« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
and mainly of that bigoted and ag- and nothing but mast on his tattered gressive form of it which is known lap, and to see a hundred fat round as Muridism. Even so, they are fellows, who had come into his land nobler, braver, more patriotic, and quite lean, laughing and joking at loyal to their chiefs, as well as of his own door, with the milk of his finer presence, and greater activity best cow at their lips, and the kids and industry than most of their of his flock coming up to them in neighbours on the west and south, sniffs from the fires where they were who suppose themselves to be roasting, this he assured me—and I Christians.
could quite believe him—turned his My father, Sûr Dadian, as here- empty digestion into bile, and the ditary chief of the Kheusurs—a love of his native land into a hollow tribe now dwindled from its former ache. And this very feeling, in a strength — commanded for many higher form, cost my dear father his years their division in the army of valiant life, and left me and my the gallant Shamyl. Our people sister orphans. did not share of course that fury of You may have heard of the Islam, and blaze of the crescent, defeat and slaughter of an entire which scorched the Russians by Russian column, under the great the thousand out of the dark Prince Dorougoff, which our gallant ravines of Daghestan. Neverthe- mountain forces, with my father less we stood up for ourselves, second in command, accomplished with the muzzle of a gun at every most effectually. Everybody knows elbow of the rocks; and if all the what glory and renown accrued to sons of Islam had been as faithful to the stout Imaum through this ; but their great Imaum, as the Cross was, all of our men who were present the Russian flag would never have declared that my father deserved waved over Guinib, in Shamyl's life- the main credit. The Emperor of time.
Russia had grown impatient, and The Russian plan was to press us sent impetuous orders that his army hard, throughout the summer and should advance at once into the autumnal months, with ten men heart of the defiles, and crush the perhaps to every one of ours; to rebellion—as he dared to call it, encourage us most benevolently to though we never had been his subsow our land and tend it, and then jects—at one mighty blow, and for to rejoice and renew their strength ever. The Commander replied that with the pithy marrow of our corn, he would march His Majesty's army and the juicy fibre of our flocks and in, but never would march it out herds. A man loves his country on again. And according to that the very same principle on which answer, so it was. Our men behe loves his mother; but if he can came tired of slaughter, although never taste what she is like, he they had many a long year of suffermight just as well have a step- ing to avenge. mother. Neither was this the only As might have been expected, loss of satisfaction year by year. the mountaineers grew careless Our men, as I have heard them after this great victory, and left tell, when I was old enough to join many of their passes open; for the them, felt even worse than their stubborn foe had recoiled, and own loss the rich gain of the enemy. appeared unable to do anything To sit on a rock, just out of shot- more until the following season. as many a dauntless Avar told me My father went home to see to his —with glacier water for his drink, affairs, and to secure a new supply
of rities, for he had brought from like a wing.flap from wall to wall,
, Koorbashi a score of those skilled and departing in the distance, like workmen of Genoese descent, who an echo climbing stairs. They for accuracy and finish can hold spurred to know what it could their own with the best gunmakers mean, and they found Sûr Dadian in the world. All Shamyl's best dead on the neck of his horse. troops were armed with weapons I had not seen my father more procured from these admirable than half a dozen times, so far as artisans, and the clumsy muskets childish memory goes; but he was of the Russian force were quite always kind and loving, and very unfit to cope with them. Stepan gentle with us. We had lost our has one of those Koorbashi rifles, mother before we knew her; and which you would find it hard to Marva and myself, twin children, match in London, either for beauty had been sent from home, we could of design or for excellence in shoot- not tell when, to be educated at ing. But alas they were all muzzle- Tiflis. There our father had some loaders, or the Caucasus might have old friends, and being so seldom at been Caucasian still.
home, by reason of this perpetual Karthlos Tower, where our fam- war, he had done the best he could ily had dwelled for many gener
I was placed in the Gerations, takes its name from that man town on the left bank of the same descendant of Noah who Kur, and under the care of a founded Mischel ; and standing on learned man, famous even in the a mountain plateau, with chasms "City of many tongues" for his abrupt and vertical cleaving the knowledge of all useful languages. land to immeasurable depths, it is He had several English pupils, and safe against all hostile powers, ex- admiring Shakespeare as the Gercept treachery and famine. Among mans do, he made us almost as the labyrinth of ravines no stranger familiar with English as if we were could ever find his road ; and if born to it. But Marva, my sister, chance at last brought him to the had her education in the school of winding access, discretion would a French convent on the other side hurry him shuddering away.
