Brown of Moukden: A Story of the Russo-Japanese War

Brown of Moukden: A Story of the Russo-Japanese War

Author:
Herbert Strang
Author:
Herbert Strang
Format:
epub
language:
English

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Author: Strang, Herbert
Russo-Japanese War
1904-1905 — Juvenile fiction
Brown of Moukden: A Story of the Russo-Japanese War

Brown of Moukden

A Story of the Russo-Japanese War

BY

HERBERT STRANG

AUTHOR OF “KOBO: A STORY OF THE RUSSO-JAPANESE WAR”

“TOM BURNABY” “BOYS OF THE LIGHT BRIGADE” ETC.

Illustrated by William Rainey, R.I.

G. P. Putnam’s Sons

New York and London

The Knickerbocker Press

1906

“To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.”

Tennyson’s Ulysses.

My dear Raymond,

Last year I wove a romance about the early incidents
of the great war now happily at an end; this year I have
chosen its later incidents as the background for my hero’s
adventures. But while in “Kobo” the struggle was viewed
from the Japanese stand-point, in “Brown of Moukden”
(which is in no sense a sequel) you will find yourself among
the Russians, looking at the other side of the shield. It is
not the romancer’s business to be a partisan; and we British
people were at first, perhaps, a little blind to the fact that
the bravery, the endurance, the heroism, have not been all
on the one side.

As a boy preparing for the Navy, you would have liked,
I dare say, to see Jack Brown in the thick of the great naval
battle at Tsushima. But I had three reasons for giving
no space to that famous victory. First, Jack could not
possibly have seen it. Secondly, sea-fights had a very good
turn in “Kobo”. Thirdly, I hope some day to give you
sea-dogs a whole book to yourselves—but that, as Mr. Kipling
somewhere says, will be another story. Meanwhile, if you
get half as much fun in reading this book as I have had
in writing it, I shall count myself very lucky indeed.

Yours sincerely,

HERBERT STRANG.

September, 1905.

Contents

Chapter I

IVAN IVANOVITCH BROWN

Chapter II

MR. WANG AND A CONSTABLE

Chapter III

DEPORTED

Chapter IV

THE GREAT SIBERIAN RAILWAY

Chapter V

A DEAL IN FLOUR

Chapter VI

IN FULL CRY

Chapter VII

A DAUGHTER OF POLAND

Chapter VIII

A CUSTOM OF CATHAY

Chapter IX

AH LUM

Chapter X

THE HIRED MAN

Chapter XI

WAR-LOOK-SEE

Chapter XII

THE RETREAT FROM LIAO-YANG

Chapter XIII

MR. BROWN’S HOUSE

Chapter XIV

A NIGHT WITH SOWINSKI

Chapter XV

COSSACK AND CHUNCHUSE

Chapter XVI

FIRE PANIC

Chapter XVII

THE WAR GAME

Chapter XVIII

A FIGHT IN THE HILLS

Chapter XIX

CAPTAIN KARGOPOL FINDS THE CHUNCHUSES

Chapter XX

THE BATTLE OF MOUKDEN

Chapter XXI

AH LUM AT BAY

Chapter XXII

CAPTURING A LOCOMOTIVE

Chapter XXIII

FROM MAO-SHAN TO IMIEN-PO

Chapter XXIV

LIEUTENANT POTUGIN IN PURSUIT

Chapter XXV

THE PRESSURE-GAUGE

Chapter XXVI

A DOUBLE QUEST

Chapter XXVII

SAKHALIN

Chapter XXVIII

THE EMPTY HUT

Chapter XXIX

THE HEART OF THE HILL

Chapter XXX

CROWDED MOMENTS

Chapter XXXI

ENTENTE CORDIALE

*Glossary*

List of Illustrations

Plate I

HERR SCHWAB UNDER FIRE . . . . . . . . . Frontispiece

Plate II

A SEARCH PARTY

Plate III

JACK SAVES AH FU

Plate IV

SOWINSKI’S VISITOR

Plate V

AT FULL TILT

Plate VI

“RECALL YOUR LAST WORD!”

Maps and Plans

Manchuria and part of Siberia

The Battle of Liao-yang.

The Battle of Moukden.

