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made up the sum total of the resident FrankoLevantines in Roustchouk.
A gun fired in the evening warned me that the steamer had arrived ; and, anxious to push on for Servia, I embarked forthwith.
River Steaming.- Arrival at Widdin.-Jew.-Comfortless
Khan.- Wretched appearance of Widdin.-Hussein Pasha.-M. Petronievitch.-Steam Balloon.
RIVER steaming is, according to my notions, the best of all sorts of locomotion. Steam at sea makes you sick, and the voyage is generally over before you have gained your sea legs and your land appetite. In mail or stage you have no sickness and see the country, but you are squeezed sideways by helpless corpulence, and in front cooped into uneasiness by two pairs of egotistical knees and toes. As for locomotives, tunnels, cuts, and viaducts—this is not travelling to see the country, but arrival without seeing it. 30
ARRIVAL AT WIDDIN.
This eighth wonder of the world, so admirably adapted for business, is the despair of picturesque tourists, as well as post-horse, chaise, and gig letters. Our cathedral towns, instead of being distinguished from afar by their cloud-capt towers, are only recognizable at their respective stations by the pyramids of gooseberry tarts and ham sandwiches being at one place at the lower, and at another at the upper, end of an apartment marked “ refreshment room.” Now in river steaming you walk the deck, if the weather and the scenery be good ; if the reverse, you lounge below, read, write, or play; and then the meals are arranged with Germanic ingenuity for killing time and the digestive organs.
On the second day the boat arrived at Widdin, and the agent of the steam packet company, an old Jew, came on board. I stepped across the plank and accompanied him to a large white house opposite the landing-place. On entering, I saw a group of Israel's children in the midst of a deadly combat of sale and purchase, bawling at the top of their voices in most villanous Cas
tilian; all were filthy and shabbily dressed. The agent having mentioned who I was to the group, a broad-lipped young man with a German mütze surmounting his oriental costume, stepped forward with a confident air, and in a thick guttural voice addressed me in an unknown tongue. I looked about for an answer, when the agent told me in Turkish that he spoke English.
Jew. “You English gentleman, sir, and not know English.”
Author. “I have to apologize for 'not recognizing the accents of my native country.”
Jew. “Bring goods wid you, sir?”
Author. “No, I am not a merchant. Pray can you get me a lodging ?”
Jew. “Get you as mush room you like, sir.”
Jew. “Been in London, Amsterdam, and Hamburgh.”
We now arrived at the wide folding gates of the khan, which to be sure had abundance of space for travellers, but the misery and filth of every apartment disgusted me. One had broken
windows, another a broken floor, a third was covered with half an inch of dust, and the weather outside was cold and rainy ; so I shrugged up my shoulders and asked to be conducted to another khan. There I was somewhat better off, for I got into a new room leading out of a café where the charcoal burned freely and warmed the apartment. When the room was washed out I thought myself fortunate, so dreary and deserted had the other khan appeared to me.
I now took a walk through the bazaars, but found the place altogether miserable, being somewhat less village-like than Roustchouk. Lying so nicely on the bank of the Danube, which here makes such beautiful curves, and marked on the map with capital letters, it ought (such was my notion) to be a place having at least one wellbuilt and well-stocked bazaar, a handsome seraglio, and some good-looking mosques. Nothing of the sort. The Konak or palace of the Pasha is an old barrack. The seraglio of the famous Passavan Oglou is in ruins, and the only decent looking house in the place is the new office of the