For of the river. Twins as we were, many a black muzzle would look and pining long at this unnatural down upon him, and if he escaped severance, the force of events, and all those, a score of yellow ones the power of education, drove us would confront him at the final further and further apart, until the crest, and of tenfold size – brass early divergences of tastes and disartillery from Koorbashi.
positions became so hardened and It was growing dark in those widened that our mutual love was cloven depths, though the sun was weakened. still hovering upon the upper world, The murder of my father-for it when my father rode round the last could be nothing else-occurred in sharp jag at the foot of the ascent the autumn of 1852; but it was not to Karthlos. The survivors of his known in Tiflis until three months war-dwindled force were only a few later, for the city had long been in yards behind him, lounging on their Russian hands, and Shamyl's victired horses, and scarcely caring to torious troops allowed very little keep up the burden of their home- communication. Even when known, ward song. Then when their leader it was kept from me, for some time was round the point, they heard longer, as I have reason to believe, the roar of a heavy gun, swinging by order of the College authorities. At last I knew it by a letter from this, and not cold inhumanity-as Shamyl himself, or written by his strangers to our race imagined orders for he dispensed very which drove him into those brutal largely with literature — which it acts, which disgraced the name of took me a long time to make out, Avar. Whether he believed in his for I had almost forgotten the Avar Divine Mission to restore the glory tongue. How he smuggled it to of Islam, and extirpate the infidel, me, I know not; but at last I or whether he laughed in his sleeve understood it to this effect. at that most useful delusion, I never
“Young Imar, the son of Dadian. could decide. As a Christian, and The Russians have slain thy father a well educated youth, I thoroughin cold blood. Thou art now the ly disdained such stuff; but while Chief of the Kheusurs. Thou art contemning the Muridist and the not of Islam; but if thou hast any Imaum, I fell more than behoved blood in thy body, come without me perhaps under the influence of delay, and have thy just revenge the patriot. For I was but eighteen upon the accursed heathen. Shamyl, years of age, and as yet quite a child
a a the Imaum.”
among men of action, though foreWhat youth of spirit and health most of the students in philology and strength could hesitate for an at Tiflis, and even in bodily strength hour? I had many Russian friends and activity equal to the best of at Tiflis, and all of the higher rank them. made light of the barbarian tumult, My presence at first was of seras they called it, among the distant vice to the cause, only as securing mountains. They begged me at the assistance of my tribe, who had least to wait until the truth of the no share in Islam, and would have Muridist outlaw's words could be deserted very promptly without my properly established; for they said presence among them. But before that he could outlie a Greek, or long I proved myself a valuable even an Armenian. But I broke recruit, and was advanced to a comfrom them all, bade farewell to mand among the scouts; upon whom Marva, and in shorter time than in that war of surprises and sudspace required, presented myself to den encounters much depended. Shamyl.
Although I hated and scorned the That Hannibal of the East was religion of our chief, I shared his now at the acme of his fame and patriotism, and admired his valour power. Though not of great stat- and genius, while often wondering ure, or winning aspect, or even ex- at the forbearance he showed to an emplary cleanliness, he possessed “unbeliever.” This I owed to his and exercised that gift of forcing sense of honour, as I learned long the wills of others into the channel afterwards, inasmuch as he had proof his own, which makes a man's mised my father, his old companion course historical. He had piercing in arms, that he would never make eyes, deeply set and overhung, and any attempt to convert me, if I a swarthy complexion, and strong were allowed to join him. Then harsh features, enlivened sometimes suddenly he fell in my esteem, for with a smile conveying a boyish and I found out that he had lied to me. rudimental sense of humour. But So zealous had I been in military let any one rouse his temper, and matters, and so eager to qualify mythe Demon of the Mountains, who self for command, that for two years haunts the crags of Kazbek, could I never went home to Karthlos not rave more furiously. It was Tower, the proper abode of our
I never cared for form and do with them, although their vilfuss, and the earthly division of lages lay near us on the West; for God's children into two creations- the Russians kept a fortified post the high-born and the low-born between us, where their main road half— for perhaps there are more crosses the mountain-chain, and we who knew their Father in humility, scarcely regarded them as brother than in proud estate.
