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Title: Albania - A narrative of recent travel
Author: Knight, E. F. (Edward Frederick), 1852-1925
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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ALBANIA.

  [Illustration: A SCIENTIFIC FRONTIER.
                _Page_ 229.]



  ALBANIA:

  A NARRATIVE OF RECENT TRAVEL.


  BY E. F. KNIGHT,
  BARRISTER-AT-LAW.


  WITH ILLUSTRATIONS.


  London:

  SAMPSON LOW, MARSTON, SEARLE, & RIVINGTON,
  CROWN BUILDINGS, 188, FLEET STREET.

  1880.

  [_All rights reserved._]



Transcriber's Note: Inconsistencies in spelling, punctuation, and
hyphenation have been retained as printed. Words printed in bold are
noted with tildes: ~bold~.



CONTENTS.


                                                                 PAGE

CHAPTER I.

Where to go to?--An unknown country--The expedition--Our
inventor--Our equipment--The doctor--A useful remedy--The
start--Venice--Trieste                                              1


CHAPTER II.

On board an Austrian Lloyd--Voyage to Spalato--The coast of
Istria and Dalmatia--Old Venetian cities--Our fellow-passengers
--Pola--A Turkish officer--The Morlaks--Why is England a triangle?
--Sebenico--Arrival at Spalato                                     11


CHAPTER III.

Dalmatian _cuisine_--The Emperor Diocletian--Remains of the
old palace--We make two friends--Wines of Dalmatia--Customs
of the Morlaks--A visit to Salona--A great fête--Costumes--
Morlak singing                                                     28


CHAPTER IV.

Voyage to Cattaro--A bora--The gulf of Narenta--The Herzegovina
--The Island of Curzola--Ragusa--The Bocche di Cattan--The
frontier of Montenegro--The fortress of Cattaro--Evening
promenade--Personal attractions of the Cattarine ladies--
Rough roads--Prince Nikita's coach--Bosnian refugees--A
Bosnian's luggage                                                  45


CHAPTER V.

March to Cettinje--The pass across the frontier--Montenegrin
warriors--Cettinje--A land of stones--The Prince's Hotel--
Frontier disputes--The commission--Montenegrin method of
making war--A game of billiards--A Draconic law--A popular
prince                                                             60


CHAPTER VI.

The occupation of a Montenegrin gentleman--The public library
--Prince Nikita's prisoners--Albanian _versus_ Montenegrin
--A Montenegrin loan--The prince as a sportsman--The museum--
The hospital                                                       78


CHAPTER VII.

Journey to Scutari--Atrocities--A runaway--The vale of Rieka--
A Montenegrin sailor--The lions of Rieka--The perils of the
night                                                              90


CHAPTER VIII.

A great victory--A good old custom--On the Lake of Scutari--
The londra--The debateable land--Boat song--Encampment--Scutari
--A reminiscence of Cremorne--The brothers Toshli--Willow-pattern
plates--At the British consulate                                  100


CHAPTER IX.

Condition of Albania--Her races--The Mussulman--The Christian--
The Arnaut--Prince Scanderbeg--Turkish rule--Albanian language
--Gendarmes on strike--A Scutarine beauty--Courtship and marriage
--Nuns                                                            116


CHAPTER X.

The bazaar--Turkish gipsies--The vendetta--An assassin--A way
to pay debts--Bosnian refugees--A card-party--Paving stones
--Burglars--Army doctors--Change for a ten pound note--Our
horses                                                            132


CHAPTER XI.

Our Lady of Scutari--A miracle--The fête--A funeral--A drunken
Arnaut--Our escort--Two more Britons--Warm discussion--War--
Marco                                                             151


CHAPTER XII.

March to Podgoritza--An Albanian khan--Our cook--The Fund--
Across the lake--Night visitors--The frontier--Podgoritza--
The armourer--The war minister--Dobra Pushka                      163


CHAPTER XIII.

War preparations--Our camp visitors--An impromptu ball--
English-consul fashion--Robbers--Ruins of Douka--A dangerous
bath--Bastinado--Karatag yok mir                                  181


CHAPTER XIV.

An escort--A Turkish dinner-party--Brigands--Our sportsman--A
chief of the league--Objects of the rebels--Achmet Agha--A
meeting of the league--The boulim-bashi of Klementi--An Arnaut
chieftain                                                         194


CHAPTER XV.

To Gussinje--The valley of the Drin--A rough road--In the
mountains--Hospitality--A pretty woman--A scientific frontier
--Franciscans--Dog Latin--Marco Milano                            215


CHAPTER XVI.

The mission-house--Gropa--The mandolin--A letter from Ali Bey
--A trap--Our throats in danger--Retreat--Nik Leka--Proverbs--
A pleasant evening                                                238


CHAPTER XVII.

Rosso and Effendi--A barbaric feast--Patoulis--Mead--The future
of Albania--The Italia Irridenta--Sport in Meriditia--Dick
Deadeye                                                           251


CHAPTER XVIII.

The coffin--A Pasha's death--Horse-dealing--The postman--
Brigands--An hotel bill--Down the Bojana--Dulcigno--Pirates
--Farewell                                                        268



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.


                                                  PAGE

SPALATO                                             26

BOCCHE DI CATTARO                                   48

WALLS OF CATTARO                                    49

CETTINJE                                            65

THE LONDRA                                         102

SCUTARI FISHING HARBOUR                            109

PODGORITZA                                         177

A SCIENTIFIC FRONTIER                              229



ALBANIA.



CHAPTER I.

Where to go to?--An unknown country--The expedition--Our inventor--Our
equipment--The doctor--A useful remedy--The start--Venice--Trieste.


One day last autumn I was sitting in my Temple chambers, wondering what
I should do with myself in the Long Vacation, when I was aroused from
my reverie by the entrance of my clerk.

"Here is Mr. N., sir."

"Show him in."

N. entered, and his chance visit solved my problem.

"Don't know what to do with yourself? Why, I have the very thing for
you. Three friends of mine--Brown, Jones, and Robinson--are preparing
for a tour in Albania. I saw Brown this morning, and he told me they
wanted somebody else to join their party."

To cut the narrative short, I was introduced to Brown, Jones, and
Robinson, as I shall call my travelling companions in this book; and it
was not long before I decided to join them in a trip which promised to
be a very amusing one. My friends were artists, and had chosen this
almost unknown country for their summer tour, as being an unexplored
mine for their pencils, both as regards magnificence of scenery and
picturesqueness of costume. I myself knew nothing about Albania before
starting, with the exception of what I had gleaned from "Childe
Harold." The lines where the poet sings,

    Albania, rugged nurse of savage men,

came to my mind; so I took down Byron from my shelves, and read all
that he has to say about

    The wild Albanian kirtled to his knee,
    With shawl-girt head, and ornamented gun,
    And gold-embroider'd garments fair to see.

The information was scanty, but sufficient to show me that no more
interesting country could have been chosen for our expedition. I
purpose, in this book, to give a narrative of our wanderings in
Montenegro and Northern Albania.

My aim is not at all an ambitious one, and I do not intend to enter
very deeply into the history and already over-discussed politics of the
races of Eastern Europe, but merely to jot down my own first rough
impressions of the country; for my object is principally to show my
readers how well worthy of a visit it is, and by describing the ways
and means of travelling in it, to encourage and render some assistance
to any who may purpose to follow in our footsteps over the Highlands of
ancient Illyria. My fellow-travellers proposed to travel in a rough
style, not to hamper themselves with servants, and to ride or walk, as
seemed best when we reached the country.

The originator of the expedition, Robinson, had evolved an imaginary
Albania from his inner consciousness, and was therefore always ready to
answer, off-hand, any question we might ask him as to what we should
take with us in the shape of baggage, &c.

He always advanced his opinion so unhesitatingly, and would give us so
many facts as to the climate, nature of the country and manners of the
people, that, till I knew him better, I imagined that he must have
either travelled in these countries himself, or at least have had a
very dear and confiding friend who had done so, for no amount of
reading could have brought about so intimate an acquaintance with the
subject.

We were certain to meet with an abundance of big game, he told us, so
must each be provided with a rifle--the result was, I armed myself with
a Martini-Henry. He procured a Winchester rifle (I think, later on in
our heavy marches, he regretted having taken this ponderous weapon).
Brown provided himself with a lighter Winchester carbine. Jones wisely
took no rifle with him. We each had a good revolver, and our scanty
baggage was contained in three saddle-bags. Robinson, in addition to
his other great qualities, was a wonderful inventor, and insisted on
furnishing the expedition with a huge tent, which subsequently was
christened "the White Elephant." This was packed for the journey in a
long coffin-like box, and many were the wranglings and afflictions over
that unfortunate package. Cabmen, railway porters, custom-house
officers, police, all alike suspected it, and hindered its unhappy
progress in every way. A fantastic axe, a gigantic yataghan-looking
knife, and a cooking apparatus, were also devised by our ingenious
friend, and constructed under his supervision. Many and many a plan he
drew up before he perfected these marvellous inventions, and long was
it ere he could find artisans intelligent enough to comprehend and
carry them out. We trembled for all these _impedimenta_, and warned our
friend that four camels at least would be necessary to transport them.
Remonstrances were useless; we were told it was impossible to travel in
Albania without these; so, with reluctance, and foreboding of future
troubles, we gave in. Accidents of various kinds delayed our start.
Brown and myself at last waxed impatient, and after waiting long for
our tardy companions, who never would come up to the scratch, but
postponed the journey from one day to another (each to be fixed and
unchangeable), we decided to precede them, and await them either at
some Dalmatian port or in Montenegro. We settled to leave London on the
18th of September, took through tickets to Trieste, and appointed to
meet in our war-paint at Victoria Station at seven o'clock in the
evening, so as to catch the eight o'clock train for the Dieppe boat.

At seven o'clock the whole length of Spiers and Pond's refreshment-bar
at Victoria Station was monopolized by the travellers and the numerous
friends who had come to see the last of them. "You are certain to have
your throat cut, old fellow, so you might just as well have one last
beverage with me," was an oft-repeated and encouraging salute.

I should say that those who were spectators of our departure must have
imagined that we were bound on an expedition to the centre of Africa,
at least. Our appearance was certainly remarkable. We were arrayed in
blue flannel shirts, rough blue pilot suits, and top-boots. Brown, too,
had closely shaven his head, which gave him a decided Millbank
appearance. Our luggage consisted of a saddle-bag, a rifle, and blanket
each. Robinson was anxious for us to take "the White Elephant" with us;
we did not see it. I forgot to state that Brown had taken upon himself
the charge of the medical department, and had arranged a little box of
horrible implements and medicaments. The properties of these I do not
think he knew much about. As can easily be imagined, we fought very shy
of him in his surgical character throughout the journey. At the last
moment we remembered another medicine which might, with advantage, be
added to our chest; we had incidentally heard that brandy was a useful
remedy in some illnesses. We accordingly sent my clerk over to that
excellent tavern, the "Devereux Arms," for a bottle of this fluid; it
was lucky we did so, for, curiously enough, both of us suffered on
several occasions from those maladies for which it is supposed that
beverage is a specific; to such an extent, indeed, that though none of
the other bottles in the chest were even uncorked, this one had
frequently to be replenished.

In sixty-two hours from the time we left London we were in Venice. We
were haunted by two guilty consciences during the whole of our run
across Europe. For we had to cross three frontiers, and were laden
with contraband, in the shape of revolvers and rifle cartridges. In
consequence of our suspicious appearance, our baggage was generally
examined. At Modane, where is the most unpleasant frontier custom-house
in Europe, the officers have instructions to confiscate all revolvers.
Thus we had to conceal our own on our persons. As they were large, and
so caused a suspicious-looking protuberance of our outer clothing, we
did not feel quite happy until we were again seated in a carriage, and
plunged into the darkness of the Mont Cenis.

From Venice we took the steamer to Trieste--a twelve hours' journey.
The boat was crowded. Brown and myself tossed up as to whether he or I
should sleep alongside a very fat old lady who obstructed the entrance
to one of the two only vacant berths. I won the toss, and ungallantly
enough surrendered the place of honour to Brown.

At six in the morning we were alongside one of the quays at Trieste,
and landed without being subjected to any custom-house inspection. We
put up at the Hôtel Delorme, at which well-known hostelry the Prince of
Montenegro had been recently staying, on his return from a visit to the
Emperor of Austria at Vienna. We found that an Austrian Lloyd steamer
started at five the next morning for the different Dalmatian and
Albanian ports; so, as Trieste is not a very interesting place, we
determined to steam as far as Spalato, and there await our companions.
We telegraphed to them to that effect.

We wandered about the town sight-seeing the whole day, visited the
Lloyd Arsenal, and called on our consul, Captain Burton, the well-known
traveller. He gave us some useful information, and recommended us to
several people on the Dalmatian coast. He strongly advised us to take
plenty of quinine with us, as the fever season had commenced, and
tertians had been exceptionally frequent in Southern Dalmatia this
year, after the severe drought this part of Europe had experienced.

We took two _sedea platea_ at the Theatre Fenice, the opera for
the evening being "Lucia di Lammermoor." The _prima donna_ was an
English Jewess, Madame Isidore, of whom, as a foreigner, the Triestines
seemed to be very jealous, for her excellent singing met with a cold
reception. When the opera was concluded, we wandered about the town for
a short time. I find in my diary this note: "The beer of Trieste is
good."

An English-speaking commissionaire at our hotel had insisted on
piloting us about to the different places of interest. He was an
amusing man, had tried most professions, had even been a butler in an
English family. He had recently been butler, or what here corresponds
to a butler, to a Triestine; but, after a few weeks, left his place in
disgust, for, as he expressed it, "The Italian no understand life like
you English. In cellar no wine. I go to my master. Sar, I leave you."

"Why? what is the reason?"

"Sar, I came here as butler. There is nothing to buttle. I go."

We retired to our beds about one, and enjoyed a few hours' sleep before
the time came for embarking.

At three o'clock the next morning we were aroused by our
commissionaire, who had promised to see us off. We dressed hastily, and
sallied forth in search of an early breakfast before our vessel sailed,
and soon found a café which had not yet closed its doors. The waiters,
and the place itself, had that disreputable and up-all-night appearance
which is only apparent to those who themselves have arisen betimes from
sober couches. I think my friend and myself rather regretted that we
had so risen, and had not wandered about the town till the hour of
sailing; for to turn into bed from one to three is productive rather of
discontent with things in general than of that freshness, as of a
button, the little cherub proverbially enjoys.

After swallowing our coffee we found our way to our vessel, the
"Archduke Paul," bid adieu to our commissionaire, introduced ourselves
to the steward, and, selecting two comfortable berths, turned in for a
little more sleep.



CHAPTER II.

On board an Austrian Lloyd--Voyage to Spalato--The coast of Istria and
Dalmatia--Old Venetian cities--Our fellow-passengers--Pola--A Turkish
officer--The Morlaks--Why is England a triangle?--Sebenico--Arrival at
Spalato.


When I awoke, the sun was shining brightly through the skylight, and
the familiar thud of the screw told me we were under way. On mounting
to the deck, I found that we were to have a glorious day to enjoy the
scenery of the coast. There was not a cloud in the sky, and a fresh and
pleasant breeze was blowing off shore. As our vessel was to touch at
nearly every harbour of Istria and Dalmatia, we were never more than
one or two miles distant from some coast, either of the continent or of
the innumerable islands which stud the Eastern Adriatic from Fiume to
Cattaro.

Very few English tourists ever wander among these remote provinces of
the Austrian Empire, yet they are exceedingly easy of access, and
possibly no countries in Europe are so interesting.

The fine scenery, the picturesque costumes and manners of the
population, and above all, the remarkable Roman and Venetian
antiquities, render them well worthy of a visit. It is surprising
indeed that they are so little known.

The Austrian Lloyd steamers run up and down between Trieste and Corfu
three times a week, and are as clean and comfortable as any in the
world. Again, all countries under Austrian rule are perfectly secure,
banditti being entirely unknown. Of course, if any one ventures inland,
one must not expect to meet with all the luxuries of civilization;
indeed, it must be confessed that even the hotels in the chief
seaports, such as Cattaro, would seem rather rough to the sybarite. We
met with universal kindness and civility, and even honesty, throughout
Dalmatia, from the Austrian officers and officials, as well as from the
Sclav and Italian population. We found every one anxious to go out of
their way to point out to us the lions of the district. The tariff at
the hotels is very low, as it is, by the way, on the Austrian Lloyds,
where the two really excellent meals provided daily at one and eight,
cost one and one-and-a-half florins (paper) respectively. In short, one
lives luxuriously for about five shillings a day. The officers are
gentlemanly and well-educated men--Dalmatians or Italians, as a
rule--and very glad to fraternize with jovially-disposed English
passengers. One is almost sure to find one or more who speak English.
We took our tickets for Spalato, at which very interesting town we
determined to stay for a few days. This is but a two-hundred miles' run
from Trieste, but forty-two hours are spent in the passage. For though
very little merchandize is taken on board at the several ports touched
at, in order to pick up mails and passengers, a most unnecessary amount
of time is wasted in each. Of this of course we are not sorry. Now the
steamer would anchor off some picturesque little town, such as Pirano,
crowned by its ancient fortress--a relic of the great republic which
once ruled all this coast--and now bring up alongside the marble quay
of some ancient Roman city, such as Pola, with its gigantic
amphitheatre reflected on the purple Adriatic.

The scenery of the coast is very beautiful. The mountains are lofty
and fantastically serrated, and cleft into profound fissures and
chasms; while innumerable islands surround one on every side, so that
one seems to be sailing on a large lake rather than a sea. Each turn
round some jagged promontory reveals some new wonder, and there is not
a village that is not picturesque and antique, with Venetian fortress
or Byzantine church rising from the very water's edge. It is
impossible to say what colour the Adriatic is; it is certainly the
most chameleon-like of seas, and changes its hue quite irrespectively,
as far as I could see, of atmospheric influence, under a sunny sky
from deepest violet to most delicate turquoise, but ever beautiful.

However, after a time, there is something remarkably wearisome in this
coast; for though the mountains are grandly formed, they are almost
universally barren, the vegetation being scant and trees exceedingly
rare. The Venetians made the most of their possessions when they had
them, and destroyed the once magnificent forests of Illyria in a most
ruthless manner. Nearly all the timber for their fleets was procured
from these mountains.

The result is, that they are hopelessly bleak and barren, while the
country in many places presents for miles inland the appearance of a
stony desert. I do not think there is a region in Europe so wild and
desolate as the plains in the neighbourhood of Novegrad; however, I
believe that further inland, and so almost inaccessible, large and fine
forests abound.

The weather was mild enough now, in the latter end of September (80°
Fahr. in the shade), but this is a frightfully hot and parched-up
country in the summer. The vegetation, where there is any, is
sub-tropical; the date-palm, the aloe, and the cactus, are seen
springing here and there from the rocks; citrons, pomegranates,
almonds, are cultivated in many parts of the Lowlands.

We steamed slowly on throughout the day, till the setting sun lit up
the high Dinanic Alps, which is a precipitous and unbroken line,
lowered in the background above the lesser maritime chains. The barren
precipices assumed the most lovely tints, in some places glowing like
molten iron, while the shadows toned down to a deep hazy purple. But
soon the sun had forsaken the loftiest peak, and the quick-coming
darkness reminded us that our supper was spread in the comfortable
cabin. The day had been a very enjoyable one, for the scenery and
inhabitants were alike new to us. Our deck passengers were lying about
in most picturesque groups. Here some Hungarian recruits devouring
their rations greedily; here some wild-looking Dalmatian Morlaks; here
a solemn Turkish merchant, puffing at his long pipe; Montenegrins,
Greeks, and an ugly-looking lot of felons, manacled and chained
together, completed the scene. We had touched at Pirano, Parenzo, and
Rovigno, in the morning. As our vessel brought up alongside the quay at
Pola, we were enabled to stretch our legs for an hour on shore. We
might have had two hours there had it not been for the extreme
deliberation and prudence with which the officers of these steamers
approach a quay.

The vociferations and evident anxiety of every one on board whenever
this operation had to be performed would lead one to suppose that it
required extraordinary delicacy and skill, and was attended with no
small risk. Our captain was evidently excessively pleased and proud
whenever he had safely accomplished this duty, and looked round with a
very self-satisfied and admire-me-if-you-please air as he wiped the
perspiration from his brow.

So deep was the water, and so unobstructed the harbour, that one would
have imagined it would have been easy to have steamed the vessel right
up to her berth, but that is not the way they do things here.

When we were about half-a-mile off the shore a boat was lowered, which
took out at a cable to a large buoy in the roads; then it was found
that the line attached to the cable was not long enough to reach the
buoy, so we had to steam a little nearer. When, after a good deal of
bungling, we succeeded in making fast our bow to this buoy, another
cable was taken from our stern to the quay; and, while the first was
being gradually slacked out, our donkey-engine slowly coiled up the
second cable and drew the vessel stern foremost to her berth.

However, with all these precautions, we did not make fast without some
accident. One of our passengers, an Austrian naval officer, who was
contemplating the proceedings through his eyeglass, got in the way of a
warp, when it tautened suddenly, caught him in the middle, and
projected him into the sea. Great excitement ensued, but he was soon
rescued by a soldier on the quay, who hooked him up with his bayonet.

We were accompanied on shore by a fellow-passenger whose acquaintance
we had made, a smart-looking young Turkish officer of gendarmerie. He
was an Albanian Christian, a native of Scutari, and had just returned
from a journey to Trieste. As this was the first time he had left his
native country, he was amazed and pleased at all he saw; but he had
evidently formed no high idea as to the moral character of the
Europeans. The amazing wickedness of the Triestines was a theme on
which he harped throughout the journey.

Pola is the head-quarters of the Austrian navy; there were three or
four of their finest vessels there at the time. We observed that the
proportion of officers and men to the number of ships was very great.
Our Turk came with us to visit the remains of the Roman amphitheatre,
one of the finest in Europe. The Romans he had never heard of, but had
been informed on good authority that the massive edifice before him had
been constructed in one day by the devil. We all had supper together on
board this evening, and had a most amusing conversation with our new
friend over our coffee and subsequent pipe and grog. He could speak and
write Turkish, French, Italian, Albanese, and Sclave.

We naturally wished to learn from him what sort of a country Albania
was, whether travelling was comparatively safe, and how we ought to set
to work.

"Albania is perfectly safe," he said; "safer than Trieste. There are no
banditti; you can walk alone from Scutari to Salonika, and be treated
as a friend by all, especially as you are an Englishman."

What our friend understood by "perfectly safe" was not exactly what a
timid tourist would understand by the term. On being questioned as to
the police system, he replied: "Well, it is not in an exceedingly happy
condition just now, for having received no pay or rations for fourteen
months, the gendarmes have struck work."

"And how do you get on without them?"

"Oh, just as well as with them; we Albanians do not require police; we
understand what is just, and can take the law into our own hands; the
police always were useless. In a wild country like ours, a criminal--a
murderer, for instance--can always escape them; he takes refuge in the
mountains, and the gendarmerie know better than to follow him there. If
we trusted to them, there would be no security for life or property;
but this is how we manage. If, for instance, a man murdered me and
fled, my family are bound to revenge my death; if they cannot find the
murderer himself, they kill one of his family."

"Does not this system lead to a good many lives being sacrificed over
one quarrel?"

"It acts well as a rule. But, as you say, it does lead to some
bloodshed. Just before I left Scutari a man shot another's pig, which
had strayed into his field; the owner of the pig immediately walked
over to the other man's house and blew his brains out, which he was
bound to do as a man of honour; then a relation of the slain man shot a
relation of the other behind his back as he strolled into the bazaar,
totally unaware of the existence of any quarrel between the families."

"Was that looked upon as fair play?"

"Everything is fair in our blood feuds. This very man was himself shot
a few days afterwards as he was coming out of a mosque, by the brother
of the man he had killed, who was waiting for him behind a wall.
Several others on both sides were killed in this pig dispute, till at
last the two families met and settled the matter amicably, and without
dishonour to either party, for it was shown that an equal amount of
damage had been inflicted on both families--ten men of one having been
slain; nine men, one woman, and a pig of the other."

Our friend told us that he himself had a blood feud on hand, and had to
keep a very sharp look out.

I noticed that his hand was bandaged, and inquired how he had hurt it.

"Oh," he said, "I scratched it with my sabre, and so poisoned it. I
have enemies at Scutari, and some months ago expected to be murdered
any day; but, determining to kill some of them first, when the time
came poisoned my sabre with a strong animal poison. I accidentally
scratched myself with it one day. Luckily the poison was nearly rubbed
off by that time, but as it was it very nearly took me out of this
world."

Many other little anecdotes we extracted from our friend, all
illustrative of the extreme security of Albania. Among other things we
were warned never to allow people to walk close behind us; not to pay
excessive attention to the lady portion of the population--that being
the most frightful crime that one can be guilty of in that country.

We played at dominoes, drank grog, and discoursed on various topics
till a late hour; then retired for the night, during which the old
vessel steadily steamed her eight knots an hour.

The Austrian Lloyd Company are bound, by their contract with the
Government, not to run their vessels at a higher speed; why, no one
could inform us.

On awakening the next morning we found ourselves moored to the quay of
the fine old town of Zara. We went on shore with our new friend, who,
by the way, was saluted by the Austrian officers and soldiers when they
observed his uniform--an honour which we afterwards found was rarely
paid him by his own men in Scutari, in the present discontented
condition of the half-starved Turkish soldiery. We had time to visit
the monuments of this interesting old Venetian fortress, the fine
churches, and the magnificent cathedral, built by Doge Dandolo.

The streets are narrow, sewerless, and malodorous; but would be the
delight of artists. The natives wear a particularly picturesque
costume, but are exceedingly dirty, and not prepossessing in features.

I had somehow or another formed an idea that as we advanced southwards
into the more uncivilized countries of Herzegovina, Montenegro, and
Albania, we should find that the population, as it became more and more
artistic in appearance, would at the same time become more and more
dirty and villanous-looking. Seeing how very nasty these Dalmatians
were, I expected to come across something very horrible indeed later
on. In this I must say that I was agreeably disappointed; for all these
reputedly barbarous races are far more intelligent, clean, and
handsome, than the dull and in every way objectionable Morlak of
Southern Austria, who much resembles his brother the Bulgarian.

One of the natives of this district writes thus of his countrymen:--

"For every article of necessity and comfort Dalmatia is dependent on
other countries. There is clay, but no potter; quartz, but no
glass-work; timber, but no carpenter; lime, but no kiln; coal, but no
mine; iron, but no furnace; rags (plenty of them), but no paper-mill."

These words, written some years ago, are almost true of the present
day. The wretched condition of the country is partly due to the régime
of the Venetians, who got what they could out of it, but did little for
the improvement of the people. The greater portion of the territory was
acquired by Austria from Venice in 1798.

But though the Government has established schools, and a university at
Zara, and done much in many ways to ameliorate the condition of things,
Dalmatia is still in a very backward condition. The natives look with
suspicion on, and are far from grateful for, the benefits they receive
from the State. The Austrians are cordially hated by both the Sclavs
and the Italians. These two latter, again, are very jealous of each
other. So great is the mutual dislike, that it is rare to find even two
fellow-townsmen of the different races on anything like friendly terms.

To a casual observer, at any rate, it seems that Austria has no very
secure footing in this country, and has effected a mere military
occupation of it.

The Government does its best to conciliate the people. They are lightly
taxed, and have been allowed to retain many important rights and
privileges.

The population has been disarmed by the Austrians, who are now carrying
out the same policy in the Herzegovina and Bosnia--their lately
acquired possessions.

Thus the Morlaks--who, like their neighbours in the Turkish provinces,
were wont to stalk about bristling with pistols and knives, even in the
towns--are now obliged to be contented with enormous red ginghams,
which have become quite a feature in the national costume.

Luckily for Austria, three-quarters of the population are Roman
Catholics, those of the Greek Church being the minority; thus Russian
intrigue, though it is carried on by numerous agents, does not effect
much harm among the Sclavs of these districts.

After having visited the many objects of interest in this old Venetian
city, and having tried and highly approved of the Rosoglio and
Maraschino, for the manufacture of which it is now celebrated, we
returned to our vessel, and were soon once more steaming down the
ever-changing coast to the southwards.

The sky was obscured by clouds and the wind was strong; but there was
little sea, for the islands were so frequent that we but rarely caught
a glimpse of the open Adriatic. The shores, both of continent and
island, were very stony and barren. There seemed to be no cultivation
or any sign of life for miles. I should say that there must be
thousands of uninhabited islands along this coast.

We had for some time been silently smoking our cigarettes on the
bridge, observing the desolate panorama as it swept by us, when our
Turk suddenly broke in with--

"Why do not you English, who are so strong, and take a part so often in
other people's quarrels, fight for yourselves and recover what
Buonaparte took from you."

I was obliged to confess that I did not quite understand to what he was
alluding.

"Ah, your countrymen never confess to a defeat. But tell me, is not
England a triangle in shape?"

"It is true."

"So I have been told. Now how long is it since she has been of that
form?"

Not being able to give any reply to this difficult query, he
enlightened my ignorance.

"I have been told that when Buonaparte made an alliance with the
Russians and the Italians, he beat England, and each of the three
powers took from her a slice--thus leaving her triangular in shape. Is
it not so?"

While he spoke he drew an imaginary diagram in the air with his sabre,
illustrative of this unfortunate episode in our history. Our friend was
utterly unaware that England was surrounded by the seas. His idea was
that our empire consisted of an extensive region bordering on Russia,
of which India was a province.

He was very anxious to learn if there were Sclavs in England; whether
Queen Victoria was a Sclav; whether the English did not assume a
blackish-brown complexion in the winter, in consequence of the
perpetual fog. I tried to enlighten him on some of these matters, but I
do not think he placed any credence in a word I said, though he was too
polite to exhibit his incredulity.

With the assistance of the donkey-engine we brought up alongside the
quay of Sebenico, and there remained for about half-an-hour. I find in
my diary this one note: "Sebenico does not smell nice." This was a
first impression.

On my return journey I visited this town, and well worthy of a visit it
is.

It is built on the slope of a steep mountain, and rises from the
water's edge in an amphitheatre of quaint old buildings, a colossal
Venetian fortress dominating all. The approach to it from the sea is
remarkable. A labyrinth of narrow channels between rocky islands
affords a difficult access to the shipping.

The Canale de St. Antonio--the one by which the steamer enters the
port--is in one place so shut in by the precipitous islands, that it
seems as if one could touch either side of it from the deck with
outstretched arm. The streets are narrow, dirty, and steep; but some of
the houses are very lofty and quaint, and all are impressed with the
solemn and grandiose character of the Venetian style.

We steamed on through the afternoon, which was wild and stormy. The
setting sun lit up the lofty and gloomy mountains of the Herzegovina,
which far away inland towered above the lesser intervening heights,
with a lurid light, while fierce gusts, driving black clouds before
them, swept down the ravines till they struck our vessel in violent
squalls which heeled her over, and sent the white spray hissing over
the small rocky islands which jutted out everywhere to leeward of us.

[Illustration: SPALATO.
              _Page 26._]

At nine o'clock this evening we were alongside the quay of Spalato.
Bidding adieu to our friends on board, and promising our Turk to visit
him at Scutari, we threw our baggage into a small boat manned by some
ragged and noisy ruffians, whose language was so rapid and so horrible
in sound, that I could not but admire them for their evident ability to
understand each other, and inwardly formed a higher opinion of the
intellectual capacity of this branch of the Sclav race at any rate.



CHAPTER III.

Dalmatian _cuisine_--The Emperor Diocletian--Remains of the old
palace--We make two friends--Wines of Dalmatia--Customs of the
Morlaks--A visit to Salona--A great fête--Costumes--Morlak singing.


On landing we were at once pounced upon by the Custom-house officers,
who could not quite make out our semi-military appearance. Our baggage,
however, was not examined, so our cartridges once more escaped.
Re-shouldering our guns, and handing over our blankets and saddle-bags
to a quay-loafer, we marched off to the Hôtel de Ville, which we were
told is the best inn in the town. A very fair one it turned out to be,
consisting of the first and second floor of a portion of a large
desolate-looking colonnaded square, recently built by a company, whose
shareholders I believe will willingly part with their shares at the
price of issue, for they have not met with much encouragement to
continuing their work. The telegraph and post-offices, and the
restaurant of the hotel, at present monopolize the completed portion of
the square. On the other unbuilt side is a sulphur spring, not
sufficiently appreciated by the faculty of Spalato.

The restaurant adjoining the hotel is a fair one for this country, but
the cuisine of Dalmatia can hardly be recommended. The dishes presented
to the traveller are not exactly German, nor are they exactly Italian,
but combine the worst properties of the two without any of the good. On
the other hand, the rooms in this hotel are very clean and comfortable,
and the charge at this, as at all other restaurants on this coast, is
considerably lower than in most countries of Europe. Having dined, we
strolled through the town, whose nightly aspect we did not think very
much of.

Instinct led us to the principal café. It is in the piazza in the
centre of the town, and is greatly frequented by the Austrian officers
as well as by the local civil swells. The open-air part of the café is
a pleasant arbour of sub-tropical creepers. Here we smoked our
cigarettes, and sipped our iced coffee for an hour or so, amused with
the quaint costumes of the people and the lofty houses around us,
dating from the old Venetian days, as their elegant porticoes and fine
carvings plainly showed. On the wall of one house near the café there
are some very curious religious carvings. Eve presenting the apple to
Adam is very comic.

Spalato is a town at which one could easily pass a considerable time in
most enjoyable loafing. The old Venetian city is built within the
extensive walls of the palace of Diocletian, but the modern town has
spread considerably beyond their limits. These ancient walls formed a
useful defence against the piratical hordes that infested this coast
during the Middle Ages, till the strong arm of the Venetian Republic
swept the Adriatic of these freebooters, whose detestable excesses were
the terror of the whole maritime population.

Spalato is built on a promontory formed by the deep inlet on whose
shores is situate the old Roman city of Salona, while the large islands
of Brazza and Bua shelter the harbour from on-shore winds.

It was to this pleasant spot that the Emperor Diocletian, himself a
native of Salona, retired in the year 305, when, weary of empire, he
resigned the imperial purple. On the sea-shore, a few miles from
Salona, he built himself this magnificent palace, in which he passed
the remainder of his life without care or regret, taking great pleasure
in cultivating his garden with his own hands.

The outer walls form a square, each side of which is nearly a mile in
length. These to a great measure still exist, but the modern houses
built against and _into_ them have by no means improved their
appearance. The Cathedral of Spalato was the Pagan Temple which
Diocletian constructed in the centre of the area, and is a very
symmetrical building. Many of the columns, and also the Sphinx, which
ornament the palace, were brought here from Constantinople and Egypt.

We were awakened early the next morning by a knock at our door. On our
replying to it a pleasant-looking stout gentleman entered smiling, and
introduced himself to us as Marco Bettoni, _capitaine de long cours_.
He had heard of the arrival of two Englishmen in the town, so as he
spoke English himself, he had come to offer his services to us. A very
useful and agreeable companion he proved to be. The Dalmatians are
excellent sailors, and these retired _capitaines de long cours_ form a
most respectable element in the population. Most of the _Podestas_ or
mayors of the small villages are of this class. They are always men
who have knocked about the world, and are happy to assist travellers
in every way.

After breakfast we visited some of the lions of Spalato, in the
company of our new friend. The architecture of the narrow streets,
with their lofty balconied houses, and the ever-recurring Lion of St.
Mark carved over the archways, constantly reminded one of the old
Republic. We went to the "Porta Aurea"--the "golden gate," which
pierces the outer wall of Diocletian's palace from the north. I sat
down under a blazing sun, and managed to make a sketch of it. During
the process I was surrounded by a crowd of admiring Morlaks. When the
marble columns which supported the arches were in their places, it
must have been very beautiful. The ancient Temple of Jupiter, now the
Cathedral of Spalato, was within the precincts of the palace. It is
now surmounted by an elegant _campanile_, which was constructed after
its conversion into a Christian church. From the summit of this--200
feet above the sea--there is a charming view over the town, the
harbour, and the islands of the Adriatic beyond.

