THE START, AND ROVIGNO OUR FIRST PORT
ONE night last winter as John and I were walking home, he suddenly remarked:
"When we were told that the next lecture would be on Dalmatia, did you hear that lady behind you say, 'Dalmatia? Where is it? I never heard of it.'"
"Yes. There are plenty of women like that!" I remarked emphatically, and with perfect truth. For I was trying my very best to remember where on earth it was – and most unsuccessfully.
"We will hear the lecture, and if we think we would enjoy Dalmatia we will go there this summer, on our wedding tour," John said decisively. And so it happened that our trip down the eastern shore of the Adriatic was hit upon. But, maybe I should explain at once that while it was "a wedding tour," this happened to be our ninth – for we take one every year.
On a starry July night, but one of the darkest I ever remember, we left our hotel in Venice to take the Trieste steamer which lies unnoticed just off the Piazzetta – a modest connecting link in the golden chain which joins Venice, the famous pearl of the Adriatic, with the almost unknown chaplet of smaller gems which extend down the coast in a long, waving line from Trieste to Cattaro.
The Piazza was aglow with lights, and the band still playing, as we turned our backs on Venice with a sigh of regret.
Knowing that our boat, the Metcovitch, did not sail till midnight, we hired our gondola al ora, as usual; for every moment was precious and we wanted to spend our last hours on the Grand Canal listening to the music. But Ludovico, formerly a most obliging gondolier, on seeing our suitcases realized that we were about to take our departure, and was no longer anxious to please us.
On previous occasions our meager Italian vocabulary had been perfectly comprehensible, but now, not a word could he be made to understand. When we reached the group of swaying gondolas, their tiny, twinkling lamps looking like a band of fireflies clustered round the bright lanterns of the music barge, Ludovico shot his boat right past, in spite of all our protestations.
John – the most patient of men, as well as the best of traveling companions – explained over and over again, in his very best Italian, that we wished to remain for a while listening to the music. He reminded the boatman that we had hired him "by the hour," but all in vain. The obstinate fellow only rowed us the more quickly into the darkness, and, willy-nilly, we soon found ourselves at the steamer. There was nothing to do, therefore, but to tell the stubborn fellow what we thought of him – and to try to make the best of our discomfiture.
GENERAL VIEW, CATHEDRAL OF ST. EUFEMIA, TOWERING ABOVE THE CITY
We could not understand what had changed Ludovico, but were soon to know.
When we came up to the side of the Metcovitch, which towered above us in the darkness, the water was so rough and the night so black, Ludovico had hard work to catch and hold the rope of the gangway steps. More than once it was torn from his hands and the gondola in danger of upsetting. We didn't care for a bath, but the man had become so obstinate and disagreeable we wouldn't have minded a particle if he had gotten a good ducking, as appeared for a while highly probable.
When the time came to pay him, his demands seemed quite exorbitant. We let him bluster until we had ascertained that he could ask the amount he claimed, on account of the suitcases. Now we could readily understand the gondolier's conduct. He knew he could demand as much for taking us and our baggage to the steamer as he could earn "by the hour," so he was determined to get rid of us as quickly as possible.
Notwithstanding the man's behavior, he had the insolence to ask for a tip, but John refused him a single soldo. So, Ludovico made nothing by his impudence; for we had planned to give him a generous gratuity as a parting gift.
Feeling highly incensed at being cheated out of our last delightful hour on the Grand Canal, and still discussing Ludovico and his bluster, we suddenly became conscious of a noisy war of words.
Leaning far over the rail we peered below into the darkness, and saw that another gondola, full of passengers and their baggage, had tied up to the gangway. From the volume of sound we judged that the gentlemen of the party all possest a fluent command of Italian. Above the pounding of the waves rose their imprecations, mingled with the shouts of the gondoliers and the angry protestations of the entire party, all talking at once. It was our own experience repeated, but with the added vigor of fluent abuse, and the rapid exchange of heated compliments usual between Italians in a wordy war.
It was not only interesting but exciting. Every moment we thought certainly some one would be knocked off the swaying steps, which were as steep and narrow as a Holland staircase, and which lurched horribly. But an officer of the Metcovitch, hearing the din, appeared upon the scene and acted the part of peacemaker – much to my disappointment. With a few last protests the boatmen took the fare tendered them. Just as they let go the rope their boat was almost swamped by a huge swell, and the very next moment it required all their skill to get out of the way of two heavily laden gondolas which suddenly loomed up out of the darkness.
Much to our amusement, the occupants of both these boats in turn had a repetition of the dispute with their gondoliers.
Like two children, we leaned over the deck-rail listening with all our ears to the heated controversy, hugely enjoying the commotion. In our joy at each new combatant who entered the battle of tongues, we both completely forgot our own recently ruffled feelings.
But at last peace was restored. The night air was almost chill and the breeze fresh. Out of the blackness of the night over the water was borne to us, by the wind, the exquisite melody of Schubert's "Serenade," sung by a fine baritone voice. Santa Lucia, Jammo, Ciribiribin, and other old, old favorites followed one another; songs we had heard here eight years ago, but songs which, to the Venetians at least, seem never to grow stale.
As we looked toward the distant shore to say good-by, the red lamps which had shone out from the arches high up on the campanile were suddenly extinguished. The next moment the glow of the electric lights in the Piazza below faded away; others followed, until all were gone, and the city was blotted out by the night.
The singers on the music barge had sung "A Tripoli," their popular new cavatina, for their last song. We caught the dim outline of their boat being rowed toward the shore, as the swaying lanterns were snuffed out, one by one, by unseen hands. There was a rattle of chains, and the sudden commotion on board consequent upon getting under way. Almost before we realized it, the Metcovitch was in motion; the silhouette of the Doge's Palace, and even the dark outline of the tall campanile were gone – all Venice had vanished, swallowed up in the darkness.
Our good ship soon left the dim contour of the sandy banks of the Lido behind her, and began breasting the waves of the Adriatic.
The only memory I have of the Metcovitch is of a comfortable cabin and a good night's rest. There were quite a number of passengers on board who had taken no berth, we discovered. When we saw the group who had settled themselves for the night just outside our cabin door, I confess I feared we would be kept awake by their chatter. But either they were less talkative than members of the Latin race usually are, or I slept more soundly than usual, for I knew nothing until we docked at Trieste in the morning.
On account of head winds the steamer got in a little late. So we found we had no more time than we required to go to the Austrian Lloyd Palace, present our order for tickets, have them made out. and get ourselves and our baggage over to the Brioni's dock.
Right here, it may be as well to relate the history of a box we had with us. It was only a small box, but it occasioned us an amount of expense and trouble out of all proportion to its size.
Some years ago, when last in Venice, I had seen a charming little mirror I wanted, but failed to get. Nothing daunted, however, by my past defeat, on seeing again the carved-wood dragon holding up alluringly the mirror, I determined to have it. I saw at a glance that it was several sizes larger than the one I had originally desired; but, I was larger, too, and my ideas also had increased proportionately in the years which had elapsed since I first coveted it. So I wisely made no comment. Men always claim that we women talk too much, and I believe it.
John said he didn't intend to buy it. He protested it was too expensive and would be a bother to get home; but all the while, of course, he knew perfectly well he was going to get it for me – as he ultimately did.
When my precious dragon arrived at our hotel it had been neatly "boxed, ready for shipment," as we had ordered. But my companion, having a frugal mind, thought it a pity to lose so much space. So he carefully pried off the top boards, and removed every particle of excelsior he dared from around the mirror, and proceeded to stuff the space with mosaics, postcards, and everything he could lay his hands on.
I protested in vain. Not a single article escaped being added to the collection tightly wedged around the dismembered dragon and glass, until the poor little box was filled to overflowing. It was with the greatest difficulty he could nail back the lid, using my new Rigi-Culm hair-brush as a hammer.
Every time my eye caught sight of that box with its bulging sides, I thought of all it contained, and of my desecrated hair-brush. I knew it would burst open in transit, and told John so. He, after having run a splinter in his foot, early one morning, and having had the box fall on his toes, late that night, resolved to ship it home without further delay. He said he was "tired of seeing it sitting 'round."
Cording it up with stout twine to keep it from breaking open, as he frankly admitted, he carried the box away to send off by express. I breathed a sigh of relief to see it go. I hated the sight of it; for every time I wanted to buy anything, I was reminded of what the mirror had cost, and was given a dissertation on extravagance.
However, before I had gotten over my satisfaction at seeing the last of it, back John came – bringing the box with him. At the express office he had learned that nothing could be sent out of Italy without a permit – a law, new to us, which had been passed to prevent wealthy tourists, of the J. P. Morgan type, from buying up anticos and shipping them out of the country.
John, in desperation, had explained, in vain, that the box contained only one small mirror, some postcards, and inexpensive souvenirs. The fact remained that it could not be sent without a permit from the authorities. As it was then Saturday afternoon, and no permit could be obtained until Monday morning, at earliest, there was nothing to do but to carry it with us, for we sailed at midnight Sunday. We determined to get rid of it at Trieste, our first Austrian port.
From first to last fate seemed against that wretched little box! We could not send it from Venice, and getting into dock behind time we had no opportunity to ship it from Trieste. Not daring to trust it to the tender mercies of the Dienstmann, John had to carry it himself. It bumped into him constantly; a protruding nail tore a jagged rent in his trousers; if I came near him a corner jabbed me viciously; and at every step it grew heavier, and harder to carry. We both were sincerely thankful when it was deposited, at last, on the floor of our cabin on the Brioni – altho we found out at once we would have to climb over it every time we opened the door.
"We'll get rid of it at the first place we can ship it home!" John emphatically declared every time he encountered it. He longed to kick it out of the way, I know, but he didn't dare, for that box looked ready, at the slightest excuse, to go to pieces, and would have been only too willing to scatter its contents all over the cabin. We both loathed the sight of it, but were forced to treat it civilly for fear of consequences.
The morning we sailed from Trieste was perfect. Whether the Adriatic is always so benign, I can not say, but the sea was as calm as a river. And from first to last, in all our weeks of voyaging, the skies above us were the bluest of the blue, and the water as unruffled and tranquil as an inland lake. Not a drop of rain, nor a dark cloud, marred the beauty of our trip down the whole length of the Adriatic from Trieste to the Island of Corfu. The sea was so calm, and there was so little motion, not a soul was seasick or even imagined it.
In the late fall, winter, and early spring, it is said, there are often tempestuous seas. The Dalmatian coast, with its innumerable rocks and multitude of scattered islands, necessitates the most careful navigation. But in the summer, judging from our experience, the sea voyage is delightful.
There is a striking resemblance between all of the Adriatic steamers, we discovered. Wishing to stop over at many places much longer than the boats remained, we simply stayed as long as we pleased, and left on whatever steamer happened to be most convenient. On our Adriatic trip, which extended down to Corfu – which is really on the Ionian Sea, or Strait of Otranto rather than the Adriatic – we took in all six steamers, and we found them, without exception, quite satisfactory. Only the most unreasonable traveler could find fault with the accommodations afforded, and the ménus provided at each course of the three meals a day were uniformly excellent. The rich red wine, called "Apollo," which we enjoyed with our dinner, was grown on the Dalmatian shores. We were told that it has been sold all over Europe labelled "Bordeaux," ever since the French vineyards failed to yield the necessary supply. It was certainly not only delicious, but reasonable as well. A litre bottle only cost us the equivalent of twelve cents in our money.
We found that we were the only Americans on board, and soon discovered that none of our fellow passengers could speak more than a few words of English.
One young fellow, whom we had noticed diligently studying his Baedeker, we surmised at once was the regulation German tourist, for his sturdy legs were encased in brown woolen stockings, with gorgeous red and yellow plaid tops; his shoes were of the mountain-climber's variety; and upon his head he wore a green felt Alpine hat. Before the gangplank was laid, he jumped ashore and dashed away toward the heights of the town of Rovigno, the first Adriatic port.
Like many other Dalmatian towns, Rovigno is principally built upon the hills, on account of the prevalence of malaria during the fall and early spring along the lowlands. It is what is known throughout Italy, and in Dalmatia as well, as a "hill town." And that it was a hill town I, myself, could positively assert, as soon as I endeavored to visit it.
Besides the remnants of its ancient walls, Rovigno boasts, near the fish market, the remains of an old Roman arch. Above it still stands on guard the Lion of St. Mark with his book, on which can be read the ancient inscription: "Victoria tibi Marce Evangelista meus." But alas, the old Venice has passed away! To-day only a few crumbling walls – the remnants of once splendid gateways – and the pathetic figure of the once victorious, all-powerful lion, alone remain in Dalmatia, dim and defaced reminders of Venice, and the glories of her vanished empire.
There is an old tower left of what was once the city wall. We were informed that it has been in its present ruinous condition for more than four hundred years, which certainly speaks well for its ability to resist time and the elements.
There are many things of interest in Rovigno, but the little Renaissance church with its graceful campanile, on the summit of the mountain above the town, easily ranks first. At a glance it is seen that the tower with its golden angel is almost an exact copy of the campanile in Venice; only this angel is Saint Eufemia, the little town's patron saint.
In the church, to the right of the altar, is a small chapel, in which stands her tomb, a huge marble sarcophagus. The carvings on it are crude, and show that they have never been completed. It has a pointed top, and on each of the four corners are blocks crudely rounded, looking as if they still awaited the long-departed sculptor's finishing touch.
But much more interesting than the church and the tomb is the history of the famous lady whose marvelous experiences are plainly depicted upon the walls of the chapel.
It seems that one stormy night two pious fishermen, having lost both sail and oars, called upon heaven for aid, when about to be engulfed by the waves. Praying fervently on their knees, on opening their eyes they discovered that their boat had reached in safety a small cove or inlet on the shore near Rovigno. The storm had passed, and before their astonished eyes they saw a beautiful white light shining above a dark object which floated in the water. As they looked, the object sank from sight, but the light continued to hover over the spot where it had disappeared. Full of awe, the fishermen made haste to run to the town and tell their wonderful story. For several days many willing hands endeavored to assist them in raising the object, which was discovered to be a great stone. But all efforts were quite without avail. It was so heavy it could not be raised an inch.
In Rovigno, at the time, dwelt a pious widow. She grieved much to think that the gift so miraculously sent from heaven must be lost to the town. One night she had a vivid dream. In the morning she called her little son and bade him hitch up the oxen and drive them down the mountain, telling him to fasten the beasts to the great stone. The child obeyed. Instantly, the oxen easily lifted the sarcophagus and ran quickly with it up the mountain; never stopping until they reached the very top.
A wicked man, who had scoffed openly at the tale of the fishermen, happened to be standing close by the roadside as the sacred relic passed and at the marvelous sight he fell like one dead, and remained long unconscious. On recovering his senses he humbly related a vision he had had. He told, with solemn awe, how Saint Eufemia herself had appeared to him, and informed him that her bones and the history of her martyrdom would be found in the sarcophagus. An immediate examination of the tomb was made, and the man's assertion proved to be true.
From that day to this the place has been known as the "Hill of St. Eufemia," and she revered as the Rovignian patron saint. Should any skeptical person still doubt the authenticity of the miraculous happenings, the incontrovertible proof is close at hand. For in the little cove, where the tomb of the saint originally rested, is a square, stone shaft which marks the exact spot; as the ancient inscription on a plate attached to the stone duly records.
Indeed, so precious were the sacred relics that the Genoese came from over the sea and stole them. The Venetians took them from the marauders, but, instead of returning the tomb to its rightful owners, placed it in their own little church of San Casciano, where the bones of the good lady peacefully rested for many years. Finally, however, the Venetians, early in the fourteenth century, seemed to have experienced a change of heart, for they decided to return to Rovigno the stolen relics. Again a terrible storm arose; the wind and waves dashed the ship into the midst of a number of fishing-boats which had sought shelter from the storm in the harbor. We are told that: "Instantly the cattle leaped over into the sea, and the waves became calm, as the animals paid reverence to the saint by dancing on the water round the ship."
The weird story, from first to last, is firmly believed by the good people of Rovigno. They can afford to treat with contempt the incredulity of those who may scoff, for the town has in its archives an ancient manuscript, in which every detail of the history of St. Eufemia is duly set forth, in black and white, as they well know.
All Dalmatia is full of just such delightfully improbable legends, as is Venice, and, in fact, all Italy, as well – legends, which are plainly ancient fairytales, but which are most implicitly believed to be fact by the majority of the country folk. Tales of miraculous happenings, so naïve, so preposterous, they charm us with their ingenuousness. Their medieval flavor is delicious in this prosaic, practical twentieth century. One must know these ancient legends and revel in them, to really know and fully enjoy Dalmatia.
The marvelous history of the good saint of Rovigno fascinated and delighted me; adding greatly to my pleasure – just as the faint perfume of dried lavender enhances the charm of rare old lace yellowing with age. Not for the world would I have doubted a single word. Taking a flower, which I had worn at my breast, I solemnly and reverently laid it on the tomb – a pure white rose, which had bloomed but yesterday in an old Venetian garden.
We were assured most earnestly that the ancient Rovigno had extended across the bay to Point Barbarica where the lighthouse stands; and were told that on fair days one might see the roofs and spires of the tall buildings quite plainly beneath the water. But, unfortunately, a lack of time prevented us from authenticating the fact upon the spot.
We should have been glad to linger in the old graveyard, just below the church, from which the view is magnificent, but three long blasts from the steamer warned us not to tarry. So, regretfully we made our way back through the narrow little streets, crowded in between the fishermen's cottages, and down the crazy, zigzag steps. Through a sudden vista we caught sight of the sturdy young man with the gorgeous hose – whom we had nicknamed "Gambe" (Legs), springing along the shore far below. He had the same springy gait, and looked as fresh as the daisies he had stuck jauntily in his alpine hat. We learned later that he had "seen the town, and had had plenty of time to spare," as he himself exprest it.
We were warm and tired, and out of breath from our exertions. We had to admit to ourselves that, altho we had worked hard, we had seen but a small part of the sights. But, as I looked back over the bay, my eyes rested on the slender campanile which rose above the little houses clustered on the hill, and on the golden angel, standing on the summit, with her outstretched wings glittering in the sun. And I smiled as I watched her – until she passed from my sight.
"The way up was a little hard, and the steps were narrow and dirty; but you liked Rovigno, didn't you?" John asked, having seen my smile.
I thought of the little church of St. Eufemia, and the rose.
"It was perfect!" I answered softly, with a sigh of supreme content.
POLA, THE QUARNERO, AND THE TWO LUSSINS
"GOOD health, good company, and good weather," some one has truly said, "are necessary ingredients to insure the success of a journey." Fortunately, we enjoyed all three from the moment of starting from Venice until we arrived at our journey's end.
Of all the pleasure afforded by the voyage down the Adriatic the greatest we found to be the meeting with so many charming people of different nationalities. In America we are all Americans, by birth or naturalization, and our cities, from Maine to Florida, and from the Atlantic to the Pacific, are all more or less alike. Our cities may be large or small – great metropolises of vast wealth and population, or small country towns with little of either – but all are distinctly American; with the same sort of architecture, same language, same people, and the same strongly marked national characteristics.
Consequently the amusing novelty of finding ourselves among a group of foreigners speaking a number of different tongues, and in appearance, dress, and temperament quite unlike our own people, we found particularly entertaining.
My diary, dated "July 8 – On the Brioni," says:
"Day perfect! Have nice cabin, shore side; table excellent – light 'English breakfast,' 'five-course dinner,' good supper. Captain and officers very agreeable. Boat full of people, from everywhere, speaking everything – but English. Lots of fun trying to talk. Our French and German very poor – no worse than their English. J— really begins to speak Italian – when he has to say something. Everybody helps out with a word – Austrian, Slav, Italian, or whatever their language happens to be. Hugely enjoy ourselves at table. Pretend to understand what's said to us whether we do or not. At dinner Captain asked: 'Why come you to Dalmatia?' Tried in vain to tell about the lecture. 'Who is he – this Lychtur?' No one could tell him. Word went all round table – heads shaken dolefully. 'Lecture – illustrated lecture,' I explained carefully. 'Illustré, pittora, image, rappresentare.' Faces still troubled. 'Kinematograph,' I added – having inspiration. Result instantaneous. 'Cinéma!' shouted the captain. 'Ya, ya, Cinéma!' echoed the first officer exultantly. 'Si, si!' 'Oui, oui!' 'Jah, jah!' ran down the table like fire-crackers in barrel. Joy reigned, all laughed, faces glowed. Captain in glee patted my hand. 'Cinéma! Cinéma!' he cried triumphantly; now beaming with happiness to have the key to what I had tried to say.
"Everyone smiled at me and nodded approvingly. Even handsome old Austrian field-marshal and prim little spouse (sit opposite us, captain's right – we on left). From Vienna, haven't heard name. Call them 'Robin and Jenny.' He wears light blue coat – two rows gold buttons, high collar and cuffs, gold braid; five gorgeous be-ribboned decorations on breast. Trousers pearl gray, skin tight. He's about fifty-five, fine physique, iron-gray hair, imperial, long mustache. Pleasant, courteous. Named him all right! He's 'a bird!' Fine one, too. Hear he thought John French (evidently he doesn't know language, or hasn't heard J. try to speak it!)."
Before we imagined it time for the next port, we were making our way between Cape Compare and Monte Grosso, and the splendid harbor of Pola was in sight. The entrance to the harbor is strongly fortified by modern round-towers, and being situated at the bottom of a miniature bay, almost land-locked by a number of small green islands, and boasting sufficient space and depth to accommodate the largest ships, the basin affords ideal security. The approach is through the narrow and winding Porto delle Rose channel, which can be easily protected by torpedoes in time of war. Extensive fortifications, detached forts and innumerable batteries, erected upon the heights, make Pola almost invulnerable, and have caused her to be known as "the Austrian Sebastopol."
The arsenal is a modern building, and the docks, as well, have not long been completed. It was interesting to us to learn that the latter are the work of an American engineer, named Gilbert. They have an ingenious contrivance by which vessels are raised into the slips by hydraulic machinery.
Looking at Pola, to-day, with her modern fortifications, big arsenal, and spacious docks, her pretty public park, and fine museum, one might forget her ancient glory, were it not for the magnificent remains of a wonderful amphitheater. Sir Humphry Davy, writing of it many years ago, said:
"We entered the harbor in a felucca as the sun was setting. I know of no scene more splendid than the amphitheater seen from the sea in this light. It appears not as a building in ruins, but like a newly erected work; and the reflection of the colors of its brilliant marbles and beautiful form seen upon the calm surface of the waters gave to it a double effect – that of a glorious production of art, and a magnificent picture."
It was built in the last years of the first century, and in the first years of the second, in honor of the Emperor Septimus Severus, and of his son Caracalla. We all recall Caracalla – from the well-remembered story of him in our school history, telling how he got his name from the hooded cloak he wore. He afterward played the part of Cain, and slew his brother, Geta, who was joint-emperor with him, that he might reign alone, I remember.
Even to-day Pola's ancient amphitheater is a magnificent example of Roman architecture. Its majestic exterior is remarkably well preserved; but, unfortunately, the interior is stript and bare. All the tiers of seats have disappeared, and the central space forming the arena is grass-grown and full of brambles, with an accumulation of débris due to centuries of neglect.
It is built on the side of a hill. One side is three stories high, but the hill side is shorter. It has seventy-two arches, and, except in size, is similar to the Colosseum at Rome, of which it at once reminds you.
Quite a party from the steamer climbed the hill together to see the amphitheater, and once again Gambe, unconsciously, acted as guide. He alone of us all knew the history of the hippodrome, and of everything else worth seeing in Pola. Our only regret was that he didn't speak more than a few words of English, for we had much trouble to understand his German, which he spoke very rapidly.
Nothing could be finer than the view of the harbor and the tranquil blue sea beyond, which we caught through the ancient arches of Istrian stone. Below the amphitheater is a kind of park, with thrifty looking boxwood shrubs, a few palm trees, and a single tall and slender cypress. In a paved circle in the center stands a modern bronze statue of the "Impératrice Élisabeth" on a white marble pedestal. I wished that the city fathers had chosen another spot for their effigy of the lady whose memory they desired to honor, for the monument is decidedly incongruous where it is; being out of keeping in its newness and unimportance with the immense antiquity and grandeur of its near neighbor.
Dante mentions Pola as being near the Quarnero, which is a gulf about ten miles down the shore – "Sicome a Pola, presso del Quarnero." But the ancient city goes back to the Colchians; and is supposed to have been founded by them when they were in the pursuit of Jason, who had stolen the golden fleece! Certainly an ancient enough pedigree to satisfy any one. It is known that it was destroyed by Cæsar, because it sided with Pompey against him. It was built again by the Emperor Augustus, it is said, at the request of his daughter Julia, for whom it was named "Pietas Julia."
In the ancient city in those days, apparently, stout people were no more fashionable than they are to-day. Either there were no fat men and plump ladies, or they did not attend the popular entertainments given in the amphitheater. Marble slabs which once formed the tiers of seats have been unearthed, and lines of division upon them show that the exact space allotted to each person was fourteen and one-half inches! Some patrons of the hippodrome, too, must have had season tickets; for the seats reserved for their use still show the initials of their long-forgotten names carved upon the stone. Great names, no doubt, in those long-vanished years – when the amphitheater was new and the power of Rome supreme.
INTERIOR OF THE AMPHITHEATER
There were seats for eighteen thousand spectators and standing-room for several thousand more. Two towers toward the sea, and two toward the hill are supposed to have contained stairways by which to reach the upper stories. Mr. T. G. Jackson, the architect (an authority on antiquities and famous for his splendid work on Dalmatia), believes they were too small to have been used by the audience. He suggests that they "may have served for the attendants who had the management of the awning," and adds that "the sockets and channels for the masts of the 'velum' (or awning) are perfectly preserved," just below the stone balustrade around the top of the wall.
Having duly admired the amphitheater, Gambe proposed that we all should go to see the Arch of the Sergii, which, he explained, was "south of the market-place." As none of us had the slightest notion where that might be, we followed closely at his heels.
Going down a steep street he triumphantly pointed out the landmark, which we never would have recognized, and going up a cross-street the site of the vanished Porta Aurea, and the arch itself were duly discovered. No doubt, the triumphal arch was once imposing, but what imprest me most was the fact that it was erected by a woman – Salvia Postuma by name. There is an inscription which says: "Salvia Postvma sergi de sva Pecvnia."
Salvia had it built to honor her husband, Lucius Sergius, and his father, Lucius Sergius, Sr., and still another Sergius, Cnæus Sergius, her husband's uncle, after their return from a victorious campaign. Beneath the arch we saw where the ancient pavement had been uncovered. Ruts worn in the stones by chariot wheels are plainly visible, as in the streets of Pompeii.
Far more interesting than the memorial is the glimpse we get of the character of Salvia herself. Her frugality and practical economy are made evident. Discovering that only a portion of the "coupled Corinthian columns" of her arch would show (owing to the close proximity of one of the city gates), she determined to waste no money on carvings which would not be seen. Consequently the flutings on the pillars go only a third of the way round. The capitals, and attic moldings, as well, are left rough, except where exposed to view. But, if Salvia saved an honest penny where she could, she made up for it by lavish decorations elsewhere. Festoons and ornaments, chariot races and victorious warriors abound. Three pedestals still remain upon which, no doubt, once stood statues of the trio of heroes.
More recent explorations have disclosed still another gateway, the Porta Gemina. It has two well-preserved arches, but they are spoiled artistically by being incongruously closed with iron gates. Not far away is an arch which was discovered built into the city wall. It is believed to have been dedicated to Hercules, as a large head and the fragments of a huge club have been found. John, however, wickedly suggested that maybe it wasn't Hercules at all, for "there were others" who not only had a big head, but "a big stick." Naturally, no one in the party except me appreciated so distinctly an American joke.
As it was very warm in the sun, we decided to go back to our shady deck-chairs on the Brioni, after paying a visit to the famous Temple of Augustus in the center of the town. Unfortunately, the effect of the temple, with its lovely Corinthian columns, is marred by being hemmed in by the modern buildings, which completely surround it. This shrine was erected during the Emperor's life by his Illyrian admirers. It is related that Augustus modestly refused to permit the dedication, unless the word "Rome" was added. The interior, unfortunately, is filled to overflowing with a conglomeration of sculptures of all kinds, huddled together promiscuously for lack of space; which prevents them being properly studied, or even appreciated.
My one regret was that photographing was forbidden at Pola, on account of the numerous forts. I dared not even point my camera at the splendid old amphitheater much as I wanted to take a view of my own. On the Brioni – and on the other boats as well – a lengthy notice was posted on walls and doors, sternly warning passengers, in seven languages, that "The taking of photographs of the shore where there are fortifications is strictly prohibited!" As there was no portion of the shore worth photographing which did not contain a fortification of some kind, either ancient or modern, the field for the camera was decidedly limited. But, sometimes, I confess, I just couldn't see the fort in time; and at others I quite forgot that lengthy notice until after I had secured the coveted view. But one day I had an experience I did not soon forget.
TEMPLE OF AUGUSTUS
One morning, seeing a chance for a fine "snapshot," I determined to get it, in spite of the absurd little dinky fort I saw perched on the top of the hill. As an American I cared nothing about the interminable "Balkan question." In fact we had frankly assured one of the officers that, so far as our country was concerned, we had now all the foreign possessions we desired – and more, too! Consequently, the United States was utterly indifferent to the outcome of the European imbroglio; she cared nothing, nor did her citizens, whether there was one gun or a hundred in the Austrian fortresses along the Dalmatian shore. Desiring to take my view – but not wanting to get into any trouble – I glanced around, to make sure that "the coast was clear." The field-marshal and John were having a smoke, and our good friends, the jovial captain and his two agreeable officers, were, fortunately, not one of them on deck. So hastily slipping down to our cabin I got the camera, hastened back, and took the picture just as quickly as I could.
The next moment I felt a tap upon my shoulder. I know I started as guiltily as any nihilist who had been caught in the act. Turning, I looked into the serious face of our fat, and usually jolly purser. He could speak no English, so he said not a word. But he very politely called my attention to the notice prominently posted upon the door behind me, pointing his fat finger unerringly to the paragraphs in English which he knew I could read, if he couldn't.
"Why! was this part of the shore forbidden to photograph?" I inquired with pretended surprize. But when I looked into his somber eyes, usually brimming with fun, I realized that the man was an Austrian and a patriot. I was ashamed of my attempt at dissimulation, and took no more pictures without getting permission. But if we could take few snap-shots we could buy postcards almost everywhere, altho, naturally, no fortifications were shown unless they were very far away, or of the class known as anticos.
Lussin-piccolo, a charming little place, was our next stop. The island of Lussin is connected with the near-by island of Cherso by a turning bridge which crosses the channel. Nothing could be more picturesque than the view of the pretty harbor as we came up the bay. Of all Dalmatian ports, Lussin-piccolo has the most modern and thrifty air, with her neat and tidy-looking little white houses with their bright, red-tiled roofs, clustered snugly together along the marina at the foot of the hill.
Here is the home of many Jack Tars and hardy fishermen. When they are in port their boats ride at anchor only a few feet away from their front doors. So when Jack's voyage is over and he is safe at home, the song of the sea is still in his ears; for within his cottage he can ever hear the murmur of the bay as it caressingly rocks the fleet of little craft cradled in its arms. No music in all the world is as sweet to a man of Lussin-piccolo.
Dalmatians in large numbers are found in the world's merchant service. Rome, as far back as the days of Augustus, manned her fleets with hardy sailormen from the shores of the Adriatic. To-day, Dalmatians, officers and men, constitute the very flower of Austria's imperial navy.
Our captain informed us that Lussin-piccolo was his birthplace, and from him we learned of the old house, the "Antike Hauser im innern der Stadt," as he exprest it. We found several places with that general air of dilapidation which goes with the word antike, or antico as they say in Italy. One, we noticed, had a delightfully picturesque old wall, and tumbledown stair which was swarming with unkempt youngsters; but whether this was the one he referred to or not, we do not know.
As we took a view of the steps, we noticed an old woman and little girl who were watching us. Both were bare-legged. We were highly amused to see how the old creature clutched the frowsy child as if she feared we might be kidnappers. The woman wore a once white kerchief on her grizzled head, and on the child's uncombed locks we were surprized to see a spick-and-span looking American sailor-hat. On the black ribbon band, as she passed us, we read in gilt letters an inch high, the word Indiana. I immediately turned and presented the small Dalmatian with a bright new coin of the realm – but not for her neatness or beauty, but for the name, the dear American name, upon her hat.
The thrifty little town of Lussin-piccolo stands at the end of a gulf of considerable depth, separated by high ridges of land from the two seas, to the east and west of the island. The town faces the open Adriatic and is at the very extremity of the ancient gulf, the Quarnero, which is referred to by Dante in alluding to Pola.
"No part of the Adriatic has such ill fame among sailors," Jackson says, "as this gulf of Quarnero, or Carnia, as it is often called." It is hemmed in by the lofty mountains and broken up into a network of intricate channels and rugged islands, some of which have "crests which rival in height those of the mainland, and it is vexed by sudden squalls and cross currents of wind that render navigation extremely dangerous." The natives declare that the wind blows in the gulf from different points of the compass at the same time, and that it changes and shifts as many as ten times in a day. This Quarnero is, in fact, the very birthplace of the dreaded "Bora" – the northeast wind which sweeps down in terrific gusts from the head of the gulf, carrying all before it. It is born in the mountains around Fiume, and during the fall and winter, particularly, the Bora becomes a terrible gale, which creates endless havoc and terror.
Having heard so much of the dreaded Bora, and of how it once, in the year 1873, not only blew over carts and carried away buildings, but wrecked a train on one of the curves of the mountain railway above Fiume, we were prepared to encounter a small cyclone, at least, when we reached Lussin-piccolo. But, evidently, the Bora was away from home, for certain it is that we encountered only the balmiest of zephyrs in the Quarnero. In fact, the only real blow we experienced was just before we reached Corfu – and that was too far away from the real haunts of the Bora to make "the dread demon of the Adriatic" responsible.
Across the long, slender isthmus from the little Lussin is Lussin-grande, but the former has now outstript its once grander neighbor. Owing to its larger and better harbor it has robbed its rival of most of her former prosperity, and in population and importance Lussin-piccolo should be the one now known as Lussin-grande.
Cigale is a charming little neighbor of the two Lussins, and is well worth visiting for the sake of its lovely old olive trees, and the walk along the shore, which has charming vistas of the sea between the firs. The picturesque fishing-boats, with their sharply pointed lateen sails silhouetted against the deep blue sky, make a picture to delight an artist, while the dark boughs of the spreading firs, the brown rocks, and clumps of pale green cacti, form a most harmonious foreground.
A most pleasant drive, if one can afford the time, can be taken from Lussin-piccolo, along the good road which follows the shore and climbs the ridge separating one Lussin from the other. Lussin-grande boasts a number of charming walks beautified by rocky terraces. Its little park has comfortable benches placed under the trees, where idlers sit in the shade and enjoy a lovely view of the water. On every side is a profusion of blossoming aloes, date-palms, orange and lemon trees, and great clumps of enormous cacti, and a wealth of exquisite oleanders, of every tone, from pure white to rosy purple. A quaint little church has been built on the shore at exactly the proper spot to enhance by its picturesqueness the beauty of the surroundings.
Both Lussins are popular health resorts and have numerous good hotels. We were told that they are well patronized by wealthy Russians and Austrians, as winter residences. Well-sheltered harbors afford a climate so mild that the lemon and orange trees are said to thrive all the year round on the island without protection.
VIEW OF CITY AND HARBOR
On returning to the steamer we discovered that the Brioni had lost the larger portion of her passengers. Among the number who had deserted us was Gambe, our athletic guide, and our charming acquaintances, the field-marshal and his refined little Frau. He, himself, had informed us when he bade us adieu that they would leave the steamer at Lussin-piccolo, where he and his lady were to visit his mother. I can well picture the old lady's pride in having her handsome son, the gorgeous Austrian officer in full regalia, as her guest. His advent must, indeed, have caused a commotion in the little town.
We felt quite sad to see so many empty chairs in the dining saloon at the next meal. The captain and officers exerted themselves to try to enliven the deserted board, but in vain. Everything was changed. For the first time we were resigned to the fact that we, too, would soon say good-by to the Brioni.
SELVE, AND THE TREASURES OF ZARA
SOMEWHERE in Pola is a miniature "Star-spangled banner" in colored enamels, for I lost my flag-pin on the way back to the boat; or, at any rate, I discovered it was missing shortly afterward. My diary for that day concludes:
"Have lost my precious 'Old Glory' J— bought me in 'Frisco, years ago. I feel sick about it. He says 'not to fret – don't need it. America written all over you!' Glad of it – would hate to be mistaken for a Turk, or one of those horrible shrouded women of Mostar (who don't dare call their souls their own) we hope to see later. Gambe and Robin, and a lot of others, left us at Lussin-piccolo. Former had a good joke on us. Am worried to death! Can't remember what I've said, but know I talked to J— freely before him because knew he couldn't talk anything but German. Now learn that while he doesn't speak English he 'Can understand it fairly!' He admitted it, at the last moment – and with a twinkle in his eye that gave me cold chills! Do hope I haven't said anything too shocking! I'm racking my brains – but can only remember that I laughed about his 'rainbow hosiery' and said he would be quite good-looking if he hadn't such a 'bovine look.' J— says it should teach me a lesson to be more careful. He pretends he knew it all the time; but I know better. Men are 'deceivers ever'; but they can't fool their wives – sometimes. This morning I was enjoying a joke about something – I forget now what. Capt. came up, said: 'You laugh much. Always you I see laugh. Do all you in Amerika so?' 'Yes, they certainly do – when they are having "the time of their lives,"' I jokingly explained. 'Ah yaas,' he nodded, pretending he understood. 'The time's life!' Know he hadn't an idea what I meant. He looked so funny I laughed again. I must stop it, it is so fattening!"
It was nine o'clock when we reached Selve, and quite dark. We didn't dock, for Selve is only a little village of no importance – on an island of the same name and description. We just slowed down, and when about a half-mile or so off shore the Brioni came to a full stop.
Far away, out of the night, seemed to come bobbing toward us over the water, the weirdest of lights. A fitful, queer little light, which alternately rose and fell, and then at intervals seemed to go out entirely; but only to reappear the next moment, exactly the same as before. We watched it curiously. I thought of St. Eufemia, and never took my eyes off of it for a moment, as it came slowly toward us. After what appeared to be a long time, we saw that the light was a small lamp set in the very bottom of a deep barca, in which two men stood rowing. It had been the shadow of one of them which had from time to time obscured the light; and the night was so dark we could see neither the men nor their boat until they had almost reached us.
As we peered over the rail we saw a boy quickly clamber down the gangway and drop into the waiting barca. The next moment he dexterously made his way across the seats to the bow of the plunging craft, where he proceeded calmly to seat himself. We thought the fellow must be crazy, for the boat was a large one, and he had perched himself at the extreme end of the blunt prow where he seemed in imminent danger of falling overboard. But we soon discovered that there was "method in his madness."
From the steerage, people now began to swarm. They crowded down the swaying gangway and jumped, sprawled or were tossed into the plunging and pitching barca, which the fitful light of the one poor lone little lamp – set upon the floor in its cavernous depths – utterly failed to illuminate.
Now followed such a motley collection of bags and boxes, bundles and parcels, as no small boat ever before carried in addition to its human freight. We saw bags of flour and a box of canned goods; sacks of potatoes and a sewing-machine; a baby's high-chair and a tin wash-basin; small parcels neatly wrapt in paper and tied with string; bulky objects swathed in bagging and fastened up with coarse hempen rope; big bales and small boxes; bundles of every size, shape and description; between which seventeen men, women, and children (by actual count) had in some way wedged themselves! There didn't appear to be room left for a paper of pins, when one of the women, stowed away under the accumulation of household effects, suddenly remembered something, which she had forgotten until the moment the boat was about to start.
Then the whole company began to talk at once; offering suggestions, shouting out orders, explanations, and directions, at the very top of their lusty lungs. They made such a commotion and hubbub we were wondering what on earth could have happened – when, as suddenly, the bedlam ceased.
A deck-hand had appeared at the head of the gangway with the missing article, which proved to be a baby-jumper. He handed it down carefully to a man in the boat, who passed it on to another, and so from hand to hand it went, held high in air, until it reached its owner. The poor woman having no place to put it, was forced to hold it on her head – much to the amusement of the entire party.
Then they cast loose, and laughing and chattering – apparently utterly oblivious of the danger of the overladen boat capsizing – they began their perilous journey to the shore. They put us in mind of a colony of ants clinging to a chip. "That boy was no fool. He knew what he was about after all!" John laughingly remarked.
Having learned that the Brioni would not reach Zara, our next stopping-place, until after eleven that night, and that she was to leave at the unearthly hour of 4 a.m. we had decided to part company with her, but most unwillingly. Our only consolation, however, was that we had been assured by the captain, and the officers as well, that we would find the other steamers quite as comfortable. But we had so enjoyed the Brioni, we greatly doubted we would find things so congenial and pleasant on any other steamer, or that we would feel so much at home. It had been a charming voyage and very like a trip on a private yacht. But we wanted to see Zara, so we had to leave; and later experiences proved that what we had been told was quite true; but at the moment of saying good-by we felt very loath to go.
If Rovigno, the Lussins, and Pola were charming – and they really were – what shall I say of Zara? Words are, indeed, poor, colorless things with which to express the delight we experienced in discovering her perfect mine of riches! In my mind's eye I see now the old wells in the Piazza; the graceful and picturesque campanile; the fleet of fishing-boats in the harbor; the lovely acacia-shaded walk upon the ramparts; and can almost feel the fresh breeze which comes in from the sea!
Where to-day – except on this seldom-visited shore – can cities like Zara be found? Zara! with her color, her medieval streets, and rare old churches filled with marvelous relics! There is not one Zara, only, in Dalmatia, there are many – not merely the bare bones of the long dead years, like Pompeii, but living embodiments of strongholds of the middle ages, which existed here at the dawn of the Christian era. Veritable gems of the Adriatic are these ancient cities, set like jewels in a golden, historic chain – cities, on whose venerable walls and lovely campaniles is written the name of Venice, fair bride of the sea; and where her faithful lion still stands on guard over the old, old gates.
It was so dark when we arrived in Zara we saw nothing but the new Dogana. I remember that as we hastened out of it, into the narrow street, John laughingly remarked that he thought "Dogona a very good name for a custom house!" A stalwart son of Dalmatia preceded us, carrying my enormous suitcase upon his head; with John's – or the one he calls his; I use about half of it – slung over his shoulder on a funny and fuzzy homemade rope almost the size of a ship's hawser.
Early the next morning we started out sightseeing, but soon found that to do Zara and her antique treasures anything like justice we should have had a week instead of a day.
We began with a pilgrimage to the old gates of the city. The first one visited, I admit, was rather disappointing. I think it was called the Porta Marina. It was much smaller than we had expected, and the lion over the archway was hideous! – a horrid, snarling creature with a halo, and his mane parted in the middle. Had it not been for his wings and book, I never would have recognized my well-beloved Lion of St Mark, in this ugly beast – altho even he of Venice is not noted for beauty!
But if this gate was not up to our expectations, everything else in the city certainly more than exceeded our highest hopes. The Porta Terra Firma is magnificent! I greatly doubt if any in Italy can surpass it in imposing dignity, a dignity and stateliness which its simplicity makes the more impressive. It is a massive, substantial structure which has defied the centuries. Above its tall central archway is a fine Venetian lion who looks down proudly from his post of honor upon the humble folk coming and going below. But it is the inner side of this gate which is particularly interesting. It was a triumphal arch erected by a Roman lady, Melia Anniana, to Laepicius Bassus, her husband.
I couldn't help wondering if Melia Ann hadn't stolen the idea of a triumphal arch erected to her husband from Salvia Postuma – for women in every age have been much the same. (I'm confident, if Salvia were here to-day, instead of saving where she could on the carvings of an arch, she would be "a bargain hunter" – the first customer in the morning at the department store advertising "Fifteen dollar raincoats for $1.98!" For whether we wear a toga or a "hobble skirt" depends entirely upon the century; we ourselves do not change. Women are always women – never the same, and always the same!)
In Rovigno we looked in vain for the gorgeous habiliments we had been led to expect. Not only was the garb seen quite uncharacteristic, but the entire populace wore, apparently, that heterogeneous collection of garments familiarly described in the New York vernacular as – "a job-lot of misfits!"
We had read that the Rovignians had "The unique custom of wearing one large earring in the left ear." But altho we closely scrutinized every one we met, we utterly failed to substantiate the fact. Possibly the citizens who affected one earring were away from home, or they kept within their cottages. I only know that we did not see them.
But Zara, with her crooked little streets fairly glowing with a riot of brilliant hues, more than made up for any shortcomings in Rovigno. In the morning the Piazza dell' Erbe, where the market is held, is the best place to see the life and color of Zara. Here we saw numbers of peasants from the outlying districts, among whom were the Morlacchi – strange, uncouth-looking people from the mountains of northern Dalmatia, of whom it could be truly said "Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these."
The Morlak women were squatted in a row, on the flagged market-place in oriental fashion, with their country produce piled up in front of them on a kerchief, or on a piece of bagging spread on the ground. They had eggs, poultry, little squealing pigs and green vegetables for sale; and as we walked down the line offered us their wares in a terribly guttural, burring tongue – which John laughingly declared was "the worst yet!"
These peasants wear a most striking costume. It consists of a coarse, near-white homespun linen smock, embroidered at wrists and over the breast with gaudy designs. Over it they wear a bodice, laced across the bosom with tinsel cords or strings. They have a short and voluminous skirt of some thick material sufficiently abbreviated in length to show their embroidered leggings, which are worked in colored thread and adorned with many beads like the leggings and moccasins of an American Indian. But as bizarre as were the garments I have mentioned, the most striking of all were their wonderful aprons! Marvelous creations – stiff as a board with the crudest of embroideries – showing bouquets of blue and green roses, or conventional designs in colors which would put to shame one of Turner's most vivid sunsets. The aprons of the Morlak women, and, in fact, those worn by all the female Croatians, were the oddest feminine garments I have ever seen. They were as thick and heavy as carpets, and reminded me of nothing so much as the wrong side of the Bagdad portières in our library at home.
Add to this varied assortment of gay raiment long, dangling earrings; leather belts studded thickly with bright metal knobs, and fastened with huge silver-gilt buckles, almost as large as a breastplate; numerous cheap-looking bracelets and rings; and quantities of chains made of shells, beads, and jingling coins, which fittingly completed their barbaric gorgeousness.
