Ugrás a tartalomhoz Lépj a menübe

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


November 6th.

I feel so queer. I feel as though there were an open wound in my head from which blood was spreading over my thoughts. How long can one bear this kind of thing ? Something must happen... We always say that, and yet one hopeless day passes after the other. All that happens is that we get news of some further disaster. The whole country is being pillaged. Escaped convicts, straggling Russian prisoners, degraded soldiers, murderers are plundering country houses, farms, whole villages, and inciting the mob to violence. Alarming news comes from all parts of the country.

Somebody came this morning from the County of Arad. Algyest; an unknown little village, which does not even appear on the map, and yet it is very dear to my heart. There, on the banks of the river Körös, are an old garden and an ancient house under the poplars... It has been broken into and pillaged. And as I heard of this, I understood the tragedy of every despoiled castle, of every ruined home in Hungary. Smoking walls, empty rooms... The venerable manor-house with its loggia was not mine, yet this misfortune touched me to the quick : they have injured the past summers of my childhood. They have trodden down the paths along which, in memory, I still wandered with my grandmother. They have defiled the slope of the chapel hill where I played so often in happier days. They did not shrink from breaking into the crypt. They evenrobbed those who had retired there for their last sleep in the dim twilight, generation after generation.

The incited Roumanian peasants wanted to beat the inhabitants of the house to death; and while the latter fled secretly, the wild horde, under the guidance of the village schoolmaster, rushed in with scythes and hatchets; and whatever they could not carry off they destroyed in an orgy of havoc. The fine old books of the library they tore from their shelves and trampled into the mud. The portraits of the ancient landlords they hacked with axes, pierced their eyes and cut out the canvas in the place of the heart. Persian carpets were cut into bits and carried off. Like madmen they smashed and destroyed till night fell; then they made bonfires with the furniture many centuries old. The old well they filled to the brim with debris of Old Vienna porcelain, with splinters of broken crystal.


How often have I not looked into the clear water of that well at the reflection of my childish face, and put my tongue out at myself; how often have I not chased butterflies near it and on the sunlit paths of the warm, rose-scented garden, which led beyond the firs into the wilds... Velvety moss grew on the edge of the roads, under the shade of the trees. It grew also on the stone seat at the bottom of the garden, where one was safe from the disturbing intrusion of grown-ups. One could climb up on the seat and look over the hedge into the main road. Rumbling carts passed in the soft white dust, and the Roumanian peasants used to doff their caps to me when they caught sight of me. " Naptye buna ! " I nodded to them. I knew old Todyert, and Lisandru and Petru, who was my mother's godchild. They spoke their own tongue, nobody ever harmed them, their teacher knew nothing but Roumanian, nor their priest, and yet they were paid and looked after by the Hungarian state. So it was elsewhere too. The Hungarians did not oppress its foreign-tongued brethren, who for centuries in troublesome times, escaping the oppression of Mongols, Tartars, Turks, and of their own blood, sought refuge in our midst. Had it oppressed them there would be no German, Slovak, Ruthenian, or Serb in our country to-day; and yet these people shout now in mad hatred that everybody who is Hungarian ought to be knocked on the head.

To attain this result two parties worked hard. The Roumanian propaganda and Károlyi's satellites undermined the hill from both sides. They met halfway in the tunnel, the Roumanian agitators and the Hungarian traitors. That was one of the plans of Károlyi's camp. To create the sine qua non of their power, disruption, they sent their agents to the regions inhabited by these nationalities and stirred them up against the Hungarians. In the Hungarian regions it was class hatred that was used to incite the people to robbery. And the people became intoxicated : the sufferings of the long years of war boiled up furiously.

Everybody expected that the soldiers, when they came back one day from the battlefield, would question those who had exploited and starved the people and got rich by staying at home while the soldiers were suffering at the front. In the last years of the war the embittered soldiers at the front talked of pogroms " when the war was over. " The nation was preparing for a reckoning and its fist rose slowly, terribly, over the heads of the guilty.

But a devilish power had now suddenly thrust that fist aside. The accumulated hatred must be turned into a new channel away from the Galician immigrants, profiteers, usurers—against the Hungarian manors and castles, against the Hungarian authorities.

It was with shame and bitterness that I heard the news. The country folk here and there, even those of Hungarian blood, destroy, under the guidance of government agitators, the homes of the Hungarian landlords. The people satisfy their own conscience by repeating what they have been taught : " Now that there is a republic, everything belongs to everybody. " And wel-to-do farmers go with their carts to the manors to carry off other people's property, The authorities are helpless : the fury of the excited people has driven away the magistrates and petty officials. The excuse for this is readily forthcoming. During the war-time administration the local government officials were charged to collect from the producer the necessary wheat and cattle, and they also selected those who had to do war-work. They distributed sugar, flour, oil and the necessary subsidies. Consequently they were frequently accused of having kept the surplus for themselves and they were hated for everything that went wrong. This hatred served as a side-channel to those who feared pogroms, and cunningly they made use of it. About three thousand of these officials were driven with cudgels from the villages and many were beaten to death.

Thus it happened that the communes were left to themselves. As a result of agitation the people would not listen any longer to their priests, and many of the school-teachers had become tainted with the infection. Order disappeared. Disguised as popular apostles, the agitators of the National Council—journalists, waiters, cabaret-dancers, kinematograph actors and white-slave traffickers, invaded the country-side. Practically on the day of the revolution in Budapest local National Councils were formed everywhere. As if executing a pre-arranged plan, at an inaudible command, the Jewish leaders of the trade-unions, the Jewish officials of the workmen's clubs, usurped authority. They knew the battle cries that impressed the crowd, and they kept in close touch with the rebels in the capital. They at once took their seats in the communal councils and assumed the direction of affairs amid the confusion they themselves had produced. Appealing to the National Council of Pest they issued orders to provincial towns and villages as well, and in this humiliating state of lethargy everybody obeyed. Károlyi's revolution was engineered almost exclusively by Jews. They make no secret of it, they boast of it. And with a never satisfied greed they gather the reward of their achievement. They occupy every empty place. In the government there are officially three, in reality five, Jewish ministers.

Garami, Jászi, Kunfi, Szende and Diener-Dénes have control over the Ministries of Commerce, of the mayors and the communes. The vile spell which had benumbed the capital cast its evil eye over the Nationalities, of Public Welfare and Labour, of Finance and of Foreign Affairs. By means of the Police department of the Home Office they have control over the police and the political secret service : they have placed at its head two Jews, former agents provocateurs. The right-hand man of the Minister of War is a Jew who was formerly a photographer. The president of the Press Bureau is a Jew and so is the Censor. Most of the members of the National Council are Jews. Jews are the Commander of the garrison, the Government Commissary of the Soldiers' Council, the head of the Workers' Council. Károlyi's advisers are all Jews, and the majority of those who started last night for Belgrade to meet the Commander-in-Chief of the Balkan front, the French General Franchet d'Esperay, are Jews.

