The Rampa Story/Chapter Three

Published in 1960, the only one of Lobsang Rampa's books to have not been renewed.

CHAPTER THREEEdit

The road was dusty and full of holes. As we drove along we passed gangs of women in the charge of an armed overseer, filling up the deepest of the holes with stones and with anything at hand. As we passed, the soldiers with me yelled ribald remarks and made suggestive gestures.

We passed through a populated district and on, on until we came to grim buildings, which must have been a prison. The half-track swept on and into a cobbled courtyard. No one was in sight. The men looked about in consternation. Then, as the driver switched off the engine we became immediately aware of a tremendous clamour, the shouting of men and the fierce barking of dogs. We hurried towards the source of the sound, I with the soldiers. Passing through an open door set in a high stone wall we saw a strong fenced enclosure, which seemed to contain about fifty huge mastiffs.

Quickly a man on the edge of the crowd of soldiers outside the enclosure gabbled out his story. The dogs, with human bloodlust upon them had got out of hand and had killed and devoured two of their keepers. A sudden commotion, and as the crowd shifted and swayed, I saw a third man, clinging high up on the wire fence, lose his grip on the wire and fall among the dogs. There was a horrid scream, a really blood-chilling sound, and then nothing but a snarling mass of dogs.

The corporal turned to me, "Hey, you! You can control dogs." Then, turning to a soldier beside him, "Ask the Comrade Captain to come this way, say we have a man here who can control dogs."

As the soldier hurried off I nearly fainted with fright on the spot. Me? Why always me for the difficulties and dangers? Then as I looked at the dogs I thought, "Why not? These animals are not so fierce as Tibetan mastiffs, and these soldiers smell of fear to the dogs and so the dogs attack."

An arrogant-looking captain strode through the crowd, which parted respectfully before him. Stopping a few feet from me he looked me up and down, and a disdainful sneer passed over his face. "Faugh, corporal," he said haughtily, "What have we here? An ignorant native priest?"

"Comrade Captain," said the corporal, "This man was not attacked by our dogs, Serge bit off the hand of a frontier-crosser and gave it to him. Send him into the enclosure, Comrade Captain."

The captain frowned, shuffled his feet in the dust, and industriously bit his nails. At last he looked up. "Yes, I will do it," he said. "Moscow said that I must not shoot any more dogs, but they did not tell me what to do when the dogs had the blood-lust. This man, if he is killed, well, it was an accident. If he should live, though very unlikely, we will reward him" He turned and paced about, then stood looking at the dogs gnawing at the bones of the three keepers whom they had killed and eaten. Turning to the corporal, he said, "See to it, corporal, and if he succeeds, you are a sergeant." With that he hastened away.

For a time the corporal stood wide-eyed. "Me, a sergeant? Man" he said, turning to me, "You tame the dogs and every man of the Frontier Patrol will be your friend. Get in."

"Comrade corporal," I replied, "I should like the other three dogs to go in with me, they know me and they know these dogs."

"So it shall be," he answered, "Come with me and we will get them."

We turned and went out to the trailer of the half-track. I fondled the three dogs, letting them lick me, letting them put their smell on me. Then, with the three dogs jostling and bounding around me, I went to the barred entrance of the enclosure. Armed guards stood by in case any dog escaped. Quickly the gate was opened a trifle, and I was roughly thrust inside.

Dogs rushed at me from everywhere. The snapping jaws of "my" three discouraged most from coming too close to me, but one huge, ferocious beast, obviously the leader, sprang murderously at my throat. For that I was well prepared, and as I stepped aside I gave him a quick thrust in the throat, a judo (or karate as people now term it) thrust which killed him before he touched the ground. The body was covered with a seething, struggling mass of dogs - allmost before I could jump out of the way. The snarling and snapping noises were hideous.

For a few moments I waited, unarmed, defenceless, thinking only kind and friendly thoughts towards the dogs, telling them by thought that I was not afraid of them, that I was their master. Then they turned, and I had a moment of revulsion as I saw the bare skeleton of what had moments ago been the leader. The dogs turned towards me. I sat upon the ground and willed them to do the same. They crouched before me, in a half-circle, paws outstretched, grinning, tongues lolling lazily, and tails sweeping from side to side.

I stood up, and called Serge to my side. Putting my hand on his head, I said loudly, "From now on, you, Serge, will be leader of all these dogs, and you will obey me and will see that they obey me."

