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Gemini and lesser lights Scaife, Arthur H. (Arthur Hodgkin) 1895

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      Arthur H. Scaife Author of
er^es on Novel Greeting
Many friends in Victoria will be
interested in the verses which Arthur
H. Scaife had printed on a Christmas card of greeting which was received in this city recently. Mr.
Scaife will be remembered as one of
the editorial staff of The Weekly
Province which was published in
this city about thirty years ago. The
verses follow.
Tou are slow, yet you are strong
And your patience suffers long;
For it takes a General Strike
To portray what you are  like,
When you fully  understand
That's it's time to take a hand,
John Bull.
But, once the danger o'er,
You're  precisely  an  before.
You  pursue  your  even  way
Unperturbed,  although you play
A most .ignominious  role,
With your thousands on the dole,
And a monstrous price for coal,
John Bull.
One may criticize your acts,
But you're good at facing facts;
Your composure nothing frets,
And you always pay your debts,
Thereby  setting standard  high
For the next to measure by,
John  Bull.
While you love to -play the game,"
Win or lose—it's all the same;
And  in  self-regarding  way
Law and order you obey.
So, though much you've left undone,
I would rather be your son
Than of any other one,
John Bull.
9, Pimlico Eoad, S.W. A.H.S. Gemini and lesser lights 
Author of "Three Letters of Credit," "As It Was 
In The Fifties." 
The Province Publishing Company. 
1895.    Gemini and lesser lights 
Author of "Three Letters of Credit," "As It Was 
In The Fifties."  CONTENTS.
Gemini  1
Three Ones  12
Duck's Egg  29
Olmaz  38
Herkules  48
Strictly Entailed  59
An Armenian Atrocity  69
Heir-at-Law  83
No. 1,682,321  94
Crossing the Bosphorus  103
Through a Pair of Glasses Darkly  115
Mustapha  128
Bannock-Burn  143
After Seven Years  149
Tarleton Littletitt's Mission  159
The Gift of The Bridegroom  169
Overlooking the Tennis Court  178  i\
J  Victoria, B.C. August 1895.
JLo (Bernini
The despots' heels are on my shore,
Gemini, by Gemini !
They creep and crawl along my floor ;
Gemini, by Gemini !
Domestic peace away has flown,
And I still sadder, wiser grown,
Resign in favour of my own
Gemini, by Gemini.
I seek in vain of " Heavenly Twins,"
Gemini, oh Gemini !
An explanation of your sins,
Gemini, my Gemini !
For when 1 ask them if on high
They make things lively in the sky,
They seem to wink the other eye.
Gemini, oh Gemini.
And yet upon so strange a plan
Gemini, by Gemini !
Is built the wayward heart of man ;
Gemini, by Gemini !
Despite your clamours for supplies,
In ratio inverse to your size,
I would not have you otherwise
Gemini, my Gemini.
ml'  These stories were published in The Province and
I am indebted to the proprietors of that paper for
permission to publish them in book form.
NAPOLEON was the name of one, Justinian of
the other. They were twins, but they were not
heavenly. As infants, they had doubtless been beautiful in the eyes of their mother some seventeen years
before : but not subsequently in the eyes of anybody
else. At the time that I knew them they offered no
outward and visible signs of physical allurement, for
one had a decided cast in his eye, and the other was
bow-legged as ever was Quilp. They had no special
educational attainments to boast of. I know that they
could not spell, and I expect, if the truth were known,
that they laboured under the impression that their
celebrated namesakes of a by-gone age had been twins,
even as they were themselves. Such nationality as
they possessed pertained to the French Republic, but
though they owed allegiance to La Belle Prance, they
probably had the haziest idea as to her geographical
whereabouts, and certainly their knowledge of their
mother-tongue was of the most limited description. GEMINI.
They spoke the Chattera pattera or lingua franca common to the Levant, and they resided on the shores of
the Bosphorus in the village wherein they had been
born. Moreover they were orphans and picked up a
precarious livelihood at the houses of their sisters, their
cousins and their aunts, who were fortunately as kind-
hearted as they were numerous.
Despite the foregoing and other trifling disadvantages too numerous to mention, the twins had
qualities as you shall presently see. It is only fair,
however, to remark that up to the time of my story
none of their acquaintances, myself included, ever
entertained the mildest suspicion as to their existence.
They were keen and ardent sportsmen, and knew every
nook and cranny of the hills within a radius of fifteen
miles of their village. Equipped with the meanest
accoutrements, and the scantiest stock of ammunition
they invariably contrived to render a better account
of their day's sport than anybody else, hammerless
guns and the last thing out in porpoise-hide shooting-
boots notwithstanding.
It was after the war in 1878. One of the effects of
this terrible conflict had been that the entire Mussel-
man population of Bulgaria had been driven like a
flock of panic-stricken sheep in front of the victorious
Russians. They had taken refuge in the capital, and
thence had been drafted off in various directions, as
time and opportunity offered, to shift for themselves GEMINI.
and as it frequently happened to die. Some of them,
the least desirable characters of the lot, who
probably in the matter of brigandage had maintained
their status quo ante bellum, had located themselves
amongst the hills overlooking the Bosphorus, where
they speedily earned the most unenviable of reputations.
The twins, on their return from one of their expeditions, described how they had seen some half-dozen of
the Mohadjirs, as they were called, from a vantage-
ground on the top of a hill. The Mohadjirs were in
a ravine several miles nearer civilization than they
were generally supposed to be. The word was passed
round, and it was tacitly agreed that the region in
which they had been seen had better be avoided for
the season, and the boys themselves were warned by
their relatives that they should on no account venture
in that direction again.
Napoleon and Justinian, however, brooked not control where their favorite pastime was concerned. They
had never had such sport as they had enjoyed in the
tabooed region, and, consequently, they made up their
minds that, coute que coute, Mohadjirs or no Mohadjirs
they would have another raid upon the woodcock.
They were bound too to get the cock pheasant they
had seen but missed, for a cock pheasant is a rara avis
indeed in those parts.
A few days afterwards I happened to be going for a 4 GEMINI.
ride and was just mounting my horse when the old
Bekji of the village, who corresponds as nearly as
possible to the watchman of our grandfathers' time,
came past and asked me if I had heard the news. I
told him I No," whereupon he informed me that the
twins had that moment arrived in the village with
the astounding information that they had had an encounter with the Mohadjirs and had killed two of
them. It appeared that a consultation was being held
in the caffinet of the village, a sort of general rendezvous
where municipal affairs were discussed and innumerable cigarettes and arguments indulged in. I gallop-
ped off, to find quite a crowd had collected round
the two boys, and this was the story they told.
They had gone out shooting early that morning on
their rat-like Roumelian ponies, as was their wont,
and had arrived within a mile of the place where, a
day or two previously, they had seen the Mohadjirs.
They had had excellent sport, as six brace of woodcock, a couple of hares and the longed for pheasant
which they had brought home with them testified.
They were having their lunch about eleven, for they
had been out since long before dawn, sitting down on
the outskirts of a small wood with their loaded guns
beside them; when suddenly, without any further
warning than a growl from their old pointer Azor, a
couple of men sprang out upon them and seized their
guns.   They were too much astonished and taken by GEMINI. 5
surprise either to offer any resistance or to make any
remark. All apparently that the Mohadjirs wanted
was the boys' guns and ammunition. The latter they
told them to hand over, and hardly knowing what
they did the boys unbuckled their cartridge belts and
gave them to the men who thereupon disappeared
into the wood. Upon recovering from their astonishment the twins, according to their own account, took
council together. They felt that a terrible thing had
happened to them.
" You see," said Napoleon, the man of war, " this is
a very serious matter. We shall never be able to go
back without our guns. We should be disgraced forever, and I, for one, should never be able to look anybody in the face again. We shall have to get back our
guns if we die in the attempt."
Justinian, who, as his name implies, was naturally
inclined to take a more judicial view of the proceedings, was prepared to argue the point, and ventured to
put before his bellicose brother the terrible disadvantages under which they laboured. It was true they
had one hunting-knife between them, but the Mohadjirs possessed two double-barrelled guns apiece, their
own and the boys, and a perfect arsenal of small-arms
in the shape of revolvers and yataghans of murderous
description stuffed into their waistbands to boot.
Nothing however could shake Napoleon's determination, and it was finally  agreed that they should 6 GEMINI.
forthwith proceed to track the brigands and rob the
robbers, Justinian obtaining the concession as a
compromise that Azor the old pointer should be sent
home, so that they might know from his arrival in the
village that something had gone wrong. Azor, an
obedient hound, accordingly trotted off home.
The first part of the undertaking was no difficult
matter to the twins, versed as they were in woodcraft.
They proceeded stealthily through the wood, along
the track of the two men, and after about an hour's
walk Justinian took the precaution of mounting a
tree in the hope of catching sight of them.
On the opposite side of the ravine he saw two men
engaged in the same occupation at which they had
disturbed the twins so unceremoniously, namely,
eating their mid-day meal of bread and black olives.
The boys held another council of war and decided that
by making a detour of about half a mile they would
be able to take the robbers in the rear. Their minds
were fully made up; they meant to get back their
guns by fair means or by foul, or die in the attempt.
They instantly proceeded therefore to put their plan
into execution, and in another quarter of an hour they
found themselves in the wood immediately behind the
Mohadjirs. Quietly they stole along, Napoleon leading. Just as- he was about to spring out on the
brigands a broken twig betrayed his presence and the
men started to their   feet.   The   guns were   lying GEMINI. 7
beside them on the ground, just as the boys' had been.
In the twinkling of an eye the twins seized hold of
their weapons. But Justinian's foot slipped and in
falling he stumbled against one of the brigands' guns
which was leaning against a tree. It fell in such a position that the Mohadjir was unable readily to lay his
hand upon it. He called out to his companion
"Shoot the young Christian dog," and the other
Mohadjir, in compliance with this amiable request,
drew a bead upon Napoleon. " Fire at him," screamed
Justianian, and Napoleon fired.
His would-be assassin fell dead at his feet. The
other Mohadjir drew his revolver but he was not
quick enough and the contents of Napoleon's second
barrel stretched him alongside his companion.
The' twins now thought it was time to make tracks
for their ponies and get home as quickly as possible.
They overtook old Azor, who was taking things easily,
and arrived about half-past two in the afternoon.
They told their story in the plain, matter of fact way I
have described, always harping upon the impossibility
of supporting the disgrace under which they would
have laboured by re-appearing without their guns.
Meanwhile the Turkish Anbashi (Commander of
Ten), Chief Commissioner of Police, Attorney-General, Magistrate, and Justice of the Peace for the
village, all rolled into one, who had been engaged in
his .usual occupation of smoking a narghileh with his
ill! 8 GEMINI.
boots off, in dreamy contemplation of nothing in particular, woke up to the fact that something unusual
had happened, and when a Turkish official wakes up—
a phenomenon of rare occurrence—it is extremely
difficult to get him off to sleep again. So, unfortunately, it proved in this case. Salem Agha's dignity
had asserted itself and he insisted on the most searching investigation being made into the affair. He even
threatened to arrest the twins on the charge of murder in the first degree, on their own confession. We
all naturally demurred, and finally the representative
of the law was induced by considerations, into the
nature of which I need not enter, to hold an inquiry
on the spot; for some of us found considerable difficulty in crediting the assertions made by the twins, so
extraordinary did they seem. Having sat fat old
Salem Agha on horseback, a mode of progression he
particularly disliked, half a dozen of us cantered him
off in company with the boys to the scene of action,
some eight or ten miles away. We had no time to
lose for the month was November and the days were
none too long.
About half an hour before sunset we arrived at the
place described by the twins, having to leave our
horses on the outskirts of the wood owing to the thickness of the undergrowth. In the ravine, sure enough,
just as the twins told us, we found the two Mohadjirs,
one dead and the other severely wounded, but still GEMINI.
alive. It took us several hours to transport them to
the village ; the wounded man groaning piteously and
evidently suffering great pain in the rude litter we had
brought with us.
The dead body was taken to the koolooh (police
station) and the wounded man to the doctor's house,
where his wounds were dressed.
The same evening, while Salem Agha was making
up his dilatory mind whether he should or
should not arrest them, the twins were sent, as a
matter of precaution, to the French consulate, as we
were not without fear that Salem Agha might decide
in the affirmative and hand them over to the Turkish
authorities ; in which case a great deal of time might
have elapsed, and a great deal of trouble have been
incurred, before we saw them again.
An investigation was made under the auspices of
the French consul, although not of an official nature ;
and in the course of the enquiry a most remarkable
piece of circumstantial evidence came to light, which
confirmed in every particular the story told by the
Their statement, it will be remembered, was to the
effect that Napoleon had shot both the Mohadjirs in
self-defence, and had fired on them while they were in
the act of aiming at him. It was found that the
barrel of the first man's gun was scratched from
muzzle to stock by the marks of shot; that the top of 10
his right thumb and the back of his left hand had
been riddled with shot, and the rest of the charge had
lodged in his right eye. With his other barrel, Napoleon had fired at the second Mohadjir ; several of the
shot had entered the muzzle of the revolver and had
severely wounded the right hand of the man who held
it, while the rest of the charge had buried itself in his
chest. The wounded brigand recovered consciousness,
though never sufficiently to be able to give any account of the transaction, and died on the following
day. This practically, as we say in this country,
I let the boys out."
The matter was hushed up, owing in some measure
to influence brought to bear through the French embassy, and also to the fact that it was acknowledged by
the authorities that the two Mohadjirs in question
were notably bad characters.
The twins appeared to be in no sense elated, perturbed, or in any way affected by the tragic circumstances of the case, and it was believed that the
spiritual ministrations of a certain excellent Jesuit
father, which were enlisted on their behalf, in the
hope of inducing regret that they should have been
the means of taking human life, proved absolutely of
no avail. Argument, expostulation and entreaty
were alike powerless to convince them that the proposition that they could, by any manner of means or
under any circumstances whatsoever, have returned GEMINI.
home without their guns, was a tenable one.
During my subsequent intercourse with the twins I
treated them with great respect.
a 12
IT used to be a grand and a glorious thing, at a
certain period in the career of a British naval
officer, to get what are called "Three Ones." Not
being a naval man myself, I do not know exactly
what the particular distinction implied by these
numerals may be, but I am given to understand that
it corresponds more or less to a brand of extra superfine excellence such as three stars in the line of
cognacs or three X's in double stouts. But this was
many years ago. Now-a-days I believe the highest
award has been extended to five, and the sublieutenant who gets Five Ones in passing out of
Greenwich is a very superior person indeed. " Five,"
however, is a modern innovation in no way
affecting my tale, which is strictly confined to
I Three."
Twenty years ago Fred Christian, R. N., was a
| Three One-er," a past master in the art of all that
pertained   to   guns,   torpedoes   and   other   horrible THREE ONES.
engines of war, who knew, moreover, all that was
worth knowing about seamanship—a man with a
career before him, bound to be an admiral in time and
generally to distinguish himself.
When therefore a formidable-looking document
O. H. M. S. arrived for Lieutenant Frederick Christian,
R.N., H.M.S. Eossinante, Plymouth, informing him that
he had been "lent" by the English Admiralty to the
Turkish government as special torpedo and gunnery
instructor, with the rank of a post captain, at a salary
of £100 a month and for three years, which period
would count as full | sea time " he pretended, although
the announcement in reality took his breath away,
that he wasn't in the least surprised, and graciously
signified his intention of accepting the appointment.
That is one of the advantages possessed by Anglo-
Saxon origin over other forms of ancestry. It enables
you to accept and assimilate the extremes of success
and failure altogether as a matter of course, as if you
were to the manner born and required no intermediate
training. Other nations look on in wonderment
and are consumed with jealousy at this admirable trait
in our character, which they call " le flegme anglais."
Fred Christian's messmates took it very well. His
appointment reflected honour, in the first place on
I the service " in the second upon " the ship," and in
the third it afforded opportunity for thundering jollification in the ward-room  at Fred's expense.    His 14
wine bill alone during the week prior to his departure,
to say nothing of the banquet on the evening preceding it, made a considerable hole in his first month's
salary under the new arrangement. But what of it ?
We don't get appointments, even in H.M.'s navy,
worth a hundred pounds a month every day in the
week, and when we do we should be more than human
and certainly less than British did we not celebrate
the event in the cup which cheers and also inebriates.
The manner of Fred Christian's appointment had
been in this wise :—The English Ambassador to the
Porte, acting on instructions from his government,
had called the serious attention of the Sultan to the
necessity of setting his house in order. His Majesty
had been given to understand that the Bulgarian
atrocity racket must really be put a stop to, or at any
rate that reports of a harrassing and distressing
nature should be kept out of the press and at all costs
from the ears of the Right Honourable the then Leader
of the Opposition, who had a nasty knack, about this
period, of making disturbing and inflammatory
speeches on the subject which were anything but
agreeable to Her Majesty's government. Thereupon
His Imperial Majesty had sent for His Highness the
Grand Vizier and issued his Imperial instructions,
which were to the effect that something must immediately be done. The Turkish gendarmerie was the
outcome of this interview.    But of that anon.    It THREE ONES.
referred to the quasi-military aspect of the question.
But there was the other and equally important one of
the navy, which could not be overlooked. The Turks
possessed seven or eight extremely imposing looking
iron-clads which every year executed the complicated
manoeuvre of getting up steam and sailing from their
anchorage in the Golden Horn to their summer moorings opposite the Sultan's palace on the Bosphorus,
a distance of some three-quarters of a mile ; invariably colliding with the bridge through which they
passed in transitu and causing other material
damage amongst the shipping, to the no small profit
of local legal lights. •
I You will have to get someone to look after the
torpedoes," said His Imperial Majesty. "I am told
that they pay a great deal of attention to this branch
of naval tactics, whatever it may be, in Europe. We
will ask the English government to lend us a man.
Give him full wages and see that proper notices are
telegraphed to Europe. That will keep them quiet,
at any rate for a time."
So it came to pass that the English Admiralty was
communicated with through the Turkish Embassy in
London, and Mr. Fred Christian, being the man of
the day, was duly selected for the post. He started
within eight days of receiving the appointment—as
soon, that is to say, as the requisite formalities
could   be   completed—and   posted   as   fast   as   ex-
1 16
press trains could take him across the continent to
Varna ; thence by steamer to the Turkish capital.
He brought all sorts of letters of introduction and
recommendation, amongst them one to your most
obedient and humble servant, who immediately put
him up at the club.
Within twenty-four hours of his arrival Christian
had made enormous strides in social progress. He was
a delightful person,' good-looking, clever and the
smartest of officers. We all thought so, but we also
felt that he laboured under one terrible defect. He
was consumed with the zeal of his profession. This
made us smile at the club, not out of ill-nature but
out of pity. We had seen this sort of thing before
and knew exactly how it would end. But Fred
Christian was innocent as the babe unborn. He had
driven to the Turkish Admiralty the very instant he
had set foot on shore to report his arrival, and was not
in the least disconcerted at finding nobody there. The
interpreter he had taken with him had told him the
minister had left instructions for him to call again at
three in the afternoon !
He had visions of the great and ennobling work that
he was commissioned, and moreover felt himself
perfectly adequate, to perform. Such an opportunity
had rarely fallen to the lot of a young fellow of
twenty-eight before, and he meant to turn it to the
fullest possible account. 'wq
He would regenerate, rejuvenate and reorganize the
Turkish navy, and his name would be handed down
to posterity as the greatest naval reformer of modern
times. He was the living personification of energy,
activity and zeal.
We begged him not to be in too great a hurry;
assured him that there was no earthly occasion to
move faster than an ordinary walk ; that the Turkish
Admiralty would not run away; that his appointment was for three years and that he really had
plenty of time.
But he said this was just like Englishmen who had
lived so long in the effete East, who had lost their
energy and were imbued with the fatal laisser aller
principles which animated the natives. In fact, he
rated us rather soundly, and if he had not been such
a good fellow we might have said something in reply.
But we didn't. As it was, we only asked him to have
another drink. He said he could not; he had not
time ; he had an appointment with the Minister of
Marine and was bound to be punctual. This was
immediately after lunch. His appointment with the
Minister was for three o'clock. I met him in the club
about six.    He was still radiant.
" Well, Christian," I said, " how did you get along ?
Did you see the Minister ? "
I No," he said, " I could not see the Minister, but I
saw a perfectly   charming aide-de-camp, Ferik  Bey,
ilW; 18
who speaks English as well as you'do. He is an
awfully nice fellow." (I knew^Ferik Bey.) | He
told me that the Minister was very sorry he could not
see me to-day, as he had to attend a meeting of the
Council of State ; but he hoped I would make it
convenient to go down there to-morrow. They are
very polite, these Turks, aren't they?" (I had
had some experience of Turkish politeness.) " Ferik
Bey gave me the most delicious "cigarettes I ever
smoked and insisted on my drinking several cups of
coffee. Rum stuff, that Turkish coffee, isn't it ? I got
all the grains in my mouth, but I suppose one gets
used to it after a time."
Christian was perfectly right. He became quite an
adept in the art of drinking Turkish coffee before he
was through with the Minister of Marine.
I By the bye," he said, " I asked Ferik Bey what
time His Excellency the Minister would like to see
me, and he said any time I liked. Awfully considerate, these fellows, aren't they ? Doesn't seem to be
anything like the red tape out here that there is at
I entirely agreed with him, and we went and played
a game of billiards.
The next evening I met Christian in the same place.
It struck me that he did not look quite so jubilant as
the day before, and with forethought borne of experience I did not ask him if he had seen the Minister.  I THREE ONES.
knew that he hadn't, and further that he would report
progress if I left him alone.
" They seem to be tremendously busy down at the
Admiralty," he said, over a whiskey and soda, after
he had beaten me by forty out of a hundred.
" The Minister could not see me to-day. Ferik told
me he was very sorry, but there was some commission going on down there which occupied him the
whole day, and said I had better come next Monday."
(This was Thursday evening.) " Ferik Bey is going
to take me to the Sweet Waters of Europe to-morrow.
Saturday he said was an off day at the Admiralty, and
of course the next day is Sunday ; but I shall see
him on Monday and get to work."
We were quite friendly by this time, and in the
course of conversation I took upon myself to inquire
whether his contract was in perfect order, and was
glad to find, on his showing it to me, that he was to
draw his pay through the State Bank and was-not to
be dependant upon the Turkish Treasury. There it
was in black and white—one hundred pounds a month
in gold sovereigns. Really, he was a very fortunate
fellow. The prospect of "getting to work," as he
called it, had quite an exhilarating effect upon him,
and we spent a charming evening.
The next day Ferik Bey called for him at the club
as arranged, and we all three rode out to the Sweet
Waters of Europe, the weekly resort of the rank and
• I'tfH 20
fashion of Turkish society. He came back positively
entranced with the beauty of the scene he had witnessed. Both banks of the winding river gay with
Turkish carpets and brightly attired Turkish
women ; crowds on horseback, crowds in carriages and
crowds in caiques upon the water. He had never seen
anything to equal it before and felt that his sojourn
in the East had begun under the most agreeable
Saturday and Sunday were spent in making friends
and acquaintances and in delivering his letters of
introduction; and when Monday morning came he
repaired to the Admiralty, fully determined to get to
work without a moment's further delay. But the
Minister was not there, nor was Ferik Bey.
For six long, weary hours he kicked his heels in the
wide, cool corridors of the Admiralty building, without being able to speak a word of the language, and
finding no one to talk to. He looked quite unhappy
when we met in the club, but I consoled him as best
I could. The Minister was doubtless ill, and Ferik
was looking after him! Such things did happen
occasionally, even in the best regulated admiralties.
But I could see that Christian did not like it. He
even went to the extent of saying that it was not
business, and that he had not come out to a foreign
land to kick his heels all day long amongst a crowd
of the great unwashed. THREE ONES. 21
Quite a number of people in addition to myself
smiled when they heard this remark ; but, perhaps
fortunately for us, Lieutenant Christian did not notice
He went down to the Admiralty again next day,
but he did not see the Minister. He was there but he
was busy; and Ferik Bey, on his behalf, expressed
the keenest regret that he should have been debarred
from the pleasure of seeing Lieutenant Christian the
day before, but he had unfortunately been confined to
the house by temporary indisposition. He found it
would be impossible to make a definite appointment
before that day week ; though if Lieutenant Christian
liked to come down to the Admiralty any day before
then, on the chance of seeing him, His Excellency
would be delighted to meet him should the opportunity
arise. Meanwhile His Excellency hoped the financial
arrangements through the bank were entirely to
Lieutenant Christian's satisfaction.
