Home
  By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII ]

Look for this book on Amazon


We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: The Balkan Trail
Author: Moore, Frederick F. (Frederick Ferdinand)
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.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Balkan Trail" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



THE BALKAN TRAIL


[Illustration: _From a Drawing by_ GILBERT HOLIDAY.

‘NOBODY BLUNDERED.’  [_See page 110._]



  THE BALKAN TRAIL

  BY
  FREDERICK MOORE

  _WITH 62 ILLUSTRATIONS AND A MAP_

  LONDON
  SMITH, ELDER, & CO., 15 WATERLOO PLACE
  1906

  [All rights reserved]



  TO MY FRIEND

  I. N. F.



CONTENTS


CHAPTER                                  PAGE

     I. THE BULGARIAN BORDER                1

    II. THE ROAD TO RILO                   15

   III. THE TRAIL OF THE MISSIONARIES      34

    IV. SOFIA AND THE BULGARIANS           49

     V. CONSTANTINOPLE AND THE TURKS       68

    VI. SALONICA AND THE JEWS              82

   VII. THE DYNAMITERS                    105

  VIII. MONASTIR AND THE GREEKS           134

    IX. ACROSS COUNTRY                    159

     X. USKUB AND THE SERBS               183

    XI. METROVITZA AND THE ALBANIANS      212

   XII. THE LONG TRAIL                    228

  XIII. THE TRAIL OF THE INSURGENT        246

   XIV. ON THE TRACK OF THE TURK          262

    XV. THE LAST TRAIL                    277



ILLUSTRATIONS


  ‘NOBODY BLUNDERED’                                      _Frontispiece_
                     _From a drawing by Gilbert Holiday_

  COUNTING ANIMALS AVAILABLE FOR MILITARY SERVICE         _To face p._ 6

  ON A FRONTIER BRIDGE                                          ”     10

  THE AMAZON                                                }
                                                            }   ”     12
  THE MASCOT                                                }

  THE ROAD TO RILO                                              ”     20

  A BULGARIAN BLOCKHOUSE                                    }
                                                            }   ”     24
  THE BRIDGE OVER THE STRUMA: TURK AND BULGAR               }

  RILO MONASTERY: GRACE BEFORE GRUB                             ”     28

  FATHER COOK AND THE BRIGAND                                   ”     32

  BULGARIAN PEASANTS, SAMAKOV                                   ”     36

  BULGARIAN INFANTRY                                            ”     48

  THE CATHEDRAL, SOFIA                                      }
                                                            }   ”     54
  THE BRITISH AGENCY, SOFIA: A DEMONSTRATION                }

  A VIEW OF SOFIA, VITOSH IN THE BACKGROUND                     ”     58

  ON THE MARKET PLACE, SOFIA                                    ”     60

  DOGS OCCUPY THE PAVEMENT; PEOPLE WALK IN THE STREETS      }
                                                            }   ”     70
  THE TURKISH BARBERSHOP                                    }

  CONSTANTINOPLE: MOSQUE OF YÉNI-DJAMI ON THE BOSPHORUS         ”     74

  A HAMMAL AND A LOAD OF PETROLEUM TINS                         ”     78

  THE WALL AND BEYOND, SALONICA                                 ”     86

  THE ANCIENT ARCH OF CONSTANTINE, SALONICA                     ”     90

  THE TURKISH BUTCHER                                           ”     92

  JEWS                                                      }
                                                            }   ”     96
  JEWISH WOMEN                                              }

  ASIATIC SOLDIERS: ‘REDIFS’                                }
                                                            }   ”    106
  WAITING FOR DYNAMITERS, SALONICA                          }

  THE WRECK OF THE OTTOMAN BANK                             }
                                                            }   ”    116
  ENTERING THE DYNAMITERS’ DEN                              }

  EXILES, SHIPPED WEEKLY FROM SALONICA                          ”    126

  ON A MACEDONIAN LAKE                                          ”    136

  A GREEK                                                       ”    142

  A BIT OF OLD MONASTIR                                         ”    148

  ORTHODOX PRIESTS                                              ”    154

  CAPTIVES ALBANIANS, BULGARIANS                                ”    166

  TURKISH WEDDING FESTIVITIES                                   ”    168

  A GYPSY MINSTREL                                          }
                                                            }   ”    170
  A TURKISH TRUMPETER                                       }

  OUR ESCORT FORDING A STREAM                                   ”    172

  ‘8 CHEVAUX OU 48 HOMMES’: ALBANIAN RECRUITS                   ”    184

  GRAVES OF DEAD COMMITTAJIS                                }
                                                            }   ”    194
  THE OLD TURKISH SEXTON WHO LIVED IN A GRAVE               }

  THE HORSE MARKET                                          }
                                                            }   ”    198
  SWEARING TO A BARGAIN                                     }

  ALBANIAN WOMEN                                                ”    210

  THE ALBANIAN AND HIS KULER                                }
                                                            }   ”    220
  ALBANIAN                                                  }

  A GROUP OF ALBANIANS                                          ”    222

  WAYFARERS AT A ROADSIDE FOUNTAIN: TURKS                       ”    228

  IN A MOUNTAIN VILLAGE: BULGARIAN PEASANTS DANCING THE HORO    ”    236

  THE TURKISH QUARTER: DJUMA-BALA                               ”    242

  RUINS OF KREMEN                                               ”    244

  A TURKISH BAND LEAVING MONASTIR                           }
                                                            }   ”    252
  BASHI-BAZOUKS                                             }

  TURKS ON THE MARCH                                            ”    256

  TURKISH TROOPS                                                ”    260

  VLACHS                                                        ”    266

  ‘HELL HOLE,’ KRUSHEVO                                         ”    274

  THE MACEDONIAN                                                ”    280

  COMMITTAJIS OFF DUTY                                          ”    292


  MAP OF THE BALKANS                                            ”    296



THE BALKAN TRAIL



CHAPTER I

THE BULGARIAN BORDER


Men of position are proud and prejudiced. In humble Sofia, where there
is little pretence, the judge of a supreme court, whose salary was
72_l._ a year, declined an offer of double that wage to serve me as
interpreter. An officer in the army, and other Government officials to
whom I made approaches, displayed similar pride and lack of enterprise.
I was bound for the border, and the only individuals willing to
accompany me were two fallen stars of feeble age, in circumstances of
despair; and at last I was obliged to choose between these luckless
linguists. One was an anarchist, light of head and heavy of heart, the
other a bankrupt viscount with a bad eye. I selected the nobleman, but
a word for the anarchist; he is dead.

He was a very dirty anarchist, with long, shaggy, unkempt mane, and
a hungry, haunted look. He wore a silk-lined frock coat of ample
capacity, a pair of trousers of doubtful suspension, shoes in which
his feet flapped, a silk hat of bygone glory, no collar, no cuffs. He
was of small stature, but his outfit had been created for no little
man. A wonderful ‘gift of gab’ had he; in a few moments I knew his
whole history. He had acquired his knowledge of English in the States,
where in the ’sixties he had served (probably soup) with the Stars
and Stripes when the Stars and Bars were in the field. But--and the
veteran is unique in this regard--he could not procure a pension from
the United States Government. Nevertheless he loved my country. He had
never gone hungry there, while he had often felt the pangs in Bulgaria.
What had Bulgaria done for him? Even the clothes he was wearing had
been given him by an Englishman. For his country’s neglect of her
travelled son, he had acquired the Irish complaint, he was ‘agin’ the
government.’ He was for sending Prince Ferdinand to the hereafter, and
favoured the fashionable dynamite bomb. He was a simple soul; before
he could execute his plot he was sent to eternity himself--though not
quite hoist by his own petard. He was shot, one bright summer evening,
in the public park in front of the palace. Old Barnacle had not known
David Harum’s precept, ‘Do unto the other feller what he would do unto
you--but do it furst.’

Barnacle was an honest man, and he would have been faithful; all he
needed to make him generous was a little success. I knew him well
before he died. But in selecting my interpreter I felt compelled to act
on the principle that a clever crook is sometimes a safer companion
than an honest simpleton.

The man with the bad eye proved to be a character with a most romantic
past, a Continental count who had fallen from his high estate, but
still a man of good taste--particularly for food. He, too, had been a
soldier; he had commanded a company of cavalry in the Russo-Turkish
war, and could still, in his age, ride me out of my saddle. But he was
a Jew, and wisely, as time has proved, did not return after the war
to the land of his birth. He was not a dragoman by profession, there
was nothing servile about him. An English correspondent would not have
tolerated his patronage. But in America, a man and his master, and a
master and his man, equal pretty much the same thing; and we have heard
that things which are equal to the same thing are equal to each other.
No serious class prejudices hampered me, and I was content to permit my
man to be my companion in a land where I could communicate direct with
so few.

The Count had Bulgarian, Turkish, and Russian history, as well as all
the languages of Europe, at his fingers’ ends. In view of his many
accomplishments I agreed to pay him six francs a day and his living and
travelling expenses. But this was not all my man got from me.

The price of a good lunch in London will keep two men for a day in
Balkan country, but I did not know this when I commissioned the Count
to provide a hamper of food for the first days of our journey. Three
loaves of bread, a hunk of Bulgarian cheese, some dried lamb, and
two bottles of native wine cost him more of my money than twice the
quantity would have come to in London. After the investment he dined at
the ‘Pannachoff.’ I sat behind him unnoticed and watched him consume
three times as much food as an ordinary man.

His string of names did justice to his characteristics, Isaac
Swindelbaum von Stuffsky. He was a real count: Isaac Swindelbaum was
all his card bore; an impostor in his predicament would have flaunted
the title. He was called ‘count’ to his face and a ‘Russian spy’
behind his back. But he was not the latter, he was too poor. Until the
correspondents came, he had lived on the meals and the drinks which
tales of his exploits in the war that created Bulgaria won him from her
officers.

When a man has no visible means of support in either Bulgaria or Turkey
he is always labelled Spy. In Bulgaria the term is one of reproach, but
in Turkey spies are looked up to and envied as among the only regularly
paid servants of the Sultan. But the officers of Sofia knew that my man
was not a spy. They said he was an emissary of Russia simply because he
insisted that the great Slav country and Austria, allies for reform,
were sincere in their desire to bring about peace in Macedonia, which
none of the officers believed.

It was a run of only forty kilometres from Sofia to Radomir, but
it took our train half the day to cover the distance. Radomir is
the terminus of the railway to the south, and about half-way to the
frontier. Only one mixed goods and passenger train makes the trip to
and from Sofia each day, and the line is not very profitable. If the
Turkish Government would allow a junction railway to be constructed
from Uskub or Koumanova up to Egri-Palanka, this road would then be
continued to meet it, and all Bulgaria as well as Macedonia would reap
a benefit. But the Turkish rulers like not civilising institutions.

Our train stopped now and again to pick up some peasant’s pig or
waited ten minutes for a late passenger, and we had opportunity to see
something of the villages at which it stopped. At one little town there
was a striking scene. It was early in March; the snow on the Balkans
had not yet begun to melt, and the peasants were still clad in their
sheepskin coats. Before a low _khan_ (a caravansary) were two cavalry
officers and several private soldiers; and all about surged to and
fro white-clad, furry peasants leading horses of all breeds and in
all conditions--nags which had never eaten other feed than grass, and
well-groomed, blooded beasts, bred from the special stables maintained
by the Government for the purpose of improving the native stock. The
officers were counting animals available for military service in case
of war, and the peasants had come from miles around, eager to have
their horses tried and graded.

As a result of this fair, riding horses were not to be hired when
we arrived at Radomir; so we negotiated for one of the customary
cross-country conveyances, cast-off city carriages of all designs,
drawn by numerous nags. The drivers told my Count that were he not
with me they would get thirty francs a day from me. I should have
thought that charge cheap. But, despite my price-elevating presence,
my dragoman brought them down in the end to regular fares. This Jew
of mine saved double his wage every day, and though he swindled me
whenever he had an opportunity, no one else had the chance while he was
with me.

But the bargain took a long time to strike. For an hour he wrangled
with these drivers, who seemed to have formed an anti-American trust.
At last I entered the negotiations, and demanded what all the talk was
about.

‘I’m saving money for you,’ the Count informed me. ‘I’ve got them down
to twelve francs.’

‘Good! then hire a team and we will start.’

‘I’ve just hired this man,’ said the Count, and he proceeded to inform
one of the clamouring coachmen that he was engaged. The delighted
driver dashed off to get his team, and in a few minutes a jingle of
bells announced his return with the coach. It was a most dilapidated
vehicle, patched and strengthened with many pieces of rough plank and
bits of rope; but they were all alike.

I had particularly fancied a four-horse team, the horses all abreast as
in a chariot, but this hired by the Count had only three.

[Illustration: COUNTING ANIMALS AVAILABLE FOR MILITARY SERVICE.]

‘I think we had better have four horses, Count,’ I suggested. ‘We have
a long drive before us, and I don’t like moving slowly.’

‘I have already engaged this man, sir. He asks only twelve francs a day
and guarantees to get us over the mountains in the best time possible.’

‘What’s the price of a four-horse team?’

‘They ask fifteen francs.’

‘Well, I think we can afford twelve shillings for a conveyance, four
horses and a man, Count!’

‘But I have already engaged this man, sir.’

‘Count, we will take a four-horse team.’

The Count expostulated, and I had to repeat. It was then I discovered
that there was something of the Rob Roy in my old Jew. He would rob me
because, as he informed me later, Americans were rolling in wealth, but
he was going to do the right thing by a peasant.

‘But I have hired this man, sir,’ he said again. ‘We shall have to pay
him if we take another.’

I told the Count to give him half a day’s wages, which he did, and the
peasant nearly collapsed with surprise.

The drive over the mountains to Kustendil consumed six hours, so we did
not arrive there until long after dark.

My advance had been telegraphed ahead from Sofia, and soon after
breakfast next morning I was waited on by the governor of the district
and all his staff in a body. The governor had instructions from the
Minister of the Interior to facilitate my journey in every way, and was
ready to do anything he could to aid me. I expressed my appreciation of
his kindness, and promised to avail myself of it if necessary. There
was method in this hospitality: the Bulgarians are not ordinarily so
polite.

The arrival of an American correspondent was a great event in
the little town, and hard on the heels of the governor came two
English-speaking Bulgars, college graduates respectively of Princeton
and the University of West Virginia. One of them was a magistrate,
the other a minister acting under the direction of the American
missionaries. Politically the magistrate and the governor were enemies,
and the officials, all members of the Orthodox Church, were none too
friendly with the Protestant preacher. The courtesy between the parties
was stiff and measured. When the governor and his staff took their
leave, the minister and the judge commandeered me for the rest of the
day to talk over old times in America. We went over to Fournagieff’s
home, a plain building with whitewashed walls of stucco, a low door,
and a narrow, ladder-like staircase leading up to the mission-room.
There we hunted out a book of college songs, and all three sang old
Princeton airs for an hour to the accompaniment of an American melodeon.

Fournagieff’s father was among the refugees from Macedonia who were
then in Kustendil, having come across the border to escape a search for
arms in the Raslog district. I could not get the old man to admit his
association with the _Committajis_ (committee-men), but I think there
is no doubt that he was a local _voivoda_. At any rate, the Turkish
officials suspected him of being a chief, of organising and arming the
peasants of his village, and planned to subject him with others to an
inquisition; but a friendly Turk warned him of the prospective arrival
of troops and advised escape. Old Fournagieff’s Turkish friend supplied
a testimonial vouching for his loyalty to the Padisha, which enabled
him to pass over to Bulgaria by the bridge on the Struma, and saved him
the hardship and dangers of climbing the border Balkans between Turkish
posts.

Kustendil is not a favourite place of refuge, and there were few
fugitives here; but the town suits the purposes of the insurgents, and
rightly has a bad name among the Turks for breeding ‘brigands.’ The
mountains in this district are wooded and rugged, and an infinitely
larger and more vigilant force than the Turkish Government maintains
on the frontier is necessary to close it to the committajis. There
were several bands in Kustendil at this time, preparing to cross into
Turkey, and the leaders of one called at the hotel and invited me to
accompany them. I should see everything in Macedonia, they said, if I
went under their guidance, whereas, if I trusted myself to the Turks,
I should see only the beauties of the land and none of its horrors.
I questioned these fellows as to the conditions of the scheme, and
learned these: I should have to travel by night and keep closely
hidden by day; I should have to wear the peasant garb peculiar to
the district in which I was, and raise a beard to hide my foreign
physiognomy; I should have to live on the coarsest of native food and
sometimes go without any; I should not be allowed to talk to anyone,
for the band could not take along my antique interpreter.

I was very anxious to see one of their fights, I said, and I asked if
they would have one within a reasonable time.

Certainly, came the reply; they could have a small one whenever I liked.

I was much tempted to the adventure, but afraid to trust myself to the
tender mercies of these ‘brigands,’ and mildly told them so. This gave
the leader an idea.

‘Would you like to get rich?’ he asked.

‘I would,’ I replied.

‘If you will permit us to capture you, we will share whatever ransom we
obtain.’

Before I could reply the Count delivered his advice, which it suited me
to follow. The Count did not like the idea of the brigands taking me
out of his hands.

[Illustration: ON A FRONTIER BRIDGE.]

While I was entertaining the committajis the governor returned to the
khan to invite me to luncheon, and entered my room unannounced. I
expected to see a hurried scattering of my guests, but none of them so
much as changed countenance. The governor took them in at a glance,
but otherwise completely ignored them. At this time the Bulgarian
Foreign Office was declaring emphatically that every effort was
being made to prevent the passing of bands from the Principality into
the sovereign State, so it rested with the governor to make excuse for
the inactivity of the law in this case. The governor gave explanation
at his table. He said he knew every one of the insurgents who were in
my room, and that they were all bogus warriors, not worthy of arrest.
None of them had ever been to Turkey. They belonged to the External
Committee, and they took good care to do no internal work.

While strolling through the town with my Count at a later day, there
appeared a band of some twenty unarmed insurgents under arrest. One
gendarme had charge of the whole party, and took little heed of their
scattering. They were on their way to Sofia. They had just come back
from Macedonia after hiding their arms in the mountains, and had
come down to the town to surrender. If they allowed themselves to
be arrested, I understood, they received free transportation to the
capital, where their names were recorded and they were set free on
parole; whereas, if they avoided arrest, they were compelled to walk to
wherever they would be, for none of them possessed sufficient money to
pay railway or coach fare.

They were a mongrel crew, only one clean ‘man’ among them, and that a
woman. They looked as if they had seen service. Their outfits covered
a wide range of variety, and were much torn and tattered. A few had
military overcoats with many patches, some wore native cloaks of
broad black and white stripes, and others were wrapped in blankets
like American Indians. The woman had no greatcoat, but her uniform
was warmer and in better condition than those of the men: the patches
were perfect. She carried a needle and thread, but only one kind of
medicine, though a red cross decorated her arm. She caught my eye at
once, and I sent the Count into the band to ascertain if she would
honour me with an interview. My man went up to her with the blunt and
burly manner he was wont to wear, grabbed her by the arm, and explained
his errand in a word. This, I can imagine, is what he said: ‘Come with
me; an American correspondent wants to hear your story!’ The whole
band, including the single guard, stopped, wheeled round, and followed
the bad-eyed Count and his captive. They gathered about the girl and
me, and prompted her memory whenever it failed on points of detail.

We sat on two empty wine casks in front of a peasant’s khan, and I took
notes as the Count drew from the Amazon an account of her adventures
beyond the border.

This band had been in the enemy’s country for about six months, in
which time they had had five fights, and she estimated that she herself
had killed and wounded no fewer than eight Turks. While she talked she
crossed her trousered limbs and drew a dagger from her legging as a
Scot would from his sock. She tossed the weapon about and caught it
dexterously by the handle, and told me how she marched with her
brothers-in-arms fifty miles and more a night.

[Illustration: THE AMAZON.]

[Illustration: THE MASCOT.]

In the daytime they rested at the summit of some lonely mountain
which commanded a length of road and a breadth of valley, and from
these ‘crows’ nests’ in the height descended by night to ambush small
bodies of Turks or swoop down on little towns, attempting the total
destruction of the garrison and the last male Moslem therein. This
woman had no mercy on Turks; she said they had slain her mother, her
father, and all her brothers in one day. She was a soldier of fortune;
revenge was hers, and hope for Macedonia. In concluding her remarks
the lady drew a phial of arsenic from her trousers-pocket and informed
me that the poison was for the purpose of taking her own life in case
of capture by the Turks. I took her photograph, with and without her
companions, and the whole band shook hands with me and resumed their
march to the railway terminus.

This was the only female fighter I encountered on my tracks through
the Balkans, but there are many with the bands. A missionary told
me an interesting story of one, which throws light on the strange
mental workings of some of the insurgent chiefs. The missionary met
the Amazon, a pretty young woman about twenty, wandering along a high
road near Samakov. The girl asked the way to the town, and told the
following story: She had been betrothed to a young man who felt called
to the service of his country. She threatened her lover that if he
joined a revolutionary band she would go with him. Both firm in their
purpose, they both joined the band, and for several weeks fought side
by side. But the girl was not able to stand the hardships, and the
heavy work soon began to tell on her. She began to lag behind the
others on the hard night marches, and would not have been able to keep
up at all except for the assistance of her strong young lover. Finally
the voivoda called the man before him and delivered himself thus:
‘Committajis have their work to do and cannot be hampered with women.
The woman must be left behind to-night, but you must continue with the
band.’ The man protested, entreated, threatened, but all to no avail.
That night the insurgents started, leaving the woman to an unknown
fate; the man refused to accompany them. The chief did not hesitate to
order the recognised punishment, and his men, though they liked the
young man well, did not hesitate to execute the command.

The youth was taken into a secluded dell, from which he never came
forth. The girl listened, but no sound escaped. The report of a gun
might have attracted Turks.

She found his body later, stabbed, and buried it in leaves. The
insurgents punish with death; they have no prisons.



CHAPTER II

THE ROAD TO RILO


A representative body of Bulgarians assembled at the khan on the
morning of our departure from Kustendil. Several army officers, who
were staying at the khan, rose early and ate a five-o’clock breakfast
with us; a deputation of committajis arrived before we had finished
the meal; at six o’clock the missionary and the judge appeared; and a
mounted officer and two gendarmes drew up before the door; peasants on
their way to the fields, and meek and miserable refugees, for want of
something better to do, gathered to see the strange foreigners depart.
Everybody was anxious to be of service to us, and ready at a word to do
anything we required. But the judge and the minister managed to secure
all of my few commissions, because they, speaking English, did not have
to wait like the others until the Count interpreted my wants. I had to
arrange several minor matters, such as the forwarding of telegrams and
letters, and to send some of my luggage back to Sofia, because we had
discharged our shandrydan at this point, and would proceed down the
frontier mounted.

While I was engaged stuffing a toothbrush, a box of Keating’s, a
couple of pairs of socks, and other absolute necessities into my
saddle-bags, the Count, ever busying himself with money matters, went
to the _khanji_ and requested the statement of our account. Now, the
innkeeper was a Greek, and, true to Hellenic principles, he had charged
us all and more than he had any hope of getting. He tried to put the
Count off and get a settlement from me. But my Jew was not to be thrust
aside by any mere Greek.


When Greek meets Jew.

The _khanji_ informed the Count--after much insistence on the part
of the latter--that we owed him a sum of several napoleons (I do not
remember the exact amount).

‘What!’ exclaimed the Jew. ‘Let me see your book.’

The Greek passed over a much ear-marked memorandum book in which
he had kept the record of the number of nights we had slept at his
hostelry, and what we had eaten. We had been charged three francs per
night per cot, while two officers who shared a room with us and had
like accommodation, were paying less than a franc apiece; two francs
fifty for each meal--for which the Bulgarians paid less than a third
as much--and a franc a flagon for the Count’s wine, correspondingly
high for the native vintage. My man began to talk to the _khanji_ in
loud, loose language, which let the entire assembly know of the Greek’s
crime. The officers, the committajis, and even the ordinary natives
became indignant at this ‘attempt to impose on a foreigner,’ and in a
body joined the Count in abusing the garrulous Greek. The Greek stood
his ground in a manner worthy of his ancient forefathers, and declined
to take one sou off his bill, arguing that I should pay at the rate at
which I was accustomed to paying. The foreigner, he contended, should
not profit by native prices, but the native should profit by foreign
prices. Good reasoning. I offered to ‘split the difference’ between
native and foreign prices. The Greek agreed, but the sum to be paid
figured out too much to meet the approval of the Count, who left the
khan most disgruntled, because, he said sorrowfully, ‘It hurts me to
be cheated; and even if it suits you to throw away money, I would have
you refrain from lavishing it upon Greeks, who do not appreciate it,
and puff themselves up with pride at having successfully swindled me!’
My old Jew assumed more the _rôle_ of manager than man, and I did not
dislike him for it. While I acted on my own judgment in matters of
more or less importance, I always listened to his counsel, for it was
generally good, and I took no measures to suppress him.

We made so early a start from Kustendil that the governor was unable to
be present; but he sent a representative to wish us a pleasant journey
and to offer me an escort of gendarmes.

‘Isn’t the district safe?’ I asked.

The question was offensive. Everybody generally responded to my
inquiries in one breath, but this brought a dignified silence over the
assembly; only the official person, the governor’s representative,
replied:

‘Every district in Bulgaria is perfectly safe. You can travel anywhere
in our land as securely as you can in your own.’

‘Then of course we need no escort?’

‘But there is danger,’ interrupted the Count, unconsciously blinking
his bad eye. ‘The route which we are taking is seldom travelled, and if
we encounter border patrols we shall arouse suspicion.’ The Count knew
what the company of gendarmes would mean in foraging, and to old Von
Stuffsky the grub was the thing!

The gendarmes were fairly well mounted, but the only animals that we
could obtain were two tiny pack-ponies full of tantalising pack-train
habits. They were strong little beasts, and could travel all day
without showing fatigue, but it was impossible to get them out of a
pack-train gait, and under no circumstance would they travel side by
side. After the Count had struggled desperately with his little brute
for quite an hour, he borrowed one of the officer’s spurs, and we all
halted while he sat on a rock and fastened it to a foot; for had we not
waited, the Count’s animal, having no other to follow, would have taken
him back to its stable. When the old man mounted again his temper had
cooled, and instead of giving his pony a vicious kick, as I expected,
he brought his heels together gently but firmly. The horse lifted a
hind leg and kicked viciously at the bite. But this did not rid him of
the annoyance, so he turned his head around and sought the insect with
his teeth. For this he got a kick in the nose, and then began to learn
what the spur meant.

The price for the hire of the ponies was absurd, a franc a day apiece;
and we paid another franc a day for a boy to go with us and care for
them. This boy was wise; he came along on foot.

From the crest of the first high hill Macedonia came into view. The
land sweeps on as one; there is no line to mark where Occident ends and
Orient begins; but somewhere down there the order of things reverses.
Here, where we stood, the Mohamedan is the infidel; across the valley
the Christian is the _giaour_.

We took a course generally along the Struma, as near the border as
we could pass without being halted by frontier guards. We kept to
the north bank as much as possible; when compelled, because of bad
ground, to take the south side, we did not lose sight of the river,
for there was no other line to keep us within the border. There was
no high road on our route, and for many miles not even a footpath. We
had no guide, and neither of the gendarmes had been over the route
before. Consequently we had often to retrace our steps and make long
détours, sometimes for miles, when we happened to get into a ‘blind’
cañon or meet the edge of a mountain side too steep for descent. Once,
while following the river (which was generally fordable), we came to
a gorge less than a hundred feet in breadth, through which the water
poured swift and deep, and on both sides the mountains rose almost
perpendicularly. We could not venture the horses into the seething
waters, nor was it possible to get them up the steep slopes, so we
were obliged to make our way back up stream until we found an incline
gradual enough to climb.

It was often necessary to dismount and make our way on foot. For
several miles we followed a footpath seldom more than two feet wide,
high up on the side of a steep, rocky mountain. Fortunately the ponies
were cool-headed and sure-footed. On one such ledge we overtook a
committaji pack-train making its way towards the frontier from Dupnitza
with ammunition and provisions for a band. We hailed the insurgents and
accompanied them to an apparently deserted hut with a little wooden
cross at its top. When we came in sight of this place the voivoda gave
a long, loud whistle, and two men appeared. Where were the others? We
were all disappointed to hear that the band had had a good opportunity
to cross the border the evening before, and had gone back into Turkey
without waiting for the supplies.

We ate lunch at the insurgent armoury, and had a contest at
target-shooting after the meal. Some of the insurgents were very good
marksmen, but the gendarmerie officer hit more ‘bull’s eyes’ than any
of us.

[Illustration: THE ROAD TO RILO.]

For hours before we came upon this hut we had not passed a single
habitation, and for quite a while after we left it the mountains were
completely deserted. It was just the place for a brigand camp. Most of
the country through which we passed this day was not only uncultivated,
but almost entirely barren; dwarfed shrubs grew in patches here and
there, but no woods did we pass in the whole twelve hours’ track.

In the afternoon we came upon a faint footpath which led in our
direction. After following it for half an hour, we found it change
abruptly into a waggon track, though no farmhouse or ploughed field
excused this sudden transformation. The road began at nowhere, but led
down to the river again, through it, and up to Boborshevo, where we had
planned to spend the night. We found our boy already established at the
khan; he had outstripped us early in the day.

We were all weary and dusty, and ravenously hungry, but the khan’s
larder contained only a huge round loaf of brown bread, a few bits of
garlic, and the materials for Turkish coffee, which I had not yet come
to regard as fit to drink; nor did it seem possible to obtain much
else in the village. We despatched the boy to make inquiries, and he
returned with the information that each of four peasant families could
supply a loaf. Not a very promising outlook for supper! I asked if the
villagers ate nothing else themselves, and learned that they lived
practically by bread alone. They have generally a bit of cheese or an
onion with which to flavour the bread; but meat or fowl or eggs they
indulge in only on fête days.

But our gendarmes assured us that we should get a supper, and presently
the meal came bleating through the door. It was allowed to stop in the
café for a few minutes, where it cuddled up to the Count, while the
_khanji_ sharpened his knife. Then the poor little thing was dragged
back into the stable, and in about half an hour a smoking stew was set
before us.

This town afforded about the worst accommodation we had yet found, but
it provided a wandering minstrel. All the creature could do was laugh;
but his laugh was incessant and infectious. We gave him supper, and
he returned again in the morning for breakfast, whereafter I took the
preceding photograph of him, which by no means does justice to the
breadth of his grin. The cap which he wore was made (he told us) by an
insurgent in a band with which he had travelled as a mascot. It was an
extra large committaji cap bearing the committee’s motto, in the usual
brass design,‘Liberty or Death.’ It lacked, however, the skull and
crossbones sometimes worn.

The _khanji_ at Boborshevo apologised for the bill he presented at
our departure. He had stabled and fed nine of us, including the four
ponies, and our indebtedness came to a grand total of eleven francs!
The khan-keeper was a Bulgarian.

It is interesting to observe that a Turk swindles you to demonstrate
to himself how much more clever he is than is an ‘infidel’; a Greek
swindles you because he desires your money; while both Turk and Greek
declare the Bulgarian too stupid to cheat.

We expected to find a high road leading out of Boborshevo, but if there
was one it did not lead in our direction. The only road towards the
east was another waggon track which again crossed the Struma. By this
time we had come to feel as much at home in the water as out of it. We
had at first shown consideration for our boy by taking him across the
river on one of our horses, but we both got tired of this, and he soon
struck his own course, invariably arriving at appointed meeting places
an hour or more before us. We met him at Kotcharinova this day at noon,
resting at the village fountain and making a meal of bread and lump
sugar. He declined a piece of lamb, saying that to eat meat two days in
succession would make him ill.

To the south of Kotcharinova, less than half a mile, is a border post,
where the casernes of the respective forces stand on the opposite
shores of the narrow Struma, and the Bulgarian and Turkish sentries
pace side by side, bayonets fixed, at the centre of the bridge. We
made a détour to Barakova (such is the name of this post), leaving our
escort to await us on the road to Rilo. There was no difficulty in
securing from the Bulgarian officer permission to visit the Turkish
side, but we were halted for a quarter of an hour at the magic line
while the Turkish sentry called the corporal, and the corporal called
the sergeant, and the sergeant went and waked the commandant, who
first peeped out of his window, then rose, dressed, and came to fetch
us. The first remarks of this smartly uniformed officer, who spoke some
French, were in the nature of apologies for the Turkish part of the
bridge; a _Graphic_ artist, with whom I visited Barakova a year later,
described it as ‘made of holes with a few boards between.’

The half-dozen fezzed soldiers whom we saw from the bridge were fine
specimens of men, and at a glance compared favourably in uniforms and
arms with the Bulgarians. I was curious to go through their camp, but
the officer would show me only his own room. The Turks possess no
military secret unknown to the European, but they are all afraid he
might find one in their camps.

‘It is quite absurd,’ said the officer at Barakova, as, seated on his
rough divans, we sipped his coffee; ‘it is quite absurd for the foreign
journals to say that Turks commit atrocities. We are a highly civilised
people, and our Padisha is a most enlightened and humane monarch, and
it is ridiculous to accuse him or his army of doing a single barbarous
deed. Now, the Bulgarians are barbarians, and, naturally, it is they
who perpetrate all these massacres and other horrible crimes.

‘Tell me,’ continued the Turk without abatement, ‘are sections of
America still barbarous? I read of blacks being burned at the stake.’
Clever Turk.

[Illustration: A BULGARIAN BLOCKHOUSE.]

[Illustration: THE BRIDGE OVER THE STRUMA: TURK AND BULGAR.]

More than a year later I returned to Barakova from the Turkish side
and asked the same Turkish commander for permission to visit the
Bulgarian barracks; but he had many excuses to offer. Perhaps the
Bulgarian garrison would not like us to visit them unannounced; it was
against all regulations for anyone to step across that border without
a passavant which could not be issued nearer than at Djuma-bala; if
anything should happen to us while on the Bulgarian side, the Padisha
would be seriously grieved at his (the officer’s) having permitted us
to go over into Bulgaria. But we had despatches to forward and letters
to post, and vented upon the Turk three hours’ persistent persuasion,
when finally he consented to take us over the bridge himself. Six other
officers accompanied him, and our interpreter was detained in the
Turkish barracks as a hostage. There was no other way than to deliver
our letters to the Bulgarians in the presence of the Turks, and the
moment was awkward for all parties.

Shortly after leaving Barakova we got the first view of Perim Dagh,
a celebrated high peak in Macedonia, renowned among the Bulgarians
as the mountain from which Sarafoff issued his call ‘to his
brothers’--Sarafoff and St. Paul!--to come over into Macedonia and help
him!

This was a more productive district than that through which we had
passed the day before; the land was generally tilled and settlements
were comparatively numerous. And after passing Rilo Silo (Rilo
village), where the long climb to the monastery begins, the way leads
through a dense forest which covers the mountains.

The road to Rilo is by the side of a rapid brook, which has its source
somewhere in the wild woods far above the monastery, up under the line
of perpetual snow. It tumbles for more than twenty miles over the small
boulders, and between the big ones, down, down, down to the village;
this, at least, is as far as I know it tumbles, from having followed
it. On both sides of the brook rise the Balkans, the crest of the range
to the south forming the border-line. From Rilo Silo to Rilo Monastery
there is but one pass through these mountains, and in this gateway to
Turkey stands the Bulgarian blockhouse shown in the preceding picture.
In spite of the fact that it was yet winter, the leaves on the trees
were thick enough to keep the rays of sun from the road, and there
was a chill under the grove which soon caused us all to unpack our
greatcoats. As our elevation increased, the air grew yet colder; the
brook took on icy rims, icicles clung to the bigger boulders, and
snowdrifts lodged by the side of the road. We dismounted one by one,
for the slow up-hill pace of the horses afforded no exercise, and we
needed more warmth than our coats would give. The gendarmes, as I have
said, were better mounted than were the Count and I, but on foot we
had the advantage of them. Their horses had always to be led--and did
not lead as well as they drove--while our pack-ponies, ever content to
follow pace, could be turned loose, and would follow the other animals
as tenaciously as if tied to their tails.

The sun had long dropped behind the mountains--though the day had
not yet gone--when we emerged from the forest into a clearing, and
the first view of the great, bleak, deserted-looking monastery broke
suddenly upon us. The heavy gates were swung back, grating on their
rusty hinges, and a long-bearded, black-robed priest came forth to
welcome us. The gendarmerie officer had telegraphed from Rilo Silo that
we would arrive that night, and the hospitable monks had got our rooms
warm and ready, and prepared a splendid supper for us.

There was no fireplace or stove in the room which was allotted to me,
but a broad, tiled chimney came through the wall from an ante-room.
A queer little dwarf--not a monk, but long-haired and bearded like
them--who occupied this room, was assigned to the task of waiting on us
and stoking the fire in the oven.

The Rilo Monastery is a great rectangular pile four storeys high,
built of stone around a spacious courtyard. On the outside a height
of sheer wall is broken by small barred windows only above the second
floor, and two arched gateways below, one at each end of the place.
The old convent was built for siege. Within, facing on the courtyard,
are broad balconies, quite a sixth of a mile around. The chapel stands
in the centre of the court, and beside it there is an ancient tower
and dungeon dating from mediæval times. Although the foundation of
the monastery is very old, most of the present structure and the
church date from only 150 years back. At one time it sheltered several
hundred monks, but the number has dwindled away until to-day there are
but fifty or sixty there. The old abbot said ruefully that since the
Bulgarians had become free they are not so willing to enter holy orders
as they were when under the Turks. Naturally; this monastery, for some
reason, was always exempt from ravage by Turkish troops, and to enter
it was to find safety for body as well as soul. The greater part of the
building is now usually unoccupied, and its vast, bare rooms have a
most desolate appearance.

The painting of the place is most peculiar. Outside the stones are
left their natural colour, but the courtyard walls are whitewashed and
striped with red. The balconies and the overhanging roof, the rafters
of which are visible, are almost black from age. The place would be
magnificent were it not made hideous with atrocious frescoes, which
might have originated in the mind of a Doré and must have been executed
by a schoolboy. The pictures covering both the outer and inner walls
of the chapel, which stands in the centre of the court, are grouped
in pairs or sets, and portray side by side the after torments of the
wicked and the bliss of the good. Many of the sleeping-rooms are
likewise decorated in a manner conducive to nightmare.

[Illustration: RILO MONASTERY: GRACE BEFORE GRUB.]

There is a museum at Rilo of old Bulgarian books, icons, and other
church relics, of all of which the monks are very proud. Many of the
books were saved from destruction at the hands of the Greek priests
in their late attempt to Hellenise the Bulgarians by obliterating their
language. There are presents from the Sultans, and some articles of
intrinsic value.

I was much interested in a retired brigand who lived at the monastery,
and invited him and a committaji sojourning there to join us one
evening at supper. We were a strange gathering that sat down to the
monks’ good fare that memorable night. There were many monks, in
flowing robes and headgear like stove-pipe hats worn upside down.
In the centre of this sombre assembly was our party: the brigand, a
powerful mountain fellow who had worn his weapons day and night for
thirty years; a desperate revolutionist engaged in directing the
passage of bands across the Balkans; a border officer who had been
picked for his nerve and judgment to serve on the Turkish frontier; my
Count and myself.

It took much persuasion and many glasses of the monks’ good wine to
make the brigand tell us of his adventures; but when he had fairly
begun he went into most extravagant detail and gave us substantial
demonstration of how he had done his many deeds of valour. He took his
yataghan and wielded it about him in a desperate manner as he told
us of how, when surrounded on one occasion, he cut his way through
overwhelming numbers of Turkish troops; he drew his dagger at another
period and crept stealthily along to slay an adversary by surprise;
and he stretched himself full length on the floor and aimed his rifle
over imaginary rocks when giving an account of what he considered the
narrowest escape he had ever had.

He and his band had been forced by a body of Turks up a mountain side
at the back of which was a yawning precipice. Half of his men dropped
behind rocks and held the Turks at bay while the others took off their
long red sashes and tied them together into a rope, by which all but
four managed to escape by sliding down the chasm into a thickly wooded
valley below. The brigand told us that he had chopped off the heads of
Turks with a single blow, and had to his credit in all seventeen dead
men. He was an Albanian--a Christian Albanian--which accounts for the
record he kept of his killings.

Everybody at the monastery but myself was accustomed to such narratives
as these, and no one else--not even the holy monks--showed the least
emotion at the bloody recital. It was purely for my benefit.

Towards midnight the conversation turned to combats to come, and both
the officer and the committaji assured me there would be no lack of
blood-letting as soon as the snows melted. Ammunition was going across
the frontier nightly, and preparations for the revolution were being
prosecuted vigorously under the very noses of the Turkish authorities.
But it was necessary in some districts, where the Government officials
were keenly on the alert, to adopt curious means of getting arms
into the towns. The insurgent told this story of how a supply of
dynamite bombs was got into Monastir. A funeral parade started from an
ungarrisoned village near by, and marched into the town to the solemn
chant of a mock priest, attired in gilded vestments, and acolytes
swinging incense. Mourners, men and women, followed the corpse, weeping
copiously. The Turks did not notice that the dead man was exceptionally
heavy, and required twice the usual number of pall-bearers. The
insurgents buried their load in the Bulgarian cemetery with all due
dust to dust and ashes to ashes. The local voivodas were apprised of
the fact, and the following night a select delegation robbed the grave.

There were no refugees at Rilo on the occasion of my first visit.
Several months had elapsed since the search for arms in the Struma
and Razlog districts, and the fugitives who had come to the monastery
to escape this inquisition in Macedonia had now moved on to the towns
and villages further from the frontier. But six months later, when
I returned after the revolution in Macedonia, the place was crowded
with refugees. There were nearly two thousand quartered in the main
building and in the stables and cornbins round about, and more were
arriving daily. Some reached the monastery driving a cow or two, and
others leading ponies and donkeys heavily laden with all their poor
possessions; but many came with only what they carried on their backs.
The special burden of the little girls seemed to be their mothers’
babies, borne in bags strapped to their backs.

Some of the young mothers bore between their eyes peculiar marks which
attracted my attention. They were crosses tattooed there. They told me
that these life marks were for the purpose of preventing the Turks from
stealing them; but I am of the opinion that the sign of the Cross would
not prevent a Moslem from taking a Christian woman.

A caravan of pack-ponies arrived at Rilo every morning, bringing bread,
which was supplied to the refugees by the Bulgarian Government. Besides
this they received soup from the monastery once a day.

The kitchen at Rilo is quite worthy of description. It is on the ground
floor, but above it there are no other rooms. Its walls go up to the
roof. The fire is built in the centre of the room, on the floor, which
is of stone, and the smoke rises a hundred feet and escapes through
a round hole about a foot in diameter. The refugee soup was boiled
in a huge iron cauldron, suspended by chains over the fire. So large
was this pot that the cook had to stand on a box to stir the boiling
beverage, which he did with a great wooden spoon almost as long as
himself. At noon the refugees gathered in the courtyard with earthen
vessels, and as the names of their villages were called they came up
to the pot, and the old grey-bearded cook dished out a big spoonful
of soup to each mother, and a monk handed her a loaf or more of bread
according to the number of children she had.

[Illustration: FATHER COOK AND THE BRIGAND.]

The native costumes of the Macedonians are of the gayest colours,
and this midday scene was beautiful as well as pitiable. But there was
a night scene at the monastery which was even more fascinating. There
were two companies of infantry also quartered here, and as there was
no hall to spare for use as mess-room, they were obliged to eat their
meals in the open courtyard. A few minutes before the supper-hour
pots of stew or soup, or other army rations, were set in a row on the
stone pavement. When the call to mess was sounded the soldiers fell in
behind the pots, each with half a loaf of bread and a tin spoon, and
stood facing the chapel. The drums beat again, and with one accord the
line of yellow-coated men doffed their caps. Their officer, likewise
reverencing, pronounced the grace, and the company made the sign of the
Cross three times in drill regularity. The men then seated themselves,
eight round a pot, and began their meal in the golden light of pine
torches fastened to the great pillars which support the balconies.

In the Balkans the Christian call to mass is beaten on a pine board.
The hours of prayer are regular at Rilo, and the time of day is told by
the shrill tattoo. The next lap of our trail was long, and we rose and
saddled horses at the call to six o’clock mass.