The interesting remains of this town have been so well described by
former travellers, that I will not here enter into them. Suffice to say
that Spalato offers at every step some curious relic of early Christian
as well as Pagan days, not to mention the fine Venetian buildings. In
the architecture of the palace as well as in the statuary brought from
Salona, and stored here in the public museum, one can detect the
transition state of art, and the falling off of the old classic beauty
of form.

We were introduced by our new friend to a very pleasant French
gentleman, who was of great service to us during our stay. M.
Vigneau was an _Ænologue_, a native of Bordeaux, and had come
hither to be manager of a company recently started at Spalato, for the
production of superior classes of wines. The natives of the country
were quite ignorant of the science, their wines being rough and
unpalatable--surcharged with tannin. But, under the scientific and
skilful direction of M. Vigneau, it has been proved that Dalmatia is
capable of producing excellent wines, emulating the finest vintages of
his native land. Other companies have since his attempt been started
for the like purpose, but as far as I could judge the "_Société
Ænalogue de Dalmatie_," as the original Spalato undertaking is called,
produces the largest variety and most excellent quality of wines.

We visited the buildings of the company. It was the vintage season, and
huge butts were brimming with the ripe fruit outside the door. In the
yard two employés sat at a table purchasing the grapes, as picturesque
Morlaks--men, women, and children--bore in the purple spoil in sacks
and baskets of every size. These were weighed, and the little bundles
of money were handed over to them in return. Now and then a basket
would be refused, the quality of grape being inferior; when the wild
people would enter into a fierce discussion with many gesticulations,
but were peremptorily told to move on, as their noise was useless. The
Morlaks are civilized enough to know some of the tricks of trade spoken
of by the "divine Artemus" as common among the American manufacturers
of apple-sauce, the difference being that in the one case the bottom of
the vessel is filled with sawdust and in the other with stones.

We indulged in a feast of grapes at M. Vigneau's, and then adjourned to
his spacious cellars to try his various wines. The huge casks, which
contain enough of the rich fluid to drown the largest elephant, had
been brought in sections from Bordeaux--the natives being incapable of
constructing them. The wines we tasted were exceedingly good, and the
different varieties might pass for the best burgundies, sherries, and
ports; there is also an excellent light wine. These wines are improved
by a sea voyage. They are cheap, and need only to be introduced into
England to be appreciated and widely consumed. Indeed I am sure many of
us have unknowingly drunk and enjoyed them, for M. Vigneau told me that
not only were large quantities exported to Italy, but--especially since
the Phylloxera plague had broken out--also to France, to the Bordeaux
district itself, where doubtlessly they are blended with the native
product and sent to us under many fair-sounding Châteaux brands.

The Sclav names which the Spalato wines bear are not musical. M.
Vigneau gave me all the details and prices. These wines could be sold
in England, after paying all transport and custom expenses, at a very
low rate indeed. The company is sufficiently old for us to have tasted
and approved some choice vintages that had been twelve years or so in
bottle, and very excellent they proved.

M. Vigneau had spent a few years in England, and speaks English very
well. So between him and the kindly old sea-captain, we did not feel
ourselves at all abroad in Spalato. Without them we should not have got
on, for our knowledge of Italian was limited, and of Sclav we knew but
the names for bare necessaries. At Spalato we had many opportunities of
observing the manners and customs of the mixed population of the
Dalmatian coasts.

The native Italians and Sclavs keep very much to themselves. There is
no society of any kind, and I cannot say I was in any way favourably
impressed with them. The Austrian garrison, officers and men, on the
other hand, created a very favourable impression. There is none of that
swagger and bounce which is too often displayed by the troops of some
nations we know of when in the midst of a subject alien and hostile
race. The officers are very gentlemanly-looking men, and the Hungarians
who were quartered here struck one by their jovial and kindly manners.

The Austrian officers much dislike service in this province; it is the
Siberia of Austria. The people do not speak their tongue, and will not
mix with them; and the upper classes studiously insult them, as far as
they dare. The Morlaks or Sclav peasantry are an interesting race, but
not much to be admired.

They are from all accounts great thieves and liars, and more backward,
I should say, than any people in Europe. They have no desire for
improvement. Any one who endeavours to introduce some new manufacture
or industry among them is treated with suspicion; every obstacle is
studiously thrown in his way.

The costumes of the male Morlaks are very picturesque, varying in
different districts. They wear the baggy trousers coming to the knee;
the embroidered vest and red sash of the East. In most parts the
head-dress is a skull-cap, flat at the top, sometimes red; generally
the colour is indistinguishable for the accumulated grease of years.
They wear _opunkas_ on their feet. These are sandals or slippers,
with turned-up toe; made of rough thongs of oxhide; they are tied to
the foot with straps of the same material. The Morlak is always
accompanied by his long pipe with its red clay bowl. He is also
addicted to smoking cigarettes through brightly painted wooden tubes
fully three feet in length. The dress of the women differs so much in
districts that it is impossible to give anything like a general
description of it; it is not unlike that of the Southern Italians.
They, too, wear the opunka.

The Morlaks have many strange superstitions and customs. To any one who
wishes to see in the life the barbarous manners of the Middle Ages in
all their picturesqueness, a voyage in these countries can be
recommended. However, the Austrians have eliminated one of the most
picturesque, if rather objectionable, features of the good old times.
Hordes of brigands no longer overrun Dalmatia; the vendetta is now
unknown; and travelling, if rough, is unattended with danger; and I may
add that Morlaks, despite their other faults, are exceedingly
hospitable, and will give up their one bed to the travelling stranger.

The women of this race are treated in true Eastern fashion; that is,
not much better than the beasts of burden.

As in the East, those of the higher class rarely leave their houses,
but sit lazily in their chamber acquiring a becoming pallor of
countenance and fatness of limb. A Sclav will not allude to his wife in
conversation without an apology for mentioning so low a thing. "My
wife, excuse me, sir," is the common way of bringing her into a
sentence. As in the East, too, the unchaste woman is regarded with
great abhorrence. What vice there may be has to conceal itself in dark
places, for the old punishment of the stoning is by no means unknown
here. In the towns of Albania, this outward show of morality--for that
is all it really is, just as in the old days, when the virtuous man to
throw the first stone was not to be found--is still more ferociously
demonstrative, cases of guilty parties of both sexes having been torn
to pieces by the mob being of not unfrequent occurrence there.

The following incident happened shortly before our arrival at Scutari.
A Turkish officer of police, who had carried on a flirtation with the
German servant of a foreign consul, was discovered, seized by several
men, and beaten till he fainted with his wounds, and was left by them
for dead.

The next day was Sunday. Hiring a trap, we drove, with our two friends,
along a good road, across a wine-producing country, commanding pleasant
views of sea and mountain, to Salona--the old Roman city--the
birthplace of Diocletian. It is but four miles from Spalato. As we
approached it we saw, some miles off inland, on a precipitous buttress
of the mountain, the ancient and impregnable fortress of Clissa,
commanding the approach to Spalato from the Herzegovina.

Salona is situated on the sloping ground at the head of the deep and
beautiful inlet of the sea, which bears the same name. The ruins have
been excavated, and there are no important remains to be seen, for the
town was thoroughly sacked and destroyed by the Gothic hordes. It was
from Salona, in 544, that Belisarius set out to rescue Italy from
Totila and his Goths. The town had withstood several sieges. Attila
himself is reported to have once captured it. Having for years enjoyed
peace, lulled into a false and fatal sense of security, the Salonites,
the historian tells us, gradually fell into a state of incredible
luxury and sensuality. This was the Sybaris of the East. At last the
day of trial came, and the effete citizens were found to be incapable
of defending their homes against the hardier foe.

The Avars overran Dalmatia in the year 639.

Salona easily fell into the hands of the Barbarians. The sinful city
was plundered and burnt to the ground; and where stood its stately
theatres and temples, there is now but an uninhabited wilderness.

Its site commands a splendid view over the blue gulf, and dark, far
mountains. This day, at this season of the year, when a brown tint was
on the tangled groves, and a purple bloom on the grapes, while a fresh
sea wind sighed through the desolate ruins, the general effect was very
impressive.

Here we wandered a couple of hours or so through vines and brushwood,
the fallen walls of houses, tombs, shattered friezes and columns
meeting us at every turn. Nearly everywhere, on raking off the thin
layer of overlying rubbish, beautiful tessalated pavements are
disclosed to view. The Morlak peasantry crowded round us and sold to
us, at ridiculously low prices, coins of the Diocletian era, vases and
beautiful lacrymals, irridescent and scaling off with age. Several were
melted out of shape by the fires of that fierce sacking more than a
thousand years ago.

The Roman aqueduct which supplied the palace of Diocletian, at Spalato,
with water, is still in very fair repair.

The modern city suffers much from want of water. This necessary has to
be carted in from a long distance.

The restoration of the old aqueduct has been decided on; and to have
come to a decision will suffice the Dalmatians for some years to come.
It is to be hoped that the plan will ultimately be carried out. "The
Spalatans will then have no excuse left for not washing themselves;" so
I said to Mr. Vigneau, innocently. "Oh, you don't know them," said he;
"they will discover that washing opens the pores, and renders them more
susceptible to the _trebesine_ (the fever)."

The source of the _Gindro_, where commences the aqueduct, is well
worthy of a visit. About a mile from Salona--at the head of a wild and
beautiful well-wooded gorge down which this torrent flows--the further
progress of the traveller is barred by a precipitous wall of rock. At
the foot of this wall an enormous volume of ice-cold water rushes out
upwards from an orifice in the rock, filling up a deep, broad pool,
which foams and whirls as the spring spouts up from underneath with
incredible force, forming a dome of water on the surface. There is
something horrible in the Titanic forces and furious whirl, that makes
one dizzy; one cannot look down long. The water overflowing from the
pool partly feeds the aqueduct, which is carried along the slope of the
hill, and partly rushes down the gorge, turning on its way the huge
wheel of a flour-mill.

This mill we visited with M. Vigneau. The enterprising individual who
had started it seemed very disheartened. The latest machinery had been
brought hither at great cost. But this was too great a novelty for the
conservative Morlak peasantry, who resented and fought shy of the
innovation, preferring to grind their corn between two flat stones
picked up in the river bed, as their fathers did before them.

We drove home before sunset, as there was much fever about. There was
not a cottage near here that had not some of its occupants prostrated
by the _trebesine_.

Tuesday, September the 30th, was a great Dalmatian holiday. On foot, on
mule-back, in the rough waggons drawn by diminutive oxen, the peasantry
trooped in. The Morlaks are very fond of feasts. Every other day seems
to be dedicated to some saint or other, who would avenge himself were
he neglected. The working days are few, as M. Vigneau bitterly
complained.

I believe this peasantry still observes several feasts whose origin
dates back to Pagan times.

The holiday gave us a good opportunity of viewing the various costumes
of this country at their best.

Not least quaint were the Jews of Spalato. Some were long-bearded,
solemn-looking old fellows, dressed in the same sombre garb the Jews of
Venice wore when Shylock drove sharp bargains on the Rialto.

The groups that filled the narrow streets were very Eastern in
appearance. The pig-tailed Morlak, clad in his Sunday jacket; the
savage-looking Bosnian Turk, with turban, broad sash, and gay slippers;
the Greek sailors; all had an outlandish appearance, that told us we
were far from home--"from home and beauty" too, for of the latter there
was little to be seen at Spalato. I honestly saw no women who could,
with the grossest flattery, be called pretty, between Trieste and
Montenegro. And what can make one feel so alone in a strange land, as
the absence of fair women.

The Dalmatian Sclavs are unfortunately very fond of raising their
voices in song. A gang of youths would-walk down a street arm-in-arm,
shouting some native ballad. The music and singing of the East is
always of a melancholy character; but never have I heard anything so
dismal as the barbaric dirges of the Morlaks. The song is a sort of
monotonous chant, which has a peculiar querulous complaining spirit in
it; and yet a suppressed and timorous complaining, as of slaves that
had not for centuries known what independence and freedom was.

How different is the song of the free Montenegrin (of the same race as
the Morlak). It is of the same monotonous character, but has a go and
energy in it, inspired as it is with the warlike feats of their heroes
in the present as well as in the past--not a song of regret for some
by-gone greatness, but an exultation in the brave and illustrious now.

Each verse of a Morlak song dies away in a long and sad howl, followed
by a silence, before the next verse is taken up. This produces a
peculiarly depressing effect.

Our arrival was pretty well known all over the town, for strangers are
not frequent, especially Englishmen. The citizens, who could not
conceive any one being mad enough to travel for amusement, especially
in their country, discussed us curiously. M. Vigneau told us he had,
several times each day, to give a long narrative of the lives,
pursuits, &c., of Brown and myself, in order to satisfy the eager
inquirers.

On hearing that we intended to visit Albania, the verdict always was,
"They will not come back"--this with a meaning shrug of the shoulders.

I have, on more than one occasion found, when I have left England for
some unknown and supposed dangerous country, that as I gradually neared
it the reports and accounts of the perils of that land became less and
less alarming. For "distance" lends terror as well as enchantment "to
the view."

In the case of Albania, however, the nearer we approached it the worse
was the reputation of its fierce inhabitants for murder and robbery;
the more earnestly were we warned against travelling in such a
cut-throat region. This was not an encouraging sign. However, the best
plan is ever to go on as far as one can, and believe little one hears.



CHAPTER IV.

Voyage to Cattaro--A Bora--The gulf of Narenta--The Herzegovina--The
island of Curzola--Ragusa--The Bocche di Cattaro--The frontier of
Montenegro--The fortress of Cattaro--Evening promenade--Personal
attractions of the Cattarine ladies--Rough roads--Prince Nikita's
coach--Bosnian refugees--A Bosnian's luggage.


We had been in Spalato nearly a week. The steamers from Trieste did not
bring us Jones and Robinson, so we determined to push on. We bid adieu
to our good friends, who evidently considered our heads doomed to fall
beneath Albanian yataghans, and embarked on October the 2nd at 4 p.m.,
on an Austrian Lloyd, bound for Cattaro, which lies up a long gulf at
the foot of the Montenegrin mountains. There we were to leave
civilization and the sea coast, and commence our inland march. From
Spalato to Cattaro is a forty-eight hours' journey by the steamer. For
the last few days the genial Scirocco, or south-east wind, had been
blowing; but to-day the fierce gusts of the Bora, or north-east wind,
had changed, in a trice, the warm autumn weather to bitter winter.

This wind beats very heavily on the eastern coast of the Adriatic, and
is much dreaded by seamen.

The quaint lateen craft of the country, constructed on such antique
lines, skimmed by us with close-reefed sails--curious sails they are,
many-coloured, and painted with pictures of suns and grotesque saints.
Throughout the wild afternoon and night we steamed on, touching at
Almissa and Macarsca on our way. The next day we steamed up the long,
land-locked gulf of Narenta. The scenery, as usual, was fine, but so
indescribably desolate and barren that the eye soon wearied of it. On
the gulf of Narenta a narrow strip of Herzegovina runs down to the sea,
thus, till that province was acquired by Austria, dividing her
territory in two.

We anchored off a spot called Neoum, which is on this recently acquired
slip, in order to land soldiers and munitions for the troops. Neoum is
a military post recently established by Austria on the bare sides of
the mountain. We landed, and found a barrack, a telegraph station, and
a public-house; these were the only buildings. It is an important
position, however, as being the nearest point to Mostar, in
Herzegovina, to which town the Government is now constructing a
military road from here. Next we touched at the picturesque fortress of
Curzola, on the island of the same name. It is surrounded by grand old
Venetian walls and towers, which rise from the water's edge.

This night we anchored for several hours off Gravosa, the northern
harbour of Ragusa. The latter wonderful old city, perhaps the most
interesting of all Dalmatia, we had time to explore in a rapid way.

There was once a Republic of Ragusa. The fact that it successfully
maintained its independence, when all the surrounding countries had
been acquired by Venice, will testify to the strength of the little
state. The chief street is broad, and contains lofty and noble
houses--residences of the old merchant princes--strong-built, with
elegant balconies and carved porticoes. From this street narrow streets
ascend the mountain side, in steps of granite. Arches are thrown from
house-top to house-top; there are some grand bits for a painter. The
town is paved with broad, flat stones, which gives it a very clean
appearance.

The next was a glorious day. The gentle south wind once more brought
summer back to us, and the lateen-rigged boats again shook out their
reefs, and displayed all their gaudy canvas.

It was early in the day when we steamed through the entrance of the
Bocche di Cattaro.

This magnificent fiord has often been described. It certainly contains
some of the finest scenery in Europe.

The deep gulf winds into the heart of the wild Montenegrin mountains.
At first it is quite six miles in width, then it narrows to a few
hundred yards, then again widens into an extensive lake as the
fantastically-shaped, almost perpendicular masses of bleak rock jut far
out into the deep clear water in rugged promontories, or retire from it
in dark and profound chasms and ravines.

Here and there houses and churches are seen perched on seemingly
inaccessible ledges, thousands of feet above the blue water which
reflects them. There are several small towns on the shores of the
Bocche. Castelnuovo and Perasto have beautiful situations. Pleasant
villages, half buried in olive gardens, are built on the lower slopes
of the hills.

But the first view of that extraordinary fortress, Cattaro, is never to
be forgotten. At the very head of the last arm of the Bocche the dark
blue masses of mountain, here higher and more precipitous than
elsewhere, shut in a deep bay.

  [Illustration: BOCCHE DI CATTARO.
                _Page_ 48.]

More than 4000 feet above, on the ridge, is the frontier of Montenegro--a
country by the sea, looking down on the blue water, yet shut out from it
by its big neighbours.

  [Illustration: WALLS OF CATTARO.
                _Page_ 49.]

A bold bluff of rock, a thousand feet or more in height, slightly
projects from the main mass, perpendicular, bare, cleft into profound
chasms. This extraordinary site has been chosen for the most wonderful
fortress in Europe. Below, on the narrow margin between rock and sea,
is built the town. Along the water's edge is a quay, to which are
moored the beautiful craft of the country. This has been converted into
a pleasant walk, fringed with trees. Behind this is the old Venetian
wall of the city, with its fine solid towers and broad battlements; the
time-darkened stones in places luxuriantly overgrown with the lovely
flowers and creepers of the sunny South. Passing through the
portcullised gate, one enters into a strange, quaint city. The streets
are narrow, the houses lofty, and covered with grotesque carvings. No
carts, carriages, or horses, are permitted to enter the town. This,
by-the-bye, is the case in most Dalmatian cities. The whole is paved
with large flags. Cattaro is of some length, but very narrow, for it is
shut in by the steep cliff which rises immediately from behind it.

Now the walls of the town, after bounding it on the sea front, zigzag
up either side of the bluff I mentioned, till they meet on its crowning
point, a thousand feet above the sea, where stands a formidable-looking
castle.

On observing how they rise and dip, adapting themselves to the little
ravines and irregularities of the rock, one is irresistibly reminded of
the pictures of the great wall of China one was so much impressed with
in the spelling-books of childhood.

Very old the town and fortifications are. No improving Goth has yet
taken aught away from their grotesque grandeur.

It is very difficult to describe the effect of all this, for the
scenery in and around Cattaro is such as is not to be found elsewhere,
quite _sui generis_. The most _blasé_ traveller would utter an
exclamation of surprise when that wonderful fortress suddenly appeared
before him, like some great city of the genii that one has read of in
fairy tale, or seen in some half-remembered nightmare. The high cliff,
with its grey fortress, seems ready to topple down on the town any
moment. Some of the huge masses of overhanging rock have at times been
dislodged, and fallen below; many of these are chained to the mountain,
to prevent this catastrophe.

So lofty and steep are the surrounding heights that Cattaro does not
enjoy much of the light of the sun; the shadows depart late, and soon
set in. But during the few hours in the middle of the day that the
sun's rays do fall on it, this place is like an oven--possibly the
hottest town in Europe.

About four o'clock in the afternoon our steamer was alongside the quay.
We marched off to the Hotel Cacciatore, a very decent place, whose
proprietor is a quaint fellow, with a perpetual smile, who imagines he
can speak French. The restaurant is fair, and frequented by the
officers of the garrison. The custom-house officers did not trouble us,
but the mosquitoes did; so, too, did certain insects that inhabited our
beds.

Brown is one of those unfortunate people whose blood is exceptionally
sweet and palatable to insect life, and to whom, consequently, the
hours of darkness in these lands bring no peace, but sleepless torments
worse than the guiltiest, liveliest conscience could inflict. He
brought with him from England a large packet of insecticide, and every
night, before he retired, made careful preparations to withstand the
usual siege. He was not contented with dusting himself all over so
freely that he set the whole Albanian expedition sneezing for an hour,
but he would also build around his body, on the bed-clothes, an
impregnable rampart of the powder so broad and lofty that the most
active flea would fail to leap it.

The next day was Sunday--a warm and delicious day. We attended the
service, and enjoyed the fine music in the old Venetian church. In the
evening we visited the public promenade on the quay outside the walls,
which was crowded by the population and the country people in their
Sunday best.

At the end of this promenade there is a public garden, and a
_café_ under the ramparts. The marble tables are placed out of
doors, among the bright flowers and creepers. Here we sat lazily
smoking our cigarettes, and listening to the music of the Hungarian
military band that played just in front of us. There is no gas at
Cattaro; the town is lit with petroleum. The band carries its own
lamps. It was curious to see the men troop into the garden, each with a
pole over his shoulder, to which hung his lit lantern. This place is
really delightful on such an evening as this. The scene was exactly
like some great scenic display on the boards of a large theatre--some
dream of fairyland. One could not help half expecting to see some
bright Eastern ballet trip in the next moment. The promenade in front
of the walls was the stage and proscenium. The lovely Eastern night,
the moon hanging over the great hills, the blue waters and the
fantastic shipping, the giant walls and towers, the grand mountains
behind all, the picturesque crowd, and the lively music, all combined
to form a perfect spectacle, magic-like--to say theatrical would be an
unworthy adjective--that I, for my part, never imagined could be found
within a week's journey of practical, ugly London, dear old place
though it is.

Costumes flitted by us as brilliant and strange to the eye as those of
an Alhambra _opera bouffe_. The Morlak, the lithe and bright-eyed
Greek, the turbaned Turk of Bosnia, with glowing robe, solemn and
haughtily-looking; the Montenegrin mountaineer, with his white coat
tied on with silken sash, and richly embroidered vest; the Albanian in
fez, snowy kilt, rough capote, and jacket stiff with gold; the Arnaut,
with his manly tight-fitting dress, stalking through the crowd, looking
the fierce and undaunted savage that he is--all these strolled or stood
in groups, completing the picture with their richly-coloured and varied
costume. The very Europeans, with their sadder-hued dress, formed no
unpleasing foil to these.

The ladies, with unbonnetted heads, over which a shawl is gracefully
thrown in Venetian fashion, their little feet silk-stocked and
slippered, as in the East, above which, just peeping below the black
silk dress, hung a mere suspicion of delicate white embroidered
petticoat, were charming--if not seen too near: an ungallant verdict,
reluctantly wrung from a veracious traveller.

The Hungarian and other Austrian uniforms were also no unpleasing
feature in the throng.

I have just now, and I think on other occasions, used the term European
in contradistinction to the term Dalmatian. I only follow the usage of
the country. I found that Dalmatians and Albanians always spoke of
Europe as if they were quite apart from it. "You Europeans," "you in
Europe," was a common phrase.

The music ceases--the lights are extinguished. We must pass through the
walls by the narrow gate into the city. By night the portcullis is half
lowered, so we have to stoop to go through, as if to bow in obeisance
to the winged lion of St. Mark that is carved in the old stone above.

We walked through the quaint old streets, whose broad clean flags rang
metallically under our feet. The town was now deserted and silent. As
we approached the hotel we stood and listened to one remarkable noise
which can be heard once every hour at Cattaro, and which produces a
very curious and pleasing effect. This is the watchword of the sentries
on the walls. First, the sentinel below at the gate-tower commences,
with the long wailing cry; then the next takes it up, then the next,
and so on, right up the zigzag fortifications to the fortress up in the
mountain, a thousand feet above, each cry fainter than the last. Then,
when the sentinel at the extreme summit has shouted out the word--his
voice almost inaudible to us so far below--it is carried down the other
side of the walls, distincter and distincter again, until it reaches
the starting-point again, and the man posted on the grim old tower just
before us gives out in loud voice the last intimation that all is well.

We loafed about the neighbouring mountains and shores for some days,
waiting to see if those dilatory travellers, Jones and Robinson, would
turn up. We visited the new road now being constructed into
Montenegro--a difficult undertaking to surmount these frightful rocks.
The old road, which is carried in long zigzags from above Cattaro to
the summit of the pass, is calculated to test the wind and muscles of
the pedestrian. It is a very rough affair; and though much labour has
been expended to clear away the larger rocks that obstruct the way, yet
in some places one has to clamber over boulders of considerable height.
The Montenegrins look upon this rough track as being a model high-road.
It is far better than most of the so-called roads of Montenegro and
Albania. But in these countries it is generally difficult to make out
what is intended for road, and what is not. The roughest mule-track of
Switzerland is as good as a great highway here.

The Prince of Montenegro recently paid a visit to the Emperor of
Austria, at Vienna, where he was made very much of. When he was about
to return to his native mountains, the Emperor was much puzzled to know
what would be a fitting present to make to the semi-barbaric despot. At
last he bethought him of a splendid state-carriage, on whose panels
were painted the arms of the principality, and four fine horses.

The Prince was much gratified, and the costly gift was taken by steam
to Cattaro. Here an unexpected difficulty arose. The carriage could not
be taken to Cettinje, for there was nothing that by the greatest
stretch of compliment could be called a carriage-road leading into the
principality. So here, at Cattaro, in Austria, the coach has to remain
until the new road be completed, which will not be for some time to
come. Whether the coach was originally given in anticipation of the new
road, or whether the new road is being constructed for the coach, I was
not able to discover.

On the next day the Duke of Wittemburg arrived here by steamer, on his
way to Cettinje. A deputation of gorgeously-clad Montenegrin notables,
tall, handsome, and straight, armed to the teeth was on the quay to
receive him. These contrasted favourably with the municipal
authorities, who were there for the same object. A German or Italian in
swallow-tail coat, black silk hat, and white kid gloves, in broad
sunlight, is an uncomfortable and unpleasing object.

In the afternoon the guns from the fort above the town fired twice--the
signal that the Trieste steamer was in sight. This time we made certain
that our friends were on board.

So confident were we, that Brown and myself tossed up as to whether
Jones or Robinson should be at the charge of a bottle of maraschino to
be consumed by the quartette.

We were again disappointed. We went on board; they were stowed away in
no part of the vessel. The deck presented a curious appearance; it was
crowded with turbaned Bosnian refugees, who with their wives and
families had deserted their native land, intolerable to them since its
occupation by the Austrian giaours. They were now on their way to the
new lands promised to them by the Porte. This exodus is much more
extensive than is generally imagined. These poor people bore their
grief with true Oriental apathy. They had laid their mats on the decks,
and were squatting on them smoking silently, holding no converse with
the hated giaours around them. The veiled women crouched up close under
the bulwarks in a shrinking manner, while the little nude children
sprawled about anywhere. I need not add that all swarmed with vermin.
They had their Penates with them, of course. Their luggage was rather
scanty.

It was a curious sight to see them trooping out of the vessel, each man
bearing his _impedimenta_--his mat, pipe, and coffee-pot; this was
all. One family had a European portmanteau; this was opened at the
Custom-house. Its contents proved to be--on one side potatoes, on the
other a coffee-pot! The potatoes doubtlessly had been dug from the
little enclosure round the homestead in the old country.

We decided to give up our friends, and start on the morrow for
Cettinje, the capital of Montenegro, for we had wasted some time, and
were anxious to commence our march into the wild interior, and see what
lay beyond that barrier of cloud-capped rock before us.

We found a Montenegrin who owned a small wiry mountain horse. He agreed
for a small sum to guide us, and carry our baggage to the capital.

Before leaving Cattaro we changed some English sovereigns into
swanzickers. This is an old Austrian coin, out of circulation in the
Empire, of the date of Maria Theresa, and as a rule bearing her effigy.
This is the coin particularly affected by the Montenegrins, they always
value anything in these elsewhere obsolete swanzickers.

The Turkish modern coinage is also accepted, but under protest. The
silver Medjidie seems to have a different value in every Montenegrin
village. Austrian modern money or paper they will have nothing to do
with, as a rule. Of course gold of any kind is readily taken.

The value of the English sovereign and French napoleon is well known
all over eastern Europe. I was surprised to find that the humblest
mountaineer in Albania knew the exact change for these pieces. The only
difficulty in changing them lies in the possibility of a village not
being able to muster a sufficiency of the small coin as an equivalent.

Bank-notes are of course useless in these wild countries; but at
Cattaro and Spalato, and other Dalmatian towns, there are
money-changers who will change these with pleasure.

When we were at Cattaro the pound sterling was worth eleven florins,
sixty centimes, or thirty-three-and-a-half swanzickers.



CHAPTER V.

March to Cettinje--The pass across the frontier--Montenegrin
warriors--Cettinje--A land of stones--The Prince's Hotel--Frontier
disputes--The commission--Montenegrin method of making war--A game of
billiards--A Draconic law--A popular prince.


Early on the morning of October the 9th, we commenced our journey in
earnest. We passed through the land-side gate of the town, where our
Montenegrin guide with the horse was awaiting us. Just outside this
gate is the Montenegrin Bazaar, as it is called. It consists merely of
two rough sheds built for the use of the Black Mountaineers, who come
down to sell their produce at Cattaro. Here, too, before they enter the
town, they are obliged to leave their mules and arms.

The latter was found to be a very necessary regulation, as quarrels
which ended in bloodshed used often to occur between the fierce
highlanders and the Cattarines. The two peoples are never on the best
of terms--the former being accused of many a midnight descent into the
valleys, to pillage and carry off all they can lay hands on. But the
present Prince of Montenegro has to a great extent reformed his savage
subjects.

A small Morlak boy was deputed by the Montenegrin to lead the horse,
and guide us to the capital of the land of stones.

He was the proud possessor of a lockless Turkish pistol, which he stuck
jauntily in his sash, and of which he was evidently very proud, for he
would stop every now and then to readjust the formidable weapon.

It is not a six hours' march from Cattaro to Cettinje.

Every few yards of progress up the zigzag path revealed some new view
over the indescribably grand gulf below.

At last we were far above town and fortress. They lay at our feet like
a map. The eye could follow all the windings of the Bocche; and so high
were we above it, that we could look over three successive chains of
lofty mountains. The blue water stretched in three long streaks between
them; while far away, over the furthest range, the blue Adriatic lay
peacefully under a cloudless sky. It was a scene of unparalleled
vastness and magnificence.

The summit of the pass was 4500, the fortress that tops the walls 1000
feet above the sea, by our aneroid.

We had chosen a gala day for our entry into Montenegro--for following
us a mile or so behind, were the Duke of Wittemburg and a numerous
_cortège_ on horseback, on their way to Prince Nikita's palace.

We turned a rocky bluff, and a stone marked the frontier of the huge
Empire and little Principality.

Here, drawn up on the left side of the rough track, two deep, were
about eighty armed, splendid-looking Montenegrins, awaiting to serve as
guard of honour to the duke as far as the capital.

They were magnificent men, giants--all considerably above six feet in
height, and broad in proportion. Each wore the long snowy coat of
Montenegro--tied in with a broad sash. Their vests were red, and richly
embroidered with gold and silk. Heavy plates formed of silver buttons
covered their chests, well calculated to offer good resistance to sabre
cut or bayonet.

They wore the national head-dress, which deserves a special
description.

It is a round flat-topped cap of red cloth; round its side, and just
overlapping its upper surface, is stitched a black band. In a corner of
the red circle thus left at the top is embroidered a semicircle, in
gold thread, into which is also often worked the initial letters of
Prince Nikita's name in Sclav characters. This cap has a symbolical
meaning. When the old Servian kingdom was broken up, and the
South-western Sclavs became subject to strange races, the wild mountain
district of Montenegro alone preserved its independence; so its
inhabitants draped their red caps with black, in mourning for their
enslaved brethren. The corner of gold on the red cloth is meant to
represent Montenegro--the one corner of liberty on the field of
blood--the one free spot of the old Sclav kingdom.

The sashes of these highlanders were stuck full of yataghans and
pistols. Some were the richly-worked pistols of Albania, some the long
Austrian grasser revolvers. This is the favourite small arm of the
Montenegrins, who invariably scrape off the bluing when they purchase
one of these weapons, as they consider it looks dirty, and prefer the
bare steel.

Their guns were the Austrian breech-loading rifles of the old pattern;
very fair weapons, but not to be compared to the Martini-Henrys which
are so common in Albania.

These fine men--their plaids blowing to and fro with the fresh highland
breeze, drawn up here on the savage mountain side, while the strains of
the military band at Cattaro rose up from the abyss beneath--looked
very imposing.

At Neigoussa, a miserable little village, there is a _Khan_. Here we
halted, gave our horses a feed, and sitting on the stone bench outside,
lunched off goat's milk, cheese, and sausage, while the wild people,
all armed to the teeth, crowded round us, and respectfully asked to be
allowed to inspect our arms. His arms are the only things a Montenegrin
loves and takes an interest in. He spends half his time in cleaning and
polishing them. Our guns and revolvers were always much admired, and
their systems had to be carefully explained at every halt. My revolver
was the new army weapon, with patent extractor. This was something
entirely novel to them. How often in this country or in Albania would
some chief, covetous of the _Pushka Inglisi_, bring out a handful of
coin, and say eagerly, "_Coliko_, _gospodiné_," or "_Sa pare_,
_Zutní?_" (How much, sir?), as the case might be. Our little guide had
mastered its system, and would borrow it and proudly dilate on its
excellencies to the men we met on the way.

At this _Khan_--having a large and appreciative audience round
him--he favoured it with a lengthy lecture, with detailed explanations,
followed, as far as I could make out, by a biography of the two English
travellers. Startling it must have been, too, judging from the admiring
and awe-struck way in which the men turned and stared at us during the
narrative.

  [Illustration: CETTINJE.
                _Page_ 65.]

Early in the afternoon we marched down the high-street, or rather the
solitary street, of the smallest capital in Europe.

Cettinje is but a village of sordid huts, above which rises, imposing
in contrast to the other buildings, the palace of Prince Nikita.

My sketch represents the view from the hotel--for Cettinje now
possesses this luxury.

The winged house in the centre is the palace. On the right is the
Bishop's residence and cathedral, if this term can be applied in this
case. In the background is the well-known tower on which the heads of
slain Turks were wont to be stuck on spikes, exposed to the jeers of
the populace. The present Prince has put an end to this practice and
has constructed a wooden belfry on its summit, in which is a large
bell, only rung in cases of great emergency, when the hillsmen are to
be suddenly called in order to repel some more perilous foray than
usual from beyond the border. Cettinje is built in a broad plain, not
over fertile, surrounded by lofty hills. This is not the richest plain
in Montenegro; but considering what a desert of stones this country for
the most part is, it appears a very well favoured spot indeed to the
mountaineers.

The legend says that the Almighty, when he distributed stones over the
earth, accidentally upset the bag which contained them over Montenegro.
It truly looks like it--a more desolate and barren region it is
difficult to find: a desert of broken masses of limestone piled one on
the other in fantastic heaps. Its character is expressed in the names
given it by its neighbours. Montenegro in Italian, Karatag in Turkish,
Tchernagora in Sclav, all have the same meaning--The Black Mountain.

As a Montenegrin told me, "This is a poor, rocky country of ours: we
produce but two things--fighting men and flea-powder."

This insecticide of Montenegro, made of a certain rock-plant, is
renowned all over the East, and is largely exported. It is very
efficacious, and well bears out the dogma so impressed upon us in our
youth, that bountiful Providence ever finds the antidote where she
gives the evil. "The nettle and the dock grow side by side."

The hotel is the finest building in the capital after the palace. It
belongs to the Prince, who, observing that inquisitive tourists were
beginning to visit his realm, bethought him of this good speculation.
He has placed a sergeant of his army in it as manager.

On entering it we were ushered into a comfortable room, not by a
smiling chamber-maid, but by a gigantic barbarian bristling with arms.

We sat down and rested for an hour, discussing our plans.

