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Yatil by F. D. Millet

 

While in Paris, in the spring of 1878, I witnessed an accident in a circus, which for a time made me renounce all athletic exhibitions. Six horses were stationed side by side in the ring before a spring-board, and the whole company of gymnasts ran and turned somersaults from the spring over the horses, alighting on a mattress spread on the ground. The agility of one finely developed young fellow excited great applause every time he made the leap. He would shoot forward in the air like a javelin, and in his flight curl up and turn over directly above the mattress, dropping on his feet as lightly as a bird. This play went on for some minutes, and at each round of applause the favorite seemed to execute his leap with increased skill and grace. Finally, he was seen to gather himself a little farther in the background than usual, evidently to prepare for a better start. The instant his turn came he shot out of the crowd of attendants and launched himself into the air with tremendous momentum. Almost quicker than the eye could follow him, he had turned and was dropping to the ground, his arms held above his head, which hung slightly forward, and his legs stretched to meet the shock of the elastic mattress.

But this time he had jumped an inch too far. His feet struck just on the edge of the mattress, and he was thrown violently forward, doubling up on the ground with a dull thump, which was heard all over the immense auditorium. He remained a second or two motionless, then sprang to his feet, and as quickly sank to the ground again. The ring attendants and two or three gymnasts rushed to him and took him up. The clown, in evening dress, personating the mock ringmaster, the conventional spotted merryman, and a stalwart gymnast in buff fleshings, bore the drooping form of the favorite in their arms, and, followed by the bystanders, who offered ineffectual assistance, carried the wounded man across the ring and through the draped arch under the music gallery. Under any other circumstances the group would have excited a laugh, for the audience was in that condition of almost hysterical excitement when only the least effort of a clown is necessary to cause a wave of laughter. But the moment the wounded man was lifted from the ground, the whole strong light from the brilliant chandelier struck full on his right leg dangling from the knee, with the foot hanging limp and turned inward. A deep murmur of sympathy swelled and rolled around the crowded amphitheatre.

I left the circus, and hundreds of others did the same. A dozen of us called at the box-office to ask about the victim of the accident. He was advertised as "The Great Polish Champion Bareback Rider and Aerial Gymnast." We found that he was really a native of the East, whether Pole or Russian the ticket-seller did not know. His real name was Nagy, and he had been engaged only recently, having returned a few months before from a professional tour in North America. He was supposed to have money, for he commanded a good salary, and was sober and faithful. The accident, it was said, would probably disable him for a few weeks only, and then he would resume his engagement.

The next day an account of the accident was in the newspapers, and twenty-four hours later all Paris had forgotten about it. For some reason or other I frequently thought of the injured man, and had an occasional impulse to go and inquire after him; but I never went. It seemed to me that I had seen his face before, when or where I tried in vain to recall. It was not an impressive face, but I could call it up at any moment as distinct to my mind's eye as a photograph to my physical vision. Whenever I thought of him, a dim, very dim memory would flit through my mind, which I could never seize and fix.

Two months later I was walking up the Rue Richelieu, when some one, close beside me and a little behind, asked me in Hungarian if I was a Magyar. I turned quickly to answer no, surprised at being thus addressed, and beheld the disabled circus-rider. It flashed upon me, the moment I saw his face, that I had seen him in Turin three years before. My surprise at the sudden identification of the gymnast was construed by him into vexation at being spoken to by a stranger. He began to apologize for stopping me, and was moving away, when I asked him about the accident, remarking that I was present on the evening of his misfortune. My next question, put in order to detain him, was:

"Why did you ask if I was a Hungarian?"

"Because you wear a Hungarian hat," was the reply.

This was true. I happened to have on a little round, soft felt hat, which I had purchased in Buda Pesth.

"Well, but what if I were Hungarian?"

"Nothing; only I was lonely and wanted company, and you looked as if I had seen you somewhere before. You are an artist, are you not?"

I said I was, and asked him how he guessed it.

"I can't explain how it is," he said, "but I always know them. Are you doing anything?"

"No," I replied.

"Perhaps I may get you something to do," he suggested. "What is your line?"

"Figures," I answered, unable to divine how he thought he could assist me.

This reply seemed to puzzle him a little, and he continued:

"Do you ride or do the trapeze?"

It was my turn now to look dazed, and it might easily have been gathered, from my expression, that I was not flattered at being taken for a saw-dust artist. However, as he apparently did not notice any change in my face, I explained without further remark that I was a painter. The explanation did not seem to disturb him any; he was evidently acquainted with the profession, and looked upon it as kindred to his own.

