Calling To Prayer

Calling To Prayer.

One lovely morning, soon after our arrival in the city of the Sultan, we resolved to vary our adventures by an excursion up the Golden Horn. Making our way therefore, to one of the boat-stations on the shore, we found a multitude of little barges crowded together like logs in a lumberman's boom. To separate one of them from its fellows requires an expert. There are said to be thirty thousand of these little caiques in Constantinople. A sail in one of them is quite exciting; first, from their lightness, which permits the boatman to send them skimming over the water with exhilarating speed; and, also, from the fact that they possess no seats or benches, and one must sit on cushions in the bottom of the boat, as motionless as a Chinese idol. If not, a careless movement, or misstep, may give the tourist an impromptu Turkish bath among the fishes of the Bosporus. Having at last secured our boat, and taken our seats with infinite precautions, we started up the Golden Horn. It is an arm of the sea which pierces the European shore, almost at right angles to the Bosporus, and winds thus inland for about four miles, having at the lower end Stamboul on one side and the European quarter on the other. It is a curving, tideless, land-locked harbor, with water deep enough to float large ocean-steamers and it is called the "Golden Horn," not simply from its likeness at sunset to a glittering cornucopia, but from the fact that into its bosom has been poured the golden wealth of almost every nation on earth. Across its fair expanse. we see occasionally a floating bridge, like a chain bracelet clasping a beautifully rounded arm. Meantime, along each bank extends a charming perspective of vessels, houses, mosques, and cypress groves; while here and there, beyond the masts of ships, a graceful minaret lifts itself toward heaven, like a shaft of ivory.

A Moslem Teacher

A Moslem Teacher.

The Golden Horn

The Golden Horn.

A Cafe On The Golden Horn

A Cafe On The Golden Horn.

Gate Of Seras Kierat

Gate Of Seras Kierat.

At last our boatman landed us at one of the numerous cafes along the shores. Seating ourselves at the windows, we idly watched the sun's rays pierce the cypress trees and fleck the surface of the Golden Horn, while we attempted to swallow some of that singular mixture which the Turks call coffee. At first this beverage tasted like sweetened mud, but, presently, we began to like it. Its fault (if it has a fault) lies not in its ingredients, but in its preparation. The coffee-beans are, in the first place, ground to the finest possible powder; this, either alone, or mixed with sugar, is then boiled with water. The moment it has reached the boiling point, it is poured into a tiny porcelain cup. The sediment sinks to the bottom, while the lighter part forms on the surface a kind of foam, which the Turks call cream. Coffee, thus made, is much weaker than ours; and this explains how Orientals can consume such quantities of it, with no insomnia or shattered nerves as a result.

Lying on a table in the cafe was a Turkish newspaper. We did not get much news from it, for we knew nothing of its complicated characters. Still, there is always a fascination in seeing thus the evidences of a literary life outside our own. It makes the world seem broader, and one's own importance in it less, to find books, poems, periodicals and essays written in Turkish, Arabic, Persian, Russian, or Japanese, of which one cannot read a word. It always gives me, though of course in a lesser degree, somewhat the same feeling that I experience at night in looking off at other suns and worlds than ours. There are in Constantinople scores of European newspapers, - some printed half in English and half in French, - others exclusively in Greek or Italian. All these are subject to a rigid censorship; but purely Turkish journals (strange to say) have a much harder lot in this respect than foreign ones. This, we are told, is due to the fact that these alone are read by the great mass of the Moslem population, and hence are the only ones capable of exerting a decided influence on the Sultan's subjects.