Ugrás a tartalomhoz Lépj a menübe

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


November 16th.

I am ill after my fall yesterday. An icy wind blows at my window. Loud voices rise from the street.

Presently my mother looked out and said, " The saddlers and leather-workers are assembling; they've got red tickets in their hats. "

Hours passed by. Suddenly I heard a loud buzzing overhead and an aeroplane flew through the grey air over the streets. Parliament at this moment is proclaiming the Republic—Károlyi's National Council is announcing that all Hungary shall be governed by the Republic of Pest. Some handbills were brought up to me from the street... " Victorious Revolution... Kingship is dead, long live the independent Hungarian Republic ! "

I buried my head in my pillow, unable to say a word. There seemed to be a little mill in my chest and another in my head, and both went round and round madly, grinding me to powder. Then I became aware that there was a newspaper on my table—the smell of fresh bad printer's ink betrayed its presence. It contained an account of what had happened; everything passed off in an orderly way and nobody had prevented it. Another opportunity missed, another day of hope gone ! The House of Commons, the Lords, met, resigned themselves without protest, and the newspaper announces : " This is a red-letter day in Hungary's history... "

Those who had been present told me afterwards that early in the day the trade unions proceeded from their meeting place to the House of Parliament.

They carried red flags, big placards, and a black coffin marked " Kingship is dead. " The brass bands of the workmen and of the postal workers blared, bands of gypsies and choral societies gave voice. Red insignia everywhere. The nation's colours had disappeared even from the caps of the national guards and they too sported red labels with " Long live the Hungarian Republic. " The only two Hungarian flags, and small ones at that, were placed on the front of the House of Parliament. Over the porch of the central entrance a huge red flag floated in the breeze as if Internationalism from its newly conquered home were putting its tongue out in derision at the crowd, which it had beguiled so far by means of cockades of the national colours and with white chrysanthemums. Opposite, on the buildings of the High Court and the Ministry of Agriculture, red drapery was displayed all along the first storey. It looked just as if a gaping wound, inflicted with a giant axe, had cut them in twain.

The shops were closed. Trams were not running. Traffic had stopped like a breath withheld, ready to cough itself again into the streets of the town. A cordon of sailors lined up in front of the House : rather a painful surprise for the government, this. Heltai had come back from Pressburg with his men in a special train : surely the Republic was not going to be proclaimed without him ! So the defence of Upper Hungary is now suspended for the time being while Heltai adorns himself with the national colours : he entered Pressburg under the red flag. There are rumours that his sailors are connected with certain robberies. In Pest it is murmured that he knows something about Tisza's murder.

Five aeroplanes circled over the square, the crowd kept increasing, and then a giant advertisement on a long stretched canvas was brought out on poles from a side street. The wind blew it up like a sail and made fun of its inscription :  " This morning in Parliament Square we shall proclaim Count Michael Károlyi President of the Republic ! "

It was ten o'clock. The Speaker's bell rang. And the Hungarian House of Commons, to its eternal disgrace, without a word of protest, dissolved itself in impotence. In the other wing of the building the Lords had met at the same time. Only thirty-two were present. They too had forgotten the old classical cry : " Moriamur pro rege nostro ! " Only Baron Julius Wlassics, the president, spoke. He did not pronounce the dissolution of the Lords. He said as little as possible, and ended his address with the words : " Our constitution decrees that the dissolution of the House of Commons as part of our two-chamber legislature will naturally render the further constitutional functions of the House of Lords impossible, consequently I hereby suspend the sitting of the House of Lords. "

This was the last act of an institution which was born over a thousand years ago at Pusztaszer, had become the dignified Diet of Buda, the heroic National Assembly of Pressburg, Francis Deák's parliament. And under the cupola rose the voice of that which was begotten by yesterday's treason, murder and destruction, and will undoubtedly engender anarchy.

" Honoured National Assembly... "  John Hock, the notorious priest, the President of the so-called National Assembly, raised his voice. Nobody can tell for whom he spoke. National Assemblies are elected bodies, and those who were there had been elected by nobody.

In the newspapers the speech was given in long columns of thick type. My eyes passed over them, I saw only the speaker in his black cassock, hiding behind the black columns, his diabolical face drawn between his shoulders. A guilty priest, a guilty Hungarian, who has betrayed both his God and his country. Once in his youth he was the adulated preacher of the crowd. Then his downfall began. The gifted but morally weak man with a corrupt soul got into debt and became the political tool of his creditors... That brought him into Károlyi's camp.

His accomplices, who like to compare their little rebellion made in the Hotel Astoria romantically to the great French Revolution, call Károlyi their Mirabeau and have dubbed John Hock the Abbe Siéyès. Do they call their ladies, Countess Károlyi, Baroness Hatvany, Mrs. Jászi, Laura Polányi, Rosa Schwimmer, conforming to this precedent, sans-culottes and tricoteuses ?... There they are, all of them, in the big hall under the cupola, pantingly enjoying the hour of their triumph. And John Hock goes on with his speech. I see him before me, as I have seen him so often in the street and occasionally in the little office of the manager of the Urania scientific theatre, whither he took the manuscript of his play Christ and whither he went to talk politics, speaking in mysterious, dark prophecies. His head always reminded me of the characteristic old illustrations of Mephistopheles in Faust. The little black velvet cap with the peacock's feather would suit him to perfection. On his unkempt, domed skull the hair is short and looks more like bristles than hair. In his crafty, wicked eyes there is something of the look of those animals that live underground. His ill-shaved face is blue and is always unwashed. His cassock is covered from neck to foot with grease-spots ; now and then he fumbles with his indescribably dirty hands in the depths of his pockets. He has to stoop down to reach their bottom. Then he produces a dented snuff-box, and cocking his little finger with grotesque grace, stretches his thumb and index finger into the box. His filthy fingers lift the snuff to his nostrils, brown with continuous snuffing. Then he leans his head back and shuts his eyes, in expectant ecstasy.


So he stood on the platform in the hall, filled with applause, after having proclaimed the republic and having proposed that : " the holidays of royal paraphernalia should be abolished and that the glorious days of the revolution and the republic, the 31st of October and the 16th of November, should for all times be declared National holidays. " Then he read out a declaration, imposed on Károlyi by Jászi, Kúnfi, Kéri and Landler, " in the name of the Hungarian nation and by the will of the people... " by which it was decided that Hungary was a Popular Republic, independent and separate from any other country, the supreme power being provisionally in the hands of the popular government, headed by Michael Károlyi and supported by the National Council. It declared that the popular government must urgently legislate and adopt general, secret, equal, direct suffrage, including women in the electorate, for elections for the National Assembly, Communal and Legal councils; decree the freedom of the press, trial by jury, freedom of assembly, and take the necessary steps for the agricultural population to obtain possession of the land.

The public in the hall shouted its unanimous assent after every point.

Then Károlyi rose to speak, to speak with that frightful voice which is the natural consequence of his infirmity. He proclaimed the deposition of the Hapsburgs, declaimed Wilson's sacred principles, the League of Nations, the right of peoples to decide their own fate, of eternal peace, and wound up in a pathetic stutter : " only through sufferings, only through the sea of blood caused by the war, could the peoples of Europe and the people of Hungary understand that there was only one possible policy : the policy of pacificism... The policy of pacificism was no more a restricted local policy, but the policy of the world... The Hungarian nation, the Hungarian state and the Hungarian race must cling to this world-policy, because only such nations will prosper, only such nations will progress, as can adapt themselves to, and adopt, the world-policy which is expressed in the single word Pacificism. "

The hour was tragical and I had suffered much, but I could not help laughing. Never did pitiable blabber say anything more stupid than this, nor anything more wicked, for while he is proclaiming pacificism, militarism armed to the teeth is invading Hungary from all sides. Is it mere stupidity or the last service to a horrible treason ? Whatever it be, after this it is useless to analyse Károlyi's mentality.

The Mirabeau of the Astoria was followed by the spokesman of the Social Democratic Party : Sigmund Kunfi-Kunstätter, the Minister for Public Welfare. He is said to be one of Lenin's emissaries. His face is like a vulture's, his eyes are cunning and inquisitive. After John Hock's rhetoric and Károlyi's disgraceful stutter, this cashiered Jewish schoolmaster, who has changed his religion three times for mercenary reasons but has remained faithful to his race, spoke with fiendish ingenuity. He mixed truths with Utopias, promised and threatened, and in the certitude of his victory tore asunder the veil that hid the future.


" By proclaiming this day a free, popular republic, " said Kunfi, " we have not only achieved great political progress, but we have started on a road of which the past revolution and this day are not the end but only important milestones... Political freedom, the republic, the most radical political democracy, all these are only means which shall enable the great struggle, the fight between poverty and wealth, to start easier and under better auspices... "

This is the battle cry of class-war, and till the war comes Kunfi offers as a narcotic social reforms : the levelling of poverty and wealth, land for the soldiers back from the front. And he promises that he will force the entailed estates, big capital and great industry, to give up everything that " justice " and the will of the people claim, and that in such a way that it will not interfere with the continuity of economic life.

This programme, which is not an end but only a landmark, expresses as yet Kautsky's ideas. But then, suddenly, it is no longer Kautsky; it is Lenin and Liebknecht who speak through this representative of their creed.

" Political democracy is only a tool for us, " said Kunfi; " this political freedom is valuable to us only because we believe and hope that by its means we shall be able to carry through the great social transformation just as bloodlessly, and with as few victims, as we have managed to achieve the Hungarian Revolution.''

" Long live the social revolution, " shouted the gallery.

In his next words Kunfi answered the shout and in the exhilaration of this triumph gave himself away :

" Our revolutionary work is not over yet ! After reforming our institutions we shall have to alter mankind ! "

So he confessed that it was not the people who wanted his institutions, but that his institutions wanted the people. And as he went on he admitted that the men of the future were not to be Hungarians. " Every place in this country must be filled by individuals who are inspired by the spirit of the new revolution, of this new Hungary, of this new world. " ... His words died away in a last sentence which, if it is understood by the nation, ought to rouse it to desperate resistance, for it is the proclamation of world-Bolshevism : " Every slave-nation stands this day with reddening cheeks on the stage of the world, and one after the other the peoples will rise with red flags and will sing in a powerful symphony the hymn of the world's freedom... "

It is to our everlasting shame that no single Hungarian rose to choke these words. In the Hall of Hungary's parliament Lenin's agent could unfurl at his ease the flag of Bolshevism, could blow the clarion of social revolution and announce the advent of a world-revolution, while outside, in Parliament Square, Lovászy and Bokányi, accompanied by Jászi, informed the people that the National Council had proclaimed the republic. On the staircase, Michael Károlyi made another oration. Down in the square, Landler, Welter, Preusz and other Jews glorified the republic—there was not a single Hungarian among them. That was the secret of the whole revolution. Above : the mask, Michael Károlyi ; below : the foreign race which has proclaimed its mastery.

