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´╗┐Title: The Circassian Chief - A Romance of Russia
Author: Kingston, William Henry Giles, 1814-1880
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Circassian Chief - A Romance of Russia" ***

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The Circassian Chief, by W.H.G. Kingston.

________________________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________________________
THE CIRCASSIAN CHIEF, BY W.H.G. KINGSTON.

Volume 1, Chapter I.

Between the ancient and modern capitals of Russia, a fine broad road now
affords an easy communication, although, but a few years ago, the
traveller who would journey from one city to the other, was compelled to
proceed at a slow pace, along a wild track, over rough stony ground,
through swamps, under dark forests, and across bleak and unsheltered
plains.

The sun had already begun his downward course towards the more happy,
and free lands of the far West, shedding forth his summer rays on the
heads of two horsemen, who pursued their way in a southerly direction,
along the yet unimproved part of the road, to which we have alluded.
Their pace, as the nature of the ground over which they travelled
required, was slow--their attention being chiefly occupied in guiding
their steeds between the many deep ruts and cavities, which lay in their
path.

The tone of their voices, their noble bearing, and general appearance,
bespoke them at a glance, to belong to a station far above the common
rank of life.  They were dressed alike, in a half military uniform;
their arms consisting solely of pistols, and heavy riding whips the
latter even no despicable weapon when wielded by a strong arm.

The travellers might have been taken for brothers, but that the dark
flashing eye, black hair, clear olive-complexion, and regular Grecian
features of the one, offered too great a contrast to the laughing blue
eye, light complexion and hair of the other, whose features, though
inferior to those of his companion, were not deficient in manly beauty.
There appeared to be scarcely any difference in their ages, both having
emerged from boyhood, into that joyous time of life, when the man has
completely shaken off what he then considers the irksome trammels of his
childish days; happily, unconscious how soon in their stead, advancing
years may too probably bring around him the many cares, and
disappointments that flesh is doomed to bear, from manhood to the grave.

The last mentioned of the two wayfarers, was in reality, however, the
elder; although the light laugh he occasionally indulged in, and his
debonair manner, gave him a younger look, than his more serious
companion.  They were followed at a short distance by a most primitive
looking, low, square vehicle, containing their baggage; drawn by a
shaggy little pony, and driven by a man almost as rough looking and
unpolished as the animal itself.  A low crowned, broad-brimmed hat of
felt, covered a head of sandy hair, while a huge long beard of the same
hue hung down upon his breast: the twinkle of his light grey eye, and a
smile on his lips, giving a good humoured expression to his flat, and
otherwise unmeaning features.

His dress consisted of a long coat of coarse cloth, buckled round the
waist by a leathern belt, and boots of the latter material, untanned,
reaching just above his ankles.  He urged on his little animal, as fast
as it could travel, over the rugged road, whistling, as he lashed his
whip, and whirled it round his head--his thoughts evidently not
extending beyond his immediate occupation.

The scenery through which the road led, was probably as dreary and
uninteresting as any to be found in Russia; a country, which can boast
of but few natural beauties, throughout its widely extended territory.
It ranged over a landscape, as far as the eye could reach, consisting of
a dry uncultivated plain, with here and there, a few clumps of stunted
trees struggling into existence upon the arid and ungrateful soil--fit
emblems of the miserable, and enslaved peasantry of the country.

The travellers had continued on their course through scenery equally
unpicturesque for some distance, when gradually it began to improve,
exhibiting a greater number of trees, and a brighter verdure.  A
proposal was then made by one of them, to which the other readily
assented; this was to urge forward the driver of their baggage-cart,
with his charge to Tver, a town they purposed resting at for the night,
while they followed at their leisure, through the forest they were
approaching.  The servant was summoned by the name of Karl, and ordered
to proceed with as much speed as his weary beast was capable of, in
order to secure a lodging and to prepare supper, the materials for which
he carried, together with their bedding for the night--a necessary
precaution, the inns at the small towns in Russia, affording very
miserable accommodation.

Karl signified his comprehension of the order and willingness to obey
it, by a few guttural sounds, and several low bends of the neck; when
flourishing his long whip, he bestowed a few additional lashes on the
flanks of the pony, who reluctantly started into a trot, dragging the
rude little vehicle over ruts and stones after a most uncomfortable
fashion.

The cavaliers then followed quietly on, at the slow pace which the heat
of a warm spring day made most agreeable, each occupied with his own
thoughts; those of the younger of the two appearing to be rather of a
sombre hue, as occasionally a shade of melancholy would pass across his
expressive features; while, at other times, his bright eye would kindle
with animation, and his lip would curl, as if some strong feelings were
working within his bosom.  His friend, however, endeavoured to amuse
himself, and to enliven the journey with snatches of gay French songs,
which he carolled forth in a rich, clear, and cheerful voice; and he now
and then broke into a merry laugh.  At length, weary apparently of his
own thoughts, he exclaimed--

"Thank Heaven, Ivan, my friend, that we are for ever free from dull and
laborious studies, and those odious college drills.  Bah!  I have so
worn out my eyes and the small portion of brains I was ever endowed
with, by reading, I will not look into a book for a year to come.  We
shall have no more of those sham fights, but henceforth may expect every
day to be called upon to engage in the honour and glory of real warfare.
What say you, Ivan, does not your pulse beat with quicker throbs in
anticipation of the glorious scenes of battle and conquest, which we may
soon find ourselves engaged in?  What say you, shall we flesh our maiden
swords in the carcases of the turbaned infidels of Turkey?  They are
said to be no despicable enemies to contend with; or if perchance our
regiment should be out of favour at head-quarters, we may be sent to try
our mettle against the mountain barbarians of the Caucasus.  I hear that
there is enough of hard fighting with them; more perhaps than is at all
times agreeable.  It is said, indeed, that the Emperor considers a
campaign in the Caucasus an excellent field for the display of the
military talents of those, whose ideas of that phantom called `Liberty'
do not exactly coincide with his own.  If such be the case, I shall not
be much surprised if we some day receive an intimation that our valuable
services are required to strengthen his armies in that distant and
savage part of the globe.  What say you, Ivan, to this notion?  Do you
not eagerly long to be wielding your sword against the savage hordes of
those unchristianised barbarians of Circassia?"

The brow of Ivan had contracted during these observations, which were
uttered in a light, careless tone, and he had several times attempted to
interrupt his friend; now, that the latter had concluded, he indignantly
exclaimed:

"I thought you knew me better, Thaddeus, than to make a proposition of
that nature to me.  Never will I unsheathe my sword to aid the cause of
tyranny and injustice--such vile work I leave to slaves and hirelings.
Should Russia herself be assailed, most willingly would I shed my blood
for her defence, as in such a glorious struggle as that when she so
gallantly beat back the aspiring conqueror of Europe from her
territories; but never will I lend my arm to assist in subjugating a
free and independent people, over whom she has not even the shadow of a
right to claim command.  Rather would I break my weapon into fragments,
and forswear all hope of advancement in the world."

A smile was rising on the lips of Thaddeus at this sudden declaration of
principles, so unusual in Russia; but it was quickly checked on his
perceiving the stern expression of his friend's countenance.

"Can you yourself, Thaddeus, not feel for the oppressed?"  Ivan went on
to say; "you, whose native land has so grievously suffered from the
power of Russia; you, who have such deep cause to rue the tyranny of her
iron sway!  Then, as you love me, never again give utterance to the
subject you have so thoughtlessly touched upon, for it is one on which I
cannot trust my feelings."

"I spoke but in jest," answered the other, "and most sincerely do I
applaud your sentiments; but alas!  I fear the principles you profess,
when put in practice, will answer but badly in this country, and are
such as it is more prudent to suppress.  For my own part, I confess
that, though I have a high respect for the liberty of all men--
especially for my own, I have such an innate love of fighting, that,
provided an opportunity offer of exercising my propensity, I care little
in what cause I draw my sword."

"For shame, Thaddeus!" cried Ivan, indignantly.  "I blush to hear one,
whom I call my friend, and who I trusted was formed for nobler purposes,
confess himself ready to become the willing tool of a despot; for to
this does your declaration amount."

Thaddeus laughed, and gave a shrug of his shoulders, as he replied--

"Your emancipation from college, my dear Ivan, has, in truth,
wonderfully expanded the liberality of your sentiments; and it is indeed
fortunate that the idea had not there occurred to you of giving lectures
on the rights and independence of man; they would have wonderfully
edified your hearers among the cadets, and made most admirable subjects
and soldiers of them for the Emperor; but your exertions in the cause of
liberty would not have gained you much credit in higher quarters."

"Your foolish bantering," answered the excited Ivan, "is but a poor
apology for your want of liberal principles.  Nor am I the madman you
wish to make me appear.  You well know how much I detested the thraldom
in which we were kept at college, and that I pursued my studies with
redoubled efforts and perseverance, in order to emancipate myself as
soon as possible from that irksome and hated state.  To you, as a tried
and only friend, I have now opened my mind, trusting to have had a
hearer who would cordially agree in my sentiments; but it appears that I
have been grievously mistaken, and I have learned a bitter lesson--to
trust in no living soul!"

The tones of the speaker's voice shewed that his anger had risen to such
a degree, that a reply in the former bantering strain would probably
have caused a breach in the friendship of the two young men.  Thaddeus,
therefore, wisely endeavoured to calm his friend's anger by
acknowledging the justness of his sentiments, and by promising to adopt
them himself if possible, when suddenly their attention was roused by a
sound, which seemed like a human voice shrieking for help, as from a
distance the breeze conveyed it faintly to their ears.  They had now
entered an extensive tract of open forest, the trees generally scattered
over the ground at some distance from each other, yet in many places
clustering together, surrounded by dense masses of thick and tangled
underwood.

The young men seemed mutually to have banished the feelings raised by
their late warm discussion, and instantly urged their horses at full
speed in the direction whence they fancied the sound had proceeded, when
a second faint cry, though appearing to come from a greater distance,
assured them that they were following the right course.

Their horses were greatly impeded by the rough and uncertain nature of
the ground, and often they were obliged to make them leap over the furze
and straggling underwood, at the risk of descending into some unseen
cavity, or of plunging into a morass.  Notwithstanding the numerous
obstacles, they hurried on at increased speed, eager to render their
assistance; for they were confident that the piercing cry they had heard
must have been uttered by a woman in distress.  They were just emerging
from a clump of trees among which they had been entangled, when again
the cry was heard, loud and distinct, and at that instant they caught
sight of two horsemen galloping among the trees, one of whom bore a
female in his arms; these were followed by two men on foot running at
full speed.  It was the work of some few minutes before they could
disengage themselves from the thickets and brushwood, a delay which
afforded the party ahead of them an opportunity of increasing their
distance; but, urging their horses with whip and spur over every
obstacle, and gaining the more clear around, they ere long overtook the
men on foot, who, seeing their rapid approach, shouted loudly to their
companions to return to their support.  The latter, however, in lieu of
turning to render assistance, redoubled their speed, intent upon escape,
and regardless of the loud cries of their overtaken followers.  These,
finding escape impossible, rushed forward to seize the bridles of their
pursuers' horses, but were so effectually attacked by the heavy whips of
the two cavaliers, that they were fain, not only to loose their hold,
but were completely disabled from following.

Having thus got rid of these antagonists, the two friends set off in
pursuit of the mounted ruffians, who were forcibly carrying away the
female; her continued cries for assistance, indicating the track they
had taken.

The scene had become highly exciting.  Before them lay an open forest
glade, and it was now a trial of speed.  The noble animals urged to
their utmost, dashed onwards, appearing to partake of the feelings which
animated their riders.

The ravishers, on the near approach of their pursuers, turned on their
saddles, each levelling a pistol at his selected man; these, fearful of
wounding the female, would not venture to use their arms.  The
unencumbered horseman discharged his pistol at Thaddeus, as the latter
approached; but, at the speed they rode, the aim was uncertain, and the
ball flew wide of its mark; before the villain had time to use a second,
the young Pole struck him on the head with the butt-end of his whip,
with so powerful and well directed a blow, as to force him from the
saddle, from which he fell heavily to the earth.

At the same moment, his companion, on Ivan's attempting to seize his
horse's bridle, aimed a pistol at his breast; but that movement leaving
his victim free, she quickly disengaged her arm from the folds of the
cloak which shrouded her, and struck aside the barrel of the weapon
levelled at her rescuer; the impulse, though feeble, was sufficient to
divert its deadly aim; the ball nevertheless grazed Ivan's side.  The
latter succeeded, notwithstanding, in grasping the bridle of his
antagonist's horse, and the same delicate hand which had but a moment
previously, in all probability saved his life, promptly snatched the
pistol yet remaining in the ruffian's belt, and cast it to the ground.

The man who had fired at Ivan, was now obliged to defend himself, and
was accordingly compelled to relax his hold of the girl, who, when
falling from the saddle, was fortunately caught by Thaddeus.  The latter
had thrown himself from his horse to prevent her sustaining any serious
injury, which, closely engaged as Ivan was with his adversary, he had no
power to avert.

Giddy from the pain of his wound, and loss of blood, Ivan loosened his
grasp of the rein he had seized; this being perceived by his antagonist,
he plunged his spurs into his horse's flanks, and dashed off at headlong
speed into the depths of the forest, where pursuit was entirely useless.

The young men, left victors of the field, now turned their attention to
the fair creature whom their gallantry had so opportunely rescued; and
well did the extreme beauty of her form and features merit the looks of
surprise and admiration with which they regarded her.

Her appearance was indeed unusual, and though they saw at once, that she
was not one of the exalted and proud ones of the land, they internally
confessed, that she was well worthy of that distinction.  The agitation
of the scene had caused the rich blood to mantle on her brow and
beautifully oval cheeks, the complexion of which was of a clear, though
slightly tinted olive, while her large sparkling black eyes, moist with
tears, were now beaming with a look of gratitude, as bending on her
knees, she attempted to kiss the hands of her deliverers, who prevented
her from paying them this homage.  Her glossy black locks, bound by a
silver fillet on her high and polished brow, were uncovered, and hung
down in long ringlets on her neck, nearly reaching to her slender waist.
A light blue cloak thrown over her shoulders, and a vest and petticoat
of red cloth trimmed with silver, completed her fantastic, but elegant
and rich attire.

The character of her strange costume, and her dark expressive features,
proclaimed her to be of that extraordinary race now wandering over the
greater part of the old world, who profess to trace their origin from
the aboriginal inhabitants of Egypt; retaining the same language and
customs from age to age, and ever keeping distinct from the people in
whose territories they pass their migratory lives.

The scene we have described, passed in the course of a few moments,
during which time the young men had become entire masters of the field;
one villain, who by his dress and manners, appeared to be of a rank far
above his companions, had fled; the other still remained senseless on
the earth, from the stunning blow Thaddeus had dealt him; while the two
men, whom they had first attacked, lay in a similar plight at a
considerable distance.

Astonishment kept her deliverers silent, as they gazed with admiration
on the Gipsy girl, for her delicate features and slight airy figure
shewed her extreme youth; she was accordingly the first to speak, when
she found herself prevented by them from expressing her feelings of
gratitude in the way she wished.

"Though you may deem, gentle Sirs, that the thanks of a humble Gipsy
girl can be but of little worth," she said, "oh! believe me, that from
the depth of my heart, I am grateful to you, for having saved me from
worse than death, for well do I know the vile nature of the man from
whom you have rescued me.  But let me entreat you, haste from hence, or
the ruffian noble who has escaped, will return with a band of his
followers trained to evil, and will thus not only render your generous
and timely aid unavailing, by again getting me into his power, but his
return may bring destruction on yourselves."

"Fear not for us;" cried Thaddeus, "for your sake, lovely maiden, we
would face a hundred foes; and think not that such an arrant coward, as
yonder villain has shewn himself to be, can make us hurry our departure.
If he be even one of the most powerful of the land, we fear him not."

"He is wicked and powerful enough to commit his crimes with impunity,"
answered the Gipsy girl; "let me pray you earnestly, therefore, to
complete the benefit you have rendered me, and to follow my advice by
hastening from hence; for I feel confident, that he will endeavour to
revenge himself on you, for your interference in my favour, and will
return shortly with a greater number of men than you could possibly
resist."

"You speak truly, I believe," said Ivan, "and we shall do well to follow
your advice."

"You are always in the right, Ivan," answered Thaddeus, "so I suppose we
may beat a retreat after our victory, without dishonour, when an
overpowering force threatens us."

"Oh! yes!--yes!" exclaimed the liberated girl, "hasten from hence; and
believe me, there is not a moment to be lost.  Yet, grant me but the one
favour more, of allowing my kindred and friends to return you those
thanks which my words cannot fully convey."

"We will, at all events, see you in safety," answered Ivan, "and, at
your desire, we will avoid the chance of meeting your enemies, however
little we have reason to fear them."

They accordingly prepared to quit the scene of their encounter, and Ivan
was about to offer to raise the fairy-like form of the Gipsy girl on his
horse, when the slight exertion he made, caused the blood to flow more
freely from his side, and she caught sight of the red stream trickling
down, which he himself had not observed, for the pain was but slight,
and the excitement of action had diverted his attention from it.  The
colour for an instant deserted her cheek, as taking a light scarf from
under her cloak, she petitioned him to allow her to bind his wound.
"You are hurt, Sir," she exclaimed, "and I am the unhappy cause of the
injury.  My tribe have some skill in surgery: even I myself have
received instruction in the art from an aged woman learned in simples,
and thus think me not bold in making the offer, but as the slightest
mark of my gratitude, let me be allowed to heal the wound I have been
the cause of your receiving."

Ivan thankfully accepted her aid, as with gentleness she quickly bound
his side with the scarf, for the pain had now considerably increased.
While thus engaged, they perceived the two villains whom they had left
senseless on the earth, cautiously endeavouring to steal upon them,
crouching as they advanced among the low thickets; and at the same time
the man who had been felled from his horse, shewed signs of returning
animation.  Thaddeus humanely placed the body of the latter reclining
against a tree, having wrested from him his weapons, which he cast,
together with such as lay on the ground, to a distance, amongst the
underwood.  The Gipsy girl had just completed her task, when the horse
belonging to their prostrate enemy, after ranging the glade in a wide
circle, without however going out of sight, now approached the spot he
had first left, as if in search of his master: with the rapidity of
thought she sprung forward, and catching the animal's bridle, lightly
vaulted on his back without any apparent effort, merely touching the
saddle to steady herself in her perilous feat.

"Now, for the love of the God you worship," she exclaimed, "ride on,
noble Sirs, nor care for me.  We children of the Desert are early
accustomed to far more difficult feats than this, and without danger, I
can retain my seat on a more spirited steed than the one which now bears
me."

The young men, following her example, had mounted their horses, and on
her pointing out with her hand the road they were to take, the party set
off at full speed, though the former were compelled to apply their spurs
closely in order to keep pace with the less fatigued steed of their
beautiful and extraordinary guide.  She, avoiding the thick tangled part
of the forest, which had before impeded them, conducted them by a more
circuitous way, but over smooth open ground, and at a much greater speed
than they had been able to attain when hurrying to her rescue, until
they regained the high road, which they crossed, and plunged into the
adjoining forest.  Suddenly checking her horse, she then addressed
them--

"Fear gave me the fleetness of the timid hare; but truly ungrateful must
I appear, through my own weakness, in forgetting that one of my generous
preservers is suffering severe pain.  Oh, pardon me, for my fault,
caused by the dread of a danger which you are now unable to understand."

Ivan assured her that his wound inconvenienced him so little, that he
was able to continue at the same swift pace, if she thought it
advisable; she again resumed the lead, though not quite so rapidly as
before.

"Your horses are fatigued," she said, as they rode onwards, "and the day
is so far spent, that it will be after nightfall ere you can reach any
shelter, and I fear that, before long, a storm will burst over our
heads: yon black cloud is but the forerunner of others."

As she spoke, she pointed to an opening among the trees, through which
were seen dense masses of clouds fast gathering on the sky.  "If you
despise not the humble shelter of a gipsy tent, you will there be
treated to the best of our means, for the people of my tribe, though
rough and fierce in aspect, will vie with each other in shewing their
attention and devotion to those who have rescued one of their daughters
from peril."

A determination not to leave the young Gipsy, until they had escorted
her to a place of safety, added to a natural feeling of curiosity to
learn something of the beautiful creature whom chance had introduced to
them under such exciting circumstances, prompted both Ivan and Thaddeus
to accept her offer of hospitality without hesitation.

Although but a few minutes previously, the sky over head had been bright
and clear, the storm which their guide had predicted, now threatened to
overtake them, as the heavens became overcast with a dark canopy of
clouds.

Once more pressing their jaded horses, they galloped on for several
miles, scarcely noticing the nature of the country through which they
passed, until they arrived at a spot so thickly wooded as to render a
passage impracticable.  Their conductress, however, advancing a little
to the right, led them along a path formed apparently by the hand of
nature, through a narrow entrance, winding in various directions, and
widening as they proceeded, till they suddenly emerged into a sylvan
amphitheatre carpeted with soft green turf.  In one part of the
wood-encircled glade, arose a group of tents, surrounded by waggons;
whilst horses and other cattle tethered hard by, were browsing on the
luxuriant pasture.

The approach of the party was immediately announced by the loud barking
of several large shaggy dogs, who rushed forward with open jaws,
prepared to attack all intruders; but no sooner did the savage animals
hear the silvery tone of the guide's voice, than their angry growl was
changed into a cry of joy, as leaping up they fawned on her, and
endeavoured to gain her caresses.  They were quickly recalled by a man
who issued from the shelter of the waggons, armed with a long gun; he,
on recognising the Gipsy maiden advanced without any parley, to hold her
horse's rein, as she dismounted, springing lightly on the turf.  A
shrill whistle from him brought out two rough looking little urchins,
who, at his sign, ran quickly forward to perform the same office for the
strangers.

After exchanging a few words with the attendant, in a language
unintelligible to Ivan and Thaddeus, their guide led the way towards a
tent, which, from its size appeared to be the principal in the
encampment: like the rest it was formed of skins neatly sewn together,
affording a secure shelter from the weather.

In front stood a tall well-built man, whose dark elf locks escaping from
beneath a sheep-skin cap, gave him somewhat of a ferocious appearance,
which, however, his full and sparkling black eye, and the laughing curl
of his lips fully belied.  His dress consisted of a cloth jacket
confined at the waist by a leathern belt, and full trousers with
leggings of untanned leather.  He gazed with a look of astonishment at
the intruders, then at their conductress, from whom he seemed to ask for
an explanation, as she hastened to meet him with an air of affection.
Folding her in his arms with a fond and gentle embrace, after exchanging
a few words in a hurried and low tone of voice, he stepped up to where
the strangers stood, and grasping their hands, pressed them to his
heart.

"The preservers of my daughter," he said, addressing them in Russian,
"are thrice welcome to my humble tent, and it will be my aim, and that
of all the tribe, of which I am the head, to show to the utmost our
gratitude for the benefit conferred upon us.  Think not, noble Sirs,
that, though the world accuses us of many vices, ingratitude is one with
which we can be justly charged.  But see! while I thus detain you the
storm is about to burst, and my tent will at least afford you shelter
from its fury, though it be destitute of the luxuries to which you are
accustomed."

Heavy drops of rain had now commenced falling; the wind whistled
mournfully through the boughs of the trees, which became wildly agitated
by the sudden blast, while vivid flashes of lightning darted from the
heavens, and played around their heads.

"Will you deign, noble Sirs, to enter the only abode I can call my own,"
said the Gipsy chief, leading the way to his tent; "a very changeable
one in truth; but wherever my tent is pitched, there shall my friends be
welcome."

Saying which, he arrived at the entrance of the principal tent, while
his daughter, making a sign of respect to his guests, withdrew to a
neighbouring one.

Volume 1, Chapter II.

The travellers had full reason to congratulate themselves on escaping
the torrents of rain now rushing down from the thick-gathered clouds, as
they followed the Gipsy chief into his tent, the interior of which
seemed to afford better accommodation than its outward appearance had
promised.  About midway, a curtain stretching the whole width of the
tent, now drawn up, exposed the whole of the interior at one view; but
on being unfolded, formed two distinct apartments.  The furniture was of
the most simple description, consisting merely of several large chests,
on which were piled various rolls of skins and blankets, and a few
stools and benches.  At one end, suspended against the sides of the
tent, hung a variety of kitchen utensils in the highest state of polish;
at the other, fire-arms of different sizes and workmanship,
powder-flasks, and shot-belts, and hunting-knives, picturesquely mingled
with the produce of the chase.  There were also several planks intended
for tables, beds, or for seats.  The ground was hidden from view by a
warm and soft carpet of skins; the selection of the spot was judicious,
for, being raised slightly above the surrounding land, it remained
perfectly dry, notwithstanding the flood of rain outside.

The only inmate of the tent, when the party entered, was a handsome
woman, whom the Gipsy introduced to the strangers as his wife.  She was
busily employed in some housewifery occupation, which she quitted to
receive the visitors, assuming an air which would not have disgraced a
high-born lady, and then proceeded to prepare the evening repast.

A couple of chests were brought forward, upon which they laid a platform
of boards, forming an excellent table: this was quickly covered with an
abundance of cold provisions, fowls and game of various kinds, coarse
but sweet bread, and a bottle of Quass, the common beverage of the
country, manufactured from malt; nor were more potent spirits wanting to
cheer the guests.

Their host requested the young men to be seated at the table, while he
and his wife attended to their wants, nor would he be prevailed upon to
join them in their repast.  "It behoves us," he replied, "to wait on
you, while our tent is honoured by your presence; and I pray you, Sirs,
to excuse my daughter Azila's absence, she has retired among the other
maidens of the tribe, to rest awhile after the fatigue her looks too
clearly betray she has suffered.  I confess I am still ignorant of the
details of her adventure; it was sufficient at first for me to know that
you had conferred a benefit on one so dear to me.

"Her protracted absence had, indeed, given me anxiety, as she had not
told me of her intention to quit the camp; but at the same time I do not
interfere with her movements, which are often unknown to any of the
tribe, and she is accustomed to go and return unquestioned.  Azila is
indeed a strange girl, and few can match her in understanding, or
resolution; I well know that she has always just reasons for her
frequent excursions from the camp, and that her exertions are in the
cause of justice and humanity, so I do not seek to inquire into more
than what she herself thinks right to tell me; I know well that I can
trust her."

Although their host's features and manner evidently exhibited his
anxiety to learn all that had occurred, his hospitality would not permit
his guests to speak of their adventure until the repast was finished;
when they recounted the events which led to their liberation of his
daughter.  While they were speaking, the object of their conversation
entered the tent, and approaching her father, reverently kissed his
hand, then bowing to his guests, with arms crossed on her bosom she
stood with downcast eyes by his side.  The father gazed on her with
looks of affection, while the young men could scarcely conceal their
admiration.

"Can this retiring, modest creature," thought Ivan, "be the same who, so
short a time since, proved herself endowed with so much courage and
resolution?"

Neither of the two friends could, for some time, find words to address
her, for they felt that terms of flattery and compliment would be
despised by one so superior; her father, however, relieved them from
their embarrassment.

"Now that our guests have tasted of our food, and drunk from our cup, I
may ask of you, my child, an explanation of the circumstances that
preceded your rescue.  I burn to know who has dared to commit such an
outrage on one of the children of the Zingani; whoever he be, he shall
not escape the punishment due to his villainy."

A blush mantled on the cheek of the Gipsy girl as she answered, "Alas!
my father, I fear that my enemy is too powerful and cautious, for you to
be able to punish him, and there are circumstances which have lately
occurred to me, I would fain have hidden even from you, had not he of
whom I am about to speak, carried his persecution to so flagrant an
extent.  My story is a long one; but at your desire I will relate it,
entreating my brave defenders will pardon a poor maiden for her
hesitation in recounting events which have caused her much pain.

"During one of my last visits to Moscow, when our encampment was formed
in its vicinity, I one day joined a party of the daughters of another
tribe of our people, to one of whom I had matters to communicate.  They
were dancing and singing in the public gardens to crowds of admiring
citizens, who were enjoying their evening's recreation after the toils
of the day.  As we moved from place to place, I observed a person
intently observing me, who I fancied had, during the day, been watching
and following me; and him I now distinguished from the crowd by his
handsome dress, and the disdain with which he regarded all around him.
As I moved on with my companions he still followed us, till at length
weary, doubtless, of viewing the same dances, and hearing the same
songs, he disappeared from the gardens, and I then concluded that I had
been mistaken in my suspicions.  The evening was far advanced when,
having parted from my companions, I set out alone to return to the
encampment, and in seeking to reach it by a shorter path, I found myself
in a secluded walk.  Hastening along, I was suddenly confronted by a
stranger whom I immediately recognised as the same, who had previously
watched my movements in the gardens.  As I endeavoured to pass him
unnoticed, he seized my arm with a rude grasp, and exclaimed:

"`Ah! have I at last found you, my fair damsel, for whom I have been
searching so many long days?  Often have I seen you, but until now never
gained an opportunity of declaring my sentiments.  I am the Count
Erintoff!  My carriage is waiting near, and will soon transport you
beyond the reach of those who have interested motives in detaining you
among them.'

"I cannot repeat all the arguments he used to persuade me to accompany
him, or the terms of flattery and base offers he made.  I treated them
all with the disdain they deserved.  When he pronounced his name, I
recollected that I had heard he was notorious for many vices, even among
those of his own rank, with whom virtue is too seldom practised, or
prized.

"`Unhand me, Sir,' I exclaimed; `I will no longer listen to you, but
would pursue my way to my friends.'

"`Ah, my scornful beauty,' he answered with a laugh, `not so fast I pray
you; if prayers avail not, I must e'en use gentle force to compel you to
accept advantages you would so foolishly reject; though not for the
universe would I injure you.  Here, knaves!' summoning to the spot by
their various names, some of the vile assistants in his crimes.

"Seeing his servants hastily advancing, I struggled in his grasp, and
managed by a sudden effort to break from his hold; when darting along
the road, without once looking back, I reached the camp, panting and
breathless.  This outrage remained concealed within my own bosom, for I
well knew that the least hint would cause many to take more than ample
revenge for the insult I had received.  Having sustained no actual
injury, and trusting that he would desist from any further persecution
of me, I was unwilling to bring any of my tribe into danger, by
interfering with so powerful an adversary.

"Alas!  I was doomed to be too soon again exposed to his vile projects!
This morning, I had gone forth from the camp with Aza, Lina, and other
of our maidens, accompanied by many of the children, to enjoy our
pastime in the woods, when in the midst of our sport, after chasing each
other among the trees, I became separated from the rest.  I heard the
laughter of my companions as they retreated, but owing to the closeness
of the trees, I could not distinguish their figures; at that moment, a
cry was raised by the children, that they had seen a stranger in the
wood.  I hurried away as rapidly as possible to rejoin the party, when
on a sudden, I was seized by two men, who had sprung from a neighbouring
thicket.  In an instant, before I could recover from the alarm of their
assault, they threw a handkerchief over my head, to prevent me from
crying for assistance.  Notwithstanding my utmost resistance, they bore
me roughly forward, until they reached another thicket; when the
handkerchief being partly withdrawn from my eyes, I beheld a man on
horseback, whose features were shrouded in his large cloak, attended by
another holding the rein of a led horse.  They endeavoured to persuade
me to mount it, but I resolutely refused to stir from the spot; nothing
they said could induce me, when the cloaked horseman losing patience at
the delay, seized me round the waist, placed me on the saddle before
him, and bidding one of his followers mount the led horse, bore me off
at fall speed.  Catching a glimpse of my captor's countenance, to my
horror I discovered that I was in the power of the Count Erintoff.  The
dreadful recollection now flashed across my mind, that we were in the
neighbourhood of one of his estates; and I exerted my utmost strength to
escape from his grasp, careless of falling to the ground in the attempt;
but he held me firmly, protesting, that he loved me to distraction, and
that nothing mortal should deliver me from him; while he threatened
deadly vengeance against any who should dare to make the attempt.

"I could only vent my anger and terror in loud cries for assistance,
having succeeded in withdrawing the bandage from my mouth, nor could he
replace it, though the advantage offered me but slender hopes of my
cries being heard.

"Thus was I forced away for a considerable distance, in utter despair of
being liberated, when I was gallantly rescued by these noble gentlemen
at the hazard of their lives.  Oh, believe me, Sirs," she added, "that
the Zingani maiden can never, while life endure, be unmindful of the
great benefit you have bestowed on her."

At this recital, the eye of the Gipsy chief flashed with indignation;
"The audacious barbarian," he exclaimed, "shall rue his vile attempt,
though happily rendered abortive; nor shall his high rank protect him!
Can he not be content to tyrannise over the hapless slaves already in
his power, but that he must seek for fresh victims among our tribe?
Does he mistake us for the wretched serfs who till his lands?  He has
yet to learn that the Zingani are not of their base caste.  But, Azila,
my child! what causes thy sudden agitation?"

"See, see, my father," she cried, pointing to Ivan, who overcome by
fatigue and the pain of his wound, was falling to the ground, when the
Gipsy sprang forward and caught him in his arms.  "Alas," cried Azila,
with an agitated voice, "how ungrateful indeed I have been, and
neglectful of him who risked his life to save me, that I should forget
he had been wounded! but I will haste and conduct Hagar hither, who will
tend him with greater skill than I can, though not with more care."
Azila had scarcely left the tent when Ivan returned to consciousness, as
he reclined in his friend's arms, Thaddeus having relieved the Gipsy of
his charge.

"He will soon be restored by the care of our venerable mother, Hagar,"
said the chief; "for there are few in this country so well acquainted as
she is with the healing art."  As he spoke, the person mentioned entered
the tent, accompanied by Azila.

Her locks were blanched, and her form bowed down by the weight of many
years; yet though her skin was wrinkled and tawny, the fire of her dark
expressive eye seemed unquenched.  "Mother," said Azila, "as you love
your child, exercise your utmost skill in the healing art, by recovering
this stranger, who has been wounded in my defence; by your help I know
that he may be speedily restored to health."

"Child," replied the sybil, "the power of healing belongs alone to the
great spirit who guards our tribe, and I am but his poor servant, ready
to use the means he places in my hands; these will I gladly employ to
cure this stranger, though by his looks, I judge that quiet and repose
are the remedies most needful for him."

Such indeed was the case, and in compliance with the old woman's
request, the Gipsy's wife busied herself in preparing the tent for the
night.  The curtain alluded to, as intended to separate it into two
chambers, was lowered, while, a bundle of skins and blankets being
unrolled, a couch was quickly spread on the planks and chests, which had
previously composed the table.  Thither Ivan was soon conveyed in the
arms of his friend and their host, the rest of the family having quitted
the tent, with the exception of Hagar, who proceeded to examine the
wound; the Gipsy meanwhile preparing a second couch, which he begged
Thaddeus would occupy.  The old woman, having completed her inspection
of the hurt, and desiring the sufferer to remain perfectly quiet until
her return, left the tent to procure the curative simples necessary to
dress it.

Placing a lamp on the ground in the centre of the tent, the Gipsy chief,
ere he parted from his guests, thus addressed them:

"Rest in perfect security, noble Sirs.  I am about to perform the rounds
of the encampment, to place trusty men on the watch, in case the
ruffians, who have this day attempted so vile an outrage on my daughter,
should be excited by revenge at her liberation to attack us under cover
of the night.  I scarcely deem them possessed of sufficient courage to
venture on so bold a project; but their leader is capable of any
atrocity; and in this land, where the rich and powerful are above the
law, he relies on escaping with impunity, however flagrant the injury
committed against the poor and humble.  The wandering life we lead
teaches us caution; but on my well-trained dogs I can place most
reliance in case of a sudden assault, for they never slumber on their
posts."  With a respectful salutation, he then quitted the tent.

Left alone with his friend, Thaddeus endeavoured to enter into
conversation on the occurrences of the day; but Ivan, overcome by the
pain of his wound, replied in so faint and languid a voice, as plainly
shewed that he was in no state to answer his observations.  He
accordingly stepped noiselessly to the entrance of the tent, and gazed
on the wild and unusual scene which lay before him.  The storm had now
passed away, leaving the dark blue sky in unobscured splendour, spangled
with millions of glittering stars, which appeared to have derived a
brighter lustre, as if burnished by the rolling of the dark clouds, or
sparkling in triumph at the rapid flights of their sable adversaries.

A crescent moon threw a silvery light on the topmost boughs of the
forest trees, whose giant shadows lay stretched in calm repose across
the verdant glade.

At times he could perceive dark figures emerging from the shade, and
flitting through the moon-light, again to be lost in the gloom, like
uneasy spirits wandering in search of rest; but which he concluded were
either parties returning to their tents, or the patrols on duty in the
camp.

Thus he stood for some time wrapt in meditation, when suddenly he
started at the apparition of a figure which, issuing noiselessly from
the obscurity, was within a few paces of him ere it was observed.  He
instantly recognised Hagar, as she advanced, leaning on her staff, and
bearing in her hand a small basket.  Her white locks, hanging in
disorder over her wrinkled and care-worn brow, caused her to resemble
one of the weird sisters bent on midnight evil, rather than a minister
of good, hastening to relieve a human being.

The young Pole might be excused if a tinge of superstitious distrust
crossed his mind, and he hesitated to commit his wounded friend to the
care of so strange a leech; but quickly banishing his doubts, he led the
way into the tent.  Kneeling by Ivan's couch the aged Hagar gently
withdrew the scarf, which Azila had applied as a bandage, and washing
the wound with a decoction of herbs contained in her basket, again
swathed it in linen.  During the operation, she had continued muttering
to herself, regardless whether her patient or his friend were listening,
in the following strain:

"Aye, aye, too clearly do I see how it will be, and thus it has ever
been!  Slight wounds oft pierce far deeper than mortal eyes can see; and
young hearts fear not the weapon that destroys them, but bare their
bosoms to the stroke!  Aye, my child, my loved one! bound nearer to my
heart than my own offspring, may thy generous and noble heart have no
cause to rue the wound this stranger youth has this day received in thy
cause!  Would that I could so read thy fate, as to guard thee from evil!
Yet when I gaze on the star of thy destiny, my eyes grow dim, my
thoughts become confused, and it vanishes from my sight.  This
stranger--he will be led by a far different path to any that thou canst
follow, my child; for in this world justice will never be done thee.  He
will pursue his course among the high and mighty, and forget the Gipsy
maiden.  Or if perchance she should recur to his memory, it will be but
as a phantom of a waking dream.  Alas! far different will it be for her!
And thus much can I foresee, that his coming will work danger to my
child.  Alas! alas! though I see it impending, I know not how to prevent
it.  Full well I marked the earnest gaze she unthinkingly cast on this
gallant youth.  In that one look lay concentrated, feelings, deep,
subtle, unknown even to herself, for her thoughts were alone of
gratitude to her preservers.  Though the fate of her I love, the pride
of my bosom, and child of my tribe, is hid from my sight, no sooner did
the bright stars illumine the Heavens, than I discovered and traced the
destined course of this stranger.  Like the brilliant meteor which
darted across the firmament, unseen by any mortal eye but mine, as I
gazed but now above, I read that his course will be rapid and brilliant,
but boisterous and marked with blood, yet pure and unsullied by crime,
and leading to a high destiny.  As I contemplate these features, calm,
and composed, I mark that he is incapable of those crimes which debase
human nature.  Yes, he is worthy of her love.  May the mighty spirit who
guards our tribe, watch over and protect the preserver of my child."

When the aged sybil had concluded these obscure predictions, uttered in
a low tone of voice, as she performed her task, she poured out a cooling
draught, which she tendered to Ivan, who gladly drank it off, and again
composed himself to sleep.

Thaddeus had but a short time before thrown himself on his rude couch,
and was fast wrapped in slumber, when Hagar took her seat by his
friend's side.  Commencing in a low soothing chaunt, she continued
singing till she observed that his eyes were closely sealed in slumber.

The words she sang, or rather chaunted, were to the following effect;
but being in the Zingani language, which is known to few beyond their
own people, it is difficult to render their literal meaning; most of the
predictions she uttered whilst dressing Ivan's wound, were in the same
tongue, so that he remained perfectly ignorant of the fate she had
prophesied for him.

  Spirits, I summon ye;
      Spirits of air,
  Come round this stranger,
      Watch him with care.

  Come, come ye misty shapes,
      Whence far ye stray,
  Shunning the glaring beams
      Of the bright day.

  Come from dark Egypt's land,
      Spirits who dwell
  'Neath the vast pyramids'
      Deep hidden cell;

  And who were worshipp'd in
      Temples of old,
  When priests of stern Apis
      Men's fates foretold;

  From whence in middle earth
      Fearless ye dwell,
  Through its fierce fires,
      List to my spell.

  Come whence the northern blasts
      Furious blow,
  Fly on your whiten'd wings
      From frost and snow.

  Ye, who 'neath ocean roam,
      Through coral caves,
  Or in the sparkling foam,
      Sport o'er the waves:

  Ye, who on tempests ride,
      When the fierce blast,
  Driving the hapless bark,
      Rives the stout mast:

  Ye whose loud shriek is heard
      'Mid ocean's roar,
  When the doom'd bark is hurl'd
      On the stern shore:

  Come, come, attend my will,
  I summon all;
  Haste through the elements,
  Come at my call.

After a profound sleep of some hours, Ivan awoke with parched lips and a
feverish thirst, which he sought to allay with more of the same
refreshing beverage before presented to him.  He begged for it, and on
taking the cup, could not help fancying that the hand which offered it,
was not that of the aged nurse who had previously tended him.

He spoke, to satisfy his doubts, but receiving no answer, and drowsiness
again returning, he turned on his couch to recompose himself to sleep,
when by the dim light which now issued from the lamp, he fancied that he
saw a light airy figure gliding from the tent.  Yet fully aware of his
own feverish state, he attributed the idea to a delusion of the brain;
nor had he much time to think on the subject ere he again sank into a
sound and balmy slumber.

Volume 1, Chapter III.

Daylight was streaming brightly through the opening of the tent, when
Ivan was awakened by the cheerful voice of his host in conversation with
his friend, who had already risen.  To their inquiries, he declared
himself well nigh, if not entirely recovered, since he was able to rise
and dress without feeling any inconvenience from his wound; nor did he
consider it necessary to call in again the assistance of Hagar, so
efficacious had been her remedies.  He was soon, therefore, on his feet,
and accompanied Thaddeus and their host into the woods surrounding the
encampment; the latter carrying his gun, his constant companion he
informed them, in case any game should cross the path.

"So, my worthy host," said Thaddeus, "your camp has escaped an attack
from our enemies."

"I little feared them," answered the Gipsy, "as I considered that the
Count Erintoff, and his myrmidons lacked the courage to attack us,
however powerful his inclination to possess himself of my daughter, for
they knew that we should be prepared for them.  Let them do their worst;
we, the outcasts of society, and despised of men, fear them not.  Thus
it is, Sirs, in this unhappy country, where the haughty nobles trample
on, and oppress the soulless, and therefore helpless people; but let
them not suppose that we are of the same mould as those over whom they
tyrannise!  No, if we cannot oppose them by open force, we can summon to
our aid our wit and stratagem.

"They have to learn also that a day of dreadful retribution is at hand;
that it will come, when least they expect it.  The people will soon be
aware of their own strength, however ignorant they may now be of it, and
will then no longer submit to bear the chains of servitude, to which
they now patiently offer their necks.  But your pardon, noble Sirs, you
yourselves are of the privileged order, and it may not please you to
hear your equals thus spoken of with disrespect; though I deem you both
very different in nature from those I have described, and consequently
know that I can trust in you, or I would not thus unburden my tongue."

Ivan was surprised to hear a man, whom he imagined to be a wild,
unlettered Gipsy, give utterance to ideas so similar to those which had
been passing through his own mind; but still unwilling to express his
own sentiments to a stranger, he merely assured him that what he had
said, gave no offence, either to his friend or to himself; and he
strengthened the assurance by warmly wringing the Gipsy's hard hand as
he spoke.

Thaddeus added, as he sauntered onwards, picking the wild flowers, that
he considered it a grievous pity, that there were not a few more honest
men like him in the world; as then there would be but little to complain
of.

"Sir," answered the Gipsy, "thousands of bosoms beat with impulses
similar to my own, and wait but for the time and opportunity to free
themselves from bondage.  It will be a dreadful crisis, for what power
can place bounds to an infuriated and desperate populace, when once they
have received the frenzied impulse.  Let those, who have been the first
cause of the insurrection, attempt to quell it; it would be as vain to
hope to check the mighty torrent rushing from the before pent up
glacier, when it has burst its icy bonds.  But enough of this, Sirs.  I
warn you that even now, a storm is gathering which will ere long burst
over this country; and may you be prepared to meet the danger when it
shall come.  More I may not, dare not say, and thus much gratitude, and
the certainty that I may fully trust you, have impelled me to speak,
that you may benefit by the warning."

As they retraced their steps in silence towards the camp, Ivan's
thoughts reverted to the expressions which the Gipsy had let fall.

"And can there," he mused, "be a chance of the regeneration of this
country; when slavery shall no longer exist; and all men shall have
equal lights, and equal justice!  Oh, how ardently do I wish that I
could be instrumental in bringing about so happy a consummation!"

On their arrival, they found a repast laid out in front of the tent,
consisting of wheat cakes, and bowls of milk.  In the places assigned to
the two visitors, were laid bunches of wild flowers; that of Ivan being
distinguished by a wild rose, with the pure morning dew yet glistening
on its delicate tinted leaves.

"These flowers," said the Gipsy, "are my daughter's gift to her guests,
though she herself cannot appear before them."

They both expressed their thanks for the delicately marked attention,
and on finishing their simple, but plentiful meal, they mentioned their
wish to resume their journey to Tver.

The Gipsy chief endeavoured to prevail on them, in his rough, but open
and manly way, to tarry another day at his camp; but they excused
themselves on the plea of their servant being in waiting for them, and
Ivan declared himself fully capable of undergoing the fatigues of the
journey.

"If we may not then keep you longer with us," replied their hospitable
friend, "we will, at least, accompany you on your way as far as the
Volga; on the banks of which rapid stream, we are about to form our next
encampment, for after the occurrence of yesterday, I have deemed it
prudent to move at once."

The young men gladly accepted of his escort thus far on the road, and he
accordingly gave orders to strike the tents without delay.  The order
was obeyed most expeditiously; men, women, and children moving about
with the greatest alacrity in its execution.  Some dismantled the tents,
and rolled up their covers; others stowed their goods away in chests,
each undertaking his task according to his strength.  The different rude
vehicles used to transport the baggage were thus quickly laden, and in
the course of a few minutes, on the spot where lately the skin-covered
village stood in tranquil repose, was to be seen a moving mass of noisy
human beings; the black marks of their fires on the grass being the sole
vestiges of their transitory abode.  Two wild-looking boys, whose elf
locks hung down on their shoulders in tangled masses, and whose eyes
sparkled with intelligence, led forward the strangers' horses from a
sheltered spot, where they had been picqueted and well taken care of,
the chief of the tribe insisting himself on holding their stirrups,
while his guests mounted, as he repelled the wild-looking creatures, who
gathered round to perform the office.

Bestriding a strong built cob, which seemed fully able to perform a long
day's journey, he gave the signal, and the whole caravan was set in
motion, proceeding at as rapid a pace, as the horses could drag forward
the well piled baggage-carts.

The horsemen led the van, while Azila, the chief's wife, and some of the
more aged and feeble of the women, followed in a covered conveyance, of
rather better construction than those which conveyed the baggage; the
rest of the tribe proceeded on foot, assisting in guiding the carts and
baggage horses.

The men were in general tall, strong limbed, and dark looking, their
eyes sparkling with animation and intelligence while the wildness
prevailing in their dress and manner, with the look of careless
confidence in their countenances, shewed they were but little oppressed
with care.  The women were dressed in apparel of the most gaudy and
fantastic colours, their free and independent gait and air, being very
different from that of the inhabitants of crowded cities; their dark
complexions set off by their flashing eyes, were handsome and
expressive; and their light elastic laugh resounded through the woods,
as jest succeeded jest amongst the party.  Some beguiled the way by
singing wild and plaintive melodies, with rich and harmonious voices,
while others accompanied the singers on various instruments, which they
touched with considerable taste and execution.

The Gipsies have indeed full scope for the exercise of their musical
talents in the east of Europe, where they are invariably the chief
musicians at all feasts and festivals; whenever a fair or merry-meeting
takes place there, a number of them are to be found, and are always well
treated by the people.

As Ivan and Thaddeus rode past the several groups, the latter testified
the utmost respect for their leader's guests.

The party travelled on for several hours, halting only for a short time
to rest, till the fast-flowing stream of the majestic Volga first met
their view, rushing onward in its unimpeded course towards the east,
until it empties its mighty volume of waters into the far distant
Caspian.  Here the order was given to encamp, and a fitting spot being
selected at a short distance from the river, the whole party were soon
actively engaged in unloading the waggons, and in erecting their frail
tenements.

"My worthy friend," said Ivan, addressing their host, "time urges us to
pursue our journey, and with many thanks for your hospitality, we must
bid you farewell."

"Well, Sirs," he replied, "since it is your wish to depart from us, I
must needs yield, though I would fain have persuaded you to remain
longer among us, to have seen more of the independent wild life we lead;
yet, ere you go, there is one here, who would again assure you of her
gratitude for your timely assistance in her rescue; and, for my part,
although it may seem presumptuous in me to make the offer, yet should
you ever be in difficulty or danger, let me know of it, and I may be
perhaps able to afford you more aid, than other friends in a higher
station may be willing to effect."

Her father summoned Azila, when the maiden advanced with timid and
bashful steps, followed at a short distance by the aged Hagar, who
tottered in her walk as she came forward.

Already had the strangers paid their adieus to the Gipsy's wife, when
turning round they perceived Azila standing near them, with her arms
crossed on her bosom, and her eyes cast on the ground.

"Adieu, noble Sirs," she exclaimed in faltering tones, while tears
glistened in her eyes, which shone more brightly than before, undimmed
by those eloquent vouchers of her feelings, "the remembrance of your
gallant bearing will ever dwell in the mind of the humble Gipsy girl,
and though she may never be able to shew any other mark of her
gratitude, receive all she has to give--her deep and sincere thanks."

She bowed her head to conceal her embarrassment and agitation, and the
old Sibyl then advancing, thus addressed the strangers: "May the mighty
spirit who watches over the people of the Zingani protect you from all
dangers, for well do I foresee that you will require his all potent aid.
The strong wind bloweth on a sudden, and none can tell whence it
ariseth; so will dangers come thickly around you, nor can you foresee
from what quarters they will spring, but like the bold mariner who
steers his storm-driven bark amid rocks and quicksands to a safe port,
be prepared to meet and escape them, and you have nought to fear.  And
thou, noble youth with the dark eye," she said, turning towards Ivan,
"the cold suns of Russia shone not upon thy birth.  Thou earnest from a
far distant land, and thither thou must return, where a high and
glorious destiny awaits thee; the way will be stormy and dangerous, but
hesitate not to follow it; for last night did I read thy fate in the
starry firmament above, and it leads to what thou most desirest.  And
thou, gallant Sir," she said, addressing Thaddeus, "with the joyous eye,
and light laugh, the stars smiled when I read thy destiny, and it will
be happy.  Fare ye well! ye may never see the aged Hagar more, but
remember her words.  Farewell!"

While the Sibyl was uttering this prophetical rhapsody, with all the
fervour of action and tone, which her supposed inspiration gave her, the
tribe stood round in attentive and respectful silence; and even the
young men were so struck by her impressive manner, that they could not
resist paying more attention to her words than, perhaps, their judgment
would have allowed them to bestow at other times.

"Thanks for your predictions, good mother, and may they prove true,"
exclaimed Thaddeus, who was always ready to give a light turn to
anything which appeared more serious than suited his humour; "and now,
our worthy host, we must in truth delay no longer, and bid our last
adieu."

"Not yet, by your leave, Sirs," answered the Gipsy, "I will, at least,
shew you the road which will lead you more directly, and in less time
across the forest; which, without my aid, you would scarcely find."

"The longer we keep your company, the better shall we be pleased,"
replied Thaddeus; "and therefore we again most willingly accept of your
offer."

Ivan had remained absorbed in thought, at the conclusion of the Sibyl's
predictions; but suddenly rousing himself, he joined the Gipsy and his
friend; and as the young travellers rode off, they received the parting
salutations of the whole tribe, and paid their more marked adieus to
Azila.

Ere they lost sight of the encampment, Ivan descried the maiden's light
form, watching their departing steps, and, for many a day after, did her
graceful figure, and lovely countenance dwell in his recollection.

Volume 1, Chapter IV.

tention, which the noble mind of the generous Russian could conceive,
was lavished on his unfortunate prisoner, with the benevolent view of
banishing the recollection that he was an exile and a captive.

Although he expressed his gratitude for these courtesies, they proved of
little avail in overcoming his wretchedness; and, for some time, he
refused to give his parole to his captor, that he would not attempt to
escape.  At length, the patriotic old noble ceased to entertain hopes
that his beloved country could ever regain her liberty, after the final
and complete discomfiture of her heroic sons under the walls of Warsaw.
With a heavy heart, he gave the required promise; and bowed down with
grief at his country's loss of freedom, he abandoned all wish of ever
regaining his own.  He thus lived on a hopeless exile from that land,
where his forefathers had dwelt in honour and power for so many ages,
and where all the affections of his heart were concentrated, save his
love for his only son, now, the sole link which held the chain of his
existence.  On him he lavished all his care, and the boy returned his
father's affection with all the ardour of youth.

Although the Russian noble had rescued his friend from the rigorous
sentence of banishment to Siberia, the whole of his interest and
influence could not save from confiscation the property of one who had
taken so prominent a part in every attempt of his countrymen to throw
off the Russian yoke; so that, with the exception of a small pittance
allowed him, he was entirely dependant on his generous host.

The old Polish noble, broken-spirited, and humbled as he was, hoarded
his slender means to the utmost, that, although dependant himself on his
friend, his son Thaddeus might never owe aught to any one but himself.
During his son's boyhood, he devoted his entire attention to his
education, and it was a solace to the old man to find him so well worthy
of his care; and when he had attained a proper age, he sent him to the
military college at St. Petersburg, where he gave him a sufficient
allowance from his accumulated savings, to enable him to support that
standing in society which he considered his birth demanded.

He would willingly indeed have sent him to any other country for his
education, in preference to that of the oppressors of Poland; but he
found, on application, that his son could not be allowed to quit Russia;
and disdaining any other than a military life for him, he was compelled
to take advantage of the best which the country afforded.

With a father's doting fondness, he hoped that his son might, with his
talents and his sword, some day carve out a way to distinction; and
perhaps, too, a latent hope existed in his breast that he might aid in
the restoration of his native land.

From the time since Thaddeus resided under the roof of his father's
Russian friend, he became a favourite with every member of the family;
and when he mixed more in the world, his pleasing manners and generous
disposition caused his society to be much sought after by all of his own
age and rank.  No one, however, appeared to have gained so much of his
regard as the young Ivan Galetzoff, who had won his affection without
the slightest effort; but there was something in the bold, independent,
and almost haughty manners of Ivan, which made Thaddeus at first regard
him with more interest than he bestowed on the rest of his companions
who were younger than himself.

Ivan was nearly two years his junior, which, at that time of life, often
makes a great difference in a youth's standing at school or college.
From his first arrival at college, Ivan Galetzoff had appeared to keep
aloof from the friendship of his companions, though he joined, and
excelled in all athletic sports and exercises.  He was courteous to all;
but his cold and reserved behaviour prevented the greater number of his
companions from making advances in his confidence or friendship.
Thaddeus, by many trivial attentions to the solitary youth, was the
first to overcome this reserve, and the latter seemed to feel grateful
for his kindness.  They had been as yet, however, but little in each
other's society, until Thaddeus was seized with a severe illness, when
Ivan attended on him with fraternal care, ministering to all his wants,
and scarcely ever leaving his side.

From that period was to be dated their firm friendship, which, though
warm and sincere, could not thaw the reserve with which Ivan always
guarded the subject of his family and connexions; and when any sought to
question him, he would turn away with a haughty and angry air, so that
even Thaddeus remained nearly as ignorant as before of his friend's
history.  Every day, however, seemed more closely to cement the
friendship of the two young men, until they were constantly together,
supporting each other on every occasion of need.  On one point, however,
they were dissimilar in taste; while Thaddeus's love of gaiety caused
him to seek society, Ivan, on all occasions, shunned it, devoting
himself with so much perseverance and energy to his studies and military
exercises, that he was qualified to quit college at the same period with
his friend.

Ivan Galetzoff was generally supposed at college to be the son of the
Baron Galetzoff; but as the young man never spoke of him as his father,
and indeed avoided, as much as possible, mentioning his name, there were
some doubts entertained on the subject; and his proud and retiring
manners were, therefore, considered to result from the galling feelings
caused by a supposed stigma on his birth.  The chateau of the Baron
Galetzoff lay a short distance from Moscow; and in the neighbourhood of
that city was also the residence of the generous noble who had been the
protector of Thaddeus's father; but there was no intercourse between the
two families, the Baron living entirely secluded from the world.

The Baron Galetzoff was in truth, a fierce unpolished soldier, who had
frequently distinguished himself in the wars of Russia against the Turks
and the inhabitants of the Caucasus, as much by his unexampled cruelty,
as by his bravery and military talents.

To his own soldiers he was overbearing and tyrannical, and he seemed to
enjoy inflicting barbarities on the miserable foes who fell into his
power; while to his dependants and the serfs on his estates, he was
morose and hard-hearted; so that none could love, and all feared and
hated him.  His compeers disliked and shunned him, while he, on his
part, seemed equally to disregard their censure or applause.

He had now retired for some time past from military command, and had
since then immured himself in his own chateau, within which the stranger
never obtained admittance.

When on several occasions Ivan had been tempted by Thaddeus to leave its
sombre halls, and to mix in society, nothing could ever be gleaned from
him respecting the internal arrangements of the family, notwithstanding
all the attempts which were made to discover the secrets of the mansion.

Some of the more charitably disposed neighbours concluded that the
Baron's temper had been soured by domestic affliction, as it was
reported that he had lost by sudden death a beautiful wife, whom he
tenderly loved, and her child, which had mysteriously disappeared;
others however declared, that his brow had always been clouded by the
same dark lines.

In spite of these various rumours, all concurred in the opinion, that
the generous qualities of the young Ivan almost made amends for the
Baron's defects; but they deplored his fate in being obliged to live
with a person of so opposite a character.  The serfs on the estate loved
him almost to adoration, every one of whom was ready to lay down his
life in his service.

Ivan had ever regarded the Baron more with fear and awe, than with those
feelings of affection and respect, which a son owes to a parent.

There was however, one inmate of the chateau, on whom he lavished all
the warmth and tenderness of a fond and affectionate heart.  She was the
one bright star pure and lustrous, towards which he gazed through the
cloudy atmosphere of his existence.  From his earliest days he had
remembered that lovely countenance bending over him with a soft and
enraptured gaze.  Those bright eyes which looked lustreless on others,
on him always shed a benign and soothing light.  He had long ceased to
call her mother, for he had once done so in his childish days, when with
a deep drawn sigh, and a gush of tears, she pressed him closer to her
bosom, and bade him never again to use that name: the child could not
however be taught to call her by any other, and he would therefore avoid
all mention of her to any one.

She had moreover succeeded in teaching him to refrain from paying her
any attention or notice when, by chance, they appeared together in the
Baron's presence, and the lady's greatest care seemed to be to appear
equally regardless of the child.

How delightful was it, as a reward for this apparent estrangement, to
commune during the Baron's absence, with her, when he would listen to
every word she uttered, and hear with delight the soft music of her
voice.  Then would she teach him a strange language, which none other
around them spoke, and they would converse in it for hours together
secure from interruption, until the child spoke it as fluently as
Russian.  He had never inquired, in what country the language he had
learned was spoken, it was sufficient for him to know, that it was given
to him by the being he most revered and loved, and he cherished his
knowledge as a sacred gift which it would be profanation to impart to
any other mortal.  He always thought in that language, and in it he
always poured forth his soul to the great Dispenser of good, for he
looked upon it as the language of adoration; and as it had become his
medium of communication with her he loved most on earth, he felt it as
the most fit to adore Him who reigns in Heaven.

Upon her he looked as upon a being with an existence separate from and
above all the rest of the world.  In her presence, his thoughts became
more holy, his aspirations loftier; his breast would swell proudly, as
she oft described to him the noble deeds of gallant warriors fighting
for the liberty of their country, until he ardently longed to emulate
their actions; and thus were early implanted in his breast a sincere
love of liberty, and a hatred of despotism, with a contempt of every
danger which might beset him in the pursuit of the fame he thirsted
after.

These sentiments had lain almost dormant within him, during the
uneventful life which he had hitherto led, and it was only, when at
college, he was witness to any tyrannical act of his own companions over
their inferiors, that they burst forth; on such occasions he would
always step forward in aid of the weakest and injured party.

He had so early been taught to conceal his feelings and opinions within
his own bosom, that none of his companions were aware of their force or
tendency, and had the officers of the college become acquainted with
them, a decisive check would have been given to his advancement.

As far back as his memory could carry him, no event of importance had
occurred to him: ere he was sent to college his education had been
placed under the direction of a very worthy but most unintellectual
priest, who did not attempt to give him more than the first general
rudiments of knowledge; so that from an early age he was accustomed to
depend much on his own powers to attain what he sought after.

At times the Baron seemed to take an interest in his welfare, and in the
progress of his studies, but he was very uncertain and variable in his
behaviour towards the boy; sometimes treating him with the greatest
severity, at others, with indulgence; but never with that kindness or
justice which wins the love and respect of youth.

He would frequently summon him to attend at the usual field sports of
the country, in which he soon learnt to excel; but when the boy could
make his escape, he would prefer wandering by himself in the woods with
his gun, far more occupied with his own contemplations, than in the
pursuit of game; or at other times he would urge his light skiff over
the surface of a neighbouring lake, then resting on his oars, would sit
gazing on the waters, his thoughts wandering to regions far away.

When safe from the Baron's detection, he would hasten to a rendezvous
with his beautiful guardian and friend, and spend hours of delightful
intercourse in her society.

Reclining at her feet, his recollection would revert faintly and
indistinctly to scenes of a far distant, undefinable period, when he
fancied he could recall to memory a picture of the bright and sunny
mountains of a soft and genial clime--a cottage on the green hill's
side, in front a clear and rapid stream, bounding from rod to rock, and
sparkling joyously on its way to the blue distant sea beyond; the trees
of varied foliage waving in the breeze, and gay-coloured flowers filling
the air with sweet perfumes.  Then would appear, before the vision of
his mind, a figure of commanding stature, with noble features, clad in
glittering armour, who ofttimes had carried him in his arms.  He
remembered the very shape of his shield, and the dazzling brightness of
his sword, as it was wielded before his eyes in the rays of the sun.
Then a confused tumult--the loud roar of cannon--the rattle of
musketry--the clashing of swords--red blood flowing around--the wild
shouts of men striving in deadly combat--the shrieks of terror-stricken
women--the anguish-wrought groans of the wounded and dying--rushed
across his recollection.

After those scenes, if such had ever been presented to his sight, the
tablet of his memory, for a lapse of time, remained a complete blank,
and his first clear remembrance was of the Chateau of the Baron
Galetzoff, when he found himself loved and petted by its inmates, and
even treated by its haughty Lord with as much kindness as his capricious
nature would allow, and with much more than he seemed to bestow on any
other human being.

Once only had Ivan mentioned the obscure recollection of his infant
years to his fair protectress, but she had, in a passionate flood of
tears, charged him, as he valued her love and happiness, never to allude
to the subject again.

With advancing years, the visions faded gradually from his mind, or if
he thought of them, he considered them but as a dream of childhood, and
believed himself in reality to be the son of the tyrannical Baron
Galetzoff.

Volume 1, Chapter V.

We left the serf Karl urging on the weary animal which drew his master's
baggage-cart towards Tver, and there he arrived without any other
accident than a thorough drenching from the same storm which they had
escaped under shelter of the Gipsy's tent.  He proceeded straightway to
the best inn the town possessed, which was kept by one of the despised
race of Israel, who are the principal innkeepers throughout the country.
The inn in question was very inferior to those houses of entertainment
which most of the larger cities of Russia now afford; but rapid
improvements in all the conveniences for travelling have lately taken
place.

The lower floor of the house consisted of two divisions; the one
appropriated to the horses and equipages of travellers, the other to the
culinary department of the establishment, as also to the accommodation--
at that precise moment--of a motley assemblage of human beings,
soldiers, mechanics, carriers, wagoners, postillions, all talking at the
same time in their guttural language; smoking, drinking, and hallowing
to each other, with loud laughter and jokes; yet the ear was never
shocked by the profane oath, or other evidences of the fierce quarrels,
which too often occur amongst a mixture of people of similar degree in
other countries.

The upper part of the building was laid out in rooms for the
accommodation of the better order of travellers.  One of larger
dimensions than the rest formed the dining-room--this was completely
impregnated with the fumes of tobacco; the rest consisted of sleeping
apartments.

As Karl drove into the court-yard, he seemed to have roused himself to a
sense of his own importance, and the responsibility with which he was
entrusted, for he endeavoured to assume an air of authority.  "Help,
here! help!" he exclaimed as the wheels of his cart rattled over the
stones, "help here, to carry the baggage of my noble masters up-stairs!
Does no one come?  Help here, help, halloo!"

His calls for assistance were at last heeded by a being very similar to
himself in dress and features.  "Halloo, villain!" cried Karl, as the
man approached, "can you not hear when a Christian calls?  Here, help me
to carry this baggage, will you?"

"Who art thou that speakest thus to me?" demanded the other; "art thou
better than I am myself, knave?  Art thou not a slave as well as I?"

"Ay, ay, truly," answered Karl, "but I serve a noble master, whilst thou
art but the slave of a base-born Hebrew innkeeper!"

"There thou liest!" exclaimed the indignant ostler, for such was his
office.  "I serve the innkeeper truly, and if he did not oblige me to
observe his fasts, as well as those of our own holy church, the service
would not be so bad; but I am no slave of his.  I am the born serf of
the noble Baron Ogstrofsty; he has let me out for hire, to the old Jew
Levi, to pay off an old score, and when I have worked it out, I shall
return to my own master."

"That alters the case," replied Karl, rubbing his forehead, that he
might more clearly understand the knotty difference, "so now let us be
friends, and lend me your aid."

"With all my heart, now that thou art civil," said the ostler.

Suiting the action to the word, after fastening the horse's bridle to a
ring in the wall, he assisted in taking the luggage from the cart, and
led the way up a rude flight of steps, on the landing of which they were
met by the landlord Levi, who had been eagerly looking out, in the hope
of making considerable gain by his new guests.

"My noble master, the son of the Baron Galetzoff, and my noble master's
friend, sent me on before them to announce their coming, and to engage
beds and supper.  They will be here anon, so make ready for their
reception: their baggage must be placed in their room that I may unpack
it, for they will be rather wet, I fancy, when they arrive."

"Your noble masters shall be well served," answered Levi, bowing rather
to the young nobles' portmanteaus, than to the bearer of them.  "This
way, this way!"

And he conducted Karl into a room, boasting of but little comfort.  To
him, however, it appeared a luxurious apartment, and he immediately
commenced unpacking the luggage.  That done, he locked the door, and
descended with his fellow-serf to look after his horse, and to attend to
his own creature comforts.

Seating himself at the long table in the common eating-room, among the
strange variety of guests, he applied himself with unwearied energy to
the business of mastication, washing down his food with deep draughts of
quass; and so completely was he engaged in this, to him, most grateful
occupation, that he paid but little attention to what was going on
around him.

When his appetite was at length thoroughly satisfied, he pushed the
empty dish from before him, with a sigh, and took another long and
steady draught from the jug of quass.  He then resigned himself to the
enjoyment of his sensations of satisfaction, when his eye-lids began to
fall; re-opening slightly, they closed again, his head nodded for a
minute, when he shook it to rouse himself, but it soon again fell slowly
down, and he dropped fast asleep, resting his arms and shoulders on the
table.

Some time had elapsed, when he was aroused by the entrance of two men,
who seated themselves close to him, one of them pushing rudely against
him as he took his seat at the table.  The movement made Karl raise his
head, and seeing two serving men in the liveries apparently of a
nobleman, he endeavoured, for the sake of good fellowship, to join in
their conversation; but he found it impossible to sustain his head
without the support of the table.  He listened, however, for some time
to what they were saying, till their words grew indistinct and
meaningless to his comprehension, and Karl sunk again into sleep.

"Well," said one of the new-comers, "this is a pretty business we've
been engaged in.  First, the certainty of being knocked on the head by
the Gipsies, had they caught us, of which there was every risk; then,
the very clear reality of finding ourselves knocked down by two wild
horsemen, who seemed to have risen out of the forest, for no other
purpose than to interfere where they had no business; and then, because
we could not prevent their getting up to the Count, when we did our
best, to be rewarded with a thrashing and a load of abuse; and finally,
to be sent, with our broken heads, scampering across the country to look
after these gentlemen.  And after all, what is the cause of all this
fuss?--a woman--a girl--a piece of painted flesh! a baggage, no better
than those who go singing about the streets of Moscow.  So coy and
modest too!  Why the Count is mad to make such a disturbance about her.
It makes me thirsty to think of it--hand the quass, Kruntz."

"You may well say that," answered his companion, "for I never saw our
master in such a taking before.  He swears he will have deadly vengeance
against those who prevented him from carrying off the girl; and he says
that he should know them again, whether he met them in this world or the
next.  I don't think he has much chance of meeting them in a better
place, do you, Groff?"

"No, no," answered the first speaker; "our master has played too many
odd tricks on earth for that.  He may know them, perhaps, for he had
time to see their faces; but it is too hard of him to expect that we
should; for I could have sworn, when they came so suddenly upon us, that
they were the wild horsemen of the woods."

"They may be devils themselves, and still not escape our master's
vengeance," replied Kruntz; "and, as for the girl, he will entrap her
before long, or he will not act like himself.  If he cannot do it by
open force, he has numerous secret means to bring about his ends."

"That I'll be sworn he has," said the other; "and so long as he pays me
well, I am ready to serve him, though I do not much relish so hard a
ride as he sent us, in a storm, on a fool's errand.  Yet if I could find
out who the two young gallants were, who gave us such confoundedly hard
blows, I should like to see how they felt under like treatment.  Some
more vodka, Kruntz, that's the stuff; now for our pipes.  Drown care
first, and then smoke him dry, and he won't trouble you; that's the way
for honest men like us to live."

These two worthies, after enjoying their tobacco, left the room.  They
will be easily recognised as the myrmidons of the Count Erintoff, sent
forward in great haste by their master, to trace the horsemen, who had
arrested him in his flight with the Gipsy maid--a circumstance the more
embittering to his pride, after his success in securing her person.  He
had also dispatched others in an opposite direction, with the same
orders.

Karl at length awoke to find that the shades of evening had already
enveloped the town in obscurity; and he rushed out in great dismay, at
having overslept himself, to endeavour to gain some tidings of his young
master and his friend; but in vain--he could hear nothing of them.  The
honest fellow now became greatly alarmed, making inquiries of every body
he met, till finding that his master had certainly not yet arrived in
Tver, he lay down, to await his coming, on one of the wooden benches in
the eating-room, when he very soon again fell into a sleep--not the less
sound from his deep potations of quass--and did not awake till long
after the morning had dawned, and the inmates of the hotel were astir.
He started up, rubbing his eyes, and looking around to convince himself
where he was; when recollecting the events of the previous day, he
instantly set off to gain intelligence of his master.  With eager
agitation, he questioned all who came in his way, high and low; but most
people pushed the lowly unshorn serf aside, without deigning to answer
him; some ridiculed him, and bade him seek a new master, if he had lost
his old one, for he would never find him again.  Among those whom he had
casually addressed, was one of the two individuals, whose conversation
he had partly overheard when sitting by his side on the previous
evening.

"You are inquiring for your master and his friend," asked Groff; "two
young men, you say, whom you parted from about twenty versts off; as
they rode by themselves through the forest."  By thus interrogating the
honest, but simple Karl, he learned every particular he sought to know
respecting Ivan Galetzoff and his companion.

Poor Karl spent the long day in great tribulation, walking to and fro in
front of the inn, inquiring of everybody who arrived from the direction
of St. Petersburg, if they had overtaken his master and fellow
traveller; but obtaining no intelligence, he proceeded along the road
for some miles in the hope of meeting them; again unsuccessful, he
returned in case they should have passed by some other way.  Towards
evening, when he perceived the lost cavaliers approaching, his joy knew
no bounds.

Running to meet them, and ere they had time to dismount, he seized their
hands and covered them with kisses.  He gave their horses in charge to
the ostler, and conducted them to their room, where they were glad to
rest, after the excitement and fatigues of the preceding day.

Their arrival had been observed by others with equal satisfaction to
that felt by honest Karl, though arising from very dissimilar motives.
Groff and his companion concealed within a doorway, watched them as they
dismounted, and being fully satisfied of their identity, both from
Karl's description, and their own recollection of the wild horsemen, by
whom they had been felled in the forest, they immediately mounted their
horses to convey their information to the Count.

Ivan felt but little inconvenience from his wound; the aged Hagar having
treated it so efficaciously.  He was, therefore, enabled to continue on
the journey to Moscow, early the next morning; notwithstanding the
numerous eloquent reasons urged by their considerate landlord, to
persuade them to delay it.

They crossed the magnificent Volga, by a bridge of boats.  This mighty
current rushing onward in its course, divides Europe from Asia; it is
navigable well nigh to its very source--a distance of four thousand
miles; and after bathing the walls of Astracan, finishes its career in
the far distant Caspian.  Its banks are peopled by the warlike tribes of
Cossacks, who so unrelentingly harassed the skirts of the French army,
during their disastrous retreat from Russia.  On its noble waters were
being transported rich cargoes of grain, the produce of its fertile
banks, in boats of various sizes, rigged with a single but lofty mast,
supporting an immense sail, and a long rudder, projecting far beyond the
stern, which is admirably adapted to guide them, when passing the
rapids.

The villages through which the travellers' route lay, were forlorn and
miserable; being generally the property of the Seigneurs, and occupied
by their serfs.  They consisted of a single long street, lined on either
side with cottages built of rough logs: those of the more affluent being
formed of the same materials, hewn and squared into more regular shape.
Their gable ends projecting far into the street, discovered occasionally
patches of rude carving; small holes perforated in the walls serving as
windows.

In many spots along the road, were small chapels with pictures of the
Panagia (the Russian appellation of the Virgin Mary,) or of some of the
multitudinous saints in their calendar; these were the especial objects
of Karl's devotion, as he bowed his head to them, and crossed himself
all over with the greatest reverence.  They overtook many teams of small
carts, sometimes forty together; carrying tallow, hides, and hemp to the
cities, to be exchanged for merchandise, with which they return to the
interior: their drivers were generally lying asleep on their goods, one
alone at the head of the train, conducting the team.  As evening closed
in, they halted, forming bivouacs by the way-side, and their cheering
fires served as beacons for the wayfarer.

Although but a few years have glided by, since the period to which we
allude, great changes have taken place on the highway between St.
Petersburg and Moscow.  Not only has the road been macadamised, and
become one of the best in Europe, but elegant bridges have been thrown
across the rivers and streams; handsome, well-conducted post-houses have
been established on the road, and public conveyances traverse it
regularly.

It was towards the evening of the second day of their departure from
Tver, that they approached the Phoenix-like, the resuscitated, holy, and
ancient city of Moscow.

The rays of the setting sun shed a glittering lustre on the innumerable
gilded domes, steeples and spires, of its churches, shooting upwards
from amid the dark masses of habitations, like trees of gold in a forest
of enchantment.  Each tower being surmounted by the emblem of Christian
faith, resplendent with gold, and connected by golden chains, which
shone more brightly as they waved in the breeze.

This gorgeous scene breaking suddenly on their sight, arrested their
progress; the stately city, extending over a wide space of undulating
ground, encompassed by woody and cultivated heights--the hundred-crested
Kremlin rising majestically above all--the magnificent palaces,
churches, and convents, with their cupolas and domes of blue, and white,
and gold, giving it an aspect of oriental magnificence.

Karl, animated by a spirit of devotion, threw himself from the cart, and
prostrated himself on the soil, in adoration, as he beheld the Jerusalem
of Russia--the city sanctified in their hearts, and so beloved by every
true Muscovite.  Having completed the ceremony, with innumerable
genuflexions and crossings, much to his own satisfaction, he drove on to
regain his master and Thaddeus, who not being imbued with the same
feeling of respect for the City of the Czars, and having often viewed
the spectacle, had, after a slight pause at the grandeur of the scene,
proceeded on their road.

After traversing many of the irregular, winding streets of the city, the
moment arrived when they were to part, to hasten to their respective
homes.  Exchanging pledges to meet again as soon as circumstances would
permit, they then started off in opposite directions.

Volume 1, Chapter VI.

Missing the society of his lively companion, a shade of gloom overspread
the handsome features of Ivan; his mind being thus thrown back upon
itself, the sombre scenery through which he passed, as he drew nigh to
the end of his journey, on the day after he quitted his friend,
contributed to augment the melancholy bias of his thoughts.

On either side of his path arose a thick and dark wood, without a single
opening vista, or a green glade; every part seemed impenetrable to joy
and gladness.  The habitations of the miserable and oppressed serfs were
closed; their inmates having early retired to rest, after the
ill-requited toils of the day.

Occasionally, however, he fell in with labourers returning to their
homes, who, as they recognised the son of their seigneur, saluted him
with respect and a look of affection.  In an instant, the cloud on his
brow would be dissipated as he returned their greetings, and offered a
kind word to each, either in inquiries after their families, or other
good-natured remarks, by which the unsophisticated peasant's heart is so
easily gained.

On approaching the chateau, even such signs of life as had previously
appeared ceased to exist, and all around wore, if possible, a still more
gloomy and dreary aspect.

He unconsciously shortened his rein; that action sufficed to betray that
he could not regard the Baron in the light of a father.  So far from
having an anxious desire to hasten to receive his welcome, his languid
pace proved his reluctance to enter sooner than necessary into the
presence of the fierce lord of that dark domain.  His heart was a blank
as he drew up at the principal entrance.

No group of bustling and pleased domestics stood ready to receive him on
his return, after a long absence; no fond mother or affectionate
sisters, to rush forward with outstretched arms, to welcome him in a
loving embrace, or to surround him as they gazed with eager and
delighted eyes, their repeated inquiries lost amid the confusion of
anxious tongues.  All within was as silent as without, a solitary
household serf alone presenting himself at Ivan's summons; while, after
considerable delay, another of the same class appeared, to lead his
horse to the stables; both, however, greeted him with welcome smiles.

His heart now beat with eagerness to hasten to the presence of the
revered and much loved being so mysteriously connected with him, for
well he knew how anxiously she was awaiting his arrival.  At the same
time, a feeling of dread came over him, of misfortune having befallen
her; she might be on her death-bed, perhaps--horrible thought!--extended
a cold and lifeless corpse!  Lost to him for ever, and her important
secret known to none but her God!

This idea became almost insupportable.  He dared not make any inquiries
respecting her of the domestic.  To visit her, ere he had appeared to
the Baron, who he was informed had desired his presence immediately on
his arrival, would have been attended by results equally injurious to
her as to himself.

Without delay, therefore, he was ushered into the apartment where the
Baron was sitting, who neither rose as the young man advanced to pay his
respects, or relaxed the cold stern cast of his features.

The Baron Galetzoff seemed a man long past the prime of life, on whom
age had laid its wintry marks, but still retaining the air and firm port
of a soldier.  His stature was rather under than above the middle
height, and his figure full and unwieldy.  His features might have been
handsome in his youth, though now they were disfigured by an habitual
scowl on his forehead, and a deep cut reaching from the left eye to the
lower part of the ear; his cold grey sunken eyes retreating, as if from
observation, under the shade of his coarse overhanging brows.  His
grizzled moustache was long and untrimmed; and this, when excited by
passion--no uncommon occurrence, unfortunately for his dependants--or
labouring under uncertainty as to the success of his projects, he was
wont to twist and pluck at.

"So, Sir," he exclaimed, in a tone of severity, as Ivan approached the
table, "you have loitered on your way, methinks; else why this delay in
your arrival?  Your duty and obedience would have been better proved by
a more rapid journey.  How did it thus happen, Sir?"

Ivan explained that the delay arose from a violent storm, which had
obliged him to take shelter under the tent of a Gipsy; but he did not
choose to hazard a relation of the rest of his adventures.

The Baron's brow lowered as he resumed--

"And is this, Sir, the bent of your disposition to herd with outcasts,
and the vilest of the earth?  A race I detest and abhor; and strong
enough are my reasons.  Rather would I have bared my head to the
fiercest storm the heavens ever sent forth, than to have been beholden
to such wretches for a dry crust, or the covering of their miserable
tents."

"The people you speak of, Sir," answered Ivan, "I found as kind and
hospitable in their humble way, as any of a higher rank; and I received
much attention from them."

The Baron here rose from his seat, and took several turns across the
apartment; then suddenly addressing himself to Ivan, exclaimed--

"Talk not to me of receiving kindness at the hands of such ignominious
beings as those cursed Gipsies.  I loathe their very name!  Is this the
return you render me, degenerate youth, for the care and attention I
have lavished on your infancy and education?  Though how could I have
expected ought else?  Yet I thought you possessed more proper pride than
to have thus demeaned yourself.  Learn, however, henceforth to pay more
respect to my honour and dignity, though you may be careless of your
own; and remember, the name you bear must not, and shall not, be
disgraced by associating with the base and worthless."

Ivan remained mute during this tirade, for he saw that the Baron
required an object to vent his spleen upon, and he willingly offered his
own shoulders, to screen some victim less able to bear it.

The haughty noble had thus worked himself into a state of passionate
excitement, as undignified as it was causeless, and continued pacing the
floor with hasty steps, while the young man stood silently by, waiting
its result, knowing that his withdrawal from the scene would but
increase the Baron's anger.

After the lapse of a few minutes, this fit of rage seemed to have
subsided, as turning towards Ivan, he said--

"Young man, let me never hear again of so discreditable an occurrence.
And now listen to the reasons which induced me to recall you.  I have
been appointed by our gracious Emperor to high command in his armies
destined for foreign service; and I intend that you shall accompany me
to learn the art of war by practical experience, as you have hitherto
done in theory.  Before you, now opens a path which will lead you to
honour and renown; and it rests with yourself to enter it or not.  If
you follow it, and I find you worthy, it then will be my care to advance
you rapidly.  But mark me!  I demand from you implicit obedience; that
rendered, rank and fortune shall be yours--if not, beware!"

Ivan's heart beat high at this information, though conveyed in harsh and
uncourteous words; but he ardently sought to enter at once into the
exciting scenes of active life, and his eye brightened as he expressed
his readiness to comply with the Baron's wishes, and thanked him for the
solicitude he professed for his welfare.

"My intention," continued the Baron, "is, that you should visit Moscow
in a few days, to procure your military equipments, and to mix somewhat
in society; for though, I myself detest its ceremonies and trivialities,
I wish you to gain the advantages its lessons afford, ere you enter into
the more active and stirring scenes of life.  You may now retire to rest
after your journey, and to-morrow, I will impart my other projects."

His listener, having expressed the gratitude he really felt at the
prospects held out to him, gladly retired from the presence of his
capricious father.

The above conversation, so characteristic of the Baron's usual
deportment towards his son, was little calculated to win either his
respect or his love: indeed, his conduct altogether seemed inexplicable;
for while he had spared neither care, nor expense in his education, he
had evidently no affection for him; and had on every occasion tried his
utmost, to imbue him with his own fierce and savage disposition: in the
latter, however, he had signally failed, through an agency he little
suspected.  The young man, meanwhile, profited by the great advantages
offered by a good education, and grew up endued with extraordinary
firmness and courage.

Ivan had retired to his chamber for the night, after endeavouring in
vain to obtain some communication with the lady before alluded to, as a
mysterious inmate of the chateau; when, as he was reclining in a chair,
and gazing through the window on the dark groves which surrounded the
building, he was startled by a knock at his door.  Hastening to open it,
a person presented himself, of unusual and remarkable appearance.

He was one of those extraordinary productions of nature, possessing a
figure of just proportions, though in stature he was scarcely three feet
high.  His dress was arranged with extreme neatness and care, but of a
fantastic cut; and the little man seemed to delight in the most gaudy
colours.  His feathered hat was placed with a rakish air on one side of
his head, from which flowed a profusion of curling locks.  His whiskers
were also curled with the greatest care, while his long thin moustaches
rose fiercely upward, in imitation of heroes of larger size.

It was difficult to define the expression of his diminutive, but very
regular features, which would have been considered handsome in a larger
mould.  Age had spared him not, for already wrinkles furrowed his
cheeks, which were of a shallow, parchment-like hue.  His small grey
eyes still bright and twinkling, expressed talent, and cunning; there
was a restlessness too in his look and manner--each movement he made
being quick, but uncertain.  He would first cast a hurried glance at the
person he was speaking to; next on the ground, then suddenly over his
shoulder, as if he expected an attack from behind; and presently he
would spin his little body round on one leg, ere he recommenced the
subject he had abruptly discontinued.  When he spoke, the tone of his
voice was so shrill and loud, that those who heard it, could scarcely
believe that the sound proceeded from so diminutive a creature.

As this lilliputian-like figure entered the room, he opened his arms to
their full extent to embrace Ivan, who kindly stooped to the requisite
level to meet him, for otherwise the little personage, who seemed
unconscious of his own size, would have been unable to clasp more than
one of his friend's knees.

"My friend, my dear boy!" exclaimed the dwarf, "my heart beats with
pleasure to see you back again.  You are grown, Ivan, since I saw you
last, for we could then walk arm in arm; and now, I doubt if we could do
so with perfect ease.  I have been longing to have you here again, for I
knew not what to do without you.  I could neither ride, hunt, or shoot
with any satisfaction during your absence; but now we will recommence
our former amusements."

"I am truly glad to see you, my worthy friend Ladislau," answered Ivan,
"and to find you as vivacious and active as ever; but there is one I
would inquire after; my kind protectress--my most beloved friend--tell
me, Ladislau, how is she? of no one else have I been able to learn, nor
as you well know, dared I to seek the information, my heart yearned
after, though my thoughts have been filled with sad forebodings."

"My young friend," replied Ladislau, "she is well, and is anxiously
waiting to see you; but the mighty man, the great Baron, has been
treating her more severely than ever, and will not allow her to proceed
beyond the walls of the garden.  One of these days his cruelty will meet
with its due reward!"

"Alas!" said Ivan, "that I should not have the power to rescue that
angelic being from his tyranny!  She herself forbids me to interfere.
Tell me, my dear Ladislau, when shall I find an opportunity of seeing
her?"

"I cannot now say," answered the dwarf.  "I will, however, contrive the
matter for you, whilst the Baron is from home, and the meeting will
contribute greatly to the lady's cure.  Ha! ha! ha!  I am laughing at
the idea that those, whom the mighty tyrant despises, can so outwit him;
aye, and revenge themselves too, in a way he little dreams of.  The day
will come, when he shall learn that the being he has kept to laugh and
jeer at, has a soul with passions strong as his own, and who has known
how to revenge himself for all the injuries and insults heaped on him
for so many years.  But away with such thoughts: now that you are
returned, Ivan! pleasure must be our sole study, and I owe you my utmost
services, for you were ever kind and attentive, while others scorned me,
although they laughed at what they termed my antic tricks.  I am
grateful, Ivan, and I will prove it; for though I can be a bitter and
implacable hater, I can also be a firm and true friend."

"In your love, I have always trusted, my good Ladislau, though what I
may have done is not worthy of mention; and you amply repay me by your
services, and constant readiness to follow my wishes."

"Well, well, we will not discuss that matter now;" said Ladislau, "but
tell me, Ivan, how came it, that you did not arrive yesterday?  I was
looking out for you the whole day!"

Ivan gave him an account of his adventure, in rescuing the Gipsy maid
Azila, and of his visit to the tents of her tribe, to which the dwarf
listened attentively.

"You acted rightly," said he, as Ivan concluded; "and you may some
future day be richly rewarded.  Is she not beautiful, and endowed with
talent, and far superior to the life she leads?"

"If you allude to Azila," replied Ivan, "she is both; but how happens
it, that you are acquainted with these Gipsies?"

"Ha! ha! ha!" chuckled the dwarf, "that's a long story, my dear boy, and
I cannot tell it you now, though I may some day.  You have much to
learn--many deep secrets--of which my bosom is the depositary; ha! ha!
those who despise me, little know the power I possess!  There is one,
who would give half he is worth, to know a secret which is safely locked
up in my breast, and he would not scruple to tear it open, if he knew
that it was there!  Ha! ha! ha!" and the dwarf laughed shrilly, as he
triumphed in this consciousness of his own power, and of the revenge he
was taking on those by whom he considered himself injured.

"Now to you, Ivan," he continued, "who indulge in no idle curiosity, and
treat me so kindly, I will some day, when the fit moment arrives,
disclose the treasured secret."

"You are one of the first of the few persons I remember ever since my
childhood," answered Ivan, "and I act towards you as I feel--with
sincere regard.  But tell me, Ladislau, what is there remarkable, or
unusual, with respect to the Gipsy's daughter, besides her beauty, which
I can judge of, and her talents which I suppose do not extend beyond her
sweet singing, and a clever tact in turning her pretended knowledge of
palmistry to account."

"Ah, you little see into her character, if you imagine that she
practises any of the vulgar deceits of her tribe," answered the dwarf.
"She is above every act of that kind.  Her heart is with her people, and
she delights in their wild life; yet she might, if it so pleased her,
dwell in cities, and enjoy all the luxuries others value so highly.  Her
education has not been neglected, while her talents are of the highest
order, her judgment superior, and her virtue unquestionable; these high
endowments she employs for her noble ends.  She might have been far
different from what she is--enjoying rank, riches and power; but then
too probably, alas! she might have been proud, vicious and ignorant.  I
love her much, but would not have her different to what she is, though
on some future day, it may be said that I have injured her; but I know
better.  I am saying, perhaps, more than is prudent; I can, however,
trust you, Ivan, and I beseech you, utter not a syllable of what you
have heard, as you love me."

"Your confidence shall not be abused," answered Ivan.

"Fare thee well, fare thee well!  I must now away, my young friend;"
quickly cried the little man, as whisking round on one foot, waving his
hand, and singing his adieus, he skipped out of the room.

As long back as Ivan could recollect, he had always been on terms of
perfect friendship with the dwarf Ladislau; but never since his earliest
infancy had he observed the slightest alteration in his appearance.  At
that early age, he used to romp and play with him; and as he grew older
and stronger, with a consideration which few boys would have possessed,
he never exerted his power and strength to his annoyance, so that the
diminutive creature cherished a feeling of attachment for him, stronger
than for any other human being; while Ivan, having but few to expend his
affections upon, returned his regard with equal sincerity.

It is still the custom in many of the wealthy and noble families, both
of Russia and Poland, to retain in their establishments, one of the race
of dwarfs, to amuse their children and dependants, and as a butt for
their own wit.  As in former days, a jester, a fool, or a dwarf was
considered a necessary appendage to the household of every noble
throughout Europe, though that custom is now fortunately banished to the
less civilised countries of the eastern part of the continent, where
education has made but slow advances.

As soon as the dwarf had retired, Ivan threw himself on his couch; but
it was long, ere the repose he sought, drew a veil over his confused and
agitated thoughts.

Volume 1, Chapter VII.

Ivan had obtained but few and brief opportunities of meeting the lady
who resided at the chateau, and whose history was so totally unknown to
the world.  The Baron constantly required his attendance, and narrowly
watched her actions.

Some days had elapsed since Ivan's arrival, during which time he had
invariably accompanied the Baron in his hunting expeditions, the latter
having determined to clear his forests of the wolves which infested
them.  On the next of these expeditions, he determined to find some
expedient for absenting himself, so as to be able to obtain the
long-sought interview with his mysterious friend.

Accordingly, whilst the followers were beating about for the lurking
plunderers, and the woods echoed with their loud shouts, he feigned an
excuse, and galloped back to the chateau, trusting that his brief
absence would be overlooked.  In the mean time, the dwarf, who had not
been summoned to the chase by his lord, had willingly remained at home,
and prepared every means to facilitate the meeting.  The young man, with
anxious haste, repaired to the appointed spot, where, beneath a bower
covered with luxuriant dark foliage, and shaded by a group of venerable
trees, he beheld the loved object of his search.

The lady had scarcely reached the meridian of life, still retaining
every feature of matronly beauty.  Her figure was tall; its every
movement graceful; her face cast in the true Grecian mould, with a pure
and translucent complexion; the long dark silken eyelash shading a clear
grey eye, and giving a subdued softness of expression to her
countenance.  A casual observer on viewing the two persons, side by
side, would have discovered a striking resemblance between them.

Her watchful ear caught the sound of his footstep, and rising, she
rushed forward to meet him, folding him in a momentary embrace, as he
endeavoured reverently to kiss her hand.  A convulsive sob impeded her
utterance as she attempted to speak; but her fast-falling tears, which
bedewed his neck, expressed the fulness of her love.  That agitating
moment over, her composure returned; and retiring to a seat, Ivan placed
himself by her side, his hand being fondly locked in hers.

"Loved one," she said, "is it thus alone we can meet, by stealth, and
but for a brief space, after so long an absence, and when, too, you may
be torn from me for ever?  Oh, Ivan! much have I suffered for your sake,
and gladly would I suffer more; yet a woman's weakness overpowers me,
when I think of the dangers you may be exposed to.  He has told me that
you are about to accompany him on a distant military expedition wherein
you may gain honour and renown, such as I know your noble heart will
rejoice in; but dreadful forebodings haunt my mind, for I feel it will
be full of peril; and I cannot trust him.  I seek to discover the plans
he is meditating for you, but they are beyond my comprehension.  Whether
affection, or any other motive influences him, I know not; yet though he
promises to advance you rapidly, I doubt the sincerity of his words.
But oh!  Ivan, I am powerless, and commit you to the charge of the God
of your fathers."

"For your sake," exclaimed the young man, "I would resign all my fond
aspirations, and would gladly remain to protect you; but, alas! as a
slave I must obey the Baron's will, or seek my own fortune in the world
without his aid."

"Well do I know your love, my brave youth," replied the lady, "which
would hazard all for my welfare; but that I ask not.  No! go where glory
and fame await you, and care not for me, for I feel that my course of
life is well nigh run, and that the day of my freedom is at hand.  Much
more of anguish than you, Ivan, can possibly know, has my bosom borne;
but the hour is not yet come when I may recount to you the tale of my
woes."

"To what secret woes do your words allude?" exclaimed Ivan, in
agitation.  "Oh, my more than mother! my protectress! my guardian angel!
am I then incapable of protecting you, or at least of comforting you?
Oh despise me not by concealing your sufferings from me!"

"Alas! your interference," said the lady, despondingly, "would be of
little avail; it might bring ruin on yourself, without improving my lot.
No, no, loved one!  I would not blight your happiness with my sorrow.
You are on the eve of visiting Moscow; when there, mix in the world;
seek all the enjoyment it can afford, though I fear me there is but
little to be found.  Yet I too was once blest with perfect happiness.
You will return here, I learn, before you depart for the army, when I
will relate all; till then, may your young heart be unseared by grief."

"Oh! disclose your griefs to me now, dearest lady.  Let me endeavour to
console them; and let my devotion in your service prove my love.  Surely
the Baron, though severe and unjust at times to me, cannot--dare not, be
so barbarous as to injure one so lovely and gentle as yourself."

"I may not at present reveal to you my sad history," replied the lady;
"prudence demands that the veil should not yet be withdrawn.  You know
not what the Baron is.  Time will display his nature."

The lady and the youth were still indulging in their melancholy, yet
interesting conversation, when they were suddenly interrupted by the
appearance of Ladislau, looking like some woodland sprite, as, with
alarm on his countenance, he rushed up to them through the mass of the
shrubbery.

"Hist! hist!" he cried, but in a suppressed voice; "fly, Ivan, fly! off
with you--begone! this is no place for you!  Madam, pardon my intrusion.
Fly, Ivan, fly!  The Baron has returned; this moment I heard the tramp
of his horse's hoofs in the court-yard, and his voice raised in anger;
so I hastened to warn you.  He stormed and raged as usual.  Yes, his
high mightiness was storming like a tornado."

The dwarf laughed in a shrill tone, and added, "He will undoubtedly come
this way; and it would not calm his anger to find his son here instead
of accompanying him in the chase of animals, less savage than himself.
So fly, my friend, fly from hence; tarry not another moment.  And I
would recommend you too, Madam, to avoid him at present, if you wish not
to bear the brunt of his fury, which has been excited by Ivan's
absence."

Ivan respectfully raised the lady's hand to his lips, and was bidding
her farewell, when the dwarf exclaimed, "Haste, haste, or you will be
discovered--see, here he comes;" and at that instant, the Baron was seen
at a short distance, walking rapidly towards them.  Ivan quickly
retreated by an opposite path, fortunately unperceived by his father,
while the Baron advanced towards the lady and dwarf, with a dark frown
on his brow.

"So, ho, Madam," he cried; "is it thus you abide by my injunctions not
to move beyond your apartment?  Be pleased forthwith to retire to your
chamber, until I repair thither; I shall know how to correct this
disobedience to my commands.  Make no answer! go, Madam, at once!"

The lady spoke not, though her lip trembled with emotion, and there was
a flush on her brow, as she turned to obey the Baron's command, and
walked calmly towards the chateau.

"And you, imp! what business of state brought you to the lady?" said the
Baron, turning to the dwarf.  "Doubtless, you have been laying some
mischievous plans together.  Have you lately seen Ivan, sir manikin?"

"Yes, most noble and potent Seigneur," answered Ladislau; "I met him
some time since, walking in solitary and meditative mood.  I ventured
not to interrupt the current of his thoughts.  Can I be the bearer of
any of your most gracious orders to him?"

"Yes, go find him, and say I desire his attendance," said the Baron.
"No, stay--I myself will seek him.  In which direction went he, do you
say?"

"In yonder avenue," replied the dwarf, pointing to an opposite spot to
the one he believed the youth was to be found in.

As the Baron walked quickly forward, he muttered to himself, "Can it be
that she, whose stubborn soul would never bend to my will, should be
captivated by this youth!  By heavens! if I so find it, I will tear her
limb from limb, and let the boy feast his eyes on the spectacle.  Had
the idea occurred to me before, he never should have returned here.  He
is capable of any deed; there is a bold, unruly spirit within him, which
I must curb with a tight rein, or he will break loose even from me.  He
to be my rival, forsooth! here comes the audacious youth.  By heavens!
he has a right noble air, which may well win any woman's love.  I would
destroy him at once, to prevent any further mischief; but then I lose
the cherished object for which I nurtured him--no, no, that were worse
than folly.  He shall live to become the fierce soldier I would make
him, and when he gains more of the spirit of the tiger, which he now
somewhat lacks, I shall be content.  He comes of a race, whose blood is
strongly imbued with it, and in his it must exist also."

By the time the Baron had arrived at the conclusion of this soliloquy,
which vaguely hinted at his sinister schemes, his anger had been
tempered, partly by the ideas of future triumph it awakened, partly by
the cool perfumed breeze, which played within the shady walk.  He had
been unsuccessful that morning in the chase, which had raised his
choler; and when he missed Ivan from his side, and ascertained on
inquiry, that he had been seen riding in the direction of the chateau,
his rage was greatly increased.  On his return, he learned that his son
had proceeded into the grounds, whither the lady had shortly before also
been observed to go.

"I perceive, Sir," he said on confronting his son, "that you prefer
luxurious ease in shady bowers, to the hardy and noble exercise of
hunting, in disobedience moreover to my wishes; but let me tell you,
young man, such is but a bad promise of your future conduct in a
military career; and you need not expect my countenance or support,
during the continuance of such frivolities, and opposition to my will.
I expect henceforth to find you foremost in danger, and ever prompt to
endure hardships without murmur.  Thus it was that I fought my way up
the ladder of fame, and thus must you follow, if you desire advancement,
and value a high name."

"I trust, Sir, you will never find me remiss in my military duties,"
answered Ivan.

"I have found you already deficient in its most essential branch;"
angrily rejoined the Baron, then assuming a calmer tone, he added "you
had some motive, and not a trifling one, which induced you to act
contrary to my will this day; ah, you start!  Beware, young man, should
my suspicions prove correct, your fate is sealed!  Again, I say, beware!
My nature is such as will not be trifled with; prepare for your
departure to-morrow for Moscow; that is a favour I grant you; so answer
me not; you now know my will."

Accustomed as he was to the authoritative tone of one who, in his
mildest mood, never brooked a reply, Ivan's lips moved with emotion, yet
they uttered no sound, as the Baron turned away, and walked towards the
mansion.

