Magyar Megmaradásért

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Cs2020Oct22

An Outlaw's Diary: Revolution - Chapter VII

CHAPTER VII

November 8th.

The wind chases the clouds above the Danube. It whistles down the chimneys. The streets of Buda shiver between the houses.

The tram to our hills was practically empty. Everybody has come to town and the houses stand abandoned. The strokes of axes resound in the woods, and trembling townspeople steal scraps of wood along the roadside. Shabby clerks, teachers, women pick up brushwood in the thickets. Now and then a shot is heard from the hills. Thousands of disbanded soldiers have taken their rifles with them and are shooting game freely all over the country. The woods are crowded with poachers. Blood-stains. A rotting carcase. Hungary's famous game is on the verge of extinction.

I reached our villa and walked round the abandoned house. It has not yet been broken into. The wind was twisting the dead leaves along the road into ropes. There was a dry rattle everywhere, and the branches of the bare trees knocked together in the moving air. An old woman walked down the road and her thin silken skirt fluttered in the wind. She must have known better days, and now she carried firewood on her back. There is no wood to be got in town. What will happen in winter ? We shall freeze...

Coming back I bought a newspaper through the tram window. Many hands were stretched out. Opposite me a young ensign bought one too. The torn off insignia of his rank had left their mark on the collar of his uniform. Well disposed officers have ceased to wear uniforms. It has become a livery of shame, and is worn only by those who have nothing else to wear. This one looked like one of that category. Only deserters, civilians, and those who shirked the war now wear uniforms.

I began to read the midday paper. Belgrade... Everything around me disappeared. Through the printed letters of the paper I saw the Serbian town as I had known it long ago. The Danube was rolling past the wharf, there was the high fort, once Hunyadi's impregnable Hungarian stronghold, the Konak ; and between the trees beyond the town the small convent where, under the oil-painted planks of the floor, without any monument, the massacred bodies of the last Obrenovic and his mutilated Serbian queen, Draga, lie. Then I thought of the garden of Topcider and its oriental little Kiosk where Serbian Gypsies used to fiddle and sing. Officers, in brilliant uniforms after the Russian pattern, took their afternoon substitute for tea at small round tables, eating onions with bread. Some of them had the ribbon of an Order on their chest. A Serbian explained to me proudly that this Order was bestowed only on those who had taken an active part in the events that cleared the road to the throne for Peter Karageorgevic.

Herds of cattle were driven through the ill-paved streets. Manure, dirt, bugs, rubbish, and flies—big, shiny, blue flies. The Skupstina... When I saw that I could not help thinking of Hungary's house of Parliament. The two buildings proclaimed both the past and the culture of the two peoples. Ours is a Gothic blossom, with its roots in the Danube, the bed of which is the grave of our first conqueror, Attila, who received tribute from Rome and Byzantium, and sleeps there his sleep of fifteen hundred years. When I saw the Serbian Parliament it was a building like a stable, with wooden benches in it and the walls covered with red, white and blue stuff. Its air was reeking with the scent of onions and sheep, while the windows were obscured with fly marks.

Since I had been there this small Balkan town must have suffered much. The soldiers of Mackensen and Kövess had passed victoriously over its ruins. Now Károlyi and Jászi, with the delegates of the Workers' and Soldiers' Council, go there a-begging.

Why did they go there ? Why just there ? The jerking of the wheels of the tram seemed to repeat rhythmically " Why just there, why just there... "

According to the official news the French general was haughty and ruthless. He took Károlyi's memorandum, turned his back on him, and banged the door...

This memorandum reveals the unsavoury truth when it complains that within twenty-four hours after assuming power Károlyi had promised to the Allies to lay down arms at once, but his offer had been prevented by the common High Command from reaching its destination. The High Command had isolated Hungary from the Allied powers, and had cut the telephone wires. It had charged General Weber to negotiate in the name of the old Monarchy with General Diaz, the Italian Commander-in-Chief. Károlyi's memorandum protested against this because " nobody but the delegates of the Hungarian people are entitled to negotiate for independent Hungary. This is the reason for our appearance, " ended this disgraceful document.

So it was nobody who called for them, nobody who sent these people who claim to be the representatives of the Hungarian people. Károlyi the gambler gambles in Belgrade. He plays an iniquitous game. He cheats for his own pocket while his own country loses.