And bands of Hungarian workmen and gypsies played the National Anthem and the Marseillaise, and Gallileists sang the Internationale. Humiliated, with bitter anger, I read in the newspapers of hundreds of thousands of people, furious cheers, and the frenzied, happiness of the multitude. Thus is the news spread over the country, while those who were present say that the people were shivering in the icy north wind that blew across the square, that they took everything with indifference, and only cheered when ordered to do so by their leaders.

Only when the National Anthem was played and a few Gallileists refused to uncover did the crowd knock their hats off. That was all that was done for the sake of Hungary's honour. Nobody proclaimed Michael Károlyi the president of the republic. The Socialists would not have it. Is he of no more use ? Do they not need him any more ? As a compensation, Kunfi ordered the National Guards to carry him shoulder high. So Károlyi was carried between the ranks of the commandeered trade unions across the square. The white canvasses with the inscription : " Let us proclaim Károlyi President of the Republic, " were rolled up in silence.

The workmen went home and said among themselves that now everything would be all right. There will be good times, and things will be cheap. The rabble, however, blackguarded the king and cursed the " gentle-folk. " At the head of one of their groups a shabby drunken woman walked with unsteady steps. Shaking her unkempt head she put her arms round the neck of a young fellow and dragged him along. After a time she let her companion go, chose another, and hugged and dragged him along while she danced some immodest steps.

Some peasant proprietors who had come there accidentally, walked in silence towards the city, their stout boots striking the cobbles firmly. In all this throng they alone represented the people of great Hungary.

A friend of mine followed them, to see what they would do. At last one of them, an old peasant, who seemed to have thought it over, stopped and turned to the others, measuring his words :

" This republic is a fine thing; but now I should like to know who is going to be King ? "


November 17 th.

How long and terrible the night can be ! Clocks strike, one after the other; one gently, another hesitatingly, and the fine old alabaster clock is hoarse, and its chest rattles between every stroke. Down in the street a carriage races past at a gallop, then a single shot rings out in the silence. The shot must have been fired in the street behind our house... Then everything relapses into silence for hours. The floor creaks, as if somebody is walking barefooted towards my bed, though nothing moves. How often did the clock strike ? I waited impatiently for the sound, and yet forgot to count the strokes. I lit the candle. Not even half the night is over, and it has lasted such an age. Then that hopeless, helpless despair came over me again. I don't want to think. It does no good. Yet in spite of myself something forces itself into my mind, leans over me, like a ghost. It is yesterday. It comes stealthily over the threshold, towards me. I shut my eyes in vain : I can see it though it is dark. I see the day with all its shame and cowardice. I can see those who have wrought our ruin triumph and applaud in the exhilaration of their success : " Long live the Republic ! " My sprained ankle smarts suddenly. The man who knocked me off the tram is conjured up : his head sails towards me through the air, as though borne by huge protruding ears. His nose projects enormously, and his mouth opens wide and shouts " Long live the Republic ! " The big hall under the cupola of the House of Parliament was full of mouths like this, with soft, flabby lips, and the curly thick lips of women. It was these who proclaimed the republic for Hungary. And we submitted, suffered it, and held our peace.

I try to calm myself, to restrain myself. The clocks strike again. Then silence once more, spreading like a thread which a spider draws out. The silence becomes longer, longer... I can stand it no more—if only something would make a noise ! I sit up, shivering, and strike the pillow with my fist. That does not mend matters. A subdued moan resounds through the room, a pitiable, miserable little sound which comes from my heart...

Do others suffer as much as I do ? I have spoken to nobody, have seen nobody. I don't know what they think. I have no one with whom to share my pain. Maybe that is the reason why it weighs so heavily upon me. I try to console myself. Things cannot go on like this. Like everything else it will pass. The revolution was made because the Jews were afraid of pogroms by the returning soldiers. The republic was made because the revolution was afraid of the counter-revolution. It is an accumulation of narcotics. But no narcotic lasts for ever. The only question is, what part of the victim is to be amputated while it lasts ?

At last a square of light appeared at one side of the room. At first it was gray, then it became blue, and finally it turned into daylight. So there was a new day again; it has come with empty hands and who knows what it will take with it ?

In the afternoon Emma Ritoók opened my door. " What happened to you ? " she asked as she came to my bedside.

" A hero of the revolution knocked me off the tram. "

" How do you know that he was a hero of the revolution ? "

" By his ears... And then, he wore a brand-new uniform. "

My friend was infinitely sad this day. Since we had last met, her credulous Hungarian nature had gone through an awful time. Despair and rebellion sounded in all her words. Years ago, when she attended for a term the lectures at Berlin University, she became acquainted with two Jews from Hungary. They met in the philosophy class. They were friends of her youth, and now these very people have made the rebellion of the Astoria Hotel against her country. She complained :

" They said that we were even incapable of arranging that by ourselves, that it needed Jews to obtain Hungary's independence for the Hungarians. I answered that we did not do it because it was unnecessary, that history would have brought us independence of her own accord. But they declared that humanity was sick and would not recover till a world revolution eliminated from this globe the last machine, the last book, the last sculpture, and the last violin too. This revolution must sweep away everything, so that nothing remains but man and the soil, because humanity is in need of a new soul, to begin everything from the very beginning. "

Tell them in my name that they are speaking for a race which has grown old, which suffers from senile decay and would like to be re-born. We are young, we have not yet exhausted our vitality, and innumerable possibilities are in store for us. Only a degenerate race can seek rejuvenation through destruction. Besides, if they want to re-create by these means a world torn from its past, it will not be enough to destroy the last book, the last statue and the last violin; they must destroy as well the last man who remembers. "

" I shan't be able to tell them, " she answered, " because I shan't see them again. Now it is not a question of philosophy, it is a question of my country. And that parts us for ever. "

" Is that the reason why you sent me a message that you had a spiritual need to meet me ? "

" We must do something. The men do nothing. We ought to organise the women. Unconsciously they are waiting for it. In the Club of Hungarian Ladies there are many who are of our way of thinking. "

" There too ?... "

The Club of Hungarian Ladies was founded a few years ago by a few aristocratic ladies inspired by Countess Michael Károlyi. For that reason I never joined it. Under the publicly proclaimed object of intellectual intercourse I suspected the ultimate political purpose. I had been right. In case of the admittance of women to the franchise, this club was required to furnish Michael Károlyi with a ready camp among intellectual women. The events of the last two weeks wrecked this plan, because the truth about Károlyi has begun to leak out. At one of their meetings the nationalist ladies, in opposition to the socialist, feminist and radical Jewish adherents of Countess Károlyi, had declared by a great majority for the territorial integrity of Hungary and had carried Emma Ritoók's resolution to address a protest to the women of the civilised world. Countess Károlyi, who was present, could not stand aside, so she promised that the government would bear the expenses of printing it and would see that the greatest possible publicity should be given to it abroad—on the sole condition that her husband should be allowed to have cognisance of the document. The members accepted the proposal, which seemed to forbode no danger to the protest, as it was to fight for the nation's right and it would have been folly to imagine that the government was opposed to that. They cheered Countess Károlyi and decided unanimously that although I did not belong to the club I should be asked to write the preface to the memorandum.

I accepted the commission. The interest of my country was at stake and I would have accepted the invitation whatever the source whence it came. Emma Ritoók brought the document back with her... Károlyi had looked through it and had struck out everything that might have been of any use to our cause. So that was the reason for Countess Károlyi's offer... A sieve that shall stop even the smallest national movement. We are cornered, and when we would cry for help the government puts its hand over our mouths. Officialdom holds down our hands when we would help ourselves.

" Put this carefully away, " I said to my friend, looking at the mangled document. " One day this may be another proof of his treason. "

Various handwritings alternated on the margin, besides the considerable cuts that had been made in the text.

" Jászi has read it, and Biró... This is Károlyi's handwriting; he even signed his name to it. "

This was the first time I had seen his handwriting. Loosely formed characters, words run together, others only half finished, the lines slanting towards the corner of the page, capital letters in the middle of sentences and innumerable mistakes in spelling. It looked just like him...

" What shall we do now ? " asked my friend. " We have worked in vain. The government will publish none but the revised document and it will stop any other from being sent abroad. "

" I shall find some way, " I answered; " but I will never permit my patriotism to be censored by Michael Károlyi. "

" Refuse it, " said my mother; " it is better it should not appear at all than appear in this form. "

In the evening I wrote a letter to Count Emil Dessewffy, to whom I had mentioned the memorandum, asking him to use his social connections, or the services of the ever-increasing Territorial Defence League, to get it abroad in its original form. I wrote in pencil, at some length, and poured all my bitterness into the letter. I criticised men and events without mercy. I called Károlyi and his friends traitors and the leaders of the Social Democrats the advance guard of Bolshevist world-rule.

I felt relieved when I had sent the letter. Then, I don't know why, I began to feel rather nervous about it. That letter might land me in prison. Nonsense. How could it get into wrong hands


November 18th.

To-night the ground shook in this branded town. Mackensen's motor columns were passing through Budapest. They went, without stopping, dark, thundering, betrayed, disappointed, out into the wintry night... My sister-in-law told me she had seen them. Big waterproofs covered the clattering motors and only their lamps betrayed that there was life in them. Not a man was visible. Like the phantoms of war they came from distant battlefields.

They went on for hours and only once was their progress stopped. One lorry pulled up for an instant, a man climbed out from under the waterproof, took a little box, waved his hand, and disappeared in the dark. He must have been a Hungarian soldier whom they had brought with them, goodness only knows whence. And the waving of the solitary hand was the only greeting and good-bye that our German comrades in arms received from Hungary's capital. The gray ghostly mass restarted and the others followed...

We followed them in our minds, as the eyes of a shipwrecked crew on a sinking raft follow the ship which disappears over the horizon without bringing help.

It has happened... they are gone, and in their track follow those whom now nobody can stop... And yet, the 1st Home-defence regiment has arrived with its full equipment, and the regiments of Debreczen and Pécs are coming too. Another has come from Albania and more come from Ukraine, from France and from Italy. Through Innsbruck alone more than half a million Hungarian troops have rushed homeward. They are disarmed, disbanded—are no more. Meanwhile through the pass of Ojtoz a Roumanian force consisting of sixteen frontier guards has invaded Hungarian territory. They looked round, gave the sign, and were followed by a battalion. They arm and enlist the Transylvanian Roumanians, and the land is lost to us.

Last week a small detachment, a few Serbian troopers, rode into Mohács.

Mohács... Once upon a time the Hungarian nation, with its king and its bishops, bled to death there, resisting the terrific onslaught of the Turks. The brook Csepel ran red with Hungarian blood, and the land was covered with Hungarian dead as far as the eye could see. Now a handful of Serbian cavalry ride over the mournful, grandiose graves and tread the deathbed of the King. The field is peacefully green, the water is clean, and there are no corpses on the grass. And yet, to-day Mohács is a greater cemetery of Hungary than it was on the day of the great death, for to-day there are none left ready to die for her.

