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King Nicholas of Montenegro and Essad Pasha of Albania:
The Black Mountain Folk vs. the Sons of the Eagle

December 4, 1918

Of the many suitors and suppliants who, awaiting their critical hour at the bar of the Great Assizes, are gathered here, King Nicholas of Montenegro and Essad Pasha, who represents many of the Albanian tribes and perhaps all who are Moslems, while not the most important, are certainly the most picturesque. I visited both their mountain fastnesses years ago, and today I find them sympathetic and extremely interesting. They are both men of magnificent thews and sinews, and of the visiting monarchs of the West, only the gallant King Albert of Belgium need not fear physical confrontation with their stately figures.

They come as suppliants, it is true, but not on bended knee. In fact they are quite stiff-kneed, and perhaps that is why I like them so much. (Here are so many who crawl and creep around, falling on all fours whenever obsequiousness would seem to further their plans.) I do not play favorites as between these stalwart champions, but I must admit that my Colonel has frequently chided me for the strong preference I show for their company a preference I have never sought to conceal because I know by unfailing signs that my chief shares my sentiments and would like to see more of them.

Nicholas has maintained his sovereignty over the Black Mountain country and fought for the Cross in the benighted Balkans for six decades, although from his fresh appearance and upstanding figure you would never suspect that he had passed the half-century mark. He is well aware that he is in danger of being deposed by enemies assembled here more versed in intrigue than in open battle in which they were always worsted. Essad too, under the Crescent, has taken a leading part in many of the long and pitiless campaigns that have been waged by the discordant races and the militant churches of the dark peninsula. He now aspires to lord it legally, quite legally he insists - that is according to the Law of the Mountains - over that gaunt pile of rocks that juts out from the east coast of the Adriatic, the aerie nest of the sturdy Albanians who have defended it against all invaders and would-be conquerors back to the days of the Greeks and the Romans.

Unfortunately today the Neo-Roman Imperialists regard this rock-bound coast as necessary to the security of their homeland and their budding empire. In any event they claim it as at least a token reward for their services to the Allies (services not held in high esteem here) during the World War. [See Chapter IV.]

More recently these champions of ancient feuds faced each other in mortal combat under the battlements of Scutari. Nicholas conquered and Essad capitulated, but not to the Black Mountain men, at least that is his claim. "I surrendered," says Essad, "to the great ships of the comity of nations that most unjustly were allied against me, and they were more numerous than the gulls of the Adriatic. To them and to them only I surrendered, so that I might live to fight another day. And that will be a dark day for Nicholas."

Almost suffocated by the miasmas of intrigue that flourish so rankly in Paris, and confronted by the false faces that are seen here in every quarter, I find it refreshing and most cleansing to note the fierce hatred which blazes in the eyes of these champions whenever the name of the other is mentioned. This is real primeval stuff! These men fight and hate each other in the old style, much as did the Homeric heroes on the "ringing plains of windy Troy."

All those in attendance at the conference, whether delegates or observers, who are totally ignorant of Balkan conditions (and their name is legion), are talking continually of a confederation as the unfailing panacea for the situation in the Balkan Peninsula which has provoked so many wars and promises more in the immediate future. The economic advantages of a confederation and a customs union are obvious to everybody except the people immediately concerned, who seem to delight in little wars that have the unfortunate habit of spreading to other regions and setting Europe in flame. If argument on the subject could be maintained, the economist would only have to say the word Sarajevo.

Of course, there are many circumstances and cogent reasons which explain the warlike proclivities of these unfortunate people, some of which unwisely I voiced not knowing what they would lead to. I explained didactically, as one will who has spent some years in the disturbed and disturbing regions, that Balkan is an old Turkish word which means mountains or very high land. Then getting into my stride I explained that a great geographer of the Gotha School had asserted that the turbulence of peoples corresponds to, and is in proportion to, what he termed the "rugosity," of the lands in which they dwelt. The people in flat lands are peaceful by nature, while those who dwell in regions that are "wrinkled or corrugated" are inclined to fight at the drop of a hat. I described at some length the failures of many movements for confederation and a better understanding among the people of Southeastern Europe, some of which I had witnessed. These admirable plans had always failed, although they had been eloquently and very ably advocated by men who should have been accepted as leaders.

