5
     I had intended to climb straight over the mountains through the Black Forest to the valley of the Neckar, but the Black Forest was all white and its roads snowed up instead, we started up the Rhine Valley towards Karlsruhe, along smooth roads, with the trees beside us frosted like Christmas trees and the air full of the jingle of sleigh bells, and the village ponds with the ice cracking upon them. At every Dorf the snow was piled very
2I

high at the corners and the ducks lifted their feet straight up and put them down with very obvious reluctance.
Then, at Ratstatt, I swung off the main road to Ettlingen and thence we climbed to a thawing Pforzheim.
     Each minute saw us higher and more among timber. The architecture of the towns and villages became more and more quaint and mediaeval-tall turrets, axe blade roofs to let the snow slide off, inns in which the lower stories were given over to the cattle; castles perched on peaks and, now and then, snow torrents between dark pine woods from which you momentarily expected to see a gnome in his red cap and long hose, come hopping with his tiny miner's pick. Trudging oxen slid as they hauled their sleighs. The ancient university town of Tubingen was bright with coloured banded student caps, and dangerous with wet, winding, mountain streets.
      Then, Reutlingen and Urach with their tortuous alleyways and polite policemen and corner houses weighed down with verbotens for motor lorries and waggons and motor-cars and all the other wicked of the transport world.
     The country opened out, at length into long fields of snow obscuring hedges and fences, sometimes two feet deep on the road, sometimes piled beside it in blocks. Near dusk we were at the village of Bohringen hoping to reach Ulm before dark.
     Suddenly, we came to the edge of the woods. The snow was very deep. The slope was very steep. The air was thick with half-hearted, slow-falling Hakes. The night when we had struggled with the slippery hill for an hour grew dark, the wind was cold and our clutch was behaving as if it were infirm and old instead of only born a few weeks before.
     It refused to hold. Furthermore, when we put chains on the car, they, too, refused to hold. One of them just sank into the icy surface and stayed there, and surely Germany never saw a profaner sight than the crew of
22


                                                                                3
     Knowles was not at Drottingen. But he had been there. There was no doubt about it. He had disappeared, but he had become a pleasant legend to every one except the host of the inn who, on sight, we pronounced to be the most unpleasant type of Prussian, avaricious, truculent, offensive. The remainder of the village was not any of these things. It looked as if it were recovering from a long night out.
     It had plenty of evidence to give of the existence of Knowles. Firstly, it had the car in a draughty cowshed, its disc wheels plated with ice; stalactites hanging from its axle; its general appearance that of a vehicle which had been to the North Pole and done its journey not wisely but too thoroughly. Next, there was a very crowd of testimony, and finally there was the bill. In the warm Saal of the inn, with guttural boys and girls who had come in from ski-ing all round us, I held a court of inquiry and sifted the evidence.
     It appeared from what they said combined with Knowles's own later emendations that on the previous evening, a bullock wain was delayed in the snow and, about midnight, had almost collided with a dark object which it found to be old Scrap Iron. While it was trying to avoid this obstruction an officer, whom its peasant conductor did not in the least understand, got out
of the car and shouted:
     "Come on, George, hitch upl" or words to that effect, with very effective pantomime. The peasant had no desire to hitch up. He wanted to get home but there
29

was an officer; and what could one do when an officer, especially an English officer (who might have been French and a member of the Patrol which was still in occupation of the Rhine Zone a few miles away), began barking orders. So, the bullocks were unspanned and tied to the motor-car (mark you, sir, it was already midnightl), and they pulled and pulled and nothing happened.
     "But, dammit," the Well-Born Ofiicer said, "these are no bullocks, they are caterpillars. Imshi! Raus! Get more bullocks!"
     The peasant said he would like to be excused; all this conversation was, of course, conducted in half-sign language. The Well-Born Officer said he'd see his rabbits dead before that happened. Then he climbed into the waggon and sang songs all the way into Drottingen, where all the population, except a number of ribald youths and maidens who were dancing at the inn or
otherwise engaged, were in bed. The Well-Born Officer sat on the steps of the inn when they refused to let him enter and sang a song which they thought referred to the Kaiser and Marshal von Kluck, and when the inn-keeper and the police remonstrated with him all he would do was to shout:
     "Bullocks! Oxen! Moo cows-blast your eyesl"
     Eventually, they thought that, in the interest of public peace and the temperature of their own marrows, they had better continue the discussion inside.
     At this point the village collectively looked at each other and held its head.
     "Well, what happened then?" I queried.
     "Noble Herr," whined the landlord, "the gentleman had no money. He wrote this in my book. He said the Ober Kommandant of the Royal King George Official Government Motor-Car Expedition" (this our wandering one had written in the book) "would settle when he arrived. I trust your worship will yet pay this score."
     The score read as follows:
30



                                                                             CHAPTER IV
                                            CUSTOMS, MORE CUSTOMS AND THE FROZEN LANDS
                                                                                         1
     Europe slipped away in a procession of ancient cities. We traversed tracts where black asphalt had been covered
with a film of grey ice. We ate in wet hamlets; again, in the gaiety of Vienna. We had the mediaeval spectacle of Salzburg where one might not have been astonished to see knights in black armour riding out to war with fluttering pennons served up to us. We drank scented tea in furtive village inns where a reasonable man might not have unjustly expected to be robbed and murdered. Munich gave place to Hohenlinden and its snow; Germany to Austria with more snow, and Austria to Hungary.
     It was a work of ceremony getting into Hungary.
     (1) The Austrian Border Police, housed in a tiny hut, sent us to the Austrian Customs Authority, housed in a railway carriage, who stamped our carnet and
     (2) sent us back to the Border Police, who inspected everything they could lay their hands on and left me to the tender mercies of -
     (3) the Hungarian Border Police, who had only five words of German and no English, French or Italian. Their Chief and I carried on a conversation which neither of us understood until a carter was requisitioned as interpreter. After which, we were sent to
     (4) the Travel Control Oflice, a mile away, where the united staff`, very resplendent in new uniforms,
34


                                                                        3
      I felt quite proud when ten o'clock saw us on the way to the border. It was guarded by a boy in sheep-
37

skins on the Hungarian side with a long and carefully polished bayonet. On the other side, outside a mean hut, two hairy persons were gazing at Hungary, and incidentally at us, with an air of disconcerting hate.
     Our soldier came close to us and placing the bayonet point about an inch from my chest said: "Back!"
     We backed. He got on to the footboard and guided us, in our tracks, to a village a mile on the Mohacs Road. ,
     "But you must go to Mohacs again," said the cheerful Commandant here, who was a Count. "You have not,
passed customs."
     Crestfallen we went back to pass customs. I left the dreary Zollamt on the bank of the Danube to find a crowd round the car and the radiator leaking like a sieve. We mended it with white lead and lit out for the border to meet our friend the border Commandant again. We approached his house streaming water from the bottom of the radiator and blowing it out at the top. It was an impressive sight, and it seemed to fill him with delight.
     "Ah," he cried, "this is nothing. Motor-cars are our hobby here. Yes! My boys and I, we have taken this car"-indicating an ancient French vehicle-"to pieces nine times."
     He halloed and the garrison came out with their soldering irons. They had that radiator off in seven minutes, and in an hour and a half it was soldered and we had had wine to drink and had been introduced to the lady of the house and bowed upon our road to Belgrade.
     At the border we were handed to the custody of the hairy ]ugo-Slavians and the weary game of entry began all over again.
     The sentries examined us and borrowed tobacco. The customs officers a hundred yards along went through us and stamped our papers. Lastly, one of them (with
38



of the European peasant and the good deed of this visitor almost brought tears to his eyes,
     "Bushmen everywhere are the same," he said.  "This poor bloke looks a dinkum bushman and he has brought us a bit of his dry wood."
     He proceeded to hold  forth on the virtues of the bushman. I was, at the moment, retiring from the fight with the radiator to have a malarial fit, but I curbed the malaria because I had a suspicion that any feeling of hospitality in the breast of our benefactor was towards himself, an idea which was strengthened when our friend of the morning from Pittsburg arrived somewhat the worse for slivovitza, which is the local whisky. He was both cheeky and obstreperous. He addressed me
as "Young Feller." Then he demanded coffee and asked; us to drink with him. He remarked that it was all settled that he and three companions whom he had brought with him, and who were as drunk as victorious pirates, should guide us to Belgrade on the morrow; and, as he and the Samaritan of the firewood winked at each other continuously, I ordered them all out of the camp and they left shouting that they would come back and see us to-night. Whereupon, we passed a unani-
mous resolution that, if we had to blow the car up she would not be there when they returned.
                                                                                       5.
     At 4.40 a subdued splutter advertised that the engine was at last ready to start. Before we left England, the motoring papers had been full of the simple remedies of sanguine drivers who had infallible methods of starting up cars which were frozen. For the benefit of those, who have never been educated by an excursion to the Danube in zero weather, I append ours, which was as follows:
     Thaw radiator with boiling water and keep thawed with heated blanket wrapped in tarpaulin.
 44


it looked; for it had been snowing there for days and the thaw was imminent.  Down the centres of the streets the snow was piled in heaps four feet high, dirty chocolate-coloured compost mixed with the offal of the gutters. But the Imperial hotel proved well above the standard of the streets. Its apartments were regal; its menials were without number and it possessed a lift - the only lift in Bulgaria; the only lift, indeed, in the whole wide world of which the installation had been chronicled as a national event in the august pages of the "Times."
     Woebetide the unfortunate guest of the Hotel Imperial who forgets the existence of that lift. He may go without a hot bath for weeks. He may throw potatoes at the lady dancers who infest the basement cabaret which is the hotel's only restaurant. He may get drunk or sing "Tipperary" on the stairs and I doubt if anybody will say a word of protest to him;but if he shows the slightest sign of walking up the stairs, three large persons in gorgeous livery will leap upon him with shocked countenances.
     "Sir, the lift!" they murmur in very much the same tones in which they might speak if they were to say:
     "Sir, you are inadvertently walking about without your trousers on."
     They look stern and you capitulate-that is if there are not more than three of you, for that is all that the
Imperial lift will hold.
                                                                                      4
     Sofia in the morning proved to be well snowed under with small oases of its bright saffron-coloured pavement
peeping through the horrid  mess. Its trees were bare and all its girls added to a natural width of figure a prudent-skin of garments which made some of them appear equal in dimensions from whichever angle they were viewed.  The city itself was very evidently paying for the war. In spite of gorgeous officers on the streets
64




79

far-off town nestling under a headland and an ash-grey road meandering up and down a lovely coastline between lawns of green. grass.
     It seemed a imagnificent road-till we reached it. Then it proved to have been built by the Romans or the Goths or
some other ancient people and not repaired since. It had rocky mounds all over it and a patent motor-trap type of culvert which allowed you to  get your front wheels over it, but which then left your undergear sitting solidly on a flat table of stone, so that the only way to get off was to jack up the rear wheels and build
an elevation under each of them. 
     We did this at eighteen bridges  before we reached our first major bunker, which was a village.
     In the village it was Turkish Sunday--that is Friday --and the Turkish flag was hung out of every doorway. It is a fervent, blood-red flag like an auctioneer's and the reiteration of its brilliance left one, at first glance, with the uneasy feeling that the whole of Turkey was up for sale.
      A civil policeman, of course, held us up.  He looked at our passports and papers and then he had a five-round,
verbal battle with George, at the end of which it was explained that the Chief of Police was away and would be back to-morrow when he would be glad to hold an inquest on us.
     George, as we afterwards discovered when we reached Stamboul, explained, in effect, that we were his meat and
that We had been consigned to his care to be delivered as quickly as possible at headquarters. There was a very typhoon of an argument, but George won.
     The rest-of the day was given over to the same sort of  thing -- jack your way over a culvert; become bogged in
the mud; get out of the mud ; become bogged in policemen; smoke cigarettes on the footwalk and drink tiny; cups of coffee with a gendarme; escape from gendarme, meet another culvert.
80

 
                                                                                  4
     We turned a corner and there was something in view which at once arrested our attention. It was a man by the edge of the road dressed in the high shako of the gendarmerie, with khaki uniform and all complete. He had a Ross Rifle with ugly notches cut in the butt and a bayonet gleaming on the end of it, and he had one hand held stubbornly up in the air.
     I tried very hard not to see that hand, but it was insistent.
     We stopped.
     "Veseka!" (passport), said the gentleman with the bayonet. We produced our mighty wad of documents. Ismail looked at me as much as to say: "Let me manage this!" and the next moment was heard asking politely for an officer. The bayonet led him to a guard house and there were voices which presently broke into a tornado. Then a telephone bell rang and Ismail was heard making a speech.
     "He'll win," I remarked confidently to a doubtful Birtles, who can always be depended on to view circumstances in the most gloomy possible light.
     Ismail did. We heard the other voices die down and in a minute or two he came out with the prize, which seemed to consist of several more gendarmes. with rifles and bayonets and cartridges. He had, also, obviously acquired such a heavyload of care that I almost wondered for a second whether we were to be lined up against the guard-room wall and disposed of.
      "Ah, Meester Ellis, we go Ismid," said Ismail, spreading his hands  in a despairing gesture.
99

     "I'm blest if we do," said I, getting ready to fight a forlorn hope. I flatly refused to go to Ismid. I told the officer that I had been expressly forbidden to set foot in Ismid in the interests of international peace.  But the officer was obdurate.  He put some bayonets on board the car and there was nothing for it but to turn round and go.
     It was a lovely morning, but we did not enjoy the weather. The blue gulf with the obsolete "Goeben" lying grey and gigantic upon its surface gave us not a single thrill.  We lost the aesthetic satisfaction which we might have been expected to derive from the sight of a hill clothed in flat roofs to its very top and so buried in white and pink blossom that it looked like one vast, gigantic flowering peach tree. Down the main street of Ismid we went, the hucksters by the railway line which runs through it hurriedly making way for us, people coming to shop doors at the sound of our open exhaust. We scattered pack teams of donkeys laden with scented tobacco and presently we drew up at the gates of the Navy Yard.
     In went the gendarmes and out came a naval oflicer uniformed exactly like a British naval flag commander.
     "I am Djemal Bey," he said. "I regret to inform you that you are under open arrest. These damn fools of
gendarmes have brought you into a naval zone and you must stay till we have permission from Angora for you to leave. I hope it will be only twenty-four hours. Meanwhile, there is a good hotel where you can stop, and except that you will be in charge of a policeman, you are free."
     And that was our welcome to Ismid.
     "This is all very unreasonable," said I to Djemal Bey hotly. "It is," said Djemal. "In fact, as one might say, it is positively bloody. But don't blame us. Blame the gendarmes. Tomorrow you will be free I hope."
     "Well a day off won'd do us any harm."
     I looked round and saw the face of Ismail sunk in gloom.
     "Cheer up, Ismail," I cried. "We'll be out of here tomorrow."
     "We never get out," said Ismail hopelessly. And we all laughed.


 PREFACE

THIS volume seeks to tell the story of an attempt by three Australians, under the author's leadership, to reach Australia by motor-car over a route in which sea travel was reduced to a maximum of 8oo miles.
     To synchronize their departure with the most suitable weather conditions--the vital factor for success-was impossible owing to personal reasons, and it was necessary that they should leave London in the heart of winter and endeavour to reach India before the heat of mid-summer and the monsoonal rains set in.
     Unfortunately, the unavoidably late delivery of their motor-car by the manufacturers and unlucky breakages
inevitable in an experimental vehicle which started on so formidable a journey a few days after the heaviest and most widespread snowfall-it extended from the French border to ]erusalem-in forty years, so delayed the venture that the rains had begun in Burma when India was reached and the party had suffered a severe gruelling from the variations of weather, which frequently plunged them into a sea-level heat of 112degrees Fahr. one day and froze them with an icy cold blast, in the mountain snows seven or eight thousand feet up, the next. The advent of the rains rendered it futile to attempt the remainder of the journey, and we had to be content to have achieved the first winter-time motor journey
from London to Constantinople so far as we could discover, and the first complete one from London to beyond
the Indian border without taking train or crossing unnecessary water anywhere.
vii


     I did also make a curious record. I am the only man in history who has reached Australia from London with only eight days of sea travel. The remainder was all overland, with the exception of the passages of the English Channel, the Bosphorus and the Indus.
     I have been perfectly frank about our breakdowns and difiiculties and reactions to trouble. Since the car was experimental and without trials, and through force of circumstances we were compelled to take her on her Odyssey without anyone concerned feeling that she was satisfactory for the journey, I have no desire to lay her weaknesses at the door of her makers, who were, I think, fully cognizant of their existence. As, however, the very objective of the journey from their point of view was to place the vehicle in the hands of Australian drivers to drive her as Australians would ordinarily handle her  - in difiicult conditions and to provide a practical lesson from the effects of her treatment for their designers, they are worthy of considerable congratulation for their enterprise in submitting what they knew to be an imperfect machine to tests which would give them certain data from which to construct a perfect one.
     I would also ask readers to remember that I do not wish my observations on countries and peoples to be other than the superficial views of a casual observer who, except in two countries, had neither time nor opportunity to delve very deeply into public questions and conditions of life.
     My thanks are due to Sir Robert Hadfield, Bart.; to Sir Charles Wakefield, Bart.; Mr. S. H. L. Greaves, Financial Director of Bean Cars, Ltd., of Dudley; to Mr. S. H. Nichols, of Smith 8C Sons; to Major Martin, of the Overseas Trade Department; Colonel Binns, R.M., of Constantinople; Mr. Tom Field; Mr. Goodall, Director of the Dunlop Rubber Company, Ltd. (India), and the host of other friends who helped and encouraged us.
viii

     Even though we did not succeed, I left behind me a skeleton organization and a basis of information which will lighten the task of any other party attempting the journey in the future. Already, one member of our party, using it, has tried unsuccessfully to achieve the complete journey, but at almost the very outset was compelled to omit 2,000 miles of the direct route from Sofia onwards. My assistance is at the disposal of any other sporting adventurers who care to try.
ix