What a nightmare it all is ! Down there the commander of the Serbian troops says : " I have been for seven years with my soldiers, and when we marched through Serbia we passed before our own houses, and not a single man entered his own home, but on they went, according to orders... The Serbian army has been at war since 1912, and yet it passed in front of its home, its little fields, its women, its children, went on and never stopped. " They come, they come for conquest, and our men do not defend what is their own. How they must hate us, our land and our race which has sunk so low ! How we have been poisoned by those who ought to lead us ! With narcotic lies they have inoculated us and planted the plague in our souls.

If only one could get away from these maddening thoughts, could tear them out of one's brain and get a moment's rest. But it cannot be done. They cling to us obstinately. These winter days in bed are terrible, and awful are the long, sleepless nights. Sometimes I think that people don't go mad here because they are already all lunatics.


November 19th.

Snow is falling. The roofs are white and shine against the background of the gray sky. Scanty, economical fires burn in our grates : the Serbians have occupied the coal-fields of Pécs, the Roumanians those of Petrozsény, so Hungary has no longer any coal, and the Czechs stop the supplies from Germany. In the gas-stove the flame is small and gives no heat. The new order diminishes the supply of electricity, and the globes have to be taken out of the chandelier. Only one is allowed in the room, and it sends its light sideways into a corner. I hobbled over to my mother. The partial light left dark recesses in the corners, and made the place unhomely, sad.

The table in the dining-room seemed to have changed too. In the silver vases there are still some evergreen twigs from our summer home, but flowers there are no longer. Everything is getting so expensive. Our fare diminishes every day too, but we pretend not to notice it. Every day sees the disappearance of something we were accustomed to. Things we used to take as granted have become luxuries. Already during the long years of war things were not always what they seemed : coffee was not coffee, nor were the tea, the sugar, or even the bread above suspicion. We got accustomed to substitutes, but now even these have disappeared. In the shops the shelves are empty, and the new stocks fail to appear. Those who can, buy and hoard. Germany and Austria have stopped sending us the products of their industries. We tighten our belts and get thinner and poorer every day.

Across the street one window is still lit up, though it is getting late. As I look up I can see a man making a selection of his clothes. He lifts up a coat, holds it under the lamp, puts it aside, then takes it up again; now he inspects a waist-coat, some linen. A woman comes in and they talk for a few moments. Then they throw an overcoat on the table and hide the rest in the bed, under the mattresses. They make a selection of boots too. The woman puts one pair with the overcoat, and they hide the others in the cupboard, behind some books.

Choosing and hiding of this kind goes on to-day in every house in the country.

The popular Government has issued a decree, striving to satisfy the demands of the disarmed troops by requisition. Its confidential agents are to visit the people in their homes and requisition clothes, linen and boots, without any compensation. Those who hide anything will have the whole of their supply with the exception of a single suit, confiscated and will be punished with a fine of 2,000 crowns or six months' imprisonment.

This is a curious order, for it affects principally those who have suffered most from the high prices of the war and the exactions of the profiteers, namely the middle-classes, whose poor, shabby, outworn clothes are the only remaining outward sign of their higher cultural position, and whose only means of clothing their children consists in utilizing every possible rag. Moreover there is a new element embodied in this order, for by it the authorities have taken the first step towards disposing of private property without due compensation. They lay claim to search homes, and thus the thin end of the wedge has been driven into the sacred rights of privacy and private property.

Suddenly shots were fired somewhere near the hospital. On the other side of the road, in the lighted room, the woman raised her head, and seeing that she had forgotten to lower the blinds, she hastened to do so, in order to hide the theft that she and her husband were committing in their own home, for themselves, on their own poor little hoard of worn-out clothes.

Even as I looked I was astonished at my own feelings. In my heart I approved of those who tried to evade the order : and yet, my ideas of honesty had not changed—it was the honesty of the law which had altered. Only three weeks ago it protected us, now it is a means of attack, and we, persecuted humanity, are only acting in our own defence when we conspire for its defeat.

The sound of footsteps in the street roused me, for it is a rare thing after the doors of the houses are shut. The footsteps went by rapidly, as if in a flurry. I listened for a time, wondering whether some devilry were afoot—but no, nowadays it is only those who walk slowly, steadily, that mean mischief.


November 20th.

Our road leads through a mist and nobody can see the end of it. Some day, when we look back upon the past, many things may appear simple and clear which now, while we are living through them, seem mysterious and incomprehensible. Events come fast, crowding one on the other without rhyme or reason. Common sense is of no use, for our fate is woven by maniacs. We have occasional bright moments, little flickers which the storm extinguishes. If we see clearly for an instant, darkness falls before we can find our way, and in its gloom, fate deals us such blows that we become giddy and lose our bearings. Nothing helps. Everything is new and strange; in a present like this the past is no guide. One cannot acquire the habit of dying !—and Hungary is struggling in agony in the hands of her murderers.

To-day the lamp flared up in an unexpected way, for I heard news which staggered me, stopped the beating of my heart and left me speechless. I heard the familiar step of my brother Géza passing through the drawing-room to my mother's room, and rushed after him with a feverish desire to hear and to know. Perhaps he might be the bearer of hopeful news, as he used to be during the war; then, whenever he came to see mother, there had been a bright spot in our gloom. But now he sat in a state of collapse in the tall green armchair, and fury distorted his face.

" All these scoundrels are traitors. Lieut.-Colonel Julier has told me how damnably they have betrayed the country. They are leading it to destruction. " He banged the table with his clenched fist. " Do you know that the armistice of Belgrade was superfluous ? The Common High Command had arranged with General Diaz, who was the delegate of the Allies, for an armistice for us too as from the 4th of November, leaving the frontiers of Hungary untouched and fixing the pre-war frontiers as the line of demarcation. There was to be no enemy occupation. And on the 6th of November Michael Károlyi, in Belgrade, opened the flood-gates on us. "

There was a weary silence in the room for a while. It was so terrible, so monstrous, that, though my opinion of Károlyi and his gang was low enough, I could scarcely believe it.

" Perhaps they—perhaps Károlyi didn't know the conditions of Diaz's armistice ? "

" They did; it was in Károlyi's pocket before he went to Belgrade, " my brother said. " They did it for the sake of power, for the doubtful honour that the conclusion of peace should be in their names. Franchet d'Espèray could not understand why they came. Then he gave them their medicine : ' If you want it, have it ! ' says he. "

Everything seemed to be collapsing round us, even that which had till now remained standing, and it was as though the weight of it fell on us and buried us under its ruin. It seemed incomprehensible that the lamp still stood there, where it had been before, and the chairs, the couch, the cupboards... Then I saw my mother's hands as they clasped one another spasmodically in her lap. I heard her voice, which sounded as if it came struggling up among the ruins, with infinite pain :

" If the curse of an old woman carries any weight, I curse them ! "


November 21st.

To-day the newspapers are full of the complaints of Károlyi's government. The government has sent protesting telegrams to the Allies, the Czechs, the Roumanians. It appeals to the armistice concluded with the Allied armies, to the Wilsonian principles, to world-saving pacifism. It clamours for justice, help, food, and coal. And Károlyi threatens that " if the Allies do not want to see the formation of ' green ' forces—he does not mention the ' red ' because he has already formed those—" if the Allies do not wish that this part of Europe should be given up to plunder, incendiarism and robbery, it is the eleventh hour... "

But the Allies are well aware that Károlyi's rule has already achieved all this, and they don't trouble to answer. On the other hand Kramarz, with whom Károlyi had conspired against the interests of his country during the war answers in the name of the Czechs, haughtily, derisively : " The Allies have decided that the territories inhabited by the Slovaks shall form part of the Czecho-Slovak Republic, and not of the Hungarian state. Consequently Hungary cannot conclude an armistice for the Slovak parts, as these have already been incorporated into Czechoslovakia. " That is his answer, and the King of Roumania's answer is an appeal to his army : " Soldiers. The long expected hour has come. The Allies have crossed the Danube and it is time that we should rise to arms... Our brethren in Bukovina and Transylvania call us to the last battle. Victory is ours. Forward ! God is with us. "

The armistice of Belgrade makes all our enemies see red. Károlyi's government has opened the door to the Serbians, and the rest of them are breaking it in for themselves; they come aflame with hatred, and come incessantly.

I feel like death, and giddy with rage, when I read Károlyi's speeches. " Confidence is due to the government, " says he—and he defends the Socialists : " Let nobody presume to say that they are unpatriotic, that the fate of their country is not dear to their hearts... " and the radicals : " In Arad, Minister Jászi has fought to the last gasp for the integrity of Hungarian territory... " In short, he defends everybody who does not defend the country.

Among the parties which support the government differences become more manifest every day. They have practically formed two distinct sections, on one side the guilty, misguided Hungarians, on the other, the Socialists and Radicals, the foreign race. The latter are the stronger because they are better organised, and know what they want. Michael Károlyi is entirely under their influence, caught in the meshes of a net that is being drawn rapidly towards the extremist side.

Unity in politics only exists as long as it is a question of attaining power. The power, once attained, itself serves to divide the victors—swollen with pride and insolence. That is the moment to smash them.

" It would be premature, " Count Dessewffy told me, when I met him to-day in the street. I had only a short talk with him, for he was due at a meeting. They are forming an agrarian party, and hope to organise the peasant proprietors of the-country.

" I have just remembered, " he added with a laugh; " only think of it. Károlyi means to send you on a political errand to Italy... "

" Does he always choose with such discernment ? " I replied, and I could not help laughing myself. " Let him get me a passport and I will use my Italian connections—on two conditions. "

" What are they ? "

" Firstly, that I travel at my own expense, so that I needn't accept a penny from them; secondly, that I do not go in the interest of their republic and their government, but exclusively in the interest of my country. But that, I fear, won't suit them. "

As I walked on I reflected on what I had heard. Dessewffy had information of the country's mood, and he had said :

" The peasantry and the provincial towns do not take to the idea of this disguised communist republic, suggested by Pest. There are considerable parts of the country which are restrained with difficulty from openly espousing the cause of monarchy. "

" Don't hold them down, let them raise their voice and sweep the board of this scum ! " I had cried. But Dessewffy only repeated : " It would be premature. Let this crowd die off first. "

I ran into a ladder standing across the footpath; a man was sitting on top of it, scraping the wall diligently. Dirt has effaced the last traces of such inscriptions as " By appointment to the Imperial and Royal Court, " which October 31st had torn down in its fury. Now new work is being done on the shop-signs, and those that bear names like Hapsburg, Berlin, Hohenzollern, Hindenburg, and Vienna, are taken down. The cafés are in a tearing hurry to alter the names they bore before the war, and the Judaized town sycophantically re-christens itself, plastering its places of amusement with labels such as : Paris Salon, French Café, English Park and American Bar.