"In the war-racked peninsula," I continued, "we are confronted with racial and cultural differences and above all by religious animosities and rivalries, and as Bacon said long ago in his book on the vicissitudes that afflict humanity: 'The greatest of these is the vicissitude of sects. The Bulgars still dream of the day of the great Czar Simeon, the Serbs hark back to the spacious empire of Stephen Dushan, and the Albanians are quite confident that the blueprints of Scanderbeg are not outmoded. Unfortunately also the churches are not very helpful to the peace-talker, although, of course, their intentions are of the best. The members of the Greek Church look to the Patriarch in Stamboul, the Bulgars are beholden to their Exarch, while the Croats and the Slovenes look to Rome for spiritual guidance; and this, as it filters through to the mountain folk, is not always of a conciliatory character."

Unfortunately for me, my expert knowledge proved impressive, and well before I knew it I was given the unwelcome task of bringing some of the fiery chieftains together and of talking to them convincingly. Reluctantly I began with the chieftains of the two smallest warlike tribes: King Nicholas of the Black Mountain folk and Essad Pasha, representing a number of the eagle clans who have been squabbling for years over the possession of a few barren foothills that lie between their respective territories.

As I had visited both these Balkan chiefs on their native crags, I was urged to bring them as near as possible to the spirit of conciliation which it was thought should prevail at the Conference. I lunched them and I dined them - separately. My dream was, of course, to bring them together, to have them break bread at my table, drink plum brandy, and smoke the pipe of peace. My talking point was the frequent reunions in our happy land of the gallant men who wore the blue and the gray, who had fought each other for four long years and yet were now meeting so frequently on the very fields where the bloody battles had been lost and won. "After four years of fratricidal war, today they meet as brothers should. Why not you?"

"But we have been fighting those godless Albanians for four hundred years," demurred Nicholas. "That makes a difference." Indeed it does.

Then I tackled Essad. "Break bread with Nicholas? or any of the Black Mountain folk? Impossible that would be against the law of the mountains which we are all pledged to respect."

Essad had the dangerous gift of picturesque language and not seldom he gave it loose rein. Lie had served as minister of war to the Prince of Wied during the short and hectic sojourn of that German princeling in Albania.

[Prince William of Wied, cousin of the German Kaiser, was offered the crown of the newly autonomous Albania by the Western Powers after the First Balkan War and the crisis of 1913. Internal unrest and the outbreak of the World War forced him from his throne a year later. At this time (1918) Albania was occupied mainly by the Italians, but also by the French and the Yugoslavs. Its capital, Scutari, was under an interallied administration.]

"At the London Conference" [1913], Essad related, "the machinery of the new state was well set up, but the choice of the resident engineer was unfortunate. It soon became evident that the real purpose of the Prince was to weaken our people so that we might, without further resistance, drop into the lap of Austria and so cease blocking the march of the Germans to the sea. Soon we drifted apart, our relations became much less cordial, and I, though his minister of war, had to summon guards to protect my life against the machinations of my sovereign.

"The Prince surrounded himself with Austrian engineers who had come ostensibly to modernize the old palace on the coast where we, the members of the government, were living. But they really came to 'remove Essad Pasha from the scene; of course, in such a way that murder would not be suspected. This the Prince thought would be more easily accomplished down on the coast far from the atmosphere of freedom on the hills which is the birthright of my people. All day these alien intruders would be busy with their ostensible occupation, but at night they would prowl about the palace, and I soon saw that their sinister purpose was to learn where I and my wife were accustomed to sleep. When the veil of friendship was cast aside and the Austrian fleet bombarded the palace, a shell, which fortunately did not explode, landed in my official bedroom where, however, I was most careful never to sleep."

Essad if possible was still more critical of the behavior of the Italians in the last days of their first sojourn on the Albanian shore. [The Italians, et al., fled before the Austro-Bulgarian seizure in 1916.] "I was out on the hills," he related, "ostensibly shooting woodcock, but really I was getting in touch with my mountain folk and seeking a plan by which we might escape the foul plottings of our enemies. At home and abroad I told them: 'We Albanians number five million, all with national consciousness, all hoping to retain our independence, yet we are given to tribal warfare and family vendettas, and it would be wise to ask for a dual protectorate, say of America and of England, until we have learned the difficult art of self-government and also have acquired a taste for peace.

"This was my hope when suddenly the bombardment began and the Italian garrison in Durazzo dropped their rifles and fell on their knees. 'Santa Madonna! Santa Madonna! they implored, but as no help came from Heaven or elsewhere they ran away like hares, only faster.