Incomprehensible journey ! Carefully hidden, but still there, in the semi-official paper of the government, there is given the news which ought to render any further negotiations concerning the armistice perfectly unnecessary. I have copied it word for word :

" In consequence of the armistice as agreed between the plenipotentiaries of the High Command of the Royal Italian Army, acting for the Allies and the United States of America on the one side and the plenipotentiaries of the High Command of the Austro-Hungarian Army on the other, all further hostilities on land, on water and in the air are to be suspended at 3 p.m. on the 4th of November all along the Austrian and Hungarian front. "

What then do Károlyi and his associates want to negotiate about in Belgrade ?

An angry protest rose in me. Michael Károlyi and his minister Jászi; Baron Hatvany, the delegate of the National Council; the Commissary of the Workers' Council, a radical journalist; the delegate of the Soldiers' Council; Captain Csernyák, a cashiered officer... how dare these men speak in the name of Hungary ?

I became restless. The walls of my room seemed to be closing in upon me, caging me. The room, the house, the town, had all at once become too small for me. What was happening beyond them ? Was salvation on its way ? It must be quick, for the flood is rising, swelling, it has reached our neck, to-morrow it will drown us. I could stay at home no longer. I must do something; walk, run, tire myself out. The anxieties of the last few days have whipped me into action. Suddenly I realised that my own inactivity was part of the great culpable inactivity of the nation. I too was guilty of lethargy. No longer must I content myself with accusing others, no longer expect action from them alone. Dimly, despairingly, I realised that henceforward I must expect something from my own self.

But what could I do, I who have lived a retired and almost solitary life, I who could do nothing but love my country and depict its beauty with my pen ? What is the good of speaking of one's country when a whole town, with a foreign soul, laughs in one's face ? What good is its beauty when millions tread it under their feet ?

Despondently I walked slowly through the badly lit, dingy streets. At the gate of the Museum a sailor was standing, a rifle over his shoulder and a revolver in his belt. Opposite, under the porch of the old House of Parliament, soldiers were unloading heavy boxes from a motor lorry and dragging them into the building. This building, in which Francis Deák had once poured out his soul before the National Assembly of old, was now the headquarters of the revolutionary Soldiers' Council. Its organiser, Joseph Pogány, whom Károlyi had nominated Government's Commissary, had by now risen to such power that he could effectively oppose the Minister of War.

" What is there in those boxes ? " a slatternly servant girl asked a soldier.

" Bandages, " replied the soldier, and winked at her; " but we bring the best of it at night ! " As soon as he noticed me he shouted out threateningly : " Get away from here ! Down from the foot-path ! "

I noticed then that there were machine-guns on the lorry, and that two words were repeated on all the boxes : Danger and Cartridges.

The Minister of War orders the ammunition at the front to be thrown away, while the Commissary of the Soldiers' Council accumulates it in the heart of the capital. Is it accidental or is there a connection between the two ?

I walked for a long time in my lonely sorrow, and presently I reached the banks of the Danube. In front of me the Elizabeth Bridge, like a crested monster, strode across the river with a single stride, its back shining with sundry lamps. Above it stood the solid mass of St. Gellert's Hill, and under it glided the river's cool stream, carrying with it dark, silent ships. Here and there a solitary murky pier clung to the shore, and the reflection of low-burning street-lamps slipped shuddering into the deep.

A breeze came from the hills. It will bring frost to-night. And at night the houses on the shore close their eyes so that they may see no more. For every now and then little, preying boats glide over the cold water. A shot is fired. There is a mysterious splash... Everybody knows about it ; nobody interferes. In 1918, between Buda and Pest, as in the lawless days of old, armed pirates stop ships. National sailor-guards play highwayman on the Danube !

I looked behind me. Among the badly-lit streets and dark houses who can tell where is the lair of robbers and murderers ? The clamour of the busy streets, the silence of the alleys, hide crime. The town is blood-guilty : the murderers of Stephen Tisza walk freely among us.

A stranger turned the corner. I could not help thinking : was it he ?—Or that other one who sat in a motor-car and smoked a cigar ? Everything is possible here. Steps followed me, voices. Is he among those who are walking there ?—One of those whose voices are raised in threats over there ? The authorities are no longer pursuing their enquiries. The police searched only to make sure that it could not find. But Tisza's blood cannot be washed away. It is there and it cries to Heaven.

I reached home tired out. Why had I gone out at all ? What did I want ? Was I looking for anybody ? At least I might have seen a familiar face coming towards me, greet me, stop and tell me something that would have raised hope. I might have heard that General Kövess was marching on Pest with his returning army, or that Mackensen had gathered the Széklers round him in Transylvania. So this was what I had been seeking ! I wanted to hear the sound of a name, the name of a man who was brave and strong, who knew how to organise and how to give orders, who could lay his hand on destiny at the brink of the abyss.

I found my room warm and cosy, for my mother had lit a fire while I was out. Through the open door of the stove the light of the flames danced into the room and was reflected from the parquet flooring. Stray rays flickered to the book-case and passed over the gilding of old volumes.

Tea was brought in and my mother came with it. She was wearing a black silk dress with a white lace collar, and the scent she always used brought a faint delicate fragrance into the room. After the disorder of the muddy streets the purity of this quietude was striking, and already I felt refreshed.

Later on I had a visitor, Countess Armin Mikes, and her news dispelled my temporary peace of mind. She was tired, her face was drawn as though she had been ill, and her eyes were filled with tears. I knew what was passing within her : the death of Transylvania.

" Have you heard, " I asked her hesitatingly, " that the United States have recognised Roumania's right over Transylvania ? Her right... And our traitors are going to hand it over. "

It was too terrible. The United States addressed the aboriginal Székler inhabitants concerning the rights of immigrant Roumanian shepherds. The United States : a young nation which, so far as civilization is concerned, did not exist at a time when Transylvania had already been united to Hungary for half a thousand years !

" Not an inch of ground could be taken from us even now if only the army made a stand on the frontier. "

" If Tisza were alive ! "

" If he were alive they would kill him again. "

We became silent, and for a long time the only sound was the crackling of the embers in the stove.