The Siberian Railway from Mao-shan to Han-ta-ho-tzü

CHAPTER I

Ivan Ivanovitch Brown

Scenes in Moukden—Beyond the Walls—Lieutenant Borisoff—The
Cangue—Anton Sowinski—Criminal Procedure—Mr. Brown
Senior—Schlagintwert’s Representative—The Automatic Principle

The midsummer sun had spent its force, and as it
reddened towards its setting Moukden began to breathe
again. The gildings on palace, temple, and pagoda
shone with a ruddy glow, but the eye was no longer
dazzled; garish in full sunlight, the city was now merely
brilliant, the reds and greens, blues and yellows, of its
house-fronts toned to a rich and charming beauty. The
shops—almost every house is a shop—were open, displaying
here poultry, dried fish, and articles of common use;
there piles of Oriental merchandise: silks and embroideries,
parasols and screens, ornaments of silver and copper,
priceless porcelain and lacquered ware. Monsters with
vermilioned faces grinned from the poles—hung with
branches and surmounted by peacocks with spread tail—that
bore the signs and legends of the merchants and
shopkeepers before whose doors they were erected: all
different, yet all alike in gorgeousness of colouring and
fantasy of design.

Two main thoroughfares traverse Moukden at right
angles. Along these flowed in each direction a full tide
of people, gathering up cross currents at every side street
and alley. It was a picturesque throng, the light costumes
showing in brilliant relief against the darker colours of
the houses and the brown dust of the roadway. There
were folk of many nations: Manchus, Mongols, Tartars,
Greeks and Montenegrins, soldiers Chinese and Russian,
here and there a European war-correspondent escaping
from the boredom of his inn. Pedestrians and horsemen
jostled vehicles of all descriptions. Workmen staggered
along under enormous loads; labourers of both sexes
trudged homewards from the fields, their implements on
their shoulders. A drove of fat pigs in charge of a
blue-coated swineherd scampered and squealed beneath the
wheels of a Russian transport wagon. Here was a
rickshaw drawn with shrill cries by its human steeds; there
a rough springless two-wheeled mule-cart, painted in
yellow ochre, hauled by three mules tandem, and jolting
over the ruts with its load of passengers, some on the
backs of the mules, some on the shafts, some packed
beneath the low tilt of blue cotton. Not far behind, a
trolley, pushed by perspiring coolies and carrying seven
men standing in unstable equilibrium, had halted to make
way for a magnificent blue sedan chair, wadded with fur
and silk, borne by four stalwart servants. Through the
trellised window of the chair the curious might catch a
glimpse of a bespectacled mandarin, his mushroom hat
decked with the button indicative of his rank. With
shouts and blows a detachment of Chinese soldiers,
red-jacketed infantry, carrying halberts, javelins, and sickles
swathed to poles, forced a passage for his excellency
through the crowd.

The heavy air quivered with noise: the mingled cries of
street merchants and children, the clatter of hoofs, the
din of gongs at the doors of the theatres, weird strains
of song accompanied by the twanging of inharmonious
guitars, and, dominating all, the insistent strident squeak
of a huge wheelbarrow, trundled by a grave old Chinaman,
unconscious of the pain his greaseless wheels inflicted
on untutored sensibilities. A Russian lady passing in a
droshky grimaced and put her fingers to her ears, and a
wayfarer near her smiled and addressed a word to the
torturer, who looked at him aslant out of his little eyes
and went on his way placid and unabashed.

The pedestrian who had spoken was one by himself in
all that vast throng. That he was European was shown
by his garments; a western observer, however little
travelled, would have known him at a glance as an English
lad. His garb was light, fitting a slim, tall figure; a
broad-brimmed cotton hat was slanted over his nose to
keep the glowing rays from his eyes; he walked with the
springy tread and free swinging gait never acquired by an
Oriental. He wormed his way through the jostling crowd,
passed through the bastioned gate of the lofty inner
ramparts, crossed the suburbs, where the gardens were in
gorgeous bloom, and, leaving the external wall of mud
behind him, came into the brown, rough, dusty road,
lined on both sides with booths, leading to the railway-station.
Rich fields of maize and beans and millet covered
the vast plain beyond, and upon the sky-line lay a range
of wooded hills.