Christian walked all the way back to the club;
through the crowds of importunate beggars which
infest the entrance and approaches to all Turkish
departments of State, through the old Turkish
cemetery in the cypress wood on the hill, where stone
turbans of all sorts and shapes mark the resting
places of defunct pashas and even minor dignitaries ;
through swarms of yelping dogs, through trains of
creaking ox wagons, through narrow   streets,   over 22
pavement of the worst, all intensely interesting and
picturesque, but—not to him. He saw the imposing
iron-clads in the harbour, and he saw nothing else.
He longed to be on board and at work, and the beauty
of his surroundings rather irritated than soothed
him, for Christian was nothing if not practical and
had yet to learn how to possess his soul in patience.
It took us the best part of a couple of hours to get
him to realize the fact that life might be still worth
living, the Minister of Marine notwithstanding, and
to persuade him that it would be the acme of foolishness to go near the Admiralty before the time
appointed, when he had received so exceedingly broad
a hint to remain away.
Fortunately it was summer time and we had no lack
of amusements to offer him. What with tennis and
cricket and boating parties we managed to make the
week pass, as we hoped, more or less agreeably.
But it was evident to the most casual observer that
Christian was not happy. Underlying all his assumed
gaiety there was a sense as of duty unfulfilled, of
work undone, of opportunities wasted, which weighed
heavily upon his mind.
At the appointed hour in the following week
Christian was at the Admiralty; and though he
caught sight of Ferik Bey in the distance he was
unable to catch his eye. He thought it strange that
Ferik should not have noticed him, and waited on in urn
the hope that he would come out and at least speak to
him, as he had on former occasions. But it was not
to be. His experiences were precisely the same as
they had been the week before, save only that by this
time he had become expert in the art of rolling
cigarettes, and he smoked enough of these, as he
afterwards told me, to make himself sick.
That night he had an idea. He would learn
Turkish. (It takes about seven years, but I did not
tell him so.) That was what he would do. He would
learn Turkish, fool that he was not to have thought of
it before ! He might just as well be turning his time,
if he had to wait at the Admiralty, to some useful
account. I applauded his determination to the echo.
I had known other instances where men—Englishmen
—had been saved from suicide or a lunatic asylum,
while waiting to see a Turkish Minister, by learning his
language ; and Christian was such an excellent sort that
I was naturally anxious to save him from either fate.
" My dear fellow," I said, " you couldn't possibly
employ your time to greater advantage. If you put
one quarter the energy into it that you do into tennis
you'll be able to greet the pasha in the vernacular. A
man like you can accomplish wonders in a couple of
I In a couple of months ! What do you mean ?
Look here, I wish you wouldn't chaff about this business—it's getting too serious." 24
"I'm not chaffing, old chap," I said soothingly,
I but you really must have a little patience."
Christian raised his eyes to the billiard-room ceiling
and tapped with his foot upon the floor.
I Patience ! Great Scott, if I haven't had patience
with these infernal procrastinating "
I knew he was going to say something disrespectful
about his superior officer and would be sorry for it
afterwards, so I interrupted him.
" To-morrow, dear boy, Eamazan begins."
" Well, what has Eamazan, as you call it, got to do
with the question ? "
" Everything. Know, oh impetuous, hasty, excitable,
vehement, precipitate, headstrong and urgent child of
the Occident, that Eamazan is the Mohammedan
month of fasting; that it begins to-night and will
last for twenty-eight days ; that for the coming four
weeks the Turks—the Minister of Marine included—
will fast by day and feast by night; that official
business will be altogether at a standstill, and that
your chances of seeing His Excellency in Eamazan
are not worth five minutes purchase. Eamazan is
succeeded by Bairam, a week of feasting both by day
and night, during which period official business is also
suspended. You are therefore sure not to see the
Minister for five weeks from to-day. Then there will
be the arrears represented by the accumulation of
back work at the Admiralty to make up which will W
certainly take a fortnight or three weeks, so that you
see my calculation is really based upon sound
premises, and that you may reckon on a couple of
months' undisturbed devotion to Turkish."
Christian's face during my recital of what he
evidently considered his personal wrongs, was a sight
to behold. When I had finished he swore—not little
lady-like and refined imprecations, but great big soul-
stirring oaths, the special prerogatives of sea-faring
men which made me cower and shrink in a corner of
the billiard-room sofa and caused inexpressible pain
to several fairly-seasoned of our members. But under
the circumstances we all forgave him, and if
I remember rightly several of us made mental notes of
some of his most forcible expressions and even
made use of them on subsequent occasions. Such is
the force of evil .example !
Poor Christian ! He was well into the forty-second
conjugation of compound reflective irregular verbs
before he saw the Pasha. But all comes to those who
know how to wait, and Christian had learnt his lesson
Exactly three months after his arrival, in sheer
desperation he took the bull by the horns and, after
receiving the diurnal assurance from Ferik Bey the
aide-de-camp, whom by this time he hated with a
deadly hatred, that His Excellency would see him
yahren moutlak | for certain to-morrow," he forced his
1 ■my
way, regardless of drawn swords and bayonets, into
the presence.
There he found Suleiman Pasha—a large, fat, oily
and complacent personage in uniform—who looked at
him and smiled blandly and ejaculated a long sentence in Turkish, not one word of which could poor
Christian, despite his three months' struggle with
irregular verbs, understand. It is astonishing how
little irregular verbs help you in ordinary conversation for the first time in a foreign tongue !
Fortunately Christian's wits did not desert him.
He remembered the Turkish for " interpreter," and he
blurted it out in tones which implied there was something seriously wrong. Suleiman Pasha touched a
bell and a mute instantly appeared. The Minister
made a sign and in another minute the mute came in
with Ferik Bey, who saluted Christian as only a Turk
knows how. The latter felt that now or never was his
opportunity, and immediately began to pour out his
grievances. Suleiman Pasha ceremoniously waved
him to a seat at his side, which he took, only to find
that this was the prelude to a further edition of coffee
and cigarettes. Turkish politeness, however, notwithstanding, he poured out his woes.
Would Ferik Bey oblige him by telling the Pasha
that he had now been struggling and striving to see
His Excellency during a period of three months, and
had only that moment succeeded ;  that he had left THREE ONES.
■*> m
England on the definite understanding that he was to
| get to work " at once; that his duties were to be
pointed out to him immediately on his arrival, and
now all this valuable time had been lost.
This was duly translated to the Pasha. For all
reply he asked if Christian Effendi had anything to
complain of.    Had he not received his money ?
Yes, but that was not all he wanted ; he wanted to
do his duty.
The Pasha raised his eyes to Heaven and doubtless
prayed for mercy on this maniac. What did the
Effendi want ?    He did not understand.
Poor Christian, who thought he had made his
meaning sufficiently clear, began to feel desperate.
He told Ferik Bey to tell the Pasha that he was not
going to continue drawing his salary unless he earned
it, and begged the Pasha to forthwith give him
instructions as to what he should do.
The Pasha, whose politeness was simply unbounded,
looked relieved. Your Turk, in whatever capacity,
hates a scene almost as much as he hates pork.
Would the Effendi come to-morrow at this hour ?
By that time matters could be arranged so that he
could get to work atonce. H. E. quite understood the
Effendi's zeal, which did him infinite credit; but the
matter was an important one and would require due
Christian, greatly  comforted, salaamed in proper
style and withdrew. Fortunately, perhaps, he did not
hear the Pasha's subsequent remarks to Ferik Bey,
which were to the effect that that was just like those
troublesome Englishmen. They were forever pestering him for work. On no account was he to be
bothered in this matter again.
It was a case of to-morrow, and to-morrow, and
to-morrow, for another month, and then we saw no
more of Fred Christian. He threw up the billet
in disgust; sent in his resignation, which was
accepted, and returned to the English service, a sadder
and a wiser man.
His hair was slightly tinged with grey when he left.
We were sorry to see him go for we had got to like him
very much, though there were not wanting amongst
our own and other communities those who entertained
the opinion that he was slightly touched in the upper
story. This view was subsequently strengthened by
the discovery that his maternal grandmother had died
of softening of the brain. 29
WHY Sheitan-jik? I am sure I cannot tell you.
You will be doubtless the more interested to
know, when I inform you that the translation of the
word means, approximately if not literally, " The
home of the Devil." It used to be a station on a certain line of railway, as near as possible half-way between Rustchuk on the Danube and Varna on the
Black Sea. It may be there now for all I know to
the contrary; although, unless it is very materially
improved since I knew it, it would be no great loss to
anyone if it had in the interim been wiped out of
existence. How it came to be called by the above
euphonious and suggestive name I am at a loss to
imagine; for unless the personage in question is endowed with considerably less intelligence than is
usually ascribed to him, I can hardly conceive it
possible that he would ever have fixed upon this particular locality for his home. 30
The Varna railway was in those days operated by
an English company. It had been built by English
capital by virtue of a concession granted by the
Turkish government, and was run by Englishmen.
Now-a-days they build railways on totally different
lines, and I fancy on somewhat broader guage as regards the profits of the builders ; but in the time
whereof I write, governments were not nearly so ready
to grant subsidies as they are now, nor was it an easy
matter to obtain guarantees in both capital and interest. Railway companies when they wanted all the
profit were, as a general rule, obliged to take at least
part of the risk.
The Varna railway was on the quick route from
London to Constantinople, for there was then no
transcontinental line as there is now. Leaving Vienna
you reached Buda-Pesth, the grand old capital of
Hungary, by train, and then had the option of either
taking the rail on to Bassiasch, or the steamer down
the Danube, and were certain of enjoying a most delightful river trip through the magnificent scenery of
the celebrated Iron Gates ; with the almost equal certainty of having to get out and walk if the river
happened to be a little below par, which was not un-
frequently the case in summer time. This trifling
drawback has lately been done away with by blowing
up the rocks which impeded the passage.
Once you set foot in Rustchuk, you left civilization .
behind you and entered that dreary, woe-begone,
poverty-stricken country called Bulgaria, for such
and nothing else it was so long as it was directly
governed by the Turks. Since its emancipation by
the Berlin Conference in 1878, however, it has taught
Europe many a lesson in national progress and
economy, and set an example which new countries on
this side the Atlantic might do far worse than emulate.
At Sheitah-jik the train stopped for lunch. The
station was several miles from the town ; a scattered
collection of intensely ugly and dirty mud huts,
deader than door nails, with nothing whatever to
commend it to either visitor or tourist. The station
consisted of just a shed, platform and water-tank, in
the middle of an enormous plain, which bore the
slightest possible traces of cultivation. | Why toil for
the exclusive benefit of the taxgatherer ?" said the
thrifty Bulgars, and they said wisely.
I was going to the East for the first time, and
carried the weight of seventeen summers with the ease
and grace which characterize English school-boys.
My travelling companion was an officer in the navy
who was about to join his ship, a British gunboat
then stationed at Constantinople. The heat, for it
was summer, was intolerable, the dust stifling and, as
there was nothing whatever to see in the way of
scenery, we were both thankful when the monotony of
'!■   i BB
the journey was broken by our arrival at Sheitan-jik.
We made the worst meal, at the most exorbitant
price, which I ever remember to have eaten. Then,
imbued with the curiosity of youth, I went for a little
stroll round the station.
About one hundreds yards off there was a mud pond,
containing water of no great superiority in appearance to that purveyed to the long-suffering population
of Victoria, B.C., and in this pond there were several
ducks, the only sign of animal life within sight. As
I stood watching them, one old hen-duck left the
water and, without assigning any reason for this
gracious performance on her part, proceeded to deposit an egg literally at my feet. Thereupon she
returned to her wallowing in the mire. I am at a loss
to say what prompted me to the nefarious act, but
quick as thought I pocketed the egg, thereby, as I
trust, for the only time in my life, bringing myself
within the immediate reach of the law. I make the
confession with shame ; but if there be another youth
of British parentage, of the same age, who would
under the circumstances have done otherwise, I shall
be proud to make his acquaintance. A whistle from
the engine warned me that the train was about to resume its journey, and with the evidence of my crime
in my coat pocket, I clambered back into the carriage
which my friend and I had all to ourselves. I produced the egg with, I regret to say, the utmost glee, DUCK'S EGG.
and when he asked me what I was going to do with
it, I had to confess that I did not know. But the
Devil, who naturally was " at home " at Sheitan-jik,
instantly suggested a means of turning it to practical
account. My eye fell upon a man in the garb of a
railway porter who was standing at the edge of the
platform with a red flag in his hand, evidently making
signals to the engineer.
11 am going to chuck it at that man's head," I
I You will never hit him," was the taunting reply.
I See if I don't," I answered ; and I leant out of the
window to take a more deadly aim, he holding on to
my nether limbs the while.
Ping ! pang ! the egg described a graceful trajectory
and then hit the man with the flag right on the side
of the cheek. For the time being the yolk which
was laid upon him was greater than he could
It was a dastardly and mean act on my part, I
admit; but looking backward as I do now, after a
period of a quarter of a century, I can still feel a
thrill of intense enjoyment course through every fibre
of my being as I recall the circumstances and the
man's look of ineffable disgust. Is this human or
demoniacal ?   I know not, but it is a fact.
The gentleman with the red flag, however, regarded
the   matter   in   quite a different   light.     He^used 34
extremely strong language and there was a dangerous
look in the white of his egg—I mean of his eye—but
the more he swore and the angrier he looked the more
immoderately I enjoyed myself.
By this time we had left the station at least one
hundred yards behind when, to my horror and dismay,
I found that the train, instead of increasing its speed,
began to slacken. The alacrity with which my sentiments turned from gay to grave was surprising, and,
to my shame be it said, hilarity was succeeded by a
sense of the most abject bodily fear. My apprehensions were enormously increased by the fact that my
companion, whose sense of humour at this juncture
was far keener than my own, would not allow me to
draw in my head, but kept me jammed up against the
window in full view of the infuriated egg-bespattered
porter, who was running for dear life to catch up with
the train, evidently thirsting for my blood. To my
intense relief, however, the train did not stop, but
gradually drew out of the station, and the last I
saw of my victim he was shaking his fist in my face,
though too much out of breath to continue to swear.
The incident remained a good jest, if not forever, at
least during the remainder of our journey. DUCK'S EGG.
Ten years afterwards, almost to a day—at any rate
in the same month, I will not be positive as to the
date—I found myself in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, where
I had been staying for a few days with a friend. I
was going up to London by the Scotch express, which
was due at 11:20 p.m., and as a matter of course she was
late. My friend, who had driven me down to the
station, had left me on the platform, as it was a bad
night and he was anxious to get home. There were
very few people about, possibly owing to the fact that
it was Saturday, and I wandered up and down, with
my travelling-bag in my hand. A respectable-looking
man in the brown corduroy of a porter came up and
asked civilly if he could take charge of my bag,
whereupon I confided it to his keeping. I asked him
if he thought the train would be much over-due, and
he said he thought she would be in in about ten
minutes.   Then to my intense astonishment he said :—
11 think, sir, I've come across you before now,"
with a strong emphasis on the before.
I replied that I thought it was hardly likely, seeing
that this was my first visit to Newcastle, and that I
resided out of England.
| That may be, sir," he said ; " but it was not in
England that I met you.   Was you ever in Bulgaria ? "
I said that I had been in Bulgaria many times, and
began to wonder where on earth this man had seen
me. 36
11 have been in Bulgaria too," he said, " but it was
a long time ago.    Do you remember Sheitan-jik ? "
I said I remembered Sheitan-jik perfectly ; still
without any glimmer of  reminiscence.
II used to be a porter on the Varna railway," he
said ;  " do not you remember me now ? "
But I was still hopelessly in the dark.
" Don't you remember chucking a duck's egg at a
man on the platform at Sheitan-jik ten years ago ? "
but long before he had finished his sentence I remembered all too vividly the scene I have recounted above;
and yet again, to my shame be it said, a feeling very
similar to that which had come over me when the
train slackened speed began to make itself felt.
I said "Good gracious me, you don't mean to say that
you are the man ? "
| Yes, sir, I do," he replied. | It's a long time ago,
and you will excuse my saying so, but it was a
precious lucky thing for you that I did not lay hold of
you that day."
I admitted that it was and offered a silent prayer
that this man might live up to the Christian standard
of forgiveness.
I asked him how it was that he had remembered
my face and was able to recognize me after so long a
time, and he answered :—
" When you was leaning out of the carriage window
a-takin' aim I got a good look at you.    You haven't DUCK'S EGG. 37
changed anything to speak of, not having grown no
beard; but Lord love you, if you 'ad it wouldn't
a made any difference, for I vowed that I'd never
forget the young gent as threw that duck's egg
at me."
I was always of a hospitable nature, and I said,
I Come, and have a drink ? "
But just then the welcome rumble of the incoming
train made itself heard, so I gave him, in defiance of
the company's by-laws, the price of many dozen
duck's eggs, in consideration of which he let bygones
be bygones, and further, found me a carriage all to
Thus it was that the duck's egg represented a distinct score after all.
i>7d 38
FEW people know, and in all probability very
few people ever will know the terrible amount of
suffering that was engendered by the Russo-Turkish
war of 1877-78. After the passage of the Balkans by
the Russians in January of the latter year, the entire
Turkish population of Bulgaria, scared out of their
lives by the reports of what had been done in other
places by the victorious Russians (reports not a tithe
of them true) and fearing lest a worse thing should
befall them, came pouring in upon the capital at the
rate of twenty, and on several occasions sixty thousand
a day. The trains belonging to the Roumelian Railway Company were simply besieged by the refugees ;
old men and children, young men and maidens of
every class and description, carrying such scanty
articles of clothing and household goods as they could
lay hands on in their flight, gathered from all sides
and directions upon the line of railway, in such wise " OLMAZ.
that they literally blocked the way of the trains. They
swarmed upon it like locusts, filling the cars to
suffocation, climbing on the roofs of the carriages,
hanging on to the steps, getting into the luggage
crates and cattle pens—anywhere to escape from the
advancing foe.
The whole thing was a scare, and nothing but a
scare ; a political movement designed and carried out
with the object of forcing the Mahommedans to vacate
Bulgaria. Stories of atrocities which had never had
any existence—very much on the lines of subsequent
Armenian troubles in Asia Minor—had been disseminated wholesale by Russian emissaries, and the tales
lost nothing in the telling.
The consequence was that the entire Mussulman
population, in the majority of cases, lost their heads
and fled for their lives, leaving everything behind
them save what they could carry in their hands. In
some few instances, before the scare had become most
intense, they had been able to take things more
quietly and had driven their flocks and herds on foot
before them into Constantinople, a distance varying
between 100 and 200 miles. Thus it came about that
a horse could be bought for 200 piastres caime, paper
money, value in sterling about seven shillings, and a
donkey for half that amount. Oxen ranged about
eight and ten shillings apiece; and copper cooking
•utensils,  with which the Turk is  always liberally
*i a 40
supplied, for he cooks in nothing else, sold by weight
for about a penny a pound.
Absolutely no provision was made by the Turkish
government for the reception of the refugees ; and, but
for European benevolence, it is probable that the
unfortunate wretches would literally have starved to
death. But England and Englishmen came nobly to
the fore, as they are in the habit of doing on these
occasions. The Turkish Relief Fund, an organization
founded by Lady Burdett-Coutts and administered by
Mr. Ashmead Bartlett, now her husband, and Sir
Francis (then Major) De Winton lost no time in
grappling with the question. They speedily formed a
corps of volunteers amongst the younger members of
the European colonies in Constantinople to take the
work in hand.
The Turkish government, after much negotiation
and trouble, agreed to give the use of certain large
Jchans in Stamboul for the reception of the refugees
immediately upon their arrival. Subsequently, owing
to pressure on space, to use a journalistic term, they
allowed the refugees to occupy several of the mosques,
St. Sophia amongst the number.
The Roumelian Railway Company, to prevent their
trains from falling into the hands of the Russians, as
soon as the passage of the Balkans had been forced,
ordered them all back upon Constantinople."
The consequence was that in a very short time the " OLMAZ."
main track and the sidings were full of cars ; and,
there being nowhere to put the incoming trains as they
arrived, the terminus daily became further and
further away from the capital.
As bad luck would have it, the winter was the most
severe that had been known for many years. The
elements are the greatest time-servers in history ;
they always side with the stronger party. Snow lay
thick upon the ground, and the cold, although there
were not many degrees of frost, was intense owing to
the prevalence of wind. The refugees arrived, as a
rule, about seven or eight o'clock in the evening ; and
the duty of the Volunteer Brigade, of which I was
one, consisted in going down to the station, or as near
it as might be practicable, to meet the train, receiving
the refugees and drafting them off into the various
refuge houses prepared for their reception.
In they came, a crowd of famished, half-frozen,
shivering wretches of all sorts and conditions, many
of them clad only in cotton clothes, though the
lightly-clad, curiously enough, were not the ones who
appeared to suffer most from the cold. Often we
found it a hard task to distinguish between the living
and the dead. Many of the bodies in the luggage
vans and cattle pens were frozen stiff to the bars and
we had the greatest difficulty in getting them out.
Many, too, were quite unable to walk from the place
where the train had to stop into the town, and died 42
by the way from exhaustion. Fires had been lighted
along the track, and it was a heart-breaking sight to
see the half-frozen women and children cowering over
the blaze.
The men were marshalled off into one wing of the
buildings, the women and children into another, and
they all obeyed the orders given them with a docility
which was marvelous to behold. The provisions
made for them on arrival in the khans consisted of hot
broth and bread. The soup was brought in in a huge
iron caldron, slung on a pole and carried by two men.
I used to wonder of what stuff these people were made,
who, literally famished as they were, would obey
orders like little children and squat quietly on their
heels when told to do so, waiting patiently until
their turn came to be fed. However, the thing had to
be done in order, or not at all.
The soup was ladled out to them in basins, and to
each was given a quarter of a loaf of bread. The
rooms, which were huge in size, often contained as
many as two or three hundred people, and a European,
a member of the Volunteer Brigade, was placed in
charge of one of these rooms, with several of his
colleagues to assist him. I happened to be in command of one section.
So long as the refugees were Turks we knew we
would have no trouble with them. The men, such'as
had  any, would quietly give up their arms when " OLMAZ.
requested to do so. They asked no questions, but
resigned themselves, with true Mussulman resignation,
to their fate. It was kismet (fate) and there was an end
of the matter. They waited patiently till their food
was given them, though the glare of hunger in their
eyes was pitiable to see. Sometimes they had to wait
a longtime, but they seemed to have complete confidence
in the Europeans, and although they never expressed
their thanks verbally, it was perfectly evident that
they were " truly thankful for what they were about
to receive." My ward contained women and children.
As soon as we saw that all had been fed we were at
liberty to go, reaching our homes sometimes as late as
two and three in the morning.
What became of the refugees the next day I do not
know. I do not believe that anybody else does. They
were told to " move on" by the authorities, and we
saw them no more, their places being filled by fresh
arrivals on the next trains.
Naturally we used to exchange experiences, and
some of my colleagues in other khans had had a very
bad time with the Circassians, who were as difficult to
deal with as the Turks were easy. Fortunately there
were not many of these, but when they did come they
made things remarkably lively. One night, when my
khan was about three-quarters full, word was passed
along that the Tcherkessli were coming, and to my
regret I saw that the incoming contingent belonged to 44
the dreaded race. However, there was no help for it,
and I had consequently to assume an air of authority
and assurance I was far from feeling. Fortunately no
men came into my apartment, which, as I have said,
was devoted to women and children, but they were on
the same landing and uncomfortably near.
When I was about two-thirds through the feeding
process, a tall Circassian suddenly entered the room.
He was a fine fellow, like all his race, dressed in the
handsome Circassian costume which is richly
ornamented with silver. That he was armed from top
to toe goes without saying. At arm's length he was holding by the leg a tiny baby girl about six months old,
with nothing on save a piece of narrow blue ribbon
about her neck to protect her from the " Evil Eye,"
extremely scanty apparel, seeing the severity of the
weather. In his other hand the Circassian had a
large open knife.
He called out in Turkish :—"Is there anyone here
who claims this child ? It does not belong to our
But nobody seemed anxious to acknowledge ownership.
| Well," he said, "I can carry it about no longer. I
may just as well put it out of its misery."
I sprang forward and seized the child.
"It is mine," I said, an assertion which T trust my
readers  will  not  believe.    He  looked   at me  for  a
1*1 OLMAZ.
moment in some astonishment, but he gave up the
child without demur, and to my intense relief he
left the room.