I feel the utmost contempt for them, and I'm sure that the foreign invaders, whom fate will bring here, will feel the same towards them. A people which denies, or tolerates that others should deny in its name, its past, tramples on its own honour. For days the government has been announcing the arrival of French troops. The town is being prepared for their reception, and we have to sit down quietly under this hideous farce and suffer it.

One of Károlyi's papers writes to-day : " The first French soldiers will probably arrive to-morrow in Budapest, and the youngest republic greets with love the champions of Liberty, Fraternity and Equality. Instead of stiff, haughty German swashbucklers, charming, good-humoured French officers; instead of the clumsy German soldiers with their heavy boots, our streets will be filled with the petted poilus... Beside the Hungarian inscriptions we ought to put up French inscriptions everywhere on our public institutions... tradespeople should put on their shops : ' Ici on parle français. ' German translations on the bills of fare should be omitted... "

A government which prints such shame in its newspapers, a press which can find a single compositor to set it, a public which will stand it, must surely have reached the lowest depths of humiliation.

Flags of the national colours float festively overhead. And the government calls in the French troops of occupation, and offers their commander the most beautiful spot in the country, the royal castle, as a residence, because, it says : " They are not enemies, but gladly welcomed guests... "

Every drop of blood in me is boiling with shame and helpless rage, and my mind goes back to a long past page of memory—1871. An early morning in Paris. In close formation, headed by its flags, the victorious German army enters Paris. Along its route the windows are closed, flags of mourning float from the houses, and the still-burning street-lamps are shrouded in crepe; the people, conscious of its dignity even in the moment of its humiliation, observes a gloomy silence in the streets. No order has been given, no instructions have been issued, yet, men, women and children, all turn their heads aside, and the eyes of the victors fail to meet the tear-dimmed eyes, burning with hate, of the vanquished..


November 22nd.

The sky has descended to the very roofs. Snow falls continually and deepens in the streets. But the Office of Public Health appeals in vain for workmen at twenty crowns a day to remove the snow from the streets. They roar with laughter as they read it, and go on to draw their unemployment dole, while still the snow falls and falls, obstructing the doors of houses, lying knee-deep in the quiet side-streets.

Near the principal railway station it is like wading in a dusty, white, ploughed field, and even in the covered interior of the station one walks on soft ground, for there dirt and decaying garbage accumulate in heaps. Nobody does any cleaning nowadays. There is the unemployment dole !

To-day even the refreshment room is invaded by an insufferable stench, and there are vermin creeping on the walls. The bread given to the wounded is uneatable, and the tea is just slop-water. There is no fire in the stove, and the cold is biting; even during the war the place was never so miserable as it is now. There are fewer wounded, and the place is filled with able-bodied soldiers passing through the town. They come from distant battle-fields, ragged and dirty, and often they only get here to learn that there is no home for them to go to. Nowhere ! Serbians, Roumanians and Czechs have occupied the ancient homes of Hungarian peasants.

A Transylvanian Hussar sat on a bench and cursed loudly, sobbing now and then like a child. An old peasant from the Banat, a wounded old soldier, knelt there with tears pouring from his eyes. He was a descendant of those Saxons who had settled in Hungary six hundred years ago, and he exclaimed in his archaic German : " The Serbians have come to us ! Oh, our poor country, poor country ! " and the sergeant of the medical corps in his red-cockaded cap swore loudly at him.

Then a woman came through the door, dragging two little children by the hand. She asked for bread, they had been three days without food. " I shall go to Károlyi, " she cried, " he shall see that justice is done ! My husband is an official in the Banat. The Serbians have arrested him. They beat him till he fainted and then locked him up. There are many like that. Those who do not swear allegiance to them are cudgelled and locked up. All the Hungarian administration has disappeared... The police have been disarmed too. Then they requisition and don't pay. There are no newspapers—they are confiscated. They call us ' dogs of Hungarians ' and say that our land is now in Serbia. There is no post—all the letters addressed to Hungarians are opened, and if they contain money it is taken. "

A soldier came close up and listened with open mouth.

" Do you come from the Banat ? " the woman asked. " Then don't you go home ! The Serbians are enlisting our men and taking them to forced labour. Nobody comes back from that. "

The man looked at her for a while vacantly, then muttered helplessly : " But surely, now there is peace... "

Night began to fall. The big chandelier hung unlighted from the ceiling of the dirty hall, save for an isolated side-branch here and there, which scattered an ugly patchy glare in the twilight. On a bench a blind soldier lay on his back; he smiled continually in a queer way, as if the smile were frozen on his face, and his cap was tilted over his sightless eyes.

" You hail from the Great Plain ? " I asked him.

" I come from Szalonta... " he grumbled sleepily.

And I imagined the poor young fellow, in the stifling summer heat of the Plain, stretched at the foot of a stack for his mid-day rest, shading his eyes from the glaring rays of the sun with his little round hat. But now no sunshine will ever hurt his eyes again, and the soil of a thousand Hungarian harvests is being torn from us. Poor fellow ! Does he know that he has sacrificed his young eyes for nought ?

A man of the Army Medical Corps came in and told us that some wounded had arrived in the shed. My sister Vera and I took tea and bread. As I went along I overheard a conversation among some soldiers near the wall. Said one : " I put my knife into him with a will; the point came out at his back. The other one escaped. " " I did one in too, " said a deeper voice. I thought I must be dreaming. I stopped, but could not make out what else was said, as they began to talk in thieves' jargon. " I'll report them... " I thought—but I only thought that for a moment, for I saw the sergeant with the red ribbon on his arm, and the pince-nez on his nose, going up to them and shaking hands... No, one can't report anyone nowadays. As I went on, the talk became louder behind me. They mentioned a name, but it meant nothing to me; at that moment it was a mere sound, and it was not till much later that I remembered that I had heard it before—Béla Kún. He had been a communist agitator in Russia, who, with several others, had been sent to Hungary by Trotski to work in his interest. It is said that they brought money with them, a lot of money, and it is rumoured that they had something to do with the events of October. More followed them, and though the government knows all about them, still it allows them to cross the border. Trotski, Liebknecht, Rosa Luxemburg, and then this lot—Nets are spread broadcast and tunnels burrowed under-ground. The suburbs of Budapest are haunted by ugly, red-eyed monsters. To-day they still hide in the dark, slink along the walls with drawn-in claws. But to-morrow—who knows


November 23rd.

The dark wall at the station and the voices I heard there followed me into the night, lingered in my thoughts, and were still there in the morning when I woke.

In the evening I mentioned the incident to my mother, and she too had heard of the man called Béla Kún. His real name was Berele Kohn, the son of a Galician Jew who came over the frontier with a pack on his back. He himself had risen to be a journalist and the secretary of the Socialist party in Kolozsvár, from which job he went to the Workman's Benevolent Society. There he stole. The war saved him from prosecution. He was called up, and sent to the Russian front, where he soon managed to surrender. Through his international racial connections he got to Moscow, where he fell in with Trotski, and from then onward carried on his propaganda among prisoners. He became the leader in Russia of the Jewish Communists from Hungary, edited a Hungarian paper called " The Social Revolution, " and finally joined a Bolshevist directorate in one of the smaller towns and played his part in the atrocities committed there.


" I heard, " my mother said, " that he came back with a lot of Russian money. Károlyi's government does not interfere with him in any way. "

" Of course; Károlyi is said to be in communication with Trotski through Diener-Dénes and Landler, " I replied.

Károlyi went to Switzerland in the autumn of 1917 with Diener-Dénes and Jászi, who introduced him to Henri Guilbeaux, an extreme syndicalist and defeatist editor, who used his newspaper to work for the same moral dissolution which was carried to power in Russia by Lenin and Trotski. It is said that it was this Guilbeaux who converted Károlyi to the ideas which Béla Kún has now come to represent among us. Later came the congratulatory wire of the Soviet's Workers' and Soldiers' Council, the destructive work of the Radical and Socialist ministers, the confirmation of Pogány's Soldiers' Council and of his system of confidential shop-stewards and the unrestricted freedom of communist agitators... These are signs of his guilt, and they are a dark augury for the future.

This is a new milestone which fills us with apprehension, another one of those measures which are meant to undermine the existing Social order.

The great French Revolution was fatally influenced from the day that the people and the rabble of Paris stormed the Arsenal and plundered it. In Budapest no force is required. The Police Commissioner himself has instructed the police and the people's guards to confiscate all arms and ammunition from those who possess no permit—and nowadays permits are only given to workmen and the mob.

That is another breach in the power of resistance of the middle classes and in the sanctity of the home. Henceforth the people's guards have the right to search for arms. The citizens are helpless, and I hear that everywhere people are giving up their shotguns and revolvers.

We are a pack of spell-bound sleep-walkers. The wizard glares at us with his big, oriental eyes and pronounces his spell, which varies according to the times : Democracy, Socialism. Yesterday the magic word was Liberalism, to-morrow it may be Communism


November 24th.

Nights are sleepless nowadays, yet I cannot work. As if every word of beauty had been engulfed by the mire through which I wade in day time, I cannot form a single idea. In the dreary desert of my brain nothing wanders but horrors : the morning brings them, and they are not banished by the end of the day.

I wrote some letters last night, and this morning I sent out for stamps. The maid put them on the writing table before me.

What is this ?—Printed across the portrait of the King, of the Queen, across the picture of the house of Parliament, there is the black surcharge : " Republic. " Printed over the beautiful little head of the Queen, " Republic " : the word runs across St. Stephen's crown on the King's head !

A thought that has tortured me many times since the 16th of November once again wrings my heart : The crown, our crown...

It is not a jewel, it is not an ornament, it is not pomp, it is Hungary itself. Kingdoms have come and gone, but there was no people in this world to whom its crown meant so much as our crown : meant to us. The Hungarian crown is every Hungarian soul, every clod of its soil, every Hungarian harvest. With it is torn from the country's head not kingship alone, but all that we have been, all that we may ever be. From century to century the ancient symbol wrought in gold has been preserved in an iron-bound chest up there in the religious gloom of the castle of Buda; within the last thousand years it has only appeared in the light of day fifty-three times, borne on the heads of fifty-three Kings—over the Hungarian land. And once more, when a thousand years had passed, on the day of the Millenium... Exposed to the public view, it lay on the altar of the Coronation Church. The people came, I saw them with my own eyes—gray-haired peasants, workmen, lords—and bent the knee in front of it as if before a holy thing. And I saw it on the head of King Charles on a December day, under the ancient walls of regal Buda, amidst the unfurled banners of sixty-three counties, amidst deafening cheers, amidst the sound of our great, clear, national anthem.