" All conspired against him, " at last said Countess Mikes. She was a close relation of Tisza and had been a faithful friend to him in the height of his power as well as in his downfall. " When I went there his blood was still on the floor of the hall. There was also the mark of a bullet... He lost very much blood. He bled to death, that is why his face became so frightfully white. "

" And his wife ? "

" She sat motionless near him and held his hand... Poor Stephen, his body was not yet cold when an officer presented himself at the house. He produced a paper which showed that he was aide-de-camp to Linder and said that he had orders to ascertain with his own eyes if Tisza was really dead. He wouldn't go until he had accomplished his task. A soldier was with him : he had been sent by the Soldiers' Council. The officer looked in at the door of the death chamber. When he saw that Tisza was dead, he had the cynical impudence to express the condolences of the whole government with the family. Béla Radvánsky told him that we did not require them. Later on somebody came from the police with a police surgeon. It was done for appearance's sake. Of course they couldn't trace the criminals... A telegram arrived from Károlyi, and a wreath—both were thrown away. "

" But why hadn't Tisza gone away ? "

" He said he would not go into hiding. " Then my guest told me further details of the murder.

Already in the early morning of the fateful day people were loitering about the villa. Denise Almássy came early and begged Tisza to leave the place and to go to one of his friends, as his life was not safe there. Tisza answered that he would not go uninvited into any man's house. Meanwhile a crowd was gathering in the road outside. The mob, always ready to insult greatness in misfortune, cursed Tisza with threats. The crowd increased. The garden gate was broken in. Soldiers noisily invaded the place. A Jew in a mackintosh, who seemed to be drunk, led them on. When they reached the villa itself their leader asked to be allowed to speak alone with Tisza. The soldiers remained in the hall. Tisza received the stranger. He noticed that the man had a revolver, and, with a movement of his hand, showed him that he too had one in his pocket. The man was cowed by this and asked Tisza if he was not hiding a certain judge of a military tribunal who was his enemy and with whom he wanted to settle. Tisza answered that nobody was hiding in his house. At this the man and the soldiers left. Did they come to inspect the premises and get " the lie of the land " or did they come with the intention of killing him ?

In several provincial towns it was reported at three o'clock in the afternoon, when Tisza was still alive, that he had been killed. In the suburbs too the rumour of his assassination spread early in the forenoon, and at about four o'clock, in the Otthon Literary Club, Paul Kéri, Károlyi's confidential man, was heard by several people to remark, after looking at his watch : " Tisza's life has an hour and a half more to run. "

The policeman who had been sent there by the Wekerle government to guard Tisza were replaced by others before the 31st of October. The new men were restless, and their sergeant asked Tisza to obtain reinforcements. Tisza replied that as he had not asked for any guards it was not his business to ask for reinforcements. In the afternoon the sergeant came and said that he and his men were going to leave. It was impossible to telephone from the villa : the exchange answered but did not make the required connection. Everything seemed to be conspiring against him. The people in the house saw the police no more after this. They had not left, but they did not show themselves. Later on Tisza's brother-in-law and his nephew came and brought news of the upheaval in the town and said that the power had fallen into the hands of Michael Károlyi. Tisza wanted to go down to the Progressive Club and speak to his adherents, but his wife implored him not to go. So he sent his brother-in-law and asked his nephew to go with him.

Meanwhile it was getting dark, and the rabble in the street assumed a more and more threatening attitude. The gate of the garden was again being forced. No help could be expected from any quarter. The house was now besieged, and there was no way out...

Where were Tisza's friends and followers at this time ? In the hour of his Golgotha there were but two women to share it with him. And history will not forget the names of those two women.

About five in the afternoon the shooting in the street became louder. The house-bell rang. The valet ran in and said that eight armed soldiers were in the house. Meanwhile two soldiers went down to the policemen and disarmed them in the name of the National Council. They made no resistance : eight men submitted to two. All this time the valet with tears in his eyes was imploring his master to escape by the window. Tisza put his hand on the man's shoulder : " I thank you for your faithful services. God bless you ! " Then the three were left alone for a short time, he and the two women. " I will not run away; I will die just as I have lived, " said Tisza. He took a revolver and went out into the hall. His wife and Denise Almássy went with him. Soldiers with raised arms were waiting for him, cigarettes in their mouths.

" What do you want ? " Tisza asked.

" We want Count Stephen Tisza. "

" I am he. "

The soldiers shouted at him to put his revolver down. Tisza had said several times during the day that he would defend himself if it could do any good. But now he put down his revolver. This showed that he considered the situation hopeless. Yet he never winced for an instant. All his life he had been strong and brave, and now he was true to himself. He did not ask for his life but faced death boldly. One of the soldiers began a harangue, telling Tisza that he was the cause of the war and must pay for it. This soldier had carefully manicured nails... Another said that he had been a soldier for eight years and that Tisza was to blame for it. Tisza answered : " I did hot want the war. " At this moment a clock struck somewhere in the dark. One of the soldiers exclaimed : " Your last hour has struck. " Then the cigarette-smoking assassins fired a volley. One bullet struck Tisza in the chest, and he fell forward. Denise Almássy was wounded too and collapsed. Tisza was lying on the floor when they fired again into him. Then they left.

In the dim light of the hall, filled with the smoke of gunpowder, the dying Tisza lay on the floor, and the powerful hand which had once governed a kingdom waved in its last movement tenderly towards those whom he loved : " Do not cry... It had to be ! "

So he died as he had lived. His sublime fate had been accomplished. Life and death had produced a greater scene than the genius of the Greek writers of tragedies could accomplish. The fate of a whole nation is reflected in the bitter bloody fate of one of her sons. Tisza fell like an oak—and in his fall tore up the soil in which his life was rooted. While he stood, nobody knew how tall he was. Like a tree in the wilderness, it was possible only to measure him when he had fallen.

Stephen Tisza died in the same hour as Hungary. Those who murdered him will die in the hour of Hungary's resurrection.


November 7 th.

I was due to go on duty at the railway station this morning. I started from home in the dark. Rain was falling. Under the occasional lamps the murky neglected asphalt was like the rough skinned hide of some giant animal. The house-doors were still closed, and in front of the sleeping buildings the garbage stood in boxes and baskets on the edge of the pavement. Here and there in the dim light of the streets an early-riser passed.

The trams were filled with workmen. Sitting opposite me two evil-intentioned eyes glared at me out of a heavy coarse face. They were looking at the crown over the red cross on my coat.

" Don't wear that, there is no more crown. "

" There is for me, and I worked under that sign during the whole war. " The man grumbled, but said no more to me. Later, I was told that for wearing this emblem of charity a lady was hit in the face in the street.

