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An Outlaw's Diary: Revolution - Chapter III


Dawn of November 2nd.

It was long after midnight before my mother's door closed. I hung a silk handkerchief over the lamp so that its light might not be seen from outside and then I went through the letters accumulated on my writing-table. Suddenly a bell rang in the hall. The telephone... Who could call so late ? What has happened ? I ran quickly down the stairs. An unfamiliar voice spoke to me from the unknown. A terrified, strange voice :

" Save yourself ! The Russian prisoners have escaped from their camp. Three thousand of them are coming armed. They kill, rob and pillage. They are coming towards the town. They are coming this way... "

" But... " I wanted to express my thanks, but the voice ceased and was gone. It must have gone on, panting, to awaken and warn the other inhabitants of lonely houses. For an instant my imagination followed the voice as it ran breathless along the wires in the night and shouted its alarm to the sleeping, the waking, the cowardly, the brave. It comes nameless, goes nameless, waits for no thanks, flies on the torn wings of shattered, despised human fellowship.

The Russians are coming... I stood irresolute for a time in the cold passage. What should I do ? Every moment life seemed to present new problems. From the dark hall I listened for any sound from my mother's room and looked to see if a light appeared under her door. But all was in darkness. Should I call her, tell her ? What good would it be ? I walked slowly up the stairs. There was no sound from the room of my brother, who was very ill. They both sleep... It is better so. At any rate, it would be impossible for us to descend that soaked, slippery mountain path in the night. And if we could, where should we go ? Fly ? They said that when there was an earthquake. But where can one find shelter when the earth is quaking everywhere ?

When I reached my room I breathed more freely. The lamp was alight, so at least I was spared the addition of more darkness to that already in my heart.

From the covered lamp a ray like that of a thief's lantern fell on the table. I sat down in front of it and rested my head in my hands, a dull weariness behind my brow. It was some time before I overcame this lassitude, and then four words formed themselves on my lips : 4 The Russians are coming...' The past was stirred, and I remembered the day when I had first heard those words...

Hungary did not want war. When it came she faced it honourably, as she had always done for a thousand years... In their black Sunday best peasants went through the town. The heels of their high boots resounded sharply on the pavement... Young women in bright petticoats, with tears in their eyes, walked hand in hand with their sweethearts, from whom they were about to be parted; old women in shawls, with their handsome sons. Then—the Russians are coming !... That was all that was said. But those four words foretold an immense upheaval, coming from the North. The greater half of Europe, part of mysterious dark Asia, moved from their ancient abodes and with a sea of guns and rifles rushed on towards the Carpathians to devour Europe. They poured like an avalanche over the mountain passes, while Humanity held its breath. Such a battle of peoples had never been before.

Years went by. On the Russian fields and swamps, along the Volga and the Don, from the Urals to the Caucasus, on the endless plains of Asia, the nations that had risen in arms were bleeding to death. The empire of the White Czar had bled to death, and that which was left of it became Red, dyed in its own blood...

Summer had come many times since the tragic summer of 1914 when the first boys went who never came back again. Dear features now still in death, playmates of my childhood, dead friends of my youth. At the foot of Lublin, on the fields of Sanatova, in the Dukla Pass, among the Polish swamps, in Serbian land, at the Asiago, everywhere flowed blood which was akin to mine. Dead shoots of my ancestral tree ! And as you went, so did others too, from year to year, without reprieve. Then the call came to the school-rooms and to the sunny corridors where the aged basked, resting before the eternal rest, from the labours of life.

There was practically not a man nor a youth left in the villages. The black soil was tilled by women, and women gathered the harvest.

Springs were conceived in pain. Summers brought forth their harvests in tears. In the autumnal mists the withered hands of tottering old men held the plough as it followed the silver-grey long-horned oxen. A carriage might travel many miles without passing a single man at work in the fields. All were under foreign skies—or under foreign soil, while the panic-stricken towns were invaded by hordes of Galician fugitives. A new type of buyer appeared in the markets, on the Exchange. The Ghetto of Pest was thronged. Goods disappeared and prices began to soar. Misery stalked with a subdued wail through the land, while the new rich rattled their gold impudently. A part of the aristocracy and the wealth-laden Jewry danced madly in the famished towns, amidst a weeping land.