As we walked along through the great open quadrangle of the Tuileries, I had an opportunity of studying his general appearance. He was neatly dressed, and, though pale, was apparently in good health. Notwithstanding a painful limp his carriage was erect, and his movements denoted great physical strength. On the bridge over the Seine we paused for a moment and leaned on the parapet, and thus, for the first time, stood nearly face to face. He looked earnestly at me a moment without speaking, and then, shouting "Torino" so loudly and earnestly as to attract the gaze of all the passers, he seized me by the hand, and continued to shake it and repeat "Torino" over and over again.

This word cleared up my befogged memory like magic. There was no longer any mystery about the man before me. The impulse which now drew us together was only the unconscious souvenir of an earlier acquaintance, for we had met before. With the vision of the Italian city, which came distinctly to my eyes at that moment, came also to my mind every detail of an incident which had long since passed entirely from my thoughts.

It was during the Turin carnival, in 1875, that I happened to stop over for a day and a night, on my way down from Paris to Venice. The festival was uncommonly dreary, for the air was chilly, the sky gray and gloomy, and there was a total lack of spontaneity in the popular spirit. The gaudy decorations of the Piazza and the Corso, the numberless shows and booths, and the brilliant costumes, could not make it appear a season of jollity and mirth, for the note of discord in the hearts of the people was much too strong. King Carnival's might was on the wane, and neither the influence of the Church nor the encouragement of the State was able to bolster up the superannuated monarch. There was no communicativeness in even what little fun there was going, and the day was a long and a tedious one. As I was strolling around in rather a melancholy mood, just at the close of the cavalcade, I saw the flaming posters of a circus, and knew my day was saved, for I had a great fondness for the ring. An hour later I was seated in the cheerfully lighted amphitheatre, and the old performance of the trained stallions was going on as I had seen it a hundred times before. At last the "Celebrated Cypriot Brothers, the Universal Bareback Riders," came tripping gracefully into the ring, sprang lightly upon two black horses, and were off around the narrow circle like the wind, now together, now apart, performing all the while marvellous feats of strength and skill. It required no study to discover that there was no relationship between the two performers. One of them was a heavy, gross, dark-skinned man, with the careless bearing of one who had been nursed in a circus. The other was a small, fair-haired youth of nineteen or twenty years, with limbs as straight and as shapely as the Narcissus, and with joints like the wiry-limbed fauns. His head was round, and his face of a type which would never be called beautiful, although it was strong in feature and attractive in expression. His eyes were small and twinkling, his eyebrows heavy, and his mouth had a peculiar proud curl in it which was never disturbed by the tame smile of the practised performer. He was evidently a foreigner. He went through his acts with wonderful readiness and with slight effort, and, while apparently enjoying keenly the exhilaration of applause, he showed no trace of the blasé bearing of the old stager. In nearly every act that followed he took a prominent part. On the trapeze, somersaulting over horses placed side by side, grouping with his so-called brother and a small lad, he did his full share of the work, and when the programme was ended he came among the audience to sell photographs while the lottery was being drawn.

As usual during the carnival, there was a lottery arranged by the manager of the circus, and every ticket had a number which entitled the holder to a chance in the prizes. When the young gymnast came in turn to me, radiant in his salmon fleshings and blue trunks, with slippers and bows to match, I could not help asking him if he was an Italian.

"No, signor, Magyar!" he replied, and I shortly found that his knowledge of Italian was limited to a dozen words. I occupied him by selecting some photographs, and, much to his surprise, spoke to him in his native tongue. When he learned I had been in Hungary he was greatly pleased, and the impatience of other customers for the photographs was the only thing that prevented him from becoming communicative immediately. As he left me I slipped into his hand my lottery-ticket, with the remark that I never had any luck, and hoped he would.

The numbers were, meanwhile, rapidly drawn, the prizes being arranged in the order of their value, each ticket taken from the hat denoting a prize, until all were distributed. "Number twenty-eight—a pair of elegant vases!" "Number sixteen—three bottles of vermouth!" "Number one hundred and eighty-four—candlesticks and two bottles of vermouth!" "Number four hundred and ten—three bottles of vermouth and a set of jewelry!" "Number three hundred and nineteen—five bottles of vermouth!" and so on, with more bottles of vermouth than anything else. Indeed, each prize had to be floated on a few litres of the Turin specialty, and I began to think that perhaps it would have been better, after all, not to have given my circus friend the ticket, if he were to draw drink with it.