It was an exceedingly embarrassing position for a
modest and retiring bachelor of some five and twenty
summers, but what could I do ? I took the poof
little thing in my arms and tried to feed it out of a
huge iron spoon with which the soup was poured into
the basins of the refugees, for I had nothing else; and
it scalded its poor little hands in its frantic eagerness
to get at the food.
The women in the room, of whom there must have
been at least a hundred present, were either too occupied with their own needs or their children's to notice
my predicament. At any rate they gave no sign. I
asked several of them if they would take it and look
after it, but none of them seemed to relish the
proposition. I had another room to visit and began
to find it was extremely awkward to assume a tone
and attitude befitting an officer (albeit of volunteers)
with a naked female infant in my arms.
At this juncture, fortunately for me, my chum with
whom I lived—a fellow-clerk in the bank, by name
Harley Chomes—came in to make some enquiry. He
was always easily moved to laughter at my expense,
and he no sooner caught sight of me and my innocent
charge than he began to smile. I explained matters and
then said, " Harley, my boy, you have got to help me 46 | OLMAZ."
out of this. Not one of these women seem inclined to
take this poor little kid."
He said, | Good Lord, man, what on earth do you
expect me to do with it ? "
Now, we both had a friend who was charity
personified and who, I knew perfectly well, would be
only too delighted to welcome the infant.
I said, 11 can't get away from here, as you know,
but you can. Take the kid, wrap it up in your coat
and run for dear life to Mrs. Stanley's (about four
miles off). She will take it in, and if she cannot, we can
always have it sent to the Catholic Foundling
Harley was wearing a large ulster coat, and almost
before he knew where he was I had unbuttoned it and
placed the baby in his arms. I do not think he quite
liked it, in fact I'm sure he didn't, but my manner was
exceedingly impressive.
To my great astonishment the child never cried, and
when once its hunger had been appeased had begun to
crow and laugh as a six-months' baby will.
Harley moved towards the door, but he was
destined to get no further. We were both .suddenly
surrounded by infuriated women.
| The Giaours (the faithless) are stealing a Mussulman child," was the cry. " Olmaz. Eyip dir." (It is
a disgrace and must not be.)
Fifty arms were held out for the child.    " Give it OLMAZ.
me, give it me," from all directions ; 11 will take
care of it."
I hastened to assure the incensed ladies that neither
my friend nor I had any intention of stealing the child.
We were animated solely by a desire of saving its life,
and were only too willing to hand it over to them on
the one condition that they would promise to take
care of it. This they readily agreed to do, and it was
with a certain sense of relief that I made the child
over to a fat, unwieldy and entirely shapeless old
woman, whose face, wrinkled as it was, bore nevertheless a kind expression. Harley and I went about our
work in different parts of the khan, and we saw no
more that night of the baby.
Next day in the afternoon I came down early, as I
was in the habit of doing, in order to make sure that
the rooms in the khan had been cleaned and made
ready for the next batch of refugees, a by no means
unnecessary proceeding.
In a corner of the passage, next to the room which
had been occupied by the women the night before, I
saw what looked like a piece of coloured rag. On
going to see what it was, I found it covered the dead body
of the child.    How it came by its death I never knew.
'lit 48
ITS full name is Herkules-bad, but to save time, it is
generally called Herkules. Although dignified by
the name of a town, it is of positively microscopic
dimensions, and nestles snug and comfortable in the
loveliest valley amongst the Carpathian mountains in
Would that civic duties in Western cities
were as ably performed as they are in Herkules. It is run entirely by the government,
which is tantamount to being under military
rule. Its most insignificant official is bedecked
and bedizened in the most gorgeous of uniforms,
and any spare time its inhabitants may have on
hand during the tourist season is mostly occupied in
saluting. It is situated some fifteen miles from Turn-
Severin on the Danube, and the drive between the two
places, like Cleopatra, simply beggars description.
Provided always that you comply with the official
regulations, you are as free as the air in Herkules ;
but you should take no liberty with the law for you
are certain to regret it. HERKULES.
Mineral springs abound of all kinds and descriptions, sulphur, iron and arsenic predominating, and
to describe it briefly, it is one of the most beautiful,
fashionable and salubrious health resorts in Eastern
Europe. The town itself consists principally of one
long arcade in the form of a semi-circle, at either end
of which is a hotel of stupendous and imposing proportions. In the centre is the Kursadl, or public
concert room, and in front of this are the public
gardens, laid out with the greatest possible taste and
elegance. There is a street, one street, of perhaps a
hundred yards in length, in which are still to be
found relics of the old town, for in the old Roman
days the waters of Herkules were just as famous as
they are now, and wonderful cures were wrought upon
the august persons of Emperors,, as Latin inscriptions
amply testify. On either side the mountains tower
up to a height of many thousand feet, sheer, precipitous, snow-capped and pine-clad. The walks and drives
through the forests are dreams of beauty and of perfect
bliss. Just the place in fact to spend a honeymoon. I
spent mine there, so I ought to know.
The snow will not lie on the ground in Herkules,
by reason, it is said, of the great warmth of the soil;
owing, doubtless, to the heat engendered by the innumerable springs, which are of all degrees of temperature and varieties of taste—mostly nasty, as in
the case of the sulphur, which is abominable.
Mj f /
If I
This stricture, however, does not apply to the drinking water, which is positively delicious, clear, cold,
sparkling as crystal, and invigorating as champagne.
The waters of Herkules are famous all over Eastern
Europe. The public fountains, during my stay, were
always crowded with devotees of all classes and
nationalities, and from the extraordinary enthusiasm
with which they proclaimed the excellence of the
brand, I am inclined to believe that some of them at
least must have hailed from Victoria, British Columbia. They had evidently never tasted anything to
equal it before.
The watering season is of short duration, lasting
only about four months; and inasmuch as the
capacity of the town is strictly limited and there is
always an enormous demand for rooms in the hotels,
these have to be secured some considerable time in
advance ; unless, of course, you are willing to take
chances in the matter of accommodation, which in the
early stages of matrimony you are naturally anxious
to avoid. I had accordingly taken my measures in advance, and had secured apartments in the larger of
the two hotels.
On our arrival (note the plural pronoun and all it
implies) by carriage from Turn-Severin, we were conducted to the Kaiser-Hof, and there interviewed by an
imposing official, who put us through the most searching cross-examination as to our identity and antece- HERKULES.
dents, and elicited from my bride, who spoke German
with greater fluency than I did, the information that
we had entered the holy estate of matrimony some
forty-eight hours before. This was a dead give-away,
for, after the manner of newly married men, I had
been striving to simulate the outward and visible
signs of an old and a seasoned hand. There was no
help for it, however, and it all went down in a ponderous register.   I felt as if it were judgment day.
My informant then asked " what I was," and I replied with pardonable pride " that I was a banker/
As soon as the official had noted the interesting fact
that my calling was a financial one, he asked me,
"What class?"
I did not understand, and begged for elucidation.
Then he said, with the exquisite politeness which
characterizes Hungarian officials :—
" There are five classes of bankers, as there are of all
other professions and callings. Is the Herr a first or
a fifth-class banker ?"
I indignantly asserted that I was a banker of the
first class, and to the extent which my knowledge of
German permitted, wanted to know if there was anything in my appearance to indicate the contrary. But
the official merely smiled and noted the fact in his
register. He then gave us an order admitting us to
the freedom of the city, and entitling us to the use of
our apartments in the hotel, which opened on to the pub- 52
lie garden and were all that could possibly be desired.
One of the chief characteristics of Herkules, as of
all Hungarian towns, indeed, is its music. A string
band of the very first excellence played three times a
day in the gardens—namely, from eight till nine,
from twelve till one, from four till five, and from eight
till eleven at night in the Kursaal. More exquisite
music I never heard.
Hungarians are born musicians, and in our walks
and drives in the surrounding country we had every
opportunity of determining this fact beyond question,
for each of the villages has its own orchestra, consisting generally of a stringed quartette. The leader
would start off and improvise some theme, always
of a wild, weird nature, which is very peculiar in
style and not particularly taking at first to the untrained, but not the less fascinating on that account-
In a minute or two the others would fall into their
parts, constantly reverting to the original theme, and
would thus play on for hours, quite wrapped up and
lost in their own music. Yet these men were as often
as not ordinary labourers or farm hands, dressed invariably in white cotton garb with lambskin kalpa,
and although always of fine physique, of none too
savoury attributes.
We literally revelled in the music Each evening
there would be a concert in the Kursaal, which lasted HERKULES.
a couple of hours ; after which dancing would be
vigorously kept up until eleven, when the Kursaal
closed ; and by half-past every light in the little town
was out, I by order of the Emperor-King."
We derived a good deal of amusement from the interrogation to which we were subjected on arrival, and
founded many theories as to the reason for the searching cross-examination to which all visitors were put.
It was the height of the season, and there were
many celebrities in Herkules. At the next table to
us, under the verandah adjoining the hotel where we
took our meals, was an Estherhazy; further off was one
of the Vienna Rothschilds with his wife and children,
and at a third table sat Count Czecheny, a Hungarian
magnate known throughout the length and breadth
of the kingdom ; not to mention other notables of
minor degree. We were consequently in very swell
company, and began to feel ourselves most important
All doubts as to the meaning of our interview with
the Governor of the town were set at rest on the eighth
day after our arrival ; when about eight o'clock in the
morning (we rose early in Herkules), the door of our
sitting-room opened, and an officer saluted on the
threshold. He presented a little bill. It was made
out in my name, and was followed by my description
as a banker of the first class. It was drawn up as
follows :—
To contribution to the town water-works  10 florins
To subscription to the town band  10 „
To subscription to the public baths  10 „
To subscription to the public streets (there was
only one)  10 ,,
To subscription to the police force  10 ,,
To subscription to the public lighting  10 ,,
Total (payable cash)  60 florins
Being at a loss to understand the nature of this demand, as I had paid my hotel bill, of a none too
modest amount, the night before, I begged for explanation, and was courteously informed that I could have
all the explanations I wanted after I had paid the bill.
My uniformed friend practically amounted to a bailiff
in possession, and I had no recourse but to part with
the amount " spot cash." He receipted the account
with an Imperial - Royal flourish, and left me
feeling particularly sore over the transaction ;
though I was still entirely in the dark as to the reason of the enormity, as it seemed to me, of the
Immediately after breakfast I sallied forth to consult my friend the doctor, to whom I had had letters
of introduction, and under whose superintendence I
had taken a course of sulphur baths.
When I showed him the account he looked at it in
amazement and then looked at me ; after which performance he went off into an immoderate fit of
laughter.    Personally, though not altogether lacking HERKULES.
in a sense of humour, I could see nothing whatever to
be amused at.
I For goodness' sake, doctor, explain what this
thing means. If it is a joke, I think it has been carried quite far enough ; and if it is serious, I consider
it an abominable swindle."
Whereat he only laughed the more.
When he had recovered sufficiently from his hilarity
to come down to facts, he told me that in his long
course of fifteen years' experience I was the only first-
class banker who had ever visited Herkules.
I But," I said indignantly, " what are you talking
about ? One of the Rothschilds was sitting at the
very next table to me. What kind of a banker is he,
I should like to know ?"
I Fifth-class, my dear sir," said the doctor, rubbing
his hands. " That is all he is, when he comes to
Herkules. It is merely a matter of registration, but it
makes a wonderful difference in the bills."
" And what does a fifth-class banker pay," I asked
indignantly, " for these infernal charges ? "
| Exactly one-fifth of what a first-class banker pays.
Had you registered under the fifth category, you would
have paid twelve instead of sixty florins."
I felt very angry and expressed myself in no
measured terms.
| But it is entirely your own fault," he said. "Why
did you call yourself a first-class banker, if you are 56
not one ?   And if you are a first-class banker why
should you object to pay the charges ?"
I But," I said, " why do they take Rothschild as a
fifth-class banker ? They must know better than
I Not at all," replied the doctor. " Each person who
comes to Herkules has the privilege of rating himself
and paying accordingly. Next time you come I
presume that you will do as he does, and write yourself down fifth-class."
I felt very much inclined to quote Dogberry and
say, " Oh, that I had been writ down an ass," but I
did not say so to the doctor.
My sixty florin contribution to the municipal fund
franked me through for another month, but at any
rate I was determined not to be caught again, and on
the morning of my departure I again visited the doctor
and asked him to let me know how much I was
indebted to him for his professional services.
" Anything you like, my dear sir," he said, with a
magnanimous wave of his hand. " I never make any
charge. My patients always pay me whatever they
please, and I am always truly thankful."
This was very unsatisfactory to me. I had no
means of knowing what the scale of professional
charges was in Herkules, and told him so, begging
him again to mention a sum.    But he was obdurate.
In a large china bowl on his desk there were many HERKULES.
florin notes, some of five florins, some of ten, some of
fifty, one or two of a hundred.
I My patients always put their contributions in that
bowl," he said, running several of the notes through
his fingers and flaunting them before my eyes with a
lordly air.
I At any rate," I said, " I hope you will not expect
me to pay you on the basis of a first-class banker."
"Oh, no," he answered, smilingly, "I am quite willing
to put you in the fifth-class category."
I took rapid counsel with my bride and we figured out
that if I gave him fifty florins he would be well paid,
fori had really caused him very little trouble, and his
advice had been rather of a friendly than a professional
nature. The doctor looked out of the window, while
I slipped a note of fifty florins into his china bowl.
He then bade me an affectionate adieu, and I went
back to the hotel to settle with my host.
I admitted all the items in his account but the last
one. He had charged me ten florins for a broken
ewer, which I strenuously objected to pay. This again
was evidently a charge made to a first-class banker.
I was having a violent altercation with the hotel-
keeper on the subject when in came^the doctor.
I Good heavens," I thought to myself, " I have not
paid this fellow enough. If I get out of this place in
the clothes I stand in I shall be lucky."
But I was wrong.    I had evidently very consider-
I m
ably over-paid the doctor, for I have never, in the
course of a varied experience, met with anyone more
obsequious or more polite. When I had explained my
difficulty he said it was simply monstrous that young
and newly married couples should be swindled in this
fashion ; that the honour of Herkules as a fashionable
watering place was at stake, and that unless the
charge was immediately reduced from ten florins to
one the hotel-keeper would hear of the matter again
when licensing day came round in a manner he would
little appreciate. The doctor's indignation was beautiful to behold; it moreover produced the desired
effect, and we both came to the conclusion that he was
a charming man. Our fifty florins invested in the china
bowl had saved us nine florins in broken earthenware
—a magnificent investment. We afterwards had
reason to believe that the fee we had given the doctor
was in reality far in advance of even first-class
banking charges, and beat the record in his professional receipts for similar services rendered by about
seventy-five per cent. I have also a lingering
suspicion that the florin notes in the china bowl partook largely of the nature of decoy ducks or ground
bait, but whether or no, they certainly served a purpose.
The above notwithstanding, those were halcyon days.
" How cruelly sweet are the echoes that start
When memory plays an old tune on the heart." 59
THERE is no difficulty in getting servants in
Eastern Europe, but there is frequently great
difficulty in getting rid of them. The supply, as elsewhere, is in excess of the demand, and there are
always plenty of servants to be had of all colours,
creeds and nationalities, at rates, moreover, which,
compared with the modest " living wage " ruling the
Pacific Coast, sink into positive insignificance. This
is undoubtedly a blessing, but—there is a " but" in
every case—it may be questioned whether it is altogether unmixed or whether there is any need to be
unfeignedly thankful when one takes into consideration
the price one is occasionally called upon to pay for it.
It is wisdom before entering into the bonds of
domestic servitude for the quasi lord and master to
make enquiries as to the nationality of his future
humble and obedient servant. If you hit upon a
Montenegrin, for instance, it may happen that—like 60
your creditors—he will never leave you and may prove
a veritable C. P. R., or rather a P. R. O, which is but
a playful way of expressing a Positively Reckless
Character, and to all intents and purposes, from a
Canadian point of view, amounts to very much the
same thing.
The Montenegrins—native's of the | Black Mountain," on the eastern shores of the Adriatic, whose
national and proud boast is that they have never been
conquered, and what is more, never will be (a claim,
be it remarked, which is not altogether substantiated
by history, but that makes no difference)—are a
magnificent race, physically speaking, bien entendu;
morally, as the immortal Bottom once remarked, I
imagine that they are " as other men." They are
staunch adherents of the orthodox Greek Church and
marvellously devout in their religious observances, but
I never found, from personal experience, that they made
any the worse liars on that account. Indeed, the
extremes of mendacity and sanctimony frequently
meet in the same individual, though far be it from me
to assert that the Montenegrins enjoy a monopoly of
the combination. On the other hand, they have good
gifts. They are courageous beyond belief, having no
fear of death, and expect other people to have as little
regard for life as they have themselves, which
undeniably gives them an advantage. They are
strictly honest  from  their own  point  of view, and STRICTLY ENTAILED.
there is no instance on record of a Montenegrin ever
having allowed anybody (else) to rob his employer.
They are, moreover, " faithful unto death," though
whether their own or other people's is a matter of
perfect indifference to them. One of their main disadvantages, however, lies in the fact that the law of
entail as regards retention of a post, however modest,
in your family is strictly enforced. The place of a
groom or cook, or whatever it may be, descends from
father to son; or, failing male issue, to the nearest of
kin. This arrangement is sometimes fraught with
disagreeable consequences, as the sequel will show.
They don't go in for " trades unions " or " protection "
or anything half so complicated in Montenegro. They
settle differences between capital and labour in a far
more expeditious manner.
There are several important lines of steamers plying
to the Bosphorus, both from English and Mediterranean ports, and not the least among them is that of
the Austrian Lloyds, which owns a magnificent fleet
of some twenty or thirty vessels, all of large tonnage
and generally up to date. The agency in Constantinople is an important one, for the salary and position
are not to be despised.
The door-keeper, or odabashi, as he is called, is a
personage of some distinction in all administrations in
the East, whether Mussulman or Christian. He gives
—if only by reason of his personal magnificence and 62
costume—an air of respectability to the establishment
which it might not otherwise possess, and serves to
impress strangers, at any rate, with a sense of his own
and his employer's importance. Usually a large and
imposing person is selected to fill this billet, and, when
he is a Montenegrin, he invariably wears a splendid
dress, consisting of baggy trousers of white cloth,
white jacket and red waistcoat embroidered all over
with gold ; a huge embossed leather waist-belt or band,
stuffed full of pistols, knives and other deadly weapons;
while upon his head he wears a cap which I must e'en
describe as of the shape known as "pork-pie," whereof
the crown is red, half only being embroidered with
gold, and turned up in black to an inch from the
circumference. These colours have significance. The
red represents the blood that has been shed, the gold
embroidery the glory that has been won in Montenegrin
wars, while the black border signifies the national
mourning for the slain.
Nicolas Nicolaievitch was the Austrian Lloyds' agent
at the time of which I write, and had occupied this
position for many years. He was loved and respected
by all who knew him, and when, in the fullness, of
time, he retired from the position, everybody was very
sorry to lose him. He was succeeded by a very much
younger man, who had received his education in
Europe, and had less reverence for the ways and
customs      of      the      East      than      possibly,     in STRICTLY ENTAILED.
his      own     interest,      he      should     have     had.
Old Elia, the doorkeeper, had occasion, very shortly
after the arrival of the new agent, to ask for leave of
absence to go to his country. He had been at his post
every day for something like sixteen years, and although
he had never done a stroke of work the whole time,
that was not his fault; he was not paid to work, he
was paid to look grand and imposing, and these
onerous duties he ably fulfilled.
Mr. Serkovitch, the new agent, readily granted his
request; and then old Elia said : " My nephew Milo
will take my place."
I All right," said Mr. Serkovitch, " you need not
trouble yourself about your successor; that is my
affair and I will attend to it."
But Elia persisted in his demand that his nephew
should be duly installed prior to his departure, and
explained that such was the custom of his fellow-
countrymen, as Mr. Serkovitch could easily determine.
Mr. Serkovitch gave him to understand and put it
in plain language, that this was no business of his ;
and the old man, finding that remonstrance and
expostulation were unavailing, finally withdrew.
Mr. Serkovitch desired to put another man in the
door-keeper's place. He had heard of this custom
among the Montenegrins, but he was not a man who
liked to be dictated to, nor was he disposed to carry
out anybody's ideas but his own.     The nex't day 64
accordingly, his own man was duly installed in the
position of door-keeper.
An hour or two afterwards, Mr. Serkovitch was
informed that a Montenegrin wished to see him, and a
tall handsome young fellow of about twenty-five
entered the room. He salaamed respectfully, and
announced that he was Milo, old Elia's nephew, and
had come to occupy the place of door-keeper.
Mr. Serkovitch was polite, but firm. He gave Mr.
Milo to understand that the place was already
occupied, and that he had no need of his services.
I But," said Milo, | the place is mine by right. My
uncle Elia has no children; I am his next of kin, and
I succeed by inheritance to the post that he has
Mr. Serkovitch smiled at the child-like simplicity of
the man.
I That may be all right from your point of view,"
he said, " but not from mine. I do not know you; I
owe you nothing, and have already made other
arrangements.    I wish you a very good morning."
But Milo showed no disposition to move.
I The Ohelibi does not seem to understand that I
am only asking for my rights. The place is mine,
and I demand that I be immediately installed."
Mr. Serkovitch began to wax wrathful. He was not
accustomed to be bearded in his den in this manner,
and the matter was rapidly passing beyond a joke. STRICTLY ENTAILED.
" See here, my man," he said, " we had better
understand each other at once. I do not propose to
be dictated to by you or anybody else. You have my
answer, and, if you do not clear out immediately, I
will have you removed by force."
Milo's eyes blazed, but he merely saluted and withdrew.
Serkovitch told the story at the club afterwards, as
a good joke ; and those of us who had been but a short
time in the country entirely sympathized with the
view he had taken of the matter. We liked Mr. Milo's
I cheek," as we called it. But grayer heads than ours
regarded it in a different and a graver light. They
told Serkovitch that he was a very foolish fellow to
try and run counter to established habits and customs,
and that Milo might make things exceedingly
uncomfortable for him.
But he was a young man, and his knowledge was
naturally in inverse ratio to his youth. He wanted to
know what Mr. Milo could do.
I He could put a bullet into you," coolly suggested
the Russian consul, through his cigarette smoke. He
had had some experience with Montenegrins and their
I Oh, nonsense, my dear sir," said Serkovitch, " you
are not going to frighten me with any stories of that
II do not say he will," replied the consul, " but you lis I
asked me what he could do, and I merely outlined
And then we went and played billiards.
That afternoon, as Serkovitch was going into his
office, which was situated on the water-front, one of
the most crowded thoroughfares of the town, he
suddenly found his passage barred by Milo, who stood
straight as a dart in front of him.
"I have come once more," he said, very respectfully
but firmly, " to tell the Chelibi that my uncle Elia's
place is mine by right, and to ask him if he has
reconsidered his decision of this morning."
Serkovitch told him to go to the devil, which,
under the circumstances, was a shortsighted and
inconsiderate order to give.
I Will the Chelibi," said Milo, with much the same
look in his eyes as had spoilt the good-natured expression of his face in the morning, " take advice on the
subject ? I do not think that he really wishes to do
me wrong,"
But, for all answer, Serkovitch reiterated his
mandate, brushed roughly past and went into his
office, giving orders, as he went, that, under no
circumstances was Milo to be re-admitted on the
The next morning, on his way through the street, he
met Milo again.
I Has the Chelibi taken advice ?" he asked ; where- STRICTLY ENTAILED.
upon Serkovitch, whose language was none of the
choicest, swore at him lustily and told him that if he
alluded to the subject again he would inform his
consul and have him put under lock and key as a
I The Chelibi will remember," said Milo quite
calmly, | that this is the third time I have asked him
to give me my rights.    Does he still refuse ? " but
Serkovitch, whose vocabulary by this time was
exhausted, vouchsafed him no reply, and slammed the
door in his face.
We saw him that night at the club, and he told us
the story, probably with embellishments ; and again
the old Russian consul warned him to be careful and
said he did not like the look of things.
But Serkovitch, who knew not the meaning of fear,
only laughed.
The next morning, in the same place, he met Milo,
who did not salute him.