CHAPTER III

THE TRAIL OF THE MISSIONARIES


From Rilo it is a day’s track to Samakov, a primitive, dreamy town,
full of frontier colour and character. A mosque and a Turkish fountain
still do duty in the market place, and many times a day Turks come to
the fountain to wash before entering the mosque to prayer--just as they
do across the border. But over there the Christian drawing drinking
water makes way for the Moslem to wash his feet, while here the Turk is
made to wait his turn like any other man. Samakov is much like other
border towns, built largely of mud bricks, roofed with red tiles,
crowned with storks’ nests. It possesses, however, one distinctive
feature.

The largest American college in South-Eastern Europe, outside of
Constantinople, is here. It is conducted by the American missionaries,
and educates most of the Bulgarian teachers employed in the Protestant
schools throughout Bulgaria and Macedonia. It is something more than a
theological institute; it is also an industrial school, patterned after
those most successful in the United States, where boys learning trades
may earn part or all of their tuition. The carpentering department and
the printing press are both conducted at a profit, which is credited
proportionately to the boys who do the work. In the girls’ school the
duties of home and life are taught, as well as book knowledge, and some
of the young women are trained for the positions of teachers in the
smaller mission schools.

The Bulgarians owe much to the American missionaries, both directly
and indirectly. For one thing, the Americans have excited, without
intention, the jealousy of the Orthodox Church, which has undoubtedly
assisted in keeping the priests active in developing their own
educational institutions. It was not until the American missionaries
opened a school for girls in their land that the Bulgarians began to
educate their women. But that was many years ago, before Bulgaria
became a quasi-independent State; now the State schools afford every
advantage the Americans can offer--except the American language.

The Bulgarian Government attempts to administer justice to all
denominations and to maintain religious equality before the law, and
the Government comes fairly near to this aim. The Greeks complain that
Greek schools are not subsidised, but Turkish schools are maintained
by the State. It is due to the freedom of religious opinion existing
in Bulgaria that the missionaries have become so closely allied with
the Bulgarians, for in no other Balkan country, except perhaps Rumania,
is there the same liberty of thought. The Servian Government prohibits
by law all proselytising to Protestantism. The Greeks--though they
welcomed the aid and sympathy of the missionaries in the Greek war
of independence--have since enacted laws which make the teaching of
‘sacred lessons’ in the schools compulsory, lessons of a character
which the missionaries refuse to disseminate. The Sultan would not
tolerate the missionaries in his dominions if they attempted to convert
Mohamedans, while the few Turks who have deserted Mohamedanism have
mysteriously disappeared. And it has been found almost impossible to
convert Jews. So the missionaries are left only the Bulgarians on whom
to work. Their schools and churches are open to other nationalities in
both Bulgaria and Macedonia; but, for the double reason that they are
institutions of Protestants and of Bulgarians, very few of the other
races ever seek admission.

But the Bulgarians do not appreciate the work of the Americans; indeed,
those who are not converted distinctly rebel against what they term
the ‘Christianising of Christians.’ I have said that the Government
was just in religious matters; the members of the Government, however,
are not. Government officials (adherents of the Orthodox Church, or
they would not be elected) make it difficult for the missionaries to
extend their work, by delaying necessary permits and privileges as
long as possible; and they favour members of the Orthodox Church in
making appointments to public service. The unfortunate missionaries
are, therefore, between the devil and the deep sea; for while the
Bulgarians resent being the subject of missions, the Turks accuse the
Americans of propagating a revolutionary spirit amongst the Bulgars. Of
the latter, however, they are not directly guilty, though the education
of a peasant naturally tends to fire his spirit.

[Illustration: BULGARIAN PEASANTS, SAMAKOV.]

But there was one occasion when the American missionaries came to be
important instruments of the Macedonian revolutionary cause. This was
in the notorious capture of Miss Ellen M. Stone, a certain feature of
which, not correctly chronicled at the time, makes a most interesting
narrative.

Early in July 1901, a party of Protestant missionaries and
teachers--among whom Miss Stone was the only foreigner--left the
American school at Samakov and crossed the Turkish frontier to
Djuma-bala. From Djuma they proceeded into Macedonia, without an
escort, considering that the party, numbering fifteen, was too large
to be molested. Towards nightfall of the first day out the travellers,
growing weary, allowed their ponies to straggle, as the Macedonian
pony is wont to do. At dark the cavalcade began to ascend a rugged
mountain in this disorder, and rode directly into an ambush laid for
the Americans. It was an easy matter for the brigands to ‘round-up’ the
whole number without firing a single shot. The brigands had no need for
the other members of the company, being Bulgarians, and sent all of
them on their way except Mrs. Tsilka, whom they detained as a companion
for Miss Stone.

The sum demanded for Miss Stone’s ransom was twenty-five thousand
Turkish liras, slightly less in value than so many English pounds. The
American Government took no effective measures to secure the release of
its subject, and it was left to the American people to subscribe the
ransom money. In a few months the sum of sixty-eight thousand dollars
(fourteen thousand five hundred pounds Turkish) was collected, and the
American Consul-General at Constantinople went to Sofia to negotiate
the ransom. But in Bulgaria he was annoyed by the people and the press,
and hampered by the Government, and he soon found it impracticable
to pay the money to the brigands from that side of the border. The
Orthodox churchmen had no sympathy for the American evangelist and
treated the affair as a grand joke, while the Government sought to
prevent payment of the ransom on Bulgarian soil, lest it should be
called upon by the United States at a later date to refund the amount.

At the end of five months from the time of the capture, the
Consul-General (Mr. Dickenson) had accomplished only an agreement
with the brigands that Miss Stone should be set at liberty on payment
of the sum collected in lieu of the one demanded, and he returned to
Constantinople and transferred the work to a committee appointed by the
American Minister on instructions from Washington.

According to accounts sent to the newspapers at the time by
correspondents who, with many Turkish soldiers, dogged the footsteps
of the three men who formed the ransom committee, these gentlemen,
Messrs. Peet, House, and Garguilo, after travelling over hundreds
of miles of wild mountain roads, doubling on their tracks sometimes
daily in their search for the brigands, finally despaired of paying
the ransom in gold, sent the gold back to Constantinople, secured
bank-notes in its stead, and paid two agents of the insurgents in
paper money at a cross road when they (the committee) managed to
escape the vigilance of the Turkish soldiers for a few minutes. But
the correspondents were sadly duped, for necessity and the committajis
demanded that they should be placed in the same category as the Turks,
and regarded as dangerous characters.

If a member of the committee could tell this tale it would make a
most readable volume, but the committee is bound by a promise to the
insurgents to keep secret certain details, and I am able to give only a
bare outline of the adventure.

I first learned that the original accounts of the ransoming were
erroneous from Mr. Garguilo, whom I met one day at the American
Legation at Constantinople, of which he is the dragoman. He was proud
of having defeated some worthy men among my colleagues and the Turkish
police at the same time. He told me bits of the story which whetted my
curiosity, and I resolved to run it to earth.

Before I left Constantinople I called on Mr. Peet at his office, the
headquarters of the American Mission Board, and, in the course of a
conversation about the Stone affair, added a few more facts to those
Mr. Garguilo had given me. It was my good fortune, not long after, to
meet Dr. House at the American mission at Salonica, and I took the
opportunity of discussing the affair with him. And as I proceeded
through Macedonia I encountered many others of the principal actors
in the little drama. I came upon Mr. and Mrs. Tsilka at Monastir;
then the Turkish officer who had been detached to follow the fourteen
thousand five hundred pounds of gold; and later, in Bulgaria, I found a
member of Sandansky’s band, the band which had captured Miss Stone. The
brigand was the most communicative of all these principals, and I got
from him some details which the ransom committee had been sworn not to
divulge, for fear lest punishment should be meted out by the Turks to
the town which played the important part in the delivery of the ransom.

On Mr. Dickenson’s return from Sofia the ransom committee left at once
for the Raslog district. The brigands at this juncture had become
indignant at the long delay in the payment of the money and had
broken off negotiations with the Americans. The first work of the new
committee, then, was to re-establish communication with the insurgents,
and, in order to let the brigands learn that they were on their trail,
the news of the fact was disseminated broadcast throughout Bulgaria and
Macedonia, and also sent to the European press, which the revolutionary
organisation follows closely. This eventually accomplished the desired
effect, but also caused an increase of the number of correspondents on
the trail of the committee.

For nearly a month the committee moved from town to town through the
snow--for it was now winter--faring on the coarsest of food, sleeping
in comfortless khans and undergoing many hardships, but meeting with
no success. Trail after trail drew blank. On one occasion word came
that two frontier smugglers, captured by the Turks, had professed to
having seen Miss Stone and Mrs. Tsilka’s baby strangled, and could
take the committee to the graves! There had been several other reports
that the brigands had wearied of waiting for the ransom and had killed
their captives, but none so detailed as this. The Turkish authorities
at the point from which this evidence came were anxiously petitioned
for further facts. Another examination of the smugglers was made, and
the following day a telegram announced that they were altering their
testimony. ‘The alterations’ completely denied the first statement,
without even an excuse on the part of the smugglers for having
concocted it. It seems the Turks had asked them for information of
Miss Stone, and the frightened smugglers had replied in the Macedonian
manner, according to what they thought their questioners desired to
hear.

After a while the committee broke up, Messrs. Peet and Garguilo
establishing themselves at Djuma-bala and Dr. House going to Bansko,
the most rebellious town of a most rebellious district, ‘to conduct
a series of missionary meetings.’ Dr. House was the only member of
the committee who could speak Bulgarian and converse direct with the
brigands, and his action was severely criticised by the correspondents.
As the journalists saw the case, here was a member of the committee,
the most valuable man because of his knowledge of the brigands’
language, wasting valuable time preaching Christianity to Christians,
just when his every effort should be devoted to the task of freeing
the two unfortunate women and a new-born babe, who were suffering
untold tortures in some sheepfold high in the snow-covered mountains.
But the correspondents were not aware that Dr. House had escaped
their vigilance and that of the Turks, and, under the guidance of an
insurgent disguised as an ordinary peasant, had visited a delegation of
the brigands; nor did they know that further negotiations for paying
the ransom were proceeding along with the revival meetings at Bansko.

After Dr. House had got into touch with the brigands the money was
sent for. Mr. Smyth-Lyte, of the American Consulate, conveyed it from
Constantinople. Two cases, containing fourteen thousand five hundred
gold pieces and weighing four hundred pounds, were delivered to him
from the Ottoman Bank, where the ransom fund had been deposited. The
bullion was sent under proper guard to the railway station, where a
special car was awaiting it. Two kavasses were sent with Mr. Smyth-Lyte
from the bank, and these bodyguards always slept on the money. At
Demir-Hissar, where the train journey ended, Mr. Smyth-Lyte was met
by a Turkish officer, who informed him, in polished French, that he
(the officer) was the humble servant of Monsieur the Consul, for whom
the Padisha had the greatest concern. Monsieur’s commands, he added,
would be fulfilled even to the death of the officer and twenty trusty
troopers who were under his command. The Turk was suave and smartly
dressed, and the trusty troopers non-communicative and very ragged.

A rickety brougham was ready to take the American and the money to
Djuma-bala, a two days’ journey. The two packages of gold were loaded
into the doubtful conveyance, the troopers formed a cordon about it,
and the journey was begun. But the party had hardly got fairly upon the
road when the severe pounding of the gold as the carriage bumped over
the rocks, carried away the floor, and down went the boxes. There was
a halt and an attempt to patch up the vehicle, but it was useless. One
of the pack-horses accompanying the soldiers was unloaded and the gold
strapped on its back; but the packages were of unequal sizes, and would
persist in finding their way under the stomach of the hapless brute. At
last the two kavasses, who were well mounted, were each called upon to
carry a box, and in this way the money was got over the mountains.

More troops fell in as the way became more dangerous, until the number
of the escort reached a hundred. Some of the cavalry men went far
ahead to scout, especially through the great Kresna Pass, where a
handful of men could ambush an army; and others dropped back far behind
the cavalcade to cover the rear. But the journey was made without
mishap, and late at night of the second day, Mr. Smyth-Lyte arrived at
Djuma-bala, met there Messrs. Peet and Garguilo, and delivered over his
precious charge. Early next morning he set off on the return trip with
his kavasses and a guard of half a dozen men.[1]

On the arrival of the money at Djuma there was a general concentration
of correspondents, Turkish soldiers, and spies about it. The committee
was no longer the subject of attention; the money was now the thing.
If they kept close to the money, reasoned the correspondents and the
soldiers, they were bound to be in at the ransom. The correspondents
had no other interest than to get the news, but the soldiers were bent
on getting the brigands. The Turkish Government had no idea of allowing
the bandits to reap their golden harvest.

So it came to be the task of the ransoming committee to separate the
gold from the correspondents and the soldiers, apparently a hopeless
one. Every correspondent present was a man of sharp wits and almost
untiring energy. Each of them had a dragoman always watching the Turks
who surrounded the gold. The Turkish spies kept their eyes on the
soldiers, the committee, and the correspondents alike.

The committee would decide at a moment’s notice to leave a town for a
visit to some mountain village, telling no one; but the soldiers were
always with them, ostensibly guarding them from other brigands, and the
tireless correspondents were on their track before the dust had settled
behind their horses.

After a while Messrs. Peet and Garguilo, bringing the money, came to
Bansko and there settled down with Dr. House, who was still preaching
to the Bulgarians. The committee secured a private house to live in,
and in one room stored the gold. Here a long rest took place. The
correspondents railed against the committee, accusing it of laziness
and love of comfort; but they, too, grew indolent and took their
ease at their khan. At first they, with the Turks, dogged the very
footsteps of the three men of the committee, but after a week of this
they grew weary, for the ransoming committee were wont to walk far
daily ‘for exercise,’ and loiter aimlessly on cold and unattractive
mountain roads about the town. It was not probable that the brigands
would venture very near to a village so heavily garrisoned and
patrolled as was Bansko, and to watch the gold soon became sufficient
for the correspondents. Had any of them put himself to the trouble of
ascertaining what Mr. Garguilo’s habits were when comfortably ensconced
at the Embassy at Constantinople, he would have discovered that any
exertion whatever is distinctly foreign to that gentleman’s daily
routine.

At the end of a month, to the intense surprise of everybody, a
messenger came from Constantinople, travelling in all the state
which had dignified Mr. Smyth-Lyte’s journey. With great ceremony the
two boxes of gold were delivered to him. There was no mistake about
them; they were the same two boxes. They were still bound tight with
iron bands and they still weighed four hundred pounds. One hundred
soldiers escorted them back to Demir-Hissar. There they were carefully
placed aboard another special car, and two kavasses ate and slept on
them until they were safely delivered back to the Ottoman Bank at
Constantinople.

A few days later the committee started on its return to the railway,
with a small escort and only one correspondent. The others considered
that for the present the affair was over.

At one place on the route Mr. Garguilo and Dr. House managed to leave
their escort and the correspondent a little behind. The soldiers and
the correspondents had lost interest now. At a cross-road they stopped
and waited for their trackers. When the correspondent came up Mr.
Garguilo told him that ‘the deed was done.’

On the ground there were several torn envelopes, such as a bank would
use to cover notes. A few days later Miss Stone, Mrs. Tsilka, and the
baby were ‘discovered,’ in a village near Seres. Two of the committee
met and escorted them to Salonica.

It is obvious how the story that the money was paid in paper came to
appear in the English and American press; but the money was not paid in
paper.

When Messrs. Garguilo, Peet, and House took their daily walks about
Bansko they went out with heavy packages of gold concealed under
their coats, and they returned with a like weight--but not of gold!
Each night they removed a certain amount of the money, and on their
return would place the lead in the bullion boxes--the vigilant guards
about the house all unconscious that the gold was going. Finally,
the fourteen thousand five hundred pieces had been delivered to the
brigands, whom the committee-men met on their walks, and four hundred
pounds of lead filled the boxes.

The return of the boxes to Constantinople with all the pomp and
ceremony attendant upon the transport of treasure was not without an
object. It was necessary to keep the fact that the ransom had been
handed over a complete secret until the captives were released, in
order that the Turks should not get on the track of the brigands. A
promise that every effort should be made to throw the Turks off the
trail was demanded by the brigands, as was an injunction of absolute
secrecy concerning also the place and manner in which the money was
paid.

But the time is past when the secret need be kept, and the brigands,
now off duty between revolutions, are spinning this yarn, along with
accounts of other adventures, to admiring friends in Sofia.

The money which the revolutionary organisation secured by this capture
went a long way, I am told, in preparing the uprising of 1903. The
insurgents say that they expected the Government of the United States
to exact from the Sultan the price of this ransom, thereby making the
Padisha pay for the arms used against himself. But this has not been
done.

       *       *       *       *       *

We went to prayer meeting at Samakov at the invitation of the American
missionaries, and took with us several officers of the garrison.
The missionaries prayed fervently and at length that the Macedonian
insurgents might be turned from their wicked ways. The prayer annoyed
one of the officers, and, to my embarrassment, he rose and stalked
out of the chapel. The others agreed with the missionaries--to a very
limited extent--that the measures of the committajis were ‘often too
drastic.’

The entire Bulgarian army is in sympathy with the work of the
insurgents, and not the least enthusiastic with ‘the cause’ is the
little mountain battery at Samakov. It is proud of the short cannon,
carried in three parts on the backs of pack-ponies, and it is proud
of its proficiency at handling them. The entire battery got out one
morning and took us up into the mountains to show us how the guns
worked. The Bulgarian army has been preparing for many years to fight
the Turks.

[Illustration: BULGARIAN INFANTRY.]



CHAPTER IV

SOFIA AND THE BULGARIANS


We drove back to Sofia in a small victoria drawn by four white ponies
with blue beads around their necks and a diamond-shaped spot of henna
on each forehead. Patriotism was running high in the country at
the time, but the Bulgarian colours are red, white, and green. The
decorations were in deference to the ‘Evil Eye.’

We came down the long valley to Sofia and entered the town at twilight,
making our way to the Grand Hôtel de Bulgarie. The shops grew from
peasant establishments where cheese and onions and odd shapes of bread
were spread on open counters, to emporiums where French gloves and silk
hats were on sale. Electric cars became numerous, double lines crossing
each other at one corner. Here a sturdy gendarme raised his hand for us
to stop; he was not as large as a London policeman, but he carried a
sabre at his side. The chief of police explained to me later that the
weapon was not for use, but simply to impress the other peasants, who
would have no respect for the brown uniform alone.

At the head of the main street we came to a solid drab-coloured,
rectangular building, surrounded by high, drab-coloured walls. The
massive iron gates were wide open, and before each paced two sentinels.
This was the palace of the Prince. Just beyond the palace was the hotel.

Several army officers in uniform were standing before the Bulgarie as
we drove up, and one hailed me in this familiar manner:

‘Well, how goes it? I see you are from “the land of the free and the
brave.”’

He knew who I was; strangers are conspicuous in Sofia, and their
presence becomes known quickly. There was to be a military ball at
the officers’ club that evening, and I was invited forthwith. The
‘American,’ as this officer was called, waited at the hotel until I had
dressed, and, after dining with me, took me to the dance.

The scene was very like that at a military hop in any civilised
country. The officers looked martial in their simple Russian uniforms,
and the ladies were tastefully but modestly dressed. There is no wealth
in Bulgaria--not a millionaire in pounds in all the land--and the
officers of the army live on their pay. Many members of the Government
and other state officials were at the ball, wearing ordinary evening
dress with some few decorations.

It is said of the Bulgarians that they dislike foreigners, which is
true to an extent. Their attention to me on this occasion is to be
accounted for in the observation of an historian, that they are ‘a
practical people and their gratitude is chiefly a sense of favours
to come.’ I was the special correspondent of an important newspaper,
and they were anxious that I should sympathise with their cause. They
adopted no surreptitious means of making me do so; they went straight
to the point and demanded my attitude. I intimated that I had come out
to the Balkans to take nobody’s side; I had come ignorant even of the
geography of South-Eastern Europe, and intended to withhold my judgment
until I had seen the question from more sides than one. They granted
that this was fair, and remarked that an honest man who was not a fool
must perforce become a bitter partisan on the Balkan question.

The day before my departure from Sofia (on this first occasion) I
excited the suspicions of a local journalist by declining to declare
my sympathies. The reporter intimated that in his opinion a newspaper
like mine would hardly send on such a mission a man who was quite as
ignorant as I professed to be! They are bold, these Bulgars.

This journalist was my undoing. I did not see what he wrote about
me until I returned to Sofia, a few weeks later, and found myself
completely ignored by the very Bulgars who had been most attentive.
Officers who had toasted me when I started for the frontier would not
return my salute; newspaper men who had interviewed me now slunk by
in the street, and statesmen and politicians barely nodded when I
lifted my hat. This was undoubtedly deliberate; the Bulgarians could
not have forgotten me so soon. I sought my friend the officer who spoke
American, and inquired of him if he knew in what way I had offended his
fellow-countrymen. He did not hesitate a minute. The _Vitcherna Posta_,
he informed me, had shown me up. The paper had discovered that I had
come out to the Balkans pledged to support the Turks, and my pretended
ignorance was simply a bluff. The proprietor of my paper, who would
probably condemn another man for accepting a monetary bribe, had been
bought with a paltry decoration from his Sultanic Majesty. No news but
such as was favourable to the Turk and hostile to the Bulgar would be
published in my paper. In proof of this statement the ‘Vampire Post’
called attention to the fact that I had paid frequent visits to the
Turkish Agency before my late departure.

The young officer did not tell me this in the offensive manner of a
candid friend; he delivered the accusations straight from the shoulder,
and on concluding offered me a native drink, as if I could have no
mitigating argument; he was satisfied of my guilt, but when he was in
America my countrymen had treated him well.

‘The Bulgarians are not very politic,’ I observed; to which the officer
assented and signed to me to drink, implying by a gesture: this
disagreeable explanation is over, but you are my guest.

The Sofia journal had mistaken me; I was not the correspondent of
the paper whose proprietor had been decorated by the Sultan. Nor were
the numerous visits I had paid to the Turkish Commissioner due to any
but legitimate reasons. The Sultan’s representative, indeed, accused
me of making a suspicious number of calls on Bulgarian officials and
of receiving too many revolutionists at my hotel; and when I applied
to him for permission to proceed to Macedonia I found many visits and
much persuasion all of no avail. He had an antidote prepared for me, an
immediate trip to Constantinople, where the diplomatic atmosphere is
sympathetic with the Sultan. Thus, by trying to maintain the friendship
of both Bulgar and Turk, I had incurred, at the very outset of my
mission, the hostility of both.

The Bulgarians are suspicious people. They excuse this trait in
their character by explaining that they lived under the Mohamedan
for five hundred years. This is their favourite excuse for all their
sins. But they have also acquired at least one of the Turk’s good
points; they are dignified and can control themselves; they seldom
lose their tempers and generally act cautiously. They are somewhat
obstinate, which is a Slav characteristic, and this, with a childlike
sensitiveness due to their youth as a nation, makes for pride.

An Englishman who spends any length of time among the Bulgarians
generally likes them. The strong strain of barbarism in the Bulgar
finds sympathy in the breast of the Britisher, and the Bulgar’s
respect for the ultra-civilised chord in the other man also wins its
reward. The Bulgar never approaches an Englishman, who, he knows,
resents approach; he never becomes friendly, fearing a rebuff; and he
maintains for ever a dignity and distance in the presence of the stony
one. Now, the Bulgar doesn’t know it, but this is exactly the way to
gain the esteem of the Englishman, who recognises a diamond in the man
who can cut him.

The Bulgarians are most anxious for the favour of Great Britain. They
aspire to become a great nation and to annex the conquerable territory
to their south. They see that their friends, if they have any, are the
Western Powers, and not Austria and Russia; and ‘their gratitude is
chiefly a sense of favours to come.’

When a voivoda is killed in Macedonia a high mass for the repose of
his soul is celebrated the next Sunday or fête day at the cathedral in
Sofia. Small boys, hired by the revolutionary committee, hold crayon
portraits of the dead heroes, draped in mourning, for the people to see
as they enter church. After mass the congregation gathers in the vast
open space before the cathedral to hear addresses by members of the
revolutionary committee, who sometimes speak from the cathedral steps.
The speeches are generally quite sane, often contain advice to foster
British friendship, but never suggest the release of Russia’s hand.

[Illustration: THE CATHEDRAL, SOFIA.]

[Illustration: THE BRITISH AGENCY, SOFIA: A DEMONSTRATION.]

At the conclusion of one of these meetings I accompanied a crowd
to the British Agency. On their way they passed the Italian Agency,
halted, and gave three cheers. In front of the Lion and the Unicorn the
shouts were loud and prolonged. A silence followed, and they waited
for an acknowledgment. But, of course, his Majesty’s representative
could not acknowledge a demonstration hostile to Turkey, a State with
which the British Government was at peace. The Bulgarians finally
moved off, and made for the residence of the Russian. There, the crowd
seemed undecided; some were for cheering and passing on, others were
bent on seeing M. Bakhmetieff. The Russian, unlike the English agent,
responded promptly, and spoke from his terrace in his own tongue--which
is sufficiently like Bulgarian to be understood by a Bulgarian crowd.
He told them that Bulgaria must bide Russia’s time, that Russia was the
friend of all Slavs, and Russia would eventually come to their aid.

Bulgarians of intelligence and education put little faith in the
promises of the present Russian Government. But Russia holds a fast
grip on the masses of the people; the peasants are grateful for their
deliverance, and many of the politicians are open to bribery.

But the model of the Bulgarians is by no means the great Slav country.
They can boast of having attained in a quarter of a century a liberty
which the Russians have not yet secured. The institutions of Bulgaria
are liberal in principle, and often in practice; the constitution is
democratic. The suffrage is extended to every male adult, as a result
whereof seven Turks represent the Mohamedan districts of the Danube
and Turkish border in the Sobranjé, and sit among the other deputies
without removing their fezzes.

The Bulgarians are anxious to be classed with people of the West, and
they strive hard for civilisation, though a streak of Eastern origin
sometimes displays itself. Once I was asked a significant question by a
boy who had spent several years at an American mission school.

‘The English papers,’ he said, ‘often assert that we are not civilised.
Will you tell me what constitutes a state of civilisation?’

I hesitated.

‘Is it a man’s education?’ he asked. ‘It is not our fault if we have
not education; we are learning as fast as we can. It cannot be that
clothes make the man. It may be the result of your religion; but I
wonder if England is more religious on the whole than Bulgaria is.
We hear of horrible social crimes there that never occur here. And
our politics is no more corrupt than that of America, which sends
us missionaries. We are accused of having national jealousies and
ambitions. England is certainly not free from the former, and if she
is no longer ambitious, it is simply because her aspirations are all
achieved.’

I was unable to define civilisation.

When Bulgaria became independent, Sofia was a very dirty town, without
a street paved with anything but cobble stones, and with but one house
of any pretensions, the Turkish ‘konak.’ To-day, besides a palace and
a parliamentary building, there are a national bank, a post office,
a military academy, several vast barracks, and many other Government
buildings. There are parks and public gardens where bands play on
summer evenings; new streets and avenues have been laid out, and some
of the narrow ones of Turkish times have been widened; substantial
shops and hotels mark the business quarter, and modern homes the
avenues. Still, Sofia reminds one of a lanky girl whose spindle shanks
and lean arms have outgrown her pinafore. The dwellings, by setting far
apart, try to reach out the long new avenues and cover the gawky child,
but in places she is absolutely bare.

One day I drove out along one of the avenues to call on a Cabinet
Minister. The coachman drew up at a modest cottage, whose greatest
charm was an ample garden. I repeated the name of the Minister, and
looked dubiously at the coachman.

‘Touka, touka’ (‘here, here’), he said, so I entered.

A little girl, the Minister’s daughter, responded to my rap and invited
me in. The servant was cooking.

Not far from here were the humble homes of two painters and a sculptor,
upon whom I often called. They were instructors at the National
Institute of Art, of which Ivan Markvitchka is the head.

But the streets of Sofia have not altogether parted with the past;
there are many touches of the old Turkish times left. Many of the
shops are dark, low, and dingy, though the shopkeepers no longer block
the pavements with their wares and sit cross-legged among them. An
ancient Turkish bath and an old mosque stand side by side in front
of the market place on the principal trading corner. The bath is not
attractive in appearance, but the water is excellent--brought by
pipe from a boiling mineral spring in the mountains a few kilometres
distant. The place is closed to the public on Mondays, when the
garrison of Sofia is scrubbed. Detachments of a hundred men arrive
hourly, each with a towel and a bar of brown soap; three-quarters of an
hour later they are turned out clean.

Compulsory service in the army has been a great training to the
Bulgarian peasants. The natives of Macedonia bathe as they marry, only
once or twice in a lifetime. A child is not washed when it is born for
fear of its catching cold, nor when it is baptized, for oil is used at
this ceremony.

An open letter from a Greek priest to the American missionaries
concerning the use of oil instead of water at the baptismal office,
demonstrates the Macedonian prejudice against water--except for
internal use. The priest defended the use of oil on the score that, as
a result of oiled christening, the Macedonian peasants, though they
never wash, carry with them no foul odour, as do peasants baptized with
water.

[Illustration: A VIEW OF SOFIA: VITOSH IN THE BACKGROUND.]

Behind the mosque and the bath is an open space which resembles an
empty lot, except on Fridays. Friday is both the sabbath of the
Turks and the market day of the Bulgars, but the police are never
called upon to prevent a clash between the two. Once a week the capital
is crowded with peasants assembled from every village within a radius
of twenty kilometres. Fellow-residents of the same broad, sunny plain
in which Sofia lies come trooping in, clad in lighter clothes than
those worn by the mountain men from Vitosh. They begin to gather on
Thursday evening, and long before the next day breaks the space is
covered with sacks of corn, strings of onions, bunches of chickens,
baskets of eggs, buckets of cheese, bolts of homespun cloth, bleating
lambs, and squealing pigs.

The peasants, young and old, men and women, walk to market. Only pigs
and babies are carried. The carts and the pack-animals are too heavily
laden to carry their owners; and, besides, every individual afoot
can carry something more. One sympathises with a pretty girl dressed
in holiday costume, a red rose in her hair, carrying a pig over one
shoulder, over the other a dozen chickens strung up by the feet. One
sympathises with the pig and the fowls also, for these poor things have
been carried with their heads hanging for probably three hours. The pig
is slung by one or both hind legs, with a lash tied so tightly that
it entirely stops the circulation, and may cut through the flesh to
the bone. The girls always laugh on their way to market, and the pigs
always cry. Of course the pigs are laid down now and again along the
route, when the happy girls take a rest, but they arrive in Sofia with
their eyes popping out of the sockets. These pigs which the girls carry
are little pigs, but huge hogs are hung in the same manner at the sides
of laden ponies.

On various occasions I pointed out this wanton cruelty to prominent
Bulgarians whom I knew, and generally got some reply about the five
hundred years the peasants had spent under the Turks. Where was the boy
who asked me what the English word civilised meant?

The Bulgarians are careful of their draught animals. This, perhaps,
they have learned in their term of subjection to the Mohamedan. It
is a common sight in summer to see a girl in holiday attire, with
a long-handled dipper throwing water from a puddle on to the backs
of sweltering buffaloes as they move slowly past, dragging a heavy,
creaking cart. In the winter each buffalo has his blanket.

The peasant girl weaves the cloth for her own clothes, spins the
threads on her long marches to town, and saves her earnings for brass
belt-buckles, bracelets, and other ornaments. Her bracelets often
weigh over a pound, and her belt-buckle sometimes measures ten inches
across. Her hair is far below her waist, but it generally changes in
both texture and colour considerably above. The lower portion resembles
horsehair. When such an appendage is spliced on to the maiden’s own
locks, the proud possessor spends hours making the combination into a
score of thin plaits, which she spreads out across her shoulders and
loops together at the end.

[Illustration: ON THE MARKET PLACE, SOFIA.]

The bazaars of other capitals in the Near East are filled with cheap
German and Austrian imitations of native jewellery and dress, but Sofia
is freer from this pollution.

There are few Jews in Bulgaria as compared with the number in the
border State of Rumania; the Jews cannot thrive on the close-fisted
Bulgars. The Jews who live among them are fairer in business
transactions than their co-religionists anywhere else in the Balkans.
I had an interesting experience with an old Israelite one day. He was
selling key-rings, among other trinkets, on the market place, and I
stopped and took one. I held up a franc by way of asking the price,
and he said, ‘Franc,’ and held up one finger. The ring was a common
affair and not worth so much, but I needed one badly, and, being unable
to argue over the price, I gave up the franc and proceeded to adjust
my keys to the ring. The old Jew was embarrassed. He had clearly
expected me to bargain with him. He looked at the franc and then at
me, undecided whether to do the honest thing or pocket the piece. As I
started away he touched me on the arm, drew a greasy old purse from a
deep pocket in a baggy pair of trousers, and finding a fifty-centime
piece, pressed it upon me.

But while the Jew who has elected to remain among the Bulgars
has had to surrender some of his principles of gold-getting, the
Bulgar at horse-trading is a brother of the world fraternity of
stock-dealers. One bright market day, when the streets were crowded
with peasants and the European garb was almost obliterated, I went with
a fellow-correspondent to buy a horse. We were not long in finding a
satisfactory animal, but the bargaining was a tedious process. The
owner of the horse was a simple old peasant, but he was assisted in the
deal by the mayor of his village, an independent person of some thirty
years, dressed like the other in homespuns and sheepskins.

The old peasant gripped the bridle of his horse as if someone were
trying to rob him of the animal, and followed the very words of the
deal as they passed from one man to the other. After a long wrangle a
price was finally agreed upon, and the money was produced in the form
of Bulgarian bank-notes.

A gleam of joy came over the old man’s face when the currency was first
laid in his hands, but it died away almost instantly, giving place to
one of hopeless bewilderment; he could not count so much money. He
asked my friend if he was not swindling him, and then he asked the
mayor, and again and again they each counted the notes over. It was
pitiable. He said he had received many pieces of paper from Turkish
‘effendi,’ and they were never worth anything (the Turkish army has a
way of giving paper promises for goods and labour).

‘You are no longer a Turkish subject,’ said the mayor.

He finally loosened his grip on the bridle, but as he delivered over
the animal a last pang of fear struck his heart, and he turned hastily
about in search of something. Spying me at a little distance off, he
came shuffling towards me as fast as his old legs would carry him. I
had left the scene and gone over to inspect the buffaloes lying quietly
covered with their masters’ coats of goats’ hair. The old peasant made
his way among the beasts to where I was, and thrust the roll of bills
at me, pleading something in Bulgarian. The mayor shouted to him that I
did not understand Bulgarian; but I understood the old man, and tried
to put his mind at ease as to whether he possessed three hundred good
gold francs.

The older peasants of Bulgaria are nearly all illiterate, but State
schools teach the younger generations to read and write. Many of the
older inhabitants understand the Turkish language; the younger Bulgars
are learning French.

They are building a national opera-house in Sofia, and strangers are
always taken to see the work. At present there is only one playhouse
in the town, a Turkish theatre. One evening I was invited by Boris
Sarafoff, the Macedonian leader, to be one of a box party to witness a
performance at this place. It was during the war in the Far East, and
the other guests of the insurgent were a Japanese and a Russian who
happened to be in Sofia at the time. Gathered from the four corners of
the earth, it was natural that no two of us thoroughly agreed on any
one point, but each was tolerant of the others. As for Sarafoff, more
anon; here, ‘the play’s the thing.’

Our box cost the sum of five francs; it was the best in the house with
the exception of the royal box. There were seats to be had for twenty
and standing room for ten centimes. The building was a rough wooden
barn, rather rickety, whitewashed inside. From the single gallery hung
hand-painted works of art only equalled by the mural decorations at
Rilo. The pictures were grotesque and ludicrous. They portrayed the
absurdities of the Turk, his peculiar way of doing things, and his
chronic inclination to rest. The band, which vied with the pictures
in keeping early arrivals in good humour until the curtain rose,
was composed of a fair young lady who beat the drum, a bald bass
violinist, a stout matron who blew the cornet, and two or three normal
musicians--all led by a youth of not more than fifteen. The work of
the band, however, was more artistic than that of the painter, which
was well for it, because the music was not included in the price of
admission. When the play began the beauty who beat the drum left her
instrument to pass a plate among the audience in the same manner that a
collection is taken in church. But this was not the only collection to
be made. Between the acts the actresses appeared by turns in the house.
After the band the leading lady had first draught on the audience. The
lady who simply walked on got the last pull--and got what she deserved.

The plays presented at the Turkish theatre are all comedies. The
language employed is Turkish; the principal characters are Turks;
the actors are Armenians. The leading man is a splendid actor. His
impersonation of a Turkish pasha, with all that functionary’s suspicion
and corruption, was done with such extravagance, and yet such delicacy,
that the Jap, the Russian, and myself, as well as Sarafoff, were highly
amused.

The Turk is the subject of much of the Bulgarian’s humour as well as
his wrath. He is to the Bulgar very much what the Irishman is to the
Englishman, the funny as well as the exasperating man. The Bulgarian
peasants are usually on the best of terms with the Turks in their land.
They generally treat them with fairness and consideration. But on
occasions insurgent bands which have met with defeat across the border
have avenged themselves on Mohamedans in Bulgaria. But such slaughters
happen with less and less frequency, and on an ever-diminishing scale.
Except for individual slaughters, none has taken place for more than
ten years. The Government is jealous of its case against the Turk, and
has been most zealous in its efforts to prevent murders of Mohamedans
ever since the day Prince Alexander, on ascending the new throne,
visited the mosque of Sofia in token of respect for the religion of his
Turkish subjects. On the whole, the Mohamedan in Bulgaria is better off
than his brother in Turkey, who, except that he holds the position of
the man with the gun, suffers under the Ottoman rule almost or quite
as much as does the Christian. Nevertheless, there is a continuous
exodus from Bulgaria of Turks and Pomaks (Bulgarians converted to
Mohamedanism) to the land where the Mohamedan rules. And when these
Turks pack their goods and chattels and start to trek, they do not stop
until they have passed beyond the Bosphorus. They seem to think--as
many men have thought for many years--that the day of Turkish power in
Europe will soon be past.

The Prince of Bulgaria is a shrewd monarch, but he is not much loved.
There are parties which think Prince Ferdinand too subservient to the
Russian Government, and parties which think him too independent of the
Czar; parties which think him ambitious, and say that he would be a
king, and still others which say he cares too little for the man in
the sheepskin coat to risk his princely crown in a military venture.
I went down, by special invitation, on a private train, to see his
Highness cut the ribbon that stretched across the newly finished port
of Bourgas. After the cannon had signalled the fact that the harbour
was open to the commerce of the world, Prince Ferdinand turned from
the end of the pier and strode back towards the shore, shaking hands
and chatting a moment, with, as I thought, everybody. When he came
to me I extended my hand as I would to Mr. Roosevelt, but the Prince
stood still and fixed me with a withering glare. Another correspondent
acquainted with us both came to the rescue and presented me to the
Prince. The Prince mustered his English, which he said he had not
employed for many a year, and conversed with me in my own tongue for
quite five minutes. But he did not apologise for his rudeness.



CHAPTER V

CONSTANTINOPLE AND THE TURKS


The Count could claim no country. Both Russia and Bulgaria denied him;
and the man without a passport is contraband in Turkey. My pockets
were full of smaller articles of the forbidden class, and my shirt was
packed like a life-preserver. Austrian military maps and weighty books
on the Balkans, a Colt’s and cartridges, and many rolls of kodak film,
which might be taken for sticks of dynamite--these things puffed up my
person.

The Customs inspectors entered the train at Mustafa Pasha, and,
perceiving my plight, subjected the baggage to a scandalous search.
They turned out every bag, ran their hands into the shoes, undid the
balls of socks, and even lifted the linings of an extra hat; but all
they found was a Bulgarian art journal containing a few pictures. As
I replaced my mauled garments one of these fiends poked his fezzed
head into my compartment again. He handed back the Bulgarian journal,
saying, with approval, ‘Allemand, monsieur.’ The magazine was printed
in German.

Strange things are contraband in Turkey--salt, because there is
monopoly in the land; firearms, though they are sold openly in the
streets; novels such as the ‘Swiss Family Robinson,’ because the
dog is named Turk; dictionaries containing the words ‘elder’ and
‘brother,’ as Abdul Hamid usurped the throne from his elder brother;
and works of chemistry containing the term H_{2}O, which could but mean
Hamid-Second-Zero.

Another baggage inspection takes place at Constantinople, but this is
only for the purpose of extorting backsheesh. I paid a mijidieh to
the chief inspector, claimed to be German, and took my bags through
unopened.

The approach to Constantinople by train is over a long, marshy plain.
Occasional camel caravans lumber along the road beside the tracks,
and cranes, pelicans, and storks rise majestically and sail away as
the train passes. The outskirts of Constantinople are repulsive. The
train passes down a narrow street between rows of miserable dwellings,
many no larger than drapers’ boxes, roofed with flattened petroleum
tins; and at the base of the decaying walls of the city, excavations,
closed with more petroleum tins, form the kennels of indolent gypsies.
The entrance to Constantinople by train is not attractive. To see its
glories one must come up the Bosphorus.

Constantinople is almost an antithesis of Sofia. One is a country
town, small and new; the other is an Imperial city, great and old,
with palaces and paupers, masters and slaves, and squalid barbaric
splendour. It is a world capital, whereto all Christian countries send
their Ministers, to vie with each other for the favours of an Asiatic
monarch who rules by their discord. It is a place where many races
meet and morals fleet. ‘No city in the world, not even Rome, has more
personality.’

With the Golden Horn and the Sweet Waters of Asia at her feet, with
her mighty mosques and towering minarets, marble palaces and treasure
stores, Constantinople would seem a glorious city. But this is not the
impression one obtains.

Within the city, to the unaccustomed eye, the horrible sights eclipse
all others. The place is foul, and suffering, hungry creatures, human
and animal, are pitiable to behold. The streets, except in front of the
palaces and embassies, are seldom cleaned, and if one ventures out of
doors on wet days he must wade through sloughs of filth.

Beggars, purposely maimed, and with ‘incurable diseases, including
laziness,’ beset one on every side; mangy, starving dogs, lying on the
pavements, are so numerous that pedestrians must take the roadway; and
pitiable beasts of burden labour painfully along under fearful burdens.

A Turk, in his way, is most humane towards animals, and it is the Jews
and the Christians who treat them badly. According to Western ideas, it
would be a kindness to put the unhappy dogs of the imperial city out of
existence; but the Turk reasons differently--what Allah has given life
should live at Allah’s will.

[Illustration: DOGS OCCUPY THE PAVEMENT; PEOPLE WALK IN THE STREETS.]

[Illustration: THE TURKISH BARBERSHOP.]

In a street in Constantinople one day, I saw a miserable puppy rolled
over by a carriage. Its hips were crushed, and it seemed to suffer
agony. I went to a drug store near by and fetched some chloroform,
but on attempting to administer it, a powerful _hoja_, who evidently
knew what it was, put his hands on my shoulders and gently thrust me
back. He informed some of the bystanders of my intention, and they
lifted their hands and pointed towards heaven. They recognised me as a
foreigner. Had I been a native non-Moslem they would not have been so
gentle. If a native Christian kills a dog he is sent to prison--unless
he subscribes a sufficient bribe to the court’s revenue.

Very often the Mohamedan’s charity takes the form of a distribution
of food to the dogs, and the narrow streets are sometimes blocked
by an enormous pack catching bits of bread from the hand of some
penance-maker. But the garbage from the houses is the only certain
source of subsistence that the dogs have. They know to a minute the
time of day each family throws out its refuse, and if you pass along
the streets in the early morning you can mark the houses which have not
yet rendered up their daily quota by the canine crew waiting before the
door.

The dogs of Turkey are more like wolves in appearance than domestic
animals, but they are perfectly harmless. They rarely find
sufficient food, and seldom taste meat, which may account for their
gentleness--but their want of proper nourishment has no effect upon
their lungs. Between them and the firemen night is made hideous in
Constantinople. As certain as the setting of the sun one’s slumbers
will be disturbed before the dawn by a most unearthly screeching--even
worse than that of the London firemen--accompanied by the high-pitched
yelps of countless dogs.