Many prizes were called out, and at last only two numbers remained. The excitement was now intense, and it did not diminish when the conductor of the lottery announced that the last two numbers would draw the two great prizes of the evening, namely: An order on a Turin tailor for a suit of clothes, and an order on a jeweller for a gold watch and chain. The first of these two last numbers was taken out of the hat.

"Number twenty-five—order for a suit of clothes!" was the announcement.

Twenty-five had been the number of my ticket. I did not hear the last number drawn, for the Hungarian was in front of my seat trying to press the order on me, and protesting against appropriating my good luck. I wrote my name on the programme for him, with the simple address, U.S.A., persuaded him to accept the windfall, and went home. The next morning I left town.

On the occasion of our mutual recognition in Paris, the circus boy began to relate, as soon as the first flush of his surprise was over, the story of his life since the incident in Turin. He had been to New York and Boston, and all the large sea-coast towns; to Chicago, St. Louis, and even to San Francisco; always with a circus company. Whenever he had had an opportunity in the United States, he had asked for news of me.

"The United States is so large!" he said, with a sigh. "Every one told me that, when I showed the Turin programme with your name on it."

The reason why he had kept the programme and tried to find me in America was because the lottery ticket had been the direct means of his emigration, and, in fact, the first piece of good fortune that had befallen him since he left his native town. When he joined the circus he was an apprentice, and beside a certain number of hours of gymnastic practice daily and service in the ring both afternoon and evening, he had half a dozen horses to care for, his part of the tent to pack up and load, and the team to drive to the next stopping-place. For sixteen and often eighteen hours of hard work he received only his food and his performing clothes. When he was counted as one of the troupe his duties were lightened, but he got only enough money to pay his way with difficulty. Without a lira ahead, and with no clothes but his rough working-suit and his performing costume, he could not hope to escape from this sort of bondage. The luck of number twenty-five had put him on his feet.

"All Hungarians worship America," he said, "and when I saw that you were an American I knew that my good fortune had begun in earnest. Of course I believed America to be the land of plenty, and there could have been no stronger proof of this than the generosity with which you, the first American I had ever seen, gave me, a perfect stranger, such a valuable prize. When I remembered the number of the ticket and the letter in the alphabet, Y, to which this number corresponds, I was dazed at the significance of the omen, and resolved at once to seek my fortune in the United States. I sold the order on the tailor for money enough to buy a suit of ready-made clothes and pay my fare to Genoa. From this port I worked my passage to Gibraltar, and thence, after performing a few weeks in a small English circus, I went to New York in a fruit-vessel. As long as I was in America everything prospered with me. I made a great deal of money, and spent a great deal. After a couple of years I went to London with a company, and there lost my pay and my position by the failure of the manager. In England my good luck all left me. Circus people are too plenty there; everybody is an artist. I could scarcely get anything to do in my line, so I drifted over to Paris."

We prolonged our stroll for an hour, for although I did not anticipate any pleasure or profit from continuing the acquaintance, there was yet a certain attraction in his simplicity of manner and in his naïve faith in the value of my influence on his fortunes. Before we parted he expressed again his ability to get me something to do, but I did not credit his statement enough to correct the impression that I was in need of employment. At his earnest solicitation I gave him my address, concealing, as well as I could, my reluctance to encourage an acquaintance which could not result in anything but annoyance.

One day passed, and two, and on the third morning the porter showed him to my room.

"I have found you work!" he cried, in the first breath.

Sure enough, he had been to a Polish acquaintance who knew a countryman, a copyist in the Louvre. This copyist had a superabundance of orders, and was glad to get some one to help him finish them in haste. My gymnast was so much elated over his success at finding occupation for me that I hadn't the heart to tell him that I was at leisure only while hunting a studio. I therefore promised to go with him to the Louvre some day, but I always found an excuse for not going.

