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they have got up some idle excuse to prevent my going with you. This is the way they treat us. They give us no pay; and when we do get a chance of making a little money, do their best to get in our way."
Our poor friend was very cut up, and naturally so, for to be guard of a party of Inglezi was a rare windfall for him, and very acceptable in these hard times.
The authorities sent us a passport, and a very strange-looking being, who was to be our escort on the morrow, one man being deemed a sufficient protection, for the first stage at any rate. He was a tall, miserable-looking zaptieh, in very ragged uniform. His face was of extraordinary length, and lantern-jawed. He was almost'skeleton-like in his extreme thinness. He had evidently not known what a good meal meant for a very long time.
We discovered him to be an intensely stupid and unintelligent being. This did not promise well. Here we were, two Englishmen, utterly ignorant of Turkish or Albanian, about to ride right across the country in the company of a man who would not be of the slightest use to us in any way.
We gave him a good feed, in hopes that this might develope some traces of intelligence in his dense skull. All in vain. The only effect was, that after having thoroughly gorged himself, he Two More Britons. 157
closed his eyes, gave vent to a sort of choking sound, and fell fast asleep.
Everything was ready; we had bid adieu to our Scutarine friends, left orders that our horses should be brought round early on the morrow— then we retired to our beds among the sausages.
It was scarce dawn. There was a loud knock at our door—a rather violent knock. The door opened; we expected to see the smiling face of Toshli, who had come to announce the arrival of our ghostly zaptieh and our brave steeds; but to our astonishment there entered, boisterously, two bronzed and travel-stained Britons—in short, the long-lost Jones and Robinson, whom we had given up long ago.
They stood laughing before us; but Brown and myself considered it incumbent upon us to receive them in a slightly distant and dignified manner as we sat up in our beds. We asked them to give an explanation of their great dilatoriness in catching us up.
We found that they had started from England a fortnight after us, but had been delayed at Cattaro and other ports, in consequence of some extremely ingenious arrangement Robinson, the inventor, had made for receiving money at different places on the route.
. They had followed in our footsteps exactly-—had taken boat from Trieste to Cattaro, and thence walked, via Cettinje, to Rieka, where they had taken a londra for Scutari. We inquired where the white elephant and other Robinsoniana were.
They had left them at Cettinje, they said, and were going to return for them. This further delay was by no means pleasing to Brown and myself. We laid our programme before them, and expected that they would fall in with it at once. A very warm discussion ensued, very nearly resulting in a re-separation of our forces.
They had been very well received, it seems, by the Montenegrins, and had promised some of the chieftains at Cettinje that they would return to that capital as soon as they had seen Scutari.
The war between the principality and the Albanians, so long talked of, was, they said, now but a question of a few days. They had been invited to accompany the army of Prince Nikita, which was on the point of advancing on Gussinje, as the honoured guests of the general in command.
There are certainly two sides to every question. From the little we had seen of the two countries, Brown and myself had formed a decided preference for the Albanians over the Montenegrins; but we found that our two friends were full of praises of the Black Mountaineers, and abuse of the Skipitars. The Montenegrins have rather a knack of wheedling over strangers to their own A Warm Discussion.
views of the question. Jones and Robinson, however, to a great extent modified their opinions later on, when we had seen a little more of both sides.
The discussion progressed with considerable warmth. Our recently found friends insisted on returning to Montenegro. Brown and myself were very loth to give up our projected ride across the little-known countries of North Albania. "We often wandered from the point into hot dispute as to the virtues or the reverse of the respective races. Ultimately a compromise was effected. "We decided to convert Rosso and Effendi into baggage animals, and walk from Scutari to Podgoritza, an important town, acquired by Montenegro from Turkey during the late war, and which was but two days' march from Gussinje. Here the Montenegrin forces were to concentrate, before advancing against the enemy. If we found that war was really intended, we agreed to carry out the programme of our friends. If we found that it was being indefinitely delayed, we would return to Scutari, and march to Previso by the route Brown and myself had decided on.
Brown and myself gave in with great reluctance, feeling that our friends, after delaying us so long, were now about to take us on a wild goose chase after a phantom war. I do not think either of us recovered that sweetness of temper which distinguishes us until after the dinner we partook of that evening at the hospitable board of the British Consulate.
During the above discussion our ghostly zaptieh was announced. With the aid of our landlord we tried to explain to him that his services were no longer needed by us. This man, as I have said, was the incarnation of stupidity; as a Turkish soldier, he was also a model of obedience to those who were put in authority over him.
He had been ordered to conduct us to Priserin— so much had got into his head; and conduct us to Priserin he would, notwithstanding our insistence that we had now altered our intentions. "The Pasha told me to take you to Priserin," was all we could get out of him. He would have attempted to take us there by force, I believe, had we not quieted him with another full meal, which had the same soporific effect as that of the previous day.
When we told Mr. Green of our altered plans, in the evening, he remarked that at any rate our throats would be safe in Montenegro, which is more than they would be in this country. "But," he added, "if you visit Podgoritza you will not be able to return here and visit Priserin. They will have heard of your friendship with the Montenegrin general, and will inevitably take you as spies, and treat you as such in a very summary