The dark hints which his father had let fall fixed Ivan to the spot in
deep meditation; yet he could not settle in his mind to what they could
allude, dismissing at once, as too preposterous, the real cause.
Finally he came to the resolution of implicitly following his orders,
though he would fain have tarried a few days longer in the chateau, to
hold further intercourse with his sorrowful protectress.  Then retiring
to his chamber, to make the requisite preparations, he was soon joined
by the dwarf.

As soon as he was informed of his friend's banishment, tears fell from
the little man's eyes.

"Oh, Ivan," he exclaimed, "my friend, my brother, my son--for you are
each and all to me--I have experienced many cruel trials; but to part
with you is severer than all combined.  We may never meet again, for I
fear the Baron will not allow you to return here; and I am growing so
weary of this cruel world, that I expect not to remain much longer an
inhabitant of it.  Ivan, my dear boy, forget not Ladislau, for be
assured his first and last daily thought will be of you."

Ivan succeeded in soothing his little friend's grief, by sincere
assurances of his remembrance.  He then requested him to take his
earnest farewell to the lady, as he could not hope to see her again
before his departure, promising that, at every risk, he would return ere
he joined the army, while during the interval, he would regularly inform
Ladislau of his proceedings.

After quitting his son in the grounds which encompassed the mansion, the
Baron repaired forthwith to the chamber of the lady, who received him
with a proud and dignified air, before which even he for a moment paused
abashed.

"Your time, Madam, I have discovered, is not always passed in the dismal
solitude of which you so repeatedly complain.  Hear me! you would seduce
the affections of my son!  Ha.  Madam, is it so?  You turn pale and
tremble!  This moment I parted from the youth; and as I taxed him with
my suspicions, his look of conscious guilt revealed the truth.  He had
not a word to urge in his own defence.  Do you answer for him?  Am I not
correct?  Speak, woman!"

The lady stood for a while in mute astonishment at the accusations so
suddenly and violently brought against her.  At length she uttered, in a
voice, choking with emotion:

"Be Heaven my witness that I speak the truth, when I declare that I am
guiltless of the crime you charge me with."

"Deceitful woman, thou liest!" cried the Baron, giving vent to a burst
of uncontrollable anger; he gnashed his teeth, while his eyes rolled
wildly; he lifted his arm, and struck the defenceless female.  She
uttered no cry; but every drop of blood quitted her cheek, and she would
have fallen to the floor, had not the wall supported her.  Rivetting her
eye on her oppressor, and mustering all her energy, she proudly
confronted him in scorn and contempt, branding him with the epithet of
coward.  The ruffian, in his turn, trembled, and quailed before the
superior might--the majesty of a lovely woman, conscious of her
unsullied virtue.  He felt himself to be the despicable being she termed
him; his honour had been for ever disgraced by this foul indelible
stain.  He felt that his name was for ever blotted from the rolls of
chivalry; that every slave who crawled in chains on his land would be
deemed more worthy to touch a lady's hand than he.

The haughty lord answered not: his tongue was tied--he was conquered.
Without even daring to meet her glance of scorn, he turned away, and
quitted the apartment.  When left in solitude, the lady sunk on a couch,
and pressed her brow within her hands.

"For what fate am I reserved?" she cried.  "To perish by the hand of
this dastard tyrant!  No more to revisit my own sunny hills and smiling
vales.  Yet, for the sake of that loved one, I can and will bear all.
Could I but feel assured of his happiness, I would yield to death
contentedly.  There is, however, one duty more due to him--then welcome
death!"

Volume 1, Chapter VIII.

Ivan was fully equipped for his journey to Moscow, in pursuance of his
father's orders, when he received a summons to attend him.

"I have desired your presence," said the Baron, as he entered, "to
communicate my last orders.  I will allow you an ample sum for your
expenses, and a sojourn of six weeks in Moscow.  Dedicate that period to
amusement; at its expiration you will be attached to my staff; meanwhile
have your uniforms prepared.  You may now depart."

The young man withdrew, his parting salutation being scarcely noticed.
He was met in the court-yard by his friend the dwarf, who shed tears as
Ivan mounted his horse; while he himself felt sad in parting from one of
the few friends he possessed in the world.  He took a last look at the
apartment occupied by the lady so deeply beloved by him.  All was closed
and mournful there.  Then spurring his horse, he rode rapidly from the
chateau.

A lively and bustling scene met his view as he entered Moscow.  It was a
day dedicated to one of the numerous saints in the calendar of the Greek
church, and a holiday; so that all the world was abroad, taking
recreation during their brief but beautiful spring.

The sumptuous equipages of the nobles were dashing by, with their four
spirited horses, harnessed in long traces, and guided by a tiny
postillion, while a portly, liveried coachman was seated more for state
than service, on the richly ornamented coach-box.  Officers, in various
uniforms, and followed by wild and fierce-looking Calmuc Tartars,
galloped in every direction.  Countless were the gay vehicles in motion;
conspicuous amongst these, was the light-formed drosky, drawn by a pair
of horses, the animal in the shafts advancing at a finely paced trot,
while his companion, now prancing and curvetting, now sidling in
graceful bounds, attracted the spectators' admiring gaze.  Costly were
the dresses, and glittering the stars with which the proud nobles were
arrayed, as they rode or drove past in rapid succession, offering a
marked contrast to the humble and bearded citizens assembled on the
occasion.  Every human being, whatever his garb or condition, seemed
happy; and the young visitor unconsciously caught the same feeling.
Having given his friend Thaddeus notice of his intended coming, he was
not surprised, though much pleased, to be welcomed by him on dismounting
at his hotel.

"Most grave hermit," exclaimed his friend, "happy am I to find that you
have been enticed away from your contemplations amid groves and lakes,
and I trust soon to initiate your philosophy in the mysteries of a city
existence."

"Thanks, my good Thaddeus, I have determined upon seeing what you term
the world and its amusements, and resign myself entirely to your sage
guidance."

It is unnecessary to follow the two friends through all the scenes of
gaiety, into which they plunged with the ardour of youth; it is
sufficient to say, that Ivan, in spite of his retiring disposition, soon
found himself much sought after, among the highest circles of rank and
tone in Moscow, formed as he was both in person, and mind to adorn
society.  He could not but feel gratified by the attentions he received,
and amused by the various scenes of gaiety in which he moved; so that
sombre reflections had no opportunity to creep in, and mar his pleasure.
Many days had thus flown quickly by, without a single interruption to
their light and joyous course; even the adventure with the Gipsies, on
their journey from St. Petersburg, was forgotten; when one evening, at
an entertainment given by the Prince Galitzin, they were startled on
hearing announced the name of the Count Erintoff.

Shortly after, they saw him advancing with an acquaintance of theirs, in
the direction where they were standing, apparently without his
recognising them, and he would have passed by, had not Ivan's eye been
fixed sternly upon him.  A sudden start accompanied by a frown marked
the recognition, when his companion turning round, and observing the two
young men, stopped to present him to them.  With a bland smile he
advanced, and politely saluting them, began, without hesitation, a light
and diverting conversation on the common topics of the day.  His address
was so unembarrassed, and his manner so cordial towards them, that they
became doubtful whether he actually remembered them as his former
opponents; a slight incident, however, took place later in the evening,
which made them again feel certain, that he knew them.  Ivan had
engaged, as a partner in the dance, a beautiful girl, to whom the Count
had been paying marked attention; and he was standing near to her, when
Ivan advanced to claim her hand, which she offered with a smile.

The eyes of the Count turned upon him with a peculiarly dark and ominous
expression, indicating his feelings of animosity more fully and directly
than any words, that he could venture to utter in such an assembly; ere
Ivan had time to scrutinise that glance, the Count's features had
resumed their wonted bland expression; and he had turned with some witty
repartee to the nearest lady.

"No matter," thought Ivan, "if he does recognise me, I may yet laugh at,
and despise his vengeance."

On quitting the palace with Thaddeus, they fancied that their steps were
dogged by some one, who appeared to be watching the course they took;
but whoever it might be, he kept at so wary a distance, that they could
not devise a plausible excuse for addressing him; and ere they had
reached their hotel, the individual had disappeared.

The following day was also a festival of the church, and again were the
promenades and public drives swarming with old and young; the gay noble,
and sober tradesman.

Thaddeus engaged Ivan to accompany him in his drosky, to the favourite
promenade of the citizens, called "L'Allee des Peuples," which is
without the city barrier; and were the shopkeepers and inferior classes
of society assemble to enjoy their favourite pastimes.  On their way
they observed in the distance the state prisons, where the unfortunate
exiles are confined, previously to their departure for Siberia;
collected together from all parts of the Empire, in gloomy despondency,
they there await the day, which always falls on Monday, when it shall be
their turn to set forth in a troop on their toilsome and dreary journey.

"Ah," thought Ivan, as he gazed on the long, low, but strongly guarded
walls, "how many an innocent victim has there parted from all the sweet,
and fond ties of life, to march bare-footed, and in chains over hundreds
of long leagues, weak and bleeding; his companions dying by his side,
day after day, as lying down to rest, they find an everlasting repose,
happier than the survivors left to eke out, with hopeless toil, a
miserable existence, in an inhospitable clime."

It must, however be observed, that though the fate of most of the exiles
is forlorn and miserable in the extreme; others of higher rank, and
banished for slight political offences, are allowed comparative freedom,
on their arrival at their place of destination.  Many reside in cities
with their families, surrounded with most of the luxuries of Europe,
though under the surveillance of the police.  Yet what can compensate
for a banishment from their native land without the remotest hope or
power of returning thither?

The promenade of the people of which we have spoken, is a wide tract,
ornamented with noble trees, and furnished with all the means necessary
to promote the national amusements of the Russians.  Thither had
resorted the easily pleased citizens to amuse themselves, to the utmost,
after their busy occupations.  Surrounded by their families and friends,
seated on the turf, they were enjoying their tea, which was served out
of large urns, placed before them on the ground; the joke and the
refreshments passing merrily round.  Here, a large concourse of idlers
formed a circle round a party of mountebanks and jugglers; each feat of
dexterity receiving loud applause: there, a troop of Gipsy girls gained
equal admiration, as, in the mazy figures of the dance, they exhibited
their picturesque and graceful movements.

It mostly happens that those of a higher station do not deign to become
spectators of these scenes, and restrict themselves to their own
promenades; yet, there were a few whose curiosity, like of that our two
friends, had led them to this spot.

Thaddeus was conversing with an acquaintance whom he accidentally met,
while Ivan, standing a few paces from them, observed the approach of a
band of dancing girls, and, among them, he recognised a face he could
not easily forget, though the person was evidently not taking a part in
the exhibition.  He could not be deceived in Azila, the Gipsy maiden.
She passed close to him, and a slight momentary blush tinged her cheek,
as beckoning to him, she separated from her companions.  He followed
her, until she stopped beneath a thick cluster of trees, which screened
them from observation.

"I fear you will think me bold, and forward in thus addressing you,"
said she, "but I have urgent reasons for so doing.  This day, I purposed
seeking you out in another part of the city; when, having joined the
band of dancers, with a view of meeting those whom I sought, without
suspicion, I saw you enter the gardens.  Think not," and she blushed
deeply; "that I would exhibit myself to the gaze of the miserable slaves
assembled to witness the performances of my companions.  You will
shortly understand more clearly the reasons which induce me to appear
among them; till then, judge not ill of me--but to my errand, for time
presses.  Danger threatens under many shapes; and one whom you know, the
Count Erintoff, has sworn to revenge himself on you, for your generous
defence of me.  He seeks your life, and that of your friend; and though
he is too great a coward to hazard his own, he may employ others to do
his bidding.  Be therefore constantly on your guard, yet without fear,
for there are those who feel an earnest interest in your welfare, who
will watch over your safety, and have marked each movement of yours,
since you arrived in Moscow."

"I thank you, fair one, for your warning," answered Ivan; "but I fear
not the Count, or any plans he may form against me or my friend."

"You know not," hastily rejoined Azila; "what means a man of his
vindictive, and dastard disposition would stoop to, for the
accomplishment of a vile purpose; and I entreat you to beware of him--
but I have more to say.  You are destined for nobler deeds than the life
you now lead affords, where you are dissipating your time and talents in
pursuits totally unworthy of you.  My boldness of speech may surprise
you, and appear unmaidenly; but I know that I may trust you in what I am
about to impart.  A great revolution in the affairs of this country is
about to take place; yet you--so fit to lead your countrymen, and to aid
in their regeneration, are ignorant of the project.  Sure I am, that
were you once summoned to join in the noble work, you would stake all on
the glorious enterprise.  One, on whom you may rely, will shortly
communicate with you on the subject; oh! do not hesitate to follow his
advice.  The day of the regeneration of Russia is at hand!  Thus much--
but more I may not disclose; but think deeply on my words;--see, some
one draws near, farewell for a time!"

Ere Ivan had time to make any answer to this extraordinary
communication, the speaker had escaped, and following her with his eye,
he traced her, until she rejoined the party of dancing girls, who
shortly moved away from the spot.

On returning in search of Thaddeus, he pondered on what he had just
heard.  "Extraordinary being that she is," thought he; "what secret
motive can so deeply interest her in my actions, and how can she become
acquainted with plots and conspiracies of such deep import?"

At first, he hesitated to mention the occurrence to his friend; but, on
their return to the hotel, when he was rallied on account of his silent
and meditative mood, he informed him of the warning he had received.

Thaddeus laughed loud, as he expressed his opinion; "Truly, indeed, this
is an excellent excuse which the pretty Gipsy has discovered for
renewing her acquaintance with you; why, Ivan, I see through it all.
She has fallen desperately in love with you, and would have told you so,
had you given her the slightest encouragement, and the time been more
opportune."

Ivan indignantly repelled the idea.  "No, no!" he said, "her manner was
too earnest--too respectful to bespeak any such inclination.  She
naturally feels gratitude for our aid in rescuing her from the power of
that smiling faced ruffian, the Count Erintoff, and, in return, has
warned us of the revenge he meditates for our interference, and which
she has, by some means, discovered.  With regard to the more important
part of her disclosure, I confide in you with an equal trust to that she
has reposed in me.  I gather from her words that a plot is being laid to
overthrow the whole mighty fabric of this despotic government, which now
appears to stand on so immoveable a foundation."

A laugh again burst from his friend, who replied, "Your vivid
imagination, my dear Ivan, carries you beyond the limits of probability;
though I sincerely wish it were so; but I rather think that the pretty
messenger's sole view, was to excite your curiosity, in order to gain
another interview."

"Time will shew, Thaddeus," replied the other, "I differ entirely from
you, and, until then, I will not give up the opinion I have formed of
Azila."

Immediately on quitting the public promenade of the citizens, and
previously to their return to the hotel, Thaddeus drove to a far distant
scene.  The aristocratic promenade of Pedroski leads through a
magnificent forest; the grounds encompassing the venerable chateau are
laid out with perfect taste, and are ornamented with every variety of
tree and shrub.  Here they were among the votaries of rank and fashion;
the elite of Moscow; vying with each other in the magnificence and style
of their equipages.  Elegantly dressed ladies, reclined in their
carriages, and proud seigneurs covered with decorations, and followed by
their attendants, galloped by with erect and haughty mien.  Dashing
young officers, in their brilliant uniforms, were displaying themselves
and their mettled steeds to their own satisfaction--if not to that of
others.

Whilst they were in earnest conversation, on the subject of Azila's
warning, a messenger arrived to summon Thaddeus home, on account of the
illness of his father.  He accordingly departed, leaving Ivan again
alone.  Left to his own thoughts, a heavy weight oppressed his spirits,
for his mind dwelt forcibly on the mysterious import of Azila's words.
At one moment, his calm reason warned him not to listen to the seductive
arguments that might be used to induce him to join in an attempt, which
would too probably lead to the utter destruction of all engaged in it;
and, then again, his enthusiasm would be aroused, and he confessed the
enterprise was well worthy of a severe struggle.

He was alone in the hotel on the following day, when a noble of some
consideration, whom he had frequently met in society, was announced.

The visitor, as soon as the servant had retired, looked cautiously round
the room, and approaching the door, secured it.  "I would be private,"
he whispered, "and free from any chance of interruption, for I have a
communication of deep importance to make:--are we safe from
eaves-droppers?"

"I believe so," answered Ivan, wondering to what grave matter such
cautious preliminaries would lead.

"Can I trust to the most inviolable secrecy in what I am about to say?"
inquired the stranger guest; "but why do I ask, for I am satisfied that
I may."

"Undoubtedly you may, Sir," proudly replied Ivan, "in anything not
opposed to my honour."

"Far from it," hastily rejoined the other.  "Think not for a moment that
I would propose aught that would reflect disgrace on your name.  I
pledge you my own word of honour; that all I require, in return for my
disclosure, is inviolable secrecy on your part; any step farther I leave
to your own judgment."

"Speak on," answered Ivan, "whatever you may reveal, shall never pass my
lips."

"My confidence is fully confirmed," replied the guest, "or I should not
have visited you.  You were last evening in the `Allee des Peuples' with
your friend, Stanisloff; you were there accosted by a Gipsy girl, whom
you had previously known; she beckoned to you, and you followed her.
You recollect the words she uttered--`The day of the regeneration of
Russia is at hand.'  Nay, start not, no one overheard you: she was but
performing a commission for others of power and of influence--a task she
gladly undertook.  You have been marked by them as one fit to assist in
the noble cause in which they are engaged.  Azila, the Gipsy girl, is
one of the chief means of communication with our friends in all parts of
the country; she has guaranteed your honour and fidelity."

"What aid can I afford to the cause of freedom?" inquired Ivan, "when I
am myself utterly powerless; opposed as you must know the Baron
Galetzoff to be to any measures calculated to give liberty to the
people."

"We well know that the son has far different opinions to those
entertained by his father; we are also well aware that the Baron is a
staunch upholder of despotism; but, need I ask--is it incumbent on the
son to adhere to the despotic principles of his parent?  No!--I feel
confident that you at least, will not."

The stranger, as he spoke, had intently watched Ivan's countenance, and
appearing to gather confidence, continued--

"That you will ultimately join us, I anticipate with satisfaction;
meanwhile, however, come and hear our plans.  These I dare not utter
within these walls, for even they may have ears and a voice to carry the
tale; but, would you know more, I will conduct you where all will be
disclosed.  Will you accompany me?"

"I must deeply consider the matter, ere I answer you; but tell me," said
Ivan, "where I can meet you, should I consent."

"On the banks of the Moskowa, beneath the walls of the Kremlin, is a
secluded walk, which is entered from the public gardens--you doubtless
know it; there we may escape observation; our converse secure from the
lurking spy.  At dusk this evening--may I reckon upon your coming?"

A few minutes succeeded, during which Ivan appeared wrapped in thought.
At length, he answered firmly--

"I will meet you at the spot and hour you name, and, though I do not
engage to enter into your views, I swear that your confidence in me
shall not be abused."

His visitor smiled, and replied: "With you, fear has doubtless little
influence; but there are some who require that motive for secrecy; and
imagine not that a thought of treachery can be harboured, without
drawing down instant retribution.  At dusk we meet again, adieu!"

Ivan ushered the stranger to the door, the latter, passing out into the
street, assumed the easy and careless air of the numerous loungers
thronging around him.

How little can the passenger through the crowded streets tell of the
varied thoughts, feelings, and passions, which fill the breasts of those
who encounter him!  The grief and agony; despair and hatred; the
avarice, love, or beneficence, the joy, or careless indifference of the
wayfarers; the man whose dearest tie has been torn from him; the ruined
gamester; the assassin, advancing to his work of blood, the miser to his
hoards; the father to his offspring; the lover to his mistress; the
Samaritan, hastening to relieve the distressed; the long-absent
traveller, to his home; the fop, the fool, or the wise man; every
character is passed in succession each instant, unheeded and unknown.

Volume 1, Chapter IX.

Ivan, once having resolved to follow the guidance of his new friend,
looked forward with eagerness to the approach of evening; and, ere the
time had arrived, throwing his cloak about him, he sauntered forth in
the direction of the Kremlin.

This venerable pile, regarded by the inhabitants of Moscow as the
heart--the sacred place--the tabernacle, as it were, of their city, was
anciently a fortress of the rude and fierce Tartars; and indeed, at that
period, the whole of the city was contained within its walls.  It stands
on a commanding site by the banks of the Moskwa, whose waters wash its
base, surrounded by high and ancient walls of a triangular form, nearly
two miles in extent.  Its area encloses numerous cathedrals, gorgeous
palaces, churches and monasteries; surmounted by towers, belfries, and
steeples; displaying every variety of architecture, including the
Tartar, Hindoo, Chinese, and Gothic.  Above all this vast pile rises the
lofty tower of Ivan Veliki, its golden ball now reflecting the rays of
the setting sun with dazzling brilliancy; the whole forming a strange
mixture of barbaric splendour, blended with the stately elegance of
modern times.

There are no regular streets within the Kremlin, the buildings being
raised around several open places or squares, to which the inhabitants
resort for walking or driving.

The walls, which are surmounted by battlements and watch-towers, have
five gates, the principal of which is the "Saviour's" or "Holy Gate."
Through this awe-commanding portal no male, not even the Czar and
Autocrat of all the Russias, may pass, save with uncovered head and
bended body.

Through this gate, Ivan now proceeded bareheaded, and entered a noble
esplanade, commanding one of the most interesting views of Moscow,
having in front the range of the palaces of the Czars, with their varied
and fanciful style of architecture.  He paced its extent for some time,
meditating on the important affairs which he was likely to be suddenly,
and as he could not but admit to himself, rashly engaged in.

As the shades of evening began to close around him, he left the Kremlin
by one of the less remarkable gates, and sought the appointed place of
rendezvous.

After traversing the walk several times, he began to suspect that he
must have mistaken the time and place, as no one appeared; or that his
new friend had been prevented from keeping the appointment by some
unforeseen circumstance.  He accordingly determined to return to the
hotel, when suddenly, as if springing from the earth, a dark figure
stood before him, so closely muffled as to baffle recognition.  Ivan
recoiled a few paces, so unexpectedly did the figure come upon him; and,
as his mind recurred to Azila's warnings respecting the secret revenge
of the Count Erintoff, the idea of treachery presented itself, and his
hand clutched the pistols concealed within his breast.  Thus prepared,
he confronted the stranger, friend or foe as he might prove to be.

"Why come you here?" demanded the figure, in a voice unknown to Ivan's
ear.

"In search of him who appointed a meeting with me here," answered the
young man.  "Know you aught of him?"

"Behold him before you," said the visitor of the morning, stepping
forward, and speaking in a tone which the other immediately knew.

"It is well," replied Ivan.  "Your feigned voice at first deceived me.
But how came you so suddenly upon me?"

"All, you were taken unawares," said the other.  "You then did not
observe my skiff, as I guided it noiselessly under the bank, and landed
when you had turned the other way while I closely watched you.  It
behoves all of us, in these times, who seek success in bold enterprises,
to be wary in our movements.  But we have no time to lose; and now to
the matter on which we have met."

"Speak on," said Ivan.  "I am prepared to hear, and shall not forget my
promise."

"Listen then," said the other.  "Ivan Galetzoff, you are far better
known than you are aware of.  Since you came to Moscow you have been
constantly followed, and your words marked.  Many, of whom you are
totally ignorant, know you, and admire your principles; and further,
have selected you as fit to engage in noble and daring deeds."

"You surprise me!" exclaimed Ivan, yielding to flattery, so difficult
for youth to resist when administered to the very points on which he
probably prides himself; "I did not deem myself of sufficient importance
to have notice taken of my words and actions."

"I speak but the truth respecting you," answered his companion.  "Say,
do you not abhor despotism and tyranny?  Do you not cherish the love of
freedom, and the happiness of your fellow-creatures?"

"I both detest tyranny and love freedom," answered Ivan; "but what
service can my single arm afford, either to overthrow the one, or to
defend the other?"

"Much," hastily responded the stranger.  "You do not stand alone.  Your
principles are supported by thousands of spirits, noble as your own.
The sacred cause of liberty must, and will be triumphant over all her
base opponents."

"I fear that our chains are too securely rivetted, to be wrenched
asunder," answered Ivan, "and too many are interested in forging fresh
links to leave us hope of freeing ourselves, even at the sacrifice of
our heart's blood."

"You labour under a false impression, my young friend," answered his
companion; "for all classes join heart and soul in this glorious work.
Indeed, the Despot has no greater enemies than many among the highest in
the land, who feel their chains more galling than do the humble serfs;
again I ask you, do you not wish success to their gallant spirits
engaged in the noble attempt?"

"Most earnestly do I hope they may succeed," said Ivan.

"Enough," answered the conspirator, for such he declared himself, "I
need test you no more; for I place implicit confidence in you.  This
evening, the advocates of Russian Liberty hold a meeting, and, as I
anticipate that ere long you will join them with heart and hand, I will
introduce you to them."

"Lead--and I will follow," replied Ivan, with enthusiasm; "my heart
yearns to join any who advocate so noble a cause, and I trust I may not
prove unworthy of it."

"No time must then be lost; e'en now they are assembled," rejoined his
companion, "their place of council is at some distance, and speak not,
till I give the word, for we shall be obliged to pass the police
patrols, ever watchful and vigilant."

"Forward then," said Ivan, "and rely on my prudence."

The conspirator stealthily led the way down a path to the margin of the
river, where they found a small skiff, capable of containing three
persons--a rower resting on his oars being already seated, who, on a
signal from the former, pulled rapidly down the stream.  Continuing
their course in silence for some time, the oarsman abruptly ceased
rowing, and the little bark glided swiftly into a dark and narrow creek
on the opposite bank of the river.  Ivan followed his guide on shore,
while the boat held her course again down the narrow stream.

As they advanced, lights were visible in the apartments of many handsome
buildings, and Ivan found himself in a respectable part of the city,
though one in which many vestiges still remained of the devastating
conflagration which had reduced Moscow to ashes.  His guide threaded in
his way many lanes, and traversed wide streets, till suddenly retreating
to the back of a handsome mansion, that had lately been raised from the
ruins which surrounded it, he gave a low and peculiar knock at a wicket
gate, opening apparently into a garden.  The signal on being twice
repeated, was answered by a decrepit old man, with a long beard and
tattered dress, who unclosed the gate, but instantly relocked it, as the
two visitors entered.

"Who is it," said he, "seeking to disturb the old serf Kersoff at this
late hour?--If any wish to buy his garden produce, let them come by
daylight, and not rouse him from his bed."

The guide whispered a word in the old man's ear, and he retired to his
hut by the side of the gate.

The light afforded by the starry heavens enabled Ivan to distinguish the
appearance of the place where he stood, which seemed to have been a
large garden, now filled with ruins; apparently the remains of buildings
of considerable extent.

Passing over heaps of rubbish, his guide stopped at what appeared to be
a small summer house--also in a ruinous state; the same signal as before
was given, and the door opening, admitted them into an apartment in
total darkness.

Ivan for a moment hesitated to follow; the idea of some diabolical
treachery--such as he had heard of too often--again rushing on his mind;
yet, quickly determining to brave the worst, he prepared to go on.  His
guide spoke a few words to the person who had admitted them, and who yet
remained concealed, and then offered his hand to Ivan to conduct him
onwards.

"The neophyte must pass through darkness before he can reach the light,"
he whispered; "but fear not, it will soon burn brightly on you.  Ah!  I
feel your pulse beats calm and regular, such are the nerves we require;
do not speak now."

They descended a flight of steps, narrow and winding, till they were
again stopped by another door, which was opened, on the like signal as
before being given, without the porter being visible, and they found
themselves in a small chamber, lighted by a single dim lamp suspended
from the ceiling.  The walls were hung with black; a chair, and a table,
on which were placed a skull and cross bones, an hour glass, and writing
materials, were the only furniture.

His guide again spoke.  "This," said he, "is the chamber of meditation;
if you doubt, you may draw back.  Stir not from hence till I return,
when I will lead you to undergo your ordeal, should you still nobly keep
to your determination of engaging in our cause.  I need not tell you not
to fear, or to shrink from an ordeal which you will pass through with
ease, though it may fright nerveless fools.  I now go to prepare the
friends of freedom for your coming; adieu!"  Saying which, the
conspirator disappeared through a door opposite to the one by which they
had entered, and which closed with a loud noise behind him.

Ivan looked round, not a door was visible; he was a prisoner, he knew
not where.  Left to his own reflections, he half repented the step he
had taken.

"I like not this mummery," thought he.  "How weak I have been to put
such implicit trust in a man of whom I know so little.  He may, after
all, have deceived me; but it is now too late to retract, and if
deceived, I must suffer for my folly, and will boldly carry through the
adventure."  He threw himself on the chair.  "Emblem of mortality!" he
exclaimed, looking at the skull, "to this must we all come, and to a
brave man, what terrors canst thou bring?  Death, what have we to fear
in thee?  Why, then, should I hesitate, when thou, happen what may, must
be the victor at last!  Thou art, at the same time, the mighty despot of
all, and the only true dispenser of liberty!  Thou canst conquer the
proudest potentates, and make all men equal--and yet I fear not thee;
then, why should I fear aught else?  Time flies quickly; I learn this
lesson, that one must not delay when work is to be done!"  His eye
caught sight of a sheet of paper, on which were inscribed several
questions.  He seized the pen, and wrote appropriate answers.  He
remained lost in thought.  "Yes," he exclaimed, "the die is cast; I will
plunge boldly in, nor dream of retracting."

He had just come to this conclusion, when suddenly, three dark figures
stood before him enveloped in cloaks, and their features concealed by
masks.

"You must consent to be for a time deprived of sight," said one, "ere
the true light can shine on you.  Are you ready to undergo your ordeal?"

"I am prepared for every ceremony necessary," answered Ivan; "do as you
will!"

One of the dark figures advanced, a handkerchief was tightly bound over
his eyes, and he felt his hand grasped by some one.

"Follow me," said a voice, "we have a long and toilsome road to take,
full of difficulties and perils, such as you dream not of finding here;
but true courage and perseverance will carry you through all dangers."

"Lead on then," said Ivan, "I am eager to undertake the journey."

Ivan felt that he was led from the chamber, when a sudden rush of cold
air met him, almost stopping his breath.  He then seemed to be climbing
over rough rocks, from which he had to spring to others, following the
guide's directions; then a torrent seemed to be rushing at his feet,
into which he appeared every instant to be ready to fall, so slippery
was the broken ground.  He felt himself next led up a steep mountain,
the ashes on its sides giving way under his feet as he climbed, till at
length, he reached some harder ground, when, no sooner did he appear to
have attained the summit, than he was as quickly obliged to descend, and
to pass through some low and damp cavern.  On a sudden, his guide
bidding him spring forward, and dragging him at the same time, enabled
him to evade an icy torrent, which broke overhead.  On, on he went; but
he neither hesitated nor trembled.  A loud din now assailed his ears, of
a strange variety of confused sounds, and in a moment he found himself
near some immense furnace, into which he appeared to be about to plunge,
when his guide drew him aside, as the fierce and forked flames rushed
after him.  Again he heard a loud noise, and this time it was
intelligible.  He could distinguish the clashing of swords, the shrieks
of the wounded, the cries of the victors.  He was in the midst of some
fierce combat.  On every side was heard the jarring sound of weapons; he
felt them whirling round his head, as his guide protected him; their
sharp edges seemed to pass close to his ears, the struggling combatants
swept by him in their desperate strife, but he remained unharmed.  On a
sudden, the silence of death reigned around.  He stood alone: some one
presently approached, and a deep and solemn voice thus spoke--

"Ivan Galetzoff! you have shewn that you can go through the lesser
dangers and difficulties of life without shrinking; but have you courage
to face the worst, for what you have just undergone is as nothing to
what you must suffer, before we can confide in you."

"I am prepared for the most terrific dangers, and fear nothing."

"Stay then," said the voice; "answer our questions.  Wherefore did you
come hither?"

"To meet those who are lovers of true freedom," answered Ivan.

"You speak well," said the voice; "are you ready to devote your talents,
your fortune, and your life, to their sacred cause?"

"Most willingly would I do my utmost to win true Liberty for Russia," he
answered.

"Are you willing to take the oaths which bind all the members of this
association?"

"I would be equally bound to support others, as they are to support me,
but I cannot pledge myself to measures of which I know not the aim."

"You speak sensibly," said the voice, "that we do not demand.
Inviolable secrecy and fidelity are all that is required of you, but
oaths must not be taken in the dark: from henceforth, may the light of
liberty shine as bright and purely as this flame."

At that moment, the bandage fell from Ivan's eyes, and he was almost
blinded by a dazzling and brilliant flame which burned before him.  On
recovering his sight, he found himself standing in the midst of a circle
of persons, the points of whose swords radiated towards him.

"With these swords we swear to protect you! to gain true liberty for
Russia, or to perish in the attempt, with them in our hands!--and with
these swords we swear to destroy any, who, by word or deed, shall betray
the trust reposed in him!--We swear!" uttered all the persons present.

"Our aims are these," added the first speaker: "to curb the despotic
power of the autocrat; to abolish the exclusive privileges of the
nobles; to place every subject of Russia on an equal footing of liberty;
to liberate the serfs from the thraldom under which they groan; to have
but one law in the land to govern all men."

"To these we have sworn," responded the conspirators.

"Ivan Galetzoff! are you ready to swear to do your utmost to aid in the
accomplishment of these objects?"

"To all this I solemnly swear!" said Ivan, repeating the secret form of
the oath.

No sooner had he uttered these words, than the conspirators dropped the
points of their swords, which they had hitherto held up at his breast,
and advanced towards him with extended hands, exclaiming--

"Welcome, our brother in the great work of the regeneration of Russia!"

"We will leave you now," said he who appeared to be the conductor of the
ceremony, "till it be time to summon you to the assembly of members;"
saying which, the conspirators disappeared by a number of separate
doors, from the chamber, which was much larger than the one where he had
been previously left, and Ivan again found himself alone.

The room was vaulted, and lighted by a number of lamps, shedding a
bright glare on the various devices with which it was ornamented; but
Ivan was too much occupied and confused by the strange adventures he had
gone through to examine them.  He had now banished all hesitation and
doubt, having once made the step from which there was no retracting, and
he stood with dilated eye, compressed lip, and determination on his
brow, boldly prepared to redeem, to the utmost, the pledge he had given.
He had not much time left for thought, when his friend, who had
conducted him to the place, entered, summoning him to follow, and led
the way down a flight of rude and broken steps, through a long passage,
ascending to a door, through which proceeded the sound of many voices.
He presently found himself in a rude, but large and vaulted apartment,
in the centre of which was placed a long table, surrounded by a number
of persons, who rose at his entrance, and he was desired to take a seat
by his guide, near the head of the table.  As he gazed around him, he
recognised, to his astonishment, the faces of several nobles whom he had
met in the first circles of the society of Moscow, though, with the
greater number of persons present he was unacquainted.

The association comprised men of rank, fortune, and influence; military
officers; grave citizens, distinguished from the rest by their beards
and long coats; and even some who appeared to be lowly serfs.  All
present wore an air of anxiety and eagerness on their countenances,
conversation being carried on in an undertone: meanwhile, several others
entered, and took their seats at the board.  When all were seated, the
president of the meeting arose, and silence ensued.  He was a man long
passed the prime of life, of a tall and commanding figure, whose
expansive forehead, piercing eye, and firm set lips, marked one fit to
command.

"Countrymen!  Fellow Russians!" he cried, "the sacred cause of liberty
is advancing with rapid strides, and soon may we hope to see its
standard unfurled, and floating proudly in the face of our panic-struck
enemies.  To those who have not yet had an opportunity of hearing our
ultimate ends and aims discussed, I now address myself.

"We have not combined to overthrow religion, virtue, and honour, order,
and wholesome government; no, my countrymen! our purpose is rather to
confirm and strengthen them throughout the land.  We war alone against
vice and tyranny, unjust power and misrule.  These shall crouch
trembling before our triumphant standard.  I ask you, is it right--is it
just, that one man should rule millions, by the fiat of his will--that
he should be the sole and undisputed master of their lives and
properties?  Are Russians worthy of the name of men, while they tamely
submit to bow their necks to so despicable a yoke?  Who amongst us is,
for a moment, safe?  The noble, the citizen, or the serf, by the single
word of a tyrant, may be deprived of his liberty, his property, and his
life; each amongst them is liable to be torn from his home and family--
from all that is held dear and sacred, to be bound in chains, and sent
to pass a life of exile amidst the dreary wilds of Siberia.  Can we
longer submit to be thus enslaved?  No--justice, honour, manhood forbid
it!

"We have, moreover, other enemies to contend with.  We must attack the
privileges of those vain and dastardly nobles, who, bending their necks
to the yoke of the despot, aid and abet him in his tyranny; for without
them, how could his power stand?  Are not the rest of their countrymen
equal to them in intellect, in talents, in virtue?  Why then should they
be allowed to hold in slavish subjection, creatures, human as
themselves, with the same blood and sinews, with hearts beating to the
same impulses, with thoughts as free, and sentiments as noble, as their
own?  There are many among us here of aristocratic birth,
disinterestedly refusing to avail themselves of their privileges, and
animated by a spirit of the most exalted philanthropy, who have arrayed
their power under the banner of freedom."

The speaker paused; his eye proudly surveyed the assembly, and the
countenances of all tacitly echoed his sentiments.  He resumed:

"My brave, my loved countrymen! pardon me for speaking of myself; but I
must do so to afford you an example.  I was born of the privileged
class.  I once held high rank, noble possessions, unbounded wealth, and,
as I thought, power.  I was young, and vainly fancied myself happy and
free.  I dared to speak the thoughts of my heart, which were bold and
free, under the impression that I was too far removed from the authority
of the Emperor, to fear his anger.  I dared to assert the right and just
independence of man--to utter the word liberty.  Yet how had I deceived
myself in my dream of impunity; for a word spoken thoughtlessly, I was
deprived of my rank, stripped of my wealth, dragged from my family, and
banished from my rich possessions, to the barren soils of Siberia.  I,
who had been brought up in the most luxurious indulgence, was driven
over hundreds of weary leagues, bare-footed, and in chains, exposed to
the inclemency of the weather the lash of the brutal guards impelling my
drooping, my exhausted steps.  Each time that the sharp thong became
crimsoned with my blood, I swore deeply that no human power should
prevent me from returning, and straining every nerve to overthrow the
tyranny which could allow such atrocious barbarities to be perpetrated.
I passed many years in banishment, forgotten, and unknown.  At length, I
escaped, to return to my native city; and here again I vow to accomplish
that noble purpose, or to perish in the attempt.  Russians, you know my
history--many here will remember my name.  The same fate may await any
of you, when least expected; and thus you are all equally interested in
rescuing our country from so abject a thraldom.

"Is it not preposterous--is it not shameful, that men who, with the
light of education, have by their own exertions gained wealth, must
still wear the vile mark of bondage; that they cannot without their
masters' will be free, and that their children must be brought up as
slaves!

"To liberate the serfs from their state of galling vassalage, is, in
itself, a great and noble work.  No sooner shall the bright folds of the
standard of liberty be displayed, than thousands, tens of thousands of
that now debased class, arousing from their lethargy, will flock around
it, and proclaim the regeneration of Russia!  For this cause we are all
ready to shed our blood; and again do I swear never to sheath my sword
till our holy, our glorious object is accomplished."

Every man simultaneously animated by the same spirit, stood up, and with
one accord, drawing their weapons, exclaimed together "We swear to
accomplish the regeneration of Russia, or to die in the attempt."

The president was succeeded by several of the conspirators, who in their
turn rose to address the meeting.  Some were fierce and fiery
characters, to whom mild measures were distasteful, and who would be
satisfied with nothing short of the total overthrow of the Imperial
family; the abrogation of all the privileges and titles of nobility; and
the establishment of a republic, in which each member of the government
should be elected by ballot.  Ivan was at first carried away by the
enthusiasm, and force of eloquence displayed by some, but he soon
discovered, that many were actuated by motives far different from those
which they professed; some by vindictive feelings; others by the
anticipation of succeeding to offices and employments, from which the
present occupiers would be thrust.  Some, bankrupt in purse and
character, hoped to reap a harvest amid the general confusion, which
must ensue on a revolution, having themselves nothing to risk; but few
of the whole number perhaps, were solely influenced by the exalted
principles of liberty.

The meeting, after numerous speeches, and discussions, at length broke
up; no plan of proceedings having yet been arranged.  The conspirators
departed a few at a time, each man as he reached the open air, shrouding
himself in his cloak, and bending his steps in various directions across
the mass of ruins, so that no two persons sought the same path at the
same time.

As Ivan was about to depart, he was accosted by the friend who had
brought him to the meeting.

"You have acted well, and nobly," said he; "and I trust that you may
never have reason to repent, that you have engaged in this just cause.
Ere we go, I will explain to you the secrets of this place of meeting.
This large vaulted chamber was a cellar belonging to a mansion,
destroyed at the burning of the city, during the French occupation.  The
former inhabitants of the place have all died, or have left Moscow; and
no one knows of this vault, save the owner of the new house, and he is
one of the principal and most active members of the Association.  He
discovered the vault amid the ruins, and prepared it for our meetings:
he himself never approaching it, except at night, and by the many secret
exits, he has formed with indefatigable labour.  In every avenue are
trusty guards in various disguises, so that there is but little
likelihood of a surprise; yet, should we by any chance be discovered, we
are prepared to sell our lives dearly.  I will now lead you forth;
follow--but at a short distance behind me."  Threading several passages,
they gained the open air, and passing from the garden by a different
gate, to that by which they had entered, after a short walk, Ivan found
himself in a part of the city, with which he was acquainted; his guide
then bidding him farewell, he returned to his temporary home.

Volume 1, Chapter X.

It has been the constant aim of the Imperial Court to draw within its
focus the noblesse from all quarters of the Empire, with a view to keep
them more entirely under the eye of government, tempting them with
ribbons, stars, and titles.

However well the plan has succeeded with the poorer nobles and many
indeed of the more powerful, attracted by the pomp and magnificence of
St. Petersburg, no lures have been found to decoy others equally rich
and influential, who prefer the independence and freedom they enjoy in
their palaces at Moscow, and country-seats, to the formality and tedious
etiquette of the court.  The Czar, therefore, naturally regards with a
jealous eye, those who shun his presence,--as inimical to his rule, and
none more so perhaps, than the proud and wealthy patricians of Moscow,
known to possess the liberal principles so subversive of despotism: men
who prefer to reside with their families among the ancient retainers of
their house, and to enjoy the freedom, and surpassing beauty of their
native city.

Not so, however, the Count Erintoff; he kept at a distance from the
court, and the eye of authority, that he might enjoy greater license for
his vices and profligacy.  His palace stood in the environs of the city,
and was furnished with all the magnificence and luxury for which his
fortune gave ample means.

It was a stately mansion, and had been rebuilt after the conflagration
by his father; a nobleman every way qualified to fill the high station
he held; but who with culpable indulgence had not paid that attention to
the education of his son, which would qualify him to be a worthy
successor to himself.  Magnificent mirrors and pictures adorned the
walls; couches and hangings from the East; objects of virtu from Italy;
of decoration, from France; and furniture and all the appurtenances of
comfort from England, filled the rooms.

The Count was pacing through his spacious galleries with hasty steps,
when a servant submissively approached him.

"How now knave! what want you here?" said the Count, angrily; without
noticing the person of the intruder.

"I come to bring you the information you sent me to gain," answered the
man.  "I have been partly successful."

"Ah, Groff! is it you, faithful villain.  I did not expect you so soon,"
said the noble.  "What is the information you bring me? for if I
recollect right, you had a variety of commissions to perform."

"Why, what I should think would please you most--about the Gipsy girl,
who before slipped through our fingers," answered the man.

"What of her, knave?" said the Count, in an angry tone at his servant's
freedom of speech; but the man seemed unmoved as he answered, "She is
now in Moscow, I passed her just now on my way here, and I have formed a
plan by which I think I can induce her to come here."

"Tell me not of your plans, knave!" answered the Count.  "I require no
suggestion but must have execution, and you shall then have the reward I
promised.  But say, when do you expect to succeed with this most notable
plan you talk of?  The girl is not to be entrapped so easily as you
anticipate."

"By to-morrow at furthest, or perchance this very day, if my messenger
can find the girl, though he may have some difficulty in falling in with
her; but you may have changed your mind, Sir.  Is it still your pleasure
that she come here?"

"Yes, knave; and mark me, if you fail and disappoint me, you shall
suffer!" said the Count.  "Now, tell me quickly, how you hope to
succeed; let me hear all you have to say."

"In the first place, fortune has favoured us, Sir," said Groff, "for
while I was out concerning the affairs you sent me on, it appears that
two Gipsy boys were singing and playing in front of the palace, to the
idle porters and other servants, when a drosky, driven furiously by,
knocked one of them down, and left him senseless on the ground.  I know
not how it was, but Kruntz and some of the other men, were seized with a
fit of humanity, and brought the wounded boy within the palace, and when
his companion was crying over him, some of them bathed his bruises and
hurts.  I arrived at that time, having just encountered the damsel of
the same race where I told you.  A thought struck me, that I might turn
the accident to some account.  I found that the boys did not know in
whose palace they were; and after some talk with the one who was not
wounded, I contrived to learn that he belonged to the same tribe as the
girl you are in search of.  I accordingly hinted to the boy, where she
was likely to be found, and persuaded him to set off, in order to bring
her to his brother, as she was better able to cure him than any doctor.
I told him, therefore, that this was the palace of the Prince
Raziminski, into which she will not fear to enter; and having directed
him to mark it well so as not to forget it, sent him off to bring her
here immediately.  Have I done well, Sir?"

"I have no great expectation, that your ill-contrived scheme will
succeed," answered the Count, stiffly; "I know she will not come!  What
else have you to communicate?"

"Somewhat with respect to the son of the Baron Galetzoff.  I think Sir,
you may soon have your revenge on him."

"Ah!" exclaimed the Count, looking deeply interested, "what of that
youth? could I wreak my vengeance on him, and win the girl into the
bargain, I should be contented.  What have you to say of him?"

"Why, Sir," replied Groff, "I have discovered where he resides, and have
dogged his steps constantly; once or twice I have been nearly
discovered; but have hitherto eluded him successfully.  I know all his
haunts, his habits and his movements; and I find that he constantly
passes a spot where a dagger might reach his bosom, without fear of the
deed being discovered.  You have thus a full opportunity of satisfying
your vengeance."

"What, villain!" exclaimed the noble, indignantly, "do you think that I
have become a common assassin, to strike my enemy in the dark?  I would
have revenge; but not such as your dull brain can invent.  In what part
of the city, do you say you have seen him?"

Groff mentioned a part of Moscow, near the spot where the conspirators
held their meetings.

"And at what time did he usually pass by?"

"Soon after sun-set," answered Groff.  "I marked him on his way from the
hotel; but each time I lost sight of him, soon after he passed that
spot: I have then waited for hours till his return; but before long, I
hope to discover where he vanishes to, and he will be clever if he again
escapes me.  I have my suspicions, that he is not the only person who
visits that part of the city by stealth; for I confess that I have twice
made a mistake, and followed different people, when I was in search of
him."

"That must be looked to," said the Count, "we may find that something is
going forward worth discovering; beware, that you do not make a mistake.
For myself, I would not imbue my hands with blood.  It would be but
slight satisfaction to feel my dagger entering his bosom, and his warm
life-blood streaming from the wound: I leave those feelings to the
passionate, fiery-blooded Italians.  Yet, mark me Groff!  I hate the
young Galetzoff, and it would be enough for me to know that he had
ceased to live.  There are many dark lanes in Moscow, and the
Istvostchiks are great villains, and often commit murder with no better
object, than for the sake of the paltry sums a person may have about
him; you understand me.  I loathe the very sight of that youth.  He
faces me with the coolest indifference, as if he had not injured me to
the utmost; and yet there is something in his eye, when he meets my
gaze, by which I have strong suspicions that he knows me.  I cannot rest
till I am revenged on him.  You will probably win one reward, and here
take half for what you have already done, in earnest of the future."

The Count then tendered a purse which Groff weighed in his hand, as if
to consider whether the bribe was high enough for the deed.  "I will do
my best to please you, Sir," he answered.

"Enough, I need now say no more then; ten times the sum you hold in your
hand shall be yours, if, by chance, I hear of that youth's death.  The
police are not over vigilant in those matters, and I think the Baron
will take no great pains to discover the author of his son's death, for
he seems not to have much love for him.  Now leave me, and think well on
what I have said.  Should the Gipsy girl fall into your snare, let me
immediately know of her arrival; but take care that she does not see
your face--that alone is enough to frighten her, and she would remember
it.  See that the wounded boy is well tended, that he may learn to speak
well of the owner of the mansion; and let the girl remain some time with
him, if possible, ere I go to her."

As soon as Groff had disappeared, the Count continued his walk through
the corridor.  "Fortune seems to favour me," he soliloquised; "as to
young Galetzoff, I need trouble myself no more;--his fate is sealed!  I
saw that in the look that villain Groff gave, as I promised him the
gold!  His eyes glistened as he seemed eager to clutch it.  He is a
faithful ruffian, and well earns his reward.  Such slaves as he, would
sell their very souls for gold; and I, some would say, would sell mine;
but oh! for what?--Not for gold; no;--for revenge--for love--for power--
a worthy exchange too!  What would life be worth, if one could not enjoy
all three?

"That Gipsy maiden has enchained me.  I scarce know why, but, though
lowly her lot, there is a fascination about her which I cannot
withstand.  I must win her at all hazards in some way.  Either gold or
flattery must gain her; she must be more than woman if she holds out
against the two combined.  And if she does, with that proud and haughty
air she possesses, she is worthy to become the Countess Erintoff, though
that is an alternative I would avoid.  Bah!  I cannot think I shall be
brought so low as to sue at the feet of a Gipsy!"

While the Count was thus uttering his thoughts aloud, Groff returned.

"Success attends us, Sir," he exclaimed.  "The maiden is at length safe
within your palace, from whence she may have some difficulty in
escaping, though she firmly believes that she is under the roof of the
most grave and virtuous Prince Raziminski, and continues heaping
blessings on his head, for his charity in protecting one of her tribe."

"Enough, knave! the reward shall be yours," said the Count.  "In what
part of the palace have they put the boy?"

"I will lead you to it, Sir," answered Groff, "for I doubt if alone you
could find the room."

"Shew me to it then, and leave me," said the Count; "your presence would
alarm the maiden!"

Saying which, he followed Groff down several flights of steps, and
through long passages to a room in the lower part of the palace.  He
then waited at the half open door, through which he heard the sound of
voices.

"I thought that few of the nobles of this city possessed charity
sufficient to shelter a humble Gipsy boy; but I see that I am mistaken,
and may blessings rest on the head of the good and kind Prince," said
Azila.

"He is indeed, kind," said one of the boys, "for he has sent us
abundance of good things to eat, and his servants told us we should have
more, and that he would send us away with plenty of money in our
pockets."

"He will not go unrewarded.  See, Conrin!  I have bound up your
brother's arm, and he will now do well, and if the kind Prince will let
you remain, you must take charge of him, for I have matters of
importance to attend to, and must away!"

Hearing this, the Count moved from the door, and went in search of a
servant.

"Go quickly," said he, "to the chamber where the wounded boy and the
Gipsy girl are, and say that the Prince--mark you, the Prince, your
master, desires to see her, ere she departs, to inquire how her brother
fares; then conduct her to the state apartment.  Guard her well, and see
that she escapes not, by any chance."

The Count repaired immediately to the magnificent room he had mentioned,
to await the coming of Azila.  The floor was covered with rich Turkey
carpets; superb pictures, and mirrors, reaching from the ground to the
highly embossed ceiling, ornamented the walls, the latter reflecting the
luxurious and handsome furniture which filled the room, while from the
windows was seen an extensive view of the beautiful city of Moscow.

"Though other means have failed," he said, "I will try if she is not to
be tempted by this display of magnificence and luxury to become the
mistress here.  Surely a girl, brought up beneath a skin-covered tent,
cannot resist such a temptation; and if so, my conquest is easy."

He stood partly concealed by the thick drapery of the curtains; a light
step approached; Azila entered the apartment, and the door was closed
behind her.  She was dressed in the same graceful costume as when Ivan
and Thaddeus had first seen her, except that a cloak, worn over her
dress, almost concealed her form.  She advanced to the centre of the
apartment, ere she had perceived the Count, when he turned towards her.
She started slightly as she saw him, but betrayed no other sign of
trepidation or fear.

"I must have been deceived," she said.  "I came to thank the noble
Prince Raziminski for his kindness and charity to a wounded boy of my
tribe; but it seems that to you is due the credit of that charitable
deed.  I will send some of our people to take away the child, and beg to
offer you our grateful thanks for your charity in taking care of him.
With your leave I will now depart."

She was turning to go, when the Count advanced somewhat nearer towards
her.

"Lovely girl," he said, with an impassioned air, "I took advantage of
the boy's accident, and used an excusable artifice to draw you here.  I
sought but to see you, to convince you of the ardour--the truth of my
affection.  Believe me, that I regret the violence I before used, which
your coldness--your cruelty compelled me to resort to.  Let me hear my
pardon from those lips, beautiful maiden! 'tis all I ask for!"

"For the favour you have done to one of my tribe, I would endeavour to
forget any injury you would have caused me.  Beyond this, I have nothing
to forgive: I bear you no malice, noble Lord! and all I now ask is leave
to depart," said Azila.

"Still haughty and cold! why this indifference? you know not the love--
the passion--with which your charms have inspired my bosom.  Surely it
cannot be in your nature to be thus so cruel to me, who love you to
desperation, who would do ought to please you.  Behold this spacious
palace! these magnificent chambers!  Are they not superior to your
skin-covered tents?  Remain, and you shall be mistress of all;
numberless servants will obey you; sumptuous fare shall be served to
you; boundless wealth shall be at your command.  Every luxury and
indulgence which love can invent shall surround you, if you will but
consent to accept them at my hands.  Whatever you may desire--any
thing--every thing shall be granted to you?"

"I make but one simple demand," answered the maiden.  "It is to be
allowed to depart, free as I came;--more I cannot say."

"Have you no other answer to make than that, cruel, inexorable maiden?
Hear me!" exclaimed the Count, throwing himself at her feet, and seizing
her hand, which she vainly endeavoured to disengage.  "Hear me!  I love,
I adore you to desperation; your very coldness has inflamed my passion!
the bright glance of your eyes consumes me; the sweet tones of your
voice thrill through my frame, and drive me to madness at the thought of
losing you!  I cannot exist without you.  Hear me once again!  I offer
you wealth, power, unbounded luxury!  I offer you more--my name--my
rank--for well could you, as the Countess Erintoff, grace that station.
Speak, ere I die at your feet, for I rise not till you give me hopes of
life and happiness with you."

Azila for an instant seemed moved, and turned aside her head, to avoid
his fixed gaze; but there was no answering softness in the expression of
her full bright eye.

She spoke at length: "Rise, noble Lord! rise, you but demean yourself by
thus bending before one humble as myself!  I am grateful for your
generous offers, but I cannot accept them.  A captive can make no just
conditions with his jailor, and I still ask but one favour; to depart as
I came."

The Count started from the ground, astonishment and rising fury blending
in his look.

"Can that heart," he exclaimed, "be so frozen by the frosts of winter,
that it is callous to the voice of love?  But no, it would be contrary
to the law of nature, it is impossible!  Maiden, you love another!  I
know it--answer me--is it not the truth?  By heavens!  I cannot brook a
rival in your love, and he shall deeply rue it!"

As the Count spoke, a blush did now for the first time rise on her
cheeks and brow, and as he went on threatening his vengeance, with
furious action against his rival, the colour again forsook her face, and
left her as she then stood in an unintentionally commanding attitude;
like some lovely statue of a goddess uttering her commands to mortals.

"If my love is given to another, why ask me for what I no longer
possess? but I say not, that it is so.  Again I ask to depart; for in no
way, while an unwilling prisoner, could I make any engagements with my
captor."

The Count advanced furiously again to seize her hand, but she started
back a step from him.

"Girl," he cried, "think you I can tamely submit to be thus despised, to
have my love--my devotion trampled on.  Again I ask you, consent to
return here--to become my Countess! to accept my love, and you are free
to depart; my carriage shall then convey you where you will."

"It cannot be," answered Azila, firmly, "I have but to repeat my former
words."

"Rash girl, your obduracy has driven me to madness, and the blame must
rest on your own head!" exclaimed the Count, again springing forward to
seize her; but she calmly retreated, placing her hand beneath her vest.

"Proud noble, forbear!  I fear you not, for I venture not abroad without
the means of defending myself, since you first taught me the necessity
of so doing.  Advance another step, and you either destroy me or
yourself."  The Count seemed again about to spring forward, when she
drew a dagger from beneath her vest, and pointed it to her bosom.

"See," she said, "my weapon is of so fine a tempered steel, that even my
feeble arm will suffice to protect me."

The Count stood astounded; he seemed fearful of advancing, and unable to
speak, as she continued:

"Now let me depart, lead the way and I will follow you.  See!  I hold my
firmest protector to my bosom, so attempt not to stop me, or the first
hand that is laid on me will be the signal of my death.  I fear not to
die, so think not to detain me; with full confidence I leave the boys of
my tribe under your care."

The Count exclaimed, "Inexplicable girl! you have conquered for a time;
I now obey you! but you have kindled an inextinguishable flame within my
bosom, which will consume us both.  We must soon meet again.  I will
lead the way as you desire."

Uttering these words, the Count led the way from the apartment towards
the hall of entrance, where the domestics stood with amazed looks, as
their haughty lord passed, followed by the humble Gipsy girl.  The
portal stood open as Azila passed out, bowing coldly to the Count, when
he stepped aside to allow her to pass; she did not cast a glance at the
others who were present.  She seemed more like some distinguished guest
respectfully attended to the entrance of the mansion by her host, than
one of a despised and lowly race, escaping from the toils of a proud and
libertine noble.

The Count retreated to the upper apartments of his sumptuous palace,
moody, and furious at his defeat.  The ruffian Groff was then summoned
to attend him.

"Hear me, villain," he exclaimed, "the youth I spoke of must die!  I
will have no doubt or hesitation on your part.  The sum I promised you,
when I hear of his death, shall be doubled; although you have enough to
revenge for your own sake, without requiring any other stimulant.  Mark
me! he has again crossed my path, so let there be no delay, for I cannot
longer endure the thought that he should triumph over me."

"Your orders are sufficiently clear," Sir, answered Groff, "and they
shall be obeyed without fear of the consequences.  I am not a man to
hesitate in my duty to so generous a master; and perhaps you will
recollect that my first plan succeeded as far as it was in my power; the
ultimate failure will be no fault of mine."

"I understand you, knave, you would receive your wages as you proceed;
here, take this purse, it contains a trifle in comparison with the sum
you will be soon possessed of, if I do not mistake.  Now begone! and let
me not see your face till you can bring me the news I wish to hear."

Groff departed, and the Count continued pacing the floor with feelings,
of which few would envy him the possession.

Volume 1, Chapter XI.

It was a dark and stormy night.  The wind blew in violent and fitful
gusts through the ill-lighted and irregular streets, now and then
entirely extinguishing some of the few straggling lamps, while the
remainder gave but a feeble and uncertain light, as the rain rushed down
in torrents, making the road and pathway slippery with slime and mud.

The night had just closed in; yet, notwithstanding the inclemency and
boisterousness of the weather, and the difficulties of the road, persons
were still wandering abroad on various avocations, when a figure closely
muffled in a large cloak, (apparently to shield himself from the
tempest), issued from a side door of the palace of the Count Erintoff.
He walked hastily along, keeping on the darker sides of the streets, as
if to avoid recognition, and paused not till he reached the hotel where
Ivan had taken up his abode.  He remained concealed beneath the shelter
of a porch, on the opposite side of the street, into which no gleam of
light penetrated; though a lamp, burning in the doorway of the hotel,
enabled him to command a distinct view of all who might enter, or
depart.  Thrusting his hand in his bosom, he thus muttered to himself:

"Ah! most trusty weapon, thou art not likely to fail me, if my arm
proves true.  Far better is the silent and sharp dagger to do such a
deed, than the noisy and treacherous pistol, which has often failed a
better man than myself, on a like occasion; yet, I did well to bring my
noisy friend, in case, by any chance, the first should fail to strike
home.--Ah! some one approaches."

Groff, for it was he, drew farther back into the shade, to prevent
himself from being seen by the stranger who was about to pass.  At that
moment, a person with a light and active step, completely shielded from
the weather, walked quickly by, so that Groff could catch a glance of
his features.  He had not long to remain after this on his watch, when a
figure appeared at the door of the hotel, whom he guessed must be his
intended victim; for having cast a look at the dark and clouded sky, the
person issued forth in the direction Groff expected him to take.  The
ruffian accordingly emerged from his hiding-place, and stealthily
followed, at a short distance, the steps of his hoped for prey.

It was impossible to distinguish the figures of anybody, on such a
night, wrapped up as all were who ventured abroad; but Groff felt that
he could not be mistaken, both from seeing his intended victim issue
from the hotel in which Ivan resided, and from the direction he was
taking.

The person walked rapidly along, threading the intricate and obscure
streets, without hesitation; every now and then, however, drawing his
cloak closer around him, and casting a hurried look behind, as if to
observe if he was followed.  On these occasions, Groff contrived to
shrink under the shade of some buttress, or projecting wall.  Owing to
his being perfectly well acquainted with the streets, and knowing each
turning the person would probably take, he was enabled, successfully to
dodge his footsteps, till he had arrived in the neighbourhood of the
mansion previously described, in the garden of which the meetings of the
conspirators were held.  The man there stopped, and looked cautiously
around, retracing his steps for a short distance, as if to assure
himself that he had not been followed; throwing a scrutinising glance,
as he lifted his hand to shade his eyes, down two or three narrow lanes,
which there turned off from that along which he had passed.  He seemed,
however, satisfied, and was about to pass on.

"Now is my time," thought Groff, who had hidden beneath a dark arch way,
"I will now rush forward, and strike him, to make sure, and save myself
a long and disagreeable watch; but he looks as if prepared for danger,
and I may find a warmer reception than I wish, or he may cry out and
give the alarm, before I have time to escape."

While Groff was thus debating with himself, the person again walked on,
unconscious of the danger he had so narrowly just escaped; and the
assassin, fearful of being discovered after his evident wariness, if he
pursued him further, concealed himself carefully under an arch, let into
a wall, which had at one time served as an entrance to the garden behind
it; but, for some reason, the inner part was now blocked up with stones,
leaving, however, a recess sufficiently deep for a person to hide within
it.

"Here I will await his return," muttered Groff; "he has never yet failed
to pass this way, and I have well marked his figure, so that I should
know him if there was but a glimpse of light.  I wish I had followed him
to find out where he goes to, for there may be some secret worth knowing
in that.  It is an odd place for a person to come to so constantly, and
I should make a fine thing of it, if I discovered any hidden plot, which
the Count could reveal to the Emperor; it would bring him into high
favour, and I, his follower, would benefit by it.  I might easily manage
to get rid of the youth in some other place, and if I slay him now, I
lose my opportunity.  But no! one scheme is but a chance, while his
death will give me a certainty of reward."

Having thus made up his mind, Groff remained in concealment for two or
three hours, till he began almost to fear that his victim had escaped,
by passing some other way.  He watched with breathless expectation--
anxiously looking forth from his place of shelter.  The rain still fell
in torrents, and flashes of lightning now and then darted from the
heavens.  One flash, brighter than the others, almost blinded him, as he
grasped his dagger firmly in his hand; but he was no coward, though but
a common ruffian, and he did not tremble.  He again drew back, and
listened attentively.  Footsteps approached, he could not be mistaken;
he heard the light and quick step advancing--nearer and nearer it came--
he feared to breathe lest the sound might reach his victim's ears--he
more firmly clutched his dagger.  With one foot advanced--his arm raised
ready to strike, he stood pressing his body against the wall; he could
distinguish the very breathing of him who was approaching.  The figure
filled the archway--the assassin sprang from his lair, his dagger's
point towards the breast of his victim.  The lightning flashed brightly
in forked streaks from the sky and played round the blue steel, but it
failed to bring heaven's vengeance, as it glanced before the eyes of the
doomed one.  He started back, but, alas, too late! the sharp point
pierced his bosom.  Too firmly was the assassin's arm nerved; deep--
deep, he drove his murderous weapon home; his whole force was in the
thrust.  Loud rolling peals of thunder reverberated through the heavens,
as the work of blood was doing, and drowned the dying groan of the
murdered man.  Heavily he fell, struck down by the force of the blow.
No sigh escaped his breast; but the foul midnight murderer was not
content; drawing the reeking steel from the wound, his teeth grinding
with fury, his eyes starting from his head, he plunged it again, and
again, to the very hilt, into the bosom of the fallen man, the warm
blood spouting from each fresh wound, and dyeing his hands.  He stooped
down, tearing aside the cloak and vest, seeking with eager haste, to
feel the bosom of him whom he had slain, to find if perchance it yet
palpitated with life; but well and truly had he done his work; a deep
deadly wound had pierced that heart, which, but a few moments before,
had beat with confidence--true patriotism--high hopes and aspirations;
inflicted by his foul hand.

For a moment, a gleam of satisfaction passed through the murderer's
bosom that his work was accomplished, and his reward gained; but an
instant afterwards, and oh! for ten thousand worlds would none have
exchanged the most wretched poverty for the feelings which possessed
him.  It was his first cold, deliberate, mercenary shedding of blood; he
felt himself to be an accursed wretch on the earth.

He could not fly, a fascination chained him to the spot; his fingers
were clammy with blood, thick clotted to his dagger's handle.  He sought
for a pool that he had stepped in near the spot; he tried to wash away
the damning stains, but he knew that to be impossible.

In the exciting moment of the murder, he had been thoughtless of the
blood which flowed over him, but he now observed that he was covered
with it.  The rain again fell in torrents, he stood exposed to its fury,
to let it wash away the stain.  It revived him; his thoughts again
returned to their accustomed channel.  The recollection of the money,
for which he had done the deed, recurred to him; avarice seized his
heart, and he remembered that, perchance, the murdered man might have
gold about him.

He now neither trembled nor hesitated, as he felt about the body of his
victim.  With joy he clutched a purse, by the size and weight of which
he knew it must contain gold; he felt in the breast, he drew from thence
a packet of letters; a thought struck him that they might be of use to
his master; he also possessed himself of watch and jewels.  He was
satisfied: no regret, no compunction for the deed oppressed him.  His
callous indifference had returned; an idea then occurred to him--
horrid--diabolical.  He searched around, to find some large stones, and
with all his force he dashed one on the head of the murdered man; he
seized another, and another, and hurled them with fury on the head of
his victim, till he knew that every feature must be obliterated.

Again the lightning flashed brightly, and shewed him his work.  He gazed
on the ghastly spectacle; the thunder rolled terrifically, and seemed
about to cast its bolts on his head.  Even the assassin, callous and
hardy as he was, now trembled, he could stand no more, and fled hastily
from his cursed work.  On--on--he went, nor dared to look behind him,
for he felt himself pursued by some phantom of tremendous, of horrid
aspect.  There was a weight at his breast, his brain burned; he longed
to shriek, to give vent to his feelings; but his voice seemed choked, he
could utter no sound.  He felt a longing desire to rush into fierce
strife, to find more and more to slay, more to destroy.  He was like the
tiger who has once tasted of blood; nothing could slake his thirst;
blood--blood he longed for, and still he fled away from that he had
first spilled; but he thought he could blot out, with fresh blood, the
remembrance of that dreadful deed.

He was flying on, a sort of brute instinct guiding his way, when he was
called to his senses, by the loud challenge of a sentry from some
government building.  In a moment, he was again himself, the bold,
careless ruffian; he answered calmly to the challenge, and was allowed
to proceed onward; he drew his cloak closely around him, and walked
towards the palace of his master, with a steady step; but it still
required some exertion over his nerves, to prevent himself from rushing
onward at his former pace.

At length he reached the palace, and knocked at a side door, where
Kruntz was in waiting for him.  His fellow ruffian started, as holding
up a light, he caught sight of his pale, haggard cheek, his starting
eye, and the dark red stains with which, as his cloak fell off, his
dress was besmeared.

"What work hast thou been about now, Groff?" asked the man, "thou
look'st like some wandering ghost."

"A butcher's!" answered Groff, in a thick husky voice; "but ask me no
questions.  Where is our lord?  I must see him directly; I have matters
of importance to communicate."

"Would'st go to him in that pretty guise, friend?" said Kruntz; "truly
it would please him much to see thee thus.  Look at thyself in a glass,
man, and thou would'st not much admire thine own countenance; if thou
didst look always thus, thou would'st have but poor chance with the fair
damsels thou seekest to captivate, and even men would be apt to shun thy
company.  I, for one, should not much like to be as near thee always as
I now am.  Get thee in, man, and change thy draggled garments."

"Aye, I forgot me," answered Groff.  "Say not a word, Kruntz, nor rouse
the other knaves.  I'll go change these wet garments, and then present
me to our Lord; here, give me thy lamp."

Thus saying, Groff seized the lamp from Kruntz's hand, and turned the
light away from himself.  "Go, tell the Count, that I have returned and
will give my news, when I am fit to appear before him."

While Kruntz went to report the return of Groff, the assassin hastened
to throw off his blood-stained garments, which he carefully tied up in a
bundle, and hid them away together with his dagger; then having washed
all stains from his cheeks and hands, he presented himself before the
Count Erintoff.

He entered the room abruptly.  "The deed is done which you required," he
said; "to-morrow morning the whole city will ring with it, and I may
then claim my reward.  I made sure work, and the youth will never more
stand in your way."

"Good," answered the Count, "you shall have your reward.  Come to-morrow
to claim it."

"It is well and hardly earned, let me say; and here is something that I
found in the breast of the youth; these papers may give you some
information," said Groff.

"Let me have them," said the Count.  "Is this all you found upon him,
knave, eh?"

"Nothing farther; I stayed not to search him," answered the ruffian.

"Well, well, it matters not," said the Count; "leave me, I will examine
these papers."

The murderer gladly withdrew from the presence of his instigator to
crime, to join his companion, and to drown his conscience with wine;
first examining and then carefully hiding the spoils he had taken from
his victim.

The Count, when left alone, eagerly tore open the papers he had
received, though he shuddered as on the outer packet, he caught sight of
the stains of blood; the blood of the youth he had so heartlessly, so
revengefully consigned to an early death; but all thoughts of remorse
for the deed were forgotten, as he glanced his eye over the documents.
Some were in cypher, but others he perused with the deepest interest.
As he read, he exclaimed aloud: "Ah, this is a fortunate discovery!  How
many do I now hold in my power!  Ah, and you too!  The man I hate!  I
shall be amply revenged on him!  My fortune is on the ascendant!  By
Heavens! this information is worth a princedom to me!  Ay, and I will
gain it too!  I would have sacrificed a thousand lives to have gained
it!  My revenge satisfied, now for love!  Ah, beautiful but haughty
girl, your lover dead, you will now become mine; you will soon willingly
come to my arms.  Fortunately, that villain cannot read, nor has he even
looked at these papers; I must not let him guess at their contents, or
he may make higher demands on me.  I trust he has not kept back any
other papers; but no, he has given these as my share, and has kept the
youth's gold, if he had any, to himself:--he is welcome to it.  But if I
give information of this affair, may I not be suspected of the murder?
However, that matters nothing; the government will be too well pleased
to gain the information, to inquire very minutely how I came by it, or,
if they should, I may easily invent a tale to account for it.  I must
see to this."

Volume 1, Chapter XII.

We must now turn our view to a chamber in the chateau of the Baron
Galetzoff.  It was furnished with heavy and old fashioned hangings which
gave it a solemn and sombre air, increased by the windows being closed
to exclude the glare of day; one stream of light alone entering through
the curtains, and throwing a still darker shade into the rest of the
room.  Two female attendants stood by the side of a couch, on which
reclined, now wan and emaciated, that unhappy and mysterious lady, whom
Ivan had so short a time before left in health, and all the majesty of
beauty.

Her eye fixed and regardless of all around, her thoughts seemed to be
far away, wandering perchance amid the scenes of her youth, with the
loved beings of other days, whom she had long, long ago lost, but soon
hoped again to meet in other and happier realms.  As she gazed, their
airy forms flitted before her eyes, and the well remembered lineaments
became clear, and distinct, beckoning her to follow.  She moved not, she
spoke not, and as the attendants looked on her, they thought her spirit
had departed.

A slow and gentle step approached: it was that of a venerable
grey-headed man in the robes of a priest, whose clear, calm eye, and
placid countenance, betokened an amiable and tender heart.  He seated
himself quietly by the side of the couch, but the movement roused the
lady from her seeming trance, and she turned her eyes towards him.

"Daughter," he said, "I could not rest away from your side, and as soon
as I had performed the duties which called me hence, I returned to
afford you all the consolation of which religion has so great a store."

"Father!" she answered in a low voice, "to your instructions do I owe
the great, the inestimable benefits which I may now partake of; else had
I remained like the beast that perishes, without that faith and hope
which now sustain me."

"Daughter! those are the sentiments which should possess the bosoms of
all who are about to leave this vale of tears," continued the holy man;
"clear your thoughts of all things appertaining to this world, and fix
them on the next."

"I would do so, Father, but I cannot!" answered the lady.  "I must, ere
I die, see one, the dearest to me on earth; till then I cannot tear my
thoughts from him.  Has he arrived?  Oh! that I could see him, ere my
spirit wings its flight from hence.  Oh! let there be no delay when he
comes, for each instant I feel the throbbing of my heart grow weaker."

"There shall be no delay, my daughter! a faithful messenger has been
sent to summon him; but, when I just now entered the house, he had not
arrived," said the priest.  Scarcely had he uttered the words, when the
lady exclaimed, "Ah, I now hear his horse's steps approaching; oh!
haste, Father, and bid him come hither."

"You are mistaken, daughter, I heard no sound, and he could scarcely
arrive by this hour," answered the priest.

"Ah, no!  Father, I mistake not, even now I hear his footstep in the
hall.  He approaches.  Oh, my heart! cease not to beat, till I have seen
him once again," she exclaimed, nor had her sense of hearing deceived
her; rendered still more acute, as her other faculties were fast
failing.

In a few moments, a gentle knock was heard, and the dwarf entered.  "I
know that he is come," said the lady, "oh! let me see him without delay;
and holy Father, I would be alone with him."  The priest rose to obey
her wishes, and withdrew with the attendants, as Ivan entered.

As she saw him, her faded eye brightened; and she stretched out her arms
to receive him, as throwing himself on his knees by the side of the
couch, he shaded his face with his hands, and a convulsive sob escaped
his bosom.

"Do I find you thus?" he exclaimed after a moment's pause, "my friend--
my kind protectress? why was I not before apprised of your illness? why
was I not here to solace and comfort you?"

"I knew not that death was making such rapid strides towards me,"
answered the lady; "but think not that I am unhappy.  Now that I have
you with me, loved one!  I am content to bear my lot; but I must not
waste these precious moments, for I have much to say and my time on
earth will quickly end.  Listen to me," and she spoke in that language
which she had taught Ivan in his youth, and in which they loved to
commune together.

"Can you remember the early days of your youth, and those scenes of
which I once forbade you to speak?" she said.

"Yes--yes--vividly can I now recall several to my mind," answered Ivan.
"I remember a strange land, and scenes far different to this country;
and also your kindness, your love from my earliest days."

"Think you that the affection and fond solicitude with which I tended
your youth, could ever have been felt by any but a mother!  None but a
mother could feel the undying love which I bear for you.  My boy! my
child! come to my arms, and let me hold thee there, before I die.  You
are--you are my son, and though in life, I dared not, for your sake,
acknowledge it, I rejoice to die, that now I may declare the truth
before all the world."

"My heart always told me so," exclaimed the young man, fondly embracing
her, as she held out her arms to receive him.  "O my loved mother! would
that I might thus have called you before! but say who is my father?  Is
it not the Baron?"

"Thank great Heaven! no, my loved son--no!  Your father was noble,
generous, and brave; methinks, I now see his noble countenance reflected
in my boy; but my strength fails me, my voice grows weak.  Listen, ere
it be too late, to my story.

"It was in our own loved and beautiful land, amid the magnificent
mountains, the green and fertile glens of Circassia, that your father
was distinguished as one of the noblest and bravest chieftains.  Five
thousand daring horsemen assembled at his command, ready to follow
wherever he should lead.  Many of the neighbouring chiefs were subject
to him; all honoured or feared him.  He kept free from the feuds which
distracted and weakened the other tribes, and all sought to be in amity
with him.  He had numerous flocks and herds, which fed on the richest
pastures; he had abundance of wealth; fleet and hardy steeds; rich
armour and apparel; faithful and devoted servants.

"I was the daughter of a neighbouring prince; your noble father sought
and won me in marriage.  We had two children, you my loved son, and a
fair young daughter; how my heart has bled as I have thought of that
lovely cherub, whom I have been destined to see no more, and whose fate
I tremble to think of!  But our happiness, which seemed as full as
mortals could enjoy, was destined to be fleeting and transitory; we were
awoke, suddenly and without preparation, from our short-lived dream of
bliss.

"Our territories, which extended over many of the rocky and precipitous
mountains bordering on the sea, had hitherto, on account of their lofty
situation, almost inaccessible to attack, escaped the devastating visits
of the invaders of our country.  Our home was near, the coast, and your
father, confiding in the security of our situation, had gone with the
greater part of his followers to repel a distant inroad of the enemy,
leaving only a few to protect our herds, when a fleet of the lofty ships
of the Russians, made a sudden descent on our coast.  Their troops
landed in numbers, and stormed the passes leading to our dwellings,
destroying the fields of corn on their road, and carrying off, or
killing all the cattle they could seize; the few of our men remaining in
the neighbourhood assembled in haste, and disputed each spot of ground
practicable of defence, with all the energy and bravery of despair; even
the women seized arms and joined the men, aiding them to their utmost;
some hurling down stones on the heads of the invaders, as they defiled
through each narrow gorge.  But what could a handful of men do, taken
almost by surprise, against a host of well-equipped and ferocious
enemies?  Frantic with our hopeless efforts, we fought till our men were
all slain, for none would yield, while they had strength to use their
weapons.

"My heart sickens even now at the wanton and cruel butcheries which the
ruthless barbarians committed.  The children were torn from their
mothers' arms and slaughtered in their sight; some few of the women
however escaped with the infants under their charge, among whom was your
young sister, and gained the mountains, beyond the reach of their
pursuers.

"A ruffian was about to destroy you, my boy, when you were rescued from
his grasp by a more humane comrade, who, as I afterwards found, was a
servant belonging to the leader of the enemy's forces.  From a height
overlooking the pass, I beheld you borne away in the arms of the
soldier, and I sought to throw myself down, to tear you from the
robber's grasp, or to share your captivity.  I was, however, forcibly
prevented by my attendants, who deaf to my entreaties and disobedient to
my commands, when I ordered them to release me, compelled me to remain
concealed in a cavern from the sight of our enemies.  The Russians had
retired from the defiles and passes in the mountains and encamped near
the seashore, under protection of the guns of then ships; we, the
wretched and melancholy few who remained, watched from the neighbouring
heights, there passing the live-long night, for we had no homes to
return to; our once smiling dwellings were burnt to the ground, our
streams choked with the dead, and tinged with their blood, our cattle
carried off, and desolation reigned around.

"We were aroused from our lamentations over the fallen brave, by the
arrival of a band of horsemen, who had been sent back by your father;
they proposed to delay making any attack on the foe till their numbers
could be increased from the neighbouring villages; but I thought of you,
my boy--you a prisoner in the hands of our enemies, and I dreaded lest
they should set sail, and bear you far away without a hope of recovering
you.  With lamentations and entreaties, with tears and commands, I urged
on our men to the attack.  I shewed them the ignominy, the disgrace,
which would cover them, should they allow an enemy, who had devastated
their lands, slain their kinsmen, and carried away captive their wives
and children, to escape, without attempting to revenge their loss.  I
pointed out to them that the son of their beloved chieftain was in the
power of their enemies, and that should they discover the value of their
prize, they would endeavour to bring us to terms, disgraceful and
injurious to our country, for the sake of recovering him.  I excited
their valour--I fired their souls with my eloquence, wrought to the
highest pitch by a mother's anxiety--I offered to lead them, putting
myself at their head, and swore never to return unsuccessful.

"We sent out messengers in all directions around, summoning all who
could be collected to join our forces.  None hesitated to obey our
summons, for the same detestation of our invaders animated the breasts
of all.  Before the morning broke, we had assembled from all quarters an
irregular, but heroic band, eager to be led against the common foe.
From the thick wooded heights, which overhung the coast, we rushed down
upon the unprepared camp, like some mountain torrent, suddenly swelled
by the thunder cloud, sweeping over the plain, bearing all before it.  I
felt not like a weak, timid woman, but as the enraged lioness, whose
young has been torn from her by the hands of the huntsmen.  I sprung to
rescue you; by word and action, I encouraged our men to the assault, and
heeded not the overwhelming numbers opposed to us.

"The Russians roused from their sleep, ere the out-posts could give the
alarm, rushed to their arms; many, owing to the confusion and darkness,
missed their weapons.  In an instant we were upon them; and as corn
before the sickle we hewed them down, none crying for mercy; they knew
they deserved it not, we shewed none.  But ere our work was done, the
morning broke, and exhibited our scanty force to the enemy, who rallied
at the sight, and retreated fighting in order.  But I had not recovered
my child, and it was for that object alone that I fought.  Suddenly, I
caught sight of you at a distance, with other prisoners amid the ranks
of the foe.  I strained every nerve to reach you--I saw not the blows
aimed at me--I encouraged my followers, and on--on, we rushed, fearless
of the danger, and ignorant of the vast power of the mighty engines of
destruction which their huge ships bore.  Fighting step by step, we
repelled the Russians, till they gained the very margin of the sea, and
then, just as we thought victory secure--their ships opened upon us
suddenly the hot shower of their artillery, which no valour could
withstand; my brave companions fell fast around me while fighting, and
still hotly pursuing the foe, till death arrested their course.

"Scarcely any remained by my side, when it seemed that a sickness came
over me, and I fell to the ground, and knew not what further happened.

"When I awoke to consciousness, I found myself on board of one of the
Russian ships, borne far from my native land.  I endeavoured to recall
my scattered senses: a fever raged through my brain, as I was conducted
into the presence of the chief who had led the attack on our territory--
he was the Baron Galetzoff!"

Ivan's brow grew dark, and an exclamation of anger rose to his lips; but
he restrained his passion.

"He eyed me with a glance which pierced me through my soul, as I stood
with my head bowed before him, nor could words find utterance through my
parched lips.  He spoke, but I was deaf to the sound.  Strange people
were around me; an uncouth language was spoken, whose meaning I could
not understand: entreaty, resistance, complaint, were alike unavailing.
I had none to appeal to from whom I could hope for assistance.  I knew
myself to be utterly helpless; none around me could understand my words.
I was led back, unresistingly, to my solitary cabin.  I yielded to my
fate, for all thoughts of escape were hopeless.  I thought of death as a
refuge for my wretchedness; but one idea, one hope still sustained me,
and bade me cling to life.  I might, should you have escaped
destruction, still have a chance, though a remote one, of meeting with
you.  The very thought restored me.  I determined to live to devote my
energies to find you; for I knew not of the difficulties in my way.  The
ship in which I was borne captive from Circassia, reached the shores of
Russia; and I was transported to this mansion in some strange
conveyance, which I had never before seen.  I was here treated with
every care and attention, having female attendants to wait on me, and to
supply all my wants.  From them I learned gradually the strange language
they spoke, being inspired with the hope that it might be of service to
me in my search after you; and sustained by this deep feeling, I became
partially reconciled to my fate.  I had not seen or heard of my captor
since I left the ship, except that, as far as I could understand, he was
still absent from his domain.

"My sole delight and employment was in wandering through the woods,
while thinking of you, and in forming many different projects to
discover to what part of the country you had been conveyed.  On one of
these excursions I had gone further than usual from home, and had for an
instant lost sight of my attendant, when a child's cry caught my ear.  I
rushed forward eagerly at the sound, for the notes vibrated through my
heart like some beloved and well-known voice.  I was not to be deceived.
Oh! joy of joys! blessing unspeakable! it was you, my own loved boy--
far off, I knew you.  I sprang forward--I pressed you to my bosom--I
covered you with kisses--I placed you on the ground: again and again I
snatched you in my arms.  I wept--I felt mad with joy; all my sorrows,
all my miseries were, for the moment, forgotten; all the happiness I had
lost, in an instant, appeared restored tenfold.  I know not if you
recognised me; but I thought you did; for you returned my embrace,
looking up smilingly in my face.

"A rough, but honest-faced looking man, broke through the woods in
search of you, and looked surprised and alarmed on finding you in my
arms.  He made signs that he must take you from me; and though I sought
to prevent it, you returned willingly to him.  With my spirit broken, I
could not dare to oppose him; and I guessed, too, from his manners and
countenance, that he might prove a friend.  This honest serf was the
father of Karl; and from him I learned that you had been carried off by
his brother, who had saved your life from the hands of some of his
comrades; that the Baron had seen you, and for some unknown reason, had
taken a fancy to you, and ordered you to be committed to his charge; and
also, that you had been conveyed to the estate at the very time that I
was, while I had been pining in despair for your loss.  Every day I
frequented the same spot, which was near the serf's hut, in hopes of
seeing you and clasping you to my bosom; when the honest fellow at
length, taking compassion on me, used to bring you forth to meet me.
Oh! the happiness, the bliss of those moments, almost repaid me the
misery I had suffered.  I was not acquainted with the Baron's
disposition; but an idea occurred to me, though I scarcely know how it
originated, that, should he discover you to be my son, he might, by
threatening to tear you from my sight, endeavour to gain more control
over me.  Every time that this thought recurred to me, it gave fresh
strength to my opinion, and I resolved, at all hazard, to profess utter
carelessness on your account; and thankful I have ever since been, that
I adopted that course; for no sooner did the Baron arrive, than my
trials commenced.  I, at first, with the most abject entreaties, prayed
to be restored to my own country, hoping to take you with me; but he
laughed at my petition; and when I pressed my demand, with some
haughtiness of manner, he sternly refused.

"All hopes of escape were as vain as the prayers addressed to my captor
had been unsuccessful, for I knew not even to what part of the country I
had been conveyed.  I thought of the beloved husband to whom I was
lost--of my sweet daughter--of friends and home; and I felt that I could
not survive their loss: but your voice, though at a distance, struck on
my ear, and for your sake I resolved to live on.

"When you were brought to the chateau, your playful manners, and light
prattle, seemed to win on the affections of the Baron, as much as his
rough and savage nature would permit; but I kept to my prudent
resolution, and pretended not to recognise you.  At first you would
oftentimes throw your arms round my neck, and call me by the endearing
name of mother, in your native tongue; but I taught you not to utter
that name, though it almost broke my heart to do so; and my artifice
succeeded; for you were constantly allowed to be with me, and the Baron
seemed to have no idea of our relationship.

"The Baron's conduct towards you was always inexplicable, for it
appeared entirely contrary to his fierce and cruel disposition, to treat
you as he has done.  I have lately suspected that he has some secret
motive for thus acting, for to me he has always been harsh and
tyrannical.

"There was one person in the Baron's establishment who soon became
entirely devoted to me--it was the dwarf Ladislau.  I pitied his
weakness and helplessness, treating him always with kindness, for which
he has shewn his gratitude by every means in his power.  From him I
learned that the Baron had, some time before, married a lady of great
beauty, who, his servants and dependants fancied, was a native of some
foreign country, though they knew not from what part of the world she
came.  Ladislau added that he himself perfectly knew, and that she was
of the Zingani race, and had been induced to marry the Baron, more for
his rank and wealth, than for any great love she bore him.  This he soon
discovered, and in revenge treated her so barbarously, that she was
preparing to fly from his mansion, but was prevented.  Soon after the
unfortunate lady died, after giving birth to a child; but, previously to
that event, she had called the dwarf to her, and given some injunctions,
which he had sworn most solemnly to fulfil, and even to keep secret
within his own bosom.

"The Baron at first seemed repentant of his jealousy and tyranny, and
grieved for his loss, seeking to make amends by his kindness to the
child, for his cruelty to the mother; but, during his absence from home
for a time, the child had mysteriously disappeared, and all his attempts
at discovering it, had proved fruitless.  Methought the dwarf gave a
sinister look, as he told me the tale.  He said that the Baron had raged
and stormed at the loss of his child, but had at length given up all
hopes of ever discovering the perpetrators of the deed; rather believing
that it had come to some violent end, and perhaps, when he first saw
you, the smiling cherub that you then were, he thought of supplying the
place of his own lost one.

"From the dwarf I learned, that the Baron bore a deadly hatred to my
country, for the reverses he had so constantly met with there; and he
had sworn utterly to subdue, and reduce its inhabitants to the most
abject slavery.  He knew little of the noble spirit which animated their
bosoms, while indulging in hopes of success against them.  Ladislau
added, when the Baron found that you, a Circassian child, had been saved
by one of his soldiers, he, with a refinement of cruelty, had determined
to bring you up, and teach you to feel the most deadly hatred against
your own countrymen, if by chance they were not subdued before that
time.  I thanked heaven that I was at hand to counteract his evil
intentions, and the aim of my life has been, to inspire you with a love
of freedom, and a hatred of all tyranny and injustice.  The Baron would
be less than human had he not one redeeming quality; having been a
father himself, he seemed, when you were a child, to have some sparks of
affection for you, beyond the object for which he has educated you.  He
has even now adopted you, and would leave you all his wealth, would you
comply with his requests.  But oh! my loved son, be not seduced by the
glittering baits he will offer--to turn traitor to your native land!
Else shall my life, and all my sufferings have been in vain.  Oh no!
even I, to whom you are dearer than all else, counsel you to hazard
death or captivity, rather than shed the blood of your countrymen, by
the side of their foes.  Let me beseech you to fulfil the lofty purpose
for which I consented to live in this hated place; and when I am no
more, as I soon shall be, then fly from hence, and endeavour to reach
your native land.  That amulet, which you carry round your neck, has
always been worn by the eldest son of the chieftain of your tribe.  No
sooner shall your father's followers see it, than they will acknowledge
you, if unhappily your noble father no longer lives.  Seek the spot
which was once your home, then proclaim yourself, and relate my unhappy
story, when all with joy will own you; and should my loved husband still
exist, give him my parting sighs."

Her voice, during this recital, frequently faltered through weakness;
and as she fell back exhausted at its close, a thrill of horror shot
through her son's frame, as for an instant he thought that, in truth,
her spirit had fled to the realms of bliss; but to his great joy, she
again opened her eyes, to gaze on him she loved so deeply, as he held
her sinking form in his arms.  He was overwhelmed with the interest of
the story he had heard; and though he had loved her before he knew she
was his mother, how deep and earnest was his gratitude now for her
devoted, her heroic affection for him?

"Mother!" he cried, "I swear to obey your commands.  Already have I
engaged in the accomplishment of a great work, after the issue of which
I will haste to that land, which oft have I visited in my dreams."

"Enough, my son, sure I am that heaven will protect you on your way; but
I have yet more to add.  When you reach your native land, oh! endeavour
to instil into your countrymen that mild and pure religion, which the
good priest, who educated you, first taught me to know.  It was once the
religion of our forefathers, and the cross--the emblem of that faith--is
still to be seen in the land.  Oh! reclaim them to the true and ancient
worship of their country.  My loved son! let me gaze on thee once more,
ere my sight fail me.  May heaven guard thy life, and make thee the
deliverer of thy country!  Then shalt thou be known by thy true name,
and well wilt thou prove worthy of thy gallant father.  I cannot longer
see thee, my son; but kiss me once more, and receive my last sigh:--when
thou bearest it to thy father, say that I loved him to the last."

She ceased to speak, Ivan felt her form recline more heavily in his
arms; no pulse answered to his touch.  She looked lovely still, but her
eye had lost that mysterious expression of the mind, when the living
soul yet animates the frame.  Her spirit had fled!

In that bleak land died the lovely exile, far distant from her own sunny
clime: but she was happy at the last, when folded in the arms of that
son for whose sake she had so nobly endured long and weary captivity.

The young man uttered no loud complaint; but laid her form calmly on the
couch, and with reverent awe closed her eyes; then gazing earnestly on
her features, he threw himself on his knees by her side.  The attendants
entered, and found him in this posture when he was aroused by the
entreaties of his faithful friend Ladislau, who led him unresistingly to
his chamber; and the kind-hearted dwarf then lavished his attentions
upon the bereaved Ivan.

The stern Lord of the mansion had been for some days absent, unaware of
his captive's approaching liberation from her misery and thraldom; Ivan
was thereby enabled to indulge his grief without interruption.

Volume 1, Chapter XIII.

The female attendants and wives of the nearest serfs assembled to utter
their lamentations over the body of the deceased, which was laid out on
a couch, with the hands crossed on the breast, dressed in a crimson
robe, and a rich coif placed on the head.  The venerable priest who had
attended her when living, came to sprinkle incense over her body; and
while thus engaged, he chaunted psalms in a low and solemn voice.

On the third day from her death, the remains of the lady were placed in
a coffin covered with crimson cloth, and surrounded with torches; from
thence it was conveyed to the neighbouring church.  At a distance,
followed Ivan unknown and unnoticed, enveloped in his cloak; and as the
priest concluded the short funeral service, he drew near, and kneeling
by the coffin, kissed that cold and inanimate hand: on that spot he
again swore to fulfil her commands, and to devote himself to the cause
of his native country.  With a tearless eye, but bursting heart; he saw
all that he loved committed to the earth, and lingered long near the
spot, until he was urged to depart by Ladislau.

The day after the sad ceremony had been performed, the Baron returned to
the chateau, but made no allusion to the melancholy event, nor did it
appear to affect him in any way.  Summoning Ivan to his presence soon
after his arrival:

"My plans are arranged," said he; "our gracious Emperor has appointed me
to the command of a strong force, to quell the rebellious Circassians;
and, in a short time, I hope to bring them under lawful subjection.
This has ever been the height of my ambition.  I own that the
difficulties are great; but if I fall, in you, Ivan, I hope to leave a
worthy successor.  In this parchment, you are made heir to all my
possessions; and our noble Czar, in consideration of my services, and as
the only favour that I have asked, will permit you to assume the same
rank I bear."

Ivan, for a time, remained silent after this announcement.  A momentous
period to him had arrived, and he almost dreaded the effects of what he
was resolved to say, in reply.

"What, young man!" exclaimed the Baron, impatiently, "are you not
overpowered with gratitude?  What mean you by this silence--that fixed
gaze--those clenched hands?  Do you hesitate to accept my offer?  Speak,
boy! thwart not my will, or you will deeply repent your folly!"

While the fierce old Baron raved like a wounded lion, lashing himself
into fury, before him stood the young Circassian, calm, but determined,
like some courageous hunter, who has been unexpectedly allured into the
lair of the beast.  After a still further protracted silence, he at
length addressed the Baron:

"I might once have accepted the noble offer you make me, Sir; but that
time is passed.  I now know who I am: and rather would I toil as the
meanest serf on your domain, than bear arms against that country--my
own, my native land.  Yes, Sir, I am a Circassian; and prouder am I to
belong to that heroic race, than to the highest rank the autocrat of all
the Russias can confer."

"What words are these I hear?" cried the Baron, furiously.
"Disobedience to my orders: rebellion against the Emperor!  Is it for
this I have brought you up--have educated you; and would have made you
wealthy and noble?  I have treated you as my own son, and never wished
you to know that I was not your father.  Who has dared to fill your mind
with such dreams?  They shall richly repent their interference and
folly."

"She, who has escaped from the reach of your power," answered Ivan:
"she, Sir, who devoted her life to me, who was my only friend--my
mother!"

"What! have I been deceived, then, by the wit of a frail woman; and have
I been nourishing a young viper, for years past, within my bosom, that
now rises to sting me.  I recall the offer I made to you.  Begone, leave
my presence! and henceforth, let me see your face no more.  From this
moment I discard you--I throw you off for ever; and beware, lest you
suffer as a traitor and rebel to the Emperor.  Even now you should be
seized: you have uttered treason and sedition, which merit full
punishment.  Before long, Siberia shall be your destination, where you
may proclaim such fantastic nonsense without fear of injuring any.  But
with such pestiferous notions you shall no longer abide under my roof.
Begone, quit my presence, or I will send my slaves to drive you hence.
Am I to be thus bearded by a boy?--my offers despised?--no gratitude
shown for my paternal care and liberality!  Begone!  Again I say, I will
hear no reply."

Overwhelmed by so many various and contending emotions, Ivan could with
difficulty collect his thoughts, sufficiently, to determine how to act.
He felt that the Baron had, indeed, afforded him many advantages, and
had but just now made him what, at all events, appeared to be a generous
offer; although he had, at the same time, treated his mother with
cruelty and injustice, which might counterbalance all kindness shewn to
himself.  His better feelings, however, conquered; and as he slowly
quitted the apartment, he turned, and was about to express them, when he
encountered the fierce look of the Baron, and saw that further discourse
would but increase his anger.

When left alone, the Baron, with furious gestures, paced the apartment.

"I would yet tame," he muttered to himself, "that proud and haughty
spirit, which, otherwise directed, might have fully answered to my
wishes.  No, no, I will let him range at large; his means will soon be
exhausted, and I shall then find him returning to crouch at my feet.
Ah! that will satisfy my vengeance; and I may then do with him as I
list.  He shall no longer remain here, nor return, until he comes a
suppliant before me."

Summoning his attendants, he exclaimed, "Let a horse be given to the
rebellious youth who has just left me, and you, Karl! take whatever
belongs to him from hence, and bear it wherever he lists.  Henceforth he
returns here no more.  Do you hear me, slaves?  Depart, and obey my
orders!"

The frightened servants hurried out to obey their fierce Lord's
commands, and the dwarf Ladislau, who had stolen in unperceived among
them, no sooner heard the order given, than he hastened to report it to
Ivan.

"My best--my only true friend!" said Ladislau, in tears, "alas! you are
banished for ever from hence, for I know that the Baron will not relent!
nor shall I be allowed to see you again.  I know not what course you
mean to pursue; but this I know, my dear Ivan, that wherever you go, you
will require money.  Now I have no need of any myself, and therefore, if
you have any regard for me, if you would not break my heart before its
time, accept this purse.  You will find in it enough to supply your
wants for some time to come, and I shall never feel the loss of it."

Ivan was affected to tears by this mark of affection from his diminutive
friend, but at the same time he hesitated in depriving him of his means
of existence, should he, like himself, be turned out into the world; but
the excitable Ladislau broke out into a violent flood of tears, as he at
first refused the gift, and swore that he himself would never touch it,
if Ivan did not make use of it.  So that at last, much against his
inclination, he was obliged to accept a small portion, sufficient he
trusted to carry him to the shores of Circassia.

After waiting some time, in the hope that the Baron's anger would cool,
he sent a message requesting permission to see him again before his
departure; but a stern refusal was the answer, and an order that he
should quit the house without further delay.  His proud spirit thus
irritated, he no longer hesitated to obey the stern command, after
taking an affectionate leave of Ladislau, who refused to be comforted.

With heavy heart, and agitated feelings, he sallied forth for the last
time from the gates of the chateau, amid looks of sadness and regret
depicted on the faces of the servants, who dared in no other way to
express their sentiments; and as he passed through the domain, many an
affectionate regard was uttered by the serfs whom he met, grateful for
his many acts of kindness to them; he then pursued his journey towards
Moscow.  On his arrival he repaired to the same hotel where he had
before resided; he now had to undergo the pain of parting from the
honest serf Karl, when he felt how few there were who cared for him; and
this man having been his particular attendant from his childhood, he
could not but feel grieved at the separation.  The poor fellow, who
would willingly and gladly have followed his fortunes, shed many tears
as he embraced his master's knees; but it was useless for him to repine,
the stern law of the land forbade him.  He was a slave chained to the
soil, and obliged to obey the owner whoever he might be; and the Baron
had ordered him to return to the chateau without delay.

It was long before he could tear himself away from the youth, whom he
had attended from his boyhood, and for whom he felt a faithful
attachment; but at length, bathed in tears, he rushed from him, mounted
his horse and returned to his place of bondage, mourning over his own
abject state, which should thus prevent him from following where his
inclinations led.  He had never before thought or dreamed of quitting
the domain where he was born and bred; but now the wish to be free
seized him, to throw off the yoke which could thus enchain his
movements.  He returned discontented and unhappy to his father's hut,
determining to seize the first opportunity to emancipate himself from
bondage.

Ivan immediately despatched a messenger to acquaint his friend Thaddeus
with the circumstances which had occurred; summoning him to his aid and
counsel.  He had now entered a new era in his existence; henceforth he
felt that he must entirely depend on his own judgment and courage, to
conduct him through the difficult and perilous way of life he had
chosen, in preference to the one the Baron had offered.

His thoughts reverted to the days of his light-hearted boyhood, and he
felt himself to be a man, indeed, with all the cares and anxieties
almost inseparable from that stage of life; but he also felt that it was
not a time for needless meditation--action, decided and instant action,
was now become necessary.

