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w id e ; w o r ld
1899 ,
For th e Love o f M ih r im a h .

R\ IV A rcy M o k k i .i .

Mr. Morell is one of the few men who have penetrated into the remote wilds o f Albania—the very
least-known spot on the map o f Europe. Herein he relates a typical love episode of these lawless and
■■lurid ” mountaineers, whose control and management is one of the hardest problems that Turkey
has to solve.
group of hardy Arnauts who clustered around
the burning logs, and the dark forms o f our .
jaded horses as they cropped the grass and
herbs close by.
This was our bivouac for the night, under the
clear sky and glittering stars ; for the only
building within miles was the old and lonely
watch tower on the hill above, long deserted
and in ruins. Ghostly and grim stood the pile
o f old grey stones on the summit o f the
precipitous hill an uncanny spot, reeking with
the memory of deeds o f bloodshed— so the
people said. A t any rate, no doubt it was the
lair o f wild beasts, the home o f bats, and, may­
be, o f the mountain eagle.
W e preferred to camp in the open air and to
enjoy for a few hours a deep, dreamless repose.
Some o f the Albanians lay sleeping on the grass
near the horses, with their rifles beside them ;
while others still remained seated close to the
glowing embers o f the fire, boiling coffee in
those small pots used in the Levant. Only one
man remained as sentinel, with loaded rifle, to
keep watch in the narrow pass, until his turn
came to he relieved from his solitary post.
Our tales o f wars, o f midnight forays, of
daring brigands, and spectral, blood - curdling
apparitions were beginning to flag, when
Mustapha, my guide and servant, turning
towards me, threw away the stump o f his

|H E sim had
Set beyond the
Scardus Moun­
t. ins, and the
distant shapes
‘ ■ mighty Kara Dagh
Pxrk and sombre with
-- shad* o f | inc woods
-re purpling in the
■ ning light. T h e mass
•>t aW-kmI, melting in a
\7. o f violet blue ; and
" »* k-o-ti i ight wind spring-
"g was wafted from
'U- Yields far above.
I; fan« < 1 the flames o f
•»ur b'.v.ing camp-fire that
lehied t e surrounding
rucks with a ruddy glow,
br nging out into strong
relief tnr tanned, weather­
beaten f atures o f the
cigarette, and broke the silence with the bis girdle, that - ......... u*,i
following story from every-day Albanian life. silver medjidiehs.
The narrative is absolutely authentic, and faith Mahmoud's young wife, a dark ,
fully reflects the manner of life of these wild the Rouman race, rode one o f the lie
mountaineers, o f whom so little is known. the other carried his pack, which Ik IfI fc-.y
articles o f value that it had been found po>-•i!.k'
I f you are not too tired to listen. Effendi, I to bring. On his return, Mahmoud disco\,. r-'d
will tell you a true tale o f an event that set the that since the death of his father the family Ir.d
whole o f my clan in a blaze o f wild excite taken possession o f his inheritance, believi: _
ment, and which brought the Turks, with the that he would never come back ; but, as soon ■­
Zaptieh, down upon us less than two years ago, the wanderer was recognised, he was accepted as
before the tumult could be quelled. head o f the house. In after years he increased
It was over there— he continued, pointing his flocks and cattle by skilful management,
towards the great, but now invisible, mountains added to good fortune, until at Inst, when time
— over there, far away beyond the Kara Dagh, began to streak his head and beard with silvery
across the seething waters o f the Drina, near grey, the cautious Beg was reputed to be the
my home at Tpek, under the shadow o f the largest owner o f sheep (the only real form o f
snow-covered Pecklen wealth in this land)
and the great Zlcb. between the Drina
A t the top o f the and the Vardar. So
valley, down which the people chose old
rush th e w h ir lin g M a h m o u d as th eir
waters o f the Pecks ha headman.
