CHAPTER XVI. THROUGH THE SIVAS VILAYET INTO ARMENIA.
I am remaining over one day at Sivas, and in the morning we call on the American missionaries. Mr. Perry is at home, and hopes I am going to stay a week, so that they can "sort of make up for the discomforts of journeying through the country;" Mr. Hubbard and the ladies of the Mission are out of town, but will be back this evening. After dinner we go round to the government konak and call on the Vali, Hallil Eifaat Pasha, whom Mr. Weakley describes beforehand as a very practical man, fond of mechanical contrivances; and who would never forgive him if he allowed me to leave Sivas with the bicycle without paying him a visit. The usual rigmarole of salaams, cigarettes, coffee, compliments, and questioning are gone through with; the Vali is a jolly-faced, good-natured man, and is evidently much interested in my companion's description of the bicycle and my journey. Of course I don't forget to praise the excellence of the road from Yennikhan; I can conscientiously tell him that it is superior to anything I have wheeled over south of the Balkans; the Pasha is delighted at hearing this, and beaming joyously over his spectacles, his fat jolly face a rotund picture of satisfaction, he says to Mr. Weakley: "You see, he praises up our roads; and he ought to know, he has travelled on wagon roads half way round the world." The interview ends by the Vali inviting me to ride the bicycle out to his country residence this evening, giving the order for a squad of zaptiehs to escort me out of town at the appointed time. "The Vali is one of the most energetic pashas in Turkey," says Mr. Weakley, as we take our departure. "You would scarcely believe that he has established a small weekly newspaper here, and makes it self-supporting into the bargain, would you." "I confess I don't see how he manages it among these people," I reply, quite truthfully, for these are anything but newspaper- supporting people; "how does he manage to make it self-supporting?" Why, he makes every employe of the government subscribe for a certain number of copies, and the subscription price is kept back out of their salaries; for instance, the mulazim of zaptiehs would have to take half a dozen copies, the mutaserif a dozen, etc.; if from any unforeseen cause the current expenses are found to be more than the income, a few additional copies are saddled on each 'subscriber.' "Before leaving Sivas, I arrive at the conclusion that Hallil Eifaat Pasha knows just about what's what; while administering the affairs of the Sivas vilayet in a manner that has gained him the good-will of the population at large, he hasn't neglected his opportunities at the Constantinople end of the rope; more than one beautiful Circassian girl has, I am told, been forwarded to the Sultan's harem by the enterprising and sagacious Sivas Vali; consequently he holds "trump cards," so to speak, both in the province and the palace. Promptly at the hour appointed the squad of zaptiehs arrive; Mr. Weakley mounts his servant on a prancing Arab charger, and orders him to manoeuvre the horse so as to clear the way in front; the zaptiehs commence their flogging, and in the middle of the cleared space I trundle the bicycle. While making our way through the streets, Mr. Hubbard, who, with the ladies, has just returned to the city, is encountered on the way to invite Mr. Weakley and myself to supper; as he pushes his way through the crowd and reaches my side, he pronounces it the worst rabble he ever saw in the streets of Sivas, and he has been stationed here over twelve years. Once clear of the streets, I mount and soon outdistance the crowd, though still followed by a number of horsemen. Part way out we wait for the Vali's state carriage, in which he daily rides between the city and his residence. "While waiting, a terrific squall of wind and dust comes howling from the direction we are going, and while it is still blowing great guns, the Vali and his mounted escort arrive. His Excellency alights and examines the Columbia with much interest, and then requests me to ride on immediately in advance of the carriage. The grade is slightly against me, and the whistling wind seems to be shrieking a defiance; but by superhuman efforts, almost, I pedal ahead and manage to keep in front of his horses all the way. The distance from Sivas is four and a quarter miles by the cyclometer; this is the first time it has ever been measured. We are ushered into a room quite elegantly furnished, and light refreshments served. Observing my partiality for vishner-su, the Governor kindly offers me a flask of the syrup to take along; which I am, however, reluctantly compelled to refuse, owing to my inability to carry it. Here, also, we meet Djaved Bey, the Pasha's son, who has recently returned from Constantinople, and who says he saw me riding at Prinkipo. The Vali gets down on his hands and knees to examine the route of my journey on a map of the world which he spreads out on the carpet; he grows quite enthusiastic, and exclaims, "Wonderful." " Very wonderful!" says Djaved Bey; "when you get back to America they will-build you a statue." Mr. Hubbard has mounted a horse and followed us to the Vali's residence, and at the approach of dusk we take our departure; the wind is favorable for the return, as is also the gradient; ere my two friends have unhitched their horses, I mount and am scudding before the gale half a mile away.