The almost universal foot-covering in Dalmatia is a kind of shapeless slipper, or sandal, known as an "opanka." A Mr. Wheeler, an Englishman, made a sketch of these Croatian peasants in 1675. His drawing shows that the style in opankas in all these years has not changed in the least. When, some days later, we were in Ragusa, we noticed that a carved figure on one of the ancient columns wore with a Roman toga the same kind of footgear that we see worn here to-day. There is no question as to the great antiquity of the opanka. It is certainly simple enough in manufacture, as well as inexpensive and comfortable, which probably accounts for its long-continued popularity.
In the market square we saw the whole process of manufacture "from factory to wearer" completed in a few moments. The merchant having selected a skin and laid it on the ground, the customer placed her foot on the skin. He then cut the hide in an oval roughly to fit the size of the customer's foot. (And that size was simply enormous! An "E-12" at least.) Many little slits were then snipped round the edge through which a thin strip of leather was run, by which it was drawn up like a bag, and the thongs tied around the ankle with a deft plait at the toe and more strings to lace it across over the instep – and there it was! "A ready-to-wear opanka, guaranteed made on the customer's own 'foot form'!"
PORTA TERRA FIRMA
Men and unmarried girls in Zara affected the same little round, bright red Dalmatian cap. It has a funny little tuft of black fringe hanging over one ear, and is worn at such an acute angle that an elastic band is sometimes necessary to keep it on.
These absurdly small, brimless caps – and this is the land of radiant sunshine – always reminded me of the head-gear of the English Tommy Atkins; for they are of the same "pork-pie" shape, and worn like Tommy's, over one ear. Older women and matrons wear a huge white linen kerchief with embroidered hem and corners, tied under the chin, with the other ends extending well down their portly backs. By looking closely, I discovered that in many instances these shawl-like kerchiefs covered the same little red cap. If only I could describe in admiring words some lovely, dark-eyed creature that peeped out at us from the folds of these snowy kerchiefs, the picture would be complete! But, alas! truth compels me to admit that, while the Morlacchi and other Croatians are admittedly dark, they are far from handsome.
The male contingent were not one whit behind their women folk in gorgeous appearance. They had embroidered waistcoats buttoned down the side with bright metal buttons, and their jackets, usually sleeveless, were embroidered on the shoulders and down the seams with birds and flowers, while both waistcoat and jacket were liberally embellished with garish gold braid, tassels, and pendant knob links, of filigree silver, varying in size from a dime to a trade dollar.
I am quite convinced that the writer of a comic opera could not do better than take a trip to Zara if he wants to get ideas for a setting. With the striking costumes not only of the Morlacchi and Croatians to afford inspiration, but with Bosnians, Magyars and Herzegovinians, as well to draw from, he could not fail to find effective combinations of color for costuming a chorus.
Almost by accident we discovered that the market square boasts a famous antiquity – an isolated, conventional Roman column. We had not heard of it, but noticed it in passing. It still carries its defaced capital, and upon this the Lion of St. Mark stands. Attached to the front of the pillar is a large Byzantine cross from which hang rusty chains, on the end of which are the old rings to which were fastened poor wretches condemned to be pilloried here in ancient days. These grim reminders of the cruelty and barbarism of the past have dangled here for ages. So long, so very long, have the fetters swung in the wind, been warmed by the sun, or washed by the rain, that in the centuries they have left deeply graven upon the fair marble their cruel marks. Thank heaven, say I, that there are no longer any pillories! I never see one, or a ducking-stool, but that I am devoutly thankful I didn't live in those old days! For I feel confident I should have been employed for a personal demonstration of both. I am always shocking somebody. I can not be conventional, and prim – no matter how hard I try! I know very well I should have been one of those "contumacious" female persons who used to be disciplined for wearing the wrong cap, or for not attending Divine Service!
Just off the Piazza dell' Erbe are the magnificent ruins of St. Donato, a very ancient, round church with three apses – from which no doubt it got its original name, "Church of the Holy Trinity." It has known many vicissitudes. It was once a hay loft, and for years was used by the Austrian Government as a military store-house. But the writings of a Professor Eitelberger (a German "Jackson") fortunately rescued the old building from further desecration. The modern upper floor was carefully removed, and St. Donato is now a museum filled with antiquities. But St. Donato itself is more interesting as an antiquity, than for anything it contains. It was mentioned by the Emperor Constantine, the historian. (Constantine Porphyrogenitus, the one whose name means "Born in the purple.") He spoke of it as being "Two churches – a second church over the first." This second church is only a sort of gallery, but it has its own three apses, like the one below, and was reached by a double stairway, one of which was a "Santa Scala" – like the sacred stairs in Rome, which the devout ascend upon their knees – the other, the means by which the worshipers could walk down.
Authorities disagree as to the age of St. Donato, but as it lies between the time of the first Bishop, Donatus II, in the fifth century, and Bishop Donatus III, in the beginning of the ninth, it doesn't matter very much. In either case St. Donato is sufficiently aged to inspire our profound respect. My diary reads:
"Just back to the hotel from seeing grand old church. We were so tired from gadding about Zara all morning, we had to come back to rest up before dinner. We were in great luck! There was a festa of some kind going on, and the Piazza dell' Erbe – which is the 'Square of the Vegetables' – was a sight to see! It was simply crowded with peasants, who had come over from one of the neigh boring islands on some sort of pilgrimage to St. Grisogono's church – he is the Zaraian patron saint. They rowed over in boats and paraded about town, headed by men with banners, acolytes, swinging censers, and their priest and his attendants, in their best robes, stoles, and things. After them followed the islanders, walking two and two. I noticed that several of the pairs walked hand in hand – and all carried lighted candles. It was simply adorable – the church scene in Faust – but 'a truly, really story' – as I used to say when I was a wee girlie.
"As we were watching the procession, with all our eyes, we were startled by a sudden uproar in the Piazza. Three or four men had gotten into some kind of a brawl and were shouting and gesticulating so angrily, we thought them about to come to blows (we never can remember that these people are all given to mere bluster!). Well, John seeing a fine-looking Austrian officer approaching, stept up to him and politely inquired, in his best German, what the trouble was about. His best German, however, is bad enough. It passed muster as Dutch in Amsterdam, but the Germans themselves often fail to recognize it. 'The gentlemen are merely having a little political discussion,' the officer smilingly replied, in very good English, taking off his cap and making us a profound bow.
"'But why are they shouting so loudly?' I asked involuntarily, overcome with curiosity. For the taunt uttered by one had now been taken up, and was being repeated in concert by the other belligerents, until the clamor was deafening.
"He hesitated a moment – and I saw he was embarrassed; I feel confident he actually blushed – and then said very soberly, but with the wickedest laugh in his eyes: 'Madam, they are saying "Ižvadi košulya! Ižvadi košulya!'"
"'But what does that mean?' I inquired eagerly – not heeding John's nudge in the least.
"'It is an old story. Many years ago these Croatians, whom we call "Morlacchi," had the custom of wearing their hair plaited in a pig-tail down their backs; and they wore the ends of their shirts outside of their trousers. This fellow the crowd is abusing, favors the present Croatian movement. They are what you call in America "guying" him! They are shouting "Ižvadi košulya" – which means "Out with your shirt!" '
"'Oh, I understand – thank you very much!' I spoke demurely, but, in spite of myself, I colored under his laughing, wicked eyes. John looked like a thunder cloud. These 'breaks' of mine so embarrass him! He says I haven't a particle of discretion. I'm afraid he is right – 'I never open my mouth, but that I put my foot in it' as the woman said. Only my mouth isn't quite as large as that – altho my feet are tiny. Indeed, I sometimes wish they – the feet, not my mouth – were larger, they often ache so badly. I'm really quite a little too heavy for them. I must stop laughing! To get back to Captain Bela Masticevich – for that is his name, and it is a mouthful – our chance meeting with him was one of the most fortunate things which could have happened! He is very refined – and awfully handsome. (I adore good-looking chaps with brass buttons, clanking swords, gold braid and epaulets!) He is really a most charming fellow, and, best of all, he knows all about Zara, and speaks English fluently! He told us that he was 'on leave'; and simply insisted upon 'doing himself the great pleasure of showing us the town.' Being entire strangers, we, of course, demurred – not wishing to take up his time. But he said: 'There is nothing which I could do which would give me so much pleasure' – and he looked into my eyes when he said it, and I think John caught him. Of course he didn't mean a thing – these foreign men think it necessary to 'make eyes' at every one they meet. They consider it only being decently polite. It really is very amusing But, if John did it, I'd be simply furious!
"Well, Captain 'Bela' insisted. That last name is too long to bother with – so from the very first I called him 'Captain Bela.' He looked pleased and flattered, but John – I could see – thought it too familiar. (But as I had started it, there was nothing for him to do but to follow my example.) So off we three went. I confess I did feel proud, walking about between two such handsome men! For John is handsome – much handsomer, too, than even B—, in all his regimentals. I don't say so because he's mine. I know he is handsome; other women think so, too – lots of them. They show it – pert, horrid, flirtatious creatures! Well, we had a perfectly charming morning, we three. B— took us to the Giardini Publico – the public gardens – where we duly inspected five old wells, 'cinque possi,' sitting all in a row, from which the Zara women still draw water. It comes from some place – I forget what, and it passes through beds of sand – an antique filtration affair, centuries old. We saw another Roman column, too, but it wasn't as fine as the one in the market square.
"But I must stop scribbling and dress at once! We are to meet B— and take dinner with him in the 'Piazza dei Signori.' That means the Men's Square. Everything here belongs to the men! The only gay things about the women – poor, downtrodden creatures! – are their clothes. Their lives are all hard work, and dull and gray enough. I'm so glad I wasn't born a Dalmatian – or I feel sure I would be a bomb-throwing, acid-pouring, Croatian suffragette! But these women haven't sense enough to be anything but the beasts of burden they are. As I told John – when I saw a man riding on a donkey, smoking, while his poor wife trudged behind on foot, bowed over with the load she carried – every man in Dalmatia should sing: 'Let the women do the work, do the work, while the men take it easy!' It certainly would be a most popular ditty here, for it suits conditions to a nicety. Heavens! I hear John coming, and I haven't even started to get ready! It is so warm I shall dress all in white."
PIAZZA DELL' ERBE
MORE TREASURES OF ZARA
THE cathedral of St. Anastasia is Zara's pride. It is always spoken of simply as the "duomo." Altho the Italian language has the word "cattedral" it seems to have lapsed into "innocuous desuetude" for it is never heard – the word duomo (dome) having usurped its place. Not only here, in Dalmatia, but all over Italy, in every city boasting a cathedral, that edifice is known as "the duomo," no matter how many other churches with domes there may happen to be.
Zara's duomo is certainly a splendid building with a history old and quaint enough to satisfy any one. Antiquarians who know what we poor mortals would never guess, tell us it is not the original church described by the last Constantine as floored with magnificent mosaics and decorated with paintings which were already ancient in the tenth century! But, while the building is not the same, some of the columns of "cipollino and white marble" mentioned by Constantine may still be seen in the nave arcade, while "fragments of the famous mosaics are still to be seen in the floor, mixed with the pavements of a later age."
The cathedral was destroyed by Crusaders under Henrico Dandolo, those Christian vandals, who sacked Zara in the thirteenth century; the same Doge later, with his army of looters, invaded Constantinople and robbed St. Sophia of her fairest treasures – altho most of us have always given the "unspeakable Turk" the credit for vandalizing the splendid basilica of Justinian.
We may see to-day, on a slab in the floor of the left gallery, close by a sacred relic, the porphyry bowl "in which Mary washed the Babe's swaddling clothes," the name Henricus Dandolo carved on the stone.
But only a year later the old Doge himself was laid low by the "Grim Reaper," and his bones buried in the great sanctuary he had permitted his troops to violate.
One story says: "The Crusaders, prompted by remorse, left money for the rebuilding of the Christian church they had destroyed." Another account gives as the much more reasonable influence which induced the marauders to leave funds for rebuilding Zara's duomo, the fact that they "Feared the Pope (Innocent III) would put his threatened anathemas into effect, and excommunicate them for their looting and destruction of a Christian city and its Christian edifices." This reason seems much the more credible, for we may doubt if Crusaders would be likely to feel remorse. The only thing they feared was excommunication, the weapon the Pope wielded. But no matter what the reason, the funds were left, and the duomo dedicated in 1285.
The exterior of St. Anastasia is particularly handsome, the central doorway is most imposing, and justly celebrated. The façade is held to be the finest in all Dalmatia. It is in the style of the Lombard churches of Italy. It has two fine "rose-windows," one above the other over the central entrance. They look much more like wheels than roses, to the uninitiated; but, that which is called a rose-window, by any other name would not sound as sweet.
When preparing my note-book in Zara, I made a crude little sketch from a picture of the duomo, inserting technical terms used in describing the façade, so I would recognize here, and elsewhere in Dalmatia, the architectural beauties we had come so far to see. Even a smattering of technicalities in connection with ecclesiastical structures adds immensely to one's appreciation. Years ago I learned to know a "Corot" by the fuzzy trees, and Rubens by his reds, and his fleshy women. The joy of knowing them at a glance, and exclaiming with a superior air of exalted erudition, "That Corot is really good!" or "Rubens' technique is superb!" I don't know enough about real art to appreciate fully the work of either master, but it is like meeting old friends to be able to pick out in a gallery of pictures the work of the great artists. "A little learning is a dangerous thing," the old maxim declares. I should not say that – but it is all true, with the exception of the adjective. I prefer to say, "A little learning is a delightful thing!"
For instance, think what a prosaic, uninteresting place our beloved Mount Vernon would be to a foreigner who had never heard of George, and his little hatchet, and the immortal story of the cherry tree? Some horrid old iconoclast would have us believe "the whole story is a mere myth!" But no real patriot will listen to any such words of heresy. Why should we? The "plain truth" takes from us a charming fiction which has embellished the story of Washington so long that it has actually become a part of the historic garment in which we have clothed the Father of his Country. "Facts are things" some people insist. Yes, ugly things, very often – like doctor's bills, mother-in-law's visits, doing the marketing, and making out the weekly laundry list. I hate plain, unlovely truths. Where ignorance of heavy, ponderous facts is bliss, 'tis indeed folly to "get wise" – as the little street gamins express it.
Zara is the very threshold of Dalmatia, and here particularly should we completely forget this prosaic twentieth century and every fact relative to big cities – boasting trolley-cars and modern hostelries with elevators, electric lights, private baths, and "phones in every room" – that we may enjoy to the utmost the unique experience of climbing up four flights of rickety stairs to the light of a flickering tallow-dip, and calling over the banisters for more water in the morning.
But to return to the cathedral. We must particularly remember to scrutinize the magnificent marble "baldacchino" over the altar. For the canopy upheld by the four lovely cipollino columns, it is claimed by the Zaratini, is "Finer and loftier than the more famous one in St. Mark's, Venice."
On top of this baldacchino is a large statue of Christ, His right hand raised in blessing. In His left hand He holds a flag or pennant bearing a Greek cross. A stone bench for the clergy runs round the apse, and in the center is a fine Byzantine bishop's chair.
The choir-stalls are particularly fine. Jackson declares them to be, "Undoubtedly the most magnificent example of a class of woodwork that abounds in Dalmatia." Each stall is divided by elbows and shades elaborately carved with open (or "pierced") scrollwork which extends up to and supports the canopies shaped like little fluted shells. Above are small figures standing in niches. They represent the prophets and others, from Adam down, each emerging from a scroll and holding a label.
The treasury of the duomo is particularly rich in silver and gold "reliquaries," queer receptacles in which sacred relics are preserved. One has a base formed of four dragons who have lost their wings. Their tails raised in the air form supports upon which the upper portion, a design formed of birds and foliage, rests. These, in turn, support a crystal tube, in which is a "Holy Thorn" surmounted by a crucifix.
An arm reliquary made of transparent enamels has an inscription which delighted me, because I could read it. It said "Digitvm Sancti Iohannis Baptiste," which I knew at once meant the finger of St. John the Baptist. John laughed, and said any one could read that, but, as I told him, it was an arm reliquary, and if I had not known how to read Latin how could I have known it contained only a finger?
More beautiful than even these choir-stalls are those to be seen in the church of St. Francis. They stood originally in front of the altar, but when the new one was erected, in 1808, they were placed behind, where they still remain. They are remarkably artistic, said to be the work of a master craftsman, a certain Master Giovanni of Venice, who made them in 1394.
Between the stalls are wonderfully fine old carvings. One represents St. George with his good sword in hand, seated on his prancing steed, about to set off to slay the dragon. Another shows St. Francis receiving the stigmata, and other Biblical subjects not quite so easily recognized. It is charming to know that St. Francis really visited Dalmatia in the year 1212, and that he, himself, is credited with having founded this church and monastery, as well as innumerable others which are scattered over Dalmatia. My diary says:
"Where shall I begin to try to write all that has happened this afternoon? From the very first, I knew John was disgruntled. I saw it plainly the very moment he heard me say I was going to change my dress, and that I intended wearing my lace waist and the duck skirt I had had laundered in Venice. I should think a man would like his wife to look cool and neat when it is so warm. Dear knows, a poor woman with only one serge 'tailor made suit' to her back, and two wash skirts, can't be said to be 'always dressing!' I know that! It takes a smart person to manage to look even decently drest with only three flimsy silk waists and seven white ones, and that is every one I have. To hear John talk, one would think I had several Saratoga trunks. He didn't say a word when I perked up a little for the field-marshal and the folks on the Brioni. I saw he was huffy when we started off to meet Bela, but I didn't let it bother me. For I felt sure that he was just provoked because I wasn't ready when he came for me. We met Bela (Captain Bela, of course I mean) in the Piazza, as he had arranged. He said, as it was a little early, he proposed that we go first to see the new campanile in the Corso, finished after Mr. Jackson's plan. 'Jackson?' I cried. 'I. G.? My Jackson?' Bela looked amazed. 'You know Mr. Jackson? His great work on Dalmatia was published many years ago. He must be an old man, now.' His face, as well as his tone, showed his astonishment. 'My wife means that she has read Mr. Jackson's books,' John explained, stiffly, giving me a withering look. (Poor John, he is such a stickler for the proprieties, and I am always shocking his sensibilities by being what he calls 'So ridiculously emphatic!')
"'Read his books? Well, I should say I have,' I declared, laughingly. 'I have actually devoured all three volumes. But they are so full of technicalities, and Latin and Greek quotations that I found them rather heavy and hard to digest, I must admit. But nevertheless I doted on them.' I spoke airily, taking good care to pay no attention to John – who I knew was doing his best to catch my eye – for I saw that Bela was highly amused. I read in his face that he found me most entertaining, and liked my vivacity. From that moment, we became quite like old friends. He told us about Archbishop Maffeo Valaresso, the old fellow who had begun the campanile years ago. He was the very man who gave the splendid silver-gilt pastoral staff we saw in the treasury of the duomo. The handle of the crook had eleven funny little half-length figures each popping out of a flower, just like a Jack-in-the-box. The Savior stood in the middle on the top. In the center of the handle were figures representing the Virgin Mary and the archbishop himself – which I particularly remember, because he had had his own figure made three times as large and prominent as the one of our Lord.
"Well, it seems his relatives objected to his spending his money on the campanile, so, altho it was begun away back in 1480, when Jackson wrote of it, it was still unfinished – four hundred years later! He however, made a drawing of what it was to be, and the Zaratini, in recognition of his telling them all about themselves, have had it finished according to his plan. And Bela says they have had struck a gold medal also, to honor this same T. G. – who is called 'The father of Dalmatia!' I always say T. G., because there are so many other Jacksons. John says it is 'flippant and undignified,' but I really mean no disrespect to the splendid old gentleman. I couldn't admire or respect him more if I called him 'Mr. T. G. Jackson, M.A., F.S.A., Honorary Fellow of Wadham College, Oxford, Archeologist, Author of "Dalmatia, the Quarnero and Istria," in three volumes.' Poor dear John, it must be awfully trying to be so quiet and refined – so eminently proper – and to be tied to a harum-scarum wife like me; but, still, he must remember I could not have married him unless he had asked me!
"But to return to our dinner in the Piazza dei Signori – it was simply perfect! Not just the food we ate at one of the little tables under an awning, but everything. The Caffè agli Specchi has two long rows of tables and the people walk right between them, going and coming in the Piazza – which has the usual clock-tower, communal palace, loggia, and all that, which one sees in every one of them. As we sat there eating and enjoying ourselves, there was a constant stream of people, all so delightfully 'foreign' they quite enchanted me. There were lots of natty Austrian officers with their brass buttons and clanking swords; funny-looking peasants pushing outlandish hand-carts; beetle-browed Morlacchi in stage trappings and bright gewgaws, carrying wineskins, swarthy contadini in embroideries and silver ornaments, bearing huge bundles; and pretty, dark-eyed Dalmatian girls, with marvelous aprons, and in coquettish red caps decked with strings of coins, selling flowers. Bela told us the magnificent individual in a crimson jacket with filigree buttons, almost the size of a hen's egg, was simply a member of the rural police. There were barefoot friars in brown, priests in long black cassocks, and the Greek 'sacerdotes' in high hats, with their hair – tied up in straggly psyche knots – showing under their beavers, and with a ridiculous blue silk sash tied around their waists, over their long, trailing, priestly robes. It was, as John said, 'As good as a show,' and we had so much to see, we were sorry when the last course was served. Of course, J— settled the bill; he didn't let B— pay anything at all, not even for the cigarets – for, as John explained to him, he was our guest. Afterward we went to the church of St. Simeone. I didn't care for anything so much as for the splendid old arca in the treasury, whose story reminded us of St. Eufemia and her marvelous history. The ark is made of wrought-silver plates fastened upon the inner cypress-wood coffin. It cost 28,000 ducats, when made by a famous silversmith of Milan, in the year 1380. On one side of the sloping lid lies an effigy of Saint Simeone himself – who looks in great danger of sliding off. On the ends and sides are pictures showing the story Bela told us.
"It seems that a long time ago a certain ship was blown into the harbor of Zara during a storm. A gentleman who was taking the body of his brother to Venice for burial, as he explained, became so ill that he decided to remain awhile in Zara. So he had the corpse of his relative placed temporarily in the cemetery. Shortly after, the sick man died, and a pious monk, who had shriven him, had a dream in which 'Saint Simeone the Just' (who held Christ in his arms at the Presentation in the Temple) appeared to him in a vision, and declared the body placed in their cemetery was none other than his own, and ordered its removal to a more fitting sepulcher. This was done immediately, and great miracles were worked by the sacred relic. The sick were made whole and the blind to see, by simply touching the wooden casket in which the body of the saint reposed. People came from near and far to visit the church of St. Maria, which held the sacred treasure; among others, King Louis of Hungary, accompanied by his wife and his mother, both named Elizabeth.
"It seems that the younger Elizabeth was a 'souvenir fiend' – or, as she was a real live queen, I should say a 'kleptomaniac' or relic hunter. Seeing her opportunity, she deftly broke off a finger of the saint and hid it quickly in her bosom. Instantly her senses left her and she dropt in a dead faint upon the floor. Upon recovering consciousness, what was her horror to discover that she had been stricken with total blindness, and that her breast had rotted away where it had been touched by the finger of the saint. Falling upon her knees in an agony of supplication, she acknowledged her sin and returned, the finger to the casket, and 'it immediately attached itself to the hand from which she had stolen it.'
"Somewhat mollified by the prompt restitution of his finger the saint restored her sight, but the place which had rotted away in her breast remained to remind the miserable woman of her wanton destruction of private property. It is said the queen asked repeatedly for forgiveness, and solemnly vowed to present him with a fine silver casket in which to secure his sacred bones from any future vandal like herself, if he would only heal her bosom. Immediately the forgiving saint, pleased with the idea of reposing in such a fine sarcophagus, acceded to her prayers, and she was made whole. The royal penitent, cured entirely of her desire to pilfer, at once set about fulfilling her vow. The ark which she had constructed is six feet in length (the effigy of the saint upon the lid is life-size), and is upheld by the hands of four angels, originally of solid silver. But alas, when the Venetians were at war they melted down two of the silver figures, replacing them later with bronze, the figures being cast from the metal of guns captured from the Turks. Queen Elizabeth had no qualms of conscience about her weakness, for the whole story of her rape of the sacred digit is set forth upon the ark in a series of pictures, that all the world may see – and also take cognizance of how handsomely she fulfilled her obligation. At the head and foot of the ark in the tympanum is the royal cypher, 'L. R.,' with the imperial crown resting on a casque from which comes the head of a crowned eagle, all wrought most beautifully by the skill of the silversmith, Francesco d'Antonio di Milano, who is said to have used a thousand sheets of finest silver in the construction of this Arca di St. Simeone, his great masterpiece. The picture shown upon the east end is particularly interesting from the fact that it shows King Louis and his queen surrounded by their court, all depicted in the style of dress in vogue in the fourteenth century. The courtiers have pointed caps with feathers, and wear doublets and hose. Louis, himself, seems to wear something very like a striped football sweater, which he is trying to pull down. He has long locks trailing on his shoulders and wears a French beard like John's (only Louis's looks as if it needed the services of a tonsorial artist).
"To go back to John. He's gone off to attend to our cabin – we leave to-night. But first we are to go to the Piazza to hear the music; of course, Bela will meet us there. I'm sure I wish he wouldn't, for I'm just a wee bit afraid of him. He devours me so with his eyes, and I know John is a little jealous. He gave me an awful scolding when we got back to the hotel. He said he was ashamed of me; I was so 'boisterous and slangy.' Me – slangy! I never was so indignant in my life. 'I'll have you know, John Roland, that I am too much of a lady to talk slang,' I told him, but he was mulish and declared I had said a lot of things which were just common slang and nothing else. I told him that in future I would not offend him by being 'too emphatic,' that I should say, 'I hope that you will consider what I say is quite veracious,' instead of 'believe me' – if he considered that slang. And as to being happy and enthusiastic, I never will be again! I will never smile at anything, I'm determined. No matter how glorious the sunset or how splendid anything is, I shall be just one of those limp, lifeless creatures who say things are 'quite nice.' Oh, those kill-joys who never enthuse over anything!
"But I wonder if I really did act a little too lively – and I'd hate to sound slangy! Poor John, I suppose I mortified him to death! I'm ashamed of myself, I'm certainly old enough, as he says, 'to know how to behave myself properly.' He told me I was 'an inebriate, intoxicated with happiness.' But who can blame me – for being drunk with the joy of living? How can I act staid and look lugubrious, I'd like to know, when John and I are off honey-mooning, like a couple of frisky little sparrows in springtime! Of course, John isn't really frisky, ever; but then I hop about and chirp and twitter enough for the two. Ah! well, I'm sorry I misbehaved and mortified him. I shall try my best to be more sedate and dignified in future – I really will. But, it is so hard to help feeling happy and showing it, when I fairly tingle with the joy in my veins. When every fleecy cloud in the blue sky, every dancing wave in its foamy cap, every breeze that kisses my cheek, all bring me the same message – God's message which all nature sings aloud in a great chorus of praise and gladness. The message that He made the world beautiful for us to enjoy it, and made us to be happy! I hear John's voice in the hall! I must look glum, and be moping when he comes in. I'm determined never again to be light-hearted and happy. 'Never again!'"
SEBENICO AND HER FAMOUS "GIORGIO"
"HERE yet! Can't go now till to-morrow," so runs on my diary of midnight. "I hate Z— and everything in it! As for John Roland, I know I shall never, never love him again as I once did. We've had an awful quarrel – and just because I laughed. Of course, I shouldn't have laughed, but how could I help it, when he howled and jumped about on one foot so ridiculously? It all happened because his watch was slow and we stayed too long in the Piazza with B—, listening to the music. J— was simply hateful. Declared it was all my fault – that I made him stay, so I could flirt and carry on with that black-eyed lady-killer. He has only himself to blame. I had to talk so that the captain would not discover how disagreeable J— can be, when he tries. Then, too, B— had been so kind and obliging. I thought, as we'd never see him again, I should, at least, be pleasant.
"When J— found out his watch was slow (I suppose that was my fault, too), we had to say good-by and tear back to the hotel for our traps, and make a rush for the boat. J— dashed up the stairs in front of me. As he reached for the lamp, in the dark, he stumbled over the suitcases. Next moment, down came that wretched box with a crash upon his toes! J— roared, and hopped about in the killingest way, saying every bad word he knew! It had really hurt him terribly, but that 'dear box,' as we now call it (altho J— says that d— dear box would be better), after such a hard fall wasn't fazed a particle! Getting off the Brioni it jabbed J— and bruised his knee. It has been a constant nuisance and made lots of trouble, for it insists upon colliding with everything we pass. Now, it has almost broken his instep, the hateful, detestable thing! Got lamp lighted while J— stormed and raged. Threw our things into suitcases and ready to go in five minutes. J— called porter, told him to bring box and larger suitcase, while he limped along as quickly as he could with the other. (I had the umbrella, my hand-satchel, and the jacket to my suit – always have to wear it, or carry it, for can't get it in the bags. Besides, had a huge bouquet, B— insisted upon buying me.) J— 's foot hurt awfully. Limped badly, and we had to walk so slowly, deathly afraid would miss boat; but didn't. Rushed aboard just in time; but, when J— settled with porter, discovered he had only my suitcase – that dear, beloved box had been left in our room at hotel! (I, myself, had carefully removed it out of J— 's sight as quickly as I could – he was so furious – and put it in the closet. And, of course, that fool porter never stopt to look for it; but simply grabbed up the baggage he saw, and followed us.) There was nothing to do but to let the steamer go, and return to hotel. For we couldn't go without that box! All the way back J— did nothing but scold. Harped on everything disagreeable he could. Went back to the morning; began all over again, about how I 'had acted like a fool,' and talked 'slang.' 'What did I say that was so awful?' I asked him, trying my best not to get mad, for I knew his foot pained terribly. 'All kinds of unladylike, slangy things. You told that fellow 'the American husband is the "best yet!" and "couldn't be beat" the whole world over! and a lot more of stuff like that.'
"At that, I confess, I lost my temper! I told him, 'Next time I will talk slang, since I get the credit of it. Real slang! I'll say: "Just you take it from me, kid, the American man has bats in his belfry! He's simply N. G. – like my husband!" That's slang, and it is the real truth, too, John Roland – you mean, hateful thing!' Then, of course, I had to begin to boohoo. At once, J— forgot all about his foot and everything else, trying to prevent the hotel people from hearing me. He shut the door and closed all the windows – as hot as it was – and begged me not to cry (but I only cried the harder). Then he gently took from me my coat and umbrella, hobbled over to the closet, and opened the door. There sat that dear box, absolutely grinning at us! Grinning to see poor J— limping from his encounter with it, and poor me, with a hideous red nose, sobbing and crying fit to break my heart! And all on account of the misery and trouble it had deliberately concocted. J— looked at it for a minute or so, in silence. Then he came over to me, very slowly, and said, in that soft, irresistibly tender way he has: 'Girlie, don't let that miserable box ruin our whole trip. It has caused trouble enough, already. I'm sorry for what I said. You are the dearest little wife in the world – I wouldn't have you any different, and you know it!' 'And – I didn't act – a bit boisterous – or flirt – with that fellow – or talk slangy – or – or do anything unrefined – and – unladylike?' He kissed me, and said of course I hadn't. He was just cross, because his foot hurt him. So I had to make up; but I took care to go over and lock that closet door (I didn't want any more trouble from that mischief-making box). Altho I have forgiven J—, I can't forget the unkind and untrue things he said about me. He has cured me forever of being 'hilarious and slangy!' I promise him. I'm going to let him see how he likes a 'kill-joy' woman – one of those stiff-and-prim, prunes-and-prisms creatures – who say 'y-e-s,' and 'n-o,' and take no delight in anything. I shall begin by having 'a split-ting headache!' (They always have something like that!)"
On the Baron Gautch, before we reached Sebenico, our next stop, an accident happened. We were on deck, with our chairs close to the rail, watching the deck-hands unloading great bundles of crooked iron spikes – which looked exactly like huge jack-straws. Couldn't imagine what they were for, so had J— inquire. (Learned they were for constructing the barricade of a new fort, somewhere back in the country.) Just as the last bundle of irons was safely slid to the wharf, the dinner-gong sounded. Ran down quickly to smooth my hair. (Blond hair when it's curly is pretty – but such an awful nuisance!) In my haste completely forgot that maliferous – no, I mean malevolent, box. It was eagerly waiting for me; took a nasty, ragged bite out of the ruffle of my only silk petticoat, as I stumbled over it. Wrenched my wrist badly, too, when I clutched at J—'s berth, to keep from falling. But, of course, I know better, now, than to say a word to J— about it. That box is a topic which it is better to cut – I mean, omit, entirely.
While sweltering in the stuffy little cabin, trying to darn my skirt and almost crying with vexation (for J— says I'm always late), the accident happened. He got up to see what detained me – altho he might have known it was the box – when the armful of things he carried began to totter. Before he could prevent it, my precious note-book slid off the Baedeker and went sailing over the rail! It was big and bulky, for I bought the largest I could find, with a splendid pocket for our maps, and enough pages for all the data for each place, and space left for anything extra I wished to add. I had written my diary in it, every day, but fortunately – in Venice – I wrote so much, and as J— always needed the book when I had it, he went off and bought me a fine new one. Now, I'm glad of it. But nothing can console me for the loss of all the data I took such care to prepare before we left home.
As the steamer was in motion, J— could do nothing but watch the book helplessly, as it fell with a splash and sank from sight. I had arranged everything under proper headings, so on arriving at a place we knew just where to go and what to see. J— was terribly upset. He hated to have to tell me. But I only said just as indifferently as I could, altho I had to gulp a little, "It doesn't matter. I'm tired of these stupid little Dalmatian places – they are all just alike." Without another word I walked away, as stiff and prim as you please (leaving J— perfectly aghast). At table every one was talking about the accident. J— said, now that the book was gone, he supposed it would "grow in size and importance until it contained a whole library of priceless information." He even attempted a witticism, saying that now the fish caught in the Adriatic would have "bigger heads" – as the result of "feeding on the intellectual food" found in my note-book. I didn't even deign to look up from my soup. The joke fell perfectly flat, and J— looked just as uncomfortable and unhappy as I intended he should.
So, on arriving at Sebenico (instead of turning to it in my book, and having the sights perfectly mapped out) we had to rush about madly, wasting both time and effort. Fortunately, we were able to stay a sufficient length of time to get our wits together, or we would have accomplished nothing. Not knowing where the cathedral was, we started off up the hill toward the first church-steeple we saw. After toiling up the heights, on reaching the door we found it was only an uninteresting little modern building in course of construction – filled with plaster-barrels and plasterers. John talked and talked, but I was entirely noncommittal except to complain of the sun and the heat; the rough roads and the dirt; the sore-eyed children and the slatternly women; and everything else I could think of as a cause for a new complaint. Without stopping to breathe, off again we started in the broiling sun. Up, up, up we labored, going through an endless chain of crooked, filthy lanes, roughly paved with cobblestones, and foul-smelling. Often, after a walk in the blazing sun, we reached a shaded place between the walls, only to find it so reeking with filth that we were glad to hurry on again into the sunshine. (I, myself, was feeling hateful, and so, naturally, all Sebenico was as disagreeable and ugly as I was.) I saw nothing but dirty, ragged children with sore eyes and blotchy faces; the women were untidy and disheveled, and sat around nursing babies and gossiping, with an utter disregard for their unkempt appearance. We noticed a number of women and girls who sat on stones along the wayside, embroidering, with eyes utterly unprotected from the blinding glare of the sun. They were making the tops of gorgeous Dalmatian caps, and several were at work upon the wonderful aprons they all apparently delight in, notwithstanding how hot and uncomfortable such heavy and stiff garments must be in a warm climate.
GENERAL VIEW OF CITY
Having gone the wrong way, we found ourselves in a little stableyard which we had to recross, to get back again to the road. My feet hurt terribly, from walking over the rough stones, and we were both breathless and tired, from the hard climb. The road perpetually ascended and descended, until I thought we would never reach the top – but at last, utterly out of humor and disgusted with Sebenico and everything in it, we arrived at the fort called Sta. Anna. The view was magnificent – I had to shut my lips to keep from exclaiming with joy, it was so beautiful! Instead, I said nothing, but only complained how my feet hurt, and how the glare of the sun made my eyes ache! John asked if I didn't think the view worth the walk? But I ungraciously declared: "No view on earth would pay for such a disagreeable climb, through reeking lanes!" And the silly fellow thought I really meant it!
Sebenico stretched below us with its old, old harbor defended by hoary Fort St. Niccolo. Venice ruled here, when it was built, for over the gateway still stands a stone on which is seen a carving of St. Mark's lion. But we learned, later, it is not the original emblem – for the French under Napoleon threw that into the sea, when they were here in 1813. But later, the Austrian Government had a duplicate made of the carved stone which has reposed at the bottom of the harbor for exactly a century. John told me the story, and, in spite of myself, I forgot, and asked questions. We sat to rest on a rock, and he took off my shoe to see if a stone was hurting me. (The dearest thing about J— is, that when he knows that I'm pretending, he pretends that he doesn't! That's why I fairly worship him; he's so different from other men, who are always hateful – just when their wives want to be!) He brushed off the sand and put back my tie (I wish I had left my oxfords at home), then he took my hand, and petted me up. Said, how awful life was, when I felt so badly! I had to smile, and confess I was just trying to be "proper." "Be improper, then, girlie, for heaven's sake!" he exclaimed, so eagerly we both laughed. Then, all was serene again!
As the ugly cloud was lifted from my heart, and we stood together, hand in hand, like two happy children, a new Sebenico lay before us! It was a Sebenico with lovely domes and turrets and darling little picturesque streets – funny, crooked streets, which looked as if they were playing tag down the hillside, darting here and there, running around quaint little houses, zigzagging through the town, until, at last, they jumped right off into the harbor! And there! right before our eyes, was the lovely duomo, lying almost at our feet, its famous dome shining in the sun! The very cathedral we had tried so hard to find, and now, here it was – beckoning us to come down and revel in all its treasures! But before we went into the town, we decided to visit the queer old cemetery just below the walls of the fort. J— said his foot didn't pain much, and mine felt so much better, we fairly scampered down the hill.
When we reached the iron gate of the cemetery we discovered it was locked. However, before we could turn away, a disheveled old creature, with two ragged youngsters tagging at her heels, came out of a nearby cottage, wiping a huge, rusty key on her ragged apron. (It was just a common gingham apron, so tattered and worn, so faded and dirty the rusty key couldn't hurt it.) Her sole adornment was a slinky blue cotton Mother Hubbard – I could see by the way it clung, she had nothing on under it – and her black hair hung in elf-locks over her face. But, poor soul, she tried to be nice; explaining in some sort of gibberish – which we couldn't understand at all – all about the different graves. She took us out on top of a kind of terrace, formed by the tops of rows and rows of tombs, and pointed to the inscriptions; but we couldn't read them. Then she took us to the side wall, and pointed down to some neglected graves, overgrown with brambles, and without headstones, but we couldn't make out what she tried to tell us. It may be they were the graves of Sebenico's Moslems – not permitted to sleep in the churchyard – but probably not. No Turk is so poor he hasn't a turban of wood or stone upon his grave, to show he was a male. It will be hard for such people to find there is no sex in heaven. (It will serve them perfectly right, too, for it's quite absurd for men to be proud, and lord it over us all their lives, for something which is a mere accident; just fate, or luck – or whatever you choose to call it!)
Maybe it was resting up, or cooling off, or just because we had "made up," but one thing is certain, Sebenico, from being everything that was horrible, hot, dirty, uninteresting, had become just the opposite! We both recovered our good humor and I felt as if my feet trod upon air. The breeze came up to us from the sea, and we sang as we went down the hillside – both of us happy as every one ought to be when they are young, when it is summer time, and when they love each other! I'm never, never going to be bad again. I really believe I did act a little too vivacious with B—. Maybe some one who doesn't understand just how awful real slang is, might think what I say is slangy. So I'm going to be more careful. Yes, more careful about everything! I'm glad we've seen the last of B—. Toward the last I was really a little afraid of him – he devoured me so with his eyes. He told me his mother was an Italian – that accounts for his ardent glances! I wouldn't give J— a heartache for the admiration of a million Belas. I admit I did smile at him and tried to make him like me; but I certainly did not flirt with him. I never really flirted with any one in my life. I'd die of mortification if I thought he thought I acted "fresh," and as for talking slang – I simply couldn't be so unladylike even if I tried. But, as J— says, sometimes I am a wee bit too vivacious. "Not a beenie" (as a girl at school said, trying to show off her Latin) – I've made up my mind to stop trying to save space by cutting out the "a's" and "the's" and abbreviating people's names. My poor diary is a perfect "sight!" It is such a scrawl and so jerky I can hardly read it myself.
Sebenico, some of its citizens claim, is Sicum, an ancient Roman colony, but the more exact authorities shatter this claim to antiquity. For they prove it was founded by bandits; piratical bandits who built a fort upon the heights and watched for ships to come, so they could go out and plunder them. Afterward they formed a colony upon the shore protected by a barricade or "sibue," from which the name is supposed to be derived. The town has a fine harbor and upon the hills are three time-worn fortresses which still look down protectingly upon the little city which snuggles at their feet. The highest of Sebenico's hills is crowned with a picturesque old castle fort known as St. Giovanni. It was constructed in the early part of the seventeenth century. From a distance the frowning old fortress looks grim and formidable, but to-day it merely adds a romantic touch to the landscape, for its days of usefulness in warfare are past.
Fort Barone, its neighbor, is now all in ruins. This fort was named for a heroic baron who successfully defended the city against twenty thousand Turks in the days of long, long ago. The third fortress is Sta. Anna. While it is not upon as lofty a height as its companions – being built upon the crest of the gray hill just above the town – still its situation is charming. From the shadow of its time-mellowed stone bastions a lovely view is secured of the town, the fine land-locked harbor, and of the winding little channel which connects it with the sea.
On our way down to the cathedral we passed through the most bewildering, but quaint and picturesque alleys, so crooked and narrow they strongly reminded us of the "calli" in our beloved Venice. Everywhere we saw charming reminders of the old Venetian domination, windows and doorways of exquisite Venetian Gothic and early Renaissance; houses, many of which still showed the heraldic designs of the noble families who once dwelt here, whose very names are now forgotten.
Sebenico has an adorably quaint little Piazza del Duomo with a long, double-arcaded loggia built right against the hillside. Now, alas! the lower story has been converted into a café, and the upper story is used as a reading-room and social club.
I delighted in the belfry of the little Greek church. The three bells each hang in their own arches; the two lower bells hang side by side and have exquisitely carved stone balconies, which look exactly as if they should be seen on the front of some palazzo on the Grand Canal. Imagine the din when the unfortunate bell-ringers have to stand in the balconies and ring the bells, by striking them with the huge clappers hanging just over their heads!
The costumes of the Sebenzani (I think that is the way Jackson writes it) are less gorgeous than those seen in Zara. To tell the truth, the people we saw in the outskirts of the city wore very ordinary loose cotton blouses and checked aprons, while many we noticed, altho they were busily stitching gay caps and gaudy aprons for festa or Sunday wear, were clad in most slatternly Mother Hubbards. From their untidy, flip-floppy appearance they showed they wore no superfluous, garments, and, evidently, cared nothing for "a straight-front" effect.
But in the Piazza there were lots of people who, we saw at a glance, were of a better class, and all of them were at least decently clothed, which is more than I can say of the denizens of the squalid cottages on the heights in the vicinity of Sta. Anna. To-day, alas, there are no longer any patricians in Sebenico. All have passed away. Sebenico is a Croatian city and its people are dark and swarthy, resembling Spaniards in appearance, and in disposition as well, it is said, being quick-tempered and easily provoked to deeds of violence. Then, too, the population being of mixed blood, and many of them of Morlacchi extraction, they are almost uncivilized, and still bear some of the traits of those old pirates and freebooters from whom, I suppose, many are descended. The Morlaks here were particularly fierce and savage looking. They lacked the picturesqueness of those we had seen in Zara, and few, indeed, were adorned with the filigree silver buttons and ornaments, the gay jackets and blue trousers which made Zara's Piazza look like a stage-setting – reminding us of a scene in the "Bohemian Girl." The peasants were gaunt and scowling, half-savage looking bandits, with ragged black elf-locks straggling over their weatherbeaten faces, of whom we could readily believe the tales we heard.
It seems the Morlacchi still believe in witches, fairies and terrible vampires who return from the grave to sit upon helpless infants and suck their blood. We were told that to-day, among some of them, the old practise of girls being carried off by their suitors with their own consent (to "escape the attentions of undesired swains," as it is explained), is still of common occurrence. After a few weeks, or months, the couple return, and the belated ceremony is performed. It is just the new idea of "trial marriage" – which has been an old fact with these half-civilized people for centuries. They naturally treat women as inferiors, and never speak of a wife without apologizing. They dwell in miserable primitive huts, without any opening but the door; huts said to be always reeking with smoke and filled with vermin. If there is a bed, the man sleeps on it, while his wife sleeps on the floor. Or, it frequently happens that both sleep out of doors, lying on the ground, each wrapt in a coarse, homespun goat's-hair blanket. It is amusing to know that some of the Morlacchi still are terribly afraid of snakes, and believe in firing guns and ringing bells to scare off witches, and use conjuring to exorcise the "malefik" storm-demons.
The women have a queer custom of plaiting in a strip of white cloth with the strands of their hair, and wrapping the braid round and round on the tops of their heads, forming a kind of turban. Sometimes over this they place a "panno," or pad, with an end which dangles down their backs. All this is done with no thought of its becomingness. Poor souls, they are no better than the beasts of the field – and that is just what they really are, only they are the burden-bearers of the human family, as well. The headdress is designed to help them carry the enormous bundles they bear upon their heads. As a result of this combination of cloth and hair, we noticed the women grow horribly bald, even before they are gray. The Sebenico men wear the funniest kind of collar on their jackets. It is a border of wool, either red or black, like the crocheted tops we work on bedroom slippers, formed of loops of worsted. It is supposed to resemble lamb's wool, and to be ornamental!
As we had wasted so much precious time meandering around upon the heights, we were forced to leave the Piazza with its most interesting throngs and enter the duomo long before we should have done so, had we had more time. For there is always much to see of special attractiveness in the piazzas of each Dalmatian town; piazzas often most truly called "the city's heart."
