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Tory or Radical prints; I had dined with the Greek Consul; I had dined with the Governor; I had dined with the Archbishop ; I had dined with the Commander-in-chief. The gaieties of Larissa began to pall upon me, and I determined to move on. The district which I was most anxious to visit was that which lies under the western slopes of Mount Olympus, and through which runs the only practicable road between Thessaly and western Macedonia. Nothing could exceed the courtesy and the alacrity displayed by the Turkish authorities to assist me in carrying out my plans. But all the mountain regions of Thessaly were infested with brigands. Greece had freed her own provinces from this plague at the expense of the neighbouring provinces of Turkey, where she conveniently discovered that the black sheep who were so unwelcome within her own borders, could be used with considerable effect to stir up the Greek populations and damage the little credit which Turkish rule might still enjoy in the eyes of Europe. To be captured by brigands is no doubt a novel and fascinating sensation : but excitement may be purchased too dearly,
and I was not inclined to pay for it with the loss of my nose or my ears; and I doubted whether a paternal Government would again show itself as lavish, even of other people's money, as when it paid £12,000 for the release of Colonel Synge and invited the Turkish Government to refund the amount. On the other hand, I did not like to ask the authorities for a small army to accompany me on an excursion of mere curiosity. It was here that Providence favoured me with one of those fortunate opportunities by which it seeks intermittingly to atone for its more frequent unkindness. I had brought from Constantinople a letter of introduction to Selami Pasha, the general officer then in command of the cavalry division in Thessaly, and it was at that time borne in upon the Sublime Porte that he should be transferred to the same duties in Macedonia. His Excellency's route lay through the region which I wished to visit, and he at once invited me to accompany him to Monastir. I accepted the invitation.
Larissa, “The Brilliant,” looked even more than usually squalid when I turned out of the
Consulate on the morning of the 30th of September to join the Pasha. Heavy rain had been falling throughout the night: it lay in the streets in large black flakes; it ran down the mud-walls of the mud-houses; it dripped in heavy drops from the low tiled roofs; it rushed down the open drains of the miserable bazaars in turbid torrents, sweeping before it the accumulated filth of weeks ; it hung in lowering clouds over the town, shutting out the only redeeming feature of the landscape, the prospect of the classic mountains which surround the plain of Thessaly. The Pasha's orderly, who came round to fetch me, told me that his Excellency was ready, and waiting for me to start. But the word “ready” has in Turkish a most elastic sense, varying according to the intonation from the immediate present to a somewhat indefinite future. It was evidently the latter signification which attached to it in this case ; for when I entered the courtyard of the Pasha's house, I found him sitting with a crowd of other officers on piles of baggage, waiting, not for me, but for his pack-animals. Compliments, cigarettes, and coffee helped, however, to while away
the time. In the course of about an hour the animals put in an appearance. In the course of another hour we were, one after another, robbed of all our seats, and the caravan was finally pronounced ready in the fullest sense of the word. With a great show of haste and clatter of hoofs we trotted through the town, bespattering with mud the Greek merchants, who scowled at the military uniforms from behind their counters, and drawing to the windows and doorways respectable Jewish matrons, forgetful, in the hurry of the moment, of their matrimonial wigs, and dark-eyed Moslem ladies with tantalising veils, and sallow-faced Greek girls without. Presently we crossed the bridge over the Salemvria, and halted for a few minutes in the plain beyond to take leave of the chief officials and inspect the troops, who were drawn up in honour of the departing Pasha. Four battalions of infantry, two squadrons of cavalry, and four batteries of artillery had turned out for the occasion. The uniforms were patched and soiled, the horses small and ill-matched, but the men looked resolute and workmanlike enough. The troops, indeed, presented rather the appearance of having just returned from a campaign than that of an army preparing to encounter its hardships. The Pasha accomplished the review in a rather perfunctory manner. More coffee and cigarettes were consumed, and then the band struck lip the Imperial hymn, and we cantered away across the plain. Our party was now considerably reduced—the pack-animals had forged their way ahead, and there were only five officers in the Pasha's suite; but we were preceded, accompanied, and followed by an escort of fifty cavaliers, whose Winchester repeaters were better calculated to inspire respect than Foreign Office passports or vizierial bouyourouldus.
Past the large village of Tirnowa and a cluster of other Mussulman villages nestling among maple - trees, mulberries, and vineyards at the foot of the Karadéré gorge, our route lay through the steep defile of Melouna to the first of the three mountain plateaux which rise, terrace-like, under the western flank of Mount Olympus, up to the central ridge of the Kambouni. Neither Kiepert's nor the Austrian staff map seems to convey a very correct impression of the orography of this important district. Far from be