From outside the enclosure came a spontaneous roar of applause. I had forgotten all about the soldiers! As I turned I saw that they were waving their hands in friendship. The captain, his face suffused with excitement, came close to the wire and yelled, "Bring out the bodies of the keepers or their skeletons." Grimly I walked to the first body, a shredded, bloody mass, with the chest bones bare of flesh. I took it by an arm and pulled, but the arm came off at the shoulder. Then I pulled the man by the head, with his entrails dragging along behind. There was a gasp of horror, and I saw that Serge was walking beside me, carrying the man's arm. Laboriously I removed all three bodies, or what was left of them. Then, really exhausted with the strain, I stepped to the gate and was let out.

The captain stood before me. "You stink!" he said. "Get cleaned of the filth of those bodies. You shall remain here for a month looking after the dogs. After a month they return to their patrols and you can go. You shall have the pay of a corporal." He turned to the corporal and said, "As promised, you are now a sergeant as from this moment." He turned and walked away, obviously quite delighted with the whole affair.

The sergeant beamed upon me. "You are a magic-maker! Never will I forget how you killed that dog. Never will I forget the sight of the captain hopping from foot to foot filming the whole affair. You have done a big thing for yourself. Last time we had a dog riot we lost six men and forty dogs. Moscow came down heavy on the captain's neck. Told him what would happen if he lost any more dogs. He will treat you good. You mess-in with us now. We don't ask questions. But come, you stink, as the captain said. Wash off all that filth. I always told Andrei he ate too much and smelled bad, now I have seen him in pieces I know I was right." I was so tired, so exhausted, that even such macabre humour as this did not shock me.

A group of men, corporals, in the mess hall, guffawed loudly and said something to the sergeant. He roared, and hastened over to me. "Haw! Haw! Comrade priest," he bellowed, eyes streaming with mirth. "They say that you have so much of Andrei's inside on your outside that you should have all his possessions now he is dead. He has no relatives. We are going to call you Comrade Corporal Andrei for as long as you are here. All that was his is now yours. And you won me many roubles when I bet on you in the enclosure. You are my friend."

Sergeant Boris was quite a good fellow at heart. Uncouth, rude in manner, and without any pretence of education, he still showed much friendship to me for securing his promotion-"I would have been a corporal all my life else," he said-and for the large number of roubles he had won on me. A number of men had been saying that I had not a chance in the dog enclosure. Boris had heard, and said, "My man is good. You should have seen him when we set the dogs on him. Didn't move. Sat like a statue. The dogs thought he was one of them. He will get that crowd straightened out. You'll see!"

"Bet on it, Boris?" cried one man.

"Take you three months to pay," said Boris. As a direct outcome, he had won about three and a half years' pay and was grateful.

That night, after a very ample supper, for the Border Patrol men lived well, I slept in a warm hut by the side of the dog enclosure. The mattress was well stuffed with dried esparto grass, and the men had obtained new blankets for me. I had every reason to be grateful for the training, which gave me such an understanding of animals' nature.

At first light I was dressed and went to see the dogs. I had been shown where their food was kept, and now I saw that they had a very good feed indeed. They clustered around me, tails awag, and every so often one would rear up and put his paws on my shoulders. At one such time I happened to look around, and there was the captain, outside of the wire of course, looking on. "Ah! Priest," he said, "I merely came to see why the dogs were so quiet. Feeding time was a time of madness and fights, with the keeper standing outside and throwing food in, with the dogs tearing at each other to get their share. I will ask you no questions, Priest. Give me your word to remain here for four to five weeks until the dogs all move out and you can have the run of the place and go to the city when you want to."

"Comrade Captain," I replied, "I will gladly give you my word to remain here until all these dogs leave. Then I will be on my way."

"Another matter, Priest," said the captain. "At the next feeding time I will bring my cine camera and take a film so that the Superiors can see how we keep our dogs in order. Go to the Quartermaster and draw a new corporal's uniform, and if you can find anyone to help you in the enclosure, get them to clean it thoroughly. If they are afraid, do it yourself."

"I will do it myself, Comrade Captain," I replied, "then the dogs will not be upset."

The captain nodded curtly, and marched off, obviously a very happy man that he could now show how he managed the blood-lusting dogs!

For three days I did not move more than a hundred yards from the dog enclosure. These men were "trigger happy" and thought nothing of shooting into the bushes "in case there should be spies hiding" as they put it.