"There was a French colonel there heading the French Mission (Colardet), and I said to him, 'Let me defend the bridge with my men and I can assure you the Austrians will never get across!" But he said, 'No, I can better trust these battalions of rabbits than your band of wolves.'

"You see, those Europeans were very unfriendly to one another, but most of all they feared my gallant tribesmen. Then the cowardly Italians sneaked down to the port and made for the boats; but before they went they had thought of their bellies and they cut the throats of my two magnificent chargers which I had bought in England at a cost of half-a-million francs. They were magnificent animals, completely war broken; and those miserable rabbits took their noble carcasses along with them to serve as meat rations on their ignominous flight."

December 5, 1918

At a lunch with him last week, to which he invited me in a formal manner, Essad honored me with a commission that showed that he was broader-minded in religious matters than many, including myself, had supposed. It was a strange repast. We were quite alone, because, as he said, he had an important communication to make, one which if it prospered would exert a benign influence upon the turbulent conditions that prevail in the Balkans. Behind his chair and also behind mine stood heavily armed servingmen, their blue tunics bulging out with pistols and their gorgeous belts bristling with yataghans. They stood to guard us only, and the food was served by the Parisian waiters of the tourist hotel who tried, not quite successfully, to ignore the strangeness of the scene in which they were involved.

Now and again, vexed by a tough morsel on his plate, Essad would drop his ineffective fork and, picking up the hunk with his fingers, would throw it disdainfully over his shoulder. The servingman never failed to catch it in his mouth and seemed to enjoy his share of the feast. The spectacle carried me back to experiences in Prisrend and Prishtina and even in more civilized Usküb on the Vardar years ago.[8] Then I too had in this manner thrown tidbits to my servingman; but today I was out of practice, so when the repast was over I simply slipped a twenty-franc note to the guardian behind my chair and he seemed to be perfectly satisfied. Evidently Paris had corrupted him as it has so many others.

Over the coffee, which was brewed in the slow, deliberate Macedonian way, Essad broached the subject that had evidently been on his mind for some time.

"An Albanian friend who has lived long in Boston brought me last week an item of disquieting news," he began. "He says your honored President is an Elder of a church which some consider, doubtless unfairly, as narrowly sectarian. Whether this be true or false, this rumor has decided me to reveal what may be regarded as my religious outlook. While my people are divided as to churches a division which the Tsar[9] in Stamboul, until I helped to dethrone him, and the Emperor in Vienna always fostered you must have seen how very liberal and catholic my people are when left to their own devices. You surely have noticed during your visits to Albania that when our peasants prepare to sow their crops they not only ask the Moslem mullah to bless their fields and their labors, but also the good will of the Christian priest was asked and paid for by them if they could afford it. I think your President should be advised of the situation in my land and of my personal attitude which, you can assure him, I would never allow to become a barrier to the happiness of my people.

"To begin with, I want you to explain what happened in our country after Kossovo [1349] and the tragic battle that was fought there. The Turks with their green banners and their horsetail standards overran our lands killing all who would not praise the one God and his prophet Mahomet. We had always been Christians; in my family many had suffered martyrdom, and my forbears would gladly have accepted the fate which the fortune of war imposed if only their lives and their property had been at stake. But this was not the case. The lives and the property of the Albanian people were in the balance, and my ancestors did what I have always considered was the proper thing for them to do. They bowed down before the green banners. They admitted the truth of the proverb, 'Where the sword is there also is the Faith, and by so doing they saved their people and their land from utter destruction."

In an aside Essad now drew a parallel which he thought was devastating to the forebears of the hated Nicholas. "How stupid those Montenegrin bishops were," he commented. "Instead of admitting that there are many roads to Heaven and that no church has the exclusive control of the entrance gate, they fled to the mountains and took refuge in the caves. They saved their faith, it is true, but they lost their civilization. They sank to the lowest level of the human race. Even your Nicholas, who has been presented at many courts, is under his gorgeous trappings but a boor."

And now came the definite proposition. "My fathers saved our people and we served the Ottoman Turks faithfully until the moment came to overthrow their sultan, which we gladly seized. Today if my religion, which was imposed or at least accepted only under duress and to save our people, is an obstacle to our return to the Christian fold, I - we - would all recant as did our forebears, and to save our people accept once again the creed of long ago."

