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manner. If you return here and wish to travel to Janina, you must do so by the other route, which takes you through the cities of Tirana, Blbessan, and Berat.
The next day we made preparations for our journey.
As it was a doubtful question whether we should find food on the road to Podgoritza, an unfrequented track, with rather a bad reputation for Arnauts, we purchased a horse-hair saddle-bag,>rid. laid up a good stock of rice bread, mutton, faki, and other necessaries. Robinson had brought his cooking apparatus with him to Scutari, and was very anxious to bring it into Xse on the earliest occasion.
The evening before our start we very luckily came across a man who had served as groom to Captain Sale, of the late frontier commission. He seemed to understand a word or two of English and Italian, and had a very good character from the Consulate. So we hired him for a month. A very useful fellow he turned out to be. He was dressed in full Arnaut costume, which never left his back during the whole of his stay with us—five weeks, and yet, in some mysterious manner, it ever appeared snowy and new, indeed, his appearance did us credit. He was a young fellow of pleasing countenance, the chief characteristic of which was a perpetual grin.
Like all I met of his race, he was faithful and honest, and soon became attached to his masters. His preparations for the journey did not require much time, for his luggage consisted simply of a large gingham umbrella.
March to Podgoritza—An Albanian khan—Our cook—The Fund—Across the lake—Night visitors—The frontier— Podgoritza—The armourer—The war minister — Dobra Pushka.
Over our last glass of grog before turning in for the night, we had determined to start at daybreak this morning. So abominable was the weather, however, that we preferred to indulge in the comfort of our beds a little longer. An unbroken mass of cloud covered the whole sky, from which poured down a steady deluge, which had a deliberate look about it, as if it had no intention of ceasing for a month at least. Jones looked put of the window, scanned the horizon mournfully, and remarking that he thought the rainy season would soon begin, got into bed again.
At last we mustered courage enough to rise, ordered a substantial breakfast, and sent the faithful Marco to saddle Rosso and Bffendi. When Rosso was brought in front of the hotel, he evidently objected to standing out there in the rain while we breakfasted in comfort within; so he walked into the room in which we sat, and made a very fair meal off a deal box that stood in the corner. Our saddle-bags and blankets were placed on the horses' backs, and the expedition started. Our gendarme and landlord saw us well out of the town, where a stirrup-cup was indulged in. We must have looked very imposing: first Marco in his Arnaut dress, sheltering himself with a huge umbrella, the only article of luggage he brought with him; then the two horses ; and lastly, our four selves.
All in top-boots—Jones, Brown, and myself well protected with hooded military macintoshes we had bought in Turkey, while Robinson was enveloped in a ponderous English yeomanry greatcoat, which must have weighed something when it was thoroughly soaked. Our rifles were slung to our shoulders. Jones was the proud bearer of an Arnaut gun, of which I shall have to say more anon. He also carried a pocket filter, slung to his shoulders.
This day's journey was certainly not a pleasnt one. The road from Scutari to Podgoritza is not much of a road at the best of times; it is a mere track. For the first day's march it traverses the plain which borders the east shore of the lake.
This day it was difficult to know what was intended for lake, what for road; it was all the March To Podgoritza. 165
same. The lake had the advantage, if anything, of being the less muddy of the two. "We were up to our knees in water all day. I endeavoured to enter into conversation with Marco, and was grieved to find he was a fraud. Yesterday, when we hired him, I spoke to him in Italian and French, curiously mixed together; for I was told he understood a little of both these languages. To everything I said he replied briskly, Qa bonne, monsor, ca bonne. This is the man for us, I said; he understands all I say. "Then he must, indeed, be a wonderful man," my friends replied; "let us have him."
But alas I I now discovered that Marco's linguistic powers were very limited. Give him an order; he never confessed to his absolute ignorance of what you were talking about, but blithely came out with his perpetual ca bonne, ca bonne, as if that was all that was required of him. However, by degrees I discovered what words he knew of French, what of Italian, and what of English (for he had even picked up some words of our tongue when in the service of the commissioners). With the addition of a few words of Sclav and Albanian, I then manufactured a mongrel tongue, which was common to Marco and myself, and utter gibberish to any one else. About midday we halted for lunch. We stood up to our knees in mud and water under the pouring rain, ate sausage, and