The newspaper was executing a wild dance in my hands while I read the memorandum. Surely men have never written anything like this about their own country. They go to ask for an armistice and accuse us before our enemies. " We oppressed the nationalities, we were tyrants... " I felt as if something had been poured down my throat which it was impossible to swallow. I choked for a time, and my blood was beating a mad tattoo at the sides of my head. He who wrote that lied in hatred, while those who transmitted it were cretins or criminals.

In his answer to the memorandum the French general was insulting and contemptuous. The shame of it all ! They are slighted and we bear the disgrace.

Every word of Franehet d'Espèray was a slap in the face to Károlyi and his fellows. What unfathomable contempt must have been felt by this old Norman nobleman, this patriotic soldier, for Károlyi and his Bolshevick Internationalist companions !

Workers' Council... Soldiers' Council...

He looked sternly at the Semitic features of Jászi and the faun-like face of Hatvany as he said :

" You only represent the Hungarian race and not the Hungarian people. "

Then he answered the clumsy, cunning sentence of the memorandum, sprung from the brain of some journalistic fantast : " From the first of November Hungary ceases to be a belligerent and becomes a neutral country. "

" The Hungarians have fought side by side with the Germans and with the Germans they will suffer and pay. "

An answer to those who shouted in Parliament over dying Hungary " we are friends of the Entente, " an answer to Károlyi, who in the interest of his personal ascendency intrigued with Prague, Bukarest and Belgrade.

" The Czechs, Slovakians, Roumanians and Yugoslavs are the enemies of Hungary, and I have only to give the order and you will be destroyed. "

I forced my eyes to overcome my shame and anger, and read on.

Followed the conditions of the armistice... Not conditions, but orders born of revenge and hatred dictated by the commander of an armed force to the self-appointed, obtruding envoys of a disarmed people.

Horrible nightmare... The Hungarian government has to evacuate huge territories in the east and in the south. Hungarian soil must be delivered over to the Balkan forces. We must surrender from the Szamos to the Maros-Tisza line, from the Danube to the Sloveno-Croatian frontier, that which has been ours for a thousand years.

Eighteen points... Eighteen blows in the face of the nation. After this Hungary is a country no longer, she is a surrounded quarry thrown to the fury of the pack. The Kill...

Poor country of mine, poor countrymen...

Suddenly I saw the letters no more : something had covered them, as the stones at the bottom of a brook are rendered indistinct by the waves above. I wiped my eyes and looked up. Had others read it too ? The little ensign had. He was weeping silently. He sat there with his head bowed, crushing the newspaper in his fist. I looked round. Faces had changed since I had read the paper. The others had read it too. Strangers began to talk to each other excitedly :— " I always told you so, Károlyi alone could bring us a good peace. He got it in two days. It was said that he alone could save us... "

For an instant the misguided people seemed to have regained their consciences. Terrified disappointment, bitter complaints filled the car. Most of them cursed the French general furiously, and remarks of a new kind were heard about Károlyi too. Something had become clear... Or did I only see my own views in the eyes of the others ?

" It isn't all that, " said a gentleman to his neighbour; " we must not judge hastily. " And he read aloud that the delegates of the government had made the signing of the armistice conditional. These conditions were set out in a dispatch which was forwarded through Franchet d'Espèray to Paris. " It is clear, " the gentleman said, " that the government will only sign the armistice if the Entente powers guarantee the old frontiers of Hungary till the conclusion of peace. Károlyi will manage the peace treaty all right. His confidential friends say that he can carry everything before him in Paris. He will get peace in six weeks. "

The exhausted people clung to these words. The protesting telegram had destroyed the finality of the catastrophe... And those who a few minutes ago had spoken desperately, sent their tired souls to sleep with self-deceiving optimism. They became quiet. They crowded together and looked out of the window. A woman yawned aloud. Behind my back they talked of the high prices : potatoes had gone up again...

When I came home my mother was sitting in the little green room near the window. She sat passively in the twilight, she who was always busy with something. When the door opened she turned towards me and raised her head slightly to be kissed. I saw in the twilight her kind blue eyes, which, in spite of years, had retained their youth and lustre. They now looked at me in indescribable grief. A newspaper lay on the table.

" Have you read it ? " I asked.

" I have... "

........

November 9th.

