CHAPTER IX. THROUGH EUROPEAN TURKEY.
A few of the coffee-houses provide music of an inferior quality, Constantinople not being a very musical place. A forenoon hour spent in a neighborhood of private residences will repay a stranger for his trouble, since he will during that time see a bewildering assortment of street-venders, from a peregrinating meat-market, with a complete stock dangling from a wooden framework attached to a horse's back, to a grimy individual worrying along beneath a small mountain of charcoal, and each with cries more or less musical. The sidewalks of Constantinople are ridiculously narrow, their only practical use being to keep vehicles from running into the merchandise of the shopkeepers, and to give pedestrians plenty of exercise in jostling each other, and hopping on and off the curbstone to avoid inconveniencing the ladies, who of course are not to be jostled either off the sidewalk or into a sidewalk stock of miscellaneous merchandise. The Constantinople sidewalk is anybody's territory; the merchant encumbers it with his wares and the coffee-houses with chairs for customers to sit on, the rights of pedestrians being altogether ignored; the natural consequence is that these latter fill the streets, and the Constantinople Jehu not only has to keep his wits about him to avoid running over men and dogs, but has to use his lungs continually, shouting at them to clear the way. If a seat is taken in one of the coffee-house chairs, a watchful waiter instantly makes his appearance with a tray containing small chunks of a pasty sweetmeat, known in England as " Turkish Delight," one of which you are expected to take and pay half a piastre for, this being a polite way of obtaining payment for the privilege of using the chair. The coffee is served steaming hot in tiny cups holding about two table-spoonfuls, the price varying from ten paras upward, according to the grade of the establishment. A favorite way of passing the evening is to sit in front of one of these establishments, watching the passing throngs, and smoke a nargileh, this latter requiring a good half-hour to do it properly. I undertook to investigate the amount of enjoyment contained in a nargileh one evening, and before smoking it half through concluded that the taste has to be cultivated.
One of the most inconvenient things about Constantinople is the great scarcity of small change. Everybody seems to be short of fractional money save the money-changers-people who are here a genuine necessity, since one often has to patronize them before making the most trifling purchase. Ofttimes the store-keeper will refuse point-blank to sell an article when change is required, solely on account of his inability or unwillingness to supply it. After drinking a cup of coffee, I have had the kahuajee refuse to take any payment rather than change a cherik. Inquiring the reason for this scarcity, I am informed that whenever there is any new output of this money the noble army of money-changers, by a liberal and judicious application of backsheesh, manage to get a corner on the lot and compel the general public, for whose benefit it is ostensibly issued, to obtain what they require through them. However this may be, they manage to control its circulation to a great extent; for while their glass cases display an overflowing plenitude, even the fruit-vender, whose transactions are mainly of ten and twenty paras, is not infrequently compelled to lose a customer because of his inability to make change. There are not less than twenty money-changers' offices within a hundred yards of the Galata end of the principal bridge spanning the Golden Horn, and certainly not a less number on the Stamboul side.