Now and then dark news came from the distant tempest of blood. Now and then flags of victory were unfurled and the church bells rang for the Te Deum. One morning the flags were of a black hue, and the church bells tolled for death : The King is dead !... Long live the King !


The old ruler closed his eyes after a long watch, and the reins of the two countries fell from his aged hands. In Vienna : an imperial funeral and imperial mourning; in Buda : a coronation shining with the lustre of ancient gold. The clouds had broken ! With his veiled, white-faced wife the young King passed like a vision through his royal town.

But it was all a dream. The King was in a hurry. In vain did his people proffer their devotion at the gate of his castle : he was incapable of grasping the moment, and departed before he had gathered this royal treasure. So the wind scattered the despised love of the nation. Something froze under the Hungarian sky, and in chilled soberness the morrow dawned.

In those times the winters were cold in Hungary. They froze one to the marrow as they had never done before. There was scarcely any fuel. Along the walls of the houses in Pest, children, girls, and old people thronged at the entrance to the coal merchants. They sat on the edge of the pavement, shivered and waited. At the horse- butchers, at the communal shops, in front of bakers', and dairymen's, long rows of sad women waited from dawn till late into the night. Quiet, patient women... waiting... Everybody was waiting—for life, for death, for news, for somebody to return. The hospitals were overcrowded, and all through the land, from one end to the other, the roads resounded with the wooden clatter of crutches.

That was the once happy Hungary ! But hope and honour were still alive. Our war was a war of self-defence. Perhaps we, of all the combatants, had nothing to gain, had no ambition to take anything from any other country.

But our corrupt politics had lost a greater struggle than a battle. Personal hatred and envy brought about the downfall of Stephen Tisza, and the helm came into inexperienced hands. The power which had steered till then ceased to be, and while men of the Great Plain, Transylvania, Upper Hungary and West Hungary were away on the distant battle-fields, in honour bound, something happened in the crowded capital of the empty country.

Traces of the silent, clandestine work of undermining became gradually perceptible. But before its threads could be clearly defined they faded away and were absorbed by daily life. In the background, as on a stage, sinister shapes passed. From the sides invisible prompters whispered, and in the foreground there appeared a figure which day by day grew more distinct. This figure kept repeating, louder and louder, the secret promptings, as though they were his very own.

That man was Count Michael Károlyi.


I shivered as I pondered these things. Then some noise outside interrupted my thoughts and I remembered the night's warning... Hours may have passed since I sat down at my writing-table. The light of my shaded lamp fell in a narrow wedge on to the sheet of paper in front of me, my head was still between my hands.

What was that ?... Again the same noise. Then suddenly with relief I realized what it was. Near my window some mortar from the tiles had rolled from the roof into the gutter, quietly, like a shiver passing over the lonely house. I listened for some time, then I buried my face again in my hands and my thoughts wandered back by the path of recent events, picking up on the way fading memories which had been thrown to oblivion.

The picture of our great past was grand and full of dignity. Details stood out. Scenes gained colour. The expression of people's faces became clearer, and now and then one could look behind the veil of things. That which was far away had become history, whereas the present was warm, throbbing, human life.

How did it happen ? And when ? At the time train after train was rolling across Hungary, long military trains, carrying the troops from the freed Russian frontier towards the Italian and French fronts. The end of the war had never seemed nearer. The hope of victory carried all hearts with it. Even the prophets of evil portent became mute, and the possibility of an honest peace appeared like a mirage on the horizon. The frontiers of Hungary will not change : that was our only condition of peace—we have never wanted anything else. And then the road will be clear for the second thousand years.

But then, all of a sudden, a shining blade seemed to pierce the air. There was a flash of light, and the light lit up a new wound. What had happened. Who had caused it ?

In the first days of January some people unknown had introduced revolutionary literature into the arsenals and munition factories. " Workers !... Brethren !... Soldier-brothers !... Not a penny, not a man for the army ! " Those who had an opportunity, of reading these pamphlets could have no doubt that they were produced by people who were opposed to Hungary's interests. What we imagined in horror had become a reality. A foe was in our midst and was attempting to achieve here what he had failed to accomplish on the other side of the front. Who are the guilty ? The nation, fighting for life, clamoured indignantly for the mask to be torn off them. And when the mask was torn off they stood there in the light, with blinking eyes, caught in the act : a pseudo-scientific organisation of the Freemasons[2], the International Freethinkers' branch of Hungarian Higher Schools, and the Circle of Galilee with its almost exclusively Jewish membership.