Huge white posters have appeared on the walls. All along the streets everything is covered with them. They are posted on the shop windows, on the windows of the coffee-houses. They appear between the announcements of the kinematographs in the advertisement columns. Not orders, not regulations, not proclamations : from far away I could see it, one word at the top of them all : A BALLAD.

It is an old, sweet word, one which seems to come from olden days bringing a message to the new : a ballad... I scanned one of the posters, but was unable to decipher the smaller words. I had to cross the road. While doing so I pondered : will this ballad contain that which we are waiting for, the cry of Hungary's agony ? The rebelling voice of our sufferings ? Is it an old ballad, or one of the later ones ? Or is it by some misled poet who has helped to burn his ancestor's soil and had aided the band of Jews to make the revolution ? Has the erring soul returned to the fold of his race and does he give voice to the tortures of the betrayed Hungarian land into which Balkan robbers are already setting their teeth ? Or is it by one who could shape into our language the sufferings of homeless Dante, who could put into verse the moaning of the dread storm that rages over the Great Plain ?

Not they, it is not Hungarians who speak. The sickly verses of one Renée Erdös polluted the air, plastered up by the government all over the town.

" And he went to Belgrade, good Michael Károlyi
    ...sad Michael Károlyi
    ...great Michael Károlyi. "

And this was stuck up on every house in Budapest. What a childish game ! The ballad is meant to create sympathy for Michael Károlyi, so that anger against him shall not rise in people's hearts; it attempts to transfer to him the pity that the nation should feel for itself. And as though by a word of command, the whole press of Budapest is writing in the same strain. The newspapers practically hide the conditions of the armistice and enlarge on the rude contempt of the French general. In their columns Károlyi has became a martyr who has suffered for the nation.

The people in the street stopped and read the ballad, and now and then somebody said : " Poor Michael Károlyi ! " But even while this was being said bitter news spread over the town, news which none could stop. The truth about the Belgrade meeting has filtered through, and already people are clenching their fists.

Franchet d'Espèray had come to the meeting in an aeroplane from Salonika. He stationed a guard of honour in front of his hotel. He wore full dress uniform, with all his decorations, and thus received those whom he believed to be the envoys of Hungary. Michael Károlyi and his friends appeared in shooting-jackets, breeches, gaiters : as if they were out for a holiday. The general glared in astonishment at the motley company. He became cold and contemptuous, shook hands with nobody, and folded his arms over his chest. Astonished at first, he became ironical as he listened to Károlyi's faulty speech. After taking possession of the accusing memorandum (which had been edited by Jászi) he ranged the company within the light of his lamp and looked attentively at one after the other.

" Vous êtes Juif ? " he asked Hatvany; then looking at Jászi and Károlyi, he said, " You are Jews, too ? "

His face showed undisguised disgust when Károlyi introduced to him, as an achievement of the revolution, the delegates of the Workers' and Soldiers' Council. He pointed at the collar of Csernyák, the delegate of the Soldiers' Council, whence the insignia of rank had been removed : " Vous êtes tombés si bas? Then, instead of bowing, he threw his head back haughtily, turned on his heel, and left them. He dined with his officers, and did nof invite the delegation, though the table had been laid for them.

The self-delegated men looked at each other in dismay. How were they to report this to the befooled, betrayed country, which had been rocked to sleep for months by the recital of Károlyi's connections with the Allies, and the belief of a good peace ?... In their fear they accused each other, and one of them said to Károlyi : " In Budapest you were feasted like a demi-god, and here you are treated like a dog... "

Károlyi and his friends went without dinner that day in Belgrade, and after his dinner General Franchet d'Espèray put on his field uniform and with hard words handed the delegation the terrible, degrading conditions of the armistice.

This happened in Belgrade on the 7th of November. One day later, yesterday evening, the members of the government went solemnly to the railway station to accord a triumphant welcome to the delegation. Countess Károlyi, Mrs. Jászi and other " revolutionary ladies " (as they like to be styled) were there too. But the festal crowd waited in vain. Károlyi and his following dared not face them... They had stopped the special train at a little side-station, got out quietly, and dispersed in the ill-lit streets.

It was through a back-door that they brought their shame from Belgrade into the betrayed town.

........

November 10th.

