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ment, so far as I could see, in being sent to prison in his country, whereupon he looked quite shocked.
‘No punishment !'he exclaimed, ‘but think of the disgrace of being in prison. Is not that in itself enough punishment ?'
If in those days the people of Podgoritza were more peaceful and easygoing than other Montenegrins, it was but right that they should be ; for their lines were cast in more pleasant places than the lines of other Montenegrins.
The town is not on the barren Black Mountain, it must be remembered, but in the rich fertile Zeta Valley, where even the pomegranate will grow. Thus they have none of the hardships to contend against that render the lives of the mountain dwellers so sore a burden-no grim wolves prowl around their doors. They can count on a good harvest, as a rule; and even if the harvest fails them, they have factories to fall back upon. Besides, theirs is a well ordered, well cared for town, or so at least it was when I was there ; for they had a Governor who not only reigned but ruled. He held the whole district, indeed, in the very hollow of his hand : he knew exactly what every man and woman there ought to do, and saw to it that, so far as in them lay, do it they did, going about among them as a patriarch of old, keeping them nolentes volentes in the narrow path. And his people were much too proud of him to cavil at his high-handed ways; and he certainly was a Governor to be proud of. He was a notably stalwart handsome man in a land where almost every man is stalwart and handsome, straight and active as a boy, notwithstanding his seventy-five years. He had won his spurs as a warrior too; and that he was most kindly even those who liked him least were fain to admit.
Governor though he were, General too, and of princely birth, he lived in the most primitive fashion, without ever a thought for convention or etiquette. I had, as it chanced, a letter of introduction to him; and no sooner was it delivered, than his secretary came running in to tell me that his Excellency would receive me the following morning, at five o'clock.
You might, however, come later, if you chose,' he remarked, noting, perhaps, the consternation I was certainly feeling. 'Any time between five o'clock and eight would do, or even between nine and twelve. Shall we say nine ?' he added, hurriedly, in evident fear lest I should say twelve.
I promised to be at the Governor's house the next day by nine o'clock; but seemingly he had his doubts as to whether I could be
relied upon ; for, long before nine, he came to fetch me. His Excellency had finished his morning meal, and was waiting for me, he said. And there was real relief in his face when I prepared to start off with him at once.
We found the Governor in a great bare salon, in which furniture there was practically none beyond a few chairs, a table and a sofa. He greeted me most cordially. He was very glad to see me, he declared ; and he hoped to see me many times ; for there were many things he wished to ask me. Englishwomen are practical, and they have common sense,' he added meditatively.
At that moment a stately and very beautiful old lady entered the room.
She was wearing a dress of some dark material, made in the quaint national fashion, with a richly embroidered little jacket; and she had in her hand a silver salver, on which were four tiny cups of coffee. She was the Governor's wife, and she bade me welcome with a courtesy that was quite charming in its kindliness, its simple dignity. One of the cups she presented to me with great ceremony ; another she presented to her husband ; the third, to his secretary ; and the fourth, she took herself. The Governor then gave us to
, understand that the time for talking was come.
He was troubled in his mind, it seemed ; and all because of his daughters. He had sent two of them to the boarding-school which the Russian Tzaritsa Marie had established at Cettinje; and he was by no means sure that they were being brought up there as they ought to be brought up.
It is a very grand school,' he informed me, in the oddest Slav-French I ever heard, helped out by explanations in German from his secretary. "They teach drawing there, and music, and singing, and dancing, and many things besides, but. . . . He paused for a moment, and then added angrily : 'They don't teach cooking; they won't teach cooking. That Russian directress actually declares that les belles idées are of more importance than dinners. She would never dream of allowing young girls to spend their time learning how to cook, she says, until their heads were already full of les belles idées. Does she think that they will be able to feed their husbands on belles idécs ? That is what I should like to know. Now, I appeal to you, as a practical English woman. Ought not my daughters to be taught at school how to cook ?”
I answered quite truthfully that I thought every one's daughters ought to be taught somewhere how to cook.
He chuckled with delight, and straightway set to work to prove
to me, that if Montenegrin girls were to be taught how to cook at all, they must be taught at school, as their mothers could not teach them at home.
Their mothers do not know how to cook,' he explained. My wife does not know how to cook. There are not half a dozen women in Montenegro who do know how, and that is a real disaster for us all.' He spoke feelingly. “I don't say that it is altogether their fault,' he continued, in a tone that showed plainly that he did think it was. “I remember the day when they had no time for cooking, and nothing much to cook; when they were out early and late working on the land, their husbands being off soldiering. They fell into the way then of having bread, coffee and eggs for every meal ; and they cannot now be made to see that anything more is needed. There is nothing to be done with them. I have talked to them until I am tired ; but they have no understanding. With their daughters, now, it is different. They can be taught how to cook and they shall. I am so glad you think as I do. I knew you would.' He glanced around triumphantly.