Others, who were equally implicated, withdrew suddenly into the obscurity of the background. As far as he was concerned, however, Michael Károlyi thought caution superfluous. He continued to remain in the foreground of the scene; and though doubtful strangers sneaked through the entrance of his palace, nobody interfered with him. Even the police left him alone, though it knew full well that when the revolutionary documents were drawn up he had been in close contact with the Galileist youths, and had even spent many hours in their office. He was observed from a neighbouring house. But invisible powers protected Michael Károlyi, and it was said that his confidential friends in official positions always informed him in time when his position was becoming dangerous.

Public opinion became nervous in those times, and waited with impatience for retribution. The headquarters of the Galilee Circle was sealed up by the police. Arrests were made. Then the names of some of the accused reached the public through the doors of the secret court—names with a striking sound. Even now I remember some of them : Helen Duczynska, Theodor Singer-Sugar, Herman Helfgott, Csillag-Stern, Kelen-Klein, Fried, Weiss, Sisa, Ignace Beller, and about three more Russian Jews, among them a prisoner of war called Solom, who possessed a multiplicator. There wasn't a single Hungarian among them. Obscure foreign hands had fumbled at our destiny ! But nobody spoke of that. And yet the very names of the arrested Galileists were an indication of future events. Alas ! the Hungarian nation has never known how to interpret the future by the warnings of the present.

The trial of the Galileists came to an end : the court martial inflicted two remarkably lenient sentences and acquitted the rest. That was all. Then there followed silence, a silence similar to the one which in the autumn of 1917 hid Károlyi's journey to Switzerland and stifled the whispers that he had betrayed there to the French the German offensive which was preparing and had hobnobbed with Syndicalists and Bolshevists. Only when the sailors of Cattaro revolted was there another commotion. Notwithstanding the secrecy of the army command, rumours got about. The batman of a high officer brought a letter sewn in the lining of his coat.

Down there in the Gulf of Cattaro the fleet had mutinied. Michael Horthy, the hero of the Novarro, suppressed the rising and saved the fleet for the Monarchy. But in the embers of the extinguished fire the army command found curious footprints. It was alleged that two telegrams of the mutineers were intercepted. One was addressed to Trotski, the other to Michael Károlyi.

And again, nothing was done ! Political consideration... Great names are involved... The King won't have it... The time is not propitious...

It was about this time that I reminded Count Stephen Tisza of a letter which I had received through Switzerland in the autumn of 1914, and which I had shown him at the time. The letter arrived approximately at the same time as Michael Károlyi, whom mobilisation had found on French soil. According to this letter the French had good reasons for sending Károlyi home. He was to be well rewarded if he did his work well... he might even become the President of the Hungarian Republic. Stephen Tisza only shook his head : " You see phantoms. It would be a pity to make a martyr of him. "

It was a long time ago. Much has become blurred since then, but I still feel the bitterness of that moment.

And all the other politicians thought as Tisza did. They did not take Michael Károlyi seriously, because they did not see those who were behind him. The attention of public opinion was absorbed by other things. Every day life became more difficult, and far away in Brest-Litovsk peace negotiations were going on. The delegates of the Russians dragged out the negotiations cunningly, and the German command, losing patience, rattled its sword at the council table. Meanwhile Bronstein-Trotski, the Foreign Commissioner of the Soviet, addressed inciting speeches over the heads of our delegates—to our soldiers, our workmen.

At home these speeches created a curious stir. As if they had been a signal the Jewish press of Hungary began to attack our German allies. The " dispersed " Circle of Galilee organised a demonstration in front of the German Consulate and broke its windows. The co-religionists of the Trotskis, Radeks and Joffes organised strikes by means of the trade union headquarters, which they had under their control. Thus did they support the interests of their Russian friends and weaken the position of our delegates.