The Turkish fire department is a curious institution. Modern machinery
cannot be brought into Turkey except by bribing the Custom-house. As
it profits officers of the Government nothing to bribe themselves, the
municipal fire brigade is still equipped with the primitive hand-pump.
Electricity, like steam, is also barred, and the alarm system is
distinctly original and truly alarming. From the ancient tower of
Galata and from the Seraskier Tower in Stamboul, watchmen keep a
look-out for fires. When one is discovered half a dozen swift runners
grab long, sharp spears, descend several hundred ruined stone steps
through the darkness slowly with the aid of a tallow taper, dart out
into the crowded streets, and scatter in various directions, shouting
at the tops of their voices and stabbing dogs. They make a tour of the
mosques, from the minarets of which the volunteer firemen are called
to duty. Meanwhile guns have begun to boom on the Bosphorus, and in a
short time the streets are swarming with frenzied creatures, dashing
along like maniacs, shrieking hideously, and also prodding dogs out of
their way.

It is not an uncommon sight to see these strange firemen come down the
streets from a five-mile run with nothing on but a pair of pants,
or perhaps a skirted vest--sometimes only a fez; and then you will
see others dressed like soldiers marching in a leisurely and orderly
manner. The energetic individuals are the volunteers; the others are
members of the regular ‘paid’ fire department.

The ambition of every chief of volunteers worthy of the name is to
bring his brigade to the scene of the conflagration first, as the
reward of the first arrivals is the choice of the plunder. Should he
find there is no loot to be had, he searches out the owner and bargains
with him while his band prepares to pump--if a satisfactory price can
be agreed upon. This work must be done hurriedly, of course; not that
there is any danger of the ‘paid’ brigade arriving before the fire is
out, but other volunteers are pouring in; competition grows rifer, and
rows and fights with rival crews more and more furious. Finally, the
‘paid’ department does arrive, and the volunteers are driven from the
ruins like hungry wolves from a carcass. The ‘paid’ firemen will accept
no gratuities; they are soldiers of the Sultan, and have many months’
salary due to them.

Many regiments of the garrison of Constantinople, however, are well
paid, for they constitute a part of that vast organisation maintained
by Abdul Hamid for the express purpose of his own safety. This, indeed,
seems to be the first purpose of the whole Turkish Government--the
safety of the Sultan, for which Mohamedan and Christian of the
Imperial Ottoman Empire suffer alike. The difference in the attitude
of the ‘infidel’ and that of the ‘faithful’ is simply that one resents
the needless hardships inflicted upon him, whereas the other sits and
suffers, resigned to the will of Allah. The word ‘Islam’ means ‘I am
resigned.’ The Sultan is recognised as Mohamed’s vicegerent on earth,
and to his will all faithful followers bow.

The Padisha, however, does not appear to accept the doctrine of
fatalism with the same good grace as do the faithful of his Mohamedan
subjects. Extraordinary precautions are taken for his safety. At a
_Selamlik_, or public visit to a mosque for prayer, which I attended,
Abdul, who professes to the Mohamedan belief that no bullet could
pierce his flesh until the moment prescribed in the Great Book, came
to worship surrounded by a bodyguard so solid that the ball of a
modern rifle could not have reached him through it. His escort arrived
running, massed about his victoria, the hood of which is said to be
of steel. In former years foreign guests, for whom Ambassadors and
Ministers would vouch, were permitted, in a pavilion crowded with
detectives, to see this ceremony. But since the recent explosion of
an infernal machine in the neighbourhood during a _Selamlik_, this
privilege has been abolished. An army corps, gathered from every part
of the variegated empire, surrounded the palace.

[Illustration: CONSTANTINOPLE: MOSQUE OF YÉNI-DJAMI ON THE BOSPHORUS.]

Constantinople is full of stories about precautions within the
walls of Yildiz Kiosk. It is said that the Sultan tests his meals on
his servants before he touches them himself, and, for obvious reasons,
his favourite dish is _œufs à la coque_. A tale from his harem gives
it that, one day when his nerves were unusually unstrung, he drew his
revolver and with his own hand shot a wife who caused his suspicion
by a sudden change of posture. It is told that an American lady who
pointed out to the Sultan a way by which he could be assassinated
received a handsome present, and it is well known that there is an army
of spies employed solely to run down plots against the Sultan’s life.
These unprincipled servants often find conspiracies where they do not
exist, often only in order to display to their master their activity,
and again for the rich rewards such ‘discoveries’ bring.

Once in Paris I met a Greek who had served for two years as a private
secretary at Yildiz. Greeks and other non-Moslems occupy many posts in
the Sultan’s service where cleverness and an understanding of European
character are imperative. This particular Greek incurred the Sultan’s
suspicions, and was clever enough to escape from Constantinople. I was
indeed glad to get the opportunity to talk with a man who had been of
the Sultan’s household, and many of the tales I had heard, which needed
proof, I repeated to him. He said they were mostly true--in principle.
He did not believe that the Sultan had faith in one word of the Koran;
certainly he was no fatalist. The Greek went on to say that while the
Sultan is crazed on the one point of plots against his life, he is
remarkably clever at handling men. He seems to have an uncanny power
over men. When they first meet him they are surprised at his sanity
and his gentility, which is a good beginning; and he gradually weaves
his web of influence about old and tried ambassadors. The only people
who have been thoroughly equal to him are the Russians; they play his
own game. They have played on his weak point and made a treaty with
him--according to this gentleman--guaranteeing his throne to him for
the rest of his life in return for certain privileges which allow them
to take inventory of his estate. ‘Après moi, le déluge!’ But the Sultan
is not quite all of his Government, and for the others the entire
indemnity for the war of 1878, as it is paid in annual instalments, is
set aside--so my informant says--for distribution at Constantinople.
The Palace and the Porte probably receive from Russia retaining fees
larger than their salaries.

I happened to be in Constantinople again at a time when the Russians
were meeting with defeat in Manchuria. The town was much interested
in the contest, and the Turk in the street, who is ignorant, was
rejoicing in his dignified way at the reverses of his country’s enemy.
But suddenly the Russians turned the tables and won several astounding
victories over the Japanese, and the Moslems were unhappy. This is
how it happened. ‘The Palace’ had discovered that the sensibilities
of the Russian representatives in Turkey were being tried severely by
the reports of their defeats in the Far East, and that individual of
marvellous imagination, the Turkish censor, was put to work to lighten
their distress, which he did most generously.

According to the press of Constantinople all is ever serene throughout
the imperial Ottoman dominions, everybody is always lauding the
Padisha and praying for the safety of his good and gracious Majesty.
Persons who are interested in the provinces subscribe to European
papers, and have them brought in by the foreign posts. During my first
stay at Constantinople thousands of troops were being shipped to
Salonica daily, but as this fact would hardly accord with the sublime
declarations of the Ottoman newspaper, they were embarked only after
nightfall, when the inhabitants are mostly behind barred doors.

I presented a letter from the Turkish Commissioner at Sofia to a
certain Turkish Minister, whose name I must not mention, and was
ushered into his presence alone. The letter, I was told, recommended me
highly as ‘a friend of the Turks,’ though I protested my neutrality;
and I understood that I would receive good treatment at the hands of
the officials and get all the news. What I wanted was permission to
cross Macedonia beyond the railway.

‘Why do you desire to make this trip?’ asked the Turk. ‘It is
dangerous, and the accommodations are very poor. If you will remain
here you may come to me daily and I will tell you the truth about
everything that is going on in the country.’

Of course I declined this.

The Turk puffed at his cigarette and sipped his coffee, thinking for a
few minutes; then he turned and regarded me. Until then I had thought I
had an honest face.

‘You can make thousands and thousands of francs out of the Turks,’ said
the Minister.

I pretended not to take him.

‘Thousands and thousands of francs!’ he repeated impressively.

‘And what would I have to do?’ I asked.

‘Write the truth,’ the Turk replied softly.

‘It is not necessary to pay me to do that,’ I responded.

His Excellency said that a telegram would be sent to the Vali of
Salonica instructing him to permit me to go where I would. A _teskeré_
would be issued to me here viséd for Salonica. I thanked the Turk, but
I felt that I should not be allowed to go very far.

During the course of my interview at the Sublime Porte I received a
cup of delightful coffee, but it was the most expensive cup of coffee
I ever drank. I had not provided myself with sufficient small change
for a visit to the Turkish Government building. On my departure after
the interview his attendants were lined up in the corridor like the
servants at a French hotel. I was stripped of my silver and copper, and
when I had given my last _metaleek_[2] I hurried out of the door.
But, unfortunately, I did not take a carriage, and I had hardly got a
hundred yards down the street when a little old Turk, who proved to
be the man who had given me the coffee, touched me on the arm, and
said, ‘Effendi, backsheesh.’ This coffee-man followed me a quarter
of a mile further to the nearest shop, where I changed a lira and
gave him his tip. My dragoman explained that unless I distributed
backsheesh liberally the Minister would never be in to me again, and,
thinking perhaps some day I might have to make another call upon him, I
‘squared’ myself with his doormen.

[Illustration: A HAMMAL AND A LOAD OF PETROLEUM TINS.]

Unfortunately, on each occasion that I have made the journey from
Constantinople to Salonica I have been pressed for time, and could not
await a steamer to take me through the Dardanelles. The train makes the
trip three times a week, leaving Constantinople at night.

About twelve o’clock the first night out a Turkish officer opened
the door of my compartment, which I had had to myself up to this
time, and entered with a beaming smile and a grand salaam. This was
extraordinary; the Turks are generally more dignified or else more
subtle. My travelling companion, I saw by his attire, was a pasha.

There was not the detachment of troops usually arrayed at the station
to do honour to a general about to start on a journey, and three
young officers, very likely his adjutants, who were the only friends
to see him off, seemed unnecessarily depressed. But the general had
mirth enough for the company, and up to the moment the train left he
spun yarns and cracked jokes to the torture of the others, who tried
loyally to affect amusement. When the third bell sounded for the train
to resume its progress the pasha shook hands warmly with his young
friends through the window; they pressed their cheeks to his in Turkish
fashion, then gave him the low Turkish salute due to his rank. The old
man turned to me with a smile, and asked by a sign whether I would have
the window closed. I shrugged my shoulders, meaning ‘suit yourself,’
and asked my companion if he could speak French. ‘Turk,’ he replied,
meaning only Turkish. I cannot describe exactly how we made each other
understand, but before we lay down to sleep I had told him I was an
American correspondent, and had learned that his medals were in token
of distinguished services in the Russo-Turkish war and elsewhere, and
that his destination was Tripoli, which means exile.

When I said, ‘Padisha?’ with a questioning look, he signified by a
benign glance upward and a lift of two fingers to his lips that not a
doubt must be entertained as to the Sultan’s goodness. After a moment
he placed the Sultan in a spot and drew a circle about him. ‘Espion,’
he said, pointing to the circle, and turned up his nose.

In the morning the pasha’s orderly brought him a fresh water-melon,
which he broke in two, giving the larger portion to me. At Dede-Aghatch
he gave me a cordial hand-shake, and directed me to a place for
breakfast; then he stepped into a carriage, which was waiting for him,
to take him to the ship in which he was to set sail to his doom.

In covering this same route a few months later our train passed a
‘special’ stopped on a ‘siding.’ Aboard it was a staff of officers,
their orderlies and servants. Sitting on the bench in the station yard,
complacently sipping coffee, I recognised the Vali of Monastir. He,
too, was now billeted for exile.

Among the many demands of the Russians at the assassination of their
Consul at Monastir was the displacement of this Vali. The Sultan
will comply with any demands the Russians make in earnest, but he
has certain punishments which his subjects seek to win. To be exiled
without the privilege of seeing Constantinople ‘for the last time’ is
disgrace, but to be condemned _via_ an audience with the Sultan spells
‘Thou good and faithful servant,’ and brings a substantial post in
Asia, away from the interference of ‘infidel’ Powers and carrying with
it a lordly pension.



CHAPTER VI

SALONICA AND THE JEWS


When ‘the voyager descends upon’ the Grand Hôtel d’Angleterre at
Salonica, his attention is first drawn to the regulations as to the
manner in which he shall conduct himself during his sojourn at the
grand hotel. These regulations are printed in gaudy letters in Turkish,
in Greek, and in French, and hang in gilded frames on the walls of each
bedroom in the most conspicuous place. A literal translation from the
French is in part as follows:

  1. Messieurs the voyagers who descend upon the hotel are requested to
  hand over to the management any money or articles of value they may
  have.

  2. Those who have no baggage must pay every day, whereas those who
  have it may only do so once a week.

  3. Political discussion and playing musical instruments are
  forbidden, also all noisy conversations.

  4. It is permitted neither to play at cards nor at any other game of
  hazard.

  5. Children of families and their servants should not walk about the
  rooms.

  6. It is prohibited to present oneself outside one’s room in a
  dressing-gown or other negligent costume.

  9. Coffee, tea, and other culinary preparations may not be prepared
  in the rooms or procured from outside, as the hotel furnishes
  everything one wants.

  10. Voyagers to take their repast descend to the dining-room, with
  the exception of invalids, who may do so in their rooms.

  11. A double-bedded room pays double for itself, save the case where
  the voyager declares that one bed may be let to another person. It
  is, however, forbidden to sleep on the floor.

I should explain that no insult is meant to the French on the part
of the hotel management by employing their language as one of the
mediums of instructing its many-tongued guests in proper deportment.
The management realises that of all Europeans Germans are most in need
of lessons in deportment; but the hotel, for some reason, is rarely
afflicted with Germans, and French is understood by all the people
of the Near East of the class that patronise a hostelry like the
d’Angleterre.

There are several hotels in Salonica which will not permit guests to
sleep on the floor.

Salonica is the metropolis of Macedonia, and an important commercial
centre. It is the Thessalonica of old, built by Cassander on the
site of ancient Therma, and named by him after his wife, a sister of
Alexander the Great. It is older than Constantinople, and has a history
which just falls short of being great. Xerxes and his hosts camped on
the plains between Therma and the Axius, now the Vardar, and the view
of Mount Olympus across the bay inspired him to explore the course
of the Peneus; and a short time before the Peloponnesian War the
Athenians occupied Therma.

Thessalonica fell into the hands of the Romans, became the chief city
on the Via Egnatia, and disseminated Christianity among many of the
Slavs, Bulgarians, and other peoples who came down from the north and
the east.

It became a free city and then a part of the Byzantine Empire, and was
finally sold by a Greek emperor to the Venetians, from whom it was
captured in 1430 by the Turks.

High up in the Turkish quarter of Salonica--which rises in a long slope
and then in steps from the sea--is a queer little Greek monastery
dating back unknown centuries. It was there when the Turks came; for
history records that the monks within its walls were treacherous to
their fellow-Christians and sold the city to the Mohamedans. Under the
courtyard of the monastery runs the aqueduct which supplies Salonica
with water from the mountains, and supplied Thessalonica five hundred
years ago. It was access to this, a certain means of reducing the city,
that the monks of Chaoush (such is the name of the monastery) bartered
when the Mohamedans besieged Thessalonica, for certain privileges to
be granted after the conquest. The Turks have kept their bargain to
this day, but Chaoush has not flourished. Time has moved the Christian
quarter down to the sea, and the monastery is surrounded to-day by
houses with latticed windows.

Once, when searching for this monastery with a fellow-countryman who
conducted the mission at Salonica, I happened to open by mistake the
gate of a Turkish yard. There was a rapid covering of faces by an
amazed assembly of females. Discovering our error, we closed the gate
and moved off; but veiled women, stones, and innuendoes were soon upon
our heels, and our retreat in order shortly became an utter rout.
Happily the unfortunate error occurred at an hour of the day when there
were no husbands at home, and the women themselves were not in attire
to follow us far.

I loved to ramble up through the Turkish quarter of Salonica where
the native ‘infidel’ fears to tread. There is a charm about using
the liberty one’s country commands. I generally stopped at a Turkish
café on the route, and sat out in the narrow street on a stool with
a cup of coffee on another before me, the subject of curious regard
by mollahs and hojas in their long cloaks, and other Mohamedans of
little work. Once at one of these cafés, with an English boy whom I
picked up at Salonica for interpreter, I got into conversation with
a harmless-looking Turk on the subject of wars and the Powers; and I
learned from him that the Moslems are going to rise again, and will not
stop in their conquests until they have subdued the world.

‘Abdul Hamid is a great prophet, infallible and invincible,’ said the
Turk.

He pointed to three old warships in the harbour (whose machinery had
been sold to a second-hand junk dealer years ago) as specimens of the
means with which the work was to be accomplished; and it was useless to
tell him that even the British navy was superior to that of his Sultan.
He pitied me for my exceeding ignorance of history, because I thought
the Turks had been defeated in the field several times; they had never
been defeated!

His culminating remark had a touch of pathos in it. He was a
hungry-looking individual himself, and was glad to get the two
piastres we gave him for showing us the way to the wall. ‘The hosts of
the Padisha,’ he said, quoting, I judge, some mollah, ‘are the most
powerful force in the world; but unfortunately they have not enough to
eat.’

This ignorance is due to the teachings of the mollahs, from whom the
young Turks derive, directly or indirectly, all of their knowledge.
While I was in Salonica an order came from Constantinople to purge the
library in the military school, and as a result all reading books,
including modern histories which dealt with the decline of the Turkish
Empire, were destroyed.

[Illustration: THE WALL AND BEYOND, SALONICA.]

We often went up to the Turkish quarter, but never learned the road to
the gate. But with a few words of Turkish, which one must naturally
pick up, and many signs, we could generally manage to get coffee and
directions. We always halted at the gates, and, supplied with stools
by the _café-ji_ there, sat and rested for half an hour, watching
the children come to the fountain with jugs for water, the women
slip noiselessly by, covering their faces with special care at spying
us, and the men pass through the eye of the needle hunched up on
under-sized asses. Truly a Biblical scene, though the characters were
Mohamedans.

There is a great dignity about the ruling race, the man for whom all
others step aside, who drinks first at the fountain and removes his fez
nowhere. He is not loud or voluble, and seldom loses his temper. When
he is provoked he does not squabble, but strikes.

The Christian natives of Salonica are generous in warning one of
dangers outside the walls, of brigands and revolutionists; but we
often strolled through the gates and over to the barren hills beyond,
encountering Turks, Albanians, and Bulgarians, perhaps insurgents,
without mishap.

The hills were especially attractive in the afternoon, cooler than the
closed-in bay below, and pervaded with a quiet in delightful relief
from the ceaseless babble of swarming Levantine tradesmen down in the
town. At sunset hour we found a favourite spot on the edge of a steep
declivity with only a broad expanse of plain between us and the purple
mountains of Thessaly. The sun dropped into a dip in these and left the
sky for an hour rich in Oriental colouring flaming from behind. To the
south a stern bit of the old wall on the precipitous corner of a rock
was silhouetted, and we could never tell whether we preferred this in
or out of the picture. That is a true test of quality, when either
of two things is preferred as it happens to be at hand; generally the
unpossessed is the desired.

Tourists do not come to Macedonia, but if they did they would find
a show that no other part of Europe can produce. Not only is the
comic-opera stage outdone in characters, in costumes, and in complexity
of plot, but the scene is set in alpine mountains on a vaster scale
than Switzerland affords. But to pass all these--for the play comes
in in the course of the book, and scenery baffles description--there
are relics of the ages that would interest many a man who has already
travelled far. Salonica is said to be richer than any city in Greece in
ecclesiastical remains, and its ancient structures, for the most part,
have borne well the ravages of time. There are many great edifices,
built by the Romans during their occupation and by the Greeks in their
time, and a minaret at the corner of each denotes the purpose it serves
to-day.

There is a mosque of St. Sophia at Salonica, built, like its great
sister at Constantinople, during the reign of Justinian, and with a
history also marked by the wars of the Catholic and Orthodox Churches.
But a fire of four years ago and an earthquake more recently have
wrecked the place, so that it is no longer used. The Rotunda, now the
Eski Metropoli Mosque, was built by Trajan, after the model, though
on a smaller scale, of the Pantheon at Rome, and was dedicated by
him to the rites of the mysterious Cabiri. It is circular, the dome
unsupported by columns. The whole of the interior is richly ornamented
with mosaics which seem to have belonged to the original temple, as
nothing about them divulges adjustment at Christian hands.

One of the best preserved models of ancient Greek architecture
extant is said to be the Eski Djuma Mosque. In the porch are several
Doric columns, and within the building is a double row of massive
columns with Corinthian capitals. There are ‘The Church of the Twelve
Apostles,’ and the mosque of St. Demetrius, whose shrine within is
revered by Moslems and Christians alike.

Between the Rotunda and the sea is the site of the Hippodrome, where
Theodosius, the last of the Emperors who were sole masters of the
whole Roman Empire, caused to be committed one of the bloodiest of
massacres for which Salonica is famous. Although a zealous follower
of Christianity, and commended by ancient writers as a prince blessed
with every virtue, his moderation and clemency failed signally on this
occasion. In order to chastise the people for a movement in favour
of a charioteer very popular among them, and who had been arrested
at his order, the inhabitants were assembled at the Hippodrome under
the pretext of witnessing the races, and then barbarously massacred,
without distinction of age or sex, to the number of seven thousand.

At the end of the main street, which once formed part of the Egnatian
Way, stands a triumphal arch generally supposed to have been raised
in honour of Constantine, to celebrate the return from his victory
over the Sarmatians. The supports are faced with white marble highly
wrought, representing a battle between Roman troops and barbarians, and
a triumphal entry into a city. The arch was repaired and plastered over
some years ago in a painful manner, with no regard to conformity with
the supports.

The doubt which encompasses the history of every ancient place in
Salonica finds its climax in the spot where St. Paul preached. There
are no fewer than seven of these, and the Christian who would stand
where the Apostle stood has to make a long pilgrimage of mosques and
synagogues. The main street of Salonica, which once formed part of the
Via Egnatia, is lined to-day with curious little shops like boxes, ten
or twelve feet square, and often smaller. The floors are all up off
the ground from two to three feet, and the keepers need no chairs. The
customer stands on the narrow pavement, and the man within reaches
for what is wanted from where he sits on crossed legs. He is a most
indifferent salesman, and one may take or leave his wares without
drawing a word from him. A large percentage of these little places
are weapon shops, where belt-knives from six to eighteen inches in
length are made on the premises, and also gaudy pistols of tremendous
bores. Second-hand English revolvers are in the collection, strung
across the opening, and brand-new Spanish models. The prices of the
foreign weapons are high, and when one asks the reason, the explanation
is given that they are all contraband, and the Customs officers
have to be paid large sums for passing them. These arms dealers will
sell to anyone who will buy, Turk, Jew, and Christian alike. The
Government places no restriction on the sale of arms to non-Moslems:
the regulation is that they shall not possess them.

[Illustration: THE ANCIENT ARCH OF CONSTANTINE, SALONICA.]

This is also the street for native shoes, which are manufactured on the
premises. The most common foot-gear, worn by every Balkan people, is
the ‘charruk.’ It is something more than a sandal, for it has a cover
for the toes; it is a slipper pointed like a canoe bow, and closely
resembles an American Indian’s moccasin. It is made of skin with hide
lacings, which are wound high up a pair of thick woollen stockings,
worn like leggings over the trousers. The Turk often wears these, but
seldom do his women. The Turkish woman’s favourite footwear is a cross
between a sandal and a clog. It is simply a wooden block the shape of
the sole of a shoe, and an inch or more thick, with nothing to hold it
on the foot but a strap across the toes. A European cannot keep them
on his feet, but the Turk manipulates them with marvellous dexterity.
Their great convenience is the rapidity with which they can be shed, as
this has to be done on so many occasions throughout the Turkish day:
at the hours of prayer, and on entering the presence of superiors,
and, obviously, whenever it is desired to sit comfortably, for a Turk
is most uncomfortable if he is not sitting on his feet. These clogs
are hacked with a hatchet out of solid blocks of wood, and even the
shoe in high favour with the Consular kavass, a red thing with a huge
black _pompon_ on a turned-up toe, is manufactured by the squatting
shopkeeper.

In this street one is not shouted at, or dragged bodily into the shops
if he stops to look at a display of wares, as he is in Greek and Jewish
quarters. This is the business street of the man who opens his shop and
sits still till Allah provides the trade.

Certain classes of shops in Salonica perambulate.

The cart has to be largely dispensed with in most Turkish towns,
chiefly because the streets are paved. This is not the case in
Salonica; the paving is comparatively good there; but the Macedonian
has got into the habit of providing for roads paved with cobble stones.
Over the backs of asses and sure-footed mountain ponies the butcher
has an arrangement of carving boards, and cuts off a lamb chop or a
roast at his customer’s door. One has to rise early to see the heads
still on the lambs, for they are great delicacies, and go first, and
when roasted the unbounded joy of the native cracking the skull and
picking out the tasty bits is nauseating in the extreme. The entrails
of animals are also relished; they are eaten as the Italian eats his
macaroni.

[Illustration: THE TURKISH BUTCHER.]

The milkman, generally a Tzigane, does not drive the cow through the
streets, but brings the milk slung over an ass, in a skin, one end of
which he milks at order. A small Jew, with a huge fez and a man’s coat
which reached almost to the skirt of his dress, was a daily nuisance
on Consul Avenue. I suppose he dragged his four-footed draper’s shop
down the aristocratic foreign thoroughfares to show off his father, who
dressed in ‘Franks,’ but whose bellow was distinctly Levantine.

In summer months the two-footed lemonade stand would be a pleasant
encounter were it not so numerous. But as it is generally an Albanian,
it does not pester one to buy: it simply requires one to get out
of its road. It carries a shelf in front with half a dozen glasses
stuck in holes, a copper pitcher in its hand with water for rinsing
glasses after Christians have used them, and a curious reservoir of an
over-sweet drink on its back. If this receptacle has not many little
metal pieces to jingle upon it, the gaily garbed Albanian keeps up a
tapping with two glasses as he advances down the street.

Most of the men of Macedonia wear a form of skirt, but especially in
Salonica does the new arrival feel that he has landed among a race of
bearded women. The most picturesque dress to be seen in Salonica is
that of the Southern Albanian. It is a sort of ballet skirt, like that
of the Greek ‘Evzones,’ a white, pleated thing about the length of a
Highlander’s kilt. But the Albanian is more modest than the Scot, and
wears his stockings to a proper height.

The skirted man most in evidence, however, is the Jew, and his skirt
is indeed a marvellous garment. It resembles a dressing-gown made of
some bed-curtain or sofa-cover material. It is plain in cut, dropping
straight from the shoulders to the heels, but of the most wonderful
designs in cotton prints. On the Sabbath day, which the Jew observes
devoutly, he adds to his costume a long Turkish sash, and also,
regardless of the weather, a greatcoat of a good black cloth lined with
ermine. One would hardly suspect these thrifty Israelites of undue
vanity, and yet for no other reason than to enhance their personal
beauty do they suffer this oppressive garment on the hot Saturdays of a
Salonica summer.

The Jewish girl dresses in ‘Franks’ until she is married, but at her
wedding she receives as a dowry an outfit of clothes fashioned after
those her mothers have worn for countless generations. This is an
expensive trousseau, and is calculated to last all her life, for she
is not to be a burden to her husband in the matter of dress. The most
costly garments in the wardrobe are a fur-lined greatcoat--almost
a duplicate of her husband’s--and the covering for her hair. This
latter is in the nature of a tight-fitting green cap, with a border of
probably red and a chin-strap of still another colour. The cap extends
to a long bag behind, in which her braid of hair is stuffed. On the end
of this bag a square of several inches is worked in pearls, wherein
lies the value of the cap. In skirts the women, like their husbands,
go in for gaudy cotton prints. Their waists are cut exceedingly high.
In the back the skirt falls from somewhere between the shoulders, but
in front a short white blouse is visible, which is cut for street
wear (and worn winter as well as summer) almost as low as a European
lady’s ball-dress. It becomes difficult for me to give further details
of this feminine attire, so I respectfully refer curious ladies to the
accompanying photograph, which, though snapped for the character it
presents, also portrays a specimen of these curious gowns.

I believe that formerly the Hebrew religion required the women to hide
their hair and the men to wear dresses, but to-day these customs are
continued by them from habit, for economy, and with a purpose. Their
purpose in dressing alike is to look alike, as it is dangerous in
Turkey for a non-Moslem--or even a Moslem--to rise above his fellows in
either wealth or position. The Sultan considers it a danger to himself
for one of his subjects to grow powerful, and he maintains a staff of
levellers who have various means of reducing the man who dares to rise.
The successful Turk is exiled; other subjects are dealt with in other
ways.

I once had occasion to send a report to London that a number of
dynamite bombs had been discovered by the police in the office of a
Bulgarian merchant just opposite the British post office in Salonica.
The Turkish authorities took care to let the foreign correspondents
hear this news. It was some weeks later that I learned how the bombs
got so near the British post office. The business of the Bulgarian
merchant, whose name was Surndjieff, had been prospering noticeably.
The merchant received notice one day that a certain sum--say, one
hundred liras--was required of him by the police. He had paid all his
legal taxes, and, being a stubborn Bulgar, he refused to subscribe the
blackmail. A second demand, in the form of a warning, was sent to him,
and still he took no heed. One morning he arrived at his office and
found his door unlocked. Everything within seemed undisturbed, however,
so he set about his duties. In about an hour a detachment of gendarmes
arrived with an order to search the premises, and the very first drawer
opened by the officer in command contained a dozen ‘infernal machines.’
Of course the Bulgar was arrested at once and incarcerated in the White
Tower, to escape from which cost him several hundred liras in bribes to
gaolers and others.

Now, the Jew’s property is no safer at the hands of the Turkish
officials than is that of the Christian, and yet the Jew is a loyal
supporter of the Turkish Government. But there are reasons for this
loyalty. The Jews of Salonica, like most of those of Constantinople,
found a refuge in Turkey from the Spanish Inquisition, and if they
have not liberty in the Sultan’s dominions, they have at least equal
rights with Christians. Their position is even, perhaps, better than
that of the Turk, who indeed is one of the greatest sufferers from
the oppression of the Turkish Government. The Turk is the ruler of
the land and the privileged person, and the Jew has learned never to
defy his authority. But what cares the Jew who makes the laws so
he may make the money? He has learned to outwit the Turk and to take
care to let the Turk take unto himself that credit. This would not
satisfy one of the Christian races, who all have scores to pay and
ambitions to realise; their gratification at defeating the Turk would
only be complete if the Turk suffered the knowledge of the fact. The
coveting of Macedonia by the Christian races in and about Turkey is
another cause for the Jews’ support of the present administration; for
under Greek, Serb, Bulgar, and Rumanian the Jews would not occupy the
position of most favoured subjects.

[Illustration: JEWS.]

[Illustration: JEWISH WOMEN.]

Most of the Jews of Salonica wear the fez, but some of the wealthy
ones, who would enjoy their wealth, have acquired the protection of
foreign Powers, and dress in European clothes. Viennese and Parisian
styles and makes of clothes are not too good for them, and they travel
to Austria and to France regularly in the warm months of the year.

The Hebrew boy is generally educated in his father’s shop, but the girl
is often given a good schooling, which raises her in mind and morals
far above the man she marries--which is sad. Among the various large
foreign schools at Salonica there is one for girls conducted by the
British Mission to the Jews. It affords a means of learning English,
which makes it a most popular institution; and it is within the reach
of all classes, because pupils are taken at whatever they can afford
to pay. But while the school has been conducted for many years, and
an old Scottish missionary (who has recently died) preached to the
scholars for half a century, there is yet to be recorded a single
convert to Christianity. The old Scotchman once told me that he thought
a good share of the blame for his failure was due to the example his
own countrymen set. He said he hated to go into the street when the
British fleet was in the harbour because he was invariably asked by
some Israelite if he wanted to convert them to ‘that’--pointing at a
drunken sailor. A drunken man is rarely seen in the streets of Salonica
except when a foreign fleet is in the bay, and the ‘drunks’ are most
numerous when that fleet is British.

The hundred and one bootblacks (all Jews) who infest the cafés of
Salonica, and swarm about the hotels to pester the unfortunate inmates
as they emerge, are in great glee when an Englishman appears. They
mistook me for an Englishman, but whenever I sought to disillusion a
native on this score, I was told ‘England, America--all the same.’ The
Jews all speak a few words of English, learned, no doubt, from their
sisters.

‘When comes the English fleet?’ is the first question a bootblack puts
to an Englishman.

‘Do you want the English fleet to come to Salonica?’ I asked.

‘You bet!’ They must have acquired this from the American missionaries.

‘Why?’

‘English sailor get much bootshines; pay very well. Ten shillin’ me
make one day--English sailor very much drunk always.’

Jews are always very fond of music, and they fill the cafés-chantants
of Salonica on Saturday evenings. Extracts from ‘Carmen,’ ‘Traviata,’
‘Faust,’ and like operas were being rendered by a small troupe of
Italians at one of these places, to which the entrance fee was two
piastres--about fourpence. But this was beyond the price of the
populace, and the masses flocked to another place of amusement a little
further down the quay, where no entrance fee was charged, and by
purchasing one cup of coffee you could sit and hear the music the whole
evening. Here there was a French artist whose répertoire was known by
the whole town, and the audience made it a rule to shout for the songs
they desired to hear. A certain duet about dogs and cats, in which the
lady meowed and a sickly looking male partner barked, was the Jews’
favourite recital. Late one Saturday evening, when the singers stopped
for a cue, the Jews in the audience began to bark, which was the
recognised signal for the dog song. But there were a number of Greeks
in the audience who wanted the lady to sing alone, and they set up a
call for one of her solos. The respective parties attempted to shout
each other down, which raised an unearthly din in the neighbourhood,
and soon resulted in a pitched battle. But the cry of ‘Soldiers’
brought the conflict to an abrupt termination, and before the gendarmes
arrived both the Jews and the Greeks were scurrying for their homes as
fast as their legs could carry them.

The Jews are rigorous observers of the fourth commandment in so far as
they themselves are concerned. Under no circumstances will one of them
do a stroke of work on their Sabbath day. But they have no scruples
against enjoying themselves by the labour of others. The small boats in
the bay are owned entirely by the Jews, and all the week they hustle
for Christian and Turkish patronage. But on Saturday evenings in summer
they indulge in the hire of Christians and Turks to row them up and
down the city front on the smooth water of the bay.

The various Sabbaths in Turkey are somewhat annoying to the traveller.
On Fridays the Turkish officials will not _visé_ passports or issue
_teskerés_; on Saturdays the Jews refuse to shine your boots; on
Sundays the Christian shops are closed. But neither the Turks nor the
Christians observe their days of rest with the same rigour as the Jews
do. Though it is impossible to get a _teskeré_ from the Turkish Konak
on the Turkish Sabbath, a note waiving the necessity of the document
can be had for a consideration. We all know the Christian is not an
over-strict observer of Sunday.

Salonica is unfortunate in possessing a colony of each of the
Macedonian races. Besides Turks and Jews, there are many Greeks and
Albanians, some Bulgarians and Servians, and a few Kutzo-Vlachs
(Wallachians) and Tziganes, and still another people peculiar to the
town. One is struck in Salonica by the beautiful Mohamedan ladies who
walk along the streets with their veils thrown back; and it impels one
to think that the woman who pulls her veil down when she sights a man
must necessarily lack beauty. Not so; one is a Turk and one is not a
Turk.

The handsome females who wear the Turkish garb, but do not always
cover their faces, are a peculiar sect of Jews alleged to be converted
to Mohamedanism. They live, like all the other peoples, distinctly
to themselves, not even associating with the Turks; and while they
are too few to have a national entity, they carry on, nevertheless,
their little feuds with the Jews. Their story is this: Some centuries
ago a Jew of Salonica, by name Sebatai Sevi, declared himself to his
people as their long-promised redeemer, and won a certain following.
He is an example of power making jealous his monarch. At the Sultan’s
order he was conveyed to Constantinople and taken into the Padisha’s
presence. His plea was heard, but found no credence at the Palace,
and the false prophet was given the alternative of death for himself
or conversion to Mohamedanism with his entire flock. The Government,
no doubt, granted all the assistance Sebatai needed to ‘persuade’ his
followers to make the change, and it was soon accomplished. But, unlike
Christians converted by pressure or force to the religion of the Turk,
these Jews have not become fanatics. Indeed, they are quite luke-warm
about the religion, and it is supposed they profess Mohamedanism simply
for safety, and practise Sebatai’s religion in secret. They never marry
outside their own sect, not even with the Turks. There is a story of
long standing to the effect that the little circle of Dunmehs (for this
they are called) once subscribed a purse of 4,000_l._ to purchase the
pretensions of a Turkish pasha to the hand of a fair maiden of their
colony.

The Dunmehs are the richest people, on the whole, in Salonica. With
their Hebrew instincts for business and their position as Mohamedans,
they have a decided advantage over the other peoples. They fill
largely the _rôle_ of Government contractors, and secure many of
the plums in the gift of the administration, which it is impossible
for non-Moslems to get, and for which the Turks are too indifferent
to trouble themselves. The Dunmehs make a speciality of purchasing
the rights to gather tithes, for which they often pay more than the
legal value thereof. These rights they divide into small sections and
dispose of at a profit to the actual collectors of taxes. The tithe is
legally one-tenth of the crop, but as it is measured by the collectors,
supported by a guard of Turkish soldiers, it generally assumes larger
proportions, sometimes attaining to a quarter, and even a half, of the
peasant’s harvest. And there is no resource for the peasant against
this unjust confiscation, as the first law of the Turkish court is the
Koran, which, as interpreted, provides that the word of a Christian
shall not offset that of a Mohamedan.

But army and other contracts, for which the payment is forthcoming from
the Turkish Government, are not often sought by the Dunmehs. These are
left to Turks with influence at the Palace; for influence at the Palace
or at the Porte is necessary in order to secure any payment from the
Turkish Government. Ismail Pasha, an Albanian in the high esteem of
Abdul Hamid, and with many friends among the Palace clique, is the only
man in Salonica with courage enough to undertake Government contracts.
And his daring is proportionately rewarded.

This man’s history is worthy of recital; it reads like that of a
self-made millionaire. He was born of poor but dishonest parents, and
educated himself--dispensing with the arts of reading and writing. He
began life as a _khanji’s_ boy, learned there how to rob the wayfarer,
and attained, at the age of eighteen, a competency in a brigand band.
Step by step, as the men above him died off (sometimes by indigestible
pills, and sometimes by falling backward on the knife of an ambitious
subaltern), Ismail became a leader. In this capacity he did his work
so well, striking terror to the heart of both Turk and Christian, that
his ability was recognised by no less a person than Abdul Hamid, who
saw in him a man of exceptional ability. This self-made man was invited
by the Sultan to Constantinople, there decorated, given the title of
Pasha, and sent to Salonica with the high commission of first-class
spy, assigned to the task of reporting to his Padisha the doings of the
governor of the vilayet.

Now, an official in Turkey always knows his spy, and the spy always
knows that his man knows him. The spy and his man, of course, are
always together, and they become the most intimate friends. Naturally,
the man seeks ever to please his spy, which in this case makes Ismail
Pasha virtual Vali of the vilayet. He dictates the names of the police
who shall be employed--and naturally has a preference for outlaws;
kaimakams and other officers of districts hold their places at his
pleasure; and Government contracts are awarded to Ismail Pasha, be his
bid high or low. Ismail is the trusted ally of Abdul Hamid, and is
permitted, therefore, to grow rich and powerful.



CHAPTER VII

THE DYNAMITERS


On the occasion of my first visit to Salonica one of the American
missionaries took me over the town sightseeing. When we came to the
local branch of the Imperial Ottoman Bank, a modern bank building of
quite an imposing appearance, my fellow-countryman said he had heard
that ‘the committee’ were going to dynamite the place. But this was
no news to me, for, on alighting at the railway station, the Greek
porter of the Angleterre had told me of this project of the insurgents,
giving it as a reason why I should stop at his hotel instead of at
the Cristoforo Colombo, which stood just beside the bank; and the Jew
bootblacks while shining my shoes had discussed the coming ‘outrages’
and had told me several exact days on which they would take place. A
revolutionary plot so widely known could be little more, I thought,
than a work of native imagination, and, as the missionary held a
similar view, I lengthened not my stay in Salonica to await the
event. I was in search of exciting ‘copy,’ and without the slightest
solicitude for that I left behind, took my way to the interior of the
country. During my absence the authorities raided a Bulgarian khan
in the neighbourhood of the bank, which rumour fixed upon as the bomb
factory of the committajis; but they discovered no insurgents and no
dynamite. The real factory, however, was not a hundred feet away, and
when I returned from my excursion inland I occupied a room in the
Hôtel Colombo which directly overlooked it. It was, to all outward
appearance, a little Bulgarian shop in a narrow, unpretentious street,
and the shopkeeper and his customers were only simple, dirty peasants.
I often watched the Bulgars enter and leave the place, but so little
did I suspect their real character that only three days before their
attack I deserted Salonica again for the Albanian district.

The Jewish bootblacks had fixed upon Easter as the day for the
dynamiting: that was a Christian festival, they knew. But the Easters
of both calendars came and went without disturbance--though the
garrison of the town was augmented on every ‘appointed’ day, to be
ready to suppress the ‘rising’ of Bulgarians in an expeditious manner,
while every Bulgarian barred his door lest the suppression should come
without the dynamiting. It was after many appointed days had passed by
without mishap, and most of the Asiatic soldiers had been withdrawn
from Salonica and sent to join the army for the penetration of Albania,
that the promises of the insurgents were at last fulfilled. Someone has
said ‘Fools lie; wise men deceive by telling the truth.’

[Illustration: ASIATIC SOLDIERS: ‘REDIFS.’]

[Illustration: WAITING FOR DYNAMITERS, SALONICA.]

All of the special correspondents--gathered like vultures in
Macedonia to prey on the harvest of death--knew of the prediction for
Salonica; but correspondents flock together, and we all followed the
leader to Uskub with our hawk eyes set upon Albania. And there we were,
in Uskub, when the dynamiting took place. The news reached us about
noon of the morning after the event. Instead of eating luncheon, I got
a travelling bag ready and boarded the south-bound train at half-past
two, with one other correspondent--an Englishman. Happily, we were not
rivals: he represented a London daily and I was working for America:
otherwise we might have resented each other’s presence. As it was we
rejoiced together at having a clear start of twenty-four hours on the
others, for there is but one train to Salonica each day.

By nightfall the Englishman was bored by my conversation and I was
bored by his, and, having nothing to read, we stretched ourselves out
on the seats of our compartment and went to sleep soon after dark.
It was in this condition that we arrived in Salonica at half-past
ten o’clock; but nobody woke us, and we slept on. The few other
passengers--all Turks, as Bulgarians were restricted in travelling at
the time--left the train quietly and repaired to a khan across the
road to spend the night. The train hands, frightened Christians, lost
no time in ‘shunting’ the train, and after placing it on a ‘siding’
a quarter of a mile from the station, deserted it, us included, and
joined the Turks in the crowded café.

About midnight I awoke and wondered where I was. It gradually dawned
upon me that I was aboard a train, and I rose and looked out of the
window. Every light was out: they must have been extinguished from
above or we should have been discovered. I could discern, indistinctly,
in the faint light of a new moon, a waving line of high grass on both
sides of the train, and here and there a low, thick tree, but not a
house was visible. I woke the Englishman. Towards the city, usually
aglow with little lights from the water’s edge all the way up to the
wall on the hills, only a few dim lamps now shone. The gas main to
the town had been cut by the committajis the night before, and they
had also attempted, in their dynamite revel, to destroy a troop train
not far from the spot where ours now stood. We knew that the railways
were patrolled everywhere and doubly guarded in the vicinity of
Salonica, and there was little chance of our getting out of the train
without being seen. We also knew that the Turk is averse from taking
prisoners on any occasion, and naturally supposed that the deeds of the
dynamiters--for many of whom they were still hunting--had not tended to
lessen this Mohamedan characteristic. But to remain in the train and be
discovered in the small hours of the morning by some excited Asiatic
seemed a greater danger, and we decided to take to the open at once.
Whereupon we gathered our bags, quietly opened the door, jumped to the
ground and scurried through the high grass in the direction of the
town. Fortunately we escaped from the train without detection. But we
had gone hardly a hundred yards when a Turkish shout went up that was
both a challenge and an alarm. We saw the Turk who gave the yell, for
the moon was behind him, but I am sure he only heard us. He was near
a tent, and the first to respond to his call for assistance were his
companions from within. Six of them rolled out from under the canvas in
their clothes, rifles in hand, and in a minute more there were twenty
others by his side, all jabbering high Turkish. We had dropped our bags
at the challenge and thrown up our hands, but still they did not seem
to see us. They evidently thought we numbered forty--the usual size of
an insurgent band--and it took us some time to convince them that we
were only two Englishmen.

