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148

ADMITTANCE REFUSED

wise I would have asked letters of Hafiz Pasha to you: for, intending to go to Nish, he gave me a letter to the Pasha there. But the people of this country having advised me not to miss the wonder of Servia, I have come, seduced by the account of its beauty, not doubting of your good reception of strangers :” on which I took out the letter of Hafiz Pasha, the direction of which he read, and then he said, in a husky voice which became his cross look,

“ I do not understand your speech; if you have seen Belgrade, you must find Sokol contemptible. As for your seeing the citadel, it is impossible; for the key is with the Disdar Aga, and he is asleep, and even if you were to get in, there is nothing to be seen.”

After some further conversation, in the course of which I saw' that it would be better not to attempt “ to catch the Tartar," I restricted myself to taking a survey of the town. Continuing our walk in the same direction as that by which we entered, we completed the threading of the bazaar, which was truly abominable, and arrived at the gate of the citadel, which was open ; so

TO THE CITADEL.

149

that the story of the key and the slumbers of the Disdar Aga was all fudge. I looked in, but did not enter. There are no new works, and it is a castle such as those one sees on the Rhine; but its extraordinary position renders it impregnable in a country impracticable for artillery. Although blockaded in the time of the Revolution, and the Moslem garrison reduced to only seven men, it never was taken by the Servians ; although Belgrade, Ushitza, and all the other castles, had fallen into their hands. Close to the castle is a mosque in wood, with a minaret of wood, although the finest stone imaginable is in abundance all around. The Mutsellim opened the door, and showed me the interior, with blank walls and a faded carpet, opposite the Moharrem. He would not allow me to go up the minaret, evidently afraid I would peep over into the castle.

Retracing our steps I perceived a needle-shaped rock that overlooked the abyss under the fortress, so taking off my boots, I scrambled up and attained the pinnacle; but the view was so fearful, that, afraid of getting dizzy, I turned to descend,

em.

150

A SUSPICIOUS MUTSELLIM.

but found it a much more dangerous affair than the ascent; at length by the assistance of Paul I got down to the Mutsellim, who was sitting impatiently on a piece of rock, wondering at the unaccountable Englishman. I asked him what he supposed to be the height of the rock on which the citadel was built, above the level of the valley below.

“ What do I know of engineering?" said he, taking me out of hearing : “I confess I do not understand your object. I hear that on the road you have been making inquiries as to the state of Bosnia : what interest can England have in raising disturbances in that country?”

“ The same interest that she has in producing political disorder in one of the provinces of the moon. In some semi-barbarous provinces of Hungary, people confound political geography with political intrigue. In Aleppo, too, I recollect standing at the Bab-el-Nasr, attempting to spell out an inscription recording its erection, and I was grossly insulted and called a Mehendis (engineer); but you seem a man of more sense and discernment."

“Well, you are evidently not a chapkun. There

THE DESCENT FROM SOKOL.

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is nothing more to be seen in Sokol. Had it not been Ramadan we should have treated you better, be your intentions good or bad. I wish you a pleasant journey; and if you wish to arrive at Liubovia before night-fall the sooner you set out the better, for the roads are not safe after dark.”

We now descended by paths like staircases cut in the rocks to the valley below. Paul dismounted in a fright from his horse, and led her down; but my long practice of riding in the Druse country had given me an easy indifference to roads that would have appalled me before my residence there. When we got a little way along the valley, I looked back, and the view from below was, in a different style, as remarkable as that from above. Sokol looked like a little castle of Edinburgh placed in the clouds, and a precipice on the other side of the valley presented a perpendicular stature of not less than five hundred feet.

A few hours' travelling through the narrow valley of the Bogatschitza brought us to the bank of the Drina, where, leaving the up-heaved monuments of a chaotic world, we bade adieu to the Tremendous, and again saluted the Beautiful.

CHAPTER XIV.

The Drina.-Liubovia. -Quarantine Station.-Derlatcha.

A Servian beauty.—A lunatic priest.-Sorry quarters.Murder by brigands.

The Save is the largest tributary of the Danube, and the Drina is the largest tributary of the Save, but it is not navigable; no river scenery, however, can possibly be prettier than that of the Drina; as in the case of the Upper Danube from Linz to Vienna, the river winds between precipitous banks tufted with wood, but it was tame after the thrilling enchantments of Sokol. At one place a Roman causeway ran along the river, and we were told that a Roman bridge crossed a tributary of the Drina in this neighbourhood, which to this day bears the name of Latinski Tiupria, or Latin bridge.

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