A leaden gray rain is falling. From the wall of the old neglected house opposite a big piece of plaster is washed off and falls with a splash into the street, where pieces of it fly in all directions. It is Sunday. Nobody passes along the street. Only the rain drives before the window. It comes and goes again, and writes something on the panes.

The republican party has called a mass meeting for this afternoon. Organised labour and organising good-for-nothings, the Soldiers' Council, the officers, the non-commissioned officers... meetings everywhere. And everywhere discourses on the supremacy of the people, its rights, democracy, independence and freedom. But no mention is made of Belgrade. There is no protest meeting or demonstration against the conditions of the armistice. With its cunning lies the faithful, servile press of Károlyi has hoodwinked the crowd again. The town hides the shame of Belgrade in silence, as if it were not its concern, as if it had lost all self-respect. The crowd, stupid and good-tempered, continues on the road which it trod yesterday. Blind flocks of sheep and herds of blinkered oxen, thoughtless and sightless masses, following their degraded leader towards the precipice. They are going, and why does he delay who is to bring salvation ?

The rain writes ghostly characters on my window as well as on the panes of the house opposite. That is all; nothing else happens.

Nothing ? I must be mad to write such a thing. Does not every day bring with it the collapse of something which had always existed, ever since I was born, and before that, long before that ?... It is incomprehensible. One reads only the news, and when one has read that it seems impossible, and one half expects somebody will laugh, or a voice will tell us that it is not true and that everything is really as it used to be. Yet we wait in vain... And again we believe that nothing will happen.

Meanwhile loyal Bavaria has driven King Louis out of the country. The Soldiers' and Workers' Council in Saxony has made a proclamation to the people : " The King has been deprived of his throne, the Wettin dynasty has ceased to exist. " Baden has expelled its ruler, and the Grand Duke, of Hesse is a prisoner of the mob. Wurtemburg, Brunswick, Weimar... Ancient thrones, legendary old courts, centres of culture, art-loving little residences, all collapse in a few minutes. It is as if some giant Hatred roams abroad, demolishing everything it finds standing, from east to west.

All the faithful German princes have lost their thrones. The only one who still wears a crown is the one who has shown himself faithless—the Hohenzollern down there in Roumania. And the Kaiser has fled to Holland from his unhappy Empire.

Kaiser Wilhelm has resigned his throne ! As the news spreads this fresh token of the mutability of human affairs causes a shudder even in those who worked for it with hatred and received it with shouts of triumph.

Since Napoleon, nobody has been so violently hated on this globe as he. Doubtless this will be the measure of his importance in history. It will judge his power by the fact that against Napoleon England had allied only a fraction of Europe, while against the Hohenzollern the whole world was forced to rise in arms.

The cause of the two Emperors' downfall is the same. Napoleon wanted to make France the first power of the world, and Kaiser Wilhelm dreamt the same dream for the German Empire. Neither of them could stop half-way.

Is it a Saint Helena that fate has in store for Kaiser Wilhelm ? Will the Dutch castle that has received him turn out to be a replica of the Bellerophon ?

The Kaiser was a friend of the Hungarians. Once in the royal castle of Buda he proposed the health of the Hungarian nation. Since the rule of the Hapsburgs no crowned head has ever spoken to us like that. His speech was printed in school books, the children learned it by heart, and the memory of the Kaiser stayed with us. But he never came again to our midst. During the war he went to Vienna, to Sophia and to Constantinople. He never stopped at Budapest. And while the Hungarian people waited for him whose soldiers had bled with ours at three gates of our country, he was forced to bear in mind the jealousy of Vienna. His picture was in the shop-windows, Budapest had named its finest boulevard after him, the colours of his Empire floated everywhere and if his train touched the country's soil the newspapers wrote in his homage.

In 1916 Tisza went to the German General Headquarters. The Roumanians had just invaded Transylvania and he asked for troops and help for his hard-pressed country.

" Will the Hungarians be grateful for it ? " asked the Kaiser.

" We shall be grateful, " answered Stephen Tisza.

They have torn the contract of our alliance, but a common misfortune can write a more permanent alliance than any human hand. Marshal Foch's document stating the conditions of the armistice with Germany is the twin of the ruthless writing of Belgrade. Wilson's mask has fallen and the victors beggar us and let loose upon us the blood-stained cloud which comes from the East to cover the despair of betrayed peoples.