By and by the walker came to the new street that had
sprung up beside the railway-station since the Russian
occupation: a settlement tenanted by traders—Greek,
Caucasian, and Hebrew—dealing in every product of the two
civilizations, eastern and western, here so incongruously
in contact. Nothing that could be sold or bartered came
amiss to these polyglot traders; they kept everything from
champagne to saké (the rice beer of Japan), from boots to
smoked fish. Hurrying through this oven of odours, he
passed the line of ugly brick cottages run up for the
Russian officials, and arrived at the station. It was quiet at
the moment; there was a pause in the stream of traffic
which had for some time been steadily flowing southward.
Save for the railway servants, the riflemen who guard the
line, and a few officers desperately bored in their effort to
kill time, the platform was deserted. The Russian
lieutenant on duty accosted the new-comer.

“Well, Ivan Ivanovitch, what can we do for you to-day?”

“The same old thing,” replied the lad slowly in Russian.
“Can you send a wire to Vladivostok for my father?”

“Very sorry; it is impossible to-day as it was yesterday.
None but military messages are going through.”

“Well, I just came up on the chance.”

“When are you leaving? We shall miss you.”

“Thanks! In a few days, I hope. Father has just
about settled up everything. In fact, that consignment of
flour is the only thing left to trouble about now. I hope
it will get through safely, but the Japanese appear to be
scouting the seas pretty thoroughly. As soon as we hear
from our agent at Vladivostok we shall be off.”

“Come and have a glass of tea in the buffet. It may
be the last time.”

Jack Brown—known to his Russian friends as Ivan
Ivanovitch, “John the son of John”—accepted the invitation.
After a chat and a glass of tea from the large steaming
samovar, always a conspicuous object in a Russian
buffet, he left the station as the dusk was falling and a
haze spread over the ground, covering up the many
unlovely evidences of the Russian occupation. For variety’s
sake he changed his course and took a path to the left
that skirted the native graveyard, intending to enter the
city by one of the northern gates. A line of heavy native
carts, with their long teams of mules and ponies, was
slowly wending northwards; women, their hair decorated
with flowers, were taking their children for an airing
before the sun set and the gates were closed; a beggar
stood by the roadside cleverly imitating a bird’s cry by
blowing through a curled-up leaf. Jack came to the great
mandarin road and turned towards the city; such evening
scenes were now a matter of course to him. But he was
still at some distance from the outer wall when he came
upon a sight which, common as it was in Moukden, he
never beheld without pity and indignation. A big
muscular Chinaman of some thirty to forty years was seated
on the ground, his neck locked in the square wooden
collar known as the cangue, an oriental variant of the old
English pillory. So devised that the head and the upper
part of the body are held rigid, the cangue as an
instrument of punishment is worthy of Chinese ingenuity. The
victim, as Jack knew, must have sat throughout the long
sweltering day tortured by innumerable insects which his
fixed hands were powerless to beat off. At nightfall a
constable would come and release him, conveying him to
the gaol attached to a yamen within the city, where he
would be locked up until the morning. Then the cangue
would be replaced and the criminal taken back to the same
spot on the wayside.

Jack hurried his step as he approached, eager to leave
the unpleasant sight behind him. But on drawing nearer
he was surprised to find that he knew the man,—surprised,
because he was one of the last who could have been
expected to fall into such a plight. The recognition was
mutual; and as Jack came up, the parched lips of the
victim uttered a woeful exclamation of greeting.

“How came you here, Mr. Wang?” asked Jack in Chinese.

The crime was indicated on the upper board of the
cangue, but Jack, though he had more than a smattering
of colloquial Chinese, knew almost nothing of the written
language. The poor wretch could hardly articulate; but
with difficulty he at length managed, in the short
high-pitched monosyllables of his native tongue, to explain.
He had been accused of fraud; the charge was totally
without foundation; but at the trial before the magistrates
witness after witness had appeared against him: it is easy
to suborn evidence in a Chinese court: and he had been
condemned to the cangue, a first step in the system of
torture by which a prisoner, innocent or guilty, is forced
to confess.

To one who knew the Chinese as Jack did, there was
nothing surprising in this explanation, except the fact that
Wang Shih was the victim. He was a respectable man,
the son of an old farmer some fifteen miles east of
Moukden, and practically the owner of the farm, his father
being past work. Hard-working and honest, he was the
last man to be suspected of trickery or base

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