For three days I rested, regaining my strength, and mixing with the men. Getting to know them, getting to know their habits. Andrei had been much the same size as me, so his clothes fitted reasonably well. Everything of his had to be washed and washed again, though, because he had not been noted for cleanliness. Many times the captain approached me, trying to engage me in conversation, but while he seemed genuinely interested and friendly enough, I had to remember my role of a simple priest who merely understood the Buddhist Scriptures-and dogs! He would sneer at religion, saying that there was no afterlife, no God, nothing but Father Stalin. I would quote Scriptures, never exceeding the knowledge that a poor village priest could be expected to have.

At one such discussion, Boris was present, leaning up against the dog compound idly chewing a sliver of grass. "Sergeant," exclaimed the captain in exasperation, "the Priest has never been out of his little village. Take him around and show him the City. Take him on patrol to Artem and to Razdol'noye. Show him life. He only knows about death, thinking that that is life." He spat on the ground, lit a contraband cigarette, and stalked away.

"Yes, come on, Priest, you have stayed with the dogs so long you are beginning to look like them. Though I must admit that you have them well-behaved now. And you did win for me a pile of money. I float on air with it, Priest, and must spend it before I die."

He led the way to a car, got in, and motioned for me to do the same. He started the engine, moved the gear lever, and let in the clutch. Off we went, bouncing on the rutted roads, roaring into the narrow streets of Vladivostok. Down by the harbour there were many ships, almost more ships than I had known existed in the world. "Look, Priest," said Boris, "those ships have captured goods. Goods which were going to be "lend-lease" from the Americans to some other country. They think the Japanese captured them, but we ship the cargoes over The Railway (the Trans-Siberian Railway) back to Moscow where the Party Bosses have what they think is first pick. We have first pick because we have an arrangement with the docks. We turn a blind eye on their doings while they turn a blind eye on ours. Have you ever had a watch, Priest?"

"No;" I replied, "I have owned very little in my life. I know the time by the position of the sun and the shadows."

"You must have a watch, Priest!" Boris speeded up the car and shortly we drew alongside a freighter moored to the dock side. The ship was streaked with red rust and sparkling with dried salt spray. The journey round the Golden Horn had been a hard and rough one. Cranes were swinging their long jibs, unloading the produce from different parts of the world. Men were shouting, gesticulating, manipulating cargo nets, and pulling on hawsers. Boris jumped out, dragging me with him, and rushed madly up the gangplank, still with me in tow.

"We want watches, Cap'n," he bawled at the first man in uniform. "Watches, for the arm."

A man with a more ornate uniform than the others appeared and motioned us to his cabin. "Watches, Cap'n," bawled Boris. "One for him and two for me. You want to come ashore, Cap'n? Good time ashore. Do what you like. Girls, get drunk, we not interfere. We want watches."

The captain smiled, and poured drinks. Boris drank his noisily, and I passed mine to him. "He no drink, Cap'n, he a Priest turned dog watcher, good dog watcher, too, good fellow," said Boris.

The captain went to a space beneath his bunk and drew out a box. Opening it, he displayed perhaps a dozen wrist watches. Almost quicker than the eye could see, Boris picked two gold ones, and without bothering to wind them, slipped one on each arm.

"Take a watch, Priest," commanded Boris.

I reached out and took a chromium one. "This is a better one, Priest," said the Captain. "This is a stainless steel, waterproof Omega, a far better watch"

"Thank you, Captain," I replied, "If you have no objection, I will have the one of your choice."

"Now I know you are crazed, Priest," said Boris, "a steel watch when you can have gold?"

I laughed and replied, "Steel is good enough for me, you are a sergeant, but I am only a very temporary corporal."

From the ship we went to the Trans-Siberian Railroad sidings. Work gangs were busily loading the trucks with the choicest goods from the ships. From here the trucks would leave for Moscow, some six thousand miles away. As we stood there, one train moved out. Two engines pulling a vast array of railroad cars, each engine with five wheels on each side. Giant things which were well kept and which were regarded almost as living creatures by the train crew.

Boris drove along beside the tracks. Guards were everywhere, from pits in the ground armed men scanned the undersides of the passing trains, looking for stowaways.

"You seem to be very afraid of anyone illegally riding the trains," I said, "this is a thing which I do not understand. What harm could it do to allow people to take a ride?"

"Priest," sadly replied Boris, "you have no knowledge of Life, just as the captain said. Enemies of the Party, saboteurs, and capitalist spies would try to steal into our cities. No honest Russian would want to travel unless so directed by his Commissar."

"But are there many trying to take rides? What do you do with them when you see them?"