Bistrika, there is a But nearly as dear
long, straggling vil­ to the old man’s heart
lage, called Decani. as his many woolly
Higher up in the flocks and long-horned
hills, among the rocks cattle was the memory
and grass slopes of the wife of his
(a sea o f fragrant y o u n g e r d a y s— his
flowers in early Rouman brid e— who
su m m er), there re p o s e d u n d er the
stood a castel­ rou gh , u nhew n
lated farmstead o f cypress-shaded stones
red - grey stone, in the Moslem grave­
the property of yard, up on the hill­
old M a h m o u d , side. She had left
who owned the several boys and a
most n u m ero u s little daughter, Mihri-
flocks in the clan­ mah, to comfort him
ship. in his declining years,
Mahmoud, in Often noontide rest, when
his younger days, seated on Iris divan under the porch
had w a n d e r e d without the gates, his chibouk at iris
in to E p ir u s to side, the old Albanian notable would gaze
Tanninain search upward at the sun-bathed mountain side, and
o f fortune, and smile, as he watched his “ ewe lamb ’’ chase the
fo r s o m e yea rs bD blue and red butterflies amid the flowering
fo u n d e m p lo y ­ gentian and the fragrant wild thyme.
ment there in the Mihrimah was sixteen last Ramadan, when
service o f the Pasha. But at last a longing she came down with the village girls in that
to see again his native highlands became too eventful springtime draped in her smartest
strong to resist, and he journeyed homewards garments, to see the young men fire their guns
through those unexplored and almost unknown at sunrise in honour o f the festival o f Bairam,
regions that separate Epirus from Northern and hear the imam calling to prayer from the
Albania. And one day be suddenly reappeared mosque, in his clear, far-reaching tones. Many
among the little community where he first saw a fine young mountaineer looked wistfully in her
the light, tired and footsore, but bringing with direction, and wished that he had more brown
him two good horses, and a bag, worn under sheep and hairy beeves, to make a suitable
VoL iv,~ 62.
. i!n n.- ia '' father. \ \ n il her long when she came with her friends across the
' Hu lows.. and Hiim ng white mountain to the town to make purchases at the
i. . i, M i Iitu !oo 'm *J just like her mother bazaar. Now, when the young mail saw his
i -»• - i - : s'. t .iniL from Epirus. The maiden mountain flower once again at the fateful
.. - n 1 t *.t p n e . nd could ehmb the sleep Bairam celebration, he gazed with an ever-grow­
- t •< •mu dw Lim bs; lor m ain ;u \ killed ing admiration at her rich and brilliant raiment;
and tiie- Ik rc e mountain lvnx. her ornaments o f shining stones and pearls;
\ ng 'fs, >1 c d ispl.ned a part
and her valuable coronet o f gold coins upon
1 coins aiul ornaments her brow. H e admired the girdle o f red silk
m£. louse U aek hair, and worked with g o ld thread from the great bazaar
md neck in chains. Butat Prisrend— around the maiden's waist; and her
!•*>’ n of [Ik real A m nuts. sandals beautifully embroidered, with the tips
•_*• '**i \ •i led. turned up and pointed. She smiled upon him
I -v :.t at tinis memorable for a m om en t; her lips trembled slightly, and
h. * \ ' A l l me.", a stalwart moun­ she turned her head and passed away. Mehemel
t I lk n\ •Hid of Ni/an Eddin Bey, grasped the meaning o f the girl's action ; but
■i .M ' tit .*n\ who li.«d >t»rved with bravery in fired by the daring and strong impulse o f his
L- w r - : and. mother’s Arnaut race,
_ til r e -luh he vowed that none
1 •'! •• • ivdid ' till With other than he should
.. •!* lia lu n and the ever bear home in
i. • k : Vu. Bashi, the triumph as his bride
v :. was not rich. the Flower of Decani.
I n Au- a<lu'. - d him But Allah willed it
Mtf'.onu’i Osmanli otherwise.