I told Essad I would not fail to advise Colonel House and other delegates of his patriotic reasonableness, and I did so. But, doubtless wisely, our commission refused to have anything to do with the Albanian settlement. Like so many other problems it is allowed to drift along, and a deluge of blood will be the result.

[At this time, doubtless under instructions from Rome, Signor Nobile Chiesa, aviation expert of the Italian delegation, made a terrific attack in the French and Italian papers upon the stalwart Essad. He said that, while Essad was quite ignorant of any civilized language, he was very familiar with all European currencies and would accept bribes in any one of them. In the matter of language. at least, Chiesa is quite mistaken. Essad spoke a baffling French although apparently he wrote it with distinction, but he had a good knowledge of Italian, with which we eked out our conversation. Certainly it was not the lingua Toscana, but his meaning was always unmistakable. How he hated the Italians and how he loved to vilify them in their own language!

In his mountain tongue, though, Essad sums up with a song his feelings on this subject: "What is it that sports feathers but is not a bird? That carries a rifle but is not a soldier? That wears trousers but is not a man the Italian Bersagliere!"]

December 6, 1918

One of the dreams I cherished in the first hopeful days of the Conference (as mentioned in a previous entry) was to bring Nicholas, the undoubted champion of Balkan Christendom, and Essad, the Saladin of these modern crusades, together at my table; not, of course, at the Crillon where we would be exposed to the Argus-eyed gaze of the press, but in some remote restaurant, well out of the path of the conferees. The denouement of the plot was to tip my Colonel off and have him drop in casually at the place of meeting in his rôle of apostle of peace, and have him once again pronounce his familiar lines, so often effective: "All men are brothers. There are but few points of friction between us, and with but a little patience and good will, these can be ironed out."

However, the Colonel soon ruled out as unthinkable all thought of a formal meeting with these champions of the Balkans. He said it was not permissible under the Protocol, but I could see that he toyed with the idea of a chance or clandestine meeting.

Once he admitted: "I always get along best with mountain men. We seem to understand each other right away. My anteroom is crowded with lowlanders talking about dollars and cents, debts and trade privileges, and I confess they bore me. I envy you your contacts with the highlanders. How I would enjoy sharing them with you! But of course it is impossible. And you must not tempt me. From what you tell me I picture the hard-bitten Nicholas as a John Sevier who with 'over-the-mountain men' walloped the Red Coats in the Carolinas; and Essad I picture as a ringer for Big Foot Wallace of the Pecos country, who would ride for a week in the tropical sun if only at the end of the journey there was a chance of a gun battle. I should like to meet them, but, of course, it is impossible for the present."

Clearly my Colonel was weakening.

Another reason why I was never able to pull off what might well have been a confrontation of incalculable consequences io the Balkan situation was the increasing reluctance of Essad to leave his comfortable quarters in a Champs Elysées tourist hotel generally patronized by cosmopolitans. Adored and even idolized as he was by at least half the Albanian tribesmen, the Pasha was cordially hated by many others. He went out as little as possible, and when he did he was surrounded by heavily armed followers and he himself carried with him quite a battery of Brownings.

[Despite these precautions, within a few months Essad Pasha was dead. In June, 1920, the National Assembly, in which most of the Albanian clans were represented, recognized the position of their delegate to the Conference in Paris and proclaimed him king. On the thirteenth of that same month, as he was about to leave to be crowned in Tirana, he was assassinated in front of the Hotel Continental in Paris by a certain Averni Rustam, a fellow countryman whose clan had waged a blood feud with Essad's tribe for decades and who could not tolerate Essad as his monarch.

In the person of his favorite nephew, Zog, however, Essad reached the uneasy throne of the Albanian Eagles. In 1924 Zog became president of Albania and four years later, with a Napoleonic gesture, crowned himself king in Tirana, the forty-fourth successor to Scanderbeg, the legendary ruler of the Eagles.]

December 18, 1918

Today I feel that in all fairness I must put on record a more detailed account of my relations with Nicholas, his Royal Highness, King of Montenegro, which has been long withheld even from these confidential files. I must admit that these relations have not escaped misrepresentation in some quarters. They go back twenty-five years, and perhaps a few more, and I have for him such a deep admiration that when the problem which his future presented to the Supreme War Council came up, I felt it was only right that I should reveal to the Colonel, my chief, the ties of ancient friendship that bound us; and also to confess that on this subject my judgment might be colored by the admiration I had long felt for the "alone-standing, stalwart fighter" of the Balkans. This frank confession earned me a compliment that I cherish. "That is just like you," said the Colonel. "You have put your cards on the table. I shall of course be glad to discuss with you the Montenegrin problem, but when it comes to a decision I shall have to go it alone." And then the Colonel made the only ill-natured remark that I ever heard fall from his lips. "You are different from X; whenever he tips away to lunch at the Hotel Eduard VII where, as is well known, the Italians set a magnificent table, I feel in my heart that the Yugoslavs will lose another island."

