not come to fetch me in a cart ? " I thought, but all the same I collected my papers and stuck them under the bookcase. There was an odd noise below, as if something were being broken open. Then there followed steps carrying a heavy weight. The thought occurred to me that they might be robbing our cellar. I put out my lamp and went to the window. The street was practically dark, but I thought I could distinguish a cart and a few human figures.

What if they were stealing our coal ! The idea made me shudder. I ran to the concièrge, made him open the door, and went out into the street. The cart was standing at the cellar-stairs of the neighbouring house, where a carpenter had his workshop. The night birds were dragging furniture out of it. One of the dark figures stood in front of me : " Good evening, Miss, " he said.

" Good-evening, " I answered, and with the egotism bred of our times I was glad that it was not our cellar into which they had broken. " Goodnight, " I added politely. " Good-night, " came the answer.

Only when the door had shut behind me did I realise that these well-intentioned people might easily have knocked me down.

Such are the " Winter's Tales " enacted in the nights of Budapest...

........

March 12th.

In the name of the women of Hungary we made a last attempt to-day to unite the adherents of law and order. The leaders gathered at my house : we all realised that this was our last chance. And when at length, after long discussions, we women were left to ourselves, all we could do was to sum up our efforts in the words : " we have failed again ! "

Before going to bed the housekeeper brought her account books to my mother. She fixed her inquisitive eyes on me and said : " You look tired, miss. You've had so many visitors to-day ! Perhaps it was an important meeting ?... "

Instinctively I answered : " We discussed whether it would be possible to have the children's festival this year. " And then straight out, in self-defence, I asked : " Your fiancé, he is Pogány's chauffeur, isn't he ? "

She was taken aback by my sudden question and gave herself away :

" He carries Pogány sometimes, sometimes Böhm. "

That was just what I wanted to know.

........

March 13th.

Many people are stopping at the street corner, where a new poster is shrieking from the walls. It represents a giant workman bending over the Hungarian Parliament, at his feet a bucket of paint, and with a dripping brush he is painting the mighty mass of granite, which is our House of Parliament, red. Above the picture is the appeal ' Vote for the Social Democratic party. '

The everlasting pile of stones, and—red paint... That sums it up completely—even more than was intended.

The other day we stuck up our tiny poster. It was a map of Hungary : on a white field the green frontiers, and above, in red letters; ' National Association of Hungarian Women. ' They are free to cover the walls with yard-long posters : ours was no bigger than a hand and took up little enough room, yet they could not tolerate it. I saw a little boy tearing them off.

" Why do you do that, sonny ? It does not hurt you. "

" I get twenty crowns a day to tear down those in national colours. "

All around us foreign invaders are tearing our country to bits with impunity. In the capital, hired little Hungarian boys destroy its image.

The future lacerating itself.

........

March 14th.

I think that has pained me more than anything else. The face of that boy has haunted me ever since I saw it. Whose contrivance is it that we should come to this ? A new teacher walks among the children, a devilish red shadow has mounted the teacher's desk. It takes away from us the last thing that remained to console us. It started many years ago in the factories, then it prowled about the barrack-squares, and now it invades the schools. It puts up " confidential " boys and girls in opposition to the teacher's authority and gives them everything they were not allowed to touch before. " It was all stupid lies, " it whispers incessantly, and gives them the idea of Divinity as a target for their pea-shooters, and the map of their country, with all it stands for, to make kites with. It even betrays their parents to them : " don't respect them ! " it says. " You are only the result of their lasciviousness. They only sought their own pleasure in your existence, and you owe them neither gratitude nor obedience. "

The devilish red shadow threatens morals with ever increasing impudence. " Let the human mind be set free, " said Kunfi, and he replaced religious teaching in the schools by the exposition of sexual knowledge. Jewish medical students and lady doctors give erotical lectures to little boys and girls, and, so as to make their subject quite clear, films are shown which display what the children fail to understand. I heard of two little girls who lost their mental balance in consequence of these lectures. Some children come home disgusted and fall in tears into their mother's lap. But there are also those who laugh and say horrible things to their parents. After robbing the land the theft of souls has started, and Jesus appeals in vain that the little children be allowed to come unto Him : they must go no more.

