- Project Runeberg -  Armenia and the Near East /
28

(1928) [MARC] Author: Fridtjof Nansen - Tema: Russia
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His handsome wife, a Spanish Jewess from Constantinople,
was flirting on deck with a Frenchman; the evening was
delightful, with a full moon and a sea of glass. But the Jew
sat huddled up in a corner moping. Why so down in the
mouth? If he could not go ashore at Constantinople
the little episode would come to an end to-morrow when the
Frenchman landed; and if he were allowed to go ashore there
was good business to look forward to. Either alternative
had its bright side.

That night we passed the island of Lemnos on the north.
It was there that Hephæstos, the god of fire, fell when hurled
down from heaven by the wrath of Father Zeus. It was
there, too, that the Greek heroes assembled before setting out
against Troy, in the days when it was an international affair
if a lady of high birth eloped with another man. The
inhabitants remained neutral during these wars, and arranged
the exchange of war-prisoners in a remarkably simple fashion
by buying and reselling them. During the World War the
naval forces of the Western Powers assembled there, using
the island as a base for the attempts to capture the Straits.

At three o’clock in the morning of Monday, June 8th, we
entered the Dardanelles. The low, hilly country on either side
looked strangely deserted and still in the grey dawn, without
any people or boats; one has no feeling of being on the
thoroughfare between two continents, where the great routes
from the sea and the fertile lands meet. South of the entrance
lay Troy, in bygone days the guardian of the straits, commanding
the traffic and the valuable trade that passed through
them, as Byzantium and Constantinople did afterwards.
Yonder, on the plain by windy Troy, Homer’s heroes fought
their battles in sight of the gods.

The skies became roseate as we glided in through the
curving Hellespont. How strangely nature has formed this
strait, with the long Gallipoli peninsula on the north stretching
out to the south-west from Europe, and laying itself along the
coast of Asia to make this long, narrow waterway; whereas
it would have been an infinitely shorter way for the channel
to have cut through the root of the tongue farther to the
north.

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