Here we were at last, in the capital of the war-like little State of
which the world has heard so much of late--a State which has been
belauded far and wide; a State whose fierce sons Mr. Gladstone speaks
of in such warm terms, as very far the bravest, noblest warriors of
modern Europe; a State which has for so many hundreds of years
successfully withstood the Turk in many a heroic battle; but which now,
spoiled by too much praise, petted by the rest of Europe, swollen with
pride, dreams of aggrandizement at the expense of Turkey, and nurses
vast and ambitious projects, in which the central idea is--Cettinje the
capital, Prince Nikita the king, of a vast confederacy of the Southern
Sclavs.

The Austrian occupation of Herzegovina and Bosnia was naturally very
displeasing to the Montenegrins, crushing several of their grand hopes.
That Montenegro for years carried on intrigues in the Herzegovina,
incited the Christian population to revolt, and encouraged them to look
forward to the day when they should be subjects of Prince Nikita, is
notorious. The Principality was ever a place of refuge for
Herzegovinian fugitives; and, as my readers know, lent valuable
assistance in that last insurrection which ended in a great European
war.

In the late war Montenegro was very successful, as we all know. Her
troops on several occasions defeated the Turks with great slaughter. It
is true that her foemen were not of the first line, but starving,
shoeless, demoralized Redifs. However that may be, the representatives
of the Powers, at the Congress of Berlin, considering that the prowess
and success of her armies merited some recompense, handed over to her a
large slip of Turkish territory, giving her what she had so long
coveted, a seaport--Antivari.

Her new territory has proved rather troublesome to her, a not unalloyed
good. The inhabitants of it do not approve of being thus
unceremoniously handed over to the hated Karatags, and offered--and
are, I shall have to show by and by, still offering--a formidable
resistance to the Prince's troops. As I am on the subject, I may state
that the wise men at Berlin made a very serious mistake when they drew
a line across the map, to represent the new frontier.

In the first place, whereas it would have been easy to have handed over
lands to Montenegro which are inhabited by co-religionists of hers, who
would have welcomed their new masters, it was thought fit to give her
districts and villages inhabited by the most fiercely fanatical
Mohammedans of Albania. That bloodshed and future troubles would
result, any one who knew the country could have foreseen. I shall have
a good deal more to say on this subject when I get to Albania. The fact
of the matter is, there is no reliable map of this country, so the
representatives at Berlin worked in the dark, confused between the
utterly contradictory description of the region given by Turkish and
Montenegrin envoys.

A good story is told, illustrative of the geographical knowledge of
some members of the congress. A noble English representative was
conversing with one of the Turkish representatives. He had recently
been studying the map of this coast.

"Now," said he, "look here. This little Montenegrin difficulty must be
settled. They want a sea-port; give them one: let them have Cattaro."

"We have no objection to that," replied the Turk with a smile, for he
knew that the port in question belonged to Austria.

The Englishman was delighted. He went straight to his Austrian
colleague. "Ah, the Montenegrin difficulty is settled," he said. "All
is smooth now; the Turks have given in."

"I am glad of that. What, then, is proposed?"

The amusement of the Austrian can be imagined when he heard that the
Turks had no objection to giving up an Austrian fortress to Prince
Nikita.

A frontier commission was sent over last spring to mark out definitely
the new boundary-line. It was composed of course of representatives of
all the Powers interested. I heard, from several people I met, of the
sufferings and difficulties of this much-to-be-pitied expedition. To
draw out any frontier-line based on the instructions they had received
was hopeless.

At last, about two months before our arrival, a melancholy troop might
have been seen descending the rough track that leads from Cettinje to
Rieka. The gates of the heavens were opened. The path was converted
into a foaming torrent. They reached Rieka wet and miserable. The
commissioners then retired to bed and hot beverages, fearful of fever
and rheumatism.

At last a happy thought struck one. "The rainy season is commencing. We
must postpone our labours till next spring. Let us return to our wives
and families."

The English commissioner alone held out, and urged that they should
continue their work now. He told them that the rainy season was a good
two months off yet. In vain; the others had had enough of it; they
threw up the sponge. The commission broke up. What excuse was made to
the several Powers that had sent it out, I know not, but the real cause
was a rain-storm on the Montenegrin hills.

The English commissioner was much admired by the populace, and made
himself by far the most popular of the lot. He was a good foot taller
than any other member of the expedition, and looked like a fine man, as
well as a _diplomat_, for so every one is called here who works for a
foreign government. He was attended, as far as I could make out, by two
smart non-commissioned officers of the line, also big and imposing. One
of these thought it incumbent on him to sport a fez at Scutari, which
at once stamped the English branch of the commission as Turcophil.

We were aroused suddenly by a loud barbaric shout, not much resembling
the cheers of an English crowd.

The Duke of Wittemburg had arrived, so we walked down the high street
to see his reception. The whole of the capital had turned out--a
picturesque mob, every man of which bristled with arms. The Albanian or
Montenegrin never leaves his doorstep without buckling on a very
arsenal of formidable-looking weapons. The women, of whom some were
pretty, mixed freely with the throng. These wear the same sleeveless
white coats as the men do, but no sash ties it in at the waist. Under
this is a many-hued dress or petticoat of thick and rough material,
which falls some six inches or more below the coat. Their legs are
wrapped in shapeless gaiters. They wear the opunka on their feet. They
are fond of stringing small Turkish coins, half-piastres and the like,
with which they ornament their heads and breasts. Some of the necklaces
constructed with the small silver coins are really very pretty.

About 200 men or more were drawn up along the road-side, near the
palace, who fired a salute as the _cortége_ arrived. Some Montenegrin
nobles, in their extravagantly gorgeous dress, mounted on small wiry
horses, rode hither and thither, giving orders to the men. Fine
specimens of guerilla chieftains they were, all of great height,
handsome, and sinewy.

Very characteristic of this country was it to see the men fall into
their places. A gun was fired--the signal that the duke and his party
had been sighted in the pass. Then all down the high-street you might
see tobacconist, leather merchant, and baker, leap from his counter or
leave his work, seize his rifle--always at hand, and always loaded--and
run down to the palace gate, where he would take up his position with
his fellows in the line. The discipline seemed rather slack, but the
strict discipline of a European army would be useless for these men,
trained to fighting from their childhood as they are, and who never or
rarely descend to the plain to join battle with regular troops, but
fight behind the rocks and stones they know so well.

Montenegro has no regular paid army. Every man is a soldier in time of
war. Prince Nikita telegraphs his orders to the various _Voyades_
or chieftains, and each of these calls out the fighting men of his
district. It requires but little time to mobilize these wild forces.

There is no commissariat to be organized, no heavy transport train.

Each man buckles on his belt of cartridges, throws his plaid over his
shoulders, seizes his rifle, and stalks out of his door, ready for the
campaign. The women take the place of the commissariat. Each man's
wife, or mother, or sister, as the case may be, is his commissariat.
The women come and go between home and camp, bearing provisions and
ammunition. For the particular nature of the service required of the
Montenegrins this system is perfect; for they never carry war beyond
their frontiers, and the distance between home and the front is never
very great. No less hardy than the men, the women here are surprisingly
active and strong, and walk nimbly across these fearful mountains with
incredibly heavy burdens on their backs.

We dined at the table-d'hôte of the Prince's hotel to-day, in very
aristocratic company.

The highest officers of the little State are regular _habitués_ of
the hotel dinner.

We sat down with the court painter--a young Ragusan who had travelled
in America and France, and spoke a curious English, with a half
foreign, half American accent, freely larded with Yankee idioms; our
landlord; the Secretary of State, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, and
the Prince's adjutant.

The latter is a handsome young fellow, a cousin of the Prince, and with
him has been educated at the Lycée St. Louis le Grand, at Paris. All
the grandees were in full Montenegrin dress, bristling with pistols and
yataghans; for in Montenegro the men do not put by their weapons when
in a friendly house, as is the case in Albania.

The conversation turned on politics. Mr. Gladstone, of course, was
their hero. They were all well acquainted with his pamphlet, which has
been translated into their tongue. The hatred they expressed for Lord
Beaconsfield was intense. They were by no means reserved in the terms
of their abuse.

There was one thing that excited their astonishment to a great degree.
"You Englishmen," said one, "Christians--civilized--a great people! How
comes it that you allow a Jew to govern you?"

Seeing that we were not quite of one mind with them, and were not such
great admirers of Holy Russia as were they, they politely turned the
conversation.

We then got on the subject of the perpetual wars on the Turkish
frontier, which in ferocity and romantic incident excel the old feuds
of our Northern border-land.

A man happened to enter the room while we dined. Our landlord
introduced him to us as a very brave fellow, who had cut off
twenty-three heads in one battle of the late war, and who, in
consideration of his prowess, had received a medal from the hands of
the White Czar.

From cut-off heads and noses we got on the subject of Prince Nikita.
His praises were loudly sung. This autocrat is greatly beloved by his
people. He is a handsome man, tall and powerfully built; married to a
very lovely Montenegrin. That the Prince has done much for his country
is certain. He has succeeded in abolishing many of the more barbarous
customs of his subjects.

Quarter is now given in war by the Montenegrins; and though the
mutilation of captured and dead foemen is practised as of old, yet the
Turkish heads are no longer bought by the bishop prince at so much a
head, to be exhibited on the tower which overlooks the capital.

In the good old times, if you paid a friendly call on the late
Metropolitan, a genial kind old gentleman, it was quite a common thing
to have your conversation and coffee interrupted by the unceremonious
entrance of some wild fellow staggering under the weight of a heavy
sack. "Ah! good, good, my son!" the old prelate would say, with
sparkling eyes. "How many of them?"

The man would then empty the bag on the floor. Its ghastly contents
would be numbered, and the price of blood paid over. The heads would be
raked up again and carried off to the tower, then the conversation
would be quietly resumed where it left off.

Brigandage is now unknown in Montenegro, for the Prince has done all he
could to make his country respectable and of good fame throughout
Europe.

His subjects have the reputation of being great pilferers.

The Draconic laws of the country punish this offence with hanging. The
Prince has lately mitigated the penalty to whipping. In the eyes of his
children this is a still more horrible punishment.

A whipped Montenegro is worse than dead--disgraced--outraged--an
outcast on the earth. Many who have been condemned to the whipping have
been known to fall down at the Prince's feet and pray to him for
mercy--for death--death with torture, rather than the great infamy.

A Montenegrin whipping is no joke; so severe is it, that death often
follows the punishment.

I must say, in justice to this people, it is not on that account that
the penalty is so dreaded. For like his neighbour the Albanian, the
Montenegrin is indifferent to death or physical suffering. He is indeed
perfectly brave.

Dinner completed--a much better dinner, I may add, than any Dalmatian
hotel can afford--we retired to the adjoining café, in which was a very
inferior billiard-table. The room was full of armed Montenegrins,
smoking and raki-drinking, a wild-looking crew. It is to be feared that
so civilized a luxury as a café and billiard-table must lead many young
Montenegrin gentlemen into dissipated habits.

Here--playing together for pots of Austrian beer--were the Minister of
Finance, the Prince's adjutant, the innkeeper, the postman, and the
pot-boy. In what metropolis, even of the most democratic republic,
would one meet with such fraternizing equality as in this little
absolute despotism of Montenegro? It was an exceedingly funny sight.
All the players were terribly in earnest--quiet and stern over their
game.



CHAPTER VI.

The occupation of a Montenegrin gentleman--The public library--Prince
Nikita's prisoners--Albanian _versus_ Montenegrin--A Montenegrin
loan--The Prince as a sportsman--The museum--The hospital.


The next morning we rose betimes, to visit the lions of the Montenegrin
capital.

It struck us, as it strikes most travellers in this country, that the
favourite occupation of a Montenegrin in time of peace is to swagger
about in peacock fashion in conspicuous places where he is likely to be
seen, proud of his fine dress and splendid weapons, which he sticks
ostentatiously in his silken sash. The women do work hard here, but I
have never seen a Montenegrin of the sterner sex demean himself by any
labour. They are all gentlemen, in the good old sense of the word. They
can't do any work, and wouldn't if they could.

There is no industry of any kind in this country. Their embroidered
robes, their metal work, their saddlery, all come from Albania, or are
here worked by emigrants from that province.

The Black Mountaineers have many virtues, but, _pace_ Mr. Gladstone,
industry is not one of them.

How they manage to procure their expensive get-up often puzzled me.
True, all the riches of the country are on the not over-clean backs of
the inhabitants.

Miserably poor the common people are. A bad season, as this one has
been, equals in horror and suffering even what Ireland has just
experienced. Yet a Montenegrin, be he starving, can always manage to be
well armed, and often gay with gold embroidery.

We met a string of women, some by no means ill-favoured, bearing
building materials--wood, bricks, and the like--on their broad
shoulders. They had brought these all the way from Cattaro. As all the
luxuries, and many of the necessities of life, have to be brought up
that frightful path on the backs of the fair sex, Cettinje is by no
means a cheap place to live in. It made my eyes open to learn the cost
of a feed of hay for one's horse.

We walked up the high street, till we reached an institution of which
the natives are very proud--the public library.

This was but a small room. The books were few in number, all in the
Sclav tongue. I was surprised to find the chief Russian, German,
French, and Italian journals lying on the table. There was a _Standard_
and _Illustrated London News_ of as recent a date as September the
27th.

The Prince, who of course is consulted as to what publications are to
be admitted into his realm, has curiously enough selected from our
daily papers the one that, above all others, takes a view of general
European politics diametrically opposed to that of himself and his big
ally in the North.

The next object of interest we visited was the prison. Imagine a
courtyard open on the street, generally, I believe, unguarded. Here
all offenders against the law squat on the ground, or stroll about as
they like. They are allowed to receive their friends, who bring them
little luxuries. A most happy-go-lucky sort of a prison, and very
characteristic of the country. These prisoners, were they so inclined,
could escape in a moment. They never attempt such a thing. They are
ordered to remain there and consider themselves prisoners for so many
days, and there they stay, smoking patiently till their time is up.

In so small a country as Montenegro, it is hardly an exaggeration to
say that everybody knows everybody. The flight of a prisoner would be
telegraphed to every village--he would soon be re-captured. For so
great is the love and fear entertained by this people towards their
Prince, that none would venture to shelter or assist a runaway from his
prison. Again, to fly across the frontier is a plan few would care to
resort to. The Montenegrin loves his country too much to desert it, and
is too much disliked by his neighbours to expect to be by them received
with open arms.

The Prince had occasion to send an important message to Cattaro one
winter. Heavy snow rendered the path dangerous--almost impracticable.
So, as it was a pity to risk the life of an honest man, a criminal
from the prison was called out, and ordered to carry the letter to
the Austrian fortress, and return immediately. No one for a moment
suspected that the man, having regained his liberty, would stay away
for good. Indeed, he carried out his mission safely, and returned
within two days.

While we were lunching with the grandees in the hotel, several loud
explosions, succeeding each other in rapid succession, shook the house
to its foundation. We were told that the noise proceeded from the new
road to Cattaro, where the rock is being blasted with dynamite. We went
out to see the sight. The plain at the back of the hotel was crowded
with groups of men, women, and children, who seemed pleased and excited
at the spectacle. Every now and then from the rocky ridge, about half a
mile off, would spout a huge volume of smoke and fragments of rock,
which was followed shortly by a loud roar.

The recklessness of the spectators was amazing. A fragment of rock
would fall in the midst of them occasionally, which called forth peals
of laughter. They would all rush up to see how deep it had forced its
way into the soil. One large piece of rock whizzed by us and buried
itself near the hotel, not ten yards from where we were standing, and
almost between the legs of a little boy. The urchin screamed with joy
(as did all round--the narrow shave was an excellent joke), and threw
himself on the ground to disinter what had so nearly proved his
destruction. The stone was nearly as large as a man's head, and had
buried itself quite eighteen inches in the ground--a sufficiently
formidable missile. We were told that a rock had been projected into
the Prince's palace the other day during the blasting operations, and
that several people had been killed or seriously wounded at different
times. The Black Mountaineer is too accustomed to scenes of carnage to
be anything but reckless and careless of life.

In the afternoon we saw the Prince himself, as he enjoyed the fresh air
of the plain. He was walking in a slow and dignified manner, followed
closely by two attendants. He wore the national costume; over his
shoulders was thrown a magnificent cloak of furs. Whichever way he
turned his head, and he did so often, every one within radius of his
vision immediately uncapped himself, and as instantly resumed his
head-covering when his sovereign's eyes were turned in another
direction again. On no other occasion does the Montenegrin doff his
cap; this mark of respect is due to the Prince alone. He wears it
indoors as well as out.

Here a man salutes his equal with a kiss on the cheek, his superior
with a kiss on the hand or hem of the garment, according to the rank.
Woman, an inferior and subject being, never ventures to do more than
humbly take in her own, even her husband's, hand and kiss it.

We did not have an interview with Prince Nikita, though we had letters
of introduction for him. As he was entertaining the Austrian Grand
Duke, we considered that he had enough distinguished foreigners on his
hands for one time. Later on Robinson and Jones did interview him, and
were much pleased with his frank and genial manner. He is always very
glad to see any strangers that visit his domains, and is anxious that
his endeavours to civilize and ameliorate the condition of his people
should be better known and appreciated by England.

I fear that he and his people have been almost too highly appreciated
of late. Some would persuade us that the Montenegrins are the finest
people in Europe--a race of Demigods. The popular superstition as to
the "unspeakable Turk" is no less absurd than that which exaggerates
the virtues of the noble Montenegrin.

They are brave warriors. They are cunning enough to know that the good
opinion of civilized Europe is worth having. They are intensely
self-conceited; they hate the Turk and the Albanian; they are too proud
of their warlike qualities to care to work; and, in my humble opinion,
will never be more than they are now, picturesque, poor mountaineers,
very inferior in mental capacity to their neighbours the Albanians,
Christian or Mohammedan, and no wit less ferocious and cruel in war.

But Albania has an ill-name among those who know her not. She is the
scapegrace of the Eastern Adriatic--the cause of all troubles
hereabouts, it is said. Montenegro, on the other hand, enjoys a high
reputation.

This is natural. Subsidized or bribed by two of the Powers that be,
petted by the same, she plays a good game, and encourages the
superstition that she is much more virtuous and civilized than the
neighbour whose territory she lusts after.

The unfortunate Arnaut has no Prince Nikita, is robbed by the so-called
government of Turkey when it is strong enough to affect him in any way,
has no friends, but is surrounded by cunning enemies, hungry for his
lands.

Let any disinterested person travel among Montenegrin and Arnaut, and I
think he will conclude, as I did, that the latter is as brave a
warrior--more industrious, more intellectual--in every way of a finer,
nobler race, than his much belauded hereditary foe.

The cares of State lie not heavily on the shoulders of Prince Nikita.
The little work he does do he is very proud of. Europeans that have
conversed with him have come away with the impression that he is the
hardest-working, most conscientious prince in Europe.

I am told that now that he has constructed a very complete network of
telegraph wires throughout his realm, he considers that one thing alone
remains to bring Montenegro up to his standard of civilization.

This is a National Debt. He talks seriously of negotiating a loan in
some of the European capitals, and proposes to hypothecate the timber
of the State forests. We saw a good deal of Montenegro in this and in a
later visit; but had great difficulty in discovering where these fine
forests were. We often made inquiries. "Ah! when you reach So-and-so,
you will see them on your right hand." So-and-so reached, we could
perceive nothing but the eternal stones of the Karatag, made further
inquiries, and were referred to some further spot where we should find
huge primeval forests darkening mountain and valley, the haunts of wild
beasts, where the axe of the woodman had never been heard to resound,
where twenty men linked hand-in-hand would fail to encircle the
gigantic trunks.

We pursued these phantom forests, but never found them, so we
concluded that they existed only in the imaginations of the
Montenegrin financiers.

At last, it is true, on the frontier, near Klementi, we did come
across what might be called forests, but the timber was not large;
and, growing where it did, in inaccessible haunts of the eagle, in the
heart of the wild mountains, it was next to useless.

I should say that if the Principality endeavoured to raise a loan on
the security of her inexhaustible stones, she would be about as
successful as she will be if she seriously tries to hypothecate her
forests.

A rather cynical person, a foreigner, who knows Cettinje well, gave me
an amusing summary of Prince Nikita's method of passing his time. In
the morning he sits in his palace; occasionally sends a message of
little import to some village _Voyade_, through the medium of his
new toy, the "electric telegraph." A few telegrams constitute a hard
day's work for the Prince. Some relaxation is necessary. Sport is
suggested; so off he rides, with his Court, to Rieka, in whose stream
are trout of fabulous size. Here he enjoys a good afternoon's fishing.
With rod and fly? No; but in a more wholesale and princely fashion.
With dynamite! Truly a royal pastime! He is also a poet in his way,
and turns out rather dismal compositions in his native tongue. He is
an affectionate husband, and is wont, on fine evenings, to serenade
the princess with the one-stringed guzla, or violin of Montenegro,
accompanying it with his voice, which he raises in song of his own
making.

A Montenegrin notable, a fine young fellow, quite six feet five inches
in height, kindly offered to be our guide over a Museum of great
interest, which is situated at the further extremity of the town. The
Museum is merely a small, rough-plastered room, but it contains what
is well worthy of visit--a collection of trophies taken from the Turk
in those wars which have raged fiercely and cruelly between the two
races for so many hundreds of years. Here were the spoils of a
thousand battles. Guns of very antique date--curious, ricketty weapons
of Middle Age Europe. Here the long Albanian gun, with silver-inlaid
barrel, and small narrow stock of beautifully carved steel; old
muskets with English Tower marks; Martini-Henry and Winchester rifles
hung on the walls, bringing one down to more recent campaigns. Sabres,
blood-stained and broken; mountain howitzers, tattered standards, some
falling to pieces with age, some rent with ball and shell; the richly
inlaid scimetars of some old Prince of Orient, lances, old
chain-armour, and I know not what besides, lay in confusion all around
us.

In one corner of the wall hung certain trophies which are calculated to
sadden the English visitor. These are the decorations of the slain
Turk. Among the Medjidiés were numerous Crimean medals, English and
French. It was not pleasant to see these here at Cettinje, taken as
they were from the breasts of many a veteran ally of ours in the olden
time--heroes of Kars, may be; soldiers of Williams.

From this melancholy collection we were taken to see the Hospital. The
surgeon, a Herzegovinian by birth, kindly showed us over the
establishment. It was a rough place, but answered its purpose well
enough. The beds were occupied chiefly by those who had been badly
wounded in the late war. The patients were crowded together in a way
that would have much astonished an English doctor. But these hardy,
temperate people, have marvellous constitutions, and the air of
Cettinje is pure and bracing; so no ill has resulted so far, from a
system which would invite pyæmia, and kill off half the inmates of a
London hospital in a week.

We stayed at Cettinje for three days. By that time we had seen enough
of the metropolis, so held a council as to whither next we should bend
our steps.

As Albania, and not Montenegro, was the object of this expedition, we
decided to cross the frontier to Scutari, the capital of North Albania,
where resided an English and other consuls, who could give us useful
information.

We found the best, indeed the only, way of reaching Scutari from here
was to go by land to Rieka, a Montenegrin village on the river of the
same name, and then hire a boat to take us down the Rieka, and across
the great lake of Scutari, to the Albanian capital, which is situated
at its furthest extremity.



CHAPTER VII.

Journey to Scutari--Atrocities--A runaway--The vale of Rieka--A
Montenegrin sailor--The lions of Rieka--The perils of the night.


We left Cettinje early on a sunny, fresh October morning. Our baggage
was strapped on the back of one of the sturdy little horses of the
country, which was led by a diminutive native, not twelve years of age,
yet armed with yataghan and loaded revolver. His father--a tall, fine
fellow, who came to see us off--had been subjected to a horrible
mutilation. His nose had been cut off by the Albanians, taking with it
the whole upper lip, giving him a ghastly appearance. One meets with an
astonishing number of men who have been victims of this barbarous
custom. The Montenegrins are quite as great offenders in this respect
as are their Albanian foemen. Indeed, I came across more mutilated men
in Scutari alone than in all Montenegro.

In the last war, a handsome young Montenegrin was taken prisoner by the
Turks. As he was wounded, he was sent to the hospital at Scutari. Some
of the ladies of the different consulates, who were doing all that lay
in their power to alleviate the sufferings of the wounded, took great
interest in this interesting young man. A curious and most offensive
smell was noticed at his bedside; it increased, day by day, till it
became quite unsupportable. At last its origin was discovered. Rolled
up in his coat, which lay by his side, were eighteen Turkish
noses!--the tokens of his valour in the field.

Our Montenegrin friends were not pleased to hear that we were going to
Albania. "Stay with us," they said; "travel in our country. There is
more to see than in Turkey. You will like us. Those beasts of Albanians
will cut your throats of a certainty, devils that they are." But we
wished to hear the other side of the question, and notwithstanding the
warnings of owe hosts, determined to visit the "beasts" and "devils,"
and form our own opinion about them.

A crowd of wild-looking mountaineers had assembled to see us off. We
had scarcely got under weigh when an amusing incident happened. Our
pack-horse, exhilarated by the fine fresh air of the morning, and a
hearty breakfast, thought that a nice canter across the plain of
Cettinje would be a pleasant way of beginning the day. So off he went
at a canter over the low stone walls, across the potato-fields, through
the dried torrent-beds, in a direction quite opposite to that which his
_compagnons de route_ had chosen. It must have been a ridiculous
sight. First a saddle-bag fell off his back, then he would throw a
blanket off, until our properties lay scattered all over the plain. We
followed as fast as we could with our heavy boots and rifles. We at
last caught him, readjusted our baggage, and once more turned his head
to the mountain, where soon the narrow and precipitous path obviated
all chance of his repeating the performance.

I was smoking a cigarette at the time of the mishap, and swallowed it
by accident as I leaped over a wall. The result was an unwonted silence
and solemnity on my part for the next half-hour or so.

I was much struck by the behaviour of our guide and the other
Montenegrins, when the refractory horse was captured.

English carters, under the same circumstances, would have given vent to
much foul language, and would probably have brutally belaboured the
wretched animal. But these Montenegrins showed no sign of impatience,
said not a word, but quietly repacked the horse and led it off. Turks,
Albanians, Montenegrins, and all Easterns, whatever their other faults,
are very good to the dumb animals that serve them, and never ill-treat
them.

To shoot any animal wilfully, for the mere sake of killing, excites
great indignation in the breast of an Albanian. An English naturalist,
who travelled in their country in order to make a collection of birds,
was looked upon as something not much better than a devil. His very
servant was so horrified at the wholesale massacre of the innocents
carried on by his master, that he gave him notice that he could serve
such a fiend no longer, and left him on the spot. Yet these are the
very people who feel no compunction in blowing your brains out from
behind a fence, in satisfaction of some trifling quarrel.

It is an easy morning's march to Rieka. The rough path first ascends
the rocky ridge which divides the plain of Cettinje from the valley of
Rieka (Rieka = river). When we reached the summit of this ridge a most
magnificent scene opened out before us.

The great valley lay at our feet. From the windy desolate height on
which we stood we saw far beneath the silver stream of the Rieka,
fringed with poplars, winding down a long fertile vale. From the edge
of the water-side meads the great mountains rose sheer up on either
side--of every form and colour--some barren, in curious strata which
shone in the morning sun like successive rings of opal and Parian
marble, others covered with woods, that had already assumed their
autumn tints, and sent forth a perpetual moan as the strong highland
wind passed over them.

From the lofty eminence on which we stood chain was seen rising over
chain, valley behind valley, till, far away behind all, there gleamed a
long broad sheet of water, the great lake of Scutari, backed by the
fantastic-shaped rugged mountains of Albania, utterly barren, serrated
and pinnacled like a gigantic gothic cathedral, and through the medium
of the clear southern atmosphere appearing of a delicate pinkish hue.

This valley of Rieka is far the most fertile of Montenegro, and the
village of the same name which is situated on the brink of the clear
stream is the prettiest, cleanest, and seemingly most prosperous of the
country.

The extreme smallness of some of the fields, if they can be so called,
which is remarkable all over Montenegro, struck us much, on our descent
down the rough slopes of the mountain.

Soil is scarce. We here saw walled enclosures so small that three or
four potato-plants at the most filled them up. Our procession entered
Rieka about mid-day. This village consists of one street along the
river side. The houses are built tastefully of wood, something in the
Swiss style. Outside each house was the usual stone bench, on which,
again, as usual, half the family sat, smoking lazily, evidently with
nothing on earth to do. Of course we were inspected with some curiosity
as we passed.

Not understanding the language, we were utterly at the mercy of our
guide. We tried to signify to him that we wished him to conduct us to a
_khan_. He shook his head, and paid no other attention to our remarks,
but deliberately marched us off to the establishment which he thought
was alone suitable for the English _Gospodinas_. It was the largest
house in the place, whitewashed, and partly hanging over the water, at
the corner of the pretty bridge which spans the stream.

We halted at the foot of the stone steps which led up to the door, and
unpacked our horse; while the crowd stood round, admiringly, and
whispering to our guide queries as to what these curious strangers
might be.

The door of the house opened, and a pleasant-looking old lady,
richly-attired, and tinkling at every motion with the strings of
Turkish coins which she wore as ornaments, came down smiling, bowed low
to us, kissed our hands, and invited us within. We were soon made at
home, and a welcome repast of wheaten cakes and goats' flesh was placed
before us, with good _raki_ to wash it down.

The captain of the village came in while we were lunching--a
splendid-looking fellow, who stalked in with the magnificent carriage
which distinguishes the chieftains of _Tchernagora_. He approached us
with both hands stretched out, and shook us cordially by the hands,
and gave us what was evidently a very kindly welcome, in words we
unfortunately could not understand. A few other men of rank came in
to see us, but none could speak any language but their own, so our
conversation was limited to smiling welcomes on the one hand, and
smiling thanks on the other. We all found that this after a time became
monotonous, so we endeavoured to render the interview a little more
amusing by a mutual inspection of weapons.

After lunch a room was prepared for us. This was by far the most
civilized mansion we came across in Montenegro. There were actually
beds in it. Such a luxury was quite unknown a few years ago in this
country.

The Montenegrin never takes his clothes off. On retiring for the night,
he merely rolls himself up in his plaid, and lies down on the bare
floor of his house.

A shake, and then an inspection and buckling on of arms, suffice for
his toilette in the morning. We were sketching the village after lunch,
when a man passed us, stopped, looked at us a moment curiously, and
then, to our astonishment and delight said, "You should be Englishmen,
strangers."

This man turned out to be a Montenegrin, who had once got somehow to
Constantinople. Here he shipped on board an English brig, and so had
visited London, Liverpool, and other ports. It is a question whether a
Montenegrin had ever before adopted the sea as a profession, it is
hardly in the line of the Karatag, detesting as he does discipline and
confinement of any kind.

He was known as Greek Jack on board the brig, he told us. English
sailors I have always found, have rather a vague idea as to the limits
of the little realm of King George. Any one who has a cut-throat
appearance, and is picked up anywhere between Dalmatia and Cyprus, is
at once looked upon by our tars as one of them blank Greek chaps. His
English was scanty, but rich at any rate in every foullest oath our
seaports can teach the foreign visitor.

Nearly every other word was an emphasis of this nature. From him we
learnt that the house we occupied belonged to the prince. He himself
was now a hand on board the prince's steam-yacht, a very small vessel,
in which the great Nikita is wont to travel on the Lake of Scutari,
when on a dynamite fishing expedition.

Our new friend kindly offered to act as our guide if we wished to do
the lions of Rieka.

These consisted of two little public-houses, one famous for its wine,
the other for its raki. We did them; the result was that our cicerone's
English became more and more indistinct, but at the same time more and
more larded with profanity, till gradually, from every other word, two
out of every three words at least, were oaths. Had there been one more
lion to be done, I verily believe that every word of his conversation
would in our country have rendered him liable to that small pecuniary
penalty which our statutes inflict in such cases.

Raki and mastic, the favourite beverages of this part of Europe, are
drinkable: that is all that can be said for them.

Raki is a colourless spirit, extracted from the skins of grapes after
the wine-making. It is not nice, but is, I should say, pure and
wholesome.

Mastic is extracted from mountain herbs, tastes like absinthe, and is
probably nearly as poisonous.

This was a night of tribulation for Brown.

Our room swarmed with the far-famed Montenegrin fleas, and other still
more ferocious natives. The ramparts of insecticide with which he
surrounded himself availed nought. Sleep he knew not.

In the dead of night I was suddenly awakened by the utter collapse of
the wooden bed on which I slept. It fell to pieces without any warning,
and precipitated me on the floor.

Stories I had read in Christmas Annuals of robber inns, and traps that
opened out in floors to swallow up the sleeping traveller, flashed
across my brain. But there was no occasion for alarm. On lighting a
match and inspecting the ruins, I came to the conclusion that the bed
had been undermined by vermin--that was all.



CHAPTER VIII.

A great victory--A good old custom--On the Lake of Scutari--The
londra--The debateable land--Boat song--Encampment--Scutari--A
reminiscence of Cremorne--The brothers Toshli--Willow-pattern
plates--At the British Consulate.


The next was a glorious morning. We were up at daybreak, and with the
assistance of our friend, bargained with four men to take us in a boat
to Scutari.

The captain of the village also came to our aid, and beat down the
rather exorbitant demands of his countrymen.

The captain was evidently an important personage--to be respected and
feared; for the fellows ceased their vehement jabbering, and became
very humble and quiet, when he appeared on the scene.

Our nautical friend told us that this _Voyade_ was a distinguished
warrior. He had been engaged in that great victory gained over the
Turks in 1858.

Some of my readers may remember that in that year an army of 6000
Turkish regulars invaded Montenegro. They had advanced some miles up
one of those frightful defiles by which alone the Black Mountain is to
be penetrated, when they were surprised by a body of Montenegrins, much
inferior in numbers, but having the advantage of a thorough
acquaintance with every rock and crevice of the grey hills. Of the 6000
Turks, but six men and the commander of the expedition escaped. It was
only owing to the intercession of certain of the great powers that the
Prince did not follow up this great victory by an invasion of the
Herzegovina, where, of course, all the Christians would have flocked to
his standard.

An international commission was sent out to definitely settle a
frontier-line between Montenegro and Turkey--as vain an undertaking as
that of the present year will probably prove to be.

As we knew not how long a voyage lay before us, we laid up a store of
provisions in our vessel--the round wheaten cakes of the East, "baken
on the coals," probably similar to those the Shunamite placed before
Elisha long ago, a gourd of wine with a strong smack of the goat's
skin, goat's milk cheese, and an abundance of fine black grapes.

Our boat awaited us some few hundred yards down the stream, where the
water was sufficiently deep to float her; for the Rieka is here but a
shallow brook. Our boatmen had a good deal of poling and wading to do
for the first mile or so, as we were constantly grounding on the
shingle banks.

Before leaving, a ceremony had to be observed which prevails all over
these countries, and which, like many good old customs, has died out in
more civilized countries. Our host tucked a bottle of raki under his
arm, and, taking a small glass in his hand, accompanied us to where we
were to embark, and then handed round the final stirrup cups in most
liberal manner.

The _londra_, as the boat of the country is called, is a roughly-made,
flat-bottomed affair, with prow and stern alike--sharp pointed, and
running up high out of the water, something like the Venetian gondola.
These boats are of every size, from the small cranky tub propelled with
one oar, to the lengthy twelve-oared vessel.

They have little beam, and must be exceedingly dangerous on the lake in
choppy weather--indeed, accidents often occur; but every one here is so
happily careless, and trustful in _kismet_, that these ricketty coffins
have not been superseded by any more seaworthy craft.

The _londra_ is tarred inside and out; there are no benches; the
passengers squat on their blankets at the bottom of the boat. The
rowers stand up facing the bow, and force their long clumsy sweeps
through the water in short, quick jerks.

  [Illustration: THE LONDRA.
                _Page_ 102.]

They do not make use of rollocks, but twist vine or clematis branches
into grommets, which run through holes made for the purpose in the
gunwale. These grommets soon wear out, and have to be replaced three or
four times in a day's journey. The londra, notwithstanding its rough
build, progresses at a very fair pace, so long as it does not meet with
a strong head-wind, when its little hold on the water is much against
it.

