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“See here,” he says, “this swanzicker you give me has a hole through it; that diminishes its value by two paras.” Two or three neighbours are called in to decide the question. Each has a different opinion on the subject. The fact is that all money is acceptable here, and that, especially since Turkey's reduced circumstances, the currency consists of the old, semi-defaced coinage of a dozen nations at least, whose value is arrived at by guesswork. I met no one in Albania capable of telling off-hand how many piastres a given piece was worth. We spent the three days Shouma had given us, in preparing for our journey, and seeing as much as we could of the habits and customs of the Scutarines. As we had made up our minds to ride, we paid a visit to the bazaar to purchase two horses. All sorts of extraordinary animals were produced, and refused. At last we came across one that struck our fancy—a long-legged, extremely lean creature, tall for the country, of a red-brick colour. Brown, who is a horsey man, proceeded to examine him in a scientific manner, to the admiration of the Arnaut stablemen. He pointed out the weak points of the animal by signs to the dealer, who was quite as sharp as any of his fraternity in England.
OUR HORSEs. I 49
Brown, wishing to express his disapproval of the extremely emaciated condition of the horse, pointed to his ribs; whereon the man, misunderstanding his meaning, deliberately counted them before him—a very easy process in the case of this Albanian Rosinante—and indignantly signified to my companion that he was too much of a gentleman to offer for sale a horse that was not provided with a sufficient number of those necessary costal supporters. The animal was then trotted out, down one of the crowded alleys of the bazaar. He found favour in Brown's critical eye, so the bargaining commenced. “Sa paré?” (how much) I asked. The dealer held up both his hands, and said, “napoleon Frank’—to signify that he wanted ten napoleons. Brown expressed infinite disgust, and held up two fingers. The dealer in his turn turned his back, with indignant gesticulations and exclamations at the ridiculously low offer. At last a bargain was struck, the money counted out, and the purchase delivered to us. We were mounted at the time on two horses Mr. Green had kindly lent us; so we led off Rosso —as we named our animal, in consequence of his rosy hue—with a rope behind us.
Through Mr. Green we managed to procure another steed, a younger animal, and of more robust habit than the lean and haggard Rosso. From his more gentlemanly appearance we gave him the name of Effendi.
We managed to pick up two saddles in the bazaar—one the regular Turkish saddle, at first so uncomfortable to the novice, but gaudy with flimsy metal ornament; the other was a secondhand Turkish officer’s saddle, similar to that used in Europe, and provided with formidable-looking holsters.
We felt very proud of our purchases, and took a long ride the same afternoon over the plain, to a very fine old Venetian bridge that spans a branch of the Bojano, Mr. Green's son accompanying us.
Rosso and Effendi proved to be all that could be desired.
THE morrow (October 18th) was the great holiday of North Albania, the day of Our Lady of Scutari. Long ago all this country was Christian. In this city there then stood a beautiful wooden image of the Virgin Mary. Thousands of the faithful were wont to flock hither year by year to offer their devotions at her feet, and to be healed of their infirmities; for no sick man that had faith was ever known to kiss the white feet of the image and not depart whole. But it came to pass that a certain priest made himself very unpopular among the people. I do not quite know for what cause, but at any rate a large multitude came to the church one day, and declared that unless something that they desired was granted to them they would then and there abjure the religion of Christ and embrace
Mohammedanism. Rightly or wrongly, the priest would not give in ; whereupon the people tore their rosaries from their necks, and marched off to the nearest Mohammedan village, that the mollahs might receive the renegades into the fold of the Prophet; whereupon Our Lady of Scutari, sorrowful and angry at the desertion of those for whom she had wrought so many good things for so many years, left her shrine in this ungrateful land. That night the wooden image disappeared. It was not heard of for months—when tidings came that on the very same night that this event happened, an image of the Virgin miraculously entered a church in a remote village of Italy, and there took up its abode. A loud voice was also heard, crying out over Scutari, that not till the last Turki (Mohammedan) had left Albania would Our Lady of Scodra be appeased and forgive her children: then, and not till then, would she return to her old shrine. This day was the anniversary of the miraculous departure of the image, long ago; and an impressive service was held in the great ugly square church of the Christians in this city. The interior of this building is almost entirely devoid of any ornament whatever, and bears no resemblance to any church elsewhere. The priests that minister to the spiritual wants of the Albanians are Franciscans and Jesuits, all