"Do with them. Why, shoot them, of course! Not many stowaways just here, but tomorrow I am going to Artem and I will take you. There you will see how we deal with such subversive elements. The train crews, when they catch one, tie his hands, slip a rope round his neck, and throw him off. Makes a mess of the track, though, and encourages the wolves". Boris slumped in the driving seat, his eyes scanning the packed railroad cars trundling along. As if electrified, he sat bolt upright and jabbed the accelerator right down. The car leaped ahead and raced past the head of the train. Slamming on the brakes, Boris jumped out, grabbed his sub-machine-gun, and hid by the side of the car. Slowly the train rumbled by. I caught a glimpse of someone riding between two railroad coaches, and then there was the stuttering stammer of the sub-machine-gun. The body tumbled to the ground between the tracks. "Got him!" said Boris triumphantly, as he carefully cut another nick in the stock of his gun. "That makes fifty-three, Priest, fifty-three enemies of the State accounted for."

I turned away, sick at heart, and afraid to show it, for Boris would have shot me as easily as he had shot that man if he had known that I was not the village priest.

The train passed on, and Boris walked to the riddled, bleeding body. Turning it over with his foot he looked at the face, and said, "I recognize this as a railroad worker. He should not have been riding. Perhaps I should blow off his face so there will be no difficult questions." So saying, he put the muzzle of the gun near the face of the dead man and pulled the trigger. Leaving the now headless corpse, he returned to the car and we drove away.

"I have never been on a train, Boris," I said.

"Well," he replied, "tomorrow we will go to Artem by goods train and you can look around. I have some good friends there I want to meet now that I am a sergeant."

For long I had cherished the idea of stowing away aboard some ship and steaming off to America. I mentioned ship-stowaways to Boris.

"Boris," I said, "you spend all your time stopping people at the frontier and making sure there are no stowaways on the trains. Yet all these ships, anyone could walk aboard and stay."

Boris leaned back and roared with laughter. "Priest," he guffawed, "you must be a simpleton! The Water Guards board the ships a mile from the shore and they check all members of the crew. Then they seal all hatches and ventilators, and pour cyanide gas into the holds and other spaces, not forgetting the life-boats. They get a good bag of stiffs from reactionaries who do not know about this."

I felt very sick at the callous manner in which these men treated the whole affair as sport, and I hastily changed my mind about stowing aboard ship!

Here I was in Vladivostok, but I had my allotted task in life, and as the Prophecy had stated, I had to go first to America, then to England, and back to the North American continent. The problem was-how to get out of this part of the world. I determined to find out as much as possible about the Trans-Siberian Railway, where the checks and searches ended, and what happened at the Moscow end.

The next day I exercised and fed the dogs early, and with them well settled, I set out with Boris and three other Guards. We travelled some fifty miles to an outpost where the three Guards were to replace three others. All the way the men were chatting about how many "escapees" they had shot, and I picked up some useful information. I learned the point at which there were no more checks, I learned that if one was careful one could travel to the outskirts of Moscow without being caught.

Money was going to be the problem, that I could see. I made money by stariding duty for other men, by treating their ills, and through the good offices of some of them, treating wealthy Party members in the city itself. Like others, I arranged to visit ships, and took my share of the spoils of new train loads. All my "bounty" was turned into roubles. I was preparing to cross Russia.

Nearly five weeks later the captain told me that the dogs were now going back to their patrol stations. A new Commissar was coming, and I must leave before he arrived. Where was I going? he asked. Knowing my man by now, I replied, "I will remain in Vladivostok, Comrade Captain. I like it here."

His face grew apprehensive. "You must leave, get right out of the district. Tomorrow."

"But Comrade Captain, I have nowhere to go, and no money," I answered.

"You shall be given roubles, food, clothing, and taken out of this district."

"Comrade Captain," I reiterated, "I have nowhere to go. I have worked hard here, and I want to stay in Vladivostok."

The captain was adamant "Tomorrow we send men to the very limit of our area, to the boundary of Voroshilov. You shall be taken there and left. I will give you a letter saying that you have helped us and you have gone there with our permission. Then the Voroshilov Police will not arrest you."

This was far better than I had hoped. I wanted to get to Voroshilov, because that was where I intended to board the train. I knew that if I could get to the other side of that city I should be fairly safe.

The next day, with a number of other men, I climbed aboard a fast troop-carrier and we roared up the road on the way to Voroshilov. This time I was wearing a good suit of clothes, and had a large rucksack stuffed with belongings. I also had a shoulder bag full of food. It gave me not a qualm to remember that the clothes I wore had been taken from a dead ship-jumper.