At the station there was dense, frightful disorder. With a loud echo crowded trains rolled under the glass roof. The carriages were like ruins and their walls were riddled with bullet holes, for out on the open track bands of robbers shoot at the trains. The windows were smashed and the steps were falling off. Men were standing, shivering with cold, on the roofs, the steps, and even on the buffers of the in-coming trains. The noise was appalling. Thousands of returning soldiers fought their way in wild disorder.


On the concrete floor of the platform, ankle-deep in mud, the splashing of innumerable shortened steps made a sickly noise. Russian prisoners, Serbians, Roumanians, stormed the waggons before they were quite empty. Home... Home...

They pushed each other, swore. They climbed in by the windows because there was no more room by the doors. A man employed at the station told me that during the war the daily number of passengers had been about thirty thousand. Now two hundred thousand come and go in a day. Trains able to carry 1500 passengers now carry 9000. Travelling is deadly dangerous : the axles cannot bear the excessive loads, and out of the desperate chaos there comes occasionally the news of some awful catastrophe. Hundreds of soldiers coming from the Italian front were swept off the roof at the entrance of tunnels. Corpses mark the road home.

Another train entered with shrill noise, bringing refugees and soldiers from the undefended frontiers. The refugees spread their news. Czech komitadjis mixed with regulars have invaded Upper Hungary. The Czechs have crossed the frontier in Trencsén and are marching on Pressburg. Wherever they pass they drive the Hungarian officials in front of them, and impose levies.

A woman from Nagy Becskerek lamented loudly, plaintively, like the whistling of the wind in the chimney.

" Dear, oh dear, the town is in the hands of the Serbians. In Ujvidék they are looting. They cross the frontier and nobody resists them. Only the German soldiers are pulling up the rails. And the Roumanians !... The Roumanians !...

A Székler woman sobs desperately.

" And the government has forbidden any armed resistance. Why, in the name of goodness, why ? . . How can one understand it ? For a Galician trench, for a rock on the Carso thousands and thousands of Hungarians have died. Yet nobody defends our own soil ! Wherever it has been attempted threatening orders have been sent from Budapest. "

The government has given orders that no resistance is to be offered to the foreign troops, so the authorities have to content themselves with protesting and let the inhabitants remain quietly in their homes. No opposition whatever to the troops of occupation !... And if this order is disregarded anywhere, detachments of sailors are sent from Budapest—escaped convicts and robbers, who arrest the organisers of patriotic resistance. Agitators creep among the people arming for resistance, Jews from Pest who incite to pillage. The people, stupid and misguided, crowd round them. Then things move quickly : they are told that peace has come and that everything is theirs. The crowd goes mad. It cares no more for country, for the enemy. There is no more resistance and all their anger is directed against the authorities and the landlords. The rabble start pillaging. There is general disorder and in the upheaval somebody turns up who, on pretence of restoring order, calls in the army. A foreign armed patrol enters : eighteen men who stick up their flag and beat down the Hungarian arms. And our folk just stare and look as if they were sleep-walking lunatics.

That is what they say, all of them, wherever they come from. One Hungarian town after the other falls into enemy hands. What we have held for a thousand years is lost in a single hour, and foreign occupations spread over Hungary's body like the spots of a plague. The names of towns and villages... A wild, desperate shout for help rises continually in me : " Is there nobody who can save us ? "

The crowd of refugees rolled past me.

" They have pillaged our house ! They have burnt down our cottage ! " ... Two men lifted a half-naked old man out of a cattle truck. His beautiful noble gray head wobbled as they carried him. His face looked like wax. Whence did they come ? Nobody inquired. From everywhere, all round us !... And the refugees are being crammed into hotels, unheated emergency dwellings, cold school-rooms. At the stations mountains of luggage grow up on the platforms : huge piles, the remaining possessions of whole families; bundles tied up in tablecloths; washing-baskets; crammed perambulators; gladstone bags; fowl-houses; trunks and portmanteaux. And the pathetic piles grow and grow from hour to hour in wild disorder...

More Russians were coming from the entrance. Soldiers hustled the people with the butt-ends of their rifles. " Go on, Ruski ! " A heavy animal stench drifted behind them. Desperate men struggled round the piles of trunks... A boy dragging an immense old leather bag... In front of a broken trunk an old lady kneels in the mud. She wears a sable coat and her head is covered with a peasant woman's neckerchief, just as she had managed to escape. She weeps loudly, wringing her delicate hands. All her possessions have been stolen on the way. Nobody heeds her. Children shriek and cannot tell whence they came. They want their mother, lost during the flight. In one carriage a little girl has been trampled to death in the throng. Soldiers carry her dead on a stretcher. From the other side across the rails, a woman comes running : she jumps wildly and her hair flutters madly in front of her eyes. She screams. She has not yet got there, she has seen nothing, but she knows; it was hers, it was hers...

Meanwhile Polish Jews, slinking along the walls, bargained... They pounced on the soldiers back from the front, and bought Italian money. At the exit armed sailors made a disturbance and took eggs and fat from the baskets of peasant women. Agitators with red ribbons round their arms, delegates of the Soldiers' Council, distributed revolutionary handbills; one of them made a speech. The soldiers surrounded him, some listened, some laughed, scratched their heads, and, as they went on, no longer saluted their superiors.

A train, came in with a shrill cry, as if it were a refugee itself, panting and shabby after its long flight, and poured out more people. Wounded soldiers dragged themselves to the refreshment room. The foot of one was wrapped in a newspaper : the red guards at the Austrian frontier had taken his boots. More refugees. Once they had a home, they had a fireside... Now all is lost ! Hunger stares imploringly out of their eyes and they reach for their crust of bread as if they were asking for alms.

What hast thou done, Károlyi ?

I went home with a reeling head. Morning had extinguished the gas lamps a long while ago. I looked in the faces that passed me in the gray light of day. Are these refugees too ? The town around me was shabby and dirty. Grimy flags flapped from the houses in the cold air. They were still there to proclaim their impudent lie— " the people's victory. "

We have lost the war. Foreign troops invade Hungary, tens of thousands of refugees tramp the streets, and Budapest feasts her traitors and stands beflagged in the centre of the collapsing country.


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, tcachers, 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'Esperay 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'Esperay 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'Esperay 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'Esperay 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'Esperay : " 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'Esperay, 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.


November 12th.

What has happened ?

In front of one of the big schools sailors were lined up in a row. A company, armed to the teeth, stood in the middle of the road. People looked at each other curiously, anxiously. This school had an evil past. In October the deserters had gathered together here, the armed servants of the Károlyi revolution. It is said that Tisza's murderers started from this point.

" What are they up to now ? "

" They're Ladislaus Fényes's sailors. They're going to Pressburg against the Czechs, " a lean, fair man said.