During the strike Michael Károlyi, walking one day with his wife in the city, met one of their relations who lived in the suburbs and asked him anxiously, " Are the people rising out there ? " The negative answer depressed them. " It does not matter... The day has not yet come... But we shall not escape revolution. "

Louder and louder came the whispers out of the darkness : we had come to a phase when words could do the work. And words began to agitate : " Only a separate peace can save us from the revolution... We must leave the Germans to their fate... They are the cause of everything... The war goes on because of them... Alsace Lorraine... " Invisible lips uttered these things with persistent consistency. Unknown voices spoke to those who repeated their sayings. And far away from the fields of battle, in the country's capital, in the workshops and the barracks, quietly, secretly, the earth began to quake.

And yet the front was never stronger than at this period of the war. After the Ukrainian and Russian peace, these were perhaps the last moments which permitted us to hope for a possible peace, if only we showed unity and resolution. But in these fateful days some mischievous magic lantern flashed the picture of a weakening alliance with Germany, of internal discord and risings, towards our adversaries, and these pictures inspired them with new zeal. At home it became more and more clear that we harboured men who ate the bread of our soil under the protection of Hungarian soldiers, who drank the water of our wells and slept peacefully, whilst putting forth every possible effort to make us lose the war.

If I remember rightly it was at this time that Károlyi's political camp began to spread the rumour that he had come into touch with leaders of the Entente. Poincaré had once been the lawyer of the Károlyi family... Stories circulated. Others again knew that he had connections with Trotski and that he had organised secret military councils in the smaller towns round the capital.

" The traitor ! "

While we in my family called him a traitor, the radical press raised him to the dignity of a prophet, and the misguided masses saw in him the saviour of the country.

The freemasons, socialists, feminists and galileists stood behind him. Some female members of his own family surrounded him like disciples and repeated without discrimination everything he proclaimed. That which would have brought a trooper to the gallows was freely said by Michael Károlyi the officer. In the clubs gentlemen shook hands with him, and society thought it original and amusing that he should have called his little daughter Bolshevik Eve. The haughty Count Károlyi, who would not have offered a seat to his bailiff and who during the war—well behind the front—refused to shake hands with infantry officers who came, covered with blood and mud, from the trenches, because "ils n'étaient pas de famille, " now declaimed about democracy and equality, and made Bolshevism fashionable among his younger female relatives !

In this inner circle his influence reached such ridiculous proportions that a lady of his intimate acquaintance exclaimed in her democratic zeal : " Oh, I do love the rabble ! " His wife's relations, following his teachings, poked fun at patriotism, raved about the Internationale, and wore some travesty of a dress because it had been dubbed " Bolshevik " fashion. Of course it was " only in play, " but it was a dangerous game, for it covered those who wore Bolshevik fashions in earnest.

The young King was full of the best intentions. Perhaps he saw the danger, but he drew back when he ought to have excised the source of infection spread by Károlyi's friends. In Austria he granted an amnesty and released from prison the Czech traitors. The Austrian people, once so devoted to their Emperor, became indifferent... In Hungary he ordered judicial proceedings to be commenced against the traitors, but did not insist on their being carried out. Thus it happened that the Hungarian people, in an agony concerning the fate of their country, felt themselves forsaken and regarded their King with disappointment and bitter reproaches; while the dark forces, gathering encouragement from this eternal indecision, were emboldened to come out into the sunlight. Thus a bloodless war against Hungary was started in Hungary.

In the West the successful great German offensive shook for a time the camp of destruction. The successes of our allies were received by Károlyi with fear and trembling. His wife went into hysterics and his confidential newspaper editor, Baron Louis Hatvany, exclaimed sadly in my presence :

" No greater misfortune can befall us than a German victory. Russian Bolshevism is a thousand times preferable to German Militarism. "

It was as if the earth had opened in front of me when I heard these words. I remember my reply :

" German militarism goes armed against armed men; Russian Bolshevism goes armed against unarmed people. That may please you better. As for me, I prefer militarism. "

At this time the voice of the Hungarian Radical press was the same as that of Baron Hatvany. The same press which at the beginning of the war blackguarded our enemies shamefully, now wrote of them sentimentally. The same papers which, when the Russian invasion was threatening, cringed repulsively before the German power, now kicked the wounded giant fearlessly.

For Germany was stricken now. The offensive came to a standstill. Contradictory reports spread. And while our enemies prepared with burning patriotism for the sublime effort, underhand peace talk was heard in Hungary, and Károlyi—through his friends— acclaimed pacifism and internationalism. The Radical press was triumphant. Not content with attacking the alliance it attacked that which was Hungarian as well. Nothing was sacred. It threw mud at Tisza's clean name. It derided all that was precious to the nation. Base calumnies were spread about the Queen.