"I never broke bread with King Nicholas," I protested; but weakening under the Colonel s scrutiny I confessed, "I had a few slivoviches with him, and once or twice, after the heat of the day was over, we pledged our respective countries in raki."

"That rules you out," decided the Colonel; "you must see that you cannot sit as a member of the jury before which the King comes as a suppliant." As I was excluded from the jury, I felt that I could go the limit as an advocate. "As a passing stranger, I sat with the King as an assessor or coadjutor on his bed of justice in Cetinje years ago, and what I saw justified me in maintaining that Nicholas is a great and good man as well as a stalwart fighter. Yes, I sat with him and saw him, as did Ulysses of old, 'deal unequal laws unto a savage race.' While it was certainly rough and ready justice, strictly according to the Law of the Mountain, in only one instance can I recall a verdict perhaps not in strict accordance with the evidence. The King did close an eye to help an old soldier who had stood by his side in one of the many battles for the coveted port of Scutari. A magnificent-looking fellow he was, who fed his flocks on the mountaintops in summer, in the valleys in winter, and who was ready to fight the Turks, or anyone else, whenever the signal fires on Lovcen blazed."

"In that I see no basis for your exclusion," said the Colonel. "We all love the soldier, but I fear you are holding back the gravamen of the charge."

"Give me time," I stuttered. "It was this way. A lowlander, a villager, a measly looking fellow who sat quite still in the days when brave men were arming, now declared that this mountaineer soldier had herded into his flocks sheep and goats that did not belong to him.

" 'Tis a lie an atrocious lie! answered the mountain man.' Had I been in want of sheep or even goats, I had only to tell my Gospodar, my King, and he would have helped his soldier in need.'

" `True, true,' said the King, 'that is the course I would have pursued.'

"Then the King argued with the accusing villager. 'May you not be mistaken?' he suggested. 'Wise indeed is the shepherd who knows his own sheep. And then, of course, if they are there, your sheep may have forced their way into Perko's flock without the least inducement from him.'

"The King now lit a fat cigarette and with a dark look at the villager announced, amid applause from the many who had gathered under the great tree where the bed of justice was held: 'The case is dismissed. I cannot convict an old soldier on evidence as flimsy as this.'

'But my sheep! my goats! screamed the villager. 'My brand marks on them are perfectly plain.'

" `Well! well! said the King, 'it may be so. Yet perhaps your goats forced their way into Petko's flocks of their own volition. Bring me the evidence on this point set out in writing by the Elders of the village this day fortnight when, God willing, I shall once again dispense justice.' "

The Colonel grew thoughtful. He was evidently interested now in the monarch of the Black Mountain. "I must meet King Nicholas. Clearly that is my duty," he mused.

December 28, 1918

It had been a long week of economic discussions and plans for reparations and plump indemnities that were no more substantial than fairy tales, as the Colonel sorrowfully admitted. I had plagued him so constantly that at last he consented to visit the King of Montenegro, who had now moved into town from his suburban residence and was residing so conveniently down the rue de Rivoli at the Meurice.

"Let s take a car," the Colonel suddenly agreed. "I am bursting with impatience." Then a shadow of care swept over his face which, in anticipation of the long-desired but often postponed meeting, had been so sunny. "But you don t think he will ask for a loan?"

"Not a chance," I reply gaily. "All he asks for is a passport to return to Lovcen - for the rest he will manage himself."

I must say that on this occasion, so important from every point of view, the King did not demonstrate the subtle qualities for which he has been long famous throughout the Near East. The moment after bidding us welcome and ordering Danilo, his heir (with a sturdy frame but a decidedly weak face), to go for coffee and sweets, he danced over to a lacquer cabinet and produced a number of ribbons and rosettes and crosses with yellow metal attachments that glittered and may have been gold.