For two or three weeks we met at intervals. At various times, thinking he was in want, I pressed him to accept the loan of a few francs, but he always stoutly refused. We went together to his lodging-house, where the landlady, an English-woman, who boarded most of the circus people, spoke of her "poor dear Mr. Nodge," as she called him, in quite a maternal way, and assured me that he had wanted for nothing, and should not so long as his wound disabled him. In the course of a few days I had gathered from him a complete history of his circus-life, which was full of adventure and hardship. He was, as I had thought then, somewhat of a novice in the circus business at the time we met in Turin, having left his home less than two years before. He had indeed been associated as a regular member of the company only a few months, after having served a difficult and wearing apprenticeship. He was born in Koloszvar, where his father was a professor in the university, and there he grew up with three brothers and a sister, in a comfortable home. He always had had a great desire to see travel, and from early childhood developed a special fondness for gymnastic feats. The thought of a circus made him fairly wild. On rare occasions a travelling show visited this Transylvanian town, and his parents with difficulty restrained him from following the circus away. At last, in 1873, one show, more complete and more brilliant than any one before seen there, came in on the newly opened railway, and he, now a man, went away with it, unable longer to restrain his passion for the profession. Always accustomed to horses, and already a skilful acrobat, he was immediately accepted by the manager as an apprentice, and after a season in Roumania and a disastrous trip through Southern Austria, they came into Northern Italy, where I met him.

Whenever he spoke of his early life he always became quiet and depressed, and for a long time I believed that he brooded over his mistake in exchanging a happy home for the vicissitudes of Bohemia. It came out slowly, however, that he was haunted by a superstition, a strange and ingenious one, which was yet not without a certain show of reason for its existence. Little by little I learned the following facts about it: His father was of pure Szeklar or original Hungarian stock, as dark-skinned as a Hindoo, and his mother was from one of the families of Western Hungary, with probably some Saxon blood in her veins. His three brothers were dark like his father, but he and his sister were blondes. He was born with a peculiar red mark on his right shoulder, directly over the scapular. This mark was shaped like a forked stick. His father had received a wound in the insurrection of '48, a few months before the birth of him, the youngest son, and this birth-mark reproduced the shape of the father's scar. Among Hungarians his father passed for a very learned man. He spoke fluently German, French, and Latin (the language used by Hungarians in common communication with other nationalities), and took great pains to give his children an acquaintance with each of these tongues. Their earliest playthings were French alphabet-blocks, and the set which served as toys and tasks for each of the elder brothers came at last to him as his legacy. The letters were formed by the human figure in different attitudes, and each block had a little couplet below the picture, beginning with the letter on the block. The Y represented a gymnast hanging by his hands to a trapeze, and being a letter which does not occur in the Hungarian language except in combinations, excited most the interest and imagination of the youngsters. Thousands of times did they practise the grouping of the figures on the blocks, and the Y always served as a model for trapeze exercises. My friend, on account of his birth-mark, which resembled a rude Y, was early dubbed by his brothers with the nick-name Yatil, this being the first words of the French couplet printed below the picture. Learning the French by heart, they believed the Y a-t-il to be one word, and with boyish fondness for nick-names saddled the youngest with this. It is easy to understand how the shape of this letter, borne on his body in an indelible mark, and brought to his mind every moment of the day, came to seem in some way connected with his life. As he grew up in this belief he became more and more superstitious about the letter and about everything in the remotest way connected with it.

The first great event of his life was joining the circus, and to this the letter Y more or less directly! led him. He left home on his twenty-fifth birth-day, and twenty five was the number of the letter Y in the block-alphabet.

The second great event of his life was the Turin lottery, and the number of the lucky ticket was twenty-five. "The last sign given me," he said, "was the accident in the circus here." As he spoke he rolled up the right leg of his trowsers, and there, on the outside of the calf, about midway between the knee and ankle, was a red scar forked like the letter Y.

From the time he confided his superstition to me he sought me more than ever. I must confess to feeling, at each visit of his, a little constrained and unnatural. He seemed to lean on me as a protector, and to be hungry all the time for an intimate sympathy I could never give him. Although I shared his secret, I could not lighten the burden of his superstition. His wound had entirely healed, but as his leg was still weak and he still continued to limp a little, he could not resume his place in the circus. Between brooding over his superstition and worrying about his accident, he grew very despondent. The climax of his hopelessness was reached when the doctor told him at last that he would never be able to vault again. The fracture had been a severe one, the bone having protruded through the skin. The broken parts had knitted with great difficulty, and the leg would never be as firm and as elastic as before. Besides, the fracture had slightly shortened the lower leg. His circus career was therefore ended, and he attributed his misfortune to the ill-omened letter Y.