The overthrow of authority and of traditions are the necessary preliminaries to the destruction of a nation.

With such evil omens came the fifth summer of war, which brought the fifth bad harvest. In the West, the German front retreated unresistingly. In the East, the storm of the Russian Revolution was blowing over the Carpathians. Our fronts were infected with Károlyi's agitators. Those who were caught paid the penalty. Yet there were enough well-paid poisoners of wells who slipped through. Their work was easy : the West provided gold, the East the example. The infection spread...

The collapse of Germany's power, the many old sins of the Austrian higher command, the catastrophe that befell our army at the Piave, the bitterness for the disproportionate blood sacrifice of the Hungarians, the anti-Hungarian spirit of the Austrian military element, the endless squabbles of our politicians, the blindness of our impotent government—all these served those who, to Hungary's misfortune, aspired to power.

Bad news came fast. In Arad, in Nagyvárad, some detachments mutinied and refused obedience. Revolutionary papers were found in the barracks. In Budapest the working masses became threateningly restless; near the communal food-shops and other stores the waiting crowd was no longer patient and silent. I stopped often at the edge of the pavement and listened to what they said. The shabby, waiting rows of tired people struggled for hours between two wedges. In the shop the profiteers sucked their life blood; in the street paid agitators incited them cunningly, clandestinely against " the gentle-folk. " " It all depends on us how long we stand it. After all we are the majority, not they. "

The crowd approved and failed to notice that the Semitic race was only to be found at the_two ends of the queue, and that not a single representative of it could be seen as a buyer among the crowding, the poor, and the starving... This was symbolical, a condensed picture of Budapest. The sellers, the agitators, were Jews. The buyers and the misguided were the people of the capital.

A carriage passed in the middle of the road. A pale, sickly woman sat in it. The waiting row of people growled angrily towards the carriage : Cannot this one walk like everybody else ? Unpleasant words were spoken. I looked along the line. The agitators were there no more. But the seed they had sown grew suddenly ripe. The people talked excitedly to each other and shouted provocatively at those who wore a decent coat. " Why should he have that coat ? All that will have to change ! " Envy and hatred distorted the face of the street. A part of the press was already inciting openly to class-hatred.

The town was now on the eve of its suicide, and presently, like a thunderbolt, there fell into the streets the news that the Bulgarian army had laid down its arms !

I well remember that awful day. It was the twenty-sixth of September. Through the agitated, humming town I was going to the funeral of my little godson. The streets were thronged with people. As they went along they were all reading newspapers, and I noticed that they seemed to stagger as if they had been stunned by some terrific blow. Harassed faces rushed past me, and only here and there was some contrast perceptible. I did not understand it until later...

Two Jews were talking to each other :

" At last ! Beneidenswertes Volk, these Bulgarians. They will get good conditions ! Prima Bedingungen ! And that is the beginning of peace. "

They alone seemed to be happy... And the sun glittered on the roof-tops and there was something in the glowing brightness of the early autumn which reminded me of the waking life of spring, when I had walked in the same neighbourhood. When was it ? I remembered with a pang. On the morn of the victory of Gorlice did the sun shine thus, above the bright-coloured waving flags. And through my tears I saw suddenly the little dead golden-headed boy, the hope of his house : little Andrew Tormay... He came during the war, he smiled, and he was gone. His short life ended with the last world-moving act. But was it the last ? Or was it a new beginning ?


A cold shudder ran down my back. Merciful God, is it not enough ? Somewhere a cock crowed and roused me from my meditations. I took my hands from my face and rose stiff from beside my table. The room had become chilled during the long night. Between the slats of the blind something was painting with a delicate brush rapid, cold blue lines on the darkness. Dawn. I looked out for an instant into the damp, sad half-light and tried to picture the morn. But the thoughts of the night crowded upon me.

