50 CONSTANTINOPLE AND ITS ENVIRONS;
braided with a great variety of coins of different metals, sometimes so densely strung
together, that they form a thick metallic cord of considerable weight, and presenting the
edges of the coins. These are esteemed the retecules in which a young lady preserves
her marriage portion; and when the pendent purse is broken up, these perforated coins,
first used as ornaments, are seen in constant circulation. When a traveller enters a
cottage, and demands the rites of hospitality, it is swept and garnished for him, and the
carpets laid; and, while he reclines upon it, the belle of the village enters with a white
handkerchief in her hand, leading a train of her companions: they form a dance of
pleasing movement, and a chorus of sweet voices expressive of welcome. When it is
concluded, the fair conductress approaches, and casts her handkerchief into his bosom;
this implies a request for a few paras, which is never denied, and "the village train"
depart with cheerfulness and modesty.
PASS IN THE BALKAN MOUNTAINS.
In this great and apparently impenetrable chain, five passes have been discovered,
each at a considerable distance, by Haidhos, Karabat, Jamboli or Selimno, Kersaulik, and
Tatar-bazaar. Of these, the passes by Haidhos and Tatar-bazaar are the most picturesque
—the one at the east, and the other at the western extremity of the mountains.
From Haidhos the traveller begins to ascend, and, after surmounting the Low Balkans,
and passing the lovely valleys between them, finds himself in a deep sequestered vale,
surrounded on all sides by mountains. Directly before him is the vast wall of rock,
extending interminably both ways, and presenting a perpendicular form ascending to
the skies. When close under it, the flank seems suddenly, as it were, torn open by
some rupture, presenting a dark chasm, which before was not seen. This he enters
beside a rivulet, and for some time descends with it towards the very bowels of the
mountain, involved in dim twilight below, and seeing, at an immeasurable distance
above, a scarcely describable stripe of blue sky. Ascending, and winding his way up one
side of the chasm, he at length emerges on the summit, and stands on the ridge of the
High Balkans, enjoying a prospect, of unparalleled extent and magnificence, of the less
elevated hills and plains below. From hence the road proceeds across a kind of tableland, generally enveloped in mist and entangled in morasses, crossed by various ravines
and tottering planks, so loosely set as to rise at one end as the traveller presses the
other, or by decayed wooden bridges, which frequently break down, and precipitate
horse and rider into the abyss below. Reaching the opposite or northern face of the
ridge, the way descends to Lopenitza, a Balkan village, after a transit of twenty-seven
miles, across the High Balkans, and proceeds to the Danube by Shumla.