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There was another motive, too, which may also have had its influence over him—his former indis'cretions and equivocal transactions with his Russian friends he probably thought might be cancelled by the zeal he now displayed in favour of the English. The former had been his bane; the latter he looked upon as his antidote.

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266

MY MERCHANDIZE.

CHAPTER XIII.

My merchandize, and the bartering of my agent-His roguery

-Elopement of my female slave-Influence of the Koran-
The fugitive recovered—Women in Circassia.

It having been determined that we should proceed to the house where my merchandize had been deposited, in order to make new arrangements for its safe custody, the chiefs conducted us thither in a body. The goods had been removed about ten miles up the river, and we ascended, therefore, its broad and stony bed, till we halted at an angle, where, as it grew narrower and steeper, we came to the house in question, completely sheltered by a grove of large chesnut-trees that overhung the banks. The distance from the Russian camp was not great, nor the road difficult, and I was advised to remove my stock to some less accessible quarter.

DISPOSAL OF SALT.

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I there found my rascally agent, Imam Oli Hadji, and immediately relieved him from the charge he had shewn such a disposition to abuse. My next task was to examine the merchandize. I found that the salt, partly on account of the difficulty of transporting it, and partly from the knavery of the Hadji

, who had given it away in order to make friends for himself, was more than three-fourths gone. I determined, therefore, to make presents of the rest, as, on account of its scarcity, it was the most acceptable thing I could give away. The Circassians depend entirely for their supply on the Turkish traders, and the risk attending the commerce secures a profit of five or six hundred per cent. I had, of course, very little trouble in disposing of it in this way. I declined, however, giving it to those who were importunate, and desired our interpreter to offer it to such of the chiefs whose delicacy prevented them from asking for it. Among these was Mansour, who accepted it very thankfully, it being an article he had long been in want of for the funeral banquet of one of his relations, which had in consequence been delayed. Still he begged I would let him have it privately, lest the donation should create jealousy. We may judge from this incident how very precarious the influence and authority of the most popular chieftains must be. The remainder of the

268

ROGUERY OF MY AGENT.

merchandize, consisting of cotton-piece goods, was duly counted, and I thought by this means I should have a check on the Hadji; but he proved too cunning for me-he had only abstracted a portion from many of the pieces, so that the number appeared complete.

For part of the stock, exchanges had already been effected; they consisted of wax, butter, and fox-skins; and lastly, in lieu of three hundred and fifty pieces of cotton cloth, whose value was now represented by her, a buxom damsel of seventeen. As for the former articles, they were, as far as I could judge, a good investment; but with respect to the latter, I must confess I felt rather puzzled, and meanwhile I proceeded to the harem to take a survey my property. It proved, as I had been told, a very fair venture, and but for a slight claret tinge on the forehead, which somewhat affected the price, altogether unexceptionable. But the poor creature seemed very much frightened. My villain of a Hadji, finding she was to be taken out of his hands, had, out of sheer malice, been exciting her most vivid apprehensions, telling her we were unbelieving cannibals, from whom she was not to expect the courteous cherishing of honest Mussulmans, but who were sure ultimately, whatever might be her fate in the interim, to roast and pickle her. To pacify her alarms, I withdrew from

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the harem, leaving instructions to have her kindly attended to. It appeared, however, from what subsequently occurred, that she had by no means recovered from her fright.

Having satisfactorily, as I thought, adjusted all these matters, I sat down with Mr. Bell and our venerable konag, Shamuz, to our evening repast. The day had been sultry, and our ride over the stones of the Pchat fatiguing; but the foliage, now waving around us in the night breeze, imparted a balmy freshness to the atmosphere; while the rural aspect of our new quarters, contrasting with the warlike appearance of its occupants, presented a scene of mingled interest, at once soothing and exciting to us. The herds, driven in from the pasture, had partly filled the court-yard, scampering hither and thither with a troop of children and dogs at their heels, emulously engaged in the operation of folding them; a number of half-veiled, loosely-clad dowsabels, of truly Amazonian proportions, (reminding me we were actually in the land of the Amazons,) were busily at work over their milkpails. Mingled with these, reposing on the green sward, collected in clusters, or sauntering about the yard, were the stalwart and martial figures of the mountaineers, some washing their hands and feet for the evening namaz, some engaged in its graceful evolutions, some with their short wooden

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