Some time must have elapsed before I noticed that I was sitting on the edge of my bed, rigid, dressed. A jumble of thoughts thronged my brain... Since the Bulgarian armistice life had been one continuous series of shocks, and I remembered events only with gaps. Big pieces were missing, then they started again... Wilson ! In those dark hours this name still soothed our harassed souls. Disastrous illusion, enticing nations into a death-trap ! Peace... peace ! howled the voice of this phantom behind the battlefields, attacking the still resisting armies in the back. Peace !... Peace ! it howled along the fronts. Then in an aside it added : " There is no peace for you till you discard your Emperor ! " Meanwhile, in our midst, the camp of Count Michael Károlyi studied cynically, as if it were a game, the guidebook of the Russian Revolution. Tisza and Andrássy became reconciled. Too late, too late...

Then came a memorable day. Parliament sat on the 17th of October and the Prime Minister announced the severance of all community with Austria, except the personal union of the Sovereign. Too late, too late... The aspiration of centuries, the hope of generations, became a puppet. The unity of the Empire, dualism, the common army, were feverishly thrown overboard from the Monarchy's drifting airship. The opposition laughed. One deputy promised a revolution for March and turning toward Tisza spoke of the gallows.

" The parody of a revolution, " answered Tisza contemptuously.

Károlyi rose to speak. The storm broke, and one of his hangers-on, Lovászy, shouted at the House : " We are friends of the Entente ! "

This was the first open avowal of the treason which had been committed for years by Károlyi's party; the horror of it ran like a shudder through the House, the city and the land, to pass on as a slavering mendicant to our enemies. Those who were honest among us hurled the treason back at the traitors, that it might brand the foreheads of those who in the hour of our agony could offer their friendship to our destroyers. How could the powers of the Entente feel anything but contempt and disdain for such an offer ! Their generals and politicians might make use of traitors, but certainly they would not demean themselves by accepting their friendship.

After this disgraceful sitting, in front of the very gate of the House of Parliament, an attempt was made on Count Stephen Tisza's life. Years before a deputy called Kovács-Strasser, and now a certain Lékai-Leiter, raised the weapon against him.

On October the 22nd Tisza spoke for the last time in the Commons and declared that we must stand by our allies. If we had to fall, let us fall together, honourably. And then his voice, which never deceived and never lied, told the unfortunate nation that : " We have lost this war ! " ... Amidst breathless silence the sinister words rang through the country and, like Death's scythe, cut down all hope.

" Tisza said so... "

There was no more. And henceforth every new event was but another mortal wound. Wilson sent a reply to the Monarchy which implored him for peace. He would have no intercourse with us, and referred us to the Czechs, the Roumanians and the Serbs. They wanted to humiliate us, and humiliate us they did. But we still had an army, and we clung to the idea : the Hungarian troops would come back from the front.

Before we could recover our breath there came another stroke. On the 23rd of October a deputy of the Károlyi party shouted into the sitting House of Commons that when the King had entered Debreczen the Austrian National Anthem had been played. Nobody asked if the news were true. The song of Austria's Emperors in the very heart of the Great Hungarian Plain ! Always, even now ? Have they not yet learned, will they never forget ?... Then Károlyi read aloud a telegram which turned out later to be a forgery : the Croatian regiment in Fiume had mutinied !—Thus the opposition possessed itself of two weapons. The reporters in the press gallery jumped up at once and loudly supported Károlyi's camp. The impossible happened : in the Hungarian Parliament the Radical newspaper men of the press gallery brought about the fall of the government ! Tisza looked angrily towards the gallery and made signs to the speaker. What had become of his authority, the imposing of which had nearly cost him his life ?

The storm passed by, and after this the ground gave way quickly under the Hungarian Parliament. Wekerle resigned. All parties negotiated a coalition.

Meanwhile the King sat in council at Gödöllő, and it was about this time that the shifty rabble which gathered in the night of the 22nd of October at Károlyi's palace and dubbed itself the National Council emerged from darkness. The storm-troops of destruction, the Galileist Circle, came again to the fore; headed by a flag which Károlyi had given them they paraded the town and penetrated into the Royal Castle. The flag-bearer, a medical student of Galician origin called Rappaport, stuck the flag out of one of the castle's windows and addressed the rabble in the court yard. He blackguarded the King and called for cheers for Károlyi and the Republic.

Nobody attached any great importance to all this, and the town remained indifferent : the incident was practically unknown beyond the streets where the Galileists' strange, noisy procession had passed. Through the gate of Károlyi's palace furtive people hurried in and out. Some said that officers and men escaped from the front were hiding in the palace, others whispered of secret meetings in the Count's rooms.