"Get out of my way," said Serkovitch with an
They were the last words he spoke, for, the next
instant, he fell dead at the Montenegrin's feet, with a
bullet through his heart from Milo's revolver fired at
arm's length. The sound of the report brought fifty
people to the spot. They picked up the dead man and
carried him into his office ; and, though it is probable
that the occurrence must have been actually witnessed,
3 68
for the street was certainly crowded at the time,
nobody laid hands on Milo. He quietly slipped
unobserved into one of the innumerable side streets
which lead goodness knows where and to my
knowledge was never heard of again. He was
certainly never brought to justice.
WEBSTER would have immortalized him had he
but enjoyed the privilege of his acquaintance.
He would certainly have figured in the Unabridged
amongst the concentrated essences or patent extracts
of virtue. I cannot tell you what was his age ; I don't
think he had any to speak of, but I imagine it must
have been somewhere between forty and fifty. You
never had a chance to think how old he was, for all
your time was taken up in admiring contemplation of
his many and manifold qualities. I do not know if
he was bald-headed, but judging by the way he | went
for " his own duties and those of us who scamped ours
I think he must have been. Then, again, he always
wore a fez, which article of head-gear be it borne in
mind sticketh closer than a brother and is never
removed in official or polite society. It is as disrespectful to enter a lady's or your superior's presence
with your/ez off in the East as it would be in the 70
West to keep your hat on under similar circumstances.
The first thing an Oriental makes for in the dead of
night when aroused by alarm of fire is his fez. We
all know what the Westerner makes for. That is one
of the striking points of difference between them.
Meguerditch Meguerditchian was his name, and
Armenia was his nation. He had been in the bank—
always in the cash department—from time
immemorial, and it would not in the least surprise me
to learn that he had been born there. There were
other cashiers, but they did not count. Meguerditch
bossed the whole show. He never took a holiday, was
never ill, and never once during the whole period of
his long and constant attention to duty had he been
known to apply for leave to attend an aunt's or a
grandmother's funeral; wherein he probably broke
the record in the history of bank clerks. Meguerditch
knew all the bank's business, mostly by intuition, it
would appear. Whenever anything was wanted,
having reference to bygone ages (long before Confederation) no one ever thought of consulting the
archives, but went straight to Meguerditch, who simply
turned up the files of his memory, and there was the
matter you wanted, neatly docketed, endorsed and
ready for use. A wonderful man was Meguerditch
Meguerditchian. We had many holidays in those
days and fSted most of the saints in the calendar,
orthodox and unorthodox, by closing the bank ; but AN ARMENIAN ATROCITY. 71
Meguerditch's soul soared into higher flights. He was
simply consumed by a sense of duty. He lived on the
four rules of arithmetic with a marked penchant in
favour of subtraction, and was altogether impervious
to the temptation of grosser appetites. No one for a
moment imagined, even in the spring, that this young
man's fancy lightly turned to thoughts of love. He
was always at his desk balancing and counterbalancing ledgers and cash-books, making out
statements and statistical calculations to prove how
infinitely superior was the bank's position to that of
every other establishment in the world.
So wonderfully economical too. His only vices consisted in cigarette-smoking and coffee-drinking, the
latter at the expense of the bank. Each clerk was
allowed unlimited coffee, it being an unwritten law in
the East that no work could possibly be done without
it; and a whole army of cafegis, as they are called,
were employed from daylight to dark in concocting the
aromatic beverage for the special benefit and sustenance of the bank clerks.
The bank was very proud of Meguerditch, and he
was always held up as an example to the younger
members of his profession in all its branches, as the
one incomparable, infallible and utterly unattainable
standard of excellence.
The bank was also proud of its reserve, which
amounted   to   no less than two hundred thousand
ii ik
pounds in gold coin of the realm. This was a little
nest-egg which we fostered with devoted care, constantly adding thereto and but rarely deducting
therefrom, knowing of experience that, when we did
want it, we should want it badly and at once.
The pride of Meguerditch's life was this gold
reserve; and when he made out his cash statements
he always used to put in the amount figuring to the
debit of " Rest" in large, fat, highly-impressive
figures in red ink, with a marvellous caligraphic
flourish underneath, which it would have taken anybody else months to manufacture. He would talk
about the reserve, too, at the clerks' luncheon table,
and compare it, with ostentatious pride, with that
pertaining to other establishments. He gauged banks
largely by the amount they held in reserve, no doubt
an excellent test of merit, and was never tired of
demonstrating the importance of holding as large a
percentage as possible of your liabilities in actual
and tangible cash.
The reserve was kept in the bowels of the earth,
whereunto one descended by steep steps of masonry,
lighted, as I remember, by a solitary candle ; and it
was not until you were really inside the vaults and
had grown accustomed to the dim religious light that
you fully realized you were in the presence of
enough to retire upon.
It was Meguerditch's duty to take the gold down to AN ARMENIAN ATROCITY.
the reserve vaults himself, though always in the
presence of the directors. He never would allow anybody else to have the handling of it. He was, as he
said, responsible, and he lived fully up to his
responsibility. The jingling of the cash keys was as
music in his ears, and in good sooth he played a
merry tune upon them, whereunto other people danced.
The bank itself in those days was a huge rambling
building of stone and brick, which had been erected
many centuries before by the Genoese. The walls in
places were ten feet thick and constructed with a view
to withstand the most determined assaults from without, but not, as shall presently appear, the more insidious nature of internal attack. At the end of the cash-
room itself was a small room, and inside the room
was a large safe, wherein was kept the money for
daily requirements. When, therefore, the day's work was
over it was Meguerditch's pleasing duty to convey the
sacks, each containing a thousand pounds (worth
eighteen shillings and two pence, every one of them)
from the cash department to this safe. Every now
and again a certain proportion of them was destined
to be consigned to the lower regions as and when it
was found convenient to add to the reserve. The
manager, when the cash was closed and Meguerditch
had struck his balance, would assist at the operation.
of the removal of the gold to this safe ; merely as a
matter of form, of course, though he kept one of the
.' 11
■ ' 1    '
1,1 ;
- i!'
iiij m
keys. This operation usually took place after the rest
of the clerks had left. Meguerditch would submit
his statement to be initialed by the manager, and
would then call out the number of bags as he threw
them, one after another, into the iron safe. As soon
as the manager had heard the responsive chink of the
last one as it fell into its place, he knew that it was
all right, that formalities were over and that he was
free to go.
Now, the manager was a great smoker, and he had
a careless habit, not an uncommon one in the East, of
throwing away the end of his cigarette when he had
finished it, without due regard to where it fell. He
had done this once too often in his own house, to the
no small discomfort of himself and family, and the
annoyance, not to say loss, of an insurance company.
One summer evening he went, as usual, into the
cash to superintend the closing operation. There was
quite a lot of money on hand, and at least ten
thousand pounds were to be sent down to the reserve
on the morrow. Meguerditch had been more than
usually hilarious in consequence. The bags were
counted as usual, while the manager walked up and
down the cash-room smoking vigorously, as was his
wont. He was a little impatient to be off, as he had
an appointment to play poker at the club.
Just as the last bag was hurled with a flourish into
the safe by Meguerditch, the manager finished his AN ARMENIAN ATROCITY.
cigarette and threw the end away, without paying any
particular attention where it rolled. But the tally
was correct according to the statement in his hand,
which after all was the important point, so he said
I Good night" to Meguerditch, who responded with
his usual effusiveness and respect, and then he went
Half-way down the stairs, however, three minutes
later, that cigarette end suddenly caught fire in his
memory. He remembered the little episode chez lui
and how angry his wife had been. He reflected that
the directors might be more angry still if evil consequence ensued and the bank was burned down. He
remembered too having seen some waste papers lying
by the safe, and he thought it possible that his
cigarette might have fallen amongst them, so he flew
back again into the cash.
Meguerditch was not there; he was washing his
hands prior to departure; and the manager went
straight into the little room at the side of the cash
where the big safe was, and looked for the end of his
cigarette. It was not amongst the waste papers, nor
was it anywhere to be seen upon the floor. He hunted
everywhere in vain till it occurred to him to look in
the space between the side of the safe and the wall of
the room, which was about a foot wide, and there sure
enough it lay—a tiny roll of burnt-out paper and
tobacco,   hardly   formidable enough   an object, one ««JO
would imagine, to account for the very curious effect
which the eight of it produced upon the manager.
He suddenly started back, with both hands up to his
forehead, while his eyes glared in their sockets as if
he had gone mad. The manager's brain, and not the
bank, was on fire !
And this was the cause of the conflagration.
Lying between the safe and the wall, in close
proximity to the extinct cigarette, was a bag—one of
those thousand-pound canvas bags—with the bank's
own initials on it, which the manager knew so
For several minutes he leant back against the wall
utterly deprived of the power of speech and a positive
mountain of hideous possibility loomed up before his
eyes. The sound of Meguerditch's voice gaily singing
an Armenian national air brought him suddenly to
himself, and he walked into the room with a terrible
look on his face. Meguerditch was standing before a
glass brushing his hair. He caught sight of the
manager's expression in the mirror, and he knew that
the game was up. His jaw fell six inches. But the
mirror served a double purpose, and the manager
also knew that his worst fears were confirmed.
The looking-glass was a wonderful invention.
But it was with his usual smile and perfect self-
possession that the cashier turned and faced the
danger. ufll
I Give me your keys," said the manager, quietly,
and he held out his hand.
I My keys," the Armenian answered, smilingly,
I why do you ask for them ? "
I Give me your keys," said the manager, more
quietly still.
Meguerditch looked him full in the face and apparently saw something which he did not like, for he put
his hand in his pocket and produced the keys he had
held in trust for so many years.
I Come with me," said the manager, seizing him by
the arm.
The manager turned the scale at 240 pounds ; the
cashier at about 120, and the light-weight didn't have
a show. So he suffered himself to be led unresistingly
The manager took him into his own room and rang
the bell on the table. The odabashi, or door-keeper, a
Montenegrin of some six feet three inches in height
and broad in proportion, magnificently clad and
armed all over, appeared.
I Watch that man," said the manager, " he is a
thief.   If you let him shoot himself I'll shoot you."
A smile of ineffable superiority flit over Mr,
Meguerditch's features. He hadn't the smallest intention of committing the happy dispatch.
The Montenegrin, though the manager's statement
must have been a terrible shock to him, said nothing 78
and watched his man. There was nobody else in the
The manager went to the safe, opened it and put in
the bag of gold ; then he bolted off post-haste to find
the directors. It took him some time, for there were
three of them, all of different nationalities, but he
finally ran them to earth and to the bank and there
they held solemn conclave together.
They examined Meguerditch, kept in durance vile
by the gigantic Montenegrin, as to what was the
meaning of his action in leaving the one bag out, but
this process proved the reverse of satisfactory, for he
simply refused to open his lips.
They then thought it would be a good idea to
examine the reserve, of which they were all so justly
proud ; and, unkindest cut of all, at the point of the
Montenegrin's dagger they pressed Meguerditch into
service, he being the only bank clerk on the premises.
There were two hundred bags to be opened and
weighed, and it took them many hours to get through.
Meguerditch didn't like it much, but the directors
liked it infinitely less.
The result of their interesting investigations was
that eighty-five of the two hundred bags proved to be
dummies ; of the right weight to a nicety, but alas !
not of the right contents. The reserve had not been
called upon for several years to any great extent, and
Meguerditch had had it all his own way.   His modus AN ARMENIAN ATROCITY.
operandi was as simple as it was ingenious, and goes
to show what wonderful results can be attained if only
sufficient intelligence be furnished by the employee
and sufficient confidence by the employer. Neither
had been wanting in this instance. All he had to do
when throwing his bags of gold into the iron safe,
while the manager walked up and down, was to wait
till the latter was at the other end of the room and
slip a sack into its snug hiding-place between the safe
and the wall, calling out its number as he did so, and
hey, presto ! the pass was made.
But Mr. Meguerditch had taken a leaf out of the
manager's book and grown careless. If he had only
moved his bag that night back again into his own
department immediately after the manager had left,
as he usually did, the fraud would not have been discovered, at any rate on that occasion. He had intended
to come back quietly and 1 write up his accounts "
that night and carry the bag off, as he had done on
eighty-five previous occasions, replacing it by a
dummy sack in the morning. He had carried an
innocent-looking hand-bag "containing his lunch"
for years. Meguerditch's bag was quite an institution ! The manager did not wait to take the cash out
in the morning ; he simply unlocked the safe and went
back to his work, leaving Meguerditch to do the rest.
But how, it will be asked, was not the fraud discovered when the reserve was verified, as it was every six 1
,!>.' ft
J S-»" J
months, in the presence of the directors ? Again, for
the simple reason of the perfect confidence reposed in
Meguerditch. He it was who counted the bags, and
he it was who opened them ; one here, one there,
promiscuously ; for it was clearly not worth while to
waste the valuable time which would have to be
expended in examining each one separately. His
dummy sacks were arranged with great art and
ingenuity. He knew which they were, but the
directors didn't. In other words, he forced cards upon
them every time the reserve was inspected, and they
were none the wiser. And so it came to pass in the
long run that the bank was eighty-five thousand
pounds to the bad—quite an item, even in prosperous
times. When the facts eked out the bank shares fell
ten per cent, and our opinion of Armenian cashiers a
hundred. Curiously perhaps, but certainly fortunately, the next dividend was a | thumper " and the
shareholders, for some reason or other, never asked
any questions which could not be answered by the past
master in diplomacy " in the chair."
But where was the money ? This the son of Haik
refused to tell. That it existed in some shape or form
the directors had every reason to believe ; for search
as they would, they could find no evidence of
Meguerditch having speculated. He evidently did
not believe in stocks and shares. He dealt solely
He was, of course, arrested and tried on the charge
of stealing eighty-five thousand pounds. His defence
was | Not guilty." He stated that he hadnevertaken
a cent ; that the bag found by the manager had
slipped down without his noticing it while he was
putting the cash into the safe.
We all thought this a lamentably weak defence, but
it went, as the saying is. It was merely a case of
circumstantial evidence, the assumption being that no
one but Meguerditch could have taken the money.
But it is hard to get a conviction in some countries,
especially in the case of a man who has got eighty-
five thousand pounds of your money wherewith to
fight you, and it is not only in the British colonies
that judges' decisions are deferred beyond the
crack of doom.
It took the bank two years and a half to get a con-
|||etion, at the end of which time they had spent quite
a comfortable percentage of the original loss in legal
expenses. The sentence, when given, was three years'
imprisonment, of which Meguerditch had already
served two and a half. At the end of the time he
emerged from confinement none the worse apparently
for his incarceration. Then he went for a trip to
Europe, and ever since, as I have reason to believe,
he has thoroughly enjoyed himself.
I would venture to wager that, if still alive, he commands eighty-five thousand pounds'   worth   of the 11411
respect and admiration of his fellow-men, and is in
all probability chairman of a Society for the
Propagation of Armenian Atrocities.
CERTAINLY no more popular fellow ever joined
the army of unemployed which took part in the
Russo-Turkish war than Rowton Crayfurd. He had
seen good service in other parts of the world under the
English colours as the medals he displayed on occasions amply testified, and if he did not distinguish
himself at the front and come back covered with
glory, it was simply because he never had a chance.
He was one of the best sportsmen I ever met, and
blessed with the sweetest temper imaginable. He had
been gazetted through diplomatic influence as aide de
camp to the commander-in-chief of the Turkish forces
in Europe, with the rank of miralai, which corresponds to our grade of full colonel, and he drew his
pay regularly every month. He also drew as regularly, but with less satisfaction, upon the funds of
experience created by Ottoman procrastination for the
special benefit of foreign employees, whether civil or Iff
m I
military, in Turkish employ, and whereunto they all
contribute largely in the shape of that Hope deferred
which maketh the heart sick.
He passed through the various stages of expectation, hourly, daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, as
time went on, that he would get his orders to go up to
the front. But they never came; that is one of the
marked characteristics of Turkish orders, always
excepting those pertaining to decorations which can
be had for the asking. Good looking, with the
manners of a Chesterfield, the ladies simply swore by
him. He was one of those men who always carried
his wife's photograph within easy access, (inner breast
pocket on the left hand side of his coat for choice),
and would produce it on the smallest possible provocation. A fairly well-informed man, too, in his way,
who had seen and travelled much. He could talk
about most things, but on no subject did he wax more
really eloquent than on the subject of married felicity.
I remember him showing me the photograph of his
wife for the first time, and shall never forget the
eloquent and able lecture he delivered on that occasion
upon the charms of matrimony. He was a great believer
in men marrying young ; and always regretted, he used
to. say, that he had not had the good fortune to meet
his wife earlier in life himself. He had been so
intensely happy as a married man that he positively
grudged every day which he had spent as a bachelor. HEIR-AT-LAW.
All you have to do is to choose the right woman as he
had done and the rest is a foretaste of Heaven. The
Wag at the Club suggested an alternative, but this
made Crayfurd mad, and when in this frame of mind
he had a tendency to discard logic for more drastic if
less convincing methods of argument.
The photograph of Mrs. Crayfurd, which all his
friends, whose name was legion, very soon knew as
well as they knew her husband, represented a brunette
of some twenty-six summers; certainly pretty, but
when one had said that, one had said all that her
portrait conveyed. There was certainly nothing,
judging by appearances, to warrant the rhapsodies into
which the gallant Colonel, at the mere mention of her
name so invariably lapsed. Crayfurd was a great big
fellow, six feet high, of fine build and commanding
presence ; with a good healthy eye on him, and a face
open and frank as the noonday sun. It was the first
time that he had left his wife since their marriage five
years before, and he felt the separation keenly. He
used to tell us that he could not go on like this, that
he would have to have her out, whether his orders
came or not; and, consequently, we were none of us
surprised, when Crayfurd had given up all hope of
serving the Turks more effectually than by wearing
their uniform, to hear that Mrs. Crayfurd was journeying eastward on her way to join her husband. As
they   had no children, it was  an easy matter for 86
her to "strike tents,"  as he put it, and join him.
Crayfurd was of good family and of great expectations. He was heir to a Scotch earldom. This, of
course, may have accounted in some measure for his
popularity. I verily believe, however, that the great
majority of his friends had been grappled to his soul
with hooks of steel long before he " let on " to the fact
that he was a personage infuturo.
The present earl was his cousin, a younger man by
at least ten years than Crayfurd, who must have been
about seven or eight and thirty.
As soon as he got news that his wife had started,
he was in a perfect fever of anxiety until she arrived.
She was coming via Trieste, a voyage of some ten days'
duration, and one might have imagined, from the state
of nervousness into which he worked himself, that no
ship had ever sailed the Mediterranean before without
going down with all hands on board.
We were quite surprised to notice that the Earl of
Clanmore was amongst the arrivals at the hotels by
the same steamer which brought Mrs. Crayfurd. We
had heard nothing to the effect that he was expected,
and that pleasing tremor of excitement which is ever
disseminated by the magic influence of a coronet
fluttered through the community. Crayfurd was
delighted. It was the luckiest thing in the world, he
explained, that his cousin should have made up his
mind to come out  at that particular juncture, and HEIR-AT-LAW.
thus give his wife the benefit of an escort. She was a
wretched sailor and terribly nervous. Altogether a
most fortunate concatenation of circumstances, said
Rowton Crayfurd. None the less was it difficult to
disguise the fact that the noble earl managed effectually
to conceal all traces of his proud lineage in his appearance ; for a more miserable looking, undersized,
unhealthy object never posed as a peer. Personal
acquaintance with Mrs. Crayfurd only served to confirm
the opinion which had been generally formed of her
from her photograph. We all agreed that there was
nothing in her, and wondered what on earth old Crayfurd could have seen to make him fall so desperately
in love. But doubtless she possessed some of those
wonderful ways common to the daughters of Eve for
subduing the hearts of men, and after all it was no
business of ours.
The Wag at the Club, very shortly after Mrs. Cray-
furd's arrival, christened her husband " Rawdon
Crawley." There was just enough similarity between
the names and characters of the two men, and, unfortunately, it very soon became apparent that there was
just enough similarity between the circumstances of
the two cases to make the joke a passable one. Mrs.
Crayfurd, however, save in one particular, was not in
the least like "Becky Sharp." But, of course,
Crayfurd was the last man to notice anything.
Lookers-on    at    matrimony,   as   in    the   case   of ii
i iir
other pastimes, very often   see most of   the game.
Crayfurd took a house for his wife, at no little
expense, and used to entertain a good deal, but he
could not for the life of him understand why it was
that Mrs. Crayfurd did not take the position in society
to which she was obviously entitled, and which, in his
opinion, she was so eminently qualified to adorn.
There was never any lack of men at the Crayfurds'
Saturday evenings, but wives and sisters were generally otherwise engaged,  at any rate they never went.
Possibly they were afraid that they wouldn't get away
till Sunday morning. Crayfurd had been known to
account for their absence on this ground, and suggested
to his wife the advisability of changing the night.
Mrs. Crawford may have considered that it wouldn't
make any difference, but, whether she entertained this
opinion or not, no alteration was ever made.
One day, like a bolt from the blue came
Crayfurd's marching orders. He was to join headquarters in Bulgaria immediately, taking ship to
Varna, and rail thence to Rasgrad, where the main
Turkish division was encamped. He was torn in
pieces by conflicting emotions, as many a soldier has
been before him. Joy at the prospect of seeing active
service, which his soul loved, and sorrow at the
certainty of leaving his wife whom his soul adored.
But he arranged everything in no time with martial
promptitude, and   within   twenty-four   hours   from
receipt of his yol parasi (journey money) was on board
a Turkish steamer en route for the seat of war. Mrs.
Crayfurd was to go home that week even as she had
come out, under the protecting escort of the noble Earl,
but nobody, with the exception of her husband,
thought the arrangement an advisable one. The
parting between them had been of the most affectionate nature, and we gave old Crayfurd the most
tremendous "send-off at the club. Several of us
went down to the harbour to see the last of him on
board the rotten old hulk which was to take him to
his destination. As he stood waving "good-bye" to
us on the after deck, he looked the picture of soldierly
"Poor old Rawdon," said the Wag, who
was one of the party, " I hope he'll get shot; it's the
best thing that can happen to him," and then none of
us spoke for a long time. Yet the Wag was not of a
murderous disposition.
Two days afterwards we heard rumours that a Turkish
steamer had come to grief in the Black Sea, and it did
not take us very long to arrive at the conclusion that
she was the one in which Rowton Crayfurd had sailed.
But we got no news of him. Government departments
are not prodigal of information at any time, and the
Seraskierat, as the Turkish war office is called, is no
exception to the general rule. So we had to content
ourselves with vague surmise and speculation, which lii!
in war time are more than usually rife. Somehow or
other none of us cared to go to Crayfurd's house and
make enquiries. This possibly may have been due to
the fact that Mrs. Crayfurd was busy making arrangements for departure, and, young though some of us
were at the time, we all knew enough to know that
women hate to be disturbed by visitors when they are
The next thing we heard was that Rowton was in
hospital, dangerously ill with brain fever, that Mrs.
Crayfurd and the Earl with his arm in a sling had
gone home (nobody, curiously enough, had gone on
board to see them off) ; altogether we got hopelessly mixed up over the whole business, and lost ourselves in a maze of contradictory statements, out of
which a story gradually evolved itself somewhat on
the following lines, which eventually came to be
regarded as the only correct version.
Subsequent events certainly lent it a tinge of
Crayfurd's steamer had been wrecked on the European shore of the Black Sea, and though no lives were
lost—thanks to the admirable rocket and lifeboat
service which guards that treacherous coast—thanks
again to the Englishmen in command—the crew and
passengers had a very rough time. Crayfurd was
three parts drowned, but the very instant he had sufficiently recovered to know where he was he had got a HEIR-AT-LAW
horse and gallopped the thirty miles into town, his
one idea being to relieve his wife's mind, for he was
fearful lest she should hear of the wreck and go off her
head with anxiety for his safety.
He arrived at his house about eleven o'clock at
What happened on his arrival we never knew for
certain, but it eked out through that extremely unreliable source the "servants' hall," or its Eastern
equivalent, that there had been a terrible scene. The
sofragi (manservant) who had let his master in had
observed that he looked curiously at a man's hat and
coat which hung in the hall. He asked whose they
were, and on being told that they belonged to the
English milor, had gone rapidly upstairs. Almost immediately afterwards the sofragi had heard a woman's
scream, then the sound of a body falling heavily
on the floor, followed a moment later by a heavier fall
still. Then his mistress had come to the top of the
stairs and called for him as he thought in a very
frightened voice to go and fetch a doctor, and on his
return after a quarter of an hour his master was lying
on his face, and the doctor said he had had a fit and
that they must take him off to the hospital. The
English milor was not there, he had gone to his
Such was the story as we heard it at the club and
elsewhere for that matter in perhaps it fiftieth edition, II
!i :
always uncorroborated, be it ever remembered, by
sworn or even authenticated testimony.