A- d— .. feT*rlc» T h e owner o f many
'• .-rp' -r and 1 •• st man : flocks had a friend, a
•i..'* the Vs.I liked and m e rc h a n t o f d is ta n t
t»*» •• d bin a-' a former P r is r e n d , w h o cam e
r . i i arms. So twice a year to visit the
U e*e- ted Mukht. r old sheep-breeder and
o» •. t i it his district. secure his accumulation
1!.- u!d I 5c\ 1Vctl with of wool for export
I"* 11,rt ?n d two S'-r abroad. This trader
V O , ..Id - A J i.-s j.L-e. was the intermediary
'• a bins;, low bouse, between the farmers of
i nn>'i\L ston ■. the mountains and the
•l n -.h d over with valley o f the Drina
1 e, \. irhxjular tiles and the foreign dealers
i ■ bUfliling was s .r who came to Kuman-
‘ "oid - i a pleasant ova, as well as Uskub,
. I*].. .. in wldt.li this* to buy both wool and
K ' w mill 'it i sheep. Mahmoud also
i».*i •* tmi, to sr*i>-»’•. . journeyed occasionally
'• - r pipe and -in to Prisrend, partly on
it . .li-id blaek cuff* . business, but also to
1!. 1mm , in fe» t. visit the merchant —
ii i 'tlmut tin Util* Hassan by name at
t"«n . on 1 1 - shak his large house in the
• n o. b r ic 'g * th at city. On such occasions
o • - 'l in R; auk. It theywould dine together
him k .k a moment.” and smoke their chi-
i mi.m*j<iiiy rarrly seen bouks, often visiting the
A 1 t ir pla*c being filled with a great bazaar, where they would chat and
nr.-Js ;».ter.4Ced network o f wood, admitting drink coffee with the salesmen, while the
-•m i *. b u ll- and air. prosperous headman would make selections
0 " Vjv.jral occasions young Mehemet had and purchases to take home to his remote
•. th. J-.-iid'-r. gra* eful form o f Mihrimah in mountains. Many o f the most rare and
••' mot *.tain b j ..... and once the previous year, costly articles were for his little girl-child—
the image o f her dead mother. During the beta me k 11u\vn in 1■ va 1 v. >l
summer and autumn previous to the events re­ chatter of the wonu-u, tlu i In- Lot Iji
lated in my story, when Hassan came to the old P risrend beautiful and cu.stly prc-<-
homestead in the hills of Decani, he bad seen headman’s daughter. Moreover, it i lie
a«ain the growing maiden with the bloom o f round in local gossip that the old ■... ,i w.
health upon her fresh young face, and noted her greatly pleased, having made with Ha.^.m a
tall and pliant figure, erect as the white-stemmed good bargain for his daughter. Even the oged
poplars in the valley, but dark as the pines in Dervish beggar who prayed at the gates o f the
the crags above. mosque showed a bright siher medjidieh, given
Perhaps he had made an offer to old to him by the merchant when he rode by, with
Mahmoud then ; perchance he had asked for an intimation at the same time that there would
the girl in exchange for a valuable gift in kind be great rejoicings when he returned after the
or coin. N o one can tell. The old farmer next moon. Beacon fires would be lighted in the
was a silent man. At any rate, it was well hills, Hassan said, to call the clansmen from
known that they were much bound together by afar to see him carry o ff his bride. These
matters o f interest and money. It was at the rumours, with many extravagant additions,
full moon, when the days are longest, some- reached the jealous ears o f young Mehemet,
weeks after that Bairam holiday, that the mer­ whose heart sank within him, and his hopes
chant Hassan was seen lading with several armed melted away like an idle dream. What chance
followers up the narrow, broken track that traces indeed had he pitted against the prosperous
the way from the village to the loop-holed friend of the wealthy farmer ?
inclosure o f the old ch iefs farm and dwelling. But the spirit o f the fiery Arnaut was not so
Although the visitor remained but a day, it soon easily beaten, though saddened and almost
desperate. l i e would ask his father
to intercede with the Pasha on his
behalf, so that he might travel to
Stamboul, there to enter the service
o f the Padishah in the Albanian
Guard. Then he would become
an officer— a Bey like his father,
but richer— and return in a few
years, loaded with honours, as well
as pounds Turkish. H e might
then make a more accept­
able offer than e\en Hassan
could. But first with his
father he would visit the
old chief and entreat him
not to give Mihrimah to
anyone for three years. The
child was so young ; there
was no hurry. Besides, he
was sure that, with the help
o f Allah, he would be able
by then to redeem his
promise. A nd the maiden
assuredly liked him bet lei
than she did Hassan ! V ere
they not, both o f them,
children o f their own beloved
Mehemet went at once
to see his father, and told
him the trouble that oppressed his heart. But
the old warrior, slowly and sadly shaking his
head, said to his son, “ Yes, she is a pleasing
„|r| a„d 1 like her rcgl. She may prefer thee,
but’ in this land the choice o f women does not
'* HASSAN WAS SEEN K1DINO W ITH SEVERAJ. ARMED FOU.OWERS count for much. Fate is against thee, and
unkind. Our faith teaches that it is above there gleamed at moments lurid flashes
■.L'tiess CO niggle against K is m et! Mehemet, o f lightning, which illumined the wild night with
illv suit is hopeless ' I will take thee to the a sudden brilliance, to be instantly succeeded
Lusha in the great town, and will implore his by impenetrable darkness. R olling thunder
F u c lency to send thee to the Sultan's capital boomed through the chasms and gorges far
with a L iter o f recommendation to the t ’aliph. above, as the heavy raindrops beat down upon
l>»en, my son, thou wilt become a lamous the dry, stony ground with a ceaseless, mono­
-• r. and forget tilt mountain maid of thy tonous splash.