Just about the time of his greatest despondency war was declared between Russia and Turkey. The Turkish embassadors were drumming up recruits all over Western Europe. News came to the circus boarding-house that good riders were wanted for the Turkish mounted gensdarmes. Nagy resolved to enlist, and we went together to the Turkish embassy. He was enrolled after only a superficial examination, and was directed to present himself on the following day to embark for Constantinople. He begged me to go with him to the rendezvous, and there I bade him adieu. As I was shaking his hand he showed me the certificate given him by the Turkish embassador. It bore the date of May 25, and at the bottom was a signature in Turkish characters, which could be readily distorted by the imagination into a rude and scrawling Y.

A series of events occurring immediately after Nagy left for Constantinople resulted in my own unexpected departure in a civil capacity for the seat of war in the Russian lines. The line of curious coincidences in the experience of the circus-rider had impressed me very much at the time, but in the excitement of the Turkish campaign I entirely forgot the circumstance. I do not, indeed, recall any thought of Nagy during the first five months in the field. The day after the fall of Plevna I rode through the deserted earthworks toward the town. The dead were lying where they had fallen in the dramatic and useless sortie of the day before. The dead on a battle-field always excite fresh interest, no matter if the spectacle be an every-day one, and as I rode slowly along I studied the attitudes of the fallen bodies, speculating on the relation between the death-poses and the last impulse that had animated the living frame. Behind a rude barricade of wagons and household goods, part of the train of non-combatants which Osman Pasha had ordered to accompany the army in the sortie, a great number of dead lay in confusion. The peculiar position of one of these instantly attracted my eye. He had fallen on his face against the barricade, with both arms stretched above his head, evidently killed instantly. The figure on the alphabet-block, described by the circus-rider, came immediately to my mind. My heart beat as I dismounted and looked at the dead man's face. It was a genuine Turk.

This incident revived my interest in the life of the circus-rider, and gave me an impulse to look among the prisoners to see if by chance he might be with them. I spent a couple of days in distributing tobacco and bread in the hospitals and among the thirty thousand wretches herded shelterless in the snow. There were some of the mounted gensdarmes among them, and I even found several Hungarians; but none of them had ever heard of the circus-rider.

The passage of the Balkans was a campaign full of excitement, and was accompanied by so much hardship that selfishness got entirely the upper hand of me, and life became a battle for physical comfort. After the passage of the mountain range we went ahead so fast that I had little opportunity, even if I had the enterprise, to look among the few prisoners for the circus-rider.

Time passed, and we were at the end of a three days' fight near Philippopolis, in the middle of January. Suleiman Pasha's army, defeated, disorganized, and at last disbanded, though to that day still unconquered, had finished the tragic act of its last campaign with the heroic stand made in the foothills of the Rhodope Mountains, near Stanimaka, south of Philippopolis. A long month in the terrible cold, on the summits of the Balkan range; the forced retreat through the snow after the battle of Taskosen; the neck-and-neck race with the Russians down the valley of the Maritza; finally, the hot little battle on the river-bank, and the two days of hand-to-hand struggle in the vine-yard of Stanimaka—this was a campaign to break the constitution of any soldier. Days without food, nights without shelter from the mountain blasts, always marching and always fighting, supplies and baggage lost, ammunition and artillery gone—human nature could hold out no longer, and the Turkish army dissolved away into the defiles of the Rhodopes. Unfortunately for her, Turkey has no literature to chronicle, no art to perpetuate the heroism of her defenders.

The incidents of that short campaign are too full of horror to be related. Not only did the demon of war devour strong men, but found dainty morsels for its bloody maw in innocent women and children. Whole families, crazed by the belief that capture was worse than death, fought in the ranks with the soldiers. Women ambushed in coverts shot the Russians as they rummaged the captured trains for much-needed food. Little children, thrown into the snow by the flying parents, died of cold and starvation, or were trampled to death by passing cavalry. Such a useless waste of human life has not been recorded since the indiscriminate massacres of the Middle Ages.

The sight of human suffering soon blunts the sensibilities of any one who lives with it, so that he is at last able to look upon it with no stronger feeling than that of helplessness. Resigned to the inevitable, he is no longer impressed by the woes of the individual. He looks upon the illness, wounds, and death of the soldier as a part of the lot of all combatants, and comes to consider him an insignificant unit of the great mass of men. At last only novelties in horrors will excite his feelings.