Just as Zara and "maraschino," the liqueur made from the kernel of the wild-cherry – the drink which made Zara famous – are almost synonymous terms, so is Sebenico noted particularly for two of her products. The first is a very delicious fish, "dentili della corona" – so named on account of the mark like a crown upon its head – which is only caught in the harbor of Sebenico and its vicinity. The second and greater cause for the city's fame is the fact that here lived and labored her celebrated son, Giorgio Orsini, or George of Sebenico, as he is better known.
The real truth is that Giorgio was born at Zara, and studied architecture and the sculptor's art in Venice; but, on account of his having lived and died in Sebenico, and as the duomo, his great masterpiece, to which he owes his greatest celebrity is here, he is known to-day as George of Sebenico rather than as "Georgius Matthæus Dalmaticus," as his name appears upon the old contracts for work, still sacredly preserved.
The most charming part of the story about this famous artizan is, that it is a "truly, really story." The accounts of George taken in connection with his work here in the duomo – and at Spalato and Ragusa, as well (which we will enjoy later on) – bring back the man; the flesh and blood Giorgio, who closed his eyes forever way back in the year of our Lord 1475. He was called away, and had to lay aside his busy chisel before his great life work was completed, but his name still lives, after almost four and a half centuries. Of the famous cathedral associated with his name, Jackson says: "It is worthy to rank with any Italian work of its date and class that I know, and tho there are churches as beautiful on the other side of the Adriatic, it would be difficult to match it in singularity of construction. Indeed, not only Italy but Europe may be challenged to show another church of this size in which neither timber nor brick is employed, everything being constructed of good squared stone, marble and metal."
I confess that neither John nor I know very much about "wagon-roofs" or shafts which the archeologists tell us are "Monoliths without entasis, resting on Attic bases with angle leaves, or toes." But even without a knowledge of its technical perfections we could agree with Dr. Neal, who declares the cathedral to be "the most striking and most Christian of all Dalmatian churches." Having been built entirely of marble and stone, it has withstood the centuries. It is built in the shape of a cross, and has Giorgio's famous Renaissance stone dome. But, unlike almost every other cathedral with a stone-vaulted ceiling, it has no outer roof of either timber, tiles, or lead.
The doors of the cathedral are particularly famous. The one at the eastern end of the side wall is the most magnificent. At least the authorities, whose word is law about such things, say so. To me, the hideous lions on low pedestals which guard each side of this, the famous "Lion's Doorway," were simply atrocious, but even less awful than the horrible representations of our "First Parents," standing on the top of the slender columns coming out of their backs. Both Adam and Eve wear nothing but the proverbial "fig leaves." Over their heads are niches held up by spiral columns. In these "tabernacles" are figures of saints almost as large as the "first pair" themselves, which gave a rather top-heavy effect, I thought. But the molding of carved leaves around the doorway is exquisitely done, and the delicately arabesqued columns twisted and fluted, which support each side, are worthy of much more time than we were able to spare them.
The west door, with its scroll work and pinnacled canopies, as well as this Lion's Doorway, were the work of a celebrated Venetian sculptor, Antonio, who is believed to have been a son of Pietro Paolo of Venice, who designed and constructed the beautiful choir-screen in St. Mark's Cathedral. Antonio's work here in Sebenico is said to resemble in many of its characteristics the work done by Peter Paul, his famous father. But notwithstanding his beautiful designs, his lovely scrolls and wealth of fanciful decorations, he couldn't suit the church authorities; for they became dissatisfied with him and his work and sent him off. Then it was that Giorgio, the famous "George of Sebenico," was invited to come from Venice and finish the duomo.
First, I must tell you Giorgio's romantic history. No weird, fabulous tale this time, but a plain, matter-of-fact account; we know every word is true. It seems that his father, Matteo, was of the patrician and princely family of Orsini, but hard times had fallen upon his branch, and he had been reduced in fortune so that he had been forced to support himself and his family by doing manual labor – something utterly out of keeping with his illustrious patronymic, which he most sensibly ceased to use. So Giorgio, altho an Orsini, was brought up "to work for his living" as an architect and builder, and early in life acquired great skill as a sculptor. He was a good-looking, brown-eyed young man when he succeeded in winning the heart of a fair Venetian maiden, named Elizabetta da Monte. Elizabetta was not only fair, but brought Giorgio a fair dowry, which he lost no time in making the most of. We know that when he was called to Sebenico, he became a citizen, and while himself working on his famous duomo, set Elizabetta's money working, too. He most wisely invested in a grocery store, which he ran on shares with two partners, and also had an interest in a merchant ship which brought them in goodly returns.
But the funds for building the great cathedral ran out – as so frequently happened in those old days. To obtain more funds, a tax of one-tenth of the amount of wine produced by each vineyard was levied, but it took twenty-six long years before sufficient money was secured to go on with the work. During all these years of waiting, Giorgio apparently never lost heart. He was now in Venice, then in Spalato, next we hear of him as working at Ancona, and finally as the rebuilder of a beautiful building in Ragusa, the famous Rector's Palace which had been destroyed for the second or third time by an explosion and fire in 1462. It is pleasant to know that Elizabetta not only took care of the house and children while Giorgio was away from home, but that she was a good business woman as well. The old records preserved in Sebenico show that her husband intrusted her with a power of attorney – or whatever it may then have been called – by which she was able to attend to his affairs while he was absent. The venerable Bishop of Sebenico has written a book about the great duomo, and in it he gives the whole story of the man whose architectural genius and sculptural art have made it famous. But, were there no historian to do him honor, Giorgio's marvelous skill with the mallet and chisel would have left his name carved in imperishable stone, not only here in Sebenico, but in Spalato and Ragusa as well.
Knowing about Giorgio, himself, we took the greater interest in his work in the duomo. Authorities claim that he took first rank in boldness of design and originality of conception. Antonio's great speciality was wonderfully intricate carving. He indulged in a wealth of detail, and this weakness for lavish display angered the building committee. But Giorgio, too, certainly gave free rein to his fancy: His moldings and cornices are a mass of intricate detail. In the interior of the transept, we particularly admired the little boys holding garlands. On the capitals are wreaths and birds, and bunches of grapes. I was overjoyed to recognize as Giorgio's work the same designs repeated on the renewed capitals of the loggia in front of the Rector's Palace in Ragusa.
Giorgio Orsini lived to become famous. By his own and his good Elizabetta's frugality and common sense he was able to amass much of this world's goods. The Sacristan of the duomo kindly took us to the little street called the Contrada St. Gregorio, just beyond the Piazza, to see the home of this famous man. But alas, only the doorway now remains of the house which "Michele Simeonich, a nobleman of Sebenico, sold to Giorgio Orsini for two hundred golden ducats of just and good weight," in the month of June and the year 1455.
GIORGIO'S FAMOUS CATHEDRAL
INTERIOR OF THE CATHEDRAL
On the lintel of this old doorway is carved a bear, the heraldic emblem of the great house of Orsini – carved, no doubt, by George's own hand, over this door through which he must have passed so often. The bear holds between his teeth a cord finished with a dainty tassel. In his paws he holds a festoon of laurel leaves. On each side of the jamb, Giorgio has proudly shown the humble mallet and chisels of his art, entwined with flowers, and held in place by a continuation of the same cord, which wraps the laurel, finished off with large and graceful tassels. All the world may see how the sculptor (while modestly eschewing his famous name) mockingly joined onto the ends of the Orsini laurel the plebeian symbols of his despised labor. Only the common tools of an artizan, but the mallet and chisels to which the great house of Orsini owes its most enduring fame.
But while poor Giorgio did not live long enough to complete his work, the great duomo was finished by his pupils and after his own original plans.
In the year 1540, just sixty-five years after the sculptor's death, his grandson, Giacomo, an advocate by profession, was formally recognized as a bonafide Orsini. I wish that Giorgio himself might have lived to finish his work, and that he, instead of his grandson might have been recognized as an Orsini! But it was not to be. In any case, no one would ever have heard of James Orsini, the lawyer, were it not for the fact that he was descended from the famous artizan, George of Sebenico.
TRAU, AND HER PATRON SAINT
"A TERRIBLE thing has happened," so again runs the diary. "I'm so excited I can hardly write. There is a crowd of the oddest-looking people in the steerage, and as I was standing by the rail looking down on their deck, a horrid-looking creature caught my eye. He was a beetle-browed ruffian with one of those ridiculous Dalmatian caps, the size of a butter-plate, cocked on one side of his head, and he wore a huge pair of blue trousers, so full and saggy in the seat they reminded me of my blue denim laundry bag at home. As soon as he caught my eye he smirked and bowed to me. I couldn't imagine what he meant, until he held up a letter, grinning and beckoning that it was for me. A letter for me – from that horrible Bela man! I knew it in a moment. Oh, why, why did I smile at him? Why did I try to make him admire me? I might have known my tow-head and American vivacity would make trouble here, where the women are so – different. But what shall I do? How can I tell John, after having had so much trouble to convince him that he was entirely mistaken, and that I didn't flirt with B— at all. Men are such absurdly unreasonable creatures. If I tell him about this letter, he will just seize upon it as proof that he was right. He'll say, 'You certainly did flirt with that man, or he would never have dared to write you!' I can just hear him say it. Oh! if I only had refused to take the note – but what else could I do?
"The very moment I caught sight of that letter I flew to the other end of our deck where I knew the creature couldn't see me. I had almost forgotten about him when, turning suddenly, I found the horrid thing almost at my elbow, bowing and scraping, with a villainous leer on his face which gave me cold chills. Before I knew it, he had given me the letter. I didn't dare say a word, for just as I took it, one of the officers came up. He ordered the fellow to go below – for of course such scalawags are not allowed on our deck. Mumbling some excuse in Magyar, or Czech, or something I couldn't understand, he immediately slunk away. I didn't know which way to look. Just imagine what the second officer must have thought – if he saw that disgusting creature giving me a note! It was a good thing I had on my silk waist, for in a moment I had slipt the envelop into my sleeve. I know my face turned crimson, but he didn't seem to notice my embarrassment at all; and in a few minutes he went away. As soon as he was safely out of sight I snatched out the letter and tore off the envelop.
"Just as I began to read – before I had had time to more than just glance at it – I saw, no I felt, John was approaching. He came up chatting with the captain. Before I really knew what I was doing, or what Bela said – for it was from him – in a sudden panic, I rolled the note up quickly into a tight wad and threw it with all my force over the rail. J— didn't see me, for he only stopt a moment to say that he and the captain were going to have another game of chess. He explained that he wouldn't be gone long, and all that – altho he knows perfectly well just what an endless thing one of their games of chess always is – they are so evenly matched. But for once I was glad to get rid of him, so that I could get my wits together. When he was gone, I was almost wild to think I had been such a fool as to get panic-stricken and throw B— 's note away before I had even had time to read it. All I remember is that he wrote he 'would soon have the joy of seeing me again!' There was something about his hoping to meet me at either Spalato or Ragusa, I think, but I'm not quite sure which. He began very politely with 'My dear Mrs. Roland,' but I haven't an idea, now, how he signed himself, except that I remember I glanced at the signature, and 'Masticevich' ended with a huge flourish. Oh! to think – to think that our splendid trip is to be ruined by a vain, conceited fool, who thinks I am in love with him. Girlie Roland, with an adorable American husband of her own, like Jo-John! Me – infatuated with a brainless jackanapes like him! O! what fools, what vain fools men are – all but John. He'd never be such a conceited puppy.
"But what shall I tell J—? I know he'll be perfectly furious – and he'll have a perfect right to be, too. Goodness only knows what he'll do, and say, for he is so punctilious. He'll be sure to think I have everlastingly disgraced myself, and the name of Roland. I simply must take time to think. I'm always 'too precipitate,' he says, and I 'jump at conclusions!' This time I shall go slowly; I must think out just what it is best to say. It would only make matters worse to blurt out everything in my usual headlong way. He won't believe me. No sane man would believe me, when I say I don't remember what B— wrote me; and yet can give no excuse whatever for having thrown the letter away. Oh! dear, Oh! dear! what have I done to deserve all this? I know perfectly well that I only acted a little cute and vivacious, as any married lady – not an old fright – would have done. I only did it to please John. A man always loves to have other men envy him – and how can they, unless they admire his wife, and think her charming?
"And now this silly creature has gone and fallen head over heels in love with me. These foreigners are so absurdly emotional. Maybe he'll dog our steps all over Europe – and even take passage back to America with us on the Lusitania. I'm the most miserable woman alive! I can't tell John. I simply can't. I shall just wait before I say a single word, for some way out of the whole thing may suddenly occur to me. Anyway, it can do no harm to put off the evil hour as long as I can. I'm sure that miserable Bela man said he'd try to meet me at Spalato or Ragusa. That won't be for three or four days, at least. I wonder how on earth he found out when we expected to be there? He surely must have gotten it out of J—, for I'm sure – yes, absolutely sure – I never gave him the slightest inkling; altho he tried to make me, more than once. Maybe he really don't know our dates, but just guesses at our itinerary – for almost every one stops at Ragusa and Spalato. Maybe he will miss us, after all, and that will be the end of it. Of course, no one on earth will ever believe me, but I can most solemnly say I never gave the fellow the slightest encouragement – never! Being a sane woman I naturally couldn't help being conscious of how he looked at me – of how he devoured me with his eyes; but, a cat can look at the queen. As mother always says, I am so vivacious, and my hair is so blond, and my eyes so blue, people always look at me; so I must be much more careful than other girls, who are not so striking in their appearance. Now I'm sorry I wore my white lace waist – it's such a peek-a-boo – and as John says (or at least I know he thinks so), in my full white togs I really don't look a day over twenty. My duck skirt does fit like a dream, altho it is almost too snug for comfort when I walk. But, oh dear! I'll never put it on again. After this, I'll never try to look neat and trim and do John credit, any more. I've learned a lesson, a sad lesson, and one which I will never forget while I live. But I must not lose my nerve, now. Maybe that wretch will miss us; so I shall do my very best to forget that he exists. Anyway, we will soon be at Traü, and he can't meet me there. I am going to be happy. Yes, I shall be just as happy as I can, for I must not let J— guess a thing. No, not a single thing!"
As soon as we steamed out of Sebenico's little winding channel we were right in the open sea. In a few minutes we rounded a rocky promontory known as Diomedis. I don't know what the name means, but it is a very dangerous point which has been famous, or infamous, for thousands of years for causing innumerable shipwrecks. High up on the rocks is a dear little votive chapel built by the pious captain of a wine lugger, in recognition of the Madonna having saved him from death in a terrible storm, brewed by the Bora, many years ago. The wine merchant was so grateful for his deliverance that he promised the Virgin a chapel upon the very spot. It is said in his religious fervor he set about carrying out his vow without a moment's unnecessary delay, and in his enthusiasm used up his whole cargo of fine Malvasian wine to mix the mortar for his chapel. I think it is delightful to know that those pious Dalmatians always kept their promises in the old days, whether they do now, or not. Everywhere we go we hear stories of vows made, and no matter how poor the people were, or what they agreed to do, they seem always to have kept their word.
Traü is an adorable little town. From the moment you see the Marina, with old Castel Camerlengo with its battlemented walls, you are charmed with it. Traü dates back so far, that many of the other ancient places seem to be almost modern, by comparison. Strabo, the ancient historian, states distinctly that it was founded by Greek Sicilians from the Island of Lissa, about the year 380 B.C. It was originally known as Tragurium, and afterward became a Roman colony. Pliny mentions it as having been noted in his day for fine marble, and Constantine – the Porphyrogenitus one – places Tragurium among the Roman cities he describes. He says it took its name from the isthmus on which it was situated, being shaped like a watermelon. Other authorities, however, believe it was named for Troghilon, the city from which many of its Greek founders came. The melon-shaped peninsula no longer exists, having been cut through ages ago. So now Traü is on a little island joined to the mainland by a primitive wooden bridge. Just opposite the city is the adjacent island of Bua, which lies so close to its neighbor that our steamer docked in the middle of the stream between the two, and at the same time had a gangplank reaching out to each pier.
For centuries the Huns, Franks, Byzantines, Genoese, Croats and Venetians fought over Traü, and early in the fourteenth century Venice secured the prize. In later times it again fell under the domination of Hungary, and in 1806 was taken by Napoleon's army. But the Austrians secured it in 1813, and Austrian it still remains.
Like Rome, the city had seven gates, but of these only three now remain. The one close to the old fortress is called the Porta Marina. You can still see the ancient iron gates, hanging on their time-worn hinges, and over them the Lion of St. Mark continues to look down solemnly on the crowds below. This lion is famous. He differs from the ordinary specimen for, altho he has the regulation wings and book, his book is not inscribed, "Peace to thee my Saint Mark, the Evangelist," as we often see it. His book of the law is now closed. It was open once, and so remained until the day when Venice lost her dominion. Then, when the sun rose next morning, people saw with amazement that the proud lion had closed his book, and shut it has remained to this day.
It was a great pity to have this story spoiled, by being informed that the gate was built at a time when Venice was at war, and that is the reason why the book is shown closed. There are always disagreeable people around who delight to tell "the plain truth," iconoclasts who always have ready a bucket of cold water to dampen our enthusiasm, and spoil everything by a minute exposition of the facts in the case. Our informant was a most courteous, but punctilious old gentleman, whose one desire seemed to be to rob Traü of every vestige of romance. We lost no time in parting company with him, for fear he would ruin everything with his precise statements of the "real facts." I simply refused to believe a word of his story; greatly preferring the marvelous account of the lion himself, in high dudgeon, having closed his book.
Why is it so many people are ever ready to wed themselves to ugly Fact, without even the faintest conception of the attractiveness of her young and charming sister, Fiction? Fact is a hideous, cross-grained old beldame, who would have us endeavor to find the exact dimensions of every sunbeam before we permit ourselves to bask in the sunshine; a cold, puritanical old crone, who would rob life of all its charm if only she could have her way; a sour and sordid old hag, ever ready to tear from young Romance his lovely blue satin girdle, and his cap, with long, waving plumes, that she may clothe him in jean overalls, and substitute for his twanging guitar a pick and shovel. Plain Fact is plain, and unlovely. She would "cull the flowers of fancy" but only to make them of "some practical use" – served up as boiled spinach. I confess I cling fast to the lovely ideal and abhor the unlovely real – exactly as I prefer the perfume and beauty of flowers to the taste of boiled spinach.
So, just as soon as I could, I got John away from the prosaic old gentleman on the Marina, who so kindly, but mistakenly, desired to enlighten us. I'm afraid I wasn't very cordial or polite to him; for I wasn't feeling particularly sunny, and his slow and painfully precise English wearied me, and made me feel actually cross.
But the lovely Renaissance Porta St. Giovanni restored my good humor. It has a fine lion in an oblong panel over the arched gate, and on top is a life-sized statue of the good saint himself, holding his pastoral staff in one hand, his other raised in blessing. Below the figure, on each side of the gate, are two little lamps which burn perpetually in his honor. Most interesting of all is the little bush which has sprung up miraculously from between the stones at the feet of the lion, and almost hides him from view. Professor Eitelberger says the Morlacchi firmly believe the saint himself is responsible for the little cedar which has endured without soil for centuries, and that he has nourished and sustained it, "to hide from view the sign of the hated symbol of Venice." The color of the bush is always a sign of what the year is to be; for if it is fresh and green the harvest will be abundant, but if pale and yellow, the season will be poor for vineyards.
My delight in the old gateway with its beneficent, wonder-working saint, the perpetually burning lamps and the bush-covered lion would have been great, only our exact friend of the Marina (who delighted in "facts") had taken the pains to inform us that the miraculously sustained little cedar was dead! He said it had died several years ago. "In May, 1906," to quote his words exactly. But I don't believe it. I won't! Even if it looks dead, I feel sure the old root between the stones, isn't. Some day it will again answer the call of the saint, and send up a shoot fresh and green to be kissed by the sun. Let us hope that this new little cedar will endure for still longer centuries, to do honor to the power of the saint and for the satisfaction of citizens of Traü, and the delight of tourists.
But if the closed book of the Porta Marina lion and the bush which concealed the lion on the Porta St. Giovanni were partly spoiled for me by our misguided friend – who really only wanted to use his good English, I suppose – still we got rid of him, fortunately, before he had time to rob anything else of its charm. Nothing in all Traü was to me more charming than the story of this very St. Giovanni who smiled down upon us so benignly from over the gateway.
He was born in Rome, of that very "noble family of Orsini" – which repudiated our Giorgio, all his life, notwithstanding his talent, but which acknowledged his grandson, Giacomo, because he was a lawyer. But Giovanni was much more than a mere noble, he was a man of brains, not only an astronomer, a mechanician, and an engineer, but an all-round scientist. Wonderful things are told of him while he was still a young man living in Traü.
It is said that the Traürini, having heard of his great piety and learning, desired to have him for their bishop. All the city knew the story of how he had dismissed his servants, and how frugally he lived. The whole town rang with accounts of how he passed his days in constant fasting and prayer, and continually mortified his flesh by wearing a hair shirt, sleeping upon a couch of thorns, and doing all sorts of most uncomfortable things. His fame was great, and in 1064 he was duly made bishop of Traü.
The ancient historian, Celio Cega, and Professor Eitelberger, both give detailed accounts of the miracles wrought by Giovanni. "Miracles of which science surely was utterly guiltless," Eitelberger frankly declares. The story is told that if Bishop Orsini only placed his hand on the wine-press, an abundant supply of wine immediately gushed forth. Once when there was a terrific storm, he walked out on the sea, and without wetting his feet rescued the entire crew of a shipwrecked bark. At another time he hurled a small stone from a sling, à la David, and demolished the battering-ram with which the foe were attacking the gates of the city, utterly routing the enemy and putting the foe to flight. But the final proof of his holiness is the prettiest story of all. It seems that one morning a beautiful snow-white dove entered the church, and after whirling about over the heads of the startled congregation, softly alighted upon the bowed head of the holy bishop who was saying Mass.
It is small wonder, therefore, that Giovanni's fame increased after his death – which he himself had accurately foretold. "He died upon the thorns of his accustomed couch with the greatest sanctity." Most wonderful miracles took place – but what they were, most unfortunately, is not related. His sacred body was reverently placed in an ark or tomb, and carefully preserved in the church.
From over the Adriatic came the Venetians, in 1171, and sacked the city. This time the marauders were under command of the Doge Vitale Michieli. They set an example of pillage and looting in the Christian city of Traü, which others, under Doge Dandolo, followed thirty years afterward in Zara.
Searching for treasure, they carried off the ark of the bishop, and broke it open. Seeing a large and splendid ring upon the finger of the skeleton they tried to take it off, but the jewel miraculously resisted all efforts to displace it. Enraged at being unable to secure it, they tore off the whole arm of the bishop, and tossed the dismembered body on the shore. In spite of the manner in which they had acquired the precious relic, they took it back with them to Venice and enshrined it in the church of St. Giovanni di Rialto. And here it was kept, in spite of the most urgent entreaties of the Traürini to have the missing part of their bishop restored to them. The answer returned to their appeal for the restitution of their property only added insult to injury – for they were scornfully informed that "The relic receives greater honor in Venice than any which Traü can give it."
But Giovanni himself, the Traürini firmly believe, was not satisfied to have his holy body dismembered, for "he would be all their own." Consequently, on the anniversary of his festa, the stolen arm miraculously returned. A white object had been noticed "flying through the air," and shortly after, the missing arm was discovered resting upon the top of the ark, "wrapt in a fine white linen cloth." As the distance from Venice to Traü is considerable, even by aerial route, the linen covering was a wise precaution to insure the protection of the precious relic during its long and dusty journey.
It is not surprizing that Giovanni was beatified twenty-one years later, for his fame as a wonder-worker had increased with the years. Of course, prosaic folks who "stick to plain fact" may prefer to believe that the stolen arm was returned by parcel post from Venice, by Doge Sebastiani Ziani, and that the bishop's canonization was "the reward given by Rome for his having supprest the Slavonic ritual in Traü, in favor of the Latin service of the Eternal City." But such hair-splitting need not bother us, for no matter why or wherefore, Giovanni Orsini, first Bishop of Traü, was beatified in the year 1192.
But even in the twelfth century, apparently, there were jealous ecclesiastics and "doubting Thomases"; for it is recorded that a certain aged abbot openly questioned the propriety of having made a saint of the bishop, and he even dared openly to express his doubts of the beatified gentleman's sanctity and miraculous power. But he was soon convinced, and well punished, too; for he was stricken with palsy, and after that, neither churchmen nor laity ever cared to express any further doubts. After more than seven hundred years, St. Giovanni remains the patron saint of Traü, and still looks after the well-being and prosperity of his city and its faithful inhabitants.
Judging from his kindly figure, which looks down benignly from the top of the old gateway, and from statues of him all over the city, St. Giovanni is not only a wonder-working saint, but in life had a charming personality. He must have been a worthy bishop and a splendid man. No wonder the Traürini love him and reverence his memory.
It is often said that while "the duomo is the pride of Traü, its western portal is the glory of all Dalmatia." This most famous doorway is entered through a splendid porch, or narthex, which forms a magnificent vestibule, adding much to the superb dignity of the church. The portico is technically known as a Galileo porch, and is really most beautiful, but I would have admired it more if it had not so darkened the doorway, with all its wealth of detail. We found it almost impossible to get a good photograph in the subdued light under it. Outside there was the most radiant sunshine, but within, the portico was only somber twilight.
No one need expect fully to appreciate the duomo' s splendid door unless conversant with the whole Bible from "kiver to kiver." And they should have an acquaintance, too, with all the beasts, birds, and things, which came out of Noah's ark, if they desire to study understandingly its most diversified details. The ornate decoration of Antonio's door at Sebenico pales into insignificance before this wonderful specimen of fertile fancy.
LION'S DOORWAY OF THE CATHEDRAL
On each side of the door are two lions on low pedestals, with Adam and Eve above them, as in Sebenico. These lions have manes like an Elizabethan ruff, and our first parents each stiffly hold their fig-leaves in place with their left hand, while Adam's right hand grasps his neck as if he had a sore throat, and Eve lays hers upon her heart, as if to say – like the leading lady in the melodrama – "Be still my heart." They really are so horribly medieval as to be funny. No sane person can doubt, after seeing them, that the human family has improved in appearance – provided these figures are a good likeness of our progenitors. But the rest of the door is really fine. Jackson says: "The solemn splendor of the sumptuous western portal of the nave, the glory not of Traü only but of the whole province, is a work which, in simplicity of conception, combined with richness of detail and marvelous finish of execution, has never been surpassed in Romanesque or Gothic art."
An imperfect inscription on the square lintel gives the date of the doorway as 1240. It has the semicircular tympanum so universally seen in Dalmatia, this one showing the Nativity. It is very odd. In the central space, draped off by curtains, is seen (in the top picture) a sculpture showing the Virgin in bed with the holy Child beside her in a rude cradle, above which appear the heads of two animals, an ox and an ass. Over the Mother and Child hover angels; one of them holds up a star from which a flood of light streams down upon the Child.
In the lower scene are two women, one of whom pours water into a tub in which the other washes the infant, while Joseph watches the performance with great interest. On each side of the curtained space are figures. On the left are shepherds and sheep, and on the right the three kings ride up to do homage. All this is contained just above the lintel of the door, in the tympanum alone.
On the outside "order," in the middle of the sculptured bands, the subject is the Crucifixion, with the Virgin and St. John, which naturally has the position of greatest importance, the center of the arched band above the door. Taking the scenes depicted in sequence, beginning at the bottom of one of the sculptured bands on the left, are: The flight into Egypt, the entry into Jerusalem, the marriage at Cana, the scourging of our Lord, the Resurrection, the casting out of devils, the baptism of Christ, and many other subjects "too numerous to mention," as the guide-books express it.
I confess I would have failed to discover what many of the pictures were supposed to represent, had I not been told, for some of the sculptured scenes are very peculiar. For instance, the casting out of devils shows a figure, half-man, half-demon, with little wings growing out of his legs; while many of the carvings are imperfect, being badly defaced.
On the outer jambs are three apostles on each side, in medallions formed of leaves and scrolls. Those on Adam's side of the door have each a halo, while those on Eve's have none. But two of her apostles make up for their lack in nimbi by having ornate little canopies over their heads.
There are a bewildering number of animals shown on this famous "western portal." There are goats, sheep, elephants, rhinoceroses, flying horses, dolphins, and sea-serpents, beside weird scenes, showing a horrible creature of some sort swallowing a scroll, from which dangles the severed head of a man, a woman riding a bull with a serpent's tail, Pan with the horns, hoofs, and hide of a goat – to say nothing of wood-choppers, leather workers, and martial figures fighting with swords and shields, wild boars, savage lions, and other ferocious beasts. This, I think, is truly the most wonderful collection of subjects, both human and divine, I have ever seen carved upon one portal. Jackson, himself, declares it is "unsurpassed in marvelous finish of execution."
No matter how hurried one's inspection of the doorway has to be, no one should fail to notice particularly the queer scene showing the man cooking sausages. He holds a link of sausage in a ladle over a boiling pot with one hand, while with the other he extends a cup, in which another figure is pouring water – or maybe it is beer – to go with the string of cooked Wienerwursts which hang up on the wall behind them. I suppose it wasn't intended to be funny, but it is. No matter how tired or how weary you may be, I feel sure you will not be able to look at the man cooking sausages without a broad smile. I admit I laughed outright, in spite of the warning nudge John gave me, owing to the proximity of a number of pious Traürini.
Notwithstanding the conglomeration of subjects, the western portal of the duomo is magnificently designed and the work is finished as if it had been carved in ivory instead of stone. It is believed that the whole doorway was the work of a Latinized Croat, named Radovan, whose name appears on the lintel, who "rivaled, if he did not surpass, the Romanesque artists of the other side of the Adriatic." The door originally formed the entrance to the royal chapel of the Croatian castle of Bihač, which afterward became the palace of the Hungarian kings. It was situated about four miles outside of Traü, but was abandoned some time in the fourteenth century. Today this splendid portal is all of the structure which remains.
INTERIOR OF LOGGIA
What shall I say of the interior of the duomo? How can I hope to express in words its somber magnificence, and how it imprest me? While in construction the cathedral is quite simple, the effect is massive and wonderfully imposing. It is dimly lit. Little light filters in through the shaded portals and deeply inset windows.
As we stept within the great edifice, a profound solemnity seemed to envelop us – a solemnity and silence which we could feel. Unconsciously we spoke low, and trod softly. We were not conscious of the great stone arches which rose in majestic splendor far above us, nor of the long nave with its ponderous cross of lamps, which slowly swung to and fro, high above our heads. We did not see the magnificent baldacchino, with its lovely gabled roof, over the high altar; nor did we notice the intricately carved pulpit, and the double rows of old Venetian choir-stalls, altho they were right before us.
The sunny Piazza outside, with its noise and crowds, was forgotten. I no longer was an American sightseer, the very world had ceased to exist for me. My soul was touched by the sublime stillness, and the overpowering solemnity. A mist dimmed my eyes. I was silent. No longer conscious that I stood in the old cathedral at Traü, I only knew that this was the House of God – and that He was here!
Humble and contrite I stole away to pray, as I had never prayed before. Thrilled with reverent awe, my eyes were blinded with tears, but I felt my soul uplifted with a great joy.
SPALATO, AND DIOCLETIAN'S PALACE
TURNING once more to the diary: "Traü was splendid! Of course it was very different from Zara, but I liked it just as well. Everything was so interesting, I completely forgot all about that wretched Bela note. I didn't have to pretend to be happy – for I really was. It was quite a shock to have to realize that that Bela man has actually had the astounding impudence to write me. It seems so absurdly improbable – just like some silly nightmare. Oh! how I wish I could believe I had simply imagined it. But anyway, I'm determined not to let it darken our trip. I shall treat him with freezing dignity, when he does come; I shall be distinctly polite, and merely languidly surprized to see him. I'm sure the very wisest thing I can do is to ignore utterly that note, and I shall ignore it, even in my thoughts. How I detest and loathe a conceited idiot who would dare to insult a lady by writing to her, simply because she was decently polite to him. Really and truly, I've racked my brains, but I can not remember a single thing I did or said which any sane man could even construe into giving him encouragement, let alone lead him to think I would permit him to follow me. Of course, I saw in his eyes his absurd infatuation, and it did amuse me; and while I admit he did squeeze my arm once or twice, still I wasn't conceited enough to think he meant anything by that. These foreign men, I know perfectly well, make love desperately to every woman they meet, and the next moment forget she exists. Surely no woman can be blamed, just because a man makes a silly fool of himself! I do so wish that John wasn't so punctilious and absurdly 'proper,' for if he were a sensible man about such things, I never would have gotten flustered when I saw him coming and thrown that note away. But enough of regrets. Nothing really matters so long as my conscience is clear – and I know that I am not in the least to blame. But, sometimes, I really wish I was a brunette, and my hair wasn't curly; or that I was old, and fat! No, no, I must not say that – that is wicked. Then, too, it may come true, and all too soon! I wonder if John would love me if I had two or three chins, and waddled, instead of walked.
"The duomo made me actually cry – it was so terribly somber and impressive. I felt so small, so insignificant and worthless, I was overcome, and the tears streamed right down my cheeks. I stole off by myself; I couldn't bear to have even John speak to me. It was so terribly solemn, I felt glad to go into the little chapel of St. Giovanni, their patron saint. It has a fine 'coffered ceiling' – which is a good name, for it looks exactly like rows of coffers or little paneled drawers. In the center of each is a cherub's head, with wings. In the middle space is a half-length figure of Christ holding an orb in his left hand, while his right is raised in blessing. There are a number of life-size figures of the Evangelists in niches around the wall, and above the altar, which stands out in the middle of the floor, is a white marble ark with twisted columns.
"The ark is dated 1348, and it has an effigy of St. Giovanni on the lid. In it is carefully preserved the once mutilated body of the saint, and the ark is suspended high over the altar so that no modern vandal can reach it. Oh! I must not forget to mention the old organ, made by one of the brothers, whose name I have forgotten. The wings of this organ were painted by Giovanni Bellini. A new one was put in, in 1767, and since that time the wings have been placed on the first pier in the duomo, where they still are. Bellini it was who taught Titian, and painted his own portrait – which we saw in Rome.
"The Piazza at Traü is lovely! It has the duomo on one side and just opposite is the very finest loggia we have seen anywhere! It has five white marble semi-circular steps leading up to it, exactly like the palaces on the Grand Canal. I remember that some one has said this loggia is one of the finest in all Dalmatia. It has two open sides and splendid columns, and the Byzantine work is particularly famous. The capitals are a mass of beautiful scrolls and leaves, so deeply 'under cut' that the design stands out like lace work. One end of the loggia, close by the side wall of the clock-tower, has on this wall a great stone slab covered with sculptures. The stone table and ancient seat where the judges sat are just under it. Altho the pavement and roof of the loggia have had to be repaired, the old sculptures on the wall above the time-worn seat are still unmarred. On the top is shown Justice seated on a winged sphere. On each side are half-length figures with scrolls, on which complimentary things are written about her. But they certainly were not true, in those horrible old days; for then, there was no such thing as real justice! Below is a splendid lion, with his book, who looks every inch the king of beasts, and the sign manual of St. Mark, and the power of Venice. On each side of him are saints; the one to his right is St. Giovanni, the good Bishop Orsini, sheltering fondly in his arms a little model of the city of Traü, he loved so well; the other is St. Lorenzo, with his gridiron. There are lots of escutcheons, showing the arms of the noble families who were in power when the loggia was built, and many inscriptions in Latin which give the date of the different repairs and additions.
"We saw the place beside the judge's seat where unfortunates were chained to hear their sentences. Altho Justice with her scales was right over the culprit's head, the light-fingered gentry had a terribly hard time in Traü in olden times. Ancient laws exist in which the penalty for a small theft was the loss of one or both eyes, or the thief's nose was cut off. If the theft was of the value of even a couple of dollars, the victim was hung up by his head, in the Piazza, until dead. Doctors, in the pay of the city, were fined if they left it without a permit; and while spinning was prohibited in the Piazza, gambling was a crime if committed anywhere else. As the unfortunates were punished just outside the loggia, I was delighted to think we were not there in those cruel days. I certainly much prefer to hear, in the radiant sunshine of a twentieth century day, the terrible tales of what happened in the quaint old Piazza in ancient times, than to have been present when some poor wretch was having his nose cut off or his eyes put out, for stealing a few soldi. It makes me so happy to know that this poor old world is growing better every day – in spite of all the bad things some people say of it. The ancient square is just as picturesque as it ever was, and yet all the barbarous laws and cruel punishments are forever past. At the back of the loggia are the remains of the very narrow little church of St. Barbara, now used as a storehouse, and not worth a visit; but the old convent of St. Nicolò is charming! It was founded way back in 1064, by St. Giovanni – then, just the Bishop Orsini – for ladies of noble family, and it is still a Benedictine nunnery. It has a lovely, quaint and peaceful court, in which the gentle, dark-eyed sisters continue 'to tell their beads, and read their breviaries, in the shade of the ancient cloister.'
"On our way to the steamer, we went to see the home of the famous Giovanni Lucio, 'Father of Dalmatian history,' who was born in Traü, in 1614. While studying in Rome, he decided to return to Traü and devote his life to research and to writing his country's history. It seems that the Lucio family had long had a feud with their patrician neighbors named Andreas. Paolo, a son of this house, upon learning that Lucio was making a study of the city's archives, suspected him of having an ulterior motive – or at least he pretended he did. The truth is that Paolo, himself, was writing a history of Traü, so, naturally, he was jealous of Lucio, altho I don't suppose it could have been so hard to get a book published then as it is now. But, any way, Paolo was hateful and tricky, and he told tales to the governor, the powerful Count Contarini, accusing Lucio of searching the records, to try to prove that Venice had violated her promises. Now it happened that just at this time the noble Venetian, who had supreme authority in Traü, decided to pay the city a visit, and most unfortunately selected Lucio's palace as his place of residence.
"Giovanni being busy with his work – not even knowing of his neighbor's perfidious tale and having a very ill sister in his house at the time – tried to excuse himself from having to entertain the undesired guest. Count Contarini immediately became enraged, and believed all that Paolo had told him, and more, too. He didn't even wait for any proof, but had Lucio imprisoned, confining him with the low-born galley slaves. Only the pleadings of Lucio's bishop prevented him suffering the still worse degradation of being publicly bastinadoed. Poor Lucio had ample time to regret his lack of hospitality, and to bemoan the trouble his want of tact had caused; for he was kept 'in durance vile' a long time. Fortunately, the Contarini paid another visit – this time to 'that bourne from which no traveler returns' – so Lucio was released, as there was no proof against him. He left Traü at once and went to Rome, where he wisely remained. His fine old palace has sadly fallen from its once grand estate. The lovely cortile remains, with its magnificent old well in the center, and you can still see the original Renaissance doors and windows which open on the courtyard; but the entire sea-front of the building has been so entirely modernized it is hardly recognizable. Close by, is the old home of Paolo, also sadly defaced. The noble families have vanished; their abodes, the scene of past grandeur, are now squalid and forlorn, tenanted only by that gaunt pair, Time, and his hideous mate, Decay! (I'm quite proud of that – it sounds fine! I must read it to John.)
"But I mustn't write one word more about Traü, for we are almost at Spalato! Now, I must give my whole attention to that old reprobate Diocletian, whose once magnificent palace is now the little huddled up city of Spalato. But before I forget it I must write down the ridiculous scare I had. Just as we were going up the steps into the loggia, to better examine the sculptures over the judge's seat, my heart almost stood still. For there, right beside us, was that smirking creature who gave me B— 's note! I clutched at John, but the next moment I laughed outright; for, altho the fellow had the little, dinky red cap and the huge blue trousers, it wasn't the same man at all. He only wanted to sell us some postcards. I felt so relieved that I bought a dozen from him, altho we had already gotten all the cards we wanted, at a little shop. Oh, I do hope that that detestable Bela man will not meet us at Spalato! If he does, I really do not know what I shall do. I so wish I had told John about that letter at the time, and gotten it over with – for now I simply can not. It is too late for him to believe me; and as long as I live he'd be constantly throwing up to me that I did flirt with that insolent, conceited wretch.
"Our first glimpse of Spalato was wofully disappointing. It looked much more like a square fortress – built low and flat upon the shore – than a palace or an ancient city. Along the whole seafront runs a dilapidated wall in which are the remnants of the half-columns and arches of Diocletian's famous 'crypto-porticus,' once a lovely open gallery, where he no doubt walked in the evening. To-day, a row of cheap dwellings, squalid restaurants, and shabby houses, with small modern windows and green wooden shutters, are wedged in between the ancient arches, the mean and modern so crowding the majestic and antique that the only result is a motley jumble. But we arrived in the garish light of a July day. In the glowing sunlight which blazed down upon them the poor old arches and columns only looked dark, dirty, and dilapidated; while the intense glare brought out every squalid detail of the unsightly buildings which were crowded in between them. But everything was changed when we walked upon the Marina, a few hours later; for the sunset clothed the old city with an ephemeral glory. In the fading light all the harsh lines and crudity completely disappeared, and Spalato was metamorphosed! In imagination I could bring back the time when this was not a city founded by the refugees who had been driven from their homes at Salona, but the magnificent imperial residence of that all-powerful emperor, who, tiring of his purple robes and his diadem as an Augustus of Rome, had retired from office, to spend his last years in this palace by the tranquil sea, in the land he had known and loved in childhood. He had been raised by Fate to the highest pinnacle of earthly greatness. He ruled Rome – and Rome ruled the world. But within his heart he still kept enshrined the humble Dalmatian land of his birth.
"Of course, everybody knows something about the Roman Empire – at least they did when they were going to school. I frankly confess I couldn't remember much about Diocletian, except that we had seen his baths in Rome, or at least the ruins of them; but John has told me all about him, and it is as interesting as a fairy tale. John is so smart, he never forgets anything; and he tells dry old historical facts so attractively that they become actually amusing. I noticed that quite a little group of people gathered round us on the boat, listening to what he said, altho they pretended they weren't. I felt so proud of John, I wanted to hug him. He is so well read and yet so entirely unpretentious. And with all his dignity and brains he is so bright, so witty, so typically American. There are no men in all the world so splendid as ours!
"But I am forgetting Diocletian. I must write down what John told me before it slips from my mind. He was born in Diocles, Dalmatia, in 245 A.D., and took his name from his birthplace; for his parents were slaves owned by a rich Roman senator in whose family they lived. By his exceptional ability, his father raised himself to the position of 'scribe,' and later secured the freedom of his family. At an early age Diocletian entered the army, and by merit, or good luck, rose from the ranks to being an officer, and finally was made a general. John says he was a man of great ability, and it may be so, but to me it looks as if he had had phenomenal luck. For after being made a general, his followers proclaimed him emperor, and the Roman Senate thought it best to accede to the wish of the army; for the Prætorian Guards were the real power behind the throne. So by fate, or luck, or ability, or whatever it was, Diocletian, the son of the slave of Senator Anulinus, became a Roman Emperor, clothed in the imperial purple.
"Diocletian was a most remarkable potentate. Instead of sighing for 'more worlds to conquer,' before a year had passed he decided his empire was too large for one man to rule properly. So he sent for his army friend, Maximian, who had been his comrade in the ranks, and who, under Diocletian's powerful influence, had risen to be a general, and gave him an equal share of the imperial honors, making him an Augustus, like himself, and creating at the same time two Cæsars, with a rank and power only second to his own.
"Politics were not so very different in those days, after all. For it is a rather significant fact that Galerius, one of the newly made Cæsars, was Diocletian's son-in-law; and that Constantius Chlorus, the father of the great Constantine, was made to divorce his wife Helen – the very Helen who afterward built the Church of the Nativity and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, and was canonized as Saint Helen – so that he could marry Maximian's stepdaughter. The wheels within wheels do not even stop here, for Maximian later, on the death of Constantine the Great's first wife, married him to his daughter Fausta – exactly as he had married his father to his stepdaughter – and this, too, after having caused Constantius to divorce Helen, Constantine's own mother, to do it! But the wicked old matchmaker got paid off in the end as he richly deserved.
"After having ruled successfully as Augustus, with Maximian and the two Cæsars to help him, Diocletian grew so weary of his exalted position that he determined to retire. He hinted to his colleague that it was time, also, for him to give up office and let the two Cæsars show what they could do as Augusti. But Maximian demurred. He made the excuse that he wanted to complete his twenty years of public service. Diocletian agreed to this, and decided to stay in office himself another year so they could retire together – which they did May the first in the year 305 A.D.
"But the strange thing is to know it wasn't really in the year 305 A.D. at all; but actually Anno Domini 309! In the reign of the first Augustus (Caius Octavius, Julius Cæsar's adopted son) 'A little child was born in Bethlehem in Judea,' whose coming was 'the most momentous event – not alone in the age of Augustus, but for all ages – in the spiritual history of the world.' When our present method of reckoning was first introduced in the fifth century, an error was made amounting to four years and six days. So, reckoned in our common era, the birth of our Lord actually occurred in the year 4 Before Christ, or 4 B.C. The discrepancy wasn't discovered for ten centuries. Appalled at the confusion which would arise in civil and ecclesiastical affairs if the date of everything for so many centuries had to be changed, it was decided to say nothing about it, since it was thought better to let the year Anno Domini remain four years and six days out of the way.
"Now, of course, the error in reckoning makes every one's dates wrong. For instance, instead of having been born in 1888 A.D., I was really born in the year of our Lord 1892 – so it can not possibly be an untruth to say so! And, what's more, it certainly isn't necessary to explain about the discrepancy every time I mention the year of my birth. Surely no one can be expected to go through the world telling everybody all the things they don't know. But it's a great pity I never heard of the error before; for I could have used it with a clear conscience so many times, and it would have been so much nicer, than to have had to tell so many 'fibs' about my age.
"I really can not begin to remember all the things John told me about Spalato, but I know it was more than twelve years in building. Even then the work had to be hurried, in order to get the palace ready for the 'world-weary emperor,' as some historians call him. Diocletian was induced to fight the Christians by Galerius, his son-in-law, who hated them. He so inflamed Diocletian's mind against them by infamous lies, that he succeeded in getting the emperor to persecute them horribly.
"Diocletian believed that Christians set fire to his palace, and committed other criminal acts, and that they were a sect dangerous to the empire. Some people believe the emperor, as a punishment for his sins, was afflicted by a terrible disease, which caused him such extreme agony that he could no longer reign; but no one really knows why he decided to surrender his imperial throne – 'giving up his gorgeous purple robes, casting aside his golden scepter, and relinquishing forever the royal diadem which he, of Roman emperors, had been the first to wear.' What we know is that he and Maximian did abdicate, and that their two sons-in-laws, the Cæsars, Galerius and Constantius, were duly raised to the exalted rank of Augusti, with a great flourish of trumpets.