He had devoted himself to assist in forwarding a great cause, the
freedom of Russia; but then again, he felt that his own country had a
prior claim to his services.  He hesitated in deciding which plan it was
most incumbent on him to pursue.  Whether, at once to carry his sword to
the aid of Circassia, or to fulfil the first engagements he had entered
into, when he thought himself a Russian, and to assist in the liberation
of Russia from despotism.

It occurred to him, at the same time, that by following the latter plan,
he might be more effectually aiding his own country, for should freedom
once be established among the Russians, he supposed it but natural that
that people would desist from their unjust endeavours to deprive
Circassia of her liberty.

Ivan determined, therefore, to wait a short time, at least, the course
of events before he set off on his expedition in search of all which
could now be dear to him.  Country--home--father--and relations.  He had
to begin a new life: to throw off many of his old habits; to make new
friends; and to consider those as enemies whom he had hitherto looked
upon as countrymen.  While these ideas were rapidly passing through his
mind, he recollected that that evening had been fixed upon for a general
meeting of the conspirators; and as soon as night arrived, he sallied
forth amid the bustling crowds who hurried by, heedless of him and his
intentions.

But there was one who anxiously had been waiting to observe his
movements.  As he left the house, that person, who was no other than his
intended murderer, Groff, followed his steps, cautiously threading his
way among the crowd, or retiring, when requisite, from observation to
recommence his trail.

As Ivan walked quickly onwards, it struck him that he was followed, as
he had been on a former occasion, and he prepared himself for any sudden
encounter.  Without any impediment, however, he reached the place of
meeting, where he found the greater number of the chief conspirators
assembled, and several new recruits among them.

On his entrance, all turned their faces towards him, and started from
their seats.

"What! is it Ivan Galetzoff we see before us?" exclaimed one, advancing
towards him with surprise on his countenance.  "Is it possible that you
stand before us alive and well?"

"Indeed," answered Ivan, "I know it to be perfectly possible, although I
do not understand the drift of your observations.  Are you inclined to
be merry?  Yet I should suppose our affairs were too important to
furnish matter for jesting!"

"Here's some extraordinary mistake," said the conspirator, "and glad are
we to find you alive, when we thought you had been foully murdered."

"Murdered!" exclaimed Ivan, "what gave rise to such an idea?"

"On the morning succeeding the last night you were here, a person was
found, not far from this spot, murdered, with several wounds in his
breast, and his features so disfigured that it was impossible to
recognise him; it was also said that there was nothing found about his
person, by which he could be known.  Rumour proclaimed you to be the
unfortunate individual, and from your not again appearing among us, we
concluded that you had indeed been the victim."

"It is clear that we have been mistaken," said another conspirator,
adding as he turned to Ivan, "Know you not that you have broken through
the laws of our society, by absenting yourself without giving reason for
so doing; it is for the safety of all, that the movements of every
member of our association should be known to the committee of direction.
Remember, that the sword of vengeance hangs over the head of him who
shall turn traitor to our cause: secret, and sure will be the
punishment, from which the guilty cannot escape, sheltered even in the
palace of the autocrat."

"Gentlemen!" said Ivan, rising, "ready should I be to suffer a traitor's
death, were I so base as to betray the sacred--the noble cause in which
I am engaged.  No time was allowed me to apprise you of my departure,
when I was called away to attend a parent's death-bed.  If such be
considered a crime, I am ready to suffer; but rather let my actions
convince you how true and earnest I am in the cause of liberty.  You see
one before you now, ruined to all worldly prospects, and eager to assist
in the work we have proposed.  Let there be no further delay; we are
already strong in the numbers and resources of our friends.  Let us at
once raise the standard of revolt against tyranny, and proclaim liberty
to Russia, for sure I am that at the signal of deliverance, thousands
will hasten joyfully to join our ranks, and that ere long the Russians,
having thrown off the yoke of slavery, may lift up their heads among the
free people of the earth."  These sentiments were received with loud
acclamations by the majority of his hearers.

"The youth speaks well," said one of the conspirators, rising; a violent
and turbulent character, and a strong advocate for extreme measures;
"but before we take the field openly, one great object must be
accomplished, without which all our future efforts will be vain.  Will
you, who have so bravely spoken, undertake to perform that great, that
sacred work?  It is no slight deed--it is full of peril; but if success
attends your aim, it will cover your name for ever with a wreath of
glory.  It is this: let me not hesitate to declare it; and let yours be
the high honour of ridding the country of its greatest oppressor; let
yours be the daring hand to stab the unsuspecting tyrant to the heart
while revelling in the fancied security of his power; for until that
first step be taken, naught else we can do will avail us!"

Ivan rose astounded, and indignant at the vile proposition; his feelings
were responded to by the greater number of the most influential
conspirators, at the same time that they were unwilling to damp the mad
enthusiasm of others, who hesitated not in proposing violent measures;
such men being but necessary tools to work out their own more moderate
views.

"I came here," he said, with deep emotion, "to offer my sword to the
sacred cause of liberty, and not to act the abhorred part of a midnight
assassin; and cursed will be the cause which requires such means to
ensure its success.  If such be the only resources by which liberty can
be gained for Russia, I here demand back my pledge; my oath forbids me
to denounce any to the Emperor; but I will never associate with men, who
can even allow such a proposition to be made among them."

He spoke proudly and dauntlessly, and, having uttered these sentiments,
was about to quit the assembly, when several of the conspirators
gathered round him, endeavouring to calm his agitation and anger; while
others regarded him with stern and lowering glances, ready to sacrifice
him to their vengeance, should he shew the least sign of betraying them.

Though some manifested a slight opposition to his leaving the meeting,
he was nevertheless allowed to depart, by his more intimate acquaintance
undertaking to answer for his fidelity.

Hot and eager discussions then arose, and many loudly stigmatised the
vile proposition which had been made; though some still adhered to their
opinion, that they were justified in any deed that would forward the
great end.  The debate had increased in warmth, until the conspirators
formed themselves into distinct parties, when a person rushed into the
assembly, consternation and dismay marked on his countenance.

"My friends," he cried, "I have just made a discovery which places us
all in imminent danger; for instead of Ivan Galetzoff, who was supposed
to have been murdered, I find that it was the young Count Flatoff, who
fell a victim to the dagger of an assassin, having in his possession the
important dispatches for St. Petersburg, which he had undertaken to
convey thither.  Nothing was found about his person, when his corpse was
discovered, so that there is every probability that the murderer has
possessed himself of the documents.  Some of the Count's friends here
have been making inquiries for him, on finding that he had not set off,
and it was thus I first suspected that he was the person found murdered.
We are, therefore, completely in the power of whoever possesses those
papers, for even the assassin himself would obtain pardon for the deed
from the government, in return for the valuable information he can
give."

This announcement caused deep alarm among the conspirators, who
immediately broke off their debate, to prepare for departure and
separation.  But what was their dismay, when on emerging from the
garden, they found every avenue occupied by officers of police, and one
by one as the foremost appeared, were made prisoners.  The rest, seeing
the fate of their friends, formed into a body, and made a desperate
effort to cut their way through the guards; some succeeding; but by far
the greater number fell into the hands of their enemies.  Those who got
off fled in all directions, pursued by the police, but very few escaped.

Volume 1, Chapter XIV.

The young Pole, Thaddeus Stanisloff, had been appointed to a regiment,
destined to proceed with many others to join the army in the Caucasus,
now quartered in Moscow on its way to the south.  On the same day, that
Ivan had been driven from the chateau of the Baron Galetzoff, he left
his home to join his regiment; taking a farewell, which he felt might
too probably be the last, of his broken-hearted father, now rapidly
drawing towards his end, worn out by grief and sickness.  He received
also the warm and cordial adieus of his generous and high-minded host.

Thaddeus, naturally light-hearted and gay, by the time he reached
Moscow, had forgotten the sorrow of parting, and was looking forward to
the pleasure of again meeting his friend Ivan, as, soon after dusk, he
rode through the streets towards the hotel where he expected to find
him; but was disappointed on hearing that he had already gone out.  He
immediately set forth on foot by himself, in hopes of finding him at
some of their usual places of resort, when, soon after leaving the
hotel, the light of a torch falling strongly on his features, a small
and feminine figure, who was about to pass on, stopped to look
attentively at his face, and then addressed him in a timid and agitated
manner.  As she looked up to speak, the veil which had before concealed
her face dropt on one side, and discovered the features of the Gipsy
girl Azila.

"I meet you most fortunately," she said, "for you may be able to give
assistance, where it will be much required.  Are you ready to meet a
great danger to assist a friend?"

"I should be unworthy to be called a friend, by any whom I should
hesitate to aid, whatever the risk to myself," answered Thaddeus.  "But
of whom do you speak?"

"Of your friend, Ivan Galetzoff!  I have this moment been to his hotel,
in the hope of warning him of an impending danger, with which I have but
just become acquainted.  I could not trust any other with such a
communication to him; he has already gone out, and although I am too
late to prevent him from encountering danger, I may yet be able to
rescue him with your assistance."

"That, I will gladly give at every risk," answered Thaddeus.  "But how
am I to find him?  Where is he, that I may hasten to his aid?"

"That, I may not tell you," answered Azila; "but trust wholly in me, and
I will place you where you may be ready to lend your assistance, if
required."

"I will trust entirely to your guidance," said Thaddeus.

"I knew that you were too noble to hesitate," rejoined Azila, in a deep
tone of gratitude.  "Let us then waste no more time here."

"Lead the way, fair lady, and I will follow," said Thaddeus.

"Have you your weapons?" she asked, "for they may be needed."

"Yes, I carry my sword under my cloak."

"That is well," said Azila; "and now, Sir, follow me closely, and
promptly, or we may be too late."

Azila, looking back for an instant, to see that Thaddeus followed, then
advanced at so rapid a pace, threading her way through the intricate
streets, that he could scarcely keep up without running.  She crossed
the river by one of the bridges, and passed through several desolate
streets, where many of the houses had not yet been raised from their
ashes, hurrying on, till she arrived beneath the dark shadow of a broad
archway, and then paused.

Here she spoke to her companion, in a low earnest whisper: "I cannot
lead you further, but you must consent to remain here patiently, till
your assistance be called for, or until I return; as I now must hasten
to summon one of my tribe, who are in the neighbourhood, to aid in your
friend's escape.  Wrap yourself closely in your cloak, and remain
concealed within this arch; keep your sword drawn for a sudden rescue,
for I have reason to suppose that your friend will be set upon by
assassins, as he passes near this spot.  At all events, be cautious and
on the alert."

Gliding away noiselessly from the spot, she then left Thaddeus, who
forthwith retired into the darkest corner, effectually concealed from
any passer by, beneath the buttresses of the arch.  He did not exactly
comprehend by what means his friend had exposed himself to the danger,
but it was sufficient for him to know that his aid was required, no
matter at what risk to himself; and he determined to abide the result,
whatever it might be.

He was doomed to keep a long watch; straining his eyes in endeavouring
to pierce through the gloom, and intently listening, to catch the sound
of any approaching footstep; when suddenly he heard the sound of voices
in muttered conference, apparently approaching the spot where he stood
concealed.

The arch, in which Azila had placed Thaddeus, was not the same in which
Groff had concealed himself, ere he perpetrated the murder of the young
Count Flatoff, but at a short distance from it.  The former would not
have answered the assassin's purpose, being too far removed from the
lane Ivan usually passed by.  This will account for Thaddeus now
remaining undisturbed in his concealment.

"Halt here, Kruntz," said one voice; "this is the spot, I know it well,
where I have seen this cursed youth pass so often, and I recommended our
noble master to wait here for him.  Something has enraged the Count more
than ever against him, and he vows that he will not be content, until he
has passed his own sword through him.  He'll make sure of him, I
warrant."

"More sure work than you did the other night, Groff," said Kruntz.

"What mean you?" replied Groff; "what work do you speak of?"

"What mean I! why the murder of Count Flatoff!  Tush, tush! comrade,
think not to hide that from me, or fear that I would betray you.  I
suspected that you had been about some dirty work, when you came in, and
I was not long in discovering the truth."

"If you know it, what's the use of speaking about it," hoarsely muttered
Groff.  "I'll not make a mistake again, trust me.  We will have our
revenge this time, and gain a reward.  A pretty work the youth has given
us, what with watching and hunting him about so long."

"We ought to know each other by this time, Groff, and need keep no
little secrets of this sort from one another: so, no fear of my
betraying you.  But say, how did you manage to find out that young
Galetzoff is likely to pass this way?"

"Why, the Count set me to watch all his haunts; and several times I
followed him in this direction, when I suddenly lost sight of him among
the garden walls; but after waiting here, I found that he again passed
by, and each night he has done the same.  I felt certain that it was he,
when I made the mistake the other night; but I will not fail a second
time, trust me; and I know that he will come, for I am sure it was he,
we saw pass at dusk.  Ah! what is that object on the ground, Kruntz?
see, it moves!  It is too horrid to look at!" cried Groff, in a hollow,
husky voice.  "I see its mangled features.  Do you believe in ghosts,
Kruntz?"

"Ghosts--no!" answered Kruntz, jeeringly; "I never saw one yet.  Why,
what's the matter, man? you are not wont to tremble.  Rouse yourself,
Groff: be a man.  Why, what is there to care for, if you did put a wrong
man out of the way; you are not the first who has done so."

"It is well for you to laugh, Kruntz, who have no feelings; but if you
had seen the horrible sight that appeared to me just now, you would have
trembled."

"Nonsense, man," said his companion, "it was all your fancy; and now get
rid of such ideas, for here comes some one.  Be prepared!"

Thaddeus heard nearly every word of this conversation; and becoming much
alarmed for the safety of his friend, stood ready to rush out to his
assistance, for he fancied that through the gloom he saw him
approaching.

As the footsteps drew near, the voice of the Count Erintoff was heard:
"Hist, hist! what, knaves, are you there?  Kruntz, Groff, answer!"

The men who had been concealed by the arch, stepped forward as they
heard their master's voice.

"Has the person I told you to watch for appeared, or have you again let
him escape you, villains?"

"No, Count," answered Kruntz: "no fear of that.  I owe him a broken
head, and I don't forget my debts.  I should like to catch his friend,
the other young fellow; I would pay him off all old scores."

"Hush, knaves!" said the Count.  "Listen, some one approaches: be
prepared to rush out.  It is he!"

A footstep was heard.  Thaddeus grasped his sword more firmly--his heart
beat high, as he stood ready to spring from his hiding-place.  The
person had reached the spot.  It was Ivan; for the Count and his
servants sprung out upon him, and attacked him furiously.

"Yield; you are my prisoner!" exclaimed the Count, making a pass with
his sword at Ivan's breast, though, fortunately, not so rapidly but that
he had time to spring aside, and draw his own weapon, with which he had
provided himself since Azila's warning; this enabled him to parry a
second thrust made at him.

"Rescue!  Ivan! here's rescue, my friend!" cried Thaddeus, darting
forward, most unexpectedly, and beating down the swords of the two
servants, who attempted to oppose him.  "What means this assassin-like
attack?"

He was met by Groff and Kruntz, who had recovered from their surprise in
a moment, and now turned upon him with their whole united strength,
while their master pressed Ivan hard.

"Yield!" again exclaimed the Count, "you are a traitor to Russia, and
have joined in a dark conspiracy against her laws."

These words urged Ivan to defend himself with greater determination; and
returning the Count's attack with the utmost vigour, the latter would
have fallen a victim to his own nefarious plot, had he not called Kruntz
to his aid.

Left to engage Thaddeus single-handed, Groff now attacked him with such
blind fury, that he left his own person exposed; while his opponent,
anxious to lend his aid to Ivan, who was now so unequally beset, did his
utmost to disarm him.  Failing in this attempt, he made a lunge to
terminate the contest, and his sword passed through the body of his
adversary, who fell, with scarcely a groan, to the earth.  In the
meantime, Ivan had defended himself successfully from his determined
assailants; but just as his friend turned to his aid, his foot slipped,
and the Count observing the movement, passed his sword through his side.
Thaddeus soon succeeded in disarming Kruntz, whirling his sword, by
superior fence, out of his hand, and over the adjoining wall, when the
ruffian, instead of assisting his master, turned and fled.  Before the
latter had time to follow up his advantage, by a second and more
effectual wound on Ivan, he was vigorously assailed by Thaddeus, who,
pressing him back to relieve his friend, disarmed him likewise; but,
retreating behind a projecting buttress, the Count baffled his pursuing
adversary, and being well acquainted with the different intricate
windings, he succeeded in effecting his escape.

Retracing his steps, Thaddeus rejoined his friend, at the moment when
the latter, returning to consciousness from the effects of his hurt,
attempted to raise himself from the earth.  Bending down by his side, he
proceeded to bind up his wound, and as Ivan recognised him, he
exclaimed:

"Fly, Thaddeus, fly! for treachery and danger surround us: there is not
a moment for explanations; but I beseech you to fly instantly, or you
will be involved in my ruin."

"Never could I leave you thus," replied Thaddeus.  "Lean on me for
support, and perhaps we may yet have time to escape."

"Thanks for your generous aid," said Ivan; "but I fear escape is
impossible; I feel too much hurt to walk, and you would inevitably be
overtaken: for be assured, that the Count has but retreated to call the
police, without whose aid he first trusted to satiate his revenge.  I
know too well, by the words he uttered, that I am completely in his
power, through secret information he has gained."

At that moment, a light footstep was heard approaching, and a female
form appeared, whom Thaddeus recognised as Azila.

A cry escaped her as she beheld Ivan hurt and on the ground; when,
throwing herself beside him, she assisted Thaddeus in supporting his
wounded friend.

"Alas!" she cried, "unhappy I am that I should have arrived too late to
prevent this calamity; but I have friends on their way who may still be
of service."

"Thanks, fair girl," said Ivan, raising himself with their assistance,
"I will exert myself; but first, persuade my friend to save himself by
flight, for his stay here can but subject him to great peril, without
affording me further aid."

"He speaks but too truly," said Azila, turning to Thaddeus.  "It were,
indeed, madness to remain, and so offer another sacrifice to the Count's
revenge; for believe me, your friend has been betrayed by that dastard,
Count Erintoff, and has incurred the rigour of the most tyrannical laws.
Fly, therefore, while you have time, before the police are upon us,
when your uniform alone would betray you; fear not for your friend, his
safety will be cared for."

Thaddeus still refused to desert his friend, in spite of the latter's
persuasions; when, as she spoke, lights were seen to glimmer in the
distance.

"Fly, fly, Thaddeus! my dear friend!" cried Ivan: "see, the police are
approaching, and you will but involve yourself in my misfortunes.  And
you, lady, leave me to my fate; your safety is also perilled if you are
discovered."

"I will not quit you, Sir; I have nothing to fear," answered Azila.
"Ah!" she exclaimed, "the Great Spirit is merciful!" as, at that moment,
two dark forms emerged from the opposite direction to that in which the
lights had appeared, and towards which she had constantly been directing
an inquiring glance.  "These are my friends, and may yet be in time to
save you."

Two men then approached, to whom she spoke in her own language, and
instantly they raised Ivan gently from the ground, and bore him rapidly
in the direction whence they had come.

Azila led the way in silence.  Thaddeus followed, and he was happy to
find that their distance, from the lights carried by the police,
evidently increased.

The fugitives continued their way for some time, along the dark and
narrow lanes, amid the ruined buildings we have already described, and
with which Azila seemed perfectly acquainted; never for a moment
hesitating which path to take, among the numerous turnings.  They at
length paused in front of a huge pile of buildings equally dilapidated,
looming still larger and darker in the gloom through which they were
seen.  Their guide passing beneath a low covered way, followed by the
rest of the party, struck a sharp blow on a small door, scarcely
distinguishable from the masonry which surrounded it.  It was opened
without a moment's delay; the party entered, and after descending a few
steps, Thaddeus found himself in a small vaulted chamber.

The door was carefully closed behind them, and a decrepit old man made
his appearance, bearing a lamp in his hand, with which he scrutinised
each individual on entering.  The two athletic gipsies now placed their
wounded burthen on a low pallet which stood at one end of the vault,
when Azila thus addressed the old man:

"Father!  I am come to entreat your succour for one in distress, who has
escaped from the police now in full search of him.  While here, he
would, you know, be in safety."

"Daughter," answered the old man, "I would refuse you nothing.  I will
do my utmost for the youth's safety; but who is this other?  An officer
too! what does he here?"

"He is a friend of the Wounded man, and would not quit him, though at
great danger to himself," answered Azila.  "Ere the morn dawns, he must
be from hence.  But now that you have granted us your hospitality,
father, we must attend to your wounded guest."

It was indeed time, as from the exertion Ivan had undergone, his wound
bled afresh; the old man, however, produced salves and linen to apply to
it; but his hands trembled with the feebleness of age as he performed
the operation, assisted by Thaddeus.

"Ay, ay, I have bound up many wounds in my day, and thought to have long
ago departed for that place where there will be none to cure.  God's
will be done!"

Ivan had just strength to express his thanks, and fell back exhausted.
In the mean time, Azila had dispatched the two men to watch the
direction taken by the police, and to bring back word, as soon as it
would be safe for Thaddeus to venture on his return to the city.  She
then took her seat by the side of Ivan's humble couch, watching each
movement of his pallid face, while Thaddeus was seated opposite, and
their old host busied himself in producing various articles of
refreshment, including a flask of wine; a small quantity of which
considerably revived Ivan.  The old man kept moving about, and muttering
to himself, but bestowing few words on the strangers.

After a considerable time, the scouts came back to report that the road
was clear; the police having returned to their posts in despair that
their prey had escaped.

"It is now time for you to depart, Sir," said Azila, addressing
Thaddeus, "for longer delay here would be hazardous, while your friend,
trust me, will be carefully attended to.  One of these men will be your
guide, till you reach a part of the city known to you."

As at these words Thaddeus rose to depart, Ivan exclaimed:

"Adieu, my generous friend!  I know not when we may next meet, for all
around me looks dark, and lowering; but something within tells me, that
I shall yet surmount all difficulties.  Our courses, I fear, however,
must be widely different; yours is clear before you, though I sincerely
wish that you would follow mine.  You shake your head.  Well, well, I
cannot now urge you to do as I wish; but I will take care to apprise you
of my movements, and perchance we may some day again meet in happier
circumstances."

After expressing his thanks to Azila, Thaddeus followed one of the
Gipsies, who conducted him at a rapid place, till they arrived at a part
of the city with which he was familiar; when the man pointing to the
direction he was to take, disappeared without waiting for an answer; and
the young Pole soon after reached his lodgings in safety.

Volume 1, Chapter XV.

A gentle and refreshing slumber stole over Ivan's senses, banishing from
his mind all remembrance of the cares and dangers surrounding him, as he
lay on his couch, watched over by the vigilant care of Azila.

He had been undisturbed in his place of refuge for several hours, when
he suddenly started in his sleep, aroused by a singular and hurried
knocking at the door.  Azila hastened towards it, as the old man, slowly
rising from his seat, had begun, with muttered grumblings, to undo the
fastenings.

"In mercy, father, let him not in," said Azila, "whoever it may be!  He
may bring ruin on your guest.  Oh! bid him seek shelter, or whatever he
may want, elsewhere."

"Ay, that I would, with a pestilence on mankind, who are for ever
worrying me," muttered the old man; "but my oath--my oath compels me.  I
may refuse admittance to none who make the sign."

Again the knocking was repeated, as the old man, having finished his
task of unbarring, opened the door, and a man pale as death, his dress
torn and disordered, sword in hand, rushed into the vault.

"Hide me--hide me, father!" he exclaimed.  "All is lost; many are taken,
some slain, and all dispersed; and even now the police are in pursuit of
me."

The old man peered into the face of the new comer to identify him, and
as if to ask for an explanation of what had happened; while the
stranger, on his part, looked with surprise at seeing Azila and Ivan
already occupants of the vault.  He was, however, recognised as one of
the conspirators, as he threw himself exhausted on a stone bench.

"What means this agitation?" said Ivan, as the person recognised him;
"what means this alarm? for I scarcely heard the words you spoke as you
entered."

"Alas!" answered the conspirator, "our noble enterprise has been
discovered before all was fully prepared, and is now utterly and for
ever overthrown.  No sooner had the meeting broke up, than, as we were
separating, we found the police gathering in strong force round all the
entrances to the garden.  No time was to be lost, many of our friends
had already been seized, when I, with others, made a desperate rush
through one of the avenues, less strongly guarded than the others; some
of us escaping, favoured by the darkness, and our knowledge of the
situation; and fear giving swiftness to my feet, I distanced all
pursuers, and hastened hither.  Yet, at one time, I heard my enemies
following close behind me; but they lost sight of me among the lanes
which lead to this spot.  Had the assembly broken up sooner, we should
have escaped for this night, as the police had but just begun to arrive
at the place, to which some of the party must have been traced by spies,
or some foul treachery has been at work.  I had a narrow escape; but I
had no fear when once I got outside, for I knew that you, father, would
shelter me."

"Ay, ay," muttered the old man, "at the risk of suffering the knout
again, and being sent back in chains to Siberia, if they discovered who
I was.  I have had enough of that already; but fear not, I will not
betray you, and it will be long before the knaves find out my den; or
should the worst happen, here is a place they would find it difficult to
discover:--therefore, should the police come here, you must conceal
yourself within."

At those words, he removed what appeared a large ill-shapen slab, or
rather block of stone, in the wall, but which turned on well-made
hinges, and disclosed within, a recess or small chamber ventilated by an
aperture in the roof.  It had evidently been formed with great labour
and perseverance for the purpose it was now to be put to, and was
capable of containing three or more persons without inconvenience.

"If the police discover us here, your wounded friend must also take
refuge within this place; and they will have more wit than I give them
credit for, if they espy him.  Hark!  I hear footsteps; surely none can
have betrayed me.  If so, all is lost."

Scarcely were the words uttered, than a thundering attack of blows was
heard at the door, and a voice loudly demanding admittance in the name
of the Emperor.  The conspirator turned pale with terror, and rushed
towards the entrance of the concealed chamber.

"Stay," said Azila, "would you leave your wounded comrade to perish,
while you secure your own retreat?  First place him in safety, and all
will be well; fear not, for I will soon manage to get rid of our
unwelcome visitors."

Ivan thanked her with a look of gratitude, as the conspirator, following
her directions, with the feeble aid of the old man, lifted him through
the narrow aperture, and laid him on some straw hastily thrown together;
when Azila, carefully closing the entrance, prepared to receive the
emissaries of justice.  She threw a cloak over her head and shoulders,
so as completely to cover her form and features, busying herself over
the fire, as if watching some culinary operation, while the old man
employed himself in slowing unbarring the door, muttering and growling
as if just aroused from sleep.

A second and more impatient summons made him hasten to withdraw the
bolts, when the door flew open, almost knocking him down, and a party of
the police rushed into the vault, but started back confounded, on
beholding who were its sole occupants.

Azila's watchful eye marked the servant of Count Erintoff--the ruffian
Kruntz, among the party.

"Well, I could have sworn," said the man; "that I saw some person enter
here not a quarter of an hour ago; and I know that he could not have
again escaped without my seeing him."

"This is strange," said the leader of the police, "we must question the
old man, if he has sense enough to understand us.  Here, old man! has
any one lately left this mansion of yours?"

"Few come to visit one overcome with age and infirmities, who dwells in
a dark vault where the light of day scarcely enters," said the hermit;
"no, no! they leave me alone to die in peace and quiet, it is all I
require.  What is it that you desire of me, gentlemen? can I do aught to
serve you?  I have, indeed, little to offer!"

"Cease your prating, old man!" said the officer, "and listen to what I
say.  A foul plot has just been discovered, and some of the conspirators
have taken refuge in this neighbourhood.  Now harken!  I am not to be
trifled with: you, old man, know somewhat of them."

"Woe is the day, that such things should be!" cried the old man.  "Look
around--see! none are here; there must be some mistake."

"We shall prove it," exclaimed the police officer, who, exasperated at
the chance of his prey escaping him, produced a thick leathern thong,
with which he struck the aged hermit a violent blow across the
shoulders; "this will refresh your wits and ideas perchance.  Say!
can'st thou now remember, old knave; or must another blow yet revive
you?"

"I cannot speak more than the truth," said the old man, meekly, and
bowing before the petty tyrant, too well accustomed to such deeds.
"Your stripes can draw no more than the truth from me, I know not of
whom you speak."

"Is it so!" cried the officer, now growing furious at his
disappointment, and having strong suspicions that he had, in some way,
been deceived.  "We shall see what efficacy there is in leather to draw
the truth from you," aiming at the same time several more blows at the
old man, which made him shrink down cowering before the barbarian,
though he uttered no words of complaint, nor could the slightest
information be elicited from him.

Since the entrance of the myrmidons of police, Azila had kept her seat
apparently unnoticed, bending down her head before the fire, her cloak
concealing her features so effectually that none could know them; at the
same time keeping a watchful eye on those whose presence caused such
risk to Ivan's safety; hoping that a woman's wit, in case of necessity,
would lead them astray.  She now, however, could no longer contain her
indignation at the cowardly assault by the police officer on the
defenceless and decrepit old man, for, suddenly rising from her seat,
she boldly confronted the tyrant.

Drawing herself up to her full height, and assuming a look of proud
disdain, she thus addressed the brutal ruffian:

"Dastardly tyrant, can you not find some nobler object to vent your
unjust rage upon, and to display your power, than yonder decrepit old
man?  Perchance you may deem a weak and helpless woman a fitter subject
for the exercise of your proud prerogative, if so--strike! fear not!  I
can bear as much as that infirm old man--perchance more.  What! are you
afraid?  Then order some of your myrmidons to begin the attack; do they
also lack courage?  Oh! most brave and noble band to fear an old man,
and young woman!  Go your way then, if you have no better errand--or
search here first, for what you want!"

The rough natures of the men were awed by the majestic air, and
authoritative manner of Azila, for they drew back to the entrance of the
cavern; while their leader foamed with rage at finding himself baffled
by a young girl; but he meditated revenge.

Azila had shewn much tact in drawing off the officer's anger from the
old man to herself, and then working him into a fury, and increasing it
so as to confuse his faculties, and prevent him from making a stricter
search, when the retreat of the two conspirators might by chance have
been discovered.  Her plan had well nigh succeeded, and the officer was
preparing to depart, when something seemed to strike him as left undone,
and turning to the old man, he seized him roughly by the shoulder
demanding his name; the latter hesitating to give this at once, brought
upon himself a fresh shower of blows.

"Stay--stay your hand!" cried he, "do you demand my name? alas! my
memory is so bad that I can scarcely remember it; but I am called
Orenoff, and I live here on the charity which a few people, whose hearts
are not yet turned to stone, bestow on me.  My heart has undergone a
like fate, else I could not bear your treatment."

While the old man was babbling away in this strain, the officer made
notes on paper, and presently turning to Azila, said:

"Now, Madam, you must give me some account of yourself, or else prepare
to follow me.  What do you here?"

"I answer your questions," replied Azila, "because forsooth, it pleases
me to do so.  I came then to attend yonder weak, sick old man, and to
bring him food and medicine, for he has none other to attend him."

"Whence do you come, then?" demanded the officer.

"From a noble and charitable lady," said Azila; "and perchance it may
occur to your wisdom, that it was my cloak, which was seen entering the
vault, and which your spies took for one of the conspirators!"

"If you can give no better account of yourself than this, you must
accompany me forthwith," said the officer.

"But, should it not be my pleasure to leave, you may experience some
difficulty in compelling me," replied Azila.

The officer smiled grimly, and was stepping forward to seize her slight
figure, which could indeed have offered but a slight resistance to his
grasp, when she exclaimed:

"Stand aside, and touch me at your peril!" producing at the same time a
paper from her bosom.  "Know you that signature?" she said.  "Go your
way, and leave this old man to rest, who is too ill and infirm to move
hence, and learn in future to exercise your bravery on objects capable
of self-defence."

The police officer, with an abashed and scowling look, now prepared to
depart; still however shewing some hesitation, as if doubtful of acting
wisely; but a significant wave of Azila's hand, decided him to order his
men to withdraw, when they, glad to escape, soon made their exit through
the narrow doorway of the vault, followed by their leader.

As their footsteps were heard receding, the old man hastened to close
the door, but was checked by Azila.

"No, father," she said, "let them not suppose that we have aught to
conceal, by manifesting haste to shut them out, or they may perhaps
return and renew their search, although I think their brutal leader
would rather not attempt it."  Some minutes accordingly elapsed, ere the
door was again closed and barred.

While this scene was taking place, Ivan's feelings may be better
conceived than described, as he lay concealed with his companion in
their narrow cell; first, on hearing the entrance of the police, and
their treatment of the old man, and again when their leader threatened
to seize Azila.  At first he felt inclined to rush out, and at all risks
to arrest the barbarian, but the pain of his wound recalled him to
timely reason, and he reflected that the act would not only sacrifice
his companion and himself, but also indeed doubly commit his aged host
and Azila.  The maiden appeared at the entrance of the cell, soon after
the police had withdrawn, and addressing its inmates, said:

"For the present, I trust you are safe, but I cannot answer for how long
a time you may remain so, as the police will yet keep a watch on this
place.  I should advise, you, Sir, who are strong and able to seek
safety elsewhere, to retire from hence as soon as I can ascertain that
the road be clear; I am even confident, that they will return here again
before long.  Are you ready to depart?"

"Yes, yes," replied the conspirator, "I would rather trust myself to the
dangers of the open streets, than run the risk of being taken here, like
a fox in his hole; but it will be a perilous undertaking to run the
gauntlet through the bands of the lynx-eyed police.  Can I serve my
friend, Galetzoff? and shall I not leave him in greater danger?"

"Fear not for him, leave him to my charge," answered Azila, "and now, be
ready to fly hence on my return.  I will learn from those on the watch
if all be safe."

The maiden departed, the old man closing the door with the utmost
caution, while the conspirator pressed Ivan's hand, bidding him
farewell, and stood ready to sally forth on her return.  She soon came
back, assuring him that none of the police were to be seen in the
neighbourhood; with hurried and anxious look, he then rushed forth to
reach a safer refuge.

The door was now again secured with bar and bolt.  Assuming the same
bashful and retiring manner as before, when in Ivan's presence, so
different from her usual free and independent bearing, when in discourse
with others, Azila addressed the wounded youth--

"I must now leave you for a while," she said, "for I go to seek means to
enable you to escape hence, in safety, to the tents of my people, where
your wound will be quickly healed, and you may dwell until you gain
strength to fly from the country.  Until my return, I confide you to the
care of an old and tried friend, and a trusty guard watches outside, who
will give immediate notice of the slightest danger."  Then making her
usual oriental obeisance, she withdrew towards the door, lingering to
cast one look on her patient; and before he had time to express his
thanks, she had quitted the vault.

Ivan was left in the recess, the entrance being open, while his aged
host prepared himself for slumber on a pallet in a corner of the vault;
he followed the latter's example, although every passing sound aroused
him.

The remainder of the night waned, no fresh event occurring to disturb
the occupants of the dreary vault.  No sooner had a few streaks of
morning found ingress through the crevices of the walls, than the old
man arose from his uneasy couch, and after tendering his services to
Ivan, proceeded to prepare a morning meal.  This considerably revived
his wounded guest, though the pain he suffered had not diminished.
Still the very recollection of his narrow escape gave him hopes for the
future, and he looked forward with eagerness to the time when his
present confinement would cease, and he should again breathe the pure
air of Heaven in unrestrained liberty.  Occupied with these thoughts, he
passed the remainder of the day, anxiously awaiting Azila's return.

Volume 1, Chapter XVI.

The principal place of resort of that singular race of people, the
Zingani, or Gipsies, or as they universally call themselves the Rommany;
of whom there are several thousands in and about Moscow; is the Marina
Rochte, lying about two versts distant from the city.

Most of these people obtain their livelihood in Moscow, either by
keeping taverns, or by dealing in horses and by various other like kinds
of traffic, bearing in general but an indifferently good character.  The
class, however, to which we now allude, are of the lowest order; whose
females sing at the taverns and different public gardens in the
neighbourhood, and are not of the best repute, as to modesty of
behaviour.  Here they congregate in great numbers, their countenances
resembling those of their race who are to be met with in England; of
brown complexions, and for the most part having beautiful and regular
features; their eyes fiery and intelligent; their hair, somewhat coarse,
of coal black hue; and all having the same free and independent bearing.

There is, however, another class of Zingani, whose very existence will
surprise those who have been accustomed to consider these people as mere
wandering barbarians, incapable of civilisation, and unable to
appreciate the blessings of a quiet and settled life; for many of them
inhabit large and handsome houses in Moscow, appear abroad in elegant
equipages, and are scarcely to be distinguished from the upper classes
of the Russians, unless, indeed by possessing superior personal
advantages and mental accomplishments.  Of this singular social
phenomenon at Moscow, the female Gipsies are the principal cause, having
from time immemorial cultivated their vocal powers, with such effect,
that although in the heart of a country in which the vocal art has
arrived at a greater perfection than perhaps in any other part of the
world, the principal gipsy choirs in that city are, by universal
consent, allowed to be unrivalled.

The sums obtained by these singers, are very large, enabling them to
live in luxury of every description, and to maintain their husbands in
almost princely magnificence.  Many are married to Russian gentlemen of
consideration.  The lovely, talented, and domestic wife of a Count,
well-known in the highest, circles of Moscow, is by birth a Gipsy, and
was formerly the chief pride of a Rommany choir at Moscow, as she is now
one of the principal ornaments of refined society.

In no other part of the world do the gipsies flourish as they do in
Russia, affording a great contrast to the wretched hordes steeped in
penury and vice, who infest the Peninsula; and to the low thieving
trampers of England and Scotland, existing by petty pillage; such bands
often being indeed but a collection of the lowest vagabonds of every
description intermingled with the original race.

There are many opinions as to the land from whence the Zingani have
sprung; it is generally supposed, that they originally came from
Hindostan, being of the lowest class of Indians, called Suders, or those
who have lost caste; that they migrated from thence in great numbers in
1409, when Timour Beg ravaged India, to spread with fire and sword the
tenets of the Mahomedan religion.  It seems probable that in their way
towards Egypt, where we first hear of them, that they resided for a time
in the country called Zinganen, at the mouth of the Indus, from whence
they may perhaps have gained the name of Zingani.  By what route they
reached Egypt from thence, is not known, but they had fixed themselves
there in great numbers in 1517, when Sultan Selim conquered the country.
They revolted from his rule, under a leader who has assumed the name of
Zinganeus, probably from being chosen chief of that people; but were
completely worsted, being again compelled to seek safety in flight, and
made their appearance in Europe in large bands about the year 1520.
Some of their leaders, who with their followers found their way to the
northern parts of Europe, called themselves dukes and lords of Lower
Egypt, endeavouring to impose on the people, among whom they came, with
pretentions of rank and dignity; in this, however, they were not very
successful, soon sinking into a class considered no better than rogues
and vagabonds.

In Russia, on the contrary, among an ignorant and barbarous population,
their various talents and acuteness enabled them to sustain a superior
station; nor have they, at any time, been there subject to the
persecutions and indignities which they have had to endure in other
countries of Europe.  Though some, as we have said, have taken up their
abode in cities, others still retain their primitive and wandering
habits, living in tents; and roving from place to place, as may suit
their fancy; or as they find it convenient to carry on the pursuits by
which they exist.

The tribe or family to which Azila belonged, was under the guidance of a
sagacious leader, and was compelled by him to refrain from all marauding
habits.  Though the Zingani chief was possessed of considerable wealth,
he was of too free and independent a disposition to confine himself to
the trammels and restraint of the social life of a city, preferring the
more varied and roving existence enjoyed in a camp.  He had, however,
numerous connexions of every rank in the city; among the most superior
of whom, his daughter Azila, had in truth been educated, and when her
own inclinations led her to return to her father's camp, she was still
regarded by them with the greatest affection; and it was by their aid,
assisted by her own talent and penetration, that she was able to collect
the varied information, which as we have seen, was of so much importance
to the conspirators.

It is towards the close of one of the few bright and balmy days which
cheer the hearts of the Russians in their short-lived summer, that we
must again introduce our readers to the camp of our friend, the Zingani
chief.  It had lately been pitched on the confines of a wood, at a short
distance from Marina Rochte; and it was evident, from fewer people than
usual being seen about the encampments, that many had joined their
brethren in the village, to enjoy their constant amusements of dancing,
singing, and other sports.

At a short distance from the tented circle, the Zingani chief was slowly
pacing the grass, with his arms crossed on his bosom, and lost in
thought.  At length he soliloquised aloud:

"This is the baneful effect of departing from our ancient laws and
customs, by taking part in the affairs of the people with whom we dwell;
losing our freedom and independence, by becoming subject to their cruel
and unjust laws.  Ought not I to have prevented that loved girl from
trammelling herself with the affairs of others, who would show but
little gratitude for her exertions, even if successful; and now too,
probably, she herself may be in danger: and if so, what resource have I
but to declare her parentage.  That would save her: but the so doing
would bring ruin on one who still lives.  If she falls into the power of
the tyrannical dispensers of the law, her fate would be dreadful.
Should I not then save her?  Yes, I must, even at the expense of the
oath I so thoughtlessly took.  It provided not for such an emergency.
It must be done; and even thus, it would well nigh break my heart to
part from her; to see her subject to all the deceit and treachery to
which her station would expose her--to see her free-born spirit
oppressed by the strict rules and absurd etiquette of society; to see
her governed by one who could not appreciate her qualities, and
shrinking before his stern and savage glance; confined too within walls,
and no longer allowed to wander in free and unrestrained liberty.  And
yet, some will say that I am acting wrongly; that I am depriving her of
the enjoyment of luxuries and of wealth, which are her due.  Fools--
fools! who value worthless gold, outward pomp, and idle, debilitating
effeminacy, to health, and the free air of heaven."

As he again turned, he saw the object of his thoughts approaching, at a
quick pace, from the direction of the city.  Azila appeared hurried and
eager in manner; and after holding a short conference with her father,
they entered together within the circle of tents.  The gipsy chief then
summoned round him the men who yet remained in the encampment--persons
in whom he could place the utmost reliance in cases of emergency.

"Men of Rommany!" he said, addressing them in that style of language
which they most love to hear, "there is an arduous and dangerous task to
be performed, which will require the utmost sagacity and care.  I have,
therefore, summoned you around me, to select one who will swear to
undertake it; but whoever offers himself, must know, that he risks his
liberty, and perhaps his life."

As he finished speaking, a youth stepped forward from the circle of his
companions, exclaiming:

"I am ready to undertake whatever you propose, if it be within the power
of man!"

The keen, lustrous, dark eye; handsome and intelligent countenance; and
well-knit limbs of the youth, were powerful recommendations in his
favour; and the chief, without hesitation, selected him.

"I well know that I can trust you," said the chief; "the task will
require all your sagacity and courage.  Its main object is to ensure the
freedom of the young stranger.  But remember, Javis, that if your
attempt be discovered, chains, imprisonment, and banishment, will
infallibly be your lot: and for your reward, if you succeed, the utmost
I can give, are my own and Azila's grateful thanks.  More she cannot
give," he added, as a blush rose, for a moment, on the youth's dark
cheek.

"I ask not for reward," answered the youth.  "It is but a debt of
gratitude each man of the tribe owes to the young stranger; and I should
be base if I were not ready to pay it: I will save him, or perish in the
attempt."

"I trust you fully, Javis," said the chief; "and now we will call Azila
to our conference."

He beckoned his daughter to approach; and for a considerable time they
held an earnest consultation together.

As they finished speaking, a boy ran in, to inform the chief that a
stranger was approaching the encampment.

"I will speak with him," said the chief.

In a few minutes the boy returned, accompanied by a peasant, whose weary
and sorrowful appearance seemed to demand compassion.

"Who are you?" said the chief, eyeing him narrowly, and apparently
satisfied with his scrutiny.  "Who are you, who come uninvited among the
people of Rommany?  What do you seek with us?"

"If you are the person I take you to be, you shall presently know,"
answered the peasant; "tell me, are you not that kind, honest Gipsy, who
was once very civil to my master; my poor young master, whom I have been
seeking all over the city, and can hear nothing of.  Alas! alas!  I fear
that he is in great peril."

"Who is your master?" asked the Gipsy; "when I know that, I may perhaps
answer some of your questions."

"My poor young master," replied the peasant, who proved to be our old
friend Karl, "is the son of Baron Galetzoff.  Well, I was sent to Moscow
to-day, and venturing to pay a visit to my young Lord, I heard that he
had disappeared, nobody knows where.  I have been seeking for him all
day, in every place I could think of, and have now come to ask you, if
you know any thing of him?"

"It is not my custom to answer the questions of those whom I do not
know," said the Gipsy.  "Tell me, how came you to suppose, that I could
tell you any thing of your master?"

"Why, for this reason," said Karl; "I once heard my poor young master,
and his friend Thaddeus Stanisloff, speak of a Zingani chief, who had
promised to assist them, if they got into any difficulties.  Well, as I
was wandering about, and looking in search of my master, I saw some of
the Rommany people; and I bethought me that I would come out here, and
learn if their chief was in the neighbourhood, and if he knew any thing
of my dear master."

"Well, my good friend," said the Gipsy, who was pleased with poor Karl's
simplicity and sincerity, "go back now to the city, and say not a word
more of your master; but return here to-morrow, at day-break, and be
careful that you are unobserved, and perhaps you may then see him."

"Thanks, most kind and worthy Sir," answered Karl, "you have made my
heart light and happy again."

He then took his leave, as desired, and returned to Moscow; where, as he
was wandering about, looking into various shops, to pass the time, he
met an acquaintance, to whom he could not resist giving the gratifying
intelligence, that he had heard of his young master, the son of the
Baron Galetzoff, as he still persisted in calling Ivan.  He did not
observe that a stranger was standing within ear-shot, at the time; but
he soon found, to his cost, the effects of his thoughtless
communication; for, within, an hour, he was seized by some of the
police, and dragged immediately before a magistrate.

He was at first mildly interrogated respecting Ivan, in the hope of
extracting some voluntary information from him.  The magistrate then
pressed him more severely, but discovered that the prisoner was a most
difficult subject to exert his authority upon, and when sternly ordered
to confess all he knew, he stoutly denied ever having received any
information of the person in question.

Unfortunately, however, for poor Karl, his perseverance was of no avail
to himself, for his acquaintance, who had confessed all he knew, was
confronted with him.  Another person was found, who proved that he was a
serf of the Baron Galetzoff, and consequently must have known the son of
that noble.  His denial was therefore of no further service to him, and
the next day, he was ordered before a criminal court then sitting, where
for his contumacy in refusing to answer any questions, he was condemned
forthwith to receive the punishment of the knout.

Poor Karl turned pale when he heard his sentence pronounced, but his
courage did not forsake him, and he determined to undergo any torture,
rather than betray his young master.  He was dragged off, therefore, to
receive his punishment, with two other criminals convicted of heinous
crimes, and whose pallid countenances and trembling limbs, betokened
their dread of the coming torture.

The place of execution and punishment is in an open space, outside one
of the barriers of the city; and there a mob of skin-clad labourers and
peasants had collected, as they saw the prisoners approach, conducted by
their guards and the officers, whose duty it was to see that punishment
was duly inflicted.

Even in Russia, the executioner or Palatch, as he is called, is looked
upon with the same opprobrium and dislike as in most other countries,
and he is always some criminal, still considered as a prisoner, but
lodges by himself in a solitary house outside the gates of the city.
Instances have occurred of criminals actually refusing the odious
office, preferring, rather than undertake its cruel duties, the weary
and toilsome journey to Siberia, with all the miseries and wretchedness
incident to it, and an eternal banishment from their country.

The Palatch, on the present occasion, was a criminal sentenced for life
to hard labour in the Siberian mines for murder.  The mere appearance of
this man, bespoke that savage disposition, which could find
gratification in the exercise of his horrid occupation.  Underneath his
red tangled locks, a scowling forehead protruded, exhibiting beneath his
rough eye-brows, a pair of bleared eyes; a flattish, turned up nose, was
the only other feature to be seen on his face, his mouth being concealed
by a mass of grizzly red hair, which covered the lower part of his face.
Even the yoke-necked, slavish multitude, set up a shout of disgust, as
the hated inflictor of cruelty appeared; but he seemed callous to their
feelings, commencing the preparations for his loathsome office, with
cool indifference.

The two real criminals were to suffer first, all three being stationed
ready for punishment, in a conspicuous place.  The first culprit was
placed before an upright board, shaped like an inverted cone; in the
upper or broad end of which are hollowed out three notches, the middle
one being contrived to receive the neck of the culprit, and the other
two the arms, which are securely bound; the legs being fastened to the
bottom of the board.  The upper part of the body is then stripped quite
bare.  These preparations being completed, the brutal executioner
flourishes the knout round his head, and with tremendous force it
descends on the back of the victim, horribly lacerating the flesh.  The
handle of the knout, is a thick stick eighteen inches long, to the end
of which is fastened a twisted thong of leather, twice the length of the
stick; and to the end of the thong again, there is a copper ring,
through which is passed, with a slip knot, a double strap of leather, an
inch broad near the ring, and tapering to a point near the running end;
the straps being boiled in milk, to swell and harden them.

Poor Karl looked at this formidable weapon, in the hands of the
executioner, with feelings of the most intense hatred; but even the
shrieks of his precursors in suffering, as the lash descended on their
backs, did not make him waver in his constancy.  He was doomed to a
still greater trial; for just before it became his turn to suffer, he
heard a voice, calling out his name, proceeding apparently from a telga,
which, with some others, had just left the gates of the city, and was
quickly passing by.  He turned round for an instant; and a glance of
pleasure lit up his countenance, as he fancied that he recognised the
voice: but instantly recollecting himself, he again hung down his head,
and appeared to observe nothing around him, till the telga had driven
rapidly away.

At length he was also lashed up for punishment; but he uttered not a
groan, until nature almost gave way before the executioner had finished
his hideous work, which he seemed to go through with greater zest, from
the practice he had already had; as the wild beast, which has once
tasted human blood, feels insatiate until he has gorged himself with it.
Karl knew that at one moment he might have saved himself the torture
inflicted upon him; but he willingly suffered without a complaint--a
true specimen of the Russian national character, displaying sturdy
fidelity and passive endurance, without an expectation or hope of
reward.

As yet, he had not half expiated the crime he was charged with, and
justice still retained him in her clutches.  He was carried back to
prison till his wounds were healed, at which period he was compelled to
serve the Emperor as a soldier.  The constant draft, which an unhealthy
climate and the Circassian sabres made in the army of the Caucasus,
necessitated the frequent incorporation of criminals in its ranks.  With
manacles on his hands and feet, he was marched off with others, formed
into large bands, containing many volunteers, who were, however, treated
in the same way, to prevent their escaping, lest they should change
their minds.

Karl knew that it was useless to complain; and as he was of a contented
and happy disposition, not much addicted to thinking, he determined to
make the best of his lot.  Fortunately for themselves, his companions
also were blind to the hardships and miseries they would probably be
compelled to undergo; although thus loaded like culprits with heavy
chains, they passed their time in singing and laughter.  As they marched
on, their shouts of merriment rose to the skies, amid the clank of their
chains, as if to mock the cruelty of their oppressors: the poor wretches
being entirely ignorant of the blessings of freedom, and incapable of
feeling their degradation, perhaps even incapacitated for thought!  Such
are now the only people in Europe who can securely be governed by
despotism; and such are the senseless tools with which the mighty Czar
of Russia works out his imperial will.  What care they how many freemen
they bring to a like state of bondage as their own?  The yoke has so
long pressed on their necks, that they heed not its galling weight; but
like the patient oxen, they are content to be goaded on to their work,
at their master's will.  This vast, soulless engine, is indeed of
tremendous force; and has but too often been used to crush and overwhelm
freedom, and to plant the banner of tyranny amid lands, where the flag
of liberty has hitherto waved bright and unsullied.

Volume 1, Chapter XVII.

It was towards the close of the day, when a young and active peasant,
who, contrary to the usual character of his class, was rather
intelligent-looking, was slowly driving a small telga or wagon, filled
apparently with hides and merchandise, at the end of a bye-way or narrow
lane, at a point where it joined one of the principal roads leading from
the south towards Moscow.  Observing a cloud of dust rising in the
distance, in a southerly direction, he drew up his telga, anxious to
ascertain the cause of it.  He presently found it to proceed from a long
train of wagons, about twenty in number, mostly drawn by oxen, but
others, of the same description as the vehicle he himself drove, drawn
by horses.  The drivers of the wagons were short, ugly-looking fellows,
with sandy moustaches and beards, black woolly caps, sheep-skin jackets,
the woolly side next the skin.  Many of them were half asleep on the
tops of their vehicles, trusting to the sagacity of their beasts; but it
was now time to rouse themselves into activity, for they were
approaching the end of their journey, on which perhaps they had come
several hundred miles.  Moscow, their bourne, was at hand.

The young peasant joined in the line of the caravan, driving between the
carts as if apparently he belonged to their party.

Laughter and joking soon arose among the easily pleased wagoners, caused
by his jests and stories; and, searching, under the hides which covered
his cart, he produced a case of vodka, and a glass, which he filled with
the much-prized liquor, handing it about to the people nearest to him.
By this means, and from time to time also singing a song, he soon won
all their hearts; the Russian peasants being as passionately fond of
music, as they are addicted to vodka.

"Jump up, my friend," said he to one of the men trudging along-side,
"you will find a better seat here than in your own wagon."

The man readily complied, and the young peasant began to ply him with a
number of questions.  In this way he learned that they were to remain
only one day to rest their cattle, and to start on the following morning
for the south.  The information seemed to give him much satisfaction;
and he intimated to his new friends, that he should wish to enter the
city as one of their party, and to return at the same time with them,
reminding them that he should not forget to fill his can of vodka.

The lofty towers, and polished domes of Moscow now appeared in sight;
and being allowed to pass the gates without hindrance, the caravan
proceeded to the part of the city where that class of people chiefly
congregate: the young peasant acting in every way like the rest of the
party.

After dark, however, giving his telga in charge to one of the wagoners,
whom he had more particularly made his friend, he sallied forth into the
still crowded and bustling streets, meeting parties of pleasure
returning from the gardens in the neighbourhood.  Rich nobles driving
from one gay scene of dissipation to another; the military returning
from relieving guard; drunken men of all classes, reeling home,
attempting to support each other as they tottered against the
door-posts; none of them, however, joining in bacchanalian songs, as in
England and other countries; for the Russian, though a careless,
light-hearted being, when sober, becomes when overpowered with liquor, a
surly, morose animal, with all his worst passions aroused, and having no
pretensions to enjoyment.  This is too common a scene in Russia; but we
should rather pity than blame such slavish beings, sunk so low in
apathetic ignorance, and who are never taught to respect themselves.

The peasant seemed well acquainted with the city; for without once
deviating from his course, he quickly threaded its intricate streets.
Whatever was his business, he soon performed it; and on his return,
again joined the most convivial of his new friends, treating them from
his can of vodka, and singing songs to them till late at night.  The
whole of the next day was spent by the carters in distributing the
contents of their vehicles to their different destinations, and in
reloading them with goods to convey to the south.  The stranger peasant
having likewise apparently disposed of his cargo, returned with a very
light one, saying that he had a friend with a broken limb, whom he was
anxious to convey to his home in the country.

In the evening, he again unloaded his cart, leaving his goods under
charge of his friend the carter, and drove away in the direction he had
formerly taken; saying, before he went, that he should return with his
maimed companion.  He drove his light cart quickly along the streets,
till he reached that part of the city before mentioned, as the
neighbourhood of the place in which the conspirators held their
meetings; when on his giving a low whistle, a lad sprang out from behind
a wall, and taking the place of the peasant, drove slowly on, the other
hastening to the door of the vault, in which Ivan had been so long
concealed.

"Is all safe?" he asked of the lad, who took his place.  "Have you seen
none of the cursed police in the neighbourhood?"

"There is nothing to fear, and no one could pass near here, without my
seeing or hearing them," answered the boy.

The peasant gave the peculiar knock at the door of the vault, which
being opened by the old man, he immediately entered.  No one appeared in
sight, as the telga drove up to the nearest spot, by which the door
could be approached; and without allowing it scarcely time to stop, the
peasant and a gipsy were seen, bearing the body of a man, wrapped up in
the folds of a peasant's dress, his head bandaged so as completely to
conceal his features.  No sooner was he placed in the cart, reclining
his whole length at the bottom, than the young peasant, again taking the
reins, drove rapidly away.  The old man was again left to his solitude,
and the two gipsies hastened off in an opposite direction.

The peasant proceeded quickly through the narrow and winding streets of
the city; once or twice the police seeming inclined to stop him, but as
he put on a careless air, whistling and singing as he drove along, they
did not think it necessary to interrupt his progress.  At length,
however, an officer of police, in search of some of the conspirators,
who had as yet escaped detection, ordered him in an authoritative tone
to stop his telga.  He instantly obeyed, uncovering the face of its
occupant, and displaying a profusion of red shaggy locks, and large
untrimmed beard; a cloth being bound round the head of the wounded man.

The peasant's volubility and frankness, seemed to convince the officer
that there was no cause for suspicion, and he bid the former drive on,
an order most promptly obeyed; until at length the peasant escaping all
further impediments, reached the caravan party in safety.

He was warmly welcomed by his friends, who were making merry over cans
of their beloved quass and vodka; and having attended carefully to the
comforts of his charge, whom he covered up in his wagon, he joined his
comrades, and remained with them, until they stole off to rest in their
carts, the young peasant rolling himself up beneath the shelter of his
own telga.

The next morning they were all astir; but it was some time before they
were ready to begin their journey towards the south.  The wounded man
was able to sit up among the merchandise, with which the telga of the
peasant was now loaded, the owner walking by its side; and as they
passed the gates of the city, he had a joke for each of the guards, who
after looking into each vehicle, allowed the caravan to pass on.

At a short distance, outside the gates of the city, they observed a
concourse of people assembled, when the wounded man inquired the cause
of the crowd.  "It is only because a few people are going to be
knouted," answered one of the drivers, taking it as a thing of course.

As they passed close to the place of execution, the wounded man observed
one of the unfortunate culprits standing in a conspicuous situation,
just about to receive punishment.  He uttered an exclamation, and seemed
as if he would rush forward to the rescue of the criminal; but his
weakness reminded him of his incapability even to walk, as with a look
of indignant regret, he sank back on his seat.  The young peasant,
observing the movement, leaped quickly into the telga, urging on his
horse at a faster speed.

"Hist, Sir! hist!  Would you spoil all, by want of caution?" he said,
"nothing can save the poor fellow, and I know he would rather die than
bring you into danger.  The knowledge that you are safe will fully repay
him."

The caravan had now proceeded on some way, clouds of dust obscuring the
hateful scene from their eyes, and perchance, even among that servile
band of drovers, many a breast might have heaved, indignant at the
cruelty they had witnessed; for to their sorrow they knew, that the
innocent too often suffered punishment, due alone to the guilty, yet
none of them dared to utter their thoughts, even to their comrades.  It
was some time before the young peasant could resume his gaiety, as he
returned to his post by the side of his telga; however, he at length
began to talk and laugh as before, his light-hearted companions quickly
dismissing all recollection of the scene they had witnessed.

Some versts further on, after charging his comrades not to mention his
having been with them, and receiving their cordial farewell, he drove
away rapidly along the bye road which there presented itself.

He was long remembered by that kind-hearted and simple race, in whose
breasts enmity retains a slighter hold than gratitude and affection.

The caravan had proceeded for about the space of an hour, along the
road, when an alarm was given, that a party of mounted police were
galloping after them.  The emissaries of justice were soon among the
wagoners, calling loudly to them to stop, striking at them with their
thick whips, and demanding a culprit, who had escaped their vigilance.
Though the sturdy carters could easily have overpowered their brutal
assailants, not one attempted to make any resistance; but the young
peasant reaped the reward of his address and wit, in conciliating them,
for they one and all denied any knowledge of the person described, nor
could additional blows gain any further information from them.  The
police, after bestowing a few parting stripes, returned the way they
came; many a muttered curse followed them, the honest carters rejoicing
that their friend had escaped, and piously crossing themselves, offered
up many a hearty prayer for his ultimate escape.

The peasant drove on, till he caught sight of the Gipsy encampment of
our former friends, between whose tented walls he forthwith entered, and
was received with a shout of congratulation by its swarthy inhabitants.
The Zingani chief went forward to welcome the new-comers; a cry of
pleasure escaping Azila, who timidly followed her father, as the wounded
man was lifted from his conveyance; and he with the seeming peasant,
throwing off their disguises, discovered to their assembled friends,
Ivan and the young Gipsy Javis.

The chief warmly welcomed Ivan, and congratulated Javis on the
successful commencement of his undertaking, to which Azila added her own
thanks.  Ivan was then conducted to the principal tent, where the old
crone Hagar, took the wounded man again under her surgical care, and
from the effects of her healing remedies, he soon experienced relief.

The chief took a seat by his side.  "My daughter," said he, "could not
venture again into the city, to aid your escape as she wished, having as
we have reason to know, been already suspected by the police of being
concerned in the late conspiracy; and as you well know, suspicion is
sufficient to condemn a person in this country, of a political crime."

"I trust, my friend, to be soon able to relieve you from the danger you
run in sheltering me," said Ivan.

"Not until you are sufficiently recovered to undertake the journey, will
we allow you to depart," answered the Gipsy, "and then I have hopes,
that by the talents and ingenuity of Javis, you will entirely escape
from the power of your enemies."

While this conversation was going forward, a man who had been sent out
as a scout, hastened into the tent, to say that he had seen a party of
the police, galloping on the high road towards the south, in the
direction the caravan had taken which Javis had just left.

"Ah!" said the chief, "you have had a narrow escape, Sir, but I have my
hopes that the police will lose their scent, and I trust that we are not
yet suspected.  We will, however, move our camp as quickly as possible
towards the south, where we may be more secure from their interference."

Volume 1, Chapter XVIII.

We must now refer back for a short period, to the morning on which the
Count Erintoff learned, from public rumour, that a dreadful murder had
been committed, on some one who could not be recognised, owing to the
mangled state of his features, and to the absence of any papers or
valuables upon the body by which it could be known.

The Count congratulated himself that he had at length got rid of one,
whom he most deeply hated; looking upon him as his rival in Azila's
love; and he now therefore anticipated an easy conquest of the beautiful
Gipsy girl.  He was however, not aware that she had been made fully
acquainted, not only with his views towards herself, but with his
intention of causing Ivan's assassination.

It will be remembered that there were two Gipsy boys, whom Groff had
kept in the palace for the purpose of enticing Azila thither; these lads
were, by the Count's orders, afterwards allowed to remain, in the hope
of again attracting her there.  None of their tribe, however, seemed to
take any notice of them; the wounded boy remaining in bed, and the other
who appeared to be dull and heavy was suffered to wander about the
house, at will.  The Count little thinking at the time, that he was an
active, intelligent spy, whom Azila, profiting by the accident which had
introduced them to the palace, had purposely left there to discover and
report all the Count's movements.

The Count being convinced of Ivan's death, when Groff presented himself
to claim the wages of blood, gladly paid the money, and then bethought
himself of some plan, to make the most advantageous use of the papers he
had become possessed of.  They clearly proved the existence of some
conspiracy, but of what nature or extent he could not tell; and he began
to consider whether or no, he had not better make further discoveries,
before he communicated it to the government.  He ordered Groff,
therefore, to watch the neighbourhood of the place, to learn if others
assembled there; an office the wretch was very unwilling to perform; a
horror seizing him as he approached the spot, where he had committed the
murder, and driving him away, so that he brought back word to his master
that he had seen no one.

The Count's rage and disappointment was excessive, when on the morning
of Ivan's return to Moscow, he heard, by chance, that it was suspected
the Count Flatoff was the person murdered, and on making particular
inquiries at Ivan's hotel, he was informed that on the night of the
murder, he suddenly departed for the country.  This, it will be
remembered, was the very time when he was summoned to attend the
death-bed of his mother, owing to which he escaped the fate intended for
him.

He therefore stationed Groff to watch for his return, to bring him
instant information, determining this time to glut his vengeance with
his own hands.  Groff had not long to wait before Ivan returned, when he
hastened with the intelligence to his master.

The Count ordered him to arm himself with a sword, and to return to
watch Ivan's movements, in case he should visit the place of meeting;
then taking Kruntz with him, also well armed, he himself repaired to the
neighbourhood.  He then informed the chief officer of police, that he
suspected some plot was on foot, desiring that some of the subordinates
might accompany him, in case his suspicions proved correct.  His plan
was, to attack Ivan under the pretext of arresting him, and to kill him
when he attempted to defend himself, as he had no doubt he would do.
This purpose, he communicated to his two worthy followers, but it was
fortunately overheard by the young Gipsy spy, who had concealed himself
in the apartment, and as soon as the lad was able to make his escape, he
communicated the information to Azila, who was waiting for him.

The Count's arrangements occupied some time, so that Ivan had left the
place of meeting before the police had arrived, and the Count was but
just in time to encounter him.  His fury and disappointment were doubly
increased at finding himself again foiled in his purpose; his only
satisfaction being in the death of Groff, who was in possession of some
rather dangerous secrets.  How much greater was his rage, when on
returning with the police, he found that his prey had escaped him
altogether.  He eagerly joined in the search, urging on the police to
their work, but to no purpose, until baffled and enraged, he returned to
his palace, resolving not to rest until he had discovered his rival, and
obtained possession of Azila.  In order to accomplish the first of these
objects, he instituted inquiries in every direction, sending out spies
with promises of rewards, if they should discover the traitor, he
himself again joining in the search.  On inquiring for the Gipsy boys,
in order to ascertain where Azila was to be found, he learned that they
had both escaped, no one could tell how or when.  Of Azila, he could not
hear anything, as she had not again appeared in the city.

At all points, he seemed doomed to be disappointed in his vile purposes,
when early one day, he heard that a telga had been seen on the previous
evening, coming from the direction of the place where the conspirators
had held their meetings; and taking the hint, he repaired thither with
some of the police.  They went directly to the vault of the old man, who
had been previously suspected.  The wretched inmate was dragged from his
abode, and on refusing to answer the questions put to him, which might
betray his late guest, he was sentenced to receive the punishment of the
knout.  The sentence was carried into execution.  The old man sunk under
it; he died unknown, and unmourned.

The police, however, traced the telga to the place where Javis had
passed the night, and finding that a caravan had set out that morning,
some of their mounted comrades were sent in pursuit.  As we have before
stated, they arrived after Javis had driven away, and were again at
fault, not knowing what course to pursue; for they were now persuaded
that they had been led on a wrong scent.

Count Erintoff at length almost despaired of wreaking his vengeance on
Ivan, until, in his inquiries for Azila, he learned that she had been
implicated in the conspiracy, and it then occurred to him, that she
might have been the companion of his flight.  He learned also, that the
very tribe of gipsies, to which he knew Azila belonged, had lately been
in the neighbourhood of Moscow, though the police were not aware of the
fact, and that they had moved towards the south soon after the
conspiracy had been discovered.  Connecting all these circumstances
together, his hopes of gaining possession of Azila, and of punishing his
enemy, were again raised.  On his giving, therefore, the information he
had gained to the police, a party of that force was ordered to attend
him.  He now felt certain that they could no longer escape; indulging
his mind with the thoughts of vengeance, and the success of his passion.
He easily traced the route the Gipsies had taken, following up each of
their day's journeys, which he was enabled to accomplish in a much
shorter time than they had done.  With savage delight at his expected
triumph, he caught sight of the tents of the Gipsy encampment; when
ordering some of the police to watch well that none escaped, he with the
rest, confiding in the power and terror of the legal authority they
possessed, rushed into the centre of the encampment.  The gipsies
appeared to be completely taken by surprise, the women crowding together
in alarm, and the men starting on their feet, and advancing to meet the
intruders.

The chief came out of his tent, as if just aroused from sleep.

"On what account," he demanded, "is the quiet and order of my camp thus
suddenly broken into by the police?  Who is it you seek here?"

"The traitor Ivan Galetzoff, and a Gipsy female called Azila," said the
Count; "and if they are not delivered into our hands, you shall suffer."

"Ah!" exclaimed the chief, starting and eyeing the Count narrowly, "I
have no one here among my people, of that name."

"You refuse then to deliver up those we are in search of," said the
Count.  "Examine the tents," he exclaimed to his followers; who
immediately commenced pulling them down, strewing the contents in all
directions on the ground.  The Gipsies looked on at the work of
destruction with sullen indifference; neither interfering, or offering
any resistance to prevent the injury committed; for the police wantonly
cut the ropes of the tents, broke open the chests, turned the animals
adrift, as they examined the vehicles; so that in a few minutes from the
time they entered the encampment, where the quiet circle of tents then
stood, there was now a scene of confusion and disorder.  Yet it was of
no effect, for their intended prisoners could no where be found.

"You have set at defiance the Emperor's authority," said the Count,
addressing the Zingani chief, "and must take the consequences.  I arrest
you in the name of the Czar."

"What, has the noble Count Erintoff turned police officer, as well as
assassin?" exclaimed the chief.  "I fear you not, Count.  Either let me
go free, or take the consequences.  The murderer of the Count Flatoff is
known," he added, stepping closer up to him.  "I well know your motives,
Count; but will not interfere, while you attempt not to injure me or
mine.  I am your prisoner if you wish."

The Count turned pale with rage and fear.  He felt that he was entirely
in the power of the bold Gipsy, should he not succeed in destroying him
at once, and that he could not hope to do in the midst of his people,
when no resistance was offered.  The only alternative was to make him
his friend, for he saw that terror was not likely to influence him.  The
Count, therefore, pretended to be satisfied that the people he sought
were not among the Gipsies; hoping, by throwing them off their guard, to
pounce upon them when unprepared, and intending to take the first
opportunity of crushing: one who had a secret of such importance to him
in his possession.  He feared too, that the accusation would lead to
further inquiries as to the means by which he became possessed of the
papers, and how he gained his information of the conspiracy, for he knew
there were already some causes of suspicion existing against him.
Secretly vowing vengeance therefore, he ordered the police to remount,
and accompany him in a further search he meditated making, being
convinced that the fugitives were at no great distance.

The Gipsies saw their enemies depart, with bitter feelings of vengeance
towards them, as they set about repairing the wanton damage they had
sustained, while the latter rode on their way; the Count being resolved
to accuse the Gipsy of having, like his daughter, given his assistance
to the late conspiracy, hoping thus to crush him, without danger to
himself, knowing that the first accusation has always the greatest
weight.  How he succeeded will be seen hereafter.

The Count did not gain the reward he expected for the discovery of the
conspiracy; it being strongly suspected, that he would have kept it
concealed completely, had he not been instigated by some motive
advantageous to himself.  Instead therefore of receiving some lucrative
office, or of being raised to a higher dignity in rank, the Emperor
fully appreciated his motives, and giving him the credit of believing
that if it had been to his interest, he would have joined the conspiracy
without scruple, appointed him to the command of a regiment in the army
of the Caucasus, hoping thus to get rid of a troublesome and suspected
subject.  As the Count had a short time before reached the rank of
Colonel; this order could not appear singular; and although he well
understood the reasons of his appointment, he had no alternative but to
obey.

The regiment which the Count Erintoff commanded, was one of those
forming a brigade under the orders of the Baron Galetzoff, destined for
the army of the Caucasus, now marching towards the south, to embark for
the opposite coast.  Levies had been raised in all directions, the
recruits as soon as collected being marched off to the depots in the
south, to join an army with which the Emperor had determined to
overwhelm and crush his mountain opponents of Circassia; and no one
exulted more in the prospect of carrying fire and sword into the country
of his detested enemies, than the Baron Galetzoff, as he reviewed his
well-equipped though mostly newly raised troops.

Under his standard were collected the short hardy natives of the north,
Cossacks from the banks of the Don, and Volga; regiments of enslaved
Poles, now fighting by the side of their conquerors; some few cavalry,
whom the Russians called Circassians, but who were, in truth, men
collected from the confines of the Caucasus; Georgians, Immeritians,
Mingrelians; but not one who could boast of true Circassian descent.

With these troops was also the regiment to which Thaddeus Stanisloff was
attached, he being obliged to leave Moscow ignorant of the fate of his
friend; and many a long day passed, without his receiving any tidings of
him.  Absence did not however diminish his friendship, or his regret at
their separation.  Though under the orders of the Baron Galetzoff, it
was long before he came in contact with him; he heard it reported, that
there was no one so bitter against the defection of his supposed son, or
more eager in endeavouring to apprehend him, vowing that he should be
punished as a traitor and renegade, if he fell into his power.

Volume 1, Chapter XIX.

It was now the beautiful, balmy, and genial month of a Russian June, all
nature rejoicing, clothed in one entire bright livery of green, fresh
from the new bursting buds, yet unseared by the burning heats of summer,
like the beauteous maiden just ripened into perfect womanhood,
surrounded with a halo of freshness and purity, ere the blasts and
scorching atmosphere of the cruel world have had time to obscure the one
or sully the other.

A few days had been passed by Ivan in the Gipsy camp, with but slow
progress; each day, however, contributing to his strength.  At length he
declared himself sufficiently recovered to undertake the more difficult
and dangerous part of his journey on foot; so eagerly burning was he
with the desire of reaching the place of his destination, to fulfil the
vow he had taken at the death-bed of his mother.

Azila had been his constant attendant, enlivening him with her
conversation, and soothing him with her attentions; but so completely
were his thoughts occupied with the events which had occurred, and
especially with those to which he was looking forward, that no other
sentiment entered his heart.  That lovely being, day by day, sat by his
side, watching anxiously each look, listening eagerly to each word he
uttered, yet he loved not.  He felt sincere gratitude to her as the
preserver of his life, he would have again risked his own to aid her;
but no other feeling excited his bosom.  And she--so proud, so
indifferent as she had shewn herself to be, towards the Count Erintoff,
could she give her love to one from whom she could scarce hope for a
return.  The hearts of women are uncertain, incomprehensible,
inscrutable, and we will not venture to pronounce by what special agency
Azila's was influenced.

Ivan was much indebted to old Hagar for his rapid recovery, though it
was some time before she would give her consent to his eager wish to
quit her care.

On the last day's journey, as he was riding among the Gipsies, dressed
in the costume of the rest of the party, the chief unfolded the plan he
had formed to enable him to make his further escape from the empire.

"At this time of the year," said the Zingani chief, "thousands of
pilgrims flock from all parts of the empire, to what they
superstitiously call their holy city of Chioff, and I propose that you
should first repair thither with Javis, who is intimately acquainted
with every part of the country, as your guide, both of you disguised as
peasants performing the pilgrimage, for which I have provided every
thing necessary.  Should you, by any chance, be again followed, among
the vast crowds who are now assembling at Chioff, you will find more
facilities for preventing all clue of your route being discovered.
After you have passed through the city, you and your guide may assume
the character of pilgrims, returning from thence, towards their
habitations on the confines of the country.  I have sent forward a
messenger to some friends of our people, who are now near the place
where you will find the least danger in crossing the frontiers into
Moldavia, to which Javis will lead you; and our people there, will
afford you assistance should you require it.  I must now ride forward to
select a spot for our encampment; I wish to keep as much as possible
concealed from all passers by, for we know not who may prove an enemy
among them."  Saying which, the Gipsy chief rode on.

We must observe that the Zingani party had been travelling as much as
practicable across the country, keeping all the bye roads and lanes, and
avoiding all communications with the villages, near which they were at
times obliged to pass.

As they journeyed on, Ivan rode up to the side of Azila, for the maiden
seemed sad and dispirited.  After some other conversation--

"You go, Sir," said she, "amid scenes of excitement and of wild strife,
where all your thoughts and hopes are centered, and where you will soon
forget those you leave behind, those who would have died to serve you;
but believe me, there is one who will never forget your aid, nor your
bravery in her defence; who--"

"Neither can I ever forget one to whom I owe my life and liberty," he
exclaimed; "nay, much more: who will have enabled me to fulfil, I hope,
a deep sworn vow, the accomplishment of which I have so rashly
hazarded."

Their conversation was here interrupted by the return of the Zingani
chief, who rode to Ivan's side.

Early the following day, Ivan and his guide sallied from a tent, so
completely changed in appearance, that no one could possibly have
recognised in the two old peasants, they now seemed to be, the dark
featured, handsome young men they really were.  Their very skin had been
tinged of a reddish hue, with wrinkles on their brows and cheeks; while
red shaggy locks sprinkled with white, covered their own dark hair, and
long full beards of the same colour fell over their breasts to the
waist, large low hats still more concealing their countenances.  They
wore long dark coloured gowns, and sheep-skin coats: rough boots of
untanned leather protected their feet, and by their side hung wallets to
contain their food.  In their hands they bore thick sticks, ostensibly
to support their tottering steps, but really to serve as a means of
defence, in case of necessity.

Thus equipped, when ready to depart, the Zingani chief embraced them
both, bestowing on them the peculiar blessings of his people, and
charging Javis with many injunctions for the guidance of his conduct on
their journey.  The whole tribe assembled to bid them farewell, the old
crone Hagar calling down curses on all who should impede them in their
progress, and blessings on the heads of all who favoured them.

Azila alone was no where to be seen; and feelings which Ivan could
scarcely acknowledge, even to himself, prevented him from asking for
her, till the last moment.  The chief, on missing Azila, sent in all
directions to discover her, his alarm becoming considerable when she was
not to be found.  The travellers delayed their departure, in the hopes
of gaining intelligence of her before they went; for fears began to be
entertained, that by some means or other she had been entrapped either
by the Count Erintoff or by the police, who might have feared to seize
her by open force, among so large a band of defenders.

While the whole camp was thus thrown into a state of alarm, one of the
scouts, who were at all times kept on the watch, to give timely notice
in case they might be pursued, came running hastily among them, to say
that he had descried, at a distance, a party whom he took to be police,
riding rapidly towards the camp.  Without a moment's delay, Javis seized
Ivan's hand, hurrying him away at perhaps a faster rate, than their
apparent age would have warranted; but they were only just in time to
escape, for before they lost sight of the encampment, they perceived the
police ride into it.  The delay which there occurred, as we have already
seen, enabled them to make good their distance, though they were in
momentary expectation of being pursued: no signs, however, of their
enemies appearing, they continued their journey at a more moderate
speed.

On the second day, as they were about to repose by the road-side, the
heat of the sun becoming oppressive, they heard the clattering of
horses' hoofs behind them, and perceived, on turning their heads, a
party of the police galloping along the road, before they had time to
attempt concealing themselves.  Javis, however, with perfect presence of
mind, begged Ivan to imitate his style of walking, when the police
coming up, merely cast a glance at them, and rode on; but the travellers
saw them stop at a short distance ahead, to interrogate a young peasant
lad, whom they had just before observed.  The lad appeared in no way
disconcerted, pointing in answer to their questions, to a road across
the country, which they followed at the same rapid speed.

Quickening their own pace, they soon overtook the boy, who saluted them
as they passed, in respect for their seeming age.  They did not think it
prudent to rest, until the evening was far advanced, when Javis led Ivan
to a hut, with the inhabitants of which he exchanged a few words, and
was instantly admitted.

It is not necessary to give here a detail of each day's journey, their
adventures possessing but little interest, merely observing, that on
some nights they rested in the cottages of the peasants, and at other
times they found shelter beneath the shade of the thick leaved trees, or
reposed during the heat of the day, and travelled at night while the
moon shone brightly.  Several times, Ivan felt almost confident, that he
had caught sight of the same peasant lad they had passed on their second
day's journey, who seemed to be dogging their steps; but Javis declared
that he had not seen him, so that he concluded he must have again been
mistaken.  Ivan had now perfectly recovered not only his strength, but
his spirits, for trusting that his hopes might be realised of reaching
the land of his birth, where all his thoughts and aspirations centered,
he felt that nothing could press him down, or prevent him from
accomplishing his much desired object.

One day, towards the evening, a violent storm overtook them, obliging
them to stop at a wretched hostelry on the road-side, the only house of
public entertainment to be found for a considerable distance.  The
fierceness of the tempest made it impossible for them to proceed; in
spite therefore, of the slight danger they perhaps ran in entering a
house where a spy might already be, they agreed to remain there, till a
clear sky should again allow them to prosecute their journey.

While they were seated at the wretched repast the house was able alone
to afford, in an apartment serving the purpose of kitchen and receiving
room for the guests, for whose accommodation tables and benches were
placed at one end of it, a boy entered, who started at seeing them,
turning back as if he would retreat, when Ivan recognised in him the lad
whom he had suspected of following their steps.  He entered the house,
throwing himself on a bench near the fire, and while he endeavoured to
dry his wet garments, he seemed lost in a reverie, gazing at the burning
embers on the hearth, speaking to no one, nor turning his head to look
at the other guests.

Ivan at length taking compassion on the youth's disconsolate manner,
forgetful of his suspicions about him, in his assumed character of an
old man, approached to invite him to share their humble fare.

The boy started as Ivan spoke, a blush mantling on his cheek, and he
hesitated to accept the proffered offer, till Javis came to add his
persuasions.  At length, he yielded and took his seat at their table,
when Ivan asked him, if he had not before seen him on the road.  The boy
acknowledged that they had passed him.

"Are you then going to Chioff, boy, to worship at the shrines of the
holy saints?" asked Ivan.

"Yes, I go thither for that purpose," answered the boy.

"You are but a youthful pilgrim to attempt so long a journey alone and
unprotected," said Ivan.  "It surprises me that your parents put you not
under the care of older people travelling the same road, who might have
guarded your youth from the dangers your inexperience may lead you into.
Had you no friends from your neighbourhood, making the pilgrimage?"

"Alas, I have no parents who are able to protect me, and few friends who
love me; but for protection I need it not, I can protect myself."

"Do not say that you have no friends, boy," interrupted Javis, "when
perchance, there are some, who most likely, would be ready to shield you
from the slightest harm."

The boy answered not, but hung down his head, nor did he venture to look
towards Ivan, while he was speaking.

Ivan, in compassion for the boy's timidity, spoke to him a few kind
words of encouragement, when Javis addressed him.  "You are travelling
the same road we go, boy, and may, perchance, require protection.  You
shall, if you wish, accompany us, and you shall have all that two old
men can bestow.  Will you accept our offer?"

The boy again seemed to hesitate, until Ivan pressed him to accept their
protection, when he gladly assented.  "You seem, poor boy, weighed down
by some secret sorrow; tell it to us, that we may, if possible, afford
you all the consolation in our power."

"Not for worlds," answered the boy, sadly; "it would but increase my
sorrow to name it, nor would you have power to heal it."

"But tell me, boy," said Ivan, "by what name shall we call you?"

The boy hesitated for a moment, before he spoke.  "They call me, Conrin,
Sir."

"Forsooth, boy, the name is a pretty one," said Ivan, "and Conrin will
we call you.  You seem fatigued and weary; and now that you have
satisfied your hunger, lie down and rest, for you have yet many a weary
mile to travel, ere you can reach the shrines of the holy saints."

The boy indeed seemed unwilling to enter into conversation, listening
however with earnest attention to the words which fell from the seeming
old men's lips, and as they ceased speaking, he retired to a corner of
the room, where throwing himself on a bench, and wrapping his cloak
close around him, he placed his head on a bundle he carried, and
composed himself to sleep.  The poor boy was evidently weary, and
unaccustomed to the fatigues he had undergone on his journey, and though
dressed as a common peasant, there was much greater neatness and care
displayed than usual, the cloak also being a luxury few of his class
possessed.

The storm continued raging furiously as before, and as there were no
beds in the house, nor any thing like such a comfort, the two travellers
were fain to repose as best they might, on the hard benches placed
against the wall.

On the next morning by break of day, their new companion was already on
foot, prepared to start, when the storm having passed away, the whole
party set forward on their journey.  They had not proceeded many miles,
when Javis informed his companions, that there was a cottage in the
neighbourhood, from whence he could procure a conveyance to carry them
on at a faster rate; and begging them to rest for a while, he went in
search of it, and soon returned, driving a small vehicle capable of
containing all the three.  In this carriage they travelled till the end
of the next day, when Javis again found a fresh horse, so that by thus
frequently changing both horse and carriage, in a few days they reached
the neighbourhood of their destination.

A distance now remained, which would take them two days to perform on
foot, it being necessary to travel thus in their assumed characters of
pilgrims, for already had they overtaken large crowds, all hastening to
the same destination.

The pilgrims travelled in bands of one or two hundred, of both sexes,
and of all ages; the hoary headed grandsire and the athletic youth, aged
women and laughing maidens, the old supporting their weary limbs on
their staves, while by their side ran young children of all ages.  The
troop headed by a white bearded monk, leaning on a long staff, clothed
in sackcloth and bare-footed, chaunting forth songs of encouragement to
the weary, and praise to heaven.

Thousands were at that moment on their way, to visit the catacombs of
Chioff, from every part of the immense Empire of Russia; from the bleak
and freezing Kamstchatka, from the vast and far distant regions of
Siberia, from the confines of Tartary, and from the scattered provinces
of the south; performing with unabated perseverance the whole distance
on foot, seldom sleeping under a roof, and living on the precarious
charity of the miserable peasants on their road.  Our friends therefore
joined one of the numerous companies, uninvited, yet cheerfully
welcomed.

All day the band travelled on, assembling at night in a grove of a few
lofty wide-spreading trees near the road-side, through which the pale
moon shone brightly on the heads of the numerous groups, here and there
seen amid the darker shades.  A fire was lighted to cook their scanty
meal, after partaking of which, they assembled reverentially round an
aged monk; who arose, commencing a slow and solemn chaunt, in which by
degrees, the whole concourse joined.  Far off, amid the silence of the
night, were heard the hymns of adoration of those simple people, and for
many hours of the night, did those songs of praise continue, ere
throwing themselves on the bare ground, their bed, the heavens their
only covering, they composed themselves to sleep.

The boy found shelter close to the trees, amid some groups, apparently
of about his own age, the bright moonbeams streaming like rays of glory
on the youthful heads of the sleeping pilgrims.

The road they had been hitherto travelling, had led over the flat and
uninteresting steppe.  The country, however, as they approached Chioff
or Kiov, as it is also called, now became slightly undulating; but it
was not until towards the evening, that they came in sight of the Holy
City.

As that unique and strikingly beautiful city first struck their view,
standing in a commanding position, on a hill, the golden cupolas and
domes, with which it is crowned, reflecting the rays of the sun with
dazzling brightness, the pilgrims simultaneously raised a hymn of joy
and praise.  Every one of the vast crowd kneeling down, devoutly crossed
himself, rending the air with songs of thanksgiving.  After some minutes
spent in prayer, again they all arose, and headed by the reverend monk,
they descended the hill, to cross by a bridge the river Dnieper, whose
waters wash the walls of the city.  Some, in eager haste, without
stopping to rest their weary limbs, rushed towards the Cathedral of the
Ascension, or the Church of the Catacombs, which stands a little removed
from the city on the banks of the Dnieper.  Others, among whom were Ivan
and his companions, sought rest and food, ere on the next morning, they
should commence paying their adorations at the numerous shrines, they
had vowed to visit.  So well had Ivan and Javis sustained their
characters, that not one of the credulous people, among whom they had
freely mixed, suspected that they were otherwise than as what they
appeared.

Next morning Ivan and his companions set forward, to go through the
usual routine of visiting the shrines.  It is said, that in some years,
more than fifty thousand pilgrims have visited the catacombs, and even
now the whole city was filled with them, many too encamping outside on
the unsheltered ground, thinking to gain more credit with heaven, by
thus enduring greater hardship on earth.  By early dawn, the whole of
that vast concourse of strangers were on foot, hastening to the
different places of worship.

The Church of the Catacombs is adorned with seven golden domes, and
seven golden spires, which are connected with gilt chains, now
glittering with the first bright rays of the rising sun, seeming to shed
a blaze of glory over the holy edifice, as the orisons of the morning
worshippers rose towards heaven.  Upwards of five hundred feet above the
river, rises the dome of the belfry, adorned with Ionic columns and
Corinthian pilasters, to which all Russians accord the greatest
admiration and praise.

As the doors of the church were thrown open, the eager pilgrims rushed
in to throw themselves before the shrines of their favourite saints,
whose pictures hung over their altars; though the least devout among
them would have been scandalised had an image or figure stood there
instead.

As the first deep and solemn tones of the sacred harmony in the service
rose towards heaven, Ivan and his companions entered the cathedral, and
following the example of the multitude, knelt before one of the altars;
but there was an almost imperceptible curl of contempt on the lip of
Javis as they did so, even the boy seemed scarcely so devout as the long
pilgrimage he had undertaken would have led one to suppose he should be.

When the service was concluded, the pilgrims bought tapers at the porch
of the church, and forming a procession in a long line, descended a
wooden stair-case of many steps to the mouth of the catacombs, down each
side of which were arranged an uninterrupted line of kneeling devotees,
of the most wretched appearance.  The procession halted, as the first
part reached the entrance of the excavated passages of the catacombs,
the priest preceding them; they then slowly and reverently entered the
subterraneous vaults, the roof blackened with the smoke of thousands,
and tens of thousands of the candles of the faithful, which had burnt
there on previous years.

On each side, in niches in the walls, were placed in open coffins, the
bodies of those, who dying in the odour of sanctity, have been canonised
for their pious acts and thoughts.  There unburied they remain,
enveloped in wrappers of cloth, and silk, highly ornamented with gold
and silver embroidery, that their fellow mortals who come to them for
intercession, seeing their honours after death, may study to imitate
them in the purity of their lives; while their spirits, having ascended
into heaven, are devoutly believed to exercise an influence with the
Father and Son.  Their names are written on their breasts, and many have
also a history of their virtuous actions, while their stiffened hands
placed before them in the attitude of prayer, receive the kisses of the
pilgrims, though few perchance could decypher even the names of those
they worshipped.

Further on, they reached a passage in which was a range of small
windows, where men had, with their own hands, built themselves in with
stones against the wall, leaving open only a small hole to receive their
food; dying with the insane thought, that they were doing their Maker a
good service.  Before each of the windows of those fanatics' last
dwelling, now their tomb, knelt some bigoted and devoted worshipper,
firmly believing that their self-immolation and unnatural death, had
purchased for them everlasting life, and place, and power, among the
spirits of the blessed.

Though it may seem incredible, yet so it was, that perchance not even
one of that vast crowd had any just or clear notions of the tenets of
the very religion they professed; for so ignorant are the Russian
peasants, that the most absurd and superstitious legends find fall
credit in their minds.  Of the attributes of the Supreme Being, the
majority have but the slightest conception, regarding him in the light
of one inferior to their Emperor, and neither respecting nor fearing him
so much.  So completely does the despotic influence of the Czar extend
over the greater mass of the people, that they have been taught to look
upon him as one sent with divine authority, to rule over their lives and
property, against whom it would be the most dreadful impiety to rebel;
and for this end has their religion, and every feeling, and sentiment of
their minds, been made subservient.  Yet these are the people, whose
rulers profess to extend the benign light of Christianity, and the
blessings of civilisation, among the nations of the East!

Leaving the church, as they walked through the crowds, Javis adroitly
made inquiries among the peasant pilgrims, as to when a party was likely
to start for the west confines of the Empire and gladly found that a
band was about to return towards the frontier of Bessarabia the very
next morning.  With his usual tact and cleverness, he soon discovered
where the party was lodging, introducing himself among the peasants, and
gaining their good will.  They therefore gladly received him and his
friends among their company.

The rest of the day was of necessity spent, in their character of
pilgrims, in visiting the churches and most interesting sights of that
gorgeous city, though gladly did they prepare to accompany the party of
self-satisfied pilgrims, who were returning the same way they wished to
pursue.

------------------------------------------------------------------------

END OF VOLUME ONE.

Volume 2, Chapter I.

Thus far, Ivan had been successful in the accomplishment of his journey,
though there still remained many difficulties to overcome.  These,
however, were lessened by the presence of mind and cleverness which
Javis at all times displayed.  He seemed too to be possessed of noble
and generous sentiments, so that, notwithstanding their difference in
rank, Ivan began to feel for him a sincere friendship, independently of
the gratitude due to his assistance and attention.

A change, however, had come over him, for though active and intelligent
as ever, he was no longer the gay light hearted being, he had at first
appeared.  It was in vain, that Ivan endeavoured to discover the cause:
Javis would start at times, and walk on muttering to himself, as if some
important subject occupied his thoughts: his laugh was hollow, and his
smile forced and painful.  Young Conrin often turned an inquiring glance
towards him, but seemed also equally puzzled to account for the
alteration.  He too had won much upon Ivan's regard, by his gentle and
unassuming behaviour, and by his evident desire to please his
self-constituted masters.  It was with much regret, therefore, on the
morning of their departure, and while Javis had gone out to make some
necessary purchases for their journey, that Ivan called the boy to him,
to bid him farewell.

"We must now part, Conrin.  Believe me that I do so with regret; but we
return not to the place whence we came, while you must go back to your
parents and friends.  Here, take this small sum of money, it is all I
can spare, but you may require it on your journey."

While he spoke, the tears fell fast from the boy's eyes.  "Alas! why are
you so ready to dismiss me from your company, Sir?" he said, putting
aside the money.  "Have I done aught to offend you?  I have no home--no
friends to return to--I have quitted all, and for ever!  Oh, let me
accompany you then as your servant, and I will serve you faithfully and
truly."

"But we go far from hence, boy," said Ivan; "and perchance, you might
never again see your own native Russia."

"It matters not, Sir, to what part of the country, or to what part of
the world you go.  Whither you go, there I will follow you.  But in
pity, dismiss not an orphan child, who claims your protection."

Seeing that Ivan still seemed to hesitate, he added, "Think not that I
am a serf, escaping from bondage: no, I am free-born, and free alone
will I live; for no proud master shall ever claim me as his slave."  The
boy's eyes flashed with a look of proud independence as he spoke.

"But, young Conrin," answered Ivan, "I am as you see, but a poor old
man, without the means of supporting you, or of giving you employment
fit for your youth."

"I seek not the wages of a servant," answered Conrin; "perchance too, I
may find the opportunity of serving you.  Try me, at least, and if I
prove useless, you can but dismiss me at last."

"But suppose, that though we are old men, we may lead you into far and
strange countries, where you may be exposed to hardships, under which
your tender years may sink?  You will then repent that you followed us,"
said Ivan.

"I fear no danger that you can lead me into," answered the boy; "and am
too well accustomed to hardships to sink under them.  Besides, I am
older than I appear, and understand full well the task I undertake."

Ivan still hesitated to comply with young Conrin's extraordinary fancy,
as it seemed, when Javis entered, and the boy instantly referred his
cause to him.  Javis, without hesitation, seconded his petition, when
Ivan, at length, consented to his accompanying them.

"Oh, trust me, Sirs," he said, "that you will not find me wanting in
aught that becomes a servant.  You know not how my heart is lightened by
your kindness."

The pleasure which beamed in the speaker's eyes attested the truth of
his words; yet, it had before occurred to Ivan, and now did so again,
that the boy had seen through their disguise from the very first; and he
was not without a suspicion, that the boy followed them thus
pertinaciously, as a spy sent to betray them at the end of their
journey, and in the very moment when they might have congratulated
themselves on having effected their escape.  Ivan knew how varied and
constant are the devices made use of in Russia to entrap the unwary, and
to shew that the power of that vast engine of despotism, the secret
police, can extend to the very confines of the Empire.

At length, however, he dismissed the thought as contradicting the stamp
which nature sets on the countenances of her children; and while looking
at the boy's face, he felt convinced he was incapable of such treachery.

That Conrin was not deceived by the disguise the fugitives had assumed,
Ivan felt convinced, as he at all times addressed him in a tone and
manner of respect that he would scarcely have paid to a poor peasant
pilgrim, although children are early taught in Russia to treat age with
respect and attention.  He never, also, attempted to intrude into their
presence, keeping aloof till called to approach nearer, though, several
times, Ivan had discovered, as he thought, the boy's eyes fixed on him
with an earnest and inquiring gaze, as if he wished to read his very
thoughts.  But again, he fancied that in that idea he must have been
mistaken.  He saw clearly, that at all events, there was something which
the boy wished to conceal, and whatever was the cause of his attachment,
he felt gratified in the knowledge that there was one more human being
who could care for him, in the world.

We will not accompany the travellers each day in their long and tedious
journey, in company with the returning pilgrims, of whom, in a short
time, they became very weary, so much so, that Javis was of opinion they
might now venture to travel on at a faster speed, by themselves.  For
this purpose, he left the party, as they encamped, in search of some of
the numerous wandering bands of his people, whom he had heard were in
the neighbourhood.

He returned the next morning before break of day, with the intelligence
that he had procured a telga, which was in waiting a short distance in
advance, to which he led Ivan and their young companion, before the
pilgrims had begun their march.  These were, accordingly, soon left a
long way behind.  Our travellers were fortunate in procuring a constant
change of horses and vehicles, from the friendly tribes of Zingani, or
from peasants with whom they had communication, so that they rapidly
approached the confines of the Empire, to cross which would prove
another difficulty, and demand a change of disguise.

Since leaving the band of pilgrims, Ivan and his companions had kept a
south-westerly course, as much as possible, by cross-roads and
bye-paths, both to avoid observation, and because, in the more
unfrequented parts of the country, Javis had a greater chance of
encountering some of the wandering tribes of his people.  Indeed, from
information he had received, he expected to find a party of them
encamped in the neighbourhood of the Pruth.  The travellers were now
approaching that river, where it divides the principality of Moldavia
from the Russian province of Bessarabia, in which they now were; their
greatest hazard being in passing the Russian posts on the frontier,
though they had yet other dangers to encounter, from the numerous spies
sent out by the Imperial government, who exercise complete influence in
the principality, to the very borders of the Turkish provinces.

As they journeyed on, they observed a figure before them, jumping and
singing as he went, now and then stopping to look around him, and then
again pursuing his extraordinary antics.  When he saw the party
approaching, instead of endeavouring to escape, by increasing his speed,
he turned round to meet them.  In this ragged, half-witted creature,
fantastically dressed in coloured rags and tatters, Javis recognised one
of his own race.  A few words from Javis, in the Rommany language,
brought the poor being directly to their side.  He gave them to
understand that an encampment of his people was not far off, adding that
he would lead them to the spot.

As they came in sight of the encampment, several fierce-looking men of
the Zingani, on seeing strangers approach, rushed out with threatening
gestures; but when Javis called to them in their own language, they gave
him a hearty, though a rude welcome, and forthwith ushered the strangers
within the circle of their camp.

Here all the people of the tribe gathered round the travellers, telling
them that they had been already informed of their approach, and were
prepared to offer them assistance.  Javis, in return, explained the
wishes of his friend and himself, and the necessity of proceeding
without delay.  Several men at once volunteered to assist them in
crossing the river at an unguarded spot, and to be answerable for their
safety, on condition of their assuming the dress and character of their
own people, as they were in the custom of communicating with others of
their tribe in Moldavia.  They also advised them to continue the same
disguise till they had arrived in the Turkish provinces, as numerous
tribes of their people were in the country, who would assist them.  Such
a dress would, moreover, exempt them from the attack of the numerous
robbers who infested the land, but who would not deem such poor-looking
wayfarers worth pillaging.

To this proposition Ivan gladly assented; and, after a plentiful supply
of provisions had been placed before them, Javis set about arranging the
necessary dresses; the Zingani treating Ivan and his youthful companion
with the greatest respect.

While engaged in this employment, the brow of Javis grew more clouded
and uneasy than before.  As he passed Ivan, he would turn a quick
uncertain glance towards him, his countenance assuming an expression as
if a sudden pang had tormented him, and then he would endeavour to look
calm and composed as before.

Ivan, overcome with the fatigue of his journey, gladly accepted the
offer made by the chief of the tribe to rest in his tent, where throwing
himself on a heap of skins, he was soon wrapt in deep sleep, it yet
wanting some time before it would be safe to venture across the Pruth.

The dark shades of evening were fast coming on, and the sky gave
threatening warnings of a rough tempestuous night, when Javis,
unperceived, as he thought, by any of the people, stole from the camp.
He looked tremblingly behind him, but saw no one following, and again
pursued his way.  He hastened onwards at a fast rate, then stopped and
hesitated; fear and doubt were working in his breast.  At last he
mustered all his courage, and again ran quickly on.  His purpose he
scarce dared utter to himself.  Could he, the hitherto brave, the true,
the most loved of all his tribe, be guilty of treachery?

The long-threatened storm now broke with sudden fury; the lightning
flashed brightly, and the wind loudly howled.  Javis kept up his speed.
The Russian guard-house was in sight, when a flash brighter and more
dazzling than before darted from the clouds.  For a moment his eyes were
blinded.  He looked up, and fancied that a tall and majestic form rose
before him.  The attitude of this phantom of his brain was threatening;
the countenance fierce and angry.

He beheld before him, as he believed, the spirit of his tribe, such as
it had been described to him.  He thought a voice, as if borne on the
blast of the tempest, uttered these awful words:

"Cursed is he who shall hinder the friend of our tribe on his way;
doubly cursed the betrayer of the confiding one, and thrice cursed the
perjurer."