"You are my true friends, or you would not be visiting a dethroned king. I beg of you to honor me and our friendship by wearing these tokens of my high esteem and my admiration." With that he tried to attach what was, I believe, the highest class of the Order of Danilo the Great upon the Colonel s coat, and upon me he thrust an order almost as high. The Colonel drew back and we both, gracefully I trust, waved away the temptation. We had by this time a regular form refusal for compromising gifts or decorations of any kind.

"We cannot accept," said the Colonel, with a pained expression on his face which did honor to his Thespian ability, "because our government is not in a position to reciprocate with a corresponding honor." And then the Colonel went on: "But for this barrier, the temptation to accept these signal honors from your Majesty s hand would be irresistible, but even so, would it be wise? Would not our desire to serve you be handicapped? Would it not be said that, after having been showered with the highest honors, is it possible for these American gentlemen to maintain the judicial attitude they should when Balkan questions come before the Conference?"

King Nicholas was not slow to see the force of this remark, and soon the decorations were safely housed again in the lacquer cabinet. After a few sips of most excellent coffee, the real business of the meeting got under way.

"My Colonel," began the King, "it distresses me that the fate of my land and that of my line is causing you anxiety. Permit me to say it should not. Lend me but for a few weeks your commandant here as a symbol of American sympathy; secure for me the passports so long denied which will permit me to reach the frontier of my native land, which your commandant knows and also loves, and the Montenegrin problem will vanish as does the snow on Lovcen when the sirocco blows. I am an exile and a man under an unholy ban, but once I cross the border the soldiers of my son-in-law and of my grandson would flee and I I would not deign to pursue them."

Having settled in this summary manner the diplomatic and military features of the problem, the King now took a lighter and a more personal view of the situation.

"Let your commandant go with me as your plenipotentiary and as the representative of liberty-loving America. What a time we shall have," and the King in anticipation roared with laughter. "We shall go shooting in the mountains, in my beloved mountains; we will bring down chamois and mountain goats and bear and wolves, particularly the wolves which have become a pest to our peasants because the Swabs[10] who have overrun the low land are afraid to follow them to their lairs as we do." Then turning to me and rather leaving the Colonel out of the shooting symposium, the King went on: "I promise you a great big bag of jarebica, the most beautiful bird that flies. It is larger than the partridge, has red legs and a red bill, and I can tell you we shall have to climb the highest peaks to get a crack at him."

"But what about your mission of pacification? " this from the Colonel, who, it seemed to me, was not a little nettled at being left out of the shooting party.

"That will be accomplished in a moment," said Nicholas. "When my people hear the crack of our rifles on the mountain peaks they will rejoice, and down in the valleys there will be peace and joydancing..."

A few minutes later a change came over the spirit of our host; the sturdy old king who had survived sixty years of constant warfare fell into a reminiscent and indeed a somewhat bitter mood.

"Our national life which we preserved from our enemies is now threatened by our friends. All the battles we fought are forgotten. It is little remembered that we served as the bulwark of Christendom against the infidel Horde for centuries, and little help came to us from the people we shielded; only Russia helped us, and she, being far away, could help but little. By persistent fighting we recovered the lands that belonged to us and we liberated our Serb brothers of the plains who had been overrun and submerged. We did not rest until we secured our seaboard towns our windows on the world of the West, where men were happier because we had protected them and we raised the cross once again over Antovari and Dulcigno. The world then hailed us publicly as gallant fighters for the true Faith, but they whispered that we were savages and that indeed few of us could read or write.

"And in a narrow sense that was true; I admit it. The school of the Montenegrin boy, and girl too, had been from the day the Horde arrived in Europe unrelenting mountain warfare. We had no need to write down the story of our race that our boys and girls imbibed with their mother's milk, and they sang it as they defended the mountain crags that were at once our home and our refuge. Yes, we did become illiterate because we had to fight day and night for our creed, our independence, our faith, our man - and our womanhood. But before the Horde came, mine had been an enlightened people loving the ways of peace. In those days Obod, today a battle-scarred village, was the Athens of Southeastern Europe and from there the records of our faith and our civilization were communicated m our tongue to the outside world still in darkness." [11]

Suddenly the old King sobbed aloud. "It is forgotten now," he said, "even by our own people, but it is God's truth that those leaden types of Obod were melted down to make bullets with which we stopped the enemies of our creed, and the precious manuscripts which revealed the glories of our race were used as wadding for the guns that saved Christendom. Had we not made those sacrifices, there might well have been no printing in Western Europe today. It might have become there a lost art, as it has with us; and the spoken language in the West might well have become Turkish. History reveals that some nations have short memories, but today in our hour of need it seems incredible that these services should be completely forgotten."

