Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 60.djvu/452

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traditions of the sect for two hundred years contain tales of self-immolation by burning, drowning, burying, sometimes by hundreds at once, as forms of voluntary death, to escape from persecution or the coercion of the state whose laws they resisted. When the census agents came to the door of the skeet a document in archaic form and language was handed out as the sole reply. It read as follows: "We are Christians. We are not allowed to adopt any new things, and we cannot consent to register our names and places of abode over and over again. Christ takes the place to us of all things; therefore of name and country. Your new institution and your census list would alienate us from Christ, and from true Christian faith, and would lead us to the renunciation of our fatherland, for our fatherland is Christ. Our Lord speaks to us by his Holy Gospel. Our Lord says to His disciples: 'Every one who confesses me before men will I confess before my Father in Heaven, but every one who denies me before men will I deny before my Father in Heaven.' Therefore we answer you briefly but decidedly that we will not deny our Lord Jesus Christ, and that we are not willing to forsake the orthodox faith, or the Holy Synods, or the Apostolic Church. What the Holy Fathers accepted in the Holy Synods that we also accept, but what the Holy Fathers and the Holy Apostles rejected and anathematized that we also reject and anathematize. We can never consent to sin as we should by obeying your new laws. We prefer to die for Christ."

The first interment took place in the night of December 23, in a cellar or subterranean vault adjoining the farmhouse of one member of the sect. A 'mine' was dug to connect it with the cellar of the building. The vault was about 13 feet square and 5½ feet high in the middle. After religious services, those who were to be buried put on the grave clothes of the sect. Nine persons entered the vault, a man of 45, his wife of 40, his daughter aged 13, the wife of Theodore Kovaleff, aged 23, and her two children, one aged three years, the other an infant, a woman of 35, and an old man of 70. The first named man inside and Theodore Kovaleff outside closed the entrance with earth and stones. The buried persons had with them candles, sacred books and sacred image-pictures.

The second burial was made on the night of December 27. About a mile from the place of the first burial there was an excavation which had been made for a house. At one corner of this a horizontal 'bottle-shaped' hole was made by Theodore. Six were entombed here, of whom three were children, seven, four and two years old. One man and his wife disagreed about joining the party. He took their two-year-old daughter and went in. His wife became a mother again immediately afterwards. Another man in this party was a disreputable and