"Immediately after his abdication, Diocletian, with a retinue of adherents, retired to the palace he had constructed for himself near the then flourishing and ancient city of Salona. Having been a Roman general, it is not surprizing that his villa was built on the plan of an armed camp. It was rectangular in shape, and surrounded by massive walls. Two principal avenues, crossing each other at right angles, divided his domain, of about ten acres in extent, into four main sections. In those days Diocletian's 'Palatium' must have been magnificent. It had temples and squares, imperial apartments, and buildings capable of lodging his Prætorian cohort, besides nobles and innumerable attendants. There were spacious baths and lovely colonnades, a majestic peristyle and graceful porticos, forming 'a little world within the walls, of which much still remains,' after sixteen hundred years! Here Diocletian, surrounded by every luxury, spent the last years of his life in peace and comfort – unless he really suffered agony from rheumatism, as some people believe he did, as a just retribution for his sins.
"I don't believe it; but in any case, he soon had the satisfaction of knowing he had done a wise thing in abdicating, exchanging turmoil and intrigue for tranquility and peace. Misfortunes came thick and fast upon his friend Maximian (whom John facetiously styles 'the original Progressive'). He hadn't been out of office a year, before he tired of 'the simple life,' and began to urge Diocletian to join him in resuming the purple, to 'save the country.' Then it was that the Sage of the Palatium indited that famous reply, written on his best waxen tablet, tied with linen thread, and duly knotted, sealed with wax, and stamped by his own signet ring: 'Never was I so happy and content, my Maximian, in the imperial robes ruling the world as I am here, cultivating cabbages in my little garden.'
"Maximian thirsted for power, and willingly listened to his son, Maxentius, who, for reasons of his own, advised his father to don once more the imperial purple – believing it would help his own chances of becoming Cæsar. The plan worked perfectly; but very soon the army mutinied and Maxentius seized the opportunity to banish his father. He fled for refuge to the court of Constantine the Great, who had become Cæsar on the death of his father, the Emperor, and at the same time had been cajoled by Maximian into marrying his daughter Fausta. No sooner, however, had the old man become Constantine's guest, than he again felt called upon to don the purple for the good of the country. When his son-in-law objected to his assumption of power, he took his daughter Fausta aside, and confided to her that he had a little plan by which he would get rid of her husband, so that he, himself, could reign. Fausta listened to all her father had to say, and then ran and told Constantine every word. He forthwith laid a trap for Maximian and caught him in the act when he tried to stab him while he slept, after which he informed his guest that he must die, but that he could chose his manner of exit. Maximian chose strangulation, and thus closed his earthly career, only a couple of years after Diocletian had settled down at Spalato to enjoy himself while raising his famous cabbages.
"Galerius, on becoming Emperor, at once directed all his fury against the Christians. For eight terrible years they had little rest; persecution raged. All who refused to burn incense to the gods were tortured or slain. 'The whip, the rack, the tigers, hooks of steel, and red-hot beds continued to do their deadly work.' And then, in A.D. 311, when life was slipping away, Galerius was converted. On his death-bed he published an edict permitting the Christians to worship God in their own way.
"Diocletian not only lived long enough to learn that his son-in-law, who had himself incited the persecutions of the Christians, had become an eleventh-hour convert, but in the last year of his life he must have heard how the Great Constantine, marching to give battle at the Milvian Bridge near Rome (to that very Maxentius who was Maximian's son), saw a luminous cross in the sky above the meridian sun with the words ἔν τούτῳ νίκα or, in the more familiar Latin, In hoc vinces! and how, in the battle which followed, Constantine was victorious, and Maxentius and his retreating army were drowned in the Tiber, while endeavoring to escape across the rickety bridge.
"Strange stories, too, must have been whispered about the palace, as the wondrous account was related, again and again, of how, the night after the battle, the new God of the Christians appeared in a vision to Constantine, commanding him to become a Christian and to take the standard he had seen in the sky as his banner of the Cross, and to march under it, assuring him of victory over all his enemies.
"How the palace must have hummed with the news of Constantine's great victories. How often in those old days, after the great emperor and the crowds attending him had passed into the temple – to the sound of trumpets, crashing of cymbals, and tinkling of bells – the people must have gathered in the peristyle in little groups, discussing together the stirring news of the great world without the palace gates. And maybe – after the last of the flower-wreathed bulls and goats, and the little lambs with their gilded horns had been led away to be sacrificed to Æsculapius, favorite deity of their master Diocletian – the soldiers may have talked in low tones of the strange new banner of Constantine, that simple standard, the Labarum, with its mystic X – symbol of the Cross and of Him who bore it, a banner which, through unnumbered centuries yet to come, was to lead the Christian armies of the world in that greatest of all conflicts – the battle against sin.
"But poor old Diocletian cared nothing for what was taking place in the great world he had left – not even for the little world within his palace walls. Still faithful to the old gods, his eyes closed forever, in the very year in which Constantine the Great – son of his old friend and associate, the Cæsar Constantius Chlorus – issued his famous edict of Milan, A.D. 313, an edict which granted religious freedom throughout the Roman Empire.
"This is the story as John told it to me, and I think it was most interesting, particularly when we were here, actually upon the very spot where Diocletian lived and died. Now, with the story fresh in my mind, instead of just a collection of dilapidated walls, broken columns, time-darkened fragments, mere relics of antiquity 'dead as Hector,' I shall try to rebuild the palace and invest it with all its pristine glory.
"It is only nine o'clock, but I am very tired and sleepy, so I am going to bed. We have put up at the little Hotel Troccoli, in the Piazza dei Signori, in the Borge, or western side of the town. I must get rested for to-morrow, so I can start bright and early to 'do' Spalato. John is outside smoking (getting 'points' from a man he has met who can speak a little English). He told me to go to bed, for he saw I was tired out. And I am tired – too tired to think! And yet, one thought constantly oppresses me, and fills me with a strange dread – will that Bela man come?"
THE "PALATIUM" OF YESTERDAY, THE CITY OF TO-DAY
EVERY one who has been in London will remember Adelphi Terrace. It was built by four architects, all brothers (adelphi), and the four streets in the neighborhood of the terrace each received the Christian name of one of the brothers. Robert Street was named for the youngest, Robert Adam, who was not only an architect but a talented artist as well.
Desiring to supplement his knowledge of ancient architecture, he paid a visit to Spalato – or Spalatro as it was called a century and a half ago – to study its ruins. Altho the visit was made in July, 1757, the plans he drew of the original "palatium" remain, without exception, the most comprehensive and accurate which now exist. On his return to London, he published an immense folio dedicated "to His Imperial Majesty King George III.," explaining in his preface that: "They who aim at eminence in either the knowledge or practise of architecture find it necessary to view with their own eyes the works of the ancients which remain, that they may catch from them those ideas of grandeur and beauty which nothing, perhaps, but such observation can suggest."
One of the time-yellowed folios published by Robert Adam is now among the treasured volumes of the Congressional Library in Washington. In quaint old English, the text freely sprinkled with capitals and funny long ſ 'ſ for s's, Adam tells how the Venetian governor of Spalato, "unaccuftomed to fuch vifits of curiofity from ftrangerf," thought he was trying to study the plan of the fortifications, and had him arrested. By the aid of a Venetian general, who happened to be in town and warmly espoused his cause, Adam was released. But the careful governor, not entirely convinced that the Englishman was merely an ardent archeologist, had a soldier constantly detailed to act as "escort," which Adam admits caused him to "hurry the work as much as possible, fearing further interruption."
The maps in this folio are huge in size, measuring at least two feet by four, but we were fortunate enough to get a wee copy of the "palatium" as Adam reconstructed it, which is not only of much interest but a great help in explaining what remains. Added to this, we brought away a small map of the present city of Spalato, which a gentleman at our hotel presented to John; or I should say half a map, for that is all it is, but it shows that portion of the city which contains the principal buildings and most important remains. As everything here is cluttered up and jumbled together, it is well to have a plan of some sort to go by, for it will save time and trouble.
BIRD'S EYE VIEW OF PALACE RESTORED
"LE PALAIS DE DIOCLÉTIAN"
RELEVÉ, BY HÉBRARD
Originally the palace was almost square, and it had four gates, one for each point of the compass, in the center of the north, south, east, and west walls. Three of these gateways of Diocletian's own day remain still in use, serving to give access to the older part of the city which has grown up within the shelter of the ancient walls. Each is well worth careful inspection.
Two broad avenues (which Adam precisely states were in width "thirty-five feet and five inches") run directly north and south, and east and west, connecting the four gates and dividing the palatium into four almost equal parts. The northern gate, or Porta Aurea, is decidedly the most imposing. It is still massive, and must have looked like a triumphal arch when Diocletian, in all his glory, passed into his palace through this portal. There are niches which contained life-sized figures on each side of the great square portal, and three more in the arcading of the upper story. Architects and antiquarians delight in this Porta Aurea, or Golden Gate, not only because it is so well preserved, but because the arcading is "the earliest instance of the use of an architectural ornament that was, later, to play so important a part in Romanesque and Gothic work." Like many other things in Spalato, this "miniature arcading" was extensively copied by architects, who, centuries before Adam's day, came here to study the palace "which the love of the beautiful and the munificence of Diocletian had made possible; work acomplished by artists capable of imitating with no inconsiderable success the style and manner of a purer age. The names and history of these great masters are now unknown, but their works which remain merit the highest applause, and the extent and fertility of their genius seem to have equaled the magnificence of the monarch by whom they were employed."
The avenue leading from the Golden Gate ran directly south through the old peristyle to the flight of steps leading to the portico of the vestibule, a building with a round dome, which stood at the entrance to the imperial apartments. Other steps led down beneath the vestibule and the emperor's private apartments to a dismal subterranean passage which still connects with the lower, or "sea-gate."
As we arrived by steamer, instead of driving or motoring over from Traü – which is by far the pleasanter way – we entered the city by this sea-gate, in the south wall under Diocletian's famous crypto-porticus. Once the water washed the walls, but now there is a broad, fine quay outside, well paved and
|A–||(North.) Porta Aurea ("golden gate").|
|B–||Street leading to Diocletian's apartments.|
|C–||(West.) Porta Ferrea ("iron gate")|
|D–||(East.) Porta Ænea ("brazen gate").|
|E–||Street from east to west gate.|
|F–||Piazza and Peristyle.|
|G–||Diocletian's Mausoleum. Now the Cathedral.|
|H–||Temple of Æsculapius. Now the Baptistery.|
|I–||Open court before the Temple of Æsculapius.|
|J–||Vestibule of the palace.|
|K–||Triclinia Tetrastyle (dining-room with four columns).|
|M–||Œcus Triclinium (large dining-room).|
|N–||Basilica (for theatricals and music).|
|O–||Atrium, (or great hall).|
|P–||Calida Piscina (lukewarm bath).|
|S–||Cubiculum Domitorium Diocletiani (Diocletian's bed-chamber), t. Room with moderate heat; u. Room with unguents for bath; v. steam room; w. cold bath not given in plan; x, furnace, etc.|
|T–||Gynecium (apartments for women and girls).|
|U–||Aulicorum Ædes (apartments of pretorian guards).|
|V–||Covered arcade on either side of the principal street.|
|W–||Old sea line (now the Marina).|
|X–||Vaulted cells around the exterior walls (slaves' quarters).|
|Y–||Crvpto-porticus (gallery for walking exercise, etc.).|
|Z–||The square and octagonal towers of the city wall.|
PLAN OF THE "PALATIUM"
AFTER PLAN OF ROBERT ADAM (1757)
planted with rows of trees. On entering the vaulted passage, which meanders along under houses which have been built where the emperor's palatial suite once was, it reminded me of nothing so much as a dark and slimy sewer. It was not only gruesome, but the walls were wet, and clumps of moss and tufts of grass and weeds had taken root between the interstices of the rocks over our heads. This tunnel is called by the Spalatrini, "La Grotta." By many twists and turns we at last reached the flight of steps which brought us out into the Piazza, once the peristyle.
After having made a tour of the subterranean vaults, it was more astonishing to learn that in ancient times the palace kitchens were situated here, so that up and down these steps a host of slaves, laden with dishes for the imperial "triclinium," must have passed.
It must be confest that the Grotta is far from being an attractive entrance. We ascertained, later, that the proper way to obtain an impression of the city is either through the Piazza dei Signori, and Porta Ferrea, the western gate, or, better still, by way of the northern gate, Porta Aurea, and along the adjoining lane, a narrow lane crowded with shops, which is all that is left of the once broad avenue now so encroached upon by dwellings that nothing remains but a wee little strip of daylight between the buildings.
Going straight down this street, we soon came to where the other street, running from the east gate to the west gate, crosses it at right angles. A few steps more brought us to the center of the palace, where remains of lovely old columns of the ancient peristyle stand right before us. Originally this part of the palace was composed of two parallel rows of open colonnades, formed of cipollino and rose-colored granite, leading directly to the steps of a Corinthian portico, or loggia, having four exquisitely carved columns of Egyptian granite. Jackson says: "Standing in the old peristyle with the blackened and defaced Corinthian colonnade on each side, the portico of the domed vestibule in front and two temples on either hand, it is not too much to say that so much of Roman handiwork surrounds one that the late buildings seem mere excrescences upon it, and in this respect no other inhabited relic of the old Roman Empire can be compared to Spalato."
PORTA AUREA (GOLDEN GATE)
CRYPTO-PORTICUS AND HARBOR
The excrescences Jackson refers to are the motley little shops and dwellings built up between the old arches, with crude little balconies, green-shuttered windows, and cheap modern doors, crowding themselves in under the magnificent colonnade and even looking down brazenly from above. But, when we remember that these humble abodes were packed into the palace far back in the seventh century, and that they have been a part of the peristyle, or Piazza del Duomo, as it now is called, for hundreds of years, we realize that they have almost become a part of the Piazza – like the duomo itself, the steps and portico of the ruined vestibule, and the very Egyptian sphinx of black granite which sits in profound meditation on a low wall just outside.
The sphinx quite fascinated me. I heard that it is supposed formerly to have been one of a pair of sphinxes placed on the steps leading to the duomo – which was originally the mausoleum of Diocletian. All that is left of its companion is now to be seen in the museum. It seems that a falling stone, centuries ago, knocked off its head; and headless it remains to this day. For many years a diligent search failed to reveal the missing member, when lo and behold! a few years ago, when the missing head had almost been forgotten, some sharp-eyed citizen espied it built into the wall of one of the houses in the Ulica Ghetto. Governmental threats, bribes, and entreaties failed, however, to cause its humble owner to part with his ancient treasure, so in his wall it still remains. Painted in grotesque colors that none seeking the head may fail to discover it, while the mutilated body alone is treasured in the museum. Hieroglyphics on the base prove it to be of the epoch of Amenhotep III., who built parts of Karnak and Luxor, and who reigned about 1500 B.C.
The Temple of Æsculapius once stood just opposite the mausoleum, but it no longer can be seen through the arches of the peristyle; houses completely hide it from view. We might have had some difficulty in finding it, had it not been for our plan of the modern city. Going along the tiny alleyway to the west, exactly opposite the steps of the duomo, we soon discovered it. The ancient temple is now known as the Baptistery of Spalato, dedicated no longer to Æsculapius, but to St. Giovanni Battista. The portico is, unfortunately, gone, but the steps still remain. There are just fifteen of them, for I counted them to make sure. The ancients always had an uneven number of steps leading up to their temples, so that no worshiper would enter the cella with the left foot – which was considered disrespectful to the god. This little shrine, in which Diocletian burned incense, and offered sacrifices to his favorite deity, Æsculapius, seventeen hundred years ago, is marvelously well preserved. Frothingham says: "It is, perhaps, the best-preserved cella of any temple in existence; so we can overlook its small size and rough finish and the loss of its portico."
It seems very amusing to me to think of the great Diocletian worshiping Æsculapius, the god of the medical doctors, who is represented as an old man with a long beard, and a staff having a horrible snake coiled round it. The mythologies say Æsculapius was so skilled in the medicinal value of plants that Pluto complained to Jupiter that by his professional services he was depopulating the lower regions. Evidently his patients were "undesirable citizens." Maybe, after all, Diocletian did have rheumatism, and that, perhaps, is why he made the "father of medicine" his particular deity. The story goes that Jupiter, to oblige Pluto, killed the famous physician with a thunderbolt, but after his undeserved death, permitted him to have divine honors. I don't suppose any follower of Æsculapius has ever since been killed because too successful in a conflict with disease and death. Some I know of, not only have not depopulated Hades, but have helped to increase the population of the Celestial City. The most famous of all the progeny of Æsculapius was his daughter Hygeia. We burn incense in her honor to this day – that horrible smelling stuff called formaldehyde – and she is one for whom big hotels, and germ-proof "hygienic" things are named.
Experts, who know all about such things, declare that the ornamentation of the doorway of the temple to Æsculapius is "over-rich in detail" and crudely and hastily carved. Of course, what I think is of no value, but I admit I admired greatly the scrolls with the quaint little figures and animals coming out of them. Any one who has an opportunity to study the exquisite drawings Adam made of the arabesques around the door, and of the wonderful pilasters, will admit that while they may be over-rich in detail, they are exceedingly decorative.
The interior of the temple measures only sixteen by twenty-seven feet. The arched roof of the cella, now sunken into coffers, is believed to be the very roof which gave to Giorgio Orsini his model. He saw it when he came to work at Spalato, when, by taxing the vineyards, the authorities tried to raise sufficient money with which to go on building the duomo at Sebenico. This cella, with its coffered ceiling, delighted Giorgio, giving him his inspiration for the splendid, stone-vaulted roof on the cathedral.
For centuries a huge stone sarcophagus, with sculptures showing the hero, Meleager, hunting the Caledonian boar, stood on the platform to the left of the temple steps. The story of Meleager is, that Diana caused the boar to destroy his father's (King Œneus') lands because he had wilfully neglected to honor her altars. Being a dutiful son, Meleager set out to kill the boar, which was ravaging his father's domain, just as the gypsy-moth and the boll-weevil ruin crops to-day. The scene on the sarcophagus shows the hero about to kill the boar, surrounded by attendant hunters. In 1884, during an epidemic of "spring house-cleaning," and what Jackson calls "excessive restorations," which the authorities of Spalato indulged in, this time-stained antiquity (which had withstood sixteen centuries of rain and sun) was "removed to the dull limbo of the museum," where it is stored away with a vast accumulation of other hoary relics; in a place "where few people will ever see it, and where no one will ever enjoy it, as every Spalatrine, high or low, would have done for generations to come, had it been left in its old place to molder slowly away in the course, perhaps, of sixteen centuries more."
VESTIBULE AND PERISTYLE
The museum stands just outside the homely modern gate in the eastern wall of the town. The original Porta Ænea completely disappeared many years ago. Not a vestige of it is left. The museum may be fine, but it is so crowded, inside and out, with a heterogeneous collection of columns, sarcophagi, fragments of sculpture, innumerable stones, bearing inscriptions, funeral urns, vases, jewelry and other things, that Jackson's words about the Meleager tomb are particularly pertinent. Altho we hunted it up, and at last found it in use as a support for another antiquity in the crowded museum, we couldn't help thinking how much more the sarcophagus would have meant to us, and how much more we would have enjoyed it, if it had been left just where it had rested for sixteen hundred years!
Fortunately, when we reached Spalato the scaffoldings which had spoiled and obstructed the view during the long years of "restoration," had been removed from the campanile, the exquisite medieval tower built at the very portal of the mausoleum, now the duomo. The collapse of the campanile in Venice was a rude shock, but one which had valuable results all over Italy, for it caused immediate steps to be taken to preserve many other tottering relics of past years. The campanile at Spalato came in for a much-needed patching up, for even in the fifteenth century it required new underpinning. It had always been top-heavy, and was in great danger of falling from the further fact that it has no real foundation at all, having been built over the steps of what was the portico of the mausoleum, on platforms on each side of the entrance, like some towering Colossus of Rhodes.
Making our way through the peristyle, now the Piazza del Duomo, and passing between two small lions which guard the entrance, we ascended the steps and found ourselves in Diocletian's famous pantheon. Frothingham says:
"A casual visitor is hardly likely to remember that this is the only well-preserved imperial tomb in existence. The mausoleums of the Augusti and their successors are formless mounds, and of Hadrian's magnificent memorial tomb, which held the imperial remains of the second and early part of the third century, only the mutilated and transformed shell remains. The emperors buried not in family memorials but in private sepulchers, fared still worse. Diocletian's mausoleum stands preeminent in preserving not only its entire structure, but also its decorations. Hardly an ancient monument of any class is so intact."
The exterior of the duomo is octagonal in shape. Fortunately nothing has been done to alter this magnificent old tomb-house, rededicated to "the honor of God and the Glorious Virgin Mary," in 650 A.D. At first it may seem strange for a man to build his own tomb within his palace walls, but we know that Pharaohs, Roman emperors, and other rulers, constructed splendid sepulchers for their last resting-places. But "man proposes and God disposes." None of them had a resting-place so very long. No doubt Diocletian, when he planned this magnificent mausoleum, which is the gem of all the treasures of Spalato, fondly imagined he would sleep his eternal sleep in his porphyry sarcophagus under the dome, undisturbed till doomsday. But, alas, for human hopes! While the mausoleum remains almost as he constructed it, his imperial remains were dragged out of the sarcophagus centuries ago by looters in search of treasure. To-day, even the mutilated fragments of his porphyry tomb are not definitely identified. Sic transit gloria mundi!
On coming into the duomo from the sunny Piazza, I could see nothing for a few minutes, the light within was so dim. I can not pretend to understand the pros and cons of the weighty archeological discussion that has taken place as to the ancient uses of this edifice. Some authorities still declare it to have been originally a temple to Jupiter, or some other god, while other learned savants as firmly insist it was Diocletian's mausoleum. If a mere woman may express an opinion, I will say that, so far as I am concerned, I feel sure it was the emperor's tomb and nothing else. It is very like all the pantheons I have seen. It gives you exactly the solemn impression obtained in the pantheon of Rome and that of Paris, and it is utterly unlike the Temple of Æsculapius, on the opposite side of the peristyle, which we know was originally a temple and not a tomb.
The circular interior is divided into eight bays, or niches, by splendid detached columns, "two orders in height." Those of the lower order are of massive granite, while the smaller ones above are of porphyry. The columns do not support anything, they are purely ornamental; but the entablature of the lower columns projects far enough out to form a narrow gallery, running all round the church and reached by a little, winding stair, hidden in the thickness of the wall. All the capitals of both the upper and lower order have been renewed. Inside and out, portions of the duomo which have been restored, being new and white, are plainly recognizable, in juxtaposition to the time-darkened stone. This may give "a checker-board appearance," but to the uninitiated it is delightful thus to be able to get at a glance the general effect of how everything was, and to know at the same time every particle of the work that has had to be renewed. While antiquarians like Jackson may think the restorations have lessened the value of the structure as a relic, to many of us, no real injury has been done. Certainly, in the years to come, posterity will rejoice that this wonderful edifice has not been permitted to remain merely an antiquity in ruin, like so many in Rome, which none but savants can reconstruct.
A band of relief, which remains untouched, runs just below the upper entablature, and at once puts you in mind of decorations seen in Pompeiian frescoes. The frieze, however, is carved, not painted. It consists of three oblong panel pictures between each of the upper columns, showing little cupids, or "putti," bearing garlands, driving chariots, riding horseback, or fighting with wild beasts. There are also some masques. One that I particularly noticed forms the central panel. It shows two cupids holding up a festoon of laurel which encloses a large masque. On the panel to the right, divided off from the cupids and the masque by a stumpy little tree, is a deer lying down. On the opposite panel, a standing, winged boy holds back a good-natured looking dog with a leash. The dog is obviously wagging his tail, and looks more inclined to play with the deer than to be ferocious.
Another central relief shows a bust surrounded by a large wreath of laurel, and supported by two amorini. It appears to have been intended to have funereal significance. Many such designs are found on ancient tombs. In an old cemetery, discovered in the center of the modern city of Athens, I recall seeing recently a number of ancient sarcophagi having similar decorations.
The duomo still boasts a low pyramidal roof of red tiles whose antiquity has been questioned. But Adam, in his explorations, discovered that some of these tiles were stamped with the Roman "S. P. Q. R." Jackson, Professor Bulič, a Monsignor of the church, and curator of the museum, utilized the scaffolding during the restoration in order to make another close examination, creeping in between the brick dome and the tiled roof. While they didn't discover any of Adam's S. P. Q. R. tiles, they found a number bearing, in Greek letters, the name of an ancient tile-maker, "Quintus Clodius Ambrosianus," hundreds of whose tiles have been found among the ruins of Salona. Consequently, all doubts as to a claim to honorable antiquity are forever settled.
The floor space in the duomo is rather restricted. In each niche, to right and left of the high altar, are picturesque miniature chapels, little shrines with pointed canopies. The one to the right is dedicated to St. Doimo, and the one to the left to St. Anastasio, and, while a close copy of its neighbor, it is the work of Giorgio Orsini, who by his contract agreed to make his shrine a companion-piece to the older one to St. Doimo. It seemed like meeting an old friend to come upon Giorgio's work here in Spalato, and I confess I laid my hand upon the carved figures which his dexterous fingers made, just as pious folk touch sacred relics.
In the carved panels of the shrines are shown St. Peter with his keys, St. Mark with his lion, and St. Anastasio with his millstone round his neck, beside other saints. Unfortunately, the light was so poor we could not really appreciate the splendid details of the carvings.
The two carved doors of the duomo have fourteen panels each, showing scenes in the life of the Savior. They are said to be the finest example extant of medieval carving. The panels are deeply, inset, as if in a frame, and surrounded by bands of Romanesque scrolls and figures. At each of the four corners are round wooden ornaments of the size and shape of door knobs. Formerly the doors were gilded and picked out in red, but now almost every vestige of color has been worn away. The scenes show medieval ideas of perspective, and run the gamut, from the Annunciation, at the top of the lefthand side of one door, to Christ weeping over Jerusalem, and one showing a building like the Tower of Babel, at the bottom of the lower right.
There are splendid oriental-looking carved stalls in the miniature choir, which are formed out of a recess opposite the entrance, and reached by passing behind the high altar. They are very similar to Moorish grills, and look much like the latticework we see fixt in Moslem dwellings in the windows of the women's apartments.
In the treasury are some interesting plate and fine embroideries, but best of all things seen in the church – yes, even handsomer in my eyes than anything else in all Spalato – is the duomo's magnificent pulpit, "a thing of beauty," which to me will be "a joy forever!" While not unlike the pulpit at Traü, it is far handsomer. It stands very close to the entrance, and is of such exquisite workmanship and coloring that it immediately attracts attention. Jackson says: "It is by far the most interesting object under the dome, and may challenge comparison with any similar work of the middle ages." It has six columns of beautiful colored marbles, with Romanesque capitals exquisitely carved, showing a mass of fantastic-winged creatures peeping out from scrolls and foliage. They are deeply "undercut" and "detached from the bell," and stand out wonderfully, almost as if carved in ivory instead of stone. They are considered to surpass in beauty of design and technical execution anything in Romanesque art of the same antiquity.
The body of the pulpit is hexagonal, resting upon round, full arches, over which is an exquisite design of interlaced foliage as fine as lace work. Each of the six sides is ornamented with little twin columns of finest porphyry and rare marble, and finished with daintily carved Romanesque capitals, between which are carved ornaments, either a winged bull or lion, an angel or some other figure, while some are simply rosettes. The ornament under the book-rest is an "Agnus Dei," like the one on the tympanum of the side doors at Zara – a stiff, woolly lamb with a nimbus, carrying a banner in his right foreleg.
On the lower cornice, just above the arches, is a curly lion who holds in his claws one of those winged creatures often seen on capitals, playing hide and seek through the foliage. From his back rises a slender little spiral colonnette, on top of which is perched a fine eagle, clutching a poor little bird in each claw. The eagle's wings are spread, and form the book-rest. The top of the pulpit has a heavily carved cornice. On one side a huge crucifix stands stiffly in the air. It seems an unnecessary addition to a lovely pulpit whose perfect symmetry it undoubtedly mars. A winding stairway, by which the pulpit is reached, is skilfully tucked away behind the great column beside which it stands, so that you do not see it, unless you look for it. The marvelous beauty of this pulpit makes it probable that it is the handiwork of that Guvina who carved the famous wooden doors of the Duomo, in 1214.
I may forget the peristyle, the temple of Æsculapius, and even the sphinx and the ruined vestibule, but I feel sure I shall never forget the duomo, and its carved pulpit.
ENTRANCE THROUGH PERISTYLE TO THE DUOMO
FISHING BOAT WITH POINTED SAIL
A PRESENTIMENT AND A DRIVE TO ALMISSA
"I'M actually glad," runs the diary, "to have to stay in the Troccoli to rest up. I've gotten so nervous about meeting that horrible man. I grow cold with fright at even the sight of brass buttons and a uniform. All day yesterday, when I should have been enjoying every minute – Spalato is so interesting – I could think of nothing but that Bela man. I was fearful of meeting him at every turn. We had quite a time trying to find the Porta Aurea. It is the northern gate, and we got confused and all mixed up in a tangle of little streets leading here, there, and everywhere – except the way we wanted to go. At last John declared that the moment he discovered a promising-looking individual he would inquire the way, altho we knew it would be next to impossible to find any one with even the faintest idea of English. The next moment around the corner of the dark little alley came a man in uniform. The instant he appeared I knew it was Bela! I'm sure I must have turned actually ashen – but, fortunately, John didn't notice it. I had to clutch at a window frame to keep from falling, as John stept forward to meet the fellow. I stood stock still – I could not have moved a step to save my life.
"When I looked up, John was coming back with the officer – who was no more like Bela than I am; but who, as luck would have it, turned out to be one of his dearest friends. When having a chat with him, John happened to mention we had met an Austrian officer in Zara who had been most polite to us. (When John knows about him I'm sure he won't think him quite 'so polite.') The man – I forget his awful name – said that 'Captain Bela Masticevich was "his most dear fren',"' and that he had gotten a letter from him the day before saying he 'expected to be in Spalato,' and would see him soon. 'I look for my gute fren' now any time,' he told us. I don't know what else he said, for I simply couldn't stand any more. Altho my feet were aching terribly, I walked on ahead just as quickly as I could, and never even glanced back. The man was really very polite and took us all the way to the Porta Aurea. It is well he did, for we never would have found it the way we were going. After he had left us, John asked me why I treated him so cavalierly? He said he had been most courteous and obliging, and had apologized over and over again because an engagement prevented him from showing us the town. I suppose he had gotten the impression that we were life-long friends of that Bela – so I was glad to see the last of him.
"The Porta Aurea is fine, and we made our way up into a cute little chapel of the ninth or tenth century, which is built into the gate, between the upper niches over the great doorway. In this tiny place of worship – which, next to the duomo, is the oldest in all Spalato – is an exquisitely carved marble screen which divides the body of the chapel from the chancel. It has a fine cross in the center, and most beautiful relief carving. The two tiny slits in the outer wall of the porta, which look like the openings in a fortress through which they used to shoot arrows, are really the windows in this most miniature church. But, small as it is, it is dedicated 'To the Blessed Virgin, Saint Martin, and Saint Gregory the Pope.'
"We have been all over Spalato sightseeing. We have also visited the museum, but it was too full of anticos – which we knew nothing about – for us really to enjoy it. We went to the market-place, but there was 'nothing doing,' as market day was over, so all the picturesque little stalls were empty and their white cotton covers packed away. It was hot and dusty in the square, so we didn't linger there. It was so very warm that John decided he must buy himself a lighter coat; but I was so weary, and my feet hurt so, I could not go a step further, consequently he left me in the Piazza, while he went back to one of the little shops. I sat down on the steps of the portico, just outside the ruined vestibule – of which only the door now remains. Close by me was the black granite sphinx – and an ugly thing, even if it is so ancient! The Spalato folk call it the 'Man-woman,' but I can't imagine why, for it doesn't look like either. It holds a round thing in its paws, intended to represent the sun's disk, but the people here prefer to believe it is a loaf of bread.
"The shops here are the funniest kinds of little holes in the wall, and as dark as Erebus, but some of them have really fine filigree jewelry. Somehow or other, I didn't want to buy anything, altho John said he'd get me a bracelet, or a chain, or anything else I wanted. I'm sure I don't know what is the matter with me, but I feel ill. I've worried and fretted over that man and his insolent note until I've actually become foolish about it. Every man I see, I think is that fellow, and at times I act so absurdly that even John notices it. When I look back and think how silly I've been, I could cry with anguish. Oh! why, when I felt sure I had said and done nothing wrong – when I honestly knew, in my very heart of hearts, that I had given that man no cause to write and insult me – why didn't I go straight to John with that note, as any sensible woman, not the deplorable fool I am, would have done! What a lot of unhappiness I would have saved myself! Now, I can only wait until he comes, and I have a chance to show the conceited ass what a fool he has made of himself – and send him flying about his business. I may have been too vivacious, and not quite as dignified and sedate as a married woman should be, but he'll never presume to treat another American woman as he has me, I promise him that!
"I suppose it is because I feel sick, but I have an awful presentiment that something terrible is going to happen. I'm never foolish like some people, who are always having 'presentiments' and believe in forewarnings and dreams, and silly things like that, which are nothing but superstitious nonsense. Still, I can't shake off an intangible oppression, which has seized hold of me and fills me with a presentiment of impending evil. I feel sure John is going to be ill, or he'll lose all our money, or something else horrible will happen! I wish we were back in Washington – for if he does get sick I'm sure I never will be able to get a decent doctor here. If, like the rest of the people, the doctor talks nothing but this villainous Croatian, my poor John might die before I could find out whether he had malaria – and these Dalmatian cities are full of it – or that sleeping sickness, or bubonic plague, or some other of the awful things they have in the Orient. We are really so near the East here that I am afraid we can take anything. We see all kinds of odd-looking people on the marina. I counted five men with fezzes in one boat. John says there are people here from everywhere. In the harbor are queer little vessels from Greece, Turkey and the Black Sea; they come also from Italy and France, and even from England. A perfect babble of tongues is heard on the quay when they bargain with each other excitedly, buying and selling noisily, like a lot of street vendors on a Saturday night in the Bowery.
There is certainly no Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Spalato, for I never saw animals treated more barbarously, except, possibly, in Naples. I took a picture of one poor little donkey on the marina, so laden down with bundles of straw you could hardly see his nose. There is the greatest abundance of fruit; we saw market-boats loaded with nuts and figs, dates and plums, oranges and lemons, and every kind of vegetable, from beets and tomatoes to green corn and quantities of enormous cabbages. The marina, or quay, outside Diocletian's 'crypto-porticus,' is simply a moving-picture show at almost any hour of the day or evening. The harbor is always filled with boats, picturesque cargoes of every imaginable shape and color, protected from the sun by awnings made from gaily dyed sails.
The people are mostly blond; the men usually have huge corn-colored, bushy mustaches, which they fondly caress as proudly as any Beau Brummel. The women wear English calicoes, and have folded kerchiefs over their heads. The men look delightfully quaint in baggy blue trousers, short brown jackets and leather cummerbunds stuffed with things, and topped off by a gorgeous plaid silk scarf.
"It is really very interesting and Oriental here, but I long for home! I am out of sorts, and feel ill and strangely opprest. I know something is going to happen – something awful! I'm not a particle superstitious; I do not believe in signs and omens; but ever since I heard that man say that Bela wretch had written he was coming here, I can't shake off a presentiment of coming trouble. All night long I dreamed I was carrying a crying baby. I remember that in the book, Jane Eyre had a dream like that, the night before she was to marry Rochester. Charlotte Bronte, in the novel, makes some one say it is 'a sure sign of coming calamity,' for any one to dream of holding a wailing babe. I do wish John would come, for I feel really ill. He went out to smoke, ages ago, and should have been back long before this. Oh! I do hope nothing has happened to him!"
"We are just back from a lovely drive to Almissa. I had to coax John to take me out, for that Bela's coming had so gotten on my nerves I couldn't stay in Spalato a moment longer. I made my poor little aching feet the excuse. I told John, truly, that I must rest them a little, before I attempted to do any more walking. And as if they were not bruised and painful enough already, I had to stump my toes last night on that 'tarnational' box of ours, after I had put out the light! We have almost gotten used, by this time, to having the plagued thing sitting around everywhere we stop; so, I confess, I actually forgot it – but it hadn't forgotten me. And, of course, it had to hit my ingrowing nail. It hurt me so terribly I had to boohoo – for I couldn't say the lurid things John did when the box hurt him! I cried, and cried, so hard that John was really worried; he felt sure I must have broken some of the bones in my foot. He said he was afraid it would be terribly swollen, and black and blue this morning. But there wasn't even the sign of a bruise! And I certainly was provoked at not having the slightest mark to show, after it hurt me so badly; for a man never really believes a woman is seriously hurt unless there is a big bruise, or a lot of blood, or an unsightly looking wound, or a scar, or something else to prove it. But John was a dear, anyway! He promised to take me driving at once, and started right off to order a carriage, the very minute I asked him. As the streets here are so tiny, there are no vehicles in town; so we had to go outside the walls to get into our ramshackle old wreck; but I didn't mind, for John helped me hobble along, and I was delighted to leave Spalato behind us, even for a few hours.
"The only carriage John could get was a horrible, jolty old hack, but the view was so fine I forgot all about the seat – which was as hard as if it had been made of brickbats – and the jerks and jolts of the springs, or what should have been springs. In fact, the scenery was so superb I even forgot all about that love-sick fool whose silly letter has become a perfect nightmare to me. Of course, I know he can not really harm me, and that I am absurd to let his meeting us fret me, but I do worry, and it serves me right. It serves any woman right to suffer, if she acts deceitfully. But I've learned my lesson. Never again! No matter what happens, will I ever keep anything from John – my own dear, good John, who loves me so much, and is as good as gold to me, always!
"The day was perfect. After we left Spalato a delightful breeze came blowing in from the sea, and as the carriage-top kept off the sun, we were quite comfortable. The road, for miles, went continually up hill, it seemed to me. The spavined, wo-begone looking nags simply crawled. When we reached the crest of the hill we had a grand view of the wild country stretching out far below us. It is called Poglizza. The bleak and bare Mt. Messer towered before us, with deep ravines, while green and smiling valleys snuggled between ridges just like those you see in Switzerland. Later, our road dropt down again until we reached a marshy bottomland through which a little stream meandered. In America, we would call it a creek, but here it is called the Xernovizza River.
"Crossing a rickety old bridge, we reached Poglizza, the home of the little black wild cherry, the maresca from which is made the maraschino that made Zara famous, as beer made Milwaukee. The mountains form a great rocky wall, which protects the country from the Bora. The climate here is most mild and salubrious, and the land as fertile as any in Dalmatia. We learned that the Austrian Government has done its best to transplant the maresca trees, so that Poglizza should not corner the supply, but the proud little trees have refused to grow when taken from their own hills and hummocks. We saw lots of cows with big horns grazing on the hills, and wading in the marshes, nibbling the reeds and wallowing in the water. It soon became so warm I, too, wished for a bath. There were many goats, and some sheep. All along we passed splendid fig trees and olive groves, besides innumerable orchards devoted to the maresca cherry.
"At Poglizza, in 1807, the poor little republic was 'wiped off the map' by Napoleon, in his usual high-handed manner. It seems that the Poglizza forces, having taken sides with Russia, were forced to take refuge with the Russian fleet in the harbor, thus leaving the people quite unprotected. The French seized their opportunity, and falling upon the helpless people massacred almost the entire population. Homes were razed to the ground and looters made off with everything worth taking. From that day the little 'Republic of Pojica,' as the Croat's called it, has ceased to exist.
"Almissa is about sixteen miles from Spalato. It is a charming drive all the way. After passing through the hamlet of Postrana, our road ran close to the shore, until, coming around a sharp turn, we caught sight of Almissa on the opposite bank of a 'brimming river,' right at the very foot of magnificent, hoary crags, towering straight up into the air. On a sharp pinnacle of rock, seeming almost to hang over the city, is the lovely old castle of 'Mirabella.' Unfortunately, only one lone tower remains. We didn't attempt to visit it because the rocks are almost perpendicular, and we were frankly informed it wouldn't pay us for the fatigue and labor of the climb. The castle is now only an ordinary storehouse. But I feel sure the view from the top of that crag must be superb and well worth the climb, if only my poor feet would have let me attempt it.
"Almissa itself is the dearest, quaintest little town. It has any number of Venetian windows and doors. The church of St. Spirito has a big and homely campanile, so old and ugly it is actually picturesque. John declared it looked modern enough to him, for it reminded him of 'a brewery chimney' – but he didn't really mean it. (He was just thirsty, so, naturally, he thought of beer.) Near the church we found the Communal Palace, whose greatest distinction is its name. What I liked best about it was the lion of St. Mark carved on a big stone slab set into a wall. He has the regulation wings, halo, and book, but instead of his 'Peace to Thee My Mark, the Evangelist,' which every self-respecting Venetian king of beasts is sure to have, his book is closed. I'm quite sure there is a story about why and when he shut it, but we met no one who could talk English. John is tired of trying to make people understand his French and German. He declares it is 'too much like work!' And it is – not only for him, but the poor Croatians. I almost die laughing to hear him; for he mixes up his French, Italian, German and English quite unconsciously, making an awful linguistic hodge-podge, which no one short of an expert in Volapuk could hope to digest.
"From Almissa the view is simply superb. The great cruel-looking crags soar straight up into the air in bold terraces of jagged rocks, with deeply cut ravines and horrible precipices; while below, the river Cettina goes rushing along past the town, until it whirls round a bend and is lost to sight in a tremendous rocky ravine which completely swallows it up. The country is so wild and picturesque it puts you in mind of Sicily. We were not a bit surprized to hear that once upon a time Almissa was the home of pirates. The duomo has a good western door, and there is a statue supposed to represent St. Michael stamping on prostrate Satan – but to me the figures were simply grotesque. What interested us more were some pieces of old plate, said to be part of the very spoils of the Almissan freebooters who made their homes here among the crags in the days of old.
"The story runs that in the long, long ago a band of pirates in their rocky retreat heard rumors of the wealth of the good fathers who had built their monastery on an island, known in ancient times as the Island of Diomede. This Diomede, for whom the place was named, was that mythological person whose followers so loved him and who so mourned for him after his death that they were turned into sea-gulls, or a flock of some other birds. These doves, gulls, or whatever they were, lived on the island and constantly hovered over the altars erected to their leader. The pious monks, not to be 'gulled' by such a far-fetched story, took it with a big pinch of salt, but on taking possession of the island actually discovered the pagan altars were there. So they swept away every vestige of the old idolatry before laying the foundations of their monastery. The frugal, hardworking Benedictines, having toiled and moiled for centuries, acquired goodly possessions, the value of which reached the ears of the rapacious bandits.
"Believing that the holy 'padres' would be easy prey, and wickedly arguing that they needed no treasures on earth – having, no doubt, laid up treasures where neither thieves nor pirates could break in and steal – they decided to pay them a visit and relieve them of all their unnecessary wealth. To accomplish this, they concocted a plan, a contemptibly low and treacherous plan, which worked to a charm. The simple-minded fathers were no match for the brazen, blood-thirsty free-booters, who, sailing from Almissa, arrived safely in the tranquil harbor of the island. A solemn-faced bandit was at once dispatched to the monastery to ask the good old abbot to give Christian burial to one of their number who had died at sea. The unsuspecting ecclesiastic willingly acceded to the request. The coffin with the dead man was solemnly brought into the chapel, followed by the whole pirate band, walking two and two, and looking as solemn as owls, but all the time laughing in their sleeves. As the abbot began to intone the burial service, his pious brethren reverently assisting him, the pirates gathered round the coffin, with bowed heads. Suddenly one of the band gave a little cough, when the man playing cadaver jumped out of the coffin, and each of the crew seizing the knives, guns, and other arms which had been concealed under the supposed corpse, fell upon the poor monks and ruthlessly murdered them, the little chapel soon running with blood. Not content with butchering the inmates, and looting the monastery of all its treasure, the building itself was blown up, and left only a mass of smoking ruins. A terrible curse was laid by the church upon the perpetrators of this horrible outrage.
"Going back to the hotel, through the Piazza dei Signori, I noticed a sweet-faced little woman crying as if her heart would break. Two men were with her, but they paid no more attention to her than if she had been a cat or a dog. She appeared to be about twenty years old, and wore a sleeveless Dalmatian jacket, and on her head a little pork-pie cap, covered with a huge white kerchief, the ends of which were knotted under her chin. Her apron was bright red, finished with a heavy fringe; it looked exactly like a table cover. Over her shoulder she carried two big bags, woven in gay stripes of red, green, purple and yellow, and evidently of her own manufacture. The men carried no impedimenta whatever, so I suppose the bags, which appeared to be stuffed full to overflowing, contained not only her own but their belongings.
"I am sure I don't know why I noticed her so particularly. Maybe it was because she was crying so hard, and because it makes my American blood boil to see how these swaggering Dalmatian lords of creation treat their poor, abused women. I can not get used to it. These ignorant clowns believe women are inferior creatures, fit only to labor in the fields and slave at their looms, from morning till night. They actually consider it a disgrace to be seen talking to a woman – and the poor, browbeaten, overworked creatures meekly endure everything, because, as John says, 'they haven't got enough horse sense to know any better.'
"The older man, I guessed at once, must be the girl's father. He had on the regulation Dalmatian blue waistcoat, and the 'voluminous-in-the-seat-tight-in-the-leg trousers.' I noticed that he wore a faded red cummerbund and a pair of patched 'opankas.' The other man was much younger, and instead of the red cap sported a bright crimson fez with a long, dangling, black silk tassel, which hung jauntily over his left ear. He was a would-be dandy, a Dalmatian beau, and I hated him at once, in spite of his gorgeous waistcoat, covered with rows of jingling silver filigree buttons. His incipient little corn-shucks mustache was turned up fiercely at the ends, à la Emperor William. By the very way he wore his fez cocked on one side, and by his strut and jaunty air, I knew in a moment he must be a conceited jackanapes. If he is that poor girl's husband I am sorry for her. For I know he is a vain, flirtatious, selfish creature.
"Later in the day, when John and I were walking on the splendid broad quay outside the walls, I saw the girl again. She was with the old man, but the ladida was nowhere to be seen. I caught a picture of the girl and her father as they stood together on the marina by an old anchor lying on the quay. Just as I snapt them, they turned and caught me in the act – but they didn't seem to mind. I do so hope the film will come out well, for it ought to make a splendid picture. I was close enough not only to get them nicely, but I caught a glimpse of the market square, and the houses along the marina, as well as the picturesque shipping in the harbor for my background.
