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and some medal of merit; at the prow stands
an eighth; in the seat of honour sits the
officer empowered to examine our passports,
and to ascertain that our ship carries no
military stores or contraband of war. At the
bottom of the boat is a pile of muskets, and
from the stern flutters the Russian war flag
a blue cross on a white ground.

The trim little boat is soon hooked on to
our side, and the officer steps lightly and
gracefully on deck. He is a Pole; and, though
but twenty-five or twenty-six years old, is
already a major of marines. I cannot help
thinking also that he is a show-officer. He
is dressed within an inch of his life. His
uniform would turn half the heads at
Almack's; for it is really charming in its elegant
propriety and good taste. It is a dark rifle-
green uniform, with plain round gilt buttons,
and not made tawdry by embroidery. Two
heavy epaulettes of bullion, with glittering
silver stars, which announce the rank of the
wearer, are its only ornament. His boots
might have been drawn through a ring, and
look quite like kid gloves on his dainty little
feet. His well-shaped helmet is of varnished
leather, with the Russian eagle in copper gilt
upon it; and this eagle and the bright hilt of
his sword flash back the rays of the sun
quite dazzlingly. We, poor dingy, travel-
stained passengers appear like slaves in the
presence of a king before him.

He speaks French perfectly. He is
excruciatingly polite, and is evidently a man of the
world, conscious of being entrusted with a
delicate duty; but rather overdoing it. He
would be handsome, but for small cunning,
or rather roguish eyes, when roguish is used
in an undefined sense, and may mean
smartness good or bad; but it is ditiicult to take his
measure. He has evidently seen service.
His hair is of the light rusty brown of nature
and exposure. His face is shorn, except a
sweeping moustache peculiarly well trimmed.
There are some lines about his face which
tell the old story of suffering and privation.

He is, as I have said, courteousmore than
courteous. He does not even examine the
Greek and Moldo-Wallachian passports; but
he pauses over the French and English to
see if the visas are correct. Mine he examined
more narrowly, and then returned it with a gay
débonnaire bow, a polite smile, and a backward
step. A Greek keeps up a conversation with him
the whole time he remains on board. I fancy
there is more in it than meets the ear. In
speaking to this fellow the major takes a short,
sharp, abrupt, hasty tone of command, like
a man in authority pressed for time. The
major does not examine the hold of the
vessel, nor interrogate any of the Austrian
officers. There is evidently a shyness and ill-
will between them.

When we have each filed past him in turn,
the Pole draws his elegant figure up to its
full slim height, tightens his belt, and marches
with a light gallant step from one end of the
vessel to the other. Then he halts at the
gangway, faces about, casts a hawk's eye
round the ship, and descends the companion-
ladder. The trim little bark is hooked closer
on; then the grapnels are loosened, and she
spreads her light sail to the wind. The rowers
shelve their oars, and the next moment she
is dashing the spray from her bows, and
flying towards the shore with the speed of a
sea-gull. At the stern sits the Pole upright
as a dart, the sunbeams toying with his helmet
a picture to muse on.

Nothing could have been in better taste
than the whole thing. It might have served
for a scene of an opera, or a chapter in a
delightfully romantic peace novel. I confess
I cannot help feeling something like a pitying
tenderness for the smart cavalier; who
may, a few days hence, be called away to the
war, and return to his true love neverbe
mashed by a cannon shot, or blown into
small pieces by a minehis life's errand all
unaccomplished, his bright life suddenly
marred. I think, too, how strange and sad
is the destiny which can make such a Pole
take part in a cause which, if successful, will
rivet the chains of his countrymen for ever;
and how he would meet his patriot countrymen
who have joined the hostile ranks in
hundreds for only one faint hope of freedom.

Below Ismail the Danube was a perfect
forest of masts, and we had some difficulty in
steering our way through the maze of ships.
The river is very narrow in many places. A
child could easily throw a stone across it.
The Turkish and Russian labourers in the fields
on the Bulgarian and Bessarabian shores
are within hail of each other. And every
breeze blows waifs and strays across the
narrow boundary. Turkish and Russian wild-
fowl, wiser than men, chat amicably together
about their prospects for the winter, and call
blithely to each other from shore to shore
among the reeds. The character of the
country on both sides of the river is very
much the sameflat and uninteresting. Now
and then, however, a charming little valley
opens among woods and waters in the
distance, and here and there rises a solitary
guard-house, or a few fishermen burrow
among rocks and caverns. Thirty hours
after our departure from Galatz we steam
into the crowded port of Sulina, where one
thousand sail are wind-bound.

On Saturday, January 19th, will be Published, Price
Five Shillings and Sixpence, cloth boards,
THE TWELFTH VOLUME
OF
HOUSEHOLD WORDS,
Containing from No. 280 to 393 (both inclusive),
and the extra Christmas Number.

The Right of Translating Articles from HOUSEHOLD WORDS is reserved by the Authors.

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