Having comfortably settled ourselves at the bottom of our vessel, among
our blankets and saddle-bags, we bid adieu to our sailor friend with an
_au revoir_ in London, when he should next visit that port, and got
under weigh. Our crew consisted of four brigand-like Montenegrins, who
were dirty and miserable, in all save their weapons, which were
beautiful. One was the proud possessor of a long pistol, with a silver
hilt inlaid with precious stones, the spoil of the Turk. Each had his
gun with him, so we were a formidable-looking party.

The banks of the Rieka are exceedingly fine; rocks and dense foliage on
either side, with occasional glimpses of the great mountain behind.

Where the river broadened into the lake we rowed through large fields
of waterlilies in full bloom. The country seemed altogether
uninhabited. We passed one or two londras, whose crews entered into
animated discourse with our men, evidently anxious to know who the
European travellers might be. At last we were on the great lake. On all
sides it is shut in by lofty mountains, some, I should say, quite
10,000 feet in height. Its surface is studded with numerous bare rocky
islands, uninhabited by man, but noisy with multitudes of wild fowl and
pelicans. Egrets, divers, and ducks, are very numerous on this water.
We hugged the western or Montenegrin shore, for the provisions of the
Berlin Treaty have given nearly all this side of the lake to the
principality.

We were struck by the extreme desolation of the country; gaunt,
uncultivated mountains fell to the water's edge. Population there
seemed to be none.

Once we saw a village on the shore; on approaching it, it proved to be
ruined, deserted--a mere heap of charred débris--a melancholy relic of
fierce frontier war. Here, as later on, on the plains of Podgoritza, I
noticed that there was a sort of debateable land on the borders of the
two countries--a desert region, where men dare not build or cultivate,
not knowing when the dogs of war should again be loosed. Thus rich
plains are left to the wolf and lynx, the peasant preferring to build
his homestead in the poorer but more secure fastnesses of the
mountains, than on the rich lowland, where he would sow only that a
hostile horde should reap.

As there was a slight breeze, our men hoisted a small square sail, of
whose use they seemed to have but little idea. They made fast the sheet
and tack to the weather gunwale, and attempted to sail close hauled.

We moved through the water it is true, but astern and to leeward. Much
wrangling then ensued as to the proper method of navigating the vessel.
Ultimately the crew lowered their canvas in despair, of which we were
not sorry, for we very nearly capsized once in a slight squall. Halyard
and sheet were securely knotted, and of course the clumsy craft would
not come up to the wind.

Had the puff been a little stronger we must have gone down.

Swimming would not have been easy with our heavy accoutrement.

We could not converse much with the men, as our knowledge of
Montenegrin was exceedingly limited. We had compiled a little
dictionary, with the assistance of our friends, at Cettinje. The usual
programme of handing tobacco round, examining each other's arms, was
gone through.

Brown rather astonished one of the crew; he had taken hold of the
fellow's rifle, and wishing to express his approval of it, pointed to
it and read out of the dictionary what he thought was Sclav for "good
gun," but which on more careful inspection proved to signify "roast
mutton."

All day we paddled along the lone shore, but no town was yet in sight.
The evening brought with it one of the most magnificent sunset effects
I have ever witnessed. The near mountains on our starboard hand assumed
a cold dark appearance as the sun set behind them. Their deep barren
defiles had a weird bleakness about them, such as one sees in lifeless
Arctic landscapes.

But far away on the port hand, across the water, the rays of the
setting sun fell full on the great Albanian mountains, which towered
behind the broad plain that fringes the eastern shore of the lake.

Every detail of the fantastic peaks and fissures of the barren granite
was sharp and distinct in this clear atmosphere.

Where the rock jutted out it was lurid crimson, as of red-hot
coal--elsewhere, of lovely rose and golden tints, while the darker
shadows of the hollows were of a deep purple or violet. So utterly
barren were these great offshoots of the Mount _Scardus_, that under
this strange light the scenery was of a peculiarly unearthly and weird
nature. One could almost imagine oneself to be gazing at a landscape of
some lifeless star--a chaos of molten matter--silent but for the
occasional roar of fire and volcanic action.

But the blue shadows soon rose up from the water's edge, till the last
highest peak lost its crown of fire, and the fine day was succeeded by
a lovely starlit night.

The day had been hot, but now it became intensely cold; the wind, which
was right in our teeth, freshened; the ripple that broke on the shingle
shore became louder; and soon the surface of the lake was broken into
short choppy waves capped with foam, that glistened in the starlight.
The water washed occasionally over our bulwarks in ominous splashes.

There was evidently quite enough sea for our frail craft. But our men,
though they made little progress against the head-wind, pulled on
pluckily, encouraging themselves with a wild barbaric chant, which was
caught up now by one, now by another--a monotonous yet energetic song,
to which their blades kept time.

One of these boat-songs was afterwards translated to me. It runs
something thus (I have preserved to a certain extent the irregularity
of the original):--

    Now then, my hawks, pull! pull!
    Let the boat fly over the water!
    The rocks on the shore are full
    Of Arnauts, thirsty for our slaughter.
    But we fly swifter than their bullets go.
    They cannot take aim, so swift we row.
          Pull! my hawks, pull!

    Long before their slow feet can return
    We will fall upon their village--sack and burn,
    Tear up the smoking rafters of their homesteads
    Into torches that shall light our homeward way,
    Laden with rich spoil and foemen's heads.
    Now then, my hill hawks, pull away!
          Pull! my hawks, pull!

We expected every moment to see the lights of Scutari burst upon us as
we rounded some rugged promontory; but hour after hour of the night
passed by, and still no sign of human habitations. Suddenly our boatmen
rested on their oars, and entered into a short discussion. When they
had come to a decision they pointed to the shore, and endeavoured to
explain something to us; what, we could not make out. The dictionary we
had compiled at Cettinje was a modest work, containing only words of
greeting and the names of strict necessities. The next operation of our
crew was to run the boat high and dry on the shingle beach; they then
disembarked, and beckoned us to follow.

A fire was soon made up with the brushwood and oleander that grew
thickly on the bank.

  [Illustration: SCUTARI FISHING HARBOUR.
                _Page_ 109.]

What next? we wondered. Was this merely a halt for a little rest and
supper? or had our crew struck work, and determined to camp here for
the night? We soon found out that the latter was their intention; for
after we had supped and smoked a few cigarettes, they one by one rolled
themselves up in their cloaks and fell asleep, feet to the fire.

We followed their example, and in consequence of our close proximity to
the Montenegrins experienced the attacks of vast armies of fleas.

At four in the morning we got under weigh; it was still dark, but the
first faint streak of dawn was visible over the eastern hills. We
discovered, later on, that we had encamped on the beach till daylight,
because all boats are prohibited from approaching Scutari during the
night.

Three Turkish gunboats are stationed off the town, by whom we should
have been challenged and stopped, had we proceeded.

At about seven in the morning we reached Scutari. First we had to row
through a curious fishing village, which is at the junction of the lake
and the broad river that here flows into it. A large number of thatched
huts, built on piles, form regular streets in the centre of the stream.

Then the town lay before us, with its old Venetian fortress perched on
a lofty rock in the back ground.

We were not much struck by the general appearance of the capital of
North Albania--a dingy, dilapidated bankrupt sort of a place it seemed
to be.

Scutari is built on the flat promontory formed by the river Bojana,
which takes off the waters of the lake to the Adriatic, and another
river, which flows into the lake after having crossed the spacious
plain which lies between Scutari, and the distant mountains of
Biskassi.

On landing, no custom-house or custom-house officers were anywhere
visible. We paid off our ship, selected a ragged-looking ruffian to
carry our luggage, shouldered our rifles, and marched off to the hotel
Toshli, at the other end of the straggling town, which had been
recommended to us by the gendarme whose acquaintance we had made on the
Austrian Lloyd steamer.

Our first impressions of the city were not favourable. It had an
appearance of melancholy decay, still trying to keep up an appearance.
The mosques, and some of the better Turkish houses, were rather gaudily
ornamented with wooden carvings and bright paint; but now the carvings
were broken, and the paint half rubbed off. There was a
tea-garden-in-liquidation look about the place.

I remember once seeing Cremorne by daylight. It was some time after
outraged respectability had closed the gardens; the occasion being a
patriotic meeting which was held there, during the Russo-Turkish war.
It was a sad sight to one who had known the place in other days. The
plaster statues were broken; the pagodas and the other gimcrack
edifices were mouldy, tumbling to pieces, and destitute of paint. This
melancholy city of Scutari reminded me irresistibly of Cremorne that
day. Everything had been allowed to fall into decay. Any repairing of
public or private buildings had long been given up by government and
people. One rickety mosque was very funny; its steeple was tiled, if I
may use the expression, with the sides of paraffin boxes and Huntley
and Palmer's biscuit tins.

The rough paintings on its walls were chipped and dim. The very mollah,
in his turban and dirty blue robe, who stood at the door, had a
dissipated and unkempt appearance, which harmonized with his
surroundings.

Our first impressions of the inhabitants were no less unpleasing. There
was a haggard, anxious, half-starved expression in the faces of all we
met--a savage fierceness in their eyes, which we had not observed in
Montenegro. No one besides ourselves was in European costume, but we
attracted no attention; all stalked by us with the utmost indifference.
Every man we met--kilted Mussulman, or white-clad Arnaut--was armed to
the teeth.

It was some way to Toshli's. We passed through many narrow streets,
paved in a fashion well calculated to dislocate the ankles, and
traversed numerous grave-yards, neglected and filthy in the extreme.

The hotel turned out to be an unpretending sort of an establishment,
half grocery, half café. It was kept by two brothers, Greeks from
Janina. It was situated in the principal street of the Christian
quarter, close to the foreign consulates. Toshli's is a rough
free-and-easy sort of place, but is to be recommended. The cuisine was
really very fair. It was curious to observe in the grocery how many
English commodities were procurable.

On the shelves I saw Huntley and Palmer's biscuits, Cross and
Blackwell's pickles, and, most wonderful of all, brown Windsor soap--an
article for which I should imagine that there could be no demand in
Albania.

One meets with certain English manufactures in the most remote regions
of the world.

I have bought Gillot's steel pens in an Arab town in a remote oasis of
the Saharah.

Another curious fact is, that here at Toshli's, and everywhere else in
Eastern Europe where plates are in use, one invariably meets with our
old willow-pattern services. There is a very large exportation of these
from England to these countries.

The café of the hotel, in which is a billiard-table, is much frequented
by the Christian merchants, and the Turkish military doctors of the
garrison; these are all Christians, being Armenians, Greeks, Poles, and
other foreigners.

Italian is understood by many of the Christian merchants here, being
the language of commerce on these coasts.

There must, I should say, be a certain amount of Italian blood in the
veins of the citizens of Scutari, for it was long one of the strongest
Venetian dependencies, and sustained one of the most heroic sieges of
history, when Mahomet II. overran Eastern Europe, in the fifteenth
century, with his vast hordes of infidels, inflamed with uninterrupted
success.

Scutari was finally acquired by Turkey in 1479, by treaty.

The brothers Toshli received us with open arms, for the gendarme had
prepared them for our arrival. Having settled ourselves in a
comfortable bed-room, which was elegantly draped with strings of
malodorous--not to say putrid--sausages, we indulged in some
café-au-lait, a luxury we had not enjoyed for some time.

We then called on Mr. Kirby Green, the British consul-general for North
Albania, and chargé-d'affaires for Montenegro. This gentleman seemed
exceedingly glad to see us, met us with outspread hand, and the remark
that "it was rare to see any of his countrymen out here, it was quite
an eventful day for him." During our stay in Scutari, Mr. Green did all
in his power to assist us in every way. This gentleman, whose
experience of Eastern character is very extensive, is emphatically the
right man in the right place. It was surprising to find what influence
he has in the country, and how excellently he upholds the dignity of
England.

He stands very high in the opinion of the natives of both creeds.

"Yes, he is pasha here, and greater than the pasha," was often said of
him in my hearing, both by Christians and Mohammedans. They hold him in
high respect; and the firmness and justice with which he invariably
acts, astonishes and pleases these Orientals, so little accustomed to
the like.

Up in the wild mountains, later on, when among the fierce Miridites and
Klementis, no sooner did the men we met hear that we were from Scodra
(as Scutari is called by the Albanians) and friends of Zutné Green, the
savage frown and suspicious handling of yataghan would change to smile
of pleasure, and hand outstretched in welcome.

We told Mr. Green what our plans were, and asked him if they were
feasible.

We thought of traversing Albania from north to south, from Scutari to
the port of Previso, opposite Corfu, by the route of Priserin, Ochrida,
Monastir, and Janina. Mr. Green is not a man to discourage travellers
without good cause, but said, "Priserin, let me tell you, is the
headquarters of the Albanian League, an organization of the most
fanatical Mussulmen of the country, whose object is to resist the
Austrian advance, and the Montenegrin claims, by force of arms.

"These men are now worked up to a high pitch of religious zeal, and
hatred of the Christians. Priserin is, with perhaps the exception of
Mecca, the most dangerous spot for a Christian in all Mohammedan
countries. It is true that they may receive you very well, as
Englishmen, and entertain you with the greatest hospitality; or they
may cut your throats as soon as they see you. It is a toss up which of
the two they will do.

"You will be either honoured guests, or abominations to be instantly
put to death.

"They are the same men that murdered Mehemet Ali, at Jakova. So I
advise you to consider the matter carefully."

As guests at Mr. Green's table, later on in the evening, we received a
lot of very useful information as to the state of the country, and the
ways and means of travelling through it.



CHAPTER IX.

Condition of Albania--Her races--The Mussulman--The Christian--The
Arnaut--Prince Scanderbeg--Turkish rule--Albanian language--Gendarmes
on strike--A Scutarine beauty--Courtship and marriage--Nuns.


Having now brought my readers into Albania, it does not seem out of
place to here give a rough sketch of this almost unknown province of
Turkey.

The first thing that strikes one is the utter lawlessness of the
people. The Turks have never assimilated their remoter possessions. It
is not in their character to do so. They seem, even after so many
centuries, to be merely temporarily encamped in Albania. They have
pachas and garrisons in the towns, but the natives enjoy a surprising
amount of independence, and are allowed to do pretty well as they
like. Indeed, the government is very weak here, neither feared nor
respected--merely tolerated. The mountain tribes are almost as little
under Turkish rule as were the Montenegrins themselves, over whom,
until the treaty of Berlin, the Porte claimed a suzerainty. Out of the
towns, Turkish officials are not to be found. A powerful tribe will
often refuse to pay the _dimes_ to the tax farmer, when a bloody and
cruel war will probably ensue, lingering on for years in the hills, in
which the government troops will often come off the second best.

At the period of our visit, Albania is in a state of positive
anarchy--the gendarmerie on strike, the soldiers refusing to salute
their officers, neither having received pay for months, while the
natives hold seditious meetings publicly, and unmolested, in the
mosques of the garrison towns, in which rebellion against the Porte is
fearlessly advocated.

Nowhere is the rotten condition and utter helplessness of the Porte
more apparent than here.

The natives, though of one race, may be divided into three classes,
differing very much in manners and character. First, we have the
Albanian Mohammedan. This is the "wild Albanian kirtled to the
knee"--in North Albania, found chiefly in the towns. He is the
aristocrat, maybe an owner of lands in the mountains, which he lets out
to Arnaut tenants, living on his rents. He is intensely proud of his
caste, a despiser of his Christian fellow-townsmen. Courteous,
gentlemanly, not over strict in the observance of his creed, he will
drink raki on the quiet with an easy conscience.

His walk is a haughty stalk. With his gold-embroidered vest, bright
sash--his leather pouch in front, in which are stuck two gold-hilted
jewelled pistols and yataghan, his many-folded snowy festinelle, or
kilt, which swings from side to side as he struts along--he is indeed
an imposing-looking figure.

Secondly, we have the Christian town's-man of the Latin Church--how
different in every respect! He wears the fez, Turkish jacket, baggy
trousers tied in at the knee, followed by white socks, and European
elastic-side boots.

As a Christian the law forbids him to carry arms. There is the timid,
fawning, insincere look in his face, so characteristic of the
oppressed. These Christians are all traders or merchants, many of them
wealthy, but not daring to be over ostentatious, for they live in fear
and dread of their unscrupulous neighbours of the other creed, who have
on more than one occasion pillaged the Christian quarter. Their
position is much what that of the Jews was in medieval Europe.

The dress of the Christian town's-women is not becoming, though
exceedingly expensive. Their robe is heavy and thick with gold
embroidery, which crackles loudly as they walk. Out of doors they are
enveloped in a very ugly red cloak: it is baggy and shapeless. Take an
egg, paint it red, cut a good slice off one end and stand it up--you
will form a very good idea of a Scutarine Christian lady in outdoor
costume. As they are veiled, like the Mohammedans, it is equally
impossible to judge of the beauty of either face or figure.

Next we have the third class of the population, the most interesting of
all, the country people--or rather, mountaineers, for little but
mountain is there in North Albania. These are the Arnauts--Skipitars,
as they call themselves--a fierce, hardy race of almost savages,
independent, unconquered by the Turks. They too are Latin Christians,
but how different from their co-religionists in the town! Their
features are indicative of minds that would not tolerate slavery. They
stalk proudly through the streets of the towns, bristling with arms,
notwithstanding the laws which forbid the Christian to do so. These
warlike tribes are too strong to heed the regulations of the feeble
government. Their dress is simple, but very manly and workmanlike. They
are clad in white homespun from head to heel. Their head-dress is a
white skull cap; sometimes they twist a long scarf round the head and
under the chin, very much in the style of the Bedouin--this is the
"shawl-girt head" that Byron speaks of; a white jacket, with tight
sleeves reaching to the wrist, of thick woollen stuff, ornamented with
black braid here and there; trousers of the same material, and
similarly black braided, baggy behind, but thence close fitting to the
leg until they reach the ankle, where they are slit and open
out--exactly the cut indeed of the nether garments of the American
Indian, except that the lower end is of thicker material, and has the
appearance of a gaiter, though it is of one piece with the rest of the
garment; opunkas on the feet; a sash round the waist, of common red
stuff or of silk, according to the wealth of the man; round the waist a
belt, with leather pouch in front, in which the long beautifully worked
pistols and yataghan are stuck; a belt of Martini-Henry cartridges over
the sash, if he own one of these rifles--if not, a belt from which
depend quaint elegantly-carved cartridge and oil-rag boxes, of gold or
brass, and long tassels of black silk.

Such is the appearance of an Arnaut mountaineer--a grand costume,
showing off the supple, erect frame--the very dress for a savage
warrior. The Arnaut, like the Mussulman, shaves his head, leaving a
little bunch of hair on the scalp. This gives him a very Indian-like
and ferocious appearance. No one who has not seen it can form an idea
how this shaving increases the savageness of the expression.

The dress of the women is as hideous as that of the men is handsome. It
is not unlike that of the Montenegrins. Their heads are swathed in
richly-hued shawls. Their dress is of very thick coarse material, and
shapeless. They are fond of wearing leather bands round the waist,
ornamented with pins, which are thrust through the leather, with their
ends bent up, their heads thus forming elegant patterns on the outside.
Round the neck and on the dress, the Arnaut belle wears strings of
piastres, swanzickers, and other small coins. Her legs are swathed
thickly with a sort of gaiter, which completely prevents one from
forming any idea as to the shapeliness of her lower limbs. Most of the
mountaineers still wear over their shoulders the curious little black
cloak, not unlike the tippet which English ladies have recently copied
from their coachmen, which was adopted in mourning for the death of the
great Albanian hero Scanderbeg, whose exploits are still sung over the
wintry fire by many a mountain bard, to the melancholy accompaniment of
the mandolin. There is not an Albanian who is not acquainted with his
history.

Albania was once an independent Christian country, though paying
tribute to the Porte.

John Castrioti was Prince of the mountain fortress of Kroia and the
surrounding country. In 1404 a son was born to him, who was christened
George. This was the future hero and deliverer of Albania.

The Prince was persuaded to send this son to the court of Murad II. to
be educated. Contrary to the promises made to the father, the boy was
brought up in the Mohammedan faith, and when old enough he entered the
Turkish army.

On the death of Castrioti, Murad seized his dominion, and attempted
with fire and sword to convert the people to the true faith. From that
time Scanderbeg formed a design to expel the Turk and liberate his
countrymen. He swore a great oath in secret, that never till he died
would he cease to wage war on the Turk. The opportunity soon came. He
entered into a secret agreement with the Hungarians, and with their
assistance defeated the Turks at Nissa with great slaughter.

A fierce war, in which no quarter was given, was then commenced between
the Albanians and their oppressors. Driven at times into the fastnesses
of the mountains; Scanderbeg ever renewed his brave, seemingly
fruitless attempt, when occasion offered.

Ultimately he succeeded in driving the Turks out of Albania; he
renounced the Mohammedan faith, and established himself on the throne
of his fathers.

Even when he lived the deliverer was almost worshipped as a God. He
died in 1467. Then the Albanians, deprived of his skilful generalship,
were in time subjugated by the Turks.

Prince George Castrioti was without doubt an extraordinary man. The
name of Scanderbeg (Alexander) was given him by the Turks, in their
admiration of his prowess.

To say that the Turks have subjugated the Arnauts is not strictly
correct. Their position is something like that of the French in the
remoter parts of Algeria. They hold certain towns, the intervening
country being occupied by independent tribes, governing themselves,
having their own laws.

Why, if a Turkish pasha wishes to traverse the mountains through the
district of a certain tribe, he must consult the Boulim-Bashi, the
town-representative or consul of that tribe, obtain his permission--his
safe-conduct--ere he dare undertake the journey.

The administration of criminal law is not a large item of the expenses
incurred by the Turkish Government in their rule of Albania. They leave
all this to two unpaid judges, who have from time immemorial been the
only two dispensers of justice tolerated by the free people--viz.,
Judge Lynch and Judge Vendetta. Of these I shall have more to say
by-and-by.

The Arnauts are divided into several powerful clans, of which the
Clementis and the Miridites are the most important in this district.
The tribes differ slightly in costume and language. Some tribes, like
the Miridites, are in a wretched condition, starving in their
mountains, the result of a long protracted war with the government,
originating probably in some petty dispute with a tax collector. These
wars hang on in a desultory way for years, until the wretched
highlanders, in order to support existence, are obliged to become
bandits and cattle-lifters--outlaws--the enemies of all men. A Miridite
is now a wretched object generally. I have seen them crawl through the
narrow alleys of the bazaar of Scutari, ragged, scowling at every one,
haggard and weak with hunger, their arms sold for bread--the sign of
extreme poverty, for it is a bitter thing for an Arnaut to part with
his beloved weapons, heirlooms as a rule. The ramrod of his lost
pistols alone dangles from his belt. This, curiously enough, no man
ever seems to part with--probably because it is unsalable.

The Albanians are by some supposed to be the descendants of the ancient
Pelasgi, and of a far purer race than are the modern Greeks. From the
uniformly classic features of the people I should be inclined to adopt
this view. The men have splendid skulls, lofty broad brows and small
delicately moulded features.

The women are the most beautiful in Eastern Europe. The children are
lovely. They have large solemn eyes and splendid mouths--this latter is
their most striking feature--slightly turned down at the sides, which
gives a singularly sweet and thoughtful expression. One cannot be long
among the Arnauts before perceiving that they are evidently of a noble
and ancient race, to which the Montenegrin and other Sclav races will
bear no compare. The polite manners, the delicacy of perception and
tact of these otherwise savage mountaineers, is very pleasant. Fierce
and cruel as foes, reckless of life, they yet are splendid friends;
faithful--knowing not what treachery is--truthful, virtuous;
hospitable, jovial companions, abstemious as a rule, yet not
disinclined on grand occasions to pass freely round the cheering raki
(a spirit extracted from grape skins after the wine is made) and the
absinthe-like mastic.

The language of the Skipitars, as the Arnauts call themselves, varies
much in different districts. Old Illyrian probably in origin, it
contains Greek, Latin, and Sclavonian words, in almost equal proportion;
at least, so it seemed to me, here in the north. For instance, here
are the first thirteen numerals in Albanian; the three tongues I
mention are all traceable in these--_gni_, _du_, _tre_, _kater_,
_pens_, _giasct_, _sctat_, _téte_, _nand_, _deit_, _gnim-deit_,
_dum-deit_, _trem-deit_.

The Albanians do not write in Sclav characters as do their northern,
nor in Greek as do their southern neighbours, but, unlike all other
races hereabouts, use the Latin character. In addition to our
twenty-four letters, they have five others, something like, yet
differing in form and pronunciation from, certain of the Greek letters.

Such are the inhabitants of the country--a country as wild as they.
Well did Byron call Albania "the rugged nurse of savage men."

The Acroceraunian Mountains and the Mount Pindus send their branches
across the whole province. Rugged rocks are heaped one upon the other,
with summits hidden in the clouds. It is a region of tempests, which,
like to Montenegro, is too poor and barren to produce aught but
warriors, who seem ever to thrive best on poor soil, as the stately
pines do. The products of the country are few. The acorns of the
Vallona oak, which are used for dyeing purposes, martin skins, and
boxwood, are the only exports; and not much of these finds its way out
of the country. The history of Albania would afford much of interest to
any one who would study it.

Once included in the great Bulgarian kingdom, then divided into small
principalities, Albania was at last, not without much bloodshed,
absorbed by her two powerful neighbours--Venice on the north, Turkey on
the east. All the valour of Prince Scanderbeg could only delay for one
lifetime the subjugation of his beautiful native land.

Our friend the officer of gendarmerie called on us on the following
morning. With him we took a stroll through the town.

He was rather melancholy. He had received no pay for fourteen months,
and was commencing to be disgusted with his profession.

His men were in still more wretched plight. Their red uniforms were
ragged and torn; many were barefooted. The poor fellows seemed to be
all half-starved. At the present moment they were on strike--"en
grève," as our friend rather mildly termed what we should call mutiny.

I do not imagine the community loses much by their defection, for the
gendarmerie in Albania is a miserable and almost useless body of men.
It might fairly be asked what is the good of having police at all in a
country where murder and every other crime are recognized institutions?
Even rebellion and treason seem not to be punishable offences, for, as
I shall have to narrate further on, the Albanian League hold seditious
meetings under the very nose of the pashas.

What then have the police to do?

With our friend as cicerone to explain all we saw, we traversed the
Christian, and then the Mohammedan quarter of the town.

The streets of the latter are dismal alleys, with lofty walls on either
side; for the Mussulman is a person of retiring habits. He loves to
build his house, and establish his harem, in the centre of a pleasant
garden, which he surrounds with such high walls that no prying eye can
spy his conjugal bliss. A semi-detached villa would never suit him. A
door in one of these walls was open, so Brown peeped through into the
garden within, to the great horror of our companion, who told him if
the jealous Turk saw him he would instantly send a bullet into him.

This officer--who, as I believe I have already explained, is a Roman
Catholic Christian--took us to his house, and introduced us to his
sister, an exceedingly pretty woman. The indoor costume of the Albanian
ladies is much more becoming than the ugly scarlet garment that
completely conceals their beauty in the streets. This lady was the wife
of a wealthy Christian, and her dress was exceedingly costly. The
jacket was stiff with beautiful gold embroidery, and large gold coins
hung from her neck and girdle.

The manners of an Albanian lady are very pretty and gracious. She
brought us coffee with her own hands--small and beautifully-formed as
are those of all her race--and sat by us on a heap of cushions, deftly
made herself a cigarette, and commenced smoking. She conversed with us
in broken Italian, which fell very prettily from her charming lips.

The women of this country do not wither up into old hags by the time
they are thirty, as do most orientals and southerners, but preserve
their peachy complexions and youthful beauty as long as do the women of
our own island. It is true they often get over-corpulent, owing to
their exceedingly sedentary lives. A woman of the higher orders but
rarely leaves her house; and as she is perpetually squatting
cross-kneed, in Turkish fashion, on a divan, or rug, her lower limbs
become rather deformed, the result being that her walk is a very
ungraceful waddle, rather like that of a well-fed duck.

Our friend's sister had been but recently married. Courtship is
curiously managed among the Scutarine Christians. The lover--if he can
be so called--never sees his intended till the day of his marriage. A
young girl is confined in her father's house for a few years before she
arrives at a marriageable age. No men but her nearest relatives ever
see her. When her parents consider she is old enough, they let it be
known among their friends that they have a marriageable daughter on
hand. Probably the young lady's brother will come up to you--if you are
a good catch--some day in the street, and say, "You are just the man I
wanted to see. My sister is now fourteen years of age. You must marry
her." It is an insult to refuse such an offer, for it is generally
looked upon as a great honour. However, if the Benedick be rather
doubtful as to the advantages of the match, and is desirous of
ascertaining whether his proposed bride be endowed with personal
attractions, he goes off to an old woman, whose profession it is to
intervene in such cases. She calls on the bride, inspects her, and
returns to give him an unbiassed summing-up of the young lady's
qualities. If he is satisfied, the wedding-day is fixed, but not till
the last moment does he view his bride. After the marriage ceremony a
very curious performance is gone through. The Albanians entertain
peculiar ideas as regards women. To linger with, to be affectionate
with, the fair sex, they consider to be degrading to a man's dignity,
unfitting him for the sterner business of war. Thus the youth affects
to despise the sex, is very shy of showing the slightest regard for it.
His sentiments, indeed, are very much those of English boys of a
certain age, who would blush to be seen playing with girls. Now, during
the marriage feast the bride retires to a room. The bridegroom refuses
to follow, and is bound to offer strong resistance; while the other
guests--father-in-law, mother-in-law, and all--slap and push in the
sham-reluctant one, who at last has to yield to superior numbers, and
enters the chamber.

As a young lady is so closely confined to her parents' house until the
day of her marriage, she naturally is very anxious to quit a single
state, which is by no means a state of blessedness. Should years go by,
and no suitable youth accept her hand--for, as I have shown, he can
hardly be said to demand it--one course is open to her, in order that
she may gain that freedom she yearns after. She becomes a nun, and
adopts the white robe of the Scutarine sisters.

The nuns here are by no means confined within great stone walls, as in
some countries. They must attend certain services at the church, but at
other times they wander about at their own sweet will, and enjoy an
absolute liberty that none others of their sex ever acquire in the
East. As a natural consequence, if scandal is to be believed, their
lives are not entirely unbrightened with flirtations with the other
sex.



CHAPTER X.

The bazaar--Turkish gipsies--The vendetta--An assassin--A way to pay
debts--Bosnian refugees--A card-party--Paving-stones--Burglars--Army
doctors--Change for a ten pound note--Our horses.


After this we visited the bazaar. Imagine a labyrinth of narrow lanes,
paved with large round blocks, polished by the feet of many
generations; the open booths laden with every variety of European and
Eastern goods; the roofs of every height and at every angle, projecting
far over on either side--almost meeting in places--joined by festoons
of vines, that keep out the glare of the midday sun; and a thick crowd
of armed men and veiled women, some mounted, some on foot, in every
variety of barbaric costume.

Here is an armourer's shop, the owner, a sour-looking Mohammedan, in
snowy festinelle, jacket stiff with gold embroidery, sits cross-legged
on his counter, surrounded with every sort of weapon. The Arnaut gun,
with flint lock, narrow steel stock beautifully worked, and Damascened
barrel fully five feet long, silver inlaid, and hooped with gilt bands,
first attracts our attention. The barrels of these guns are rarely of
Albanian make, but have been handed down from father to son for
generations, and are re-stocked over and over again ere they are
condemned. Most of them are of Venetian make; the marks of the most
famous gunmakers of the old republic are found inscribed on them. I
came across several Tower-marked barrels of antique date, seeming
strange in their Albanian stocks. Here we have yataghans, some with
plain ivory hilt, others glittering with gold and precious stones,
worth a prince's ransom. Here is the long-barrelled Miridite pistol,
with quaintly-carved brass stock. Here all the accessories for killing
one's fellows--cartridge belts, carved brass cartridge and oil-rag
boxes, flints soaking in a pan of water, and so on.

The next stall is a potter's. He works steadily at his wheel, and
surrounds himself with gracefully-formed bowls and pitchers of red
clay.

Then we have the fruiterer: pomegranates, figs, oranges, vegetables,
and fruits too unknown to us, lie in profusion on his counter.

Here is a worker in leather. He provides you with richly-ornamented
saddlery, belts for your sweetheart ornamented with the heads of pins,
purses, and the curious treble sack which the Arnaut straps in front of
him to hold his yataghan and two lengthy flint pistols. Here is a man
embroidering a piece of black or red cloth with the most artistic and
delicate patterns in gold or silk. This is to be portion of the garment
of a woman of rank.

Here is the carpenter. He is at work on a large square box of deal,
coarsely painted with bright colours. This is intended to contain the
_trousseau_ of the bride, and is the prominent object of the woman's
apartment in an Albanian house.

In short you can buy anything in the bazaar, from a horse to a para's
worth of halvar.

One of the most curious sights of the bazaar is its gipsy quarter.
After traversing one or two sordid alleys, one comes upon a sort of
terrace, where, scorning the sun or rain, unprovided with stall or
booth, are the zingali tinkers. A wilder and more uncouth lot I never
cast eyes upon. Dressed, or rather ragged, in a strange Oriental
costume of their own, blackened by exposure, speaking a tongue unknown
to all here, there is something very uncanny in them--no wonder that
the superstitious Arnaut fears and dislikes them. The women are
unveiled, their breasts are bare, and the old hags could well stand as
models for a witch of Endor, or any other unearthly and fearsome thing
in female human form.

The gipsy has a greater _raison d'être_ here than elsewhere in Europe.
The proud races of these regions, more especially the Montenegrins,
consider it degrading in the highest degree to work in iron, except in
the case of the manufacture of arms. Thus, whereas the Albanians of
Scutari, Jakova, and Priserin are excellent workers in other metals,
all tinkering is left to the despised zingali.

It is quite the proper thing to have a stall in the bazaar. Men of the
highest rank sit behind their wares for a few hours of the day, not
perhaps caring much whether they sell or not; but this crowded mart is
the common rendezvous, and answers the purpose of a club.

As you force your way through the crowd some friend will recognize you,
and beckon you to squat by him on his counter, among the cheap
Manchester goods, while you talk over the latest gossip over coffee and
cigarettes. We soon had formed so many friendships, that a stroll
through the bazaar meant for us the swallowing of prodigious quantities
of the thick Eastern coffee, which, by the way, is the best of all, if
properly made.

It is by no means unusual to have your shopping disturbed by the report
of fire-arms. I have already alluded to the blood feud, or vendetta of
Albania. This is here carried to an extent quite unknown in other
countries. Indeed, the Franciscan missionaries told me that it is very
rare indeed to find a really old man in the mountains, the chances
being so much in favour of any given man being killed sooner or later
in these constant feuds.

It is in the bazaar, on market-days, that men of two families engaged
in a vendetta are most likely to meet. You can generally tell whether a
man has a feud on hand, by his furtive look; his pistols are cocked, he
carries his gun also cocked in his hand, and looks behind him
constantly, for fair play is unknown here. To stab a man behind his
back is quite legitimate.

The Arnauts are Roman Catholics, and, as Christians, are by law
forbidden to carry arms in the towns. But these powerful tribes are too
strong to heed the government regulations. No Arnaut ever comes into
the town without his arms, and no one dares interfere with him.

Our friend the gendarme took us to the stall of a friend of his--a
notable man, Bektsé Tchotché by name. He was an ill-featured Albanian
Mussulman, about forty years of age, dressed in a national costume that
must have cost hundreds of pounds, so rich it was. The blade of his
yataghan was inlaid with an elaborate gold device from point to hilt.
Its handle was rough with large diamonds. His long Albanian pistols
were gold hilted, and beautifully carved. This fellow, a man of rank,
does not seem to carry on any ostensible trade at his stall, but it was
hung with a collection of weapons similar to those on his person. Our
gendarme whispered to us, "This is a brave man; much respected; has
killed more of his fellow-townsmen than any other Scutarine."

Imagine a policeman in England seriously pointing out, as an admirable
character and brave nobleman, the most atrocious murderer of the
county. Yet this is what this Bektsé Tchotché is. Murder is not a crime
here, however cold-blooded and cowardly. The assassin has but to fear
the vengeance of the family--there are no police to interfere with him,
especially if he be a Mohammedan. This state of things breeds in the
towns a race of ferocious bullies, ready and waiting to wash out any
fancied affront with your heart's blood. This man, who is in the
enjoyment of several hundreds of pounds sterling per annum, has devoted
himself entirely to murder. If you meet him in the town you see him
sitting erect on a gaily equipped horse, which he encourages to prance
and caracole from one side of the street to the other, to the great
danger of passers-by. In Albania furious riding is not an offence--in
fact, it is difficult to find what is. If an unoffending passer-by jolt
against him accidentally on his promenade, a bullet is most probably
sent into him _instanter_. As all his pistols are at full cock, and
have hair triggers, they not unfrequently go off accidentally in the
crowded bazaar.