"Don't know where you are going, Priest," said Boris, "but the captain has said that he trained those dogs, so you had to leave. You can sleep at the outpost tonight, and be on your way in the morning."

That night I was unsettled. I was sick and tired of roaming from place to place. Sick and tired of living with Death nudging my elbow. It was utterly lonely living with these people who were so alien, so absolutely opposed to my peaceful way of living.

In the morning, after a good breakfast, I said good-bye to Boris and the others, shouldered my load, and set off. Mile after mile I covered, avoiding the main road, trying to circle Voroshilov. There was the roar of a speeding car behind me, the squeal of hastily-applied brakes and I found myself looking down the muzzle of a sub-machine-gun.

"Who are you? Where are you going?" snarled a scowling corporal.

"I am on my way to Voroshilov," I replied. "I have a letter here from Comrade Captain Vassily."

Snatching the letter from me, he tore it open, frowning in the concentration of reading. Then his face broke into a broad grin. "We have just come from Sergeant Boris," he said. "Get in, we will drive you to Voroshilov and let you off where you say."

This was a nuisance, I was trying to avoid the city! But I climbed into the patrol car and was speedily driven to Voroshilov. I alighted near the Police Headquarters, and as the car shot off into the garage, I walked smartly along, trying to cover as many miles as possible before nightfall. I planned to camp out near the Railroad and observe what happened for a night and day before climbing aboard.

Passenger trains were stopped and checked at Voroshilov, but the goods trains stopped just outside, possibly so that the local people should not see how many stowaways were killed. I watched and watched, and decided that my only hope was to get on a train just as it was pulling out.

On the night of the second day a very desirable train stopped. A train which my experience told me had many "lend-lease" cargoes aboard. This was not one to be missed, I thought, as I eased myself along the tracks, peering under, testing locked doors, opening those which were not locked. Every now and then a shot rang out, followed by the thud of a falling body. Dogs were not used here for fear that they would be killed by the wheels. I rolled in the dust, making myself as dirty as possible.

The guards came by, peering at the train, shouting to each other, flashing powerfull lamps. No one thought to look behind the train, and the train only engaged their attention. I, prone on the ground behind them, thought, "my dogs would be far more efficient than this. Dogs would soon have found me!"

The men, satisfied with their search, strolled off. I rolled sideways to the track and darted between the wheels of a railroad car. Quickly I climbed on to an axle and hitched a rope I had ready to a projecting lug. Fastening it to the other side, I drew myself up and tied myself to the bottom of the railroad car floor-in the only position, which would escape scrutiny. This I had planned for a month. The train started with a jerk which nearly dislodged me, and as I anticipated, a jeep with a spotlight came racing alongside, with armed guards peering at the axle-bars. I drew myself tighter to the floor, feeling as a naked man would before a convention of nuns! The jeep raced on, turned and came back, and passed out of my sight and life. The train rumbled on. For five or six miles I held grimly to my painful position, then convinced that the danger was over, I slowly eased myself out from the rope and managed to balance on one of the covers of the axles.

For a time I rested as best I could, getting feeling back into my cramped and aching limbs. Then slowly, cautiously, I edged myself along to the end of the railroad car and managed to grasp an iron bar. For perhaps half an hour I sat on the couplings, then drawing myself up on that swaying platform, I crept blindly around the end and on to the roof. It was quite dark now, except for the starlight. The moon had not yet risen, and I knew that I had to work fast to get inside a wagon before any prowling trainman saw me in the Siberian moonlight. On the roof I tied an end of the rope around me, passed the other end around the roof-rail, and slid cautiously down over the side, paying out the rope I held. Bumping and scraping along the rough edges, I soon managed to unlock the door with a key which I had obtained in Vladivostok for the purpose - one key fitted all the train locks. It proved to be fantastically difficult to slide the door open as I swung like a pendulum, but light of the first rays of the bright moon gave me that extra impetus, the door slid open and I crawled exhaustedly inside. Relinquishing the free end of the rope, I jerked and pulled until the whole length was in my hands. Shaking with utter exhaustion, I slid the door shut and dropped to the floor.

