CHAPTER IX. THROUGH EUROPEAN TURKEY.
The bull-dog revolver, under the protecting presence of which I have travelled thus far, has to be abandoned here at Constantinople, having proved itself quite a wayward weapon since it came from the gunsmith's hands in Vienna, who seemed to have upset the internal mechanism in some mysterious manner while boring out the chambers a trifle to accommodate European cartridges. My experience thus far is that a revolver has been more ornamental than useful; but I am now about penetrating far different countries to any I have yet traversed. Plenty of excellently finished German imitations of the Smith Wesson revolver are found in the magazines of Constantinople; but, apart from it being the duty of every Englishman or American to discourage, as far as his power goes, the unscrupulousness of German manufacturers in placing upon foreign markets what are, as far as outward appearance goes, the exact counterparts of our own goods, for half the money, a genuine American revolver is a different weapon from its would-be imitators, and I hesitate not to pay the price for the genuine article. Remembering the narrow escape on several occasions of having the bull-dog confiscated by the Turkish gendarmerie, and having heard, moreover, in Constantinople, that the same class of officials in Turkey in Asia will most assuredly want to confiscate the Smith Wesson as a matter of private speculation and enterprise, I obtain through the British consul a teskere giving me special permission to carry a revolver. Subsequent events, however, proved this precaution to be unnecessary, for a more courteous, obliging, and gentlemanly set of fellows, according to their enlightenment, I never met any where, than the government officials of Asiatic Turkey. Were I to make the simple statement that I am starting into Asia with a pair of knee-breeches that are worth fourteen English pounds (about sixty-eight dollars) and offer no further explanation, I should, in all probability, be accused of a high order of prevarication. Nevertheless, such is the fact; for among other subterfuges to outwit possible brigands, and kindred citizens, I have made cloth-covered buttons out of Turkish liras (eighteen shillings English), and sewed them on in place of ordinary buttons. Pantaloon buttons at $54 a dozen are a luxury that my wildest dreams never soared to before, and I am afraid many a thrifty person will condemn me for extravagance; but the "splendor" of the Orient demands it; and the extreme handiness of being able to cut off a button, and with it buy provisions enough to load down a mule, would be all the better appreciated if one had just been released from the hands of the Philistines with nothing but his clothes - and buttons - and the bicycle. With these things left to him, one could afford to regard the whole matter as a joke, expensive, perhaps, but nevertheless a joke compared with what might have been. The Constantinople papers have advertised me to start on Monday, August 10th, "direct from Scutari." I have received friendly warnings from several Constantinople gentlemen, that a band of brigands, under the leadership of an enterprising chief named Mahmoud Pehlivan, operating about thirty miles out of Scutari, have beyond a doubt received intelligence of this fact from spies here in the city, and, to avoid running direct into the lion's mouth, I decide to make the start from Ismidt, about twenty-five miles beyond their rendezvous. A Greek gentleman, who is a British subject, a Mr. J. T. Corpi, whom I have met here, fell into the hands of this same gang, and being known to them as a wealthy gentleman, had to fork over 3,000 ransom; and he says I would be in great danger of molestation in venturing from Scutari to Ismidt after my intention to do so has been published.