Somebody sighed " Poor people of Pressburg ! " The fair man made a frightened sign to him to keep quiet. Behind his back an officer began to talk excitedly. I could only hear half of what he said, but it was something to the effect that in one of the barracks three thousand soldiers and five hundred officers who were going to the defence of Upper Hungary had been disarmed by the orders of Pogány.

A broad, dark Jew, rigged out in field uniform, now came out of the school building, a ribbon of national colours on his chest. His voice did not reach me. I only saw his mouth move. He addressed the sailors, and cheers rang through the street. The crowd rushed forward and I turned back to escape it, tried to reach home by a circuitous route. Suddenly I heard more cheering, and behind me the roadway resounded with heavy steps. The detachment of sailors was marching to the railway station, the mob accompanying it. The detachment was headed by the dark Jew, with drawn sword, and behind him marched a criminal looking rabble dressed in sailors' uniforms. Most of them wore red ribbons in their caps, and the deeply cut blouses displayed their bare, hairy chests. The last sailor was a squashed nosed, sturdy man, his dirty pimpled face shone. Round his bare neck he wore a red handkerchief. As he walked along he caught his foot in something and looked back. Between his strong, bushy eyebrows and protruding cheekbones his eyes were set deep. I shuddered. This riff-raff going to the defence of Pressburg ! Are such as they to recover Upper Hungary ?

Then I remembered. The man at the head of the sailors must have been Victor Heltai-Hoffer, who on the 31st of October, from the Hotel Astoria, was nominated Commander of Budapest's garrison. I was told that he had been a contractor, but people from Károlyi's entourage affirmed that he had been a waiter in a music-hall of ill-fame. Later he became a professional dancer, and during the war he lived by illicit trade, dabbling in hay, fat and sugar. Those who were his accomplices are not likely to be mistaken... On the day of the revolution Heltai offered to storm the Garrison's command with a band of deserters. This disgraceful success was followed by his nomination to the post of commander by Fényes, Kéri, and the other National councillors. A few days ago queer news was circulated about him, and he was suspended from his position. Heltai is said to be in possession of certain disgraceful secrets concerning those in power, and it was possible that he was put in command of the Pressburg relief force in order to get rid of him.

The noise of the sailors' steps was lost in the hubbub of the street. Carriages passed with their miserable lean horses, people went to and fro with spiritless monotony. Although the sailors had long disappeared I still seemed to see the last, with his squashed nose, his red tie. That criminal face wore the expression of the whole contingent.

And that horrible face under a cap worn on one side of the head is everywhere in a country that putrifies. It appears in the light of the burning houses, it enters at night into lonely manors, into cottages, it rushes in under the portals of palaces, goes through the rooms, searches, spies, and there is no escape from it. Whoever it pursues, it will catch... Then it wipes its bloody hands on silk or linen, and when its heavy step has passed, death grins in the dark, pillaged room behind it.

Once upon a time the word " sailor " brought to our minds the image of the great, free expanse of oceans and shores. Now we hold our breath at its sound, and shudder in horror.

That face with the sailor's cap worn rakishly on one side, that face with the deep, loot-seeking eyes... There it was in Moscow when thousands of Imperial officers were slaughtered between the walls of the Kremlin. It was in Petrograd in the hour of starkest horror, in Odessa, in Altona; and in Helsingfors it bathed itself in the blood of Finns. It is now in Berlin, in the Imperial castle on which the red flag floats. And it was lurking in the courtyard of Schonbrunn Castle when the Emperor Charles was driven from his home.

I can see the large staircase of Schonbrunn by which the Emperor, the Empress and their little fair children left their home, walking down alone, expelled. In olden days a hundred footmen jumped at a sign of their hand; courtiers bowed to the ground before them. Now, wherever they looked, there was not one faithful eye for them; whoever they might call, he would not come.

When Francis Joseph was dying on his little iron camp-bed, in a room at Schonbrunn, the heir to the crown and the Archduchess Zita wrung their hands in their despair. " Good God, not yet, not yet " ... Then the door of the old ruler's room was opened : it had become a mortuary, and they two walked slowly down the great gallery. The Court bowed low before them. And they walked weeping, holding each other's hands. Since then they have been always walking, through many mistakes, disappointments, and tears, and now they have reached the bottom of the staircase.

The little Crown Prince, as he had been taught, saluted all the time with his baby hands. " They won't acknowledge it to-day, mother, " he said sadly. The red-cockaded peoples' guards who occupied the place turned aside.


The King, in civilian clothes, with bowed head, stepped out into the open. The sound of his steps died away in the big, empty house, and the darkness of the evening swallowed up the garden, under whose straight-cut hedges, peopled with statues of gods and goddesses, the Hapsburgs had passed so many lovely summers.

When the royal motor-cars passed through the court of honour the usual bugle-call did not resound; the guard did not turn out, and red flags rose above the roofs of the houses of Schonbrunn. Over the gate the double-headed eagle was covered with red rags; though it had been predatory and had cruelly clawed peoples and countries, it had never returned from its flight without bringing treasures for Vienna. And it may be the greatest tragedy of the Hapsburgs that their unduly favoured capital turned indifferently away from them when the scum of the red power had driven them from home.

The rapidly speeding car took the unfortunate prince to Eckhardsau, and henceforth he lived under the protection of the National Council of the Renners and Bauers. Who knows for how long ? Who knows what is in store for him.


November 13th.

Every day has its news, and the news has eagle's claws that tear the living flesh.

Behind the retreating Mackensen, Roumanians pour through the Transylvanian passes. The Serbians have occupied the Bánat and the Bácska. Temesvár and Zombor are in their hands. The Czechs are advancing towards Kassa and, after having robbed our land, they even want to rob the country of its coat of arms. They have stolen our three hills surmounted by a double cross and have assigned it as arms to Upper Hungary, which they have named Slovensko.

To-day Linder is going to sign in Belgrade the death-bearing armistice conditions. In Arad, Jászi is distributing our possessions to the Roumanians. Károlyi is intriguing to undermine the power of Mackensen, who, at the head of forty to fifty thousand men, is the only armed hope remaining in the midst of destruction. A deputation of magnates, all, without exception, patriotic, faithful lords, has, inconceivably, arrived at Eckhardsau, to ask the King for his resignation. It is more than one can bear.