EXPRESS TO HINDUSTAN
CHAPTER I
THE BEGINNING OF IT
1
     THE Adventure began in Park Lane one summer evening as my fellow-Australian friend and I sat
over our wine after an early dinner.
     It was that mellow hour of English twilight when the owls are coming out in the country and the girls and
guardsmen in Hyde Park; when the roar of London is dimmed for a little after the early theatres are filled and a
growing weariness has come into the tones of the newsboys crying the evening editions.
     Then, it is easy to make romantic plans, for everything is in a half light, and to us, for the moment, it seemed
that we were not setting ourselves a task much greater than the organization of an excursion into Surrey.
     "Well," said my friend, the Engineer, "suppose I do build a motor-car in England suitable for Australian
conditions, how can we test her? Their roads here give no criterion. Their Colonial test course is amusing to
an Australian. What is the quickest way of discovering her weaknesses?"
     "Drive her across Europe and Asia and down to Singapore or as far as we can get and, if the season is not too
late, across Australia," said I light-heartedly.
     "Will you carry it through?" said the Engineer.
1
     "Give me the car by the middle of December, so that I can leave in the middle of january, and I'll try," I said
on the spur of the moment.
     And, before either of us quite knew what we were about, we were committed to the task. The motor-car, of which the details were only in our brains, was to be built within the next three or four months, and, a few weeks after Christmas time, with what light-hearted spirits I might gather round me, I was to set my course with the experiment for Australia and go as far as she and the rains would let me.
     That having been decided, I elected to go home by the "Twopenny Tube" and the Engineer escorted me to Down Street, lest I should get lost on the way.
     Next day, he went to the Midlands to talk cars and I went to the British Museum to look at maps, and then we both went to the Midlands. Finally, when all England had gone to Scotland for the shooting, and London had become dusty and brown and hot, everything was settled except detail organization, and, in a grey morning when the mists hung over Croydon, the Engineer waved to me from the cabin of a Paris-bound Imperial Airways aeroplane en route for Australia, and left me to the mercy of the British manufacturer and the map-makers.
                                                                                 2
We had decided from the outset that the expedition was not to be a noisy, advertising journey. It was to be purely an experiment. There would be no farewells by actresses or potentates; none of the vaudeville which is inseparable from most ventures of the kind. But it is hard to keep a secret, and soon advisers were about me almost as thickly as the problems which beset our preparations.
     I needed them.
2

It was evident that we should have to start in the dead of winter and who was there to tell me what the winter
conditions were over the whole of 1 1,000 miles of route? The Australian end I knew. The tropical portion I
could guess climatically. But the rest was mere mist. There had been three motor parties over the whole or part of the rough course which I mapped to India, only, but at the best season of the year, namely, leaving London in October. Their accounts, however, were so divergent that they could not even agree upon distance. One made it 12,000 miles to Calcutta from London; another 8,000. But the one who had done it in eight so little agreed with map measurement on certain sections where he had taken the train or boat that his figures seemed doubtful, though his aggregate eventually proved fairly correct. The third, who had been to the Indian border 2,000 miles short of Calcutta, with some side-
excursions which seemed to total only hundreds of miles, reckoned - the distance to Quetta nearly 9,000 miles, -
while the Iarge scale maps and war-time estimates seemed to put it at, about 5,500, which it actually proved to be.
     Then, collating the various stories, it appeared that some met in certain places with roads on which they made splendid times, while almost contemporaneous accounts showed that these very spots were the most trackless desert over which only the transcendent super-excellence of a certain make of car and the superhuman sagacity and virility of its drivers made passage possible.
     In fact, the only matters on which these universal orthorities seemed to agree was that, after Middle Europe, the way was made up of danger piled on danger, hardship upon hardship and bandit on bandit. And, when you met the returned local inhabitant and questioned him  =his accounts varied almost as much as those of the motorists.
     Usually, you found either that custom had staled his of the terrible so that he indignantly and sincerely
3

denied the local dangers and difficulties even in a mitigated form or else launched, with keenly lighted eye, into an account of forays in which he had been involved there. In that case, he was invariably of pre-war vintage.
     When you came to collate your information with maps, confusion built itself on confusion. Where voyagers had found trackless desert sprinkled with banditti there seemed to be British military roads. Where the venturers said nothing of difficulties there seemed to be no roads at all; But, though all this should have been aggravating to the last degree, it was, in a way, the most interesting part of the whole enterprise--the minute gathering, mile by mile, of all pertinent to our intention that was known of Burma and Siam and Malaya; the piecing together over two m0nths' hard work of their village-to-village tracks; the accumulation of bush lore from quiet men who had ruled districts as great as England and as wild as the Solomons or Bismarcks in the seventies, and who had now retired to enjoy their malaria in tiny, winding valleys on the edge of the Surrey heaths, under the shadow of the church spires of their fathers.
     Sometimes, one would sit on a high stool in a hostelry where Ben Jonson had revelled, drinking whisky with a grizzled veteran who had seen Theebaw; sometimes, one's hired villain, beaming with unvirtuous satisfaction all over his or her countenance, would slip into the office and whisper: "I couldn't buy it, but I've pinched it." Whereupon there would be hours of poring over some forbidden fruit which had come our way. It is astonishing how easy it is to steal things when you really want them, and, though I officially disapproved of the process and always returned the purloined goods, there was a certain grim amusement in watching the expression of delight which came upon the countenance of at least one young helper when official obtuseness or red tape or private ill-will made it necessary for him to adopt the
methods which he described delicately as "resorting to
4

the something illegitimate." He hated fixed ownership with all the warmth of a true book collector. Every theft to him was a comparable experience with that triumphant moment in which, having been denied certain route books by a Government Department on the ground of their Profound Secrecy and National Importance, we discovered full copies of them (and all marked, too, with the evidence of the Government opinion of them) reposing on the open shelves of the Library of the Royal Colonial Institute.
                                                                                           3
     Every man is, at heart, a boy and the pull of adventure never seems to slacken. Little old men in the British Museum who looked as if they had taken the same bag from the same corner, the same hat from its hook, the same bus to the suburbs from time immemorial, became young when our plan was unfolded to them. They brought other old men, entomologists, geologists, lean, wise, untidy ancients, who all became glorified in the beam of recollection as they told you that here was the spot where they were chased by the elephant. "I'd like to be coming with you," was their universal expression of longing.
      But they were no more in a glow than the Oriental Ambassador, of Royal blood, who in his absorption over maps stretched himself full-length on the carpet and pined to me for a large bore rifle and an adjacent tiger.
     As the months went on, tall, close-cropped fellows began to drop in casually with a military gait and a fever
complexion to whisper that they had heard of what was going forward and ask: "Is there any chance?" And it made your heart bleed to have to say "No." A wistful lot are the English who have exiled themselves from their own land in their youth and been exiled back to it in middle age to spend the rest of their lives pining for
5

the outlands. They never wanted money. Some of them were even willing to throw their pensions into the pool. And they didn't care how long it was to take, for time was cheap and the lanes of England narrow and the churchyards stuffy. Just give them a chance-and when you denied it they were very polite and asked you to lunch at some great club in Piccadilly or St. ]ames's Street and said you were an "extraordinarily lucky chap," and, having introduced you some one out of the same mould who remembered with them, to your own momentary extinction, "that blasted night" in Kermanshah, or Canton, or St. Quentin, they wished you good luck like sportsmen and retired, with gentle resignation, to the shadows of their steepled villages, coming back wistfully every little while to ask "how things were going" and
hoping, very obviously, that in the meantime somebody in the party had died.
                                                                                           4
     Lastly, there were the advisers whom I sought myself. One figure stood out among these consultants and I think in stature he was the smallest of them. On a quiet September Sabbath I went to see him down in one of the low counties. My companion of the journey was a former naval oflicer, a man who, in his time, had earned front pages in the illustrated weeklies and had been decorated by Queen Victoria for something heroic that had happened in Grecian seas, stirring the British world to its depths at the moment and completely forgotten  in the present generation. He seemed to have forgotten it himself. His motto was "ex neixovc Nixn" as one might say "From Striving, Victory"; his motor mascot was the Imp of Lincoln. He drove a motor-car like a" midshipman with his first pinnace and he had long since
abandoned the practice of firing shells at Britain's enemies to make them for some one else to fire.
 6


     The night before our pilgrimage we went upon the moors of Yorkshire and talked the stars round in their courses, and in the morning we drove through the Dukeries along lanes just greying with the summer heat till we came to the flat lands where the flying men are.
     When we had been sitting in a cosy parlour, for a little while, in one of those military cottages in which majors are lodged the British Army world over-except in India, where they are potentates - the usual black-garbed British manservant knocked at the door and announced a name, and forthwith there came into the room a man in a private's blue uniform wearing the badges of a second-class mechanic in the Royal Air Force.
     My first thought was how tiny he looked; the second, how young and unlined his face; the third, for the brilliance of his smile and the queer air of unassuming authority which made every one in the room stand up as if something had dragged them to their feet.
     Presently, the Major, my host, and the Naval Man, went away and left me with him and we talked-we talked of campaigning in Rolls-Royces and how to get them over straight-sided Wadis; of phosphor bronze connecting rods and the habits of the Arab and the fall of Islam and how when one was thirty-eight and came suddenly into city traflic at forty miles an hour one's hair stood on end a second longer than when one was thirty. (Of course, at forty miles an hour one travels only fifty-eight feet in a second.)
     I would have no trouble from Arabs on the Euphrates said the Little Man in Blue, who was known of yore as
Lawrence of Arabia. There was no mystery about the Arabs--they were at bottom exactly like ourselves. And then we drifted into other things and he told me how after the war and, worse still, the Peace, he was a worn-out man and decided to take a holiday.
7

     I searched his face furtively. It was brick red under the neatly cut mop of yellow hair with a curiously symmetrical but at the same time strong lower jaw, a kind mouth and even white teeth. His voice was crisp and cultivated; the diction of his conversation unstudied; his phrasing concise and expressive. An unusual talker interested in everything, full of strange philosophy, lacking the blasé, sated look of the new, post-war generation with a mind that went directly to the kernel of every question, like a lancet in elucidation; obviously, a man who had seen life and formed most of his final conclusions without feeling either that ambition was dead or dullness after world-shaking adventure a thing to fret
about.
     One moment he was saying: "Just now my job is sweeping floors. If you should ever feel the need of the most appropriate setting for contemplation, buy a broom. It is a most soothing occupation. I can highly recommend it."
     "But you have no need to sweep floors," said I, eager to draw him out. "You could be a potentate or a Viceroy. You could succeed in literature, turn Somerset Maugham out of his house in Bryanston Square and appropriate his manservants. As for the lecture platform----"
     "I am sweeping floors," said Lawrence of Arabia, "because I have learnt in the East that it is sometimes a greater and more difficult thing to go down than to rise. After all, real life consists in striving to do those things which you find not easy."
     An hour later I left him in the sunlight outside. the Major's house.
     A hundred eager young officers in the Near East who never saw him have since explained variously that he was a madman, a poseur and a lucky dog who had gone walking in Arabia in the right week. But I noticed that the mention of his name stirred the limpness of the new
8

forage-capped effendis of Bagdad and that most of them made a respectful sign when he was mentioned.
     His name is still a great one in the East among the Arabs and the Turks-a more potent one than that of the contemporary Arab Kings.
                                                                                            5
     The year 1926 was blessed with a late summer in England. It was not till October that the trees began to shake their leaves into untidy heaps about the squares. But we had little time to notice the beauty of the autumn, save for swift walks through the Surrey beech woods when one saw nothing but the vision of a red line drawn down the Malay Peninsula or a mind picture of the Turkish Customs regulations. Then the winter closed in and the red line was complete but not neglected, for a great deal of the route was not in the magnificent triangulated maps of the Indian Survey but in the pre-war charts of foreign countries or the hasty, war-time plans of hostile country by the War Oflice.
      The question of men arose. I looked over Heaven only knows how many British drivers, but their technique was all wrong for the kind of work we had in hand. At last, more by chance than anything, I found Knowles. Knowles lived in Yorkshire. He was Australian born, but had been in Great Britain most of his life and the great central fact of his history was the war. A little man like most of the great ones, everything in his existence centred round his experiences in France and Flanders where he had a very gallant and, what was rarer, a very unassuming record. He had been wounded rather
severely but he could still sing. He feared nothing but a medical examination. He had won a long-distance reliability motor race against the nations of Europe. He was eager, when there was danger, to the point of indiscipline. His one trouble on the road was that there was
9

not more work to do, and whether the temperature was zero or we were up to our knees in snow or hungry or dead-dog tired you could always be certain of the state of one feature of the landscape-of Captain Billy Knowles, a small, dirty British ofhcer, very gay in untidy whiskers and a torn leather coat which he had stolen from me because he insisted that the leader of the party should have his new one in exchange to keep up appearances. There would be a grin on his face and around him the admiring peasantry who in every country became his slaves on the moment while there rose, with the mist of his frozen breath, some profane ditty of the Old Contemptibles:
                                                                Oh, I don't give a damn for Willhi-am,
                                                                For he is blooming-well balmy . . .
     Never was a more loyal or willing helper, and when I was compelled through force of circumstances to send him home from Aleppo with important reports which I could not trust to the erratic Near Eastern Post, he made the great sacrifice smiling and with a pun, though leaving the journey half-way through was probably the hardest thing any of us were asked to do. He was a man of Drake or Nelson material was Captain Billy Knowles. He and I drove across England once or twice and climbed the Beggars' Roost, a slippery clay incline near Exmoor, and the grade of Parracombe, by car. And he rose at Tintagel one morning and scaled King Arthur's Castle walls just to prove that his wind was sound. After that he was of the chosen.
     It remained to get one more man and at the crucial moment came a two-line cablegram to the English newspapers that Francis Birtles had broken the Darwin Sydney Record. I had thought of Francis previously, but I had hesitated to send for him because, although he was an excellent driver, a first-class rough mechanic, and had a long record of cross-country motor driving, I did
10


not know how he would stand the cold of Europe in winter when suddenly transported from the tropics or how his always belligerent nature would react to the vexations of enforced delays among the teeming population of foreign countries. He had served under my leadership previously on the Twice Across Australia journey in 1924, and we were good friends, so, upon hearing that he was so much at the top of his form, I cabled to him in November when nearly all our arrangements were complete and he arrived on the next mail steamer a rugged figure, in a brown leather coat, who
never ventured abroad without a small, russet bag of photographs of his travels which he would display on the least encouragement, and who was apt to astonish the meek tyre manufacturer of England who had never heard of an Overlander, much less of Australia's best known one, by shouting indignantly:
     "That's what a man gets for travelling 300,000 miles on your tyres. I'm a King in Australia-the King of Arnheim Land--where no white man has ever been. And you never heard of me!"
     "One of these days, Frank," I would say soothingly, "the police will follow you into your Kingdom and collect
income tax."
     "Let them try it," he would shout fiercely, "I'm ready for them."
     The poor Briton on the other side of the desk would look at me as much as to say: "Would it be better to send for the firehose than for the armed constabulary?" and we would stamp out to our motor, from which vantage-point, surveying the landscape of England, now bare of leaves and walled in with mist, Francis would glare and shout:
     "Hell of a country! Like driving down a blooming Sewer!"
     And for the whole of the journey, scarcely a day passed when he did not find something in the Old World to
11

disapprove; some one he desired to murder; some consul who needed to be turned into mincemeat for lack of respect to ourselves, the inhabitants of the British Dominions beyond the seas; some country whose loan flotations he proposed to turn into fiascos for evermore with damnatory propaganda. He was our arch-critic of all things Asian and European, for ever pining for clean air.
     With his advent, the party was complete. It now remained for us to receive the car and drive away on the journey.
12


CHAPTER II
EUROPE IN THE SNOW
1
     WE had been promised that the car would be ready in December and that we should be able to leave in January according to carefully laid plans, but when December came there was no car. There were bits of it and there were blue prints--mile upon mile of blue prints. But the aftermath of the coal strike and the difficulty of showing the British manufacturer how overseas needs were radically different from those of the Midlands, left the experiment only a heap of parts at Christmastime.
     Early in January the surroundings of Dudley were disturbed by the hoarse roar of her engine on the test bench, and a week later I travelled one dusky evening to the works and found a tester standing proudly by a chassis, which had a benzine case thrown across it for a seat and six cylinders gently ticking over. We went out in the dusk in this contraption which, through the need of many adjustments natural in a design just out of the egg-shell, several times nearly put us through the hedges. And, when the lanes were dark and the blanket of the close-packed lights twinkled through the Black Country murk, we took her gently back to Dudley and parked her in the square while we sought refreshment and compared notes before the cosy fire of the old Bush Inn.
     When we returned to her she was surrounded by small boys.
I3

     "New car?" shouted the small boys. "What's her name? Who made her?"
     A new car is an event in the Midlands.
     A small, wizened face pushed itself into the gleam of the headlights.
     "S.I," read the Face from her radiator plate-it was really "I.S.," for Imperial Six-"S.I."-"That stands for Scrap Iron. That's what she is. Scrap Iron!"
     So our vehicle was christened. Scrap Iron she looked with her jury seat, her exposed frame, her rattling, temporary mud-guards, and to us who lived with her, Scrap Iron she remained, sometimes in affection, often in anger. And the longer we had her the more aptly she answered to her pseudonym.
     Came a weary time of adjustments; of arguments with mechanics who could not believe that such springs had ever existed as we desired; who smiled at our views on frame distortion; who were apt, indeed, to brush us aside as rather rough Colonials who were impugning British workmanship and British material; who were shocked at our insistence that the success of foreign cars in overseas Dominions was due not merely to their cheapness so much as to their construction. In such an atmosphere, the work dragged slowly and, when it was finished at last, we found ourselves in possession, one Sunday morning, early in February, 1927, of something with twenty-five horse power that was as big as a Rolls-Royce and weighed as much, and which could not be considered except as an experiment from which we might evolve the dream car which we had set out to find.
      "If," said we to ourselves, "they will profit by our experiences and our breakages and take the battered wreck when we have finished with it and rebuild it as we wish, the result will probably be well on the way to success."
     We spent anxious hours asking ourselves if she would do for us, and eventually, pinning our faith on the engine and our own ability to repair breakages which we expected
I4


on rough roads, we requisitioned twice the spare parts which we had originally intended to take and got ready to set out.
     The delay had had disastrous effects on our plans. I had planned to forestall the bad weather promised in Southern Europe by a hurried dash for Constantinople in the last fortnight of january; thence pushing on night and day to India so as to give a few weeks in hand at Delhi to refit and tackle the wilds of Burma, hitherto untraversed by a motor-car, well before the break of the monsoon.
     Now a month-the most valuable month to us-of our schedule had passed and the car had had no trials. She had run fifty-eight miles on the roads--the smooth English roads. She was so little adjusted that her second gear was in the habit of throwing out on steep pinches and her brakes needed replanning to be safe. The snow which I had dreaded had fallen all the way from France to ]erusalem-one of the heaviest and most widespread falls of forty years-and, unless we were quick about our going, we were told that we should encounter first the thaw, which would be almost as bad as the snow, and probably, then, another storm.
     We looked at each other.
     "We're game," said Knowles. "Anything for a rough life."
     "My motto's 'Chance it!' " cried Francis.
     So I said I was satisfied to make the trial, and on a dull afternoon we drove out of a desultory crowd in Leicester
Square with as little heralding as I could contrive, with an international driving pass and three passports full of weird visas in my valise and slept the night in a hotel above that broad starting line of so many British venturings--the English Channel.
     Slept did I say? I, for one, had the remains of some winter malaria and a cracked rib. Knowles was leaving a young family and England, both of which he adored.
15

