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The Red Cross Girls with the Russian Army
written by "Vandercook, Margaret, 1876-"
...solation to the country side. These little wooden houses in many places were mere heaps of burnt-out ashes. Others were half burned, or else collapsed, as if they had been houses built by children, who had afterwards kicked them down. Everywhere, from the little homes that were unhurt, as well as from the ruined ones, the peasants were fleeing. With the passing of the first Russian regiment away from Grovno they had guessed what must inevitably follow. There were bent-over old women and men carrying packs on their backs like beasts of burden, and in truth the Russian peasant has been nothing more for many centuries. The children, who ran along beside them, were incredibly thin and dirty and hungry. One member of each little group would carry a lighted pine torch, pointing the way with fitful shadows. But wherever it was possible they followed in the wake of the wagons. At first the night was dark and the American girls could hear their driver muttering [150]strange Russian imprecations as his horses stumbled and felt their way along. Finally Barbara presented him with the electric lamp, which had been Dick Thornton’s farewell present to her on the day of her sailing from New York City. She had used it many times since then, but never for a queerer purpose. However, before they reached the river the moon had risen and both Nona and Barbara were grateful for the added light. Yet the scene they next witnessed was lighted by many camp fires. The Russian infantry, who had been first to begin the retreat from Grovno, had camped on this side the river for a few hours rest. A confused murmur of sounds arose. In little knots before the fires men squatted on their knees in Oriental fashion, waiting for the copper pots to boil. For at all hours of the day and night the Russian drinks tea, now more than ever, since by command of the Czar the soldier is forbidden to touch alcohol. The girls could observe that the men had [151]...

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