Page:Chertkov - Christian Martyrdom.djvu/63

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52
MILITARY PRISONERS

said, 'Only relatives are allowed to see the prisoners, and that only for a short time, not more than an hour.' And the meeting was under restraint, but still, thank God, we were able to know about their cruel and unmerciful punishments. Their persecutors cut thorny rods, five or six in one bundle. The men were laid down, and on each side of them were placed drunken men, who began to flay them like ferocious wild beasts which tear asunder meek gentle sheep. Each received thirty strokes.[1] After this they were placed in a solitary and cold cell for a day, and the next day they were taken out and guns were given to them, and they were led out for drill. They said, like Christians, 'We cannot fulfil what is against God's commandment.' But, in spite of their answer, they were again beaten and abused. After this drilling came dinner-time for all the prisoners; other prisoners were fed well, but our brethren did not receive even sufficient bread, and yet they were asked, 'Are you satisfied, or do you wish more?' They, in their innocence, said, 'Give us more bread.' But they received instead—blows, such blows that they could hardly stand on their feet."[2]


These tortures were repeated several times and under great physical exhaustion. Of the twelve, three had not the power to remain steadfast. The fortitude they manifested at the beginning of their imprisonment temporarily gave way, and when guns were given to them, they consented to hold them—also, while faint and weak they took meat

 
  1. Others write: "The blood splattered in all directions; the prickles entered into the flesh, and when they were pulled out, bits of flesh fell down."
  2. Being vegetarians they could not take the soup which was given to the other prisoners.—(Ed.)