CHAPTER XIII. BEY BAZAAR, ANGORA, AND EASTWARD.
The Mayor now requests me to ride along the road once or twice to appease the clamor of the multitude until the Vali arrives. The crowd along the road is tremendous, and on a neighboring knoll, commanding a view of the proceedings, are several carriageloads of ladies, the wives and female relatives of the officials. The Mayor is indulgent to his people, allowing them to throng the roadway, simply ordering the zaptiehs to keep my road through the surging mass open. While on the home-stretch from the second spin, up dashes the Vali in the state equipage with quite an imposing bodyguard of mounted zaptiehs, their chief being a fine military-looking Circassian in the picturesque military costume of the Caucasus. These horsemen the Governor at once orders to clear the people entirely off the road-way - an order no sooner given than executed; and after the customary interchange of salutations, I mount and wheel briskly up the broad, smooth macadam between two compact masses of delighted natives; excitement runs high, and the people clap their hands and howl approvingly at the performance, while the horsemen gallop briskly to and fro to keep them from intruding on the road after I have wheeled past, and obstructing the Governor's view. After riding back and forth a couple of times, I dismount at the Vali's carriage; a mutual interchange of adieus and well- wishes all around, and I take my departure, wheeling along at a ten-mile pace amid the vociferous plaudits of at least four thousand people, who watch my retreating figure until I disappear over the brow of a hill. At the upper end of the main crowd are stationed the "irregular cavalry" on horses, mules, and donkeys; and among the latter I notice our ingenious friend, the armless youth of yesterday, whom I now make happy by a nod of recognition, having scraped up a backsheesh acquaintance with him yesterday.
For.some miles the way continues fairly smooth and hard, leading through a region of low vineyard-covered hills, but ere long I arrive at the newly made road mentioned by the Vali. After which, like the course of true love, my forward career seldom runs smooth for any length of time, though ridable donkey-trails occasionally run parallel with the bogus chemin defer. For mile after mile I now alternately ride and trundle along donkey-paths, by the side of an artificial highway that would be an enterprise worthy of a European State. The surface of the road is either gravelled or of broken rock, and well rounded for self-drain- age; it is graded over the mountains, and wooden bridges, with substantial rock supports, are built across the streams; nothing is lacking except the vehicles to utilize it. In the absence of these it would almost seem to have been an unnecessary and superfluous expenditure of the people's labor to make such a road through a country most of which is fit for little else but grazing goats and buffaloes. Aside from some half-dozen carriages at Angora, and a few light government postaya arabas - an innovation from horses for carrying the mail, recently introduced as a result of the improved roads, and which make weekly trips between such points as Angora, Yuzgat, and Tokat - the only vehicles in the country are the buffalo-carts of the larger farmers, rude home made arabas with solid wooden wheels, whose infernal creaking can be heard for a mile, and which they seldom take any distance from home, preferring their pack-donkeys and cross-country trails when going to town with produce. Perhaps in time vehicular traffic may appear as a result of suitable roads; but the natives are slow to adopt new improvements.
About two hours from Angora I pass tbrough a swampy upland basin, containing several small lakes, and then emerge into a much less mountainous country, passing several mud villages, the inhabitants of which are a dark-skinned people-Turkoman refugees, I think-who look several degrees less particular about their personal cleanliness than the villagers west of Angora. Their wretched mud hovels would seem to indicate the last degree of poverty, but numerous flocks of goats and herds of buffalo grazing near apparently tell a somewhat different story. The women and children seem mostly engaged in manufacturing cakes of tezek (large flat cakes of buffalo manure mixed with chopped straw, which are "dobbed" on the outer walls to dry; it makes very good fuel, like the "buffalo chips" of the far West), and stacking it up on the house-tops, with provident forethought, for the approaching winter.
Just as darkness is beginning to settle down over the landscape I arrive at one of these unpromising-looking clusters, which, it seems, are now peculiar to the country, and not characteristic of any particular race, for the one I arrive at is a purely Turkish village. After the usual preliminaries of pantomime and binning, I am conducted to a capacious flat roof, the common covering of several dwellings and stables bunched up together. This roof is as smooth and hard as a native threshing-floor, and well knowing, from recent experiences, the modus operandi of capturing the hearts of these bland and childlike villagers, I mount and straightway secure their universal admiration and applause by riding a few times round the roof. I obtain a supper of fried eggs and yaort (milk soured with rennet), eating it on the house-top, surrounded by the whole population of the village, on this and adjoining roofs, who watch my every movement with the most intense curiosity. It is the raggedest audience I have yet been favored with. There are not over half a dozen decently clad people among them all, and two of these are horsemen, simply remaining over night, like myself. Everybody has a fearfully flea- bitten appearance, which augurs ill for a refreshing night's repose.