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but on our announcing that we would certainly lodge a complaint at Athens, the extortionate official became more tractable, and allowed us to weigh anchor.
The wind was contrary. From noon to night we were tacking about from one side of the narrow strait to the other. At one time we hove to near a favorable spot for Janni to prepare our dinner; and we took advantage of the half hour to row ashore, and using the solitary drum of a column for a desk, we committed to paper some incidents of travel. The shore was wild, wooded, and picturesque. Not a house was to be seen, nor a trace of man's works, but in a ruined chapel near the strand.
We had expected to arrive at Oreos before dark, in time to reach Xerochori, so as to have a quiet Sabbath at that place. But the head winds delayed us, and it was early on the morrow when we landed at the former hamlet, after a miserable night spent on the deck of one of our little caïques, without room even to stretch ourselves out to sleep. A sail of fifteen or twenty miles through the Straits of Artemisium had taken almost as many hours. The scene of the great naval contest between the Greek and Persian fleets, which took place at the very time that Leonidas was defending the Pass of Thermopylæ on the main land, we did not It lies farther down, and nearer the sea.
We saw it afterward very distinctly, on our way from Xerochori to Chalcis, when riding over the highlands.
Oreos is now a mere landing-place, though in ancient times one of the most important towns of Eubea. Riding up to Xerochori, we passed an eminence lying back of it, surrounded by a wall of ancient materials. In early times the name of the town was Histiæa ; but from the days of Demosthenes, who frequently mentions it, it has borne that of Oreos. About midway to Xerochori, we stopped a while, at the hamlet of St. John's, to allow J. time to visit the estate of a cousin of his, Mr. Mimon, who was absent. It is extensive, taking in a number of villages.
At Xerochori—which occupies any thing but a dry situation, as its name would import—we found poor accommodations for the Sabbath. As usual, our Sunday was the noisiest day of the week. After attending church early in the morning.
the followers of the Greek persuasion give themselves up to diversions or traffic. It was market-day, and the peasantry of the district were assembled in great numbers. There was a public notary, whose little office, to our great annoyance, adjoined our rooms. He was busy all day reading and writing law documents, and his room was crowded until late in the evening.
Early on Monday morning we resumed our journey toward Chalcis. At first the ground was slightly undulating, but soon we commenced ascending, and found ourselves among those beautiful hills for which Eubea is noted. It was preeminently a “rolling" country, with an alternation of roundtopped eminences and fertile vales, both overgrown with pinetrees of a large size for this quarter of the globe. The scenery much resembles that of many regions in the United States. But as yet there is comparatively little cultivation to be seen. As we attained the highest portion of this end of the island, we began to enjoy a very extensive prospect, especially toward the north. There lay the Straits of Artemisium. Beyond the Gulf of Volo, or Pegasus, opened the landscape over the more distant plains of Thessaly. On their right, Mount Pelion raised its lofty peak; and far off in the distance could be plainly distinguished the snowy form of Mount Olympus itself, full eighty miles from us in a direct line. Toward the east the islands of Scopelos and Sciathos appeared in the Ægcan.
At the close of a warm but pleasant day's journey, after spending full eleven hours in the saddle, we reached Achmet Aga, a pretty village situated in a hollow, about midway down the island to Chalcis. We had scarcely settled ourselves fairly at the khan, before a servant came to invite us to pass the night at the house of his master, Mr. Noel, who, in conjunction with Mr. Müller, a Swiss gentleman, possesses a large tract of country in the immediate vicinity. While we declined his invitation, from unwillingness to trouble him with the presence of so large a party, H. and I (notwithstanding that the state of our wardrobe, after an exposure to all sorts of weather, was scarcely respectable) went over for an hour or two. We found Mr. Noel, a well-informed and socia
ble Englishman, living in comparative solitude, and devoting himself to the management of his large farms. Of this independent life he appeared passionately fond, though far from the society of friends and from his native country.* With our circle at Athens he was, of course, well acquainted, especially with Dr. King and Mr. Hill, whose kindness to him when sick he gratefully acknowledged. Mr. Noel gave us much useful information respecting the island of Eubea, whose long and slender outline, over against the coasts of Attica, Boeotia, and Phocis, every school-boy remembers. Though its dimensions are almost precisely those of Long Island, the population, according to Mr. N., is but seventy-five thousand. So sparse a population is insufficient to cultivate the island to any considerable extent with the agricultural implements now in use. The fields are said not to yield much more than a third as much grain as those of equal extent in England; and this, although Euboea was once the granary of Athens! All the land is divided into two categories--one half being sown with wheat, and the other lying fallow, according to the popular notion—that is, cultivated with Indian corn or maize!