A woman came to our office to-day. " The children turn against me, " she complained, and her voice broke. " School has robbed me of their hearts. "

I tried to console her, but she only shook her head : " What has been defiled in the children's soul can never be cleansed again. "

I did not know what to say. After all, she was right.

........

Talk is buzzing behind me. Voices are raised. Somebody coming from Sopron says that the Austrians are covering the whole of West Hungary with their propaganda. The Czechs want a Slav corridor in those parts, right down to the Adriatic Sea. Another voice gives news of the British : " Don't you know ? They have decided that the whole navigation on the Danube is to pass into the hands of the Czechs, including all Hungarian vessels " ... " The Roumanians are advancing steadily, " says a whisper. " In Paris they cannot advance the line of demarcation as fast as they pass beyond it. "

In one county the Workers' Council has expelled the landlords and various estates have already been socialised. Young Jews from provincial towns now direct and control the old stewards and bailiffs who have grown old in hard work on the estates. One voice rose in alarm : " The Government is impounding all banking accounts and safe-deposits. There is a run on the banks. Something awful is going to happen. "

........

I looked at the woman near the window who was wiping the tears from her eyes. Lands, rivers, old estates, acquired fortunes, money, gold—they are lost, but they can be recovered. But what that woman is weeping for is lost for ever.

........

March 15th.

This is the 70th anniversary of our glorious revolution of 1848. During the period of Austrian absolutism which followed it the nation commemorated it in secret. Then once more the flowers of that day, the national flags, were allowed to be unfurled freely. Anthems, songs, speeches, processions with flags. For half a century March the 15th was a service at the altar of liberty.

This day has never passed so dull and mute as it has this year. The flags, which have practically rotted off their staffs in the last few months, have lately become rare, and to-day they have not reappeared. It is said that it was by request of the Communist party that the Government has repudiated this day, though it claims to be its spiritual descendant.

The town, quiet during the day, went to sleep early. The March wind blows cold and chases through dark empty streets. The shop-signs swing like black shadows, and the brass plates of barbers' shops dance in the air.

Our street sleeps too. Through its dream a step breaks now and then. In the next room the clock with the alabaster pillars strikes midnight in hesitating strokes. Who goes there, in this stormy night ?

I seem to see him. He is tall and wears an old-fashioned shabby dolman. His white shirt is folded over it, and the wind plays with the soft collar. His face is scarcely visible, so far has he drawn the cap over his eyes. He goes on and on, through empty, unfriendly streets. His spurs clink, and his big sword knocks against his boots. A motor races through the streets, its interior lit up by an electric bulb. A heavy-featured fat man leans back into the cushions. A patrol turns the corner. " Pogány, " says one of the men. The boots of Red soldiers tramp unsteadily on the pavement. They pass the man in the dolman, look in his direction, but see him not. His fluttering collar touches them, but they feel it not. And he just glares at the red gashes left on their caps where the national cockades have been torn off.

" What have you done with my rosettes ? "

His face turns paler than death. He goes on. His eyes wander over the empty flag-staffs between the red flags.

" What have you done to my flags ? "

His way takes him past some lighted windows. They are working up there in an editorial office. Red soldiers stand with cocked revolvers in front of the editorial table. They are the censors, and the rotary presses hum in the cellars. Compositors in linen overalls, besmeared with ink, lean over their work.

" What have you done with my free press ? What have you done with its freedom born in March ? "

He leans over the compositors' shoulders, and his eyes pass over the letters. They do not see him, nor hear him ; they go on composing the line : " Under the statue of Alexander Petőfi, Eugene Landler spoke of the significance of March 15th. The choir sang the Marseillaise. "

" What have you done with my songs ? "

He goes on again, dark and alone. He knows the streets, he knows the garden, the big quiet house with its pillars, between the rigid, wintry trees. He has reached the Museum. Under his hand the handle of the locked, barred gate gives way. The guardian wakes and looks out of his shelter. Nothing—it was a dream. The wind whistles, and the wanderer's collar flutters as he mounts the lofty stairs and stops at the top against the wall. He looks down, standing long immobile, and asks the winds why there is nobody to call : " Magyars ! Arise ! "

" Don't they know it here ? Who are the masters now, under Hargita and on the fields of Segesvár ? "

He is tired and would like to stretch himself at ease after the long sad road.

" To whom have you given my grave ? "

There is no rest and there is no place for him to go to, he whose ghost had led me through the town on this homeless fifteenth of March.