The country is going through the horrors of decomposition while still alive ; its counterfeit head is rotting and its members falling off. And there is no silence in our distracting grief; the great decay is accompanied by revolting continuous applause. Those who cause the ruin applaud themselves. In the press, in their speeches, on their posters, in their writings : their applause drowns the groans of agony. The day begins with this abject applause, for it appears in the morning papers, and in the evening it follows us home and haunts our dreams; it tears our self-respect to shreds, for it is a perpetual reminder of our own impotence. The press with its foreign soul, which has enmeshed public opinion completely, now prostitutes the soul and language of Hungary; it has betrayed and sold us; it applauds our degradation, jeers and throws dirt at the nation which has given its partisans a home.

The chief writer of Budapest's Jewish literature, Alexander Bródy, has written an article in an evening paper about the German Emperor, of whom he used to speak, not so long ago, when he was still in power, as if he were a demi-god. Now he starts as follows : " One of the world's greatest criminals, Wilhelm Hohenzollern, has escaped from his country, and in Holland has begged his way into the castle of Count Bentinck. There he slept last night with about ten others, a trifling part of his accursed race, with his always smart red-faced (because always drunk) son, the wife of the latter, Cecilia, and with the Mother-Empress, that shapeless female of the human species. " And he ends up : " Moaning, sick, uncomfortable, the escaped Kaiser lies on his bed. And for the present the 'poor old man' only trembles for his life; they may spit into his face, they may put him on his bended knees—nothing matters so long as his life is granted. "

He who now writes like this is the master of those radical journalists who form the major part of the present government. That is the spirit which rules over the forum to-day. That is the tone which is assumed by those who claim to speak for the nation, which for nearly a thousand years has enjoyed the reputation of being the most chivalrous nation of Europe.

This article, however, roused Hungarian society even from its present torpor. Only the meanest kick the unfortunate. The paper received several thousand letters of protest, and many subscribers returned their copies. But what is the good of that ? The paper takes no notice of protests, and the shame of the cowardly notice, like many other disgraceful actions committed in our name, will recoil upon us, and we shall have to bear its disgrace.

How long must we suffer this ? Good, gracious God, how long will it last ?

There is no place we can look to for consolation. From the frontiers, narrowing round us every day, fugitive Hungarians are pouring in. On all the roads of the land despoiled and homeless people are in flight. Carts and coaches, pedestrians and herds of cattle mix on the highway, and the trains roll along, dragging cattle trucks filled with homeless humanity. Villages, whole towns in flight...


Maddened, with weeping eyes, half Hungary is escaping towards the capital which has betrayed it. And the heart-breaking wave of humanity is no longer an unknown crowd : familiar names are mentioned, and one perceives familiar faces. They are coming by day and by night, those who have no hearth, no clothes, not a scrap of food; and instead of their clean homes they have to beg for quarters in low inns, for fantastic prices, even if it is but for a single night...

Rain poured down in the street. A cold wind blew at the corners as I walked with a little parcel under my arm towards a small hotel on the boulevards. I got the news this morning : some dear, good people have arrived there, robbed of everything they possessed. The hotel was ill-ventilated and dirty. The lift did not work, and I climbed painfully up the dark stairs. Muddy footsteps had left their mark on the dirty, crumpled carpet. And the whole place was pervaded with a stench made up of kitchen smells and the pungent odour of some insecticide.

In the dusk of the third floor's corridor I could not distinguish the numbers of the rooms. I opened a door at haphazard. The air of the room met me like a filthy, corrupt breath. A Polish Jew in his gabardine was standing near the window and, swaying from the hip, was explaining something with an air of importance to a clean-shaven co-religionary, dressed in the English style. A few men stood in the middle of the room, and foreign banknotes tied in bundles lay on the table. They seemed to be Russian roubles. One man threw a newspaper over the table and came towards me. " What do you want ? " he asked, rather embarrassed, though he spoke threateningly.

" I made a mistake, " I said, and banged the door.

Behind the next door I found the friends for whom I was looking. The wintry darkness was lit up by an electric light near the bed, on which a pale little boy was lying. The other child was huddled up in a chair, swinging his legs wearily. Their father stood with his back to me, between the two wings of the curtain, and was gazing through the window into the November rain. The mother was sitting motionless near the little invalid; her two hands lay open in her lap, as if she had dropped everything. When she recognised me she did not say a word, but just nodded, and tears came to her eyes. Her husband turned back from the window. His face was a picture of rebelling despair. He clenched his fists, and, while he spoke, walked restlessly up and down the room.

" The Roumanians have taken everything we possessed; nothing is left, though we have worked hard all our lives. They robbed us in our very presence. We had to look on and could do nothing to prevent it. Then they drove us out of the house with this sick child. "

" What is the matter with it ? "

" Typhus, and yet they showed no mercy. "

The sick boy tossed his head from one side to the other and groaned in his sleep. His groans are not the only ones that the shabby gray walls had heard this year. Rooms that are never unoccupied, rooms like great stuffy cupboards that are crammed with humanity. Their complements arrive and are crammed into them, awaiting with trembling heart the hour when some new arrivals, able to pay more, will crowd them out again. Up and out on to the road again, to drag with them the horrible vision of their lost land, their destroyed home, through the great town which has squandered without mercy that which was theirs and now has no pity for them.

But there is also another drawer in the cupboard : that other room, the man in his gabardine, the clean shaven one, the foreign money on the table... No, these don't suffer. These have cortie to take possession of what is left of Hungary.

Through the influence of Trotski, Jews from Hungary who were prisoners of war, became in Russia the dreaded tyrants of lesser towns, the heads of directorates. The Soviet now sends these people back as its agents. Will the government prevent them from coming ? Will it arrest them ? Probably not. Many believe that during his stay in Switzerland Károlyi came to an agreement with the Bolsheviki and now abets the world-revolutionary aims of the Russian terror. Sinister tales circulate under the walls of the houses of Pest. What madness ! An agricultural country like Hungary is no soil for that seed. And yet... A few days ago an alarming rumour spread. In vain did the government attempt to suppress it. The news leaked out that as soon as it had come to power the government received a wireless message from the Russian Workers' and Soldiers' Council, who sent their fraternal greetings and promised that the Russian Soviet would send help and food if only the Hungarian proletariat would join it in its war against the Capitalism of the Allies. For, said the wireless : " The freeing of the toiling masses is possible only through a proletarian world-revolution. Unite, Hungarian proletarians ! Long live the world-revolution ! Long live the dictatorship of the proletariat ! Long live the world's Soviet-republic ! "

This message, kindled by the fire of class hatred, spread its sparks over the Russian swamps, over the Carpathians, and fell glowing into Károlyi's nefarious camp. Nobody trod on it to extinguish it, it was kept alive, in secret, among them. No wonder they are uneasy.


November 14th.

The days are getting shorter and shorter, and darkness comes earlier every day.