     And Francis was starting out on a journey without a dog. He had never before within memory, gone upon a long motor voyage without a dog, and it pained him a good deal more than all the vicissitudes which obviously lay ahead of him.
2
     In the morning, a smooth Channel lay before us and with tender care old Scrap Iron was hoisted on to her tray and thence on to the lower deck of a Channel boat. As she weighed nearly three tons loaded, and 37 cwt. unloaded, and    was over fifteen feet long from the end of her great, grey bonnet to the petrol filler projecting under her rear tank, she needed care. Then, the "Times" photographer came forward ceremonially and took a photograph of Knowles which he gave the next morning to the eager world as one of myself; a little group of friends and relatives waved; a French gentleman asked us intelligently whether we were going upon a tour, and before there was time to be sad about parting with old England, she was a grey line which one of the new German steamers, coming slowly up the Channel, seemed
to be intent upon ramming.
     A hasty meal on board; a litre calculation on the Boulogne wharf to make sure that all the petrol arranged for us had been taken in; bowings in competition with many customs oflicials in blue and scarlet with impressive swords; a little speech from the petrol merchant; another speech from some local well-wisher, and we were on our way with a clear run of 2,ooo miles ahead of us before we could expect to be pestered with more water to cross.
     "The route for India?" I asked a French customs man jocularly.
     "Tout droit," he cried.
     "Home, ]ames," I murmured to Knowles, driving.
     Grey walls and quays swept by. The road became a ribbon running down long undulations and climbing
16


again in a switchback up which we went sailing with the acquired velocity of our downward sweep. A perfect
highway, straight for mile upon mile upon mile in a continental air clearer than that of winter England.
     Our lungs expanded. Our spirits rose. Some one began to sing that old sea chantey:
                                                                I thought I heard the old man say
                                                               Good-bye, fare ye well.
                                                              We're homeward bound with twelve months' pay
                                                              Good-bye, fare ye well.
      Very close home and Australia seemed for the moment, just as often home has seemed near to a million sailors
who have bellowed that old song only to end among the coral on the way. The speed grew until I was compelled to curb every one's exuberance with a warning. The sun shone as we had not seen it shine for weeks. The afternoon drifted away in steady miles ticked off in unaltering style along the unaltering road. As we moved into the heart of France, names became historic and the villages acquired a new look, strange to the old world. The roads had the appearance of just having been built; the trees of just having been planted. There was a town called Arras which we seemed to have heard of and which had evidently only now come into the world and there were villages called Peronne and Bapaume which looked as if they had been transported from one of the newer districts of Australia with fresh painted buildings and everything obviously newly risen from the wilderness. Now and then there were signs that at
one time or another some persons unknown had amused themselves digging a broad gutter around these parts and sowing a little barbed wire in front of it. But, in the main, the land was ploughed and smooth, with clean, neat cottages and barns and lately planted trees and highways which had had no time to rid themselves of a mire of constructive dust.
     Occasionally, an ordered cemetery lay white on a hill-
17

side, or a ruined church spire pierced the distance against the cold sky of the north. Night fell upon us suddenly,
smeared ahead with lights that were Laon, and it grew so cold that we wrapped our scarves high above the collars of our leather coats and sealed the car against the wind, as we pushed on for Rheims. At half-past ten we found it, dark, silent, but with a welcoming glow in the windows of the Hotel Splendide.
     We were all in high spirits-so high that there was quite a competition for Room Number I3 which in the end fell to my lot-a chamber so warm and sleep-producing with its great bed and coverlet of goose-feathers that the garcon commanded to wake me at 4.30 a.m. thought I was a fit subject for the undertaker when he, came with steaming coffee and rolls.
     He seemed quite disappointed about it. "I thought the monsieur was dead," said he. "But no! Nothing ever happens here now. Once every one here was dead. Ah, the good old war!"
     He went out, sighing, to clean boots.

3
     All day the smooth road swept under us, mile on mile of monotony broken by wet and winding village streets full of pigs and cows and straw and waggons and peasant women trudging homewards from the market-towns. Our only trouble was with the car itself which protested in several small ways at being taken from her homeland. Once her carburation went hopelessly wrong; and once a short circuit, which set up a smouldering behind the driving seat within a couple of feet of eight gallons of petrol, ended in a pell-mell rescue scene, Knowles working like a madman to throw obscuring goods from the seat of the fire and Birtles and I using our united strength to pry loose the Pyrenes from the brackets into which the genius who had fitted them had jambed them so that they held like part of the frame.
18

     We bought petrol in Chalons from a red-cheeked girl. The great, bald, war-stripped hills of the Argonne swooped into view. We ran through dusty, bare Verdun not yet quite rebuilt and began climbing into the hills and the snow and those regions where the keepers of estaminets, rescued from the Hun in Alsace-Lorraine, preferred to speak German to French because it had been their native language for fifty years. We became lost in the intricacies of Metz and at dusk crossed the Rhine at Strasburg straight into the arms of a large, green uniformed customs officer with the air of a commissaire.
     "You must unload everything from your car," said the customs officer.
     "Nothing of the sort," said I. "I have a customs carnet."
     "I cannot help that," muttered the commissaire. "It is forbidden that motor-cars should pass the border without examination."
     We argued it out. I went to the customs office to find the commissaire's superior, leaving him to argue with Francis and Knowles, neither of whom had one word of German to conduct their side of the disturbance.
     The inside atmosphere proved more hopeful.
     "The man is a fool," said the Superior Officer, what time he dexterously examined two pounds of sausages
and a dead turkey which a lady had bought in Strasburg across the bridge and was submitting for examination.
"Welcome to Kehl. (Yes, good mother. You may go. I have a good mind to take that turkey, it is so fat.) I will stamp your papers at once. (Tobacco, Willi? Why don't you buy your tobacco in Germany? Is the Kehl tobacco yet not so good that you must buy the French?} You are free forthwith, sir."
     I offered a tip. He drew himself up. .
     "You are in Germany now," he said stiffly. "This is not one of those Latin countries. Here, as in England, you must not tip customs officers. It is forbidden !"
I9


     I found the commissaire and a voluntary interpreter who had nearly nine words of English to his name still debating with the party.
     "Happy mealtime!" they cried as we drove down the street to bed and Schnitzel 21 la Holstein.
4
     Came a dead slumber changing into all the cold in the world upon finger-tips left outside the coverlet. Came morning and a very German street with high, sloping eaves and precise policemen and hay-waggons and contented-looking waggoners and a population trudging steadily and soberly to work at an hour which would make our Australian workmen think they had stepped back into the Middle Ages. That was Germany. We soon grew accustomed to seeing people going to work in the dawn and the astonishing thing about it was that they all seemed so happy.
     You stayed in a town and the approach of daylight brought the muffled patter of artisans' feet; or, if you did not hear them, you looked out of the window and saw shuHiing figures bowed before the snowy blast. And in the evening, you met them again in the early dark plodding home, to see them even later, sometimes, come trampling into the village inn with knitting or toys to be painted or some other labour to be done. You would nod to them and they would nod to you and all their fellows would begin to sing, till presently the inn became a very factory, full of the clicking of needles and rafter-shaking choruses, every table shining with the golden glow of beer in tall glasses or fantastic with steins. No
wonder that the mark has become stable in Germany and prices are below London prices, everywhere. No wonder that the workmen has his beer for a penny less than the Englishman and a roll of bread and sometimes a bit of cheese with it for discount.
     The German workman, having fought and lost, has
20

worked for his comfort and, hate as you may his country's past and suspect it as you must of bolstering up Russia, you cannot but admire the cheerfulness with which its inhabitants suffer their long hours in a bitter winter climate and the carnival spirit, so different from the sour complainings of the provincial French, with which they have met their troubles.
     Moreover, it was strange to find that, where in Northern France at that time a Briton was suspect as a tentacle of the world octopus-Albion, whose uncharity towards her allies and self-seeking greed had supposedly caused the collapse of the franc--to call yourself English in Germany was to be treated as a friend. Curiously enough, the British and the German attitudes to each other had much in common. The ordinary, simple people in both countries seemed only too willing to forgive, if not to forget. The French, perhaps naturally- one cannot judge them----have wiped the word "forgive" out of their dictionaries where the Germans are concerned. To an Australian, the Gallic attitude seemed the extreme of bitterness and the British and German rank and file attitudes rather the other extreme.
     However, there was nothing but kindness for us in the ex-enemy countries and we were not long in Germany
before we needed it. For here we came upon the edge of the snowfall.

the Scrap Iron searching for it in the rut which they had left.
     After three hours' struggle we gave up hope of moving and sat down to hot coffee and plans. There was room for one man to sleep comfortably in the car, and I resolved that Knowles, being the smallest, should be that one, more especially as it gave me a chance to judge him in vicissitude. Francis I took with me to the nearest village, intending that early morning should see us on our way back with shovels and aid to move us out of the drift into which the car had sunk to the floor boards by the time we left her.
     As we went, I looked back to see her, a dark blot on a white field from which there followed us down the trail the discordant voice of the watchman:
O, we'1I be in luck when we meet Von Kluck
And all his flaming Army!
     Even marooned in Bavaria at the mercy of the Hun, Captain Billy had not forgotten that he was in the first armies of Flanders.

CHAPTER III
FROM
GERMANY TO MOHACS FIELD
                                                                                1
   THAT was an eventful night. Snow began to fall as we slid and slithered and staggered into Bohringen which was frosted like a cake and shining with indescribably unwinking lights. The drift was so deep that the patter of our soles was smothered in an uncanny silence which hung over the deserted streets. One heard the uneasy shuflfing of beasts within on their straw and girlish laughter and the clink of steins; now and again a dog's growling-in fact all the ordinary vocalization of life. But nothing moved outside except the flakes drifting down about us and the blue smoke of the chimneys staggering uncertainly into the high, grey
night.
     I chose a Gasthaus, with its strangely lettered front, now a mere silhouette of high gables, and rang the bell which echoed and pealed till the last notes might well have struck the ramparts of the Pyrenees. After an interval, which well served to keep the illusion of the sound's great range, footfalls came creeping down the passage and the door opened with a great clanging of bolts and bars. The human engine which achieved its opening was a fat man with a blue knitted waistcoat, knee breeches and a
shawl round his neck.
     Two beds? said he. No; there were not two beds. There was a ski-ing party there and not even one bed to spare. No; we could not sleep in the passage or in the
24

tap-room. There was nothing to eat. There was no beer because all the steins were in use.
     He had the impudence to shout as he shut the great portal: "Schlafen Sie wohl!" Then he opened it again a trifle to call: "Try the 'Golden Bullock, " After which, he finally sealed us into outer darkness with much grunting and clanging of chains.
     We tried the "Golden Bullock," but it was without the milk of human kindness. The snow fell thicker. A sleigh, a-jingle with bells, came up the street behind a mist-blowing horse, and its bowed driver in his bearskin and cape looked just like old St. Nicholas. I hailed him.
     "Try Frau Lamb's," he advised.
     Frau Lamb's was a humbler inn than the rest. The air was warm in its doorway from the breath of many cattle stalled inside, and very evidently the family pig was having trouble with his bedfellows, the chickens. Incongruously adjacent to the bickering animals somebody with a loud voice was proclaiming musically that who loved not woman, wine and song he was a fool his
whole life long.
     "And," he added, after enjoining all and sundry within to join in the chorus, "fools we are not no-ho-no. No fools we are not no-o-o-ol"
     Obviously, the byre and the tap-room almost adjoined.
     An elderly, plain woman neatly dressed came to the door and in a minute we had been transported 13,000 miles. If somebody had said: "To-morrow you will turn over in the dark of your room and find yourself in the Rosewood Range in Queensland, and hear the Brisbane goods train roaring through in the dark and the first German waggons trundling down the hill," I should have believed and replied: "Yes! presently the sun will rise over Perry's Nob and I shall look down on the chessboard of the Lowood Valley and the roofs of Kirchheim where all the Germans made a community years ago and bred many sons who are now Australians and
25



fought cheerfully against the German land which they had never seen for the integrity and continuance of their own new country."
     These peasantry were very much the type of their emigrant confreres- the bearded father, the poorly clad farm children, the neat housewife. The only person out of place in the scene was the vocalist who looked like the village constable and who, between many songs, cheered us with the glad news that he was not going home any more; no, he was never going home but he
was going to have another drink. Which he did- several of them.
     They brought us steaming soup and dark bread and cheese and beer and a molten tot of brandy, while I told our adventures and we were led to two immense beds in a story above where the night was full of the warm scent of kine. Dimly through a frosted pane we saw the ceaseless, white driving of the snow. It made you feel mean in your blankets to think of poor Knowles marooned out in the car. Drowsy with food and drink I made a firm resolution that at the earliest streak of daylight, I would take three strong men and a shovel and dig him out.
     A shovel? What was the German for shovel? I had forgotten.
     The knowledge of this unimportant gap in my power of expression sat down on me like a ton load and I fell asleep to dream an awful nightmare in which the bearded host of the "White Lamb" stood in front of a mountain of the most hopeless bits of ironmongery while I, impotent and futile, raved in front of him shrieking "Not that! Not that!"
     In the morning I said to him:
     "Can you find me something to remove the snow from round my car?"
     "Ah, yes," said he, "ein Schauffel."
     Even Francis understood it.
26

     Then said the host, when he had fed us with hot rolls and coffee and fat bacon:
     "One shovel will not be enough. You must take my two sons to dig you out. You will need them."
     Whereupon, with these sturdy young men leading, we strode away to reach the car. One of the young men said he knew a short cut across the fields. It meant climbing over some hills, he said, but that did not matter. After half a mile, we, and especially I, who had a broken rib well shored up, most heartily disagreed with him. Sometimes, the drifts were deep above one's knees.
Occasionally, you rolled down a bank and then, again, you might find yourself on a hard slide with a mere veil of slippery powder on top. All the soft snow was crusted and, when you sank through it, the icicles got into your shoes and your feet were wet through and the perspiration poured off you with every dragging step, for the sun was beating down on the snowfield with a tropical heat. Before long, we were all resting every few yards and our pace slowed down to a mile an hour, Francis Birtles at his most profane, two hundred yards in the rear, but in no danger of getting lost because of his indignantly noisy expressiveness.

                                                                        2
     An hour of this saw us scrambling up the hill-side where the car had been the night before. Now, there was no Knowles. There was no car. There was no evidence whatever of her having moved. If she had moved, I judged that she would have had to come down the hill, for I was perfectly sure that she could not have got out of the mess going forward under her own power.
There was no doubt about her having been there. She had not fallen into a twelve-foot drift at the roadside, as anxious probing proved. All that remained of her apparently was a hole in the ice where we had let the water out of her radiator the night before and which was
27

revealed after we had shovelled away the snow on the roadway in a search for clues.
     While we were engaged intently on this task we were warned by a feminine shriek and a very fair not to say fat damsel arrived among us seemingly out of the air on skis. She pulled herself up in sixty or seventy feet and came back to us.
     "Has the well-born lady seen a lost gentleman with a motor-car?" I asked.
     No; the well-born lady had not. She had been there since seven o'clock in the morning and she said slangily that never a gentleman had she seen except her uncle who was down the road. She opined that possibly the gentleman had eloped or that the devil had got him.
     As for Uncle, speaking in very fast German, as one upon his trial for having abducted our lost outfit, he swore not only that he had not seen a waggon-so they speak of motor-cars in Germany-but that there could never have been a waggon because he would have seen it or its chainmarks if there had been.
     With bowed heads we tramped back to Bohringen- this time along the road-and half-way there, came upon chain tracks on a piece of hard snow. We tracked them to the door of the "White Lamb," comforting ourselves with visions of Knowles sitting in the Speisesaal of that jolly hostelry, singing about von Kluck and the country's late Emperor in the most disrespectful terms. The
"White Lamb" had not seen him.
     The plot thickened. We telephoned Zainingen and Urach and other towns and consulted the police. Eventually we consulted Drottingen. It appeared that there was a strange gentleman at that salubrious village with a motor-car. He was at the inn and at that stage thetelephone gave out.
     All Bohringen, which had taken us to its bosom, came out to see us leave, for our good hostess insisted that she would have us driven over in her own sleigh under a
28

bearskin rug and not one penny would she take for her trouble or her husband or any of her big, shy, agricultural sons who, save for the one driving us, stood in a stiff and respectful row and bowed so that one could almost hear them creak as we swung down the street with all our bells sweetly pealing.

who understood English and savages only fit to be addressed in pidgin-English. It had its convenient side, for nobody ever answered him back.
     I had barely reached the shed when there were shouts of welcome outside and much laughter, which indicated that our wanderer had returned. He had gone to Zainingen, thinking it to be Bohringen, in a futile search for us, and he was as merry as a cricket. So far had he won the hearts of Drottingen that wherever he went a crowd followed him as if he had been the Pied Piper, and without a word of German he kept them laughing all the time.
     He had small boys pumping up our full balloon tyres in shifts. He had other small boys breaking the ice off the undergear and boiling water for us in the kitchen, and he and I kept up a fire of badinage and were in high spirits when the policeman arrived. The policeman was very evidently suffering from a very sore head, but we
31

soon had him in a proper frame of mind helping with the rest. By four o'clock in the afternoon we were ready to leave. I fought the war over again with the Prussian host and, so to speak, reduced our indemnity to him for bullocks and beer
by half, to his intense annoyance, and, amid "Hochs" and "Lucky ]ourneys" and much rude village wit, we slipped out in the gathering gloom of the                               
"To I7` gallons of mild and bitter . . ................. 23 marks
                                To umpteen bullocks and seven men . . ............30 marks
                                                                         Please charge to reparations.
                                                                     "ERIC WALTER KNOWLES."
     So that was that. It was very evident that our companion was a man of resource and grit. But where was he? I asked the crowd at large.
     "He hass yet valking gone to Hohenzollern," said a voice in broken English on the outskirts.
     "To Hohenzollern?" Hohenzollern was only a few miles away.
     "Yess. He say he go Hohenzollern."
     And that was all we could get. Francis was already at work in the cowshed adjusting the clutch, with an admiring crowd round him. His feet were in the air and he was holding a monologue in Australian blackfellow pidgin-English, having already solved all his language difficulties by an instinctive division of the peoples of the world into two cIasses-those afternoon on our way to Ulm.