‘_Inglese Effendi_’ was the extent of our Turkish, and this we shouted
to them with every variation of accent we could contrive, trusting
they would comprehend our meaning in one form or another. I had not
forgotten in the excitement that I was an American, but neither had I
forgotten that the Turks consider an American a peculiar species of
Englishman, and the situation was such that I was willing to forgo
detail in explanation. They located us at once from the noise we were
making, and, as soon as they had loaded and cocked their rifles, spread
out single file like Red Indians, and wound a circle about us--keeping
at a safe distance from our dynamite. During this manœuvre an animated
discussion took place as to whether--we judged--it were not better to
shoot us first and find out afterwards whether we were Bulgarians
or not. This process was boring, for our arms were growing numb,
and yet we dared not lower them. They shouted to us a score or more
questions, but we could understand not a word. And we, concluding our
Turkish had failed, tried them with English, French, and German, and
the Englishman (who was the linguist) in a rash moment discharged a
volley of Bulgarian. It was well for us then that these soldiers (as we
learned later) had arrived from Asia Minor only a few days before, and
knew not even the tone of the insurgents’ language. They had understood
one variation of our ‘_Inglese Effendi_,’ and though they could not
imagine what ‘English gentlemen’ were doing on a railway line beyond
the city in the dead of night, there was one among them willing to take
the chance of capturing us alive. But the bold fellow was not without
grave fears, as the manner in which he performed this task amply
demonstrated. All guns were turned on us:

  Rifles to front of us,
  Rifles to back of us,
  Rifles all round us,
  But nobody blundered.

The Turks signed to us to keep our hands up. We could lift them no
higher so we stood on our toes--to show how willing we were to comply
with all suggestions. Then the brave man who had volunteered to take us
prisoners made a long détour and approached us from behind stealthily,
lest we should turn upon him suddenly and cast a bomb. I was made aware
of his arrival at my back by a thump in the spine with the muzzle of a
loaded and cocked rifle. The finger on the trigger was nervous--if it
was anything like its owner’s voice--and I dared not even tremble lest
the vibration should drop the hammer of his gun. I being thus in my
captor’s power, the other Turks approached. One unwound the long red
sash from his waist and with an end of it bound my hands. Meantime,
the Englishman had been surrounded, and two curly-bearded fellows,
gripping his hands tightly, dragged him to my side and bound his wrists
with the other end of the red sash. Our proud captor then seized the
centre of the sash, and, carefully avoiding our baggage, led us away
to the camp in exactly the same manner as he would have led a pair of
buffaloes, and the other soldiers followed, jabbering, at our heels.
Our captor’s tugging pulled the sash off my wrists, but I held on to
it and pretended I was still shackled, considering the fright it would
give the Turks to discover me mysteriously at liberty again.

We were kept but a few minutes at their camp, then taken through the
railway station, now deserted, across a road to the Turkish café where
the other passengers and the train crew were spending the night. It
was a peaceful spectacle we entered upon, but we soon disturbed the
composure of the Christians in the place. The train crew was stretched
out on the floor snoring lustily, and the passengers, because of their
race, sat on the tables, their feet folded under them, occupied in
sucking hookahs. Our dramatic entrance, on the ends of the red sash and
surrounded by ragged soldiers, did not distract the Mohamedans from
their hubble-bubbles, but the snoring ceased immediately.

We pounced upon the conductor before he was on his feet, and through
him, by means of French, explained to our captors who we were and
how we happened to be in the train, and demanded our release. But
the Asiatics threatened the Christian and he slyly deserted us and
slunk out of the door. The passport officer, who records arrivals,
a Mohamedan, took it upon himself to relieve us of the bondage of
the red sash and returned it to its owner, whereupon he brought upon
himself a storm of abuse from the Asiatics, and he too deserted us.
One by one all the Christians escaped to the next khan, taking their
snoring with them, but leaving the curly-bearded Anatolians and the
‘bashi-bazouks.’[3] These Turks remained perched on the tables, our
only company through the whole long night, apparently without a thought
of a thing but their gurgling pipes. Indeed, not even the occasional
sound of an explosion in the town caused them so much as to lift their
eyes.

The soldiers knew now that we were foreigners, and did not attempt
to re-bind our hands, but they continued to keep us prisoners with
the object of securing ransom money. Had we been subjects of their
Sultan we should probably have had our pockets searched, but, being
foreigners, our persons, at least, were favoured with a grudged respect.

We refused persistently to comply with their demands for money, until
they became violent. When they had given our bags ample time to
explode, one of the Turks fetched them to the café, but declined to
surrender them unless we paid him. Even this we refused to do. Hereupon
one truculent fellow whipped out his bayonet and shook the blade in
our faces, at the same time drawing a finger significantly across
his throat and gurgling in a manner that must have been copied from
life. This realistic entertainment so impressed me that I rewarded
the actor with all the small change I possessed, about six piastres.
The amount did not satisfy him by any means, for he explained that he
desired to divide the money with his companions, but I dreaded to show
them gold, and handed over an empty purse--my money was in a wallet.
Then they put pressure on the Englishman, but he flatly declined to
reward them and pretended to prefer the alternative they offered. Bold
Briton! they turned from him in disgust and proceeded to fight over the
shilling I had given them. The individual who had drawn his bayonet
carefully replaced it in its scabbard and slung his gun by a strap
over his shoulder before entering the fray. And not once did he or any
of the others use a weapon, though they punched each other’s faces
viciously--not, however, disturbing the bashi-bazouks on the tables,
whose rhythmic suck of the hubble-bubbles could be heard above the
irregular sounds of the brawl.

The fight concluded and quiet restored, the Englishman got writing
materials out of his bag and proceeded to take notes for despatches.
But this proceeding did not meet with the approval of our guards. The
truculent individual walked round behind him without a word, and drew
his bayonet again. This time he was truly alarming, for he was alarmed
himself. He suspected that we were making a report of the treatment we
had received. Now this Englishman was none other than ‘Saki,’ author
of ‘Alice in Westminster,’ a man who would write an epigram on the
death of a lady love. In a few minutes Saki’s mind had risen above all
earthly surroundings in search of an epigram on a capture by Turks,
and he was oblivious to the presence of the Asiatic hovering over him.
Perceiving my friend’s unfortunate plight, I came to the rescue, shook
him back to earth, and persuaded him to destroy his papers. We could do
nothing the rest of the night but sit and study the Turks and listen to
the rhythmic gurgles of the hubble-bubble pipes.

Early in the morning two army officers arrived and came into the khan
for coffee, and we appealed to them in French to relieve us from
the tender mercies of our tormentors. But they sipped their coffee
unaffected, and informed us that the soldiers were not of their
command. Indeed, these Asiatics seemed to be of nobody’s command! Up
to the hour they took it into their heads to return to the railway
station, no superior officer came near them. It was about six o’clock
when they departed, leaving us without ceremony. There were already
cabs at the station, bringing passengers for the early train, and one
of these took us into the city.

       *       *       *       *       *

The streets of the city, usually crowded at dawn, were still deserted
by all except soldiers when we entered. There were sentinels seated
cross-legged at every corner, who rose and unslung their guns as
our carriage approached--the dynamiters had gone to their work in
carriages. But we were not halted on this ride, for we had a Turkish
driver who served as a passport. We drove first to the hotel named
from America’s discoverer, but finding it had been put out of business
by the same explosion that destroyed the bank, we went back to the
Angleterre. After a wash and breakfast we at once set about gathering
an account of the events of the past two days. It was difficult,
however, to move through the town, Asiatics challenging us at every
turn, and we sought out the British Consul for assistance.

We arrived at the Consulate just as the Vice-Consul, accompanied by the
Consular kavass, was starting on an official tour of investigation.
This was an opportunity we could not afford to miss. We attached
ourselves to the Vice-Consul, and the gentleman protested. But he was
courteous in his objections to our company, and we remained with him.
His great solicitude was to know the exact number of the slain on both
sides, a fact which concerned us less than graphic accounts of the
fighting; for it is a duller story to say a thousand people were put
to the sword than to give in detail the way a single Christian died.
H.M. Vice-Consul was a careful young man, with little confidence in
correspondents. He evidently thought it would be useless to provide
us with accurate information, and took no trouble to point out to us
that the slaughter had not assumed the proportions of what might in
Turkey be called a massacre. He seemed to concern himself chiefly with
priming himself to contradict in his official despatches the gross
exaggerations wherein we would undoubtedly indulge; and in view of his
services to us we were both sincerely sorry to disappoint him.

The dead were all now removed from the streets, though the routes taken
by the carts in which they were collected could still be traced to the
trenches by clotted drippings of blood and bloody wads of rags on the
roads. The Consul led the way to the Bulgarian cemeteries in the hope
of being able to count the corpses, but the last spadeful of earth was
just being shovelled into the long graves as we entered the gates. We
could only, therefore, estimate the number. We paced off the dimensions
of the excavations, and, taking the word of the Turkish official that
the bodies were laid but one row deep, estimated that there could not
be more than twenty in a trench--and, as far as we knew, there were
but three trenches throughout the city.

[Illustration: THE WRECK OF THE OTTOMAN BANK.]

[Illustration: ENTERING THE DYNAMITERS’ DEN.]

From the cemetery we followed the Consul to the site of the Ottoman
Bank and passed with him through the cordon of troops which surrounded
the ruins. Workmen were busily engaged uncovering a tunnel under the
street leading from a little shop opposite to a vital spot beneath the
bank. The little shop was that which I had watched so often from my
window in the Hôtel Colombo. The peasants I had seen enter and leave
the place had been, many of them, insurgents in disguise. The stock
displayed in front was only a ruse to cover the real merchandise, which
had come all the way from France and had been passed by the Turkish
Customs officials on the payment of substantial backsheesh. We were
told that ‘special’ customers of this shop went away nightly with heavy
baskets, now suspected of containing the earth excavated during each
day. It is said to have taken the insurgents forty days to cut the
tunnel, by means of which they were able to blow up the bank.

The soldiers were preparing to break into the den of the dynamiters,
and we waited in the street to see what they would discover within.
They were compelled to enter first by a side window, because the iron
front of the place was stoutly barred. They made an opening large
enough for a man to pass through, and two of them climbed in cautiously
with lighted lanterns. I do not think they expected to discover any
Bulgarians, dead or alive, within--nor did they--but they feared to
tread on dynamite. They found a sword of the pattern in use in the
Bulgarian army, and a wooden box with a small quantity of dynamite,
and a basket containing a strange assortment of other things. They
passed these trophies out of the window and permitted us to examine
them. In the basket were several yards of fuse, a few pounds of steel
lugs for making bombs more deadly, a bottle half full of wine, a hunk
of native cheese, and a string of prayer beads. The dynamite, in the
shape of cubes two inches thick, was carefully packed in cardboard
boxes, on the covers whereof were instructions for use printed in three
languages--French, English, and German, in the order named.

There is some irony in the fact that the explosives supplied to the
insurgents by France did most damage to citizens of the country from
which they came. The revolutionary attack on Salonica was directed
primarily against Europeans and European institutions, ‘as a threat
and in punishment for the non-interference of the civilised nations
in behalf of the Christians of Macedonia.’ The Imperial Ottoman
Bank is owned and conducted largely by Frenchmen and Italians, the
_Guadalquivir_ belonged to the Mesageries Maritimes Company, and
against these institutions the insurgents accomplished their most
successful dynamite work. They began the eventful day with an attempt
to blow up a troop train leaving for the interior, crowded with
Anatolian soldiers. An ‘infernal machine’ was placed on the railway
track over which the train was to pass in the early morning, but it was
timed to go off a few minutes too soon, and exploded before the train
reached the spot.

Their next exploit was more cleverly contrived. It was the destruction
of the French steamer. A Bulgarian, describing himself as a merchant,
and possessing the requisite _teskeré_ for travelling in Turkey
duly viséd, took second-class passage for Constantinople aboard the
_Guadalquivir_, and went aboard with his luggage a few hours before the
ship sailed. He inspected the steamer, pretending mere curiosity, and
learned that the state rooms amidships were allotted only to passengers
holding first-class tickets; whereupon he paid the difference in
fare and shifted a heavy bag into a cabin nearer the engine-room. A
few minutes before the ship weighed anchor the Bulgarian hailed a
small boat and went ashore, ostensibly to speak to a friend on the
quay, leaving all his baggage behind. But he did not return, and the
ship sailed without him. She was hardly in motion, however, before a
terrible explosion amidships wrecked the engine-room, cut the steering
gear off from the wheel-house, and set the vessel afire. The concussion
was of such violence that it is said to have shaken the houses on the
quay, nearly two miles away. The engineer and several firemen were
severely injured, but no one was killed. Another vessel in the harbour
went to the assistance of the _Guadalquivir_, rescued the crew and
passengers, and towed the ship back into port. There was a suspicion
of foul play, but the cause of the explosion was not definitely fixed
until that night.

Crowds soon collected to watch the ship burn, and grew until at evening
the whole town was on the quay--little suspecting that this was the day
for the long-promised dynamiting. The plot was well planned.

An ‘infernal machine’ placed under a viaduct which carried the gas main
over a little gulley, exploded promptly at eight o’clock, and this was
the signal for the general attack. Before the lights of the city had
finished flickering, a carriage dashed up to each of the principal
open-air cafés along the water-front, and several drew up before the
bank. In each of them were two or more desperate men, who in some
cases jumped out and threaded their way to the midst of the wondering
crowds, before hurling their deadly missiles. They made for the places
where their bombs would do damage among the foreign element and the
most prominent citizens, and attempted to throw them into the thickest
groups. But the people, already alarmed, were on the _qui vive_, and
few of the explosions in the cafés did really effective work. The
Macedonians are well drilled in scurrying into their houses, and,
recognising the attack at last, they did not linger till the troops
came. The dynamiters tried to catch some ‘on the wing,’ but a bomb is a
poor weapon for use against the individual.

The proprietor of the Alhambra personally pointed out to us the holes
made in his curtains and his stage, and gave us pieces of shell he had
gathered in his yard; but two tables and three coffee-cups and one man
was the complete record of the destruction wrought at his establishment.

Dynamite requires confinement to be thoroughly effective. The
destruction of the Imperial Ottoman Bank was thorough. The Bulgarians
who had this work in charge were evidently the pick of the band. Four
of them alighted from their carriage in front of the building and
several others behind it. Those attacking the front, in the guise of
gentlemen, succeeded in getting near enough to the two soldiers on
guard to overpower them and cut their throats. Then they began casting
bombs at the windows. The other insurgents entered the courtyard of the
Hôtel Colombo and hurled bombs into the doors of the German skittle
club, a low building at the back of the bank. While these two divisions
of dynamiters were at this work, and their confederates were elsewhere
attacking various places, the charge beneath the bank was set off.
A vast hole was rent in the rear wall of the building, the skittle
club was demolished and the front of the Hôtel Colombo shattered. The
manager of the bank, who lived above the offices, escaped with his
family before the building succumbed to the fire, and all but one of
thirty Germans who were in the skittle club at the time got out with
their lives.

The explosions of the bombs caused the wildest panic everywhere, but
they seem to have been remarkably ineffective. They were thin-shelled
things (I have seen several), some three and some four inches in
diameter, with a hole for loading. The shells and the dynamite were
imported separately and put together in various places in the town.
The insurgents appear to have had little knowledge in the manipulation
of the bomb other than what was contained in the printed instructions.
In some cases--in the mountains--they have blown themselves to pieces
while loading shells.

The dynamiters escaped in most instances. After doing their work they
sought cover, leaving the excited soldiers to wreak their vengeance on
the unarmed Bulgar. This is a part of their system, that those who will
not join them shall suffer for their weakness. But in one place the
insurgents were trapped, and a pretty fight took place ’twixt dynamite
and rifle, for the account of which I am indebted largely to the wife
of a missionary, who witnessed it through the blinds of one of the
mission windows.

The American Mission at Salonica is one block--an Oriental block cut
by crooked streets--away from the spot where the Ottoman Bank stood.
It was opposite an antiquated Turkish fort, and next door to the
German school. On the other side of the school is a little house with
a broad balcony overlooking the schoolyard. This little house was one
of the insurgent rendezvous, though unknown and unsuspected. About half
an hour after the explosions at the bank, while the little party of
Americans watched the burning bank from the back of the mission, bombs
began exploding, seemingly almost under their door, at the side of the
house. The American property was not the object of the attack; it was
directed against the German school. The insurgents had, apparently,
waited until the troops from the fort were drawn off to other parts
of the city before beginning their job. They threw their bombs from
the balcony down at a corner of the building, where they exploded. The
detonations were deafening, but the whole damage to the school was less
than that which a single bomb would have wrought if put into one of the
rooms.

But the fort opposite had not been left entirely deserted, and a few
minutes after the first report it opened fire from the battlemented
walls. The Turks were soon reinforced by two detachments of troops
which came up from opposite directions. One force, in the darkness,
mistook the other for insurgents and fired into them. For more than two
hours the fight continued, during which probably forty bombs exploded
and hundreds of rifle cracks rent the air. The missionary’s wife told
me she had seen the Bulgarians light their fuses in the room, then dash
out on the terrace and throw the bombs into the street below. Several
times the Turks attempted to rush the place, but the street was narrow
and stoutly walled, and whenever they came up the Bulgarians dropped
bombs into them and drove them back. Towards the last the insurgents
staggered out and only dropped their bombs. As they lit the fuses the
Americans saw one of them bleeding from a wound in the face, and the
other from the chest. Finally the defence ceased, and the Turks charged
the little fortress successfully. They battered in the door and
dragged out the garrison, both undoubtedly beyond earthly suffering.

       *       *       *       *       *

Several of the dynamiters went up with their bombs; some were killed
by the soldiers in the streets during the night, but a majority (I
was told by an insurgent) got out of the town safely before morning
and made their way, singly and severally, to join other bands in the
mountains.

Early the following morning the Turkish population came down from the
hill in a body, yataghans in hand, ready to clear out the Bulgarian
quarter. But Hassan Fehmi Pasha, the Vali of Salonica, had anticipated
this descent of the ‘faithful,’ and himself drove out and cut them off
and persuaded them to leave the work to the soldiers. A house-to-house
search of the Bulgarian quarter was begun at once, and every male
Bulgarian of fighting age was hounded out. They had barred their doors
and hidden themselves in the darkest corners of their houses. But the
bars did not defy the soldiers’ axes, and their hiding places were
generally shallow, and practically the whole male population was locked
up in ‘Bias Kuler’ (White Tower) and the prison in the wall. No women
were arrested in this ‘round up,’ but one was shot in the streets. The
reason, it is said, was that her figure was padded with dynamite bombs.

Just two months prior to this general incarceration of Bulgarians
a general amnesty had taken place. The Sultan by a single Iradé
reprieved all Bulgarian prisoners. The prisons of European Turkey were
thrown open, exiles were brought back from across the seas and set
free. Political and criminal offenders were treated alike. Brigands
returned to the mountains, petty thieves to the cities, and insurgents
to revolutionary bands. Among the last was the chief of the ‘internal
organisation,’ Damian Grueff, who returned from Asia Minor to resume
supreme command of the committajis. This was one of the features of the
Austro-Russian ‘reform’ scheme. The Sultan evidently desired to begin
it with a grand display of beneficence, perhaps foreseeing the result
of this liberality. The British Government, at any rate, appreciated
the error of the act and protested against its being executed; but
Great Britain had given a mandate to Russia and Austria to do in Turkey
what one of them cannot do at home, and what both are seriously doubted
of honestly desiring.

Almost as absurd as this general amnesty were the general arrests
which now followed the ‘Salonica outrages.’ Not only was the Bulgarian
community of Salonica put behind bars, but an attempt was made to
extend the wholesale incarceration throughout Macedonia. This proved a
failure for two reasons: the Turks could not catch the revolutionists,
and they had not gaols enough to contain the unarmed Bulgars. When the
gaols were filled with ‘suspected’ peasants extraordinary tribunals
were created in the several consular towns to judge the prisoners. I
visited one of these while ‘in session.’ The building was a shanty in
the outskirts of the town; it had been whitewashed for this function.
The usual cellar (an excavation under a Macedonian house) served to
hold the prisoners in waiting. A score of them, manacled, were brought
from the gaols every morning, and choked into this dark hole, whence,
one at a time, they were unchained from their partners and sent up the
ladder into the court. Three dreamy looking Turks and two corrupted
Christians (a feature of the reforms) tried the peasants. There were
no witnesses--at least not when I was present--and the case seemed to
go for or against the prisoner as he himself could persuade the sleepy
judges of his innocence. The judges never asked a question; the whole
evidence, _pro_ and _con_, was drawn by one Turk in a shabby uniform,
who stood before the handcuffed prisoner, questioned him, and then
advised the judges--still sleeping--of his testimony. Judgment was by
no means summary; it was not ‘Who are you?’--‘Ivan Ivanoff.’--‘Guilty!’
Every Bulgar had an hour or more to talk. So slow was the process of
these courts that another amnesty took place before they had tried half
the prisoners. Nevertheless, the number of condemned was large, and for
many months the weekly steamer which conveys political prisoners into
exile was crowded on touching at Salonica.

[Illustration: EXILES, SHIPPED WEEKLY FROM SALONICA.]

The week we spent at Salonica after the dynamiting bristled with
incident. The days we devoted to gathering news and material for
‘letters,’ and the nights we put in ‘writing up.’ In making our
rounds of the town it seemed that every sentry would have his turn
challenging us, and the Turkish post office insisted on searching me
before I entered, and relieving me, for the time being, of my pistol.
Even at night we were not free from the investigation of the now
cautious authorities. Every patrol passing the Angleterre would rouse
the house and ask why the candles burned at so late an hour in the room
we occupied. We had just time each day to swallow a hasty dinner at the
little restaurant opposite the hotel when the ‘all in’ hour, sundown,
arrived. But we took a supper of _yowolt_ (a kind of curdled milk) and
bread to our rooms to eat at midnight. At six o’clock each morning
we were on our way to the railway station to hand our despatches to
the Consular kavass. Of course we could trust none of our ‘stuff’ to
the Turkish telegraph or post offices. For one thing, no report was
permitted to pass the censor which did not in all cases describe the
insurgents as ‘brigands,’ and this word throughout a despatch would
lend a false colour to it. There is, besides, no assurance that either
a letter or a telegram will ever reach its destination through the
Turkish institutions; and so we had deposited a sum of money with the
telegraph operator at Ristovatz, the Servian frontier station, and sent
our despatches to him by either of the messengers who take the mails of
the English, French, and Austrian post offices to the frontier daily.

One morning, after we had worked all night and got to bed only
after delivering our despatches safely into the hands of the French
messenger, a skirted kavass with a tremendous revolver, we were rudely
awakened at nine o’clock by a continuous booming of cannon in the
harbour. We knew it was a foreign fleet, and had rather looked forward
to its arrival, but we were perfectly willing to have it stay away
altogether rather than come at this hour. It boomed on and on until
there was nothing for us to do but get up and go to see how many
warships and whose they were. We dressed and went up on the broad
terrace of the Cercle de Salonique, to which the American Consul had
given us cards. There we breakfasted and watched them sail into the bay
under Olympus, still snow-capped, standing higher than the cloud line,
his smaller companions tapering off to his right and left.

There was a coarse rumble as the heavy chain of the first warship,
an Austrian, followed its anchor to a bed. For a week we watched
the Italians and the Austrians rivalling each other in this naval
demonstration. An Austrian, then an Italian; then three Austrians,
three Italians--at the end of the week nearly a score of foreign ships
swung on their anchors in two parallel lines, the torpedo boats close
in to the shore and the big ships in deeper water. Neither nation could
let the other appear the stronger in the eyes of the Turks or, more
particularly, the Albanians.

The Turkish flagship, which has swung at anchor in the bay of Salonica
for the past ten years, floats an admiral’s colours. The admiral had
been warned that there would be a naval demonstration in the bay, but
his Government had not informed him that every ship that entered would
salute him. In consequence he was unprepared to fire some hundreds
of guns, and his ammunition was soon exhausted; so he gave orders to
switch his flag up and down twenty-one times to each foreign ship, and
for a week the Star and Crescent rose and fell at the Turk’s hind mast.

All the peoples but the Mohamedans had rejoiced at the arrival of the
foreign ships, but they were all disgusted with them before they left.
The Bulgarians had thought they would all be released from prison,
otherwise the town would be bombarded; the Jews had thought the sailors
would hire their boats to come ashore; the Greeks had thought the
officers would dine nightly at their hotels; and the Tziganes had made
their children learn enough words of French to beg for small coin.

‘The English float no come?’ asked a Jew bootblack of me with a glance
of disgust at a group of Italian sailors passing.

‘What’s the matter with these fellows?’ I inquired.

‘Never get drunk so much as English. Got no money anyhow.’

During the week of sentinels and excitement at Salonica the wife of one
of my friends at the American mission died. I had known them only a few
months, but I was the only other American in the town, and was asked to
be one of the pall-bearers with several of the English residents there.
The Vali sent down a detachment of troops to prevent any disturbance,
and they accompanied the funeral to the English cemetery to protect a
number of Bulgarian women who wanted to follow the remains of their
friend to the grave. It was a strange sight--the parade of these
peasants whose husbands were dead, in gaol, or in hiding, following
the hearse through the semi-deserted streets afoot, surrounded by
fezzed soldiers. After them came a train of native hacks, in which the
European community followed.

       *       *       *       *       *

The town was resuming its normal quiet and we began to inquire for
excitement elsewhere. The Englishman in some way got a tip that trouble
was brewing in Monastir, and he and I made ready to disappear one
morning, leaving the other correspondents in the dark as to where we
had gone. It was now necessary for him to secure a _teskeré_--I already
possessed one and needed but to have mine viséd. On application to his
Consul for this document he was advised to designate himself ‘artist,’
as the word ‘correspondent’ always shocks the Turk. (The correspondent
represented the _Graphic_.) But the Turkish official must have a reason
for everything, and the first question of the dignitary who drafts the
passports was, why an _artiste_ desired to go to Monastir.

‘To see the country--among other things,’ said the Englishman. ‘I
understand it is very fine.’

‘The country is magnificent,’ replied the Turk, ‘but the café-chantants
are all closed now.’

The café-chantant _artiste_ was the only artist known to this
enlightened official.

We had thought that all the live insurgents had left Salonica and we
were going on their trail. But one desperate dynamiter had remained
in town, and was doomed to die before we left. He chose the hour and
place himself: about two o’clock of the day before we left, within a
stone’s throw of the Angleterre. It was a rainy day, and we--the whole
corps of correspondents--were lingering over our lunch at the time,
idly speculating on ‘What next?’ when several shots rang out almost
in front of the place. At the first everyone jumped up, expecting
either a dynamite attack on ‘Europeans’ or a massacre of Christians.
We were both. But the firing stopped almost the instant it had begun,
and we moved towards the door. There the crowd hesitated for a moment,
but those--of us behind--forced the front file out into the street.
Curiosity soon got the better of fear, and three minutes after the
shooting we were ‘on the spot.’

It was only seventy yards up the street from the Hôtel d’Angleterre.
The body of a boy some eighteen or twenty years of age lay pale and
lifeless in a gutter half full of dirty water. There was a short pause
before anyone ventured to approach him; there was an infernal machine
under his coat. Then a black soldier went up, felt the body carefully
and relieved it of an iron bomb and two sticks of dynamite. He had no
sooner done this than two other Asiatics approached the body, and one,
with blood trickling down his face, set upon it with the bayonet,
muttering Turkish--curses, I imagine--through his clenched teeth.
Before he had struck many blows, however, an officer caught hold of his
sword arm and violently pushed him back; and for a moment there was a
rapid argument, followed by a tussle. The other white soldier raised
his gun, butt downwards, to smash in the victim’s face, but the negro
thrust him back too. In a few minutes four soldiers and the officer
came and dragged the body through the mire across the street, and the
now freed Asiatic, with drawn bayonet, unable to control himself, began
again his curses, and dealt three blows at the stomach of the victim
trailing through the mud. Then he put his bayonet between his teeth and
took hold of the feet, and helped to throw the dead Bulgar upon a Jew’s
cart standing by. The old Jew drove off rapidly; he had cut a cabman
out of a job.

The slaughtered youth was said to have come from a small town up the
railroad. He was a Bulgarian school teacher. In his attempt to blow
up the telegraph office (this was his object) he went down to the
place dressed as a European. He loitered about his goal, which aroused
suspicion, and when he collected his courage and started to enter, one
of the sentries at the door challenged him. The young man, holding a
paper in his hand and feigning indignation, is said to have exclaimed,
‘Let me pass! I want to send off this telegram.’ The guard answered,
‘I must search you before you go in.’ Here the young Bulgar thrust
his hand into his pocket for a bomb, but before he could withdraw it,
the stalwart guard, who was twice the size of the Bulgar, grabbed him
by the throat, threw him on his back, and sent two balls into him. A
letter was found on the boy’s body stating that he had successfully
carried out one piece of dynamiting and hoped to accomplish this.



CHAPTER VIII

MONASTIR AND THE GREEKS


The train to Monastir is very slow: it takes the best part of a day to
go about a hundred miles. The conductor, somewhat of a wag, informed
us that, as the natives are accustomed to paying for transportation
by the hour, they would probably drive if the railways charged more
than the carriage-man’s rate per hour. But this is not the only reason
the journey consumes such a length of time. Wherever there are two
ways between towns the track invariably takes the longer. This, we
were told, is due to the fact that while the Sultan seeks to limit
the number and the terminal lengths of railways in his dominions, the
Sublime Porte sees fit to subsidise these undertakings of foreign
companies according to the mileage covered.

Our train pulled slowly out of Salonica at 8 A.M., and dragged slowly
into Monastir at 5.45 P.M., half an hour late in spite of the liberal
time-table. The trip, however, was most interesting. There is a line of
old Roman watch-towers along the coast, dilapidated things resembling
Roman ruins in England. They are now inhabited by Turkish frontier
guards, to whom Greek smugglers must pay tribute in order to bring in
goods duty free. Behind these towers, across the bay, stands Olympus.
The historic mountain, already forty miles away, is still to remain
in view until we cross the Vardar Valley and burrow into the hills.
We had got to know Olympus well, and looked upon him as a sort of
sentinel of civilisation here on the border ’twixt East and West. The
old fellow had carried us back to schooldays, and jogged our memories
of the ancient Greeks. Of course, we appreciated his company on this
journey inland, and admired the majestic manner in which our old
friend travels. He goes along with the train just as the moon does;
passing over minor objects, towns, forests, and insignificant things,
and keeping steady pace with you, until a close range of unworthy
hills suddenly cuts him off from view. Distance lends enchantment, but
proximity makes importance.

After leaving the plain the train begins to climb over a watershed,
and gradually winds a tortuous way, up, up, up to the snow and the
clouds. In a few hours the line is a succession of alternating tunnels
and bridges--passages through the mountain-tops and spans across the
chasms. At every tunnel’s mouth and at every bridge was a little group
of tents and brush huts, from which ragged guards emerged to get the
bag of bread the train dropped off. A sea of mountains rolls away on
all sides. On the nearer slopes rectangular carpets of yellow corn and
red and white poppies spread out at irregular intervals. On the second
line the fields are less distinct. Further off the mountains blur out
into blue and grey, and finally mix colour with the clouds. Shortly
after midday the train threads the eye of a high peak and emerges in
sight, across a far valley, of Vodena--Watertown. It does not descend
to the plain and climb again, for that, besides being impracticable, is
the most direct route to the town. Around the mountain sides the train
winds for an hour through more tunnels and over more bridges, but in
view, when in the open, of a score of slender silver ribbons trailing
down a precipice that falls abruptly from the town’s edge. Passing back
of Vodena the track crosses the mountain streams, which tumble through
the streets of the town on their way to the fantastic falls.

Not the least of the charms on this road to Monastir is Lake Ostrova, a
mountain bowl of clear green water. The train does not cross the lake,
for again that would be too direct; it circles the shore at the base
of the mountains, taking, of course, the longer way round. To bridge
a Macedonian lake is like putting a pot-hat on an American Indian. It
is a legend in the Caza of Ostrova that the lake rose suddenly from
springs about a hundred years ago; and perhaps there is some truth in
the record, for at one end, on an island just large enough to hold a
mosque, stands a lone minaret--all that remains, it is said, of a once
populous village. There is always incentive for wild imagination in
Macedonian mountains. Several regiments of Albanians were camped at
the village on the shore of the lake, and every man of them gathered at
the station to meet our train. A field of white fezzes swept away from
the car window in every direction for a hundred yards. When Albanians
appear Slav peasants often suspend business. Generally fresh trout,
‘still kicking,’ are to be had at Ostrova station, but this day not a
single native ‘dug-out’ was drawn up on the beach.

[Illustration: ON A MACEDONIAN LAKE.]

Aboard our train was an Albanian bey returning with his little daughter
from a pilgrimage to Mecca. Friends were gathered at several stops
to greet him. They threw their arms about him and pressed faces with
him, but none of them noticed the girl. She was a marvel of beauty,
probably ten years of age, and yet, of course, unveiled. Her hair,
which hung in a single bunch under a soft blue homespun kerchief, was a
rich auburn--though the roots of it were black. Her finger-nails were
likewise dyed with henna. She wore richly figured bloomers, like the
gypsies, and a loose, sleeveless jacket of blue over a white blouse. We
told the Albanian his child was pretty, which caused him to exclaim in
alarm, ‘Marshalla!’--May God avert evil! It is bad luck in Turkey to
receive a compliment.

We asked the Albanian if he had many children. ‘One children and three
girls,’ was the reply.

At Monastir we surrendered our _teskerés_ to a Turkish official, to be
retained until we left town, and took a carriage to the Hôtel Belgrade.
This is the only hotel in the town; the others are all khans. In spite
of the immortal William, there is much in a name. By its presumption
the Hôtel Belgrade got the patronage of both the correspondents and the
‘reformajis’--as the reforming officers and officials were derisively
dubbed. There were some queer characters among us. A ‘special
commissioner’ of the _Daily News_ took his mission so seriously that
he never smiled, and always wore a silk hat. The other Englishman
suggested an opera hat for cross-country travel, in the hope that his
compatriot would spring it in the company of an Albanian and get shot.
An Italian official of the Ottoman Bank had taught himself English,
and was enraptured when we arrived. It was with much pride that he
addressed us at supper. But we did not recognise the language, and
expressed in French our unfortunate ignorance of foreign tongues. ‘That
is your own tongue,’ said the Italian; but even of this we understood
not a word. The man drew a pencil from his pocket, and on the back of a
letter wrote:

‘I am speaking English.’

We were astounded.

‘Perhaps I do not pronounce correctly,’ he wrote next. ‘I have learned
the noble language from books.’

The hilarious Englishman gave the unhappy Italian his first lesson at
once. He took the pencil, and wrote:

‘Always pronounce English as it is not spelt; spell it as it is not
pronounced.’

The Italian was an earnest student, and soon made progress. Before
we left the hotel he was interpreting to the proprietor for us. One
day the Englishman asked if there was any chicken on the bill of fare.
The Italian conversed with the proprietor for a few minutes, and then
informed us that there was ‘a kind of a chicken.’

‘What kind of a chicken?’ chirped the Englishman; and the special
commissioner of the _Daily News_ almost smiled.

‘It is a--what do you call it?--a goose, sir.’

The Italian went with us to the bazaars one morning to look at some
rugs, but he took us only to second-hand dealers, until we protested.

‘We do not want old rugs,’ we said.

‘Oh,’ said he, ‘you want young ones.’

The Hôtel Belgrade was, as you might imagine, kept by a Servian. It
was a most depressing place--except for the amusing Italian. Its bare
board floors were regularly scrubbed, and we seldom found extraneous
things in either the food or the beds. Nevertheless, there was a bad
smell about the place, from the garbage in the street, and much noise
from miserable dogs in front of it, which came for the garbage. The
front door was braced with stout props, which were set in place every
evening soon after twelve o’clock, Turkish, this being sundown; but
the doors of the rooms were without bolts. The steep staircase was
lighted with smoky kerosene lanterns, the bedrooms were supplied with
tallow candles. The dining-room was a gruesome place. Life-size prints
of King Alexander and Queen Draga stared down from the badly papered
walls. This was before the assassination of the monarchs; but after the
event (which called me to Belgrade) they hung there still. There was no
sentiment in the matter; the proprietor simply possessed no portrait of
King Peter, and was not prepared to lay out money for new pictures.

At the open door to the yard stood a smelly ram that had become
bow-legged from its own weight. It was so fat it could hardly waddle,
but it was never required to walk further than the length of a short
rope. The unfortunate animal was afflicted with the capacious appetite
of both goat and pig; it was able to eat anything and continually.
And everybody fed it. It got the uneaten vegetables from the ‘potage
légumes,’ fins of the fish if there was ‘poisson’ on the menu, bits of
daily lamb; even the stumps of cigarettes thrown in its direction were
promptly swallowed. Some of us protested to the proprietor, and offered
to buy the creature if he would have it killed. ‘What!’ exclaimed
the horrified Servian; ‘kill my luck? Stomackovitch has brought good
fortune to this house for eleven years!’ The bow-legged ram with the
insatiable capacity had been tied in the hotel yard ever since it was a
frisky lamb.

I became disgusted with the hotel, and tried the khans; but I had
run out of Keating’s. I had made friends with the missionaries (one
needs no introductions in Macedonia), and by frequent visits at the
mission I found that they were in the habit of having waffles for
breakfast, Indian corn for dinner, and home-made biscuits for supper.
These attractions of the American home were irresistible, and I
applied to Mr. and Mrs. Bond for permanent board and lodging. Now, the
missionaries are Puritan people, and while more than anxious for the
society of a fellow-countryman, they hesitated at taking me, fearing
that perhaps I was afflicted with evil habits; so before adopting me
the dear old people put me to a test.

‘We allow no strong drink in this house,’ remarked Mr. Bond.

‘So I perceive,’ I replied.

‘Do you smoke?’

‘I can do without tobacco quite easily.’

Condition three was a compromise. ‘We do not send for our post on
Sundays,’ said the missionary.

‘I can go for my own letters.’

‘You attend service?’

‘I do.’

The room I got for my goodness was on the first floor. It held a big
downy bed, wherein one could roll about without danger or discomfort.
There was a rug on the floor, on a washstand a china wash-bowl and
pitcher instead of the petroleum tin with faucet in the _khan_ yards
for guests who wash. My window looked out on the garden and over the
red-tiled roofs of the town, covered with storks’ nests.

The residence was situated on the border between the Turkish and the
Bulgarian quarters. Round the corner, in the upper room of a large
wooden building, was the church; and in the next street was the girls’
school, conducted by two American women with the assistance of several
Bulgarians educated at Samakov.

The number of people in the congregation was less than a hundred. They
were all Bulgarians, with the exception of one family of Albanians.
The school was quite prosperous, having several grades and boarding
pupils who came from a hundred miles around. Among the scholars were
Greeks from Florina, and Vlachs from Krushevo, as well as Bulgarians
and Albanians, all, of course, Christian girls. The school was a sort
of select seminary for the better classes.

Tsilka, husband of Mrs. Tsilka, his wife, and ‘the brigand baby,’ born
in captivity, lived near our house. Tsilka assisted Mr. Bond in his
duties, and Mrs. Tsilka taught at the school. They both spoke English
quite well, and the accounts they gave of the long captivity and the
ransom were extremely exciting. It was never dull at the mission.
There was always something interesting going on. My visit began in the
height of a panic. Rumour, which stalked rampant after the Salonica
outrages, planned trouble for Monastir on the following _fête_, St.
George’s Day. The Vali, under instructions from the Governor-General,
got his garrison in readiness to combat an attack by dynamiters, and
the civilian Mohamedans, being in an ugly mood, prepared to assist
the soldiers. No attack came from the Bulgarians, but the promises of
trouble were fulfilled nevertheless. Turks all ready, it required
but a signal to start them to work. The signal came in a row between a
Turk _khanji_ and a Bulgar baker over payment for a long due account.
The Bulgar died, and the mob of bashi-bazouks slaughtered some forty
other ‘infidels’ before being dispersed by the soldiers, who at first
assisted them.

[Illustration: A GREEK.]

Then came the panic. Christians closed their shops and barred their
doors, and the streets were deserted except for Mohamedans, who, one is
led to believe, would shoot a foreign _giaour_ as quickly as they would
a native infidel. The Vali sent a soldier to escort the Englishman
and me, being _giaours_, on our daily trips through the streets. The
trooper was given us for protection from the Bulgarians, but we kept
our eye fixed upon him, for he was an armed Mohamedan.

There was also a guard assigned to duty at the mission. This was a
youthful Turk, who brought with him a strip of matting in lieu of a
prayer rug. He came one morning at nine o’clock, and nine o’clock next
morning found him still at his post. We discovered the poor fellow
weeping, and asked the cause. He had been posted here to guard the
mission, and told to remain until relieved. His task was severe, as
he had brought no food. The missionaries fed him, and he remained
twenty-four hours longer before another soldier came to take his place.
The object of putting a guard in front of the mission was twofold.
One day he arrested a peasant who came to the mission with a bundle
and went away with a large piece of brown paper neatly folded in his
hand. This piece of paper, in which the economical peasant had brought
back my week’s washing, was the evidence produced against him. It was
carefully saved, and shown to the Vali. The washing-list was written
upon it.

To go about the town at night was thrilling. The patrols and sentinels
had orders to arrest--and later to shoot--any man discovered on the
streets without a lantern. Several times we were invited to dine at
the Consulates, and the Consuls sent their kavasses with a lantern to
escort us. As we proceeded down the streets the challenges would come
from a hundred yards away, and our Albanian trusty would reply in a
deep commanding tone. Even our own guard would jump to his feet on our
return as the light of the lantern turned the corner of our narrow
street. If nightfall overtook ox-teams or buffalo-carts within the
city, the horned beasts were unyoked where they were, blanketed and
fed, and their masters slept in the carts. It was uncanny stumbling
into munching beasts at night.

Sometimes, when a fight had taken place in the neighbouring hills,
a line of cavalry ponies, led by their masters, would pass down the
cobble-stone road back to the mission bringing the wounded soldiers
into the caserne. Often the men were mortally wounded and had to be
supported on the backs of the stumbling ponies. This was a gloomy
spectacle. It was peculiar to the night, for the Turks never brought in
their wounded till the streets were deserted; they are sensitive over
losses.

During an anxious period in Monastir there came around an anniversary
of the Sultan’s accession day. The streets were beflagged with Star
and Crescent, and Turkish designs in night-lights were arranged on the
hills. The day before the celebration long lines of soldiers made their
way from the camps and casernes to the various town ovens, each with a
whole lamb, dressed ready for baking, in a huge pan on his shoulder.
It was a curious sight to see these preparatory parades pass down the
streets with the potential dinner. This, indeed, was the only parade to
honour the Padisha, for on the anniversary day itself all ‘infidels’
braced the bars behind their doors, and Mohamedans remained in their
homes by order of the Vali; and only a doubled guard remained in the
streets, to be ready for an insurgent surprise. At night we left the
house and crossed the street to the school, and after putting out all
the lights--a precaution of the ladies--climbed to the top of the house
to see the illuminations on the hills. Not a sound was to be heard over
the entire city.