. i. ' ■_ manhood. Later, thou .shall marry In silence a band o f young Arnauts wended
•m i* o the Ik uutifi.il ladies o f the Kmpire City. their way up the valley, following the sinuosities
F nuigh for it is written ! " o f the rising ground. Th ey carried their rifles
It was arranged, after receiving a letter from at the sling : the breeches carefully wrapped in
is- !■ xce'lenev the Pasha, that they should impermeable cloth. Bandoliers filled with cart­
travel t • I'skub early in the autumn, whence ridges were worn over the shoulder; and several
Mehemet w mid pro- also had belts studded
■ed b\ rail to Salonika, w ith a m m u n itio n .
.’id there take ship for Nothing could be seen
P k Golden Horn. Put o f them, as they moved
'i was not to be. lightly and noiselessly
Th.iugli fond o f his on, but an indistinct
• Id f. thcr. ;•nd attached and barely perceptible
' ' l 's glorious moun- line o f white Albanian
1• * >. this n- wly awak­ fezzes. Arrived at the
en d passion was dry- foot o f the steep ascent,
up all ot'ier feelings where the source o f
"• Mehemet. gaining a the Peeska Bistrika,
pLte i.-nstery over leaping down the pre­
1 - nature. And he cipitous roeks in a
- seen on several se ries o f c a sc a d es ,
• u-1 ’ns in earnest plunges into the valley
n v e rs e w ith som e below, the leader of
•mV men o f the the band called upon
■■b o u r o o o d , his bis companions to halt.
ti • 'ids and associates. 'Faking shelter from
H is f .»t h e r a lso o b - the raging storm under
n e d him one day the overhanging cliffs,
I .ning his rifle, ad- ‘ the party grouped them­
looting the sights, and selves around him and
tt'e.ng cartridge - cases. held a brief consulta­
T old man was gin cl : tion. Th eir leader pro­
h* saw in this the p o s e d , w ith g e n e r a l
H e'tU Ktof the budding agreement, to proceed
dbr-r. Happily for at once to their desti­
turn lie could not read nation, the war o f the
III** m at future. elements being rather
On • day some shepherds, coming down the in favour o f the enterprise than other­
' dlcv. spread the news that the trader, Hassan, wise. Quitting the cover when they had
l Ij eii seen with several horsemen and a rested for a space, the adventurers followed a
• A g e beyond the Drina. That later the narrow track that would have been invisible
ca\,ieadc had crossed the Sranski bridge, and to anyone not bred in the locality. Guided by
-•>' on in the direction o f Decani. T h e instinct, by familiarity with these mountains,
"i v iiant was therefore coming sooner than had and by their keen eyes, they advanced without
n n expected to claim the maiden. Mehemet halt or hesitation in single file, now carrying
1 i heard the ominous words and abruptly left their rifles at “ the trail” ready for instant use.
hou-»c, taking his rifle with him. At last the band paused again ; the village now
It was a sultry evening, the close o f a hot, nestled in the valley below, sheltered by an
ippresdve day. A filmy mist was stealing amphitheatre o f towering hills. T h e track
d i*. i the mountain sides, hiding the summits here broke into two paths : the one on the left
from view. Through the nebulous canopy was the direct way to Mahmoud’s house, and
the other to tiie beech and
pine woods beneath the
grey crags, but immediately
overlooking the rambling
farmstead and its irregular while tl •*•••i_ 11 n,
t rt.vin-s and L m |
inclosures. T h e midnight
raiders chose the latter, and windows ilK*v
in a few minutes they da. gleam o f . its
stood under the partial X o bine w\n m ...
