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saw, Kieff, Tiflis, Irkutsk-all had their festering sore. The fall of Port Arthur, the vaunted fortress of the Far East, intensified the spreading waves of popular distrust. Unless victory came quickly, it was certain that the gatherings would come to a head-therefore a supreme effort was made.


Lord Brooke, who, in the matter of military data, seems to be the most reliable of all the correspondents who accepted the hospitality of the Russian Staff, says in his book that "by the 19th of December, exactly two months after the battle of the Sha-ho, 85,000 reservists without impedimenta had been received, and fresh troops were coming from Europe in an endless stream." According to this authority, the Russian army by the middle of December was as strong as it had been before it undertook the battle of the Sha-ho; while a month later the same authority estimated that the force under General Kuropatkin was some 400,000 strong, and had about 2000 guns. All stores had been replenished, and the branch railway lines from Mukden to the Sha-ho were finished. In short, all the arrangements for the battle were complete. Ever since the beginning of January St Petersburg had been urging Kuropatkin to let slip no opportunity which might be turned into a victory. The staff of St Petersburg still clung to the

heresy that the Russian soldier held a superiority over his enemy during a Manchurian winter. They viewed the various indications of unrest with apprehension, little recking the many circumstances of supply and system which governed his actions, and continued to urge Kuropatkin to take the initiative. When, however, the whole country boiled over after the disgraceful tyranny demonstrated on that Sunday in St Petersburg, the authorities were desperate. They ceased to urge the General in the field, but deliberately ordered him at once to save the situation at home, either by the salve of a great victory or the counter-irritant of another desperate disaster.


Just as these demands came the season softened softened a little. A wave of wintry mildness swept across the Manchurian plains. To all intents and purposes Kuropatkin ready. He had only been waiting on the weather. The opportunity had arrived. The Russians were now holding an extremely long front; Kuropatkin's left was thrown back in the hilly country forming the watershed of the Sha-ho, in order to cover Fu-shun from a flank attack. His centre practically followed the line of the Sha-ho as far as the railway. From Lu-sheng-pu the line of the Russian defence curved backwards towards the Hun-ho at Chan-tan-ho-nan. The Russian right rested on the

1 An Eye-Witness in Manchuria. By Lord Brooke, Reuter's Correspondent. London Eveleigh Nash.



plain of the Liau-ho, somewhere railroads, telephones, and all scientific means of inter-communication. To a great extent the Japanese did the same, but they were also careful to prepare a second and even a third line of defence within an easy distance of their front, so that if the great army of brave men which Kuropatkin was concentrating in front of them should, by force of numbers, be able to drive them from the first line, the Russians, spent and halting from the effort which had given them success, would find that no less an effort was required to make good the Japanese second line, and, in sequence, the third. The Russians, too, had prepared against misadventure, but their position was forty miles to the rear of Mukden, and was designed rather to arrest disaster than to form a point d'appui for a violent counter - stroke. This difference in military appreciation was to be demonstrated both at the battle of Hei-koutai and at Mukden.

the Hsin-min-ting road. This flank was watched by a cavalry division under Mischenko and Kosobosky. In all, this was a front of sixty to seventy miles. It must not be thought that the Sha-ho was a military obstacle. It was neither deep nor fast enough, except when in heavy flood, to be reckoned as a barrier. At the present season, frozen hard, it indicated the line of country which commended itself to Kuropatkin's sappers as defensible. The 2nd Manchurian Army, which was now commanded by Gripenberg, held the plain between the Hun-ho and the railway. Koulbars commanded the centre, while the 1st Manchurian Army, consisting of the Siberian Army Corps, held Kuropatkin's eastern front in the hills under the command of Linievitch, the veteran commander during the Boxer Boxer trouble, who had recently been brought to Mukden from commanding the garrison at Vladivostok. The Japanese positions to a very considerable extent conformed to those of the Russian. In fact, in many places the outposts were so close together that it was possible to see from the Russian line the smoke from the cigarettes of the Japanese off-duty pickets. But behind the parallel chains of fortified positions which kept these two armies in touch, two industrious and independent principalities seemed to have sprung up. The Russians showed great mechanical skill in connecting up the wings of their great army with light

There are several indications which tend to show that Kuropatkin at Mukden still believed that although the Japanesebred soldier might be better than the mujik in the hills, yet his own grey-coated regiments would defeat the diminutive Oriental upon the plain. From the very commencement of the campaign, as far as he could judge, the Japanese had always made for the highest hill-tops in order to give effect to their turning movements. Reflecting upon the very painful experience which he had bought, the Russian General no doubt came