Christians, though that did not preIn my youth I never thought of vent us from having plenty of such things, to which convention private feuds with them. And drives us, but simply divided the now this man of an inferior race, men around me into hearties who and a poor one too—for they throve would fight, and poltroons who ran principally upon goats-had dared away ; and of the latter there were to make up to my twin-sister, and but few. The Steward at the Tower marry her, and demand her herihad supplied me with all that I tage ! wanted in those rugged times; and And this was not the worst of it, in the hot vein of my patriotism, a for as soon as I entered Karthlos, crust and an icicle seemed enough my good Steward, Kobaduk, a very for a soldier to subsist upon. But faithful servant, told me that benow I was compelled to return to yond any doubt Rakhan, the Osset, Kartblos by a strange thing which had compassed and probably with had come to pass, while I was in- his own hand committed the murder tent upon war alone.
of my father, Sûr Dadian. I re. Marva, twin-sister of mine, and plied that the Imaum himself had in childhood dearer than my little assured me that the Russians were self to me, had defied all authority; guilty of that crime, and this had and when that did not avail, had impelled me to quit all friends and outwitted it, and vanished from the hurry without going home to BodConvent-school at Tiflis. And my
And my lith. But he spat on the ground, first news of it was a strong de- our peasants do, when they mand for her portion of the patri- hear of a black deception, and soon mony, from the man who had run proved to me that the Czar's troops away with her.
This was the were guiltless; and not only so, Chief of an Osset tribe, who had but that Shamyl the Tartar—as he never joined in the war, but waited was frequently called in contempt for the final issue; in which even -knew as well as Kobaduk did, we who kept it up could have little that there was not a Russian withconfidence, unless the great Powers in miles of Karthlos, when that in the West, now at enmity with cowardly shot was fired. MoreRussia, would send us speedy and over, the foremost of my father's effectual help. And I knew that men who had spurred along the dethis Osset Chief had been a here- file, made oath that he saw a white ditary foe to my father.
globe whirl away where the crags His name was Rakhan, which is broke apart in the distance, and he I believe of Tartar origin; and he put his jaded horse to the utmost showed signs in character and in speed, all in vain among darkness features too of kinship to that wide- and precipices. Now every one spread race. But his father had knows that no Russian soldier, and been of pure Ossetian blood, and the Ossets alone in our part of the now he was acknowledged Chief of range, can be found with that a certain wild, and semi-Christian hideous head-gear flapping, a sheeptribe. We had never had much to skin puffed out into a ball at the
top, like a great white onion at the snow-river at last, and appear at end of a stick. And there was the entrance on foot, as if we exother evidence as well as this. pected to be shot at.
My twin-sister, my only near of Nobody shot at us, chiefly perkin, for my father had no other haps because few of them had children was I likely although learned the way to shoot; but she had acted thus, to rob her of a there was not one of them who single copek? Nay rather would required any lessons in the art of not every one of mine be at her staring. And to think that such service ? At the same time, could people looked down upon us ! All any son endure that his good father their houses had hideous towers, should be robbed not only of life as if their lives were spent in but also of a third part of his pro- looking out from the tops; and perty by a scoundrel of inferior my heart went low, as I thought race, who had stolen his daughter of my lively and lovely sister for that very end. Thereupon I Marva, who had been brought up was compelled to believe for like a French girl almost, extincharity is by St Paul described as guished and deadened among such the greatest of Christian virtues, clods. And I had not even the but he does not appear (though a chance of learning how she liked native of Cilicia) to have travelled the lot she had cast for herself. in the Caucasus, as Peter did, other. Perhaps she may have seen me wise never could he have retained from some tower— for they have enough of that virtue to describe it narrow loops instead of windows—young as I was, the conviction but she never showed her face to grew upon me that Prince Rakhan, me, nor sent me any message. the Osset, had murdered my father, We shouted, and made noise Sur Dadian, because he had refused enough to fling all the rocky echoes him his daughter Marva. Instead into a Babel of dispute with one of answering the letter therefore in another, and if we could have found which he demanded his portion, I the butt end of a tree, we would set forth with a few troopers well have made a rush for and rammed armed to pay him a visit in his the heavy gate. At last a surly stronghold at Zacca, near the foun- fellow put his head out at a looptains of the Ardon river.
hole, and rubbed his eyes as if we Some parts of our own land are had broken his repose. I did not desolate enough, but this country understand their language then, where the Ossets lived had scarcely though I came to know it aftera tree to make the world look wards; but some of my men made living; and having had no war in out this delivery — "Sons of the their neglected places to civilise Evil One, ye shall not robus. them with the passage of guns, The noble Prince Rakhan is far they seemed to be quite outside off; but we will fight until he all knowledge. Yet to my sur
returns. Ye will be slain by prise, they looked down upon our thundering guns, unless yo cease race, which we for generations had this uproar.” been wont to do to them; and with We could not believe that Osset better reason, as all others will ad- robber; for the people of the village mit. We rode very fine Kabarda had told us that the Chief and his steeds, which are the best of all the bride were both at home; but I Caucasus, but we were obliged to tore a leaf out of my order-book, leave them in the bed of a little and wrote a letter upon it, and