But no matter how intense the quiet in Monastir, there was always one
hour of the day when a fearful row raged. That was the hour the British
Consul took his daily walk. The Consul was a Scot, McGregor by name,
who owned a British bulldog and employed an Albanian kavass. The latter
is common to Consuls, but the bulldog was a novel and disturbing
element. As the fatted pup strode the narrow streets between his
master and his master’s man, a wave of protest from the native canines
followed in his wake. The native dog, like the native Mohamedans, is
averse to permitting an outsider within his sacred precincts; but,
unlike the Turk, the dog is not required to brook the insult in peace.
Whenever a protracted dog-fight passed down the semi-deserted streets,
’twas known that the British Consul was out for his daily walk; and
when the disturbance came towards the mission, the hired girl was sent
to put the kettle on for tea.

There were always visitors at the mission, and sometimes they were
peculiar people. One morning a forlorn native appeared at the door
with a dejected wife and two miserable children; they stood in a
row, salaaming submissively with their thin hands crossed upon their
empty stomachs. We went out to inquire their business, and heard the
following not unusual story. The man was unfortunately a Bulgarian, and
for that crime had been cast into prison in the general incarceration
of his race. During his confinement his shop had been plundered by
bashi-bazouks, and now he had nothing to live on, and nobody would give
him work. (It was a case of ‘No Bulgars need apply’; men who employed
Bulgarians were suspected of sympathy with the insurgents.) This Bulgar
had called at the mission--here he showed some embarrassment--to
see how much money he would receive if he and his family became
‘Americans’! This missionary explained that the Protestant Church
did not offer pecuniary inducements and other mundane rewards for
converts, as did the Greek, Bulgarian, Servian, and Rumanian Churches,
and told him that he would not become an American if he chose to join
the Protestant Church. The missionaries had a British relief fund at
their disposal at this time, and out of it gave the man a couple of
mijidiehs. He was made to understand, however, that this beneficence
was a gift, pure and simple, and in no way meant as a bribe to induce
him to leave the Orthodox Church. It is difficult for the Macedonian to
see why men give up comfortable homes in happy countries to come out
and live in a land like theirs.

On another occasion we received a visit from a more enlightened
Macedonian. He, too, was a Bulgarian, so he said; and in the same
breath told us that he had two brothers, one of whom was a Servian and
the other a Greek. This peculiar phenomenon, prevalent in many parts of
Macedonia, here came to my notice for the first time. I was puzzled,
and asked how such a thing was possible. The Macedonian smiled, and
explained that his was a prominent family, and, for the influence their
‘conversion’ would mean, the Servians had given one of his brothers
several liras to become a Servian, while the Greeks had outbid all the
other Churches for the other brother.

One day Mr. Bond filed a despatch at the telegraph office which
brought us a call from the police. A reunion of the missionaries of
European Turkey was taking place at Samakov, and the Monastir staff,
thinking it unwise to go to Bulgaria at this particular moment, sent a
message to the assembly reading ‘Greetings in the name of the Lord.’
The telegraph clerk accepted the despatch and the money. Three days
later a gendarme called at the mission to ascertain who this Lord was.
Mr. Bond explained to him at length, but the Turk was suspicious, and
carefully cross-examined the missionary. He wanted to know particularly
if the Lord for whom this telegram was being sent, and who must
therefore be in Monastir, was either a Russian or an Austrian. When
the missionary informed him that the Lord had been a Jew, the Turk was
surprised, but went away without further inquiry. Next day, however,
he called again, and asked if Mr. Bond would kindly put the statements
he had made in writing for the _bimbashee_. The missionary wrote out
a brief statement, pointing out that the Koran mentioned the Man in
question. But the telegram was never sent, nor was the payment for it
ever refunded.

[Illustration: A BIT OF OLD MONASTIR.]

Quite as subtle was the reasoning of the censor when a number of
quotations from the Bible, which it was desired to print on Easter
cards, were submitted to him. The censor required a thorough
understanding of each passage before he would pass it. Receiving this
he gave the missionaries permission to publish all the texts except
one--that of ‘Love one another,’ this precept being contrary to
the policy of _divide et impera_, by which the Sultans have defeated
the Christian peoples, both subject races and Great Powers, for many
generations.

       *       *       *       *       *

On a short visit to Florina I once secured an abundance of first-hand
evidence of the manner in which the great Greek propaganda in this
district is conducted.

I went to Florina without authority, in the company of the stout Mr.
Reginald Wyon, correspondent of the _Daily Mail_, with the object of
getting through to Armensko, the scene of a recent massacre. Just
beyond Florina the Turks turned us back, and took us, at our request,
to the residence of the Greek Metropolitan, where we hoped to get some
information of the affair. The Metropolitan was reputed to be the
most violent propagandist in the Monastir vilayet. He had recently
made an extended tour through his district under the escort of a body
of Turks, exhorting all recalcitrant Christians to return to the
Patriarchate, warning them of massacre if they remained Bulgarians,
and assuring them, on the authority of the Vali, immunity from attack
by Turkish troops if they became ‘Greeks.’ In fear of punishment and
hope of reward whole villages of terrified peasants swore allegiance to
the Patriarchate, and their names were duly written in a great book.
Armensko was one of the villages visited.

For thus counteracting the work of the Bulgarian committees, and also,
according to the insurgents, for serving the Turkish Government as a
chief of spies, the bishop was condemned to death by the ‘Internal
Organisation.’

At the time of our arrival the bishopric was garrisoned with Turkish
troops. There were probably forty curly-bearded, hook-nosed, ragged,
greasy Anatolians--the same fellows, as far as one could see, who had
held us up one night at Salonica--quartered in the house. They had
possession of the lower floor, and their mats were spread throughout
the vast hall, and a large room at one side resembled an arsenal. The
Asiatics lolled about the steps and slept in the hall, and barely moved
for us to pass. We picked our way among the reclining forms, climbed
the steep steps, and stalked through a broad bare corridor, where our
footfalls sounded like thunderclaps, to a reception-room, of which the
only furniture was several small round coffee-stools. The walls were
hung with Turkish rugs, of an indifferent quality, behind the usual
divans, which were part of the construction of the building. The Turks,
as is their way, and the other occupants of the house because the
bishop was taking a siesta, walked the bare boards shoeless. It was not
necessary to inform him of our arrival. A tousled head poked itself out
of a door ready to say something a bishop shouldn’t, but, spying us,
jerked itself back. We were required to wait fifteen minutes for his
holiness to don his robes.

Then he appeared in a flutter of excitement. Pouring out
unintelligible apologies, he rushed up to my fat friend, being the
elder, threw his arms around him, and smacked him twice on each round
cheek. I saw I was to be treated likewise--there was no hope of
escape--so I bent to the ordeal, to save the bishop the trouble of
mounting a stool in all his robes. After he had finished with me the
loving soul stooped and gave even the little dragoman four resounding
kisses.

The Metropolitan was a man of about sixty years of age, with pronounced
Hellenic features. His beard and hair were almost entirely grey, but
both were full and abundant still. He wore no hat, and his long hair
was drawn straight back and done in a knot, like a woman’s.

The bishop was alive to opportunities, and the unexpected arrival of
two newspaper correspondents was a great chance for him. It quite
caused him to lose his dignity for the time being in an effort to
do the cause he espoused a service. He explained the presence of
the soldiers below; he had received a letter from the insurgents
telling him they would kill him unless he desisted from thwarting
their diabolical propaganda. Then, as a preliminary to a lengthy
discourse on Bulgarian atrocities, the bishop cautioned us to believe
every word he said. Indeed, we could take his word as we could that
of an English gentleman, and we could publish everything he said,
even if the committajis slew him for it. The old man here paused,
at our request, for the interpreter to translate his remarks, and
while interrupted, he called several attendants and despatched them
in different directions--two to the Greek school for ‘professors,’
another to the kitchen for coffee and jelly, and still a fourth on
another mission--all for our enlightenment and material benefit. Then
he resumed his lecture, during the course of which the professors began
to arrive, and with them came also a member of the Greek community,
who, the bishop proposed, should lodge us that night. The professors
joined the bishop in blaspheming the Bulgars, but our host-to-be only
substantiated accounts of atrocities at the appeal of the others.
Three little girls, who had to be dressed, were sent into the room.
They courtesied as they entered and kissed our hands. These were the
orphans of a man who had been assassinated by the committajis because
he refused to contribute to their revolutionary fund. These ‘brigands’
had murdered several priests in the district, mutilated their bodies
in a shocking manner, and laid them in the high-roads or before their
churches as a warning to their compatriots. No punishment, said the
Metropolitan, was too severe for such fiends, and, questioned by us, he
declared that he informed the authorities whenever he learnt that there
was a band in the district.

We asked the bishop for some information of the affair at Armensko, but
this was not in the line of his discourse, and he evidently did not
care to complicate the Balkan question for our uninitiated minds. The
great question was the Bulgarian propaganda. He dispensed with the
massacre as a ‘mistake of the Turks; they should not have done what
they did,’ and returned to the insurgent question.

We took notes of the Metropolitan’s remarks, but he was dissatisfied
that we should permit any to go unrecorded. Finally, as we started to
leave, the old man said, with a touch of resentment in his voice, ‘I
wish _I_ knew English; I would write letters to the _Times_ and let the
world know the truth.’

We went home with the Greek to whose tender mercy the bishop had
consigned us for the night. A meal was already served when we arrived
at his house, and his daughter, a pretty girl about twelve years of
age, attired in her newest native frock, stood ready to wait on us,
trembling at the honour. But the old man drove her from the room,
closed and bolted the door, and cautiously approached our dragoman.
‘Tell the Englishmen,’ he said in a whisper, ‘that the bishop is a
terrible liar!’

The interpreter was an English boy, whom we had picked up at Salonica,
and the peasants were not afraid to talk to him, as they would have
been to another native. It was obvious that the old man had more to
say, but we put him off until we had eaten. Then, again carefully
ejecting his gentle offspring, he proceeded to inform us that the
father of the little orphans we had seen had joined an insurgent band,
and then informed the bishop of the band’s plans; and the bishop
had transmitted the information to the authorities. The traitor was
discovered, hence his death. When the Metropolitan was in Armensko,
the Greek said, he told the people that if the Turks came they should
go out and meet them and tell them they were Greeks. The Turks came,
the peasants went out to meet them, but the Turks did not give them
time to announce their national persuasion.

The troops who destroyed Armensko were commanded by Khairreddin Bey,
a man already notorious for his methods. According to a report of the
committee, the Turks had met a body of 400 insurgents at Ezertze and
been defeated. At any rate, the Turks turned back towards Florina, and
on their way passed through Armensko, a village of about 160 houses.
Without warning they fell upon the inhabitants, slaughtered about 130
men, women, and children, and plundered and burned the houses. Some
Roman Catholic sisters of charity, who conduct a free dispensary at
Monastir, secured permission from the Governor-General to proceed to
Armensko and relieve the wounded. They arrived a week after the affair,
and found as many as sixty living creatures huddled together in the two
churches, the Greek and the Bulgarian, which, though plundered, had not
been destroyed. The human bodies had all been buried, but the carcases
of burned pigs, horses, and cows were still lying among the ruins,
decomposing and befouling the atmosphere. The sisters, whom we saw
after their return, said that some revolting crimes had been committed
upon the women. They gave the foreign Consuls at Monastir details of
the affair, and the Governor-General was indignant, and permitted them
to go to the relief of no more massacred villages.

[Illustration: ORTHODOX PRIESTS.]

The sisters brought the survivors to Florina, and those severely
wounded they took on to Monastir. The peasants were all the same
people; the same blood coursed through their veins, and they spoke the
same language, a corrupted Bulgarian, their vocabularies containing
some Greek and many Turkish words; but some were ‘Greeks,’ and some
were ‘Bulgarians.’ The ‘Greeks’ were received by the Greek hospital,
but admittance was refused those who had rejected the offer of the
Metropolitan of Florina to become ‘Greeks,’ and there was nowhere else
to take them but to the Turkish hospital.

The subjects of the Sultan do not love one another.

The rivalry between the racial parties--they cannot be defined as
races--works death and disaster among the Macedonian peasants.
Bulgarian and Greek bands commit upon communities of hostile politics
atrocities less only in extent than the atrocities of the Turks.
Sometimes Servian bands enter the field.

But the propagandas also greatly benefit the people. The Bulgarian,
Greek, Servian, and Rumanian schools--tolerated by the Government
because they divide the Macedonians--give the peasants an education
which they would not acquire at the hands of the Turkish Government.
In the large centres the ‘gymnasiums’ offer the inducements of higher
education, and in some cases music and art, for which professors are
brought from Budapest and Vienna. Children are often supplied with
clothes, boarded, and lodged without charge.

All this effort is to possess the greatest share of the community
when the division of the country comes. As far as the peasants are
concerned, I believe it would make very little difference whom the
country goes to, as long as the Government is liberal and equitable.
Indeed, I found sympathy with the Bulgarian cause among many Greeks,
Vlachs, and Servians, simply because the Bulgarians are fighting the
Turks.

The Greek clergy and other propagandists worked hard to influence us.
They brought documents to prove their contentions. But figures lie in
Turkey. A little thing like figures never bothers one of the ‘elect’;
a Turk can supply official documents proving anything--a map coloured
red as far as Vienna, or a census of the population showing more
Mohamedans in the land than there are inhabitants. And the other races
to some extent copy the Turk. Some of the Greek partisans contended
that the major part of the country was peopled by Greeks, but wiser men
explained that many members of the Greek community spoke Slav languages
and Vlach, but that they are Greeks, nevertheless, because their
sympathies are Greek.

‘The inhabitants of Normandy are not British,’ they said.

‘But is not this sympathy unnatural--the work of your clergy, by means
not wholly righteous?’

They said the adhesion of the other races to the Patriarchate was
entirely natural; the Bulgarians converted artificially with brigand
bands.

The Greeks fear that an autonomous Macedonia--for which the Bulgarian
committees are striving--would be annexed by Bulgaria, as in the case
of East Rumelia. The Greeks, therefore, support the Turks, until such
time as Macedonia becomes Hellenic. They have been at work for a
century converting the country. Before the creation of the Exarchate,
when there was but one Orthodox Church in European Turkey, they strove
to destroy the Bulgarian language, abolishing it from the schools
and churches. When the new Church was established they stamped it
schismatic; and many Bulgarians were afraid to leave the old Church,
and remain to-day faithful to the Patriarchate--and members of the
Greek community.

Some Greek partisans claim also the Servian communities of Macedonia
because the Servians have no autocephalous church, and all Greeks claim
the Vlach communities.

The Kutzo-Vlachs, or Wallachians, are a people akin to the Rumanians.
They speak a language similar to that of the Rumanians, evidently a
Latin tongue. The kingdom of Rumania claims these people, and conducts
a propaganda among them to retain them, in the hope of securing
territorial compensation--a corner of Bulgaria, perhaps--at the
division of Macedonia.

Until 1905 the Vlach churches were also under the direct control of the
Patriarchate; but Rumanian influence at Constantinople then obtained
their independence. The Greeks contested the separation violently,
and sought to prevent by force the installation of the Vlach clergy.
Rumania, not being contiguous to Turkey, was unable to give battle
with armed bands, and declared a civil war upon Greece. Diplomatic
connections were severed, trade treaties abolished, and Greek shipping
in the Danube was severely taxed.



CHAPTER IX

ACROSS COUNTRY


Travel in Turkey is severely restricted. If a native succeeds in
obtaining a _teskeré_, or the _visé_ thereto, necessary for making a
journey, there is still the deterring danger of arrest on suspicion
at his destination or _en route_, in spite of his papers. If he is a
non-Moslem he is suspected of nothing worse than being a revolutionist,
and is only set upon by polite police officers; but if he be Mohamedan,
he is required to deal with the spies of the Sultan. I once witnessed
in Salonica the impressive military funeral of a pasha who had been in
high favour at Court. So highly was the pasha esteemed that the Sultan
sent one of his own physicians, a Greek, from Constantinople to attend
him--though, incidentally, the doctor arrived after the pasha’s death.
But the unfortunate Turk had not possessed sufficient of Abdul Hamid’s
confidence to secure for him permission to visit Constantinople--for
which he had applied several months before--in order to have an
operation performed there by competent surgeons.

Foreigners fare better. They may travel to the limits of the few
railway lines without serious annoyance--if they confine their stops
to Consular towns. To enter the ‘interior,’ however, permission is
seldom given, and Europeans (in Turkey the name includes Americans)
are never allowed to leave the railways without an escort. Only on
one occasion did we get away from the railways with the consent of
the authorities. This was at the instance of a certain Consul, a man
who demanded things and got them. The journey was across a section of
Macedonia from Monastir, the terminus of one railway, to Veles, an
intermediary point on the north-and-south line. As might be supposed,
the country was comparatively quiet at the time, the crops were being
gathered, and the authorities informed us (the Englishman and me) that
all insurgents had been ‘suppressed.’

We rode out of Monastir perched high on Turkish saddles, at a dizzy
distance above our diminutive steeds. At first we sought to secure our
lofty positions by a tight grip of the reins, but they pulled on curb
bits, and so tortured our poor little ponies that we soon sacrificed
our pride, gave the animals their heads, and ‘gripped leather’ until
we learned to balance. Just outside the town our escort, six mounted
men, awaited us and fell in with us without so much as a salaam. They
were the usual ragged beggars, much patched where they sat, tied up in
places, and generally off colour. Across their faded chests stretched
many yellow stripes--in lieu of gold braid--which designated them of
the corps of _Zaptiehs_. Three of them wore shoes of the regulation
order issued by the Imperial Ottoman commissary department, but the
others were more fortunate. Of these latter two possessed native
woollen stockings and charruks, and the third had a high boot on one
foot and a shoe and leather legging on the other. The leather legging
hardly met about the calf to which it was applied, and lacing was
necessary to fill a slight breach, while the boot was large enough
to admit a long, flute-like cigarette-holder, a tobacco-pouch, and a
flint. The fezzes of this brigade were the one uniform thing other than
their guns; they were all good, possessed tassels, and one even showed
signs of having been pressed at a not far distant date--unlike those
which sat upon Christian heads.

We discovered early that our escort were very poor horsemen. They did
not seem to understand their animals; for though the ponies they rode
could have been managed without any bit at all, yet they all kept a
heavy hand on a cruel curb. The ponies were small, and had none but
natural gaits, and the short trot was most uncomfortable unless one
rose in the saddle. This the Zaptiehs were unable to do. In consequence
the horse suffered. Two at a time they took turns at riding with us
at a steady trot, while the others galloped and walked alternately,
thereby covering the same distances we did in the same time.

A ride across Macedonia affords a wealth of interest. Your escort is a
study in Turk; every peasant you meet is a new picture; the mud-brick
houses of the Christians and the Mohamedan _chiflics_ are curious and
picturesque, and you must stop at times and absorb the scenery. You can
sympathise on a journey like this with the small boy who cried because
he had so many sweets he could not eat them all. Our route the first
day lay through open country, and our escort was therefore quite small.
We traversed the length of the Monastir valley and stayed the night
at Prelip. It should be a happy, prosperous valley, for Nature smiles
on it, but it is desolate and almost deserted. The cornfields hug the
towns, and the villages hide themselves in obscure corners of the
mountains. The ‘high road,’ a waggon-track, which we followed, skirted
one village and passed through another, but they were made up of such
huts as brigands would not stoop to enter. A sheep-dog, big framed and
thick coated--but a bread-fed, skinny animal, with an uncertain lope
and an unsound bark--came at us. One of the Zaptiehs drew his sword
and gave it a trial swing at a low bush near his horse’s feet; but a
peasant came crying after the dog, and called the brute off before it
got within reach of the Turk’s blade. This was a Turk of less religious
fervour than his fellows.

The Zaptiehs smoked continually as they rode, and rolled cigarettes for
us. They gave us lights from their cigarettes, but only the irreligious
fellow would accept the same favour from us, for which I asked the
reason. ‘They will not take fire from a giaour,’ he said.

The insurgents had boasted that the crops would not be harvested this
year, but the corn and the tobacco were already on their way to
market. We passed Christian caravans which took the fields to give us
the road, and Mohamedan carts which made us give them the right of way.
The former were unarmed and most meek, doffing their dejected fezzes
and standing abject with hands clasped on their stomachs as we passed.
The others, down to the half-grown boys, carried pistols and guns, and
bore themselves like a ruling race. The Turks, however, appeared to be
as poor as the Christians, and once two veiled women, gathering their
faded rags about them, even to covering their henna-tipped fingers,
came up to our horses to beg. Nevertheless, their husband, riding a
dwarfed donkey, carried a revolver.

The lot of the animals in Macedonia is similar to that of the people.
The one survives on grass as the other lives ‘by bread alone.’
The peasant lies down to sleep at night in his clothes, and the
heavy-saddled pack-animals are relieved only of their loads. The long,
latticed saddle, reaching from before the animal’s shoulders to his
haunches, is seldom removed. It becomes in time an integral part of the
animal, it conforms somewhat to his shape, and he gives way in places
to its lines; and when it does leave a back it often brings hair,
and sometimes skin, with it. The animals are not pegged out or tied
together when the caravan halts. The system practised is to lock their
fore feet with short-chained iron cuffs, or else to tie them with a bit
of rope. There are various means of propelling the beasts of burden,
but only the carriage-driver uses the Western lash. A donkey is
generally sat upon sideways, not astride, and continually beaten with
the heels; the horseman wears heavy spurs; the driver of pack-trains,
oxen and buffalo teams, carries a pointed stick or a staff with a nail
in the end. These last instruments are gently pressed against the hind
quarters, and the pressure is kept on till the animal attains the
required speed.

The buffalo, which is a heavy creature and unable to acquire speed
rapidly, lifts his long, snake-like tail and veritably twists it about
the tantalising stick. These pitiful-eyed, straight-necked, knock-kneed
creatures are larger and more powerful than the ox, and the buffalo cow
gives considerably more and richer milk than the domestic variety. But
the buffalo is an exceedingly delicate creature, and requires constant
care. His hair is long, but thin and scant, and he is addicted to early
baldness on the back. In this condition his skin resembles the hide
of a rhinoceros. When the weather is warm he drags his slow way along
the roads, covered with soft, slimy mud. The driver walks beside him
with a crude, long-handled dipper, and at every puddle replenishes the
supply of cooling mud. In the winter the black beast maintains the
same measured pace, but then he wears a different covering. His thick,
coarse blanket protects him from the cold--a thing of broad stripes,
brown and white, made of the same material of which his master’s cloak
is woven, spun by the peasant wife, probably in the same piece of
cloth.

At several places at which we stopped the peasants came to us to
ask medical advice for themselves and their animals, and we were
exceedingly sorry that we could not prescribe for either; for their own
ideas of doctoring border on superstition, and seem to follow the plan
of killing pain by pain. At one village we witnessed (and protested
against) the treatment of an unfortunate horse which had, by strange
mishap, swollen to an abnormal size. A stout cord was put around its
tail close to the root and twisted with a stick until all circulation
in the tail was stopped. Then, when the appendage had become numb,
a wire nail was driven into it in four places. The horse died of
complications, including lockjaw. A horse which, at a stage of the
journey, carried our luggage, possessed but one ear. We asked what had
become of the other, and were told that it had been cut off piece by
piece to cure repeated fits.

There is often to be seen in Macedonia, especially in the Monastir
district, a thing resembling a big bird’s-nest built on stilts.
The nestling wears a soldier’s costume and carries a gun. He is a
field guard, an institution of the Government designed to ‘protect’
Christian peasants from ‘brigands,’ Albanian and Bulgarian. This he
often accomplishes by becoming a member of a band of the former. The
Governor-General will show you yard-long petitions stamped with many
tiny seals, the marks of the peasants, pleading that no Christians be
put to guard them, as the Austro-Russian reform scheme provides. The
signatures to these petitions are not secured in the general way, by a
Turk with a loaded gun; they are _bona fide_. The peasants really do
not want the protection of a half-hearted Christian, who has probably
never before handled a gun, and who will only bring disaster upon them.
The Turkish guard is a contemptuously tolerant creature. His band is
strong enough to defend the peasants from other marauders, and so
long as they pay the annual tribute of so many sheep or goats, and so
much grain, there is no other call upon them--except for the needs of
the bird in the nest. The committee’s agents, when laying their cause
before Europeans, will designate this bird a vulture, and tell you how
he exacts maidens of the peasants; but the Greeks, who claim to be the
enlightened people of the country, explain that this, to a Macedonian
peasant, is not what it is to an Englishman or an American. There are
always two sides to a question.

Though the revolution had not yet occurred, and the peasant population
was still engaged in peaceful pursuits, the country swarmed with
soldiers. Cavalry and infantry patrols, Turks, Albanians, and Asiatics,
passed us by. Occasionally we met a guard with handcuffed prisoners,
Bulgarians and sometimes Albanians. Now and then a member of our escort
would meet a long-lost friend, and the old comrades would drop from
their horses and embrace each other, pressing cheeks first one side and
then the other. We were yet an hour off from Prelip when the white
tents about the town came into view. Soon we came to the cornfields.
The corn was ripe and glowing under the slanting rays of the evening
sun, and here and there red poppies had wandered in to stud the golden
fields. Once the road led by a milk-white field, most innocent in
appearance, but covered with the deadly blooms of opium. Many houses on
the edge of the town, and some in the narrow streets, were hung from
roof to ground with strings of tobacco leaves, changing colour in the
sun.

[Illustration: Albanians.            Bulgarians.

                           CAPTIVES.]

When we entered Prelip the natives were gathered at their gates
preparatory to withdrawing for the night. It was too late for
Christians to follow, and the Turks are too dignified to do more
than bestow a casual glance at any traveller. But in the morning our
appearance caused a commotion in the town. Greeks left their shops,
Bulgarians deserted the market-place, Vlachs followed us with their
pack-animals, Jews and gypsies came after us, the one to sell, the
other to beg of us; men, women, and children joined in our train. They
followed us until we crossed a narrow street, at the other side of
which only a few veiled women were visible; then the whole throng came
to an abrupt stop.

‘What is the matter with the crowd?’ I asked one of our guards.

‘They are like the dogs,’ he replied; ‘they have their boundaries. At
this street begins the Turkish quarter.’

We walked on through the quiet, clean, Turkish quarter and came upon
a group of bashi-bazouks, who had been called into service as village
guards, squatting by the roadway smoking. They were kind enough to
rise and permit me to photograph them standing. This was rather an
exceptional case; the Mohamedans generally resented my camera. A gypsy
minstrel, a thing of shreds and patches, on his way to a wedding feast,
protested that the Evil Eye would be upon him if I took his likeness,
but I ‘snapped’ him while he argued. It would have been unkind to
inform him.

We then followed the Tzigane to the wedding, of which, of course, we
were permitted to witness only the street celebrations, those of the
male side of the house. This took the form of an almost uninterrupted
dance to the monotonous music of two reed flutes and two crude bass
drums. The flutes had a range of about three shrill chords, and the
drums had two notes apiece. With the right hand and a heavy stick the
drummers beat a slow, steady boom, while with a lighter stick in the
other hand they kept up a rapid tattoo. They played by ear, of course,
and the strain of a single bar of music went for hours. Monotony is
bliss to the Mohamedan. A long mixed line of men gave the dance. There
were Turks with red fezzes, Albanians with white skull-caps, soldiers,
and bashi-bazouks. The leader of the line, swinging a red handkerchief,
led the way round a circle formed by the crowd and set the figures,
which varied little more than the music. The dance was evidently
copied from the Bulgarian _horo_. Sometimes the leader withdrew in
favour of the second man, and now and then a man in the line would fall
out, to have his place filled sooner or later. But on went the dizzy
dance to the doleful sound all the afternoon.

[Illustration: TURKISH WEDDING FESTIVITIES.]

My companion trounced a Greek barber at Prelip, and I had my hair cut
by accident. We had begun to look like Bulgarian insurgents, with full
crops of hair and unshaven faces, and, resolving here to abolish the
dangerous likeness in so far as our beards were concerned, we repaired
forthwith to the nearest barbers’. The Englishman chose a Greek
barbershop, and was shaved by a man with a characteristic nose of large
proportions. At the conclusion of the ordeal he inquired the price, and
was told that he owed the sum of two piastres. He handed the Greek a
mijidieh, which is worth nineteen piastres in Prelip, and received five
piastres in change. At this the Englishman protested, and the Greek
yielded up another small coin. But more than this no gentle persuasion
could move him to give. Among the crowd which had gathered to see the
‘Frank’ shaved was one accommodating individual who spoke a garbled
French. The Englishman enlisted his services to make known to the man
with the nose that, unless he produced the proper change forthwith he
would have his olfactory organ promptly and vigorously pulled. This had
no effect, and the threat was put into execution, to the wonderment and
increase of the crowd. But nobody protested, and the Greek produced
another insignificant coin. Again the interpreter was employed, and
again without result. So again the Englishman laid his hands on the
Greek, and this time so ill-used the poor man that he handed the key to
him and told him to help himself with piastres from the money drawer.
The Englishman took the proper change and departed.

My experience was less thrilling, but the disfiguring was of me. I
discovered a Turkish barbershop, consisting of a Turk and a towel,
a cane-bottomed stool, and some utensils made in Austria. The shop
occupied the narrow pavement with the dogs, out of the way of the
pedestrians. After shaving me with a heavy weapon, the Turk held up a
formidable pair of scissors by way of asking if I wished to have my
hair cut. For the moment I forgot that a shake of the head in Turkey
means ‘yes,’ and a nod means ‘no’--and I shook my head. I was rescued
from the wall against which I had been reclining during the process of
shaving, and straightened up for the purpose, I thought, of having my
hair combed. But the Turk, with a single clip, took off a large bunch
of hair, and left me, without alternative, to be barbered in the latest
Prelip fashion.

The Turk does a great many things in an opposite way to which we
do them. He writes backwards; the conductor on the horse-car at
Constantinople and Salonica punches the tickets for the station at
which one gets aboard instead of that to which he is destined; the
wood-sawyer rubs the wood on the saw, which he holds between his
legs; the sailor, feathering oars, turns the blades forward instead of
backward; the officer salutes the soldier.

[Illustration: A GYPSY MINSTREL.]

[Illustration: A TURKISH TRUMPETER.]

In the interior of Macedonia it is not necessary for the authorities
to preserve the same show of order that is required in Consular towns,
and our escort for the next stage of the journey came to the khan for
us. There were a score of Zaptiehs in the charge of a fat but ragged
sergeant, who gave me his name but could not write it. This is nothing
extraordinary; one of the foreign officers of the reform scheme told me
he had found but two sub-lieutenants in the whole Kossovo vilayet who
could read and write.

For several hours the road led along the sides of a stream winding
between two ridges of mountains. The mountains were said to be infested
with insurgents; this was a part of the country through which Sarafoff
operated. Turks’ heads peered down at us, and silently assured us
that the road was overlooked for miles beyond. Studded over the steep
slopes, wherever a great boulder protruded far enough for a footing,
soldiers were suspended between us and the clouds, which the mountains
often pierced. Despite this survey of the route, five of our men
straggled out to the front, the foremost a mile in advance. As we
would descend one steep slope we could see the vanguard climbing the
next. Whenever we came to a blockhouse, always pitched on the highest
peak, one of the garrison would bring us cool water from the nearest
fountain.

The road was good for many miles; it had been constructed only a year
before. But the contract had not called for bridges, so bridges there
were none, and it was necessary for us to ford every stream. But a few
months after this excursion a war-scare set the Government to honest
work, and this and several other excellent roads, most of them leading
towards the Bulgarian border, were hurriedly completed. Millions to
retain, but not one cent to maintain.

Not a single village did we pass this day, only one lone wayside khan.
Macedonia is sparsely inhabited. Once we came over the crest of a hill
and descried a gathering of twenty or thirty men far down in a valley
below--a little island formed by a split in a thin stream. It took us
an hour to get to the island, which lay in our route, and meanwhile
men mounted their horses and rode away into the mountains, and others
appeared from unseen places and came to the meeting. This was too open
a spot--visible from any of the surrounding hills--for brigands to
divide spoils; nevertheless the business was illicit. We got off our
horses and penetrated the crowd. In the centre sat a Turk with two
sacks of cut tobacco. This he was selling direct to consumers, without
paying the tax levied by the Turkish Regie. We filled pockets for two
metaleeks--a penny between us--and proceeded on our way up the opposite
mountain-side.

[Illustration: OUR ESCORT FORDING A STREAM.]

This was a hard day’s ride. It would not be exact to say that we were
in the saddle ten hours, for we dismounted and walked over many steep
mountains, but we were on the road from six in the morning until
six in the evening, allowing two hours for halts. We passed through
the camp of an Anatolian regiment pitched beside the vast caverns of
Veles, dropped down the Vardar, and crossed by the only bridge in view
of many primitive wooden water-wheels. The bazaar began at the bridge
and ended at a Turkish khan, at which we alighted. There was but one
sleeping-room in the khan, and this chamber was equipped with six cots
filled with loose cornshucks in lieu of mattresses; there was no other
furniture in the room. We wanted to take the room and pay for all six
beds, but the landlord preferred to accommodate two Turkish friends,
and offered to let us have the other four beds.

We washed at the tap of the inevitable petroleum tin in the stable,
and the proprietor’s son brought us clean but exceedingly rough
towels. After our ablutions we repaired to the front of the house,
where a dozen or more Turkish officers sat sipping coffee. The ranking
man among them, an Albanian, rose as we appeared, and addressed us
in French. A Turk would not have spoken without some substantial
motive. The Albanian asked where we had come from, where going, how
old we were, whether married or not, as rapidly as he could put the
questions--which is polite in Turkey. We both understood that this
was all in good taste, as was also the noise the other officers
made drinking coffee. It was difficult for the Englishman, however,
bound by the heavy fetters of British restraint, to reply to this
interrogatory readily and with any marked show of pleasure, and quite
impossible for him to sip his coffee in the manner of the company.
But, having come in contact with many queer people in the course of my
travels, I was experienced in such a situation, and not only answered
all the Albanian’s questions with alacrity, but put them straight back
to him, and while he was speaking I sucked coffee and sighed heavily
after each mouthful as though in the height of bliss. This display
of good manners met with a cordial reception by the Turks, and they
invited us to dine with them at the officers’ mess--an exceptional
invitation.

We went with them to their quarters in a clean Turkish house, off a
narrow street half covered by the extended second storey. We climbed
a bare, ladder-like staircase and entered a small, unpainted room
with many rugs on the rough boards. There was a long, covered thing
like a mattress on one side, stretching from end to end of the floor,
and a high divan, likewise stretching the length of the wall, on the
other side. I was weary, and the long cushion offered more excuse for
reclining, so I dropped myself upon it; but the other man got upon the
divan and let his feet hang. We looked foreign to the place, I know;
for when the officers were seated there were many pairs of shoes on the
floor, but ours were the only feet to be seen, and ours were the only
bare heads. Once in a while a Turk would remove his fez and rub his
head, but generally the red cap sat somewhere on the skull of its owner.

A strong native drink, which changed colour like absinthe when water
was added--mastica it is called--was served by a Bulgarian boy, who
shed his shoes at the door and entered in stocking feet. One of
the officers made the boy tell us what good masters the Turks are.
Radishes, sliced apple, roasted monkey-nuts, and a delightful little
Turkish nut were served and left in the room an hour before dinner. The
Englishman and I ate heartily of these, for we were ravenous, and it
was well that we did. When the meal came on we all drew around a small
wooden table. Six of us sat in so many chairs, and the others stood
around behind us, and reached over our heads for their food. We were
each supplied with a hunk of bread, a fork, a spoon, and a towel, but
no plates were distributed. One dish at a time was placed in the centre
of the table, and removed when it was empty. The meal varied from
stewed lamb to little squares of lamb toasted on sticks, going through
five courses of lamb. Then there was fruit and coffee. There was wine,
and five of the Turks drank it; devout Mohamedans do not.

At this meal I failed in Turkish manners, even as the Englishman had
done previously. We were all required to stick our forks and spoons
into the single dish and dig for ourselves, and when the meat was gone
to sop our bread in the gravy. But we were both continually withdrawing
our forks as another man advanced his, which the Turks did not
understand. Of the first few courses we got very little, but then the
Albanian caused the officers to give us a two minutes’ handicap at the
succeeding dishes.

After dinner there was Turkish music--which was not pleasant. The reed
flute played in the Turkish street harmonises with the character of
the country, and is not unattractive; but in a close room its monotony
is inclined to put the weary travellers to sleep. The low wail of a
Mohamedan priest calling the ‘faithful’ from a minaret is ‘like the
sighing of the pines,’ but the whine of a Turk at close quarters,
accompanied by the facial contortions necessary to his nasal chant, is
conducive to bad dreams. We had our revenge; the other man retaliated
with ‘Alice, Ben Bolt.’

Several of the officers escorted us back to the khan through the silent
street, answering the challenges of the night patrols.

Two dark figures, which followed us from the officers’ quarters,
entered the khan behind us and stretched themselves on the floor
before the door of the general sleeping-room. There we found them when
we emerged in the morning; they proved to be two soldiers to whom
the authorities had assigned the duty of ‘shadowing’ us. They told
us, with much amusement, of how they had lost us the night before.
Arriving at the khan about nine o’clock, they were informed that we
had ‘disappeared’; the _khanji_ had not seen us leave with the Turkish
officers. This alarmed the soldiers, and they started on a search for
us. They were about to report our disappearance to headquarters, when,
coming to the Turkish quarter, they heard strange sounds never before
perpetrated in Veles. This was the song of ‘Sweet Alice.’

In the morning a negro merchant arrived at the khan from Istip and
told us of a fight ‘in progress’ at Garbintzi, a little village about
eight hours’ ride to the east. We had intended to take the train that
afternoon for Uskub, but the chance of seeing a fight caused us to
change our plans. We gathered as much hurried information as we could
about the route, hired a Turkish guide, and set off for Garbintzi
before noon. We planned to go unescorted, but this was not to be.
Our guide, in pursuance of police orders, had informed the Konak of
our sudden change of destination, and the _kaimakam_ despatched four
Zaptiehs to accompany us. We were surprised that they permitted us to
proceed.

Being anxious to reach the scene of the combat as quickly as possible,
we rode rapidly over the mountains, and came to Istip about six o’clock.

An officer came up as we entered the town and greeted us like long-lost
brothers. He was a Turk, and had a mission to perform. He informed
us that the kaimakam had received a telegram from Veles advising him
of our approach, and instructing him to see that we were treated in
a manner befitting our exalted positions. The only place they could
offer such worthy guests, who had so honoured Istip with a visit, was
the kaimakam’s own house. The kaimakam, I may explain, lived above the
gaol.

We were presented to the kaimakam, and the official congratulated the
Englishman on belonging to that great race which had so long befriended
the Turks. To me he said he thought it wonderful that a great New York
paper would send so youthful a man so many miles on so important a
mission.

‘How old are you?’ he asked.

‘Twenty-five,’ I replied.

‘You look eighteen.’ He did not ask why I wore no moustache, probably
fearing it was because I could not. The Turk is a gentleman.

Information had evidently been given by our escort that we carried
revolvers, for two officers entered the room through a door at the
back, drew up chairs, and seated themselves immediately behind us. But
we did not attempt to shoot the kaimakam. Another officer, perhaps the
spy attached to the governor, also entered and occupied a seat beside
his quarry.

Then the kaimakam brought his compliments to an end and sat silent.
Nobody spoke for forty seconds. We sought to end the uneasy interview,
and informed the kaimakam, what we were sure he already knew, that we
were on our way to Garbintzi.

‘The fight is over; the troops have just returned,’ he informed us.

‘That is unfortunate,’ I replied, ‘but as we have come this far I guess
we’ll visit the scene.’

But the kaimakam guessed we wouldn’t.

‘I have orders,’ he said, ‘to prevent you from going any further. You
must return to Veles.’

We suggested that the Governor-General was making a mistake; if we were
not allowed to visit Garbintzi we must conclude that the reports that
massacre and arson had accompanied the fight were true. The Englishman
added that, if the Turkish version were based on fact, it would be
well to let us verify it. But the kaimakam shook his head; he had his
instructions.

We left the house extremely disappointed, and on the way to the
khan--for he had said nothing about putting us up--began to think out
a plan for getting to Garbintzi. We went to our guide, and, feigning
extreme dejection, instructed him to saddle, and be ready himself at
eight o’clock next morning; we were going back to Veles. An officer
visited us during the evening to ascertain what time an escort should
be ready to take us back. The information we gave him agreed with that
we had given the Turkish guide--which had been imparted to him. Putting
the question to us was only a point of politeness: the horses were
being watched.

We rose at five o’clock next morning, dressed hurriedly, and went to
the stables. Two soldiers had slept there, and one set off at a run to
the Konak. But the hour was early for the Turks, and we got out of town
without a soldier on our heels.

We passed the sentinels on the border of the town and rode hard in the
direction of Veles until we had passed out of sight of a blockhouse
which stood high on a hill a few miles beyond, and would, no doubt,
report that we had fairly gone by towards the railway. It was a ride
of barely ninety minutes from Istip to Garbintzi by road; with a good
hour’s start, we calculated that we could get there before being
overtaken, even though we went by a roundabout route. But we did not
reckon with our guide. When we called a halt and asked him if there
was not a road over the mountains to Garbintzi, he was frightened. He
answered that there was a way, but the road was bad, and it would take
four hours to go by it from the spot where we stood.

‘Lead us over it,’ we said to the dragoman, who repeated the words to
the guide.

There was a parley of ten minutes, during which our nerves were at high
tension. Every minute we expected to see a troop of cavalry coming
after us. At last we got the information. ‘He won’t go.’ There was no
time for argument, when it had taken so much time and all the Turkish
which we had heard to convey that fatal negation.

‘How much does he want?’ the Englishman demanded.

‘He will not go at any price,’ came the reply. ‘He has a wife and
children depending on him, and an officer has been to him last night
and told him that he should lead us to Veles and nowhere else.’ It was
no use arguing. We turned our horses’ heads towards a village of some
ten houses a few miles off, half way up a mountain side. The dragoman
followed. The guide would not leave the road to Veles, literally
following instructions.

It was Sunday, and the peasants were all in their brightest clothes.
They were dancing a _horo_, but our appearance among them broke up
the festivities. Every man, woman, and child in the village collected
about these queer travellers. They understood the dragoman’s Bulgarian,
as was apparent by the state of alarm into which they fell. Not for a
hundred liras, said the headman of the village, would one of them guide
us over the mountains.

‘Why?’ I asked.

‘Why!’ came the answer, ‘the man who should take you over those
mountains would be shot by the committajis, for we have refused to
arm. Were the Turks to find out that one of us had left here without
a _teskeré_, and taken you to see a village which they had destroyed,
they would come and do the same to this place.’

‘Please leave us,’ they begged, as we still argued, ‘and get away
before the Turks see you.’ Several old women began to cry.

We returned to our guide, our last card played, and said demurely,
‘Lead us back to Veles.’

We made our way slowly, and waited at the next khan for a cloud of
dust on our trail to develop into a troop of cavalry, who kept a close
cordon about us for the rest of the journey back to the railway.

Defeated we had been, but we had learned a lesson in the ways of
the Turk, who thinks his intelligence is superior to that of a mere
‘giaour.’



CHAPTER X

USKUB AND THE SERBS


After our attempt to evade the authorities we were closely watched
until we left Veles, the police, as is their way, pretending to
wait upon us only for our convenience. When we departed two mounted
gendarmes accompanied us to the railway station, though we needed no
protection, and a careful sleuth, with painful politeness, assisted us
in taking tickets for Uskub--an unnecessary courtesy--and went with
us to the train to see, he alleged, that we secured a comfortable
compartment. There was only one first-class compartment in the train,
and this was occupied by a well-dressed officer whose trousers had been
pressed inside out. The Turkish gentleman stood not upon ceremony, as
does his admiring British contemporary on such occasions; he introduced
himself before we had taken our seats, immediately inquired our life
history, and soon divulged what purported to be his. He was no other
than Hamdi Pasha, of Albanian extraction, the youngest general in the
Turkish army, so he informed us, on his way to the Bulgarian border, of
which he was military inspector.

It was raining heavily when we arrived at Uskub; nevertheless, a
picked company of Nizams (regulars) was drawn up in honour of our
travelling companion, and presented arms as the train pulled in. The
pasha alighted, saluted, and, with us on either side of him, sharing
a great white umbrella, proceeded to the Hôtel Turati. Then the
bedraggled band struck up one of several Sousa compositions which have
been Orientalised for the Ottoman army, and the company marched away
through the slush, doing the German ‘goose’ step, acquired from the
Kaiser’s officers in the Sultan’s service, which showy effort spattered
the mud on civil pedestrians on both sides of the narrow street.