On this cloud obscure strangers steal over the Russian border into the heart of Europe and join with those whose features resemble theirs. And there are such in Paris, in London, and in New York too... They have invaded the greater half of Europe. In Russia Trotski-Bronstein, Krassin-Goldgelb, Litvinoff-Firtkelstein, Radek and Joffe are all-powerful. In Munich Kurt Eisner is the master and president of the Republic. In Berlin Beerfeld is at the head of the Soldiers' Council and Hirsch at the Workmens'. In Vienna the power is in the hands of Renner, Adler, Deutsch and Bauer. And in Budapest...

Is this all accidental ?

Carrion-crows on dying nations... They hack out the eyes that still see, they pierce the still throbbing hearts with their beaks, tear shreds of flesh from the convulsed members. And nowhere does anyone appear to drive them away.

Nothing happens... Silently, silently, like speechless despair, the rain beats at my window

........

November 11th.

I might have known that it would end like this !

Károlyi and his government decided yesterday afternoon that they would accept the Belgrade conditions without alterations... The French Premier did not even deign to answer their protesting telegrams. He looked over their heads and would not speak to them. Instead he sent direct instructions to Franchet d'Espèray : " I request you to treat with Count Károlyi military questions only, to the exclusion of all other matters. This is final. Clemenceau. "

In the old palace of the Prime Minister, up there in the castle of Buda, the cabinet met in council.

At first Károlyi was greatly excited, then, tired of listening to the others, he stretched his long legs, plunged his hands into his pockets, and with his head bowed on his chest stared into a corner where nothing was going on. The ministers of his party were nervous. The socialist and radical ministers were cool. Linder is a minister no more. He was perpetually drunk. Brandy bottles stood on his ministerial writing-table and in his ante-room sailors were constantly drinking. The government has relieved him and put Lieutenant Colonel Bartha into his place. But " to make sure of Linder's valuable services for the future " he was invited to go to Belgrade and sign the conditions of the armistice in the name of the Hungarian authorities...

It all looks as if it were a systematical, devilish conspiracy. Apparently they want to degrade us as much as possible so as to make it easier for them to tread on us. After the delegation in shooting jackets, a dipsomaniac lieutenant goes to Belgrade, and with his watery eyes and alcoholic breath represents Hungary before the haughty French General.

And while Linder was preparing for his journey, Károlyi made a speech at the National Council, meant to encourage and reassure those who wanted to rob Hungarian territory.

The Serbian troops have crossed the frontier and are advancing rapidly into the country. On their national holiday the Czechs have decided to occupy all counties to the possession of which they aspire. The Czech troops have started and are fast overrunning the country... Their plan is to occupy Pressburg and Upper Hungary. This means seventeen to nineteen counties. The situation on the Roumanian side is serious too. Roumania has decided to order a general mobilisation... " In the full knowledge of our physical inability and of the right of our cause, " Károlyi finally declared, " we can only rely on justice. Consequently I propose that we sign the treaty of armistice with General Franchet d'Espèray, and when we have signed it, every invasion becomes simply an act of violence. Whoever invades us, we shall protest, raise our warning voice, and appeal to the judgment of the civilised world; but we shall offer no armed opposition, because we want, and are going to stand by, the conditions of the armistice. "

The so-called Prime Minister of Hungary, from the very heart of Hungary, promises to our little neighbours, when they start on their plundering expeditions, that if they come they shall not be interfered with, that they will meet no armed opposition. And so Michael Károlyi, in the hearing of the National Council and of the united Cabinet, calls in the Serbians, Roumanians and Czechs.

With trembling lips I read the words of this shameful speech. What does Michael Károlyi get for this infamous job ?... It is but two hundred years since his ancestor Alexander Károlyi received from the Emperor of Austria the domains of Erdöd, Huszt, Tarcalt and Marosvásárhely, at the valuation of fifty thousand pieces of gold, and the crown of a count (on to which the herald painter at Vienna painted by mistake two more pearls than the other Hungarian counts wear) for his betrayal of Rakoczi, the Hungarian champion. The crown of the Counts Károlyi has eleven pearls. Was it for those two pearls that the democratic Károlyi was haughtier than any man of his rank ? He wore them and wears them to this day, when he is making a republic. He wears the rank bestowed on him by the Hapsburgs, while he deprives the Hapsburgs of theirs. He insists on being called the Right Honourable Count, and that his wife be called the Right Honourable Countess, while those who are the source of his title are called in his press Charles Hapsburg and Joseph Hapsburg ! He uses the King's special train, his motor-car, and at the opera sits with his wife in the royal box. He intends to occupy the royal castle too. One day after dinner, in the intimacy of his family, smoking his cigar, he said casually : " I'll make the King resign. " But his two advisers, Kéri and Jászi, advised him that this should not be done by him or by the government. The Hungarian educated classes were attached to the crown and the peasantry was loyal to the King.

