“The prisoners,” I said, pointing to the dancers.
“Nonsense,” said the German.
“Come nearer and listen,” I answered, for even I had my doubts for the moment; but my ear had caught the clanking of chains above the wild music.
They were the prisoners right enough, and many of the men moved heavily and awkwardly to the slow rhythm of the motion. It is not easy to dance with such ornaments as are provided free and gratis by the paternal Prince to curb an exuberance of spirits.
[Illustration: THE PRISONERS DANCING]
A great trial that the photographer has to undergo, be he professional or a strolling amateur, is the immediate demand for the picture. The mysteries of dark rooms and developing are not to be lightly explained, and the refusal to show the picture, for which the vain Montenegrins have so willingly stood, is accounted churlish. They are only appeased with a promise of a picture a few weeks later. Their names and addresses are hurriedly scribbled and handed with many peremptory requests for the picture to be sent as soon as possible.
Just before we left Cetinje, on our way to Podgorica, during our first visit, a bowing and deeply humble individual accosted us in the hotel. When he had straightened himself up a bit, and we could see his face, we recognised one of the prison warders. After many expressions of sorrow for disturbing us, we gathered that on the occasion of our visit to the prison only three of the four warders had been present. The fourth—and it would appear the head warder—had arrived after our departure, and learning of the photographs and his omission, had made things a bit hot for his three favoured confreres. Therefore would we of our goodness come and photograph him, and thus make life worth living again? Would we restore the peace and harmony of that little community?
With sorrow we declined, our carriage awaited us, and the day was hot. Some other time, we said. And with that uncertain comfort he was forced to be content.
“But,” he said, “the money which you have so generously given us and the prisoners has been expended on ‘raki’ (local spirits). We and the prisoners will pray for your souls for many nights ere we sleep.”
As we drove up the ascent from the town towards our new destination, we glanced back at the red-roofed little capital and noticed the low, grey stone building of the prison.
“We ought to sleep well to-night,” remarked P., nodding towards it.
It is something to be prayed for, even if only by criminals of the quarrelsome type.
The view from Bella Vista—New scenery—Promiscuous shooting—The market in Rijeka—The shepherds—Their flocks—Wayside hospitality—The plain of the Zeta—The Moraca—The Vizier bridge—Old war-marks—First and last impressions of Podgorica.