Oh let him go, let him go in silence, for should he remain here and raise his voice to-morrow the Government of ' Independent Hungary ' would arrest him as a counter-revolutionary[6].

........

March 16th.

I was at Fóth to-day, where I had intended to address the village women. But the bubbles rise no longer in the wine of Fóth. Spring has a heavy, foreboding atmosphere there to-day.

I went with two friends. Beyond the town white patches of snow were melting on the awakening black soil. The waters of winter flowed with a soft gurgle in the ditches.

" We cannot have a meeting to-day in the village, " I was told. " Another time, next week... there is a Social Democratic mass-meeting in the town hall, and a memorial service for those killed in the war at the cemetery. There is a lot of excitement, and I'm afraid the meeting of women would be interfered with. "

We listened to the speeches from a window of the town hall. They differed widely from Budapest's orations. Here, the half-hearted war-cries were shouted under the national colours and mixed with hero-worship. It was the same in the cemetery. Then suddenly a drunken soldier stood up on the mound of a grave. Hatred was in his face and dark threats poured from his lips : " Let the gentle-folk learn. We are going to teach them. They cheated the people, and drove them into death. But just you wait now that we have got the power... "

Night was falling when our crowded train entered Budapest. There were no cabs, they have been on strike for the last four days, and I couldn't get on to an electric car. A soldier shoved me aside and dragged me off the steps. I watched him pushing his way in among the passengers to make room for himself. Apparently somebody shoved him back, for he drew his revolver and began to shoot at random. The car stopped, the passengers jumped off, women shrieked and there was a panic.

I walked along the streets. Nearly everywhere the pavement was pulled up and here and there red warning lamps blinked near the holes, but there were no road-menders. I thought of an old engraving of the French revolution. In the picture there were narrow old houses, and between them barricades on which figures in tight check trousers, and with top hats, but without coats, were shooting with very long guns with fixed bayonets. Barricades ? Why, these paving stones practically offered themselves for that purpose.

What is it preparing for, this town which becomes stranger every day ? What is it scheming now, when nearly every voice in it has been silenced and only the mind of the rabble finds expression ? As I passed under the mass of the cathedral I looked up at its tower where a big bell hangs, high above all the towers and bells of the town. I remembered its voice. If only it might speak—but not to call to Mass. I want to hear it sound the tocsin, in desperate appeal...

........

March 17th-18th.

People speak to me and I answer them; what I say sounds quite natural, yet I am only partly there, only bodily; the rest of me is walking ahead of myself and counting the hours.

I made a speech at a meeting to-day, and then wrote letters in the office, after which I had a talk with the secretary. Perhaps people didn't notice that my mind is now haunted by a single idea, an expectant desperate idea. The secretary had been in the country... Bad news... He had spoken to Bishop Prohászka, who told him that a sharp plough is being prepared to tear up the soul of the Hungarian people. It will make a deep furrow, but it has to be, so as to make the ground the more fertile.

" It will be so, " I said, as if I had heard the words of the bishop with the soul of Assisi repeated in my dream.

........

The night between 19th-20th March.

The last embers died out in the fireplace : I began to shiver, yet I did not move. I sat in my chair in front of my writing-table and felt shudders running down my back.

I ought to have written my last manifesto in the name of the Association. I began it, but at the end of the first sentence the pen stopped in my hand, would not go on, drew aimless lines, and went on scratching when the ink had dried on it. Then it fell from my hand and rolled on the table. I took up a book at random, held it for a long time in my hands, and looked at its lettering. I don't know what it was. I closed it and shut my eyes. One hears better like that, and I am waiting.

The hours struck one after the other. Twelve, one, half-past one, a quarter to two... I put out the lamp and opened the window.

I went back to my table. The cold was streaming in through the open window and made me shiver.

The silence quivered, and it seemed to me as though a huge artery was throbbing in the air.

The clock struck two.

It is time now... Every nerve in my body was at high tension, my neck became rigid.

I don't know how long it lasted. I felt colder and colder. The clock struck again. Perhaps it was fast... About half an hour may have passed. My stiffness began to relax, as if the very bones of my body had melted; my head drooped.

So they have postponed it again !

It had been fixed for two o'clock this morning. We have arms enough, and the police and the gendarmery are on our side. But the signal did not come. The bells of the cathedral never sounded.

