and was wakened by the continuous knocking at my door, so I guess I must have
been sleeping soundly then.
I had for breakfast more paprika, and a sort of porridge of maize flour which they
said was "mamaliga", and egg-plant stuffed with forcemeat, a very excellent dish,
which they call "impletata". (Mem., get recipe for this also.)
I had to hurry breakfast, for the train started a little before eight, or rather it ought
to have done so, for after rushing to the station at 7:30 I had to sit in the carriage
for more than an hour before we began to move.
It seems to me that the further east you go the more unpunctual are the trains.
What ought they to be in China?
All day long we seemed to dawdle through a country which was full of beauty of
every kind. Sometimes we saw little towns or castles on the top of steep hills
such as we see in old missals; sometimes we ran by rivers and streams which
seemed from the wide stony margin on each side of them to be subject ot great
floods. It takes a lot of water, and running strong, to sweep the outside edge of a
river clear.
At every station there were groups of people, sometimes crowds, and in all sorts
of attire. Some of them were just like the peasants at home or those I saw
coming through France and Germany, with short jackets, and round hats, and
home-made trousers; but others were very picturesque.
The women looked pretty, except when you got near them, but they were very
clumsy about the waist. They had all full white sleeves of some kind or other, and
most of them had big belts with a lot of strips of something fluttering from them
like the dresses in a ballet, but of course there were petticoats under them.
The strangest figures we saw were the Slovaks, who were more barbarian than
the rest, with their big cow-boy hats, great baggy dirty-white trousers, white linen
shirts, and enormous heavy leather belts, nearly a foot wide, all studded over
with brass nails. They wore high boots, with their trousers tucked into them, and
had long black hair and heavy black moustaches. They are very picturesque, but
do not look prepossessing. On the stage they would be set down at once as
some old Oriental band of brigands. They are, however, I am told, very harmless
and rather wanting in natural self-assertion.
It was on the dark side of twilight when we got to Bistritz, which is a very
interesting old place. Being practically on the frontier--for the Borgo Pass leads
from it into Bukovina-- it has had a very stormy existence, and it certainly shows
marks of it. Fifty years ago a series of great fires took place, which made terrible
havoc on five separate occasions. At the very beginning of the seventeenth
century it underwent a siege of three weeks and lost 13,000 people, the
casualties of war proper being assisted by famine and disease.
Count Dracula had directed me to go to the Golden Krone Hotel, which I found,
to my great delight, to be thoroughly old-fashioned, for of course I wanted to see
all I could of the ways of the country.
I was evidently expected, for when I got near the door I faced a cheery-looking
elderly woman in the usual peasant dress-- white undergarment with a long
double apron, front, and back, of coloured stuff fitting almost too tight for
modesty. When I came close she bowed and said, "The Herr Englishman?"