"Poor little woman – her sad face haunts me. I wonder why she cried so hard?"
A DRIVE TO THE JADER AND SALONA
ONCE more, a chapter from my diary. "I have had such a shock, I hardly know how to write about it! Just as I was beginning to think how foolish I was to be worrying myself to death over nothing, it came like a bolt out of the blue sky. I had slipt on my blue crepe kimono and was resting in our room while John was out by himself to look around a little. He promised that on his way back he would stop in and see if there was any mail. After writing up our lovely drive to Almissa – and telling about my picture of that poor girl weeping on the Piazza – at the very moment I was shutting my diary, John came in. 'From whom do you think I got a letter and a package?' he asked, as he went to the table and put down a small, square parcel. 'I'm sure I can't imagine,' I replied, as indifferently as I could; but I was trembling so I could hardly keep my voice from showing excitement.
"Fortunately, John's back was turned, or he must have noticed my absurd agitation. I really don't remember just what else was said but, exactly as I expected, the things in the package were from Bela! – only four or five boxes of Turkish cigarets, of a certain brand he had told John he wanted him to try, I remember, that day in Zara. What he said in his letter I do not know. I'm such a silly, excitable fool I simply couldn't listen. John read me something he wrote about 'he hoped to see us surely, either in Ragusa or Cattaro,' and a lot of fulsome stuff about his 'sorrow at missing us at Spalato.' Then I lost my composure. 'Don't read me another word about that silly fool!' I cried hastily. 'What do I care about that conceited puppy, or where he meets us? I – I hate him; he's a – a — .' Then I broke down and began to cry. I rocked myself back and forth in my chair, and sobbed, 'Oh, oh, oh! How my poor feet do ache. They actually torture me!' That brought John to me in a moment. Thrusting the letter in his pocket, he forgot all about Bela. He rushed about to find my slippers, and rang the bell – thank heavens there is a bell – ordered hot water, and dropping on his knees began taking off my shoes. My feet did ache awfully; but I felt I was a deceitful, black-hearted creature, so I only cried harder and harder.
"At last, after John had petted me and got me to stop crying, he asked wonderingly: 'Girlie, what has Bela done? I thought you were tickled to death at the way he made up to you that day in Zara? Don't you remember, I even got a little provoked at first, you two were so "chummy" on a short acquaintance? Your American vivacity and cute ways took the fellow right off his feet. I saw him making eyes at you, and I felt like kicking him, but when he – ' 'Don't say such things, John,' I hastily interrupted. 'You know very well I never permit men to "make eyes at me!" The idea of such a thing!' John stopt bathing my feet and looked at me with open-eyed astonishment. 'Look what you're doing!' I scolded; 'you are dripping that sponge all over the floor.' I spoke crossly – in perfect terror for fear he would say something more about that Bela.
"I'm wondering and wondering if dear old Jo-John suspects anything? I did act so ridiculously. He looked amazed when I said Bela was a conceited puppy. I'm such an impulsive individual, I haven't a particle of self-control or dissimulation. But I'm glad I haven't. I should hate to be a two-faced, deceitful creature like some women are. But I am sure of one thing; as long as I live I shall never, never look at a man again. Jamais de la vie! (John says 'never again' isn't half so common and vulgar in French.) Maybe it was to punish me for 'pretending,' but certain it is that my poor feet have been aching terribly ever since I told John that fib about them. They are so swollen I can not wear any of my shoes. John had to go out and buy me a pair of rubber-soled, flat-boats, which were all he could find in one of these horrid little 'black holes of Calcutta' which pass as shoe-stores here. They are low, white canvas things, with square toes, and absolutely hideous. They have three funny little straps of white kid stitched across the toes, which make them look as broad as they are long, and my poor little feet look a sight in them! But I shall have to wear them, altho they are atrociously ugly and so large they go 'flip-flop' at every step I take. But, oh dear! they are comfortable; and as I can't wear anything decent I shall have to look a guy for a while.
"Oh, I mustn't forget to write that yesterday we attended mass in the cathedral. Altho the mausoleum makes a wee little duomo, it was splendid! The place was jammed with worshipers; with the candles lighted, the music of the choir, the priest in his robes, and the black-eyed acolytes swinging beautiful old brass censers, with yards of clinking chains – it was simply divine! I am sure I never will forget that service, and the splendid sermon preached from the exquisitely carved pulpit; altho, of course, I couldn't understand a word. But I enjoyed it exactly as much, maybe more, than if I had. I wouldn't have missed it for anything.
"John says we will leave Spalato to-day, on whatever boat happens to be leaving. He thinks we can take the Lesina, at five this afternoon. It is a little boat, and stops every few minutes, but we will take it, because we are in no hurry, and we find there is no express steamer for three days. As I couldn't walk, we took another drive right after breakfast. We went to visit the ruins of Salona, and took in the Falls of the Jader, Clissa, and a lot of other places which were on our way. The road to Salona runs from just outside the Porta Aurea. After a few minutes, we came to the remains of Diocletian's aqueduct, which is used to-day for the water of Spalato.
"Our road descended into the lovely green valley of the Jader, which comes gushing out of the limestone rocks about two miles above. The odd thing about Dalmatia is that it has so few rivers, and those it has have an odd way of dropping out of sight, and then unexpectedly appearing miles away, bursting out of some rock. We have heard that there are any number of wonderful caves, with suites of rooms and marvelous stalactites, like our Luray caverns in Virginia. We left the carriage, which was another tumbledown old wreck, at a delightful old mill, and went the rest of the way to the falls on foot. While the falls are pretty, they are no finer than our Great Falls of the Potomac, the Falls of Schaffhausen, and many others. But the surrounding scenery is exquisite. Even Baedeker says: 'No view in all Dalmatia can surpass it in grandeur.'
"From the falls we went to a little place called Clissa, once conquered by the Emperor Tiberius, but what he wanted with it, I can not imagine. We had luncheon at a shabby inn, but did not linger in the village, for there was nothing of interest to see. Further up the road, which meanders all the way to Traü, we came to what is known as the Riviera dei Sette Castelli. The seven castles are only ruined fortresses now, but in them, in ancient times, Venetian barons dwelt. The road skirts the shore and is dotted with a succession of charming hamlets, each clustered about the feet of its own hoary stronghold, once the home of the over-lord, to whom it owed absolute allegiance.
"The land here is very fertile; the riviera is noted for its balmy climate. The great rocks and crags of the bare Cabani mountains rise like a wall behind the green fields and smiling orchards, shutting out the dread Bora. The dark green of the tall firs, the flaming colors of blossoming pomegranate trees, and the greenish-gray of olive groves, combine to form a picture which reminds you of Italy. The Mediterranean itself is not more blue than the water of the Canelli. Everything was so beautiful, all my silly forebodings vanished, as I looked at the sparkling waves, dancing in the sunshine, and found delight in the old road with its chain of smiling villages nestled at the feet of ruined castles. I felt so happy I laughed at everything, and was just like my old self again. My high spirits were contagious, for John, too, began to laugh and joke, and even the sober-sided old man driving our forlorn nags, perked up and tried to talk to us in his Croatian gibberish.
"Herr Pjisic at the hotel told John about these feudal barons. He says they were regular old tyrants, petty kings, who had unlimited power over the people, and bamboozled and lorded it over them till the poor, helpless villagers were nothing but serfs. At night, when the gates were locked, the head man in the village had to bring his baron the keys. All the oil-mills belonged to the lord, and he claimed a tenth of all the oil, whether one of his mills was used or not. These old padrones were monopolists of the worst kind. Every one had to have a license from him, to buy or sell. He could make his tenants sell him their goods for one-tenth their value, and then he would turn round and sell again at the proper figure. The tongues of all oxen slaughtered, and the heads of pigs, belonged to the lord of the castle. Worst of all, in time of drought, he securely closed all wells and not a drop of water could be drawn until he chose to uncover them. There was some good in the old rapscallions, after all; for Herr Phthisic, as I call him, told John there were laws forcing villagers to keep their homes clean, and there was a fine for throwing slops out of the windows!
"Salona is very wonderful, but it is only ruins, which do not very strongly appeal to me. The largest and most interesting is a basilica, an ancient Christian church, built right over a large cemetery, which is thought to date from the time of St. Timothy, one of the saints who introduced Christianity into Dalmatia. Under the floor of the church were found many large sarcophagi, but they have all been removed to the museum at Spalato. The most famous, because the very oldest Christian tomb here, is known as the Pastor Bonus Sarcophagus. It shows 'The Good Shepherd,' with a sheep or lamb on His shoulders. There are two reclining figures on the tomb, supposed to represent a Christian couple whose sarcophagus it was. Their heads are gone, and the other sculptures are all more or less defaced. The tomb is roughly carved, and inferior both in design and workmanship to the Meleager sarcophagus, found outside the Temple of Æsculapius, altho the pagan tomb is much older.
"We walked over to the arena, but very little of it remains. Were it not for a flight of crumbling steps, and three or four ruined arches, supposed to have been a part of the outer wall, it would be difficult to recognize it. It is only a deprest, grass-covered field, which might have been almost anything; but the view from the little hill above the arena is superb, and the inland sea of Salona is charming. The rippling water lying at your feet, glittering in the sunlight, stretches away to Bua and Traü, connecting, as with a golden band, the living cities of to-day with the bleaching bones of ruined Salona.
"Children are much the same the world over! The urchins who dwell near this ancient city followed us in numbers, long before we reached the ruins. We were offered every known commodity, from pistachio nuts to anticos, in a babble of tongues which were something horrible. John picked out one little chap, with a tousled head and a huge crop of freckles, and told him he didn't want to buy either the bits of stone or fragments of broken pots, vociferously offered for sale, but that he'd 'pay for the monolog.' Seeing their companion get 'something for nothing,' the rest of the crowd of youngsters set up a roar of protest. To get away, we had to throw a handful of 'hellers' to the crowd. While the children were fighting over the coppers, we made our escape."
"Dear old Spalato long since was left behind us. We are now well on our way to Ragusa, 'the fairest gem of Dalmatia,' as it is called. It is hard to believe it finer than all the other charming places we have seen, but I am willing to be convinced. As the harbor of Ragusa is now too shallow for steamers – the sea having receded just as it has at Spalato – we shall have to dock at a little port called Gravosa. How happy I would be, if I only knew that that Bela man wouldn't meet us! Any way, I'm glad he wrote John that letter saying he hoped to do so, for it makes everything much easier for me. If I can only keep from going to pieces when he does arrive, everything may yet come out all right. I shall just give him one look, which will teach him a lesson. If I can only keep cool, and show him, the minute he looks at me, how indignant his insolent presumption made me, I will yet come out with flying colors. Oh! if I only can!
RUINS OF THE ANCIENT BASILICA
"We are now on the Lesina, and 'my girl' is on board. I have seen her. The old man was her father. He had come from his home, somewhere back in the country, to see her and her husband off. Her lord and master, the Dalmatian dude, I hear, is taking her to Constantinople to live! No wonder the poor soul weeps, for she knows very well how he will treat her when he gets her there. Even now he neglects her shamefully. I happened to be looking down and so I saw her father just as he was leaving her. He didn't even kiss her. He simply flip-flopped her hand once or twice, nodded to the man in the fez, turned and walked down the gangplank, then went off along the quay without once looking back. The girl didn't know the steamer rules, I suppose, for she came up to our deck to watch him. She held her handkerchief in her hand, ready to wave him good-by, but the heartless old creature never once turned round. I saw how her lips trembled as she watched him go, without even one last look! At last, as he disappeared from sight, she could control her grief no longer. Suddenly dropping her head on her arms, she leaned on the rail, sobbing as if her poor little heart would break.
"She was all alone, for the man in the fez had deserted her. There were lots of people about who watched her, but not a soul to say one kind word to the poor heart-broken girl. I stood it just as long as I could, and then I went over to her, and putting my arm around her, begged her not to cry. Of course, it wasn't the thing for me to do, and I felt all the critical looks and tittering going on behind my back. But I didn't care. I just patted her gently on the back, and said softly: 'Please don't cry, dear, everything will come out all right. Really it will! Some day, I know, God will let you come back to your home, and your father. I know He will!'
"She didn't know a word of any tongue but Croatian, so couldn't understand a word I said, but she was a woman and I a woman, and she knew what my heart tried to tell her. She murmured something between her sobs, and suddenly raising her head seized one of my hands and kissed it passionately – pouring out a stream of Croatian as the tears flowed down her cheeks, holding my hand tightly clasped in both her own. Just then the brute in a fez discovered her and ordered her below. As if caught in some disgraceful act, she dropt my hand, and without a word or look, left me, following meekly at her master's heels. After she had gone, I felt as well as saw that the people round were smiling at me. It was 'such a funny sight to see an American lady patting a steerage woman on the back, as if they were dear friends.' But I didn't care. I'm sure I did right. Maybe Mrs. Grundy is often 'shocked' at what our hearts prompt us to do – but what does it matter, if God is pleased that we are not ashamed to be 'a little kind.'
"Every one watches me like a cat. We are the only Americans on board and, of course, thought to be 'millionaires!' How John and I did laugh when we heard that. How I do wish that all Americans were millionaires, as these people seem to think. I know I'd have a trunk, a good, big trunk, and all to myself, even if we only went from Washington to Baltimore! I'd never, never have a single gown 'made over,' and I'd buy all the new hats I want. But what a lot of difference only a little money makes. Just because I travel first class, and my poor girl doesn't, I'm expected not to notice her – even if her heart is breaking. Thank God, I am an American, and come from a country where we are not afraid to be human beings – instead of puppets. I'm not a particle ashamed of what I did, and John didn't mind at all. I was a wee bit afraid he might think I made myself 'conspicuous,' so I told him at once – to get it over with. He only smiled and nodded his head; and I saw he didn't blame me a particle, and that he is awfully sorry for her, too.
"The Lesina docks somewhere every little while, so it is hard for me to remember where things occur. At one of the little ports where we stopt only a few minutes, I caught sight of a boatload of Turkish passengers in a queer-looking dugout coming out to take the steamer. But they very nearly missed the boat. It was too comical to see the frantic efforts two Turks made in trying to row the flat tub fast enough to get it to the dock in time. I knew they were Turks at once, altho we had heard that all subjects of the Sultan wear a fez, whether Mohammendans or Christians. I saw at once these people were Turks, from head to foot. To my joy one of them was a woman; one of the veiled creatures I'd been so long dying to see. I determined to get a good look at her, so I ran down and took my position where I could see her come up the gangway. No matter how many 'veiled Turkish houris' I may see before I die, I shall never forget this one! She passed me at close range as she came staggering into the steamer. And no wonder she staggered! For on her head, or where a head is supposed to be, the creature carried an enormous bundle of bedding tied up in a cheap, gaily striped cotton rug. Her husband and two little Turks, who were miniature editions of himself, preceded her, but took no notice of her at all, and were entirely without any 'impedimenta,' notwithstanding the enormous load she carried.
"She was a sight! I gazed at her with all my eyes. Venus herself, if garbed in the same Moslem 'mode,' would be as shrieking a caricature of 'feminine loveliness.' She wore full, balloon-shaped trousers tied in clumsy folds around her ankles. They were made of some cheap material like chintz, and were yellow, with a sprawling flower design in red and green. Her feet were of mammoth proportions, the largest I ever saw in my life on any individual passing as a woman! The Dalmatian peasant at Zara, I saw buying 'opankas,' had fairy feet compared with this creature's clod-hoppers. To make matters worse, she wore on them a pair of coarse and clumsy rawhide, hob-nailed shoes, of the cheapest home-made variety. Her gown – if it is permissible to call it by any such feminine term – was of some purplish-black cotton material, with wide yellow and white stripes, running diagonally, and forming a huge latticework design. The skirt was enormously full and long, and gathered in where the waist-line should be, to which was attached in the back a round, full cape, gathered to the belt, made of the same material. The end of the cape was thrown back, so as entirely to envelop her head. As if this was not bad enough – for the poor creature was nothing but 'a bulk in the daylight' – to cap the climax, over the small triangular opening in the latticework curtain formed by the cape in front, where her face should have been, hung a thick, black, impenetrable cloth. It was made of some lusterless stuff, covered with sprays of huge pink and green tulips. The effect of the black veil was horrible! For at a little distance she appeared to have a black face, covered with green and pink sores. Really and truly, the poor soul was hideous enough to frighten any one! I must explain, that I never would have known about the chintz Turkish trousers she wore under her skirt, nor probably about the hob-nailed shoes, only that I wickedly stood where I did, and saw her clutch at her shroud as she staggered up the gangway with her unwieldly burden.
"We hear that later on we shall see many more of these poor Moslem women. A lady on board tells me there are plenty of these wrapt-up creatures right now in the steerage. She says one of the officers told her we have a veritable 'Shrouded Woman of Mostar' on the Lesina. No matter how hard it is, I simply must get a glimpse of her; for we hear they are the worst-looking 'bundle of clothes' of them all. They are all black, and have no head, face, or arms, or anything, being only shapeless creatures swathed in heavy black garments like dominos. No matter how warm the weather, their tyrannical lords never permit them to show themselves for an instant. No one dares even to glance at one of these shrouded creatures – so how I am to get a picture of a Mostar woman I do not know! But I'm determined to try.
"It is very warm to-day, even up on our deck. Here in our little cabin it is simply sweltering. I can not help thinking how the poor pink-and-green creature, huddled up in the crowded steerage, must suffer, for she dares not lift her black curtain for a minute, even to get a breath of air, for fear some one might see her face. Heavens above! if her face is no lovelier than her huge, clumsy feet, and big, coarse, red hands, she can not be a very dangerous siren!
"The lady with whom I've been chatting – Frau Friedmann is her name – tells me these women of the lower class, who have to work all day in the fields, throw back their masks when no one is around, to keep from stifling; but the instant any male creature appears, they cover themselves and remain covered until he is gone. She says no Mohammedan woman over twelve years of age ever goes unveiled before a man not her father, brother, or husband, unless she is a wrinkled old crone, a woman so old, and so hideous that even these insanely jealous Orientals are fully convinced she is no longer dangerous. It must be terrible to have to be swathed up all the time in hot, uncomfortable things, but it is even worse to think of being so horribly old and hideous that even a Turk is no longer jealous!"
A GLIMPSE OF LESINA AND CANNOZA'S FAMOUS PLANE-TREES
THE Austrian shore line is most irregular, being deeply indented with gulfs and bays of every shape and size imaginable. A succession of attractive little islands just off the mainland are scattered singly, and in groups, all the way down from Trieste to Cattaro. We realized, after it was too late, that we should have allowed ourselves more time for the trip, in order that we might have been able to visit many of the quaint and charming little islands, of which we often caught only the most tantalizing glimpses. With every mile southward, Dalmatia grows more and more enchanting! We found the whole Adriatic trip a hundred times more picturesque and interesting than we had expected.
From Spalato our course was due south to the small island of Solta, known in ancient times as Olynta, famous for delicious honey made from the cistus rose and rosemary. Passing through a tiny channel between the island of Solta and its near neighbor, Brazza, with its little town of Milna – which we regretfully had to leave without paying it a visit – our steamer soon after rounded the end of the island of Lesina, with its pretty lighthouse, and we were in sight of the sheltered harbor. Three old forts, all now obsolete, in ancient days protected the fascinating little town. While their days of usefulness are over, they still add a romantic touch to the harbor's classic beauty. Owing to the girdle of sheltering mountains, Lesina is famous for a mild climate, and has become a popular winter resort, particularly for those with delicate lungs. On the quay is a splendid loggia of seven arches, with a carved head in the center of each, which now forms a part of the adjoining albergo, "Kursalon."
The loggia is approached by a broad flight of marble steps adorned with ornamental shrubs in tubs. The door in the central arch leads into a spacious hall. The six remaining arches are built with long casement windows draped with modern window curtains, looking sadly out of place among the ancient columns. Over the entrance to the Kursalon, which is also the town hall, I noticed a fine pair of sculptured lions supporting a time-defaced shield. Behind the loggia, on the albergo proper, is a stone slab with a splendidly decorative Venetian lion of majestic proportions, with three twists in his tail and a sadly battered nose. A door leads from the second story of this oddly-shaped stone building out onto the top of the loggia, forming a commodious porch for the albergo's patrons. Two windows in the upper story are joined by a small iron balcony, above which is a crazy-looking, sharply-pointed tiled roof, in which is a funny square window right up in the peak.
Lesina's clock-tower adjoins the loggia on the right. It is square and ugly, finished off with a railing and a most absurdly small bell. Behind the clock-tower and the Kursalon, fortifications climb the hill to its summit, which is crowned with the mossy bastion and walls of the deserted Fort Spagnuolo now only a picturesque ruin.
We learned that there was a charming walk to a Franciscan monastery in whose refectory is a "Last Supper" by the famous Florentine artist, Matteo Rosselli. The region has a semi-tropical vegetation; cacti, palms, blue-flowered century-plants, and fields covered with brilliant wild flowers, abound. But we had not a moment to spare to go anywhere.
Curzola is another island well worth a visit; and Meleda, too, with its rocky chasms and wild gorges, is as picturesque as Sicily. Passing the broad mouth of the river Ombla, we ran into the harbor of Gravosa, whose fine modern quay is adorned with a magnificent plane-tree. We took a room at the Grand Hotel Petka, on the water front, and having learned we were in time to catch the boat for Cannoza were soon comfortably ensconsced in the glass enclosed section devoted to visitors. A spick and span little steamer makes the trip to Count Gozze's famous garden, in a region where the big plane-trees grow. In just an hour we stept ashore, and, climbing a steep hill, entered the noble Ragusan's beautiful domain, which is open to the public. It is a big bouquet of bloom. Walks lie between radiant flower-beds, while cherry, plum, date, orange, lemon, fig and olive trees make a horticultural paradise.
The plane-tree region is not far from Count Gozze's villa. Both the garden and the big trees are well worth seeing. It must be confessed that to Americans, who have seen the big red-woods, in Mariposa Grove, California, the plane-trees – huge as they undoubtedly are – are not so "perfectly wonderful!" It is claimed that one of the largest specimens measures forty feet in circumference, and that its branches cover a space of two hundred feet – but John drolly remarked, "Please show us that tree – we come from Missouri!"
LOGGIA AND FORTE SPAGNUOLA
VIEW OF CITY AND HARBOR
Walking back along the Gravosa marina to our hotel, we came face to face with the oddest-looking woman. She wore a small, flat, white-cotton head-dress, which looked exactly like the ring on which I work embroidery. Her long coat was sleeveless and edged with braid. I caught a glimpse of a shabby black bodice laced up with yellow strings, worn over a coarse, once-white garment, which looked remarkably like a soiled nightgown. Her apron was woven in stripes like a variegated rag carpet and finished off with coarse cotton fringe. Her skirts were short, and didn't show below the coat and apron; but her grimy hosiery and huge feet in clumsy 'opankas' did. She was bent nearly double by the heavy sack she carried on her back. It was black with soot, and held in position by a hempen rope knotted over her breast. But no matter how heavy her load must have been, she had certainly not lost the power of her lungs. At every few steps she uttered a shrill, piercing cry which sounded like a steam siren. We found out that she was a Gravosan charcoal pedler, a sort of peripatetic coal-yard, which certainly gave all customers due notice of its proximity. There is a splendid field in Gravosa for good people who object to "unpleasant noises."
We were tired out when we reached the Petka, but found it far from a haven of rest. There was no "lift" and our room "mid dare ver' fin' look," was three stories up, and reached only by an endless staircase, with tiresome landings at every floor. On each landing was primly placed a table, flanked on each side by hideous, stiff-backed, puritanical-looking chairs. Notwithstanding the horrible green-glass vases with sadly faded, fly-blown paper-flowers, offending my sight on each table, I was so weary I would gladly have stopt to rest on any one of these uncomfortable-looking chairs. But John knew better than to let me; so I had to toil upward until we reached our room.
The view of the marina and the tranquil harbor was lovely. The water was the bluest of blue, and, on the opposite curving shore of the bay, the hills were clothed with groves of dark-green cypress, whose tall, slender spires extended from the shore to the very summit of the hill, while far beyond the misty forms of distant mountains melted into the cloudless blue sky, or merged into the limpid azure sea.
Having washed, and then reveled in the view to our heart's content, we were ready to make the downward journey, for we had had a busy day, and were ravenously hungry. Preferring to be served outdoors in the little vine-covered garden, in front of the Petka, we were conducted to the only vacant table by a profoundly self-important major-domo, who waved us to our little iron chairs with a lordly air, quite out of keeping with the wobbly table and the hills and hollows of the pebbled ground.
"It is just like a German beer-garden," I whispered, when the austere gentleman had retired to a safe distance.
"Yes, all but the beer," John replied with a sigh, as he put down his glass in disgust.
But if the beer was "luke warm and insipid," the dinner, when it at last appeared, was excellent – for Gravosa. Then, too, we were so hungry that our voracious appetites would have made the poorest cooking palatable.
Our table was in a corner of the garden where blooming oleanders formed a fragrant pink barrier, which shielded us from the curious eyes of people strolling along the marina. We were the only patrons speaking English, and discovered that English was a language of which not one of the waiters could be made to understand a word. But, most fortunately for us, "beefsteak" is almost the same in all tongues, and is a word every "garçon" seems to know, or many times we might have gone hungry.
By much practise John had acquired a set formula by which he ordered dinner everywhere; a string of words which always procured us something to eat – if not precisely the things we ordered. Following "beef-steak," the key-word, with "potatoes," John added, by way of explanation, "Grundbirne, patàtà, pomme de terre, Kartoffel, pomo di terra, or any other name you please, but we want some of the edible, farinaceous tubers, known in God's country as 'per-taters!'" Many times I have laughed until the tears were in my eyes, not so much at John's nonsense, as at the absurd look upon the face of the stolid individual who was serving us. In the end the joke was invariably on us. For after gravely taking our order, they would bring us whatever happened to be handy.
The garden was crowded with people. Natty, well-groomed Austrian officers, with dangling swords, gold braid, and brass buttons, were seen at many tables. There were so many men in uniform I made a count. There were seventeen in uniform and eleven without – and the eleven men without included all the waiters. There were a number of pretty Austrian girls, stylishly gowned, dining with the officers, fashionable-looking young ladies whose chic hats and modish costumes evidently were importations from Vienna or Paris. I found it most entertaining to watch the people and listen to the hubbub around us. I never tired of looking at passers-by on the marina, and at the charming view of the harbor, where a fine Austrian warship lay at anchor. But while I may forget, in time, all these things, I will always remember the dessert we had with that dinner at the Grand Hotel Petka in Gravosa.
Knowing that "Sprudel" was a German sweet-cake, and seeing the word among the blurred blue hieroglyphics on the menu handed him, John ordered a Sprudel for himself, while I preferred to try something with a name which looked as if it might be intended for watermelon. On being served, the Sprudel proved to be of huge proportions, so John proceeded to cut off a generous piece and put it on my plate. At the same moment our nostrils were assailed with a horrible odor. I saw John suddenly lean over and spear with his fork the portion of the delicacy he had given me, and quickly replace it on the dish. Calling a waiter, he ordered him to "take it away, quick!"
When the man with the sprudel was gone, the sickening odor gradually passed away. Then John confessed he had taken but one mouthful and found it to be "the most awful mixture he had ever tasted in his life." The sprudel had been sweet pie-crust, as he had known when ordering it, but the filling, instead of being the luscious fruit or tasty jam he expected, was – hot, boiled cabbage! Not having recognized the combination written in German chirography, it turned out that he had unconsciously ordered the Austrian titbit known as a "Kraut sprudel," and this time he got what he ordered!
When John had finished his after-dinner smoke, and I had drained the last drop of my delicious, black Turkish coffee, there was nothing to do. There were no sights to see, and nowhere to go in Gravosa; and it was much too early to think of retiring. Then, too, the thought of toiling up again, round and round the well-hole in the Petka, seemed to me almost like climbing up to the top of the Washington Monument on foot. I was determined to do anything, and go anywhere in order to put off the evil hour when I would again have to make an "ascent."
Not realizing that we were sadly offending, by breaking all precedents, we walked up the marina and took the trolley-car for Ragusa, hoping to get at least a glimpse of the town before bedtime. I discovered afterward that it was horribly déclassé for American millionaires, as we were supposed to be, to ride in a car, instead of in one of the ramshackle old hacks they call a carriage. I noticed, at the time, that the officers who rode over to Ragusa with us in the car, eyed us curiously; but I prided myself it was because we talked English, and they could see we were not English – but Americans. They see very few Americans, and we were good to look at!
That humble car ride was a treat. All the way to Ragusa we passed lovely villas, whose well-kept gardens were perfect bowers of bloom. I have seen many lovely oleander trees in Italy, but never in all my life anything more like a huge bouquet than the oleanders we passed on this ride. They were simply laden with fragrant blossoms. I particularly noticed an old stone wall, covered with bloom, close by where the car stopt on the loop to let another pass. We had quite a wait, for the car had been detained for some reason; but I was delighted, for it gave me an opportunity to enjoy the most exquisite combination of oleanders in bloom I ever saw growing. An artist himself must have planted the trees, which ranged in color from pale pink to lilac, and from pure white to deepest yellow, all blending together in a fragrant mass, whose beauty would have delighted the eyes, and warmed the heart of the most critical floriculturist.
One of the most palatial residences we passed we discovered was owned by a veritable American millionaire. It seems that twenty odd years ago a poor Dalmatian sailed away from Gravosa to make his fortune in America, the land of golden promise – as so many of his countrymen continue to do to-day. This emigrant was not only a hard-working, thrifty Dalmatian, but a lucky one as well. For he "struck oil," and some years afterward returned to his native land a millionaire. At once he purchased this splendid estate near Ragusa, and had erected upon it a princely mansion. It required three years to build the "palace." After he had taken possession, the poor man became homesick for America, as there was nothing here for him to do. Deserting his magnificent abode he sailed away again, lured by the lights and bustle of the Great White Way in dear old New York.
The funny part of the story is, that he always "expects to return shortly," and continues to refuse every offer made him for his property, which the Dalmatians desire to turn into a casino – as our coachman informed us when we drove by, a day or so after. He has now been gone so long, his countrymen wisely believe he will never return. John says, altho even the better class of foreigners think us crude and inartistic and all that, there is something in our golden sunshine and fresh, free air that, once having known they can never get out of their blood. When the hour comes, and they have their heart's desire and return to their own land, lo! they find it is too late. Like the Dalmatian American, when they return home, they find it is home to them no longer. The siren charms of "the land of the free and the home of the brave" bring them back to her feet. She has given them her money – but has stolen their hearts. On the steamer, I remember hearing an Englishman confess, "I stayed too long in America. When I returned to my own town in Cornwall, it was quite changed. I wouldn't live in the place now, if they were to give me the whole shire – it is too deadly slow!" And yet in the next breath, he abused everything American, roundly, and expatiated on the absurdity of "living so beastly farst!"
Never will I forget my first impression of Ragusa! Lovely, medieval Ragusa, which we saw in the mystic gloaming! The twilight had fallen as we crossed the square Piazza at the end of the trolley line, and made our way past the café with its little tables set out under the thick shade of mulberry trees. With strange, sad music played upon a two-stringed "guzla" dying away behind us, we stept within the shadow of the stupendous walls and entered the ancient Porta Pile.
In the dusk we saw faintly over our heads the gray form of a hoary saint. He looked down benignly from his time-stained Renaissance niche, with a smile of welcome, his hand raised in blessing. It was St. Biagio – or St. Blaise as he is also known – the city's patron saint. His patriarchal figure is seen over all the gates and on the frowning bastions; his painted portrait, or sculptured form, greets you on every side through all Ragusa. But he was not always its patron saint; many centuries ago St. Sergius had that honor.
The legend runs that one bleak winter's day, in the year of our Lord, 1026, a weary and footsore traveler arrived in Ragusa. Tapping gently at the gate of the monastery, just within the city walls, the stranger humbly asked for food and a night's lodging – promising to pay what he was able. The good Franciscan brother smiled at this, for the poor wayfarer was in rags and had nothing but a small bundle tied up in cloth, which hung upon the end of the stick he carried across his shoulder. The traveler, however, was taken in and made welcome. In the morning, after thanking the brother for his kindness, the stranger presented him with his bundle as payment for what he owed, informing the amazed ecclesiastic that it contained a holy relic, the head of St. Biagio, which he would leave as a gift to the monastery. He also declared that, in the night, the saint had appeared to him in a dream, warning him that the Venetians were about to attack the city. The monk, having listened with breathless interest to the narration, ran with the sacred relic and his amazing story to consult with his brethren. He was admonished to return immediately and fetch the stranger. But on returning to the spot where he had left him, the man was nowhere to be found, altho the outer gates were still securely closed and the great iron key was hanging in its place.
Thus, forewarned of their danger, the Ragusans were victorious. The wily Venetian foe, foiled in their tricky design to take the city unawares, was put to ignominious flight. From that day St. Biagio has been Ragusa's beloved patron saint. His head, so miraculously received, is to-day still sacredly preserved behind bolts and bars in the treasury of the cathedral, in a beautifully wrought reliquary of cloisonné enamel, ornamented with exquisite gold filigree. In other jeweled receptacles are a foot, and a hand, also of the famous Asiatic bishop, but how these relics were secured "the chronicle sayeth not."
Passing through the archway under the saint, descending a winding way between massive walls, which excited the unbounded admiration of Napoleon, as well as the wonder of his generals, we turned sharply and, emerging through another aperture in an inner wall, found ourselves in the ancient city.
Before us in the gloom stretched in a straight line the well-paved Corso, lined on either side by ancient churches and monasteries, public buildings, private dwellings and tiny shops. At the far end of the twinkling lights which now began to outline the shops and dwellings, rose the dark form of the towering campanile, the ancient Torre dell'Orologio, the hoary clock-tower, guardian of the Piazza. It has looked down through countless years on the old duomo and the new; on St. Biagio and the arcaded Dogana; on the changing crowds ever coming and going at its feet. The weary hands still make their endless round on the old dial, as the venerable timepiece patiently marks off each passing hour. But its voice has long been hushed, like the voices of the unnumbered host, who in bygone ages have passed below through the somber portal in its old walls, never, never to return.
As we left the city to return to Gravosa, I glanced back at the ancient stronghold, a stronghold which was old centuries before Columbus was born, and which had a splendid commerce and civilization when London was still a country town. Out of the night rose before me a mystic city, crowning precipitous rocks which rose majestically from the sea, with medieval towers and turrets, massive walls and frowning battlements, ancient monasteries and time-mellowed palaces – a dream city of the past; but a city which on the morrow would wake again with all its archaic life.
Quaint, adorable Ragusa – medieval from Porta Pile to Porta Plocce, from Torre Menze, your highest bastion on the mountain, to your lowliest rocks washed by the waves – changeless city; still the Ragusa of the Middle Ages, canopied by the same tranquil stars, lulled to rest by the same eternal sea!
My diary for Wednesday night, written on the top of the Grand Hotel Petka, now runs: "I've only a moment, for I'm so weary and tired I can hardly keep my eyes open, let alone write. While everything is still fresh in my mind, I must tell about 'my girl,' and put down the story just as it happened. Poor little soul! She cried so much I couldn't get her off my mind. Unconsciously I found myself watching her, and over and over again saw her crying softly to herself, or standing motionless with tightly clasped hands, her face always turned toward that far-away peasant home in the mountains behind Spalato. She was a pitiful, forlorn little figure, and always quite alone. The man in the fez didn't notice her at all. He was off somewhere all the time, hobnobbing with the men.
"It happened that on a rainy day in Venice I bought some zephyr and began to make a sacque. I crochet so rapidly I felt sure I could finish it that day, or the next, and so could get it off by post before John became provoked and scolded me for buying such absurd things as zephyr and a crochet hook, 'only to have to lug them all over Europe.' But the next day was fair, and, altho the sacque was all finished except the border, I never got an opportunity to take another stitch. I had slipt it in between my shirt-waists at the very bottom of my suitcase and forgotten all about it. One day, while sitting on the deck of the Lesina, when John was off playing cards with somebody, I suddenly remembered it. I ran down to our cabin and got it out and fell to work like a Trojan. The ball of zephyr persisted in rolling out of my lap. I picked it up again and again, and then to my dismay it went skimming across the deck and disappeared under the rail – falling into the dirty steerage. I broke my yarn at once, and went quickly to the rail to see if I could locate the ball; but it was nowhere in sight. Soon after I noticed 'my girl' coming toward me, the ball in her hand. Her eyes were red, so I knew at once she had been crying again. When I thanked her she didn't even look at me, but I caught her as she glanced at the sacque. A sudden inspiration came to me. 'See!' I cried; 'isn't it cute?' holding it up for her to see. 'I'm making it for a tiny little American baby!' Almost unconsciously she stretched out her hand and I gave her the dainty, little, white wool thing. She gazed at it like a child dazed with the glory of its first fine dolly. Her whole expression changed; she held it up with both hands with a rapturous light in her eyes; then carefully examined it, patting it lovingly with the tips of her work-hardened fingers. Her face was transfigured. I saw her look of yearning maternity – and then I knew!
"I suppose I did a foolish thing, for I promised her right then and there that she should have the sacque just as soon as I finished it. I felt sure she understood me – but the next moment she had gone. After supper, long after it had grown dark, John and I sat together talking things over. From where I sat in my steamer-chair, I could look down on the steerage deck. By the light of a lamp, I caught sight of my girl sitting on a low box, or something, far forward between two barrels. She fascinated me; she acted so peculiarly I could not take my eyes off her. I couldn't be sure it was she, for the light was dim, but we both thought it was, as we watched her. Altho she could not possibly see us, she acted as if she knew some one was watching her. Several times she hid her face in her hands, and then started up and looked wildly about her; then crouched back again, as if trying to hide herself between the oil-barrels. I told John I felt sure she was about to do herself some harm. But he laughed at me, and declared it was only my imagination. Manlike, he often ridicules what I know from woman's intuition. But this time, I felt sure I was right. Something seemed to tell me to act – and act quickly.
"'John, go down! Go down to her at once!' I whispered. 'Oh, please, please go!' I earnestly implored, laying a trembling hand upon his arm. He hesitated. At that very moment the girl got up. We saw her look quickly around, and then stealthily make her way toward the rail. I didn't have to speak again. Convinced at last that something was wrong, John darted noiselessly away. Thank God! he was just in time! She was trying to climb the rail to throw herself overboard at the very instant he reached her. She gave a piercing scream, as he clutched her by the skirts and dragged her back. No matter what he may say, I know he saved her life. Everybody praised him up to the nines; and oh! I was so proud of him.
"The story ran like wildfire all over the boat, and there was an awful hubbub. John declared he had done nothing to make such a fuss about, and that any credit there was belonged to me. But that was just like John! He never poses, and he hates the limelight. When everything was over, the man in the fez and a crowd of steerage folks swarmed around her, all chattering like magpies. John asked one of the officers to tell the fellow in the fez to treat her more kindly – and the selfish creature promised he would, for he was frightened.
"There is only one more thing to tell. When I went down to say good-by, and give her the sacque as I had promised, I had quite a time in finding her. At last I discovered her, busily engaged in stuffing a lot of things in her striped bags. She had tied up her bedding in a huge bundle. As the 'fez' was not around, she even dared to smile a little. I had on my new blue beads John bought me in Venice. They caught her eye at once. These poor, benighted peasants all believe in luck, and charms, and live in terror of the evil eye. Blue beads are supposed to be a sure protection, and a most potent charm, insuring their wearer not only against the evil eye, but preventing broken legs, diseases, fires, loss of money and other misfortunes. I remember in Naples we saw blue beads around people's necks and tied on donkeys – dangling from their manes and tails.
"So when the girl cried 'Schön! Schön!' I understood she meant 'beautiful.' Before John could say a word, I unclasped my necklace and put it in her hand, saying, 'Glück auf – Good luck to you! Then I turned quickly and walked away, so she couldn't say anything, or try to give them back. John declared it was a most foolish thing to do, to give a girl like that my pretty Venetian beads. He says he knows I will be very sorry some day. I insisted I never would be – but, oh dear! I am sorry already. I know it is abominably selfish, but I did love them; they were so becoming. Now I haven't a thing to keep up my lace collars and in my Dutch-neck waists I shall look a regular fright without them. But way down in my heart I am glad I gave them to her, whenever I think how happy they will make her. She believes they will bring her good luck and avert evil – so they will. Good luck to her – and to that dear little bark which God will send her from over the sea. Yes, I am glad; really glad."
RAGUSA: A CHRISTIAN LIGHTHOUSE IN A MOSLEM SEA
IN the twilight, Ragusa with her old gates, feudal walls, and towering battlements was so enchantingly ancient, and it had such an alluringly medieval flavor, we were almost afraid to make a thorough inspection in "the garish light of day," fearing we would be wofully disenchanted. But we might have saved ourselves all misgivings, had we but known that the unique charm of the quaint little city becomes more accentuated with every hour of closer acquaintance.
Ragusa is a very small city, but so picturesque, so well paved, and so scrupulously clean, that it takes rank, in these respects at least, with famous Italian cities, like Florence and Pisa, of which it often reminds you. In its general arrangement, Ragusa follows the plan of Venice. The Corso runs at right-angles with the Piazza on which, at the further end, is the Rector's Palace, exactly as the Piazza San Marco turns into the Piazzetta on the end of which is the Doge's Palace. On each side of the Corso, are narrower thoroughfares with charming Venetian Gothic doorways and lovely windows with graceful balconies, which, no doubt, earned for the city her nickname of "Venezia Minore."
VIEW FROM MT. SERGIO
Whole volumes have been written about the miniature, but famous, Republic of Ragusa – as the city became known during the pontificate of Pius V., in the sixteenth century. It has known many vicissitudes. For centuries it had cause to fear, not only its known foes, but the treacherous designs of those who posed as friends. To-day, Ragusa's importance as a maritime power has gone, with her vanished merchantmen. But like a wee bit of flotsam left on the sands of time as the centuries have swept by, unchanged and unchanging through all the years, she remains inviolate – a city of the Middle Ages still sheltered by her massive walls.
The first settlement dates from the time when a Roman noble had his fortified castle on the rocky promontory. Below, in the shadow of his walls, a few fishing huts were built upon the shore. The authorities differ by several centuries as to the exact date, but in what is known as the Dark Ages, crowds of refugees sought safety here – fugitives from Salona, ravaged by the barbarian Slavs, and from the ancient city of Epidaurus, ten miles away, now known as Ragusa Vecchia, or old Ragusa. The lord of the castle succored the refugees. He permitted them to form a small community of their own, protected by his feudal battlements and his little army of retainers. With the passing of years the little cluster of fishing huts disappeared and a town rose in their place, a town well built and peopled by skilful workmen, proficient in the arts and crafts of Greece and Rome, inhabitants possessing the culture and civilization they had brought from their own ancient cities.
Ragusa's proudest boast is never-failing Christian charity, a hospitality which is world famous. Through all past centuries her gates have never remained closed to the cry of the needy – be they great or small. She has given refuge and timely succor again and again to fugitive kings and to fleeing nobles. The humblest mortals have never craved her protection in vain. Almost as if by a miracle the tiny republic, like a lighthouse on a rock, has endured through the storms which raged around it – a Christian beacon whose faithful light has never been quenched by the turbulent sea of infidelity which encircled it. Like a brave color-bearer Ragusa, through years of conflict with the Moslem foe, has fearlessly held aloft, high above the gory standard of the victorious Star and Crescent, her golden banner of the Cross.
While Ragusa's boast that her portals have never been profaned by the foot of a Moslem foe is just, still her much-vaunted independence and long-possest freedom were only made secure by strategy. At exactly the proper moment, she dexterously shifted from one powerful protector to another. With craft and skill worthy of her Turkish neighbors, she has owed her safety many times to her ability in setting her enemies to fighting one another. Charming little stories enhance greatly the interest of the tiny medieval city, stories which not only strongly exemplify the practical Christianity of Ragusans, but show them to have been adepts in the arts of diplomacy.
In the fourteenth century, fugitives from Servia, Bosnia, and Herzegovina were guests of the city, having fled before the approach of Turkish hordes then overrunning Europe. When the Sultan's army demanded the surrender of the refugees and threatened the city, Ragusa firmly refused, altho fully conscious of the danger she incurred by thwarting the will of the victorious hordes almost at her gates. The bellicose Turks made insistent demands and terrifying threats, but through all their clamor, Ragusa remained obdurate, calmly refusing to surrender those to whom she had given shelter. The Sultan marveled at her courage and his wrath was finally appeased, and he ceased his threats, declaring that "so hospitable a state as Ragusa can never fall!"
A century later, survivors of a wrecked vessel were taken into the city and shown every kindness. Two of those who had been saved from a watery grave by Ragusan fishermen, proved to be the Papal admiral, Marcantonio Colonna, and Sforza Pallavicino, a famous Venetian general. Their rescue and hospitable treatment gained for the republic the gratitude of Rome and of Venice, the latter the most feared, most powerful and wily of all her enemies.
From the earliest times a most devout Christian city, Ragusa was ever a favorite protege of Rome. Pope Urban V. granted the republic's request for permission to enter into a trade alliance with the infidels, a stroke of most sagacious diplomacy which had far-reaching results. It not only secured the trade of the Turks, but made them friends, and, in later years, it gave Ragusa almost a monopoly of an immensely profitable trade with the Levant. While making the most out of her business with the infidels, she preserved friendly relations with the rest of Europe by an unswerving devotion to Christianity, and her systematic refusal to be drawn into the ever-recurring wars which embroiled her neighbors. This was the more necessary because of the smallness of the republic and her geographical position, both of which made her a most easy prey.
In the sixteenth century the republic discovered that the Venetians were secretly concocting designs against her, being jealous of her independence. Realizing that their friend, the pope, was an old man, the Ragusans were wise enough to see that at his death the voracious Lion of St. Mark, undeterred, might make some pretense the excuse for gobbling up such a savory morsel as their unprotected republic. So the senators conferred and decided to send ambassadors to all Christian nations, seeking their support. By shrewd representations, seconded by the powerful influence of the aged pope, an alliance was thus secured, which made Ragusa the "Ward of Christendom." A clause in the treaty, signed by the powers, distinctly stated that "no act of hostility shall be committed against Ragusa, or her territory."
Spain, Venice, Hungary, and the Empire then became sponsors for the small republic, together with the Barbary Deys and the Turks. This condition of affairs earned for the wily state the mocking sobriquet of "Le Sette Bandiere" – the seven banners. But Ragusa could well afford to let others smile, for she smiled last, and best. More than once she successfully pitted one of her "protectors" against another, when serious dangers beset her. Historians declare this to be the real secret of her having been able to retain her independence through centuries of storm and stress.
