Page:Chertkov - Christian Martyrdom.djvu/22

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11
THE SPIRIT-WRESTLERS

The Spirit-Wrestlers had been exiled from a cold mountain climate and settled in the hot Caucasian valleys, where even the natives suffer from fevers; and consequently nearly all the Spirit-Wrestlers are sick, partly because (not having dwellings of their own) they are huddled together in hired quarters; but chiefly because they lack means of subsistence.

Their only earnings are from daily labour among the population amidst whom they have been thrown, and beyond the bounds of whose villages they are not allowed to go. But these earnings are very small, the more so that the native population suffered this year both from a bad harvest and from inundations. Those who are settled near the railway pick up something by working there, and share the wages they get with the rest. But this is only a drop in the ocean of their common want.

The material position of the Spirit-Wrestlers is getting worse and worse every day. The exiles have no other food than bread, and sometimes there is a lack of even this. Already among the majority of them certain eye diseases, which are the sure harbingers of scurvy, have appeared.

In one place of exile situated in the Signak district, 106 deaths occurred among 100 families (about 1000 people) settled there. In the Gory district, 147 deaths occurred among 190 families.