Perfectly incredible to any one who has not visited these countries, is
the light in which assassination is regarded. It is more an amusement
than anything else--the sport of men. Walk through the streets of
Scutari, and you will find the marks of bullets on every house.

The following was quite a recent affair. A young swell one morning was
presented with his account, a few shillings only, by his shoemaker. His
noble blood could not suffer the indignity long. He walked down the
bazaar, found the beast of a tradesman standing in front of his stall,
holding his child in his arms, and, without a word, blew his brains
out. This gentleman, I need hardly say, is still at large, and swaggers
about as usual.

We drank coffee with Bektsé Tchotché, and had a long conversation with
him, the gendarme acting as interpreter. He was very kind and polite,
and invited us to see him again.

The bazaar at Scutari is full of strange sights, but the most strange
and pitiful is a scene one can witness every day outside a certain
baker's, who has made a contract with the government. Here for hours
patiently waits a miserable crowd of wretches, men, women, and
children, thin and pallid, with--yes, even smelling of--starvation. At
last a door opens in the loft, and at once they seem to wake from their
death-like lethargy; they press up, each trying to be first; they raise
their lean arms, and utter prayers and objurgations, hoarse and cracked
with hunger. A piece of undercooked maize bread is given to each, and
they depart, devouring it in silence. These are Bosnian refugees,
families that have emigrated from their homes at the instance of the
Turkish government, which now can do so little for them. Better for
them had they stayed in their native valleys, and trusted to the
justice of the Austrian giaours. Outside the town, by the roadside, one
comes across some that are so worn with travel and hunger that they
have not the energy to come with the others to receive the scant
rations. Here is a typical group. A veiled woman, sitting patiently by
the wayside, with several small children lying by her, all starving,
and one evidently dying. The father is dead--killed while resisting the
infidels, far away in Bosnia. These unfortunates do not beg--they sit
there in mute apathy. The children, maybe, crouch up nearer to their
mother when they see a giaour passing. If you show some small coins,
and beckon to them, the eldest child will perhaps take courage, and
painfully drag itself to you, will take the gift, look wonderingly at
you with his big eyes (unnaturally big in the white shrunk face), say
not a word, and return to his mother to pour what he has received into
her lap. The mother all the time sits there impassive, to all outward
appearance, quite heedless of what is going on, and utters not a word.
It is the daily sight of these poor wretches, and the tales they have
to tell, that so excited the Albanian Mussulmen to resist _à outrance_
any occupation of their country by Austria, for of course that power is
considered by them as the accursed cause of all this suffering.

We returned to the house of our friend the gendarme, and had a most
interesting conversation with him on the customs of his country. He
narrated to us, among other things, the last little affair in the way
of blood feuds.

"A friend of mine," said he, "was playing at cards in the bazaar with
another gentleman. The latter accused my friend of cheating. His reply,
of course, was a pistol-bullet, which instantly killed the other. My
friend, knowing that many of the dead man's relations were about,
escaped from the town to a house he has in the mountains, where he
could stay in safety for awhile. The relations of the other, being
unable to avenge his death on the person of his murderer, adopted the
following very clever plan to entrap and kill, without incurring any
risk themselves, the nearest relative of my friend, his father. Two men
went to the old man's house, and told him that his son had been slain
by a man of Koplik, and that his murderer was now staying in a khan on
the road to that village. They offered to accompany him and assist him
to avenge his son's death. The old man swallowed the bait without
suspicion. On a lonely part of the road, as he rode somewhat in advance
of his two companions, they at the same moment fired their pistols into
his back, then cutting off his head, sent it in a package to his son."

Thus are things managed in this pleasant land of Albania.

It was dark before we left our friend's house, so he sent his Miridite
servant to accompany us with a lantern to our hotel.

Scutari is not lit by night with lamps of any kind, so it is almost
impossible to find one's way in the dark through the narrow intricate
alleys. Besides, as the paving is laid down carelessly, to say the
least of it, one would run a good chance of breaking one's neck, if one
dispensed with the services of a link-man. One occasionally comes
across deep pits in the middle of a street, or against a rough stone
projecting up quite three feet above the average level of the others.
As the town is subject to floods, high stepping-stones are placed
across the streets at intervals. All this makes walking in the dark
exceeding unpleasant in this city.

I said somewhere back that the police have little to do in Scutari.
They have one function at any rate. They patrol the streets at night,
and arrest all who are not provided with lit lanterns. This rule is
strictly enforced. If any one were walking lanternless any night in the
town, and did not immediately respond to the patrol's challenge and
surrender himself, he would most probably receive a rifle-bullet or
so into him. Burglars, provided they carry lamps, are, as far as I
can make out, not interfered with by the police. An attempt to break
into our consul's house was made not long ago. A watchful _cavasse_
(body-servant) saw the men in the garden, and opened fire on them with
his gun from a window. The fire was returned, and kept up for half an
hour or so between the two parties, simply by way of passing the time
pleasantly, I suppose. The Albanians are vile shots, and no damage was
done on either side, beyond may be a window or so broken. The police
kept carefully out of the way all the time.

Three army doctors dined with us at the hotel table d'hôte. They were
not in a happy state of mind. Their whole conversation was a vehement
abuse of the Turkish Government. As they understood Italian we were
able to join in the talk. One of them, a very amusing old fellow, an
Armenian, waxed very warm over his grievances. "Ah, Signor, you have no
idea what a corrupt, vile thing this Turkish Government is. The court
eats all the country. We who work, the employés of the state, the
doctors, the soldiers, never receive any pay now. We are put off with
excuses on excuses, lies on lies. As long as they think they can obtain
our labour for nothing, not a para will they let slip through their
fingers. Look at my case. I have been a doctor in the Turkish army for
forty years, I have been through the Crimea, over all Asia, in the
service of the Porte. I am entitled to a good pension. I have been day
after day to the office at Constantinople, and put my case before the
authorities. They put me off with all sorts of fair promises, but I
knew what that meant, so went to them day after day, and worried them
so much that they decided to get rid of me in some way. 'There is a
permanent hospital in Scutari, in Albania,' they told me. 'In
consideration of your long service we appoint you as head doctor of it.
Start at once to your post.' Now that I have travelled all this way, at
my own expense mind you, what do I find? The permanent hospital no
longer exists--it is a myth, and they knew it at Constantinople all the
time, and no doubt chuckled merrily, when I had turned my back, at the
clever way they had rid themselves of the importunate old nuisance."

Our friend the gendarme called on us after dinner. He too had his
grievance. He had just called on his commandant, in hopes of receiving
some small portion of the arrears of pay due to him. The following
brief conversation ensued:--

"What do you want here, Lieutenant P.?"

"I want money."

"What? Eh! Money! What on earth for?"

"To procure bread."

"Ah! bread; that is well. Do you know what there is in the _caisse_?"

"No."

"Well, there is nothing; and I see little chance of there being a
single para there for some time. So go, young man, and do not indulge
in extravagant habits. I advise you as an older man."

After a few consultations with Mr. Green, Brown and myself determined
to carry out our original plan of riding to Janina, and of visiting
Priserin on our way, if the Leaguesmen were willing to receive us in
that city.

Our friend the gendarme offered to accompany us the whole way for a
small consideration. This suited us exactly. For with him we could
converse, and the chances were small of our meeting people who could
understand any Western language, on our route. Besides, the Turkish
government compels all travellers to take an escort of zaptiehs. At
certain stages these are changed, and another escort is given, of
greater or less numerical strength according to the state of the
country to be traversed. In the company of this officer, we should
probably be able to dispense with this nuisance, except perhaps on a
few stages where brigands were supposed to be prowling about. An escort
of zaptiehs is really of little use; for when brigands are come across
here, it is not in twos and threes, but in overwhelming numbers.

We were rather surprised when our intended companion told us that he
could easily procure letters of safe-conduct for us to the chiefs of
the League at Priserin and Jakova, as he himself had many intimate
friends among the head men of that formidable organization, at Scutari.
Curiously illustrative was this of the present condition of this
country. Here was an official of the Turkish Government, an officer of
police, openly associating and sympathizing with rebels, whose avowed
object it is to throw off the Turkish yoke by force of arms, and place
a prince of their own choice on the old stone throne of Scanderbeg at
Kroia.

The next thing to do was to make preparations for our journey. We had
spent all our gold, so found that we were obliged to change some of our
English notes. This was no easy matter. After some difficulty, with the
assistance of Mr. Green we found an old Christian merchant, Shouma by
name, reputedly of great wealth. He might be able to manage the little
affair for us.

We called on him, and according to the custom of the country we
indulged in coffee, sweetmeats, sherbet, and cigarettes before
commencing to state our business. Very suspiciously he looked at the
notes. Bills of exchange he would have discounted without hesitation; I
believe our own promissory notes would have satisfied him. But in
governments this wise man had no faith. He did not believe in a paper
currency.

He had observed how in his own country it had depreciated till at last
it was absolutely valueless. He knew that even Austria's notes were
worth considerably less than the sum they are supposed to represent. I
tried to explain to him what Bank of England notes really were--what
the difference between a convertible and an inconvertible paper
currency was; but Shouma evidently considered that the convertible
paper was a still more subtle device of a more clever government to
hoodwink and swindle the people.

However, he agreed to change a ten pound note for us, provided that Mr.
Green guaranteed that it really was worth ten golden sovereigns. Mr.
Green was of course willing to do this for us. Shouma accordingly took
our note, but told us that it would take three days at least to rake
together so large a sum as ten pounds in Scutari. He would go that very
day to the bazaar, and get as much as he could, for us to go on with.

In three days, a huge packet of metallic discs, of every size and
inscription, was ready for us. This was accompanied by a document,
lengthy as the manifest of a mail steamer, specifying the value of this
wonderful ten pounds' worth of coins.

He gave us 131 piastres and a fraction for each sovereign. It took us
two hours to count and verify our change. There were silver medjidiés
at 22-1/2 piastres each, all sorts of curious concave plates of base
metal, worth 11-1/2, 6-3/4, 13-1/2, and many other odd sums nasty to
calculate.

There were Greek coins, Russian roubles, old Austrian swanzickers
bearing the effigies of Maria Theresa, Peruvian and Mexican dollars,
and I know not what besides. Verifying one's change, is no joke in
Albania.

To shop in the bazaar of Scutari is a maddening operation, unless one
heroically resigns oneself to the certainty of being cheated twice over
in every transaction; for not only must one bargain fiercely and
cunningly, and beat down the price the merchant asks for an article in
the first instance, but after one has come to terms, and is about to
hand over his fifty piastres, say, another still warmer and more
utterly confusing discussion is sure to ensue as to the value of the
coins one presents to him.

The piece of money you yourself received as a twenty-piastre bit, he
insists is worth only eighteen.

"See here," he says, "this swanzicker you give me has a hole through
it; that diminishes its value by two paras." Two or three neighbours
are called in to decide the question. Each has a different opinion on
the subject.

The fact is that all money is acceptable here, and that, especially
since Turkey's reduced circumstances, the currency consists of the old,
semi-defaced coinage of a dozen nations at least, whose value is
arrived at by guesswork. I met no one in Albania capable of telling
off-hand how many piastres a given piece was worth.

We spent the three days Shouma had given us, in preparing for our
journey, and seeing as much as we could of the habits and customs of
the Scutarines.

As we had made up our minds to ride, we paid a visit to the bazaar to
purchase two horses. All sorts of extraordinary animals were produced,
and refused.

At last we came across one that struck our fancy--a long-legged,
extremely lean creature, tall for the country, of a red-brick colour.

Brown, who is a horsey man, proceeded to examine him in a scientific
manner, to the admiration of the Arnaut stablemen.

He pointed out the weak points of the animal by signs to the dealer,
who was quite as sharp as any of his fraternity in England.

Brown, wishing to express his disapproval of the extremely emaciated
condition of the horse, pointed to his ribs; whereon the man,
misunderstanding his meaning, deliberately counted them before him--a
very easy process in the case of this Albanian Rosinante--and
indignantly signified to my companion that he was too much of a
gentleman to offer for sale a horse that was not provided with a
sufficient number of those necessary costal supporters.

The animal was then trotted out, down one of the crowded alleys of the
bazaar. He found favour in Brown's critical eye, so the bargaining
commenced.

"_Sa paré?_" (how much) I asked.

The dealer held up both his hands, and said, "napoleon Frank"--to
signify that he wanted ten napoleons.

Brown expressed infinite disgust, and held up two fingers.

The dealer in his turn turned his back, with indignant gesticulations
and exclamations at the ridiculously low offer.

At last a bargain was struck, the money counted out, and the purchase
delivered to us.

We were mounted at the time on two horses Mr. Green had kindly lent us;
so we led off Rosso--as we named our animal, in consequence of his rosy
hue--with a rope behind us.

Through Mr. Green we managed to procure another steed, a younger
animal, and of more robust habit than the lean and haggard Rosso. From
his more gentlemanly appearance we gave him the name of Effendi.

We managed to pick up two saddles in the bazaar--one the regular
Turkish saddle, at first so uncomfortable to the novice, but gaudy with
flimsy metal ornament; the other was a secondhand Turkish officer's
saddle, similar to that used in Europe, and provided with
formidable-looking holsters.

We felt very proud of our purchases, and took a long ride the same
afternoon over the plain, to a very fine old Venetian bridge that spans
a branch of the Bojano, Mr. Green's son accompanying us.

Rosso and Effendi proved to be all that could be desired.



CHAPTER XI.

Our Lady of Scutari--A miracle--The fête--A funeral--A drunken
Arnaut--Our escort--Two more Britons--Warm discussion--War--Marco.


The morrow (October 18th) was the great holiday of North Albania, the
day of Our Lady of Scutari.

Long ago all this country was Christian. In this city there then stood
a beautiful wooden image of the Virgin Mary. Thousands of the faithful
were wont to flock hither year by year to offer their devotions at her
feet, and to be healed of their infirmities; for no sick man that had
faith was ever known to kiss the white feet of the image and not depart
whole.

But it came to pass that a certain priest made himself very unpopular
among the people. I do not quite know for what cause, but at any rate a
large multitude came to the church one day, and declared that unless
something that they desired was granted to them they would then and
there abjure the religion of Christ and embrace Mohammedanism. Rightly
or wrongly, the priest would not give in; whereupon the people tore
their rosaries from their necks, and marched off to the nearest
Mohammedan village, that the mollahs might receive the renegades into
the fold of the Prophet; whereupon Our Lady of Scutari, sorrowful and
angry at the desertion of those for whom she had wrought so many good
things for so many years, left her shrine in this ungrateful land.

That night the wooden image disappeared. It was not heard of for
months--when tidings came that on the very same night that this event
happened, an image of the Virgin miraculously entered a church in a
remote village of Italy, and there took up its abode. A loud voice was
also heard, crying out over Scutari, that not till the last Turki
(Mohammedan) had left Albania would Our Lady of Scodra be appeased and
forgive her children: then, and not till then, would she return to her
old shrine.

This day was the anniversary of the miraculous departure of the image,
long ago; and an impressive service was held in the great ugly square
church of the Christians in this city.

The interior of this building is almost entirely devoid of any ornament
whatever, and bears no resemblance to any church elsewhere.

The priests that minister to the spiritual wants of the Albanians are
Franciscans and Jesuits, all of whom are Italians. The Franciscan monks
have a convent and schools. The Jesuits have tried their best to
monopolize the education of the people, but are not much liked.

It was difficult, standing in this bleak building, in the midst of so
wild and outlandish though very devout a congregation, to imagine
oneself attending a Christian service.

The fierce-eyed shaven-headed Arnaut mountaineer jostled with the
mild-looking Scutarine Christian and kilted Mussulman; for those of the
other faith, curiously enough, offer their devotions on this day to the
mother of the Christ whom they despise. Indeed though one half the
Albanians call themselves Christians, and the other half profess to be
Mohammedans, there is really little distinction between them. The
Mohammedans worship the Virgin Mary; the Christians make pilgrimages to
the sepulchres of Mussulman saints, and mingle all sorts of grotesque
alien superstitions with their Christianity, which the priesthood in
vain strive to eradicate.

I was told that even some relics of the old Greek paganism linger in
these mountains.

I myself have seen the Arnauts attempt to read the future from the
entrails of a sheep which they had slain for a feast.

Before the service we had an opportunity of witnessing a Christian
funeral. The coffin was borne on the shoulders of men, while the women
followed at a distance, crying and wailing, as is and has been the
custom, in all the East, for all time:--

"He was strong in the chase, he was handsome, he was lovable, he was
brave. Alas! no more will he be loved, no more will his swift feet
carry him to the hunt. His enemies will rejoice, and throw away their
fear. Alas! alas! he has gone from us! he will be hidden in the cold
earth."

In the evening a band played outside the church, and the jolly
Franciscan monks tucked up their gowns, and proceeded to amuse the
crowd with several balloons, which they filled with hot air and
liberated, to the great delight of all.

It was a good-humoured though savage-looking mob, and would set a good
example to many a gathering of Western civilization. The streets were
gaily lit with many-coloured Chinese lanterns. As we walked home after
the termination of the proceedings, I noticed that there were one or
two cases of drunkenness.

There was one man, an Arnaut, pretty far gone. As I consider the
different effects of alcohol on the brains of different races to be a
very interesting and curious study, I stood and watched the mountaineer
for some time, at a safe distance; for he bristled with arms of course;
and if a drunken man, carrying with him two loaded pistols, a gun, and
yataghan, should run amuck, or conceive a sudden dislike to the English
foreigners, the consequences might be unpleasant. However, he did
nothing of the kind. The sole effect of the raki was to make him
exceedingly devotional. He knelt down, raised his hands, and prayed in
a loud voice, and with a most intense and passionate earnestness. He
swung backwards and forwards--wrung his hands, as he worked himself
into a phrenzy of religious excitement. Then he kissed the muddy ground
over and over again with fervour, under the impression perhaps that he
was still at the foot of the empty shrine of the Madonna.

Lastly, he fell prone, face down in the mud, dead drunk, when his
friends raised him and carried him off, with looks of shame on their
faces, for drunkenness is considered to be a beastly and degrading vice
in this uncivilized country.

While we were breakfasting on the following morning, our friend the
gendarme appeared, with a very downcast and despondent visage.

"The beasts!" he said. "O, these Turks! I cannot go with you, friends.
I had obtained leave, as you know, to accompany you on your journey
through Albania. Well, late last night I was sent for, and told that I
must stay at Scutari. They had seen me often in your company, and, as
is their custom, became jealous and suspicious; so they have got up
some idle excuse to prevent my going with you. This is the way they
treat us. They give us no pay; and when we do get a chance of making a
little money, do their best to get in our way."

Our poor friend was very cut up, and naturally so, for to be guard of a
party of Inglezi was a rare windfall for him, and very acceptable in
these hard times.

The authorities sent us a passport, and a very strange-looking being,
who was to be our escort on the morrow, one man being deemed a
sufficient protection, for the first stage at any rate. He was a tall,
miserable-looking zaptieh, in very ragged uniform. His face was of
extraordinary length, and lantern-jawed. He was almost skeleton-like in
his extreme thinness. He had evidently not known what a good meal meant
for a very long time.

We discovered him to be an intensely stupid and unintelligent being.
This did not promise well. Here we were, two Englishmen, utterly
ignorant of Turkish or Albanian, about to ride right across the country
in the company of a man who would not be of the slightest use to us in
any way.

We gave him a good feed, in hopes that this might develop some traces
of intelligence in his dense skull. All in vain. The only effect was,
that after having thoroughly gorged himself, he closed his eyes, gave
vent to a sort of choking sound, and fell fast asleep.

Everything was ready; we had bid adieu to our Scutarine friends, left
orders that our horses should be brought round early on the
morrow--then we retired to our beds among the sausages.

It was scarce dawn. There was a loud knock at our door--a rather
violent knock. The door opened; we expected to see the smiling face of
Toshli, who had come to announce the arrival of our ghostly zaptieh and
our brave steeds; but to our astonishment there entered, boisterously,
two bronzed and travel-stained Britons--in short, the long-lost Jones
and Robinson, whom we had given up long ago.

They stood laughing before us; but Brown and myself considered it
incumbent upon us to receive them in a slightly distant and dignified
manner as we sat up in our beds. We asked them to give an explanation
of their great dilatoriness in catching us up.

We found that they had started from England a fortnight after us, but
had been delayed at Cattaro and other ports, in consequence of some
extremely ingenious arrangement Robinson, the inventor, had made for
receiving money at different places on the route.

They had followed in our footsteps exactly--had taken boat from Trieste
to Cattaro, and thence walked, viâ Cettinje, to Rieka, where they had
taken a londra for Scutari. We inquired where the white elephant and
other Robinsoniana were.

They had left them at Cettinje, they said, and were going to return for
them. This further delay was by no means pleasing to Brown and myself.
We laid our programme before them, and expected that they would fall in
with it at once. A very warm discussion ensued, very nearly resulting
in a re-separation of our forces.

They had been very well received, it seems, by the Montenegrins, and
had promised some of the chieftains at Cettinje that they would return
to that capital as soon as they had seen Scutari.

The war between the principality and the Albanians, so long talked of,
was, they said, now but a question of a few days. They had been invited
to accompany the army of Prince Nikita, which was on the point of
advancing on Gussinje, as the honoured guests of the general in
command.

There are certainly two sides to every question. From the little we had
seen of the two countries, Brown and myself had formed a decided
preference for the Albanians over the Montenegrins; but we found that
our two friends were full of praises of the Black Mountaineers, and
abuse of the Skipitars. The Montenegrins have rather a knack of
wheedling over strangers to their own views of the question. Jones and
Robinson, however, to a great extent modified their opinions later on,
when we had seen a little more of both sides.

The discussion progressed with considerable warmth. Our recently found
friends insisted on returning to Montenegro. Brown and myself were very
loth to give up our projected ride across the little-known countries of
North Albania. We often wandered from the point into hot dispute as to
the virtues or the reverse of the respective races. Ultimately a
compromise was effected. We decided to convert Rosso and Effendi into
baggage animals, and walk from Scutari to Podgoritza, an important
town, acquired by Montenegro from Turkey during the late war, and which
was but two days' march from Gussinje. Here the Montenegrin forces were
to concentrate, before advancing against the enemy. If we found that
war was really intended, we agreed to carry out the programme of our
friends. If we found that it was being indefinitely delayed, we would
return to Scutari, and march to Previso by the route Brown and myself
had decided on.

Brown and myself gave in with great reluctance, feeling that our
friends, after delaying us so long, were now about to take us on a wild
goose chase after a phantom war. I do not think either of us recovered
that sweetness of temper which distinguishes us until after the dinner
we partook of that evening at the hospitable board of the British
Consulate.

During the above discussion our ghostly zaptieh was announced. With the
aid of our landlord we tried to explain to him that his services were
no longer needed by us. This man, as I have said, was the incarnation
of stupidity; as a Turkish soldier, he was also a model of obedience to
those who were put in authority over him.

He had been ordered to conduct us to Priserin--so much had got into his
head; and conduct us to Priserin he would, notwithstanding our
insistence that we had now altered our intentions. "The Pasha told me
to take you to Priserin," was all we could get out of him. He would
have attempted to take us there by force, I believe, had we not quieted
him with another full meal, which had the same soporific effect as that
of the previous day.

When we told Mr. Green of our altered plans, in the evening, he
remarked that at any rate our throats would be safe in Montenegro,
which is more than they would be in this country. "But," he added, "if
you visit Podgoritza you will not be able to return here and visit
Priserin. They will have heard of your friendship with the Montenegrin
general, and will inevitably take you as spies, and treat you as such
in a very summary manner. If you return here and wish to travel to
Janina, you must do so by the other route, which takes you through the
cities of Tirana, Elbessan, and Berat."

The next day we made preparations for our journey.

As it was a doubtful question whether we should find food on the road
to Podgoritza, an unfrequented track, with rather a bad reputation for
Arnauts, we purchased a horse-hair saddle-bag, and laid up a good stock
of rice bread, mutton, raki, and other necessaries. Robinson had
brought his cooking apparatus with him to Scutari, and was very anxious
to bring it into use on the earliest occasion.

The evening before our start we very luckily came across a man who had
served as groom to Captain Sale, of the late frontier commission. He
seemed to understand a word or two of English and Italian, and had a
very good character from the Consulate. So we hired him for a month. A
very useful fellow he turned out to be. He was dressed in full Arnaut
costume, which never left his back during the whole of his stay with
us--five weeks, and yet, in some mysterious manner, it ever appeared
snowy and new, indeed, his appearance did us credit. He was a young
fellow of pleasing countenance, the chief characteristic of which was a
perpetual grin. Like all I met of his race, he was faithful and honest,
and soon became attached to his masters. His preparations for the
journey did not require much time, for his luggage consisted simply of
a large gingham umbrella.



CHAPTER XII.

March to Podgoritza--An Albanian khan--Our cook--The Fund--Across the
lake--Night visitors--The frontier--Podgoritza-The armourer--The war
minister--Dobra Pushka.


Over our last glass of grog before turning in for the night, we had
determined to start at daybreak this morning. So abominable was the
weather, however, that we preferred to indulge in the comfort of our
beds a little longer. An unbroken mass of cloud covered the whole sky,
from which poured down a steady deluge, which had a deliberate look
about it, as if it had no intention of ceasing for a month at least.
Jones looked out of the window, scanned the horizon mournfully, and
remarking that he thought the rainy season would soon begin, got into
bed again.

At last we mustered courage enough to rise, ordered a substantial
breakfast, and sent the faithful Marco to saddle Rosso and Effendi.
When Rosso was brought in front of the hotel, he evidently objected to
standing out there in the rain while we breakfasted in comfort within;
so he walked into the room in which we sat, and made a very fair meal
off a deal box that stood in the corner. Our saddle-bags and blankets
were placed on the horses' backs, and the expedition started. Our
gendarme and landlord saw us well out of the town, where a stirrup-cup
was indulged in. We must have looked very imposing: first Marco in his
Arnaut dress, sheltering himself with a huge umbrella, the only article
of luggage he brought with him; then the two horses; and lastly, our
four selves.

All in top-boots--Jones, Brown, and myself well protected with hooded
military macintoshes we had bought in Turkey, while Robinson was
enveloped in a ponderous English yeomanry great-coat, which must have
weighed something when it was thoroughly soaked. Our rifles were slung
to our shoulders. Jones was the proud bearer of an Arnaut gun, of which
I shall have to say more anon. He also carried a pocket filter, slung
to his shoulders.

This day's journey was certainly not a pleasant one. The road from
Scutari to Podgoritza is not much of a road at the best of times; it is
a mere track. For the first day's march it traverses the plain which
borders the east shore of the lake.

This day it was difficult to know what was intended for lake, what for
road; it was all the same. The lake had the advantage, if anything, of
being the less muddy of the two. We were up to our knees in water all
day. I endeavoured to enter into conversation with Marco, and was
grieved to find he was a fraud. Yesterday, when we hired him, I spoke
to him in Italian and French, curiously mixed together; for I was told
he understood a little of both these languages. To everything I said he
replied briskly, _Ça bonne, monsor, ça bonne_. This is the man for
us, I said; he understands all I say. "Then he must, indeed, be a
wonderful man," my friends replied; "let us have him."

But alas! I now discovered that Marco's linguistic powers were very
limited. Give him an order; he never confessed to his absolute
ignorance of what you were talking about, but blithely came out with
his perpetual _ça bonne, ça bonne_, as if that was all that was
required of him. However, by degrees I discovered what words he knew of
French, what of Italian, and what of English (for he had even picked up
some words of our tongue when in the service of the commissioners).
With the addition of a few words of Sclav and Albanian, I then
manufactured a mongrel tongue, which was common to Marco and myself,
and utter gibberish to any one else. About midday we halted for lunch.
We stood up to our knees in mud and water under the pouring rain, ate
sausage, and each in turn made use of the filter, which was placed in
the muddy water of the road, while the purified fluid was sucked
through an indiarubber tube.

Marco was much astonished and pleased at this proceeding. A tot of rum
all round completed our modest repast. On the way we were joined by a
man who was also travelling to Podgoritza--a Montenegrin, on horseback.
Being alone, he was glad to join our party, well armed as we were, for
the Arnauts that inhabit the mountains that were to the right of us
have a bad name, and are much given to plundering travellers.

At last a large house rose before us. "That is the khan of Coplik,"
said Marco. "We must pass the night here, for the next house of any
kind is eight hours off."

We entered the khan, and found it to be a more luxurious place than we
expected to find. An upper room was given to us for our use. It had no
windows, but the rough stone wall and raftered roof admitted plenty of
daylight, not to mention rain and wind. The floor was also well
ventilated, as was the door that opened on the wooden gallery outside.
As Jones remarked, our chamber combined the comforts of a home with the
sanitary advantages of a hydropathic establishment. There was no
furniture of any kind, and the whole of the elegant chamber was
blackened with smoke. We soon spread our blankets, and made ourselves
very comfortable. We had brought some provisions with us, but Marco was
sent out in search of any dainty there might be in the establishment.
In a Turkish khan you are supplied with shelter and firing; bedding and
provisions you are supposed to bring with you.

The landlord, a grim-looking Arnaut, came in with Marco, and said he
could let us have two fowls, but would be pleased if we came out and
shot them. He evidently wished to see our weapons in use, so we
gratified him. Our Nimrod, Robinson, blew one rooster to pieces. Brown
was satisfied with knocking off the head of the other with a Winchester
bullet. (We were charged 5_d._ each for them.) A brazier of charcoal
was brought up to our room, and a large pot; whereupon Brown, taking
upon himself the office of cook, commenced to prepare our meal, and
very successful he was.

He cut up the fowls, and boiled them up with slices of sausage,
macaroni, grease-meal, salt, pepper, all from our commissariat bag. I
am not sure he did not even add some of the flea powder as seasoning.
We watched him hungrily and anxiously. Awful would have been his end
had he spoiled that dish. Wet through as we were, we thoroughly enjoyed
the meal, which we washed down with the rum we had brought with us, and
raki we bought from the khanji. Very contented and jovial I know we all
felt afterwards as we squatted round the fire on our blankets, smoking
our pipes and drinking our coffee. Marco too seemed to thoroughly
appreciate our cookery, and grinned happily for the rest of the day.

Our retiring for the night did not involve much preparation. To take
off one's boots and roll oneself up in one's blanket sufficed. Robinson
suggested that the door should be left open, as the fumes of the
charcoal fire might suffocate us in the night. Considering the number
and size of the orifices in roof and wall we thought this would be
excess of caution. The prudent Robinson had also heard many awful tales
of Eastern khans, and suggested that some one should remain awake. In
England, before starting on this expedition, we had determined to
station regular watches every night. Here was a good opportunity to
begin, but somehow no one seemed quite to see it; I think we were too
sleepy. One good and useful suggestion was, however, made. This was,
that when sleeping in perilous places we should keep Brown away from
his flea-powder. He would then of a certainty keep an admirable watch.
In the middle of the night a gruff and sleepy voice was heard to issue
from the blanket in which Jones was enveloped, "Bother that crumb."
"What is the matter?" we inquired. "There is a crumb in my bed," was
the reply. "It got under my side, and woke me up." On searching for the
crumb, Jones found it was his Colt revolver that had thus troubled his
sleep. We slept very well in spite of rain, wind, and insects, and were
up at daybreak, packing our baggage for the day's march.

As we gradually discovered each other's talents, we apportioned to each
his particular duty on the march or in the camp. Brown had displayed
such great culinary skill that we unanimously elected him _chef_ to the
expedition. As a branch of this important office, it was his province
to decide what vegetables and other comestibles should be purchased
when the commissariat bag was light. He was also a capital muleteer,
and would urge on our steeds, when lazily inclined, with considerable
results. Robinson was so occupied with the carriage of his weighty
rifle, that none of his talents had scope for manifestation on the
march. However, he was a wonderful man at packing the tent and baggage,
and so made himself very useful every morning in getting things in
order. Jones, the philosopher, was general supervisor of the others,
saw that all went well, and pensively looked on while others worked. On
me was inflicted the most arduous duty of all. I was dubbed the
Fund--that is, I was banker and paymaster. This office was conferred on
me in consideration of a certain smattering I had of the Latin tongues.
French and Italian are far more useful in Turkey than are any other
European languages. When we came across the Franciscan missionaries, in
the mountains, I conversed with these fluently and rapidly, in dog
Latin crossed with Italian--a language that would have much astonished
my masters at Westminster in the olden time.

There was one advantage in being Fund. Having command of the wealth of
the party, I was followed, flattered, and made much of by the others.
Later on, on our return journey across Europe, the office changed
hands. Brown became Fund, and the old Fund was neglected and forgotten
for the new--such are men.

This was a hard day's march. Our route for many hours lay across the
same little cultivated and monotonous plain. We saw but little game,
and that we could not get at. We caught glimpses occasionally of the
long line of the lake of Scutari, to the left of us; while on our
right, behind the rolling plains, rose the huge bare mountains of
Castrati. At last, as we approached the termination of the lake, the
flat country came to an end, and the mountains fell down to the edge of
the water. Our road now became exceedingly difficult, a mere goat-track
up and down the rugged hill side, now across _couloirs_ of _débris_,
as they call them in the Alps, now through jungles of thorn, and
now up almost perpendicular rocks. The rain had ceased, and the
sun was uncomfortably hot for such work as this. Our Montenegrin
fellow-traveller, who started with us this morning, dismounted from his
horse, and was obliged to push him bodily over the worst parts. We had
to keep a sharp eye on Rosso and Effendi; they slipped and stumbled
incessantly. Rosso proved to be the best mountaineer of the two.
Effendi was far less sure-footed. This little animal again was so well
fed that his circumference was a mathematical circle in form. Thus, as
he had none of the Rosinante-like angles of Rosso, which gave hold to
the strappings, his pack was continually twisting round and rolling
under him. At last, hot and thirsty, we reached a little plateau just
over the lake, where were pitched three or four tents, the quarters of
a small party of the most utterly miserable-looking Turkish soldiers I
had ever cast eyes upon. All were in rags. Their uniforms were
supplemented with some garments of the country. They were bare-footed,
or wore the native punkoa.

"What important garrison town may this be, Marco?" said Jones.

"_Ça bonne, monsor, ça bonne_," replied our grinning domestic. I
don't know whether the place has a name; I should say it had, being in
this country, where three houses constitute a town. There were three
officers here, who shared one miserable tent. The poor fellows had not
seen pay for a very long time. One, a Crimean medallist, a defender of
Kars, was down with fever badly. They invited us into their wretched
quarters, and ordered coffee for us. They had no sugar, but this we
were able to provide them with. We also had some cakes of chocolate,
which we presented to them, and which they seemed very glad to get.
They were fine-looking fellows, but all had that sad look which true
Turks wear in these latter days. With the aid of Marco as interpreter,
we were able to converse with them on various subjects. They seemed to
despair of their country, and, like all I met, put all the blame on the
evil system of government. They told us that a londra would be here
soon, bearing provisions from the fortress of Helm for this post. The
londra would then return, and we could go with it, thus saving
ourselves a five hours' very rough march. We gladly availed ourselves
of the offer, and waited for the arrival of the boat. We studied our
maps, and tried to make out where we were, and what branch of the lake
this might be which we were to traverse. The maps on this occasion, as
on all others, gave no information on the subject. The fact of the
matter is, there is no map of this part of the Turkish dominions. The
rivers, lakes, and towns, are put in by guess-work.

The londra at last arrived. It was manned by six or seven disreputable
and hungry-looking soldiers. The provisions were landed; these
consisted of a few maize loaves and a small bag of rice.