Behind the soldiers straggled several hundred Albanians, raw Redifs
(first reserves), who had come up on our train in cattle-cars
marked in bold letters, in a language they knew not of, ‘8 CHEVAUX
OU 48 HOMMES.’ And behind the Arnauts trailed a score of prisoners
protesting violently at being driven to gaol through the mire. These
were Christians impregnated with the sense of free men’s rights. They
were attired in ‘Francs,’ fezzes, and handcuffs--with the exception of
one, a priest, who wore only the manacles in common with the others,
apparently the conductors of a Bulgarian gymnasium temporarily out of
business.

Before the school teachers paraded a grinning gypsy bearing on his back
a bundle of old muskets.

‘See, see!’ said the pasha. ‘They were captured in arms. There are the
guns.’

[Illustration: ‘8 CHEVAUX OU 48 HOMMES’: ALBANIAN RECRUITS.]

But a foreign Consul, wise in the ways of the wily Government, told
us that this gypsy and his parcel of rifles was the ostentatious
advance guard of every detachment of Bulgarian prisoners. The manœuvre
was designed to deceive those representatives of the Powers and
newspaper correspondents who were particularly prying.

Uskub is a stern place with a breath of the mountains upon it. It
is but an eight hours’ journey from Salonica, but, thanks to the
restrictions of travel and intercourse, wholly free of a Levantine
atmosphere. It is peopled principally by Arnauts--as the Turks call the
Albanians--and Slavs, both men of character, though their morals are of
a peculiar code. These Albanians and Slavs are natural enemies, and of
the Slavs again there are Bulgarians and Servians, not good friends.
The Kossovo vilayet, of which Uskub is the capital, has been described
as a prolongation of Albania, Servia, and Bulgaria. The provincial
delimitations of Turkey were undoubtedly designed with a view to
encompassing under the same administration as many hostile elements as
possible.

The differences between the Servians and the Bulgarians of Macedonia
are almost entirely a matter of education. The two races have long
since forgotten the enmity of their ancient emperors, and in five
centuries of similar suffering under a mutual monarch they have at
heart but one desire. They have become assimilated to an extent in
these ages, and in some sections it is difficult to determine one
from the other. Their language, here where the two races blend, can
be spoken of as one. They have duplicate religions, similar ideas,
identical customs. The peasants dress alike, and only the partisans and
propagandists are distinguishable by their attire. A European cut of
clothes is worn by those who attend the Bulgarian gymnasium, while a
military jacket attests the adherents of the rival school.

At one time, prior to 1878, the territorial ambition of the Servians
and that of the Bulgarians did not clash. The Servians aspired to a
confederation of all Serbs, hoping for the annexation of Bosnia and
Hertzegovina and a union with Montenegro. But the Treaty of Berlin
gave a mandate to Austria-Hungary to occupy two Turkish provinces
peopled by Serbs, thereby severing the two Serb States apparently for
all time. Servian nationalists were horrified at this injustice, and
frenzied attempts were made to undo this act of the famous treaty. But
all efforts were unavailing against the power of the great neighbour,
and in desperate fear of being shut in from the sea for ever, a petty,
dwarfed State, the Servians turned from the Adriatic and faced the
Ægean, and sought to acquire a right of way by that route to the world
at large.

Notwithstanding the fact that in Macedonia only what is known as Old
Servia--that section of Kossovo between Uskub and Servia proper--is
extensively peopled by Serbs, Servian patriots laid claim to all the
Slav elements in the districts to the south, straight away to the
coast, arguing that the Bulgarians, originally a Tartar people, had
been assimilated by the Slavs. The Servians spread their schools
beyond the territory rightly theirs, establishing gymnasiums in
Salonica and Monastir to compete with the Greeks and Bulgarians in
converting the population. But below Old Servia, only purchased support
of their cause was forthcoming from the people, and nowhere south of
Uskub did the Servian campaign seriously worry the two big propagandas.

This business of cornering communities is expensive, and little Servia
would hardly have been able to cast her claims so far except with
monetary aid from one of the ‘interested Powers,’ and the support
of that Power’s agents in the distressed land. When the Bulgarians
began to show an independent spirit, and diplomatic connections with
Russia--which assumed the form of a dictatorship on the part of the
boasted liberator--came to be severed for a term of years, that
‘interested’ Power adopted Servia as its ward, and is still at work
disciplining the other little country that dared to dispute its honesty
of motive. Russia among the Balkan States does a work similar to that
of the Sultan in Macedonia; she aids the weak to rival the strong,
fosters their jealousies, and maintains a dominant influence on the
distress she begets; and, unlike the Sultan, she does this in the guise
of Christian sympathy.

In Uskub the Russian Consul, for ever attired in military greatcoat and
Muscovite cap, and always accompanied by a brace of stalwart bodyguards
bristling with weapons, snubs the retiring little Bulgarian agent, and
on all occasions bestows his pretentious patronage upon the Servian
representative. It was at Russian suggestion that the Servian schools
adopted a distinctive uniform, after the manner of Russians in Finland
and in other lands they have hoped to Russify.

The Austro-Russian accord on Macedonian affairs resembles a thieves’
alliance--without that saving grace, however, the proverbial honour
that exists among thieves. For centuries these partners of the present
have been loitering around the gates of the European estate of the
Ottoman gentleman with the many wives and the torture-chamber. One of
these interested neighbours has been in the habit of rushing in to the
rescue whenever a Christian cry escaped the Bluebeard’s window--always
attempting to get away with something; the other, not so daring, but
quite as designing, waited without the walls and made his burly rival
return the booty or compensate him (the other) under threat of the
police. Three years ago this worthy pair allied agreed to rob the house
no more, but planned to enter--and reform it!--and received a mandate
so to do from the European Powers. But, in spite of the pretensions
of these confederates, neither has forsaken his pet policy, which is
directly opposed to that of the other. While the gallant Russian is
engaged advocating the cause of the Serbs, his Austrian ally-in-reforms
is diligently at work advancing the interests of a rival race.

The Roman Catholic church at Uskub, a feature of the Austrian
propaganda, was decorated one dusty summer day with garlands of
mountain flowers and many flags. A vast Mohamedan banner floated from
one side of the Christian belfry and an equally large emblem of the
Dual Monarchy from the other; and strings of little flags, alternately
Turkish and Austro-Hungarian, streamed away from the tower to the high
mud walls about the churchyard. Over the door, where only the Catholics
who entered could see, hung a large print of Francis Joseph much
bemedalled, and none was visible of Abdul Hamid.

It was the feast of Corpus Christi, and the Englishman and I, attracted
by the Albanians converging upon the place from all directions,
betook ourselves to witness the celebration. The darkened church
was aglow with many candles around the crucified Christ, and the
fourteen ‘stations of the Cross,’ set like little chapels about the
churchyard, contained life-sized pictures of the Saviour’s labour to
the Crucifixion. During the indoor service the Albanian women, veiled
like their Mohamedan sisters, occupied one side of the church, and the
men the other. In the pew of honour sat the Austrian reformajis in
full feather, the brilliant uniform of Count de Salis, chief of the
gendarmerie contingent, relieved and glorified by a Salonica frock-coat
covering the venerable person of the Christian Vali, who sat next.
This decrepit representative of the Sultan was playing a game similar
to that of the gaily garbed gendarmes. He was selected by the Porte
several years ago as a co-governor with the Turkish Vali because
of general incapacity and indifference to affairs. His duties were
ostensibly to reform the province, but he was incapable of performing
them or he would not have received the appointment. This day he was
displaying the Christian sympathy of his Sultanic master, just as the
Austrians flaunted their religious zeal before the Catholic Albanians.

At the conclusion of the indoor service on Corpus Christi day, priests
and people left the church chanting, each carrying a lighted candle,
and made a tour of the ‘stations,’ kneeling and praying a few moments
at each. Little flower-girls, dressed in gayest _shalvas_, preceded the
procession scattering rose-leaves. Two proud Albanian boys swung the
incense lamps, and four others bore a panoply of silk over the heads of
the priests. First behind the priests came the Count and the Christian
Vali, and then followed the Austrian Consul and other Austrian officers
and the people. The ordeal of kneeling in the grass was trying to
the trousers of the Count and painful to the rheumatic limbs of the
venerable Christian Vali, whom the Count was required to assist to his
feet on each occasion.

It was a windy day, and the candles, borne gingerly at arm’s length,
sputtered, and spattered the gorgeous uniform and the ample frock-coat.
The delegates at their divine duties, wore on their faces, I must say,
most unholy expressions, and at the conclusion of the ceremony the poor
old Christian with the fez presented the appearance of having eaten
his supper without stuffing the end of a napkin in his collar. Religion
and politics make an unhappy mixture; they war within one like custard
and cucumbers.

The presence of two unsympathetic newspaper correspondents, standing
by at this ceremony, appeared to annoy the official party, and for
some time after that ‘the two English correspondents’ (of whom I was
one) were severely snubbed by the Austrian officers. An imaginary but
effective barrier was thrown across the middle of the dinner-table,
dividing the Englishmen and the Russians from the Austrians and the
Jews, mostly Vienna correspondents.

But there came a day when the latter, overwhelmed by curiosity, were
forced to fraternise again.

A strange female of daring demeanour, unheralded and alone, appeared at
the hotel. Her species had never been seen before in Uskub. Her skirt
was shockingly short, and contained a hip-pocket, from which the blued
butt of a Colt’s 44 protruded. Her hat was a duplicate of mine, and all
her other garments were more like a man’s than a woman’s. Fast on her
heels arrived the ubiquitous policeman with his compliments and his
veiled demands for information. She possessed a _teskeré_, and gave it
to him, but he was not content with this, and would have her passport
with its big red seal.

‘Not much, my fine feller! You can have Abdul’s rag all right, all
right, but this here document belongs to your auntie.’

The gentle police understood her not. Nicola, the Albanian waiter,
attempted to interpret. He spoke a little French, but this was of no
avail. The Turk called in a miserable Christian (she must be Christian)
who spoke, besides Turkish and Albanian, Bulgarian, Servian, Rumanian,
and Greek, but not a word of any kind had he in common with the curious
stranger.

‘Of what use are all my tongues!’ he exclaimed piteously, as he was
kicked out by the Turk. One of the Russians offered his services.
His accomplishments comprised all the languages of Europe, including
English. No use. ‘The woman who speaks no human language,’ he called
her; and the name clung to her.

Nicola saw that the fearful female belonged to none of the known
races, so when she appeared at dinner he seated her with ‘the
English.’ She recognised me at once, and Austrians, Russians, Jews,
and the Englishman, who hailed from Yorkshire, seeing that I was
able to converse with the lady, at once made use of me to present
their compliments and make gentle inquiries. The pragmatical Russian
subsequently developed his witticism, and dubbed me the superhuman
interpreter.

Between meals the unknown prowled the town carrying a small black box
with a covered eye, which flapped at every native she met. Tziganes
fled madly down the roads, Albanian women took fright, covered their
faces and scurried into their houses, and even the Turk of habitual
immobility suffered a rude shock to his equipoise.

Now, the potting of a peasant and the hold-up of a native in the
crowded streets are episodes which do not disturb the tranquillity
of Uskub, but the visit of an apparition from Mars is an event which
does not take place every day. The stranger stalked through the
covered bazaar, putting the place in a panic for the time being, and
climbed the steep hill to the citadel, where the army practised at
range-shooting without cartridges--an economy in ammunition. There
she marched boldly up in front of the line of soldiers blinking at
far-off targets through the sights of empty guns, aimed the eye of her
black box at them, and snapped it. The triggers fell with a unison of
clicks never before accomplished on the rifle-range. An officer of
the garrison, who had been educated in Germany, and was accustomed
to strange sights, emerged from the barracks at a pace Turks seldom
acquire, and established for ever his reputation for bravery by
ejecting the interloper. The artillery barracks was next to receive
the spook, who was caught in the act of aiming her spell-box at the
cannon. She was taken into custody by the commander himself, the troops
refusing to obey orders, and detained until a fast rider could find
the Vali and learn from him whether this were not an Austrian spy in
disguise.

This was too much for the Turks; business was already at a standstill,
and the garrison completely demoralised. The Vali ordered out his
state coach forthwith, and with four outriders in the shape of trusty
troopers unafraid of man or superman, made his way to the British
Consulate. The preliminary compliments were cut unusually short, and in
less than ten minutes the governor of Kossovo got to business.

‘It will be shot, O exalted Consul,’ said the Vali, ‘if it roams
at large another day. I have assigned police to follow it for its
protection, but I fear even they will be powerless to preserve it. Can
you not persuade it to depart?’

The Consul tapped his head and rolled his eyes, after the manner best
understood of the Moslem, and the Moslem heaved a comprehending sigh,
expressed his gratitude, and took his departure.

Next day all Uskub knew that it was mad, and Moslem and Christian alike
bowed low in holy reverence as it passed.

‘Well,’ said my countrywoman, after she had shaken hands with Russians,
Jews, Austrians, and English, coming last to me, ‘you can bet your
sweet life I ain’t sorry I hit on somebody in this benighted land who
can speak plain United States.’

Uskub is ordinarily a quiet and sober town, and well might it be; it
is nestled in a valley of death. Tombstones are always the prominent
feature of a Turkish town, but Uskub resembles an oasis in a desert
of dead. Acres of them in general disorder, a few erect but mostly
toppling or fallen, surround the town and stretch long arms into it;
they flank the main road and dot the side streets, and far out into
the country lone deserted stones stand where no man’s hand has been
for ages. The sight is gruesome, and one’s mind is wont to picture the
many massacres that have made this sea of silent slabs. But a large
proportion of the graves are those of Mohamedans, and history records
no general slaughter of them since the battle of Kossovo, more than
four centuries agone. This is the explanation--Christians plant bones
on top of bones, but the six feet of earth allotted to the dead Turk
generally remains his until Judgment Day. In many Turkish towns you
will find streets turned out of their natural course to leave the grave
of a Turk undisturbed.

[Illustration: GRAVES OF DEAD COMMITTAJIS.]

[Illustration: THE OLD TURKISH SEXTON WHO LIVED IN A GRAVE.]

The old sexton of a cemetery in Uskub, who lives in a cave burrowed
under the ground like the abodes of those he watches, was in a terrible
dilemma after the American adventuress had snapped his photograph,
because she, a giaour, tramped back to the road over the resting-place
of believers.

On one side of the Hôtel Turati is a Turkish cemetery, and not
far behind it is a Christian burial-ground; and almost daily a
funeral procession passes the hotel to one or the other of these
burial-grounds. The body of a Turk is borne on a litter on the
shoulders of his friends, each of them taking a turn for a few minutes
as pall-bearer. If the deceased was very popular, and the distance from
his home to the grave very short, there is a continual commotion about
the corpse, friends giving place rapidly to one another as the body is
borne along.

The Christians do not carry their dead on their shoulders, but they,
also, convey the corpse on a litter to lower it into a wooden coffin
in the grave. Priests precede the funeral parade on foot in full
vestments, chanting as they march, and the friends follow the body, one
carrying the coffin-lid.

A strange sacrifice for the dead takes place quarterly in the Christian
cemetery. The peasants gather from far and near bringing cakes and pans
of boiled wheat, of the best they can afford, and place them on the
graves of the dead. Candles are stuck about the food and tinsel paper
cut in fine shreds arranged over it. Priests pass from grave to grave
praying with the peasants for the souls of the departed, and sons of
the priests, who serve as acolytes, swing censers. At the conclusion
of the ceremony the sacrificial food is distributed to the poor--or
rather the poorer--and lazy gypsies gather with many naked babies at
the borders of the cemetery.

Leaving the ceremony the foreigner is beset by these beggars,
especially the naked urchins. They follow one to the gate of the hotel.
One brat is too large to go unclad, according to the requirements of
decency regarded by the Turks, so his mother’s apron is tied around
his waist. But he hopes to elicit a piastre by cutting capers, one of
which is a somersault. As his arms and head go down the single garment
drops over them, and the high half of his anatomy is exposed like the
double-headed dolls in the Strand. But we give them nothing. We have
seen these fellows count their day’s collection, and knowing the day’s
wages of a field labourer in Turkey to be infinitely less, we give to
the latter. The Tzigane maims a brat, and by its begging the family
is supported. And it is the fool Christian who gives; it is a part of
his religion to pay by ‘charity’ the way of deceased souls through the
golden gates.

A round and ragged brown urchin who blacks boots before the hotel and
swallows the money he receives, bettered his position one day through
the favour his funny face had found with the foreigners at the hotel.
On calling for the bootblack one morning he appeared leading a blind
beggar. But nobody patronised him now, and the two departed jabbering
viciously. Next morning the brat was back again with his blacking-box,
shining boots and swallowing small coins.

There is a Tzigane quarter in every large town in Turkey, and it
generally stands somewhere near the circle of graveyards. It is
always the most squalid quarter, holes in old walls, shanties made of
flattened petroleum tins, caves in hillsides, serving the gypsies as
abodes. They are a filthy people, and a burden to the community. They
seldom till the soil, object to work, and live for the most part by
begging or stealing. They stand alone in the world as a people without
a religion, and their primitive instincts lead them to follow the
natural bent of man to prey upon others. They came into Europe on the
heels of the Turk, and remained in some of the countries from which
he has been compelled to recede. In one of the Balkan States they are
exempt from military service, as they cannot be held to routine; in
the others they are generally assigned to duty in the bands because of
their talent for music.

Across the old stone bridge, on the road that leads up to the citadel,
are many curious booths. A questionable character of doubtful race sits
Turkish fashion in one the size of a draper’s box, before him a pot of
writing fluid, several wooden pens, some slips of common paper, and a
pepper-box of sand, also a constant cup of coffee, a tobacco-box, and
a flint. Natives pass up this hill to the market place behind the old
fort, and on market days the man of letters is very busy. Christians
do not patronise his talents, for in every Christian community, thanks
to the propagandas, there are several peasants who can read and write;
but Mohamedans, faithful to the wishes of the Padisha, abstain from the
corruption of education, and thereby make the letter-writer necessary.

A veiled lady presents a letter at the booth.

‘From whom?’ asks the sage of cipher.

‘Our husband,’ the veiled lady replies.

‘“Most beloved of my wives,”’ the flattering fellow begins to read, ‘“I
am well. I wish you are well. The weather is well. The buffaloes are
well....”’ Here the wise man studies the document closely, and asks:
‘What is your husband’s name?’

‘Almoon, effendi.’

‘Ah, yes; Almoon.’

[Illustration: THE HORSE MARKET.]

[Illustration: SWEARING TO A BARGAIN.]

The woman pays two metaleeks.

A few weeks later the same woman appears with another letter.

‘From whom is it?’ again the question.

‘Our husband,’ again the reply.

‘“Most beloved wife,”’ by way of variation, ‘“the weather is well. I am
well. I wish you well.” What did you say your husband’s name is?’

‘Almoon.’

‘Ah, yes; Almoon. Your husband’s writer does not form his letters well.’

The woman pays two more metaleeks.

Some time later she returns again. The intelligent man of letters
recognises her this time, and employs his trained memory.

‘“Most beloved of my wives,”’ he begins, ‘“I hope you are well. I
am----”’

‘Effendi,’ the woman interrupts, ‘this letter, I think, is from my
sister.’

‘Ah, you should have told me!’

Another hole in the wall, the keeper clinking coin--no doubt as to his
race, he deals in money. He charges a piastre (twopence) for changing a
lira, but silver coins are bought by him at current value. In Turkey a
gold piece seems to have no fixed value; but actually it is the price
of silver that varies. In Constantinople a pound Turkish is worth 103
piastres, in Salonica only 101, but in Uskub it brings 105, and in
Monastir 107 or 108. Obviously the thing to do is to buy silver coin
in Monastir and sell it in Salonica. Imagine getting twenty-three
shillings in change for a pound in Liverpool, twenty-two in Manchester,
and twenty in London!

Over the opening of a larger booth bunches of blood-coloured skull-caps
hang by long black or blue tassels a foot or more in length, resembling
at no great distance the scalps and scalp-locks of Red Indians. White
Albanian caps and Turkish fezzes are also on sale, and a row of heavy
brass blocks, like closed mouth of cannon, line the front of this
formidable-looking shop. These last are presses for fezzes, which are
put in shape for two metaleeks.

Lemonade booths, faced with rows of huge bottles containing green,
red, and yellow drinks--limes, blood oranges, and lemons corking the
respective bottles--and other permanent shops line the hill road and
flank the covered bazaars. But the real fair is held only once a week
on the open space above, where the Turkish garrison performs its silent
target practice.

Tuesday is the market day in Uskub, and the scene behind the ancient
fortress above the Vardar, in view of the surrounding country for
many miles, is alone worth going to Turkey to see. The vast hilltop
is littered with native goods for sale or exchange, and crowded with
men and women in gay and gruesome garbs. Albanian shepherds and their
lean dogs mind flocks of fat-tailed sheep, their spectral wives,
in faded ghost gowns, sit selling hand-worked waistcoats of gaudy
hue; Christian peasants who have come afoot or on asses or driving
primitive ox-carts, display all sorts of country commodities, from new
grain to ice (in the summer time) from the white peaks in the distance;
Turks have a little rough lumber (there is not much in Macedonia); and
Turkish soldiers, among the most ragged men in the concourse, dispose
of horses, old boots, hunks of bread, gathered--who knows how? Tziganes
are always on the horse market. A photograph shows a bargain being
made, a third man, a Turk, swearing a Bulgarian and a gypsy to an
exchange of cows.

       *       *       *       *       *

Our defeat at Istip had not been forgotten. Since then we had awaited
only a reasonable excuse for taking a reasonable risk. One of the
Austrians came in with the account of a combat between a Servian band
and a Turkish regiment, which had taken place two days before at a
spot in the mountains above a hamlet named Pschtinia, several hours’
ride towards the Bulgarian border. This was justification for breaking
the Turks’ cordon about us. Our papers had sent us many miles at heavy
expense, and we must have exclusive news. Better reading, to be sure,
is the cool, considered report of reports written at headquarters,
but the true correspondent always prefers to date his stuff at the
firing-line.

To assure ourselves that we were taking no unnecessary risk, that there
was no chance of securing permission to seek the scene of this fight,
we called on the Governor-General, who had duped and deceived us many
times--no doubt to his quiet satisfaction, though he was always too
much of a gentleman to display delight in our dilemma.

‘Ah,’ said Hussein Hilmi Pasha, as we sipped his coffee, ‘you went to
Istip, and were prevented from visiting Garbintzi. I sent orders to
turn you back. As I have often told you, effendi, it is dangerous in
the interior; one cannot say where a “brigand”’--his excellency meant
a Bulgarian insurgent--‘may be lurking to shoot the European. I have
letters from the chiefs threatening to kill a consul. As you know, they
hope to make trouble for us with the Powers.’

‘But, excellency, you may give us an escort.’

‘Even with escort one is unsafe. They can fire at you from a mountain
side high up above. They are fiends, these brigands; they do not care
if they are killed themselves.’

‘But we were permitted to cross a most lawless section of the country,
and were stopped only when we sought to visit the scene of a fight.
Surely, your excellency, this is a mistaken policy on your part; we
must gather that there is something to hide from correspondents.’ We
had put down this argument before.

‘There is nothing to hide. Come to me, and I shall tell you the truth
about all affairs. But I can permit no more travelling in the interior.’

The same old story. We left the pasha’s presence pretending
disappointment. But his threat of Bulgarian ‘brigands’ did not disturb
us, and we were willing to take the chance of encountering Albanians.
We were going to Pschtinia. The game was not difficult; it required
simply coolness and courage and a knowledge of the ways of the Turk.
The Englishman possessed sufficient of the first two requisites, and I
had dealt with the Ottoman authorities for more than a year.

Late that evening we sent our dragoman for a Turkish coachman, and
hired him to be on hand the following morning at nine o’clock, Turkish
time, to take us to Kalkandele, an Albanian town about the same
distance off as is Pschtinia, but in the opposite direction. We knew
the native coachman’s ways.

A jingle of many bells announced the arrival of our carriage next
morning at ten o’clock Turkish (about 5.30), the hour at which we
planned to leave. The bells were for the purpose of warning other
vehicles coming the opposite way along steep roads, but they would also
have the effect of disturbing sleeping guardhouses and apprising them
of the fact that we were bound on a country journey. The danger of
collision was the minor risk, and we ordered the driver to relieve his
ponies of their noisy necklaces. The Turk protested, and commenced to
discuss the matter, but there was no time for argument. Having got the
bells safe under a seat, we told him to drive to Pschtinia.

‘You hired me to go to Kalkandele.’

‘We have changed our minds.’

‘But I have told the police you were going to Kalkandele.’

Exactly; and without doubt the first guardhouse on the road to the west
had instructions to turn us back.

Our Turk soon learned that we were no meek and native Christians, and
rather than lose his job altogether he obeyed our commands. We drove
quietly through the deserted streets, the ponies’ hoofs pattering
softly in the thick cushion of dust, the lucky beads on their harness
rattling, one wheel of our shandrydan maintaining a rhythmic creak--but
no one speaking. Drowsy patrols who had fallen asleep by the wayside
looked up from the corners as we drove by, but our Turk on the box
served us as a passport. Even the guardhouse at the far side of the
Vardar was content to let us pass at this sleepy hour, seeing that our
team was not equipped with country bells. We passed under the barracks
observed only by the sentinel on the crest of the cliff, who blinked
his heavy eyes and stared stupidly down like a waking owl, his head
swinging a mechanical half-circle as we came into view and passed out
again. A mile and a half through a million gravestones, stretching
from the crooked roadway on either side across the sweep of a broad
plateau--this was nerve-racking. We were in full view from the citadel,
the barracks, the Konak, and several minarets--a black beetle crawling
along a crooked chalk line drawn through a never-weeded prairie of
white stone stalks and sheaves. We urged the driver to lay on the lash
and crawl quicker, and we took turns in casting sly glances behind.
But the end of this drear graveyard came at last. We switched sharply
on a waggon trail to the left, and plunged into the hills, in a stroke
clipping dreamy Uskub from the scene. We breathed freer; we were fairly
started on our journey long before the guardhouse on the road to
Kalkandele had given us up and reported our failure to pass their way.

From time to time our driver became unruly, slowing his pace and
refusing to use his whip, protesting that his horses would not last
to Pschtinia at the rate at which we were going. We promised to let
him give them a long rest at our destination, to drive back to Uskub
at his own pace, and to raise his fee a mijidieh, all of which, with
occasional promptings, kept the horses to their fugitive gait. Our
rattle-trap dashed through the cornfields, terrified the peasants in
their harvesting, drew the shepherds’ dogs, and scattered grazing
sheep, rolled down the mountain sides, making desperate swerves, and
climbed up empty, assisted by its passengers. We passed Albanians and
Bulgarians, who may have been brigands and insurgents, and questions
were asked our driver, but he was out of temper and did not stop
to reply. We made Pschtinia at eleven--the wonder, only a trace
broke!--the Turk in a rage, and the sweat pouring from his panting
steeds.

We chuckled at the expense of Hilmi Pasha, and drew visions of
his wrath; he would permit us to see no more of the interior for
ourselves. We grew bold here and planned to march on foot across
Macedonia, from Uskub east to Djuma-bala, and from there on the
Bulgarian border to Drama near the sea, a distance, all told, of three
hundred miles, and you shall see whether we carried out this resolution.

The inhabitants of Pschtinia, many bandaged and limping, gathered
round us and kissed our hands, thinking we were foreign Consuls come
to inquire into their grievances. After the fight the Turks had passed
through Pschtinia on their way back to barracks at Koumanova, stopped
and beaten the peasants for having harboured the insurgents (which they
protested they had not), and carried off the headmen to prison at the
town. The old men insisted on showing us the welts on their backs and
bruises on their legs, inflicted by the Turks with heavy sticks, and
said that the villagers worst mauled had been taken to Koumanova to the
doctor, and were now in the gaol there.

When we had eaten of the eggs and brown bread, and drunk of milk
provided by different villagers, we climbed to the battlefield with two
guides who had escaped mauling. It was a forlorn place for a last stand
against overwhelming odds--a vast gravel dome, barren but for dwarfed
yellow shrubs, and out of sight of every human habitation, even the
village it sheltered. The band had been discovered some distance to the
north, and chased by an ever-increasing pack of pursuers until driven
to bay at this high peak. The insurgents attempted evidently to reach
a forest on a neighbouring height, but the Turks cut them off before
they could reach it. Little piles of stone a foot high, showing the
haste with which they had been thrown together, were still standing,
behind each a dark brown spot, a bloody rag or two, a scattering of
empty Mauser cartridge-cases. On the slope of the dome we picked up
Martini cases. ‘Turk,’ said the peasants. That was evident. The calibre
was stamped in Turkish characters. Holes in the pink earth, with bits
of cast iron firmly embedded in the rock, marked the places where the
dynamite bombs had struck at the last charge, when the soldiers stormed
the crest and the end of the insurgents was a matter of seconds.

Some time after the soldiers had withdrawn, and the dome was desolate
again, a few peasants ventured to the top. They found the bodies of
twenty-four Servians, battered and disfigured, and completely stripped;
the Turks had taken away their own dead. Not so much of value as an old
shoe remained on the battlefield. The next day the strong outfits of
the insurgents, which had come from Belgrade, were sold by the soldiers
on the market place at Koumanova. The peasants of Pschtinia rolled the
bodies in coarse striped buffalo blankets, carried them down to the
village, and buried them in the cemetery, the village priest performing
the burial service. A rough wooden cross was raised over each grave.
The villagers said the soldiers came back to Pschtinia and tore the
crosses down; but they reared them again when the Turks were gone.

‘Are you Servians?’ we asked the peasants.

‘Bulgarians, effendi.’

‘Then this band was an enemy to your party?’

‘But they were Christians.’

On descending to the village we found our Turk already harnessing his
team. He had been fed, and so had his horses, and they were all in a
more tractable mood. The villagers, hale and halt, gathered around our
carriage as we prepared to start, and poured forth their blessings on
our Christian heads. Several small boys brought us dirty little fried
fish, about two inches long, as a parting gift. We took the fish,
rewarding the young villagers, and, as we crossed the stream, deposited
the smoky carcases whence they had been drawn wriggling an hour before.

Our driver took us home by a different route, more direct, he said,
with a great ‘something’ to see. He had noted that the Englishman
gave backsheesh, and was wont to put us in his countrymen’s way. He
himself belonged to the world-fraternity of cab-men, whose instincts
vary nowhere, East or West; but his cousin, to whom he took us, was a
Turkish peasant, a man who, when the spirit of war is without his soul,
is as true a gentleman as Occident or Orient produces.

In crossing a trackless moor to the road that led where our Turk would
take us, we lost the road, and for an hour wandered aimlessly till
we met an armed man with a woman who covered her face at sight of
us. The armed man asked the usual questions of our Turk, and gave him
directions.

It was five o’clock when we arrived at a great wall of mud bricks,
infinitely higher and better built than those surrounding the average
Macedonian dwelling, but dilapidated and showing long want of care.
The walls enclosed a vast irregular area, and entirely obscured the
view within. We drove round wondering and asking questions of our
Turk, which he ignored with a smile. Finally, we approached a high
gate designed after the fashion of that leading to the Sublime Porte.
Our driver stood up on the box and began a hallooing, which burst like
trumpet blasts on the still surroundings. It was some time before
a far-off answer came over the walls. The call and the reply were
continued, the latter drawing gradually nearer, and after some minutes
a man spoke through a keyhole not less than five inches high. Our Turk
descended from the carriage-box, was recognised by him within, and told
to wait until the key was fetched. We then peered through the keyhole,
and after a brief interval spied the inmate returning from the house
toiling under the weight of an iron key of robust diameter and a foot
and a half long.

The huge oak gate was swung back, and we entered, greeted with a
dignified salaam and a shake of the hand. There are no social classes
among the Turks across which the hand-shake is debarred. Deference is
shown superiors only in the salaam, a pasha receiving a lower bow with
an extra twist of the hand than that given a bey, and a bey a lower dip
of hand and head than a bimbashee, a bimbashee than an ordinary mortal
effendi.

The Turk who welcomed us was the keeper, and, with his wife, the only
occupant of this vast estate, the empty home of an exiled bey. The
house was shown to us by both the keeper and his wife, who, though,
of course, a Mohamedan woman, wore no veil. The house was handsome
for this part of the country, but depleted even of furniture. The
only pictures on the walls were common paintings on the plaster now
cracked and falling. The harem, where marble divans for five wives were
built in nooks, was filled with newly harvested grain. A bold rooster,
the only lord of the manor, cackled to half a dozen happy hens and
scattered the corn. We helped the keeper eject the usurper and his
feminine following.

A bridge, resembling the Bridge of Sighs, led out of the harem into the
dwelling of the exiled lord, bare like the other house. We climbed the
creaky, dust-covered stairs to a turret at the point of the roof, which
overlooked the surrounding walls and afforded a view of the encircling
mountains. A brilliant southern sun was setting in an Oriental sky, and
a train of three buffalo teams, silhouetted in the glow, crept along
the sky-line.

[Illustration: ALBANIAN WOMEN.]

Late in the evening we passed through the long cemetery and entered
Uskub. Lights were out for the night, and patrols paced the streets.
We were halted several times, but our driver’s Turkish rang true, and
we proceeded to the gates of Hôtel Turati, where, after much knocking,
Nicola roused from his slumbers and removed the bars.



CHAPTER XI

METROVITZA AND THE ALBANIANS


‘Listen, my brothers! You must be ready for the Holy War. When you
hear for the second time the voice of public crier Mecho, gather great
and small, of all ages between seven and seventy, and range yourselves
under the banners. Those who have blood debts have nothing to fear. God
and the country pardon them. The Seven Kings[4] are banded together,
but we do not fear them, nor would they frighten us if they were
seventy, or as many more.’

The clans agreed upon a _bessa_, or truce, blood feuds were declared
off for the time, and the Albanians of Jakova, Ipek, and other
districts neighbouring Metrovitza banded together, great and small, of
all ages, to combat the reforms imposed upon the Sultan by the Powers.

The feature of the reforms which gave them most offence was the mixed
gendarmerie. The British Consul at Uskub had suggested that it would be
sheer slaughter to create Christian police among the Albanians. But the
arrogant Russian, who at that time played first fiddle in the _opéra
comique_, opposed this view, probably for no other reason than that it
was English; and the Turks, who make game of mad methods, agreed to the
Austro-Russian demands with alacrity, and sent six Servian gendarmes to
Vutchitrin.

The public crier made his second call. Albanians to the number of
several thousand foregathered and visited Vutchitrin. But arriving
there they found the Turkish kaimakam had sent the sorry Serbs away to
a secret place of safety.

This was not a dire disappointment for the Albanians; they projected
bigger sport for the following day and kept the peace during the
night. Early next morning they set forth for Metrovitza, a short
march, to fulfil a promise, made a year before, to destroy the newly
established Russian Consulate. But, over-confident and swaggering with
pride, they boasted openly of what they would do, and when they came
to the Consular town they found the roads blocked with infantry and
covered by cannon. The Albanians halted, and the chiefs went forward
to parley with the Turkish commander: they were faithful followers of
the Padisha, doing only what he would desire. But the Turk could not be
moved, and threatened to fire if the Albanians advanced.

The Albanians did not believe that the Sultan’s soldiers would fire on
the faithful, and when the whole force had gathered they marched boldly
upon the town by two roads at the same time. They were met by a volley
from the troops, and, much cut up, retired. A body of them occupied
an old mill across a little stream which bordered the barracks, and
fired upon the garrison from there until shelled out. Then the whole
number, after collecting their dead--with the tacit permission of the
Turks--withdrew to their own towns. But the Russian Consul was not to
escape.

The garrison of Metrovitza, which was largely Albanian, sympathised
thoroughly with the Albanian effort that had failed, and, indeed, every
Mohamedan did. The Government had got more than it bargained for. The
garrison was sore and sullen, and when the soldiers gathered at the
cafés in the evening, it was to deplore the day’s work and to speculate
upon the Padisha’s will.

At one café a fanatic dervish, after working his hearers to frenzied
pitch, exclaimed, ‘And is there not a single Mohamedan who will rid us
of this giaour?’

‘I will,’ said a piping little voice.

‘You! Oh, no, you will not!’ said the dervish scornfully.

‘I will,’ repeated the other.

He was a soldier who had been in the fight, a slim, sickly fellow with
a sad visage. I saw him on trial at Uskub.

The next morning M. Stcherbina, attired in Russian uniform, followed
by a Cossack, two heavily armed kavasses, and a troop of soldiers,
officers, and officials--the Turks doing honour and service against
their convictions--went out to inspect the line of battle, the plan
of which, it was alleged, the Russian had directed. As the Consul in
great state passed, the sentinels presented arms--which the Russians
exact of the Turks. One Mohamedan, required thus to degrade himself,
lowered his gun quickly as the Consul passed before him at a distance
of three paces, and without waiting to aim, fired a fatal ball into the
‘infidel’s’ body. Then, flinging away his gun, the soldier started at a
mad pace down the slope, over the rocks toward the mountains of Albania.

The Consul’s retinue, surprised for a moment, were soon after the
fugitive, firing fast; but he travelled a hundred yards before they
wounded him. The Cossack claimed, and no doubt fired, the telling shot.

At his first trial the murderer was condemned to prison for a term
of fifteen years. Strange to say, Abdul Hamid is averse from capital
punishment. But the Russians were not satisfied with this sentence
and demanded a new trial; and at the second hearing, at Uskub (a mock
affair with the verdict pre-determined) the soldier was condemned to
death. Before he was executed the White Czar pardoned the murderer of
M. Stcherbina! But a few months later, not only the murderer of M.
Roskowsky, Russian Consul at Monastir, but also a soldier who stood by
and saw the deed done, and made no attempt to prevent it, were hanged
at Russian command.

The ways of the Turk and the ways of the Russian are wonderful and
similar.

The display of the Russian dead was truly Russian. The body of M.
Stcherbina was placed on a bier in a goods car, lined and completely
covered with mourning, on each side and each end an immense white
cross. This moving catafalque was dragged from Metrovitza to Salonica,
met along the route by Servian and Bulgarian clergy and such Consuls
as would participate in the demonstration, and opened for services at
the chief stations. At Salonica the body was laid in state in a new
Bulgarian church, from which there was a great parade to a Russian
man-of-war, Consuls all participating, Turkish soldiers and officials
doing honour.

The object of these proceedings seemed to be to impress Turks,
Christians, and Jews alike with the power of Russia. Alas! for the
power of Russia, the Japanese war soon followed, and its result
delighted Turks and Jews and many Christians.

       *       *       *       *       *

From Constantinople came a commission of holy men with gifts from
the Sultan and arguments from the Koran to conciliate the injured
Albanians. But they would not be reconciled. Abdul Hamid had kept them
armed for generations for his own purposes, had chosen his bodyguard
from among them because of their faithfulness, and now no amount of
backsheesh, or multiloquence about their transgressing the will of God,
would bring them to terms. They were going to fight. So the Albanian
soldiers were brought out of the Albanian districts and replaced by
purely Turkish regiments. More Anatolians were brought over from Asia
Minor in vast numbers, and mobilised at Verisovitch.

Those who knew the Turkish Government doubted that actual
hostilities against the Albanians would take place. But Russia was
pressing--threatening a naval demonstration with the Black Sea
fleet--and the Sultan fought his faithful friends.

Two small encounters took place. Of course the Albanians, badly armed
and without organisation, were easily defeated. The chiefs were made
prisoners and taken to Constantinople, where they were decorated,
probably pensioned for life, and made altogether better off than they
had been hitherto.

It is supposed that the Sultan ‘fixed’ his Albanian bodyguard before he
sent an army against their brothers, for had not his own safety been
secured, it can be taken he would have preferred war with the ‘Seven
Kings.’

       *       *       *       *       *

Metrovitza, being on the railway, was accessible without the permission
of Hilmi Pasha, and an Englishman, a Dane, and I went up to see the
battle ground. We were invited to visit the Russian Consulate, and
found a Russian kavass awaiting us with a bodyguard of soldiers.

It was not a far walk from the station to the Consulate, which we
recognised from a distance by the tremendous tricolour that floated
from the balcony, drooping to within six feet of the road beneath. The
Consulate was situated between the barracks and a camp of Turkish
soldiers, and on several sides, immediately about the house, were small
detachments of picked troops.

First to greet us as we entered the door was the Cossack, in bushy
busby, blue dress with large white spots, brown sleeves, leggings, and
many weapons. He was a moth-like creature, hair, beard, and skin the
same sickly pallor, and eyes of a dull blue. The kavasses--generally
swaggering--looked sheepish; they were Albanians--traitors, in their
countrymen’s eyes. But the Consul, M. Mashkov, late of Uskub, was full
of fire, actually pugnacious, and, so he told us, ready to die in his
country’s service.

A telegram arrived a few minutes after we did, containing a warning
that the Sublime Porte had received a letter from the Bulgarian
committajis, informing the Turkish Government of their intention to
assassinate another Russian consul. The object of this telegram--the
origin of which is obvious--I am at a loss to understand, but such
warnings to consuls come constantly from the Turkish Government.

‘They have killed M. Stcherbina,’ said M. Mashkov; ‘they may kill me;
but they cannot kill the Russian Consul!’

The Dane asked the Consul if he really thought he would be
assassinated, and M. Mashkov replied, ‘I expect to leave Turkey as M.
Stcherbina did. If the Albanians do not kill me, the Bulgarians will.’

But I am glad to record that our entertaining and generous host--whose
ideas and sympathies, I regret, do not agree with mine--was soon
transferred to Egypt, and got away from Turkey alive.

We tramped over the battlefield in the same manner that the dead
Russian had done, with Russian kavasses and Turkish soldiers for our
protection, and a Turkish officer who spoke French as a conductor. We
resembled a Russian commission, and the sentinels rose from the ground
and saluted. Every time we passed one the sins of my life all came back
to my mind.

       *       *       *       *       *

Albania is the most romantic country in Europe, probably in all the
world. It is a lawless land where might makes right, and parts of it
are as forbidding to the foreigner as darkest Africa. In the country
around Ipek, Jakova, and Prisrend, and even Kalkandele, the homes of
men are strongholds built of stone, with no windows on the ground
floors, and those above mere loopholes. At the corners of a village or
estate are _kulers_, towers of defence, from which the enemy can be
seen far down the road.

The first law of the land is the law of the gun, as it was in the Wild
West. But the country is more thickly populated than was the American
border in the old days, and men have banded together in clans for
offensive and defensive purposes.

There is no education in Albania--the Turks have kept the country
illiterate--and promises have come to be bonds. It is because the
Albanians keep their word that Abdul Hamid has chosen them as his
bodyguard. But the Albanian has no regard for the man he has not sworn
to, and, though the petty thief is despised, it is considered brave
work to kill a man for his money.

Albanian customs are dangerous to break, and are handed down the
generations unwritten as sacredly as are feuds. Some strange customs
exist. To compliment an unmarried woman, for instance, is provocation
for death. A blood enemy is under amnesty while in the company of a
woman. A woman may shoot a fiancé who breaks his betrothal or call
upon the young man’s father to kill him. If a man commits murder, and,
flying for his life, enters the house of another, friend or foe, he
is safe. This is the case, even if he takes refuge in the house of a
brother of the man he has slain. He may not remain there for ever; but
for three days he can live on the best the house provides. When that
time is up, he is shown on his way. Twenty-four hours is given him to
make his escape; after that the _bessa_ is over and the blood feud
begins.

In their national dress the Albanians of the North are always
distinguishable. The men wear baggy trousers, usually white, tight
fitting to the ankle. Down each side of them and over the back is a
broad band of rich black silk cording. Very often a design in rich red
tapers down each leg to the knee. A broad sash (over a leather belt),
between trousers and shirt, serves as holster for pistol and yataghan.
A short, richly worked waistcoat reaches down to the top of the
sash, but misses meeting across the chest by six inches. The costumes
differ considerably in various parts of Albania. In Southern Albania
the men wear pleated ballet skirts like the Northern Greeks.

[Illustration: THE ALBANIAN AND HIS KULER.]