I met an old acquaintance this afternoon. It was he who reported to me this opinion of Károlyi's Councillors. It was told to him by quite reliable people. Paul Kéri said : " One never knows. Let the odium of it be attached to someone else. We had the German Alliance broken by some outsider; let us get the resignation of the King effected by other people. The most suitable people would be the magnates. If it suits the people, it is a good card in our hand that even the counts don't want the King. If they don't like it, let the nobility pay for it... "

" They won't find anybody to do it, " I said, as we walked side by side through the crowded street.

" You may be right, " my companion replied, shrugging his lean shoulders. " I hear that Károlyi's negotiations have all failed. And yet, the matter becomes urgent for him. They want to hurry here too. They envy the priority of Berlin and Vienna. Do you know that when the news of the German events reached the Austrian National Council, it at once decided for the republic, and the Emperor Charles yesterday signed his resignation in Schon-brunn ? "

" No... I did not know... "

" Under the influence of this event Károlyi's government admitted that it did not intend to wait for the constitutional assembly to decide on the form the Constitution should take. ' Companion ' Bokányi abolished Kingship on the day of the revolution... He does not want it, nor does Kunfi, nor Pogány. Baron Hatvany, Jászi and Paul Kéri are all against it; in short, Kingship has to go... They made Károlyi sign a declaration for form's sake, but that does not count. But if it interests you, let us go to the editorial office of the Pesti Naplo where we can read all about it. "

In the lighted window, among the latest news, there it was, the text of the proclamation : " The Hungarian National Council has addressed a solemn request to the National Councils formed in the various towns and communes, that they should decide at once whether they agree with the decision of the Hungarian National Council that the future form of the Hungarian state be that of a Republic. A rapid decision and immediate answer are requested. "

I felt the same inexpressible disgust that I always feel when I read the writings of the new power. " An immediate answer is requested... " as if an agent were asking for orders... " a rapid decision " . . as if it were an auction of somebody's old clothes : the crown of St. Stephen and the traditions of a thousand Hungarian years.

" Don't let it annoy you, " my companion said bitterly; " it is only a comedy. It makes no difference what they write, and it's just the same whatever the country answers. The secretariat of the Social Democratic party and the other 6 companions ' have already settled the question. On November the 16th they are going to proclaim the republic, and Károlyi is to be President. And we shall say nothing and do nothing. "

" And how long are we going to do nothing ? "

" What can one do ? I was at the front for forty-four months. I was wounded three times. I'm ill and I'm tired. And in other places it's even worse than here. In Berlin they are shooting in the streets. Officers, loyal to the Kaiser, and the Red Guards cut each other's throats in Unter den Linden. Machine-guns fire from the roofs of the houses. Red sailors have occupied the imperial palace, and corpses lie between the barricades. Here, they rarely knock a man down, and they only take his watch once. " He laughed painfully. " You know I was buried by a shell in my trench. They had to dig for some time before they found me, and the earth was heavy. Since then... " Horror showed in his eyes and he shivered. " It's no good struggling. We can't get out. It was all in vain. "

He turned his head away, and we went on side by side for some time without a word; then he saluted clumsily and turned down a dark little street. But although he had gone his voice remained with me, and as I went on I could hear it over and over again; it came towards me, followed me, kept pace with me : " It's no good struggling... we can't get out... it was all in vain... " Those who suffer, those who are cold and hungry, those who are beggars and cripples, those who had their orders torn from their chests and the stars from the collars of their uniforms, all think alike. Those who did the tearing had not seen the war, had stayed at home, had lived in plenty and got rich; their numbers increased while ours grew less; they won the war that we lost.

" We are done for, it's no good struggling. " Is that what I see written in people's eyes ? Exhaustion and the endless " I'm ill and tired ? " ... Now I understand. The best have fallen, and those who have come back are wounded, though there be no wound on their bodies. Neither generals nor statesmen can remedy this.