The youth's eyes rolled wildly; his heart throbbed with violent
pulsation; his limbs trembled.  He could not move.  He fell prostrate to
the earth, where he lay for some time--he knew not how long.  A gentle
touch on his shoulder recalled him to consciousness.

"Rise!" said a gentle voice, yet trembling as if with alarm; "rise! you
could not do the vile deed.  Thank the great spirit that you have been
saved so cursed an act--an act so contrary to your nature.  Think you
thus to have won a maiden's love?  She would have doubly hated you.
Rise, and return to the camp, and henceforward atone by fidelity, for
your thoughts of treachery.  Guard with your own life his you would have
taken, and in time the curse, which hangs over you for your oath broken
in thought, may be averted."

The speaker turned, and flew towards the camp, when Javis arose, and
threw himself on his knees on the ground.

"Great spirit," he cried, "I will obey you!  Take but this heavy curse
from off me, and I will follow this stranger wheresoever he listeth to
go.  Never will I quit him until I see him in safety in his native land.
Though my heart consume with hopeless love, yet will I endure all for
his sake.  Let this heavy trial gain me pardon."

Javis arose, and fled back to the camp.

Ivan, unconscious of the danger and treachery he had escaped, awoke and
came forth from his tent; soon after which Javis, having thrown aside
all marks of age, appeared in his proper character, and Ivan gladly
followed his example.  Returning again to the tent, he equipped himself
as a young Gipsy, Conrin having also assumed the same character.

When all was prepared, the fugitives set forward with their Gipsy guides
towards the banks of the river.  The weather was still dark and stormy,
and the wind whistled among the few straggling trees which grew on the
shore.  Here and there a star glimmered forth, as the dark masses of
clouds were rapidly driven across the sky.  The water rushed by in
turbid eddies; and for a moment the wild scene was lit up by flashes of
lightning, to be again left in total darkness.

Descending a steep bank, the guides launched a small boat which had been
concealed among some thick underwood, and the travellers, taking their
seats, pushed off into the stream.  The Gipsies, however, well knew
their course, and, as they believed that none of the Russian guards were
likely, on such a night, to venture away from their posts, seemed free
from apprehension.

It was thus, amid storm and tempest, that Ivan bade farewell for ever to
the inhospitable territories of Russia, leaving behind him few regrets,
and looking forward to his future path with enthusiastic ardour and
confidence.

The Gipsies pulled their slight bark boldly and safely across the
boiling stream.  While Ivan landed on the opposite shore, a vivid flash
followed by a long continued roar of thunder, gave him the last glimpse
of Russia, as he and his two companions stopped for an instant to gaze
at it without speaking.

The guides now took a direction across the wild and uncultivated ground,
which extends for a considerable distance along the shores of the Pruth.
No rain had fallen to impede their progress, and with rapid strides
they pursued their way, Javis assisting young Conrin, who could scarcely
keep pace with the party.  They hastened on thus, in hope of reaching
some shelter, before the expected rain should fall, and having travelled
some miles, the barking of dogs gave notice that they were approaching a
human habitation.  A loud whistle in return was given by the guides,
when the fierce bark was changed into a cry of welcome, and the
fugitives found themselves at the entrance of another Gipsy encampment.
The chief came forward to meet them, and as soon as he had heard their
story from Javis, he received them with a courteous welcome.

When the guides were about to return, Ivan offered them some
remuneration for their trouble.  "No," said they, refusing it, "we take
nothing from the friends of our people, and from one who is so highly
esteemed by our brother near Moscow.  It is from our enemies and from
those who oppress us, that we exact tribute; and when they do not give
we take.  May a prosperous journey be your lot."

Saying which, they hastened away on their return across the river.

Contrary to the expectations of the travellers, they had no sooner
reached the encampment than the sky grew clear, the stars shone out
brightly, the wind subsided, and the summer storm had passed away.  They
were glad to find rest and shelter in the friendly tents of these wild
people, whom, however dishonest they might be towards others, Ivan had
found faithful and true to him.  One of their small skin-covered tents
were prepared for Ivan's accommodation, into which he was invited to
enter, and repose himself.  Young Conrin, seating himself at the
entrance, prepared to watch his master while he slept; the boy, however,
over-rated his own powers, for while he fancied that he kept guard, a
deep slumber stole on his weariness.

Ivan slept soundly for some hours, fatigued as he was with the exertions
of the last few days and the anxiety of his escape.  As he was first
returning to consciousness, the curtains of his small tent being closed,
and a gentle light streaming through them, he fancied, or it might have
been a waking dream, that a strain of music fell on his ear.  As he
listened, he was lulled into that half-dreaming, half-waking state, so
delightful after the heavy slumber induced by fatigue; yet the syllables
sounded distinctly, and he feared to stir, lest the sweet tones should
prove but a dreamy illusion of the ear.

The words were to the following effect, sung in a clear rich voice,
which Ivan fancied that he could recognise as that of young Conrin.

  Far as the waves can bear
  O'er the deep sea;
  Far as the breezes blow
  O'er vale and lea;
  In whate'er lands you roam,
  Leaving my father's home,
  I'll follow thee.

  O'er the blue mountain's brow,
  Joyous and free;
  E'en where the desert plain
  Bears not a tree,
  And the dark simoon's breath,
  Comes bearing sudden death,
  I'll follow thee.

  Where, in the forest, waves
  Many a tree,
  To those cold regions which
  Day cannot see;
  Over the arid sand
  Of Afric's scorching land,
  I'll follow thee.

  To the proud battle-field
  Bounding with glee,
  Bearing thy banner high,
  As the foes flee;
  Or mid the raging strife,
  Where fierce men seek thy life,
  I'll follow thee.

  In the dark prison hold
  Near thee I'll be;
  For thy lov'd service gives
  Freedom to me:
  Should grief or sickness come,
  And when death is thy doom,
  I'll follow thee.

  [See Note]

No sooner had the strain ceased, than Ivan awoke to perfect
consciousness, and springing from his couch, went forth from the tent,
where he found Javis and Conrin waiting his presence, and a blush stole
on the boy's cheeks at having been detected in his musical performance.

"Ah, my young page!" said Ivan, "were you the good spirit which first
aroused me from slumber with your sweet strains?  I knew not of your
vocal skill; but now that I have discovered it, I may often call upon
you to soothe my spirit when oppressed."

"Ah! gladly would I sing to you the live long day, if I thought it would
please you, Sir," answered the boy.

"Indeed, it does please me; but how came you possessed of this art, the
most prized in the sendee of a page?" asked Ivan.

"I lived with those who gained their livelihood by it; but I could never
sing for pay; my voice is dumb if my words flow not from the heart."

"Well, boy, I hope often to hear you; and now you see that I am not the
decrepit old man I first seemed, still do you wish to follow my
fortunes, knowing that they may be perilous ones?  But I would not
command you to leave me."

"Say you so, Sir? and I would not quit you for worlds," answered Conrin.

"Then, my good page, I hope we may not part for a long time; and I
trust, moreover, that in my country you may find a home you will love
more than the one you have left.  But we must away on our road towards
that loved land."

The hospitable chief of the tribe, as they are here called, Tzygani,
undertook to pass the travellers on from camp to camp of the numerous
gangs of his people, (who wander through Moldavia), till they could
reach the Danube, where it passes the Turkish provinces.

Ivan and his two companions, much refreshed by their night's rest, after
bidding farewell to the hospitable chief, set forward on the horses he
had provided for them.  They were accompanied by a guide, to shew them
the way across the country, until they should again fall in with another
camp of their people.  In this way, they quickly travelled through the
principality.

Moldavia, which formed part of the ancient kingdom of Dacia, for a long
time groaned under the iron rule of the Turks, until freed by the
victorious arms of Russia, when the people began to rejoice at the
prospect of the amelioration of the country, placed under the benign
protection of a Christian power.  Alas! they found to their cost, that
they had only changed masters, and that their new protectors were
determined to rivet still more firmly the chains which enslaved them,
being yet more determinately opposed to liberal institutions, and all
general improvement.  The wretched peasants had no sooner been relieved
from their Turkish masters, by whom they had been pillaged and
exhausted, than they were reduced to a state of absolute starvation by
the Russian army of occupation, which took up its position in the
country.  Already scarcely able to find food for themselves, their corn
and meat were forcibly torn from their grasp to feed their rapacious
guests, and to supply provisions for the army engaged in the war against
the Turks.  Even a supply of corn, sent them by the benevolent
inhabitants of the neighbouring Austrian provinces, was seized by the
Russian soldiers, after crossing the frontier, thus depriving the
famishing peasants of their last resource.  On no side could they turn
for assistance or sympathy, while, sinking under their misfortune,
thousands died from famine and disease, the rest of Europe being kept in
utter ignorance of the foul and unwarranted tyranny exercised over them.

So brutalised, indeed, have the lower orders become by a long state of
vassalage, and utter insecurity of property, as to be almost insensible
to the hardships of their condition, while the upper classes are most
lamentably demoralised.

In consequence of this state of things, the travellers found great parts
of the country an almost entire wilderness, only slight patches of
cultivation appearing here and there, though the soil seemed rich and
productive.  They passed but few miserable villages, and those far
distant from each other.

The peasants have a wild and savage appearance, increased by their black
hair streaming loosely over their countenances, and by their sheepskin
habits and caps, with sandals of goat skin fastened round the leg by a
rope.  The women are still more wretched and squalid.  At each quiet and
solitary farm house, at which our fugitives stopped, the poor people
received them kindly, though they appeared to be in hourly alarm, from
the fierce bands of robbers who were scouring the country in every
direction, levying their lawless contributions alike on the peaceable
villagers, and the unprotected travellers, and not unfrequently adding
murder to robbery.

The paths traversed by Ivan and his companions scarcely deserved the
name of roads, though the light low cart Javis had procured, carried
them safely and quickly over them.  Several rivers and streams
interrupted their course.  Some of the latter were nearly dry, and the
first they passed in boats, with small parties of gipsies, whom they
fell in with, and who accompanied them on purpose.  As they approached
the broad Danube, they proceeded on foot across the country, by paths
scarcely trodden, except by their wandering guides.  It was with
considerable difficulty they gained the river, passing over a long
distance of low marshy shore, which here forms its banks, and rousing
from their rest the pelican and other wild fowl of this desert region.

On a calm and lovely night, they crossed the rapid, but smooth stream,
in a boat, pulled by their friends, the Tzygani; and, in about an hour,
landed in the Turkish province of Bulgaria.  The spot at which they
struck the Danube was considerably above the Walachian town of Galatz,
near the Turkish Hirsova, situated on the summit of precipitous rocks
close to the river.  They did not venture to enter that now ruinous
place, as most of the Turkish towns taken by the Russians in the late
war, were still held by their troops.

The direct road of the travellers now lay along the southern bank of the
Danube for a considerable distance, to Silistria, a wretched town with a
fort, also destroyed by the Russians, who yet retained a garrison there.
They therefore avoided it, keeping across the country to the left of
the road.

The hamlets, through which they passed, consisted of about fifty houses,
each formed of wicker work plastered over, and kept neat and clean
within.  The men were clad in brown sheepskin caps, jackets of undyed
brown wool, white cloth trowsers, and sandals of raw leather; while the
women, who appeared without hesitation before the strangers, were
handsome and neatly dressed, all wearing trinkets, the girls having
their heads uncovered, and their hair braided and ornamented with
different coins.

Most of the villages were inhabited by Turks, except the first at which
they arrived.  Here our fugitives were fortunate in finding that the
greater number of the simple and industrious people were Christians, by
whom they were kindly and hospitably received.  The villagers seemed to
vie with each other in shewing them attention, insisting on their
resting, and taking such refreshment as they could produce, so that in a
short time they were again ready to proceed on their road.

They here again laid aside the Gipsy dress and appearance, and assumed a
costume more approaching the European, and which would procure them more
respect than they could expect to receive in the other.  They also
obtained horses to finish the journey across the Bulgarian Mountains,
which form part of the great Haemus chain, to Varna, the port of their
destination, expecting there to find some vessel by which they could
reach any other Turkish port in communication with Circassia.

------------------------------------------------------------------------

Note.  The above lines have been set to music by Miss L. Kingston, and
published by D'Almaine and Co.

Volume 2, Chapter II.

Notwithstanding the heat of the noontide sun, which shone forth with the
unobscured splendour of a southern clime, our hero and his two
followers, who had been travelling since the early morn, still kept the
road, eager to reach the coast they were now approaching.

Mountain after mountain, hill after hill, had been left behind, which at
a distance had appeared so steep and lofty as to be almost
insurmountable.  Thus, in the ordinary affairs of life, difficulties
which threaten to impede our progress when viewed in long perspective,
and from which the faint-hearted turn back in despair, when fairly
encountered and grappled with, may often be overcome with half the
labour and pain we contemplated.

They had just gained the brow of a lofty hill, up which they had been
toiling, when a long and glittering line of silvery brightness met their
view.

"The sea! the sea!" exclaimed Ivan, as for a moment the party reined in
their steeds, to gaze with interest and curiosity on that longed for
sign of the near accomplishment of their weary journey.  "Onward, my
friends, onward!" he added, setting spurs to his horse, impatient to
reach that liquid road which now alone separated him from his country.

As they rode quickly on, by degrees the line grew broader and broader,
till a wide expanse of sea lay before them, heaving in gentle
undulations, and shining like a sheet of polished silver.

Here and there, the tiny white sail of some light caique seemed like a
sea bird floating calmly on the waters, and farther off, the loftier
sails of larger vessels, seen through the haze caused by the heat,
resembled thin and shifting pillars of white smoke.  All nature seemed
to slumber.  Not a human being, nor a dumb animal was to be seen abroad.
The sails suspended in festoons from the yards of the few vessels
floating in the bay, hung down without moving, nor were the crews
stirring.  Not a boat was visible.  All were taking their rest, till the
great heat of the day should have passed.

As the travellers entered the small sea port of Varna, the streets also
were dull, and deserted; and it was only when they reached the
neighbourhood of the few cafenehs, of which the place boasted, that some
signs of life were perceived; and, even here, few of the inmates had as
yet roused themselves from their mid-day sleep.  At the barber's shop
also, the loquacious and vivacious operator might be seen just awaking
from his slumbers, to welcome his customers, as, one by one, they lazily
strolled to his door, either to submit their heads to his care, or to
converse with his friends, or with any strangers who could supply the
place of newspapers.

Our travellers first proceeded to the caravanserai, to which they had
been directed, to leave their horses to be returned to their owners; and
they then repaired to the principal cafeneh, to refresh themselves with
food and rest.

As they entered, a few of the occupants roused themselves to gaze at the
strangers; and in a short time, the coffee-house was again filled with
guests.  Some, forming knots, filled their chibouques, and as they
smoked the fragrant weed, discussed various subjects in a grave and
solemn tone.  Here a group of listeners formed a circle round one of
those story tellers, to be found in every Turkish coffee-house, intently
hearing the wonderful tales he narrated, and expressing their
satisfaction by low exclamations of applause.

Ivan and his companions had not been long seated, when a smoking dish of
pilau and other Turkish dainties were placed before them.

While he and his friends were discussing their meal, a party of men had
clustered near them; the sound of whose language, as he listened to
their voices, made his heart beat with feelings of the most intense
interest and delight.  He drew in his breath with eagerness as he
listened attentively.  He could not be mistaken, they spoke in that
language heard by him before, only from the mouth of one ardently
loved--his mother.  Those sounds struck a new chord in his feelings.  It
was his own native tongue.  What a tumult of sensations did the words,
simple as they were, raise in his bosom!  He gasped, in his anxiety not
to lose a syllable of the words which fell from the mouths of his
newly-found countrymen.  He could not remain quiet.  He rose, and
approached them.  He could not withdraw his eyes from them, as he
scanned the countenances of each to read their different characters.  He
longed to address them, but hung back hesitatingly, in fear of not
finding suitable expressions.  He understood all they said, and their
conversation had become deeply interesting to him; but as he attempted
to speak, his lips refused to give utterance to what he sought to say.

He returned to his seat in despair, but soon again arose, determining to
address them.  Words now flowed rapidly from his mouth.  The Circassians
started, as they first heard one dressed in the Frank costume, speaking
their own language; but a smile of satisfaction lighted up their
countenances as he continued.  He told them that he was a Circassian,
that he sought to reach his native land, in which all his hopes were
centered--that he had long lived away from it, and knew not even its
customs--that he had undergone many dangers and difficulties in
approaching to that point--but that he had not further means to
accomplish his purpose.

As he finished speaking, a rough weather-beaten man in the Turkish dress
started up, exclaiming: "The way to get there is clear before you; for
my vessel now rides in the bay, waiting only for a fair wind, or any
wind at all, to sail direct for the coast.  This good company is going
with me, and by Allah! we will reach it safely, or never trust the Reis
Mustapha, in spite of all the Russian fleets that may beset our course.
May the Evil One possess them, and their mother's sons!"

Having thus delivered himself of his unusually long oration, he sat
down; and a tall and venerable man, who appeared to be the chief of the
party, rose to confirm his words.

"Whoever you may be, young stranger, who, though with a Frankish dress
and appearance speak our language, and are as you say of our country,
you shall be welcome to join our party; and if, with good intentions,
you visit the land of the Atteghei, I will protect you from all dangers
which may beset you, to the utmost of my power."

The speaker was dressed in the Circassian costume.  He bore on his head
a white turban.  His long beard descended to his breast.  He wore a
flowing caftan of silk; and at his girdle, a cama or dagger, with a
broad two-edged blade, and an ivory handle.  His features were handsome,
and his eyes sparkled with the fire and animation of youth as he spoke.

Ivan's heart bounded with joy and gratitude at his words; for one of the
last, the greatest difficulties in the accomplishment of his
undertaking, was overcome.

"Willingly do I embrace your valued offer," he said; "and I trust to be
able to prove to you and all my countrymen that I go to Circassia for
the purpose alone of aiding her cause.  As yet, I am a man without a
name, and without friends: but the time may come when I shall find both,
and be able to show my gratitude for your generosity.  Till then you
must be content to remain in ignorance of my previous history.  My first
endeavour shall be, to gain a noble name by gallant deeds, and thus
prove myself worthy of the race from whence I sprung.  I will then seek
a brave and honoured sire, who may not blush to own his son.  Till I
have accomplished my purpose, I have sworn to conceal my name from all.
Know me, then, alone as `The Stranger.'  I bring with me but my own
willing arm, and two faithful followers."

"It is enough," replied the old man who had before spoken.  "Nor has
Hadji Guz Beg lived so few years in the world that he cannot read the
countenances of men.  To your's, young stranger, I can fully trust.  In
it I can read truth and courage.  Say no more.  I seek not to pry into
your motives or private history.  I have confidence in the one, and sure
I am there is no disgrace in the other.  You shall join us."

"I confidently put myself into your power," said Ivan.  "You will thus
be able to test my truth.  For that of my followers I will be
answerable."

Javis and young Conrin were now invited to join the party, with whom the
former, in his usual manner, soon made himself acquainted.

It was arranged that, at dawn of the next morning, the Turkish Reis
Mustapha should return to the cafeneh, to conduct Ivan and his followers
aboard his vessel, when, if the wind proved favourable, they were to set
sail immediately.  Ivan was surprised at his good fortune in finding a
vessel at Varna, bound for the Circassian coast, as he fully expected to
be obliged to touch at several Turkish ports before he was successful in
his search; but it proved that she had been driven, on her passage from
the Bosphorus, by a violent gale of wind, thus far to the north, when
she had been obliged to anchor to save herself from going ashore.  A
calm had succeeded the gale, which, most fortunately for Ivan, had
detained her there for several days.

The principal person among the passengers was the Hadji Guz Beg, a
celebrated Circassian leader, now returning from a pilgrimage which he
had undertaken to Mecca, during a short interval of peace, which the
Russians had, for their own sakes, afforded his country.  He spoke much
of the lands he had visited, and the adventures he had encountered,
particularly of a visit he had paid to Mahomet Ali in Egypt, when his
brother hero received him with affection and respect, urging him to
remain some time with him.  But news of the war in the Caucasus having
been renewed had caused him to hurry back to partake in its dangers and
excitement.  None could look at the old warrior Hadji, without believing
that he was possessed of the most indomitable spirit and heroic bravery.
As we pursue our history, we shall have much more to say of him.

The party soon separated, to make the final preparations for their
voyage.  The indefatigable Javis set out to purchase dresses and other
necessaries, nearly exhausting the remainder of their money.  Ivan had
determined to make his appearance on the Circassian shores in his native
costume, throwing aside for ever all marks and remembrances of Russian
thraldom.  Conrin wished, also, to adopt the same style of dress, to
which his master willingly needed: while Javis, who claimed no nation as
his own, preferred the Turkish habit, as being suited to the language he
spoke.

Javis returned late in the evening, bringing with him a sword of highly
tempered Damascus steel, which he had obtained with great difficulty; a
rifle and dagger for Ivan, and a brace of pistols for himself.  He had
procured, moreover, a handsome Circassian coat of dark cloth trimmed
with silver, and a red cap, trimmed with fur, with other parts of the
dress for his master, and a light-coloured tunic and vest, with a cloak
for the page, for whom he also brought a sharp silver-mounted dagger and
pistols.

It would be difficult to describe the feelings of satisfaction with
which Ivan assumed the garb of his ancestors.  In imagination, he
fancied himself at the head of a faithful band of his tribe--if in
reality he could claim the rank of leader--ready to rush down on the
invaders of his paternal shores; he grasped his sword, gazing on it with
a stern and determined eye, and internally vowing never to sheathe it,
until they had been driven from the land, or to perish with it bravely
in his hand.  As he drew himself up to his full height, with eye
dilated, thoughts abstracted from all present scenes, he looked in truth
already the gallant and brave warrior he fancied himself.

So regardless was he of all around him, that he did not observe the
glance with which his youthful follower, who had silently and unobserved
entered the apartment, regarded him.  The boy stood rivetted to the
ground as he first caught sight of his master in his new costume; and
had Ivan wished to know what effect he was likely to produce on others,
he might have looked into the countenance of his page, when his vanity
would have been fully satisfied.

Neither spoke for some time; but when Ivan at last perceived the youth,
"Ah!  Conrin," he cried, "are you come to welcome your master in the
free garb of the mountains?  Rejoice with me, that I no longer feel
myself a slave and an alien in a land of tyranny; henceforward you will
follow the fortunes of one determined to rise above the frowns of fate.
Are you still resolved, boy, to share all the dangers and hardships I
must encounter, to receive alone the slender reward I may be able to
offer?  Will you now quit me?"

"Oh, speak not thus, Sir," replied the boy; "where you go I will
willingly follow, through all dangers, all hardships, even to death:
that I may be only near you, to warn you of any threatened harm I may
discover, is the utmost reward I seek for my poor services.  To nurse
you when wounded, to cheer your couch when you might be left to the
heartless care of strangers, will be my anxious task.  To accompany you
on your excursions--to follow you to the field--to fight by your side--
to shield your life, will be my greatest happiness."

Carried away by his feelings, the boy clasped his hands with energy as
he spoke; but in a moment he stopped in confusion, as if he had
expressed more than he had intended.

Ivan looked at him with astonishment.  "You are indeed a noble, gallant
youth," said he, "though you claim not high birth or descent; I am happy
in finding so faithful and true a friend.  I could not, if I wished it
now, send you back to your country, and much it would grieve my heart to
part from you; but I will protect you while I live and have an arm to
wield my sword.  Wherever I go, you shall accompany me; but I fear that
you will be exposed to many perils in my sendee; for, believe me, the
enemies of my country will not be driven from their attempt, without a
fierce and desperate struggle; and it may yet be many years before they
are free."

"Oh, Sir, you know not the happiness your words cause in my breast,"
answered Conrin.  "With you I shall laugh at all dangers and
difficulties, and fear nothing that can happen to me."

"I know your regard, my good boy.  Now, leave me to myself.  I would be
alone, to meditate on my undertaking.  A few days more will carry us to
those shores whence I wish never to return."

As the page withdrew, he cast a glance of affection at his master, and
Ivan sunk again into the train of thought from which he had been
aroused.

At length he rose, and wandered forth by himself, not feeling inclined
for the company even of his faithful attendants.  He climbed to the
summit of the half ruined citadel of the town, and looked forth
anxiously on the broad expanse of ocean which lay calm and unruffled at
his feet, longing eagerly for a breeze, to fill the sails of the bark
which was to carry him and his fortunes to death or victory.  But not a
breath fanned his cheeks as he waited, long watching, till he saw the
sun descend over the land of his destination, in a broad flame of glory,
tinging the whole sea with a yellow glow.

On every side, the fortifications were in a state of ruin and
dilapidation, owing to the severe and protracted siege the town had
sustained from the Russians, till it was traitorously delivered into
their hands by that execrable monster, Usef Pacha.  [Vide Spenser.]

Rousing himself, he returned to the cafeneh, where he found young Conrin
anxiously awaiting his arrival.  The boy looked sad and melancholy, till
he saw his master's countenance wearing a more serene expression than
before, when his features were lit up with pleasure, and he followed him
into the house, where they found the Hadji, the captain of the zebeque,
and the rest of his passengers.

The Hadji, on first glancing towards Ivan, as he entered in his national
costume, scarcely knew him, but no sooner did he recognise him, than he
rushed forward with outstretched arms to embrace him.

"Ah, my son," he cried, "I now recognise in you a true scion of the
noble race of the _Atteghei_; [the name the Circassians call themselves]
and welcome shall you be to join, with your youthful arm, in our
struggle for independence.  Bismillah! with a few hundred such youths as
you at my back, I would take every cursed Russian fort on our coast, may
the Evil One possess them!  You, perchance, have no father; I will be to
you as one, and you shall be to me as a son.  I will protect you from
all who shall dare to oppose you, so fear not."

"I would wish for no more valiant protector, noble Hadji," replied Ivan,
"and gladly, in all things, will I follow your advice, and profit by
your experience.  Under your guidance, I trust soon to gain that renown
after which I thirst, and to shew myself no unworthy child of the
Atteghei."

"You speak well, young man," replied the Hadji; "I have grown too old
not to boast a little; and you need have no fear of not gaining credit
under my standard.  Bismillah! the fana Moscov well know the sight of
it.  I will shew you what fighting is in a few days, with the blessing
of Allah!"

With such like conversation, the time passed, till all the party sought
repose.

At the first streak of dawn, Ivan started up from the carpet on which he
had passed the night, at one end of the divan, summoning Javis and his
page, who came the moment he heard his master's voice.  The Hadji, and
the rest of the party quickly followed his example, and were met at the
door of the cafeneh by the Reis, who came in haste to inform them that a
breeze, light, though favourable for their voyage, had sprung up.

They rowed off into the bay, where the light zebeque lay at anchor, with
her sails loosened, and were quickly on board.  The anchor was tripped,
her head gradually paid off from the wind, and calmly and slowly she
glided from the shores of Turkey.

Far in the distance appeared the blue and indistinct ridges of the
Balcan mountains; before them, the quiet sea; while around passed many
of the primitive looking fishing boats, and small coasting vessels,
skimming over the waters, their crews habited in picturesque dresses,
and gaudy-coloured turbans.  No sooner were they under weigh, than the
devout Mahometans of the party knelt for the performance of morning
prayer, while Ivan, following their example, offered up his thanks to
Heaven for his escape from so many and imminent dangers.

Volume 2, Chapter III.

For several days did the light zebeque, which bore our hero and his
fortunes towards his native land, glide calmly and securely over the
unruffled surface of the blue and shining waters, without encountering
any of those violent, but short lived, tempests for which the Euxine is
so noted; or, what was still more to be dreaded by the voyagers, without
meeting any of the Russian cruisers.  All on board were congratulating
themselves on the calmness of the sea, and the favourable weather, which
seemed to promise a prosperous termination to their voyage, when they
were doomed to experience how uncertain and changeable are all things
here below.

The wind, which had hitherto blown gently in their favour, now
treacherously shifted round to the north-east, while dark lowering
clouds appeared in the horizon ahead.  The breeze came at first in
fitful and strong gusts, so suddenly commencing, that it scarcely
allowed time to the slow-moving Turkish seamen to take in their canvass,
ere the light vessel heeled over to the strength of the blast, but as
they clewed up the sails she again righted.

"Allah be praised!" exclaimed the sturdy captain of the zebeque, running
here and there, encouraging and assisting the people in their exertions
to shorten sail; "we shall yet weather such a summer storm as this.
Bosh! this is nothing.  Now, my brothers, my dear brothers, work with a
good will, and by the blessings of the Prophet, no harm will happen to
us.  Keep her well before it, Osman," turning to the man at the helm.
"We must run before it for a time till the wind moderates, since she
will not look up to it.  Square the yards, my men," as the people
descended on deck, having close-reefed the lower sail, and taken in the
upper ones.  "Well done, good brothers, Allah is merciful, and we may
laugh at the storm."

With such like exclamations of encouragement, the Reis cheered the men's
spirits, instead of swearing at and abusing them, as the commanders of
vessels of more civilised nations are apt to do.

As the vessel's head turned from the gale, she ran quickly before it,
bounding over the low, but froth-covered, hissing and sparkling waves
which the squall had raised.  The breeze quickly abated, and her head
being again brought to the wind in nearly her right course, she dashed
bravely through the water, the spray breaking over her bows in showers,
sparkling with the hues of the rainbow, and sorely disconcerting her
passengers.

To our hero, who had never been before on the surface of the ocean, the
scene was novel and highly exciting.  The waters, so lately smiling in
calm and unruffled beauty, were now crested with a white glistening
foam; the waves madly danced and sported in confused ridges; the dark
clouds chased each other across the sky, and quickly disappeared to
leave it blue and clear.  From the looks of his seafaring companions, he
could have seen that no danger was to be apprehended, had he not been
too much occupied with the contemplation of the sudden, and to him,
extraordinary change which the face of nature had undergone, to think
even for a moment of peril or mishap.

The youthful page, standing near his master, kept his eye fixed on his
countenance, giving an eager and an inquiring glance; but, reading in
his tranquil looks that there was nothing to fear, he seemed perfectly
satisfied.  Javis, who, in his wandering life, had passed over many
leagues of sea, saw there was no danger to dread in this summer squall,
and with his usual activity was giving his assistance to the sailors.
He had already become a great favourite with all the crew and
passengers; and even the dignified but kind-hearted Hadji regarded him
with an eye of favour, as one faithful to the friend to whom he
considered himself as protector.  Young Conrin alone kept aloof from the
crew in solitude and silence, except when answering a few low words to
Javis's attentive inquiries, or when Ivan addressed him.  His
countenance would then light up with pleasure and animation, as he
poured out his soul in expressions of admiration at the vast changing
scene of waters, seeming alike, and yet so different and variable.

As the sun sank down beneath the waves, a vast, glowing ball of fire,
seeming to throw a liquid flame over the sky to the very zenith,
reflecting its burning hue on the dancing waters; the wind fell as
suddenly as it had arisen; but in its stead a dense fog came on, so that
by the time the shades of night had cast their gloom over the sea, it
was scarcely possible to distinguish any object beyond the head of the
vessel.  Nevertheless, with a firm confidence in destiny, the Reis kept
the zebeque on her course, trusting that she would not be run down by
any larger craft in the dark, or meet with any other accident, and
throwing himself on his mat spread on the deck, waited for daylight, in
the hope of seeing by that time the Circassian coast, to which he
calculated they were drawing near.

The night passed tranquilly; but it was yet scarcely daylight when the
breeze, again freshening, partly dissipated the fog, blowing slight
openings in some places, and in others wreathing it into thick columns,
when the man at the mast-head sung out that he saw a large and towering
sail on the weather bow, close aboard them.  As he gave the alarm on
deck, the Reis sprung from his mat and rushed to the helm.  The lookout
man indicated the direction of the stranger, who evidently did not yet
see them, concealed as their low sails were by the fog.  Nothing
daunted, the sturdy captain put the helm up, ordering the yards to be
squared, and keeping the vessel's head before the wind, hoping thereby
to escape the vigilance of their much-dreaded foe, for there was not the
slightest doubt the stranger must be a Russian, it being improbable that
one of any other nation should be found in those waters.

For some anxious minutes it appeared that this manoeuvre had succeeded;
and calling on Allah and his holy prophet to succour them, he prayed
that the fog, again becoming dense, would favour their escape; but it
was a narrow chance.  Should the breeze freshen a little more, it might
in a moment blow aside the thin veil which shrouded them, and expose
them to their remorseless enemies.

Ivan, the Hadji, and the rest of the passengers, had assembled on deck,
and on being informed of the threatened danger, the former, to whom it
was the most critical, nerved himself to meet it with fortitude.  To
fall into the hands of the Russians, by whom he would probably be soon
recognised, would be utter destruction, perpetual slavery or death.

The Hadji, forgetful partly of his newly assumed sacred character, drew
his sword with one hand, while he commenced telling his beads with the
other; and, addressing himself to prayers for their safety, at intervals
he hurled abusive epithets at the foe, and uttered words of
encouragement to his companions.  The rest of the landsmen followed the
more pious part of his example, except Ivan's two followers, who stood
by their master's side, looking as if determined to sell their lives
dearly, ere they would permit him to be captured by their hated enemies.
The crew, much to their credit, kept at their posts, ready to obey any
of the orders the Captain might find it necessary to give, in altering
their course, or in taking in or making sail.

As much canvass had already been spread on the lower yards of the vessel
as she could bear, the Reis being fearful of setting any more aloft, in
case of thus exposing her to the sight of the enemy.  The man from the
mast-head gave the welcome intelligence, that the Russian ship was no
where to be seen; but scarcely a minute had elapsed, when another
violent and sudden squall struck the zebeque, almost splitting her
sails, but, fortunately being before the wind, she scudded on still
quicker from the danger.

The hopes of all on board, at this chance of escape, were raised high,
only to be as quickly and grievously disappointed; for at the same
instant, the blast which had struck them cleared away the fog, and
discovered a large Russian corvette, at some distance fortunately, and
heeling over on her beam ends to the violence of the squall, it having
caught her it appeared unawares, her people being busily employed in
taking in her more lofty sails.

It was a moment of deep suspense to all on board the Turkish vessel; but
a cry of despair arose from her crew, as they saw with their glasses the
crew of the corvette descending from her rigging, the sails yet
unfurled, the yards being squared as her head came quickly round in the
direction they were sailing.  Onward she proudly came, ploughing with
her bow the now fast rising sea, all her sails swelling, as if they
would burst from the ropes which confined them.  It seemed that no power
could stop her course, as throwing the foaming waters aside, she spurned
the waves on which she rode.

Many a cheek on board the Turk was blanched with anticipations of the
worst, and many a heart trembled which had scarce before felt fear, as
the crew looked on their overwhelming pursuer, now rapidly shortening
her distance from them.  Even on the sturdy Captain's brow large drops
of perspiration stood, as he grasped more firmly the helm, casting many
an anxious, but momentary, glance behind him, and then again at his
sails and masts to see that they stood the gale; for he knew that his
vessel's best point of sailing was before the wind, drawing as she did,
so little water, and scarcely seeming to touch the waves as she bounded
along before them.  Dark and thick masses of clouds rose rapidly behind
the enemy, causing her sails to appear of snowy whiteness, and making
her seem still more alarmingly near than she really was.  As yet,
however, for fear of stopping her way, she had not fired her guns, being
perfectly certain of quickly catching her tiny chase.

The turmoil of the foaming waves, now lashed into ungovernable fury,
increased each moment, while the thick heavy clouds, clashing in their
hurried and disordered race, sent forth reiterated peels of thunder, and
vivid and sharp flashes of forked lightning darted through the air.  The
rising sun had for a moment shed forth his beams on the scene of tumult,
casting a bright glittering light on the madly leaping waves; but as if
angry at the wild uproar, again concealed his glory behind the clouds,
leaving a deep gloom on the disturbed waters.

The huge billows rolled along side of the little bark; and, following up
astern, as if eager to grasp her beneath their vortex, threatened every
moment to overwhelm her.  Still, however, keeping before them, she
seemed thrown from wave to wave; her head now dashed into the frothy,
boiling cauldron, and now lifted high above the sea, while a dark abyss
threatened below, and a towering billow seemed about to break over, and
inundate her.  At intervals also, the clouds, to add to the disorder,
sent forth deluges of rain so thick, as almost to conceal their vast
pursuer from view; but when again it subsided, she was seen approaching
still nearer to them.

At length, the Russian, angry and weary of the long chase, yawed a
little, and discharged his bow chasers in hopes of crippling the Turk,
and bringing him to; but the balls either plunged into the leaping
waves, or flew high above his masts, as difficult it was to take any
certain aim, while so high a sea was running.

When the missiles of destruction passed thus wide of their mark, a laugh
of defiance, which sounded much like desperation, escaped the Reis, as
he watched where they fell.  The corvette continued firing, as fast as
the people could load the guns, but without doing any damage to the
chase; and of course, the manoeuvre constantly repeated, made her fall
further astern, till hopeless of hitting so small a mark at that
distance, she desisted from firing; and continuing the pursuit,
followed, according to the shiftings of the wind, the devious track of
the zebeque.

The gale as if wearied by its own violence, seemed to have expended its
fury, and to be passing over; first leaving the larger vessel astern,
which was preparing to make more sail, when it shifted round suddenly to
the west with redoubled fury.

Though the zebeque was thus placed to windward, it was certain
destruction to attempt bringing so crank and light a vessel as she was,
broadside on to that raging sea, which would, in an instant, have
overwhelmed her; on a wind being her worst point of sailing.  The only
alternative of unavoidable and quick destruction, was to run still on
before it, and thus to bring the vessel under the very bows of her
gigantic opponent.

Few men, however brave, will rush with their eyes open on certain death,
if it is to be avoided.  Not a moment was to be lost in deliberation,
and as the renewed fury of the gale struck her, the zebeque's head was
again turned towards the east, rapidly approaching the enemy.

The respective positions of the vessels may be thus described.  The
corvette was to the north, with her head south-east, while the Turk was
running due east; thus approaching each other on two sides of a
triangle, of which the apex was towards the east.

Now was the most trying moment for all on board the Turkish vessel, yet
still there was one remote chance of escape--a hazardous one
unquestionably; and yet, in preference to captivity, it was worth while
to risk destruction.  They might, by running down to the Russian, and
pretending to submit, pass under her stern, and escape before the wind.
Yet it was an experiment, the very mention of which might be derided as
the proposition of madmen.

The moment the Russian perceived the change of course the chase had
made, the corvette hauled her wind without stopping to take in sail, and
recommenced firing her guns, to allow no chance to escape, should the
wind again fail, of capturing her almost certain prey.  The balls, as
before, at first flew harmlessly through the air, or plunged into the
deep, as, towering in her pride; on she came, heeling over to the
furious blast, and casting the foaming waters high over her broad
swelling lofty bow.

Yet the power, the majesty of man's greatest achievement, seemed as
nought amid the strife and tumult of nature.  The roar of the artillery
was mocked to scorn by the far louder crash of heaven's thunder, and the
wild tumult of the waves.  The flashes of the guns were far outshone by
the brightness of the vivid lightning; but none in either vessel seemed
to regard the violent fury of the elements, too intent were they on
their own desperate game.

During this awful and critical interval, Ivan stood firm and collected,
though a sad fate seemed to await him.  On one side, he saw
imprisonment, degradation, and a hopeless exile: on the other, a certain
death, should the Russians, as was but too probable, when there was no
prospect of a prize of value, run down the vessel which had given them
so much trouble; or if she refused to yield, sink her with their guns.
Ivan earnestly prayed for the latter fate: for of what value would life
be to him, with all its lofty aspirations overthrown, his hopes blasted?
What but misery and hopeless slavery, chains and toil, could he expect,
if he escaped with life?  Javis had brought him his sword, which he held
firmly in his grasp, yet somewhat mechanically, perhaps, as if it would
be a satisfaction to die with that in his hand: while Javis, casting
glances of scowling defiance towards the foe, stood ready to defend his
master if it were possible.

And young Conrin, where was he during this time of tumult and danger?
Calm and undismayed, he too stood by his master's side.  His courage
seemed to have risen with the imminence of the danger.  It was not
ignorance of the peril of their situation which gave him that cool and
intrepid air; for he marked it well, as with unflinching glance he gazed
ever and anon at the coming foe, and then fixed his large flashing eye
intently on his master's face.  His brow and cheek were paler than
usual, and his lips compressed: yet it seemed that, although an awful
death was about to overwhelm all on board, his features wore an air of
almost satisfaction and happiness; but he spoke not, nor moved from his
post.  It was strange that so young a boy should show such courage at so
trying a moment, when hardy seamen quailed and turned pale with terror.

Well did the gallant old Hadji show that his heart was fearless, and
that he was a warrior-leader of a brave people, whom no danger could
daunt, as rousing himself from his prayers, he stood defying his
enemies, and prepared for the worst.  Of his followers and the crew,
some took courage from his example, and bravely grasped their arms, in
the futile hope of, at least, having one blow for life; while others,
pallid and trembling with dismay, tried to shelter themselves behind the
bulwarks of the vessel.

The Russians continued firing without intermission, the shots every
instant falling closer to the mark, till one went through the Turk's
after-sail, and another followed, striking his deck, ploughing up the
wood, and throwing the splinters on every side, ere it bounded
overboard.  A few more fell harmlessly; but they were now approaching
frightfully near the Russian, and they could scarcely hope to escape
more of his shots.  Another of these missiles came on board tearing away
part of the bulwarks, striking one of the seamen, and carrying his
mangled body with it into the sea.  At this event, even the hardy
captain's presence of mind forsook him: his courage for a moment gave
way; and quitting his post, he wrung his hands in despair, leaving the
vessel to her fate.

At this critical juncture, Ivan sprang aft, seizing the captain by the
arm, and forced him to resume his place at the helm.

"For shame, Reis Mustapha!" he exclaimed.  "You, have hitherto behaved
like a brave, good seaman, continue to prove that you really are one.
Regard not the shots till they sink us.  That can but be our fate at the
last, when all hope has flown.  While you live, use all means, all
exertions to escape, for Providence may yet rescue us from destruction."

"Ay, ay, my brother," interrupted the brave old Hadji.  "Give not way to
despair while a hope remains.  Cowards alone do that.  Think you that I
have prayed to Allah and his Prophet for no purpose, that he should thus
abandon his servants?  Have I journeyed to his holy city, and kissed the
sacred Kaaba for nought?  Still hope that our time is not yet come."

"The noble Hadji speaks truly," added Ivan.  "Take the helm, Reis, and
guide us straight onward.  We shall soon know the worst."

The Reis obeyed; taking the tiller from the hands of Javis, but with a
look which plainly indicated that he was without hope.

By this time they were close to the corvette; but her guns were now more
carelessly aimed, from the certainty the Russians felt of capturing the
chase.

The awful, the dreaded moment approached, which would too probably
consign every human being on board the zebeque to eternity, for their
huge opponent seemed determined to run them down if their colours were
not instantly lowered, and even then there was but little chance of
their escaping that fate.  Another moment and the next vast surge would
bring her upon them!  A more tremendous blast than they had hitherto
felt now struck them, hurling their tiny bark before it into the very
jaws of the foe.  Deluges of thick rain rushed down, while a loud roar
thundered from the clouds, and a vivid flash of lightning darted through
the air.  A loud shriek of despair rose from the crew: their fate was
sealed.

"Allah protect us!" cried the Hadji.  "This is an awful time."

The bravest gasped for breath; the deck seemed to shake beneath their
feet.  The sea dashed over them, but the thick falling rain obscured all
around from their sight.

The young page gazed more earnestly at his master, but his limbs
trembled not, nor did a word escape his lips.

The dreaded shock came not; the vessel still floated on the waves; the
thick rain ceased.

Again a cry arose from the Turkish crew, but it was no longer that of
terror.  "Where is the Giaour? where is the Russian ship?" was uttered
by the voices of all.  They had passed her.

There she lay, close on their quarter, with her head to the wind, her
foremast shattered to the deck, the spars and rigging dashing against
her sides, her bulwarks stove in: the proud ship of Russia, was a
wreck--she was on fire!

Even at that moment of confusion, some small guns were fired over her
stern, with a determined feeling of animosity and revenge, in the hopes
of doing some injury, but their shot fell impotently into the waves, and
the crew were too much occupied with their own preservation, to pay any
further attention to the hard-driven chase.

Loud prayers ascended from the deck of the Turk, for their narrow and
providential escape; Ivan's heartbeat quicker with gratitude than it had
with fear; while young Conrin clasped his hands with silent fervour, and
seemed ready to fall at his master's feet with joy.

The Hadji, having concluded his brief prayer, exclaimed; "Did I not tell
you, Reis, that Allah would protect us, that my prayers would not be in
vain?  Look, where the late impious Kaffir lies shattered and scathed by
Heaven's rage, at the very moment he thought himself secure of his prey.
Another time think not that it is your kismet [fate] to die; that will
come in Allah's good time; but strive on always to the last.  Think you
my countrymen could hold out against our mighty foe, if we thought that
it was our kismet to be conquered?  Bosh! kismet is a good thing, when
it points to victory; but else it is nonsense.  No, my brother, no;
strive while you can, and yield to fate only when it overpowers you."

These principles the gallant Hadji not only preached, but with the rest
of his countrymen, practised.

As the danger diminished, so did the courage of the terror-stricken crew
return.  They taunted with gestures their crippled and now impotent foe,
as the light zebeque bounded away from her before the gale.  "Why don't
you come on now?" some cried.  "See, Giaour; see, cowardly Kaffir, we
are sailing away from you; why don't you follow us as before?  Come on,
then, come on.  We cannot wait for you.  We are in a hurry to pursue our
voyage."

With such like expressions the crew shewed their delight at their
escape, while rapidly scudding onward they soon run the corvette out of
sight.  As long as her movements could be distinguished, she remained
with her head still to the wind, dipping her bows under the waves which
broke in deluges over her.  Thick wreaths of smoke rose from that part
of her deck where her foremast had stood, curling round her remaining
masts as it was blown aft; but that in time decreased, and the fire was
apparently got under.  So little mercy had she shewn to the zebeque,
that no commiseration was felt for her fate, whatever it might be.

Those only who have escaped from imminent peril, when either death or
slavery has been about to overtake them, can fully enter into the
feelings of gratitude and satisfaction which our hero experienced, as
the last topmast sails of the Russian ship sank below the horizon; and
those only who have seen a loved object rescued from a threatened
danger, can feel as the young Conrin did; for few could love so well as
that strangely enthusiastic and romantic boy loved his master.

They continued on their course, running all day before the wind, which
drove them towards their destination, each moment dreading to fall in
with another Russian cruiser; but not a sail appeared to alarm them.  By
night the wind, still keeping favourable, subsided to a gentle breeze,
while a sharp lookout was kept from the mast-head for another enemy, or
to discover the coast, which they knew they must be now nearing.

Volume 2, Chapter IV.

The territory of the Circassian tribes is bounded on the north by the
River Kouban, which separates it from the lands now inhabited by the
Tchernemorskoi Cossacks, whom the Russians--after utterly annihilating
the former inhabitants, (not using the words in a figurative sense)--
placed there as a rough and sturdy outwork to their empire.  From the
mouths of the Kouban it is bounded by the Black Sea, the coast trending
from the north-west to the south-east as far as Iscuria, on the mouth of
the Salamache River, which separates it on the south from the province
of Mingrelia, now nominally subject to Russia.  To the south-east is the
former kingdom of Georgia, now also brought under subjection to the same
benign and far reaching power.  To the north-east, the sources of the
Kouban and some of its numerous mountain tributaries pass through its
present borders, the plains beyond having been conquered by Russia.  To
the east, the boundaries are uncertain, depending on those natural
fortifications, the inaccessible cliffs of the Caucasus; but the tribes
even to the very shores of the Caspian, have set their invaders at
defiance, and have joined the league of the patriot Circassians.

Circassia Proper is divided into Lower Abasia to the north, bordering on
the Kouban, and Upper Abasia to the south; the inhabitants of the former
being by far the most civilised and polished of the two, though both
equally cordial in detestation of their invaders.  These two divisions
are again separated into provinces, those of Nottakhaotzi, Khapsoukhi,
Bredoukha, and of the Demirghoi, in Lower Abasia, which is the part of
the country to which we are about to introduce our readers.  The tribes
keep distinct from each other, though the members of each live scattered
about in all parts of the country.

The whole of the independent part of Circassia is mountainous, that
alone having: been able to withstand the immensely superior force which
the Russians brought against them; but the tribes of the plains equally
hate their conquerors, and take every opportunity of escaping to join
their still free countrymen.  Indeed, the whole, or greater part, of
some tribes have migrated to the mountains to be released from Russian
oppression, leaving their homes, their fields, and their property, to
ruin and destruction.

There are no cities or towns in Circassia; the inhabitants preferring
the freedom and health of a mountain life to the trammels and formality
of the city, and each chief choosing the most beautiful and romantic
spot for his habitation, while his followers and dependents collect in
hamlets in the neighbourhood.

The principal rivers falling into the Kouban are the Kara Kouban, the
Ubin, the Aranos, the Laba, and the Urup; those which empty themselves
into the Black Sea are the Sukhoi, the Mezi, near the Russian Fort
Ghelendjik, the Toughe, the Soubachi, which divides Upper and Lower
Abasia, the Kenehili, the Llhena, the Kodos, and the Salmache, which
separates the country from Mingrelia.  Numerous other streams and
rivulets meander through the whole country, and fertilise every vale.

At the time to which our story refers, the Russians had succeeded in
erecting several forts in the boundaries of the country; those of Anapa
and Ghelendjik on the coast, both built under the protection of a
powerful army, aided by the guns from their ship.  They have established
also a line of fortified towns to the north of the Kouban, the principal
of which are Ekatermodar, Labinskai, Stavrapol, Alexandrof, and
Georgivesk, forming a road of communication from the Black Sea towards
the Caspian, called the Valdi Caucasse.  But even between these towns
the Russians cannot move except with a strong escort, as otherwise they
would run the greatest risk of being cut off by the mountaineers, who
descending from their fastnesses, frequently make excursions far beyond
them.  There are also other forts of less importance, which will be
mentioned in the course of our history.

The origin of the Circassians, like that of all nations who have
tradition alone to hand down their history, is clouded in obscurity.
They themselves do not pretend to know from what race they are sprung,
but it is certain that they are of very great antiquity, and have in all
ages been celebrated for their bravery and other warlike qualities,
their courtesy, and the surpassing beauty of their women.  At one period
they inhabited an extended tract of territory, comprising the Crimea,
and all the country bordering on the Sea of Marmora and the Euxine; but
the tribes dwelling in that country either became amalgamated with the
Tartars, or were driven thence by the superior numbers of that people,
as the pure stock is now only to be found among the mountains of the
Caucasus, or in the plains immediately below them.

It seems probable, that the Circassians are of Median extraction, and
were at one time as civilised as any of the surrounding nations, if not
more so: but it must be confessed that they have not advanced, even with
the same steps in the arts and sciences as their neighbours; though they
retain in a greater degree the polished and courteous manners, and
heroic virtues which formed the pride of the nations of antiquity.  The
tribes which boast of belonging to the purer race, unmixed with any
foreign blood, distinguish themselves by the name of Atteghei, and as in
Great and Little Karbadia, their language is spoken with the greatest
purity.  Those provinces have most likely from time immemorial, been
inhabited by the true Circassians, who thence scattered themselves over
the surrounding districts, either by conquest, or by finding the land
unoccupied.

The people to whom we give the general name of Circassians, call
themselves Atteghei; some writers mention them as Carbadians, from their
former country of Karbadia, while the Turks and Russians call them
without distinction, Abasians.

There are four classes of society among them, the first, that of the
Pchees or Princes, who are the heads of the most powerful tribes; the
Ouzdens or nobles, many of whom, at present, have no real power, but who
disdain to intermix their blood with those below them; the Tocavs or
Freemen, many of whom possess wealth, and are, except in blood, equal to
the nobles; and lastly, the serfs, or slaves taken in war, who in time
become incorporated into the tribes of their masters, and may gain their
freedom.  The power of the Princes has of late years much declined,
though they are treated with the strictest observances of respect, by
those of inferior rank.

In some tribes, the chiefs are hereditary, while in others, a head is
chosen among the principal nobles of their own tribe, for his life,
except he should prove incapable, in which case he is deposed, and
another elected in his stead.  At times also, instead of the head of the
tribe, a leader is chosen to conduct them to war, while the former acts
in a civil capacity alone.

In no country is greater respect shewn by inferiors to those above them
in rank or age; and in no country has the spirit of clanship been
carried further, all being bound to revenge the death of one of their
tribe on the slayer; and, should the offender not be given up, on the
life of any member of his family; the Lex Talionis, being indeed the
principal law of the land, as it must be in all countries, where there
is no fixed government to dispense justice.

The government, indeed, such as it is, may be looked upon rather as a
Republic, than as an Oligarchy; for those of all ranks may give their
opinion, and vote at the public meetings, though the princes and chiefs
of clans have the most influence, and their sentiments are looked upon
with the greatest respect.  Perhaps, no country is more free, or
governed with so much regularity and order.

Each man may if oppressed, leave his chief, and put himself under the
protection of another; changing his lands at will to any spot he may
find unoccupied, no one having the right of keeping lands he does not
cultivate.  Though, for many generations, they have remained under
successive descendants of the same chief; they are bound by no other
tie, than that of love and respect, while so carefully does each class
guard its own privileges, that no chief has ever succeeded in uniting
the whole under his own authority.

Their laws are few and simple, exactly suited to their state of society,
and so strictly enforced, that they are comparatively rarely infringed;
each tribe being answerable for the crimes of any individual member, who
consequently offends equally against his own friends.  All claims are
settled by a jury, composed of six members from the respective tribes,
and are generally arranged by payment of fines, two hundred head of
oxen, being the fine for manslaughter, and so on for theft, abduction,
etc.  Should the fine not be paid by the time agreed on, the sufferers
carry off the cattle, and destroy the fences and fields of the
offenders.

It must be understood, that these tribes of the Atteghei are not
distinct races, but merely families who have been, perhaps for ages,
bound together by a solemn oath, to support each other in every way,
forming a brotherhood, as it were, who consider themselves so nearly
related, that they may not even intermarry with each other.

The religious faith of the people, is formed of a belief in one
omnipotent Being, and in the immortality of the soul; but they have no
established priests.  The elders and most venerable chiefs, or those
most noted for piety, together with their aged bards, perform the few
and simple ceremonies of religion.  Their place of worship is in some
secluded grove of aged and lofty trees, held sacred for ages by their
ancestors, whose tombs lie around them.

Let our readers ask themselves, if such worship is not more likely to be
grateful to the Divine Being, than the gross superstition and bigoted
idolatry of the benighted Russian, who scarcely knows the name of his
Maker.

There is not the slightest doubt, but that Christianity was at one time
the prevailing religion of the country, as there are numerous crosses in
all parts, still looked up to with veneration by the people; and there
are the ruins also of several churches.  It is said, that in some parts
of the interior of the more remote districts of Upper Abasia, the people
still profess Christianity unmixed with any Pagan observances.

The Circassians divide the week as among us, considering Sunday as the
most sacred day.  Easter is celebrated by them as a holy feast, with the
utmost pomp, beginning with a strict fast.  They have several saints or
inferior deities, guardians, they say, of the air, water, the harvest,
the summer, in whose honour they hold festivals at stated seasons, as in
Catholic countries; particularly one, which they celebrate much in the
same manner as the feast of St. John, in some parts of Germany, by
decking a tree with flowers, lights, and other ornaments.  Except on
these particular days, they do not pay their presiding guardians any
attention, nor even then, do they pray to them, but offer up sacrifices
by immolating victims on an altar, according to the old Pagan custom of
Greece and Rome.  They meet in the sacred groves to pray before going to
battle, and after a victory.

No religious ceremonies take place at their marriages, the couple being
alone betrothed in the presence of their friends, (as is now the lawful
way of coupling people in civilised England) when a feast is given, and
games take place.

The burial ceremonies, even of a chief or warrior, are simple,
consisting of a funeral oration, pronounced over his grave, while hymns
are sung by those who attend the procession to his last resting-place.
The anniversary of his death is celebrated with feasts, and prayers over
his tomb, decked with flowers.

Mahometism has of late years been introduced into the Caucasus by the
Turks, and some mosques have been established, but it has not gained
much ground; their ancient institutions being too deeply rooted in the
affections of the people, though numbers now profess it, but conform to
its customs, as far only as their inclination leads them.

The Circassians are, in general, a most abstemious people, living
chiefly on a farinaceous diet, and though possessing spirituous liquors
and wine, they use them in moderation, indulging in them, as well as in
meat, only on their great feasts.

They are hospitable in an unbounded degree, their guest-houses ever
standing open for the reception of visitors, but they have been taught,
by the vilest treachery, too often practised against them by the
instigation of the Russians, to be suspicious of strangers coming
without a recommendation to them.  Any one, however, who may visit their
country under the protection of one of their chiefs, they are ready to
protect to the utmost with their lives, each noble vieing with the other
in paying their guest attention.

They have the deepest veneration for age, listening to the counsels of
their elders, and obeying their commands.

To the female sex also, they pay the most chivalrous devotion.  Their
minstrel's highest theme, next to their warrior's deeds, is the praise
of woman's charms, and the proudest noble treats the lowly maiden with
every consideration and respect, nor thinks himself demeaned in aiding
her in any occupation in which she may be engaged.

The lower orders are in the habit of sending their daughters to the
Constantinopolitan matrimonial market, (for so it is to them,)
receiving, however, some valuable consideration, to insure their safe
arrival there.  The Circassians also take every precaution to hear
continually of the welfare of their daughters in Turkey; nor do they
ever compel them to go against their will, or, as in the more civilised
countries of Europe, drive them to contract a hateful marriage, or offer
them the dreadful alternative of being immured for life in a convent.
The nobles never allow their daughters to marry, except with one of
their own rank, and when they send them to Stamboul, it is to become the
chief sultana of some Pacha's harem, an arrangement the fair girls
consider the happiest fate which could befall them, though exchanging
the liberty of their mountains for riches, splendour, and a prison, but
gaining what they never could at home, entire liberty, on the death of
their lord, and frequently considerable wealth.  The Circassian girls
are much prized in the Turkish harems, beyond their beauty, for their
various useful and ornamental accomplishments.

We have said that there are no towns, the people living in villages,
hamlets, or detached dwellings.  The houses consist only of a ground
floor, built of wood plastered over, and neatly thatched.  The dwelling
of a chief consists of several separate divisions: the anderoon, or
women's apartments; that of the lord himself; and the guest-house;
besides the houses of the servants, the granaries, and stables for the
horses and cattle.

It is curious to see the interior of what appears a humble cottage,
filled with rich couches of silk, magnificent Turkey carpets, splendid
armour and weapons, inlaid tables and other valuable articles.

Some of the villages are fortified, but in a manner to afford no
protection against cannon.  They are generally situated by the side of
some limpid stream, and in the most picturesque situations.

They speak a language entirely different from any other known tongue;
but Turkish and Arabic is understood by many of their chiefs, who have
served in Turkey and Egypt.  Several also have been in the Russian
service; but have returned to their native country to defend her rights,
in preference to indulging in luxury and ease under a despot.

They say that their fighting men amount to two hundred thousand; but
every man amongst them is a warrior.

The arts are at a very low ebb among them, though they possess the
greatest skill in forging their armour and weapons, which they emboss
beautifully.  They also work in gold and silver embroidery; but it must
be confessed they are totally ignorant of science, nor have they even a
written language, and very few among them can read Turkish, though they
pay the greatest respect to the Koran, with which they administer their
oaths.

They are very industrious, having brought their lands into the highest
state of cultivation, thus enabling them within a small extent of
country, aided by the fertility of the soil, to support a large
population.  The farms are kept with the greatest neatness, and
surrounded with thriving orchards.  They possess also large flocks and
herds.

On all public occasions and when engaged in war, the chiefs wear
complete suits of splendid armour, much like that of the ancient
Persians, from whose country they sometimes procure it at the present
day.  On a foray, when activity is most requisite, and they wish not to
be distinguished from their followers, they have under their ordinary
dress, light coats of chain armour of most exquisite workmanship, many
of which are made in the country, and others come from Persia.  They
possess rifles and pistols, but many still use the long bow and arrow,
with which they can take the most deadly aim.  They have also long
swords, and the broad two-edged dagger, such as was used by the Romans
of old, a most murderous weapon in their hands.  They use also a sharp
straight sabre without a guard to the hilt.  The ordinary dress of all
classes is elegant and picturesque.

There are numerous wild animals in Circassia, such as bears, wolves,
jackals, and stags, which the people eagerly hunt.  Their horses are
celebrated for speed and strength, and they are perhaps the most expert
horsemen in the world.

We will now sum up the character of the Circassians.  No one, even their
enemies, can deny that they possess the most heroic bravery and
undaunted courage, the most devoted love of liberty, are hospitable to
the utmost of their means, generous in the extreme, virtuous in their
lives, and abstemious in their habits; that they venerate age, are
courteous and gentle to their women, polished in their manners to each
other, more especially to strangers, humane to their prisoners, have a
firm reliance on the goodness of the divinity, a deep sense of religion,
and the strictest regard to an oath, which is inviolable among them; and
yet, this being no highly coloured or overdrawn character, these are the
people, whom the Russian stigmatise as untameable barbarians, whom it
will be a benefit to the human race to sweep from the face of the earth.

Volume 2, Chapter V.

The now calm, glass-like waters shone with a rich glow of orange tint
reflected from the sky, as the sun rose in majestic glory from his ocean
bed.  The sails of the Turkish bark caught the radiance, as, impelled by
a gentle air, she glided through the sea of molten gold.

As the deep glow gradually faded from the horizon, leaving a clear view
of the ocean's margin, the man from the mast-head shouted in tones of
delight, "Abasa!  Abasa! land! land! the land of Circassia!"  The effect
was electrical.  All on board turned their gaze towards the east.  The
Hadji and the devout Mahometans ceased from their morning prayer; the
seamen mounted the rigging; and, as a light gauze-like veil of mist was
drawn up to the sky, the blue mountains of the lofty Caucasian range
appeared just rising above the waters in the far distance.

Ivan's heart beat with enthusiastic delight as he gazed on the land of
his birth, the land of all his most romantic aspirations.  The
accomplishment of his eager wishes--the fulfilment of his vow--would not
much longer be deferred.  His earnest gaze was fixed on the scene, as
mountain after mountain, and hill after hill, rose to view.

As the zebeque glided swiftly towards land, the more minute details of
the landscape could be distinguished; mountains of every fantastic form
were seen piled one on another, clothed with verdure from the bright
water's edge to the topmost peak, where they seemed lost in the pure
blue sky.  Trees of various foliage bent over precipitous and rugged
cliffs, bounding a smiling valley, through which meandered a sparkling
stream; by its banks grazed herds of cattle while numerous horses
galloped in unrestrained freedom over the velvet lawn.

The zebeque had made the shore rather too far to the south of their
destination, and as she coasted calmly along, Ivan gazed with enraptured
and untiring eye on the lovely scene.  Far as the eye could reach, up
the sides of the steep sloping hills, numerous flocks of white sheep
were seen quietly grazing, and from craig to craig, bounded nimbly with
long and slender limbs the jet black goats.

He looked on the unostentatious abodes of his countrymen, their little
cots built on the slopes of the gently swelling hills, amid fields of
ripening corn, their farm yards surrounded by groves of trees covered
with fruit, from among which the thin smoke from their domestic hearths
curled upward in wreathy pillars.  All around appeared the abodes of
contentment and peace--how sadly deceitful and treacherous.  In another
day all might be laid waste, and a howling desert usurp its place.

The lately dignified Hadji, excited to the most enthusiastic delight,
walked the deck with the activity of youth, pointing out to Ivan the
names of the different little inlets, bays, valleys, and mountains as
they coasted along.

They were saluted too, as they passed, by many a band of warriors,
hastening towards the scene of strife in the north, where their invaders
had landed.  Many a gallant chief, in his war array, his bright armour
glittering in the sun, galloped by, waving his shining sword to salute
them, attended by a band of followers, shouting defiance to their foes,
and singing hymns of victory.

No one seemed to enter into Ivan's feelings so well as young Conrin,
whose eyes brightened with delight unusual to him as he gazed ever and
anon at his master's countenance: and then turned them towards the
lovely scene, whose beauties he seemed to enjoy the more that they were
seen by one he loved.

The spot where the Reis had appointed to land was near the Bay of Pchad,
in sight of which they soon came.  Here a dense forest covered, with
thickest foliage, both the mountain side and the shore to the very
water's edge, affording a secure shelter to the inhabitants, should any
of their enemies attempt to land in order to destroy their vessels.  The
zebeque ran boldly on towards the smooth yellow sand, almost
overshadowed by the trees; and as she neared the shore, a man, whose
glittering armour and helmet, decked with an eagle's plume, betokened
him a chieftain, approached the water, mounted on a coal-black steed,
and urging the noble animal up to his girths into the sea, he waved his
sword, and courteously beckoned to the strangers to land.  Having
saluted them, he again slowly and with dignity retired from the shore.

As the vessel's keel almost touched the sand, her anchor was let go, her
sails being quickly furled by her eager crew, delighted at thus having
brought their hazardous adventure to a successful issue.  In a moment,
she was surrounded by boats from the shore, to lighten her of her cargo
ere she was drawn up on the beach beneath the shelter of the trees.

Into the first the Hadji, our hero, and his two followers stepped; and
as her bow touched the strand of Circassia, the natives flocked around,
eager to welcome the strangers to their shores.

Ivan's heart leaped with joy as his foot touched his native land; and he
would have knelt down in gratitude to heaven, and kissed the soil he had
so eagerly longed to tread, but that the presence of the surrounding
multitude prevented his giving way to his feelings.  For an instant,
then, that sensation of blankness, of loneliness, that unsatisfied
feeling, which sometimes comes over us, when we fancy that our desires
are accomplished, seized him, and oppressed his spirits, as accompanied
by his two retainers, he followed the Hadji towards the spot to which
the chieftain had retired.

No sooner did the latter see the Hadji approaching, than he leaped from
his steed, which his squire held while he hastened to meet him.  The two
aged men, for the noble warrior seemed far advanced in years, rushed
forward; their dignity thrown aside, and falling on each other's necks,
they embraced and almost wept for joy.

"My brother!" exclaimed the aged chief; "hast thou, indeed, again
returned to me from thy long and perilous pilgrimage among strange
people?  Do I again see the noble pride of our race in life and
strength?  Allah be praised for all his mercies!"

"Yes, my brother!" rejoined the Hadji, "yes, Allah is merciful.  I have
escaped all dangers, and my heart rejoices to see you still able to bear
arms against our foes; but say, my brother, how fares my son Alp, my
well-loved young son?  Does the boy live?  Does he still follow up the
early promise of his youth?"

"Your son, my brother, is well worthy of your name.  He still dwells
with his Attalick; but being well skilled in all martial exercises, he
is now able to follow you to the field, and has already gained some
honour against the enemy.  It will rejoice your heart to see him, and
you will seem to live your youth over again as you recognise yourself in
him."

"To Allah and his prophet be all praise," replied the Hadji, piously.
"Then am I content.  But say, my brother, does my wife still live to
rejoice in the growing promise of our son?"

"Yes, yes, she still lives."

"Allah be praised!" again ejaculated the Hadji.  "And say, does my
sister still live; does she also rejoice in the noble deeds of your
gallant sons?  Are they yet numbered among the stern bulwarks of our
country?  Do their steeds yet carry them like thunder-bolts against the
foe?"

The old warrior shook his head.

"Alas! my brother, the leaden death of the hated Urus [the name the
Circassians give to the Russians] have laid two in the graves of our
fathers, where they sleep the sleep of the brave; but the rest yet
remain to avenge their fate."

"God is great," answered the Hadji, "and by his prophet's help we will
yet take ample vengeance on their destroyers."

"Allah is merciful, and will give us blood for blood," replied the
other.  "But think not that they died ere they had made their foes pay
dearly for their death.  No, hundreds of the slavish Urus fell before
their conquering sabres; and in that thought, I cease to mourn, but yet
what are the lives of a thousand Urus to one true son of the Atteghei?"

"Bosh! as nothing.  As chaff to corn, as dross to pure gold; but we will
avenge them brother," said the Hadji, grasping his sword.  "My heart
will beat with joy, when I find myself once more among their ranks."

"That may soon be; for their ships, but a short time ago, landed a large
force on the coast to the north, who are yet shut up in their fort.  But
say, who are these strangers who accompany you?  What do they here?"

"In the first joyful moment of meeting you I thought not of them, but
will now attend to the duties of hospitality," And introducing Ivan, the
Hadji added, "I bring with me, one who is our countryman, my adopted
son, next to Alp in my love; regard him as such, for my sake."

"To me he will always be welcome," replied the chief, taking Ivan by the
hand.  "And I will believe that he is worthy to be a true son of the
Atteghei.  But come, we will waste no further time here.  He and his
attendants shall accompany us, while some of my followers shall stay to
bring up your goods from the vessel.  We will at once repair to the
dwelling of the noble Prince of Pchad, whither I was bound, when I saw
your vessel approaching the land.  He will welcome you with the arms of
friendship.  Away, my Deli Khans," he cried, addressing several young
men who surrounded him.  "Give notice to the noble Prince of our coming,
and say, moreover, that some strangers accompany us."

The Chieftain, and his brother, the Hadji led the way from the sea
shore, accompanied by Ivan, and followed by a numerous band of active
young mountaineers, each completely armed, with a gun slung on his back,
a sword by his side, and a dagger in his belt, to which several had
added pistols.  Their dress consisted of a coat, fitting close to the
body, of dark cloth trimmed with silver, without a collar, and open at
the neck, secured by loops in front, and having long hanging sleeves;
the skirts reached completely round to the knees, wide trowsers of a
darkish green colour, tightening at the calf, embroidered boots of
dressed leather, and belts round their waists of the same.  Their
bonnets were of sheepskin or dark cloth.  Altogether the costume was
elegant and picturesque.

The party proceeded for a short distance through a thick grove, on a
gentle slope, which soon terminated in rough cliffs rising abruptly from
the lower ground, under the shelter of wide-spreading beech trees of
vast height, and of venerable oaks, extending their leafy boughs, almost
to the water's edge.  They soon arrived at the entrance of a beautiful
valley, which extended in a winding course far inland.  After passing
some way through it, they were entirely shut in by rocky cliffs, or
steep, almost precipitous hills, yet clothed with the graceful linden,
the dark leaved mulberry, the magnificent chestnut, the dark and silvery
olive, and many other trees; and as they wound their way up the steep
sides of the hills, they passed beneath natural arbours of the high
creeping vine, and the graceful hop, which twined their slender tendrils
from tree to tree, and from peak to peak.

The distant scenery was still hidden by the leafy shelter, when a
successive discharge of fire arms was heard, and as they emerged from
the thickets into an open space on the summit of the hill, a party of
young cavaliers was seen galloping towards them at desperate speed,
flourishing their swords, and firing off their pistols, and uttering
shouts of congratulation and welcome; to which the old chief's party
answered when the others rushing forward, joined their ranks.

A beautiful village of low cottages scattered among the trees now
appeared.  Apart from the rest, and having greater pretentions to
architectural grandeur, stood a dwelling, surrounded with several other
buildings appertaining to it.  From the principal gate-way in the fence,
which enclosed it, was seen advancing towards the party, a personage,
whose appearance struck Ivan with admiration.  His long, flowing, and
blanched beard, the deep lines which furrowed his expressive
countenance, and his attenuated figure, bespoke him a man far advanced
in the vale of years, though his eye still glowed with some of the fire
of youth.  He walked erect and firm, clothed in complete armour, with
helmet on head, cuirass and cuisses of polished steel plates richly
embossed, as with a noble and dignified air, he advanced to meet his
guests, and to welcome them to his home.

He courteously pressed their hands.  "Welcome, my noble friend," he
said, addressing the chief, "and you, oh venerable Hadji, who by the
blessing of Allah, have returned from your travels, to bring wisdom and
knowledge to our country.  Welcome also to these strangers, who, under
thy protection, I will receive as my sons and friends.  My house, and
all whom Mahmood commands, are at your orders--"

"Most noble Prince," replied the Hadji, as spokesman of the party, "not
the least of my happiness in returning again to my loved country, is to
see you still alive, and ruling your people with wisdom and justice.
Gladly will we partake of your well-known hospitality."

Saying which, the Hadji led the way to the guest-house, to which the
Prince pointed, following himself in the rear of the party, who
entering, took their seats on broad cushions or ottomans, which
surrounded the room; their arms being hung up on the walls by attendants
in waiting.  The aged host would not take a seat, till the Hadji and his
brother had earnestly pressed him to do so.

"Rest here awhile," he said, "till my women can prepare food to refresh
you after your voyage.  Do not imagine, that though daily threatened by
a descent of our deadly enemy, I cannot, as in other days, prepare a
banquet for a thousand or more of our gallant warriors, if they should
honour me by a visit."

The conversation now became general.  The Hadji had many inquiries to
make, and much to relate; and as the time wore on, several nobles of
lesser rank, and importance in the neighbourhood, and subject to the
Prince of Pchad, entered, and took their seats on the Divan.  Ivan was
silent, listening with interest to the conversation, while his two
attendants stood respectfully among the others at the further end of the
room.

The subject of discourse then turned entirely on the state of the
country; the Uzden Achmet Beg, the Hadji's brother, giving him an
account of the different military operations which had occurred since
the commencement of the campaign.

"Bismillah!" exclaimed the old chief.  "We have well beaten the cursed
Urus, whenever we could catch them beyond the shelter of their
fortresses, where we coop them up like so many sheep in their pens.
They talk of occupying our country; why, they have in all but three or
four forts in it, which they can only hold by means of their fleet; and
which we could capture any day we liked.  Except Anapa, which we care no
more for, than a dog chained to his kennel, who barks without reaching
us to bite, they have only Ghelendjik, and another small fort near the
sea, and Aboon at the head of the Kouban, where we close them in, and
have nearly starved them to death.  But as they can do no harm there, we
do not choose to risk losing many valuable lives to take it.  They once
attempted to establish one of their colonies and forts at Soudjouk
Kalie; but that time we were prepared for them.  We rushed down upon
them like a troop of wolves into a sheep fold, ere they could throw up
their fortifications, and carried away one half of their people to till
our own fields; while the rest we drove into the sea, where their ships
picked them up.  They found it was no use attempting to sow corn where
they would never be allowed to reap, so they sailed away; and with the
blessings of Allah, we will soon make them do the like from all parts of
the country."

"Allah be praised, we will soon accomplish that work," exclaimed the
Hadji.  "My heart yearns to be among them again, with my true sword in
my hand, in the loving way I used to treat them.  Bismillah! we must
make a foray among them, just to take the rust off our weapons.  What
say you, my son?" turning to Ivan, "will you try the strength of your
arm on the hard heads of the Urus, and strike your first blow for the
liberty of your country?"

"Gladly will I accompany you, my noble friend," said Ivan.  "I should
not wish to serve under a better leader, for you well know how ardently
I long to prove myself worthy of the race from which I have sprung."

"Then, by the favour of Allah," replied the Hadji, "before long, I will
lead the way among their ranks, and we will then see what stuff they are
made of, by cutting them to pieces.  They are slaves and curs.  Their
mothers and fathers are dogs."

The conversation was interrupted by the entrance of several male and
female slaves bearing a repast.  The dishes were placed on small wooden
tables, about a foot high, before each person, as they sat round the
room on the ottoman.  The host himself handed to every guest a cup of
light mead, a ceremony preliminary to the repast.  He would not be
seated until he had performed this courtesy; nor would he join the meal,
notwithstanding his advanced age, till repeatedly urged by the party to
do so.  The servants stood round to attend to the wants of each guest:

The repast consisted of mutton, dressed in a variety of ways; fat
poultry, pastry, preserves, and fruit, commencing with a bowl of rich
and savoury soup, with spoons placed for every person to help
themselves; after which, each man drew a small knife from his girdle, to
commence the attack.

Before the attendants had cleared away the tables, the aged Prince
arose, and filling his cup with mead, drank to the health of all present
in turns.

"By what name shall I address my young stranger guest?" he asked,
turning to Ivan.  "Though he speaks with the tongue of our people, and
his eagle glance, and lofty stature, betoken him to be a noble, yet know
I not his name.  Say, under what appellation shall he dwell in the
memory of Mahmood Indar?"

"Noble Prince," replied Ivan, rising from his seat, "you speak truly,
though I am, I trust, of the pure race of the Atteghei.  Name have I
none.  I love not the one I have borne for many years, therefore, I give
it not, and the noble name I long to bear, I give not, until I have done
some deeds, to shew myself worthy of the race from which I deem myself
sprung; that my kindred should not say, when I claim their love, that I
am no true scion of their stock.  This I have sworn by the bright heaven
above us.  My noble friend, the Hadji Guz Beg, has offered to shew the
way among the ranks of our foes, and I have sworn to follow him, even to
the cannon's mouth."

All applauded this speech, the Hadji springing forward to embrace him.
"I see, my second son, that you will prove a true Circassian," he cried,
"and by the blessing of Allah, by to-morrow's dawn, we will proceed in
search of our foes: to-night, we will rest under the roof of our noble
host."

"Happy am I to receive so gallant a warrior as you have proved yourself,
oh!  Hadji; and honoured am I in such guests as you and your friends,"
answered the Prince.

The repast being concluded, the party strolled out among rich and
fertile meadows, sloping from the house down to a pure and glassy
rivulet.  An orchard of various fruit trees surrounded the dwelling,
while, before it, grew some magnificent chestnut trees, under whose
grateful shade the old noble loved to sit, surrounded by his youthful
descendants, enjoying their gambols on the grass.

In the neighbourhood of the house were the farm yards and granaries,
stored with all kinds of corn, the produce of the surrounding
highly-cultivated fields.  On the mountain's brow grazed his numerous
flocks, and in the rich meadows below his herds of fat cattle.

Our hero had parted from his companions, when the page sought his side;
and as Ivan's eye fell on the boy, he exclaimed--

"Conrin, do you find yourself sad and solitary among so many strange
people?"

"Ah, no!" answered the page, "I cannot be sad or solitary when in your
presence."

"Do you then come to congratulate me on having, at length, arrived in
the land of my hopes?" asked Ivan.

"Yes, Sir, yes; whatever gives you pleasure makes my heart beat with
joy; and may your utmost hopes be now fulfilled!"

"Thanks, page; but still my heart is full of fears.  I know not, nor
dare I ask, if yet my father lives.  Why do you sigh, boy?  Does the
name of father cause you thus to sigh?"

"Alas, Sir, I never knew one: the name sounds like mockery on my ear.
The kind and noble friend, whom I thought my father, I found was not so;
and yet I feared to ask who was."

"'Tis strange," said Ivan.  "And your mother, boy?"

"Alas, Sir!" said the page, "the kind and gentle care of her, who was my
mother, I never knew."

The boy's eyes filled with tears.

"I would I had not asked you, boy, about your parents, to make you weep
thus: but dry your tears; I will supply the place of both your parents,
as much as in my power lies; and you shall share my fortunes, which, I
trust, will lead to happiness."

In a moment the boy's eyes brightened, as he gazed up into Ivan's face,
with an inquiring and searching glance, yet radiating with smiles of
joy.

"'Tis that alone I ask to do," he replied.  "To follow your fortunes
through good or evil, in happiness or misery.  Still speak to me in
words like those you just now uttered, and they will repay me all the
hardships I may endure."

"I could not speak harsh words to one so unprotected as you are.  Now
tell me, what think you of my countrymen?  Are they like the wild
barbarians the Russians would have taught the world to think them?  But,
thank heaven! they yet may learn how true courage can oppose its arms to
tyranny, though backed by hosts of slaves."

"I did not think to find them as they are," replied the boy; "more
courteous far, and hospitable, than the people of the land whence we
came.  True valour sits in the eye, even of the lowest of the
multitude."

"You praise them well, good page, but justly," replied Ivan.  "But see,
the party move towards the house.  We must go in.  Keep by my side, as
you see the pages of the nobles do."

Volume 2, Chapter VI.

As the sun of the first day, which Ivan had passed in his native land,
sunk down beneath the waters of the ocean, shining bright and blue
between an opening in the hills, the guests re-assembled in the
hospitable mansion of the Prince Mahmood, where another repast was
served, much in the style of the former; and as the party were seated at
it, a new comer entered the guest-house.  He was dressed in the high fur
cap of Armenia, with a long-flowing, dark robe, bound by a belt round
his waist, at which he carried an ink-horn, pen, and book.

A slave followed him, staggering under the weight of large packages,
which he had unloaded from two horses at the door.

He took his seat respectfully, at some distance from the chiefs, and
humbly ate the viands which the Prince ordered to be placed before him.

"Whence come you?" demanded the host of the stranger, who seemed to be a
pedlar or travelling merchant.  "What goods do you bring for sale?
Allah knows we have little need of any, except powder and lead in these
times."

"I come from the City of the Sultan," replied the Armenian, "from the
rich Stamboul; and I bring jewels and silks for your lovely wives and
daughters, and gemmed daggers and swords for you, noble chiefs.  But I
am a man of peace, and thought not of the powder and lead."

"You will find but a bad market for such wares here," answered the
Prince; "but in my house you are welcome.  What news bring you from
Stamboul?  Do you hear what measures the great Padishah is taking in our
cause?  Or, forgetting the children of his holy creed, does he tamely
submit to the audacious tyranny of the proud Moscov?"

"Alas! my father," replied the merchant, "though all men desire to aid
your cause, and many would eagerly hasten to your assistance, yet the
power of Russia is great, and no movement can be made without coming to
the ears of her minister in the capital of the Sultan, where a whole
host of spies are ever on the watch to carry information to him.  The
Sultan--may Allah prosper him!--would of his own free will do much for
you; but where is now his power, since the standard of the Osmanlis has
sunk before the eagles of the Moscov?  Alas! fallen is the greatness of
the Turks, my father.  Their old allies, the Inglis, have forsaken them,
and joined the armies of their foes.  What help have you, but to yield
to the mighty power opposed to you?"

"What help have we!" vehemently exclaimed the Hadji.  "You are a man of
peace, and the guest of our host, or you should eat those words of dirt
you speak.  What help!  We have the help of Allah in our rightful cause,
and our own good swords to defend our homes; and with the will of
heaven, we will show those cursed Urus that we know how to use our arms.
Let them venture from their strongholds, and we will teach them a
lesson they will not easily forget.  Go to their camps, merchant.  Tell
them to come on; we fear them not.  But, man, you speak false.  Bosh! it
is nonsense.  I, too, have come from Stamboul; and the Inglis are again
the friends of the Sultan; and I know well they would aid our cause if
the Urus did not cram their ears with lies.  There are many noble
spirits among them, ready to fly to our assistance.  Go to, man, you
speak of things long passed.  You know not what you say."

The Armenian pedlar looked confused for a moment, but his assurance soon
returned.

"If the noble Hadji has just arrived from Stamboul, I have no more to
say.  I have journeyed far by land since I left that city, so he,
perchance, brings fresher news than I do."

"The Hadji is right," said the Prince.  "For I too know that the Inglis
are our friends, and if they would but send us powder and lead, we would
be grateful, and be their friends for ever."

"The Inglis, say you, Prince?" answered the Armenian; "you are deceived
in the Inglis.  They are a nation of merchants like me, and aid not a
cause where they cannot make gain; some few are gallant warriors, and
would shed their blood perhaps in your cause; but of what assistance
would a few more swords be among a nation of warriors?  No, Prince, I
say, expect no help from them.  Seek not to war against so powerful a
nation as the Moscovite.  I say not, be friends, but it is madness
contending with them."

"Mashallah!" exclaimed the Hadji, furiously regarding the stranger, "I
warned you, trader, not to speak of peace with our foes, and you have
again done so.  Beware how you utter those words again.  The Inglis are
a brave nation, and I know that they are good warriors, for I have met
many of them; and all who come to this country shall be welcome.  But
what want we more than our own arms to defend our own mountains?  Speak
not again of peace.  Bosh! such words I spit upon;--they are vile."

"I see, noble Hadji, your slave is wrong," cringingly returned the
pedlar.  "I thought of some other Franks; mine too is not a nation of
warriors like your's, to hold out so long against an invader, and to
endure, for so many years, all the miseries of war.  I spoke but my own
feelings, therefore let not your anger be kindled against a poor
merchant, who would do nothing to offend you."

The Hadji's anger was as quickly appeased as it was easily excited, and
he regarded the Armenian more with feelings of the deepest contempt than
with any hostile thoughts.  The pedlar himself appeared to have
discovered that the most discreet conduct he could follow, was to keep
silence among the present company.

Appealing to the Prince, he craved leave to exhibit his goods to the
ladies of the family.

"I have but little to give for aught you may possess, merchant; yet as
the women love to look on fine silks and jewels, you may send in your
packages to the anderoon, and see if they will select any.  Go now, it
is late, they will soon retire to rest."

As the Armenian left the apartment, the Hadji glanced at him with a look
of disgust.  "For what should that slave talk to us of treating with the
Urus?" he cried; "one might think from his words that he was a friend of
theirs; but he is a craven-hearted slave, and not worth further
thought."

The principal part of the company now adjourned to the verandah in front
of the house, where they passed an hour in smoking the much prized
tchibouks.

Before they retired to rest, the pedlar returned, having disposed of
some of his silks to the ladies of the family.

"Your slave," he said, humbly addressing the Hadji, "hears that you and
some other noble chiefs are travelling towards the north to-morrow, and
it would be a high honour as well as a great kindness, if you would
allow him to accompany you."

"Do you fear, merchant, that your friends the Moscov would ease you of
your goods, if you happen to go near their forts?"  The pedlar started.
"But what care I? you may go with us if your pack horses can keep pace
with our steeds; but remember that we delay not for a few bales of
silk."

"Thanks, noble chiefs," replied the pedlar, bowing before them; "much
shall I prize your protection.  But do not say that the Russians are my
friends; I know them not, I hate them, I detest them, I spit upon them."

"You do well, man," replied the Hadji.  "But remember another time, that
if you talk of peace between the sons of the Atteghei and the Moscov,
while they remain on our coasts, you may chance to take a leap from a
higher rock than you would like."

"Your servant hears, and will follow your advice," replied the Armenian;
then turning to the Prince, he presented to him a richly jewelled
dagger.  "Perchance, as the noble Prince Mahmood will not purchase, he
will accept as a gift this dagger from his servant, to prove his love
for the Atteghei, and his hatred for the Moscov.  He will honour his
slave much by receiving it from his hands."

The Prince looked musingly at the dagger, which seemed of great value.

"Take back your gift, merchant," he said; "what Mahmood requires he can
purchase, and beware how you make such gifts.  They are too much like
the bribes the Urus offer to tempt traitorous hearts to join them.
Mahmood thanks you, but cannot accept your gift."

"Your slave would be more gratified if the Prince would take the
trifling gift.  He can repay it when he pleases."

"I thank you, merchant, but I have said I will not accept your gift,"
replied the Prince.  "Therefore take it back, and go in peace."

The Armenian, as desired, took the dagger, concealing it beneath the
folds of his dress, while the Prince whispered a few words into Achmet
Beg's ear.

The night being already far advanced, the party prepared for rest.
Slaves entered the guest-house, bringing cushions and coverlids of rich
silk, and spreading them on the floor, to form beds for the guests, on
which the voyagers gladly threw themselves to rest.

Seeing that every thing was arranged, their Princely host retired to a
part of the dwelling appropriated to himself.

The walls of the room were adorned by tablets with passages of the Koran
written on them, while the arms of the guests, with several suits of
rich armour, hung suspended around.  The internal ornaments afforded a
strong contrast to the primitive simplicity of the mansion, and to the
simple habits and customs of its inhabitants.  The manners of the
chiefs, however, were courteous and knightly, resembling all we hear of
the chivalry of the middle ages, or perhaps still more like the heroes
of ancient Greece.

The lower orders and serfs, also, are certainly less barbarous, and
perhaps more intelligent than the Scottish highlanders of the same class
a century ago, if it is necessary indeed to go back so far.

The next morning, the Uzden Achmet Beg assembled his followers, who had
been dispersed about the neighbouring hamlet for the night; and when it
was rumoured that the celebrated Hadji Guz Beg had returned from his
distant pilgrimage, and was about to take the field, with his hatred of
the Urus unabated, numbers of young men volunteered to join his
standard, leaving the old men and women to attend to their fields.
Achmet Beg indeed, though the head of his tribe, and a much respected
noble, had not gained that renown which his younger brother had acquired
by a long series of hazardous and daring exploits.  The latter,
therefore, was always preferred as a leader by the young and bold
spirits of their tribe, nor did the elder, who was of an unambitious,
quiet character, feel the slightest jealousy at his brother's superior
military abilities.

Ivan was overjoyed when he found with whom he had formed a friendship,
little thinking while aboard ship, where he had scarcely spoken on the
subject of war, that the sedate Hadji was the renowned warrior he on all
sides was acknowledged to be; and though he seemed somewhat to boast
among his friends of past deeds, and of others to be accomplished, it
was easy to see that it was not the vaunting of a pretender, by the
attention paid to his words.

A gallant array of cavaliers now assembled before the house of Prince
Mahmood; the chiefs in glittering suits of armour, some of highly
polished plates of steel, and others of finely worked chain, their
cloaks of varied colours, and swords girded to their sides, with richly
embossed handles.  The daggers in their belts were decorated in the same
manner.  Many carried pistols, and the greater number had also a long
rifle slung at their backs, thus mingling the weapons of ancient and
modern days.

Their retainers were armed, some with long guns, and others with long
bows, and quivers full of arrows, wearing in their belts short
double-edged swords, or rather daggers, and straight sabres by their
sides.

As Ivan issued from the house, he found a high-mettled steed waiting at
the door, held by Achmet Beg's squire.  The Hadji advanced as he
appeared, and leading the horse forward, presented it to him, saying:

"Let me be the first, my son, to provide you with a charger of the true
Atteghei breed, who well knows his way among the ranks of the Moscov;
and in case you do not like the gift, you can repay me when we have made
a foray into their country, and have carried off a rich booty.  Till
then, accept him from a father who loves you.  There are two others,
which count as nothing, for the use of your squire and page, though
perhaps not to be matched among the Cossacks of the plain."

Ivan, gratefully thanking him for his well-timed present, vaulted with
alacrity into the light saddle, Javis holding his stirrup, and then
following his example.  Young Conrin also shewed himself no mean
horseman, leaping lightly on his small, but well proportioned and active
steed.

The whole party were prepared to set forth, when the aged prince himself
appeared, tendering to each guest of noble rank a parting stirrup cup of
mead; for such is the knightly custom, still adhered to in that
primitive country.

"May the blessings of Allah attend you, my sons!" said the aged
chieftain; "may your arms be victorious over our enemies, and may death
fly from your ranks.  Would that I too had strength to lead my followers
to the field; but while my gallant sons yet exist to take my place, I
must remain to guard our lands from the foe.  Should it be the will of
Allah that they fall, then I too must gird on my sword, and yield my
last breath amid the din of battle.  Now Heaven protect you, my sons!"

The venerable Prince, grasping the hand of each chief as in turn they
rode by, the cavalcade set forward.  As they issued from the court-yard
of their konag, the cry of "Ogmaff! ogmaff! farewell! farewell!"
resounded on all sides from the assembled retainers and slaves of the
chief; and loud shouts of "Vo-ri-va-ka," rent the air, as a parting
salute to the warriors who were sallying forth to defend their country.

They set forward at a brisk pace, Ivan keeping by the side of the Hadji,
who pointed out to him each scene of note as they advanced, explaining
to him the Circassian style of fighting, and other subjects of interest
and importance.

In the rear of their ranks, came the Armenian merchant and his pack
horses, light active animals, formed of bone and sinew alone, who
continued to keep up with the high-mettled steeds of the warriors,
though the ground was rough and hilly.  Their route lay across a
country, wild as if no other foot had trodden it save the beasts of the
forest; now over the edge of dizzy precipices, then descending into
savage glens and through dark and frightful defiles, amid gigantic
rocks, bared, broken, and distorted into a thousand strange forms.

Then again they had to scale some lofty elevation, amid splendid
forest trees, where a platform of rich ground would be found,
highly-cultivated, and far removed from the reach of their enemies.
Occasionally they saw, amid the almost inaccessible recesses of the
mountains, some Alpine cot, whose skin-clad inhabitant was tending his
flocks of goats.

As they rode along, game of various sorts, such as wild turkeys,
pheasants, hares, and deer, would start up in their path, to which some
of the party gave chase, and either ran down or shot with their
true-aimed arrows.  As they were passing through a rocky defile, an
immense wild boar started up in their path.

"A fortunate omen for our next expedition," shouted the Hadji.  "Now, my
Deli Khans, let us give chase to the huge monster as we would to the
savage Urus."

Uttering these words, and with the spirit and agility of youth, spurring
on his horse, followed by Ivan and the younger men of the party, he rode
at the beast, who, gnashing his long tusks in defiance as he turned his
head towards them, first endeavoured to escape among the rocks, when he
saw the number of his foes.  The Hadji was, however, too quick for him;
and the boar, seeing escape from his active pursuers was hopeless, stood
at bay.  Grinning at them with his sharp teeth, and foaming with fury,
he prepared to rush at the headmost of his opponents; but, nothing
daunted, the aged, but active huntsman rode directly at him, and leaning
from his saddle, plunged a short sword deep into the thick neck of the
animal, who made a last desperate attempt to rip up the horse of his
opponent; but the Hadji, making his steed spring on one side, the fierce
beast rolled over, and expired without a struggle.

Shouts of applause, from those of his friends who had come up to the
scene of action, followed this dexterous feat of the old warrior.

"Bosh! it is nothing," he exclaimed.  "I did it but to ascertain if my
eye had lost its quickness, or my arm its nerve; but, praises be to
Allah, neither of them is the worse for my long rest."

The carcase of the boar was left to feed the beasts of the mountain,
less scrupulous than the followers of Mahomet; though in truth, few of
the Circassian mountaineers are very strict observers of the tenets of
his religion, nor would object, if hard pressed, to a slice of the
unclean animal.

"We will soon find more noble game than this," said the Hadji, turning
to Ivan, who had arrived as the boar received his death stroke; "and you
will become both a good huntsman and a good warrior.  But Inshallah! the
first is only fit sport for boys or young men, when there are no enemies
to be met with; and I did it but to stretch my sinews a little after my
voyage."

The whole party now proceeded through a deep and romantic glen, where
scarcely a breath stirred the light festoons of creeping plants which
hung from the rocks above.  All seemed solemn and sad; when Achmet Beg's
followers struck into a low chaunting song, describing the actions of
some chief who had fallen lately, fighting against the Russians.  The
whole party joined in a rich and full chorus; the sounds of Ay-a-ri-ra
swelling and dying away among the ravines and far distant glades of the
mountain forest.

Ascending a lofty eminence, crowned by trees, they emerged from their
shelter, when a view was obtained of the sea below them, and of the fort
of Ghelendjik, far to the north, built on one side of a deep bay.
Stretching far beyond it was a long line of white cliffs.  As the party
of warriors gazed on it, expressions of execration burst from their
lips, and the Hadji looked anxiously down a steep pathway leading to the
shore, by which he might have gained the outside of the fort; but
feeling the uselessness of the wish, he merely contented himself with
muttering--

"The piggish cowards!  Let us but meet them beyond their walls and
without their cannon, and we will soon teach them better manners than to
pay us a visit without an invitation."

It struck the chiefs as singular, that they had met none of the
sentinels, who watch every height along the coast in the neighbourhood
of an enemy.

"The men of Hyderbey were not wont to be sluggards at their posts!"
exclaimed the Hadji to his brother.  "How is it that they do not watch
these heights?"

"Perhaps they have gone nearer to our foes," replied the chief, "to
shoot any who may show their faces above the walls of their fort."

The scene below them seemed calm and quiet.  A few white sails of
Russian vessels, alone dotted the smooth bosom of the Euxine.  In the
fort all was so quiet, that it looked like a deserted mound of earth.
The roofs of the buildings scarcely peered above the walls; and the
proud standard of Russia was hardly distinguishable, as it hung
listlessly round its staff.

Not a breath stirred the air, and deep silence reigned on the calm
scene, when, in a moment, it was broken by the loud crash of artillery,
followed by the continued reports of musketry, far above which rose the
loud war shriek of the Atteghei.

"Allah be praised, here is work for us, my friends, without delay!"
exclaimed the gallant Hadji, in a joyous tone, "Bismillah! we will be
upon them when they little expect us, and aid our friends, whoever they
are.  Follow me, brave warriors."

So saying, he spurred on his charger, with his brother and Ivan by his
side, followed by the rest of the band, and galloped, by an almost
precipitous path, down the wooded sides of the hill.  They passed many a
rocky ravine, and dry bed of winter torrents, tearing their way with
eager haste through the boughs and thick underwood.  Nothing could stop
their course.

Volume 2, Chapter VII.

We have, in a previous chapter, attempted to describe the romantic and
pastoral beauty of the coast of Circassia, as viewed from the sea.  We
must now transport our readers to a scene of even loftier grandeur, and
more surpassing loveliness.

On the southern side of a high mountain, thickly clothed with the varied
foliage of magnificent trees, some two or three hundred feet from the
base, was a broad and extended plateau or terrace, terminating on one
side by a steep precipice, while on the other the mountain rose in
majestic grandeur, from the side of which, amid the trees, projected
rocky crags of fantastic shapes, partly covered with the slender
tendrils of creeping plants.  Down the mountain's slope sparkled a
bright cascade, leaping from rock to rock, here hidden from sight by
some overhanging trees or jutting cliff, and there appearing more clear
and joyous than before, till it fell in a spray-wreathed column into a
bason, from which it meandered through the small plain of the plateau,
fertilising in its course several highly-cultivated fields, till it
again fell in a shower of foam over the sides of the precipice, into a
beautifully green and broad valley below; there joining the pure waters
of a rapid rivulet, which brawled over its rocky bed in its course
towards the sea, through the winding gorge of the valley.

Towards the east, as far as the eye could reach, appeared hills and
mountains of every form; some swelling in gentle undulations, and
covered with fields of corn or green pastures, where grazed numerous
flocks and herds; some clothed to their lofty summits with magnificent
forests, and others again rising in steep, rugged, and barren
abruptness.  Above all were seen blue ridges of mountains, rising one
beyond the other; first clear and defined, and then growing more
indistinct and faint, till lost in the azure tint of the sky.  In the
same direction, the terrace extended for some way, gradually narrowing
till it merged in the steep sides of the mountain.  Some well cultivated
high ground of no great elevation, rose on the opposite side of the
valley, which, in the direction of the sea, narrowed into a deep ravine,
taking an abrupt turn, with precipitous and insurmountable sides.  The
sea face of the mountains which formed it, could be trodden by none but
the light-footed goat, or the almost equally active and daring
mountain-hunters.

It was, in truth, a situation well calculated to secure a retreat, and
to form a fortification against any hostile invader, if protected by a
few brave and resolute men; and on that account, it had been selected as
a location by the gallant chief of a once numerous tribe, who had been
driven by the Russians from his former hereditary possessions.

His residence stood just within sound of the refreshing cascade, whose
pure waters flowed before his door.  The house was surrounded by farm
yards, well-stocked with every species of domestic animal, and every
kind of poultry.  Well-planted orchards formed part of the homestead;
and the trees in them were now loaded with fruit.

The dwelling consisted of several separate buildings, of the usual style
of Circassian architecture; but one was arranged with more care and
attention than the others.  This was the anderoon, or house appropriated
to the women; it was separated from the others by a paling, which,
however, was not sufficiently high to obscure the prospect.  The front
looked down the lovely valley, over many a rocky hill and cliff, beyond
which, in the distance, was the bright blue sea.  Before it extended a
verandah, round whose trellised supports many creeping plants had been
trained; their slender tendrils bearing sweet-smelling flowers, which
hung in graceful festoons from the top.

But it was in the interior that the brightest gem of the casket was to
be found.  On a cushion of rich silk, was seated, gazing through the
open door, a young girl, lovely as one of Eve's fairest daughters.  Her
eyes, of the deepest blue and of dazzling lustre, shaded with long dark
silky eyelashes, were gazing upon the picturesque view before her; her
delicate carnation lips were slightly parted, disclosing her pearly
teeth.  Her features were perfectly regular; and the fair complexion of
her gently rounded cheeks was almost imperceptibly tinged with a roseate
hue.  Her raven hair fastened by a silken band over her forehead, fell
in a long plait behind, and from her head a veil of white gauze scarcely
shrouded her graceful and slender figure.  The robe she wore was of blue
silk, trimmed with silver; her full white muslin trousers were confined
with a richly worked girdle, which encircled her waist; and small
slippers of coloured leather, beautifully worked in arabesque patterns
with silver, completed her attire.

By her side lay an embroidered belt, at which she apparently had been
working, as the golden thread still hung, unconsciously, in her slender
fingers.

