Magyar Megmaradásért

Nem adjuk fel

 

Sze2020Oct21

An Outlaw's Diary: Revolution - Chapter XVI

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 ! "

tc_od1-32

" 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.

tc_od1-33

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 ! "

tc_od1-34

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.

Szóljon hozzá!

Biztonsági kód
Frissítés

Latest comments

New Articles

Further reading on: Our history

Látogatók

Hungary 68.2%Austria 1.3%
Romania 5.1%Canada 1.1%
United States 4.5%France 0.9%
Ukraine 3.4%Sweden 0.8%
Russian Federation 2.8%Switzerland 0.4%
Germany 2.4%Netherlands 0.2%
Slovakia 2%Australia 0.2%
United Kingdom 1.9%Kuwait 0.1%
Norway 1.4%Italy 0.1%
Serbia 1.4%Poland 0.1%

Today: 833
This Week: 3050
Last Week: 4835
This Month: 14447
Last Month: 18110
Total: 2493840