"That shall never be," said the Colonel, who was deeply moved. "In some way which we do not see plainly at present Montenegro will be restored to her ancient glory."


Back at the Crillon I slipped to the Colonel Tennyson s great sonnet and he read it and read it again.

0! smallest among people, rough rock throne
Of Freedom, warriors beating back the swarm
Of Turkish Islam for five hundred years,
Great Tzernagora, never since thine own
Black ridges drew the clouds and broke the storm
Has breathed a mightier race of mountaineers.

"We must leave nothing undone to help these gallant people and their noble king. If the Powers fail us, I shall ask Texas to take Montenegro under her wing," concluded the Colonel.

December 21, 1918

Today Andrew Radovich, the former prime minister of Montenegro and at present the bitter enemy of King Nicholas, tracked me down to a restaurant in the Passage des Princes where I often take refuge from my ethnic factors. He brought with him a young fellow countryman just liberated from an internment camp through the intercession of King Alfonso of Spain. This hard-bitten youngster is a nephew of King Nicholas queen and so by marriage is related to the House of Savoy. The royalties are evidently standing by each other, and unless I misread the signs of the times it is none too soon for them to be doing so.

Radovich had often delighted me with his stories of the Black Mountain boys who had taken to the high hills and harassed the Austrians, but his obvious purpose today was to convince me that King Nicholas had during the World War abandoned organized resistance much too soon and that for all his stalwart appearance he is really a tricky fellow who would bear watching. In the course of one of their disagreements, the King, according to Radovich, had yanked him from the premiership and with shackles on his limbs had thrown him into prison.

"The shameless fellow then visited me and with no idle purpose," said Radovich dramatically. "He had tears in his eyes, and he added he would not be happy as long as I was in chains and I well, I told him: 'Bishop-King, my arms and legs are in chains but my soul goes free, as it never did in the days when I served you and tried to follow your serpentine path. "

Apparently the Serbians when they rushed into the Black Mountain country liberated the former premier and, as some maintain, sent him to Paris to make all the trouble he could for King Nicholas. One of his talking points is to the effect that Montenegro could have held back the Austro-German armies for years, as they had held back the Turkish horde for centuries, but for the perfidy of the King.

"If we had only fought shoulder to shoulder with the Serbians, the Germans would never have been able to pollute our soil or devastate our fields and villages. For fifty years he kept the Serbs and our Black Mountain folk apart, and now you see the result: no railroads, no communications, no modern weapons; only our stout hearts against modern artillery, and, inevitably, the result was defeat." So runs the story of Radovich.

I turned from politics and listened to young Djourovitch, who had an interesting tale to tell. He was a law student, and when the Austrian invasion came he went to the hills where he was soon joined by many other fearless spirits. At least half of them, he said, were Montenegrins from America who had worked in the mines and the lumber camps of our Northwest until the tocsin sounded that brought them home.

"We were splendidly equipped," he maintained, "in very short order. We drew our rations and our guns from the Austrian transport trains. Soon wandering Polaks and Czechs joined us and we led a merry life. Often in Austrian uniforms we would descend into the garrisoned villages and, with false information, send the invaders into the mountains on wild-goose chases. Then we would kill the officers and men who remained behind and we would also kill the very few of our countrymen who were so traitorous as to do business with the invaders and make profits out of our misfortunes. Not many, but some of the women had been so shameless as to consort with the Austrians; in one village we found nine of these. These we marked for life, that is, we cut off their noses."

The young bloodhound was particularly bitter against Serbs; indeed, he thought well of the Albanians who had harassed the retreat of the shattered Serbian forces on their march to the sea. "The worst of it is," he continued, "the fact that many of them [Serbs] are our blood brothers. Take the Mirdites, for instance, that infamous Albanian clan; they are really Serbs or Bosniaks who flinched and fled to the highlands while we held our ground against the Turks.

"When I return home I shall devote my life to exterminating these robbers and murderers who disgrace the Serb blood that flows in their veins. They are men who will kill their blood brothers for a pair of shoes."

I left the young barbarian with gloomy forebodings as to the nature of the peace we are bringing to the Balkans. There the melting pot will boil over with gore before the hostile tribesmen settle down again to the workaday world that awaits them if any of them survive.

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