They had taken his master to the hospital, and a
day or two afterwards his mistress had gone away.
This was the story of An don, the Armenian sofragi.
Possibly the stories of the other servants may have
been quite different, but as we never knew what they
were it is impossible to say.
Poor Crayfurd was in hospital for nearly four
months. During his convalescence, which was terribly
slow, he refused to see any one.
The doctors said it was just as well for none of us
would have known him. He got sick leave and went
home to England.
Then came a cause celebre in the Divorce Court,
resulting in a decree nisi. This, in due course, was
made absolute.
A wedding followed, but not at St. George's, Hanover Square.
We were terribly grieved for poor Crayfurd, but we
all thought it was foolish of him, under the circumstances, to get a divorce.
Several, however, were of opinion that his folly as
compared with that of the Earl of Clanmore was as
the wisdom of Solomon. On the other hand, the Wag
was heard to observe that his marriage was the only
manly action of which the noble Earl had ever been
guilty. HEIR-AT-LAW.
Within a year the following announcement appeared
in the Times:—
I At Strathleigh Castle, Dumfries-shire, the Countess
of Clanmore, of a son."
But   what   became   of Rowton Crayfurd ?     You
must ask me another, for I do not know.
kbscV 94
NO. 1,682,321,
IT is probable that you will not be enamoured of
his - profession, for it is one which, from a Western
point of view, is scarcely likely to commend itself to
your approval. He was a coffee-pounder pure and
Perhaps you think it makes no difference whether
your coffee is pounded or grounded. It makes all the
difference in the world, and all in favour of pounding.
I admit, my dear Westerner, that the possibilities
of your country are boundless, quite beyond my
limited capacity to conceive ; still less within my
limited capacity to describe, but, in the matter of
actualities, at any rate as regards coffee, you will
permit me to observe that they are simply norf-
existant—from an Eastern point of view—of course.
I do not take upon myself to assert that coffee in
Canada is not good, but I venture to maintain without
fear of contradiction that coffee in Stamboul is still S3*«
NO. 1,682,321.
better and that the brand dealt in by Hadji Ali,
though guiltless of advertisement, was the finest in
the world.
He possibly was in blissful ignorance of the fact,
but for all that he pounded away like the village
blacksmith, | week in, week out, from morn till night,':
for all he was worth.
This may not have been much perhaps in this
world's goods, but Hadji Ali had " possibilities," or, as
he considered them, certainties in sto*e. He had good
gifts, too, in the matter of physical strength. In the
coffee-pounding line they are of great advantage, for
the occupation is rather physical than intellectual.
His earthly domain was scarcely bigger than the
conventional six-foot lot which is the inheritance of
us all—Turks included—though they prefer being
buried in an upright position. Just room for his
coffee mortar, a little pit wherein he stood himself, a
wooden box containing his ground coffee which he
sold retail to the general public, and another to hold
his roasted berries which he bought wholesale from
the coffee roaster across the street. Above his head
again was a wooden bunk (coloured by coffee grounds
like a well-seasoned meerschaum) wherein Hadji Ali
His pestle was five feet long and exceedingly heavy.
I should not like to have been the coffee which Hadji
Ali pounded. 96
NO. 1,682,321.
A terribly monotonous existence he led. Whenever
I passed his shop, which was twice daily for many
years, he was always at his place, pounding away for
dear life ; for Hadji Ali's pestle and mortar, like the
mills of the Gods, ground exceedingly small, and the
coffee, when it left his hands, was even as the .finest
wheat flour, differing only in colour, which was of a
deep, rich, golden brown ; and the scent thereof—why,
you could smell it a hundred yards off with the
greatest ease, and, if there was anything of a wind
blowing, it would think nothing of tickling your
nostrils with the most delicious of odours a quarter of
a mile away.
No matter how I came to make Hadji Ali's
acquaintance. It took one some time to really know
him, for he was nearly as brown as the coffee he
pounded ; so also was his scanty apparel. He did not
want much in the way of clothes, did Hadji Ali, for
the nature of his occupation kept him warm all the
year round.
Gradually I got on quite friendly terms with him,
and learnt his story, told to the musical ring of his
pestle and mortar.
Hadji Ali, like all great men, was consumed with an
idea. He had a mind which reached flights far
removed from coffee-pounding.
There was a fortune in store for him, as there is for
all of us did we but know it.    He was a firm  believer NO. 1,682,321.
in the Turkish equivalent of the French proverb,
I Everything comes to those who know how to wait;"
and Hadji Ali knew perfectly well how to wait,
pounding coffee the while with pertinacity worthy
■of a nobler occupation. I found out the idea which
dominated his mind quite by accident, as indeed
some of the greatest discoveries are made.
Hadji Ali had a share in the Roumelian Railway
Lottery. He had paid six pounds for it, the result of
Ms savings for several years (for coffee-pounding is
not a lucrative employment) and he had made up his
mind that his number, 1,682,321, was going to win the
grand prize, or Cros Lot, as it was generally called.
He had ideas, too, all his own, as to how to spend
the money when once he came into his inheritance.
Hadji Ali was not alone in his belief that he was
going to win a fortune by the turn of a wheel.
Hundreds and thousands of people, myself included,
were imbued with precisely the same idea; but none
of us were so positively certain on the subject as Hadji
Ali. I had several shares myself in the lottery, and
■consequently my chances were to that extent greater
than those of my coffee-pounding friend, but I found
on comparing notes, during the course of one of our
many conversations, that this made not the slightest
difference to him. All that he would admit was that
possibly one of my numbers might draw the Gros Lot 98
NO. 1,682,321.
a month or so before his did, which, after all, was as
big a concession as I could reasonably expect him to
The Gros Lot was certainly worth the winning. It
amounted to no less than twenty-four thousand
pounds, and there were three drawings of this amount
in the year. There were also other three drawings of
twelve thousand pounds, making six altogether. I
make no mention of lesser amounts, of which there
were several hundreds, even down to the^ paltry sum
of sixteen pounds, which was the smallest, because
we never took the probabilities of drawing anything
less than the biggest into account. Personally I
believe had I drawn only the twelve ■ thousand pound
ticket I should have felt seriously aggrieved. Hadji
Ali, I feel convinced, would have refused to accept it.
All this, be it remembered, was prior to the repudiation of the Turkish debt.   After that the deluge.
The drawings took place, as I have Jsaid, every two
months, under the auspices of the State bank ; and it
was my duty, in company with some|dozen of my
fellows, on the occasion in question, to repair at about
eleven o'clock in the forenoon, to a department in the
Old Seraglio palace of historic fame, where the wheel
containing the numbers was kept. The operation of
the drawing was an exceedingly interesting one, and
by no means devoid of ceremony.
The room itself was a huge place, not altogether NO. 1,682,321.
unlike a theatre; for there were seats ranged all
round, with desks for the bank clerks, and a dais
whereon the big-wigs, such as the Minister of Finance,
or his representative, a director of the bank or his
locum tenens, would sit and supervise proceedings.
The portion reserved for the public was always
crammed full with eager and expectant faces, many
hundreds in number; each one buoyed up with
expectancy and hopeful for the best.
In the centre of the room stood the big wheel, which
must have been at least eight feet high. It was made of
glass, so that all might see that things were done fairly
and above-board. In the side of it was a small door,
locked with a double padlock, whereof the bank held
one key and the Minister of Finance the other.
When all was in readiness, the aide de camp of the
Minister was sent out into the street; the object of
his mission being to seize the first ragged, dirty and
vulgar little boy whom he could lay hands on, and
bring him to the scene of action. Frequently, the
little boy protested and thought he was going to be
hamstrung; but when he found that there was a
dollar fee in sight, his anxiety instantly gave place to
A dollar is a wonderful medium of conversion,
whether in the West or in the East.
When all was in readiness, two hamals (porters)
fitted a crank on each side to the axle of the wheel and Sim i
100 NO. 1,682,321.
turned it many times, and we could all see the myriad
tickets inside tumbling over each other and turning
somersaults in their eagerness to be drawn. The
sound they made was like that of distant waves
receding over shingle.
The little boy was hoisted up on a very high stool,
and the door in the side of the wheel was unlocked.
Then the little boy's arm was bared to the shoulder ;
he put his hand into the wheel, wherefrom he drew
one by one the requisite number of tickets. Each contained a series of five numbers, rolled up tight in the
form of a miniature cigarette and gummed down.
Assuming that one hundred numbers had to be drawn
at each drawing, it would follow that twenty tickets
were taken out of the big wheel. These were handed
over to the bank clerks, who opened them out and
copied the five numbers on to separate slips, which
were again rolled up and gummed down. The hundred new tickets thus formed were put into quite a
small wheel, standing close to the large one. This
was spun round with great velocity by turning the
handle some minutes, and it is no more than true to
state that the tickets inside did not dance half so fast
as did the hopes of the audience.
The real business of the day was now about to
commence. Amid the most deathlike silence, the
small wheel was opened, the small boy's arm was
bared again and thrust in up to the elbow. NO. 1,682,321.
I could see it trembling with excitement from where
I sat at the clerk's table.
The first ticket drawn out contained the number of
the Gros Lot. The small boy handed the ticket to the
aide de camp of the Minister of Finance, who opened
it and in stentorian tones read it out amidst breathless
expectation to the audience. There were few supremer
moments in a life of Oriental splendour 1
The same operation was repeated for the minor
prizes, until the sixteen pound category was reached,
and then the crowd gradually filed out, leaving the
bank clerks behind them to make out the lists of all
the winning numbers for publication. These were
printed and sold by the various publishing offices in
the city, and were in all hands before the day was
Hadji Ali used to take an hour or two off from his
coffee pounding when the drawings took place. It was
the only holiday he ever took. He would go early,
and always occupied the same place, with ever the
same look of patient interest on his face. He
would look across at me and smile good-humouredly.
On the evening before one of the drawings for the Gros
Lot, I stopped, as I frequently did on my way home,
at his tiny store, and said, " Good evening, Hadji.
So to-morrow's the day again. I suppose there is no
doubt about your winning this time ?"
| Kim Bilir" (who knows ?) he said, " Let us hope 102
NO. 1,682,321.
so. Allah kerim, God's will be done, I feel hopeful. I
think I shall win it this time."   Then I passed on.
The next day, Hadji Ali cleaned up for the
occasion, was in his place as usual, and the operation
which I have just described was gone through.
I knew Hadji Ali's number by heart, and it was
with a feeling of intense excitement that I heard the
aide de camp read out its first five figures.
1,682,3—I looked across at Hadji Ali, and shall never
forget the expression on his face. 2—His eyes were
nearly starting from their sockets. 1—Hadji Ali had
won the Gros Lot, twenty-four thousand pounds, and
announced the fact to the audience by falling flat on
his face with a terrible cry.
Then there was a commotion in the room, a hurried
movement in his direction, the babble of many voices,
and I saw my old friend no more. The excitement
had been too much for him. He had burst a blood
vessel, and Hadji Ali, the coffee pounder, lay dead,
with the winning lottery ticket for twenty-four
thousand pounds in his hand.
IT was blowing great guns from the south, and not
a caiquegi (boatman) could be induced, for love or
money, to face the wind and current. When a Bosphorus caiquegi refuses to put a monetary value on
his services, you may rest thoroughly assured that the
weather is not inviting.
As a rule, the stream runs from north to south, that
is from the Black Sea to the Marmora, in consequence
of the prevalence of northerly breezes; but when the
wind shifts round to the south and blows^ as it sometimes does, for several days in succession, it has the
effect of reversing the order of the currents and of
upsetting everybody's calculations not to mention, on
occasion, a casual caique or two, though to do the
boatmen justice, accidents are of extremely rare
We had been playing football, for the Rugby game
travelled far afield even in those days.   So long ago, 104
however, is it that I cannot take upon myself to make
oath and say positively whether it was the Welsh
system which found favour amongst us or not;
whether we played three three-quarter backs or four ;
two halves or a whole ; a close or an open scrimmage,
and whether or not we screwed the scrum. These
details have faded from my memory, but I do distinctly remember that we all thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, which is after all a point quite as important as
any other.
Lesley (one of our forwards and a terror to tackle),
surgeon of H. M. S. Gazelle, then stationed at Constantinople, was staying with me, and we had been
foolish enough after the game to stop at the club to
play poker and imbibe whiskies and sodas for longer
than we should have done. The consequence was that
we speedily met the reward of our misdeeds by losing
our last steamer up the Bosphorus, whereat Lesley, I
regret to say, used language quite unfit for publication. Our only alternative was to take a carriage (an
operation almost as expensive as the poker had been)
and drive six miles or so up the European shore to a
village opposite my quarters on the other side. Here
we reckoned confidently upon getting a caique to take
us across. But we reckoned without our host, for
when we got there the cupboard was bare, as we discovered to our dismay five minutes after we had
burnt   our   ships    behind    us    by   dismissing  the
carriage    which    had    brought    us    from    town.
It would have been easy to drive back whence we
had come had we but kept the carriage, which we
hadn't. It would have been easy too to stay where
we were and find a lodging for the night in the
cafinet of the village. But this would not have been
pleasant, for previous experience of similar quarters
did not inspire us with any desire to renew their
acquaintance. To say that you have a lively
time when you spend the night in a Greek
cafinet does not necessarily imply that you have
good sport or enjoy yourself. As a matter of
fact, the game is not worth the candle, though without
the candle you stand mighty little chance of securing
the game, and when you've got it, as often as not you
wish you hadn't. A Greek cafinet is the most densely
populated habitation on the surface of the globe. It
can give a North-West log-hut, not to mention certain
frame-built hotels on the prairie, a million to the
square inch and never feel the odds. I speak whereof
I know, for I have been in both.
We stood on the quay for a minute or two debating
together as to what we should do, and finally decided
that if we could, by hook or by crook, get a boatman
to face the storm, we would risk our lives on the water
rather than our skins on shore. At least we would
die like men if we could not fall like one of the
princes. !'■
There was only one chance, to rout out a caiquegi
and induce him, by fair means or foul, to take us
across. We accordingly made a bee line for the
cafinet, where I knew all the caiquegis of the village
would be congregated at this hour—about eight
o'clock—after their evening meal. But not, oh,
whiskey-loving Westerner, as you might possibly
imagine, upon spirituous purpose bent. They eschewed
all liquor more noxious than coffee, strong and
pungent, wherewith and cigarettes galore, they solaced
themselves till bedtime came. Then the married
ones went home and the bachelors quietly slipped
from off the wooden stools, whereon they sat, to the
earthen floor, whereon they slept—Ce n'etait pas plus
difficile que cela.
The cafinet was choke full of cigarette and narghileh
(the water-pipe or hubble-bubble) smoke. Caiquegis
of all sorts and conditions were sitting about—some
on small stools playing trick-track or tavlieh (our
backgammon) some playing cards—though neither
game for money—some cross-legged on the floor, some
on a divan which ran all round the room. None of
them took the smallest notice of us as we entered,
though they all knew perfectly well what we wanted.
There was no hurry—there seldom is in Turkey.
Serious negotiations of this nature had to be undertaken with becoming gravity and decorum. Besides, it
was the old story of supply and demand all over again. ■■«■
As a rule the weather was fine and there were more
caiques to be had than passengers to fill them. Then
the boatmen would fight for your custom, but on this
occasion the conditions were reversed. Demand was
considerably in excess of supply, and we knew intuitively that the price would rise.
I Ti thelete ? " asked the cafSgi, bustling up as soon
as we were seated.
"Fere mas dio cafetMs" (Bring us a couple of coffees),
I answered, whereat Lesley fretted and fumed, for, lik e
Mr. Justice Stareleigh, his temper bordered on the
irritable, and brooked not delay, but he had to possess
his soul in patience.
As we sipped our coffee I asked the cafegi, an old
acquaintance, if he thought we should be able to get
a boat to cross to-night, but he shook his head.
"Athunatos" (impossible) "that man over there,"
pointing to a Greek who was talking and gesticulating somewhat excitedly to a group in a corner," has
been trying for an hour to persuade the men to take
him across, but they will not go. The chelibi will have
to stay here to-night."
There were consequently three of us in the same
boat, or to be accurate, desirous of being in the same
boat, could we only get one to get into.
I crossed the room and added my arguments to
those of the Greek, who, when he found that I and
my companion were bent upon the same errand as he 108
was, was with difficulty restrained from embracing the
pair of us. Such effusiveness was no novelty to me,
but Lesley did not appreciate it.
Finally, seeing our endeavours were of no avail, we
decided, in high dudgeon, to walk to the next village, a
distance of about a mile, where there were other and,
as we hoped, more valorous caiquegis.
When we got outside there was no question but that
it would require a good boatman and a better boat to
face the wind and waves. Though the storm was
behind us, we had some difficulty in keeping our feet,
for it came up in great gusts and had no more respect
for us than if we had been weathercocks. The Greek,
talking incessantly and abusing the whole tribe of
boatmen, from Dan to Beersheba, forged on ahead. We
following close in his footsteps.
" Do you know this fellow?" asked Lesley as the
storm lulled for a moment.
I No," I answered, "never saw him in my life before.
Why ?"
" Oh ! Nothing," he replied, but something in his
voice made me repeat my question.
I Well, if you really want to know, he's mad, that's
" Mad ! How on earth do you know ? If you come
to that, my dear fellow, he's no madder than we are to
want to get across the Bosphorus on a night like this."
II was watching him closely while you were talking CROSSING THE BOSPHORUS.
in the cafinet, and I tell you he's as mad as a hatter.
I was assistant in a private asylum before I joined the
service, and you can't deceive me."
I hadn't the smallest desire to deceive him, but I
had a wholesome dread of insanity in every shape and
form, being a bit of a madman myself.
Suddenly we heard voices on the water, and recognised the splash of oars. As we turned a corner of
the quay into a small bay, more or less protected from
the wind, we could at least hear ourselves speak
with a moderate degree of comfort, and made
out through the gloom the form of a huge fishing
caique approaching us on its way down from the
Black Sea.
" Here's our chance," said the Greek, excitedly.
I These big boats will face anything," and he yelled
like a maniac to attract the attention of an old Turk,
the captain, who was sitting cross-legged, turbaned
and fur-wrapped on the raised poop in the stern and
steering with an oar some twenty feet in length. The
caique was pulled by eight men.
As they came in shore as close as possible to avoid
the force of the up current, we induced them to stop
alongside the quay, where there was comparatively
smooth water. In five minutes the Greek, who would
let no one else get a word in, had concluded a bargain;
we were to be landed at my quarters on the Asiatic
shore of the Bosphorus, in consideration of a gold lira, !IIJf
say five dollars and call it square. In another minute
we were "all aboard."
The boat was filthily dirty, smelling vilely of fish,
and bearing every evidence of the trade in which it
was engaged, for a coating of silver scales covered it
almost completely from stem to stern. We, however,
being dressed in our football rig, were not very particular ; but the Greek, who was clad apparently in
his Sunday or store clothes, began to find fault, in
none of the politest terms, the very instant we had
pushed off from the shore. He wanted to know what
they meant by not cleaning their boat before embarking passengers, and declared that the fee they had
charged was a positive swindle. A minute or two before he had been howling to be taken on board at any
I did my best to calm him down, for I had no particular fancy for the company we were in. However,
my expostulations only seemed to make him the more
irritable, and at a sign from Lesley, I let him alone,
whereupon he began to abuse the old captain, of impassive demeanour, who paid not the slightest attention, possibly because I had taken the precaution of
whispering to him as I got on board that the man was
mad. The Turks venerate insane people, and let them
do just as they please. Delli (mad) Mustapha roamed
the streets of Constantinople naked as the day he was
born   in   broad   day   for   years,  and   no   change
was made in his costume by official decree, until such
time as he accosted a foreign ambassadress upon the
Galata bridge. But this, though it is plagiarism to
say so, is another story.
Finding that his remarks produced no effect, friend
Greek became more and more abusive, despite our
efforts to quiet him, yet still not one word in reply
could he elicit from the impassive old statesman at
the helm. As his remarks■, however, were in Turkish,
everything that he said was perfectly understood by
the rest of the crew, though, fortunately, the work of
getting the caique through the water occupied most of
their attention.
Lesley and I felt very uncomfortable.
Finally a voice came from one of the two men
rowing stroke, who apparently was exasperated by the
taunts of the Greek. He said something to the effect
that no better behaviour could be expected from a
Giaour and a Eayah to boot.
The captain yelled to him to hold his tongue, that
the man was mad, but the words were hardly out of
his mouth when the madman was at his throat.
(Be it known that the term " Giaour" is a highly
opprobrious one, and is forbidden by law, though
this may seem strange to Western ideas, seeing that
being translated, it means nothing more than "infidel."
A Greek will stand a good deal, but mad or sane, he
won't stand being called an "unbeliever."   You may 112
disparage the good name of his mother, assail the
reputation of his wife, and he may agree to assess
damages on a cash basis, but call him a Giaour and
nothing short of blood will satisfy him.)
Lesley and I were on to him like a shot, and dragged
him off, though how we managed it in the dark, with
the boat pitching and tossing like a cockle-shell, without an accident, I have never been able to understand.
However, between us we got him down and sat on
him, and the poor devil's much-prized Sunday clothes
suffered, I fear, considerably from contact with the
Lesley evidently knew how to tackle a maniac and
acted scientifically.    I didn't, but obeyed impulse.
The Turks never moved, but went on stolidly
digging out at their oars.
Half stifled as he was, the Greek finally came to
terms ; and we let him have his liberty on the distinct understanding that he was not to open his mouth
again till we reached the other side and were safe on
shore. He seemed perfectly sensible and rational now
and even laughed at the incident. I weakened in
consequence on the insanity theory, and said to Leslie,
<! My dear fellow, the man's no more mad than you
are," whereupon he made the sapient remark, " That's
all you know about it."
Nothing of moment happened till the caique, some
twenty minutes later, drew up alongside the quay in
front of my house ; and it was with a feeling of the
most intense relief that I handed the money to the
captain and hopped out of the boat followed by Lesley.
I naturally expected the Greek to follow, but to my
astonishment he remained seated in the bottom of the
caique, smiling placidly.
" Aren't you coming out ? " I asked, apprehensively.
"No," he said, quite serenely; "I'm going to get
them to take me half a mile further down. It will be
more convenient for me than to land here."
This meant pulling for that distance dead in the
teeth of the terrific wind and current, and I knew that
if they did it at all, it would take them at least an
hour ; besides, it formed no part of the bargain.
I began to expostulate with him, when at a sign, as
it seemed to me, from the captain, and in an incredibly
short space of time, the mast was stepped in the forward thwart by the bow-oar, and a huge lug-sail was
fluttering in the wind. In ten seconds the boat
was fifty yards from the shore.
As the Greek realized what had happened, he stood
up, and with a wild yell for the second time that night
hurled himself at the throat of the man who had
called him a Giaour.
This, standing on the quay, we saw as in a flash for
the' boat was lost to sight almost immediately, and we'
could hear nothing as it seemed to us, but the sound
of a furious struggle, yells and screams from the M
Greek and curses from the Turks, gradually growing
fainter as the boat flew like an arrow before the wind.
Then came two revolver shots in rapid succession.
Fired by whom ? By the Greek at the Turks? By
the Turks at the Greek ?    We could not tell.
It seemed to our excited imagination that even above
the howl of the wind and storm we could hear the
muffled voice of the old captain, whom we pictured
sitting placidly cross-legged in the same attitude on
the poop, giving the order to his crew, | heave the dog
of a Christian overboard ! "
We neither of us slept comfortably that night.
Nothing could be done till the morning in the way
of making enquiries ; but next day I naturally set to
work with the view of discovering whether our suspicions were confirmed. To no purpose, however.
Enquiry at the cafinet where we had first met the
Greek led to no result. Nobody knew him, or where he
came from; and moreover, nobody knew anything
about the caique which had taken us across. I have
little doubt in my own mind, however, as to what
became of our fellow passenger.
1 vaamam
| SUCH a nice man, too ; such a very nice man."