The lamp was lit on my table. Count Emil Dessewffy was telling me about his journey to Eckhardsau. Now and then he fixed his strong single-eyeglass into his orbit, then again he toyed with it between his long, thin fingers, as if it were a shining coin. He was obviously nervous; and he kept crossing and uncrossing his legs.

" Prince Nicolas Eszterházy, Baron Wlassics, Count Emil Széchényi and I went there. The Cardinal Primate declined at the last moment. "

" How could you bring yourselves to such a step ? "

" Our intention was to check Károlyi's machinations, to obtain the resignation of the King, and to persuade his Majesty to stand aside temporarily. At first the King wouldn't listen to reason. He said he had taken the oath to the Hungarian people ; if others wanted to break their oath towards him, let them arrange that with their conscience; he was not going to perjure himself. We explained to him that as he had already transferred, alas, his supreme command to Károlyi, he would safeguard the interests of poor Hungary and of the dynasty better by standing aside during the period of transition, than by hanging on obstinately to his formal right. By this he might frustrate the attempt of those who are fishing in troubled waters to force the nation to face the fait accompli of a deposition by violence. The King stamped his foot and declared several times that whatever might happen he would not stand aside. We explained the advantages of the step from various points of view, and at last made him understand that after the mistakes that had already been made, no other solution was possible. Wlassics edited the document, but we couldn't make a final draft because no foolscap paper could be found in the whole castle. We sent out for some paper. Then there was no ink, and we had to search for a pen. Time passed, and meanwhile the King went out shooting... "

" Went out shooting ! " The whole tragedy seemed to be becoming a burlesque.

" Yes, we were rather shocked, " said Dessewffy. " But later on we found that there was not a scrap of food in the castle, and the King had to obtain game so that the Queen and the children might not starve. It is all very sad. Their clothes too were left behind in Vienna. When they left Schonbrunn they just threw a few things hurriedly into the car. The children have no change of clothes. They even had to sleep for several nights without bedclothes. It's no good sending messages to Vienna : the Government Council, which has taken them under its protection, does not even answer. "


I thought of the Austrian and Czech nobles, so favoured by the Hapsburgs, of those, who, insisting on their rights based on the Spanish etiquette of older times, were mortally offended if at some festivity at the Vienna Burg they could not stand in the immediate vicinity of the Emperor, or were put by mistake into a position somewhat inferior to their rank. Where were they ? Where was the ruler's General Staff ? The generals covered with orders ? Where was the bodyguard with its commander, which " dies but never surrenders ? " In the last days of Schonbrunn they all had withdrawn like the tide from the forsaken shore. " Nous étions tout seuls, " the Queen had said.

" And then ? " I asked Count Dessewffy.

" After a time some paper was brought, two sheets in all, and Széchényi sat down to make a clean copy of the document : he had the best handwriting of us all. "

Dessewffy showed me the original document. It read :

" Since the day of my succession to the throne I have always tried to free my people from the horrors of this war—a war in the causation of which I had no share whatever. I do not wish that my person should be an obstacle to the prosperity of the Hungarian people. Consequently I resign all participation in the direction of affairs of State and submit in advance to the decision by which Hungary will fix its future form of government. Dated at Eckhardsau, November 13th 1918.

Charles. "

" The King still hesitated when the document lay ready for signature on the table. And as he wavered with the pen in his hand he looked the very picture of despair. During the last few days the hair on the sides of his head has turned gray. Suddenly tears came into his eyes, and he fell sobbing on Count Hunyadi's shoulder. Well, none of our eyes were quite dry... "

While Dessewffy talked on, I thought of a tale I had heard long, long ago.

It was evening in a village far away. The autumnal wind was rising, and the poplars round the house were soughing like organ pipes in a dark church. In the kitchen the maids were shelling peas. The light of the fire played over their hands, and the dry shells fell with a gentle rattle on the brick floor. Katrin, the housekeeper, was telling a story... " And the wicked knights went into the King's tent, armed with halberds and maces, and said in a terrible voice : ' Give up your crown or you shall die the death.' The beautiful Queen folded her hands imploringly, and the King took his crown off his head... " That was the story. The maids cried over the poor king, and in their hearts approved of him.

In stories it is the unfortunate who are always right, in reality it is those on whom fortune smiles.


November 15th.

" Long live Michael Károlyi ! Elect him President of the Republic !... " Again a paper disease has infected the houses' skin.

In the first year of the war Michael Károlyi had betted that he would be the president of the Hungarian Republic... Will he win his bet tomorrow ? But whoever may win, Hungary will be the loser.

Posters... new posters appear above the old ones. A new shame covers the old, and that is all that changes in our lives. Big flags float in the wind on the boulevards. Flags are hoisted on the electric lamp-posts, and above the house entrances the old ones flap about. The government has ordered the beflagging of every house in the country, and its newspapers are preparing the mood of the morrow. They announce in big type :


I heard a little school-girl say to her friend : " Károlyi is a great man. He makes the fashion, now even the French are imitating us... "

" Long live... shouted the walls and the shop windows, but the people were silent. Why ? Why don't they tear down the disgraceful posters ? Why are they resigned, why do I alone protest ? Or are there more of us, only we don't know of each other ? I looked carefully at the passing faces. Their eyes passed indifferently over the posters. Nothing mattered to them. I walked quickly, as if haunted, a stranger among the soulless crowd.

I reached Károlyi's palace. The one-storeyed house, built in the Empire style, looked low under its old roof among the high, newly erected buildings. The row of windows was dark : Károlyi had already moved into the Prime Minister's house. The first floor was inhabited only by the tenant of half the building, Count Armin Mikes, and I had come to see his wife. Since the events of October I had not been there.

The little side gate opened as I rang, noiselessly, as if automatically, and the concierge looked out of his loge and disappeared. Nothing stirred. Under the deep arch of the entrance my steps alone resounded; they echoed strangely, as if invisible hands were dropping things behind me.

I stopped for an instant. The soul of the place seemed to be whispering in the dark. On the right side a corridor was visible through a glass-panelled door, its walls covered with revolutionary pictures, and at its end a side staircase led into Károlyi's apartments. I shuddered, as one does when one enters a house where a murder has been committed. The traitors—perjured officers, Gallileist students, deserters—congregated up there, in the dark rooms, in the nights of October. Those who sold us and, among themselves, sentenced Tisza to death whispered and advised up there.

I went on. From the semi-obscurity of the huge staircase, marble seemed to tumble down like a frozen waterfall. Beyond, in the garden, the trees whispered in the cold wind.