lost, or they
shelter o f the dripping
I >e taken at hi ail
trees, not more
than a m u sket-
shot from their them seized th.
pitch pine torches
objective. Rifles
and, lighting them
were q u ic k ly
quickly, ran to the
w ip e d , a nd
wooden buildings
b a n d o lie r s
at the other end.
were prepared
There, barns and
for use ; keen-
s t o r e - bouses,
ed ged A lb a ­
cattle sheds and
nian k n iv e s
stables, were full
w ere d ra w n
o f many inflam­
from leg-ings,
mable substances
examined, and
such as d rie d
then replaced.
g r a s s , m a iz e ,
O n e o f th e
straw, and wool ;
men untied the
while outside there were stacks
th on g s th at
o f fagots and brush - wood
held a bundle heaped up for winter fuel. Into
o f pitch - pine
. .CE1, .. the midst o f this material they
torches, which •luiiiK m ; . plunged their flaming brands.
he had carried AT ‘ ' .. -dr . stk’ Presently uncertain red tongues
t ig h tly rolled o f fire shot upwards, and in a
in thick cloth to keep them dry. \\ hen all was few minutes spread over the wooden structures
ready the leader gave the signal, and the marau­ in an insidious embrace. Soon great columns of
ders glided stealthily down the few hundred feet flame, driven by the gusts o f wind, rolled on in
that separated them from the inclosures. Stout waves over the inhabited block, vomiting forth
fences and rough stone walls were now before showers o f sparks, which, scattered by the wind,
them. A ll was quiet and still in the pastoral were swept far away into the great darkness o f
home. X o lights were burning at so late an the night. Puffs of black smoke, tinged red by
hour. X o sound was heard save that o f the the light o f the conflagration, swirled up from
wind and rain beating against the massive walls the burning edifice and were blown away in
and heavily-barred gates, with occasional peals wreaths before the blast. Th e crackling of
o f distant thunder in the higher mountains. ignited timber, and the crash o f falling ioofs,
Hut suddenly a furious barking of dogs burst proved that the fire had gained such a hold that
forth, loud and menacing, as the intruders the destruction o f the house itself was not far off.
scrambled over the fences and outer wall. Th e T h e desperate band, exposed to view in the
enraged and vigilant animals were trying to glaring light, fell back from the main building
break out from their quarters to attack the and took up a position outside the inclosures
unknown foe. A t first no one in the house- with their rifles levelled at the gate. They
appeared to heed the vociferous warning. . called repeatedly to the inmates to come out,
. T h e raiders had climbed over all the obstacles one at a time, but without arms. X o notice
in a few moments, and while some ran to the was taken o f this demand.
rear o f the house with the object o f forcing an T h e fire had now gained the house itself, and
entrance into the women's apartments, the others flames were spreading through the latticed
rushed to the arched gateway and commenced apertures and r o o f: suddenly the gate swung
to hammer the heavy door with the butt-ends of open, and a body o f armed men rushed forth.
their rifles. After fruitless efforts to break in, Several rapid flashes came from the outer wall,
they all joined together behind the women's and the sharp ring o f the rifles startled the
myht ail, as three
or four men fell
near the gate, while
one reeled to the
porch and clutched
it with his hands.
T h e r e m a i n d er
rushed across the
open space, firing as
they ran, and, back­
in g th ro u g h the
fences, engaged the
r a id e r s han d to
hand. A t this mo­
rn e n t s o m e o n e
shouted, “ Meheniet,
they are taking the
women away at the
back." Hearing this
the young leader o f
the raid, springing
over the obstacles,
ran to the back o f
two or three o f his

time to see the door wide open, and a group

o f men in the passage, now full o f smoke,
trying to drag the women out. Mehemet
fought his way into the entrance, and dragging
Mihrimah from Hassan, seized her in his
arms to bear her away. But the enraged
merchant drew a pistol from his sash, aimed
quickly at the Arnaut’s head, and fired.