Traitors and sans-patries have torn St. Stephen's crown from its place with sacrilegious hands. That crown was not only a King's head-dress. Like a golden hoop it welded together the giant range of the Carpathians, Transylvania, the blue gulf of Adria, Croatia and Slavonia—the whole realm of the Great Plain, the country which formed the most perfect geographical unit in Europe. And now that the golden hoop holds it together no longer, that which has been united since the beginning of time falls to pieces and to ruins.

I was gripped by a maddening fear and began to tremble with apprehension for the crown, as if it were something more living than life itself. I felt that we only existed as long as it existed, that its destruction would make our destruction inevitable. What do they plot, these present despots of ours, who hate everything that connects us with our past ? It is not Károlyi who will stop them : as far as he is concerned they can do what they like with the crown.


A few days ago Count Ambrózy, the Keeper of the Crown Jewels, went to Michael Károlyi's house and asked for admittance. Károlyi was lunching with Count Pejacsevich when the butler announced that the Keeper of the Crown Jewels was waiting.

" Let him wait, " said Károlyi. " I am lunching, " and continued his meal undisturbed. After a time he was told again that Count Ambrózy wanted to see him urgently, as he had to leave town. Károlyi, to whom Kéri, Jászi and Pogány are admitted at all hours, sent a message to the first grandee of Hungary, to wait. He lit his cigar and sipped his coffee. About half an hour later the Keeper of the Crown Jewels sent another message.

" If he cannot wait, let him go, " said Károlyi. Count Pejacsevich implored him. At last he gave in. " All right, I'll settle with him in two minutes. "

He went out, cigar in mouth, and two minutes later was back again. " Settled, " he said laughing. " Ambrózy came to ask me what should be done with the crown. I told him : take it to a bank, or put it into your pocket, I don't care... "

And I seemed to see again the mystic dusk of the Coronation Church, its pillars and arches, and there in front of the altar, set on purple velvet, the pale gold of the Crown... I see the gray head of an aged peasant whose sharp Turanian features seem as if cut out with a chisel from the gloom of the church;the head bows, and his horny hand makes the sign of the cross on his breast.


November 25th.

My mother brought a porcelain figure into the room to-day. " It is broken, " she said, and put the Sévres shepherd and his tiny broken hand on the table. Its beauty filled me for a moment with extraordinary rapture : doubtless it appeared so lovely to me because nowadays everything we see is so very ugly and depressing.

" Of course I know it's going to stay here with you for the winter, " my mother said with a slight reproach in her voice, reminding me of the many small commissions I forgot from time to time.

" I'll take it at once... " I said.

" There is no need for that; there is plenty of time if you are otherwise engaged. "

At that moment I felt I had no other task in the whole world but her little porcelain figure. I said goodbye and went.

It was getting dark. Here and there the sparsely subdued glimmer of the gas-lamps made a pretence of lighting the streets; dust-bins full of garbage stood in front of the houses, but nobody could be found to cart them away. The air was saturated with an acid, unwholesome smell, which fostered the epidemic that had raged in the town for weeks, creeping in through filthy entrances, climbing the dirty stairs, and, in the chill of fireless houses, laying its hand on the heart of the inhabitants.

When I reached the little street I wanted it was practically in darkness. Only the shop windows cast square patches of yellow light on the footpath. I entered a little shop in one of whose mean windows some old china was displayed. The shelves, the tables, every available space was filled with broken china, and the repairer sat among the débris, with his hat on his head and in his winter coat, looking for all the world like a picture by a Dutch master. He had noble features, and his white beard covered his chest, and on his first finger he wore an old ring with a coat of arms... One day when I had gone there he had told me that he came of a county family. He had owned land, and a nice house with a pillared court, under the shade of old trees; he used to drive a four-in-hand and to collect china as a hobby. Somehow the land, the house, the horses disappeared ; so did his collection, and the only thing that was left to him was the art of repairing broken porcelain by which he now eked out a sort of living.

When I had finished my business with him I did not go straight home. One street after another seemed to call to me, and I walked on thinking sadly of that old Hungarian's fate. Shop after shop I passed, all with Jewish names—marine stores, crockery-shops, tallow-chandlers, small bazaars. A few years ago their owners had lived in Galicia, and all of a sudden they had appeared in the streets of Pest selling boot-laces. They had never shouldered a hod, never carried bricks, never followed the plough, but made money without hard work, by buying and selling; now they had their shop, the cradle of millions. They start their careers in the narrow streets in which our own folk end theirs.

Somehow I had wandered into the crowded quarters of Budapest's ghetto. These streets had been fixed by nobody as the abode of the invading Jews. The times have passed long ago when a Jew was not allowed to stay a night either in Buda or in Pest, and when he could own neither house nor shop. In fifty years they have conquered the town, and yet they have formed for themselves a little ghetto of their very own. They have invaded whole streets, occupying tenement-houses, in which they can live amongst themselves. The newly built streets and houses soon became filthy, and the entrances vomited the same odour which I have smelt in the ghettoes of Amsterdam, Home and Venice.

As I looked up I felt as if I were in a foreign town whose houses were silently conspiring in the dark above the lighted shops. I had never noticed it before, but there seemed to be here a secret, antagonistic life which had nothing in common with ours, from which we were excluded. The mask was dropped and the character of the streets became visible. The sense of security of this foreign race had increased to such an extent that it forgot to hide itself. It had been dissembling for a good while, though, and we had lived here, and had heard and seen nothing. We did not trouble about the course of events, and while they clasped hands fanatically, from the gin shops at the village end, from tenement-houses, editorial offices, shops, banks and palaces, over five continents, we forsaken Hungarians could not hold together even in our own little country.

Some of us begin to see clearly to-day, though what is happening now happened yesterday too—then in secretive darkness, now in open daylight. The immigrants have effaced the features of our race from the land, have dug out our souls from our national affairs and substituted their faces, their soul. This evil work has been going on for a long time.

The people who came from foreign lands were foreign to us only, but not to the people of the ghetto. They whispered things we did not hear, went to the ghetto of some other town, whispered again, and again went on and on. Trotski had been in Budapest—he had lived here years ago. Others came too, people whose co-religionists alone knew what they were after. We only saw worms that cringed, we never listened to what they said to each other.

I felt as if the whole quarter were speaking, as if every house, every street in it were quoting from the ancient book of its inhabitants : " A people which have eyes to see, and see not; they have ears to hear and hear not. "

My wandering eyes were suddenly arrested by the sight of three men. One had the features of a negro, the second a heavy, fat face, and the third was quite small, with red eyelids and white eyelashes. Their heads were close together. When I stopped in front of a shop window and pretended to look at its contents they stopped talking, and I saw by the reflection in the window that they looked at me, nodded at one another and moved on. Two others, clad in gabardines, came towards me. They wore fur caps and gesticulated violently with dirty hands raised to the level of their shoulders. One was speaking; the other listened with his eyes fixed on the ground and with dirty fingers caught hold of the lock dangling from the side of his head and drew it out straight to his chin. He stood like that for a time, reflectively,and occasionally mumbled a word. Then, noticing that I was looking at him, he stopped in the middle of a word and let his lock go; it curled up to his ear like a spring. Then they too went on.

King Street swarmed around me. Unkempt, fat women stood in the doorways, silk dresses rustled on the pathway, and the smell of filth mingled with that of cheap scent. Children shrieked. From the entrances of restaurants with Hebrew names the reek of garlic spread into the street. The doors of small shops opened and closed continually, and the articles suspended on them swung about; chains and watches rattled against the panes, stockings and ribbons fluttered to and fro, and the medley of badly lit windows displayed old clothes, confectionery, plucked geese, jewellery, boots. A woman passed, pushing along a perambulator laden with soap. On the street corner a bandy-legged little monster in a gabardine sold figs and blinked with his dull eyes at the passers-by. A red-bearded man stopped near him. They spoke fast and their lips moved as if they had gulped down some burning hot mouthfuls of something. As I approached them the red-bearded one turned abruptly round and slipped into a goldsmith's shop. I looked after him... A quaint old watch was hanging in the shop-window. I wondered what they wanted for it.

The chains hanging from the entrance door tinkled as I went in. A shaded lamp hung from the smoky ceiling low above the glazed counter, in which rings and ear-rings were displayed on velvet cushions. Several people were standing in a corner, but as soon as they saw me they retired to the back of the shop. Only a fat flabby girl remained, and as she asked me what I wanted she fingered her untidy black hair, and scratched herself. Meanwhile she watched the door, and when it opened bent quickly over the counter and pointed with her grimy thumb over her shoulder. A well-dressed man in a fur coat, and with a typical face, passed behind me and joined the others. Then a sailor came in and he too was called in to join the group. Many voices whispered mysteriously in the room at the back of the shop. I listened attentively, straining my ears to hear something, one sentence, of all this talk which was not meant for us and was only mentioned among themselves—but I could not understand a word...

" I am afraid it won't do, " I said to the girl, and hurried out of the shop in disgust.

I walked fast, almost running through the crowd, as if I were escaping the meshes of a conspiracy which floated in the air but which one could not grasp, because as soon as one touched it it fell to pieces like slime.

The whole quarter was on the look-out for some prey. Its streets were haunted by some premeditated crime. In its houses a greedy monster, which has never shut its eyes for a thousand years, kept vigil.

Away from here, into the fresh air ! I was haunted by the thought of the room in the little shop, the whispering Jews, Russian money on the table; of the sergeant with his golden pince-nez, who had mentioned the name of Béla Kún to the soldiers; of the faces of Jászi, Kunfi and Louis Hatvany; of the bandylegged monster at the street corner, the man with the red beard and the flabby girl... They are all after the same thing and are helping each other all they can, while we have lost the power of wanting anything at all...

That night I wrote an appeal to the women of Hungary. Women ! sleep not, or your children will have no place to lay their heads..


November 26th.

In the afternoon I walked towards the boulevards.

Countess Louis Batthyány had telephoned that she wanted to see me. I made my way through a dense crowd, for the town is overrun by the constant influx of refugees and of thousands of home-coming soldiers. On the boulevards people thronged; there hardly seemed to be enough room for them. The human tide overflowed into the by-streets, pushed, pressed, swarmed and accumulated in front of the windows of newspaper offices like a knotted muscle. In the office window of an evening newspaper were some photographs, and under one of them was an inscription, " The members of the Soldiers' Council. " There were too many people for me to get near, so that I could only see it at a distance as I passed—the faces, exhibited in glory, of those who were guilty of the rebellion of October, and who may one day be called to account.

