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Page:Littell's Living Age - Volume 130.djvu/448

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A LADY'S VISIT TO THE HERZEGOVINIAN INSURGENTS.

banks sloped down to the water's edge, whilst behind frowned the stony hills of Herzegovina at each new turn of the river; disclosing a pretty glen, with its fishing-village, surmounted either by a convent or a palace. The country about here used to be a favorite summer resort of the rich Ragusan nobles, as the many deserted villas that line the river's bank amply prove; one in particular we noticed whose marble stairs were overgrown with moss, and its loggia covered with frescoes, entirely uninhabited; it made one painfully realize the difference between the former prosperity of the town and its present sunk condition.

What, a place the banks of the Ombla would be for an artist! Every house almost has its Byzantine window or carved doorway, making delicious little bits of picturesque background. As we rowed along, one of our party, whilst looking up at the dark blue sky overhead, descried a number of vultures wheeling and turning about. We could not understand it at first, until our boatman said, "Oh yes, they are waiting to see what prey they can pick up on the site of the battle-field of the day before yesterday." This rudely recalled us to the tragic events that were being enacted in our neighborhood, but which the beauty and tranquillity of the scene had made us forget for a time. After two hours' row, we found ourselves at the old mills, the bourne of our journey. The Ombla, like all the other rivers on this coast, gushes clear and bright out of the foot of the hill, with the same impetuosity and volume that it displays during the remainder of its course. The mills are built over its source, where it first breaks over the rocks, and a picturesque and fern-grown place it is, not rendered less so by its groups of Herzegovinian inhabitants. For here we are just over the border and in the insurgent country. All around, the heights are covered with goats and herds of sheep, tended by poor refugee women, who have driven them hither to save them from the rapacity of the Turk.

On our way home we were met by the Russian consul-general, Mr. Jonine, who is said to be the wire-puller of all the diplomatic intrigues carried on by the cabi net of St. Petersburg in these provinces. His position can certainly be no sinecure just now, as his wearied and overworked looks prove. His employers are said to have the highest opinion of his capabilities. Canosa is also well worth seeing, and the eight-mile drive to it lies through some of the finest scenery on the Dalmatian littoral; the road winding along the face of the cliff that overhangs the Adriatic, which at this point is studded with islands. The principal sight at the village itself consists of two plane-trees, said to be the largest in the world, and not less than three hundred years old.

It was festa day when we were there, and the girls in their white aprons and bright-colored dresses formed a charming picture. The priest of the village is a well-known poet, and many is the warlike ode with which he has stirred up the hearts of his countrymen. He was playing bowls as we came up, his priestly cloak over his arm, but as much excited as any of his parishioners. When the game was over, he came and sat down, and held forth before us all. He by no means professed to carry out the Christian doctrine of peace and forgiveness, and wherever the Turks were concerned, was uncompromising in his hatred. "Fancy," he said, "the archbishop having told one of my brother priests that it was not his duty to face the Turk, but that he ought to retire, and leave fighting to soldiers! He came and asked me about it, and I very soon sent him back to defend his country and his faith." We thought, as we listened to him, surrounded by his flock, of the description in "Hermann and Dorothea" of the "edle verständiger Pfarrherr," who knew life and the needs of his audience.

CATTARO AND MONTENEGRO.

Cattaro lies at the foot of the mountain of Montenegro. It is situated at the end of the narrow estuary called the Bocche di Cattaro. These Bocche are fifteen miles long, and about half a mile broad, and look more like a great river winding between mountains to the sea than an arm of the Adriatic. The scenery is striking in the extreme, reminding one often, in its sternness and ruggedness, of a Scotch loch. The hills rise, black and threatening, on either side, clothed half-way up with oak and pine woods, while the summit is generally bare and stony. It is proverbially the worst place on this treacherous coast for sudden storms, and the bora comes swooping down through the clefts of the hills with extraordinary force. One moment may be clear and bright as an August day, and the next black as night: your pilot will point you out a little fleecy cloud lying on the hillside, and will say, "That means a bora" and before you have time to shorten sail a