[Illustration: ALBANIAN.]

For headgear the Albanian generally wears a tiny, tight-fitting white
skull-cap which looks in the sun like a bald spot. Some wear caps of
Ottoman red, from which a rich, full, flowing silk tassel of black or
dark blue falls to the shoulders.

The cut of the hair is peculiar. The men of one section will have
their heads closely shaven, except in one circular space about an
inch across. The single tuft curls down underneath the cap like a Red
Indian’s scalp-lock. Others will shave the top of the head where the
cap rests. There is reason in this; as the Mohamedan seldom removes his
fez, the heat over the head is thereby equalised. There are a dozen
other cuts, none of which beautify the Albanian; nevertheless, he is
always of striking appearance.

The Albanians are of pure European origin. They are tall,
broad-shouldered men, with fine faces. They are quite unlike any of
the other people of Macedonia, even speaking a totally different
language. While nothing definite is known of their origin, it is more
than probable that they are the descendants of the ancient Illyrians,
who once occupied all the western side of the Balkan Peninsula, and
were gradually driven to the mountains of Albania by the successive
invasions of Greeks, Romans, Slavs, and Turks.

Albania has never been wholly subdued or civilised. It was partially
conquered by Servian princes in the Middle Ages, and under them
attained a certain civilisation; but at the Turkish conquest it
relapsed into a wild state.

The majority of the Albanians have become Mohamedans, chiefly
because the religion carried with it the right to bear arms and
other privileges. In ‘Turkey in Europe,’[5] there is an account of a
characteristic Albanian conversion. Until about a hundred years ago the
inhabitants of a certain little group of villages in Southern Albania
had retained their Christianity. Finding themselves unable to repel
the continual attacks of a neighbouring Moslem population, ‘they met
in a church, solemnly swore that they would fast until Easter, and
invoked all the saints to work within that period some miracle that
would better their miserable lot. If this reasonable request were not
granted, they would all turn Mohamedan. Easter day came, but no signs
from saint or angel, and the whole population embraced Islam.’ Soon
afterwards, the change of faith was rewarded; they obtained the arms
which they desired, and had the satisfaction of massacring their old
opponents and taking possession of their lands.

Northern and Southern Albanians are quite different peoples. The
Ghegs and the Tosks they are respectively called. The Tosks are less
turbulent than their Northern brothers. They are ruled by beys, or
hereditary landlords, in a feudal manner. These beys owe an allegiance
to the Sultan. They receive their titles from the Turk, and unless they
do his bidding to the modest extent he demands, a means of getting rid
of them is found.

[Illustration: A GROUP OF ALBANIANS.]

In the North, however, there is not this handle to whip in proselytes.
A Catholic propaganda is protected by Austria, and, with the exception
of one clan, which is all Catholic, every tribe contains both
Mussulmans and Christians. This demonstrates that there is little
fanaticism among them. The clan is stronger than the religious feeling.

It would be difficult for the Turks to carry out there the custom
of disarming Christians. But the Ottoman Government has secured the
loyalty of Christian as well as Mohamedan Ghegs by allowing them
to pillage and kill their non-Albanian neighbours to their hearts’
content. They are ever pressing forward, burning, looting, and
murdering the Servians of the vilayet of Kossovo. The frontier line of
Albania has been extended in this way far up into Old Servia. Even the
frontier of Servia proper is not regarded by these lawless mountain
men. They often make raids into the neighbouring State, as they have
done into Bulgaria when quartered as soldiers on that border.

The Albanians have overrun all Macedonia. They have found their way in
large numbers as far as Constantinople. But beyond their own borders
and the sections of Kossovo from which the Servians have fled,
they are held within certain bounds. In many Albanian districts the
Albanians are exempt from military service, but large numbers of them
join the Turkish army as volunteers. They enlist for the guns and
cartridges.

The Albanian looks down on the Turk. You insult an Albanian and
compliment a Turk if you take either for the other. An Albanian seldom
wears a Turkish fez. Even in the Turkish army the low white skull-cap
is his head-covering.

Sometimes the Albanians show very little regard for their Turkish
officers. Once at Salonica I saw a company refuse to board a train
because some contraband tobacco had been taken from them by the
officials of the foreign monopoly that exists in Turkey. But the Turk
is different; he is fanatically subordinate. On several occasions I
have seen Turkish soldiers stand like inanimate things while their
officers pulled their ears, punched their heads and kicked them.

If they thought their Padisha in earnest the Turkish private and
peasant would never resist a measure of reform. But the Albanians have
always resisted reforms for the reason that reforms would interfere
with their privileges.

The disarming of the Albanians is indispensable to reforms in
Macedonia. The establishment of law courts in Albania was one of Hilmi
Pasha’s additions to the Austro-Russian scheme of reforms! If this
reform is ever applied, both parties in a case will go into court with
all their weapons, and the result will be--no matter which way the
verdict goes--the death of the judge.

Of late years attempts have been made by educated Albanians residing in
Bucharest and in Italy to create an agitation for Albanian autonomy;
but these movements have had no effect as yet on the Albanians; the
Turks are too clever at their control. Should a leader appear among
them who threatens organisation or civilisation, an emissary of the
Sultan arrives with gifts and decorations. If the chief is not venal,
he is enticed or taken secretly by force to Constantinople, where he
may be given authority over a district or province which will more than
compensate him for his loss, but where he can work the empire no harm.

There is no free Albanian border state, as with the Greeks, the
Bulgarians, and the Serbs, and the Turks are able to prevent the
Albanians from becoming educated. There are Catholic schools in
Northern Albania and Orthodox Greek in Southern Albania, but the Turks
deny the very existence of the Albanian language. The publication of
Albanian books is prevented and Albanian schools are suppressed. A few
years ago some of the wealthier inhabitants of a certain town started
a school to teach their children their own tongue. One evening the
professor disappeared. He was stolen by Turkish soldiers, deported,
and imprisoned. He was held for eight months without trial, and then
as arbitrarily released. He received the usual Turkish shrug of the
shoulders when he asked the reason for the outrage. This was at Cortia,
where the Turk’s rule is not merely nominal.

The position of the Albanians in Turkey is unique. It is in the power
of the Turks to subdue and govern them; but the Sultans have preferred
to give them licence and to keep the strip of Adriatic land they occupy
a lawless barrier against the West. There is no railway across Albania,
there is only one place along the coast at which ships stop, and the
foreigner is forbidden by both Albanian and Turk. The Turk protests
that he cannot afford the European safe passport across Albania, and
the Albanian has been taught to suspect every European as a spy come to
reconnoitre for a foreign Power.

A few men from civilisation have been to the heart of this romantic
country. In order to get there safely it is necessary to acquire the
friendship and the confidence of the chief of a clan, and to get from
him a promise of safe passport. Only on one occasion, it is said, did
anyone trusting himself to an Albanian chief lose his life. The man,
with all his escort, was killed by the members of a hostile clan, and
to this day a blood feud lasts as a result.

To take the risk of entering Albania without reason seemed foolhardy,
and as we never had adequate excuse, we left the Balkans without
fulfilling our earnest desire to cross it. We touched the country,
however, from the east and from the west, and encountered Albanians
everywhere in Macedonia.

We sailed down the Adriatic from Trieste, bound for Greece, the
mountains of Albania often visible, and we touched, among Italian and
other ports, at Hagio Saranda. The place has as many names--Albanian,
Turkish, Slav, Italian, German--as it has houses. The Austrian-Lloyd
steamer dropped anchor in the bay, and several queer, unwieldy
row-boats--small barges--came up alongside for a few boxes of Austrian
goods. The ship lay at anchor an hour, and we went ashore. The same
cringing, unarmed Christians, the same swaggering Albanians, the same
suspicious officials and ragged soldiers. The Turks bowed politely as
we landed, and asked questions. We were going down the shore to take a
bath.

‘This is a small town, effendi; we are sorry there is no bath here.’

We were not searching a Turkish bath, and we explained by signs that we
were going out to swim.

‘But, effendi, you have not sufficient time.’

We knew we had.

The argument lasted some time longer, until we broke off rudely,
leaving the officials talking. They did not stop us, but ordered all
the soldiers to follow and see what our object really was; and they
stood behind bushes and rocks from which they could watch us, and also
cover any insurgents with whom we might have rendezvous.



CHAPTER XII

THE LONG TRAIL


There was excuse for us to cross Macedonia. Twenty-five thousand
peasants from Turkey had taken refuge in Bulgaria, and no correspondent
had personal knowledge of the state of affairs that caused this
exodus. The Man of Yorkshire and I got together again and appointed a
day to start on the journey we had planned long since. We instructed
Alexander the Bulgar to appear on the morning with a pair of socks in
his pocket. Alexander had the temerity to ask the reason for luggage.
We gave him no hint. Alexander was not safe enough to be trusted with
the secret. Again we hired a carriage with a Turkish driver to take us
to Kalkandele; and again we succeeded in getting out of town while the
Turks dozed, bound in an opposite direction.

To Egri-Palanka, the frontier town at which we proposed to leave the
carriage and take to our legs, was a two days’ journey. We spent the
intervening night at a lone khan, miles away from any other habitation.
The Turk protested, and attempted to draw up at a Turkish blockhouse,
but by vigorous methods we got the horses past this danger spot at a
pace which did not give the Turkish officer time to make up his mind.

[Illustration: WAYFARERS AT A ROADSIDE FOUNTAIN: TURKS.]

Stable for beast and stable for man were one and the same at the khan,
and the Turk declared the Christian food unfit to eat. We had eggs
which had seen better days, gritty black bread, and goat’s milk with
wool in it. Alexander and the Turk consumed a quantity of heady wine
and advised us to do so, but we liked not the stuff. Supper over, we
stretched ourselves out for the night, one upon the table, the rest
on benches, the other alternative being the floorless ground. There
were no rugs for us to lie on and no covering, and no one thought of
undressing.

We had hardly laid ourselves down in this unholy place than the
‘plagues of Egypt gat about us.’ Even across the table from which
we had supped half an hour before they came at us in battalions.
Alexander and the Turk, insensible with drink, groaned and tossed, but
snored nevertheless; sleep, however, was impossible for us. We shook
ourselves, unbarred the doors, and escaped to the still high road,
which we paced most of the night. It was too cold to sleep.

Through the windows we saw the sleepers by the dim light of a taper,
tossing and fighting. This was some comfort to us.

‘I’m glad,’ said the Man of Yorkshire when Alexander the Bulgar emerged
much scarred from the battle of the night, hundreds of the enemy lying
dead upon the expanse of his sturdy chest, ‘I am glad all was not
peaceful with you and the Turk.’

‘You mistake,’ said Alexander; ‘we slept profoundly.’

‘Why, we saw you tossing all night long, and your groans were pitiful.’

‘Ah, monsieur, we drank well at supper; and though the arms moved and
the mouth talked the eyes remained closed.’

After vast deviations to ford streams and avoid bridges, we arrived at
Egri-Palanka. As we expected, a smiling police officer awaited us on
the outskirts of the town. Our escape from Uskub had been discovered,
our direction traced, and instructions to turn us back had been
wired on. After many gracious bows and compliments, the policeman
invited himself into our carriage, and never again left us until we
left Egri-Palanka. He conducted us to the khan, where he was joined
by several gendarmes. The polite chief introduced us to the others,
announcing that they were for our service and safety, and we all
salaamed and shook hands.

After a meal, a wash, and a short rest, we went, followed by the
gendarmes, to visit the gypsy quarter, the kaimakam, and other sights.
When we left the town to climb to the Bulgarian monastery a troop of
soldiers suddenly appeared to augment our following. The Englishman and
I could have outstripped the ill-conditioned Turks in a mile, but it
was part of the game we were playing to pretend to despise walking, and
we stopped a dozen times to rest, feigning fatigue.

The high road to Uskub was without a crossing, and when we departed
the following day, bound back the way we had come, the authorities
of Egri-Palanka seemed relieved and assured. Considering our foreign
susceptibilities, our escort did not surround us; it followed at a
distance of half a mile.

We pulled up the hood of the carriage--not because of the sun--and
hustled the driver. At every stiff hill we got out, to relieve
the horses and to get a sight of the party in the rear. They were
suffering, apparently, from the pace we were setting. It was extremely
hot, and we left them further and further behind. After an hour of this
we were quite a mile in the lead.

We had packed our few effects in shape to sling over our shoulders,
one sack for Alexander. At a convenient bend in the road we halted
our shandrydan, passed Alexander his pack, and handed a letter to the
driver. The letter was to be delivered at Uskub that night without
fail, and upon the presentation of it he was to receive his fare. Had
we paid him he would have gone to Palanka again to pick up another
load. This much through the mouth of the equally bewildered Alexander,
who was then dragged from the box and hustled through three acres of
standing barley before he knew what had got him.

It came off! How we slogged through that corn and down into the valley,
looking back, with the perspiration streaming off our faces, to see our
driver toiling away through the dust, presenting a large and discreet
carriage hood to the unsuspecting escort. Presently a kindly hill shut
out the road, and we struck our route by the map and the sun.

Three or four miles up the road the driver would come to the military
post already mentioned, where he would halt to feed his horses; the
escort would overtake him, and he would tell of our flight. A couple of
hours was the most we could count on before the pursuit was started.

What a day of dodging roads and skirting villages, of scrambling up
perpendicular mountain sides, and peering for Turkish patrols on the
red line of high road below! It was fun the first day. We made a wager
of a mijidieh, the optimistic Man of Yorkshire betting that we would
not be caught before the night. I lost. I was glad to lose--the first
day. We renewed the wager for the following day.

We spied a snug, secluded little village--Christian, because there was
no minaret--and dropped down to it at dark. It was Servian, and the
Servian schoolmaster gave us supper and shelter.

‘The peasants think you are Bulgarian,’ he said.

‘Committaji?’ we asked.

‘Yes,’ he said.

We told the schoolmaster to persuade them we were not.

There was little danger that they would bring the soldiers down upon
us, knowing the habit of the Turk to visit vengeance upon the town that
harbours committajis. But we learned that there were three families of
Turkish peasants living in the village, and this, indeed, alarmed us.
It was quite on the cards that they would trot over to Kratovo, half an
hour away, and come back with a cheery gang of Anatolians or Albanians,
whose habit in dealing with insurgents is to fire the house in which
they are and shoot them as they emerge from the flames.

So we sent our compliments to the Turks (Mohamedans must be treated
with deference) and requested them to call; which they did, and were
convinced that we were not Bulgarians. Nevertheless, we spent a most
uncomfortable night. We lay on the rough gallery rolled in rugs,
watching the fireflies and listening for the ‘fire brigade,’ falling
asleep from dead weariness and starting out of it at every sound.

We got away from the Servian village early the following morning,
taking a guide for the direction in which we were bound, but not
divulging our destination. We shook him off when we got the lay of the
country and were certain of our maps again.

About noon we dropped, as intended, into the monastery of Lesnova. We
sat down by a fountain in the courtyard, the brown-timbered structure
enclosing three sides, and over the mud wall on the fourth stretched
the valley into the blue distance. A palsied beggar in a filthy state
devoured food like a ravenous wolf, washing it down unchewed with
great gulps of water. The old abbot who came out to greet us said they
could do nothing for the man’s ailments; there are no doctors in the
country, and folk who become ill die.

Here we got the first news of events which had driven the Christian
peasants to Bulgaria. The story was the same we had heard so often
before; nothing new except the details of tortures. Of these there are
sufficient in later chapters; for this, the adventure of our long trail.

The monks gave us a good meal, and we slept for an hour on a
comfortable divan, for we were footsore already. The soles of my boots
and those of Alexander’s--whom we had now come to call ‘Sandy’--had
gone, and we were driven to native _charruks_--which, from their
absence of heels, caused me to walk as on eggs for many miles, and made
my insteps very sore. The Englishman’s clumsy foot-gear outlasted mine
by many hours; still, I do not believe in British boots.

Shortly after one o’clock we were on the climb again, up a decent path
for once, which led over a big hill towards the town of Sletovo. A
delightful town it appeared, as we looked down from behind a bush at
the top of the hill. It was surrounded by tents, with even barracks
to add a charm. The first sight of us from one of those tents by any
intelligent soldier, and our trekking was over! By great luck a trail
led off to the right, which seemed to skirt the tents entirely, and
we picked our way cautiously down it, concealed by a shoulder of the
hill. At the bottom the trail turned straight into the town. There
was another path somewhere to the right leading away; but how to get
to it? Just as we had made up our minds for a dash through some corn
we came on the connecting link, a dry watercourse, and we were soon
on the circular tour. But now, while keenly watching the tents to the
left, an ancient tower--probably of Roman antiquity--appeared on our
right front. Outside this, with his rifle leaning against the wall,
squatted a sentry, dirgeing a dismal Oriental lay. He was not more than
two hundred yards off, and commanded a view of our heads and shoulders
above the corn; but there was nothing for it except to go ahead. I am
confident that I watched that songster with one eye and the town on the
opposite side with the other. For five minutes our fate hung on the
balance. Our hats were unmistakable; no one but a man from civilisation
wears anything with a brim to it in that part of the country. Once his
dull eye was caught by our headgear we were booked. But the amiable
creature sang on, his mind probably back in Anatolia; and we dropped
out of sight to the next stream and took a big drink.

Late that afternoon a few drops of rain came down, a delightful
sensation to the parched and dusty ‘foot-slogger’; but presently this
increased to sheets of water driven before a cold wind, and for half
an hour we clung, soaked, to the slimy face of a bank, with little
mud waterfalls dribbling down our necks. Then the storm blew over.
The path, awkward at any time, was like a switchback skating-rink,
down which we slid and staggered with horrible swoops and marvellous
recoveries, to a boiling yellow torrent below, about as fordable as the
Mississippi in flood. We had hoped to do a greater distance this day,
but neither of us was sorry--though neither of us admitted it--that
we had to seek shelter on this side of the stream. There was an
attractive-looking place near at hand, but a forbidding minaret stood
high above the poplars; and we pushed on to the first Christian village.

We had slogged for two days, travelled for four; we were sore in every
joint and muscle, wet to the skin, and chilled to the bone. We began
to lose temper with each other, and vented our feelings upon Sandy. We
spoke seldom, except at meals, when our spirits revived, and in the
fresh hours of the morning. Now we were sour and snappish, and each
disagreed with whatever the other proposed. The constant strain and the
heavy marching were beginning to tell on our dispositions. And we had
hardly begun our journey. I was sorry I lost the bet. Perhaps the other
man was too.

[Illustration: IN A MOUNTAIN VILLAGE: BULGARIAN PEASANTS DANCING THE
HORO.]

The headman of a Bulgarian village received us with the hand-shake that
is the sign of friendship. He thought we were insurgents. They were
harbouring one in the village. Sitting on a wooden platform under the
low thatch of his roof, we pulled off our wringing things to the last
stitch, half the village looking on, absorbed and unabashed. Clad in
our ‘other’ shirts (which were fortunately dry), we scrambled through
the stable to an opening through which we could discern a fire
burning. Our host’s wooden sandals were not easy to keep a balance on.
With smarting eyes I groped through the smoke towards the ‘window,’ a
two-foot hole for chickens in the wall on the ground level, and sat,
feet outstretched towards the wood fire in the middle of the hard earth
floor. By degrees I made out the hostess hanging up our garments to
dry. The other man crawled towards me, and we sat coughing and blinking
at the native bread-making. A flat, round, earthen dish was made red
hot on the fire, then taken off and the dough slapped into it. A lid
was then buried in the embers, and, when hot enough, put on the top of
the dough. This primitive oven turns out a fine crust, but the middle
of the loaf is very pasty.

Sandy now appeared with an armful of wet things, and hung the hats on
a bundle of clothes and wrappings by the fire, which began to squeal.
We discovered that this was the youngest member of the family, fast
approaching a score in number.

After the row had died down we gathered that our ‘room’ was prepared.
This consisted of the usual mud floor and walls, with a straw mat and
home-made rugs to sleep on, and a couple of red bolsters. Here we
sprawled and supped under the interested eyes of a donkey and a bundle
of torch-lit natives who squatted outside the door.

In the morning our toilets caused much amusement. The assembly--which,
for aught I know, watched us through the entire night--was much
puzzled over what it seemed to think was an attempt on my part to
swallow a small brush greased with pink paste. It broke into a general
laugh when I parted my hair, being sure I was combing it for another
reason.

One of the patrols which was sent out after us--we learned
later--arrived at this village an hour after we left; but the peasants
had no idea whither we had gone.

The torrential stream had subsided into a babbling brook when we forded
it, about eight o’clock, and boldly took the high road to Kotchana. We
were weary of rough mountain paths, and kept this course until within
dangerous proximity of the town, then struck off into the fields--this
time rice fields. It was the season when the fields were flooded, and
the only way across was by the tops of the embankments, which held us
high to the view of anyone in the neighbourhood. We had gone too far to
retrace our steps when we discovered we were in Turkish fields. We came
suddenly to a dry patch of ground. A score or more Turkish women, their
veils slung back over their shoulders, their loose black cloaks laid to
one side, were working the ground in their gaudy bloomers. At sight of
us there was a wild flutter for veils--but not a sound.

We maintained our well-drilled blankness of expression and passed on,
soldiers three, single file. I was in advance breaking through the
weeds when I stumbled upon the husband of the harem. The bey was lying
supine upon his back in the grass, a great umbrella shading his face.
The rotund gentleman grunted, and slowly opened his eyes. He seemed
uncertain for a moment whether I was man or nightmare, but when I spoke
he knew he was awake. He scrambled to his feet, drew a great, gaudy
revolver, and levelled it full in my face. Of course I did not pull
my gun. I fell back, shouting quickly, as I had done on a previous
occasion, ‘Inglese, Inglese effendi.’ Alexander to the rescue! That
worthy, from a covered position in our rear, informed his Majesty the
Mohamedan that we were English, as I had said. That we were foreign
Christians was evident from the fact that we carried arms. The old
Turk seemed rather ashamed of the fright he had displayed, and, slyly
tucking his revolver into his red sash, stepped to one side and bowed
us the right of way.

This day we encountered many pitfalls. How we escaped one after
another seemed so incredible to the Turkish authorities, when we were
finally rounded up, that they seriously suspected we had come by an
‘underground’ route.

We were afraid that the bey would hurry into Kotchana and inform the
authorities that two strange Franks had passed, but as long as we could
see him he still maintained his post, watching his women work. About
three hours later, however, while we were enjoying a refreshing and
much-needed wash in a cool mountain stream, Alexander keeping watch, a
cavalry patrol of half a dozen men came up at full gallop. We had just
time to duck behind a sandbank, almost beneath their horses’ hoofs.

Towards midday Sandy waxed mutinous. He was a most submissive servant
while we travelled like gentlemen, but his spirit rankled under the
dangers into which he was led like a lamb. ‘If you are killed,’ he
would frequently remark, ‘your parents will receive much money, but
what will the Turkish Government give my poor mother?’ We had not been
fair to Sandy.

In skirting Vinitza the boy lay down in a corn patch and refused to
budge. The soles had again gone from his shoes, and now the soul could
go from his body. He was resigned; all Bulgarians must be martyrs. The
Turks could take him.

Threats availed nothing; pleading was of no use. Finally we took his
pack and carried it as well as our own, and promised to get a horse
for him, by pay or intimidation, from the first unarmed Bulgarian we
encountered. On this condition he struggled to his feet. Poor Sandy!
the worst, for him, had not yet come.

The peasants along our route this day were numerous, for it was
market day at Vinitza, and we had no difficulty in hiring a horse
for Alexander. Then, however, we became too conspicuous. We gathered
fellow-travellers to the number of probably fifty, both Bulgars and
Turks, who asked the usual innumerable questions. Sandy, in spite of
all admonitions, would tell all he knew to whoever asked. We heard
him say ‘Skopia,’ ‘Palanka,’ ‘Kratovo’ in his soft Slav way. We cussed
Sandy, and he lied. He said he had not told them whence we had come.
But he knew no more than the natives whither we were bound!

A party of Turkish peasants, much armed, spurned Sandy, and would speak
with us direct. When they discovered their dilemma their tone became
surly and insulting.

We passed through a long, narrow defile most fragrant with honeysuckle
and wild roses, and occasional cool breaths from the pines on the
slopes above came down to us. A sense of peace pervaded the place,
and, growing accustomed to our company, we enjoyed the relief of a
comparatively good road and no towns or encampments. But the pass came
to an abrupt termination, and there at its mouth sat a band of twenty
soldiers! For a few minutes things looked rather nasty, but our British
and American passports, with their huge red seals, were so impressive
to the ignorant soldiers that they feared to lay hands on us. They
asked whither we were going, and we replied, ‘Towards Pechovo.’ But on
falling behind the next hill in that direction we deserted our peasant
following and struck off on our own route.

This was the longest day’s track we made. We covered thirty miles
in ten hours; during which our midday meal was off a loaf of bread
bought for a metaleek from a peasant Turk. I gave him a piastre and he
insisted on giving me change.

We encountered a Bulgarian who lived on a hillside about an hour off,
joined him, and wended our way to his hut for our last night in hiding.
I owed the Man of Yorkshire still another mijidieh.

We slept in the open, under a tree; the hut was too full.

We rose very early in the morning and started off on three miserable
ponies gathered by our host from neighbouring mountain men. We had
hardly proceeded two hundred yards when we were challenged by a Turkish
post. A dilapidated blockhouse stood at the foot of the hill on which
we had slept, and our slumbers would not have been so peaceful had
either we or the Turks known of the others’ presence. The soldiers were
unofficered and could not read, and an attitude of assurance, supported
by our red seals, again passed us on.

The man who accompanied us to bring back the horses had just returned
from Bulgaria, whither he had fled leaving a pretty wife and six small
children.

‘Brute!’ observed the Man of Yorkshire.

‘Ah, well! One can always get another wife!’ said Sandy.

The mountain men had been able to give us only bread to put into our
packs, but as we skirted Tsarevoselo, the peasant--who could enter
the place without being noticed--went in and procured two large lumps
of sugar. Sweetened bread and cool water from a fall made our lunch;
after which we plodded on, until an hour after nightfall we entered
Djuma-bala.

[Illustration: THE TURKISH QUARTER: DJUMA-BALA.]

‘How long do you give the police?’ asked the Man of Yorkshire.

‘Fifteen minutes,’ I replied.

The first of them arrived in five.

       *       *       *       *       *

We had done half our journey--the hardest half. We were certain of the
rest. We expected some difficulty with the Turks, and we had much.

Sandy disappeared. We knew where to look for him. We went to the
gaol and demanded his release. And the Turks released him. They were
positive that he was the committaji who had brought us through their
country, and they refused to let him proceed with us. After discussion
by wire--which required several days--instructions came from our old
friend Hilmi Pasha to send us back, without our Sandy. But we refused
to go without Sandy. This deadlock lasted for a week. Meanwhile we
telegraphed to the British Consul-General at Salonica, signing the
telegrams in one instance ‘Moore and Booth,’ in another ‘Booth and
Moore.’ Translated into Turkish the signatures arrived at the Consulate
‘Mor-o-bos’ in one case, ‘Bot-o-more’ in the other. We were known to
our friends by these names thereafter.

The Consul visited Hilmi Pasha (who was then in Salonica), and got
permission for us to proceed with our dragoman. Hilmi had some hard
words for us, the least of which were ‘Ces vagabonds!’

We received a telegram in Turkish from the Consul, and took it to
the kaimakam for interpretation. The kaimakam read, ‘Monsieur Boot
et Monsieur Mo-ré, you may depart for Drama, as you desire, but your
interpreter must be left behind.’

We felt somewhat sick.

Another telegram to the Consul-General.

The reply came at midnight. In the morning we took it to a Christian.
We told him nothing of the kaimakam’s interpretation of the first. He
puzzled over the characters for a few minutes, then wrote in French,
‘Telegraphed to you yesterday, Hilmi Pasha gives permission to proceed
to Drama and take interpreter.’

We went back to the kaimakam. He offered us chairs, but we declined to
sit. He offered us cigarettes, and we declined them.

‘Kaimakam Bey,’ said we, ‘we are going out of here to-morrow morning
and our interpreter is going with us. Good-morning.’

We turned on our heels and left without salaaming to the bey or to any
of his sitting satellites.

The kaimakam jumped to his feet and followed us to the door shouting,
‘Ce n’est pas ma faute, messieurs. Ce n’est pas ma faute!’

An hour later an officer who had been attached to us during our sojourn
at Djuma was ushered in by Sandy. He came to present the kaimakam’s
compliments and to say that by a strange coincidence the permission we
sought had just arrived from the Governor-General.

[Illustration: RUINS OF KREMEN.]

We rode away from Djuma-bala with a large escort, and made our way
slowly through the wildest and most beautiful mountains I have ever
seen. We worked around Perim Dagh to Mahomia; spent a night at Bansko,
where Miss Stone had been ransomed; passed through the ruins of Kremen,
the scene of a wicked massacre; dropped down the river Mesta by a
long-untrodden path; crossed a trackless lava formation of many miles
that resembled a vast boneyard of giant skulls and scattered skeletons.
The trail was hard, and it took four days to get to Drama.



CHAPTER XIII

THE TRAIL OF THE INSURGENT


The Consuls and two newspaper correspondents cordoned at the storm
centre received comprehensive and accurate reports of what was
happening in the surrounding country through a secret emissary of
the revolutionary committee. This envoy extraordinary, pleading his
cause before the foreign representatives at a hostile capital, was
a man of nerve, resource, and careful judgment, as well he had to
be. Besides his other accomplishments, he had a knowledge of three
European languages, French, German, and Italian, and was therefore
able to translate the official insurgent reports from the original
Bulgarian into languages understood of the Consuls. The contents of
these periodical papers were a record of recent activities on the part
of both insurgents and Turks. Combats and massacres were located, and
where possible the numbers of killed and wounded were given. The final
report was a summary of the summer’s work. It announced the razing,
partial or entire, of 120 villages, and stated that 60,000 peasants
in the vilayet of Monastir were homeless. Illustrating the report was
a map which had been drafted by a skilled hand and manifolded by
machine; a key in the corner explained the meanings of the different
intensities of colour in which the villages were marked, from white,
indicating total escape, to black, total effacement.

The dissemination of such information during the ‘general rising’
defeated the designs of the lawful administration, and, of course, the
Turkish police were hard on the trail of the enemy in their midst.
Hitherto it had been the practice of the Governor-General (who, like
us, had left Uskub for more active fields) to inform foreign consuls
only of such serious disorders as he could not hope to keep from
them. Until now the number of casualties on the Turkish side in any
single combat had been limited to ‘three killed and two wounded,’ and
the Imperial Ottoman reports invariably defeated the ‘brigands.’ Now
the limit of losses had to be raised, because of consular scepticism
as to their accuracy, but still no record of defeat at the hands of
the insurgents was ever permitted. Insurgent bands seldom numbered
more than a hundred; nevertheless, his Excellency Hilmi Pasha would
occasionally announce a loss to them of several hundreds. Invariably
such a ‘destruction of brigands’ proved on unofficial information
to be a massacre of non-combatants. It annoyed the chief officer of
reforms exceedingly that foreign consuls and correspondents should give
credence to the reports of the insurgents in preference to those of his
office. His worry, however, was only on the score of effect in Europe;
the tacit implication as to his veracity disturbed his excellency
indeed very little.

A square-jawed Servian of some six-and-twenty years, dressed as a
European with the exception of the fez, entered the Hôtel Belgrade
for a cup of coffee--one act which never attracts suspicion. The café
of the distinguished hostelry was otherwise deserted except for the
Englishman and me. The stranger seated himself near us, looked us over
while he sipped his coffee, then addressed us cautiously.

‘You are English correspondents?’ he inquired in a low voice in German.

‘We are,’ said my comprehending companion.

‘I have a confidential communication to make. Will you take me to your
room?’

We went to the Englishman’s room, and the Servian explained his
mission; whereupon he opened the door and called in a boy, not over
fifteen, clad in a Greek gabardine, and carrying a basket of eggs.

This was our first meeting with the agent of the revolutionary
committee. Of course, the papers meant for us were among the eggs.

For many weeks thereafter the envoy extraordinary and his youthful
first secretary delivered the incriminating documents, but seldom twice
in the same manner.

One day we received a message asking us to meet the insurgent at a
certain house within the hour; the case was imperative. We made our way
to the place indicated, and there received the revolutionist’s report
with the map already mentioned. The man apologised for being unable
to bring his final paper to us, and continued, ‘I must not be seen in
the street to-day. They have my brother. They came to the house this
morning while I was out and took him. The boy found me, and warned me
not to return. For me it is fortunate that my work here is done.’

We never saw the Servian committaji again, and do not know that he
eluded his pursuers; perhaps they were too close on his trail.

Monastir was thronged with Turkish warriors, Albanians, Anatolians,
and European Turks, soldiers and bashi-bazouks, hale men and halt men;
a one-armed soldier and a hump-backed dwarf carried guns, Turk and
Turk alike. The vast barracks was overcrowded, tents stretched across
the parade ground, otherwise seldom utilised, and climbed high up the
mountain behind the caserne. The military hospital was surrounded
by tents. A certain subdued delight fills the breast of the gentle
Turk, and renders the combative Albanian loyal to the Padisha, when
the native _rajah_ gives cause for castigation. There is glory for
Mohamed in the despatch of an infidel, and material profit in the
plunder reaped.[6] Nearly a hundred thousand Albanian and Turkish
soldiers were crowded into the Monastir vilayet to ‘repress’ the ‘armed
insurrection,’ and such resident Mohamedans as were not called to the
colours sharpened their yataghans and joined unorganised in the work of
the army.

With this force on the warpath the town became quiet. Such Bulgarians
as had not gone to the mountains became Greeks or Servians, and for
a time the race disappeared from the streets. Greeks and Vlachs also
kept close to their houses, and some days only soldiers selling plunder
held the market place. The army commandeered the better pack-animals
and teams as they appeared on the streets, paying for them in paper
promises--in consequence whereof all fit animals were soon kept
stabled. Honest toil ceased, and only the labour of the struggle
continued. In the early morning, before the town stirred, detachments
of troops started for the mountains with many pack-ponies, each laden
with four ample tins of petroleum. At night, when Monastir was still
again, the pack-ponies came back--bringing in the wounded of the Turks.

The revolutionary committee had declared the ‘general rising’ of
the peasants with less than ten thousand rifles of all patterns,[7]
a meagre force with which to contest the Ottoman authority, and a
poor result for the price that had been paid in men and morals. The
insurgents had been gathering arms for several years. Many murders
had been committed in Macedonia in the forced collection of levied
assessments, and some had taken place in Bulgaria; many massacres of
innocent peasants had been brought about in the Turkish search for
arms; many insurgents had given their lives fetching the arms from
friendly and hostile frontiers.[8]

The high chiefs of the committee never expected to defeat the Turks
with their inadequate force of untrained peasants; their purpose was to
provoke the Sultan to set his soldiers upon the Christians. They were
willing to pay the lives of many thousands of their brother Macedonians
for the accomplishment of their desire--the country’s autonomy. They
were fanatics. The Turks called them Christian fanatics, but it was
not only the insurgents who were frenzied; probably 40,000 men, women,
and children, the entire population of many villages, went to the
mountains unarmed. This was the general rising. And all the Bulgarians
who remained in their villages, and many other Macedonians, gave their
whole sympathy to the cause of the committajis.

The revolution was declared in the vilayet of Monastir, among other
reasons, because of a specific design upon the Greek communities. You
have seen in a previous chapter how the Turks at repression recognised
no difference between Greeks and Bulgarians, massacring both alike,
even though the Greek clergy had some assurance that Bulgarians alone
would be ‘repressed.’ The insurgents understood the Turk better. They
laid deliberate plans to draw him down upon the communities of hostile
politics. By capturing lightly garrisoned towns whose inhabitants
adhered to the Greek Church, putting the Turkish soldiers to death,
they drew the Turks in force to the retaking of these places, whence
they (the insurgents) would cautiously withdraw, leaving the ‘Greeks’
to the vengeance of the Mohamedans. They argued that measure must
be met by measure; Greek priests converted by threatening Bulgarian
peasants with the Turk.

A storm of protest came from Athens, directed chiefly against one
Bakhtiar Pasha, simultaneously commander of the most bloodthirsty body
of soldiers and the most rapacious band of bashi-bazouks, who put to
the sword and the torch both exarchist and patriarchist community.
With the support of ambassadors of the Powers, the Greek Minister at
Constantinople demanded the immediate relief of this general from
his command ‘in the interest and honour of the Turkish army’; and
the Sultan, always tractable under pressure, promised to punish the
offending pasha. Forthwith the deviceful monarch despatched a special
messenger from Constantinople to Monastir, bearing congratulations and
the Order of the Mijidieh in diamonds for Bakhtiar the Brave.

But there came a day when Abdul Hamid kept a promise. Two ‘Greek’
towns, Nevaska and Klissura, were captured by insurgents and the
Turkish garrison put to death. Some time elapsed before the Turks
saw fit to retake the towns, and during the interval the Sultan was
persuaded not ‘to further alienate Greek sympathies.’

[Illustration: A TURKISH BAND LEAVING MONASTIR.]

[Illustration: BASHI-BAZOUKS.]

At the approach of a strong body of Turks the insurgents retired, and
the soldiers entered the town in military order, blades sheathed, and
leading no asses laden with petroleum.[9]

But massacre and the burning of villages continued, and refugees
entered Monastir in large numbers, some coming in alone, others
travelling in companies. Several hundred women and children who arrived
from Smelivo, one of Bakhtiar’s ‘victories,’ were driven back from
Monastir by troops, though without further reduction of their numbers.
The news of this came to the Consuls in a very few hours, and the
Austrian, who was most active, visited the Governor-General at once and
protested; whereupon the survivors of Smelivo were allowed to enter
Monastir.

One day a woman among the refugees went to Herr Kraal and asked him to
obtain the release of a son, whom she had thought dead, but had seen
alive in the custody of certain Turks. The Consul caused his dragoman
to ascertain where the boy was kept, and on learning the exact house,
he called on Hilmi Pasha and stated the case. His excellency was
horrified at such a charge against a Turk. For what purpose would a
Mohamedan steal a Christian child? The Consul gave the Governor-General
the location of the house, and threatened to send his dragoman and
kavasses to release the child unless the police were put to the job at
once. An Austrian dragoman accompanied the Turkish police; the boy was
found and restored to his mother.

There was a Greek in Monastir known as a professional redeemer
of stolen Christians. Through the instrumentality of the Greek
Vice-Consul, Jean Dragoumis, this curious character and I were brought
together. I ascertained from him that he had, in a period of twenty
years, participated in the rescue of seventeen of his compatriots. Most
of them were girls and women stolen by force or enticed from their
own homes by Mohamedans. The most recent instance of this fortunately
infrequent practice occurred, the native alleged, during our presence
in Monastir. Two small boys were brought into Monastir by a Turkish
soldier and ‘offered for sale on the market place’ along with other
plunder. A subscription was raised among some Greeks, according to
my informant, and the children were ‘purchased’ from the Turk for
four mijidiehs. ‘Since Herr Kraal has protested,’ said the rescuer of
Christians, ‘orders have been issued that no more stolen children
shall be brought into Monastir.’ Jean Dragoumis himself, a splendid
young Greek, interpreted for me on this occasion.

It is always difficult in Turkey to know just what is true and what
is false. Even the peasants will attempt, for one consideration
or another, to impose upon the stranger. Sometimes they invent
or embellish incidents simply for vain notoriety, and again with
deliberate intent to prejudice your sympathy. The refugees who came
into Monastir from the surrounding country told some terrible tales.
They told of dead lying unburied by the roadway, where they had been
shot for no other reason than their race--which was undoubtedly
true. They told in many instances of dogs gorging upon the unburied
dead--which is quite probable; the hungry, bread-fed dogs of Turkey
would devour any flesh. They told, in one case, of children having been
thrown alive into a burning lime-kiln--which is possible. They told of
women having been flayed alive--which I do not believe; it is not in
the Turk’s nature to inflict lingering torture.

My companion and I saw among the refugees in the Greek hospital a
woman whose shoulder had been almost severed from her body with a
single sword slash; another woman whose hand had been cut off with a
sabre--the arm, she said, had held her infant, which was hacked to
pieces at her feet. We saw a small boy who had been shot through the
head, and a small girl who had been stabbed in several places. These
were the most cruel of many cases in the hospital.

On one occasion we succeeded in entering the Turkish civil hospital,
where there were a number of wounded Bulgarians. In a women’s ward,
where bandaged heads and limbs were in plain evidence, the dutiful
doctor, a Greek, informed us that his patients were all suffering from
‘feminine complaints.’

‘But,’ we said, ‘some of them appear to be wounded.’

‘Oh, a few,’ replied the loyal servant of the Sultan, ‘must have
attempted to commit suicide. They were found with wounds.’

At the barred door of a prison ward, through which we could see
bandaged men, we were told, for variety, that this was the ‘accident’
ward. We inquired what comprised accidents.

‘Some fell out of trees, others amputated their own arms while cutting
wood.’ This deviceful M.D. was indeed worthy of the Sultan’s service.

Towards the close of the revolution a Turkish proclamation addressed to
the peasants in the mountains was placarded throughout the vilayet. It
read, in true Ottoman fashion, in part as follows:

[Illustration: TURKS ON THE MARCH.]

‘There is no need to mention how much his Imperial Majesty the Padisha,
our benefactor and enlightened master, desires the prosperity of
the country and the welfare of all his subjects without exception,
sacrificing sleep and quiet day and night, thinking how to perfect his
lofty purposes, and therefore commands the execution of certain
benefits. Everywhere courts are approved and established for the
preservation of the rights of the people; for the guarding of faithful
subjects and the execution of the laws bodies of police and gendarmes
are enlisted; for the saving of life and property guards are appointed;
for the spreading of education schools are opened; roads and bridges
are constructed for the people to carry food and merchandise; as also
are begun everywhere various other needed benefits, and for this end
part of the local income is apportioned.’

(‘I have the honour to transmit herewith a translation of the
proclamation to the Bulgarians,’ ran the official report of the British
Consul covering this document. ‘The list of reforms accomplished is
purely illusory!’)

‘But some evil-minded ones,’ continued the proclamation, ‘not wishing
the people to be benefited by these favours, and regarding only their
own selfish interest, deceive the inhabitants and commit various
repulsive transgressions. There is not the least ground for the
lies and assurances with which the Bulgarians are deceived. All the
civilised people of Europe and elsewhere regard with horror their
deeds, which destroy the peace of the land, and everywhere--with great
impatience--the suppression of these enemies to peace and order is
awaited. The Imperial Government observes with sorrow that many people
still rebel notwithstanding that until now, because of its great
mercy, it has proceeded with marked clemency toward the agitators.
But since the Government cannot coolly see the order of the country
destroyed and the peaceful population subjected to murders and other
evils, it categorically orders the commanders of the troops, wherever
they are sent, to disperse and kill _most severely_ the disturbers
and their followers who still remain in rebellion. Therefore, for the
last time, the Bulgarians who have been deceived and have left their
fireside and their trades are invited to return to their homes and
villages, and those who do not return and run towards the mercy of the
Imperial Government will be punished and _destroyed in the severest
fashion_.’[10]

The rebels did not run toward the mercy of the Imperial Government,
but many of them, because of their privations with the bands and the
approach of winter, began to return from the mountains to their homes
or the sites of them, seeking on all occasions to avoid the Turkish
troops. I heard an account of how in one instance a party of some
forty men and a hundred women and children received a message from a
detachment of the army promising them safety if they would return to
their village, and with this specific assurance they ventured back.
They were met on the way by the Turks, and the men were manacled and
marched away towards Florina, where, the Turks said, their names would
be recorded and they would then be set free. About half-way to town
they met a larger body of soldiers, commanded by a superior officer,
who demanded why Bulgarians had been made prisoners. No adequate reply
forthcoming, the ranking man gave orders that the peasants should be
put to death forthwith. The troops set upon the handcuffed men, slew
them, and decapitated their bodies. The headless bodies, so the story
goes, were thrown into the stream. What became of the heads none could
say.

