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covered with corn and millet enclosures, we came to another clump of trees at the entrance of a cleft in the mountains, and making our way through these, we found ourselves in the yard of our konag. Except in the direction we had come, where it was screened by thick foliage, it was hemmed in on every side by steep hills, clothed to the top with verdure, peeping as it were one above the other on the sheltered cottages at their feet; the highest of them was the conical hill I have already alluded to.

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THE GUEST-HOUSE.

CHAPTER III.

The guest-house-A Circassian dinner-Impression created

by my arrival-Odd notions—Condition of the sex- -Circassian beauty- Presents.

Our Konag Bey stood ready to receive me, and leading my horse opposite to the guest-house, assisted me to alight. He then ushered me into the house, and with his own hands relieved me of my arms, and hung them against the wall. A silken couch had been spread for me in a corner of the room, on one side of the hearth; at the head of this was a pile of cushions: with the exception of these, and a mat and cushion laid down for the Hadji, there was no other furniture in the room ; but the walls, gleaming with the weapons of the . guests, presented anything but a naked appear

THE GUEST-HOUSE.

43

ance. For some time, everybody remained standing but myself; after a short silence, the words of welcome were exchanged, when another pause took place. Our host then desired the principal guests to sit down, but at first on no account would he be seated himself; after repeated pressing, however, he crouched himself down at a respectful distance on the floor. I have been thus minute in detailing these ceremonies, as they mark the reception of a stranger in every house in Circassia. The room itself was of an oblong shape, eight yards by four; the walls were constructed of stakes and hurdles, plaistered on each side with a coat of light-coloured earth; the floor was of hard earth, which I observed was every now and then carefully watered

The thatch above, supported by rafters in a triangular form, descended from the roof over the walls in large projecting eaves, serving in summer for verandahs. Extending from the walls almost to the middle of the room in a semicircle of about two yards in diameter, and at three or four feet from the ground, was a huge chimney; it contracted itself towards the top in the shape of a bell, and perforating it at the gable, rose a few feet above the roof.

So spacious are these chimneys, that there is hardly one of them without a swallow's nest, where,

and swept.

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THE GUEST-HOUSE.

unmolested by the fire beneath, they enliven the apartment by their constant twittering. They are made of the same materials as the walls; indeed, all manner of building, including bee-hives and water-closets, is of basket-work. It is speedily set fire to, and with the assistance of friends, who never refuse a helping hand on these occasions, almost as speedily rebuilt. With such neighbours as the Russians, it is perhaps well that architecture has made no great progress. Under such circumstances, a man feels less reluctance in deserting and firing with his own hand, if necessary, his habitation, the preservation of which, in more civilized countries, so commonly involves the sacrifice of liberty.

After we had been some time seated, a large bowl of a beverage the Tartars call boza (in Circassian, souat) was presented to me by my host; it is a mixture of fermented millet seed and honey, - thick and slab,” and exceedingly nauseous, I thought, though drinking it out of complaisance to my entertainer, who watched me closely, to see that I did not flinch, and during the evening renewed the charge, bowl in hand, at least a dozen times. Dinner, or, more properly speaking, supper, which constitutes their chief meal, was served after sunset. It consisted of a series of dishes, re

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