We bid adieu to our friends the officers, with a little difficulty
persuaded Rosso and Effendi to embark, and were soon gliding swiftly
across the smooth lake. In about an hour we had reached the opposite
side. Here were three or four houses, occupied by Turkish officers,
while the men were camped out on the edge of the lake in tents, so
ragged and torn that they must have been next to useless. In the
background, a few miles from the lake, there was a steep mountain, on
whose summit was a large fortress. This place we found is called Helm.
We landed, and at once resumed our march, which lay under the mountain,
and across a broad and lengthy plain which lies between Podgoritza and
the lake. There was no sign of cultivation anywhere. The plain was a
pebbly desert, scanty grass and a sort of prickly thorn being the sole
vegetation.

The heavy rain had once more set in, and before we had marched very
far, the waters, rushing down from the distant mountains, converted the
plain into a lake, across which we waded, the muddy compound rising
above our top-boots. Darkness at length came on, so as we should
certainly have lost ourselves had we gone much further, we entered a
khan, which turned up before us just in time. It was a rougher and less
civilized khan than that of the previous evening. There was but one
room in it; the floor was of clay; the walls, as usual, black with the
smoke of ages; and the ventilation almost too perfect.

They had some goat's flesh here, so we were enabled to make an
excellent meal. Being tired after our long march, we then retired to
our beds.

Just by the bar, as we chose to call the corner of the room where the
raki and wine were stored, there was a broad wooden slab against the
wall, supported on logs, and sloping down outward at a slight angle.

This was to serve as our bed for the night. We lay side by side rolled
up in our blankets. The neighbourhood was soon made aware of our
arrival; the khan was filled with armed Arnauts, who came and stared at
us inquisitively, while they whispered to each other in a mysterious
manner.

There was something very comic in the situation. There we lay,
stretched out in a row on that deal board, for all the world like the
corpses lying side by side, in similar fashion, on the marble slab of
the Paris morgue.

However, enveloped as we were in our voluminous blankets, nothing could
be seen of us but four projecting nasal organs. But this was quite
enough for our friends. Throughout the night they came and went through
the open door: there were never less than a dozen admiring us at a
time.

Towards the morning the bard of the district came in, tuned up his
guzla, and favoured us with a dismal selection from his _repertoire_.

His voice was high and cracked, but he sang fiercely and energetically,
while all the natives listened, spellbound and silent. I presume he was
singing our praises--he was evidently chanting the doings of some great
warriors.

Jones at last sneezed so violently in the middle of his song that the
minstrel was quite disconcerted, and sadly laying down his instrument,
stretched himself on the floor and slept. Being now at peace, we
followed his example.

I might as well mention the fact that I have never seen a Montenegrin
or Albanian take off his clothes before retiring for the night. I
believe, except when one of these people buys a new suit, he never
does, on any occasion whatever, undress. The poorer people, who never
do indulge in new suits, merely patch up the old while on them.

The next morning, at daybreak, we swallowed some boiling coffee, and
prepared for the march. Our toilet was simple enough: as Jones said,
"All I have to do is to rub in dubbin on my boots, and sling on my
pocket filter, and I am ready."

It was a bright, sunny morning. This change of the weather was very
welcome to us, wet through as we had been, night and day, since we left
Scutari. Half-way between Helm and Podgoritza a river crosses the
plain. The rapid water has eaten for itself a deep, narrow channel with
perpendicular sides. This forms the frontier between Turkey and
Montenegro. We crossed this torrent on a well-made bridge, in whose
centre was a stone, on one side of which were inscribed the arms of the
mountain principality, on the other side the star and crescent of the
Sublime Porte. From here we saw, far away over the plain, the minarets
of Podgoritza, standing out white against a background of dark
Montenegrin mountains.

It was not long before we were outside the town. It had been a dreary
morning's march. The plain, which with care might return much to the
agriculturist, was left bare and uncultivated. One need not search far
for a reason. We were on the frontier, on the scene of perpetual border
frays. He who sowed here would sow for the whirlwind only.

  [Illustration: PODGORITZA.
                _Page_ 177.]

Close to the town was a rough sentry-box; out stepped a Montenegrin
sentry, quite a boy, and challenged us. We amused him by showing him
our passports, which he gravely considered, first upside down, then
sideways; then he held one up to the sun, then shook his head and
returned them. He questioned Marco as to what we were. "These are
consuls Inglesi," replied the faithful one; "English consuls on the
spree." This was sufficient. We were saluted and allowed to pass.

I believe that throughout our stay in Montenegro we were invariably
taken for English Consuls, on a sort of happy-go-lucky holiday; anyhow,
we were highly appreciated by all the natives we came across.

It was very amusing to hear Marco explain us to inquisitive people.
Some passers-by would stalk by us--too polite and proud to stare or
show any surprise at our appearance; but having passed us, they would
stop Marco, and whisper to him, "What are these men?" "Great
diplomatists," would reply Marco, with dignity. "Consuls Inglesi. That
one in the spectacles is the head diplomatist. All great diplomatists
wear spectacles, you know."

We passed through the ruined walls which surround Podgoritza, and
marched down several badly-paved streets to the chief khan of the
place.

Podgoritza is a considerable town, with a population, I should say, of
8000 at least. It is picturesquely situated on the east bank of the
Moracha, a turbulent stream, and one of the chief feeders of the Lake
of Scutari. A large proportion of the inhabitants are Mohammedans.

The treaty of Berlin handed over this important Albanian fortress to
Montenegro. The Black Mountaineers had only occupied the place a short
time before our arrival. But all seemed to be going on peaceably; the
inhabitants appeared quite reconciled to their new government.

Our khan had been recently the house of a wealthy Mohammedan, and was
quite an imposing building. An archway led through to a court-yard,
surrounded by stables; above the stables run a wooden gallery, on to
which opened the various apartments. It was exactly like some of the
old-fashioned inns of the posting days, which one still comes across so
frequently in Normandy.

We had a very pleasant chamber handed over to us for our use. A window
filled one side of it. As this window was unglazed, this was rather a
chilly residence at this time of the year, when the bora blew strong
and fresh from the snow-capped mountains. In our honour, one half of
the window was glazed. I suppose this exhausted all the glass in the
town, for no effort was made to complete the work, though we were here
for several days. A divan ran round the wall, on which we were to
sleep. They cooked for us at this hotel, but there was little variety
in the cuisine; one day stewed fowl and stewed mutton, the next stewed
mutton and stewed fowl, and so on. We found there were some bottles of
Cyprus wine downstairs, at the bar. We very soon exhausted these, for
Cyprus wine seemed a great delicacy, after the rough Albanian wines and
rakis.

After breakfast Robinson and Marco rode off to Cettinje, fifteen hours
from here, to fetch the tent and the rest of their baggage.

While they were away we explored the town, and made the acquaintance of
a very good fellow, Gospodina Milosh, the government armourer, who was
now very occupied in putting into order the rifles which the
mountaineers brought down to him, anticipating the invasion of Albanian
territory, the orders to march being daily expected. This gentleman had
been sent to Vienna to learn his trade, and spoke German well, so was a
useful interpreter for us during our stay.

There was a large building adjoining our hotel, which was occupied by
the minister of war for Montenegro. It was he who led the highlanders
in those successful battles they fought with the Turks on the
Herzegovinan frontier during the last war. His name I have forgotten.
Every morning we saw him and a dozen chiefs, and others, stalk up and
down the river side in front of our window, for it was out of doors he
transacted his business, received his despatches, gave his orders, and
formed plans for the investment of Gussinje.

The next morning we went outside the town with our landlord (who by the
way was a sergeant in the army, as the metal eagle in his cap
betokened), for a little practice with our rifles.

We easily beat the natives on this as on all other occasions, and gave
them a very high idea of our skill as rifle shots.

I hit the target (a pocket handkerchief) at a 200 yards' range, at the
first shot, which so pleased the spectators that they gave me the name
of the "dobra Pushka."

There is a little bazaar in Podgoritza, through which we strolled. We
purchased some of the native caps, for it is always advisable to wear
these when in Montenegro; the people like one to assume their national
head-covering, and have a strong dislike for European hats.

We tried to catch some fish in the river, but failed, so returned to
our caravanserai for our usual mutton and fowl. A curious lad waited on
us--he was very open-eyed and solemn, his dignity was not to be
disturbed by any amount of chaff. We called him Johnny, and spoke to
him in any language that came handy, "Asht hazer bouka, donno me
hongr?" (Is the food ready? we want to eat) was a sentence--half of
which, by the way, is Sclav and half Albanian--which was frequently
inflicted on him. "Yest, yest, hazer" (Yes, yes, it is ready) was the
welcome answer he vouchsafed to us on our entry this evening. _Yest_,
which literally signifies "It is," is the affirmative in this language,
and at first surprises an Englishman by its resemblance to his native
"yes."



CHAPTER XIII.

War preparations--Our camp visitors--An impromptu ball--English Consul
fashion--Robbers--Ruins of Douka--A dangerous bath--Bastinado--Karatag
yok mir.


The following day we took a walk in the country, with our friend the
armourer. The sheltered hollows literally swarmed with tortoises; one
could count as many as sixty within the space of a few yards. A gap was
pointed out in the distant hills behind the town, where was fought one
of the most sanguinary battles of the last war--the battle of Medun--in
which Prince Nikita gained a signal victory.

Our friend told us some wonderful story about a rich Turk who inhabited
the present ministry of war some four years ago, before the war broke
out. He was tyrant of Podgoritza, and forbade any one to bear arms in
the town. This restriction seems to have excited the wrath of the
Montenegrins, who were wont to come down to the Albanian city on
market-day. Two of these daring highlanders came into the town one
morning, concealing pistols on their persons. They met the aforesaid
rich Turk in the bazaar, called him a dog and a thief, and thereupon
blew his brains out.

The Mohammeddans then rose, and put every Montenegrin in the town to
death--some twenty or thirty.

This, he said, was one of the causes which led to Prince Nikita's
taking part in the Russo-Turkish war.

We had invited our new friend to sup with us. He seemed to appreciate
fowl and mutton very well.

He gave us much interesting information as to the prospects of war and
other matters. He said that artillery was already posted on the heights
above Gussinje, and that the prince's troops would not be long in
driving out the enemy. He told us he was not allowed to fight himself,
his services as armourer being so exceedingly important. This was a
source of great grief to him. In the last war he ran away from his work
and joined the troops. The prince caught and rebuked him, sent him back
to his forge, and told him to consider himself as a prisoner there. He
once more sneaked down to the front during a great battle, his warlike
ardour being too much for him. This time again the prince found him
out, but could not refrain from laughing, and was obliged to pardon
him.

The next day Robinson rode in with both horses. He had made rather a
muddle of his errand, for having come down from Cettinje as far as
Rieka, he then left Marco, to bring the tent and baggage on by londra
to a place called Jabiak. It ultimately turned out that Jabiak was just
as far from here as Rieka was. Brown rode off with a guide to this
place, and then found the unhappy Marco sitting alone, disconsolate,
tobacco-less, on the white elephant, mid the sedges by the shores of
the lake, waiting till he should be called for. Brown described him as
being an indescribably piteous object, as he meditated alone in that
dismal swamp.

When, on the following day, Brown, Marco, the white elephant, and the
two horses returned, we held a council; and though all unanimous in
desiring to leave Podgoritza as soon as possible, could not decide as
to whither we had best go until this dilatory war, which had been
promised us by Robinson and Jones as an inducement to postpone our
Albanian travels, should commence. As we discussed warmly the armourer
came in, and said, "The minister of war wishes to see you as soon as
you can give him an hour." "We can come now," we replied. So he ushered
us into the reception-room of the war ministry, where sat the courteous
and handsome old veteran, looking fully twenty years younger than he
is. We sat on a divan, and were presented with coffee and cigarettes in
the Turkish style. The armourer acted as interpreter, translating the
general's words into German, which language both Jones and Robinson
understood well. He said "he was exceedingly glad to see English
travelling in his wild native country, and trusted we liked the people.
Go all over it," he added; "you will be safe. Pilfering and highway
robbery are quite unknown among us." On being questioned as to the
preparations for war, he said, "It was to tell you about this I desired
to see you. You wish to see the campaign: you shall do so. You shall
come with me as my guests. My servants shall be yours. On no account
leave the country just yet. What will be done will be worth your
seeing." On being told that we were rather pressed for time, he went on
to say, "Negotiations are pending at Constantinople. In four days we
shall know all. Come to me then, and I can tell the very hour we march.
That war will be, I am certain. The Albanians are sure to resist.
Prince Nikita too has sworn to take Gussinje. It is his by treaty. We
will take it, and no quarter will we give the dogs. Why should we? They
are rebels. Turkey says she has given up the place to us, and that it
is not her fault if the inhabitants resist. We will not spare one of
them. If you wish to see something of the country before you see me
again, go to Douka, where the great ruins are--they are worth
visiting--then you can return here."

This proposal pleased us, so the commissariat was sent out to procure a
large quantity of raki, mutton, flour, and other necessaries. Robinson
was anxious to try the white elephant as soon as possible, so it was
determined to take one of our horses to bear our impedimenta, and march
out to as near Douka as we could manage this afternoon, and then camp
for the night.

Douka is situated on the right bank of the river Moracha, some miles
above Podgoritza.

Our landlord came with us, for as the sun was setting we did not expect
to march for more than an hour, and he wished to see us comfortably
settled for the night. Marco we left behind.

We marched on the left bank of the Moracha, thus cutting off a long
loop which the stream formed here, and by sunset had arrived at a spot
just opposite to the ruins of Douka, the broad and foaming river
dividing us from it.

We pitched our tent in the plain not far from the precipitous edge of
the river. The white elephant certainly looked very imposing, and was
very comfortable. We unpacked the horse, and arranged all our property
in an orderly manner in our new home. Then our landlord rode back to
Podgoritza. The sun was now setting over the western hills, so we lost
no time in cutting down some of the brushwood, and making a large fire
some ten yards from the entrance of the tent; the pot was then put on,
and a tasty stew prepared of mutton, grease-meal, onions, pepper, and
salt.

I do not know whether, in Montenegro, to pitch a tent and light a fire
signifies a general invitation to the country-side to come and make
merry and carouse, but that was the result on this occasion. As night
set in, first one and then another armed highlander would drop in, walk
into our tent in the calmest manner, quite _sans gêne_, shake us by the
hand, with a "_Dobro Eutro Gospodina_," then sit down, roll himself a
cigarette, and commence smoking. At first we thought these people
rather cool, but they were so polite that it was evident they did not
imagine their conduct to be in any way extraordinary.

At last a large crowd had assembled round our tent--a very curious
people. Where they came from we could not imagine. Houses there were
none in sight. They seemed to have no homes, no occupation. It was a
matter of utter indifference to them where they were at any time, or
where they slept. We were at this encampment for two days: all the time
they remained outside the tent in a most contented matter. They were
just as well there as anywhere else. After dinner we provided coffee
and raki for our visitors. Then an impromptu entertainment followed.
Robinson and myself gave a conjuring entertainment for the amusement of
the wild people. We sat at the remote end of the tent. About seventeen
of the audience sat inside in a double row: these were the swells in
the stalls. The gods outside filled up the open door and looked over
each other's shoulders, in a compact and surging mass. The conjuring
was much appreciated by our audience.

When we had exhausted our repertoire of tricks, all cleared out of the
tent, which had become very stuffy. It was a magnificent night. The
moon was rising over the distant mountains, and there was not a breath
of air to stir the rising smoke. We piled up the fire and made up a
glorious blaze, which threw a bright light on our fantastic visitors.
They were all now very merry and boisterous. They wrestled, sang, and
ran, like a lot of children. Why not get up a ball? proposed some one.
It was a happy idea; every one fell into it with delight. With loud
shouts and wild gestures they whirled round the fire hand-in-hand,
treading energetically, almost fiercely, a measure of their own. There
were two charming young ladies in the crowd, who were the decided
belles of the ball--Neda and Zekitza. Zekitza made a great impression
on Robinson's sensitive heart. She was a powerful young lady, for once
she disagreed with one of her partners about something, and caught him
a resounding slap, which felled him to the ground. She also wrestled
with another youth, and easily laid him low. It was a curious scene;
not the least curious object was the gallant Jones handing round
refreshments--raw raki in a saucepan, which girls and all partook of
freely.

"Verily," the Montenegrins must have thought, "these are consuls
Inglesi, and they do things in right good English consul fashion."

It was rather difficult to get rid of our guests when we wished to turn
in for the night. That any one should like privacy at times is
incomprehensible to Montenegrin or Albanian highlanders. They walk into
each other's huts, uninvited, at every hour of the night, to chat and
drink coffee. They seem to need a very small amount of sleep. I found,
in the cabins and khans we visited, it was the rule to turn in about
twelve and be up again at two, jabbering and coffee drinking; for it is
not that they have any work to do that these people are so early in
rising. After all, when you have no dressing or washing to get through,
getting up early becomes easier than when the complicated toilets and
tubbings of the Anglo-Saxon are before you.

When we arose the next morning the cook was horrified to find that a
saddle-bag, containing our mutton and tobacco, had disappeared in the
night. A burglarious entrance must have been made into our tent while
we slept. We remembered having seen two suspicious-looking young
fellows prowling about the camp during the ball, who were evidently
strangers to the rest of the Montenegrins present, and who seemed to be
shunned by them as disreputable vagabonds. These doubtlessly were the
thieves.

One of our visitors, seeing us searching for something, understood the
state of affairs, and told us by signs he would soon recover our
property. This we thought rather improbable; but he knew what he was
promising, as events showed.

The peasantry kindly brought some provisions to our camp this morning.
Tubs of veronica, a sort of sour milk, goat's-milk cheeses, and wheaten
cakes.

As our tobacco had all been stolen, I mounted Rosso and galloped into
Podgoritza, to procure some more. On my return to the camp we started
for the ruins of Douka, all our new friends following us. Further up
the stream an ancient man had a boat, in which he ferried us over,
three or four at a time. The boat was very rickety, and over-grown with
moss; the boatman of great age, ragged, and of exceeding ugliness. He
and his craft irresistibly called up Charon and his Stygian ferry to
our minds.

Douka was evidently a Roman city. The peasantry gave us several coins
they had found among the ruins; these were of the time of Diocletian,
and bore his effigy. There was not much to see--a few ruined walls, and
some slabs bearing illegible inscriptions, were all we could find. The
ruins were thickly overgrown with brushwood. However, I should say this
place would repay the labours of an excavator, for it must have been a
place of considerable importance once. We amused ourselves with some
rifle practice, and then returned to camp.

This evening Brown did a very imprudent thing--he washed himself. He
went down to the river, stripped, and jumped into a deep pool. We
warned him, told him he might be misunderstood by the people; but he
was obdurate.

Some Montenegrins on the other bank saw him. "What is it?" they said,
for at first they could not believe it was a man. Who ever saw a man
with his clothes off--in water, too?

They were about to fire at the mysterious object, when somehow they
recognized it as a human being. They were evidently much puzzled to
know what on earth he could be doing there. Was this a curious
religious rite of the Inglezi church? Was it a mystic ceremony
connected with witchcraft?

We were bound to make some explanation for Brown, for we found the
people fought very shy of him when he came out of the bath, and looked
upon him with evident suspicion and dislike, so we put our fingers to
our foreheads, shook our heads sadly, and intimated to them that our
poor friend was not quite right in his mind.

The next morning we were awoke early by the sound of voices outside our
tent. On looking out we found an officer of some rank, and several
armed men, bringing two prisoners to us. These were the very two men we
had suspected of stealing our mutton. Our saddle-bag and its contents
were restored to us by the captors. They had tracked the fellows up
into the mountains during the night, with the assistance of a
bloodhound. The officer stayed to converse with us awhile in very
limited Italian.

As for the prisoners, he merely turned to them, pointed towards
Podgoritza, and said "Go." They obediently skulked off in the given
direction, and awaited him in the bazaar.

We found afterwards that the poor fellows were sentenced to be
bastinadoed, thirty cuts on the sole of the foot each, and were then
imprisoned for some days in a sort of open prison or cage.

We had exhausted the charms of Douka, so packed our baggage, and
marched back to Podgoritza. Robinson superintended the lowering of the
tent. This was the sole occasion during the whole tour on which the
white elephant was brought into use. It was afterwards mildly suggested
to its inventor that it might be a question whether all the tribulation
and expense attending its carriage was made up for by these two nights'
encampment on the plains of the Moracha. He was silent on the subject.

On arriving at Podgoritza we at once called on the minister of war, to
learn the latest news of the war. He had heard of our little adventure
with the mutton pilferers.

He was much amused at our account of it. "Ah!" he said, "and I had only
just told you that robbers were unknown in Montenegro." As to the war,
he had no news to tell us. Orders to advance might come to-day, might
not come for a month. He knew no more than we did.

We left him, and retired to our chamber at the khan. After dinner we
were smoking silently and sulkily, when Brown, addressing Jones and
Robinson, sternly said, "This war of yours is a fraud, you have brought
us out here under false pretences." I joined in to assist my ally, and
laid stress on the delights of Brown's and my own projected march to
Janina, which we had put off to hunt this phantom war all over this
uninteresting country.

After a warm discussion it was decided to march back to Scutari on the
morrow. I communicated our design to Marco. The worthy fellow's face
broke into broad smiles, as he whispered hoarsely, "Good, monsor, good;
_Karatag yok mir_. Montenegro no bonne, no bonne." He evidently did not
feel comfortable among his hereditary enemies.



CHAPTER XIV.

An escort--A Turkish dinner-party--Brigands--Our sportsman--A chief
of the League--Objects of the rebels--Achmet Agha--A meeting of the
League--The Boulem-Bashi of Klementi--An Arnaut chieftain.


The next day (Saturday, November 1st), after our black coffee, and the
usual bustle attending the packing of our animals, we shouldered our
rifles, and made a start. Our landlord insisted on our pouring down
numerous glasses of raki in his house, and, according to the general
custom over here, accompanied us to about half a mile or more from the
town, when a halt was called. Then he produced a glass, and a large
bottle of mastic, which had to be finished by us ere bidding a final
adieu. We all highly approved of this good old custom.

It began to rain soon after we commenced our march, and the plain
assumed very quickly that lake-like appearance which we had observed
the last time we crossed it.

On arriving at the khan where we had slept on our march to Podgoritza,
we found in front of it a large encampment of Turkish soldiers. We
entered the house to get some coffee, and were then pounced upon by
some of the officers, who wished to see our passports, and learn who we
were, and whither we were bound. They insisted on sending an escort of
four men with us as far as Helm, for, as they told us, we were breaking
through all the regulations laid down by the government for the
security of travellers in journeying thus without zaptiehs. That
travellers should be thus escorted we knew to be the rule throughout
Turkey, but we evaded it whenever we could. In Albania such an escort
is worse than useless. In the first place, the zaptiehs will not
venture to go with you into the mountains, where the Arnauts would
probably attack them for the sake of their arms; and on the other hand,
their company is sure to make you very unpopular in every village you
go through, for these defenders of the peace consider they have a legal
right to requisition provisions, and all they want, without paying for
them.

On reaching Helm we found that the provision boat had left, thus we
were obliged to pass the night here. Robinson proposed that we should
pitch our tent. While we were discussing the point a Turkish officer
came up, and spoke to us in French. He pointed out a dismal stone house
by the lake side, and told us that the commandant of the troops
stationed here resided in it, and would be very glad if we would accept
his hospitality for the night. We were all delighted, with the
exception of Robinson, who sighed deeply--his beloved tent was not to
be pitched after all.

We were shown into a rough, unfurnished room, and dinner was soon
announced. We dined with the commandant and the French-speaking
officer, Marco and a negro soldier waiting on us. It was a regular
Turkish dinner--no chairs, no knives and forks. We had to squat down in
Eastern fashion, and eat the savoury pilaf with our fingers. After
dinner we entered into a lengthy conversation with the commandant, the
other officer acting as interpreter. He hated Albania, and the
Albanians. "Why," he said, "these dogs of Arnauts should be smoked out
of their fastnesses. My soldiers dare not leave the camp; if a few of
them stray a mile or two away, 'ping, ping,' a dozen bullets hiss about
their ears. The beasts murder them for their rifles. We might as well
be in an enemy's country at once. I advise you to be cautious in
travelling among these mountains. It is really very unsafe."

The conversation turned on politics. The old soldier seemed very
excited. "Ay!" he said, "all our friends have forsaken us; you English
even are no longer allies of the Turk. And this being so, why should we
do anything for you? why assist you? why listen any more to your
counsels? I will tell you, by Allah! there is but one stick left that
Turkey may lean on. Her only hope is in an alliance with the strong,
with Russia; that is what it will come to, you will see."

"I am afraid you will find that Russia devours her allies."

The commandant laughed. "There is something in that," he said. "The
truth is, that poor Turkey has no friends, and no hope. We shall have
to leave your Europe, I fear; but I do not think you will find that
Turkey, overrun by Sclavs, will be so much better than it is now."

The next morning our host ordered a special londra for us, and ordered
his men to row us down to a point on the lake, whence we could march to
Scutari before nightfall. Our crew of ragged soldiers, grim,
half-starved, some of negro, some of Arab blood, brought us, in about
two hours, to a sheltered little bay on the east shore of the lake. Our
course had lain across a regular forest of half-submerged trees, which
grew in fantastic shapes, and whose lower ends were thickly surrounded
with sedge and water-plants. The effect was curious, not unlike those
tropical swamps where vegetable life is so profuse and varied.

On landing we repacked Rosso and Effendi, and were just on the point of
bidding adieu to our crew, and commencing our march, when an incident
worthy of mention occurred.

With the exception of snipe, and such like small deer, we had come
across little game in Albania. The _feræ naturæ_ have little chance in
this barren country, where war is frequent, peopled as it is too by men
who never leave their thresholds without carrying their loaded guns
with them. But now, however, the keen eye of Jones suddenly lighted
upon a large and unknown bird, perched on a stump not fifteen yards
from the shore. It was a curious and melancholy-looking creature,
something like a mangy pelican with a moulting tail.

Now Jones, my readers will remember, had purchased an Arnaut gun at
Scutari, an orthodox flint-locked _pushka_, with barrel as long as
himself. This weapon had been strongly recommended by the vendor for
sporting purposes. On inspecting it, Jones noticed the barrel was most
decidedly bent. He pointed this out to the merchant. "Bent! Ah, that is
nothing," said he; "easily remedied." So saying he inserted the barrel
between two of the beams of his roof, bent it straight, squinted down
it, and handed it back. "There you are! Excellent pushka!"

With this weapon Jones proceeded to slay the mysterious bird on the
stump. Marco and the soldiers, on observing his intentions, became very
alarmed. "Do not shoot here," said our follower. "The noise will bring
down the Arnauts upon us; they will kill us."

But the sporting instinct of the Englishman was up. Slowly and warily,
with the lengthy pushka held out at full-cock, with finger on the
trigger, Jones crept nearer and nearer to the lake's edge. His
reputation as a mighty Nimrod in the stubble of his native land was at
stake. All our reputations were at stake as Inglesi, and therefore of a
race of sportsmen.

Silently, yet excitedly, the soldiers watched. The eyes of Marco
gleamed as he looked round. He was proud of us. "Now, you look out; you
watch," he whispered to the men. He nodded his head with a knowing nod,
that unmistakably said, "You will see." And "I told you so!" was ready
to jump from his lips as soon as the report of the gun awoke the echoes
of the wilderness. Our Nimrod crouched down; there was a pause; a great
suspense. Then his finger pulled the trigger; the lock snapped! There
was a fizzing sound, as of those "devils" the school-boy makes of damp
powder. With the fizzing there rose a pale blue smoke from the pan. The
bird heard the sound, looked round at the stranger and his fizzing
instrument curiously for a time, then, having satisfied his curiosity,
he deliberately shook himself, spread his rickety wings, and flew
slowly and majestically over the lake. It was nearly out of sight when
there was a report. The pushka went off with an imposing bang that
awoke the echoes of the mountains. A roar of Homeric laughter burst
from the assembly.

In the rainy season of Albania it becomes very difficult to preserve
the powder in the pan of one's gun in a properly dry condition. After a
few days it becomes a slow fuse. But Jones soon mastered the ways of
his mighty pushka, and was fairly successful in his future sporting
expeditions; for having carefully timed the fuse, his method was to
take aim and fire at least ten minutes ere the game was even in sight.

It was pitch dark when we reached Scutari, and walked through the
abominably roughly-paved streets to the Hotel Toshli, where the
brothers received us with open arms.

The next morning we held a council, to decide whither we should wander
next. We came to no immediate conclusion, as there was great diversity
of opinion. As Robinson was expecting a remittance from London, we
should most probably have to remain a few days at Scutari. Having
nothing better to do, we persuaded our friend the gendarme to introduce
us to a chief of the Albanian League, who was a friend of his.

The interview had to be arranged with caution, for, as our friend said,
"They know here you have been to Montenegro, and may suspect your
motives in wishing to question a member of the League."

It was settled that we should go to the gendarme's house in the
afternoon; there the chief in question would meet us.

In the afternoon Jones and myself were shown by the gendarme's Miridite
servant into a room, where, squatting on mats, coffee-drinking, were
our friend and a shrewd-looking old Albanian Mussulman, with
deeply-lined face, and anxious and restless eye. After the customary
salutations I entered into conversation with him, the gendarme, as
usual, acting as interpreter.

I told him the English wished to know what were the objects of the
League.

"Our object," he said, "is to defend our countries against the enemies
that surround us. The dogs of Montenegrin, the Servian and Greek swine,
all wish to steal a portion of Albania; but, praise be to Allah, we are
strong. The Albanians are brave; and guns and ammunition are not
wanting."

He tried to sound me as to the views of England, for he thought this
frontier dispute was absorbing all the attention of our countrymen. He
said, "England is our friend. They all say here she has supplied the
League with weapons and money."

That some power--most probably Turkey--has assisted the League in this
way, is certain. But it is curious that all the Albanians I met were
positive as to England being the friend in question.

The Government of Turkey does not find favour in the eyes of the
Albanians. "The Turks!" cried out the chief, angrily, "what do they do
for us? Tax us, rob us--that is all. These effeminate pashas, these
farmers of customs, do nothing for us in return for what they steal.
Can they defend us? protect us? No! They have sold us to the cursed
giaours of the Karatag. I tell you we will have the Turk no more. The
chiefs of the League have sworn it. Independence has been given to
Montenegro--to Bulgaria. Albania shall have her independence, and the
great powers shall recognize us. If not, we care not. Leave us alone;
that is enough for us."

He had now worked himself up into a furious rage, and was almost
choking with it; so he stopped, drank some sherbet, then turning
suddenly to me, said, "What do you English think of Midhat Pasha?"

"He is much liked by us," I replied. "He is looked upon as one of the
few honest and worthy Turkish officials."

He seemed very pleased at hearing this, and said, "What we wish is to
create an independent Albanian principality, with this Midhat Pasha as
our Prince--a principality under the protectorate of England. You will
see we shall have it."

I asked him whether this League was a purely patriotic movement, or
whether it was a religious one, confined to Mohammedans only.

"We are fighting for our independence," he replied. "There are as many
Christians in the League as Mussulmen. You know the Christians here are
of the Latin Church, and hate the Greek Christians as much as we
Mohammedans do."

He told me that one party of the League were not averse to the
occupation of Albania by some big power; not Russia, he said, nor
Italy, nor Austria; but England or France. For his part he did not wish
this.

With regard to the defence of Gussinje, he said, "We have 35,000 men
there, who will fight to the death. The Montenegrins cannot take
Gussinje. Why, they never yet have fought us in the plain. The beasts
can fight well enough behind their own rocks, but they are cowards to
attack. When the Skipitars raise their shout, and charge with the
yataghan, the Karatags tremble; they turn, they fly. Then we pursue
them, seize them by their long hair, and with a sweep of our blades cut
off the beasts' heads. Ah! it is sweet to see." And turning sharply to
me, "Why do not you go to Gussinje and see the fighting? Parties leave
Scodra every night for the front. I will give you a letter to Ali Bey.
He will welcome you as a brother."

The proposal was pleasing; Jones and myself at once agreed to accompany
the next party to Gussinje. We knew that the expedition was rather a
risky one. The garrison of Gussinje had been worked up to a high pitch
of fanatical madness, and might treat us with little ceremony did they
hear of our journey into the enemy's country. Under these circumstances
we thought it better that two of our party alone should go to Gussinje,
while the other two could make a sporting expedition into the mountains
beyond the plains of Scutari.

The next morning accordingly, Brown and Robinson, taking Marco with
them, shouldered their rifles, strapped their blankets on their
shoulders, and marched off towards the Miridite mountains--a lofty and
wild range, inhabited by the tribe of the same name, the most savage
and desperate of all the Christian highland class, a race that has
waged a perpetual war with the Turk for centuries. The Miridites are
exceedingly poor, in a condition of half starvation, for bodies of
Turkish troops ever and anon make incursions into the debouchures of
their valleys, driving off their flocks, burning their villages, and
compelling them to fly for safety into the cold and utterly barren
highlands.

The gendarme brought to our room at Toshli's, the morning of our
friends' departure, another member of the League, a chief of influence.
He slipped off his shoes at our door, and shuffled in, a short-legged,
stout, dropsical old fellow, with not over-clean festinelle, and a four
days' beard: he had the fierce eye which is the characteristic of the
Northern Albanians. The shaven head too of the Mussulman lent a
peculiar ferocity to his expression. I never cast eyes upon a more
blood-thirsty-looking old scoundrel. "Will your friend take some coffee
or sherbet?" I asked the gendarme. "He likes raki best," was the reply,
"when no one is looking on. He is not a very strict Mohammedan in this
respect." I found few Albanians indeed had very delicate consciences
when raki was in question.

This gentleman, who was introduced to us as Achmet Agha Kouchi, kept a
coffee-house in the Mohammedan quarter of the town. He purposed going
to Gussinje in a few days, and would be pleased if we would accompany
him.

We were to visit him at his café in the afternoon, to arrange matters.

After lunch we traversed the dismal streets of the Turkish quarter till
we reached the little café of our new friend. It was full of
Leaguesmen, who had evidently come to inspect us. I wish I had taken a
sketch of that interior. No slum of an Eastern city could show a group
of more cut-throat-looking, fierce ruffians than those Scutarine
conspirators.

They did not rise when we entered, but stared at us with savage,
lowering looks, that betokened suspicion and hatred of the giaour.

Achmet Agha told us that a party would start the night after next for
Gussinje; and that to-night there would be a meeting of the Scutarine
Leaguesmen, in the mosque near the river, to decide whether we should
be permitted to visit the besieged town.

In the morning he would let us know what had been decided.

In Toshli's this evening, I read an account in a Trieste paper of a
battle which had been fought near Gussinje, in which the Albanians had
been victorious. Rumours of all kinds had for days been flying about
the bazaar; but though Gussinje is but a three days' march from here,
nothing certain was known. Indeed the Scutarines were entirely without
information on the progress of matters.

Some excitement was caused by the departure of Mr. Green to-day for
Cettinje. He had of course gone thither to take a part in the
negotiations now pending, the Turks having sent a representative to the
Montenegrin capital, to try his utmost to arrive at an amicable
solution of the difficulty. The Scutarines, however, were quite certain
that Signor Green had gone off to threaten Prince Nikita with an
immediate declaration of war on the part of England, did he not without
delay withdraw his troops from the frontier.

The League met as usual at midnight, in the mosque, and till daybreak
discussed Jones and myself. The meeting was described to us. Said some:
"Let them not go; who knows that some of the men of Gussinje will not
murder them as giaours? Then what difficulty we shall be in. We will
have to avenge them, for they are our guests; there will be strife
between the defenders of our country, and the dogs of Karatag will
rejoice. Again, their blood will be upon our heads. Zutni Green will be
wrath. The English will be our friends no longer."

However, the dissentients were in the minority. The League of Scutari
gave its permission to our departure.

We were advised to wear the fez instead of our English hats, as this
would reduce the risk of our irritating the intensely excited
inhabitants of Gussinje: accordingly we purchased two of the orthodox
head-coverings.

Achmet Agha again called on us; he seemed rather uncomfortable. We
could see he had heard something about us, and did not like to carry
out his promise. Said he: "Who are you? Why do you wish to go to
Gussinje?" We replied: "In England we will write a book. The English
wish to know what the Albanian League means, whether it is good. It is
for that we wish to go to Gussinje, that we may see, and be able to
tell our countrymen the truth." "Ah," he said, "so your 'krail,' your
chiefs, have sent you for this. _Mir_, _mir_--it is good."