His wife, who had been listening to him with a patient smile, ventured to remark that cooking was a little difficult in houses where there were no ovens-no fire-places, even. There were other remarks she would, I think, have liked to make, had not etiquette barred the way. A Montenegrin woman is at a great disadvantage in talking to her husband, it must be noted; for no matter what wild statements he may make, she is bound by law not to contradict him. Her solemn renunciation, so far as he is concerned, of her innate right to contradict is an integral part of the Montenegrin marriage ceremony. Every bride, before she can become a wife, must, standing before the altar, swear that, let her bridegroom say what he will, she will never, when he is her husband, gainsay him. This is, perhaps, why a Montenegrin marriage is such a very doleful ceremony. I was at one at Cettinje at which the bride sobbed aloud, the whole time, as if every friend she had ever had was just dead, and her heart was broken.
Although there was such profound peace at Podgoritza, when I was there, that even the Governor had nothing more serious to worry about than the inability of women-folk to cook, none the less there, as everywhere in Montenegro, war was being prepared for silently, ceaselessly, and with infinite care. Even then, not only men but schoolboys were robbing themselves of sleep, that they might have the time in which to furbish up their arms, and fit themselves
to fight skilfully for their country. Whenever they had a spare moment they betook themselves to the mountains to drill, thrilled with solemn joy at the thought of the great war which must, as they all believed, soon come. 'We cannot remain cooped up here, as we are,' almost every Montenegrin I came across declared. 'We must have more provinces or we shall starve. And more provinces were not to be had without war. I found a monastery I chanced to visit packed with soldiers, and every monk there ready to transform himself into a soldier the day the great war began. The great war that was being prepared for, was, however, against the Austrians, not the Turks, against the hated Schwabs. The Balkans belong to the Balkaners, what right have the Schwabs to be here ?' This was the cry I heard on every side. Even at Podgoritza, when an Austrian appeared in the allée, angry glances were exchanged. · Austria is the enemy now: we have nothing to fear from Turkey,' I was told, again and again. Yet curiously enough, at that very time, a Turkish force 5000 strong was stationed just across the frontier, some four or five miles beyond Podgoritza ; and, when sailing on the Scutari Lake, I could hear shots being fired on the mountains, Turks killing Montenegrins, Montenegrins killing Turks.
I went over to the Turkish encampment, one day, to pay a visit to the daughters of the officer in command there. And a miserable place it was, a startling contrast in every way to peaceful, thriving Podgoritza. Many of the soldiers were in rags, and not a few of them looked half-starved, while they all seemed to be more or less angry. Evidently something or other had occurred to ruffle their tempers ; for they were standing about in little groups talking in undertones, growling, grumbling, and exchanging fierce glances the while. There was not a touch among them of that calm silent dignity which, as a rule, marks even the pariah Turk and renders him impressive. The commandant himself was worried and anxious, that was easy to see ; and, although he assured me that I was very welcome, I knew by the look in his eyes that I was not that, if he could but have bade me drive straight across the frontier again, he would have offered up to Allah hearty thanks. That was impossible, however : as I was there, there by invitation, too, there I must stay for hours ; so etiquette ordained. He therefore conducted me, with all possible speed, to his private dwelling, and left me there.
This dwelling, which outside was hardly better than a wooden shanty, was inside quite charming. The room into which I was led was glowing with gorgeous colours. The walls were draped with silk, purple and rose of every shade, with a glimmer of gold to blend them. The couches, too, were covered with silk, and so were the windows ; while on the floor were rugs so soft and thick that they deadened the sound of every tread. And the two Turkish girls who lived there were as charming as their room. They were both quite young, the elder being seventeen, perhaps, at most; and they were both very beautiful, very much alike, too, excepting that, whereas the hair of the one was quite black, that of the other was goldenbrown. They were fairly tall, slender and very graceful; they had exquisitely cut features, delicate complexions, and quite glorious eyes, eyes at which no prudent father would ever willingly allow his son even to glance, unless he wished him to marry a Turk.
That my hostesses were glad to see me there could be no doubt. Why, they simply beamed with delight when I appeared. Little wonder either; for I was, it seemed, the first visitor they had had for months; the first foreigner they had seen for more than a year. And they loved visitors, and cherished a special tendresse for foreigners.
These girls were much better educated than most Turkish girls, I soon found. Learning the whole duty of woman had not been made the be-all and end-all of their studies ; for they could speak French, they knew a little English, they could paint and sing. Nor was that all. Their father had evidently none of the horror
. most Turkish fathers feel at the thought of allowing their daughters to use their brains ; for they were much more alert mentally than any of the other Turkish ladies whom I had met. They were the veriest Athenians, indeed, in their love of the new, their craving to know what was going on in the great world that seemed to be so far beyond their ken. And with the alertness of the Athenian they combined, curiously enough, the heedlessness of the Undine. Never did I come across girls who chattered and talked as they did ; who spoke so simply and naturally of all they thought and felt, or who were so lovingly trustful, or 80-irresponsible.
They were living in this encampment completely cut off from everyone, with not a creature excepting servants to speak to. For
, their mother was dead ; and their father, who seemed to have no other wives, was too busy to have much time to give to them. And to make matters worse, they had nothing to do the whole day long; for needlework bored them; and although they loved reading, the books they had to read were few.