Page:Chertkov - Christian Martyrdom.djvu/62

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the demands of military discipline, whereas not having accepted the military service they could not with a clear conscience conform to this. On the other hand, the prison authorities had not the right to desist from enforcing these demands; and the consequence was that the Spirit-Wrestlers were subjected to an incessant series of punishments, consisting of flogging, confinement in a cold, dark cell on a diet of bread and water, prolongation of their sentence, etc., which converted their imprisonment into a slow martyrdom,—until, in the autumn of '96, there was issued an order from the Government that those who refused the military service upon religious grounds were not to be imprisoned in military places of detention.

We find in letters many allusions to them and the sufferings they have passed through in the battalion. One Spirit-Wrestler from Signak writes, 4th March 1896—

"They are so wasted in body that one can hardly recognise them."

Others from the district of Gory write—

"We visited Lebedeff and comrades who are in the Ekaterinograd penal battalion; beside these there are eleven other men who have been enlisted recently. We saw them by permission of the colonel, who asked us, 'Where are you from, and what did you come here for?' We answered, 'We came from the province of Tiflis to visit our brethren.' He