The Adventures of a Special Correspondent Page 01
OF A SPECIAL
AMONG THE VARIOUS RACES AND COUNTRIES OF CENTRAL ASIA
BEING THE EXPLOITS AND EXPERIENCES OF CLAUDIUS BOMBARNAC OF "THE TWENTIETH CENTURY" BY
BIOGRAPHY AND BIBLIOGRAPHY
Jules Verne, French author, was born at Nantes, France, in 1828, and died in 1905. In 1850 he wrote a comedy in verse, but he eventually confined himself to the writing of scientific and geographical romances, achieving a great reputation. He visited the United States in 1867, sailing for New York on the _Great Eastern_, and his book, _A Floating City_, was the result of this voyage. His best-known books are: _A Captain at Fifteen, A Two Years' Vacation, A Voyage to the Center of the Earth_ (1864), _From the Earth to the Moon_ (1865), _20,000 Leagues Under the Sea_ (1870), _A Tour of the World in Eighty Days_ (1873), _Michael Strogoff_ (1876), _Mrs. Branica_ (1891), _Clovis Dordentor_ (1896), _The Brothers Kip_ (1902). Most of his works have been translated into English.
Such is the address of the telegram I found on the 13th of May when I arrived at Tiflis.
This is what the telegram said:
"As the matters in hand will terminate on the 15th instant Claudius Bombarnac will repair to Uzun Ada, a port on the east coast of the Caspian. There he will take the train by the direct Grand Transasiatic between the European frontier and the capital of the Celestial Empire. He will transmit his impressions in the way of news, interviewing remarkable people on the road, and report the most trivial incidents by letter or telegram as necessity dictates. The _Twentieth Century_ trusts to the zeal, intelligence, activity and tact of its correspondent, who can draw on its bankers to any extent he may deem necessary."
It was the very morning I had arrived at Tiflis with the intention of spending three weeks there in a visit to the Georgian provinces for the benefit of my newspaper, and also, I hoped, for that of its readers.
Here was the unexpected, indeed; the uncertainty of a special correspondent's life.
At this time the Russian railways had been connected with the line between Poti, Tiflis and Baku. After a long and increasing run through the Southern Russian provinces I had crossed the Caucasus, and imagined I was to have a little rest in the capital of Transcaucasia. And here was the imperious administration of the _Twentieth Century_ giving me only half a day's halt in this town! I had hardly arrived before I was obliged to be off again without unstrapping my portmanteau! But what would you have? We must bow to the exigencies of special correspondence and the modern interview!
But all the same I had been carefully studying this Transcaucasian district, and was well provided with geographic and ethnologic memoranda. Perhaps it may be as well for you to know that the fur cap, in the shape of a turban, which forms the headgear of the mountaineers and cossacks is called a "papakha," that the overcoat gathered in at the waist, over which the cartridge belt is hung, is called a "tcherkeska" by some and "bechmet" by others! Be prepared to assert that the Georgians and Armenians wear a sugar-loaf hat, that the merchants wear a "touloupa," a sort of sheepskin cape, that the Kurd and Parsee still wear the "bourka," a cloak in a material something like plush which is always waterproofed.
And of the headgear of the Georgian ladies, the "tassakravi," composed of a light ribbon, a woolen veil, or piece of muslin round such lovely faces; and their gowns of startling colors, with the wide open sleeves, their under skirts fitted to the figure, their winter cloak of velvet, trimmed with fur and silver gimp, their summer mantle of white cotton, the "tchadre," which they tie tight on the neck--all those fashions in fact so carefully entered in my notebook, what shall I say of them?
Learn, then, that their national orchestras are composed of "zournas," which are shrill flutes; "salamouris," which are squeaky clarinets; mandolines, with copper strings, twanged with a feather; "tchianouris," violins, which are played upright; "dimplipitos," a kind of cymbals which rattle like hail on a window pane.