Knowing the story of little Ragusa's constant struggle to keep from being absorbed by her designing neighbors, or submerged by the Moslem sea when it was sweeping all Europe before it, she becomes even more interesting. Knowing her glorious past we can well understand why her citizens proudly tell you they are not Austrians, or Italians, or Slavs, but Ragusans! The republic may be small and old, and of little importance, but her famous story adds new luster to every object our eyes rest upon.
As truly "delightful" as we found other Dalmatian cities, they all sank into insignificance when compared with this "fairest gem of Adria," a lovely medieval jewel still boasting its original, antique setting. Few cities in the world can offer the traveler such a number of unique attractions. All the modern comforts can be secured at more than one of the excellent hotels just outside the walls, to which is added an exquisite situation high above the bluest of blue seas, on a shore clothed with luxuriant semi-tropical vegetation. With a glorious history recorded unbrokenly by a long line of illustrious writers, the republic is also the proud possessor of a store of ancient relics, which, in richness of workmanship and artistic beauty, have rarely been excelled – heirlooms hoarded by monks with loving care in old cupboards black with age, treasures protected by bolts and bars, and safeguarded by locks with many keys in the dim vaults of church treasuries. And there are other treasures – even more precious to some of us – exquisitely carved capitals and graceful columns, soaring campaniles and ancient palaces, hoary clock-towers and time-mellowed buildings, still protected by the same massive walls and frowning bastions which have preserved them unimpaired for more than a score of centuries – for our delight, and for the joy of posterity.
The moment you step within the stupendous walls the prosaic twentieth century is left behind you. Shut in a narrow space, a winding road, descending between the walls of the fortifications by a sudden turn, brings you into the city – and back into the Middle Ages! The straight, well-paved Corso, or Stradone as it is often called, stretches before you, lined on both sides with fine buildings, tiny shops, hoary churches, and queer dwellings, and gay with an attractive crowd of people sauntering to and fro. A crowd in which are seen Dalmatians of every type and class, interspersed with a sprinkling of people of all other nationalities. At the far end of the Corso is the ancient Torre dell'Orologio, a most picturesque clock-tower with an arch under it, through which runs the tortuous road under many walls and over many bridges to Porta Plocce, the other gate of this most quaint of fortified cities.
The first thing which catches the eye on entering by Porta Pile is an ancient fountain, a polygon in shape, with a low stone dome. It is of huge dimensions, its sides marked off with slender columns, between each of which are time-worn bronze ornaments. In the center of the escutcheons are heads, some of animals, some of men, from the mouths of which, by pressing a button, a wee little stream of water is made to trickle forth. If not caught in a receptacle, the water falls into the deep trough extending round the fountain, finished off by a stone balustrade. In ancient days the tops of the columns were adorned with graceful figures encircling the dome. All these disappeared centuries ago. The fountain once boasted the signs of the zodiac, but only one now remains; while it may have lost some of its pristine glory it does not show it. It still remains a useful ornament and an attractive monument to Onofrio de la Cava, the long departed engineer in whose honor it was constructed.
The fountain is just a fountain. Onofrio's story makes it something more. Onofrio was a Neapolitan, and not only an able architect, but a skilful engineer as well. Early in the fifteenth century he was engaged to construct an aqueduct, to supply the city with water, from a stream some eight miles back in the hills. For this work a certain sum was provided, and Onofrio's contract stipulated that the work should be finished within a given time. As so often happens, even to-day, the money was exhausted long before the aqueduct was completed, and the tax-payers began to grumble. Onofrio was declared incompetent, and his aqueduct an impossibility. Malcontents accused him openly of being a "grafter," or whatever was the term used in those days. Fortunately for Ragusa, and for Onofrio himself, the matter was left to a board of inquiry, an honest board, which, after careful consideration, unanimously decided in favor of another appropriation, and giving Onofrio a chance to prove he could successfully finish the work. Finally, in 1438, the aqueduct was completed, and the event celebrated with public rejoicing. To this day it supplies the city with spring water from the mountains. It was in recognition of Onofrio's services that the funds to construct this fountain were raised by popular subscription. Upon it an inscribed plate bears his name and the words "Architecto Municipes."
A smaller fountain at the other end of the Corso, a few steps from the clock-tower, is also the work of Onofrio. It is very pretty, with its Gothic foliage crowning fat-faced cherubs, who squirt little streams of water from wide-open mouths. Above are five small dolphins hanging by their tails, and spouting smaller streams into an upper basin. The fountain proper is octagonal in shape and has full-length bas-relief figures carved on each side, on panels below the massive curbing.
At almost any hour of the day a snapshot of picturesque Ragusans can be caught here. The fountain, raised from the Piazza by a broad, low step, is built in part under a quaint round arch let into the wall of the building behind. This arch has time-stained stone ribs dividing it off into sections, and by its somber shadow it makes a most effective background for the picture formed by gossiping crowds in gorgeous costumes drawing water and chattering together at the fountain.
Just across from the larger fountain, near Porta Pile, is the pretty chapel of St. Salvatore. Like most things in Ragusa, it has a delightful story which, to you and me, adds additional charm to relics of a vanished era. It was erected in 1520, "to express the gratitude of the city to St. Biagio and the Blessed Virgin," who, by timely intervention, saved Ragusa from being overwhelmed by the earthquake of that year. We are told by Rizzi – one of the city's historians – that twenty persons were killed and many injured; and that property of a value of 100,000 ducats was destroyed.
ONOFRIO'S FAMOUS FOUNTAIN
Gelcich, another authority, gives several interesting facts. "This shock," he says, "caused much spiritual benefit, for many people confessed their sins, said prayers, and gave alms. Each Sunday the Government, with all the people, went in procession to implore Divine mercy, and vowed to build a church in honor of the Savior, on which it was decided to spend 1,500 ducats." He explains that three nobles were appointed as provveditori to handle the money and superintend the construction of the votive church. But, like some other building committees, the provveditori used their high position to further their own ends. Noble matrons, however, for the good of their souls, in their bare feet, are said to have carried materials to the building, while devout men of noble lineage worked side by side with the masons. Notwithstanding the public enthusiasm, the construction of St. Salvatore dragged along slowly, and at an ever-increasing outlay. This is easily understood when we learn that the officials in charge appropriated the material, and employed the workmen in rebuilding their own private domiciles, injured by the earthquake, while the House of the Lord had to wait.
This story shows that while times change, men do not. The same thing happened in Washington, not so very long ago, when an official used Uncle Sam's time, material, and labor, to build his own house – and he didn't have the excuse of an earthquake, either. The earthquake came when he was found out.
A few steps on the Corso from the votive church of St. Salvatore, is the Franciscan church and monastery. The first church of this order was built outside the present fortifications, but was destroyed by the Slavs as early as 1319. The new Mala Brača was built on its present site just within Porta Pile. In olden times monks were expected to fight as well as pray, and so it was encumbent upon them to protect the portal beside their monastery, exactly as their Dominican brethren did at their house at the other side of the city, where they were the constituted guardians of Porta Plocce. Each noble was also expected to safeguard with his armed retainers the walls of his own domain, forming part of the city's fortifications.
Poor Ragusa, many as were her human enemies, she had even worse foes! She experienced again and again visitations from fire and pestilence, and suffered for centuries a recurrence of fearfully destructive earthquakes. Knowing all the calamities she has borne, it is marvelous not only that she retains so much of her ancient grandeur, but that she exists at all.
The second Franciscan church suffered, from an earthquake, the same fate as the first. To-day all that remains of the ancient structure is the very attractive south portal on the Corso, in the late Venetian Gothic style. It has a sculptured "Pieta" in the central niche above the door, flanked by saints on each side, surmounted above by a venerable figure which looks as if intended for St. Biagio himself.
SAN SALVATORE, VOTIVE CHURCH
VENETIAN GOTHIC DOORWAY, FRANCISCAN CHURCH
The Franciscans have in their monastery one of the most exquisite cloisters I have ever seen. It dates from the year 1317, and has a square courtyard with three wonderfully beautiful bays on each side opening out of it, with round arches upheld by five graceful columns, coupled closely together, and having quaint and fantastic Romanesque capitals – capitals which the more you study them, the more you are charmed by their infinite variety. The sculptor seems to have given his fancy full play, his designs running the whole gamut from foliage, spirals, and rosettes, to all manner of grotesque monsters. There are winged dragons, grinning heads, masks, and even a litter of young puppies. Marvelous as it may seem, considering the light and graceful lines of the slender columns, the cloister survived the great earthquake of 1667, which destroyed the church and wrought terrible havoc elsewere throughout the city.
It is said that, altho the church and convent were seriously damaged, the greatest injury was due to an incendiary fire, the work of looting Morlacchi, who, in the confusion, swarmed into the wrecked city and stole everything they could lay their hands on. The friars fled, and for days the flames devoured the church and other buildings. The magnificent ceiling of the church, decorated with paintings by Titian, and adorned with fine carving and gilding, was totally destroyed, together with "a miraculous crucifix and the high altar with twenty-six silver statues which adorned it." The fire utterly destroyed most of the 6,500 volumes in the library. Many ancient and valuable manuscripts, beside illuminated choral books adorned with gilded miniatures, were reduced to ashes. That the cloister escaped is due to the heroism of one of the friars – Fra Elia da Caneli – who had been left in charge of the buildings, and three times put out fires kindled by the marauders.
Words seem quite inadequate to express the subtle, indefinable charm of this cloister garden. While it is beautiful, it is not alone beauty which delights the eye; some mystic fascination charms you from the first, and makes you love it.
On each side of the narrow, paved walk are long marble benches, where the monks sit and sun themselves, or talk together when the day is done. In the center rises a fountain with a tall shaft, on which, on a large, flat stone, stands the figure of St. Francis of Assisi, who himself is said to have founded the first Mala Brača, which was built soon after he visited Ragusa and founded the order, in 1220. The backs of the seats form the sides of a raised garden, on either side of which, in fragrant bloom, are roses of various hues from purest white to deepest crimson, while masses of starry jessamine run riot amid the tropical profusion of luxuriant green foliage.
While we were there a soft breeze stole through the cloister, and the giant palms gently waved their long leaves to and fro to the soft rhythm of the gurgling fountain. A tall orange tree swayed its glossy boughs and rocked its burden of golden fruit in unison with the anthem of praise and thanksgiving which the monks were chanting in the distant choir, which was borne softly to us through the shadowed arches in solemn echoes. While here, Ragusa, with her sunny Corso, her gay shops, her bustling life, is forgotten, and a holy calm and divine peace fall like benedictions on the tired spirit. The soul is uplifted as the world fades away, while you sit entranced on the old marble bench and dreaming of the past, listen to the chanting monks, the water in the fountain, and drink in the beauty around. You dream of mystic, dark-robed figures who, in long vanished years, sat here by the fountain where you sit, and whose very names are forgotten. But the garden blooms with the same wealth of flowers, the fountain sings the same old song, the time-stained marble is warmed by the same sun, just as in those summer days of long, long ago. Even the music the choir is chanting is the same – it is only the voices of those ancient choristers that are mute – as they long have been.
It seems strange to think that it was just here that the brave and faithful Fra Elia, almost two hundred and fifty years ago, unaided and alone, battled with the flames under these very sculptured arches we see, and so saved the cloister he loved. A little bird comes and perches on the brim of the fountain. You watch him as he preens his feathers, making a careful toilet to the droning hum of bees clustered in the roses behind you. Suddenly the bells in the campanile ring out, and the bird flies away. You then realize it is time for you, too, to go, for the world calls you. But never will you forget your mystic day-dreams of the hoary past in that lovely old cloister garden of Ragusa.
And now for a passage from the diary, written in the Imperial Hotel: "Have forgotten the date (some time in July), but it doesn't matter. Wish I had a brand new adjective to devote exclusively to Ragusa – incomparable, superlatively lovely Ragusa! The truth is, every place in Dalmatia has been so enjoyable, I have gone from rapture to rapture; so I hardly know how best to express the joy and charm of Ragusa. I feel as I do in early spring, when that fresh, earthy smell intoxicates me, and everything seems to rejoice. The radiant sunshine, the blue sky, the yellow dandelions, and the budding boughs all shout to me, and I feel so happy that I must shout, too! Of course, I do not mean that in July it is literally like spring in Ragusa. On the contrary, it is h-o-t! and you are always conscious that it is July. But everything is so superb, so wonderfully medieval and interesting, that I forget it is warm, that my feet ache, and that I am tired and hungry. Actually, I hate to lose a moment in going back to the hotel, even to have a delicious luncheon in a little leafy bower. I prefer to stay out and make John buy anything he can, in one of these funny little cubbyholes they call shops.
"Ragusa is so – everything! I do not believe the most cross-grained, fault-finding globe-trotter could resist her. I'd be willing to cross the ocean and come all the way down the Adriatic without stopping anywhere, to have just another week in Ragusa alone! A visit here is worth the expense of the entire trip. Even John admits that, and he doesn't have 'spasms of delight' as I do. While he laughs at my enthusiasm, I know he is pleased to have me enjoy everything so much. I can read this in his eyes. I heard him say once, he'd 'hate to have to travel with a kill-joy.' Maybe I am foolish, to go into raptures over everything I admire, but I really can not help it. It makes me so much the happier, that I am glad I can not.
"Just inside Porta Pile, what should I discover to my dismay but a postcard booth, which gave me the horrors, for it seemed so terribly incongruous a thing in a medieval tenth-century town. But as the booth was there – and I wanted to get some cards – I stifled my indignation and bought a set from the smiling matron in charge, who was delightfully Dalmatian, and nodded so pleasantly that I completely forgot to count my change. I must admit I never know how to count foreign money, but John does. He looked over my change from this purchase, and asked me why I had let her cheat me out of thirty heller. I was really upset until he told me the difference amounted to only six cents. I suppose the woman thought American millionaires didn't count their change, so she wasn't particular to give me every heller due. Everybody here cheats me.
"John says I am 'easy,' and maybe I am; but think what a lot of pleasure I would miss if I were always thinking about money! John doesn't let any of these people fool him. He has a cute way of making them pay up what they owe him, and to the very last cent. After they give him his change, he keeps holding out his hand. Then they get nervous, and slowly, piece by piece, grudgingly add coins until he has gotten the right amount. When they refuse to add more, and begin to protest and vociferate, then he feels sure he has not been cheated. It works every time, John says, even when he isn't at all sure what the amount due him really is; but of course they don't know that! A woman in Venice was so furious when she had to pay up, she curst him roundly. She declared he 'would cheat the pope,' and 'wanted her children to starve,' but all the other vendors laughed at her, and enjoyed her discomfiture at discovering John to be one of the few millionaires who refused to be robbed.
"The Franciscan cloister is adorable. My feet became so tired I got John to let me stay there a long time to rest, and I enjoyed every moment. It was very still and solemn. As I sat thinking of all the happiness God has given me, a thought suddenly came to me, a thought about that Bela man, and his coming to Cattaro. For he is coming this time. John has a card that he is there now. I don't know why I should have thought of him, when I was so happy; but I did. Then I thought of John, and how I was deceiving him, deceiving my own adored husband, whose every thought is to make me happy. Then I became conscious for the first time of how contemptible, and unworthy I am. And right there at the feet of the good St. Francis, who looked down so calmly upon me, I made up my mind just what I would do. I would tell John, before we meet Bela in Cattaro! Just as I was trying to think how I could tell him, after all. these days, a sudden inspiration came to me, to take my diary to him, and ask him to read it. Then he would know everything. It is humiliating to think I must do it – but I must. And I'm sure I will, only I shall wait a little, until I feel confident I can do it without crying and making a scene. That would spoil everything by making him angry. It is going to be hard, but now I am perfectly happy again. I have learned a good lesson. I will never, never, conceal anything from my dear, good husband again. And way down in my heart I realize, now, that I was vain, and did act flirtily – or that man never would have dared to write me. I mean to look right up into John's eyes and confess everything."
RAGUSA: THE SPONZA, ORLANDO'S COLUMN, AND CABOGA
BEFORE leaving the Franciscan convent, at least a glimpse should be had of the sacristy, for in it is an ancient wash-basin, known as a "lavabo," and well worth seeing. The upper cornice is supported by two grooved half-columns with fine Corinthian capitals. On a broad, sculptured band running across the lavabo, above the basin proper, are three fat-faced cherubs, with outspread wings, winning smiles, and fluted nimbi – and that is all. Between each two cherub heads is a conventional little vase bearing a bouquet of flowers. Below the central cherub is an oblong stone bracket, on which is carved a grotesque face, having neither wings, smile, nor nimbus; but it has carved locks, carefully crimped and parted in the middle, while under the eyes are beds of wrinkles. From its pursed up lips a little stream of water flows into an ample basin supported by two stone brackets. High in the air, above the lavabo, on each side, are ordinary wooden towel-racks, from which dangle long, coarse linen towels for the convenience of the monks at their ablutions. I confess, freely, that the towels and the metal hooks set in the wall above the basin, upon which were hung a metal bucket and a tin dipper with a long handle, decidedly detracted from the artistic effect of the lovely lavabo, with its delightfully quaint carving, and its appropriate inscription, "Lavamini mundi estote," which John says means "Wash and be clean."
The Franciscans have another cloister further up the hill, long and narrow, and not so handsome as the other, but much more famous. Here in the garden, monks in ancient days grew the herbs and simples for a pharmacy that is one of the oldest in Europe. Friars still keep drugs in some of the ancient receptacles, and will show you queer old jugs and jars, but nothing will tempt them to part with any of their priceless treasures. The cloister garden has the quaintest of old wells under a little slanting roof, called a "pent house." The roof is of red tiles, the upper end resting against the wall, the lower supported on stone columns. Above it, on a marble slab set into the wall, is a delightful and most venerable sun-dial, having a painted border of faded arabesques, the hours being shown by long lines carved on the stone. At the top, beneath the scrolls, juts out a long, rusty iron rod, intended to indicate the time by casting its shadow on the dial. But as the roof of the two-story building projects above it, and a tall tree stands beside it, I imagine the dial is more picturesque than serviceable.
A steep flight of steps behind the cloister leads up the mountain. On the very summit is a splendid old bastion, known as Torre Menza, or the Mincetta Tower, not only the highest but the most magnificent of all Ragusa's massive fortifications, and, best of all, it was built by our Giorgio of Sebenico. He was employed in 1464, while patiently waiting for his Sebenico brethren to raise sufficient money for him to finish his famous cathedral.
On coming from the solemn shadows of the church into the sunny Corso, with its chattering crowds and gay colors, the street seemed all the brighter by comparison. Ragusa's streets are full of life and color. Dalmatians of all types and every style of costume are met everywhere, but in the Corso and Piazza are gathered the gayest crowds. Here you will come face to face with Canalesi women in stiffly starched white coifs, laboriously plaited, and see Herzegovinian maidens who look like brides, with their tiny red caps adorned with a flowing white kerchief, edged with lace or fringe, hanging down their broad backs like wedding veils. Many Ragusa women forcibly remind you of Rome. They are of the swarthy, Italian type. Their resemblance to the women of the Campagna is accentuated by bright kerchiefs similar to those seen in many Italian cities.
The majority of the males wear the huge and hideously full, blue Dalmatian trousers, which have a habit of sagging most alarmingly. These trousers always seem in imminent danger of parting company with the upper garments completely, notwithstanding that above the sash worn around the waist is usually worn a broad leather belt. This belt forms a cummerbund sort of pouch, in which the Ragusan carries his arsenal of knives and pistols – the latter of the blunderbuss variety.
During a short stay, it is almost impossible to learn to distinguish people by their styles of dress. The variety seen in headgear alone, is quite bewildering. There are tall green hats trimmed with strips of black astrachan, and tiny red caps without a brim, gorgeous Bosnian turbans, the green turban of the Moslem who has been to Mecca, Albanians in near-white fezes, Herzegovinians in "pork-pie" berettas, Austrian officers in stiff military caps, and subjects of the Sultan in scarlet, or bright red fezes, having long, dangling, silk tassels. In addition to all this Oriental variety, will be seen a generous sprinkling of the heterogeneous collection of head-coverings usually encountered in a five-minutes' walk down Broadway.
At what are known as "Oriental Emporiums," the greater portion of the wares, I believe, are banked up outside the shops. Some of the very finest Persian and Turkish rugs and draperies we saw were displayed on the outer wall of a shop near Onofrio's big fountain. The cost of each article for sale in the Corso fluctuates with the appearance of the prospective purchaser, growing greater or less in exact proportion to the amount of affluence he seems to have, and the interest shown in the article to be purchased. John very wisely always leaves me somewhere else whenever he wants to buy anything. He declares that I ruin a bargain, even if I don't say a word, just by the way I look.
In a tailor's shop we saw a number of Albanians sewing. They sat doubled up on a queer little platform like a shelf, with their feet under them, Turkish fashion, stitching away on gorgeous jackets and caps. All were men, and it seemed odd to see them sewing silver and gold braid, putting on little glittering spangles, and working patterns in tinsel thread. We priced some of the finished caps which hung on the walls of the shop, but they asked us four dollars. John never smiled when he explained, in his best Italian, that he must have been misunderstood. He wanted one cap – not half a dozen.
I was delighted to discover a fine, big photograph and picture store on the Corso, and wished to buy a number of views, for fear some of our own might not turn out well. But the man in charge was listless, and apparently too tired to show us his stock. He didn't utter a word. Contenting himself with simply pointing to a lot of fly-specked, sun-faded postcards, he went on picking his teeth.
The jewelry shops are the most attractive of all, with their varied assortments of filigree ornaments, ranging from rings and earrings to huge belt buckles ten inches across. Chains and hair ornaments of many kinds are seen, and hairpins adorned with gilt chains and hanging balls in silver-gilt. Here, in fact, is seen all the jewelry with which Dalmatian women delight to bedeck themselves. Any number of barbaric-looking ornaments can be purchased. Chains of coins, rings, and the metal gewgaws of the people, pass from generation to generation; they represent the wearer's "dot," and she displays them with conscious pride. She aims not only to make herself attractive by a brave show of finery, but hopes her "dot" will catch the eye of some unmarried swain, and secure his serious attention.
In a queer, flat glass case hung on the outer wall of a shop in the Corso, I caught sight of a number of the dangling filigree buttons which men wear strung over the fronts of their sleeveless jackets. I made John go in and price them. I'm afraid I did forget, and so, maybe, I looked too eager; for when the man came out with a key he unlocked the case and put the buttons right in my hand, before he had even mentioned the price. After critically inspecting me from tip to toe, and then inspecting John, and having properly "sized us up," the man laconically declared: "Vier kronen, jedes!" "Four kronen, each?" exclaimed John in astonishment, for that statement meant eighty cents apiece for the buttons. "Ya, jedes," answered the man. Taking the buttons, John handed them back, and, without wasting a word, we turned and left him, speechless with astonishment. He hadn't dreamed that we knew what the buttons were worth, from having priced some exactly similar over in Spalato. As we passed a couple of sailors who had been interested spectators, we heard one of them say: "Not fool Engleesch! Mer-ikar Yankee – all right! Me been in New York." He nodded to us and smiled knowingly. We smiled, too.
Travelers intending to pay a visit to Constantinople can not do better than go by way of Dalmatia. It affords an excellent school in which to learn the art of Oriental bartering. John declared after his weeks of experience in "dickering" for everything he bought, that he could now hold his own with the most wily of Ragusa's shopkeepers. The joke is that, instead of getting provoked or discourteous when he begins to bargain with them, they all beam upon him most approvingly. "The reesch Engleesch," who pay without question the ridiculous prices demanded of foreigners for everything, to them is simply an egregious fool. A customer who is an "easy mark" (no matter what the amount of his purchase) is, in the eyes of a Dalmatian merchant – exactly as in the opinion of the Turk – an imbecile, unworthy of consideration; and one for whom they have only contempt.
No matter how gay and chattering a Ragusan may be, if one only mentions the word "earthquake," instantly the face grows solemn and the person loses not a moment in crossing himself. All over the city you still see on walls of buildings and over doorways the sacred cipher, "I. H. S.," and often with a little cross on the middle letter. These significant inscriptions mostly date from the earthquake of 1520, at which time the inhabitants had them placed on public buildings and homes as "a pious invocation and plea for Divine protection." It is said that for twenty months after the quake, earth-tremors were felt; so no wonder the poor people became almost panic stricken, and sought by prayers, votive offerings, and the sacred monogram, to appease, as they believed, the wrath of an offended Deity.
One of the most attractive and striking buildings in Ragusa is the Dogana, or Sponza, as the customhouse here is more commonly called. It is one of the buildings that have survived the earthquake of 1667; and it has not only a lovely loggia on the front facing the Piazza, but has a fine, large inner court, with a double arcade, which is most effective. On an end wall is the cipher, "I. H. S.," in the center of a garland supported by two serious-looking angels, with a long Latin inscription in letters of lead let into the stone, which we couldn't read, but it gives the date "MDXX."
The custom-house occupies the ground floor. The public scales for weighing all merchandise hang in the central arch, just opposite the entrance. Above, in time-worn old letters, can still be seen in Latin the words: "We do the weighing, but God holds the scales," and other mottoes. In ancient times the first floor was used for balls and public meetings. Here the literati of Ragusa used to meet to study Italian literature; while on the second floor was located the Government mint.
The Sponza is said to be of several different dates, the earliest mention of it occurring in one of the ancient documents, which gives the amount appropriated for its completion, in 1312. It stands at the angle formed by the Corso and Piazza. An unobstructed view can be had from it of both, by looking in different directions through the arches of its fine loggia. The façade is particularly attractive. Over the arched portico are two ogee-headed windows, with pretty tracery, on each side of one of the most attractive "trinity windows" in Ragusa. The three lights have splendid old quarterfoils, and need only a carved stone balcony to make them most typically Venetian. The resemblance of this façade to that of the Ca' d'Oro, on the Grand Canal, is accentuated by a row of upright ornaments finishing off the edge of the roof. In the top story, exactly above the "three windows in one," is a niche in which stands St. Biagio, with hand raised in blessing. Of all the saints in the Dalmatian calendar, certainly none is more devoutly revered, and none so invariably represented as looking down kindly and benevolently on his people, with a cordial smile of welcome for the stranger within his gates.
In front of the church of St. Biagio, and facing the Sponza, in the center of the Piazza, is Orlando's column, one of the city's most famous landmarks. On a pedestal formed by three stone steps, rises a square shaft, with a shallow niche cut in the face, that fronts the custom-house, in which is a knight in full armor. He stands on what looks exactly like a Turkish tabouret. In the right hand is an uplifted sword, while covering his left is an elaborately chased, long, pointed shield. The top of the square shaft is finished with a small railing. Here the town-crier stood in days of old, and blew his trumpet to call people into the Piazza to hear him read the decrees of law-making nobles. Close by this column of Orlando, in the presence of the multitude, criminals found guilty of capital offenses were executed.
SPONZA, CLOCK-TOWER AND PALACE
By the name given to this column, Ragusa honored her legendary hero, the Paladin Orlando, who is said to have saved the city from the Saracens. It is similar to the "Rolandsbild" of old German towns. The armed knight signifies imperial authority. There are many such figures in Berne, and one, I remember, stands before the Rathhaus in Bremen. Orlando's column not only typifies Ragusa's freedom of jurisdiction and commerce, but serves as a support for the great staff on which floated the banner of the republic. In the year 1825, a hurricane overturned the column, and at that time a plate having an ancient inscription was discovered, which supplied some valuable data. It tells in Latin that the "stone and standard" were erected in 1418, during the pontificate of "Papa Martino V. * * * To the honor of God and of St. Biagio, our official gonfalon." For half a century the knight and his column lay dishonored and neglected, stored away in the Rector's Palace. Fortunately, in 1878, Orlando was duly restored to his original position in the Piazza, where the old column and its quaint figure once more delight the eye. It may be true that "it has but little artistic merit," as some authorities declare, but much can be forgiven Orlando. If his nose is now a little "snubby," and his ancient sword and shield somewhat battered with the wear and tear of time, the doughty little warrior well withstood the vicissitudes through which he and his fame have passed. He has known peace and war, plenty and famine; has proudly kept his long and patient vigil, through fire and smoke, storm and hurricane, pestilence and earthquake, for four hundred and ninety-five long years.
And now for a passage from the diary: "We are just back from sightseeing for the whole morning. There is so much to see in Ragusa. Everything has a story. It grows more and more interesting every minute. Stories of her ancient heroes in the palmy days of the republic, when everybody wanted to annex her, are charming. When you stand on the spot where the great deeds were done, they become realistic. I can almost imagine I see warriors bold, with plumes waving above their helmets, strutting before me across the Piazza, on their way to the Rector's Palace. After the earthquake of 1520, there followed another terrible calamity; people had hardly recovered their nerves, shattered as they had been by twenty months of recurring 'earth-tremors,' than the city was ravaged by a plague which swept over Europe.
"No wonder that in their terrible fright they gave votive offerings, and made solemn vows. They firmly believed God was angry with them, or He would not have sent them so many afflictions. When they understood that a merchant was really the cause of the 'black death,' through criminal carelessness – he having brought the plague into the city with goods from Ancona – they fell upon him while he was being taken to prison, and in their terrible fury, literally tore him limb from limb. Notwithstanding their vows and prayers and petitions for mercy, twenty thousand souls died in Ragusa of the scourge in six months.
"Poor Ragusa has had more than her share of calamities. It must be admitted that her woes add greatly to the pathetic charm of her story. In the seventeenth century came the worst of all her afflictions, another earthquake, which in a few moments almost demolished the city. The historian, Gelcich, says: 'On a calm and peaceful April morning, in the year 1667, from below the ground came a terrible earthquake.' Superstitious people may think it happened on Friday, but they would be wrong. It was a Wednesday, April 6, 1667. Pious folks were all at early mass, and other people just getting up when it occurred, without previous warning. In a few seconds the city was devastated, becoming a mass of ruins. Churches, dwellings, the Rector's Palace, and buildings of every kind went crumbling to pieces. The rector himself, and thousands of his people, were instantly killed. The awful havoc was intensified by great rocks, which, loosened by the quake, came rolling down the mountain and crashed into the city. At the same time, a fierce wind sprang up, and many fires soon raged among the ruins.
"It must have been a terrible sight to see the bruised and bleeding handful of survivors, half-crazed by despair, wandering through the stricken city, weeping and wailing, and 'imploring pity and pardon of God for their sins.' The castle-rock was seen to burst open twice and close again. Great tidal waves arose as the sea receded from the shore, and then swept back, again and again. The land fort withstood the shock, but the sea fort, the Dogana, the churches, the palace, and most of the other buildings, were badly injured, if not totally destroyed. It is said that for four and five days after the catastrophe, faint cries were heard coming from the ruins. Some of the victims were rescued alive, having been pinned down under heavy masonry for days without a particle of food or a drop of water.
"A large part of the treasures of the cathedral was stolen by looting Morlacchi who swarmed into the city. That anything was saved is due to the bravery of a few nobles who, with a handful of armed retainers, fought back the scoundrels and ultimately put them to flight. Then, what were left of the vestments and sacred vessels, were deposited in a chapel that still stood intact, in the ruined Dominican monastery, and was then bricked up. 'Only a barred window was left open, so that the people might assure themselves of their existence, and worship them,' as an old account quaintly relates.
"Best of all stories, now comes the 'truly, really story' of a noble Ragusan named Caboga. I have seen his portrait, and he looks like pictures of Christopher Columbus. He is shown wearing a full beard and having curling locks, which hang down over his collar. He has a Roman nose, his eyes are brown and far apart, with a keen look in them, but his bearded lips have a smile and his whole expression is most amiable.
"To my mind he looks every inch the noble-born hero that he really was. It seems that Count Marino Caboga was born in Ragusa in the year 1630. A very fast young blade in his youth – when at the age of twenty-five, he got into a lawsuit with one of his relatives – he had acquired a far from savory reputation. Caboga accused his kinsman of cheating him out of money. The case was tried before the senate. In the presence of that august body the defendant openly taunted Caboga with his notorious dissipations, and put him in the Ananias Club. He not only cast aspersions on Caboga's manner of living, but freely exprest doubts as to his honor. Stung to fury by the taunt, the enraged young man drew his sword and killed his slanderer on the spot. After the murder, in the confusion which ensued, Caboga fled to a church, where he found sanctuary, and so escaped capital punishment. But he was tried and sentenced to imprisonment for life, and for twelve long years endured solitary confinement, his only solace being his Latin Bible, which he studied constantly. He occupied his days covering the walls of his cell with verses showing his sincere repentance for his hasty but wicked act.
"Then came the earthquake. The prison was demolished, so that Caboga found himself suddenly set at liberty. Instead of making all haste to escape, without a moment's delay he began, heroically, to rescue the unfortunates buried in the ruins; and boldly defied the swarms of looters who were endeavoring to steal everything of value in the church treasuries. Battling against great odds, Caboga, with a handful of armed assistants, drove the freebooters out of the city.
"When some sort of order was established, and all of the senate who survived came together, Caboga presented himself before them, as was his right, being a noble-born male over eighteen years. Immediately one of the council sprang up and declared that Caboga was incapable of sitting with them, having been disgraced as a murderer, sentenced to imprisonment for life. The majority, after a heated controversy, decided that his heroic efforts had wiped away the stain, and in view of his services to his stricken city in a time of such appalling danger, he should be forgiven. He was then immediately restored to his former rank and privileges. All were the more willing to do this, as so many of the nobles had been killed, the survivors were at their wits ends to know how they should rehabilitate the Government.
"In September, 1669, after one of the most remarkable sieges the world has ever known – a siege lasting twenty-five years – Venetians occupying the garrison at Candia, on the island of Crete, were forced to surrender to the Turks. Obtaining possession of Candia, the Sultan's Grand Vizier, a bloodthirsty Moslem named Kara Mustafa, with a fanatical hatred for Christians, determined further to show his power by destroying Ragusa. He made a claim that forcible resistance had been used against the band of marauders who swarmed into the city to plunder it. He declared, further, that the Ragusans had sold goods to the Turkish army at exorbitant prices during the recent war. As a punishment, Mustafa coolly demanded, in addition to the yearly tribute paid to the Sultan, the sum of 146,000 ducats, threatening, if his absurd demands were not immediately complied with, to annex the republic. The poor Ragusans, in despair, begged the Turkish conqueror to remember they had but recently suffered from a terrible earthquake, and had no money with which to pay the amount demanded.
"Finding they could do nothing with the Grand Vizier, the senate decided, after the usual Ragusan method in diplomacy, to send without delay ambassadors to Constantinople. No one, however, could be found to 'take chances' in such a dangerous mission. The fate of unpopular ambassadors, when once in the Sultan's clutches, was only too well known. Caboga then fearlessly came to the front and declared himself ready to make the hazardous journey to try to save the city. With a companion as brave as he was, Caboga presented himself in Constantinople. When he saw that the Ragusans were skilful as diplomatists, Kara Mustafa had them confined in a foul dungeon, and let them know their cell was in a lazarretto that had been used for victims of the plague.
"Of all things in the world, Ragusans then, as to this day, are most afraid of earthquakes, and after earthquakes, of 'the black death'; but, altho Caboga was not above human fears, he courageously remained firm. He and his companion were changed from dungeon to dungeon, and their days in dark and filthy cells made hideous by threats of horrible torture awaiting them if they failed to yield. At last, an emissary of the Grand Vizier visited Caboga, who had then been long in solitary confinement, and tried to persuade him to advise the republic to make no further resistance to Turkish demands for annexation. Caboga, in his clanking chains, staggered to his feet, and lifting his manacled hand, pointed a finger at his tempter, and said: 'Tell thy master, knave, that I was sent here to serve my country – not to betray her!' At the same time, by bribing a prison attendant, Caboga sent word to Ragusa to remain firm, notwithstanding the fate which he knew he faced, piously begging that his children might receive a religious education as wards of the republic, if he should never return.
"The Vizier grew weary of Caboga's obstinacy, and on learning that Ragusa had sought aid from the King of Naples, and secured from the Genoese not only arms and troops, but a war loan, Mustafa vowed vengeance. He determined to seize the pugnacious little republic the moment he had subdued Vienna, to which he had already laid siege. Fate now took a hand in the game, upsetting all the plans of the Turks. With the crushing defeat of Kara at the hands of King John Sobieski of Poland, the Ottoman throne was shaken to its very foundation. Kara lost not only Vienna, but his own head in consequence, a loss which was Ragusa's gain. Caboga and his compatriot, released at once, were permitted to return home. An old account in the city archives tells most graphically the story of what occurred when the approach of the hero was heralded in the city:
"'Every knoll, villa, and housetop was covered with an admiring, almost adoring people; every bell in Ragusa rang out a merry peal, and the rector and the senate, in full robes, went out of the city to give a cordial welcome to the wonderful Marino Caboga.'
"It is the city of Caboga's day that remains to us after all the intervening years. In my mind's eye I can picture that eventful day, when the patriot returned to his 'almost adoring people.' I can see the great gonfalon floating from its staff above the Knight Orlando in the Piazza, its silken folds bearing the image of St. Biagio, their beloved patron. I can see banners waving from every window of the Sponza, and can hear the silver chimes of church bells mingling with the clanging of the big bell in the clock-tower, as the old bronze figure with its hammer strikes resounding blows upon it. Shops, too, are gaily decorated with bunting, and gorgeous rugs, woven in the Orient, hang from casements, and are spread upon the very stones of the Corso, where the hero's feet will tread. Radiant faces look down from crowded housetops, streets are filled with joyous crowds, and from windows children toss fragrant flowers on the heads of the throng below. The air is redolent with the perfume of many roses, and every portal is graced with a garland of green or nosegays of fresh blossoms. Suddenly the blast of trumpets is heard, followed by the music of fifes and clanging cymbals. A hush of expectancy falls upon the crowd. The great rector and his councilors are leaving the palace to go in state to meet the heroic patriot.
"The music becomes louder. Soon I see the ecclesiastics who head the procession, walk in solemn majesty, preceded by a chanting choir waving banners and swinging censers. The sunlight glints on the sacred silver statue of St. Biagio, which is carried reverently before them, and on their own gorgeous vestments. Then come the trumpeters, the municipal band, and a standard bearer carrying a great staff from which floats the gonfalon of the republic. I see the great company of nobles, red-clad attendants, secretaries, and chamberlains, who walk two by two before the rector, who comes in brilliant red silk robes of state with a dignified mien befitting his high office. He walks alone. Behind him follows an attendant who carefully holds above his august head a brilliant red silk umbrella. After the nobles, at a respectful distance, comes a woman, fair to look upon, who leads two children by the hand, little girls in white dresses bright with ribbons; and two stalwart young sons walk behind her. At the sight of this little company the crowds rend the air with their joyous shouts: 'Caboga! Caboga! Caboga!' For this is the family of the great hero, which Ragusa this day so signally honors. Next occurs a long gap, to suggest the gulf that separates the noble-born from the plain people, the former a smiling company of proud citizens, drest in their very best. Bringing up the rear – again with a respectful gap between themselves and the more honorable citizens – comes a long line of humble workers, tradesmen, artizans, laborers, and sailors, and last of all, at the very tail-end of the procession, follow the country men, mere serfs in that day, attached to their lord's domain, spoken of by him as 'things,' and treated simply as 'chattels.' But they march gaily in their 'festa' finery, their glowing faces unclouded by any realization of their low estate.
"How plainly I can see it all! That gorgeous company, gathered below on the old marina in the ancient harbor to welcome Caboga home. I can almost hear the trumpets blare, and the sound of the martial music. The din from the chiming bells is deafening, and so are the joyous shouts from the assembled multitude when the hero steps on the shore! I can see him, as he bends the knee and bows low, to receive the canon's blessing; and his proud bearing when the rector bestows upon him a stately embrace. Best of all, I can see manly youths salute him, and his little daughters in their fluttering ribbons rush forward joyously to receive him. Then, Caboga takes tenderly within his arms that gentle, white-robed figure, whose fast-falling tears tell of suffering, of weary, weary waiting, and a loving woman's patient heroism – a heroism greater than his own. Oh! I love to picture the tall, bearded hero entering the city with his strong arm thrown round the slender figure at his side. And how good old St. Biagio must have beamed down upon them, that day, from the wreaths of laurel and festoons of flowers which adorned his niche, in honor of Ragusa's patriot son, Marino Caboga!
"What a lot of nonsense I do write in my diary! As John says, when I get to dreaming, I let my imagination run away with me. The truth is that medieval Ragusa has bewitched me. She has a subtle, indefinable charm which I find irresistible. She appeals to every particle of mysticism and romance in my nature."
RAGUSA: ST. BIAGIO, THE DOMINICAN CHURCH AND CONVENT, AND THE DUOMO
EVERYBODY makes mistakes – even Baedeker! I couldn't understand at first about the church of St. Biagio, for Baedeker states that "opposite the palace is the church of S. Biagio." As a matter of fact, the palace is at one end of the Piazza, and the site of the rebuilt votive church exactly at the other. Evidently the situation of the patron's church was confused with the position of the duomo.
The first edifice was decreed during the plague of the fourteenth century, but it was burned down three centuries later, after having resisted the earthquake which demolished so many other buildings. The new St. Biagio (not now so very new) was built in 1715, but it does not compare in interest with other places in Ragusa. The only thing in it I really enjoyed was the famous little silver statue, which was saved from the fire, and now is protected, under glass, in a niche over the high altar. It represents St. Biagio himself, and while not more than two feet high, is declared to have "much artistic merit." It is held in great reverence by all Ragusans, and is of priceless value to antiquarians because the saint holds a charming little model of the ancient city, exactly as it was, two hundred years before the great earthquake! The old harbor is seen closed by a chain. The clock-tower, Sponza, Dominican and Franciscan monasteries, even Onofrio's larger fountain, are shown in exactly their present places. From Orlando's column floats an immense banner, and high up on the heights is seen the great Torre Menze crowning the fortifications – the splendid bastion built by Giorgio Orsini. The little model is complete in every detail, and proves how greatly the city of to-day resembles the Ragusa of the Middle Ages.
It is a pity that the back of the statue is of wood, but the front is so beautifully chased it makes up for omissions. St. Biagio's long chasuble has an embroidered cross showing not only a figure of the Savior, but several of the apostles, with a large central ornament, looking like a Dalmatian woman's huge belt buckle, partially covered by the saint's long beard.
From St. Biagio's church we went to the church of the Dominicans, which, like the Franciscan church at the other end of the town, is supposed to have been personally founded by their patron himself, St. Dominic. The church is long, straight, and rather unattractive. Above little side altars are paintings said to be by Nicolaus, generally known as Nicolaus Raguseus, as Giorgio was called, not Giorgio Orsini, but George of Sebenico. The pictures have been restored, and are still most decorative, with panels filled with figures having gold nimbi and garments in patterns of gold. The picture in the left recess, which is particularly ornate, represents the Virgin with the Child seated on a crescent moon, with a number of little cherubs about them. On her right, Nicolaus shows St. Biagio with his model of the city, and St. Paul; on her left St. Thomas Aquinas, holding a little church, and St. Augustus standing beside him. Gold is not only used on the draperies, but for the entire background. I can not pretend that we were able to recognize all the saints depicted by Nicolaus; we were assisted by a kind friar. Unfortunately we understood very little beside the names of the saints, for his English had such a Croatian twang it was almost unrecognizable.
There is a picture "ascribed to Titian" on the north wall, but it is badly restored, and there is some doubt as to its being the work of that master. It contains a number of figures. Mary Magdalene, with clasped hands, occupies the center of the group, robed in white, and with streaming locks. St. Biagio stands at her right. He is shown wearing a gorgeous crimson velvet gown, and holding, not only his "model town," but his pastoral crook. Opposite him, to Mary's left, is a group representing the family of the donor, a pious gentleman named Pozza, painted kneeling beside his little child, over whom bends gracefully a young and attractive angel with pretty wings and a blue dress.
PORTE PLOCCE AND ST. BIAGIO
PIAZZA, ANTIQUE STANDARD AND CLOCK-TOWER
Hanging over the choir in the Dominican church is a great wooden Byzantine crucifix, another votive offering of the "black death" year, 1348. The figure of the Savior is horrible, His head hanging down, with dark hair, glaring white drapery, and lead-colored flesh, all as crude in coloring as a cheap chromo. Connoisseurs tell us "the figure is well modeled," but I only know I didn't like it, and couldn't bear to look at it. To me the crucifix was utterly inartistic and repellent. My opinion is, however, valueless, except as an honest expression of individual taste. Possibly the reason I enjoy everything so much is because I have only a smattering of knowledge. Knowing so little about the technical requirements of art, I am not critical, like learned folk who so often spoil things for us by knowing too much.
Professor Eitelberger says of the Dominican cloister, which is only a little less captivating than that of the Franciscans at the other gate, that "in style it is a curious mixture of Gothic and Renaissance which could occur only in a land which, being on the borders of Eastern and Western culture, did not possess the power to create and execute the various styles correctly." No matter how far from perfection in architectural minutiæ the cloister may be, it is lovely to the eye of the uninitiated, who do not trouble themselves about technicalities. Even Jackson, the unquestioned authority, admits frankly that, altho the Dalmatian artist "failed to grasp the idea of receding orders in the arch, or consistent moldings in his tracery, he succeeded in evolving out of his inner consciousness a charming cloister, shocking to the northern purist, but perhaps on that account more interesting to those who love to see the workman reflected in his work."
In the bright summer morning the cloister garden formed a delightful retreat. In the paved central space is a beautiful Venetian pozzo, having two tall white marble columns gracefully supporting a horizontal molding, with a sculptured finial, at the top of which is a little metal cross. The old well bears the date 1623, and its artistic charm is enhanced by the yellow tint of the time-mellowed convent walls, the shadowed arches of the old cloister, and the blossoming flowers and shrubs which surround it.
At an upper window, in the corner of the convent wall, just below the tall campanile, is a lovely stone balcony, on which we caught sight of two young friars in their white robes, diligently reading. A third Dominican, a corpulent, jolly-looking old monk, stood looking down at us with smiling interest as we wandered about in the quiet garden.
