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84

BEAUTIFUL SCENERY.

ings, effected principally by burning, were in progress wherever we came. Judging from the number of cottages, which, though we might vainly have sought for them below, were from our elevated position visible enough, and scattered over it in every direction, the country must have been very populous. After enjoying for some minutes the wide spreading prospect of the plains, we plunged into the forests which separated us from them. The descent was at first steep and gloomy, but we emerged at length into a more open and champaign country, threading as we proceeded a succession of romantic glades.

One of these in particular, less perhaps from its intrinsic beauty than the contrast afforded by its character of deep seclusion to the open magnificence of the scenes I have just described, produced an effect upon me I may well call magical, certainly which no scenery had ever done before. Gradually opening to the breadth of about a hundred yards, it was folded on each side by a low, steep, and woody amphitheatre of rising ground, beyond which nothing was visible but the cloudless azure above, rivalled only by the hues of the emerald with which the floor of this natural or ry was suffused. Indeed, the holiness of this sequestered spot had been felt and confessed many ages ago, as was testified by an immense and moss

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grown' cairn, the chosen abode of rest of some rude hero of antiquity, raised at its further extremity.

From the centre of this tumulus, overshadowing it in every part, and not unlike the plumes that form a canopy to the hearse, rose a cluster of gigantic beech trees. I was engaged in the survey of this interesting object, when our party, who were somewhat in advance of me, were suddenly hailed with the customary salutation of “ Was haf she,(or Bon voyage,)by another troop, consisting of five horsemen, who issued from the neighbouring woods. They drew up their horses, and came to a halt on both sides, and I observed that many of my own party advanced, and gave successively a fraternal embrace to the leader of the opposite one, as to a countryman returned from foreign parts. Looking at him as I approached, I thought I must have seen him before ; and on a closer scrutiny, I felt rage fast getting the better of discretion, as, notwithstanding his change of dress from the Turkish to the Circassian, I recognised, beyond a doubt, the person of our determined enemy and malignant traducer, Nogai Ismael. I could see that the traitor studiously avoided to encounter my eye; I therefore rode up to him, and asked if he had forgotten me. Upon

86

MYSTIFICATION.

which, affecting to recollect himself, he saluted

me.

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I saw the time was not yet come for an explanation, but I was determined not to part from him without one, and I accordingly kept my eye upon him. As he was himself proceeding to the National Assembly, at Adhencum, he had no excuse for not joining our party, and therefore accompanied us; but towards the evening, as we were approaching to the house fixed upon for our konag, he suddenly struck off, at full gallop, into a jungle to the left. But, resolved not to lose sight of him, I followed, as fast as my horse could carry me, the same path, and being better mounted, quickly overtook and detained him. soon joined by the rest of the cavalcade, who appeared much surprised at my impetuosity. I was now prepared for the worst, and determined, come what might, to bring things to an issue.

But this was not so easy as I imagined, for Nogai again flatly denied having circulated the reports attributed to him, and on appealing to those who escorted me, and almost all of whom had alluded to them, they appeared suddenly to have lost all recollection on the subject, and even the Hadji, who had interpreted for them, seemed to think there must be some mistake. Truth, I per

We were

TRUTH DISCOUNTENANCED.

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ceived, was an object by no means admired here for her abstract charms,-ever welcome when in good company, that is, with safety and advantage on her side, but as resolutely discountenanced when attended with any mischief or loss, and whether it be, as some writers suppose, because of more difficult attainment, readily sacrificed, as in the present case, for peace and quietness.

It will be seen, moreover, in the dissertation I mean hereafter to enter into, with respect to the tribes and institutions of the Circassians, that their tendency, from the complexity of the relations they introduce among them, is to render them a nation of diplomatists.

Thus unexpectedly baffled, I was compelled to digest my indignation as well as I could, though by no means moderated, as may well be supposed, by the grin of triumphant villany with which Nogai told me I would have full satisfaction from him at Adhencum.

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A CIRCASSIAN HAMLET.

CHAPTER V.

Opening of the campaign-The gathering of the Circassians to

oppose their invaders-Grape shot — The medjilis, or national council— Meeting with Mr. Bell.

The konag where we passed the night was a collection of a dozen or so of cottages, which we might call a village, but for the circumstance of their being tenanted by one family, or rather, the different branches of that family, to the second and third generations, all flourishing together, and connected with the same parent stem. In the western provinces, I have never met with different families residing in the same locality; and I believe this isolation is owing to the mountainous and broken character of the country itself fostering that jealous spirit of independence which makes every man

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