What has happened ? Will it sound to-morrow, or the day after ?

If only it is not too late...

........

March 20th.

The night of the counter-revolution had been fixed for so many dates and had been postponed so many times that hope began to tire. Will it ever come ? I thought. With an effort I roused myself from my weariness and concentrated my whole mind once more on expectation.

The town, too, seemed expectant, the very streets on the alert—at any rate so it seemed to me : there was an expectant silence in the very dawn. There were no newspapers—it is said that the compositors have struck for higher wages. I went to the bank. The Government has impounded all deposits, and no money is to be got anywhere. The shutters are drawn and the crowd outside pushes and swears in panic.

All sorts of rumours are flying about. Somebody reports that the Communist army is preparing something : disbanded soldiers are holding threatening meetings all over the suburbs, insisting on the release of Béla Kún and his companions. It is also reported that Michael Károlyi is planning something. In his hatred he had once sworn that he would destroy Tisza, even if the nation had to perish with him. Tisza is dead, but his soul has risen against Károlyi in the whole nation. And so Károlyi prepares a new vengeance. It is rumoured that this is not directed against Magyardom alone, which has regained consciousness and repudiates him, but also against the Entente, which will have nothing to do with him.

What is going to happen to us ?

I went to the meeting of the Party of National Unity this afternoon and exchanged a few words with Count Stephen Bethlen. He said that great changes are to be expected; the powers of the Entente had informed Károlyi through their representatives that they would show consideration to a level-headed Government. To give weight to their demand they threatened us through Colonel Vyx with new lines of demarcation. Count Bethlen thought the situation less desperate than it had been lately, and I was reassured for a time.

I came home with a friend through remarkably crowded streets. She lived a long way off and we were late, so she stayed with us for the night. I roused myself in the evening and we worked together on the women's manifesto. It was about midnight when my mother came in to us, and, as I usually do when I have written something, I asked her opinion and followed her advice. Then she drove us off to bed. When I was left alone I tried to allay my restlessness by polishing the manuscript. Thus the time passed. It was two o'clock.

Suddenly, I don't know why, yesterday's excited expectation came over me again. I looked up and thought I heard the clanging of a bell a great distance away. My throat became dry, and my heart beat madly. I threw the window open.

But out there all was hopelessly quiet. It was just an hallucination... For a while I leaned out into the cold, black street. A shot was fired. Then the night resumed its stillness.

" I can stand it no longer. " How often did we say that during the war ! Then came the protracted debacle of autumn; then winter, and our country was torn to pieces. We can't stand it... But we stood it. And who knows how much more we shall have to stand this spring ?

I leaned on the window-sill, and in the dark I began to see visions, as if I were dreaming a nightmare. Suddenly the visions became definite. I saw myself in a big ugly house, with unusually high windows, opening in its bare high walls. We were sitting in the last room, waiting for something which we could not escape. There was no door in the room leading into the open, and down there the gate was wide open, with nobody to guard it. Through the draughty porch steps came inwards, and nobody stopped them. They came up the stairs. For some time one door in the house opened after another. One more, and one more, each nearer than the last...

We can't stand it any longer... The minutes stretch to horrible infinity, and yet we cannot move, and expectation becomes terror. The steps are already hesitating at the last door. Something is happening there. Nobody is yet visible, but the door-handle moves, slowly, carefully, and then it creaks.

For God's sake open it. Let anything happen, whatever it is, but only let it happen !

........

March 21st.

Rain falls, and water flows from the dilapidated gutters. The drops beat on the metal edging of my window and sound as if a skeleton finger were knocking, asking for admittance.

The hall bell rang. It was Countess Chotek bringing a contribution for the Association. Then Countess Mikes arrived, though it was not yet nine o'clock. She whispered in my ear : " I have very bad news. I must speak to you. "

I took the money and we went out. She told me in the carriage that a reliable person had been present yesterday at a Communist meeting. The majority of workmen had gone over to the Communist party—the iron and metal workers had all gone over—and they had decided henceforth to oppose the parties in power and at the same time break down the counter-revolution.

Is the demoniacal magician who with his evil eye has cast a spell of suicidal lethargy over the whole nation now going to close his hand definitely on his benumbed prey ?

