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The Boy Scouts in Front of Warsaw   By:

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The Boy Scouts in Front of Warsaw

Or In the Wake of War

Boy Scout Series Volume 20

By Colonel George Durston

Chapter I

The Disappearance

It was the fifth of August. Warsaw the brilliant, Warsaw the Beautiful, the best beloved of her adoring people, had fallen. Torn by bombs, wrecked by great shells, devastated by hordes of alien invaders, she lay in ruins.

Her people, despairing, seemed for the greater part to have vanished in the two days since the fatal third of August when the city was taken.

Many of the wealthiest of her citizens had taken refuge in the lower part of the city, leaving their magnificent palaces and residences situated in the newer part to the flood of invading soldiers, who went with unerring directness to the parts containing the greatest comfort and luxury.

Warsaw is built in the midst of a beautiful plain mostly on the left bank of the river Vistula. All the main part of the city lies close to the river, and the streets are so twisted and crooked that it is almost impossible to picture them. They wriggle here and there like snakes of streets. The houses, of course, are very old, and with their heavy barred doors and solid shutters, look very strange and inhospitable.

People, in a way, become like their surroundings. Here in these twisted, narrow streets are to be found the narrow, twisted souls of the worst element in Poland; but the worst of them love their country as perhaps no other people do. To the last man and to the frailest woman, they are loyal to Poland. For them, it is Poland first, last and always.

In these low and twisted streets, the devastation was greatest and the people had scurried like rats to cover. A week before they had swarmed the streets and crowded the buildings. Now by some miracle they had gone, utterly disappeared. The houses were deserted, the streets empty. The destruction had been greatest in these crowded places, but many of the beautiful public buildings and state departments in the new part were also in ruins, as well as a number of matchless palaces.

The people from the upper part of the city who had taken refuge in the holes along the river front, were for the most part a strange appearing lot. Some of them carried great bundles which they guarded with jealous care. Others, empty handed, sat and shivered through the summer night chills that blew from the river. Scores of little children clung to their mother's hands, or wandered trembling and screaming from group to group, seeking their own people.

There was a general gathering of types. Nobles mixed with the poorest, meanest and most criminal classes, and mingled with their common sorrow. For the most part a dumbness, a silence prevailed. The shock of the national disaster had bereft the people of their powers of expression.

Since 1770, Poland had been torn and racked by foes on every hand. Prussia, Austria and Russia envied her wealth, courage, and her fertile plains. Little by little her enemies had pressed across her shrinking borders, wet with the blood of her patriot sons. Little by little she had lost her cherished land until the day of doom August third, 1915.

Sitting, hiding in their desolated city, the people of Poland knew that theirs was a country no longer on the map. Russia, Austria and Prussia at least had met. There was no longer any Poland. For generations there had been no Polish language; it was forbidden by her oppressors. Now the country itself was swallowed up. No longer on the changing map of the world had she any place.

But in the hearts of her people Poland lives. With the most perfect loyalty and love in the world, they say, "We are Poland. We live and die for her."

A gray haze hung over Warsaw. The streets, after the roar of great guns, the bursting of shells, and the cries of thousands of people rushing blindly to safety, seemed silent and deserted. The hated enemy held the town, and the people of Warsaw, most hapless city of all history, cowered beneath the iron hand of the enemy... Continue reading book >>




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