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A great victory—A good old custom—On the Lake of Scutari —The londra—The debateable land—Boat song—Encampment—Scutari—A reminiscence of Cremorne—The brothers Toshli—"Willow-pattern plates—At the British Consulate.
The next was a glorious morning. We were up at daybreak, and with the assistance of our friend, bargained with four men to take us in a boat to Scutari.
The captain of the village also came to our aid, and beat down the rather exorbitant demands of his countrymen.
The captain was evidently an important personage—to be respected and feared; for the fellows ceased their vehement jabbering, and became very humble and quiet, when he appeared on the scene.
Our nautical friend told us that this Voyade was a distinguished warrior. He had been engaged in that great victory gained over the Turks in 1858.
A GREAT VICTORY. * ióI
Some of my readers may remember that in that year an army of 6000 Turkish regulars invaded Montenegro. They had advanced some miles up one of those frightful defiles by which alone the Black Mountain is to be penetrated, when they were surprised by a body of Montenegrins, much inferior in numbers, but having the advantage of . a thorough acquaintance with every rock and crevice of the grey hills. Of the 6000 Turks, but six men and the commander of the expedition escaped. It was only owing to the intercession of certain of the great powers that the Prince did not follow up this great victory by an invasion of the Herzegovina, where, of course, all the Christians would have flocked to his standard. An international commission was sent out to definitely settle a frontier-line between Montenegro and Turkey—as vain an undertaking as that of the present year will probably prove to be. As we knew not how long a voyage lay before us, we laid up a store of provisions in our vessel —the round wheaten cakes of the East, “baken on the coals,” probably similar to those the Shunamite placed before Elisha long ago, a gourd of wine with a strong smack of the goat’s skin, goat's milk cheese, and an abundance of fine black grapes. Our boat awaited us some few hundred yards down the stream, where the water was sufficiently
deep to float ber; for the Rieka is here but a shallow brook. Our boatmen had a good deal of poling and wading to do for the first mile or so, as we were constantly grounding on the shingle banks.
Before leaving, a ceremony had to be observed which prevails all over these countries, and which, like many good old customs, has died out in more civilized countries. Our host tucked a bottle of raki under his arm, and, taking a small glass in his hand, accompanied us to where we were to embark, and then handed round the final stirrup cups in most liberal manner.
The londra, as the boat of the country is called, is a roughly-made, flat-bottomed affair, with prow and stern alike—sharp pointed, and running up high out of the water, something like the Venetian gondola. These boats are of every size, from the small cranky tub propelled with one oar, to the lengthy twelve-oared vessel.
They have little beam, and must be exceedingly dangerous on the lake in choppy weather—indeed, accidents often occur; but every one here is so happily careless, and trustful in kismet, that these ricketty coffins have not been superseded by any more seaworthy craft.
The londra is tarred inside and out; there are no benches ; the passengers squat on their blankets at the bottom of the boat. The rowers stand up