BLTC Press Titles

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Through the Looking Glass

Lewis Carroll

Mortal Coils

Aldous Huxley

The Secret Doctrine, Volume I Cosmogenesis

H. P. Blavatsky

Esoteric Buddhism

A. P. Sinnett

On Horseback Through Asia Minor

by Fred Burnaby


An Armenian priest—From Scutari to Kars—The road blocked by snow—The dread of being seen speaking to a European.

The following morning my servant awoke me with the announcement that we had arrived in the Bosphorus, and that he had not been able to eat his supper. By this last piece of intelligence he wished to convey to my mind that the storm had been more than usually violent. I was soon dressed, and, going on deck, found it crowded with interpreters from the different hotels. During previous sojourns in Constantinople, I had learnt by experience the discomfort of some of the purely British establishments. I had made up my mind on this occasion to try a French hotel. My hands were filled with cards announcing the merits of the different inns. The commissionnaires were deafening me with their shouts, each man bawling louder than his fellow, when the silk-merchant declared in a loud voice that there was nothing like the Hotel de Luxembourg, and he added that the perdrix aux truffes and the vol-auvent a la financiere, as supplied by the chef of that establishment, were something—yes, something; and he kissed the tips of his fingers as he made the last remark, so as to show his appreciation of the exquisiteness of those dishes.

"Perhaps the gentlemen do not wish their luggage examined?" said an officious Greek, the commissionnaire of the Luxembourg. "I will give a baksheesh to the officials in the customhouse, and they will pass the luggage at once. But if we do not give them any money," he added, with a knowing grin, "they will detain you at least an hour, and rumple all the shirts in your portmanteaus."

"Will it be much money?" inquired my companion, who, very reluctant to open his pursestrings, was equally averse to having his shirtfronts rumpled.

"No, sir, leave it to me," replied the Greek, with an air of great importance.

"I know that this scoundrel will rob us!" ejaculated the silk-merchant. "But we are in his hands. We must pay, whether we like it or not."

We arrived at the custom-house. An elderly official approached the Greek, and, pointing to us, said something in his ear.

"We shall be robbed, T know we shall," muttered my companion excitedly. "If I could only speak the language, I would just give that official a piece of my mind."

The Greek now put some money into the inspecDID SULTAN ABDUL AZIZ KILL HIMSELF? 15

tor's hand, and the latter, opening and shutting a hat-case, announced that the examination was over. Some porters carried our luggage up the steep hill which led from the port to Pera. We followed in a rickety old carriage. The springs were very weak, and the vehicle rolled from side to side as our horses panted along the wretchedly dirty street. Presently, to the relief of my companion and self, who were neither of us feather weights, the driver pulled up at our destination.

In the evening I went to a Turkish Cafe Chantant. It was a curious sight. Solemn-looking Turks were seated round the room, each man smoking his Nargileh. Little active-looking Greeks with cigarettes in their mouths, were eagerly reading the most recent telegrams, and discussing the chances of peace or war. In the interval between the songs a small knot of younger Turks loudly applauded a vocalist. The latter then began to sing about Sultan Abdul Aziz, of all his glory, and how at last pride turned his head. He did foolish things, went mad, and killed himself. "But it was not his fault," continued the singer, in another verse, "it was his kismet. If he had been destined to die a natural death, or on the battle-field, he would have done so. We are all under the influence of destiny. Sultans are like the rest of the world. Great Sultan, rest in peace!"

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