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Page:Littell's Living Age - Volume 130.djvu/452

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A LADY'S VISIT TO THE HERZEGOVINIAN INSURGENTS.

nificent range of hills on either side. Their rugged sides and stony precipices made a sombre contrast to the bright valley we were traversing, with its olive-woods and vineyards, through which ran a little river, babbling over its rocky bed, as though its waters had never been dyed with the blood of the slain, as was the case in 1862, when the standard of revolt was the last time raised in this district. On we went, past the fort of Sutorina. In the distance, in front of us, a hill was pointed out to us, rising sheer out of the plain, on which the camp was situated. We turned our eyes towards it, as mariners do towards the light they have to steer for, until it got nearer and nearer, and at last we reached the foot of the ascent. The stiff est part of our journey then began. Our path lay straight up the side of the hill. It hardly deserved to be dignified by the name of path, for it had originally been the bed of a torrent, the rolling stones of which did not make a particularly comfortable footing for our little horses. Nevertheless, they began bravely to scramble up it, and, by dint of urging and shouting, we were landed in twenty minutes at the picturesque village of Lutitz, in and about which the insurgents were stationed.

All the animals, cows, pigs, horses, etc., which generally occupy the ground-floor of a Dalmatian cottage, had been turned out on to the hillside, and their domiciles were occupied by Socica's followers. He himself had his quarters in the "pope's" or "priest's" house. Here we were welcomed by a vast amount of firing and hurrahing.

Knowing the extreme shortness of ammunition in the camp, we suggested to Socica, after a few rounds, that we had had quite enough. "My men have not heard the sound of a rifle for a few days," he said, "and are quite delighted at the opportunity." What a wild set of fellows they were, as they stood around their chief! We might have imagined ourselves in some robber's fastness of the Middle Ages. They were dressed in all sorts of costumes; some in the blue baggy trousers of the Turk, taken in battle, the cartouch-box ornamented with the crescent; others keeping to the white flannel jerkin of thur country. All looked well and healthy, and in first-rate condition, although our friend, the head of the Slav committee, assurredus they had not eaten meat for a week.

"Garibaldi offered to send us up some volunteers," he said, "but they were no good at all. They required meat every second day, whereas our men would march from here to Belgrade on a little maize bread."

There is no doubt about it, this is one of the great secrets of their success, and of the strength of the insurrection. The Turkish troops die right and left of the privations they have to undergo in this wild country, whereas the Herzegovinians and Montenegrins, who think nothing of walking fifteen miles for a drink of water, and back again, seem to thrive better for the hardships they suffer.

No emperor welcoming his guests could have shown higher breeding than Socica, who came forward to receive us, introduced us to all his friends and companions in arms, and then begged us to enter the house. The room we were shown into evidently served as bedroom for about a dozen of his staff, and as a banqueting-hall for every one, for on the table were spread out the principal luxuries the place afforded — black bread, raw mutton, smoked, and goats' cheese. The atmosphere was not sweet, and we begged that one of the windows might be opened: sitting down by it, and looking away over the most beautiful view of mountain and valley as far as Sutorina and the Bocche, we listened to these wild mountaineers, as they told the story of their wrongs, and insisted on the uselessness of Andrassy or any one else trying to patch up the quarrel between them and their oppressors.

Socica is a man of much more refinement and education than his colleagues. He held a leading position at Piva, where he had amassed a certain amount of money, with which he had to fly, to prevent the rapacious Turk from seizing it. When the insurrection broke out, he gave his life and money to the cause. His wife and family are at Montenegro, and he and they will never be able to return to the Herzegovina as long as the Moslem remains in possession. "But," as he told ns, "that could make little pecuniary difference, for before his flight he had been obliged to dispose of all his property." He introduced us to a brother chief, Melentia, who was a priest, but, like all the servants of the gospel in this country, was ready to fight as well as preach. Nothing was talked about but the war, and the prospect of the coming campaign in the spring. One of the things that struck us most was the slender resources on which the insurrection existed, and the indominable energy and courage that must animate the chiefs, to enable them to succeed