                                                                                     4
     At eight o'clock we were housed across the Danube in a great, brick hotel whereof the dining-room was given
over to the revels of a Narrenfext (Fool's Masquerade). The famous Charles Chaplin has nothing on a Schwabian
Narr. He wears a round, felt, black hat and a false nose with a few artificial warts indiscreetly plastered over a leering and inoffensively drunken greasepaint countenance. His badge of foolhood is a raw potato on a stick and he appears to have free licence to be funny at everybody's expense. Generally, he seemed to be an attractively innocent rustic, with hollow legs, designed to hold unlimited refreshment, and the evening in his ribald company, not to mention the company of lashings of good food, was a pleasant ending to a hard, cold day.
     In the morning the brakes were frozen on every car in the hotel garage; our oil was frozen in its tins. The Danube outside was a sheet of ice. The engine was stone cold, and though we struggled nearly the whole morning through, we might as well have been trying to revive a corpse for all the good we achieved. At length I set out to buy kerosene for priming, an operation rendered difficult by the fact that the names of all oil fuels vary so much round the world that you are never sure what the local name may be. Petrol in England is benzine so soon as you cross the Channel. Kerosene in
Australia is paraffin in England. Paraffin in England, it appeared, after several attempts at explanation, was
32
petroleum in Ulm, that ancient town where the city council has so clean a record that it is able to immortalize its civic deeds (nicely coloured with aldermanic conceit) on the outer walls of its Town Hall.
     It was an attractive old city full of mediaeval towers and modern beershops clustered round the tallest church spire in the world, yet unable to provide the poor motorist with an efficient tyre pump, though he called the police to his aid to search for one.
     After lunch-time, with the help of priming and a benzine blow-lamp to warm the engine and much hard work with combined starting-handle and self-starter, we were on the road; we were in Augsburg with its towers; we were in many wet villages full of geese and the smell of mingled hay and beer and, finally, in a hotel in Munich.
     Knowles and I went to see Munich that evening.
     Said I to him:
     "We had better take the name of our hotel."
     "I have it," said Knowles.
     "Good man," said I.
     We went to several beer halls. We had dunkles Brau and helles Brau, impartially. At ten o'clock we started for home.
     After we had gone some distance, Knowles said suddenly:
     "Look here, old man, am I drunk?"
     "Not more than usual. Why?"
     "Well, we've passed half a dozen hotels and they are certainly none of them the one we are staying at, but they all appear to have the same name as our own. I can't make it out."
     "What is the name?"
     "Why, Hotel Eingang. I wrote it down most carefully in my notebook. What's the matter with you?" '
     " 'Hotel Eingang' is German for 'Hotel Entrance.'"
     Fortunately, German beer is not very strong and the ways of Munich are not more than ordinarily devious.
33

cross-examined me as to my ancestry, means of livelihood and other matters of moment in the presence of two
enormous soldiers in cock
's feathered hats whose fixed bayonets were impressive. The party was just considering an expedition to rescue me from the Hungarians when I was ordered to proceed to
     (5) the Hungarian Customs Office, which finally bade me go, after another inquisition and a ceremonial use of rubber stamps.
     We drove on in the dusk and as fast as a troublesome carburettor would allow us; slept in Gyor; whirled into Budapest, that majestic double city on the Danube, home of lovely women and picturesque policemen and a delightful system of tolls; dashed off again on the best piece of road we had seen since leaving England and, lo, in the dark of our ninth day out from London, limped into Mohacs near the jugo-Slavian border with our first puncture from a horseshoe nail and our radiator
leaking because its builders had given it only a single shell which had already pounded itself into holes on its brackets. A single-shell radiator is all very well for the billiard-table roads of England; on any track with a few bumps in it its life is apt to be short.
     Mohacs! What a town! Four hundred years ago a war was lost on Mohacs field, and the man who won it seemed to be still parading down the long, windblown street which ended on the flat banks of the Danube. He was wearing a cowhide coat with the hair inside and the parchment of the exposed hide delicately painted with flowers. This impressive cloak was set off with an enormous, curved cavalry sabre and moustachios which might well have come out of the "Bab Ballads." It proved only to be the local constable, who, majestic in the evening, was doubly so in the morning with a heavily armed companion, as he paraded among the market women in their Macedonian costumes of queer short skirts and amazingly coloured stockings. It was
35
quite a sight to see these latter clamber down from waggons drawn by smart-stepping horses and driven by pleasant-faced Hungarian Cossacks in black lamb's-wool caps and long hide coats as much beflowered as those of the policemen.

                                                                        2
     The street presented a busy scene, full of colour and the rattle of {ine harness and the clop-clop-clop of hooves on cold paving, but it was nothing in animation to some of the scenes in which we ourselves shared that day. At dawn the maid of all work flung open my door and asked agitatedly for our passports. Our after-dark arrival had led me to leave them locked in their compartment in the car, so I merely yawned and said:
     "Oh, they're in the automobile. I'll get them later. What time's breakfast?"
     I solemnly went to sleep again. In ten minutes entered the manager. He dug me in the ribs.
     "Reisepassel"
     "Go to Booligal! I'll get them after breakfast."
     I rolled over once more, mine host regarding me sadly. I had just dozed when Knowles put his uncouth head round the door, approached me reverently, drew himself up, clicked his heels and announced in a voice which he conceived suitable to impress the Balkan population:
     "Sir, the Hungarian Army has arrived. Cavalry in massed formation in the passage."
     Outside, I heard the voice of Francis saying, in black-fellow pidgin: "Oh, he plenty big mob good feller sword, eh?" Then, a sabre clanked on the boards in a stony silence.
     Two booted and sabred policemen came in. The flowers on their cloaks looked more magenta than the night before and they twirled their moustaches with unconscious ferocity. Through the half-open doorway
36
I beheld the landlord, his maid and a fellow-lodger who was arrayed in sheepskins and a black felt hat, all gathered to enjoy the slaughter, so that it was somewhat of an anti-climax when the bigger of the police, a hairy fellow with the manner of a full member of the Royal Institute of Chartered Assassins, bowed low and asked in the squeakiest voice that ever issued from the mouth of a big man:
     "Would the Herr be so kind as to show us his pass-port?"
     I groaned.
     "But it is early yet? Will not after breakfast do?"
     "Early! Why, the sun is up half an hour!"
     Obviously, we were in hard-working Europe, not in our own lazy land, so I crawled out of bed and gathered our papers together, whereupon it became plain why the police had begun their day at dawn. They wanted plenty of daylight ahead in which to deal with me. At last we had permission to go to the border post.
     It only remained to pay the bill and do a little purchasing of necessaries. Buying goods is a splendid exercise for the mentality in Mohacs, the currency being in a state of flux. In the old coinage which is current, I2, 500 koronas equal one old pengo and 100 koronas of the new coinage equal one new pengo. So that when you go into a shop and the lady in charge says magnificently: "That will be 263,478 koronas" and you are armed with jugo-Slavian money, which is, alas, good tender in border towns and which you have bought in Budapest with new pengos, so many to the dinar, you need a wet towel and a table of logarithms to complete the deal. Also, if the lady is excitable, a crowd is apt to collect.

bayonet) took us to Monastir and handed me over to a Major-General in blue with red stripes and facings.
     We had a pleasant and intimate chat about my past- so satisfactory that he evidently felt I ought to be introduced to his friends. Wherefore, he led me across the yard to another Major-General in khaki. Between them they produced a large book of regulations and engaged in what seemed to be an equity session, what time a third high ofiicer hung seals all over the car and then stood in the sun picking his teeth and seemingly meditating whether it would not be a good idea also to hang lead discs on Knowles and Birtles.
     Presently a bright idea struck him and he came inside bringing with him two Colonels and a Brigadier, who all asked me questions in loud voices. This took time,but eventually they went back to the big, black book like crows to a corpse.
     "How much money have you got?" asked the loudest of them.
     I had about seven pounds sterling in dinars and I indiscreetly said so.
     TheGeneral Staff immediately drew a long breath. The air rang with the German equivalents for: "For the stamp, sixty dinars," "Give seventy-five dinars to the soldier," "My duty is ninety dinars," and when I recovered from the financial blows of the next twenty minutes, I found myself with the following negotiable. wealth:
                   Cooks' cheques uncashable before Belgrade,'16o miles away.
                   4.000 Hungarian koronas, old style, worth about twopence.
                   1 French franc.
                   3 modern pengos.
                   2 1/2d. sterling.
                   3 tokens from a London club worth eighteen-pence.
                   4. Austrian postage stamps.
                   9d. in Jugo-Slavian money.
39
     I left hastily lest a Field Marshal, who had arrived late and had missed the earlier distribution of spoils, should discover the ninepence worth of dinars.  Several hours afterwards a toll official found it, and when he refused to allow us to enter his township without paying, I handed him the whole of our coin and paper with the most magnanimous gesture I could invent and drove on while he was still in a state of coma.
                                                                                          4.

     None of us who suffered it are ever likely to forget our first day and night in Jugo-Slavia. All the country hereabouts is long, alluvial plains stretching down to the Danube and the Save. They are bleak and open with little timber on them, and for cold I have never met anything to match them. The Wind whistled through our leather coats and heavy woollen clothes as
if they had been so much cheesecloth. The earth road which a few days before had been a slough cut up by waggon tracks had frozen hard into the vilest kind of "devil devil" country. It was exactly like driving over a field of stalagmites.
     At sundown the wind dropped; the air seemed to become stifling and freezing at once. One had all the sensations of being enclosed in block ice.
      With my cracked rib and a dose of malaria I was fast becoming thoroughly ill, and our troubles grew when the radiator began to leak in a stream and at the same time to boil with cold and altitude. Every half-hour we were compelled to patch up some fresh hole with white lead and at the wretched villages every three or four miles we had to refill with water.
     I had no desire to camp in any of the. villages because we had been warned that they were full of influenza and death. Furthermore, to stop meant to have to start a frozen engine in the morning since there were no garages anywhere. By eight o'clock I shad been reduced to a
40

shivering  heap by the malaria, but I decided that we must  push straight on to Belgrade. So, wrapping myself up in blankets in the rear of the car, I left the other unfortunates to do the hard work while I read the map and asked the way and vomited whenever I felt inclined.
     We had none of us seen such bleak and dreary country - the frozen plains, the dark oak groves, the puddles that had become solid ice and early in the evening in ill-lighted streets, low taverns where the inhabitants, once subjects of Austria, sang fierce German songs of rebellion against the Serbian domination. We felt sorry for these poor wretches till a few of them had put us on wrong tracks, and at 3a.m., with both Birtles and Knowles exhausted and our lights reduced to a dim flicker, I was forced to give the order to camp on the banks of the Danube, where we lay, the three of us huddled together
with chattering teeth, until the morning, too frozen and aching to move and too cold to sleep.
     At dawn we rose and I made a fire from sodden oak branches. When the mist had dissipated itself, a strange scene met our eyes. We might well have imagined that we had stepped into some story from Grimm's Fairy Tales.
     To our right lay a marshy backwater of the Danube solidly frozen over. To the left a dark forest of great oaks free of undergrowth; in the distance a white village from which herdsmen garbed in the painted hide coats and strapped gaiters of the district already came loitering behind their herds of pigs, which they were taking out to grub and eat acorns in the forest.
     Now and then a rattling waggon went by with fine horses blowing steam and the driver's family wrapped in furs on clean straw behind the driving seat, presumably bound for early church.
     When we had broken the ice of the  Danube with a four-pound hammer and scooped out enough of the

41

pig filth underneath to make some foul coffee, I stopped four wayfarers and asked the way to Belgrade. Each had a different story, and I soon came to the conclusion that, though these simple folk were living within less than forty miles of the capital, few of them had everbeen there.
     We settled down to thaw the radiator which had frozen so quickly the night before that, even with its many leaks, we had been unable to drain it and had barely begun when we had a hail in the American language. It came from a large and villainous looking Pittsburg "Wop" who had returned to his native heath. He declared that he knew the way to Belgrade very well; that it lay through the village and that he would wait there and direct us. He then gave us some directions which I felt would lead us straight away from Belgrade unless, in the darkness, I had lost all sense of the lie of the land the night before. (The sun, of course, was not visible.)
     I gave him time to reach the village and then followed him cautiously. The road was virtually made up of jagged pieces of frozen mud, and with my civilized, shoes I slipped and slithered all over the place, while my heels, stripped bare of skin by the walk in the snow at Bohringen, were soon bleeding. Several times I had nasty falls until I secured a staff to steady myself.
     All along the road the swineherds were blowing their pipes to their long-snouted pigs which all seemed to grow wool on their backs like merino sheep. A. covering of some sort was undoubtedly necessary, for when I left thecar the temperature was 4 degrees above zero, Fahr.
     The village was mediaeval. It had no written shop signs. Its people stared as if I were a being from another world and, when I spoke to them, bowed to the ground. I passed through it about three miles, exploring the track which our "Wop" had said would take us to Belgrade. It very obviously ended at a deserted hut
42

on the bank of the Danube, in a black grove of trees which the most fastidious brigand in the world would have considered a delectable spot fashioned by nature to stage a bloody murder.
     I struggled back to camp and found the other two almost in despair about starting the engine. Not only had the water frozen in the radiator leak, but the pump was solid; the oil was solid. The only flowing liquid we owned was benzine.
     We took the radiator off. Very tenderly, we thawed both water container and pump and made another temporary repair of the radiator bottom. When that was accomplished, what with the unaccustomed and breathtaking cold, the rare atmosphere and the long night's struggle, we were almost exhausted, so I called a halt at noon and ordered complete rest for everybody until three o'clock, meanwhile serving out bully beef and rum.
     Rest, however, proved almost impossible, for every little while peasants strolled to the car full of questions which
nobody understood. Occasionally when they were comprehensible their subsequent debates were interesting. Two of them nearly had a fight as to whether London was or was not the capital of America, and when another, undercover of a screen of curious friends, had piled our copper hammer, a bottle of rum, my fur gloves and two wrenches in a neat heap in his waggon, I caused great astonishment in the land by protesting.
     By the time the radiator was mended as well as seemed feasible it was half-past three and we were all tired out again. Just then a person with the countenance of a Sicilian bandit fell on us out of the blue with an armful of firewood with which he proceeded to feed our sodden fire. It was good, dry wood and Francis, at any rate, was delighted. His views all day had varied every few minutes from thinking the blackest villainy of the whole population, to a profound belief in their good
intentions. Francis was not accustomed to the cunning
43

     Put hot coals round pump.
     Bake spark plugs and surround with hot coals after freeing the engine as much as possible with kerosene priming.
     Sprinkle plenty of hot ash on engine head.
     Fill carburettor with warm benzine and choke with benzine. bandage.
     Fill radiator with water near boiling point.
     Swing cranking-handle and self-starter in shifts for about an hour and a half and,if nothing blows up or catches fire in the meantime - you may be rewarded in the end by the cheerful sound of the engine ticking over.
     When this happened we forgot our tiredness and as, with the aid of a compass and the imminent sunset, Ihad determined which road was most likely to lead to Belgrade and with a map measurer that the distance was about thirty miles, I decided to make for there or Zemun (Semlin), the sister city on our side of the Save, at once. At sundown the temperature was 1° above zero.  Our radiator was leaking so badly that it virtually refused to hold water at all, but we covered the distance in 4 1/2 hours with seventeen fills of  water in thirty-one miles. Filling up was an unpleasant task because the ice had to be broken or thawed. Then one's gloves became wet and froze hard on the outside. But, if you
lost patience and took them off, the result was frozen fingers and your skinburnt with the cold of the metal.
     We came into Zemun tired to the bone. Knowles had gone lame with chilblains, Birtles, unaccustomed to cold, and fresh from the tropics, seemed utterly worn out, and I myself was not sorry to repack my bandages and be rid of the pile of heavy coats and other insulation which, while necessary to ward out the cold, proved an exhausting burden when there was any labour to be performed. ,
45


