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252

REGARD OF CIRCASSIANS FOR THE DEAD.

scarcely at the distance of three miles from those of the Russian general, and appeared certainly far more picturesque than comfortable. The council-ring, over which Haud Oglu Mansour Bey appeared to preside, was seated on the grass, under a spreading tree. It was engaged with the case of a spy who had been detected and seized in the act of escaping into Anapa. The deliberations had been interrupted by the sortie of the Russians; but, it having been repelled, they were now resuming them as quietly as if nothing had happened, and yet the morning had proved an eventful, and to many a fatal one. They were joined at every instant, by chiefs returning from the fray; others, begrimed with smoke and dust, were performing their ablutions in the stream, while parties were engaged in carrying away the dead and wounded, equally the objects of their solicitude.

There is no trait in the Circassian character more deserving of admiration than their tenderness to the dead—the poor relics of mortality that are unconscious of it. If one of their countrymen fall in battle, numbers rush to the spot, that they may carry off the body, and the heroic struggle that ensues, as common an incident in Circassian battles as in other times on the plains of Troy, involves frequently the most disastrous consequences. The Russians have endeavoured to turn

CARE OF CIRCASSIANS FOR THEIR DEAD.

253

this feeling to account, and their soldiers have been ordered to mutilate the corpses of the enemy, that it may be still further available. But it may be questioned if such measures, so congenial to the taste of a Zass or a Willemineff, be more consistent with sound policy than humanity itself, or if the momentary advantages to be derived from them can at all compensate for the feelings of execration kindled against the authors of them throughout the Caucasus. One of the litters, with a corpse on it, happening to pass where the council was seated, they rose, and Mansour beckoned to the bearers to set it down.

The winding sheet, as it was gradually unrolled, displayed the handsome and beardless face, the slight and graceful limbs, of a youth of sixteen, and on being further unswathed, the lower part of his body was seen frightfully lacerated with grape shot. It seemed he was not quite dead; for his eyelids were slightly quivering, though his closed lips and placid countenance shewed him to be insensible to pain. The single lock of hair, long, black, and glossy, flowing from his Mussulman scalp, was another proof of his youthfulness, a melancholy ornament to the bier on which his gallantry had prematurely extended him. The most rugged of the veterans now collected round it were touched with commiseration.

66 It is all over

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RESPECT FOR STRANGERS' PROPERTY.

We were very

with him," said Mansour. “Take him to the maidens of his district, poor lad, that he may be decently buried. I answer there will be wailing enough over him.”

We were now invited to take our seats in the council-ring, in which I beheld many faces that were familiar to me—Keri Oglu, Khass Demir, the Prince of Wana, and others. cordially received; and on representing the danger to which I thought my property was exposed, Haud Oglu undertook, for the rest of the assembly, to give me every security for it. “The person and the property of the guest,” said he, “ have ever been held sacred in this country, and will continue to be so. We have a proverb which says, • It is Allah who builds a nest for the stranger bird,' and we should be the last, professing to be true believers, to dispute such an ordinance. You behold us reduced to great extremity, but, God be thanked, we are still honest men and good Mussulmen. Why otherwise do we now endure every privation and hardship, when the gold of the Muscovite would, if we sacrificed our consciences, enable us to live in peace and luxury."

It happened singularly enough that when Mansour was expatiating on his countrymen's integrity, they should be joined by a chief who was generally suspected of corruption and secret intelligence

INDAR OGLU AND THE COUNCIL,

255

with the Russians. He rode up to the assembly, attended by a single follower. From the ease with which he alighted from his saddle, as well as the change in his dress, now consisting of the coarse wrapper of the Circassian warrior, we had some difficulty in recognising our friend of a hundred winters, Indar Oglu. When we had last seen him, he appeared to be an infirm old man, comfortably clad, and surrounded by domestics. But the stirring times that had supervened seemed to have revived the energies of his youth. On the approach of the Russians, he had Aung aside his staff, mounted his horse, and taken the field at the head of his retainers; but having found his unaided efforts of no avail, he was then engaged in superintending the removal of his household, and his flocks and herds, to the mountains. The proofs he had lately given of devotion to the cause of his country had, it seems, emboldened him to resume his long-vacated seat in its councils, or perhaps, as they were now held in his immediate neighbourhood, he deemed it inconsistent with his safety and his dignity to absent himself.

Be this as it may, his experiment was an unfortunate one.

On his first appearance, conformably with the spect that is invariably shewn to age, the whole assembly got up and saluted him; but the silence and constraint which his presence subsequently

254

RESPECT FOR STRANGERS' PROPERTY.

We were very

with him,” said Mansour. “ Take him to the maidens of his district, poor lad, that he may be decently buried. I answer there will be wailing enough over him.”

We were now invited to take our seats in the council-ring, in which I beheld many faces that were familiar to me-Keri Oglu, Khass Demir, the Prince of Wana, and others. cordially received; and on representing the danger to which I thought my property was exposed, Haud Oglu undertook, for the rest of the assembly, to give me every security for it. “The person and the property of the guest,” said he, “have ever been held sacred in this country, and will continue to be so. We have a proverb which says, • It is Allah who builds a nest for the stranger bird, and we should be the last, professing to be tru believers, to dispute such an ordinance. YC behold us reduced to great extremity, but, God } thanked, we are still honest men and good M sulmen. Why otherwise do we now endure eve privation and hardship, when the gold of the M covite would, if we sacrificed our conscien. enable us to live in peace and luxury.”

It happened singularly enough that when sour was expatiating on his countrymen's integri they should be joined by a chief who was gener: suspected of corruption and secret intoe

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