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son, forms an ornamental, if no longer useful, feature in the landscape. A quaint square clocktower bears witness to the rule of Latin princes in the land, and, like all similar constructions, is popularly ascribed to the Genoese; but it has long since been taught by the conqueror to toll out the hours à la Turque. Trikalla is a sleepy town of about 8000 inhabitants, mostly Greeks and Wallachs, with a few wealthy Moslem families and a small colony of Jews. Its position is naturally strong, and of considerable strategic importance, as it commands the débouché from Epirus down the upper valley of the Salemvria. In Hellenic times Tricca was a famous seat of learning, sacred to Æsculapius, and its medical university was the resort of aspiring M.D.'s from all parts of Hellas. But nowadays all that is forgotten, and the Trikalliotes are reputed for anything but intelligence or instruction. Greek schools are doing something towards rousing them from their coma, but the intellectual standard is still very low even for Thessaly. Mine host is a rich landowner and merchant, the first Greek notable of the town, and his income, he informs me, not without pride, exceeds £3000 in good years; but wealthy and worthy as he may be, his mind appears as scantily furnished as his wardrobe. His political opinions, if simple, are, however, at least robust and commendable : “ Confusion to the Turks, and long life to Gladstone ! only it's a pity that he should have been born a Bulgar.”

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CHAPTER VIII.

THROUGH THE HEART OF THE PINDUS.

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On the evening before I left Trikalla, the Turkish Governor insisted that I should swell my escort, which had hitherto consisted of ten suwaris or horsemen, by taking with me a small detachment of infantry. Now doubtless a numerous escort enhances one's importance, commands respect, and adds to the picturesqueness of one's cavalcade ; but it is also apt to impede one's progress, and materially increases the expenses of the journey, and I strongly resisted, though in vain, the favour thrust upon me. But the first piece of news I heard in the morning was well calculated to dispel any lingering hesitation. It was supposed that, thanks to the energetic measures of the present Mushir, brigandage had been wellnigh stamped out of

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the plains of Thessaly; and in truth there had been of late but few cases of highway violence in the province, and those only in the mountain districts. Anyhow, the brigands were out again, and no mistake about it. On the preceding Tuesday they had seized, near Armyro, two Mussulman farmers and a petty Government official; and on the following Thursday they had waylaid a wealthy Turkish gentleman, Arif Bey, the President of the Municipal Council of Salonica, who was on his way to visit his farm at Velestin, on the highroad between Larissa and Volo, and after killing two of his escort, they had carried him off to the mountains, and demanded 9000 liras ransom. After this piece of intelligence, when my escort arrived, I counted the thirty men, cavalry and infantry, and found them not one too many.

From Trikalla the valley of the Salemvria makes a sharp bend to the north-west, the stream descending from its mountain home in the Pindus between the precipitous slopes of Mount Kotsiaka (the Eastern Pindus) and the low spurs of the Kambouni, at the extremity of which lies Trikalla. To the south the Agrapha, or Mountains of the Unwritten Villages—so called from the privileges granted by the Ottoman sultans to their free Wallach populations—stretch far away into the kingdom of Greece, a mass of peaks and crests of exquisitely varied forms. But the ridge which rises to our left is a lofty unbroken cliff, averaging 4000 to 5000 feet in height, a gigantic natural wall twenty miles in length, dividing Epirus off from Thessaly. Opposite to the northern extremity of this wall, on the left bank of the Salemvria, rise the strange columnar rocks upon which are perched the famous aerial monasteries of Meteora. Seldom does nature show herself more lavish of rich colours and fantastic shapes. Masses of conglomerate, cleft asunder by some primordial cataclysm, have been chiselled by the hand of time into the strangest forms of columns, pinnacles, pilasters, bastions, towering above the valley. The deep ravines which intersect them are clothed with the most luxurious vegetation, while rain and sunshine have painted their grey cliffs with rich streaks of yellow, brown, and madder - red. The ascetic fervour of the early Christian ages scaled these inaccessible

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