                                                                           CHAPTER V
                                                      TRAGEDY AND COMEDY IN THE BALKANS
                                                                                    I
     THE Balkans are supposed to be made up of amusing states whose principal uses in the great world are to provide plots for musical comedies and interim employment for war correspondents who, for the moment, lack major tasks.
     Both these things are partly true and might be wholly true if it were not for the tragedy of everyday Balkan life. There is more human trouble in Zemune or Belgrade or Sofia or any little village between than one sees in a twelvemonth of an Australian city, but the tragedy seems so mixed with unconscious comedy that, to the stranger, it itself becomes almost comic.
     Down the river from Zemun runs, or rather crawls, a steam ferry which would be promptly excommunicated if it attempted to ply in Sydney Harbour or Port Philip. The Save is a broad, muddy stream, swift flowing to meet the Danube, which it joins nearby, between desolate banks, low to the north and gradually climbing on the south from the littered flood-mark to the eminence which is crowned by the capital.
     This height is guarded, as you see it first, by a frowning bastion pitmarked with Austrian shells. Meanwhile, the band on the ferry plays squeakily; the icepacks lift and wag their heads as if they were animate as the ship passes them; a section of soft bank falls into the river with a plop. All around you are gentlemen with
46

black hats and ofiicers in brilliant uniforms, and girls whose ankles are hidden in muffs and overshoes and a
shining galaxy, of other Jugo-Slavians.
    Here, for instance, in the first-class cabin, is somebody in naval rig. He has a gold-braided cap, a blue coat reaching his calves, as large sword, very much polished boots and wherever there is room for it, he has a variegation of gold lace. Your eye wanders to his arm which shows that, by British standards, he must be a Rear-Admiral. Your memory wanders to Brassey, which indicates that Jugo-Slavia owns two old Austrian ironclads, twelve small torpedo boats (once Austrian)
and a fearsome monitor of as much as 440 tons displacement. When you realize that, these are only used for police purposes under the Peace Treaty which allowed them to be acquired, you admit that it needs a little gold braid to make, up for the country's other maritime deficiencies. Also you feel that it is rather mean of the ferry captain to take advantage of the fact that he is in possession of a real ship, to lord it over the nine co-equals of the Rear-Admiral who, plus two Admirals of the Blue, one First Lord and six other people who cannot boast-a more than four sleeve bands apiece, form the Naval Passenger Complement of the ferry.
     Very evidently, the ferry captain has not thought of this. He is quite as well tailored as the armed marine, and something - probably the enormity of the fare which he collects and which is nearly twopence - so exalts him that he is unable to give an order except. through a magnificent flag-lieutenant.
     That one of the Admirals in the cabin is driven to drink during the voyage, which takes about twenty minutes, is probably due to his rival's haughtiness. At any rate, he orders a slivovitza, price one penny, and, caram populo, absorbs it with a loud noise, not before he has taken from his pocket a big handkerchief which he tucks into the neck of his tunic.          
     You remember
47


with shame that at the  Imperial Conference Naval manoeuvres off Portland Bill, you saw an Admiral of the British Navy in command of the "Hood", "Repulse", "Renown", "Revenge" and some other coracles drop cigar ash down his coat while he told four Dominion Prime Ministers and a Maharajah a funny story. You shudder and are hoping that Britain will never have to fight Jugo-Slavia at sea, when there is a loud bump. Your teeth rattle; the glasses on the table rattle. The impact is so great that even the admirals seem to rattle. You wonder if you have been torpedoed, but you have merely arrived at Belgrade wharf. So soon as you are well on your feet, the master mariner in charge does it again, which is both bad for the wharf and your nerves.
                                                                               2
     You are poured out in a narrow stream, of fellow travellers with your eyes on the ground lest you trip over a stray sword. Then you climb a million steps and you are in Belgrade, which consists of a couple of main streets fairly well paved, with a rabbit warren of other streets, very badly paved and running down to the Danube with a precipitancy that must be horribly inconvenient for the intoxicated. The hotels for so small a place are brilliant. The variety of drinks, is cosmopolitan. So is the life. You may eat, in Belgrade, thefood of any country in Europe, properly cooked. While you
are doing it, an Oriental rug seller in a fez and armed with the treasures of Kidderminster or some other Asian stronghold equally convincing, importunes you. He is almost as Oriental as the ones you see in French watering places.
     Immediately he focusses your mind nationally and you realize that on this side of the Danube you have come, into the French zone. Only a few years ago the inhabitants of the other bank, where Zemun lies, were hurling shells across at this portion of the earth and howling
48


with glee every time a Serbian turned up his toes. Now the north side of the river is conquered territory. Popularly, among the great races of the earth, it is supposed to go down on its bended knees and pray for President Wilson (especially), Mr. Lloyd George (a little) and M. Clemenceau (on Sundays). Actually, like all the conquered territories which we encountered on our travels, it was sullen, and insisted on speaking German, just like the rejoicing Alsatians and Lorrainers. In Zemun, everybody spoke German, and in the villages further north, every tap-room seemed to be singing fierce songs of hate in something the tone in which the "Marseillaise" was sung during the French Revolution. Literally, that singing brought the goose-flesh out on one's skin. It was full of a horrible naked passion of anger such as we have never heard in a people in Australia and one hopes we are never likely to hear. But one had to admit thatthese people, vanquished, were paying for their part in the war. Serbia's absorption of them into a "comity of sister nations" had produced a family in which the north is playing the part of a very rebellious Cinderella.
     Old Serbia is flourishing, with new towns, new factories, new uniforms everywhere. New Serbia is oppressed, poor, stripped, it appears, to help pay for the south's blossoming.
     Ergo, when you cross the Danube or the Save you pass out of the region where German is the fashionable language and enter that in which everything is modelled on France. Those who believe that Britain has done more for Serbia than any other nation receive a rude shock at finding that whatever oficial circles may profess to feel towards us, the British language, British merchandise, British thought are not in favour with the general populace. Even the Serbian bank notes are
modelled on French money. One hundred dinars looks so much like a hundred francs that it takes a sharp eye
49

to tell the difference at first glance. But, as a military man said to me in Belgrade, how could you expect the Serbians to model themselves on the British? Their uniforms are so dull, their five-pound notes are plain black on white paper; they are so nationally unpatriotic that they never shoot a striker, and their language! High heaven, what a tongue!

                                                                                    3
     The only thing British in Belgrade, indeed, is the rite of changing the palace Guard. That is modelled on the daily Buckingham Palace ceremony with variations. At II a.m. the eight gates of the palace are guarded by sixteen soldiers in dirty sheepskins, with dirty boots - for the effulgence of the officer class does not extend to the rank and file.
     Enters a gorgeous blue platoon with a band as big as itself. The band plays airs in the palace garden. Officers walk up and down with a Grenadier Guard step and drawn swords. Then, the Blue Guard marches round all eight gates in a blasé fashion and relieves the sheepskin guard.  The band plays some more and everybody goes home except the original sheepskins who may be found back at their old posts at 11.30 a.m., as if nothing had happened in the interval.
     On the first morning on which I observed this ceremony, I got myself into serious trouble. While I was gazing with admiration at the Royal (Sheepskin) sentry trying not to chase a fly round his face, while his relief guard was imminent, a policeman approached me and said:
     "Xwzpbl K7-§-%zxwq!" or words to that effect. But, as he had only four stripes on his sleeve and was armed with no more than a '45 automatic and a long dirk, I took very little notice of him.
     The true Balkan principle of life is to keep your eye on the man with the longest bayonet and, as the sentry
50


had that, I followed my instinct and merely moved back from the pavement's edge, which was what I thought the policeman intended me to do.
     It very evidently wasn't, for, shouting " Psbozrxsll" with some gusto, he took me by the right arm (after having discreetly unhasped the catch of his revolver pouch) and tried to lead me away.
     We then, as they say in the courts, had a conversation. I asked him in four languages what he meant and he told me in one to come along quietly. Then a cosmopolite in the crowd intervened and cheered me by remarking:
     "Sir, you yet already have committed a very great crime."
     "Will you please-very-much tell the constable that I am the Britishofficialaustralianmotorexpeditionmisterover-
commandant and that I desire forthwith his non-commissioned ofiicer to see?" I begged, with hauteur.
     The interpreter did. The constable released me and waved his arms at him. The rest of the crowd also waved its arms. Three motor-cars which, after the habit of automobiles in that cold, high city, were steaming mightily from their radiators, stopped at the edge of the footpath to watch the pantomime.
     "What's the matter?", I asked the crowd at large.
     "The policeman says," replied my German friend, "that you are assassin."
     "If so," he added cheerfully, "it is kaput (all up) with you." '
     The ofiicer arrived at this juncture, a splendid being who proved, after all, to be only a sergeant.
     "What's all this nonsense?" I demanded.
     "Take your hands out of your pockets. when you speak to me," said he.
     "Take them out yourself !" said I, trembling inwardly, for in one pocket of my leather coat I had a revolver given me by a misguided friend and in the other I had
51


the largest clasp-knife that I could acquire from Rogers of Sheffield. I cursed the giver of the revolver especially because I am always against carrying arms, and I had been merely waiting. for a deserving person to present it to.
     We wrangled. Eventually, I was marched down the street until we met a commissioned oflicer. Then the
facts came out. It appears that I was standing opposite the open gates of the palace (though on the other side of the road) and my strange garb of leathercoat and flying helmet attracted attention to me. As it was not outside the realm of practical politics that I had a Mills bomb or a jam-tin full of gelignite in each pocket,tthe policeman told me to move on, and when I did not do so, he became convinced that I was held to the spot by a zeal for Royal Bloodshed, since the King was due to emerge in a few minutes.
     It all ended in an exchange of drinks in a cafe. There is now a Serbian officer who rejoices in a .45 automatic, the gift of a British admirer. I no longer have a revolver. I was the admirer. I no longer have the deadly knife from Rogers either. A Persian near Duzdab has that. I did not, give it to him; he took it when I was not looking.
                                                                                             4
     Comic opera in Belgrade and the Balkans, however, is mainly the province of the morning. Then arrives romance when all the pretty girls come out of their offices and parade for two hours at midday, a gay and somewhat eerie scene since all the paraders wear over-shoes which mufile their footfalls. And the sleighs jog down the streets and the uniforms congregate in blinding groups in little cafes and indulge in satisfying meals such as spaghetti Napoli or three penn'orth of lettuce and olive oil or two biscuits and a quart of red wine. Motor-cars steam, hawkers, cry their wares. Taxi-cabs,
52


each driven by a prehistoric person in a goatskin or sheepskin coat, tear round with a complete disregard for human life, and in and out of this exciting traffic ride Colonels on horses and Croat families from across the river, father in spliced gaiters, black lambskin cap and beflowered hide-coat, mother and the girls sitting on the straw behind him and rising involuntarily at every cobble with the easy grace of the experienced. Each member of the family hangs on like grim death to an outraged, woolly-backed pig on the way to execution. Beside these tumbrils walk the stately hounds of the district,
half-dog, half-wolf, green-eyed and savagely evil.
     At two o'clock all this pageant fades, astonishingly. The streets seem deserted under the leaden, winter sky. A bell begins to toll. Or stay - toll is not the right word for it. The bells of the Balkans have a note of their own, a cadence different from all the other bells in the world. Just as the temple gongs of the Far East enshrine its lost mystery and the bells of York have kept imprisoned in their music the spirit of the Middle Ages, so the chimes of Belgrade have been enchanted by the wolf of the fierce mountains and steppes around them. They seem to howl with a long-drawn, wolf-like note. It is most uncanny with the grey sky pressing down and the muddy Danube rolling by, rocks of ice lazily turning
over in its waters and the snow beginning to powder the pavements.
     One church begins that uncanny mourning and then another. You see, coming up the main street, a procession with a long-bearded Greek priest leading, a swaying coffin on high, a rickety droshki or two with sleepy horses steaming at the mouth behind, and, following, again, weeping women and bowed men. You turn into a side street with a shudder to avoid it, and lo, there is another.
     On one afternoon in Belgrade while I was there, no less than seven funerals paced the streets at once; on
53


another, nine. I escaped on the second afternoon into a barber's shop and found a black flag hanging above
the doorway to indicate that a member of the family had paid toll to influenza.
     Then I crossed to Zemun, strangely depressed and asked Birtles, who prefers to make all his observations of foreign cities either in a hotel bedroom or in the local garage, to come with me and dine in the capital. He came and trailed behind the party glooming that he was lame andthat walking was not a man's work; that the food was greasy; that the waiter was dirty; that Belgrade was the last place on earth. We decided at nine o'clock to catch the last boat at 9.20 and found
that it had gone, but that there was an "owl boat" after midnight.
     We stoodfreezing on the wharf and drank in a sailors' den by turns. We were approached by a blustering confidence man and by a party of drunken youths who mistook us for Arabs. At 2 a.m. we reached our
hotel.
     "The gentlemen's hot baths are ready," said the porter. "They have been ready two hours."
     "I did not order baths for the night," said I, "I ordered them for eight to-morrow morning. See that they are prepared then."
     Being very much out of sorts, after a wretched evening, I turned on my heel. Next morning at eight there were
no baths. The door of the only bathroom was locked and several people, male and female, seemed to be
sharing it. ,
     At noon I. met a coflin coming up the stairs. The porter was behind it.
     "Gestorben ist Einer," he grinned, "Some one is dead."
     "Where?"
     "Your neighbour, sir. It is to be regretted that he neededyour bath this morning. Your other neighbour
54

died two days before you came. Your little friend (Knowles) is sleeping in his room."

                                                                                           5
     That was the atmosphere of all Jugo-Slavia in March, 1927, but in Zemun, beneath the cloak of gloom and death, ran a thread of gaiety even more grizzly. For Zemun was full of Russian  refugees. Here were faded Russian girls, just old
enough to remember the life of ease which was snatched away from them in I9I7, plunged in shame 'to provide for brokenhearted elders, only too often physically maimed by Bolshevik torture and brutality. Here was at least one famous chef keeping a restaurant in a tiny black hole off a side street and serving dishes which would make the mouth of West End London water; and most pathetic of all, the musicians - the bands, the balaika players, the dancers, mainly of a metropolitan standard of artistry, drawn of face and threadbare, making a holiday for the frequenters of greasy little beerhalls. I asked one of these small orchestras to my table at midnight at Zemun and laid out a repast for  five of them which cost me exactly nine shillings. They ate with choking, wolfish gulps, saying nothing and leaving no scrap of meat on their chicken bones. At the endof the meal, a pale girl, who said she had been playing all the evening since seven o'clock for a wage of less than one shilling, furtively gathered the crumbs which had fallen onto the table into a well-worn
handkerchief and tied them up to take away.
     She looked at me with a fierce air of challenge when I caught her doing it as much as to says: "Don't you say
anything about this to me or my pride will make me scream and you will have a scene."
     Looking at her, I decided that she might be thirty years old. She spoke English perfectly and described
a first night at Covent Garden which she had attended
55


when she was at school near Eastbourne. Her face said that she had lived through at least a million years of horror and that she had had experiences which would make her hate man, the animal, through all eternity.
     Outside, a mumbling figure in the dark offered to sell me rugs - rugs worth five hundred pounds which it had smuggled from the refugee quarter in Constantinople, which had belonged to a Royal Prince, which I could have for next to nothing if I would only call and buy. I rid myself of the apparition only at the hotel, and even when I had reached my room it was still fighting with other shadows who had been attracted by the ring of my pennies on the pavement. (It is wise to throw
your largesse to Eastern beggars in the dark; you never know what their hands are like or, if they are Russians, whether they have any hands at all.)
     We were not sorry to see the end of Jugo-Slavia. Death and cold and snow pursued us to its very gates, through Jagodina and Nish even to the hotel at Bela Palankai where, high above among the black woods of the Bela Pass, we slept our last night in the country. There we shared a dirty room among ourselves and, with a dozen hangers-on, a little bread and paprika and local brandy and a very small stove. There was a merry little sawyer in the Hotel Nazionale who spoke German and had fought near the British on the Macedonian front and he made himself our cicerone, singing the most
ferocious songs and yearning aloud for another war. His hand had been badly cut with a saw and he had no work and (like everybody else in the village) scarcely any food, but his pride insisted that he should pay his share of the drinks which were nearly a penny each and give us entertainment in the way of music.
     "Courage, mon camarade, le diable est mort," or the equivalent, was his motto. He saw us to bed with a wretched wisp of candle and in the morning had our
56

bill reduced from about five shillings to the following
charges:
                                                                                     Dinars.
          Accommodation for three gentlemen . .................. 18
          Dinner for ditto ....................................................10
          Breakfast .............................................................10
          17 drinks .............................................................17
          Garage and hot Water for radiator ..........................0
                                                                                   ____

                                                                                55 dinars

Or a little more than four shillings bed, dinner, breakfast, garage accommodation and seventeen drinks
for three guests.
     I wondered to myself whether the hotel-keeper could really make a living on that scale. But it is possible that he could. He was a frugal fellow. For instance, there was evidence in the house  that he had suffered more than one loss in his family. Yet he had not been so improvident as to throwaway the black flags which had been the outward sign of his mourning. Neither was he allowing them to lie idle in mothballs. Instead, they were acting as window curtains in his public room -- a place in which the billiard table had three legs and was a relic of a war-time officers' mess.
     At 3 a.m. I woke to see the snow gently falling and from the dark forest beyond the village came the mournful howling of the wolves.
57
                                                                    CHAPTER VI
                   THROUGH THE DRAGOMAN PASS, SOFIA, AND ITS PRACTICAL POLITICS
                                                                                  1
     AT last the Dragoman Pass was at hand. It had been a looming terror to me ever since I began to organize. Everybody in London knew all about the Dragoman. They said it was impossible of passage in winter. The Germans had found it so. The ]ugo-Slavians had proved it. It was full of rocks, deep water, grades of one in two, precipices, brigands, Bulgarians
and other major obstacles even in summer, and the three cars which we could trace as having passed through in favourable seasons had severally been hauled out of trouble with numerous bullocks.
     It was pointed out to us that in winter the difficulties would be multiplied tenfold and the brigands would be extra hungry for spoils. And the nearer we got to the Bulgarian border the more deterrent was the advice. At Serbian towns the good citizens sniffed and wondered why we were not armed to the teeth. They intimated that anybody who went to Bulgaria without a couple of machine-guns was a trifle loose in the head.  By innuendo, they let it be known that all Bulgarians drank blood with their porridge. And as, not long afterwards, a Bulgarian sentry was murdered by a Jugo-Slavian soldier at the border post at which we crossed, there is every reason to believe that feeling along the dividing
line was not exactly friendly.
58 

The only practical information which was vouchsafed us by observation as we came nearer to Bulgaria was that the further you went, the more snow there seemed to be and the more death.
     By the time we got to Pirot, the snow was a foot deep on the road and the undertakers seemed to be doing a roaring business. They were a light-hearted crowd, not given to glooming over death. In the main street they had their coffins laid out on trestles and painted in attractive colours, suitable for all ages and wages. Advertisements were propped against them illustrated with pretty pictures of citizens in graceful attitudes of dissolution and the reductions clearly marked and
strengthened with appropriate slogans which I could not read but which had a reassuring look. 
      "This size reduced to 200 dinars. Good old benzine case with copper nails. Put one aside for your little daughter on the lay-by system," one could imagine them reading and I prayed we should not need any of them.

