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and then bade them God speed. Shortly after this Niazi was enabled to amnesty and arrange for the coming in of the bands that were in the hills round Dibra, which place was made an important centre of the insurrectionary movement.
It was about this time that Niazi received a letter from the Monastir Centre of the Committee which gave him great encouragement. It thanked him and “the heroic self-sacrificing men of Resna” for the splendid work they were doing, and informed Niazi that his friend, Major Enver Bey, the clever staff officer who had performed distinguished service in Macedonia, had thrown up his commission, and at the head of a band of fedais was actively preparing the population in the Tikosh district, while other officers had also organised bands, and taken to the mountains. The fortunes of the cause appeared very bright.
He also learnt from this letter that General Shemshi Pasha had been publicly assassinated in Monastir on July 7. The General, after reporting progress to the Palace, had left the telegraph office and was driving in his carriage to join the two battalions with which it was his intention to surround Niazi's band, when he was shot dead by an officer in uniform. Fifteen hundred people were surrounding the carriage at the time, but not one attempted to, or had any wish to arrest this executioner of the Committee's will, who strolled
quietly off. The ill-fated Shemshi was an energetic commander, and had he lived there would undoubtedly have been some severe fighting between such troops as would have remained loyal to him and the Committee's bands. Shemshi would probably have led his troops to disaster, for his boldness and confidence in himself amounted to rashness, and he despised his enemy. Ambushes had been prepared for him on the roads by which he would have had to march ; and Niazi, operating in a difficult mountain country, with an armed population skilled in guerilla war to stand by him, was now in a position to hold his own for an indefinite time against any forces that the Government could send against him. There can be little doubt that the death of Shemshi prevented a civil war that would have done much injury to the cause of the Committee, for it would have divided public opinion, the unanimity of which it was of such importance to secure. From the date of Shemshi's death the impotence of the Government and the disorganisation of the army made it difficult for the Palace to plunge the country into the horrors of internecine conflict.
The success of the bands—The Albanians support the Committee—Friendly attitude of the Bulgarians—Final efforts of the Despotism—Anatolian troops are sent to crush the insurrection—The Vali of Monastir warns the Palace— The Palace intrigues with the Greeks—The Committee's proclamation to the Greeks.
THE preparations for the general rising now advanced very rapidly. Enver Bey, declining further treacherous offers, which included the promise of his promotion to General rank if he would return to Constantinople, led his band of fedais through the mountains, and won village after village to the revolutionary cause. The story of this young officer's escape in disguise from Salonica, his adventures in the wilds, and the brave work he did for Turkey, is told throughout his country. He has become the popular hero, and is held in the highest estimation by his comrades; for the complete absence of any jealousy among the young officers who devoted themselves to the liberation of their fatherland is a pleasing feature of this patriotic movement. Niazi writes of Enver as follows: “He who in the time of sorrow and hopelessness encouraged ways, Enver Bey, whose like is seldom to be met.” Salah-ed-Din Bey, Hassan Bey, and other officers were also wandering over Macedonia and Albania with their bands, gaining thousands of adherents among the landowners and the peasantry; and at the same time others were educating the rank and file of the army, with the result that a large proportion of the troops garrisoning this region were ready to fight, even against their own comrades, if called upon to do so.
and fortified us with his ardent words and serious
Niazi Bey had practically won over the bulk of the Moslem inhabitants of Western Albania, a wonderful achievement indeed. For one who knows these fanatical Albanian tribesmen finds it difficult to understand how they could listen with sympathy and patience to the gospel of universal brotherhood, and the extension of equal rights to Christian and Mussulman. But Niazi, with his rough, strong eloquence, his obvious sincerity and single-mindedness, his magnetic personality, and his commanding presence—for, like many Albanians, he is a man of great stature and sturdy build—is evidently a born leader of men; and he was successful not only in gaining over the Albanians, but in holding back these eager warriors until their armed assistance should be called for, and in making them patch up their sanguinary tribal and family blood feuds, some of which had endured for centuries. Moreover, a
large proportion of the young officers of the Third Army Corps were of Albanian stock, and of these several were able to influence their countrymen in the Committee's favour. Niazi and his band, during their memorable twenty days' wandering in the hill-country, avoiding the main roads, and threading in single file the difficult mountain tracks, ran many dangers, and suffered considerable hardships. At times the pursuing Government troops were close at their heels; sometimes, but not often, the sedais came to a village whose inhabitants were hostile. Thus, on one occasion, when hungry, thirsty, and weary they approached a village in order to obtain the bread and cheese and water which seem to have composed their usual diet, the villagers, whose minds had been poisoned against the Committee by an emissary of the Palace, came out armed to the teeth, and dangerously excited, and threatened to fire upon the band. The position was an awkward one, for Niazi not only had the hostile village in front of him, but had in his rear, and not far off, a large detachment of troops under a Bosnian officer, which had been sent to cut him off. So the band, foodless and worn out with fatigue, had to take to the upper slopes of the mountain for safety. Niazi is an obstinate man. He was determined either to convert that village to the cause or to give it a severe lesson. A few days later he talked the