" What do you think of that ? " a voice asked among the loiterers. " The Minister for War has had Heltai arrested for embezzlement, robbery and murder. " " What ? the ex-commander of the town ? " " That's him... and now his sailors are coming in armoured cars with machine-guns to rescue him. There's going to be trouble. " The news spread at once. " Have you heard it ? " " It is not true ? " " But it is ! " There was a panic. And the people in the streets carried it on with them : " The sailors are coming ! They have left Pressburg, they have left the Czechs... "

Crowded electric trams passed, so crammed with people that the pressure inside nearly broke the cars' sides; outside people were hanging on everywhere. I saw some soldiers coming along, when suddenly one of them tumbled forward, tripped over his own foot and fell, face downward, on the pavement. Nobody troubled about him and even his companions went on indifferently. With a remnant of war-time charity I stooped over him, thinking that perhaps he had an artificial leg, or was suffering from an epileptic fit. When I took hold of his arm to help him to get up again, however, I found that he was drunk and vomiting. As I started back I heard his companions roar with laughter.

The crowd carried me on, but the incident was like a thorn thrust into one's heart. Soldiers, Hungarian soldiers ! There had been a time when my eyes filled with tears at the sight of them. How proud I had felt of them, how I had respected them, I had loved them as being the personified courage of my race. What are they now... ?

When I arrived at my friend's house I found the talk turning on Michael Károlyi, to whom several of those present were related. I asked them if they knew the conditions of the armistice concluded with Diaz, that they had safeguarded the frontiers of the country, which the Belgrade treaty had sacrificed ? The news was so mad, so impossible, that doubt showed in every eye.

" I know it for certain, " I said; " a member of the armistice commission, Lieut .-Colonel Julier, told my brother so. "

Anger succeeded consternation on every face.

" Get me the text, " Count Julius Batthyány shouted, " and I will have the two documents posted up, side by side, and within twenty-four hours the whole government will collapse. "

His beautiful mother looked at him doubtfully :

" Do you imagine that there is so much liberty left in this town ? The posters would be torn to shreds before they could be stuck on the walls. "

" They promised us the freedom of the press and of opinions, and we get nothing but lies. "

" Let us organise against them. That is the only way to defeat their lies, " said Countess Batthyány, " it was with that intent that I asked you to come. "

" You are thinking of the women ? "

" Yes... "

" I have thought of them too, " I said. " There are several of us who think the same. We must find some common-place programme to hide our real purpose : women alone can rebuild the lost faith. "

" Work out the programme and take the leadership of the movement. "

" I don't want to be anything but a common soldier, " I answered; " I am only an author and know nothing of these things. "

" For all that you will have to do it. Your lead will be followed. I want to work too. "

I shook my head. I was ready to do anything, but did not feel the vocation for leadership.

" We will try too, " said Count Batthyány. " Somehow we must succeed in getting rid of this crowd. "

" We will talk it all over, " said his mother.

So she is with us too, I pondered when leaving. She, the aunt of both Count Michael and Countess Károlyi ! How many of us felt the same thing ! It seemed to be floating in the air, and waiting for someone among us to put it into words.

The street had changed while I had been in the house. No lamps were burning, the trams were not running, and the snow was falling heavily. Had a strike broken out suddenly ? Was the supply of coal exhausted ? Or was it because of Heltai's sailors ?

The little side-streets gaped dismally in the dark. A ramshackle cab trotted through the snow.

" How much to Stonemason Street ? " I asked.

" Sixty crowns, " the driver answered from his seat.

" Not so long ago it would have been two crowns... "

He drove on, cursing me, and I went on, ploughing my way through the snow. There was an uncanny silence about the place. Out in the country the silence of the woods and meadows is that of rest, while here in town silence seems to be the preliminary of some hidden attack. That was what it felt like now. Against my will I was looking behind me all the time, and I hurried as fast as I could across the entrances of the alleys.

The bright, clean streets, policemen, protection, security of the past—where have they all gone ?

Civilisation was only a scaffolding which was covered with paper posters so that we should not see that there was no building behind it, and it has collapsed at a single blow. It is a wreck, and wolves prowl over the abandoned ground. The town has slipped suddenly back to the times when nobody who started on an errand at night knew if he would ever see home again.

At the next corner a cab turned out into the boulevard and I felt a little safer. But I did not enjoy the sight of the cab for very long. Two soldiers emerged from a doorway and ran after it, shouting loudly. The driver made signs that he had passengers, but stopped out of fear that they might shoot him. The soldiers didn't trouble to discuss the matter, but simply opened the door of the cab, kicked the passenger out of it, and took his place. The cab, as if driving into a white veil, disappeared rapidly in the falling snow. The street became lonely and quiet. Only the snow glittered, and even as the flakes drifted into my face I decided that after all in these days it was wiser to walk..


November 27th.

After all this humiliation, shameful submission and silence entire districts of the country are raising their voices in protest.

The Széklers in Transylvania have risen; the flag of the Székler's corps has been unfurled, and Count Stephen Bethlen has organised a Székler National Council. Transylvania is graven on his heart and he has remained faithful to himself. He has always sacrificed everything to the good of the country. It is encouraging to hear his name in these times when everybody thinks only of himself. And after Transylvania, Upper Hungary raises its voice, the towns of Zips, Zemplén and our faithful brethren the Slovaks, whom neither gold nor the lash will persuade that they belong to the Czechs. The Bunyeváts swear to stick to their fatherland and so do the Catholic Serbians; and far away in the North the Ruthenians, Rákoczi's own folk, that gens fidelissima et carissima, protest violently—they, who live precariously in the depths of the Carpathians, on the road by which the Galician Jews invade us. I know their poor little villages, pounced upon by the army of leeches in gabardines, bloodthirsty, insatiable, on its westward march. That is the road by which, for decades, the Polish and Russian Jews have come to us; they cut off their payes, side-locks, in Kassa, throw off their gabardines in Miskolocz and become barons and millionaires in Budapest.

Successive Hungarian Governments have left the Ruthenians of the frontier undefended against this invading horde, and yet these pious people have remained, for all their poverty, patient and faithful to us. And now they stand by our side, desperately; they don't ask for autonomy, they want no special privileges, they just want to remain one with us, because we have never harmed them. Neither the propaganda of the Ukrainians and Russian Imperialists, nor the schismatical attempts at their conversion, nor anything else has had any effect on them. They are clamouring for Hungarian schools, while a foreign race speaking in the name of Budapest denies them their very nationality; and their Bishop, Andrew Szabó, sends the following message in their name : " There is no need of a declaration of loyalty on the part of Hungary's Ruthenians, because this people has never faltered. "

But this does not suit Mr. Jászi, the Minister for Nationalities. He wants to transform our great geographical unit into a sort of Eastern Switzerland, and he has invented a new name, Ruszka-Krajna, for the green counties of whispering woods, the ancient part of Hungary inhabited by the Ruthenians.

There he stands, in the midst of a poisoned town, the son of Russo-Polish Jews, declaiming, with all the destructive vigour of his race, separatist theories against associations made by nature itself, forgetting that, while in Switzerland the extreme branches of three races join in a common summit, in Hungary the peoples' streams flow into a common basin, the strength and soul of which must always be the Hungarian people.

And while he holds forth, and declares that in a single moment he is going to efface the history of a thousand years, these thousand years of Hungarian history shout from every side in desperate protest. Széklers, Slovaks, Ruthenians, Germans and Catholic Serbians clamour like suffering brethren, appealing to each other over the indifference shown by a muzzled land. The voices of their anguish come like a storm down the mountains and join over the Great Plain under the November sky in a harmony that knows no discord. And the winds on their myriad wings carry the sad appeal on and on, and sow it as a seed for the future from which, one day, we shall gather a rich harvest of revenge


November 28th.

The protests from our outposts have died away and the tragic ray of light has been swallowed up in the general gloom. As long as the despoilers of the nation are in power it will always be like that. The Government has given millions to the Transylvanian Roumanians and has supplied them with a profusion of arms, taken from Hungarian soldiers, while it leaves the Hungarians and Széklers in sweating terror, defenceless in the midst of an enemy that clamours for their lives.

Károlyi's Government supports everybody who is against us. To-day, for instance, while I was on duty at the railway station, I saw special trains being put together with feverish haste. Roumanian agitators are calling together in Gyulafehérvár a Roumanian National assembly which intends, it is said, to declare for the separation of many purely Hungarian counties of Transylvania. And to facilitate the business the Hungarian Government puts special trains at the disposal of our enemies ! The whole thing is as though someone were grinning maliciously over a body writhing in agony.

There was great activity at the station to-day. The old refreshment shed of the Red Cross has been transformed into a refreshment room for returning soldiers. We who had for many years worked there with the Red Cross offered our services in vain. White bread, which we had not seen for a long time, and sausages, were distributed to the soldiers by Jewesses who wore neither hat nor cap and looked unkempt and untidy. They had been sent by the Social Democratic party, and care for the soldiers was only a secondary part of their duty : they distributed handbills and talked propaganda to the returning men. Notwithstanding our Red Cross and our papers one of the women came up to us and asked us to leave the place, as they had been put in charge of it.

With my sister and a friend we went back to the other refreshment room. " We have been kicked out, " I reported. We were now told that the Government, after having dismissed those who had directed the work of the Red Cross during the war, had appointed Countess Michael Károlyi to the head of the Red Cross—as Delegate of the Government. This position had always been filled gratuitously by grey-haired noblemen, but now Countess Károlyi voted herself a salary of eighty thousand crowns and had it paid out to her for a year in advance.

" One of her assistants has already been here, " said someone belonging to the Red Cross. " She made a great fuss and declared that Countess Károlyi would turn out all the ladies who had formerly done the work. "

" It will be a noble sight, " I said; " I shall stay and see it through. "

At this moment the sergeant with the red ribbon came in. Two soldiers with fixed bayonets followed him. They came straight up to me. " We have found some suspicious leaflets on the platform, royalist muck... "

" I don't know anything about any leaflets, " I answered, delighted to hear that some had at last made their appearance.

" The scent leads here, " the sergeant said threateningly, " it is said they are distributed here. "

" Search me, " I said, and turned out the pockets of my white apron. But I was too happy to dissemble : I laughed heartily


November 29th.

I stood in front of the cashier's little glass cage, leaning my elbows on the cool marble slab. There were only a few people coming and going in the big offices of the bank; a few servant girls sat about with their deposit-books in their hands.

" How's business in these days ? " I asked the cashier as he pushed my money over the counter.

" We have never been like this before. War-time was a perfect golden age in comparison. " He leant toward me and spoke in a whisper. " The Jews are exploiting the country and the Government shamelessly. The salary of a minister used to be twelve thousand crowns. The ministers of the popular Government have allotted themselves two hundred thousand and have had it paid out for ,a year in advance. For overtime, they take one hundred and sixty crowns an hour. The number of Ministers and Government delegates increases every day. There are forty Secretaries of State running about Budapest. Every radical journalist wants to be at least a Secretary of State. Treasury notes are printed as fast as posters. It is said that the popular Government has spent three milliards in a month— twice as much as the most expensive month of the war. This peace is an expensive thing, and one can't say that the republic is exactly cheap. We are racing towards bankruptcy. Many people are taking their money to Switzerland... "

What I possess shall remain here. If the country is ruined, we Hungarians will be ruined with it, at any rate. "

" It is wise to take precautions however, " the cashier said. " It is rumoured that all gold and silver is to be commandeered. "

On my way home his last words kept coming to my mind. Among our old family papers there is a little scrap of a document dated 1848, addressed to my grandfather, Charles Tormay; it is a receipt for the silver he had delivered to the mint to cover the issue of Kossuth's banknotes. My father once told me how on a certain day all the silver was heaped up on the dining-room table. He was a little boy at the time, and asked how he would be able to stir the sugar in his coffee if all the spoons were taken away ? " With a wooden spoon, " his mother said. My father could not bear the idea of that, so he hung about the silver till he managed to steal a little spoon. Everything else was melted down, and that little spoon is the only thing that remains of our old family silver.