I was riding back from the Stanimaka battle-field sufficiently elated at the prospect of a speedy termination of the war—now made certain by the breaking up of Suleiman's army—to forget where I was, and to imagine myself back in my comfortable apartments in Paris. I only awoke from my dream at the station where the highway from Stanimaka crosses the railway line about a mile south of Philippopolis. The great wooden barracks had been used as a hospital for wounded Turks, and as I drew up my horse at the door the last of the lot of four hundred, who had been starving there nearly a week, were being placed upon carts to be transported to the town. The road to Philippopolis was crowded with wounded and refugees. Peasant families struggled along with all their household goods piled upon a single cart. Ammunition wagons and droves of cattle, rushing along against the tide of human beings, toward the distant bivouacs, made the confusion hopeless. Night was fast coming on, and in company with a Cossack, who was, like myself, seeking the headquarters of General Gourko, I made my way through the tangle of men, beasts, and wagons toward the town. It was one of those chill, wet days of winter when there is little comfort away from a blazing fire, and when good shelter for the night is an absolute necessity. The drizzle had drenched my garments, and the snow-mud had soaked my boots. Sharp gusts of piercing wind drove the cold mist along, and as the temperature fell in the late afternoon the slush of the roads began to stiffen, and the fog froze where it gathered. Every motion of the limbs seemed to expose some unprotected part of the body to the cold and wet. No amount of exercise that was possible with stiffened limbs and in wet garments would warm the blood. Leading my horse, I splashed along, holding my arms away from my body, and only moving my benumbed fingers to wipe the chill drip from my face. It was weather to take the courage out of the strongest man, and the sight of the soaked and shivering wounded, packed in the jolting carts or limping through the mud, gave me, hardened as I was, a painful contraction of the heart. The best I could do was to lift upon my worn-out horse one brave young fellow who was hobbling along with a bandaged leg. Followed by the Cossack, whose horse bore a similar burden, I hurried along, hoping to get under cover before dark. At the entrance to the town numerous camp-fires burned in the bivouacs of the refugees, who were huddled together in the shelter of their wagons, trying to warm themselves in the smoke of the wet fuel. I could see the wounded, as they were jolted past in the heavy carts, look longingly at the kettles of boiling maize which made the evening meal of the houseless natives.

Inside the town the wounded and the refugees were still more miserable than those we had passed on the way. Loaded carts blocked the streets. Every house was occupied, and the narrow sidewalks were crowded with Russian soldiers, who looked wretched enough in their dripping overcoats, as they stamped their rag-swathed feet. At the corner, in front of the great Khan, motley groups of Greeks, Bulgarians, and Russians were gathered, listlessly watching the line of hobbling wounded as they turned the corner to find their way among the carts, up the hill to the hospital, near the Konak. By the time I reached the Khan the Cossack who accompanied me had fallen behind in the confusion, and without waiting for him I pushed along, wading in the gutter, dragging my horse by the bridle. Half way up the hill I saw a crowd of natives watching with curiosity two Russian guardsmen and a Turkish prisoner. The latter was evidently exhausted, for he was crouching in the freezing mud of the street. Presently the soldiers shook him roughly and raised him forcibly to his feet, and half supporting him between them they moved slowly along, the Turk balancing on his stiffened legs and swinging from side to side.

A most wretched object he was to look at. He had neither boots nor fez. His feet were bare, and his trowsers were torn off near the knee, and hung in tatters around his mud-splashed legs. An end of the red sash fastened to his waist trailed far behind in the mud. A blue cloth jacket hung loosely from his shoulders, and his hands and wrists dangled from the ragged sleeves. His head rolled around at each movement of the body, and at short intervals the muscles of the neck would rigidly contract. All at once he drew himself up with a shudder and sank down in the mud again.

The guardsmen were themselves near the end of their strength, and their patience was wellnigh finished as well. Rough mountain marching had torn the soles from their boots, and great unsightly wraps of rawhide and rags were bound on their feet. The thin worn overcoats, burned in many places, flapped dismally against their ankles; and their caps, beaten out of shape by many storms, clung drenched to their heads. They were in no condition to help any one to walk, for they could scarcely get on alone. They stood a moment shivering, looked at each other, shook their heads as if discouraged, and proceeded to rouse the Turk by hauling him upon his feet again. The three moved on a few yards, and the prisoner fell again, and the same operation was repeated. All this time I was crowding nearer and nearer, and as I got within a half dozen paces the Turk fell once more, and this time lay at full length in the mud. The guardsmen tried to rouse him by shaking, but in vain. Finally, one of them, losing all patience, pricked him with his bayonet on the lower part of the ribs exposed by the raising of the jacket as he fell. I was now near enough to act, and with a sudden clutch I pulled the guardsman away, whirled him around, and stood in his place. As I was stooping over the Turk he raised himself slowly, doubtless aroused by the pain of the puncture, and turned on me a most beseeching look, which changed at once into something like joy and surprise. Immediately a deathlike pallor spread over his face, and he sank back again with a groan.