The duomo occupies one end of the Piazza and is built across it, so that it forms a complete end to the vista as you stand under the loggia of the Sponza and look down the quaint thoroughfare with St. Biagio to the right, and the clock-tower, the Corpo da Garda, and the Rector's Palace to the left. In looking the other way, a splendid picture is obtained from the steps of the duomo, of the entire length of the Piazza, with the palace in the foreground to the right, and with the custom-house and clock-tower at the other end. Behind the Sponza rises the great bare mountain which is climbed by Ragusa's massive fortifications, in zigzag of walls and towers, to its gray, gaunt summit, which almost appears to hang over the city. Once the slopes were well wooded, but to-day, like the greater part of Dalmatia, the mountain is bare. Its vanished forests, which once supplied the wood for the houses that became fuel for the flames, now linger only in the Illyric name for Ragusa, "Dubrovnik," which means, "the woody."
The present cathedral was rebuilt after the great earthquake. It is necessary to specify which earthquake, for the city has the unenviable reputation of having indulged in a greater or less seismic disturbance about once in every twenty years, altho it is so massively built that it is difficult to realize it. Earth tremors have always been most strongly felt along the Corso, which was originally an arm of the sea, and cut the city in two. The narrow streets on either side have steep flights of steps that remind you of Naples. They still retain many fine dwellings in the Venetian style of architecture, which escaped the quakes that vented their fury along the Corso, or Stradone, as many Ragusans call it. Everything in the city seems to have at least two names. Many places are designated by such a variety of appellations that names become confusing. Even St. Biagio is called St. Blaize half the time. At the hotel I heard some one say he is known in English as St. Giles.
The duomo originally had mosaic floors and magnificent window glass, but it is principally noted now for its rich treasury, and a few paintings. One of the most curious relics is an ancient triptych, a little portable altar, with three painted scenes. The central portion shows the Virgin seated, with the Child kneeling on her lap. He holds out His hand to one of the three kings who has laid a scepter and gifts before Him. On the doors, or wings, are other figures. The panel to the right shows a stately man without hair, but with a fine robe, and possest of a castle shown in the background. On the left panel is a group of figures with landscape behind, but no castle. To me the real charm of the triptych was, not the fact that it was Flemish and so ancient, but that it was the identical little altar which centuries ago the Sultan permitted the Ragusans to take with them and use in their devotions, while paying yearly tribute into his treasury in Constantinople.
ANCIENT WELL IN DOMINICAN CLOISTER
The duomo's treasury is probably the most valuable in all Dalmatia. It is protected by massive bolts and bars, and can be seen only once a week. Even then the opening is attended with much formality, the bishop, treasurer, and commune each using his own key, and having a particular fastening to unlock before the great doors swing open.
The most interesting reliquary is a beautiful one, with an intricate pattern in Byzantine enamels, gold, and enamel filigree-work. T. G. Jackson, when closely examining the relic, at the time he received permission to sketch it, discovered "some erratic little lines of twisted gold close to the edge," which, to his utter astonishment, began to shape themselves into letters, forming the name of the Venetian artist, Franco Ferro, and the date 1694. I can well imagine how indignant the poor Ragusans must have been at Jackson's startling discovery; for the reliquary had always been claimed to have been made centuries earlier. But, fortunately, the English antiquarian somewhat softened the blow by admitting that the twenty-four Byzantine enamel medallions, with pictures of St. Biagio and other saintly men, were, no doubt, of a much greater age, and part of some antique casket.
To me the real interest of the quaint reliquary was neither its age nor its splendid workmanship, but the fact that it contains – or was said to contain – that very relic given to the Dominican monks by the poor wayfarer in return for his night's lodging – nothing less than the very head of good St. Biagio himself! Of course, the skeptical may have their doubts, but that is to be expected of the uninitiated, who do not even know that the patron saint's hand, also, is in one of the fine filigree receptacles kept under glass. In fact, the treasury not only has portions of the anatomy of St. Biagio, but the jaw of St. Stephen of Hungary. Queer reliquaries contain the heads, arms, thorax, and legs of other holy men, who long ago departed this life.
In leather cases are kept remarkable examples of the skill and wonderfully realistic work accomplished by an ancient goldsmith. One article is a dish in which are ferns and growing things, with most lifelike frogs, lizards, and other creatures. They are all tinted in natural colors, and when water is poured into the dish they are said to wriggle about horribly! Much to the custodian's disgust, I barely glanced at them. They were decidedly too natural to please me. They gave me the horrors.
But chief of all the precious relics, is a cross trimmed with flutings of solid silver, "in which is preserved the very largest piece of the True Cross in all the world." So, at least, the attendant ecclesiastic explained to us with apparent pride. I couldn't help thinking of Mark Twain, and what he said about the number of nails he had seen from the true cross. But not for the world would I have exprest any skepticism.
Turning now to the diary: "There are a number of nice people at the Imperial. Of course, as it is July, they are not of the fashionable coterie that spends the winter months here. John says he's glad of it, for in 'the season' everything is high-priced, and the hotel jammed with a lot of rich Russians and Austrians. Fortunately, there is no one here now who is very 'ultra,' and I don a clean shirtwaist and sail into the big salon as if we were the real thing among American millionaires. Oh! if only we were.
"Of all the people whom we have met, we like the Von Karfenbergs best. He is a great, big Teuton, a major in the Kaiser's army, and his 'Freda' is a small, black-eyed, dainty little woman, who leads her big, blond giant by the nose. They seem to be devoted to each other, and yet they are diametrically opposite in type, size, sex, disposition, everything. But it only proves the adage that love delights in opposites.
"Frau Freda Augusta Victoria von Karfenberg, as she informed me was her name, without the hint of a smile, is a cute little thing, and speaks English very well indeed. 'Ach, you have a very gute man,' she told me; 'myself can see it. He gets himself much provoked when you laugh so much, but he says nothing. Now, the major, when he gets himself mad, he says something! When he gets himself more and more mad, I see it is the time to begin the pet. I say to him, "Ah, my Hans, what then is it which you makes provoked?" And I kiss him, and his face pet – and soon he smile down at me, and again himself is!'
"When I looked at the big, blond major, who looks exactly like a martinet, I marveled at Frau Freda's courage; it seemed too absurd to think that a wee little mite of a woman could manage so easily a huge, broad-shouldered, six-foot, two-hundred-pounder, who looks actually ferocious when one of the waiters is slow.
"Frau von Karfenberg has a Fräulein Hedwig Paffenwinkle with her. She is fair and fat, and wears her hair streaked back until she is a perfect fright. Her name was enough for me. I disliked her the minute I saw her! She has no figure, and looks just like a feather bed tied in the middle – and tied loosely. I wonder what on earth I would do if I looked like that? I'm not the least bit vain, but I really can not help being thankful I'm not stout. The girl is herself to blame for looking the fright she is, for any woman under the sun who can get hold of a looking-glass has no excuse for combing her hair as she does. She is a flighty, frivolous thing, too.
"Frau Freda confided to me, in her quaint English, that her 'fren Fräulein Hedwig think Herr Rolan the most hansom American man' she had ever seen. I know very well the designing minx thought I'd be fool enough to run straight to John and tell him. But no, indeed; I did nothing of the kind. Men are all vain enough. Even a sensible man like John is not above the wiles of a flattering female. He may pooh-pooh, and pretend he isn't as pleased as Punch, but I always notice he immediately finds something attractive about a girl the very moment he finds she is struck with him. I'm not a particle jealous – I'd never think of being so silly – but it certainly does provoke me to have a hideous, sallow, red-faced creature like this Hedwig doing her level best to coax John to notice her. Just to show her how dowdy she looks I shall do my utmost to look my very best to-night. I shall wear my hair coiled in a loose Psyche knot, and put on my most becoming low-necked silk waist and the pretty filigree necklace John got me to-day on the Corso – to replace the blue beads I gave 'my girl.' Oh! how I do miss them, they were so becoming. I'm actually lost without them. I know I ought to pretend I'm glad I gave them to that poor soul – but I am not. I'm just selfish enough to wish I had kept them for myself, for eternal vigilance is the price of safety – particularly with a married woman. If she is wise she will never part with anything which she knows adds to her attractiveness. Men may pretend that they do not look at other women, but they do, just the same.
"Frau von Karfenberg says they, too, are going to Cattaro, and they will take the same steamer we do. I suppose that fat Dutch creature will stick to us like a burr – I mean stick to John. He's the one she makes eyes at, not me. Poor thing! She is so unattractive I ought to feel sorry for her; I don't suppose she ever had a decent-looking fellow pay her any attention in her life. But no wonder she is envious of a little, curly-headed, featherweight like me, who has an adorable, handsome husband like John. If I had a red-head with a wig like 'Headwigs,' I would want to go and drown myself!
"But there is one thing I can not understand. More than once I have caught John gazing at the creature. I asked him why he looked at the minx so hard? He said, she put him in mind of some one he knew, and he was trying to think who it was. 'Heavens,' I cried, 'if there are two women who look like that, I don't see how you have been able to forget the first one.' He declared he 'didn't think she was at all bad-looking!' Then I got provoked, and I told him: 'If you mean to say that that Pfaffenwinkle creature is good-looking, John Roland, you need never tell me again that I am. For you don't know a decent-looking woman when you see one!'
"'Why, you are not jealous of the Fräulein, are you?' he asked with the most exasperating smile, twisting up the ends of his mustache, which he knew would provoke me.
"'Mercy no! Why should I be?' I replied icily. 'I hardly think that Mrs. John Roland need fear the superior attractiveness of Fräulein Hedwig Pfaffenwinkle.' My scorn and withering sarcasm utterly routed John, and he didn't say another word about the minx. But I intend to keep my eyes open. John would be nothing but a child in the hands of a woman like that."
RAGUSA: THE RECTOR'S PALACE, AND ITS STORY
THERE is no more imposing structure in Ragusa than the Rector's Palace, at the end of the Piazza. It is not only beautiful architecturally, but of great interest from an historical point of view. Exactly as the story of the Doge's Palace is the story of Venice, so this old home of Ragusa's ancient rettore is the monument of her past glory and the embodiment of that invincible spirit of freedom which is written in letters of gold on every page of her history for centuries.
A person must be entirely unimaginative if he sees only an ancient building when he views the Rector's Palace. Doors and windows, the loggia and the stone seats under it, the very capitals of the columns, have each some quaint story to tell, if we but care to know it.
In olden times, what is now the Corso was merely a marshy canal, a shallow arm of the sea, which separated the towering walls of warring little colonies, which, having become amalgamated, the canal was tilled up, and the present site of the palace occupied by a castle, which, as far back as the thirteenth century, was spoken of as "very ancient." In the year 1388 the first mansion, as a residence for Ragusa's chief executive, was constructed. Its stirring history began when it burned down less than half a century later. It was then rebuilt, but again destroyed by fire in 1462, the year in which, beside the great conflagration, Ragusa suffered a visitation from the plague, which carried off more than two thousand of her people.
Fortunately, for those of us who love these quaint tales of days that are gone, a year before this fire an old gentleman, named De Diversis, came to live in the city. He was a man of culture and learning, and knew how to use both his eyes and ears. In an ancient Latin manuscript written by his own hand, he sets forth in detail the story of the Rector's Palace – a graphic narrative from which antiquarians have gained most valuable data and been able to reconstruct, chapter by chapter, the many vicissitudes the hoary old structure has known in the five and a quarter centuries of its history.
De Diversis tells us that, on the 10th of August, in 1435, a fierce fire "consumed the spacious Palace of Ragusa, which was in ancient times the castle, together with certain towers and nearly all the ammunition and arms which were kept for the defense of the city and the armament of the galleys." The loss of the ammunition is easily understood when it is known that the arsenal was just behind the palace, and that most of the damage was occasioned by the explosion of the powder magazine, rather than by the flames. But, altho the lesson seems to have been plain enough, the Ragusans failed to profit by it. In rebuilding their demolished palace they continued to keep their explosives in dangerous proximity to their most important building, and again with disastrous consequences.
Several translations of De Diversis' manuscript have been made, to the number of which Mr. Jackson has added an English version, which he himself was permitted to make from the time-yellowed pages treasured in the library of the Franciscans' convent. The eminent English writer is never more charming than in his artistic treatment of the story as told by De Diversis. His own pen has added new beauty to the old stones, by twining about them green literary garlands and fragrant flowers gathered from the garden of the past; a long-dead past, whose withered flowers, by the magic of this historian's pen, are made to bloom again for us.
De Diversis says the Government having decided that "the palace should be rebuilt with more magnificent construction, sparing no expense," a certain Master Onofrio Giordani de la Cava, of the kingdom of Naples, was secured to undertake the work. That Onofrio did the work, and did it well, De Diversis clearly states, for he declares that "the stone walls are finely wrought and very ornamentally carved, with great vaults resting on tall and stout columns, which were brought by sea from Curzola. The capitals, or upper parts of these columns, are carved with great pains. There are five large entire columns, and two half -columns, one attached to one tower and the other to the other; on the first was carved "Æsculapius, the restorer of medical art," a decoration suggested by a learned gentleman of Ragusa who happened to be chancellor at the time.
De Diversis proceeds to explain seriously that Nicolò de Lazina, a nobleman from Cremona, and a man of great weight, who "knew and had learned in his literary studies that Æsculapius had his origin at Epidaurus, which is now called Ragusa, took the greatest pains and trouble that his image should be carved on the building." He did more, by composing a poem himself, as an epitaph on the Father of Medicine.
People may scoff at Æsculapius! But the learned chancellor "knew and had learned" that the famous, but supposed to be fabulous, personage was born in old Ragusa. My mythology says his father was a certain handsome young man named Apollo, and his mother a lady named Coronis. Apollo, getting jealous, made the Unwritten Law his excuse for dispatching Coronis. The infant Æsculapius was sent "to be educated" at a thriving baby-farm of antiquity, presided over by a famous centaur named Chiron, a most successful teacher "who had instructed in all the polite arts the greatest heroes of his age, such as Achilles, Hercules, Jason, and ."
I do hope Æsculapius was not "the thankless child" we know Hercules turned out to be. His only return for his foster-parent's care and teaching was to shoot Chiron in the knee. The wound (notwithstanding Chiron's knowledge of medicine) became incurable, and caused such agony that the poor centaur decided life wasn't worth living, and asked to be permitted to resign from the immortals, preferring to take up his position in the sky as that lovely constellation we all enjoy on a clear summer night – the mildly beaming Sagittarius. John laughed when I said it would be a good thing if other individuals, like poor old Chiron – "half -man, half-beast" – could be so satisfactorily disposed of.
One of the most interesting things to see at Ragusa Vecchia is the wonderful cave, or grotto, supposed to be the Mons Cadmæus of antiquity, which is just outside the city. The entrance is through a huge hole in the living rock. The cavern itself is shaped like a cross. It is one hundred and sixty-four feet long by ninety-two feet wide, and is famous for its beautiful stalactites and stalagmites. There is a deep pool in the center, known as the "Nymph's Bath." The water is very salt, and icy cold. The story goes that a terrible dragon once inhabited the cave, but was attacked and killed by a pious hermit – the good Saint Hilary – who notified the people to "give thanks to God, for he had 'burned the Devil!'" which was certainly just the reverse of his satanic majesty's usual program. It was a case, John said, in which the biter was bit, the burner burned! That Æsculapius really was worshiped at Epidaurus three hundred years before Christ, is an authenticated fact. There was an ancient statue in Ragusa Vecchia of the Father of Medicine, which represented him in the form of a huge serpent. A visitation of the plague in Rome, in 227 B.C., was so severe the sacred statue was sent for, and, of course, "on its arrival in the Eternal City the scourge was at once allayed."
De Diversis minutely describes several sculptures that Onofrio himself carved "at the entrance to the palace." One was a group, showing "the first righteous judgment of Solomon." In a certain angle of the principal door is a likeness of the Rector hearing offenses. Another is "a certain sculpture of Justice holding a 'brief,' on which we read as follows: 'Jussi sum ma mei,' etc."
All this would mean but little, and be of small interest to us, were it not for the fact that these very sculptures described by De Diversis in medieval Latin may still be found in the palace. This is true, notwithstanding the fact that only a few years after the completion of the palace of "more magnificent construction, sparing no expense," it was again destroyed by fire in exactly the same way as the first.
August seems to have always been a fatal month for Ragusa. Just twenty-seven years later (on August 8, 1462) the second great fire occurred. By the stupidity of the Ragusans in not having removed the arsenal to a safe distance from the new palace, the powder magazine again got in its work. Gelcich states that "the greater part of the Rector's Palace was destroyed, the ground floor alone escaping the general ruin."
Undismayed, the Grand Council lost no time in repairing the ruins occasioned by the explosion.
Now comes the best part of the whole story. The important work of reconstruction was entrusted to two famous architects. One was a certain Michelozzo Michelozzi, noted as "one of the most able architects of his time," not only a pupil of the great Italian sculptor, Donatello, but Himself the builder of the Palazzo Riccardi in Florence, which he constructed for the famous Medici family. But hardly a year elapsed before Michelozzo – or ozzi – or plain Michael as I shall call him – who had been busily engaged in rebuilding the city walls, was called away from Ragusa, and never returned.
So the curtain rises on a new architect, to whom was entrusted the enormous labor of artistically reconstructing the badly demolished palace – no less a personage than Giorgio Orsini, that sculptor, architect, and humble workman whom the proud Italian family scorned to acknowledge as an Orsini, but who will be remembered as the great artist George of Sebenico, as long as his beautiful cathedral, his stupendous Torre Menze, and his lovely Rector's Palace, shall endure.
The palace fronts on the Piazza, and is two stories in height. The upper story has eight two-light Gothic windows, and on the ground floor the façade has a lovely loggia of six round arches, built between two solid ends, upon which were once little, squat, battlemented towers.
It isn't necessary to go into Jackson's lengthy explanations, interlarded as they are with untranslated Latin quotations, and bristling with technical architectural terms, to enjoy the result of his labors. It suffices to know that Giorgio followed as nearly as he could Onofrio's original plan, and utilized as far as possible every portion of sculptured stone, the handiwork of his talented predecessor.
With the account of De Diversis as a guide, the old stones are made to tell their story. Giorgio did his work so well that in spite of the great earthquake in 1667, three years after he completed his restorations, the building survived, altho "for a time the Rector had to be housed elsewhere." Giorgio must, indeed, have done his work well, for the reconstructed palace, after two and a half centuries, still exists, a structure closely resembling the original, built by Onofrio in 1435.
The Venetian Gothic windows were Onofrio's, as well as all the Curzola stone columns of the loggia; also the splendid doorway under it, leading into the palace. Onofrio's hand also carved the tiers of stone seats, spoken of as "Sotto i volti" in the ancient documents. Here, on the carved stone benches on each side of the doorway, on state occasions sat the rettore, with the archbishop and his council around him. Here we, too, can sit "under the arches" and watch the life of Ragusa pass before our eyes; interesting people of to-day, whom we may watch passing down the sunny Piazza with quaint jars and buckets, on their way to Onofrio's pretty little fountain near the clock-tower, and others going to their devotions in the Duomo, on whose broad stone steps and quaint façade, adorned with saints in little niches on each side of the doorway, we can catch a charming glimpse as we glance through the arches of the loggia. Or we may dream of those grander personages who once sat where we sit, in long, flowing tunics, the "Dalmatics" with angel sleeves – which senators of Ragusa donned on state occasions – and imagine that Marino Caboga himself, or even De Diversis, may suddenly appear in the great doorway, coming from a private audience with the rector, or from a social visit to some of the lesser dignitaries of the establishment. .
Surely no better place in all Ragusa could be found than right here "under the arches" of the loggia, in which to sit and study the handiwork of two famous sculptors – capitals so exquisitely quaint they delight our eyes; carvings so harmoniously grouped that it is hard to realize they were made by two skilful craftsmen, separated by two centuries and a half of time. Jackson cleverly proves that the three central capitals, showing cupids holding up festoons of laurel and "other Renaissance devices," are Giorgio's own, together with the six round arches of classic design showing oak leaves intertwined with ribbons. The other four capitals, two on each side, are the very "magno studio sculpta" of Onofrio, so honestly admired by De Diversis.
In proof of his contention, Jackson points out that all of Giorgio's work is in the Renaissance style, and infinitely inferior to Onofrio's magnificent "gems of Gothic sculpture"; but it must be confessed that, to the eyes of the uninitiated, all the capitals of the loggia are equally beautiful. To me, it seems little short of heresy to speak of Giorgio's capitals as "inferior," and if it is true that his ornamental abaci are "heavy," I'm glad I don't know enough about an abacus to discover it. Then, too, it is admitted that Giorgio changed the Onofrio pointed arches to round ones, and had to build up the abaci, or the tops of the capitals would have been too short for the vaulting.
It seems an absurdity to think that positive proof of the change of capitals could be hit upon after more than two centuries; but it is the unexpected which happens. Jackson reasoned that if Giorgio had not used three of the Onofrio's capitals he could prove his contention if he could only ascertain what had become of them. As luck would have it, Professor Freeman, when visiting Ragusa some years before, had noticed, in a garden in Gravosa, an old capital having the very carving of the Judgment of Solomon, which De Diversis had described as Onofrio's work, and which he had explicitly stated was in front of the palace. But Freeman, when casually alluding to the discovery in his delightful book, "Subject and Neighbor Lands of Venice," said, as the outer arcade was complete, he was at a loss to account for it.
Not so Jackson. The moment he had an opportunity he made off post haste to Gravosa, hoping to substantiate his theory by this fortunate link in the chain. From a Count Caboga, the owner of the capital, he received a courteous reception and permission to study and draw to his heart's content the mutilated relic then lying in his garden near Gravosa. By careful measurements it was found exactly to fit Onofrio's columns, and – as if to "make assurance doubly sure" – Jackson discovered the identical narrow abacus, showing running foliage, which Giorgio had left (on the capital of the left-hand end column) when he built it up by adding his own "heavily decorated abacus."
The Englishman's delight at the amazing proof of the theory which he alone had so cleverly deduced, may well be imagined; for his surmise proved to be an absolute fact. He shows infinite satisfaction when he proceeds to explain that "even the design on the back and sides is exactly the same as that on the end capital, which I had been drawing that very morning, with the self-same birds perched in the middle, pecking fruit."
Last, but not least, on studying the loggia capitals, what do we see on the end column, against the wall to the right, but Onofrio's Æsculapius design, suggested by the chancellor, who "knew and had learned" that Esculapius was born in Ragusa. And more than this, over the small door in the wall behind it, on a marble slab, is the Latin epitaph he himself composed in his honor. The Æsculapius capital is much more to us than simply an ancient sculpture, which De Diversis saw being carved by Onofrio in the year 1435, at the request of the chancellor, Nicolò de Lazina. It not only gives a splendid idea of what Æsculapius was supposed to look like, but shows the retorts, alembics and other paraphernalia of the most ancient of practitioners. The Father of Medicine is shown as an amiable-looking old gentleman, with a long and carefully crimped beard streaming over his deep collar, trimmed with fringe. His long, flowing robe buttons all the way down the front, but is partially open at the bottom, which is finished with small, round tassels. He sits beside a queer little case of shelves, on which are seen his jugs and jars. In one hand he holds a book – Pharmacopæia Medica, of course, or whatever name he gave to his "Book of Family Medicine" – and his other rests on one of the shelves, which contains a little pile of drugs. Below, on the floor at his feet, is a retort ready for use. Round the corner is shown the figures of two men in short tunics, one wearing a skull cap, and the other a turban. The fellow with a turban carries a fowl by the legs. It looked to me like a sick chicken, so I imagined he must be a chicken fancier bringing one of his "prize roosters" to be doctored. But John reminded me, that as fowls were one of the offerings sacred to Æsculapius, the man was about to present it to the medical gentleman. But, as I told him, in Maryland at least, while chickens are often presented to the country doctor, it doesn't show reverence, so much as the fact that the M.D.'s bill is unpaid.
INNER COURT OF RECTOR'S PALACE
The rector, while he made the palace his abode, was a magnificent personage, but his greatness was ephemeral. He was elected for only one month, and could not be re-elected under an interval of two years. Villari tells us that he was a mere figurehead, and that his chief duty was to summon the Grand Council, the Senate, and the Minor Council, over which he himself presided. It consisted of only seven members, but was a most important body, somewhat like the "Council of Ten" in Venice, only the rector did not have as much power as that permitted to a doge. The rector had the keeping of the keys and state seals, and for his brief reign was always robed in scarlet from head to foot; never being permitted to leave the official mansion without going forth in state, attended by twenty-four gorgeously red-robed attendants, preceded by the municipal band and a horde of palace functionaries. The Ragusans were very jealous of any encroachment on the freedom of their republic. They not only limited their chief magistrate's official term to a beggarly "thirty days," but when the King of Hungary, in 1441, conferred the title of "Arch Rector" upon their ruler, after mature deliberation, the senate refused to permit its use, "fearing it might inspire him with a dangerous ambition." All noble-born males over eighteen years of age were elected senators for life, but every year they had to be confirmed.
A strange account is given by Villari, quite seriously, which makes it all the more piquant. It seems that all the donors of generous amounts in aid of the long-building votive church were, by law, honored by having the municipal band play outside their residences every Saturday afternoon. Evidently, the music was not of a high order, or the recipients of the honor tired of the band's repertoire, for in 1548, less than a century later, the descendants of the generous ones requested that the concerts be transferred elsewhere, and suggested that they be given "in front of the votive crucifix," then hanging in the church of St. Biagio, instead of in front of their domiciles – an astonishingly modest request, which was immediately granted.
Onofrio's doorway, leading from the loggia to the inner court of the palace, is magnificent. It has a pointed arch decorated with a running scroll of foliage, in which appear, at intervals, the cutest little human figures. There are also quaint groups on the imposts, which are all the work of the ancient sculptor. The group to the right is most interesting. It shows four little angels, or amorini, with wings and nimbus. One is seen seated at a primitive-looking organ, while one of his companions amiably works the bellows, and another appears to be a pleased listener. But the last cupid is the most astonishing figure of all. He stands behind the organist blowing a long horn, from which flutters a pennant; the upper part of his body "faces the music," while from the hips down the body is turned in exactly the opposite direction. On the opposite side is another group with the same queer perspective. But the authorities say they are "finely carved and full of fancy," so I suppose they must be. Certainly there is no lack of fancy, for the groups include armed warriors, a pair of embracing lovers, with Dan Cupid looking on with amusement, and a party dancing to the merry music of a horn.
Before entering the palace, notice must be taken of the two splendid antique bronze knockers on the double doors. One is a Byzantine fourteenth century lion's head, with a huge ring in his jaws. But, maybe, it wasn't intended for a lion, for it is a strange-looking beast, with funny little ears standing straight up, and all around the head is a nimbus like the rays of the sun. The other knocker is not nearly so old or so interesting. It has an armed knight standing on a lion's head, but is of a date hundreds of years later than its neighbor, which is supposed to have been saved from the fire which destroyed the original palace.
The inner court is most pleasing. It has an upper and lower vaulted arcade, but, unfortunately, the upper columns have been enclosed with glass, which spoils the effect. There is a broad, imposing marble stair leading to the upper story. A smaller flight of stone steps, under the shade of the arcade, leads to the mezzanine floor, and the chamber occupied by "the seven," or Minore Consiglio, who were only minor in numbers, being the most important individuals in the republic. Beside their door will be seen another of the sculptured groups De Diversis mentioned, the figure of Justice with her scroll, and with two mutilated lions standing on each side of her, as if on guard. And, best of all, an observant eye will recognize on a nearby column the very likeness of that fifteenth century Rector whom Onofrio carved in his official robes "administering justice."
The interior of the palace has suffered from having been much modernized. Villari mentions an old wooden ceiling, "charmingly painted with arabesque designs, and gilding, dating, I should imagine, from the sixteenth or early seventeenth century." But we could find no one who could understand us; our English and smattering of French, German and Italian being equally unintelligible, Croatian being the only tongue spoken by the two individuals we encountered in the palace.
The dungeons for the unfortunate "prisoners of State" were under the court and reached by horribly dark, little stairs. The cells were terribly gloomy holes like those under the Doge's Palace. It is known that, in the old days, in many instances the most "undesirable citizens" were effectively disposed of by being "walled up alive."
Poking about by ourselves, we discovered an alcove in the shadow of the great marble staircase. In it was a quaint drinking-fountain. We obtained a drink in our traveling cup, not caring to use the tarnished and battered-up dipper, which, from its fatigué appearance, looked as if it might have been doing duty for endless eons.
I must not forget the half-length bronze figure we saw in the court, sitting on a low, white marble pedestal. It represents a sort of Ragusan John D. Rockefeller, who left the republic the sum of 200,000 ducats in the year 1638. Time is often just a huge wet sponge which ruthlessly erases every vestige of good deeds. It is said the very name of the republic's benefactor had been forgotten by the handful of survivors of the terrible earthquake – for republics are ever ungrateful. But the shaking up the bronze figure received when the statue was hurled from its pedestal brought to light an inscribed plate, which recorded the name of Captain Pracat, the donor, and his gift, a munificent sum in those days.
There is a charming little love story connected with this famous court which I must tell you, for it adds a touch of romance to the staid and dignified place. It seems that once among the political prisoners was a young man who was awaiting trial. He was permitted by a humane jailer – for a consideration, I suppose – to take the air and exercise in the courtyard each morning. There being no prison barber in those days, the young noble was forced to permit his beard to grow, which in time gave him a most venerable appearance. The rector's fair daughter was also a daughter of Eve, and each morning tript out to the upper gallery to peep down at the poor old gentleman walking in the court. At last she was so touched at the man's sad and dejected air that she let her curiosity get the better of her prudence, openly inquiring of one of her father's two dozen red-robed attendants who the old Moslem was, and for what crime he had been immured?
When she learned that the man was a young and handsome Ragusan noble, the pity she had given the old man soon changed to love for the young one. Naturally, it was not long before the prisoner, too, forgot his wrongs, with Dan Cupid looking down with smiling eyes upon him every morning from the upper arcade; and his joyous heart began to sing a triumphant spring song. In his dungeon the young man pondered upon the story the attendant told him, and spent his days longing for the hour in which he might catch a fleeting glimpse of the lovely young girl in her trailing white draperies under the shade of the marble arches. He turned the joke on his appearance to good account, writing in his gloomy cell a splendid love epic which he called "The Moslem," because that was the name she had given him. By and by the senate discovered that the man had been wrongfully accused, and he was not only duly released from durance vile, but profuse regrets and many apologies were made by the authorities for their unfortunate mistake. The young man thought it no misfortune; for the great rector himself, at his request, introduced him to his blushing daughter, who had, of course, woman-like, interested herself in his trial; and she, having already given him her heart, lost no time in giving him her hand also. So they were married, and lived happily ever after – and his great epic, "The Moslem," to this day is the finest poem in the ancient literature of the Republic of Ragusa.
GLIMPSES OF ST. GIACOMO, LACROMA, AND THE BOCCHE
A DELIGHTFUL jaunt from Ragusa is the one to St. Giacomo degli Olivi, a deserted monastery nestling in a bower of green high above the sea. The drive from Ragusa, while not nearly so long, nor quite so magnificent, as the famous drive from Sorrento to Amalfi, strongly reminded us of it. On a high ledge, the road follows the curves of the winding shore, passing a succession of lovely villas surrounded by glowing gardens, which, on the right, descend in terraces adorned with statuary and flowers down to the blue waters of the Adriatic.
Looking back we saw Ragusa, crowning the jagged rocks, an elfin city with old gray forts and battlements, and a miniature blue harbor glistening in the sun. Distant fishing craft, with their brightly colored lateen sails, looked like toy boats, and Fort Imperial, built by the great Napoleon, seemed just a tiny white sentry-box perched on the summit of Monte Sergio, towering bleak and bare over the gleaming city – a city whose fairy-like campaniles lifted their heads like flowers above the hoary walls.
MIGHTY CRAGS AND MEDIEVAL FORTIFICATIONS
ANCIENT HARBOR AND ISLAND OF LACROMA
We drove through Ragusa along the splendid road that runs below the inner fortifications that were constructed on what was once the bottom of an ancient moat. After winding around the bastions, we at last ascended and passed out to the road which meanders away to Cattaro. Just outside the massive defenses of Porta Plocce, is an old Renaissance fountain, where the road branches off and climbs the mountain to Trebinje. Close by is the old bazaar – all markets are known here as bazaars. On market days, a motley collection of farm produce and merchandise is offered for sale. Turkish and Herzegovinian country people, and Montenegrins preside over rough wooden stalls, and barter interminably over crude, home-made wares and the paltry collections of produce raised on their stony mountain farms. The road is protected by a wall on one side, where we sat watching the crowds – while slovenly looking peasants watered painfully cadaverous and fly-tormented donkeys – and looked down to the "Schwimm-Schule" on the rocky shore below, reached by a flight of steep, stone steps.
We saw a number of ladies and children in the water, all wearing straw bathing-hats or other head-covering, and with shoes of some kind on their feet. The glare was so blinding, and the basin so full of jagged rocks, we didn't envy them their bath, warm as the air certainly was, and delightfully cool and refreshing as the sea looked. The scenery here all along the shore is simply exquisite. We saw many blossoming aloes and great clumps of cacti covered with blooms. There were any number of gnarled olive trees and lovely palms with huge fringed leaves casting a grateful shade under which we drew up, to enjoy the view. The rocky shore below was washed by the bluest of blue seas, canopied by a cloudless sky of the deepest Italian blue.
Our cocher was a great, fat, lumbering creature, as kind and jovial as he was huge. He seemed to know every living person we encountered. On the way to the monastery, we came face to face with a dignified Franciscan in dark habit, walking along the road reading his breviary. His head was bare and his sandaled feet covered with dust. Notwithstanding the heat and glare he plodded along, intent only on his book. Our coachman not only saluted him by name, but pulled up his team and entered at once into a voluble conversation with him. That he gave him, in Croatian, our full history we didn't doubt, for the ecclesiastic smiled and nodded as he surreptitiously glanced in our direction. We caught the word "Amer-i-kar" more than once.
The old convent, named for Saint James, nestles in the lovely gray-green olive trees. By a path behind the moldering walls, through a tangle of white clematis, wild honeysuckle, ferns, and fragrant pink and white oleanders, we meandered down the steep hillside to a little grotto on the shore called Spila Betina. From rocks below the monastery the view is marvelously beautiful. Like a lone sentinel sleeping on his arms, the little island of Lacroma sleeps on the water. We could plainly see the roofs of the buildings on the island rising above the green treetops.
We paid this historic landmark a visit. Having inquired the way, we went through the arch under the clock-tower and down a passageway, which brought us out to the ancient marina, where it is encircled by the great walls and bastions. Here a steam launch brought us to Lacroma in a few minutes. A Benedictine monastery was founded on this island in 1023. The story goes that King Richard, Cœur de Lion, when returning from the Holy Land, encountered a terrible storm, and believing his ship with all on board would be lost, he made a vow to the Virgin, imploring her aid and promising, if she would save them, he would build her a church on whatever spot his foot first touched the land. His ship was blown by the tempest on the island of Lacroma, and Richard was saved from a watery grave. The king intended to erect his votive church on the island, as he had promised, but the Ragusans implored him to remember how much more pleasing it would be to the Madonna to have him erect it in Ragusa; which, after much persuasion, he did, contenting himself with building a monastery and small chapel on the island. It is a pity to spoil this story by explaining that the church archives prove that the cathedral was built, at least partially, by contributions from Ragusa' s own citizens. Perhaps Richard permitted them to help him out financially, inasmuch as, to oblige them, it had been necessary for him to build two churches instead of one. The duomo then built was demolished by the great earthquake. Its splendid mosaics, beautiful carvings, marble thrones for archbishop and rector, solid silver statue of the Virgin, and magnificent stained-glass windows, are now but memories of its long-vanished glory.
In our own record of time, the unfortunate Maximilian, brother of Franz Joseph, Emperor of Austria, purchased the island of Lacroma and converted the ruined monastery of the Middle Ages into a palatial modern residence for himself – much to the horror of pious folks. Heads were wagged ominously, at "such an act of sacrilege," and dire consequences were freely predicted – unhappy prognostications which, alas! came true. Even those of us who smile at the tale of "a curse being laid upon the place" have to admit that the saddest associations cling to the apartments once occupied by Maximilian. We all remember how he afterward left his beautiful home of Miramar, a white marble palace on the Adriatic not far from Trieste, and also deserted this lovely sylvan retreat at Lacroma, in order to enjoy for a few brief hours the honors of Emperor of Mexico. When captured and imprisoned by those who opposed his imperial designs, he suffered an ignominious death – being shot as a traitor. Maximilian himself had declared that "all those bearing arms against the empire" should be "treated as bandits." His own decision signed his death-warrant.
The Empress Carlotta, his wife, went also to Mexico, and received with him imperial honors. When the United States refused to recognize Maximilian as Emperor of Mexico, she was hastily dispatched by her husband to France, to implore Napoleon III. to keep his promises of support. But Napoleon preferred to break his word to Maximilian rather than break his friendship with the United States – which had peremptorily demanded "the withdrawal of French troops from Mexico." Poor Carlotta was equally unsuccessful in her attempt to obtain the assistance she craved from Pope Pius IX. Foreseeing, with woman's intuition, the fate of her beloved husband, she became hopelessly insane. This unfortunate woman, born a princess of Belgium, the only daughter of Leopold I., is to this day ignorant of the death of her spouse, being still raving mad, and confined in a private sanitarium near Brussels.
It is a very sad story, and lends a melancholy interest to the books, pictures, and other personal belongings of the ill-fated pair, still treasured at Lacroma – mournful relics of those who left the peace and tranquility of their lovely island one fair spring morning, never to return.
Still another ill-fated Archduke of Austria made the island his summer residence – the handsome, dashing young Crown Prince Rudolph, only son and heir of the Emperor Franz Joseph. Scoffing at all the "croakings" of those who declared "misfortune would surely fall upon any layman who should dare to dwell within the sacred walls dedicated to the worship of God," heedless of the fate of his uncle, Rudolph, with a party of gay companions, made Lacroma his abode. But it was not here, but at Meyerling, that Nemesis overtook Rudolph. One morning the world was aghast to learn that, in some mysterious manner, the gay young heir to the throne of Austria had lost his life in his small hunting lodge. In the same apartment, covered with blood, was discovered the corpse of the young and beautiful Countess Vetsera. Bullets had ended both their lives. To this day strange stories are whispered about, but the exact truth as to what happened at Meyerling has never been published. One explanation, however, seems probable, for we know that "hell hath no fury like a woman scorned," and the poor little Countess had "loved not wisely, but too well." Still more true and inevitable are the words of the Good Book, "The wages of sin is death." Those who suffered most were not these victims of a mad infatuation, but the old emperor, who was bereft of his heir, and the heartbroken Empress Elizabeth, a mother robbed of her adored son. Elizabeth suffered much. Death came to her from an assassin's hand. We saw a bronze monument to her memory at Pola. I remember it looked new and incongruous in such close proximity to the immense amphitheater.
Lacroma had too many melancholy reminders of ill-fated archdukes to please me. I turned my back gladly on all the mournful relics preserved there, preferring to delight my eyes with the view. From the windows stretched before me a magnificent panorama, over the old gardens and across the smiling water to Ragusa – that dream city of the past. Lovely Ragusa, with every tower and bastion, every campanile and turret, every dome and cupola, kissed by the setting sun; in my heart I shall ever cherish a memory of that gray and hoary mountain, with a gleaming city in its arms – like good St. Biagio holding his little silver model to his breast.
To my diary once more, written on board the Dampfschiff Kotor: "If we missed seeing anything in Ragusa, I'm sure I do not know what it is. We were on the go constantly, and still the wonder grew that one small town could hold so much to see and enjoy. My poor feet still ache terribly, I've been on them so much; but, tired as I am, I'd be quite willing to go over everything again, our experiences were so unique, and all Ragusa was so delightfully interesting. The Pfaffenwinkle complained that 'the city was so very, very small,' and she frankly confessed she found it 'so hot, and so tiresome, all the day looking!' But what could you expect of an undemonstrative, phlegmatic creature who hasn't the faintest conception of what the word 'artistic' means?
"She sits next to John at table. This morning, when she came lumbering in, she was all decked out in a spick-and-span white gown. She forgot all about me – but, as she took her seat, leaned toward John with elephantine coyness, and said, insinuatingly, almost in his ear: 'Guten morgen, Herr Ro-lundt.' I didn't propose to sit back and be ignored. I leaned forward, and said, very distinctly: 'Good morning, Fräulein Pfaffenwinkle!' She turned as red as a beet, and stammered, 'Guten morgen, Fräulein Rolundt.' I laughed cattishly – as a cat would, if it could. 'Not Fräulein, but Frau Roland, if you please. My husband will tell you I've been a dignified matron now for eight years – altho, I imagine, you and I are just about the same age.' That settled her for a while; but, of course, John had to take me to task the moment he could, and ask why I 'had spoken so rudely to Fräulein Hedwig?' I pretended to be amazed.
"'Why, what did I say? She is about my age, isn't she?' I asked innocently.
"'Yes; but she flushed all up, and didn't seem to like it.'
"'Oh! she didn't? May I inquire, since you seem to be in her confidence, why she objected? I am not a Methuselah, yet, I hope. Probably the fact that I am married, and to you, is what she really objects to, and "doesn't like." I suppose if you were single, she would think you even handsomer!'
"In a moment I saw I had made a fool of myself, by letting it slip out that she admired him; but I dexterously covered it up, as quickly as I could, by asking what would be the first stop in the Bocche, a question which completely drove the charming Hedwig out of his mind; for, just then, as luck would have it, the Kotor sharply turned the point called Punta d'Ostro, with its ruinous, yellow-toned old castle, and we entered a narrow little channel. In another minute or so we were actually in the calm, lovely waters of the Bocche, which spread out before us like an inland sea.
"The Bocche di Cattaro is really a chain of little lakes, joined together by narrow, tortuous channels, shut in by towering mountains, which rise from the water's edge like a Norwegian fjord. The Bocche, or 'mouths,' are almost thirteen miles long, and famous for magnificent scenery. As if to add a finishing touch to the whole picture, there were a couple of Austrian gunboats at anchor, and some snorting and puffing little torpedo boats were darting about.
"The largest of the bays are Castelnuovo, Teodo, Perasto, and that of Cattaro. Every moment, as we went further into the Bocche, the more magnificent became the mountains. Our first port was Castelnuovo – the name 'old castle' would be much more appropriate now. The little town is built above the ruined feudal castle of an ancient king of Bosnia. War and earthquakes have shaken down the fortifications. John walked to the end of the point where the walls had fallen in a heap into the sea, but it was so warm in the sun I didn't care to go. An officer told me Castelnuovo itself, picturesque as is its situation, has nothing else worth seeing. A view of the little town perched on rocky cliffs, at the feet of a gaunt, towering mountain, with its ruined walls washed by the sea, is far more effective when obtained from the deck of a steamer, than from any other point of view.
"We had hardly more than left Castelnuovo behind, when the Kotor made its way into the narrowest bocca of all – a channel connecting with a larger and finer basin, shaped like a trumpet, the 'little end of the horn,' known here as 'le catene,' because it was defended by a chain in the fourteenth century, when Lewis the Great of Hungary (the one whose wife was that Queen Elizabeth who stole St. Simeon's finger) so ably protected with a heavy chain the Bocche from the Venetians. Exactly opposite the entrance of Le Catene slumbers the old city of Perasto, on the edge of the bay, on a rocky promontory separating the Bay of Risano from the Bay of Cattaro. The horn and the two bays form a rude capital 'T,' with Perasto exactly in the middle, at the top of the letter.
"Two adorably picturesque little islands lie in front of Perasto, islands so tiny and charming that everyone asks their names the moment they set eyes on them. They seem to float on the waves like stray flowers from fairyland. One is the Scoglio St. Giorgio, on which is a wee little monastery, with elfin trees whispering within a garden whose walls are kissed by the sea. This monastery is one of the oldest of the Benedictine order. There are records still extant giving its history and the names of its bishops back to 1166. But the tiny island, with its cloister, lovely campanile, and dark green cypress, looking like long, slender fingers pointing upward to the blue sky, is doomed. The poor little island is gradually wasting away, being slowly but surely devoured by the ever-hungry waves. As small as is the Rock of St. George, it has been fought for bitterly by Perasto and Cattaro. Finally, the Perastines assassinated the bishop and took forcible possession, and Venice permitted them to retain the ill-gotten church, but gave Cattaro a yearly sum of money as a quietus.
"Even lovelier to me was the neighboring island of Santa Maria dello Scarpello. Why the Madonna of the Chisel, I do not know; for the story connected with it is of a fisherman, not a worker in stone. At daybreak, one summer morning, a Perasto fisherman in his boat, on being awakened suddenly, by hearing a celestial voice softly calling his name, in amazement saw standing on the island a figure clad in shining raiment. It was the Blessed Virgin Mary robed in trailing garments of luminous white.
"'Make thou here for me a sanctuary, my son,' she commanded. So upon the island a chapel was duly erected, and for many years the pious Bocchesi delighted to add to the miniature reef shiploads of stones. To this day, on the twenty-second of July, the anniversary of the vision, a large boat heavily laden with stone goes from Perasto to the tiny island, with its wee white sanctuary – a picturesque church, with a pretty green cupola, and oddly shaped, ribbed dome, each surmounted by a shining cross, turned into gold by the sunshine.
"Twice a year the church of the Madonna del Scarpello is adorned in festal array in honor of the Virgin. On August fifteenth is observed the Feast of the Assumption, and on September eighth is celebrated the birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary. A quaint Bocchesi proverb says, 'Entre le due Madonne cade la pioggia.' Altho it is true that between the two festas 'falls the rain,' still on those days, rain or shine, the island is crowded with the Bocchesi in their Sunday best, and a multitude of votive gifts, accumulated all the rest of the year over in Perasto, are then publicly displayed. One of the church's greatest treasures is a painting of the Madonna, ascribed to the brush of St. Luke himself. It is lavishly decorated with silver and gold in the Byzantine style. At festas the picture of the Virgin is decked out with long earrings, golden chains, and a jeweled crown, like the garish adornments seen on icons in Greek churches.
"Perasto is solemn, but lovely. Everything is falling to pieces, and there are whispers of 'death in life, the days that are no more.' There is a forlorn air about the deserted palaces; their exquisite Venetian balconies overgrown with vines, and their sculptured doorways, look ready to fall. There is a church which was intended to be a copy of Santa Maria della Saluta in Venice, but it was never finished, and now it never will be. Perasto's greatness has passed away, with the old nobility who once inhabited its palaces. Only a beggarly five hundred souls dwell in what was once a flourishing city.
"We climbed the steep hill by the crumbling stone steps and peeped into many of the dismantled houses. Here and there a face would peer out from the window of some tumbledown abode, but the next moment it would disappear. I caught a view of a forlorn creature standing dejectedly on the narrow steps. She looked at me listlessly, and never budged an inch, altho I know she must have noticed my camera.
