chapter  15
20 Pages

A Russian Border Village

OF THE three former capitals of Poland the city of Cracow, the last of Polish territory to lose its independence, is now an Austrian fortress. One day, shortly after my arrival, I was driving in the suburbs of the city when my attention was directed to a number of low, grass-covered mounds scattered about at regular intervals in the level plain outside the city. To all appearances these mounds were nothing more than slight elevations of land sinking, in a direction away from the city, almost imperceptibly into the surrounding landscape. In all probability, if it had not been for a certain regularity in the positions which they occupied, I should not have noticed them. I had never seen a modern fortified city and I was therefore considerably surprised when I learned that these gentle elevations were fortifications and that beneath these grass-grown mounds enormous guns were concealed, powerful enough to keep a vast army at bay. These facts served to remind me 277that Cracow was a border city, guarding a frontier which divides, not merely two European countries, but two civilizations—I might almost say, two worlds. Cracow is, as a matter of fact, ten miles from the Russian frontier, and, although the people in Russian Poland are of the same race or nationality as those who live in the Austrian province of Galicia, speaking the same language and sharing the same traditions, the line which divides them marks the limits of free government in Europe.