By this time quite a crowd of Bulgarians had gathered around us, and seemed to enjoy the sight of a suffering enemy. It was evident that they did not intend to volunteer any assistance, so I helped the wounded Russian down from my saddle, and invited the natives rather sternly to put the Turk in his place. With true Bulgarian spirit they refused to assist a Turk, and it required the argument of the rawhide (nagajka) to bring them to their senses. Three of them, cornered and flogged, lifted the unconscious man and carried him toward the horse, the soldiers, meanwhile believing me to be an officer, standing in the attitude of attention. As the Bulgarians bore the Turk to the horse, a few drops of blood fell to the ground. I noticed then that he had his shirt tied around his left shoulder, under his jacket. Supported in the saddle by two natives on each side, his head falling forward on his breast, the wounded prisoner was carried with all possible tenderness to the Stafford House hospital, near the Konak. As we moved slowly up the hill I looked back, and saw the two guardsmen sitting on the muddy sidewalk, with their guns leaning against their shoulders—too much exhausted to go either way.

I found room for my charge in one of the upper rooms of the hospital, where he was washed and put into a warm bed. His wound proved to be a severe one. A Berdan bullet had passed through the thick part of the left pectoral, out again, and into the head of the humerus. The surgeon said that the arm would have to be operated on, to remove the upper quarter of the bone.

The next morning I went to the hospital to see what had become of the wounded man, for the incident of the previous evening made a deep impression on my mind. As I walked through the corridor I saw a group around a temporary bed in the corner. Some one was evidently about to undergo an operation, for an assistant held at intervals a great cone of linen over a haggard face on the pillow, and a strong smell of chloroform filled the air. As I approached the surgeon turned around, and recognizing me, with a nod and a smile said, "We are at work on your friend." While he was speaking he bared the left shoulder of the wounded man, and I saw the holes made by the bullet as it passed from the pectoral into the upper part of the deltoid. Without waiting longer, the surgeon made a straight cut downward from near the acromion through the thick fibre of the deltoid to the bone. He tried to sever the tendons to slip the head of the humerus from the socket, but failed. He wasted no time in further trial, but made a second incision from the bullet-hole diagonally to the middle of the first cut, and turned the pointed flap thus made up over the shoulder. It was now easy to unjoint the bones, and but a moment's work to saw off the shattered piece, tie the severed arteries, and bring the flap again into its place.

There was no time to pause, for the surgeon began to fear the effects of the chloroform on the patient. We hastened to revive him by every possible means at hand, throwing cold water on him and warming his hands and feet. Although under the influence of chloroform to the degree that he was insensible to pain, he had not been permitted to lose his entire consciousness, and he appeared to be sensible of what we were doing. Nevertheless, he awoke slowly, very slowly, the surgeon meanwhile putting the stitches in the incision. At last he raised his eyelids and made a movement with his lips. With a deliberate movement he surveyed the circle of faces gathered closely around the bed. There was something in his eyes which had an irresistible attraction for me, and I bent forward to await his gaze. As his eyes met mine they changed as if a sudden light had struck them, and the stony stare gave way to a look of intelligence and recognition. Then, through the beard of a season's growth and behind the haggard mask before me, I saw at once the circus-rider of Turin and Paris. I remember being scarcely excited or surprised at the meeting, for a great sense of irresponsibility came over me, and I involuntarily accepted the coincidence as a matter of course. He tried in vain to speak, but held up his right hand, and feebly made with his fingers the sign of the letter which had played such a part in the story of his life. Even at that instant the light left his eyes, and something like a veil seemed drawn over them. With the instinctive energy which possesses every one when there is a chance of saving human life, we redoubled our efforts to restore the patient to consciousness. But while we strove to feed the flame with some of our own vitality, it flickered and went out, leaving the hue of ashes where the rosy tinge of life had been. His heart was paralyzed.

As I turned away, my eye caught the surgeon's incision, which was now plainly visible on the left shoulder. The cut was in the form of the letter Y.