What was going on there ? Nobody troubled about it, and the newspapers wrote long articles about the Spanish " flu. " The epidemic was serious, people met their friends at funerals, but the newspapers exaggerated intentionally; they published alarming statistics and reported that the undertakers could not cope with the situation : people had to be buried by torchlight at night. The panic-stricken crowd could scarcely think of anything else. The terror of the epidemic was everywhere, and the greater terror which threatened, the brewing revolution, was hidden by it. The press, as if working to order, hypnotised the public with the ghost of the epidemic while it belittled the misfortunes of the unfortunate nation and rocked its anxiety to sleep by raising foolish, false hopes of a good peace, and gushed over Károlyi's connections with the Entente.

And so the big, unwieldy mass of citizens slid towards the precipice in its sleep.

There came an awful day. We learned that as the result of the insidious propaganda of Károlyi's agents and his press, a Hungarian division and a Viennese regiment had laid down their arms... It was through this break that the forces of the Entente had crossed the Piave. Our forces repelled them in a supreme effort. Then the English tanks came into play. These were too much for the nerves of our men, whose discipline had been slackened by several months' intrigue. They mutinied, and it was reported that in the confusion General Wurm was killed by his own men.

In Budapest the papers which appeared were blanked heavily by the exertions of the censor, but in the streets people already spoke openly of the National Council and proclaimed loudly that one could take the oath of allegiance to it at the rooms of Károlyi's party. There was an astonishing number of soldiers in the crowd. I noticed then for the first time how many sailors walked the streets. Where did these come from ?

Next day was Sunday, October the 27th. I recollect clearly that I did not leave the house. Within the last few days most of the inhabitants of the villas in our neighbourhood had moved in haste in to the town. It was quiet, and I pruned the shrubs in our garden.

It was only through the newspapers that I learned what had happened. Advised by Károlyi, the King had received at Gödöllő the day before the Radical journalist Oscar Jászi and the two organisers of his party, Zsigmond Kúnfi and Ernest Garami, both Socialist journalists. Károlyi's press was shouting victory, and having obtained all it wanted, it began to see red and started to defame the King. Poor young King ! The reception was a sad and useless concession. These men were revolutionaries and poisoners whose due was not an audience but a warrant of arrest. Even now everything could have been saved, all that was wanted was a fist that dared to strike. But the King's beautiful hands, according to Jászi's report of the audience, only toyed nervously with his rings... Their Majesties went in the evening to Vienna. They left their children in the royal castle and took Károlyi with them in the royal train.


The morning papers spoke of " Károlyi, the Prime Minister designate of Hungary. " There was to be a monster meeting in town in front of the House of Parliament. The workmen appeared in full force. Lovászy, Count Batthyány, and " comrades " Garbai and Pogány made revolutionary speeches. A group of workmen, to show their approval of these measures, carried a gallows on which a doll dressed like Tisza in red hussar breeches was suspended. In the evening the crowd went to the railway station to receive Károlyi on his return from Vienna.

Later in the day my brother Géza telephoned to me from Baden (near Vienna) ; he had just come from General Headquarters. Archduke Joseph and Michael Károlyi had come in the same train. The King had recalled the Archduke from the Italian front and sent him as homo regius to Budapest. The Archduke obeyed, though he would have preferred to return first to his troops and come back at their head to restore order in the capital. The King, however, vetoed this plan. Two unfortunate blunders. The Archduke arrived without backing, and Count Károlyi infinitely offended in his vanity. The youths of the Galilee Circle were waiting for the latter at the railway station, and he shook his long yellow hands in the air and shouted : " I will not forsake Hungary's independence. "

Meanwhile worse and worse news reached us. We reeled under it, stunned. Our inertia was folly. Everybody expected somebody else to do something, and in the dark hours of our mad misfortune Károlyi's National Council alone became bolder.

Then came the events of October 28th. A crowd which had gathered near the rooms of Károlyi's party, incited by the revolutionary speeches of two factious orators, and led by Stephen Friedrich, a manufacturer, started towards the Danube to cross over to the Royal Castle and claim from Archduke Joseph the Premiership for Károlyi. " He alone can get us a good peace !... " There was a crush at the bridge-head. The crowd used the police roughly. Shots were fired. The police replied with a volley. A few people fell dead on the pavement. That was exactly what the organisers wanted. They shrieked wildly : " These martyrs will make the revolution... "

How many days ago did all this happen ? I began to count. One, two, three, four days in all. It seemed as though it had been much longer ago. Four days !... What a gap between then and this day when Tisza lay dead and with him much of Hungary's honour !