                                                                                      2
     We pushed on to Tsaribrod and therein found. the Middle Ages. It was market morning and the street was crowded with all the life of, say, a Welsh border village of the fifteenth century. The men wore that brown homespun which you see in museums and which has been out of fashion in Western Europe for three centuries and their tailors might well have acted for the men-at-arms of the Emperor Charles V.  They eddied, shouting and joking, with their pack ponies loaded with faggots and pack bullocks loaded with grain and chickens and babies among a motley of rude wains and troubadours and loud-voiced but musical hucksters. The only thing modern was the policeman and his revolver who led us to the
Railway Station, where I paid for many stamps as usual.
     At 1.30, after further warnings about the Pass, we
59

were on the road again and soon came to the Bulgarian post, almost precipitating a Balkan war. It appeared that we had missed a ]ugo-Slavian post which we should have visited for more stamps and inadvertently come upon. Bulgarian soil.
     This greatly disturbed the Jugo-Slavian nation which had seen us transgress from a distance; so, in the person of an officer, it ventured on to Bulgarian soil and demanded our carcases. The Bulgarians said that we must not go back; that we had crossed the frontier. The Jugo-Slavian waved his arms in indignation. Finally, a  compromise was arrived at and the motor-car was officially declared to be a portion of Jugo-Slavia for the purposes of stamp sales and endorsements.
     I was sorry when this ceremony came to an end, for now we were finished with triptiques and carnets and standing arrangements between civilized nations for the untrammelled passage of each other's motor-travelling citizens, and dependent on what concessions the British Embassies had been able to secure for us. a What they had been able to arrange in Bulgaria we did not know since our intercourse was limited to a dozen words; but as a guard, a fat fellow in green, came on board, it seemed that at least we were going on, though the officer made me a long speech about the, Dragoman of which I understood next to nothing.
     Knowles was most anxious to drive the Dragoman, but I decided that my best plan was to tell Birtles nothing of its terrors and put him at the wheel. Francis was apt to turn a minor ceremony into a major one if he had been warned ahead of its imminence; but if he did not know that he was doing anything out of the common he was just as apt to take his difficulties in his stride as not.
     There were plenty of difficulties, mostly hidden under snow. 
     We slid down a long hill, dropped over a crumbling
60

our chains could not find a purchase and were often torn off with links snapped. When we stopped, as we did every hundred yards, there was great difficulty in starting again even with the weight of the party pushing behind and following up at a run to put their shoulders to the back of the car if she showed any disposition to stop. It was an exciting time. In our
bank and found ourselves suddenly on the ice of a hill stream which luckily was strong enough to hold us. Then we turned up hill in a series of narrow hairpin bends on a track which looked and felt as if it were made of slippery candle-grease.
     The tail of the car, in spite of chains. on the wheels, tried persistently to wag off this tenuous highway and send us hurtling down the track, but we came safely into the defile, a swaying, bumping, medley of men, and gear-breaking bonds, and tossing springs and clanking chains. The guard suddenly left us with an antelope-like spring. Immediately the support beneath our wheels cracked and I drew a breath of relief when I found that we had been on ice over a stream which had
been covered by snow newly slid off the mountain-side. Before the guide had recovered, his place we stopped with a horrid, sickening crash. The engine gasped and stalled; our teeth rattled; the car frame quivered.
     "Good-bye to our crank-case," I breathed hurriedly shovelling snow with both hands under the running board. It was very soft snow, but it had a hard jagged rock in the middle of it which neatly pared off the skin on the tops of two fingers. I had barely begun to curse in keeping with my injury, when the Bulgarian guard met the same obstacle and he began to keep me company in Bulgarian. I often wondered afterwards whether we said the same things.
     The running board was sitting on the rock which had hit our front axle, and, being rooted from the earth in which it had been half buried, had, luckily for us, turned over sideways instead of ripping our all too tender sump which was made of only thin material. One of our front wheels was off the ground and the running. board had acquired an upward bend in its centre.
     We jacked up the car and with much labour rolled the rock away. At once we found ourselves skating on
another stream which seemed to be the road. We did
61


a gentle minuet down this for nearly a mile; then bounced over more rocks.
     Now we began to climb, first on roads, cut along the side of precipices where a four foot skid meant death; then up broad hill-sides on which there were no tracks visible and where once, when I chanced to step off the main road, the Bulgarian caught me just in time to prevent me from disappearing into twelve feet of snow. Twice little avalanches of rocks and ice came booming down across the road ahead of us on the precipice section, so that we were not sorry to see the broader hill-sides, even though the road was hidden and only the soldier's uncanny knowledge of its bends and twists enabled us to traverse it.
     The grades were not heavy, but the surface was so slippery that even heavy coats we perspired like working bullocks,
and the frequent antics of the runners who were apt to turn double somersaults on unsuspected slides kept us merry, all except Francis, whose volley of swear words condemnatory of the Bulgarian winter, the car, ourselves, snow and his own foolishness in leaving Australia, made the mountains ring.
     We seemed to have been notime on the way before we were out of the main defile and not much more before a village leapt into sight over a hill-top.
     "Dragoman," said the guide.
     "We're through," I cried. I looked at my watch. The passage had occupied about three hours and we
were face to face with the Bulgarians from whom after our previous Balkan experience we expected neither
62

mercy nor justice, though we knew that there had been a tentative promise given in Sofia that we should be granted facilities. Still, as they had explained in Belgrade, that might well have been "one of those Oriental
promises," seeing that the Government would never expect us to reach Bulgaria in the snow.
                                                                                      3
     We drew up outside the Customs House, a two-story building with no pretensions to beauty, on a bleak, wet road from which the snow had been shovelled. The guard went into the building and for what seemed an interminable time, no human being appeared except a few curious children who chewed the fingers of their gloves and viewed us discreetly from afar.
     Then a comically good-natured head put itself out of an upper-story window and shouted in German: .
     "Who are you?"
     "My name is Ellis."
     "Welcome to our city," shouted the voice. "The proverb says: 'Even from the snow you sometimes acquire a friend.' Bulgaria is glad to see you. Come on board."
     I climbed the stairs into a bare room which, like every other oflicial room we were in in Bulgaria, reflected the poverty of the Government and a dozen young Bulgarians shook hands excitedly. That was the last of our apprehensions about Bulgaria. It did us royally from that moment onwards. Nothing was too much trouble for its ofiicials, and the more we were a nuisance, the better they seemed to like it.
     My new-found friend insisted on taking us to the railway refreshment room and buying us Bulgarian beer, which was very good, though the first three bottles served to us had to be sent back because their contents were frozen into solid globules of ice.
     We made Sofia in the dark and most unprepossessing
63

and the brightness of hue of some of the buildings, penury was the only word to describe the state of most
of the population.
     Still, it was an interesting, city. Its palace and its bands; its polyglot population; its banks where armed soldiers kept guard; its coinage which enabled one to be a millionaire not too expensively and where a day's hotel bill ran into four figures; and its methods in politics which were novel, all tended to make it different from Western Europe.
     Its politics are peculiarly attractive. The chief monument to their attractiveness in Sofia just now is the old Cathedral, which consists of a few shattered walls and some heaps of rubble half buried in snow. It appears that a couple of years after the war the Communists were seeking to obtain power in Sofia, assisted by a few Russian advisers. Electoral methods did not, of course, appeal to them, so they decided, in true Russian fashion, to murder everybody in Bulgarian politics who mattered and give themselves a clear run..
     Furthermore, with true Muscovite genius, they resolved to do this admirable deed in a single act, and the only problem which faced them was that of gathering the victims into one spot.  This was not easy.  If they bombed Parliament there was still the King and the leading capitalists and worse still the army chiefs.
     Then rose a bright fellow at the Council Chamber Table and spake somewhat thus:
     "Brothers! What we need is a jolly good funeral. People may stay awayfrom a garden party or Parliament or a review, but if we choose the right funeral, everybody worth while from Ferdinand downwards will be compelled to show his respect. They will all go to the memorial service. We get there first and plant a little gelignite.  The Bishop gives out the first hymn. We touch the button and-- up she goes. Let's organize a memorial service!"
65

     And, even so, it happened.
     A prominent Bulgarian Minister went for a walk in the dusk and was found next morning on the pavement
with his toes turned up and his abdomen full of lead. He had a fine memorial mass in the Cathedral which came to an abrupt end in its own exaltation. They swear in Bulgaria that bits of cathedral and portions of mangled mourner fell out of the sky for hundreds of yards around and a pot-pourri of 120 victims of the new credo of the Brotherhood of Man was collected with shovels and buried in a common grave.
     Also, thanks to the undeniable efficiency of the Bulgarian police, a number of disgruntled Communists went
for a shortwalk outside the city where they were tied to overhead beams with -very short ropes and left to
meditate in mid-air on the aftermaths of dynamiting.

                                                                                   5
     Wherefore, to-day, everybody in Sofia has a not unnatural horror of Communists.
     One, afternoon I was walking in public park with a resident, when I noticed curious marks on some of the
tree-trunks.
     "Oh, those!" said my cicerone carelessly. "]ust bullet marks. Within the past three years it was quite a common experience when you walked here to stroll into the middle of a Communist hunt. Why, I have seen the whole of this park lying on its stomach for dear life while the police chased the vermin with their rifles."
     "Does this often happen?"
     "Not now. The game is getting very scarce these days. There is no fun any more. By the way, have you any Communists in Australia?"
     "Lots of them."
     "Which do you do - shoot or hang them?"
     "Neither. We put them into Parliament. They are friends with State Premiers when Labour is in power.
66

They go to Moscow and come back and tell us what a fine place it is and all the newspapers publish what they
have to say and they become national characters."
     "But you do not like them?"
     "Some of us don't, but others of us live in a fools' Paradise and are ready to tolerate them."
     "You yourself have no sympathy with Communists?" asked my guide anxiously, his eye, full of purpose,
straying to a large soldier who, armed with a rifle, fifty rounds, a revolver and a sword, was tramping the park
with the air of a man looking for dirty work to do.
     "I am entirely opposed to Communism," I replied hastily.
     "Quite right, quite right," murmured the guide with, I thought, a shade of disappointment in his voice as he
took his eye of the soldier. "Let us go to the Imperial Restaurant and see the snake-girl dance. It is warmer there."
     "Tut! Tut! Tut!" he said several times, as we went. "To think that there are countries where they do not hang Communists! Tut! Tut! Tut!"
     Everybody talked of Communists. Even the gentle, courtly Spanish Ambassador who was President of the
Automobile Club and who did everything mortal man could to make our journey safe and easy, turned from the
water-colour which he was painting when I called on him, and had a mild word to say about them. And the
British Legation, where we lunched and which became father and mother to us, had not forgotten them.
     Most of the cavalry which we saw on the road to Philippopolis and down the pretty Maritza Valley, fairy green and grey, on our way to the Bulgarian - Turkish border, were said to be in training only because of Communist plotting and the possibility of internal dissension. Also, no doubt, the rifle-armed police of Tatar, Bazardjik, where we slept one night in a foul-smelling inn after supper of brown breadcrust and sour
67


wine brought by a sleepy and barefooted boy, looked so soldierlike in their equipment for the same reason.
                                                                                       6
     We did not get out of Bulgaria without trouble, for all the kindness of its people. Within a quarter of a mile of the Turkish border we became involved in a snow-drift in a cutting. It was our last during the whole journey and it seemed determined to swallow, us. It was "Old Man" snow frozen hard which melted gradually under the weight of the car allowing it to sink to the floor-boards. There seemed a chance that it would sink even further and the only means of rescue available lay in high-speed digging with our shovel, -the building of a cairn of rocks under each wheel and then gradual progression, yard by yard. 
     We traversed, by this method, 130 yards in two hours and forty minutes. On the next hill the Turkish flag fluttered in the breeze.
68
                                                                            CHAPTER VII
                                                                       WE VISIT TURKEY
                                                                                       1
      TURKEY lay a long, dank, undulating countryside  without a tree upon its surface as far as the eye could reach. There was a moderately good road into Turkey which looked exactly like the road which ran through Bulgaria. And, just over the border, all the evidence that a Turkish Government existed stable enough to erect and support a Customs House about the size of an average Australian fowl pen. Around it lounged enough customs oflicers, garbed in green uniforms much the worse for wear, round caps and untidy boots, to hold up the whole mechanized transport of the British Army. They rose in a cloud with their bayonets as we approached, smiling a butcher's sort of smile which seemed to say:
     "Ha! Here is some more meat!"
     A toothless old non-commissioned officer greeted us with a low bow and then his retinue bowed, some of them becoming tangled in their rifles. He led me to a nearby hut which he said was occupied by the "Captain"
of the frontier police.
     The "Captain" was a very pleasant fellow. He spoke ten words of French, seven of English and quite a quantity of Turkish as well as a little German. He was housed in a wretched hovel which included his ofiice, in the midst of a homely ménage of dogs, hens and children which went scurrying down the passage as we
69


came in, what time we heard him hastily donning his sword.
     We sat and looked at each other for quite a time before we made any headway, sparring for a common tongue, and in the end we arrived at a sort of armistice after which he spoke Turkish with great freedom and I spoke whatever occurred to me. Then he looked at all my papers upside-down, piled them in a neat heap and then looked at them sideways, rightways and upside-down again.
     Eventually he straightened himself suddenly, seized a pen and cried:
     'Nom?'
     We struggled for several minutes transliterating Eric Walter Knowles, Francis Birtles and Malcolm Henry Ellis into Turco- Arabic. We fought with the translation of that accursed self-description "Overlander'' with which Francis designated himself on his passport.
Then it became evident that there was something
puzzling about Francis.
     "Birtells - Francis P?" asked the Captain.
     "Oui, Francis," I replied.
     "Francis?"
     "Oui, oui! Mais certainement! Francis."
     "Ah!" breathed the Captain with the air of one who has unearthed the Gunpowder Plot. And from that moment he became most self-important. His attitude changed from one of sunny friendliness to one of concern. He summoned a sergeant and the sergeant summoned a fixed bayonet and the fixed bayonet got on to the footboards of the car with all my documents in his pocket.
     "Edirne!" (Adrianople), the Captain cried.
     The dogs barked and snarled, racing beside us. The familiar steel blue of the bayonet glinted uncomfortably
near one's eye and in a few moments the tall minarets and graceful dome of Selim's Mosque, dwarfing the
70

huddled streets beyond the poplars, told us that we were near Hadrian's city. And, wending our way among the donkeys and the porters, thrown from gendarme to gendarme, as it were, by our guide, we found ourselves forthwith taken before the Chief of Police who proved to be a large round man with a black moustache, a French too fluent for me and a not ingratiating manner.
     He opened the conversation peremptorily.
     "Well," he said, "I have heard all about you. I am ready to assist you. But first, will you explain why, a British Expedition, you have a Frenchman with you!" '
     "I am sorry, but there is no Frenchman with us."
     "But they tell me from the border you have a Frenchman," he said.
      We entered upon a polite interrogatory in French which, becoming too subtle for my capacity in that language, I asked for a British or German interpreter. I furthermore asked for the British Consul, but I was told that I would see him presently. However, the German interpreter was forthcoming. He was a Levantine, evidently very much in awe of his surroundings who bent himself double every time anybody in the room opened his mouth and he had an engaging lisp.
     He had barely begun to lisp when the Police Chief had a sudden inspiration, gave several dramatic orders as the result of which Francis appeared in custody with a look of pained curiosity on his face, along with the mud which he had accumulated during our sojourn in the Bulgarian border snow, and words on his lips such as surely no Turk had ever heard since the days of Gallipoli.
     When the Commissary addressed him in voluble French all he could do was gape, since, as he explained afterwards to an admiring audience, all the French or any other foreign language he knew consisted in the words "Donner und Blitzen" and "Kaifee" which he had learnt on the journey.
     However, his arrival and lack of knowledge of the
71

French language led to an explanation of the whole incident which lay in the fact that "Francis" was the Turkish word for Frenchman and the captain at the border - who it now transpired was really only a corporal had thought it was a
nationality, not a Christian name.
     So we had cigarettes and the interpreter had baksheesh, and we were told that we might have lunch when we had been out to the Customs House which was only two or three miles away and completed our permit
arrangements.
     On the way thither we met the British Consulate's clerk - he and the Consul were the only Britishers in the place - and he accompanied us to the Customs House, where, perched in negligent attitudes around the building, were more armed customs oflicials.

