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   THE SULINA MOUTH OF THE
                   DANUBE.

IT was November, and the morrow of our
arrival at Sulina dawned a dreary, sunless
day, rather cold. We spent it waiting for
the boat, which was due from Constantinople.
Our pilot, however, surmised that there had
been bad weather for many days in the Black
Sea, and that no captain in the service of the
Austrian Lloyd's would have ventured to pass
the Bosphorus while it lasted. The pilot was
a dark, sharp-featured, timorous Greek, of
about forty years of age. His name was
Birbantaki, a name of high account in every
port of the Euxine.

So the long and the short Austrian
officerpart of our company from Galatz*—
very sensibly went out snipe-shooting. They
were joined by the Greek consul, who, having
no house here, is living on board one of the
Danube Company's vessels, called the
Metternich. That consul is driving a very brisk
business; for, from the masts of six hundred
of the thousand ships detained here by stress
of weather, fluttered the gay colours of King
Otho.  Also, with the shooting-party, goes the
agent of the Lloyd Company; a pleasant and
influential gentleman, very popular about
here. It is said he had five thousand pounds'
worth of propertythe hard savings of many
thrifty yearsdestroyed by us. If this be
true I shall be surprised to learn it is
considered by the authorities as one of
the inevitable private wrongs which are
wrought by all wars. I cannot quite admit
such reasoning, however, for surely this
person is as much entitled to a fair indemnity
for the loss of his property, as were the
owners of the British merchantman destroyed
by the Russians at Sinope. By the way,
also, what with Count Zamoïski and Colonel
Turr. as well as such little episodes as the
agent's affair, have we not been playing a
very strange little game with Austria? Not
to put too fine a point upon it, may I be bold
enough to hint that we have been soliciting
her alliance while slyly tweaking her nose?
I wish, sometimes, that our good folks in
authority had taken riper counsel in these
matters, for we have made many needless and
many very bitter enmities. When the shooting
party return, therefore, I am not at all
surprised to see a Russian officer with them.
He is a common-looking-man; awkward,
dirty, and seemingly of no social importance,
but as he comes on board, two Levantines
seize eagerly on an opportunity of offering a
a loud insult to an Englishman, and then
strut, blustering and bowing to the Muscovite,
after the manner of their kind.
*See "The Show Officer," page 23, of the present volume.

Mechanically marking these things, and
hearing that there was no chance of our
departure that day, I determined to go on
shore, and visit all that avenging fires have
left of Sulina. In truth, our prospect from
the steamer was not very cheering. A
large timber raft lay alongside us, with a
log hut upon it; where its mouldy, amphibious
guardians lived. They appeared to
be always drying the same pair of calico
drawers, on the same stick. Round and
round this raft constantly paddled a froggy-
looking fellow, seated in a small canoe
roughly hewn out of the trunk of a tree.
His business was to see that none of the
timber drifted away, or was stolen. He was
also employed as a sort of messenger, going
to and fro among the ships. He used his
single paddleshaped something like a
spadewith great skill. Our chief occupation
was drowsily watching him. We saw
also flocks of wild fowl in great numbers,
flying almost out of sight in the air, and a
few gulls, which perched, from time to time,
about our rigging in the most friendly manner.
The only objects of interest were a few
Russian boats, fluttering about the harbour.
In them sat Cossacks with hessian boots, red
breeches, and small red turban-shaped
peakless caps. They were the rude troops of the
frontier, clumsy, leaden-faced fellows, who
seem to have grown bloated and unhealthy
in the air of the marshes. I was glad to
land, if only for a change.

Sulina is a wretched place. Russia has
ruined it, to build up the trade of Odessa,
although it is naturally, perhaps, one of
the happiest commercial sites in the world
the natural outlet of Germany and the
rich corn-lands of the Principalities. So, the
shore, which should be splendid with
merchant palaces and populous with busy men
from every nation, has been purposely
rendered the very abomination of desolation. I

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