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On the Bosphorus there are birds which the Turks call "lost souls," as they are never at rest. They are always on the wing, like stormy petrels, flying swift and low, just skimming the waters, yet darting like arrows, as if seeking for something which they could not find on land or sea. This spirit of unrest sometimes enters into other wanderers than those of the air. One feels it strongly as he comes to the end of one continent, and "casts off" for another; as he leaves the firm, familiar ground, and sails away to the distant and the unknown.
So felt a couple of travellers who had left America to go around the world, and after six months in Europe, were now to push on to the farthest East. It was an autumn afternoon near the close of the year 1875, that they left Constantinople, and sailed down the Marmora, and through the Dardanelles, between the Castles of Europe and Asia, whose very names suggested the continents that they were leaving behind, and set their faces towards Africa.
They could not go to Palestine. An alarm of cholera in Damascus had caused a cordon sanitaire to be drawn along the Syrian coast; and though they might get in, they could not so easily get away; or would be detained ten days in a Lazaretto before they could pass into Egypt; and so they were obliged at the last moment to turn from the Holy Land, and sail direct for Alexandria; touching, however, at Mitylene and Scio; and passing a day at Smyrna and at Syra. With these detentions the voyage took nearly a week, almost as long as to cross the Atlantic.
But it was not without its compensations. There was a motley company in the cabin, made up of all nations and all religions: English and Americans, French and Germans and Russians, Greeks and Turks, Christians and Mohammedans. There was a grand old Turk, who was going out to be a judge in Mecca, and was travelling with his harem, eight women, who were carefully screened from the observation of profane eyes. And there were other Mussulmans of rank, gentlemen in manners and education, who would be addressed as Effendis or Beys, or perhaps as Pashas, who did not hesitate to spread their small Persian carpets in the cabin or on the deck at any hour, and kneel and prostrate themselves, and say their prayers.