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83

(1897) [MARC] Author: Jonas Jonsson Stadling Translator: Will Reason With: Gerda Tirén, Johan Tirén
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We are so grieved to lose them now that spring is so near.
Help us with a little fodder.”

A little girl is led up to the Count, and in a voice hardly
audible for suppressed tears, whispers “My mother died last
night, and I have nothing for my little brothers and sisters.”

While at breakfast fresh batches of petitioners arrive, among
them some Bashkirs and Tatars from great distances, with
terrible tales of misery and pestilence. “Our own provisions
gave out long ago. The Government help is not enough to keep
us alive. Nearly all our cattle have perished. Our sick ones
and our children are slowly dying of starvation.”

One of the helpers and myself drove to a neighbouring
village to look into the sanitary conditions. First we came to
a row of clay huts, something like the adobe huts in New
Mexico, but much poorer. The snow had drifted above many
of their flat roofs, the location of which could be found by
the smoke from kisjak (fuel of dried manure and straw) that
rose here and there. An opening in the drift let us inside,
and we found that a small window had also been kept clear.
Before our eyes were of use, our ears caught the sound of
heavy breathing and moaning. Then we saw on the oven a
woman of middle age suffering from spotted typhus. To our
questions she gave only incoherent replies. A man of about
the same age, dressed in a shirt of dirty sackcloth, girt round
the waist with a rope, his uncombed hair on his forehead, and
his glassy, sunken eyes fixed in an expression of despair, sat by
the side of the oven, and on a bench lay a little five-year-old
boy in rags, and suffering from hunger and scurvy. Two
wooden benches and a small rough table on the earth floor
were all the furniture they had.

“Have you any cattle?” “No, we had two cows, but had
to kill them.” “Any fuel?” “Only what our neighbours
give us.” “Any food?” The man produced a hard piece of
black rye bread, all that was left of the Government supply.

A second hut contained an old man of seventy, a woman of
forty, dreadfully scored about the face with disease, and two
emaciated children, sick, on top of the oven, slowly perishing of
starvation. The father had been carried off by spotted typhus,

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