                                                                                                2
      Their chief was a smiling old gentleman who was most congratulatory at our feat in getting through from London and most apologetic that he was compelled to saddle us with another guard to Constantinople, so as to prevent the chance of our spying on the Chataldja Lines. He took the guard out into the back yard and drilled him before he brought him to us and introduced him with the jocular remark:
     "He fought against the Australians during the war. Possibly he has killed several, of them, but you must not mind that. He will make a good guide. He knows all the way."
     George, as I christened him, certainly did not look the sort who could have killed anybody, except in a dream. He was a wide, jovial, good-tempered stamp of a man. He travelled into town with us and ,stayed with the car while we went to see the Consul and afterwards, when we returned, he was dining at our expense at the hotel.
      I had not bargained for having to feed George at the
72

hotel. From what I had seen of the customs men at the station, their idea of a meal was a large piece of bread, cut very thick and crusty.  George apparently had other ideas. His rifle leant against the table beside him and he was finishing his soup, which he was imbibing gustily. He sounded just like a New Zealand geyser at work, and when he set eyes on us, he immediately gave evidence that he had drunk other things beside broth.
     "Me Gallipoli" (soup in parenthesis), he said. "Me cadet" (Oo-oo-oosh). "Yess! Australian". (suck-suck) "Take me Hindustan. Yess! He call me --- -- ~--"
     He said it with such hilarious good humour that all our hearts were won. He became one of the party and, though the next morning he brought a day's rations consisting of a black loaf, we would have willingly fed him all the way to Stamboul.
                                                                                                  3
     At the same time, he belied his reputation as a good guide. He was good only so long as the road was broad
and there was no doubt about where; it was bound. It was a well-marked road for 100 miles, but most of the way we could not travel on it for, with that delightful penchant for destruction, which affects nations around the Balkans, the Turks (or the Bulgarians) had made the road itself impassable and had even chipped the figures off the milestones so that they could not be read, beside treating all bridges to a course of disarrangement which made them a peril to the human life which passed over them.
     Therefore, while we slipped and slithered and skidded along a wet surface of grass, or ploughed through black
soil bog which was so like the black soil bog of the Australian plains that it brought tears of home-sickness to our eyes, the remains of a metalled, military highway piled high with its own ruins flowed beside us, now and then leading us into wretched villages where every hut
73


seemed to be leaking and every woman to be spinning scarlet wool outside a bleak doorway.
     Each mile or two was some ancient fountain carved, exquisitely in marble, and there were Lule Burgas and some other towns famous from the Balkan wars and dwindling, round lovely mosques, into a crumbled huddle of donkey-filled bazaars in which everybody looked hungry and discontented.
     The villages thinned as we made southwards. The bog became deeper and more greasy. The cold bit through our leather coats and in a treeless landscape. We came to Chorlu at dusk and asked our way.
     Straight on, said the villagers, through that street and keep to the road. We tried to do it. There were bridges down and in places the road stopped entirely at a wide gulch which had been blown in it. Then, even the tracks petered out into a kind of labyrinth and here our guide became thoroughly lost if not disheartened.
     Nobody could say that he had not both, courage and the power of instant decision. Every time he was asked a question he answered promptly. He led us into an oak swamp and up a high bank and on to the edge of a precipice. And we climbed a buffalo and two mountains and ran into a pack of savage dogs which very nearly succeeded in getting on board the car. Then we entered a village and a very difficult river-bed, came out on the other side under a telegraph line and back. The few cold stars wheeled and turned over our heads, but George never faltered.
     He vetoed all suggestions of sleep. He waved food aside. He sang like a lark in the gloom and when one direction brought us to a dead end, he got off the car, leant against the petrol tanks, lit a cigarette and picked out another course.
     I, meanwhile, tried to steer by compass, but it was no use. The hill tracks were too tortuous. Presently, a faint breeze came up and I fancied I smelt the sea, and
74


the very next minute we were on a mule-track looking down into a sharp Y-shaped gutter which rose on its nether side into heavy snow. There was a high bank on the left. The dip in the centre was very steep. The "get-out" made a delightful horseshoe bend and the "rough" on the right-hand side of the track was Valonia scrub oak, twenty feet below the roadway.
     I climbed out and inspected.
     "Shall I try it?" cried Francis.
     "Come on," I called. "One good skid and you'll all be in heaven!"
      Against the skyline, the car seemed to heave. I had a glimpse, above. flying snow, of an impotently waving rifle; of Knowles jarred from his seat; of the radiator face, gleaming nickel, rising towards me. Then I heard the slither of a wheel turning on nothing, while a geyser of mud and snow and reeds flew up into the air behind, followed by a medley of
curses in three languages.
     Inspection proved that the crossing, under the hard, frozen surface of earth, had no more support than piled boughs and rushes into which a stick could be pushed for yards. It was no use trying to dig out. It was hopeless to build a timber bridge underneath because there was no timber large enough. It was dangerous to remain where we were because nobody knew how weak or strong the underpinning of the crossing might be, and it was obvious that if there were a
further thaw in the morning, the softening of the surface might send us hurtling into the pit.
     It was midnight. Some very uncertain stars gave a dim light. What to be done? George seemed to think the right thing to do was sing. He sang--may Allah help him! Francis thought swearing might help and he swaggered about doing it. And, as for poor, good-tempered, ever-willing Knowles, he floundered around trying experiments and pausing forlornly after each to mutter a pious hope that all the rabbits of the Turks
75

who built that crossing might incontinently perish. When all  hope failed him he emulated George and with his comical cap awry sat on a rock and carolled "God bless the Prince of Wales."
     That seemed to do it. No sooner had he begun than there arose from the valley over the next rise, a series of the most lugubrious noises. The call of roosters vied with the mournful howling of dogs. '
     "Ha!" we all cried. "A town!"
     Forthwith, it was decided that Knowles should lead an expedition consisting of George to the village. We sent him off jocularly, adjuring him to call for help if he needed us and advising him to keep George well in front and to remember that his trousers were expedition property should he meet any dogs. He went, George rather grudgingly in the van.
     Silence for several minutes.
     The tumult of battle arose. Howls, snarls, the impact of rock on dog, the whining retreat, raised human voices.
     More silence. Presently, "God bless the Prince of Wales" came down the track and, in its wake, Knowles and George and the villagers.
     The villagers were led by their headman and they were "all got up to kill," in spite of the fact that midnight had long since struck. They wore baggy blue trousers and red sashes and  queer little turned-up hats and a variety of stockings and boots. They all talked at once and it was evident from the first that contact with them had changed George for the worse. His gay smile was gone and he had become the Government.
     He ordered the headman about like a dog and he brushed aside the village constable as if he had been a
mere local rubbishman.
     It was only when he tried to make them work that he failed. They certainly attached a wire rope to the dumb

76
 
irons and leant negligently on it. But they did not pull. Invain, Knowles cheered them with loyal songs. Even his piéze de résistance, a cheerful ballad about a festival in a harem, did not move them.
     "Nothing for it but bullocks," I said at last.
     "Huh!" said George.
     George and I had a short talk about bullocks. I said bullocks in English, Australian, French, German, Italian and Latin. I did not say it in Turkish because I did not know how. George did not know how in any of the other languages.
     Eventually it became a case of sign language.
     So we turned on the spot light and, the leader of the Imperial Cars Expedition, having placed himself coyly within its rays, went down on all fours and mooed like a cow in the snow.
    "Tch!" breathed the expectant audience. "Manda !"
     The headman made an impassioned speech lasting ten minutes. George made an impassioned speech.  It was full of things about the British Embassy and Excellencies, the customs and otherimportant matters of which I caught fleeting sentences.
     When they had both finished, all the rest of the village made an oration and at the end of it George translated pithily:
     "They say twenty lira, I say two lira. You give them five when we are pulled out."
     The bargain was struck. The village left in a body. Presently came the manda. They were little black buffalo and they looked weedy and weak. We tied them to the car.
     "Haide! Haide!" shouted the village.
     The manda seemed to take a weary breath. The steel cable  parted. We put a chain on and that parted. We put two chains and they snapped like thread. All the time the manda seemed to do nothing more than
sigh.
77
     At last, I gave it up and we all trooped to the village, which was a slough from melting snow, a queer outlandish place, every rush-thatched house surrounded by a sort of stockade in which the goats scurried. Outside, the dogs howled and snarled at us and there was a mutter of awakened children and uneasy womenfolk overhead; a glow of charcoal fires on the hearths, of ashes and the scent of new sheepskins and impregnated coffee.
     In a trice, within warm walls, we were on sleeping mats sinking into oblivion! My last consciousness was of a hawk-like, bearded face silhouetted against the red light of the charcoal in the hearth; of the bowed and weary figure of the headman, my host, hanging close to the coals.
     I was too tired even to realize that this gentle villager, who looked like a brigand and possibly was in his spare
moments, was sitting up all night because he had given me his only bedclothes. He woke me almost with the dawn, to offer me black bread and milk, the smiling face of George in the background, and the voice of Knowles behind, crying cheerily: "Now for Constantinople!"

                                                                                            5
     Constantinople is a pleasant place. It is what Sydney will be in eighteen hundred years if, in process of striding down through history, it is sacked a few dozen times and the proceeds of the sackings lies in accumulating heaps of marble across a medley of grey walls, cypress, blue water and minarets.
     To enjoy it, however, we had to get there, and when we inspected the car it seemed unlikely that we should. In the early light she looked quite derelict, lying at an angle with last night's mud and snow trampled around her and all the village shivering in the dawn and most unintelligibly discussing ways, and means.
     Presently the ways and means resolved themselves into more and more manda, more and more firmly anchored.
78

     We tried four and they sighed with rippling shoulders and achieved a sort of creak in the car and nothing more. We tried six, with four strands of wire rope which the providers had told us in England would hold ten tons, and the four ropes went off with a bang, leaving six buffaloes still sighing and unmoved.
     Then we wove more strands and collected more buffaloes and, at last, with a hollow groan of suction, old Scrap Iron rose from her grave and climbed the hill, skidding perilously near the edge of the track.
     About a hundred yards further on, she got herself bogged and kept on becoming bogged. She glued herself to the road so tightly that when we pulled her out with engine power she tore her chains to pieces. The village trailed behind and pushed and the hopeful owners of manda were not unmindful of their possible future opportunities.
     Eventually, when we escaped up a very high hill onto hard ground, the last glimpse we had of our benefactors was of a hardy procession of manda wending its way through the slough of despond which we had left behind.
     We then had only one trouble left. Where were we? George didn't know.
     "Where is Constantinople?" I demanded of him in most beautiful Turkish.
     "Ah!" said George mysteriously. "Where?"
      Holding his bayonet with the air of a man picking a horse from a list with a pin, he suddenly stabbed the horizon and said: "There!"
     We went "there." We met a shepherd and after apparently receiving several assurances from George, he admitted that he had heard of Constantinople. After getting a dozen more, he said that it was exactly in the opposite direction to the one which George had selected.
     We turned round. Within five miles the dull blue grey of Marmora with still ships upon it appeared and a

      As we had been out of bed since dawn and had little or nothing to eat but unaccustomed brown bread for nearly fortyhours, this treatment was not conducive to good humour or to admiration of the delightful coastline. I enjoyed it less because of our deviations of the day before and all the low-gear work had eaten up the greater part of our petrol and oil and we ran so low that to secure supplies became imperative. After attempts at two villages, I felt that we were
certainly in for a twenty-mile walk to Stamboul, but as usual George was equal to the occasion.
     "No benzinel" cried George to the proprietor of the local Ford who refused to sell to us. "There must be benzine." The word "Angora" wove itself back and forth through the dialogue. We got benzine a tin of Russian filth of the most abominal kind.
     We got something else just as the first minaret of Stamboul gleamed against the high snow mountain tops of Asia Minor. It sounded like a bad pain somewhere in the interior of the car. Francis plumped for the gearbox, and the other two of us were for back axle. Presently there was no doubt about its being back axle. The back axle sounded as if it had a sledge-hammer inside it and every mile seemed longer than the last.
     The sun began to set and the prudent Turkish birds flew homeward in long strings across the sea. The minarets, since it was Ramadan, were hung with rings of stars. There is no scene more lovely, no city more impressive than Stamboul with dark olives and cypress melting into its gloom and the lights popping out on its many hills.
     We cameto it through the Silivri Gate and promptly celebrated our arrival by nearly running over a tramcar. Then we went crashing and blundering down the narrow winding streets among the least guided and fastest traffic in the world to Sirkedji and the Customs House. And, there we stopped.
8I
                                                                                               6
     There was an old Arab Turk in charge of the Customs House, and the first thing he said was that it was Sunday and the second thing was that we were to leave the car in the open street in front of the Customs House, and, perhaps, to-morrow, or the next day or the day after, when he had some time to spare, he would look into our credentials or arrange for some one else to do it. Meanwhile, we were not to remove so much as a button from the car.
     Pyjamas? What did we want with pyjamas? Papers? No. He was firm. To all my protests, he responded with smiles, meanwhile kissing his fingers and bowing low. In the end, I had permission to take away my papers and George agreed to remain as guard while we were turned adrift with four shillings in Turkish money and the muddy clothes we stood in, in a strange city.
     The beauties of the Golden Horn, the twinkling lights above the shore, the shadowed palace and the blue-black point from which the old-time Sultans were wont to cast unwanted wives into the Bosphorus, the light enwreathed minarets of fourteen hundred yeaif old St. Sophia, the lamped pyramid of Pera rising tier on tier to the old Genoan turret at its
summit, all these things were lost on us. And the very first man I spoke to, to asks our way to the Grand Garage, was a gloomy person who had round velvet pads instead of ears to advertise some past indiscretion.
     Eventually, we hired a droshky and found our garage and there a kindly employee took pity on us and we made a round of hard-hearted hotels. We saw five of them before one in the Petit Champs would take us in,and it was nearly midnight ere with our first good meal since Adrianople inside us, we settled into our couches lulled to sleep by the patter of Pera's many rats.
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                                                                    CHAPTER VIII
                                                                    IN STAMBOUL
\
                                                                                  1.
     THE next morning we began a stay of seven days in Constantinople.
     I opened pourparlers with the Turkish authorities through the Embassy. To reach the Commercial Secretary to that august British institution you climbed a sort of penitential stair on every step of which sat a beggar. At the top was a warm welcome.
     The Embassy was ready to do anything for us. The British are supposed to be slow - the Embassy was not.
It at once, as represented by the Commercial Secretary, put on its hat and hailed its motor-car and we hurtled down the street and across the bridge.
     This was the ?rst of those many drives in the main streets of Constantinople which were quite the wildest part of all our journeyings. Every street is on a grade of about one in twelve, with bends every hundred yards and side streets ?owing in perilously. There are trams in them and the trams roar down hills at twenty-?ve miles an hour. All the taxicabs, which are decorated with red arrows and pink roses with lights inside them and other naive ornaments, drive at forty miles an hour and the world's ?nest collection of human game consisting of Greeks, Jews, Turks, Armenians, men, women, children and donkeys, paddle slowly around the fairway, all with their mouths open and mostly engaged, appar-
ently, either in a vigorous private quarrel in which life
83

and death mean nothing to them, or in a profound mathematical problem which entirely wipes out all consciousness of other things.
     Sometimes, where the streets are narrow, the scene is awe-inspiring, what with the leap of the suddenly awakened mathematicians, the squeal of brakes where opposing taxi-cabs almost meet and the dizzy heave of fast drivers taking corners.
     And, at the bottom of the hill, you suddenly come upon a policeman. He is mounted on a pedestal at the intersection. He wears a blue uniform, a postman's red ?reman's helmet, and when he sees you he raises a lazy baton coloured like a barber's pole and makes signs a la Sousa or Sir Henry Wood. Very promptly everybody all round him, whether in a motor-car or on a donkey or on foot, proceeds to do what it has been doing before that is, exactly what he likes.
     After that, you need negotiate only the bridge, a train of charcoal donkeys, some more trams and a mothers' meeting of American tourists staring ?xedly at a mosque out of a- row of open cars, and heigho, you are at the Customs House.
     The Director of Customs seemed to be exactly the double of the Chief of Police at Adrianople, but people were more polite to him. He was most distressed that we had, had to leave our luggage at the Customs House. He declared that we had misunderstood the customs o?icer. He became even more distressedthat he could not allow the British Government to guarantee our customs bond.
     The British Empire, he pointed out sternly, but with perfect courtesy, was a non-suable entity. Suppose, he premised, that we were to have our car burnt and the British Empire were to refuse to pay the £75 customs duty for which we were liable in that event, where would the Turkish Treasury be if it could not sue in the Courts for the amount? We were confounded, not to say stunned
84


by this argument, but we did gain something. We were allowed to drive the car to a garage and retrieve our pyjamas, on parole, so to speak.
     So having arranged for that, I managed with the aid of our ood friend Colonel Binns of G. 8t A. Baker & Company , to secure private bail for our certain departure, with all our dutiable effects from Turkey in our own good time after which there remained nothing to be done but wait for Angora to give us permission to proceed to the interior.
                                                                                  2
     I was not in a hurry to do this as I desired to profit by the fruits of our journey up to that time; to replace our broken crown wheel and pinion; to jettison a good deal of our load which was unnecessary now the worst part of the cold
season was over; to raise our footboards to make it easier for us to crawl under the car and to give some more attention to our radiator. These things were done in the Grand Garage and every day while they were in progress was a joy.
     The Byzantine sky maintained its blue, reminding us of home in August. We wandered through old mosques and older churches. We watched, one afternoon, a dilapidated gentleman in a pot hat hauling cement into the dome of St. Sophia with a kerosene tin on a rope to repair the ravages which time had wrought upon that Ancient Glory for which the temples of Diana of Ephesus were robbed of their marbles that Justinian might exclaim before the Royal Door at its opening fourteen hundred years ago ; "O Solomon, I have excelled thee!" We stood fascinated before the antics of a crowd which stared by the hour at a blue-gowned Chinese woman who had come off some mysterious ship to sell toy birds. We smelt the must of the Church of St. John in which it was the fashion for deposed Emperors to become porters. We had pleasant and jovial lunches at Georges in the
85

Petit Champs, whose proprietor wore a velvet skull cap and often addressed you in the wrong language, and whose head waiter shaved once a week and cast expressive eyes at the pretty French actress who was making her name in Pera with those two famous Parisian ditties, "If you knew Susie".and "I want to be happy," which were at that time sweeping Turkey like a plague.
     When one tired of these amusements and the gaiety of Turquoise, which Russian cooks have made one of the finest restaurants in Europe; of the quaint Mardi Gras revellers of that season in the streets; of the graded nationalities of the street of steps which begins with naughty but uninviting ladies near the water front and ends after courses of Greek, Latin, Turk, Genoese, Venetian, black-shirted Fascist of modern importation and Levantine and Spanish Jew, in German and more Turk upon its summit; of the gay olflicers who parade with fashionably dressed girls out towards Taxim of an
afternoon; of the view across the Bosphorus beyond the palatial German Embassy - when, I say, these things pall there, one can always board a taxi and enjoy a switch-back thrill.