* I am not aware that Eubea has ever been considered peculiarly unsafe as a residence for strangers. On the other hand, its natural advantages of position and fertility of soil, as well as the salubrity of its climate, have been lauded in England, as offering greater inducements to colonists than the remote dependencies of Great Britain. Many foreigners, too, have resided there with perfect impunity for twenty years. The sense of security thus engendered has lately received a fearful shock in the murder of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Leeves at their residence near Castaniotissa, not many miles south of Xerochori. The first accounts of this lamentable occurrence attributed it to the numerous banditti expelled from Thessaly by the Turkish troops in the spring of 1854. But I have since heard that it was effected by a band of peasants, headed by the son of the village priest, who had been befriended and educated in part by the benevolence of the deceased. Not content with murdering his benefactors for the sake of the property they had too imprudently brought with them, this fiend in human shape made use of the most cruel tortures to wring from them a disclosure of the place where they had secreted their valuables. When the neighbors entered the house after the sad catastrophe, they found the rooms spotted with the blood of the victims, and handfuls of their hair scattered over the floor. Only the infant son of Mr. Leeves escaped the malignity of the murderers.
TRAVELING IN EUBEA.
The room in which we slept at the khan seemed to be used as a general repository. In one corner was a large heap of husked cotton, grown last year in the neighborhood. We had possession of the rest of the unfinished apartment. Our horses were accommodated in the stable directly below, while Nicholas and the agoyates lay down and wrapped themselves up in their huge capotas wherever they found space enough, whether in the entry or on the porch.
Leaving Achmet-Aga the following day, we rode along the little valley through fields of tall barley, until we soon began to ascend a rather difficult defile, which, like many others in Greece, goes by the Turkish name of “ Derveni.” In many places it was nothing but a continuous "scala," or staircase, to which our horses, though poor in other respects, were so well accustomed, that they mounted them with little apparent difficulty, and rarely, if ever, stumbled. In a few hours we gained the summit of the ridge, and then the full prospect burst upon our eyes, presenting us with one of those extensive views of the country which are scarcely less attractive than the sites of ruined cities, or the scenes of famous battles. The central part of the island of Euboea lay before us. On the right, beyond the channel, was the Boeotian coast, with the summits of Cithæron, Helicon, Parnes, and Pentelicus, in the distance. At one place, along the border of the water, we distinguished the outlet of the katavothra, through which the Lake Copais discharges into the sea. We could discern Chalcis, too, before us, and the narrow Euripus on the other side. But the most striking object was the snow-capped head of Mount Delphi, whose ridge forms the backbone of Euboea, rising full five thousand five hundred feet above the sea, and serving as a beacon to the country far and wide.
During the entire afternoon, we were crossing a sterile plain in the direction of Chalcis. Here once more we joined a road traveled by carts. As the road ran for a distance along the shore, we noticed the sand wet for a foot or more above the water, showing that it had fallen from the highwater mark. This is the only part of the Mediterranean where the phenomenon of the tides is perceptible, and it is due to the narrowness of the channel between Euboea and the
main land. We suffered much from the heat on the low, sandy plain, and were really glad to reach the gates of Chalcis. This town is situated on a low, sandy promontory. Its moat and wall have fallen into neglect, and only an embankment and a rude ditch now occupy their place. There is, however, an interior fortress, or castro ; and much of the city used to be, and still is, inside of it. At a distance, Chalcis presents a picturesque appearance, by reason of two large domes of old Turkish mosques that have been suffered to remain. The modern aqueduct winds across the plain, and may readily be mistaken for the remains of some ancient work. As we rode through the streets, we could not but notice how much better Chalcis is built than the towns we had recently seen. The streets, bordered with shops and stands, forming the agora or bazar, presented a scene of considerable activity, and of much wrangling. Our ears were saluted by a variety of discordant cries from the country merchants; and we were obliged to jostle through the crowd, crying 6 varda”. (“ take care”) to the pedestrians. Now and then a donkey, laden with a huge basket on either side, came brushing past us, compelling us to draw up our legs to prevent their being crushed between the beasts. Or, on turning a corner, we came suddenly upon a train of the same patient quadrupeds, down the narrow street in single file, each hidden beneath a towering mass of dry brush, like so many perambulating hay-stacks. Either a hasty retreat was necessary, or we found a convenient refuge in some adjoining portal until the way was clear. The cause of all this activity was, that Chalcis is the only important place on the island, the mart for its products, and the capital of one of the nomes, or districts, of Greece.
A curious discovery was made, a few years since, at Chalcis. A piece of the wall surrounding the citadel accidentally fell; and behind it there was perceived to be an opening.
This being enlarged, proved to be a passage leading to a room, where were found a pile of coarse bags containing an enormous quantity of ancient armor. The articles were carefully transported to Athens by order of the king, and inspected by the historian Buchon. He pronounced them to belong to the first