At a short distance from this lovely creature, sat a little girl, busily
occupied in spinning; whose small, quick, piercing eyes, and dark
irregular features, shewed her to be not of Circassian race; a slave
taken, probably in some predatory excursion, from the Calmuck Tartars.
As she pursued her occupation, she turned at times her quick glance
towards her young mistress, as if with an endeavour to catch her eye,
but without avail; and she seemed fearful of arousing her from her
meditations, whatever might be their nature.

A tame kid of snowy whiteness was gambolling before the door; till,
grown bold by impunity, it bounded into the room.  But even the pretty
animal's playful antics did not rouse her; and the little maiden
diligently plied her work, despairing of recalling the thoughts of her
lady, to the affairs of the present moment.

At length the sound of a distant footstep approaching the dwelling,
caught her ear, she started from the reverie.  "Run, Buda, run!" she
cried, in tones of silvery sweetness, "haste, maiden! and see who
approaches; but whoever they may be, stop them from coming here.  Say I
can see no one to-day; I am ill at ease; I should weep to see strangers.
Shew them to the guest room, but not here.  Say I would see friends
another day, but I cannot now.  Go, child."

The little girl was flying to obey these mandates, when the young beauty
stooped for a moment, in the attitude of listening.  "Stay, Buda, stay;
it is useless.  My fears have made me fanciful.  Those are my father's
footsteps.  Haste, Buda, to usher him to my apartment."

While she spoke, the subject of her meditations appeared at the entrance
of the apartment, ushered in, according to etiquette, by the youthful
slave.  As he entered, he bowed low, his lofty plumed helmet touching
the door-sill, and as his graceful daughter rose from her silken
cushions to receive and welcome him, he folded her in a tender embrace.

He was a warrior of commanding and majestic stature, clothed in complete
armour.  His coat of mail richly inlaid with gold, shone brightly with
steel of the highest polish.  His curling dark moustache and beard were
yet untinged by any of the hues which betoken the approach of age,
though his stern and fine features were marked with many furrows,
indicating deep thought and numerous cares.  He raised from his head his
glittering helm, which his daughter respectfully took and placed by her
side, as he seated himself on the ottoman and beckoned her to sit near
him.

"It is long, my father," said the fair girl, "since I have rejoiced in
the light of your presence; and oh, what pleasure do you bring to me
when you come!  I was before sad and thoughtful, and now I feel light
and happy.  Say, what has kept you so long away?"

"My own sweet Ina," answered the chieftain, "in these times of war and
of constant peril, I have many things to attend to; and it does not
become a warrior to spare many moments from his duties, even though he
spend them in soft intercourse with one so loved as you, my child.  I
have even but now returned from mustering the small remnant of the
faithful followers whom his foes have left to Arslan Gherrei; to see
that they are well supplied with arms, horses and food, for a campaign.
But why, Ina, were you just now, so sad and thoughtful?"

"Oh do not ask me, my father! now that I am again happy," replied the
daughter.  "I did but for a moment feel somewhat ill, and feared that
guests were coming whom I did not wish to receive.  I am well again, my
father, now that you are with me."

"I have matter of importance to communicate to you," said the chief,
"you know Ina, that I so love you, that for all the riches of the mighty
Padishah of the Osmanlis, I would not part from you; but yet, sweet one,
the stern necessity of war compels me to leave you, and I must haste to
join the hosts of my countrymen to repel our invaders.  I may perchance
fall, and leave you unprotected."

"Do not say so, my father," cried the lovely Ina.  "Surely heaven will
protect us, as it has done before.  But why this sudden haste?  Stay but
some short time longer with me, and among your fields and retainers.
Nothing can have happened to call you so quickly away."

"It may not be, dear daughter.  Now listen to my words.  I have already
told you that the valiant Khan, the noble Khoros Kaloret, has seen you--
that he loves you.  He is rich and brave; hundreds of retainers obey his
commands and follow him to battle.  He has numerous slaves who till his
fields; rich pastures on which large herds of cattle graze; innumerable
flocks wander over his mountains, while none can boast of finer horses
or richer armour.  What more can I say of him?  He has sent his brother,
who has just arrived, as an envoy to demand you in marriage, and I have
spoken much to him.  He says that he loves you, truly and deeply--that
he would sacrifice half his possessions to gain you.  Nay, tremble not,
loved one.  You know that horses, cattle, or the richest armour, are but
as nought compared to you--that I would give all I have for your sake;
but yet in this time of war, when any moment may lay me low, I would
find some gallant protector who would shield you from danger; that when
I am in the land of the blessed spirits, I may look down and see my
child happy.  Many there are who would be to me as a son, and would
gladly accept your hand and succeed to my possessions; but none appear
to win my Ina's heart.  Say, will my child become the bride of the
Khan?"

"Oh my father, indeed, indeed, I feel your kind and generous conduct,"
exclaimed Ina, with feeling and animation.  "Where other fathers do not
consult their daughters' wishes, you willingly yield to mine.  I too
have seen the Khan, but I would not be his bride; I cannot dream of love
for one like him.  For your sake, my father, I would wed whom you
wished; but still he should be one whom you too could love, who would
obey, and follow you as a son.  Ah! that Allah had made me one, that I
might follow you to the battle, and share your dangers and your
victories.  If I were to wed this Khan, I should see you no more; I
should be carried far away to his mountain home, distant from the sounds
of war and strife, when you would be left alone without a child to
attend you, when sick or wounded; or should you return victorious, none
would be in your home to offer you a joyous welcome.  Oh, my father! let
me still remain your daughter; let me remain to tend your household and
your flocks, if you will not let me go with you.  But oh! how much
rather than become the wife of the richest noble, would I follow you to
the field, to cheer you in the camp, to dress your food, to be your page
and attendant.  This I can do."

"Alas! my daughter, I cannot leave you here, for I must take all the
followers that I can muster to the field.  I have now so few, that I
cannot leave enough to guard our home; and should our invaders gain the
entrance of this pass, my house and fields must fall a prey to them.
Then, my Ina, would you not be more safe and happy as the wife of a
powerful chief, with thousands of warriors to fight under his banner,
than to be following me amid the toils of a campaign?"

"No, oh no," replied the daughter.  "I do not, I cannot love the Khan;
he is brave, but fierce, noble, and cruel; his followers obey him more
through fear than love.  His very features bespeak his character; he is
no true son of the Atteghei, and I would wed none but a scion of the
true stock.  Oh, tell the Khan's brother, that you cannot part from me;
that I am your only child, your successor; that I am not worthy of the
Khan's thoughts; that Circassia has many maidens far more prized than I.
Oh! say that you will do so, and restore happiness to your daughter's
heart.  It was the thought of this that made me sad and ill."

The Chieftain gazed at his daughter with a glance of deep affection;
yet, for a moment, the customs of his country seemed contending with his
love.  Nature, however, triumphed over habit.

"I will do as you will, my Ina," he cried, clasping her in his arms.  "I
will send word to the proud Khan that even he cannot melt the icy heart
of my child.  Nay, do not weep, my daughter; you shall not leave me
against your will for a stranger's care."

"Thanks, thanks, my father," exclaimed Ina, affectionately returning his
embrace.  "You have restored peace and joy to my heart, and gladly will
I prepare to accompany you to the camp."

"That cannot be," replied the chief.  "Your delicate frame is but ill
prepared to share the hardships of a warrior's life; but your safety
shall be better cared for, and I will bestow you with the family of my
kinsman, the noble chief Aitek Tcherei.  His lands are far removed from
danger, among the rocky fastnesses of the mountains; and yet, so near
the camp, that a quick-footed messenger, may reach it on the second day.
Thither will I conduct you, Ina, ere I seek the field; and there, with
a companion of your own age, you will be safe and happy.  To-morrow
after the sun has risen, prepare to accompany me, with your women and
slaves; I must now away to the guest-house, to give your message to the
young Khan Besin Kaloret, who is eagerly expecting an answer; and were
it not for his oath of peace, methinks the proud Tartar Khan would ill
brook a refusal.  And now, Ina, farewell, till to-morrow's morn, when I
will meet you with my retainers to guard you on your way."

The Chieftain arose, again bestowing an affectionate embrace on his
child, as she presented him with his casque.  He replaced it on his
head, and quitted the chamber, attended by his daughter to the door.
She followed him with her eyes, till he reached the entrance of the
guest-house; when returning to her couch, she placed her hands before
her face, and gave way to her overcharged feelings, in a flood of tears.

The little slave Buda gazed with astonishment, to see her mistress so
overcome with distress; she approached her with concern.

"Oh, my dear mistress! why do you weep?" she cried.

Ina looked up at the little girl, with an affectionate and grateful eye.
"I weep not through pain, Buda, but that I am a weak, foolish girl,
unworthy, some would say, to be a maiden of Circassia, where all ought
to be brave and bold.  I weep, because I may not share my father's
dangers, and that I may never again see him, or hear his voice.  I weep
too, for joy, that he so loves me, that he will not part from me.  But I
must not give way to thoughts like these, or my tears will not cease
flowing.  I must nerve my soul to bear all that may happen, with the
courage of a daughter of the Atteghei, if I have not the strength of her
sons.  Now haste, Buda, we have much to do, to prepare for our journey.
Summon the women from the fields, tell them that we must leave our home;
bid them hasten to prepare our goods and furniture for our journey.  Go,
good Buda, go."

As the little slave ran off to obey her mistress's behests, the pet-kid
again gambolled within the door of the room, and ran bleating to its
fair guardian, looking up with its soft eyes full of affection, to her
face.  She bent down, and took it up in her arms.  "Ah! my little
plaything, and you too, I must see for the last time; perchance, no more
shall I look upon your pretty gambols; no more will you come to be fed
by my hand.  When I am gone, you will wander wild among the mountains,
with no roof to shelter you, and miss the care of your mistress, or a
more sad fate, perhaps, be driven into the hands of those worse than
wolves, our greedy invaders.  Farewell, pretty one! give one more look
with those soft eyes, and then go, forget me, and be happy among the
wild flocks of your kind."

The little animal, as if understanding her words, or the tone of her
voice, ceased its frolicsome play, and seemed unwilling to quit her
side.

The whole household was kept the rest of the day in a state of bustle
and activity.  The women were busily employed in making packages of all
the light and easily moved valuables of the family; every one being too
well prepared for the necessity of such a movement.  Ina herself
attended, to see that the tasks were properly performed; for a
Circassian maiden, even of the highest rank, does not consider it a
degradation to attend to her household affairs, but rather an honour to
be so employed.

Volume 2, Chapter VIII.

The chieftain, Arslan Gherrei, was one of the bravest of the nobles of
Circassia.  He was generous in his behaviour, courteous in his manners,
and temperate in the extreme; but there was a melancholy in his
countenance, almost approaching to sternness.  He kept aloof from his
countrymen, except in the council of war or the scene of strife, where
his advice was respected, and his standard followed with alacrity.  At
their banquets and scenes of conviviality and amusement, he was scarcely
ever to be found, preferring rather his domestic hearth and the society
of his daughter.

Such was the father of the beautiful Ina, the devoted patriot, the
champion of Circassia; but as we shall have occasion to refer, at a
future time, to the particulars of his history, we will now follow his
steps to his guest-house, where the young noble, the brother of the
Tartar Khan Khoros Kaloret, was anxiously waiting his return with Ina's
answer to his brother's proposal of marriage; not dreaming that it was
possible any maiden of Circassia could refuse so noble an offer.

The young Khan, who was seated on the divan at the further end of the
apartment, attended by his squire, rose as the chieftain entered.  He
was a tall, hard-featured youth, of herculean frame, clothed from head
to foot in chain armour, over which he wore a dark cloak of thick cloth;
his head was guarded by a helmet, or rather cap, of iron, trimmed round
the edge with a thick fur border, giving to his face rather a ferocious
appearance, which his overhanging and scowling brow did not belie.  By
his side hung a ponderous two-edged sword, the handle richly embossed
with gold and ornamented with jewels, as was the poniard at his belt.
His other weapons, as well as those of his squire, hung against the wall
over his head.

His squire was without armour of any sort; but his cap was of the same
coloured fur as his master's; and his dress of dark cloth fitted closely
to his figure.  This man was of shorter stature than the Khan, and thick
set, with the same disagreeable, forbidding cast of features.  The Khan
seemed eager for the chieftain's reply, though he tried to conceal his
anxiety; but before either of them spoke, his host, motioning him to
resume his seat, took a place on a cushion opposite to him, waiting for
his guest to commence the conversation.

"Noble Uzden, what answer does the bright dawn of day send to my gallant
brother?  Will she be the queen of his anderoon, and the future mother
of our noble race?  When will she be prepared to meet my brother on her
road to his home, and when shall I again come with a large company of
our retainers, such as befits her rank and beauty, decked in bridal
array to bear her away to the longing arms of her spouse?"

"It cannot be," answered the chieftain, gravely, "I speak not with
disdain of the noble Khan, your brother, but my daughter is to me as my
son; and not even to him, for all the riches of Stamboul, will I part
with her against her wish.  Ina is still young, and loves me as a son
would.  Tell your noble brother that she will yet remain with her
father; that she is the only bright jewel I cherish; that I value her
more than the richest armour, or steeds of the purest race.  There are
other maidens of the Atteghei, gladly willing to cheer your brother's
home--willing to be the mother of his sons, brave and warlike as their
father; may Allah send joy to his house! but my daughter cannot be his
bride.  It is enough, Khan, I have given my answer."

The brow of the young Besin Khan grew darker at these words.  "Must I
then go back to my brother with such an answer as this?  Must I go tell
the leader of a thousand brave warriors that a weak girl will not bow to
his will?  Why thus, oh Uzden! do you throw dirt in my face?  Must I
speak such words as these in my brother's ear?  Think you that he will
listen to me?  He will say that I am laughing at his beard.  He will
tell me to return and bring back his bride; you know not my brother, if
you suppose that he will hear with calmness such words as these.  He
will not rest.  He will send me back with another message, and will not
receive me till I return with his bride.  Say then, oh chieftain! that
the sweet bird shall quit her bower, that she will come and sing in my
brother's anderoon.  She will soon be happy there, though at first she
may mourn for her father's home; and she will become my brother's pride,
his brightest jewel, his sweetest flower.  He will send you, Uzden, a
coat of armour through which no sword can cleave; four noble steeds of
the purest race, fleet as the wind, a fine herd of fat cattle, and
flocks of sheep.  Do not despise these things."

"Have I not said, Khan, that my daughter is to me more than armour or
steeds?" replied Arslan Gherrei; "why then, talk we like children?  My
word is spoken--my daughter cannot be the bride of the Khan.  Be not
foolish, but take my message to your brother; and now Khan, speak no
more on the subject.  Refreshments are preparing for you ere you return,
if you must needs use so much haste; but rather spend this night at my
house, and by to-morrow's dawn you shall depart, for I lead forth my few
remaining followers against the foe, and must take my daughter to place
her in safety with the family of our kinsman Aitek Tcherei.  Stay then,
till to-morrow, when you shall go in peace; and perchance the next time
we meet, it will be on the battle-field against the Urus; for I have
often been witness of your bravery, and many of your foes have I seen
bite the dust."

"I cannot stay; I must away with haste; I want not food, if such is the
only answer, oh chief! that you can send my brother," exclaimed the
young noble with vehemence.  "He will not brook such words as these.
His soul will not tamely submit to this refusal.  It is folly to think
it.  His offer was not made to be refused."

"You speak words of folly, Khan; your brother is no child, that he
should be angered at a thing like this," replied the chief, gravely.
"Your feelings carry away your judgment; wait, and you will think better
on the subject to-morrow."

"You little know my brother.  He is now waiting, eager for the answer I
must take, and I will not tarry to hear more of such words," exclaimed
the young Khan, still more angry than before.  "My horse, Kiru!" turning
to his squire.  "Reach me my arms.  Bring forth my horse.  Order my
followers to mount, and away."

His squire, as desired, presented him with his gun and pistols, and
hastened from the room to obey his orders, while the young Khan strode
angrily and haughtily to the door, where he stood, foaming with rage,
till his horse was brought forth.  He then mounted, without offering the
customary salute at parting to his noble host, who amazed, and vexed, at
his want of knightly courtesy, and at his hot, irascible temper,
re-entered his house.

Followed by his squire, and the retainers of his family, the enraged
young noble galloped furiously along the flat terrace, till he reached
the steep path on the mountain's side, down which he continued his way,
and along the bottom of the valley in the direction of the sea, keeping
his course towards the north, along the coast.

Volume 2, Chapter IX.

Among the beetling crags of the high, dark, and rugged mountains, which
surround the still more gigantic and terrific Elborous, is a deep glen,
more wild and fearful than the many other fissures into which the
mountains have been rent by some awful convulsion of nature, forming the
only accessible approach to a wide bason, round which precipitous cliffs
arise on every side.  Their lofty and pointed summits are
insurmountable, even by the wild goat or active chamois.

It appeared as if nature had formed the spot expressly to serve as a
fortification for outlaws, as a dozen or twenty men could at all times
defend the entrance from a host of foes.  It was for this reason that
the ancestors of the present occupier of the country had selected it as
a spot on which to fix his abode, probably on account of his own lawless
disposition, that he might sally forth from this strong hold, and commit
forays on his neighbours, with a secure place to retire to with his
booty, without fear of reprisal.  Be that as it may, his descendants had
followed constantly the same occupation; rushing down on the unguarded
and unsuspecting villagers of the plains, carrying off their cattle, and
seizing on themselves as slaves.

The first of the present race who inhabited this wild spot, was a Khan
of high rank in Tartary; one of the many who escaped with the exiled
King into the mountains of the Caucasus, when driven from his throne by
the Russians under the grasping Catharine.  There they were hospitably
and joyfully received by the brave people from whose blood they had
originally sprung; great numbers, therefore, settled in Abasia, and
their followers adhering to them through good and evil, they thus formed
powerful tribes in their new mountain homes.

From the marauding practices of the ancestor of Khoros Kaloret Khan, he
was possessed of large herds of cattle, flocks of sheep, numerous
slaves, and a breed of high-mettled steeds, from the stock which they
had brought with them from Tartary.  Thus possessed of abundance of
wealth, he refrained from practices followed in more lawless times.  He
was at the head also of a numerous band of retainers, who obeyed him
implicitly as their hereditary chief and master; so that besides his
rank, he was a person of great consideration in the country, though
perhaps more feared from his power to do evil, than loved for the
benefits he conferred on his neighbours.

His temper, being uncontrolled, was fierce and violent, so that none of
his retainers dared to disobey his slightest orders; yet they followed
him willingly to battle, for he was, at the same time, a brave and
skilful leader, and the Russians had often felt the power of his arm in
his tremendous onslaughts.  No sooner did they commence hostilities
against the tribes of Caucasus, than his father, leading out his
clansmen from their fastnesses, proved himself one of their most bitter
and unceasing enemies.  Deep and fierce was his revenge for the wrongs
which Crim Tartary had endured at their hands.

Sending once some of his people to throw themselves in their way, in
order to act as guides to them, he drew a large body among the
fastnesses of the mountains, where, having lain in ambush, he set upon
them with his followers, and slaughtered several hundreds on the spot.
The others, attempting to take refuge among the caverns and rocks, were
hunted like wild beasts.  For several days did the savage chase
continue; every avenue for their escape was so guarded, that none
returned to tell the tale of their disasters.  Those who were not taken
and put to the sword, died of starvation among the barren mountains.

The young Khan and his brother had imbibed from their father the same
bitter hostility towards their foes; but revenge ruled their breasts
more than love for their adopted country; and the ungovernable and fiery
temper of the elder, often led him to commit excesses, even among his
own followers, of which his father was not guilty.

Such was the suitor for the hand of the gentle Ina; and though Arslan
Gherrei loved him not, yet he was not fully acquainted with his real
character; nor could he, without giving good reason, refuse his suit
without a deadly insult, as he himself was descended, by his mother's
side, from the same race, though of a royal line.

The house of the chief, near which was erected a high watch-tower, was
built directly facing the rocky defile leading to the green circular
plain or bason before described, thus commanding a view of all who
approached.

The Khan was pacing under the verandah in front of his house, in a state
of violent excitement.

"See you any one coming?" he shouted to a page stationed on the summit
of the watch-tower.  "Why tarries my brother thus?  Why sends he not
messengers to announce the coming of my bride?  Surely he would not fail
to send, and give me time to meet the beauteous girl, with due honour,
on the way.  He is not wont to disobey my orders.  See you none coming,
slave?" he again vociferated.  "See you none coming?"

"On my head be it, Khan, I see not one speck moving in the whole of the
glen," answered the page.

"Am I your Khan, that you hasten not?" he cried, to some attendants
waiting at a little distance.  "Do you, Zand, take the fleetest steed,
and fly towards Ghelendjik for three hours, returning without delay; and
see that you bring me tidings of my coming bride, or of my brother's
messengers."

The man hastened to obey the order, the Khan continuing his irregular
and agitated walk as before, every now and then turning his glance down
the glen, then shouting to his watchman to learn if he had caught sight
of any one approaching.  The answer was as before.  His impatience
increased.

"Saddle me a steed, knaves--haste, fly.  Am I not your Khan, that you
make no better speed?"

A horse was quickly brought him; when, throwing himself into the saddle,
he rode furiously down the dark ravine; but he soon returned, on the
back of the panting animal, from the fruitless search.

His temper was not assuaged by his headlong and heating ride; as
throwing the reins to a slave, who stood trembling to take his horse, he
resumed his hurried walk in front of his dwelling.

Another hour passed, when the look-out man, on the watch-tower, gave
notice that he saw a horseman coming up the glen.  As he approached
nearer, he proved to be only one of the messengers despatched in the
morning, and he reported that he could gain no intelligence of any of
the young Khan's escort.

The shades of evening were beginning to throw a deep gloom into the
glen, when the look-out man again cried that he saw a party of horsemen
approaching.

The Khan instantly threw himself on a gaily caparisoned steed, preceded
by his banner-bearer.  His squire and pages followed, with the principal
of his retainers, and galloped down the glen to meet the expected bride.
What was his rage and disappointment when he did not see his brother's
towering form, or the white veil of the betrothed; but met, instead, the
travel-worn and agitated band of retainers who had set out with him?

"Where is my brother, and where my bride?" he exclaimed, riding
furiously towards them with his drawn scimitar uplifted.  "Say,
caitiffs, ere I slay you."

"As Allah is great, we dare not say, Khan, where your brother is.  We
know not--we cannot speak," answered the foremost of the party.  "The
fair daughter of the Uzden Arslan Gherrei is with her father."

"What! does she not come with my brother?  Speak, slaves; answer, I
charge you," cried the Khan.

"This only we know, Khan.  On my head be it that I say truth," replied
the first speaker:

"The brother of the Khan parted from the Uzden Arslan Gherrei in anger,
that he would not let his daughter come to be queen of our chief's
anderoon.  We then travelled towards the castle of the Urus at
Ghelendjik, where Besin Khan, taking with him only Kiru, ordered us to
proceed a day's journey, and then wait for him.  For two days he came
not.  We waited a third, and we then went to search for him.  We heard
that there had been a bloody fight between some of the tribes on the
coast and the Urus, and we thought our young Khan would not have been
absent; but all, of whom we asked for news of him, turned aside, and
would not answer.  We then went to the shore, where the combat took
place, and among heaps of the vile soldiers of the Urus, almost
destroyed by the birds of prey and wild beasts, we found the sabre,
which was our young master's, broken, and his iron cap and his corslet,
with a deep dent on its centre."

As he spoke, the horsemen opened their ranks, and discovered between
them, on a led horse, the shattered arms of Besin Khan.

"As Allah is great, Khan, this is all we know," added the man.

The rage of the chief seemed for a moment abated, by the shock he had
experienced at the account of his brother's too probable death.  But it
as suddenly returned.

"What lies are those you speak, villains?" he exclaimed.  "Is it the
custom of the chiefs of Abbaseik to leave their companion warriors when
slain on the field?  Though he had not his own clansmen with him, think
you the other nobles would not have brought off his body were he slain?
No; those cannot be the arms of my brother.  If you have lied, some of
you shall suffer for this.  Follow me to my house.  We will see, when
light is brought, if these are truly my brother's arms."

And turning his horse's head, he rode hastily homeward.

Throwing himself on a divan, in his principal apartment, followed by all
the newly-arrived troop, he caused torches to be brought, and the arms
to be placed before him.  He examined them narrowly.

"Alas, my Khan!" said one of his attendants, "the hilt of this sabre I
know it too well.  Often have I seen it in your noble brother's hand."

"Peace, fool!" answered the Khan, furiously.  "Think you that I know not
my brother's sword?  Yes, those are his arms, and I will make those pay
dearly who have cast this indignity on my father's son.  He would not,
if living, have left his weapons on the field; and by Allah and his
Prophet, I swear that I will have revenge.  He may have fallen into the
hands of the Urus; but no, Besin Khan would not be taken alive.  I will
go to the chieftains of the Atteghei, engaged in this combat, and make
them pay dearly for thus deserting my brother, if he was slain.  If he
were near, and heard the sounds of strife, so assuredly would he have
rushed into the thickest of the fight; and if he fell by those hated
Urus, doubly will I wreak my vengeance on all of their cursed race who
fall into my hands.  Yet what is the blood of a whole host of such as
they are, to one drop of the blood of my noble brother?  He would have
died for me, and shall I rest while I live to avenge him?  No; his
spirit calls to me from the grave."

He rose, and walked in an excited manner through the chamber, shaking
his clenched hand in the air.

"Perchance even yet, my brother, thou art not slain!  Wherever thou art,
at the hands of that proud Uzden Arslan Gherrei, I will demand thee.  He
must know where thou art.  Why should he refuse me his daughter?  Am not
I as noble as he?  Have I not more faithful followers, more flocks and
herds?  Then why does he refuse to let the maiden come to my anderoon?"

On the next morning, a fierce and warlike band were ready to follow the
Khan, as, clothed in rich and glittering armour, with his banner borne
before him, he left his mountain home, nor tarried on his road, but with
furious speed galloped on, like some cataract descending from a lofty
mountain to the plain.

The band of horsemen issued from the glen, passing along the giddy edge
of precipices, fearless of danger, down the steep sides of the rugged
mountains, along the dry rocky bed of the winter torrent, never drawing
rein.

The inhabitants of the villages and hamlets ran out on hearing the
rattling hoofs of the steeds, as the fiery Khan and his followers
galloped by; but none greeted him as he passed, and, like a whirlwind,
vanished from their sight.

"Ai! ai!" cried the aged villagers.  "Is the Khan again on a foray?  Woe
betide the hapless people of the plain he pounces on; or if he rides
against the Urus, many will rue his coming, as he gallops over the
slaughtered bodies of their countrymen."

Volume 2, Chapter X.

It has been seen, that young Khan Besin Kaloret had been deputed by his
brother, the fierce Khan of the mountains, Khoros Kaloret, according to
the custom of the country necessary to be observed on such occasions, to
make his proposals to the Uzden Arslan Gherrei, for the hand of his
lovely daughter; having several times seen her in his excursions to that
part of the country, and being deeply captivated by her beauty, and
reputed accomplishments.

The young envoy came, empowered to offer rich presents, which his
brother had prepared to her father, in the full confidence that his
magnificent overtures would be accepted; for who could doubt that the
suit of a powerful and youthful noble would be successful; one, whom a
thousand brave warriors obeyed, and followed to war, who possessed large
herds of cattle, flocks of sheep, fleet steeds, and rich armour.

Koros was, as we have said, a noble of a violent and revengeful
disposition; so that his brother, though he loved him, and was himself
equally brave, quailed beneath the fury of his overpowering anger; and
well he knew that a defeat in this affair, would raise it to the utmost.

On leaving the Uzden his thoughts were bent on vengeance, or on
accomplishing his object; and had it not been for the oath, which he,
with many other nobles had entered into, to refrain from all broils
amongst each other, on account of the impending danger of the country,
he would probably have determined to return immediately with a strong
body of his retainers, and carry off the unwilling girl by force.  As it
was, the tumult of his feelings took away all his judgment, nor knew he
how to proceed; when his wily squire divining his thoughts, laid a plan
to which he had little doubt his master would accede.  When the Khan
first drew rein, he began cautiously to unfold a stratagem, which he had
thought of, by which the wished for object might be obtained.

"Why does my young master thus give way to anger and despair, at the
folly of a wilful pale-faced girl?  Why does he think, that it is
impossible to succeed in obeying the wishes of his noble brother?  Are
there not yet many ways left to attain his object?"

"What mean you, Kiru? speak!" exclaimed the Khan.  "To what do these
words you speak tend?"

"The chieftain Arslan Gherrei, and his fair daughter, with the few
retainers he has left, travel this way to-morrow, and will pass near the
Russian fort at Ghelendjik," answered the crafty counsellor.  "Could not
then my master instigate the Russians to sally forth, from their
entrenchments, and capture the chieftain and his daughter, as they pass
by?  They will give the lovely maiden as a reward to my master, that he
may take her to his brother, our chief, to make his home joyful with her
presence."

"What are these words, I hear?" exclaimed the young noble in an angry
tone, and frowning at the same time.  "Would you have me turn traitor to
my country?  Would you have me break my oath by dealings with the cursed
Urus.  No, Kiru, no.  Are they not my deadly foes?  Have I not slain
them, as the mower sweeps down the ripe corn with his sickle?  No, Kiru,
it cannot be."

Setting spurs to his horse, he again galloped forward, to avoid the
temptations of his attendant.  He, however, pondered on the subject as
he rode; and his imagination having been once excited by the instigation
of his follower, he could not drive the idea from his mind, by the
rapidity of his pace.  Unfortunately for himself, he again stopped to
hear what further arguments his squire might have to urge; who, like the
arch instigator to evil, seeing the effect his proposition had already
made, ventured to proceed.

"Does the Khan, my master, think that I would persuade him to form a
friendship with the hated Urus?  No! no!  I love them not.  My master
mistakes my words.  I would advise only that he should make use of their
assistance to gain his object, and then he may quit them without thanks.
He may again bathe his sword in their blood, as if he had never spoken
to them.  What matters it, if a few men on either side be slain?  It is
a trifle compared to fulfilling his brother's commands."

"That may be, Kiru; but will not men say, that I have stained the name
of our family, by holding communication with our enemies?" said the
young Khan.

"No one need ever know what you have done," replied the tempter.  "Leave
that to the care of your faithful squire.  Will not also many of the
Urus be slain in the combat, and thus benefit our cause? for the chief
Arslan Gherrei is too brave and powerful to let many escape to tell the
tale; and while all are engaged, the Khan can rush down and carry off
the fair girl, as if to rescue her from her enemies.  Has not your
servant well spoken, Khan?"

"Your plan is good, Kiru," he replied, now almost determined to follow
the crafty suggestions of his tempter.  "Yet, how can I gain admittance
to the fort of our enemies?"

"That is easy; for they are always glad to see those whom they may hope
to gain over to their side; and we may easily deceive them.  Say, but
the word, and I will go on, to prepare for your coming," urged the evil
counsellor.

"You persuade me much, Kiru; but yet are not the scouts of the Atteghei
constantly on the watch to mark the movements of the Urus; and will not
they assemble a larger force of their people, the moment they see them
leave their entrenchments?"

"That, too, shall be my care," answered the squire.  "I will deceive the
scouts, and send them in different directions, so as to leave the road
clear.  On that account there is naught to fear."

"Your persuasions are powerful, Kiru," answered the Khan, now scarce
hesitating, "and in no other way do I see that I can fulfil my brother's
wishes."

"We have no time to lose then, Khan," said the squire.  "Let us hasten
to put the plot in execution, and we will shew these foolish Russians,
how well we can deceive them."

The young Khan had now been fully persuaded to commit this act of
treachery and folly.  Waiting, therefore, till his followers came up, he
despatched them on their way homeward; while he and his squire proceeded
towards the castle of Ghelendjik, keeping as much as possible under the
shelter of the rocks and trees, that they might pass unobserved by the
Circassian scouts, till, at the close of evening, they arrived under its
walls.

The fort of Ghelendjik was built on the eastern side of a deep bay, the
calm waters of which were sheltered from nearly all the winds which
agitate the Black Sea.  Lofty and precipitous hills rose around it, at
some distance from the shore, leaving, on the side where the fort was
erected, a broad expanse of sand and low ground, reaching beyond
musket-range of the hills.  Far to the north-west, extended a high range
of chalk cliffs; above which the mountains rose in broken ridges, or
sunk in deep ravines to the very edge of the cliffs forming an
impassable barrier to troops; while on the other side, the land
stretched far into the sea in wooded promontories or capes, forming a
series of beautiful bays or windings of the shore in the direction of
Pchad.

The walls of the fort within which the Russians were cooped up by the
vigilance of their foes, were built partly of stone and partly of clay
embankments, forming a high parapet, surmounted with palisades; and from
the embrasures frowned the muzzles of their guns, in a long line of
ordnance of the heaviest calibre, loaded at all times to the mouth with
langridge and grape shot.  On the outside a deep ditch had been dug, and
redoubts thrown out.  At intervals of a few yards between the rough hewn
timbers forming palisades, bristled the bayonets of the numerous
sentinels constantly on the watch, to prevent a surprise from their
indefatigable and dreaded enemies.  The store-houses and barracks were
built of wood; many of them but wretched huts scarcely giving shelter to
the miserable garrison, which now consisted of upwards of four thousand
men.  Even with this strong force, so vigilant and persevering were the
Circassians, that the Russians could scarcely venture to shew themselves
beyond their walls without being fired at; and their foraging parties to
obtain wood and water were escorted by a troop of artillery, to guard
them against the attacks of the natives.  All the trees in the
neighbourhood had been felled by the invaders to build their fort, and
to prevent the mountaineers from finding shelter behind them in their
advances, in case they should attack it; so that the country for a short
distance around, wore a desolate and barren aspect: a sad contrast to
the smiling and rich scenery a little further off.

In a hut of better pretensions than the other buildings, within the
fort, sat, on his camp sofa, the commander of the Russian castle.  The
deep frown on his dark brow, showed his mortification at the ill success
of the Imperial arms, and he was meditating fierce and sanguinary
revenge against the gallant mountaineers for their determined defence of
their native land.

He was one with whom our readers are already acquainted; the reputed
father of our hero, the Baron Galetzoff.

The governor was interrupted in his meditations by the entrance of an
officer, who came to announce that a native chief, as his dress
betokened him to be, had with a single attendant arrived at the fort,
and seemed to have some communication of importance to make.

"Admit him," said the Baron.  "But let a company with fixed bayonets
form round him at the entrance of the fort, and I will go forth to meet
him.  I cannot trust these mountaineers; some treachery lurks beneath
every action.  Call my interpreter, and I will hear what this robber
chief has to say, and order the troops under arms, that he may see our
strength, and report it to his countrymen for he comes here but to act
the spy."

As the Khan and his squire entered the fort, the moon slowly rose above
the mountains, throwing her soft clear beams on the calm waters of the
bay, and shining on the fixed bayonets of the troops, and on the swords
of the officers, who stood grouped in knots around in rich and varied
uniforms gazing on the proud and warlike-looking stranger, while the
banner displaying Russia's dark eagle floated vauntingly above their
heads.

A troop of Cossacks, in their wild and picturesque garb, were mounted on
fleet horses with embroidered housings.  Their arms were highly
ornamented; and, as they galloped to the spot, they flourished aloft
their long spears whose points glittered brightly.  On either side the
troops were drawn up in long and close lines; the bayonets seeming to
form a sharp, pointed wall of bright steel tipped with burnished silver.
In different parts of the fort blazed the camp fires of the soldiers;
and, in attendance on the governor, came a party of men with torches,
throwing a red glare of light on all around.  The miserable buildings,
and dark irregular fortifications were thrown into shade, leaving only
the gaudy and glittering panoply of war exposed to view, mocking the
calm splendour of the moon, as she glided in her course through the deep
blue sky, amid myriads of bright and shining stars.

As the Russian governor reached the gate of the fort, he perceived the
commanding figure of the young Khan Besin Kaloret, and his squire
standing close behind him with a cocked pistol in his hand.  The
mountain warrior stood fearless and unabashed amid the gorgeous and
imposing array of the Russian troops forming round him.

"Who are you," began the Baron, "who have so audaciously ventured to
approach my camp?  Know you not, that I have the right and power to
order you to be instantly shot for the many atrocities committed by you,
and your barbarous countrymen?  Speak, what brings you here?"

"I fear not your power," calmly answered the Khan; "nor should I die
unrevenged; but I come to you with thoughts of peace, I come to crave
your assistance in an affair of import, but I cannot speak when so many
are, near who may overhear my words."

The Russian General, conscious of his own evil intentions, looked at the
pistol held by the attendant Kiru.  The Khan saw his glance.  "Put up
your pistol, Kiru.  We have nothing here to fear," he said; and, as his
squire obeyed, the Baron ordered the soldiers to fall further back.

"Now tell me your errand," said the General, "and say who you are."

"It matters not who I am," replied the Khan, "but my errand is this; I
would possess myself of a fair girl, the daughter of a chieftain, who,
with a small band of followers travels this way to-morrow.  Though they
are brave, they may be easily overpowered if you will follow my
suggestions.  Now hear me, General of the Moscov.  If you will send one
hundred of your foot soldiers with me, I will lead them to a spot where
they may remain in ambush, till the chief and his band pass that way.
They may then rush out and take them prisoners if you will, and as my
reward I claim the chieftain's daughter."

"The plan might succeed," answered the Baron, doubtingly.  "But how can
I know that you mean no treachery?  I cannot trust your countrymen."

"You might know that I would not play you false, by coming here among
your troops in your camp.  If you doubt me, slay me.  I am in your
power."

The unembarrassed manner in which the Khan spoke contributed to allay
the Baron's suspicions, though he still hesitated to trust the stranger.

"Suppose I follow your advice," said the General, "how can it succeed?
for, overlooked as we are by the enemy's scouts, none can leave the fort
without being perceived."

"I have arranged that also," answered the Khan.  "My squire, whom I can
trust as myself, will go forth to lead the scouts astray with false
reports, and none shall interrupt our proceedings.  The spot too on
which I have fixed is near at hand, so that you may send assistance if
required.  Will you do therefore as I wish?"

"How can I be assured of your fidelity?" again inquired the Baron.  "I
must have some hostage to prove that you are not deceiving me, you
yourself must stay while you send some one to point out the spot; and
when the girl you speak of is captured, you shall have your reward."

"That cannot be," replied the Khan, equally distrustful; "I must myself
lead your fighting men to the place of ambush; and must also be near at
hand to carry off the daughter of the chief, that none may know I had
aught to do with the surprise.  The rest treat as you will; but you
still distrust me.  It is well.  I will send out my squire before
day-break to clear the country round of scouts, and when he returns he
shall remain as a hostage to prove my truth.  Is it not well?"

The Baron at length agreed to the proposed plan, congratulating himself
in the hope, that, by the capture of a chieftain, with all his family
and women, by retaining them as hostages, he should bring into
subjection all his landsmen and followers; and finally, by detaining the
young Khan as a prisoner for the same purpose, a justly severe
retaliation would be inflicted on the treachery of his countrymen.  The
Baron therefore ordered double the number of infantry asked for, with
some light field-pieces, and a troop of Cossacks to attend, the Khan and
to watch the proceedings with orders to kill him should he attempt to
escape.

The conference being over, the young traitor was conducted to a hut
prepared for him, where refreshments were offered, and every inducement
held out, with promises of valuable presents should he quit the
Circassian cause, and with his followers join the Russians.  But his
cupidity could not be excited.  Revenge for the insult he considered his
family to have received alone ruled his actions.  He turned a deaf ear
to their most tempting offers, though, to disarm suspicion, he pretended
to be influenced by these propositions.

Not so, however, his squire, who hoped to partake of the rich presents
and advantages which his master would acquire, if he accepted the
Russian's offers; and he determined to use his utmost persuasions with
the Khan for the purpose.

The next morning before the sun had risen, Kiru stealthily sallied forth
from the fort, and fully succeeded in misleading the scouts of the
Circassians, who dreamed not of such treachery.  But on his return, to
his great surprise, he found himself detained a prisoner.  What was the
Khan's dismay, also, when he found how different were the arrangements
made from what he had himself proposed, and that he was completely in
the power of his enemies?  But he had now advanced too far to retrace
his steps, so that at all hazards he determined to attempt the seizure
of Ina, hoping at all events to escape with her in the melee.

It was clear, however, that he did not at first intend to prove a
complete traitor to his countrymen, nor, till driven to desperation by
finding himself out-witted, would he have drawn his sword against them.
If his countrymen saw him rescue Ina, she would become his fair prize,
and he thought that most of her friends would escape by the fleetness of
their horses.

Volume 2, Chapter XI.

The household of Arslan Gherrei were early astir on the following
morning, to be in readiness to commence their journey, whenever their
chief should give the order.  Several household slaves, Calmucks, and
even Russians, who had been taken prisoners, and one or two Poles,
deserters from the enemy, but who had not yet proved their fidelity to
the Circassians, by wielding their swords against their late masters,
were employed in loading the sturdy ponies with the articles which the
women had prepared.  Lighter steeds were in readiness to carry the
females; and one of fine proportions, with sleek skin, and long-flowing
mane and tail, as docile as a dog, was destined to bear the graceful and
slender form of the chieftain's daughter.  The beautiful animal was
decked with rich housings of scarlet cloth trimmed with gold; slender
reins of leather entwined with a golden thread, and bunches of wild
flowers in his head.  And truly he seemed conscious of the care bestowed
on him, and proud of the charge he was accustomed to carry.

After the frugal morning meal had been dispatched, the fair Ina,
blooming in the fresh morning air, came forth from her dwelling, and the
chieftain himself appeared, to conduct her to her steed.  In addition to
her other dress, she now wore a scarlet mantle worked with gold, and a
hat, the rim turned up on one side, in which was placed a white plume
fastened by a jewel of price; while a thicker veil hung in ample folds
from her head to shroud her features, if she pleased, from the rays of
the sun, or the too admiring gaze of strangers.

As soon as their young mistress had mounted, the women and the rest of
the party followed her example, her father riding by her side, to guide
her palfrey through the more difficult part of the road.  The women
servants and slaves followed next; the household attendants bringing up
the rear with the baggage horses.  As the cavalcade proceeded along the
plateau or terrace before described, and wound down the steep sides of
the mountain, and along the valley towards the sea, it was joined by
bands of horsemen, of ten to twenty at a time, arriving from different
directions; so that, by the time they had reached the defile which
opened on the sea-coast, the party amounted to nearly a hundred
warriors.

Some of them were nobles of little consequence or wealth, who were glad
to attach themselves to the standard of so gallant a leader as the brave
Uzden Arslan Gherrei; and others were yeomen and freemen, who had been
followers of his family for ages.  Some wore entire suits of armour;
others, only breast-plates and helmets; others, were without any
defensive armour; but all were completely supplied with weapons: light
guns slung at the back, scimitars attached to their sides, pistols in
their belts behind, and the cama or dagger at their waists.  The rest
wore the tight-fitting Circassian coat, the cloth or fur cap, and a
large cloak over the shoulder; so that the whole of the party had a
bold, martial appearance; the horses curvetting and careering, and the
leader's banner borne at the head, fluttering in the wind.

It was, in truth, a noble and gallant looking little band, worthy to be
led by such a chief.  And Ina's eyes flashed with enthusiasm and
animation, as she rode by her father's side, at their head, guarded on
each side by a few of the most favoured and honoured.

In order to avoid the more rugged and difficult passage over the
mountains, the chieftain had, for his daughter's sake, chosen a route
along the sea-coast, affording a plain and even path for some distance
towards the north, before it would be necessary for him to strike inland
towards the place of their destination.  After riding for some distance
by the side of the clear stream, flowing through the valley, they passed
the narrow gorge which formed its entrance, emerging from it into the
open coast of the blue sea, whose waves rippled on the bright hard sand
at their feet.

High on their right, rose lofty mountains, covered with shrubs of every
varied form and hue.  Sometimes they passed beneath the boughs of
wide-spreading trees, whose grateful shade sheltered them from the heat
of the sun, now rising high in the heavens; and again where the gentle
breath of the sea-breeze came soft and cooling to their cheeks.

The leader kept his small troop together, except a few of the younger
men, who galloped about in every direction, both to ascertain whether
any enemies were lurking about, and to amuse themselves by martial
exercises; now throwing the djereed with unerring aim, now galloping
their fiery steeds up the steep sides of the mountain, amid rocks which
appeared to afford scarce footing even for the nimble goats; then
dashing amid the cooling waters of the clear blue sea, and swimming
their well-trained steeds at some distance out in a line with the shore.
There some would join in mimic fight, chasing after, or flying from
each other along the hard sandy margin of the ocean.  Not a few, indeed,
were eager to exhibit their feats of horsemanship before their
chieftain's fair daughter, whose bright smile every now and then offered
rich reward for any superior display of dexterity or courage.

They were now approaching the neighbourhood of Ghelendjik.  Though
little danger was to be apprehended from their foes; who scarcely left
their entrenchments, and never without a strong force when driven out by
famine to forage in the neighbouring country; yet as a good commander,
Arslan Gherrei considered it necessary to lead his men more carefully
along the Dehli Khans keeping a stricter watch in every direction.

To avoid the fort, it was necessary to leave the sea shore, and to
proceed over some rugged paths further into the interior.  A rapid and
deep stream, however, the Mezi, crossed their path, before they could
reach a part of the mountains practicable for their horses and baggage.
The nearest ford was close to the mouth of the stream; so that, to
enable the women and their goods to pass over secure from wet, it was
necessary to return again to the margin of the sea, which they had
previously left for a short distance, in order to pass through a shady
grove on level ground.  The young men, however, at once dashed into the
stream, quickly swimming their horses over, and galloped along on the
bank of the side they had gained to meet the rest of the party, and
assist them in crossing, which, with some difficulty, on account of the
depth of the water, they accomplished.

The warlike little band, forming in order, turned again from the sea, to
proceed along the bank of the stream, to the entrance of a vast gorge,
through which its waters passed.

Few scenes could have more of wild grandeur than the one now before
them.  The foaming waters of the stream, dashing over its rocky bed,
were lined, where the crevices of the rocks afforded root for them, with
willow, elder, and other trees and shrubs.  On each side of the gorge,
were dark and lofty rocks, overhung with bending shrubs and creeping
plants, which fell in thick festoons; while the sides of the mountains,
rising high above the shore, and crowned to the summit with thick
growing trees, were so precipitous, as to afford but a narrow, steep,
and winding path, difficult even for the nimble horses of the
Circassians.

Ina gazed up the steep sides of the mountain with doubt and hesitation,
as to the possibility of crossing it; but finding her father about to
proceed to the fort, she prepared to accompany him.

Some horsemen, who were sent in advance to clear a passage among the
thick branches of trees and the underwood which impeded their progress,
were about to scale the side of the mountain, when a loud shout from the
rest of the band, rending the sky, called them back.  At the same
moment, a terrific crash, and report of cannon, sending forth a
death-dealing shower of grape, laid many of the foremost low.  Arslan
Gherrei turned in the direction from whence the iron shower came; and
calling to some of his retainers to follow, galloped furiously up the
glen, without a moment's hesitation, towards a mound rising slightly
above the stream, on which now appeared a row of light field-pieces,
guarded by a body of Russian troops, who had before been concealed by
the ground they now occupied.  At the same moment, the sides of the
mountain, up which their intended route lay, glittered with hostile
bayonets.

Half the Circassian band, raising their terrific war-cry, rushed with
headlong speed, led by their gallant chief, against the guns.  The heavy
discharge of musketry which met their advance, did not check them; and,
with irresistible force, they drove the gunners from their posts,
causing the troops to recoil before them.  The Russians, panic-stricken
by their shouts, and the impetuosity of their onset, made slight
resistance, as the Circassians, seizing the guns, hurled them with
several of their defenders into the torrent; and were about to follow up
their success against the party of soldiers who guarded the glen, when
they were recalled by a loud shout from their comrades.  Turning, they
perceived the opposite side of the stream lined by a strong body of
troops, who, as they passed down, opened a heavy fire on them; while,
from behind every tree which clothed the mountain, appeared more of
their enemies.  Turning their horse's heads, they again galloped back,
in spite of the bullets which assailed them, to answer the call of their
friends.

The party whom they had left to protect their fair charge, seemed not to
attract the hostility of their foes, for among that band none had
fallen; but, at the moment they were again about to join, a strong troop
of Cossacks were seen advancing at full gallop, with loud shouts, to
attack them.

"There has been treachery at work, oh! men of Atteghei! or we should
never have been caught in this toil; but, my gallant friends, we must
cut our way through them, or die, wreaking due vengeance on their heads.
Let us now remember that we fight for the fair ones we are bound to
protect.  On, my brave followers--on, men of Atteghei, and shew our
dastard foes that we fear not a host such as they.  We will hew a way
for ourselves through their crowded ranks, and pass the guns of their
fort, leaving those who may survive our charge to follow if they will.
On, gallant warriors, on!" shouted their noble leader.

Hearing these words, the band again raised their terrific war-cry,
overpowering the rattling sound of the musketry, and rushed impetuously
to meet the charge which the advancing troops of fierce Cossacks seemed
about to make.

On both parties rushed, shrieking in their eagerness; their eyes
starting from their sockets; their sabres clenched firmly in their
hands; the hoofs of their steeds spurning the soil, and foam flying from
their nostrils.  The meeting crash of the hostile cavalry was terrific;
but many of the first ranks of the Cossacks were overthrown by the
superior agility of the Circassian warriors, their active steeds well
seconding their riders, as their swords whirled rapidly round their
heads, and descended with tremendous force on the unguarded bodies of
their foes, whose sabres were shivered against their steel breast-plates
and helmets.

So fierce was the onslaught of the mountaineers, that the sturdy
horsemen of the plain recoiled at first before their desperate charge.
They might have succeeded in cutting their way through the ranks of
their opponents, had they not been already weakened, and their numbers
thinned by the deadly fire of the infantry, who continued to harass
their rear from a distance; part only as yet having reached the spot to
which the combat had been removed.  These were kept at bay by a few
horsemen who wheeled rapidly again and again when they ventured to
approach; caring but little for the infantry, whom they despised now
that their guns were destroyed; yet the force of the Cossacks was almost
overpowering, so that nothing but the most determined and desperate
bravery would have excited the Circassians to persist in the unequal
combat.

Their movements too were impeded by the women.  The young Ina, undaunted
amid the scene of desperate strife, endeavoured to urge her palfrey to
her father's side; and was almost surrounded by the enemy, when the
chieftain hewed his way towards her, and cleared a passage for her
escape.  Yet, notwithstanding the most heroic and desperate fighting,
the Circassians were at length driven back towards the river, when
nothing seemed to remain for them but to sell their lives dearly, or to
yield themselves as prisoners to their detested foes.  The courage of
the chieftain, even then, quailed not before the danger; but he thought
of his loved Ina, and what her fate might be should he fall.

Again shouting their war-cry, his clansmen rallied round him, having
retreated a short space to renew the charge.  On they rushed with a
furious shock; but it was only to find the hopelessness of their
attempt.

The attacks of the foes seemed principally directed against the
chieftain Arslan Gherrei himself, as he was easily distinguished by his
lofty plume, his jewelled poniard, his rich shining armour, his
impetuous valour, and his noble bearing.  The Cossacks pressed round
him, though many of their comrades bit the dust beneath his horse's
feet.  A spell seemed thrown over himself and his charger, for the shot
fell harmlessly around them.  The noble animal was equally energetic in
the combat, rushing onward, and trampling down his foes, or seizing the
advancing horses with his mouth, trying to overthrow them.  [A
well-known fact.  The Arab horses constantly fight in this way, with or
without riders.]

Ina, amid the fierce slaughter and loud din of the combat, thought only
of her father, following him with her eyes whenever the tide of battle
carried him from her.  Towards her, also, many desperate attacks were
made by the enemy in the attempt apparently to possess themselves of so
lovely a prize; but too many gallant hearts were yet beating with life,
to allow her assailants to succeed while they could yet wield their
weapons.

Among their opponents was one who frequently led the attack, charging
impetuously towards Ina, whenever she was separated from her father; but
it appeared that he, at all times, avoided meeting the chieftain hand to
hand; and once, when he had almost reached Ina, Arslan Gherrei again
returned to her side; and the Cossack officer, as he seemed, turned the
tide of war in another direction.  He was a person of great strength and
height, dressed in the Cossack uniform, except that a cap shrouded his
face; but in the skirmish, his vest flying open, discovered a coat of
chain armour, and his cap at the same moment falling off, exhibited the
fierce features of the young Khan Besin Kaloret.  A shout of execration
arose from the band of his adopted countrymen, as they discovered the
traitor, and many an arm sought to cut him down; but, conscious of his
shame, he seemed to avoid the strife.  Seeing the effect that his
conduct had on the Cossacks, and that he might, after all, lose his
prize, he again desperately joined the combat, which had become fiercer
than ever.

The children of the mountains were still undaunted.  Placing the women
in the centre, they determined to succeed in cutting their way, or to
perish in the attempt.  Their war-cry was answered from above their
heads; and looking up, they perceived a band of warriors amid the trees
on the mountain's brow, dashing furiously down with headlong speed to
join them.

Scarcely had the Russian infantry, posted in the path, time to perceive
their danger, when the fresh band of Circassian warriors were upon them,
cutting down some with their sharp sabres, trampling over others, and
hurling the rest over the precipices, till none remained to impede their
furious course.

As the gallant men reached the strand, they were met by a strong party
of Russian infantry formed into a hollow square, bristling with
bayonets.  But, like a wild mountain torrent, broken loose from some
Alpine lake, nothing could withstand their overwhelming fury.
Concentrating their voices into one loud rending shout, of the most
dreadful sound, they galloped with uplifted sabres at the steel formed
wall.

The Russian front ranks trembled, wavered, and gave way before their
desperate charge, which seemed more like a torrent of wild spirits, than
of men, like themselves; unnerving their arms, and causing their blood
to run cold.  The fierce horsemen who rushed over their prostrate
bodies, to succour their hard-pressed countrymen, were led on by a noble
looking cavalier, without defensive armour of any sort, and in the
simple costume of the country; but whose sword dealt dreadful havoc amid
the foe, as he cut his way through their broken ranks.

Among this newly-arrived troop of Circassians, were several chiefs in
armour, some of whom joined the young leader, and others with their
retainers, turned to follow up their success over the infantry, and
prevent their rallying.

Onward flew the young hero, like a flash of lightning, followed by his
squire, and by a youthful page, who kept close to his side, with a
gallant array of horsemen.  They shouted loudly to give their countrymen
notice of the succour close at hand, and dashed furiously against the
Cossacks with so tremendous a shock, as to drive them bodily back for an
instant, and to give Arslan Gherrei, and his followers, breathing time
to recover from their exertions.

But the Cossacks, to revenge themselves for the check given to their
nearly-won victory, soon recovering from the effects of the last charge,
gathered in overwhelming numbers round the chieftain Arslan Gherrei,
attacking his followers so furiously, as to separate him from them, and
to hem him in completely.  His gallant steed wheeled and pranced high,
attentive to the rein, till receiving a wound in his neck, he became
weak from loss of blood, and began to falter in his movements.  Hard
pressed by numbers, the chief was nearly overpowered, when the young
leader we have spoken of, saw his peril, and galloped to his rescue.

At the same moment, Besin Khan, with a strong body of Cossacks, wheeling
round, made a furious charge at the spot, where Ina had been forced by
the press of the combatants to move, when separated from her father,
with a few Circassians only around her.  Seizing her horse's rein, after
a desperate defence by her guards, he was on the point of carrying her
off, when the young stranger leader, followed by a small party, rushed
towards him, and cutting down all who opposed him, pressed the Khan so
hard, that he was obliged to quit his hold, in order to defend himself.
The lady Ina, thus restored to momentary safety among the women, and
some of her father's retainers, again hastened to join the combatants.

The traitor Khan, who had recovered from his repulse, now seeing the
stranger without armour, singled him out in hopes of making him fall an
easy prey.  Their swords met: a furious conflict ensued between them:
one backed by his adherents, the other by the Cossacks.  Victory seemed
doubtful, but Besin Khan's strength prevailed, and the young hero's
sword being beaten down, the weapon of his opponent was about to fall on
his unguarded head, when ere it could descend, a shot from the pistol of
the youthful page struck the breast of the traitor.  He reeled in his
saddle.  For a moment, he attempted to keep his seat, but in vain.  His
weapon dropped powerlessly by his side; his knees refused to press his
horse's sides; and his eyes rolling wildly, he fell heavily to the
ground, where his body lay trampled on by the prancing steeds of the
combatants.

A piercing cry of joy escaped the boy's lips, as his master was saved;
and Arslan Gherrei, at that moment joining him, the two leaders fought
side by side, heading their followers in many desperate onslaughts, till
the Cossacks, despairing of victory, endeavoured to save themselves by
flight.  As they galloped off, however, they loaded their short guns,
and turned to discharge them at their eager pursuers.

The Chieftain loudly called on his clansmen to desist, for they had
still many opponents.  Those who heard him, obeyed; but others followed
their foes to within range of the guns of fort Ghelendjik.

To complete their victory, the Circassians had still a powerful force of
infantry to conquer, who had kept up a galling fire on the horsemen,
during the whole time of the combat.

The Circassian chiefs, collecting all their followers, again charged the
enemy in a strong body, breaking through their ranks, cutting them down,
driving them into the sea, and carrying away as prisoners many who threw
down their arms and begged for quarter.  A few of the leading ranks of
the Russians succeeded in escaping; and those only by a strong force
from the fort, with some artillery, sallying out to succour them.

Content with their victory, the Circassian leaders assembled their
followers.  Some were occupied in collecting their wounded and dead
countrymen, and placing them on their horses; others, in collecting the
Russian arms and ammunition, most valuable to them at that time; and
others, in dragging away the prisoners whom they had captured.

Among the dead, was found the body of the traitor Besin Khan; and every
warrior, as he passed, cast a stone at it, with a low, muttered curse,
leaving it to rot among the carcases of the hated Urus, or to be
devoured by the wild beasts of the forest, and the birds of the air; the
greatest indignity they could shew it.

The Russian prisoners willingly followed their new masters, glad to
escape the confinement and danger of the camp, for the safety and free
range of the country; preferring, to the iron tyranny of the Imperial
army, a servitude under the kind-hearted Circassians.

No sooner was the fight over, than Arslan Gherrei hastened to the spot
where Ina and her women had been stationed, anxious to learn if either
she or her attendants had suffered from the fire of the retreating
infantry.  All were unhurt; and his lovely daughter, though still pale,
had begun to recover from the terror into which his danger had thrown
her.  Great was her admiration and her gratitude, when she saw the
gallant stranger rush so heroically to his aid; and she longed, with
feminine eagerness, to express to him her deep thanks; but as she looked
round to discover him, he was nowhere to be seen.

"Oh, my father!" exclaimed Ina, as the chieftain rode up, "Heaven be
praised, that you have escaped unharmed from this dreadful combat; and
that I again see you after the terrible perils to which you have been
exposed!  I thought never more to have been pressed in your arms!"

"Allah, by the means of that noble young stranger, protected me, my
child," replied the chieftain: "but we must stay no longer here; let us
hasten from this scene of death."

"Gladly will I go," said Ina.  "But first let us thank our gallant
preserver; for know you, my father, that when you were separated from
me, I was surrounded by those terrible Cossacks, when he came, like a
protecting angel, with the speed of lightning, and saved me from the
power of that traitorous Khan.  Oh! my father, I have much to thank him
for!"

"I will seek him, my Ina," replied the chieftain.  "Oh! had heaven but
spared me such a son as he, to delight my heart with his noble deeds, I
should have been content: but the will of Allah be done--he is great!"

Ordering some of his band to escort Ina and her women up the mountain,
he rode round to seek the chiefs of the party who had brought him such
timely assistance.  He first recognised the aged warrior, Uzden Achmet
Beg, and, throwing himself from his horse, he hastened to thank him.
The two chiefs warmly grasped each other's hands; a few manly words
sufficing to show the gratitude of one whom the other well knew would
have acted in the same way towards him.  As he turned, his eye fell on
the Hadji Guz Beg, who was advancing to meet him, though he at first
scarcely recognised him after his long absence, disfigured as he was
with the dust and smoke of the conflict.

"Is it indeed you, my father, my friend?" he exclaimed.  "Most welcome,
are you to our native land, and well have you shown this day that, among
the effeminate nations in whose lands you have journeyed, you have not
forgotten the use of your sharp sword.  Thanks, brave Hadji, for your
timely succour."

"Oh! it is nothing," replied the Hadji, laughing; "I will soon show the
Urus that I love them not better than of yore.  And you, Uzden, glad I
am to see you, and to have lost no time in wetting my blade in the blood
of the cursed Urus for your sake."

"Thanks, many thanks, my father," answered the chief.  "But where is
that gallant young warrior, who rushed so bravely to my aid when hard
pressed by the Cossacks?"

"He is my friend, my adopted son," replied the Hadji; "a true son of the
Atteghei, as he has this day shown himself to be; but he gives not his
name, nor know I even whence he comes.  He will first do some deed to
win a name for himself, and to show himself worthy of his father and his
tribe; and happy will be the father who can own him."

"Happy will he be, indeed," replied Arslan Gherrei, sighing; "for he is
well worthy to be the son of the bravest of our chiefs.  Whither has he
gone?  Let me hasten to thank him."

"I saw him last," replied the Hadji, "closely pursuing the flying
troops; I thought he had returned.  Perhaps he and his followers have
already gone up the mountain's side."

"Allah forbid that the brave youth should have been laid low by the fire
of the enemy, or fallen into their cursed power; for little mercy would
they show him."

Search was made in every direction for the gallant stranger, but he
could nowhere be found; and the chieftains, at length summoning the
remainder of their warriors, hastened to overtake the party who had
preceded them.

Volume 2, Chapter XII.

As our hero was attacking the retiring troops of the Russians, he
observed a young officer endeavouring to form his men into squares, and
to keep them in close order to repel the desperate charges of the wild
mountain cavalry.

Again and again were they broken; and at one time, by a furious charge,
Ivan succeeded in riding close up to the officer, in hope of taking him
prisoner; when, to his sorrow, he recognised in his opponent his former
friend, Thaddeus Stanisloff.  Before he had time to summon him to
surrender, one of the Circassian horsemen was on the point of cutting
him down, when, throwing himself forward, he interposed his own sword,
and saved his friend from destruction.  A shot directly after killed the
Circassian; and Ivan, calling upon Thaddeus by name, entreated him to
surrender.  But at the moment the young Pole recognised him, the
Russians rushed forward with desperation to rescue their officer, and
Ivan was himself obliged to retreat with his followers.  He had no
further opportunity of getting near enough to Thaddeus to speak to him;
for the retreat of the defeated infantry was soon after covered by the
arrival of a strong body of troops from Ghelendjik; and the Circassian
warriors were obliged to quit the pursuit of their prey.

Like the last heavy cloud of a thunder-storm, the mountaineers made a
tremendous charge on the remnant of the retreating Russians, almost
overwhelming them in their fury; and then, like a whirlwind, they swept
by before the arrival of the fresh troops, and galloped off to overtake
their companions.

As Ivan was passing the prisoners, he heard a voice calling to him by
name.  He started, and turned to see whence it came; for he fancied he
recognised the tone; and in a miserable object, his dress torn and
covered with blood, he saw his former attendant, the faithful Karl, in
the hands of a mountaineer, who, on a promise of a slight recompense,
consented to give up his prize to his young leader.

As soon as poor Karl was liberated, he rushed to Ivan's side to express
his gratitude.  "My honest, my kind friend," said our hero, "it makes my
heart beat quickly to see your old familiar face.  Banish all fears, for
no one here will ill-treat you.  You shall be at liberty to go where you
like, or to return to your countrymen in the castle of Ghelendjik."

"Oh, my dear master," replied Karl; "don't, for mercy's sake, talk of
sending me back; for that is the very last place that I know of in the
world, that I should wish to return to.  Let me be your servant and
slave as before, for I would not give a glass of quass for the freedom
we gain, by becoming soldiers.  Let me follow you wherever you go."

"Well, my good friend," replied Ivan; "you shall do as you wish; but we
have no time to lose, or we may all fall again into the hands of the
Russians.  Keep, therefore by my side, till we get beyond the reach of
the enemy."

Saying which, Ivan rode on with his companions, Karl holding by his
stirrup.

During the whole of the combat and skirmishing we have described, young
Conrin and Javis were by Ivan's side, charging into the thickest of the
enemy; and many a blow did the page ward off from his master, while the
squire was as much occupied in protecting him, for he seemed scarcely to
think of himself.  The boy's eye burned with an almost unnatural lustre,
and his lips were closely pressed, as with sword in hand, he rushed amid
the fierce melee; but he seemed to bear a charmed life, for neither
steel or bullet touched him.

While our hero was proceeding at a fast pace along the sea shore,
followed by his two attendants, and a body of mountaineers, who had no
little difficulty in dragging on some of their captives, and were
besides, heavily laden with arms taken from the enemy, a loud shout made
them turn their heads, when they perceived a large body of Cossacks
fresh from the fort, coming at full gallop towards them.  The horses of
all the party were already fatigued with the fight and pursuit; they had
small chance of escape by flight, and they were too far outnumbered by
the foe, to hope to gain the victory in a second engagement.  Yet, what
was to be done?  It was better to die fighting bravely with their faces
to the enemy, than to be cut down in an ignominious flight; and at all
hazards, Ivan ordered his men to wheel round, and receive the charge of
the coming cavalry, though the odds were dreadfully against them, when
one of the Circassian horsemen, calling to his companions to follow, led
the way through a steep narrow ravine, thickly overhung with trees.

Here, at all events, they could fight at an advantage, if the Cossacks
attempted to follow; but most of the party had enough of fighting for
the day.  They eagerly followed their guide up the mountain, which
appeared almost insurmountable for the animals.  Karl, in greater haste
than any of the party to escape from his late masters, scrambled up the
rocks with the utmost agility, scarcely looking behind, to see if Ivan
followed; who, finding; the uselessness of further fighting, rode after
the rest; and they had already gained a considerable height, when the
Cossacks arrived at the base of the mountain.

Their horses, though fleet, were unable to compete with the goat-like
nimbleness of the Circassian steeds; and, as they rode about seeking for
a practicable way to follow, many of their number fell beneath the
unerring aim of the mountaineers.  Vainly returning the shots which told
so fearfully among their ranks, they rode up the mountain in
desperation; and at last, finding the pathway by which the Circassians
had escaped, and attempting to ride up it, they were still more at the
mercy of their enemy; till at length, despairing of overtaking them, and
having lost many of their number, their officers called them off, and
they galloped back to the fort, leaving our hero and his band to pursue
their route unmolested.

From the spot they had now reached, it was much more easy to mount than
to descend.  Continuing, therefore, their upward course among broken
crags and stumps of trees, leaping and climbing from rock to rock, after
infinite labour, they at last reached the flat ground, which crowned the
summit of the mountain; when, striking across the country, they
perceived the bands of Arslan Gherrei, and the Hadji, with the
chieftain's daughter and her women.

No sooner did Ivan and his small band appear at the summit of the hill,
than the keen eye of the Hadji caught sight of him; and spurring on his
steed, he came to meet him, almost lifting him from his horse, as he
rode up to his side to embrace him; at the same time, exclaiming with
accents of delight: "Welcome to my arms, my son!  I feared one of the
future heroes of the Atteghei might have been slain by those rascal
Cossacks, as you could nowhere be found after the fight.  But my heart
leaps with joy, to see you alive; for well have you fought this day, and
full worthy are you to be called a son of the Atteghei!  My eye was on
you, when you first charged the Cossack horse, and I was then confident
you would prove no disgrace to your country; for bravely you fell upon
them; and one of the noblest of our Uzdens says, that you gallantly came
to his aid, when hard pressed by our foes.  His fair daughter seeks to
shew you her gratitude, for rescuing her from the hands of Besin Khan,
that vile traitor.  So, my son, you have lost no time in becoming known
as a gallant warrior, and the praise of the chief, whom you rescued, is
alone the proudest meed you could gain."

"Happy, indeed am I, to have won his praise then," replied Ivan; "and
not the less your's, my kind friend.  But I hope, with your guidance,
ere long to win more laurels in my country's cause."

They waited till Arslan Gherrei and his band came up; when the
chieftain, leaping from his horse, Ivan doing the same, advanced to meet
him.

"My gallant young hero!" he exclaimed, embracing him, "though a
stranger, as I hear, in our land, you have this day shewn yourself as
valiant as the bravest of our chiefs; and a deep debt do I owe you, not
only for saving my life, but in rescuing my only child from the hands of
our enemy.  Think not, that if I am wanting in the power of expressing
my feelings, my heart thanks you the less.  My child too longs to throw
herself at your feet, to express her gratitude."

"Speak not thus noble chieftain, for you owe me nothing," cried Ivan.
"I acted but the duty of a warrior, nor deserve thanks for so doing; and
tell your fair daughter, that to have been of service to her, is my
greatest happiness.  The gratitude of all is, however, due to my father,
the Hadji Guz Beg; for he it was, who shewed us the way into action."

"Do not thank me, my friends," exclaimed the Hadji; "for I have not been
so happy for years.  Inshallah! we left not a few of our foes on the
field.  But we must not delay here, my friends; the day is far spent,
and if we lose more time, we shall not reach our konag before dark."

Mounting their horses, therefore, they overtook the rest of the party,
passing the Armenian pedlar and his pack horses.  He had remained on the
summit of the hill when the Hadji's band galloped down to join the
fight--a distant hearer of the combat, though not venturing to approach
near enough to the edge of the cliffs, to see what was going forward
below.

"Ah, man of trade!" exclaimed the Hadji, laughingly, as he rode up; "you
look fresh and well.  As a spectator of our combat, you have managed to
keep yourself cleaner than we have done.  How think you, your friends
the Russians like it?  But you will make a rich harvest; for there are
few of our followers who have not something to exchange for your goods."

Ina gazed earnestly at our hero, as he rode past her; for an
unaccountable feeling of bashfulness prevented his addressing her,
though, bending low to his saddle bow, he respectfully saluted her, and
went on to take his place by the Hadji's side.  Not so, however, his
page the young Conrin, who gained a situation near her, earnestly
stealing glances at her beautiful features, as her veil was occasionally
blown aside; but they seemed not to give him that pleasure, which they
so highly merited; for a slight frown and a look of dissatisfaction sat
on the boy's countenance, though he seemed so fascinated that he could
not withdraw his eyes from her.

The warlike party now gained another height, close above the bay of
Ghelendjik, when the report of musketry was heard.  Looking down upon
the fort, a wreath of smoke ascended to the sky, and they observed a
company of the Russian soldiers drawn up, and a man in the dress of the
country fall beneath their fire.  A feeling of rage and indignation
agitated their breasts, as they fancied some friend might have been thus
cruelly murdered; and brandishing their weapons they uttered a loud
shout of defiance, and a promise of revenge.  They were, however,
obliged to retreat behind shelter, for their appearance was a signal for
the discharge of all the guns in the fort.

"Bismillah!  I wish we had some of their powder and shot, if they can
afford to expend it in this way upon the rocks and trees," exclaimed the
Hadji.  "But whom have the cowards dared thus to murder before our
eyes?"

A young mountaineer, who had been stationed as a scout close to the
fort, now made his appearance.

"Yonder died the traitor squire of Besin Khan, who this morning deceived
us all by false reports," said the youth; "and now he has paid the
penalty of his deceit, for the Russians have vented their rage at their
own defeat on him."

"It is well," exclaimed the Hadji.  "They have saved us a task, for
which they are more fitted."

As it was found impossible to reach the place at which they had
originally intended to stop before night, a nearer konag was fixed upon,
and a messenger sent forward to warn the host of their near approach.

The shades of evening were fast coming on, as they caught sight of a
smiling village, sequestered in a dell amid the mountains, and shaded by
lofty trees.  The chimneys with their curling wreaths of smoke, and the
shepherds driving home their flocks, afforded a scene of rural beauty
and peace, in welcome contrast to that in which they had lately been
engaged.  As our wayfarers reached the dwelling of the chief of the
hamlet, the moon rose above the mountains, throwing her pale golden hue
on their summits, and shedding her rays in a silvery stream amid the
forest glades, and deep into the recesses of the dale.  Numerous
domestic slaves ran out to take the horses of the chiefs, who were
ushered into the guest-house, by the squire of the lord of the mansion;
he himself being absent, mounting guard in the passes from Ghelendjik,
above which they had lately passed.  Ina and her attendants were
delivered over to the care of the wife and daughters of the host.

As Ivan was dismounting, he observed the Armenian merchant regarding the
Russian prisoners with an uneasy look, which was increased when he saw
Karl in close attendance on himself.  Javis also regarded the pedlar
with a scrutinising glance.

"There is something in that man's look that I like not," said he,
addressing Ivan.  "I will watch him closely, for if I mistake not, he
will be found no true friend to Circassia."

As the man, unsuspicious of what was said of him, moved onward with his
pack horses to take up his abode with one of the inhabitants of the
village, of equal rank to himself, Karl came up to Ivan who was standing
under the verandah of the guest-house admiring the scene of loveliness
before him.

"Hist! sir, hist!" he said.  "Did you observe yonder travelling
merchant?  Where did he come from?  I am surprised to see him in such
worshipful company; for if my eyes deceive me not, I saw him a few
nights ago, as I was on guard near the Baron's quarters, pass by me
twice, and each time a light fell upon his features, so that I think I
cannot be mistaken.  He remained closeted with the governor for an hour,
and then took his way towards the mountains."

"Is it, indeed, so?" said Ivan.  "The man must be closely watched; for
it will not be advisable to let a spy go at large.  Here, Javis, I give
it to your charge to watch the pedlar's movements.  My friends seem to
have no suspicion of him; but I will speak to the Hadji, and persuade
him to send some shrewd person to assist you, and act as your guide if
requisite."

As he spoke the Hadji himself appeared, and Ivan lost no time in
mentioning the suspicions which had been raised about the Armenian's
honesty.

"A spy do you think he is?" he replied; "I suspected the fellow was a
knave when he tried to persuade the Prince of Pchad that there was no
use in contending with Russia.  No use, forsooth!  We shewed them as
much to-day.  But this fellow shall be watched, and he shall pay dearly
if he proves treacherous."

"You are silent, my son; of what are you thinking?"

"I am thinking of a dear friend I once had who is in the ranks of the
enemy," replied Ivan.  "He is a noble Pole, who, did he know the true
state of this country, would, I feel confident, be ready to shed his
best blood in our cause instead of against us.  I saved his life to-day;
and I long to find means to see him and to bring him over to our party.
Say, my father, how I can accomplish it?"

"I scarcely know," replied the Hadji.  "We might send some one on some
pretext into the fort; but these Russian rascals are grown suspicious of
late, and our young men cannot now play them the tricks they were wont
to do.  It was a bad system; and our elders put a stop to it.  It was at
one time a common custom for the young men to go to the Urus, and
pretend to be great friends, and then to carry off all the presents they
could get, and laugh at their beards.  You must now, however, bide your
time, and perhaps something may happen, before long, to favour your
wishes."

Their conversation was interrupted by the announcement that the evening
meal was served, and at the same time their host arrived from his guard.
Throwing off his large dark-coloured watch cloak as he entered, he
offered his welcome to all his guests, and congratulations on the
success of their recent exploit.

Volume 2, Chapter XIII.

The rage and fury of the Baron Galetzoff was ungovernable when, instead
of his troops returning with a number of prisoners, the Tchernemorskoi
Cossacks first arrived in disorder and dismay at the fort, giving news
of the entire defeat of his well-laid plan to entrap the chief Arslan
Gherrei and his followers, and of the dangerous situation in which the
fugitives had left the infantry.  He lost no time in ordering out fresh
troops to cover their retreat, and he smiled with grim satisfaction when
he heard that the instigator of the plan had fallen.  He determined to
wreak his vengeance on the hostage who remained, as having forfeited his
life by the failure of the enterprise.

The traitor Kiru, suspecting that something had gone wrong from the
bustle and excitement around, made a desperate and nearly successful
attempt to escape, when he was dragged back by the soldiers, manacled,
and chained to a stake, with a strong guard placed over him.  No sooner
did the governor return from succouring his defeated troops than the
prisoner was summoned before him.

"Traitor! you have deceived me!" he exclaimed.  "Instead of capturing
one of your chiefs, my troops have been defeated; and before another
hour has passed you shall die."

The Tartar looked at him fearlessly.

"If I die," he said, "my master and my tribe will amply revenge me; you
dare not slay me."

"Do you speak, barbarian, of your master?" said the governor.  "Your
traitorous master now is a rotting corpse among the bodies of my brave
fellows whom he betrayed!  Expect not help from him."

The traitor started at these words, and his courage seemed to give way.
"Russian, speak you the words of truth?  Has my master indeed fallen?"
demanded the prisoner.

"I tell you the truth," replied the general.  "Your master has received
the reward of his treachery; and you shall soon follow his fate.  I give
you ten minutes to prepare; after that you die.  Lead him away!" he
cried to the guards who held the prisoner.

"Since my master has fallen, what have I more to do with life?  I spit
at you--I laugh at your threats.  Do with me as you will, but I will yet
be revenged."  And with herculean strength, throwing aside the soldiers
who held him, he had nearly reached the throat of the governor when he
was felled to the ground.  He was again manacled and led off, using
every epithet of abuse, to shew his scorn of his executioners.

At the lapse of the specified time, he was led outside the ramparts of
the fort, where he was again chained to a stake to prevent any chance of
his escape.  His shallow grave was dug beneath his feet.  His courage
was indeed worthy of a better fate and better cause, for he quailed not
during the preparations.

A company of soldiers advanced; and as they presented their muskets he
shook his manacled and clenched hands at them in an attitude of
defiance, and uttering, with a dreadful shriek, the war-cry of his
tribe, his body was pierced with innumerable wounds.  Ere the yet warm
clay had ceased to vibrate with the pulse of life, the corpse was thrown
into the shallow hole prepared for it, and instantly covered up; so that
in a few minutes from the time a human being had stood there with all
the energy and strength of life, he was for ever hidden from the sight
of men, and a little new turned up earth alone marked the spot of the
tragedy.

None can pity the fate of Kim, which he so richly deserved, though not
at the hands of his executioners.  But it would be fortunate for the
Russian name if it were not stained with atrocities of a much darker
hue.  The garrison of the fort remained all the rest of the day in a
state of watchfulness and alarm, in expectation of an attack from the
mountaineers, whom they thought their weakened state might tempt to come
down upon them, if a sufficient force could be assembled in the
neighbourhood; their fears however were groundless, for the day passed
away without any further appearance of the enemy.

Some hours after dark, a figure was perceived by the outer picket
stealing cautiously from beneath the shadow of the cliffs towards his
post.  The person, on being challenged, gave the sign and countersign,
and was allowed to pass to the gate of the fort, where, the like caution
being employed, he was admitted, and conducted to the quarters of the
governor.  The Baron looked up on seeing him enter, with an expression
of satisfaction.

"Ah! my faithful Armenian," he exclaimed, "I rejoice to see you return
here in safety.  What news do you bring me from the enemy's country?  Do
the barbarians think of attacking us?"

"I bring you some news which may please you, noble General, though not
much of general importance," replied the seeming Armenian, in very good
Russian.

"Let me hear it quickly then; for I require some good news to put me in
spirits after the disaster of the morning:" said the governor.  "And how
came you not to give me warning that so large a body of Circassians were
on the move?"

"I knew not of it myself till the moment I saw the troops engaged,"
answered the spy.

"Well, well, I believe you: but your news now," said the General.

"In the first place the barbarians are meditating some exploit--though I
yet know not what, but will discover to-morrow--under the guidance of
that old rebel Guz Beg, who has just returned from a pilgrimage to
Mecca, and has lost no time in inciting his countrymen to fresh outrages
against you, their rightful masters.  He nearly cut my throat when he
heard me trying to persuade old Mahmood, the Prince of Pchad, to send in
his allegiance to the Emperor.  I was obliged to hold my tongue to save
my neck.  The Hadji, as he is now called, touched at some place in the
north of Turkey, Varna I believe, and there picked up a young Russian,
as he seems, though he speaks the Circassian language, and two
followers, who act as his squire and page.  They at all events are
Russian, for I heard them conversing together, and I have my strong
suspicions that their master is an officer of the Emperor who has
deserted, for I heard him speaking to one of the prisoners, whom he took
to-day, as an old acquaintance, calling the man Karl."

"It is he!" almost shouted the General.  "I guessed it from the moment
you spoke of him.  May curses rest on the traitor's head!  One whom I
had adopted as my son!  But I will punish him for his vile ingratitude.
That knave, who was taken prisoner, or rather deserted, was once in
attendance on him, and a slave of mine.  Now mark me.  I will give a
handsome reward to any who delivers them into my power.  Are you ready
to gain it?"

"I would do any thing to please you, General, much more to gain a
reward," answered the spy.  "But I know not how to manage it."

"It must be done," said the Baron.  "Entice him near the fort, when he
may be taken prisoner, or watch his movements, and perchance he may be
found sleeping in the neighbourhood, when I will send a strong body to
capture him.  But mark me, I must have him brought before me a prisoner,
and my orders are not to be disobeyed.  Follow what plan you will; I
would rather have his head than that of a thousand Circassians."

"Your orders shall be obeyed, General," answered the spy.  "And I will
set my wits to work for the purpose."

"Remember your reward shall be great if you succeed.  You may now
return, or you may be missed by the barbarians, and fail not to come
to-morrow night with the report of your proceedings."

"I will obey your orders, Baron, without fail," replied the spy, as,
bowing, he retired out of the fort, and returned to the village he had
left, without the slightest suspicion that his movements had been
observed.

We must now follow the steps of our hero's faithful squire, Javis, who
was keeping a strict watch on the house in which the Armenian merchant
had taken up his abode, in company with an active, clever youth, whom
the Hadji had sent to act as his guide.  They had not long to wait
before they saw the Armenian issue from the house, telling his host that
he must, before night was over, pay a visit to the chief of the village,
to settle about some goods he had sold him, as he might be obliged to
start early on his way.  To deceive his host he first took the path to
the chiefs house of whom he had spoken; then, turning abruptly, he
hastened in the direction of the fort of Ghelendjik.  Following him at
the same speed, over hill and dale, through brake and stream, Javis and
his guide traced him till he arrived in the neighbourhood of the fort.

Fortunately for their design, the moon was now obscured by some dark
clouds; and, leaving the lad under shelter of some rocks, the Gipsy
crept cautiously forward, till he arrived close to the picquet, where he
heard the password given, and the Armenian, who addressed a few words to
the guard in Russian, was instantly allowed to proceed.  Remaining
cautiously concealed, Javis waited till he again saw the spy pass from
the fort, and heard the officer on guard give him the password for the
following night--"The Eagle of Russia"--when the man set off rapidly
towards the interior.  Dodging his steps, Javis traced him to the house
he had left.

Outside the house of the chief, Javis found the Hadji and Ivan anxiously
waiting his return, to whom he related what he had seen.

"Let the knave rest to-night," said the former, "to-morrow we will give
him a surprise he little dreams of.  He can do us but little harm now."

"I have thought of a plan," said Javis, "by which you can communicate
with Lieutenant Stanisloff, without danger either to him or to yourself.
I heard the password given for to-morrow night, and I propose to
personate the treacherous Armenian, and gain admittance to the fort,
where I will trust to my own wits to find out your friend, and give him
your message, and to escape without seeing the governor, who would
probably discover me.  What say you, Sir, to my plan?  Shall I attempt
it?"

"Though I long to see my friend, I would not that you should run so
great a risk; for were you discovered, your death would be certain,"
said Ivan.

"O fear not for me, Sir," replied Javis, "my life is of but little value
to any one, and the danger is not so great as it appears; for those
thick-headed Russians are not likely to distinguish me at night from the
Armenian.  I shall also, I have no doubt, be able to gain some further
information from the man to-morrow."

The next morning the Armenian appeared with his packs on his horses'
backs, as if prepared for a journey.  He smilingly saluted the chiefs
who were assembled in front of the guest-house; but alarm took the place
of his smiles, when he observed the stern looks which met him on every
side; and more so when he found himself surrounded by a number of their
armed followers.

"Whither go you so fast, Armenian?" said the Hadji, sternly.  "Are you
hastening to visit your friends the Urus?  What, do you turn pale?  Drag
the treacherous spy from his horse," he added, turning to his
attendants, "and bring him along.  We will judge his case; and if he
prove guilty, he knows the punishment of spies."

The unfortunate pedlar trembled violently as he was dragged along to an
open glade surrounded by trees, at a short distance from the village.
Here the chiefs soon assembled, as well as several rich Tocavs or
yeomen, and other influential men in the neighbourhood, who were
summoned to give the criminal the fairest trial.

The judges seated themselves, with due formality and gravity, in a
semi-circle, on a grassy bank, when the terror-stricken Armenian was
brought before them.  The witnesses against him, Javis and his guide,
were also summoned into their presence.  Javis first gave his evidence,
which Ivan interpreted, as also did his guide.

"Said you not, Armenian, that you were a man of peace, and a friend to
the Atteghei?" demanded the chief of the village, who acted as
president.  "See that you have not spoken lies, and proved that you are
a friend of our enemies.  Answer this one question: where went you last
night?"

"Where went I?" tremblingly echoed the Armenian.  "I went forth from the
house of my good konag, to cool my brow after the heat of the day.
Surely I went no where beyond the hamlet."

"Oh thou son of the evil one!  Think you to elude our vigilance?  Answer
truly, or you die on the spot.  Why went you to the camp of our
enemies?"

"Oh! spare my life, noble chiefs!" cried the Armenian, falling on his
knees.  "I am but a poor trader, and I went but to sell my goods.  Oh
slay me not, valiant nobles!"

"Do you not know that it is prohibited to have any dealings with the
enemy?" said the president.  "And of what use are such goods as you
carry to the Urus?  But you are full of lies.  You went without your
goods, secretly, and by night.  You know the enemy's password.  You were
seen to enter their fort, and shortly after to return.  Your own words
condemn you.  What say you, Uzdens?" turning to the other judges, "has
the Armenian proved himself to be innocent, or is he guilty?"

The chiefs, all standing up, pronounced the solemn words of the wretch's
doom--

"He is guilty: let him die the death of a spy."

The miserable being had not a word to plead in his own defence; but
loudly crying for mercy, he lifted up his hands in an imploring
attitude; for well he knew the dreadful fate prepared for him.  The
stern warriors relaxed not their features as they motioned to the
attendants to lead him away.  His crime was of the greatest magnitude,
and no mercy could be granted him; not a voice spoke in his favour; not
an eye turned with pity towards him.

At some distance from the hamlet was a lofty and perpendicular cliff, at
whose base, over a rough rocky bed, roared a foaming and rapid torrent.
The wretched Armenian, without any further delay, was dragged up a steep
pathway to the summit of the cliff, where, by order of the Hadji, he was
stripped of his high Astracan fur cap, his dark robe, and the
appurtenances of his trade, and then led, shrieking, forward, to the
edge of the precipice.  As he thus saw his dreadful fate approaching, he
screamed loudly for mercy and pardon; but his cries fell on the ears of
those whom a fierce exterminating war had rendered deaf to pity for
their cruel foes.

As he stood, shivering with terror, on the very edge of the frightful
chasm, in a last fit of desperation, he seized hold of those who stood
near, endeavouring to drag them down with him; but his hands were torn
from their hold; and two powerful slaves, appointed as his executioners,
lifting him from the ground, hurled him, with tremendous exertion, far
over the edge of the cliff.  A last shriek of despairing agony alone
escaped him, as he fell headlong into the dark abyss, grasping at the
empty air, and seeking to find some hold to prolong life, even for a few
moments.  So deep was the chasm, that not a sound was heard, as he
struck the shallow and rocky bed of the stream; and its waters whirled
the mangled frame far out of sight.

"Thus, let all spies and traitors die!" exclaimed the multitude, as they
retired from the scene of execution.

Volume 2, Chapter XIV.

Reports were abroad in the neighbourhood of Ghelendjik, that the
Russians intended to make some movement from their fortifications; so
that, in the hopes of finding occupation for their swords, the Hadji and
Achmet Beg determined to remain on the spot to assist their friends; and
Ivan gladly availed himself of the opportunity of endeavouring to
communicate with Thaddeus.  Arslan Gherrei was also persuaded by the
Hadji to remain, to lend his powerful aid in repelling their foes, and
to give his daughter Ina a longer period to recover from her fatigue.

Ivan anxiously looked forward to the evening, when Javis was to make his
attempt to enter the fort, and he determined to accompany him near the
walls, in the hope of meeting Thaddeus.

Every body was eager for information respecting the movements of the
Russians, some spending the day in anxiously watching the fort, while
others were occupied in deep deliberation as to their future
proceedings.  The Dehli Khans, or young men, employed themselves in
those warlike exercises which inure their bodies to fatigue, and make
them hardy warriors.

By the Hadji's direction, the dress of the Armenian was given up to
Javis.  When the evening drew on, and he appeared habited in it, the
bystanders started with amazement, thinking that the pedlar had arisen
from the dead, so completely had he disguised himself.  As soon as it
was dark, he set forward, led by his former guide, and accompanied by
Ivan, whose anxiety for the safety of his follower, and desire to see
his friend, made him wish to remain as near as possible until the
adventure should be terminated.

As Javis arrived at the outer picquet, he gave the right answer to the
sentry's challenge, and was allowed to pass on, while Ivan remained
concealed among the rocks.

"Who goes there?" cried the sentinel, at the gates of the fort.

"A friend to Russia," he answered.  "The word, `The Eagle of Russia.'"

The drawbridge was lowered.  The pretended Armenian entered the fort.
The officer of the guard, unsuspicious of any deceit, ordered a soldier
to conduct the spy to the quarters of the governor.

As the adventurer and his guard got beyond hearing of the people at the
gates--

"My friend," said the former, addressing the soldier in Russian, and
slipping some coin into his hand, "I know my way to the governor's
quarters well enough by this time; here, take this to carouse with.  You
have a hard life of it here, I suspect.  Ah! you thought I could not
speak in your own language.  Why, man, I come from your part of the
country, and would ask a favour of you.  I am in no hurry to see the
governor, so we will not hasten, as I am before the time appointed, and
he loves not irregularity.  Now say, how do you like the life you lead
here?"

"Why, I do not like it at all," answered the man; "for we have nothing
but hard blows, and get no rest from those infernal mountaineers, as we
cannot tell from one moment to another when they may be upon us.  If we
wander but a few yards beyond the fort, some of our men are certain to
be picked off by their rifles.  Then there is no booty to be gained, nor
amusement of any sort."

"You do not draw a very pleasant picture of your life here, my friend,"
said Javis, "and I suppose that is the reason why so many of your men
desert to the enemy, where they are sure to be well treated, and have
little work to do.  Sometimes, too, they marry the beautiful women of
the country; and, as there are plenty of warriors in the land, they are
not obliged to fight against their countrymen.  For my part, I wonder
the General can keep any of his soldiers around him; but I would not
breathe such an idea in the camp.  Now, my friend, do you know
Lieutenant Stanisloff of the 76th regiment?"

"Do I know Lieutenant Stanisloff?  Yes, surely," answered the soldier,
"I am his servant, and a kind master he is to me.  This night it is his
turn for picquet duty, so that he will be in his quarters, if he has not
yet started."

"Will you then, my friend, hasten and call him hither," said Javis, as
they arrived near a row of wretched huts appropriated to the junior
officers.  "Whisper to him that some one has something of importance to
communicate.  Remember to tell no one about the happy lives the
deserters lead among the Circassians.  It might be said that I was
persuading you to go over to them, and that would not be acting the part
of a friend to Russia."

Javis retired below the eaves of a storehouse, where, in the dark shade,
he could remain free from observation, while in other parts of the fort
the scene was one of bustle and animation.  Groups of soldiers were
seated round their fires, cooking their suppers; others gambling on a
drum head for their scanty allowance of pay.  Numbers surrounded the
suttlers' booths and huts where spirits were sold, quaffing, as their
only resource from misery, huge bickers of quass and glasses of vodka.
Here parties were marching and countermarching to relieve guard, their
firm regular tread heard above the din and clatter of the camp.

In a few minutes Thaddeus appeared, wrapped in his cloak, prepared for
his night guard.  On seeing Javis he seemed annoyed, as with a tone of
contempt he addressed him.

"What want you with me, Armenian?  If you have any of your worthy
communications to make, I should have thought that the governor was the
fittest person to whom a spy should make his report."

"Hist, Sir," said Javis; "draw nearer--you mistake me.  I bring a
message from one who loves you, and who will not be happy till he has
seen you again.  Do you not remember the night you passed in the Gipsy's
camp near Tver?  There you last saw me."

"Do my senses deceive me?" exclaimed Thaddeus; "are you not the Armenian
spy who has for so long brought us information from the enemy?"

"Outwardly you see that I am; but I would not that my soul should be
where his now is.  But to my message.  Your friend, Ivan Galetzoff, is
now waiting for you close to the fort.  He has much to say to you.
Shall I tell him that you will come; you can have no difficulty, as I
can assure you that no attack will be made on the fort to-night."

Thaddeus scarcely hesitated a moment before he answered, "Yes, yes, say
that I will go, at all hazards, to see him.  Where shall I find him?"

"Do you remember a peculiar rock jutting out over the sands, its top
overhung by a large tree?  Close to that rock I will wait for you, and
conduct you to him."

"Go then, my friend; I will trust to you.  But how can you leave the
fort?  Are you not afraid the governor will discover you?" said
Thaddeus.

"I have no fear, and may easily deceive him."

"Fortune favour your hazardous adventure, my friend!  I must hasten to
my post," said Thaddeus.

Directing his servant to accompany the pretended Armenian to the Baron's
quarters, he hurried off, and Javis followed the soldier's steps.

It was a trying moment for Javis when he entered the Baron's presence;
but his eye quailed not before his fierce imperious glance, as,
imitating the Armenian's manner, he bowed before him.

"You have returned in good time, my faithful messenger," said the Baron.
"Have the barbarians yet formed their plans to attack the fort?"

"They have given up all hopes of doing so with success, noble General,"
replied Javis undauntedly, "and have begun to disperse to their several
homes."

"That is well," replied the General.  "And tell me, what plan have you
formed to entrap the young renegade who bears my name?  I must have him
in my power by to-morrow night, at furthest."

"I have thought of several plans, General, which I think may succeed;
but I have a difficult game to play, as I fear that I am already
suspected by the barbarians, and I should not have ventured to return
to-night but that you seemed to wish it.  I would not be away longer
than possible, so by your leave, General, I will return at once."

"You may go, man," said the Baron: "and let me hear from you to-morrow."

"I will obey your orders without fail," answered Javis, bowing as he
hastened from the hut, at the door of which he found his friend the
soldier waiting to conduct him to the gates.

"If a Russian escapes from the fort to the Circassians, you are certain
that he is well treated by them?" asked the man.

"O yes, my friend, they receive him with open arms," answered Javis.
"But you must not now speak to me.  We may meet again soon:--farewell!"

The adventurer was allowed to go through the gates without question, and
passing the picquets, he hastened to the spot he had indicated to
Thaddeus, where, sheltered beneath an overhanging rock, he waited his
coming for some time, till he began to fear that something might have
occurred to prevent his leaving his post.  At length his quick ear
caught the sound of footsteps, and to his summons in a low voice,
Thaddeus himself answered.

Javis then led the way up a small ravine overhung by trees, under the
dark shade of which he had left his master.  Ivan was anxiously waiting
the coming of his friend, and as he caught sight of him he dashed
forward, and the two friends were in each others arms.

"You knew not," said Ivan, "that I was a Circassian; but I am prouder to
bear that name than to be the highest rank the Emperor of Russia can
bestow.  But, Thaddeus, my tried, my earliest friend, it takes away from
the happiness I feel at meeting you again, to see you in the garb of the
enemies of my country, armed against her liberty and her rights."

"Oh do not taunt me thus, my friend," replied Thaddeus, "for, believe
me, I do not now willingly follow the standard of your enemies.  But how
could I do otherwise?  My father remains an hostage in their hands, and
should I desert from their ranks, they would visit their vengeance upon
him."

"But why draw your sword at all, when against the cause of liberty?"
exclaimed Ivan.  "Surely your father himself would rather see you follow
any other pursuit."

"Can you speak thus, Ivan, who are a soldier as well as I am?  Would you
persuade me to lead a life of indolent peace?"

"Then, my dear Thaddeus, quit that hated standard, under which you now
serve, and you will be welcomed, by the noble warriors of this country,
with open arms," exclaimed Ivan.  "They love the Poles, for they have
heard of the wrongs of Poland, and feel for her children the affection
of brothers."

"Ivan, my friend, you wring my heart," cried Thaddeus passionately.  "I
feel the justice of your cause; but I have become a soldier of the
Emperor.  And would you have me, like a traitor, desert my colours?  I
was wrong to enter his service; but I sought for military glory,
regardless of the cause for which I fought.  Doubly did I feel how wrong
I had been, when yesterday I saw the desperate bravery of your
countrymen driving thrice the numbers of the slavish soldiery of Russia
before them.  To you, Ivan, I owe my life; for had not your sword been
raised to shield my head, I should at once have finished my career; and
it was at that moment only I first recognised you.  Yet do not think me
ungrateful if I still remain on the side of your enemies."

"Speak not of gratitude, Thaddeus," answered Ivan; "but let me draw you
from the ranks of my foes, and from certain destruction."

"No, Ivan; deeply as I mourn the fate which divides us, I cannot change
it while the Emperor claims the services I once tendered to him.  That I
love you, my coming here stealthily and alone shews; for I have already
been guilty of deserting my post; but I did so in the assurance that no
surprise would be attempted on the fort, and that I risked not the lives
of my companions in arms.  That a love of quiet does not prompt my
refusal to join you, will be evident from the life we all lead in the
fort; and I in particular am subject to every annoyance which the hatred
and tyranny of Baron Galetzoff can inflict.  But I refuse, Ivan,
because, as a soldier, my duty will not allow me to quit my standard,
till I am absolved from my oath of allegiance; and also because I would
not expose my father to persecution on my account."

"Thaddeus, my friend, you have convinced me against my wish," exclaimed
Ivan.  "I see your just and disinterested reasons, and have but to mourn
the hard fate which thus places us on opposing sides.  Still let us be
joined in heart, and endeavour to mitigate the horrors of this war."

"That I will do as far as lies in my power," said Thaddeus.  "But now,
my friend, I must hasten back to my post, or I may be missed.  I have
many enemies who would make the utmost of any departure from duty.  The
Count Erintoff, who has lately arrived here, and who knows I am your
friend, is my colonel, and would gladly find an excuse for ruining me."

"Ah!" exclaimed Ivan, "I long to meet that man in the field, to punish
him for his atrocities."

"He well deserves punishment; but I must not speak of him; and now,
farewell.  I know not when we may meet again; but believe me, my
friendship will ever remain unchanged."

Saying which, Thaddeus warmly clasped his friend's hand, and hastened
back to resume the post he had quitted.

Javis and the guide, who had retired to a short distance during the
conference, now approached; and on their way back to the village, Javis
related to his master his adventures in the fort.  As Ivan entered the
guest-house, the Hadji started up from his couch, eager to hear an
account of his adventures, laughing heartily at the success of Javis's
disguise, and of the defeat of the plan to entrap him.

"So the General of the Urus thinks we are prepared to attack him, does
he?" he exclaimed.  "Bismillah! we will make his fears come true.  I
shall not sleep all night for thinking of some plan to surprise him."

Volume 2, Chapter XV.

How often in our lives have we been obliged to quit some delightful
abode, or some enchanting scene of pleasure, to visit places and persons
we dislike, or to mix in the coarse bustle of the vulgar world! and thus
must we once again lead our readers from the beautiful and romantic
scenery of Circassia, and from its gallant inhabitants, to the detested
castle of Ghelendjik, and into the presence of its fierce governor.

The Baron Galetzoff had just returned from riding round the
fortifications, and was about to throw himself on his couch for the
night, when his servant entered the room to announce Count Erintoff.
Throwing his cloak around him, he angrily arose to receive his guest.

"You come at an unseasonable hour, Count," he said, with a harsh tone.
"Am I to have no rest either from friends or foes?  What brings you
here?"

"I come with news which may interest you; but for your private ear,
General," returned the Count, looking at the servant who remained.

"Why stay you here?  Begone, sirrah," exclaimed the Baron to the man,
who hastily disappeared.  "Now, Count, your news," he continued, turning
to his guest, and relaxing his features a little.  "It is late, and I
would try to seek some rest; so pray no delay."

"My news is not of much general importance," returned the Count; "but to
you, Baron, it may afford some satisfaction.  At length I have found
that immaculate officer, Lieutenant Stanisloff, tripping, if indeed I do
not succeed in proving him a traitor.  As he was to mount one of the
outer guards to-night, it occurred to me that he might perhaps
communicate with that arch-traitor, your once adopted son, whom, as I
told you, I recognised among the horde of the mountain barbarians we
were engaged with yesterday.  I, therefore, having gone my rounds,
waited for some time, and returned to his post; but when summoned, he
did not answer: he was nowhere to be found.  I, therefore, left my
orderly to watch him, enjoining secrecy, and called others to witness
that he was absent from his post, in the face of the enemy.  My orderly
has just come in to say, that after a long absence, he returned from the
direction of the mountains.  He is, therefore, entirely in your power;
but I would not seize him without first consulting your wishes."

