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Mark Twain: The Innocents Abroad
38. CHAPTER XXXVIII.
We returned to Constantinople, and after a day or two spent in exhausting marches about the city and voyages up the Golden Horn in caiques, we steamed away again. We passed through the Sea of Marmora and the Dardanelles, and steered for a new land--a new one to us, at least--Asia. We had as yet only acquired a bowing acquaintance with it, through pleasure excursions to Scutari and the regions round about.
We passed between Lemnos and Mytilene, and saw them as we had seen Elba and the Balearic Isles--mere bulky shapes, with the softening mists of distance upon them--whales in a fog, as it were. Then we held our course southward, and began to "read up" celebrated Smyrna.
At all hours of the day and night the sailors in the forecastle amused themselves and aggravated us by burlesquing our visit to royalty. The opening paragraph of our Address to the Emperor was framed as follows:
"We are a handful of private citizens of America, traveling simply for recreation--and unostentatiously, as becomes our unofficial state--and, therefore, we have no excuse to tender for presenting ourselves before your Majesty, save the desire of offering our grateful acknowledgments to the lord of a realm, which, through good and through evil report, has been the steadfast friend of the land we love so well."
The third cook, crowned with a resplendent tin basin and wrapped royally in a table-cloth mottled with grease-spots and coffee stains, and bearing a sceptre that looked strangely like a belaying-pin, walked upon a dilapidated carpet and perched himself on the capstan, careless of the flying spray; his tarred and weather-beaten Chamberlains, Dukes and Lord High Admirals surrounded him, arrayed in all the pomp that spare tarpaulins and remnants of old sails could furnish. Then the visiting "watch below," transformed into graceless ladies and uncouth pilgrims, by rude travesties upon waterfalls, hoopskirts, white kid gloves and swallow-tail coats, moved solemnly up the companion way, and bowing low, began a system of complicated and extraordinary smiling which few monarchs could look upon and live. Then the mock consul, a slush-plastered deck-sweep, drew out a soiled fragment of paper and proceeded to read, laboriously:
"To His Imperial Majesty, Alexander II., Emperor of Russia:
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