Nobody for a moment believed that there could
be anything wrong about him, and when rumours of
a discreditable nature began to be circulated on his
account (rumours are invariably discreditable), we
were all furious and only worshipped our idol the
A major in the army ; regular army, if you please ;
nothing militious or volunteery about him, for one of
us looked him up in the Army List ; an old copy, it
is true ; but the confirmation of his respectability
thus obtained served to silence traducers, for the time
being at all events.
Then he always had lots of money, which sort of
smooths things generally in foreign climes ; and in
the charm of his personality, which was great, the
fact that he had omitted to bring or present any
letters of introduction came somehow to be overlooked,
which was foolish. 116      THROUGH A PAIR OF GLASSES DARKLY.
kit     3.
And so in due course it came about that Erskine
grew to be recognised as an essential factor in all
social functions. No one could lead a cotillon as he
could ; and certainly no one was a better hand at
brewing, or, for the matter of that, of imbibing claret
and other cups. He started a pack of hounds which
ran for a whole season, and a four-in-hand which ran
for a week.   Altogether a great acquisition.
He went everywhere, did everything, and always
had more engagements on hand than he could possibly
He certainly played high, and was never known to
refuse to take the bank at baccarat, or play chouette at
ecarte against the world. What is more, he almost invariably won.
Though he must have been close on forty, he was
perfectly sound in wind and limb, and could hold his
own in all games with many of us fifteen years -his
junior. His only trouble was weak eyesight. He
wore a pince-nez in the day time and a pair of dark
blue spectacles at night, though only when playing
cards or reading. He could not stand the glare of the
lamplight.    It hurt his eyes.
On one occasion when he had won quite a large
sum at ecarte some one remarked that he believed the
blue spectacles brought him luck, and Erskine didn't
seem to like it. Nobody likes allusion to his physical
infirmity, however slight.
A stranger Englishman turned up one day, and was
naturally introduced  at  the  club.    (We were  very
hospitable at the club, and when people were strangers
we often took them in.    Sometimes they returned the.
Certain remarks made by the Englishman, at a
friend's house, apropos of Erskine, whose name
happened to be mentioned, were of a nature to set us
all thinking.
What he said was : " That's not Talbot Erskine,
late of the th Rifles, who always wins at cards
when he wears blue spectacles, is it ?"
On being told that it was, and being pressed for an
explanation, he evidently thought he was on delicate
ground and refused to commit himself.
On another occasion and to different people he was
reported to have remarked that he wondered how long
it would be before Erskine had another attack of
This also came round to our ears and made us
extremely uncomfortable. It wasn't possible that
a man  of   Erskine's   physique   and  proficiency in
sport could ever but we very soon found that it
The stranger Englishman only stayed a few days—
the inside of a week. On the night that he left, we
missed Erskine from his place in the card room. On
making enquiries we learned that the major was con-
ffll II
fined to his lodgings, having been indisposed during
the whole time of the stranger Englishman's visit.
Somebody went to his lodgings, which were close to
. the club, to find out what was the matter.    In about
ten minutes he came back again, looking rather white.
11 say, you fellows, some of you had better come
over to ErBkine's room. He's got about the worst
attack of D.T.'s I ever saw. He's like a raving maniac,
and his landlady is scared out of her wits. I expect
he'll tear the house down or do something desperate
if he isn't made fast."
Though the room was full at the time, as he spoke
in English, only a few of us understood and some
three or four followed him out of the club.
| Better send for Stubber," he said, | he ought to
have been called in long ago."
Stubber was an ex-naval doctor of great experience
in such cases, who was always ready to take charge of
patients of this description. " A fellow feeling makes
us wondrous kind," and they did say that Stubber
was occasionally on the verge of a similar malady
Be this as it may, we despatched a messenger for
Stubber, and went to Erskine's rooms.
At the door we met his Greek landlady, white with
terror, and invoking all the saints in her calendar.
Erskine was in his room, rushing up and down in
his shirt and trousers, threatening the world generally
with instant death. He was swinging a pair of light
Indian clubs, at which exercise he was an expert
and, although we could see that the man was completely off his head, the dexterity with which he
manipulated them was quite extraordinary.
Lying open on the floor of his bed-room was a small
Gladstone bag which contained nothing but bottles
of brandy packed head and tail in their straw sheaths.
The bag held exactly one dozen and of the dozen five
were empty ; the assumption being that Erskine had
drunk their contents in something over forty-eight
Suddenly he stopped and made a wild dash at himself in the looking-glass, which he smashed into a
thousand pieces at a blow. He then caught sight of
his riding-boots, which were standing in their trees in
a corner of the room. - He evidently thought that
there was a man in them ; a man, moreover, whom he
did not love, for he hurled one club at about the
height of his imaginary enemy's head, and then,
yelling out with a most awful imprecation, " No, you
don't," he closed with his visionary assailant, throwing himself against the wall, exactly in the attitude
of a man who tries to tackle and throw another.
This was our chance ; we all closed in behind
him, and in a very few minutes had him overpowered
and on his bed.
Then Stubber appeared on the scene, and we were ill
glad to feel that the responsibility of handling him
was off our shoulders.
I He must go to the hospital," said Stubber. " I
cannot treat a case like this here. Meanwhile, I will
write a prescription," and he hurriedly wrote one
which we hastened to have made up.
The prescription included an order for a strait-
waistcoat ; and in another half-hour Erskine, bound
so that he could move neither hand or foot, and gagged
to boot—for from his howls one would have imagined
that he was being murdered—was duly transplanted
to the hospital.
There, we learnt, he had a very lively time, and
made things interesting for all who came near him.
Very soon after Erskine went to the hospital, one of
us received an envelope addressed in an unknown
hand, containing nothing but a cutting from an old
French newspaper, describing how a man had been
discovered at a continental watering place using cards
marked on the back with some preparation resembling
luminous paint which was invisible to the rest of the
players but perfectly patent to him owing to the fact
that he wore dark blue spectacles. Some of us felt
quite badly about it and wanted to go and visit one
of the patients in the hospital but he wasn't well
enough to be seen.
On his recovery, which was long drawn out, Erskine
did not put in an appearance  again at the club, but
disappeared from our horizon, leaving in many hearts
of one of the sexes and in many pockets of the other
an aching void.
I was on a steamer, .some five years later, on my
way home via the Mediterranean and occupied the
proud position of being the only male passenger
amongst a crowd of women and children, the wives
and families of American missionaries, who were returning to the States after a prolonged course of
proselytism in Armenia. I can justly state without exaggeration that I have found myself in more
congenial society. I do not doubt that the missionaries' wives did their duty nobly in that particularly uninteresting, and to my mind, misguided state
to which it may have pleased their husbands to call
them, but I cannot truthfully say that they shone
with any particular degree of lustre in the capacity of
fellow passengers. As for their children they were a
race apart. I have ever since included them in a
special litany of my own and attribute subsequent
troubles in the United States to the fact that they
have duly arrived at maturity.
It was therefore with a feeling of intense dejection
that I learnt on coming on board at Malta, where we
spent a couple of days, just before the ship sailed
again that we had not added to our list of passengers.
It was the first time, the steward told me, that they
had had such an   experience;   but it was in  the ft
middle   of   summer,  and   Malta   traffic   was   light.
I was leaning over the bulwark as the anchor w as
being weighed when I noticed a dyso (Maltese boat),
containing a couple of passengers and their luggage
being pulled rapidly towards the ship from the shore.
The captain caught sight of them and yelled out,
I If you want to take passage with me, you'll have to
be quick about it, for I'm under way ;" and the
boatman redoubled his efforts to come alongside.
The companion ladder was lowered and a couple
of men came quickly on deck their luggage being
hauled up after them.
My pulse quickened perceptibly. They were both
decent-looking fellows, one considerably younger than
the other and both evidently Britishers.
That tired feeling which comes over you when you
know a man's face perfectly well but can't put a
name to him took possession of me. Psychologists
have yet to account satisfactorily for the reason why
you can remember the first letter of a man's name
and not the rest of it. I was quite certain that one
of the new passengers' names began with E, but I
could not for the life of me supply the balance.
I was racking my brains to try and " locate " him,
as we say on this continent, when my eye fell on a
small Gladstone bag considerably the worse for wear
which had come up with the strangers' luggage.
This seemed strangely familiar, though why I did not THROUGH A PAIR OF GLASSES DARKLY.
know. Gladstone bags are much of a muchness all
the world over.
The new arrivals had gone to fix things in their
respective cabins, and I, consumed with curiosity
which demanded instant satisfaction, took advantage
of their absence to enquire their names of the steward.
"Lieutenant Dermott is the young one, sir, I
think," he said. " I know him for he came out with
us last year but I do not know the other gentleman.
I will tell you who he is as soon as  I  know myself."
One makes friends quickly on board ship, and not
many hours had passed before the new arrivals and
myself were discussing the charms of female American
missionaries.    And still I could not fix the elder man.
Shortly afterwards several of the ladies in question
accompanied by their offspring aforesaid appeared on
deck and in five minutes I had " located" Major
Erskine. There was no mistaking his deportment
with ladies. It always seemed to me that the older
and uglier and more uninteresting they were, the
greater pains he took to ingratiate himself with then
He had changed greatly Bince I had last seen him
having grown a beard and was moreover far grayer
than before.
I took an early opportunity of recalling myself to
his memory and he was positively over-joyed, or
appeared to be, at meeting me again.
Dermott and he, it appeared, were  merely casua i
acquaintances who had been introduced to each other
that very morning in Valetta.
That night, as we paced the deck, after everybody
else had retired he told me his story. How that,
after the little episode of the five empty brandy
bottles and the strait-waistcoat to which he alluded as
" that unfortunate occurrence," he had never touched
a drop of liquor ; that he had made up his mind to go
in for a complete cure. That he had done so with
the most remarkable results.
It appeared that there was dipsomania in his
family his own being by no means an isolated case
and the tales that he told harrowed up my youthful
blood to such an extent that I hardly slept a wink.
It would have been impossible for the most ardent
teetotal lecturer to expatiate upon the evils of
drunkenness with greater zeal and fervour than did
ex-toper Erskine. He talked to me as if I were a
confirmed drunkard myself and as if he had once sat
upon my head whereas as a matter of fact it was the
other way on. As we turned in somewhere in the
small hours the devil tempted me and I weakly fell.
I could not resist asking him if his eyes were better
and if he still had to wear blue spectacles at night.
He looked at me narrowly and answered shortly that
his eyes were all right now.
The satisfactory and thoroughly consoling part of
the whole thing, however, was that he was radically THROUGH A PAIR OF GLASSES DARKLY.     125
and completely cured not only of his unfortunate
propensity but of his weak sight and I could not but
admire the strength of character of which he had
given such abundant proof in undergoing the severe
treatment which he had so graphically described. It
is always refreshing not to say encouraging to see a
man break the neck of a bad habit by sheer force of
All the women and children in the ship went mad
over Erskine. He played shuffle-board and rope
quoits and deck cricket with the children and sang
Moody's & Sankey's hymns by the score to their
mothers for two whole days. Then he got—seasick.
He was a wretched sailor he had told us and as
the weather was beginning to get rough we naturally
attributed his absence from meals to this cause.
One of the under-stewards in the afternoon^
however, reported that he could not get into Erskine's
cabin; the door being locked on the inside. The
captain was duly informed of the fact but took no
notice of it.
No signs of Erskine that night at dinner. No signs
of him again next morning at breakfast; then
Dermott and I began to grow uneasy and together we
interviewed the captain.
I told him of my former experience, five years back,
and, though I did not for a moment imagine that we 126
were in for a recurrence of the same trouble a
suspicion that it might be the case began to make
itself unpleasantly felt.
" Why, in the name of thunder, didn't you tell me
this before ? " was all the consolation I got from the
the captain. " We have had no weather to speak of
to make a man sea-sick who has knocked about as
much as Major Erskine has. If he gives no signs of
life in an hour I'll break open the door."
Dermott and I went and listened at the Major's
cabin but at first we could hear nothing. Then every
now and again a clinking noise broke upon our ears
which sounded like the contact of glass against glass
as if empty bottles were rolling on the cabin floor and
knocking up against each other.
Our fears began to take definite shape.
At the appointed time the captain came down
himself accompanied by the ship's carpenter. He
battered away at the door and failing to get a reply,
the carpenter in a couple of minutes had the door
down.    Then we all started back in horror.
On his bunk, fully dressed, lay Erskine stone dead,
his head and one arm hanging over the side one
hand tightly clenched touched the floor. It was
badly cut but it was not bleeding then though he
had evidently died from loss of blood as the floor of
the cabin testified.
The Gladstone bag was lying open just  as it had THROUGH A PAIR OF GLASSES DARKLY.    127
been five years before. There was the same neatly
packed assortment of brandy bottles in straw sheaths
lying heads and tails with this difference only that
three instead of five were empty. One had been
smashed to pieces by the rolling of the ship. He
must have clenched his hand upon a broken piece of
glass and severed an artery for there was an awful
gash between the first finger and thumb.
There was no doctor on board and no inquest was
held but to the American Missionaries' wives he died
of heart disease. He was buried next day at sea and
only the children played shuffle-board for the rest of
the voyage.
—•©*-- 128
THERE was only one other saloon passenger by the
Austrian Lloyd steamer Achilles for Varna when I
went on board—a tall man who spoke fluent German
to the steward—I gave my orders in French. The
inference is obvious and not for nearly twenty-four
hours did we discover that we were both Britishers.
This is not to be claimed as an unique experience by
any manner of means for many people have encountered it before but at least it may be accepted in support of my assurance that neither of us up to this
point in the journey had exceeded the traditional
cordiality of his fellow countrymen en voyage.
The interesting.fact of our common nationality was
determined in this wise. On getting out of the train at
Roustchuk one of us trod on a dog and said "damn "
in a tone of annoyance; the other said "hallo ?" in a
tone of surprise. MUSTAPHA.
That was all, yet we have been firm friends ever
Roustchuck is on the Danube, which is bridgeless
in that part of the world. This is a great disadvantage, especially in the early days of spring.
Challis, for such was my newly-found compatriot's
name, was no less in a hurry to reach England than
I was, and when we found that the river was impassable, we rang the changes with great emphasis on the
monosyllable which had proclaimed the nationality
of my companion.
The ice was expected to begin to break up at any
moment. The last sleigh had crossed the morning we
arrived, and orders had been given by the Turkish
Governor of the Sandjak that no more journeys were
to be made across it, as it was considered unsafe for
either sleighs or foot passengers.
Giurgevo, on the other side of the river, where one
took train for Bucharest, Vienna, Cologne, Brussels
and Ostend, was only a mile and a half away. Yet a
mile and a half is quite a long distance when you
have no means of traversing it.
Enquiry in the town led us to the comforting conclusion that it might be a week, possibly a fortnight,
before a boat could cross ; and we were consequently
hung up with the certainty of indefinite sojourn before us, in the most uninteresting, squalid and dirty
of Turkish provincial towns. If
If ii
There were some twenty other passengers besides
ourselves, whom we had picked up along the line of
railway, but, as they were all Orientals, they were
naturally in no particular hurry ; for haste is a condition altogether foreign to the Eastern mind. It
really didn't seem to matter to them in the very least
whether they got across or whether they didn't.
We took counsel together, for time was really valuable to both of us, the accommodation offered by the
locanda (inn) was uninviting in the extreme, and we
loathed the idea of being, as Challis expressed it, "tied
by the leg in a hole like Roustchuck."
I Why can't we hire a carriage and drive up this
side of the river till we come to a place where we can
cross?" he asked.
Why not indeed ? The suggestion was certainly
worthy consideration, and I tumbled to it like a shot.
If we could drive up one shore we could certainly
drive down the other. With far less difficulty, moreover, for in those days the roads in Roumania were
good ; in Bulgaria they were abominable.
All Englishmen are mad in Turkey, at least they
. are invariably accounted so by the natives, and are
always known as Delli Inglis.
The foregoing proposition, therefore, when we came
to communicate it, was regarded by our fellow-
travellers as being quite in keeping with our national
character.   They expressedfno surprise at our  deter- UEWOLMU)
mination, but simply shrugged their shoulders and
went on playing trick-track (backgammon) and
smoking, occupations of quite sufficient interest to absorb all their faculties for a week on end. The locan-
dagi (innkeeper) deluged the project in cold water,
but we naturally discounted his views, seeing that it
was clearly more to his interest that we should stay
than go. This may have been unchristianlike on our
part, but it was born of experience.
We would go and hunt up the Vice-Consul. Vice-
Consuls are great institutions, but in a place like
Roustchuck it is only under peculiar circumstances,
such as I am describing, that their utility becomes
specially apparent. That they have other uses I am
willing to believe, but they are evidently of the occult
The Vice-Consul was, unfortunately, "not at home."
This does not mean that he was " out," because we
heard him inform the cavass who took in our cards
that he was not able to receive visitors. We could of
course only express our regret, but we did not doubt
his assertion.
There are very few teetotallers amongst the Vice-
Consular corps of the Levant.
The indisposition of the Vice-Consul, however, was
nobly atoned for by the extreme civility of his clerk,
a bright young Greek, to whom we unburdened ourselves.    He caught on in an instant.    Nothing easier.
■ j ■
i I
He knew the very man who would take us and think
nothing of it.    He called the cavass.
Ibrahim! Seully Mustapha arabagi guelsin tchabouk
(tell Mustapha the stable-keeper to come here immediately), and in five minutes Mustapha, an old Turk,
with a long white beard and a huge red worsted comforter twisted round his head like a turban, stood before us.
He would take the chelibis to Sistova, where certainly the river would be open, if not to-day,
to-morrow, or the day after, but the roads were not
good, for the thaw had long set in, and it was a long
way, twenty-four hours off at least. The Turks
always compute distance by time. As a fact, the distance as the crow flies was about eighty miles.
We asked him how long he thought it would be
before we could get across from Roustchuck, but he
couldn't say. It might be only a few days, it might
be three weeks.    Allah knew, he didn't.
Finally, after endless haggling over the price, we
agreed to pay him five pounds to land us in Sistova,
provided he did it within the time he had specified.
"When would he be ready ?" we asked.
Now immediately, if we liked.
This suited us down to the ground, and we repaired
to our locanda in company with the Vice-Consular
clerk, where it was agreed that Mustapha should come
and fetch us. «****
Challis expressed incredulity when told that Mustapha was to take us right through without any
change of horses, but he did not know the capabilities
of Roumelian ponies when driven by a Turk.
We calculated that as the roads were far better oh
the other side, in Roumania, we should have no difficulty in getting relays of horses, and that consequently
we should make Giurgevo in considerably less time
when once we had got across.
The expression on Challis's face when Mustapha
drove his araba into the court-yard in front of the
mud hut, dignified by the name of hotel, was a sight
to see, and betokened very little confidence in our
ability to make the journey in such a conveyance. It
was the roughest possible kind of country cart on four
wheels. One spoke was missing in the near hind
wheel, two in the off, and the canvas covering which
was to protect us from the weather was almost but
not entirely one large hole. Fortunately we had any
quantity of wraps.    We needed them all.
Mustapha, sitting with his feet well tucked under
him on the narrow board which served as the driver's
seat, his knees almost touching his horses' tails, drove
up at full gallop, throwing his steeds back on their
haunches at the door of the locanda in truly magnificent style.
The harness consisted entirely of raw-hide, tied
here and there in places where it had  been broken. 134
There was not a buckle in the entire outfit, and Mustapha carried no whip. He did hot want one. His
words were veritable scorpions of a nature to wound
deeply even equine feelings, and Mustapha, as we subsequently found, had a never failing supply on hand.
The cart was filled, as it seemed to us, with hay ;
and we wondered where on earth room was to be found
for us and our baggage.
Our departure caused quite an excitement in the
town, and all the notables, with the exception of the
Vice-Consul, turned out to see us off.
We finally crept in on top of the hay, and after
stowing our impedimenta, including a plentiful supply
of tinned tongues, potted meats, etc., we found that
once we were all packed and ready to start it was
none too plentiful. We had not gone many miles
when we wished there had been twice as much ; for
no one who has not travelled over the high-ways and
by-ways of Eastern Europe in a springless cart can
lay any claim to experience worth mentioning in the
jolting line.
A cheer, feeble in volume and ironical in intention
as it seemed to us, was raised as we drove out. Once
clear of the houses Mustapha made no further use of
the lines, but left them lying loose on his horses'
backs. All his driving was done with the voice, and
the way those rats of ponies obeyed orders was something extraordinary. MUSTAPHA.
The reins came in handy when we were going down
hill, and then they were really required, for some of
the declivities we descended seemed to us like the side
of a house. We had no brake, but Mustapha tied the
hind wheels up with a bit of hide and away we went
always at the same round trot.
In about five minutes we had left the town well
behind us, and then, to our surprise, old Mustapha
said something of specially insulting nature to his
ponies who stopped short as if in indignant protest.
I What on earth is the matter now, we shall never
get on at this rate," said Challis. But I was no wiser
than he.
Mustapha stood up on his narrow seat and looked
round. Very soon he seemed to have found what he
was looking for, as he gave a shrill whistle between
two of his fingers. Then he sat down and off we went
again. We thought that he was merely tendering a
farewell salute to his wife and family, and took no
more notice of the occurrence. As we subsequently
found however he was rounding up an extra pony.
A short time afterwards, Challis gave a start.
I What is this confounded thing poking me in the
back?" he said. " This is the third time I have
noticed it."
We were both sitting with our backs against the
canvas screen which hung down behind the cart, and, I
being packed exceedingly tightly, owing to our wraps
and valises, he had some difficulty in moving, in order
to discover the reason.
When we lifted the flap of the screen, we discovered
to our surprise that there was a third pony following
us, which, in his endeavours to get at the hay in the
cart, had been poking his nose into the small of my
fellow-traveller's back.
I called Mustapha's attention to the fact, and he
instantly stopped short. He stood up again on his
seat, and, in language which such lingering sense of
decency as is left me prohibits my transcribing, he
solemnly cursed the offender's family for several generations back. The pony slunk off as if heartily
ashamed of himself, and put some thirty yards between
himself and his master, nor did he venture to offend
Mustapha's ponies were the sorriest, thinnest, most
absolutely miserable looking quadrupeds imaginable, but they knew their work and what's more they
did it. They could not have stood more than 13.2 at
the most, and were literally nothing but skin and
bone. I doubt, however, whether any pure bred
Neghib Arab steed with a pedigree as long as your arm
could have accomplished what these Roumelian rats of
ponies did, in better time or with less evidence of
In about two hours after we had started, Mustapha MUSTAPHA.
called to his horses to stop. He got down slowly from
his seat and shook himself; whereupon the ponies
immediately did the same. He gave to each of
them a mouthful of hay, and as soon as they had
finished munching it, he solemnly and with great
deliberation, walked to the near pony's head and
pulled its ears for about fifty times in succession as if
he were milking a cow. Then he pulled its forelock
and its mane in the same manner. This operation
lasted several minutes. When it was over he proceeded to jerk at the animal's tail, as if he were bent
on pulling it out by the roots, accompanying each
movement with a spasmodic grunt, and putting his
foot against the croup in order to get a better purchase.
We naturally thought he was going to pull its leg but
he wasn't. As soon as he was through with number
one he went through with precisely the same performance with number two, and both ponies seemed to
enjoy it immensely.
Mustapha talked to each the while in a low undertone, using the most endearing and affectionate epithets ; he called them the light of his eyes, the joy of
his heart, his shining stars, his jewels, his pearls
beyond price.
This ebullition of feeling I could only imagine, was
intended in some way to compensate for the awful
insults and reflections upon their parentage, which
he had, up to the present with scarcely a moment's I
intermission, hurled at their devoted heads en route.
We watched the performance with the greatest
interest, for it was our first experience of massage a la
turque applied to horseflesh. Finally he whistled to
the third pony, which came cantering up immediately
in answer to his call. He unharnessed number one—
no lengthy operation—and the new-comer quietly took
its place. The animal that was turned loose instantly
began to browse, and we left him, when we started off
at a gallop, enjoying a full meal.
I asked Mustapha if he intended to leave the horse
behind, to which enquiry he offered the Turkish
equivalent of " not much," and, true enough, shortly
afterwards, when we had resumed our normal pace,
friend Rosinante was trotting calmly alongside the
cart. He had had his dinner and made up for lost
At the end of the fourth hour, the same operation
was repeated; the loose horse taking the place of number two, who did precisely the same as his companion
had done before him, taking all he wanted in the way
of green stuff from the roadside and then cantering
after the wagon.