"Then haste, seize him, and bring him here at once," said the Baron.
"To-morrow he shall die."

The Count hurried off to obey, and during his absence, which lasted some
time, the Baron strode up and down the room in an angry mood.

At length the Count returned with Thaddeus Stanisloff, his prisoner,
strongly guarded.

"So, Lieutenant Stanisloff," said the Baron, glaring fiercely at him,
"you have been absent from your post when before the enemy.  You have
held conversation with an arch-traitor to the Emperor, and you are
suspected of an intention to desert your colours."

"Whoever accuses me," exclaimed Thaddeus, returning the Baron's look
firmly, "speaks a foul and slanderous falsehood, if he says that I am,
or ever have been wanting, in my allegiance to the Emperor."

"I accuse you," cried the Count stepping forward.  "I myself discovered
that you were absent from your post."

"I grant it," replied Thaddeus firmly; "and I await my punishment; but,
beyond that, whoever was your informer is a vile slanderer."

"Know you not that even for what you acknowledge to have done, your
punishment is death?" said the Baron.  "Confess therefore where you
went, or expect no mercy."

"I expect no mercy at your hands," answered Thaddeus.  "If I deserve
death, I am prepared to meet it."

"Hear me, obstinate youth," cried the Baron, "you have held some
communication with my once reputed son.  You may do so again, but in the
company of some trusty guards; and if I can see him safe within the
walls of this fort, not only shall you go free, and your crime be
overlooked, but your rise shall be rapid in the army, and honours and
distinctions shall await you."

At these words the prisoner seemed to gasp for breath.  "Baron
Galetzoff, I am in your power," he exclaimed, "or you should pay dear
for such an insult as you have now offered me.  Think you that a son of
my unhappy and enslaved country can be sunk so low as to hear calmly
such vile propositions?  No! you have torn us from our homes, you have
taken from us our lands, you have ravaged our fields, you have
overthrown our kingdom, and ruined our once proud families; but you
cannot take from us our honour.  I have ever been faithful to your
Emperor, our conqueror.  I defy your malice.  I will speak no more."

The Baron's own stern eye sunk before the noble indignation of the
prisoner, as standing before him without trembling, he folded his arms
on his breast.  "Madman," cried the Baron furiously, "you bring your
doom on your own head.  No power in heaven or earth shall save you."

Thaddeus spoke not, but looking towards heaven seemed to implore its
aid.

"Colonel Erintoff," continued the governor, "I commit this prisoner to
your charge, and you will take measures that he does not escape."

"I will strictly obey your orders, General," said the Count with a
significant and sinister look.

Closely guarded, Thaddeus was led out and placed in a miserable hut,
built to serve the purpose of a prison for the fort.

He passed a wretched night, heavily ironed.  Indignation at the Baron's
base propositions at first smothered all thoughts of his own impending
fate.  He rejoiced that Ivan had escaped; but he longed to warn him of
the danger he ran; and the impossibility of doing so added to the
poignancy of his feelings.  By degrees the conviction of his own
miserable destiny crept on him.

"How dark!  How wretched is all around me," he cried in the agony of his
spirit.  "Do thus end all my hopes of military glory?  Must I die with
my once proud name blackened and disgraced; my character as an officer
maligned?  My father's last few and sad days hastened by the foul
history of his son's disgrace and untimely death?  I cannot bear such
thoughts!  Oh that Ivan's unkind sword had rather cut me down on the
field of battle, than saved me for this end!  Little does he think that
my anxiety to see him has been the cause of this misery.  No! there is
no hope, no glimpse of light left me in the world.  Let me prepare then
to meet my inevitable fate like a man, and then my comrades in arms may
at least say, that I died with courage and firmness.  And, oh heaven!
give me strength to bear my lot."

He prayed, and ere the morning broke he slept calmly, even on the hard
ground, in sweet forgetfulness of his doom.

He was awakened by the entrance of a soldier with an open letter, sent
by his brutal gaoler, in hopes of adding to his misery.  It was from his
father's kind friend announcing the death of his parent, his last words
being blessings on his son.

"Heaven be praised," he cried, falling on his knees, "that misery has
been spared me.  The rest will be easy to bear."  And with a serene
countenance he prepared to meet whatever might follow.

Count Erintoff soon after made his appearance; he was received by
Thaddeus with the most haughty coldness.  "I come to learn," said the
Count, "whether you have thought better of the Governor's propositions,
and are prepared to accede to them, or meet the fate you deserve."

"Were I tied to the stake, I would spurn the vile offer, as I do now,"
replied the prisoner.  "I have no more to say."

"If such is your answer, expect no mercy," replied the Count fiercely,
and he quitted the prison, greatly to the occupant's relief.

Thaddeus was left for some hours to his meditations, when, his prison
doors opening, a file of soldiers appeared to conduct him before the
Court Martial assembled to try him.

"I fear that it will go hard with you, Stanisloff," said the officer in
charge of the men, casting a look of pity on the prisoner.  "You must be
prepared for the worst."

"Fear not for me, my friend," answered Thaddeus; "but I trust that
neither you nor my brother officers will judge me harshly, though I am
fully convinced of the result of my trial."

"Think not that your character will suffer," answered the other.  "We
all feel a warm interest in your fate."

"That is already settled," said the prisoner.  "I am ready to accompany
you."

When placed before the principal officers of the garrison, his trial
proceeded as was to be expected, when the Governor had determined on his
condemnation.  He was clearly convicted of having left the post he had
been placed to guard, by his own colonel as witness; but when there was
some demur as to his having communicated with the enemy, two servants of
Count Erintoff's stepped forward, and swore positively to having seen
him speaking to one of the chiefs of the Circassians, and having
overheard him promise to give them timely notice of any movement among
the Russians.

Though great doubt was thrown on the credibility of the men, who were
known to be bad characters, yet as their own Colonel swore to their
honesty, they were received as witnesses.  Notwithstanding the
preponderance of the influence against him there was a strong feeling in
favour of the prisoner, both in the court and throughout the garrison.
So great indeed had the ferment become, when it was reported that he was
condemned to die, (most people being convinced that his sentence was
unjust), that the Count expressed his fears to the Governor that a
general outbreak would be the consequence, if measures were carried to
extremities with the prisoner.

"We shall see," cried the Baron, furiously, "if my authority is not of
more avail; however, I will disappoint their hopes, if they think to
save the prisoner."

After sentence of death had been passed on Thaddeus, he was led back to
prison, there to await his execution, while the Governor summoned the
Count to his private councils.

A fort had been lately erected between Anapa and Ghelendjik, during a
time when the greater part of the patriot forces were engaged in another
part of the country, some occupied in attending a religious festival,
and others in agricultural pursuits, so that the few who remained to
guard the coast, were unable to defeat the object of the Russians when
first landing; and in a day or so, by the time others arrived to their
assistance, the entrenchments had become too strong to attack.  The
garrison left in it had lately been much reduced by disease, and had
also lost many men in a party foraging for wood and water, so that the
Baron determined on sending reinforcements thither, and also to despatch
the Count there with the culprit, under the plea of inspecting the
fortifications.

"He is there, a stranger," he added, with a hideous smile.  "And while
those here are left in doubt of his fate, you Count, can take the order
for his execution."

"I shall obey your orders, General, and hope to return in a few days,
with an account of their having been fulfilled," replied the Count, as
he left the quarters of the Governor, to make arrangements for his
voyage.

Thaddeus was fully prepared for his coming fate, expecting every moment
to be dragged forth to execution; and was much astonished, therefore, to
find himself at the close of the day, placed on board a brig of war,
without any notice having been given him of his destination.  For a
moment, as he was being conducted down to the shore, his faithful
servant found an opportunity of approaching him, for the purpose of
uttering his farewell.

"Do not be down-hearted, Sir," he whispered.  "You may be saved ere you
expect it.  I have discovered where you are going, and I will aid you,
or die for it."

Thaddeus was then hurried on board with four companies of soldiers,
under the orders of the Count, when the brig instantly made sail to the
northward; but as the winds were light, she made no progress during the
night.  As she was standing close in shore the next morning, several
shot from rifles pierced her sails, and a party of horsemen were seen
galloping along the edge of the cliffs.  The brig's guns were instantly
discharged, but the balls struck the hard rocks alone, the deep sound
echoing along the shore.  The horsemen had disappeared; but several
other shot from various directions, hit the vessel; and the commander
seeing how useless it would be to contend with his scattered and
concealed foes, giving a parting salute, stood further out to sea.

Thaddeus all the time was kept below, in a state of the greatest
suspense; no one being allowed to hold any communication with him.  Very
light and variable winds detained them on their voyage; so that it was
not till the end of the day, that they reached their destination, though
the distance was but short.

The fort, to which Thaddeus was conveyed, was built further from the
sea, than that of Ghelendjik, nor could it be so well protected by the
guns of a fleet, as that fortress; but, from the nature of its position,
it was almost equally strong.  There was, however, a securely fortified
way from it to the sea, with which a communication could always be kept
up, without fear of interruption from the Circassians.

The scenery round it was barren and savage; huge dark rocks rising on
all sides from the sandy shore, broken into fantastic forms, appearing
like castles towering above the plain.  The fortress was built of dark
stones quarried, from the neighbouring rocks, on a ledge rising
gradually from the shore, and running far inland.  It stood on the
eastern, or furthest inland point of this ledge; a steep and almost
perpendicular cliff protecting it on one side, while in front, there
being a smooth green surface, and gradual descent on the plain, its
defences depended on its guns, being so placed as to sweep the ground
with showers of grape.

A sandy and barren ground extended for some way in front, and on one
side, a succession of low rugged rocks formed a considerable protection.
The site had been chosen on account of the shelter afforded to the
ships of war by a bay in the neighbourhood.

On reaching the shore, the Count ordered Thaddeus to be conducted to a
strong prison in the fort; while he himself went round to inspect the
fortifications.  The reinforcement he had brought with him was gladly
welcomed by the commanding officer, who complained much of the small
garrison, which was left to protect the fort.

The Count then informed him, that the prisoner he had brought with him
was to be shot the next morning at day-break, by command of the Governor
of Ghelendjik; producing the Baron's written order, desiring him to
acquaint Lieutenant Stanisloff of the fate which awaited him.

The Governor looked with pity on Thaddeus, as he gave the Count's
message; but he himself received it unmoved, and thus addressed the
officer:

"I ask you to defend my fame whenever you hear my name blackened; say
then, that I died true to my colours, and to my oath.  That is my only
request."

"I will do my utmost to defend your character," said the officer.

"Farewell!" exclaimed Thaddeus, "till to-morrow's dawn.  Delay the
execution, if possible, till the sun rises.  I would look once more on
that glorious luminary: his beams will aid my strength."

"It shall be as you wish, if I can possibly so arrange it," returned the
officer, as he hastened from the prison, and left Thaddeus again to
meditate in solitude on his impending fate.

The night had at first been serene and beautiful, but towards morning,
sudden gusts of wind howled through the rocks and buildings of the fort.
The thunder broke in loud peals over head, and flashes of lightning
illuminated the gloom of his small and dark prison, through the bars of
the only aperture to give light and air.  The tumult of the tempest
awoke Thaddeus from a slumber into which he had fallen.  It seemed to
him to rage with greater fury than at first, as he sat up, watching each
bright flash.  The wind had increased to a hurricane.

The tempest, however, quickly passed over, and all was again silent,
except the low sullen roar of the ocean, as its waves dashed on the
rocky and caverned shore, or the distant murmur of the passing blast
among the trees of the neighbouring mountain.

The dawn was about to break.  Thaddeus, whose spirits were exhausted by
his mental sufferings, had thrown himself on the rough log, which formed
the only seat and couch of his prison, and was falling into a quiet
slumber, when he was startled by a fearful shriek, piercing to the
inmost recesses of the fort.  Again and again it arose from all sides,
far louder than the howling of the late tempest, drowning the shouts of
the soldiers, as they rushed to their posts at the walls.  Soon the roar
of artillery, and the rattle of musketry seemed endeavouring to
overpower the sound of that war-cry; but it triumphed over all, and
sounded nearer and nearer.  Thaddeus felt that he could not be mistaken;
he had heard that tremendous shout but a few days before, when attacked
by the mountain cavalry.

The cannon had ceased its roar, when next arose the shouts of the
Russian soldiery; succeeded by thrilling cries for mercy and agonised
groans of despair, answered by the loud, overwhelming huzzas of "Allah!
Allah!" from all sides.  A momentary silence ensued; and then a tramping
of feet, as of men engaged in desperate strife.  Even he, from whom the
fear of death had passed away, felt his heart beat quick, and his breath
almost stopped.  The cries passed close to him; the bullets rattled
against his prison walls; and the flashes of the guns lighted up the
gloom of the chamber.  The strange unearthly noises grew more confused;
the reports of the firing ceased, except a few straggling shots, and the
shouts of the combatants passed on.

Knowing little of the localities of the fort, Thaddeus could not
discover in what direction the combatants had gone, when he again heard
the sound of the rapid steps of a body of men passing close to his
prison.  Presently, loud and quick reports of musketry were heard, and
he concluded that a body of Russians, cut off from their retreat to the
shore, had thrown themselves into some strong building, and were making
a last desperate defence.  They seemed to be successful, as the firing
increased, when an awful pause ensued, a tremendous deafening explosion
took place, as if an earthquake had rent the earth; the prison walls
were shaken to their foundation; the door flew open, and the roof fell
in, overwhelming the prisoner in its ruins.

Volume 2, Chapter XVI.

We must now relate several circumstances, which had occurred while
Thaddeus was being transported from Ghelendjik to the fort in which we
left him.  The words addressed to his servant by Javis, when he visited
the fort in disguise, had sunk deep into the man's mind.  His
imagination had been excited by the picture placed before him of rural
happiness, contrasted so greatly with the wretched life he led in the
camp.  Like his master, he too was a Pole; though not like him, impeded
by any scruples from deserting.  Having heard that his former friend was
among the Circassians, he determined to fly to him for protection, and
to urge him to find some means of rescuing the prisoner; for it was
well-known in the fort whither Thaddeus was to be conveyed.

That night, being on the outer guard, he threw aside his musket and
cloak, and hastily sought his way to the mountains, among which he was
soon seized by some of the many watchful guards placed there.

The Hadji was seated in the guest-house with Ivan, earnestly discussing
various plans for driving their foes from their shores, when their host
arrived with a prisoner.  No sooner did the captive soldier hear Ivan
speak to him, than he shouted with joy, and ran to throw himself at his
feet.

"Oh, Sir," he cried, "it was to find you that I escaped from the
fortress.  My poor master, Lieutenant Stanisloff, has been seized, by
the Governor's orders, because it is said he went out to meet you, and
he is now going to be shot; but every body loved him so much in the
camp, that the Governor is afraid to have him executed there, lest there
should be a mutiny, for which many are fully ready; and he has
consequently sent him to a fort a short distance to the north.  It is
said not to be a very strong place, so you may probably rescue him, if
you take it in time.  I thought this would be the only chance of saving
my poor master's life; and being very wretched at the fort myself, I ran
off to tell you all about it."

"My friend, I am deeply indebted to you," answered Ivan; and he then
explained the man's story to the assembled chiefs.

"Bismillah!" exclaimed the Hadji, jumping up.  "The very thing for us!
We will set forth without delay; and, by the blessing of Allah, we will
take that cursed fort before the sun has risen in the heavens."

"Thanks, my noble father, for your promptitude," cried Ivan.  "No other
leader would I rather follow in rescuing my friend.  I doubt not of
success."

"Stay!" said the Hadji's more cautious brother, Achmet Beg.  "We must
consider the subject.  We have scarce men enough for the enterprise, and
look at the sky.  The light wind that blows comes direct from the place:
the vessel will take some time to reach it, and if we arrive before it,
our object would be lost."

"True," answered Ivan; "you speak well.  In my eagerness to rescue my
friend, I overlooked that point."

"And I too!" added the Hadji.  "Mashallah! when there's fighting in the
case, I am as forgetful of every thing else as the wildest Dehli Khan
among them."

"Then," said Achmet Beg, "I propose that we send forward some trusty
scouts to watch the vessel along the coast, and give notice when she
arrives in the harbour.  In the mean time, we will collect as many
warriors as possible for the enterprise.  What say you, Uzdens?"

"The advice is good," said Arslan Gherrei.  "And I will gladly lead my
few remaining followers to the assault."

"Well, then, that point is settled," cried the eager Hadji; and turning
to their host: "Now, Uzden, will you send out some of your trusty
followers to fasten along the coast to watch the vessel?  And you, my
brother, despatch some of yours to summon all the warriors they can
collect in the neighbourhood.  There is no time to be lost on an
occasion of this sort."

The host hastened to fulfil his part of the arrangement, as did Achmet
Beg also.

Far and near the messengers hastened, in every direction, on their fleet
steeds, giving the word at every hamlet and mountain cot.  The news flew
like lightning, that Hadji Guz Beg had returned from abroad, and had
lost no time in keeping up his old reputation by leading an expedition
against the enemy.  Wherever the messengers passed, the young men seized
their weapons, either rifles or bows, from the walls, girding their
swords to their sides, filling their wallets with meal for their
provision, and throwing their cloaks over their backs.  Thus, fully
equipped at a moment's notice, they hastened to the appointed
rendezvous.  None knew for what exact object the expedition was
intended; but it was enough to know, that it was against the detested
Urus, and that the renowned Guz Beg was to be the leader.

Those nearest to the spot repaired to one of the points of rendezvous
fixed on in a deep valley, about two miles distant from the fort to be
attacked.

Before the sun had attained its greatest height in the heavens, on the
following morning, the Hadji found full six hundred fighting men
assembled under his standard.  Many were chiefs themselves of note,
attracted by the prospect of renown to be gained under the well-known
guidance of so brave a leader.  They came clothed in mail, and attended
by a retinue of horsemen.  Others were sturdy yeomen of good repute in
arms, also on horseback, (with their serfs on foot) anxious to vie with
the knights themselves in gallant deeds.  Some were independent freemen,
coming from their solitary mountain homes, acknowledging no specific
leader, each man fighting for himself, as his inclinations prompted him:
these were armed with rifle, sword and dagger.  Whatever was their rank
or calling, they were all animated with one feeling--the deepest hatred
of the common foe.

While they were preparing to march, a loud shout among the multitude
proclaimed a new arrival; and dashing among the trees, a noble young
cavalier appeared, attended by a band of horsemen of his own age.  The
youth rode forward, as room was made for him; and leaping from his
horse, he threw himself at the Hadji's feet.

"My son! my son! joy of my heart!" exclaimed the Hadji, folding the
slight form of the youth in his gauntleted arms.  "Welcome, thrice
welcome, are you to me at this moment!  Alp, my son, you have not
disappointed my hopes; and may you prove yourself as gallant a warrior
as your appearance would promise!"

Then, as if ashamed of giving vent to his feelings before the assembled
warriors, though still holding the young man's hand, and gazing fondly
at him, he added--

"Alp, you have now become a warrior, and these are no times for rest.
Prove, then, to your countrymen, that you are equal to the bravest."

"I have but to follow your steps, my father, and I fear not that I shall
gain renown."

"Now, my friends," cried the Hadji, tearing himself from his son's side;
"let all men on foot advance, under the guidance of the Uzden Achmet
Beg.  The cavaliers will quickly follow."

Under shelter of the trees, the maidens of the hamlet had assembled to
witness the departure of the warriors, and to encourage them with their
prayers.  Among them was the lovely Ina; her bright eyes regarding not
the youthful cavaliers who careered before her, to win her smiles, but
following her father's lofty crest as he moved about the field.

As he caught sight of his daughter among the women, Arslan Gherrei
sought Ivan's side.

"Young warrior stranger," he said, "I have myself endeavoured to thank
you for your timely rescue, when so hard set by our foes: but my
daughter would do so likewise."

Saying which, he conducted Ivan to the side of Ina; and while they were
speaking, he himself stood for some time entranced, gazing on them
earnestly.

"I would thank you, noble stranger," said Ina, in a faltering voice,
"for the inestimable blessing you afforded me in saving my noble father
from the hands of his foes.  To your bravery, I owe also my own safety,
when I was near falling into the power of our invaders.  I can only
repay you with prayers to heaven for your safety; these shall be offered
up to Allah."

"Lady," answered Ivan, "prayers from those sweet lips will add courage
to my heart; but I pray you, do not think any gratitude is due to me.  I
was but fulfilling a vow I have made to heaven, to strike our foes
wherever I can meet them; and I am yet unworthy to be ranked among the
warriors of Atteghei."

"O yes, surely you are well worthy to be called one of the bravest,"
answered Ina; "for who could have fought more nobly than you did?"

"No, lady, I cannot yet claim that honour; but your prayers will nerve
my arm to gain it," answered our hero.  "I must now away; for, see, the
knights are mounting their steeds.  Lady, farewell!"

"Farewell!" answered Ina.  "And may heaven prosper you and shield you
from danger."

"And may Allah, too, protect my child," added her father, rousing
himself from his trance.  "I was thinking, my Ina, how great a blessing
would be such a son as yonder gallant youth; but Allah's will be done!
I, too, must hasten to lead my followers.  Farewell, my child."

Leaping on his charger, the chieftain galloped to join the cavalcade,
while his daughter gazed on him with a fond and anxious glance.

As Ivan hastened to mount his steed, Conrin, who had been watching him
anxiously at a distance while conversing with Ina, came forward.  A
blush was on the boy's brow, as if he had been discovered in a fault;
and there was an uneasy look in his eye.

"Ah, my faithful Conrin," said Ivan, "I must leave you here for a time;
you are too young to go on so hazardous an expedition.  I must not again
expose your life to the dangers of such fierce warfare."

"Oh! do not despise my services, Sir," said the boy, with an imploring
look.  "Have I been backward at any time in obeying you?  Have I done
anything to displease you, that you would now leave me among strangers
while you are exposed to peril?  Did I show fear when you attacked the
Cossack cavalry?"

"No, boy, you did not indeed," answered Ivan, with energy.  "That day I
owed my life to you; and I should be ungrateful did I not endeavour to
protect your's; for that reason, I would leave you in safety here."

"But I care not for my life when your's is perilled," answered Conrin.
"Think you, Sir, that I would survive if you were slain?"

"You speak thus almost foolishly, boy," answered Ivan.  "I am grateful
for your attachment; but you would find all kind to you, and many to
love and follow.  I know that Javis loves you, and would protect you
with his own life, till you grow strong enough to protect yourself."

"Javis loves me!" said the boy, gloomily; "but what is his love to
yours?  Let me implore you to allow me to accompany you."

"It cannot be," returned Ivan, soothingly.  "I doubt not your courage,
and that you will some day become a gallant warrior; but your arm has
not yet gained sufficient strength to compete with men.  If I am
wounded, Javis will attend me; and if I fall, Heaven will find you some
other protector."

"If you fall, I shall not need Heaven's protection in this world,"
returned the page, with a despairing look.

"You speak strangely, boy," said Ivan.  "I have thought of your
welfare."

As he spoke, Arslan Gherrei rode up.

"Uzden," said Ivan, addressing him, (for, as it is customary to address
a person by his title alone, Ivan had not yet learned the name of the
chieftain), "I have a faithful page who has followed me from far lands,
and I would not lead him to the dangers of warfare, though he is urgent
in his prayers to be allowed to accompany me.  I would bestow him in
safety; and if I fall, will you grant me a boon, and be his protector?"

"I would do all you ask me, my noble friend," answered the chief.  "I
will, if it is your pleasure, place him with my daughter."

"He could not have a fairer or kinder mistress," answered Ivan, who,
desiring Conrin to follow, returned with the chieftain to the spot were
the women were still standing.

"I have returned, lady," said Ivan, addressing Ina, "to bring you an
attendant, who would fain be employed in more warlike services.  He is a
brave youth, and I owe him much.  I leave him, therefore, by your
father's permission, to your gentle care, and he will serve you as
faithfully as he has done me."

"Gladly will I follow your wishes, noble stranger," replied Ina; "for he
is a gallant boy, and I will treat him rather as a brother than as a
servant."

"Thanks, lady, for your kindness," answered Ivan.  "Here, Conrin," he
added, calling to the boy, "I leave you, during my absence, to serve
this lady; and you will find it a more pleasing task than following me
to the field.  Farewell! may you be as happy under her kind care as you
deserve."

Two pages missing from the scan

"Lynx.  We will here leave our horses and our guns; and let us see if
Circassian steel is not better than Russian lead."

Another shout proclaimed the approbation of the band to this proposal.
The most renowned and most active were then divided into four parties,
of about one hundred and fifty men each, who, throwing aside all
incumbrances, retained only their swords and long broad daggers.  The
Hadji put himself at the head of one band, and his son Alp led the most
daring and active of the Dehli Khans, who willingly followed him in
consideration of his father's renown.  Arslan Gherrei led a third party
of the bravest warriors, with whom Ivan was about to volunteer, when he
was unanimously elected to lead the fourth band.  A few were destined
for the less glorious, but necessary, service of guarding the horses and
such arms as had been laid aside; and the remainder, under Achmet Beg,
were to form a cordon round the fort, to cut off any stragglers of the
enemy who should attempt to escape.

The scouts, who had been sent to watch the vessel, brought word that she
had just arrived in the bay, and that troops had been landing from her;
but this did not damp the ardour of the mountaineers, though Ivan
remained in a state of alarm, lest his friend might be ordered out for
execution before they could attack the fort.

The night had been far spent before all the arrangements were made; and,
at a signal given by their leader, the army advanced cautiously and in
deep silence towards the fort.  A storm with terrific fury now broke
over their heads, when the Hadji proposed to delay no longer; but (their
footsteps being unheard amid the tempest) to rush on at once to the
assault.  The plan was, however, over-ruled by the advice of Achmet Beg.

"Stay, my brother," he said; "though the foe hear not the sound of our
footsteps, the flashes of lightning would betray our approach."  And as
they arrived at the skirts of the forest nearest the sea, with the fort
below them, he added: "See the lightning plays round the bayonets of the
sentinels at their posts.  Wait, till they grow weary of the storm, and
then perchance they may endeavour to seek shelter beneath their walls,
and their eyes may not be turned this way."

"Your advice is good," answered the Hadji.  "Let it be so."

Attentive to their chief leader, all the bands therefore halted;
watching, in eager expectation, for the order to advance again.

While our hero was waiting for the command to proceed, he fancied that
he observed a small light figure, which now advanced, moving among the
dark masses of human beings surrounding him.  He looked earnestly
through the obscurity to catch a glimpse of the object as the lightning
flashed brightest.  All was again obscure, when he heard a low sigh near
him.  He turned: his page Conrin stood by his side.

He spoke rather angrily.  "How is this, boy?  I left you under the Lady
Ina's care.  Do you thus so soon disobey my orders?"

A low sob was the answer.  At length the boy found words to speak.  "And
do you thus so soon forget your promise, Sir?  Did you not say that I
might follow you through all dangers and hardships? and am I to be left
at home in safety, while you are thus exposed to peril?  Let me now
accompany you, and no harm can happen to me.  My life is charmed when
near you."

Before Ivan had time to answer, the rain poured down in torrents from
the dark clouds, and the lightning ceased.

"Now is our time to advance," cried the Hadji to the leaders assembled
around him.  "To you, my son Alp, with your fiery Dehli Khans, shall be
given in charge to scale the steep rocks which form the side of the fort
to the right.  Do you, Uzden Arslan Gherrei, form your band on my left,
and we will rush up the smooth ground in front.  We have often fought
side by side, and can best face danger together, while our armour will
protect us in the most exposed situation.  You, stranger, with your
light-clad followers, must storm on the left, and as far round towards
the sea as they can reach over the rough and rocky ground; while do you,
my brother, be ready to strengthen any of us who may require aid.  And
now, chiefs, in the name of Allah! lead on your followers."

The leaders hastened to the head of their bands, and, amidst the loud
roaring of the tempest, and the dashing of the rain, they stole in deep
darkness close beneath the walls of the doomed fort.

The sentinels at their posts, with their heads muffled in their cloaks,
did not suspect the danger that surrounded them; or, when they looked
beyond the walls, were blinded by the rain, and saw nothing besides the
dark veil which shrouded them.

Our hero, with a guide, whom he kept close to him, reached the very
trench of the fort, on the south-western angle, at the very moment that
the other bands gained their destined posts.  Then crouching down, they
could scarcely have been distinguished from the rocks and coarse herbage
which covered the ground, even had the clouds cleared off, and allowed
the stars to give their light.

There the hardy mountaineers waited, scarcely daring to breathe, for the
Hadji's preconcerted signal to commence the attack.  Silent, as tenants
of the grave, they watched, while not a human being within the fort
perceived the thick clustering foe, or dreamed that danger was nigh.

The rain had ceased, and the tempest had passed away, when the pale cold
light of dawn began, by imperceptible degrees, to appear; yet, before it
had thrown a gleam of brightness on the scene, the deep sonorous voice
of the Hadji, uttering the cry of "Allah!  Allah!" broke the stillness
of the air, and was taken up on all sides by the eager warriors, as they
rushed impetuously to the assault.  They had gained the summit of the
ramparts, before the sentinels could recover from their panic.  Vain was
the slight resistance they could offer, as they sunk beneath the
powerful arms of their assailants.

Wherever the Russian soldiers turned, as they rushed in disordered
affright from their huts, they found themselves surrounded by foes.
Even on the side they considered impracticable, Alp Beg, with his
youthful and active followers, assaulted them; while on the sea-side,
Ivan and his band had sprung over the entrenchments, and had driven
those who attempted to withstand him from the walls.  A few of the most
determined of the garrison made a desperate rush towards the guns, which
vomited forth a shower of grape; but in a few minutes, the men who fired
them were cut down by the mountaineers.

On every side arose those tremendous cries which quailed the stoutest
hearts.  Innumerable foes seemed to be hurled from out of the obscurity
of the sky among the Russians, as the Circassians leaped over the
trenches.  Arslan Gherrei and the Hadji had met with the greatest
opposition in front; but the latter, fighting his way, had joined his
son Alp, on the right, while the brave commander of the fortress,
rallying a strong body of troops, met the former chieftain in his
victorious course.  The Russians opened a tremendous fire, beneath which
many of their assailants fell, as encouraged by their officer's example,
they advanced to meet them, the Circassians rushing to their very
bayonets' points.

So bravely did the former fight, that many of the Circassians were for a
time driven back; and Arslan Gherrei found himself surrounded by
Russians.  Many of the most daring advanced to seize him, but his sword
kept them at bay; yet they seemed determined to overwhelm him: when our
hero, on seeing so large a body of defenders still keeping together, led
on some of his men, and fought his way towards the spot.  There was just
sufficient daylight to distinguish objects at no great distance; when,
catching sight of the heroic Arslan Gherrei, hard pressed, and defending
himself singly against a host of foes, he shouted loudly his name, and
strained every nerve to reach him.  He almost shrieked with eagerness,
as he fell, like a tiger, on the intervening combatants, till he hewed a
way to the rescue of the noble chieftain.  And, once again, those two
brave warriors fought side by side, their foes giving way before them:
none could withstand their arms.  Then as their followers united, the
enemy retreated to a building in their rear, into which some found
entrance, and opened a heavy fire on the assailants, while the rest
remained without, fighting with their backs to the walls.

The firing lasted but a few minutes; when a terrific explosion took
place.  The earth shook with violence; and the combatants, interrupted
in their deadly strife, were covered with the falling ruins, and
obscured by smoke and dust.

Ivan looked around.  Arslan Gherrei stood unharmed near him.  Around
them, and amid the fallen building, lay strewed the bodies of their late
opponents, and of many of their own party, killed by the descending
ruins.

Wherever Ivan moved, the daring young page was by his side, fearless of
the strife.  Unharmed by the swords of the foe, and the falling ruins,
he pursued his way, fighting as bravely as the boldest warrior, and
regarding only his master's safety.

By the light of the burning rafters, which blazed furiously, Ivan
eagerly hastened in search of his friend; and as the smoke and dust
cleared off, he caught sight of a human being, endeavouring to extricate
himself from the ruins of a small building.  He leaped over the smoking
ruins, towards the spot, followed by some of his men.  In a few minutes
he had the happiness of lifting his friend Stanisloff in his arms, and
seeing his fetters knocked off, while loud shouts proclaimed the
satisfaction of his liberators.

In the mean time, the venerable Hadji and his gallant son had cleared
the fort of all who opposed them.  Young Alp drove the Russians to the
water's edge, so that at the time the magazine blew up, all opposition
had ceased.  As the victors hurried through the fort, the sound of
cannon from the ship of war in the harbour, proclaimed that some of
their enemies had reached the shore, and were being protected in their
embarkation.  A party, therefore, hurried off to assist Alp in capturing
the remainder of their defeated foes, or in utterly destroying them.

As the sun rose in majestic splendour over the mountains, what a scene
of havoc and destruction it revealed!  On every side were the bodies of
the slaughtered Russians, ghastly with the terrific wounds of the broad
bladed cama, which had pierced home to the breasts of the victims, doing
its work surely.  Their countenances were livid, and their limbs
distorted into every frightful attitude.  Among them, near the walls,
lay many bodies of the mountaineers, their sabres firmly clasped in
their clenched hands, scarcely shewing the small death wound caused by
the bullet.  Some lay pierced by the bayonets of the defenders of the
castle, as they leaped from the parapet among them.

Farther in the centre, amid their slain husbands and fathers, were the
bodies of several women and children, who, rushing from their huts, at
the first terrific sound of the onslaught, had been, in the darkness and
confusion, overthrown, unknowingly slain, and trampled upon, by the
fierce combatants of either side.  Round the smoking ruins of the
magazine which had exploded, were the blackened remains of the gallant
commander of the fort, and of the few faithful soldiers who had taken
refuge with him in the building attached to it; and, crushed amid the
heaps of earth and stones, were the bodies of several of the fierce
mountaineers who were attacking it.

Some of the store-houses and barracks had likewise caught fire, and were
blazing up furiously, to add to the destruction and confusion.  Parties
of the victors were hurrying over the fort, some ransacking the quarters
of the officers, others piling the arms of the conquered, and others
collecting the prisoners who had lain down their arms.  The cannonading
soon ceased, and the brig of war was seen standing out of the harbour,
carrying away the poor remains of the garrison, who had first escaped to
the shore, though the greater part had either been slain, or made
prisoners.

None of the chiefs of note had fallen, they being well protected for
this species of fighting, by the coats of chain armour they wore under
their dress; but it was a dearly-bought victory to their followers,
three score of whom had perished by the bullets of the Russians, and by
the explosion of the magazine.

Achmet Beg, notwithstanding his advanced age, had not been able to
restrain his ardour; but with somewhat of the fiery valour of his
brother the Hadji, when the shouts of the combatants arose, had quitted
his post outside, and, scaling the ramparts, with many of his followers,
joined in the fray.  Overcome with fatigue he stood like the statue of
an aged Mars, leaning on his sword reeking with the blood of his foes,
and covered with the dust and smoke of the combat.

Alp Beg now returned from the pursuit of the enemy, whom he had almost
cut to pieces before the remnant succeeded in escaping to the boats of
the brig.  Among the latter, was probably the Count Erintoff; as when
Ivan and Thaddeus went in search of his corpse, it was no where to be
found.  The chieftains then assembled in the centre of the fort; when
our hero led forth his rescued friend, who was received with warm and
sincere congratulations by his gallant liberators.  Few words passed
between them; for there was still much to be done, and all were anxious
to return to give assurance to their friends of their success.

By Ivan's side stood young Conrin, amid the fierce and bearded warriors;
one bright and glowing spot alone remained on his otherwise pale cheek,
and his eyes burned with the same unearthly lustre which they had shewn
after the former combat.  His lip at times quivered, and his arm still
trembled with the exertion he had undergone, as his hand grasped a
weapon marked with many a red stain.  Alas! that one so young, and
seemingly of so gentle a nature, should engage in scenes of bloodshed
like this!  The boy gazed up in his master's face with a look expressive
of such satisfaction and joy, that he had escaped the dangers of the
attack, that Ivan relented from the displeasure he had felt at the
youth's rashness, and, placing his hand on his shoulder, said:

"It was for your safety, my brave, but rash, Conrin, that I forbade you
to accompany me on this expedition; and for my own sake also.  For my
grief would have been, indeed, great, and I should never have ceased
blaming myself, had you fallen, or received any injury.  Therefore, if
you love me, venture not again into such danger."

The boy burst into tears.  "It would be my greatest joy to die at your
feet, if I thought you loved me as I would be loved!" exclaimed he
passionately.  "And I am amply rewarded for all the horrors of this
scene, now that the moment has arrived in which I know that you are
safe."

"Boy, you will wear that gallant young spirit out, if you thus exert it
before its time.  For my sake, if not for your own, play me not thus
false again," said Ivan.  "And, now as a truant, I must return you to
your mistress."

"Am I then forgiven, Sir?" asked the boy.

"Yes, Conrin, yes, you are forgiven; and gladly, as you have not
suffered.  But see, the chiefs are moving on, and I must join them."

The chiefs had been holding a consultation, in which it was agreed to
destroy the fort completely.  Achmet Beg volunteering to remain with a
party of his followers, to superintend its entire demolition.  The rest
quitted the fort, the drawbridge being lowered for their exit.  They
were received with shouts of congratulation by the party outside the
walls, each man laden with the arms and other booty which they had found
in the fort, and carefully guarding the few prisoners they had taken.

A more mournful procession followed, conveying on quickly-formed biers,
the bodies of their slain comrades, the bearers changing, at intervals,
the triumphant songs of victory into cries of lamentation for their
early fate.  The victorious little army first repaired to the secluded
vale where they had left their horses, their rifles, their cloaks, and
provisions, and where the last sad obsequies were to be performed to the
slain.  But it was a consolation to all the true believers in Mahomet,
that, falling in defence of their country, their souls would find a
quick passage to Paradise.  Short, consequently, was the burial service
of the brave warriors, though the grief of the survivors was not the
less for the friends who had fallen.

The chieftains, therefore, leaving a party to commit the bodies to their
last resting-place in that quiet spot, hastened back to defend the
passes of Ghelendjik, lest the garrison, taking advantage of the absence
of many of the inhabitants, should attempt to ravage the country.

Volume 2, Chapter XVII.

Scarce a whole day had passed since the band of gallant warriors had
left the neighbourhood of Ghelendjik, when they returned crowned with
victory.  One of the detested forts of the foe was levelled to the
ground, and thus one of the first links of the chain, the fana Moscov
were striving to throw around the land was burst asunder at a single
blow.  This showed them what they might still do; it raised their
courage; it inflamed their ardour.  Again and again they vowed never to
yield while an arm remained to strike.

The noble Hadji was in high spirits at the success of this the first
enterprise he had engaged in since his return to his native land; nor
the less so at the gallantry which his son had displayed.  He careered
along, at the head of the party, gay as the most youthful warrior among
them.  The heroic Arslan Gherrei, on his magnificent black charger, his
plume towering above the others, rode sedately near him, his features,
except when excited amid the combat, ever wearing the same grave stern
expression.

In each of the small secluded hamlets through which they passed, the
women came forth to welcome them, throwing flowers in their path, and
singing triumphant hymns of praise for their victory.  Some made eager
inquiries for husbands, and fathers, or brothers; and sad was the wail
raised in lieu of songs of triumph, when the death of any loved one was
announced to them.

By the side of our hero rode his friend Thaddeus, for whom he had
procured a horse, and who now related the events which had lately
occurred to him, and the attempted revenge of the Count Erintoff.

"You are now then, my dear Thaddeus, surely absolved from all allegiance
to the Emperor?" said Ivan.  "And you may join, without scruple of
conscience, the only cause for which a man is justified in fighting,
when not for the protection of his own country, the defence of a gallant
people's dearest liberties, their homes, their families, against the
power of tyrants who would enslave them."

"True, my friend," answered Thaddeus, "such I now feel is a righteous
cause, sanctified by Heaven; such the true cause in which the pure
spirit of chivalry delights to engage; far different from the hireling
service which would place a tyrant or an usurper on the throne, and aid
him in oppressing a people whom it is his office to govern."

"I am rejoiced to hear you speak sentiments so like my own," exclaimed
Ivan, "and of which you, of all men, have just reason to feel the
truth."

"Since we parted, I have thought much on the subject, even though death
was hanging over me," returned the young Pole.  "One of the causes,
which then made me refuse to join your party, has been removed.  My
father is no more.  The thraldom under which his noble spirit groaned,
and grief for his country's overthrow, have at length brought his life
to a close."

"Then, surely," said Ivan, "you can no longer, with reason, consider
yourself bound to Russia."

"I do not; I consider myself justly absolved from my oath of service to
the Emperor," answered Thaddeus.  "But can you blame me, when I hesitate
to turn my sword against my former brothers in arms, many bound to me by
the ties of friendship?"

"That you need never do," answered Ivan; "and henceforth, I shall hail
you as my brother in arms; for Circassia has foes enough without
numbering the few you can claim as friends.  The fierce and daring
Cossacks shall be your opponents, and along the banks of the Kouban,
they will afford you abundance of opportunities of gaining credit and
renown among us."

"Press me not further on the subject, my friend," returned the Pole.  "I
have scarcely yet learned to consider myself as numbered among the
living, so rapid and stunning has been my delivery from death.  I have
much to give me serious reflection."

The two friends relapsed into silence for some time; for Ivan's thoughts
were also deeply occupied with conjectures, vague, uncertain, yet full
of hope, as to who was the brave chieftain, whose name he had heard, and
whose noble bearing, heroic valour, stern and melancholy, yet courteous
deportment had inspired him with feelings of love and admiration, such
as his heart was unaccustomed to accord to others; but he could not yet
bring himself to address him.

As the party approached the beautiful village they had left the previous
day, a group of bright and graceful forms was seen between the trees,
waving garlands of flowers; their sweet voices singing songs of welcome
and congratulation to the victorious warriors.  The chiefs, throwing
their reins to the squires, leaped from their steeds, as they reached
the woodland glade, already mentioned as the romantic hall of assembly
for the neighbourhood.

The maidens advanced to meet the warriors, each anxious to welcome the
most beloved of their gallant defenders; and still more lovely than all,
came Ina, rushing with joy into the arms of her father.  That one
affectionate embrace of his child, was a full recompense to the heart of
the noble hero, for all the risks and dangers of war.  The wife and
daughters of the chief of the hamlet came forward also to welcome him
and his sons; and many a bashful maiden betrayed her hitherto concealed
love for some gallant youth, in her joy at his safe return from battle.

It was a highly interesting scene.  Diana-like forms of women, clothed
in coloured and richly ornamented robes, with long white veils floating
gracefully from their heads; the shining and embossed armour, jewelled
weapons, and tall plumes of the noble chiefs; the groups of high-mettled
steeds, and bands of retainers, assembled on the verdant lawn,
surrounded by the bright foliage of lofty trees and canopied by the blue
vault of heaven; formed a picture, such as Titian or Rubens might have
loved to paint.  It reminded one of the romantic days of chivalry, now
long since faded from all other lands but that of the heroic Atteghei.

Near Ivan stood Thaddeus, enraptured by the beautiful and noble scene;
but, more than all, by the loveliness of Ina, as his glance first fell
on her, clinging to her father's arm.  His very soul became entranced as
he gazed, nor could he withdraw his admiring eyes; never had he seen a
being more lovely, more graceful.  It was to him, as if, after arriving
from the dark regions of death, he had entered a glorious paradise.

Scarcely were the first greetings over, when the Hadji advanced towards
Ivan, and taking his hand, led him forward into the midst of the
assembled chiefs, exclaiming, "To you, my noble friend Arslan Gherrei,
and to you, chieftains all, I speak.  I have this day a pleasing duty to
perform.  Here stands one whom I am proud to call my friend; with me he
came to these, our native shores; but to this moment, I know not his
name.  He was under an oath, and none could disapprove it, not to tell
his name or lineage, until he had gained for himself a warlike and noble
title, and proved himself worthy to belong to the pure race of the
Atteghei.  I call on you all, who have been spectators of his deeds of
arms; who have seen his heroic bravery, when combating against the foes
of our country; to bear witness, that he is worthy to be called one of
the noblest of the children of the Atteghei; I call on you all, to
declare, if you will welcome him as a brother, the bravest of the brave
among us?"

"We do! we do!" was shouted from all sides; "he is a true son of the
Atteghei.  We welcome him as a gallant brother in arms."

Uttering similar expressions, each chieftain advanced to grasp his hand,
in token of approval.  The heart of our hero beat quickly, as the blood
tumultuously rushed through his veins, with a glow of noble pride, at
the applause of his countrymen; but more than all, at the hope that the
consummation of his most anxious wishes was about to draw near.

"I knew, my friends, that you could have but one opinion," said the
Hadji.  "But to you, Arslan Gherrei, I more particularly speak, for
twice have you been witness of the bravery of the stranger warrior;
twice has he rescued from peril, that life so prized by our country."

"Truly do I know how brave and noble he is," answered the chieftain
advancing; "and gladly do I hail him as a son of the Atteghei."

"Young warrior, you hear what has been spoken of you by some of the most
gallant chiefs of Circassia.  What more would you have to absolve you
from your oath?" exclaimed the Hadji with animation.

"I am overwhelmed with the proud feelings of my heart," cried our hero.
"No greater praise can I ever hope to gain.  I will keep my secret no
longer.  The name I bore at my birth was Selem Gherrei!"

"What! speak that name again," cried Arslan Gherrei, springing forward.
Seizing his hand he held it in his grasp, while he gazed earnestly into
his face.

"Noble youth, whence come you? can a blessed spirit rise from the dead?
Speak, ere my heart burst with impatience; say who gave you that name?"

"My mother," answered our hero.  "When a child, I was carried away with
her by a Russian commander; she continued to watch over my youth till
death tore her from me."

"It is enough; you are--you are my son, my long mourned son.  I need no
more to convince me," cried the chieftain, clasping the youth in his
arms, while manly tears of joy burst from the long dried up fountains of
his eagle eye.

"Am I! am I, noble chief, your son?" cried the youth, no less overcome,
and falling on his knees while returning his new-found father's embrace.
"Has heaven, indeed, granted me so proud a blessing?  See, I have borne
this amulet from childhood, and have ever religiously guarded it.  This
may prove my birth."

"I need no mark to convince me that you are my son.  Nature speaks
loudly for you, though well do I remember that amulet," cried the
chieftain.  "You are, indeed, my son, and Allah be praised for his
bounty.  I felt it when first I saw you, like a guardian angel, fighting
by my side, and rescuing me from death; I felt it when first I heard the
rich manly tones of your voice inciting your followers to the fight.
Yes, my heart beat with joy that another warrior should be added to the
cause of the Atteghei; and now how proud and grateful I am, let Heaven
witness.  See, chiefs, I here present to you my son.  Great Heaven has
granted me the only boon I craved," he added, lifting up his son.
"After the witness you have borne of his bravery you all must know how
proud I am of him."

"Have I not a sister, too, my father?  Let her also participate in our
joy," cried his son, hastening to embrace Ina, who, trembling with
agitation, had advanced to the spot.  "My sister, my sweet sister!"

"Oh, my brother!  Allah be praised that I may pronounce that dear name.
Now can my father's heart rejoice that he has found his long-wished-for
son.  Already does my heart give some of the love our father once
claimed, to you, my brother," she said with a sweet smile beaming
through her fast falling tears of joy.

The chieftains had courteously retired to some distance, so as not to
restrain the indulgence of Arslan Gherrei's feelings of happiness; but
they gazed with deep interest, as the once stern and gloomy champion of
their country melted into softness, as he looked on his newly-found
gallant son.

The Hadji also was delighted.  "I knew, my friend," he cried, "that none
but a noble father could have owned a son brave as my young friend,
Selem Gherrei.  Say, warriors, are they not worthy of each other?"

"Yes, yes! may Allah grant a long and prosperous life to our gallant
champion, Arslan Gherrei, and to his brave son, the young Selem," was
shouted by the assembled warriors.  "Long live Selem Gherrei!" was
echoed through the grove, as they advanced in gallant and martial array,
each grasping Selem's hand as they passed him and his proud and happy
father; nor could they refrain from giving an admiring but respectful
glance at the fair Ina, as she stood clinging to her newly-found
brother's arm.

Then arose the song of a wandering minstrel, who, attracted by the fast
flying news of the storming of the fort, had repaired hither to
commemorate the victory with his muse; and here was a theme well worthy
of his martial strains.  First tuning his lyre he broke forth into a
loud triumphant hymn of victory; then, changing his theme, he described
the fierce attack of the Russians, when the noble chief Arslan Gherrei
was deprived of his wife and son; then it sunk into a low strain of
grief, worked into rage against the ravishers.  He next enumerated the
many bloody combats in which the chief had fought to revenge himself on
his foes, the coming of the youthful stranger, his fighting by his
father's side and rescuing him and his sister from the enemy.  Finally,
as he pictured their surprise and joy at meeting, his notes were melting
and pathetic, till, by degrees swelling high to triumphant strains of
joy, he was joined by numerous other minstrels of scarcely less note,
who had followed him to the scene.

A band of maidens then, taking the word from the bard, advanced, and
surrounding the group with their wreaths of flowers, joining their
sweet, rich voices to the melody as the cadence rose and fell with the
subject.

Then the bard changed his theme to the rescue of the Polish stranger;
and as he sang, all eyes were turned towards Thaddeus; and as Ina caught
his gaze drinking in with enraptured delight the beauty of her form and
features, she cast her look on the ground, blushing she knew not why;
while he, the brave soldier, seemed seized with the same bashful
feeling.

The bard had ceased his strains when a party of musicians struck up
light and cheerful airs, and some of the youthful mountaineers, in spite
of the fatigue of the fight and march, led forth the village maidens,
nothing loath, to the dance; the nobles looked on to applaud, until
messengers arrived from the house of the Tocav to say that a banquet was
prepared to welcome the warriors.

Our hero, whom we must in future designate by his true name of Selem
Gherrei, now took the hand of Thaddeus.  "My sweet sister," he said, "I
will lose no time in making known to you one, who has been my friend
under various circumstances, and will, I trust, always continue so."

"My brother's friend is welcome to me," she answered in Turkish, a
language Thaddeus was also slightly acquainted with.  "But I cannot
perform the courtesies you have been accustomed to in Frangistan.  I
have but few words to express my feelings in the tongue in which I now
speak."

"Think not so meanly of yourself, Ina," said Selem.  "My friend is one
of those noble Poles, whose country you have doubtless heard the
Russians have treated as they would ours; and yet he hesitates to draw
his sword against such foes.  But I must leave him to your soft
persuasions to supply him with excuses for joining us."

"I fear that I could scarce disobey your wishes, sweet lady," said
Thaddeus; "then pray do not bid me act against my conscience."

"I would not do as you fear," answered Ina.  "But among the sons of the
Atteghei the claims of friendship are paramount to every other.  Surely
you would not quit my brother's side in the battle-field.  His foes
should be your foes, and his friends your friends."

"Cease, lady, cease," exclaimed Thaddeus earnestly; "or you will gain
too quick a victory.  The sweet tones of your voice alone are too
eloquent to be withstood."

"Silence, my friend," interrupted Selem, in Russian smiling.  "You
bring, indeed, the courtly style of St. Petersburg with you, when you
commence by paying compliments.  I must assert a brother's privilege to
stop such language, or you may turn my gentle sister's head.  Remember
that she is unaccustomed to phrases of flattery."

"Her looks bespeak her to be far too sensible to be influenced by terms
of compliment," answered Thaddeus.

"There breathes no woman of any clime, and but few of the nobler sex
even, who are uninfluenced by flattery," returned Selem.  Then speaking
again in his own language, "Pardon me, my sister, for speaking in a
language you understand not.  I was but scolding my friend for paying
the empty compliments which the fair ones of the cities of Frangistan
receive as of sterling value."

"Your friend, my brother, would not surely use phrases unbecoming a
mountain girl to hear.  He looks too wise, too good," said Ina, blushing
as she spoke.

Another messenger now approached to summon the hero of the day, the
young Circassian Chief, and his Polish friend, to the feast, where the
other chieftains were waiting their arrival.  Great however was the
disappointment of both, when they found that the chief ornaments would
be wanting; for though the most chivalrous devotion is paid to the fair
sex, such is the custom of the country, that no woman may be present at
the festive board, except on private occasions when in attendance on
their lords.

Most unwillingly, therefore, Selem was obliged to part from his
newly-found beautiful sister, and many an enraptured glance did the
young Pole cast towards her as she retired with her women and the
daughters of the host; while the two friends followed the gallant chief,
Arslan Gherrei (his heart beating with happiness at the restoration of
his son), as he led the way to the scene of festivity.

------------------------------------------------------------------------

END OF VOLUME TWO.

Volume 3, Chapter I.

A romantic and chivalrous scene was presented to the eye, as a cavalcade
of warriors wound their way along the richly clad mountains of
Ghelendjik.

The fresh dews of the night still moistened the green herbage; the
crystal drops sprinkling the grass, shone in the early sun-beams like
the precious diamonds of Golconda; while the air which played round
their heads, came laden with the fragrance of the mountain herbs and
sweet scented flowers.  The pure and elastic atmosphere seemed to
sparkle with life and light: all nature, rejoicing in the bright
new-born day, breathed an air of contentment and happiness; how sadly
belied by the scenes of devastation and misery the country was doomed to
suffer!

The chiefs were clad in rich and polished armour; their spear-points and
swords glittering in the sun-beams, and their gay banners fluttering in
the breeze.  At their head, on his noble black charger, rode Arslan
Gherrei and the gallant Hadji Guz Beg, followed by many chiefs of note
and consequence.  In the centre came Ina, more fresh and lovely than the
bright morn itself, followed by her damsels, and tended with the utmost
care; on one side, by her brother Selem, who guided her palfrey over the
uneven ground, while Thaddeus guarded her on the other, as she listened
earnestly to the description of his own loved land, comparing it to the
one in which he now was destined to live.  Every now and then she would
turn her eyes from her brother, stealing a glance at him, which was as
quickly withdrawn.

Young Alp Beg, and other gallant youths, dressed in their gayest attire,
on high mettled steeds, curvetted in every direction, in hopes of
catching a glance from her bright eyes, or of hearing the sweet tones of
her voice.  Close to them followed the young page Conrin, and, though
rejoicing in his master's happiness, every now and then a deep shade of
melancholy would steal across his features; nor would he, on these
occasions, listen to the words of consolation which Javis vainly
endeavoured to offer.  The squires of the knights, their pages, and
other attendants followed, bringing up the cortege.

As they rode on, they were shrouded by the thick autumnal-tinted foliage
of the lofty trees; and the mountain's side, covered with flowering
heaths, when trampled on by their horses' hoofs, gave out a sweet odour.
In the vale below, flowed a blue sparkling stream, between rich
pastures, bounded by sloping banks; while on the opposite side, rose
jagged and fantastic cliffs, and in the extreme distance, a sea of
azure-tinted and swelling hills.

Messengers had arrived on the previous evening from the warriors already
encamped on the banks of the Ubin, a rapid stream falling into the
Kouban; summoning the chiefs from all parts of Circassia to meet them
there without delay.  Some grand object was in contemplation, either to
attack the Russians before they should retire into their winter
quarters, or to prevent them in their turn from making any inroad among
their own mountain-homes.  The Hadji was all fire and eagerness to set
forward, in the hopes of some engagement taking place; in which, under
his guidance, his darling son might gain victorious laurels, he looked
on the storming of the fort as an action of no note to try his mettle.
Arslan Gherrei had also determined to proceed onward to the same
destination, leaving Ina--who was now fully able to undertake the
journey--with the family of a noble kinsman, the Chief of the Demorghoi,
the venerable Prince Aitek Tcherei.

Their host, Shamiz Bey, with most of the warlike inhabitants of the
neighbourhood, was compelled to remain to guard that part of the country
threatened by the garrison of Ghelendjik, it being considered a point of
honour for every district to protect itself against the foe, except from
an overwhelming force.

A large body of horsemen were, however, collected, many chiefs having
come to greet the renowned Hadji on his return from his pilgrimage, to
congratulate Arslan Gherrei on the recovery of his long lost son, and to
welcome Selem to his native land.

Their journey was like a triumphant procession.  From every hamlet
through which they passed, the inhabitants rushed out to congratulate
the warriors on their victory; the fame of their exploit having already
preceded them.  The villagers made their admiring comments, not less on
the dignified and noble Arslan Gherrei and his son, than on his lovely
daughter; and the stranger Pole was hailed as another champion added to
their country's cause.  The minstrels struck their harps to strains of
triumph, joined by the voices of the maidens.  The wild youths,
galloping on before, fired off salvos from their rifles, which were
answered by others from the hamlets discharging theirs in return, as
they threw themselves on their ready-saddled steeds, and flew to join
the festive cortege.  The green banks, sloping down from the villages,
were covered with old men, women, and children, joining their voices to
the general shout which welcomed the party, wherever they appeared.  The
Hadji's name sounding above all.

Sometimes the cavalcade would halt to salute some aged chieftain, unable
longer to join in the hardships of war, who had caused himself to be
carried out to meet them, and to hear from their own mouths, an account
of their late exploit.  The eye of the now decrepit warrior would
kindle, and his cheek burn with enthusiasm, as he listened to the tale;
or his voice would tremble, and a tear of regret roll down his furrowed
cheek, that he was no longer capable of participating in the glories and
dangers of war.  So often had they to stop, and so many questions had
they to answer, that it was late in the day before they could reach
their resting-place for the night; and happy was the chief, whom they
had chosen as their Tocav, to receive such distinguished guests.

Their route on the next day's journey, lay along the base of the
far-extended line of the black mountains; when towering high above his
brethren, appeared the lofty Elborous, dark, rugged, and precipitous.
The cavalcade traversed a savage glen, overhung by beetling cliffs,
seeming ready to fall on their heads.  The light was subdued and gloomy;
and the air was moist and heavy from the water which trickled down over
the moss-covered rocks.  An oppressive feeling overcame all the party--a
foreboding of coming evil.  Dangers in unknown shapes seemed to threaten
them.  Even the Hadji's joyful tone was quelled; a chill fell on his
spirits.  He cast a fond and anxious glance at his son Alp, as, for a
moment, the dangers to which he was about to expose him, crossed his
mind.

"Why are you so silent, my sister?" said Selem, as he rode by Ina's
side; "why does that shade of sadness steal over a face, but now so
bright with smiles?"

"I scarce know, Selem, why I am sad," returned the fair girl; "but I
thought of the dangers our noble father is constantly exposed to; that
you, my newly found brother, may again be torn from me; that you must
live a life of constant hardship and warfare.  I thought of the miseries
of our country--our homes and fields burned, our fathers and brothers
slain, and that Allah should have created men wicked enough to do these
things.  Tell me, my brother, why do the Urus attack our country? why do
they try to possess themselves of our humble cots and rocky mountains,
when they have abundance of land covered with mighty cities?"

"The lust of power, of conquest, such as you can have no conception of,"
replied Selem.  "They care little to possess our mountain-homes, and
nothing for the noble hearts, whose blood they spill.  What, to their
deaf ears, are the cries of the orphan, the moans of the bereaved widow?
There are rich and fair lands beyond our's, in which they would set
their grasp, could they reach them, to add to their already vast
territories, peopled by slaves.  But they fear to advance, leaving
behind them one spot of unconquered ground, such as our own land, lest
we might impede them on their return home, laden with booty.  We are
like a castle in a plain, overrun with marauders, which, as long as
provisions last, may withstand a host of such foes; so shall we, as long
as true and brave hearts beat in Circassia.  But now, Ina, banish such
sad thoughts; see, we have gained a bright and joyous scene."

As Selem spoke, they emerged from the dark ravine, into a broad and
extensive valley; so broad, indeed, as almost to be called a plain.  It
was surrounded by mountains, rising gradually in slopes or bosomy
swells, to form the sides of the vast amphitheatre.  Green pastures and
corn fields, interspersed with clumps of fine trees, enriched its
surface, which was further adorned by cottages, surrounded by orchards,
farm-yards, paddocks, and granaries.

"See, Ina," exclaimed her brother, enthusiastically; "let not your
spirits sink with forebodings, for we have passed in safety through that
savage glen: and now what a lovely scene has opened to our view!  So may
it be with our country.  We yet may see bright and glorious days shine
on Circassia, when freed from the dark wing of the Russian eagle."

The country through which they were passing, had the appearance of a
magnificent park, or the estate of some rich noble of Frangistan; the
fields were separated by high well clipped hedge-rows, and irrigated by
canals filled from a stream, meandering through the centre.  The hill
sides were covered with flocks of sheep; and fine cattle fed in the
fertile pastures.

Leaving the valley, the cavalcade mounted the sides of one of the hills,
by which it is entirely encompassed, traversing the summit of a narrow
ridge, looking down on each side into a deep ravine.  Wherever the eye
could reach, appeared a country impracticable to any foes, when guarded
by even a handful of brave inhabitants.

The cavalcade did not keep in the same order as described in the
commencement of the journey; sometimes, the chieftain Arslan Gherrei
would ride to his daughter's side, and address words of affection and
encouragement to her; then he would enter into converse with his son, on
subjects of deep interest and importance.  But there was one who never
left Ina's side.  Each moment that Thaddeus passed in her company, he
became more and more enchained, without being conscious of it.

As the mighty Elborous appeared in view, with numerous other wild and
rugged mountains at its base, "Know you," said the Hadji to Selem, "that
the brother of that traitor Besin Kaloret Khan has his dwelling among
yonder rugged mountains, though they prove not so wild and barren, as at
this distance they appear?  He is rich in flocks, herds and noble
horses, and many fierce followers are at his beck.  I think he will
prove a dire foe to you and your's, if he discovers that his traitor
brother fell by your hand; or worse still, by that of your youthful
page.  But, Mashallah! fear him not.  He knows himself in the wrong, and
will dread to take vengeance."

Ina turned pale, as she heard this account.  "Does, indeed, that
dreadful Khan dwell so near us?" said she.  "I always feared to look on
him: he seems so fierce, so cruel, so unlike our father or you.  Oh,
avoid him, for his presence can bring nothing but harm."

"Fear him not, fear him not, maiden," exclaimed the Hadji.  "What harm
can he do?  His followers cannot compete with us.  Till he washes out
the stain of his brother's dishonour in the blood of our foes, he cannot
again appear in the company of the chiefs of Abasia."

"I fear not for myself," answered Ina; "but I fear him for the evil he
may work to my father and brother: I know that to meet him in open fight
they would have nought to dread; but he is subtle as well as fierce, and
may seek secret means to injure them."

"Do not let such thoughts alarm you for our father or for me, dear Ina,"
said her brother.  "The Khan could not harm us, if he wished."

"Mashallah! if he were as cunning as the fox," exclaimed the Hadji, "we
would rout him out of his den, should he attempt any revenge for that
young traitor's just punishment."

The travellers were now approaching the residence of the venerable
Prince Aitek Tcherei, the kinsman of Arslan Gherrei, with whom Ina was
to remain during his and her brother's absence.  The whole party, also,
were invited to sojourn there that day, ere they proceeded to the camp
of the allied princes and chiefs on the Ubin.

The party were descending a hill bounding another beautiful and romantic
vale, on the side of which stood the residence of the aged chief, and
had just arrived in sight of a grove of lofty trees surrounding the
house, when being perceived from the watch-tower in the neighbourhood, a
band of gaily caparisoned youths on horseback, galloped out to meet the
chiefs, uttering loud shouts of welcome, and firing off their rifles and
pistols as they came on at full speed.  Halting at the moment they
arrived abreast of the leaders of the party, they respectfully saluted
them, exchanging greetings with their younger friends as they passed,
and then joined the rear of the cortege.

Along avenue of fine trees led up to the gate of the house, where the
aged Prince, clothed in a long robe and turban, (the garb of peace), was
standing to receive them, attended by his squire, armed more for state
than protection, and by his dependants and household serfs, who hastened
to take the horses of the chieftains, as they dismounted.

Folding Arslan Gherrei in his arms, "My noble kinsman," he said,
"welcome are you to my home, for gladly do my old eyes once more look on
you; and how did my heart beat with joy when I heard that you had
recovered your long lost son.  Allah is great, who has shielded him from
so many perils in the land of the Giaour, to restore him once more to
your bosom.  Is yonder noble youth he?  Worthy he seems to be a
Circassian chief.  Let me embrace him," he added, as Selem, dismounting
from his horse, advanced towards the old man.

"Come hither, my son, and let your father's oldest friend embrace you.
Ah!  I see in his eye and bearing that he is worthy of you, Uzden.  And
your other child? your daughter?  Come hither, Ina; let my old eyes gaze
on thee, too.  My own Zara will rejoice to see you.  Go to her, Ina; she
longs to embrace you, but she fears to quit her anderoon before so many
strangers.  Ah! my gallant friend, Hadji Guz Beg! rejoiced am I to see
the Lion of the Atteghei returned from his pilgrimage, to spread terror
among the hearts of the Urus.  And you, Achmet Beg, and you, Alp, who
will one day be a hero like your father; and you, chieftains, welcome
all."

Thus he addressed them, as each chief advanced to pay his respects to
the old man.  "My heart," exclaimed he, "has not beat so joyfully since
the cursed Urus slew the last prop of my age, my only son.  Chieftains,
I have ordered a banquet to be prepared to do honour to your coming, and
it will soon be the hour for feasting."

Saying which, the venerable noble led the way to a grove of lofty trees
in the neighbourhood of the house, under which a fresh green arbour had
been erected by his retainers, forming a grateful shade from the yet
burning rays of the sun.  Divans and carpets had been spread under the
leafy bower, the front of which opened on a gentle slope, falling to, a
green plot of turf, surrounded by groups of trees.  Thither the chiefs
were ushered, and when all were seated, according to their rank, their
venerable host took his place among them.

Many of the neighbouring nobles had assembled to do honour to the guests
of their chief, their numerous attendants forming groups with the
villagers and retainers of the host collected before the arbour.  The
Dehli Khans, or young men, amusing themselves in the mean time, in
various athletic sports.

Troops of servants soon appeared hastening to the arbour, bearing tables
laden with various dishes of richly dressed meats and fruits, which
might well vie in taste with the sumptuous fare of less primitive
countries.  Bowls of mead and boza were handed round to the guests; for
even those professing the Mahomedan faith did not hesitate to drink of
the former delicious beverage, nor were spirits and wine wanting, to add
to the conviviality of those whose scruples did not prevent their
indulging in them.

Minstrels, also, came from far and near to add to the festivity of the
occasion; for what feast would be complete without the masters of song?
The aged Hassein Shahin, the famed bard of the Atteghei, he who sang of
a hundred fights, which he had himself witnessed, and in some of which
he had been engaged, now turned his lyre to a high and martial strain.
All voices were silent, every ear intent to catch his words which were
as follows:

  From Liberty's harp are the strains you now hear;
      Men of Atteghei rise at the call;
  Hark! hark! to its sounds, for the foemen are near,
      It summons us warriors all
  To fight for the land of our ancestors' graves,
  Who died that their children might never be slaves.

  The Russ marches onward with chains in his hand,
      To bind our free arms will he try.
  His banner's dark eagle o'ershadows our land,
      But we've sworn or to conquer or die,
  For we fight o'er the sod of our ancestors' graves,
  Whose valiant hearts ne'er would have yielded to slaves.

  'Tis Poland's enslaver with foul bloody hand,
      Remember her story of woe!
  Her brave sons are captives, or fled their lov'd land,
      Beware, or her fate we may know!
  Let us swear on the earth of our forefathers' graves,
  That we ne'er will be conquered or yield to those slaves.

  Remember we fight for our mountains so green,
      For our vales, for our streams' sparkling tide,
  For those fields which our father's for ages have been,
      And where, ever unconquer'd, they died.
  Then let not their bones be disturbed in their graves,
  By the tread of a Muscovite army of slaves.

  See the glorious banner of freedom unfurl'd.
      It waves o'er our lov'd native land.
  Muster round it, and valiantly prove to the world,
      That _alone_ we are able to stand.
  As our fathers who lie in their warrior graves,
  Fighting died, that their children might never be slaves.

  Then curs'd be the traitors who yield to the foe,
      And curs'd be the cowards who fly!
  May they ne'er while they live, peace or happiness know,
      And hated, and scorn'd, may they die!
  In lands far away may they rot in their graves,
  And their children bear ever the foul mark of slaves!

  Now sharpen our spears, well prove each tough bow,
      And the swords of our forefathers wield.
  Don the armour so often they wore 'gainst the foe,
      Seize each rifle and glittering shield,
  And their shadows yet hovering over their graves,
  Will guard us from foes who would make us their slaves.

  Then to arms, then to arms, and this harp shall proclaim
      The proud deeds that your valour has done;
  And the world shall resound with the praise of your name,
      To be handed from sire to son;
  And tell of the heroes who lie in their graves,
  Who died that the Atteghei ne'er should be slaves.

The warriors grasped their swords, their eyes kindled, their breasts
heaved at the minstrel's tones, the effect was such as would be
difficult to understand from the above meagre translation, without the
accompaniment of the bard's rich and animated voice, and the high loud
tones of his instrument.

Several other baras succeeded, taking various themes for their song.
When describing the heroic deeds of their warriors, their tones were
lofty and inspiring.  When singing of their untimely deaths, cut off by
the foe, their voices would sink to a low and plaintive wail.  When
picturing the beauty of some maiden more lovely still than her
companions, the air would be soft, sweet, and melting.

When the banquet was concluded, the gallant Hadji and his brother,
Achmet Beg, rose to depart, for their home was at no great distance, and
the Hadji's wife was anxiously expecting the return of her lord, though
the old warrior dreamed not of giving himself a day's rest, but had
engaged to be ready on the following morning, to accompany the other
chiefs to the banks of the Ubin.

When search was made for young Alp, he was nowhere to be found, for he
had early stolen from the feast.

"Your gallant son has been a constant visitor here, of late," said the
venerable host to the Hadji.  "The youth loves to listen to my tales of
our wars with the Urus.  He will follow closely in your steps, noble
Hadji, and I love him much.  I know not if it is so; but I sometimes
think he casts an eye of affection towards my Zara; and if it please
you, my friend, he may have her."

"It is no time for the youth to take to himself a wife, when his
thoughts ought to be alone of war," answered the Hadji; "but Mashallah!
he would be happy to possess so sweet a partner."

The aged chieftain's suspicion was correct, for Alp was at last
discovered, coming from the direction of the anderoon; and he set off
with his father to their home.

The next morning a large band of warriors, amounting almost to a small
army, assembled in the valley, prepared to set off for the camp on the
Ubin.  Headed by the aged chief, they repaired to a sacred grove in the
neighbourhood, in which stood an ancient stone cross, a relic of the
former religion of the country, round which the chieftains and their
followers knelt, while supplications were addressed to the One
all-powerful being, to aid their arms in driving the Urus from their
country.  Each warrior bore a chaplet in his hand, which he hung up as a
votive offering to the Divinity--a heathen custom handed down from the
remotest times.

This ceremony being performed, the chiefs mounted their war-steeds, and
commenced their journey; the aged chief raising his hands towards
Heaven, bestowing blessings on them as they passed.

Selem had much difficulty in compelling young Conrin to remain behind;
but at last he succeeded in drawing a reluctant promise from the boy
that he would not quit the valley without permission, but would remain
as the page of Ina, and obey her behests.  He did not attempt to
persuade Thaddeus to accompany him, and the young Pole had found
attractions, stronger even than those of friendship, to detain him in
the valley.  It would also have been against the usual custom to allow
one, who had so lately quitted the enemy, to appear in arms on the side
of the patriots; a degree of suspicion existing among the chiefs against
all strangers, until their fidelity to the cause had been proved.  He
therefore remained, with Karl as his attendant--a life the honest serf
seemed wonderfully to enjoy.

Volume 3, Chapter II.

Deep was the grief of Ina when she saw her beloved father and brother
depart for the scene of conflict, nor could her heart refrain from sad
forebodings when she thought of the dangers to which they must be
exposed.  Too often had she been witness to the misery and heart-rending
wailing of her countrywomen, when anxiously expecting a father, a
husband, or a brother, as they met in lieu the mangled remains of the
loved one brought home on a bloody bier by his comrades.  Such grief she
herself had never known; but she felt too clearly that horrors like
those might be in store, too, for her; nor could the fierce blast of
war, which raged round the land, steel her heart.

Zara did all in her power to tranquillise and cheer her friend under her
affliction; but too well could she also enter into and share her fears,
for she had seen her gallant father brought home stiff and cold on his
shield, slaughtered by the foe in repelling an inroad into his country.
That father was the last prop of her grandsire's declining years; and
hopelessly for him had the old man mourned, for he had now no warrior
descendant to succeed to his name and possessions, and none to guard his
child from danger.  At his death the disposal of Zara in marriage would
devolve on the eldest of his tribe, and they would not inquire if her
heart could be given with her person.  Her destiny, therefore, might be
a cruel one.  A new chief would be chosen to lead the clan to battle,
and, in peace, to preside at their councils, and poor Zara might be
neglected.

Such was the fair girl's account of herself; and thus the two friends,
by pouring their griefs into each other's bosom, found mutual
consolation.  She confessed, indeed, that there was one whom she hoped
might win her, and whom she thought loved her; but he had no wealth, and
as yet had little renown in arms.  Yet she whispered to her friend's
ear, that she fondly loved the gallant young Alp, though she had enjoyed
but few opportunities of meeting him.

The aged Prince, Aitek Tcherei, having warmly embraced the tenets of
Mahomet, the two maidens were more strictly secluded than Ina had been
accustomed to; the old Ana, or nurse, who presided over the domestic
arrangements of the anderoon, keeping a constant and vigilant watch upon
them.  Though the custom of the country would not allow of their being
limited to the same strict seclusion as in a Turkish harem, the nurse
was, nevertheless, horrified at the idea of Ina's appealing in public
without her face being entirely shrouded by a thick veil, nor did she at
all approve of her propensity to ramble through the groves, or amid the
shadowy cliffs.

The old Kahija's ideas of female happiness did not extend beyond the
acquisition of a new veil or robe, or, more than all, the enjoyment of a
gossip.  What pleasure could the girls find in scrambling over the dirty
mountains and damp grass? or why should they dance or sing, except to
please their lords and masters, when other persons are paid to dance and
sing to them?

Her parents had sold her, when young and promising great beauty, to a
Turkish slave-merchant; and it was with unalloyed pleasure, in
anticipation of the novelty and magnificence of the great Stamboul, that
she leaped on board the vessel which was to convey her from her friends
and country.  At first she herself felt the irksomeness of constraint;
but soon became reconciled to her self-chosen lot, and learned to
approve of all the regulations of the harem to which she was consigned.
Her notions, therefore, on her return, at the death of her master, to
her own country, were much scandalised at the freedom and what she
considered the levity of her young countrywomen; and she loved to
expatiate on the superior manners and customs of the fair captives in
the seclusions of Stamboul.  Like other dames, who find that their
charms can no longer captivate, her temper at times became rather cross
and crabbed, though she always tried to treat her young motherless
charge with kindness.

Such was the old Ana, Kahija, who, wrapped in her feridji, now entered
the anderoon to interrupt with her gossip the conversation of the two
maidens.  She delighted in gossiping--what old nurse does not?
particularly a Turkish one.  She now came out of breath, with her
exertion of walking from a neighbouring cottage, to say with great
eagerness, that the chief shepherd had just come in from the distant
mountains, where he had seen the dark mountain khan, Khoros Kaloret,
whose brother had turned traitor, and been killed by the young chief
Selem, galloping by with a long train of savage followers, who were
riding furiously in the direction of the Ubin.

"Oh, Allah, grant that he meet not my father or Selem there!" exclaimed
Ina, in accents of terror.

"I know not what may happen, child," said the old nurse.  "They say he
is a fierce chief.  I hear, too, that he sought your hand.  Mashallah!
but you might have been proud to wed so rich a Khan; and yet, Bosh! what
is he even to a merchant of Stamboul?"

"Why could you not love him?" asked Zara; "they say he is of gallant
appearance."

"Ah, Zara! love him? you know not what love is, to ask such a question.
Love him!  No!  I could only fear him, he looks so stern and fierce; so
unlike the calm and grave features of my father," said Ina.

"What is all this stuff the girls are talking about love?" chimed in the
old nurse.  "Bosh! what nonsense is this?  Love!  What is love? it is
nothing; it is worse than nothing; it is folly--it is Bosh!  What should
maidens know about love?  Let them be married, and then it is time to
love their lords and masters."

Ina and Zara were in despair; for it was hopeless to carry on any
interesting conversation on their own feelings, with the constant
observations and interruptions of old Kahija; who could be very
entertaining at times, when she had the whole of the conversation to
herself, with her wonderful stories about Turkey and Stamboul.  They
were relieved, however, from the dulness their constrained silence threw
over them, by the entrance of Conrin, with a small packet from his
master to Ina.

We have said that Arslan Gherrei had been educated in Turkey, and held a
high post in the army of the Sultan, where he acquired many
accomplishments very unusual to the generality of his countrymen.  In
the calm retreat of his daughter's anderoon, when no strangers were by
to witness his occupation, he had endeavoured to cultivate her youthful
mind by the aid of the few books he had brought with him; and he had
taught her not only to speak, but to read and write Turkish,
accomplishments possessed probably by no other maiden in Circassia; for
few were blessed with fathers equally heroic in war, and capable of
enjoying the blessings of peace.

Zara, ignorant of her friend's accomplishments, looked with mute
surprise when Ina, taking the note from the page's hand, hastily broke
the thread which tied it, and read an account of the safety of her
father and brother, as far as they had as yet proceeded in their warlike
operations.  The page was equally eager.

"Tell me, lady, tell me is my dear master in safety?" he said.

"Yes he is.  Allah be praised! he and my father are well; and he tells
me not to forget my care of you, Conrin."

"Heaven be praised that he is safe.  That he remembers me, brings joy to
my heart!" exclaimed the youth, clasping his hands.

The venerable Prince was kind and courteous in the extreme to his Polish
guest; yet Thaddeus found, to his great disappointment, that the
anderoon was, to him, forbidden ground; and instead of the constant
communication he had delighted in the prospect of enjoying with Ina, he
could never approach her, except to offer a few words of courtesy when
she was taking the air.  Those short sentences were understood by
Kahija, who was scandalised that the young lady should be addressed,
even in the ordinary terms of greeting; and more so on perceiving that
Ina tolerated them.  All his attempts at any further conversation were
fruitless, owing to the constant vigilance of the old woman; and Ina's
native modesty forbade her making any advances herself, however she
might have received them on his part.

At last he bethought him of gaining the confidence of young Conrin; but
the boy constantly avoided him, though he would now and then stop to
listen if he began to speak of his master, and to make any observations
in his praise.  He thus felt the time hang heavily daring the absence of
his friend; for he had few to converse with, except the old Prince, who
spoke Turkish, and some of the Polish prisoners, or rather deserters,
from the Russian army; his only satisfaction being the occasional
glimpses he caught of Ina, and the delight of hearing the musical tones
of her voice as she returned his salutations.

His great resource was the chase.  With a light rifle in his hand, and
attended by Karl and his former Polish servant, who enjoyed their life
of freedom and independence, so different from the abject servitude to
which they had hitherto been accustomed, he roamed the woods and
mountains.  In these excursions he was also accompanied by several of
the youths of the valley, too young to go to war, who guided his steps
along the precipices, and shewed him where same abounded.  At other
times he would mount a steed, appropriated to his use, galloping along
the green valleys, and up the mountain's sides, and vieing with the
young mountaineers in their equestrian exercises, till he became as
expert a horseman as they.  He would often, with his rifle, bring down a
bird on the wing which they could not hit; thus winning their hearts by
his proficiency in what they most admired.

He, however, began to regret not having accompanied his friend to the
camp; and accused himself of want of friendship towards him.

We have said that Ina longed to breathe the free air of the mountains,
unrestrained in her liberty by the slow-moving steps of old Kahija.
Though she could not persuade the timid Zara to accompany her, she
frequently asserted her independence by sallying forth attended only by
her page.  On her return, she listened, with composure, to the severe
lectures she received for these transgressions of decorum; and still
determined to renew them at every opportunity.  How delighted she felt
as, bounding like a young fawn, whose fleetness she rivalled, she flew
through the shady groves.  Then she would climb the mountain's brow,
inhaling the fresh pure air, and almost forgetting, as she gazed over
the fair land of mountain, vale, and stream, the miseries which
threatened it.

Towards the end of one lovely day, she left the confines of the
anderoon, attended by her page, who had now learned to love her, not
more from his affection for her brother than for her own endearing
qualities; looking around from the open wicket and seeing none to impede
her progress, she took her way through the grove towards a valley she
had long wished to explore, at some distance from the house.  It was a
lovely place, originally formed from a fissure in the mountains,
increased by the constant wear of winter floods.  Under the summer heat,
the torrent had dwindled into a tiny and clear rivulet, in one part
leaping in a bright cascade, then flowing in a gentle current, and next
rushing over a ledge of rocks, and falling into the larger valley, where
it expanded into a tiny lake.

The lady and her attendant walked on by its side over the soft velvet
herbage which the receding waters had left, and began to climb the rocky
sides of the glen, the summits of which were now blooming with various
sweet scented shrubs and herbs.  A soft and mellow sky cast a soothing
influence over the scene, and the air was laden with fragrant odours.
Thoughtless of the difficulties they had passed, and fearless of the
steep and rocky paths, they clambered on, leaping lightly from ledge to
ledge, and holding by the shrubs and plants to aid their steps, till at
length they reached a platform, where they rested to view the broad and
beautiful valley into which the little ravine opened.

Below them was the smiling village amid its groves of stately trees, its
farm-yards, granaries, orchards, and cattle-pens.  At a little distance,
at the side of the stream, was the rustic and unpretending Mosque, from
the platform of whose primitive minaret the Muezzin was calling all true
believers to the evening prayer.  Here were shepherds driving their
flocks from the mountain's side to their pens, to shelter them from the
wild beasts.  The kine were lowing on their way to their sheds, while
the village maidens carolled gaily as they milked their cows.  The birds
were singing from every rock and spray; and all living nature seemed
calm and contented--

The page roused Ina from her contemplation of the scene.

"Lady," said he, "we ought ere this to have sought our homeward way: the
path is steep and difficult, and the shades of evening will overtake us,
ere we can reach the valley."

"Fear not, Conrin.  There are no dangers we need dread," returned Ina.
"Old Kahija's scolding is the worst that can happen to us.  We mountain
maids are sure of foot, and fearless as you seem, on the edge of the
steepest precipice.  But, as you say, it is full time we should return
home; for, as it is, we shall be missed from the anderoon, and old
Kahija will think that we have fled for ever from her grave rule."

But as they looked round, doubtful on what part of the steep cliff to
begin their descent, they found that to return was not so easy an
achievement as Ina had pronounced it to be; for so many turnings had
they taken, that they could not discover the path by which they had
attained the spot where they stood.

It was difficult to say how they could have reached their present
position, as in vain they searched for the path.  At length, Conrin
hazarded a spring to a lower ledge, from which it appeared that
practicable footing was to be found, when he was startled by a scream
from above; and, gazing upward, he beheld the Lady Ina in the grasp of a
ferocious, wild-looking man, who was endeavouring to drag her up the
steep cliff, while she resisted with all her power, calling her page to
her assistance.  Conrin fruitlessly attempted to reach the upper ledge,
for the slender shrubs and herbage gave way in his hands as he clutched
them.  Trembling with agitation, he fell back to the spot from which he
was strenuously trying to climb.

The man's appearance was, in truth, ferocious.  Of gigantic height, his
face was almost covered with tangled dark locks hanging down from his
head, on which he wore a cap of undyed brown and white goat-skin, the
long hair of which, falling in front over his neck, added to the
wildness of his features.  His body was clothed in a tunic of the same
material, and a long black cloak of goat's hair fell from his shoulders.
Rough sandals of bark were on his feet, fastened to his ankles by
thongs of leather.  At his back hung a bow and quiver, and in one hand
he grasped a thick spear or club and a round black shield of bull's
hide; while in the other he held the slender form of Ina.

"Set me at freedom!  How dare you thus insult me?" she cried.  "I would
seek my way homeward."

"Not so, fair maiden," answered the man with rough harsh tones, in a
strange dialect, though Ina could comprehend it sufficiently to
understand the tenor of his words.  "Not so; you are a prize of too much
value to be allowed to escape so easily."

"Begone, barbarian, and loose your hold," cried Ina, though fearful and
trembling in his rude grasp, yet retaining her native dignity.  "Think
you to escape the vengeance of my tribe, if you should wrong me?"

"Vengeance! say you?" exclaimed the man scornfully.  "Think you I fear
the vengeance of any?"

"You will have cause to fear it, if you do not release me," she
answered.  "Know you not what chieftain's child I am?"

"I know full well," said the savage.  "You are the daughter of the chief
who wronged my master; who slew my master's brother; and you are the
timid maid who would not be his bride.  But now you'll not again refuse
to obey his will."

"I know not of whom you speak," cried Ina.  "My father never slew a
chief of Atteghei."

"I know your father well," answered the ruffian.  "He is the Chieftain
Arslan Gherrei, and you refused to be the bride of the brave Khan, my
master, Khoros Kaloret."

"Your master Kaloret Khan?" cried Ina, still more terrified than before,
at the sound of that name.  "Yet he would never dare to rob a noble
Uzden of his daughter.  Release me, ruffian!"

"My master fears not any chief of Atteghei," answered the man, fiercely.
"I'll waste no more speech; so cease your cries, and come willingly.
My noble master waits your coming."

Ina shrieked with fear.  "Oh, Allah, protect me!" she cried, as the
savage endeavoured to drag her away.  "Barbarian, release me, I pray
you, let me go."

"No, no, girl, your prayers are useless," answered the man.  "Let my
master hear them.  On me, they are thrown away."

"Haste, haste, Conrin," she cried, in Turkish; "fly to our home.  Send
messengers to Selem, to my father, and rouse the villagers."

As the barbarian saw the page hastening to obey, he said to Ina: "Stay
that boy, till we are out of sight.  If he moves hence, I'll send an
arrow through his breast."

Conrin, who understood not his words--Ina being too terrified to
interpret them--was hurrying from rock to rock, fearless of the peril
which a single false step might cause, or of the cruel death which
threatened him; when the barbarian prepared to put his threat into
execution.  For an instant, he loosened his hold of Ina, unslinging his
bow from his back, and drawing a shaft to its head, with a hand which
never missed its aim.  In vain, Ina shrieked to Conrin to stop, and
implored the monster to hold his hand.  Neither of them heard her voice.

The last moment of the poor boy's life seemed to have arrived, as the
arrow flew from the string; but ere the hand which drew it reached the
ear, it was struck by a violent blow, and the shaft wavering in its aim,
flew high above the page's head.  The fierce mountaineer, taking a
second arrow, turned to his aggressor, when he found his arm held by a
powerful and firm grasp.

Ina shrieked with fear for her preserver's life--for in him she beheld
the stranger Thaddeus--as the follower of the Khan attempted to seize
his heavy spear, and to fell him to the ground.  But the young Pole,
grappling with him, prevented his raising it high enough to strike.
Though Thaddeus was strong and active, his fierce opponent was heavier
and more powerful.  Releasing his arm with a sudden exertion, he sought
his dagger in his girdle; but the Pole throwing himself upon him with
his whole force, the two combatants fell to the ground.

"Fear not for me, dearest Ina," cried he; "save yourself.  Hasten down
the cliffs, and fly homewards.  I will hold this robber, until you are
safe."

Ina scarcely heard his words, or, if she did, thought not of following
his advice; but trembling for his life, she watched the combat, so as,
if possible, to lend her aid.  For an instant, Thaddeus was uppermost;
but endeavouring to grasp his opponent's throat, he was obliged to
release one arm; when, drawing his dagger from his belt, the
mountaineer, by a violent effort, threw himself round, grasping the
fatal weapon in his hand, and bringing the unfortunate youth below him.
He was about to stab the young Pole, when another, though a feeble hand,
directed its aim, and it struck deeply into the earth, in a cleft of the
rock.

Thaddeus seized the dagger; when his opponent, with tremendous exertion,
arose and attempted to hurl him over the cliff; but as the mountaineer
approached the edge, his foot slipped.  Seizing the fortunate moment,
and mustering all his strength, Thaddeus struck the dagger deep into his
breast.  The huge barbarian fell heavily, still clasping Thaddeus in his
arms, who, nevertheless, forced him to the edge of the platform, when
the body rolled over to a jutting craig, some feet below where they
stood.

Recovering himself, Thaddeus turned to Ina, "Lady," he said, "I owe my
life to your courage: your timely aid saved me."

"Oh, no," she cried; "it was you who saved my life, and more than life,
for which you bravely risked your own.  Allah be praised, who guarded
yours, and brought you to my rescue!  You also saved poor Conrin's life.
But let us not stay here.  The comrades of the man may come and revenge
his death on you.  Oh, let us hasten home."

"I will bear you safely down these steep cliffs, lady," said Thaddeus;
"you are weak, and scarce able to walk from terror."

Lifting her gently (and Ina thought not of resisting his offer), with
firm and fearless steps, he sought a path amid the craigs; and as he
bore her slight form in his arms, he felt her hand unconsciously press
his.  Her bright beaming eyes betrayed the ardent gratitude, which her
lips feared to utter.  She looked anxiously into his face, to learn if
he felt oppressed by fatigue; but there she read alone his love and
pride, at having saved her; nor could she bring herself to entreat him
to set her down, till they reached in safety the bottom of the glen.

"I am stronger now, and will fatigue your arms no longer, noble Sir,"
she said.  Thaddeus at last, unwillingly obeyed her repeated requests,
though she still consented to lean on his arm, as he accompanied her
homeward.

"Whence came that robber, who so terrified you?" asked Thaddeus.

"Oh he was no robber," answered Ina.  "But a follower of the fierce
Khan, whose brother the young Conrin slew and who seeks to wed me."

"Wed you, lady?  Can such as he be worthy of you?" exclaimed the young
Pole with enthusiasm.

"I know not; but I never loved him," answered Ina; "and now I doubly
fear his vengeance for your sake.  When he hears that you have slain his
follower, he will not rest till he has had satisfaction for his blood.
I would that you were safe beyond his reach!"

"I do not dread any injury he can do me," cried Thaddeus.  "To have
saved you from danger is so great a joy that I would die to gain it."

Ina felt her heart beat quickly as he spoke; for the tone of his voice
said more even than the words themselves.

It was a moment of delight--of pure bliss to both those young beings;
notwithstanding the wildness of the scene, the danger they had passed
through and which might be still pursuing them.  They knew that they
mutually loved.  They attempted not to speak; for they felt that words
would not adequately convey their love.  They looked into each other's
eyes, and there they read all each could wish to know.  Ina thought of
her preserver, and the danger he was yet in; and, as she hastened
through the glen, she cast many an anxious glance to see if any
followed.  She thought that she heard a footstep; it was but the rushing
of the stream across a rock; she tried to increase her speed; again she
turned with fear--it was but the echo of their tread among the cliffs.

Thaddeus endeavoured to tranquillise her alarms; and partially
succeeded, by assuring her that he had himself descended the ravine, and
had encountered no one.  As they emerged from the narrow gorge, loud
shouts saluted their ears, and they met a band of villagers led on by
Conrin, who, overcome by his exertions, sunk down at his mistress's feet
on seeing she was safe.  Ina stooped over the poor boy with deep
solicitude, endeavouring to unloose his vest; but he strenuously
resisted her offers, declaring that he was fast recovering.

The party, composed of old and young, armed with weapons, shouted loudly
for joy when they saw Ina in safety; she thanked them for their
promptitude in coming to her rescue, and presented Thaddeus as her
preserver.  The villagers complimented him on his bravery and success,
as with shouts and songs, they followed her homeward.  The aged chief
had left his house to encourage the people in their pursuit of the
ravisher; but, when he saw his young kinswoman in safety, he felt a
strong inclination to scold her for wandering.  As, however, she
appeared overcome with fatigue, he forbore, and left her to the lectures
he knew she would be certain to receive from the old Kahija.

Thaddeus would not quit her side until he had conducted her to the gate
of the anderoon, to commit her to the gentle care of Zara who was
anxiously awaiting her.

Volume 3, Chapter III.

The Circassian chieftains had chosen for the encampment of their
irregular but numerous army, a picturesque spot, of which the beauty was
much encreased by the wild and warlike bands now filling it.  It was in
a rich and verdant valley watered by the streams of the Aphibs and the
Ubin.

By the banks of the latter river the greater part of the tents were
pitched beneath the lofty trees; some growing in clumps and others
scattered over the meadows as in a highly cultivated park.  The ground
rose in gentle grassy undulations from the banks of the river, swelling
into round hills covered with the richest verdure, on which fed numerous
flocks and herds; while, further off, men, women, and children were
employed in the agricultural labour of the fields, unimpeded by the
presence of the warriors.  In the far distance were seen the lofty
pinnacles of the Black Mountains.

Each chief had selected some spot on which to pitch his tent, as his
taste dictated, while their respective clansmen and followers were
stationed around them.

Here some stalwart chief reposed on the turf in front of his tent,
smoking the long chibouque, while looking at his followers engaged in
every description of warlike exercise.  Some selected a mark on a tree,
and, retreating to a distance, fixed their hatchets in it with unerring
aim; others hurled the heavy javelin; some the light dart; while
numbers, with their bows in hand, were taking sure aim at a greater
distance.  Some, too, were practising wrestling and running.

In one place, the sound of the smith's anvil and hammer was heard
repairing fire-arms for the coming fight.  In the river the young men
were engaged in teaching their horses to swim across rivers so as to be
ready for any sudden excursion into the enemy's country.  Here a troop
of gallant young nobles, on their long-tailed swift steeds, were seen
scouring along the valleys, and up the sides of the hills.  The many
coloured and richly-silvered trappings of their horses, and their own
jewelled weapons and armour, shone brightly as they appeared amid the
trees.  It was, in truth, a brilliant, warlike, and exciting scene.

The chiefs and nobles were dressed in their complete war array; some in
superbly embossed and ornamented armour, of polished steel; others in
beautifully wrought chain armour fitting closely to the body, and being
pliable to every movement, shewed off their graceful figures to
advantage.  The lofty plumes of their helms towered far above the heads
of their followers, as they moved through the crowd; their jewelled
poniards (the insignia of their rank) were placed in girdles richly
worked in gold; and all their other arms were also highly ornamented.
Some of the venerable elders appeared in turbans and long robes, the
garb of peace; and a few nobles wore the simple and elegant
tight-fitting coat, richly trimmed with silver lace, and embroidered
belts to hold their arms.

The army was composed of people of many different tribes and races from
all parts of the Caucasus, speaking various languages, having many
different customs, with great variations in costume.  First, in numbers
and bravery, were the tribes of the Atteghei, consisting of the Abzeki,
Khapsoukhi, Nothakhaitze, the Demirghoi, and many others.  Bands of the
disciplined Lesghians had come from the far off plains bordering on the
Caspian, to war with the oppressors of their own country, with whom they
there could not venture to compete.  There were bands, also, of the
nomadic tribes, the short broad-faced Calmuck and the Nogai Tartars.
Many warriors, also, had come from Georgia, Mingrelia, and Immeritia,
which countries have succumbed to the Russian power, but still bear her
the most deadly hatred.  Some bands had descended from the wild Alpine
retreats of the snowy mountains, wild as the regions they inhabited or
the beasts they rode, a small, uncouth, though hardy and active race.
These were dark-visaged men, with projecting jaws, and black shaggy
beards, mostly clothed in skins, with fur caps, and garments of the
roughest materials.  Though addicted to roving and predatory habits,
they were now animated with the common feeling of hatred to the Urus.

There were the tribes of the Tubi and the Ubick; who fought on foot,
owing to the inaccessible nature of their mountain-homes, where no horse
can find a safe footing, and none can venture but the nimble-footed
inhabitants, and the active goats and chamois.  They are mostly of
gigantic height, with handsome countenances, but fierce in appearance
even to wildness, which was not a little increased by their sheep skin
turbans, the long white wool of which curled over their face and
shoulders.  They wore the tight-fitting tunic of the Circassians, over
which was thrown a black mantle of goat and sheep skin hair, platted
together; while their sandals were formed of the bark of the linden
tree.  Each man was armed with a hatchet and poniard in his belt, a
light gun on his shoulder, while in his hand he carried a weighty and
knotted club, furnished at the end with a long steel barb to assist him
in crossing streams, or springing from cliff to cliff.  It served also
as a rest to his gun to take more deadly aim, and as a weapon in the
chase, or in his hours of amusement as a toy, to hurl with fearful
exactness at a mark.

Besides these, came another tribe of foot warriors, of ferocious
appearance, from the upper regions of the Black Mountains, bearing
large, black, round shields made of wood, strengthened with bands of
iron or yew, covered with the hide of the buffalo.  These people were
armed chiefly with the primitive bow and arrow, with which they can take
the most certain aim.

There were also some of the fierce Tartar tribes, the most deadly foes
to Russia, owing to her usurpation of their country.  When driven as
exiles and wanderers from their native land, they settled in the before
uninhabited and almost inaccessible regions of the Caucasian range.
They also wore jackets of skins and fur turbans, adding to the natural
ferocity of their countenances.  Their arms were broad curving
scymitars, and long heavy Greek guns, with pistols and hatchets stuck in
their belts, and embroidered with silver.

Even Europe furnished many warriors from ill-fated and ruined Poland,
who had found refuge and sympathy among the generous mountaineers, to
try their swords against the hated Moscov.

Among the infantry, the only bands which had any pretension to regular
discipline were the Lesghians, who manoeuvre in compact bodies on their
own plains, though their style of fighting is not well adapted to the
mountain warfare of the Circassians.

The followers of the princes and nobles of the Atteghei were habited
much alike, in the tight-fitting elegant tunic, without collar to
confine the neck, which was left bare; large trowsers, ornamented
girdles, embroidered slippers, or low boots of coloured leather, and the
broad-crowned low cap, either of hair, or cloth, or leather, trimmed
with fur.  All had sabres by their sides and the cama in their belts;
but many carried the bow and arrow without fire-arms.  The greater
number were provided with horses, which they had decked with all the
ornaments they could collect.

The elders and judges, who had repaired to the camp to give their advice
and counsel, wore large white turbans and long vests, and might be seen
sedately seated beneath the shade of wide spreading trees, in circles,
holding grave debates, their white beards flowing over their breasts,
and giving them a grave and venerable appearance.  Many of them, who had
served in Turkey, retained the costume of that country; adding to the
picturesque variety of dress to be found among this congregation of
brave warriors.

No regular arrangement had been preserved in the formation of the camp;
the different bands pitching their tents, or building their leafy
shelters where they pleased.  Many of the warriors had been followed to
the camp by their wives, to attend to their tents and to dress their
food: their tall and graceful forms were dressed in flowing robes of
varied tints, embroidered with gold and silver, and long white veils
falling from their heads as they were seen gliding among the trees.

The camp was unfortified; but though a short distance only from the
Russian posts, there was no chance of a surprise, as scouts and advanced
parties were constantly watching their foes, who could not make the
slightest movement without due notice being given.  This was the
principal camp of the Abasians; but there were others under experienced
leaders, along their frontiers towards Anapa, watching the enemy's
castles in that direction.

Such was the magnificent spectacle which greeted Selem's eyes as, in
company with his father and Hadji Guz Beg, they descended from a
mountain-ridge into the valley of the Ubin, the refulgence of the
evening sun throwing a lustre over the animated and exciting scene.  As
their squires discharged their rifles, numerous chiefs hastened forth
from their tents, or from among the thickets and trees, mounting their
chargers and galloping to meet their brothers in arms.  While they rode
on, others came from all directions, greeting with warm congratulations
the arrival of the Hadji and Arslan Gherrei; nor were the younger nobles
less pleased to see young Alp, who was a favourite with all.

The chiefs cast inquiring looks at Selem, and when Arslan Gherrei
proudly introduced him as his son, relating his romantic history and
recent exploits, loud shouts hailed him as a chief of Circassia.  His
heart beat with pride at having acquired that glorious appellation, as
his brother warriors came forward to grasp his hand in welcome.

Their followers assembled under a grove of lofty trees near the river; a
few minutes only elapsed since their arrival at the spot, before their
tents were erected and every arrangement made for their accommodation.

Selem then accompanied his father through the encampment, to learn the
proceedings and intentions of the leaders.  Various plans of operations
had been discussed; but, unfortunately, unanimity did not reign in their
councils as to the best mode of proceeding.--The most sagacious were,
however, for preventing the large Russian army, which threatened them,
from advancing into the interior, without expending their strength in
minor exploits: but others were for making excursions into the country
of the Cossacks at unguarded posts, while the enemy were elsewhere
engaged, and some were for at once storming the Russian forts.  Selem
saw with grief and pain the sad want of organisation in an army capable,
if well directed, of driving back their foes to their own bleak steppes.
But they were destitute of artillery and ammunition; and he saw too
clearly that no great object could be attained beyond the strict defence
of their native mountains.  Yet, without some object in view, that vast
multitude, unaccustomed to any combined movement, would soon be weary of
restraint, and might, in a few hours, melt away like snow before the
rays of the sun, and return to their own homes.  They required some
chief of superior talents, whom all would acknowledge as their
commander, to lead them to war; and they would then become invincible.
This want their invaders well knew, and reckoned on accordingly.

