The Michael Lang Letters
Letter 9


      About the 2lst or March I began my homeward journey on the train to about 20 miles from home. I was hoping that my father would be there with a wagon and two horses to take me home. There were 3 companions with me who lived in the neighboring villages and all were eager to get home as I was but we were all doomed to disappointment. No one came to meet us. It was the time or the year when the melting snow and ice and the rivers of water make the roads well nigh 1mpossible. We asked a few people at the station whether they would take us home but nobody cared to take the risk. The only alternative was to walk and owing to our weakened condition we walked slowly. We arrived at a Russian village in the evening and I said to my companion that we had better stay here for the night and rest a bit. The Russians also gave us some food. We rested a while but not long because we wanted to start early in the morning. The nights were colder and the snow froze again and some of the water had evaporated and we reckoned with an early start we could be in the next village by noon. As we walked along the water was becoming higher and higher in the grooves and ditches when finally we had arrived at the creek that led our way. It had overflowed its banks and the current was so swift that there was no thought of crossing there. While we were looking for a safe crossing one of my companions spied a man in a wagon driven by two horses. We hurried towards him and my comrade said that is one of ours. And really it was his brother. He took us through the creek the water splashing high all around us driving the wagon to one side. After about 15 minutes we arrived at my comrade’s home. My home was about 7 miles further on from Pfeifer. My village was Leichting. The good people gave us something to eat but I was so emaciated and weak that my hands shook and my whole body trembled. My comrade's mother noticed this and she said “Dear boy, don't be ashamed and don't be bashful. Enjoy your meal”. I stayed there over night. The next morning the good man of the house drove me to the next village where one of my uncles lived. He had married my father's sister. I thanked the man and told him I would go there and he would take me home. On my way there I had to cross a small creek crossed by a high bridge. The velocity of the water had taken a part or the bridge away. As I was standing there uncertain of what to do I said, "In God's Name” and threw myself hands forward on to the bridge. My weakened body was hanging over the raging waters when suddenly it seemed as though someone had given me a lift and my body was on the bridge. "Thanks be to God, I said". It was the 25th of March the feast or the Annunciation. This was a big feast day for our village and every one went to church. I thought I had better not go to my uncle but go home which was about 4 miles farther. I was ashamed to go to my uncle because I was so emaciated and in beggar's clothes. Therefore I went on slowly and arrive at our village and about 10 am. Most of the people were in church. My home was about in the middle of the village and I went there hoping that no one had seen me. I arrived safely in our yard and my sister in-law my eldest brother's wife was there. She had thought I was a beggar as she told me later. When she recognized me she embraced me and we both cried for joy. As I entered the house here was my dear old grandmother and with her tears flowing freely said, "I thought I would never see you again but always prayed for you and thank God you are home again”. By this time the Mass was over and the people were retuning home, father, stepmother relatives etc. At first there was the shook of my appearance and then the joy of my return.

My stepmother said “All will be right soon”. We have plenty to eat and drink-milk, butter and meat and also enough bread. Now eat and rest and soon you will be strong again. After a week I felt myself growing stronger so I put on other clothes and looked a little better. But the furlough one month was soon over and I had to appear again at the draft board. The examination proved that I was still fit to be a soldier and I was sent to Saratov a city about 130 Miles from home. I remained home about a half month more and then I went to Saratov but no more to war. I had a nice job there namely boss or the warehouse with two clerks as aides so that there I can speak of good times. After a few weeks I again received a furlough for 11 days. But this time I was dressed in uniform and didn't need to be ashamed of my appearance. When I arrived home it was the time or the year when the farmers received their quota of wood for the year. The trees were large so my father hired a young man and me to bring the wood home. My 3 brothers were still at war. I told my father that I had heard that I could remain after 3 months but it would cost money. My father said that if I could do that it would be better than to hire a workman. After 11 days I returned to Saratov.

Greeting to my daughter and all the Sisters at St. Anthony. God bless you all and with the words, Lord abide with us for the day is far spent. I am your father,

Michael Lang

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