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to the conclusion that the Japanese had shunned the plain because they felt their inferiority on the level. This thought was set fast in his mind when he designed the abortive operations at Hei-kou-tai, and after that disaster it was this belief which caused him to mass 20,000 of his reserves at Fushun as a counterpoise to the combined movement which he apprehended Kawamura and Kuroki would make against his left flank. It must be allowed, however, that the development of the final closure of the battle of Hei-kou - tai is an enigma even to this moment. The military student can understand the object of Gripenberg's original movement,-his desire to turn the Japanese on the flank on which he believed their military resistance to be the weakest. One can even understand his selecting European troops, for the most part unblooded, to engage upon this enterprise over the frozen plains. Also, it is easy to understand why, as a matter of precaution, the well- tried 1st Siberian Army Corps under General Stackelberg was withdrawn from the left, and sent to stiffen the new phalanxes from European Russia. The order which the mutinous and sore-headed Gripenberg claims to have in his possession, in which Kuropatkin asks him to unmask the situation of the chief masses of the Japanese force beyond the Shaho, is also easy of comprehension. But, beyond this point, there is little that the student or historian can unravel or conscientiously understand. There

is no doubt, however, that the premises of this attempt against Oyama's flank were, at the outset, conducted with considerable skill-that is to say, they were conducted with secrecy, and secrecy in war is synonymous with skill.

On the night of the 23rd the Russians' second army, consisting of the 8th and 10th Army Corps, plus Stackelberg's Siberians, concentrated between Chang-tan and Tu-tifang on the Hsin-min-ting-Liauyang road, about twenty-five miles south-west of Mukden, and five miles to the rear of the defences on the Hun-ho. The weather still remained favourable, as far as a Manchurian winter can be favourable for military operations. On the night of the 24th Gripenberg moved his army southwards, and crossed the frozen Hun in two places, at Han-chiao-pu and Chi-tai-tzu. Having made the passage of the river at daybreak, the Russian brigades formed for attack, and were launched against an echelon of fortified posts, which furnished the Japanese left. Of these the San-de-pu position was the most important. It is essential that the military reader should at this moment fix in his mind the character of the terrain in which the fighting_took place.

The Times' of February 4 has given the following expressive picture :

"San-de-pu, like all the other numerous villages around, is a collection of farmsteads, with a caravanserai for Each farmhouse winter travellers. is surrounded by high walls of sundried bricks, well plastered with loam, mixed with chopped straw.

Hartley felt sick, and made no reply.

"Yes, where is Wilmot?-he will tell the truth."

Hendrika had entered the room, and stood by the side of her mother. She was in an elaborate dressing-gown, whose embellishment she had concealed and marred by throwing an old shawl over her head and shoulders. She stood an embodiment of inartistic incongruity, delicate lace and ribbon, ragged and dirty woollen.

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Why did you make Wilmot bury Johannes?" she demanded. "We know, - you dared not look on him. It is always so with murderers. Have you murdered Wilmot? Where is he? Why does he not come to bear out your lies?"

Hartley relit his pipe. The questioning of the girl unnerved and paralysed him. His courage was oozing. He wanted to be brave and conceal nothing, but he hesitated to make the answer that he felt must condemn him irretrievably. Where was Wilmot? He honestly did not know, but dare not confess it, much less could he put his suspicions into words. To impute treachery to his friend while he himself was under grave suspicion would be the act of a coward. "You cannot answer," came the voice of Hendrika. "You know you have murdered him. I can feel it. Father, send a Kafir for Frickkie and Jan Smeer: they are on the farm, and must catch this schelm.'

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Old Piet spoke at last. He had been listening with the

manner of a man who heard an excuse he could not accept. His stolid, stupid face had incredulity and obstinate scepticism stamped upon it. "You had better go away," he


His passive, quietloving nature revolted at everything violent. He hated a scene, and would rather allow a malefactor to escape than have the trouble and exertion of arresting him.

"Run away before the Smeers come: they are waiting for you," he repeated.

Hartley started as if stung.

"Run away! By God, no! not for all the police in the Transvaal," he shouted, standing up and facing the group defiantly. "Where's Clarie? You may believe I'm a murderer, but she does not."

"Go away," Piet repeated petulantly

"It's your house, Piet, but I don't go until Clarie tells me to."

At that moment there was a flash of white at the door. Clarie, with a wrapper thrown round her, her long brown hair streaming over her shoulders, her face white as her robe and her dark eyes gleaming feverishly, glided noiselessly into the room. She walked swiftly up to Hartley, and pointing to the door that opened upon the stoep, said in a tone strangely at variance with her usual subdued and gentle speech"Go,-go at once!"

Hartley stood dazed and irresolute.

"But, Clarie, why should I go if I am innocent?”

"Go!" she repeated, and she

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