(A photographer at Monastir has, in former years, taken many pictures
of Turkish soldiers and officers standing behind tables on which were
laid the battered heads of Bulgarians and other ‘brigands.’ But heads
are no longer brought into Monastir, and the photographer has been
forbidden to display all pictures of this nature. I was able, however,
to procure some.)

On a visit to Hilmi Pasha’s office soon after this incident I took
occasion to mention it to his excellency. He was completely ignorant of
the story, and asked me for details.

‘No, no, Monsieur Moore,’ he declared when I concluded; ‘none of the
Sultan’s men would do such a deed.’

‘But your excellency,’ I said, ‘I know that the Metropolitan of Florina
called on the kaimakam and requested him to have the bodies drawn out
of the water and buried. The main facts of the story cannot be denied.’

‘Where did you say the Bulgarians were from?’ asked the Governor.

I consulted my note-book and told him.

‘There is no such place.’

‘Perhaps I have not pronounced the name properly, but the act of
treachery remains,’ I contended.

‘Ah, yes,’ said Hilmi, ‘the town was ----;[11] I recollect now.
Monsieur Moore, Turks never lie. With your pronunciation and the
error in the figures you gave I did not recognise the affair. There
were sixty Bulgarians killed, not forty. But the deed was not one of
treachery; it happened two days before the Sultan granted pardon to the
rebels.’

The inspector-general volunteered some further information on other
affairs, notably that of Krushevo. At first the Turks contended that
the insurgents had burned and pillaged the Vlach town. Now Hilmi Pasha
informed me that bashi-bazouks had done the work. ‘The officers,’ he
said, ‘tried to keep them off the heels of the army, but they were
many, many, and while occupied fighting the insurgents the troops
could not prevent the bashi-bazouks from plundering. I have had thirty
bashi-bazouks arrested, and I have just received a report from one
of my officers stating that four thousand animals, which were driven
off by the bashi-bazouks, have been returned to the inhabitants of
Krushevo.’

This statement was both an important admission and an interesting
announcement, and I sent it at once to the _Times_, for which I was
now correspondent. But a few days later on visiting Krushevo I was
compelled to contradict his excellency’s information as to the
return of stolen cattle.

[Illustration: TURKISH TROOPS.]

In spite of the efforts of the authorities to suppress the news of
what was happening, and to gull the correspondents, we were able to
collect much valuable information, and through the Consular post to get
our despatches safely to the Servian frontier, whence they were wired
to London uncensored. When the Governor-General learned--_via_ London
and Constantinople--the nature of the reports the correspondents were
sending through, he was much disturbed, and sought to frighten us out
of the country. He sent a communication to Mr. McGregor informing him
that he had received a letter from the committajis announcing that they
intended to assassinate a British consul, a British correspondent,
or an American missionary. The Consul--I use his words--considered
this ‘a step taken by the authorities in order to cast suspicion
on the Bulgarians in the much more likely eventuality of a Turkish
outrage,’ and ‘consequently reminded Hilmi Pasha that, whatever the
nationality of anyone guilty of a crime against a British subject, the
responsibility of the Imperial Government will be the same.’



CHAPTER XIV

ON THE TRACK OF THE TURK


A rude shaking roused me from my slumbers at the early hour of
4.30 A.M., and I discovered myself in the clutches of a tremendous
Albanian, a skirted fellow wearing wicked weapons. His remarks were
unintelligible to me, but he presented a card containing a few words in
bad English. It was from a consul, a man who gave me much assistance,
and read:

‘Be ready for ten o’clock Turkish; an Albanian which can be trusted
shall bring horses, and you shall be taken to Krushevo.’

I surrendered.

This was the morning after my interview with Hilmi Pasha, at which
I had received the Turkish version of the Krushevo affair. Was I to
defeat the Governor-General again?

My dragoman and I were ready when the guide arrived, and in less than
eight hours we were ‘taken to Krushevo.’

The Monastir Valley was almost deserted. Bridges were down, and we
forded the rivers. Occasionally parties of soldiers and bashi-bazouks
were potting at something, perhaps at peasants. Near Krushevo we
passed Turks on the road, some carrying short adzes and axes in their
sashes, as the Albanian wears his yataghan; others bore hand-pumps of
reed.

Our difficulties were not serious. We traversed the long plain without
mishap, and began at noon to climb the tall mountain to the Vlach town
in the sky.

A party of Albanians drove pack-animals to the ruins of a Greek
monastery half-way up the mountain, to gather the petroleum tins, still
lying about the walls. There were tracks of the Turks everywhere. Here
a company had camped, there a battery had been posted, across a fissure
in the mountain Adam Aga’s bashi-bazouks had divided booty; barricades
of stone where the tents had been, earthworks for the guns, the carcase
of a stolen ass, killed to settle dispute between Moslem claimants.
There was trace of the insurgents, too; a dozen Turkish graves on a
level bank, around them a score of black ghosts, the wives of the slain
officials.

We reached the ruins of the guardhouse at the high point in the road
and dropped into the wrecked town; there was not a moment to lose. Our
stay in Krushevo was of doubtful duration; how long we could avoid the
clutches of the garrison was a question. There was yet daylight, and
the use of the camera might be restricted to-morrow. A Turk saw me hand
over my tired horse and anxiously unstrap my kodak. He knew what it
was, and told me not to use it. But this took a minute to translate,
and my instrument but a second to snap. He was a mild-mannered man, and
instead of taking me in hand himself, he set off to the kaimakam for
instructions, and I plunged into the wreckage, lost to him for an hour.

Natives in long gabardines and fezzes emerged from holes and hollow
walls and followed me. A young girl spoke English; she attended the
mission school at Monastir. A Vlach home from Rome to marry also spoke
English. He and his sweetheart had survived, though they had lost
everything they had. The insurgents had made him pay fifty pounds
(Turkish), for which he held a paper note redeemable with interest by
the Principality of Macedonia! Another Vlach invited me to his home,
which the Turks had not visited till the petroleum gave out; it was,
therefore, only pillaged.

The doors were splintered where the adzes had been applied. The
house was bare, stripped of every rug. A rough wooden table had been
constructed of a barn door and blocks of wood. The younger members of
the family were sent scurrying to the neighbours. From one came a bowl,
from another two iron forks and a spoon, which had been saved from the
Turks. We got a supper, all eating from the big bowl, the family with
their fingers.

We spent the night here. It was a memorable night.

The house stood high upon a rock and overlooked the area of hollow
walls. Ruined Vlachs slunk in through the night, sat with us on the
balcony, and, whispering, told us the tale of their city. In the dim
light of a crescent moon they pointed out the Konak where the Turks had
been killed, the woods above where the spies had been executed, the
Greek school which the insurgents had used as Government offices, and
‘Hell Hole,’ still containing bodies.

Once the Vlachs stopped abruptly and changed the subject to England.
What sort of a place was Angleterre?

‘A pretty good place,’ I replied, ‘but you should see America.’

‘They are the same country.’

I reverted to Krushevo.

The Vlach who spoke English interrupted:

‘The man who has just arrived is a spy.’

The Vlach traitor knew he was known, and looked sheepish. He did not
remain long, and I got the rest of the account that night, making notes
in the dark.

This is the story of Krushevo:

Just after midnight on the morning of August 2, 1903 (this was the
day that the general rising was proclaimed), a rattle of rifles and a
prolonged hurrahing broke the quiet of the peaceful mountain town. Some
three hundred insurgents under ‘Peto-the-Vlach’ and four other leaders
had taken the town by surprise. In the little rock-built caserne were
fifteen Turkish soldiers, and in the Konak and private houses were ten
or twelve Turkish officials and their families and a few soldiers. The
inhabitants of the town were Christians, Wallachians (or Vlachs) in
the majority, and a colony of Bulgarians. The soldiers were able to
grab their rifles and escape from the caserne, killing eight or more
insurgents as they fled. The night was black, and a steep, rocky slope
behind the building lent an easy exit. The Turkish telegraph clerk
likewise escaped; but the Government officials who were in the town
died to a man. The kaimakam was absent on a visit to Monastir.

After surrounding the Government buildings to prevent the escape of the
Turks, the insurgents broke into the shops and appropriated all the
petroleum they could find. This they pumped on the Konak, the caserne,
and the telegraph offices with the municipal fire-pump, and applied the
torch. From fifteen to twenty Turkish soldiers and officials were shot
down as they emerged from the flames; but the women and children were
given safe escort to a Vlach house, with the exception of one woman and
a girl who fell as they came out. Whether they were shot by accident or
intention on the part of a committaji is not known.

The flames spread, and a dozen private houses and stores were burned
with the Turkish buildings. Some, I believe, were set afire to light
the Konak and make certain the death of the Turks.

In the morning the insurgents placed red flags about the town and
formed a provisional Government, appointing a commission of the
inhabitants, consisting of two Bulgarians and three Wallachians, ‘to
provide for the needs of the day and current affairs.’ Without
instruction all the inhabitants discarded the fez.

[Illustration: VLACHS.]

Three chiefs of bands were appointed, a military commission, whose
duties were drastic. Their first act was to condemn to death two ardent
Patriarchists who had spied for the Turks on the organisation and
preparations of the local committee for insurrection in the district.
The men were made prisoners, taken into the woods, and slain.

On the first day the insurgents made a house-to-house visitation
and requested donations of food, and later required any lead that
could be moulded into rifle balls. More bands arrived, and a number
of Bulgarians and Wallachs of the town joined the insurgent ranks,
altogether augmenting the number to over six hundred. They began at
once to raise fortifications, and made two wooden cannon such as had
been used in the Bulgarian revolt of the ’seventies. The cannon were
worthless, and were left to the Turks, who brought one of them into
Monastir.

On the second day the men of the town who possessed wealth were
summoned to appear before the military commission. A list had been made
(the information given by members of the organisation whose homes were
in Krushevo) of the standing and approximate wealth of each ‘notable’
in the community. As these headmen appeared before the triumvirate a
sum in proportion to his means was demanded from each. No protests
and no pleading affected the commission, and in every instance the
money was forthcoming within the time limit. More than 1,000_l._ was
collected in this way, and in exchange was given printed paper money,
redeemable at the liberation of Macedonia.

On the following Sunday the priests of both the Greek and the Bulgarian
churches were ordered to hold a requiem for the repose of the souls of
the committajis who had fallen in the capture of Krushevo. Detachments
of insurgents were present, in arms, and gave the service a strange
military tone. Open-air meetings were held on the same day, and the
people were addressed by the leaders of the bands.

During the ten days of the insurgent occupation sentinels and patrols
saw to the order and tranquillity of the town, and no cruelties were
committed. Business, however, was paralysed. The market place was
closed and provisions diminished; and attempts to introduce flour
failed, the emissaries to the neighbouring villages being stopped by
Turkish soldiers and bashi-bazouks, who were gathering about the town.

The news of the capture of Krushevo reached Monastir August 3, but not
until nine days later was an attempt made to retake the place. By that
time three thousand soldiers, with eighteen cannon, had been assembled.
About the town, also, were three or four thousand bashi-bazouks from
Turkish villages in the neighbourhood.

When the guns were in position on favourable heights above the town,
Bakhtiar Pasha, the commander of the troops, sent down a written
message asking the insurgents to surrender. The insurgents refused,
and an artillery fire was begun. Most of the insurgents then escaped
through a thick wood which appeared to have been left open for them,
but some took up favourable positions on the mountain roads leading
into the town, others occupied barricaded buildings in the outskirts,
and resisted the Turks for awhile. Two of the leaders, Peto and
Ivanoff, died fighting.

Peto-the-Vlach was a picturesque character. He was thirty-five years
of age, a native of Krushevo. He had been fighting the Turks for
seventeen years. He was made prisoner in 1886 and exiled to Asia Minor.
But benefiting by one of the frequent general amnesties he returned
to Macedonia, rejoined the insurrectionary movement, and led the
organisation of Krushevo and the neighbouring district.

At a conference of the leaders immediately prior to the Turkish attack,
Peto declared that he would never surrender his town back to the
oppressor; the others could escape if they would, the Turks could not
again enter Krushevo except over his dead body. With eighteen men who
elected to die with him, he took up a position by the main road and
held it for five hours. It is said that he shot himself with his last
cartridge, rather than fall into the hands of the Turks.

The natives put on their fezzes again, and a delegation of notables
bearing a white flag went out to the camp of Bakhtiar Pasha to
surrender the town. On their way they were stopped by the soldiers
and bashi-bazouks and made to empty their pockets. Further on more
Turks, whose rapacity had been less satisfied, demanded the clothes
and shoes they wore. Arriving at headquarters of the general, situated
on an eminence from which there was a full view of the proceedings,
the representative citizens, left with barely cloth to cover their
loins, offered a protest along with the surrender. Bakhtiar had their
clothes returned to them, and told them he could do nothing with ‘those
bashi-bazouks’--though beside him sat Adam Aga, a notorious scoundrel
of Prelip, who had brought up the largest detachment of bashi-bazouks,
and with whom, subsequently, Bakhtiar is said to have shared the
proceeds of the loot.

The Turks entered the town in droves ready for their work, rushing,
shouting, and shooting. The bashi-bazouks knew the town, its richest
stores and wealthiest houses; they had dealt with the Vlachs on market
day for years. They knew that the Patriarchist church was the richest
in Macedonia. The carving on the altar was particularly costly, and
there were rich silk vestments and robes, silver candlesticks and
Communion service, and fine bronze crosses. They went to this church
first. Its doors were battered down in a mad rush, and in a few minutes
it was stripped by the frenzied creatures to the very crucifixes. Then
a barrel of oil was emptied into it and squirted upon its walls; the
torch was applied, and the first flames in the sack of Krushevo burst
forth.

The Greek church was on the market place among the shops. The Turks who
were not fortunate enough to get into the church went to work on the
stores. Door after door was cut through with adzes, the shops rifled of
their contents, and then ignited as the church had been. Two hundred
and three shops and three hundred and sixty-six private houses were
pillaged and burned, and six hundred others were simply rifled--because
the petroleum gave out.

Some of the inhabitants escaped from their homes and fled into the
woods. Turks outside the town met them and took from them any money
or valuables they had, and good clothes were taken from their backs.
A few pretty girls are said to have been carried off to the camps of
the soldiers. But the Turks were mostly bent on loot. The people who
remained in their homes were threatened with death unless they revealed
where they had hidden their treasure. Infants were snatched from their
mothers’ breasts, held at arm’s length, and threatened with the sword.

Krushevo, with its thrifty Wallachian population, was the wealthiest
city in Macedonia. It was not many hours’ ride from the railway
terminus at Monastir, and, for the purpose of making this journey,
many of the Vlachs possessed private carriages. There were pack and
draught animals and cattle to the number of many thousands. The Turks
appropriated these, drove off the cattle in herds, and loaded the
spoils from the stores and homes in the carriages and carts, and on the
backs of the Vlachs’ pack-animals. Seven thousand animals were taken by
the Turks--and not one went back.

This work went on for forty-eight hours. The first night was
demoniacal. Three hundred houses were in flames, and dashing in
and out among them were yelling fiends, firing rifles, slashing
Christians who happened to be in their way, fighting among themselves,
breaking in doors, splashing oil and firing houses, loading waggons
and pack-animals. Money, jewellery, silver plate, linen, furniture,
bedding, clothes, carpets went away to the Turkish villages in the
neighbourhood.

Vlachs are rich and thrifty, Turks indolent and poor. They are pleased
when the Sultan issues orders to suppress giaours.

Krushevo was built on rock in a slight depression in the top of a
range of mountains. The houses were constructed solidly of stone, with
thick slate roofs all cut from the mountain-side. Hilmi Pasha had
explained to me that the ‘unfortunate’ conflagration was caused by the
explosion of shells, which, he argued, any civilised nation would have
employed in capturing the town. Every house in Krushevo was ignited
individually. The gates of six hundred houses which suffered only
pillage bore the hacks of adzes and axes. Soldiers and bashi-bazouks,
holding hands--as Turks do--still lurked about with their adzes in
their belts. On the walls, most of which still stood, stains of
petroleum trailed down. I entered one house through which two cannon
balls had passed. But there was not a mark of flame as a result.

The sacking of Krushevo made a deep impression in Monastir, where
the news soon arrived, and instructions came back to the Turkish
commander to secure a paper signed by all the townsfolk declaring that
the work had been done by the insurgents. A few of the inhabitants
signed from fright, but most of the Vlachs were not intimidated.
The Governor-General concocted a story to tell foreign consuls and
correspondents.

A strange fact which puzzled many was that, with the exception of the
Bulgarian church, no section of the Bulgarian quarter was plundered.
It was said by the Greeks--who tried by every means to incriminate
the insurgents--that the leaders of the bands bought immunity for
the Bulgarian inhabitants by a payment to Bakhtiar Pasha of the
money they had collected from the Vlachs. But this widely circulated
statement, which went out from Athens, could hardly be true. That
such a negotiation could have been conducted at such a moment is
hardly probable. The ranks of the insurgents were largely filled by
Wallachians; the insurgents had lost two hundred men in resisting the
Turks; it is doubtful that the leaders could have got alive to close
quarters with Bakhtiar Pasha; and most doubtful of all is that the Turk
would have respected any terms made with the committajis. The reason
that the Bulgarian houses were not entered is either that the Turks
dreaded dynamite or that the poorer Bulgarian quarter was not worth
plundering; perhaps both these reasons applied. It was well known to
the Turks that the Bulgarians, who are small farmers, sheep raisers,
and labourers, were miserably poor; while the Wallachs, who travelled
as far as Salonica, were mostly merchants and comparatively well to do.

The soldiers, having captured no insurgents, made prisoners of 116
innocent Vlachs, chained them together, two by two, and marched them to
Monastir, taking along a wooden cannon as evidence of their guilt. On
the road they brained five men. The surviving prisoners were at once
released, through consular intervention, I think.

After remaining in the woods for two days the terror-stricken people
who had escaped from the town began to return. They found bodies of
their relatives and friends lying about the streets, Turkish dogs, I
was told, gorging upon them. The people sought to bury their dead,
but that was not generally permitted. With some exceptions the bodies
were gathered by the soldiers and thrown into shallow trenches in the
streets. But this was done with no thoroughness, and three weeks after
the recapture I saw in a dry canal, which ran through the town under
many of the houses, thigh bones and backbones, ribs, and skulls, picked
clean. Many of the inhabitants had hidden in this partly covered ‘hell
hole,’ and some, driven out by chills and the pangs of hunger, had been
shot on emerging.

[Illustration: ‘HELL HOLE,’ KRUSHEVO.]

The drug store of the town had been sacked and burned, and the doctor
who owned it had been killed. A young and less efficient medical man
was left alone to care for 150 wounded. The Roman Catholic sisters at
Monastir applied to Hilmi Pasha for permission to go to the relief of
Krushevo and take medicines. But they had told foreign consuls and
correspondents what they had seen at Armensko, and Hilmi replied, in
Mohamedan fashion, ‘Those who will die, will die, and those who will
live, will live.’

I attempted to enter some of the Bulgarian homes at Krushevo, but they
were still tightly barred. The inmates pleaded with me to pass on lest
the Turks should come after me and punish them for telling tales. But
the Vlachs were bolder; they besought me to enter and see the havoc
the Turks had wrought, to see the wounded women, children, and infants
lying on the floors, their injuries barely tended, the wounds of many
mortifying, as the stench told too well. And men, women, and children
died from wounds not vital.

Each evening at sundown the awful stillness of Krushevo was shocked by
three long-drawn, triumphant shouts from a thousand throats. They were
Turkish cheers at evening prayer for Abdul Hamid, the Padisha.

We were mounted ready to leave Krushevo when a native woman came out
of the crowd bringing a small boy. She went up to the interpreter and
spoke to him in a whisper.

‘She wants you to take the boy back to Monastir,’ said my man. ‘She
says no native is allowed to leave Krushevo, and she wants to get her
boy to a safer place.’

‘We can’t do that,’ I replied. I was apprehensive about the journey
back.

But the woman wept, so I took the boy, and she kissed my hand. He
was about eight years old. He had no luggage but a loaf of heavy
bread, and he wore but a single garment, a gabardine. He sat quietly
behind my saddle and did not bother me much, and towards sundown we
reached Monastir safely. The horses picked their way slowly over the
rough cobble stones. As we wound into a side street the grip about me
loosened, and I turned to see the youngster slip down from the horse.
He waved his hand to me and ran like a hare down a narrow lane.

‘That is all right,’ said the dragoman, as we went on our way to the
mission.

We never saw the boy again.



CHAPTER XV

THE LAST TRAIL


Late in September, when the snows began to fall upon the Balkans, the
insurgents called a conference, and Damian Grueff, the supreme chief,
and many of the high chiefs of the Internal Revolutionary Committee,
met on Bigla Dagh. About six hundred committajis were gathered with the
voivodas. A triple line of sentinels cordoned the mountain, and for ten
miles in every direction outposts watched the roads.

The fighting season was over. The revolution had not accomplished its
purpose; all it had brought about was a beggarly extension of the
Austro-Russian reforms. But there was no use continuing to fight. The
peasants were beginning to return to their villages--or the sites of
them--and what arms they still possessed had better be taken from them
and stored in safe hiding-places for another year.

The organisation was reduced to a winter status, Damian Grueff
remaining in active command of some sixty bands of a thousand men in
all. The other insurgents were parolled until summoned again.

The committajis had hoped that the ‘general rising’--or, rather, the
suppression which they foresaw for it--would cause the Powers of
Europe to make Macedonia autonomous. They put most of their faith in
the sympathy of Great Britain, and in this they made no mistake--though
Great Britain has tried for a long time to sympathise with the Turks.
At the wanton suppression of the feeble rising it was the British
Government that advocated the delivery of the province from Turkish
control. Austria and Russia, on the contrary, and especially Russia,
urged upon the Turkish Government the necessity of a rapid and thorough
repression of the rising, and warned Bulgaria early and often against
entering into the conflict.

It was announced during the revolution that the Russian Czar and the
Austrian Emperor would meet, together with their Foreign Ministers,
at Murzsteg; and to this conference the Bulgarians attached much hope
until it was declared from Vienna and St. Petersburg that the interview
of the Emperors would in no way alter their Macedonian programme.

The programme was altered, however, as a compromise with Lord
Lansdowne. The British Foreign Minister, with support from the
Governments of Italy and France, proposed to the Austrian and Russian
Foreign Ministers, while at Murzsteg, that Macedonia be placed under
the control of a governor-general independent of the Sultan and
responsible to the Powers alone. The Austro-Russian alliance objected
to this, but, in spite of previous declarations to the contrary, agreed
to extend their scheme of reforms.

The Murzsteg programme, as the new scheme is known, provided for
the appointment of two civil agents, one Austrian and one Russian,
to ‘assist’ Hilmi Pasha; for the appointment of foreign officers to
reform the Turkish gendarmerie; and for taxation, financial, and other
reforms. The two most interested Powers would have employed only
Austrian and Russian officers to reorganise the Turkish gendarmerie,
but Italy and Great Britain insisted on participating in this work, and
each of them, as well as France, sent a contingent of five officers and
a chief to Turkey. Germany, in consideration of the Sultan, who opposed
this reform desperately, declined to detail a staff.

The Russian civil agents (the first was withdrawn) have both been men
with Russian ideas of government. The Austrians (the first of whom
died) have been without sufficient support from Vienna. Hilmi Pasha
remains absolute governor of the Rumelian provinces, and the second
Austro-Russian programme remains at this writing, April 1906, little
more effective than the first. Except in the district of Drama, where
the British officers operate, there is little change in the condition
of Macedonia. Soldiers and civil officials, left unpaid, continue
their work of plunder and extortion, murders are numerous, and minor
massacres take place from time to time; the insurgents maintain
their organisation, skeleton bands continue to roam the country, and
occasionally fights occur.

During 1905 Lord Lansdowne again pressed for effective measures of
reform. The Italian and French Governments again gave him some
support. Towards the end of the year Austria and Russia ‘invited’ the
other Powers to participate in an international naval demonstration to
wrest from the Sultan financial autonomy for Macedonia. The British
Foreign Office at once agreed to participate, and proposed that the
demonstration should exact also effective reforms in the judicial
administration of Macedonia, but the two most interested Powers again
opposed whole-hearted measures. Germany advised the Sultan to accede,
but would send no ships.

       *       *       *       *       *

After the conference on Bigla Dagh, the voivodas, with their bands,
separated, bound in different directions on various missions. Boris
Sarafoff, with ninety men, dropped south from Bigla Dagh around Florina
to convey news of the revolution’s end to certain other bands, and
to gather arms from the peasants. The band were destined ultimately
to return to Bulgaria, 120 miles away; but they were doomed to cover
several times this distance, spending thirty-four days, on the march
back to the free land.

They now avoided encounters with the Turks, travelled by night and
rested by day. At the limit of each revolutionary district the band
were met by a guide, who conducted them on to the next. They found the
local organisations, disarmed the ‘irregulars,’ and secreted the rifles
and munitions. They dropped almost due south, passing along the crest
of the mountain range to the east of Lake Presba, which Bakhtiar
Pasha’s forces were then ‘driving’; but Sarafoff, with several other
bands, slipped through and proceeded in safety down around Florina,
then up across the Monastir-Salonica railway, and north by a zigzag
trail past Prelip to the Vardar above Kuprili.

[Illustration: THE MACEDONIAN.]

At the side of the Vardar runs the railway from Servia to Salonica,
utilising the cuts the water has made in centuries of flow through the
mountains. At every mile-post along the railway was a military camp or
a blockhouse. Here was the first failure of the organisation.

The local guide did not appear at the appointed meeting-place, and the
band waited in vain. What happened to the peasant was never known, but
shortly after the appointed hour several voices were heard. Lest the
party who were approaching should be Turks, the insurgents took the
precaution to remain silent.

The voices became distinct, and the insurgents were relieved to hear
the Bulgarian tongue. One of Sarafoff’s lieutenants, named Detcheff,
also an ex-Bulgarian officer, was sent out to meet the newcomers. A
call of ‘Halt!’ was heard, and in quick succession the crack of several
rifles. Detcheff did not return.

The number of the enemy was evidently small, and they took themselves
off hurriedly in the direction they had come. The band were much
attached to Detcheff, and hotheads among the men were for following the
Turks; but Sarafoff, seeing the folly and danger of this, led them off
at once towards the river, travelling fast to escape possible trackers.

It was difficult marching in the dark without a man who knew the
ground, and the insurgents dared not light a match to look at a map.
Suddenly the band came to the edge of a yawning chasm. A stout rope
which they carried was unrolled and slung around a tree, both ends
trailing down the precipice. Two by two, one on each line of the rope,
the men dropped down to a watercourse below. Then one end of the rope
was pulled, and the other went up around the tree, and fell. The rope
had to be saved.

The insurgents arrived at the river before morning, but did not dare
to cross without a survey. They laid themselves down on an elevation
covered with a thick growth of shrub, speaking only in whispers
throughout the next day. It was a tantalising day, for every half-hour
a patrol of Asiatic or Albanian soldiers would pass at a languid
pace--and an enticing range--along the railway below. The hiding-place
of the band overlooked the river and the railway for about a mile in
each direction, and, with the aid of Austrian military maps, Sarafoff
planned his crossing and the route to be taken thereafter.

To the south, about half a mile away, was a camp of half a dozen
tents guarding a bridge; to the north, about a quarter of a mile, was
another, of tents and brush huts. Almost immediately below the band was
a narrow, walled waterway which carried flood-water from the mountain,
down under the tracks into the river. The waterway was now dry.

The night train passed south about nine o’clock. Then the Turks relaxed
their vigilance. And there was about two hours left before the moon
rose. As soon as the puff of the engine had died away in the distance,
two strong swimmers descended to the river with the rope and fastened
it securely from one shore to the other. This done, they returned and
informed the chief, and one by one the men climbed down through the
culvert and launched out into the stream. Arriving on the opposite
bank, they scurried into the woods. Four of the men, more fastidious
than the others, took off their clothes to make the passage, and
attempted to hold them, with their guns, over their heads. The Vardar
is not very deep, but its current is terrific, and all four, finding
that they needed both hands to the rope, lost their clothes. This
quartet arrived at the point of reassembling dressed in cartridge
belts; but they had saved these, their guns and dynamite bombs. Very
like Kipling’s warriors who ‘took Lungtungpen naked!’ The other men
suppressed their laughter at the discomfited group only because of the
dangerous proximity of the camp to the north, and made up between them
costumes for the shivering four.

The last man to cross the stream loosened the rope at the other side,
and two others pulled him over; and the ‘trek’ was immediately renewed.

Before day dawned, the insurgents drew up at a sheepfold on a
mountain-side. The barking of the dogs woke the old shepherd, who,
discovering the nature of his guests, roused his sheep and drove them
out; and the insurgents crept in under the low brush roofs on to the
warm straw. The insurgents took two sheep and roasted them whole for
their evening meal.

One morning, by accident, the band lay down to rest within two hundred
yards of a vast camp of soldiers. At sunset, the Mohamedans offered up
the three evening cheers for their Padisha, and the insurgents uttered
three curses upon ‘his Sultanic Majesty.’

It had come to be known to the Turks that Sarafoff was making his way
to the Bulgarian border; a reward was offered for his head, and cavalry
patrols were sent out to intercept him. But it was not difficult to
elude these, for the cavalry could not leave the roads; and it broke
the monotony of the days in hiding to watch the patrols pass on the
highways below.

It is generally with the bands to fight or not to fight; but sometimes
they are surprised by the Turks. Sarafoff and his band succeeded in
eluding the troops until they arrived in the neighbourhood of a little
town named Bouff, where, being worn out with a week’s hard marching,
they elected to rest for thirty-six hours.

The first day was uneventful, but as the second began to dawn on the
heights one of the pickets, a boy of fourteen, rushed into camp with
the news that the Turks were entering the little valley in which the
insurgents were camped. The boy had hardly delivered this news when a
picket from the summit of the ridge to the east rushed in breathless,
and announced that soldiers were climbing the slope on his side. And
from various other points soon came sentries with similar information.

The insurgents were about their chief in an instant to hear his
command. Sarafoff had studied the lie of the land overnight, and it
required but a moment for him to decide upon his plan of battle.

The band were occupying the base of a narrow ‘dip,’ one end of which
was closed by an insurmountable wall of sheer stone, and the other
now blocked by probably two hundred Turkish soldiers. Another body of
Turks, perhaps three hundred strong, were already coming over one of
the two mountain crests. The other slope--the only way of escape open
to the band--was so steep as to be impossible of ascent except by aid
of the low bush that covered it. The surprise was complete, and the
trap was tight.

There was a huge rock, lodged half-way up the open mountain-side,
which would offer some protection. Sarafoff picked eight men from his
band and started for this boulder, leaving the others, in charge of a
lieutenant, to lie low in the bushes until he and his party attained
the eminence. By climbing fast and taking the shelter of the shrubs,
the nine men got to the rock with the loss of but one of their number.
Not until then did they return the fire of the Turks, now descending
the opposite slope. As soon as the main body of the band heard the fire
of their comrades, they scattered, and started to pick their way up
around the rock to the summit of the peak. It took them two hours to
make the ascent, and during this time some of the Turks wound around
to the right of Sarafoff’s position on the boulder, and a few got far
above him to his left. Between these two raking fires the place would
have been untenable had not the insurgents above kept these parties
of Turks replenishing their numbers every minute. When the Turks
succeeded in picking off three more of Sarafoff’s men, leaving him now
but four--though all of the other insurgents had not yet reached the
point of the peak--he vacated the boulder. The four men scattered, as
the others had done, and scurried up the ascent. All five succeeded
in gaining the little fort at the top, and, without waiting to take
breath, dropped beside the main body, and took up the fusillade which
these had already begun.

While waiting for Sarafoff, the band had been surrounded. The heights
were a mass of broken boulders which afforded protection to their
enemies as well as to the insurgents. Only one spot, to the south,
was smooth and bare, and this space the Turkish commander took the
precaution not to occupy, for two reasons. First, his men would have
been picked off as fast as they filled it, and the sacrifice evidently
did not appear to him to be necessary; secondly, the opening acted as
a bait for the hard-pressed insurgents, tempting them into the passage,
on each side of which soldiers were massed in strong force. Sarafoff
surmised that this was a trap, and, while realising the hopelessness of
his position, chose to fight it out where the lives of the band would
cost the Turks dearest.

Until ten o’clock the Turks, certain of success, made no attempt
to storm the position. They had taken up secure places behind
rocks, and keeping up a desultory firing, they awaited the arrival
of reinforcements, for which they had sent to a near-by town. The
reinforcements came--for the sake of speed, in the shape of cavalry
and artillery. The cavalry could not get into action because of the
roughness of the ground, and was deployed as a patrol to prevent any
other band which might be in the neighbourhood from coming to the
relief of Sarafoff. The artillery could not be brought into close
quarters for the same reason, but it was posted on an eminence quite
within range.

Shortly before noon the cannon opened fire. The target was rather small
and decidedly indefinite, and for nearly an hour the shells went over
or fell short of the insurgent position; but when the artillerymen
finally succeeded in getting the range, the flying splinters of shell
and stone meant certain death to anyone who dared to put his head
above the rocks. The insurgent fire slackened under this hail, and
the Turkish commander, evidently supposing that the band had been
materially reduced in number, ordered an assault from all sides. The
cannon fire was discontinued for fear of working slaughter among the
charging soldiers, and the Turks came forward to the attack, dodging
from rock to rock, and closing in on all sides--except in the space
purposely left open. Sarafoff ordered half of his men to lay down their
guns and prepare their dynamite, and cautioned the others to make
every rifle shot strike its mark. He himself, expecting a hand-to-hand
encounter at the last, laid aside his gun, drew his sword, and strapped
it to his hand. The riflemen did their work well. Turks fell on every
side; but on they came! When the foremost of them got to within twenty
yards of the little fort, the insurgents began to throw their bombs.
The Turks have a terror of the dynamite bomb, and these ‘infernal
machines’ checked their advance for a time. At a lull in the din there
were repeated shouts from the Turks in Bulgarian (which many of them
speak), ‘Lay down your arms and surrender, Sarafoff! the Padisha is
good, and will surely pardon you!’ But the leader had no thought of
allowing himself and his men to fall alive into the hands of the Turks;
his knowledge of how they respect promises to ‘infidels’ precluded any
idea of his accepting the tempting offer.

It was now after one o’clock. If the band could hold out until
nightfall, there was a slight chance for some of them to cut their way
through the Turkish lines with bombs; but the Turks would certainly
make any sacrifice to storm the position before dark--the great
Sarafoff was cordoned and would not have another opportunity to escape.

The day was inclement, and thick, black clouds hung over many of the
mountains. Perhaps the Turks longed for one of these to break from its
hold on another peak, and float over to this, for they abated their
fire when a dense, all-enveloping wreath followed this course. Sarafoff
judged that they would storm his shelter in the protecting mist, and
laid his plans accordingly. At the moment that the blackness was
complete, the insurgents began again to cast their dynamite, and kept a
zone about their little fortress hot with exploding shells. The Turks
waited until this cannonade should conclude; but while they waited,
all the insurgents dispersed except Sarafoff and fifteen of his men,
and, each acting for himself, dashed for the open space left by the
Turks with such precision. A pistol was loaded for each of the wounded
men who could not escape, in order that they might blow out their own
brains; and then, lighting the last half-dozen bombs with long fuses,
to hold off the Turks yet a few minutes, Sarafoff gave to the men who
had stayed with him the order to fix bayonets and follow those who had
gone before.

When night fell, less than fifty men of the original ninety gathered
together in the dense forest on the far side of the mountain appointed
as the place of meeting. They were blackened from smoke, and down some
of the drawn and haggard faces streaks of blood were trickling. Their
throats were parched, and they were famished with hunger, and a few of
them were off their heads with fatigue and excitement, and had to be
gagged.

They all lay as quiet as mice throughout the night, and the next day
two of the most innocent-looking members of the band, stripped of their
insurgent paraphernalia, and in the garb of ordinary peasants, went
down into Bouff for food.

When they got to the village, they found it had been visited with the
vengeance of the Turks. On returning to garrison, the Turkish soldiers
passed through Bouff and murdered a few old men and defenceless women
whom they found there (the other inhabitants being still in the
mountains). They fired many of the houses and pillaged the town, and
there was very little of anything valuable left. There was much coarse,
uncooked flour scattered about, and some Indian corn, and of these
commodities the two insurgents collected as much as they could carry
and returned to their comrades.

At nightfall of the day after the fight the band resumed their march.
The insurgents filed out of the woods in a long, single line, the local
guide leading, and made their way to the edge of the next revolutionary
district, where the chief thereof was awaiting them. They replenished
their spent supply of ammunition from the secret stores of the
villagers in the mountains, and proceeded on their way. Their course
now was to the north-east, and they made tracks for their destination
as straight as the Turkish camps and patrols would permit, arriving
without further adventure at the friendly frontier.

The Turkish guard would certainly be on the watch for the band, so the
leader decided to cross the border close to one of the smaller posts,
where, he judged, the patrols would be less active, not expecting such
audacity. He selected a passing place within earshot of a blockhouse,
which could be seen plainly in the moonlight. A sentinel sat in Turkish
fashion before the door, wailing a doleful dirge through his nose,
a way Turkish sentinels have. To the time of the Turk’s music the
insurgent band filed over the border, guns loaded and cocked, bayonets
fixed, and arrived in Kustendil, whence to Sofia their march was a
triumphant procession.

       *       *       *       *       *

I received orders late one evening to proceed at once to Sofia
and prepare to accompany the Bulgarian army, which was mobilising
on the Turkish frontier. I was glad to get this order, and obeyed
instructions, though I knew there would be no war. The British Consul
then secured a _passavant_ for me, by which I was described as a man of
a round figure and black moustaches. In a civilised country my identity
would have been challenged, but the instrument passed me over the
Turkish border.

The streets of Sofia were crowded with committajis, in brown uniforms,
fur caps, white woollen leggings, and sandals. They were mostly members
of General Tzoncheff’s committee who had fought along the Struma.
Later, bands from Grueff’s organisation began to arrive. There were
several leaders who had been prominent in the revolution. I sought
the count again, and, with my old interpreter, spent many hours among
the insurgents. They were generally to be found at the cheaper cafés,
sitting over the rough tables recounting their adventures. It was at a
café that I got the story of Sarafoff’s Trail.

These soldiers of fortune had become indifferent to everything but
revolution. They did not care how they looked or what they did, and a
worse gang of beggars I never saw. Pride had flown. Work! Not they.
They are hunters of men.

[Illustration: COMMITTAJIS OFF DUTY.]



APPENDIX


THE MACEDONIAN COMMITTEES

The following information regarding the Macedonian Committees was
contained in a letter from General Tzoncheff to me. There are some
eliminations, but no alterations in the text.--F. M.

‘The beginning of the revolutionary movement goes back to the years
1893-94, but its real, substantial work began from 1895. At this
time there were already two organisations--one in Macedonia, which
was revolutionary; the other in Bulgaria, which was legal, open
organisation.

‘By the very nature of things the legal organisation in Bulgaria
became the representative of the Macedonian cause before Europe. In
accordance with the revolutionary organisation, the legal one worked up
the well-known principles for an autonomy, which were proclaimed by a
memorandum to the Powers and to the Press in 1896.

‘The revolutionary work was carried on by the two organisations in
harmony until the year 1901, each organisation acting in its sphere
for the same object. Though separated in their way of action, the two
organisations were, in fact, one and the same. The members of the one
passed into the other, as the needs and the circumstances dictated.
All the Macedonian leaders have belonged and participated to the two
organisations. Thus Deltcheff from 1899 to 1901 worked conjointly and
signed the resolutions of the High Macedonian Committee under the
presidency of Boris Sarafoff, who was chosen by us.

‘In 1901 the harmony was destroyed. Sarafoff and the other members
of the committee, including Deltcheff, encouraged by the extreme
popularity of the cause, gave a revolutionary impulse to the legal
organisation in Bulgaria by acts which were very compromising. The
murder of the Rumanian professor, Michailyano, in Bucharest, and other
deeds brought Bulgaria to the verge of a war with Rumania. The public
opinion in the principality, in the Balkan States, and in Europe was
excited. We asked Sarafoff and the other members of the committee to
retire, and thus to save the situation. But Sarafoff could not at that
time realise how grave the situation was, and refused to quit the
committee. Several intrigues were invented with the object to represent
the split as of a character of fundamental principal differences. New
elements, chiefly the extremists or the anarchical current, supported
Sarafoff. The Bulgarian Government, under the pressure of the European
diplomacy, especially of the Russian, gave its full support to the
disunion in the organisation.

‘The union between the different revolutionary currents brought
about during the last insurrection was again broken up. Now we
have three revolutionary currents--ours, Damian Groueff’s, and the
so-called anarchical current at the head of which stand B. Sarafoff,
Sandansky, and others. With the current of Damian Groueff we have
not any fundamental differences, but much with the anarchical. This
last current is not at all a disciplined organisation; its members
act nearly independently. Some of them--for instance, Sandansky and
Tchernopeeff--during the last two years have made deeds in Macedonia
which have brought great calamities on the population and have
alienated the sympathies of the civilised world. Their aim is to throw
terror and anarchy in the country and make life impossible for the
inhabitants. Lacking discipline and well-defined objects, their members
often go to extremes, which are very injurious to the cause of the
Macedonians.

‘During the last months efforts were made for an understanding between
us and Groueff. The foundations for the understanding are even laid
down. If these efforts succeed fully, we hope then to have a strong
revolutionary organisation which will be able to put down all the
pernicious and demoralising elements in the Macedonian movement
and use all its power to attain the object and the desire of the
Macedonians--establishment in the country (of) a civilised government
and administration, which will open to its inhabitants a free field for
progress, civilisation, and economical prosperity.

‘The immediate object is not and will not be an insurrection. In the
first place the present political situation in Europe is unfavourable
for such an action; and in the second place our interest dictates
that time and freedom should be given to the Powers to fulfil their
promise for a good government, and, if they fail, that the Christian
world should see that this failure is not due to the Macedonians, but
to the ineffective measures of the diplomacy. And then to tighten the
organisation and to give a strong impulse to the movement, so as to be
ready for another struggle, when the political situation permits and if
the reforms fail.’


  PRINTED BY
  SPOTTISWOODE AND CO. LTD., NEW-STREET SQUARE
  LONDON



FOOTNOTES:


[1] I am indebted to Mr. Smyth-Lyte for this section of the narrative.

[2] A foreign-made metal coin, worth about a farthing.

[3] A Turkish term denoting civilians, in contradistinction from
soldiers.

[4] The number is probably an error of public crier Mecho.

[5] By ‘Odysseus.’

[6] An inscription on the blade of a yataghan possessed by the author
reads: ‘Open the door to me in both worlds.’

[7] The figures were given me by Boris Sarafoff.

[8] Not all the munitions of war secretly brought into the country came
through Bulgaria. Certain insurgent leaders who spoke Greek without a
foreign accent worked in Greece, purchasing arms with the connivance
of the Greek authorities under the pretext that they were leaders of
Greek bands, hostile to the Bulgarians; and much dynamite was imported
through the Turkish Custom-house at Salonica.

[9] Beside this record of the Turks stands a most dastardly deed on
the part of the insurgents. Retiring from Nevaska a party of them
laid a diligent trail to a spot in the mountains where they carefully
prepared a lunch, poisoning the _Mastica_ with arsenic, and leaving
several bottles of it on the ground, to appear as if the band had left
hurriedly at the approach of the Turks. This was told me in person by
Tchakalaroff, the voivoda who led the band.

[10] The italics are the author’s.

[11] I have lost the name.



TRANSCRIBER’S NOTES:


  Italicized text is surrounded by underscores: _italics_.

  Obvious typographical errors have been corrected.

  Inconsistencies in hyphenation have been standardized.

  Extensive research revealed that the Map of the Balkans does not exist
    in this edition of this book.

  The list on page 82 is described as a partial list; items 7 and 8 have
    apparently been excluded and do not appear in any available edition
    of this book.

  The city of Prilep is referred to as Prelip in this book and the
    original spelling has been retained.

  Damian Grueff is sometimes referred to as Damien Grueff in the
    original. His actual name, Damian Grueff, has been standardized in
    this eBook.

  In Chapter V, paragraph 3, the chemical symbol for water is depicted
    as H_{2}O.





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Balkan Trail" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



Home