A Turk is a most uncommunicative person, especially when he is engaged in business. All you can
expect him to do is to answer your questions in the
negative or affirmative, and conversation is therefore difficult to sustain.   We were both longing to
know whether he had taught the horses himself, or
whether these exemplary habits were peculiar to the
breed ; but we elicited extremely little information on
the subject, for Mustapha was no more communicative
than his fellow countrymen. Moreover this class of
Mussulman has a grand contempt for Christians and
does not scruple to show it.
At sunset, Mustapha made his toilet for the night.
He took off his turban and rearranged it in such wise
that nothing of his head and face was visible except
his eyes. (The Turks hold, and there is much in
their contention, that so long as the head is warm the
rest of the body follows suit.) Then he unwound his
waistband, half silk, half cotton. When he began
this operation we thought he was never going to stop.
He tied one end to the top of one of the wheels, then
holding the other he proceeded to walk backwards its
entire length, at least thirty feet. Then he wound
himself up, revolving on his own axis in dignified
fashion till he had reached the wheel. By this means
he could get any tension he liked on the waistband.
When he had finished he looked about half his normal
size.    After this he said his prayers.
We had started about three in the afternoon, and did
not stop save for the five minutes' rest every two hours
until the small hours of the following morning, when
we were so thoroughly sore and shaken that we positively cried for mercy.    Mustapha told us that, by 140
making a detour of a mile or two we could sirike a
small village and put up there for a few hours.
This we decided to do, and about 3 a.m. we drew up
in the middle of a small collection of mud huts, which
constituted the village he had alluded to.
Mustapha routed out the innkeeper, a stolid-looking
Armenian, who expressed no surprise at our arrival,
though it is extremely probable that he had never
seen a European before. He made us some coffee, and
we slept the sleep of the just, rolled up in our wraps
on the floor, too utterly worn out to take any notice
of or interest in entomology.
Mustapha's three ponies had never turned a hair.
After about four hours' sleep, we resumed our
journey, and reached Sistova exactly four hours behind time, which was accounted for by the delay of
our own making. Mustapha had reckoned his time
with the greatest accuracy.
As we had anticipated, the river was open, and we
had no difficulty in chartering a boat to take us across
to the other side. There we had to sleep the night,
but early the next morning we started, this time (oh !
luxury of locomotion) in a carriage with springs, for
Giurgevo, where we arrived after a perfectly uneventful and uninteresting drive behind horses who possessed no idiosyncrasies at all, in plenty of time for
our train, having been fifty-one hours in making about
one hundred and sixty miles, including   a  night's MUSTAPHA.
rest, at a cost of about twelve pounds between us.
The first person we ran up against in the railway
station was one of our fellow passengers, whom we had
left in the Locanda on the Bulgarian side of the river
two days before.
The ice had broken up with unparallelled celerity,
and communication by boat had been established
that very afternoon. He enquired with stolid but
irritating politness if we had enjoyed our drive !
There was not a bone in either of our sorely battered
and shattered frames which did not positively ache to
brain him on the spot but we refrained, and added yet
another stain to the character of humanity by asserting that we wouldn't have missed it for anything.
Yet Mustapha and his ponies are entitled to rank as
an I experience." 142
AFTER all any place is good enough to hear a good
story in and why not the stern-sheets of a comfortable row boat, which is being pulled against the
stream, and a fairly strong stream at that, on the
Harrison river in British Columbia ?
A well-filled basket of fish lies at your feet, and,
conscious of having done your duty nobly in the
trout-catching line, after a hard day's work, you find
yourself in that condition of physical lassitude which
impels you to enter no protest against somebody else
doing all the hard work.
This somebody else is an entertaining companion.
Bred and born on a farm in Ontario, he has been in
the North-West rebellion, as a teamster, with General
Middleton's corps at Batoche, and vividly describes
the action at that place and a dozen other incidents
of the campaign, in a style which would have done no
discredit to the pen of Archie  Forbes, the prince of BANNOCK-BURN.
correspondents. After the rebellion was over, he had
drifted out further west, trying one thing then
another, till he finally found himself located in
British Columbia, and was now pursuing the useful,
and I trust lucrative, calling of butcher.
Not that the element of sport, usually wanting in
this avocation, was absent in his case. As a rule, I
believe, pole-axing is the method employed in doing
to death the noble beasts that grace our festive board,
but my friend had a soul above such slaughter, and,
whether from choice or necessity, he hunted his beasts,
often wild as mountain sheep, on an Indian reserve.
To judge from his accounts, he must have had, on
occasion, rare good sport. He paid the Indians so
much per pound for dead meat, and after stalking
the animal, sometimes for many hours, he put a
bullet through its forehead with a Winchester repeater
when he got a shot at it. He skinned and
quartered it where it lay, leaving the hide, the hoofs
and the offal behind ; which is but another instance
of the lordly fashion wherein we treat odds and ends
in the Far West, which are accounted valuable in
other countries.
Away up in the Qu'Appelle Valley, some years before,
he was " baching" it on his homestead, and one day
had driven into town with his horse and buggy. The
mare took fright at something and bolted, the consequence   being   that   he   was,   as   he   described it, 144
i eternally smashed up." The doctor whom he
consulted could do nothing or very little for him, and
left him with the comforting assurance that he was
badly injured internally, and that there was very
little chance of his ultimate recovery. His head, too,
had suffered considerably from contact with a
telegraph pole, and altogether he was in a very sorry
plight; though, to look at him now and note the way
in which he was putting the boat along against a four-
knot current, it seemed difficult to believe that he had
ever known a day's illness in his life.
This was his story ; I will give it in his own words
as nearly as I can remember them:
" It was haying time, and I had got a pretty good
crop. I had promised a ' pal' of mine, who was away
at the time and whose land was next to mine, that I
would get his hay in for him that day, and as he had
helped me the week before, I meant to keep my word,
especially as there were signs of bad  weather  about.
" I had asked a couple of other fellows to lend me a
hand for I was feeling as bad as it was possible for a
man to feel, and doubted whether I should be able to
manage the job alone. I worked hard all the forenoon and about mid-day I went in to the shack to get
some grub, when I found I had run out of baking
11 went over to the next house, about half a mile
off, to borrow some, as I wanted to bake some bannock BANNOCK-BURN.
for my two " pals," whom I expected to turn up at
any minute.
Watkins, the owner of the shack, was not there, so
North-West fashion, I promptly helped myself. In
his cupboard were two tins of Price's baking powder,
one about a quarter full and the other unopened. I
naturally took the former and went home. I was
feeling so bad that I paid no particular attention to
the cooking operation, but baked my bannock as
quickly as possible, and then went out to get in some
more hay.
About half an hour afterwards, my two " pals "
turned up ; but not, as I found to my disappointment,
to stay and help me. They were bound to a neighbouring farm, where they had got a job, and a good
paying one; and I naturally did not feel like
standing in their way by reminding them of their
promise. I pressed both of them, however, to stay
and have something to eat, but they refused my offer,
as they were pressed for time, so I went in and had
my bacon and bannock alone. The bannock tasted
uncommonly bitter, but I felt so wretchedly ill that
I did not think twice about it, though the taste
effectually spoilt my appetite.
Very shortly after I had eaten it, I began to feel a
horrible buzzing sensation in my head and burning
in my throat and chest. My feet felt so light that I
could   hardly   keep   them on the floor.   I felt an 146
unconquerable desire to go and lie down in my bunk,
but at the same time, an impulse, even stronger, told
me I had better not.
Through it all only one thing seemed to be perfectly
clear to my mind and that was that alive or dead I'd
have to get in that hay. It weighed upon me like a
nightmare and though I could barely see my way
before me, I staggered down to the hay bottom,
determined at all costs to get the better of my weakness.
Well, I got the hay in, though Heaven knows how
I managed it. I worked for three solid hours and the
sweat simply poured off me. When I was through I
remembered that a friend of mine, who was going
away that very day, had promised me a Gordon
setter, if I would call for it at a certain time. So I
hitched up and drove to his place about six miles off.
There I got the dog, and tied him under the wagon,
and drove home ; feeling by this time a little better,
although by no means myself again.
As the dog did not seem to take kindly to his new
quarters, I thought the best thing I could do was to
feed him. I tore the bannock in pieces and gave him
about half of it which he greedily devoured. Then I
went out and unhitched the horse.
When I came back again friend dog was lying on
his back, with his four legs in the air, as if he had
been frozen solid. BANNOCK-BURN.
Then for the first time it flashed across my mind
what had happenen. I had dosed myself with
strychnine instead of Price's Baking Powder ; but
greatly to my astonishment, instead of being dead as
a door nail like the dog, I was by this time feeling
considerably better.
I went across to Watkin's and found that he had
come home. I asked him, in an innocent kind of way,
if he could loan me a little baking powder, whereupon he went to his cupboard and opened it.
I Good God," he said, turning round with a scared
face, | its gone."
| What's gone ?" I said, though I knew well
" The strychnine ; some derned fool has taken it."
II am the derned fool," I said ; and then I told
him all about it. He was mighty glad to find I had
got off so easily; and when I jossed him about the
folly of keeping poison in a baking powder tin, he
replied by saying that the man who didn't know the
difference between strychnine and baking powder
deserved to take the consequences.
That is four years ago now and all I can tell you is
that from the very day that I nearly poisoned myself,
I have been growing steadily better. That dose of
strychnine just did me all the good in the world, and
now I am stronger and heartier than ever I was.
When I  told the doctor about it he said that the m-
poison had many valuable properties and there
was no doubt about it that the tremenduous dose I
had taken, which was strong enough to kill a dog in ■
ten minutes, combined with the extraordinary exercise I had taken immediately afterwards, had had the
effect of breaking the neck of my trouble whatever it
was. I guess I just sweated the blooming thing right
out of my system. It was a case of kill or cure. The
dog got the one and I got the other." BESS
SEVEN long years had he laboured, even as Jacob
served for Rachel though at a far less interesting
pursuit. His lines had been cast in the Imperial
scullery and his occupation consisted in washing the
Imperial dishes and scouring the Imperial pans.
Not a soul-inspiring pursuit it may be argued,
albeit the dishes he washed were of the finest
ware in the world and the pans he scoured—copper-
bottomed every one of them—shone like burnished
Ovaghim worked hard all day and often far into the
night for they did things on a grand scale in the Imperial Household, and there were many hundred
plates and platters to be cleaned in the Imperial
scullery during the course of the twenty-four hours.
During Eamazan, the Mahomedan fasting month,
they may well have run into the thousands, for then
every night as the sun went down his Imperial master !fi«:
kept open house in accordance with the custom of his
religion and his race, and no one of whatever country
or creed who did him the honour to call at the palace
was sent empty away.
You, incredulous reader, would have been equally
welcome with the rest. You had merely to walk in
as one of the crowd who thronged the palace gates, to
sit down crossed legged in which position you would
probably be as much embarrassed to know what to do
with your feet as are other people what to do with
their hands. It is astonishing how painfully obtrusive one's appendages become on assuming this lowly
attitude for the first time, comfortable above all others
though it is when custom has got your feet into shape.
Once seated at the hospitable board of the Ifthar
(evening meal) a low circular table about fifteen
inches high, it would be entirely your own fault if you
got up again before you were thoroughly satisfied with
as square a meal of four-and-twenty courses as you
ever enjoyed.
You would revel in the pilaf (rice boiled as only
Orientals know how to boil it, every grain separate
and firm though in no sense pulpy) served in the
form of a huge pyramid, with here and there like
currants in a gigantic pudding, a quail or a beckfigue
(small bird which lives exclusively on figs and is the
most delicioi^s mouthful). Then the baked meats
served with quinces, the minced meats wrapped in AFTER SEVEN YEARS.
vine leaves, the lambs  roasted whole and stuffed with
chestnuts,  the but  I refrain  or I shall not  have
enough room even to allude to the fruits which might
prove even more to your taste—pomegranates, peaches,
grapes, melons, (two of the last often going to a horse
load, which you will naturally refuse to believe but I
can't help that), currants large as nuts preserved in
syrup, all their seeds removed with the point of a
needle and the shape of the fruit retained absolutely
intact. Such a menu on the whole as you never saw
before, and if you did not exercise that discretion
which cometh only of experience might possibly wish
never to see again.
One of the features of the entertainment which would
certainly offer the charm of novelty would be the absence of knives and forks, plates and spoons. You
would have to eat with yoUr fingers with such precarious assistance as you might derive (after carefully
watching the marvellous dexterity of your neighbours)
from a flat piece of bread.
It sounds the reverse of inviting, I admit, but so do
many things to which we are unaccustomed. After
all it is not worse and certainly not more dangerous
than eating with your knife, and the percentage of
civilized beings who do that would astonish you.
You might also take exception to the fact that no
liquor of any kind is served during the repast. You
would get nothing but water, brought perhaps from 152
some celebrated spring miles away on mule back, for
Orientals are as great connoisseurs in the matter of
the water they drink as ever were Britishers in the
matter of wine. But of water you would get the very
best and in any quantity, wherein you would have a distinct advantage over less favoured mortals in other
towns I could mention.
All this however is by the way and has nothing to
do with Ovaghim who is slaving away for dear life in the
scullery a quarter of a mile off from the Palace : for
the Imperial kitchens are located at such a distance
as to obviate the possibility of a malodorous whiff of
boiled cabbage or fried fish ever assailing the Imperial
Ovaghim is not in the best of spirits and truly he
has cause for dejection. He is the victim of hope
deferred and his heart is very sick.
This is the cause of his despondency. He has
applied in due course for leave of absence to go home
to Armenia and get married to the girl he left behind
him seven long years ago. Azpatsoon is not according
to European ideas a thing of beauty and of joy, but
she is according to Ovaghim's. He regards her as
most of us regard the object of our affections entirely
from his own point of view. Perhaps it is as well
that this rule prevails.
Ovaghim has been promised that he should have
leave.     He applied nearly eight months ago now and
was told that his yol-teskere, an all important consideration, (practical equivalent of passport), together
with his back pay would be forthcoming the following
week and this assurance has been repeated so often
and has hitherto been so barren of result that
Ovaghim has begun to lose heart. He knows that
without money and without his yol-teskere it will be
useless for him to attempt his journey of twelve
hundred miles and he is almost at his wit's end to
know what to do.
Suddenly a brilliant idea strikes him. How about
a petition direct to His Majesty? Has it not been
said of old time that the humblest suitor is sure of his
request being granted if only he can succeed in placing
it in the Imperial hands. He will consult old Hadji
Achmed the Kiatib (scribe.) He is a good and kind-
hearted man and at least will advise him, perhaps,
even, he will consent to indite Ovaghim's petition
and forego his usual fee under the circumstances.
The idea brings light and sunshine to Ovaghim and
on the very first opportunity he carries it into effect.
Hadji Achmed at first shakes his head dubiously
somehow he does not think it will work. He is older
and more experienced than Ovaghim and he knows
that theory however excellent does not always work
out in practice. He doubts not that the petition if
made and presented will be granted but the difficulty
as he points out to Ovaghim will be to present it. 154
Hadji Achmed will gladly draft the letter but how
in the name of the Prophet does Ovaghim intend to
deliver it? But that is Ovaghim's affair. He will find
out the way if Hadji Achmed will only do his part.
So Hadji Achmed the Kiatib allows himself to be
pursuaded. He was young once long years ago and
though he is a Mussulman and Ovaghim only a
Christian he supposes that where woman is concerned
the difference between them is not worth talking
about; wherein he is undoubtedly right.
So Hadji Achmed the Kiatib sits him down one
evening when Ovaghim's work is over and leans up
against the trellis vine at the back of the Imperial
Kitchen. He draws his brass ink pot and penholder from his girdle and lays it on the ground
beside him ; he takes out a reed pen; mends it carefully
with his pen-knife ; he takes a sheet of paper from
his capacious pocket; makes the sign of Allah at the
top and tears off a tiny corner at the left-hand side.
The rectangular shape of the paper would otherwise
be perfect and nothing is perfect save Allah alone.
He gets all the facts from Ovaghim. How he has
worked in His Majesty's service for seven long years.
How Azpatsoon is waiting for him far away in
Armenia and wonders why he does not come. How
his pay is over due and the long promised yol-teskere
is still delayed. All this and more also
Hadji   Achmed    the    kind   old   Kiatib   indites   in
language which Ovaghim does not pretend to understand for it is Arabic of the very purest and is
addressed to the Sun of Suns, the Star of Stars, the
King of Kings and other superlatives which only
Oriental imagery can supply.
When it is finished Hadji Achmed hands it over to
Ovaghim and hopes that it may be fruitful of result,
and jubilant in his new found hopes Ovaghim bids
him good-night promising to let him know how
matters progress.
Ovaghim can scarcely sleep for excitement. How
when and where to present the petition is the question
which banishes sleep from his eyes.
Ha I he has it. After the mid-day meal His Majesty
walks in the garden, through the avenue of planes
above the water and for an hour alone. He will feign
sickness, make any excuse to absent himself from the
kitchen on the morrow. He will hide behind one of
the plane trees and then he will throw himself at the
Sovereign's feet as he passes with the petition in his
hand. What easier ? Then Ovaghim sleeps the sleep
of the just and dreams of Azpatsoon in the wilds
of his native Armenia twelve hundred miles
Never has he worked so hard as on the morrow and
when mid-day comes unobserved he slips away and
hides him in the avenue of planes. There are soldiers
about in every direction for the palace is well guarded AFTER SEVEN YEARS.
owing to the constant dread in which His Majesty
lives of the knife or pistol of the assassin.
But by stooping here and dodging there Ovaghim
eludes them all. He waits long and wearily, so long
that he begins to fear that his quest for that day at
least will be in vain, and that yet again will he have
to run the gauntlet of detection.
But suddenly he catches sight of a tall and solitary
figure coming with weary step and bent head in the
direction of the avenue of planes.
It is His Majesty; Ovaghim knows it rather by inference than as a fact, for the opportunities enjoyed
by scullions of associating with crowned heads are no
greater in the East than in the West, and Ovaghim
has never set eyes on his sovereign before. But it can
be no one else, for no one else is allowed to walk
through the avenue of planes on pain of death.
Slowly that bent figure comes along. It is dressed
in black and its face looks worn and haggard, as if
upon its shoulders there rested many cares. One hand
is hidden in the breast of a tightly buttoned coat, the
other leans upon an ivory headed cane.
As it passes the tree behind which the Armenian
lies in waiting Ovaghim knows that his chance has
He springs forward, drawing out his petition as he
does so.
The figure starts back at sight of him with a cry of AFTER SEVEN YEARS.
alarm, mistaking the act for one of deadlier motive.
A revolver shot breaks the stillness  of the avenue
of planes,  and then there is a vacancy in the
ranks of the Imperial kitchens. Hit
A TERRIBLY bumptious person who had been
nowhere, seen nothing, and who yet knew everything. That was the main trouble we had with him.
You couldn't tell him anything he didn't know by
intuition far better that than you did by experience,
although his residence in the country totalled about
as many days as yours did years. Some people are
built that way and as a rule they are not popular.
So it was with Tarleton Littletitt. How he came to
represent the English company which had sent him
out to the East to negotiate with the Government for
& firman (Imperial concession tantamount to an act
of Parliament in constitutional countries) to enable
them to run a line of steamers in connection with the
railway they already owned and operated, we could
never understand. It seemed to us that the English
company had made an unfortunate selection in their TARLETON LITTLETITT'S MISSION.
representative in this instance, for Littletitt was entirely lacking in the all important faculty of
making friends.
In a week he had antagonised everyone, official or
private individual, with whom he had been brought
into contact.
The experience of others was as nothing to him.
It was all nonsense, he maintained, talking about the
time things took and the difficulties which had to be
surmounted in dealing with the authorities. He
didn't believe a word of it.
He was armed with letters of introduction to Her
Majesty's Ambassador, Her Majesty's Consul-General,
and he wanted to know what these officials were for
if not to protect British interests, and see that justice
was done to British subjects by the Unspeakable.
(For aught I know to the contrary he is still in quest
of this interesting information, though the episode I
write of occurred full many a year ago and he may
since have been gathered to his fathers.)
Littletitt's position was apparently unassailable.
The firman under which his company operated the
railway in question distinctly provided that, on due
and proper application, permission would be given to
the holders of the concession to connect the terminus
of their line with the capital—a most desirable consummation of all our hopes, for existing arrangements
were the reverse of convenient.    We therefore wished TARELTON LITTLETITT'S MISSION.
Littletitt, not so much for his sake as for our own
every possible success in his undertaking, though at
the same time we did not feel he was going to work in
the right way.
When Littletitt asked us if anything could be
clearer than his rights under the existing concession
we were fain to admit that they were plain as the
rising sun. But the rising sun is sometimes obscured
by fog, and it was in this condition we feared (I might
almost go to the extent of saying that some of us
hoped, so meanly were we constituted) that sooner or
later Mr. Tarleton Littletitt would find himself.
He laughed us all to scorn when we pointed out
that he would be acting wisely in his own interests if
he did not reckon too confidently upon dates and
entered into no binding engagements with his company without leaving himself plenty of margin in
point of time.
In vain we assured him that things, at any rate in
the East, were not always what they seemed, and that
Oriental negotiations were, of their very essence, of
protracted nature. He gave us clearly to understand
that he knew his own business, and that when he
wanted advice he would ask for it. As for backsheesh
it was a positive abomination. The man who gave
bribes was as bad as the man who took them, and he
positively marvelled how any one with any claim to
consider himself a Britisher could so lower himself as TARLETON LITTLETITT'S MISSION.
even to allude to such an iniquity. Besides as it
happened in his case there was no possibility of any
question of the kind arising. He had received in the
course of his very first interview with the Grand
Vizier that dignitary's assurance that everything was
in perfect order and that his firman would be forthcoming immediately.
This was quite enough for Littletitt, who immediately cabled home to his principals that the object
of his journey had been achieved. He was extremely
angry not to say rude that night at the club when the
Wag remarked that he would have made a far more
profitable investment had he expended the money
spent on the telegram in whiskey and cigars. Littletitt
neither smoke nor drank and he said so. But the
Wag replied that that didn't make any difference
which made him more angry still. He was quite
speechless with indignation when the Wag told him
that he would be lucky if he got the firman in six
months at a cost of £3,000.
In a week from that day the Grand Vizier was out
of office. The entire change of ministery which this
deposition involved afforded great amusement at the
club to everyone except Littletitt who was furious.
He abused the powers that were in no measured terms,
and even threatened to write to the Times, but we
begged him not to. We implored him to think of the
consequences which a communication of irate nature 162
from his influential pen might produce. Wars, revolutions, occupations by British fleets, European disruptions and who knows what. Our arguments
fortunately prevailed and though Littletitt knew so
much he somehow failed to grasp the fact that we
were chaffing him.
But his troubles were only just beginning. About
six months after the accession of the new Grand
Vizier, when he had spent a small fortune in telegrams fixing dates for the issue of the firman, and
counter telegrams explaining the reason for the delay,
which as time went on became more and more unsatisfactory to the London Board, he received a visit from
an Armenian emissary of doubtful appearance who
requested the honour of an interview.
He asked in fluent English if the chelibi wanted to
get his firman.
What on earth had this to do with the seedy-looking
Armenian ? queried Littletitt.
Merely this. The Armenian was Sharki Bey's
I man," and the bey Effendi had sent him to say that
the firman would or rather could be forthcoming by a
certain date provided the chelibi paid him (the Armenian) then and there the sum of one thousand pounds.
" What f" screamed Littletitt, fairly beside himself
with rage. | A thousand pounds !" and he drove the
seedy-looking Armenian with righteous indignation
He drove off post haste to the Porte and laid a
formal complaint against Sharki Bey, one of the
Palace chamberlains, with the Grand Vizier, for as
bare-faced an attempt at blackmailing as was ever
perpetrated upon a British subject.
His Highness was extremely polite. He assured
Littletitt that there must be some mistake for from
what he personally knew of Sharki Bey—one of the
most trusted chamberlains of His Majesty—he felt
confident that no such proposal could ever have
emanated from him. His Excellency's name had
evidently been taken in vain by some understrapper
at the palace, and the Effendi had done quite right in
dismissing him with the ignominy he deserved. He
would however look into the matter at once. By the way
what was the name of the Armenian that he might
make a note of it and have the man promptly dismissed ?
But Littletitt unfortunately in his indignation had
omitted the formality of taking down the gentleman's
name, and he was consequently unable to give His
Highness this most desirable information, which His
Highness most deeply regretted. Everything as far
as His Highness knew was going satisfactorily and
the firman might be " out" any day.