Two or three days later-one loses all count of time under such conditions-I felt the train slowing. Hurrying to the door, I opened it a crack and peered out. There was nothing to be seen except snow, so I rushed to the other side. Train guards were running along after a group of refugees. Obviously a big search was under way. Picking up my belongings, I dropped over the side and into the snow. Dodging and twisting between the wheels of the trucks I managed to completely confuse my snow-trail. While I was still at it, the train started to move, and I grabbed desperately at the nearest icy coupling. By great good fortune I managed to get my arms around one, and I hung there, feet dangling, until a sudden jolt enabled me to get my legs up as well.

Standing up, I found that I was at the end of a truck which was covered with a stiff, frozen tarpaulin. The knots were solid ice, the heavy canvas was like sheet iron. I stood upon the swaying, ice-covered couplings battling with the icy knots. I breathed upon them, hoping that they would soften, but my breath froze and made the ice thicker. I dragged the rope backwards and forwards against the metal of the truck side. Darkness was falling when the last frayed strand parted, and I was able, with immense effort, to prise up an edge of the canvas and crawl inside. Inside, as I fell to the floor, a man jumped at me, flailing a piece of sharp steel at my throat. Instinct and habit came to my rescue, and the man was soon nursing a broken arm and moaning. Two other men came at me, one with an iron bar and one with a broken jagged bottle. To one with my training, they presented no real problem, and they were soon disarmed. Here was the law of the jungle, the strongest man was king! Now that I had beaten them, they were my servants.

The wagon was full of grain which we ate just as it was. For drink we collected snow or sucked ice, which we broke from the tarpaulin. We could get no warmth, for there was nothing to burn, and the train crew would have seen the smoke. I could manage with the cold, but the man with the broken arm froze solid one night and we had to dump him over the side.

Siberia is not all snow, parts of it are mountainous, like the Canadian Rockies, and other parts are as green as Ireland. Now, though, we were troubled with snow, for this was the worst season in which to be travelling.

We found that the grain disturbed us badly, it caused us to swell up, and gave us severe dysentery, weakening us so much that we hardly cared whether we lived or died. At last the dysentery abated, and we suffered the sharp pangs of starvation. I lowered myself over the side with my rope and scraped the grease from the axle boxes. We ate that, retching horribly in the process.

The train rumbled on. Around the end of Lake Baykal, on to Omsk. Here, as I knew, it would be shunted and re-assembled, I should have to leave before reaching the city, and jump aboard another train which had been remade. There is no point in detailing all the trials and tribulations of the change of trains, but I, in company with a Russian and a Chinaman, managed to board a fast freight train to Moscow.

The train was in good condition. My carefully-preserved key opened a wagon and we clambered inside, hidden by the darkness of a moonless night. The wagon was very full, and we had to force our way in. There was no glimmer of light and we had no idea of the contents. A pleasant surprise awaited us in the morning. We were starving, and I saw that one corner of the wagon was stacked with Red Cross parcels which had apparently not reached their destination, but had been "liberated" by the Russians. Now we lived well. Chocolate, canned foods, canned milk, everything. We even found in a parcel a little stove with a supply of solid, smokeless fuel.

Investigating the bales, we found them to be full of clothing and articles which could have been looted from Shanghai stores. Cameras, binoculars, watches. We fitted ourselves out in good clothes, for ours were in a shocking state. Our greatest need was for water. We had to depend upon snow which we could scrape off ledges.

Four weeks and six thousand miles after I left Vladivostok, the train was approaching Noginsk, some thirty or forty miles from Moscow. The three of us held a discussion and decided that as the train crews were becoming active-we heard them walking across our roofs-we would be wise to leave. Very carefully we inspected each other to make sure that there was nothing suspicious about us, then we picked a very good supply of food and "treasures" with which to barter. The Chinaman went first, and as we slid the door shut after him, I heard rifle fire. Three or hours later the Russian dropped off, fellowed by me after a half-hour interval.

I plodded along in the dark, quite sure of my way, for the Russian, a native of Moscow who had been exiled in Siberia, had carefully coached us. By morning I had covered a good twenty miles, and my legs, so badly battered in prison camps, were troubling me greatly.

In an eating place I showed my papers as a corporal in the Frontier Guards. These were Andrel's; I had been told that I could have all his belongings, and no one had thought of adding "except his official papers and Identity Card". The waitress looked doubtful, and called a policeman who was standing outside. He came in and there was much discussion. No, I had no food ration card, I had inadvertently left it in Vladivostok, food regulations were not enforced for the Guards at Vladivostok. The policeman fiddled with my papers, and then said, "You will have to eat on the Black Market until you can get to the Food Bureau and obtain another Card. They will have to get in touch with Vladivostok first." With that he turned and walked away.