The next morning the sun rose with unclouded splendour over the
beautiful valley of the Ubin, cheering the hearts of the assembled
warriors with an omen of success.  It was the day appointed for a solemn
ceremony to take place, namely, the administering an oath, which all the
princes, nobles, and leaders of Circassia had agreed to take, never to
sheathe their swords, or make terms with the enemy, till he had retired
from the neighbourhood of their country; and to sink in oblivion all
ancient feuds and animosities among themselves.  Many chiefs had already
bound themselves by this agreement; but the majority had hitherto kept
aloof from taking the oath, as it not only forbade them ever making
terms with their foes, but involved the necessity of restoring all
property unjustly retained from their countrymen.

Contiguous to the camp was a quiet and sequestered dell, with green
hills rising close around it, and filled by a grove of lofty and
venerable trees: a spot looked upon as sacred from time immemorial.  In
an open glade, in the centre of the grove, stood the mouldering remains
of a stone cross, near which, where the lofty trees threw their cool
shadows, now assembled hundreds of noble warrior chiefs.  One sentiment,
one soul, animated the breasts of all--the most deadly hatred to their
foes, and a determination to resist to the very last gasp.  Every one of
the various tribes and bands, which composed the patriot army, here sent
a representative to swear in their name, and to confer on measures for
the general advantage.

As the princes, nobles, and leaders arrived, they took their seats on
the green turf, when, all being assembled, a chief arose from the
circle, and advanced towards the centre.  His white turban, his long
robes, his hoary locks and flowing beard, bespoke his sacred character.
In his hands he held a book, which he raised aloft, as he knelt before
the cross, and offered up to the all-potent and all-omniscient Being,
whom every one present worshipped--whatever their other differences of
creed might be--a prayer for the success of the sacred cause of liberty,
and for the confusion of their tyrannical foes.  Every warrior, bowing
his head, reverently responded "Amen!" as the venerable sage ceased his
prayer.  Still holding the book before him, he rose, and, with a voice,
yet deep and sonorous, though at times trembling with age, he
exclaimed:--

"Noble warriors, chiefs of Circassia--we have this day assembled for a
great, for a righteous purpose.  It is to bind ourselves, by a solemn
compact, to exert all the energies of our souls and bodies to drive
hence the fell invaders of our country.  Never to sheathe our swords
while a foe to Circassia exists near her borders; to sink all private
feelings of animosity, and to offer the hand of love and fellowship to
all who will join us in this sacred cause.  I call on all present to
come forward, and to swear on the sacred book I hold, to conquer or die
for our country, and to shew the world, what a brave band of brothers,
though few in numbers compared to the vast hordes of our opponents, can
do for the cause of liberty."

As he finished his address, one of the most influential of the Princes
of the Atteghei advanced, and, reverently kneeling, kissed the book, and
took the required oath.  His example was followed by others, till the
enthusiasm became general, and all rushed eagerly forward to sign the
compact.  As they took the oath, they formed in circles, grasping each
other's hands, in token of their brotherhood.  Those who had never
before met, except with their hands on the hilts of their swords, now
joined them in the pressure of love and fellowship; and the ardent wish
of all, was to be led at once against the common foe.

Many, who had arrived too late for the opening of the ceremony, hastened
forward from all directions to swear eternal enmity to the Russians.
The aged judge again knelt, when all had subscribed the oath, to return
thanks to heaven for the concord which reigned throughout the band of
patriots; and, as the sacred ceremony concluded, loud shouts rent the
air, from the vast concourse of warriors who covered the sides of the
hills, and every woodland glade.  Had any Russian spy been present, he
might have warned his countrymen of the hopelessness of success, in
their nefarious attempt to subjugate so resolute a people.

Volume 3, Chapter IV.

Our hero and his friends had spent two days at the camp of the patriot
army on the Ubin, without devising any plan of operation, or without any
movement taking place among the Russians, when three horsemen were seen
riding at headlong speed down the sides of the mountains, towards the
camp.  The energies of the horses seemed taxed beyond their power.  One
noble animal fell, throwing his rider stunned before him.  The horse of
the second came down with tremendous force, after giving three or four
bounds, and making fruitless efforts to continue his course; but the
third, not stopping to see what had become of his companions, rode
furiously on to the camp, whence many chieftains and warriors rushed out
to hear the news he brought.

The messenger leaped from his steed as he came among them, the gallant
beast trembling in every limb, and scarcely able to continue on his legs
as he panted with exertion.

"Noble chieftains!" cried the messenger, "I bring you dire news from
Ghelendjik.  Three days ago, a numerous fleet of Russian ships was seen
to approach our coasts, from which a mighty army disembarked.  It is
hoped they will remain some days within their fort to rest from their
voyage; but, after that, there can be no doubt they will advance to
ravage the country, if a stronger force than is there collected, is not
opposed to them.  The men of Ghelendjik will do their utmost to stop the
invaders; but what can they hope to do against an overpowering force?
Our Seraskier, therefore, sent us here with haste to summon some of his
friends to join his army."

Among the foremost of the chiefs, who had hastened to meet the
messenger, was the gallant Hadji.  "Bismillah! not a moment is to be
lost then," he cried, seizing his standard from before his tent, waving
it aloft, and again plunging the staff into the ground.  "I will hasten
with joy to your chieftain's aid, and we will stop these Urus on their
march.  Gallant nobles and warriors, whoever among you will bear me
company to the aid of our hard-pressed countrymen, let them assemble
round this banner within three minutes, and we will away; for, perhaps,
before this the Russians may have begun their march.  Let those who
will, follow."

Saying which, the brave old chief hastened to don his helmet, his squire
leading forth his steed; and in less time than he had indicated, he was
on horseback by the side of his banner.  Alp soon galloped up, followed
by Selem, who directly volunteered to accompany his venerable friend,
after taking leave of his father, who was obliged to remain.  Before the
time for starting had arrived, numerous warriors came up from all
directions; the news, that an expedition was on foot, having flown like
lightning through the camp; so that, within five minutes of the arrival
of the messenger, several hundred horsemen had assembled, fully
equipped, to follow the Hadji.  Again seizing his standard, the Hadji
waved it aloft as a signal to march; when giving a loud shout, the band
of warriors set off at a quick speed, many others promising to follow.

The Hadji led on his followers as fast as they could proceed without
exhausting their horses, stopping only at night to rest for a few hours;
and before sun-rise they were again in their saddles.  Their anxiety to
hear some news of the enemy was extreme, for they were now approaching
the neighbourhood of the Russian fort; though it was impossible to say
in what part of the country they might sally out to commit their
depredations.

They drew rein on the summit of a mountain, from which they obtained a
far-off view of the sea, in the direction of Ghelendjik, and of the
intervening hills and valleys, from which, with their glasses, they
could perceive wreaths of smoke curling upwards to the clear sky in
every direction.  Alas! they told a sad tale of destruction going
forward!  As the Hadji gazed with an anxious eye to discover the cause--

"Curses on the fell Giaour!" he exclaimed.  "Yonder flames and smoke are
their hellish work!  See how the burning cottages, and farms, and ripe
corn fields of our countrymen, mark the course of our foes.  See, they
take the passes towards Anapa.  Ha! we may yet be in time to stop them
before they reach that castle.  They will no doubt attempt the passage
of the valley of the Zemes; and there the brave Seraskier Manjour Bey
will be found in waiting for them.  Onward, my friends, we will see what
these Moscov are about."

Saying which, the whole party urged their horses down the dizzy
mountain's side, crossing valleys, streams, rocks and hills, in their
eagerness to arrive at the scene of action.  It was nearly sun-set when
they came within hearing of distant and straggling shots; and,
surmounting a hill, they perceived in the broad valley below them, the
vast Russian force winding its way by the side of a clear stream, which
protected one flank.

The long and close columns advanced in regular and steady order; their
colours waving above their heads, their bands playing animating and
lively airs, and their artillery guarding their van and rear.  Trains of
baggage and ammunition waggons were in the centre, furnished with all
the "materiel" for war; while troops of Cossacks scoured the fields on
each side, to protect their flanks, and to guard them from a surprise.
Here and there might be seen hovering around them, parties of the
patriot horsemen, every now and then charging the Cossacks, grappling
with their opponents, bearing them off, or cutting them down, ere the
Russians could point their howitzers at the assailants.

A messenger now arrived who had been sent in search of the Hadji's party
from the Seraskier, then commanding the main body of the Circassians
assembled to impede the Russian's progress.  He informed them that this
chief had determined to hazard no engagement till the enemy had entered
the valley of the Zemes, which they would probably do on the following
morning; calling in all stragglers to form an ambuscade, except a few
scouts to watch the movements of the foe.  The Hadji and his party
directly determined to obey the wishes of the General, as did most of
the parties who had been engaged in harassing the enemy's advance;
though a few still continued hovering on his flanks.

The Hadji and his followers, therefore, turned their horses' heads in
the direction of the spot where their friends were assembled; riding
over the summit of the hills, which bounded the valley, till they
arrived at the edge of the lofty cliffs forming the sides of the pass or
glen of the Zemes.  The Seraskier Manjour Bey came forward to welcome
the friends who had so opportunely arrived; and led them round to the
places where he had posted his men, who were to sleep that night on
their arms ready for any sudden movement of the enemy, should they
attempt to pass through the gorge under cover of the night; the Hadji
placing his followers in other advantageous positions.  Behind every
rock and bush, on every projecting craig where footing was to be found,
were to be seen the athletic forms of the highland warriors, their
rifles and bows ready for action, and their ears intent to catch the
first notes of the Russian horns in their advance.  Many also, in places
to which they could lead their horses, were crouching down by the side
of the well-trained animals, hidden by the thick brushwood and broken
rocks.

It was but a small body of mountaineers whom the Hadji and Selem found
assembled; they were entirely destitute of artillery, and there was a
scarcity of ammunition.  They could, therefore, depend alone on their
sharp broad swords to contend with the well-trained bands of Europe
supplied with all the "materiel" of war.  The Hadji was deeply
disappointed when he discovered the hopelessness of entirely
annihilating the Russian army, as he at first expected; but he
determined to gall them, as much as possible, in their march.

Here the brave patriot band continued the live-long night in eager
expectation; not a word above a whisper being uttered to disturb the
dead silence which reigned around.  Young Alp remained by his father's
side, as did Selem, for they well knew that where the fight was
thickest, there would the gallant old warrior be found.  Seated on the
soft heather, on a bank rising but a little way above the bottom of the
glen, they passed the night, listening to his long tales of war, and his
adventures.  Our hero, unaccustomed as yet to the night watch, and the
bivouac, was worked up to the highest pitch of excitement and
expectation; the night seemed interminably protracted; but to the other
hardy warriors it was an affair of constant occurrence, though they
were, perhaps, no less eager for the issue of the approaching combat,
which might be of such vital importance to the liberty of the province
of Khapsoukhi.

At length, as reclined on the turf, he gazed up into the pure calm sky,
dotted with myriads of stars, they seemed to grow fainter and fainter,
until he could scarcely distinguish them, amid the blue void.  He sprung
to his feet; not a sound was heard; the first faint streaks of dawn
appeared in the east, yet no one moved from the leafy shelter.  The sun
rose, a vast globe of living fire, glowing as if in anger at the scene
of blood on which his beams were so soon to shine; now throwing a
glowing red flame on the dew-besprinkled trees above their heads, soon
to be followed by one of still deeper hue.

So calm and quiet was the scene, that a traveller might have passed
through the glen, unconscious that he was surrounded by hundreds of
warriors and their steeds.  All were on the tiptoe of expectation; for
every moment might bring up the Russian army; when the interest was
increased tenfold as the scouts, breaking through the brushwood, spurred
their horses up the sides of the glen.

"The Urus are advancing!  The Urus are advancing!" they cried, as they
passed to make their report to the Seraskier, and to take their station
within the shelter of the thickets.  All things wore again the silence
of the grave; then the cheering sounds of drums and fifes came faintly
on the breeze, through the windings of the valley; next, the firm tread
of the approaching host might be heard; and then appeared the advance
guard of the Russian army.  Onward they came, regardless of danger.
Each of the highland warriors held his breath with eagerness, and more
firmly grasped his sword to spring forward on the foe; or kept his
finger on the lock of his rifle, or drew his arrow to his ear, prepared
for the word of command to commence the work of death.

Not a leaf moved, not a whisper was heard, when the advancing column of
the Russian force appeared in sight.  The leading file came directly
below the ambuscade.  At this moment, a terrific cry arose from the
sides of the glen, reverberating from rock to rock, from craig to craig,
down the whole extent of the savage pass.

"Come, my sons, now is the moment; we'll up and be at them.  Follow,
those who will.  Wa Allah!  Allah!  Allah!" cried the gallant Hadji,
springing to his horse.  His example was followed by Alp, Selem, and
about twenty other warriors, who drew their scymitars as they rushed
from the leafy cover; shrieking, rather than shouting their war cry, and
dashing among the foremost ranks of the Russians, giving them not a
moment to defend themselves.

It is necessary to go back a little in our narrative, and explain the
cause of this sudden incursion on the part of the Russians.  When the
brig of war returned to Ghelendjik, bringing the remnant of the
garrison, and an account of the loss of the fort, the rage of Baron
Galetzoff knew no bounds; especially when he heard that our hero had
been one of the most daring leaders, and that Lieutenant Stanisloff had
escaped.  Again, and again, he renewed his vows of wreaking vengeance on
the Circassians, and expressed his determination to capture the two
friends at all hazards.  Count Erintoff confessed that he had, at first,
the intention of putting the Baron's warrant into execution himself, and
dispatching Thaddeus in prison, with his own hands; but the surprise of
the mountaineers had been so sudden, that he had barely time to escape
with his life.  Some time after these events, a fleet arrived with fresh
troops to garrison Ghelendjik; and the Baron received orders from the
general-in-chief to proceed with a large body of troops by land, to
Anapa, through the defiles of the Zemes, from thence to take up his
position, and erect a new fort near the Kouban, at no great distance
from the spot where the Ubin falls into that river.

The Baron marched out of the fort with four or five thousand men under
his command, well supplied with all the munitions of war, and was
allowed to proceed unmolested through the broader valleys, where his
cannon had range enough to play, leaving, as he advanced through the
smiling vales, dotted with hamlets, and spread with verdant fields, a
long track of ruin and desolation behind him.  So suddenly, indeed, had
the Russian army sallied out, that the inhabitants had scarce time to
drive off their flocks and herds, and remove their valuables, as from a
distance they mournfully beheld, but with a keen hope of vengeance,
their habitations wantonly committed to the flames.  The Russians
continued to advance through the open valleys, and through the first
part of the defiles of the Zemes, without meeting a foe; the country
throughout appealing to be some land of enchantment, so calm and
beautiful did it look.  They began to congratulate themselves on having
awed the natives into peace, and on the hope of being allowed to perform
their march without molestation.  Towards the evening, indeed, a few
Circassians appeared, attacking their flanks, at intervals, like hornets
on some huge animal, and flying off, before there was time to send any
of their own cavalry to pursue them.  The General had ordered the
Cossacks to scour the sides of the hills, to prevent the main body from
being taken by surprise--a most hazardous service; for, one by one,
those who took the outer range disappeared, and their comrades, who went
in search of them, shared the same fate; but there was no time to make
inquiries.

That night the army slept on their arms; before the sun arose on the
following morning, they were again on their march.  They advanced
cautiously through many serpentine windings of a deep gorge; at their
feet rushed the surge of a mountain torrent, in whose bright waters the
soldiers eagerly slaked their thirst.  Not a foe had been seen as onward
they marched, the cool morning air refreshing their cheeks, and a deep
and solemn silence reigning through the glen.

In a moment that scene of quiet and repose was changed into one of
carnage and confusion.  The foremost ranks fell back, trembling at the
sound of the war shout of the mountaineers, as from behind every craig,
shrub, and tree, a destructive shower of bullets and arrows fell thick
among them.  At that instant, a troop of fierce horsemen leaped from
amid the rocks, hewing down all who crossed their path; and, ere the
cannon could be brought to bear, vanishing on the opposite side.

It was the daring band of Guz Beg.

"Ya Allah! well done, my sons!" cried the veteran.  "My brave Alp, you
will not disgrace your father.  You cut down those vile Urus as a mower
cuts corn with his sickle.  Ask what you will of me, my son, and it
shall be granted for that one charge.  What say you, my friends, shall
we be at them again?"

Saying which, before there was time to think of the great danger they
ran, the Hadji's band were once more upon the amazed and confused ranks
of the foe, scarce recovered from their first panic.  They were not this
time so fortunate; one of their number fell by the fire which the
Russians now opened upon them; and Selem was nearly suffering the same
fate, for, as he swept by, he perceived the Count Erintoff in the
advance, who spurred on his horse to meet him; but too many men
intervened for them to exchange blows; and Selem was obliged to follow
his friends, being the last Circassian horseman who reached the covert
of the wood.

"That will do for the present," said the Hadji.  "But, mashallah!  I
should like to be among them again.  A few charges like that would
annihilate their army."

Selem, however, urged him not to attempt the manoeuvre, which involved
too great a risk, without advantage, to his valuable life.  However, the
Hadji and Selem were every where to be seen dashing at the foe, then
galloping up the steep sides of the glen.

The Russians, stunned with the terrific cries knew not which way to
turn.  Where they least expected an attack, they found themselves
grappled by the active mountaineers, who seemed to leap from the cliffs
above their heads, dealing death around them with their sharp broad
daggers, then rapidly disappearing among the rocks, leaping from craig
to craig, where none could follow.  Hundreds were shot down by the
silent arrows of their invisible foe; nor, as they gazed with fear
around, could they tell whence the shafts proceeded.  The soldiers saw
their comrades next to them sink down, struck by those winged messengers
of death.  Their ranks were thinning fast, nor could they defend
themselves, nor attack their aggressors; but in these trying moments,
the stern discipline, even of slaves, triumphed over their fears, and
rescued them from the hands of the most daring and courageous warriors.
The officers shewed courage worthy of a nobler and better cause:
exerting themselves to the utmost, with calm voices, keeping up the
men's spirits, closing their ranks, and leading them on in order.

But could it have been real courage which enabled the men to endure this
terrific storm?  It was rather a dull and heartless apathy.  They saw
their fellows fall; and knew that they were released from a life of
privation and tyrannical suffering; and cared not if it should be their
fate to be the next victims.  It mattered but little whether death
should come by famine, the sword, or by pestilence; too certainly would
they fall by one or the other.

The army, with thinned ranks, continued to advance, protected, as they
defiled into more open ground, by their light howitzers carried on the
backs of horses; every now and then keeping the slender force of their
daring assailants at a distance, as they could bring their guns to bear
on them.  They marched as fast as they were capable of doing; but they
were not yet secure; for the Seraskier of the Circassians, a brave, but
a sagacious and cautious leader; though he would not allow his followers
to attempt competing with the Russians on the plain; attacked their rear
and flank incessantly, until, when near Anapa, he was joined by another
larger body of the patriots.

The whole army of the enemy might now have been destroyed, had the
mountaineers possessed artillery.  As it was, they escaped destruction
solely through the garrison of Anapa making a sortie to their rescue,
with artillery and a strong body of Cossacks.  The harassed remnant at
length reached that fortress.

"Mashallah!" cried the old warrior, as he looked angrily towards their
retiring columns when they entered the fort; "We've repaid them for the
surprise they attempted to give your noble father.  They will not forget
this day's work, for a long time to come.  Allah! if we had some of
their light guns, they would not have escaped as they have done.  But
fear not, my sons, we will meet them again before long."

There seemed every probability that the campaign in this part of the
Caucasus would be soon finished for that year.  The Hadji, therefore,
with his followers, returned to the camp on the Ubin to wait further
events.

The preceding is a faithful account of the style of warfare the Russians
have to engage in with the mountaineers of the Caucasus, in which
thousands of their soldiers annually fall victims.  But what matters
such a loss to the government of St. Petersburg?  They have millions of
slaves to replace those who fall; and they have resolved to subdue the
barbarians in spite of the rivers of innocent blood which may flow.  May
Heaven grant that the bravery and patriotism of the high-minded and
gallant Circassians may be completely triumphant over all the efforts of
their slavish and despotic oppressors!

Volume 3, Chapter V.

Thaddeus Stanisloff was now perfectly happy.  No longer did he hesitate
to approach the anderoon, and no longer did Ina fear to meet him; her
ear was ever intent to catch his approaching footstep, when, in spite of
old Kahija's frowns, she would start up, and hasten to the gate of the
enclosure, for within those sacred precincts, no man dares venture to
approach.

She did not, however, stop to analyse very clearly her own feelings; but
they were so novel, so delightful, so pure, she could not help indulging
in them.  Thaddeus loved Ina, with the most ardent, tender attachment;
and often did he anticipate a life of happiness, passed in her society,
amidst the vales and mountains of Circassian when he would teach her the
love, religion, and the customs of civilised Europe, and eagerly did she
listen to these discourses of her gallant preserver.

Still they had not yet talked of love; yet, much did he long to speak in
the language of confidence, unrestrained by the presence of the gentle
Zara, or the young Conrin.

Early one morning, he met his mistress at the gate of the anderoon,
fortunately before old Kahija had made her appearance; seizing the
opportunity--

"Ina," said he, "I have much of deep and earnest import to communicate;
and I would not, that other ears than yours, should listen.  Will you
deign to meet me then, and hear my words, for here I cannot speak them?
Ere the sun has set this evening, will you meet me, Ina, in the sacred
grove, near the ruins, over whose shattered fragments the Cross still
rears its head triumphant?"

"Stranger," answered Ina, "you are my brother's trusted friend.  I know
too from your brave and generous nature, that you would not seek aught
from me, that is unbecoming a maiden's modesty."

"Believe me, you will do no wrong in trusting me.  I'll wait until you
can steal from old Kahija's vigilance.  Your page can see you safe, and
watch the while we speak, that none intrude.  Do you consent, lady?"

"I will meet you, noble stranger," answered Ina, with timidity, and
blushing as she spoke.  "I know that you will guard me from danger."

"Thanks, Ina, thanks, for your confidence; my life shall answer for your
safety!"

Thaddeus might, perhaps, at that time have found an opportunity of
letting Ina fully understand his devoted love for her; when they were
interrupted by the coming of the discreet old Kahija, who considered
that the conversation had already endured beyond the bounds of decorum.
He was most unwillingly, therefore, obliged to retire, and to pass away
the hours in thinking of his mistress; until the old nurse should have
gone to the Mosque for evening prayer, when Ina would meet him.

The spot Thaddeus had selected, was a beautiful grove situated a little
way up the mountain side, which, from time immemorial, had been looked
on with veneration, by the inhabitants; because there, according to
tradition, their ancestors had formerly worshipped the Great Spirit, and
his Son who once visited earth.  In his wanderings, Thaddeus had
discovered the ruins he mentioned, which were those of a church of
considerable size, as appeared by the fragments, still remaining
scattered here and there, among the herbage; but many years must have
passed since it was reduced to its present state, from the large trees
growing amidst the stones.

The foot of the cross itself, formed from two large blocks, had been
deeply imbedded in a rock, projecting from the mountain's side.  Over
the sacred emblem, the trees had formed a sheltering arbour, its
existence there being a fit symbol of the Christian religion, standing
on the rock amid the ruin and decay even of its own temples and rites.

To this spot resorted those, who would ask some special favour of the
mighty spirit they worshipped; but, ignorant of him who had chosen it as
his emblem, they would fall down in adoration before it; many believing
that the spirit himself dwelt within it, and that the stone retained
hidden virtues.  It was also considered as a sanctuary, which none would
dare to violate.  Any one followed by his most deadly enemy, who could
reach it, might cling to its support and there be safe from vengeance.
Even those professing Islamism still held it in veneration.  Chaplets of
flowers, the votive offerings of the worshippers, were hung on the
surrounding trees until they withered away.

Thaddeus eagerly hastened to the spot, long ere the time he might expect
the coming of his mistress; but he wished to be alone in that sacred
place to commune with himself, to dwell upon the anticipation of his
bliss should his hopes of her answer be fulfilled.  He wandered round
the ruins of the once sacred pile; sometimes he feared she could not
really love him, and a moment afterwards he felt confident of winning
her.  Then he threw himself beneath the shade of some tree, and
anxiously watched the lengthening shadows; and next he would rise and
hasten through the grove, towards the direction whence his mistress
should come; but he saw her not.  The sun had not yet sunk low enough in
the heavens, and he regretted that he had not persuaded her to come at
an earlier hour.  He again returned, lest, perhaps, she might have
passed some other way.

Inspired by the solemnity of the spot, he threw himself down before the
cross, and offered up his thanksgiving to heaven for his own
preservation, and his prayers for future blessings.  Deeply absorbed in
his devotions, he thought not of the lapse of time; and, as he rose and
gazed eagerly around to see if Ina was near, the sun had reached the
edge of the mountain, tinging its sides with a saffron hue, and throwing
a deep shade at its base.  The minutes now passed like hours; he feared
something might have prevented her coming; some accident might have
befallen her; he thought of the revenge of the Khan and trembled for her
safety.

As despair was about taking possession of him, at length, his heart
bounded as he caught sight of her, moving amid the trees like some
benign spirit of the groves.  At a little distance from her, followed
Conrin, slowly and mournfully; who, on seeing Thaddeus, turned aside.

The young lover hastened forward to meet his mistress; he gently took
her hand, which she did not withdraw, as he led her to a seat, formed of
a broken architrave, beneath the cross.  For some minutes neither spoke,
as they sat gazing on the rich and smiling valley below them, which was
clothed with a soft mellow light; a serene and solemn silence reigned
over the whole scene.  The lovers felt perfect happiness; they feared to
speak, lest a word might break the soft enchantment.

Thaddeus turned to Ina, and, gazing on her eyes, so liquid and tender,
yet so lustrous, he saw an expression there which gave him courage to
speak.  "Ina," he said, "I came to this land a stranger among your
people.  All my hopes in life were blighted.  I had been an imprisoned
felon, condemned to death, every instant expecting to die by the hands
of my comrades, but was rescued by your brother's bravery.  To him I owe
all I now possess: I owe him my life, and--more far more than life--the
happiness of seeing you.  From the moment I saw you, I loved you; from
that moment your image has never been absent from my thoughts.  In the
ardour of the chase, in the solitude of the night, I have thought alone
of you; and oh! the rapture, when I found you were saved from the
ruffian who would have torn you from me!  Sweetest Ina, I love you!"

Ina gazed at him.  A sweet smile irradiated her features; her eyes
sparkled with animation.

"Is it possible?" she said, with an inquiring look.  "That you,
Thaddeus, accustomed to the magnificence of the cities, and the
accomplished beauties of Frangistan, can think of a mountain maid like
me, who has never passed her native shores?  Perhaps, you spoke but in
sport; but no, you would not tamper thus with my heart."

"Ina, could words alone convince you how ardently I love you, I would
speak them," answered Thaddeus; "but no language has fitting words to
express my feelings.  I would die to save you from harm.  Dearest Ina,
can you love me?"

"Love you?  Blessed joy! oh yes!  Perhaps, I do not love you as I ought;
still I would not that any arm but yours should have saved me from him
that would have torn me from you.  Do you think I love you now?"

"Yes, dearest," said her lover, folding her in his arms as her head sank
upon his neck.  "Yes, Ina, by yonder cross I swear to guard you with my
life; to love no other but you."

"Indeed 'tis bliss to hear you speak such words," answered the maid.  "A
short time ago I thought I loved but one--my honoured father; and then,
my brother coming, shared my love; but now I feel my heart too small to
hold the love I bear for you.  The feelings which I bear for those dear
ones I would tell to all the world; but what I feel for you is a
treasured secret I would tell to none but you."

"Ina, you are my own," exclaimed Thaddeus.  "Oh never deem that I could
share my love for you with any other: the very thought were sacrilege.
How ardently have I longed before to say this to you--to learn from your
own sweet lips, if you could feel the same for me!  But still I feared
that I could not be worthy of such love as yours."

We must no longer attempt to describe the words with which the young
Pole told the deep feelings of his heart to the pure and gentle Ina.
Side by side they sat, nor thought how fast the hours sped.  The sun had
long gone down, the stars came out glittering in the dark clear blue
sky, and the moon arose in pure and tranquil majesty to witness their
guiltless love, throwing her silvery beams through the dark trees of the
grove.  Yet still they lingered, pouring into each other's ears the
words of soft endearment.

At length they rose from the spot hallowed for ever in their memory,
when a gentle step approached, and young Conrin stood before them.  Ina
thought she heard a sob.  He spoke at last in low and hurried tones--

"I came to warn you that night approaches," he said.  "You'll be sought
for anxiously in the hamlet, and great alarm will be felt when you are
missed."

"Ah, is it indeed so late?" said Ina.  "I thought we had passed but a
few minutes here.  We will hasten home."

"I will guard you to your home, dear Ina!" said Thaddeus, as he
supported her steps.

Though both knew that they ought to hasten, yet neither felt any
inclination to quicken their pace, as they passed through the sacred
grove, and chose, they knew it not, the longest road to the village.
They had yet much to say, when they found themselves at the gate of the
anderoon.  Young Conrin followed slowly, and again they heard that
half-stifled sob; but he sought to avoid their observation.

They stopped at the gate to whisper many more endearing words; and
perhaps they might have spent another hour, fancying it but a minute,
had they not been startled by the harsh sounds of Kahija's voice, who
had bustled out in no sweet temper at the long absence of her young
charge.

"Truly, these are pretty doings for a maiden, to be staying from home at
this late hour.  What would have been said, had any of the inmates of
old Mustapha's harem, at Stamboul, taken it into their silly heads to
wander about in this way?  They would soon have found themselves at the
bottom of the Bosphorus, I warrant.  That is the way young ladies are
treated, who misbehave themselves in the only civilised country in the
world--and a very proper way too.  A pretty example you set my young
lady, Zara.  I suppose that she, who has always been so correct--thanks
to my instructions--will take it into her head next, to go gadding about
in the same way.  But, I'll take care she does no such thing I'll
promise her.  I hope to see the free manners of the girls, of this
country, reformed before I die.  It's quite dreadful, scandalous, to see
them wandering about in this independent manner, with their veils thrown
off their faces to let everybody stare at them who likes.  Come, Sir,"
she said, turning to Thaddeus; "I wonder you stay here.  I thought you
knew that the anderoon was forbidden ground to any man but my lord.  I
should think you had enough of my lady's company already."

But Thaddeus felt no inclination to move without speaking a word more of
farewell; and old Kahija, having vented some of her wrath; and not
being, in reality, ill-natured; saw it was useless opposing an affair,
which was, indeed, no business of hers.  She therefore turned away for a
few minutes, during which time Thaddeus snatched a parting embrace from
his mistress, drawing a promise from her to meet him again on the next
day.

When the old nurse returned, the intruder, much to her satisfaction, was
gone.  Ina then entered the anderoon, when Zara, throwing aside the
embroidery she was engaged on, sprang forward to meet her.

"Dear Ina," she exclaimed, "I feared some other danger had befallen you,
that you returned not before."

"No danger could happen to me where I went," answered Ina; "I was safe
from every harm.  So lovely an evening to wander out!" she added, with a
little pardonable deceit.  "I wonder you can bear to be so shut up."

"I, too, should like to wander out to breathe the air of evening,"
answered Zara; "but old Kahija will not hear of it."

"What is that you say?" said the old nurse entering.  "What! are you
trying to teach Zara to follow your own wild customs?  But you will not
succeed; she is too good a girl to wish to do any thing of the sort.
When she marries young Alp Beg, she may do what she can; but she will be
shut up close enough then; and so will you, Ina, if you marry a true
believer, instead of one of these heathen countrymen of ours."

Happy were the slumbers of Ina that night as she laid her face upon her
pillow.  She dreamed that again she trod the sacred grove with him she
loved--that again she heard his voice speaking those magic words which
changed her very being--she felt the pressure of his hand in hers--and
she saw the moon rise amidst the trees, the witness of their love.

Volume 3, Chapter VI.

Perfect tranquillity reigned in the valley of Abran Bashi, far removed
from the loud tocsin of war which hung round the borders, though news
occasionally arrived of skirmishes with the Moscov, and sometimes a
wounded warrior would come to be recovered by the care of his family.

At times, too, wailing and weeping was heard, when a family received
intelligence of some dear relation having fallen in the fight; or a sad
train would pass through the valley, accompanying the corpse of some
noble, borne on his war-steed, who had lost his life in one of the many
useless attacks which were at that time made on the Russian lines; more
for bravado, and for the sake of exhibiting bravery and fearlessness of
consequences--the characteristic of the Circassian warrior--than for any
advantage to be gained.

Notwithstanding the predictions of the old chief, Thaddeus began to hope
that the Khan, Khoros Kaloret, had foregone all farther attempts to
carry off Ina; and, being ignorant by what hand his clansman had fallen,
he would be unable to fix his revenge on any one.  Thus all dread of
evil consequences left his mind; and even Ina no longer feared to renew
her rambles under his protection beyond even her former limits, though
sure of receiving a severe lecture from old Kahija after each
transgression.

We have as yet given but a slight sketch of her beautiful friend, the
young Zara: she was like a sweet rose-bud, fresh and blooming, ere the
first rays of the morning sun have dissipated the crystal dew; a
complete child of nature.  Brought up in that secluded valley, she knew
nought of the world beyond the lofty mountains that surrounded it.
Within that spot all her thoughts and hopes had been concentrated; she
loved her pure streams, her verdant fields, and her shady groves, and
grateful to the kind nature who placed her there; she was happy and
contented, and would have felt miserable at the idea of leaving them,
undazzled even by old Kahija's descriptions of the gorgeous Stamboul.
Her character was pure as her own sweet face; she seemed formed for love
and tenderness alone, unfit to buffet with the cares and troubles of the
world.  Like a delicate plant, requiring some strong tree round which to
entwine its slender tendrils, to gain strength and support from it.  Her
temper was sweet and amiable to all; and even old Kahija's lectures
failed to ruffle her.  Dutiful and obedient to her only remaining
parent, she tended him in sickness with the most gentle and unremitting
care; and dearly in return did the old chief love his little Zara.

Her features were soft and feminine as her character; she was
beautifully fair; her delicate auburn locks hung over her swan-like neck
in rich profusion, her large eyes of purest blue were shaded by dark
lashes, adding to their tender and languishing glance, while a smile
playing round her ruby lips, betokened a happy and contented heart.  Her
figure, though equally graceful, was shorter and fuller than her
friend's; but none could deem it otherwise than perfect.

Such seemed the fair young being who had bestowed all her pure and warm
affections on the gallant and youthful warrior, Alp Beg, and truly did
he prize the treasured girl he had won.

He had been loved from his childhood by her grandfather for his courage
and activity in all manly sports, and now gladly did the old chief
accord his sanction to their union, which he had arranged with the Hadji
before his departure for the camp.  As yet the fair girl knew not that
her hopes were to be fulfilled, for though Alp had found time to whisper
his love, neither knew that their parents would give their sanction to
their marriage; and often would sad forebodings for the future cross her
otherwise tranquil mind, fears that their union might be forbid, or that
he might be snatched from her by the cruel Urus.

The two fair girls were seated on an ottoman in the anderoon, while Ina
worked a belt with golden thread, her first gift to Thaddeus.  Zara
struck the cords of her lute.

How sweet and thrilling was her voice, as she sang the following simple
ballad:--

  The sun shone like glittering gold on the lake,
      While softly the breeze through the green forest play'd;
  The birds sang their gay notes from rock and from brake,
      And sweet odours sprung from each flowery glade;
  There was heard too a fountain's light murmuring voice,
  And nature in smiles seemed with glee to rejoice.

  Though nature was smiling, yet sorrow was nigh,
      For near a pure stream, 'neath a green willow's shade,
  With her quick panting bosom, a bright weeping eye,
      There stood, trembling with fear, a fair Atteghei maid,
  As a gallant youth, pressing her form in his arms,
  Sought, with love's parting kisses, to calm her alarms.

  Mid the clustering forest his charger stood near.
      And, his streaming mane tossing, was stamping the ground;
  His squire was holding his buckler and spear,
      While from far off came booming the cannon's deep sound.
  One more agonised pang, and he tore him away,
  And mounted his war-steed to join the affray,

  But as slowly he rode through the green leafy wood,
      With a lingering pace he oft turned his fond gaze,
  To cast one more glance where his lov'd maiden stood,
      Till soon she was hid by the thick forest maze;
  Then, spurring his charger with speed o'er the lee,
  Soon with fear did the foemen his dancing crest see.

  Like the willow which gracefully bent o'er the stream.
      The maiden stood tremb'ling and drooping with grief,
  Like the dew of the morn did those precious drops seem,
      When the bright sun-beams play on the spark'ling green leaf.
  Ah! cruel the war that could make her thus mourn!
  Ah! sad 'twas to leave that sweet maiden forlorn!

  Then rising, she clomb o'er the mountain so high,
      And she look'd o'er the hill and she look'd down the vale;
  Saw joyous in fancy his gay banner fly,
      When her ear caught the sound of a funeral wail.
  Through the glen, as advancing with mournful slow tread,
  A train bore the bier of a warrior dead.

  Then fearful and fleet as the chas'd deer she flew,
      Down the steep mountain's side, over chasm and brake.
  For well the bright arms of her hero she knew;
      Not the whirlwind's swift course could her flight overtake.
  Then she threw herself down her slain lover beside;
  She sigh'd not, she wept not, but heart-broken died.

As she finished, tears stood in her eyes, and her voice trembled at the
last lines.

"Why sing you that mournful ditty, dear Zara?" said her friend.  "It is
too sad for one, whose eye sorrow has not dimmed, to sing."

"I know not why I sing it," answered Zara; "but I could not help it, the
words came flowing to my lips."

"Who taught you so sad an air?" asked Ina.

"A venerable bard who travelled once this way.  His steps were feeble,
and his locks were blanched with years, and, as he rested at our house
he sang this air, gazing sorrowfully at my face, and made me learn these
words, I know not why.  He went his way, nor ever have I seen him since:
but still, at times, a sadness comes upon me, and I sing this song."

A deep-drawn sob was heard from the corner of the apartment where the
young Conrin had thrown himself on a divan.

"Come hither, Conrin," said Ina, in tones of kindness.  He had been
weeping; for his eyes were red and his features wore an air of sadness.

"Why do you weep, dear Conrin?  What makes you thus sorrowful?"

"Sad thoughts and feelings," answered the page.  "I have much to make me
weep: but it was that song overcame me.  I wept for the sad forebodings
that it brought upon my soul, for myself I care not, but for those I
have learned to love."

"What causes have you for grief, dear boy?" said Ina.  "Are you not
happy here, where all so love you?"

"I cannot tell you, lady," answered the page.

"Why not tell me your grief?  Perchance, confiding it to me, I may aid
to mitigate it," said Ina.

"Oh no, it is impossible; my grief is too deep for consolation; it is a
secret I shall never tell," answered the page.

"But, I may find a means to soothe it," urged Ina.

"Lady, pray deem me not ungrateful; but again, I beseech you, let me
leave you," exclaimed Conrin.  "I love you much; but yet, I love your
noble brother more.  The only balm you can give to soothe me is to let
me go to him."

"But, why would you leave this calm retreat to hasten amidst scenes of
war and bloodshed?" said Ina.

"I would go to my master, wherever he may be, lady," answered Conrin.
"I fear some danger threatens him; I know not what, but dark forebodings
steal across my soul.  I cannot look upon the future as I used to do,
hoping for days of brightness and joy; my heart no longer bounds as it
was wont, with thoughts of happiness.  Oh let me seek my master, that I
may guard him from the threatened harm, if still I may!  I would too,
gaze upon his loved features once again before I die, for too surely do
I feel the troubled inward spirit preparing for its flight to quit this
world.  I feel that nothing can avert my death, come how it may."

"Boy, you speak of strange, mysterious things," exclaimed Ina, in an
alarmed tone.  "Why think you danger threatens my dear brother? and why
these sad forebodings of your own fate?"

"Lady, I come of a race who oft see things hidden from duller eyes; and
once, it is said, our ancestors could foretell either the death of
mortals, or their destiny; but the power has passed away, as we have
mixed our blood with other tribes.  Yet, even now, we often see the
shadow of a coming evil; and it is a curse upon our race, that we cannot
guard against it when it threatens ourselves.  For others yet we may,
and thus I would attempt to guard my master."

"Conrin, you persuade me strongly to let you go; and for my dear
brother's sake I will, though I should be loath to part from you.  Oh,
shield him, if you can, from danger, and may Allah bless you!"

"Thanks, lady, thanks!  Even now my spirits lighten of their load,"
exclaimed Conrin.  "I would set off this day; another may be too late."

"You cannot journey alone, on that road, dear page," said Ina; "you
shall accompany the first band of warriors who set forward for the
camp."

"Oh, I would find my way alone, through every obstacle, to meet your
noble brother," said the boy, eagerly.

"Conrin, that cannot be; you know not half the dangers which would beset
you on the road.  To-morrow, perhaps, some warriors may go forth.  You
said you had a secret that you would not tell; but let me hear it; for
much do I love you, for the affection which you bear my brother; and
much it pains my heart to think that yours must bleed without a
sympathising friend, to soothe your pain.  Ah! how blind I have been! a
thought has opened now my eyes.  Come hither; let me whisper to your
ear."

The gentle Ina bent over her page's head.  A deep blush suffused the
boy's cheeks; his eyes filled with tears.

"Ah! it is so?  Let me weep with you," she cried.  "But, be of good
hope, all may yet be well.  Such love as yours cannot go unrequited."

Old Kahija was certain to intrude when she was least wanted; and at that
instant she made her appearance, hobbling in, for she was somewhat
unwieldy in her gait.  Her cheeks almost burst with impatience to
communicate some important information.

"Here's news for you, young ladies, from the camp," she exclaimed.  "Ah,
Zara, my pretty maid, you'll not have to sigh much longer, I am
thinking, for the young Alp.  Now, girls, what would you give to have
the information?  Your best earrings, I warrant; but I am not cruel, and
will keep you no longer in suspense," she added, as eager to communicate
the news, as the fair inmates of the harem were to hear it.  "Know then,
my pretty Zara, that our noble chief, your grandfather, has given his
sanction for your marriage with young Alp Beg, and in a short time, he
will be here to bear you from us."

"Speak you the words of truth, Kahija?" exclaimed Zara, blushing, but
looking perfectly happy, as she threw herself upon Ina's neck.  "Oh, say
when he will come?"

"He has sent some one to deliver a message to you; therefore wrap your
features closely in a veil, and go out to the gate of the anderoon.  And
that reminds me there is some one to see you, Conrin, from your master."

"Ah!" exclaimed the page, hastening to the door.  "What joy to hear of
him."

"A messenger from my brother!" cried Ina.  "I too, must learn what news
he brings."

At the gates of the anderoon, Conrin found Javis waiting his coming.

"I bring news from our master, for his sister," said the squire.  "In a
few days he will be here, and then I must quit his service, if I can
return to Russia.  I have fulfilled my oath, I have obeyed your wish; no
mortal, with a spirit that could feel, would do more."

"Javis, I owe you much;" exclaimed the page.  "I would repay you with my
life; but the only reward you prize, alas!  I cannot give."

"I ask for no reward," answered Javis; "the only one I prize, alas!  I
cannot gain; and after that, death will be the most welcome.  But I
would see my people first, and breathe my spirit out amongst them.  I
have done your bidding.  I vowed to do what you wished, nor stipulated
for reward.  I rescued the young chief from the power of the Russians; I
have striven to wash away my thought of crime almost perpetrated; I saw
him safely landed on his native shores; I have seen him take his place
among his people, as a chieftain of Circassia: I even learned to love
him for himself, but more I cannot do.  I could not bear to see him
again at your side; I must go even from you."

The conversation was interrupted by the arrival of Ina and Zara.

"Say, when will my brother come?" exclaimed Ina.  "Oh, 'twill be joy to
see him."

"In three days hence, if the Russians move not from their encampments,"
answered Javis.

"Bring you any message for me?" said Zara, timidly addressing a young
warrior, who respectfully saluted her at her approach.

"Yes, lady, I bear a message from my friend, the gallant Alp Beg.
Before two days have passed, and ere the shade of yonder lofty tree has
reached the stream which flows a short distance from its base, he will
be here."

"You bring me grateful news, indeed.  Oh, many thanks!" returned Zara.
"Say, is your friend well?"

"Yes, lady, he is well; and bears himself bravely against the foe,"
answered the messenger.

"Come, come, maidens," exclaimed Kahija, bustling up.  "It is very
incorrect to stop chattering longer than is necessary at the gate of the
anderoon.  If you have received your messages, come into the house, and
let the young men go their way."

Having no further excuse for remaining, the fair girls were obliged to
do as desired, though they would fain have heard more of those so dear
to them.

Volume 3, Chapter VII.

We must return again to take a glance at the patriot camp on the Ubin.
Except the slight skirmishes already described, nothing of importance
had been effected, and as the winter was now fast approaching, the
Russians appeared to contemplate no further movement.

A council of war was one day held in a grove, away from the din and
bustle of the camp, at which were present, among many of the Princes and
nobles of Circassia; Arslan Gherrei, his son and the Hadji, when shots
were heard announcing the arrival of some other chief, and presently a
band of wild horsemen were seen approaching, dressed in skins and furs,
of some of the mountain Tartar tribes.

At their head, rode the Khan Khoros Kaloret; who, after dismounting,
singly approached the council ring.  The chiefs stood up as he stepped
boldly amongst them.  His looks were fierce and angry, as his glance
passed round on the assembled nobles, who could ill brook his haughty
mien.  At length, one of the most ancient addressed him--

"Why come you here, Khan, to interrupt our conference?  Have you any
tidings of importance to communicate?"

"Why come I here?" echoed the Khan, furiously.  "Think you, I come for
idle sport?  No, I come to claim my brother's blood at your hands.  Say,
where he is, or I may not continue to be a friend to any here.  Say,
where is my brother?"

"We know not of your brother, Khan; we have spoken our answer."

"Does my brother, live?  I ask you," said the Khan.

"We know not of your brother," answered the former speaker.

"To you then, Uzden Arslan Gherrei, I appeal," said the Khan.  "I sent
him to you, to bring back your daughter as my bride; and since he left
your house, none of my clansmen know aught of him.  At your hands, I
require him."

"Your brother, Khan, quitted my house free to go where he willed.  I
cannot tell you of him more," answered the chieftain--

The Khan glanced fiercely around him for a few seconds, without
speaking; during which, the members of the council moved to a farther
distance, and resumed their seats; leaving the enraged Khan, standing
alone; a customary ana sufficient signal, that his presence was not
required.  The Khan stood irresolute for a few minutes; then, against
all rules of established ceremony, again approached them.

"Chieftain," he cried, addressing Arslan Gherrei; "again, I ask you,
where is my brother?  If dead, say who slew him, that I may know my
enemy; or, if he fell before the foe, why brought you not away his
corpse, and arms?"

"Khan," answered the chief; "is it not enough to say, that I cannot tell
you of your brother? then ask me no more."

Saying which, the whole body returned to their former position, leaving
the Khan alone.  He again followed them, when the council slowly rising,
the aged chief, who had before spoken, again addressed him:

"Twice have we warned you, Khan, not to question us of your brother.
Now learn his fate; he died a traitor's death--fighting in our foemen's
ranks, he fell, attempting treachery.  He lies now amongst a heap of
cursed Urus; his name disgraced and blotted from our memories.  Now go,
and ask no more of him.  His name is foul."

"Chieftain, whoever says my brother died a traitor's death, lies black
as Eblis.  Back in his mouth, I'll throw the calumny," cried the Khan.
"My brother was ever a foe to Russia, and deeply will I avenge his
slandered honour."

At these words, the chiefs half drew their swords; but, recollecting
that he stood one among many, and having compassion upon him for his
grief, and his brother's crime and death, they returned them to their
scabbards, and spoke not.

"Uzden Arslan Gherrei, from henceforth know me as your deadly foe,"
cried the Khan; "whatever death my brother died, 'twas you that caused
it, and I will have revenge, if I die to gain it."

Uttering which, with a fierce tone and aspect, he strode from the spot,
mounting his war horse, rode furiously from the camp, followed by the
troop of his wild clansmen, without waiting to salute any of the chiefs
he met.

We must leave the Khan to pursue his headlong course, while we follow
the movements of the Baron Galetzoff, and the small army under his
command.  After marching from Anapa, they proceeded to the newly erected
fort, we have described on the south side of the Kouban, which was built
on slightly elevated ground, at no great distance; though beyond gun
shot of the range of mountains, which girt the territories to which the
tribes of the Atteghei are now confined.  On the other side extended a
broad plain, formed of the marshes of the Kouban, from which the heats
of summer draw forth the noxious miasma, so prejudicial to the health of
the soldiers; but the flat marshy nature of the country, added to the
security of the position, lessens the chance of a surprise, and gives
full scope for the deadly fire of grape and rockets.

The fort had been commenced under the protection of a large force; and
the Baron was now employed in forming fresh entrenchments, and taking
every means to strengthen his position; waiting in hopes of some
opportunity occurring to revenge himself for the losses he had
sustained.  No houses had as yet been built; the troops living in
wretched huts hastily constructed of mud and boughs, and the officers in
their tents.

Towards the close of the day, the Baron was seated in his tent, when his
aide-de-camp announced to him that one of the chiefs of the enemy, with
a flag of truce, desired an audience immediately.

"Let him be admitted," said the General.  "We may at length have awed
some of these barbarians into subjection."

The Baron rose to receive his guest as the officer returned, ushering in
a tall ferocious looking warrior, his heavy sword clashing against his
armour, as with a fearless step he entered the tent.  The General
started when he saw him; for he thought of the young Khan to whose death
he had been instrumental, and of his squire whom he had unjustly shot,
as gazing earnestly at the stranger, he almost fancied the dead stood
before him.  For a few moments neither spoke, as the civilised European
commander confronted the wild warrior of the mountains, who returned his
glance with a haughty and seemingly contemptuous stare.  At length,
banishing his superstitious fears, he spoke.

"Who are you, chief, that thus venture into the camp of the Russians?"

"I am Kaloret Khan," answered the chief in a fierce tone.

At the sound of that name the Baron started, laying his hand upon his
sword to prepare himself for the expected attack.

"Fear not," said the Khan in a contemptuous tone, "I come not to do you
harm.  Did I wish to kill you, I could have done so ere this.  See!" he
added, pointing to the opening of the tent, before which one of his wild
clansmen was holding his war horse.  "I could have struck you dead, and
mounted my fleet steed, leaping your paltry entrenchments, before one of
your slow-moving soldiers could have stopped me.  No, Russian, I come
not to harm you."

"For what purpose do you come here?  What ask you?" said the General.

"I come," answered the Khan, frowning darkly, and clenching his
gauntleted hand, "I come to seek revenge."

"A goodly feeling, and one that should be encouraged by all brave men,"
answered the Baron.  "And on whom do you seek it?"

"On those who have injured me.  On a chieftain, Arslan Gherrei, who
refused to let his daughter be my wife; and shall I tamely brook such an
insult?  I would bear the girl away, in spite of her refusal; I would
revenge myself upon him for my brother's death; who is said to have come
to ask your aid to carry off the chieftain's daughter, when he died by
the hand of Selem, his newly found son."

"You have heard truly, Khan," answered the General.  "Say, how can I
assist you in your wishes, and I will gladly hold the hand of friendship
forth to you."

"I would bring hither the daughter of the chieftain, for I must quit my
mountain home, my flocks and herds, and come to join you with my
followers."

"You speak wisely, Khan," said the Baron.  "You shall be received with
open arms; but you must also bring this son of Arslan Gherrei, and his
youthful page, and also a Russian officer, who lately escaped when under
sentence of death.  I will, in return, promise you lands, flocks, and
herds to supply those you have left."

"You speak of Selem Gherrei, Russian," exclaimed the Khan.  "It were
easier far to entrap the savage boar, and bring him willingly along,
than to bring alive before you any of the chiefs of the Atteghei.  But I
will try; and, if I fail, it shall not be for want of hatred and revenge
to prompt me."

"Bring him alive, if possible; if not, bring me his corpse, and you will
be welcome.  There are others I would secure--his squire, and a slow,
heavy slave, who is probably about his person."

"I have already said I will do my best to please you," said the Khan
haughtily, "and now I must depart."

"Farewell, until you return with your prisoners," rejoined the Russian.

"Chieftain of Russia," responded the Khan, "you will see me soon again.
I tarry not in my revenge."

Saying which Khoros Kaloret strode from the tent with the same haughty
air with which he had entered, and, mounting his horse, galloped off.

"There goes a traitor," said the Baron, following him with his eye as he
rode off; "and if there were a few more like him, we might soon rightly
call the fair lands of Circassia our own.  I think I can trust that
barbarian, with revenge for his motive of action; and if he brings
Arslan Gherrei's daughter, I shall have a hold upon him he cannot easily
break through."

He then summoned Count Erintoff to his presence.

"Ah!  Colonel," he said, as the Count entered, "I have at length a hope
of punishing those who have hitherto escaped my vengeance."

"I am rejoiced to hear it, General," said the Count.  "We owe it as a
duty to our country to punish those vile deserters, not to mention the
indulgence of a little private revenge.  But how is it that you hope to
succeed?"

"Why it appears that the fierce Khan, Khoros Khaloret, has taken umbrage
that the Chief Arslan Gherrei refuses him his daughter--the same of whom
we heard so much, and who so narrowly escaped us at the fords of the
Mezi, when the Khan's brother led you into that desperate scrape.  He
now wishes to run off with the lady, and take refuge with us: so I have
made it a condition of his being; well received, that he brings off
those deserters, Ivan Galetzoff, his page, Lieutenant Stanisloff, and
others.  I fear he may not succeed in capturing Ivan Galetzoff, who, now
I hear, bears the name of Selem Gherrei; indeed, I have no doubt he is
the son of Arslan Gherrei, as I captured the boy myself, and well
remember that was the name of the chief whose village I attacked and
burned.  I carried off his wife with this boy, who I knew not was her
own son, little thinking what a viper I was cherishing.  I intended him
to prove a bitter enemy to this rebellious country, but I find this
woman counteracted all my intentions, by instilling into his bosom an
absurd love of country and liberty.  I would give worlds to get him into
my power; and though the Khan may not succeed in entrapping him, he may
secure his page, whom he brought with him from Russia, and to whom it
seems he is much attached.  I propose to work upon the boy, either by
kindness or threats of his life, to induce him to assist in some plot to
betray his master.  At all events I have hopes that this young Gherrei,
when he finds we have possession of his sister and page, will attempt to
rescue them.  We will be on the watch to ensure his capture, and I will
promise a reward to whoever makes him a prisoner.  What say you, Count,
to my plans?"

"It is an excellent plot, and cannot fail," said his worthy officer;
"but we must also endeavour to re-capture Lieutenant Stanisloff.  I have
a little private grudge against him, which I would fain indulge."

"Oh! there is but little chance of missing him," answered his superior;
"he will probably accompany Selem Gherrei into the field, and fall into
the same toil as his friend.  You, Colonel, shall have the lady as your
share."

"I cannot refuse so generous an offer," said the Count.  "I suppose she
must be beautiful, or she would not have inflamed the heart of the
savage Khan.  I require some fair mistress to drive the Gipsy Azila out
of my head; for I could never gain any further trace of her after it was
discovered that she was implicated in that miserable conspiracy."

"A great disappointment, Colonel; but I dare say this wild mountain
beauty will recompense you for her loss," said the Baron.

"Perchance she may," answered the Count, "for it is said these
Circassian beauties may vie with the most lovely in the world.  But we
must be cautious.  If we deprive the fiery Khan of the lady, he may give
us some trouble.  He does not appear a person who would quietly submit
to have his mistress taken from him, after the risk and danger he must
undergo to win her."

"That matters little," answered the Baron; "he will give us but slight
trouble, for we must put him out of the way on the first convenient
opportunity.  I never contemplated allowing him to remain alive.  I love
not these intractable mountaineers; and can never trust them.  We can
let him fall into the hands of his countrymen, and they will take good
care to ease us of any further thought concerning him."

"A very good idea, General," answered the Count.  "I agree with you that
these barbarians are equally troublesome whether as friends or enemies;
and I confess I did not like the scowl he cast on me and all around, as
he passed, bearing himself as proudly as if he were some conqueror
riding amidst his slaves."

"They are a detested race," exclaimed the General, grinning through his
thick-mustachioed lips; "but we will soon humble their pride, and drag
them in chains to St. Petersburg, where they shall be exhibited as a
specimen of the knights of old and we may then build our chateau, and
lay out our parks amidst these green hills and fertile valleys, without
the fear of being molested."

"You are facetious, General, at the expense of the savages," said the
Count.  "But, according to my taste, this is rather too far from the
capital to build a country house.  I should like, however, to transfer a
few of their fair beauties from these wilds to people my domain near
Moscow; and as for the men who have given us so much trouble, I would
shoot them all as traitors, or send them to work in the mines of
Siberia.  They are too fierce to be tamed; for, like hyaenas, they would
never be at rest, and would spring upon us when we least expected it.
But, badinage aside, what do you, Baron, intend to do with the prisoners
the Khan is to bring us?  They deserve severe punishment."

"Shoot them as flagrant deserters taken in arms against the Emperor,"
answered the Baron, clenching his hand, and frowning darkly.  "It is too
mild a punishment for them."

"This page of Ivan Galetzoff, or Selem Gherrei, or whatever name he now
goes by, deserves punishment richly for that affair of the Mezi," said
the Count.  "I saw him fighting as furiously as the oldest hands among
them.  The fiery young villain shot the Khan's brother and one of our
own Cossacks, who was about to cut down his master.  I fear we shall not
succeed in getting much service out of him."

"Then he must die.  We must make an example of all deserters," said the
General, "or we shall find our ranks completely empty before long.  What
with the desertion of these rascally slaves we have sent there as
soldiers, these cursed fevers which sweep off so many, and the atrocious
daring of these barbarous mountaineers, we have lost more men already
than we can spare.  Had I my own way, I would overwhelm these
Circassians at one fell swoop, and exterminate them from the face of the
earth."

"I agree with you, General, this is the only way to treat them,"
answered the Count.

Volume 3, Chapter VIII.

With light and bounding heart, young Alp urged on his steed towards the
smiling valley of Abran Bashi, as from the summit of the last mountain
he espied amid the trees the habitation of his young and beloved Zara.
He wore a Persian suit of the finest chain armour, a gift from his
uncle, Achmet Beg, over which was thrown a cloak of blue cloth, trimmed
with gold.  A belt of Turkish leather, richly embroidered in gold, (the
prized gift of his mistress, worked by her own fair hand), bound his
waist, holding his jewelled dagger; and at his side hung a well tempered
Damascus blade.  Boots also of Turkish leather, and worked by the same
loved one, covered his feet.  On his head, instead of the warlike
helmet, he wore a cap of cloth, trimmed with a narrow border of dark
fur, overshadowed by a plume of white feathers.  He looked indeed a
noble bridegroom, worthy of the love of Circassia's lovely daughters,
the pride of his gallant old father.

By his side rode his tried and sworn friend, the son of the brave and
sturdy chief, Ali Beg, his companion in many a wild and daring
adventure, when they were boys together; and lately, in the sterner and
sanguinary scenes of warfare.  He too was in his most gallant array, his
arms furbished to their utmost polish, his coat and steel almost
concealed by a gay-coloured vest, and by the cloak which hung from his
shoulders.  He had been selected by his friend for the honourable and
important post of bridesman, to escort the bride to the house of her
destined lord.

In the meantime, young Zara was counting the hours, as they seemed to
crawl by, ere he came; and in spite of all old Kahija's notions of
propriety, stole often and furtively to the wicket of the enclosure
surrounding the anderoon, to throw many a searching glance up the valley
to the summit of the hill, over which she knew her knight must pass.
Then she would run back again, and pretend to be busily engaged in her
work, her ear anxiously intent to catch the sounds of his horse's hoofs,
as her eye was to search for his graceful figure.  Then she would
persuade herself and her friend that she had a head-ache, and that a
little more fresh air would wonderfully benefit her; and she would seize
Ina's arm, and hurry off.  Her friend fully comprehended the reasons of
her constant visits to the gate.

"Why comes he not, Ina?" at length she said.  "What think you could have
delayed him on the road?  He said he would come ere the shadows of
yonder tree had reached the waters of the rivulet, and see it already
touches the edge of the bank.  Oh, Allah! can any harm have befallen
him?  I never think of those dreadful Urus without shuddering, and Alp
is always on some hazardous expedition against them; their very name
frightens me."

"Nay," said Ina, "let not your thoughts dwell on such fears.  See the
shadow has not yet reached the water, and ere it does, perhaps Alp will
be here."

"Tell me, Ina, how is it that some women of our country can be so
courageous as to rush into battle, fearing not the Urus, and bear
themselves as bravely as the men?  For my part, I tremble at the report
only of a rifle, and could not fire a pistol to defend my life," said
Zara.

"Because, dearest," answered her friend, "you have been removed from the
scenes of havoc and bloodshed, which steel their hearts from all
feelings of compassion for our foes, and which nerve their arms, and
inspire them with courage to avenge their wrongs."

"It is dreadful to think of it," exclaimed Zara, shuddering.  "I would
rather die at once than look on blood.  The foe might kill me, but I
could not fight."

"Oh, let us pray, Allah, that the dread foe may never come near this
valley, and then you need have no cause to fear them," answered her
friend.

"I almost wish that Alp was not so great a warrior; but yet I love to
hear of his brave deeds.  They say he will be equal to his father, and
he is one of the bravest heroes of Atteghei.  Ina, I will tell you a
secret.  I have loved Alp for a very long time--ever since I first saw
him--when he once came home, bringing two Russian prisoners.  Hearing
every body praise so much, I ventured to look at him, and then I saw
what a gallant and noble youth he was.  Then he danced with me at the
marriage of one of my grandfather's followers.  Oh, how my heart leaped
as he pressed my hand, and led me out on the green.  I did not care for
all old Kahija's frowns.  And then the soft and sweet things he said to
me!  I never heard words like them, and when I looked at him again, I
thought him one of the handsomest of all the youths of the Atteghei--not
in the least like his father, as people said he was.  I was always happy
when he came, and used to play so many tricks to avoid old Kahija, who
makes me so obedient at other times, though I never ventured away so far
from the house as you do.  Then, when he told me how much he loved me,
and that he would die, or win me, I was so happy!  I did not think he
would have to die."

"Yes, dear Zara, Alp is indeed a noble youth, well worthy a lady's
love," answered Ina.

"Ah!" said Zara, clasping her friend's arm tighter, "see, Ina, see, he
comes!  I see his glittering armour.  I see his white plume.  Ah, he
hastens onward--he looks this way, to catch a glimpse of me.  Now he
looks at the shadow of the tall tree, to see if he have kept his
promised time.  See the shadow scarcely yet touches the water!  He flies
faster than the sun.  He will be here in a few minutes.  Oh, Ina, how my
heart beats!  I must run away--I must hide.  He will think I have been
looking for him.  I ought not to stay here.  What will Kahija say?"

Whatever Zara ought to have done, she showed not the slightest
inclination to move, but continued waiting the approach of Alp, who
certainly proved himself to be no dilatory lover, by the rate he
galloped on.  So fast indeed did he approach, that she had not time to
retire if she would, before, leaping from his horse, he clasped her in
his arms, spite of her blushes, and the presence of Ina, whom he seemed
to have quite overlooked.  He, however, now made his courtesies to her
in proper form.

"See, Zara," he said, "I sent word I would come ere the shadow of yon
tall tree had reached the stream, and it but now touches the wet grass
on its borders.  I come, sweet one;" and he whispered a few magic words
in her ear which made the roses glow more brightly in her cheeks.

"My father gives me but a few days ere he will call me back to the camp,
so that we have but a short time.  He will arrange all things with your
grandfather, and to-morrow my home will await your coming."

We will not dwell any longer on the interview of the lovers; nor need we
describe their words of tender endearment; for love, we believe, to be
much the same in all parts of the globe, influencing in the same way the
thoughts and feelings of all those, whose young hearts have not been
blighted and seared by the world, which too soon works a woeful change
in all that is tender, pure, and lovely.  These mountain lovers might
not perhaps have used the courtly phrases of the cities of Frangistan;
but they spoke a language which both perfectly understood, and, looking
into each other's eyes, they found words unnecessary.

They did not even perceive that Ina had long left them; and were
somewhat startled in finding old Kahija standing in her place, after an
interval whose duration they had not calculated.  Her appearance drove
many things, they were about to communicate to each other, out of their
heads; and so pertinaciously did the nurse keep her ground, that Alp,
who had never fled before the Russian fire, was now obliged to beat a
most unwilling retreat.

From far and near came guests to grace the bridal festival of the fair
young Zara and the gallant Alp.  From the mountain villages, and
neighbouring dells, all assembled whom war had not called from their
homes, and all ranks and classes were equally welcomed by the venerable
and hospitable old chief.  Parties of youths and maidens came in their
gayest attire, streaming over the hills and down the valleys; their
embroidered cloaks fluttering in the breeze, and glittering with silver
fringe, singing, as they wended their way, songs in praise of the young
couple.  Here some noble gallant might be seen on his gaily caparisoned
charger, scouring along the valley to join the throng; others came in
attendance on their fair partners for the coming dance; their gallantry
more sincere, and scarcely less refined than in the civilised countries
of Europe.

The vests of the maidens were ornamented in front with silver studs, and
closed by clasps of the same metal; while a jewelled broach confined the
bands which bound their slender waists.  White veils or scarfs, nearly
reaching the ground, fell from amid their braided tresses, confined at
the ends by a silver cord.  They wore muslin trousers, fastened round
their ankles; their petticoats reaching to the knee, and embroidered
slippers encased their small feet.  The lower ranks were dressed in less
elegant attire, though of much the same fashion; but all had done their
utmost to deck their persons to the best advantage, to add to the
brilliancy of the scene.

The feast was held in the grove close to the habitation of the Prince,
where arbours had been erected for the fairer portion of the guests.  In
the principal one Zara, with Ina and old Kahija, were stationed to
receive them.  Numerous bands of slaves were in attendance, bearing
tables to the green glade, from which, through an opening in the trees,
was seen the lower part of the valley; and here the old chief stood with
Alp and his friends, to receive the male guests as they quickly
assembled.  The tables were spread in long rows on the grassy lawn; the
chiefs, and those of higher rank, being seated round their venerable
host, while those not of noble birth and the freemen, were placed at the
other end.

In the neighbouring thicket were numerous fires, at each of which was
suspended a nobly charged spit, or a kettle tended by female slaves
busily employed in preparing viands for the large party assembled.  At a
distance stood in eager and hungry expectation, the serfs and those not
of rank sufficiently high to enjoy the privilege of sitting at table;
but to whom the remainder of the banquet was to be served when the
nobles had finished.  There were minstrels also to chaunt forth the
praise of the bridegroom and his fair Zara, one taking up the strain
from the other, and each endeavouring to outdo the first in praise and
delicacy of compliment.

In the meantime, Zara and her fair companions were entertained in the
arbours, whence their light ringing laughter reached the spot where the
nobles were seated.  Though many of the party where Mahometans, the cup
of sparkling wine often passed round to the sound of music; but they
remained not long seated, for eager were the youths to join the dance,
when they saw the troops of lovely maidens tripping gaily along the
verdant glade, entwining round their graceful forms wreaths of bright
flowers.  The youths spiling quickly from the tables in pursuit of their
fair partners; and vain were their laughing efforts to escape from the
quick footed, active mountaineers, who soon overtook them, leading them
back no unwilling prisoners to the smoothest and most level spot for
dancing.

Then did the musicians strike up their gayest airs; the dancers moving
first to slow and measured time, in circles alternately of youths and
maids, now lifting their arms in graceful undulations aloft and now
joining their hands in the centre.  Then, as the music quickened,
pursuing each other round and round; the maids wreathing their flowers
and circling the heads of the youth as they knelt at their feet.  Then
springing up, they pursued their giddy course.

Alp led forth his bride elect, the last time he could thus appear with
her in public; Thaddeus, following his example with Ina; and many a
closely veiled and hooded matron of high rank conducted to the dance
their daughters to receive the hands of partners.  Gracefully they moved
through the forest glades.  The minstrels exerted their talents to the
utmost, and were joined, at times, by the sweet voices of the fair
dancers; while, occasionally, laughter resounded on all sides.  The
elders and matrons, seated on divans and carpets in the arbours or
beneath the shade of the trees, looked on with approbation, applauding
the graceful movements and activity of their children.

The time was now approaching when Zara must leave the gay scene to be
attired in her thick veil in preparation for her journey, old Ivahija
being in waiting to carry her off to the house.

All present seemed full of happiness, except the young page, Conrin.
The joyousness of the scene grated on his feelings; and forsaking the
throng, he sought to calm his troubled thoughts at a distance in
solitude and quiet.  He earnestly longed to see his master again; he was
disappointed at Selem's not arriving as he expected, and feared that the
danger he fancied was approaching, might already have overtaken him.
Javis, on perceiving his departure from the feast, followed at a
distance, in hopes of offering consolation; but Conrin seemed to avoid
him.  At length, Javis came up with him.

"Have I done aught to offend you?" he said, "know you not, that I would
die an hundred deaths for your sake?  Then, why do you thus shun me?"

"Oh, speak not thus," answered Conrin.  "Yes, you are good, you are
kind, you are brave; and grateful, deeply grateful, am I, for all that
you have done for me; but I can give you no reward."

"I seek for no reward, but would comfort you," said Javis.

"You cannot comfort me.  I have brought my misery upon myself; and on
you, my kind friend, I have brought danger and hardship; nor know I how
you may escape from them.  For myself, I care not; my grief has no
cure."

"Quit this vain hope.  You still may have happiness with one, who loves
you truly," answered Javis.

"While my life endures, never will I quit the country that holds the
young chief Selem.  Think you, I would leave him when a career of glory
is opening out before him?  I love to gaze upon his noble form, to hear
his words, though spoken to others.  If he fall, I shall not survive
him.  Now leave me, kind Javis, and forget the wrong I've done you.
Hark, what loud shout is that?"

The revelry still continued with unabated ardour.  The green was covered
with gay and happy dancers.  Alp was to lead the last round with his
sweet Zara, and then they must part, though soon to meet again.  The
song, the laugh, and the cheerful sounds of the musician's strains,
filling the forest glade, gladdened the hearts of all; when a shriek
arose from the women, and a terrific yell like the cry of demons
resounded through the woods.  Before the youths could draw their swords,
a fierce band of savage horsemen were upon them.  Some of the affrighted
maidens fled, shrieking through the groves; others stood paralysed with
fear, clinging to the arms of their protectors.  The banqueting tables
were overturned, as the pursued and the pursuers rushed across the
glade; the bright sparkling wine flowed on the grass, mingled with the
red blood of the combatants, as the young warriors bravely rallied to
withstand the overpowering attack of the fierce followers of the Khan
Khoros Kaloret; for he it was who led the band of marauders.

His eye had singled out one fair object for his prey, as he fought his
way to the spot; she was struggling to escape from the grasp of one of
his followers, who had seized her round the waist, to lift her on his
horse; when Thaddeus, escaping from those who had attacked him, rushed
forward, cleaving the savage's shoulder to the arm.  He had scarcely
time to save his mistress from being crushed by the weight of the
falling body, ere the Khan fiercely set on him, endeavouring to regain
possession of his prize.

Alp had thrown himself before Zara, at the first onset of the foe,
repelling all who attacked him.  He bore her in safety towards a party
of their friends, assembled round the aged chief, who were keeping the
horsemen at a distance to protect the women.  Leaving his bride under
protection, he collected a few men, and hastened to assist a small party
fiercely beset by the Tartars, on whom he set with such energy, that
they were compelled to fly; but only to return with fresh fury to the
attack.

In the mean time, the Khan, finding Ina snatched from his very grasp,
threw himself on Thaddeus, with his whole force, hoping to bear him to
the ground.  Thaddeus eluded his first onset, placing Ina on his left
side, and parrying with the greatest difficulty, the repeated and
furious strokes aimed at him by the Khan.  He retreated fighting, as he
bore his mistress to a place of safety; when a heavy blow from the
Khan's sword brought him on his knee to the ground, though he saved his
head by a timely guard.  A second stroke from his opponent's sabre would
have cut him down; but Ina threw herself before him, arresting the
Khan's arm, ere his sword descended, giving Thaddeus time to recover his
feet.

"Foolish maiden, you shall not save your lover a second time," exclaimed
the Khan, attempting to seize her, though the movement was nearly fatal
to himself; for so furious a blow did Thaddeus make at him, that he was
obliged to relinquish his hold, to parry it.

"Fly, Ina, fly! now that you are safe," exclaimed her lover.  "I will
keep the savage chief at bay."

But Ina moved not from his side.  At that moment, a fresh troop of
Tartars galloped to their chief's assistance.  Thaddeus began to fear
that his defence had been futile; when Alp, with a few other youths,
bravely threw themselves in their way.

In a different division of the grove, many of the festive party had been
overthrown at the first surprise; but others, drawing their weapons, and
placing themselves back to back, fought so bravely, that they gave time
to their fair partners to escape; and so well did they hold their
ground, that they fully occupied the greater part of the Khan's
followers; thus preventing them from going to their chiefs assistance;
pursuing them so actively whenever they attempted to answer his
reiterated summons, that the Tartars were again obliged to turn and
defend themselves.

Yet the youths, however brave, wearing only a light gala costume, and
having no weapon of defence but their short swords, could scarcely
withstand the furious attacks of their fully equipped enemies, for whom
victory, at first wavering, was now about to declare, when the war shout
of the Atteghei was heard; and a small body of fully-armed warriors
broke through the grove, led on by Selem, who fiercely attacked the
first body of Tartars he met, and drove them before him.  His arrival
turned the fortune of the day.  Several of the young men flew to the
house to seize their arms, and to mount their steeds tethered in the
neighbouring thickets.

Selem, fighting his way up to the spot where Thaddeus was still
defending Ina, compelled the Khan to retreat, foaming with rage.

The events we have here described took place in a few minutes, ere the
revellers, scattered in all directions, could assemble; when the old
chief, having collected them, as also his serfs, and other retainers who
panted with indignation at the audacious outrage committed on his
territories, and at being unable to reach the perpetrators, led them
against the enemy in so determined an array, that he compelled the
Tartars to desist from the attack, and to seek their own safety in
flight.  At the same moment, a party of the young warriors returned on
horseback, to fight on more equal terms; when the Khan, seeing that any
further attempt to gain possession of those he hoped to capture was
hopeless, called to his followers to retreat, leaving several of his
band dead on the field; for so flagrant was this attack, that, as any
fell, they were cut down without mercy by the Circassians.

The defeated Tartars, furious with their disappointment and disgrace,
hastily retreated, hotly pursued by the active Circassian youths on
foot, and by Selem and a few others, who were mounted; but it was
hopeless for the pedestrians to overtake them, and the horsemen were too
few in number to be able to retaliate with success.  The horses of Selem
and his followers were fatigued; he, therefore, with Alp, urged their
friends to return to arm completely, and mounting fresh steeds, to
follow after the daring Khan, and take ample vengeance for the outrage
he had committed.

A few, already mounted on fleet horses, now set off to follow at a
distance, tracking his course to bring back word what route he had
taken.  When at a little distance, the scouts saw the Khan's party rein
in their steeds for an instant, and seize two persons on foot, and carry
them away.  They were traced towards the Kouban, in the direction of the
newly erected Russian fort; one of the scouts returning to give the
information.  The young warriors hastened to their homes to arm, and to
follow Kaloret Khan.  Alp, who was one of the first prepared, took a
tender farewell of the weeping Zara, and instead of then making her his
bride, was compelled to pursue the foe.

When Selem called for Javis, he was nowhere to be found; and as he
passed Ina, now with the other women assembled together, and recovering
from their terror, he also missed Conrin.  No one had seen the boy.  He
called for him through the grove.  He answered not.

"Oh my brother!" cried Ina, "Allah forbid that he has fallen among the
slaughtered ones!  For worlds I would not that poor boy should be
slain."

They searched among the dead throughout the wood, expecting every moment
to see his pallid features; but he was not to be found.  There was
wailing and weeping through the grove, which had late resounded with the
sounds of merriment and song.  The soft green turf, where the feet of
the young and beautiful had a short time previously so joyously trodden
in the dance, was now defiled with dark red pools of blood.  Several
youths had fallen, cut down by the Tartars on their first onset; and
their female friends and relations were mourning with loud cries and
lamentations over the loved ones so barbarously murdered by those whom
they had ever looked upon as countrymen.

As Selem and Thaddeus were prepared to start, one of the scouts returned
and reported what he had seen.

"It must have been Conrin then," cried Ina.  "His sad forebodings have
been fulfilled, and both he and Javis have been carried off by the Khan.
Oh haste, Selem, haste, my brother!  Follow that cruel chief, for he
bears away one who loves you more than life itself, who has sacrificed
all for you.  I may not say more; but for your own sake recover poor
Conrin at all risks."

"Fear not, dear Ina.  We will overtake the Khan, and wreak our vengeance
on him," answered Selem.

Several other horsemen now coming up, he and Thaddeus took a fond, but
hasty, farewell of Ina, and set off in pursuit of the Khan.  Though some
of their horses were of good blood and speed, yet every one of the
Khan's were picked from the fleetest he possessed, having fully
calculated on the necessity of a rapid flight; so that he kept a head of
his pursuers.  None of the villagers of the hamlets, through which he
passed, were prepared to offer him any impediment, ignorant also of his
errand.  Furiously and desperately he rode along, for he well knew that
he had not the remotest hope of mercy should any party of the
Circassians, outnumbering his own, succeed in overtaking him, and with
equal eagerness was he pursued.

Nothing stopped his savage band in their course; they swam their horses
across the most rapid streams, leaped terrific chasms, galloped down the
steepest hills, and urged their steeds up almost precipitous rocks.  All
the remainder of that day, did they continue their headlong course.  The
night stopped them not; for a few minutes, they sought repose for their
horses; but the sound of their pursuer's feet struck their ears: Again
they urged on their almost falling steeds; blood streamed from their
flanks; foam covered their mouths; their eye balls started wildly; but
still on they went.  It was death to tarry.

Their pursuers caught sight of them--it was a race for life and death,
captivity, perhaps death; or freedom for the poor page.  They gained the
forest which clothed the mountain, looking down upon the Russian fort;
they dashed through it, they flew along the plain; and, as Selem and his
friends gained the brow of the hill, they saw the traitor and his band
enter the gates, at which they were received as friends.

"Alas, my poor page and faithful follower," exclaimed Selem; "captivity
or death, will be your lot, if we cannot rescue you; but that we will
do, or perish in the attempt.  What say you, Thaddeus?  Will yonder
Russians attempt to inflict any injury on my two followers?  They cannot
be such barbarians."

"I fear they will," answered Thaddeus.  "Remember the fate I so narrowly
escaped; I know well the Baron seeks to make some terrible example of
all whom he can claim as deserters."

"But he cannot surely call those youths, deserters, who have never born
arms for Russia," answered Selem.

"He will call them whatever he pleases, now that they are in his power,"
said Thaddeus.

"We must, at all hazards, endeavour to recover them," exclaimed Selem.
"I know not scarcely how, but that young boy has so entwined himself
round my heart, that I would not lose him for worlds.  He is a truly
noble youth, full of warm and ardent feelings.  Should his strength of
body prove equal to his spirit, he will one day shew himself capable of
great deeds; but one will wear out the other, I fear.  The subtle
essence will overcome the grosser matter."

Anxiously did the small band of warriors look down upon the Russian
fort, but it would have been worse than madness to attack it with their
fatigued party.  Keeping, therefore, within shelter of the trees, they
watched until the lights twinkled in the camp, and the watch-fires
blazed around.  Some proposed making an attack, endeavouring to take the
enemy by surprise, and so to carry off the prisoners in the confusion;
but, though Alp was eager to lead it, even Selem opposed the plan as too
rash.  The only feasible scheme seemed to be to hasten to the camp on
the Ubin, and there raise a sufficient force to attack the fort with
some chance of success.

Without waiting to consult further, the young warriors turned the heads
of their weary horses towards the Ubin, where, on their arrival, they
excited the indignation of the assembled chiefs at the atrocious outrage
committed by the Khan.  The Hadji, on seeing his son, embraced him.

"What, my brave Alp, have you left your pretty Zara, ere you made her
your bride to assist your friends, and for the chance of a little
fighting?  Mashallah! you are well worthy of her, and she will love you
all the better for it.  I am proud of you, my boy."

The old warrior was himself delighted at an excuse for attacking the
enemy, as he had begun to fear that there would be no more fighting that
year; and he eagerly exerted himself in gaining volunteers for the
enterprise.  Arslan Gherrei, for his son's sake, persuaded many knights
to join him, besides his own immediate followers.  Nor was Alp idle in
collecting his friends among the wild sons of the chiefs, always ready
for any daring exploit; so that, in a few hours, more than two thousand
horsemen were ready to depart.  Selem strongly urged that no delay
should take place, for fear of the cruelty which the Russian general
might inflict on his prisoners.

Procuring fresh horses, therefore, the band of gallant cavaliers set out
for their exploit; one that it would have been madness to attempt,
except for the known incomplete state of the fortifications, which gave
them hope, by a sudden onset, of leaping the unfinished trenches, and
taking the garrison by surprise.

Volume 3, Chapter IX.

Three days had passed since the Baron Galetzoff had received the visit
from the treacherous Khan Khoros Kaloret; and he was now eagerly
expecting his return, with his clansmen and prisoners, when he began to
suspect that the chief had played him falsely.  As each successive hour
passed by without his coming, his anger proportionably arose.  He was
also under constant dread of an attack from the mountaineers, though, as
yet, he had seen few signs of them.

The troops were busily employed in digging trenches, throwing up
embankments, and finishing the fortifications.  Oxen were dragging in
cartloads of provisions, or fodder for their horses.  Officers were
riding about, and superintending the men.  A strong detachment were sent
out, flanked with cannon, and a body of Cossacks to cut down timber for
the palisadoes.  Others also were employed in cutting grass, and
bringing in wood for fuel.  Sentinels were posted in every direction,
advanced guards were sent out, and the soldiers worked at all times with
their arms by their sides, for they knew not at what moment the dreaded
mountaineers might break through the covert of the wooded height, and,
with a cloud of cavalry, might come sweeping by them like a whirlwind,
ere they had time to form their ranks.  Their heavy artillery, loaded to
the muzzles with grape shot, were pointed in every direction; and many
an anxious eye was cast towards the mountains, in expectation of seeing
the glittering arms of the foes about to rush down upon them.

Towards the close of the day, as the sun was sinking low on the marshes
of the Kouban, throwing a bright warm gleam of light on the rich
brown-tinted foliage of the trees, the outer guards rushed in with the
intelligence, that the enemy were upon them.  The drums beat, the bugles
sounded, and the whole force flew to arms, as the sun-beams glittered on
the armour and swords of a band of mountaineers, who were seen issuing
from the woods, and galloping at full speed towards them.  They were
about to receive the new comers with a shower of grape, when Count
Erintoff stopped them, as the band seemed to consist of but a small
number.

"They are friends," he cried; "harm them not."  And as he saw the Khan,
he galloped out to meet him.  Before him on his horse, the Khan bore a
light form, wrapped in a cloak; when the Count, eagerly expecting to
behold the beautiful features of the Circassian maid, was much
disappointed, and enraged to find only the young page, Conrin.

"How comes this, Khan?" he exclaimed; "why, you have left your chief
prize behind!  Where are the other prisoners you promised to bring with
you?  The General will have but little cause to thank you for your
zeal."

"I could bring only these," answered the Khan fiercely.  "I have been
baffled and defeated in all my attempts, but I will yet have my revenge.
Take these two prisoners; they are Giaours, by their looks.  Kill them
if you will, but ask me no questions."

"We must be content then with the prize you bring us; and may soon find
more occupation for you," replied the Count.  "But how did you not
succeed in bringing off the lady?"

"I have before said, ask me no questions," replied the Khan, angrily.
"Take these prisoners, and kill them if you will."

"We are not likely to disappoint you, Khan, for if we do not get their
master by their means into our power, they will be shot to-morrow;" said
the Count.

"I care not.  Their friends have given me trouble enough; and had not
your General insisted on having them, I should have killed them myself,
as I did many others," replied the Khan.

The Baron being informed of the Khan's arrival, was expecting him in his
tent.  The barbarian was therefore at once conducted thither by the
Count.

"Where are the prisoners you promised to bring?" said the Baron, looking
sternly at him.

"I have brought but two, who are in the hands of my followers;" answered
the Khan.

"Who are they?" asked the Baron, eagerly.

"The page, and a Frank follower of Selem Gherrei," answered the Khan.

"Ah, I must see them immediately," exclaimed the General.  "Khan, you
have not fulfilled my expectations; but you shall be welcome.  You and
your followers shall be cared for here at present, until I can assign
you lands in whatever part of the neighbouring country you may choose."

With a haughty salutation, and a discontented look, the Khan left the
tent.

"Let that proud chief be well watched," continued the Baron, as he
departed.  "See, that none of his followers quit the camp.  I do not
trust him, even now.  Had he brought off the chieftain's daughter, we
should have had a hold upon him; but he may now again escape us.
Colonel Erintoff, you have lost your mistress."

"I owe the barbarian a grudge for the disappointment," answered the
Count.

"You may soon have an opportunity of revenging yourself on him," said
the Baron.  "But, now to business.  Let the prisoners be brought in, and
I will see what I can make of them.  Stay, and assist me."

In a few minutes, a file of soldiers conducted Javis and the young
Conrin to the door of the tent, with their arms bound.  The Baron
ordered them to be brought in, when the soldiers retired.  Javis looked
round him with a firm and determined air, fearless of the presence in
which he stood.

The poor page was wearied, and bruised with his rapid journey, and
attempts at escape; but a fire glowed in his eyes, as he gazed at the
Baron and the Count Erintoff, while a smile of scorn and defiance played
round his lips.

"Stand forward, boy," said the Baron, addressing him sternly.  "What
induced you to leave your native land, and join the hordes of these
barbarians?"

"My own good pleasure," answered Conrin.

"Know you not, mad boy, that, by so doing you have broken your
allegiance to the Emperor, and are guilty of treason?" said the Baron.

"I owe allegiance to no man," returned Conrin, firmly and proudly.  "I
have full right to go where I will."

"You are a subject of the Emperor, boy; and as such, I find you living
among his enemies," said the Baron.  "Know you not, that I have power to
treat you as a traitor?"

"I am a subject of no ruler under Heaven," answered the page; "but full
well do I know your power."

"You speak foolishly; but I pity your youth, and would be lenient with
you," answered the Baron.

"If you would be merciful, then," said Conrin, still with a curl on his
lip, and in a slight tone of irony, "let me go free.  I am but a youth,
and what harm can I do to the mighty power of Russia?"

"What say you, Count, shall I let this innocent boy go free?" said the
Baron, sneeringly.  "Well you seem to agree with me!  Now, listen, boy;
you shall be at liberty to go where you will, even to return to the
mountains, if you wish; but on one condition.  You follow a master, it
seems, who led you among those barbarous hordes of savages, for which
you need owe him but little gratitude, as he has been the means of
placing you in your present danger.  I will not conceal from you, that
your master is an arch-villain and traitor to Russia; and that I am
anxious to get him into my power.  Now, boy, you may be instrumental in
forwarding my views; and if you will undertake to obey my orders, you
yourself shall not only be pardoned, but shall be richly rewarded.  What
say you to my proposition?  Do you consent?"

It was difficult at first to determine what emotions filled the boy's
heart, at hearing this proposition.  The brightness of his eyes
increased, and a bitter smile played over his features.  For a minute he
stood confronting the General, and appearing to seek for words to give
expression to his feelings.

"Man," said he, "Commander of thousands! go seek, among the slaves who
obey you, one who has betrayed his master, and send him to me, that I
may learn a lesson from him, and know, in future, how to mark the
features of a villain.  Compare his with mine, and see if they are
alike; and then say if I am likely to accept your noble offer, if such
is to be the price of my liberty.  It is useless speaking more."

"Boy, you are foolish," said the Baron, endeavouring to soften his rough
voice to a tone of kindness, and to bend his features into a look of
benignity.  "What I ask of you, hundreds in like position would be found
to do for slight reward.  It is not a difficult task that I wish you to
perform; and if you do it not, others will be found who will, and your
master cannot escape me.  All I desire of you is to entice this young
Selem Gherrei near the fort, where I will place an ambush to capture
him.  Think you I would injure him?  No!--it will be but for his own
benefit, as it will rescue him from those barbarians, and restore him to
civilised life.  And for yourself, I promise you a rich reward.  You may
stay and join the army, or I will find you a safe conveyance to your own
country and home.  Think well upon the offer which I make you."

Young Conrin threw a look of scorn at the General, turning his eyes
slowly towards the Count, and with almost a laugh of derision, he
answered--

"A noble offer, truly; could you but read my heart, you would see how
great is the chance that I should accept it.  Think you that to gain
wealth, all people would become villains? that all men have a price, to
be bought and sold?  I pity the wretch with such philosophy.  None but
those with bad hearts could think so.  No, no; such base offers are
thrown away if made to me.  Give me but liberty, and I shall be
grateful."

"Once again, boy, I make an offer such as is not my wont," said the
Baron.  "I know not how it is, but I feel compassion for your youth, and
would not harm you if you would obey my wishes.  You shall go free, free
as the air we breathe; on this condition, you must persuade your master
to come, and I will promise you he shall receive no harm; for, in spite
of all his offences, I would wean him from the cause he advocates, and
bring him over to the side of Russia."

"No!" answered the page firmly.  "Were you to offer boundless riches,
honours--such honours as you can bestow--were it even to place him on a
throne propped up by tyranny, I would not draw him from the path of
glory he follows now, fighting for his country's cause, though his home
is but a humble cot on the mountain's side."

"But suppose, boy, I offer to gain for him rank and fortune, and to
restore him to a civilised life far from these scenes of war and
bloodshed.  Will not that promise tempt you?"

The page seemed to penetrate to the inmost recess of the Baron's mind,
so piercing a glance did he cast at him, as with scorn, still dwelling
on his lip, he answered, "No; I have said before, my master values such
things less, far less than honour.  Did I think he would accept your
offer--and well I know he will not--I could not trust you, General!  You
would impose upon my youth and innocence; but you are mistaken."

The Baron's brow grew dark as night; his voice almost trembled with rage
as he became convinced that his attempts to persuade the youth to obey
his wishes would be fruitless.  "Hear me, mad boy!" he exclaimed.  "You
ask for liberty.  Do you hope to gain it?  Never!  Obey my orders, or
death and torture alone await you.  You talk of leading a peaceful life;
Count Erintoff, before whom you stand, observed you at the Mezi,
following your master in the strife.  Twice were you seen to slay the
Emperor's soldiers; you fought in the ranks of the rebels.  That is
enough alone to condemn you to death as a traitor to Russia.  Think not
to escape by a specious tale of innocence, nor hope for pardon on
account of your youth.  You were old enough to wield your weapons well.
You will be condemned to die to-morrow."

"I have said before that I would not do the deed you ask; no, not for
all the riches of the East," answered Conrin firmly.  "And for my life,
I do not value that so much but that I can laugh your threats to scorn.
Then do your worst upon me; I am prepared to meet your vengeance."

"Mad obstinate boy!" cried the Baron furiously, "your doom is sealed.  I
will examine the other prisoner.  Remove the youth."

At these words Javis, who had stood with a stern glance regarding the
Baron, sprang forward in spite of his fettered hands.  "Stay, General,"
he cried earnestly; "you know not what you do.  Be not thus cruel.  This
seeming page is--"

"Javis!" exclaimed Conrin, "speak not a word of me, I charge you.  Swear
to me that you will not, for I can soon escape their tyranny.  I would
die unknown to all, but to you, my true and faithful friend.  As I have
lived, I am prepared to die.  Swear that you will not betray me to
mortal soul;" he hesitated.  "I command you swear, or, even now, as you
well know, I have the means; you shall see me this moment die at your
feet."

"I swear to obey your wishes; but oh, save yourself.  A word would do
it," cried Javis.

"Never!  I fear not death half, half as much as life within the power of
these men," exclaimed Conrin.

"Boy, I give you still another chance.  Let not sleep o'ercome you till
you have weighed the offer I have made, or it may prove your last," said
the Baron, as Conrin was led off.

As may be supposed, the General could not elicit a word of information
from Javis, who evaded every question which was asked of him, until the
Baron grew furious.  The same tempting offers were made to him as to
Conrin, but he repelled them indignantly.

"I will not turn a traitor to my master," he said; "but I will serve you
faithfully if you will save that boy's life; or if you will take mine, I
will give it joyfully for his.  You know not whom you kill."

"If you will obey my wishes," said the Baron, "not only will I pardon
the boy, but I will load you with wealth, such as you never thought
before to have."

"Oh mighty spirit of my fathers, guard my heart!" ejaculated Javis.
"No, it cannot be; not all the offers that you make me can cause my
purpose to alter.  Yet you cannot be so base, so cruel a tyrant, as to
slay that young and harmless boy."

"Slave, do you speak thus to me?" exclaimed the Baron.  "Think you that
you have any hopes of escaping death?  If so, you are deceived.  You,
too, shall die.  Think well upon my words, and mark me.  The boy dies
first while you are standing by.  To the last moment, his life shall be
in your hands.  If you would save him, consent to obey my wishes.  Ere
mid-day comes to-morrow he shall die, and your death shall follow.
Think well on what I say.  Obey me, or never hope again to see the sun
go down.  Lead him away," he cried to the guards without, "and keep him
separate from the other prisoner.  Well, Count," he said, turning to
that officer, "how think you I have managed with these traitors?"

"Admirably, Baron," answered Count Erintoff.  "Yet I never saw so much
obstinacy displayed.  I think you have worked upon them to comply with
your wishes; and, by their aid, I still have hopes of capturing young
Selem Gherrei."

"I know not," said the Baron; "there was a fierce stubborn look in that
boy's eye I scarce could have expected from one so young; but perhaps
the Gipsy, who seems to have a most romantic affection for him, may, for
the sake of saving him, obey my wishes.  But if he does not, I swear no
power shall save them.  To-morrow morning early, they must be tried: we
know the verdict.  Go, Count, and make arrangements for their trial.  I
would be alone."

We must hope, for the sake of human nature, that the General would, in
his cooler moments, have altered the determination he had expressed;
though the atrocious barbarities which that man was guilty of towards
his Circassian prisoners, when any, faint or senseless from their
wounds, fell into his hands, would repress any charitable construction
of his motives, and ensure only our hatred.

Conrin was removed to a rough small hut of logs, which had lately been
erected to serve the purpose of a prison; but it had, as yet, no
occupants, owing to the constant employment of the soldiers which kept
them from committing any faults.  The ground was unbeaten, ends of
branches projecting from the sides, and a log being left at one end to
serve the purpose of a couch or seat for the prisoners; but as yet it
was not even hewn smooth.  Conrin was thrust in by his guards, and then
left to his solitary meditations, with some black bread and almost
stagnant water; not worse fare, perhaps, than the soldiers themselves
were obliged to submit to.  He threw himself on the rough log, deep sobs
breaking at times from his breast; while, with hands clasped in agony,
he turned his eyes towards Heaven, as if imploring aid.

"No! no! hopeless is my lot!  I am forsaken by the mighty Spirit! and
thus to die without the slightest chance of one fond look on him for
whom I have sacrificed all on earth!  Then the bitter anguish to feel he
knows me not; or, if he knew, perchance would spurn my love.  Death--
annihilation would be better far.  No, he shall never learn the truth.
And yet I would that he should know how true and firm a heart mine was;
and then, when I am reduced to the ashes from whence I sprung, perchance
he would cast some fond regret upon my memory.  Oh! did I think that he
would love me, the very joy would make me laugh at death.  But thus to
die!"  The sobs of the supposed page were renewed.  He started, and
strove to suppress his agitation, for he heard steps approaching.

It was now midnight--that time when the feelings are the acutest, the
nerves most easily excited; when the thoughts strive to wander o'er the
regions of boundless space to search out things mysterious and
inscrutable; when the spirit often seems to quit the bonds of this our
living mortal frame, to visit ideal regions.  It is not the spirits of
the dead, which long have flown to other realms we wot not of, which
mortals fancy oft they see, but their own yet earthly souls are worked
into fever by some potent and subtle influence when the vivifying power
of the sun has been withdrawn.

Conrin listened earnestly.

"Ah! well I know that foot-fall!  Oh! mine enemy, hast thou found me?
Even now I feel his baneful influence, like that dark spirit who roves
about to seek for prey.  The bigot fools need not have decked him with
other attributes than those of mortal man, when foul passions gain the
mastery over him."

"Who goes there?" shouted the sentry at the door of the hut.

"Your Colonel," answered the deep tones of Count Erintoff's voice.
"Stand there, and turn not till I call you."

After which words, Conrin heard the door of his prison open, and, by the
light which faintly streamed in, he beheld the tall form of the Count,
who, closing the door, placed a lanthorn he carried in his hand on the
ground, so as to throw its rays on the features of the prisoner.  The
page rose not, spoke not, but remained in the attitude in which he had
been sitting, with his hands clasped together, and his head bent down.

The visitor surveyed him earnestly ere he addressed him, meditating
apparently on what he should say.

"I am come to give you liberty and life, instead of the death you so
madly seem to seek.  Think you I know you not?  When yon dull sottish
bear, the General, was questioning you, I knew you by the glance of
those expressive features, that haughty brow, that lip curling in proud
disdain.  Think you a boy would have stood undaunted before the furious
rage of yonder overbearing Baron, or would have returned him word for
word and glance for glance?  You played your part but ill just now,
whatever you may have done before to deceive (if so you have) the youth
you followed to Circassia.  Can he be so dull, so hard of heart, as not
to recognise the maid who loves him?  By Heavens, I do believe his wits
so dull, his heart so careless of those charms which drove me near
distracted at their loss, that he has not yet discovered you; and loves
you not, basking, as you humbly look on in the senile character of a
page, in the bright smiles of some of those mountain beauties."

With an hysterical cry, the girl, finding further disguise was useless,
exclaimed--

"Begone, base villain.  What demon prompts you to come hither to torment
me?"

"Nay, nay, my pretty page," said the Count, approaching her, "I would
not wound your feelings for the universe.  I merely spoke what I know to
be most true.  I ask you why, for one who loves you not, you would
sacrifice your life, and throw away all the bright offers that I have
made you, and which I would fulfil?  Oh! it would be a cruel thing to
let those charms, which have enchained my heart, mingle with the dust,
to leave this bright and joyous world so full of pleasures, (to those
who have the sense to find them) to go you know not where.  I do not ask
you to betray the man you loved.  I am not fool enough to think you
would do so, until you should be convinced that he despises you; though
I believe that haughty rebel, young Selem Gherrei, as he is called,
cares not for you.  But fly hence with me, and I can easily deceive this
brutish General.  I offer you wealth and happiness, a bright and
glorious future, where such charms as yours will far eclipse the
proudest beauties of the capital.  Believe me, I am not so dull a fool
as not to appreciate that bright and soaring spirit--that proud
undaunted soul--which raises you above your sex.  I am not scrupulous as
fools would be.  I love you more myself, now that I know your heart is
capable of so much feeling; and I would make it all my own.  Then come,
loved girl.  This instant you shall be free.  A few days more will see
you on your road to Russia, where wealth, luxury, and happiness, await
you."

The Count approached yet nearer, and attempted to take the girl's hand.

"Man!" she exclaimed--"if you are not rather the incarnation of the evil
one, begone.  Come not to torment my heart, already almost broken.
Know, then, that luxury and wealth are things I despise almost as much
as him who offers them; and as for happiness, I never in this world
shall know it again, nor have you the power to give it me.  Begone, and
leave me to myself.  You stir not.  Then if you will not obey my
commands, but still have a soul that can be influenced by prayer, oh!
hear my earnest supplication, and leave me to myself."

"What madness makes you utter words like these?" said the Count.  "Think
well of what you throw away, and of the dark fate which awaits you.  The
Baron vows--and well I know he keeps his oaths when prompted by cruelty
and revenge--that you must die to-morrow; and no mortal power but mine
can save you.  A word from me would rescue you.  Fly with me.  Ah!  If
you refuse, think not the man you love will benefit by your sacrifice;
for here I swear that I will pursue him with the utmost rancour to
avenge your death, of which he has been the cause.  He has crossed my
path before, and ere long I trust to see him in my power."

