The Secret City eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 480 pages of information about The Secret City.

I think it was with a kind of gulping surprise, as after a sudden plunge into icy cold water, that we English became conscious of this.  It came to us first in the form that to us the war was everything—­to the Russian, by the side of an idea the war was nothing at all.  How was I, for instance, to recognise the men who took a leading part in the events of this extraordinary year as the same men who fought with bare hands, with fanatical bravery through all the Galician campaign of two years before?

Had I not realised sufficiently at that time that Russia moves always according to the Idea that governs her—­and that when that Idea changes the world, his world changes with it....

Well, to return to Markovitch....


I was on the point of setting out for the English Prospect on Saturday evening when there was a knock on my door, and to my surprise Nicholas Markovitch came in.  He was in evening dress—­rather quaint it seemed to me, with his pointed collar so high, his tail-coat so much too small, and his large-brimmed bowler hat.  He explained to me confusedly that he wished to walk with me alone to the church... that he had things to tell me... that we should meet the others there.  I saw at once two things, that he was very miserable, that he was a little drunk.  His misery showed itself in his strange, pathetic, gleaming eyes, that looked so often as though they held unshed tears (this gave him an unfortunate ridiculous aspect), in his hollow pale cheeks and the droop of his mouth, not petulant nor peevish, simply unhappy in the way that animals or very young children express unhappiness.  His drunkenness showed itself in quite another way.  He was unsteady a little on his feet, and his hands trembled, his forehead was flushed, and he spoke thickly, sometimes running his words together.  At the same time he was not very drunk, and was quite in control of his thoughts and intentions.

We went out together.  It could not have been called a fine night—­it was too cold, and there was a hint of rain in the air—­and yet there is beauty, I believe, in every Russian Easter Eve.  The day comes so wonderfully at the end of the long heavy winter.  The white nights with their incredible, almost terrifying beauty are at hand, the ice is broken, the new world of sun and flowers is ready, at an instant’s magic word, to be born.  Nevertheless this year there was an incredible pathos in the wind.  The soul of Petrograd was indeed stirring, but mournfully, ominously.  There were not, for one thing, the rows of little fairy lamps that on this night always make the streets so gay.  They hang in chains and clusters of light from street to street, blazing in the square, reflected star-like in the canals, misty and golden-veiled in distance.  To-night only the churches had their lights; for the rest, the streets were black chasms of windy desolation, the canals burdened with the breaking ice which moved

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The Secret City from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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