I went home. The staircase was in darkness, the electric light had gone wrong a few days ago and no workman could be found to repair it; all had joined the unemployed's bargaining federation. The front door bell was out of order too. The electrician who always kept it in order had been deserted by his men and had to attend to his shop himself.

One has to knock at one's own door nowadays, for it cannot be left unbolted. Loafing soldiers pay visits to houses. One hears of nothing but burglaries.

As I went upstairs impressions of the streets of the decaying town passed through my mind : the furious struggling crowd of crammed electric trams; the ' new rich ' in fur coats; dirty flags, the remains of last month's posters on grimy walls; coffee-houses with music within, crude noises and lewd conversations; people loafing in front of coal merchants' cellars. The horror of the foul streets was still with me when I reached my room.

My mother called to me. She was sitting in her room with a shaded lamp on the table, and on the green velvet table-cloth the kings and queens of a pack of little patience cards promenaded as if in a field.

" Where have you been ? " my mother asked.

" I went to see about the coal. "

" Well ? "

I did not want to tell her my visit had been in vain. " I shall have to go again. I couldn't settle matters to-day. " I thought of our empty cellar and of the coal-office, the long queue of waiting people. Scenes passed before me like the pictures of a kinematograph... The window of the Pesti Naplo. People were waiting there too... Big letters, latest news... Czechs, Roumanians, Serbs, and the names of ancient Hungarian towns... People said nothing and craned their necks to see...

Everywhere the same tired faces... And as if one voice were speaking for them all : " It is no good struggling... we can't get out... it was all in vain " ... Yes, it is past the remedy of generals and statesmen...

All the time my mother was looking at me thoughtfully over her patience cards. She said nothing, asked no questions, but leant forward and stroked my head. It was unlike her : her tenderness was hardly ever visible or heard. It was always there, but quietly, underneath. She rarely showed her feelings, and lived behind a veil of self-control. In my childhood it was only when I was ill or downhearted that she showed her true self, for my sake, not for hers. But lately, now that events had caused old age to quicken his steps, the veil had been more often drawn aside. I wanted so much to say something, to thank her for what was beyond thanks. She stroked my hair... How soothing it was ! Her hand knew a sweet, tender secret which it revealed only on the brows of her children when they bent under the weight of sorrow. Dear loving hands ! They can accomplish what neither generals nor statesmen can.

Something I cannot express in words rose within me in that moment. Was it a foreboding, was it the clue that we were all seeking, was it a presentiment of something I was to do ? I cannot answer, but it was something that should throw itself before the torrent of destruction, should raise a dam before the motherland and its women, the faithful, the prolific, the holders of Hungary's future... To protect those who see things with eyes different from those of generals and statesmen.

A carriage stopped in front of the house. Who could it be ? For days I had seen practically nobody. Social intercourse had almost ceased; one did not even know what was happening to one's best friends or where they were. Everyone took refuge in his own home, and the threads that had been broken in October had not yet been retied. A knock at the door, the hinges creaked. Steps in the corridor. It was my friend Countess Raphael Zichy.

" Do you remember the last time we met ? Up in the woods in a fog ? And while we were trying to guess what the future had in store for us the rebellion had already started in the town. "

" Then it must have been about the 30th of October. "

" Since then everything has collapsed. Is there any force on earth that could repair the havoc ? "

" Nothing ever can be repaired, " said my visitor, pensively. " The evil always remains; but one can raise something good by its side that will progress and leave the evil behind it. "

" But is there anybody who can do this ? We're not organised, and everybody is so despondent and tired. As long as this is so, nothing will ever happen. It is this that has got to be cured first. I was thinking about it just before you came : in defeat women are always greater than men. If they could only be roused and set going they might restore the faith that everybody seems to have lost. "

" I'm already negotiating with the various Catholic women's institutions, " the Countess said, " and I hope to bring about their unity. "

" I don't want the unity of creeds, " said I; " I want the unity of Hungarians. The forces of Destruction have united in one camp. All its apostles work together. Why shouldn't the forces of Regeneration unite as well ? "

" I'm going to begin where I'm rooted, " answered my guest with an enigmatic smile, while taking leave. " You're like all Hungarians. You want to do everything at once and carry everything before you... "

She was right. She had started to work in the right way.

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