Countess Mikes' small drawing-room was light and warm. I found a gathering of Transylvanians there, and beyond the room the notorious house, the whole town, seemed to have disappeared. My own sufferings were forgotten in the recital of theirs, and I was no longer alone in my grief, for all who were present shared it with me. They helped to raise up hope, because they knew what patriotism was, it is an old legacy of theirs. The strength and the will power which supported Hungary throughout her most disastrous periods, when the Turks from the south and the Germans from the west trod on Hungary's soil, had their source in Transylvania. When the fire of resistance was extinguished everywhere else, it went on burning among its inhabitants. And so after every dark night our race has gone to Transylvania to kindle anew the flame which has lighted it back into the dying country.

Great, suffering Transylvania, what is thy reward for this ?

There they sat, Transylvanian men and women, the descendants of ancient princes, sufferers with shaded eyes. And as I looked at them there appeared behind their handsome faces the dreamlike outlines of a bluish-green landscape. As if seen in the crystal of an antique emerald ring, distant, dreamy trees appeared : two pointed poplars reached towards the sky : down below, among the meadows, a willow-bordered brook flowed softly : wagons rumbled on the winding road : a horseman came slowly, with a sack across the saddle in front of him. Beyond, the meadow rose to a velvety hillock, where an ancient spire, a little village, a tiny Székler village, nestled...

A wanderer told me the tale this summer, when I was in Transylvania. It happened during the war, in 1916. It was when the alarm was raised for the first time, and one day the cry passed through undefended Transylvania, " The Roumanians are coming ! " In mad haste it spread through the counties, rushed along the electric wires, rang in the bells : " Save yourselves ! " One village carried the next with it, Transylvania was fleeing.

In the village of Gelencze, on the bank of the rippling brook, at the foot of the hillock, there was silence. It was just like any other day; the people were working in the fields. Meanwhile the Roumanians crept cautiously through the undefended Transylvanian passes. One morning early, soon after the break of day, like some awful sudden death, they fell upon the people of Gelencze, there in their fields in the midst of their peaceful work. The people were helpless. Only one old Székler raised his spade, and fell with a shout among the rifles. They knocked him down, but he did not die; so they nailed him to a plank and dragged him into the forest that he might die there, alone. He was heard till nightfall, struggling and cursing the Roumanians.

That is how Gelencze was informed of the invasion of Transylvania. The alarm, the cry of warning, had passed it by, had missed it on the way. The telegraph wires carried the news, but they passed over its head, and not a word, not a sound came to bring warning. The Government, the County, the District, forgot—Hungary forgot the little village.


A wanderer told me all this, there, just outside the village of Gelencze, when it was still ours. And as I listened to the sad story it became bigger and deeper, so deep that the whole of Transylvania had room in it... The hillock became the mass of Transylvania's mountains, the brook became all Transylvania's rivers, and the fate of the village was Transylvania's fate.

" Do you remember how I promised you that summer, down there, that I would write a book of Transylvania, that I would trumpet the rights of your land, your race ? I was to proclaim the wrongs you have suffered and call to account those who directed Hungary's fate and for ever forgot the Hungarian folk in Transylvania. How they delivered you to the tender mercies of your foes, and armed neither your soul nor your arm for resistance... A forgotten village ! Do you remember ? I said that that should be the title of my book. You were nothing but a forgotten village to those who wielded power in Hungary. The sufferings of Transylvania never caused them a moment's inconvenience... And the present government surpasses them all. As if it had decided on your destruction it now sends out an old accomplice of the Roumanian Irredenta to speak in the defence of the victim whom he himself has condemned to death. Oscar Jászi deals to-day in Arad with Transylvania's fate."

Hate and disgust were depicted on the faces of the Transylvanian women. That man of Galician origin, the internationalist who wanted to make an eastern Switzerland of our country, and who hated everything that was Hungarian to such an extent that his hatred made him forget the traditional caution of his race and exclaim in a fury when speaking of us, " If they don't obey, let them be exterminated "—he is sent there to negotiate in the name of the Hungarian race ! The very spirit in which he conducted the negotiations showed his eagerness to revenge himself on the nation which had given him hospitality : he renounced what was not his, gave up rights which were ours, and sold Transylvania to Manin's Roumanian National Council, which he and Károlyi had themselves created during the October days. In Arad the Roumanians speak already of national sovereignty ! They claim a Roumanian supremacy and twenty-six Hungarian counties ! They demand that the Hungarian Popular Government shall disarm the police, disband the Hungarian National Guards, punish all energetic officers, but... that it shall provide arms for the Roumanian National Guards and pay for its men and officers out of the Hungarian taxpayer's pocket. Jászi and the revolutionary Government delegates have promised all this. Meanwhile the Roumanians are dragging out the negotiations, and their voices become more and more sharp and exacting, for do they not know that every hour takes the royal Roumanian troops deeper into the heart of undefended Transylvania ?

And while at the county hall of Arad the traitors are at work, the main column of Mackensen's always victorious army is rolling over the bridge across the Maros. Endless rows of motor columns pass. Behind them comes an unceasing flow of army service corps wagons, covered ammunition wagons, lorries, carts and waggonets. Hours and days pass, and they are still going on, orderly, gray, grave. They do not rob, they do not pillage, they just go on, from the foot of the Balkan Mountains, from the frontiers of Transylvania, through Hungary. On foot, on horseback, on wagons, in close columns, on they go, silently, homewards.

With them goes hope, and Károlyi watches with an anxious eye : if he turned back, if he lifted his fist... And Roumanian heads in sheepskin caps appear above the crests of the mountains, look after the Germans, and their feet stamp on Transylvania's heart.

My bitterness overflowed and I burst out, " We shall take it back ! "

The Transylvanian women pressed my hand.

" We shall take it back, " said one of them; " I do not know how, but I feel it will be so. "

As I came out of the house I saw my brother Béla come towards me. He said hurriedly, " I met Emma Ritoók, who also is in despair. She asked me to tell you that she must speak to you. " That again reminded me that probably there were many of us, only we did not know of each other... My mother, my brothers and sisters, Countess Zichy, the Transylvanian women, Emma Ritoók, they are faces I can see, voices I can hear, but beyond them there must be many women scattered in the great silent multitude, left to themselves, who weep over the past and fear the future...

When the electric tram stopped I stepped forward to get off. Somebody knocked me in the back. My feet missed the steps and I fell, face first, into the road. I looked back. It was a fat young man, in brand-new field uniform. His characteristic nose fell like a soft bag over his lips. He jumped over me without saying a word, nor did he attempt to help me. He was in a hurry... I just caught sight of his two fleshy ears under his cap as he rushed on.

That is typical of the streets of Budapest to-day; in fact that is the only reason why I mention it. Unfortunately I sprained my ankle.

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