They gave it, and we would give it, but not to this crowd. I wouldn't eat with a wooden spoon for the sake of the entire government


November 30th.

A yellow fog has descended on the town. The houses have disappeared in it, and the rooms are dark, as if the windows were covered outside with mud-coloured blinds. Though it is forenoon, the lamps are burning in the houses, as if a corpse were laid out in every room in the town. I never saw a fog like this. It looks the very picture of our lives.

Fog... clinging, dense fog. People choke as they walk, in an accursed land; they slip about in the sticky, heavy mud, and can neither halt nor run. A doomed city is our prison. The hearths are cold, we have no light, and all the doors are shut. Streets end in darkness, and at the street corners cold blasts strike one, coming no one knows whence. One cannot escape it. One has to go on, under dark windows, through the fog, across deadly alleys. Nobody looks out of the houses, and there is no sign of life about. The air seems to be a sloppy glue closing suddenly over one's mouth like a horrible, gigantic hand, and stopping one's breath. We shudder with discomfort and misery, and if we try to lay hold of something solid, the walls recede before our groping hands, and the doors move like ghosts. They are not locked, just ajar, and they open noiselessly inward. Behind them somebody stands and waits, waits with open eyes in the dark, conscious of some awful news impending : Hungary has lost something again... In the next street, in all the streets about us, red ferocious beasts are lurking with soft noiseless steps, ready to pounce...

That is our present life. Fog, yellow, clinging fog, in which the town, with all its streets and houses, glides on mud towards a bottomless abyss.

Day by day more cockades of the national colours disappear from the soldiers' caps, and as each one disappears it leaves a wound : a spot of blood... red buttons take their place. In one of the main streets yesterday a red flag was displayed on a house. In the northern suburbs communists meet in shady little inns, and in the streets foreign-looking men harangue chance crowds from dust-bins or the tops of hand-carts. With sweeping gestures they declare : " Everything is yours ! Take everything ! "

These words are all over the town to-day, and Károlyi's Government says it all the time, in every one of its declarations : " Everything is yours ! " It says it to socialists, communists, radicals, Czechs, Roumanians, Serbians...


Having begun with the Roumanians, Jászi now takes counsel with the Slovaks; and while the Czechs' troops descend, unhindered, into the valley of the Vág, and occupy town after town, the precious springs of Pöstyen among others, Jászi, Diener-Dénes and a fellow called Braun hand over to them our thousand-year-old rights. Jászi has already presented them with five Hungarian counties and offers a common administration for ten more. He bargains, humbles himself, and libels our rule of a thousand years. And even while he was shamefully giving up everything, and stupidly betraying the Government's hopeless inability to act, it turns out that the whole of the negotiations were nothing but a trap. After having surveyed the situation here, Prag has informed Budapest officially : " No negotiations whatever with the Hungarian Government have been authorised by the Czecho-Slovak Republic... "

Such are our rulers. They sell us over and over again every day. What I was told in whispers is now admitted by the Government itself, because Vlad, the leader of the Roumanian guards in Transylvania, has given the show away. To display his strength and power, he told the unfortunate Hungarian inhabitants of Transylvania : " The Roumanian guards have received from the Hungarian Government ten million crowns and fifty-five thousand infantry equipments. " Now even the deaf can hear what the Government does with the arms it has filched from our soldiers, who, notwithstanding their disbandment, were anxious to defend the soil of their country. It gives the arms of Hungarian soldiers to Roumanians, while it collects the weapons of Hungarian citizens for the benefit of ruffians, escaped convicts and vagabond deserters.

The eternally harassing question : what is going on ? has ceased to worry me. Now I know that everything that happens is barefaced treason, unlike any thing that has ever happened in my people's history. The clauses of a secret red treaty dictate every purpose, every action, and its stipulations influence everything that has happened in Hungary since the 31st of October.


December 1st.

Once upon a time December meant something lovely, glittering, cold, white, and the warmth of bright fires. Now its whiteness is death, its cold is torture, and everywhere the fires are out.

The cold at night is awful. Its breath penetrates into the rooms, and terrifies one. When the maid told us this morning that there was no coal left in the cellar, I could not believe her. I took a candle and went down the winding staircase into the dark. The coal dust crackled under my feet and the light of the candle flickered to and fro on the cobwebbed wall. The cellar was empty; only a few logs of wood were lying in a corner. It was some time before I realised what that emptiness meant. I did not move, but just stood rooted to the spot while my breath steamed in the candle-light.

We had received our coal-permit eight months before, and were sent by the coal-office to a big coal merchant. Week after week passed and we got no coal. I wrote, sent messages, went myself at last. On the stairs of the building misery and cold were thronging patiently, and sad-looking people were loafing about in the office. I had to wait as though in the anteroom of a minister. Now and then the lady secretary called one of us by name. Jewesses in fur coats and with diamond earrings were standing behind me and laughing among themselves. They had come after me, yet they were admitted before me. Beside me a poor woman in a shawl was waiting and a gentleman in a shabby coat which had seen better days. The woman complained quietly : for days she had been unable to cook because she had no fuel. The gentleman, a judge in a high position, said that his children could not get out of bed, but had remained there for over a week, because their rooms were so cold.

We waited patiently for hours. Noon passed. The secretary looked at her watch and said aggressively : " Too late, come to-morrow ! "

" But here is my coal-permit ! I got it in April. " The spirit of rebellion rose in me. I felt for the others too, for all of us who waited there, Hungarians, who no longer had any voice in anything.

The coal merchant, the secretary, both were Jews. These people have usurped every office and they put off from one day to another what is due to us, or throw it at our heads as if it were a charity. Tomorrow ! With clenched fists I went the next day, and the day after... Patient women, weeping old grannies, pushing, angry men. The coal merchant crossed the ante-room quickly, and imploring voices tried to catch his attention. But he answered back like a dictator deciding a question of grace : " Wait your turn ! "

Again I went, and befurred and bejewelled women came down as I went up, gloating over their success. I heard what they said—they had got what they wanted; and everywhere it is the same. With the impotence of a subdued race we go away empty-handed, and there is no place where we can assert our rights. They have the power, and they laugh in our faces.

And the coal in our cellar has been used up and we live in unwarmed rooms


December 2nd.

The morning was still dark when the ringing of a bell broke in upon my dreams. It worried me, floated over my head like the buzzing of a bluebottle, stopped, and started again. I woke.

It was the telephone in the ante-room.

" The farmer ? Oh yes, near our villa ! Last night burglars entered the villa... my sister's too ! I understand... "

At the police station I received but cold comfort.

" I don't see what good it can do to take your complaints down, " said a little man who seemed to be a clerk. " Last night sixteen villas were pillaged on one hill alone. As for the town, God alone knows how many houses and shops have been visited by burglars. We can't go into such matters. Where could we find enough detectives, when those we have already have other irons in the fire ? "

" They are searching for counter-revolutionists, " said a gentleman, whose flat had been burgled last night too. " Robbery is free in this country nowadays. "

I was sent from the ground-floor to the second, and thence to the ground-floor again. I wandered through stuffy corridors from one untidy office, smelling of ink, to another, and at last I was promised that inquiries would be made.

Here too everything had changed. New men had replaced the old Hungarian officials in the police-force. They had got this into their hands too.

The north wind blew sharply across the bridge, bringing a promise of snow. Like giants' brides, the white hills of Buda stood up against the cold wintry sky, and on them the bare trees cast shadows like blue veins over the sunlit snow. Everything glittered. For a moment the beauty of it thrust the town, the trouble, and the burgled house into the background. On the way I met my sister Mary. She too was coming from the police station and had two constables with her. The crown had been removed from the cap of one of them, the other still wore it.

" So you have not taken it off ? " said I.

" Kings may come and kings may go, but the holy crown will remain in its place, " he answered.

" Are you very busy ? " I asked, to change the subject.

" It would not do for things to remain as they are. "

" After all, it was the adherence of the police that settled the matter, " I retorted.

The two men looked at each other, but said nothing. Meanwhile we reached the house. The snow on the roof glittered against the blue sky. On the ground there were footmarks in the snow, which led to the terrace. It was obvious that the burglars had climbed the creepers on the wall and had entered the house in that way. In nearly every room a kitchen-knife was lying on the table with its handle standing out beyond the edge, so as to be easy to catch hold of, had the intruders been disturbed. In the hall a lot of things were tied up in a bundle.

'' They intended to come back, " said one of the policemen.

The cupboards were open, and a lot of things had been taken away, while the floor was littered with things they had rejected when they were making their choice. The red, white and green flag was torn from its staff and bore the marks of heavy, muddy boots. The big Bible, as if shot through the heart, had a bullet hole through it.

" There are clues enough for me, " I said to my sister. " I have already found the culprits : the products of the revolution have been visiting us. "

The constables looked at each other.

When I got home I told my mother what had happened. She listened to me with a stern face, in silence.

" They carried away whatever they could. They even stripped the mattresses. They scribbled filth on the walls. "

" These times levy toll on everybody, " said she. " What about those who are driven from their homes, whose houses are burnt down, who are murdered ? If only fate will be satisfied with this and ask no more from us, if this is all we have to pay, we shall have no reason to complain. " And she did not mention the matter again.

The evening papers were brought in. One name dominated them all : Gyulafehérvár... In the town where John Hunyadi, the Hungarian paladin of Christendom against the Turks, lies buried, over his grave, on the field at the foot of the castle, the Roumanian Irredenta under the name of " Roumanian National Council " has carried a resolution : " Transylvania, the Banat and all the territories of Hungary inhabited by Roumanians are united with Roumania ! " ... This happened in Gyulafehérvar, and Károlyi's Government sent the Roumanians by special train to this assembly of treason ! He even armed a bodyguard for them, and has given them millions !

Once more life seems like the dream of a demented brain. " Everything is yours, " says the Government, so that it may take what the robbers cannot carry off. They share and share alike, and what care they that in making their division they break our hearts ? The Hungarian population of Transylvania, abandoned, humiliated, betrayed, must tolerate that its ancient land should be thrown by Budapest to an uneducated, newly-risen Balkan state, whose shepherd folk, fleeing from the cruelty of its own princes, came to Hungary asking for hospitality, a few hundred years ago. The Széklers have lived for fifteen hundred years in Transylvania, and the semi-barbarous Roumanian people now laugh in the face of the original inhabitants, and by right of robbery declare that what was always ours is now their own.