Then he paused, and said abruptly, "We shall not go to-morrow."

"Why not?"

"Because we know not how the other Leaguesmen will receive you. We must
first send to inquire of our general, Ali Bey, if he will have you."

This did not sound very pleasant to us. Ultimately he agreed to take us
on the morrow to a hut two hours distant from Gussinje; there he would
leave us while he rode into the town, to acquaint the chieftains with
our wishes, and obtain permission for us to visit Ali Bey.

The next morning we rose at daybreak, and found a strong "bora" was
blowing, and the snow lay thick on the distant mountains.

We prepared for the start.

Luggage we took none, except one blanket; but as it promised to be
exceedingly cold in the mountains, we each put on two flannel shirts
and two pairs of socks.

Achmet Agha called two hours after his time; he seemed confused and
troubled. Our host, Toshli, came forward as interpreter, for I managed
to make out a good deal he said. With him I conversed in a strange
mixture of Italian and Greek, one of the _six_ compound tongues I
had to invent in Albania in order to get on with the different people I
met.

Said Achmet Agha, "I cannot go with you. I have been told by the
authorities that if anything happens to you I shall be held
responsible; my house and property will all be confiscated. Besides, I
have to tell you that you are forbidden on any account to go to
Gussinje; the pasha will not have it." This all seemed very strange.
That the Turkish pasha and police authorities should have acted thus
seemed improbable. We afterwards found they did not even know anything
about our intended journey.

We did, however, hear something later on, which led us to very strongly
suspect that the attempt to stop us originated in a certain foreign
consulate at Scutari.

Naturally suspicious and jealous of English influence in Turkey, the
representatives of this power concluded that our government had sent us
here on some secret errand; and so, not being able to discover the
object of our mission, attempted to frustrate it altogether in an
underhand manner.

Jones and myself had now thoroughly made up our minds that we would go
to Gussinje, in spite of an over-officious consul, so we proceeded to
hunt about Scutari for a guide and dragoman.

No one could we find. Those we spoke to smiled grimly, drew their hands
significantly across their throats, and emphatically objected to go
anywhere near the hot little town.

One person, however, did volunteer to accompany us. This was the
English Consul's cook. He was a plucky little Albanian, very vivacious
and clever. He spoke two words of nearly every language in Europe, and
in default of better, would make a very fair dragoman for us. He had
adopted European costume, and wore jauntily on his head an English army
forage cap, the gift of the British sergeant who accompanied the
frontier commissioners last May. This cook was a man of some rank. In
Albania, a calling such as was his is not derogatory to a gentleman. We
had made his acquaintance at Toshli's, where he was famed for his skill
as a billiard-player. He went to Mrs. Green, told her of our intended
journey, and implored her to give him leave of absence, in order that
he might guide and protect the Inglezi travellers. Alas! It could not
be; his presence was indispensable in the consulate kitchen. Cooks are
not to be picked up every day in Scutari, at any rate such cooks as
this, for we had several opportunities of perceiving how skilled he was
in his profession, under Mr. Green's hospitable roof.

No one to be found to come with us! This looked bad; we almost
despaired of effecting our purpose, for to find our way alone across
the roadless mountains would have been impossible. To have travelled
among the savage Arnauts, without knowing ten words of their
language--madness.

As we discontentedly discussed the question in our bedroom, the head
cavasse of the English Consulate was announced. He brought with him a
tall, handsome, and very pleasant-looking Albanian Mussulman, evidently
a man of high rank, superbly dressed and armed. "This," said the
cavasse, "is the Boulim-Bashi of Klementi. He will accompany you to
Klementi, which is a day's march from Gussinje. There he will hand you
over to the chieftain of the Klementi, Nik Leka, who is a friend of
Signor Green. He will say to Nik Leka, these are friends of Signor
Green; treat them as his brothers, and if the danger be not too great
take them to Ali Bey."

My readers can imagine our delight. We could not travel under better
auspices. The condition of a boulim-bashi is curious. The Turks, as I
have before said, have never really conquered or assimilated Albania;
the Christian highlanders are allowed considerable independence. Now,
each Arnaut tribe is obliged to elect from the Mussulmen of Scutari a
representative, a sort of consul, who mediates between it and the
Turkish Government, who acts as their advocate in case of any dispute.
As he is chosen by the tribe from among the townsmen of rank, and as he
can be dismissed any day if the highlanders in any way object to him,
the boulim-bashi is always a popular man, liked by the tribe he
represents, and a very safe person in whose company to travel among the
highlands, for he is sure to be known to, and treated as a friend, by
every man met on the way. It was a great honour to be thus escorted,
and we afterwards discovered, the cause that led to the kind proposal.
The men of Klementi are deeply indebted to our consul, who took their
part in a certain quarrel between them and the Turkish Government, in
which justice was entirely on their side. Grateful for this, the
Klementis are ever glad to do any service for Zutni Green. Thus it was
that we as friends of the consul received this invitation. The Klementi
is the most powerful tribe of this district. There are 6000 fighting
men, all armed with Martini-Henry rifles, stolen from the Turks. Their
chieftain, Nik Leka, to whom the boulim-bashi was to escort us, is the
hero of the Scutarine Christians. The timid townspeople of the Latin
faith, unarmed as they are by law, live in fear of the Mohammedan
population, who have more than once fallen on and massacred them. It is
to the armed Arnauts of the hills, their fellow-Christians, that they
look for protection, for these are better warriors than the Mussulmen
themselves, never have been a subject race, but stalk, bristling with
arms, through the bazaars of the cities on market-days, as erect and
haughty as the most blue-blooded young Mohammedan emir of them all.

This Nik Leka had a little adventure recently in the bazaar of Scutari.
He was discussing some matter with a young Mussulman of rank, who had
three retainers with him. A quarrel ensued. The other called the Arnaut
chief a dog of a Christian. Nik Leka is a man of few words. He whipped
out his yataghan with his right hand, seized his enemy by the little
tail of hair which the faithful leave on their closely-shaven heads to
give Mahomet something to lay hold on when he pulls them into Paradise,
and the next moment there was a flash of bright steel, and the Arnaut
held up a bleeding head, while the body fell into the foul gutter
below. The man's retainers fell upon Nik Leka, but the wiry highlander
was too much for the effeminate townsmen. He slew two of them, the
third escaped; then he picked up the three heads with a grim smile,
tucked them under his arms, and marched off to his mountains, where he
exhibited the ghastly trophies to the tribesmen.



CHAPTER XV.

To Gussinje--The valley of the Drin--A rough road--In the mountains--
Hospitality--A pretty woman--A scientific frontier--Franciscans--Dog
Latin--Marco Milano.


It was settled that we should start early on the following morning.
Then the boulim-bashi bowed low, shook hands, and left us. We had
learnt something of the nature of the place we were about to visit from
Mr. Green and others. About three days' march from Scutari, across the
great Klementi mountains, there is a long and beautiful valley, which
penetrates deeply into the central range of the Mount Scardus. Down
this valley flows the White Drin, a stream of considerable importance,
that flows into the Adriatic, near Alessio. In this valley are Ipek,
Jakova, and Priserin, three of the most interesting cities of Albania,
inhabited by a population very skilled in the working of metals. The
most beautiful saddlery, filigree work, gold-hilted and jewelled
yataghans and pistols, are here worked by an industrious people.

But the population of these towns is ferociously fanatical. Surrounded
as they are by Christians, knowing that the day is not far off when the
rising ambitions and energies of the oppressed race will drive them
from their homes eastwards and southwards, the Mohammedans here hate
the Christians with a hatred more intense than even the followers of
this fanatical creed entertain in other parts. At the very head of this
valley of the Drin, where the river springs out from the grey rock, is
a ridge of forest-clad mountain, the ancient Pindus, which forms the
watershed of the tributaries of the westward-flowing Drin, and Bojana,
and the Lim, a river that flows northwards, joining the Drina and the
Save, across Bosnia and Servia, till it ultimately pours its waters
into the mighty Danube at Belgrade. At the head of the valley of
the Lim, situated in the centre of a green and fertile _cirque_,
surrounded by stupendous mountains, is the little town or village of
Gussinje, a congregation of sordid wooden huts. It is a place of great
strategic importance, for just behind it, on the ridge of the
forest-clad mountains, Montenegro, Bosnia, and Albania join.

By the provisions of the treaty of Berlin, Gussinje and its
neighbourhood was handed over to the Black Mountaineers--wherefore it
is difficult to see.

As conquerors in the war, it seems just enough that the Montenegrins
should have acquired Antivari by that treaty, a place of no strategic
importance, yet which gave them what they so long and eagerly thirsted
for, a seaport. But it was decidedly a mistake to extend Prince
Nikita's territory beyond the mountain ridge, a natural frontier, down
into the valley of the Lim, giving a command of it--a standing menace
to Turkey and Bosnia, a bone of many future contentions. It must be
remembered, too, that the inhabitants of the district to be given up
are not Sclav in race or language--not of the Greek church--but
Mussulmen or Roman Catholics. The Montenegrins have been made too much
of lately. They now imagine that they are a great people, and have a
holy mission of aggrandisement at the expense of Turkey.

Gussinje is a curious sort of a place, and has never enjoyed a very
sweet reputation. As in all parts of Northern Albania, the people do
pretty much what they like, and do not feel the Turkish yoke very
heavily. Situated as it is on the frontier, it has become a city of
refuge. Montenegrin renegades whose country has become too hot for
them, Bosnian Mohammedan refugees, and vagabonds of all sorts, have
flocked hither. It is in this town of Gussinje that the chiefs of the
Albanian League have concentrated their forces, determined to fight to
the bitter end, in spite of the Austrian troops in Bosnia to the north
of them, Turkish troops in their rear, Montenegrins before their walls,
and the doubtful neutrality of the Christian Arnauts, who are all round
them in the mountains, lying in wait to murder and strip small parties
of either side--for this is the idea of neutrality among these people,
an armed neutrality with a vengeance. Thirty-five thousand Albanians,
we were told, occupy Gussinje, at the head of whom is Ali Bey.

Ali Pasha, as he has styled himself, is a Gussinian of rank, owner of
lands and houses in the town and neighbourhood, a man of great
intelligence, and a devout Mussulman.

He was one of the principal people implicated in the assassination of
Mehemet Ali at Jakova.

This general, as my readers will remember, was sent by the Porte on the
dangerous mission of negotiating the transfer of Turkish territory to
her enemies. He was strongly advised not to venture into that hotbed of
fanaticism and fierce patriotism, Jakova. The League held possession of
the town; the population was worked up to the highest pitch of
excitement; every one knew the history of the envoy. As a foreigner, a
Pasha's favourite boy, a renegade, he was certain to be disliked and
suspected by rigid Mussulmen, and was the very last man that should
have been sent on so delicate an errand. It is rumoured that the
jealousy of his enemies at Constantinople sent him on this surely fatal
journey.

His death was decided on by the League. The projected murder was talked
about freely in the bazaars of Albania fully two weeks before it was
perpetrated. Contrary to advice, he entered Jakova. He had not long
been there before the house in which he and his companions were shut
up, was besieged by a furious mob. One man, a Franciscan father, whom I
met at Scutari, was with him, and managed to escape, disguised as an
Arnaut.

Mehemet, seeing that resistance was hopeless, died like a brave man. He
opened a door, rushed out, unarmed, with hands stretched out, into the
thick of his enemies, crying, "Kill me, but spare the others." He was
beheaded, and his head was stuck on a pole, and held up to the jeerings
and desecrations of the populace.

We were up at daybreak the next day. It was a sunny, exhilarating
morning, that seemed to send fresh blood coursing through our veins as
we mounted Rosso and Effendi, and rode through the Mohammedan quarter
to the house of the boulim-bashi. Our luggage was simple enough. I had
one blanket and my waterproof, strapped behind me on Effendi's saddle;
while Jones carried, in the same way, a saddle-bag of provisions and
his waterproof. The house of the boulim-bashi was enclosed within lofty
walls, as are all the residences of the Mussulmen. We were ushered into
a large room, where the brother of the boulim-bashi received us
smiling, and motioned to us to be seated on the luxurious cushions
which were strewed on the thickly-carpeted floor. He was a tall and
very handsome man, like most of his countrymen, possessing small,
delicately cut features, and tiny hands and feet. He looked like an
aristocrat, and his costume was exceedingly rich.

The boulim-bashi came in with coffee and sherbets. He had thrown off
the dress of the town, with its ample festinelle and rich linen, and
had donned the simpler dress of the Arnaut chieftain, which showed off
his fine person to great advantage. His cartridge-boxes betokened the
man of rank, being of gold, beautifully worked, as were the handles of
the pistols in his variegated silken sash. The coffee was prepared over
a silver brazier on the floor, and the cups were handed to us on trays,
covered with napkins cleverly embroidered in coloured silk and golden
thread. We found that we were expected to take these napkins away with
us. We did not know the custom, but our host soon set us right.

There is something particularly pleasing and refined in the manners of
the high-caste Albanians. Their politeness is charming; they anticipate
your every want; and their movements have a cat-like softness,
noiselessness, and suppleness about them, which is very striking.

The boulim-bashi seized his Martini-Henry, leapt on his horse, an
active-looking little grey, with undocked mane and tail.

We were soon out of the town, and then broke into a canter, which we
kept up across the plain of Scutari till we reached our old friend the
khan, at Koplik.

We felt very jolly this morning. We had made a start. There was a spice
of adventure and risk in this expedition, that lent it zest, and
excited us. How we were to get on at Gussinje we did not know: our
guide spoke no language but his own. It was improbable that we should
find any one in the mountains who could understand us. And again, how
would Ali Bey and his men treat us. We had no valid excuse for visiting
him. Would they know that we had interviewed the prince and war
minister of Montenegro? If so, our reception might prove almost too
warm. We trusted to luck, and determined to see all we could.

At Koplik we left the track by the lake, and turned to the right,
towards the desolate and lofty mountain range.

These were the very mountains that the Turks at Helm seemed so afraid
of, as being inhabited by the fiercest and bravest of the Arnaut
tribes, addicted to plundering Turk and Montenegrin indiscriminately.
With our friend, the representative of the tribe, we were, however,
quite safe, certain of being received with every hospitality; and as
friends of Zutni Green, every man of the tribe would be friendly to us.
For the Arnaut is very grateful, is never treacherous--and once a
friend is always a friend, and an excellent friend too.

We gradually reached the foot of the mountains, and then our route lay
through the heart of them, for to reach Klementi we had to cross this
stupendous chain. For seven hours we were nearly constantly ascending.
There was no pretence at a road. We had often to dismount to haul our
horses up a higher block of rock than usual, and had to use the
greatest care, as we rode along some track not two feet wide with a
wall of rock on one side and a precipice a thousand feet in depth on
the other.

The shades of night were falling--it would be impossible to travel
after dark on such a route. But the boulim-bashi had timed himself
well. It was just dusk when we heard that welcome sound to the
traveller--the baying of dogs. Our guide signed to us to dismount. We
led our horses down an incline, when suddenly a door opened, and a
blaze of light fell on us and dazzled our eyes. A gigantic Arnaut, gun
in hand, came out suspiciously. He at once recognized our companion,
and kissed him affectionately.

On hearing that we were English, friends of Zutni Green, he shook us
kindly by the hand, and bid us enter.

"Bramiamir. Mir s'erd" (A good night to you. Be welcome) were the
salutations we exchanged on entering the house. Then, according to
Albanian custom, we unstrapped our arms, and handed them to our host (a
sign of confidence in a friend), who proceeded to suspend them with his
own on the wall.

We were seated on mats by the blazing fire, and the women pulled off
our boots. It was a curious scene, highly interesting, and taking one
very far indeed from Europe and civilization. A large room, the walls
of rough stone, admitting the wind freely; the roof of huge, rough-hewn
rafters of larch--wall and roof blackened with smoke; the floor of
clay; in the centre a fire of great logs, the smoke allowed to find an
exit as it could, the result being very unpleasant to unaccustomed
eyes; no lamps or rushlights, but a pale and flickering light given out
from a sort of iron cup, supported on a rod, into which little chips of
resinous wood are occasionally thrown; the walls decorated with arms,
the only ornaments in the place. A few cups, a bowl, an iron pan, and
one or two other utensils, complete the _ménage_. This is the house of
a great man, a chieftain; and we were told the name of the place is
Castrati. A large family occupied the hut, for it was no more. There
were several women and young men.

By the fireside there sat a very old crone, who paid no attention to
what was going on, but rocked her palsied body to and fro, and mumbled
constantly to herself. A little child--maybe a great-great-grandchild--whose
sturdy limbs were a strong contrast to the withered legs and arms of
the old woman, sat by her side. The grandame attempted now and then to
stroke the little thing's head, the only sign she showed of being
conscious of the world around her. All the occupants of the hut were
remarkably handsome. Leslie, who so well delineates pretty childhood,
should visit Albania. I verily believe no children in the world are so
beautiful as these little Arnauts. Their costume is not graceful. A
woollen sack is thrown over them, and their arms and legs are thickly
swathed with the same material.

They are quaint little things, and the smallest has the proud,
fearless, free carriage of his fine race. There was one little fellow
who stood in front of us here, erect, with head well up, and hands
behind his back. He stared at us for a long time with big, wondering
eyes, and a wonderful smile at the corners of the mouth, and then came
boldly up to investigate the material of our clothing, which was
evidently new to the little mountaineer.

Dinner was soon prepared. The boulim-bashi had brought some sweet cakes
with him, and some mutton, which he cut into small lumps, and stuck on
a skewer. They looked for all the world like catsmeat; but, when
peppered, salted, and grilled in the glowing fire, they turned out
those sweet and succulent morsels so appreciated by every old
campaigner, known under the name of "kybobs." According to Eastern
custom the wife of the master of the house poured water over our hands
from an iron jar, and then we commenced to devour our dinner with our
fingers, washing it down with excellent raki.

This lady of the house, by-the-bye, created a great impression on both
our hearts. She was indeed exceedingly comely. Her figure had not been
spoiled by labour, as are those of most of the countrywomen, nor by the
want of exercise and cramped sitting position in which the legs soon
lose their shape, as is the case with most of the townswomen. Her legs
were bare, not swathed in the ugly manner in usage when out of doors,
and very shapely legs and ankles she possessed. Her face was oval, of a
rich carnation in tint. Her mouth small, and very beautiful; but her
eyes were her chief feature--long, almond-shaped, and with a voluptuous
dreaminess in them. Their length owed nothing to the artificial
blackening of their corners with henna. She saw we admired her, and was
evidently pleased. She laughed, and made eyes at us throughout the
evening; and at night, when all the inmates of the room rolled
themselves up in their blankets, and stretched themselves round the
fire in a circle, feet to the blaze, she brought us some mats for
pillows, and tucked us in very nicely with her delicate fingers.

"Bothmir, mik" (Good health, friends), was the frequent challenge of
our jovial host. He insisted on our drinking a fair amount of raki. He
was not backward himself; I am sorry to say even an Arnaut will get
drunk upon occasion. After dinner a happy thought struck me. I rose,
and plunging my hand into our saddle-bag, produced a bottle of brandy
we had brought with us from Scutari. This was a great and unaccustomed
luxury to the Arnauts. I do not think they had ever tasted it before.
They smacked their lips over it, and repeatedly said, "Raki Inglesi
mir, mir" (The English raki is good).

At last to bed. Comfortably rolled up in blankets, in spite of
insects--we did not mind anything in that line now--we slept till
daybreak.

The boulim-bashi then awoke us. The fire was raked up, coffee was made,
our horses were saddled, the stirrup-cup was drunk over our good-byes
to our friends, and we were off.

The Arnauts are very proud. It would be a grievous insult to offer a
man money in return for his hospitality. The proper thing to do is to
distribute what you intend to give among the children. When you are
gone, the mother goes round and collects it from her offspring; it is
then put away, to be expended in sugar, salt, and other necessaries, on
the next market-day at Scutari.

At this great elevation the morning was bitterly cold. The aspect was
very desolate--a wilderness of rock and stone, with scanty vegetation.
Far away, thousands of feet beneath us, stretched the white sheet of
the Lake of Scutari, looking cold in the early morning, with the bleak
grey Montenegrin mountains in the background.

From sunrise to sunset we rode over the trackless and almost
inaccessible mountains. We met several men during the day, fine and
fierce-looking members of the Klementi tribe. Every one had a
Martini-Henry rifle and a belt of cartridges. The stories we had heard
of these people from the Turks at Helm were evidently true; these
weapons had never been bought. Indeed their owners had little idea of
their value. One mountaineer we met pointed to his rifle, and said,
"Inghilterra, sa paré?" signifying that he wished to know what was its
value in England. On hearing the amount he seemed much astonished,
smiled grimly, stroked the weapon, and said, "Ah! the Skipitar get them
for less than that."

Such an abundance of cartridges have these highlanders managed to steal
that it is a common sight to see a shepherd firing his rifle in the
air, at frequent intervals, to drive his sheep. The people we passed
all stopped, and questioned the boulim-bashi as to who we were, and
whither we were bound. On hearing that Gussinje was our destination
they looked surprised, and made that clicking noise with the tongue and
teeth which with us signifies pity or annoyance--in Albania, mere
wonder or admiration. The sign language of this people is so utterly
different from ours that it is impossible to get on with them at first.
For instance, they do not shake the head when they wish to refuse
anything, but bow and wave the hand, in a manner which would lead any
one to imagine they meant to accept.

It was evident they all looked on us as doomed if we entered Gussinje.
So far I could not make out whether they sympathized with the rebels or
not.

Towards midday we reached the summit of the range, and on turning a
bluff of rock there lay beneath us one of the most magnificent gorges I
had ever seen, even in the Alps. The great mountain was rent into a
profound ravine, whose sides were nearly perpendicular. There were
places where the precipice ran down sheer, for 4000 feet at least.
Where there was any footing, grand larches and beeches, tinted with the
golden shades of autumn, covered the slopes. Far below one heard the
roar of the great torrent, but a purple haze lay at the bottom of the
gorge, and concealed the foaming waters. This ravine forms the frontier
of Montenegro and Albania. As Jones suggested, a very scientific-looking
frontier too.

Our destination, the village of Klementi, was situated on the edge of
the torrent, some miles higher up the valley. We now had to descend
from the mountain to the bottom of the ravine. A perilous descent it
was. The path, a mere goat-track, zigzagged down the precipice. It was
necessary to dismount, and watch the horses carefully. They stumbled
every moment, and slid rather than walked. In places the path would
give a sharp turn, and here the boulim-bashi would hold on to each
animal's tail as he passed the awkward corner, to prevent him going
right over the edge. There were some very nasty bits, and even these
mountain horses trembled with nervousness at times.

We passed a house on the bank of the torrent in the afternoon. The
whole family came out to see the travellers. These people were friends
of our companion. The men came out, shook hands with us, and then
entered into an animated conversation with the boulim-bashi on the
subject of the war. While we sat on our saddles outside the house the
women brought to us refreshments, apples, cakes, and raki, first taking
our hands and kissing them respectfully.

This was a very long day's journey. Now riding, and now walking, we
ascended the ravine, fording the torrent several times, whenever one or
the other side of it afforded the better path.

The scenery was grand, but desolate; in the higher portion of the
valley the forests that clothed the lower end were wanting. Great walls
of rock fell sheer into the turbulent stream; and in places great
fan-shaped slopes of débris--masses of mountain broken up by
hurricanes--jutted out across the gorge, damming up the waters into
profound pools. These gigantic wastes of black stone, streaked as they
were by patches of snow in strong contrast with their whiteness, gave
an impressive weirdness and desolation to the scenery.

About an hour after dark we halted before a large two-storied hut.
"_Scpiia Nik Leka_," said the boulim-bashi--the house of Nik Leka.
Here, then, we were at last in the stronghold of the notorious Arnaut
chieftain. We entered the large lower room, which in every respect was
similar to that in which we passed the previous night at Castrati.
There were at least fifteen people squatting round the fire--men,
women, and children. A tall, splendidly-built, and very handsome man
came up and greeted us. He was about fifty years of age, very dark,
with a much-lined, sad-looking face. He had fine black eyes, deeply
sunk, and surmounted by bushy black eyebrows. There was something
exceedingly frank and noble in his look--a man one could trust.

This turned out to be the brother of Nik Leka, and, as we afterwards
found, much resembled that chieftain. We sat down by the fire, and all
were busy in attending to our comforts, when a door opened, and, to our
astonishment, there bustled in a jolly-looking little fat Franciscan
monk, a very Friar Tuck. He wore the brown frock and girdle of his
order; but, like all the Franciscan missionaries in Turkey, his head
was covered with a fez. He was followed by a quaint, lean, smiling old
Arnaut with a lamp, a simple, goodnatured-looking being--the faithful
old servant of the mission; he had been for forty years in the service
of the Franciscans.

The friar came up to us and shook us by the hands in a most cordial
manner. "Come up to the mission," he said; "come up to the mission, and
stay with us. Ah! what joy to see Europeans up in our wilderness! Come
along!" and he fairly dragged us off.

Not thirty yards distant was the mission-house, a very comfortable
establishment for this country--a low building, with a small church
adjoining it. At the door we were met by the three other brothers, as
cordial and jolly as the first.

Never did traveller fall into better hands. They all bustled about,
jabbering and laughing incessantly, doing all they could for our
comfort. Maccaroni and mutton kybobs were soon prepared; and they stood
round, pressing us to eat, and helping us to abundant portions as we
sat at the table.

I have seldom heard men laugh so heartily and boisterously as did our
jolly hosts. The feeblest joke set them off in a roar. "This," said the
fat little Father Luigi, pointing to the smiling servant, "this is our
Lord Mayor; he looks after our corporation--ha! ha! ha!"

The dinner over, we sat down over pipes and coffee, and talked for half
the night. They were really glad to see us; never were strangers so
quickly made at home as we were. Of course the conversation soon turned
on the object of our journey.

"Go to Gussinje!" said Father John; "impossible! You cannot go. Why
they will at once cut your throat. These Turchi at Gussinje are
animals--beasts--swine. O, my dear brother Edouardo, you must not go.
Why, even we dare not go there; the Arnauts dare not go. Nik Leka went
there three days ago, to see Ali Bey; for that beast desires an
alliance with the Klementi. Nik Leka has not returned; we fear they
have killed him. If so, God help this country; for the Klementis will
take their guns and yataghans, and march on Gussinje to avenge their
chief."

This did not sound very encouraging to us; but we had come so far that
we did not relish the idea of abandoning our project now. We knew the
timid monks would most probably, with very good intentions, exaggerate
the dangers. As they were the only people we could converse with, we
saw it would be necessary to impress them with the absolute necessity
of our progressing, else they would lend us no assistance in what they
considered to be a fatal journey.

Our four hosts were Italians; Luigi came from Turin, John from Naples,
and the two others from Modena. I am not a proficient at Italian, so we
conversed in dog Latin, putting in an Italian word now and then, when
we could not call up the Latin equivalent. It was a curious mixture,
but we got on fairly well with it. I had a little conversation with
Jones; he was as determined as myself to visit Gussinje if at all
feasible; so we decided to dissimulate a little, in order to obtain the
very necessary assistance of our friends.

I said, "I know to go to Gussinje is dangerous--very dangerous
possibly; but we have been sent to see Ali Bey at all hazards, and must
not go back without doing so. We have friends at Gussinje, and I do not
think we run so much risk as you imagine."

The worthy monks now, of course, concluded that we were political
envoys; that our mission was secret, and not to be divulged to them;
but that its object was to settle the Gussinje difficulty and hinder
bloodshed.

They then saw that we were right in insisting in running the risk, for
it was our duty to do so. They would do likewise in our place. They
looked very sad, shook their heads, and said, "Ah, my brothers, but you
go to a certain death. However, as you must go, we will help you; we
will write a letter in Arnaut to Ali Bey, asking whether he will see
you, and send men to escort you to the town. The brother of Nik Leka
will take the letter. To-morrow you can ride to the hut of Gropa, in
the mountain; it is but two hours from Gussinje. There you can await
the reply."

The letter was written. I did not quite like the idea of playing the
amateur diplomatist in this way; but we had gone too far to go back
now, and without doing this there was no chance of our seeing Gussinje.

The missionaries evidently looked upon and admired us as noble martyrs,
sacrificing our lives to duty. They insisted on our drinking an
abundance of wine. I suppose they thought this was our last chance of
so doing. We found from them (and what they said was confirmed by
others) that we had been greatly misinformed by the leaguesmen of
Scutari as to the strength and nature of the organization. There were
not 35,000 men at Gussinje, but between 6000 and 7000. These were all
Mussulmen--Albanians and Bosnian refugees, and deserters from the
Turkish army--a frightful rabble, the scum of this part of Europe.
Artillery they had none.

They told us that an army of 10,000 Montenegrins, with some field
artillery, was encamped in a strong position, not two hours' march from
Gussinje.

The general of the Black Mountaineers was Marco Milano, a man who has
already made himself a name in former wars. Of him, most probably, the
world will hear more some day. From all accounts he is a man of
uncommon ability, one of those strong characters that inspire
confidence in all whom they come across. He is an Albanian by birth,
from the neighbourhood of Gussinje. Irritated by some injustice he had
received at the hands of the Turks, he fled from his native land, and
took refuge in the Black Mountain, where his talents soon brought him
to the front. As a renegade always is, he is the bitterest foe to his
race, and his voice is ever for a policy of war and aggression. This,
at any rate, is his reputation in Albania.

As for the Catholic Arnauts, who the Scutarines told us were fighting
for the league, not one of these people sympathized with the insurgents
in the slightest degree. They knew too well that if these Mussulmen
succeeded in their projects it would go hard with the Christians. At
this time the mollahs in Gussinje had taken up arms, and were exciting
the population to religious frenzy, preaching the death of all
infidels. Ali Bey, a wise man, was indeed working hard to gain as
allies the powerful Arnaut tribes. He had invited Nik Leka, the most
influential chieftain of the north, to Gussinje for this object. "Nik
Leka," said Padre Luigi, "will talk to him--talk as much as Ali
likes--he is a regular diplomat; but fight for the beasts of
Turchi--not he. He may promise to allow bands of men to go unmolested
through these mountains on their way to Gussinje, but he will want an
equivalent for that. The Arnauts hate the Montenegrins and Turchi
alike; most probably they will shoot and plunder detached parties of
both sides."

The missionaries spoke very highly of the Christian highlanders.

"Ah! they have many virtues," they said. "Good friends, good fathers,
good husbands; kind to each other, truthful, hospitable, never
treacherous; they are a noble people. But," continued Luigi with a
sigh, "they are such savages, so utterly indifferent to human life.
They have but one absorbing vice, and that is their love of murder."

This cruel vendetta of theirs, which decimates the population, is
horrible. There are no really old men. Every man is murdered sooner or
later. It is thus they wish to die. To die in bed is a disgrace. In
battle they behead their own wounded friends; this is looked on as a
favour; for to survive, maimed and unfit for war, would bring lasting
reproach on a warrior and his family.

Nik Leka's brother walked off with the letter for Ali Bey at midnight.
He carefully loaded his pistols and rifle before starting.



CHAPTER XVI.

The mission-house--Gropa--The mandolin--A letter from Ali Bey--A
trap--Our throats in danger--Retreat--Nik Leka--Proverbs--A pleasant
evening.


The next morning we were up early. The good priests would not hear of
our leaving them till after the midday meal. "Gropa is but three hours
or so from here," they said; "you have lots of time to stay and look
over our church."

The little mission-house of Selz, as this the chief hamlet of the
Klementi is called, is built on a terrace in the hill side, which
commands a grand view of the ravine; gigantic bare cliffs of dark stone
shut it in on every side. A small graveyard, where are buried all the
monks that have died since the institution of the mission, lies to the
front of the residence.

We went inside the little chapel. Very primitive and rough paintings of
Biblical incidents ornamented the walls, the productions of the monks.
Most of these were some 200 years old at least. The Franciscans have
undoubtedly done much good in Albania. They have been here from a very
remote time. They have suffered persecutions, have died the death of
martyrs, but have succeeded in completely winning the affections of the
wild Arnauts. As Luigi said to me, "Why, should one of us be ill-used
by the Turks, the whole of the mountains would rise in our defence. We
need fear nothing here now." The headquarters of the order in Albania
is at Scutari, where there is a large convent. I was much struck by the
evidently sincere respect and love all the mountaineers entertained for
their spiritual fathers. One could see that these men must be doing
good here.

Before we started for Gropa, the snow began to fall heavily. We bid
adieu to our good hosts. They kissed us and wept over us, for they
feared we should never return, and insisted on filling our saddle-bag
with wine, maize, bread, and mutton. Gropa, which signifies in the
Albanian tongue the hollow, is not a village, but a miserable
one-roomed hut, situated at the extreme end of the ravine, by the
source of the torrent.

The path was coated with ice, and very perilous for the horses. Our
guide, a savage-looking Klementi, walked bare-footed over the sharp
stones and frozen snow with utter indifference.

The hut was nearly snowed up when we reached it. It was a desolate
spot. A black pine-wood rose behind it on the hill-side. An hour's walk
through this would have brought us to the summit of the ridge which
overlooks Gussinje. The hut was inhabited by a man, his wife, and one
child. A blazing fire was made up; then converting our mutton into
kybobs, we made a capital dinner. They gave us coffee, but sugar they
had none. Our guide, who had lately walked bare-footed over the ice
quite at his ease all the time, now placed his feet in the ashes of the
fire with a like indifference. Extremities of heat and cold affected
the hardy highlander very little.

Our host was a musician in his way. He took down his mandolin, and with
it accompanied one of the monotonous songs of his country. The Albanian
mandolin is like a small banjo with three strings, and is played not
with the fingers, but a chip of hard wood or bone.

These Albanian songs are not unpleasing, barbarous as is their music.
The first line of each verse is the same as the last line of the
preceding verse. There is a peculiar sadness and subdued fierceness in
the way they sing which is really very affecting. The song is always of
war, of victories over the Karatag, feuds with the Turk, or the doings
of the heroic Scanderbeg. The mandolin is peculiar to Albania. The
guzla of Montenegro has but one string, and is played with a bow like a
violin.

At midnight we were awakened by the entry of two men. One was the
brother of Nik Leka; the other a Bosnian Mussulman, by his dress. The
Arnaut clapped me on the back. "Mir, Mir," he said, "Gussinje." Then he
pointed to a letter. I understood what he meant. Ali Bey had given his
permission, had written a letter to the fathers to that effect, and had
sent this Bosnian soldier with it to Seltz. The soldier returned to
Gussinje at once, while Nik Leka's brother also left us, to carry the
epistle to the Franciscan mission. All seemed now to be going well, and
very delighted we were. We should see Gussinje after all.

It was early the next morning, when Father John suddenly made his
appearance at the hut. He looked alarmed and anxious, and talked
rapidly to our host. Something unpleasant had evidently occurred. We
waited patiently till he vouchsafed to explain matters.

"I have heard from Ali Bey," he said. "Here is his letter. I will
translate it to you. He writes thus:--

    "'To Father John, greeting.

    "'We have read--we have understood. The chiefs have assembled. If
    these people will be hostages, will guarantee that Marco Milano
    withdraw the Karatags within three days, let them come to Gussinje;
    if not, they had better not come.

    "'From ALI PASHA.'"

This was hardly what could be called a hearty welcome. Said John, "You
understand what that means. If you can guarantee that the Montenegrins
withdraw their troops--"

"We cannot do that."

"Of course not. Well, if you go they will wait three days, then cut off
your heads. Now Nik Leka's brother has also brought this news from
Gussinje. When they heard of your arrival, some of the men said, 'We
have heard of these people. They have been to Podgoritza; they are
friends of the Montenegrin chiefs. They must be spies. One is a
red-bearded Russian (this was Jones). They are accursed giaour
traitors.' Then thirty men decided to leave Gussinje last night, and
surprise and murder you here in this hut. Ali Bey heard of it, and
stopped them. But Nik Leka's brother says that you had better not stay
here. The Gussinians are violently excited about you; they thirst for
your blood. Come back to Seltz."