"You move me not by fear of any harm you can do him," answered the girl
calmly.  "He is above your malice, and would despise your vows of
vengeance."

"If not for his sake then, save yourself for your own," exclaimed the
Count.  "Think how you will die, disgraced, unknown till after you have
ceased to breathe; and then you will be a thing for savage soldiers to
pass their brutal jest upon.  Oh, why this madness?  Let me save you
from yourself, and fly with me."

The proud Count knelt at her feet, and again endeavoured to take her
hand.  "See," he exclaimed, "I kneel to you to beseech that you will let
me save you from cruel death and contumely."

The girl then shrinking back, "Begone, I say, again," she cried.
"Believe me, I despise you far too much even to seek your pity."

The Count sprang to his feet.  "Know then, wilful girl," he exclaimed,
"that nothing shall save you.  Your cruelty will change my love to hate;
and though I still might save your life, I shall not rest until I see
you die.  None shall know that Count Erintoff has humbled himself in
vain.  There are yet some hours to dawn.  Think on my vows, and promise
to obey my wishes.  A word of yours would win my love again; else,
before the sun mounts highest in the sky, you will have become a cold
and senseless clod.  I leave you now."

The girl answered not, but looked disdainfully on the Count as he
retired.  Then, sinking on the hard log, she placed her hands before her
eyes--to shut out something dreadful from her sight.  A terrific
struggle seemed to take place in that tender, that loving, bosom, as if
the agitated spirit were about to burst its tabernacle; but it passed,
and she was calm--so calm that it seemed she slept.

Volume 3, Chapter X.

The morning came, the glorious sun rose undimmed by clouds, and nature
wore a face of gladness; the birds sung sweetly from their leafy
coverts, the refreshing dew which sprinkled the herbage, and the
autumnal-tinted leaves, sparkled brightly.  A light mist, rising from
the lowlands, faded away, and left the landscape more clear and lovely
from the contrast.

The prisoners were led forth from their places of confinement.  Their
trial commenced.  Undauntedly they stood before all the highest officers
of the garrison.

Several soldiers declared that they had seen them fighting on the side
of the enemy.  Neither of the prisoners would answer a word to the
interrogations made to them.  Their sentence was passed.  Death was
recorded.  Their guilt was clear, nor did they deign to sue for pardon.
As their sentence was pronounced, Javis sprang forward with an imploring
look towards the president, and was again about to utter some
exclamation; but a glance from the supposed page stopped him, and,
dejectedly he stepped back, turning a troubled and anxious eye towards
his companion, though he seemed perfectly resigned to his own fate.  The
Baron hurried over the proceedings with brutal haste; and the prisoners
were ordered forthwith to be led from the camp and shot as traitors to
Russia.

They were conducted from the tent where the court martial was held,
between a file of soldiers, walking as firmly and composed as if they
had forgotten that a few minutes more were to be their last.

The fort, as we have before said, was erected on some elevated ground,
at a short distance from the mountains, rising like an island from the
plains and marshes of the Kouban.  The intervening space between the
fort and the mountain, was one uninterrupted meadow, unbroken by rocks
or inclosures.  The spot selected for the cruel execution, was on a
green slope reaching from the entrenchments to the plain facing the
mountains; and here a body of the troops were now drawn up while the
remainder continued at their labours digging the entrenchments, and
erecting the requisite buildings for barracks and store houses, in
preparation for the coming winter.

At a short distance from the fort, a foraging party in compact order,
accompanied by artillery and cavalry were seen marching along the plain,
from the direction of the Kouban, unaware of the execution about to take
place.

The Baron had sternly commanded the Count Erintoff to lead the troops
destined for the execution, though it seemed that he would willingly
have escaped the office; but he was compelled to obey: and he now stood
at the head of his regiment, drawn up in line on the green slope we have
described, the firing party a little in advance of the other troops.
The General himself stood at some distance on the newly raised
embankments of the fort, pacing to and fro, with a dark frown on his
brow, and his eyes glancing restlessly around.  As the young prisoners
were led out from the fort, they passed the spot where he stood.  He
commanded the party who guarded them to halt, and bring them before him.

The disguised page wore the same stern look as on the previous day; but
a brighter almost supernatural foe burned in her eye as she met that of
the General.  Javis advanced boldly with a firm tread and perfect
composure; but as he turned his looks towards his companion, his
features would become convulsed as if some pang of agony passed through
his frame.

"Prisoners," said the Baron, "you have but a few short moments to live;
but, even now, I give you a chance of escape.  Obey my orders, and I
promise to pardon you.  To you, boy, I speak first.  Will you do as I
wish?"

"Never!" answered the page in a deep firm voice.  "I am prepared to
die."

"Then lead him on," cried the Baron furiously.  "You, perchance, may
have more wisdom," he continued, addressing Javis, "than yonder
obstinate boy, who brings his own fate on himself.  Will you save, not
only your own life, but his?"

"I would save his life on any terms," exclaimed Javis; "but he would be
the first to blame me.  For my own, I value it not.  But, Oh! spare him,
General, spare him for his youth alone.  Ask him not to do that to which
he cannot consent.  You know not what you do in slaying him.  Spare him,
as you hope for mercy!"

"Lead off the audacious rebel," cried the Baron furiously.  "Let the boy
be shot first," he added, addressing an officer who waited his commands.
"I can gain nought from him; and let his companion witness his fate:
perchance it will bring him to reason."

There was not an officer in the camp who would not, if he could, have
saved the lives of those youths at this moment; but none dared speak;
even the dull soldiers felt tears spring to their eyes.  The wild Khan,
who was on horseback in company with a troop of cavalry, looked on with
astonishment; and, as he witnessed the noble bearing and bravery of the
prisoners, even he repented that he had brought this untimely fate upon
them, until he remembered that it was by the hand of one of them that
his brother fell.  But of all the party the Count Erintoff seemed the
most affected.  His countenance was as pale as death; he dared not turn
his eye towards the prisoners.  He felt himself to be a wretch cursed by
heaven; a cold-blooded murderer, instigated by the basest, the blackest
revenge.  The prisoners had reached the fatal spot, and the youngest was
placed upon the ground, while Javis was led aside: they exchanged
glances, but neither spoke.  The supposed page heaved a deep-drawn sigh
as she saw the glance of agony which the faithful Javis--of whose death
she was too truly the cause--cast towards her.

A soldier advanced to bind her eyes.

"No," she cried, putting the handkerchief aside.  "I would look my last
upon the bright blue heavens, to which my spirit so soon must fly.  I
can face death as fearlessly as the oldest-soldier present.  Let my eyes
at least be at liberty, to the last."

The soldier looked towards his officer, who ordered him to follow the
prisoner's wishes, and he returned to the ranks.

All was prepared.  The girl stood undaunted; but her eyes wandered
towards the mountains with an anxious glance.  What does she see there?
Is it the sun which sparkles on the shining leaves of the forest?  She
stands entranced, regardless of her executioners; for a band of
steel-clad warriors, their swords flashing in the sun like a foaming
torrent, sweep downward from the mountain's brow.  The wood is full of
them.  On every side they pour forth from amid the trees.  At their head
rides one urging on his steed at its utmost speed, and waving aloft his
sabre.  The eye of love distinguishes him from afar, before the
Russians, intent on the scene of execution, have perceived their danger.
The prisoner uttered a cry of joy.  "Thank thee, Great Spirit, that I
see that loved one ere I die!" she exclaimed.  "Yes! yes!  I'll join
you, in spite of these tyrants!"

Forgetful of her situation, forgetful of all but that he whom she loved
was approaching to her rescue, she lifted up her arms to rush to meet
him.  It was the signal of her death; and Javis, breaking from his
guards, sprang forward and threw himself before her.

At that moment the foraging party reached the fort, when a soldier
rushed forward from the ranks to where the Baron stood.

"Hold! hold!" he cried with fierce excitement.  "Stay the execution.
Barbarous chief! you know not what you do!  Stay, or you will murder
your own daughter, who was carried off from you by the dwarf Ladislau;
she was placed in my hands for her mother's sake, a daughter of my
tribe.  Know me as the Gipsy Conrad."

The Baron seemed as one who heard him not; he was astounded, and gazed
wildly at the speaker.  His faculties were paralysed; his limbs
trembled.  The precious moments flew by.  He lifted his arm.

"Stay the execution!" he shrieked.  But ere the words were uttered, the
rattle of musketry was heard.  The smoke hung like a funeral pall over
the spot, as, rushing towards it, the fierce Baron fell senseless near
the slaughtered form of his daughter, the Gipsy girl, Azila; and by her
side lay the body of her humble, devoted, and despised lover, Javis.

The alarm was given that the enemy were upon them.  There was no time to
retreat to their entrenchments.  Fast and furious came the mountain
horsemen.  The drums beat to arms, the soldiers rushed to man the guns,
and to seize their weapons.  The troops drawn up outside wheeled to
receive the shock from the furious charge of the foe, the cavalry
advanced to meet them; but they were like reeds bent beneath the tiger's
spring.  Men and horses trembled at the wild war shriek.  None could
withstand that desperate onset; and the first, the foremost who fell,
was the traitor Khan, cut down by the sword of Thaddeus.

"A well-timed blow, brave Pole," cried the Hadji, as he swept by to
charge the Russians.  "Thus die all traitors to Circassia!"

Close to him was Selem, encountering the sword of Count Erintoff, who
shouted, "Ah! we have met at length?  Traitor to Russia, yield!"

"Heaven defend the right!" cried Selem, parrying his blow.  Their swords
flashed quickly round, and in a moment the Count fell mortally wounded
from his horse.

The Hadji, Alp, and many other chiefs, and their followers rushed on the
bayonets of the infantry.  "Ah!  Allah!" shouted the old warrior, "we'll
cut through that wall of steel.  Onward, men of Atteghei!"  So terrific
was the onset that the two foremost ranks of the Russians trembled,
wavered, and fell back on the rear, as the dauntless warriors approached
them, driving the others in hopeless confusion, cut down by the
Circassian sabres, and trampled under foot by their war-steeds.

"Ah!  Allah!" again shouted the Hadji.  "Follow me, my son, and we shall
soon be within their trenches!" and attacking those who alone stood
their ground, followed by a dense cloud of horsemen, sweeping over their
prostrate foes.

The remnant of the Russian cavalry had turned, and fled towards the
entrance of their fort; but none succeeded in reaching it: the
drawbridge was drawn up, the gates were closed.

Why does Selem stay in his career of victory, his cheek blanched even
amid the excitement of the combat?  On the ground weltering in blood, he
sees the slaughtered form of his faithful, loving page; he bends low
from his horse, and lifts it in his arms.

Onward, onward rushed the mountaineers towards their hoped for prize;
but as they mingled among the confused mass of flying infantry close to
the trenches, a tremendous discharge of cannon saluted them.  On friend
and foe fell alike the crashing showers of deadly grape; and the
ramparts were lined with bristling rows of bayonets.  Many of the
gallant patriots fell beneath the devastating fire in their career of
victory.

"Turn, turn, my noble friends!" cried the brave Chief Arslan Gherrei.
"It is madness to be exposed to this iron storm.  We can never take the
fort on horseback."

At the word, the dense troop swept round.  A horseman, in the uniform of
Russia, seized Selem's rein, and urged on his horse, while Thaddeus, on
the other side, joined the retreating Circassians.  Before the guns
could be reloaded, they were beyond their range.

The mountaineers halted in the confines of the forest.  Selem sprang to
the ground, endeavouring to staunch the blood which flowed from many
wounds in the breast of his page.  He tore open his vest; his heart
turned sick with horror and grief as he discovered a woman's form.  He
leant over it with deep grief.  The veil which so long had obscured them
was torn from his eyes.  He knew the features of Azila.  In a moment he
read the history of her deep unswerving love, constant to the last
through trials, hardships, and neglect.  He felt her heart to discover
if it yet beat.  He tried to persuade himself that her yet warm breath
fanned his cheeks; but it was in vain.  A faint smile still lingered on
her features; but no throb answered to his touch.  The dark blood flowed
slowly from the wounds; her heroic, her loving, spirit had fled; Azila
was dead!

None of the chiefs, not even Selem's father, approached him.  They had
witnessed the scene, and read the sad story at a glance.  Long did he
bend, in deep agony, over that inanimate form.

He was aroused by the Russian deserter.

"Think you not, young chief, that I, too, have cause for grief?
Remember you not how I loved that fair and noble girl?  Do you not know
me?"

"Yes, yes, I know you now, my friend," answered Selem, recognising in
the stranger the Gipsy chief who had aided his escape from Russia, the
reputed father of Azila.  "You have, indeed, deep cause to grieve for
your daughter."

"Except that she sprung from my race, she is not my daughter, though I
loved her more than one.  See, two of my race I have lost today most
cruelly murdered;" and he pointed to the body of Javis, which he had
also brought off on the horse of one of the slain troopers.  "She, too,
murdered by her own father, though he knew it not till too late, when
madness seized his brain; and yon poor youth, he also deserves our pity,
for I know his deep, yet hopeless, love for Azila, for whose sake he
followed you."

"What say you, my old friend?" said Selem, rising from the ground
whereon he had been kneeling.  "By what strange fortune came you to
learn so horrid a tale? and what wonderful chance conducted you hither
at this moment?"

"It may seem extraordinary that I am here; and yet such was the decree
of fate, when first we met beneath my tent in Russia.  You were the
unconscious instrument of bringing me hither; and yet, from the remotest
period of time, this event was destined.  The latest cause was this: It
was discovered that I had aided in your escape from Russia, when I and
all my tribe, who could be found, were seized and condemned to serve in
the ranks of the Russian army of the Caucasus.  Azila's history, I
alone, with the dwarf Ladislau, have known from her birth.  He was
another cause of these events.  As you remember well, the Baron always
made him his butt, treating him with contumely, little thinking what
deep feelings of hatred and revenge rankled in the bosom of the
diminutive being.  A lovely girl of our race, whose sweet voice
enraptured the proudest nobles of Moscow, won the haughty Baron's heart;
and, dazzled by his rank and wealth, she consented, at an unhappy
moment, to exchange her liberty to become the slavish wife of a
tyrannical master.  She soon pined for her freedom, regretting the
miserable lot she had madly chosen; and, as her husband's admiration of
her charms wore away, he treated her with cruelty and neglect.  Yet
jealous feelings, at the same time, possessed the tyrant's breast; and
he began to look with an eye of suspicion on an innocent daughter she
had just borne him.

"The broken-hearted wife of the Baron died; and Ladislau, to revenge
himself on his tyrant, brought away his child, and delivered her to me,
making me swear never to reveal her history till his death, and that I
heard of ere I left Russia.  To rescue her from a life of thraldom and
neglect, I determined to keep her as my own daughter, bringing her up
with all the accomplishments I could well find means to bestow.  She
became all I could wish in mind and person, wreathing herself round my
heart as much as any child of my own could do; and when she once visited
my tents, she seemed so to enjoy the wild freedom of our lives, that I
could not again part from her, intending, however, on Ladislau's death,
to make her father recognise her, and restore her to her proper rank and
fortune.  When you came to my tents, knowing that you were not her
brother, I hoped in some way, through your means, to accomplish my
purpose; little thinking how deep was the love which had sprung up in
the sweet girl's bosom for you."

"Blind and dull have I been!" exclaimed Selem in a tone of anguish, "not
to have seen through her disguise before; for now, when lost to me for
ever, I feel how fondly I could have returned her love."

He knelt again over her, and took her cold lifeless hand:--"My true
Azila, faithful to death!  A hundred fold has your murder added to the
debt of retribution I owe our tyrannical invaders.  Yes, sweet one, I
again swear to avenge your death on every one of that cursed race who
sets foot on the shores of Circassia.  Bear witness, my friend, I sign
my vow before as fair an image as nature ever formed!  Let this be the
token!  Where the battle is thickest, there will I bear this silken
lock."

He kissed her pallid brow, and severed with his dagger one of her long
black tresses, which he entwined through the links of his chain armour.
He knelt over the bleeding form for some moments more in silence: he
then rose, and extended his hand to the Gipsy chief.

"Welcome, my friend, to the land I call my own.  I may now hope to repay
your hospitality."

"If my services will be accepted, I have come to offer my hand and heart
to the cause of the patriots.  I should have remained a good subject of
Russia, if she had allowed me; but she will now find me and my tribe her
mortal enemies; for I doubt not that all my people will take the first
opportunity of escaping, when they hear that I am on the side of the
Circassians; and heartily will they all join in avenging that poor
girl's death."

"It was a barbarous deed," cried Selem, casting an agonised glance on
the pale features of Azila, beautiful, even in death.

Arslan Gherrei now approached his son; "Let not sorrow take possession
of your soul, my son, for the loss of that faithful girl.  I, I too well
can share your feelings; but shew yourself stern as a warrior among our
countrymen.  Think not of grief, while we have swords in our hands to
avenge our friends.  That poor maiden shall have a befitting funeral,
she shall be consigned to the care of Ina, who, with her friends, will
mourn over their lost sister."

"You speak truly, my father," exclaimed Selem, "no one henceforth shall
see me shed a tear of joy or grief, till every hallowed spot of our
loved country shall be freed from the defiling tread of the Russian
foot, or till the death-wound comes to send me to a warrior's grave."

"My son, your words make your father's heart beat proudly," said the
chieftain; "and worthy are you of our royal race.  See, is not yonder
sight enough to rejoice the breast of every foe to Russia?"

Selem turned his eyes in the direction his father indicated, where the
ground, in front of the Russian entrenchments, was strewn with the
slain; so rapidly and surely had the Circassian sabres done their work
among the panic-stricken ranks.  Few, if any, had reached the gates of
the fort; for of those who escaped the first fierce onset, most had been
mowed down by the showers of grape and rockets fired by their own
countrymen.  Many of the Circassians had fallen; but not one had been
left on the field; every horseman seizing his comrade as he was wounded
or slain, and bearing him on his steed from the ground.

The band of warriors, assembled in the forest overlooking the fort, kept
the garrison in a constant state of alarm; their swords and armour being
seen amid the trees, when any of them approached the skirts of the wood.

A council of war was now held.  The Hadji proposed attacking the fort
again at once, rushing from their concealments, without a moment's
warning to the enemy, and leaping the trenches on their chargers, in
spite of the shower of grape they might expect.

"Mashallah!" he cried, "they should soon learn how little use their big
guns would be, when we got at their tails, for they cannot kick as well
as bite."

Even Selem, generally cautious, as well as bold, eagerly seconded his
old friend's proposition; and Alp was employed in persuading most of his
companions to accompany him.  But the proposition was overruled by
Arslan Gherrei, and the more prudent leaders, who considered the attempt
would be madness; as, to their cost, they had already found the fort so
strongly guarded with cannon; not one of their warriors having fallen,
except by the destructive fire from the guns.  It was at last agreed to
storm the fort at a future day, when the garrison would be unprepared to
receive them.

Selem, rousing himself from his grief, introduced the Gipsy chief as the
foster father of the slaughtered maiden, explaining to them his history.
As there was now no further cause for delay, the band of warriors
prepared to leave the scene of their exploit; the Dehli Khans rushing
forward, and waving their swords as a parting salute of defiance to
their foes.

Selem stood by the side of Azila's corpse.  The Gipsy approached him.

"Let me take the office of bearing those remains," he said; "to you it
would be too severe a task."

Selem offered no resistance, as the Gipsy enveloped the body in his
horseman's cloak, and placed it before him on his saddle.  A follower of
Arslan Gherrei carried the body of Javis, in like manner; while Thaddeus
rode by Selem's side, offering vain consolation to a heart so deeply
wounded.

After riding some distance, the party separated; some to return to the
camp, and a few, among whom was Alp, to accompany Selem to the valley of
Abran Bashi.

Volume 3, Chapter XI.

It was a sad and mournful train which returned to the valley of Abran
Bashi, the scene but a few days before of the bridal festival and of
joy.  Selem had sent to announce his return to his sister, with an
account of the sad catastrophe which had occurred.  As the cortege
approached the house of the chief, she, her woman, and the other females
of the hamlet, came out to meet them; and into their hands the remains
of the slaughtered Azila were committed.

The Gipsy approached Selem, who, after embracing his sister, had
sauntered through the grove to indulge in his grief unseen.

"Young chief," he said, "where shall my poor child be buried?"

How sadly, how harshly did those words grate on Selem's ears!  How many
unutterable thoughts of anguish and regret do they summon to the mind of
all!  The closing for ever of some loved object from our view--the sad
reality of death, before only looked on as a remote object!

"Would she not wish to lie in some secluded spot, where her spirit, that
had been sorely troubled in this life, might be at rest?"

"My friend," answered Selem, "there is near here a grove sacred to the
one Great Spirit we all adore, whatever may be our religious creeds.
None approach that spot with irreverent or light feelings, and there
shall Azila rest."

"Such would have been the spot she would have chosen," answered the
Gipsy.  "And by her side we will place poor Javis.  He well deserves to
be near her, for he might yet be alive, had he not thrown himself before
her to receive the shot."

"He was truly faithful to the last," said Selem.  "And yet it was a
happier fate for him to die.  But, my friend, speak no more on the
subject.  We must soon again haste to the exciting scenes of war, which,
as men, befit us most.  Know you where the people of your tribe are
stationed, that we may endeavour to assist them in escaping from the
foe?  They will be received by my countrymen with open arms, and you may
resume your former habits of independence, and your free mode of life.
You will find here no tyrannical laws to restrict you, if you conform to
the simple habits and customs of my people; and you may again become the
chief of your tribe."

"That can never be," answered the Gipsy.  "My tribe are broken and
dispersed; though the few who may escape from Russian thraldom, will
obey me as of yore.  But where are our women and children?  Where our
cattle and our tents?  I and my people will serve under you.  Where you
go, we will go; and we will be faithful and true to you, until death."

"I could not wish for a more faithful follower than poor Javis proved,"
answered Selem.  "And I fear not but you will be equally true to me.
Thus, gladly do I agree to the compact you propose."

After walking some way, side by side, a low and plaintive melody, wafted
through the grove, reached their ears, and, returning, they found a a
group of veiled maidens standing round an open bier, on which lay, as if
reposing in a calm sleep, the body of Azila.  Once more, ere the earth
closed over her for ever, she was clothed in the garments of her sex.  A
white veil was fastened to her hair, and lay on each side of her pale
face that looked like some beautiful piece of sculptured marble.  Her
hands were joined on her breast, on which a rose was placed; a white
robe enveloped her form, while flowers, fresh picked from the groves and
meadows, strewed the bier.

The maidens, with Ina weeping at their head, bore the body along,
singing, in plaintive tones, a low dirge; while an aged minstrel, who
preceded the train, chaunted, at intervals, to the sound of his wild
harp, an account of her death.  A band of young men followed, carrying
the body of Javis, wrapped in his winding-sheet, on an open bier; and at
the end of each verse, they joined their voices in chorus to those of
the females.  Next followed Selem, Thaddeus, and many others of the
youths and maidens of the village, who had the day before been
performing the same sad office to those who had fallen in the conflict
with the Khan.

When the mourning train reached the sacred grove, where the graves had
been already dug, they found the most venerable elder of the valley
waiting their arrival; and, as the bodies of the two young beings were
placed in their last resting-place, he offered up prayers to the Great
Spirit for a quick translation of their souls to the realms of bliss,
and a happy immortality; in which pious supplication the assembly all
reverently joined.

The graves of the deceased were placed side by side beneath the shelter
of an overhanging rock that projected from the steep slope of the
mountain.  Two trees bent over the spot, entwining their boughs above.
A small slab of stone was placed at the head of each grave; and on the
trees the maidens hung chaplets of wild flowers.

The stranger girl sleeps calmly in her early and bloody grave; nor has
her name departed from the memory of the mountaineers.  Her romantic
history and sad fate are recorded in their songs, and chaunted among
their many wild and melancholy ballads, for which, alas! they have but
too many subjects.

Those who came to perform the funeral ceremony were gone, and our hero
remained.  He thought alone, by the grave-side of her who had so deeply
adored him, and whom he, too late, had learned to love.  He heard a
gentle sob; he looked up, his sister was beside him; he took her hand,
but did not speak.  The last time he had attended a funeral was when
their mother was buried; and her dying injunctions recurred to him more
forcibly now that his heart was softened with sorrow.

Selem hitherto had felt that he was wanting in one of the great
requisites, enthusiasm in the cause of religion.  He had never indeed
thought deeply on the subject; and how could he, when engaged in a
bloody and revengeful war, be a follower of a creed which indicated
peace and good-will towards all men?  Had he not sworn never to sheathe
his sword while a Russian remained in arms near them?  How could he
indeed hold up to the example of his countrymen a religion professed by
foes, who were engaged in openly breaking every precept it commanded, by
the unjust and exterminating war on the liberties of their country?  He
knew that they would laugh his lessons to scorn, when he had no better
reasons to give them than those he could advance; and that they would
despise him for his infatuation in proposing a creed which allowed its
professors to act as their enemies did towards them.

He felt, however, that his sister would not be swayed by these
considerations, when she heard that it was the faith in which their
mother died; and that it had been the last wish of her heart, that her
daughter should adopt it; so that he had strong hopes, with such a
foundation, of convincing her of its truth and beauty.  He knew not,
indeed, how powerful an advocate of his cause he had in Thaddeus.  His
only hope, with regard to his countrymen at large, rested on the fact
that Christianity had been at some period, however remote, the faith of
their forefathers; that its emblem still remained venerated by them in
the land, and that they were imbued universally with a strong feeling of
respect for their ancient customs.  Its great opponent, Islamism, had
gained but a weak footing in their minds; and they were more likely to
adopt a faith which they would consider better founded, if they could be
convinced that it was the belief of their ancestors, and that its very
symbols still existed among them.

Selem took Ina's hand, and walked some way in silence.  At length he
said--

"I have much to communicate to you, and may have but a short time for
the purpose; for I know not how soon I may be called upon to offer up my
blood as a sacrifice to the liberties of our country; and gladly would I
suffer death if one so dear as you were to be benefited by it."

"Oh! talk not of death, dear Selem; the very thought breaks my heart,"
cried Ina.  "Have I but just found you to lose you?  The noble spirit of
our father would sink beneath so great a blow."

"Do not grieve, dear sister!  Thoughts of death will not bring the
dreaded tyrant nearer; nor, if we persuade ourselves that he cannot
reach us, will the vain hope shield us more securely from his unfailing
dart.  I spoke but as every warrior must feel, when he sees each day his
friends cut down at his side; but it makes him not the less brave or
daring, though he knows that it may be his turn to fall the next.  But I
wish not to die; and for your sake, my sister, may Heaven grant me a
long life, and reserve my humble efforts for our country's cause!  But,
Ina, the subject on which I would speak to you is not of death, but of
life.  I bring you a message from our lost mother, which I have too long
delayed delivering.  You, her unknown babe, whom she confided to my
care, if I could succeed in discovering you, were in her thoughts to the
last."

They had reached the cross before described, in the grove towards which
Selem now pointed.

"Know you, Ina, why, and by whom, yon cross was placed there?"

"I have scarce thought why," she answered.  "Perchance by our fathers,
before Allah and his prophet were known in our land."

"Yes, it was placed there by our fathers, doubtlessly," answered Selem;
"but as a symbol of a pure and holy faith, from which their children
have widely departed.  It is the symbol of a faith in which our mother
died, in which I was nurtured, and in which she charged me to instruct
you."

"What!" cried Ina.  "Are there more faiths than that which, a short time
ago, all in the land believed and the faith of Mahomet--by which I
thought we could alone gain Paradise?"

"Indeed, Ina, there are many strange creeds in the world," answered
Selem; "but one only is pure and true.  It was established long before
Mahomet promulgated his doctrines; and far, far different are its tenets
from his.  He, indeed, took truth for the foundation of his religion,
acknowledging the great, the immutable, all-powerful, all-seeing Being,
whom our countrymen also worship with a belief in a hereafter.  But on
that foundation, he built up a superstructure, composed of falsehoods as
gross as they were improbable, forming his tenets to please the wild
hordes over whom he sought to gain power.  His aim was conquest.  He
promised a quick translation to the realms of bliss, to those who fell
fighting for him; and his Paradise he pictured as the utmost enjoyment
of sensual pleasures, such as his followers most prized on earth,
awarding to you, the fairer portion of the human race, the same place of
abject subjection which he would make you submit to in this world.  To
forward his great aim, personal aggrandisement, he preached
extermination to all who would not embrace his faith, or, in other
words, obey his rule.  He found that women did not assist him in his
aims; and he, therefore, pretended that they were formed to be the
abject slaves of man's will.

"This, dear sister, is the religion which the Turks have sought to
introduce into our country; and already have its baneful effects been
felt.  Now mark the difference of the religion of the cross.  It
inculcates peace and love to all men.  It pictures a heaven of bliss,
unutterable, free from all the base and sensual passions of this life,
pure, eternal.  It makes woman man's helpmate, his companion, his
adviser, his equal.  It gives birth to all the nobler feelings of our
nature.  It purifies love, it sanctifies marriage, it exalts courage,
and it produces friendship unselfish and firm."

"All! what a beautiful religion must that be, my brother!" cried Ina,
her eyes beaming with fervour, and the colour of her cheeks heightening
with animation.  "I have often wondered that a Great Spirit, whom men
call just and good, should have formed one half of his people to be the
slaves of the other; but now I see that it is not that He is unjust, but
that man has become usurping and bad.  Oh!  I can never again believe
that Mahomet was a true prophet!"

"Ina, your words delight me," cried her brother.  "I find my task almost
accomplished when you speak thus.  Man is, indeed, wicked; and the Great
Spirit, seeing this, sent one from heaven to teach him a pure and holy
code of morals.  Christ so loved mankind, and grieved for their sins,
that, notwithstanding his power, he allowed himself to be slain on the
cross, by those whose wicked customs he came to overthrow.  His
worshippers have, therefore, made use of that sign to remind them of Him
who died for their sake; and in this very grove, on the spot on which we
now stand, have our fathers bowed the knee in adoration of that
benignant Being."

"Oh, my brother," said Ina.  "How I love to hear you speak thus, for I
feel and know that your words are those of truth!"

"I believe them," answered Selem.  "And much I wish that not only you,
but that all our countrymen, would adopt the same creed.  It would prove
a surer and more trusty bulwark against our foes than all foreign aid.
Knowing our cause to be just, they would have a firmer trust in the God
of justice.  It would make them cease from inflicting injuries on each
other; for it teaches us to treat others as we would ourselves be
treated.  It will enlighten and add firmness to their minds, for it will
banish superstition or dread of evil omens.  It will give combination
and strength to their councils, for they will have confidence in each
other, being bound together in one brotherhood as they would be.  It
will enable them to bear reverses with fortitude; for they will consider
them as inflictions kindly sent from above as a punishment for their
sins; and it will temper victory with moderation, as a boon granted from
heaven to be received with thanksgivings and praise to the great Giver."

Ina was thoughtful for a few minutes.  "But tell me, Selem," she said at
length, "how is it that the cruel Urus, from whom you have learnt this
religion, act as they do?  How is it that they attack our country,
murdering and destroying those who have never done them any harm?"

"You have urged an objection, which I anticipated," replied Selem; "but
it does not follow that a religion is false, because its _mere_
professors do not act according to its injunctions.  It has a far, very
far, different influence on its true believers.  The religion of the
cross is not the less true, because men, calling themselves its
followers, are wicked.  Among the Russians it has been so debased and
altered, so overwhelmed with superstition and priestcraft, that it has
sunk into a contemptible and absurd idolatry.  The gospel inculcates a
simple, pure, and moral rule of life, easy to be understood and
followed.  Such, Ina, is the religion I would teach you, and in which I
was myself instructed by a good and enlightened man, who had kept his
own mind free from the gross errors and superstition of those who
surrounded him.  The injustice of this war, which the Russians are
waging against us, is indeed no argument against the religion I speak
of; for it has too frequently happened, that men in power act in direct
opposition to its tenets.  They send armies to ravage countries, destroy
cities, and commit atrocities of every kind, without the slightest
compunction; nor think themselves at all the worse worshippers of a mild
and forgiving faith; each individual holding himself irresponsible for
the acts of the whole.  Thus a people, who consider themselves the most
civilised and religious in the world, may be guilty of crimes to be
equalled only by those perpetrated by the wildest hordes of barbarism
when their interests or passions are excited."

In that calm retreat did the young Circassian Chief unfold to his fair
sister the truths of his religion; and, as her artless mind began to
comprehend them, she clasped her hands with gratitude, that so beautiful
an institution had been formed for the benefit of the human race.

"Oh my brother," she exclaimed, "little did I think, when my heart beat
with joy at your return, that you would also bring me so precious a
gift.  What a new, what an extended view of happiness, you have opened
to my thoughts!  Oh, do not leave me, Selem, till you have taught me all
I can learn, as I would not, for worlds, now lose that religion.  It
seems like some valued jewel of price, which, till secured to me, I
should every moment be in fear of having snatched from my grasp.  And
does Thaddeus, does your friend also believe in this religion?"

"Indeed, I trust he does, dearest," answered Selem.  "But it is long
since I have spoken to him on the subject.  Ah! here he comes to answer
for himself, I see him wandering through the grove, lost in meditation."

The growing darkness prevented the speaker from seeing the deep blush
which this announcement called up on his sister's cheek.  Thaddeus
started with pleasure, as he beheld his friend approaching, and saw by
whom he was accompanied.  "Here, my friend," said Selem to him, "I have
begun a task, in which I trust you will aid me (avoiding all the
intricate and foolishly disputed points) by teaching our faith to my
sister."

"Gladly I accept the office, and deeply interested I am in the success
of my instruction," replied Thaddeus.  "But, my friend, I have been
longing to unbosom myself to you of a secret, lest you should accuse me
of deceit or treachery."

Ina felt her heart beat quickly, from guessing the words which would
follow.

"Speak, Thaddeus, what is it you would say," said Selem, taking his
sister's hand.

"Selem, my friend," replied Thaddeus, "to you I owe my life and all I
now possess; but, though deeply grateful, I would ask still more of you.
I have your sister's leave to speak."  Selem felt Ina's hand press his.
"From the first moment I saw her, I felt I would die rather than cease
to love, or learn that she no longer loves me.  Will you sanction and
aid us in our hopes? or, if not, deliver me again into the hands of the
Russians, from whom you rescued me."

"My friend! my brother! your words give me joy indeed," exclaimed Selem,
"Believe me, that I will aid to the utmost the wishes of the two beings
most dear to me on earth.  But, remember, we have a father to consult;
though he, I doubt not, will give his daughter to one, without whose aid
he would have lost her entirely."

"Oh, I know he will," cried Ina.  "For he dearly loves me."

"Our father, Ina, is as good as he is brave; and it shall be my grateful
charge to plead your cause with him.  I will tell him, that my friend is
of a noble and princely race, who were chiefs in their own country
before Russian swords overwhelmed them.  As for wealth, we want it not
here.  We have abundance for all."

Thus conversing, those three young beings sat beneath the trees of the
sacred grove, till the rising moon warned them to return home.

In the fervid climes of the East, smiles and laughter succeed tears and
grief, as rapidly as sunshine follows the showers of spring.  Life is
more full of excitement and danger; the pulse beats quicker; the
passions are more easily aroused, whether of sorrow or pleasure.  There
is, perhaps, more to enjoy in life; but it is held by even a more frail
tenure than in the colder regions of the north.

On the following morning the inhabitants of the anderoon were in a state
of great agitation, while old Kahija bustled about to array Zara in her
bridal vestments; for her betrothed was anxiously waiting her arrival at
his father's house.  The old nurse, with tears streaming from her eyes,
was busily employed in enveloping her in a long white robe, fastened at
her head; which, when drawn round, completely concealed her figure.

"My dear Ina," said the blushing girl, "Alp yesterday evening was
persuading me to leave you.  He says that he must soon return to that
horrid warfare, and that his mother is anxiously waiting me at his home.
He will be alarmed if I do not come; he used many other arguments, till
I consented at last, in spite of all my kind nurse's persuasions to the
contrary."

"It will make me sad to lose you, dear one; but it would be wrong to
disappoint your brave Alp's mother," said Ina, smiling and kissing her
cheek.  "So you must yield to your fate: a dreadful one, indeed, to
become the wife of so wild and handsome a youth as Alp!"

"I wonder when young Ali Bey will be here.  Alp said that he would come
early; but I dread that terrible gallop to his home."

"We will go to the gate and see if he is coming," said Ina.  "Are you
ready, dear one?"

Zara signified that she was prepared for the worst that could happen; so
the two maidens sallied forth followed by old Kahija.  They had not long
to wait when the young bridegroom galloped up, attired in his bravest
suit, followed by a gay and gallant train.  They reined in their steeds
at a short distance; when, all dismounting, he alone respectfully
advanced, and courteously saluted the two fair girls, drawing his sword
as he knelt at Zara's feet, and swearing solemnly to protect her, for
his friend's sake, with his life.  Then, after she had bestowed an
affectionate kiss on Ina and on old Kahija, he lifted her, with the
tenderest care, before him on his steed, and galloped off towards the
domain of Hadji Guz Beg.

"Ah me! she is a sweet flower," sighed old Kahija; "I shall long mourn
her loss.  But what makes me most sad is the thought of the interruption
to the marriage feast.  It is a bad omen, and I like it not.  Ah me! ah
me!  I never knew good come of such things.  And so melancholy a funeral
but yesterday!  And then the brave youths who were killed at the wedding
feast by the fierce Khan and his followers!  Mark me, there is something
more dreadful coming still;" and she retired into the anderoon to
indulge in a flood of tears.

Perhaps Ina might have followed her, had she not promised to meet
Thaddeus and her brother, about that time, and she trusted soon to enjoy
the same happiness which she hoped would be Zara's lot.

Volume 3, Chapter XII.

The vast concourse, which we have described as assembled on the banks of
the Ubin, had long since dispersed to their homes, disappointed at
having performed no great exploit, though they had made several daring
attacks on the Russian troops, with severe loss on both sides.

The short, but rigorous, winter had now thrown its hoary mantle over the
northern provinces of Abasia: the plains of the Kouban appeared one vast
sheet of dazzling whiteness, here and there dotted, in the far distance,
by the dark forts of the Russians.  The trees, so lately covered with
the rich and varied leaves of autumn, now seemed like some fabled grove
of silver, in a scene of enchantment, decked with strange and fantastic
splendour, crystallised by the frost.  A deep and solemn silence reigned
on the wooded heights which overlooked the plain.  Not a bird was heard
to sing in the groves.  Here and there might be seen the footmarks of
some beasts of prey, as they crossed the mountains to seek for food in
the marshes.  The Kouban, whose waters in summer afforded the chief
defence of the Russians against the well-provoked aggressions of the
mountaineers, had now become an even and clear sheet of ice, every day,
gaining consistency and strength.

The invading army, suffering from the inclemency of the weather, had
retired into their winter quarters; and the Circassians, trusting also
to the imprisonment of their enemies by the cold, had withdrawn the
greater number of their guards and scouts.  They had determined not to
be the aggressors, but to endeavour to convince their enemies that they
fought only for liberty and peace.  A general calm seemed to pervade the
whole country, which had so lately been startled by the fierce storm of
war.  The warriors enjoyed their short repose till the returning spring
should again let loose the swarms of their now pent-up foes.  They
passed their time among their families, in tending their farms, or in
the invigorating sports of the chase.

Selem was enjoying some days of relaxation from the toils of war, at the
house of his aged kinsman, in company with Thaddeus and his sister.  He
was delighted more and more with the unsophisticated, but quick and
varied powers of her pure mind, which every day was enlightened by the
conversation of her lover.  How delightful was the task to the young
Pole, to instruct the fair creature he soon hoped to call his own!

Many of the inhabitants of the valley, indeed, wondered that two such
gallant and daring warriors as Selem and his friend had proved
themselves, could find pleasure in passing their time with a mere girl.
"Allah!" they exclaimed, "what odd customs they must have learned among
the Giaours!"

They were interrupted from their studies by the entrance of the little
slave, Buda, announcing the arrival of the Hadji Guz Beg.  Hastening to
the guest-room, they found the old warrior, clothed in complete warlike
costume, and attended by his son Alp, who had torn himself from the arms
of Zara, to accompany his father--

"Rouse up, my son," he cried.  "Gird on your sword, and let your heart
rejoice, for we have in hand work that may be worthy of us.  Those
cursed Urus are not content with our remaining quiet, but they must
enter the country, and burn and destroy our villages.  Mashallah! we
will repay them with a vengeance.  I have messengers from many chiefs,
who are assembling their followers, and now that the ice affords us a
bridge, which the enemy cannot easily destroy, we will make a foray into
their territories, which will give them a lesson to respect ours."

"Wherever you lead, my friend, I am ready to follow," answered Selem.

"Mashallah!  I doubted you not," cried the Hadji; "for see, we have no
child's work on hand now.  There will be no drawing back this time."

"What do you propose doing, then?" asked Selem.

"No less than an attack on the town of Kislavosk," rubbing his hands
with the glee of a youth at the thought of a foray.  "These Russians, we
hear, have collected whole herds of cattle in the neighbourhood, for
provisioning their fortresses along the Valdi Caucasse, and think that
they have them secure enough; but we will deprive them of their dinners,
if I mistake not."

"I would rather have some more noble work than merely carrying off a few
head of cattle," said our hero.

"Ah, when you have lived longer among us, you will not despise such
work," cried the Hadji.  "What do armies in general fight for?  To get
gold and silver!  Are not cattle, to hungry people, of much more value,
and more difficult to carry off?  Men are too fond of making absurd
distinctions where none exist.  The Russians call us robbers, because we
take a gallop into the country they have usurped, and carry off all we
can meet; and they affirm that they themselves are engaged in lawful
warfare when they burn and destroy our villages and fields, because they
possess a regular army, with cannon and ammunition, while we have only
our good steeds and sharp swords.  Such ideas are absurd.  The Giaours
will some day become more enlightened and civilised.  We shall, however,
have fighting enough to please you, my young friend, for think not that
these Urus will lose their food quietly.  No, no, they will fight hard
enough for that; but we will be too quick for them.  And, my friends, we
have no time to expend in talking."

"I will soon be ready to attend you," answered Selem, taking his arms
from the walls, and ordering Karl to prepare his horse for the
expedition.  Thaddeus followed his example, though much loath to leave
his mistress; but he had so completely leagued himself with his
Circassian friends, that he had no further excuse for holding back.  He
himself was also excited by the prospect of gaining the further applause
and confidence of those, in the success of whose cause he had become so
deeply interested.

Alp was in the most extravagant spirits, notwithstanding his regret at
leaving Zara at the thoughts of a foray, on a more extended scale than
any in which he had hitherto been engaged.  The prospect of the renown
he should acquire under his father, and also the hope of gaining wealth
for his fair bride, were further incitements.

"Mashallah!" cried the Hadji; "we shall carry off cattle enough to
supply the whole of Abasia for a year to come."

Ina trembled with alarm when she heard that her brother and her lover
were to leave her, on so hazardous an expedition; having cherished the
fond hope that they would remain in safety all the winter.  But she
remembered that she was a Circassian maiden; and, recommending them to
the care of Heaven, she parted from them with a tearful smile, and a
prayer for their speedy and victorious return.  They repaired, before
they set out, to pay their adieus to their old host, who had, for some
time, been confined to his couch through age and infirmities.

"Farewell, my son," he said, addressing Selem.  "Before you return, I
may be gathered to my fathers; for I feel that I have not long to remain
among my people, though I had hoped to have seen my country restored to
peace ere I died.  But I commend to your guidance a body of my choicest
youths, whom I have ordered to be ready to attend you.  I am now alone
the last chief of my race; my sons have offered up their spirits as
martyrs to their country's cause.  I, too, would have thanked Allah for
the glorious privilege of dying on the field of battle as becomes a
warrior-chieftain; but that blessing I can now never hope for.  When I
am gone, you, my son Alp, will be chosen by the elders of my people, as
the husband of my only child, to succeed me as their leader; that is,
when you have gained sufficient age and experience.  Till then, the
noble chief, Arslan Gherrei, will lead them to battle; and you, Selem,
as a son of our race, I charge to watch over and guard their interests;
for on you, next to Alp, would have devolved my possessions.  Rule them
justly and firmly, and they will faithfully obey you."

The young men promised religiously to obey the old chief's injunctions.

"Farewell, my sons," he said; "I feel that you will not betray the
trust.  And now my only hope is, that I may live long enough to see you
return victorious from this expedition; and may Allah guard you in it!"

As the chief had promised, our hero found, on leaving the house, a
gallant troop of fifty young and hardy horsemen, fully equipped, ready
to obey his commands.  Every man carried provisions at his saddle-bow,
sufficient for several days, considering their abstemious habits when
engaged in warfare.  They were clothed in coats and caps of skin,
wearing over their shoulders thick large cloaks, impenetrable to wet or
cold.  Their rifles and pistols were well protected from the rain at
their back, and they had daggers and long sabres at the waist.  Both the
Hadji and Alp were clothed much in the same manner over their chain
armour, and with Selem and Thaddeus, who were also arrayed in their
winter gear, they set forward at the head of the troop.

The appointed place of meeting was in a valley within the last ridge of
mountains before the Caucasian range descends into the plains, near
where the Kara River, rushing through a narrow and rocky defile, finds
its way into the Kouban.  In that direction they turned their horses'
heads, proceeding steadily and slowly forward, so as not to fatigue
their steeds, and to keep them in the finest possible condition for the
exploit.  At the end of each day's journey, they received a warm and
cordial welcome at the house of some chief.  Through every village and
hamlet they passed, their band was increased by numerous volunteers, all
eager to share the promised spoils of the foe.

On reaching the heights, commanding the valley appointed for their place
of rendezvous, a warlike spectacle broke on their sight.  From every
quarter, bands of warriors were seen emerging from the forests, troop
after troop following each other in gallant array, winding in long
lines, amid the rocks and trees, down the steep sides of the mountain,
and uniting in the valley in a close body.  Their banners gaily
fluttered in the breeze; their weapons shone brilliantly in the rays of
the sun, and increased in lustre as they were reflected in the snow;
their loud and joyous shouts resounded through the air.

As the Hadji and his party rode to the ground, he was received with loud
acclamations of welcome, and his standard was planted as one of the
chief leaders.  Other bands, during the remainder of the day, continued
to pour in on all sides; and soon after, Arslan Gherrei, at the head of
a fine and warlike troop, arrived in the valley, and Selem hastened to
greet his father.  As the champion rode up, mounted on a superb and
powerful black charger, he was welcomed on all sides by enthusiastic
acclamations, most of the independent bands arraying themselves under
his especial banner.

The Hadji seldom aspired to the entire command of an army; preferring
his own desultory and impetuous style of fighting to the responsible and
arduous duties of a general.  He prided himself most as a leader of
bands engaged in a kind of guerilla warfare.

The Seraskier, or Commander-in-Chief, who had been chosen as the leader
of this republican army, was a chieftain far advanced in years, though
still retaining all the vigour and activity of youth.  Of renowned
courage and sagacious conduct, and trained to arms in Egypt from his
boyhood, he had, since the commencement of hostilities, been engaged in
constant warfare with the enemy, by whom he was much dreaded.  He was of
commanding height and sinewy frame nerved by violent and unremitting
exercise; his features were bronzed by exposure on the burning sands of
Africa, his white locks escaped from beneath his plumed helm.  He rode
in the midst of a group of chieftains, who eagerly gathered round him
for instruction and advice.  It was with a glance of proud satisfaction,
that the veteran leader looked round on the bands of warriors drawn up
in the valley, who had so promptly obeyed his summons, issued only a few
days previously, and thus so nobly answered.  It was, in truth, a fine
sight, as the aged hero reined up his steed, waving his hand to request
silence.  Surrounded by all the chiefs and leaders of this little army,
he thus addressed them--

"My noble friends, chieftains of the Atteghei, we have this day again
assembled in arms, roused by the reiterated, and unprovoked attacks of
the Urus.  Seeking alone to enjoy peace and the undisturbed possession
of our country and of our liberties, we have refrained from acting as
the aggressors on those territories claimed by our foes, though unjustly
wrenched from our hands.  Who, among us here, has not suffered
innumerable wrongs and unbearable injuries at their hands, since their
dark eagles first hovered over the confines of our lands?  They have
burned our hamlets--they have cut down our corn--they have trampled over
our rich pastures--they have carried off our cattle; and yet those are
injuries which may be replaced.  But how many of our bravest warriors
have fallen in defence of our country and our liberty!  Who, among us
here assembled, but has lost a father, a brother, or a son?  Still do
the cries of our women ring in our ears for their loss.  Where can we
replace them?  Can our enemies restore the lost ones?  How often have
those among us, whose homes are in the neighbouring lands, been aroused
in the darkness of night by the roar of their cannon, and, with scarcely
time to save their lives, and those still dearer to them, have been
driven to the mountain fastnesses, whence they have seen their
habitations and their goods committed to the flames!  What redress have
we but deep, deep revenge?  Are we slaves, are we Armenian Kaffirs, to
submit to these insults?  No, my countrymen, we are gallant warriors,
descended from a long line of Princes, and of nobles; who have never
bowed their necks to the yoke of slavery, who were chiefs and conquerors
long ere the wolf-like flocks of the Urus broke through the regions of
the north, to seize the rich and smiling lands which surround us.  Shall
we then allow them for a moment to suppose, that weary with our
protracted struggle, we also are prepared to swell their list of
conquests?  Shall we act like the weak and effeminate Georgians, and
tamely submit to be dragged in chains to the foot-stool of their Czar?
Shall we consent to see our children led to slaughter, among the slavish
ranks of their army?  Shall we see our wives and daughters carried off
as worse than slaves?  Shall castles and towers be built on every
mountain's brow, throughout the country, to awe the people into
subjection; for thus only could they hold the lands of the Atteghei?  We
have set them lately an example of moderation, but they would not profit
by it.  Let us now give them a lesson, that may not easily escape their
memory.  Let us remind them that we have not forgotten how to offer a
severe retaliation for injuries; and let us shew them that we are a
nation of warriors, who fear not their force, mighty as it might be, and
that we despise their innumerable hosts of slaves.  Then onward, my
countrymen, onward men of Atteghei, and may Allah prosper our arms!"

This oration of their veteran leader was received with sincere
expressions of approbation by the chiefs, and with acclamations of
applause by the dense mass of their followers who formed an outer circle
round the orator.

"Remember, my countrymen," he resumed; "that the Urus call us
uncivilised barbarians and robbers.  Let us shew them that we have more
humanity than they; that we know `the native rights man claims from
man;' and that never will we defile our arms with cruelty.  Let us treat
their women, as hitherto, with courtesy and kindness, to shew them that
we war not against them.  Let us not stop to plunder the defenceless
inhabitants of their stores except their cattle which we will drive away
to deprive them of the means of remaining in our neighbourhood.  Let us
confine our further efforts to capturing their cannon, their arms, and
ammunition; for it is those we alone require to make our country
impregnable to their attacks.  Follow these rules, strictly obey your
commanders, and victory will be ours.  I have done.  By to-morrow's
dawn, we will begin our march; and before the Russians awake from their
slumbers, we will be beyond their forts."

Again repeated shouts arose, and all promised to obey his injunctions.

The Seraskier then explained to the chiefs his proposed plan of
operations.  First, that the infantry who were composed chiefly of the
peasants of the hamlets, nearest the Kouban--sturdy fellows inured to
border warfare--should be left on the further bank of that river to
cover their retreat, if hard-pressed, and to secure the herds of cattle
they might capture.  That they should advance as far as the town of
Kislavosk, take it by surprise, with the greater number of the cavalry;
or, at all events, endeavour to give full occupation to the Russian
troops, while the rest might drive off the cattle from the neighbouring
country; and then, if victorious, and not pursued on their return, make
a wide extended sweep, clearing everything before them.

The sagacious General himself, as well as Arslan Gherrei, and a few
others, would have preferred confining their efforts entirely to taking
the Russian forts, and endeavouring to carry off their cannon and
powder; but they knew too well, that many of their followers would not
exert themselves to the utmost without their holding out some prospect
of a rich booty; and we must remember, that every man in the host fought
without pay of any sort, finding his own arms, ammunition, and food; so
that it was but natural they should wish for some recompense for leaving
their occupations and farms at that inclement season of the year,
besides the mere satisfaction of annoying the enemy.  They all
understood the necessity of defending their own territories when
attacked; but to make a forage into the enemy's country without carrying
off booty was in their ideas a folly: with the prospect of booty, all
were ready to fight.

Upwards of six thousand horsemen were now collected, chiefly from one
province alone; but among that vast concourse of wild warriors, at this
exciting moment, the utmost order and decorum prevailed, owing to the
courtesy of the chiefs, and the habitual sedateness of the men; though
there was an entire absence of discipline and subordination throughout
the whole host.

Having; received the directions and advice of the Seraskier, the chiefs
separated to put themselves at the head of their respective followers;
to advance towards the Kouban; and, bivouacking close to its banks, to
give time to other fresh reinforcements of cavalry from the further
points to assemble; while the infantry were to advance at once to the
station they were to occupy, and be in readiness to assist the cavalry
in the morning.

At a given signal, the whole body then advanced a few miles towards the
place they had agreed on for a bivouac; entirely dispensing with tents
or covering of any sort, except their thick cloaks.  As each troop
arrived, they piquetted their horses to the low shrubs which grew about
the plain, lighting their watch-fires, which blazed up in the darkness
of night.  For a long time fresh bands continued to arrive every
instant, increasing the widely extended circle of flames, until the
plain seemed dotted with fires as from some volcanic ground.  The hardy
warriors, wrapt in their cloaks, assembled round them listening to the
songs of their minstrels, who never on such occasions failed to join
their bands, and cheer their spirits.

Round one fire, wrapped in thick horse-cloaks, sat the champion, Arslan
Gherrei, with Selem, Thaddeus, the Hadji, and several other chiefs.

"Now, my son," said the old warrior, Hadji, "to-morrow you will have a
field worthy of your bravery, and honour your father by your deeds.
Where the thickest of the fight is, there let your sword be waving amid
the ranks of the foe.  By example alone, can we expect our followers to
be brave; and those nations quickly become slaves to their neighbours,
whose chiefs hang back in the combat.  It is only by being ready to
sacrifice our own lives, that we can secure the liberty of our country;
and how much better is it to be sent to the realms of paradise, than to
eke out a few more years of existence, with the galling chains of the
slave!  But I fear not for you, my son."

Alp rose and took his father's hand.  The act was unpremeditated, and
scarce consciously performed; he knelt by his side.  "Father your son
shall not disgrace you."

The words were simple, but there was a deep tone of feeling, which
showed that he would keep his word.  He took no oath, nor called the
gods to witness his words; and his father was satisfied.

At length, one by one, the party sought a few hours' repose, wrapped in
their cloaks with their feet towards the fire, and their heads pillowed
on their saddles.  The clear sky was densely spangled with myriads of
brilliant stars.  Ere Selem slept he looked round on the scene.  Far as
the eye could reach, the wide heath was covered with the recumbent
figures of the warriors; yet a moment would call them all into fierce
activity, should the Russians draw nigh.  Yet though they seemed so calm
to the eye, who could know the fiery thoughts and passions working in
the brain of the sleeping thousands?  Even now, many in imagination were
engaging in the onslaught of the morrow.

Oft did the image of Ina return to Thaddeus, as he slept.  His thoughts
then flew to his far distant home, the abode of his childhood, the proud
castle of his fathers, now laid low by the hands of his country's
oppressors.  He saw the Eagle of Russia hovering over the slaughtered
bodies of his countrymen, while captives knelt in chains, bound to the
staff of her standard.  In the midst of them appeared a warrior of
majestic front and noble bearing, one who had never bent the knee to
despotism.  As he waved his sword, the chains fell from the captives'
necks, the dead arose, and the Eagles fled shrieking from the land
before the resuscitated band.  Again the scene changed.  He stood once
more before his paternal castle, with Ina by his side.  His faithful
dependants welcomed him with shouts of joy.  He brought them glorious
news.  Russia had been stopped in her headlong career of victory.  She
had retreated before the gallantry of a mountain nation.  Poland might
again be free!

Volume 3, Chapter XIII.

"To horse! to horse!" was shouted about two hours before dawn, and, in
the course of a few minutes, all the warriors of that little army were
in their saddles, formed in close array under their respective leaders,
and advancing steadily forward.  The ground over which they rode was
broken and rough, offering many impediments to their progress; as in
darkness and silence they crossed the Kouban.

"Onward, men of Atteghei," cried the Seraskier, waving his sword; and at
the signal the whole band dashed down the steep, passing a broad belt of
lofty reeds ere they emerged on the now smooth and hard surface of the
stream.  The infantry, who were already posted on the other side among
the thick cover of reeds, reported that none of the enemy had appeared,
or seemed at all prepared for their approach.  The cavalry, in condensed
bodies, then rode boldly forward at a quick trot, encountering for a
long distance merely a few peasants with their cattle, who were quickly
sent to the rear, some light bodies being thrown out on each side to see
that none escaped and to give notice of their approach to the enemy.

The hearts of all beat high, and their eyes flashed with excitement and
pleasure, as the walls and houses of Kislavosk, seen by the pale light
of dawn, met their view.  A cry of joy escaped them, as they urged on
their steeds at full gallop towards the devoted town.  The outer
picquets had no time to give the alarm, ere they were cut down; and
onward dashed the band through the streets, the guards at the entrance
making but a feeble resistance to their furious onset.  The inhabitants,
roused from their slumbers, looked amazed and trembling at the wild
horsemen.  On all sides the Russian troops were called to arms; but
before they could assemble in sufficient numbers to repel the assault,
the cattle, which the Circassians found assembled in great numbers, were
driven off, and a magazine of powder and arms was stormed and ransacked.
Then, like a whirlwind, the whole force again swept through the town.
The inhabitants were spared; but little mercy was shewn to the soldiers
who attempted to form their ranks.

The town, which a few minutes before was wrapped in fancied security,
was now a scene of tumult and bloodshed, as the mountaineers fought
their way through the broad streets, affording slight shelter to the
Russians, who, ere they could bring their guns to bear, found their
assailants beyond their reach; though they saluted them with a heavy
fire from the fortifications.

As the Circassian rear-guard were emerging from the town, the Russian
infantry formed and charged them in line; but the horsemen, wheeling on
a sudden, rushed on them, sabre in hand, with such fury that they were
glad to retreat, losing many of their number on the field.  The
Circassians, also, lost several men; but, as they were struck, they were
lifted on their comrades' horses and carried away.

The town might have been theirs, but they knew that they could not keep
it for any length of time; and all the lower ranks of the Circassian
army were eager to advance for greater booty, notwithstanding the
counsel of the coolest and most sagacious chiefs.  However, they
encountered no cavalry in the town from whom to fear pursuit; and they
had nothing to dread from the infantry.  Onward pushed the band of
mountaineers, passing through several villages, and sweeping all before
them.

Their Seraskier then urged them to return; as now, that the Russians
were alarmed, they might collect an almost overwhelming force from the
neighbouring fortified towns to impede their progress; for, carried away
with the ardour of the foray, the greater number thought of nothing less
than pillaging every Russian settlement on the borders.  Very
unwillingly, therefore, they wheeled to make a circuit towards that part
of the Kouban they had already passed.

Alp Beg had, during the day, constantly accompanied our hero and his
friend, at the head of his troop, making, with them, several desperate
charges on the Russian lines as they had formed, and never failing in
breaking them with his furious onset.  At their return, as the main
body, with whom at the time were Selem and Alp, were passing at some
little distance from Kislavosk, the Hadji, who brought up the rear to
the left nearer the town, heard from some peasants that they had missed
securing several head of cattle, which were still at a short distance
outside the walls.

"Mashallah! what say you, my friends?" cried the old warrior.  "Shall we
let the Giaours still have any beef for their dinners?  Let us shew them
that they must not cheat us in this way.  What say you, my friends;
shall we pay them another visit?  It will take us but few minutes."

The proposition was too much to the taste of all parties not to be
warmly seconded.  Sending, therefore, to the Seraskier to intimate his
purpose, and being followed by about five hundred horse, he made a
headlong dash at the place the peasants indicated.  The Russians saluted
them as they advanced with showers of shot and grape, while the troops
sallied out to meet them; but nothing could stop the impetuosity of
their onset, and they quickly liberated the cattle, driving them off at
a greater speed than the animals had ever before accomplished.

"Well done, my friends," cried the Hadji.  "I told you we would spoil
these unbelievers' dinners; and now, Bismillah! let us charge them
again," he added, as a large body of infantry met them.

Uttering loud cries, they charged the Russians, driving the cattle among
their ranks.  The troops gave way, when they were again saluted with a
tremendous flanking fire of grape; and, ere they had got clear from the
range of the guns, a large body of Cossack horse, who had that moment
arrived from the neighbouring towns, met them at full charge.  Already
had many of their number fallen under the fire from the town; but the
old warrior Hadji, undaunted by the overwhelming force of their new
opponents, shouting his war cry, called to his followers to charge them.

Tremendous was the shock of the two fierce bodies of hostile cavalry,
animated with the most bitter hatred, and excited by the fiercest rage;
but the superior skill, agility, and courage of the Circassians
compensated partly for their inferiority in numbers.  The Cossacks were
arrested in their course; while the mountaineers literally hewed
themselves a road through their ranks.  They discovered, however, when
too late, that they had committed a dreadful error in so doing; for a
fresh body of Cossacks arriving from the same direction, they found
themselves completely surrounded.  The ground they fought on was a broad
open heath, in front of the town, which gave full scope for the larger
body of their assailants to bring their whole force against them.

The main body of the Circassians, with whom was Alp and Selem, on
receiving the Hadji's message, and on hearing the firing, wheeled to
support him.  The first of the band was the brave young Alp, eager to
join the affray, and assist his father.

The Hadji, with scarcely three hundred followers, was bravely defending
himself against several thousand Cossacks, shouting his war cry,
cheering on his men to the attack, who wheeled and charged in every
direction, keeping a complete circle in the midst of their foes, and
placing their horses back to back in such close order that few of the
enemy could get within the brave troop; or if they did, they were cut
down by the inner ranks.  At length, however, the Cossacks seemed
ashamed at being held at bay by so small a body, and charged them with
renewed vigour, hoping to destroy them before the main body came up.
Great numbers of the Circassians fell beneath this fresh attack; though
the remainder fought on with yet undaunted courage.  But even their
gallant old leader looked out anxiously for the succour of their
friends.  They made many fresh, desperate, but unavailing, attempts to
cut their way through, still the Hadji fought on, shouting to his brave
companions, and never for a moment thinking of yielding.

"Ah!  Allah! well done, my sons!" he cried.  "Well done, men of
Atteghei!  See, the vile Cossacks are thinning fast around us.  We shall
soon have a hill of their bodies to ride over.  Fight on, my men! our
friends will be here anon; and then we shall see how fast these Giaours
can fly.  Charge, my sons! charge!  Ah!  Allah! here comes my noble son,
my own Alp.  I knew that he would be the first to rescue his father."

While shouting these cries, the old warrior had made such desperate
charges with one or two followers, that the Cossacks, partly opening
their ranks, again closed before the rest could get up to them, thus
completely hemming him in.  His enemies, who recognised him as one of
the most daring chiefs, pressed hard upon him, endeavouring either to
make him prisoner, or to cut him down on the spot; when Alp, the
foremost of the advanced guard of the main body of the Circassians,
beheld his father's imminent danger.

Not waiting even to see who followed, the young warrior shouted his war
cry, and dashed boldly at the foe, the foremost of whom gave way as they
saw the gallant youth approaching.  But a young Cossack officer, seeing
him advance unsupported, spurred on his charger, and fired his light
rifle at the same time.  For this movement Alp was prepared; and
throwing himself on his horse's side, the ball passed over him.  In a
moment his own gun was in his hand; he fired, but the Cossack imitating
his manoeuvre, escaped his aim.  Urging on their steeds their swords
met, fast whirling round their heads as they were wheeling: and backing
their horses.  Alp, seeing an opportunity, threw up the Cossack's guard,
endeavouring to seize him and plunge his dagger in his heart; but ere he
could effect his purpose, a ball from his antagonist's pistol entered
his horse's neck, and the noble animal fell mortally wounded to the
ground.  But Alp was not overcome; disengaging himself from his horse in
a moment, he sprung like a tiger on his opponent; and, striking him with
his dagger, hurled him to the ground.  Then springing on his steed's
back, and waving his sword, he stayed not an instant to cast a parting
glance at his conquered foe, but led on his friends who had just come
up.

The father and son recognised each other amid the turmoil of the fight;
when, again shouting loudly his war cry, Alp urged on his steed amidst
the thickest of the foe, followed by the few who owned the fastest
horses, and fought his way up to his father's side, shielding him from
the many blows aimed at him, and regardless of those he himself
received.  Desperately did he strive to keep his foes at bay until his
friends could come to his relief.

The old chief was saved; but at what a sacrifice!  The blood flowed from
Alp's side; his eyes grew dim; his head giddy; he could not see longer
to guard off the blows of his enemies.

Selem, at the head of his brave troop, as he saw the predicament of his
friends, charged the foe furiously, cutting down all who opposed him, or
drove them off till he reached the Hadji, who shouted his thanks as the
last Cossack disappeared between him and his rescuers.  But why does Alp
not advance?  Oh!  Allah! where is he?  Alas! behold him now weltering
in his blood beneath his horse's hoofs.  Gasping out his last breath, he
thanks Allah that he has saved his father.  He pronounced, too, his
loved Zara's name.  He is lifted on his horse; but his pulse has ceased
to beat.  The young warrior is no more.  The old Hadji seems like some
aged oak scathed by lightning.  He hears not the shouts of the
combatants.  His own voice is stilled.  He knows not where they lead
him.  One thing alone he sees--his noble, gallant boy a corpse by his
side.  He mourns that he yet lives while the young and the brave have
fallen.

The main body of the Circassians, now arriving, set furiously on the
Cossacks, whom they drove before them; but, pursuing them too eagerly,
they again found themselves exposed to the deadly fire from the town,
showers of grape falling among them, and cutting through their ranks
with deadly effect.  Thus once more they were compelled to retreat.  The
Russian infantry then marched out to support the cavalry, now again
following the Circassians, who, whenever the Russians approached near
enough, would suddenly wheel and charge them, thinning their ranks, and
driving them to a distance.

In this hazardous style of fighting, Thaddeus had much distinguished
himself, as well as in the principal charge, which he had made by the
side of Selem to the rescue of the Hadji.  As they approached the
Kouban, their own infantry coming up, the Cossacks took to flight, and
were pursued with considerable slaughter; but though it had been a day
of victory, it had been a disastrous and dearly bought one to the
Circassians; many of their chiefs, and a great number of their followers
having fallen by the destructive fire of grape, which had played on them
from the batteries; though, in comparison, they had lost but few men in
their encounter with the Cossacks; so superior are they in horsemanship
and the use of their arms.

Arslan Gherrei rode up to the side of his brother chieftain and old
friend, to endeavour to offer some consolation.

"Nay, nay, my friend," said the veteran warrior, "I mourn not for my
son.  Allah is merciful, and has sent him to Paradise in the midst of
victory.  And what nobler fate could I wish for him?  I would that I too
had died with him!  For what was he born?  For what have I bred him up a
warrior, but to die for his country?  There will be weeping and wailing
enough among the women when he is brought home.  Alas! for his bride!
her heart will break.  And his mother!  It is a sad day for them.  But
I!--no, I cannot mourn!  My heart's feelings have long since been dried
up.  I grieve not for his loss."

The low husky voice, the contracted brow, and expanded, but tearless eye
of the old chief, sadly belied his words.  He spoke no more as he rode
on, except to issue some short orders to those of his followers who
remained alive.  His thoughts were hidden in his own breast; but there
was an expression of concentrated agony in his stern features, which
shewed too well that a father's feelings were working strongly within
him.  Near him rode his squire, guiding the horse which bore the young
warrior's body and arms; and every now and then the father would cast a
glance full of deep meaning towards it.

The army encamped that night on the same spot they had occupied on the
previous one; stationing, however, picquets to give timely warning in
case their enemies should attempt to follow.  The Russians, however, had
received that day a sufficient lesson to learn that the Circassians were
foes not to be trifled with.

That night, no minstrels tuned their harps round the watch-fires; nor
did the warriors indulge in tales of their exploits; but, as soon as the
horses were sheltered and fed, and they had partaken of their own frugal
fare, wrapping themselves in their cloaks, they snatched a few hours'
repose after the fatigues of the day.

As Selem, who took his place at the fire near which the Hadji had thrown
himself on the ground, watched the old warrior, he saw many a convulsive
throb pass over his frame.  Then he would start up, and sit gazing on
the burning embers, his thoughts doubtlessly resting on his slaughtered
son, his white hair streaming over his stern and wrinkled brow, with
mouth firmly set, and his hands clutching his snowy and flowing beard.
He might have been compared to some aged oak, whose trunk had been
scorched and riven by the lightning's forked flash, yet refusing to bend
beneath the tempest's power.  A true patriot's motto is, "I may break,
but bend not."

Volume 3, Chapter XIV.

The next morning, as soon as the first streaks of light appeared in the
east, the whole assemblage were on foot, all anxious to return to their
homes.  The division of the booty, an important affair, was first
adjusted; the leaders of the different bands shared according to the
number of their followers, among whom it was again to be divided; and,
as the cattle were driven off by those to whom they were awarded, by
degrees the whole of the force melted away.

A curious spectacle was presented, as the different bands wended their
way in warlike guise in every direction along the valleys, and up the
mountain's sides, driving the untractable cattle before them.

To some, also, were awarded arms and powder, according to their
necessities.  The various other objects of booty, (and among them, a few
Cossack prisoners, who were destined for slaves), had been thrown into
the common stock, to be equally distributed.

The Seraskier, though still treated with the deepest respect by all, was
now left without an army, except of his own immediate followers, every
man who had composed it considering himself perfectly at liberty to take
his departure when he wished, though equally ready to return, for any
fresh expedition.

The chiefs parted from their leader with a respectful and affectionate
farewell; he returning to his cottage and his farm, like another
Cincinnatus, to till his land with his own hands.

A considerable share of the spoils was awarded to Thaddeus, much to his
surprise and satisfaction; and the partition being arranged, he, with
Selem, and Arslan Gherrei, prepared to accompany the Hadji in his
mournful procession towards his home.  Their sad journey was, of
necessity, as rapid as possible, waiting only at night, to snatch a few
hours' repose, and borrowing fresh horses to proceed.  The Hadji's
nature seemed changed by the blow he had sustained; before lively, and
full of anecdote and conversation, he now spoke not, nor smiled, and
seemed to be dreading the burst of grief and agony, which his arrival
with the dead body of his son, would cause among those most dear to him.

As they approached his grounds, the body was taken from the horse, and
laid out on a bier, formed of branches cut from the neighbouring trees,
over which a cloak was thrown, and the arms of the deceased placed by
his side.  No sooner did the cavalcade appear at a distance, slowly
winding their way down the valley, than the women rushed out to meet and
welcome them on their return from victory.  Among the foremost came
Zara, eager to clasp her young hero to her arms.  The chaplet she had
woven to crown him fell from her hands; a sad foreboding seized her, and
as she saw at a distance, that they bore a bier, her eye wandered
anxiously round for Alp.  She missed him from among the horsemen.  She
sprang wildly forward.

"Where is he?" she cried.  "Where is my Alp?  Why comes he not with you,
warriors?"  She caught sight of the bier.  "Do you bear him there
wounded?  Oh, speak!  Tell me, is he there?"

"Daughter," said the Hadji, "Allah has taken my son."

She seemed to hear him not, as she rushed forward.  She lifted the cloak
from the face, before any one could prevent her.  She shrieked not; she
did not swoon; but, with a fixed gaze of despair, she stood like a
monumental statue, bending over the corpse of her slaughtered husband,
as cold and inanimate as he.

At length, she seized a hand; it fell heavily down.  She pressed her
lips to those cold and lifeless ones, as if to find that breath still
animated them.  She seemed scarcely conscious what death was.  It was
long ere she was convinced of the reality; yet no tear escaped her eye,
no sob, her heart.  Her soft and gentle nature was fearfully changing.

"Who did this?" she cried.  "The savage Urus! well I know their work!
Alp, you shall be avenged!"  Again she stood silently over the corpse,
rigid and immovable.  None could find it in their hearts to disturb her,
until the mother of the slain youth arrived to bewail, with frantic
grief, her loss, joined by the other women of their household.  Their
cries and shrieks rent the air.

"My son! my son!" cried the distracted mother, "why hast thou been torn
from me?  Could not some more aged warrior have satisfied our foes?  Why
hast thou been cut off in the prime of thy youth?  Wai! wai! wai!  Was
it for this that thou wast reared, the boldest, the bravest, the most
beautiful?  No more shall I hear thy joyous laugh resounding through the
groves, or see thy graceful form bounding on thy steed, across the green
meadows.  My son! my son!  Curses on the foes who have slain thee!  May
they, like me, be made childless!  Can they give me another son like
thee?  Bear him along," she cried to the attendants, "bear my son to our
home, that I may mourn over him.  Wai! wai!"

The followers of the Hadji carried the bier of their young lord as
ordered; the women leading Zara, who seemed like one in a trance, her
eye resting alone on the bier; yet she faltered not in her steps, nor
did a word escape her.  Her grief was too deep for words or cries.  Her
heart was not broken; gentle and soft, as she seemed, it was of too
tough a texture for that; though none, not even she herself, would have
deemed it so.

We know not of what nature we are, until we are tried.  She would have
thought that she could not have borne the sight of blood, or the
slightest misery, without sinking beneath the blow: but now, alas! she
knew herself.  Her heart, in a moment, was seared and blighted, as by
the breath of the dark simoon, in an instant, the traveller is
overwhelmed and scorched.  Her breast was now hardened to feelings of
pity, and burnt with vengeance against those who had deprived her of her
loved one.

Such are the cursed effects of war.  Let the victorious conqueror look
around beyond the dazzling scene, and the gorgeous pageant which attends
his triumph, and he would shudder, were he to see the agony, the
hopeless despair, of one alone out of the thousands, of whose misery he
is the cause.  The heaps of slain are as nothing; the eye soon grows
accustomed to gaze on them: the feelings become familiarised with the
sight of blood, which first sickened at the thought.  The slain have
played their game of life, and are at rest; but it is those who watch
anxiously for their return, who suffer: the fond parents, the doting
wife, or mistress, the affectionate sister--it is their loving hearts
which are wrung with anguish--it is their curses which blast the
laurel-crowned brow of ambition!

The Hadji accompanied his son's body to the door of his home, where he
saw it committed to the charge of the youth's weeping mother; ushering
his friends into the guest-house, he insisted on performing the duties
of hospitality.  After these had been accomplished, he called for his
horse, and rode hastily away into the neighbouring forest.  There,
unseen by the eye of any, he gave way to the grief and torment of his
breast.  "The boy died for me!  Oh!  Allah! that I might have been in
his place!" he cried, in a burst of agony.

Selem with his father and several other chiefs remained to pay the last
sad respects to the gallant young hero.  The funeral cry sounded through
the woods with a deep and thrilling solemnity; all the women of the
neighbouring hamlet assembling to increase the melancholy wail.

In about two hours before the sun sunk low, the Hadji returned; the body
of Alp was then brought out from the house, round which a large
concourse of people had assembled, to accompany it to its last
resting-place.

The cemetery was on a terrace, on the side of the hill; a beautiful
spot, where grew the Cyprus and the plane-tree, shading the tombs of the
brave warriors who there lay at rest.  A venerable bard, with sightless
orbs, was led up by his attendants, at the moment the bier, borne by six
youths, the companions of the deceased, was brought out.  He took his
station at the head of the procession.  His mother and other women
followed weeping; and Zara, in a trance-like state, neither weeping nor
speaking, walked on mechanically; her eye not for an instant withdrawn
from the body of her betrothed.  The Hadji next followed, with a firm
step and erect posture; a slight movement of the mouth, and a contracted
brow, alone betokening his mental agony.  Arslan Gherrei and the other
chiefs supported him on either side, followed by the inhabitants of the
hamlet.

As the procession moved slowly on, the aged minstrel tuned his lyre to a
low and plaintive strain, his voice trembling as he sung: at the end of
each verse, the mourners joining in chorus with a melancholy cadence.
As they approached the place of sepulture the words were to the
following effect, continuing to be chaunted as the mourners stood round
the grave:--

  Mourn, children of Atteghei, mourn for the brave,
      Whose heart with true glory beat high.
  Weep, weep, as ye lower him into his grave,
      No more to the charge will he cry.
  His father to rescue, amid the thick foe,
      He flew as they hemmed him around;
  When a treacherous shot from afar laid him low,
      And bleeding he fell to the ground.

  Weep, weep, for the hero, the pride of our land,
      Who ne'er from the foemen would fly,
  As he fought 'mid a host who outnumber'd his band,
      His falchion was waving on high.
  And his battle cry raising, he charged them so well,
      As the dastardly foe pressed around.
  His sword drank their blood, and e'er bravely he fell,
      Full many had bitten the ground.

  Lay the hero to rest who so bravely hath died.
      'Mid the clust'ring ranks of the foe,
  "And his glittering falchion part not from his side,
      As calmly he slumbers below."
  He was found where he fell, 'mid the heaps of the slain,
      His weapon still grasp'd in his hand,
  Which faithfully serv'd him, and there shall remain,
      For who is more worthy that brand?

  Weep, weep, for the hero who rests in his grave,
      And ever be sacred the ground,
  Nor let it be trod by the foot of a slave,
      While his spirit still wanders around.
  And fondly shall ever be cherished his name,
      As his deeds by our minstrels are sung,
  With the martyrs who won the bright chaplet of fame,
      O'er his fate shall a halo be flung.

  The warrior maidens of Atteghei mourn.
      Ah sad was the grief of his bride!
  When home on his war-steed from fight he was borne,
      As fainting she fell by his side.
  Wreathe fair chaplets of flowers to hang round his tomb,
      Weep, weep, for the youth's early fate,
  And when to bewail him, as yearly you come,
      The deeds of the hero relate.

  [Note] _Vide_ Poems by T. Moore.

There was a deep and solemn silence as all that remained of the young,
the brave, and the truly-loving Alp was lowered into the narrow grave
yawning to receive him.  As the body reached its final resting-place,
this silence was broken by the sobs which burst from his mother's breast
and from the women who accompanied her.  Even hardy warriors, who never
thought or dreamed of fear, and seemed steeled to all the softer
sympathies of our nature, were moved to tears.  As the first handful of
earth was thrown on the uncoffined body, all present knelt down circling
the grave; and the aged bard, his hands raised on high, offered up
prayers for the soul of the deceased young warrior.  Then, joining their
voices, the assembly petitioned heaven for its quick passage to the
realms of bliss.  The venerable sire now arose from his knees, and in a
deep and solemn tone thus addressed the company:

"Men of Atteghei, another victim has been offered up to the enmity of
our hated foes; a sacrifice well worthy of the altars of Liberty; for
who more brave, who more noble than he?  Gentle as a lamb in peace,
daring as a lion in war, loved by his friends, dreaded by his foe, who
is here that loved him not?  Who would not have been ready to shelter
his life with his own?  Why then was he taken from us, cut off in the
flower of his youth?  Why, my countrymen?  Because the most noble altar
demands the noblest sacrifice; and what altar is more noble than that of
Liberty, and where a fitter victim than he for whom we mourn?

"His fate is glorious and happy.  Even now his spirit is ascending to
the realms of bliss, while we, still loaded with our mortal chains,
mourn his loss.  Yet still, many, many more sacrifices must be made,
before our country can be free from our detested foes; but think not
that our warriors will die in vain.  Even now I see dimly and
indistinctly, an era approaching, when our enemies shall be driven from
the confines of our territories, far back to the barren lands whence
they came; and our country, freed from oppression, shall rise above her
former state and take her place among the nations of the earth."

The oration being concluded, again they knelt in prayer, while the earth
hid the heroic Alp for ever from the sight of those who loved him.  A
slab of stone was placed on his grave, over which was erected a light
building of wood, sufficiently large to shelter those who would come on
the anniversary of his death to offer up prayers, and to commemorate the
gallant actions of the young warrior.

The bereaved Zara was led to her home; and, for many live-long days, she
sat, motionless, regardless of all around her.  Stunned and bewildered
by her grief, she constantly brooded over her loss.

The Hadji appeared to have recovered from the shock sooner than the rest
of his family: but many observed that the elastic spirits of the old man
had flown for ever.  A change had come over him.  His whole thoughts and
attention were given to forming plans for defeating the Russians, and
defending the country against their attacks in the coming spring.

So different is man's grief, for a loved lost object, to that of a
woman!  He has resources whereupon to employ his mind and his energies.
The fierce excitement of war, the ardour of the chase, the banquet, the
council, and a hundred other objects offer opportunities to distract his
thoughts; while she has alone the remembrance of her loss.  If she
applies herself to her domestic duties, still the thought of her
bereavement will intrude; and oft will she stop amid her occupations, a
convulsive sob bursting from her heart, as the image of the lost one
appears to her mind, and she thinks of that which was, but which now no
longer exists.

Volume 3, Chapter XV.

Our life is full of sunshine and clouds, smiles and tears; and it is as
foolish to expect at all times to possess the one, as it is to repine
that our lot in life must be sprinkled with the other.  Thus, how great
a contrast did the reception awaiting the warriors in the valley of
Abran Bashi form to that which they had experienced in the vale of
Gazlan; when Ina, blooming as the roses of Gul, flew across the lawn, as
she caught sight of her father's gallant train winding down the vale.
She was now followed by all the wives and maidens of the hamlet, eager
to welcome the return of their husbands, their fathers, and brothers,
and to recompense them for the toils of war, and the dangers they had
incurred for their sakes.

Throwing himself from his horse, Arslan Gherrei folded his daughter in
his arms, as she flew to meet him; tears, how precious, of pure joy
filling her bright eyes, that he was again restored to her in safety.
We will not attempt to describe the meeting of Thaddeus and his fair
mistress; but well did he feel himself recompensed for having espoused
the cause of her country.

Death had not been idle in the valley since their absence.  The
forebodings of the venerable Prince, Aitek Tcherei, had been fulfilled;
full of years and honour, he had been gathered to his fathers the day
after their departure.  He had been buried with all the ceremonies
prescribed by custom; and his clansmen were now about to select one as a
successor worthy to lead them to war, or to preside at their councils in
time of peace.  By the aged chieftain's dying will, delivered to the
elders of his tribe, Alp was to succeed to his possessions; or, failing
him, they were to descend to Selem, so that, by the sad death of his
friend, our hero found himself possessed of considerable wealth.

The elders and principal men of the tribe assembled to discuss the
important subject, when the eyes of all were turned on Selem.  His
bravery in the field and his courteous manners had won even their
hearts; and by choosing him, they would not only have a gallant and
sagacious chief to command them, but it would prevent any of those
jealous feelings which would too probably spring up, should they elect
any one of those actually living among them.  Without a dissentient
voice, therefore, Selem Gherrei was elected to command their brave and
numerous tribe.  Our hero was now, in every sense of the word, a
Circassian Chief; and a truly brave and noble one did he prove himself.

We must now draw rapidly to the conclusion of our story.

The trees once again put forth their leaves; the fields were enamelled
with flowers; the birds sang in the groves; and all nature wore an air
of renewed life and activity.  The winter had passed away.  The
Circassian husbandmen on the borders, girded on their swords, and slung
their rifles on their backs, as they toiled in their fields--prepared at
a moment's notice to resist any inroad of their foes--to sow corn,
although 'twas doubtful whether they might ever reap the harvest.  Bands
of warriors were moving; towards the frontiers, to be in readiness to
repulse the Russians, at whatever quarter they should make their first
attack: and in every direction, messengers were galloping across the
country, to carry information from one chief to another of their own
plans, or of the enemy's movements.  Great stir had been observed among
the troops on the Kouban, and the number of all the Russian garrisons
was increased; but it was impossible to say what were their intentions.

The early spring also saw the happiness of Ina and Thaddeus completed;
the chieftain no longer withholding his consent, on Selem's making over
to his friend sufficient property to maintain his bride as became her
rank.  A Polish priest also was found to perform the ceremony, according
to the rules of the Christian church; this exile with many of his
countrymen had lately made their way to Circassia, where they were
certain of a friendly welcome from those who could so well appreciate
their wrongs and sufferings.

Selem therefore had the satisfaction of seeing his sister married
according to the forms he considered essential, when he committed her
into the hands of his friend.  The religion of Arslan Gherrei was too
tolerant to object to his daughter embracing that of her husband,
particularly when Selem undertook to explain to him the sacred bonds it
enforced, and in how superior a state it placed her, than would have
been her lot had she become the wife of one of the native chiefs.  The
chieftain much admired this in theory, though he confessed it was what
his countrymen in general would not approve; for it gave far too much
power into the hands of those whom they looked upon in the light of
property, and which their lords and masters would lose, should the fair
sex once learn to consider themselves as having equal liberty and
rights.

The youthful couple enjoyed, for a short time, the utmost felicity which
is allowed to the most fortunate on earth.  They were truly happy in
themselves, and their present lot; for they did not--they would not--
think of what change the future might bring forth.  Each day they
thought that they had discovered some new charm in each other, something
more to love.  On their marriage, they had returned to the house near
the sea, where we first introduced Ina to our readers; and often would
they wander together down the valley, to the very edge of the deep blue
main, which lay calm and lovely at their feet.  As they gazed on its
translucent wave, they little thought that its treacherous surface might
bring whole hordes of their foes upon them.

Selem, whenever he could tear himself away from his important
occupations, came to be witness of their happiness; but he was mostly
occupied in accompanying his father in excursions through every part of
the country to rouse the lagging, to animate the weak-hearted, and to
induce all to take the oath of amity to the patriots, and eternal enmity
to their foes.  Where ever they moved, they were accompanied by other
influential chiefs and elders, and were received with respect by all.

Those, who formerly thought themselves free from the danger of attacks
by the Russians, were roused to join their country men in more exposed
districts; and others, who might have been induced by despair to sue for
peace with their overwhelming foes, were excited to renewed exertions,
to defend their country to the last.  Many made voluntary promises to
muster under the standard of Arslan Gherrei, the moment it should be
raised for whatever expedition he should think advisable.

Hadji Guz Beg constantly accompanied his friends in these expeditions;
his enthusiastic exhortations adding considerably to the excitement of
the people.  At his own home, he scarcely ever remained, for he could
not bear to hear the loud and constant repinings of his wife for her
lost son; nor to look on the grief stricken Zara.

She, poor girl, continued incapable of exertion, and unexcited by aught
around her; her thoughts dwelling alone on her lost Alp.  It was at
length thought, that change of scene, the novelty of the sea, near which
she had never been, and the affectionate embraces of her early friend,
might arouse her from her stupor.  Ina received the youthful widow with
an affectionate greeting, but could not refrain from tears as she
contrasted the time they parted, when she was borne away from her a
joyous bride, with the melancholy of the present; her young hopes
blighted, and he, whom she loved, lying in his early and ensanguined
grave.

The tender endeavours of Ina, could scarcely rouse her from her
apathetic indifference to all terrestrial affairs; Zara could only
return her kindness with a faint smile of thanks.

Arslan Gherrei was now less reluctant to be absent from home, knowing
that he left his daughter with one able to protect her; and, at this
time, Selem had just arrived to pay his sister and friend a visit,
before they moved to a habitation further inland; for, as the spring
advanced, it was feared the Russians might attempt a landing on the
coast.  The numerical strength of the tribe beneath the sway of Arslan
Gherrei had been dreadfully reduced by war and plague, so that when he
led forth his warriors to battle, scarcely enough remained to protect
his territory; on which account, the preceding year, he had removed his
daughter to the house of his kinsman, the late Prince Aitek Tcherei.

Volume 3, Chapter XVI.

A lovely and bright spring morning had induced Selem and his friend to
seize their guns and sally forth at dawn of day, in search of game.
They had wandered long over the sweet scented heathery hills, fresh and
pure with the sparkling dew; when they heard loud shouts behind them,
and saw Karl running to overtake them.

With a face of consternation, he said that he had just seen from the
highest mountain in the neighbourhood, where he had been to cut wood, a
large fleet standing, towards the coast, which his fears told him, must
be that of his much dreaded countrymen.

"It will be a day of fighting, my friends," exclaimed Selem, as with
Thaddeus he flew rapidly towards the house.  "We must die, rather than
let our foes set foot upon our strand, where, if they once get footing,
it will cost us dear to drive them off."

They did not even venture to enter the anderoon; but, seizing their
arms, and summoning as many warriors as they could collect on the
moment, they rushed to the shore, thoughtless of the overwhelming force
of the foe, and determined to defend it to the last gasp.  As they
emerged from the valley to the sands, a sight met their view, sufficient
to appal the stoutest heart among the brave mountaineers.  As far as the
eye could reach, the smooth sparkling sea appeared covered with the
lofty and wide spreading canvas of the Russian ships of war and
transports, advancing slowly and proudly towards the devoted coast.

The Circassians gazed with deep anxiety at the hostile flotilla, feeling
how small was their chance of successfully opposing the landing of their
foes with the small force they had collected.  Selem, however, sword in
hand, flew amongst the small band, encouraging and urging them boldly to
withstand their enemies.

"My countrymen, my brave friends," he cried, "if we allow our foes to
land, our destruction, and that of all those dear to us, will be
certain.  Let us, then, heap our dead bodies, to impede their progress,
until our countrymen can assemble to fill our places; and let us rejoice
that we can make an offering of our blood for the liberty of Circassia."

"We will follow you to the death, noble chief.  Wherever you go we will
go.  Allah will protect the right!" was exclaimed on all sides by men,
who, as they drew their sabres, swore never to yield.

The fleet approached in a crescent form.  The smaller vessels, leading
and running in, anchored as close to the land as the depth of the water
would allow, presenting the frowning battery of their broadsides to
shore.  The largest ships followed, while the transports formed in line
outside; and, no sooner were the sails furled, than hundreds of boats
issued from among them, advancing steadily forward in close line.

Even the heroic Selem felt that it was an act almost of madness to
oppose so overwhelming a force; and, for a moment, he hesitated to
sacrifice his people's lives in so hopeless an attempt.  But his
resolution returned, and he determined to risk all, rather than fly.

At that instant shouts were heard in the woods above them; and a band of
chiefs--on their journey to the north, at the head of whom came the
Hadji and his brother--were seen galloping towards them.  There was
scarcely time to exchange the warriors' brief greeting with their
welcome friends--the number of the whole amounting to a few hundreds
only, while the approaching boats contained several thousands--ere the
fierce combat commenced.

The band of Circassians, mostly chiefs and renowned warriors, remained
sheltered behind the trees, until the boats came near enough to enable
them to take certain aim, when they opened a rapid and deadly fire from
their rifles, taking the Russians by surprise, and throwing them into
some disorder; but, notwithstanding numbers fell wounded in the boats,
they soon rallied and again advanced.  As the keel of the headmost boat
grated on the beach, Selem and the Hadji, calling to their comrades,
drew their sabres, and, with a furious onset, rushed towards the enemy.
Before the first Russian had time to set his foot on dry land, he was
hurled bleeding into the sea.

As each of the headmost boats came on, they were received with the same
desperate valour; and as, with their lifeless crews, they were thrown on
shore, they served as ramparts to the defenders to shelter themselves
from the fire of the aftermost ones.  Still the enemy advanced in
constant succession, like wave upon wave, towards the beach; but with
such heroic bravery did Selem and his friends meet them, that the first
part of the detachment was completely destroyed, the rest keeping off
until more boats should arrive from the ships.

For the Circassians, however, it was a fearful struggle, to oppose their
small band to so overwhelming a force; and more so, when those on board
the ships of war, seeing the powerful opposition offered, commenced
firing on friends and foes alike.  Yet, though several of the patriots
had fallen, they fought on undaunted.  In a short time, however, all the
boats came up, extending their line, when a body of troops effected a
landing before they could be opposed.

As the Hadji caught sight of them, "Allah!  Allah!" he cried, "down with
the foes of Circassia.  None such may place foot here.  Allah!  Allah!"
And, calling to several of his companions, he furiously charged them;
but, notwithstanding his utmost bravery, he and his followers were again
driven back to the chief scene of conflict, closely pressed by the
enemy.  In the mean time also, on the other side, another body of troops
had landed.  The Circassians found themselves almost hemmed in; but they
did not give much time for their enemies to form; for a party attacked
them with almost despairing fury, and kept them from approaching to aid
the disembarkation of the other boats.

The patriot band was thinning fast; the most determined spirits among
them, hoping only to sell their lives dearly; the strand was already
strewed with their bodies; a dark red line of human gore fringing the
pure ocean.  Still in desperation they fought on.  They thought of their
wives, and of their children, and they strove not to die unavenged.

The image of his young wife presented itself to Thaddeus; and,
commending her to the care of heaven, he bravely fought with renewed
courage by the side of her brother.  Yet now all hope had fled, when a
shout was heard from the mountains rising high above the rattle of the
musketry, the roar of cannon, and the clash of steel.  Issuing from the
grove, a numerous party was seen rushing with speed to the spot, headed
by a female, brandishing in her hand a glittering sabre.  It was the
widowed Zara leading on her band of peasants against the Russians, who
retreated before the fury of the onset, her followers hewing down their
foes on all sides.  Her life seemed charmed; for she guarded not
herself, as she rushed into the thickest of the desperate fight,
shouting to her followers, and with her slender arm dealing
death-bearing blows around her.

For a considerable distance along the coast, many separate engagements
took place where-ever any boats attempted to throw the troops on shore;
those who were left, while the boats returned for reinforcements, were
cut to pieces; for the defenders were too few to attempt making
prisoners.  Seeing that affairs were in this desperate state, the
Russians sent every boat they could launch from their ships of war and
transports, filled with troops, to the assistance of those already
engaged; the brigs at the same time running so close in, that their
keels touched the ground.  These vessels opened a galling fire, aiming
over the heads of their own people, at the defenders of the soil.  But
the Circassians were by far too eager to allow the manoeuvre to be of
much avail.  Closing and grappling with their enemies the moment they
came on, and fighting up to their waists in the sea, as they rushed
forward to meet them, the shot from the ships, made equal havoc among
both parties.

The Russians now saw that it would have been better policy to wait,
until all their foes had collected on the beach, before they commenced
firing; when, after playing on the crowds of Circassians, they might
under cover of their guns, have sent in their boats without molestation.
As it was they had been dreadfully cut up without making good their
landing.  They now attempted to repair their error at the sacrifice of
their own people; but that signified nothing if they could ultimately be
successful.

Selem, the moment he could turn his eyes to see what was going forward,
after defeating those directly opposed to him, observed Zara amid the
thickest of the fight, encouraging, and leading on her followers to the
attack; he hastened towards her, fearful for her safety, and endeavoured
to withdraw her from the bloody scene.

"Think you that the life of my husband does not require some sacrifice
at my hands?" she cried.  "The blood of all these base slaves would not
repay one drop of that which flowed in his veins.  Who is more bound to
avenge his death, than his wife?  I have nothing to fear.  Hinder me not
from the holy work."

Breaking from him, she rushed again towards the enemy.  Karl, however,
who had followed her, and who did not like to fight against his own
countrymen, remained by her side, merely warding off the blows aimed at
her; till at length, his choler rising, he returned the blows himself,
with interest.  Selem saw that it was hopeless to hinder her; and the
utmost energies of all were now required to repel the fresh attack.  As
the boats pulled rapidly towards the shore, the enemy's soldiers, urged
to desperation by the fate of their comrades, and by the instigation of
their officers, threw themselves into the water with bayonets ready
fixed, and charged the Circassians.  But, as before, the active
mountaineers grappled with them, leaping between their bayonets, and
stabbing them with their short swords.

The termination of the contest, however, still remained doubtful, for at
one spot, less obstinately defended, several boats made a dash at once,
and succeeded in throwing their troops on shore, where, forming, they
charged the Circassians on their flank with so much courage, that Selem
began to fear their heroic defence would have been of no avail.  At this
critical moment, a loud shout was again raised behind them; and,
turning, Selem beheld his father, at the head of a band of warriors,
breaking through the wood, and galloping over the sand.  A fresh and
desperate charge was now made against the Russians, who were driven with
great loss, to their boats.

The boats that were already afloat pulled off, the most desperate
fighting now ensuing; the Russians, attempting to shove off their boats,
while the Circassians, surrounding them, hauled their crews into the
water, cutting down the soldiers who offered further resistance; but the
foemen, at length when they found themselves left to their fate, ceased
fighting, and sued for mercy.

A great number of prisoners were taken, the Russians losing more than
half the number of troops they attempted to land.  Many of their boats
were also left wrecked on the shore.  No sooner did those from the ships
see that their troops were completely defeated, than they again
commenced a tremendous cannonade on the Circassians, who, collecting
their dead and wounded, retired within shelter of the woods, where they
could watch the enemy with less exposure of their lives.

Selem looked round anxiously for Zara.  She had escaped unscathed.  Her
sword--it had been Alp's--was grasped in her hands, yet reeking with the
blood of the enemy, as slowly she retired, unheeding the shot then
falling thick around and laying many low in the hour of victory.

The patriots watched their enemies with lynx eyed vigilance, lest they
might make a second attempt at landing.  A constant firing was kept up
from the wood, in all directions, at the retiring boats, and on the
vessels, which they could reach with their rifles, making them glad to
get beyond their deadly aim.  The enemy had learned a sufficient lesson.
In a short time, the boats were hoisted in, and that vast flotilla,
which seemed capable of overwhelming the Circassian territories, stood
out to sea, defeated and discomfited, by a mere handful of determined
mountaineers.  So truly will patriotic courage withstand tyranny and
injustice!

Loud shouts arose from the gallant victors as the dark eagles were seen
flying far out to sea; and all that part of the country was, for the
present, relieved from the baneful shadow of their wings.  But, like the
destroying angel of the Egyptians, wherever they had passed, they left
grief and mourning in their track, for many of the brave patriots had
fallen.

Selem, with a party of the most humane, as soon as the ships had got
under weigh, repaired to the beach, where he found, mingled with the
wounded Circassians, several of his late opponents still lingering.
Deep was the gratitude of the poor fellows, when they heard themselves
addressed in their own tongue; and when he ordered them to be conveyed
to the hamlet, and tended with care.

None of our friends among the chiefs had fallen; but Thaddeus had
received a wound sufficiently severe to require the whole of Ina's
attention and fond care.  Many months elapsed before he could again take
the field; and Ina might be excused if she scarcely regretted his
confinement.  He has since proved himself a true champion of his adopted
country; and we trust that his gallant sons may, in a few years, follow
his noble example.

No sooner had the tumult of the fight ceased, than Zara's excitement
also vanished; and, overcome by the unnatural exertion she had
undergone, she sank to the ground, her hand relaxing the grasp of her
weapon, which she would not before quit.  In this state she was borne to
the house of Arslan Gherrei.  She recovered; and sank no more into her
apathetic state.  But her nature, her very appearance had changed;
though her eye was even brighter than ever.  A hectic flush--one crimson
spot--grew on her thin and wan cheek: her lip was pale, and her voice
lost its soft, sweet melody.  Like the warlike brides of her ancestors,
wherever the foe approached, there was the bereaved young widow to be
seen amid the thickest of the fight, her heroic courage animating her
countrymen, and spreading terror among the ranks of the Urus.  Where the
carnage has been most dreadful, blood flowing like water from the
pent-up fountains of winter when let loose by the warmth of spring,
there has oft the young Amazon been seen rushing on amid the slain
unscathed, unhurt; bearing, it seems, a charmed life; and, if she would
forget her griefs in death, she cannot; the leaden showers fall thick,
the sharp steel flashes around her in vain.

Many follow her as an inspired being sent from heaven to lead them to
victory; and the foes, as they hear the war shout of her followers, and
see her approaching, fly, terror-stricken before her.  The fire of
revenge for her slaughtered love still burns unquenched within her
bosom.  Death--death alone can ever extinguish its consuming flame.

That noble champion of his country, Arslan Gherrei, still leads his
followers to war; and may he be spared to enjoy the blessings of peace,
which he so well deserves, and the happiness of his country, for which
his heart so yearns.

Even now also is the war shout of the fierce Hadji heard in the thickest
of the battle; and though his tread has lost its elasticity, his arm
somewhat of its nerve, still well does he deal his blows amid the
enemies of his country.  May just Heaven shield the good and brave old
man from the weapons of an invading enemy!

And Selem, our hero--yet does the image of the loving, the murdered
Azila, dwell within his bosom.  He has not forgotten his vow.  Terribly
does he fulfil it.  But the end is not yet accomplished.  His only
bride, his earthly love, is his country; and what more exalted or holy
feeling could possess his breast?  Still does he energetically strive
for Circassia's welfare; and never for a moment, does he regret that he
exchanged wealth, rank, and heartless dissipation, gilding the chains of
despotism, for his humble cot, and liberty!

May every philanthropist join us in earnest hope and prayer, that
Circassia may not share the fate of Poland.

------------------------------------------------------------------------

THE END.





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