The street is quiet. The town listens with a stony heart. The stars alone tremble above the roofs as if a great sob rose to them de profundis


December 3rd.

I went to Buda, to the Castle Hill. We had a meeting at five at Count Zichy's palace.

This house was built in the eighteenth century and is one of Buda's finest palaces. Maria Theresa, powdered and bewigged, once lived here, and her presence still seems to linger about the walls. The stone staircase rises loftily to the hall on the first floor, whose low, decorated roof is supported by white pillars. On the white walls glittered the gilt frames of old pictures.

The lamp had not yet been lit, but a fire was burning in the wide marble fireplace and shed its light around from below. It shone back from the beauty of ancient bronzes, ran over the walls, and under its flickering touch far-off Chinese springtimes came to life on the old porcelain, and then melted again into the gloom, suddenly, as the flicker passed by. The tall furniture stood haughty and clumsy, conscious of the fact that it had always been there.

When the lamp was lit others came in, shivering, and we all gathered round the fire like conspirators, for we all suffered the same pangs, we all wanted the same thing. We knew that the hour had come, that we had to call out the women from behind their locked doors. In the history of Hungary women have not often appeared. They have never had to fight for their rights, because there is no code in the world which protects the rights of woman so well as ours did—even in the darker centuries. They could live quietly in those days, and the handsome narrow faces of Hungarian women shone only in the mild light of the home fire. Those were Hungary's happy days. But when the land was afire and misery was reaping its harvest, then the Hungarian women rose to the occasion and stood in the fore-front of the fight. Our country has never suffered greater distress than now, and, as we sat there, we all knew that the women would respond to our call and would sow the seed of the counter-revolution. Not at meetings, not in the market-place, but in their homes, in the souls of their men exhausted by the hardships of war, men who are down-hearted to-day but who, to-morrow, will not dare to give the lie to the women who believe in their courage...

I read the draft of the programme in which, hidden among social and political reforms, I had attempted to sum up the vital needs of the whole womanhood of Christian Hungary.

" Let us set forth clearly what we want, " said Countess Raphael Zichy. All agreed, and at the head of the programme we stated, clearly and tersely, the Holy Trinity for which we meant to stand : a Christian and patriotic policy, the integrity of the country, and the sanctity of the family.

" I do not doubt the result, " said Prince Hohenlohe; " I have done much organising in Transylvania, and I know what women can do. "

When we left and dispersed in the quiet streets of Buda, I felt that I had entered on a new path, which might become my path of destiny


December 4th to 7th.

Henceforth life took on a new aspect. I shook off the paralysis of despair which had made me a passive sufferer of events. Till now, like a cripple deprived of the power of movement, I had brooded deeply over everything that came within my ken, but at last I had become an actor in deadly earnest in the tragedy, and I could waste no more time over details.

The day after the meeting in the Zichy Palace I wrote letters, telephoned and called to my side a few brave, energetic women. We had no time to waste, and we decided that each of my guests should invite to her own home her reliable women friends, and that we should address them, so that they in their turn might spread the idea of the organisation of Christian Hungarian women. There was no other solution, for the Press had ceased to be free. The few Christian and middle-class papers which would otherwise have been at our disposal had begun to be terrorised by red soldiers. Our ideals had been condemned to death by the Social Democrats; they had declared war against patriotism and Christianity. As for the integrity of Hungary's soil, they had declared in their official paper that it was no business of theirs...

We had perforce to return to the primitive means of olden times. The idea was spread by word of mouth, and we separated so as to be able to do more work. Emma Ritoók visited one end of the town and I the other. Like the primitive Christians, women gathered now here, now there. I visited dingy lodgings, baronial halls, schoolrooms; through dark streets, in the gloom of hostile alleys, I walked in snow and wind day after day. Women understood me, and their souls glowed with courage and decision in these sad times of exhaustion and resignation. With very few exceptions they signed my lists, those who did not had been forbidden to do so by their husbands. Never once did I find among them the cry of resignation " It is all over, effort is useless. " I respected them and was grateful to them, for they were simple, great and faithful. And while I thought of them in my wanderings from one modest home to another, and tormented myself about the misfortunes of our country, one scene for ever kept passing before my eyes. Though the snow was falling and it was dark I could see an eastern city under a burning sky; a house with pillars, the house of Pilate, and in the hall stood Our Lord in bonds. In front of the house a crowd, mad with hatred, clamoured : " Crucify Him, Crucify Him ! "

That is what they are shouting against our fettered country to-day. They drag it down among themselves, put a crown of thorns upon its head, smite it and spit upon it. They load it with a heavy cross and drive it unto the place called Golgotha. They nail it to the cross, so that it shall be able to see with its dying, bloodshot eyes, how they cast lots for its vesture at its feet. Then they put it into a sepulchre and roll a great stone before it, sealing the stone and setting a watch so that it shall not be able to rise...

His disciples and followers hid in despair and left His grave alone—they had no more hope. But on the third day, very early in the morning, women went through the blue dawn to His grave. It was women who saw His resurrection... The memory of that beautiful, sacred vision must have remained in their eyes. For thousands of years it has always been women who have seen resurrection on earth.

Now, too, they see it, or would they follow me ?

I did not want to be their leader, but the idea wanted it and ordained that I should be its apostle. When I was tired, when I felt down-hearted and doubt assailed me, whenever I felt unworthy of the call, I always remembered that the love for one's country and people which is put into one's soul is the measure of what one is able to achieve. It will succeed, it must succeed; and my voice, broken with much speaking, recovered before another meeting at the other end of the town, and women who had heard me already ran in front of me in the street, so that when I reached the new meeting they were waiting for me there, and listened to me again.

Late at night, dead tired, I struggle home, and flee to my mother for rest. We sit for a long time in the little green room, and she encourages me if I am weary, and she always finds the word that heals. Then, late, we go to sleep. The evening is long and gives me rest. I speak of my wanderings—and what I had felt dimly, as if in a haze, while my fatigue lasted, revives with imperative insistence, and I can think of nothing else


To-day a new misfortune has overtaken Hungary. The French Colonel Vyx, who has lately come to Budapest as head of the Entente's military mission, has sent a memorandum to the Hungarian Government, which contains the price of the Czechs' high-treason. The victorious Powers claim from Hungary the evacuation of all Upper Hungary, because they recognise the sovereignty of the Czecho-Slovak State and consider its army as an allied army...

I could hardly stop myself from trembling : a wave of utter sorrow and degradation passed over me. The heralds of right and justice, the new saviours of the world, regardless of the conditions of the armistice, simply order us to deliver up our country's great outpost, the Carpathians and eighteen of our most lovely counties, to those who never owned them, who are called the " allies " of the Entente although for many years they had been the main support of Austria's power, and its chief executioners. We Hungarians could tell a tale about that. After our war of liberation, they, as the secret agents of Austrian absolutism, agents provocateurs, and hangmen plenipotentiary, tortured Hungary's people more cruelly than any conqueror has ever done. And Venice and Lombardy could tell a tale too. There the memory of imperial torturers, " gli sbirre austriaci, " still haunts the country, and most of those were Czechs. It is they who are responsible for the turn things have taken, and yet, as allied forces of the Allies, they now participate in the execution of the armistice which directs the occupation of the old Monarchy's territory !

At the beginning of November fifteen complete Hungarian divisions came back from the front. If they were still here...

I was horrified and looked at my mother. She was thinking of the same things as I did. And like people who, sitting up with one whom they love and who is dangerously ill, try to strengthen their faith in his recovery by speaking of times when the patient was strong and healthy, we two began to talk, in our vigil of olden times, of lovely summers in the distant highlands. When we were still children our parents wanted us to get to know every part of our country, and every holiday they found a cosy little nest for us in some different county. Summers in the Carpathians ; charming little spas, villages in the forest, quiet, secluded little towns among the mountains... The green fields of the Mátra... the Pressburg of Maria Theresa... the towns of the Zips, and Kassa with its ancient cathedral... the High Tátra reaching into the clouds... the wilderness of Bereg... the forests of Marmaros... and the heaving waters of the Tisza... Past lovely summers—past with Hungary's soul.


But we shall take it back !... And next day I was up again and carried the word to the women and poured my faith into their hearts. The streets and squares are now darker than ever. A new order has been published that shops are to be closed at five, and so the shop-windows are dark after that hour. I passed in front of a Kinematograph, where big coloured posters near the entrance " featured " Tisza's death. An actor was made up as Tisza, and an actress represented Countess Tisza : Denise Almássy too was impersonated. The manager had had the reel staged on the authentic spot of the murder. Did he get the murderers to play their own parts, I wonder ?

As I passed, I listened with disgust to the remarks exchanged by people coming out from the performance. All Pest is whispering about a sailor who boasts everywhere that it was he who killed Tisza. It is also said that Countess Almássy, while dining at the Hotel Ritz, recognised with horror one of Tisza's murderers. She asked, " Who is that man ? " And somebody answered : " The President of the Soldiers' Council, Joseph Pogány. " But it was only an invention, for Denise Almássy has never been in town since the murder. All sorts of rumours get about. It is said that at the War Office the Government has paid out hundreds of thousands of crowns to suspicious individuals who have rendered great service to the revolution. The members of the first Soldiers' Council have received considerable amounts, nobody knows why. But Károlyi probably knows, and if he cared to look into matters he might find Tisza's murderers among them.

We live in a quagmire and around us Bolshevism is organising more openly every day.

I went home along the banks of the Danube. A small lighter towed a long raft down stream. A man sat on the stairs of the embankment, and his head was bowed between drawn-up knees. A child passed me, its bare feet wrapped in bits of old carpet and the ends of the strings with which they were tied up dragged behind him in the mud. The shops were already closed and the streets were in darkness. At the edge of the footpath a queer little figure was alternately stooping and standing up. As I got nearer I saw that it was an old woman, clothed in an old-fashioned cloak of beadwork and with a shabby bonnet on her head, who was searching among the garbage in the dust bins that stood by the side of the street. A little basket hung on her arm, and she was collecting putrid bits of food.

This town is haunted by strange sounds. Foreign money rings, banknotes rustle, and one cannot see who gives or takes. But the recipient sells his services for the foreign money and then whispers something broadcast in the streets. The cloaked woman among the garbage boxes, the despairing man on the stairs, and the child whose feet protrude naked from scraps of carpet, they all hear it.

A crowd gathers, no one knows whence, and soldiers and sailors appear. Suddenly someone jumps up on a box and begins to make a speech.

" It is all the fault of the gentle-folk, the counts, the priests and the bourgeois ! They ought to be knocked on the head, every one of them ! "

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