Naturally enough, in the great excitement o f the
moment the ball struck the maid instead o f her
lover. H er head fell, her arms loosened their
hold, and she glided gently to the ground.
Mehemet stooped, passed his hand to the back of
his legging, and with a fierce yell sprang like a
tiger at Hassan, striking up the latter’s arm
before the accepted suitor could press the
trigger o f his second pistol. There was a
gleam o f steel, and Hassan fell backwards with
the mountaineer’s long blade buried up to the
carved handle in his breast. Mehemet raised
the dying girl and bore her out through the
smoke and falling tiles and timbers. A few
moments after, the roof fell in with a great crash,
burying old Mahmoud, the Beg, and those still
with him under the burning ruins. Meheniet
and his companions withdrew slowly to the high
mountains during the dark hours o f the early
morning, much impeded on their march by the
injured maiden and several wounded comrades,
whom they carried on their rifles. Th ey arrived
'• IN THE GKEAJ EXCITEMENT Ol- THK MOMENT THE BALL at their hiding place, however, before midday.
STRUCK THE MAID INSTEAD OK HER LOVER." This was a shepherd’s hut, far up above the

valley on the mountain side. T w o days later cipices. Here he j d .mmI knelt to.v ird. tlu
the hapless Mihrimah died, and was laid to rest east, absorbed in prayr. H E eyes were Hoard
under the green moss and fragrant flowers. his jaw had slightly fallen, and his white bean
Xews o f this serious (and characteristic) affray lay upon his breast. With ext mded arm.-, tlu
was carried to the big town, and soon the Pasha humble Moslem opened his heart to \lk<h.
dispatched two companies o f soldiers and an Then rising up he fared the crags above*.
escort o f Zaptieh, under the command of a Some goatherds saw him pass with a Strang-,
Bim-bashi, to capture the raiders and bring them resolute expression. W hen seen approach
io justice. In less than a week after the events ing from the shepherd's shelter, Mehemet
of that terrible night the tramp o f the troops was left and went down the path to meet his
heard in the streets o f the little town of Tjelane, father. Thus again they met, and stood in
and they proceeded to the house of Nizan Eddin silence for a moment. Then the old man said :
Bey, where after the usual salutations the officer “ Son, thou hast broken the laws o f man ; for
demanded the surrender o f the old man’s son, the rest thou must make thy peace with Allah.
and his official assistance in securing the arrest Th e Zaptieh are waiting for thee in the valley
o f the others. T h e old Bey answered, simply, below. But they shall not have thee a free­
“ I will seek him, and bring him here, but I born mountain lad. Th ey would drag thee in
must ao alone. W e will question him after­ chains to the great town, to rot in the dungeons,
wards, and thus try to find out who were his and perhaps bring thee forth some day to be
confederates.” So saying he left and journeyed hanged like a dog. And I have no money to
across the wide valley to the foot o f the high give to save thee. G o to Allah, Xadek, to the
mountain range. T h e Bim-bashi remained in paradise of Mohammed— to everlasting joy.”
charge o f the house till his return, placing A pistol-shot broke the stillness o f the moun­
sentries on guard at the gate. tain solitude ; and the young Arnaut staggered
A long and wearisome walk found the patient backwards and dropped upon the sward. The
old soldier at nightfall under the steep, rugged next instant a ragged volley was fired from the
ascent that formed refuge, and old
Nizan Ed din Bey
the shoulders o f
himself fell heavily
the lofty, snow-
to th e g rou n d
stre a k e d ridges.
beside his only
Here he rested
son. Some days
till daybreak at a
afterwards a
lonely “ hau,” or
search party,
wayside inn. In
g u id e d by the
the early morning,
goatherds, found
bent and sorrow
them, father and
ful, he was seen
son, lying where
to take the path
t he y fe ll. T h e y
that R d up the
brought the re­
fla n k s o f th e
mains down to the
dark and frown
valley, where they
ingZleb. Slowly
were buried be­
he went till he
neath the cypress
reached the easy tre es wi t h the
slope b e n ea th Moslem dead.
the mighty pre­

■j iVARUi*