The torture of these memories drove me into despair. An utter weariness possessed me. I fell back on my bed. I wanted to rest, but against my will impressions came crowding into my brain... October 29th... What happened on that day ? Detached images passed before me. Fields soaked with wet... A little, whitewashed cottage on the edge of a wood, a tangled little garden, with ivy creeping over the paths and covering the old trees. For years I have gathered my evergreens there for the Day of the Dead. This year the little house has a new inmate. The old people have gone and the new proprietor appeared frightened when I shook the gate for admittance. Even after he had admitted me he looked at me several times suspiciously. His name was Stern, or something of the sort. While selling the ivy he spoke nervously :

" This neighbourhood has become very insecure. Many deserters roam the woods. They spend the night in the empty villas. " Then he asked me what I wanted the ivy for. " The cemeteries will be closed this year on the Day of the Dead. They are afraid of the crowds, because of the epidemic, and then... who knows what may happen if the King is obstinate and won't make Károlyi Prime Minister. "

" I hope he never will... "

The man looked at me angrily :

" He must come, and so must the Socialists. They will save Hungary. "

" It is odd that you should expcct the salvation of the country to come from those who denounce patriotism. "

" I see things differently, " said the man. " That is just the trouble in Hungary. They always talk of the country, the nation. There is no such thing as a country and a nation. It is the same to me where I live, in Moscow, in Munich or in Belgrade.

It is all the same to me as long as I live well. That is the thing we have to drive at, and it is only through socialism that it can be attained. "

" The ultimate end being communism ? "

" Later, sometime, some day, yes, " the man answered in a low voice.

" And the Russian example ? Do you think that what is going on there is the realisation of human happiness ? "

" That is only the stage of transition. "

" Transition which may mean annihilation. "

Rain began to fall. It drifted in dense silver threads between the hills. The cottage, its inhabitant and its garden disappeared from my memory. I saw another picture. It was evening. My mother was sitting silently in the hall, lit up by the shaded lamp, and, as she was wont to do every year, she was winding the ivy wreath for my father's grave.

" It is better for him not to have lived to see this, " she said abruptly, quite unexpectedly.

I looked at her. It was as if her words had opened a gap through which I could get a glimpse of her soul. I now knew that, though she never said so, she was worried by premonitions.

Later on my brothers and sisters came. They brought news. " It is said that Archduke Joseph would be made Viceroy. The King has charged Count Hadik to form a Cabinet. Károlyi's agitators are making speeches in the streets all over the town. There are great demonstrations. The printers' compositors have gone over to the National Council. Now the compositors censor the papers themselves. Nothing is allowed to be printed without the approval of the secretariat of the Socialist party. The workmen of the arsenal have broken open the armouries. The police have joined Károlyi's National Council... Down there at the Piave everything has collapsed. There is mutiny in the fleet at Pola. In the plains of Venezia the front has gone to pieces. "

And all the while, my silent mother was making her wreath...

I remembered nothing more. The hours passed unnoticed. Where was I next day ? What did I hear ? Memory was effaced. That day was the eve of the 31st of October... Ah yes ! In the afternoon we had a visitor. Countess Rafael Zichy came from the Castle Hill though the town had ceased to be safe. Yet she came and stayed late. The lamps on the roads had not been lit and we had to light her down the misty dark hill with a lantern. I was anxious to know if she reached home safely. My mother telephoned... So much I remembered, but I have no recollection of what we talked about while she was here.

Dead tired, I closed my eyes. But the swift changing pictures passed in restless fantasy... Human figures chasing outlines... bloodmarks... and the dead, white face of Stephen Tisza...

Shuddering, I opened my eyes. The night was over and day had come. And then I remembered that the Russians had not come after all. We had escaped that danger, but the rest was still there, encircling us and holding us in captivity.

A slight noise attracted me. It came from the lamp hanging from the ceiling. A moth had got into the glass chimney and with tattered wings was struggling vainly to escape.

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