We went to the offices of the Association and had scarcely arrived there when Countess Louis Batthyány rushed in and signalled to me. We retired to a corner. It was only then that I noticed how thin and deadly pale her tace was. She spoke nervously. The Government had resigned. Colonel Vyx had handed it an ultimatum. The Entente has again advanced the line of demarcation and now asks also for a neutral zone. And Károlyi, on reliable information, wants to hand over the power to the Communists.

So that was Károlyi's vengeance...

Elisabeth Kállay and her sister came in. On hearing the news they rushed off again to inform Archduke Joseph, and went also to Stephen Bethlen to ask him to attempt the impossible with the delegates of the Entente.

Within the last few days Colonel Vyx has withdrawn the French Forces from Budapest. All in all there might be about three hundred Spahis in the neighbourhood. He knew what was going on. Was he intentionally depriving the population of the town of their only safeguard ?

Countess Batthyány got up to go. Before leaving she whispered in my ear that I must escape during the night, as my name was on the first list of persons to be arrested.

I went home. It poured the whole afternoon and the rain beat a tattoo on my window. I telephoned for my sister, speaking softly so that my mother, who was ill in bed, could not hear. She knows nothing as yet.

Later, a friend came to tell me that it was essential for me to escape, they had decided to hang me; so when Countess Chotek came back I returned the money to her which she had brought in the morning for the Association, saying, " It would not be safe any longer with me. " She brought the same warning as my other friend.

" I won't go, " I said. " It would be cowardice to run away. If they want to arrest me, let them do it. I shall stay here. "

" But we shall need you later, when we can resume our work, " my friend said, and tried to persuade me. " I would take you with me, but you wouldn't be safe there, for they're sure to search our place for my brother. " I listened to her patiently, but I felt neither fear nor excitement, perhaps because of a curious illusion I had that the talk was not about me, but about somebody else.

About seven o'clock a young journalist friend came to us, deadly pale. He closed the door quickly behind him, and looked round anxiously as if he feared he had been followed. He also looked terrified.

" Károlyi has resigned, " he said in a strained voice. " He sent Kunfi from the cabinet meeting to fetch Béla Kún from prison. Kunfi brought Béla Kún to the Prime Minister's house in a motor car. The Socialists and Communists have come to an agreement and have formed a Directory of which Béla Kún, Tibor Szamuelly, Sigmund Kunfi, Joseph Pogány and Béla Vagó are to be the members. They are going to establish revolutionary tribunals and will make many arrests to-night. Save yourself—don't deliver yourself up to their vengeance. "

Even as he spoke, shooting started in the street outside. Suddenly. I remembered my night's vision... We are in the big ungainly house... the door handle of the last room is turning, and the last door opens...

An awful voice shrieked along the street :

" Long live the dictatorship of the proletariat ! "

 

THE END[7]

______________________

[1] The People's Voice, a Social Democratic newspaper.

[2] It should be remembered that the Hungarian Freemasonry had become, like the Grand Orient de France, a political association and is fundamentally different from English Freemasonry. [Translator.]

[3] Joseph II. would never consent to be crowned.

[4] The Old House.

[5] Black and Yellow Avas the flag of tho Hapsburgs, consequently of the Austro-Hungarian army, and was always disliked in Hungary as antagonistic to national aspirations.

[6] The ghost is Petőfi, the national poet of Hungary, who, on March 15, 1848. roused the country with his famous song " Magyars ! Arise ! " He fought in the War of Independence and died a hero's death on the battlefield of Segesvár, in Transylvania, where he lies in an unknown grave. His poem, the national song, started the revolution. ('48)

[7] The second part of Miss Tormay's diary, containing the account of the Commune and of her escape and pursuit, will be published as soon as possible.

Cecile Tormay: An Outlaw's Diary: Revolution /1

Cecile Tormay: An Outlaw's Diary: Revolution /2

Cecile Tormay: An Outlaw's Diary: Revolution /3

Cecile Tormay: An Outlaw's Diary: Revolution /4

Cecile Tormay: An Outlaw's Diary: Revolution /5

Cecile Tormay: An Outlaw's Diary: Revolution /6

Cecile Tormay: An Outlaw's Diary: Revolution – Original – PDF

Cecile Tormay: An Outlaw's Diary: Revolution – Book Format – PDF

Part Two: An Outlaw's Diary: The Commune