The waitress shrugged her shoulders. "Have what you like, Comrade, it will cost you five times the official price." She brought me some sour, black bread and some awful-looking and worse-tasting paste. She misunderstood my signs for "drink" and brought me some stuff, which almost made me pass out on the spot. One sip of it, and I thought I had been poisoned. One sip was enough, but the waitress even charged me for water while she slurped up the vile brew for which I had paid so much.

As I left the policeman was waiting. He fell into step as I walked along. "This is very irregular, Comrade, walking with a pack on your back. I wonder if I should not take you to the Station for interrogation. Have you a spare watch on you, Comrade, to make me forget my duty?"

Silently I fumbled in my pocket, and then I produced one of the watches I had taken from the train. The police-man took it, glanced at it, and said, "Moscow-straght ahead. Avoid the main thoroughfare and you will be all right." Then he turned and walked away.

I plodded along the side roads, keeping a good look-out for policemen who might demand watches. It seemed to me, from my own experience, that Russians had a simply dreadful craving for watches. Many of them could not tell the time, but the mere fact of having a watch seemed to satisfy them in some strange manner. An emaciated man tottering ahead of me suddenly swayed and fell on to his face in the gutter at the side of the road. Passers-by did not even glance at him, but went on their way. I made as if to go to him when an old man just behind me muttered, "Careful, Comrade stranger, if you go to him the police will think you are looting. He is dead anyway. Starvation. It happens to hundreds here every day."

Nodding my thanks, I walked straight on. "This is a terrible place," I thought, "with every man's hand against his fellows. It must be because they have no religion to guide them."

That night I slept behind the crumbling wall of a derelict Church. Slept, with about three hundred others for company. My rucksack was my pillow, and during the night I felt stealthy hands trying to unfasten the straps. A quick blow to the would-be thief's throat sent him gasping and reeling backwards, and I was not troubled again.

In the morning I bought food on the Government Black Market, for in Russia the Government runs the Black Market, and then continued on my way. The Russian on the train had told me to pose as a tourist and to hang a camera (taken from the train) around my neck. I had no film, and in those days hardly knew one side of the camera from the other.

Soon I found myself in the better part of Moscow, the part that the ordinary tourist sees, for the ordinary tourist does not see "behind the scenes", - the misery, poverty and death which exists in the slum side streets. The Moscow River was before me, and I walked along its banks for a time before turning up into Red Square. The Kremlin, and the Tomb of Lenin impressed me not at all. I was used to the grandeur and sparkling beauty of the Potala. Near an entrance to the Kremlin a small group of people waited, apathetic, slovenly, looking as if they had been driven there like cattle. With a "swoosh" three huge black cars rushed out, across the Square, and disappeared into the obscurity of the streets. As people were looking dully in my direction, I half-raised the camera. Suddenly I felt a terrific pain shoot through my head. For a moment I thought that a building had fallen on me. I fell to the ground, and the camera was smashed from my hands.

Towering Soviet guards stood over me; one of them was methodically and unemotionally kicking me in the ribs in order to make me rise to my feet. Half stunned as I was, it was difficult for me to rise, so two policemen reached down and roughly dragged me to my feet. They fired questions at me, but they spoke so rapidly and in such a "Moscow accent" that I understood not a word. At last, tired of asking questions and getting no reply, they marched me off along Red Square, a policeman on each side, and one behind me with a huge revolver poking painfully into my spine.

We stopped at a dismal looking building, and entered by a basement door. I was roughly pushed-shoved would be a better word-down some stone steps and into a small room. An officer was sitting at a table, with two armed guards standing by a wall of the room. The senior policeman in charge of me gabbled out a lengthy explanation to the officer, and placed my rucksack on the floor beside him. The officer wrote what was obviously a receipt for me and for my belongings, and then the policemen turned and left.

I was roughly pushed into another room, a very large one, and left standing before an immense desk, with an armed guard on each side of me. Some time later, three men came in and seated themselves at the desk and went through the contents of my rucksack. One rang for an attendant, and, when he entered, gave him my camera, giving him brusque instructions. The man turned, and went off, carefully carrying that inoffensive camera as if it were a bomb about to explode.