"Upon the shore a splendid old palazzo spoke eloquently of the rare skill of its long-vanished architect. It really grieved us to see such a lovely building falling to ruin. All was decay. Clumps of grass and spots of mold disfigured its sculptured stones. In the neglected garden creepers and weeds tried to cover with a green mantle the moldering walls, while a lone pomegranate tree bravely flaunted its flaming crimson blossoms above the grave of the long-dead flowers.
"While we were still far up the heights, we heard the warning whistle of our steamer, and lost not a moment in scrambling down the wobbly steps. As we were making all haste along shore, we encountered a squad of soldiers, and saw at once that they were 'raw recruits,' an awkward squad, about as different from the natty and trim Austrian troops as could well be imagined. Each man carried his gun as if he was afraid it would momentarily 'go off.' Probably the sergeant noticed we were smiling, for he suddenly gave an order, and away they trotted at double-quick. The moment they reached a safe distance we gave way to our merriment; for they ran so awkwardly we were convulsed with laughter. John declared they were 'the worst ever!' and wondered how long it would take the poor sergeant to lick his unpromising Perasto material into martial shape.
"But the history of Perasto proves that her sturdy sons, in the past at least, were splendid fighters. Centuries ago the city received a banner from Venice for 'signal and most faithful services to the republic.' It is said that when the Austrians came to take possession of Dalmatia, and troops appeared at Perasto, the sacred flag was 'buried with a requiem mass beneath the high altar in the church of St. Nicolò, with all the sorrow seen at the burial of a beloved father.' This gonfalon is red, with a yellow border. In the center is seen the Lion of Saint Mark, ready to defend the Cross rising from the sea, at whose foot he stands on guard. The emblem has been resurrected from its tomb, and, together with captured swords and other Turkish trophies, is sacredly preserved in the museum. Altho Perasto now belongs to Austria, the eyes of her citizens brighten as they recount the story of her glorious part, and they proudly show you the Fedelissima Gonfaloniera, which earned for their city the honored and much vaunted title, 'Most Faithful Banner.'
"Risano is a rather ordinary small hill town, but we enjoyed our stop there. The first thing which caught my eye was a little church a few hundred feet back from the shore. A line had been attached to the cross on the tiny pointed steeple, and each end staked to the ground. From it fluttered innumerable little flags, giving the church exactly the look of a gaily decorated ship. As we walked along the strip of shore, we came to several booths in course of construction which were being made ready for the festa.
CITY FROM THE EAST
MY GIRL AND HER FATHER
"It looked quite homelike to see a little place where 'You t'row a ring on de knives, and get er segar! Come on gents, try yer luck! T'ree chances fer er nickel – only five cents! ' Penknives, booth, rings, even the 'segars,' looked as if they should have been in a booth on the sands of Coney Island, instead of on the shore of the Bocche. A sign in Croatian proved to us that we were far, very far, from home. I wanted to copy the marvelous hieroglyphics, but John wouldn't let me – for he said it would take me too long. But, when he wasn't looking, I put down the word for 'beer.' I'm not particularly fond of the beverage, but I'm happy to say that, poor as the beer is here, it is not as bad as the word for it looks:
"Further along the shore we came to a paved square, shaded by fine old trees. A lot of picturesque men were lounging around, smoking and discussing the Balkan war, but at sight of us they lost all interest in everything else. All appeared to be afraid of the camera, and I couldn't get a picture. The moment I pointed my kodak in their direction they turned away. Among the whole crowd of idlers, not a single woman was to be seen. The weaker sex were, no doubt, toiling in the blazing sun, while their lords were enjoying themselves in the shady square.
"Not in Italy or Greece did we ever encounter more goats than in our walk in Risano – nice, sociable goats, the lacteal portion of their anatomy tied up in little black bags. I never saw anything more funny than this herd of goats parading along shore in solemn procession, each with its udder incased in a covering apparently made of black cambric. I suppose the idea was to make the goat's milk 'germ-proof,' but the bags were so dirty, the method couldn't have been very efficacious.
"As in other towns, Risano runs up the hill. We saw a commodious-looking hotel nearing completion on the heights, to which a newly made carriage-road zigzagged up, but went no further. All Risano is a collection of unlovely, squalid houses perched on the hillside, one above another, and reached by dark and crooked alleys, with a succession of steep and narrow steps. It is hard to understand why there is any necessity for a hotel. Risano, like Castelnuovo, has nothing but a superb situation to commend it.
"The greatest curiosity in all this region is the waterfall of Sopoti, near Risano. Dalmatia is almost waterless, for the limestone rocks drink the water up like a sponge. Sometimes the water, after disappearing at one place, gushes out again miles away, bursting from some cleft, or cavern, like a huge fountain. The 'Sopoti' is an intermittent waterfall. When it ceases to flow, which is in the dry season, the cave out of which the torrent comes 'rushing' may be entered for quite a distance. From the Kotor we could see the mouth of the cave, in which is supposed to reside a great dragon. He has an enormous diamond, with which he constantly amuses himself by rolling it about, making a noise like thunder. His jewel will be valued by the ton, I should imagine, instead of by carats, when it is taken from the monster. The story goes that two bold men, brothers, and natives of Risano, once took a boat and went to the cavern to explore it, in order to secure possession, if possible, of this fabulous gem. One brother remained outside, holding on to the end of the rope fastened to the boat in which his more intrepid companion was to venture on his perilous voyage of discovery. After some time had elapsed, and the brother who had entered the cavern had failed to give the signal agreed upon, his more prudent brother, becoming alarmed, pulled at the rope and, to his horror, discovered it hung slack in his hand. There was no longer a boat attached to it. To this day, the lost skiff has never been found, and the fate of the venturesome explorer remains shrouded in mystery.
"The story is all right, but I'm sorry we had to get it from the Pfaffenwinkle; I dislike her so much. Of all things, I despise a vain, flirtatious creature, who thinks she is 'it.' You can see at a glance that she is conceited enough to imagine she is quite irresistible. The von Karfenbergs, and the lovely Hedwig, are going to the same hotel as we at Cattaro. As there is only one decent hostelry in the place, I suppose it can't be helped; but the way that insufferable creature makes eyes at John is disgusting! She is actually 'mushy,' and sickening. She gazes at him as if she would like to eat him; and he likes it – I know he does, altho he 'pooh-poohed' when I mentioned it to him. I simply don't dare say a word about the minx, for, somehow or other, he has gotten the absurd notion into his head that I am jealous of her. Of course, he just says so to tease me; for he knows very well I would hardly be jealous of such a lump of dough!
"To tell the truth, I have kept my eye upon the fair Hedwig. I've been so busy nipping her little attempts in the bud I have absolutely forgotten all about that horrible Bela man. For this much I am devoutly thankful! Poor, dear John is so courteous and Chesterfieldian, he is utterly unsophisticated in the hands of a sly, bold, designing creature like the Pfaffenwinkle. I feel it is my duty as a wife to protect him from her. She may fool him, and make him think she is 'merely being a little polite,' but I have eyes in my head, and ears, too, thank goodness. Altho I'm not worrying now about meeting that man, as I once did, still I mean to ease my conscience as I promised myself I would. I'm determined to let John read my diary – so he will know everything. I want to do it before we get to Cattaro – and I will – if I can ever get him off for a minute where that bold-faced minx can't make eyes at him."
CATTARO: THE DUOMO, ST. LUKA, AND A DISGUSTED AMERICAN
CATTARO is the last chapter in my story of Dalmatia! It is well called the "frontier where the West merges into, and is absorbed by, the East." The Oriental touch, first noticed in Zara, but so insignificantly as to be hardly noticeable, becomes by degrees the predominant coloring of the picture. At Cattaro we found ourselves in the very vestibule of the Orient, with all its Levantine garishness.
The Bocche di Cattaro took its original name from the ancient city of Rhizon, of which the present little town of Risano alone remains. Pliny, Strabo, and other ancient writers, mention the city, which had the dubious honor of receiving the defeated amazon, Queen Teuta, who retired to Rhizon with her shattered forces after her crushing defeat by the Romans some two hundred and twenty-nine years before Christ. About a century later, Rhizon, or Rhizinium, voluntarily bowed submissively to Rome, and from the day of its subjugation, sank into the quicksand of oblivion. From that time to this it has been lost sight of by the world. Not so Cattaro, at the far end of the innermost of the bays. In ancient times it was known as Ascrivium, and as early as the ninth century boasted "fine buildings." Unfortunately, but little of the Roman period remains. Scarcely a fragment exists of that proud city, which had fine buildings so long ago – with the exception of a memorial to a young girl and her teacher, which can be seen encrusted in the walls of the squat and hideous clock-tower.
Unlike Risano, Cattaro has played a leading part in the drama of the Bocche. It is possible that it may yet become an arena in which Austria and the allies of Servia will make history.
The whole Bocche is famous for its wild scenery, but no part of it compares with Cattaro, surrounded as it is by mountains which soar aloft as superbly as those of any Norwegian fjord. The mountains called Montenegro are not black, but a cruel, dull, cold gray. Gaunt and bare, they rise majestically from the smiling blue waters of the bay, to the blue and smiling sky above.
To the right of the town of Cattaro is the Lovćen, or Monte Sella as it is also called. It hangs threateningly over the city like a frowning demon awaiting an opportune moment to pounce upon and devour the frightened little town crouching at its feet. The city is as somber and shadowed as a Swiss village in a narrow mountain pass. Constantine – the born-in-the-purple one – described Cattaro as "so shut in by towering mountains of rock that the sun never reaches it except in midsummer." This is an ancient fairy-tale. Constantine was simply drawing the long bow, to make his account "interesting reading." Altho the winters are long and dreary, on every fair day Old Sol takes a peep, at least, into the rockbound city to see what is going on.
The very moment your foot touches the broad marina attention is fixt on the great amphitheater of stupendous rock which engulfs the city. Unconsciously your eyes are riveted on the mountains, and your interest centers on the long line of fortifications climbing up the Lovćen to the ancient castle- fort crowning the top of the ravine, which splits the rock in two; a fort which reminds you of a wild bird's aerie built on a lofty crag.
A new road constructed by the Austrians is a splendid feat of modern engineering. It now replaces the perilously steep and rough foot-path in use for centuries by peasants in their long journeys over the mountains. "The Ladder of Cattaro" is the name given to this new road. It mounts the steep side of the Lovćen, lurching from side to side like a drunken man; without rest, it staggers onward and upward, passing the castle and zigzagging its weary way over the wilderness of rock beyond. Crossing the Austrian frontier, the road is continued over stony wastes; across hills and hummocks, past stray little stone huts with tiny patches of flinty sterile soil, to the capital of Montenegro, Cetinje, "The City in the Sky."
The market at Cattaro – or bazaar, as I should call it – is held upon the broad, well-paved quay. Here almost any morning may be seen a heterogeneous collection of stale-looking vegetables, scrawny chickens, and half-starved little pigs, which constituted the bulk of the produce offered for sale. I feel quite sure there is no Board of Health in Cattaro. If there is, the bazaar is most shamefully neglected. Nowhere have I ever seen more flies or dirt and refuse of all kinds lying about than in this uncleanly, and unprepossessing market. And never did the wares on a market-stall, by their appearance, speak more eloquently of the terrible battle waged to raise something on arid land, "which grows nothing but rocks!"
BROAD MARINA AND FORTIFICATIONS ON MT. LOVĆEN
The market people were as unlovely looking as their stock. Many of them were wrinkled old hags, women who were not so old in years, as they were broken and aged by lives of unceasing toil. These poor Montenegrin women, with faces deeply lined with care, know only the perpetual "struggle for existence." They come to Cattaro from far over the mountains. They arise long before daybreak and gather together their bags of potatoes, sacks of onions, and heavy baskets of sickly green cabbages. Then, having their burden strapped firmly to their backs, straining under their heavy loads, they begin their long journey on foot over and down the mountains to the market quay of the town, many miles away. All day long, in the heat and glare, they stand by their stalls, offering unceasingly their wares for sale, and when, at last, the day is over, with their scant earnings they purchase the flour or stores they need, and once more, with a new burden strapped to their tired backs, begin the arduous task of climbing and crossing the bleak and relentless mountains.
These mountains are harsh and cruel; hard and rough, like the scowling creature who kicks savagely in the stomach with his heels the poor little staggering brute he bestrides, hurling curses for being slow, quite indiscriminately, first at the small donkey, and then at his other "beast of burden" – the poor woman who uncomplainingly toils up the mountain behind him. The woman's aching back is bent double with the heavy load she carries, as she stumbles along wearily in the night, after her lord and his steed.
Cattaro is full of these Montenegrin "warriors" and their ever-toiling slaves. You can always distinguish the subjects of King Nicholas. By law they are obliged to appear in the national dress. Both women and men seem to wear the near-white heavy woolen coat, cut like a Russian Cossack's. Those worn by the women usually have no sleeves, while the men wear with their's a gay red sash, tied about their waists. Both sexes wear the coat over the usual Dalmatian costume, with its gaily braided jacket. The men affect the regulation, enormously full, blue trousers. The caps of Montenegrins are exactly like the ordinary miniature red-topped Dalmatian polo cap, only upon the crowns are half-circles in gold thread, with the initials of the "Gaspodar" – The Master, as Petrović Njegoš (King Nicholas I.) is known to his people. Of course, the women, while they wear the same little caps, do not have them adorned with the cipher of the sovereign, for they are not subjects – except of masculine contempt.
We learned that no Montenegrin considers himself fully "drest" without his "gun"; in fact, there is a law punishing him if he leaves his domicile unarmed. Without his knives, revolver, and yataghan, he is not a man – only "a poor, contemptible creature, little better than a female." No wonder that, with a training which has for its only end and aim the making of "fighters," the Montenegrins are both fierce and cruel, delighting in bloodshed, and scorning all work as beneath the dignity of men.
I must confess that, while admitting the bravery of the big, hulking warriors who lounged on the quay, and strutted about the streets of Cattaro, I did not like them. They all seemed to have an air of impudent bravado. They stared at us brazenly, with a mocking insolence in their piercing black eyes, which was only partially veiled. I suppose the fact that John held the umbrella over me to protect me from the blazing sun must have seemed highly amusing to these uncouth barbarians – who look upon all women as simply "chattels."
Many times at Cattaro we came face to face with these sturdy subjects of King Nicholas, who delight to idle away their time, lounging about, smoking and gossiping. We could tell them from the other Bocchesi, if not by their long, whitish coats and initialed caps, then by the huge woolen scarfs they wore with one end thrown rakishly over the shoulder. The other end was permitted to sweep the ground, the long fringe gathering up dust and dirt as the warrior, with shoulders thrown back and chin in the air, swaggered along, looking "anxious for trouble," as John declared.
Not without cause, knowing only too well the national characteristics of the people with whom she has to deal, the Austrian Government compels the Montenegrins to leave their arsenal of knives and pistols at the frontier, before entering her territory – a wise precaution in a land where often the slightest difference of opinion may result in bloodshed.
While Cattaro is quaint and interesting, I must admit that to me it did not compare with either Zara or Traü, let alone historic Spalato and medieval Ragusa. The great earthquake was as severe here as at Ragusa, but Cattaro never could have possest more than a small part of the picturesque charm of her neighbor. The city walls were shattered by the quake, altho they had resisted again and again the attacks of both Venetians and Turks. They have been rebuilt, and are said to be twenty-eight feet high and correspondingly thick.
Austria seems fully cognizant of the important position occupied by Cattaro in any Balkan embroglio. The surrounding mountains fairly bristle with batteries and are honeycombed with concealed cannons. Every available spot is strongly fortified. Guns are to be found everywhere; not pointed out toward an enemy who may come by sea, but batteries to be trained upon an enemy who comes by land, an enemy who lies ever in wait, watching on the mountain top, a wily enemy wearing not only a Cossack's coat, the livery of his real master, but armed with the weapons he has provided.
It was a novel experience to feel a martial tension in the air. I delighted to look hard at everything, for the moment I did, up would suddenly pop a man in uniform, and, ten to one, armed with a field-glass, with which he would narrowly scan us. I annoyed John greatly, for he realized by my curiosity about things which did not concern us that I might get into endless trouble. But, I confess, I found it delightfully exciting to feel I was watched – that is, as long as the man in uniform was at a safe distance, and armed only with a spy-glass.
ROAD, WELL CALLED "THE LADDER OF CATTARO"
The city gates are closed promptly every evening at nine o'clock. Fortunately, the Porta Marina is left open for some time longer, for the quay is less stifling than places within the walls. It was on this very marina that Danilo II., the former "Gaspodar" of Montenegro, an uncle of the present king, who succeeded him, was assassinated, in 1860. The Porta Marina is presided over by a crestfallen Venetian Lion, which has a shamefaced look quite out of keeping with his wings and book. Possibly his humiliation may be accounted for by the fact that, for exactly a century, over his once indomitable head have stood two horrible griffins, holding up brazenly for all the world to see the arms of Austria.
The streets of the city are narrow and dark little alleyways, which twist and turn amazingly. The houses are small and built of stone, with tiny slits for windows and huge chimneys quite out of all proportion to their sizes. They seem to have been set down higgledy-piggledy, without any order or plan, except that here and there we came upon a small paved square, with dwellings built round it – squares which reminded us of small Venetian campos.
The duomo has two seventeenth century towers flanking the west façade, but the original campanili were wrecked by the earthquake, which also damaged the front of the duomo, so that it had to be taken down and rebuilt. The entrance is under a single round arch, which connects the towers, built out in front of the church, and so forms a sort of arched porch or vestibule. This arched portico has whitewashed walls, and it is paved with stone, and inclosed with a balustrade. The top of the porch is finished with a similar stone railing. From this balcony, a splendid view of the big rose window over the entrance is obtained. It is Gothic, but has Renaissance trimmings, which rather spoil its effectiveness. While, more ornate, in my opinion, it is not nearly so handsome as the much plainer rose window in Zara's duomo. To be frank, we both thought the whole Cathedral of St. Trifone not only unattractive, but actually ugly. The effect of the square, stone, twin towers is unpleasing, for while pierced with the same windows, and identical in size and plan, the tower to the right is adorned with a clean, fresh-faced modern timepiece, and above it the tower is topped with a cupola with round arches, in which, under the pointed tiled roof, hangs a chime of bells, while its poor neighbor has to rest content with neither clock nor bells, and is finished off with a squat top, utterly unlike its airy-looking, more attractive, neighbor.
St. Trifone is the patron saint of Cattaro, and occupies the same important position in the city's history as good St. Biagio in Ragusa's; but he is not so much in evidence, nor does he beam down upon you with a welcoming smile from the city's portals. The original cathedral was constructed for the purpose of holding St. Trifone's remains, which were secured for a financial consideration, from two Venetians more mercenary than pious. It appears that the same old "terrible gale" blew a Venetian ship containing these precious bones into the harbor of Cattaro. A public-spirited citizen, hearing of the windfall, approached the owners of the sacred remains and exchanged his worldly wealth for the more precious relics, which he then – in 1809 A.D. – presented to the city.
In plan the duomo is similar to the usual Roman basilica, having nave and side isles. While the interior is lofty, it is not particularly impressive. The Roman columns have antique capitals, but many of them have been patched up crudely with common "stucco." But St. Trifone has one thing which excited our delighted attention – the carved canopy over the high altar. The baldacchino, or "ciborio," is really magnificent. The altar is raised slightly above the floor level by two steps, and the lovely canopy is supported by four slender red marble columns, with fine Byzantine capitals, on which rest the architrave, or lintel. On all sides, except the back, this shows a number of carved bas-reliefs, depicting scenes in the life of St. Trifone. Charming little twin columns with trefoiled arches support the towering canopy in three stories, with sloping roofs, diminishing in size to the domed cupola at the top, which has only four colonnettes, but is surmounted by a fine golden angel, with trailing garments and outspread wings. The angel's flat halo rests on her curling locks very much as if it were an Easter hat. Between the rear columns, back of the altar, is a reredos, or "pala," of silver-gilt. This, too, shows numerous saints in three horizontal rows. The most interesting of these is the figure of St. Trifone, occupying the central and larger space, in the middle panel. The figure of the saint is shown holding a little model of his duomo, as it was before the earthquake. It is seen to have the same twin towers, but they were both finished with blunt spires. There is no arched vestibule – for that was not added until much later.
The silver-gilt screen back of the altar is supposed to be as old as the baldacchino itself, which, according to Gelcich, was "rebuilt and made splendid with precious marbles and rich materials," in 1362. While this is not of surprizing antiquity, it is really marvelous to see how this airy, slender, and almost top-heavy canopy has survived the terrible quake which demolished the great stone towers, and so badly damaged the façade of the duomo that the stones of the rose window had to be reset.
The treasury of St. Trifone contains a number of head, arm, and foot reliquaries. In a sixteenth century silver receptacle is a wooden coffin in which is said to rest the torso of the patron saint. His head is honored by a reliquary of its own, composed of gold and enamel, and sets on an exquisitely decorated base. The shape of the reliquary, with its domed top, and the embellished base which holds it, immediately suggested to my mind a nice, big, nut-cake on a lavishly decorated cake-stand. The foot of St. Trifone is also provided with a gold case ornamented with fine scroll-work in gold and enamel.
Another interesting object in the treasury is an old cross, fashioned out of a number of little bags, each containing a relic, the bags being fastened to a frame in the shape of a cross. It has a wooden top, with little sliding covers over each compartment. Any particular relic may be viewed by simply sliding back the proper lid. This cross is said to be the identical one used to bless the army which so miraculously helped to save Vienna, in 1683 – that victorious army which, owing to the timely arrival of John Sobieski and his Polish forces, helped to save Europe itself by driving back the, till then, invincible Turk.
The Greek church of St. Luka occupies a little campo in the middle of the town. It has the regulation two-story Greek bell-cot, in which always hang two bells, side by side, with a third bell above them. It is a plain, almost ugly, little church on the outside, and not much more prepossessing within. On entering, we found it dark and somber. There were a number of worshipers, the majority of whom were women, who knelt upon the stone floor and made as many genuflections as a Moslem at his devotions. As the floor was none too clean, and as they continually bowed and kissed it fervently, it was a repugnant sight. The church has no high altar; the altar's normal place being occupied by a large picture, a painting lavishly embellished with silver and gold. The icon showed the Virgin and Child, in a massive frame covered with glass, but so blurred and filthy it was almost impossible to see the figures under it. A number of dirty, rough-looking men, and dowdy, disheveled women, stood or knelt in prayer about the icon. Every few moments one or the other of them would come up and kiss the picture, again and again, after having made the sign of the cross three or four times. After watching their performance, we no longer wondered at its smudgy condition. John declared there could be nothing in "the germ theory," or Greek church devotees would never escape catching all "the diseases born of dirt" in the entire Bocchesi calendar.
MARKET ON THE MARINA
We saw so much to disgust us that we were glad to escape from St. Luka, and to leave behind us the gloomy, fetid church, smelling of stale incense and its squalid worshipers. It was delightful to step outside once more into the radiant sunshine and fresh morning air. We heard martial music and soon saw a brass band coming toward us and a company of well-drilled Austrian soldiers, led by an enormously tall, fine-looking young captain, whose smiling glance met ours.
Like two children, we laughingly fell in behind the crowd which followed in the wake of the soldiers. But on the way to the Piazza, or wherever they were going, I espied a splendid and most elaborately wrought-iron pump, which I could not resist. It was so artistic I simply had to stop and examine it. The massive handle was tied down with rope, so I imagine the pump must have been out of repair. I could not even guess what was its approximate date. Longing to know something about it, I inquired its history from a woman I saw standing with staring eyes and arms akimbo in the door of a nearby house. Letting me repeat my question many times, she contented herself at last by slowly shaking her head, nodding a weak negative, while with open mouth she kept her eyes fixt upon us, as if we were strange, wild specimens of humanity such as she had never encountered before.
With one last parting look at the quaint pump, we made haste to catch up with the band, but the last echoes of the martial strains had died away. On reaching the Piazza, we found it deserted. Not a soldier was in sight. We saw only the usual crowd of lounging Montenegrins and Bocchesi, basking idly in the sunshine.
"The moment we set foot in Cattaro," according to the diary, "we discovered it was hot and stifling. Seeing there was a fine, big hotel outside the walls on the splendid broad marina, I determined to have John get a room there. A café was seen on the ground floor, and nice, comfortable-looking rooms above, with large windows; a very necessary adjunct, for we knew the night would be breathless. We had been informed by the von Karfenbergs that there was only one first-class hotel in Cattaro, and that we had better lose no time in securing accommodations, as most bookings were made in advance. 'Let them go into the stuffy little town, to a stifling hotel, if they want to,' I emphatically declared to John. 'We will get a room at this nice, breezy place on the quay.'
"'But how do you know it is a hotel?' he asked dubiously. 'It doesn't say so. That café sign belongs only to the first floor and the garden.' (Sometimes I feel sorry for John – he is so stupid.)
"'Is it likely that those rooms above the restaurant would be anything else? I do not believe even these Cattaro people would be idiotic enough to expect visitors to swelter inside the town, when they have such big, airy rooms right on the water!'
"But it is a good thing I didn't say any more – for I was wrong! It wasn't a hotel at all. The crazy Croatians used the upper floors as offices. So there was nothing to do but to enter the frowning gate to the hot city, and go as quickly as we could to 'the only good hotel.' It proved to be a particularly poor one, and already crowded to the doors.
"After toiling up to the top of the house, we were shown into a darkened chamber, in which it was necessary for the landlady to light a candle, in order to show us the room. It wasn't yet dark, so I went over and pushed open the window shutters. As I did so, they grazed the blank stone wall of the house opposite. I positively refused to consider trying to sleep in such a dark, airless dungeon on a hot summer night. The woman gave an expressive shrug, and said, in very bad French, or bad German – I forget which – but I only remember it was very bad, for it was even worse than ours – 'You will have to take it. There is nothing better. This is the "only good hotel."'
"At that, I lost all patience. 'John,' I cried, 'if this is the only good hotel, for heaven's sake let's try a bad one! Get me a room in a boarding-house, or anywhere, so there is a window, a real window, and something to breathe!'
"Never shall I forget my experience in that 'only good hotel' in Cattaro. John left me to look out for the two suitcases and 'the dear box,' the two Dienstmänner and their two helpers, while he sped down three flights of stairs with a third 'assistant porter' to see 'a nice room, with a nice window, in a nice home,' which he promised to show him. The minute John was gone, the obsequious, smiling matron changed to a frowning dragon, who looked as if she would annihilate me with a glance. But I was too tired and cross to care whether she scowled at me or not.
"I thought John would never come back! I stood first on one foot and then on the other, so weary and tired I could hardly hold up my head. The Dienstmänner talked in Croatian among themselves and with the glowering landlady. I saw she was furiously indignant because she had not been able to convince 'that stubborn little American minx' (as I suppose she called me) that nothing better could be had than a room in the Waldorf-Astoria of Cattaro. She stood glaring at me, with her hands on her hips, while she poured forth a torrent of burring words which snapt and sputtered like the sparks flying from a dynamo.
"I'm sure I never felt more miserable in my life. I've no doubt the crowd suspected John had deserted me, and that I would suddenly seize the suitcases and box and try to escape, without paying the Dienstmänner. It suddenly occurred to me that I hadn't a penny with me, and that I didn't have an idea where John had gone, or with whom. I knew I could not speak one word of the Slavic tongue, and very little of anything else but English – and here ancient Greek would have done quite as well as English. I got so frightened I dropt the umbrella. In picking it up, I let fall my handbag, and after almost breaking my back, while all those louts looked at me, what did I do but drop my coat! Then they all guffawed, and I got so mad I forgot my fright. I told them, in plain English, that if they hadn't been the yokels they were, they would have some manners.
"I'm sure I do not know what I should have done if a nice man, apparently a German Jew, had not come to my assistance. He was evidently a tourist, and, undoubtedly, a gentleman. I first noticed him in the hall, bending over a trunk which stood outside the room he occupied with his family. I knew he was a nice man, for he was neatly packing his wife's gowns. He did it so deftly, I felt sure he was a well-trained husband, and surmised that feminine apparel must have been his business, or he never could have packed so well. After a while I saw he noticed me. On going into his room for another armful of things, he returned, carrying a chair, which he most politely said, in French, was 'at mademoiselle's disposal.' I sank into it most gratefully, thanking him with the best French I could muster.
"What a funny sight we all must have made! I, sitting on a stiff-backed chair, beside the trunks, in which the nice husband was packing lingerie and dainty dresses; the landlady, near by, on the landing, looking like a thunder-cloud; while, strewn around, was our baggage, with the four Dienstmänner trailing off down the steps below. Excepting the packer's, all eyes were fixt on me, that I should not 'make off' without paying what was due for carrying the luggage from the steamer to 'the only good hotel.'
"'Did you get me a room?' I asked, eagerly, the very moment the top of John's head appeared in sight.
"'No, I didn't,' he answered, shortly.
"'Well, why didn't you? You know very well I won't stay here.'
"'You wouldn't ask why, if you had seen the place. Our idea of "nice," and this fellow's, are decidedly different!' There was a weary and disheartened tone in John's voice, which made me feel ashamed of myself for being so hard to suit. He told me he had gone to three different places, all so squalid and dirty he wouldn't think of letting me stop at any of them. So, at once, I forgot to be cross, and said I'd sleep in the Piazza or anywhere, if he'd take me away from 'the dragon.'
"At last we started once more on our travels, followed down the stairs, by our whole retinue. I breathed a fervent prayer of thankfulness when we escaped from the place, without coming face to face with those people from the steamer. I'm sure if we had met the Pfaffenwinkle she would have smiled, and if she had, I wouldn't answer for what I might have done! 'But we got away safely,' as John truthfully exprest it. Round about Cattaro we trailed, going through what seemed to me an endless labyrinth of narrow, shabby, ill-lighted alleyways. The real Dienstmänn went in front, carrying the big black patent-leather suitcase, all pasted up with foreign labels, and John walked beside him. Following them was another Dienstmänn with the other suitcase; then came two men carrying the 'dear box,' and two pretending to help them. I followed in their wake, and after me, bringing up the rear, came the 'fourth assistant,' carrying my coat and the umbrella, which, in spite of all my objections, he held on to, for the sake of earning his tip.
"I knew we made a ridiculous sight, and I didn't wonder that people we met looked after us with open mouths. I was simply too tired and weary to care. After turning every corner we came to, we landed up against a blank wall, on which was fastened a quaint, old-fashioned iron lamp, in which dimly burned a flickering light. It reminded me of Venice. The dingy little alleyway looked exactly like one of the cute little calli I adore, so I became amiable at once. Another step brought us to an opening in the wall, and we soon noticed some steps under a trellis, leading into a garden. After several more steps, and twists and turns, lo! we were actually in Hotel Graz, 'the second-best hotel in Cattaro.'
"Never will I forget it! It was the oddest, most jumbled-up, funniest little place I ever was in and, for Cattaro, remarkably clean. Our room had two big windows, which looked down on a tiny strip of garden below, and on the row of tables set out under a grapevine, trained with patient care over a rudely improvised arbor, à la Biergarten.
"The garden must have been popular, for far into the night a crowd of chattering Austrian soldiers, Croatians, and other Bocchesi, sat under our windows drinking beer, and eating sauerkraut and Wienerwursts of enormous dimensions. They made so much noise I thought at first they were quarreling, and when I saw one of the rough-looking creatures begin to finger the handle of the revolver in his cummerbund, I got terribly nervous. But John said not to mind; it was nothing. He explained that these people play with their guns, like a Moslem with his beads, and a Frenchman with his mustache. And he was right, for it all ended amicably, and at last they went away together. We, indeed, breathed a sigh of relief when the last customers took themselves off, for they clattered their dishes, and their harsh voices and sputtering Croatian tongues 'murdered sleep.'
"The very first thing I noticed when I put my head out of the window in the morning was the unique house opposite. It was unique even for Cattaro. I took a picture of its marvelous chimneys before I had finished doing my hair, because the light was getting away and becoming worse and worse every minute.
"Our room by daylight proved to be quite as unique as the house across the way – I can not call this way a street. It was so typically Cattarean that I made a sketch of it, so that I can remember all it contained. It was a large room, and the floor-covering didn't cover it; for there were just two wee strips of faded carpet; one by each little wooden bed, and a long piece of oilcloth stretched from the door to the washstand, like church carpet in an isle leading to the altar. As I said, the beds were of wood, and, from the way they felt, we thought the pillows were of wood, too. The wall paper was a strong blue, with marvelously stiff and hideous yellow rosettes, at both ends of long and broad squirming bands of green. I studied the design carefully, to ascertain if it was intended to represent a conventional rose piece, or, as John wickedly suggested, some new and terrifying specimen of the animal kingdom which had recently been discovered in one of the famous caverns about here. As these double-headed creatures swarmed all over the walls, I thought he was cruel to suggest such an idea.
"Between our windows was an enormous washstand, with two Brobdingnagian basins containing huge pitchers, which John called 'double-deckers.' He asked me if the basins were to be used as bathtubs, they were so big. On the wall hung a gaily colored towel-rack, worked in cross-stitch, showing two fierce-looking dogs, with their names neatly worked under them, 'Castor' and 'Sultan.' Straight and prim against the wall sat little night-stands beside the beds, each with a pewter candlestick, glass match-box, a large carafe of water, and a thick glass. We might lack some things at Hotel Graz, but never water.
"It was a gaunt, bare-looking room, notwithstanding all the stuff which was in it. A 'whatnot' stood against the wall near the door. Its shelves were covered with shells, bead-work castles, cups and saucers, wax flowers under a bell glass, china vases, a glass bird, and a conglomeration of other useless things some people treasure.
"Close by stood a sofa, a hard, unyielding sofa, which John suggested must be stuffed with brickbats. It was covered with a faded cotton cover, with birds and flowers of once gorgeous coloring, but now subdued in tone to a reddish brown. On the walls hung several pictures, with most lugubrious subjects. The chromo over my bed depicted a Spanish vendetta, with a gory paramour lying stretched out, apparently dead, before a haughty don, with a weeping woman at his feet. Over John's bed hung a gory bull-fight; so there was small choice as regards the amount of red fluid. Like Goliath's head, in 'Helen's Babies,' both were 'all bluggy!' But the most amazing work of art was a picture in a deep frame which hung over the rocky lounge. We have traveled far, and seen many art galleries, but never anywhere have we seen anything approaching this marvelous creation. It represented a cork shipwreck – not a shipwreck at Cork, but one constructed of cork. The sky was cork; the ship was cork, and the sea was cork. Never will I be able to forget it. John truly declared the whole thing was 'a corker!'
"How many times we have laughed over that awful Cattaro work of art – the huge pitchers, the cross-stitch dogs, and the gory chromos – but there is one memory that will remain when all other things about that room are forgotten. One pleasure enjoyed in that poor, little, primitive chamber in Hotel Graz delighted my sou!. It had no view, except of the yellow stone and brick wall of the house opposite, with its queer, tiled roof, huge chimneys, and deep-set, square windows with heavy wooden shutters, but all day long, and all through the hours of the silent night, from time to time, I could hear the silvery voices of the unseen bells in the duomo. As I lay awake and listened to their melodious chiming, I thought of Venice and the music of her beloved Orologio, and of the exquisite cadence of 'Big Ben,' who chants in sonorous tones to the great city of London lying at his feet. But the bells of Cattaro were more heavenly. In the stillness their sweet melody floated out into the night like the fragment of some adoring anthem, sung by a celestial choir. Cattaro may be forgotten, but never will I forget the sweet and solemn memory of those voices of the summer night.
"Yesterday morning we started for a walk before breakfast, for walking here is so much pleasanter when it is cool. Passing through one of the old town gates and going out to a funny, narrow bridge, which looked not only ancient but flimsy, we stopt to take a picture of the small, meandering stream known as the Gordicchio. A half-dozen soldiers came along and looked at us with sharp eyes, for all photographing is tabued in Cattaro. Altho I became fearful, they all passed us without making any comment, except one gawky fellow who I noticed hung back and waited for us. He seemed to be wearing a uniform two sizes too small for him, and upon his chin was a three or four days' growth of beard.
"'John, John,' I whispered excitedly, 'that fellow is waiting for us. He is going to make a fuss. He's going to arrest us for using the camera. I know he is. I'm sure we will miss the boat!' I explained all in a breath.
"'Don't jump at conclusions, Girlie; just you leave the fellow to me,' John said, calmly shutting up the camera and slipping it into his pocket.
"As we approached, the man, standing at the end of the bridge, came forward to meet us.
"'Where you come from, people?' he inquired smilingly; 'Ameri-kar? Yes? I knew it! Me, too, from Ameri-kar – me from Cheekaygo. You been Cheekaygo?'
"We told him we had, and that we came from Washington. In a minute we were chatting with the Cattaro-American as if he had been a long-lost friend. He told us, in his odd English, a sad story; but he told it so comically that we laughed outright, again and again. The combination of stockyard English and Croatian twang was simply irresistible. The fellow did not mind our mirth, for he nodded his head, and smiled delightedly to see how much we enjoyed his tale of woe.
"He said he had done so well in Ameri-kar, he thought he would use some of his savings in taking a trip to Cattaro, to see his 'one mother,' who, he told us, most seriously, was all the mother he had. Great was her joy at seeing her American son, but he had hardly arrived before the Austrian authorities, who 'knows everting an' sees everting, caught me, an' dey trow me in de army. Mein Gott! but I wass er domp fool to leave Ameri-kar – to come here!' he cried piteously, with such a wobegone expression that I was simply convulsed.
"He explained that he received no pay. 'Look!' he cried excitedly, pointing an accusing finger up to the top of the mountain, wreathed in clouds; 'way up dere I must go, to de very top, every day of my life for two long year. An' what I get for it? Nothing 't'all – only a few coppers; just enough for buy my tabak!'
"'But your mountains here are very fine; there must be a magnificent view, from your fort up there?' John suggested amiably.
"'View!' snorted the soldier, in disgust. 'What I care about a view; you can't eat it, or drink it, or smoke it! I wish I was back in Ameri-kar!'
"'But we like your country very much,' I assured him, almost convulsed at his despairing look and tone. 'I suppose, if you had money, you would be glad to live here?'
"'No! Ameri-kar for mine! I not stay in this country where dey can raise nothing but rocks – no, not if I had a million!'
"Then, I had to spoil everything by asking one of my thoughtless questions. We had noticed a number of queer white marks, high up on the mountains, which looked as if they had been painted on the rocks. They had aroused our curiosity, for they reminded us of Conan Doyle's story of the dancing men, as they seemed to represent grotesque figures.
"'What are those funny figures painted up there for?' I inquired, innocently enough. 'And why do you have to go up to the fort every day? What do you have to do up there?'
In an instant the smile left his lips, and he gave an anxious glance around as if afraid someone might have overheard my unwise questions.
"'Good-by, I must go. I be punished if I late,' said he, and turning abruptly, left us, walking rapidly down the road his companions had taken. John called after him, wishing to give him some money for his 'tabak,' but he never even turned his head. On the contrary, he increased his walk to a run, and in a few moments disappeared around a bend in the road.
"'Girlie, why on earth will you ask such "fool questions?"' John asked impatiently.
"'But they were not "fool questions,"' I answered, triumphantly. 'If they had been, he wouldn't have been scared almost to death, and rushed off as he did. Now, I'm determined to get a view of the dancing men!'
"'You shall do nothing of the kind,' John declared, crossly, leading me away. 'Don't look round!' he whispered, warningly. 'Two officers are watching us.'"
"Here's the end of Cattaro – and of my dear little diary! We are ready to leave. Our steamer sails in an hour. John is down stairs in the office settling with our landlady. She is a nice German body, who always wears a long gingham apron, with a huge pocket, in which she keeps the book containing her lodgers' accounts. She carries a bunch of big, iron keys, which are large enough to lock the city gates, and make her look like a jailer. She's a nice, motherly person, as big an improvement on the 'dragon,' as the Hotel Graz is preferable to 'the only good hotel.'
"I confess I do not love Cattaro as I did Ragusa; but still, I am sorry to go, more sorry still to know I have come not only to the end of my diary, but of Dalmatia. I have kept the solemn promise I made my conscience that day in the adorably sweet and solemn cloister garden in Ragusa. I brought John my book and asked him to read it. I hardly know how to write about it – it is so terribly mortifying! My cheeks burn yet, whenever I think of it. To my dying day I shall never forget how I felt when I put my diary into John's hand. I was hot and cold by turns. As I watched him read, I saw his expression change, and I felt my heart go way down into my boots. I was so frightened I could hardly breathe. He had read but a few lines when he looked up and asked with astonishment:
"'Why Girlie, what on earth do you mean by all this nonsense about Bela? He wouldn't dream of "insulting" you. He wrote that note to me – not to you!'
"I said not a word. I felt as if I was turned into stone.
"'When I got Bela's note from that fellow, I was busy discussing with the captain the weakness of his move of the Queen's pawn. I gave the chap a tip, and told him to take the note up to you – to get rid of him. It began "My Dear Mr. Roland," not Mrs. There wasn't a single word in it to which anybody could take the slightest exception. You must have been dreaming – to imagine for an instant that Masticevich would insult you. Why, he is as polite as a dancing master! I'm sure I can't imagine how you could have manufactured such a bugaboo out of nothing – if you really read the note.'
"For once in my life I had nothing to say. I stood like a graven image and let John talk. I dared not look him in the face, for I knew my cheeks were crimson with shame. I longed to sink down into the ground to hide my humiliation. Oh, the shame of it – to find what a vain and conceited little fool I had made of myself. I was actually ready to cry with the wound to my pride, and the bitter, bitter blow to my self-respect.
"'I forgot to tell you that I met Bela that morning, when I went out to see about the boat,' John explained. 'We had quite a chat. I found him a capital fellow. He came right out and told me he admired you immensely. He confessed frankly he could hardly take his eyes off of you, for you were the very image of "his girl." He showed me a picture of his fiancée; and, for a fact, you two are very much alike! He admitted they expect to be married this fall. And now – who do you think "his girl" is? Make a guess. She is somebody you know!'
"My lips refused to utter a sound. I had to bite my tongue to keep from loosing all self-control. I was overwhelmed with a humiliating consciousness of my contemptible, my miserable, vanity! But dear old John never dreamed how mortified I felt.
"'Whom do you think it is, Bela is going to marry?' he asked again, smiling expectantly. I only shook my head – not trusting myself to speak a word.
"'Well, it turns out that Bela's lady-love, who he thinks is as much like you as "two peas in a pod," is no less a person than the von Karfenbergs' friend, Fräulein Hedwig Pfaffenwinkle! No wonder I've been racking my brains trying to remember where I had seen her before. It was her picture, of course, that Bela showed me that morning in Zara. And, as he says, you two do look alike! I admit at first I did get a little "sore" when he gazed so at you, and looked so terribly "smitten," but naturally, when I found he was head over ears in love with his own fiancée, I forgave him – as soon as he told me of the resemblance.'
"That made me so angry – I forgot even my bleeding vanity and overwhelming humiliation! I became livid with rage at such an insult to my appearance. It was more than I could bear – even if my pride was in tatters.
"'What? I resemble that flat-footed, red-headed, dowdy, hideous creature – with a figure like a featherbed tied in the middle?' I cried trembling with indignation. 'And you say it – you say it, too.' I could utter no more; my words choked me. I burst into a flood of angry tears.
"I cried and cried, until I couldn't cry any longer. Then I came to my senses and began to think things over like a sensible girl. Of course, I admit it was horribly mortifying to find out I had been such a conceited little idiot! But, after all, I'd much rather be that, and find out that I have manufactured everything out of whole cloth. No one on earth shall ever find out what a silly, vain creature I've been! Oh! I'm so glad, now, that John didn't read more than a line or two of my crazy ravings. And I'm so – so thankful – to know that the only cloud on our lovely trip never existed – except in what John calls my 'fertile imagination.' Dear old John! What a silly little fool he has for a wife. But, then, after all, he'd be simply wasted on a prosaic, sensible woman!"
We have been home two months to-morrow, and the "dear box" has arrived! A week ago John got a horrible bill for it, which made him simply furious! We had the box at Cattaro, but it lost itself in some custom-house in Greece. We sent letters to Cook's offices, to the Corfu and Patras custom officials, and sent letters broadcast to half a dozen American consuls, but not a word could we hear as to what had become of it. The bill was enormous; there were fees for notaries, freight, and dear knows what all, beside the duty, before we could get it through the New York custom-house. When I saw the battered remnant of that box being carried up the steps, I felt glad to know we had reached the last chapter in its long and agonizing history. I had it carried out onto our gallery and determined to get rid of it before John came home and saw it. The awfully large bill of expense, on top of all the trouble we had had, and all my fretting and worrying over its getting lost, had made him so exasperated, he declared he never wanted to set eyes on it again! He scolded and scolded about it, every time the word "box" was mentioned. He said that last bill was "the straw which broke the camel's back."
Exactly as I might have expected, the "dear box" was a wreck! There wasn't a board left on it which wasn't broken to splinters. It was patched up in a dozen places, "crated" with flimsy boards (which John had to pay for as "reboxing"), and the moment I untied the ropes and strings which held the thing together, it simply fell to pieces – like the wonderful one-horse shay.
But now comes the very funniest part of the whole story! The box was simply kindling wood. Not a board of the original Venetian production remained intact, and yet of all the knicknacks it contained not a single one was broken! It is true that the bill was cracked off one of the white marble doves, who sit on the brim of my darling little yellow stone Venetian urn, but a touch of mucilage fixt that. And best, and most wonderful of all, my precious mirror and the carved wood dragon came through all the vicissitudes that box must have experienced without even a scratch! I hastened to get the screwdriver and lost not a minute in putting the thing together, and in a jiffy had it hung on the parlor wall. It looks perfectly dear, and the light from the bay window falls upon it so that I can see myself splendidly.
As soon as I had the mirror safely hung, and out of harm's way, I proceeded to gather up the paper, excelsior, and every particle of the débris of the splintered box. I piled them in the grate and touched a match to them. Just as the last remnants went roaring up the chimney, John came in.
"Why, Girlie, what are you up to? You surely do not need to make a fire. The janitor has the place now like an oven!"
His look and tone showed his astonishment; for he knows very well how I hate to have our rooms overheated.
"John, I am getting rid of that 'dear box,' once and for all!" I explained firmly. "It has been an apple of discord, and a regular hoodoo from the very first moment we set eyes upon it. I never would have felt perfectly easy about it, unless I knew that every vestige of it was gone. And it is!" I cried joyfully, pointing to the crumbling ashes in the grate.