A Prisoner Of The Reds by Francis McCullagh

By Francis McCullagh

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All the stations along the line were covered with the most pathetic little pencilled notices regarding these lost ones . The following specimens will give an idea of what they were like " Dear Ivan i am going to stay at Andy's house in Irkutsk join ME there the children are with me but we have no food . " Surnames were seldom used in these notices ; the Christian name was generally given in its diminutive form and no attempt was ever made to indicate who exactly the writer was . For Olga there was evidently only one Ivan in the world, and for Sergei there was only one Masha .

The illustrated book of revolutionary " martyrs," published in igo6 under the title of " Byloe," and the portraits of the Soviet leaders with which the Hotel Metropole in Moscow is now adorned are as repulsive to me as Madame Tussaud's Chamber of Horrors : the diabolically criminal type being in all three cases the same . The religious sects are as immoderate in their way as the political organizations both of the Right and of the Left . The members of one sect still practise castration in obedience to what they conceive to be the command of Christ, while the followers of another sect used to burn themselves alive to the singing of pious canticles, under the direction of a crazy priest who assured them that their spotless souls suffered no defilement from the sexual filth in which they wallowed till the flames engulfed them .

There was nothing, therefore, between us and the enemy . Insurgent bands were operating on the line to the east of us, and held for a short time one of the stations . The telegraph wires had all been cut, but the presence of guerillas on the railway was signalled by means of rockets at night . Everything indicated that we were running into a catastrophe . The curtain had in fact risen on the last act of the tragedy, but it proved to be a very short act with a rather tame and unexpected climax .

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