                                                                                       3 .
     It is always an adventurous business taking a taxi in Constantinople. You appear. Immediately a taxi rank which seems half a mile long gives tongue. In front of its bright blue of vehicles hung with garish ornament, the army of drivers rises on its collective toes and stretches its collective arms to heaven.
"Monsieur!", "Moi !", "Nur zwei lira !", "Taxi !","Sir!", "Effendim !" it shouts in the uttermost discord, each man drawing a bow at a venture upon the language which it hopes you most likely understand.
     You make your choice in babel. A policeman, fondling the rosary of yellow beads which everybody from Duke to dustman carries in Pera, may intervene; but
86
 
ordinarily you and the rank are left to your fates. Sometimes there is a free fight and sometimes, among the competitors, it is a private affair. While it goes on, you sit calmly in the taxi and smoke your cigarette. When it is over, you are driven where you want to go by the two men who are always apparently needed to propel a motor-car in Turkey--one drives and the other abuses the people you nearly kill and afterwards collects the fare.
     You may even startlingly discover that these taxi mélées are not even confined to the drivers. There was, for instance, the one in which I was involved. It happened, to my misfortune, that Charles and Henry (such, of course, were not their names, but they will serve) saw me together.
     I got into Henry's car because it was a beautiful pigeon's-egg blue and because Henry had a purple feather duster with which he proceeded to dust the seat for me. Henry was very pleased to see me, but Charles wasn't. Indeed, he was so unsatisfied that I had passed him by that he left his own car to the mercy of his "tiger" and, climbing into ours, took Henry by the left eyeball and the right thumb, which is according to the Turkish Queensberry rules as practised in the best circles. Henry, of course, called him an Ottoman something and planted both his feet in the middle of his face, while Charles, in return, tried to kick him on the knee-cap and moved his facial grip to Henry's nose which was a large one. I, being a mere passenger, sat calmly in the back seat with Henry's forgotten duster, feeling that, I had no status in the fray, not even having been asked to referee. All the same, it was an engaging contest. Sometimes Henry's feet were uppermost and sometimes the remains of Charles's face which had undergone severe treatment from all Henry's offensive members.
     It would have mattered nothing in the end that Charles won if he had, not been vainglorious about it and essayed
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to spit upon his adversary whose head he held bent back over the driver's seat while he twisted his forelock vigorously, as if intent on removing his scalp.
     Unluckily, Charles's spitting was even worse than his intention. Instead of catching Henry fairly in the left eye with the liquid evidence of his scorn, he very mistakenly managed to hit the passenger.
     How the next second or two was bridged I am not sure, but I suddenly found myself getting out of the taxi, stone cold with anger. As I touched the step, I realized that I had Charles's left ear, slightly stretching and scarlet in hue, in my hand. It was a large, dirty, Oriental pancake of an ear, not the sort that a perfect gentleman would in the least care to own, but Charles seemed to have a very deep affection for it. At any rate, he was following it with intent eagerness as fast as his lungs and limbs and Henry would let him.
     He followed it, indeed, until we came to a stone wall which was three feet thick and belonged to the British Embassy. When we reached it, I became seized with a burning ambition to push Charles's head through it, and I proceeded to do it, my unfortunate victim showing not the slightest disposition to meet my wishes. Every time his head hit the stonework he let out a howl like a lost soul and every time he was sufficiently in suspense to allow of his collecting his thoughts, he mustered his vagrant English and in a voice full of anguish, whined:
     "Meester, please be so kind! O Meester, you devil !"
     To say that Henry was unhelpful in this affray would be far from giving him his due. Every time I allowed him space he kicked Charles enthusiastically in the stomach. When it became evident that Charles could not go through the wall and also that his ear was in danger of coming off, my anger cooled and I gave him a lira, and Henry and I drove off, the latter so indignant that I had not finished off the enemy completely, that every time we came to a really dangerous corner, well
88
 
stocked with traflic, he would turn round and expostulate to the risk of our joint lives. I was almost as glad to leave Henry as Charles had been to leave me.

                                                                                     4
     At length we got away--one calm morning, blue-skied, Australian enough to bring tears to an exile's eyes;
     The car had been tortured by a cosmopolitan gang of mechanics led by a German artisan. She had had her back axle taken down by a Franco-Italian. She had been supplied with stores by a Levantine, born in Adrianople, who claimed British nationality apparently upon the sole ground that his father had once lived in Leeds. Her running boards had been raised by a Jew named Joseph, assisted by a vociferous Turk. And a whole Committee of Turkish Beys had sat upon us and decided that We were fit and  proper persons to proceed to inner Turkey by a route carefully mapped by
themselves.
     So, in the early morning, while the cats were returning from their nocturnal perambulations and the only traflic in the streets consisted of drowsy market donkeys, we betook ourselves to the Haidar Pasha ferry wharf to wait for the ferry that should take us over the Bosphorus into Asia Minor. It came at last, and spewed its contents like a little bit of the Old Testament rather damped by experience around our feet.
     No weirder nor more romantic caravan crossed our trail all the way through Asia, except one upon the Indus. First came a long and sleepy old fellow in a sort of burnous over a Roman-fashioned toga, rags trailing about his sandals;
then, young men bearded and bowed down with faggots; weary women, hooded, walking, as if still in a dream and a long, plodding line of donkeys loaded with the queerest collection of merchandise the mind of man could conceive.
     Two tins of honey, labelled with a petrol brand, sunk into the chafing ribs of its long-eared transport. Next a
89

beast with a sleeping baby straddled across its back, bolt upright, eyes shut and lips peacefully but incongruously parted, held in place only by the gentle pressure from the fingers of a plodding mother ranged alongside, and entirely surrounded by perplexed-looking turkeys which had been tied to the pack-saddle by their legs. Poultry hung in bundles, timber, earthen chatties that had somehow found their way from the far land of India, cedar from the Lebanon, food, sheepskins in packs-with a tall and contemptuous camel in the rear, the donkey team plodded on head down and ears back, waking the echoes of the stony street. Men, women and children, some of these last at their mothers' hips, cried out in encouragement and there was a hurried patter of paws as twenty dogs fell into their places.
      A voice in my ear said, as I watched, fascinated:
     "Sir, I welcome you. Have you seen my engines? They was made, sir, by Meester Moseley, of England -- 1878. Very nice engine, sir."
     Behold the Chief Engineer of the Haidar Pasha ferry (a quarter of an hour's run, fare one penny) replete in his dark blue uniform and hung about with  enough gold braid to make an Admiral of the Fleet blush!
     He certainly possessed some very fine reciprocating engines, relics of the war of 1878, and a fund of bright
conversation in weird sea English which kept us fully entertained until we were placed ashore at Haidar Pasha -that queer little town full of memories of Florence Nightingale and the Crimea which has many crosses and memorials in its cemetery to tell of British soldiers sleeping there and a sun-drenched outlook on the slow-moving Bosphorus to make it a pleasant place to rest in.
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                                                                            CHAPTER IX
                                                             WE GET OURSELVES ARRESTED
                                                                                       1
     We had taken to our bosoms, at Constantinople, a long, lank Turk whose name was Ismail and who, our friend Colonel Binns assured us, would prove a very present comfort in our journeyings through the first couple of hundred miles of Asia Minor. He was to set us on the road to Konia and then to leave us.
     If you had met him in a Sydney street you would have said that he was not a Turk. You would probably have taken
him for a ghost, for he was exactly the cut of one of those lean Australian bushmen who made themselves so unpleasant to the Boers a quarter of a century ago. Moustache and grin, drooping shoulders, cornstalk form and continual merriment in adversity were his chief characteristics, and when his sponsor said that he would be "a faithful, dog," he spoke the whole truth. Ismail was "a faithful dog," and by the time we had finished we even forgave him for having once
been a Turkish policeman.
     With the cramped space available on the car he had to sit where he could, and in the tempestuous few days which followed there were times when he could not sit at all. For a good part of them he walked.
     Our route was mapped for us down the very centre of the Ismid Peninsula, the villages which  we were directed to pass through being each a few miles apart. We set out for them lightheartedly against all the best
91

advice. We were told by several kind friends, none of whom had been upon the track which we were to follow, that we should have to leap from mountain to mountain. We were warned that the Castley-Catherick motor-cycle expedition had been allotted that route the year before and had very wisely put their cycles on the train past Ismid which, being a naval town, was the zone which our journey had been plotted to avoid. They told us that still another expedition during 1926 had avoided the obstacles which we were to face by going to Broussa across the Sea of Marrhora, but we treated these things lightly because we had already seen the Englishman's idea of an impassable road in England.
     We therefore left Haidar Pasha gaily. We went in silence. We climbed a hill on a good road. Then we climbed another. We bowled along in great style.
     After we had gone three or four leagues I asked Ismail where the road was going.
     "O, Sinope," said Ismail lightly.
     "Sinope yok (no)," I said in my brand-new Turkish. "We go to Pasha Keue."
     That was all right, said Ismail, in effect, because we were just going to leave the road. And so we were. A narrow track ran away to the right up an incline which the sun had recently denuded of snow. In place of the snow was mud and stubble and a nasty piece of landscape over which drunken buffalo had apparently been dragging heavy timber.
     We scaled it with many sideslips, and then our troubles began. We slithered down narrow goat-tracks. We skated upon them. We climbed grades of one in four and a half. We barged through water on the flats. We negotiated a bridge which swung giddily with us as we went over.
     Sometimes we found ourselves in a wretched Turkish or Greek village, and you could always tell which were
the Greek ones because most of the stones were piled in
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a heap and the Church was battered down and all the inhabitants in sight would be some old and shrinking crones peeping fearfully round corners and not coming to us till we had uttered a second peremptory call.
     The further we went, the rougher and wetter the track became. For miles on end, at one stage, we traversed a waggon road so worn down and narrow that our wheels sat on the slanting banks instead of on the roadway. And, taking it altogether, I was compelled to stand on a front seat nearly the whole time guiding the car, yard by yard, While Francis drove. Also, I got down, now and then, to wade through water and brush to discover what pitfalls might be in our way.
     The bog was the worst. Four or five times we stuck in it. There were half-hours when we built a track of weeds and branches. There was once when only by carrying rocks for some hundreds of yards we succeeded in getting out of a quagmire. In the end, the day's mileage was thirty-two, and just as we came to the close of it, - I had to go ahead to investigate a creek crossing, Francis, following, failed to note the height of a hummock, and before we knew where we were, we were sitting on it with our front wheels in the air. Worse than that, a nasty noise warned us that something had
happened to our crown wheel again.
     The sun was just going down then. A mile or so away lay the village of Emerli, so I decided to camp. It was our first night in the open except for the one on the Danube, but this time there was a little firewood. Ismail, most cheerful of companions, soon had a fire going and before long, worn out, we were asleep in our valises, giving no thought towards the morning, which we left to look after itself and the argument which would arise with it.
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     Examination showed that our new crown wheel had, indeed, lost some of its teeth and that the pinion looked
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as if it had been to a Russian political meeting. We had no "spare." We were -thirty-four miles from Constantinople. The next real town forward on our itinerary was Adar Bazaar which was eighty miles away. It seemed to me for the moment that the best thing I could do was to walk to Pera and remain there until we could get a spare crown wheel from London, leaving the party, which was well supplied with rations, to enjoy the scenery.
     This proposal met with fierce opposition from Francis, who, having lived all his life in motor-cars or on bicycles,
believes that it is the last word in ignominy to walk. He has a deep antipathy to cross-country travelling. As official mechanic, he swore that he could get the car in her limping state to Adar Bazaar. I was quite convinced that he could not, but after Ismail and I had offered ourselves as a sacrifice to the dogs of the nearby village and identified it and after we had taken a compass bearing upon our next place of call  which we could see across an uninviting and thaw-soaked
terrain, several miles away, I came to the conclusion that every yard we travelled at least edged us in a little towards
the Haidar Pasha-Ismid railway.
     Well, on in the morning we set off, on tiptoe as it were. Francis drove, swearing like fifteen troopers. I sometimes stood on the front seat guiding every inch of travel or got out and walked in front with a metaphorical red flag. Once or twice we met Turks while progressing in this fashion and their expressions were eloquent.
     In front, with legs bare from the knees downwards, a thick coating of mud over all his garments and his shoes oozing liquid, they saw a man who was very evidently fleeing for his life, his arms outspread, from a mad motor-car which, roaring in low gear, pursued his every movement.
     The motor-car, having no rear mud-guards, sent up tall columns of clotted mud which it dug out of the
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roadway as it went along, while the besmutted heathen in front sent up columns of directions and profanity.
     Turning, after you had passed them, you beheld the spectators still rooted to the spot upon the hill-side a mile away waiting for the capture and slaughter of the Devil Waggon's prey and, to be perfectly candid, Francis would sometimes have liked to oblige them, seeing the places he was forced to drive through.
     Presently, we reached a series, of tall hills and our Waterloo. They were desolate hills with slippery surfaces and heavy pulls and the third of them, commanding a fine view of the surrounding country, brought us to a full stop, within a few hundred yards of the village which we had been able to see five weary hours before from Emerli. Our pinion behaved like a sledge-hammer; Knowles was out of the car only just in time to place a chock under a rear wheel and prevent us from running down the hill backwards, which accident would have saved us a lot of subsequent worry.
     As matters stood, there was only one course to follow. I had to get back to Constantinople, cable to London
for another crown wheel and pinion and fill in the intervening time having the back axle thoroughly, overhauled to ascertain if possible the cause of our troubles.
     How to get there, though? We were forbidden to go on to the main road which runs along the shore of the Gulf of Ismid. Our passports were visaed only for certain towns and villages. Our clothing was such as to make us fairly conspicuous and, even had we not been at all these disadvantages, we knew that we were some uncertain distance from the railway.
     Eventually, after careful study of the map, I made up my mind to walk to Pendik and catch a train to Haidar Pasha. Ismail fully approved of this course till he found that he also was to walk to Pendik; then he seemed to have his doubts._
     After lunch we started.
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     It had been bitterly cold during the night, but so soon as Providence found that we were going to do some walking the sun beat down upon us with tropical heat.
     Ismail said he knew exactly where Pendik was and that the easiest way was straight ahead of our noses. He also said that it was about two saat (i.e., about six miles) away. So we walked six miles to begin with - straight down a tussocky hill, across a swamp, up another hill covered with nettles and then to the edge of a declivity, which was almost a precipice.
     Here I asked Ismail how far off we were now and he reiterated quite cheerfully that we were still six miles from our destination. So we clambered down the slope, walked several miles along a winding river-bed, crossed three fields, climbed some more hills and, eventually, about fourteen miles from where we started and dripping with perspiration, we saw the neat railway station in front of us with the blue waters of the Gulf of Ismid beyond.
     At first glimpse, the whole population of the platform seemed to be made up of naval officers, naval police,
gendarmes, civil police and station ofiicials. I expected every minute to be asked for my passport, but the fact that I wore a light overcoat over my other clothes, that I was swarthy enough to be a village Turk myself and that Ismail, who was by no means easy in his mind, talked to me incessantly in fluent Turkish (of which I understood one word in twenty-five or thereabouts) for the whole of the minutes that elapsed before the train came in, enabled us to make the shelter of a third-class carriage and, eventually, Pera.

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     Five days passed while the King's Messenger brought our crown wheel and pinion from London by train. On the first day I sent a Ford to bring Francis and the back axle to us. Being Turks, the drivers of it were able to traverse the main road for most of the journey.
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A week later we rescued Knowles from his solitude. He had not been enjoying life, because of the hardness of the ground and the lack of fuel, but he had made many friends in the village; had sung his famous Oriental ballads; had had several minor articles of furniture stolen from the car and rose from his blankets in which he was peacefully sleeping to hail us with a shout of joy.
     In the afternoon we moved nearly seven miles and camped early with some more breakages. Half a day sufficed to repair them next morning and we finished the evening after a twenty-mile run, which was, in truth, better to be described as a crawl or a wallow or a scramble or all three combined. At sunset we were at Tache Keupri. We all remembered Tache Keupri for quite a long time afterwards. It was situated on the top of a high and bleak hill, up which it was only possible to rush the car a hundred yards at a time, checking her when she showed a tendency to stop. It was full of
gendarmes and villagers and, so soon as we began to hold parley with the inhabitants, of such tumult as had never been heard since the days of Babel.
     Ismail started it by asking the way to another delectable village named Tchboukli Osman. The head gendarme walked away a few yards and  pointing to a dizzy goat-track winding uncertainly down the hill-side, said: "There!" - -
     At once the argument began. I demanded that we should leave Tchboukli-Osman out of the itinerary, since the road was impossible, and send our profound apologies to the mayor. The Chief of the Gendarmes said in effect that the mayor (or whatever head there was) would be expecting us since he would have been warned by the authorities of our approach, and if we did not arrive within reasonable time, he would  undoubtedly ask awkward questions. He said that he did not care a two-penny dump for the mayor's anguish of mind, but he had a deep regard for his own work and he liked the
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locality which he would beyond question be asked to leave if he allowed us to deviate from our true course.
     While the debate raged, it became dark and I asked for shelter; whereupon we were ushered into a room in the local guest house. It was a large, clean room in an upper story of a hut with sheep in a folds underneath us and warm mats neatly rolled along the wall and a steaming bowl of sheep's milk to nourish us.
     When we had fed, Ismail said that he would go and have another interview with the gendarmes. He said that there was no policy like set a gendarme to catch a gendarme and, as he had been one himself, he felt confident that he would not come back empty-handed. Also, please, effendim, might he take some tea and some figs and some cigarettes and a few other little items by way of bait?
     Off toddled Ismail, smiling as if he had not been labouring the day through in the mud and remained abroad so long that I wondered whether he had come to a bad end. But at dawn, he was with us carrying the treaty of peace. We were to avoid the goat-track--it was literally that--but we were also to avoid, like the plague, the city of Ismid, which was a naval depot closed to all foreigners. When we came to a main road we were to turn to our left till we came to a cross-road, and
after that our troubles would be over, as, beyond Ismid, our course was indicated only by a few big towns.
     Off we set, and after the first mile of clambering in the mud the track improved until it became a fairly good earth road running along the side of a hill-top, so that looking down to the left gave one very much the sensation of gazing out of an-aeroplane. We were all enthralled with this outlook except Ismail and he seemed to be in deadly uneasiness until a broad ribbon of white road suddenly wound itself along the edges of a fertile valley ahead. of us.  Whereupon he became
fairly exuberant, and when we reached that road and
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began to speed along it at thirty miles an hour--thirty-two miles in one day was our best stretch since Constantinople, he began to sing. '
     "This is fine," said Knowles. "Open her up a bit, Frank. Let's see what she can do."