Littletitt came back to the club in a calmer frame
of mind. We however were not nearly so polite or
consoling when he told us of the episode as the Grand
The Wag coolly said he'd lost another month and
that the next Armenian who paid him a visit on behalf of Sharki or any other bey would raise the price
on him by at least twenty, it might be fifty, per cent.
Littletitt ought to have been photographed at this
juncture. He would have looked well in the chamber
of Horrors.
The Wag's prognostications were more than fulfilled.
Six weeks later another and still more seedy Armenian
called upon Littletitt on precisely the same errand,
with this difference that the price was £1,400. If this
money were handed the Armenian without receipt the
firman would be forthcoming that day week:
Littletitt had that morning received a letter from
his company which was the reverse of complimentary.
They were getting anxious at the delays, the more so
that they had on the strength of his representations
as to the issue of the firman contracted with another
corporation, and would be in a terrible fix if the concession were not forthcoming by a certain date. They
gave him clearly to understand that they were dissatisfied with his negotiations and hinted at unpleasant alternatives. If money was required, despite
his former assurance that none would be needed, he
had better say so and draw for the amount. They
believed that backsheesh had on occasion to be given,
but in any case and under any circumstances the
firman must absolutely be got and at once. TARLETON LITTLETITT'S MISSION.
All this was as gall and wormwood to Littletitt the
omniscient. But he came to terms with the still more
seedy Armenian and arranged that the money should
be forthcoming the next day.
It was unkind of the Wag who, when he was not
employed in making caustic remarks to concession
hunters at the club, put in his time as one of the
cashiers in the bank, but when Littletitt went to get
his money, he observed, "Glad to see you, old man.
I shall have the pleasure of cashing another draft for
you before you get through with this business."
' Great Scott," said all that remained of Littletitt,
faintly, for there was scarcely any of the original left.
I Don't say that. You oughtn't to chaff a fellow over
this infernal business. Really you oughtn't. It's too
But the Wag had several old scores to pay off and
he gave no quarter.
Littletitt was horribly dejected all through the
week. He paid the £1,400 to the Armenian and
waited developments in fear and trembling.
On the morning of the day on which the firman had
been promised an unkempt and unshaven Greek
wearing a blaik flannel shirt appeared at his rooms.
His command of English was limited but Littletitt
managed to gather what he meant without any great
difficulty. The firman was out and would be delivered
to him that  afternoon  against  payment of  another 166
£2,000. He could call at an office, the address of
which the Greek gave, at four o'clock with the money.
Some one would be there with the firman and would
be prepared to give it up against payment of the
amount which was to be brought in bank notes made
up in two packages of a thousand pounds each. The
chelibi was to come alone.
Littletitt felt during this recital as if he had lived
on mustard and water for a week ; but time pressed
and something told him that there was no help for it.
He paid another visit to the bank and on this occasion, to his credit be it said, the Wag refrained from
making any remark.
Four o'clock found him with the two packages of
bank notes of a thousand pounds apiece at the appointed rendezvous.
On a divan smoking a chibouk sat an aged man,
irreproachably dressed in the purest of white burnouses and looking the picture of Mahomedan benevolence. He greeted Littletitt with the sweetest of smiles
and the profusest of salaams. On the divan by his
side lay an official looking document which Littletitt
instinctively recognized.
The aged man pointed significantly to it with one
hand and held out the other with an air of polite expectancy. Littletitt, whose progress of late in the
paths of Oriental diplomacy had been simply marvelous, understood.   He produced the two packages of TARLETON LITTLETITT'S MISSION.
notes and albeit with rage in his heart handed them
over to the aged man. The aged man, with the
gravity befitting the emissary of a chamberlain, untied
the bundles and verified their contents. Then with a
profound salaam he tendered the long looked-for firman
to Littletitt.
No word was spoken during the interview, so Littletitt told us afterwards, though as the Wag subsequently observed there are occasions when silence is
golden, and this was evidently one of them.
Next day the firman was on its way post haste to
London, and that was the last we saw of Tarleton
Littletitt for some time to come. THE   GIFT OF THE BRIDEGROOM.
ONLY a village seamstress, say you ! What of it ?
Seamstresses have hearts like some of their sex and
object on occasion to coercive enactments on the part
of their parents and guardians. Especially in matters
matrimonial. At any rate Euphrosyne did and that
is the point of my story.
She revered and respected her father, as all maidens
whether of her own nationality, which happened to be
Greek, or any other, in theory should and remarkably
few maidens in practice do.
She never even thought of questioning his authority
until it happened to run counter to her own inclinations and then Euphrosyne kicked like a steer—I beg
pardon, I should say a heifer. It may not be a refined expression or a lady-like accomplishment, but
that is just what Euphrosyne did. And all on account of a trifling difference of opinion between herself
and her father on the subject of the latter's future son-
He had made up his mind in favour of Mihale, for
Mihale from every point of view save only
Euphrosyne's was an eminently desirable parti.
He was old enough to be her father ("grandfather,"
Euphrosyne contemptuously remarked), for his age
was within five years of that of old Giorghi himself,
63 last birthday. Moreover he was extremely well
fixed financially. He drove a trade and prospered
well in horn and hoof ; made lots of " oof " ; for he
was the village butcher (" Ugh ! " said Euphrosyne),
and was generally accredited with the accumulated
savings of forty years. (' As if I wanted his money,"
protested Euphrosyne.)
But whether Euphrosyne wanted his money or not
it was soon perfectly patent that old Giorghi did.
Old Giorghi, you must understand, was hopelessly
involved ; the old gentleman, though he had long
since been compelled to retire from his own honourable profession of shoemaking, owing in the first place
to a rooted disinclination to work, and in the second
to some trouble which affected his eyes, had borrowed
money from Mihale the butcher. Be it also known
that he had not expended the amount he had
borrowed either wisely or well. He had speculated in
railway lottery bonds and had lost it all. He had
not speculated in real estate, but this was solely because
there did not happen to be any real estate agents
within 10,000 miles of him, otherwise the consequences THE GIFT OF THE BRIDEGROOM.
might have been infinitely worse than they were. As
it was they were bad enough.
Giorghi had mortgaged everything he possessed to
Mihale the butcher, and finally, rank old speculator
that he was, like the impecunious mandarin " to settle
accounts one day he sold him his daughter's hand."
The bargain was driven and the terms arrived at
after a more than usually stormy interview between
debtor and creditor, and in consideration of
the fair Euphrosyne (for it goes without saying she
was fair, though as a matter of fact she was a pronounced brunette), to be presently conveyed in due
and proper process of matrimony according to the
rites of the Orthodox Church (and they are rites with a
vengeance) by Giorghi to Mihale, and in further consideration of the sum of one hundred pounds to be
paid immediately by Mihale to Giorghi it was agreed
that bygones should be bygones and Mihale should
give Giorghi a receipt in full as regarded all matters
of past accounts upon his wedding day.
The arrangement was highly satisfactory to both
parties, for, as you will doubtless have imagined ere
this, Mihale | long had loved her from afar," though
he had never ventured to breathe his love.
Giorghi promised faithfully that he would never
speculate again. Not that he had the slightest intention of keeping his word ; he rather entertained ultimate and nefarious designs upon those accumulated THE GIFT OF THE BRIDEGROOM.
savings of Mihale's, but he swore solemnly nevertheless, and Mihale, in that brief period of lunacy which
invariably precedes matrimony, believed him.
But it sometimes happens, as it did on this occasion,
that Vhomme propose et lafemme dispose. Giorghi had
reckoned without his host, for when he got home there
were ructions galore.
Euphrosyne was furious but worse still she was immovable. She wouldn't marry Mihale, nasty fat old
thing, if there wasn't another man left in the whole
world. She didn't care if her father was stonebroke
or its Greek equivalent. She said many unpleasant
and moreover undutiful things which rankled in old
Giorghi's mind. She accused him of being a lazy old
good-for-nothing, who was content to live on his wife's
and his daughter's hard-earned wages.
This was perfectly true. Old Giorghi was afraid
she would get on to the subject of the railway lottery
bonds, but she refrained, to his great relief, though this
was only because she didn't happen to know about
them. Otherwise she would undoubtedly have made
matters more unpleasant still.
Old Penelope her mother, the village washerwoman,
rotund as her own washtub, strove to pour oil on the
troubled waters, but instead she added fuel to the
flame, and for a time old Giorghi wished he had never
been born or at least had never been married.
Penelope was good natured ; extremely fat people THE GIFT OF THE BRIDEGROOM.
always are, but they are often extremely weak
and their personal courage is frequently dispropor-
tioned to their size. She was four times as big as her
husband and daughter combined and she stood in
mortal terror of both of them.
Giorghi finding that it was useless to press matters
at this juncture wisely determined to " bide a wee,"
knowing full well that he could enlist the good offices
of Penelope his wife on his side as soon as ever he
could secure a private interview. Besides he had begun
to suspect that there was a rival in the case, and
if so great circumspection would have to be observed.
I Well, well, my daughter," he said at last, " we'll
say no more about it," and Euphrosyne, her head
miles in the air, flung out of the room like an offended
It did not take many minutes to elicit from
Penelope, shaking like a jelly mould under the fire of
ler lord's cross-examination that Euphrosyne's objections to the proposed match were due not so much to
personal dislike to Mihale as to personal affection for
Now Andoni was anything but a desirable parti.
He had no money at all, he was only a boatman who
earned barely enough to keep himself, let alone a wife.
Old Giorghi heaved a sigh of relief. " Not a very
formidable rival," he thought, and he instantly set to THE GIFT OF THE BRIDEGROOM.
work evolving schemes such as the soul of the Greek
He dismissed Penelope with injunctions to assure
Euphrosyne that her father would never try to coerce
her affections and that she was perfectly free to accept
Mihale or refuse him as she pleased. On no account
however was she to be told that her father knew of her
penchant for Andoni. Penelope promised secrecy and
instantly told Euphrosyne all about it.
Next day Giorghi hired Andoni to row him down to
Stamboul, and during the voyage which lasted some
three-quarters of an hour, he made Andoni a "business
proposition." Would he consent to leave the village
and allow it to be publicly announced that he was
engaged to be married to somebody else, somewhere
else, person and locality of no importance, in consideration of ten pounds ?
Andoni's eyes twinkled, but Giorghi who was shortsighted did not notice it, nor, should it be remembered, was he aware of the fact that Euphrosyne and
Andoni had met the night before " in the gloaming,"
which had he but known it would have made all the
difference in the world to his calculations.
Andoni said he would like to think the matter over
and Giorghi said there was no hurry for a day or two.
Andoni refused to take any money for his fare, an act
of magnanimity which Giorghi greatly appreciated.
Andoni rowed home as fast as he could and had a 174
long interview with Euphrosyne which they both
mightily enjoyed after the time-honoured fashion of
anti-matrimonial lunatics.
That evening Andoni saw Giorghi in the village
cafinet and told him that all things considered he had
decided to accept his offer of the morning provided he
doubled the amount.
Giorghi did not like it but finally agreed. The sum
was paid out of Mihale's hundred, and the next day
the villagers were astounded to hear that Andoni had
left for the Dardanelles, his native place, to be married
to a girl he had left behind him long years ago. A
most shameful proceeding it was generally thought,
seeing the marked attention he had paid for so long to
She, poor thing, as was but natural, was inconsolable.
She used to take long walks that she might commune
with her grief. Sometimes it happened that the sun
cast one shadow, sometimes two. The only people
who appeared in any way pleased at. Andoni's departure were the ex-shoemaker and the butcher.
Eventually things worked out just as Giorghi in his
wisdom had anticipated. Continual dropping will
wear away a stone and parental solicitation finally
produced an impression upon the now chastened heart
of Euphrosyne.
Though Andoni had only been gone two weeks she
had sufficiently recovered from the blow her vouthful THE GIFT OF THE BRIDEGROOM.
affections had received to consent to marry Mihale,
and when her father fixed the date a month hence on
the very day decided by the bargain she offered
no objection, but she made one indispensable stipulation. She must receive a dowry of £200, to be paid
her in hard cash before the ceremony, otherwise
Mihale, like the primest of his prime beef, " might go
In vain her father expostulated and explained his
position. He hadn't got two hundred cents in the
world, let alone two hundred pounds, and didn't in
the least know how he was going to pay for her
It was all one to Euphrosyne. He might borrow it
from Mihale for all she cared, but that was her ultimatum ultimatorum and the sooner he made arrangements accordingly the better.
Giorghi took counsel with Mihale. The latter didn't
like it a bit. What on earth did the girl want with
£200? It was absurd to spend that amount on her
trousseau and Mihale, who, as his accumulated savings
amply demonstrated, had a frugal mind, would be no
party to such extravagance.
Finally it was agreed that the money should be
paid by Mihale but only on his wedding day. He
wasn't going to take any chances.
Euphrosyne demurred somewhat at this arrangement, but as a special concession to her father allowed 176
herself to be persuaded, provided that the money was
paid before the ceremony.
Giorghi undertook on Mihale's behalf that the
bridegroom should bring it with him, and that it
should be paraded with the rest of the wedding
In due course came the wedding day, or rather the
wedding eve, for Greek marriages are always celebrated at night, and in the house of the bride.
Euphrosyne, though a trifle pale, was voted a lovely
bride. The bridegroom was not beautiful but he was
solid, albeit literally and figuratively in a melting
condition for the weather was terribly hot.
Conspicuous amongst the presents was a small silk
bag containing the two hundred pounds, " the gift of
the bridegroom," and everybody remarked what an
extremely fortunate young woman Euphrosyne was,
and how luckily it had turned out that that little
affair with Andoni had terminated as it did.
The priests, three of them, for this was no ordinary
wedding, mark you, had arrived and were donning
their vestments. In another five minutes the ceremony would begin and Euphrosyne would be in a fair
way towards becoming Mrs. Mihale. I say in a fair
way, for your Greek wedding lasts anything from one
to four hours.
The bride left the room to give the final touches to
her  toilet,  and  strangely enough  no  one remarked THE GIFT OF THE BRIDEGROOM.
that the small silk bag containing the gift of the
bridegroom had gone with her.
She slipped a long cloak over her bridal dress and
all unnoticed in the general jollification walked
quietly downstairs into the arms of Andoni,
who was waiting for her with his boat at the quay
immediately under the bridal windows.
She never came back. 178
THE tennis court was crowded for it was the club
" At Home" day and whenever we received, which
we did the first Thursday in each month, our visitors,
let me venture to assure you, had no cause to be
otherwise than truly thankful. The ground lay in the
gardens of an old palace overlooking the Bosphorus
at the bottom of a succession of stone terraces—some
half dozen in number towering one above the other—
creeper clad and vine laden. It possessed one great
advantage in addition to the natural beauty of the
situation, that of perpetual shade—at least in the
The attendance was unusually large for we offered
on that particular Thursday the attraction of a real
live Princess who was on a visit at one of the embassies. It is astonishing what a Princess can do in
the way of drawing a crowd and Her Highness proved
a veritable magnet. I do not think we ever had so
many people before. Her Highness moreover was
young and pleasing to the eye which all Princesses are OVERLOOKING THE TENNIS COURT.
not, and extremely affable, which very few Princesses
are—at least to the average mortal. On the whole our
" At Home " was a gigantic success. Excellencies in
the shape of Ambassadors and their wives were at a
discount, and I noticed with pain that the spouse of a
Consul-General and the Charge cT Affaires of a third-
rate power, of whose presence on ordinary occasions
we should have been inordinately proud, were actually
kept waiting—disconsolate in the background—for a
second cup of tea.
But the Princess monopolised everybody's attention
as Princesses will.
Several of us had known her some few years previously
on the occasion of a former visit, but that was before
she was a Princess. Then she held her head scarcely
higher than anybody else, and we all thought she was
going to marry Jim Hamilton, the first lieutenant of
H.M.S. Gazelle. Appearances certainly pointed that
way, but you know how deceptive appearances are.
It all came to nothing, however, and so unfortunately
did poor Jim Hamilton. He had as good a chance of
being an admiral as any man of his standing in the
service. But instead of flying his flag he's in the
coast-guard now, somewhere in the north of Scotland,
I think. The reason ? Well, I scarcely know. You'd
better ask the Princess.
| Love all," cried the umpire, and the set of the day
began. 180
It was most unfortunate that the Prince couldn't
come. Had he been there too our cup of happiness
would have overflowed. It might have been too much
for us.
But as Her Highness explained, the Prince (only a
foreign one, not of the Blood Royal), was a terrible
sufferer from gout—(" Forty—Love," cried the umpire)
—whence it will be inferred that he was not so young
as the Princess, which is perfectly true.
He never went anj^where nor did anything, which
may possibly convey the impression that he was a
grumpy old frump, which is also correct. But this
didn't in any way prevent Her Highness from enjoying the best of all possible times. She went everywhere and saw as little of her princely consort as she
conveniently could. With a gouty toe he couldn't
very well hop round after her ; the proceeding would
to say the least of it have been undignified, and a
Prince who lacks dignity lacks all.
Don't imagine for a moment that the Princess told
us these things. She did nothing of the kind. But
one doesn't require to be told everything in so many
words, and thank Heaven, there is still something in
the world, though not much, left to the imagination.
I Deuce," cried the umpire, and I thought of the
Prince's gouty toe.
Her Highness rivetted all her faculties upon the
game for nearly five minutes and then her attention
began to wander. She wasn't very much interested,
I'm afraid, in our crack players who were simply excelling themselves in her honour. She had very likely
seen lawn tennis far better played elsewhere in the •
course of her travels, and I daresay in her heart of
hearts she didn't think much of the performance.
A wooden house of no great pretensions but picturesque in the extreme reared its gable roof over the
wall to the left of the tennis ground, and from a
window in the second story a full view of the game
could be obtained.
At the window, which was open, there sat a bearded
man in his night shirt, watching each stroke with intense interest and applauding even more vociferously
than any of us each brilliant service or return, with
this difference, however, that his plaudits were offered
in Greek.
Immediately behind him stood the figure of a
woman, her hand resting upon his shoulder.
| Love—Forty," cried the umpire.
The man at the window attracted the notice of
the Princess.
I happened to be standing near her and she turned
towards me. (I was one of those who had known her
before she was a Princess and that made all the difference, as you will readily understand.)
I How delightfully interested that man is. Who is
he ?    How terribly ill he looks."
I told the Princess that the man at the window was
a Greek. That he had met with an accident which
had injured his spine many years before. That he
' was bedridden and that his only amusement was to
watch us play tennis ; that he had mastered the principles of the game from simply watching it from his
window, and that it was the keenest disappointment
of his life when nobody turned up to play.
Her Highness's sympathy was immediately aroused.
I How extremely interesting," she said as she
handed me her teacup. " No more, thanks," and she
gazed at the man in the window through the daintiest
of pinces-nez whereof the tortoiseshell handle was at
least eighteen inches long.
"And the woman behind him—what a sweet face
she has !    Is she his wife or his sister ?"
I told Her Highness that the woman was his wife
and that she had never left his bedside for eleven
The Princess's eyes grew round and large in wonderment. Perhaps she was thinking of her own unremitting attendance on the princely toe. Who knows?
Just then there came violent gesticulations in my
direction from the window.
" Is he making signs to you ?" said the Princess.
I think he is," I replied.    " I generally pay him a
weekly visit and last week I couldn't go. If your Highness will excuse me I ," and I began to move away. OVERLOOKING THE TENNIS COURT.
To my astonishment the Princess rose too and the
expression on her face seemed to have undergone
somewhat of a change.
I Do you think I might come too ?" she asked. 11
should like to know that man and his wife. Would
she mind ? Should I be intruding ? Does she ever
receive visitors ?"
I said I was certain she would be only too delighted
if the Princess would honour her with a visit; that it
would be a great kindness to both of them ; that I
should be only too happy to present my bedridden
friend to her. You know the sort of thing one would
I Don't make mention of my title," she said. " I
think I would rather you called me plain Madame if
you don't mind.   You can say a friend of yours, can't
I said that I could, that I was entirely at her command in this or any other particular.
Together we wound our way across the stone terraces, through the vines and the creepers in the
direction of the gable-roofed house.
My friend in the window saw us coming and waved
a frantic welcome.
" I am bringing you a visitor," I called out, and he
instantly drew in his head. Even bedridden people
don't always care about being taken a Vimproviste.
Fortunately the game was a very exciting one and
every one was watching it intently, so that less notice
was taken of my abduction of the lioness than I expected.   I heard of it afterwards, however.
" 'Vantage," cried the umpire as we left the court.
I Tell me about your friend," said the Princess. 11
am very much interested in him," then she added as
if to herself, " Eleven years.    It is marvellous."
This was the story I told the Princess, in briefest
outline for we had not far to go.
Vassili had been a clerk in the bank and was engaged to Zoitza, a pretty Greek girl some ten years
younger than himself. They waited and waited in
hope that his promotion would come and that they
would be able to be married. It came at last and he
received an appointment as book-keeper in one of the
provincial agencies of the bank. He went to take
possession of his new post and to secure a home for
his bride. On a certain date he was to return and
they were to be married on the morrow.
The evening before her wedding day bad news came
to Zoitza. Her lover had missed his footing on the
slippery deck of the steamer which waB bringing him
back to her, had fallen down an open hatchway and
was seriously injured. They broke the tidings as
gently as they could but Zoitza naturally imagined
the worst. She insisted upon going to see him at once,
and they took her to the hospital where Vassili was
"Tell me the truth, I pray you, as you love your
children," she had said to the doctor, " will he die ?"
11 will tell you the truth as you ask me to," replied
the doctor.    " He will not die but—"
I But what ?"
I He will be paralysed from the waist downwards for
life, and will never get up from his bed again."
I '0 Theos einei kallos " (God is good), said Zoitza,
simply. I He might have taken him from me," and
they let her go in to Vassili's room.
That day week they were married and many people
said Zoitza was a fool.
Then she went to the directors of the bank and
the result of her interview was that in consideration
of Vassili's past services and of the circumstances of
the case they agreed to allow him a small pension.
The prediction of the doctor came true. Vassili
never left his bed again. Though eleven years had
elapsed since the accident he was still a hopeless
cripple, and all through those eleven years Zoitza had
never left his side.
The Princess had a far away look in her eyes, and
any remark she may have been about to make was
cut short by the appearance of Zoitza herself brimful
of smiles and sunshine as she opened the door to us.
I presented her to the Princess as to a friend of
mine, and she was overwhelmingly glad to see us.
1 But why did you not come last Thursday ?" she OVERLOOKING THE TENNIS COURT.
said to me reproachfully. " Vassili looks forward so
to your visits ; and there was no tennis. He misses
the tennis. You see it is his only distraction," she
added apologetically to the Princess.
Then we went upstairs to see Vassili. He looked, as
the Princess had remarked from a distance, wretchedly
ill, but he was marvellously bright and cheerful, as he
always was. Hanging suspended from the ceiling
over his bed was a small trapeze within easy reach of
his hands. By taking hold of this he could manage
to change his position by a few inches and this was
all the exercise he ever got. His bed fitted into the
window so that he got a full view of the tennis court
and the terrace upon which tea was served.
" What a game, eh 1" he said, after the ceremony of
introduction was over. " What a splendid game. But
we won. They only got two games the last set," and
he rubbed his poor thin hands in exultation. " Zoitza,
quick, coffee and cigarettes, or would the Madama
prefer sweetmeats ? Bring sweetmeats too," and he
prattled on with all the grace and charm of the East.
Zoitza presently appeared with refreshments of her
own preparation, and while we regaled ourselves with
coffee and sweetmeats she sat in her chair at Vassili's
bedside and gave us her comments on the game and
all the grandees amongst the spectators.
They were not in the least gene at receiving a visitor
for many people went to see them, and few I imagine OVERLOOKING THE TENNIS COURT.
ever came away without feeling the better for their
visit. Such love as Zoitza's, such resignation as
Vassili's are not met with every day.
The conversation was carried on in French which
the Princess spoke to perfection.
Her Highness was positively charming, as Highnesses can be sometimes. I thought I had never seen
her to such advantage. Vassili and Zoitza were enthralled by her descriptions of her travels and captivated by all the nice things she said to them.
We stayed fully half an hour and when Her Highness
said "good-bye," she kissed Zoitza.
" It was very good of you to go and see those poor
people," I said as we left the house. " You have
given them real—
I Don't," said the Princess, and I almost fancied
there was a break in her voice.
I Game," cried the umpire as we entered the court.
I have a kind of idea that the Prince won.


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