We were sitting down to breakfast when we heard all this cheering and
appetizing information. My back was to the door, as was Jones's, when I
heard a noise outside, and the next moment I saw the Franciscan drop
the meat he was holding, turn very pale, and stare in a frightened way
in that direction. I turned; the doorway was blocked up by two men,
evidently two of the defenders of Gussinje--one in Bosnian dress, one
in Albanian festinelle. Both were armed to the teeth. Their faces were
not prepossessing. There was a fierce, stern look in their eyes, which
wandered anxiously and fiercely round the hut, and a determined
expression in their tightly compressed lips, which meant mischief.
Whether more were behind, we could not yet see.

Jones and myself were unarmed. According to the custom of the country,
we had delivered our revolvers over to our host. He too, and also the
priest, were without weapons. The two parties looked at each other
without speaking for a moment or two. Our host's wife took her child by
the hand, and looked steadily on with compressed lips, to see what
would happen next. An Arnaut woman is familiar with bloodshed. However,
bloodshed was not intended, it seemed. "We are envoys from Ali Pasha,"
said the Albanian. "Come in, then," said our host, suspiciously.

They entered, but seemed ill at ease, and suspicious of foul play.
However, we made no advance towards our arms, and keeping a sharp eye
on the men, continued to eat our kybobs. They sat by us.

The Albanian went on, the Franciscan translating,--"Ali Bey will see
these Englishmen, but he does not wish them to enter the town; he
cannot rely on his men. Ali Bey is but one man; he cannot protect them,
if some wish evil to these men. Ali Bey and the chiefs will therefore
meet them outside the town. Let them come with us."

It seemed improbable that Ali should have sent these men with another
message, so soon after the first. The Albanian is deliberate in
counsel, and does not alter his mind in this way as a rule.

"Do not go," whispered the Franciscan. "Do not believe them; there is
some treachery." After what we had heard, we thought our friend might
be right, therefore we refused to avail ourselves of their escort.
Their faces fell. They talked long and eagerly to the priest and our
host.

The priest said to me, "Listen to what I say, but show no surprise or
alarm. Let them not think I am telling you this. They are talking to
our host about you. They say you are spies, and they are endeavouring
to raise his suspicions of you; they mean you evil. O amici," he said
in his dog Latin, "multum est periculum per vos."

I now entered into an explanation of our journey. I showed that it was
the most natural thing in the world that we had visited Montenegro; and
soon disarmed any suspicion our host entertained; but the two
Gussinians stuck to the point. The Bosnian turned fiercely to the
Arnaut. "By Allah," he said, "they are spies. We have twenty friends in
the hills behind here; since they will not come with us, we will kill
them here; now is the time." I remember the very words in which Father
John, with pale face, translated this to us: "Ille homo," he said,
"dixit ad alium, Nunc est tempus intercidere illos homines." The Arnaut
spoke. He stood up in his hut with quiet dignity, and without showing
the least excitement said, "These are my guests. You think that I will
assist you to kill them. They are my friends; I will defend them. Now
you are armed; we are not. Possibly you may kill us; but remember, it
is nearly three hours to Gussinje. Men of our tribe have seen you
approach; rest assured there are many rifles of the Klementi among the
rocks. If you wish to go to Ali Bey, and not rot on the Klementi
hill-sides, you had better go in peace." The men looked at each other
in silence; they knew the words of the Arnaut were true, and not being
yet weary of existence, swallowed their coffee and sulkily left the
hut. We took our revolvers and went outside, to see if any others were
in sight. There were none; but on a rock that commanded an extensive
view, we saw the erect form of a white-clad Arnaut, rifle in hand,
scanning the ridge of the hill. The Klementis had evidently kept their
eyes open. The probability is that these men had left Gussinje without
the permission or cognizance of Ali Bey, and hoped with a fabricated
message from the chieftain to tempt us to follow them to some spot,
away from our friends the Klementis, where an ambush lay in wait for
us. In their annoyance at our refusal to accompany them, they had
betrayed their object.

No sooner was this adventure concluded than the occupants of the hut
sat down and continued their coffee-drinking and smoking, as if nothing
had happened.

Little events of this kind are every day occurrences in this wild
country, and are thought nothing of.

The woman put her hand to her throat and drew it backwards and
forwards, then laughed merrily, evidently chaffing us about the two
separate risks we had so recently run of losing our heads.

As it was now evident that the people of Gussinje were not very anxious
to entertain us, we saw there was nothing left but to return to
Scutari. We were very disappointed; but what could we do?

We rode back with Father John to Seltz. The missionaries and the Lord
Mayor rushed out. They were delighted to see us return in safety. "Ah!
Frater Edouardo, Frater Athol, come in. My poor friends, come in and
sit down. How alarmed you must have been. Fear not; here you are safe."

During dinner our story was repeated over and over again by the
gesticulative little Father John, and great was the commiseration
expressed for us by the kind-hearted fellows. The Lord Mayor became
very warlike. "Had they hurt you, I would have taken a gun, gone to
Gussinje, and shot Ali Bey--that devil!--myself," he shouted.

While we sat round the fire after our meal, the door opened. "Nik
Leka!" joyfully cried out our hosts, "Nik Leka safe! Praise be to the
Lord."

The celebrated Arnaut chieftain stalked in smiling, kissed each father
on the cheek, shook us warmly by the hand, and sat down by the fire. He
was very like his brother, a splendid specimen of a barbarian warrior;
very handsome, with an expression that curiously combined great
good-nature with a certain amount of latent ferocity.

He corroborated all we had heard about the feelings entertained towards
us at Gussinje, and said, "You would not live long were you in that
_ferri_--that hell over the mountains." He himself had been obliged to
escape, for his life was in danger among the fanatical inhabitants.

"They are like madmen," he said, "now--starving, desperate."

He expressed intense hatred of the _Turkis_, as the Albanians call all
Mohammedans. "Devils," he said, "robbers. '_Ku Turku vee kambet atu
sdel baar_' (Where the Turk puts his foot, the grass grows not)."

Nik Leka has one vanity--he likes to be called a diplomatist. Talk to
him on politics, the handsome warrior puts on a very knowing and wise
expression.

Our conversation ran very much on politics to-night.

The fathers said, "These Arnauts have one wish. They know that an
Albanian autonomy means Mussulman fanaticism, war, and Christians
driven from the plain to starve in the mountains. What they wish is,
that you English would take the country. All the mountaineers discuss
this and desire it. So too do the Christian townsmen. Do you think
England will occupy Albania?"

This was a poser. I did not like to say England would never dream of
doing such a thing, and that Austria would have a word to say in the
matter, so merely pleaded ignorance as to the counsels of my country.
Nik Leka nodded his head when my response was translated to him, smiled
and winked at me, as much as to say, "Ah, these priests don't
understand politics. We diplomatists hold our tongues."

Nik Leka told us that our old friend the bullying Bekir Kyochi, for so
is spelt a name pronounced as Bektsé Tchotché, was in Gussinje with the
leaguesmen. "I should say the Scutarines will not weep much if the
Montenegrins take his head," I said. "Ah," wisely replied the
chieftain, "we say in Albania, '_Ana e kecie nuk schet_'" (The
worthless pot does not break).

Nik Leka, I found, considered that the discourse of a great diplomatist
should be liberally interspersed with pithy saws and proverbs. He
rolled them out with unction, and repeated each two or three times till
he arrived at what he considered to be a properly emphatic delivery.

He told us he would accompany us back to Scutari; we should start early
on the morrow. We were in luck; we had travelled hither with the
boulim-bashi of the tribe, we were to return with its head man. We
conversed till a very late hour. "A veritable Tower of Babel," said
Father John, with his stentorian roar. Latin, Albanian, Italian, Sclav,
and English words were flying about the room, to the utter confusion of
the Lord Mayor, who sat, looking very wise and sleepy, trying to make
out what on earth it all meant.

I rose very high in the estimation of Nik Leka, when he heard that it
was in Latin I conversed with the fathers. I was a greater diplomatist
than ever in his eyes. He was a curious fellow. He would look at me
thoughtfully, then suddenly jump up, shake me violently by the hand,
and cry, "_Mik, Mik_" (You are my friend; you are my friend)--and
then burst out laughing.

A very jovial evening we all spent over the log fire, drinking the
fathers' wine and raki.



CHAPTER XVII.

Rosso and Effendi--A barbaric feast--Patoulis--Mead--The future of
Albania--The Italia Irridenta--Sport in Meriditia--Dick Deadeye.


Very warm and affectionate were our farewells on the morrow, when we
left the good Franciscans. "Ah!" said Luigi, "it is a sad thing thus to
make friends, and so soon part for ever. We may meet perhaps in some
other remote land. For we Franciscans are ever changing the scene of
our labour--now here, now there; in the deserts, in the teeming cities;
but always _in regionibus infidelium_."

We saddled and mounted our horses, and commenced our ride down the
ravine. Nik Leka walked; he carried with him two long pistols and a
Martini-Henry rifle, all, I observed, at full cock. This was all the
luggage he took with him. Honour should be given where honour is due.
Never did member of the equine race behave so well as did the fat
little Effendi and the lean and haggard Rosso. For twelve hours out of
the twenty-four from dark to dark, for six consecutive days, did these
worthy animals carry us over this wilderness of rock and ice. Fodder
was scarce. Rosso lived chiefly on the rare bits of timber he met on
the way. He did not care much for live trees, but had a preference for
the more tasty, decayed fallen wood. He was a _gourmand_ in his way.

Effendi had a more delicate stomach; a diet of fresh fallen snow had
greater charms for him than any other. We found they were of one mind,
or rather stomach, in their intense relishing of maize bread.

Our return journey was rendered difficult and dangerous by the frozen
snow which covered the mountains. However, just as the sun was setting
we approached the hut of Castrati.

Half a mile from it we passed a woman. She stopped, and spoke to us. We
at once recognized the pretty, smiling face. It was our old friend the
wife of the owner of the house. She ran on before us to apprize her
husband of our arrival. Nik Leka evidently saw that we admired the
lady. He was much tickled, slapped me on the shoulder, and said,
"Castrati mir" (Nice place, Castrati).

"Ah," I said, "Grue Castrati fort mir" (The women of Castrati very
nice).

The chieftain roared with laughter. My remark was repeated over and
over again in the hut this evening, and much amused every one.

On entering the hospitable house, our host and all the other
inhabitants of it came forward, and gave us a very cordial welcome.
They were genuinely glad to see us back safe. Nik Leka told our story.
They laughed, pointed to their throats, and shook us by the hands. Our
pretty hostess, speaking broken Albanian, so that we might understand
her, added, "Gussinje yok mir, Castrati mir."

A lot of neighbours came in. Every one was bustling about; preparations
were being evidently made for a grand feast in our honour.

The old crone in the corner was just where we had left her; I don't
suppose she had moved since. She was awakened from her lethargy by the
unwonted hubbub, looked peevishly round now and then, and mumbled
savagely.

I must describe this evening's feast in full, so characteristic was it.
The fire, as I before said, was lit in the middle of the mud floor, the
smoke escaping as it could. Huge logs--I ought rather to say
trees--were now piled on. A tremendous blaze was made up.

When we entered, the fire was low, a loaf of maize cooking in the
embers.

The method of making these loaves is simple. When the fire has burnt
long, and the floor beneath is thoroughly hot, the ashes are scraped
away in the centre, the loaf is placed on the bare mud, and an iron
cover, which fits closely to it, placed above it. Then the hot ashes
are once more raked back till they entirely bury the loaf and its
cover; and the baking commences.

Our host went out and killed the fatted sheep, and proceeded to prepare
it for roasting whole. A slit was made down the belly, the entrails
were taken out, the feet were tucked into the slit, which was then
carefully sewed up, and a wooden spit was run right through the carcase
from head to tail.

It was brought in and placed over the fire. The spit worked on two
rough logs, one of the women turning it with her hand.

We commenced our dinner by coffee drinking. There is certainly but one
way of making coffee--that in vogue in these regions. Let my readers
attend to this receipt, and try it.

On the fire is a pot of boiling water. A small saucepan, with a long
handle, just big enough to hold a coffee cup of water is taken (N.B. a
small Turkish coffee cup). Into it is thrown a teaspoonful of coffee,
freshly ground and freshly roasted, also a lump of sugar.

Boiling water is poured on it till the saucepan is full. Then the
saucepan is put on the fire. It boils over, is taken off for ten
seconds. Three times this operation is repeated, then the thick fluid
is poured into the cup; and delicious it will be found to be, if you
once get over your prejudice against grounds. We and all the other men
squatted on our rugs round the blazing fire and roasting sheep, and
commenced our dinner, the women, according to Eastern fashion, standing
or sitting in the corners of the room, watching us, and waiting till we
had done, when they would come in for their share of the feast. The old
crone was a favoured person; a bone was occasionally thrown to her by
the host while we dined, which she seized in her skeleton hands, and
sucked greedily with her toothless chaps.

There was a knowing old dog by her who knew, and took a mean advantage
of, her blindness and weakness, for he managed occasionally to steal a
succulent morsel out of her very hands.

While the sheep was roasting we were obliged to eat little delicacies,
intended, I suppose, to tickle our appetites. Our host would take
"patoulis" from the ashes of the fire (a sort of rancid, heavy dripping
cake), smear them thickly with honey, then on the top of all scatter
large lumps of goat's-milk cheese, and hand them to us in a pressing
way that permitted no refusal.

We were forced to eat so many of these that the roasting sheep, of
which we knew we would have to partake freely, turned before our eyes
like a horrid nightmare. Meanwhile Nik Leka looked on benignantly as he
put away the cakes in a way that surprised us.

We washed down all this with a very greasy sort of mead. Though of a
fairly omnibibant nature, we could hardly stomach this. At last we came
to the "_misch i pickun_," as the roasted sheep is called. Our host cut
it up with his yataghan, then proceeded to tear the flesh with his
fingers. We were well looked after, and treated as honoured guests. The
Arnaut would pull off some rich lump of fat, enclosing a kidney, and
hand it to one of us. The meat was really very good; all its richness
is kept in by this way of cooking, but probably a delicate-stomached
person might not relish the idea of devouring lumps of tepid mutton fat
with his fingers, without bread or salt.

I think I did very creditably at this meal. I know Jones, who finally
collapsed and could do no more, looked at me with amazement. Fat and
lean and crackling followed each other. Our host and Nik Leka did not
leave me alone for a moment. Now and then one of them would tear off a
large shred of meat, and stuff it into our saddle-bag for the next
day's provision.

At last we were as replete as Homer's heroes. Indeed the whole scene
carried one back to those days. The besiegers of Troy lit the fire of
logs, and roasted the beasts whole, and ate till they could not stand
or talk, just as did these no less savage Arnauts. Just like these too,
when the banquet was over, did they show their gratitude to their host,
and appreciation of his hospitality, by frequent hiccups and belchings.

The women and dogs gobbled up the remains in their corner, as we smoked
our cigarettes and toasted ourselves in old raki.

We were up before daylight the next morning. It had snowed heavily in
the night, so our descent to the plain was slow, and not unattended
with danger. Our good-byes at Castrati before starting were
affectionate and protracted. "_Me teneson miku idaxtun!_" (Good-bye,
dear friends), were the last words of our pretty hostess, as she waved
her hand to her departing admirers.

At the khan of Koplik, where we were beginning to be well known (this
was our fourth visit to it), we lunched off the fragments of the sheep
which our host had thrown into our saddle-bags in the exuberance of his
hospitality on the previous night. It was dark long before we entered
the intricate lanes of the faubourg of Scutari. So here we were once
again, having failed in our attempt to reach Gussinje. However, the
expedition had not been altogether a vain one. We had seen a good deal
of the manners and customs of the Arnaut; had journeyed away from the
main roads into the heart of the great mountains, where, I believe,
none of our countrymen had ever ventured before; and again, we had
learnt a good deal more of the real strength of the league than a
month's inquiries at Scutari could have taught us. Not that I did not
take the Franciscans' account with a few grains of salt. The fathers
hated the Mussulmen, and were anxious to withdraw our sympathies from
the defenders of Gussinje.

The world will hear a good deal of the doings of this Albanian League
some day, so a few remarks on what, from my observations, I consider to
be the real condition of affairs, will not, I think, be here out of
place.

The chiefs of the association are, I believe, honest men, patriotic,
and determined to carry out their programme to the death.

Ali Bey is spoken very highly of even by the Montenegrins, and if
reports prove true, will show himself no indifferent general.

Nearly every Mussulman in Albania is a member of the league, and its
forces are daily swollen by refugees from Bosnia and deserters from the
Turkish army.

That Turkey at first secretly assisted and encouraged the movement, I
think there can be no doubt. At any rate it is certain that the Porte's
representatives, even her highest officers in this country, openly
sympathized with it.

But the league has waxed too strong for the government, who could not
crush it now were it desirous of doing so. The leaguesmen, feeling
their strength, have extended their programme. Defence of their native
land against foreign invasion is now not their only cry, but Autonomy,
and the shaking off of the Turkish yoke are boldly discussed in the
bazaars of the garrison towns.

The Montenegrin difficulty may be settled; the principality may agree
to take some lands near Antivari in lieu of the Gussinje and Plava
district; but there are other and more serious complications behind.

To resist the advances of Austria on the north and Greece on the south
are the avowed objects of the league. It is only too probable that the
dual empire will be compelled to carry her arms into this province; for
a lawless, fanatical, self-ruling Albania will be far too troublesome
and dangerous a neighbour for her disaffected Bosnia. An occupation of
Albania is confidently spoken of by all the Austrian officers I met in
Dalmatia.

But an invasion of this country will be no mere military promenade. As
mountainous, and as easy of defence as Montenegro--inhabited by at
least as warlike a race, and better armed, Albania may prove as hard a
nut to crack, as the Black Mountain has proved to Turkey, who for
hundreds of years has in vain hurled army after army to perish on those
grey rocks.

I think there can be little doubt, too, that the Christian Arnauts will
join the league, in case of any invasion. They, too, love their
independence--for independent they practically are, the Turkish yoke
never having been felt in these wild hills.

Passionately fond of war, poor and starving, as the highlanders have
been since the Turco-Russian war, the certainty of plunder, if nothing
else, would compel them to join one side or the other,--and which that
side would be it is not difficult to say. That the Turks can
effectually interfere is quite impossible. Any one who knows how
high-strung the Mussulman sentiment now is, how insubordinate the
generally obedient ill-treated Turkish soldier has now become, can
easily foresee what would be the natural result of a Turkish general
leading his men to fight against their co-religionists, in order to
force them to deliver their country to the giaour. They would mutiny,
lay down their arms, fraternize with the men they had been incited to
slay. It would be the tale of Mehemet Ali over again.

I see some wild story went the round of the European papers, to the
effect that Muktar Pasha had led a force against Gussinje, and had been
assassinated. As a matter of fact he was, to my knowledge, nowhere near
Gussinje at the time. But such would be the fate of any commander who
led Turkish troops on so unholy an errand.

The Montenegrins have openly declared that they will treat the soldiers
of the league as rebels, giving no quarter. They are very sanguine; but
in my opinion if the Black Mountaineers and the Albanians are allowed
to settle their quarrel by themselves, no other power intervening, we
may hear of Ali Bey at Cettinje, before we hear of Marco Milano at
Gussinje.

How the Albanian difficulty will end it is difficult to see. That the
troubles of this lawless province of Turkey may indirectly lead to
serious complications is more than likely.

Beyond the Adriatic, too, lies another power, that is eagerly watching
the progress of matters--Italy.

The Italia Irridenta party is very anxious that the government should
lay a claim to Albania, when the day of Turkey's dismemberment comes.

All Italians consider that their country has been slighted and left in
the cold in the recent adjustment of oriental affairs. The Austrians,
without striking a blow, have acquired Bosnia and Herzegovina. England
and France have assumed a sort of protectorate over Egypt, even Greece
has gained territory.

That Italy is casting covetous eyes on Albania is certain; and equally
certain is it, that she would be seriously annoyed if Austria should
occupy the whole eastern Adriatic shore, from Trieste to the Ægean.

In Albania, one half of the inhabitants are Roman Catholics. The
priests, who here have great influence, are all Italians by birth.

These are accused of intriguing in the interest of their government, of
sowing seeds of rebellion among their flocks. On this point I am not
capable of giving an opinion. The Franciscan missionaries I met seemed
to be anything but friendly disposed towards the rulers of their native
land.

That the Italians have carried on intrigues down the whole East
Adriatic coast is certain. At the present moment the Albanian League
are in doubt whether to offer the princedom of their country, when they
have liberated it, to Ali Pasha, Midhat Pasha, or to a prince of the
house of Savoy. Whatever may eventuate, there is one thing very
certain; this is, that neither Mussulman nor Christian in Albania are
likely ever again to take up arms in defence of the Turkish Government.
They are sick of it.

The Mohammedans see that it is impotent to forward their interests in
any way. The Arnauts, who fought well for Turkey in the last war, have
been treated with great ingratitude ever since. They will only fight in
the future in independent defence of their country against the
foreigner.

If we are to believe the latest news from these regions; most of the
Christian clans have at last decided to join the league. When I was in
the country they were in a wavering and undecided state.

If this news be true, there is every prospect of a long-protracted and
ferocious war, for the Albanians are a terrible foe, and not easily to
be crushed when they once rise in earnest to defend their country, as
history has more than once showed. With such a leader as Ali Pasha
seems to be--of great ability, of intense zeal, ambitious to be a
second Scanderbeg--the autonomy of Albania may not be far off, and
probably may not be so very undesirable a thing.

For here we have a people in religion, sentiment, and race, utterly
differing from those Greeks and Sclavs, to whose mercies Mr. Gladstone
would like to see their native land delivered. They are a people quite
apart from the other eastern Adriatic peoples--a noble race, that
deserves its opportunity quite as much as do Montenegro and Bulgaria.
This question is attracting little attention now, but I should not be
surprised to find that before long this attempt of a brave people to
acquire its independence will gain the sympathies of the English.

Ingratitude is not an Albanian vice. It might happen that an Albanian
principality might prove, in some future time, an ally not to be
despised.

I will conclude these remarks by once more repeating, that any one who
travels in these countries with unbiassed mind must be of opinion that
the Albanians are quite as likely--to say the least of it--to prove
capable of self-government, as are any of the southern Sclav peoples,
and that unless it be deemed best that Austria, or some other great
power, occupy the country, it would be well that autonomy were granted
to them, and exceedingly unwise to deliver them over to Greece and the
neighbouring Slav states, who have quite enough to do in looking after
their own affairs.

On arriving at Toshli's, Brown, Robinson, our landlords, and other
friends, expressed their delight, and even astonishment, at seeing us
once more with our heads securely planted on our shoulders.

We exchanged experiences with Brown and Robinson. They chaffed us a
little on our failure in Gussinje; but we found that we could return
the compliment. When they left us for the Miridite mountains they
(Robinson especially) were exceedingly sanguine as to the success of
their sporting expedition. They would return to Scutari with a train of
mules laden with the skins of the beasts they had slain. They were
going to make such a bag as had never been heard of in Albania.

Now that they had returned they were remarkably reserved as to their
doings in the mountains. They came back empty-handed--of course because
they could not procure horses to carry the spoil.

At last--first from one, and then from the other--the true story leaked
out. Their sport had been a dismal failure. They found that the
highlands were, to say the least, chilly at this late season.

Marco struck, and would proceed no further into the snow-covered
wilderness, for our Arnaut follower had a liking for warmth, and a not
unnatural hatred and fear of the fierce brigands of the Meriditia, who
are the terror of all the country in the vicinity of their mountain
fastnesses.

Under these circumstances they returned to the lowlands, and visited
the seaport of Alessio, and some other neighbouring towns. The chief
events of their expedition were the great hospitality they received
from a Roman Catholic bishop in one place, and from a self-elected
pasha, an ex-brigand, in another.

Another follower had been added to our party during our absence. This
was one of those Bohemian dogs one occasionally comes across in cities.
A disreputable improvident, albeit clever and good-natured animal. He
had a profound contempt for orientals, and we were told invariably made
the acquaintance of any Europeans who visited Scutari. He generally
managed to pick up something at the consulates, but lived a very
hand-to-mouth sort of life; he was liked as a jolly fellow by the
decent dogs of Scutari. If any canine that ever prided himself on his
respectability scorned to associate with him, he, at any rate, had
cause to repent, if he audibly expressed his disgust in the vagabond's
presence. When the frontier commission was in Albania, this dog
attached himself to the English delegates, and was by them named "Dick
Deadeye," from his striking personal resemblance to that discontented
mariner on board H.M.S. "Pinafore." Dick Deadeye was out of town when
we were last at Scutari; but as soon as he returned and heard that
Englishmen were in the town, he hurried off to Toshli's, called on
Robinson and Brown, and kindly offered to accompany us whithersoever we
might wish to go.

A very affectionate old friend he turned out to be; very useful, too.
When the savage Albanian dogs would rush out from some wayside
farm-house to yelp at the strangers' heels, Dick Deadeye would soon
settle them.

The season was now far advanced; snow fell nearly every other day; and
it was evident that it would be difficult, and very unpleasant, to
travel further in this roadless country this year. Some of our party,
too, wished to be in London by Christmas. So, after holding a somewhat
stormy counsel, we decided to leave Scutari in three days' time, and
march to the port of Dulcigno, where we should just arrive in time to
meet the coasting steamer from Corfu to Trieste.



CHAPTER XVIII.

The coffin--A pasha's death--Horse-dealing--The postman--Brigands--An
hotel bill--Down the Bojana--Dulcigno--Pirates--Farewell.


We spent these last three days in purchasing arms and other
curiosities. Between us we collected a very arsenal of strange weapons
of every kind. A carpenter at the bazaar constructed a box for us in
which to pack them. This box was about six feet in length, and somewhat
more than two feet in breadth. It looked uncommonly like a coffin. The
ever-ingenious Robinson, when it arrived at Toshli's spent a whole
evening in painting a ghastly-looking mummy on the cover, and other
horrible ornaments on its sides. As may be imagined, it created some
interest on our journey.

The day after our return to Scutari the pasha very suddenly died,
whereupon the whole city rejoiced much and openly, and indulged in more
raki than was good for it.

The doctors attributed his decease to apoplexy. It seems he had drunk a
cup of coffee, when suddenly he complained of intense pain, and
vomited. In ten minutes he was no more. Turkish pashas are strangely
subject to this curious and fatal illness, which, in nearly all cases,
follows the drinking of a cup of coffee or sherbet.

Perhaps it is in consequence of the well-known antipathy between these
beverages and the pashaic stomach that so many of these distinguished
men have taken to Veuve Cliquot, notwithstanding the Koran's strict
ordinance. No one in Scutari for a moment doubted that poison was the
true cause of the mysterious complaint. Of course there was no
post-mortem. The Mussulman has a superstitious objection to any
mutilation of the human body, in life or death.

Our faithful companions, Rosso and Effendi, had next to be sold. We
marched them up and down the bazaar day after day, Marco loudly
dilating on their many virtues. No one seemed very anxious to purchase
at our price. The dealer who had sold us Rosso offered us one-fifth of
the sum we had paid for him originally. Yet we had decidedly improved
the animal's condition.

At last we managed to sell Effendi to the Austrian consul. But Rosso
hung on our hands to the very morning of our departure. No one would
have him at any price, even his original owner retracted his offer.
Should we be obliged to leave the poor animal a homeless vagabond, to
wander about the streets of Scutari in search of a master, begging for
crusts to keep life within those pathetic ribs? It seemed like it.

Brown, in despair, wandered through the alleys of the bazaar, eagerly
informing the merchants that he had a red horse for sale.

"Rosso Vendetta," as he expressed it, which, if it means anything,
means a sanguinary blood-feud. The quiet Christian merchants must have
imagined that the Englishman was running amuck, and was about to
slaughter them all.

At the last moment the khanji of the khan where Rosso was lodged and
fed came to us, and offered us 200 piastres--about 30_s._--for our
noble steed. We had to accept it, for the animal was hardly worth
taking to England with us.

It was a bright sunny morning when we bid a final adieu to our numerous
friends at Scutari, and started for the coast. We had sent the coffin
and our other baggage on in advance, on the backs of the mules of the
British consulate postman. There is no post-office or postal service of
any kind in North Albania, so letters are sent to the coast in this
way, to be taken up by the passing steamers.

The office of letter-carrier is of some importance in this country, for
it is in the gift of the government, the carriers having the monopoly
of the transport of all goods from town to town. As there are no roads,
and hence no carts in North Albania, everything has to be carried on
the backs of horses or mules; this of course accounts for the very high
prices of all imported goods.

Each carrier owns some twenty horses, and his calling would be an
exceedingly lucrative one were it not for the heavy black-mail levied
on him by the brigands.

The carrier to Dulcigno to whom we had entrusted our baggage, had, we
were told, been stopped on his road three times within the last few
months.

The whole business is managed very quietly. On some lonely portion of
the way, a picturesque gentleman, armed to the teeth, suddenly appears,
and in few words persuades the drivers to deliver up their charge.
These in a philosophically resigned manner accept their ill-luck;
discussion they know would be useless, as the muzzles of several long
Albanian guns peep ominously from the rocks above.

We paid Toshli's bill, which was quite a curiosity in its way.

Our landlord had been to some conventual school in his youth, and had
acquired the rudiments of the classic tongues. He now utilized his
knowledge, by setting down the many items of his account in what he
imagined was Latin.

Occasionally, where his memory of that language failed him, he would
put down the name of some comestible in Greek.

He must have taken great trouble in the composition of this document;
he came up with it smiling, evidently very proud of it, and remarked
that as we did not understand Albanian, he had done his best to make it
intelligible for us.

The total looked enormous, calculated as it was in piastres, more like
a national debt than an hotel bill. We shuddered as we contemplated the
four figures of the total. However, a little calculation showed us that
we were not about to be burdened with an impossible debt, which might
keep us here in pawn for the rest of our days.

The port of Dulcigno is situated half a day's march north of the mouth
of the Bojana, the river that takes off the waters of the Lake of
Scutari to the sea.

The pleasantest way of making the journey, we were told, was to descend
the river by boat to a certain bend near the sea, and thence go on on
foot.

We accordingly hired a londra which lay alongside the quay by the
bazaar.

Our landlords, the Boulem-Bashi of Klementi, and some of our other
friends, came to see us off. After a good deal of hand shaking the four
Englishmen, Marco, Dick Deadeye, and two Albanian boatmen, embarked,
and we were soon descending the river on the top of a strong current.

It would be a very good speculation to run a small steamer to Scutari.

The navigation of the Bojana is easy, and the imports into Scutari from
abroad are considerable. But I suppose this would be an infringement of
the monopoly granted to the carriers; and it will be long ere the
authorities perceive the advantages of this mode of transport over the
slow, expensive, and dangerous carriage on the backs of mules and
horses, across a land unprovided with roads.

Dick Deadeye was in a very melancholy state of mind during this voyage.
He lost his appetite, and grumbled to himself a good deal.

He had before this descended the Bojana with Frankish friends, and knew
that there was a great water further on, associated in his mind with
partings and sorrow; for whenever his companions reached its shores,
they would go away from him in a big londra, never to return.

He looked very plaintively at us all the day, for he knew that the
cruel old story was to be repeated.

Early in the afternoon we reached the bend in the river that had been
described to us, so once more shouldered our guns and commenced our
march. Our way lay across a flat country covered with a dense jungle of
thorn. The road was if possible more abominable than any other we had
met with during our whole journey.

It was not till late at night that we reached Dulcigno, and took up our
quarters in a dirty little khan, for this port possesses no such thing
as an hotel. We cooked some beef, and after a good supper retired to a
hay-loft, where we were able to make ourselves very comfortable for the
night.

The next morning we were able to inspect Dulcigno. A very picturesque
little place it is, built at the foot of a fine valley, which opens on
the sea. There is no harbour, properly speaking--merely an unprotected
roadstead. We were told that the Austrian Lloyd's steamers did not
touch here now, but anchored off a valley some two hours further north,
where there was better shelter. When the wind blows strong on shore,
the steamer cannot touch even there.

Dulcigno is a town of about 6000 inhabitants. These are for the most
part Mussulmen. They have a peculiarly ferocious look, and seem to have
little occupation.

Dulcigno was once a prosperous place, for many a ship was here launched
and equipped for piratical purposes. Her sailors were renowned as being
the bravest and most ferocious buccaneers of the Mediterranean. We have
now come to look upon piracy as such an extinct profession, in the
Mediterranean at least, that it seems strange to remember that it is,
after all, but a few years since this was the ostensible occupation
of the whole population of this coast. Many of the discontented,
wild-looking fishermen we saw mending their nets on the shingle beach
well remembered the good old times, and had themselves taken a part in
seizing some stately Italian schooner, or bright-coloured Dalmatian
felucca. We found the carrier and his string of horses just starting
for the spot off which the Austrian Lloyd anchors, to unload or take on
board goods for and from Scutari. As several of the horses were without
burdens, we were able to ride. The road from Dulcigno to the little bay
to which we were bound was across the most fertile and cultivated
country we had yet seen in Albania. We passed through very forests of
olives; groves of oranges covered the steep hills that sloped down to
the calm Adriatic; pretty white houses, built in the Italian style,
were seen rising from the groves; and the people we met on the way had
a prosperous look about them, which astonished us, and reminded us that
we were approaching civilization.

At last we came on a valley whose slopes were entirely covered with
olives. At the foot of this valley, the two hills that formed it
projected into the sea, terminating in precipitous cliffs, thus forming
a little shingle-fringed bay. This was our destination. By the shore
were pitched three or four tents, where were encamped a body of
soldiers--I presume, on coast-guard duty; for their officer had rather
a queer discussion with Marco as to the contents of our coffin. He
wished to have it opened. Marco indignantly refused to allow anything
of the sort to be done. "They are Englishmen," he said. This, he
thought, was a sufficient explanation. The good fellow had one definite
and fixed idea, at any rate, on the subject of Englishmen. He
considered that they were a worthy and eccentric people, who had no
country of their own, but who, by divine right, were entitled to do
exactly what they liked in any country, not being subject to any laws
whatever. This idea, I have found, is shared with him by many of my
travelling countrymen.

There was a shrill whistle, and the steamer suddenly appeared round the
southern point.

We placed our baggage in a boat, bid adieu to Marco, who kissed our
hands over and over again, and wept to see us go; enjoined him to see
Dick Deadeye safely back to Scutari--and embarked. Poor Dick Deadeye
was inconsolable. It required Marco and two soldiers to hold him back
from jumping into the boat after us. The wailings of the poor old dog
were most pathetic.

I suppose that he is now vagabondizing about the capital once more,
philosophizing on the inconstancy of human friendship. By this time,
probably, he has re-attached himself to his old friends the frontier
commissioners, who, I believe, were to renew their labours this May.
Our general appearance, our baggage, especially the coffin with its
painted lid, caused some amusement on the steamer.

I will not enter into the incidents of our return journey. For seven
days we steamed along the wild coast, and among the rocky islands, till
we reached Trieste, whence we took train for Calais, and so back to
London. It was just after that heavy snowstorm that extended over
nearly half of Europe.

From Trieste to London the whole country was deeply buried. At Venice
the snow was two feet deep. In Paris all traffic had been stopped.
London was little better.

And now I must bid farewell to those that have followed me thus far;
and to those that seek a tourist-unexplored, not over-inaccessible
country, for a summer tour, let me strongly recommend these interesting
lands of ancient Illyria.


FINIS.


  LONDON:
  GILBERT AND RIVINGTON, PRINTERS,
  ST. JOHN'S SQUARE.



_A Catalogue of American and Foreign Books Published or Imported by_
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_Crown Buildings, 188, Fleet Street, London, April, 1880._


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  ~Hutcheson.~   }

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_Guyon (Mde.) Life._ By UPHAM. 6th Edition, crown 8vo, 6_s._


_Handbook to the Charities of London._ _See_ LOW'S.

---- _of Embroidery_; _which see_.

---- _to the Principal Schools of England._ _See_ Practical.

_Half-Hours of Blind Man's Holiday; or, Summer and Winter Sketches in
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_History of a Crime (The); Deposition of an Eye-witness._ By VICTOR
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---- _France._ _See_ GUIZOT.

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_How to Live Long._ _See_ HALL.

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_Hymnal Companion to Book of Common Prayer._ _See_ BICKERSTETH.


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_Jimmy's Cruise in the Pinafore. See_ ALCOTT.


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                  |   Containing    ||  Containing the whole
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  LARGE CROWN 8vo.|   and from      ||      illustrations.
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