They kept on asking me questions, which I could not understand. At last, they called an interpreter, then another, and another until they found one who could converse with me. I was stripped of my clothes and examined by a doctor. All the seams of my clothing were examined, and some of them were ripped open. At last my clothes were flung at me, less buttons, less belt and shoe laces. At a command the guards hustled me out of the room, carrying my clothes, and marched me along corridor after corridor. They made no sound, felt slippers were on their feet, nor did they speak to each other or to me. As we marched silently along, a really blood-curdling scream rose and fell quaveringly on the still air. I involuntarily slowed down, but the guard behind me jumped at my shoulder with such force that I thought he had broken my neck.

At last we stopped at a red door. A guard unlocked it, and I was pushed in to fall headlong down three stone steps. The cell was dark and very damp. It was about six feet by twelve feet, with a foul and stinking mattress on the floor. For a quite unknown time I stayed there in the dark-ness, becoming hungrier and hungrier, wondering why mankind had such a savage nature.

After a very long interval, a hunk of sour black bread and a small jug of brackish water was passed in. The silent guard motioned for me to drink the water then. I took a gulp, and he snatched the jug from my lips, poured the water on the floor, and went out. The door closed silently. There was no sound except occasional hideous screams, which were quickly and violently suppressed. Time crawled on. I nibbled at the sour black bread. I was hungry and thought that I could have eaten anything, but this bread was terrible; it stank as if it had been dragged through a cesspool.

A long time after, so long that I feared I was quite forgotten, armed guards came silently to my cell. Not a word was spoken; they gestured for me to go with them. Having no choice, I did so, and we tramped through endless corridors, giving me the impression that we were retracing our steps time after time in order to build up a suspense. At last I was marched into a long room which had a brightly painted white wall at one end. Roughly the guards manacled my arms behind me, and turned me to face the white wall. For long moments nothing happened, then very powerful, utterly dazzling lights were switched on so as to reflect from the white wall. It felt as if my eyeballs were being scorched even with my eyes shut. The guards wore dark glasses. The light beat down in waves. The sensation was as if needles were being pushed into my eyes.

A door softly opened and shut. The scrape of chairs and the rustle of papers. A low-voiced muttered conversation which I did not understand. Then-the blow of a rifle-butt between my shoulders, and the questioning began. Why had I a camera which had no flim in it? Why had I the papers of a Frontier Guard stationed at Vladivostok. How? Why? When? Hour after hour the same stupid questions. The light blazed on, giving me a splitting headache. A blow from a gun-butt if I refused to answer. The only respite was for a few moments every two hours when the guards and questioners were replaced by fresh ones; for the guards too became exhausted by the bright lights.

After what seemed to be endless hours, but which in reality could not have been more than six, I collapsed on the floor. Guards quite unemotionally began pricking me with their sharpened bayonets. To struggle to my feet with my arms fixed behind me was difficult, but I did it, again and again. When I became unconscious buckets of cesspool water were thrown over me. Hour after hour the questioning went on. My legs began to swell. My ankles became thicker than my thighs as the body fluids drained down and made the flesh waterlogged.

Always the same questions, always the same brutality. Sixty hours of standing. Seventy hours. The world was a red haze now, I was all but dead on my feet. No food, no rest, no respite. Just a drink of some sleep-preventing drug forced into my mouth. Questions. Questions. Questions. Seventy-two hours, and I heard no more, saw no more. The questions, the lights, the pain, all faded, and there was blackness.

An unspecified time elapsed, and I regained a pain-filled consciousness, flat on my back on the cold, wet floor of a reeking cell. It was agony to move, my flesh felt soggy and my back felt as if the spine were made of broken glass. No sound there was to show that others were alive, no glimmer of light to mark night from day. Nothing, but an eternity of pain, hunger and thirst. At last there was a chink of light as a guard roughly shoved a plate of food on to the floor. A can of water slopped beside it. The door shut, and again I was alone with my thoughts in the darkness.

Much later the guards came again, and I was dragged-I could not walk-to the Interrogation Room. There I had to sit and write my life history. For five days the same thing happened. I was taken to a room, given a pencil stub and paper and told to write everything about myself. For three weeks I remained in my cell, recovering slowly.

Once again I was taken to a room, where I stood before three high officials. One glanced at the others, looked at a paper in his hands, and told me that certain influential people had testified that I had helped people in Vladivostok. One testified that I had helped his daughter escape from a Japanese Prisoner of War camp.

"You will be released," said the official, "and taken to Stryj, in Poland. We have a detachment of men going there. You will accompany them."

Back to a cell-a better one this time-while my strength was built up enough to enable me to travel. At last I marched through the gate of the Lubianka Prison, Moscow, on my way to the West.