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138 GOOD FEELING OF THE PEASANTRY.
broidered at the ankle with gold and silver thread. After the mid-day meal we descended, accompanied by the monks. The lately crowded courtyard was silent and empty. “What,” said I, "all dispersed already?” The superior smiled, and said nothing. On going out of the gate, I paused in a state of slight emotion. The whole assembled peasantry were marshalled in two rows, and standing uncovered in solemn silence, so as to make a living avenue to the bridge.
The Igoumen then publicly expressed the pleasure my visit had given to the people, and in their name thanked me, and wished me a prosperous journey, repeating a phrase I had heard before: “ God be praised that Servia has at length seen the day that strangers come from afar to see and know the people!"
I took off my fez, and said, “Do you know, Father Igoumen, what has given me the most pleasure in the course of my visit ?"
Ig. “I can scarcely guess.”
Author. “I have seen a large assembly of peasantry, and not a trace of poverty, vice, or misery;
the best proof that both the civil and ecclesiastical authorities do their duty."
The Igoumen, smiling with satisfaction, made a short speech to the people. I mounted my horse ; the convent bells began to toll as I waved my hand to the assembly, and “ Sretnj poot !” (a prosperous journey!) burst from a thousand tongues. The scene was so moving that I could scarcely refrain a tear. Clapping spurs to my horse I cantered over the bridge and gave him his will of the bridle till the steepness of the ascent compelled a slower pace.
Romantic sylvan scenery.—Patriarchal simplicity of man
ners.—Krupena.—Sokol.-Its extraordinary position.Wretched town.--Alpine scenery.—Cool reception.Valley of the Rogatschitza.
Words fail me to describe the beauty of the road from Tronosha to Krupena. The heights and distances, without being alpine in reality, were sufficiently so to an eye unpractised in measuring scenery of the highest class; but in all the softer enchantments nature had revelled in prodigality. The gloom of the oak forest was relieved and broken by a hundred plantations of every variety of tree that the climate would bear, and every hue, from the sombre evergreen to the early suspicions of the yellow leaf of autumn. Even the tops of
SIMPLICITY OF MANNERS.
the mountains were free from sterility, for they were capped with green as bright, with trees as lofty, and with pasture as rich, as that of the valleys below.
The people, too, were very different from the inhabitants of Belgrade, where political intrigue, and want of the confidence which sincerity inspires, paralyze social intercourse. But the men of the back-woods, neither poor nor barbarous, delighted me by the patriarchal simplicity of their manners, and thė poetic originality of their language. Even in gayer moments I seemed to witness the sweet comedy of nature, in which man is ludicrous from his peculiarities, but “is not yet ridiculous from the affectations and assumptions of artificial life.”
Half-way to Krupena we reposed at a brook, where the carpets were laid out and we smoked a pipe. A curious illustration occurred here of the abundance of wood in Servia. A boy, after leading a horse into the brook, tugged the halter and led the unwilling horse out of the stream again. “Let him drink, let him drink his fill,” said a woman ;
“if every thing else must be paid with gold, at least wood and water cost nothing."
Mounting our horses again, we were met by six troopers bearing the compliments of the captain of Krupena, who was awaiting us with twenty-two or three irregular cavalry on an eminence. We both dismounted and went through the ceremony of public complimenting, both evidently enjoying the fun; he the visit of an illustrious stranger, and I the formality of a military reception. I perceived in a moment that this captain, although a good fellow, was fond of a little fuss; so I took him by the hand, made a turn across the grass, cast a nonchalant look on his troop, and condescended to express my approbation of their martial bearing. True it is that they were men of rude and energetic aspect, very fairly mounted. After patronizing him with a little further chat and compliment we remounted; and I perceived Krupena at the distance of about a mile, in the middle of a little plain surrounded by gardens; but the neighbouring hills were here and there bare of vegetation.